Palm Springs {Butterick 6285 + Circle Skirt}

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I like variety. I like change. It’s the reason I change my hair colour all the time, I’ll experiment with a new recipe every week and sew from new patterns quite often.

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Basically I have no loyalty (unless you count coffee and my hairdresser, because I’ll never stray from them).

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I also have no loyalty to a particular era of fashion. I will jump through those decades backwards and forwards all week. Sometimes it’s 70s tops and skinny jeans, sometimes it’s a perfect 60s swing coat and sometimes it’s a boxy 80s dress and Dr Martens. Some days I’m firmly planted in 2017 in leggings and a band t shirt. The silhouettes of the 50s are home to me though. That’s the era my favourite dress pattern in the world comes from – the one that started my business. And I do love me a circle skirt. That shit is timeless.

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I don’t even have a proper pattern for this one. It’s the skirt pieces from one of my dress patterns and a waistband from another. I add pockets and a petti and I’m good to go. I know you want to know the details, but they aren’t all that helpful this time around!

Circle skirt: cobbled together from a couple of different patterns, side seam pockets added.

Top: Butterick 6285 (it’s a knit wrap top and I made it a while back. It pre dates the blog actually).

Skirt fabric: From a tiny local shop that mostly does alterations and sells upholstery fabric. This lucky score is sateen and 150cm wide, making it ideal for big circle skirt pieces.

Petti: Hell Bunny.

Shoes: Swedish Funkis.

Pin: Colette Patterns.

Sunnies: Le Specs.

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Circle skirts are a great project for beginner sewists because they go together pretty quickly and easily. You’ll need to learn how to insert a zip, but after that you’re basically invincible. I added buttons to this version, but you can take the zip all the way through the waistband instead.

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I have two hot tips though:

  • Let that sucker hang, unhemmed for 24 hours. Because the skirt is cut on the bias, it can stretch over time. Hang and then trim if you need to.
  • The hem is never ending and a bastard because you’re trying to tuck a wider piece of fabric into a narrower one. You’ll get puckers and may even cry. I either overlock the raw edge and fold it over twice to create a super narrow hem or I use bias binding. I don’t pin for either method.

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Today I swished into the bank and around the local grocery shop like this. Tomorrow I’ll be slouching around in jeans and a jumper no doubt. But how good is it that we have the choice?

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Killer Bees {Simplicity 8085}

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I sat on the fence about this pattern for ages.

Pros: vintage reissue, cute as heck, very wearable.

Cons: No sleeves, fabric hungry, not a huge fan of the look of binding.

The decision was made after I popped into Spotlight earlier this week, three Simplicity patterns for $12. I had 5. This made it through as the 6th.

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Pattern: Simplicity 8085 from Spotlight (such a horrendous website, can’t even find the pattern on it).

Fabric: Purchased a while back from East Coast Fabrics (another very rubbish website, excellent store, bloody lovely staff).

Pearl buttons and double fold bias tape were op shop finds a while ago.

(Side note: how freaking awesome is double fold bias tape?! I’ve only ever used single before. It’s eleventy billion times easier to get a nice even finish with double fold).

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When I got home, I opened her up to check out the size of those skirt pieces. MASSIVE. I thought with the centre seam they’d be smaller pieces (and I’d cut 4 rather than 2). Nup. Centre front seam yes, side seams no. Oh. Let’s change that then, shall we?

 

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(Disclaimer: this is my quick and dirty method. It’s probably technically wrong, but I don’t care because it worked).

First I traced off my front and back bodice pieces, then pinned the darts in place (as they would be sewn). I lined up the bodice pieces with the skirt pieces, overlapping the bodice pieces at the side seams. I then marked where the bodice side seam was on the skirt (you can see by my marking that this involved a bit of fiddling around, you have to curve those flat bodice pieces around to match the skirt). Then I marked the seam allowance either side and traced out my new front and back skirt pieces. It made them much easier to fit on the fabric and I was able to eliminate the centre front skirt seam by placing it on the fold instead. Hooray!

