Bow Harness Accessory

After the success of my Elysia Bow dress by Roberts Wood I wanted to add on the Bow Harness Accessory as an extra feature. I’ve been reluctant to show off my curves in recent years having gone from a size 10 to a size 16 due to menopause but am keen to try and explore that a little more this year. The Bow Harness is the perfect place to start.

I measured a size 2 based on my rib cage measurement of 87cm. The sizing was perfect.

I used 1 meter of Liberty with some scraps left over.

I used 50cm of elastic for the straps and the recommended lengths for the circumference.

Again the instructions were clear and well thought out and easy to follow.

I interfaced the connecter pieces as the Liberty was a little flimsy and needed some stability.

I love that this gives the dress a bit of an extra look with the bows whilst giving some definition around the waist.

I have to say I’m really proud of this outfit as it is definitely one of a kind not to be seen in any store and it is really well constructed and doesn’t have that homemade feel about it. The harness gives it a little bit of avant garde feel.

I love that I can sew my own clothes that not only look good but look like they could come out of a designer store. As a size 16 I’m very restricted in what I can buy from RTW that is good quality. The only places I really look these days are Scarlett Jones, Metta Melbourne and Lily Pond that all cater to a size 16.

Having the skills to sew my own clothes is very empowering and allows me to express myself artistically through fashion on my own terms. So sewing isn’t just for pleasure, it’s a necessity.

And having discovered the Roberts Wood collection (which goes up to a size 28) has given me designer wardrobe options that are not available to me through places like Net-A-Porter where a large is considered a size 12. I’ve got money and I’m willing to spend it. Designers are just not interested in larger bodies.

I’ll get off my soap box now and get to cutting the Bow Skirt by Roberts Wood which is next on my list.



Dress: Elysia Bow Dress by Roberts Wood

Harness Accessory: Harness By Roberts Wood

Fabric: Mitsi from Strawberry Thief

Shoes: By Scarlett Jones

Tights: By Wolford


Elysia Bow Dress: Part 2

I was so in love with my first Elysia Bow Dress but it was a little bit on the short side so I decided to go ahead with the expansion pack and make the longer version. Verdict: I love it more than the first. It covers my knees and has extra swish which I am in love with. The hem line in 14.45 meters long! Sure, it took me 13 hours to sew by hand, but listening to my favourite podcast Bang On and Chat 10 Looks 3 definitely helped pass the time.

It was just as an enjoyable sew the second time around and I definitely felt more comfortable with my seams. I loved having the stronger contrasting colours and that made it a little bit easier to sew.

This time I still went with Liberty but chose Mitsi in two contrasting colours from The Strawberry Thief.

The swish of this skirt is undeniable. There is so much fabric in this dress. For fabric 1 I used 6 meters and fabric 2 and 3, 4 meters. So that is a whole lot of Liberty in that skirt. I used a bit more that was recommended as my fabric was 136cm wide (fabric recommended was 140cm wide) and I also bought an extra 50cm of fabric 2 and 3 to make the bias binding. But honestly, I love Liberty, so I’m not complaining.

I’d like to have a go at making this in silk organza with a slip underneath maybe for frocktails. But for now I think my sewing machine needs a little rest from all the Bow dress mayhem. There is a Bow skirt and a Flower Patchwork top that I’m interested in having a go at. Let’s face it the Roberts Wood patterns are AMAZING!. They are on the expensive side of the for PDF’s. Mine came in at $51 when they had a 15% off promo but I think the cost is definitely worth it given the expertise in the drafting and the work put into the instructions. It usually retails for 34 pounds. The only problem is they don’t come in multi sizes, you have to pick the one size and hope for the best. The way the pattern is drafted you couldn’t go multi size anyway.

For now, I think both Bow dresses will be in high rotation in my wardrobe. I think the harness will be a good choice to highlight my curves. A little more Liberty never hurt anyone.



