Xerea 1.0

This is a story about a simple dress, that’s simple to make and simple to wear – Xerea by Paulinealice patterns.

The pockets really make it.
Talk about busy days – so making Xerea with no zippers, buttons or closures was a lovely way to chill.

Pauline sent this pattern to me as a gift.

This isn’t a fitted style and this version is my test version using size 38. 
A-line dresses are a classic style and this has a 60s feel to it.
I did a roll shoulder adjustment and left the back as it. The dress length is as per the pattern.

The shoulder line is a bit short as these sleeves seem to ride to high on this version. It’s ok Pauline, I’ve adjusted this on my next dress.

I was very tempted to start overworking this dress to get a more definted waist but in the end I took in the the front seams in by 1cm for a better front fit.
This is my ‘not to be messed around’ look.

I’ve worn this version to work a couple of times now it’s really functional, comfortable and let’s me get on with the day while not feeling constrained. Love those pockets.

I bought this fabric recently from Pitt Trading to make a 60s costume and I still have plenty work with.

There’s a lined Xerea that I’ll show you next time.


The ‘thing’ with fantasy shows is the costume department use loads of texture techniques to create a mood for each character. 

Dragonscale embellishments are used in Game of Thrones to create Daenerys Targerean or Khaleesi’s regalness as she becomes a queen while being the mother of dragons. So that’s where I headed for my round 2 ‘make your own fabric’ challenge in PR sewing bee.

I was fearful of making something that would look ‘undercooked’, however online costumers are generous in sharing their costume techniques. 

This is the real deal from Michele Carragher’s website.

Smocking is something I’ve enjoyed dabbling in. North American smocking is used to create some of the embellishments for Khaleesi’s costumes and I saw one of her costumes up close at the Game of Thrones exhibit in Belfast last year. The same technique is used on her later costumes too.

The smocking template is fairly simple to mark up on fabric and there are lots of YouTube demos to learn from.

Setting up the stitching lines on the fashion fabric.

After creating a small sample in front of the telly, I realised this smocking gig is worthwhile doing.

Test smocking piece

The effect of the triangle stitches

The cotton under layer fabric was sewn as per the pattern with the darts sewn. Then the smocked piece was over laid on it. 

The bodice then was sewing with rows of machine honey comb stitching using three different colour threads.
Here’s how the bodice came out with additional fabric sewn onto the shoulder pieces. The bronze sequins are also provide more ‘scale’.
The final bodice with sequin scales and pieces of the bronze trouser fabric for effect.

The local fabric store had this royal blue fabric I needed for this piece and I had plenty of stray threads in my stash to machine sew lots of scales and quilting lines on each panel piece.

Skirt scale layering

This is where I was checking how the front skirt would work with embellishment.

The costume has quilt lines that look very military. But then another version has a honeycomb mesh fabric on it so I had to decide if it was work adding dragon scale mesh to the skirt.

The left is a lighter weight blue mesh. The right is a larger purple mesh fabric.

I ended up using the blue mesh fabric on the skirt over the quilting lines and fabric piecing.

The full outfit.
On the actual outfit, there’s a gorgeous open back to it. 
I went for the bra friendly version – small.

Vogue 8280
Vogue 8280 was my Khaleesi costume basis and initially cut the lining using a scale like Ikea fabric. 

I cut out the pieces from this fabric first.

This fashion fabric became the outside and lining for the costume.

This costume is quite heavy and fits firmly.

By texturing each piece of fabric, one at a time and checking the photos of the original work online, I felt a whole lot more confidence in creating the textures without feeling all this work would be wasted. I think I spent 12 hours on this project. 

The mother of dragons has done well to survive through to series 5, so why not make one simple Khaleesi outfit for myself. 

With trousers.
Just the dress.

The whole box and dice.
And that’s my fantasy piece for now…

Sutton blouse

I was given this pattern as a thank you for helping promote SIM Bundle #1.

Suttton paired with Simple Skinny Jeans #comfy

I didn’t buy it as I’ve been shying away from it because this isn’t my usual style or was in a rut. The key issue I wanted to resolve was its loose look with my height and curves. I don’t know if I’ve achieved a slender look with this blouse just yet, but I do like this top with the adjustments I’ve make so far.

The Sutton Blouse is a loose fitting V-neck top with kimono sleeves, a one piece yoke, and a back inverted pleat. The back is longer than the front and includes slits at both of the lower side seams.

What I like about it
I like how this blouse is easy to make and uses light-weight fabrics like silk (in the future for me). It’s very roomy so good when you’re  dealing with humid weather.
The inverted pleat on the centre back is quiet handy if you run around all day.

I’m not used to the high-low hem thing but I like how it covers my caboose.

I’m not a roomy clothes wearer however this style is one I’ll be wearing on weekends. I’ll leave the fitted  style tops for work instead.

I bought this cotton fabric with rose border through the Silhouette Patterns website a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to use the rose borders on something nice, like this blouse.

