Frankensale dress!

sarahs_avatarSo. As most of you know, local fabric store Potter Textiles recently had a big (50% off) sale. As many of you also know, my office is 138 steps from Potters. So, yeah. No “I will only sew from my stash” new year resolutions for me… the fabric was on sale! 😀

In the sale, I impulse purchased a patterned viscose. I *must* have seen this fabric on the racks many times before… but it had clearly never grabbed my attention. But this time – I could picture exactly the dress I was going to make!

The dress is based on the Sewaholic Cambie pattern which I had made once before… which, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about! Whoops. Here’s what I ended up with ::


I opted to make the sweetheart neckline less pronounced  (though in hindsight I wish I’d straightened it). But otherwise, I made the bodice pretty much to the pattern (with a few small fitting adjustments).

Here’s the dress from the back (I also wish I’d lifted the back neckline – next time, Gadget! ::DSC04129When I made the pattern the first time, I made it with a full skirt. This time, I was making a work dress, so wanted a  a narrower skirt. Having borrowed the pattern from a friend, I didn’t have the pattern pieces for the a-line skirt option which came with the pattern. So I franken-pieced the skirt together using a pattern piece I’d made for an earlier skirt, and then used the pocket pieces/yoke etc from a pair of shorts I’d made! 😛

Here’s how the pockets ended up looking ::


Dresses with pockets are the bestest! I also added belt loops to a dress for the first time. Ace! Also – did you notice my pattern matching on the side seam there? (Sure it’s not like matching stripes or anything… but I made an effort! It counts!)

Want to know the other secret of the dress? Well, I might have had trouble distinguishing the right side of the fabric from the wrong side when I first started sewing. So I might have sewn the darts in backwards. Unfortunately the needle marked the fabric quite badly, sew I decided against unpicking the darts, and instead decided to justify them as a “feature”! 😉 Sneaky, eh? Turns out the busy-ness of the fabric means the outward facing darts aren’t all that obvious anyway!DSC04135

Final thing to say? The dress is fully lined using the lovely black silk-cotton (also purchased on sale from Potters). Lovely, lovely. 🙂

Btw – are you friends with Potter Textiles on Facebook? If not, send them a friend request here::


A summer Gabby

sarahs_avatarMy second sewing project of the Christmas break was my (second) Gabby top!

“Gabby” is a AU$6 downloadable, print-at-home pattern from Tessuti. The pattern is technically a dress, but I opted to shorten it into a top. Gabby is a really simple pattern – it’s made up of a front piece, back piece, sleeves… no zippers/buttons, no darts! As a result it’s a quick and easy sew!

I made the pattern up out of a light weight cotton lawn from Spotlight. (As an aside, I love that Spotlight are now stocking a lot more pretty cotton fashion fabrics… though truth be told, the vast majority of the lawns are in colours/patterns which are no good for me. But, when I spotted these green polka dots, I knew this was a pattern I would wear!)

So, here’s the top I made (sorry, apparently I only take photos of garments after I’ve been wearing them all day ;-)). It’s perfect for summer – cotton, light and breezy.



This is the top from the back…

DSC04122The neckline of the top is finished with bias binding. Now, just between you and me… I didn’t originally intend for the binding to be a contrast/feature – I accidently just sewed it on backwards, and couldn’t be bothered unpicking it! But, sometimes you get lucky, and you end up LOVING the mistake you made! 😀 Oh, and somehow I managed to get the bias binding to sit perfectly flat. Not sure what I did to achieve this, but you take it when it happens, right?!

DSC04127So far I’ve made 2 of these tops, and I have plans for one more – 2012 was a good year for finding patterns worth repeating! HUZZAH! 🙂



Ridiculous(ly comfortable) trousers

sarahs_avatarSo, I had an idea for a pair of trousers… the idea wouldn’t go away, so I decided to just make it happen! I am now the owner of a pair of super comfortable extremely wide-legged blue linen trousers. 🙂

The pattern for these trousers was built from Burda 7654 – a pair of culottes (not that you’d probably know to look at them)! Oh, and no, I don’t remember what the Kwik Sew ref written on the pattern was in regards to. :-S

Culotte pattern

I removed the ugly pleats from the front, shifted the zipper to the side seam (removing the fly front), added back pockets, and lined the upper part of the trousers .

Please excuse all the creases in the photos, and remember that a) these trousers are 100% linen (crease-inevitability) and b) I’ve been wearing them all afternoon…

Nb. My photos have inserted out of order, but I can’t be bothered to change them around… so we’re starting with the back view!

