All Aboard The Linen Bandwagon {Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress}

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You’ve seen it around, haven’t you? Linen dresses, linen pants, awesome linen overalls (jumpers for my US friends, I think?) – usually worn by women with long, tangled, sun bleached hair dreamily looking off into the distance. Maybe on a beach, maybe wearing a big hat.

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I decided I might like a piece of that. Not that I look like the models, but since when has that stopped me? I ordered my olive linen from The Remnant Warehouse (it’s nice quality too, not too thin or stiff) recently and knew I’d pair it with the most simple of Sudley dresses. I scooped the neckline slightly and made it the same front and back. I used the 3/4 sleeves and have rolled them up and put a stitch in them so they stay put. The neckline is finished with bias facing and yes it has pockets, of course. The pattern itself has about eleventy billion combinations of sleeve length, waist length, neckline shape and skirt length variations.

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Oh yes. I was going to pare it right back. Simple as heck. That’s me, isn’t it? Just super minimalist. I can hear you laughing. No surprise that I’m not really digging this on me. I think it’s a grower. I love the dress pattern and have made it many times (please don’t mention the F word, every time someone says something about a garment being ‘flattering’, my internal feminist ranting starts up – why the hell I need to make my body look better for everyone elses viewing?). Rant aside, I think it’s the block colour and the actual colour. It’s very different for me.

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Will I wear it though? YES. It will be so nice to hang out in during summer and I might even add some tights and boots for winter. That might make it less high school art teacher chic for me (sorry art teachers, I know you’re out there and I love you).

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My kids were trying to photo bomb me by this stage, hence the crinkly nose laughing. Never a dull moment.

 

“I’m not a solution to your problems. I’m another problem.” {Self Drafted Joan Dress}

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Today, my brain had had enough. Or not enough, depending on how you look at it. I’ve been madly cutting and sewing dresses for the shop, giving myself a *cough* motivating tight deadline so I can get this release done and have a break over Easter. But today I put myself a day behind. Today I decided to pick up a totally different project – one that had been giving me trouble for months. Today was the day to figure it all out and give myself a break from the monotony of cutting and sewing the same dress 24 times.

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Meet the Joan Dress. Named after my Nanny (Dad’s mum), not the Madmen character (but she was also very rad, so she gets a quote in the title of this post). I was determined to add the perfect new dress to my store. I was convinced the would have a simple, darted bodice and a gathered skirt with pockets. Sounds easy, right?

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I think the trouble was that I was thought I needed a dress with a lower neckline available in my shop. I do favour higher necklines and I know that’s not everyone’s jam. But after many attempts at tracing out the perfect bodice, sewing up muslins and then even a couple of entire dresses, I wasn’t happy. My heart wasn’t in it and the whole idea was shelved.

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Until this beautiful Cotton and Steel fabric was delivered a few days ago. I received it for winning their #cottonandsteelcloset comp on Instagram last month and it’s so lovely. I knew what it had to be – a classic boat necked tea dress with half sleeves. There was no doubt about it. While I love a bit of colour these days, I wore a lot of black for a long time and this feels like home to me. The little gold moons and stars are superb.

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Which prompted me to dig potential Joan out of the naughty corner and start afresh. A boat neck it had to be. But a pattern drafter I ain’t. I ended up using a mash of 4 different vintage patterns to get this one right. Different armsyce, dart placements and necklines all helped me find that elusive look I was after. So simple, yet so hard to create all on my own.

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It’s done though. A few more little tweaks and then I can grade the sizes. Still lots to do, but the hardest part is done. And I have a pretty new dress too.

 

Wiggle It, Just A Little Bit {Patterns For Pirates Wiggle Dress}

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Ah the Wiggle dress. You might not be part of many sewing groups online, but I am. And for a while, you couldn’t innocently scroll through your feed without someone extolling the virtues of the Wiggle Dress pattern. It got recommended any time anyone asked a question.

‘I need a dress pattern for date night!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a dress pattern for a ball!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a relaxed casual dress for a BBQ!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a pattern for my husband’s work shirts!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a cure for bed wetting!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

You get the idea. It’s basically the sewing pattern equivalent of coconut oil. It got a bit weird and culty.

