Gift wrapped

Style Patterns from 1980s are marked up well as I found with this wrap dress. This pattern came from a friend’s Mum’s stash who was downsizing her home at the time. I count this as one of my 2016 Vintage Pattern Pledge projects.

The seam allowances are marked on each pattern piece – no need to check the instructions before you start. Having the seams marked also made it easy for me to check the waist and hip measurements without having to ‘minus’ the seam allowances built into the pattern pieces. There was enough ease at the hips, so I stuck to cutting the pattern as is size 12.

The notches are individually numbered #luxury. Excuse my sewing geekiness but notches are really handy guides that keep me from making a bunch of errors.

The fabric is bubbled so it’s probably not great quality but worked for this pattern.

I tend to buy firm fabrics so I had to dive into the stash and came up with this poly cotton dark plaid that was flowy enough for this style. Thankfully I checked the repeat on the pattern and it is balanced. This helped me match the pattern at the shoulder seam.

My back up overlocker was in the shop at the time so I used the white thread overlocker because this project is a palate cleanser. Once my back up overlocker came home, I was able to finish the skirt hem, sleeve hems and skirt pleat hem in black thread.

Ah. There are gathers at the shoulder line so no need to assess the dart lengths because there are no darts on this pattern #win.

Oh. The facing is cleverly designed as they attach to the skirt front fold and sits flat. Really flat. Three snap closures are all I needed and this little dress was done.

So all in all, the 80s had some great classic dresses like this one. 
This style works well in our current Game of Thrones Summer.
My 2016 Vintage Pattern pledge has started.

Equestrian aspiration

For my Minerva projects I decided on an equestrian theme so the riding pants were a must with last month’s riding jacket. Then reality set in and a ‘quirky work skirt’ came to mind.

I’ve made pants before but for a riding outfit, sleek pants are a must so I’ve used a double knit that has no stretch and McCalls 6404.

Equestrian riding pants

While the pants pattern is drafted for fabric with 4% stretch, it made sense to trial the pattern in a similar double knit fabric. After some tweaks, I used the partial medium hip measure and a variation of small sizing along the legs.

Riding outfit inspiration

McCalls 6404 offers 4 legging styles and I used view D.

So after trialling this pattern in another double knit, I was able to make this pair fit quite nicely.

I can walk, sit and bend in these pants, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if the fabric was a medium-weight woven fabric. This double knit is perfect for my equestrian idea.

Now to find ‘that horse’ to go with this outfit.

Quirky work skirt

Blackwatch tartan is the same fabric used for my senior school uniform jacket so I had to make a Winter skirt with a twist, or a couple of Vivienne Westwood inspired pleats.
Vivienne Westwood Anglomania skirt
I was tempted to kilt this fabric up but maths isn’t my strong point so I didn’t want to waste this gorgeous tartan.

So my decisions then became: one pleat for two? And do I include one pleat along the back?

I decided to place two pleats at the front and keep the back plain. So I used McCalls 9356 as my basic skirt pattern and matched up the plaids at centre back and along the flat side seam.

I placed the front pattern where I wanted the pleats to be placed.

Then I lined up the back skirt piece to the flat side seam to match the plaids.

I had to match the lines along the centre back zipper seam.

So my decision was to figure out how to keep the front pleats in place…hand stitching.

 I hand stitched the pleat folds to the underside of the fabric.

They’ve stayed in place. 
The waistband plaids match the centre front skirt lines only.

The back and side seam lines match. You’ll notice the hem is lower at centre back. That’s my standard back hemline.

And I wanted to show you the zipper and waistband matching. I hand sewed the waistband for accuracy. The lining is light-weight but strong wearing and easy to iron.

So here’s the quirky skirt with its jacket – all safely ironed too.

There was really no need to put a pleat on the back of this skirt.

I’ve worn this skirt to work a few times and it’s really lovely to wear.

Thank you Minerva Crafts UK for these fabrics and notions. I’ve got a new Winter work outfit that’s already been worn quite a bit this month.

And lots of joy and happiness to Vicki and Richard on your upcoming wedding. If you love seeing wedding sewing as it happens, Annette has been blogging all of her wedding sewing for Vicki on the Minerva Craft blog page. I’m in awe of Annette’s work.
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Plaid fad

You can guess why I like plaid fabrics and as it’s cold I’ve made this little red number.

Here’s how I styled this new plaid skirt for work. The plaid is a dark red and it has taupe and green in it. I used my basic skirt pattern McCalls 9356 for the shaping.

This is a post construction pic to show the centre waistband lines matching across the centre back zipper and across the side seams.
This shows the other side seam match across the width and along the inverted pleat.
My guess is this fabric is poly and I bought 3 metres of it on ebay two years ago. The weave is fairly loose so I’ve reinforced the pleats at the top. I’ve matched the green stripe on the inside of these pleats. 
Because the front inverted pleats let me walk, I didn’t bother with a pleat at the back. I’ve fully lined this skirt so it doesn’t pill on the inside.

Now I’m tossing up to use the rest of this fabric on a Vivienne Westwood plaid jacket. It’s just an idea for now but it will certainly need a lot of thought and the jacket would need a bit of shaping at the waist.

