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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Spring fling

Though there are a couple of weeks left to winter the weather here in Melbourne has turned and it really feels like spring has sprung.  The lovely sunshine and warmer weather has got me thinking about my spring wardrobe and I’ve decided than rather just to go with my usual ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ sewing regime, I would try to work to a plan.  To this end I went through my pattern stash and picked out some patterns that I thought would be right for spring, then rummaged through my fabric stash and tried to match up the patterns and the fabric.  This is what I came up with:

Colette 'Crepe'

I originally bought this pattern to participate in Gertie’s Sew-along, but time got the best of me, and I never got around to it.  The time, I think, has finally arrived.  An easy to wear wrap dress is always welcome when the weather is fine, and you don’t want to waste any time dressing when you could be in the sunshine!  The fabric is a navy blue cotton with a lovely, large hibiscus print.  I bought the fabric from an Hawaiian online store – so many awesome prints…I could spend a fortune here.

Simplicity 3941

This made the list as a) I need to get over my thing about making shirts, b) I’ve had this fabric in my stash for a while (and even bought the matching red stripe), and c) it’s a pretty awesome pattern as far as shirts go.  I think I’ll make the short sleeved view 2.

Simplicity 6340

When I first pulled this pattern out for inclusion it was for the simple skirt.  However, when I paired it with this lovely piece of fabric I started to consider making the top instead (view 1, with the great bow detail).  This is mainly due to the fact that the fabric is actually a lot more pale in colour than this photo shows, and I’m afraid that it will lose its loveliness next to the pasty white of my legs.  The more I think about it the more I think the top is a better idea…

Simplicity 4438

I bought this fabric in India, and it’s lovely, and soft and rather sheer, so it will need lining.  The print is also, to me, crying out for a 1940s style pattern.  This pattern is actually from 1952, but the gathering detail on the shoulders and the simple skirt invoke the classic 40s style, so I think this will be perfect.

McCall's 5784

My favourite pattern with my favourite fabric!  Enough said.

Simplicity 4697

Another fabric purchase from India, and the only fabric in this current collection that doesn’t involve hues of blue…This piece is cotton and lovely and airy, so it’ll be a great dress to wear to work on warm days.  I’m really hoping to make the most of the red border print of the fabric, and at this point have thoughts of incorporating it into the tie around the neck.  My best laid plans however, have a tendency not to work out, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

What do you think of my pattern and fabric choices?  With the change of season upon us, are you starting to think about your next sewing cycle, or are you more organised than me and have already started getting ready for the warmer/cooler weather?



Tooling around

My latest finished project is a little different to the majority of my sewing undertakings, in that it’s not clothing.  I made some tools…from felt!

A child of some of our friends was turning one, so I searched the web for a gift idea that I could make myself, and I found the world of felt toy making.  There are so many amazing creations out there, but most seemed to geared toward little girls, so I was rapt when I found this tool kit perfect for a little boy.  Now he can fix things around the house to help out mum and dad!

The cutest screws I've ever seen

Saw and square


All tucked away to take to a job

Claw hammer

The whole kit

The toys were so fun to make, and after sewing with slippery and fiddly fabrics, working with felt for a while was a dream.  I bought the pattern for the tool kit from this etsy store, but there are so many more stores and imagination-sparking patterns and ideas out there.  I can’t wait to make my next felt creations!

We’re off to see the wizard…

In a fashion very typical of me, I finished my dress for the ball at almost the very last moment…at 11pm last night!  As detailed in my last post it was made from pattern Simplicity 4744.  Here’s a reminder:

Simplicity 4744

Here’s my finished version:

Emerald green finished product

This version entailed many sewing ‘firsts’ for me: lining, corded piping, bias tape (for the piping) and a swishy little fancy part (the tie at the back).  To my absolute surprise I managed to pull all these new techniques without a hitch!

The lining was my favourite part.  While I was a little nervous about this, the method I used was so easy, worked so well and was like a magic trick!  I’ll definitely be using this technique heaps in the future.  This is what the bodice looked like halfway through the lining process:


But despite my doubts, it worked like a charm:

Lining = success!

Clean and neat arm scythes

And take a look at the piping.  I was really worried about being able to sew the skirt close enough to the piping, but it turned out to be very easy with my trusty zipper foot.  I’m now in love with piping and can’t wait to use it for another project.

Perfect piping

And my favourite detail of all: the back tie…

Tres elegant

I managed to complete all these new techniques without a single mistake, but when I was close to finishing up the dress, I decided to overlock some of the side seams and disaster struck!  The overlocker munched a part of the front skirt and a dirty great big hole was the result.  I could have cried… Luckily I’m paranoid when buying fabric, and  had enough extra to remake the front skirt.

And now, I’m off to swan around in my new creation at the ball…

UPDATE: as requested, here are some pics of me in the dress.  I apologise for the ‘me’ part of the photos…I was just about to pop my pyjamas on after getting home from work.

Back tie

Emerald city, here I come! (well...maybe tomorrow)

Swinging 60s

I work for a residential college at a university, and College Ball season is upon us.  I couldn’t give up the chance to make a dress to wear to my college’s ball, so with massive time constraints in mind I opted for Simplicity 4744 (c. 1963), which is quite a simple dress, but with enough interesting details to make it a little more special than ‘just a dress’.  I love the tie detail at the back of view 1!

Simplicity 4744

Since it was a simple pattern and I wanted to get the fit just right, I first made up a muslin of the bodice using an old bed sheet, and then decided to make a wearable muslin of the whole dress using some cheap fabric from my stash.  Since the fabric was inexpensive (I think $2 a metre) and I had heaps of it, I wouldn’t have been devastated if it didn’t turn out right…and I really love the fabric I’m making the ‘real’ version from, and would be shattered if that didn’t go as planned.  I finished up the trial run on Saturday morning and wore it out to dinner and drinks on Saturday night.

Matilda's checking it out

View of the back

As it turned out, despite all the time I spent carefully fitting the muslin, the dress is quite big in the bodice…grrr…. Anyway, it’s nothing that can’t be hidden fixed by wearing a belt with it.  I prefer it with a belt anyway, as I took absolutely no care in matching the print.  I’ll be taking in the bodice a little in the final version just through the side seams.

Interesting skirt pleats

The print overwhelms one of the best details on this dress, which is the skirt pleats,  but I’m so glad I practiced these before moving onto the good version.  I got a headache trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.  When I pinned them the first time, I had about 6 inches too much fabric.  I’m glad I went to bed in disgust with myself, and when I came back the next day I realised I just hadn’t read the instructions properly, and 30 minutes later…voila!  Perfect pleats!

I obviously omitted the back tie with this version, but the next version will definitely have it.  The only other detail I omitted this time around was piping between the bodice and skirt.  I will also be adding this to the next dress.  I’ve never done any piping before, so that should be an interesting experience.  One  more new technique I’ll be utilising for the final version is lining the bodice.  So far, I’ve been able to get away with not having to line any of my creations, but the facings on this dress were a nightmare for some reason…probably just because I was cranky, but it’s inspired me to give lining a shot.  I found a great tutorial online from The Stitchy Witch, that I’m going to use for my first foray into lining.

Fabric and lining

The green fabric is a gabardine in a deep but vibrant green (the photo does the colour no justice) that I bought a little while ago, and the lining fabric is a lightweight cotton in a fabulous 60s print that matches the vintage of the pattern.

Stay tuned for the more fabulous green version!