A Summer Dress – Lisa Dress from Tessuti Patterns

Aka the Little Big DressLisa Dress, sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Old Banjo makes his blog return

This is one of those patterns that seems to have been floating about in my head forever. I loved it when I saw it but spent…. years… wondering if it would be too shapeless on me. It’s safe to say, I like to make well considered decisions!

The best way to figure this out is to try it. Thankfully Tessuti Patterns are mouth more affordable than many independent pattern companies so I threw caution to the wind, along with $12, printed off the A0 sheets at Officeworks and got sewing.

Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns, side view

Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns, side view

It’s debatable if this is flattering when I am standing still – but what is flattering anyway? It’s such a subjective concept. Garments that showcase our curves? I don’t think they always need to ‘nip in’ at the waist etc. I think we should all consider our clothes as how they sit on our bodies and how they move against and with us when worn. I believe this is where ‘sack dresses’ come into their own. When sewn in a lighter fabric with some drape, sack dresses hint at what lies beneath without clinging to curves. And as a result, loosely fitted, feminine dresses will always have a place in my wardrobe.

Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns

Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns

I topstitched all the seams – with the exception of the waist seam. I did topstitch it, decided to it looked odd and then unpicked it.


  • I like the cut of the armholes.
  • I like the neckline and the loose fit of the bodice.
  • The high-low bodice waistline is cute.
  • I like how Tessuti sew their pockets, it’s neat and also helps the pockets hang forwards, rather than flapping about.


I cut 4 inches off the length – it would be have far too long at the drafted length. For reference, I am 5 foot 4 or about 164cm tall.

I didn’t make any other modifications, however I would like to make this again and I would pinch out at least 1/2 inch in the bodice as the bust darts are crazy low.

Depending on my future fabric choice, I’d consider shortening the skirt again and adding a deeper ruffle to the hemline. Both Kylie & The Machine and Lisa of Tessuti Fabrics have done this.

Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns

Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns


It’s a loose summer dress. Perfect for those long steamy summer days. An added bonus is you will also have plenty of room for lunch!

Pattern: Lisa Dress, Tessuti Patterns

Fabric: Tencel denim, Spotlight Australia (from the bargain table, fabric cost $12)

Vintage McCalls 6587, the reversible wrap dress

With the crossover at the front. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

With the crossover at the front. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979. I vintaged my photos a little to match an old pattern envelope. Just for fun.

I’ve gotten myself back into a work-work-work rut. So in an effort to drag myself back to ‘me’, I’ve committed to sewing – or doing something sewing related – for at least 10 minutes a day. This is the first outcome of that little promise to myself.

It’s strange how some patterns seem to fall out of the sky and I think this one is ‘meant to be’. With a huge thank you to Kat of Seamstress Fabrics whose internet sleuthing uncovered some copies of this rare pattern creature. The pattern back describes it as a “turn-about wrap-sundress”.

McCalls 6587, printed in 1979

McCalls 6587, printed in 1979. Size: small

I sewed this up quickly with a fine stripe cotton I’ve had maturing in the fabric stash for years. I wasn’t sure it would work or fit… turns out that I think I’ve met a new best friend in this pattern.

With the crossover at the front, square back neckline. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

With the crossover at the front, square back neckline. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

I’ve sewn this in a woven – and I think you need to be careful not to choose a fabric with too much body as it does need a little bit of softness or drape as the lower bodice and skirt are gathered and then sewn together. The bodice has a soft blousing effect at the waistline.

With the crossover at the back. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

With the crossover at the back. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979. Hair everywhere – thank you sea breeze!

The skirt pattern pieces had been shortened by two inches – and I sewed it up with this alteration as I’m 5 foot 4 and I decided it was probably going to work.

I took up the straps 2 inches(!) to fix the very low armholes and bodice gaping.

I suspect the skirt has pocket extensions (based on the instructions) and these have been trimmed off the original pattern. I just inserted side pockets in the usual way. Seems to have worked.

Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

You can see how the underarm and back gapes a little. I think you need to accept to achieve a reversible dress that unless it is in stretch, it’s going to be a roomier fit. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

There isn’t much to say about this except it’s really sweet and I love wearing it.

Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979. Square neck.

And I think I need more…

That, my friends, is all.

With the crossover at the front. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

With the crossover at the front. Vintage McCalls 6587, printed in 1979.

Pattern: McCalls 6587, printed 1979
Fabric: Fine blue/white striped cotton, with a slight crinkle. I think I paid $3 a metre several years ago at Spotlight. It was an unlabelled fabric on a bargain table!

Also see: Tessuti blog


A Soft Trench – Jack Jacket by Ready To Sew

Jack Jacket, Ready to Sew, in red wine tencel twill from MaaiDesign

Jack Jacket, Ready to Sew, in red wine tencel twill from MaaiDesign

It’s been a while!

It’s not that I haven’t been sewing… but I haven’t been sewing as much and I’ve been working long hours.

Sometimes I think projects come along at just the right time and it’s “meant to be”.

Maaike from MaaiDesign approached me and asked if I was interested in guest blogging. I did hesitate as September until February are some of my busiest work months but sometimes having something to sew makes you take some time out.

I decided to sew something I hadn’t sewn before – and once I spied tencel twill in the online shop I knew exactly what I wanted to make – a soft trench coat! I chose ‘wine red’ as it is a classic colour that never seems to date and goes beautifully with black, beige, navy and denim.

Fortunately I had the days off work between Christmas and New Year – and when I wasn’t scrubbing my house tiles, I was sewing this jacket.

The Jack Jacket – Ready to Sew

I almost made Simplicity 8554. And then I settled on a Japanese pattern which I had traced and added seam allowances to… and then just as I was about to cut out the fabric (the pattern pieces were pinned to the twill!)… I suddenly recalled the Jack Jacket by Ready to Sew!

The Jack Jacket is a contemporary trench with some traditional features and some modern. It had a number of features that I thought would pair well with the tencel twill. It has some gathered design elements at the wrist, collar and waist which seemed a good match to the fabric’s drape and weight. Unlike the other two patterns I had considered, the Jack Jacket has lining which I think makes for a more durable garment.

It is described as “A classic coat crafted with contemporary details, the Jack Trench Coat is an essential layering option that will remain a timeless piece for years to come.
It features big curved lapels, a gathered collar and a self-tied waist. Jack has a loose and comfortable fit. It falls beautifully whether the jacket is tied or left casually open.” What the website doesn’t mention is that it has giant lined patch pockets and lining.

The Collar

A sweet gathered collar detail - just perfect in tencel twill!

A sweet collar detail – just perfect in this tencel twill!

Waist Tie

This fabric has a beautiful selvage and I was keen to use it somehow in the garment. I couldn’t find any cord, ribbon or leather that I liked for the jacket. So I made my own.

The wrist and collar cord were made by folding strips of the fabric in on itself and top stitching the edges. I deliberately cut out my pattern pieces to preserve approximately 2 inches of along the entire selvage for the waist tie.

Making use of the beautiful selvedge for my waist tie.

Making use of the beautiful selvedge for my waist tie.

I tightly knotted the cord ends to finish them.

Sleeve cuff details

Sleeve cuff details

The hem has perplexed me a little. I find it wants to droop a little. I think I may add a line of machine stitching at about 1.5 inches. While the hemline is interfaced, I think the drape of the twill is fighting gravity.

Ready to Sew's Jack Jacket in tencel twill from MaaiDesigns

Ready to Sew’s Jack Jacket in tencel twill from MaaiDesigns

Overall I found this pattern an absolutely joy to sew and I am very tempted to try some more from this designer. The lining has a pleat in the back and also at the hemline – and the lining has its own pattern pieces, no drafting or second guessing the lining pieces. I did find the instructions confusing for how to sew the lining at the sleeve ends. So I reverted to the instructions for the sewalong for the Minoro Jacket by Sewaholic.

