Chloe Collection

When the Chloe spring/summer 2016 collection came out, I flicked through the pictures of each garment on the runway and fell in love with the dresses, top and skirt in the pictures below. They all have a girly retro look about them. I really like the bows and the top stitching. So of course I decided to copy one (for now) and decided it would be the first dress with the two bows on the shoulders – also in navy but without the extreme low cut front.

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By doing some research on the internet, I found out that the Chloe dress was made in crepe. I didn’t have navy crepe in my stash, so I thought a navy ponte knit would do the job. I find ponte knit very easy to sew and work with and also nice to wear. Unfortunately I didn’t think about how thick the ponte would be when it came to top stitching. There was a reason for the crepe and not ponte knit in the Chloe collection. But if you don’t look too close…

My ponte knit was from a remnant fabric/clothing store that sells remnants from Australian fashion labels, which I have mentioned a few times on my blog. I stop by every now and then to see what they have in stock when I am in the area, as they are only a few doors down from one of my favourites – The Fabric Store.

I am quite sure it’s a rayon ponte knit because of the beautiful drape of the fabric. And it doesn’t have a synthetic feel to it.

In the photos the ponte comes across as a deep blue but that is just the lighting in the pictures. It is in fact a medium navy blue.

I had to make up the pattern for this dress myself, as I didn’t really have anything similar in my pattern stash. So trial and error it was again until I thought it looked ok! The dress is a slight A line, so it wasn’t rocket science.

I guessed the length of the ties by studying photos of the original on the internet and in magazines and made them a bit longer just in case. Cutting off is easier than regretting and redoing…

The original Chloe dress has a plunging V in the front and back, which was not for me and my bra shapes! So I cut it to a more modest and wearable depth.

The only real issue I had with this dress was the top stitching, which I did with white top stitching thread. The ponte knit was just too thick to top stitch through well and tidily in the shoulder area. Double layers of fabric were fine, but four layers were just too much. The tension was constantly wrong and I had to undo lots of it and start again and again until it was satisfactory at least. Such a pain!

I am not super proud of the result, but I think I can get away with it.

We took the photos of my Chloe dress at Mt Buffalo, while holidaying in beautiful Bright, Victoria. It’s autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and the temperature at Mt Buffalo’s Torpedo Rock (almost at the peak) was a cool 9 degrees Celsius, while down below in town it was 22 degrees! Straight back into the jeans and warm gear after the photos!

Keep sewing and until next time!

STYLING: sunglasses – Carlina Square by Chloe, shoes – Zara, ring – Apart Fashion

LOCATION: Torpedo Rock, Mt Buffalo, Victoria

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Monstera Print Playsuit

Hello fellow sewcialists! It’s been a too long break from my dear sewing blog once again. I was hoping that this year would start off in a more relaxed way and I would have things planned out perfectly to execute all my sewing dreams and fantasies in a most organised fashion… But I couldn’t be more busy than I am now with work, kids, household… So my therapeutic hobby and passion has to take a back seat a lot of the time. There are no big new year’s resolutions for sewing this year, as last year’s went out the window almost a month or two after I had written them down. The most impossible one being not to buy any new fabrics and sew from my stash….ahem… A bit like a child going into a lolly shop and being told they can only look and not have anything. Not going to happen. Ever.

Despite being busier as time goes by, I am constantly making or fixing something. I just don’t always have the time to get everything photographed and blogged. Still, I managed to squeeze in this little monstera print playsuit before autumn turns into a real autumn with it’s underlying chill.

I found this very trendy fabric while cruising past the furnishing fabric section of Spotlight on my way to get some notions and couldn’t resist the beautiful green of the monstera leaf print. Even though it’s not categorised as a dress fabric, it is quite soft and looks just like a linen. But I am guessing it has some polyester in it or is completely polyester. It’s hard to tell these days with some of the high tech fabrics. Whatever! It has a good feel to it and is very easy to sew. I was naughty and didn’t wash the fabric before sewing, so time will tell if I am going to pay the price for it…

I think Tommy Bahama started this whole leaf craze with upholstery and furnishing fabric in banana leaf prints. It took some time, but eventually all kinds of leaf prints filtered down to the fashion industry and now they are everywhere!

