Reinventing Ready To Wear {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

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I do love me some creative strapping on bras and swimmers and have quite a few examples in my wardrobe. My most worn is probably this one piece by Disturbia. I lurrrrrve it. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to try and recreate it when sewing though because it all looks a bit complex and maths have never been my strong point.

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I have some unsuccessful RTW examples. You know the ones that you purchase online, hoping for the best but that just never work? This is one of those:

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I wanted to love it but the shape is all wrong for me. It holds absolutely nothing where it should, the front is too wide, the boning at the sides bends out and the bottom band (or lack of) is useless. It gapes at the back where that strapping sits. Ugh. Then earlier this week I stumbled across this Iron Fist Sports Bra and neeeeeeeded it. My inner nerd loves how the straps look like a spine and ribs. But of course, it’s out of stock. Which got me thinking, could I recreate it myself so I know that it works for me?

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Yeah, worth a try. I already have Ohhh Lulu’s Romy and know that it fits me because I’ve made a couple of versions (here and here). This sort of fancy back would also be ideal for the strappy back of the Sincerely Rylee dress that I made. A bra that’s less ‘ooops you can see my bra’ and more ‘OH YEAH THIS IS MY BRA AND IT’S FANCY AS HELL’.

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And look how pretty it is! The fabric is by Dear Stella. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of my favourite fabric companies (Cotton and Steel and Timeless Treasures also) are coming out with knits. It’s brilliant. I love the prints and the quality is very high too.

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The sparkly strapping is from Booby Traps. As a rule, you’re not really supposed to use strapping as the upper and lower bands on a bra because it’s generally pretty firm – but this strapping is pretty soft and stretchy (more like elastic). I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

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An inside out photo if you’re interested to see how it all fits together. I was a bit haphazard with the whole thing but it worked just fine. I decided to shorten the back band pattern piece where it starts to curve down and narrow for the strapping and back closure. So that whole part has been omitted and the straps start there. The inside isn’t as pretty as the outside but I can deal with that. I’ve lined the whole thing in power mesh for support, as I always do with wire free bras.

I figured out the length of the back straps using the very complex method of comparing it to one of my existing Romys.

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I wasn’t going to bother taking pics of me wearing it because I wanted to wear it right away, but I grabbed a couple when I first put it on this morning anyway. So I do apologise for them being a bit unplanned and rubbish. You can see that it still provides decent support and shaping. The power mesh lining and princess seams help that. I’ve used pale pink hardware cannibalised from an old bra and matching pink bows.

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Ooops – out of focus. Best of a bad bunch. It’s hard to take a pic of your own back. Haven’t even brushed my hair. Cool though, right? Nothing buckling (even though I’m mid adjustment, sorry).

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I’ve worn both the bra and knickers in public all day and am pleased to report that I was super comfortable and everything stayed in place. So that’s a win. I really want to try a swimmy version next, but the thought of having to make all the strapping is daunting!

The Mysteries of Bra Sewing {Pin Up Girls Shelley}

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Have I told you before how much I love bra sewing? I do believe I have. And you might think I’m nuts, but it’s seriously some of the most rewarding sewing I’ve ever done. Plus it pays off. I haven’t bought a bra for at least a year and I very rarely wear my RTW anymore. In fact, most of them have been sacrificed for their wires and hardware. I wore a RTW bra earlier this week and it only last until lunch time before it was off and turfed into the corner. NO. They are so uncomfortable.

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Why are they uncomfortable? Quite simply, they don’t fit. I mean, I’ve been fitted and they probably fit as well as they can for RTW. But we are all unique snowflakes and our bodies have their own quirks which just can’t all magically fit into a mass produced item like a bra. And for the record, I used to think my bras fit – until I made my own.

