Sunday, 1 July 2012

Battle of the Prom Dresses: Simplicity vs New Look

Summertime is weddings, parties, BBQ's and lunches = I need a prom dress.
In the battle of the prom dress patterns, several members have constructed real beauties. Vicky made New Look 6723 and Marilyn made Simplicity 2588 and both were lovely dresses.  I decided to try my hand at two simultaneously; New Look 6723 and Simplicity 1873.

Simplicity 1873 is very similar to the famous Barbara Tfank dress Michelle Obama wore when she visited Buckingham Palace in 2011. My mother gave me some of her vintage mint green brocade to make my own, less regal, version.

Simplicity 1873 made by RK in green brocade 'Michelle Obama' style

Simplicity 1873 very similar to designer Barbara Tfank's 2011 brocade prom dress, 
as worn by Michelle Obama on her visit to Buckingham Palace

This pattern has a 1.5cm seam allowance (apparently). The bodice is lined and designed to be loose fitting. However, I had to bin the first bodice because it would not fit once the zip was attached. Number 2 had an extra 1.5 inches added to the ribcage and was a perfect fit. My advice? Make a muslin if, like me, you are not a Simplicity model.
The neckline on the Simplicity is rather 'loose' and baggy in the 1960's style so I'd advise you to interface it to keep it stiff and to get the 'puff' on the skirt a net is needed. My next project! smile

If you want the Michelle Obama pink bolero jacket with three-quarter length sleeves then New Look 6935 is probably as close as you'll get.  I will make it and post the results even if the group is no longer in session!

New Look 6935 for the Michelle Obama bolero jacket?

Next up, New Look 6723 in bright orange batik African print. I chose the view with the 'sweetheart neckline' and no sleeves. I also used (i.e. 'wasted) a lot of fabric getting the print symmetrical on the skirt and the shoulders but on the plus side, it was ridiculously fast to make, like 5 hours, even with the lining and it's got a very feminine silhouette. On the downside, there is too much ease in this pattern so make a size smaller in the bodice and save your fabric. Not sure a seam is needed on the sweetheart neckline, you could probably cut it on the fold so as not to break the pattern but then you'll need to reinforce with interfacing but that's OK. smile

New Look 6723 in orange African print

In my opinion, Simplicity 1873 just pips New Look 6723 to the post in it's superior construction of darts over princess seams and skirt pleats over gathering. However, I don't think the neckline on the SImplicity is 'special' enough and you might consider using the sweetheart neckline of New Look 6723 instead for something truly spectacular. Mix n' match!

Simplicity 1873 is a more formal prom dress design, better suited to weddings and the like. So if you want a casual prom dress for an evening out or dinner, then make New Look 6723, perhaps with it's matching handbag.


We had a full house this Saturday. A lot of regulars turned out for our penultimate session and we had a very good giggle at the main table. It was all going on; embroidery, crochet, sewing, even smocking - yes! Rosemary had us all amazed with her lovely gingham smocking and RK was so taken aback she forgot to take a picture - duh!

Full house at the main table

Joan attaches patterned border to her 3D patchwork

Jean embroiders in straight and cross-stitch in red, green, yellow and orange 

Val knits baby cardigans for Natalie's twins in pink and blue with flower buttons

Val extra busy! She knitted two matching cardigans for Natalie's twins. Awww....x

Teddy bibs made by Val 

The Blackheath Textile Hanging is going great guns by all accounts. Several of our members are involved and Jean's 'Rockin' Robin' embroidered freehand (no pattern/visual) is a work of art. 
In the time this group is down and awaiting new funding, the hanging should be completed - yayy!
We'll try and bring you updates to it's construction.

Tweet Tweet! Embroidered robin for the Blackheath Library Textile

Jan embroiders her beautiful cushion stretched on a frame. 

Next week, our last, Rosemary's smocking will be the first up - I promise! Quite different from shirring I assure you and much more lovely. smile
I hope you've enjoyed this week's offerings. Even though we only have one week to go, you are WELCOME to join us. This group is free of charge and sponsored by Lewisham Council.

3 weeks and counting..

Believe it or not, our little group has only THREE WEEKS left before we officially close. Lewisham Council has been absolutely fabulous in giving us funding and we can only hope we are gifted another award so we can keep up our work in the community.

In the meantime, here is a rundown of what some of the member have been busy creating this week.

New Look skirt made by Marilyn in 1950's style print with net underskirt

Vicky cuts out Sewholic pattern 1202

Marilyn wrestles with a new pattern

As some of you may remember, when the group first began, we were kindly donated several boxes of materials from the owner of
Natalie had a boisterous 2-year old son and twins (one boy, one girl) on the way and so decided to clear her sewing room and the off-cuts she had stockpiled over the years. Her kind donation to the group saw every member make a garment or patchwork of one kind or another. Marilyn especially completed wonderful several items from off-cuts and skirts, dresses, scarves and shirts were all made by various members.

Natalie asked if the group could, in return, make her twins a few things and we were only too happy to oblige! After all the materials she had given us, it was the least we could do.

Jean makes a darling baby bonnet and cardigan for Natalie's baby daughter Grace
complete with teddy bear buttons

Jean standing next to her latest creation, a baby blanket in 

Val, Delphina and Marilyn all promised to make garments for Natalie's twins; Val agreed to booties, cardigans and bibs, Delphina two baby sacks in blue and pink and Marilyn said she will knit. Stay tuned for the results!

Regular member Marianna shows us how to 
self-draft a pattern using paper, pencil and fashion ruler

Marianna draws her own version of Magenta's dress from 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'
How did she get on?

Voila! She did it! 
See how Marianna constructed this at her

This group has brought together some of the most inventive and creative patchwork groups in Lewisham. Until now RK had not ever given much appreciation to patchwork or card-making but that view has definitely changed! Our amiable member Cleo (the singing Cleopatra) has dazzled us with her  lovely voice and craft-based creations.

Cleo holds up her symbolic patchwork wall hanging 

Cleo's completed handmade cards and (below) one is construction

We all agreed it will be sad to see the group end but for now, at least, we'll keep on sewing, knitting, eating biscuits and listening to 'Magic'.