Stylish Party Dressses Giveaway Winner – more to come

I’ve been rather swamped by life so it’s taken me a while to find my blogging feet again. It happens.

I’m back briefly to let you know that the lucky winner of the Stylish Party Dresses giveaway is Amanda Black! Please send me an email at sewbusylizzy (at) gmail (dot) com and I will post it out to you!

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments, there were a few questions amongst them and I will get back and answer those soon! Thank you – every comment makes me smile and after a long, rough work day that’s always much appreciated :-)

I have another book from Tuttle Publishing to review very soon! This one is Stylish Remakes – and two copies to give away… so watch this space for an upcoming review and another giveaway.

I’ve ALSO got a copy of Boundless Style by Kristiann Boos of Victory Patterns to review, one to giveaway and a project I’ve made from the book!

I’ll be back soon!

Note: winner decided by

Inari Dress, Named Patterns

or My Gigantic T-shirt Dress :-)

I had no inclination to make this dress. At all. Then I did. I’m not sure what triggered my change of heart, perhaps sunnier days or the Inari dresses and tops popping up here, there and everywhere… so I jumped online at Stitch 56 during a sale.

Inari Dress, Named Patterns, Sew Busy Lizzy

Inari Dress. Like everyone that has made this – I love how the seam brings the back of the dress around toward the thigh.


I purchased the paper pattern, it is also available as a PDF. If I have a choice between a paper pattern or a PDF, I will usually choose the paper pattern, unless the PDF comes with an A0 copy-shop file – then I have to think twice about it. Named paper patterns are expensive, however they are printed on bond paper and the instructions presented in a booklet – all packaged up in the neat envelope.

Here’s the trick with Named Patterns. The paper patterns come with no seam allowances… and the PDFs do (read about Named paper and PDF patterns here). I’d rather trace a pattern and add seam allowances than put together a bazillion A4s – even a handful of A4 is too many for me. I just added the allowances with a ruler as I traced – I know, I could add them by eye as I cut… but I’m a bit precise about some things (and hopelessly imprecise about others). The Inari is a simple pattern so adding the seam allowances wasn’t onerous… I am horrified at the thought of doing that for the Isla Trench Coat which is loitering in my sewing queue.

Inari Dress, Named Patterns, Sew Busy Lizzy

love that sloping side seam and split hem.

The pattern has a dress or a top option and two neckline finishes. The dress has a forward sloping side seam, meaning the back panel is slightly wider than the front, the hem is also split with the back being slightly longer than the front. I do love the small thoughtful details that seem to be core to the Named Pattern’s aesthetic.

The instructions are presented in a neat little booklet. I did find having the finished garment measurements and the pattern measurements on different pages rather odd – I like to compare these for each area of the body (for ease) before I choose a size. I also found myself jumping about the booklet to find things such as recommended seam allowances. I suspect there are elements to the Named Patterns which are put together in chunks for speed in layout and also translation purposes – some elements in a pattern are fairly standard (body measurements and general instructions) whereas other elements are individual to the pattern (finished measurements). Perhaps the Named instruction booklet layout reflects this. I’m not sure – it’s just a theory. 

I was momentarily bamboozled by some of the markings on the pattern sheet – ie the bust and hip line are marked on the pattern – at first I thought they might be shorten/lengthen lines. Perhaps there is a key somewhere that I missed but I had ‘lost’ this pattern in my sewing room so when I finally dug it up I was desperate to sew and didn’t spend too long puzzling through everything! A few Instagram comments later I was on the right track, the Named team are very prompt and helpful! Thank you!

I think all sewing patterns and instructions have their quirks – it’s just getting used to knowing where to look for things. Provided the actual garment goes together well, I enjoy seeing how different companies approach their patterns and instructions.


I decided to make this in a white/denim striped ponte. This ponte composition is 64% rayon, 32% nylon and 4% spandex. It has a lovely drape and sheen that I’ve not often seen in ponte.

Inari Dress

Inari Dress – ponte is perhaps not ideal for this and wind doesn’t help! I confess I do love wearing a gigantic t-shirt regardless. 

Everything went together perfectly. The instructions are clear and the diagrams adequate.

Even though I used a stretch fabric, I opted to use the facing rather than a neckband piece as I love the finish on my She Wears The Pants (SWTP) Top and felt that the addition of stripes running in another direction around the neck would break up the clean lines of the stripes. I was after a very simple, classic shift. I understitched the facing to prevent it rolling out and added a line of stitching about 20mm in from the neckline as I liked that finish on the SWTP top.

Choosing stripes turned a simple sewing project into a much fiddlier project (I unpicked one sleeve three times, yes I basted, used a walking foot, unpicked and adjusted but it just didn’t want to play nice). It’s acceptable but not perfect.

I overlocked all the edges first. This usually concerns me (stretching and distorting the edges) but I decided to give it a go as directed by the instructions – and my seam allowances were only 1cm which are a pain to feed neatly through the overlocker after sewing. I pinned and basted the seams, then stitched them with lightening-bolt stitch on my Bernina. Due to the loose fit around the hemline, I chose to use a standard straight stitch to hem the dress. I liked the stripes running the other way on the sleeve bands and hand stitched the sleeve cuffs at four places to keep them securely in place.

Inari Dress, Named Patterns, Sew Busy Lizzy

I went BARMY sewing the sleeves… and then I got to a point of begrudging acceptance. I still haven’t overlocked both pieces together in case I have a bout of ‘yes I can fix it’. I suspect not as the fabric is starting to show signs of wear from being unpicked THREE TIMES.