Pattern: Elysia Bow Dress by Roberts Wood

Fabric: Mitsi tana lawn from the Strawberry Thief

Makeup: By Mecca

Shoes: From Scarlett Jones

Tights: By Wolford

Button Necklace: By Kirsty Sharp

Elysia Bow Dress: Part 1

I was captivated when I saw the Elysia Bow dress by Robert Woods from Katiemakesadress on Instagram and knew I had to made one up in Liberty. I choose two different shades of blue in Wiltshire and only used two fabrics instead of the recommended three as I had a vision of what I wanted. As it turns out the effect is subtle but I kind of like that. My next version would have more contrast.

Now this dress is not for the faint of heart. The short version has 108 pieces and a 8.5 mt hem whilst the extension has 148 pieces and an amazing 14.45 mt hem all by which I did by hand. I find it very meditative. Pop on a good pod cast (several years of Bang On) and I’m good to go for 10 hours or so.

I chose to sew the 14/16 based on my bust measurements. The pattern gives you the finished measurements for the garment and I went for the size that gave me about 10 cm of positive ease. I did have a bit of a freak out moment when sewing the front bodice and it looked tiny and I thought there was no way it was going to fit me and that all the sewing was going to be a waste of time but I trusted the measurements and I’m glad I did because it came up perfectly. Next I want to try the harness to pull it in a little and give it a bit more shaping.

The dress itself isn’t complex but requires precision cutting and sewing. I won’t say that all my seam lines match up perfectly, there are a few that are a couple of mm out, but it’s hard to obtain perfection when there are so many pattern pieces to line up over four seams. I tried basting the seam but found that just using a pin and sewing over it was just as effective.

For the dress I broke the cutting out of the pattern and the fabric and sewing down over a number of days as there is much work involved and overall it took me 7 days from start to finish.

I was in no rush to make this project so I took my time. Just for interests sake I thought I would keep a track of my time spent on the varying aspects.

Day one: 1 hour cutting out the pattern, 3 hours cutting out the fabric

Day two: 3 hours sewing front bodice and yoke

Day three 5.5 hours sewing back bodice, bias for neck, left sleeve sewn and attached to bodice

Day four: 5.5 hours right sleeve sewn and attached to bodice, sleeve bindings, first skirt tier (about an hour unpicking after sewing one of the pieces upside down!)

Day five: 6 hours tiers 2 and three attached to tier 1, tier 4 stitched together. Lots of unpicking on the 4th tier.

Day six: 2 hours 15 min sewing stitched on bottom tier of hem, attached skirt to bodice, button holes and buttons. 1 hour 15 min to pin hem 3 hours and 15 min to hand stitch hem.

Day 7: 3 hours 45 minutes to finish hand stitching hem.

So overall the sewing time was 22 hours 15 minutes to sew the dress and 8 hours to hem it. Not an insignificant amount of time. It was such an enjoyable sew though! The pattern was beautifully drafted and went together perfectly. It was like putting together a simple jigsaw puzzle that required attention but not so much that you couldn’t listen to a pod cast to keep yourself company. The instructions were really clear and when I had a question about the bias binding Roberts Wood got back to me really quickly.

My only comment is that this dress comes up quite short on this 6 foot tall lass so I need to wear a layer underneath to maintain modesty. I’m really glad they put out the extension pack that lengthens the dress by a decent amount and takes the dress to knee length for me. The volume of the skirt is not insignificant and makes for wonderful twirling of which I am a big fan.

I would say that although you could likely sew it faster than I did, having ME/CFS I pushed myself too hard when sewing this and had to spend several days on the couch resting to gain back my strength before cutting into my next one. I just found myself lost in the moment sewing the rows of patchwork. It was almost addictive seeing the rows come together. Such an enjoyable sew.

So much so that I immediately cut out my second Bow dress again in Liberty using the extension pack and love this one even more. See the next blog post for more details. I’d highly recommend this dress if you are looking for something a little different and that will hold your attention whilst you sew.



Pattern: Elysia Bow Dress by Roberts Wood

Fabric: Wiltshire tana lawn from the Strawberry Thief

Makeup: By Mecca

Shoes: From Scarlett Jones

Tights: By Wolford

Button Necklace: By Kirsty Sharp

Flora in France

Fulfilling my dreams of France at Lilypond. Wearing an altered Flora Dress by ByHandLondon as inspired by Elisalex. The bodice has the bust and the back darts sewn with the front waist dart left free and is lined in pale blue silk. Then two tiers of gathered skirts are attached. This was sewn in beautiful vintage cotton fabric from France sourced by Lilypond and will be a staple over summer.