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As I’ve also mentioned before, I had my first bra pattern (Pin Up Girls Classic) languishing in my sewing room for nearly twelve months before I plucked up the courage to sew it. It was the most intimidating thing I’d ever seen. So tiny, only a few pieces and yet scary as hell. It was Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy class that finally gave me the shove I needed to make my first bra. I do thoroughly recommend it if you need the encouragement. It’s amazingly helpful and seeing it all done step by step makes it seem just like any other sewing – put those pieces together in the right order and you’re golden. Of course with bra sewing you’ve got the complex fit challenges. That’s the hardest part – not the sewing at all. Something like a dress is much more forgiving fit-wise than a bra. But when you get it right, the light shines down and those angles start singing. I swear.

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The lovely Georgina from Sew Squirrel drop me a message last week and asked if I’d like to try one of her new bra kits. Would I?! Don’t need to ask me twice. She mentioned that they were velvet and I pretty much purred. I already have a few velvet bras but will always make more. It’s a bit of a temperamental fabric to work with, but worth it. She gave me a choice of colours and I chose grey, which is pretty much my personal version of nude. I have a few grey bras now, which sounds so blah but I love it. She even sent me the wiiiiide strapping and hardware. I love my wide straps.

Kits are perfect if you’re just starting out in bras because you get the perfect amount of all the right pieces. This isn’t the kind of stuff you can buy at generic sewing shops. It’s pretty specialised. Knowing the difference between your picot and strapping can be really confusing when you’re new to bra sewing, so I’ve done some handy labeling for you.

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This is the Shelley bra pattern, which you can also purchase via Sew Squirrel with the bra kits. So handy. The kit didn’t have the lace, so that’s from my stash, but these images show what goes where. I used the neckline trim for the under arms because using lace meant I didn’t need it at the neckline (though the lace is stabilised with yet another type of elastic, sometimes it’s clear but in this kit it’s black, which is way nicer to work with). Then I had enough leftover fabric to make matching knickers! Hooray! I used the narrow picot from the kit for the leg elastic. The waistband elastic was from my stash.

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Here’s some tips I found really helpful when I started sewing bras:

  • Do I use stretch or non stretch fabric?

    Generally wired bras require non stretch and bralettes require stretch. Hence me lining this one – the velvet is stretch and without the lining, there would be very little support and everything would stretch out. Even if you don’t line the whole thing, you’ll generally need to line the bridge for extra strength. The band always needs stretch, but you can get varying types of power mesh, some firmer than others. I prefer the firm, but I like my bras to feel like they’re giving me a hug. When I sew bralettes I usually line with power net, for that extra support. I need it. You might not. But do follow the stretch/non stretch requirements of your bra pattern. It’s really important.

  • How do I know my size?

    Much like any sewing pattern, your size won’t correspond to your RTW size. AT ALL. You have to let go of all that and roll with it. Promise. Each bra company has a different method of measuring – follow it. For example, I’m somewhere between a 14DD or 16D in RTW (they are sister sizes). The Shelley above is a 38C (my size has changed lately). In Ohhh Lulu I’m more like a 36D, in my favourite Kwik Sew bra pattern I’m a 38C and in Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough I’m a 40DD.

  • So I just take my measurements, sew up my size and I’ll be golden?

    Maybe, but probably not. I don’t think there are many lucky women that get their bras to fit straight off the pattern. Sorry. It’s more likely you’ll sew at least two or three before you find your groove. And there are probably standard adjustments that you’ll make to most patterns – I can’t deal with a partial band so always have full bands. I often have to move straps because they sit too far to the outside of my body and I usually have to raise it under my arm (which I totally forgot to do with this one and it shows).

  • Ok fine, what can I use for a toile so I don’t cut into my fancy stuff and waste it?

    This one divides bra sewists. Some will sew their practice runs in a cheapy fabric to test the fit, but you really need to find something very close to your good fabric to have that work successfully. Fabrics will behave differently and stretch and warp and curve all in different ways. I personally use the good stuff as bra sewing doesn’t take a lot of fabric anyway. Yeah it sucks getting to the end and not having a wearable bra, but you will learn heaps in the process. And yeah, you just read right, you have to make THE WHOLE THING – elastics, closures and all. You can’t really test the fit until it’s complete. It just makes victory all the more sweet. You’re allowed to cry and swear though, I certainly have. Lucky my dog is deaf and the kids are at school.

