It’s Been A Long Time

The last time I posted was December last year and so much has happened. So much. This is more of a life update than a sewing related post, but I’ll make sure to include a bit of sewing content too. I think most people who follow me on social media will know that we had a house fire on the 2nd of February this year. It wasn’t particularly bad, it was contained to the garage and the angel firies kept it that way – by some miracle it never spread into the house, although it was very close. Our house is split level, with the garage and my sewing room next to each other on that ground level, downstairs has the kitchen and lounge which were basically untouched and upstairs is bedrooms and bathrooms which needs to be gutted down to frame (including taking off the roof). Why? Smoke. I never realised the sheer amount of damage smoke can do, it’s heartbreaking. Especially smoke that comes from a garage fire. Everything that burnt was plastic or rubber or something else toxic, so the smoke is also toxic – it’s oily and sticky and corrosive, meaning that it starts to eat away at things the second it hits. Some things were gone instantly, some things we’re still losing almost five months down the track – my big 27″ iMac just died because the smoke corroded it slowly over that time.

Yes, we’re insured. Everything will be covered and I can’t even imagine going through this without that. The process is still incredibly slow. No work has started on the house yet beyond the first little flurry of cleaning within the first two weeks. All our clothes and textiles were sent away for dry cleaning. Our house sits charred and sad on our street, while we rent a cute little place about 10 minutes away.

Of course, having the sewing room next to the garage means it was hit pretty hard. It will be demolished along with the garage. We’re incredibly lucky to have amazing neighbours who acted so fast. They saved our house. I left for work at about 8am with the kids, shut the garage and that’s when hell broke loose. The fire investigators best guess is that a small metal object (likely a wiper blade) fell from a shelf in the garage and onto an old, dead car battery that was bound for the tip later in the week. It hit both terminals perfectly and caused a spark. That’s all it took. At 8:15am one neighbour saw the smoke rolling down the street and jumped into action, bashing on all our doors and yelling – which in turn alerted our other neighbours. Triple 0 had so many calls that they sent all available units from the Sunshine Coast, we had trucks come up from an hour away. Both sets of neighbours called my husband and I, it’s a call that I will never forget. My husband told them that our dog Sid was in the house, probably asleep in my sewing room. And he was. Fast asleep in the blistering, smoke filled room. Our wonderful neighbour risked his life to break in and carried him out to safety. Typing that still makes me cry. The firies arrived just after 8:20am and the fire was out by 8:30am, just before I made it home.

I’d never seen anything like that in our quiet suburban street before, there were multiple fire trucks, police cars and ambulances. People everywhere. A very kind work mate didn’t want me to drive, so had driven me home. I bolted from the car and buckled over in the street. I was shocked. Even the whole drive home, I was telling myself that it was impossible, there is nothing that could have caught fire in our house, the neighbours must have been mistaken. I talked to the police, I talked to the firies, a very kind paramedic got me out of the sun and gave me tissues and water. Everyone was talking to me but I couldn’t really absorb what they were saying. My husband arrived after what felt like forever, but in reality was only about ten minutes. There’s that gross old cliche about other halves, but god I needed him there and felt it down to my core. We were better together. We talked to the police and firies together, the media arrived and we hid behind the fire truck from them together. Slowly but surely people disappeared until it was just us, in the rain together, looking at our burnt house. We weren’t sure if we were allowed to go in, but there was no one there to stop us so we did it anyway.

It was a strange time. Almost like we’d been abandoned. The firies had told us there was ‘a bit of smoke damage’ in the house, but we were certainly not prepared for what we saw. We both ended up buckled over, sobbing in the hallway. How does that much damage happen in 15 minutes? The rooms furtherest back from the fire showed signs of heat damage, bolts in the walls and the ceilings had burned black marks into the plaster. The shadows of roof beams were printed onto the ceiling in black. The fire hadn’t even come close to these rooms but the smoke and heat had left their permanent marks.

We let ourselves mourn for a little while but then it was calls from the insurance company and people started arriving again. Builders came to board up the windows and garage and secure the house. It felt so much better when people were around, when work was getting done. Action is good, work is progress. I think that’s why I’ve felt so lost for the past couple of months. The waiting is killing us. I’ll feel so much better when actual work can start. But for now, there’s a lot of paperwork and scopes of work and approvals and back and forth about everything.

