Will You Ever Learn? {McCalls 8033}

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Oooh, now what is this piece of bohemian goddessy goodness floating around in my front yard? Why, it’s McCalls 8033 (Sophia to her friends) in rayon from Spotlight! Yes it is. And if you’re in Australia, it will probably be three long summers before the pattern arrives in stores here, so you might need to buy it online like I did. It’s a different offering from them though, no? Please note that the skirt is tiered. I totally missed that when I ordered it, but like it. The version I made had four tiers, which brings it to maxi length. I ran out of fabric though, so have three tiers and don’t mind the midi length.

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But before you sew that sucker up, make a damn toile. I didn’t. I should have. But I hate them. Don’t preach to me about toiles. I understand the concept. Truly. But by the time I sew one up in boring fabric, I have lost the will to make another in decent fabric. Even in these times when we’re mid-pandemic and have plenty of time to spare (I still don’t, what’s with that?). So just toile the bodice, how about that?

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So, going by the finished measurements (as I always do) I decided to make a size 18D (oh yes, we have cup sizes on this one – a treat!). Bigger than my usual 16 in McCalls, but I’ve become a bit rounder over the last 12 months and am happy to accept that. Before I did anything, I shortened the bodice by 1.5cm, which is standard for me – I’m short waisted. There aren’t pockets in this pattern and I didn’t add them, I thought in-seam ones might gape and pull because the skirt is a bit more of a close fit at the hips than I usually wear. Patch could work, but probably not in this light weight rayon.

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Allow me to list the other things that needed altering:

  • Still too long in the bodice, needs to come up another smidge, more so in the centre front(?!)
  • Mega in the shoulders. Like, massive. Apparently if you’re a D cup, you’re also a 6ft 4 Amazonian Princess. I ended up taking a wedge from the shoulders, which helped heaps but it’s still too big around the armholes. I do enjoy having plenty of space in the bust, especially with buttons.
  • Big all over, should have made the 16. Took it in at the side seams and moved the buttons further across.
  • The darts are very big (height and width). The width I get, big boobs need big darts. But these suckers finished up and over my bust. Not helped by the fact that I took it up at the shoulders, but still. Huge. Making them shorter was a problem because (a) the wider the dart, the harder it is to make them finish shorter and (b) because the darts are so big, the instructions have you trim them, so I could only shorten them a wee bit. Now they’re kind of a weird shape, but whatever. Maybe they’d be better split into double darts? And curved.
  • There seems to be a bit of pulling at those bottom buttons, which I didn’t notice until I saw photos. Images can be a bit unforgiving that way. I’m not bothered by it, but I reckon my facing probably got off grain there. Not surprising with rayon. Maybe block fuse it before cutting.

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It’s not all bad, just more changes than I’m used to and admittedly, I am way more fussy with fit now than I was when I first started sewing. I’d probably accept all this from RTW even. I do like the floaty blue pain in the bum, so I will get some wear out of it. I’ll wear it with docs for winter and pretend I’m in a 90s grunge band.

Falling Leaves {McCalls 8040}

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A while back I ordered a few of the new McCalls patterns, shipped directly from the company because it takes us approximately three seasons to get them in Australia (not even joking). The shipping is a bit costly, but if you get the patterns when they’re on sale and make the most of the shipping, it’s a bit more worthwhile.

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Out of the patterns I ordered, M8040 topped the list as the one to make first – quick, straight forward and those sleeves. I don’t have a whole lot of woven top patterns, so it’s nice to have something to wear with jeans and work pants.

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I used some Dear Stella quilting cotton I’d had hanging around for a while and made the cropped version. The only change I made was adding a bit of extra volume to the sleeves. if you’re going to have a crack – the cropped version is proper cropped. I’m quite short waisted and it’s pretty short on me, often I still have to shorten cropped bodices, but not this one! And, as always, check the finished measurements. I get the vibe that McCalls are trying to look a bit more like the indie pattern companies with their new line drawings and pattern names (this one is called Emmie), and it seems like the heap of ease they used to have is shrinking. I usually make a 16 in McCalls (even though my measurements put me in an 18 or 20) and I made a straight 18 in this one.

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So what’s the next logical step for a girl who likes a top? She turns it into a dress bodice, of course. With double gauze from Spoonflower. I threw caution into the wind with this one, which I would like to say is due to the state of the world at the moment, but it’s not. I just get a bit like that with sewing.

