A silver dress for Fall

Everybody needs a silver dress, right? I’m not actually sure what inspired me to sew this dress. It all started with an amazing silver “Tiara” knit that I found online at Pitt Trading. The fabric is so fabulous that the dress design only needed to be simple.

I used the Poppy Dress pattern by By Hand London as a base for this dress design. I widened the neck and lowered it a bit at the back. I know the pattern has long sleeves but I didn’t have those pieces printed out. So I extended the short version myself, to create a nice, long, slim-fitting sleeve. I also increased the back darts to shape the dress more closely to my measurements.

The fabric has a great stripe on the underside of the silver right side. I utilized this stripe by folding up the hem on the bottom and sleeve edge. I hate wasting a good double-sided fabric.

This is such a fun dress. It will be the perfect holiday dress in a couple of months.

Another simple linen shift

I love (and wear!) my last linen shift so much that I knew I needed another. My love for this dress is so strong that I don’t even flinch at the thought that I’m going to have to iron it if I wear it. Trust me, this can be a big deciding factor in my outfit choice for the day.

For this dress, I did a little bit of a scrapbust, using leftover linen from these earlier makes (here and here). Like my last version, this was also a pretty heavily modified version of the Lou Box Top from Sew DIY. My version is sized down several inches through the body. The armscye are dropped at least three inches. I also narrowed the neck a smidge. For the sleeves, I added a little ruffle.

The most interesting thing to note from this make is about the lovely linen. I used a classic light weight linen called Duck Egg and a block printed linen. Both are from The Fabric Store. I think the blue is always kept in stock but the printed linen is disappearing fast. I used exactly the same blue linen to make this dress, but found the blue to be too sheer, which is why I layered the skirt. I planned to do the same for this shift but realised I didn’t actually need to. Obviously the weight of the linen hasn’t magically changed over time. The difference was the fabric I was pairing it with and the fit of the dress. The very opaque knit of the blue dress made the skirt look too lightweight and the style was also a lot more fitted. When I paired the same blue linen with a similar printed linen, the eye was no longer drawn to the lighter fabric on the bottom. The looser style also disguises any possible silhouette, should I decide to stand with my back to a window at midday.

I will wear this dress a lot. It’s very versatile in the sense that I’ll throw it on over a swimsuit to wear to the pool, and the next week I’ll dress it up with some cool shoes for work.

V9313 wrap dress in linen

This dress is already one of the favourite things I’ve ever made. I used a Vogue custom fit pattern, which has separate bodice pieces for different cup sizes. I used the A cup version. I cut a size 14 pattern as this corresponded most closely with my chest and waist measurements. Even so, I still made a few adjustments for cutting the fabric.

I added 5/8 inch to the shoulder seams on each side (as a wedge, as per my usual broad shoulders adjustment). I also added an extra half inch to the bodice length. I think I lengthened the sleeves too, but I can’t remember by how much. I also slashed and spread the sleeves by about an inch to widen them, and I cut them on the bias. Finally, I flattened the sleeve cap a little to reduce the ease. I wanted a very smooth armscye fit without much shape since I fit the bodice to sit the armscye right on the edge of my shoulders.

The pattern has great skirt options for this dress. However, I had my heart set on a gathered, midi length skirt. It’s basically just a big rectangle. As I often do, I start out by following the instructions and then get a little side-tracked with doing what I want to do. I began sewing this pattern in the same manner. The bodice is made up as per the instructons, with a fair bit of slip stitching! I lost interest in following the instructions after that so I really can’t comment on them anymore. I added a little hole in my waistband and lengthened the waistband straps so that I could wear the dress like a true wrap dress, with a tie at the back. I think the actual pattern calls for a button to secure the skirt at the front though.

The fabric is linen from The Fabric Store. I love it so much! The main stripes are a beautiful weight that really doesn’t need to be lined. The green micro striped linen is so soft and delicious that I want to make a hundred t-shirts out of it.

 

 

A Kobe Dress in Colette Dinnigan lace

My basement is currently in a bit of disarray. Unfortunately, that is where I usually sew… We’ve just had the concrete floor cut and pulled up to replace the old metal sewer pipes with brand, spanking new plastic ones. Yesterday, the concrete was poured. Today, we have a proper floor, but oh my, the dust!!! Soon, I’ll have to move everything so carpet can be put down. When the carpet is FINALLY down, I suspect I’ll take a bottle of champers to the basement to quietly celebrate in peace with my sewing equipment… for a whole weekend.

I’m currently waging a seemingly endless war against dust. But in the midst of my battles, I try to squeeze in a little sewing, even if it is only on Sundays right now. Summer break with the kiddos doesn’t help much. I don’t know why I always think I’ll find more time to sew over Summer. It never really happens.