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Yeah she’s not perfect, but she goes alright. The bra too. HA. I hope that was somewhat helpful and not too blabbery. I do like my bra talk. Let me know if you’re going to try some bra sewing or if you already have.

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That 70s Dress With The Frills {Vintage Simplicity 6396}

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Remember those boxes of vintage patterns I was gifted? This dress has been sitting close to the surface of my MUST MAKE pile ever since they made their way into my home and heart. Isn’t it fun? I love the way it wraps around the bodice. And we all know I do love a good wrap. This one has a zip in the back, so doesn’t have any adjustment for food babies – it’s just a cool design feature. Actually there’s a number of different wrap variations in the 70s patterns I was given, they were getting creative back then. So there will be more. Oh yes.

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I grabbed this leopard print chiffon (? I think) from the bargain table at Spotlight recently for the grand sum of $5/m – specifically with this dress in mind. I couldn’t remember exactly how much was required so bought 4 metres. As it turns out, I was slightly short on the bottom ruffle, but being a toile it’s not a big deal. I know, me making toiles again, who am I? But being such a fabric hungry dress, I didn’t want to waste 4+ metres on something that didn’t fit.

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It looks like the bottom hem is so wonky hanging there, but I swear it’s not.

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Obviously I made view without any changes (besides being one panel short on the bottom ruffle). Because it’s such a sheet fabric, I lined with cotton lawn – but not the full length. So I guess that’s a change too. You construct the dress bodice as you’d imagine, then the collar with frills gets added.

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As you can see, my copy is for a 36″ bust. I do not have a 36″ bust, mine is more like 40 – 41″. Once again, I added 1.5cm to the side seams and hoped for the best. In the end I had to remove that because it was too big, especially around the back. So I could have just made it straight off the pattern without any adjustments. Again proving that vintage patterns have a heap of ease. And this is a dress that really has to be quite fitted, the ties don’t have any tightening effect on the back.

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I did have this one in mind as another option for the wedding we’re off to in November, completely disregarding the fact that I get irrationally annoyed by most things halterneck. Especially when I have a camera hanging off my neck too. Halterneck bras and swimmers are a hard no, but dresses seem to annoy me too. I don’t get the same headaches, but I feel mildly uncomfortable.

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I’d put up with it if I was totally in love with the dress, but the Sew House Seven Tea House dress is still the front runner (and I ordered some amaaaaaazing pink silk for another one today) so this one can be a back a plan if required. It’s still pretty cool. And I can wear it for a few hours if we have something a little bit fancier than normal to go to.

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I’m glad I made it. I love how different it is, yet in a way still quite modern. Vintage patterns are funny like that. Take away the hairstyles, shoes and prints and you’ve got something that can be worn today without screaming “OMG LOOK HOW 70S I AM!’

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I even did as I was told and did some hand stitching. I must admit, it does look a heap better that if I’d machined it.

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I think a lot of the time with these old patterns, I just sew them simply because I want to. And I do truly learn something every time, so it’s worth it.

Round Two {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

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You might remember my first version of the Tea House Top wasn’t all that successful due to my fabric choice. I vowed that I would make it again and here we are! I’m actually auditioning patterns for a wedding we have later this year in Samoa. An island wedding means the dress code isn’t very formal and because I’m also shooting said wedding, I need to be able to move around easily without worrying about what I’m wearing.

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On its own this dress actually looks quite casual, but I think with the right fabric, jewellery, shoes and hair it would be suitable. I still have another couple of patterns to try though. I’ve still got a few months to decide but I’m trying to be more organised for the first time in my life.

