Vintage custodian? Or weakness?

I’ve been sewing quite a lot lately. I’ve got at least three projects waiting in the wings.

Opportunities for taking photos has been limited and, to be honest, I’m tired. I hate photos when I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. So I’m resting (ok, being lazy) and quietly sewing – I’ll be back shortly.

I’m in Tamworth at the moment with my girls. I’m typing this post on my iPhone as I feel compelled to write tonight.

Today we hit my favourite vintage/op shop – and it was a treasure trove.

I found some beautiful silk, 5 metres for just $6. I feel a decadent kimono or some loungewear coming on… 

 

The real joy for me was finding a collection of vintage sewing patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this beauty, a damaged but magnificent Vogue Courtier 208.   

I believe that most, if not all, came from the stash of a lady called Mrs Williams. The collection was considerable, predominantly women’s dresses with a bust size of 34-36 inches.

It’s silly but I love knowing who vintage patterns belonged to. It makes me feel very attached to them. I’ve been gifted many patterns, including a number from Busy Lizzie , Suzy Bee Sews and a work friend who gave me her mother’s patterns from the 1940-50s. I treasure them all.

I grew up surrounded by lovely furniture that came from mainly my mother & grandmother’s home. I studied at my grandmother’s desk, I slept in a cedar bed made for my mother, I sat on a settee from my grandmother’s home. 

Now I sit in my great grandfather’s chair every morning as I drink my coffee.

My mum & dad often told stories about our furniture and other pieces in the house. I loved that these things that belonged to my family and the people that came before me. I felt connected. I grew up with a sense that everything was imbued with people’s lives and their stories.

I know it’s completely corny but there is part of me that feels a strong sense of sadness when I stumble across someone’s sewing collection tucked away in a corner of an op shop.

It’s not the possible monetary value that motivates me to take them home. It’s not huge and I’ve never been able to make myself to sell any I’ve purchased at op shops and garage sales. I have gifted a few of my finds to other passionate sewing friends. I’ve never parted with a vintage pattern that’s been gifted to me. I feel like a custodian. I know. Silly but that’s just how I feel about them. Perhaps I’m a curator at heart.

I gather them up and take them home for other, perhaps irrational, reasons. It’s that someone didn’t see that these weren’t just patterns. They didn’t see or understand their real value. These were very much part of who Mrs Williams was and her life. As much as her jewellery or favourite chair might have been. Perhaps I’m wrong but the extent of this collection and the nature of it spoke volumes to me.

Sewing was clearly a passionate hobby, something that filled her life with joy, creativity and satisfaction.

And that’s something beyond measure. Something to be celebrated and treasured.

So Mrs Williams, wherever you are, your hobby lives on.

Do you collect vintage sewing notions? And if so, what motivates you?

Seaside Spring Sewaway?

Winter hasn’t started and I’m thinking about spring. I live in denial of winter. I think if I ignore it, it will simply go away. Unsurprisingly it does… after three long months.

Last night I had dinner with Helen Funkbunny and Lee-anne, one of my sewing friends I’ve met through Instagram. I’m always amazed and grateful for the many fabulous and wonderful people I’ve met through sewing and blogging.

In the last 18 months I’ve ploughed through 25,000kms in my car. Fortunately I enjoy driving! During my many travels for work/family/sewing/social reasons, lots of people have expressed an interest in coming to my hometown. So I’m calling your bluff.

A sewing dinner. OK, there was no sewing but lots of talking about sewing!

A sewing dinner. OK, there was no sewing but lots of talking about sewing! I missed the memo about stripes.

I’ve done some initial investigations. I’ll provide a room for you to come and sew in spring (excessive amounts of chatting & laughter is also welcome). I guess it’s a little Seaside Spring Sewaway – just for fun. You can sew as much as you like. Or sew less & visit our beautiful beaches, enjoy the sunshine (touch wood) and have a nice meal or two. It’s up to you.

