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

The Amalfi Dress

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The idea for the Amalfi dress originated from the pictures of these Vera Wang dresses that I saw advertised in a fashion magazine. I particularly like the navy one.

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Navy is my personal substitute for black and I adore maxi dresses so the colour and style were both perfect. I do like the shape of the cut out in the navy dress, but my dress had to be wearable!

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There was this beautiful navy cotton voile in my stash with a matt satin look on the right side that I wanted to use for this dress. It is very light but not see-through and that allowed me to leave out any lining. The aim was to keep the dress as light and airy as possible for sightseeing on our travels in the summer heat.

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When I get an idea for a garment from a picture I have seen somewhere, I usually go on a hunt amongst my patterns to see which part of which pattern I can use to make the garment. I usually have a similar pattern to what I want to make and just adjust the rest. That was the same procedure for this make. I used McCall’s 7418 for the bodice of the dress and just made up the skirt as I went along. The skirt part is made using one width of the fabric for each piece of the front and the back. So the middle section has more gathering than the bottom, because I wanted it to be a-line in shape. I just gathered and then sewed the skirt parts together after deciding on the finished width I was after. But I am thinking of redoing it and sewing the gathered seams together with elastic because they are quite fragile and could tear if the gathering got stretched.

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To be honest, I don’t even know where I got this pattern from. I’ve had it for ages and never used it. I think I got it from a friend and was going to resell it on Ebay but now it was put to good use and I may use it again! I used version C down to the hip and did the rest pretty much free-style by trying on, fixing, trying on, fixing – you get the idea…. I only altered the pattern by making the back a little higher so that I could wear a strapless bra underneath without anything showing.

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The bodice has an invisible zip sewn in on the left side. I was going to try and make it zipless, but due to the shaping in the bodice, I couldn’t squeeze into the dress without a zip somewhere.

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The top of the bodice is interfaced front and back but otherwise the dress is unlined and beautifully light to wear. It does crease a bit being 100% cotton, but I wasn’t going to drag an iron around in my suitcase! I found that packing wisely helped to keep creasing to a minimum and if I took the clothes that creased easily out of my suitcase and hung them up as soon as we got to where we were staying, I could get some of the wrinkling out. I have also heard that hanging clothes in a steamy bathroom helps to “iron” them out somewhat. Haven’t tried that yet.

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The pattern has quite a few variations for the straps and back. But I decided a simple cross would go well with what I had in mind. I was going to make simple straps but then decided that plaited ones would look more interesting. So I cut strips of dacron a little shorter than the fabric straps to fill them with. The idea was to pull the dacron through the tunnel of each strap, but that didn’t work. In the end, I placed the dacron in the middle of each strip of fabric and hand-sewed the strap in the most invisible stitch I could manage by wrapping it in the fabric strip. Yes, this was very time-consuming but well worth it and I was able to plait the strap strips with the hand-sewn side on the inside.

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I wore this dress on a few occassions and was very happy with the way it turned out. It’s just as light and airy as I imagined it to be. Cotton voile is perfect for summer wear.

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I’m thinking about the same dress in a short version somewhere down the track. But my wish list is ever growing and who knows when I will get around to that….

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STYLING: shoes – midas, gold chocker – David Lawrence, sunglasses – Carlina square by Chloe, watch – Gucci, bracelet – gift, gold rings – Lovisa.

LOCATION: Amalfi, Italy

 

 

Roman Holiday

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I don’t wear much black. I used to wear black a lot in my late teenage years and early twenties, but these days I usually find black boring and prefer more colour and pattern in my fabrics and clothing. However, in making my Rome dress, I have rediscovered black for myself again. I have to admit that there is something special and timeless about a little black cocktail-style dress, that no other colour can compete with.

My Rome dress is one I have wanted to make for some time in memory of the 1950s Dior silhouette labelled as “The New Look” back in the day. When defining the design and pattern for this dress, there was not much room to move, because I had very fixed ideas of what it should look like. The first thing that I decided on was the colour – black. I just thought that something classic would have to represent the Eternal City. The second thing was the 1950s skirt shape. I love the skirt shape of “The New Look”. The third thing that was non-negotiable was the neckline. It had to be v-shaped, almost heart shaped, without revealing too much. My main inspiration was the picture below that I found and photographed from a fashion magazine. I love everything about it. The line of the dress, the model’s pose, the pleated and puffed skirt. It’s just beautiful altogether – sigh.