Named Patterns drafted for someone about 5 foot 6 or more (172cm), I am 5 foot 4 (165cm) – so I shortened it by about 40mm (1.5 inches) around the hip line.

I don’t think it’s the most flattering dress I’ve made but I love it nevertheless. It’s a sack, a drapey sack and hangs like one… but I love it anyway.  Obviously choosing stripes wasn’t a master stroke for figure flattery – however I love the classic nature of stripes and how easy they are to pair with a range of jackets, shoes and accessories for a different look. The ponte rayon has quite a bit of drape – I’d be interested to make this in a woven and see how it looks.

Would I make this again – yes. I’ve got the same fabric in red stripe for my ‘Christmas dress’.

Inari Dress, Named Patterns, Sew Busy Lizzy

I do have hips under all that fabric – here’s proof. Blowing a gale – hem flapping everywhere!

Pop over to Instagram to see how I wore it to work on casual Friday recently…this combination gives it more shape – with a vintage denim jacket, resin jewellery and a pair of leather high-heel sandals. I guess the obvious choice with this dress is to do the red/white/blue combo – maybe another day!

Pattern: Named Patterns, Inari Dress/top
Fabric: approximately 1.3m ponte (slightly less?) from Spotlight (purchased at a 40% sale for about $14)
Shoes: Nine West (purchased at a cancer fundraiser ladies night for $5 – massive score!)
Necklace: Polka Luka.

Also see: Funkbunny | The Long & Winding Bobbin | Dresses & Me | Cut, Cut, Sew | Sew Amy Sew | Miss Castelinhos| Sewing and Cocktails | Closet Case Files | Offsquare | Fiona Makes | Up Sew Late (plus a tutorial for a hem facing)
and the one that sold me? BEE MADE – I want this dress!


Stylish Party Dresses – and my boho Drape Top

… or what to wear when you aren’t wearing a party dress…

I had already purchased the Japanese version of this book Stylish Party Dresses, traced this top & had it on my lengthy list of books in my personal collection to review (which is becoming embarassingly extensive!). When Tuttle Publishing contacted me with an English copy to review and offered to provide a giveaway copy (giveaway now closed), it made sense to accept. I had struggled with the Japanese version of the pattern sheet and I was delighted to get my hands on an English version as I liked many of the patterns.

Drape Top i from Stylish Party Dresses

Hey Lizzy – where’s the party dress? Or even a stylish dress? Slightly windy day on the beach so it’s being blown about a bit.

With this book I was immediately drawn to the tops, jackets and cape-sleeved bolero. I liked a couple of the dresses but it was the possibilities of the other items that drew me in and lead me to compulsively purchase the Japanese version months and months ago.


I was tempted to sew this top in silk… I think it would make a luxe top with skinny jeans or cigarette pants or a pencil skirt… however I opted to stick with the spirit of the book and found a budget-friendly fabric. I purchased this woven rayon, on sale, at Spotlight. It’s a lovely mosiac, stained-glass style print.

It's quite modest and conservative at the front.

It’s quite modest and conservative at the front.

Where I didn’t stick to the spirit of the book is the ‘party dresses’ theme. I thought it would be interesting to look beyond how the designs are presented and find new ways to wear them. In the book this top is paired with a loose mini or maxi skirt.

This top has a front yoke with a couple of sets of gathers above the bust, the sleeves are full and wrist length. from the front, the top is quite conservative and modest.

The body is very flared and the back drapes beautifully – yes ‘drapes’, of course I was going to love this! It’s a ‘business at the front and party at the back’ top. The back opening is wide/low and I had to tug my back bra strap down for the photos. I’d be tempted to raise the back ‘v’ a little next time as I hate fiddling with clothing that I am wearing. The tie across the shoulders does help keep the top in place and is a nice decorative finish.

Construction details: I cut out two yoke pieces and burritoed (self-lined) the front yoke – to increase the neatness of the internal finish. I used French seams on the sleeves, back and side seams – when the fabric is lightweight, I love French seams. The neckline and back opening is finished with self bias-binding. The back tie I made from self fabric – sewing a long thin tube and turning it right-side out with a bobby pin. I knotted the ends of the ties.

top - flat

The pattern matching isn’t so great at the back… however the draping of the back conceals this centre back seam when I’m wearing it

Let me gloat for a moment about that pattern matching at the centre front yoke....

Let me gloat for a moment about that pattern matching at the centre front yoke….

Sizing: I fell into the 6 size range but chose to make up size 4 – and as you can see, there is plenty of ease!


It’s no secret I love Japanese pattern books. I have a considerable collection! Last year I fell in love with the unique designs of Drape Drape (I have a genuine urge to make some more at the moment)… and now I have come to love some of their ‘everyday’ clothing books as the minimalist designs, loose fit and sizing suit my build and lifestyle. I know this isn’t the experience for everyone… however it works for me.

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

Stylish Party Dresses: the English and Japanese editions

As I mentioned, I own the untranslated version of this book – in fact I purchased it because I fell in love with the top I’ve made for this post. The Japanese book version is just beautiful, it’s a larger format and has a different cover and is called ‘Formal and Little Black Dress‘. Even my non-sewing friends comment about the beauty of Japanese sewing books, they are often beautifully shot and have an eye-catching serene aesthetic.