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For me, it was my introduction to Patterns For Pirates. I saw one of the pattern testers post the dress somewhere (see? online sewing groups aplenty) and impulse bought it. Not really considering the fact that I’ve never worn anything so fitted ever – let alone sewn something like it. But it looked so cool, you know?

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Still, I wasn’t really sure it was for me and in a weird way, the crazed fans sort of put me off it a bit. So it got shoved to the back of the pattern stash for a while.

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Recently I bought 3m of this cotton lycra from Spotlight with the intention of making a Kielo dress, but my toile ended up being a disaster and to be honest, I don’t even want to look at the Kielo again for a while. I was digging through my patterns and wondering what I could do with the fabric when I found the Wiggle dress again. Enough time had passed that I decided to give it a go.

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It has a variety of length, sleeve and neckline options but I kept it simple with below knee length, half sleeves and the boat neck with scooped back. It’s so straight forward that I didn’t bother with the instructions and added a neckband because it’s my favourite way of finishing knit tops. My only pattern adjustment was to shorten the front and back pieces above the waist point, which is a pretty standard adjustment for my short waisted self.

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I like it more than I thought I would, although I do feel quite out of my comfort zone wearing something so fitted all over. Cute fabric though and I’m pretty damn pleased with my stripe matching effort.

 

That 80s Dress With The Ruffles {Vintage Simplicity 5884}

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If you follow me on Insta, you would have noticed that I’ve been getting into a bit of pants (sorry UK friends – trouser) sewing lately. I bought the Jedediah Pants pattern by Thread Theory and figured I’d start with sewing pants for my husband since he’s a bit less curvy than me. He’s actually the complete opposite of me – tall, angular and mostly straight lines. I made one muslin, a couple of changes and bam – now he has three pairs of pants (which I’ll blog when I can photograph them all on his person). Did I get cocky? Yes. I moved onto Closet Case Patterns Morgan Jeans for me. Oh man, what a steep and painful learning curve. Long story short – even after two muslins I can’t get any semblance of fit.

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So what’s a girl to do to come back from such a knock to the ego? She bloody digs through her gifted vintage pattern stash and finds something to reassure herself that she can actually sew. An elastic waist almost guarantees that baby will fit.

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I’ll admit I did hesitate. I mean, look at it in all its 1983 glory. It could be amazing or really, really bad. There is no middle ground with a pattern like this.

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Did I sew that sucker anyway? Of course! I do love me a frill and they are bang on trend right now. Not that I’m a huge follower of trends, but frills man – so fun.

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I sewed this one out of a super light and floaty Lizzy House double gauze (I bought mine locally and I’m not sure it’s even available anymore). If you’ve never used double gauze before, let me try and describe it for you. It’s a bit like a Labrador puppy (stay with me) – soft as hell, cute as a button but does like to roll over on itself and misbehave in a ridiculous manner. Plus it sheds like crazy. It needs a firm but gentle hand or it will end you (or itself when it throws itself under the overlocker blade – fabric, not puppy – the puppy analogy ended).

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I think after the ruffles and the forgiving waist, the coolest part of this pattern is the rad way the back is finished. On modern patterns with the keyhole back, I’ve only ever seen them finished by slashing the back and wrestling with a very narrow seam allowance to stitch down either side. This way is so much neater and easier! You sew the facing around the neckline and then stitch down the back to a point (through the back and facing) and back up. Then you slash between your two stitching lines to get the back opening. It’s super cool (and I might have been living under a rock but I’ve never seen it before). I do find I learn new techniques from vintage patterns.

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To be honest though, I really wasn’t sure how this would turn out until the very end. I’d decided to attempt sleeves because I really do prefer them, but I knew those puffy delights on the pattern weren’t for me. I decided to make them but leave off the gathering into the cuff on the bottom – I figured they’d be more like flutter sleeves that way. ALMOST RIGHT KATIE. But I forgot one thing – the metric shit tonne of ease in the sleeve caps. OMG. It was like gathering another skirt. Those babies stood out all on their own with structure never seen before in double gauze, no doubt. Those sleeves were turfed into the bin, I dug out the sleeve pattern pieces and traced it again, this time taking a couple of wedges out of the cap. Not technically correct I’m sure, but it worked very well.