When I bought the fabric, I wasn’t sure if I should make a high waisted, strapless maxi dress with a pleated skirt or something different altogether. Being a definite dress person, I decided I should dare to try something different. Somewhere in my wardrobe, I have this cute Zara playsuit that is white cotton jacquard in a slight A-line form. I love the shape of it and pondered making a similar one in this leaf print.

  

The jacquard of the Zara playsuit is quite a lot thicker than my leafy fabric and is also lined, giving it a good A-line shape when worn. So I was sure that I would definitely line my playsuit to give it a good shape. Making the pattern wasn’t very easy because the Zara playsuit has lining that is attached to the top and bottom. So lying it flat was a bit difficult to make a pattern, but as always, with a bit of fiddling around, it worked out ok in the end. To be on the safe side, I cut it out a little wider than the Zara playsuit. I wasn’t sure if I wanted the hassle of matching the pattern of the leaf or not. I decided to match it in the front as best I could and not on the rest of the playsuit because it was eating up all the fabric I still had. And in the most unpractical parts of the fabric too! Plus, I still wanted to make something else out of the remnants.

Then I had to decide whether to put two pleats in the front or take in the sides a bit to take out some of the fullness.  I ended up putting in a pleat on either side to keep the leg wide enough to move in comfortably. For now I am happy with it as it is. But I may play around with it somewhere down the track and see what it looks like if I take the sides in a bit instead.

The top inside of the bodice has a strip of clear elastic sewn onto the edge so that it has contact with the skin and doesn’t stick out due to the roundish shape of it.

I lined it in an off white crepe that I had lying around in my stash and covered the seams in a bright green bias binding to add a bit of a punch to the inside. The back has an invisible zip.

I think it has turned out well. At at least better than I was expecting for something without a real pattern and lots of trial and error involved. I have enjoyed wearing it a few times already.

A playsuit can be a casual or more going-out thing, as always, depending on how you style it with accessories. Wear flats and a cross body bag for a more casual look and heels and a clutch for a bit of class.

I wore my playsuit with my shoes of the moment: perspex heels. Not being the tallest person, I like to wear nude or perspex heels to elongate my stature. Due to the large print on the fabric, I felt that too many accessories would be an overkill and take away from the garment. So I left off anything more than a chunky silver ring, my watch and sunglasses.

Happy sewing until next time!

      

 

LOCATION: Portsea Village Resort, Victoria

STYLING: sunglasses – Carlina Square by Chloe, heels – Windsor Smith from Hello Molly, watch – Gucci, ring – Apart Fashion.

#2017makenine

So, I know I’m mega late with this one – life has gotten out of control once again! But I just wanted to share my #2017makenine with you before the year gets any older!

Of course I am aiming waaaay too high (again) this year when I think of the list of makes I have planned for 2017. But here are nine that I would really like to complete before the year is out.

Number 1 – Ralph Lauren stripy summer dress as seen on the runway. Not sure which collection it’s from (I found it on Pinterest). Also not sure I will be able to get the gorgeous blue/lilac stripy fabric for it…

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Number 2 – Alex Perry dress that I need to hack. I got the original fabric for the skirt part from Tessuti fabrics and had a look at the original dress at Myer. Hope I can do it justice!

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Number 3 – Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1104.

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Number 4 – Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 8124. One down, two to go (playsuit is done – see my previous post).

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Number 5 – Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1105.

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Number 6 – Retro Butterick B6318 in stripes.

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Number 7 – Vintage Simplicity 7000 short sleeveless playsuit.

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Number 8 – Vintage Simplicity 7431 short version dress. I made the long version, which you can see here.

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Number 9 – Vintage Vogue 2414 strapless dress without jacket.

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Sew many things to make, yet sew little time in between life’s duties…sigh…

Happy sewing in 2017 everyone!