Making it work
I lowered the neckline more than the pattern and I can certainly lowered it a bit more in a future blouse.

Once I made this blouse and wore it, I took more room out of the centre front seam so it isn’t so billowy.

I kept the length at the back but lowered the front hem so that I can raise my arms and not flash my tummy.

Now I have a Sutton blouse pattern I can use on silk blend fabrics. Yay!

Shirt or blouse?

When is a blouse not a shirt? Uhm. I’m not too sure but I can say this shirt/blouse got me through PR’s Sewing Bee for Round 1.
Can you see the stress on my face? I avoid contests where possible.

This fabric from White Tree Fabrics UK, was originally earmarked for a wrap blouse, until Round 1 was announced. So I put the brakes on that project and grabbed McCalls 5433 and decided on making View A with all the sleeve bells and whistles of Views B/D.

I was really, really lucky MyHung Parramatta had matching buttons.
What was my challenge?
  •   Picking the style for this fabric
  •   Using the fabric to highlight its print
  •   Not this shirt look like a PJ shirt
  •   Making it fit me again
  •   Picking the seam finishes because this shirt is going to be inspected inside and out!

I’ve been working with Liberty prints lately so I cut out each body pieces separately and tried to match the print lines. They run diagonally.

Top Left clockwise: buttons on cuff; collar on shirt; two part collar; cutting front bodice

However there’s a button tab so I decided to cut this piece a wee bit longer to accommodate matching or not matching the print. My plan was to place the shirt buttons on the flowers of the print.

So technically, this is a shirt.  But I still can’t tell you when a blouse is not a shirt.
An inside view
The inside of the back.

The seams are French seams. I machine felled the sleeve seam allowances to the shirt.

The collar, collar band, button tabs, cuffs and sleeve band are interfaced.
This progress shot showed me I was on the right pattern placement track.

Fit adjustments

Roll shoulder on the shoulder seams and sleeve curve. I left the sleeve length long so I can roll it up to bracelet length when I need to.
This already had a centre back seam to accommodate my sway back.

To make sure I could size this up at the hips, I cut a 12 at the hips.

A back view shot for fit.

Long story short, once I finished this shirt and took the photos I wore the shirt the next day at work. Well I felt it was too loose at the front, I before work I sewed the front dart in by 1cm and it fit a whole lot better but there were no ripples.

So I tried to smile but ‘sheesh’, this is stressful.

The ladies at work love my shirt. The roll up sleeves were just what I needed to work at my desk and I did not dirty my sleeves. I hate cleaning cuffs on business shirts and I don’t intend on ruining this shirt simply because I love wearing it.

Sue and Yoshimi got through to Round 2 with over 40 others who burnt the candle at both ends to get through. There were 116 of us who were judged in Round 1.

SIM bundle #2

In case you haven’t seen the latest SIM bundle 2, here’s the sale of a new stack of Indie patterns on now. The sale of these patterns (mostly knit fabrics) runs from Tuesday 1 September 1 through Thursday 10 September 10 (this week).

20% of bundle proceeds will be donated to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict. You’re more than welcome to donate to Women for Women directly.

Sewing Indie Month (SIM) is on all this month showcasing indie sewing patterns where designers collaborate to bring you fun blog posts and informative tutorials. 

It’s accompanied by a sewalong contest with fantastic prizes. Since the patterns in the SIM Bundle 2 are mostly knits, this sale gives you time to make quick projects for the contest while supporting small women-owned businesses and raising money for charity.

This year the Sewing Indie Month HQ is Sew Independent, which Mari from Seamster Sewing Patterns took over from Donna, who decided to step back from the site. You can buy the bundle and keep up to date with the latest SIM news on SewIndependent.com 

Pay what you want for this bundle:
The more you pay, the more rewards you’ll receive. 
  • Pay $25 or more to get the VNA Top, 6101 Fit & Flare Skirt, Bess Top, Nettie Dress & Bodysuit, and Pinot Pants.
  • Pay $32 or more to get the Walkley Vest & Dress and Jasper Sweater & Dress.
  • Pay $38 or more to get the Nautilus Swimsuit, the NEW Kinga Skirt, and the NEW April 1962 Coat.
Two new patterns:
The Kinga Skirt by Kate & Rose and the April 1962 Coat by SomaPatterns are brand new patterns that are being released with the bundle. During the sale you can only buy them as part of the bundle. 

Take a closer looks at the Bundle 2 designers and their patterns:
Have a look at the creations from the SIM bundle #2 bloggers:
My two pre-tested projects

1. VNA by Fehr Trade
VNA top was released last year by Melissa of Fehr Trade. Below is the first test top.

I made this top as a casual top. At the time it was the middle of winter but I was able to identify the back armholes were too low for me, so I wedged out a piece for the next top.

