The 3 Hour Dress: Butterick 3349 Vintage Sew & Go

The 3 hour dress: Butterick 3349 Vintage Sew & Go

I made this dress in three hours from start to finish, including cutting out the paper tissue pattern. It's a Butterick 3349, a vintage 70s kimono sleeve pull-over dress from Butterick's fabulous Sew & Go collection. Try this Google search to see more patterns in this range. They're forerunners to the modern Japanese sewing book designs with clean simple lines and loose easy-fit shapes. Instant gratification sewing!

Butterick 3349: Sew & Go

I used a heavy Japanese dragon-fly print cotton which is more subtly beautiful than these pictures show, it has a textured slub weave.

Dragonfly print Japanese cotton

The dress came together rapidly to the amusement of Instagram friends. I made two small changes to the pattern – the turn up cuffs felt too heavy and businesslike for the soft kimono sleeve, so instead I finished the sleeves (and hem) with a bias binding; I also added two small front pockets. I love the fact that it was so quick to make and is comfortable to wear. There will be more of these on the way!

A Sew and Go triumph!

Butterick 3349 details
I sewed and went

Create It! McCall's M5928 Mix & Match Dress

McCall's M5928 in John Lewis archive print fabrics

McCall's Create It range was a 1990s collection of sewing patterns designed with interchangeable mix and match pattern pieces so that you could customise the design and 'make it your own'. Sadly it looks like the idea didn't take off for McCall's and their Create It line is now out of print. I managed to track down a M5928 Create It dress pattern on eBay though and was excited to give it a whirl.

McCall's Create It sewing pattern

The M5928 dress appealed because it reminds me of Scarlet et Marguerite's Baba Yaga. It has a long, almost medieval front yoke and lends itself to using contrasting fabrics and fancy braid trims. Once made up it's a much more voluminous affair than the streamlined illustrations on the packet suggest. Still a lovely design, but quite different to the drawing on the packet.

I'm very happy with my fabric choices for this one. The yoke and cuffs are in a John Lewis Daisy Chain archive print designed by Pat Albeck. The body and sleeves are another John Lewis cotton archive print called Cummersdale. Both designs were reissued for the store's 150th anniversary last year. I found both fabrics on sale at a discounted price (they are possibly good seconds) at Ditto in Brighton. I finished the dress with some embroidered turquoise braid.

Sketchbook Explorations

New sketchbook by Ivy Arch

One of my resolutions for this year was to start drawing again. I've dipped in and out of drawing in my adult years, attended a few months of life drawing in my twenties, took part in Katie Sollohub's wonderful Creative Journeys Monday morning course in Shoreham-by-Sea, and recently discovered Zen Doodling. However, I wanted to find a way to build on all this and make drawing a habit and an everyday part of my life, just as it is for my prolific ten year old daughter!

Sketchbook Explorations in blue and yellow circles

In January I saw a tweet by Colour Living's Tina Bernstein of some beautiful sketchbook work she'd produced after enrolling in artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon's online Sketchbook Explorations class. A few clicks later I'd signed up for the course too.

Circle backgrounds drawn over with micron pens

It's a four part course which teaches you how to develop a habit of keeping a sketchbook of colourful designs using and combining various mixed media techniques including watercolour, line drawing, collage, brush pens and gel pens. The course is designed to run over four consecutive weeks but can be completed in your own time. I felt that I wasn't ready to move onto a new technique after just one week, so spent several weeks working on each stage, before moving onto the next lesson.

Collaged backgrounds and line drawing

Lisa Congdon is a complete inspiration! Her course has really helped me conquer the fear of those blank white pages in a new sketchbook, and given me a feeling of freedom and playfulness in producing new artwork too. All too often in the past my critical expectations for producing a 'finished' piece of artwork have paralysed the creative process. The beauty of keeping a sketchbook is that every page is an experiment, some explorations will work and some won't. The most successful ones can be used as a starting point for another piece of work.

Moving on: painted background worked over with brush pen, micron and gel pens

The other thing I've loved about taking part in Congdon's online course is that it comes with an Instagram peer group. Students from her courses are encouraged to share their work on Instagram (search #cbugsketchbook and #sketchbookexplorations). I find seeing what other people are producing wholly motivating as well as inspiring.

Sketchbook exploration in paint, brush pens and gel pens by Ivy Arch

I'm now working on my second sketchbook and have subscribed to Creative Bug so that I can dip in and out of their other courses when I want to learn more techniques or just to try a different direction. I've also been invited to exhibit a piece of my artwork in Creative Waves Art on the Pier 2015 exhibition which has opened this month in Worthing. 

Starting all over again... #sketchbookexplorations
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