Sewing For Samoa {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

webDSC_6875It occurred to me recently as I was lovingly admiring this dress in my cupboard, that I had actually never blogged it. It’s a really special dress for me and holds a little memory in every one of those sequins, I think.

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Created from one of my favourite patterns in the world, Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress and sewn in a luxurious sequined silk chiffon from the Remnant Warehouse for my husband’s brother’s wedding in Samoa last November.

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Samoa in November (and really most of the year) is hot and humid. As Queenslanders, we are used to a bit of heat and humidity, but this is next level stuff. I knew I wanted a dress from a natural fibre, with beautiful drape and fabric that just offered something a tiny bit extra. Enter The Remnant Warehouse. They stock a huge variety of designer remnants so it’s the place I stalk online when I want something extra special.

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I cut my pieces very carefully and following some info I’d read online, started painstakingly removing sequins from the seam allowances. THIS. WAS. THE. WORST. It would have taken a year of unpicking in front of the tv each night. Further research online showed a few rebels that just sewed over the suckers. I held my breath and gave that a go and… nothing. Totally fine. No causalities (eyes or needles). These sequins were quite small and soft, as well as not too close together, so sewing over them was completely fine. Phew. Life saver. The cut ones are scratchy though, so I did french seams wherever possible and trimmed any rogue sequins out of the way.

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I stitched the hem of the dress and sleeves by hand because I didn’t want any stitching showing from the outside. It was totally worth taking the extra time and care. I did the same with the front and back facing pieces, after removing all the sequins from those so they weren’t rubbing against my skin. After initially thinking all those sequins were individually knotted, with trial and error I found the magic unraveling thread in each bunch. It was heaps of fun to pull it and watch gold sparkles fly around my lounge room (side note: what they say is true, 8 months on I’m still vacuuming those buggers up).

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I didn’t want to line the dress so I made a slip out of cream silk voile which worked really well. The sequins make the dress heavy though and you can see it’s a fair bit longer than my others in the sleeves and the actual length. I don’t mind at all though.

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I photographed the wedding, so it was important I was comfortable and could move around easily – hence the sandals too. But let’s be clear – if you ever see me wearing heels, chase me down and tackle me because I can guarantee it’s an imposter. I never put myself through that kind of torture.

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One of my husband’s lovely cousins grabbed the camera off me a few times through the day to make sure I was photographed too. It was very sweet and I’m so grateful to have these images. Note to self: phone does not belong in the pocket of this dress!

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In other news, my sister in law (to be, at that stage) asked if I’d make her a dress to wear to her reception. She pretty much had the same pre requisites as me, but wanted a sleeveless dress and something with a lot of skirt.

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She came over and we sat together in my sewing room, digging through my patterns. We settled on Simplicity 8013, which is a reissue of a 70s faux wrap dress. There is a massive 8 metres of rayon in this dress, it’s a huge fabric hog. The skirt is made up of big panels all gathered together and it’s so delightfully swishy and full. I fully lined the bodice to eliminate the facings and provide a bit more coverage because the fabric is so light.

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It was very nerve wracking sewing for someone else, especially someone with a body shape so different to mine, but it all worked out ok in the end. She looked so beautiful moving around the reception.

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PS I made the flower girl dresses too.

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And if you’ve made it this far, well done. Here’s a gratuitous selection of images from our stay. Yes, I made the boys’ shirts too. Ok, enough words.

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Blatant Plagiarism {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

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It’s another Sew House Seven Tea House Dress! The one that I had planned all along, but first I made a top version and a dress version in less fancy fabric. And even though I didn’t love that first one, I wear the second one at least once a week. I know this new version is going to be on high rotation too.

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Oh does it look familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen it on SH7’s Instagram? Yeah. It was that exact dress that made me buy the pattern. This is a shameless and blatant copy of the lovely Sarah Watts’ dress. Sorry Sarah. Can you blame me though? LOOK AT IT.

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If you’ve never felt Cotton and Steel’s rayon before, let me try to describe it to you. It’s soft like kitten ears, drapes like an angel’s…outfit but still has a decent amount of body so you don’t cry when you get around to the sewing part. It’s the greatest. You should totally get some. Mine is from here.

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You know what I love about this pattern? It is so bloody beautifully drafted. It’s amazing. There’s quite a lot of pieces, which can be overwhelming, but the instructions are so delightfully clear and helpful that it all goes together like a dream. Everything lines up and fits together like a lovely puzzle. The second greatest thing is that there are no buttons or zip – it goes over your head and then you cinch it in at the waist with the ties.

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If you’ve read my previous posts about making this dress, you’ll know that the front yoke facing is the most tricky part. This time I went slowly, pressed the hell out of everything and decided to hand sew the facing in instead. The result is a much nicer finish and far less swearing than trying to do it on the machine. My hand sewing would make Frankenstein weep, but I still prefer it anyway.

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Cute little box pleat and waist ties from the back.

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This dress is going to be my summer uniform. There will be more. Oh yes. There will be more.

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Round Two {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

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You might remember my first version of the Tea House Top wasn’t all that successful due to my fabric choice. I vowed that I would make it again and here we are! I’m actually auditioning patterns for a wedding we have later this year in Samoa. An island wedding means the dress code isn’t very formal and because I’m also shooting said wedding, I need to be able to move around easily without worrying about what I’m wearing.

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On its own this dress actually looks quite casual, but I think with the right fabric, jewellery, shoes and hair it would be suitable. I still have another couple of patterns to try though. I’ve still got a few months to decide but I’m trying to be more organised for the first time in my life.