In any case, last Sunday, I sloped off to our dusty basement (avoiding the big centre line ditch that still hadn’t been filled with concrete at that point. I slipped the drop sheets off my sewing tables and snuck in a little sewing. The outcome was a lovely lace, Kobe Dress. The pattern is one I’ve used before, by Papercut Patterns. The lace is Colette Dinnigan from Pitt Trading. The lace I used is sadly now sold out, but Pitt Trading has loads of other gorgeous laces that would do the job. My Colette lace came in panels. I used three for my version of this dress pattern, but I’m tall and I also lengthened the hem and sleeves quite a lot. I think most people could get away with using two panels to make the dress right out of the packet.

Sewing with lace isn’t that difficult. You just have to take your time. I’m by no means an expert, however, I am super happy with how this dress turned out.

To cut this lace, I knew I wanted to use the lace edge as a hem so I lined that up for the front and back. I used the entire panel length for the dress back pattern piece, and pretty much an entire panel for the front. But remember, I lengthened my dress (not sure how much by as I was most focussed on using the entire panel and lining up the hems). I’m also 5″10.  I used my third panel for the sleeves. Again, I wanted to use the lace edge to avoid hemming, so this used up most of one side of the panel. I have a little leftover lace, but no more useful lace edge left.

I finished the neckline with a narrow hem. I just took my time, basting down one fold, and then stitching slowly over the next fold. Using a walking foot helps with tension. It’s very important not to stretch the neck out as you sew, OR sew with the tension too tight. The rest of the seams in this dress are French seams. I think the fabric deserved that.

I’m wearing my Kobe dress over a black slip that is partly store-bought, and partly modified by me. It’s become one of my most important wardrobe accessories because I’m loving sheer dresses at the moment. I love this dress on it’s own, but the style also works well with a narrow belt. I’m also pleased that I spent the time on finishing it nicely with French seams. It’s a dress that I’ll probably hold on to forever.

Summer scrapbust dress in mustard linen

What do you do with all those lovely little lengths of fabric that are too small to sew even a pair of shorts, but too good to give to the kids? I usually just hold on to them and hope some inspiration comes. It often takes a very long time!

This time, I had an idea. I had several beautiful pieces of white, and mustard linen from The Fabric Store. It was leftover from these recent projects (here and here). I had my mind set on making a simple, Summer shift dress, but I wanted to test the design first. The dress pattern I used was little more than a loose sketch I made using several patterns I already own for guidance. It’s basically just two unfitted, T-shirt shaped, pattern pieces (front and back), plus some binding and cuffs for the sleeves. It’s an easy, slipover dress that will be great for throwing on over swimsuits or dressing on a hot day.

Before I could cut out any pattern pieces, I needed to create the fabric. I pieced together random lengths of linen to create a big, random design. I doubled up the white linen to give it the same density as the mustard linen (except in the shoulder area). It was fun creating the random design and quite interesting to see how they would work together in the end. Turns out that I quite like this little dress.

 

Kobe top in sheer silk

I’m a little obsessed with floaty, sheer fabrics right now. And in my world, that literally means all the silks. Liberty of London do an amazing crinkle silk which I’ve used before. I’m thinking about using it next time if I sew this pattern up as a dress. For this version, I used a divine silk georgette from The Fabric Store.

I only made a few small modifications to the pattern. I sewed up a size small which is quite close to my measurements. However, I know I have to adjust for my shoulders these days, even when the bust measurement matches perfectly.

The adjustment that works well for me is this. I draw a diagonal line from the middle of the shoulder seam to the CB of the bottom of the top (or very close to it). I slice along this line and spread the shoulder seam by about 5/8″. It generally keeps the waist the same size but adds width to top most shoulder area, which fits well with the triangular body shape that those of us with strong shoulders and lats have. I repeat with both sides, and the front and back of the top. If the top hangs well below waist level, or I am dealing with a dress, I cut the pattern off at the waist so as not to widen the waist or hip area.

My first attempt at the Kobe top turned out a little shorter in the front than I expected, even with just a narrow hem. I usually lengthen patterns in the bodice by 1/2 inch to account for my 5″10 frame. I didn’t in this case and I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s a little outside my comfort zone, but still like this top a LOT. I don’t mind the sliver of tummy. But I know this top would also pair perfectly with my high waisted jeans.

The back is sitting a little lower in the photos than I expected. I think I wear this top pushed back a little to raise the neckline. I’ve been wearing the top with a little cropped top/soft bra underneath in a complementary shade of apricot in real life to avoid the peek of bra underneath. I think it works.

 

 

Silk bias cut dress for Summer

When you find the perfect silk, you really just have to make the perfect dress. I actually had another dress in mind for this silk, but when it arrived on my doorstep, I realised that it deserved something a little better.

It’s a silk satin by Trina Turk from The Fabric Store. It has a lovely, subtle texture to the good side, and the fabric is a beautiful weight that doesn’t require lining. It’s the perfect silk for a bias cut dress!

I used a design I copied from a RTW dress a few years ago. However, I lined the front and back bodice and turned it into a halter neck instead.

