Oh Stitch, Please!

Oh Stitch, Please!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Hello All! Starting this post with a big THANK YOU to the gorgeous Renay, Kat & Lib for their wonderful organisation of the Melbourne frocktails event! It was my first, and such a joy to be around all the other Melbourne based seamstresses! It was a fabric feeling cocktail drinking frenzy - and I loved every second of it! 

For my dress - I channelled one of my fellow blogger fashion icon of mine - Heather Lou: Closet Case Files. I saw this dress a few years ago and pinned it with the intention of creating a similar look.. at some point! I just couldn't find the right occassion. What better occassion than frocktails to make a frivolous frock and flower crown!!?

I made up Vogue 8827 - which I have since heard is now out of print! I nabbed it about 2 years ago in one of the amazing $1.99 sales - so I am feeling pretty smug about that right about now! You may still find it in your local spotlight or similar. I used VIEW C, which is the maxi length with the wrap around waist tie and one sided shawl collar.

It took me a bit of umming and ahhing to create the shawl collar and the facings, as I have never used a Vogue pattern before. I am much more used to the gentle hand holding from independant designers. But I am glad I kept up and persevered as I love the finished piece. It was probably one of my more time consuming projects, I stopped several times to have a bit of time to think about those steps before picking it up again so I didn't rush it.

I used french seams for the entire piece, wanting to keep it as floaty as possible and maintain the gorgeous drape of the fabric. And a little ironing accident resulted in the sleeves being a bit shorter than originally drafted. However, I think I would have shorted them anyway regardless of the ironing incident! The fabric was a polyester crepe I picked up at Spotlight after christmas (probably the only thing in the entire store that wasn't on sale), but I loved the print and drape so into the cart it went!

I went a bit fancy and lengthened the belt (the pattern piece indicates to cut three, and I cut and joined four pieces). I also angled the edge for a bit more of a fancy finish. I used some dainty little stitches to secure the faces in place, but I think I will need to add a few extra stitches as it still billowed around at times.

I also made a flower crown.Because. Well. Flower Crown - enough said. I had no plans to do this until Megan Neilsen put up her video tutorial which was excellent and easy to follow. It was a very cheap make as well! I got the wire and tape for about $7- each from spotlight and just picked up a $5- posy from my local florist on the morning of frocktails. I'm not going to cover how to make it - because the tutorial is the bees knees and I've linked to it - so check that out! Much more eloquent than I could ever be!

The little details!
Pattern: Vogue 8827 ($1.99 sale pattern)
Fabric: Polyester Crepe from Spotlight ($16- pm, 3m -total: $48)
Notions: Just some thread from the stash - no closures for this pattern! Woo.
Flower Crown: tape, wire ($16-), Posy ($5-) total: $21
Total Costs: $71 - not a bad cost actually - AND I already have plans to wear it to a lovely friends 30th birthday this weekend... So its not just a frivolous dress after all!
Other bits: Shoes - wittner (linked before - no longer online).
For your perving pleasure: Heather Lou,  A challenging Sew,  SallieOh!

Stay tuned for any updates regarding Frocktails over on Kat's blog - all the whimsical things! And thank you to my lovely photographer - Karzi, for another impromptu snap session before running out the door for the evening!


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Hack-tastic Flora - BHL.

So.. I made another BHL flora dress. For another wedding.. Yes, tragic! I have done it before, but I do love this dress!

I made a few alterations this time, which took a bit of mucking about. The first was to lengthen the skirt. The skirt is a fabric eater and huge! It's 150cm wide minimum. The fabric I chose was a faux silk I picked up from spotlight. I saw it and the print seemed very Gorman-esque to me, so purhcase! To lengthen the skirt, I added a side panel when cutting. I used a french seam to widen the fabric. You can tell I have done this on the back skirt panels, but as it is a full swishy skirt, it doesn't show to much unless I am pointing it out to you. As I often do! Does anyone else find the need to point out their sewing flaws before someone else see's them? I constantly find myself doing it. When really I am sure nobody else cares!

The second alteration was making it backless. I love the contrast of a high neck with a low back, and when I made my first Flora I found myself dreaming about a backless number. Having no drafting experience, and not being sure how I wanted it to look, I just traced my back bodice piece, hacked away at where I wanted it to sit and then folded out the back dart length. I then made the straps super long (about 35cm) and got a friend to fit them for me (13.5cm from the centre zip on each side to be exact). I made the whole thing up in the fashion fabric first, and then just played around with the fit. It was a bit tricky fitting on the sides (I always have trouble fitting BHL patterns to me here, turns out I don't have enough side boob), let alone without the back pieces to absorb any fit changes... so I kind of just played around with the darts until I was happy with them (it was VERY untechnical, more just sewing and trying on and pining and doing it all again).

