Quilt It {Simplicity 8298}

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I am not a quilter and this is definitely my first rodeo. Simplicity 8298 is one of those cute Dottie Angel patterns with the cover images that suck you in, so you think that you too could be that kind of effortlessly adorable. You know – tights, smocky dresses, Mary Janes and long blonde hair twisted onto your head in braids like some kind of perfectly skinned, milkmaidy beauty.

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Just me? Ok. Well, the pattern calls for already quilted fabric and is a bit lightweight with the instructions. Of course, I couldn’t find suitable fabric (hello, polyesterworld) and had to quilt my own. OF COURSE. I turned to my trusty FB sewing group and asked their advice and here were the tips that I used:

– Flannelette instead of wadding. Not as heavy for our mild winters and 100% cotton. I used two layers, one pink and spotty, one plain cream – both from Spotlight. The outer fabric is cotton sateen from Nerida Hansen.

– Basting spray. Now I must admit, as I was using this I had my doubts. It was like beginning of school year contacting books all over again, but I got there. Do recommend.

– Instead of chalking all those lines (which yes, I had intended on doing), just mark two and then use the metal wire  foot attachment thing that comes with your sewing machine to guide you through the rest. Genius. Seriously.

– Quilting can shrink your fabric slightly. I cut my pieces out roughly a couple of cms bigger, quilted each piece and then cut them to size. Fiddly, but doable. Saves you from quilting an epic piece of fabric. I had enough trouble getting the back piece done.

– And here’s a tip that might be obvious to everyone except me: when quilting the larger pattern pieces, the sheer size of them can by difficult to deal with under a regular machine. I rolled mine into burritos on the side I wasn’t quilting, so they fit through the throat space of the machine.

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Other things to note are:

– The elbow patches don’t sit on the elbow for me.

– The pattern says nothing about finishing seams. Because I am a sucker for punishment, I bound all mine. It sure as hell looks pretty though.

– I had to redo the binding around the neckline so many times. In the end, close enough was good enough. I’m not sure if I was missing something or it’s just tricky. Like I said, the instructions are a bit light on. I have a suspicion that the hood would have been easier.

– It’s big. The armholes are low. I have big arms and usually have to grade sleeves up, and these are big even on me. I made mine based on the finished measurements and ended up taking it in a fairly large amount, particularly at the side seams. It was bowing out at the bottom of the back hem heaps. In my wisdom, I had eliminated the centre back seam, so could only take it in on the sides.

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Regardless, she’s pretty , she’s cosy, she’s comfortable and I will wear her heaps through winter.

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That 70s Technicolour Dreamcoat {Vintage Simplicity 5289}

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I know, I live in Queensland. I know, there’s not a huge need for coats here. But here are some more things – our houses aren’t built for the cold, they are built to let the heat out. It’s not unusual for it to be colder inside the house than outside. And that’s welcome most of the year. For the other two months, we layer. Regardless, I feel the cold. And I like to feel cosy. Besides. WHO CAN RESIST RAINBOW TARTAN? Not I.

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I ordered two metres of the wool/something blend from Darn Cheap Fabrics (sold out, sorry friends) but I didn’t have a pattern in mind. I wanted something hip length (warm butt please) but I didn’t want to cut through the checks too much. I found this 1972 gem in my stash and the pieces just fit on the fabric. Hooray!

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But sorta not hooray, because pattern matching. Oops. Oh well, as long as the fronts match, right? Yes. Right. However, if you stuff that up then you’re in trouble. Which I did. And was. I re-cut, but it meant then having non matching sleeves. Oh noooooo. No fabric left online either. Mismatched it is then. Sorry if that makes you twitch.

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In other news, I cut the pockets on the bias because I didn’t have enough fabric to match those either. So at least they intentionally don’t match. I used red fabric covered buttons that I scored at an op shop and an obscene leopard satin that I’ve had in my stash for ages for the lining. That charming little label is by Kylie and The Machine. I love it.

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I had every intention of bagging the lining, even though the pattern instructions say to hand sew the whole thing in. And guess what? I did the hand sewing. My hand sewing isn’t great, but I feel like I get a better finish. That slippery satin was a bit of a bugger to cut and it wouldn’t have been a nice neat fit into the coat if I’d bagged it.

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In spite of everything, I love it and will wear it forever.

Wattle It Bee {Megan Nielsen Wattle Skirt}

My titles are getting worse, I know.

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A while back, lovely Megan asked if she could send me one of her new patterns and said she thought I’d like her new Wattle skirt. She thought correctly. It has the same waistband options as her Flint pants, which I also love.

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I made view D, which is a bias cut skirt with tie closure. I used this lovely Art Gallery Bee print and even though it’s quilting cotton, Art Gallery has this magically soft drape about it, which makes it not bad at all for a skirt like this. Although, apparently my ironing skills could use some improvement – no surprise there.