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I shortened the top another 1.5cm above the ‘crop’ line on the pattern pieces, but once I’d attached the skirt pieces later it was still a bit long in the bodice, so I had to decide whether to unpick and shorten or add elastic to the waist seam.

 

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I decided on the elastic because I figured it would give my wardrobe a bit of variety and the gauze gathers up quite nicely. I thought it might end up pulling at the button at the waist though (and it did), so I added a hook and eye there to secure everything.

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I ended up with 14 buttons in total and I stitched the facing down so it doesn’t curl up and flap around, as it tends to do on lighter weight fabrics.

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I just squeaked it out of three yards of fabric and even then, my sleeves had to be cut shorter and one of them on the bias. Ooops. I wasn’t willing to forgo my giant sleeves though, I love them.

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Queen of Hearts {that linen one with the big sleeves}

Well. It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? And it’s not like I haven’t been sewing. I’m always sewing. Then I diligently photograph, post to insta and then the blogging part has sort of dropped off. Partly for time reasons, partly because I feel like I make a lot that is same-same and I don’t really have the words to say the same thing yet again but in a different way. Partly because blogging is a bit of a dinosaur now but I still like it anyway, ok?

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I’ve been drafting a bit myself lately and that sounds way more fancy and complex than it is. When I say ‘drafting’, I mean ‘making up my own patterns by cobbling pieces together in a way that doesn’t look too shit’. I’ve never had formal lessons, just a bit of good old Nanny YouTube and a lot of trial and error.

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My last post was back in July and I was into tiered skirts then and I’m still into tiered skirts now. And so it seems, are a lot of you. So I thought I’d share my process of making these dresses. It’s not hard. A bit tedious, but not hard. (PS this is wonderful embroidered linen from Pitt Trading. I love it and so does everyone else because it sold out very quickly. Twice. And as a PSA, buying from places like Pitt Trading and The Remnant Warehouse is nice because they sell mostly designer remnants. So you get cool stuff, at a decent price and it saves it from going to landfill. More designers should sell off their end of bolt stuff. It’s cool. Some companies do it through their own websites – check out Lazy Bones and Doops Designs).

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I start with the bodice. I use this boxy, cropped, dartless one ALL THE TIME. I started by tracing off the bodice of an old 80s smock dress pattern. I changed the front and back necklines, the shoulder slope, raised the armholes and waistline and then drafted the facings to suit. Which is really easy, you just follow your new front and back necklines. Or you can finish with bias tape. Whatever floats your boat. I used to hate facings but now I think they look more polished, I just stitch them down in the shoulder seams (ditches) so they don’t flip to the wrong side. Oh and clip and understitch. Annoying little extra steps, but don’t skip them, it makes a huge difference. Anyway. Find your bodice. Change it until you’re happy. MAKE SURE YOU CAN GET IT OVER YOUR HEAD. If you don’t have a pattern you can steal one from, you could try the free Peppermint Magazine/In The Folds one. It doesn’t have sleeves though.

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So. Sleeves. I change them up too. I have the original version from the 80s pattern. It was puffy (it was the 80s!), so I flattened the sleeve head to reduce the ease. Sometimes I cut out a rectangle of fabric double the length of the sleeve opening, gather it to fit and presto! Cute frilly sleeve. Look, same bodice! One with a peplum, one with that same peplum lengthened to a skirt. Oh the possibilities!

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But for the white linen dress, I re-traced that sleeve, lengthened it and slashed it from the bottom, leaving the sleeve head in place so it would still fit into the armscye of the bodice. Like this.

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You can leave then sew the sleeves up as normal and add them just like that or you can add elastic into the hem, which is what I did for this dress. Yay! Big silly sleeves! So even though the bodice remains the same, just changing the sleeve can make it feel like a completely different dress (or top). Sewing magic.

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Now for the skirt. This is the easiest part, I swear. It’s just gathered rectangles. Sometimes I’ll do three tiers, sometimes two. It doesn’t really matter as long as each tier is 1.5x the width of the first (which is 1.5x the width of the bodice). So, for the linen dress my tiers were:

  1. 16″ (wide) x 15″ (high) cut on the fold (x2 – one for the front and one for the back). Gather those suckers until they are the width of your bodice. Put the pockets in this one if you so desire.
  2. 24″ x 15″ cut on the fold (x2). Same again. I like to hem it before I attach it to the tier above, but you can do that at the end if you want. Gather it to fit the tier above.

