Fun Sewing: Cleo Dungaree Dress

Does a 50 year-old woman need a teal blue dungaree dress?

Did she sew one anyway?

Course she did!

And put all the pockets on the front …

…and the tiny slit at the back, because she didn’t pay enough attention to the (excellent) instructions.

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Cleo

Size: I made a 6 in the longer length

Fabric: Stretch cotton denim in my favouite colour. This fabric is a long term stash dweller; an online purchase from Gorgeous Fabrics over 4 years ago.

Jeans buttons are so much fun to hammer in.

Mine are from the Button Bar in Adelaide Arcade and they are the two pronged ones. They didn’t go in perfectly straight , because I am an amateur button hammerer, so I hope they hold okay.

Fun to sew, fun to wear.

I love my Cleo!

 

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Party at the back dress: BurdaStyle 08/2014 #116

Looks like a sweet little dress at the front

But it’s all party at the back with its lower back cut out, full skirt and mullet hem

Yes, I added pockets.

Because. Pockets are a Thing.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 08/2014 #116

Size: I made a 42 with a 2.5 cm FBA. I didn’t sew up the vertical dart that this adjustment added, just gathered the bodice waist into the skirt. The waist is elasticized, so you’d never know. Except I just told you.

The fabric was Japanese cotton from my local Spotlight store. It was only 105 cm wide, so I added a centre back seam to the skirt. With the selvedge in the seams so I don’t forget.

The centre back seam meant I didn’t need to add an eyelet or button hole for the ties to come out, because I could just leave an opening in the seam.

Burda’s instructions for the elastic and ties were particularly bad. I ditched them and just did what Dawn of Two On, Two Off did.

Other changes: I didn’t line the bodice, but used self bias binding for the neck and armscyes instead.

It’s about 6 cm shorter than Burda drafted, and Felicity is above average height. We were going for more of a sundress vibe than a long and flowing tea dress.

And look! Sunbeams!

I love this dress! Think Felicity likes it too…

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Short boxy tops: BurdaStyle 06/2015 #106

There has been a bit of (totally justified IMO) criticism of Burdastyle magazines lately.But it’s not all bad. Some of those boxy patterns actually turn out alright.

Let me show you my evidence

The cute Felicity version

The trial version without the collar and tie for Mum

For a boxy top I say this is a bit of a winner!

Technical Details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 06/2015 #106

For the mum version, I traced off the dress, BurdaStyle 06/2015 #107 at the blouse level

Size: 36-44, I made a 42 for both Felicity and myself. No we are not the same size. It’s boxy- no need for fancy fitting finnanigans

As you can see, I just turned the sleeve hem under. No proper 3 cm hem for me!

Fabrics

Both are from my local Spotlight store. Mine is a Japanese cotton, Felicity’s is a linen cotton mix with very cute embroidery.

I did flat felled seams on the linen. First time. Woohoo! Love my flat felling foot. Might have done them inside out. Oh well. Beginner.

I didn’t follow Burda’s instructions to cut the button band on the bias. I also doubled it for a bit of extra strength for the button holes (but didn’t interface it)

Buttons

Let me tell you about the buttons.

Mine are vintage hand-me–downs from a lovely elderly church friend. She’s English so they could even be from the UK via a wool coat that gone to a better place.

Yes you can see the selvedge showing through on the button placket. Yes I didn’t use interfacing. Yes I am slap dash. It was a trial version… and I excused??!

Felicity’s buttons are vintage courtesy of Portobello Road markets. Sewing souvenirs are the best souvenirs.

And for a trial version, mine has already had a surprising number of public outings.

I think I like this pattern!

 

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Dashiki Dress: BurdaStyle 07/2011 #131

And now presenting the second of my Philadelphia wax prints in dress form.

I took a long time deciding what to make and how to place the print. Pinterest was most helpful. Also an excellent rabbit hole to fall down in.

(click image for source)

There was lots of draping myself in my fabric length. Several things were auditioned and the highly valued opinion of the craft ladies sought.

As soon as there was a hint of female anatomy from the centre motif, however, that’s all I could see. Even placed horizontally it looked like someone had been working on fit and slashed the fabric to open it up. Being hot pink was not helping.

Then I saw this

Light bulb moment: highlight the border around each panel rather than the centre motif! Use a sheath dress style so I could wear to work if I wanted too.

My version

I repeated the border down the centre back too.

The centre motif on the panels is now only very partially visible at the side seams.

