Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pattern Testing: The Betty Dress from Sew Over It (and a giveaway!)

I was lucky enough to be asked a few weeks ago by Lisa from Sew Over It to test their latest pattern release; the Betty Dress. I jumped at the chance as it's a gorgeous classic design with the potential to be made up numerous times, each completely different from the next as Lisa herself has been proving by instagraming pics of her own 'Bettys' every day for the past week! Sew Over It is a beautiful sewing cafe and shop in Clapham South London that strangely enough I lived literally around the corner from when it first opened quite a few years ago now. Betty was one of the first patterns Lisa designed for her classes in the cafe and as the name suggests is based on the early style of Betty Draper from the ever popular Mad Men. As you may therefore expect the design features a full circle skirt and fitted bodice reminiscent of the 1950s.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It

I made mine up in a lovely lightweight cotton sateen which I came across in Simply Fabrics in Brixton. It's such great quality I knew it was perfect for this dress the second I saw it. It's that perfect weight that's drapey enough for a dress of this style yet completely opaque even in bright sunlight. This dress would be gorgeous in a floral but I was concerned about how much wear I'd get out out of such a feminine dress. This print on the other hand gives it a more modern twist (or at least I hope!). It's exactly the kind of print that I like, slightly random with no obvious motifs.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It

I cut the skirt on crosswise grain as I thought the directional pattern would look best this way. I really like how the lines of the pattern meet to form a different kind of pattern around the waist.
If you're thinking of making this up it's worth bearing in mind that that beautiful skirt is a real fabric eater! You will need around 3m of 140cm wide fabric (although to be honest I managed to squeeze mine out of less than 2.5) or 4.5m of 115cm wide. Totally worth it though, I love a circle skirt!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It


My favourite part of the design is definitely the neckline, skimming under the collar bone at the front and plunging into a deep v at the back it's so elegant. Mine unfortunately gapes slightly at both the back and front which I think is due to it stretching out slightly. Naughty me, should have stay stitched my neckline! I don't think this is helped by the fact that my fabric has a bit of crosswise stretch to it but I would recommend to anyone making this pattern to use twill tape to reinforce the whole neckline to give it a bit of stability. That deep v means the neckline edge is on the bias so very prone to stretching.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It

I finished all the inside edges on my overlocker so I just love how neat and professional it looks inside. The hem is, I'm not going to lie, pretty gargantuan so as this is quite a busy print I cheated for once and hemmed by machine. I used a trick which I picked up from the girls at By Hand London and Jen at Grainline Studio for dealing with the curved edge. I machine stitch around the hem 1/2" away from the edge first and then use this line of stitching as a guide for pressing up the first turn of the fabric. Not only does this save you the pain of measuring all the way around the hem but the tight row of stitches really helps to ease that slightly longer edge of fabric into the slightly smaller circumference you are turning it into.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It


The pattern is not lined but includes 'all-in-one' neckline facings. The method for attaching the facings caused a little head scratching to start with but a brief bit of fiddling about later and I was super impressed with the result. The facings also finish off your straps and there's a bit of pulling through to the right side to be done which reminded me very much of a scene in the most recent series of Great British Sewing Bee! Following Lisa's instructions for the construction will ensure that you get a lovely finish all round to be honest. It's all very simple techniques but is well thought out and ordered to come together as smoothly as possible. The instructions also include a great simple tip for helping to insert your invisible zip evenly and thanks to it my waistband matched up perfectly first time!


I cut a size 8 (the smallest size) and the fit came up pretty much ok but a teeny bit large all over. I think it's definitely worth tweaking to get it right though as I love this flattering style so much. It's slightly longer in length than I'd wear a skirt this full usually and perhaps a little long in the bodice but that's purely down to my lack of height at 5ft3! This picture below is a little odd but you can see the excess fabric under the bust quite well. Maybe I need to try Roisin's trick of sticking it in a fairly hot wash to shrink it a little! 