I have a little shed at our rental that is a perfect sewing room really, but I haven’t used it. It feels too far from the heart of the house and a bit lonely, so I lug my machines to the dinner table and make a mess in the centre of our space. I have no where to cut anymore, so the floor it is – so I haven’t been able to sew for the shop at all. I recently picked up some work sewing for Nerida Hansen, which has been really nice. It allows me to have that creative outlet and get paid at the same time, which is wonderful. I work at school three days a week and couldn’t have got through this without that gang of amazing people (same can be said for Brian’s workmates). We have leaned on our friends and family a lot and they have been there for us. We are lucky. It doesn’t look like it, but we are – we weren’t home when it happened, we have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, we are insured and things will be replaced. Lucky.

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A Friday Pattern Company Adrienne Blouse made in Isaform cotton lycra for Nerida Hansen.
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PJs made in Holly Sanders french terry for Nerida Hansen.
A Mood Heather dress in Lisa Congdon and Nerida Hansen fabric.

Party Time! Excellent! {Sewing the Lirika Matoshi Strawberry Dress}

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Look at this, a blog post! It’s a Christmas miracle! I thought I should document this one though, because it’s a big one. You know the dress, right? Have a squiz here. Like the rest of the world, I was pretty enamored when I first spotted it about 6 months or so ago. So dreamy, so twirly, so much of a distraction in a pandemic. A pandemic that barely affected my life personally, by the way. I’m aware of what an extreme privilege that is and that’s why I was able to dream about a frivolous dress. Of course I was going to make my own version but in fabric a bit more me. A bit darker but still with something happy to brighten it up. I searched for embroidered tulles on ebay and stumbled across this daisy one. Perfect. It came in a few pastel colours, which was tempting, but the black drew me in the most and I knew it would be so much easier to colour match with plain tulle. Sorted.

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In total, I used 5m of daisy tulle and around 8m of plain black bridal tulle. Total cost of about $100, but I did grab the plain black tulle at 40% off when Spotlight had one of their sales. I also used about 2m of black cotton lawn for the lining. Of course, after that I became paralysed with fear over where to start, despite watching a couple of youtube videos where other sewists had made their own versions of the dress. Plus, you know – work and stuff. But last week, as my best friend’s 40th birthday party edged closer and the Christmas party invites started to roll in, I threw caution into the wind and started cutting.  Because there’s nothing like crushing yourself under a bit of time pressure, right? Right.

I started with the skirt. Half circle skirt out of lawn for the lining. Easy. Then came a bit of tulle maths. My black tulle was 300cm wide and my daisy tulle was 150cm wide. Was it better to just gather 300cm wide panels of plain tulle onto the lining or would I be better joining two panels so I get 600cm of width in total? Hm. Six metres of skirt seems excessive. Famous last words. I used 5 layers of 300cm wide black tulle and then two layers of 300cm (two panels joined with a french seam) wide daisy tulle on top, stitching each one separately to the skirt lining. I pinned it together, tried it on and was very disappointed. It didn’t feel anywhere near wide enough at the hem. No twirl factor. Waaaahhhhhhh. Should I unpick or forge ahead? I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to unpick all those hours of gathering and sewing. But I wanted to love it and I couldn’t love it if the skirt wasn’t right. It was also super puffy. And we all know I love puffy. But it was far bulkier than the original dress. And so I got to work in front of the tv later that night, unpicking black thread on black fabric. It only ended up taking just over an hour.

I then got started again, sewing panels together so the total width was 600cm. It was so much better. Heaps of twirl. I ended up with only two layers of black tulle and one of daisy tulle. I think it’s perfect, I definitely wouldn’t want any more layers. I measured and cut the skirt to even out all the layers and got to work on the ruffle. Ah, the ruffle. Two times the hem should be a good measurement for the ruffle, right? That’s 12m of ruffle. Uh, no. Not even close. I ended up with 3 x 12m sections before it looked ruffley enough. Yes, that’s right friends. Good maths-ing. That’s 36m of gathered tulle. It took a very long time but I was pretty happy with the end result. Phew. And the skirt was the easy part, how the hell will I tackle the bodice?

Ok. The original is very low. Gorgeous, but braless isn’t something that would really work for my bust without some kind of internal structure to hoist everything into place. So a not as plunging neckline for me, but still low enough to keep the vibe of the original. McCalls 6833 was the first that sprung to mind – it had the low neckline but with the underbust band in a good position to sew the ties on to. I adjusted it slightly, dropping the centre fronts of the ‘cup’ pieces by 3cm and taking the same off the underbust piece. That was simple and worked really well. It was at this point that I had also intended to do an FBA, as I’d made the pattern a couple of times and could do with the bit of extra space – but I kind of got carried away and forgot. It’s not the end of the world, but that underbust seam does sit a bit higher on me that I’d like.