Port Macquarie is a popular holiday destination & we have quite a lot of big events throughout the year as well… which means there are some weekends when the town is extremely busy and that means finding accommodation or somewhere to eat can be challenging.

My last two weeks of September is taken up with one of my daughter’s (rather obsessive) dancing commitments.

I’ve been checking the calendar and the best options are

  • the long weekend at the beginning of October (3-4)
  • the second weekend (10-11)
  • the fourth weekend (24-25) or
  • fifth weekend (31 Oct – 1 Nov).

The third October weekend is out as that’s a Half Ironman weekend – the town is packed with crazy Lycra-clad people.

From November until late January my work life & end-of-year kids’ activities are in overdrive. Plus it’s peak summer holiday season here – our town population explodes & it’s not as relaxing as a ‘normal’ weekend.

Just let me know which weekends work best for you. Unfortunately I know October might not suit anyone but I probably won’t have another opportunity until this time next year or even later.

I know it’s not the most convenient location but it is beautiful (well to me anyway and I’m happy to share it with you). Port Macquarie is four hours drive from Sydney, six & a half hours from Brisbane – or about a hour flight from either.

Nominate a weekend/s below or drop me an email – you can find that on my ‘About Me’ page.

somewhere to sew?

somewhere to sew?

 

Sweet Carolina… a Mood Fabrics silk metallic brocade three-piece

I know… it’s been awhile! 

I’m having a weekend ‘up north’ with Busy Lizzie… potentially shopping for shoes, buying fabric (who me??) or eating ‘high tea’.

After a bout of sensible sewing & lots of knit fabrics, followed by a bit of blog & sewing silence, I’m back with some very extravagant fabric, courtesy of Mood Fabrics, New York.

 

These pictures were very difficult to take. We have had a lot of rain… and when it clears it is soooooo hot & muggy. It was 30 degrees celcius and very humid…. and it was 4.30pm! Despite being lined, every item of clothing kept clinging to my skin. Fortunately this was not made with outdoor leisure in mind! I prefer to take all my shots outside as 1) natural light is kind, 2) the family happy snap camera doesn’t like playing nice inside, 3) my hometown is pretty & 4) I’m not big on putting my house on the blog – a bit precious I know but that’s me.

I confess I’ve had this fabric for months and the indecisiveness nearly destroyed me. It was so different to anything I had sewn previously and I was a little stumped… and terrified. 2.5m of Carolina Herrera silk metallic brocade from Mood Fabrics NY!  

 

The flowers are enormous… and the fabric shifts quite dramatically between light & dark.

So I spent lots of time draping a fabric over my dressform, wrapping about myself, sewing some small swatches and ironing them helps me better understand what type of garment the fabric might suit best. Then I bombard my sewing friends (thank you in particular to Lizzie, Jen and Susan for their advice) and the instagram peeps!

When I google Carina Herrerra there was an abundance of cocktail dresses, with fitted bodices and full skirts. I think this would be grand… but overwhelm my frame. This fabric would make a stunning sheath dress – which I own rather a lot of as it’s my typical work dress style – they often pop up in my Instagram feed.

I nearly made a Pauline Alice Quart Coat.  It would have been perfect… the fabric does crease beautifully into pleats… however I faltered at the last step and suddenly changed my mind. 

 

Due to the body of the fabric and the structural way it fell, I was haunted by the urge to make a cropped flared jacket that emphasised the body of the fabric. I finally settled on Vogue 8145

  

This was one of my very early pattern purchases, I’ve long adored the flared back of the jacket.This pattern is an unlined jacket. As the fabric is somewhat coarse in texture I used a lining from the stash. I underlined the body of the jacket and lined the sleeves. I used a bias tape to turn up the hem to minimise bulk.  

 

The sleeves are two piece raglan sleeves with a seam running down the top of the arm which provides some shaping.

I omitted the buttons as it felt ‘busy enough’. I also eliminated the centre back seam in the jacket body piece.

Once the jacket was complete… another bout of indecisiveness followed… should I make a long pencil skirt or a mini skirt? 

