Not so successful pattern hacking: Stylearc’s Adeline dress as a top

I know it’s hardly pattern hacking when all you do is make a top from a dress pattern.

But it didn’t turn out very well. Partly due to fabric choice but mainly due to my inexpert hacking.

I need to document that!

The main issue is the uneven hem. I know. I know, Why didn’t I think about how the front needs more fabric to get to the same point at the high hip than a back because it has to go over a bust?

The Adeline dress has a high low hem, but that’s deliberate! This wasn’t…

The other issue is the fabric. This is a Japanese ‘technical’ fabric I picked up at the @adelaidesews fabric swap, originally from Tessuti. I’ve made other garments from this type of fabric and its delightfully silky.

The softness of the fabric really does not suit this style. Much more body is need to make the cuffs look sharp. Mine just look wrinkly!

To avoid this on the hem I faced it with super wide pre-made white bias binding. This, at least, worked!

The startled and wooden look of someone unused to selfies! But it does show the neck well

I matched the neck facing to the bodice so there wouldn’t be show through of a black square under a white one. This also worked- I almost have an invisible facing.

You can’t win them all! And this top will probably work quite well under a jacket, so it hasn’t gone to a better home yet…

Plaid everything but trousers

Fabric or pattern? It’s often the question among the sewing community. Do you start with a pattern or garment idea you want to sew and then find fabric? Or the other way round?

I’m almost always the other way round.

The fabric is my starting point.

This fabric was a lucky find at Spotlight, my local bricks and mortar fabric store. It’s sort of a Prince of Wales check (plaid?) with blue and red highlights and it’s a bengaline.

I know. Not a natural fibre. You could almost say it’s a nasty synthetic. But perfect for corporate wear. And I love a good check. And these colours.

Four meters came home with me because I was thinking the fabric would make great trousers. And maybe something else. Which I knew I’d work out later.

It’s now later and I’ve made three garments from my four meters. Not one of them trousers.

The first thing was an elastic waist pencil skirt with an asymmetric drape. Because that’s what the fabric seems perfect for when it had spent just a little bit of time communicating with the other fabrics in my stash.

The skirt worn with an In The Folds ruffle sleeve top in a coordinating print. Because who doesn’t love print matching?!

The pattern is Style Arc’s Halle skirt and I made a size 18. And I love it!

More “print matching”. Or perhaps print oneupmanship. The Missoni top is winning.

The second thing was a jacket.

I scoured through my extensive Burda magazine back catalogue for a design that wouldn’t require too much pattern matching – none of the many lovely princess seamed jackets made the cut – and settled on this one: Burdastyle 05/2014 #134

I made this in a size 48.

All the jacket photos were taken at the end of the day, after sitting at a desk or computer with my arms bent most of the time. Yes, there are some wrinkles. But not too shabby. Thanks synthetic fibres!

The jacket turned out a bit big through and below the bust. Which is particularly noticeable when buttoned up.

Not so bad unbuttoned. Which is how I’ll normally wear it.

My fabric has stretch, body and is smooth. I decided I wanted to keep the comfort of the stretch so I did not interface the front or upper back (I am depending on that body to keep the jacket in shape!) or line it ( and here I’m relying on the smooth surface to make the sleeves easy to put my arms in).

This could’ve turned out badly. So far it hasn’t. Apart from the softness between the bust and waist. I expect it may not age as well as a jacket made ‘properly’. It is, however, wonderfully comfortable to wear.

I made some other minor changes to the pattern too.

1. A button hole integrated into the bodice peplum seam rather than a snap closure

Highlighted in lurid green because it is almost invisible IRL

2. A small pocket in that same seam (for my work fob and key).

Napoleon, eat your heart out. I’ve got an actual pocket for my fingers.

