Something special

Photo by Joe Ruckli

Sorry for the radio silence guys. Life, you know. It’s going to be a little while yet until things return to normal.

But hey – in the meantime I have something pretty special to show you. Recently, a lovely friend of mine got married. A combination of circumstances including an international job offer meant this wedding needed to come together super quickly, and wedding dress shops apparently don’t do quick. Long story short, I volunteered to make a wedding dress in three weeks (eek!). I was simultaneously terrified and incredibly honoured that I was trusted with this very special job. Deep breathing exercises were required!

My friend N wanted something very simple and elegant, tea-length and classic. Thank goodness for Pinterest! We only had time for the quickest of muslins (tried on in lunchtimes in work bathrooms, which involved a lot of strange conversations with our colleagues!) before all systems were go.

Luckily, timing coincided with The Fabric Store’s 50% off sale which gave us a lot more freedom that we would have had otherwise. We settled on the most amazing silk tissue shot through with gold threads – it was so fine and at the same time incredibly lofty – it just floated and draped beautifully. Underneath, I used a champagne silk to tone down the white, and a white silk twill to line it. The bodice is adapted from New Look 6143 with the neck scooped out and a fair amount of ease taken out of the sleeves, and was underlined with silk organza to give it structure. The skirt was 6 circle skirts gathered to fit so we had lots and lots of fullness, and something like 14 metres of hemming per layer (let me take a small moment to thank my rolled hem foot and silk thread, because I wouldn’t have survived it without them).

Photo by Joe Ruckli

I am so, so happy with how it turned out. I’ve never taken such care on a project before and I think it paid off: either N is a super fantastic liar or she was really happy. Not sure I would do this kind of thing on a regular basis (I have incredible respect for those who do) but it was such a good challenge.

Now, I should probably just shut up and show you the rest of the photos right? They are AMAZING and if you are in Brisbane and need a super-awesome event photographer let me recommend Joe Ruckli. He is just the best.

Alright! Here they are:

Photo by Joe Ruckli

Photo by Joe Ruckli

Photo by Joe Ruckli

Photo by Joe Ruckli

N&J_140

Photo by Joe Ruckli

The deets:

  • Fabric: Silk tissue (apps 6m), champagne silk (5m) and silk twill (1m) from The Fabric Store
  • Silk organza underlining from Sew Squirrel
  • Dress based on New Look 6143 with circle skirt
  • Shoes are Wittner and I have deep regret I didn’t buy a pair for myself too.

– Photos by Joe Ruckli and beautiful backdrop courtesy of Montville, Queensland.

Thanks N & J for letting me put this on the internet! XOXO

Photo by Joe Ruckli

Something special

And suddenly, it’s spring!

No, I’m not quite sure how that happened either. The last few weeks I’ve been having fun with a little secret project involving a large amount of luscious silk (I’ll post as soon as I have the photos), working too much and cutting most of my hair off. But Spring is here – you can smell the jasmine on the wind everywhere.

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity - July 2014

This project is such a long time in the making: I started this dress to wear for my brother’s wedding. Well, that was over 2 years ago, and this sat unfinished, only needing a hem and a zip for all that time. No idea why. A couple of months back in a fit of tidying fervour I picked it up again and finally finished it in about an hour. One of those cases when you have no idea why you put it off for so long.

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity - July 2014

This is Simplicity 1873, A Cynthia Rowley pattern, which has a really cool irregular pleat thing happening in the skirt, and flattering bodice. I made view C, without the waist tabs and I think it is super cute.

Of course, the fabric is a large part of the appeal. This is a Nani Iro print from a couple of years back, and it is just amazing to sew with. It just glides through your sewing machine and presses beautifully, and the designs are glorious. This is the cotton/linen blend (from memory) and I have to admit I went out and bought another couple of metres right after I cut this out because I couldn’t bear not having it my stash!

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity - July 2014

To make up for the beautiful outer I decided to even it out by lining the bodice in the more horrifically slippery and terrible fabric ever – I think it was cupro and it frayed like the proverbial and warped all over the place. When I finally picked this up again to finish I had to undo all the darts in it to get it to fit inside the bodice. No idea why. Possibly burying it in piles of stuff for 2 years doesn’t do good things for retaining an accurate shape?

