My DIY Dress (Part II): 5 Things To Learn From Sewing

How the DIY jersey dress experiment ended, how the dress turned out and why it lead to vamping up a pair of shoes and upcycling a diary into a clutch. 

 If you’ve missed Part One, check it out here.

The End of the Experiment!

DIY-dress-project-part2So, here’s how the Dress Experiment went on: eventually the two heavy panels of GOTS jersey (coloured a lovely chambray/ denim blue) got sewn together; a process that involved a sewing machine, and lots of swearing!

Lesson 1. Sewing something as ‘simple’ as a four-seams-dress
is a matter of precision, time, accuracy and also overall fitness:
working a sewing machine for hours is not exactly a nice asana.

The dress itself turned out rather o.k. though I think I will trim the fabric next – untrimmed, a jersey of this thickness tends to look just unfinished, and I don’t really like this unflattering kind of grungy. Thankfully, you can only spot this if you examine the trims. Ain’t nobody got time for that? I certainly hope so.DIY-dress-project-GOTS-jersey-Siebenblau

2. In the context of what conventional fabrics cost, GOTS fabric
is bloody expensive! Can you think of what might be the real cost
of cheap fabric? – Exactly…

This blue jersey knit (linen, a pretty amazing raw material in fact) is truly beautiful: heavy, really luxurious. The GOTS certificate means that it’s been produced ecologically and ethically – no harm done. Of course, when worn, the heavy fabric tends to weigh down everything, so it’s a good idea to wear lingerie and to add some kind of underdress: it will add to a smoother, more elegant overall appearance and also provide a non-slip, plumper texture for draping the dress nicely. The two side slits also come in handy for styling modifications.

3. Being definitely the lest work-intensive garment I possess,
to make this dress has cost about ten times more than it costs
to produce even more elaborate dresses from a high street brand.

Now, shall we have a look? Sure. Just one more thing! 🙂

To take the photos, I’ve enlisted the help of Iryna, a wonderful friend of mine, an entrepreneur, a former travel blogger and model who, unlike Yours Truly, is accustomed to wearing extravagant dresses – here the extravagance comes, of course, from the impressive length. Iryna has also directed the whole fun and suggested quirky poses, so we ended up with a complete series of eight very different, quite enjoyable and actually wearable looks – one of which I am sharing here:

A Criminally Cool DIY Dress

Rad or bad? 😉

DIY-maxi-dress-GOTS-jersey-wornFunny enough: the DIY spark that this project re-ignited has lead to two other interesting projects.

4. While I may not be the best seamstress of the world, it’s great
that somebody is, and I want to keep contributing to a world
where these professionals are able to make a decent living.

So the DIY projects I have started are more about customising, closer to my well, let’s say talents, than about actually making something from scratch. I will always remember how my mother has tried to awaken my interest in cross-stitching, and how I ended up finishing the complete image only to find out I had cross-stitched it to my skirt… No comments! 😀 However, when it comes to perfecting things (so they suit my taste of course, perfection is relative) and to customising things, that’s where I really have a lot of fun.

5.  It’s fun and healthy to appreciate your own strengths and
gifts and to support your unique creative fingerprint!

So here’s how my own creative fingerprint works – ignited by the desire to make things look “like me” and to avoid waste:DIY-pierced-2-tone-shoesA pair of very boring looking shoes with a shiny finish that wore off after one rainy day looks fun with a second colour and barbells added.DIY-clutch-made-from-5-year-agendaThis 5-year agenda was so fun to use – and trust me, as you use it, you can’t belive that a period of five! long! years! will ever come to an end. Spoiler: it will! 😀
Today, with its paper insides carefully removed and a steel case of matching proportions glued onto the board, it gains a second life as a fancy clutch.

As a bottom line, sewing a garment has helped me not just understand and respect people who Make Things (this, I do) but also experience what it means to make a useful everyday product myself. 

Of course I will not start sewing all my clothes myself from now on – there are lovely eco-ethical brands (my post series Understanding Textile Labels explain what to look for) – but I like to think that if I didn’t find a design I like, eventually, I could not only adjust it to my liking but also make it myself.

Now I’d love to hear from you: where are You on the DIY scale?
a) Maker of Things – from scratch (furniture, clothes)
b) Hobby DIYer (mostly decoration, entertaining, or small gifts)
c) Customising stuff (embellishing store-bought items)
d) Consumer


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

7 Responses

  1. hahaha cross-stitching to your skirt. You’re certainly rocking the dress. The minaudiere is cute – you could get an Etsy biz going 🙂

    I flutter up and down your scale depending on circumstances. I’m always having ideas of things to make but i’m easily distracted……

  2. I will have to say consumer but I could make something if I needed to. 🙂 I can even cross stitch a little. Your clutch made me smile because this week I have been looking at sites which show you how to repurpose books into clutches. Not that I need to. I was simply curious.

  3. Tanya

    I can knit but it’s only a hobby. No time. I will look now at textile labels, I haven’t bought any certified fair etc clothes yet, only organic cotton shirts.

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