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Feeling pretty damn pleased at my problem solving skills, I tried the dress on before hemming. Oh wow, I nearly cried – frump city. The skirt hit me between the shin and ankle and was very very ‘sister wife’ looking. I had nothing to lose, so I cut 15cms off the bottom, hemmed it and tried it on with a belt. YASSSSSS. It was just as I’d hoped. It’s truly amazing what a hem and a belt can achieve.

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I was so damn pleased with my frilly 80s secret pjs, that I went up to my sewing room and grabbed this beautiful nautical print from The Material Girl that I’ve been saving for something special.

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Isn’t it amazing? Bearded sailor, pretzel rope – what’s not to love? I only had 2m so had to forgo my precious sleeves. If it comes to it, I can wear a cardi or a fitted t shirt underneath.

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I sized down for this one as the gauze one is slightly blouse-y and because I was using a quilting weight (although incredibly soft for qc) cotton this time, I thought it would be better a bit smaller. Also that clever back facing wants to flip on this version, so I’ve stitched it down.

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I love this dress so much that you might just see its friends appear in the shop eventually…

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Merry Christmas {Vintage Simplicity 9008 in Outback Wife fabric}

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If you sew, you probably know about Outback Wife, the range of barkcloth designed by Cathi of Gertrude Made. If you don’t, I’ve blogged about it before here. Want some? I scored mine from Voodoo Rabbit in Brisbane, but be warned, it sells out damn fast.

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This particular range of barkcloth is 100% cotton, made in Japan and feels amazing. How special is this red colourway? It’s the perfect Christmas palette really, without screaming Christmas – because you can bet I’ll be wearing this baby all year round. I’ve loved this one since I first spied it on Instagram months ago. I didn’t have it pegged for a Christmas dress, but I just happened to see that Voodoo Rabbit added it to their shop a few nights ago and petrified that it would sell out, I made sure I bought some. As it turned out, it arrived super quickly and I couldn’t wait to turn it into a dress.

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I decided on the Gunne Sax dress that I’ve made three times recently. I know. But it is quite an easy sew and fits well. There was no way I was risking a new pattern on this fabric. This time though, I swapped the huge paneled skirt for a more simple circle skirt – it uses less fabric and I also didn’t want to cut through the print. I know that’s weird, especially for me and especially with a floral (I’m generally not into them), but look how pretttttttty it is.

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I used a vintage zipper from my stash and popped some pearl buttons on the front. They are dual purpose and help keep the front facing in place. This time it wanted to keep flipping up, which might just be the nature of the fabric. Ooh and I swapped the tie straps for slightly wider regular straps. I interfaced them this time too because the barkcloth seems to stretch out a little bit.

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I’ll be wearing this beauty tomorrow when I hang out with my family on the river, as is our tradition. We’ll arrive at about 7am, have bacon and eggs on one of the BBQs down there, swim, drink cold brew coffee, laugh, eat some more and then head home for a bit of a nap by about 11am. Then in the afternoon we’ll head to my parents place for a late lunch/early dinner that will consist of seafood, ham and salad. I’ve made Malteser cheesecake for dessert. It’s far too hot here to eat a traditional Christmas dinner. How do you do Christmas in your part of the world?

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Thank you for your comments, love and support, beautiful people. Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. See you again soon.

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That 70s Dress With The Shoulder Ties {Style 2667}

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The other day I ran an Instagram poll to decide which dress I should sew next.

Style 2079

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or Style 2667.

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How good are Style patterns? I’ve made a few now, love them. They seem to have gone the way of the dodo, which is a shame.

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Anyway, Style 2667 was the winner of the instagram poll. But I ignored that and cut out both anyway. I made 2079 first and then whipped up 2667 yesterday. It was a super fast sew. Just front and back bodices pieces, front and back facing pieces and the skirt pieces. I ended up using plain circle skirt pieces though because the ones included in the pattern have gathers too and I really didn’t have enough fabric for all that frou frou.

