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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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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Sewing For Samoa {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

webDSC_6875It occurred to me recently as I was lovingly admiring this dress in my cupboard, that I had actually never blogged it. It’s a really special dress for me and holds a little memory in every one of those sequins, I think.

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Created from one of my favourite patterns in the world, Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress and sewn in a luxurious sequined silk chiffon from the Remnant Warehouse for my husband’s brother’s wedding in Samoa last November.

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Samoa in November (and really most of the year) is hot and humid. As Queenslanders, we are used to a bit of heat and humidity, but this is next level stuff. I knew I wanted a dress from a natural fibre, with beautiful drape and fabric that just offered something a tiny bit extra. Enter The Remnant Warehouse. They stock a huge variety of designer remnants so it’s the place I stalk online when I want something extra special.

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I cut my pieces very carefully and following some info I’d read online, started painstakingly removing sequins from the seam allowances. THIS. WAS. THE. WORST. It would have taken a year of unpicking in front of the tv each night. Further research online showed a few rebels that just sewed over the suckers. I held my breath and gave that a go and… nothing. Totally fine. No causalities (eyes or needles). These sequins were quite small and soft, as well as not too close together, so sewing over them was completely fine. Phew. Life saver. The cut ones are scratchy though, so I did french seams wherever possible and trimmed any rogue sequins out of the way.

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I stitched the hem of the dress and sleeves by hand because I didn’t want any stitching showing from the outside. It was totally worth taking the extra time and care. I did the same with the front and back facing pieces, after removing all the sequins from those so they weren’t rubbing against my skin. After initially thinking all those sequins were individually knotted, with trial and error I found the magic unraveling thread in each bunch. It was heaps of fun to pull it and watch gold sparkles fly around my lounge room (side note: what they say is true, 8 months on I’m still vacuuming those buggers up).

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I didn’t want to line the dress so I made a slip out of cream silk voile which worked really well. The sequins make the dress heavy though and you can see it’s a fair bit longer than my others in the sleeves and the actual length. I don’t mind at all though.

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I photographed the wedding, so it was important I was comfortable and could move around easily – hence the sandals too. But let’s be clear – if you ever see me wearing heels, chase me down and tackle me because I can guarantee it’s an imposter. I never put myself through that kind of torture.

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One of my husband’s lovely cousins grabbed the camera off me a few times through the day to make sure I was photographed too. It was very sweet and I’m so grateful to have these images. Note to self: phone does not belong in the pocket of this dress!

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In other news, my sister in law (to be, at that stage) asked if I’d make her a dress to wear to her reception. She pretty much had the same pre requisites as me, but wanted a sleeveless dress and something with a lot of skirt.

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She came over and we sat together in my sewing room, digging through my patterns. We settled on Simplicity 8013, which is a reissue of a 70s faux wrap dress. There is a massive 8 metres of rayon in this dress, it’s a huge fabric hog. The skirt is made up of big panels all gathered together and it’s so delightfully swishy and full. I fully lined the bodice to eliminate the facings and provide a bit more coverage because the fabric is so light.

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It was very nerve wracking sewing for someone else, especially someone with a body shape so different to mine, but it all worked out ok in the end. She looked so beautiful moving around the reception.

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PS I made the flower girl dresses too.

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And if you’ve made it this far, well done. Here’s a gratuitous selection of images from our stay. Yes, I made the boys’ shirts too. Ok, enough words.

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Phoning Home {Joan Dress}

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There really isn’t much of a reason to blog this, other than for documentation purposes because it’s such rare and amazing fabric.

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Recently my lovely friend Phoebe (Flaxen Vintage) messaged me to let me know she’d found ET sheets still in their original packaging and asked if I wanted her to grab them for me. Whoever had them obviously knew their value because they weren’t cheap, but c’mon, how could I pass up this opportunity? I answered in the affirmative in under 0.07 of a second.

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Upon further contemplation, the price wasn’t too bad when you consider:

  • they were brand new in their 1982 packaging
  • 100% cotton
  • 60″ wide and however long a single sheet is
  • two flat sheets (no fitted)

In fact, it’s probably on par or better than what I pay for designer quilting cotton. Ok, slight shoppers guilt averted.

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Jks. I didn’t feel guilty at all.

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Since my Joan pattern is my current favourite dress pattern (it’s comfortable, it fits well, it has sleeves and a neckline that I love and it’s something I’m damn proud of), I knew that’s what I wanted these rad sheets to be turned into. But I wanted to take it a bit next level, maybe mezzanine, I don’t know. So I drafted a Peter Pan collar. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would even look right with a boat neck, but it’s grown on me.

