Happy Ever After dress: Sew Dolly Clackett

This is the story behind my “Sew Dolly Clackett dress”.  The mind bending journey.  Join me if you dare ….

simplicity 2444

I love me a pretty frock. I love being delighted with Roisin’s latest inspiration as she sews herself a beautiful frock mountain. It has been said more than once before that people who sew are lured by the attraction of a pretty frock, which often as not (except if you are Roisin) gets brought out for a few occasions in the summer if you are lucky, & if you are like me, you might create occasions just so that you can wear your dresses!? . When fabric shopping there are a few practical sewsters who check out the solid coloured fabrics, but it’s the prints that get us going, right? And the truth is that most of us sewsters love what you can do with a perfectly patterned fabric – and it usually means it’s got to be a dress.

simplicity 2444
Only once we have accumulated a number of pretty dresses do we recognise the other truth – the icing versus cake debate– & decide that if we do want to develop a hand-made wardrobe, and unless we can build frock wearing more into daily life, then the time comes when separates & knits become the epiphany of your sewing experience – and then comes the “capsule wardrobe” quest! I recognise my journey here & I suspect that it might ring true for some others out there.
So I have been sewing a handmade wardrobe – I only tend to wear RTW sportswear – & even that is being overtaken with my Fehr Trade makes. I have a practical balance of tops, knits, blouses, trousers, skirts & some knit dresses that are easy to care for, require minimum ironing (because I only seem to use my iron for construction!). They  just about all fall within my chosen colour palette: reds, turquoise, purples, greys & a bit of black. OK, I have tried to give most of them a *badger twist* with some interesting detailing that makes them unique – ric rac my first port of call, of course. But, still, how very organised & *practical*.
I’ve just about got there now though. And my inner diva has come back from her sojourn in the tropics. It’s time for pattern! Its time for frivolity! It’s time for some awesome frocks that beg random passers by to pour compliments at one’s feet – or at least look on enviously.
People – The frock – is- back.

simplicity 2444
I have all sorts of excuses for breathing life back into my frock-wearing existence- as well as the Vintage Pattern Challenge we have until tomorrow (!)  to contribute to the global sewing phenomenon that is Sew Dolly Clackett, organised by Sarah at Rhinestones & Telephones so that Roisin’s sewing friends pay tribute to her forthcoming marriage to her mister. This has to be the most perfect collaboration ever. Such an immense idea.

simplicity 2444
There are already a fair few “SewDollyClackett” dresses in evidence, check out Flickr here.
Now Roisin has a signature style – very much in the vintage camp – often full skirted dresses with sleeveless or short sleeved bodices, sometimes a wiggle dress & even an occasional Anna dress at maxi length. She has a fondness for retro inspired prints, gingham, & bold unpredictable prints also. I must say that I had a few choices of suitable fabric in my stash & was leaning towards either a knee length Anna dress or Simplicity 2444. But which fabric? I gave myself a few walks to work in the morning just trying to work it through.

tulip fabric(The colours in this photo are pretty true to life btw- unusually!)
In the end the lightbulb illuminated my vision – I had bought some tulip fabric last year as a result of a link Roisin used for an online shop I hadn’t seen before – Fabric Inspirations. And how. (What a great shop – reasonable postage & a great selection of fabric).  I was modest & made it out with just this tulip fabric, although could so easily have bought more.  But do you know what?  I never fully appreciated how absolutely fabulous this fabric was – clearly I thought it was pretty awesome to be lured into buying it – & out of all of the fabrics on sale, this was the one that I chose.  BUT it wasn’t until I had made it up & was wearing it that I was totally smitten.  This fabric is just beautiful – it’s soft to sew with (not a starchy craft type cotton) but that pattern is queen of red florals.  Official.
But, let’s get back to the shaggy dog story about this frock!  Folks, you wouldn’t believe what a relief it was to have finally made my decision & how difficult it had been! How ridiculous is that?! So the cutting out & sewing was straight forward by comparison.
I had already made Simplicity 2444  (here & here )& so had just about got the fit right on the bodice/ neckline – both front & back. If anything this time I was a bit over exuberant in taking out my customary centre wedges & could almost feel as if my boobs have been bound into *boy shape* torso, but mind over matter & it’s just *snug* (& maybe suitable for running?!?!).