 

Australia Day Outfit 2017 – Simplicity 8124

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Happy belated new year everyone! I hope you have all had a great start to the year. I have had a much too long break from sewing and blogging over the last two months (at least). So it was high time to get the ball rolling again. I realised that I had missed sewing so much when I started to sew this Cynthia Rowley jumpsuit, playsuit or romper – whatever you want to call it! Sewing is always so therapeutic for me, except for when I have to unpick bits and redo them. That ends up having the opposite effect! But yes, I really missed my sewing and blogging.

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I bought this pattern late last year at a Spotlight pattern sale and want to make all the garments that the pattern contains this summer. Soon after, I bought this beautiful 100% cotton also from Spotlight with a wattle print on it and immediately thought I would make a dress out of it.

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So I started to make a maxi dress and it was almost finished. I tried it on and suddenly decided it was too boring and that I probably wouldn’t wear it much or at all. Since my wardrobe space is extremely limited, I had to make a wise decision. The decision was to deviate to the playsuit by Cynthia Rowley. Luckily, the maxi dress had a straight cut and gathered skirt which was big enough for me to be able to cut out the whole playsuit pattern from. I just wasn’t sure whether I should use the XS or the S size after reading numerous reviews on this pattern. Most of them said that the sizing was very generous and voluminous. So I cut out size S, also leaving the XS markings as an option if I needed them.

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Because the wattle print cotton is white and could be see-through in light, I used an eggshell coloured silk/cotton to underline it with. The only adjustment I made to the cut, was to lengthen the hem of the shorts by about 4cm.

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The playsuit was very easy to make. It would have been a lot quicker if I had had the correct width of elastic in my stash. I didn’t, and had to cut some down to the right width and couldn’t get it into the tunnel even then! So frustrating trying to pull it through with a safety pin multiple times and it not fitting through. In the end, the pin broke in the tunnel and I had to pull it out and cut it down by another 1mm to make it fit! But that was the biggest drama of the pattern! The rest was a piece of cake.

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I like the end product but do find that when the top is worn off the shoulder it causes a not too nice looking bulge around the waistline. I don’t know what the solution to this is, because if you only wear it off the shoulder, that’s fine, but if you also want to wear it on the shoulder, there would not be enough length in the bodice…sometimes you can’t win. Still, I do like the pattern and if I do make it again, I will shorten the bodice just a little to allow for a nicer looking waistline if worn off the shoulder, which I prefer.dsc_1724aAustralia Day has come and gone and I was too busy on the day to blog this little playsuit, but here it is – my 2017 Australia Day outfit. This can easily be casual or dressed up depending on your fabric and accessory choice.dsc_1293a

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STYLING: sunglasses – Chloe, flat sandals – bought in Amalfi, Italy, heels – Steve Madden, belt – Witchery, wreath – synthetic wattle from Spotlight

LOCATION: Bayside walking trail, Mentone

Palace Masquerade

DSC_9834bThis dress is very special to me. Not for being obviously fancy, but because I made it when I was 18 years old, which seems like in another life now! I clearly remember being totally obsessed with everything eighteenth century: architecture and palaces, music, paintings, furniture and garments. Especially the candy-coloured ballgowns of the aristocratic ladies. Just because they were all so pretty and beautiful to look at. I devoured any costume film I could get my hands on and lived and breathed this period of time. If wishing hard enough could have transported me back in time to the eighteenth century, I would have been in Versailles to witness the scandalous pomp of Louis XVI’s court.

DSC_9498aLike most girls I love the fairytale of Cinderella. Back then, after watching the musical film “The Slipper and the Rose” for the umpteenth time with my sister, I decided I would make a ball gown similar to the one in the film. My seamstress grandmother who lived with us and had taught me how to sew thought I was out of my mind! She only made sensible, real clothing for everyday wear. But that didn’t stop me….I was off in fairytale land!

slipper-and-rose-filmMy main problem was finding a pattern for this, this grand-dame-of-a-dress! I had absolutely no idea where to get a pattern for such a garment.