The front view. IMHO, the volume of these trousers mean that I need a fitted top to wear with them – I bought this one (for cheap) specially for the purpose!

I added back pockets, with some detail… just because.


As you can see from this final photo, I lined just the arse-area with some silk cotton (also from Potters). I wasn’t 100% convinced that the linen wasn’t see-through, so I added a lining to the top just to be sure! I used the selvedge for the bottom of the lining (rather than a hem) to avoid any lines/bulk. This worked well. Blue linen trousers (inside)

So, there you have it. Blue linen SUPER wide-legged, summer-friendly trousers… just because. Consider that itch scratched. 😉

[This was my first sewing project of my Christmas break. Two more to come!]

Pattern Magic dress for work!

Since my first post on attempting a pattern from Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic book over 12 months ago  (remember the boob hole? :-P), I’ve played around drafting a few other patterns from the book. A few months ago I decided I wanted (another) black work dress – but a more INTERESTING ONE this time. So I went decided to go back and re-try Musubu: Bow B! (Technically this was my third attempt of the pattern, the second became a white linen top, which unfortunately ended up discoloured and had to be thrown out – boo!).

This time, I wanted to incorporate the Bow B bodice fanciness into the bodice of a new dress. I used some black textured (striped) cotton from Potters for the dress, and this is what I ended up with!

First note – the skirt’s shorter than I intended. But by the time I realised it was about 4cm shorter than I wanted, it was too late! Oops! But definitely skill wearable, so that’s okay.

As the photo below shows, the dress is sleeveless. The dress isn’t lined (too difficult!), so I used bias binding around the sleeves, and around the edges of the bow.

Below is a slightly close(r) up of the bow. There’s a few small… let’s call them “quirks” that are apparent to me in this picture/to me when I wear it.

Quirk 1) relates to the fact that my block is a bit dodgy. The dress I originally developed the block from, had a scooped back neckline… and while I raised the back neckline, you can see in the photo below that the collar still sits a little too far from by neck. It’s no deal-breaker though!

Quirk 2) See (above) how the fabric above the bust doesn’t sit flat? The bow is meant to pull that fabric flat, but what I *think* has happened is that I sewed the collar too far down the front loop (see below) – leaving excess fabric not pulled through into the bow. Does that make sense?

Thankfully, none of the very minor “quirks” of this dress affects its wearability at all, so it gets worn quite often! Yay!

A bridesmaid in a Crepe dress!

Recently, my friend C was a bridesmaid for her sister’s wedding. Her sister decided to buy multiple Colette patterns for the dresses, and 5 different shades of green-ish  raw silk for the bridesmaids dresses to be made out of. Four of the bridesmaids had their dresses made for them, but C (who’s still a relative sewing beginner) decided that she wanted to try and make her own (with my assistance). Fun!

When C asked me to help, she’d already had a first go at making the Crepe dress pattern up. The Crepe dress is a beginner-level wrap dress pattern. I’ve made it multiple times for myself! In C’s first version, there were some clear fitting issues, mostly related to the placement of the darts, and the length of the bodice. So, we did some fitting of the dress bodice to begin with. We made up a couple of muslins, in order to test moving/shortening the position of both the bottom and side bust darts slightly, and shortened the bodice. These changes made a huge difference – I wish I had photos to show you!

Going through the muslin-making process, I had to explain to C how important it is to be really accurate in sewing your darts, and keeping your seam allowances just the right width. In the early stages, I even drew 1.5cm red lines for her to sew along (on white fabric) in order to keep the muslin accurate, and make my point! Sorry I don’t have any photos to share of the muslin stage to show how big the difference in the before/after was… 😦

Here’s the dress we ended up with, the photos of which were taken at the end of the wedding evening, so please excuse the slight crumpledness etc!

I *wish* I knew why the bust has a weird “dent” in it in this photo 😦 … I swear it fits so well! We also cut a square neckline rather than the sweetheart neckline, at C’s request – nice, eh?

Isn’t that back neckline gorgeous?! Unfortunately the bride decided that she wanted the ties to be tied in a bow at the back (rather than wrapped again and tied at the front as the dress is designed). This made me sad – IMHO, it looks much better with the fabric ties running around the waist twice, rather than once… but the bride gets what she wants on her wedding day!

