Category Archives: patternmaking

A mini Chloe dress for Miss Eight

My girls have been watching my production of cold-shoulder dresses and tops and begging me to make them the same. This make is literally all scraps, right down to the miscellaneous, handmade, but unmatched silk and rayon bias bindings.

It’s almost an exact replica of my Chloe dress pattern, but in a mini size.

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The fabric is an old poly from Spotlight. It fades a little, and catches occasionally, but it’s lightweight, and otherwise wears pretty well. In fact, it wears incredibly well, because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Miss Eight wearing her other dress in this fabric at least twice a week since I made it.

This dress was always intended as a wearable muslin, but it has turned into one of those rare occasions where I don’t want to change a single thing about it. And I’m pretty sure Miss Eight feels the same. I’ve been watching her wear it. It looks comfortable and non-restrictive for play. It’s nearly too short for her, but she likes to wear bike pants under dresses anyway, so it still works. On an average height girl, the dress would be more modest.

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Miss Six and Miss Four have put in their orders so I better get to work grading this pattern down for them. It looks like we might all be twinning in a few weeks.

Authentic 70’s cold shoulder blouse

I’m calling this authentic because the thread and the fabric were both picked up at an estate sale. It’s plausible that the fabric is from the 70’s. It certainly looks the part.

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To be perfectly honest, most of the fabric I find at estate sales is truly awful. There’s lots of old, rough quilting remnants, ugly home deco cottons, and dusty poly knits. The pricing is often absurd too, clearly valued by people who know nothing about fabric and sewing. I walk past a lot of rubbish. However, every now and then I find a gem and a bargain.

This fabric was a part of several bundles that I found at one particular house several months ago. Each bundle was $1-3 and contained 3-5 remnants of varying lengths. I was immediately apparent to me that some of the fabric was of high quality, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the exact fibre content of a fabric without a burn test, particularly with “nicer” synthetics. So I nabbed three of the more appealing bundles and took them home to inspect more closely.

Subsequent burn tests revealed a LOT of silk in that bundle, including this absolute gem. Needless to say, I popped back to the sale later that day and grabbed the remaining decent bundles. I ended up with several long lengths of pretty silks, two really long lengths of Liberty of London (one was a wool blend), and a few nice poly and cotton florals. Some prints are old fashioned, but even so, are still delightful for the right project.

I was able to determine that this particular floral fabric was a synthetic. It doesn’t press. It definitely melts (please don’t ask me about this!)! It’s stiffer than a silk chiffon. It’s not my kind of fabric at all, but I LOVED the 70’s vibe of the print. It was going to make the perfect partner for my suede mini and flares.

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I wasn’t planning to spend much time or effort on a horrid poly like this but I didn’t have a lot of choice. I needed to bind the raw edges somehow. Self-fabric binding would have been beautiful (but an awful job with a fabric that won’t hold a crease). My solution was to use some sheer pink, silk organza that I already had on hand. Obviously, silk organza presses well but I’ve never used it for bias binding before. It’s a very crisp fabric to begin with but after several washes, silk organza turns super soft. It was the perfect compliment to this sheer blouse.

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NEW PATTERN // Cartwheel Shorts // custom made in linen

Introducing my newest pattern, the Cartwheel Shorts. These easy, comfy, cartwheel-compatible shorts are suitable for ages 3-10 (approximately). They work well in a variety of woven fabrics, but my favourite versions have been made up in silk CDC and the linen that you see below.

I have ulterior motives in my pattern making. I only make patterns that I love, or that I love seeing on my girls. If I don’t want to see several versions of the same item on my girls every day (or in my own wardrobe), then that pattern isn’t meant to be. I’ll confess that a big motivation behind taking my pattern making to a new level (to include grading) simply comes down to two words: three daughters! I love being able to print out a pattern in three different sizes, and to the exact design that I’d been dreaming of. This shorts pattern is a perfect example. I wanted a dressier looking shorts pattern that would suit my aesthetics, tick their box of approval, and be practical enough for them to play in and wear to school. There were a lot of boxes for me to tick!

The version that you see below was specifically requested by Miss Seven. I drew the line at turquoise linen. Purple was also mentioned in the order, but I neither had purple in my stash, nor was I inclined to compromise my perfectly beautiful Tessuti linen with a purple hem and waistband. I have, however, since changed the buttons that you see below to purple ones.

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I made these shorts up in  View B, which is the same (very slightly tweaked) design as Miss Seven’s recent Cartwheel shorts. An example of View A is Miss Three’s recent fairy shorts, which are shorter, with a cuff.

Miss Seven is wearing an Oliver + S Badminton Top with her new linen shorts.

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A blue cotton top

I’m putting this top to bed. I like it from some angles and not from others. I might still wear it, or I might cut it up and modify it, but I don’t think I want to make another.

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The fabric that I’ve used does it no favours. It’s a denim-look cotton shirting with just enough stretch to keep the bound armscye and neckline permanently wrinkled, despite a good pressing.

Perhaps I could lower the neckline and change the shape of the front armscye, or add darts, but I’m just not loving it either way. And I need to love it if I’m going to spend any more time on it. Sometimes you just have to let things go.

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Long sleeves in linen

I started sewing clothes for myself in 2012. Before that, my sewing was all about kiddie stuff and quilting cotton. It was also the year I discovered that I could sew with ponte knits and linen. I quite simply overdosed that year. Lucky for you guys, this was also before I started blogging.

I’ve always loved linen, but it’s one of those fabrics that I rarely, if ever, saw in the RTW shops I frequented back then. So it was mindblowing to me that I could suddenly make everything in linen. So did I? Yes. I. Did.

I’ve since had a few years without a lot of linen in my wardrobe. There’s been the odd thing, but nothing like it was in 2012. However, I feel the season changing. I am so in love with it right now. It’s like my long lost friend has returned.

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The thing about linen though, is that it is one of the fabrics I am most pickiest about in terms of quality. I loath buying it online. I’ve been disappointed a few times when I’ve opted for the cheaper option. I recently purchased a length of European white linen from Fabric dot com. In the description it was recommended for making dresses, pants, anything. Let’s just say, I’m ditching the idea of using it for a Summer top and might simply hem it for use as a pretty table cloth instead. I think I’m a linen snob.

The linen I used for this top came all the way from Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney, one of the few places I trust implicitly in buying linen from without ordering a swatch first (online shopping is sadly my only way to purchase quality fabric in the Midwest). This linen is truly delicious. I could iron it better, but I really, really love linen crinkles.

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This top is the long sleeve variation of a pattern I’m working on right now. I paired it with my long leather shorts.

If everything goes to plan, I might be ready for testers in a few weeks. It takes time because I want to make sure that even my testers get a good experience.  If you are interested in testing this or anything else in the future, please head over to my Facebook page, Lily Sage & Co. To avoid driving non-tester inclined blog readers batty,  I will only be putting the tester call out there from now on.

NEW PATTERN ALERT: The Sea Change top + discount code

I’m so excited to announce a that a new pattern is available in my shop today. It’s the Sea Change top, an easy fitting, kimono style top that is just perfect for high waist jeans and skirts. And in honour of this exciting day, I’m also discounting the pattern (and everything else in my shop, including the Twirl to Me dress pattern) for the next seven days. Use code: SEACHANGE15

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I’ve already been getting a lot of wear out of my versions, and I have a few more planned for Summer.  It’s such an easy and versatile top. Check out the pattern yourself here.

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.