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After zooming in on every pixel of the original dress, it looked to have a few layers of tulle in it, with that beautiful gathered layer over the bust and centre front of the waist. So I cut: a bodice in cotton lawn, a bodice in black tulle and a bodice in daisy tulle. Easy right? Then I slashed and spread the bodice pieces only where I wanted the gathering to sit and cut those pieces out of daisy tulle. Unfortunately though, they were sitting king of puffy and pathetically, rather than those full pleats you see on the original. Ok. More fabric then. I literally cut two rectangles of fabric, gathered and pinned them onto the bodice using my mannequin (which I seriously never use, but was very necessary for this step). It was my first time doing anything so freehand like that but it worked really freaking well. I stitched it in place at the shoulders and waistline and then tacked it down in a few places by hand to make sure it didn’t move. Tulle doesn’t fray, so there was no need to worry about finishing raw edges on anything, I just turned it under. There’s a video in my instagram highlights if you’re keen to see the process.

It looked just how I wanted it to and I was thrilled! It was all downhill after that really – neckline ruffle, puffy sleeves (two layers of black tulle and four layers of daisy tulle, finished with more ruffles and elastic), ties made from satin, with the bust ones stitched down. Then a zipper and I finished off the lining by hand sewing it at the waist seam. I did have trouble with the waist tie once it was on – I’m very high waisted and the tie wanted to jump above the waist seam all the time. I have noticed this happens with the original dress too, so it’s not just me. Since the photos were taken, I’ve shortened the dress at the waist and added a waist stay from grosgrain ribbon. That has really helped because the skirt is very heavy.

All in all, it was a huge learning process and took more hours than I thought. Probably about 12 in total. I love it. I wore it to the party even though it was super excessive and now I just want to wear it everywhere all the time. I feel like a princess in it. I’ve gained a fair bit of weight over the last 12 months or so, but this dress makes me forget all of those insecurities. There’s something about tackling a big, scary project that makes you come out on the other side feeling 10 feet tall.

My thoughts on knock offs:

Making your own version of something for yourself, citing the original source – ok.

To then go on and sell it to other people, not ok.

Sewing With Gingham {Nerida Hansen Fabric}

I’m just starting off with the disclaimer that Nerida asked if she could send me some of her new gingham in exchange for an honest review of the fabric (you can see the range here). Of course I said yes, even though there’s eleven million other things I should be doing first. But I can’t resist me a bit of Nerida Hansen fabric, it always feels amazing. So here we go….

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Gingham. It’s quite divisive, isn’t it? Love it or hate it? I quite like it, but I sewed with some in my very early dress making days and a pattern company shared my photo and there was a couple of comments roasting me for my lack of pattern matching. And because I was so new to it all, I was like ‘pattern what-ching?’. Of course, now I know better but those little burns have stuck with me. And I just want to say, you don’t have to pattern match if you don’t want to! I will absolutely not judge. It’s hard and one of those sewing things that has eluded me. Hence me being cautious to jump back into the gingham pool.

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Plus there’s been other gingham negativity I’ve read lately like:

– Looks like a picnic blanket.

(DOES IT, CAROL? BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHO LIKES PICNICS? Everyone!)

– Makes plus sized people look bigger than they are.

(YES, BECAUSE MY MAIN GOAL IN LIFE IS TO LOOK SMALLER THAN I AM FOREVER AND ALWAYS FOR THE BURNING EYES OF THE POOR UNSUSPECTING PUBLIC WHO HAPPEN TO GLANCE MY WAY. No).

– You look like you’re getting ready to feed the chooks/milk the cows/collect eggs/run through fields

(IF THAT’S WRONG THEN I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT, STEVE. Besides, have you heard of cottagecore?).

(Thanks to my gingham loving mate for that one, yes she’s had that comment before).

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It’s ok my lovely Ru, don’t let the weight of other people’s expectations get you down.

Moving on.

