Starting off in dressmaking

Mk0 dress

The Mk1 dress was my first attempt at dressmaking and was I was amazed it turned out OK It was presentable enough to wear in public, looked good and was well finished. For a first attempt at dressmaking it gave me a huge amount of confidence.

But that wasn't actually the first thing I made. The Mk0 dress didn't turn out nearly so well.

The Mk0 Shift Dress

Being really new to this sort of thing I downloaded a pretty pattern from the internet because I liked the seam lines.

I made it from denim to the pattern and was disappointed as there wasn't enough ease in the skirt to walk, never mind look pretty. I modified it by adding a gore in the front and that looked terrible - it folded between my legs as I walked. The front seam is the last place you should ever add a gore - side and back seams are fair game, but adding all the easing on the front seam just makes a dress look awful.

So then I removed the front gore and as it was a bit tight I added an extra panel to the side seam. In order to do that the stitching finishing the armholes needed to be unpicked. I ripped the denim in the process. Oops. From there the Mk0 became a learning experience rather than something I would ever be seen wearing. I threw it back together as a poorly finished pull on sack dress. The photo was taken after the modification and does not represent the original pattern which was much nicer.

Denim was a bad choice too - it frays really badly and is not at all warm in winter.

Mk1 dress

The Mk 1 Fit and Flare Dress

I liked the original bodice of the Mk0 but I wanted a more flared skirt. I shortened the skirt to mid thigh length and doubled the width of every panel at the bottom of the skirt (apart from the front seam which I left alone having figured that out). I raised the waist by 2 inches to the bottom of the rib cage. The photo is a poor representation and I'll update it when I have a photoshoot.

The rear zip on the denim dress was difficult as the bodice is fitted and didn't allow me to pull the back upwards to reach the zip once I had got it as far as I could from below. So I moved the zip to a side seam.

I found a full lining to be simpler than following the instructions. You can make the lining using the same pattern you used to make the dress, sew it together inside out, then miraculously pull the entire dress the right way around through the shoulder straps (search full lining tutorials on youtube). The partial linings seem to be about saving material, but full linings are more comfy and not a problem for DIY as things take longer so time is more important than a couple quid of material.

I found modifying great fun, easy to do, and it transformed the dress. The photo shows the dress without an underskirt, but I wore it with a full petticoat to fill out the shape.

Mk1 dress pattern

The MK1 fit and flare dress pattern

The pattern started as this one from Bootstrap Fashion. I changed the skirt, raised the waistline, changed the number of panels, modified all the seams and the fit, so the Mk1 pattern is hopefully original enough to share without stepping on too many toes.

I've linked a printable pattern below. You'll need to make a mockup and adjust it to fit you. It is based on male dimensions (wearing C-cup breast forms) of 42 inch bust, 38 inch underbust, 37 inches belly (measured at the widest point). It came out roughly UK size 16 to 18. There is no seam allowance in the pattern.

You are welcome to print out the pattern and use it in your own work. The pdf pattern can be printed, then the pages taped together to allow the pattern to be cut out.

It won't print from the internet. After clicking the pattern link save the page from your browser then open it in Adobe Acrobat viewer (free). Press print, then under paper size select poster and 100% scale. It's worth printing a single page first to make sure the grid marks around the edges are 1 inch apart.

Download the pattern here: laicey-mk1-pattern.pdf For copyright please try to throw me a link if you reproduce the pattern, otherwise use is as you like.

Mk 1 dress completed

What I like and don't like

I am amazed how it worked out. I had a lot of compliments on it's outings. The full lining makes it very comfortable to wear.

I don't like the materials. I used a synthetic satin and it has noticeable crinkles below the bust after it's first outing and it doesn't like to be ironed. I shall be careful to use more natural materials in the future.


I used 2m of a synthetic polyester 'duchess satin' for the dress and 2m of some thin synthetic polyester for the lining.