So I took the very practical approach of wrapping myself in fabric and the was very apparent that a long fitted skirt would be a nice counter balance to the very dramatic flared jacket. 

 

It was very tempting to indulge in a new pattern and I nearly gave in and purchased the Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt. In a rare bout of self restraint I decided to defer to my pattern stash. I really loved the fit of the By Hand London Pencil Skirt – which I had made and blogged way back in 2012.

I lined the skirt with more stash lining and added a walking vent (yes, a lined walking vent no less!) following A Fashionable Stitch tutorials. You can learn how to draft the walking vent here and how to line a skirt with a vent here. Thanks Sunni!

While this skirt pattern calls for fabric with some stretch, the long walking vent makes it easy to walk in – I do have a huge stride (fast walker!) so I’m slightly limited – probably walking in a more ladylike fashion. I actually adore the firmness of the fabric. It feels amazing to wear and I find the high waist is very comfortable. 

The top is a Burda 2964. I had this in my stash as well! I picked this up at a Spotlight sale as, despite the rather gawky pattern envelope art, I loved the square neck and princess seamlines. The top is cropped and I think the shapely yet slightly boxy fit suits the fabric and works beautifully with the high-waisted skirt. The top is a slight miracle of pattern cutting Tetris – I wiggled and jiggled the pieces onto the scraps of my brocade.

The pattern is unlined, features a side zip and slits in the seamlines. It also comes with long or short sleeves and in a longer length.
 

THE FABRIC  

This fabric freaked me out for a while as it was so unfamiliar. However… I’ve fallen in love with silk brocade and would now love a sheath dress! The fabric is just fabulous to wear.

The oversized print is spectacular of this particular Caroline Herrarra fabric is a unique blend of opulent and grunge. It does amazing things in different lights and settings. It’s just gorgeous. I’m never 100% comfortable in ‘pretty’ things however this rather masculine yet feminine blend of colour, print and texture is very appealing to me. 

I’d read much about the frantic fraying nature of brocade but didn’t find this fabric at all troublesome. In fact it was one of the easiest fabrics I’ve ever worked with. That’s not to say it doesn’t fray but it wasn’t shedding like a beast. 

I would advise lining this fabric.

Slip stitching the fabric is a joy as the stitches just seem to disappear. 

The colours of the fabric change quite dramatically – in the first image the fabric looks quite dark & moody. The light is behind me. The other pictures the sunlight is shining onto me, bringing out the yellow gold tones.

I doubt that I would wear all three items together… then again you never know! I do love to dress OTT sometimes, it’s fun! I’ve purchased several suits in my career and usually only wear the pieces together at the most formal corporate occasions. I prefer to mix and match. I love wearing jackets with skinny jeans and heels to more casual events such as dinner and drinks with friends. I also think I will wear the skirt with heels and a loose fitting shirt tied at my waist. 

Fabric: Caroline Herrara Silk Metallic Brocade, supplied by Mood Fabrics as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions are my own. 

Pattern, Jacket: Vogue 8146 from the stash 

Pattern, Skirt: Charlotte Skirt from By Hand London (this pattern was sent to me in 2012 by the girls. Previously blogged and loved here.  All opinions my own). I’ve modified this pattern by adding a walking vent to the back and adding lining. 

Pattern, Top: Burda 2964 from the stash 

The Quart Coat will happen sooner or later… it’s just a matter of time & fabric…

I love sewing with Mood Fabrics, I’ve tried so many new things – anything you’d like me to try next – fabric or garment?

Sew Tired Confessions…

I’ve been not feeling 100% and haven’t sewn anything too strenuous for a little while. I think disaster would  be the end result. Experience tells me so.

‘So tired sewing’ can result in some truly funny moments.

Earlier this year I was wondering what was wrong with my ‘walking foot’. I then realised it was the ‘buttonhole foot’ and decided I needed to ‘step away from the machine’!



