Glastonbury Circus Dress

Glastonbury Circus Dress

I have been quiet for a little while, friends, because I was busy planning my outfits for Glastonbury! For those of you outside the UK it’s a huge music and arts festival on a dairy farm in Somerset where you get muddy and sunburnt for the weekend, dance all night to Florence and the Machine, only to get up before dawn to watch the sun rise over the stone circle, then watch trapeze artists swing around the circus tent with churros in one hand and a mango lassi in the other. Well that’s how I like to do it anyway (minus the getting up bit obviously…).


This is my third year at Glastonbury and I’m very privileged to get crew tickets with my boyfriend’s family who work in the Theatre & Circus area. This means that we camp with some pretty famous comedians (Marcus Brigstocke and Shappi Khorsandi anyone?). It also means that you’ll go to brush your teeth and bump into someone cycling round the tents in stilts or casually cartwheeling down the breakfast queue.Glastonbury20158I took the circus tents as inspiration for my outfit this year. I wanted something bright and bold with a hint of victorian circus about it. First thing first I went back to my swirl skirt design from Christmas. I bought some red, yellow and blue polyester satin, but unfortunately the blue was a very dark navy and it looked a lot like the German flag when I laid it out. Don’t get me wrong, Germany has a lovely flag, but it doesn’t exactly scream circus victoriana at you does it? So back to the shop I traipsed and ended up with a slightly lighter blue, red and cream. Despite some smartarse pointing out that it looked like the French flag I was pretty happy with that combo and I had plenty of the blue colour to try out my new bodice sloper as well (I know, still unblogged, I’m working on it! All this festivalling keeps a girl busy you know.).

Glastonbury20155Here I am posing with my circus dress and matching tent! I am really pleased with this dress – it was just right for Glastonbury, although I wish I’d had time to sew on the gold sequin belt I had bought. I would definitely wear it to non-festival events as well, so I think I’ll get a bit more mileage out of it yet.

Glastonbury20153 The bodice was a pretty good fit. The armholes were still a little too high under the arms and I made a bit of a mess of the bias binding round the neck and armholes resulting in a bit of puckering, but hey, the fabric was slippery and I had a deadline. Certainly wasn’t the weirdest dressed person I saw over the weekend. The skirt’s curved seams were a lot less painful this time, I must be getting better at them! I’m really liking this skirt – I’ve got a tutorial in the pipeline, so watch this space and you could have your own fabulous multi-coloured skirt to twirl around in.

Aaand here are the obligatory twirling photos. Glastonbury20156 Glastonbury20157


Sakura Clemence Skirt

clemence skirt

All this work on bodice slopers and muslins left me in need of a quick sewing project! Plus I thought you all deserved some colourful pictures after all the beige muslin 😉 I recently invested in a copy of Tilly’s Love at First Stitch, so I decided to give the Clemence skirt a go. I’ve made self drafted gathered skirts before, but this time I decided I would follow some instructions and make sure I was doing it right!



This gorgeous cherry blossom fabric was a birthday present from Becca a couple of years ago, which I’ve only just had the guts to cut into (Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom, hence the name of my Clemence). I love me a Japanese inspired print and the red and black on the turquoise background is a very pretty colour way – I’ve realised recently that I don’t have enough light, summery colours in my wardrobe, so this skirt should help me bring in the summer in style.




I used red fabric for the pockets for a pop of colour and put in strips of shell fabric to stabilise the opening of the pocket. Worked out very well because I had a metre of fabric, which exactly cut into a waistband, front and back pieces and a little rectangle which I could cut into these strips. Feels so good when you have zero fabric waste! I always feel so guilty about wasting anything, so I have a big box of useless fabric scraps I can’t bear to part with. Might be quite cool to make a patchwork headscarf or something out of them? What do you do with fabric scraps?



Anyway, I digress! The construction of the skirt is very simple and Tilly’s instructions were very clear as usual. The one problem I had was some twisting of the fabric in the waistband. This was almost certainly because I very naughtily neglected to press the fabric before sewing down the inside of the waistband. This is what happens when I rush to complete a project before bed time! It actually looks fine when I’m wearing it, but I think I’ll unpick it and redo it when I have a spare hour because it’s annoying to have it nearly perfect.