The pocket is a red poly cotton non stretch woven faced with a strip of the plaid. I gave it ‘arms’ to anchor it to the side and front seams and used Tessuti’s pocket construction teshnique to sew it all to the peplum. This gave me 100 times more chances of matching the pocket plaid to the peplum plaid.

Why the ‘arms’? I was a bit worried about the pocket distorting the peplum due to the peplum being partially on the bias and stretchy fabric anyway. And not interfaced.

3. A facing for the peplum and then lining. Burda has it ‘lined’ with self fabric. That seemed a bit much to me. So I made it totally too much in a different way with red poly cotton lining.

I finished all the seams with bias strips of a red poly cotton from my stash. Love the way this looks.

I used the continuous bias method to make my strips. Sensible people would listen to the advice of the tutorials that tell you to start with a 25 cm square. I thought why not use the full fabric width and start with a 110 cm square? More than 40 metres of continuous 2.5 cm bias later, I think I know why! Expect to see red bias for years to come….

I spent a lot of time thinking about where the stripes of the plaid should go and how to match them across seams. The actual cutting and sewing to match the plaid went pretty well thanks to cutting everything out single layered and using lots of pins. Also, being prepared to unpick when it wasn’t good enough!

Surely the last thing I made was trousers?

No I did not.

I only had 1.2 metres left after the first two garments. I’m blaming the pattern matching but in reality making a jacket and knee length skirt out of 2.8 meters in a plus size is pretty good!

I was tossing up between a simple sleeveless dress like true bias’s Lodo (could look good under the jacket?) or a simple top like Closet Core’s Cielo (to wear with the skirt as a matching set. Or under the jacket. Or with other garments).

It was a tough decision. My heart said dress but my head said top.

I went for the top.

Closet Core’s Cielo top
I’m putting tiny pockets in everything!

To add interest – and to not be annoyed by lack of pattern matching at the shoulder seams because it was impossible if I wanted a stripe down the centre back and front – I used a coordinating grey blue lining for the back shoulder yokes. It’s a bit soft so I interfaced it. And then lined it with the last tiny bit of that red poly cotton.

The neck facing is also the same linen as the back outer yoke and it’s bound with red poly cotton strips. As are all the seams. Except the armscyes.

What can I say? Red bias strips for everything? Until I was over it and just overlocked the armscyes.

I haven’t worn any of these items together yet. But I might one day!

Meanwhile, the skirt and the jacket are getting plenty of wear as separates in my work wardrobe.

Shirtdress mashup: Burdastyle 05/2004 #129 and 07/2004 #135

Mashing up patterns? What could possibly go wrong?

Luckily for me, this turned out much better than expected!

The patterns:

Burdastyle 05/2004 #129 (below left) and 07/2004 #135 (below right). The links go to and the images are reproduced from the Russian Burdastyle site because they’re from so long ago that’s the only one that still lists them

I’ve always liked #129, the green one, but never got around to sewing it. Until now. Nineteen years later.

I’m not in this size range anymore. But that didn’t stop me. I’ve already made #135, the red one, in my size (46 bust 48 hips) so I mashed them up.

My starting pattern had a bust dart so I rotated that to the yoke seam and then converted it into gathering. That was the easy it of the mash up!

I marked up the panels on my front dress pattern piece and then drafted new pieces with extra width at the top for the gathering, using the 05/2004 #129 pieces as a guide.

You can see from the pattern pieces that the gathering isn’t additive – the top of the piece is gathered in but the bottom of the piece is back to what would be the regular width of the base pattern. I replicated this on my pattern pieces. The gathering is modest – about 1.2 times the width of the straight piece it’s sewn onto.

I lined the yoke with white batiste. When my fabric is doubled up, the black shows through the other colours a bit and dulls them down. The white makes them pop.

The gathered and then restrained-back-in panels give the dress a cocoon shape feel – which is a silhouette I love.

Grey hair don’t care

I added pockets – because pockets are always a good idea – and used white batiste for the pocket pieces facing the outer fabric. For the same reason.

