Sirena Dress

Sirena DressAllow me to introduce you to the Sirena Dress. Designed by Itch to Stitch, this is Kennis’ latest design offering from her range of patterns designed under her Itch to Stitch label. Given this is a formal review of the pattern I may down play my text, but fear not there will be outtakes at the end. Sirena Dress

I have previously made up the Marbella Dress, (also known as the English dress due to the gorgeous benefactor of fabric) so I was happy to offer my sewing services to pattern test the new Sirena Dress. Sirena Dress

This dress is something of a classic, with a high round crew neck line, options for bell or cuffed sleeves, inseam pockets and a subtle A-Line skirt that for most falls at the knee but due to my height fell well above. Scandalous! There are also options and instructions to line or not line the dress. Sirena DressSirena Dress

As with the Marbella Dress, the bodice comes in a range of cup sizes from A to D which eliminates the need for SBA and FBA’s for many of the ladies. I cut a B cup size 6 and ended up grading out to an 8 at the hips. The PDF is also layered with sizes if your measurements fall into one size you can choose just that layer only and the one size will print. How wonderful for tracing! If you fall between two sizes as I did you can print just those sizes as well to allow for grading. Again, this is a fabulous option and I think should be part of all PDF patterns. There needs to be some compensation for sticking together 50 odd pages! (I accidentally taped all four options of cup sizes for the bodice, so really I’ve no one to blame but myself.)Sirena Dress

My first toile needed a few adjustments as I cut a straight 6. I had to bring the fabric on the bodice in at the waist at both front and back darts and I also took 1cm off each side of the invisible zip. I may size down to a  4 of my next version an grade out to an 8 at the hips. The skirt is a very subtle A-line. As it is a fitted dress I would recommend making a toile to check the fit before cutting into precious fabric. I added 2.5cm to the length of the bodice as is my normal practice. Beautiful lengthen or shorten lines included on both the bodice and the skirt. Sirena Dress

Sirena Dress

Believe it or not there is an Invisible Zip in that Centre Back Seam

So what do I adore about this pattern? I love the high neck line. It’s perfect to add a little nana lace collar which is what will occur when I make my next black version. I will also add lace to the sleeves to give it a little victorian feel. I have ordered a black and gold memorial locket from etsy to complete the look. The bell sleeves are just adorable. I think they will be a little hard to wear under a normal cardi so shall invest in some long sleeve tops which has always been part of my winter layering look. The instructions were very clear and detailed, and I felt this pattern was a little more challenging than your basic indie pattern which I really enjoyed.

Kennis has advised that from the feedback from testers the front neck line has been dropped 1/2 an inch and just a few amendments to the instructions so nothing that would really change the look of how my dress turned out. Sirena-Illustrations-03 Sirena-Illustrations-01

To see other versions of the dress visit itch-to-stitch.com. It was also great to see a large range of sizes tested for this pattern. Sirena Dress

Sirena Dress

Dancing Queen – The Real Me – Bruised Legs from Falling Down Stairs

Sirena Dress

The Flamingo Stance

Sirena DressI really do love this dress, and I already have the fabric for my victorian gothling version. I may use a different skirt, most likely gathered and with lower pockets, and will definitely lengthen to below the knee.

The pattern for the Sirena dress can be found here

Curtsy

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Far from the Madding Crowd

 

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I love books. Real paper and ink books that are old and have that old book scent. I can get lost for hours reading. It appears (to me) we have moved away from the art of long story telling that includes miniscule detail, comment on society, in-depth discussion of clothing, the landscape and the complexity of human relationships in painstaking detail. I think the Gold Finch was the most modern book over 400 pages I’ve read in recent times. Caught up with fast fashion, fast food, fast writing. Through my readings I have learnt it is reasonable for me to stand my ground and not bend to the will of others. And I continue to learn! Bathsheba has recently become another heroine who has stolen my heart and increased my courage.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I hold a copy of Far From the Madding Crowd somewhere in my home but have yet to read it. I need to commit. However before I commit, I need to locate it…. Classic novels I have made it through include Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Mill on the Floss, Jane Eyre.  Authors including George Elliot, Leo Tolstoy, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I am going to exclude Gone with the Wind in this category (tried to re read recently, it was impossible), however it requires mention as it was the first book I read that didn’t have the happy ending. I cried for weeks (literally) because Rhett decided enough was enough. Scarlett and I were devastated. I even based my debutante ball dress the dress that she wore for barbecue.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I adore Russian literature, and have a long love for classic texts with complex characters. English classic literature is a close second. And I love collecting the older books that have previously been owned by others. I was the custodian of the most beautiful copy of Anna Karenina printed in the 1960’s on the thinest of paper with the smallest of type. Unfortunately my Burmese cat, Isaac, chose to place it in the fish bowl. He looked me in the eye and with one foul swoop of his paw my precious book landed in the truly murky waters. Sadly the book did not survive, and I believe the fish was later the victim of murder or assisted suicide by said cat. He was a cat that only I could love.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Some of these titles have been made into spectacular movies and mini-series. The Beautiful Lie currently screening on ABC is stunning. A modern take on Anna Karenina set in contemporary Australia. The script is beautiful and the costuming divine. Colin Firth as Mr Darcy always. No explanation required. Jane Eyre was breathtaking with Mia Wasikowska.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Elisalex bodice detail

Far from the Madding Crowd – Elisalex bodice detail with false placket and no buttons

I watched Far from the Madding Crowd several months ago, and whilst taking in the story and the scenery, I started to plot new additions to my wardrobe based on Bathsheba’s daily farm wear. The long sweeping skirts, deep shades of indigo, the independent attitude she so wonderfully displayed.