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It didn’t fit as well straight out of the envelope as 2079, but I will forgive it. The bust darts are suuuuuuper long (you can see that in the pattern illustration) but the bodice was also too long for me. Which meant tying the straps up higher on my shoulders – in turn raising those bust darts way up over my boobs. So I managed to drop them about 1.5 inches (the darts, not the boobs). That will do for now, although it’s giving me some weird armscye issues. Nevermind, fixable for next time.

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And still wearable. I think as time goes on, I just get more and more fussy about fit issues that wouldn’t have even blipped on my radar in the past.  A while ago I was picking apart fit problems on something I’d made and someone commented to me that it’s something we’d accept in RTW and she was right. We are far harder on our own sews than something we’d pick up in a shop.

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So I’m happy. Pretty dresses and full skirts make me feel good. French bulldog printed fabric also pleases me. This one is designed by Christopher Thompson for Riley Blake and I bought it here. The facings and pockets are just plain pink lawn.

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Ed snagged a shirt out of it too (it’s a Tadah Troop Shirt). He calls it his Sid Shirt.

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Sid doesn’t really approve, but then he doesn’t approve of much these days.

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That 90s Dress That’s Not Really A Dress {Style 2079}

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The year was 1991.

Katie was 10 years old.

Terminator 2 and Silence of the Lambs came out (I didn’t see them until years later, obviously).

Style 2079 was also released.

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Fast forward to 1996. Katie was now 15. Oh yes, things were getting serious. The movie The Craft was released. Angsty Katie loved it so much she bought the soundtrack. Cue Morrissey banging on about how soon is now.

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Make the leap to 2017. Emo Katie is now 36 years old with a husband, two kids and a dog and lives in the burbs. And yet, when Dear Stella released this print she jumped on it as quickly as humanly possible. Because emo Katie still loves The Craft and all things 90s. Who doesn’t, come on.

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Ok, I’ve finished referring to myself in the third person now. How good is this print though? Love it so hard.

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This one is a risk though, let’s be honest. It had the potential to be very, very bad. The print saves it though, I think. It brings a pretty modern twist to a 90s shape. Plus, I have seen this style kicking around a bit in RTW these days. It’s trying to come back, along with those high waisted jeans that the gang from Friends wore.

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In case it’s not apparent from the pics, I made the culottes version of the pattern. Which means I have to strip to pee. Worth it. I can’t believe how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Will I make it again? Maybe. I’ll probably give the dress version a go.

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‘You see I’ve already waited too long and all my hope is gone…’

Is it in your head now? I hope so, it’s in mine.

 

Another Gunne Sax {Simplicity 9008}

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As soon as I finished the first version, I cut out another from this rad rainbow border print. I managed to use up most of the 6 yards I had. Such a fabric hungry dress. I couldn’t help it though, that silhouette is pretty amazing.

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I tried my best to line up the panels, but they aren’t perfect. Luckily the skirt is so full that it isn’t super noticeable.

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I won’t blather on about this one since I literally just made another one the same.

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The only changes this time were omitting the sash and adding horsehair braid into the hem. Which is a really easy way to finish never ending circle skirt hems. Apparently I can’t stitch straight though.

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It’s been a bit of a day. My little old Bernette wasn’t sewing well yesterday and because she’s never skipped a beat, I assumed it was the end. Turns out I was right and my sewing machine repair guy confirmed that for me today.

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So this dress was sewn mostly on my vintage Janome, which goes really well to be honest. She isn’t a fan of knits though. Now I have the fun job of trying to decide what will replace my faithful little Bernette. She was only a cheapy but she will be missed.

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There ain’t nothing like a rainbow dress to cheer you up though right? The boys told me this was their new favourite and I should definitely wear it on Christmas day. I think I will, kiddos.

 

 

 

That 70s Dress That’s A Gunne Freaking Sax {Vintage Simplicity 9008}

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If you’re all like ‘WTF is a Gunne Sax, ya big weirdo?!’ it’s totally fine. Here’s a bit of info –  basically it’s a clothing  label that was successful in the 1970s and known for its prairie, Victorian and Edwardian styled designs. Gunne Sax only came to my attention recently when I watched the Netflix series ‘Girlboss’, which is based on Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography and tells the story of how she started selling vintage clothing on ebay.

