Girt By Sea {Butterick 6453}

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I’m not sure I ever shared my Girt Squad collaboration here on the blog, but if you follow me on Instagram you would have seen that it was a bunch of Australian designers and makers working together to create a cohesive collection of bits and pieces (clothing, home wares and accessories). All the rad prints were designed by Ellie Whittaker and have a distinct retro sporty vibe. I chose three prints for my pieces (and it was a tough decision!), but when I saw Eclectic Bambino’s pinnies in this blue racquet print, I fell in love and ordered some just for me.

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And I apologise for being that guy, but you can’t purchase it anywhere because it was created just for Girt Squad. You can buy some of Ellie’s other designs through Next State Print (in Australia) and Spoonflower.

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I decided to make another version of Gertie’s B6453, this time with a circle skirt instead of the gathered version.  It’s such a lovely pattern but does run big, so check out the finished measurements before you go cutting. I sized down on my first version but unfortunately it was still a bit too big so I ended up giving it to a friend. For this one, I cut my pattern down slightly but managed to make it a touch too small. Ugh. Perhaps because the first one was a cotton linen blend and had a touch of give whereas this poplin has absolutely none. Anyway, I can still get it on and zipped up but it’s a bit too firm. Hopefully I’ll be able to wear some foundation garments underneath to fix it.

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How good is it with red gingham? So good that I found this jersey at Spotlight and made a matching wrap top.

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I’ve made a couple of these wraps now, but I’m yet to photograph them properly for the blog. I cloned it from a RTW top and I’m so glad I did because they are perfect for when I want to cover my arms but it’s too hot for a cardie. Which in our climate is often. Expect one in every colour.

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I just have a wee bit more sewing to do and then we’re off to Samoa. I’ll be drinking out of a coconut very soon.

 

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That 60s Dress With The Metal Zip {Vintage McCalls 9083}

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Have I told you before that my mum is a legend? My mum is a legend. Last week I received a very excited phone call from her because she found a few things at an op shop that she knew I’d love. Two of them were these barkcloth (I think) table cloths. Both in excellent nick and around 1m x 1m. One looked like it had never been used, one slightly used. Not a huge difference in colour between them both though.

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My ma knows me well, so of course they became mine. I had planned on making a full gathered skirt with them, but decided to see if I could stretch it to a dress instead. It was time to make something a bit different. I dug through that lovely vintage stash that was given to me a while back and came up with McCalls 9083, a dress pattern from 1967.

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I did make some pretty significant changes to the pattern. First and foremost, my bust is nowhere in the vicinity of 34 inches, so some grading up had to happen. Then a 2 inch full bust adjustment on top of that. I am so glad I did too, because it fits like a glove. FBAs are magic, 10/10 do recommend. I use this tutorial to do mine. I lowered the neckline slightly too, because that sucker is high.

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I slashed and spread the skirt, eliminating the darts and making it more A line in shape. It’s a bit of a weird feeling for me because I am so used to wearing very full skirts. I feel a little bit naked, which is ridiculous.

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I decided on patch pockets because I had a feeling side seam pockets might stick out a bit on this style of skirt.

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I had planned to use an invisible zip, but it turned out I didn’t have one long enough in my stash. Then I remembered I had a pretty long thrifted metal one hiding somewhere, so I dug it out. I think the metal is way cooler and gives all that floral a little bit of an edge.

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The bodice is lined in black lawn and yeah, I probably should have used black thread but I wasn’t sure whether to match the lining or the zip. So the zip it was.

Peace, love and tablecloth dresses.

Taking The Theme and Running With It {Butterick 6483}

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This fabric. It makes me sigh. I love that whole vintage beach vibe. It’s too good. I’d seen a couple of my favourite sewing bloggers (Roisin and A Million Dresses) use it and then I spotted Sew Positivity had also scored some. I made a cheeky comment about how jealous I was and do you know what sweet, sweet Elle did? She bloody went and found some for me and had it shipped here from the UK. What a legend.

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And one night while that delicious fabric was winging its way down under, I sat down for a solo Netflix viewing of the girliest movie I could tolerate. I settled on ‘You Before Me’. It was actually quite enjoyable. I admired Lou’s (Emilia Clarke) wardrobe through the whole thing (if you’ve seen it, you’ll understand) but my heart skipped a little beat when this scene graced my screen in full colour.