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So I was on a mission to find a pattern that resembled this dress and what I had in mind. That was not easy. I wanted to make the bodice just as in the photo above, in one piece. But after looking through my pattern collection, I didn’t have a pattern that matched exactly what I was planning to make.

I still haven’t uploaded all of my patterns on my blog, but I do have a good collection and didn’t really want to buy another one if I didn’t absolutely have to. So it was time to compromise. I found this one – Simplicity 4581 and thought it would do the job just fine. And also suit the fabric I had chosen from my stash. It turned out to be a good choice.

I only used the pattern for the bodice and decided to make my own designed skirt with pleats to replicate “The New Look” in some way.

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Now I think the fabric is a cotton silk blend, but I am not sure. That it is a jacquard is quite obvious. And a gorgeous one too! It’s quite thick and doesn’t crease easily. I bought it from a warehouse sale I went to last year with a sewing friend. I got about 3 metres of it for a dress and coat and after making this dress, there is still heaps left over for the coat I want to make and maybe even a small fitted jacket.

The bodice didn’t require too much fabric and I only used one width for the skirt because the fabric is just over 150cm wide. So like the Capri dress, it only has a seam in the back.

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When it came to the skirt, I was debating on whether to underline it or not because the fabric was quite thick. But then remembered one occasion where I was at David Jones (a department store in Melbourne) having a look at some of the high-end clothing construction and found a pleated skirt made by a designer that was underlined in netting. That was it! My dress needed the stiffness of the netting for more structure. That way that the skirt would retain a good shape without a second layer underneath and also stop it from creasing too easily.

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I played around with the pleats and for no particular reason, decided that three pleats in the front on each side and two at the back either side would look good.  The centre pleats at the back hide the invisible zip conveniently. Because the netting is very itchy and uncomfortable, I lined the skirt in a thin black lining fabric, to make it bearable to wear.

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The bodice of the dress is not underlined because the fabric is quite heavy and it would have made the seams too thick. The top of the bodice is interfaced and the midriff section is lined in a black stretch cotton to give the dress a clean finish on the inside.

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Oh, and I almost forgot – the fourth requisite for this dress was that it HAD to be photographed at the Trevi Fountain – AT SUNRISE. Luckily for me, my good friend and photographer Meg caught up with us in Rome for a few days and insisted we do a photo shoot of one of my garments. She was just as adventurous as I was in getting up at 5:30 in the morning to take some photos for me at the Trevi Fountain before the polizia or too many tourists were there.

I was adamant on getting into the fountain for the photos if there was no danger of getting arrested, but unfortunately the polizia were there at sunrise in their little Fiat supervising the tourists… Still we decided it couldn’t possibly be against the law to just sit on one of those rocks just inside the fountain for some harmless photos. So I got onto the rock just inside the barrier and Meg began taking photos. About 10 seconds later, the polizia started to whistle. I said to Meg “Do you think he means us?” But she just told me to sit still and kept taking photos. When he got louder and louder and started yelling, we decided it was time to move. Thankfully he didn’t come down to us and make Meg delete the photos or give us a fine!

After the photo shoot we went to a bar for a coffee and cornetto (Italian croissant) and had a good laugh about our eventful morning!

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In conclusion, I have to say that I love how this dress turned out. The black jacquard is gorgeous and a real treasure -find at $5.00 per metre! The dress fits me perfectly and using the net as underlining was exactly the right choice in getting the skirt to hold it’s shape and not crease (too much). The only thing that I need to fix is the right “boob”. I find that the gathering tends to make it “sag” a little. Otherwise, very happy with my Rome dress!

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P.S. My apologies to those of you who are getting this post the second time around. I accidentally pressed the “publish” button instead of the “preview” button when editing two days ago and off it went into the blogosphere…

STYLING: shoes Apart Fashion, necklace and bracelet – Zara, gloves – Myer, sunglasses – Margot by Tom Ford

LOCATION: Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

PHOTOGRAPHY: meggi-design

The Pompeii Dress

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Pompeii has been on my must-see list for a while now. When we finally made plans to go there and do the sightseeing on a very hot and humid day in July during our week on the Amalfi Coast, a suitable thing to wear turned out to be this simple lemon coloured linen shift with some natural leather sandals. The heat combined with the humidity was a killer. So linen was a good fabric to opt for. I guess shorts and a t-shirt would have been the most obvious choice in a hot and dusty area, but I just didn’t feel like doing the typical tourist thing. Besides, there was nothing uncomfortable about wearing a dress while at Pompeii, on the contrary.