The Lining

Ballerina lining fabric from Clear It, Melbourne

Ballerina lining fabric from Clear It, Melbourne

This was gifted to me by a beautiful sewing friend. I have not seen it online anywhere. It was from Clear It in Melbourne.

A back pleat and flap - more traditional trench design features

A back pleat and flap – more traditional trench design features, needs a good press here. I was excited mid construction!

I had such a hard time photographing this one! It was either terribly hot (we have had the hottest December and January on record here) and it’s also been extremely windy!

Pattern: Jack Jacket, Ready to Sew. I made size 36, my bust is 33in/83cm.
Fabric: Red wine tencel twill. Supplied by MaaiDesign – all thoughts and comments my own.

Casual at the beach as the sun goes down

Casual at the beach as the sun goes down

This post first appeared on www.sewbusylizzy.com

TUTU making again

Nothing much to say about this one.

I made another tutu! It seemed to drag on and on but I finished it eventually.

I just love the giant puffball stage of making these. They are a wrestle to sew but weirdly fun as they materialise under your sewing machine foot!

Tutu - netting plate sewn onto the stretch leotard.

Tutu – netting plate sewn onto the stretch leotard.

Wondering how that is transformed into a tutu plate? Steam and stitches my friends! My first tutu I used a tagging gun to hold the layers together. This time it felt too ‘fluffy’ so I opted to replace the tags with large tacking style stitches, resulting in a better looking plate. My tagging gun also died on the final round of tagging. It is still a bit wonky but I can probably straighten out that front crease with some more steam. I ran out of time before the eisteddfod!

It wasn’t quite what I envisaged but looked lovely on stage. The contrast of the burgundy, white and gold looked very elegant – and much more grown-up after her last pink, grey & silver tutu.

Zoe on stage in her latest tutu

Zoe on stage in her latest tutu, for a classical interpretation of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Pattern: Dani Legge’s Stretch Tutu pattern, you can find her on facebook.
Supplies: Lycra from my local independent fabric store. White netting from Spotlight. Crystals from AliExpress. Gold lace trims from Aleemah’s Appliques and Trims. Tiara from local dancewear shop (I’ve accepted there is only so much I can make).

I wrote quite extensively about making a tutu a couple of years ago, you can read those here…. the workshop, embellishing & on stage.

A Tencel Denim Japanese Jumpsuit? Onesie?

Or that time I channeled my inner denim-clad Gumby

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit – just mucking around on Photoshop app on my phone one night – better (unfiltered – perhaps not better!) images follow!

I’ve missed just sewing things for the heck of it. Like so many of us, I am very time poor so I had tried to sew sensible/practical stuff to make the most economical of my time spent sewing.

Turns out, for me, that’s a bit of an inspiration killer. So I’ve decided to revert to my former sewing self and sew the things that tickle my fancy or intrigue me. In all honesty I tend to wear my slightly off-kilter garments the most. Plus I sew because it relaxes me, my yoga is sewing. I make no apologies for that.

And lately it was this that intrigued me. Japanese pattern books are back!

Japanese sewing book

I fell in love with this book a few visits ago to Kinokunya (Sydney) and last time I visited, it was still there. So I decided it was meant to be.

Contents of the book - there are up to two variations on every main pattern.

Contents of the book – there are up to two variations on every main pattern.

And while there are several very sensible and more practical patterns in this book, the pinstripe jumpsuit captured my interest. So I decided to fly with the idea.

Pinstripe office onesie!

Pinstripe office onesie!

Pattern tracing took me a night, however the alterations and procrastination took me at least another two weeks. Not because they were complicated but I did try to talk myself out of this odd outfit choice and procrastinated over the pattern changes.