This is BurdaStyle 07/2011 #131 in a size 44

It looks a little tight in the photos, and it is. But it wasn’t. This was one of those occasions when I didn’t prewash the fabric. It turned out perfectly. Then I wore it and washed it. Put it on again less than a week later and it was a bit tight.

Cutting the dress out on the cross grain probably didn’t help: there is no give at all.

(Yes, I love that this pattern has a little capelet too. I still have two panels left and am very tempted to make a matching cape, inspired by this:

For my dress, I made the same changes to the pattern as previously: moved the neckline up a few cm, added a centre back zip and slit, and converted the princess seams to darts. This made pattern matching easier.

The first time I made this dress, the cap sleeves sat out like little wings.

This time I had a very good look at the pattern, and I decided Burda had the markings around the wrong way.

Now they look like cap sleeves.

And finally. With selvedge this good, it would be a shame to turn the hem up.

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Ghost Fish dress: BurdaStyle 07/2016 #117

My love of African wax print fabrics continues to burn strongly. Even after sewing two of them up.

First up was the ghost fish.

This is based on BurdaStyle 07/2016 #117

I really liked the asymmetric and wrapped straps of this design, but I wanted to check the fit and style before committing to the fabric I had in mind for this dress. So I traced off just the right side and mirrored it.

The Fit.

Ahem.

I forgot to measure myself and measure the pattern. I just traced out a 42. Well, at least that’s what I think I did. The bodice and skirt darts didn’t match up, so perhaps I didn’t?? Any way. Whatever.

It was way too tight through the bust and a bit tight through the waist. There was no way that zip was doing up all the way.

I could have donated this dress, but I really wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the fabric.

What to do? I’d already faced and finished the neckline so I didn’t want to open up the princess seams. Since they were already trimmed and overlocked (I know, rookie mistake), I wasn’t going to get much out of them anyway. And there were no side seams. A lovely design feature. But not so good when alternations are required.

So, I had to do it. Had to slice through where the side seams should be, and add a black ‘racing stripe’ down the side. Right through that beautifully positioned dark vertical stripe I had spent quite a bit of time on when cutting out. Oh well. It did give me another 3 cm in width.

Now wearable. And having pockets makes it both wearable and lovable!

Plus who wouldn’t love a navy and yellow dress with ghost fish?!

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Little Christmas cakes in baked bean tins

I know. Its halfway through January and no-one. No. One. cares about Christmas cakes. But they were so cute. I just couldn’t not blog about them.

This is almost entirely the work of He who Cooks. The sewing related contribution was very minor, and only added the finishing touch. Yes. It was cutting the ribbon and securing in place with a pin.

So. What did He who Cooks do?

Well. Baked bean tins are the perfect size for cuteness optimization.

Adding exactly the same amount of cake mix to each tin is greatly facilitated by the scientific method (AKA using scales to measure mass)

Here they are, ready for the oven with their brown paper coat fastened with a kitchen string belt.

A glazed fruit and nut topping. Much easier than icing!

Viola!

Cooking and sewing!

The recipe was from Butcher Baker Baby

Christmas Cake
12 mini (small baked bean tin) cakes

200g glace cherries
500g mixed dried fruit
500g sultanas
zest of one orange
200ml sherry  (He who Cooks used a mixture of sherry and whisky)
225g butter, softened
225g dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
50g whole almonds

1) Put cherries and other dried fruits plus zest in bowl and soak in sherry overnight.

2) Line the cake tin: Lightly grease base and sides. Line sides with a double thickness of baking paper that stands 5cm above tin. Make 1 cm cuts at base to help it lie flat. Line base with double layer of paper.

3) Preheat oven to 150°c. Whisk butter and sugar for 5 min till light and fluffy. Whisk in eggs slowly. When almost added, whisk in some flour to stop it curdling. Fold in flour, spices, fruit and almonds. Spoon into lined tin and make a small dip in the middle of the mixture. Wrap tin in a double thickness of brown paper and tie with piece of string. Cook for 60-90 minutes.

 

 

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Christmas dresses

It’s already a week since Christmas and I haven’t posted about Christmas sewing yet. Outrageous. Anyone would think I’ve been on holidays!

Two Christmas dresses were sewn this year.

One for me. One for Felicity. Both Burdastyle patterns. Both in novelty cottons from Spotlight. Both with pockets.

Mine was BurdaStyle 04/2016 #114, lengthened to the dress length of #115 and added #115’s in seam pockets. Appropriately sack-like for Christmas dinner eating.

