Mmmm…mustard. {Emery Dress x Outback Wife Barkcloth}

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I love mustard. Both the condiment and the colour. I also love barkcloth – I have some legit vintage stuff here that I’m a bit scared to cut into, which is very unlike me. Usually I’m all ‘Fabric is for cutting, you guys!’. But you know, this one is special and super old and it was still on the bolt.

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I know you’re asking ‘what the heck is barkcloth?’, so to save you a Google I’ll steal from Wiki:

Barkcloth is a versatile material that was once common in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and the Pacific. Barkcloth comes primarily from trees of the Moraceae family, including Broussonetia papyrifera, Artocarpus altilis, and Ficus natalensis. It is made by beating sodden strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees into sheets, which are then finished into a variety of items. Many texts that mention “paper” clothing are actually referring to barkcloth. Barkcloth has been manufactured in Uganda for centuries[1] and is Uganda’s sole representative on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[2]

Today, what is commonly called barkcloth is a soft, thick, slightly textured fabric, so named because it has a rough surface like that of tree bark. This barkcloth is usually made of densely woven cotton fibers. Historically, the fabric has been used in home furnishings, such as curtains, drapery, upholstery, and slipcovers. It is often associated with 1940s through 1960s home fashions, particularly in tropical, abstract, “atomic” and “boomerang” prints, the last two themes being expressed by images of atoms with electrons whirling, and by the boomerang shape which was very popular in mid-century cocktail tables and fabrics. Waverly, a famed design house for textiles and wall coverings between 1923 and 2007, called their version of this fabric rhino cloth, possibly for the rough, nubbly surface.[3] American barkcloth shot through with gold Lurex threads was called Las Vegas cloth, and contained as much as 65% rayon as well, making it a softer, more flowing fabric than the stiffer all-cotton rhino cloth or standard barkcloth.[4]

From here.

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The barkcloth I used is from fellow Aussie, Gertrude Made. What’s really special about the Outback Wife range is that the fabrics are named after rural women and each one has a story. I like that. The fabric itself is delicious and feels luxurious. It is on the more expensive side (if you’re used to buying quilting cotton), but keep in mind that it’s 150cm wide. I ordered 2.5m and got this dress out of it (and circle skirts are fabric hungry!) plus a little bit leftover.

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Pattern: Christine Haynes Emery Dress

Fabric: Outback Wife Elaine from Layered Creations

Petti: Hell Bunny

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I was late to jump on the Outback Wife bandwagon, even though I’d admired it since its release – but I just wasn’t sure about the floral print. I’m generally not huge on them, but I do make exceptions. In my uncertainty though, I missed my chance to grab the green colourway. It all sold out very quickly. Apparently there’s a new release coming soon though. If you like it, I’d advise you to jump on it. In the end, it was mustard for me. Which is cool, because I dig it.

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So, my dress. The bodice is a straight up Emery, perhaps my favourite pattern in the whole world. Since my shape has changed a bit lately, I had to cut a new version of the bodice. It’s a 10, graded out to a 12 at the bust. I should have done a FBA, but I’m lazy and honestly the fit of this is pretty damn great. I’m happy with it. The circle skirt is from another pattern. I just lined the pattern pieces up to make sure they’d fit together properly. It was all very simple.

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There is very little else to add about the Emery! I’ve made at least 10 of the suckers and there’s a reason for that – they fit well, I love the shape and they go together really easily. Now what else is a grown woman supposed to do with a circle skirt?

SPIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNN.

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Introducing Jan {and yet another Emery Dress}

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You guys, meet Jan. Original name for a Janome, I’m sure. But I thought it suited the slightly older addition to the sewing machine team. Plus, I can yell ‘Not happy, Jan!’ when she annoys me. And if you were born after 1995 or aren’t Australian, let me treat you with this old gem:

Ha. Yellow pages. Jan would totally be off the hook these days.

The saying made it into Urban Dictionary along with just about every Australian household ever.

