Esther shorts and a little refashioning

The Esther shorts pattern is a very old tried ‘n’ true pattern for me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sewn them up. I love the high waisted design. My preference is to sew them up in a medium weight, cotton/elastane (2-3%) blend. And given the frequency with which I’ve made them, that is probably all I need to say on the matter.

I’ve also been doing a bit of refashioning around these parts (nothing new, you say!). One of my favourite, casual, silk dresses was getting a little old and starting to look a bit too sheer in the skirt. The logical solution was to chop off the skirt. Now it’s a cute little top!

I didn’t waste the skirt portion though. The pale, neutral colours of the silk have made it a great option for lining a little Summer dress for Miss Eight. More on that one later though!


White Esthers and a knit raglan

There’s never any fabric waste in my house, especially when it’s something as lovely as this Saratoga knit by O! Jolly!. I only had the tiniest amount left after finishing my Megan longline cardigan, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.


I used the raglan view of V8952 as a base for the top. I made a few fit modifications, raised the neckline, and added my own neck and hem bands. I used some plain white ponte for the back and sleeves, and seamed together three scraps of Saratoga knit for the front. I love the texture of the spongy knit as a feature and the contrast of cream against white.




The shorts are an old favourite and TNT for me. I used the Esther shorts pattern and simply added an asymmetrical overlay at the front. I used scraps for this make too. I salvaged some gorgeous, meaty Theory cotton sateen (from this dress) to use for the back of the shorts and for the front overlay. The dress was tired (with a few stains) and needed to be retired. I didn’t have quite enough sateen though, so I used some scrap linen for the shorts front and overlay lining. The linen was too lightweight for the shorts on its own, but perfect for this design where the front is layered.


I’ll wear these shorts a lot. I made a yellow version a few  years ago which are still on the go, but have been downgraded to gardening/painting gear. It feels good to replace a wardrobe item that was very much loved.


Inside information on Miss Six’s dress pattern: another sort-of-tutorial

This is a follow up post from the one I ran yesterday. Thank you for all the lovely comments, especially if I didn’t get a chance to reply. I have to admit, that I’m more than a little bit in love with this dress myself, so I can totally understand why many of you want to know more about it. I thought I’d share my process of creating the pattern.
Firstly, here is a picture of the dress laid flat. You can see the buttonhole in the bodice and how the back strap is connected as one piece. The ‘bow’ is to the right.

The portion of the back strap that I’m holding between my fingers is the amount that passes through the buttonhole. 

The fabric I used for this dress was a thick cotton sateen (doubled up both ways because of self-fabric lining). My bow was also quite wide. The bulky amount of thick fabric that needed to wrap around the bow fabric on the outer side of the buttonhole meant that I needed to allow for 2-3 extra inches of length in the back strap. If I was using silk CDC (a thinner, lighter fabric), I could have shortened the strap.

And now for how the pattern pieces look, and how I created this design from a basic bodice sloper. In the picture below, I’ve overlapped the seams of a basic front and back bodice piece. This is what I started with.

I made the basic dress sloper up in a muslin first to see where I wanted the top of the bodice to reach to. I then drew up the new shape of the bodice. I found that I had to bring the sides in slightly for the new (strapless) design.

To work out how long the straps needed to be, I employed the use of some seriously scientific guesswork. I basically just did what you can see below. I measured from the shoulder strap to the middle of the buttonhole in a line that I imagined the straps would naturally be pulled into. As you can see from the pattern piece below (my first draft), I initially failed to take into account the portion of the strap that would extend past the buttonhole to wrap around the bow. I ended up lengthening this pattern piece by about 1.5″ for the final dress version.

And that is all there is to this design. It’s really very simple, but also so very cute. And I’m very confident that a certain person would have absolutely no problems in modifying a certain Two Fruits dress into a Mummy sized version.

Drop it for the skirt

Can I call this a drop waist skirt? Well, if I can, it’s so totally me! I made my first version of this skirt up a few weeks ago and I’ve been loving it to pieces ever since. This time, I jazzed the pattern up a little by adding a couple of cute front pockets. I also found a way to use up some completely and utterly amazing fabric scraps I had lying around.


The way the skirt hugs the hips, and the addition of the front panels makes this skirt so much more flattering than a basic, gathered skirt. Here are some shots with a simple white top, which show the details of the skirt more clearly.





In real life, I’ll be wearing it with my favourite stripes, which is the main reason I designed that top in the first place.





Three clicks and she’s home

All I can think of when I see that glorious green is Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz. It truly is the most amazing shade of green, and in a great value cotton sateen to boot.

I used a couple of Liberty covered buttons and elastic loops to fasten the back of this dress because I’m all about easy dressing with my little peeps. Hand-worked or fabric loops would have looked lovely instead of the elastic though.

