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.


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


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!

Humming along

The first WSBN event I ever went to was called “Sewing Cake”. Everyone was wearing a creation from Cake Patterns, and (needless to say) cake was on the agenda in more ways than one.

Wendy was wearing a blue corduroy Hummingbird skirt, and I knew I had to have one. Fortunately fabric-a-brac delivered me a length of blue pinwale corduroy, and so the Hummingbird was mine. In fact there was twice as much as I needed, so if anyone else wants to copy Wendy, let me know. Imagine a whole army of blue Hummingbirds!

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

I love it just as much as I thought I would. I liked the Cake fitting system, to make it easy to grade between sizes, and the instructions were easy to follow. The corduroy is lovely and soft, and I put some fun “travel the world” cotton inside the pockets.


There were two things I didn’t like, though. One is the huge difference between sizes, up to five inches. Just as I was about to start this, I ran into Joy at the bus stop, and she was in the middle of fighting with her Hummingbird, which she’d cut out in the size bigger than her measurements, as directed. Which turned out to be FOUR INCHES too big for her actual measurements, which is a lot for a skirt. Cake is doing a great job catering for such a big range of sizes (35 to 57 inch hip measurements), but there needs to be a better way for people between sizes to get a good fit. I ended up sizing down, and using smaller seam allowances to give me the extra inch, and it fits pretty well.

The other thing I struggled with is the shape of the bottom of the flounce. Caveat: I did lengthen the pattern pieces before cutting out, and potentially this might have contributed, because people I’ve spoken to who didn’t lengthen it didn’t have this problem.

Anyway the pins in this picture were put in when I was standing up, so that the bottom of the flounce was even. Before leveling , the sides at the back were actually 9cm shorter than the side seams, and the centre back was 2cm longer.


I redrafted the pattern piece based on these changes and came out with something much more like a semi-circle (original at top, new version below).


Anyway, the bottom line: I love this skirt, wear it all the time, and will definitely use the pattern again. Thanks Cake! Thanks Wendy!


Catchy, isn’t it? Frockvember is for those of us who didn’t quite get around to Frocktober. I’d say it’s going to be a hit.

Many of the ladies from the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network have streaked ahead, turning out dresses galore for Frocktober. My belated contribution is this cornflower blue silk dupion number. This silk had been sitting in my stash for enough years to earn a big faded stripe down the middle, where the sun hit it. There was 2.8m, and with some creative cutting the stripe is nowhere to be seen.


I used the Dandelion pattern from Disparate Disciplines, which I first saw made by The Amazing Taracat. Like her, I’m hooked (my next post is a Dandelion top).  And I did an overlocking course on the weekend, so I predict knit Dandelions ahead too.  This dress has an awesome side panel so that it almost has princess seams at the front but fits snugly at the back. Here are two shots of the side panels… from the front….

dress side panel front

and from the rear….

dress side panel back

I made the sweetheart neck and extended it to have three-quarter sleeves (and added a little petal cuff made with this tutorial).

dress - cuff

The fit is fantastic. There is plenty of room in the tummy area and I actually ended up taking it in by about 1cm along each front seam (tapering from the bust point, 1cm intake from 10cm below the bust all the way to the hem). Other mods (on a size 12 pattern) were:

  • +12cm onto the length (using rayon seam binding tape as hemming tape)
  • +19cm onto the length of each sleeve, with 18cm width at the bottom for the front sleeve and 20cm for the back sleeve (tulip cuff width 46cm). This turned out to be a wee bit generous.

I bound all the seam allowances with Hug Snug binding, and for the first time ever used a stay tape on the zipper (a little strip of silk organza, lovely). I’m a convert to this and won’t be making a zip without one again. It just makes the zip seem more solid.

dress - tada

Ta da!