Madame Dressform and the Hem

Time for "me" sewing 

It seems to be a common issue among makers that we can easily find time to make things for other people, but finding time to sew for ourselves? ... later alligator.
When the only apron left in my kitchen was a child sized one, it was clearly time to bite the bullet and do some sewing for me.  
Strolling (which sounds better than the clucking flurry I usually effect) through town I spied two pretty tea towels which could be easily transformed into aprons. Use the scissors to cut two slight curves, whack on several lengths of 1" cotton twill tape and voila ...

The thrill of having two new, overdue aprons brought out my reckless side, so I pulled some favourite fabrics from my stash.
Double gauze is new to my sewing machine but this pretty grey medallion print from Ministry of Fabric motivated me to give it a whirl.
The quilters' cotton in the Lecien "Flower Sugar" range from Dolly Henry would be the bodice, and still wearing my quilter's tiara, I added a Lecien spot from Stitch Piece Loop as well.

The hot, humid Summer weather recently arrived with a bang and my wardrobe has not coped well at all. A cool and comfortable dress to wear on sweltering days has been high on the list.

I wanted a simple dress design so I didn't use a commercial pattern ... but I did use my BFF.
Allow me to introduce to you "Madame".

She is Robin to my Batman. She is my dressmaker's dummy (shhh)/ model/ mannequin/ dressform.
Regardless of what she's called in the outside world, inside the sewing room she is my best friend.
We have so much in common. We share the same taste in clothing, in music, in fabric. She knows how to listen, keeps my measurements a secret and is always willing to wear random fabric lengths, trims, yarn or hats waiting to be put in their rightful places.  
Since she joined my family almost two years ago, I can't imagine garment sewing without her.

When Madame came into my life her figure was slim and elegant. However there's not much use having a dress form which is not close to your own shape no matter how good she looks. Out came arms full of quilt batting scraps. A little padding here, a whisper there and soon Madame was a reasonable copy for my shape ... however, and this was a crusher ... she now looked like the Michelin Man.
Any semblance to a svelte waif had disappeared along with my supply of batting scraps.
Walk away. Breathe. Don't cry.
The solution was to drape and pin a favourite fabric over the batting, giving Madame a tasteful chemise.
Crisis averted. Everyone's happy.

Many dress form tutorials advise using one of your own favourite bras to give an accurate bust shape. That worked very well though the sacrifice hurt. The photo of the back view shows a length of thick string attached at the approximate position of the nape of the neck. At the bottom of the string is a bell. What ???  The weight of the bell keeps the string taut, allowing the string to be used as a Vertical Base Line. The thick string can be felt through most garment fabrics to show where the Centre Back is ... and the bell sounds pretty.

Together Madame and I made this sweet and swishy frock, featuring the pink stripe from "Milk, Sugar and Flower", Elea Lutz's debut range.

But it was only today I learnt what the pin grip hem marker was and just how amazingly useful this feature really is. 
You know when you get all excited because a wish has come true, and you're so excited to actually be using it that you don't actually take the time to find out all that it does?  
I had been using it ... to hang a pincushion on.

Getting an even hem level is a little tricky on your own. Take it from me, trying to turn your head 180 degrees is extremely uncomfortable unless you're an owl.

This handy little "doovey" (technical Kellie word), can slide up and down the support pole to whatever height you choose. The hem marker opens up and clamps onto your skirt fabric.

Your pin slides through the slot and into your fabric so that you can open the little clamp up again to move the hemming feature around the whole hem, while leaving each pin to mark the spot.
Doing this all the way around the skirt achieves a line of pins which is parallel to the floor. Hooray!

Next, I removed the dress from Madame and cut along the line marked by the pins.
* No pins or scissors were harmed during this process. 

I then neatened the edge of the fabric, which can be done on an overlocker or a sewing machine. 

As gorgeous as Madame is, it's still necessary to try the garment on myself at various stages to check progress is going in the right direction. When I put the dress on I realised I only had enough surplus skirt length to allow a small hem. Not a problem, but I'm glad I checked or it would have ended up as a mini dress ... eek!

Off to the iron to press up the hem to the desired amount. Pressing at this stage makes for a smoother hem finish.

All finished and ready to wear, so cool and so comfortable :)
Double gauze verdict? It's so soft, it'll be on my wish list again.

Madame and I would like to thank you for joining us today and hope we see you again soon,

Kellie and Madame,


  1. Both of your dresses look so pretty Kellie! They're the perfect thing to wear in this weather, aren't they?
    Madame sounds like the perfect sewing companion. Sewing anything more complicated than a button quite frightens me - I think you're very clever to be able to navigate the sewing world.

    I hope you're keeping cool today!
    Sarah x

    1. Thank you for the garment love! Madame makes garment sewing more fun. Who needs to sew when they can knit like you do :) x


© Sew Mimi.K

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig