Bearded and Knife Wielding {Turia Dungarees Dress Hack}

Oh how I eyed off this pattern for a long time. Will they suit me? (ehhhh.) Will I look ridiculous? (debatable.) Will I be able to turn it into a dress version because shorts aren’t really my jam? (absolutely.)

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When I finally got around to buying the pattern, there were none in any of the online stores in Australia. Then I contemplated the PDF route for about three seconds before deciding to buy directly from the Pauline Alice website. They took a few weeks to arrive, but I love me a paper pattern.

I bought some spotty stretch denim on sale from The Remnant Warehouse in anticipation and already had a couple of metal denim zippers here that I’d picked up from an op shop ages ago. One has brass teeth and one silver coloured, but you know – this is just a muslin version, so no biggy. I knew there would be a tonne of top stitching involved in this, so I kept grey thread in my machines. My top stitching does not need any extra attention because it is, quite frankly, appalling. I did get lots of practice today though. Button and buckle set was a Birch one from Spotlight.

My measurements put me into the size 46, so I traced that off pretty much as is, with the skirt hack. It was much simpler than I thought it would be. Being dungarees (or overalls, as we would call them in Australia) there is a fair bit of ease.

Off I went, gaining smug confidence early because look at these pockets:

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Oh yes – look at those pockets, so fashun, much smug.

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Next? Flat felled seams. Oh. Better consult my old mate Google for those buggers. HAHAHA you guys. Look at my seams! YASSS. I AM QUEEEEEEEEEEN.

Basically you sew your pieces wrong sides together (I know, but stay with me), press those seams open, trim the seam allowance on one side, fold the bigger one over the smaller one and Bob’s your Uncle, really.

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So flat, so felled, so strong for chunky butts.

Then I made the bodice front bit with the envelope pocket. Still going strong. Still loving this sew (and myself a bit, let’s be honest). First snag came with the second flat felled seam where the bodice attaches to the skirt. The pattern doesn’t specify which seam to trim but I sort of figured by the way the rest of the top of the skirt seam allowance has to fold over, that you’d have to trim the top one. I think. That sounds very confusing but you’ll get it if you make them. The rest of the top edge of the skirt is still raw and has to be finished by folding it over and top stitching. ANYWAY. Seam allowance trimmed, but where the bulky seams sit on the pockets was quite difficult to turn over for that nice flat felled finish, so it’s not as good looking as the back seam. Never mind, not that noticeable.

Next snag was turning over the raw edges of the upper back and the top of the skirt. I didn’t like how it looked and my denim seemed prone to fraying. So I decided to finish it with bias binding instead. Bit of a hacked together job, but again – not all that noticeable. Bullet mostly dodged.

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Final and WORST EVER snag: those damn buttons and buckles. Pattern suggests you follow manufacturers instructions. Birch provides none. Cool. Consult my bestie Google once again, find decent tutorial (seriously, do companies just assume we know this stuff? Did you know this stuff? Let me know if I’m the only stupid one). RIGHT. Hammer. Let’s get bashy. Oops. Too bashy. Bashed that first button so good that I can barely get the buckle over it. Uh oh. Code red. Or blue, maybe. She’s gonna need surgery at a later date. And most likely a denim patch after I plier that sucker off. Second one goes on like a dream, of course, because I was much more gentle.

But she’s finished and here she is. All in all, a pretty rad pattern. Next time I’ll only use one zip – two isn’t necessary.

webdsc_7413webdsc_7399I have the greatest fabric for my next version, but I’m on the fence about whether I like these or not. I think I do, but again – that boxy feeling and that flattering word (can someone kill that word, seriously? With fire). I feel like maybe the cute spotty denim makes me look like a bearded, knife wielding butcher, but again – let me sleep on it.

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A Piping Good Time {Sewaholic Alma Blouse}

A month or so ago, I sewed up two pairs of Closet Case Files Carolyn PJs. The first a flannelette pair without piping and the second a quilting cotton pair with piping. I was putting off the piping version because (like all things new to me) I was nervous and whiney and a bit lazy about it. Turns out that it was actually pretty simple and piping makes shit look rad. It’s true. Gives it a bit of something.

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Fast forward to yesterday when I was ummming and uhhhhing over the best way to use my delightful Liberty fabric. Yes, Liberty. Fancy as heck. Actually when it first arrived I wasn’t sure what the big deal was, but after a wash and a press it is so lovely and soft and really nice to sew with. I was contemplating yet another Sudley, but decided in the end that it would be really nice as a Sewaholic Alma and I hadn’t made one in a while. But what would I wear with it, besides jeans? All my skirts are prints. Wardrobe gap! Decided to make what I’d been putting off for a while (because, plain black and maths – yawwwwwn), a box pleated skirt in black sateen. Oh yes.

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Details here:

Sewaholic Alma Blouse from Sew Squirrel

Liberty Lawn from The Remnant Warehouse

Black Sateen from East Coast Fabrics

Piping on rolls was an op shop score.

The skirt was really basic – I just played with pleat width until I could fit the skirt panels into the waistband (15cms x 3). There’s a side zip and a side seam pocket on one side. I made it a couple of inches longer than normal so I can wear it when I’m working. I added piping to the top and bottom of the waistband. web-3185After a tip from one of my FB sewing buddies, I enclosed the raw edge of the waistband facing in satin bias binding instead of folding it under. Not the neatest finish, but a nifty way of getting rid of bulk and not having to worry about catching both sides of the waistband when stitching from one side.

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I’ve made a few Almas, they go together as per the pattern except for a couple of changes – I add an inch or so to the hem as I tend to wear them with jeans and like the extra length and I also omit the zipper because I don’t need it. This time of course, I added the piping and I’m freaking proud of that collar. All the practice is paying off. Oh and the sleeves on this baby are different too, I stole them from a dress pattern. I love that little pleat.

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Hot tips:

A zipper foot works brilliantly for piping.

Pull a bit of cord out of the piping so you can keep it out of your seam allowances. Your sewing machine will thank me.

Pinkers are really great for trimming the seam allowances of the collar to get it turning really nicely.

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All done. I was going to add a little cuff underneath the piping on the sleeves, but I wasn’t sure if it would make it look too much like PJs. Not sure without either, really. I might go back and add it.

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Ok so maybe together they’re a bit matchy, but I love both anyway. And they’re super comfy!

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A Million Bucks {Ohhh Lulu Cindy + Ava}.

That’s how this set makes me feel. A million bucks. My favourite set I’ve made so far, even though the velvet was a bit of a nightmare, not only to sew with, but also to photograph (as you will see). But worth it.

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Both patterns are by Ohhh Lulu, the knickers only purchased yesterday after my search for a lower leg. Ohhh Lulu nailed it, obviously. Links to everything I used here:

Cindy Bra – Ohhh Lulu

Ava Knickers – Ohhh Lulu

Main fabric – purchased an an Op Shop and hoarded by me for about two years.

Powernet – Remnant Warehouse (just as an aside, the pretty gold bits started flaking off after I washed this net. Very bloody sad).

Elastic, bra clips, casing, wires, boning etc – Booby Traps

Straps and tiny satin buttons were rescued from an old bra, may she RIP.

So the Ava pattern is simple and brilliant. A great place to start if you’re new to sewing lingerie. Three pieces, that’s it. Front and back go together with gusset cleverly tucked in behind the back (sounds confusing, but it works), side seams get sewn up and then I just used picot elastic for the waistband and legs because I find it much easier than fold over elastic. EASY.

web-1767The velvet looks like two different fabrics. What a trickster. Gusset is black jersey.

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Picot gets sewn on the right side of the fabric, soft side up, picots facing towards knickers with a regular smallish zig zag, then flipped and attached again with a bigger three step zig zag. You can do it, I swear.

web-1779Hello pretty Avas. Finished in about 20 minutes, for real. Also, lingerie is a bugger to photograph flat. Much better on a body, but even I’m not going that far. Sorry.

Now to Cindy. I’m going to tell you a secret:

Bras aren’t that hard to make.

Don’t tell your non-sewing friends, they will seriously be so impressed to know you can sew a bra. Like mouth gaping floored. This Craftsy class taught me to sew bras. It’s amazing. You need it. Do it. I get absolute nothing from telling you that, by the way. It just changed my life and I’m not even kidding.

Alright, that said I put the Cindy bra together mostly by the instructions provided, but occasionally I veered off course and did it the way I learned in the Craftsy class. Because it makes sense. I think this is my sixth handmade bra, so I feel pretty comfortable with the process now. Cindy calls for more fold over elastic, but again I used picot elastic. This is the first time I’ve used the picot on the neckline and underarms of this particular pattern and I was concerned about it ending up a bit too low in the front, but it turned out absolutely fine and will be the way I finish it from now on. I love the three piece cup of this bra and the long line band helps smooth everything out too. What’s not to love about that, really. Since making bras with longer bands, I actually can’t stand wearing my RTW bras with the narrow back strap now. Something about it feels really uncomfortable.

web-1766I decided to line this baby with powermesh because the stretch velvet needs the extra support. It felt like overkill, but I’m so glad I did it because it definitely wouldn’t have been wearable without it – the velvet just has too much give and I need the support. You’ll notice I didn’t line the top cup piece because I sort of forgot and then was too lazy to go back and cut more pieces. It’s fine as is really, but would have been better with the extra support. Next time.

web-1770This bra has boning in it, which supports the band and stops it from rolling up when you’re wearing it. One of the comments I always get when I say I’ve sewn bras is ‘But with wire?!’ like it’s a really complex thing. But it’s honestly not. The boning and wire aren’t difficult at all. Even if you’re sewing a wireless bra, most will need the underwire casing in them anyway, as it covers the raw edges where the cups meet the band. Putting the actual wire and boning in is only another step.

web-1771Boning. Just boring plastic stuff. Sounds way more hardcore than it is.

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Done. Look at the guts of this bra, isn’t it pretty? When I first started sewing, I would never worry about the insides of what I was making because pffffft, no one will ever see it. But now I’ve realised how good it makes me feel when the insides are as pretty as the outside.web-1780web-1781web-1782web-1783web-1785Fun fact: I had my first bra pattern stashed away for over a year because I was so intimidated by that thing I felt too scared to attempt it. Now I feel ridiculous. If you can sew a dress, you can sew a bra. I don’t even touch my over locker when I sew a bra. So if you want to, go for it. You got this, legends. A million bucks.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Swimming Jocks {Jalie 3242}.

In our house, there are shirts and swimming shirts, shorts and swimming shorts and of course, jocks and swimming jocks. Because when your youngest has a severe speech delay, communicating is done in the easiest, simplest way and sometimes those words stick. Swimming jocks are here to stay. At least 9 months of the year, we are around some body of water or another – be it river, ocean or pool, so the differentiation between regular jocks and swimming jocks becomes important. No one wants to hang out in damp jersey.

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Jalie 3242 is a pretty kick arse pattern. It has a variety of styles for the whole family on the one pattern. Perfect. I’ve made the knickers for me, the briefs for the men of the house but by far the favourite are the boys’ trunks. They are such a quick sew, the only elastic is the waistband and there is no butt seam – that has to be comfy, right? Regardless, they are loved. I’m sure in a few years homemade jocks will be unacceptable, but for now they’re awesome.

Last summer, I decided the Jalie trunks would be alright as swimmers. And if they looked too much like underwear, the boys could just wear them under boardshorts (aka swimming shorts), so no biggy. I grabbed the only spandex I had at the time, which was sourced from a local Op Shop so I had no idea if it was even chlorine resistant. But I figured we are barely in chlorine anyway (our pool is salt) and it wasn’t a big deal if they fell apart. So I made these cool little red and white striped trunks for the boys and they wore them all summer and they held up really well. They are still tucked away in a drawer actually, although they’ve probably grown out of them by now. So I decided to make more for this summer, but this time I decided to do it all proper like and bought Sports Lycra from Spoonflower in the coolest ever Harry Potter print. I also bought legit swim elastic. Today I dragged out my old faithful Jalie pattern and had those suckers made within an hour. So satisfying.

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There’s only one piece for the body of the trunks and four little pouch pieces. It’s a bit of a different sew, and this tutorial is the bees knees because to be honest, the Jalie instructions are a little lacking. But once you’ve done that bit, it’s all really straight forward.

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The pattern uses an exposed elastic waistband, which obviously isn’t ideal for swimmers, so I just added a bit more height to the pattern to compensate for the folding of the waist with swim elastic. I finished the raw edges, marked the elastic and waist of the trunks at quarters and attached with a zig zag stitch. Then folded it over and zig zagged again.

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Sewaholic Pacific Leggings with pocket. And Harry Potter.

I’ve made these beauties before and I love them. They go together relatively easily and honestly, an over locker isn’t entirely necessary – but it definitely makes for a quick sew. I know you’re going to ask me, so the fabric can be found at Spoonflower, the design is by the amazing Hello Quirky. I ordered the Sports Lycra because I wanted the fabric for swimmers and it’s chlorine resistant. I’m using the absolute last of the scraps in the band of the leggings. You’ll notice (or hopefully not) that the top band at the back above the zip is in two pieces. It’s not supposed to be. I just really scraped together the last of the fabric. It seemed a crime to chuck out even the smallest scraps.

Every time I sew with knits, I get a shock at how fast I can get something made. The hardest part about these leggings is the gusset. Gross word, gross looking piece of fabric. This tutorial is excellent though. The best thing? The pocket, obviously. On Sundays, it is traditional for all of us to walk down on the local river and I need a place for my phone and coffee money. No one wants to have to carry that shiz around.