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So, fabric is Telio Crepe De Chine from fabric.com and the pattern is Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress. I put in a sizeable fabric.com order last weekend and bought 4 yard lots of a few different fabrics specifically to see what would work best for this style of dress. Yes I bought some of the awesome Cotton and Steel tulip print rayon. I might even save that for the wedding version. Not sure yet.

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If you read about my last version, you’ll recall I chose a really rubbish fabric and the front yoke facing nearly ended me. Truth is, the crepe de chine I chose this time wasn’t that much better for pressing and behaving, but I was more prepared. I decided to avoid the whole press and stitch down thing and just finished the raw edges with bias tape before stitching down. It’s still rough looking but not as bad as last time. Definitely less swearing involved.

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I think the only other change I made was not tacking those sleeve cuffs up. I like the longer length. My V neck was more successful this time around too.

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I love that there’s no centre back seam and the box pleat looks really neat. I cut the pockets on the bias so those little bees are flying in a different direction and don’t get lost in the rest of the dress.

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I’m so glad I made this one again. I love it like I wanted to love it the first time around.

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Snoozer McGavin {Ohhh Lulu Kate Camisole + Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas}

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These aren’t anything you haven’t seen before, so I won’t bang on  about them. I picked up the cactus print satin at Spotlight earlier this week just because it’s cute. That’s literally all it takes. Never mind that satin is the devil and I don’t really wear it. That doesn’t matter at all.

Fabric: Spotlight

Top: Ohhh Lulu Kate Camisole

Bottoms: Closet Case Files Carolyn PJs

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But since making my first Kate Camisole in satin over the weekend, I really felt like I’d leveled up a bit, so decided another Kate was in order. With matching PJ shorts. Oooh and  I still have some scraps of that cool spotty grey poly. Oh yes, let’s do this. Of course, not all satans (sorry, satins) are created equal and I melted a hole in this one after pressing the first dart. Ahem. Let that be a lesson to us all, TEST FIRST.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes…

I eliminated the faux fly front on the Carolyn shorts because the stitching was puckering the fabric and I really couldn’t be bothered trying that again. Because satin. No piping either obviously. You can see I still have a bit of puckering where the bands are attached at the bottom of the shorts.

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I went a bit rogue with the Kate cami and didn’t cut it on the bias because the cacti would have been running sideways. It’s not as drapey, I guess – but no problems. I also cut the neckline straight across instead of the V, lowered the arm holes (they are a bit high on my last version) and did the standard back. I also used pre made satin bias tape because I have a tonne of it and I was not keen on making it out of this fabric.

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Bonus points if you noticed I bought cactus print duck as well for Sid’s bed. They really are kicking some goals with prints at the moment.

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And hey, I know it’s still August and this morning we woke up to a chilly 7 degrees (that’s 44F for my US friends and yeah, that’s cold for us), but our days have been so mild this winter that it barely even feels like we’ve had a winter. It’s still beach weather, really (for the tourists anyway) with most days getting to 27 degrees (that’s 80F, thank you Google). So it does feel like I’ll be able to wear these babies sooner rather than later. I never really understood why you’d sew your own PJs because no one ever really sees them and they are generally much cheaper to buy, but I know better now. And I’m sorry. Handmade errrrything is better.

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Thrifted Fabric Weekend {Ohhh Lulu Kate Camisole}

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Hello again. I know, two posts in two days. Who even am I?

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I know I’m generally anti PDF pattern, but I make an exception for Ohhh Lulu because she’s rad and also lingerie pattern pieces tend to be quite small so there’s not a whole lot of cutting and sticking paper together.

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That said, the Kate Camisole (pattern here!) is cut on the bias so the front and back pieces are entire (not place on fold pieces) – does that make sense? So they are a bit bigger and there was some cutting and sticking required. But I survived.

