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How to Recreate an Old Favourite, by Gemma @made_by_velvety_cleopatra

I first decided to start sewing garments because I had a jersey halter dress that I adored and that fit me like a glove and I wanted another one in a different pattern or colour. The trouble was the company I bought it from only made one other like it and it was permanently out of stock. To add to my misery, they then went out of business so it seemed that my halter dress dreams were over.

I decided to try and make my own version by using the one I had as a template. I did not want to take it apart to create a pattern though because I loved that dress so much and I was worried I would never be able put it back together again! I spent a lot of time looking inside the dress trying to see how it was made and what pattern pieces I would need. I got some pattern paper and started to draw around each section. To isolate each piece, I would fold the rest of the dress out of the way.

I laid out the dress as flat as possible to draw around one side of the bodice and then added seam allowance before cutting out the pattern piece.

Once I had all my pattern pieces, I added seam allowance and cut them out. I also marked on the grainline - this was quite easy to work out because I knew that the pieces needed to be most stretchy horizontally to go around the body. I bought the cheapest jersey fabric I could find for a trial run and also bought my dream fabric: a black and white polka dot Liverpool crepe.

My well-used pattern piece (with seam allowance, labels, and grainline marked on).

I cut out my pieces in the cheap jersey and started sewing it together. This involved a bit of guesswork as, if you aren’t familiar with garment construction (and I wasn’t because I had never even seen a sewing pattern at this stage), it sometimes takes a bit of thinking to get the pieces together in the right order. My dress had a self-faced bodice and that really boggled my brain at first!

During construction and the finished garment.

Once I was happy with my trial version, I started on the polka dot version and I was thrilled with it! Since then, I have made several versions of the dress and I like them all more than the original. I sewed my last one on my overlocker and it looks almost identical to the shop-bought dress inside.

You would never know it wasn’t shop bought!

If you have a fairly basic garment that you love and want to try to recreate, I recommend giving it a go. I would recommend this method for any garment that doesn’t have darts or pleats etc. as this is a lot harder to work out as you cannot lay the sections flat to draw around them. As a beginner sewist, this process taught me so much about garment construction and now I have many versions of my favourite dress to wear!

Three me-made versions of my favourite dress.

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