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Dressmaking

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I know this is a very simple dress, but I am pretty happy right now! I feel more ‘me’ when I’m wearing this dress!

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To me that’s what makes a successful ‘make’– When you feel like you are really showing your personality/personal style in the garment and it fits your lifestyle.

Let me tell you something about my lifestyle:I live in a small apartment in Sydney Australia, I am at home a lot, and right now it is HOT. I love the heat, always have, but it really does feel like I’m living in a greenhouse, so a loose fitting cotton shift dress is just what I need!

I went shorter than I ordinarily would…because the dress is such a loose shape I felt like the short length made it more flattering/youthful.

Material notes:

The pattern is New Look 6225. It’s actually a top pattern, but I always planned to lengthen it into a dress (because I love love love raglan sleeves).

The fabric is a mysterious cotton bought years ago at Spotlight. There was a whole roll of it for sale (over 6 meters) for something crazy cheap like $9 for the roll. I bought that whole roll. That was an awesome day!

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Things I love about this dress:

  • This is the perfect dress for hot weather. It’s loose fiting and the fabric is light and breathable
  • The bold ‘geometric print cotton fabric I used. I have made a dress from this fabric before, but I feel like this shift dress works much better with the print!

Things I love about this pattern:

  • It’s a good pattern to showcase a bold print (because it’s such a simple style)
  • Raglan sleeves. More flattering on my wide shoulders AND much easier to sew than the dreaded set-in sleeves
  • No zipper/notions or buttons required! This dress slips over my head. Gotta love that!
  • Quick and easy too make.
  • Wide round neckline. Round necklines are a favourite of mine and suit me better, not really sure why

If you try this pattern do be aware that it has a LOT of ease. I recommend going down a size and/or sewing the seam allowances bigger (in my case 5/6mm further in)

Fitting/sewing notes:

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Normally I would be apprehensive about using a ‘new look’ pattern, because the fit of ‘new look’ patterns is often very poor, but because it was intended to be a loose fitting garment I went ahead and tried it.

New Look patterns are is the king of too much ‘ease’. This is why I made a size 8 and sewed the seams allowances at 2cms, rather than the usual 1.5cms (in effect removing 5mm from the seam allowances from all the pieces).

I made view B (with the lower neckline)

I added 9cms to hem of top, in order to make it into a shift/mini-dress

I used the sleeve pieces B,C and shortened the sleeves by around 5cms

I made my own bias binding…

I used a 85cm long bias strip for the neckline. I made it much wider than the pattern suggested (so it was easier to work with).

I didn’t use bias binding on the sleeves, I just turned and stitched them like a regular hem. Truth be told I am not a massive fan of using bias binding. I love the way it looks, but it feels sloppily done when I do it. Perhaps I just need practice!

I can’t remember why I did it, but I added a seam to the center back, rather than cutting it on the fold. It may have just been a more economical use of fabric in this case (it would probably look better cut on the fold).

Seam treatment: I just overlocked them, but this kind of dress that would have been a good candidate for french seams. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to changing the colour of my overlocking thread… I overlocked the garment with white overlocking thread. Yes I am THAT lazy! Sorry.Once I am more professional perhaps I will make the insides of my garment nicer!

I am already planning more dresses using this pattern. I love the idea of doing one where the sleeves are in a contrasting fabric. Fun!

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I finally finished the dress I made using simplicity 1609. I have wanted a dress made from this sewing pattern and I was never going to be able to resist a 1960s reproduction pattern!

I’m going to say upfront that I am not so happy with the fit of this dress, but that’s OK because I did not attempt to alter the fit at all (this is how the pattern fit out of the envelope). These days I don’t seem to bother modifying the fit of a new pattern, I just make it in some less than special fabric, to see what the fit of the pattern is like. Is it worth fussing with the fit and making another? I’m not too sure. Perhaps it’s OK that its looser at the waist.

I kind of like not worrying about fit so much, because I have a lifetime supply of fabric and patterns to try anyway. When I worked at a fabric shop I would always buy up big when fabric was twice reduced in price, so I often managed to score fabric that was $5 a meter or less.

