No kidding, I made a dress in a day (New Look 6968)

My sewing speed can be – is often – glacial. I’ve become a religious pattern tracer (think of the children! What else are they going to look for in the op shops of the future, when they’re full of clothes from Glassons/Primark/KMart?). It takes ages. I have – let’s see – seven projects currently under way, the first started in 2008 (and none that I’ve touched for at least a fortnight). Is “under way” even the correct term in these circumstances?

Anyway I do find that a trip or upcoming event is the best way to turbocharge some sewing action. A few weeks ago I had both, in the form of a conference. I had found some gorgeous floral cotton sateen at The Fabric Warehouse the previous week and decided to make a new work dress.

(Can I just interrupt myself to tell a story that illustrates my love for The Fabric Warehouse? My first stop that day was Spotlight. I can’t remember what I bought but I can remember that the girl who served me was wearing a trainee badge, had the bluntest scissors in existence, and insisted on cutting – if that’s even the correct word with those scissors – my purchase TO THE PRECISE CENTIMETRE. Then I went next door to TFW, where the lovely assistant measured a very generous 1.5 metres WITHOUT A TAPE MEASURE and cut it with the biggest sharpest scissors in the world, in one swoop. And that’s how to do business. Spotlight, we are never ever ever getting back together. Sorry for putting Taylor Swift into your head.)

So here’s the dress.

New Look 6968

This is New Look 6968, view C.

This dress has in the past been made using a single metre of fabric, but if you want the fancy collar (and why wouldn’t you, it’s awesome) then you’ll need more.

New Look 6968 front1

The collar is in two pieces, and one side has a little gap that the other side fits through. Better to show you:

New Look 6968 front3

I cut this dress out in the morning before work, whipped it up in about four hours that evening, and was even in bed early enough to have a decent amount of sleep before an ungodly flight the next morning.

New Look 6968 back

Some things had to be sacrificed, like any sort of invisible hem treatment…

kick pleat

… or darts that match …

seam matching

… but the print is very forgiving and it’s fabulous to have another work dress. All I need to make it an outfit is a cardigan, and luckily I’m up to four Jenna cardis and counting!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Colette Hawthorn shirt dress

Confused? This is an extremely belated entry, for a dress I made before the Christmas party season last year. Thought I’d better post it before it wears out completely. Whoops!

Colette Hawthorn 1

I think I made this even before the blouse (using the same pattern).

Colette Hawthorn 2

The gorgeous navy broderie anglaise fabric came from my fairy godmother in Hong Kong. Here’s a close-up after some not-so-subtle adjustments on PicMonkey.

close up

And the back, why not?

Colette Hawthorn back

I’ve been wearing it with a black slip underneath but after looking at these photos on the mannequin am tempted to try a red one. Once again I am truly smitten by this pattern which fits beautifully and is lovely to make. Check out my first ever sleeve placket (WAY easier than they look, in case you’ve never done one)…

sleeve placket

The buttons came from Vancouver and were bought specially, they add a bit of sparkle. Just right for a fairy godmother Christmas dress.

button

A very short entry, and a very short poem

Here are two Plaintain t-shirts (free download from Deer & Doe). I reduced the flare at the bottom a little. Also I might have raised the neckline a bit. I made them at a retreat in February, so can’t remember exactly. (The retreat was FABULOUS by the way. 48 hours of sewing and chatter and tea. And jumping into the icy river). The blue stripe was a remnant from Levana – a bit unusual in that the stripes only covered part of the width. blue stripe plantain t-shirt The dogs are from Spotlight, I just couldn’t pass them up. In fact I even went back to buy more, to make one for my friend Ali who is a crazy dog lady. dog plantain t-shirt My favourite one is this little guy, whose head is on the neckband. Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 7.57.57 pm There’s not much else to say, so as promised:

The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.

– Ogden Nash

Joining the Jenna fan club

Perhaps Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes has a time machine of some sort, because she has such a busy life and how else could Muse Patterns exist? I’d really love a time machine too, but instead I’ll settle for her patterns; they’re gorgeous. The Jenna cardi has filled a niche and I hope it’s a huge success. It’s a great pattern and I can’t think of anything like it out there.