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It

Speaking of Roisin, once I'd made this up I realised it was perfect to enter in the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge! Roisin is getting married at the end of may and as a little wedding gift some of my favourite blogging ladies have arranged an amazing surprise for her. There's a contest running in the sewing blogosphere to make up a dress inspired by Roisin's unmistakeable handmade style. She's a big fan of printed cottons, a fitted bodice and a full skirt and was even one of the other Betty Dress pattern testers! There's some brilliant prizes up for grabs which the bride herself will be judging the winners of. If you'd like to get involved you've got until April 23rd to get a pic of your make uploaded to the Flickr group. Roisin and Nic, I hope you have the most amazing day and wish you all the happiness in the world for the future!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It

Now to what you've all been waiting for! I have one copy of the Betty Dress pattern to giveaway to a lucky winner. The dress comes in a range of sizes, comes complete with instruction booklet and is printed on some rather lovely (which may be an odd thing to comment on!) pattern paper. It's perfect timing too as I know Lisa has a sew-along planned for this pattern on the Sew Over It blog soon. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post saying you'd like to be in with a shot. You have until 6pm (GMT) on Saturday 19th April to enter and I'll announce the winner on Sunday. Good luck!

EDIT: I should have said the giveaway is open internationally so feel free to enter from wherever inthe world you may be!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Pattern Testing the Betty Dress Sewing Pattern from Sew Over It

125 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous dress! I love the neckline. I'd love to be in with a shot at winning!

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  2. Gorgeous as ever Miss Parker! xx

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  3. It's been ages since I attempted an all in one facing. They do look swish though. As do you. Very swishy! Do you have nice dancing plans for this dress?

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    1. I wish! I have got a couple of weddings coming up but have made too many pretty dresses recently! I guess I'll have to make my own plans for swishing!

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  4. lovely pattern! And nice fabric :)

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  5. Hi Fiona

    I'm new to your site, but loving it!

    I love the dress, and you've done such a lovely finish!

    Evelyn x

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    1. Thank you Evelyn! I'm so glad you hear you are enjoying my blog!

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  6. Gorgeous dress & I wouldn't have noticed the fitting issues if you hadn't pointed them out! Love the fabric :) I'd love a copy of the pattern. It looks like my ideal bodice & who doesn't love a full circle skirt!!

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    1. O it's good to hear that you didn't spot the fitting issues immediately, I feel very conscious of them when it's on so think I might have to do a bit of altering!

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  7. Lovely Pattern, and gorgeous dress, I would love to win this as I have made the 1940's tea dress by sewoverit and love it! Fingers crossed xx

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  8. I love this dress and I love your version. It's a perfect design for prints because there are so few seams...less pattern matching issues ;-)

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    1. Absolutely! I'd never thought about that before but maybe that's where my preference for random prints comes from!

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  9. This is such a lovely dress, and the print really suits it. Would love to et my hands on the pattern; the back neck bodice detailing is perfect, and I love fit and flare dresses

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  10. Beautiful dress which looks fantastic on you. I would love to enter the giveaway if it is offered to international readers. Thanks

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    1. Thank you Ronniie! Yes it is open internationally, sorry I should have pointed that out! I've amended the post now so everyone will know they are free to enter!

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  11. Love this dress and great fabric choice! I just posted a circle skirted dress on my blog too- they are by fary favourite except when it comes to hemming!!
    I would love a chance at winning the pattern, it's definitely one I've had my eye on ;)
    Jenny xox

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    1. Oo I'll have to check out your circle skirt! They are a bit of a nightmare with the hemming aren't they? The way I machine hemmed this was surprisingly quick and I've found a good box set to sit in front of is a big help if you're hand hemming!

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  12. It's such a pretty dress - and that's a really good tip about hemming the skirt - I always find that such a pain but your way sounds much easier!

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    1. It really is a big help! I don't mind the stitching but pressing all that length up twice really bores me!

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  13. Ooh - forgot to say that I'd love to win the pattern!

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  14. That fabric print is awesome!
    I didn’t think that I liked this dress all that much when I first saw it, but your version has just changed my mind! I love it!
    Thanks for the chance to win my own copy!

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    1. O that's a lovely thing to hear thank you Jana!

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  15. Love the fabric you used for this. I would like a chance to make this pattern, Thanks!

