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

Curtsey

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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.

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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

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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.

Curtsy

Photos by Pips and Bruce

Pattern by Schnittchen Patterns

Fabric is Oxblood linen from Merchant and Mills

Vogue 9253

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!

Curtsey.

 

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. dress 8

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. dress1

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. Dress 3

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.dress 2

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.dress 6

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. dress 9

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. dress 7

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. dress 10

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. cufftop_sketch

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.aprondress_sketch

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.

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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

IMG_0588The 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. IMG_0702

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.IMG_0427

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. IMG_0428

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.BA

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.IMG_0608

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. garden3

gp parasol

 

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Reflections and a Trapeze Dress by Merchant and Mills.

Is everyone feeling it’s been another rough year? I’d raise my hand to that question. I don’t like to complain about life as I’m aware that I am extremely lucky in that I have my dream family, I live in a wonderful country, I’m able to work part time with flexibility around my health and of course (importantly) I have the time and means to sew. A quick summation of the year however, (6 hospital admissions, a few months off work in and around hospital, a feeling of disconnection to the world far beyond my normal and a body that is discovering squish) demonstrates that it is been a little rough.

It’s ok though, because I’m coming out the other side. Health is more settled with potentially more good things to come, the family, the work and the sewing are still patiently by my side. I’m adjusting to being just a little more squishy and starting to enjoy planning and updating my wardrobe.

One of the biggest barriers to return to sewing has been the change in sizing and it’s not much fun to retrace your favourite patterns up a size when your old ones just, and I do mean just, fit. On some days. And then on other days. Not at all.

So I’ve taken a different approach and started using patterns that I haven’t made up before as it’s easier to trace off the new measurements on something that hasn’t previously been made. I had great success with the Datura blouse by Deer and Doe recently, having made two already. My next venture was to recreate a dress I saw in a window when last visiting Melbourne for Frocktails.

A quick snap on the phone and I had my reference point. Visiting one of my favourite cloth suppliers, The Drapery, I found they had the perfect shade of chambray (in Red Panda no less) and also the Merchant and Mills Trapeze dress in stock. With a little not so complicated wizardry I’ve managed to create a reasonable homage to the dress that was my inspiration. 

The only adjustments I made were to add some shaping at the waist, add little tabs to thread through the tie and piled on the ruffles by joining rectangles and gathering before attaching to the hemline. I also widened the neckline so I can slip the dress over my head and finished the openings with bias binding instead of facings. 

I did go to the effort of stitching lines across the bottom of the Red Panda ruffle however they really looked mediocre so I spent 3 hours unpicking 10 rows of stitching across 4 meters of fabric at a stitch length of 2.4. I can’t quite bring myself to calculate the actual number of stitches…

So, I’m very happy with my Trapeze dress. Next up will be one in a black chambray or linen with a similar hemline. I love the slight blousing effect that comes from the tie, especially given there are no bust darts to provide shaping. And I feel comfy in it. I can breath. And still twirl of course (whilst breaking ALL the rules). 

In other news I thought I’d provide a little summation of me this week, in Taking Stock:

Drinking: Melbourne Breakfast tea. Sharing with B1. Drinking tea with 10 year olds is the best!

Wearing: My new Datura blouse by Deer and Doe made with birthday fabric from Fibresmith.

Eating: Summer fruits. I think I will be roasting rhubarb and peaches next weekend. And then adding mascarpone.

Finished Reading: War and Peace! So thankful that I didn’t give up. Although I much preferred Anna Karenina. I also finished Sour Heart by Jenny Zheng which I loved.

Making: New clothes to accommodate the slightly squishier me.

Planning: My trip to Berlin next year. 13 years in the making and I think I’m finally ready to go in August/September 2018. So if you are keen for a catch up let me know! I’ll be over for about 4 weeks.

Grateful: For good health care. And specialists who get me. Continued. I’m booked in for treatment in January that should positively impact pain and fatigue. Since I was 12 I’ve only had one year (2008) where I wasn’t in significant pain or fatigued. Wish me luck.

Looking forward to: Planning my trip. Any recommendations for Germany and France gratefully accepted. And ways to budget my way over to England.

Loving: My three boys. And my gritty kitty, Panda Wine.

Watching: The Punisher. Very intense. Very violent. Also a good reflection on PTSD and how trauma affects.

Considering: Storing my special frocks that no longer fit so that I can still see them but not be tempted to try and squish myself into them.

Doing: Ballet in a Barre class. After two terms I can now complete a full 1 hour class without kickback fatigue.

Proud: That I walked the 6km Run Geelong a couple of weeks ago. Another first in that it was the first time I’d walked 6km without stopping in 5 years.

Listening to: Chonguri in New York.

Doing: Blogging for the first time in 6 months!

