About sewbusylizzy

Australian sewing blogger

Back from the blog holiday… and a sparkly Vogue 8280

It’s been nearly 50 days since my last post… which wasn’t much of a post just simply a note that I was disappearing. I was exhausted and took myself off the blog radar for even longer than I anticipated. I needed it.

I spent a week in Tasmania over Christmas – we stayed in a quiet little spot and had an uncomplicated, quiet Christmas. After Christmas we jumped on a plane in Sydney and flew over to the South Island of New Zealand for nearly two weeks. I made a deliberate decision NOT to make any craft-related books or projects with me despite having oodles of time to indulge. I spent my time reading, relaxing and seeing some truly magnificent country. We toured a part of the South Island – between Christchurch and Queenstown – and will no doubt return in a couple of years to tour the rest.

I won’t bore you with all my holidays pictures (there are A LOT), I did that on Instagram. This is just a small selection of my favourite pictures and places.

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Up above Fox Glacier, New Zealand - reached via helicopter

Up above Fox Glacier, New Zealand – reached via helicopter

The girls sitting by the Haast River, New Zealand

The girls sitting by the Haast River, New Zealand

Jackson Bay - perhaps my favourite bay. Beautiful weather in a beautiful somewhat remote place.

Jackson Bay, New Zealand – perhaps my favourite day. Beautiful weather in a beautiful tiny remote place. I ate the best fish & chips (and coffee) I had in New Zealand from a tiny little caravan beside the road.

Queenstown, New Zealand - after dinner with LynneSews - Instagram meet-up!

Queenstown, New Zealand – after dinner with LynneSews – an Instagram meet-up!

Just a gorgeous lake - shot out of the car window on the way to Lake Tekapo

Lake Pukaki – shot out of the car window on the way to Lake Tekapo

When I returned to ‘reality’ I hit the deck at work at the busiest time of the year. So very little time or brain space for anything except work. I did squeeze in a quick frock for the major work function, thank you to Maria and Happylat for coming to my rescue – as naturally when I went to sew Vogue 8280 I discovered I had misplaced the first page of instructions.

The theme was blue and sparkles… from my dress to my shoes to my necklace and earrings… everything sparkled. That probably sounds a little OOT but it worked for the event. The pattern is Vogue 8280 – which is sadly OOP.

Vogue 8280 - lift selfie

Vogue 8280 – lift selfie. Looking a little ‘rumpled’

You’d think I would have stopped and taken some nice photos as my hair and make-up were ‘done’ however on days/nights like these you just fly through the moments and suddenly it is over!

I’m not going to review this dress as I have made it once before, this time I just lengthened the bodice by 1cm. I will say that it is a great pattern. Other than lengthening the bodice, this pattern fits me perfectly (the crease on my hip above is because I’m stepping forward). It’s a classic design that is very flattering and feminine without being fussy. I decided not to use two layers of the woven sequined fabric for the flanges as it would have been too itchy and thick. So I lined them instead – in hindsight I probably should have interfaced them but such is life. It worked perfectly on the night and I got lots of compliments – people were gobsmacked to find out it was ‘homemade’. LOL.

This is an iphone snap of my computer screen as I went through the pictures on my work computer. I was having a confessional moment with an audience of 600 or so people about my great love of Wuthering Heights.

'hand on my heart' Vogue 8280 is a sensational cocktail frock.

‘hand on my heart’ Vogue 8280 is a sensational cocktail frock.

And I’ve started knitting, a long-term simple project to make me relax at night… aptly named… Relax

Relax - knitting in MadelaineTosh Pashmina, Fallen Cloud. A pattern from Ravelry

Relax – knitting in MadelaineTosh Pashmina, Fallen Cloud. A pattern from Ravelry

So where to from here?

I have lots of blog posts to catch up on as mentioned in my last post.