There was lots of hand sewing in this dress – the hem (which is very, very long) was invisible stitched (I had to teach C how to do this), as were all the facings – I didn’t want visible top stitching lines on a bridesmaids dress! But otherwise, it’s really quite a simple dress to make.  Oh, and did you notice the pocket, just visible, in the second picture? Pockets in dresses… even bridesmaid dresses… #FTW! 😉

Unfortunately, C has just moved with her family to Albany, so I won’t be able to drag her along to any meets in coming months… but I reckon she’s got the sewing bug now (and a well-fitted pattern to re-make!).

Little black shirt dress

A year or so ago I found a pattern (Burda 3504) in an op shop. I’m not sure when the pattern was published, but I think it’s safe to say that the styling, at least, is more than a little 80s! 😛 But, despite the styling, it really is a great, simple pattern for a dress that everyone needs! At the time I found this pattern, I was in need of a new black shirt dress – my current, shop-bought one was quite faded (due to much wear) and definitely not as black as I desired… so #WIN!

I made up a practice version of the pattern first, and decided to make a few alterations. The most important change required was to change the sleeves – the pattern didn’t even come close to accommodating my upper arms! After a bunch of googling/reading I found a tutorial which showed me how slice and dice the pattern piece so as to keep the armscye the same size, but add width around the bicep. Fixing this pattern piece was one of the best things I’ve ever done – I NOW USE THIS SLEEVE PATTERN PIECE  IN ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!

So, here’s the dress I ended up with >>

The dress is made out of a black cotton from Potters. The stock number is something like #2950… #2905? Hrmm… I don’t really remember. It’s a cotton that Potters generally have in stock out the back (I’ve never seen it on the racks in the show room), and it comes in a range of colours (I’ve also bought it in navy blue and red). It took me ages to find the sort of cotton I wanted to make this dress out of. None of the big-box fabric stores had anything of even close to the right weight – all the cottons were quilting cotton weight or heavier, whereas I was looking for more of a lawn/voile weight. This fabric is pretty good weight-wise, thought while I think it isn’t see through, I tend to wear a slip under dresses made out of it… just in case!

This is the 3rd dress I’ve made using this pattern. There’s another one made out of navy blue (with 3/4 length sleeves), and another one out of black, with 3/4 length sleeves and gold buttons. The one with the gold buttons was actually the first version I made, inspired by this picture.

Now, truth be told, I am contemplating one more dress using this pattern (other than the replacement needed when this one gets worn out)… I’m not generally a maxi-dress person, but this picture seems to have gotten to me! But, we’ll all just have to wait and see whether or not I ever get around to it making it!

Oh, and yes. My new pink shoes are awesome! (My tights had to be put away with the arrival of warmer weather… so I needed to add some colour in some other way!)

The culmination of many ideas…

So, this new top was, as the title suggests, the culmination of many ideas. These ideas included:

  • I wanted to make a top with a peplum. I’ve wanted to make one since before they were all over the shops.
  • My housemate had asked me if I knew how to replicate this dress. I thought I’d attempt to figure it out (thanks to Vanessa for being my dark manipulation inspiration!).
  • I wanted to use my bodice block to make a top (I’d only made dresses using it up until now).
  • I’d been wondering about wearing linen. I’ve always thought of linen as a crumply old ladies’ fabric… but then Potters had some in such pretty colours!

So, I came up with a plan to address all this thinking etc in one go, and here’s what I came up with (excuse the jeans – this top clearly needs some straight/skinny leg jeans, as opposed to an old pair of worn out jeans, to go with it!) ::

The top I came up with:

1. Has a not-insignificant, self-drafted peplum. I’m pretty psyched with the peplum – I think it has just the right amount of flare.

2. Is based on my bodice block (with some bonus dart manipulation). Hopefully you can see in the pattern piece below, I slashed and then folded out the dart which usually goes from the waist up towards the bust point. I repositioned the dart to come out of the neckline as a visible folded detail instead!

3. Has 3 different types of finishing thanks to my overlocker being in for repair – overcasting stitches around the facings and sleeve holes, bias binding on the side seam withe the invisible zipper, and french seams everywhere else (other side seam, waist seam etc).

4. Is made out of Potters linen – it’s a gorgeous pinky red. However, I’m still not completely sold on linen. Not sure I can cope with this appearance of permanent crumpled-ness!

Overall, I’m putting this top down as a just-okay. I think it will get a reasonable amount of wear… but it’s not LOVE. Mostly because of the linen, but also because the peplum takes more styling effort than a normal top. But, it was a good experience to make this top, and fun to try out so many new things!