I know this gown was meant to happen because the next time I walked into my local library, there it was! The book “Patterns of Fashion 1” by Janet Arnold with real eighteenth century patterns staring me in the face from a display shelf! I couldn’t believe my luck! I didn’t even have to go looking for it! I found exactly the pattern I was after in the book – the gown from The Snowshill Manor, dated 1775 – 1785. The next hurdle was that the pattern had to be enlarged from about A3 (on which all pattern pieces were drawn) to real life size. So I did what had to be done. Got lots of huge pieces of paper, stuck them all together and made a grid according to the scale in the book with my 30cm ruler! Then I copied the pattern square for square by hand with a lead pencil. It was more than tedious but my grandmother had paper on a roll that was about 150cm wide and that definitely helped instead of piecing small sheets together. I was totally risking the size of the dress, as I had no idea whether it would fit me or not by just looking at the pattern pieces in the book. And there weren’t many instructions either.  But guess what? It was a perfect fit! Another stroke of luck!

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My gown was destined to be pink, just like in the film. So I bought pink satin, taffeta, ribbon and sequins in silver, see-through ones that shimmer in rainbow colours and tiny beads silver beads. I also bought white lace for the underskirt, the sleeves and the stomacher. I used the pattern for the cut and made my own adornments on the gown as I researched the decorations of the time. They didn’t use sequins back then, so that isn’t traditional, but the rest of the decorations could have been used during the rococo period.

I made my own satin roses by folding a strip of satin (right sides together), sewing the ends together, turning the strips to the right side and then gathering the bottom end and rolling it into a rose shape. The leaves are made of pale green satin.

For the ribbon decoration either side of the overskirt, I folded the ribbon in even folds and hand stitched it before machine sewing it in place on the gown.

I also bought a few bunches of fabric flowers in pink and white on thin wire stems and poked them through the folded ribbon around the stomacher, the top edges of the bodice and the skirt ruffle and hand sewed them in place.

This is one of my old photos of the gown after I had just finished it off.

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DSC_9353a     DSC_9671a The most challenging part of the construction for me was the boned stomacher of the gown. In the infancy of my sewing experience, I was not aware that I could have just bought synthetic boning. I had read that the ladies in the eighteenth century used real whale bones in their corsets to stiffen them. They were inserted in the narrow tunnels of the garment that had been sewn for the bones. Since I was more than unlikely to find whale bones for this purpose and being very creative and inventive as I was, I found something that was actually quite easy to access – a metal coat hanger, or two, or three. I used pliers to cut the lengths I needed and straightened them. Then, after sewing the narrow tunnels I inserted each piece. That worked quite well and the metal was very stiff too. They don’t make metal coat hangers like they used to! The problem was that the ends were sharp and I wasn’t sure if the metal would rust at some stage. I encased the ends as best I could by folding over the edge of the fabric and covering it with a white ribbon edging. They haven’t rusted yet in over 25 years! Did I just say 25 years!?

DSC_9401a                     dsc_9180aThe bodice is completely lined in white linen – as they did so in those days. Even though some of the dress isn’t made using the materials and adornments that would have been used back in the eighteenth century, I did try to make it as close as possible to the original construction of the day, using modern construction methods of a sewing machine!

I was going to make a traditional petticoat, or paniers as some say at some stage, but never got around to it, so I just used a tulle layered skirt to puff up the dress as best as possible.

Here are some “real, old” photos of me wearing the gown in the Schlosspark in the early 1990s:

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img_0177a1And in July this year…

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During the many years I lived in Germany (at one stage only 5 mins walk away from the palace gardens where these photos were taken), I had tried to convince my other half to go the Venice Carnevale with me so that I could actually wear this creation. But to no avail. He would not be seen dead in stockings, knicker-bocker style pants and a wig and that was that! So this grand dame has only come out of the closet for a few photos and not much else in a very long time.

Looking back on this gown, I do feel the itch to make another one in another colour and cut. I started to make one in a heavy cream satin with gold embroidery that is about half way there but never finished it off for some reason. Maybe when winter hits again and the evenings are long, I will get back to completing it.