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Side seams mean side seam pockets! Didn’t iron them. Forgive me. When I googled other makes of this dress, I didn’t like the look of the patch pockets (sorry guys). You can also see the horsehair braid I added to the hem for a bit of a kick.

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Pearl buttons instead of snaps because pearl buttons. And they match the bee’s wings.

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Sleeves! I added sleeves. Literally the sleeves from the Emery Dress with zero changes. Probably shouldn’t work, but they do. Isn’t sewing magic?

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Let’s talk about the fit. I obviously made the short version because I already have a fair few dresses in the longer length and I wanted to be stingy with the fabric. I made the size 16, but cut the length at the size 22. The horsehair braid means the hem is pretty narrow, much like it would be if you use binding, which I was contemplating doing, but didn’t have enough.

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I feel like the fit is pretty decent, especially without a FBA, but it does gape a bit in the back if I don’t do the waist ties up as tight as they can go. And even then, after wearing for a while, they sort of loosen a bit and I can feel the breeze down my back. If I pull it up at the shoulder seams, everything seems to fit a bit better, so that’s something to consider for my next one. I could take some length off the lower back pieces, but I’d have to re draw the wrap part higher because it is very close to the back band of my bra right now. Maybe a little snap there would help, but it won’t help with the gaping. Still very wearable though but I can see it becoming more of a beach dress for summer.

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Still not convinced about that binding. I think next time I might fold it to the inside. Or use matching. But who can be bothered making all that binding? Not me. I’m not that dedicated.

I’ve been really mean and kept the image of the back until the very end. Because it’s that part that’s the rock star of this dress, right? Here she is!

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Mmmm…mustard. {Emery Dress x Outback Wife Barkcloth}

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I love mustard. Both the condiment and the colour. I also love barkcloth – I have some legit vintage stuff here that I’m a bit scared to cut into, which is very unlike me. Usually I’m all ‘Fabric is for cutting, you guys!’. But you know, this one is special and super old and it was still on the bolt.

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I know you’re asking ‘what the heck is barkcloth?’, so to save you a Google I’ll steal from Wiki:

Barkcloth is a versatile material that was once common in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and the Pacific. Barkcloth comes primarily from trees of the Moraceae family, including Broussonetia papyrifera, Artocarpus altilis, and Ficus natalensis. It is made by beating sodden strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees into sheets, which are then finished into a variety of items. Many texts that mention “paper” clothing are actually referring to barkcloth. Barkcloth has been manufactured in Uganda for centuries[1] and is Uganda’s sole representative on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[2]

Today, what is commonly called barkcloth is a soft, thick, slightly textured fabric, so named because it has a rough surface like that of tree bark. This barkcloth is usually made of densely woven cotton fibers. Historically, the fabric has been used in home furnishings, such as curtains, drapery, upholstery, and slipcovers. It is often associated with 1940s through 1960s home fashions, particularly in tropical, abstract, “atomic” and “boomerang” prints, the last two themes being expressed by images of atoms with electrons whirling, and by the boomerang shape which was very popular in mid-century cocktail tables and fabrics. Waverly, a famed design house for textiles and wall coverings between 1923 and 2007, called their version of this fabric rhino cloth, possibly for the rough, nubbly surface.[3] American barkcloth shot through with gold Lurex threads was called Las Vegas cloth, and contained as much as 65% rayon as well, making it a softer, more flowing fabric than the stiffer all-cotton rhino cloth or standard barkcloth.[4]

From here.

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The barkcloth I used is from fellow Aussie, Gertrude Made. What’s really special about the Outback Wife range is that the fabrics are named after rural women and each one has a story. I like that. The fabric itself is delicious and feels luxurious. It is on the more expensive side (if you’re used to buying quilting cotton), but keep in mind that it’s 150cm wide. I ordered 2.5m and got this dress out of it (and circle skirts are fabric hungry!) plus a little bit leftover.