Photo’s by Bruce. Location: Lilypond Warehouse in Newtown Geelong. Flora dress pattern by ByHandLondon. Fabric sourced by Lilypond. Top by Wolford. Tights by Woldford. Shoes by Chloe. Memorial Bracelets by JeanJean Vintage.

Ingvlid Coat

I found it really challenging this year to find a good coat pattern for this winter. I’ve grown out of my last Vogue pattern (thanks post menopausal squish, yet again). I can do up the buttons if I’m wearing just a tshirt underneath but anything else looks as though I’m straining the buttons which is not a good look. It’s been a great coat with a lovely full skirt attached but it’s always bugged me that the sleeves were too short (even when I had added 3 cm to the pattern) and the split at the cuff left me feeling that my elbows were exposed to the elements.#tallgirlproblems

So I’ve been on the look out for a good pattern that I could size up in but still be fairly femme as I do like a good skirt and top combination. I accidentally stumbled across the Melilot pattern company on Instagram and knew that it was the one. The lines of the bodice, the skirt, the asymmetrical buttons, and those darts completely sold me. It overlaps at the front, is fully lined and reversible and has the cute option of leaving the bodice half open to expose the underlying fabric to show a lovely contrast.

I’ve been known to be wary of European patterns in the past as instructions were often lost in translation and pattern pieces didn’t make sense but I can happily report that this was not the case for the Ingvlid. The only head scratching moments were what size to choose. They didn’t provide measurements, but English/American/French sizing. I toiled it with the 16/44 because that was my latest make in English and European but that ended up being way to big so I sized down to the 14/42  toile which I though was ok. But when I finished it the final coat I think I could have gone down one more size  as I moved the buttons across much further than the line drawing to cinch in the waist a bit more. That was moment number two. No markings for buttons that was easy to guess were they should sit. Head scratch number 3 was having to add 1cm seam allowance. I’m lucky I read that in the instructions as I don’t usually read ahead when I’m making something which is a terrible habit but for some reason on this occasion I did and was most grateful. I did do it in a rather lazy manner however by eyeballing 1cm as I cut around the drafted lines.

I chose my fabric from The Drapery in this divine Francis Japanese Wool Blend, so far away from being Melbourne black. And for the reverse I chose the Le Nani forest green and silver on off white as I thought it would be nice to have a bold contrast. Given that it is reversible and the Nani Iro is a cotton sateen I decided against using a silk to line the sleeves and that hasn’t been a problem.

I made the usual adjustment of lengthening the bodice by 2.5cm and not to be beaten by having short sleeves again I lengthened the arms by 5cm. Which turned out to be slightly ridiculous as they went past my finger tips but felt good not to have the opposite problem. Againg #tallgirlproblems I ended up shortening them by 3 cm and they are still too long and I love that. It means I can roll up the cuffs for contrast and still have the cuff sit at a reasonable length over my wrist.

The coat came together really well. The instructions were brief but very clear and I had no issue with notches lining up, seam lines or seam matching even through my 1cm seam allowance was pretty rough. It has instructions for inseam pockets which I added to the wool side and are the perfect size. I also added a snap to the overlap on the right hand side to secure the fabric when the buttons are undone showing the inner fabric to keep everything in place.

I’m so happy with this coat. I’d like to make another lighter version for spring. I wore my Camber Set Top by Merchant and Mills and Three Pleat Skirt by The Assembly Line underneath and was nice and cosy.

The only thing to note is that as it doesn’t have a collar the neck can experience a little chill so I’m off to the wool shop to find a nice green wool to knit a scarf to keep myself toasty warm.

This is a great indie pattern and I highly recommend giving it a try.












Photos by Bruce. Location, Geelong Art Gallery. Coat pattern Ingvild by Melilot, Fabric for coat by The Drapery, Camber Set Top by Merchant and Mills with fabric from Lily Pond. Three Pleat Skirt by The Assembly Line with fabric from The Drapery. Shoes by Chloe.