This is a self-drafted pattern, and it has a cute little front bow just like my last little yellow dress. I think the bow works beautifully with the style. I chose a medium/heavy weight cotton for my version because I wanted structure and body in the dress, but the style would work just as well in a lighter cotton or voile.

Like all new patterns, this one still has a bit of work to go, but it’s already getting a big tick of approval from Miss Five.

A whole lot of squiggles in a playsuit

Those of you who follow me on Instagram might be under the impression that I’m a little bit besotted by wide leg pants. You’ve probably seen the pink pair of fancy pants that I made a few months ago. Well the obsession is far from over. 


This time, I’ve managed to create something that incorporates two of my favourite things: playsuits and wide leg pants, oh and we could also count squiggles. Mr Squiggle is, after all, one of my all time favourite shows.


The fabric I used is a gloriously sturdy cotton with a tiny bit of stretch. I’m so in love with those squiggles. I think they are perfectly suited to a playsuit and if they hadn’t sold out in a fraction of a second, I’m pretty sure I’d be heading back for seconds.

The pattern is self-drafted and I’m very happy with the way it fits. The pants rock, but the bodice still needs a little work. I’m also pretty miffed with myself for not thinking of stay-stitching/applying fusible tape to the neckline and back of the pants. Sometimes I get a bit overexcited when I’m working on a new pattern and my brain stops working for a bit. Thankfully, those parts didn’t stretch out too badly during construction. They just aren’t perfect.

The story behind my ‘Challenge’ dress and other dress pattern options

Rhonda recently asked me to do a guest post on her blog (Rhonda’s Creative Life) about my process behind designing this dress. I’m sure many of you already follow this inspiring woman, but for those that may have missed this post, I thought I’d do a summary here and include some additional pattern ideas at the end. Whilst I know this isn’t exactly a tutorial, pictures of flat pattern pieces always help me to get a better idea of how to attack a new design, so perhaps it may help you too.

I’m self-taught when it comes to sewing and design, so I am aware that some of my methods may be unconventional, but they seem to work for me (most of the time!). This time I started with a pattern that I created myself, nearly two years ago. The pattern was for this drop waist dress. I’ve made several dresses using this pattern, including some long sleeve variations, which you can easily find on my blog if you search ‘drop waist’. My love of the drop waist is a poorly kept secret.

I created the original drop waist dress pattern by draping, with the help of a favourite text book. I only have some very basic draping skills, but I do find it to be the best way for me to achieve a good bodice fit, as well as get my head around unusual or new-to-me designs.

So my starting point was a drop waist dress with long French darts and a front zipper (in those days I was breastfeeding on the hour!). This is how the flat pattern pieces of the bodice looked.

My first step was to redraft the side seam to incorporate a triangular side panel. To do this, I lined up the side seams with each other,and drew in new lines where I wanted the side panel seams to go. Here, I’ve pinned together the front and back bodice pieces.

Now you can see where I re-drew my side seams to make the panel. The overlay is the side panel piece from my Challenge dress. The purple line is the where the original side seam would be.

I also had to consider the dart size at this point. By adding the side panel, I was also reducing the size of the dart. I wasn’t too bothered by this because my bust is a little smaller (without the breastfeeding!) since I’d made the original pattern. However, I still found the dress a little snug across the chest (not bust volume) after my first muslin, so I ended up adding a tiny bit of extra width to the front side seam.

This is what the final pattern pieces of the challenge dress (bodice) looked like. The back piece, to the left, also shows the extra wedge that I added to the back to increase the A-line shape of the dress. My original muslin didn’t include this and I found that the dress looked to “flat” at the back.

In the picture below, my drop waist dress pattern is overlaying my Challenge dress pieces so you can see how I extended the length and modified the shape of the bottom.

When I finally had the bodice shape right, I went about drafting the flounce. I measured and traced the contour of the bottom of all the bodice pieces and drew up a skirt that extended along the natural A-line shape of the dress. To turn the skirt into a flounce, I slashed it in 2-3 places to give it a slight flare. There’s a great tutorial here, on how to create a flounce for a skirt.

The organza panel is simply a part of the skirt. I drew up that panel after I was happy with the skirt shape.

Hopefully, this explanation gives you a better insight into how I came up with my design. I, for one, always find it interesting how the flat pattern pieces look compared with the finished 3D garment. And if drafting a dress from scratch isn’t your jam, I’ve come across a few other patterns that have a similar silhouette to this dress, that you could quite easily modify to add a flounce or some sheer organza.

Pattern Fantastique: Celestial dress
*disclaimer* This pattern was given to me by Nita of Pattern Fantastique, but I wouldn’t have accepted it if it didn’t excite me. I haven’t used the pattern yet, but after seeing several great versions of it over the past few months (Thornberry, Sew Urbane, Artworker Projects ) I’m looking forward to trying it out in Summer.

McCall’s 6555: This dress has a pleat down the front and is much more voluminous than mine, but you could easily ditch some, or all of the pleats (carefully considering bust width) to create a more streamlined look.