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I used a sunny yellow linen in a medium to heavy weight from The Fabric Store for this dress. I usually prefer the thicker linens because they have a nicer drape to them, but the thickness always depends on what you want to make out of the linen.

For the pattern, I used one that I have mentioned in my blog many times, in another variation. So my apologies, but here it goes again! I used this pattern in the sleeveless version and narrowed the width by quite a bit to make it into a slight a-line shift dress.

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There are two things that I don’t like so much about how this dress turned out. The bust darts are a little too high and the arm holes need to be cut out a little lower. I will leave the darts, as they don’t bother me too much, but the arm holes will need fixing, because after a few hours of wear my armpits get a bit sore.

The back of the dress was supposed to be two pieces, but I decided one piece would look nicer and cut it on the fold. The front and back yokes are interfaced with linen and the whole dress is underlined with yellow lining.

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Otherwise, a simple but versatile and cute dress to wear almost anywhere and very quick to make. Once again, no zips or buttons. Just slip it on over your head and dress it up a little with some accessories. I wore a wooden beaded necklace which went well with the natural leather sandals.

Yes, linen creases too much and is not a suitcase-friendly fabric, but it comes in so many gorgeous colours, prints, weights and blends with cotton or silk, that it’s hard to resist. You really can’t beat linens or cottons in summer.

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Italy is full of beautiful little shops selling all kinds of linen garments for men and women. I must say, Italians are some of the best dressed people I have seen during my travels. Even little old ladies are clothed in elegant linen pants and shirts with beautiful leather sandals and a classy handbag.

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Pompeii was amazing! Some of the merchants and bankers had spectacular palatial homes, like this beautiful atrium house.

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STYLING: sandals: Tony Bianco, necklace: Lovisa, sunglasses: Carlina square by  Chloe, bracelet: gift, watch: Gucci, silver ring: Apart Fashion.

LOCATION: Pompeii, Italy

The Capri Dress

When life gives you lemons, make a lemon tart….or a pretty dress!

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Another little blog post from the beautiful island of Capri! In the past few months I have been a busy bee working on a set of garments to take with me on our trip to Europe this year. Anyone who knows me, will know that I am quite stubborn when I set my mind to something. However, in hindsight I should have organised my time a little better and gotten started on my project some time last year… Instead, I ended up starting the “big sew” only weeks before we were to leave and found myself sewing almost every evening after work just to get things finished off!

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I was not going to let the opportunity of visiting Capri go by without having made a special something for it. When thinking of what to make as my Capri garment, I knew it would be a dress. I was contemplating something to reflect the images of the island, such as turquoise for the ocean or something very summery and colourful. In the end it was a no-brainer because if you have been to Capri or have looked up pictures of Capri on the internet you will see lots of lemons everywhere! As in real lemons of such huge proportions that you really have to wonder if they are real or not and lemons on all kinds of crockery, magnets, tea towels, tiles and so on.

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In addition to that, I am still very much into Dolce and Gabbana’s citrus print dresses from some of their last collections, as you can see in a few examples below:

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For now, I just can’t get enough of them and love almost anything with a citrus print on it! So my mind was made up. All I had to do was find the right fabric…

In the end, I found a gorgeous imitation Dolce and Gabbana lemon print jaquard at 4444.al but you can also find it from various sellers on aliexpress.com. It’s a cotton/polyester mix. Unfortunately not a silk/cotton mix like the original by Dolce and Gabbana…(Does anyone know where to buy remnant Dolce and Gabbana fabrics? Please let me know if you do!) Anyway, it it is quite stiff but has a great texture to it and looks almost quilted.

I am getting into the habit of taking the time to pre-wash my fabrics before sewing but I didn’t find that this jaquard changed it’s size or shape in any way. It was really easy to sew with, apart from fraying at the ends quite a lot.

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For the design, I decided on a strapless dress with a pleated skirt, similar to a Zara dress I have in a stretch denim that I love to wear. I was going to copy the Zara dress for the bodice but then decided it would cost me less time to just buy a pattern for a strapless dress and not have to play around with the cut. So I bought Kwik Sew pattern K3516. The pattern has 7 pieces for a full length dress but I just used the part down to the waist.