Smug sewist because she added pockets

I used the pockets drafted for the Cloud dress. They’re fabulously large.

The lovely fabric I used is a Japanese woven cotton from The Fabric Store. Wonderful to sew and gorgeous to wear.

Such a happy dress!

Sizing up Bella

Tessuti’s Bella dress pattern is an old favourite. Search through my blog – you’ll see I’ve made several Bella’s for myself and Felicity.

But I am no longer the same size thanks to having so many birthdays that I’ve hit menopause. So it was time to test another size.

Version one was in a red rayon fabric from my stash but originally from a designer fabric sale. It’s an odd fabric. Gorgeous colour but has a very dry hand and is prone to creasing.

I traced off and made a size 16 with shortened sleeves.

It was too big through the shoulders – the only bit that really needs to fit.

So I added a 1.5 cm tuck to the centre front,going down 15 cm, to remove 3 cm of the excess fabric through neck through the bust.

This sort off worked.

Although the armscyes are too low – I really should not be able to lift up the hem this much when I raise my arm! Another pointer to the size being wrong

Whatever. I have a dress I can wear. And the colour is still gorgeous despite the fit!

So for my next version I went down a size to size 14.

This one is made in an embroidered wool blend purchased on holiday in Leicester.

Souvenir fabric!

I didn’t have a lot of fabric but was pleased that I had enough to be able to line up the embroidered motifs reasonably well.

It’s lined with a polyester galaxy print which I bought as a roll end several years ago for a fabulous price because it was so last years.

Now so dated after sitting in my stash that’s it’s best used as a lining.

The facing is a grey linen. Because I thought the wool might be itchy. But it was a bit of an afterthought once I realised that lining right to the edge with the galaxy print might not be such a great idea. So I overlocked and stitched it on a top of the lining rather then doing things properly with a seam.

I used a wool 4 cm strip for the pocket openings for the same reason. And also just stitch an overlocked strip on top of the lining. What can I say? Consistently slapdash!

I used a wide stain bias from the stash for the hems -and the stitching just disappeared into the wool.

Love it when that happens

So. What do I think about the sizing? This is probably the right size. But the fit is not great. The shoulders are good but it’s a bit tight through the bust whilst being looser through the back.

And of course everywhere else is fine because the style is loose everywhere else

Bottom line -I like the dress. I’m not convinced Tessuti’s block works for me. It did work when I was a smaller size. Now, perhaps not so much.

So what other trapeze style dress pattern are out there that I should try? All suggestions most welcome 🙂

Should’ve made a shirt

I’ve had this small floral woven cotton in my stash for a while. It’s always been earmarked for a shirt. Shirting weight, small floral. Makes sense doesn’t it? Light grey and white. Perfect as corporate wear.

But I had an idea in my head that I wanted to use the Closet Core Cielo dress pattern for. And I needed a wearable toile because the hips are a bit tight on the last Cielo dress I made.

Yes I used the shirt fabric. And played around with a coordinating fabric on the back yokes and as a sort of flat piping on the sleeve cuffs.

I have successfully tested the sizing (too big – took in the side seams).

But I haven’t made the best use of this fabric – too light both in weight and in colour.

It’s a fail.

So some further experimentation couldn’t really make it much worse (spoiler alert – it did).

I asked myself: Could Cielo be used as a very casual interpretation of a Chanel jacket inspired dress? Likes these from the Chanel Spring 2022 RTW collection?

Chanel Spring 2022 RTW image source:

The answer is maybe but probably not. The loose fit makes it a very loose interpretation of Chanel gloriousness. It might be more successful in a more appropriative fabric.

What did I do? I added a strip of contrast fabric at centre front-the length was determined by the amount of remnant I had . I topstitched it in place. I then added two bands to the top of the pockets. The topstitching of these was tricky to do with machine sewing but looks ok if you’re not close. I didn’t have enough for a neck band.