Full disclosure: I drafted matching navy sleeve cuffs too but felt they were too much so left them off. Maybe another time.

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And this is what might make this post vaguely useful to you, although there’s about a million collar drafting tutorials out there anyway. To draft the collar pieces, I taped the front and back bodice pieces at the shoulder, then taped it to much kitchen bench (to stop it moving) and traced the curve of the neckline. I made sure the front of the collar ended at the centre front and finished about 3cms before the centre back, leaving space for the zipper plus a bit extra. I just free handed the curve, but if I could find my french ruler I would have used that. Or you could maybe use a dinner plate or similar. I decided to make the back collar end at a point, just because. Then I added seam allowances (everywhere but the top) and hey presto – a collar!

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You’ll need to cut four collar pieces from your fabric and two of interfacing. Sew the collar pieces together precisely and carefully, trimming your seam allowances and clipping your curves so that every sits as nicely as it can. Use a chopstick to push out your corners so they’re nice and sharp. Then baste your collar pieces to your neckline (your centre front pieces will overlap slightly here but they need to) before sewing your facing (or lining) over the top. Flip your facing up and check that the centre front collar pieces meet, fix them if they need it. Clip and trim those new seam allowances carefully and understitch them to the facing pieces. When I first started sewing, I hated understitching and would ignore it because it seemed so pointless, but now I do it all the time – it makes such a difference! Do it. Then give everything a good press. This collar sits so nice and flat and I know it’s because I put in the extra effort to make it happen.

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I cut the front and back bodice pieces pretty carefully so I could get the most out of the large print. The front waist darts are hidden quite well in the tree trunks of the print and I managed to avoid full moon boob, so that’s a bonus. I aslo wanted a really full skirt on this one, so used the full width of the fabric front and back. That’s 120″ of fabric on my 32″ waist. For the first time ever I used three rows of gathering stitch and it was so worth it. I might even do that for all my gathered skirts from now on, it made such nice even gathers.

I feel so lucky to have scored this amazing fabric. It’s one of my favourite things ever.

 

 

 

 

Call Me Cruella {Simplicity 8292}

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Pattern: Simplicity 8292

Fabric: Cruella-inspired poly crepe (I think) scored from an op shop with a bunch of other stuff a few days ago, reeking of mothballs. Was washed and hung out on the line for 3 days to get rid of the stench.

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Look at me! Sewing from a currently available pattern! I’m jumping on the S8292 bandwagon. The pattern envelope images never would have sold me (do they ever?) but I’ve seen a few dresses pop up online and decided I needed it in my life. It was the sleeves I think, but also that raised waistline offers something a bit different to most other patterns I have. Actually I think this entire silhouette stands out from the current Big 4 pattern crowd.

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I made view B, which has the flutter sleeves and gored short skirt. SHORT skirt. Very short. Would have hit me mid-thigh without adjustments and I’m only 165cms tall. As I was tracing the pattern off I noticed how short the skirt pattern pieces looked, so I did the very sciency thing of holding them up against myself (remembering how high the waist seam sits on this dress) and decided I definitely needed to add length to feel comfortable. Which is weird, because generally Big 4 patterns are created for 6ft tall women. Or so it seems.

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In the end I added 6cms to the skirt pieces but after I’d sewn it up, it still looked too short so I decided to do a rolled hem with my overlocker to keep as much length as I could. I don’t love rolled hems as a rule, I think they look a bit unfinished, but they don’t bug me too much on fabric like this. Plus, they are so much easier than trying to press all those curved edges on something poly that I feared would melt under the iron (turns out it was fine actually). The sleeves are basically circle skirts for your arms so you bet your arse I rolled those hems too. Quick and satisfying. I may be a rolled hem convert.

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I did add side seam pockets to the skirt but it’s not quite full enough to pull them off, so I got rid of them. The skirt sits much better without them, which is a bummer.

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A few sewing bloggers have said this runs small, so I made sure I double checked the finished measurements. Generally the Big 4 patterns put me at a size 20 but I usually make a size 16. This time the 18 is absolutely spot on for me, so I would make sure you check those finished measurements. The only changes I made were to add length and I also ended up bring the side seams in about 1.5cms, but that’s pretty standard for me, my waist runs a bit smaller than the rest of me. I think the princess seams give it a bit of extra room through the bust, so I didn’t do a FBA on this one.

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All in all, a bloody decent pattern! 10/10 will make again. The pattern also includes a pretty basic dress with normal sleeves and a straight skirt. Not my usual silhouette, but if I worked in an office I’d definitely make it. It’s quite a versatile pattern.

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Look at my other Kirbee Lawler purchase, the adorable moon-butted bunny brooch ❤ I love it.