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Like the Flints, the skirt has an opening in the left pocket, which is how you get into it. There is a button and tie to secure it. It all came together very quickly and simply for me, but I have made similar in the past so there was nothing new to learn.

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I did eliminate the centre front seam because I was reluctant to cut through the bees. Next time, I’ll take a dart out of the top of the front and back waistbands, which I should have done from the beginning. Flat rectangle waistbands just don’t work on a short waisted, curvy chick like me. Curved waistbands sit much smoother.

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My top is a bit of a hack of a dress pattern (Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap dress), which I made a few changes to so it works as a top, including changing the sleeves to bell sleeves. This is my second version, it just needs a couple of more changes to get it right. It’s slightly big for me all over, particularly in the shoulders and armscye (more so on my wonky left shoulder). I do love this red and pink striped rib from The Remnant Warehouse though, it’s got retro 70s vibes.

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I do feel slightly Christmas themed in this outfit and I’m excited about starting to get into the spirit of things.

 

Not Everyone’s A Winner, Baby {Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress}

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This might be unpopular but hear me out. I love the style of Gerties patterns. They are the kind of silhouette that I wear all the time. I own her books, which have their issues but what I’ve made has been ok. Not perfect, but ok. Wearable. I actually really love some of her patterns for Butterick, like this one and this one.

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I know it’s rare for patterns to fit straight off the envelope. I do. But I guess I’ve been pretty lucky up until now. I have standard changes that I’ll make, often before even starting (FBA and shorten bodice), but my measurements tend to slot me right into one size (I tend to go by finished measurements) so I don’t find I have to make a lot of fitting changes. In fact, I usually go straight for a wearable muslin rather than making a practice run, getting sick of it and then never making the proper version. What can I say, I get bored easily. Unless of course it’s really special fabric and a pattern I’ve never made before. Even then, I’ll use inexpensive fabric but something that I’d still actually wear. I’ve never made a proper, unbleached muslin version.

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I loved that collar on the Night and Day Dress pattern as soon as I saw it. I own a fair few vintage patterns, but nothing with that lovely square neckline and collar. Plus I loved the bishop sleeves for something different and even thought the tie collar was pretty cute. At $53.50 USD (about $75 AUD) it did work out quite expensive, but just under half of that was shipping and you know, that’s life when you live down here. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for something I really like the look of and that I’d struggle to find elsewhere. Plus, I’m supporting a fellow woman in business, so ok.

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I was excited when it arrived and got to work pretty much right away. I was delighted to find my measurements slotted me right into the 10D. They are my exact measurements. I’d seen it mentioned that there wasn’t a lot of ease and that suited me too, but I did double check them. I couldn’t see anywhere what height the pattern was drafted for, but I took an inch out when I was tracing the pattern pieces off as I’m pretty short waisted and that’s quite standard for me. I held the pieces up to my torso for a rough idea and it looked ok.

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The whole thing went together really easily and the instructions are clear and concise. I was a bit worried about the collar, but it was find. It doesn’t lay flat when you are sewing it together, but don’t worry about that because it all turns out well in the end. The darts though, they are something else. They were massive. If you’ve ever done a FBA and ended up with ginormous darts, you know what I’m talking about. And I’m not even that big in the bust really – about a 38D. Not small, but not really big either. I had fit issues that I’ve never come across before (please excuse the phone pic).

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I used some new Tula Pink fabric – something that could be purchased again if it didn’t turn out, but also, I had high hopes. What could go wrong? HA.

Ok so too long in the bodice, even after taking an inch out. But more that that, huge across my chest and weird extra fabric under the bust and at the bust darts too. Ok. I unpicked the bodice from the skirt and made the darts bigger at the base, while trying to shorten them too – a nearly impossible feat because they were already so wide and then trying to drop the point below my bust made getting from dart leg to dart point a very short trip. I fudged my way through it and ended up here, with still too long darts. Although a glance at the pattern images shows them quite high, so maybe that’s where they’re supposed to be?

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I couldn’t keep it on my shoulders. Is this pattern made for 6’4″ footballers? Footballers with very perky busts. Is it me? I’d seen other versions popping up on instagram that looked great! What have I done?

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Ok, round two. Using an Ella Blue fabric that was quite a bargain of $5/m. Not a big deal. Probably cheaper than unbleached muslin, you guys. But this time would be fine, right?

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I went down a size to an 8D. I took the shoulders up and a bit more from the bodice. I scooped the armholes to compensate. Not enough though apparently. Still had the excess fabric around the darts. STILL.  Same trick again. Wider dart legs to fix the waist darts, not as easy to fix the bust ones. Ok. But at least this one was staying on my shoulders. I can live with the wrinkles at the sides. Whatever.