Are you ready to confess your ‘so tired sewing’ moments? Let’s have a giggle…

Pauline Alice: the Eliana Dress

aka The Wistful Dress. Life is has been busy and TBH ‘worse than yuck’ I need something/anything to go right… my girls love this dress so I’m taking it as a ‘win’.

This was one of those projects that I wanted to be perfect but just isn’t quite. Nothing major, I’d like the straps to be topstitched (see below), I should have made the elastic slightly tighter and the armholes are a little low.

Nevertheless I’m not lying on the sewing room floor in a state of abject misery… in fact I’m planning on wearing it tomorrow!

Back view. Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Back view.

This is the Pauline Alice Eliana Dress. I’d never purchased a Pauline Alice printed pattern before and I must say I am impressed! I purchased the Carme blouse PDF ages ago but it hasn’t made its way into ‘The Queue’ for stitching just let.

The packaging is glossy cardboard, the instructions are in a neat little black-and-white A5 booklet (in English, French and Spanish) and the pattern is printed on large sheets of bond paper. The packaging is generously sized and it all goes neatly back together with plenty of room for your traced pattern – if you are the tracing type. The paper patterns are not cheap but the production quality is excellent.

I purchased my pattern from Caitlan of Indie Stitches. Her service and packaging was outstanding, I found via Pauline Alice’s site which lists Indie Stitches as the only Australian distributor of the paper patterns. I don’t mind PDFs but I avoid them if there is no A0 option unless I’m so keen I can’t wait for a paper pattern to be delivered – The Perfect Nose blogged about this today – and I agree with many of her points.

I contacted Caitlan via email as it didn’t appear to be in stock. She replied that it was ‘on it’s way’ and would let me know when it arrived. I was equally delighted by the detail of her business packaging when the pattern arrived (ok, it was ‘patterns’ as I’m besotted with the Pauline Alice Quart Coat & decided to purchase it as well). I do love thoughtful packaging… and the Indie Stitches envelope was stitched shut, the protective packaging sealed with fabric tape and the business card is gorgeous. That sort of thing makes me go ‘squee’ at the mailbox. LOL.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Front view: Pauline Alice Eliana Dress. I have a nice new scar on my leg that I’m hoping will fade. A child’s toy box leapt out and bit me a few weeks ago… or I could have been tired and bumped into it. Whatever… it was ouch and quite a bit of blood!

PATTERN ALTERATIONS

I added half an inch to the bodice as I am long waisted plus I wanted a ‘blousy’ top.  The length wasn’t an issue for me as it is drafted for a height of 165cm and I’m 164cm tall.

I graded out to 36 at the waist and skirt as I wanted generous gathering & a swinging skirt.

I decided not to put in the pockets as I was concerned they might look obvious with the knit jersey.

WAIST ELASTIC

As confessed in my Japanese skirts post, I’m not a huge fan of elastic waists but I think I’m coming around… in some cases.

I decided to omit the buttonholes and forgo a waist tie. Sometimes it feels a bit like gym shorts to me. I added a line of stitching in the middle of the elastic casing channel and used two thin strips of elastic instead of one wide one. I just prefer the look of two gathered rows than one thick one.

A very simple way to soften a thick elastic waistband- just sew two channels and use thinner elastic. Eliana Dress by Pauline Alice

A very simple way to soften a thick elastic waistband- just sew two channels and use thinner elastic

I’m going to add some belt carriers at the waistline (I’ve already made them) as I hate how a belt sometimes slides above or below the elastic.

I do like the waistline casing on this pattern. You sew the bodice and skirt together, neaten the edges together and then fold the skirt up towards the bodice, sewing a 3cm seam to create a channel. This makes the waistline hug the dress against your body which I think is a nice finish.

NECKLINE

Sewing those jersey strips in jersey was NOT FUN – yes Busy Lizzie warned us about that in her jersey Eliana dress post… but I had my heart set on a khaki jersey Eliana. If you are making this in jersey, I did some googling and you don’t need to cut jersey ‘bias’ strips on the bias. You can cut them on the grain with the greatest amount of stretch – well that’s what I read on this post by Made by Rae. Worked for me!

