Tova – first dress

I finished my first linen dress last weekend (a Wiksten Tova dress with mods). It went surprisingly smoothly, overall. I managed to add inseam pockets, did french seams all the way through and even made continuous bias binding (that was interesting!). All fairly smoothly and painlessly…

Until I got to the neck binding.

I had been dreading the bias binding at the collar and either I psyched myself out, or was spot on with my paranoia! It sucked. I must have re-done bits of it at least 5 times before I was satisfied with it.

First I tried it on the outside of the collar but it looked awkward and amateur-ish so off it came. I also realised that I should have cut more material off the seam allowance as I had decided not to add the collar or sleeves. Whoops (toile anyone? I need to find some cheap calico, though this likely means a trip to the dreaded Ikea, which I avoid like the plague. Why can’t Ikea do proper online shopping? They would sell so much more.).
failed neck first
Another glitch was that the back seemed to gape outwards a bit at the back of the neck, so I ended up putting in a pleat to bring it in (box pleat?)…pinned above and sewn below. (please ignore the bingo wings!! Wow. Talk about a view of yourself you don’t normally see…or want to.)
first dress pleat
So here she is. Comfy and very airy for the summer.
tova dress
It is funny, I am much more thrilled with my finished knits and I don’t know if this is because of the better quality finish I can now get in the knits or if it is just the greater time investment. It is weird. I am proud of the dress, but a bit ‘meh’ at the same time, whereas I am still – daily – thrilled with my Audrey! It might be the yarn. I have turned into a huge yarn-o-phile and get such a kick out of different yarn qualities…

Anyway, psychological dissection aside – I am ready to take on the more complex Tova version now with sleeves and collar. I went to The Cloth House in Soho yesterday and they have some gorgeous linen fabrics, but I just can’t justify the price until I get much better! I have been trying to find cheap-ish yarn-woven black linen or linen/cotton blend to do a full-sized version (3-3.5yds) but the cheapest I have seen is £14/m.  Still a bit steep for beginner projects.

If anyone knows of a good supplier for nice light linens on this side of the pond I would love to hear of it…EU as well!


16 thoughts on “Tova – first dress

  1. So weird that you would say this. I was a sewist before knitting (ok, admittedly, only by a couple of years and I’ve only been sewing for 3.5 yrs), but I am much more thrilled by my knits, in general, than my sewn items. I can’t really say why either.

  2. I read the British bloggers mention Goldhawk Road in London for great deals on fabric. NO idea exactly where or what that is (i.e. is it just a road with lots of fabric shops, or a street market? no idea!) But they often say they get stuff for a couple pounds a meter.

    Myself, I’d skip Ikea if you’re looking for calico. At least at my Ikea, the fabrics are much heavier, more like home dec stuff. You want to use a fabric of similar weight to the finished garment you’re making to get an accurate idea of the fit.

    Anyway, I think this looks brilliant for a first go! (see? I speak British!) Really perfect for summer, and I think you should wear it with pride. The fabric is fantastic.

    And when you get to the sleeves, my #1 tip for making everything go smoothly is to hand baste those suckers in. Trust me, it saves time and sanity in the end!

    • Oooh. Thanks for the tips, Gail! I had heard of Goldhawk Road. I think it is like a little alley next to a tube station – Goldhawk Road- out west. I must take a trip out there and see if it is all that. Couple of pound a meter? I’m in.

      I watched the British Sewing Bee and saw how they eased the shoulders in. But I think you are right – I will hand baste. That sounds very sensible! Did you watch any of this? It is on u-tube. The woman who won is 86 or something and watching her meticulous approach to sewing is amazing!

      Ikea – I saw one woman had picked up a whack of calico at Ikea for something like a pound a meter! Maybe it is too thick, though. I need some old sheets!

      You speak British very well. Almost as well as me…hah! (Though I can fake a slight Scottish brogue if called upon.). Though, that said, I am picking up terms like fanny and wanker, so not all is lost.

      • Hahaha – but I bet you still say “aboot” and “hoose?”

        I watched the entire GBSB and LOVED it. So excited that they’re doing a second one.

        Don’t take my word on the Ikea fabric – it does seem that different stores have different selections. I base this on the fact that sometimes I’ve seen lovely things made from their fabrics on other blogs, and then gone to my store and not been able to find the same fabric.

        I also wanted to tell you that the other day I was at JoAnn’s fabrics and came across a book I think you might like: Shape Shape.

        It’s a Japanese sewing book but in English, and is full of origami-like, loose, flowy garments that seemed to me to be your style. The patterns are included in the book too.

        • You’re so funny. Hah! I don’t know where people get that from. I think it must be the Newfie accent as it is a mix of Irish/Scots sailor speak and English. I can’t even understand it! It is funny, my partner, who is Scottish, teases me that I say ‘hoose’…when he does sometimes after talking to his relatives on the phone! And ‘heed’ for head!!! Mock me, will he??? Hmmph.

          I hadn’t heard they are doing another! Oh nice. I will keep an eye out then.

          Ikea kills me. Just the whole experience. Brrr.

          That book looks very up my alley, thank you! I have been looking at some other japanese books with flow-y sack-like things as well. So nice. I am going for ‘bag-lady chic’.


  3. I especially like the pleat in the back… it looks elegant! Glad it worked out so well for you!
    I also think you are being way too critical of your arms, I think they look perfect and not at all like bingo wings, lol!
    You know, you are like my style opposite in many ways, in terms of the silhouettes we crave!
    So well done on this 🙂

    • Heh. I know. In my defence I use to like more figure hugging clothes. Must be showing my age. I just want to wander around in pyjamas these days.


      Potato sack is what I am after, Jo! heh.

  4. Your dress is lovely. You did a great job. Getting a (near) perfect finish in knitting may be easier because there is give in the fabric should you have to fudge here and there. My mum used to try and get me addicted to quilting but I’m not exact and precise enough for that and so I’m sticking to the knitting!

    • Thank you! It is tougher for me…somehow it seems less organic or something.

      I don’t think I could handle quilting. Not unless there is some freeform version that I haven’t seen yet! All those straight lines…yikes!

      I am with you on the knitting. There is something comforting about the process, whereas I can see having to force myself to sew.

  5. I think this looks lovely (and I bet it looks great layered with your Audrey!) I’m still debating about sewing something, but I think the main thing is to start and then I’ll have somewhere to start from.

    • Aw, everyone is being so nice! Thank you!!

      Angela, starting is definitely the first step. Heh. I highly recommend getting a rotary cutter. I bought my first the other day and don’t know why I haven’t had one before! Amazing.

      Karen, the pleat was a necessity, but I think I will be adding it to future versions. I really like the ‘smocky’ effect it creates on the back, and the extra fullness for the caboose is useful as well…


  6. Knitting is more forgiving because of the elasticity of the yarn. I am a sewer, but I still tend to enjoy knitting quite a bit. It is wonderful to do both!

    Your Tova looks really good on you. Very flattering. Bingo arms? I don’t see it. The fit across the shoulders is very good, especially if you are not a full-time sewer. 🙂 French seams and so on…very impressive. The fabric is lovely and the fit is good. Enjoy it 😀 m.

    • Aw thanks Maria! I needed this encouragement today as I am STILL trying to get the fit right on my Sorbetto tank. It is a totally different kind of patience for me and I struggle a bit. But I think it is good for me.

      (I will repeat that until it feels true).


  7. Pingback: Something orange and something blue | Pans & Needles

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