Category Archives: silk

A very special Oliver + S School Photo dress

Since Christmas, Miss Six has been wearing her corduroy School Photo dress every other day. She layers it with tights and a long sleeve top to wear to school. It has become her absolute favourite dress. But even better than this is the fact that I also love the look of it. It’s a very smart looking little dress. It’s also clearly very comfortable and warm, given that it is fully lined. 

Now, I don’t often sew clothes for people outside of my immediate family, but the idea of sewing this particular dress for my niece just seemed like the most perfect idea. My niece was born only a week apart from my Miss six, so I was confident with the sizing, as well as the style. It has been such a winner of a dress with my daughter that I hope it will be loved as much by her cousin. 

 
 
For my niece’s version, I used up my last little bits of leftover wool and cashmere scraps. I barely had enough to make this dress, and in fact, I still had to make a few concessions to stretch it far enough. The dress hem is only 1cm. I had to substitute a decent hem to get enough length in the cashmere panel. I also would have liked slightly longer ruffles on the sleeves. But these are only small things in the whole scheme of things.
 
 
 
My only modification to the pattern was in turning the sleeve panels into ruffles. I cut these on the bias which seems to make them curve around and under and hold a beautiful bell shape. This is very much what I wanted them to do, so I think I’m going to store up this idea of sleeve ruffles on the bias for next time.
 

 

I took my time making this dress. The hem was blind stitched by hand and the zipper was hand-stitched to the silk lining scraps, as was deserving of the beautiful fabric I was using. I’m also pretty pleased with my precision seam matching. I shared my newfound trick on how to achieve this on my Instagram account.  


All in all, the dress turned out beautifully. I’m super excited about sending it off to her cousin in Australia. It will arrive a few months before her birthday, but that’s how I roll with presents. My best gifts always miss the target date! And besides, I want her to be able to wear it while it will still fit perfectly, and on the odd chance that Melbourne gets a Wintery day or two before the end of Summer.

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.

 

Butterick 6900: A leather blocked, drop shoulder coat

I’d like to share with you a pretty typical conversation that ensues each time I break out something new that I’ve made for myself.

Me: What do you think of my new coat? (pre-empting some inevitable design confusion) It’s a drop shoulder design. It’s supposed to be unfitted. 

Husband: It’s interesting. I like it. (moving closer to inspect my stitching and style lines better) It’s really good. But it’s a bit big for you. Look at the shoulders.

Me: It’s the design. That’s why they’re called drop shoulders.

Husband: It’s a bit big at the back too. It looks a bit masculine.

Me: Yeeeeeesss (my speech slows and perhaps my eyes begin to roll a little). It’s the design. It’s a boxy, oversize, drop shoulder style of coat.

Husband: You know, it would look great if you cinched in the waist with a really wide belt.

Me: Yes. It. Would.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the original coat that caught my eye and that ended up becoming my design inspiration. I also shared a few sketches of my own coat in the early planning stages. I’m pretty useless at drawing, but Fashionary is a great way for me to get my ideas down on paper, so that I can solidify a design in my head, and then have something to refer back to when I’m playing around with the actual pattern pieces. 

For this coat, I started with Butterick 6900, but I made a lot of modifications:

  • Lengthened the shoulder seams and dropped the armscye to achieve the oversized, drop shoulder look, rather than a coat that just looks too big (Husband you know nothing!)
  • Sharpened the collar to a point
  • drafted a lining to include the existing facing pieces
  • shortened View B by 4″
  • changed the position of the welt pockets and slimmed them down
  • lengthened the sleeves
  • added a front and back yoke to accommodate and suit the size of leather I had to work with
  • added shaped panels to the sleeves in contrast wool and lambskin
  • top-stitched some contrast lambskin and cowhide to the bottom of the coat 
 

 
 
 

The cowhide I used, as you know, was upcycled from my leather skirt. The grey fabric is a beautiful, medium/heavyweight, double faced wool. One side is grey and the other is a pretty plaid. Both sides are invisibly stitched together very securely. The edge of the swatch in my photo is separated because I actively removed the stitches to pull both fabrics apart.


Even though I didn’t make the most of both sides of this great fabric, I still found it useful in reducing the bulk in my coat. I only used one layer of the wool fabric for the collar underside since the leather was so bulky. I also carefully separated and cut away the grey seam allowance when preparing the facing to attach to the bulky leather at the front of the coat.

I preferred the plain grey for the outer of this particular coat and I only used the plaid for the front facing, but if I had a limitless budget, I would definitely buy more of this great double faced wool and make it up quite simply and unmodified in and unlined coat like Vogue 8930.