#outlander fangirl pic

I still can’t believe I got a pic taken with Graham McTavish (he plays Dougal McKenzie in Outlander) today. 
– Tall guy. 
– Lovely bloke. 
– Happy to retake the pic. 
– Kiwi resident
– I’m still smiling.

The ‘black watch’ tartan underneath the pic is a new Winter skirt. More about that soon.
I decided to wear my Gathering inspired dress.For now, it’s a cold, rainy Sunday and I’m still grinning from ear to ear.

Supernova had lots of Superstar guests, even 3 of the Brady kids (Peter, Bobby and Cindy).

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The Gathering dress

The Gathering was the elaborate party in Series 1 episode 4 and I’ve used plaid and embroidered fabrics for my next Minerva project.
This photo and more are on Terry Dresbach’s website

Using my basic block pattern, I tested the bodice to have a shaped centre piece for the embroidered fabric. Initially I was thinking this would be an overlay but I decided to swing out the darts and create my own princess seam-like bodice for this dress.
I did test the bodice pieces using poplin from my stash. I’m glad I did. 

When I ordered the fabrics from Minerva Crafts UK, I thought this dress would need lacing detailing. I didn’t use the ribbon detail this time, but will use the ribbon on the remnant pieces because there’s plenty left for a skirt and blouse.
The original dress uses gold braid-like trim on the panel edges. I’ve used the embroidered fabric as the centre panel piece on the dress. I felt that was all the embellishment my height could handle.

The plaid fabric has a lovely feel to it and can be manipulated as you sew. This fabric is soft so I used interfacing across the front bodice, across the back bodice and along the back zipper to give more structure and longer term durability to this dress.

When I initially sewn the bodice together and lined it, the neckline was a bit low for me. So I unpicked the shoulders and took off the sleeves before I raised the neckline and resewed in the sleeves.


The sleeves are ¾ length with three side pleats at the elbow and lots of loveliness added. I’ve used interfacing on the sleeve from the elbow to the sleeve hem so the folds stay crisp.


The plaid lines run across the body. This took a lot of planning at fabric cutting stage. The plaids on this fabric are very even – that was a huge help in lining it up properly. I took my time when I cut out this dress.

If the plaids weren’t even, I would have needed more fabric to achieve the same balance.


The costume is floor length so I’ve made this skirt sit just above the knee for everyday wear.

I ‘passed’ on the gathered/pleated skirt and went with an a-line skirt. I swung out the waist darts on my skirt block pattern to create this skirt.

The skirt sits out nicely because I’ve hemmed it with the lining fabric instead of adding a gathered underskirt. The pockets are sewn in the side seams.

Side pockets

Speaking of side pockets – I used a strip of interfacing on the skirt so the side pockets don’t bag out. The top of the pocket bag is also sewn into the waistline seam for long term durability.

Other considerations

I wanted to include inverted pleats on the skirt but I couldn’t figure out where to include them without interrupting the plaid on this dress. #tricky.
Does this dress work for everyday wear?
I think it does. (November 2017 – I wear this to work a lot).

The weather here is still hot and humid so when I took these photos around Sydney Olympic Park, it was 8am in the morning. The heat of the day was just starting to sizzle.

This dress is a fairly conservative look so I know I can pair this with a simple navy jacket. No one would realise this dress was influenced by a TV series based on books that have been around for over 20 years and have huge, global fan base.

Thanks again Minerva Crafts UK for these fabrics and notions. It makes this Outlander fan grin from ear to ear.

McCalls 6657 tech notes

Just for something different – a coat McCalls 6657 View C.

We’re still feeling the cold this winter and I’ll reveal this little gem on Thursday. If you’re on Instagram you would have spotted the progress photo.

This pattern is rated easy and is not lined, however my fabric is wool so I wanted to line it. Hence this tech note post.

This coat has a facing so I’ve laid the facing onto the front pattern piece and draft the remaining lining piece with 1cm overlap for seam allowance. 

I did the same to develop the centre back lining and kept the centre back seam for some lining wiggle room.

Pocket change

Pockets are the same shape for most patterns. I find they are too deep so here’s how I shorted the pocket without affecting the pocket opening and still keep the general shape too. This isn’t a huge change, it means I can reach into the base of the pocket without overreaching #petite.

Plaid matching
Then comes the plaid matching exercise as the back piece has a centre back seam. I eliminated it and cut the fabric on the fold. Then I had to line up the plaid pieces to the front.

This fabric is from Minerva Crafts UK. I cut the front and back pieces as doubles because the plaids line up evenly.

Inside niceness
This is a coat so I made sure to add some coat trims. What you can see below is the back neck facing trim I’ve been using on this coat to double as a coat hook. Neat trick.

The lining has a centre back fold. And the trim was added on each facing piece after I sewed the lining pieces.

See you on Thursday.

Weekend version

This is the final lined trousers for winter. This is a weekend version and I bought this fabric from Pitt Trading to play with plaid. Luckily this fabric is over painted (distressed) so these trousers are more for weekend wear.

I love the Jalie scarf collar top.
The fabric is extremely stiff so I’ve cut more out of the centre back seam and made the belt loops 2.5 cm longer than the pervious belt loops. Here are the work versions.

Here’s a close up shot of the fabric. It’s a plaid/houndstooth woven with over painting to look distressed.