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.
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.
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
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.
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
If 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I 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.
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.Iron 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.Fold 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.Pin 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.
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.
Sew 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.Press 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.
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):
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.
Attach the lower waistband edge to the upper skirt edge for both front and back. Stitch at 1cm SA.
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. On 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….)
Finish the inside of the dress by pressing the lower waist seam allowance up 1 cm and slip stitching it to the upper skirt.Make 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.
I added 2 buttons to match on the LHS.
Turn the hem up and stitch.
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
Someone in G-Town had the inspirational idea to introduce street art to liven up some of the darker alleyways and spaces that detracted from what can only be described as a decrepit central area. This beautiful graffiti has been on my location list for some time and on a whim yesterday I hauled the family away from the couch to capture these images.
Without too much hyperbole, this was the dress that almost didn’t make it. The fabric was so, so shifty. In a state of sleeplessness I thought that sewing a dress at 4am would be a good way to pass some time, but that came at the expense of the centre front seams being sewn to the side seams. And the unpicking! I haven’t made such a mistake for some time but just before it was dramatically thrown in the naughty corner, I tried it on, saw the potential and loved it.
So perseverance saw 2 hours of unpicking, removal of pockets, and then another two hours of sewing to get everything as much into place as was possible. My darts and side seams are a mm or two out but the ribbon hides my sins. With this fabric I doubt I would ever have a got a perfect match so I’m accepting the minor faults to focus on the bigger picture which is my love (now, not earlier….) of this dress.
The sleeves are dramatic, the neckline plunging and the fabric now swishes like silk and sits beautifully (it is actually a rayon that behaves like silk satin cut on the bias….). The motif used to secure the neckline was found at Lily Pond. I was looking for a piece of vintage lace to insert however this caught my eye and matched perfectly with the fabric. The ribbon also manages to sit with out moving. I did make the threaded loops to hold the belt in place but they popped as soon as I put the dress on. I don’t think I will redo them as the velvet held its place rather well.
So the dress that nearly wasn’t, is. She will be coming overseas with me and I hope to sip wine while the sun sets, reading a book and soaking up the beauty of another country.
Another version is planned, however it’s likely to be something more like linen or tana lawn which will be a breeze to sew.
Have you made up this pattern, and if yes what fabric did you use? There are so many beautiful versions on IG and I love seeing how daring people are with that neck line!
- Photo’s by Bruce in Geelong City Central
- Fabric purchased from The Drapery
- Pattern size M in with no adjustments made Vogue 9253
- Vintage habedashery including motif and velvet ribbon purchased from Lily Pond
- Tights purchased from Wolford
- Shoes purchased from Scarlett Jones
- Cuff bracelet purchased from JeanJean Vintage
- Hair by Rebecca at Neel Loves Curls
- Purse and handbag by Coach
The Assembly Line – Cuff Top and Apron Dress
This has to be the most joyful sew I’ve had in some time. The Cuff Top and Apron Dress from are patterns created by The Assembly Line which is based in Sweden. Their range of patterns clean and simple with well thought out design lines that really elevate each piece.
I stumble across the company when Sal from @sewingunlimited posted a pic on IG with her Cuff Top and I fell in love. I purchased without looking at the currency conversion as I knew I that I would take a hit with postage and am so glad I did. Obviously to make the most of it 2 items were needed (always being savy with my spending : ) )and I’ve always loved the appeal of an apron dress.
In making, the Cuff Top is noted as easy beginner and I would agree with that. I added some shaping at the waist (from my much loved Sewaholic Granville shirt).The top stitching is most satisfying, especially when you have the edge stitching foot for your machine. It also involves the clever use of elastic to get that wonderful cuff shape which involved a little bit of wrestling with the machine as mine was not very stretchy elastic. There were moments though when it was woman vs machine and the needle was at breaking point. Woman triumph in the end #thefutureisfemale.
The fabric I used for the top was purchased from The Drapery has a reasonable amount of structure which allows those cuffs to shine. And that colour! It really struck me when reviewing the photos how it acts as a chameleon and blends in with the green surroundings. One of the aspects that drew me to these patterns were the solid darker colour palates of the samples in mostly black, green and navy. Quite the step away from my usual floral confections.
The Apron Dress was noted as beginner and I’d say probably advanced beginner although the instructions were excellent, particularly as they would have been translated into English. I’m a very visual person, so I found the diagrams along with the notes really supportive and it came together beautifully. I made mine in Lithuanian linen, again purchased from The Drapery, and I was a little worried there may have been too much drape but I think it is well suited to the pattern.
The detail is wonderful, both the design lines on the side seams, those pockets which seem to go on for days, and the clever pleat at the back that really gives the waist good definition. There is also lots of top stitching which is subtle but ever so satisfying.
