My handmade wardrobe – Simply Sewing Adele dress.

This pattern arrived with Simply Sewing magazine at the end of last year. It looked like the perfect ‘dress up’ or ‘dress down’ type of dress that I wanted for various Christmas get togethers.

I have definitely  recently become more in favour of comfy and relaxed clothes for what ever the occasion, I am not sure if this is an age thing, a me thing or just a thing that has happened. As Christmas invites and occasions started to get penciled in my diary at the end of last year I started to look at what was in my wardrobe available for such occasions. I do have a good selection of handmade dresses, mostly made when I started sewing ALL my own clothes. At which point I wanted to make dresses in particular, because this was one item I could rarely buy off the peg. I am sure I am not alone in that unless you happen to be a standard shop size at both top and bottom the chances of finding a dress that fits nicely from the shops is highly unlikely. So I was on a mission to make lovely dresses. I made 50’s style dresses, dresses with fitted bodices and woven wraparound styles. The wraparound styles get the most wear from this selection of dressier dresses, and though I do still like all of the dresses I don’t feel so inspired to wear them so much anymore.

The Adele dress offers a relaxed kimono bodice with a slim fit pencil skirt, giving an interesting mix of casual and formal. I like the addition of pockets again making it feel quite functional although the overall silhouette works quite well for a more dressy occasion.

I chose to make my first one of these dresses in this gorgeous Camellia print from the Lady McElroy range. This fabric is slightly unusual as it feels, looks and handles like a lightweight woven viscose and indeed that’s what it is, however it is woven with 3% elastane so it is also stretchy! Its really easy to work with and feels so soft and comfortable to wear.

I did make a toile for this as I know I nearly always need to make a bust adjustment. I know looking at the relaxed fit of the bodice you wouldn’t think it would be a problem. On measuring it seemed like there would be enough ease but I wanted to check. Sure enough the toile looked tight across the bust. I decided to draw my apex point onto the toile and then cut a line from the waist through the apex and up to the shoulder and another out towards the sleeve to add sufficient fullness to relieve the tightness. I transfered this to the pattern. I needed to create a waist dart to bring the waist back to the original size. At this point I felt happy with the toile and decided to make the dress.

I always like my dresses to be lined whenever possible. I decided to line the skirt of this dress but not the bodice. Lining the bodice would have added to much bulk and destroyed the overall shape but adding a lining to the skirt worked really well. I simply used the same pattern for the outer skirt filling the gap where the pocket shaping is by placing the pocket back pattern piece on to the pattern so the side and upper edges of the patterns aligned. Adding the lining to the skirt has given it a bit more substance which I like as this is quite a light weight fabric for a dress. I always prefer skirts to have a lining as I don’t like the skirt sticking to tights thing!

The dress was super quick to make and I was really pleased with the results until I had it photographed. I did literally shoe horn it into the photoshoot finishing it only just before hand. I kept it on afterwards and started to notice it felt a little loose. This seems to be my eternal problem, everything seems to fit perfectly at toile stage and then seems a bit big when complete. This happened with the jeans I made at the end of last year. I haven’t quite worked out why yet! Though in these two cases both fabrics have a bit of stretch and both times I used calico to toile. Anyway since these photos I have reduced the width at the waist and hips for a slightly snugger fit. I also decided the bust darts needed re-aligning just a little but enough to make a difference. Overall now I am really happy. In fact I love it so much I made another one in teal Art Gallery viscose. I will post this one next week so you can see the difference my tweaks made.

I wore both dresses to meals out and felt really happy with with them, they definitely tick the comfortable box and relaxed dressing but still looking smart, all round a really great pattern firmly filed under ‘will make again’.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...


  1. Lesley Jones on June 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Do you think this adele dress from Simply sewing magazine could be made with a jersey fabric?

    • Julia Claridge on June 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      Hi, yes I think it would work well in a jersey like viscose jersey or other lightweight jersey’s, it would also be nice in cotton elastane. You would probably want to stabalise the pocket edges. Hope it goes well.

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