The Bella Dress

I bought this fabric during a de-stash on Instagram. It’s difficult to buy fabric online, and this is certainly a fabric I wouldn’t have bought in a shop. The colour is great, but its such an odd fabric type. It has some stretch in it, but the recovery is poor. It also has a very loose weave, and I’m not convinced it will last long. For that reason I wanted to make a dress that I wouldn’t be too concerned about if it didn’t last long. I also want to apologise for blogging about a clearly winter dress in the height of summer, but I did make it in the summer, so I thought I would blog about it now.

The pattern I chose was the Bella dress which was a freebie pattern with Love Sewing. It’s a 60’s style dress and the collar really appealed to me. It’s meant for a fabric with 2-way stretch. It also has bell sleeves.

I cut a straight size 14, sewed all my seams on my overlocker, and then sewed my darts on a sewing machine. The fabric was really difficult to mark, so my darts aren’t perfectly aligned. Because it was an overlocker sew, it didn’t take long at all to sew. The pattern requires an invisible zip in the centre back seam, but I cut this on the fold and omitted the zip and seam as this fabric has enough stretch to not need an opening. I also suspect that it would be near impossible to insert a zip into this sort of fabric.

Once I tried this dress on I realised that the bell sleeves were too big, not subtle 60’s, but more like fancy dress. So I took in good couple of inches at the cuff up to the elbow, as a result this is  much more wearable dress. The sleeves have been hemmed on a sewing machine, and then the raw edge overlocked, in doing so it’s stretched the fabric, and the sleeves have a bit of a “wave” to them.

The final version of my bell sleeves


Let’s just take a moment to admire the best feature of this dress, the neckline. It’s a wide collar band sewn onto the neckline unlined. Its about 6 inches deep, so falls really nicely around the face. I’m not sure this is sewn exactly as the instructions suggest, but I’ve attached the collar to the neckline, finished the raw edge with an overlocker, and then just tuck it in when I wear it.

Because of the fragility of the fabric, and the poor quality, this dress is probably destined for a short life as a cosy winter’s day dress to wear around the house with tights and then a swift transition to the rag bag. Having said that, I like this dress for now, so as for as long as it is wearable and doesn’t stretch out of shape too much, I’ll wear it, but I won’t get too attached as it will probably be a short love affair.


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