Gathering. Everyone always asks me for tricks or shortcuts. I have none – sorry. In fact, if you try to shortcut, it probably won’t look as good. I mark the centres of each rectangle of fabric with a little notch. I run two rows of gathering stitches across the top. I gather those rectangles to fit where they need to go and then I find those little centre notches and match them with the centre of the piece above, pin them in place. That way everything is even and I spread the gathers out so they look nice and are running straight up and down (so no little bits get twisted and caught up when they are sewn on).

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Now you have a cute new dress. Excellent work! If you want, you can make a waist tie by sewing two long rectangles together. Just make sure you leave a gap for turning (I like to leave it in the middle) and then sew it up from the right side. Or don’t have a waist tie and just swan around in your big old sack dress like the queen you are.

(I hope that all makes sense. Sorry I talk so much).

 

Tiers of a Clown

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Help me. I’m obsessed with tiered skirts. It’s all I want to make. I’m a full skirt lover from way back, of course. I wear dresses with gathered skirts almost every day. I laugh in the faces of people that say gathers are unflattering on large hips. HA. Have you seen my 44″ beauties? Gimme more hip floof, I say.

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Why the tiers though? I don’t know. More twirling power? Fond childhood memories? I was born in the 80s, so remember stuff like this one:

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LOOK AT ALL THAT SKIRT! Tiered skirts have been around much longer than that, of course. Check out these lovelies:

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So. I’ve become a bit distracted with getting more of this in my life. I do have one pattern with a tiered skirt (McCalls 7834, which you can see here):

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But it only has two tiers and I was keen to try three, which meant a bit of an adjustment in height and maths. Still easy though. You can do it. My first version was entirely self drafted, a smocky fit and made out of amazingly light and floaty cotton/silk from Potter and Co.

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The fabric is 136cm wide and I used 4m in total. The top tier of the skirt is 2x the width of the fabric (one for the front and one for the back, gathered to fit), the second tier is 4x and the bottom is a whopping 6x. So much fabric. Felt like I’d gathered 11kms of fairy floss. But holy heck, it floats around like a cloud and I love it so much. Room for food and plenty of comfort. I used the same fabric in blue spot for the pockets and bias facing at the neckline.

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But was this enough? Nah. I needed something more fitted and maxi, obviously. This was my birthday dress but alas, I finished it a day late. Not a big deal, it would have been far too chilly for the movies and out to dinner at this time of year anyway.

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Ohmygosh, this fabric. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t gravitate towards florals as a rule, but hell – look at this. It was giving me allllll the hippy dippy love child vibes and I needed it in my soul. It’s a mid weight cotton (quilting weight, I guess) from Nerida Hansen, designed by Ayang Cempaka. It looks like it’s currently out of stock though.

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The weight of the fabric meant that I could do a more structured bodice and even though I’m mostly a boat-necked, sleeve having bodice kind of girl, I thought the sheer amount of fabric might drown me, so I used good old Butterick 6453 instead. I’ve made this in the past and it’s a nice, simple make. Do look at the finished measurements though (there’s a lot of ease, I’m generally a 16-18 in the Big 4 and this is a straight 14 with a smidge extra added to the princess seams, a total cheaters FBA).

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Anyway, I made the tiers here taller (obviously) to give me a maxi length skirt. Because the fabric is much heavier than the cotton/silk I used for the last version, I was conscious of not using quite so much. As it is, it’s ended up quite heavy! I might end up adding a waist stay to support it. The fabric is 140cm wide and I used around 70cms width for the front and back on the top tier, 2x the full width for the second tier and 4x the full width for the third. In hindsight, I think the 2nd tier could do with a touch more fullness but I’m not worried.

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Spring is coming, I can feel it. Can’t wait to wear my new boho babies all summer long.

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Things I’ve Made Lately But Have Been Too Lazy To Blog {Woven Edition}

Here we go again, a bunch of recent makes that don’t really require a blog post of their own – this time in woven.

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This one is good old peak 80s, Simplicity 5884. The cool thing about this one though, is that I designed the print. You can find it here.

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Next up, another version of my old faithful self drafted (Joan) dress. This time with a collar and metal zip. The magic here though is in the fabric, obviously. May Gibbs artwork is quite iconic and I bought this sheet from Kip and Co because I needed to wear it on my body.