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  16. Love the swooshy skirt shot at the end! I'd definitely like to be in with a chance of winning the pattern too! Thanks Sophie

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  17. Beautiful dress! Thanks for the giveway!

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  18. Lovely! Please enter me in the draw!

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  19. Beautiful dress! I'd love to swirl too! Please enter me in your contest!

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  20. I'd love to be in with a shot too! :) Lovely dress and a perfect entry to the Sew Dolly Clacket competition too!

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  21. I love this pattern - please enter me into the draw!

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  22. I love that fabric! I think that cutting that fabric pattern on the crosswise grain really gives it a lot of visual movement. I'd love to win this pattern -- it looks like it would be great for a summer wedding.

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    1. Oo that's a lovely way to put it Melanie! Perfect description of how the different directions of the pattern work together, it reminds me of waves or something

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  23. Lovely dress! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway!

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  24. I've just started seeing this dress popping up here and there and I'd love to win a copy (as I have a self imposed ban on buying any more patterns ATM!). I adore your version, it is very 'you'. Oh how I wish my local fabric shop sold lovely fabric like that, but no.Now, nasty poly knit with metallic leopard print...they have that sorted!

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    1. There's plenty of that around my way too believe me! It's a lovely compliment to hear that a dress is very 'me' thank you!

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  25. Lovely dress - Please enter me in the draw.

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  26. Ooooh, I love this pattern! I've seen several different versions, and I love each one! I'd love a shot at the give-away :). And it's a perfect Dolly Clackett entry - I was thinking that pattern would be great!

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    1. I know, I can see why Lisa from Sew Over It asked Roisin to test the pattern, it's like her ideal dress style! It's very versatile too isn't it

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  27. I'd love to be entered in the giveaway.

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  28. This is so beautiful! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  29. I'd love a shot at that beautiful pattern. Thanks!

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  30. Oh I'd love to be in the drawing for this. Such a fabulous pattern!

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  31. Beautiful! My daughter would look lovely in that dress. But.. I'd need to figure out what bra to buy for her! She's never worn a dress that didn't cover a regular bra line before.

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    1. I've actually got a regular bra on here Angela, it's got fairly skinny wide set straps in a similar colour to the dress. They might peek out after a bit of moving around but I don't feel like I need to go with a strapless one or anything. I hope you do make it up for your daughter, I'm sure she'll love it!

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  32. Your fabric is great, perfect choice. I would definitely love to win a copy of this pattern.

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  33. Ive been eyeing this pattern out so Im definitely in.
    Love your version, your fabric choice is perfect too. x

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  34. Oh what a goreous dress! I love dresses like this one, they can make a girl feel so feminine and pretty, like clothes should! :-) Oh and it goes without saying, but: I'd love to have a chance to win the pattern and try and make something pretty like that for myself!

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  35. You really do make the nicest items! I'm so keen to get a copy of the Betty dress. I would wear it all summer!

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  36. The simple style of the dress really suits the fabric you've chosen. It looks beautiful on you. I'd love to win a copy of the pattern. Thanks for doing the giveaway.

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    1. It's definitely a great pattern for showcasing a print!

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  37. That hem tip is genius! Thanks for the reminder on importance of stay stitching too. Your dress looks lovely on & I really like your pairing of the 50s style with the modern fabric. I'd love a chance to make this dress up - thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. The hem tip has literally changed my life when it comes to circle skirts!

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  38. Love the fabric. Please enter me in the giveaway!

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  39. Please enter me! Would love a chance to look as good as you do in this dress :) sarah (sarahfreebairn@hotmail.co.uk) xx

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  40. Looks great!! I love the low back neckline as well. Please enter me in the drawing, thank you!!

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  41. This is so lovely on you! I really love the print! Leave me out of the giveaway, but I just wanted to say how nice this dress is!

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    1. Aw thanks Sonja! The fabric was one of those 'saw it and couldn't leave it behind' moments!

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  42. Giveaway?? Count me in! Absolutely love the print :)

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  43. I love the dress and the print on you! I would love to enter the giveaway, 'cause it is a style of dress I really, really like and would love to sew!