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There’s not much to this one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make mistakes! Oh no sir! Would have helped if I’d read the instructions properly, but honestly, I’m like a bull at a gate. MUST. SLOW. DOWN. The bias tape is meant to be bias facing, not binding. I used it as binding for the front. Oops. Too lazy to fix it though and it ain’t so bad. Sarah has a super helpful tutorial for this, which can be found here. I recommend watching it before you sew, not after like I did.

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There are a number of variations on this pattern and I chose the lace back, she’s pretty cool right? The lace has a bit of stretch so I made it more stable with elastic (which is an option in the pattern instructions). It’s not scallop lace, but it has all these rad shapes in the fabric so I just cut around one of them and it’s the perfect size, really. I didn’t use sliders on the straps because I found they were a bit short on me. Next time I’ll lengthen them a bit.

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Oh the fabric. It’s another op shop score. Same shop as the hanky panel fabric from yesterday, actually. It’s most definitely polyester but handled a hot iron really well, so I didn’t even have to swear or cry. I have a feeling it’s vintage, but I don’t know for sure. I only had about two metres of it, so it was perfect for this project – which uses a bit more fabric than you’d expect because of the bias cut thing. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

 

Hey Betty {Butterick 6413}

Betty because I was getting Betty Draper vibes after I finished this dress. Probably a more risque Betty, but Betty nonetheless. So I dragged on some red lippy and brought out the big black shades to channel her even further.

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Isn’t it weird how one teeny tiny detail can mean the difference between strutting out of the house in your latest dress with all the confidence in the world or rocking in the corner of your bedroom with uncertainty?

This is one of those dresses! It’s only a keyhole right? But I still can’t decide. So strange for me. I generally make decisions in a heartbeat. Uncertainty isn’t my thing at all.

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Let’s talk about B6413 anyway. I wrote it off when I first saw it because I assumed the top would be a nightmare to fit and the construction would be too much for my brain. Then I saw it pop up on a few clever women on Instagram and I was a bit more tempted. As it turns out, I couldn’t resist grabbing it when Butterick were having their $2.50 sale recently and I really wanted this one. Buying two makes the horrendous postage from the US worthwhile, right? Of course it does! I don’t know if these ones are even available on our shores yet, it seems to take forever for them to get over here.

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So it turns out I was wrong. It’s fine, I can say it. The fit wasn’t a big deal and neither was the construction. And can I say what a relief it is to have a pattern envelope without eleventy billion different pieces and combinations inside? Very nice. Just the one dress without any variations. Of course I had to go ahead and do a gathered skirt because straight skirts aren’t my jam – which meant I only had to trace the bodice pieces, easy!

But this is another no bra dress. Do those sticky fillet thingies from the early 2000s still exist? Maybe they would work? Not sure. A regular bra definitely does not though.

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When I first made it, the booby part (oh yes, I know all the technical sewing terms) was sitting too low. One false move and those wiiiide shoulders were heading south and the whole bodice was going to end up in a puddle around my waist. It all felt very precarious. After mucking about a bit, I decided the best fix was going to be taking a wedge out where the bodice meets the sleeve. Even though that meant unpicking all my hard work. WOE. I did it though. I took 2.5cm out of each one and it’s much better now. More secure. Less likely to end in a wardrobe malfunction. Actually, when I had it all opened back up I was considering working some bra cups into it, but I couldn’t figure out how to secure them without it being seen from the outside. I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made anyway.

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I haven’t told you about my fabric! I bought it from an op shop but wasn’t sure what it was. It’s very soft, like a lawn or voile. I assumed the squares were for quilting, but the good ladies of Instagram told me that they are handkerchief panels! How clever! Considering I have no use for 4 metres of hankies though, I decided it wouldn’t be a bad choice for this dress. If I hated it or it didn’t fit, no great loss. I still have over a metre of it left. I got a bit creative with my cutting. The fashion police might call the black band around my waist UNFLATTERING, but I think it’s interesting. See that bow tie look? INTENTIONAL. Proud of that effort actually.