Felicity chose a more fitted style. But I added a bit of ease in it when I did the FBA. Christmas dinner reasons.

Felicity’s dress is based on BurdaStyle 07/2016 #111

Her version has

  • wide shoulder straps for bra strap hiding reasons
  • less full box pleats for narrow width fabric reasons
  • a shorter skirt, for fashion reasons

It was excessively hot here for Christmas. Cool cotton dresses were perfect.

And now its 2017. Thank you and best wishes to you, the wonderful online sewing community.

Happy New Year!

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Silk chiffon tablecloth dress: BurdaStyle 03/2015 #121

Another awards dinner. What a social whirl wind my life is! Ha. It is. So. Not. But it did mean that another dress required.

The wonderful online sewing community* gave me courage to cut into a silk chiffon that has been in my stash for far too long

*Thanks @bimbleandpimble for hosting #bpsewvember!

This fabric was perfect for this style (Burdastyle 03/2015 #121)

Lining a silk chiffon dress would have been an excellent idea, but instead I purchased a short RTW slip in black.

The black slip ends just above the mid thigh side slits (where my fingers are in the photo below), but all the horizontal lines in the fabric mean it’s not a sharp cutoff line

The only things I did differently to last time was to omit the in-seam pockets and use self made bias rather than a facing for the neckline. The V was a bit tricky. Best not to look too close on the inside. Oh and I also used a selvedge strip to reinforce the zip opening.

I tried not to over stress about pattern matching at seams (impossible shifty fabric to cut out..), so I’m pleased that it turned out not too bad through the centre back zip

So that’s me using the same pattern again… I’m even thinking of making a third version of this dress in a knit. Apart from basics like pencil skirts, I never do that. Have I inadvertently got older and wiser? Heaven forbid!

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Black tie: BurdaStyle Designer original 12/2013 #130

This time the fancy evening frock sewing was for me. He who Cooks and I had a black tie event to attend.

I love how this dress turned out.

I have used this pattern before: Felicity’s year 11 formal. Hers was a fluorescent abstract print. Mine is much more like the designer intended. Black.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130.

Size: 36-44, I made a 42.

Fabric:

I’ve been keeping a cotton nylon self stripe in my stash for just the right project. This was it!

This fabric has great body and it wonderfully crisp, so it was perfect for the bodice and waist tucks. Plus, french seams were a joy to make in this lovely well behaved fabric.

It’s sheerness was not a problem for this design, because there’s a fitted bodice underneath the crop top and the skirt is also lined. I’m pulling the outer skirt away from the lining in the image above, and you might be able to see the slight sheerness of the crop top in the image below.

The tulip skirt shape is flattering and very easy to wear. A long slit at the back helps even though the shape is very pegged.

As you can see, I left the lining loose.

Changes I made:

The main change was to add a beaded embellishment to the neck line to accentuate the style lines.

This lovely beaded trim was from M&J Trimmings in the Garment District of New York City. Sewing souvenirs are the best!

I used two of the flowers on the back too.

The other change, and you can see the evidence (stitching!) above, was to use bias binding instead of facings on the crop top, and for the hem and slit. M of Nonsuch kindly donated the bias binding. So much easier than cutting out self bias. Thanks M!

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Valedictory Dinner in a Halter Maxi Dress: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #106

Valedictory: bidding farewell, this weekend, to secondary schooling.

Just an exam or two (or in Felicity’s case, about 14!) and it’s all over. So lets go out in style.

Technical details:

Pattern: Burdastyle 06/2016 #106

Size: 34 – 42, I made a 40, sort off, with an FBA, slightly larger waist, a bit higher through the back, plus a swayback adjustment. In other words, I adjusted the pattern to fit….after several muslins.

Fabric:

The outer fabric is a digital printed polyester chiffon from my local fabric store: Ferrier Fabrics. It had a slight crepe-y feel and wasn’t totally terrible to sew with, like polyester chiffons are wont to be.

The inner bodice/underlining was constructed from a remnant of navy polyester taffeta, leftover from an evening dress I made and wore when I was pregnant with Felicity (lots of lovely memories sewn into this dress!). The skirt was lined to mid thigh with acetate lining in navy. I used a simple A-line skirt shape for the lining.

It’s a good design: boning in the bodice give the structure needed, and then the draped and twisted and crossed over, over bodice, adds the softness.

I did the cross over opposite to the design, because this worked better for Felicity.