simplicity 2444
The invisible zip was a veritable pain in the bum too. It seems as if invisible zips either work first time or it takes at least three unpickings later to get the alignment at waist seam correct. And I basted & it still slips. Mega frustrating that the zip can often take longer than constructing the bodice and setting in both sleeves. It’s still a very obvious to me 2mm out!
I have to say that for the skirt I just used rectangles & pleated them, not having enough fabric to use the shaped skirt pieces of Simplicity 2444. That meant I had to set my own pleats & by making the skirt out of a rectangle there is more volume at the waist than the pattern pieces. (OK, I did have enough fabric to use the pattern pieces then, didn’t I? ). I sat pleating my dress whilst watching the London marathon on the TV. It was brilliant coverage anyway & I was there thinking how cool it would be do be there & in it, knowing of a few people who were doing just that. Even that was pretty emotional, but then all the stories of participants who were sharing the personal reasons they were running got to me & there were a couple of instances where I had to stop pinning & measuring because the eyes were just a tad waterlogged. Oh my. What amazing things people do.

simplicity 2444


Look at the infant wisteria!  It’s in its first year & is producing blooms – my parents are so  enjoying it!
Other influences for this dress clearly come through MadMen which I am watching from the start. I don’t get the fancy channels so have never been able to watch more than the first two series, so treated myself to the box set of the first six and have been known to be all aswoon in the evenings – whether it is the dresses – or that oh-so-handsome Mr Draper. And random smile – I am loving the food styling – all the meals that are brought look exactly like the photos in style (& colour) as my first hand-me down cookery book from the 60s – Marguerite Patten’s.  Also, how weird that when I was sewing it there were times I felt I should have a fag in my hand (& I’ve never been a smoker!).

Now, I like to try to add a little bit of a scruffy badger touch when I’m taking part in something like this.  I looked for a cute redhead bobbed wig, but couldn’t find anything that was  in the right kind of styling.  I got my very willing Dad to take my photos with his super camera (thanks BG!).  And they are deliberately shot outside the front door.  (Not quite Georgian steps & railings).  So all I could think to do was this ….

sew dolly clackettI think Roisin will get it….

Which leads me onto the name of this dress. Because in reverence to Dolly Clackett, it has to have a name. I thought I had got it then, & was about to call it my “All aswoon” dress but that’s lame. This dress is covered in scarlet tulips.  Apparently, red tulips symbolise belief and  declaration of love.  How appropriate to make such a dress to celebrate the wedding of two Morse-loving peas in a pod – therefore comes the name, “The Happy Ever After Dress”.   Roisin & Nic, Wishing you all the very best for your exciting & fun life together 🙂 xx  This dress is for you.  BUT the good news is that I am so enamored with it there is a good chance that it will be my goto dress this summer & may even be my “Mother of a new graduate” dress.  It will certainly have lots of happy associations for me as well.

56 thoughts on “Happy Ever After dress: Sew Dolly Clackett

  1. Sue @ A Colourful Canvas

    {{{SIGH}}} The Happy Ever After Dress! I could wax poetic about your dress for as long as those tulips be blooming! Lovely, lovely dress! It’s my first visit here….shocking, I know! And you are adorable Miss Scruffy Badger!

  2. Karin

    What a delightful post this was. I was smiling all the time reading it. I just found your blog and am already looking forward to reading the rest of your posts 🙂

    Anyway, the dress is gorgeous. I can imagine you will get lots of use out of it. And you should! Wear it to the grocery store! Or the mall! Or just into the garden to look at your wisteria and wander around a bit. This dress deserves a lot of love. It’s beautiful!

  3. EmSewCrazy

    It’s Gorgeous! I love it! What a journey you’ve had with it as well. My dress never got past the dreaming stage. I think your analysis of a sewist is spot on too!