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Ewww, gusset. But what a gusset. I sewed this part with the normal machine first and then over locked the raw edges. Because that is a seam that could do with a bit of extra reinforcement, in my opinion. webDSC_1531

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My last pair were made from a spandex blend, but the fabric ended up being a bit weird and scratchy, so I don’t really wear them very often. This time, I’ve used what I am 90% sure is supplex. I bought it from that same rad garage sale where I got lots of more unusual sewing bits and pieces. They feel exactly like my favourite RTW pair, the fabric is soft, but still supportive and doesn’t go transparent when stretched. It’s great stuff and used mostly for sporty garments. Hot tip though, sewing with anything like this means it’s really hard to tell your right side from your wrong side. Mark those suckers so you don’t end up with two back pieces facing the same way. That would really ruin your day.

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The zippered pocket is actually really easy and goes together pretty simply. You use iron on tape stuff to stop the fabric from stretching out when attaching the zip. It also acts a bit like interfacing and provides some strength too, I guess.

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It’s all downhill from there, really. Attach your snazzy band to the band lining, attach some skinny elastic to the top of the band and then attach the band to the leggings. Hem those suckers with a zig zag and you’re done. I like to over lock the raw edges before I hem and then just fold them up once so there’s less bulk.

 

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A bit ‘got any blacker?’ but that’s just my style for leggings, I leave my prints for dresses and skirts. Secret Harry Potter band is enough for me.

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C’mon, Vogue (9000)

Vogue 9000 has been on my to do list since its release. I do have another shirt dress pattern (the lovely McCalls 6696, made by every sewing blogger ever), but this one has those cuffs, the buttons just to the waist and a paneled circleish skirt as opposed to the pleated skirt of M6696. Different enough to warrant a purchase, I say.

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Difficulty level would be intermediate, I guess. Sleeves don’t have to be inserted (woo!) but there’s cuffs, armhole facings, that collar, buttons and a zip. All of which I’ve done before, so not a great stretch for me. That said, the collar part of the instructions were cray, so I ignored them. It’s a vintage reproduction, so there’s some vintage techniques happening (lots of handstitching!) which I mostly ignored because I’m a terrible person. I hate hand stitching. There’s four darts on the back piece and two on each of the front pieces, so lots of dart action happening too. My measurements (41/33/43) put me smack in between the size 18 and 20, so knowing what I know about Vogue and vintage patterns, I decided to trace out the 18, which turned out to be wise, but not wise enough. I ended up taking the dress in twice during construction. Next time I will try the 16, but I have a feeling it still might be a smidge big at the waist. I do usually need to size up in the sleeves, but these turned out to be quite roomy also. Something weird happened to my neck and collar though – they seem massive. Not sure if that was user error or not. I didn’t take enough care with the collar and ended up with a bit of the under collar rolling out. Since I knew the fit wasn’t perfect anyway, I didn’t bother fixing it.

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My fabric is by the legends at Cotton and Steel, I love the colours and the print, even though I’m more of a dog person. It’s adorable, right? I grabbed it from fabric.com. I ended up adding patch pockets too, from another vintage Vogue pattern and lined them with another Cotton and Steel print.

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A while ago, I picked up a mountain of sewing bits and pieces at a garage sale (after a text from my mother which just said ‘You need to be here. NOW.’ She was right, along with the braid, I got about 300m of satin bias binding, 100m of bra clasps, tricot, power net and a range of other fabrics) – this horsehair braid being one of my finds. I’ve never used it before, so decided to try it on the skirt. It was really easy to insert and gives the skirt a bit of floof without wearing a petti.

Oh and it’s worth noting that I took 10cm off the hem of each of the skirt panels because (a) I’m short and (b) it meant that the pieces could fit on the fabric folded lengthways, so I used far less fabric. I’m all about using less fabric where possible.

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I hunted around in my stash for black buttons and found seven of these guys, which is exactly the amount I needed (5 for the bodice and one for each sleeve cuff). The sleeve cuff buttons weren’t part of the pattern, but I decided to add them so they weren’t flopping about all over the place. I really have no idea if I do buttonholes the right way, but I pin where they should go, sew them in and then cut the holes with little nail scissors as I find that easier than using a seam ripper.

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All in all, it came together relatively easily (besides the whole huge collar thing). webDSC_1386webDSC_1389webDSC_1391

I was all set to insert the shoulder pads, but when I pinned them in they looked ridiculous on me, so I decided to leave them out. I already have massive shoulders anyway. Here is the finished product on. It’s not too bad considering. It definitely needs the belt to bring the waist in a bit and break up the print. I’ll definitely wear it though.

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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.