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Pattern: Christine Haynes Emery Dress

Fabric: Outback Wife Elaine from Layered Creations

Petti: Hell Bunny

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I was late to jump on the Outback Wife bandwagon, even though I’d admired it since its release – but I just wasn’t sure about the floral print. I’m generally not huge on them, but I do make exceptions. In my uncertainty though, I missed my chance to grab the green colourway. It all sold out very quickly. Apparently there’s a new release coming soon though. If you like it, I’d advise you to jump on it. In the end, it was mustard for me. Which is cool, because I dig it.

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So, my dress. The bodice is a straight up Emery, perhaps my favourite pattern in the whole world. Since my shape has changed a bit lately, I had to cut a new version of the bodice. It’s a 10, graded out to a 12 at the bust. I should have done a FBA, but I’m lazy and honestly the fit of this is pretty damn great. I’m happy with it. The circle skirt is from another pattern. I just lined the pattern pieces up to make sure they’d fit together properly. It was all very simple.

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There is very little else to add about the Emery! I’ve made at least 10 of the suckers and there’s a reason for that – they fit well, I love the shape and they go together really easily. Now what else is a grown woman supposed to do with a circle skirt?

SPIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNN.

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Very Vintage {Australian Home Journal Nightdress}

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I’m not sure if this is the oldest pattern I own, but it’s up there. Same vintage as my Dad actually (sorry Dad). I grabbed it because I thought that centre pattern would look pretty cool as a maxi dress from rayon and it’s close to my bust measurement (well now it is my exact bust measurement).

I have been putting off making it and I’ll show you why.

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Yeahhhhh. These old patterns assume a lot of sewing knowledge and while I’m not exactly a newbie, the instructions and the pattern pieces intimidated me a bit (and yes, that Scotch tape ad is advising you to tape a feather to your baby’s finger).

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The pattern pieces are pretty basic, you have to draw a few of them up yourself – not a huge deal. I grabbed some swan print rayon from Spotlight and decided to jump in. Turns out I should have kept that collar piece on the front bodice rather than drafting it separately (I think), so it means I have a seam line down the front. I also didn’t hand sew anything, because no.

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I did wonder during the cutting process how one was supposed to get in to such a dress without a zip or anything, but just assumed that being a nightdress meant that it was a bit oversized. Turns out that was correct, even though it looks delightfully fitted in the illustration. The ties at the waist means you cinch it in at the back a bit – although how you’re meant to sleep in this much fabric I don’t know.

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I stitched the lowest part of the neckline together to prevent flashing and also added the little buttons because I felt like it needed something a bit extra. Shortened the sleeves because we so rarely need the extra length here and I thought it would look like I was drowning in swans.

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All done. I think this could be sized down a touch and a zipper added, but it is quite comfortable a bit bigger.

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Pockets were added. Of course. How else is the modern woman supposed to get through the day?

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Bonus advertising content because it’s amusing.

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Where’s Wally? {Butterick 6453}

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So, first things first:

Pattern: Butterick 6453

I’m not sure whether or not this is available in Australia yet, as of a couple of weeks ago it wasn’t in Spotlight – I bought it from the US. We always seem to be way behind other countries with our pattern range, damn Southern Hemisphere.

Fabric: Cotton/linen blend from Spotlight. It doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but in fairness I bought it around a year ago.

Apologies in advance if I make you cross eyed with all the foliage. The sun is blaring in every corner of the yard, so indoor photos it was. I thought matching the wallpaper would be cool, but in hindsight it’s just a bit weird.

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Yes that is the worst quality printing on a pattern envelope ever.

Oh B6453. I loved you at first sight. Strange for me because I don’t really go without sleeves. Ever. But I loved the shape so much and I can always wear a cardi, right? RIGHT.