I love the 60s silhouette. The bagginess at the waist of my version is not so great (could have taken it in at the curved darts). Admiring other versions of this dress (made by other sewing bloggers) I noticed that often they made the dress either very fitted or a much looser shape. Perhaps I should trying increasing the seam allowances or removing the center front seam on my next version!

I was happy when I thought of using this fabric to create a chevron effect, because I love that kind of thing, and the fabric was pretty boring on its own.

The back of the dress is a puckering horrendous mess, but for the sake of being honest I am showing it to you. Perhaps the tension was off (on my machine), or perhaps it has to do with the fit. All I know is I just wanted this dress finished. I am a grown woman and I rush and swear at my sewing projects, it’s rather silly!

Done is better than perfect my friends!

After sewing so many dresses with lining I realized how much I hate sewing facings. Anyone got any tips about sewing facings, that don’t involve hand sewing?

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I have been meaning to post this for a long time!

I think this is my favorite thing that I have ever made. I totally fell for this printed fabric and rather than allowing it to hide in my fabric stash for the rest of my life I actually used it!

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And I took photos with some with the flash on, to see if I could get a more accurate color representation of the dress (but failed to get a good represenation)…

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I really included the last one because I was so happy with the fact that my hair was behaving for once. Haha. The fit is better than it looks I promise. I was just wearing the wrong *ahem* undergarments.

The blue in the fabric is very different IRL, but eh I tried.

This year I am going to use all my good fabric (rather than saving it for the non existent “perfect project”). I love the print of the fabric its sort of delicious in a late 60s kind of way!

The fabric reminds me me of this print ad from the 60s (that I had on a pintrest board)…

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I wore this dress to a 90th birthday party and got some lovely compliments, which I love because mature ladies are often the most stylish 🙂

I deliberately used a tried-and-true pattern (Simplicity 2417) that way I could skip the fitting woes for this project! I have already used this pattern countless times, but it is so easy and this pattern uses so little fabric, that I can’t stop! A sewing project that involves minor fitting and alterations is such a joy to sew.

The fabric is a light weight cotton drill that I bought at spotlight it was about $8 per meter on sale. That is far more than I usually pay, but I had to have it because the print was really calling my name.

When cutting out the skirt portion, I did consider the print, but I should have experimented more with positioning of the the print in relation to  the pleats in the skirt, I sort of had to re-arrange it a bit ‘after-the fact’.

This dress is so easy to wear because I underlined the skirt portion with a light batiste. The reason I did this was because the drill creases easily…I figured that by underlining it, it would give it some weight and stability and stop it creasing as much. I was right!

The underling also makes the dress sit better and feel more substantial to wear. I must do this with future projects.

I took an additional 6 mm out of the top of the side seams of the bodice and shortened the straps.

I had a lot of construction notes and I really wish I wrote them in a book. I completed this garment a long time ago, so any hiccups are a distant memory.

I vaguely remember fussing with the skirt underling, because I changed the positioning of the pleats slightly to fit the print, but that’s all I remember.

I lined the bodice rather than underling it. Not sure if that makes a difference. Perhaps later I will post pictures of the insides of the dress.

This year I will use actual fabric to make wearable muslins and then only fashion fabric that I LOVE when I have perfected the fit of a garment! The work is the same and life is short!

I can’t wait to make more things in bold prints and bright colours!

I love orange, cute animals and reading so this dress is probably perfect for me…

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The dress is made from a lightweight cotton I bought at The Remnant Warehouse. It’s a lot like a tana lawn, it’s lightweight and breathable. There is a trade-off as the fabric is a little delicate. The pattern is my own design (I have made countless dresses with this pattern).

I had this dress lying around half-finished for god knows how long (I’m sure you know the story). The bodice is lined and there is an invisible zip in the side seam. I took it in 6mm on the zipper side before I installed the zipper.

As you can see I didn’t match my print very well on the front of the bodice, but I am not really fussed , but next time I will be more careful (at least on the front).

I didn’t line the skirt, because I always wear denim shorts underneath sun-dresses and skirts.

I do wish the straps were a little shorter and the waist is pretty roomy.

I must like the dress because I have worn it 3 times already. I would say it suits my personality well.