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity - July 2014

Because I did the bulk of sewing such a long time ago, I’m not sure i can accurately give much comment on the pattern, but here’s the best I can do:

Pros: This is a really cute design and the pleats give it a nice point of difference from your standard fit and flare dress.
Cons: The skirt is really long when you are putting it together, and the pleating can be really quite confusing if you haven’t marked it properly (including the direction you are folding it).

I didn’t do any fit adjustments at all and I’m happy with how it all sits. It is a little short but I am caring less and less about that as I get older. I’ve got another of these cut out already – and this time I hope it won’t take me so long to finish it!

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity - July 2014

The details:

And suddenly, it’s spring!

Jaywalkin’

So, I’m not one for competitions. They tend to stress me out, and that’s the exact opposite of what I want or need in a hobby. So when I read about Tessuti Fabric’s Jaywalk competition, I thought that it was a good opportunity to get some fabric I had been eyeing off super cheap and that I wouldn’t necessarily worry about entering. I got some in both colour ways and figured I could use the light version to make up a Moneta dress, and the black looked like a perfect fabric to knock off this dress that I pinned an age ago. No stress. Just simple, wearable sewing.

Long story short: one Sunday afternoon later I had my super cute little stripey dress. Me Made May taught me that I love wearing knit dresses on the weekend and I needed some more: job done. A few days later I was telling The Mister about all the cool things that had been entered into the comp so far and how my dress was far too simple for competitions. His response: “screw it, just do it, because what’s to lose?”. At this point I may have mentioned something about my derpy photos and the internet, but sometimes my husband is more stubborn than me, and so a competition entry it is.

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

So here it is. Let’s call it my hidden pocket knit dress. Can you see them?

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

And there they are.

This make is a mash up between my Renfrew tee dress, with the pocket structure from Vogue 1247 (which I sure as hell am getting my money’s worth from). I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure the pockets were properly hidden in the black stripe and I’m pretty happy with the result. To stop them flipping about I lined the front with some swimsuit lining and also added in some fusible interfacing along the tops to keep them from sagging down. In wearing it so far that has worked to keep them where they are supposed to be. Once the pockets were in, the whole thing could just be sewn up like a t-shirt, and I did my normal method which is basically as per the Renfrew instructions (I think the double handling of machining than overlocking means it is all super durable and I like my clothes to last).

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

No head in this picture because apparently a recipe for looking very unhappy is to eat a giant pasta lunch and then try and suck in your food belly for photos. Eh, pasta is SO WORTH IT.

BUT I am pretty happy with my stripe matching down the sides, it took a bit of wrangling (and unpicking a lot of lightning stitch) but I got there in the end with only a few stripes out by a tiny bit. In the spirit of stress-free sewing, I’ve decided I don’t care because unless you are sitting there obsessively checking my side seams it is not noticeable, and fifty-thousand times better than what I could buy in a shop.

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

The dress still felt like it needed a little something something, so I added in a fake button placket (?) on the shoulders, and I think it turned out pretty cute. Expect to see this detail on some t-shirts very soon.

Don’t think I can add much more to this: stripey dresses are pretty much always a good thing in my books. But it feels good to get something off my Pinterest to do list (only 600+ things to go!) – how many of you find Pinterest to be both a blessing and a curse?

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

Outfit details:

  • Dress mash up of the Sewaholic Renfrew and Vogue 1247
  • Fabric: Jaywalk in Black/Natural from Tessuti, swimsuit lining from stash (i.e., no idea)
  • Buttons from Spotlight
  • Voodoo wool tights
  • Jane Debster boots
  • Lean courtesy of sloping driveway
Jaywalkin’

A floral Chloe

Oops. Didn’t mean to disappear for that long! Life huh…

I have been a busy sewing bee though – just didn’t have any good weather to take photos in (boooooo to fast approaching winter and getting home in the dark). BUT a long weekend and lovely autumn sunshine mean the backlog has been photographed and is blog ready.