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So sizing. I feel like it runs really large. My measurements put me exactly into the 18. Good start. But previous experience told me to check the actual finished measurements (they’re on the pattern pieces if you’re stuck). This pattern has 2.5cms of ease. Ok, so size down to the 16 and cut that sucker out, because I really think this style looks better more fitted. After I’d sewn most of it up, I wrapped it haphazardly around myself and it felt too big. Off with another 1.5cms at each side seam. In the end, it’s still a bit big for me at the waist (hence the belt) and it gapes a bit under the arms and at the back. Not so much that it’s unwearable, but next time I’ll cut the next size down.

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Being the rebel that I am, I didn’t really look at the instructions. If you’re new to sewing, I’d definitely recommend it (and there’s also sewalongs for this pattern – I feel like most sewing bloggers have made at least one), but really, it goes together in pretty much the way you’d expect. I used an invisible zipper rather than the lapped version and also my skirt isn’t as full because I didn’t have a huge amount of fabric. I just cut the pieces the width of the fabric (150cm), I think I was short around 5cms, so not a lot. Also I’m wearing a petticoat in the photos for extra floof.

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Because I’m a bra sewing junkie, I have plenty of rings and sliders hanging around. I used these heart shaped babies because I thought they’d look cool, but my plan backfired. I didn’t realise I’d need to adjust the straps so much, so instead of being the right way up on the back, they’re upside down on the front. I’ll shorten them next time. Actually, the most difficult part of the whole dress is turning those narrow straps. I have one of those gizmos for turning, but it was still a pain.

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I generally line my dress bodices instead of using facing because I usually find them to be annoying, they flip up and move and get in the way. Not this one though! I really like the finish. It’s underlined and tacked down at the side seams and seems to stay in place really well.

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Oh look, it’s my favourite angle!

The back is almost too low for me, it’s just about at bra strap height. I might have to bring it up slightly for my next one. And there will be a next one.

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Secret Pajamas {Jalie 2805. Kinda}

webDSC_8589This will probably be my shortest blog post ever. Basically I channeled my inner 5 year old and made a dress out of unbrushed fleece (I would call it french terry, but whatever. Sweatshirt fabric but without the fleece, just the little loops). If you were a child during the 80s, you had one of these for sure. Probably with a little flippy skirt and a cute animal on the front. My skirt is less flippy and the bison are probably less cute than the koala I had on mine, but I digress.

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We are off to visit my husband’s relatives soon, which means a big drive. I wanted something really comfy to wear in the car and it also had to be warm as it will be dark and cold when we arrive. Pajamas. I pretty much wanted socially acceptable pajamas. I used Jalie 2805 which is a womens and girls t shirt pattern, cropped it at waist height and added two gathered skirt panels. Pockets too, of course. So easy. I paid special attention to the layout so I didn’t end up with bison boobs, the print is the perfect size and spacing to fall into that trap. The sleeves on the pattern didn’t have the cuffs, so I shortened them a touch and added them. It mostly went according to plan but I didn’t really consider the fabric’s lack of stretch (seriously, it was like sewing a woven – so easy), it barely has any. So the sleeves are a wee bit tight, but nothing that will ruin my day. Fabric is unbrushed fleece from Spotlight. I used my overlocker for most of it and it took me an hour from cutting to hemming. A super easy sew. Bring on the drive and maybe a nap.

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Say Mesh to the Dress {Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress}

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I had a function to go to on Friday night. On Thursday I found out it was cocktail, rather than casual. Incidentally, when I was in Brisbane last weekend, I spotted (LOL) a pretty lady wearing a gorgeous polka dot mesh dress. I was going to be a creeper and ask where she got it, but I figured it was something I could probably make myself. I’ve seen a number of mesh RTW dresses around lately (without a lining) and I love the look.

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Then the remnant table at Spotlight provided, in the form of $8/m. Challenge accepted. So on Thursday when I found out I needed a dressier dress, I wracked my brain to think of a pattern I could use. I wanted a floaty, relaxed fit – that way I wouldn’t have to bother with a zip in fine fabric. I wanted those McCalls 7542 sleeves again because FASHUN. And then it hit me, my darling Sudley. I have made it many times before, but usually it’s a summery, beachy choice. Not today, Sudley. Today we are going AFTER DARK. And we did.