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After I had hand sewn the pieces together and tried the bodice on for fit, I was ready to throw it in a corner because it just wouldn’t sit well at all, even after repeatedly making adjustments in the bust area. But I persisted….. After I sewed the boning onto all the seams and ironed them all flat, the fit was not perfect but much better and I was motivated to get it finished.

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After all the fixing up and custom fitting of the bodice to my body shape, I am very happy with how it turned out. I lined the bodice with a white cotton voile and interfaced the top edge from the inside to give it more shape and stiffness, which paid off, even though at the time of sewing, I thought it would be too thick. But after ironing it all flat, it was ok. The skirt length and shape has a nice vintage look and also a good swing to it due to the stiffness of the fabric.

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I made up the skirt part as I went along. I spread the pleats out evenly in the front and back and only used the width of the fabric at 150cm, which was more than enough for the pleating. I was going to put in pockets but decided to leave them out and only have one seam at the back. I was quite pressed for time making other dresses for our trip, so any time I could save on literally ANYTHING I did! I was able to get away with not putting in a hook and eye closure above the invisible zip because I managed to sew the zip right to the very top. I try to avoid the hook and eye closures because if they are in the back of a dress, I find it very hard to close myself anyway.

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Apart from fumbling around with the bodice, this dress was made very quickly and is also a handy travel garment because you can pack it in a suitcase and it doesn’t necessarily need ironing! Good thing for me because I didn’t have an iron at most of the places we stayed at!

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I still have enough of the fabric to make a pencil skirt or a top and hopefully enough scraps to make a collage style dress (`a la Victoria Beckham) with some lemons on it here and there.

Normally, I would have styled this dress with heels but Capri is NOT the place for heels! There are so many uneven, stony pathways and because you have to do almost everything by bus or on foot (or taxi if you want to spend the money), heels have no chance here without twisting an ankle! Hence the wedge/plateau heel, as I didn’t manage to find a pair of Capri sandals that I liked until we got to Amalfi, a week later 😦

The most obvious place to wear my Capri dress in Capri was at Da Paolino. This place was beyond words! Da Paolino is a restaurant under mature lemon trees that are full of huge, ripe lemons in a most beautiful outdoor setting.  Funnily enough, the lady at the table next to ours had a dress on (similar to the middle Dolce and Gabbana one above) with exactly the same print on it as mine! I looked at her and she looked at me – all very inconspicuously of course. Just taking note without staring every now and then during the course of the evening. I was quite sure hers was an original Dolce and Gabbana, just like mine – haha! There were also many other interesting garments represented at the restaurant.  It was a feast for the eyes in every way! Especially when ripe lemons would fall from the trees onto tables and heads and even smack bang into the middle of guests’ plates!! Entertainment included!

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And to finish off, here are some sights and colours of beautiful Capri!

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STYLING: shoes: midas, yellow bag: little boutique in San Gimignano, Italy, sunglasses: Carlina Square by Chloe, necklace: Magnolia silver jewellery, silver ring: Apart Fashion, gold ring: Apart Fashion, watch: Gucci.

Locations: Augustino Gardens, Ristorante Da Paolino, terrace of our apartment in Anacapri, Capri.

 

 

 

 

Tropical A-Line Dress – McCall’s M5583

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Hi everyone! I have been silent on the blog front, but behind the scenes, I have been very busy working long hours and also working on some garments that I wanted to take on holiday with me to Europe on our winter get away this year. Thus the long pause from blogging. But the long anticipated holiday is now happening and I am writing to you from a very tiny but special place on our planet – Capri. It has been on my bucket list for a while now and even though we are still here and have a few things left to see and do during our one week stay, it is safe to say I would love to come back one day and spend some more time on this little treasure of an island with it’s breathtaking views.

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I could write pages about Capri, but this is a sewing blog…

I made this dress a few years ago, but somehow it always lands in my luggage because it’s loose, colourful and doesn’t need any ironing. So all in all, a very travel friendly piece. The fabric is a soft polyester that I bought at Spotlight in two different patterns. I used the leafy one (sort of looks like leaves) for the dress and the stripy one for the edging.

I don’t find it easy sewing with very stretchy fabrics like these two because my sewing machine tends to jump a stitch or two here and there, but I loved the colour in teal and turquoise and the print on these two fabrics and bought a few metres of each. Years later I am glad that I did, because I still love the colour and print of both fabrics and plan on making a maxi dress out of the rather large remnants I have in my stash in the Australian summer.