SakuraClemence7All in all, I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of this skirt. I love the colours and gathered skirts with tops tucked in are a silhouette that I really like (more on that when I finally get back onto my Wardrobe Architect challenges!). I’m looking forward to trying the other Love at First Stitch patterns, especially Mimi and Lilou, but I’m still a bit afraid of the upper body fitting challenges, so I may wait until my sloper’s finished to get stuck into those.

The Bodice Sloper Saga: Craftsy and Muslins


So in my last post I went through drafting a bodice sloper and now I want to show you how I’ve been altering it to get the fit right. Are you ready for unflattering muslin pictures? You know you are!

First thing first, I bought a Craftsy course called Sew the Perfect Fit. This is an excellent video course for those of you that haven’t tried it. Lynda Maynard uses three models with various different fitting issues and she shows how to manipulate a muslin to get the right shape before taking you through applying these changes to the paper pattern.  The class comes with dress pattern Vogue #8766, which Lynda uses for all her fitting. I was told it could take 5 weeks to arrive in the post to the UK, but it actually arrived in about a week; they even sent me both size ranges because I ordered the wrong one and they didn’t charge me any extra!

Edit: Since posting this I have become an affiliate of Craftsy and have included affiliate links on this page. The views in this post remain my own, but clicking on these links will help support my blog.

I haven’t tried out the vogue dress yet, but Lynda’s happy to help you out with any other patterns you’ve got on the go so this is where my bodice sloper muslins come in! She has been extremely helpful, usually replies within a day and her advice has been bang on so far. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to have another go at a sloper without having someone on hand who could help me fix the fitting issues.

So, I took my bodice sloper and added grain lines (both horizontal and vertical) and a 2cm seam allowance so that I had a bit of fabric I could take out of the seams if necessary. I then cut out my muslin pieces and transferred grain lines and stitch lines and stay stitched the neckline. Next, I set my machine to a basting stitch and sewed up the bodice, leaving the back open so I could get into it. As you can see, it covered up all the important parts and did up at the back, which is always nice :)

This is the first time I’ve invested time in making a proper muslin rather than a quick mock-up in the lining material to check the fit and I’m really enjoying it. It’s like a little laboratory that I can chop into and draw on and pin and tuck as much as I like without ruining any of my precious fashion fabric. Although letting my boyfriend help out did result in rather more graffiti on my back than I’d bargained for. Fitting a bodice on your own is definitely do-able, but I would say it’s a lot easier if you can sweet-talk a friend into helping you out.


Unfortunately, as with all sewing projects, there are some fitting issues here! Lucky that I’d anticipated this with the Craftsy course, eh? One problem I ALWAYS seem to have is gaping at the front of the armhole, does anyone else get that? It never seems to be mentioned as a common fitting complaint. You can also see that the shoulders seams are way too long and the drag lines from the bust suggested an FBA was called for. For muslin number two I’ve made the following alterations to the paper pattern:

  • Take the fabric from the front of the armhole and transfer it to the front darts using the tip of the dart as the hinge point
  • Full bust adjustment of 1cm
  • Shortened the shoulder seam (already drawn on in the picture above)
  • Shortened the darts by 3 cm because they’re right on my apex in muslin 1.


If you’re wondering about the ribbon, it’s to mark my waist. I managed to go out half the day still wearing that ribbon under my dress the other day… Oops!

Muslin 2 fitted a lot better at the top, the armholes (I just had this spell-checked to ‘assholes’ :-/) had less gaping and sat on my shoulder point. There was some bagginess between the bust and waist, so I tried cutting the fabric above the breasts and pulling it down, but this made it even worse, so I sent off some more photos to Lynda. She suggested that I put the length back into the darts and then pull down the fabric again and see if it worked better. So for muslin 2.2 I changed these:

  • Added the 3cm back onto the darts
  • Inserted about 3cm of fabric above the gap

As always, Lynda was completely right, this looks miles better! I’m going to make these changes on the paper pattern and sew up a third muslin, which I’ll show you in a post very soon!

Have you made a bodice sloper? What issues did you have? Have you tried this method of cutting and manipulating the muslin before? It’s not something I knew about before, but it makes so much sense!