There are lots of versions already on the internet and here’s one more:

Muse Jenna cardi

Muse Jenna cardi

I made this in a very fine merino from Levana. I used my high bust measurement as some people had found it too big using their standard measurements. It’s still a little bit wide in the shoulders, maybe because my fabric is quite stretchy. Next time I’ll size down again in the shoulders, grading out to the waist. I lengthened it by 2cm and it’s a good length for me.

Muse Jenna cardi

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As in all my knits, I used tape to keep the shoulder seams stable. Also I sewed the button bands on, rather than overlocking them, so the inside is neater.

This involved:

  1. Sewing the flat (unfolded) button band to the front piece, right sides together
  2. Folding the band lengthwise, right side together, and sewing across the ends so they’re level with the top of the neck band and bottom of the waist band
  3. Turning the button band inside out, pinning it carefully so it just overlaps the seam in step 1, then (from the outside) stitching in the ditch along the length of the band.

There are some really nice features in this pattern. The topstitching looks really good, and so do the sleeve bands. Now to make versions 2 and 3!

a-slippin’ and a-slidin’ (and a-hidin’)

I’m a convert to slips. They’re highly functional but also make me feel like a grown up lady. I made these using some rayon from Spotlight, and the free Vera Venus bias slip pattern. It only goes up to a size 39″bust/41″hip, so I had to grade up, but it worked well. The rayon is perfect: sturdy, no special washing needed, but still light. And, since it’s a natural fibre, it breathes well and doesn’t get stinky.

Vera Venus bias slip Vera Venus bias slip

For the top front edge, you can add lace or finish with a decorative stitch; the pattern suggests a shell stitch. For a laugh, here’s the black one I did by hand, compared to the white one I did by machine (using a blind hem stitch).

3 black3 white

Oh dear. Remind me not to take up embroidery.

And, just for the record, some fun PJ pants made out of Spotlight flannelette, and a basic self-drafted pattern. Judging by the selvedge, the print seems to have been made by a student at RMIT.

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4 2

Can you see the animals hiding badly? Aren’t they gorgeous?

4 3

(These have been worn a bit already; sorry about that! I love them.)

Presents are the best, featuring Colette Hawthorn

Colette Hawthorn blouse

For my birthday this year, my awesome sisters gave me a Colette Hawthorn pattern and some fabric to make it with. What do you think?

Colette Hawthorn blouse

I’m one of the lucky people for whom this pattern is a perfect fit. When I first looked at the pattern pieces I thought “Just one giant waist dart? That’ll never work” – but somehow it does. And I love the little neck darts at the back that prevent back-neck gape.

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Changes:

  • I made the sleeves a wee bit longer, rather than the cap sleeves in the pattern.
  • I lengthened the front of the collar by 4.5cm on each side, so it ends at the centre rather than halfway up the neck opening.
  • I neatened the edge of the facing by sewing it and the interfacing right-side-together before turning it inside out and then pressing (Sophie-Lee explains this better than me).
  • I hemmed it with bias tape and a blind hem.

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  • And I retraced the facings into two pieces, with a seam at the centre back. No particular reason, other than that it saved sewing a few seams.

However, if you change the pattern you’ve got to turn your brain on, and not cut two identical facing pieces! Can you see this? One of them is wrong-side-up (I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another one).

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And make sure you sew the facing seams right-side-together! (Luckily this is at the back neck and no-one will see it but me – I might even cover it with a label).

7

So, minor errors aside, this is a total win. I love it. Best present ever.

Travelling light with the Lady Skater

This year I had a rather nice holiday to central America, and wanted to travel light. I was inspired by people who can manage with a carry-on suitcase. So, I made three Lady Skaters. Possibly this is the most popular pattern on the internet, and for good reason. It’s perfect and I have nothing to say about it, so here are three travel tips instead:

1. Pack light

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2. Don’t forget your hat

  2

3. And have fun!

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