Sailing – Vogue Donna Karan 1116

It’s been a while since I have had any time at all to work on my dear sewing blog. Since starting full time Interior Design studies at the beginning of this year, I haven’t had time to do anything but concentrate on my course, which I love and am fully committed to, but at the same time, I really miss having the time to sew and blog.

During mid semester break, I decided it was time to at least partially revive my blog. So here is a short post that has been sitting in the pipeline for over 6 months about a dress that I made a long time ago and never posted. The photos were taken during our Whitsunday sailing holiday last September!

The pattern is a casual Donna Karan dress by Vogue 1116. I like all three dress patterns and would like to have the time to make the other two one day. But for the first one, I chose the strappy backed dress.  The fabric is a nice navy cotton with some spandex in it to give it a good amount of stretch, making it very comfortable and wearable on hot summer days or while sailing! The stretch in the fabric allows for a good amount of movement, even when doing sailing manoeuvres!

                       

You can easily make this dress up in a day. It only has the front, the back and the straps with elastic inside to fit your size and shape. Making up the straps can be a bit fiddly, but the rest is a piece of cake.

I’ve worn this dress on numerous summer holidays and because it’s cotton jersey with spandex, you really don’t need to iron it if you are living out of a suitcase. It will just stretch on your body and iron itself out!

You could probably line the front of the dress if you are using a very thin stretchy fabric, but I didn’t. I just wanted to keep it light and airy for hot days. There is the issue of wearing a bra or not with the back being so low cut. If not, I would suggest to line the front!

I had no problems making this dress. A very easy and quick pattern to sew up. The only thing while wearing it, is make sure you can ask someone to set the straps straight once you have it on, otherwise they will twist around a bit and look untidy.

The dresses in this pattern set are all only for stretch fabrics. I think they would all look great in stretch striped fabrics too!

Couldn’t help myself and not do the Titanic pose!!

Happy sewing and hope to be back soon with another blog post in the very near future!

xx

LOCATION: Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia.

STYLING: hat – Borsalino, Rome, sunglasses – Tom Ford, Margot, ring – Apart Fashion

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Tropical Bliss

 

When I think of the tropics as a holiday destination, I automatically think of floating maxi dresses. So when we were packing for our two week trip to Queensland last month, this self-drafted maxi found its way into my suitcase. I made it a while ago, but still love the print on it and love to wear it on a warm sunny day.

Every time we go somewhere nice, I try to use the opportunity and pack something I have made so that I can have it photographed in a nice location and also wear it during my holiday.

The fabric from this dress came from Spotlight. It’s a cotton sateen with a bold green and brown flower print on it. When I first saw it, I knew it would become a maxi dress with a bit of a 70s look to it. I only bought about 1.5 metres of the fabric without any specific pattern in mind. The dress turned out the way it did because I ran out of fabric to make it almost any other way!

This was going to be a high-waisted maxi from the start. I first made the skirt using the complete width of the fabric, pretty much down to the ground. I pleated it in even pleats that folded in towards the centre front where there was an inverted centre pleat and the same at the back.

Then I got a bit stuck with trying to make the bodice because there wasn’t much fabric left. I cut the waistband and front halterneck part as a sort of scarf that just gathered around the neck. But still wasn’t sure about how to do the back part of the bodice.

I decided to cover up the back as much as I could with what I had left of the fabric. I found that when I had joined the front to the back, the front part of the halterneck was sagging somewhat in the cleavage area, because I had made it slightly too long. So I tried the dress on and was contemplating on how to fix the problem in front of the mirror. I was pulling the part around the back of my neck down with my hand and suddenly had an idea!

I would just loop a small strip of fabric down the centre back to pull down the excess fabric that was too loose and give the bodice a good pull and at the same time a perfect fit. I thought that was a pretty good invention to solve the problem! Well, it worked and the front part of the bodice sits and fits perfectly.

I only lined the bodice front and back of the dress and didn’t bother with the skirt or the halterneck part. It doesn’t appear to be see-through, even in stronger light, so it was a relatively quick sew. I inserted an invisible zip on the left side to keep the back in one piece and that was about it.

Originally, I thought to sew a few green and brown sequins and tiny beads in the centre of each flower pattern but abandoned this idea when I realised they could possibly cause staining during washing. In the end I decided to keep the dress more simple without the glitz. Sometimes more is more but in this case it was less is more :-)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a completely self-drafted dress, I am really happy with the outcome. I think maxi dresses are something that most seamstresses can make without a pattern. Of course that requires a lot of fittings to get the right fit. But I know that I try my self-made garments on many, many times in front of the mirror and tweak here and there even when I use a pattern, until the fit is perfect for my body shape.

Apart from wearing this maxi for collecting sea shells and corals at the beach (!), I’ve worn it to family gatherings, events and a Christmas get-together with friends. I hope to wear it more often this summer.

I think it can be both more casual and relaxed or dressier with the right accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day we took these photos, we spent the day at Horseshoe Bay in Queensland picnicking, swimming, walking and just enjoying the magical view from under the shade of one of the trees on the beach. We also found some beautiful washed-up sea shells and coral. What a beautiful little gem of a beach!

LOCATION: Horseshoe Bay, Queensland, Australia

OUTFIT: sunglasses – Margot by Tom Ford, ring – Apart Fashion

PHOTOGRAPHY: meggi-design

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

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