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

Let’s start with the lovely Chloe dress by Victory Patterns. I have no idea why this took me to sew up (it has been out for a long while now surely?) – I had got as far as sticking together and cutting out the pdf pattern but then obviously I got distracted. I know I swore off linen after my pink skirt but this was too pretty to pass up – an impulse counter buy at The Fabric Store’s 50% sale earlier this year. I was intending to do a pencil skirt with it so only got a metre, but there was just enough to squeak out this dress (if I had had more fabric I wouldn’t have had the annoying repeat issue on the back panels that you will see in the photos below).

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

I love these painterly flowery prints that aren’t quite your traditional style – they seem like a less ‘girly’ way to wear floral. I paired it with a mid-grey linen for the pocket and bindings, and lined the whole thing with some beige cotton/viscose I got when I was feeling responsible (buying linings is SO BORING yes?). The dress has a nice 60s vibe going and is quite forgiving of say, overly large meals and a lack of exercise. Also: pocketses. Pocketses are the best.

I made a straight size 6 and it fit pretty well – the only things I changed were to take a small dark on the back neckline and a extra tiny dart at the bust to tighten things up. As other people have noted (which I realised afterward) the armholes on this dress are drafted too large so you get a bit of bra showing at the sides. Next time I will fix that up before I cut out – the way the princess seam at the back is drafted means you can’t retrofit a fix for it without your seam showing. The other thing I would change is to somehow make the pockets one big kangaroo pocket instead of being separate – they have a tendency to flap about and sit funny and I think it would be neater to have the whole thing joined up (I tacked mine together at the centre as a quick fix). Other than that – this dress is super cute and really quite easy, especially if you machine stitch the binding (instead of painstakingly by hand like this idiot).

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

Outfit details:

  • Dress: Victory Pattern’s Chloe in size 6 (very small mods)
  • Fabric: 1m of floral linen from The Fabric Store, 1m of cotton/viscose from The Fabric Storefran, grey linen scraps from deep dark stash
  • Glasses by Frankie Dean
  • Frye Veronica Boots from Amazon (the best thing about cooler weather is I get to stomp around in these again, they are THE BEST)
  • Deck: has needed a damn good clean for 2 years now. Living amongst the gum trees has some disadvantages
A floral Chloe

Fence sitter

Mirage Maxi

I really am on the fence about this make. I’ve tried to get the maxi dress bandwagon before, prompting laughter from my family, so it’s taken me a year to get up the courage to try it again. I have visions of sweeping elegantly along, looking very tall and willowy in flowy fabric, but instead this dress feels like it is drowning me. Booooo.

Mirage Maxi

Such a pity, because I absolutely love this ikat jersey and the colours, and the pattern I used (the Mirage dress from Aime Comme Marie) is really nicely done, but I just don’t feel like this is me. Stumpiness: thy name is maxi-dress.

Mirage Maxi

The belt helps, maybe?

I should give a little bit of info on the pattern – now this is a French pattern, and I don’t know any French (apart from ‘cheese’, ‘table’ and ‘beef’, which don’t seem to occur in sewing patterns for whatever reason) – but the instructions are illustrated and you can muddle through quite well just with that. Don’t take my discomfort with this dress as any disparagement of the pattern at all, and I will try it again in the short length for sure.

So, what to do? Am I just being crazy and it looks fine, or should I cut it apart and try and make something else? Decisions, decisions.

Ella says no
Ella says no

Ella doesn’t think much of it either. Though, possibly, she doesn’t like cameras in her face.

The details:

  • Ikat jersey from Ixat
  • Pattern: Mirage, size M, from Aime Comme Marie (Google translate is your friend)
Fence sitter

TIme machined: A Christmas Vogue 1353

Vogue 1353

I’m surprised I haven’t seen many versions of this dress around the internet – to me it seemed the clear cut winner out of that particular Vogue release. When I was hunting around for reviews I could only find 4, and while positive for the most part, they all sounded scary about the fitting adjustments that needed to be made.