The only adjustment I made to the dress was too increase the size of the pleat at the back by moving the the buttons and button holes to pull it in at the waist a little more as that is my preference, harking back to the old fit and flare days.
My only sewing note with the dress would be to finish the front end of the straps before turning through to the right side as I didn’t see on the instructions how to finish them once they are sewn down to the front bodice. I ended up turning them up/inside 1 cm and then stitching down, but it could have been neater.
This just may become my winter uniform. I was going to place it aside for my trip to Europe, but as that is only a couple of months away (so excited/nervous) I think I’ll pop it in rotation now. The top will lend itself to layering as well so should keep me toasty warm in the frost that is now making itself known in the mornings. I have to mention as well that the comfort factor is high whilst maintaining a whimsical feeling stylishness. A huge achievement for me.
For sizing, each pattern comes in single size only and is only available in print. Based on my measurements I went with the M which was a European 40-42. The dress was a little on the large size but as it was so well designed I was able to easily adjust the button placement. I would say that their sizing is more on the generous size if you are in doubt.
For those that are local in Australia, Leslie announced that Fibresmith will be stocking the The Assembly Line patterns shortly and I know that Drapers Daughter in England also has a full compliment. Otherwise you can purchase the patterns directly from their website, The Assembly Line.
I can’t recommend these patterns enough. Next up on my list is the Tulip Dress and the Three Pleat skirt. I’ve also seen on their website that they sell fabric specifically matched for their patterns as well. If post wasn’t so prohibitive I would likely go down that path. Maybe I might do that when in Berlin…
Sometimes it pays to be adventurous, try new things, and be overwhelmingly surprised at how well it all comes together. Happy Sewing Days.
- Photo’s by Bruce at the Barwon River
- Fabric purchased from The Drapery
- Patterns purchased from The Assembly Line
- Shoes purchased from Duck Feet
- Tights purchased from Wolford
- Hair adornments purchased from Gardens of Whimsy
- Necklace purchased from The Habadashery
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all patterns and fabric and all opinions are my own and not paid. I’m just happy to share the sewing love I found.
Sew Melbourne Garden Party 2018
The second annual Sew Melbourne garden party was held recently at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens on a day that complimented the frocks and frivolities. The sun shone, the weather was quite temperate and the music most fitting.
For the first time in what feels like forever, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to create to wear. In fact, the idea (thank you Pinterest, unable to acknowledge photo further due to lack of links) had been sitting with me for some time. I even had the perfect linen purchased from The Drapery in my stash. My first thought was do I embroider or screen print. Screen printing clearly won as the event date crept closer and I was yet to cut the fabric. Given that it took two years from Pinning the dress and 2 weeks to design and construct I think we call all see why this is a hobby and not a commercial enterprise.
I’m not known for my arty skills but when I’m inspired by an image I can usually come up with an interpretation that sits well with me. The dress pattern was the Kim dress bodice by ByHandLondon and their Flora skirt. The screen print patterns were ones I had already created for previous projects, including a fern leave, orchid and a wonderful branch of leaves of a neighbouring tree. I just needed to replicate the red flowers which were essentially well placed skewed elliptical shapes. I was happy with the colours I mixed, but never ask me to replicate them. Except the bronze. The bronze came out of the jar as is. I can replicate the bronze.
I took the extra step of tracing the stencils and colouring them in as I was bored one morning and couldn’t find anything to entertain me that didn’t involve house work. Plus I was waiting for someone to fix my beast of an oven who was having conniptions (all sorted now without having to add a 900mm stainless steel cooking monster to landfill. Phew!). This made pattern placement and perspective incredibly easy and a method I will definitely employ again.
So very happy with the way the dress came together, and although going up a size in the bodice there really wasn’t too much room for cake to be had. (what genetic freak of nature grows bewbs at 42???) Speaking of which though, you must peruse this Gin and Tonic cake recipe that was shared on the day. So. Much. Delicious.
The afternoon was lovely. Being with one’s tribe is all sorts of wonderful. In addition to the sewing tribe there was a subsection of curly girl seamstresses as well. #splintergroupscanbeawesome.
I didn’t get too many photo’s on the day that had me looking other than a turtle trying to get its neck back into its shell so we took some more pic’s at the Geelong Botanical Gardens over Easter.
- Photo credit: Bruce and Sew Melbourne.
- Linen fabric from The Drapery.
- Dress pattern, Kim dress bodice and Flora dress skirt ByHandLondon.
- Sterling silver button necklace by Kirsty.
- Screen print design by myself.
- Shoes by American Duchess.
- Flower crown by Gardens of Whimsy.
- Parasol by Marimekko.