The first thing I did was replace my needle with a sparkly fresh fine sharp one.

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First hurdle: I should do french seams because they are visible through the dress. Did I have time for french seams? Not really. So I just ended up using my overlocker. Quick and neat. Not as neat as french seams, but to be honest it’s not super noticeable.

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Second hurdle: Neck closure. Megan suggests ties or a hook and eye. I wasn’t thrilled about either for this dress. Ties seemed to casual and I thought I could do better than hook and eye. Instead I used a black fabric covered button from my stash and fine black elastic for the loop. Looks cool, not that you can see it. Sorry.

Third Hurdle: That collar. This one caused me the biggest brain strain. Usually, you’d use iron on interfacing to give the collar a bit of structure, but that can’t happen in this case because you’d see it through the mesh. I turned to my FB sewing group for this one and a clever lady suggested organza, which is brilliant – light but still structured. That led me to remember the black bra lining in my stash, which is a lot like organza, it’s very light but very strong as it has to prevent stretch in bra cups and bridges. Perfect. It worked really well. For consistency I used the overlocker for the collar pieces too.

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Fourth Hurdle: Not really a hurdle, but I wasn’t keen on attempting my first rolled hem and I knew a standard hem wouldn’t look right, so I used black bias binding to finish the dress and sleeve hems. I also used it in place of the facing on the neckline and keyhole.

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All that I needed was a slinky black slip (not made by me), shoes and a clutch and I was event ready, baby. Oh and you know, hair and make up and all that stuff.

Will definitely wear this one again.

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Crazy Dog Lady Item #456 {Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat}

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Duffle coat? That ain’t no duffle coat!

Correct. I’m honestly bloody proud of this effort because I had to adjust that pattern in ways my brain really didn’t like, but look! I love it.

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So, I was bumbling about in Spotlight recently (something I don’t get to do often because our nearest store is 45 mins away, but they had $5 patterns so it was worth the trip) and found this really cool soft shell fleece. I’d never seen anything like it available as fabric before, but to be honest, I’ve never really looked. They had two prints – the dogs and a cloud print in pink. That was an agonising decision and quite frankly, I can’t promise that I won’t go back for the pink. At $20/m I thought it was pretty well priced and it feels like it’s decent quality too. So I grabbed two metres and hoped that would be enough for a jacket.

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Main Fabric: Soft Shell Fleece from Spotlight

Facing Fabric: Cotton and Steel

Pattern: Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat

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I’ve made this pattern before as per all the instructions and I do love it. And maybe if I’d used my brain, I could have scoured the pattern books for an unlined, zip up jacket pattern instead. But noooooo. I assumed I’d have something suitable in my stash at home. Well, turns out I didn’t.

That’s fine! I’ll just adjust the Cascade pattern!

Alright in theory, a bit harder in practice. The coat is lined and I didn’t want my jacket to be, so there were a few adjustments there. I ended up binding each seam so it looked super pretty. I regretted that decision about halfway through, but now I’m really glad that I made the effort.

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FYI this stuff doesn’t seem to fray and besides that, I could have overlocked everything to finish it, but this looks cooler. Wobbly stitching and all. Those armholes were a bugger.

I was most worried about omitting those zipper bands and attaching the zip to the front pieces. I just extended the front band slightly and facings slightly and it all turned out fine. I don’t know if that’s the legit way to do it, but it works for me.

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The original pattern has facings to finish the hem, sleeves and hood. I wasn’t sure about the additional bulk with this fabric (in hindsight it probably would have been fine, it wasn’t a problem to sew anyway), but I figured I’d just continue with the binding and finish the raw edges that way. Until I ran out. So I used the cool C+S fabric for the hem.

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I probably should have sewed the pockets on before the facing, but I don’t mind that the stitching is through the facing, it holds it in place. I also stitched it though the jacket at the shoulder seams because it was flipping up all the time. In the proper duffle version, you stitch it to the lining, so that’s not a problem and the finish is super clean.