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So, fabric is Telio Crepe De Chine from fabric.com and the pattern is Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress. I put in a sizeable fabric.com order last weekend and bought 4 yard lots of a few different fabrics specifically to see what would work best for this style of dress. Yes I bought some of the awesome Cotton and Steel tulip print rayon. I might even save that for the wedding version. Not sure yet.

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If you read about my last version, you’ll recall I chose a really rubbish fabric and the front yoke facing nearly ended me. Truth is, the crepe de chine I chose this time wasn’t that much better for pressing and behaving, but I was more prepared. I decided to avoid the whole press and stitch down thing and just finished the raw edges with bias tape before stitching down. It’s still rough looking but not as bad as last time. Definitely less swearing involved.

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I think the only other change I made was not tacking those sleeve cuffs up. I like the longer length. My V neck was more successful this time around too.

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I love that there’s no centre back seam and the box pleat looks really neat. I cut the pockets on the bias so those little bees are flying in a different direction and don’t get lost in the rest of the dress.

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I’m so glad I made this one again. I love it like I wanted to love it the first time around.

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It’s Not You, It’s Me {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress/Top}

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It was a post on Cotton and Steel’s instagram that started it all for me. They’d shared a post by Sarah who’d made the most stunning version of this dress from C&S rayon (her design). I bought the pattern less than five minutes later. I so rarely do that. I’m allergic to PDFs so bought the paper version and had to have it shipped from the US. But I just had to have it. And usually I’d sit there an imagine what fabric I’d use and how I’d make it mine, but I really just want an exact copy of Sarah’s dress. To be fair, I think she’s a legend and I love pretty much everything she does.

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The pattern arrived yesterday after about a week or so of winging its way across the seas and I basically ignored my to do list, shoved everything off my desk (not really), traced it out and decided I needed to sew this RIGHT AWAY. Problem was, I didn’t have any suitable fabric. Which seems hilarious if you’ve seen my stash, but most of it is quilting cotton and this dress really needs something with more drape. I dug around and pulled out a few options before actually reading the back of the pattern. I knew the dress was fabric hungry (4.3m) and though, no worries – I’ll make the top first. HOW SENSIBLE OF ME. It would be a toile of sorts and I never make them. But heck, if there’s fitting issues it saves wasting 4.3m of fabric (how on earth do people think sewing your own clothes cheap? Quick calculation: 4m x $20/m = $80 vs about $30 for the Target equivalent. Anyway, I digress).

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Turns out the top likes a bit of fabric too (3.3m) and the only suitable amount I had was some outlandish faux silk that I grabbed from Spotlight over a year ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this crazy fabric. But it’s pretty bright, even for me. Still, I love those Ken Done/Gorman vibes it gives me. What I don’t love? It behaves about as well as a three year old getting dragged through Woolies right on nap time. After a birthday party. And after you took their party bag away. A ticking time bomb of antagonism. Dramatic, no?

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I had been saving it for a skirt, but nup – I had to make this top right now. She’ll be right, mate. No she won’t. The pattern is amazing, truly. Yes, there are a number of pieces but the instructions are very clear and detailed and it is finished beautifully. That was part of the problem. My darling faux silk doesn’t want to be pressed. You can’t have the iron too hot or the fabric will melt but even if pressed under another cloth, she just wanted to spring back up like nothing had ever happened. She could not be steamed into submission. Which was a big problem for that front yoke. Ugh. It’s making me cringe to show you, but I have to.

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Really I should unpick that whole front yoke and hand sew it into place. I might. But I probably won’t. About halfway through I realised I wasn’t going to love it as much as I wanted to, but continued because I’m stubborn like that. Look at the cool yoke and box pleat at the back though. I love the whole Japanese vibe. No closures and the obi style belt ties make it super cool.

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I thought maybe wearing it with ripped skinny jeans would make me feel less high school art teacher and it actually does. But I’m still on the fence a bit. I will definitely make the dress version, but I just need the right fabric. I know it will redeem itself.

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I probably just need to give it a week or so and I will change my mind. To be honest, it’s been a rough week or so. I wasn’t going to talk about it, but a few people have commented, so here’s the overshare. Yes, I have lost some weight. I have been plagued with weird skin problems since I was 14 and at the age of 36, I am done with it. So done. My doctor’s final step was to try some heavy medication that I wasn’t comfortable with so I took matters into my own hands and overhauled what I eat. And guess what? It worked. For the first three months my skin was the clearest it’s been in my adult life. With that change came some weight loss and that’s the reason I’ve been sewing so much for myself recently – half my wardrobe no longer fits. Then about two weeks ago I started getting a new skin problem, not cystic acne this time, but red itchy patches of psoriasis. I’ve been told it’s most likely a reaction to dairy (which I’ve been eating a lot more of recently). So now I’m trialing dropping dairy. It’s harder than dropping sugar and grains because damn, I love dairy. Those cows, they know how to make some delicious stuff.

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A while back, I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for The Curvy Sewing Collective and that was published over the weekend. It was really exciting for me but one tiny FB comment was made about me not being ‘curvy’. And really, why should I let that bother me? But you know, it did. For my whole life, I’ve felt like the fat girl and then, when I felt like I finally fit in somewhere, I’m not curvy enough either? It annoyed me far more than it should have. That’s the thing with blogging and sewing blogging in particular, I think. Body comments will be made. For the most part though, it’s all very positive and rewarding and I don’t do it for anyone but me. I’m selfish like that. So you’re stuck with me, internet.

Ack, too many words. The pattern is tops, my fabric was not. But I’ll be back with another version when I get some kick ass fabric. The end.

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