It was a very lovely evening. Even bad iPhone photos taken in the semi dark can’t take away the smiles!

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Liberty Love in a blouse: Burdastyle 10/2012 #122

I finally did it!

Did what, you ask? Cut into my Liberty of London fabric.

It only took two and a half years.

Purchased in London in April 2014.

Sewn and worn in Adelaide in October 2016.

I’ve understood the love for Liberty prints for a long time. Now I totally get the love for sewing Liberty.

Especially this print. I can have hot pink buttons and yellow button holes.

And look how good it looks without proper ironing… this was photographed straight after the blouse had been to craft night to have buttons sewn on, then folded up and squished in my craft bag for a couple of days.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 10/2012 #122

Size: 36-44, I made a 42, with a 1 cm sway back adjustment – I added a centre back seam for this.

I’m not convinced it made a lot of difference. This style is loose fitting

Changes I made:

I modified the yoke flaps like last time when I used this pattern for Felicity. They are cut out doubled so they end up with a fold at the lower edge. Burda says to finish and turn in the neck edge so they’d turn out like a loop, but I sewed the neck edges together with right sides to right sides. Mine look more like gun flaps from a trench coat.

I added little slits on the ‘cuffs’

I love this fabric

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Sequins: Burdastyle short swing jacket 11/2013 #115

I’d overlooked this design when I’d received this issue, and hadn’t considered it since. Something about the scratched old photo look, beanie and graffiti just didn’t appeal.

But look at the line drawing.

Perfect for sequins….a minimum of seams for which sequin removal would be required, and a drape-y style that would allow lots of movement.

And then I saw what Tanja W. created from this design!

Image from Tanya’s ‘Karl meets Coco’ project page on Burdastyle.com 

No more hesitation! This was clearly an excellent pattern for what I had in mind for some sequined mesh in the stash.

I wanted a light topper for a sort of boring evening frock I’d worn to the same event the year before.

The event was a black tie affair in the Great Hall of our National Parliament, so I figured a bit of sequined bling would work.

Lets talk about the fabric.

My sequined fabric is not your traditional sequined number. It is made up of clear plastic sequins sewn onto mesh, and then the whole thing is printed in an abstract almost wood grain pattern.

As you can see here where I’m part way through removing sequins for the neck binding strip, the sequins weren’t all beautifully lined up before printing, so there’s a bit of extra randomness to the design.

The colours are muted greens and browns, but the shininess of the plastic catches the light, so there is an overall silver-y fish scale-y effect.

I removed sequins from every seam allowance and from the hem. It took a very. long. time. And I chose a design with very few seams and then omitted a few more (like the centre back pleat and seam).

I omitted the facings too. The back neck was faced with a strip of the mesh cut across the grain so it was stretchy (after removing all the scratchy sequins). The fronts were cut out with a straight çut-on facing using the selvedge. The selvedge had a wide non sequin part, so that worked well.

I am still finding sequins everywhere.

I don’t think I’ll be sewing with sequins again in a hurry!

But it is a fun jacket to have in my wardrobe. I might even wear it with non evening wear

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Philadelphia and African wax prints

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while you know I have the greatest job in the world. I work with wine and I get to travel to science conferences in all sorts of interesting places. This year has been exceptional.

My latest trip was to Philadelphia.

I managed to squeeze in an afternoon at the Creative Africa Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The textile exhibits and the African wax print fashions were wonderful.

Love the use of the border print up the side of this princess line dress, and through the yoke.

And how can you not love a coat with enormous balls of wool, a chicken family dress or a dress featuring huge shoes?

Embellishment details

The fabric designs are so clever, and fun!..

Love these sewing related ones! And the hand bags.

I came home with some African wax prints of my own from Fabric Row (4th St).

An Angelina print, for my very own dashiki dress perhaps?

and another yellow ‘plaid’ design

My fashion critics at home have already named this one ‘ghost fish’.

Have I convinced you that wax prints are awesome?

The Creative Africa exhibition is still on for a few more days until September 25. If you’re in the area, don’t stop to think about it…. just go!

And then visit the Thinker afterwards. He’s just down the road from the exhibition.

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Is it Winter or is it Spring? BurdaStyle 01/2016 #115 and friends

It’s that changeable time of early Spring. One day is wonderfully sunny and legs and arms are barred. There’s a promise of summer in the air.

The next day its back to grey skies and rain and 15°C as the maximum. All those winter clothes that you are tired of wearing have to come out again.