Me, being me, decided that the best course of action would be to completely ignore their advice and make it up exactly as drafted, no adjustments. Allow me an evil laugh here, *muahahahahahahahah*, because it totally worked (I know I have just jinxed myself but anyway). Fits like a dream and I love it. This is seriously the most complimented item I have ever made (I wore it to the work Christmas party and on Christmas itself after my intended dress was a complete failure).

Vogue 1353

(I did not iron it for these photos. Because: Brisbane summer. Sorry not sorry.)

The fabric is a nice crisp cotton that seems to be a perfect match for those pleats, and has the added bonus of looking like someone painted a lovely sunset as angrily and violently as possible, which I think gives a very feminine style a bit of edge. It is lined with a cotton/viscose mix – no poly going to happen in the subtropics thankyouverymuch. I used silk organza to reinforce the bodice edges, as recommended by the quite frankly excellent instructions (for once), and it came together way quicker than I thought it would – the pleats in the bodice are the hardest part. This pattern has a lot to recommend it: neckline is neither too high or too low, back scoop is flattering, covers your bra straps easily, pleats are flattering over an overindulged Christmas belly… i could go on. I really do love this dress.

Vogue 1353

And the best bit: perfect for twirling!

Vogue 1353

(Weeeeeeeeeee… I feel sick.)

The details:

  • Dress: Vogue 1353 (Kay Unger design), size 10 no changes (except not handstitching a decorative hem, because ain’t nobody got time for that)
  • Fabric: cotton from Sckafs Fabrics (was half price too, woohoo), lining – cotton/viscose blend from The Fabric Store (I think). Silk organza (used as interfacing) from Sew Squirrel, zipper from a huge lot I ordered from Zipperstop
  • Belt: French Connection
  • Shoes: Seychelles from Anthropologie
  • Messy hair: courtesy not looking in the mirror

Next up, just to balance this epic gushing, I’ll post something I’m more on the fence about.

TIme machined: A Christmas Vogue 1353

A little neon never hurt anybody

Deer & Doe Belladone

For someone who detested pink as a child, I sure have embraced it in its brightest form lately. I have to confess being a hot pink addict – the more neon the better. I seriously have 2 coats, a shirt and 2 skirts in that colour in the works, plus a whole bunch of hot pink ribbon just waiting to be a garish addition to something. The combo of neutral and neon just floats my boat for whatever reason.

I have been plotting this little combo for a while now – the bound edges of the Deer & Doe Belladone just screamed out for a little neon action, and my summer holidays were a perfect time to make it happen. The main fabric is a seriously lovely and properly dark indigo-dyed linen from Miss Matatabi, which (as she kindly warned me) dyed everything blue – fingers and binding included. Hard to photograph in our lovely harsh sub-tropical sunlight too, but the top photo is pretty accurate as to colour.

The Belladone really is a lovely pattern and I want to make hundreds of them (nay, thousands) – but this version really gave me grief. From my last version I had worked out that I needed to make a ‘you have terrible posture’ adjustment (otherwise known as a round shoulder adjustment I think) and so went ahead and made those changes to the paper pattern at the cutting out stage. And of course, because: irony, that meant the bit that fit perfectly on the first version suddenly didn’t. At all. Unpicking the top crossover section was a massive PITA but I wasn’t going to give up on my neon baby. Half a season of Ergo Proxy later, I had a finished dress. Next time, I think I will leave finishing the neckline to last, just so I can get it to sit properly, to take into account my varying levels of slumpiness.

Deer & Doe Belladone

There is a reason Deer & Doe is one of my top 3 favourite pattern designers – this dress is a perfect canvas for experimentation (hem facings! pocket bindings!), and the back detail gives it that little special something. I made a straight 38 and apart from my dodgy adjustments it fits perfectly. The only issue I have with this dress is I’m afraid when I wash it that the lovely neon binding will get indigo-dyed as well, but time will tell.

Outfit details:
Deer & Doe Belladone dress, size 38
Made in indigo linen from Miss Matatabi
Neon binding from Purl Soho

A little neon never hurt anybody