At the time I wasn’t able to write up a review however I made a second test VNA and made a better fitting VNA using a panel print.

Both versions use locally bought knit prints.

I still have to make this VNA up using fabric I bought with Allison C in Hong Kong last year.

Anyway…on the weekend I decided to whip up another version for the gym in dark colours.

And came up with a Super hero photo – “Sewing is my super power”.

Able to sew up activewear at the drop of a hat.

And still have to use an unpicker on every garment!

Let’s put that comic character aside for now.

2. Nautilus swim suit
Below is my test version I made again in the Winter. Erin included me as a pattern tester so I chose to test for the one-piece swimsuit. 

This test version has been adjusted for my short frame and I’m in the process of shopping around for swimwear bust cup inserts.

I chose to add FOE so that you can see the style lines of this swimsuit. It’s the type of feature I that would have made me buy a store-bought swimsuit if I couldn’t sew my own swimwear.

Sometimes I take the short route and construct what I need without adding the ‘bells and whistles’ that would make me buy clothes because it’s faster to sew. What I keep relearning is I need to add these finishes so that my home-made clothes are as nice as store-bought clothes.

PS: I also made the Sutton blouse from the first SIM bundle.

Liberty and Olive

This month I’ve made two Olive tops from a Liberty print provided by Minerva Crafts. Olive is my favourite peplum with two different sleeves.

The print was my choice to pair with the work gear I’ve made using Minerva Crafts fabrics this year. It’s a strong print and an equally strong cotton fabric.’

I’ll say the obvious – Liberty fabric is lovely to sew, wear, wash and iron. It’s a real treat for me.

Olive is a work/party peplum from Lolita Patterns that I’ve tested and sewn before so I knew this would be the pattern for this print would work.

I originally made these tops about 6 weeks ago and in that time I’ve been doing weights – and it shows through the tightness in the back of these tops.

Oh well. It’s back to the drawing board and size up on the next Olive top I make.

Wardrobe collection choice
Working a full time job means I have to make work clothes that work together. The pieces I’ve been making with the support of Minerva Crafts has helped me develop some easy, tailored pieces that have refreshed my Winter work clothes.

These pieces have green in them and I’ve tried to bring in strong colours to look cohesive.

I wouldn’t have picked a ‘floral’ with a ‘plaid’ but I think this experiment has worked for me.

Olive has a pleated peplum that doesn’t seem too frivolous, so it’s my ‘go to work’ top.

The cap sleeve version is earmarked for weekend wear. I’ve taken the cap sleeve pattern from New Look 6808.
I’m wearing the cap sleeve version with my Minerva Crafts jeans, made last year.

I made this Liberty fabric go further by using a similar plain fabric for the facings.

The piping adds a bit of interest along the seams and neckline too. 

The dark green piping works well on the cap sleeve version.

The hem of the cap sleeve version is finished with the bias so it will show if I’m reaching for files from a tall shelf etc.

I’ve got some lovely pieces that have refreshed my Winter work clothes this year.

Unlike a button front shirt, the side zipper on this blouse means, the buttons won’t pop open. The side zipper is also easier for me to reach than a zipper on the centre back seam.

This pattern has 3/8″ seams so it’s an easy pattern to whip up on an overlocker.

So with all those good aspects, I’ll keep using this pattern and adjusting the size to suit my changing shape.

Simple Skinny Jeans

Yes it’s Spring and I’ve made jeans. Simple Skinny Jeans using Sew Liberated Patterns.

White Tree Fabrics provided me with this pattern to try. And I did give this pattern a good try. 

Firstly I tried this pattern out using a stretch woven that had some stretch. I hadn’t bought the ‘real fabric’ yet. I did buy it in Melbourne last month:)
All the reviews of this pattern mentioned how low the body of these jeans are, so I raised them by 10cm. I checked this measure to the skinny jeans I love wearing.
The rise ended up right on my waistline. I prefer jeans to sit below my waistline so I removed 2.5cm from the top of the jeans for the second pair.

I did make the 8 size but had to take the legs in a bit at the side seam.
I also took some width out around my knees.

From the back I still had some work to do getting the leg fit right and bit of caboose work. The main caboose work was to raise the back yoke and back pockets up.

You can see how this additional work paid off. This fabric also had a lot less stretch than my test fabric.
Can you see the knit fabric at the waist?

That’s why they’re so comfy. 

Is that a bad thing? Comfy jeans?

These front pockets I drafted into this pattern, are functional. You have to take into account they might stretch open if the pocket is too low or not secured with additional topstitching.

The test functional pockets on the first pair of jeans kept flipping open so I topstitched them down at near the waistband.

I used double thread on the seams so they wouldn’t pull under the stress of the pattern stretch.

There’s as much topstitching on these jeans as you would see on any jeans.

As I said at the start, I gave this pattern a very good try and they work for me now.

I wore these jeans while sewing on Sunday and I could cut out patterns on the floor and still breath easily.