My favourite thing to trace my patterns with is a product called ‘Trace & Toile’ from Spotlight (Australia). At $20 a 10 metre roll, it is expensive. I wait for a sale and purchase several rolls at $10. I don’t sew as much as I used to, the upside to this is that a roll will see me through many patterns.

Trace & Toile

Trace & Toile

While it has it faults – pen rubs off a little, heavier to see through – I love the fact I can baste my pattern pieces together to get an idea of fit. This product gives me a better idea than I seem to achieve with tissue paper fitting – and saves me the trials and tribulations (and precious time) a fabric toile can take. It doesn’t replace a fabric toile but if you don’t think you need drastic alterations you can quickly see if more length etc is needed. Long basting stitches slide out easily and I can cut the pattern pieces and sew in strips to lengthen a pattern or fold//sew shortening tucks to modify a pattern. These modifications become a permanent sewn-in element of my finished pattern which I then make the garment from.

Minor Modifications

These Japanese patterns are drafted for someone only slightly taller than me. As mentioned on previous posts, I am proportionally long through the torso and jumpsuits make pattern modifications a necessity as no-one wants to wear – or see – a jumpsuit wedgie!

Book size chart

Book size chart

I added 1 1/2 inches to the crotch depth, this was intentionally longer than needed as I wanted a casual, very loose jumpsuit to wear during summer. I added 1 inch to the bodice – however found this made the waist too low and I removed it, I might even shorten the bodice if I was to make it again. I should have added some length to the legs as well – I turned the hems up with bias binding as the unfinished length was close to perfect.

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit – front view. Note to self: stand up straight!

I added belt loops and a self-fabric belt. I prefer to wear this looped through the belt keepers and then tied at the back, rather than wrapping it around the front. It created a bit of shape without being pulled in against my waist. Very loose and easy to wear.

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit. Proof that I happily share my beach photos with everyone! I have no shame. Windy afternoon as well – less an ideal for photos but such is life.

I would probably insert an invisible zip in the side seams if I was to make it again. It’s a little wriggle to pull it up and over my hips (note to self, not too many yummy Christmas indulgences this year) – a zipper would help.

I do need to wear a singlet or tshirt under it – however I like the overall/jumpsuit mix, one of the things that attracted me to it.

This is made from tencel denim from ‘the stash’ purchased from a bargain table for the grand sum of $5 a metre… or maybe it was $4 a metre. I also squeezed another Tessuti Sadie Slip dress out of this, similar to this dress I blogged over a year ago – which I love!

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Agreed. This jumpsuit is a slight crazy garment. I wore it all day today – the best way to assess a garment’s suitability to your lifestyle is to put it ‘through its paces’. It passed the lifestyle test with flying colours. I love it. It’s a bit oddball but quite unique – and exceptionally comfortable. I am also confident I will not be bumping into any other denim-clad Gumby wannabes in the downtown Port Macquarie. So it’s a win-win for me.

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit

Japanese Denim Jumpsuit. I don’t wear it with the belt tied at the front. Too wrinkly, too obvious. I prefer the belt to just pull it in a little at the back. Mad crazy hair – completely natural!

See it in action? Visit Instagram!

Photographed terribly in the late afternoon sunset last weekend, too much glare and the tencel looks shiny. The Instagram images (or Boomerangs) are much more true to the actual garment and you can see me wiggling in an action shot… life is too short to be too serious… and let’s be honest, I don’t pretend to be a high fashion model!

This isn’t going to be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ – however it’s mine. I appreciate some will hate it. If we all sewed, liked and wore the same style… well… that wouldn’t be terribly interesting would it?

The thought of wearing a pinstripe onesie to work is still very appealing…

Pattern: No.5 from untranslated Japanese pattern book which loosely translates as “7 Basic dresses” – this jumpsuit also includes as a jumper dress option. ISBN 978-4-579-11570-9
Fabric: Tencel polka dot denim, Spotlight Australia