In terms of construction, I underlined both the front and back leather yokes with hair canvas.
The lining I used for my coat was a sleek Ralph Lauren polka dot silk CDC. I also used a bit of blue lambskin for the contrast panels and pocket welts.

I am so pleased with how this coat turned out. It isn’t perfect. I had a lot of trouble top-stitching through the thickness of the cowhide in many places. However, with a little handstitching and compromise, I don’t think that this is too noticeable. I also haven’t decided on front closures. I quite like the clean, no-closure look. I could have used magnets, but the coat keeps closed well enough on it’s own because of it’s roomy nature. I’m also considering buttonholes, via an embroidery house or by hand. I love my Pfaff, but I think coat buttonholes need a bit of extra special treatment to look professional. I’ve also thought about leather buckle/toggles, but I’m quite happy with the coat as it is right now.

Playing dress ups with my two-piece set-actular


I know you’ve seen my fancy pants before. I blogged about my Rigel bomber hack recently too. And if you follow me on Instagram, I shared these pictures yesterday, so please feel free to tune out now if you already have pink-overload. Some would say that this is the mother of all two-piece set-aculars. Or, according to my husband, I’m tracksuiting it up for you. Because I can.
 


 
 

 

My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary in a few weeks and I’m thinking this outfit might be perfect for that occasion. I keep warning him that one day, I am going to be that old lady with purple hair, red lipstick and rhinestones on her walking cane. My gift to you dear husband, is the perfect glimpse into your future….bwahaha!  

 

 


A second scrappy Christmas skirt

This is my last little Christmas gift catch-up post. It’s another scrappy silk skirt, made in exactly the same way as the one in my last post. This is also the last of my beautiful butterfly silk CDC (which you’ve now seen more times than I care to remember).
 

 

And the best thing about this skirt is it’s swish-factor.
 



One scrappy Christmas skirt

I keep most of my little silk scraps because they make such beautiful swishy little skirts. Mostly, the scraps are all off grain, and in awkward shapes and lengths but this doesn’t matter one bit. I just hem the edges, gather the pieces, and then layer them randomly until a skirt is formed. The waistband is just a length of elastic, encased in a fabric waistband.

I made this skirt with leftover Cracked Glass CDC from my Summertime Anna, Chanel-inspired ensemble, and little birdie polyester dress.

 It’s a very swishy skirt!

But now I must take my handbag and go Mummy.

A Rigel bomber jacket for January, slightly modified of course!

When I heard Ginger was planning Rigel bomber jacket January, I vaguely considered the idea, but pretty much dismissed it. I did have a quick look through my stash to see if I could inspire myself, but the idea of another bomber just didn’t excite me. This is possibly because I already have a particularly fabulous one that I wear year round.

But then I laid my eyes on a pile of gorgeous cashmere and fuschia double faced crepe wool scraps left over from my recent Dior jacket and wide leg fancy pants. Combined, I had the perfect amount for a bomber, but more importantly, a seed of inspiration had planted itself in my brain.  

I’ve made a Rigel bomber before, so I was confident with it’s construction and how it would fit me. It’s a great pattern. I love the shape, the fit, the cute welt pockets and the original neckline. I do believe it needs a lining though, but this is easy enough to do. I was lazy and just re-cut the pattern pieces in some leftover Caroline Herrera silk twill. If I was feeling more energetic, I would have drafted the lining to incorporate the existing self-fabric facing. The latter would have looked more professional, but both ways work.



This time round, I wanted to move slightly away from the traditional bomber shape. My changes to the original pattern weren’t huge, but they have had a major effect on both the look and the silhouette of the jacket.

So what did I do:

  • I raised the neckline and drafted an overlapping mandarin style collar. I used a leather buckle to fasten the collar, but most likely it will be left undone when I wear it.

  • I also widened the sleeves by A LOT, shortened them, and added sleeve cuffs. I slashed and pieced the original sleeves, using my blue wool coat as a guide because that was the kimono-like shape I was after.
  • I added a contrast panel to the back piece and matching cuffs for the sleeves.
  • I ditched the idea of using ribbing because a colour match with my amazingly vibrant wool or cashmere contrast would have been near impossible. Instead, I lengthened the hem pattern piece and used more contrast fabric. The contrast is cashmere so without the stretch, it has given my bomber a boxier look. I like this. 

I’m pretty happy with this make. I know I will get heaps of wear out of it, because I know how much I already wear my other Rigel bomber. This one will be warmer though, and the colours make it a little more special.