Off the shoulder dress and tutorial

Every time I wear this dress (or this one), I always get a few compliments, and yet, it is possibly the simplest dress I’ve ever sewn. It is really nothing more than two rectangles and a bit of elastic casing.

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I hesitate to call it a ‘tutorial’ because it really is so easy. Read the steps below to see why.

STEP 1. Cut two rectangles for the dress body.

 

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STEP 2. Cut two smaller rectangles for the sleeves.

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If you want a fuller volume in the dress and sleeves, simply multiply the width by 2 instead of 1.5, or any other number in between.

To create the elastic casing, you can fold down the top of the dress and sleeves. I got a little bit fancy and added a contrast band as casing.

The sleeves are attached to the dress by matching the top side seam of the dress (at the casing) to the undersleeve seam and sewing through both securely to fix them in place.

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This dress is a style of off the shoulder that I’ve seen in some high end RTW (despite the simplicity of the design!). It shows a little underarm cleavage but the elastic allows a good range of arm movement.

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My dress was made using vintage cotton/silk voile, which I lined with a bit of cream silk habutai from my stash. It’s a very lightweight and cool dress that can easily be dressed up with a pair of funky heels. I wore it most recently to an evening function in sweltering KC. It was bliss.

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I also want to mention the shoulder straps that you see in some of the photos as they quite obviously aren’t a part of this tutorial (you can find a bit more information about them here). Several months ago, I made my first off the shoulder dress (to a slightly different design). I wear it as an off the shoulder dress sometimes, but mostly I wear it with the same bra that you see in these photos. The bra is just stock standard in my closet, but I covered the straps in the same fabric as the dress so it looks like it is a part of the dress. I hate strapless bras, so the bra increases the wearability of the dress for me.

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A playsuit for Miss Five

Miss Five has had her heart set on a cheetah print playsuit for a while now. She fell in love with a silk swatch I ordered a while back and I convinced her that it would suit a little playsuit. The idea of her in cheetah print kind of appeals to me. But because I was drafting this pattern myself, I thought I’d test it out with scraps first.


The bodice is made using some beautiful Art Gallery scraps from my Carolyn Pyjamas and wrap pants. I had such a small amount of this left that both the front and back bodice pieces have centre seams. It’s not ideal, but you can hardly notice with the busy print.

 

 
 
 

The pants are refashioned from my long yellow kimono jacket. When cutting the pattern pieces, I positioned them along the side seams to preserve the pockets for the playsuit pants. The kimono rayon is heavy and drapey, but those pants would work just as well in another type of knit or even a woven fabric.


Gaucho pants and culottes are so hot right now and I love being able to translate this trend into some cool kiddie clothes. Miss Five fell instantly in love with this little playsuit and I can see her getting loads of wear out of it in summer. It’s comfortable, cute, and most importantly, she can get it on and off without too much bother.

Last stop on the Pinwheel Slip dress brigade

Remember this maxi skirt that I made last Summer. It was a part of a two-piece set-acular. I still have the top. The skirt has been really great to me. The fabric is beautiful and I’ve worn it a lot. I haven’t stopped liking it but I’ve have recently replaced it with a maxi skirt that I like so much more. I’m a realist when it comes to knowing what I actually will wear and what I won’t and there’s only room for one winner in my wardrobe. Let’s just call it a leadership spill in the case of the maxi skirts.

The thing I love about maxi skirts is the huge amount of uncut fabric that goes into making them. In my eyes, this basically gives them two lives (if the fabric is up to scratch). This fabric was. It is a stunning voile that is heavier than your standard voile, but much lighter than a quilting weight cotton, and it has a pretty, slightly satiny finish. It still looks brand new, despite numerous washes and wears.

 

I was able to sneak two Oliver + S Pinwheel slip dresses out of it. I’ll call that a win. I cut one in a size 12, which is currently in transit to it’s recipient in Australia. The other was made up in a size 3 for my littlest peep. Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what size I cut for this little peep. I suspect I made a mistake during some late night tracing because the skirt front didn’t match the bodice and I had to take a little bit out of the sideseams to fix it on the fly. It’s no big deal though. Little peep still loves her new dress. And she’s got this modelling thing down pat. Queue side pose with robot arms. And that FACE!

And now, are you ready for the grand finale of model poses.
 

Just for the camera, here is her best head tilt and phoniest smile. 




The back to front switcharoo

So my last fabric dyeing session wasn’t a great success. I decided to have a go at creating some floral designs on a light cotton/silk voile. Somehow, my hand decided to draw monster flowers, rather than the delicate buds in my minds eye. I also realised later that I hadn’t mixed the dye thoroughly enough and you can see grainy ‘dots’ of dye all through my flowers. You can only just see this dotty effect in the photo, but in real life it is quite an obvious flaw in the semi sheer fabric.

I can’t bear to throw away fabric, so I decided to make a summer nightie for my daughter using the pattern below. I chose to make the sleeveless nightie in View D, albeit a little shorter.

This is probably the oldest pattern I have ever attempted. The instructions were very clear and the tissue pieces were so delicate with several parts missing. I must also admit that I rushed through this project and didn’t take the time to transfer the markings from the paper correctly (well those that hadn’t been lost in time). I also skipped the ribbon seam binding because I didn’t have it at hand. The dress may have looked a little better with the ribbon, but I still don’t think it could have salvaged the nightie. But hang on…what happens if we turn the nightie around?! It’s just fabulous Mummy, all problems solved, and I especially love the big flower at centre front!