My last lot of sewing has been a bit like that. Two tops, both in similar styles pattern wise, but worlds apart in expression.

Exhibit A. Winter. Made in a viscose knit from Gay Naffine

Exhibit B. Yeah! Spring! Made in a rayon challis from Britix Fabrics, San Francisco

Both have bows at the neck and full sleeves gathered into a cuff, and both are prints, but one is so much lighter in spirit than the other!

Lets talk about Winter.

Pattern: Burda World of Fashion 9/2007 #101

This is an ancient pattern in terms of the internet sewing community. Nine years old! It’s a BurdaStyle pattern before downloadable PDFs and when BurdaStyle was still called Burda World of Fashion. There’s not even an electronic line drawing!

It’s designed for knits, but I know others in the sewing blogosphere have made it in wovens too

I made this up first forever ago in a synthetic navy knit. It really is forever ago because it predates me posting to Pattern Review. And I started doing that in 2010. It’s still one of my go to work tops. The fabric is amazing. Indestructible.

I’ve been promising myself to make this pattern up again, but the indestructible nature of my first one had conspired against me. No longer!

This pattern has some nice details

A deep V neck with a tie and gathers from the center rather than side bust darts,

and soft gathered sleeves. I added a cuff rather than using elastic. I don’t love elasticized cuffs on sleeves.

I love this fabric, despite its wintery tones. It has silhouette peacocks and a building that looks like Sacre Couer! And birdcages. What’s not to love?

Here’s a back view to show off that fabric a bit more.

Lets digress a bit about the skirt. This is a recent make too. It’s the last of some boiled wool in my stash. This is the third skirt I’ve made from the piece. Felicity has one too, and I used to have another one too. There was a laundry misadventure with that first one.

The notable points about the skirt are the exposed zip, with its zipper guard from novelty fabric

and the lack of a proper hem or seam finishes. Boiled wool. Great stuff for not fraying.

Its lined, and the exposed zip was reinforced with fusible interfacing. I used Tany’s great tutorial for inserting the zip.

Lets move to Spring. Some skirt, different top.

Also, sunlight!

This is from one of this years issue of BurdaStyle. It’s the 01/2016 #115 dress shortened to top length and without the drawstrings on the yokes.Thanks to M of Nonsuch for doing all the tracing work for me. She made a delightful silk version which has sadly not yet made it onto her blog..

EDITED TO ADD  Now blogged at Nonsuch. And with a blog title of One for SewingElle!

The tie neck is lovely and the sleeves are fabulous.

And while they might look ridiculous, the drafting is superb. You really do have to try very hard to drape them through your salad dressing or in the dishwater in the sink.

It must be something to do with their length (not quite full length) and the pronounced curvature of the bottom of the sleeve.

So, my new fruity and floral spring blouse has won my heart, but I think I’ll be very glad of my new winter top, when its cold again.

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Turning souvenir fabric into a winter Tee-top: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #101

Yes I did bring back some fabric souvenirs from Philadelphia. I’ll tell you about them later.

Today is about souvenirs of Brighton.

In particular, a lovely grey and baby blue boiled wool.

I scored the last of that fabric on the roll, and it was only 1.2 m of 120 wide. Options were limited.

Should I make a jacket with contrast sleeves? Or that really simple T-Shirt top in Burdas June issue?

You know, the one that should be made with soft or thin or drape-y fabric.

In other words, all the things my fabric was not.

You know where this is going don’t you?

I give you winter sweater with ridiculous wide and short sleeves

I like it! Despite its being a catalogue of all the things poor fitting: draglines and excess fabric under the arms.

And the pooling in the small of my back (or is that just me trying to stand up too straight?)

In its defense, it really is lovely fabric.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #103A

The line drawing is not distorted… The top really is that shape

Size: 36-44, I made a 42 and added 5 cm to the length. The fabric has some mechanical stretch so I used a shallow zig zag stitch for construction.

I finished the neck edge with a bias strip of cotton batiste (a remnant from I’ve-done-all-the-dumb-things-dress)

A ‘tag’ to make it easy to tell the front from the back

Outside

and inside views

No need for seam finishes or hems on the sleeves (selvedge) or the bottom ( just a cut edge)

And I love the way it can be folded up with such simplicity.

So, the last word?

Very happy this sweater is in my wardrobe. It’s a reminder of Brighton, and of accepting diversity in all aspects of life, even pattern styles.

Plus its cozy and warm and some of my favourite colours.

 

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