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OMG, that’s my bloody fabric!

Heck yes it is. Turns out, the outfit is Ralph Lauren and was sourced from the chain store TK Maxx. You can read about that here.

It’s actually a top and a skirt.

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The universe wanted me to own this fabric, I know it.

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The day it arrived on my doorstep, it was washed, dried and in pieces within a couple of hours. No mucking around here. I had my future sister in laws hens day coming up and the theme was ‘island princess’. This fabric was perfect for it.

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I’d already toiled Butterick 6483 so there were no hold ups in getting this baby done. The biggest change was a 2 inch full bust adjustment. You might have seen my otter version of this dress, which is actually my second version. This is the first but I was waiting on my red frog closures for a really long time so I’ve only just got around to photographing it. Big props to Tea Dust and Stitches who scored me the frogs, I am still waiting on a pair from China some 6 weeks later. This dress has taken a village.

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So. The whole thing sewed up like a dream. No issues whatsoever. The linen is superb to sew with and is lovely to wear. I popped a pocket in the right side seam and there is a zip in the left.

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A mandatory requirement of the hens party was a flower crown. I searched the shops up here but we really don’t have that much variety. Plus I was really keen on having some native flowers in mine. Preferably yellow or red to match my dress. I hit Spotlight and found this wattle. It was perfect. I grabbed some ivy to fill it out and also wire from the millinery section. I measured out some wire against my head and went to work, winding everything around it. Then I secured some parts down with green thread so it sat a bit flatter. A hack job because I had no idea what I was doing, but it ended up working quite well.

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You should have seen us in all our flower crowned glory last night, downing espresso martinis and generally just being fabulous. It was a sight to behold.

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Stay Puft {Old numberless dress pattern from vintage Ghostbusters sheet}

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‘The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (also known as Mr. Stay Puft or nicknamed ‘Tubby Soft-Squeeze’ by Ray and Peter) was the final enemy of the Ghostbusters in the first film. He was the chosen Destructor Form of Gozer…’

I had to Google it. I couldn’t remember if he had a legit name.

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Ebay. She’s been good to me over the years. I’ve never really had a bad experience, but this one was borderline. Being a fitted sheet that is nearly as old as me, I expected some wear and tear. I’m a realist. The listing described the condition as ‘has some wash wear’. Mate, it’s threadbare. It was like sewing with tissue paper. Also ‘one small stain’ roughly translated to ‘has multiple brown stains that I really don’t want to think about too hard’. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed when this arrived in the post from the US. But onward, right? I soaked the sucker in Napisan for two hours and now there’s not a mark to be seen. There’s very little that can’t be fixed by a good soak, including my mindset.

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The wear however, can’t be fixed with a soak. It was obvious it would have to be fully lined, so I just used white cotton lawn. I’m used to lining bodices and do it all the time, but I very rarely line skirts. Which took a bit longer than usual because I had to use my brain to consider how I would add the pockets and finish the hem (the lawn is only 108cm wide compared to whatever the width of a single sheet is. Wide). I really should have lined the sleeves too, one is way more faded than the other due to the tetrising I had to do to get Mr Stay Puft on both sleeves.

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Still, it came out ok. I reallllllly wanted to use the Emery pattern for this, but alas those darted bodice pieces wouldn’t fit on the sheet I had left after cutting the skirt. I could have sacrificed some of the skirt to make them fit, but because the print is so large I was a bit pedantic about the way it was cut. And I wanted that skirt super full. Which is helped out by the lining too.

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In the end I decided on my old faithful tea dress bodice. The princess seams mean you can move the pieces around to get the absolute most out of your fabric. It’s a very old pattern that I inherited from my nanny and has been much altered over the years. It’s the pattern that launched my business and I still sell dresses from it in the shop today. I did have to shorten the bodice slightly and lower the back to get the pieces to fit, but it’s all worked out in the end.

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I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

 

 

 

An Otter Success {Butterick 6483}

Sorry, that was terrible.