I machined the strips to the bodice and then turned them over and hand stitched them in place. I also slip stitched the edges of the long back ties and shoulder straps together. Yes. It turned a quick make into a long make, however I found it difficult to get a neat line of top stitching over the strips & gathered jersey. I knew wonky stitching would bug me so I opted to hand sew. I had a hideous week so the downtime taken stitching was much needed & appreciated!

I stitched a ‘boho gold’ chain along the neckline to add some interest. I also like ‘old gold’ tones with khaki. The chain meets with a necklace clasp at the centre back. I chose to wrap the chain around the shoulder straps and leave the tails hanging down my back. I left the jersey ties in tact – in case I decide to remove the chain in the future.

Simple 'boho gold' chain added to the neckline and twisted around the shoulder straps.

Simple ‘boho gold’ chain added to the neckline and twisted around the shoulder straps.

ARMHOLES

The armholes are low. My wardrobe ‘fix’ was to wear a black bandeau top over my strapless bra (which is ‘nude’ colour – not so attractive as a ‘peekaboo’ option). It cut in slightly as you can see in the pictures – which of course annoys me so I’ll have a think about that…

I don’t think it would matter as much with long sleeves but it’s something you might want to consider with the sleeveless version – plus it’s not bra-friendly.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

The underarms are LOW.

HEM

I used some Emma Seabrooke Knit stay tape from Stitch 56 (popped up in my facebook feed on night) and a double needle on my Bernina machine. I have no idea why but it had never occurred to me to baste the stay tape the wrong side of the hem and then turn it up and iron in place (recommended on the package). I know – I’m an idiot. So much quicker, easier and neater – this tape is very nice too.

CONCLUSION

It’s a simple make & easy to wear. Apart from all my hand stitching & attaching the chain, fiddling with pliers etc, this dress came together quickly.

I think it would make a lovely maxi dress in a woven rayon. It would make a gorgeous winter dress with long sleeves, tights & boots.

I’m wearing it tomorrow. Win.

 

Pattern: Eliana Dress by Pauline Alice, purchased from Indie Stitches– the only place in Australia to buy the Pauline Alice paper patterns.

Fabric: a rayon knit from Spotlight. From my ‘Fabric Library’, purchased for about $15 a metre.

Accessories: Shoes for Manning Valley Shoe Store – ages ago from the ‘bargain table’ for a ridiculously low sum… like $20 | bangle from my workplace shop (it’s a hazard walking in the office)

Also see: Busy Lizzie in Brissie | By Maggot | Top Notch | Couleurs et chiffons

These sunnies on-off pictures amuse me. It's like a tic!

These sunnies on-off pictures amuse me. It’s like a tic!

 

Note: Caitlan kindly offered me a little discount – however I was purchasing it anyway. I like to spread my self-indulgent expenditure around the sewing business world. A good thing too… I’ve never blogged the size of my pattern stash… it’s considerable!

Stylish Skirts – a review and a skirt (or two)

Last post I mentioned the Japan Sew Along over at Tanoshii which I discovered on Instagram. I’ve got a rather healthy collection of Japanese sewing books, in fact they outnumber all my other sewing books, I haven’t blogged my collection as I like to sew from things from them first – I’m a ‘proof is in the pudding’ girl. So I decided to try Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-to-sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure.

Warning: I’ve included many pictures so you get a good overview of what to expect with this book.

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

I’ve seen this book reviewed a few times but there are only a few skirts floating about on the Internet that I could find. I’m sure there are more but there is only so much time I have to hunting down slightly obscure things on the Internet!

This book is interesting because unlike many sewing books there are no pattern sheets. Each skirt ‘pattern’ is a simple diagram showing you how to draft the pattern – or in some cases a cutting layout diagram with the pieces and measurements marked in inches (centimetres in brackets). I really like this aspect of the book.

