Sunday, 15 May 2011

Horrockses to it

An age ago the UK girls decided to have a real life meet in London. We planned to visit the V and A museum. The suggestion was made that we might try to make a dress that is on display in the V and A, you can even buy a replica in the shop:

Rather pretty isn't it? You can download the pattern for free from the V and A website. So I was hooked. Long story short, here I am in mine:

Quick accessories round up:

White shrug: Monsoon
Rosette: crocheted by me when I was on holiday
Gloves: ebay find
Plastic beads and clip on earrings: from Aunty Peg, vintage (or as she puts it, old)
Shoes: models own (lol)

I am all dressed up ready to go to London for the meet, which was yesterday, in my Horrockses dress. The dress was originally made by Horrockses in the 1950s. It's a day dress.

Here is my pattern review:

The pattern is free. (I now realise that some things are worth paying for). It is easy to download from here and can be printed out anywhere.

The download is in 3 parts (instructions, bodice and skirt). If you print it at home you need 60 odd sheets of A4 paper.

Then you need to stickytape it together. I spent about 2 hours doing this. But it was free, right?

I don't fit into the sizes on the free pattern (largest waist 76cm, ha ha). So I had to grade the pattern up. Cut to the chase: I spent 8 hours in total resizing pattern pieces and making muslins under the guidance of my lovely teacher Kate at dressmaking class.

So, three classes and 8 hours in I have still not cut any pieces of my fabric and I am a couple of weeks from the UK meet when I need a red, white and blue British themed dress. Cost so far: nothing for the pattern, 40 quid for the dressmaking classes. At this point I nearly gave up. The muslin still wasn't right. But with not much time left drastic action was called for: I just started the bloody thing anyway. It took me about 8 or 9 hours.

Total make time 17 hours.
Cost: about £22 (cost from V and A for ready made, £95!)

Stuff I liked about this pattern:

I was making a Horrockses dress of my own
The pockets are very clever indeed
The bodice comes together well
The sense of accomplishment when I finished was amazing

Stuff I didn't like:

I didn't understand the instructions, I would not have been able to do this at all without an experienced dressmaker to tell me what to do
The hand sewing took ages (hem, lining)
Resizing the pattern was a pain in the proverbial


1. Pay for a pattern, it's worth it
2. I should try to tackle things I am actually capable of doing
3. Anything is achieveable with a patient and talented teacher

But I did it!


  1. And yours was SO much better made than the ones they were selling in the V&A!

    Congratulations on getting through it all in the end you looked fantastic!

  2. You did it!!!!!!!!!!!! yea,yea.. I am so proud of you.. I would have quit a LONG time ago.hahha. when things get rough...I want to quit..You proved to me...that I must learn to keep on ...keeping on.
    The final results are WONDERFUL.. The dress is just the most beautiful thing. I love,love,love it.!!! you just looked beautiful .
    Happy sewing..

  3. Hi there, well done to you! I too am giving this a go. I have graded mine one size larger than the size 14 and have cut it out. Do you think it makes up true to size??? I must confess I am a wee bit hesitant to even start!!! Otherwise your advise is brilliant, I imagine it will take me a while :-) Dee

  4. hello dee
    I confess I had alot of help grading this up - I go to a sewing class and the teacher helped me. I made 2 mock ups of the bodice before I started with the real fabric to see if it would work. It is a lovely pattern though and I have had heaps of comments every time I wear it. Good luck with your version x