Penny black

You know how I said we were expecting a heatwave here in Seattle? Well, when I started this dress it had well and truly arrived and I melted like the Wicked Witch of the West in a water fight. Air conditioning is really not a thing round here so I spent most of my time sitting next to a fan and trying to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get my latest Sew Over It Penny quite finished before the warm weather disappeared.


Different location for my photos this time – there’s a mini allotment on the roof. We don’t have a tub but those tomatoes look like they’ll be pretty good in a week or two. 

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think rayon is the best fabric for summer. It is the only thing I wanted to wear because it’s so light, floaty and breathable. It’s perfect for wafting about the city on the hunt for the nearest ice lolly. That’s not to say it’s not without its pitfalls. While wearing my red Penny dress I went to the loo at our local cinema and got halfway down the street before I realised that my skirt was tucked into my knickers. I wouldn’t have clocked it had I not spotted my reflection in a window…

Despite that embarrassing experience I knew that my red Penny would not be my last, and that I’d crack out the rayon once more. I spotted this lovely bird/feather print on the Harts Fabric website (still in stock!) and, thinking that the birds all ran in the same direction, I bought 3.5 yards as suggested by the pattern notes. Turns out I needn’t have bothered. The birds face up and down, so with some clever placement I was able squeeze it out of about two yards – plenty left over for something else I think!


Who needs to twirl when the wind will do the job for you? 

Having learned my lesson from last time, I added extra notches at the skirt waistline and got my head round the collar and button band construction much quicker (NB SOI have now updated the pattern with the missing button band notch). I did, however, struggle with threading the elastic through the waist channel. It was easy enough until I hit the side seam and the button band and then things ground to a halt. I ended up having to unpick the casing so I could give it a hand, which means the waist isn’t quite as neat as it could be. Do you have any tips to make it easier?

I also had a bit of a nightmare with the hem. After letting it hang for 48 hours, Chris very kindly helped me level it out again. It looked fine when I tried it on with the pins in, but when I hemmed it and tried it again, it looked wonky at the sides. Cue a tantrum and snapping at my husband who really didn’t deserve it and continued to very patiently help me. He really is my better half. Anyway, the team effort worked and the hem is now much more level.

I’m a big fan of this dress. It’s great for warmer temperatures, but I can also see it having a life beyond the summer. Paired with some tights and a cardi, it’ll work into spring and autumn. Till then, I’m going to pretend I live on the Riviera and swish about in it some more.


20 thoughts on “Penny black

  1. PsychicSewerKathleen says:

    Love your Penny! It’s beautiful 🙂 I’m not actually a fan of rayon. I’ve tried it several times lured like many by how well it looks new – colourful, drapey and soft against the skin. But one wash and all my dreams go down the drain. It turns into a rag – lifeless, out of shape, lost all it’s colourful lustre. And it certainly not for lack of trying! I’ve paid up to $15/m. for it so it’s not as though it was inexpensive 🙂 I can still appreciate it’s beauty from afar however like yours!

    • Jo says:

      Give it a try! I love the vintage shirt dress too, but the Penny is a nice way to ring the changes. Would be great when the weather warms up in Australia!

  2. Lynsey says:

    I’m a huge rayon/viscose fan and use it all the time. Your dress looks gorgeous and I love that print!! I’ve had to unpick casings too, I now hand baste the seam allowances etc flat which usually works.

  3. emmaandhermachine says:

    I love the dress. This dress is quickly moving up my to do list after seeing so many nice versions of it. I think you have picked the perfect fabric for it. I feel your pain with the hubby, mine also gets snapped at, even though he doesn’t sew or control what is going on with my sewing room whatsoever!! The last tantrum was over a quilt I couldn’t get to line up because it was for his Mum, therefore, his fault!! 😂

    • Jo says:

      Thanks! It’s not too different from the Florence dress so I’m sure you could easily draft the collar pieces and skirt from your pattern.

      Chris was a bit upset when I snapped at him… had to do some grovelling after that one 😕

      • emmaandhermachine says:

        Haha don’t we always? We should probably apologise to our sewing machines once in a while too!!!! Yes, I think you’re probably right. I’ll have a go when I get home. X

  4. Leigh says:

    This is so beautiful! You look lovely. Im a huge rayon/viscose fan too, hands down my favourite fibre – we’ll ignore how sad it is to have a favourite fibre. Someone I follow on Twitter who doesn’t sew moaned about summer dresses being 100% viscose and that being the last thing she wanted on her sweaty body. I didn’t want to look like ladymansplainer being all “well actually…” but I felt like she’d called my child or something. Such a loser!

    • Jo says:

      If you’re starting a rayon/viscose fan club I’d be be happy to join! I do kinda understand that girl’s mistake – I’ve always thought rayon and viscose sound like they should be synthetic. Might be something to do with talking about oil viscosity in GCSE science?

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