Raggady Ann

I’ve never really been drawn to gingham or checks but recently I find myself seeking out fabrics that are more geometrical than floral in flavour as I subtly shift my wardrobe style. I’ve seen a number of red checked dresses recently and knew I had to have one. What I didn’t know was how much I needed a pair of pantaloons to wear underneath. I remember getting to wear them once at Sovereign Hill as part of a school set up in the style of the 1800’s and knew that I loved them then. Why then had I not thought to make them again until now?

For the pantaloons I used the Emerson Pants by True Bias. I measured between a 14 at the waist and a 16 at the hips and after some advice from IG I cut a straight 16 and put the elastic in for the 14. I probably could have shortened the elastic a little more but am delighted to discover that without any modifications there is no report of camel toe. The linen came from Potter and Co and the anglaise trim was a gift from my god mother. Overall the pantaloons came together really well and whilst it’s unlikely I’ll wear them with any top that sits above my derrière, they will be great for tunics and dresses.

The dress was inspired by one I saw in England and I had originally cut out the Ellis dress by Merchant and Mills with linen purchased from Potter and Co. I had it in the back of my mind that there were rumours on the internet that the sleeves were a little on the tight arm lunch box lady size but I thought my arms to be not overly sized so I would be ok. I was wrong. So terribly wrong. I got stuck (this seems to be a familiar theme at the moment) with my arms half in, my head through the opening and the bodice stuck just above my bewbs. With a rotator cuff injury and being at home along it was a rough event getting out. I got rather cross and threw the bodice in the bin, found I had just enough fabric left over to cut the Hattie bodice and used a short cap sleeve and bias tape from the French Dart Dress by Maven Patterns and pieced it all together which worked out fine. Had I not been so cross, I would have compared the bodices to see if there was any difference in size (there was not) and taken the original sleeve off and added the cap sleeve to the Ellis bodice. I’ll do this next time when I make it in a black check. I finished off the neckline with some white linen bias tape that ties at the back making it user friendly to get on and off.

So I am really happy with the overall look. Bruce says I look like Raggedy Ann. When we went for a walk he said he hadn’t seen that many people stare at me before. I had many people come up to me and tell me I looked wonderful. Surely they couldn’t all be lying. Maybe a 40ish year old dressed up as a 4 year old is a good thing. One of my closest friends also confirmed the Raggedy Ann theme but in the best possible way.

That’s one of the best things about sewing. Getting to express yourself in ways you may not otherwise be able to. Curtsey.












Photo’s by Bruce. Location, Geelong Library. Fabric from Potter and Co. Pantaloons Emerson Pants by True Bias. Hattie Dress by Merchant and Mills. Cap sleeves from French Dart Dress by Maven Patterns. Mols shoes by Duck Feet

Salida Skirt by True Bias

Salida Skirt

Things have been rather heavy of late. Heavy heart, heavy mind, heavy body. Everything feels as though it’s a chore, but I’m hoping life is on the improve. I’ve missed the sewing community, although I’ve been sifting around the background peering from afar. And I’ve missed sewing, but for the past few months it has been out of my reach as I’ve sat in survival mode.

Salida Skirt

I started the Salida Skirt by True Bias at least 2 months ago and only finished it last week by bribing myself with the opportunity to acquire more fabric if only I stitched on the waist band and completed the hem. I’m slowly working on a new wardrobe, sizing up as I try to settle into my post menopausal body. I haven’t found the freedom or delight that some women find with this change, just frustration and disappointment. At the moment I’ve stopped actively fighting it, and am just sitting with it. I feel there is still a lack of acceptance around it for myself and I’m struggling with finding a new wardrobe that flatters and is comfortable. My old style no longer seems to work and I’m searching for new patterns that fit and look good. I’ve even resorted to buying some RTW of late as a gap stop. But there’s my white female privilege poking her little head out.

