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May 31, 2010 / KristenMakes

new book – new dress!

On my recent trip back home to FL, I treated myself to this amazing book:

Built by Wendy Dresses: The Sew U Guide to Making a Girl's Best Frock

The book is amazing.  It provides Slopers for three basic dress silhouettes: sheath, shift, and dirndl.  It gives basic tips for fitting those slopers to your size and making new patterns from those slopers to fit the designs in the book:  lower the neckline, raise the hem, add fullness for gathers, etc.  After making a few dresses from the book, a beginner to flat-patterning might feel pretty comfortable trying out a design of their own.


The first day off that I had upon returning to Edinburgh I set to tracing all the pattern peices down in my size and made one of the dresses in the book – The Pleated Sailor Dress!  The main reason I chose it: it didn’t require a zipper, as I didn’t have one.


There were a few bits of information  that were lacking in the one dress I did.  I understand you can’t put every tiny detail of dressmaking into 1 affordable and moderately-sized book, but listing listing resources for further help in each section might have helped.  For example, a beginner sewist may have been confused on how to join 2 pieces of home-made bias tape (however, it was my first time doing home-made bias tape for a neckline and I’m pretty happy with the result).  Also, I may have missed something in the explanation but the dress didn’t fit over my head!  So I ripped out the center back seam a few inches, sewed down the seam allowance to sort of make a placket and added a button and button-loop so that I could pull it on.  I still think the book is brilliant though, and can’t wait to make my next dress!


A note on those adorable VINTAGE buttons: they were a birthday present from my Sister-in-Law, Amanda in Seattle! What a gal! Hope I made her proud in the use of her buttons!

If anyone else out there has the book, let me know – I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on it.



Leave a Comment
  1. Marilyn Schmid / May 31 2010 10:03 pm

    Love those little pleats! Very cute!

  2. Lisa / Jun 1 2010 7:09 am

    great job! I just got the book and that is one of the first dresses that caught my eye. I’m impressed that you did it all in a day.

  3. Holly / Jun 6 2010 2:17 pm

    This is adorable! I’ve been considering this book for a while now. Though I have TONS of dress patterns, I think I’m gonna go for it, now that I see your dress!

  4. Crafted by Carly / Jun 26 2011 2:50 pm

    I am JUST making (well, TRYING to make) the sailor dress from ‘Built by Wendy Dresses’. I’m finding it quite tricky! The first problem I had was with the instruction for sewing on the yoke (so I make that bit up myself). Then, I discovered that there is NO WAY the dress is going to fit over my head! So, no, you didn’t miss anything! I’m about half way through making the dress now (just messing about with the sleeves). I hope the rest of the make will go smoothly! Thanks for the tip of putting in a button & loop – I think I’ll do the same! Have you tried any of the other dresses from the book yet? How did they go?

  5. KristenMakes / Jun 27 2011 8:21 am

    Haha, I had to make my own version of the yoke up as well, you are not alone in that! And I am very glad that you had similar over-the-head issues (well glad for me for the sake of commiseration, but not glad for the hassle it put us both through!). I have not had the chance yet to make more dresses from the book but I’ve been really wanting to! I haven’t done as much garment-sewing recently as I would have liked, but my uni programme is almost over and I hope to devote at least a week to playing personal-sewing-catch-up! Best of luck to you! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  6. Crafted by Carly / Jun 29 2011 7:03 am

    I am glad that I wasn’t just missing something/not understanding something with the yoke – phew!!! At the moment, I am ironing in pleats – it’s taking me a while. I hope I can finish it in time for my summer holiday – that was the original plan! Good luck with finishing-off your studies! I got through the final year of my MA by looking forward to all the projects I could start on once I had handed in my final assignment!!!

  7. KristenMakes / Jun 29 2011 9:00 am

    Haha! Sounds like me too, the hope of personal sewing time is keeping me going to the end! And wow, I remember the pleats vividly! Yuck! But worth the time: many wears and two washes later, the pleats are perfectly placed still.


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