I wore this dress on very hot days only. When I’m not likely to be seen in public….

I should’ve made a shirt. But it was fun whilst it lasted.

Retro Hope dress

Piping and a large print on a donkey grey background seems to have taken my third Hope dress into retro style.

And I like it!

This is Style Arc’s Hope woven dress at knee length. With a thin waist tie attached to the side seams.

The pattern description says the dress is in two lengths and the illustration shows a knee length version. But my PDF pattern does not have a seperate skirt pattern piece or a ‘cut off here’ line on the skirt piece or any information about length in the instructions about how much length to remove.

A totally easy hack – I removed 22 cm from the length – but odd that the pattern is silent about it.

This lovely large print is a viscose woven purchased from TMOS 5 years ago on holidays in the UK.

TMOS, unfortunately not facing the camera (unfortunate because he has a lovely smile, not just because he is handsome..)

It’s extra special because my dear friend Melissa and I literally bumped into Karen of Did You Make That? and Ella at the stall. What are the chances of that!!? The famous sewing blogger from London, from whom you heard about TMOS and the reason you went there, turning up at TMOS at the same time you went there all the way from Australia!

Yes Karen is wearing a CCP Charlie caftan in Liberty. Obsessed with sewing details? Who? Me??

I added piping because I had some in my stash and I wanted to highlight the raglan sleeve seam lines.

I had just enough for the front and the neck but not enough to pipe the back. Coffin back. Guilty as charged. But also in line with the retro vibe of this dress.

Also guilty of sloppy sewing, as my photographer (He who Cooks) pointed out to me – “there’s a pucker or something you’ve sewn badly at the waistline on the back”.

What sort of monster have I turned him into? I know I talk about sewing. All. The. Time. But surely that’s not to blame?!

I’ve got to assume I was distracted by that unintentional not-pattern matching through the centre back seam. Whatever. It didn’t distract him!

I added thin ties to the side seams to reduce some of the gathering at the waist. What it actually does, of course, is bring the side seams forward and put more of the fullness at the front. Another reason to be accused of coffin back.

The forward side seams are quite obvious in the photo above, but so are the pockets. Like all great dresses, it has pockets!

It could well be time I moved on from this pattern. But it is such a delight for make and wear.

Is three Hope Dresses too many? Is three Hope Dresses enough to qualify me for the #HopeDressSpringsEternal club?

So many questions…

Silver crushed velvet dress: Burda 01/2018 #101

This is a story of going to the fabric store to buy fabric for a specific pattern but buying something we loved that wasn’t really suitable for that pattern. Anyone else do that? When we realised what we’d done, all the Burda magazines came out and Felicity and I spent a pleasant hour or so finding another pattern.

This is Burdastyle 01/2018 #101 in a size 40.

I did a ‘pivot and slide’ 2 cm FBA but it may not have been necessary given the stretchiness of the fabriv.

The waist twisty bit is a nice feature. The line drawing is a bit misleading for this bit (the tucks in this pattern piece end up on the part that you sew to the side seam – but the line drawing shows the side seams smooth). But, as the reviews on Pattern Review said, if you follow Burda’s instructions literally, it might seem nonsensical but it works out just fine.

The fabric is a crushed polyester velvet from Spotlight, and Felicity says its delightful to wear.

I omitted the zip because it is very stretchy fabric.

I wondered about changing the neck facings out for a binding, but thought this might give it too much of a sports look which seems wrong for crushed velvet so I stayed with the facings. Not sure I should have worried about a sports look being inappropriate. This dress is apparently perfect for riding a scooter in the city.

The facings are hand stitched down. But my commitment to hand stitching ended there – the hems were turned up 1cm and stitched with a simple zigzag. This made both the sleeves and skirt 3 cm long than drafted because I’d added a 4 cm hem allowance

So this is a story with a happy ending.

I still haven’t sourced fabric for the initial pattern though.