Importantly, I’ve finished the skirt which I adore and may well be the 70’s corduroy skirt of my dreams. I’ve made up the Salida skirt, view B, in a floral needlecord corduroy from the Fabric Godmother. It has a little stretch so whilst I made up the skirt in my size according to measurements, I took the side seams in 1cm each side to get a more snug fit. I also moved the skirt hook over a little further than instructed to pull the waistband in tighter to accommodate my waist to hip ratio.

The instructions were wonderful, no head scratching moments. And a video guides you through the fly zipper with ease. The details are also very thoughtful including front and back yokes, topstitching and fly which gives a professional finish.

I definitely plan to make another, perhaps in this amazing leaf green from Tessuti. These will be a staple in my work wardrobe as the feeling is cosy and warm with a little flare.


Photos by Bruce. Salida Skirt pattern from True Bias. Fabric from The Fabric Godmother. Equipment Shirt purchased off Ebay. Tights by Wolford. Hair piece by Gardens of Whimsy. Shoes from Scarlett Jones.

Tulip Dress – The Assembly Line

tulip3If you follow me on IG (here) you would have noticed that I recently went on a little holiday to Europe. 15 years in the making and it exceeded all expectations! 5 weeks of feasting, fashion and frivolity.Tulip7

I was lucky enough to stay with one of my dearest friends in Berlin, travel to Paris for 4 days, head over to England for 5 days to hang out with one of my best sewing buddies and then back to soak up Berlin for another two weeks.Tulip8

Whilst I got up to some spending at Liberty of London, my choices for fabric purchasing in Berlin and Paris were rather restricted (and thus subsequently restrained).Tulip4

How lucky am I then to be able to recreate a little bit of Paris with this dress in my home town of Geelong? The fabulous Lilypond is a firm favourite in this small town of mine, specialising in all things French including vintage haberdashery, special homewares and the odd religious icon.Tulip2

On one of her more recent trips to France, Mrs Kim bought back this delicious vintage rayon which I suspect was made in the 1950’s. I’ve missed sewing with vintage fabrics so was quite taken with the print and hand of this fabric. tulip9

The modern aesthetic of the Assembly Line Tulip Dress pattern has been calling me with its clean lines for structured fabrics. But I’ve discovered it also lends itself to a more drapey fabric with a vintage feel. tulipdress_sketch

The bust darts coming down from the neck line sit really well, with the bodice being a looser fit than I usually wear. I sewed a size M noting that the dress would have some ease, and ended up taking out about two inches from the centre back seam to get a slightly closer fit. The skirt is a beautiful tulip shape which lends itself to both structured and drapey fabrics, I think. I lined the bodice in silk satin and hand picked the zip so it feels like a dream to wear. Tulip10

In keeping with the French theme, Bruce captured these images at Lilypond this afternoon amongst the festive decorations and homewares. I think it’s made me look forward to Christmas this year. Tulip11



Photo cred: Bruce. Location: Lilypond. Vintage fabric from Lilypond. Tulip Dress pattern from The Assembly Line. Flower crown from Net-a-Porter. Boots from American Duchess. Tights by Wolford.

Ute – lost in translation

ute8I made my first Ute dress by Schnittchen Patterns  some time ago (circa 2016) and was asked by several people for a how to. The pattern is drafted beautifully however the instructions are a little lost in translation. I’ve written up a sketchy step-by-step tutorial for those of the English speaking persuasion with some pictures of a toile I made last week.

Be sure to read through first as the photo’s don’t exactly match the text. It was a bit of test and learn along the way.

And for more of the original pictures see here.ute15

First, prep your pattern pieces and cut your fabric. I went with a straight 40 without any adjustments and cut straight into the PDF. For reference I’m an Australian 12 – 14 but was more of a 12 when the above pictures were taken. If working directly from the PDF I highly recommend highlighting the markings for your darts and pleats. I used Merchant and Mills linen for in OxBlood for my first Ute. The toile is made up in a combination of linen (cut terribly off grain to my eternal shame) and cotton.Small Ute toile 1Iron on fusible interfacing onto one set of the shoulder straps (front and back), and one of the front and back waistband in a light to medium interfacing.