Hand sewing and beading are real highlights for me. I find it quite therapeutic to tack and hand stitch my clothes and actually really dislike having to sew them together on the sewing machine. I guess that’s why I loved making this ballgown. Amongst all the different parts that make up this gown, my favourite detail would have to be the sleeves. I absolutely love bell or gathered sleeves. Interesting to see bell sleeve garments making a huge come back at the moment…  DSC_9985a

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Beautiful tunnel of 300 year old beech trees at the Schlosspark

 

STYLING: mask – handmade Venetian, necklace and bracelet – Zara, shoes – stilista

LOCATION: Palace gardens Schlosspark, Brühl, Germany

Heidi in the Mountains – Vintage Simplicity 7431

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Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo here comes my Heidi dress! This dress is appropriately named Heidi because we photographed it in the beautiful, mountainous region of Bavaria, Germany, while on our holiday.

I found this stunning 70’s pattern while browsing through Etsy and couldn’t wait for it to arrive! It took about 5 weeks to reach me from Canada and the seller and I thought it had gone missing in the post. But when it did finally get here, I went hunting for the perfect fabric. The things that really grabbed me when I first saw this pattern were the colour white, the long dress, the big collar, the halterneck and the big pockets – a lot of 70s elements that I just adore! I love the cover dress in white, so white it had to be!

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White Waffle Pique FabricI was after a fabric with some texture to make it more interesting, preferably a natural fibre. Tessuti in Melbourne came to the rescue with it’s white waffle pique fabric in 100% cotton. I got some for the dress and realised that I had looked at the pattern for the short version of the dress and not the long one! So after playing around with the pattern pieces in every possible position, I managed to just, just squeeze out the maxi dress! After I was finished making it, I ordered some more of this gorgeous fabric for a top because of the beautiful quality. Lucky I did, because soon after it was sold out!

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The skirt has a front panel, two side panels and the back panel is split in two to accommodate the zip. So there are no side seams as in most typical dresses/skirts.

The bodice with it’s curvy pattern pieces is fully interfaced with the waffle pique and the pockets are cut on the bias, which is why you need so much fabric! I underlined the skirt part of the dress and the pockets in a white cotton voile, to give it a bit more shape and structure. This took more time and the skirt could have done without it because the fabric isn’t too thin, but I couldn’t help myself! I tend to underline almost everything these days! I somehow always want to get the runway look in my clothes. The designers seem to present their collections with their garments looking like they sway with the body and have a kind of soft “stiffness”, if you know what I mean. I read somewhere that some designers don’t always line their garments, but most do underline them.

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The sewing itself is pretty straight forward. There is quite a bit of top stitching to do and I was debating on whether I should do it or not due to the texture in the waffle pique fabric, but thought “what the heck” and went ahead with it. I do think it looks better with top stitching as it defines the bodice more than without it.

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I used a special top stitching thread in white that needed to be tested out first, as the tension on my machine was just not doing it for me. In the end, the top stitching is not flawless but I can live with it. I underlined the big 70s pockets (love big pockets!) as well and they too are topstitched around the edges and the top.

It was nice to see the bodice come together bit by bit and after I had done the top stitching on it, I felt it was a small work of art! It has a good shape, form and fit.

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The dress has a self-belt that I made but didn’t put on for the photos. I am not sure I will ever wear it just because I think it covers too much of the nice “V” shape in the front waist where there also happens to be a lot of top stitching. Not sure what the designers were thinking there when they designed it…

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I bought this pattern in size 10, which is a perfect fit for me without any alterations, except for the length, as I am not the tallest person at only 161cm! I admit I am pretty lazy when it comes to making too many changes and am lucky that most patterns fit me well enough not to have to alter too much about them.

