The Avid Makers – Katie’s Sheath Dress

Hello! I’m Katie, and I feel very honoured to be writing my first blog post for The Avid Seamstress on their website of wonderful things.

I love how chic a lot of the Avid Seamstress patterns are, and so many of them are staples for your wardrobe that could be made up in a variety of fabrics and colours. I chose to make The Sheath Dress – a stylish and tasteful slim fit garment. I love that this design can be dressed up or down and adapted to almost any occasion (perhaps with the exception of a grand ball, if you happen to be invited to one of those). I also want to highlight that the invisible zip instructions were by far the best I’ve come across. I imagine we all struggle every now and then with an invisible zip, and I’m very pleased with the result of this one, by following an excellent method!

I decided to choose a relatively plain fabric, making the dress suitable for both daily workwear but also to be accessorised for days out. I bought this light to medium-weight blue/grey cotton from Simply Fabrics (Trimmings & Haberdashery) in Brixton. I was a little hesitant after purchasing it, thinking it might be too plain, but in fact, it just emphasises the simplicity of the dress, and that’s one of its best features.

For the sizing, at the waistline, I graded between size 1 and 2 so that the bottom half was size 2 for a better fit. I thought of being a bit optimistic with all size 1, but that would have probably meant less wear of the dress, and trouble sitting down without a disastrous ripping sound!

The one bit I found a little fiddly was neatening the neckline facing either side of the top of the zip. 

As my fabric doesn’t have any give, it wasn’t happy with lying flat at first, but a few discreet stitches seemed to help smooth it down.

In this blog post, I thought I would share a few ideas on how to add different trims to the dress if you also wanted to make it in a relatively plain fabric but add a little twist to it.

Idea 1: Trim around the neckline

I have had this bright gold interlocked trim laying around for a long time and have used bits of it here and there to add a Chanel-style feature to garments. On The Sheath Dress, I have sewn it around the neckline, using a zig-zag stitch. Take care when sewing around the curve, so as not to pucker the neckline.

Idea 2: Pom-pom trim around the sleeves

Now, this is certainly a little more informal! But having recently sewn with a pom-pom trim for the first time on some cushion covers, I’m a bit hooked with their charm. By choosing a subtle pastel colour, they’re rather cheeky peeking out from under the sleeve cuff and would make the garment a fun day dress.

Idea 3: Ric rac trim on the outside pockets

The Sheath Dress pattern comes with the option of having front outer pockets for a more relaxed style, and I love the youthfulness they bring to the dress. For the third trim idea, I’ve added some black ric rac trim over the topstitching line of each outer pocket to make them even more of a feature. It’s understated, but enough to give the dress an alternative look to the version with inner pockets only.

If I were to make it again, I would love to try making this pattern in something like a velvet fabric to make it a perfect, yet simple-style, party dress. Also, for me personally, I would have preferred to take the time to raise the waistline a little, as I like a dress waistband to sit higher up. Perhaps I’m just forever trying over-ambitiously to give the illusion of longer legs…

The Sheath Dress is a lovely Beginner make, and the printed versions of The Avid Seamstress patterns come in such lovely packaging with a really handy instruction book full of hints and tips.

Message from The Avid Seamstress team: This is so fab and so creative Katie, we love your style. Thank you for showing The Sheath Dress with outer pockets – it looks so great!

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