This book offers 26 dresses and separates which seems to represent excellent value for the cost of the book.


Some of the design details are obscured by the printed fabrics and photography. However if you flick to the instructions section of this book, every set of design instructions provides a line drawing which is excellent way to determine the design features.

I’m drawn to the jacket, cape and tops in this book. I wear a lot of dresses, mainly to work, however I do love to create tops & jackets to wear with jeans as that’s my out-of-work uniform. It’s quite easy to look beyond the styling of Stylish Party Dresses and see that many of these items can be worn casually or paired with pencil skirts, jeans and the like.

I haven’t photographed every design – please see English Girl at Home for additional design images and Top Notch who has also reviewed this book.

Designs a and b from Stylish Party Dresses, published by Tuttle Publishing.

A tulle skirted and a lace overlay dress… now THAT’S a party dress!

This bolero has cape-sleeves. Gorgeous.

This bolero has cape-sleeves. Gorgeous.

I love this little lace jacket.

I love this little lace jacket.

This is a mock-wrap dress. if you prefer a looser fit to a traditional wrap dress and an elastic waist - this could be for you.

This is a mock-wrap dress. if you prefer a looser fit to a traditional wrap dress and an elastic waist – this could be for you.

The top I fell in love with - in the book it is paired with a loose mini skirt. I prefer the fullness of the top paired with a slimmer skirt or pant.

The top I fell in love with – in the book it is paired with a loose mini skirt. I prefer the fullness of the top paired with a slimmer skirt or pant.

I think I just like that lace fabric... but as for the red... I struggle with frills and ruffles of any kind...

I think I just like that lace fabric… but as for the red… I struggle with frills and ruffles of any kind…

I love the little blouse 'design n'. A simple wearable everyday design

I love the little blouse ‘design n’, I’ve already traced it and have some flamingo rayon waiting for it. A simple wearable everyday design

Jumpsuit for the brave!

Jumpsuit for the brave!

I like this chiffon mini dress - but imagine it on me in a burnt-out cotton voile as a summer beach dress/throwover

I like this chiffon mini dress – but imagine it on me in a burnt-out cotton voile as a summer beach dress/throwover

I do love this raglan sleeve mini dress and would love to try this as a t-shirt dress in a rayon knit.

I love this raglan sleeve mini dress and would love to try this as a t-shirt dress in a rayon knit.

Sorry bad shot - this jacket as a frotn frill - impossible to photograph the details as it is black. It's simple, sweet and it made in poly georgette for this book.

Sorry bad shot – this jacket as a front frill – impossible to photograph the details as it is black. It’s simple, sweet and it made in poly georgette for this book.


Yes. Japanese sizing range is smaller than our traditional ‘Western’ sizing. That said I’ve got a few Japanese books (I Am Cute Dresses as an example) that don’t cater for my measurements, they are too large for me, so don’t dismiss Japanese books without some investigation. I’m not saying these books will suit everyone however if you are falling just outside the size range – you might be surprised.

Catering from busts from 30 3/4 inches to 40 1/2 inches.

Catering from busts from 30 3/4 inches to 40 1/2 inches.


You will need to trace. The patterns are overlapped and printed in a single colour but not a mess of lines so it’s not too tedious.

the pattern sheet

the pattern sheet

Tracing the pattern was more challenging as the pieces were located across two sheets, the markings are slightly different to western pattern markings and these patterns share many pattern pieces – with different lines for armholes, lengths and necklines. I re-traced it in the English version – and while it is MUCH easier, it does require concentration to ensure you have chosen the right line. I traced the back and front piece twice… I was tired and rushing the first time and didn’t trace the pieces at the more flared line.

There are two pattern sheets (double sided) and these are contained in an envelope in the back of the book.


The instructions are brief but clear and accompanied bynumbering, garment line drawings and illustrations. People with sewing experience will find these instructions brief but adequate. It might be challenging for a beginner – but you don’t know what you don’t know at that stage – Google is always most helpful in this regard!

Stylish Party Dresses - typical instructions.

Stylish Party Dresses – typical instructions.


I like it. Clearly. I liked it enough to purchase an untranslated version, I excitedly spammed -instagrammed many of the images when I purchased the Japanese book. I’m delighted to have the English version as I’m going to make up some more of these patterns as I do love the simplicity for everyday wear.

I haven’t tested every pattern or proof read every line of the instructions – the book would be out-of-print before I finished! However overall the quality appears to be the standard I’ve come to expect from a Tuttle Publishing book.

The patterns in this book are very simple – and it sells itself as that ‘easy and inexpensive sew-it-yourself dresses for that special occasion’. You could use cheaper fabrics… you could use silks, linens and fancy fabrics – and many of these minimalist designs would shine in luxe fabrics. Either way, you can interpret these patterns to suit your own style and life – or party for that matter.

Some of the language and symbols are slightly different to some of the other Big 4 or indie patterns on the market – however it just takes a little time to adjust to a slightly different approach. I would expect this from any new/different pattern company.

With 26 dresses, tops, jackets and skirts provided in Stylish Party Dresses, I think this book does represent good value for your spend if the designs appeal and suit you.


Let me know if you would like to be included in the giveaway draw in the comments below. Note this is open to anyone in the world and will be chosen via Giveaway closes Tuesday 3 November at 5pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time). GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.

I received two copies and provided one of these copies to the Brisbane Frocktails event (on 31 October 2015) as a lucky door prize.