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When I was about five years old, I had a pair of PJs with a mandarin collar and frog closures (they are the scrolly buttons) and I adored them. So when I saw Butterick 6483 for the first time, it took me right back to those PJs that I hadn’t thought about for 30 years. That just made me feel really old.

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Obviously I had to have the pattern. Rather than wait for it to arrive in stores here, which takes a bloody long time, I ordered it directly from the US site when they were having one of their $2.50 sales. Hot tip: shipping will most likely cost you more than a few patterns so make it worthwhile.

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Like most of the Big 4 patterns, fitting straight out of the envelope doesn’t really happen. And seeing how nice the fit is on Gertie made me want to go the extra mile. So I grew up and made not one, but two toiles (just of the bodice, I’m not that dedicated). My measurements put me in the 16 so I made the 14 for my first attempt, which was too big at the waist and way too small at the bust. Eeeep. The thought of a full bust adjustment on this bodice almost made me give up on the whole idea, but I persisted and made a 12 with a 2 inch FBA. And what do you know? I got a pretty great fit.

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I could take those waist darts in a bit further, but she’s not bad!

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Now I really need to FBA every pattern that comes my way. Totally worth it.

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As far as construction goes, it’s not as complex as you’d think. The instructions aren’t too bad, which is great because there’s no sewalong for this one. Actually, there’s very little about it on the internet in general, which I thought was strange. Sewing blogs and google are my go to before I start a pattern, just for general feedback and any common problems. The only real problem I had was that I found the collar too big for the bodice. Not once but twice. Because (spoiler) I’ve actually already made another version of this dress but I’m still waiting on my frogs to arrive so it’s yet to see the light of day. But yes, same problem twice. I’ll have to go back and double check that I’ve traced out the pieces in the right sizes.

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Other changes were adding a pocket to the right side seam (because I need at least one) and changing the lapped zipper to a standard one. The pattern also states a hook and eye is required in the notions but then never mentions it again. I’m wondering if it’s supposed to be used to give the frogs extra help where it crosses over? I’m going to add one there because I do get a bit of movement at that point if I raise my arms.

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Should we talk about my major crush on this Tula Pink print? Lets. I loved it from the minute I saw it start making the rounds on social media a few months ago. OTTERS. MOONS. PRETTY THINGS IN DARK COLOURS. I waited not so patiently for it to be stocked online and finally scored myself some from Hawthorne Threads last week. YASSSSS. It’s as beautiful in person as it looks online. Makes me happy.

My other version of this dress is pretty tops also, so I will share it if my frogs ever arrive. C’mon, ebay. Give mama her frogs.

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Sorry Lindy Bop {Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress}

You know when there’s a sale and something catches your eye, but dammit, it’s out of stock in your size? It’s really not that often that I buy RTW anymore anyway, but every now and then I’ll see a dress in a cool print and think ‘WHHHHHYYYYY can’t I buy that fabric?!’.

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WELL.

Last week one of the lovely ladies in a FB sewing group (hi Sammy!) posted that she’d accidentally ordered two of the same dress, so rather than sending one back, she cut it down and made two of the cutest little girls dresses I’ve ever seen. That print, man. Too good. So I completely copied her (yes, there’s been a bit of that going on lately – stop being so inspiring people!) and ordered the biggest size left on the Lindy Bop website.

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It wasn’t long before it was resting in pieces. Feels so wrong to completely unpick a brand new dress the minute it arrives on your doorstep. Sorry Lindy.

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I’d decided on the Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress (which can be found in her Love At First Stitch book) because I knew I wouldn’t have a huge amount of fabric to play with. As it turns out, I didn’t use the bodice pieces of the dress at all because they weren’t big enough, just the skirt. And I only just squeezed it out. I did keep the original zip, hook and eye and rings and sliders for potential future projects.

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I tried really hard to avoid placing that sun in the vicinity of my boob, but working with limited fabric meant that she did have to go on the front bodice. I don’t think the placement screams nipple once it’s on though.

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Put in a metal zip because they’re stronger for this style of dress and cool as heck.