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I used the same pattern for this dress as I have used for heaps of other dresses I have made in the past by just altering the width of the lower edge to make it a little narrower in version C. The sleeves are a slight bell shape and 7/8 length.

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The back of the dress has a middle seam going through it on the pattern, but I eliminated the seam and cut the back as one piece. There is also no zip or buttons and the dress slips on easily over the head because of the stretchy fabric.

I lined this dress in an off white soft polyester just to give it a bit more weight. The edging of the sleeves and the lower edge aren’t perfect, because the stripes don’t match up exactly and there is a bit of a wave in the fabric at the seam. However, despite the imperfections, I have worn it so many times and one day while shopping three ladies asked me where I got my dress from, so I guess it turned out OK. Nice to get compliments for one of your own creations!

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These days I am more into natural fabrics and don’t make much out of synthetics, but if I find an irresistible print or colour, I do find myself giving in!

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Do you have a favourite piece of clothing that you always take on your travels?

STYLING: shoes: Midas, sunglasses: Margot by Tom Ford, silver ring: Apart Fashion

LOCATION: Anacapri, Capri, Italy

My Furry Friend

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I really missed my blog in the last month, but life got busy and priorities had to be set…. Apart from that, I’ve been working on making some space for my own little sewing room in the bungalow we have in the backyard and selling things on Ebay that have been stashed there for way too long. That has been a real trial in patience, as some things don’t sell as fast as you want them to. So the sewing room hasn’t made much progress either…. April was not a very successful month in some ways. But May has gotten off to a better start in the creative department, thankfully.

The weather in Melbourne was extraordinarily warm for autumn (probably the only good thing about global warming) so I didn’t really feel like making any wintery clothes until now. I was thinking about what my next blog could be about, when I rediscovered a furry top that I had started some time last year and stopped half way through to start something else that I got excited about making. That is very typical of me unfortunately. I will start to sew something that I really want to get done and then get sidetracked by something else that comes to mind, only to finish it off much later…. Still working on changing that behavioural pattern, as it does get annoying having unfinished stuff lying around.

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I found the free pattern (size XS) for this top on the sewing blog by The Selfish Seamstress and luckily for me it was the right size without any alterations. You can download it here: faux fur top pattern.

It’s a good replica of a Kate Spade top from a few years ago but without the front pocket or the bow at the back and a slightly wider collar. The stand up collar (which folds in half) is so sixties chic! The top just slips on over your head and has no zip or button closure.

I found a beautiful, very soft faux fur at The Fabric Store and bought just enough for this top. It looks so real, it’s amazing. The lining is a dark chocolate taffeta from my stash.

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I haven’t sewn with faux fur for ages. Due to it’s thickness you really have to hand sew the seams together before machine sewing them, as they tend to slip otherwise, which is very annoying. Otherwise this pattern was very easy and quick to sew. The lining was a bit of trouble because the faux fur does have some stretch to it, but obviously the taffeta I used for the lining doesn’t and I am not entirely happy with the outcome of the lining of the lower torso, as it sits quite tight around the hips. So somewhere down the track, I will be cutting it off and widening it to make the top more comfortable to wear. But not just now. I am too busy multi-tasking a lot of summer projects for our up and coming winter escape.

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I made one alteration to the pattern by adding on about 5cm of length to the sleeves. I still had some bits of faux fur left over and when I tried the top on to check the length of the finished sleeves, I thought they were a bit too short for cold, blustery winter days. I guess front pockets would be great, like in the original Kate Spade top, but I thought they would make the it look too bulky and didn’t want to bother playing around with the pattern to accommodate them.

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I find it looks good either with a belt or without and long leather gloves add a bit of class to the outfit. Despite it already being the middle of May and almost winter here, the weather has been too warm to wear this top, but it will definitely get some wear when winter sets in. I will be wearing it with jeans, pencil skirts and winter tweed shorts, opaque stockings and boots, with or without a belt, depending on the look I am after.

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Overall, I am happy with the result but still need to get around to widening the bottom of the lining to make it more comfortable and less tight around the hips. It is definitely warm and snug to wear and I can’t wait to wear it on a cold winter’s day. The other good thing is that you can easily make it in a few hours!

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STYLING:  jeans: Esprit, boots: Zara, elbow length gloves: Myer, sunglasses: Lanester by Agenda, belt: Impressionen, Germany

LOCATION: St John’s Anglican Church Sorrento, Victoria, Australia