Pattern: Drape Top (i) from Stylish Party Dresses, published by Tuttle Publishing
Fabric: Rayon, from Spotlight, $9 a metre, used approximately 1.8m (135cm wide)

top - side

I’ve worn this all day – I feel very ‘boho beach chic’ in it and it’s perfect on a warm sunny day. #winner

I’m running well behind schedule on everything at the moment, it’s the story of 2015, such is life. Right now, my back is being a drama queen. I’m limited to sewing simple makes which don’t require hours of cutting or sitting at the machine as my back locks up. I’ve put back my Mood Fabrics Network make as I need to rest my back a little more. I should be good within a week and after perhaps one more torturous but necessary physiotherapist visit.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this pattern for review purposes.
All opinions my own. No affiliate links in this post.

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The Happy Days maxi(mum) summer shirtdress, McCalls 7242

I confess, I may be slightly infatuated with this pattern. I was happy when I made it. I feel happy when I wear it.

McCalls 7242 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Front view. The buttons finish mid thigh.

Meet McCalls 7242. I immediately fell in love with this pattern. It has a gracious swooshiness (technical term). I pictured it in a vivid blue fabric.

The Inspiration

When I was in Melbourne for Frocktails, Busy Lizzie gave me a page from a magazine of a ‘celebrity’ wearing a striped maxi shirt dress (very much like this one), telling me ‘I can see you in this’. She knows me well! I confess I’ve been a little obsessed since. When I spotted this McCalls pattern it seemed like a good place to start a maxi shirtdress kick. Next up I’m looking for something with a buttonband – I may simply convert an existing ‘stash’ pattern.

Aussie road block: it’s a Laura Ashley design and McCalls only ship Laura Ashley patterns to USA and Canada! I know, I know, virtual mailboxes, other websites such as (which didn’t have it at the time, I’m an impatient person!), eBay… however we have an international network of enablers… I’m most grateful to Suzanne of Beau baby for helping me out! Thank you!

The Pattern – McCalls 7242

This pattern is described as: Loose-fitting dresses have collar, blouson bodice, back pleated into self-lined yoke, elasticised waist, side pockets, and narrow hem. A: Pockets and side slits. B: Ruffle. C: Bias armhole facings. B and D: Elasticised lower edge of sleeves.

I was immediately drawn to the sleeveless maxi dress – View C.


This is a lovely design, elegant in its simplicity.

The skirt is gently flared. I like the lack of volume combined with the length of the skirt. I’m 5 foot 4 and I feel slender and tall(ish) in this style.

Back view: McCalls 7242

Back view: McCalls 7242. A rather wet hem… see photo below! The perils of beachside living.

The neckline is simple V-neck with a mandarin/band collar. As far as collars go – this is nowhere near as fiddly as a collar and band to attach.

I like the centre back pleat and how the back is gently gathered at the waist with elastic. I’m not always a fan of elastic at the waist… in fact I never seem to have any in my stash. However it is very comfortable for eating/wearing and I’d always wear a belt with this to break up the expanse of fabric and define my waist.

McCalls 7242 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

I cut the back yoke on the bias. The back features a pleat and the waist is gathered in with elastic.

The finish is generally neat. I opted to French seam the side seams of the bodice & skirt. The yoke is self-lined, finished burrito style (I cut the outer yoke on the bias – barely noticeable but I know). The armholes are finished with self bias binding.

The fit across the upper bust reminds me of the Grainline Alder (which I made here, here and here!). The back is fuller than the Alder with a centre back pleat and the fullness being gathered in gently at the waist with elastic. Note: There are no bodice darts for shaping.

The only overlocking is along the inner edge of front facings.

I managed to have a slight ‘idiot’ moment sewing on the facings in a completely stupid fashion late in the afternoon of the first day – I knew I should stop… but I didn’t… the blessing is I didn’t go past ‘the point of no return’ and some unpicking and patience figured up my mistake. Lisa of Notes from a Mad Housewife sent me the instructions via Instagram (mine were beside my machine, locked away in the sewing room for the night… I’m sure I’m not the only person who can’t go to sleep until I figure out a mistake!). Funnily enough she was just finishing up her long-sleeved shorter version of the same dress – perhaps more inspirational for those of you heading into fall!

McCalls 7242 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Of course I managed to ‘wreck the dress’ during photos, getting caught by the slightly bigger wave wash than anticipated! You will notice some of these photos have a slightly drenched hemline!


Honestly I can’t find much critical to say about this pattern. It went together easily and I like its silhouette, ‘vibe’ (that’s a thing right?) and design elements.

The elastic finishes shy of the centre on each side. I find it does want to pull the centre front apart a little at the waistline. I think my elastic needs to be looser – I confess I didn’t measure the elastic using the pattern guide (I never do). I may use a button or snap to hold it neatly closed (see this post by the Vintage Ink Fairy)… although I will probably always wear a belt with this to define my waist and break up the expanse of fabric.

The front opening doesn’t have a button placket. It is finished with long, long, long front facings. The maxi length of the skirt combined with the buttons stopping above the knee means that the facing wants to flap out a little as I walk. I might try some invisible hem stitches to catch it to the inside of the dress skirt.

McCalls 7242, you can just see the front facings here. That sort of thing bugs me - minor but I notice it

McCalls 7242, you can just see the front facings poking out here. That sort of thing bugs me – minor but I notice it


I love it – perhaps one of my favourite creations of 2015.