But I was quite happy with the back of the dress in the end. I probably could have pinched a little more out of the centre front which would have assisted with the lack of side boob issue, and made the whole fitting process a tonne easier.. So next time I will probably try that first!

I then just made a full lining (using bemsilk from spotlight) which matched the purple ferns on my main fabric! I just used a gathered skirt instead of the flora skirt for the lining as the bemsilk wasn't wide enough. The lining was attached by machine and then handstitched down at the waist. Because I was then all enamoured by pretty purple matchy matchy-ness, I used a large purple satin bias tape to finish the circular hem. PRETTY! It made it feel a bit more special, and gave the hem a nice swishy-ness.
Excuse these wrinkly shots: taken post wedding just for the classic 'guts' shots.

I popped in an invisible zipper and she was done! Pro's are that I am getting more confident with pattern hacking as I go, even if my methods are more cowboy than traditional. Con's are the fabric was a poly (faux silk as per the label - you can't fool me spotlight, I know that means poly!!) and a bit shit to work with, not holding a press, scared I was going to melt it etc. I did melt a test peice when trying to determine how much heat it would handle under the iron, so I was very gentle when pressing it in the end. Things I have learnt: Poly is shit.

Anyway.. THE RUN DOWN:
Pattern: BHL - Flora (backless hack!) - free: used before!
Fabric: 2.5m Faux silk satin (Spotlight), 2m lining (bemsilk). ($50, $14)
Notions: invisible zip, satin bias binding. ($3, $4)
Total Cost: $71-
Other bits: Heels - Wittner.

Some less bloggy photo's from the wedding: read 'post several champagne/s'.

  Congratulations to the beautiful Annie & Ciaran! A wonderful evening for a wonderful couple.. Xx

Monday, 7 December 2015


Happy summertime fellow Australians! And those in the northern hemisphere - I hope your white Christmas preparations are coming along nicely!

Last week I presented a winter cape, so this week I have done a full 360 and made a summer frock! The Alder by Grainline Studio's to be precise. Another cult pattern release from Jen about 18 months ago. I purchased it at the time of release, but never got a chance to sew it up last summer. I did however, feel it was definitely a summer dress so waited until this summer to sew it up!

This dress has been tried and tested very well over the blogosphere, and for a very good reason! What a brilliant pattern! It came together easily and reasonably quickly for a pattern with so many little details. I began the project using French seams, which would have been fine. However, I chose to make view B. Which includes the glorious aforementioned bum ruffle. Now, this means a right angled seam... which even with the help of Jen's lovely tutorial, I couldn't figure out how to master. I did end up inserting it quite well, with a fairly sharp right angle turn but I just couldn't get that same effect when I was trying to use French seams. So the right angle French seam was abandoned (as was my seam ripper), and I whipped this one seam through the overlocker. It still looks very neatly finished on the inside. And I figured sharp professional outside vs. sharp professional inside should win, when I could only muster one or the other.

The fabric is a lovely cotton, lawn like texture I picked up in Vietnam in May. I found it at the Ben Thanh Market (where I picked up quite a bit of fabric), which came to about $5- per meter. On returning home, I saw it pop up a few other places, and it appears to be a rip off liberty print! Whoops - I'm not sure if this would have impacted my buying, but I still love the print, and it is such a perfect pattern for summery clothes! The quality definitely informs me it is not a real liberty, it had some scratchy pulls when I laid it out to cut, but I was able to cut around those.

It was such a busy print, I didn't attempt to pattern match on the pockets. A feature of the Alder pattern that I love, is all the precision sewing - think top stitching! Very similar to making some menswear. I followed the sew-along directions, including all the extra steps to add a line of top stitching to keep the bum ruffle in place.

I initially added 2 inches to the dress, thinking it would be too short. (I added two inches to my scout tee's as I found them a bit short). However, on hemming, that was lopped off - and the original paper pattern amended to not include this for next time! I also sized out on the bum ruffle, cutting a 14 for the ruffle section. Again, I will probably just cut the straight ten all over, as with the extra fullness in the ruffle it can catch fairly easily in the wind!