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New fave: McCalls 7834. I’ve made this twice so far and I’m not gonna lie, I could go another one. This particular version is made from rayon from Spotlight. I made the straight 16, but mine seems to have much more ease that those pictured on the pattern envelope. I changed the sleeves on this one too. Next time I might size down but I’ll definitely need a FBA. It’s comfort city and probably makes me look like a blob of leopard, but I seriously don’t care. I’ve worn it heaps since I made it. I can’t remember if the pattern has you interface the button placket (I mean, why wouldn’t you?!), but I did. I also interfaced both pieces of the collar and stand, because rayon.

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Another comfy rayon (again, Spotlight) sack, this time dashing back to the 90s to steal the big collar, empire waist vibes. Simplicity 8602 from 1993, to be accurate. I love the sleeve length of this one, which I adjusted to be between the short and long length. I also added the bottom ruffle, which it probably doesn’t need but I was just so in love with it on the leopard dress. It’s becoming quite the autumn staple as well.

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Next. Grown up Wednesday Addams. Simplicity 4119 from 1952. That’s a 67 year old pattern, friends. She’s pristine, she’s got no printing – just notches and punched out holes. I felt kind of bad unfolding it all because it was so perfectly preserved in the envelope. But patterns are made for sewing, right? Luckily I’ve made enough Carolyn PJs to know how the collar needs to be constructed so I didn’t really need to refer to the (very brief) instructions.

It’s a bit of a funny fit, as these vintage patterns can sometimes be. I graded it up slightly, after comparing it to my most loved, self drafted bodice (see above), but in the end I took it all back it. There must be an unbelievable amount of ease in it, since the pattern is a 34″ bust and I’m a 42″. I used cotton shirting with a slight bit of stretch so the fit is more forgiving. I love those gathered darts, but they need to be a big bigger at the waist for me. I also shortened the bodice a bit too much. I think next time I’ll make those cuffs a bit bigger so they can be buttoned together.

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And finally, McCalls 7200 in another of my own designs and printed on Crepe De Chine from Spoonflower. A very quick and simple make, but another that will see me through until winter. I made the length somewhere between the short and long versions on the envelope and laughed in the face of all the hand sewing the instructions request. I tacked the band down at a few points (back of neck, shoulders and bottom hem) so it stays put a bit easier. The CDC is very flippy floppy otherwise and there’s no interfacing in the band.

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All finished, well done.

 

Getting Shirty Again {McCalls 6696 hack}

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Remember a while back I mashed a few patterns together to come up with a shirt pattern that fit me without gaping? The perfect collared shirt. Here it is, just in case you missed it. Anyway, I thought it was about time I turned that sucker into a dress, because why not, right?

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I mean yeah, I own McCalls 6696 and have made it a few times, just like every good sewing blogger ever. But I usually ended up sewing the button placket shut and putting a zip in the side because it really needed an FBA that I was too lazy to do and honestly, the collar is massive on that thing. I don’t know if I’m particularly short-necked, but it always felt oversized and grazed my chin.

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Stuff I changed:

  • Shortened the shirt front and back pieces to finish at the waist.
  • Gathered the back piece between the darts to fit it into the waistband (stolen from the original M6696 pattern).
  • Just did a regular old gathered skirt, with pieces the width of my fabric.

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Nothing groundbreaking. Besides, I’d made the shirt before, so didn’t think I’d have to change too much.

LOL.

Famous last words.

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Guess whose weight fluctuates like a yoyo and probably should have tried on her old versions of this dress first? Yeahhhhhhhh. When you think about it, shirts are pretty forgiving if your weight has changed, but fitted dresses with waistbands are less so.

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Things to change for next time (because yes, I forget stuff and often refer back to my own blog for clues on how I made things in the past. Apparently I donated my memory brain cells to my children):

  •  Take in the shirt a smidge at the centre front (those bust darts aren’t sitting where they should be and there feels like there’s excess fabric in the centre).
  • Take in the waist band a little bit also.
  • Shorten the bodice pieces a bit more so the waistband hits my actual waist.
  • Remember that I’ve given my collar and collar stand pieces a 1cm seam allowance, not 1.5cms.
  • Perhaps try to put the buttons and buttonholes on the correct sides next time.

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On the plus side, she’s very wearable and the extra room will be good for Christmas eating and I’m just being nitpicky, really. How good is the fabric? It’s by Alexia Abegg and I got it here. I’m such a sucker for the darker, tarot-esque/witchy/mystical themes. Meanwhile, I already have plans for my next one. There’s something that feels super fancy about a proper collar and collar stand, as well as functional buttons allllll the way down. I love it.