Thank you

To the girls who came from Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Parkes and Frederickton to sew in Port Macquarie last weekend. I was exhausted after two days of non-stop sewing (and talking!). Included in this lovely bunch was Kat of House of Lane (crikey she can sew fast!), Maria of How Good Is That?, Michelle of My Sparkling Machine, Colette of Colette’s Sewing and Stuff, Loanne from the Gold Coast, Lee-anne from Parkes, Bianca from Brisbane, Kylie from Frederickton and Jenny from Lincraft.

We had breakfast and dinner together (I’m not sure you can count picking up takeaway and stuffing it down our throats mid-sewing as ‘lunch’) and spent two days talking and sewing non-stop. It was lots of fun and something I haven’t done before. Sewing can be such a solitary process, it was interesting to sew with company… it was also interesting to see how focussed we all are! I loved that people bought their families and partners along with them – and we all had dinner together. It was noisy and fun. We were joined at dinner by June, who happened to spot us on Instagram and was holidaying in Port with her daughter.

I managed to start and finish this dress over those two days (thank you for rescuing me from a ‘derp’ moment Maria LOL). I even managed to scare away a hoard of rampaging squirrels and stayed focused until I reached the finish line. Thank you to Bianca who provided the final bit of white thread as I ran out about 20cm from the end of the hem! Argh! Typical.

There were quite a few who couldn’t make it – life happens! I think there may be another in 2016… maybe with a workshop or two, we might need a bigger room… hopefully the weather is as perfectly fabulous as it was last week.

Sorry not many photos of the actual weekend’s activities… I get distracted and just enjoy the moment sometimes… camera/iPhone free. Nothing to apologise for!

Pattern: McCalls 7242, size 6-8
Fabric: Woven rayon from Spotlight, Port Macquarie. I used approximately 3 metres (plenty of leftovers). I purchased it on special for $9.95 a metre.

A girl and her dog

A girl and her dog. I do love a maxi that can be a little saucy when required.

It was a warm spring weekend – we spotted a pod of whales breaching and flipping their tails about. Like spotting koalas ‘in the wild’, it’s hard to tire of the magic moments that nature provides free of charge.

Whales frolicking in the summer heat

Whales frolicking off the beach in the afternoon heat

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A little too ladylike… Sewaholic Nicola

I haven’t sewn a Sewaholic pattern for quite a long time… and like every Sewaholic pattern  I’ve encountered so far in my online sewing life (Gabriola, Cambie, Lonsdale, Renfrew, Pendrell, Tofino, Alma, Hollyburn), the drafting and instructions for this Nicola were excellent.

Sewaholic Nicola

Sewaholic Nicola – excuse sulky pout… it was FREEZING… and WINDY… I wore it with a plaited belt and a self-fabric belt… I think I like the self-fabric belt best.

That said, this dress isn’t quite right on me – rather like my issues with the very popular Hollyburn skirt. I know my style… so I’m not quite sure why I was so tempted to sew this dress. I think curiousity got the better of me and I felt like making a ‘pretty dress’. I know, shoulda stuck to grunge!

The neckline of the Harwood seems a bit severe to me, however the Nicola appeals to me as a feminine, pretty shirtdress.

The Nicola reminds me of the Colette Patterns Hawthorn, albeit a softer style over all with its yoke and gathers, and flaring gathered a-line skirt.

Sewaholic Nicola with heels - back view

Sewaholic Nicola with heels – back view

Construction comments

This is a neatly finished dress, seems to be a Sewaholic trademark!

The yoke is finished ‘burrito style’ and the instructions are perhaps the best written instructions I’ve seen for this technique. Tasia certainly nails her instructions every time, they are concise but ample enough to achieve a well-finished garment.

I French-seamed the bodice side seams and skirt seams. The only visible overlocking is on the raw edge of the facing pieces.

Sewaholic Nicola - side view

Sewaholic Nicola – side view

The front yoke gathers do seem to be a little puffy. When I referred back to the Sewaholic site it appears to be there in the sample dresses for the long-sleeved version – this is easier to see in a solid fabric than my printed version or the printed sample. It seems to puff slightly above the bust.

It’s a lovely feminine shirtdress. I don’t hate it, in fact I think it would be gorgeous on plenty of women, it’s just not quite my thing.

This is a great pattern for anyone who has been put off collars. While it’s not a traditional collar-band finish, it is a very easy collar to sew.

Some friends have commented I should shorten the dress… I think it would throw the proportions of the dress out and look a little odd… a sweet dress needs a sweet length I can’t imagine it shorter. It’s not really a ‘sexy’ short dress to me… what do you think?


Not for me… but another great pattern from Sewaholic that I think deserves a little more attention.

Sewaholic Nicola - back view

Sewaholic Nicola – back view

While I might not be sold on this dress on me… sewing with Sewaholic again is tempting me to make another Gabriola and it is such a lovely pattern…. and I do love a maxi skirt…

Side note

I do love the new Sewaholic Vancouver collection. I have no interest in ‘activewear’ (well not right now) – however I like the Cape and I especially love the Seymour jacket… if it had been provided as a PDF A0 file I probably would have ordered it & had it printed immediately. However printing 36 inch files is painful or impossible where I live – and I actually prefer an A0 PDF to a tissue paper pattern… so I’m in holding pattern (pun intended)… I might yet succumb…

Final thoughts…

I’ve wondered why there seemed to be so few Nicola and Harwood dresses out there – after the huge popularity of the Cambie and the Lonsdale a few years ago.

Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of independent pattern companies out there and we are now seeing the same volume of dresses but more diversity.

It’s a mystery as to why some patterns take off like a rocket (hello By Hand London Anna dress) and others seem to simmer slowly or simply fade away. Without a doubt there are dresses and t-shirts aplenty to choose from these days and I suspect it dilutes the impact of a new pattern release… there are so many ‘new kids’ on the block, it must be harder to make a splash.

What do you think?

… not an exciting blog post so I leave you with a Banjo photo bomb and some beach shots…

I couldn't resist including this rather classic Banjo photo bomb!

I couldn’t resist including this rather classic Banjo photo bomb! For the record there was nothing exciting in the tiny cave. Alas.

A cold and windy day but the surfers didn't seem to notice! Nobby's Beach, Port Macquarie

A cold and windy day but the surfers didn’t seem to notice! Nobby’s Beach, Port Macquarie

A sea eagle...

A sea eagle…

Pattern: Sewaholic Nicola (purchased from Sew Squirrel), size 2.
Fabric: Woven printed rayon from Spotlight, Australia ($9.95 a metre on special)
Buttons: Lincraft ($0.29 each, great button range at Lincraft compared to Spotlight!)


or The Skirt I Simply Had To Make.

Fumeterre Skirt by Deer & Doe

Fumeterre Skirt by Deer & Doe

I simply love maxi skirts. Adore them.

Someone commented on Instagram that this was ‘very you’ and indeed it is. There isn’t too much to say about this skirt… it had eight gores with a button front, it’s flared and long. It’s simple, a bit retro and I liked it immediately.

I managed to resist a few days before I gave in and ordered it from Deer & Doe. I’m not a ‘fan girl’ as I’ve never made a Deer & Doe pattern before. I do own the Datura & Pavot patterns but not made them up yet – they were purchased in Paris several years ago.

You could probably find a similar design in the Big 4 in a sale… however I love to be swept away when inspiration hits – and I knew exactly what fabric I wanted to use. Tracking down a Deer & Doe ‘bricks and mortar’ supplier in Australia and then phoning to order it was just too complicated for me. I’m a ‘click and go’ girl so I ordered online. The postage from France isn’t horrific and it arrived within a week.

Fumeterre Skirt, Deer and Doe: front view

Fumeterre Skirt: front view. While it looks like a floor sweeper, it’s slightly off the ground – I’m barefoot and slightly sinking into the sand here.


This is a fairly simple pattern and is described by Deer & Doe as “High-waisted maxi skirt. Version A is buttoned at the front with belt hoops. Version B has a fly front zipper and patch pockets“. I made Version A.

The skirt has eight  gores and there are two pattern pieces for these. The side front and back pieces are the same (the back panels are the same as the front panels, minus the button placket). There two pieces for the waistband (which is straight) as the waistband has seams at the back where the elastic is inserted. There is a small pattern piece for the belt loops and a piece of hem facing) the facing is in four pieces.

The pattern is printed on sturdy bond paper and not overlapped. It comes in a nice large envelope with two instructions booklets, one in French and one in English. There are plenty of diagrams to accompany the instructions. When making garments purely for myself, particularly simple garments, I tend to gloss over every single detail in the instructions. I refer to them for order of construction rather than word-for-word guidance.

I would advise cutting the notches on the skirt pieces to ensure you piece them together correctly.

The instructions are adequate – it’s not a difficult project and you don’t need a huge amount of instruction. While Deer and Doe give it 3 stars out of 5 for difficulty I think it would be a good beginner project (OK the hem gave me a headache but flared hems are often like that!). I often think ‘beginners’ are far more capable than companies, and the beginners themselves, give them credit for.


The Fumeterre Skirt appears to be drafted for someone MUCH taller than me. I am 5 foot 4 (about 164cm). I took the skirt pattern pieces up 4 inches below where the buttons finished rather than taking it from the hem. I did this to preserve the flare of the skirt which I think is the lovely graceful feature of the pattern. I re-drew the pattern piece from where the length was removed to the hemline. I cut off approximately another 1/2 inch during the hemming process. It’s turned out the perfect length for wearing with flats – or barefoot.

I’m not a huge fan of how the waistband is attached. You sew it to the inside and then turn it over to the front and top stitch it down. I prefer to sew it to the outside, turn it to the inside, slip stitch it to the inside by hand and then top stitch it. I think it is easier to achieve a neater finish. However that is my personal preference on construction – not necessarily right or wrong.

I only used the belt loop pattern piece for width reference. I cut a much longer strip and then cut it into four pieces – rather than making four individual belt loops which seems excessively fiddly to me.

Fumeterre Skirt, Deer and Doe: back view

Fumeterre Skirt: back view – it hangs softer than that, I live with a permanent sea breeze it seems.

I did use 25mm (1 inch)  elastic in the back waist as recommended but it was a very neat fit in the casing, so I removed the piece of elastic and put in 20mm wide elastic and I much preferred the finish. I know people are put off elastic in the back of waists – however, in my skirt, the elastic seems to be more about providing a little ease than being gathered.

I French seamed the skirt panels and then top stitched them down.