Unless you are absolutely not-a-skirt-wearer, I think many people would find something to appeal or suit their style in this book. Many of the skirts are composed of panels drafted on waist and hip measurements so the sizing is up to the drafter. The simple skirts (such as gathered skirts) could be made smaller or larger quite simply – more or less fabric for the panels or waistband. There are 23 skirts in total. I’m sharing a few below.

Warning: you need to add seam and hem allowances to the measurements provided, the instructions are brief and the drafting diagrams may take some puzzling out. There are plenty of diagrams to help you along.

You probably don’t need this book to draft some of the most basic skirts… however some of the other skirts are more complex… or quirky…

The book content pictures not fabulous – taken earlier tonight while sitting on my bed using the iPhone (eating chocolate slice) – but I think you get the idea. I often find the line diagrams are very helpful, particularly as I don’t think you can see the interesting design lines for some of these skirts.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those 'snail' panels.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those ‘snail’ panels.

A beautiful gored lace skirt

A beautiful gored lace skirt

a draped skirt... yes my weakness!

a draped skirt… yes my weakness!

All of these skirts are quite simple yet there is attention to detail and an appealing timeless simplicity to them.

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

I think the skirt on the left is a classic... however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

I think the skirt on the left is a classic… however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

Personal Thoughts on Stylish Skirts: I do like this book. It’s a little different to the rest of my Japanese book collections. The skirts range from simple through to more quirky. I will be sewing more, it’s a timeless collection of skirt patterns.

I chose a simple, irregular tiered (rather than the traditional three-tiered) boho skirt, the gathered tiers are broken or staggered.

As I was working with a number of rectangles, I drew a diagram with each panel marked with the finished measurements. I also pinned a little piece of paper so I knew which rectangle belonged where to minimise confusion when sewing the pieces together.

sewing notes to keep me on track

sewing notes to keep me on track

The skirt is very simple, composed of a front and back panel and two identical side panels. Each panel is broken into a top and bottom piece. You simply gather the bottom pieces attach them to their respective top pieces to make a panel. The panels are attached to form a tube and you attach the waistband.

A line drawing of the skirt

A line drawing of the skirt

The waistband has three channels, elastic on the top and bottom channel and they central channel with a drawstring. I’ve never been a fan of thick elastic waistbands but I think the two pieces of thinner elastic and a drawstring is very comfortable to wear. I also think the waistband is quite pretty with the three gathered rows. Once you finish the waistband you hem the skirt… And you wear it for the whole weekend… at least that is what I did!

NAVY BRODERIE ANGLAISE

My first effort was in a simple navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight. It’s a little crisp but you can clearly see the panels and gathers.

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front 2 beach

it was very hot and very very windy – somehow this was snapped between gusts of wind!

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy side 2 beach

Side view

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front outside

This is after the beach – later in the afternoon, post housework and other exciting events in my daily life. My arms are always in motion it seems – either to put on/take off/adjust sunnies – a habit hard to shake if you spend a lot of time outdoors I guess.

 

the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

back view: the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

VINTAGE FLORAL

This one is quite different, a vintage rayon (I think) from a Lifeline charity shop, I paid just $3 for 4 metres. It was quite narrow, less than a metre wide. The gathers and design details are less obvious but it’s a pretty skirt and flows beautifully as I walk. Cotton lace from the stash.

Stylish Skirts - tiered floral side beach

I think I'm mid-sunglasses installation here so let's just look at the skirt :-)

I think I’m mid-sunglasses installation here so let’s just look at the skirt :-)

Construction notes: I gathered the lower panels using two rows of stitching. I ironed the gathers flat once I had them even – I find sewing over the gathers produces a new even result this way. I overlocked all the seams together after I sewing the panels together using my sewing machine. I used lacing cord (it has some stretch) as my drawstring rather than making a self cord. This skirt is not rocket science, it’s very easy… but very comfortable and easy to wear for casual days.