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I used the same fabric for the lining, which is mildly confusing but I had so much of the fabric that it seemed sensible. I marked the lining so I knew which was which when I was sewing. I added side seam pockets and laughed in the face of slip stitching. Forgive me. This is it inside out, which barely looks any different to right side out.

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Size wise, I’m 41/32/41, which puts me in a Butterick 18 but previous experience tells me that I have to drop to at least a 16 (where finished measurements put me). My last Gertie Butterick was still too big at a 16 though, so I dropped to a 14 on this one. This isn’t the style of top that you want extra space in. It’s borderline at the waist (could be bigger) but there is still a bit of room in the booby part. I’m a D/DD too, so if you’re smaller in the bust you might find it a bit big in that part.

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Ooh and if you’re wondering (I totally was) if there’s visible boob from side on, there is. Ha. Not a lot though and honestly, if someone is going looking for that, then they deserve to cop an eyeful.

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Hooley dooley I can talk a lot. Sorry. I think I’m done now. And actually,  I’m done with the indecision too. I’m ok with this dress after talking about it so much. Bra be damned, I’ve talked myself around.

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It’s Not You, It’s Me {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress/Top}

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It was a post on Cotton and Steel’s instagram that started it all for me. They’d shared a post by Sarah who’d made the most stunning version of this dress from C&S rayon (her design). I bought the pattern less than five minutes later. I so rarely do that. I’m allergic to PDFs so bought the paper version and had to have it shipped from the US. But I just had to have it. And usually I’d sit there an imagine what fabric I’d use and how I’d make it mine, but I really just want an exact copy of Sarah’s dress. To be fair, I think she’s a legend and I love pretty much everything she does.

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The pattern arrived yesterday after about a week or so of winging its way across the seas and I basically ignored my to do list, shoved everything off my desk (not really), traced it out and decided I needed to sew this RIGHT AWAY. Problem was, I didn’t have any suitable fabric. Which seems hilarious if you’ve seen my stash, but most of it is quilting cotton and this dress really needs something with more drape. I dug around and pulled out a few options before actually reading the back of the pattern. I knew the dress was fabric hungry (4.3m) and though, no worries – I’ll make the top first. HOW SENSIBLE OF ME. It would be a toile of sorts and I never make them. But heck, if there’s fitting issues it saves wasting 4.3m of fabric (how on earth do people think sewing your own clothes cheap? Quick calculation: 4m x $20/m = $80 vs about $30 for the Target equivalent. Anyway, I digress).

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Turns out the top likes a bit of fabric too (3.3m) and the only suitable amount I had was some outlandish faux silk that I grabbed from Spotlight over a year ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this crazy fabric. But it’s pretty bright, even for me. Still, I love those Ken Done/Gorman vibes it gives me. What I don’t love? It behaves about as well as a three year old getting dragged through Woolies right on nap time. After a birthday party. And after you took their party bag away. A ticking time bomb of antagonism. Dramatic, no?

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I had been saving it for a skirt, but nup – I had to make this top right now. She’ll be right, mate. No she won’t. The pattern is amazing, truly. Yes, there are a number of pieces but the instructions are very clear and detailed and it is finished beautifully. That was part of the problem. My darling faux silk doesn’t want to be pressed. You can’t have the iron too hot or the fabric will melt but even if pressed under another cloth, she just wanted to spring back up like nothing had ever happened. She could not be steamed into submission. Which was a big problem for that front yoke. Ugh. It’s making me cringe to show you, but I have to.

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Really I should unpick that whole front yoke and hand sew it into place. I might. But I probably won’t. About halfway through I realised I wasn’t going to love it as much as I wanted to, but continued because I’m stubborn like that. Look at the cool yoke and box pleat at the back though. I love the whole Japanese vibe. No closures and the obi style belt ties make it super cool.

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I thought maybe wearing it with ripped skinny jeans would make me feel less high school art teacher and it actually does. But I’m still on the fence a bit. I will definitely make the dress version, but I just need the right fabric. I know it will redeem itself.