The more serious people of the world probably wonder why a grown up lady walks around in a penguin dress, but thats OK. I never want to grow up or be too serious…

BTW: Does my dress may remind you of this?:

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Above:  The movie is as good as the book. How often does that happen? My copy of this is in storage since I switched to kindle. The penguins on the dress are obviously not the same as the logo, but my boyfriend calls it the book dress.

Also…

Just in case you are wondering my favorite books of all time are: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley! You must read them. 🙂

Another dress (I should have called this blog ‘another dress’ hehe). I  wanted a bright dress that would go with many different necklaces.


Fact: A pout is not such a good look on me haha

I just came back from a trip out with my mum in which we had lunch and went fabric shopping. The Remnant Warehouse has a buy-one-roll-and get-one free sale on its off-cut fabric rolls and lets just say money was spent and awesome fabric chaos ensued. Most of the fabric I got was as low as $3 per meter, SCORE!

I used Butterick 5032 again (my first Butterick 5032 dress is here), but this time rather than adding the fitted skirt it came with added a gathered dirndl skirt instead.

There comes a time in every sewists life where they are relieved to have completed a flawless invisible zipper installation.

The zip is perfectly encased/between the lining and the fashion fabric and you are ready for to try it on…then the zip gets stuck.

You gently tug a few times until the tugging becomes not-so-gentle and  of the more the anxious variety then BAM the zip goes off it’s tracks, the more you panic the worse it gets till there is a tear in the zipper so it’s back to square one.

The sheer frustration/annoyance! You look up towards sky with your arms up and if there was a camera above you it would be panning out as you scream NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Time to kill another 40+ minutes and put a new zip in just when you thought you were done.

Ah well…live and learn.

I have a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with the zip itself.

I know what you are thinking ‘a bad tradesman blames his tools’ but this was a brand I don’t normally use and it was pre-packaged (blah so pointless and wasteful) and when you take the zip out of the stupid plastic packaging there were bends/kinks in it.

Of course I was sort of lazy and blasé about the original zipper and thought ‘ironing an invisible zips is for suckers’ well lets just say I was very happy that I ironed the second zip that was also deformed due to unnecessary packaging, because it was hard to zip up and down fresh out of the plastic too!

I am not entirely happy with the fit of this dress for a number of reasons. Especially the back.

Originally I was going to remove 2cms gaping fabric the front neckline from this pattern by putting the excess fabric in the dart which I did a tutorial for here, but I ended up going with 7mm on each side but  now I wish I removed more.

The back is crazy. I thought I could use the same technique I mentioned aboce for removing gaping at the the back, which turned out to be completely ridiculous because the gave me excess fabric in the middle of my back. Why did I think that would work? Happily I don’t have breasts on my back, but that would be the only way that alteration would have worked. I ended up having to lengthen the back darts.

It I ever make this dress again I will change the darts to pannel lines (in the back of the dress) and remove 2cms from each side of the newly created panel lines.

Also its probably wise to remove the same amount from the front and back of the necklines.

You learn so much through error with this fitting business!

I really like the idea of having lots of articles of clothing in strong bright solid colours (no patterns) so I can have fun with my ever expanding collection of accessories.

I usually go above the knee on dresses and skirts put I sort of liked the more demure length. Even the boyfriend said he liked the longer skirt he mentioned that it worked because of my shorter hair. I guess I can always shorten it, but at the moment I like it.

It’s good to get an opinion from a partner. Once I made this very high-waisted skirt with a very big repeating pattern, when I tried it on I thought something was awry and he told me very tactfully that it was not a good look, yay for nice yet honest style advice!

As for the dart positioning on the front of the bodice and the fact that the bust darts are so big due to the pattern alteration…I don’t even want to think about it right now…

I wish I could move past the fit because there is a lot I like about this dress. I just have to tell myself that if I bought it RTW I would not be as fussy and that a little bit of excess fabric is not the end of the world.

Edit: I just wanted to say that the lovely comments I received on this post completely made my day!

I was telling my boyfriend ‘I love how supportive everyone is of each other’ and his words were ‘supportive? on the Internet?’ He was surprised. Yes believe it or not it does happen! Perhaps it’s just this great sewing community.