During my time off I reflected on life – as anyone is apt to do when you are ‘getting away from it all’. It was exactly what I needed to do and while I won’t put all those thoughts here… in 2016 I’d like to do lots of sewing – highly selfish sewing. I want to sew where my imagination takes me. Random, inspired and experimental – with a few disasters along the way. That’s what motivates me to sew.

Off Duty

I could spend my holiday break sewing or catching up on my backlog of blog posts by blogging a couple of book reviews, a new skirt from Boundless Style, a self-shibori silk kimono jacket from Freehand Fashion, a dress a made from a 1973 Vogue pattern, my Top 5…

…or I could just relax for a few weeks.

Wishing you a safe & happy holiday season.

I’ll see you in 2016! 

Off Duty Blogger

off for some much needed R&R


A polka dot midi skirt: Vogue 9090

Despite having a misfire on midi skirts once before, I’m not one to be beaten so I tried again. I had this polka dot cotton twill with a slight stretch from Mood Fabric NY and although I worried about it for far too long, I think I knew it was always going to be a midi skirt!

Mood Fabrics, Stretch denim twill. Vogue 9090, sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

The front features an inverted centre pleat with two pleats either side.

I loved the denim tones and I thought if I can’t wear jeans all the time I might as well embrace the colour scheme in my other clothes!

Unfortunately this particular fabric has sold out however the beauty of Mood is that there is a seemingly endless array of fabrics and still plenty left in this stretch cotton twill range, including Navy, Green, Yellow, Red, Blue, Black, White and Orange. It’s got a nice sheen and body to it – and a joy to sew with.

I adore fancy fabrics as much as the next person.. However I don’t think all our sewing projects to be ‘fancy’, made from silks and high-end fabrics. Don’t get me wrong – they are delightful and I’ve sewn quite a few and loved them, However, I do love clothes that I can toss in the washing machine along with the rest of the family’s laundry. As a full-time working mum, sometimes practical wins out!

Mood Fabrics, Stretch denim twill. Vogue 9090, sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

yes, pockets

I had planned initially to make a shirtdress with this. However due to the body of the fabric it seemed to be begging to become a full ‘ladylike’ skirt.

I love the midi skirt trend and when I happened upon Vogue 9090 with its fitted yoke, pleats and pockets, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The design provides a lovely feminine shape without ballooning from the waist. I love a good yoke :-)

Yes, there are side pockets. Nice deep pockets – which are also sewn into the waistband. I prefer these types of pockets as they don’t flap about and make the line of the garment untidy.

Mood Fabrics, Stretch denim twill. Vogue 9090, sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

I confess I actually quite love the silhouette this pattern creates. It feels timeless and ageless.

I decided to line the skirt with some cotton voile. I simply used the skirt pieces, cut slightly shorter. I attached the lining to the skirt along the waistband, then attached the yoke lining and skirt lining to the zip using the Sewaholic Cambie method.

Vogue 9090 - cotton voile lining

Vogue 9090 – cotton voile lining

I would advise that the 7 inch invisible zipper recommended in the pattern is a little too short – or perhaps that’s more about my child-bearing hips… you may scoff but even my teenage friends referred to my hips that way! I used an 8 inch zipper and it was barely enough!

This pattern is not a fabric monster – it uses just 1 3/4 yards (1.6m) or 60 inch (150cm) wide fabric.

Not terribly smilely – work has been relentless for several months and I’m bone tired. Of course when I went looking for sunlight it was nearly impossible to find!

Fabric: 1.6m Denim Blue/White Polka Dot Stretch Cotton Twill
Shirt: Just Jeans, sorry can’t see the point in sewing a shirt until I need a new one!
Shoes: Roxette Yellow Lizard Pumps, Jo Mercer (I just had to type that – coolest name for shoes ever!)

Note: for this post I received a fabric allowance from Mood to make something of my choice. I blog it over at the Mood Sewing Network blog, then on my blog. All opinions my own.

This post first appeared on www.sewbusylizzy.com

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 random.org

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 http://www.random.org. 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.

This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

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 sewingpatterns.com (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

This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com