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If you’ll excuse my awkward pose and just check out that kinda sorta best matching I could do on the side seam there (and ignore the fact I missed it on the centre back seam). Fit wise it’s actually a bit small because I made a mistake. Gah. The fabric is sateen which means it has that lovely little bit of stretch, so I sized down as I wanted it quite fitted. As it turns out, I didn’t use my brain to consider that this print is a border print, isn’t it? So the stretch is running the wrong way – up and down instead of around. NO. So it’s a wee bit tighter than it should be. Ok for standing, potential wardrobe malfunction if I have to sit. Standing events only please.

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I have no shame in destroying RTW and will absolutely do this again.

Blatant Plagiarism {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

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It’s another Sew House Seven Tea House Dress! The one that I had planned all along, but first I made a top version and a dress version in less fancy fabric. And even though I didn’t love that first one, I wear the second one at least once a week. I know this new version is going to be on high rotation too.

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Oh does it look familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen it on SH7’s Instagram? Yeah. It was that exact dress that made me buy the pattern. This is a shameless and blatant copy of the lovely Sarah Watts’ dress. Sorry Sarah. Can you blame me though? LOOK AT IT.

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If you’ve never felt Cotton and Steel’s rayon before, let me try to describe it to you. It’s soft like kitten ears, drapes like an angel’s…outfit but still has a decent amount of body so you don’t cry when you get around to the sewing part. It’s the greatest. You should totally get some. Mine is from here.

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You know what I love about this pattern? It is so bloody beautifully drafted. It’s amazing. There’s quite a lot of pieces, which can be overwhelming, but the instructions are so delightfully clear and helpful that it all goes together like a dream. Everything lines up and fits together like a lovely puzzle. The second greatest thing is that there are no buttons or zip – it goes over your head and then you cinch it in at the waist with the ties.

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If you’ve read my previous posts about making this dress, you’ll know that the front yoke facing is the most tricky part. This time I went slowly, pressed the hell out of everything and decided to hand sew the facing in instead. The result is a much nicer finish and far less swearing than trying to do it on the machine. My hand sewing would make Frankenstein weep, but I still prefer it anyway.

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Cute little box pleat and waist ties from the back.

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This dress is going to be my summer uniform. There will be more. Oh yes. There will be more.

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That 50s Dress With The Collar {Vintage Anne Adams 2056)

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Another irresistible choice from my rather large box (es) of gifted patterns. Oh how I love these old mail order patterns. Ordered from the newspaper and posted out to you in your size. I have 5 or 6 of these, all with a handwritten address on the front.

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This one was a relatively quick sew, all over in a couple of hours. Like all old patterns, this one assumes you know how to sew so the instructions are vague at best. But it’s not a big deal, it’s quite an easy pattern (no collar stand!) and I changed the skirt to a basic gathered one which makes it even easier. I know from past experience that those narrower skirts aren’t my jam.

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I added interfacing to the collar and facing pieces because that’s just what you do. The instructions didn’t mention it, but I’m not sure if that’s because sewists back then just knew too or it wasn’t a thing. When was interfacing even invented? Before that I’m sure collars etc had something in them (different fabric, maybe?).

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Fabric is Birch Organic Maritime which was purchased locally from East Coast Fabrics.  This is it here if you’re keen for an online source. Funny it’s listed as very light weight because I feel like it’s a bit heavier than other quilting cottons I’ve used.

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Was it a success? Well, not really. There are multiple fit issues and some weird drag lines. Part of it I was blaming on the fabric, but I have used quilting cottons for shirt dresses without a problem in the past, so I don’t know for sure.  The most obvious problem in the bust darts are suuuuper high. Also the bodice is a bit short so it’s sitting higher on my waist than usual. That’s a very strange problem for me as I’m quite short, so I generally have to shorten my bodices. The bodice has tucks too and I think maybe I’m just not used to the shape of them, I prefer darts. I do like the shape of that neckline and collar though. Plus mega angled pockets.

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It feels simultaneously too big and too small in different places. So weird.  All in all, not the greatest but I’ve definitely made worse. I generally wear belts with most of my dresses, so that helps. I found a narrower one this morning which works better than the wide one in the images. If I don’t end up wearing it, I’ll save the skirt and add a waistband. If nothing else, Sid enjoyed his walk and the photos look pretty.

High five, buddy.

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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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