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Giddy Up, Jingle Bell… {Butterick 6453}

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There isn’t anything ground breaking in this post. No new skills or anything like that. In fact, I’m really only posting it for two reasons – for recording keeping (I often look back over past posts when I can’t remember when I made something or what changes I made) and for vaguely smug reasons.

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This time last year we were madly preparing to head over to Samoa. Christmas was not even a blip on my radar. By the time we got back, Christmas was here and I was in a mad rush to get everything done before December 25th.

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But not this year, this year I am org-to-the-anised. Oh yes. What a smug bitch. This year, this amazing Jocelyn Proust fabric jumped out at me at Spotlight sometime in September and I bought enough to sink a small vessel. Shirts for the boys (the little and the big) plus a dress for me. Did I have very cheesy Christmas photos in mind? Perhaps. I’ve always wanted cool ugly Christmas sweater photos, but you know, it’s the opposite of sweater weather here in December. Unless you mean literally sweating, which is accurate.

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Anyway, I digress. Here is good old B6453 in a cheery Aussie Christmas print from Jocelyn Proust. I don’t have much to say about this pattern, I’ve made it before and I like it a lot. I’m weird about no sleeves sometimes, but the pattern is too sweet to resist. It goes together really nicely and I very much like the way the facing is done. Two things though – it has a shit tonne of ease, so if you don’t want it to fit like a sack you should size down AND the skirt should be much fuller than this but my fabric was only standard quilting width (112cm). I could have added panels for extra fullness but I only bought 2 metres because I’m stingy like that.

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Anyway, it came up tip top and I love it. I also made the shirts for the little guys about 6 weeks or so ago, but they haven’t worn them so there’s no photos just yet.

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And so anyway, while I was washing my Christmas fabric and feeling organised and smug, something pinged in my lizard brain. Oh yes, I had ordered Christmas fabric from Spoonflower last year but had left it too late and it arrived in January. Right. Where was that cute pink Santa fabric?

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AND, in a weird twist of meant-to-be-ness, my friend Jen from Fussy Gus released these women’s tees and I needed one, of course. Because they’re amazing. And it just so happened that the pinks involved were a match made in outfit heaven. So hey, it’s a two Christmas outfits kind of year.

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For the skirt, I literally cut the curved waistband pieces (my standard curved waistband that I use for pretty much everything, just extended at the front for buttons and reduced at the back because there’s no zipper – does that make sense? Tell me if it doesn’t), and then used the rest of the fabric for the skirt. So it ended up midi length and gathered the full width of the fabric. And I love it. Suitably comfortable for Christmas festivities, whatever they might be.

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So one shirt to go for the husband and maybe I will finally get my cheesy Christmas photos this year. Fingers crossed. Husbo will be suitably horrified but generally humors me regardless.

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She Wants To Move {that mesh dress with all the other stuff}

Warning: This is a very long post with lots of sewing talk. Which, you know, you’d kind of expect from a sewing blog. But consider yourself warned.

webDSCF8905My little brother was getting married. Obviously I was making a dress. Obviously it had to be awesome. Obviously I was also shooting the wedding (I do this for all my siblings and my husband’s siblings), so I had to be able to move around also.

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I found these Alice McCall embroidered mesh panels at The Remnant Warehouse months and months ago. Oh yes, they were going to be awesome. The toughest decision was picking which colour to go with. At the same time, I ordered some nude coloured peach skin fabric to make the layers underneath.

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As soon as I saw the panels, I knew that I didn’t want a standard lining, I wanted some skin to show through. But I also knew that straps wouldn’t be quite right either, so had visions of making a strapless dress to go underneath. Now, October in QLD can be quite warm, so I wasn’t too keen on wearing a heap of layers underneath (nor do I have a strapless bra that fits). In a confident leap, I decided to make my own strapless bra/skirt combo to go under the dress.

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Construction of the actual dress wasn’t difficult. I used my own self drafted pattern because I knew it fitted me well, I’ve sewn it a lot and the mesh needed a relatively simple silhouette. Sorted. I used French seams where possible and then bound the seams at the waist and armholes with scraps of the mesh. I attached that by hand to keep it as invisible as possible.

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It worked well and was quite pain free. I moved the zip placement from the back of the dress to the side seam, so I wouldn’t be cutting through the beautiful embroidery. I added strips of the mesh either side of the seam with the zip to give it a bit of extra strength. I didn’t hem the sleeves or skirt, but cut the mesh back close to the embroidery.