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Do my boobs sit at my belly button? Whyyyy have I never experienced anything like this before?

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Also, knowing Gertie is big on foundation garments, I wore my What Katie Did Merry Widow underneath and it definitely looks better than just with a normal bra. Unders look like this. Was hoping the neighbours wouldn’t decide to water the garden at this point in time.

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Ok fine. I was going to go back and rescue my Tula version. If it was the last thing I did. Muslin time. I MADE 8 BODICE MUSLINS. EIGHT. I dropped darts, I went up a cup size, I went down a cup size, I slashed, I spread, I shortened, I lengthened. I cried. Now, I’m not a professional dress maker, but surely this pattern is aimed at home sewers, right?

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Fresh off the sewing machine, I’d thought I’d done it – no wrinkles at the sides. Apparently not when you are holding your arm out to take a selfie, but the appear again when standing normally.

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In the end, I went back to the 10D, removed 3cms from the shoulders and 3cms from the bottom of the waist (I know, but seriously – I felt like I tried everything by that point) and the weird thing? I took 1cm from the CF. That brought everything more toward the centre so at least I could keep it on my shoulders. That was as close as I was going to get. Still had the wrinkling at the bust darts but I was defeated. I just wanted it to be wearable. So I made my new bodice and I am going to wear that sucker.

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Because finished is better than perfect.

 

Bra Restock {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra}

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There is really very little reason to blog these bras. I’ve made them and talked about them many, many times before. The Marlborough pattern is my favourite. It fit me almost straight out of the envelope (or off the PDF) and gives me the most lift and projection than any other bra I’ve ever worn. Including RTW.

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I automatically sift through my drawer for the Marlboroughs before anything else. It feels kind of like cheating to make the same pattern over and over, but hey – I love them, so why not?

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Actually the nude coloured one was sewn out of necessity. I have so many black and bright prints, but was seriously lacking anything to wear under semi sheer clothes. I found the peachy coloured lace in Spotlight and the matte spandex was from The Remnant Warehouse.

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The other two were sewn because I like sewing in threes.

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Matching knickers, because of course. All my supplies are from all over the place, so if you want to know something specific, just ask. As always, pretty much all of it comes from The Remnant Warehouse, Pitt Trading and Booby Traps.

webDSC_2740 You know what though? I still learn little tips and tricks every time I sew. This time I learned that you can put two wires in one casing. I know. Why? I bought some wires on sale and when they arrived, they were a bit flimsy for me. But I bought a pile of them because they were such a bargain. So two in each cup for extra support.

webDSC_2776 Look at those enclosed seams. They fill me with a ridiculous amount of satisfaction. All of my bras are lined with sheer cup lining. It’s light, but strong.

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I can’t decide which one is my new favourite child. That peacock lace or the printed silk gifted to me by a friend. The nude one is nanna-functional, but the other two are a bit more special.

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Welcome to the lingerie drawer, new friends….

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Getting There {Joan Dress}

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Oh goodness, this has been a process. As my little business grows, it has become more and more important to me to tweak patterns within an inch of their lives so they fit the image in my head.

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This dress, who has been named Joan after my Dad’s mum, has taken months of work from vision to actual wearable dress. I’m not a pattern designer, so I generally take bits and pieces of vintage patterns I like and blend them all together to come up with a complete dress.

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I’ve made six versions to test on myself and really, most of them have been ok. The first was too small in the bust, the second gaped at the neck, the third needed a touch more room in the armscye and the versions after that had slight changes to bodice and skirt length.

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Even looking at these images now is making me want to go and change a couple more tiny things. But at some point I have to let it go and realise that not everything will fit everyone without a wrinkle here and there.

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Now it’s time to grade this sucker into sizes 8-18, sew up some more samples and test them for fit across the sizes. So it will still be a while before they appear in the shop. But we’re getting there.

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Fabric kindly provided by Sewing Gem in exchange for some images of it sewn up. Thanks Gem!

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My new favourite earrings by Kirbee Lawler. They were very limited release and I am so glad I managed to snap them up. Also, look at those majestic unicorns up close. MAJESTIC.

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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.

 

Very Vintage {Australian Home Journal Nightdress}

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I’m not sure if this is the oldest pattern I own, but it’s up there. Same vintage as my Dad actually (sorry Dad). I grabbed it because I thought that centre pattern would look pretty cool as a maxi dress from rayon and it’s close to my bust measurement (well now it is my exact bust measurement).

I have been putting off making it and I’ll show you why.

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Yeahhhhh. These old patterns assume a lot of sewing knowledge and while I’m not exactly a newbie, the instructions and the pattern pieces intimidated me a bit (and yes, that Scotch tape ad is advising you to tape a feather to your baby’s finger).