I did attempt the hem facing as per the pattern… however in a soft rayon it was a complete nightmare. I couldn’t see the point in weighing down the hem of a flowing skirt with a rather wide piece of hem facing – perhaps I might have thought differently in a heavier fabric. I took it off and hung it overnight again. The hem dropped all over the place. I hung it on a coathanger and pinned what seemed to be a straight hem line, put it on and got my daughter to check the pins where the same distance off the floor. I trimmed it again and then used some readymade bias tape to turn over a narrow hem.

I used the reverse side of some buttons I found at Lincraft as they seemed to blend better with the fabric. I didn’t want feature buttons as I love the fabric’s shifting tones and colours, I didn’t want distracting buttons.


I suspect this may be the sort of fabric that people either like or loathe. It’s not conventionally pretty and I love its swirling tie-dyed tones and the barely-there floral overprint.

I had this fabric in The Fabric Library (aka stash). I purchased it from East Coast Fabrics when shopping with Lizzie in Brisbane in March. It’s a lovely soft rayon, that’s not too light or transparent – it seemed perfect for a maxi skirt. It also doesn’t crush too badly (enjoyed this recent post from SunnyGal Studio Sewing about fabrics and pattern matching – I am definitely a Scruncher). However when it does crease, the tie dye pattern disguises creases beautifully. When you get close to this fabric, it’s got a delicate floral overprint. It reminds me of the grunge fashion period of the 90s… which I loved… and still love.

Fumeterre Skirt, Deer and Zoe

Fumeterre Skirt: I stopped the buttons just above my knee

I think this would photograph much better in vivid sunshine however I couldn’t wait, I haven’t blogged for a few weeks and I wanted to share this – so it didn’t end up in my pile of unblogged things – yes, we all have them! The colour is actually a lovely soft mossy slightly-greyish green… which is not great to photograph on an overcast day (the current weather is forecast to last for at least another week). As an editor I used to advise our commissioned project makers against selecting mauves and colours with grey in them as they were often very difficult to light, photograph and print to capture their true colours. Clearly I don’t listen to myself :-) I’m ok with that.

Fumeterre - a nightmare hemming experience. However a better shot of the skirt's true colour.

Fumeterre – a nightmare hemming experience (this is post hem facing removal) – however this is a better shot of the skirt’s true colour.


I was curious about the pattern name – so I looked it up while writing this blog post. The Free Dictionary tells me it is a “delicate European herb with greyish leaves and spikes of purplish flowers; formerly used medicinally” and the word originates from the “Middle English fumetere, from Old French fumeterre, from Medieval Latin fūmus terrae : Latin fūmus, smoke + Latin terrae, genitive of terra, dry land, earth;” ‘aka smoky earth’.

It seems like a beautiful twist of coincidence that my swirling tie-dye mossy skirt has a delicate overprint of a flowering plant. Perhaps it is a pattern/fabric match made in heaven.


The Fumeterre Skirt is easy to construct, nicely presented and it has two quite different closure options (buttons or fly-front with pockets).

This is a simple skirt pattern. There are plenty of flared and/or maxi skirts on the market across many of the pattern companies, independent and Big 4. I think it comes down to personal preference which pattern has the features you are after. This one immediately appealed to me and I didn’t try to resist it, I like the flare over pleats and gathering. Waiting for a Big 4 pattern sale in Australia for a particular company can be a tedious experience.

I enjoyed making this and will no doubt wear it a lot.

Pattern: Fumeterre Skirt, Deer & Doe
Size: I ummed and ahhed about the sizing and decided to made 38. I didn’t want a super neat fit or any strain on the buttons as I hate it when there is pulling at a button closure, it looks awful.
Also see: Very Kerry Berry | Attack of the Seam Ripper
Location: Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie

Random useless fact: This skirt makes me want to sing Sweet Child O’ Mine… random but true. I love it when clothes bring back memories, they seem the sweetest garments of all. I loved the grunge fashion period and this skirt feels like a step back in time… or perhaps I never really left this style behind…

“She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky”

Fumeterre Skirt, Deer and Doe

My skirt also appears to be also handy for camouflage purposes… plus if you look carefully you can see the bias hem tape. I admit – this fabric was impossible to match with anything, thread, buttons or tape!

Papercut Patterns, Guise Pants aka Does Lizzy Wear The Pants?

It’s been awhile.

I was in a sewing ‘funk’, didn’t know what to sew or where to start. So I asked Instagram how to drag myself out of it. Amid the many suggestions was a very funny comment from Jen of The Stitcher and Gatherer to make some pants. As she pointed out, I make a lot of skirts, dress, tops and jackets… and I needed to challenge myself.

So I did.

Hello Guise Pants from Papercut Patterns.

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants - front view

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants – front view

Now I will be 100% honest, I had plenty of reservations about this pattern – and I even told Katie of Papercut Patterns that :-)

  1. I generally prefer skinny jeans or wide-legged flat-front trousers – it’s all or nothing with me; and
  2. elastic back waist. I live in a holiday/retirement destination and elastic waists of any description remind me of sensible shoes and comfortable pants worn by a significant proportion of my community…l’m not ready to go there yet!; and
  3. I wasn’t sold on the pattern photography – not my colours and styling. That said, I like to look beyond that and see if I can ‘make it my own’ – that’s part of what inspires me to sew.

However I love a challenge.
Katie had sent me the pattern (along with the Flutter and Sway) when I had enquired about the Papercut Pleated Pants – that’s another blog post in the not too-distant future.
Plus I had traced the Guise out weeks ago, I fell in love with the new tencel denim at Spotlight and the rest is history!