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Honestly, the hardest part of the dress construction was the neckline. Originally I wanted to fold it over twice and hand sew it down invisibly, but I just couldn’t get it to sit flat, so ended up doing a rolled hem on my overlocker. Disaster struck when I lightly pressed that with the iron (the iron I’d been using on the same setting THE WHOLE TIME) and the neckline melted. I wanted to cry. So I had to cut the neckline down a bit more, which meant that the rolled hem now sits on the embroidery instead of just above. Not a big deal, but it annoys me. Turns out the thermostat (or whatever controls the temperature) in the iron had died and I had to bin the iron and buy a new one.

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In an additional dick move, I didn’t think and hung the dress on a hanger between sewing sessions. Of course, the weight of the skirt stretched out the neckline and it no longer sat on my shoulders properly. I (CAREFULLY) tried to steam it back into place, which worked a little bit but didn’t fix it entirely. Google wasn’t much help either, so in the end I very carefully ran a thread through the back of the rolled hem at the front and back necklines, ever so slightly gathering them and tied them off at the shoulders. It worked and you can’t see it at all! Probably a very unconventional fix, but it worked.

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Dress complete. Skirt and top to go. One of the things that gave me a bit of a shock about the nude mesh of the dress is exactly how nude it looks. Which I realise is a completely ridiculous statement, but I felt so exposed! Too exposed to go with the original nude fabric I had planned to go underneath. In the end I decided on silver instead, which is a sateen with a slight stretch I also bought from The Remnant Warehouse. Skirt was easy, so I started there. I went with a half circle because I didn’t want anymore bulk at the waist and used horsehair braid in the hem for a bit of kick (again, didn’t want to add anymore layers in the form of a petticoat).

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Which left the bra. OMG. Now, I’m no stranger to bra sewing, but strapless bras are an entirely different beast. They defy gravity. The experts will tell you that the support of a bra doesn’t come from the straps, it actually comes from the band, but holy hell, they help. I’ve never had a RTW strapless bra fit me or stay put. And I think a lot of people are in the same boat. The cup and wire shape on a strapless bra is much more of a U than a C. Boning and a longer band helps a lot. Right. How hard could it be?

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LOL. I started with Orange Lingerie’s Esplanade because I already owned it, I’d already sewn it (although not entirely successfully managed to fit it) and there aren’t many strapless patterns out there! I looked over my old blog post on the Esplanade (hooray for good record keeping) and made a few changes (sized down, took some volume out of the upper cup) and it was… fine. It pretty much fit, it tacked to my chest but if I moved, it would slide. It felt like the whole thing had to come up about 2 inches, while I needed to lose about the same from the bottom. It was pretty much decoration – it fit me, but gave me absolutely no support. Which is a shame, because the Marlborough bra from OL is my absolute favourite. Ah well, not to worry, there’s still options, right?

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How about cloning my What Katie Did Merry Widow

? Just the top part. Even though it’s not a perfect fit on me, I could adjust it.  I’d seen it done by bloggers before and it really was much simpler that I expected. Basically you use pins to mark all the seam lines and then join the dots. Then add seam allowance of course. There’s a few tutorials getting around for it, like this one.

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The result was ok, better than the Esplanade, but room for improvement. It’s not the black one pictured above, BTW. I didn’t take proper photos of the first one. Just phone ones so I could get some feedback from the ladies a FB bra making group (yes, they exist. Shut up). Anyway, the bra ladies suggested I straighten out the upper cup piece, rather than have it curved as I’d traced. Which makes so much sense, because all the upper cup pattern pieces in my bra patterns have a straight upper cup. OK. YES. Let’s go again.

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Which brings me to the black beauty. Holy heck. I did it. I DID IT. A strapless bra that fits. I ran downstairs to show my husband, who is pretty good at making all the right noises when I succeed (or fail) with sewing stuff. I could jump and that sucker won’t move. All is right with the world. I decided I wanted it a wee bit narrower in the bridge plus a touch higher in the upper cup, just for a smidge more coverage.  A wardrobe malfunction after leaning down in a mesh dress wouldn’t be ideal.

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Onto the final version! With bra sewing, a tiny adjustment really does make a bit difference, as does a change in fabric and definitely in power mesh. So, my final version ended up a bit different to the black version. But the wedding was looming and I was ready to put this thing to bed. It had been going on for a very long time.