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Obviously though, by the time 1979 had rolled around (the year Simplicity 9008 was published), there was less lace and high collars and more of the above. Apparently the designer had moved towards creating dresses with prom dress features. Still, I was kind of taken by this baby when I found her in my vintage stash yesterday. It was originally given to me in about 6 boxes of vintage patterns which is why my memory of it is a touch hazy.

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So I was digging through my vintage pattern stash, wanting to make something different and found this one right at the bottom. That 50s shape spoke to me – the full skirt and that collar are beautiful. I very rarely wear dresses without sleeves, but I’m making an exception for this one. Plus I thought it might be cute with a little tshirt underneath or I can always wear a little wrap top over it.

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Deciding on fabric was hard. I wanted something I wasn’t hugely attached to as this would basically be a muslin – one I hoped would be wearable, but considering the grading up I had to do, I was unsure. I hate wasting fabric but I also hate spending hours sewing without being able to wear the finished product. Another thing – it’s bloody massive. I had 4m of the bear cotton/linen and I only just managed to tetris the dress out of it (I did use plain black lawn for the facings). Being directional obviously added to the challenge. The fabric was originally intended for dresses to sell, but after I washed it the black faded really unevenly and I didn’t really want to pass that on to paying customers. So in the end it was perfect for my sorta muslin.

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See that skirt? There’s eleven panels in that sucker. Thirty pattern pieces in total. Thirty-four if you count the pockets. I think it’s fuller than a normal circle skirt, my petticoat barely makes a difference.

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I didn’t change a whole lot beyond grading it up. I just followed the pattern pieces of a princess seamed dress that fits me well and it worked pretty successfully. Once I’d redrawn the bodice pieces, I lined them up to see how much I had to add to the skirt pieces (not much surprisingly, although the 3cms added to the bodice is spread pretty thinly over all those skirt panels).

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Redrawing the bodice pieces meant also redrawing the collar and facing pieces and I ended up slightly off with my collar pieces unfortunately. They just don’t quite reach in the centre. Not a big deal though and I’ll correct that for next time.

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Next time? Oh yeah. It’s taking all I have not to make another one of these ASAP.

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Like A Tiger {Colette Hawthorn Dress}

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I still have some holiday sewing to blog, but that will happen later when I’ve processed the eleventy billion images I have of our trip. For now, here’s a quick post about the Hawthorn I sewed up yesterday.

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I won’t go into a heap of detail because it’s an older pattern that has been made many, many times by sewing bloggers all over the world.

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It all started in the usual way for me – see cool fabric (in this case, voile from Spotlight), buy 2m with no idea what I’m going to make with it, remember pattern in stash I haven’t used for a while, tetris it all together because I should have bought more fabric and sew that baby up.

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The voile is perfect for our summer. Light as a feather and 100% cotton. It’s probably on the verge of needing a lining but that sort of defeats the light as a feather thing. I’d forgotten how much I love this pattern. What happened Colette? You used to be so cool. Please go back to your roots.

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Often with shirt dresses I will cheat a bit and add a zip to the side seam. Why? So I can stitch the button placket shut and avoid potential button malfunctions. This way I’m not forever looking down to check that  I’m all buttoned up throughout the day, especially when I’m moving around heaps while working. I also find that even if I add a hook and eye to the button at the waist seam, I still get a bit of pulling at that point. And yes, this is on dresses that fit well. Maybe it’s my body type. I don’t stitch the whole way down though – I generally start at the button at the bust and sew down to mid thigh. That way there’s still that nice movement at the bottom of the dress. Purely personal preference.

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I used cute little coconut buttons I picked up from an op shop (a whole bag of them, there’d be 100s of them in there). I think they match really well. And hot tip for the facings on this one – stitch them down in the ditch at the shoulder seams. I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but they always want to flip up on me, no matter how much understitching I do.

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Here’s a romantically out of focus shot of how well the bust fits on this pattern with no FBA. I’m not sure what sort of magic that is, but I like it.

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Hello new summer staple!