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A guide to making your own perfect dress by hand

This time of year is fantastic for showing off lovely summer dresses, especially ones that you’ve made yourself. Pair them with flats and bare legs on a hot day and leggings when the weather takes a chillier turn.

A guide to making your own perfect dress by hand

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The beauty of making your own dress is that you can design it specifically to suit your own preferred shape, height, colours and style. This makes it perfect for you, so you don’t have to settle for something you’d find on the high street.

It can take a while and it isn’t a cheap option, but it tends to result in a perfect finish. Moreover, the resulting item could last you for years. However, making a dress isn’t something that you can do without training, so it’s likely to require some dressmaking lessons to start.

Learning the skills

Look for local dressmaking classes at your adult education centre, college or community centre, or speak to your local sewing shop as many offer well-priced tuition of their own. City and Guild also do excellent classes if you are looking for something a little more structured and formal.

Get your fabrics

This is the fun part, and you’ll find all sorts of wonderful fabrics and prints that suit all levels. Ask for advice in the store if necessary – you don’t want to start with silk for your first project! Cotton poplins are a great choice, and you’ll find plenty of colours and patterns at http://www.higgsandhiggs.com/fabrics/cotton-poplins-112cm.html.

Patterns

Once you’ve got the basics, find the pattern that works for you. Free patterns are available online as a great starting point, and easy smock dresses are a good first project. For more advanced projects, try John Lewis. For couture aspirations, you can look for Vogue patterns. There are also plenty of wonderful books and blogs. Alternatively, you could use a dress that you own already and draw around its different sections with a margin for seams and notes for zips, pleats and other features.

A sewing machine can be a very useful piece of kit for bigger projects, although you’ll want to do finishing and embellishments by hand. Take it slow, check everything twice, progress within a group of other dressmakers to share tips, and have plenty of fun with your new project!

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