I do like these skirts. They aren’t fancy or couture makes by any stretch of the imagination however I love maxi skirts… long, loose, soft skirts that I can tuck my feet under and curl up in. These will be worn a lot. Boho-style clothes and I are good wardrobe buddies. It’s one of those styles I always feel at home and relaxed in.

BOOK: Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-To-Sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure by Sato Watanabe
FABRIC: navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight (purchased at the recent 30% off fabric sale) and vintage floral fabric.
NECKLACE: from Mrs Peterson Pottery… love this one…
(note: all purchased by me)

Mrs Peterson's Pottery necklace

Mrs Peterson’s Pottery necklace

It’s a wrap (dress)… Butterick 6054

I’m rather amazed I haven’t made a wrap dress until now as I love them.

Butterick 6054

I think I’m rather ashamed I’ve never sewn one of my favourite styles before!

Maybe it was my early fear of knits… my inability to source quality knits locally… anyway – whatever the reason, I’ve made one now. Funnily enough it is very similar to the pattern envelope! I had planned to make McCalls 6884 however I chose this instead as the McCalls is a ‘mock’ wrap dress and I like ‘real’ wrap dresses (I still want to make 6884 of course).

CUTTING OUT

I find some knits challenging to cut out. This knit is a very soft cotton jersey from The Fabric Store, Sydney. While it’s not ‘slippery’, it does have lovely drape and wants to flop about. I started to set up on the floor (which is tiled so it’s an endurance) then suddently realised that my bed was a much more agreeable height. So I laid my cardboard mat on the bed and found the process much less exhausting – my knees thanked me. Clearly this style of cutting is not for using a rotary cutter, I used my shears.

I also thread marked all the notches, pleats and so on. I find some knits slide around if I’m trying to drag chalk over them – or any marker for that matter. Using a needle and thread is a little more time consuming but the accuracy makes it worthwhile.

PLEATS

Those lovely skirt and bodice pleats are a little challenging to sew through. The pleating is simple enough to do… however you end up with 11 layers of fabric just on the skirt piece. The bodice has two pleats and when you join the skirt to the bodice, there is another pleat across the waist line seam… to top it off you also need to attach the tie to the gigantic wad of fabric. It was quite a challenge to feed through my machine.

Butterick 6054

Please excuse my ancient cutting board, complete with toddler scribbles.
Focus on the pattern… that is a LOT of pleating for a knit…

As the front pleated skirt curves up towards the waist, the side of the top front hemline is curved upwards. I find that the squared-off corner of the other side (under the pleated wrap front) wants to perform ‘peek-a-boo’ – which I find annoying as it looks messy… to me… I’ve often said I’m stupidly fussy about minor visual details.

If I made this again I might curve the corner of the inside wrap skirt piece. I think this would minimise the visual distraction the squared off corner creates. My cure for this one? I tuck a tiny bit of the fabric on the inside into the side of my knickers to bring the edge up a tiny bit…. shhhhh don’t tell anyone. The fabric is so busy, and the pleats so distracting you would never know… except I’ve told you. Ooops.

Butterick 6054

The wrap does blow open a little and the wrong side can show… so it’s a classic wrap dress in that regard! The wrap is quite generous so I had no concern I would have a ‘whoops’ moment

TIES

I found these far too long. I’ve left them, however the tie on the side that goes under the front wrap and through the side opening is huge! I wrapped it around my waist twice (going under the front and through the side opening each time as I find all those ties wrapping around the front and over the pleats to be rather visually messy) and tied it as the side with the pleats.

I’m personally not a fan of ties that meet at the centre back. If you are sitting in a chair, having a lumpy knot between your spine and the chair is not comfortable. I also think it looks better at the side than dangling down over the junk trunk. Just personal preference.

SIDE OPENING FOR TIE

I Double stitched the seam around the opening for strength. I then used thin strips of lightweight hem tape to fuse the loose edges down rather than hand stitching them. Not because I’m lazy (I hand stitched the wrap facing down and to the waistline) but because I thought it would be neater and stronger and I’m happy with the finish. Sorry no photos… as you can’t see the fusing and the seam is now completely concealed and sealed away from prying eyes by the fusing tape.

