Two Australia Day Dresses

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Today, the 26th of January is Australia Day and being a bit patriotic and feeling very blessed to be living in this beautiful country, I am dedicating this post to Australia Day and the great Aussie spirit.

As a teenager, I had a t-shirt with the following stanza from the poem “My Country” by Dorothea Mackellar on it and have it in my head ever since:

I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizon,

I love her jewel sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land for me!

The whole poem is much longer, but this is the most celebrated and well known part of it. In a very short few lines I think it sums up the diversity of our big and beautiful country!

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The traditional thing to do on Australia Day is to get together with family and/or friends and have a real Aussie BBQ or spend the day at the beach. And of course you can buy all kinds of weird and wonderful Australiana leading up to the day to help you in your celebrations!

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My first Australia Day dress is made using two different patterns. I used two patterns that I have recently used for other dresses – Burda Young 8517 for the top part of the dress and Butterick B4919 for the full skirt of the dress in trying to replicate this Caroline Constas dress.

Caroline Constas Dress  Caroline Constas Dress2

Burda Pattern 8517a Burda Pattern 8517 Retro Butterick B4919 Retro Butterick B4919b

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I found the perfect fabric for it in the shop a few doors down from The Fabric Store, where they sell all kinds of remnants from Australian clothing brands. It is not exactly the same as the dress I was aiming to copy, but close enough.

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The fabric is a blue and white striped cotton from Gorman – a good quality Australian brand of clothing. It’s a beautiful shirting cotton for only $8/m! I also got a few metres of white rayon from the same store for underlining which was also a bargain at $6/m! The rayon has a beautiful soft, flowing feel to it.

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I don’t think the Caroline Constas dress looks like it has underlining, but I am totally into underlining almost everything these days and used the white rayon to do the job for this dress because I assumed it would be see through and too “flimsy” with out a second layer. I had underlined the front and the back of the top, but when I was getting down to the skirt bit, I found that it would have become too much and too bulky because of all the gathering in the waist. So I decided to leave the skirt without any sort of lining. Luckily for me, it turned out well and not at all see through like I first thought it would be. Because the skirt is gathered a lot and I didn’t think that a narrow elastic would hold it in very well, I used a wider elastic for the waist than for the top and the sleeves. To make the dress a little more interesting, I made the front of the skirt about 8cm shorter than the back. It gradually slopes down on the sides to a longer back that is unfortunately not very evident in the photos.

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I made real button holes for the front patch and used buttons from my very small button stash. I should have made the first button hole a lot lower, which I realised when making the casing for the elastic. It ended up exactly in the spot where the stitching should go and I had to stitch that part from the inside by hand using slip stitch.

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Overall, a nice airy summer dress in a natural fibre that will probably get a lot of wear. I used a red ribbon as a belt in keeping with the Australian flag colours for this post, but a tan leather belt matched with tan sandals and a tan cross body bag would also look great for daywear.

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Since Australia Day happens to be in summer over here, I decided the photos of my Australia Day dresses just had to be at the beach. And my good friend and photographer Meg knew of exactly the right spot! When she told me about it, I immediately knew what kind of props we would need – thanks to and courtesy of Hubs – the keen surfer! Unfortunately, it wasn’t sunny when we got to the beach, but it was still beautiful and quite deserted – which was almost nicer!

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The second Australia Day dress is a synthetic fabric tube dress that I made without a pattern. I just traced around a fitted dress onto the double folded fabric, making sure that the stripes were aligned to match up on each side and the rest was trial and error. Once the dress was sewn together, the back had to be cut a little lower than the front, so I used the stripes as guide lines to make it as even as possible.

The bust part is made using a second layer on the inside that is about 25cm long so that you can wear it without a bra. It has a wide elastic on the top to hold it up and elastic on the lower part of the insert.

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I really like this dress and have worn it quite often. The fabric is a very soft blend of something with lycra, but because it’s matt and not shiny, it doesn’t look like an 80’s leotard lycra!

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Have fun if you are celebrating Australia Day today!

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Styling: Australia thongs: Aldi ($1.99!!!!), vintage red Rip Curl handbag: op shop (borrowed from Meg), red bead necklace: $2 shop, white sunglasses: Zara, brown sunglasses: Tom Ford Margot, surfboard: vintage Rip Curl, silver ring: custom made.

Photography: meggi-design and my other half

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8 thoughts on “Two Australia Day Dresses

  1. Omg sis, red toe nails! Lov it – a real first 😃 Both dresses are fab but the tube one is a killer! Lov the photos, Meg is brilliant and nothing beats that Aussie beach back drop of sand, surf and houses. Happy Oz Day everyone 🇦🇺

  2. Wonderful as usual. The quality of your work is always evident and reliable. Very inspiring – it’s thanks to you Ivona that I have recently become an “Always underline!” convert. Just as with allowing wine to breathe … good fabric deserves it and cheap fabric needs it. Brava!
    Baci Sallyxx
    sarsaparillasal.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Sally,
      I am so glad to hear that I was able to inspire someone in the blogosphere with something I do! That is great! I underline almost everything, but as an experienced sewer, you will know when a garment doesn’t need it. Like your comment on how good fabric deserves it and cheap fabric needs it – you hit the nail on the head with that one!
      Baci back, Ivona x

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