Making My Own Wardrobe: The Sausage Dog Mortmain Dress

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I’m really enjoying taking part in Me Made May for the first time this year and sharing my daily outfits over on my Instagram account, as it’s the perfect opportunity to take all of the dresses I have been sewing up lately out for a spin. Tonight I’m showing off a Mortmain dress I finished this week in this gorgeous Cath Kidston sausage dog print. I’m also going to include a little round up of the Mortmain dresses I have made so far at the end of this post, and a few thoughts on the pattern (which is fast becoming one of my favourites!).

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Outfit details: “Billy & Baxter” dress – made by me in Cath Kidston sausage dog canvas fabric using the Gather Mortmain dress pattern /  Hair tie – Modcloth (last year) / Dog on Wheels necklace – Tatty Devine (an awesome Christmas gift from Michael) /  Dot to Dot Shoes – Irregular Choice

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When Cath Kidston launched this sausage dog print last year it was love at first sight for me – I have a real soft spot for sausage dogs and although I don’t yet have a real life version (maybe some day…) I have all manner of sausage dog inspired accessories, along with a sausage dog shaped cushion we bought on our honeymoon in New York who Michael affectionately named Billy, and a cute little sausage dog cuddly toy called Baxter. As you can tell, names always had to start with a B in our house to go with our surname Barry!

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Sadly Cath Kidston didn’t make a dress in this print, so when I saw this fabric pop up on ebay back in January I immediately snapped it up to create my own version.

The fabric is a fairly heavy canvas which is not really intended for dressmaking, but I thought it would suit the Mortmain as it holds the shape of the box pleats well. I took a little extra effort over the finishings for this dress to make sure that the canvas holds up – I lined the bodice in pink cotton, and finished all of the remaining seams with pink bias binding. It was worth the extra effort as I love this fabric so much I wanted to make sure the dress lasts and canvas can otherwise fray around the seams, and it is quite satisfying when the inside of the dress is almost as pretty as the outside!

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This is the fourth Mortmain I have made now and I love the pattern. When I started getting really interested in dressmaking at the end of last year, I spent quite a bit of time browsing dress patterns online looking for shapes which are similar to my favourite ready to wear dresses. One of my favourites is the Lucy dress by Emily & Fin as I love the fitted waistband and flirty skirt, and the Mortmain is a very similar shape so it was an obvious choice. I also like that it is categorised as being for “ambitious beginners” – perfect for me!

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Now that I have finished my fourth version of this dress, I wanted to share some thoughts on the pattern.

  • I made my first Mortmain (far left) with no fitting adjustments. The dress mostly fits very well, but there was some excess fabric around the neckline and shoulders which is a common problem for me as I am quite narrow around the shoulders. I don’t like my dresses to be too close fitting as I wear dresses every day and prefer to have a good amount of ease for comfort, but I did want to get the neckline sitting flat.
  • I’ve been gradually working on tweaking the bodice each time to get a better fit. To achieve this, I’ve taken out a few centimetres from the shoulder seams, then added it back in lower down in the bodice to stop the waist sitting too high, and moved the darts down accordingly. For the sausage dog version, which was my latest make, I also used a larger seam allowance around the armholes to narrow the shoulders, and tapered the side seams from a 2.5cm seam allowance at the top to the regular 1.5cm at the bottom to pull in the sides. Both these tweaks have made the neckline, shoulders and arms sit much better. I know these are probably not the proper methods to adjust fit, but I am still learning so for now I am trying to just make easy alterations to the pattern as I go!
  • This is the first dress pattern I have made with pleats, and I like the sharp box pleats and the fullness it gives to the skirt. For the yellow owl print dress (second from right) I switched things up by gathering the skirt instead of pleating it, and I might make a few more like this too.
  • I now fully line the bodice even though the pattern doesn’t call for this and uses facings instead. I tried this for the first two, but I find facings a little annoying sometimes when they flap up, and I much prefer the feel and finish of a fully lined bodice.
  • The pattern uses an exposed zip, which is perfect as I have become slightly obsessed with these beautiful lace zips – they are now a trademark feature on all of my dresses!

All in all, I have found the Mortmain to be a really lovely pattern to sew. It is perfect for beginners who want to make something more fancy but without too many fiddly parts to trip up over, and I love the silhouette of the dress. I will be making many many more!

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In case you are interested, the fabrics I have used for my Mortmains so far (from left to right) are:

  1. Cotton & Steel Homebody Button Jar in aqua (from Miss Matatabi on Etsy but not currently available there)
  2. Cotton & Steel Mustang Metallic Arrows Navy
  3. Japanese owl print barkcloth (from Miss Matatabi – not available in this colour but similar here)
  4. Cath Kidston Sausage Dog canvas

Lucy x

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2 thoughts on “Making My Own Wardrobe: The Sausage Dog Mortmain Dress

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