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It ended up a bit too high in the cups and bigger in general all over, with some wrinkling due to the pretty unforgivable nature of the fabric. Not ideal, but I could live with it. In my head, I’d dreamed of matching my power mesh to the fabric, but finding it in silver proved very difficult. And the black mesh I’d used for the earlier version was much firmer than the nude, so I probably should have used two layer of the nude for extra strength. We live and learn.

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The wedding was awesome, everything I was wearing stayed put, was comfortable and I didn’t think about it all day. I took these images a few days before, because I knew there wouldn’t be many of me on the day (part of being the photographer). I was right too, these are the only ones that exist and that’s only because my brother (the groom!) offered to take them, bless him.

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The newlyweds ❤ I love them very much.

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Not Everyone’s A Winner, Baby {Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress}

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This might be unpopular but hear me out. I love the style of Gerties patterns. They are the kind of silhouette that I wear all the time. I own her books, which have their issues but what I’ve made has been ok. Not perfect, but ok. Wearable. I actually really love some of her patterns for Butterick, like this one and this one.

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I know it’s rare for patterns to fit straight off the envelope. I do. But I guess I’ve been pretty lucky up until now. I have standard changes that I’ll make, often before even starting (FBA and shorten bodice), but my measurements tend to slot me right into one size (I tend to go by finished measurements) so I don’t find I have to make a lot of fitting changes. In fact, I usually go straight for a wearable muslin rather than making a practice run, getting sick of it and then never making the proper version. What can I say, I get bored easily. Unless of course it’s really special fabric and a pattern I’ve never made before. Even then, I’ll use inexpensive fabric but something that I’d still actually wear. I’ve never made a proper, unbleached muslin version.

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I loved that collar on the Night and Day Dress pattern as soon as I saw it. I own a fair few vintage patterns, but nothing with that lovely square neckline and collar. Plus I loved the bishop sleeves for something different and even thought the tie collar was pretty cute. At $53.50 USD (about $75 AUD) it did work out quite expensive, but just under half of that was shipping and you know, that’s life when you live down here. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for something I really like the look of and that I’d struggle to find elsewhere. Plus, I’m supporting a fellow woman in business, so ok.

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I was excited when it arrived and got to work pretty much right away. I was delighted to find my measurements slotted me right into the 10D. They are my exact measurements. I’d seen it mentioned that there wasn’t a lot of ease and that suited me too, but I did double check them. I couldn’t see anywhere what height the pattern was drafted for, but I took an inch out when I was tracing the pattern pieces off as I’m pretty short waisted and that’s quite standard for me. I held the pieces up to my torso for a rough idea and it looked ok.

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The whole thing went together really easily and the instructions are clear and concise. I was a bit worried about the collar, but it was find. It doesn’t lay flat when you are sewing it together, but don’t worry about that because it all turns out well in the end. The darts though, they are something else. They were massive. If you’ve ever done a FBA and ended up with ginormous darts, you know what I’m talking about. And I’m not even that big in the bust really – about a 38D. Not small, but not really big either. I had fit issues that I’ve never come across before (please excuse the phone pic).

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I used some new Tula Pink fabric – something that could be purchased again if it didn’t turn out, but also, I had high hopes. What could go wrong? HA.

Ok so too long in the bodice, even after taking an inch out. But more that that, huge across my chest and weird extra fabric under the bust and at the bust darts too. Ok. I unpicked the bodice from the skirt and made the darts bigger at the base, while trying to shorten them too – a nearly impossible feat because they were already so wide and then trying to drop the point below my bust made getting from dart leg to dart point a very short trip. I fudged my way through it and ended up here, with still too long darts. Although a glance at the pattern images shows them quite high, so maybe that’s where they’re supposed to be?

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I couldn’t keep it on my shoulders. Is this pattern made for 6’4″ footballers? Footballers with very perky busts. Is it me? I’d seen other versions popping up on instagram that looked great! What have I done?

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Ok, round two. Using an Ella Blue fabric that was quite a bargain of $5/m. Not a big deal. Probably cheaper than unbleached muslin, you guys. But this time would be fine, right?

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I went down a size to an 8D. I took the shoulders up and a bit more from the bodice. I scooped the armholes to compensate. Not enough though apparently. Still had the excess fabric around the darts. STILL.  Same trick again. Wider dart legs to fix the waist darts, not as easy to fix the bust ones. Ok. But at least this one was staying on my shoulders. I can live with the wrinkles at the sides. Whatever.

