Dodgson! We’ve got Dodgson here! See, nobody cares

This is my entry for the Sew Dolly Clackett competition – you can see the other entries here. This challenge is the brainchild of Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones; the challenge is to sew up a dress in the style of Dolly Clackett – AKA Roisin – to celebrate her upcoming wedding. Roisin has a very clearly defined personal style, which includes a lot of 50s silhouettes, especially fit and flare dresses, bright colours, novelty fabrics and awesome shoes. Check out her blog and you’ll soon get the idea.

After weeks of searching for something suitable (kids bedding anyone?) I actually struck gold at one of my regular haunts, Scope Lewisham. This is actual fabric, people! That almost never happens. I think this is probably only the second time I have ever bought actual fabric from a charity shop in all my years of rummaging. The slightly novelty print is blue and white circles, reminiscent of china plates, and all the circles are the same. I paid £3 – not bad for almost 1.5m. I actually pre-washed this (!) since it was new, and it came out really stretched along the bias. Luckily, being quilting-weight cotton, I was able to press it back into shape with lots of steam and a fair amount of elbow grease.



Anyway, that’s the craic with that. Onto the construction.

I wanted to emulate Roisin’s seemingly all-time favourite pattern, the now-infamous Simplicity 2444 (she has made this and frankensteined this so many times I’ve lost count). This design has a pair of darts at the front waist that appear parallel and point inwards. Here’s a rough sketch of the shape. I actually was able to draw around my block (I have them cut out in cardboard), pivoting as I went along, to open two darts in the right place. I moved the outer dart point down and left, bringing right leg of the dart parallel to the left leg of the other dart. I cut the neck into a rather wide boat neck.

In case you’re wondering, no fancy fabric markers or chalk pencils here. I used a biro (black) directly on the back of the fabric.


Cutting out was pretty straightforward, except I ended up with a seam in the back and back facing due to a silly mistake.

Working with this quilt-weight cotton was so, so easy and very enjoyable as it responded beautifully to steam and held its creases really well. I used the pinking shears I got for Christmas on the seam allowances and any raw edges. I don’t understand why pinked edges get such a bad rep; it’s so quick and easy and keeps bulk to a minimum, especially on things like the edges of facings where you don’t want it to show through.

Here’s the front in progress. Unfortunately you can barely see the darts because of the print, but they look pretty good I think.


And here’s the back… you can see where I made a mistake and had to have a seam at centre back. The pattern almost matches. Enough to make it look intentional, but not enough to be called successful. Gah.


Some more work in progress shots…

P1150245 P1150246

I haven’t included any information on the skirt as it’s just a gathered rectangle, though I overestimated the length a bit and had to take it up a couple of inches before wearing.

And here it is on! The fit isn’t half bad… and we even did our best to get the obligatory ‘front door’ shots.

P1150247 P1150248 P1150249




Congrats Roisin and Nic and thanks Sarah for hosting such a fun challenge!




  1. Claire

    Oh wow! Don’t you just love chazza fabric finds! Great job, the finished dress is beautiful. Good luck in the competition!

  2. Nissa

    So sophisticated and fun – great sew dolly Clackett and I’ve also been wondering whether a single gathered fabric rectangle makes a good skirt – now I know. Love this.

  3. Tempest Devyne

    Oh my gosh, that’s such a fabric score! Fabulous. And I’m so glad that unlike I’d have done, you didn’t place the design so you’d have plates for boobs, Xena Warrior Princess Crockery bodice-ing. Love the doorstep photos and fantastic shoes!

    • charityshopchic

      I just had to do the doorstep images – it would have been rude not to! Truthfully I didn’t give much thought to pattern placement, which means I was quite lucky in the end!

  4. erin

    Such a pretty dres,, fits you so well and I like the skirt best! It’s a rather sophisticated form of a gathered skirt, love it!

  5. sewamysew

    This is so Clacket worthy but (and I think this is the point really) it totally suits you as well. That fabric was such a find, the colour is devine. Nice job on not ending up with two plates directly on your tits. I loves it I do. I can hear Dolly squealing from over here. ;)

  6. youngseamstress

    Wow, this looks great! That fabric was a great find! I’ve recently started pinking my seams as well, and I completely agree with you – it’s probably my favourite seam finish for anything that doesn’t fray too badly. I love the ease of it!

  7. Katy

    Oh wow, its gorgeous! IThat fabric is such a fab find, and the dress is stunning. Very dolly clackett but also looks fabulous on you.

  8. Kasia

    Absolutely gorgeous! You look splendid in this dress :))) I adore Dolly Clackett blog, she has truly unmistakable style and your rendition is great. I wish they had such fantastic fabrics at our charity shops…. Great job :)))

  9. Agy

    At first I thought you got some great plates at the thrift store, and then I saw the amazing dress you made!

  10. Rosanna

    Sorry if you’ve already answered a question on this or written it somewhere on the blog but I was wondering what you use to draw up the patterns like the bodice one above? I’ve seen a couple on other posts of yours as well that looks like it might be some kind of pattern software but could equally be very skillful use of Paint or something!!

  11. ooobop!

    Such a striking dress. I love that you whipped it up from your own block. And I completely understand the joys of finding fabulous fabric in a charity shop. Especially when it’s as cool as plates!! x

  12. Melissa

    I came to the website to ensure I hadn’t missed an updated post. Miss seeing your refashions – hope all is well. All the best – Melissa

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Melissa, thanks for stopping by. I’m just taking a breather! Will be back soon with some more ridiculously ugly garments sourced across Europe for your viewing pleasure!

  13. Nina

    Beautiful beautiful fabric! Reminds me of vintage dishes or Toile de Jouy…I’m really envious!!

    You’re so creative and I’m sure I’ll now stop by frequently :)

    Best wishes from Germany!

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