NECKLINE

I found this neckline stayed in place all day and did not gape at all.

Butterick 6054

No neckline gaping whatsoever… happy days!

I didn’t actually cut the precise length of the band or bother to mark the notches and so on. Instead I simply pinned the band along the neckline, stretching it ever so slightly as I pinned, rather like attaching a neckband to a t-shirt. Just pulling it up ever so slightly to ensure there was a little tension to pull the neckline back against my skin. It appears to have worked a treat.

I used my coverstitch machine to stitch the band down after I attached it.

I also used some tape in the shoulder seams to stabilise them due to the weight of the fabric. Knit is strange stuff… it can be so heavy!

HEM

I always find hemming knits rather daunting. It is either smooth sailing or a turbulent trek of horror and frustration… sometimes involving hyperventilating. While the instructions have you turning up the hem and steaming out the curve etc. I found that this hem turned up very easily without any excess fabric to bother me. I simply turned it up, steamed it into place and then hand basted it into place. I often find encountering pins in the machine hemming process rather messy and sometimes results in a break in the rhythm of the stitching. I like to sew a consistent speed when hemming, no pauses and this seems to work – especially with my coverstitch machine, she’s a little… well… moody at times.

Butterick 6054

hmmmm, I’m undecided I think this makes the caboose look hmmmm, curvy….

FABRIC

It feels divine, soft and cuddly. The staff did say they had feedback that the black bled into the white when it was washed. And it did. Badly so. I washed it twice and hung it so it wasn’t touching as it dried. Only time will tell if it’s a repeat offender! I think I might search for some dye ‘fix’ solution – that must exist!

Likes

  • It’s a wrap dress. It’s a classic just not because it looks great on many body types, it feels like PJs!
  • Lovely neckline.
  • Pleats at the waistline that somehow manage to highlight curves and conceal bumps at the same time.

Dislikes

  • Not sure about kimono styles on me. I feel my shoulders look droopy. I think I prefer sleeveless or 3/4 sleeves – or a style which highlights my shoulders rather than covering them.
  • The huge volume of fabric at the waist… soooo many pleats.
  • The very, very long ties.
Butterick 6054

My choice of fabric unfortunately hides many of the details of this pattern, such as the lovely side skirt and bodice pleating. It was starting to rain – hence the little blurry spot on the camera lens right on my tummy/hip!

I don’t like this style on me quite as much as my cowl-neck dress, however it is perfect casual workdress – I don’t have to look super-corporate every day so it’s a great choice for those days at the desk when you just want to be comfortable.

While it’s not my favourite make, I wore it to work this week and got lots of compliments… and it felt like PJs #winning

Pattern: Butterick 6054. Size 6.
Fabric: Cotton Jersey from The Fabric Store, Sydney
Shoes: Sempre di by Biviel. I have had these forever… and they are slowly dying *sobs*. I actually wore my new red Miz Mooz shoes to work with this dress – however I like the monochrome look. I know – stupidly fussy again. (no affiliate links – I just buy stuff I like)

ON THE RADAR…

Sewing: I’ve sewn a Japanese pattern book skirt this weekend. It’s not fabulous but I suspect it will get worn a lot as it is comfortable! Blog post and photos soon. This is part of the Japan Sewalong (more info on how to participate here).
Life: December/January was overwhelming. Work & family stuff have been challenging to say the least. I don’t have much on the 2015 Fun & Frivolity Schedule… no holidays on the radar. However I will be hanging out with my sewing-soul-sister Busy Lizzie in Brissy at the end of March for High Tea. I have a zillion things to do in Brisbane as my Sydney trips are limited at the moment… including shoes and of course The Fabric Store, Fortitude Valley.
I’ll be down in Melbourne in August for Frocktails. Hope to see you then!