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  44. Love your fabric choice! The bodice of this pattern is so pretty and a great basic.

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  45. Ooh what a beautiful version of the dress! Love the fabric. I'd love to win this pattern!

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  46. Beautiful dress, I'd love to try it, the back is so lovely.

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  47. What a pretty dress! I agree with you, my favourite feature is that neckline and deep v - so lovely!

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  48. I'd love to win this pattern! This looks like a perfect dress for cocktail parties/fancy summer gatherings!

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  49. That dress is beautiful, especially made up in that fabric!

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  50. This dress is perfect for summer, would love to make one!

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  51. Beautiful dress - would love to win the pattern

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  52. This is such a lovely looking style, would definitely love to give it a go. As an aside - you've mentioned that you've been sewing recently for your boyfriend and I'd be interested to hear about that in more depth as I'm tempted into the world of sewing for men after making my other half a waistcoat to wear for our wedding!

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    1. O how lovely! Have you blogged about it? I'd love to see. I've made my boyfriend a shirt but am still trying to persuade him to pose for pictures! I've really enjoyed it as the fitting seems much less complicated! Have you seen the pattern company Thread Theory? They are fairly new but just do sewing patterns for men, worth a look!

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  53. This is lovely! Please try the hot wash shrinking method as the dress is too good to not wear it! It's a style that's right up my street, so I'd love a chance to win!

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    1. O Vicki-Kate this style would look so great on you! The dress is going in the wash today on your orders!

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  54. Love the dress and the fabric you chose!

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  55. Your dress looks great Fiona :) and I'll remember to shorten the bodice if I make it! Please enter me into the giveaway :) Thanks!

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  56. Gorgeous dress! I'd love this pattern ;)

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  57. What a lovely dress. You've done an amazing job of it!! I'd love to give this pattern a try so I'd like to be in with a shot :-)

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  58. What a great pattern, I'd love to win this. Your dress looks lovely on you. I follow your method and stitch a pressing guide for hems that go on forever.

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  59. Love this dress, would love to win the pattern to make my own

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  60. What a pretty dress!
    I would love to win the pattern as I am a bit obsessed with all-in-one facings right now. They just look so professional and nice

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    1. I absolutely love the clean smooth look inside too! I'm going to have to try it out on some other patterns too

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  61. I'd like to be in with a shot! the back is really pretty!

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  62. This is gorgeous, you did a brilliant job! I'd love to be in the giveaway, who wouldn't?

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  63. I'm in! What a lovely pattern!

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  64. Hi Fiona, I'd like to be in with a chance of winning this gorgeous pattern as it would be perfect for me to wear to my parents 50th wedding anniversary party on June 7th - how nice to turn up in my very own handmade betty :)

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    1. O it would be the perfect dress for that occasion! if you are the lucky winner I'll be sure to post it out super quickly so you've got plenty of time to get sewing!

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    2. I forgot to say how lovely your dress is! Really nice, great job as always :)

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  65. Ooh I'd love to win this pattern!

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  66. very pretty, thanks for the giveaway!

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  67. What a great dress! The finishing is amazing - love it!

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  68. Great dress! I'd love a chance to make my own petite version -- I'm an inch shorter than you!

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  69. Your dress is beautiful, and the pattern is lovely! I'd love to win a copy ;)

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  70. Your dress is beautiful and I'd love to be in for a chance to win the pattern- you have inspired me! Xx

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  71. Your dress is gorgeous! I think yours is a more modern take than if you had used a floral fabric with that circle skirt, I love it! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

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  72. It looks great on you - you're right that the print of your fabric gives the dress a more modern feel. Thanks for the giveaway, count me in please - I'd love this pattern! :)

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  73. Oh you are beautiful in this dress. I would like to sew it too. So thanks for this giveaway 😊

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  74. I agree that a dress with an abstract pattern is more versatile, and I like the way you have the pattern going different ways on the bodice and skirt! I'd love to win the pattern - I've made knit dresses but never had the courage to make one in a woven!