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I probably just need to give it a week or so and I will change my mind. To be honest, it’s been a rough week or so. I wasn’t going to talk about it, but a few people have commented, so here’s the overshare. Yes, I have lost some weight. I have been plagued with weird skin problems since I was 14 and at the age of 36, I am done with it. So done. My doctor’s final step was to try some heavy medication that I wasn’t comfortable with so I took matters into my own hands and overhauled what I eat. And guess what? It worked. For the first three months my skin was the clearest it’s been in my adult life. With that change came some weight loss and that’s the reason I’ve been sewing so much for myself recently – half my wardrobe no longer fits. Then about two weeks ago I started getting a new skin problem, not cystic acne this time, but red itchy patches of psoriasis. I’ve been told it’s most likely a reaction to dairy (which I’ve been eating a lot more of recently). So now I’m trialing dropping dairy. It’s harder than dropping sugar and grains because damn, I love dairy. Those cows, they know how to make some delicious stuff.

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A while back, I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for The Curvy Sewing Collective and that was published over the weekend. It was really exciting for me but one tiny FB comment was made about me not being ‘curvy’. And really, why should I let that bother me? But you know, it did. For my whole life, I’ve felt like the fat girl and then, when I felt like I finally fit in somewhere, I’m not curvy enough either? It annoyed me far more than it should have. That’s the thing with blogging and sewing blogging in particular, I think. Body comments will be made. For the most part though, it’s all very positive and rewarding and I don’t do it for anyone but me. I’m selfish like that. So you’re stuck with me, internet.

Ack, too many words. The pattern is tops, my fabric was not. But I’ll be back with another version when I get some kick ass fabric. The end.

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Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice! {George and Ginger Sincerely Rylee Dress}

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Sometimes it’s nice to step out of your comfort zone, right? My comfort zone generally involves sleeves and not self made, narrow binding out of slippy slidey rayon. But you know, horizons need to be broadened occasionally.

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I can’t remember where I first saw the George and Ginger Sincerely Rylee dress, probably in one of the many FB sewing groups I’m part of. It’s not my usual style, but I really liked the look of it as it’s not something that looks particularly home sewn (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I knew it would be great as a beach dress. And I know I say that a lot, but considering we spend about 10/12 months of the year submerged in water here, beach dresses are something I wear a lot.

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It’s another mullet dress (party in the back) and yeah, I hear you on the no bra thing. But again, swimmers or even a strappy bralette would look cool with it. Or just let the girls be free. I ain’t judging.

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So even though the boho vibe piqued my interest, I couldn’t imagine myself going head to toe floral. I needed something drapey but a wee bit more me. So skull rayon from Spotlight it was. I’ll admit, I feel a bit Lydia Deetz in it, but I’m ok with the whole summer emo-goth vibe.

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Did I mention that if you’re resourceful you can grab this pattern totally freeeeeee? Yeah you can. I did. You just have to get your searching fingers ready and find both the George and Ginger pattern group and Sincerely Rylee fabric group on FB. Both have half a code in their pinned posts, grab those and away you go to the G+G website.

Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that PDF patterns aren’t my favourite thing (I failed cutting and pasting at preschool, I realise how ridiculous that sounds because yes, I sew), but you can get this baby printed as an A0 at your local Officeworks (or print shop, I assume). It cost me the grand sum of $4.10. Not bad for a free pattern. For that price I didn’t even trace it, just cut out the size 14 like some kind of rebel.

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Shall we talk about all the ways I struggled with this dress? Lets.

Firstly, I sewed it yesterday afternoon, coming off the back of a huge, emotionally charged weekend away. I was tired. I should have known better. The pattern has two different skirt pieces. One is the top tier and one is for the bottom two tiers (which you cut 6 of, two joined together for the middle tier and four for the bottom tier. Yes, it’s very full and swishy). In my haze, I didn’t read the instructions properly and thought the top tier was for the top version of the pattern and the others were for the dress versions. Derp. Upon actually reading, that was more clear but I’d already cut everything else and didn’t have quite enough fabric left for that first tier. It was just long enough but not quite wide enough. So it’s not as full as it should be. I think it’s still wearable though.

