Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Grainline Augusta Dress for the Hot Weather

I have been procrastinating. The Tai Chi jacket is still on hold, because I can’t face the fiddly job of finishing the Chinese buttons in this heat. And then, there are all the makes I promised myself in my #makenine which still aren’t happening. So what have I been making? A dress. Don’t fall off your chair! Yep, dresses and me aren’t exactly best friends, but with the weather ramping up to 40 degrees, even I have to admit that I actually want to wear a dress!

For Christmas I received a 2 metre length of cotton lawn fabric, in a bold print. On Instagram there are a couple of versions of the Grainline Augusta in really bold floral prints and these were the inspiration for my version (see Below). Naturally, I would have been happy with an Augusta shirt, but with 2 metres to play with I decided to make the dress. My reasoning was that if I didn’t exactly like it as a dress, I could always convert it to a shirt.

Here, I will just mention my one and only bugbear with Grainline Studios patterns. Jen is very very generous with the fabric requirements for her patterns. Looking at my size the Augusta is said to require 2.8 metres. Well, I used only 2 metres and I wasn’t skimping at all. In fact, I actually put the interfacing on one of the wrong lapel pieces and simply cut it again. I still have a little left over, but not much. My guess of needing 2 metres was actually pretty close; 2.8 metres are definitely not needed.

Augusta Dress Back View

The fabric

The fabric is a cotton lawn from Like Sew Amazing. It is quite a crisp fabric and isn’t transparent, so a perfect choice for this pattern.

Grainline Studios Augusta Dress

The construction

Having made this pattern before, it wasn’t a difficult make. I speeded through it nicely. There is also a very comprehensive sew-along on YouTube which is very clear. The lapels look tricky, but being guided through the process they come together beautifully. The instructions for the mitred corner hems are impeccable too. I think I made a better job of these two steps on this version too. (Practice really does indeed make perfect).

Yes, I made a minor error when I ironed the interfacing to the wrong lapel piece, but that was a total user error. I was doing some general ironing, and thought “oh yes, there is an ironing stage I can do on my Augusta” and I couldn’t be bothered to look at the instructions. It happens.

With this version I made the short sleeves with the cuffs. The cuffs are odd. They look fine when completed, but I really thought they were going to look like a hot mess until I got close to finishing them. The way they are folded up hides some seriously weird, “inside on the outside” action. The cuffs work, but somehow I feel uncomfortable knowing that only the fold hides an overlocked edge. I will have to just suppress that thought until the memory of the construction fades. Surely cuffs like this can be made more elegantly? That said the fold does stay firmly in place, unlike other cuffs I’ve made in the past, so perhaps this can be forgiven?

Grainline Studios Augusta Dress

The Outcome

It’s been hot this week and I am so grateful to have this dress to wear. There is plenty of air around me and it looks summery too. But there are no pockets. I know that that will put a lot of people off this pattern. I did toy with the idea of adding in-seam pockets, but I wasn’t sure and left them out. I like the Augusta dress modelled with the Grainline Driftless cardigan, so this would get round the pocket problem, although not in hot weather.


Grainline Augusta Shirt Part 3: Sleeves, hems and the finished shirt

This is my final installment on the Grainline Augusta Shirt make. I’ve previously written about the lapels and embroidery and the shirt construction. After finishing the embroidered yoke, it seemed just a hop, skip and jump through the remaining steps. These included sewing the front to the back, adding the sleeves and finishing the hems. I noticed when I tried on the shirt that it was a little wide and the sleeve caps descended a little too low, so at this point I made a quick alteration. The hems have mitred corners and I made a little error here because I had taken in the side seams. The split in the side-seams was no longer the same shape and I made my mitred corners so that the seams were a little narrower. It isn’t something very noticeable and completely my fault. The sew-along gave impeccable instructions if you ever need to do mitred hems, including trouble-shooting if the hem allowance is a little off kilter (which helped me after I had made my alteration).

My apologies for the crumpled look. I’ve spent too much time in the last day shifting stuff around the house ready for builders to come in. I even notice my knees look a little dusty too. Oh well, not the best photo-shoot but a snapshot of real life!

I have been wearing this shirt ever since, but mostly as a layer over a long-sleeved t-shirt. For this, it works really well. I suspect that the shirt might prove a little low-cut at the front to wear without a layer underneath. I’m not sure why I didn’t adjust the pattern for this, as I know that generally a neckline like this would invariably end up too low-cut. I suppose that I can change the pattern for next time. Having said that when I come to wear it without an under-layer in warmer weather it might seem fine to me, it’s a bit hard to make a judgement now; any lack of fabric feels drafty in this weather!

All in all this shirt is such an easy wear. In fact, I have been slinging it on in the mornings and literally forgetting that I am wearing it… a good way, because it is so comfortable to wear. Looking on Instagram, there just aren’t a huge number of Augusta shirts and dresses out there. Does the collar intimidate would-be makers? I hope not, but it is a really rewarding make and it can be casually-thrown on with a pair of years or could be a classy piece of work-wear.

Augusta Shirt: Back View with embroidered yoke


Grainline Augusta Shirt Part 2: The embroidery and constructing the shirt body

Happy New Year, everyone. I’m back again today with the next installment of the Augusta shirt. I have spent the last few weeks, in between all the usual Christmas preparations completing the embroidery. I think it is bold and has a folk-style vibe that was just what I was looking for. I have simplified the original Urban Threads pattern since it seems to me to be far more suitable for machine embroidery. All the long winding stems are made with stem stitch and the solid areas, such as the flowers, birds and leaves with satin stitch. This is what took the time, because to get that satin stitch beautiful requires time and a lot of stitching.

I can’t resist mentioning the light levels in the UK. I know I’ve moaned about it before. Unbelievably there have been only 27 hours of sunshine in the last month, according to the Met Office! So, that works out as less than one hour per day. At times I have felt that doing the embroidery has been a hopeless experience, it has looked so ragged at times, owing to my difficulties with getting the accuracy in the poor light. I really can’t abide the idea of hours peering at it with the aid of artificial light, so I hope you can excuse my moan!

I’ve added the darts, and created the back pleat. The next steps are sewing the yoke and side seams. The yoke uses the burrito method, which I’m looking forward to using. It has been a while since I used it. Even so, this all feels a lot more familiar though than the extensive lapel manipulation from a few weeks ago. Of course, I’m using Jen’s sew-along again, which I found so useful previously. She guides you right through every process meticulously. Actually, I have now ditched the written instructions altogether and not even bothered to open the file. Full points to the sew-along!