Transfer all markings for the pleats/darts and their direction onto your fabric. I used a frixon pen which comes off using heat to show the pleat marks, direction and length. Make sure you test on a scrap first because it disappears of some fabrics better than others. On a side note the frixon pen marks can also come back should you choose to put your fabric in the freezer or be exposed to cold weather.Small Ute toile 2Fold the top edge of the front bodice over 1cm and press. Fold it over a second time at 1cm and press again. Top stitch just shy  (close to the fold line) of the 1cm to catch the fabric. Repeat for the back bodice piece.

Pin the front outer shoulder straps (those that are interfaced) to the front bodice piece, right sides facing. Make sure you leave 1cm at the top as shown as this will be caught later when enclosing the facing. Sew at 1cm seam allowance and press the seam allowance into the shoulder strap, leaving left side open at zip mark.Small Ute toile 5Small Ute toile 6Pin the back outer shoulder straps (those that are interfaced) to the back bodice piece, right sides facing. Make sure you leave 1cm SA at the top as this will be caught later when enclosing the facing. Sew at 1cm seam allowance and press the seam allowance into the shoulder strap.Small Ute toile 7Small Ute toile 8

Sew the a front shoulder strap to the back shoulder strap on both shoulders so that the front and back bodice pieces form one piece.

Small Ute toile 9Sew the (seperate) inner front shoulder strap to the back shoulder strap and press open shoulder seam.

Pin the inner facing to the outside seam of the front bodice/shoulder straps/back bodice and stitch at 1cm SA. Trim back 2/3 and under-stitch.Small Ute toile 10Small Ute toile 12Press a 1cm SA for the inside front bodice/shoulder strap/back bodice and pin. Slip stitch the inner seam from front bodice, across the shoulder seam and down the back bodice. I’ve forgotten to leave the side seam open on the LHS for the zip here, so just imagine. You can see where I’ve unpicked in a later pic. Small Ute toile 13

You should now have a lovely bodice piece that looks something like this (with some SA on the LHS for the zip on the front bodice piece):Small Ute toile 14Small Ute toile 15

Mark the pleats and directions on both the front and back skirt pieces. Stitch down the length indicated on each knife pleat, and then make box pleat using fabric available at the centre front and centre back. You should end up with 6 knife pleats on either side of the box pleat (front and back). Press and baste pleats into place. Overlock side seams of skirt.Small Ute toile 16Small Ute toile 17Small Ute toile 18

Attach the lower waistband edge to the upper skirt edge for both front and back. Stitch at 1cm SA.Small Ute toile 19

Sandwich the lower edge front bodice between the upper waistband (attached to the skirt) and inner upper waistband. Stitch at 1cm, leaving 1cm at edge. This will be caught when sewing the side seam. Complete the same for back bodice.

Stitch the RHS of the dress from the hem line up to the top edge of the waistband. Hand stitch inner side seam of waistband. Fold over and hand stitch down back bodice side as pinned. Note that I had to unpick 1cm SA to allow me to fold the fabric down neatly. Small Ute toile 21On LHS of dress, stitch from the hem line up to the zipper marker. I inserted the zipper by hand using the tutorial from Sewaholic. I found this the easiest way to get the side seams to match. Otherwise baste your zip in before setting it in permanently. (Note on the finished dress my zip is on the RHS….)Small Ute Toile 25

Finish the inside of the dress by pressing the lower waist seam allowance up 1 cm and slip stitching it to the upper skirt.Small Ute toile 22Make 2 button loops on RHS front bodice. I used the tutorial by Tessuti to create these. Stitch on two buttons in corresponding markings on back RHS bodice piece.Small Ute toile 26

I added 2 buttons to match on the LHS.Small Ute toile 24

Turn the hem up and stitch.Small Ute Toile 27Small Ute Toile 28

Small Ute toile 29

Find you most lovely lingerie to provide side bewb coverage and you are ready to discover the streets of Berlin.

I hope you find this somewhat useful. If you have any questions, pop over to my instagram feed @magdalenesmuse and send me a message.

Hopefully this will give some guidance into making the Ute dress. After making a toile again, I think I’m ready to make another linen Ute for summer.


Photos by Pips and Bruce

Pattern by Schnittchen Patterns

Fabric is Oxblood linen from Merchant and Mills