Moving on. I’d been after a vintage machine for a while, something a bit heavier duty that will be able to deal with heavier stuff my Bernina hates – purses, bags, coats etc. I haven’t pushed her to the limit yet, but I have made two whole dresses on her so far and she hasn’t skipped a beat. I spotted her in a local op shop reduced in price and then reduced again, the very same day I found out I’d be without my Bernina for four weeks as there was a bit of a line up at the spa (service centre). I think some lovely little old lady has really looked after Jan very bloody well because she sews beautifully.

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Since I’ve finished up my KMAD sewing for the year, it’s time to sew for meeeeee! And also Christmas presents for other people. But also for meeeee!

Before I started sewing for myself, my wardrobe consisted of mostly black. I still lean towards the dark side, but prints are so much more fun now. So when I spotted this Birch fabric online, I knew I had to have it. Gorgeous print, but in the lovely dark hues so lacking in my wardrobe these days.

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Fabric: Birch Organic

Pattern: Christine Haynes Emery Dress

I’ve made this dress at least ten times before, but this is the first time I’ve made the collared version. I also added piping using the Janome’s weird zipper foot. Adding it to the waistband was a pain with the gathers and as it turns out, I didn’t think carefully enough about my seam allowance and the piping and now the bodice is slightly too long. I might unpick it, but that means taking the zip out too and can I be bothered? I don’t know. I’ll wear it for a day first and decide how much it annoys me.

I also didn’t line this version because I didn’t have quite enough of the green spotty cotton. Look how beautifully it matches those little Lochness Monsters though!

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So I just used some satin bias binding I had laying around to finish off the neckline. Kind of fiddly around the curves, but turned out ok.

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Oh this print though! Look at it. Sea creatures and nautical stuff makes me so happy. Often these sorts of prints are a bit too kiddy, but not this one! Grown up as heck. Well, as grown up as sea monsters can be.

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My favourite things.

I thought a nice, sensible way to start my blog would be to list some of my favourite patterns and designers as I’ve trialed many over the years. Let’s just say I can be picky. I have very three very specific prerequisites and I rarely stray from them. I like my upper arms covered, I like my thighs covered and I like pockets. The latter being the most important, obviously. I must stop right here and add the disclaimer that I don’t believe in ‘fashion rules’, I loathe the word ‘flattering’ and I will fight to the death against anyone that tries to convince anyone else that they need to cover up certain parts of themselves. Basically, you wear whatever the hell you want and no one can tell you otherwise. So while I have no issues with whatever anyone else decides to cover or uncover, I am more comfy with sleeves and knee length skirts. With that said, here are my favourite patterns.

  1. Emery Dress by Christine Haynes.I have made so many of these. So many. Sometimes I make them with a fuller gathered skirt, sometimes with a circle skirt, sometimes with the slightly gathered A line version straight from the pattern. You can see below I’ve also made a more scooped neck, maxi version and also a bit of a heart cut out back version. It’s a dress that goes together in the most lovely, simple way and it is suitable for those of us with a curvier shape. Boobs and hips, if you will.

2. Sudley Blouse by Megan Nielsen.

Oh Sudley, how I love thee. A relative new comer to my stash, she became a firm favourite right away. And to be honest, I bought Sudley for the blouse version – but on a whim decided to go with the dress first. I’m yet to make the blouse *cough*. This is my ideal beach dress – no zip, no buttons – just a straight over the head, easy peasey, comfortable as heck dress. A nice change to the structured ones I usually wear. Perfect for a slightly dusty feeling Sunday too. Did I mention it’s reversible? REVERSIBLE. It’s another that goes together really nicely and pretty quickly because there are no darts or closures. The trickiest bit is that lovely bias facing, but there’s an excellent tutorial for that here.

 

3. Simple Gathered Skirt

Ok, so this is kind of cheating because it’s not really a pattern, but it’s something I make all the time and is super easy. I have a curved waistband from a vintage pattern that I know fits me well and I use it for pretty much every skirt I make – I just gather skirt panels the width of the fabric I’m using. That’s it. One on the fold for the front, two panels for the back and a zip up the back. So easy. Gathering is great like that because you can just make it fit. I line up the centre front of the skirt to the centre front of the interfaced waistband and add pockets. Sometimes I maxi them, sometimes I add buttons down the front instead of the zipper – but they’re all basically the same.

 

I have way more to share, but those are definitely the three that I’ve sewn the most.