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The darts, they’re interesting. I’d already read in the FB group that some women had some gaping under the arms and a bigger dart is a good solution for that. I’m so glad I’d read that because I did make a wider dart and the gaping is very slight. It would have been bigger if I didn’t adjust it. But here’s the thing, I should have done a proper FBA because the darts are really short. I made the dress up as is and had to go back and extend those suckers as best I could with the armholes already finished. I almost doubled the length of them to get them in the general vicinity of my nipples. Not the greatest darts, but at least they aren’t pointing awkwardly to the sides of my boobs anymore. I’d say if you’re anything bigger than a B cup, you’ll need to adjust them. For reference, I’m a D cup.

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The final hurdle was making all that narrow strapping behave itself. Which is all me and just a matter of practice. Easier to do out of something more stable like quilting cotton (not recommended for this dress as it needs more drape) than rayon. Cannot even begin to imagine the words that would come out of my mouth if I’d attempted it in something completely devilish like satin. Oh and the gathering and hemming on that last tier. Mate. My fabric was 135cm wide, which means that the last tier is 540cm. It’s never ending.webDSC_1592

Despite the challenges though, I’m really quite happy with it. I love how flowy it is and the shape of the top. It’s nice to have a different style to wear and I definitely learned new skills. Mainly patience.

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Pockets for Days {Vintage Simplicity 7189}

Another vintage Simplicity! WHAT? I know. But hold onto your hats ladies and gents, because you are about to get eleventy billion more vintage makes. Why? Because the kindest lady that I’ve never met got in contact with me recently to ask if I’d like her grandmother’s pattern stash. OMG WOULD I?! She brought four (4) boxes of patterns over for me on Tuesday and I was immersed into some kind of sewing nirvana for a good couple of hours while I went through them all. Amazing. Some kind of good karma thing happening there. Anyway, there’s a lot of vintage Simplicty (and all the usual others, plus some Australian mail order 1950s ish gems too). It’s just too good. I want to sew them all. But I had to start somewhere and this is it.

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Look at those 70s babes with their floofy hair and swagger. How could I resist? (Disclaimer: not my pattern envelope, I stole it from the internet. My pattern was sans envelope but pattern was uncut. My copy is a size 14 (waist 28 inches – lol).

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More info? Ok. Pattern is vintage Simplicity 7189, which you can read about here. Fabric is rad old Robert Kaufman. It’s splendid.

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It’s wrap skirt! Hooray! I love a wrap skirt. And check out those pockets. Are they not the best you’ve ever seen? Actually I have a bit of regret about the pockets. They sort of make me cross eyed because the print is so nuts (even for me). I probably should have done the body in black and maybe just used the print for the top, but never mind.

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I must gloat about my first ever successful intentional pattern match. I was worried about breaking up the print on the centre front seam because they are in such obvious lines and I knew it would bother me if they didn’t line up. But look! I did it! I’m still not really sure how, but I’ll take it.

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Fit stuff: wraps in general are pretty forgiving, size wise. As I mentioned above, this pattern is for a 28″ waist. Mine fluctuates between 31″ and 33″ right now. I graded the pattern up just slightly by adding 1.5cms to the side seams and waistband and it works. There’s still plenty of coverage where the panels overlap in the back. I can pull it tighter or looser depending on how much I have for lunch. Win win, really.

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The skirt is full, but not a circle. Maybe a half circle? Definitely not as fabric hungry as the McCalls wrap circle skirt (good option if you’re keen on this style).

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What else? Oh if you’re wondering about the wrap mechanics, you just leave a small gap in the waistband on one side so you can pull the tie through. It’s a pretty quick sew because there’s no buttons or zip to worry about.

I see more of these in my future!

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