Anyway, damn pleased with this guy. Not sure how water proof it is, but it will be great for those chilly days when it’s windy and I’m sure it will go ok in light showers.

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Like A Pirate {McCalls 7542}

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If you haven’t seen McCalls 7542 in your travels yet, well quite frankly, I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life. Or maybe you’re not a sewing nerd like me. In all honesty, you’ve probably seen similar in RTW while you wander around the shops. I wanted it as soon as I saw it, as I knew it would fill that ‘what to wear with jeans’ gap in my wardrobe. The curse of too many dresses.

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I nabbed the pattern and the fabric (which is cotton poplin) from my local Spotlight over the weekend. Apparently this pattern is sold out in a lot of places, so I was lucky to score it. I know you want to know about my awesome bee necklace, it’s from the lovely Natalie over at Fancy Lady Industries. It’s a Teddy bee, which I love, because we have those cute fatties hovering around our lavender from time to time.

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Overall it went together super fast. The instructions have a bit of a weird way of attaching the lower sleeve to the upper sleeve but I just ignored that and went about it my own way. There’s no zip or anything, just a hook and eye at the back of the neck. I was lazy and just overlocked the sleeve hems, folded them over and stitched, but I think I’ll finish them with binding next time.

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The shape is quite boxy and although poplin was one of the fabrics recommended on the envelope, I can’t wait to make a version in something much more drapey, like rayon. The sleeves remind me of something a pirate would dig, but I think I’m ok with them.

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Oh and you know the best part about this pattern? Good old McCalls do cup size variations. So I went straight to my old friend the D cup pattern piece and it’s a great fit at the bust. No FBA! YAS! I have plans to use this bodice again with different variations. Including a very 80s collar.

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The Great Finishing {Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Dress}

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This weekend was spent finishing off a pile of UFOs I had languishing in a basket, mocking me for too long. Most of it was really boring and involved unpicking and sewing on buttons, but this Rosa was pick of the litter.

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I wasn’t sure why I had ignored it for so long. I cut it out just after making my last one and I adore the fabric, so it’s not that I was feeling particularly uninspired. Then when I was getting towards the end, it hit me. Buttons. Twelve of them. It always feels like a huge task, but when I get into the swing of it, it’s fine. And yeah, my machine has a one step buttonhole function. If I had to do those suckers manually it would be a different story. There’s also a lot of top stitching, which I have done in grey thread because my top stitching isn’t something that I want to draw attention to.

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I would also like to point out that I’ve made everything I’m wearing except my shoes and tights. And I hear you say ‘Yeah? So you made a dress? That’s nothing new, Katie.’ That’s true, but think about what you can’t see. Yep, bra and knickers are made by me also. And since I’m bragging, would you take a look at the projection and shape of that right boob? God I love this bra. It’s Kwik Sew 3594. I have four of them now. A lot of women prefer a rounded shape to the well, boob shape. But I personally do like a boob-shaped boob. Yeah, we went there. I just wanted to highlight it because a lot of people seem to think handmade bras are unsupported-wrestling-puppies-in-a-sack kind of situations, but I assure you they aren’t.

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Onward. You want to know where everything is from:

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Dress

Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray

Buttons: thrifted. Got a bag of about 200 wooden buttons for $2. Do recommend.

Shoes: Vintage Dr Martens scored on ebay. Not sewn obviously, but lots of people ask me about them.

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Ignore the orange ear. Apparently he’s been wandering through the garden, helping the bees pollinate. Still tilted to the left, as you can see. Bloody dog and his bloody ears.

I haven’t shared much about the construction of this Rosa as I covered it in my last one. I didn’t make any changes except the placement of the sleeve tabs – I just rolled them to where I wanted and put them in the right spot. Easy. Now excuse me as I swan off to the yacht club in my nautical dress.

Kidding. I’m going to reheat leftover Thai and do some work.

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