These two dresses have been favourites however they did need some rework. Unpicking is not a favourite task of any sewer but I needed to restyle these dresses because I still love the fabric but the fit was really really bad.


This black and white number did have sleeves and a mock from belt.  The problem was the size because overwhelming. The fabric is a heavy raw silk and it’s lined with cotton fabric. I had worn it to work for two summers and our summer is here and I still consider it a staple. I’ve pinned the original sleeves and mock belt to the dress so you can see the style. Without the sleeves and belt, it looks more streamlined.

Bulky before
Less bulk

This blue print sun-dress was also a favourite with it’s long hem so I could wear flat sandals with it. Again it’s too heavy looking ie too long and too wide. I keep forgetting I’m short. But I love the shirt style and fabric print. My parents come from a cherry growing area so any cherry print is special to me.

I unpicked the skirt from the top but I left the front pleats and front button tab attached to the blouse. The front still had three pleats at the front, which I’m reconsidering. Do I leave them in or take them out? I’ve also cut 5″ off the hem so that it’s about knee length. So these are still dresses, just better balanced for my frame.

Work alterations

Last week I took out my summer clothes and they all needed altering. Isn’t that always the way. So this was the perfect weekend to decide on whether I should invest my time on altering or giving my clothes to charity. What I had to decide was: Is this style still suitable for work? Does this style still work on me? Is this one of my colours? I originally made this dress in December 2009.

This dress needed the sleeves to be brought closer onto my shoulder by 2.5cm. I also brought in the side seams by 2cm on each side. The great thing was this dress isn’t lined and the seams are overlocked. I had already taken off the trim that I had originally put on this dress two years ago. Overall, I invested about 2 hours on this alteration.

Colours – PR Sydney weekend

This weekend was PR’s anniversary and there were a few celebrations around the states. As you know we had a Sydney PR weekend in October with fabric shopping and a bunch of great workshops.

In one of the workshops, I wore a neat burgundy cuff watch that I bought in the states in March. I found a STAMPS watch seller in Australia. We also played with a style app on my phone – ‘Clinton Kelly’s Style Rx’ app. It’s not a comprehensive style file, but it’s a just reminder when you can’t decide on a style.

Our style and colour person Wendy did my colours – Deep warm. Now I keep this picture on my phone so that if I don’t take these colours shopping with me, they’re still on my phone.

Dark blue buttons

Thank you for the comments. The dark blue buttons won, so 9 button holes and 9 buttons sewn on later, the shirtmaker dress is finished. Even though this has taken a while (three months) in between study, rugby and family commitments, I will make this again. I never thought rugby would ever impact my sewing.

 Here’s a list of what I did to this toile.

– normal seams and turned over edges, like I was first taught at school,
– lining front and back using a combination of chiffon and poplin. I ran out of the chiffon because this was a last minute decision to go from toile to wearable toile
– blue and white ribbon tape with white border on collar stay and sleeve hem
– 9 x 13mm shank buttons. I did buy a spare button.
– hand stitched front tab, inside collar and buttons.

– roll shoulder adjustment
– sway back adjustment
– dropped bust point by 3cm (age/gravity)
The back bodice looks messy because this fabric is as stiff as tissue paper. When I make this dress again, I’ll use fabric with some drape to it. Then I will also taper the hem so that it sits closer to my body.

UFO – Shirtmaker dress

This is a classic shirt style (McCalls 5433) that I thought would be worthwhile making. It has tab front and enough detailing to wrestle with a few finishing options to make the same dress look a bit different. You would remember this dress from Sharon’s blog. And I made the shirt version in December last year.

The toile fabric is from Rathdowne (Melbourne fabric shopping visit in 2009). It’s a chambray blue colour and light weight but stiff and very sheer. The fabric irons really well and the weave makes it unravel easily. So with that in mind, halfway through testing out this style I decided this version could be wearable, so I’ve lined it with a 3/4 chiffon and 1/4 poplin. I didn’t have enough chiffon in my stash, so I’ve made do with some poplin.

The original toile was going to have long sleeves with a cuff, but because the fabric is lightweight, I’ve decided on a short sleeve with cuff. I saw a someone on the street wear the same dress and it had short sleeve with cuff, so that helped me make up my mind.

As you can see, the sleeve has the same ribbon detail as the inside collar stand. The lining is the same dark blue colour  as the ribbon detail, so I think it might be worthwhile getting dark blue coloured buttons. What do you think?
With the left over fabric, I’ll make a belt.
I don’t love the sleeves at the moment so at some point I’ll have to either take them out or change the length of the sleeves. I can add another horizontal pleat if need be.

By the way, yesterday we visited Sydney’s first fabricabrac to see what fabric was on offer from other like-minded sewers who were selling from their stashes. The venue was probably large enough but it was packed with curious sewers. They also had a coffee bar so I think the organisers should have had a successful event.

Cardi – winter is over

While trying to make a shirtmaker dress work, I’ve finished a new cardi. Why? Because the dress toile is taking up a lot of thinking time and I needed a quick win to boost my confidence. Back to the cardi.

I’ve made this before and I know how the collar sits. The facing always seems too wide and I have now decided to take out a tuck out of the neckline to overcome it falling out all the time. The last time I made up this cardi, I used a contrasting facing and took advantage of it gaping.

At the PR weekend I learnt that I could wear brown (Deep warm), and I had a couple of pieces in my stash but I wasn’t quiet sure if I should invest the time to make up these pieces. So I now know I can do some bold and muted colours and this dark chocolate brown is one of my colour options so this is what I’ve come up with.

The ruffle pieces are 2inch strips cut on grain but roll hemmed on the overlocker with red thread. I didn’t have brown thread so I used a bold red, because I do have red pieces that I can co-ordinate this cardi with.

I’ve also used two black snaps to close the cardi if I need to. This is my last warm garment that I’ll be making for the next 5 months. The humidity has started in Sydney but I’m thrilled to be in the warmth again.

Back from travel

My sewing fingers are now ready to begin again.
You saw the top below in September while I was trying finish off my study. The study is finished. In the mean time we’ve been to New Zealand 3 times. Yep. Two visits were all about rugby and last weekend it was a family birthday to celebrate DMIL’s 70th in the sleepy seaside town of Raglan.

The basic top pattern I used for this was Kwik Sew 1997 and I’ve insert an invisible zip because I wanted the zip feature. It’s not a feature on the pattern.
So I took this top with me to NZ on the weekend. While we had 32C weather in Sydney, I was still wearing thermal layers in NZ. I know you can’t take photos while in Customs, but I think taking pics at this area with tikkis is allowed.

I’m not into Rugby but here are some pics I took at the matches.

These were some Argentina supporters – the “party pumas”.
The real Argentina fans were loud, fun and kept singing throughout the match.

We got to see the All Black perform the Haka twice.
These supporters looked like something from ‘Where’s Wally”…

Here’s a beach at Raglan. They have good coffee.
And I did get to buy fabric when we were in New Zealand.