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    1. Thank you! I was unsure that I was making the right choice at first as i've never tried the different directions before but I love the finished effect! You're the opposite to me, I'm a little wary of knits! You can absolutely make a woven dress, so simple to sew!

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  75. Your dress looks lovely, and fab fabric! I would love the chance to win the pattern :)

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  76. Joanna Międzyrzecka16 April 2014 at 11:28

    Wish I have such a skill as you! Please enter me in the giveaway too!

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    1. O it's a super simple sew with great instructions so I'm sure you could make something just like this!

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  77. Hi There,
    I am new to dressmaking but I've managed to stumble on your blog and its great! You seem to like all the same things as me! I would love to be entered into the draw for the Betty dress,
    Many Thanks,
    Anne.

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    1. O thank you for your lovely comment Anne! It's always so lovely to hear people enjoy reading my blog! Good luck with your dressmaking!

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  78. Another beautiful dress! Your fabric choice was inspired, I really love the effect of the lines of the skirt at the waist. And I don't think doing a machine hem was cheating at all!!! lol.
    Please throw my name into the hat for the giveaway - this looks like the perfect dress pattern! Thanks :)

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    1. Thank you! It was a happy accident of finding the right print at the right time and having to have it! The print disguises the machine hem a bit so I'm glad I opted for the speedy method now!

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  79. Beautiful!! The abstract print does look great with the classic silhouette of this design. I'd love to have a go at making the Betty dress! :)

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  80. Please enter me in the drawing. Love this Mad Men inspired pattern especially the back neckline! You did a beautiful job!

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  81. I would love to win this! I love the dress, it looks so good for dancing, and it's adorable!! Please enter me! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  82. So gorgeous! Love that back detail ;o)

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  83. Lovely dress and lovely pattern! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  84. Your dress looks scrumptious. I would love to be in the draw for the pattern. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  85. Such a pretty dress :) I love your fabric! Hopefully I could find something similar if I win, lol.

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  86. Looks great! Nicely done. I love the fabric and the giveaway!

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  87. Such a beautiful dress, would love the chance to make and go dancing in this dress.

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  88. i think yours is a lovely version and I'd love to win this pattern ;o)

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  89. This turned out beautifully and is lovely on you...I'd love a shot to win this for myself. I've got some dressy luncheons that this would be perfect for!

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  90. Wow that dress turned out fantastic! I would love to be thrown in for the chance to win! I seem to hae a hard time visualizing what a pattern would look like "in real life" based off of just the drawings, so I am very grateful to all of those who spend the extra time to document their work online.

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  91. The crossgrain fabric on the skirt looks fantastic. It reminds me of Hobbs' Wessex dress with the grey checked pattern. Have you seen it?

    I would love the opportunity to try and make this Betty dress pattern. Please count me in!

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  92. Your dress turned out beautifully!! So neat and tidy inside. I love the back neckline - so sexy in a very subtle way. I would love to win this pattern and get started on a cute new summer dress. Thanks!

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  93. You look great in this dress. I love a swishy full circle skirt. The fabric looks awesome when you are twirling too. It looks like lights flashing by. I would love to try out this pattern.

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  94. I love seeing all the different Bettys popping up on the blogosphere. Your version looks so classic and timeless. Please include me in the draw!

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  95. Hi Fiona, I would like to be 'in it to win it' please. Im a big fan your blog, I have started my own here http://whipitstitchit.blogspot.co.uk/.

    Thanks for inspiring me.
    Steph

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  96. I have a wedding to attend later in the summer and this pattern would be perfect. I hope the dress I make looks as gorgeous as yours!

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  97. What a fabulous dress. Please enter me in the giveaway. I'd like an opportunity yo make it :-)

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  98. You have made a great dress. i love a deep v back neckline so would love a chance to have this pattern.

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  99. So pretty and swooshy! I love the back neckline and circle skirt, such lovely vintage style details, but I like how you have made it more modern with your fabric choice. Please don't enter me in the draw as I have so many patterns!

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  100. Ooh, gorgeous! I love the fabric and your make is so professional looking. You can't have too many Betty dresses, I missed the draw but you've encouraged me to buy it (that's a good thing!).

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!