 

I love this dress A LOT. And I should. It’s the perfect fit. I guess that’s why so many of us sew though, isn’t it. How amazing does it feel to slip on a dress that fits like a glove, custom-made to your unique shape only?

A Lou Box Top in white linen and jersey

In what may become one of my most worn Summer staples, I have made myself a Lou Box Top. It’s such a quick and easy sew.

I used white linen for the front of the top and lovely, cotton jersey for the back and neck binding. Both fabrics are from The Fabric Store. The linen is lightweight. I love the weight of this linen for a blouse. It’s not really sheer at all, but it does have a lightness about it. It would probably need a lining if I was making a skirt or dress. The cotton jersey is a pure cotton, and so soft. I really like the way the two different fibres and textiles pair together; cotton, linen, knit and woven.

I made a minor change to the pattern, simply lowering the armscye about 1.5 inches. Next time, I may add a little more to the shoulde seams at the neckline. It feels borderline too wide and I think I can still get away with making the top as a pullover if I shrink the neck a little. I have one other idea that I plan to try out on my next batch of delicious linen. Oh, did I not tell you, this is going to be my Summer of Linen…

 

An updated drop waist dress in printed linen

I made a bunch of drop waist dresses several years ago. I absolutely loved them. Two are still in very good condition. They just feel a bit outdated to me, so they have been packed away for another time (or for when my girls become teenagers and want to explore all the old clothes I used to make and wear).

I used the old pattern that I drafted for myself years ago. Sorry, there isn’t a pattern for this, but it is far from complicated. I used French darts and a slightly A-line shape to the dress bodice. I like French darts for this style as then blend in nicely with the A-line shape. The bodice has a hi-lo curve to it, and the gathered skirt is a little longer than I’ve used in the past. I also modified the shoulders to create ties instead of fixed seams.

The linen fabric is from The Fabric Store. It’s such a lovely, fresh print. And for those of you who like to wear linen, but have trouble with the delicious crinkles, I’d suggest you try a printed linen like this. It still wrinkles like linen, but the print kind of disguises them.

This will be such a cool and comfy dress to slip on during hot, summer days. I’ll probably wear it most over bathers, on trips to the pool, or outdoor swim meets.

Harper Fly Suit #11002

The (slang) definition of Fly is: very good; excellent; cool; awesome. Also, as any swimmer will know, the stroke of butterfly is commonly referred to as Fly.

Therefore, it made perfect sense to name this suit after the other little swim champ in the family. Miss Eight loves swimming about as much as her ten year old sister. She is also “fly” in every sense of the word. I can see her following the same path as Miss Ten, in terms of the satisfaction she derives from achieving in the sport, and her commitment to succeed. She tries about as hard in practice and racing as I’ve ever seen anyone do. I can also see her trying to identify with a component of swimming that is her own, a niche that she excels in, above and beyond, or simply different to what her big sister can do.

Big sister’s best stroke is freestyle, and she not only has a beautiful, natural stroke, she is also fiercely competitive (as a first born often is). Big sister also does reasonably well at backstroke. She wants to be great at backstroke (probably because of her mama) but I’m not sure it comes as naturally to her as it does to Harper. Harper is very good at backstroke and is strong at freestyle, but lately, she has been doing really well in butterfly, a stroke that has not come very easily to her big sister. While she still has a very long way to go with her fly, she has pretty good timing and position in the water, and a good sense of how to pull her body forward strongly.

She won a few ribbons in fly during the short course season, and now I can see that this has changed her perspective on the stroke. She takes a lot of pride in leading the lane during butterfly sets and it obviously makes her feel good. Miss Eight may or may not become a butterfly specialist in the future. She’s only little. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it is giving her enjoyment now.

I called her Madame Butterfly recently after I saw her doing some particularly great fly in practice. And then we went home to watch some videos of the original Madame Butterfly (Susie O’Neill). She loved this. And I loved seeing my little middle child find someone or something to identify with as her own.

And speaking of sisters. Cate and Bronte Campbell are the other great Australian swim stars we follow closely in this household, for very obvious reasons. It’s a challenge finding a way to compete with and cheer for your sister at the same time. But it’s also a great life lesson that I believe we are (so far) doing well at practicing. It helps to have others to look up to who also fight that same battle. Whilst watching the recent Commonwealth Games, as you can imagine, one of the most common questions I kept getting was, “who is older…?”.

And back to this suit, you can find it in my Etsy shop. The actual suit is not the one you see in the above photo from last Summer, but the smile on Miss Eight’s face is the true representation of the joy I see in this mermaid. I am yet to make Miss Eight her own (recent) version, which will no doubt be in an animal print. The actual Harper Fly Suit can be seen in action here. But I couldn’t very well name the suit after this little six year old mischief. She tolerates swimming, and goes to practice as rarely as she can, because it keeps her water safe, and because she can have a great old belly laugh with anyone she can corrupt in her lane.

This suit is very similar in fit to the Coco Racer. My girls love this style of suit. It’s what the big (National) girls were wearing all last season, so naturally all the little kids want to wear the same.