  4. Louise

    Winnie it’s fabulous!! Absolutely stunning. And the story you tell along the way has had me grinning from ear to ear.
    You’ll certainly cause a stir wearing it on graduation day!!! 😉

  5. Caroline Joynson

    That dress is beautiful and really looks gorgeous on you. Well done on another fabulous make.
    You deserve a swoonsome-cocktail and some 60’s style nibbles to celebrate your wonderful dress ; )

    1. Scruffy badger

      Thank you Tilly, have had a few scares with the last haircut when it was in danger of a bouffanting mullet, but thankfully rescued. Teaching me to Never go to the hairdresser without my inspiration pics !

  6. Sarah

    Winnie ! This is a sensational dress! The scarlet tulips are glorious (I love me some red floral prints) and your lovely shoes are so pretty! Marvellous, marvellous job!

    And the Kate Bush record cover?? So funny!

  7. Wendy

    I love this dress Winnie, it’s a truly splendid frock! I also need to thank you ( I think) for solving a dilemma I had. As you said, many of us have lovely frocks that we’ve made and probably not enough occasions to wear them. My son is also graduating this year and I’d told myself I have enough seldom worn frocks to choose from for the occasion, but now you’ve given it a name ‘Mother of a New Graduate’ dress, now I definitely need one of those 🙂

  8. Jane

    Aw Winnie it’s just goy-jus – you look absolutely beautiful (and so does the dress). I know I’ve said it before but this is far and away my favourite Sew Dolly Clackett entry – you need a winner’s trophy! If you don’t win, I’ll make you a trophy of your own out of leftover Easter Egg wrappings! xx

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Woo hoo!! You are too kind Jane, and I would be interested to see what you could fashion out of easter egg wrappings! Could it be a little gold coloured mannequin 😉

  9. Rachel

    ERM, stunning!!! (The dress isn’t bad either!). Great text too, even though I was so overcome I almost couldn’t read it. I particularly enjoyed this bit: “require minimum ironing (because I only seem to use my iron for construction!)”… ain’t that the truth! Have great fun giving everyone the pleasure of seeing you in this dress. Rachel ☺

  10. Amy

    Awwww how lovely. As I said in my post today. This competition is getting me all emotional! It’s amazing! Your dress is beauteous. Very well done!

  11. Scruffy badger

    Wowee peeps, thank you so much for all the lovely comments. I’m thrilled 🙂
    Who’d have thought that my stash could yield something so successful. Proving therefore that stashing is good!!

  12. Jenny

    I have nothing witty or insightful to say but just wanted to stop by to say how much I love this & how fantastic it looks on you! We don’t see you in this style too often but it really suits you 🙂

  13. Sam

    Fab-u-lous! This is my favourite of all the Sew Dolly Clackett dresses that have been appearing on the interwebs. It looks amazing on you.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Gosh! Sam, thank you. I’ve seen so many other lovelies that I had never thought I’d get such a response- & never entered it as a competition, more of a global wedding celebration 😉

  14. Barbara

    Gorgeous dress love that fabric. And what you say about invisible zips, so true! I had three attempts today to get one into my second Gabriola skirt, yet other times they can be perfect straight up.

  15. Tempest

    Hooray for the return of the frock! I love all your running wear, but it’s nice to see something flouncy too. Love that fabric, the blooms are so closely packed from a distance it looks like a random pattern…so it’s a bonus when you get up close. I think I might have to put some Kate Bush on now…

  16. Sigrid

    Swwooon. And frocks sound so much more ladylike to wear then mere dresses. You must feel like a fabulous bouquet of happiness wearing that dress.

  17. Ginger

    What an absolutely perfect dress! It’s beyond lovely! You look ADORABLE. And I hear you about marathons- I get so weepy! Same thing with the Olympics. It’s just so amazing to see people pushing themselves and achieving so much after so much work! Better stop now before I get all teary myself!

  18. Amanda

    Oh gosh, Winnie, this is such a beautiful dress and you look absolutely beautiful in it!! 🙂 What a lovely tribute to Roisin and Nic – I think everyone is a winner here! 🙂

  19. Roisin

    This is ridiculously beautiful – that fabric is actually PERFECTION. Winnie, thank you so much for taking part and for knocking out such a beautiful dress! And the cover of The Whole Story photoshopped over your face is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages. You’re amazing xxx

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