Let’s talk about the fabric itself. You can grab it in three bases: cotton sateen (lightweight, drapey, beautiful), mid weight cotton (um mid weight, more structure, also lovely) and cotton/linen (I didn’t get any of this one but I have used it in the past. Also a lovely mid weight, less drape, more loosely woven). Nerida mentioned that she wanted honest feedback because they’ve had issues in the past with the fabric being printed off grain. I’m not a particularly fussy person with grain lines etc, unless it’s super obvious or I’m cutting something on the bias. So I made sure I was taking note with this fabric and you know, once you fold it in half length ways, it is pretty obvious if it’s off grain because the checks are quite a decent size. So far, all the fabric I’ve used has been good, but I did notice some warping of the print towards the very edge, before they hit the selvedges. I just made sure I didn’t use those edges if I didn’t have to.

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The first dress I made was this little red and pink number from mid weight cotton. It turned out very well and I’m super happy with it. The bodice and sleeves are self drafted, with the top part of the skirt from Simplicity 8248 and a ruffle added. Most pieces are cut pretty straight and that’s why it works. I used the smaller scale checks for the bodice, larger for the skirt and a bit of a mixture of what was left for the ruffle. I like how the red strips between the checks form a bit of a faux waistband on the dress. Pockets are slightly off, but close enough for me. Now because the sides of the skirt are cut at an angle, I didn’t bother trying to match them exactly, but did try and at least get the horizontal lines in line with each other. Does that make sense?

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It didn’t match up super well, but I can live with it, you know? The ruffle pieces matched up well, but they’re very nice even rectangles, so it was easy.

And because it was easy and turned out so well, I got a bit cocky, didn’t I?

Yes I did.

I used the brand new Closet Core Patterns Elodie wrap and the sateen for this one. A match made in heaven, really. The Elodie is a beautiful pattern and the sateen has the loveliest drape for it. But I chose the wrong gingham, friends. I thought I was being edgy, I had a niggly voice in the back of my mind but as always, I ignored that sucker. Mostly ignoring him works, but this time it didn’t.

The Elodie pattern has a lot of curves and following the grain lines on the pattern pieces meant that the checks are cut off an angles instead of in straight lines. I did my best to match the horizontal lines again on the skirt pieces, but I completely forgot about the shoulders. I wanted to match the front and back in the same colour, but didn’t have enough fabric. Also, the waistband sits off the end of the bodice pieces, which I didn’t realise, so my careful matching was a fail there.

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In hindsight, I wish I’d cut the skirt pieces in the opposite direction because I’m not a fan of the red around my hips. Someone mentioned it looks like an apron and it totally does and that’s why I’m not feeling it. Separately, excellent pattern and excellent fabric, together – not so much. I think this particular print would be better in tiers.

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To add insult to injury, I decided to add inseam pockets at the last minute (not part of the pattern) and went fossicking through my scraps for some pieces to use AND ACCIDENTALLY grabbed a back bodice piece and cut a pocket out of it. I nearly cried at that point. Such a stupid mistake. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another back piece the same, so patched it together. You can barely tell because I did it down one of the vertical lines, but still. I know it’s there.

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So we live and learn (or maybe we don’t, because I’m super tempted to make it again with one of the other more plain ginghams).

Anyway, onto the third and final dress that I made for this little flame haired angel. I used Simplicity 8661, all pretty standard except I added the ruffle because she’s a tall angel. The black and white gingham is mid weight cotton with the large and small checks, just like the red and pink colourway.

I don’t have much to say about this one. I love it, it worked well and I’d make her 10 more in a heartbeat. Now allow me to spam you with photos of her.

Alright, well done for making it all the way down here. I’ll just recap a little with my top tips for sewing with gingham:

  1. Patterns with relatively straight pieces work well. Curvy bits are more challenging to match.
  2. Let go of some of your high expectations, not all the bits will match unless you’re some kind of magical gingham queen.
  3. The checks can warp close to the selvedge so keep that in mind.
  4. I found it easier to cut pattern pieces individually, rather than on the fold – that way you can make sure everything is square.
  5. Once you’ve cut one of your (say) skirt pieces, you can maneuver it around on the fabric to make sure the horizontal rows match up with the second piece. Same with the sleeves and bodice backs.
  6. Buy more than you think you’ll need, to account for pattern matching and also colourway/check size matching.
  7. Have a think about what scale checks you want on what part of your body. Same with the different colourways (no apron hips if that’s not your jam!).
  8. Don’t cut into your bloody pattern pieces for pockets. I know you won’t though.
  9. Wear gingham if you like gingham. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
  10. Breathe. Make a cup of tea. Eat some chocolate. Sewing is supposed to be fun!

Ok, has that helped? I hope it helps!

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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.