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There is already some denim fabric in my stash waiting to be made up in the knee-length version of this dress at some point during this coming summer (hopefully). It will be more wearable than a long white dress  (I know, I know…) but I couldn’t resist when I saw the pattern photo. I have a real weakness for white clothing! I don’t always make clothes for practical reasons. A lot of the time I will make something with a real passion and fervor just because I love the look of it and the challenge of making it myself with my own spin on it here and there.

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I REALLY wanted to put in an invisible zip in the back of the dress, but that was near to impossible because of the thickness of the fabric with all the top stitching. I personally prefer the zip to be as invisible as possible but had to give in to a standard dress zip this time. I’m not entirely happy with the look of it, but it will have to do… :-(. The halterneck closes via two buttons at the nape of the neck.

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This is definitely a garden party style dress. Just have to wait for the garden party season to start! Melbourne weather is pretty up and down this spring…

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Fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

 

Beautiful Bavaria!

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STYLING: sunglasses: Carlina square by Chloe, necklace: Magnolia silver jewellery, bracelet: Witchery, ring: Apart Fashion

LOCATION: Bad Hindelang, Bavaria, Germany

A New Positano Dress

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If you have been following my blog for a while, you will have seen this post that I have called The Positano Dress.  That was before I ever went to Positano. Now that I have actually been there and wore this dress while we were there, I had to call this dress The New Positano Dress.

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It’s actually a hacked Tibi dress that I knew I had to make when I saw it in a few different fashion blogs in various colours. It came in pale blue, white and black. Then a few months later, the Australian fashion brand Country Road decided to copy the Tibi dress in black, which I was going to have a look at and possibly buy, as it would have been a lot less than the Tibi dress for US$625. But I was too slow! The Country Road dress sold out like hot cakes and so I found myself making my own. Lucky I was able to make one! Too often I see something that I am not prepared to pay a high price for and count myself lucky that I can sew and make it for only the cost of the fabric and notions! Shoes don’t count!!

I like the Tibi dress in all the colours as pictured below, but found that the blue one was very summery and chose to make that one.

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Silly me decided to make this dress in two layers for the skirt. I already had the lining fabric in a dreamy turquoise viscose taffeta from The Fabric Store and then found a perfect match for the top layer also at The Fabric Store – a sea foam coloured cotton voile. A marriage made in heaven! Unfortunately the sea foam colour doesn’t come across in most of the photos, but it’s a beautiful soft turquoise with just a smidgen of green. It would have been a whole lot easier making the skirt out of one layer of fabric instead of two. Especially because of the dip in the hem and trying to make sure the lining was cut and sewn evenly and would not peak out from under the voile. I could have just used a cotton sateen that didn’t need any lining, but no – I had to do it the hard way. Anyway, I must admit, I do like the two layers of the skirt and the feminine feel of it swaying when I walk. Just at the time of sewing it caused me a few headaches!

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I lined the bodice in the same taffeta and made very long ties that can go around my waist twice or just once and make a nice big bow on the side.

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I used the Burda pattern for the bodice and had to cut it a little longer than the waist to make sure I would be able to join the skirt to it without it ending up too short. For the skirt, I used the Butterick vintage pattern that I had used for my first Positano dress because I wanted a full skirt. Then I just added very long ties to both sides of the dress and doubled the fabric because I wanted to be able to tie them up and not have any hemming showing. The voile is thin enough to be able to make them that way without looking too bulky when they are tied up.

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The right side has an invisible zip that I managed to find in a close enough colour to the fabric.

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This is definitely a dress that I would make again but next time in a non see-through fabric and without lining – at least for the skirt. I’m thinking in a black cotton with some spandex in it, which I happen to have in my stash!

As for my new Positano dress, it has worked out well and I wore it on a few occasions during our holiday. The swishing skirt is really nice to wear. It’s a very feminine dress that can be worn with heels or flats on various occasions.

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Beautiful, tiny little Positano!

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STYLING: gladiator shoes – Zara, sandals – handmade from little shop in Amalfi, silver bracelet – Witchery, silver ring – Apart Fashion, sunglasses – Carlina square by Chloe, leather bag – Zara Man

LOCATIONS: Positano and Rome, Italy