I finished my arm holes and hem with bias binding. White for the bottom, which enabled me to keep the lovely curved shape as drafted. I knew I would find it difficult to do a turned hem, so utilised bias tape instead. I had a small amount of my yellow vintage liberty bias binding (scored from etsy several months ago) left which went really nicely with the fabric print, so I decided to use this on the arm holes instead of the bindings drafted my Jen - I figured I had better use some genuine liberty in this make somewhere!

I also used a contrast inner yoke piece, choosing to use chambray instead of self fabric. I love little contrasts like this on my me mades. It took me a little bit of time to work out the button placket and the collar, but I am glad I took the time to do this step properly, as this is what makes the Adler a bit special!

I definitely see more Alders in my future! Woo - team bum ruffle!

The deets:
Fabric: 2m of cotton from Vietnam.
Notions: 9 buttons (10c each from Eliza's), bias tape - vintage liberty and plain white.
Total cost: Pattern (19) + buttons and fabric and notions (25)
= $44-

Other bits: shoes - wittner.

Alder in the wild... amidst my garden..

Monday, 30 November 2015

Milano for the Mama!

So a few months ago - I nabbed myself some dreamy navy cashmere blend wool coating, and a very fun white and fuschia spot crepe for a lining. I had envisigned a Milano Cape by papercut patterns, I needed it! I wanted to be a superhero dammit!! When I told my lovely mother of these plans, she pondered it for about three seconds, looked at the pattern and then demanded one too. What can I say... we all wanted to be a superhero...

I haven't sewn mine up as yet, but thought I better get a wriggle on with sewing up mum's, mainly due to mum finishing my beautiful crochet quilt (it's only taken 3 years, thanks mum), and I thought I better have a little something to contribute to the gift exchange..

Also - I am well aware that tomorrow marks the first day of Australian SUMMER and I am blogging a winter cape.. It was finished a little while ago, but nabbing photo's was tricky! So thanks mum for donning your winter cape on a 30 degree day!

My lovely crochet blanket!

The pattern in the Milano Cape from papercut patterns. I have no complaints about the construction of the cape, it was well laid out and quite simple! I did however, not fancy a winter cape without a lining fabric.. And a lining the pattern does not have! I googled. And then googled some more.. and couldn't find a tutorial on drafting a lining for the cape - So I used the principals from Lladybirds little spiel on drafting a lining for her Rigel Bomber (also by papercut).. and just kind of.. fudged it. 

I used a super lovely floral silk to line mum's cape in, which contrasts really nicely with the bottle green cashmere wool blend outer. I found all the essentials at my old haunt - Eliza's in Sunshine. She seriously has some lovely little bits. Or nothing. Some days there is literally crap in there - like nanna floral chiffon and dance fabrics... other days, she delivers these! In winter the coating supplies are pretty excellent!

Now, back to my lining drafting experience. This was my first time, and I basically used a little bit of maths, a little bit of tracing, and then prayed and cut... I had a similar experience to Amanda over at Bimble and Pimble and had some excess fabric in places (maths fail), however, I was able to pleat this in which is now definitely a design feature! And the lining fabric is VERY BUSY, so the teeny tiny pleats are well hidden, I had to point them out to mum, she wasn't too concerned. I used a litle V pleat at the neckline, mainly because all my RTW coats have this little vent feature, and it looks kind of neat, even if it isn't neccesarily a funcitonal feature for the coat.

The other win was my first attempt at welt pockets. And this SHIT IT THE BEST. Such a professional looking finish.. I did have a bit of trouble with them, and one may be in upside down... I ummed, and ahhh'd about what to do about it (it also took me a ridiculously long time to realise one was upside down) and after trying to fix it for a while, I just left it as is.. not my proudest moment, but it's happened now.. Ooops.

Overall, I am very happy with the cape. Very happy with the lining. So is mum! So that's always a win. It took longer to prep all the pieces, fusing etc, and to draft the lining than to sew up the cape! I would guess that there is about 10 hours of prep + sewing time. Plus another 1-2 hours on the button holes, the fabric was a little thick for my machine to handle, so took a few attempts (and some swearing and wine)

The little bits:
Fabric: Wool/Cashmere blend coating, floral silk for the lining ($35, $25)
Notions: six buttons, thread ($7-)
Pattern: Papercut patterns: Milano Coat.
Size: M
Total Cost: $67 (excluding pattern at $22-).

See also: Amanda, oneslook

Thanks Heli for being a gem and posing for some shots. Stay tuned for my version next winter!