I follow a lot of sewing blogs but I don’t always comment. Sometimes out of shyness or just because there are so many people making cute things, but from now on I will really make an effort too, because I know how happy it makes me when people I admire comment on the things I make.


I used Simplicity 2588. This is my first time using this pattern. I wanted to try it because I liked the little raglan sleeves.

I lined the bodice but for some reason did not line the sleeves. It was pretty silly of me.

The dress is already in the wash for the first time. I just came back from lunch and I already spilled very hot ramen soup on it (Yum! …but I am such a grub). So it will be interesting to see how it fares in the wash.

Here is a dirty sewing confession: I don’t pre-wash my fabric. I know, I know I am playing with fire! Interesting to see if will come out unscathed.

There is an invisible zip in the center back of the dress. I am pretty proud of just how invisible it is!

The fabric is predominately cotton with a fine weave. It has a slight stretch to it (spandex perhaps), which is perfect for a form fitting dress!

When cutting out in this fabric I was pretty deliberate. I used parts of the print where it looked scattered and there was some white space. I wanted to break up the flowers a little so it wasn’t completely covered in flowers. I don’t know how well it works.

Perhaps it may have been better to just cut out the printed fabric economically and let the sewing gods decide the fate of the print…but then you could end up with two flowers smack bang in the middle of two awkward places.

Part of me really likes this dress, but part of me thinks it’s too fussy. These days I feel myself leaning towards a more mod look (especially with the shorter hair). I want to introduce more solid colour dresses to my wardrobe and use prints that more clean and geometric.

Anyway we shall see.

Fitting notes: I have had a lot of success with project runway patterns fit-wize. They seem to be well drafted for busty ladies that aren’t super hippy. I find that most patterns these days seem to best fit the pear shaped ladies, so if you are more hour glass give the project runway patterns a try.

There was minor gaping around the neckline (but I know this is the case with most patterns for me).

I had remove excess fabric at the back of the skirt due to my lack of a bum by moving the center back seam in (sorry for the over-sharing). Unfortunately this made the side seams move closer towards the back.

I wish I knew how remove excess from the back of a fitted skirt without distorting the side seams! Does anyone know how to do this?

I took a little out just below the bust to give a more fitted shape. I love princess panel seams because they are so easy to adjust! I made a few other minor alterations, but I can’t remember every one.

I shortened the waist my 1.5cm so it hits slightly above the waist.

Because the dress had a fussy floral, I felt as if I had to go shorter on the hem than I ordinarily would, to avoid the dress looking too matronly.

I’m just so happy to be sewing again!

Simplicity 2444 the love affair continues (third dress made using this pattern). I am super happy with this dress, however the pictures of me in it were not so great… I may add some better ones later.

I realize this is not everyones style but I love this crazy fabric. I salvaged the bodice fabric from a strappy summer dress that was not flattering on me. Had to save the fabric because the print was insane in the best possible way.

The black material I used for the skirt is a nice crisp poplin. Not long ago Lincraft had 50% off all fabrics so I bought around 7 meters of the stuff. You can never have enough black fabric. I always buy these kind of things in bulk!

It occurred to me that I don’t usually show the insides of my garments so heres a peek. Once again the bodice and sleeves are fully lined in a thin black cotton (all by machine, no hand stitching involved) Hooray!

That’s another thing I bulk buy: cotton linings and black and white (lawn, batise etc). Always good to have a supply of this stuff and cotton is so much more breathable and way nicer to sew than all those slippery linings (not that they don’t have there place).

I know it’s not pretty: I removed some excess fabric from the neckline so there is absolutely no gaping. Above are alterations I made to the pattern in order to achieve this.
What a lucky fluke, I didn’t think it would work. This was the main reason why I had to make simplicity 2444 again. I had to test my alterations. Here is my tutorial on how to remove gaping. It’s easy to go overboard and remove to much, you don’t want it to restrict your movement.

Sorry another unattractive picture(s). But here are my sewing notes in picture form. I don’t know how many times I have to make this mistake…

I was even going to do a tutorial but alas I made the same mistake I did last time.

Must remember: Do NOT attach sleeve lining to sleeves with right sides of the bodice facing out. Must attach the sleeve to sleeve lining with wrong sides of bodice/lining visible (right sides of sleeve seam allowance together).