I hope that the world is being gentle with you and that pockets of kindness shower you when you least expect it. And that you have access to pockets if you want or need them. 

Curtsy

Pips.

Photos by Bruce. Location at Oakdene Winery. Fabric from The Drapery. Trapeze Dress pattern by Merchant and Mills from The Drapery. Shoes by Duckfeet. Cameo brooch a gift from Jean Jean Vintage that I modified into a necklace. Headband from Gardens of Whimsy. Taking Stock template curtesy of Pip Lincoln.

A post script of the dress without ties in the bathtub. I’m actually not altogether displeased with the frump factor. I do however recognise that my mirror is in need of a darn good clean. 

 

Sunday Best

Hello lovely friends!

It’s been another month of disquiet with an episode of insomnia, but now that has been resolved, I’m feeling much more at peace and a little  more at one with myself. Hence the writing of this post may be a little droll as I recover from sleep deprivation and over medication…. At least I’m napping for more than a few hours each evening. E1E5

So. Lets discuss this dress. E8

I recently went away for the Queens birthday long weekend with a gorgeous posse of women to sew, sing, eat and have whimsical conversations. Sadly the insomnia raged over this weekend away as well, but there is nothing like getting up at 4 am to watch the full moon, practice yoga and then witness the sunrise at 6.58 on a cold winters morning. This was my last make for the weekend and finished 30 minutes before it was time for the weekend to draw to a close. E16

I’ve been treasuring this Outback Wife barkcloth designed by Cathi from @gerturdemakes and purchased from The Drapery for some time. E7

Based on Cathi’s experience of beautiful sewing with true vintage barkcloth fabric (which I always envied) she created the design for her fabric range inspired through her lived experience in the outback and her passion as a seamstress. After first glance I knew it would be welcomed into my wardrobe.E15

There are several colour ways with some additional ones coming out in the next week or so. I have an inkling that this same fabric is coming out in a pink/mauve and will be available through The Drapery. I’ve 3 meters on hold for when it arrives and I’m thinking another Elisalex dress perhaps sans sleeves this time. The bark cloth has beautiful body and drape that lends itself for a perfect twirling dress.E9

If only I could go back to that bush dance in grade 5 and be allowed to be the girl dancer (height always being an issue I always had to be the boy….. sigh) I’d be the happiest 11 year old. Any suggestions for other dress patterns are most welcome.

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Because we all like to knit by the river…..

I used the Elisalex bodice and sleeve (the old one not the new) but after wearing it I felt as though the sleeves were pulling the fabric tighter across my chest so I may have to get in touch with the BHL women to have a copy of the updated PDF versions sent out.E4The skirt is from the Flora dress, also BHL, and is cut on the bias with an extra 20cm added to the length. I just managed to pattern tetris the whole dress out of the one 3 meter piece, with the added bonus of Liberty pockets.E2I also hemmed the significantly epic hemline with a blue/white polka dot bias binding that peaks and hides the inside hemline. I didn’t have the heart or concentration to do this by hand which I normally would. It provides a whimsical contrast to the floral design of the fabric.E10 Bruce took the photo’s down by the Barwon river which was swarming with early exercising people and bugs.There were some sideways glances as everyone passed us in their morning active wear with me in my Sunday best. I hope they appreciated the effort I took in my dress for my stroll! I did receive a rather darling look from a little girl and my boys said I looked swish.

design (4)Photos by Bruce at Barwon River. Fabric is Outback Wife designed by Cathi at Gertrude Made who can also be found on IG at @gerturdemade. Fabric purchased from The Drapery. Bodice pattern is from the Elisalex dress and skirt from the Flora dress from By Hand London. Head scarf is Liberty with a baby hem. Shoes by Camper. Bracket by JeanJean Vintage at Etsy.

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Accidental amazing pattern matching on the shoulders!

I thought I’d also add a little Taking Stock (developed by Pip Lincoln) to share some of the things I do when I’m not attached to Tilly, my sewing machine.

TAKING STOCK:

Drinking: pomegranate tea.

Wearing: my new Liberty shirt I made at Sewaway that has LIBERTY BUTTONS!

Eating: slow roasted pork. No more hospital food for me.

Reading: War and Peace on Audio Books. I’m almost half way through.

Making: finishing a scarf with a fan wave pattern that kept me sane in hospital.

Planning: to finish my Vogue coat before we head off on vacation.

Grateful: for good health care. And specialists who get me.

Looking forward to: sleeping (hopefully) in my own bed tonight.

Loving: my new hellebores plant I bought myself for hospital. Her name is Herbet.

Watching: My Cousin Rachel. Highly recommend. Wonderful film.

Considering: if it’s time to get my passport in preparation for  my trip to Berlin and the UK next year.

Doing: Yoga with Adriene. She’s changed my outlook on life and my connection with myself.