Tessuti’s new Sopie dress: I’m in love with the higher neckline look of this dress. It has a similar easy shape that works beautifully with linen. Adding a sheer organza panel to the bottom would look amazing, with or without a flounce. I’d love to see the contrast of crinkly linen with the smooth, cloudy, sheerness of silk organza.

Rosie Assoulin for Miss Six

When I make clothes for my girls, I usually like to switch off, follow a pattern or only make small, undemanding modifications (usually with a glass of wine in hand!). Patternmaking is hard work! I love the challenge, but it sometimes it makes my brain bleed.

I never make muslins for my girls either. Being blessed with three of them (less than two years apart), I’ve always been of the mind that if it doesn’t fit one girl, it will fit the next. This is my eldest child’s glum face because somehow the middle child ends up with a wardrobe double that of anyone else in this house. 

Middle child won’t be getting this dress though (well not immediately anyway!). I stepped outside of my kid-sewing box. I took the time to measure my child and rather than my usual slap-dashery, I spent time drafting a basic dress block that was in line with her exact measurements. I even made it up in a muslin. It didn’t take long, which makes me wonder why I’ve never done it before. Kids are basically straight up and down without any curves to throw you off kilter. 


I’m not going to claim that this dress was born completely of my imaginings. It’s way too cute for that. I took some inspiration from the details I saw recently in a Rosie Assoulin dress. As you can see from the photo below, the front bodice is genius in it’s pretty simplicity. I block fused the entire front bodice piece (with a lightweight, shirt-making fusible) to ensure that the top had enough structure to maintain it’s shape above the bow. I didn’t want to risk it flopping over. 

The fabric I used was leftover cotton sateen from my recent drop waist dress and I secured the back with some pretty vintage, gold-toned buttons. I recycle as many buttons as I can. These ones came from a retired Kanerva hack.

I’m really happy with this dress, but more importantly, Miss Six thinks it’s the absolute goods. I wasn’t entirely sure what she would think of having a big bow on the front of the dress, but it turned out to be quite the winner.

The yellow drop waist refashioned

You’ve seen a slightly different version of this dress before. I wasn’t happy with it and although I meant to walk away, I simply couldn’t stay away for long. There was too much about the original version that I did like. It had potential. Unrealised potential.

 So what did I do to improve on the original? I cut away the skirt, raised the bodice a little, changed the front bodice shape, and redrafted the skirt completely. I think I’ve come away with a much better dress. And have I said before how much I like yellow right now? Could it be that some of those yellow pineapples I keep seeing in blogland are finally rubbing off on me?


The floral fabric challenge

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Rhonda Buss recently (of Rhonda’s Creative Life), to take part in a little sewing challenge. The guidelines were pretty simple. Ten participants were each sent the same panel of fabric to make an item of clothing. Of course I was going to say yes. I love a good challenge.


I’m not usually big on florals, so it was quite fun to come up with a style and design that would showcase the fabric, and yet still be true to my own personal sense of style. The fabric itself was a very drapey, textured barkcloth. It has a similar hand to rayon or some woven viscose blends. It was only a small panel, so I ended up using all of it, and in fact, drafted the side triangular panels of this dress specifically to accomodate it’s short length.

In sketching out some of my initial design ideas for this dress, I realised that I was going to have to stabilise the drapey, challenge fabric in order to sucessfully make the kind of dress that I had in mind. This was easy to do though. I fused ProWoven Shirt-Crisp interfacing to my drapey, floral fabric, and voíla, it turned into a lovely crisp textile with a more structured hand, and an almost identical drape to the weighty Theory cotton sateen that I was using for the rest of the dress. It also dealt with the fact that I had to cut the fabric on an obscure bias in order to place the flowers in the position that I wanted.

The design is my own. I used my drop-waist dress pattern and modified it. My main changes were to add the side panels and change the shape of the side seams. I graduated the hemline and added a slightly flared flounce with a silk organza panel in between. I also added inseam pockets because every dress needs pockets. 

All good dresses also need a *twirl* photo. I definitely think twirling shows off the shape of the dress better. I might twirl instead of walk when I wear it.


Because the main white fabric is such thick cotton, and because of the design, I didn’t want to line the dress. I drafted an all-in-one neckline and armscye facing and understitched for a clean finish. The back is fastened with a hand-worked silk loop and a beautiful glass button. I love glass buttons. I feel like they add a special touch.

I really love how this dress turned out. I’ve been dreaming of a dress design like this for a while now, but had been putting off doing anything about it because it’s just so seasonally inappropriate. I love that this challenge enabled me to make something that I’ve been wanting to create anyway.

It’s been a long post so if you are still with me, awesome! Please don’t forget to head over to Rhonda’s Creative life because there will be voting soon. You will also be able to check out the other fabulous entries there.