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The pattern pieces are pretty basic, you have to draw a few of them up yourself – not a huge deal. I grabbed some swan print rayon from Spotlight and decided to jump in. Turns out I should have kept that collar piece on the front bodice rather than drafting it separately (I think), so it means I have a seam line down the front. I also didn’t hand sew anything, because no.

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I did wonder during the cutting process how one was supposed to get in to such a dress without a zip or anything, but just assumed that being a nightdress meant that it was a bit oversized. Turns out that was correct, even though it looks delightfully fitted in the illustration. The ties at the waist means you cinch it in at the back a bit – although how you’re meant to sleep in this much fabric I don’t know.

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I stitched the lowest part of the neckline together to prevent flashing and also added the little buttons because I felt like it needed something a bit extra. Shortened the sleeves because we so rarely need the extra length here and I thought it would look like I was drowning in swans.

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All done. I think this could be sized down a touch and a zipper added, but it is quite comfortable a bit bigger.

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Pockets were added. Of course. How else is the modern woman supposed to get through the day?

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Bonus advertising content because it’s amusing.

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Fancy Pants {Megan Nielsen Flint Pants}

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So after making the shorts version of these pants as a practice run to test fit (and realising that I actually loved them), I got around to grabbing some black rayon and making the pants version.

Yes black is a nightmare to photograph and I’m sorry.

This time I made the tie version, using a black and white cotton printed with birds for the pocket lining and tie contrast. There’s also a little button inside the waistband to make everything more secure (which I accidentally sewed a bit close to the edge. Oops).

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In hindsight, the rayon I used might be a bit too light. They are slightly transparent in the light. Also the band tends to fold over on itself when I sit. Still wearable though. These ended up being full length instead of the 3/4 they are supposed to be, because I’m short. I only did a narrow hem to keep them full length.

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There’s not much else to say really! They’ll be great for work – it’s always a bit tough to dress for photography work. You need to be relatively dressy, but still have room to squat and move without flashing anyone. It’s a fine line.

I love them, they fit well, they sew up really quickly and I already have plans for my next pair. I’m thinking the 3/4 length in something quite structured, like sateen. Maybe even wool, if I can find the right one. Totally impractical for our climate, but they’d be awesome anyway.

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Banana Dress Giveaway {Vintage Simplicity 5445}

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It occurred to me today that when I’m anxious about something, I sew. I sew when I’m happy too, but my stressy sewing is all about new patterns and the trickier makes. Stuff just for me. I think it’s because I have to concentrate harder, therefore pushing everything else out of my brain. That’s my theory anyway.

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. BTW things are fine, we’ve just had to make some pretty big decisions and there’s a bit of upheaval. Coming to the end of it now. So anyway, last weekend I was down staying with some of my beautiful friends in Melbourne and this beautiful friend has quite the pattern stash. Quite the vintage pattern stash. It pretty much brought tears to my eyes. So I pinched a couple of the patterns to trace off and make. One of them was this gem:

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Version 1 with sleeves. It had to be done. If you’ve ever looked at vintage patterns before (this one is from 1964) you will know they only contain the one size, listed as bust size, rather than the nested patterns today. Bigger sizes are like hens teeth. A bust of 37 inches is still 5 inches smaller than mine at 42. But in my experience, vintage patterns love the hell out of their ease, so I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to grade this up much at all to fit me. And guess what? I was right.

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I compared the bodice pattern pieces to my beloved McCalls 6696 and there was only 1.5cm difference, so I added that to the vintage pattern. Sorted. This one has a simple collar (no stand) and facing.

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Technically, this is a toile – a practice version of the pattern. Some people will make their toiles (or muslins) from calico, old sheets or some other cheapish fabric. Because then if it doesn’t fit, you haven’t wasted your good fabric. I tend to make my muslins from fabric in my stash that I’m not super attached to. That way if they do work, they are still wearable. That’s what I’ve done here. But while the dress fits and it’s a cool print, I’ve decided that the shape of the skirt is really not me. I’m going to make it again with a much fuller skirt.

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For that reason, I’ve decided to give this one away, rather than let it sit in my cupboard not getting worn. I should really give away more of them, so watch this space. It’s going to be a thing.

Anyway, about the dress.

It’s made from a relatively lightweight poly cotton and has wooden buttons, a collar and ginormous pockets. It’s tea length on me (I’m 165cm) and has a few gathers in the front and back of the skirt.

It’s an Australian size 14-16, but please go by the measurements. Mine are bust: 42 inches, waist 34 inches and hip 44 inches. Slightly smaller than these measurements will work, but not any bigger. If this sounds like you, please enter by commenting below and let me know why you need this dress. I will choose a winner in a couple of days (Australian entries only please) and post her out to you.

Thanks gang 🙂

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