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Do my boobs sit at my belly button? Whyyyy have I never experienced anything like this before?

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Also, knowing Gertie is big on foundation garments, I wore my What Katie Did Merry Widow underneath and it definitely looks better than just with a normal bra. Unders look like this. Was hoping the neighbours wouldn’t decide to water the garden at this point in time.

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Ok fine. I was going to go back and rescue my Tula version. If it was the last thing I did. Muslin time. I MADE 8 BODICE MUSLINS. EIGHT. I dropped darts, I went up a cup size, I went down a cup size, I slashed, I spread, I shortened, I lengthened. I cried. Now, I’m not a professional dress maker, but surely this pattern is aimed at home sewers, right?

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Fresh off the sewing machine, I’d thought I’d done it – no wrinkles at the sides. Apparently not when you are holding your arm out to take a selfie, but the appear again when standing normally.

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In the end, I went back to the 10D, removed 3cms from the shoulders and 3cms from the bottom of the waist (I know, but seriously – I felt like I tried everything by that point) and the weird thing? I took 1cm from the CF. That brought everything more toward the centre so at least I could keep it on my shoulders. That was as close as I was going to get. Still had the wrinkling at the bust darts but I was defeated. I just wanted it to be wearable. So I made my new bodice and I am going to wear that sucker.

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Because finished is better than perfect.

 

Baby Got Back {Decades Of Style Siren Dress}

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It is highly likely I’ve used that very obvious title before – in fact, I’m sure I have. But in these fast paced, modern times when content is king, I’ve forgotten what I used it for and hopefully you have too. I was going to use ‘Hope It Gives You Hell’, but realised that sounds like I hope you have trouble with this dress too, and that’s untrue.

Let’s celebrate my over explaining with GIFs.

Broken up with another image because I’m not a monster.

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Yeah she does. Except I literally mean my back, not my butt.

Sorry. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. This dress did give me a hard time, it’s Friday night, I’ve poured a sizable drink….

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Let’s talk. I used Decades of Style’s Siren Dress. Which I’ve had for quite some time but  have shied away from for a couple of reasons:

(a) I knew it would be a bit of a challenge to fit

(b) Am I ok with going bra-less? Eh, not sure.

(c) Will it show my back fat?

What eventually made me give it a red hot go:

(a) That back

(b) My cavalier attitude

(c) That back.

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Truth is, I was a wee bit bored and wanted something new to sew. The internet didn’t provide any super exciting versions of this dress, but I forged ahead anyway. With freaking awesome Alexander Henry fabric (which, I may add, is repping a fair few Australian bird species). A toile would have been a sensible idea, for sure, but since when have I been sensible?

 

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Shall we talk about the bad stuff first? Lets.

  • Neckline gaping – dealing with it for now, it’s not too bad.
  • I had a huge gape that ran from under the arm right around the back. I mean, uuuugggggeeeeee. Ok, that needed a fix. I ended up taking it in a massive 5cms under each arm, tapering down to nothing at the waist.
  • The above fix is now creating some weird bagging at the side seams. Mostly covered with the ties so not such a big thing.
  • Cut the ties upside down, so the birds are running the wrong way down my back. DOH. Could not be arsed cutting them again.
  • TIED THE WHOLE THING UP WRONG FOR THESE PHOTOS. What is wrong with me?! The ties are supposed to wrap around the waist and tie at the back. I did try this but found it was too short for a decent bow. A quick glance at the pattern envelope would have told me a knot was how it was supposed to be tied. I’ll remember that for when I wear it properly, I swear.

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Let’s talk about the good stuff:

  •  I mostly saved it! It’s quite wearable
  • I sewed bra cups into the lining. It ain’t no bra, but it provides a bit of something. And I even managed to get them in the right spots – even after the quite extensive adjustments.
  • I self lined the ties because I didn’t want to see the wrong side of them.
  •  I added my own pockets instead of the solo patch pocket. I’m not a huge fan of patch pockets, mostly because I lose my phone out of them when I get into the car etc.
  • Instead of the two hooks for a closure at the back I used two buttons and a hook and eye because two hooks just felt flimsy. It wouldn’t have felt so flimsy if I’d actually tied it up as intended, but never mind.

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I will make another and I’ll take wedges out all over my pattern pieces to sort out the gaping thing. I’ll probably lengthen the ties a bit too, just so I can tie a bigger bow at the back. I love how wide the ties are! That back though….

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