Size: There are a few versions of these pants floating about the internet (see end of post for links) and a couple mentioned that they had sized down or would next time around. My hip measurement fell just below the XS size so I decided to make the XXS. I admit, making pants that are too small terrifies me as there is nothing more ego deflating than too-tight pants. I could have made a toile/muslin… however having made a few Papercut Patterns I decided to trust my instincts and just leapt in.

Fit: I don’t know!
I don’t often wear pants of this loose-fitting, pleated and casual style. In fact, one of the reasons I made the belt as I really don’t own belts for trousers.
They feel OK and are certainly very comfortable.
They do seem very generously sized. Even sizing down, they are a little droopy about my waist and hips. However I think the soft drape suits them with this fabric choice.
I love how the legs are taper around my calves and ankles. I cut about 1 inch off the length (I’m 5 foot 4). I’m going to try these with the hems rolled up a little. I like how Jolies Bobines styled hers.
There is quite a lot of ‘room’ in the crotch however they seem to sit nicely over the junk trunk and hang well at the front.
If you are a pleated pant fit guru – please share your thoughts!

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants without a belt

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants without a belt

Construction: The pattern went together without a hitch. One of the easiest makes yet. You can read quite a detailed post about it at Gingermakes – and she notes an error in the instructions and some other quirks with Papercut Patterns – it’s well worth a read if you are making these.
I found the instructions really straight-forward and comprehensive. I have sewn welt pockets and fly fronts before – however I found these instructions really helpful and clear. There wasn’t any ‘support’ from Google search.
I did overlock all the edges of each piece before I sewed. I don’t always do this as I think overlocking can distort the fabric edges. However as this fabric was stable, I overlocked the edges – as I find Papercut Patterns 1cm seam allowances rather small when feeding them through the overlocker (not overlocking both together). They just never turn out as neat as I would like.

Pockets: Four pockets! Two front and two back welt pockets. I had some floral silk fabric that I decided to use for pocketing. I found this on a remanent table at my local independent fabric shop in Port Macquarie. All five metres of it for $5. I’ve been hoarding it for lining purposes.

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants, sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Back pocket detail

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants side pockets, front pleats and self-fabric belt

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants side pockets, front pleats and self-fabric belt. Sorry my belt is twisted – no mirrors at the beach. I pulled these on in the car!

Welts: My back welts are not quite perfect – but they are OK. I love these little details. I thought the welt fusing piece (inside the trousers) could be just a little bit narrower so it isn’t visible above the pocket on the inside. That’s just a visual detail if you like picture perfect garment guts.

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants - welt pockets

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants – welt pockets. I’m mid stride here.

Fly front: I found the pieces and instructions fabulous, this is one of my best fly fronts yet.

Waist: The pattern has you neaten the inner waist band edge and stitch it down. I decided to finish my edge with bias binding for ‘neatness sake’. Gingermakes widened her pattern piece and folded the raw edge under – do whatever rocks your world I say.
I machined the bias on the right side and then took the pants to work and handstitched the bias edge under to the wrong side. Why so pedantic? Mainly because I do like neat finishes… and then I could get sewing on the rest of the pants as soon as I got home! I love to maximise every minute of my day.
The elastic back waist may be a deterrent for some. It was for me at first. However the back doesn’t make the fabric fall in an unflattering way over the ‘junk trunk’ – or mine at least.

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants - I've included this so you can see how the elastic back looks. It is not 'that' gathered

Papercut Patterns Guise Pants – I’ve included this so you can see how the elastic back looks. It is not ‘that’ gathered

Belt and belt loops: I laid out my pieces with the intention of having a skerrick of fabric left running down the selvedge to make a self-fabric tie belt. It’s a little wider than the belt loops but I wanted the belt to look like that – I know, not everyone’s style but it was the look that was in my head. I would have loved it slightly longer and flared at the ends… but no fabric left!
I opted for the fabric belt as well as sometimes a different coloured belt seems to chop me in half and visually shorten me.
If I make these again, I would make the belt loops slightly longer, they seemed ‘just the right’ size. I would rather cut them slightly longer and them trim them back. That’s just how I construct things. I like a bit more room for fiddling.

Fabric: Tencel denim from Spotlight, Australia. This is LOVELY stuff. Beautiful to work with and I will be curious to see how it wears. (Note: after 6 hours of wear I was pleasantly surprised at how this fabric didn’t crease excessively).
I opted for tencel denim as I decided that anything with too much body would potentially make the pleats a little too ‘sticky-outie’ and result in unwanted lower tummy/crotch ‘poofiness’. I’m really happy with this fabric and pattern match.
I think these would be great in a light wool crepe for casual office pants aka secret pyjamas.

…and how I’m most likely to wear my pants… beltless & casual… that’s how I roll (or prefer to).

guise pants_me1

Beltless – they really need a belt to hold them up… but the seagulls don’t seem to mind so much.

Also See: Gingermakes | Jolies Bobines | Craft Sanctuary | The Monthly Stitch

Thanks Jen for the suggestion – I’m back to ‘normal’.

sewing again and back at the beach

sewing again and back at the beach

Pattern: Papercut Patterns Guise Pants
Note: Papercut Patterns provided this pattern for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links in this post.
Shirts: RTW – Just Jeans, Australia
Shoes: Zensu (lovely red patent leather… never-been-worn from the op shop for the princely sum of $5)
Earrings: Pandora
Location: Oxley Beach, Port Macquarie

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