Far from the Madding Crowd - back detail

Far from the Madding Crowd – back detail

Bathsheba is another heroine I can add to my list of vintage literature girl crushes.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd – lost the sheep, tending the grapes

My Gabriola skirt was the perfect pattern made in the softest Merchant and Mills linen purchased from Stitch 56. At the same time I found the block printed cotton also by Merchant and Mills for the top. I had two to choose from and decided upon the lighter for the Elisalex bodice with added peplum (drafted using the circle skirt app from By Hand London, recommend highly). I love the shaping of this bodice, having made the dress with an Anna skirt several times. The addition of the peplum suited perfectly, however it does act as a normal circle skirt would out in nature and there was much belly button flashing when the wind gusted. The second piece was used for the head scarf and a Tiny Pocket Tank.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Where the Sheep?

Far from the Madding Crowd – Where the Sheep?

Far from the Madding Crowd - There they Be!

Far from the Madding Crowd – There they Be!

The title of the book comes from the poem Elergy Written in the Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray:

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

I try to escape the madding crowd from time to time through dress ups, film, art  and literature.

What inspires you?

Curtsy,

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Photos by Bruce. Location at Clyde Park Winery. Merchant and Mills fabric purchased from Stitch 56. Shoes from Duckfeet. Flower hair piece from Gardens of Whimsy.

All film pictures remain copyrighted to their respective original owners. I had difficulty referencing some, so please let me know and I will add the appropriate acknowledgement/link.

Frocktober: Raising Money, Awareness and Fabulous Frocks

This post is sponsored by the wonderful women from The Drapery, who in supporting Froctober and the  Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, gifted me the gorgeous Nani Iro fabric for my dress.  The Drapery is a fabric store located in Adelaide, South Australia, that stocks carefully selected natural fibre fabrics (including Liberty, Nani Iro and amazing linens) and indie patterns. All opinions expressed remain my own.

Froctober at the Drapery

Froctober at the Drapery

Hello and welcome to the wonderful month of October! You can expect serious frockage, unseasonably hot weather and a plethora of days raising awareness for some of the many causes that are often funded by, and rely on, the good will of our community.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

One of the main events held this month is Froctober, where ladies (and gents) frock up to raise much needed funds for research into ovarian cancer. It is reported that one woman dies every 10 hours from ovarian cancer and there is still no early detection test. Terrible. Women are normally diagnosed at the later stages of this disease, when the cancer has spread to other organs in the body. This means a significant decrease in the chances of overcoming this cancer. Early detection is key to treating and surviving this. Frocks around Australia are taking this seriously, and are being used to raise money for this much needed research.

Froctober Menu

Froctober Menu

At this point in time, the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) does not receive government funding, and relies on donations and fundraising from the community to develop an early detection test. I am proud to report that along with three of my colleagues at work, we raised $125 which will go directly to the OCRF. I also managed to discuss the fundraising and its importance with senior management by stating: “I’m raising money for ovarian cancer research, because, ovaries: where would we be without them?”. He looked at me for a second with head to the side, dropped some money in the jar and then quietly backed away…

If you would like to donate directly, you can do so here. I would post you cookies in exchange for donations, however they may end up as crumbs in the post.

The Froctober Spread: $125 Raised.

The Froctober Spread: $125 Raised, Sugar Coma Achieved

So. Awareness raised. Let us move onto the frock.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

Behold, my new Emery Dress with self-drafted skirt, made in the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze, and lined in sultry silk. It is truly like wearing a whisper that only I can hear. Swish and swoosh, like the leaves gently rustling in the spring breeze.

Froctober Emery Dress - Inside Out

Froctober Emery Dress – Inside Out – Soft Focus

I started by using the Emery bodice, adding a centre back seam to capture the selvage of the the Nani Iro, and then finishing off with a self-drafted pleated, wrap skirt. The dress is lined in silk, using the Emery skirt pattern with some of the width taken out to reduce bulk at the waist.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

I created the skirt pattern by taking apart one of my oldest and favourite RTW dresses and using it as a template to create the pleats. I vividly remember the day I purchased it. Firstly because it was incredibly expensive for me at the time, and secondly because when I mentioned to Bruce I might be indulging in a pricy dress, it was given the ok if I bought home a chicken. Chicken was delivered, dress was purchased: a worthy exchange. It has been worn lovingly for over 7 years and was still in admirable shape, save for the highlighter pen marks. I’ve been wanting to recreate this for years, but didn’t have the heart to unstitch that dress and be left without it.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

Luckily I found another version (in purple no less!) on eBay so was able to take the original apart. There were so many things to love about my old dress, including the details of the metal adornments (lovingly restitched onto the newly made dress), the hem (again reused on my Emery dress) and the number of well placed stitches that held it together over time. The thing with properly made garments is they take time to deconstruct as well as construct. Not the typical pull one thread and the entire piece falls apart. It took hours to undo, it was so well made.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

The pleats sit in a most pleasing fashion on the derriere. Top stitched down by a 9cm long rectangle, they hold fast across the bottom before gently flaring out. This also makes for excellent twirlability.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress – Twirling in the Veggie Patch

I also put in a side zip. Revelation! It is so lovely to zip the side without having to do the wiggle dance involved with centre back seam closures.

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress – So Many Bubbles Blown, Not a Single One in Frame!

I also had the opportunity to try out my fancy new shoes. I think they will be perfect for sitting down and indulging in high tea. They are definitely not made for walking. I felt like a baby giraffe on stilts.

Froctober Emery Dress + Fancy Shoes

Froctober Emery Dress + Fancy Shoes

So a beautiful dress for a well deserving cause. Sadly this particular print is now out of stock, however there are a number of other equally beautiful Nani Iro fabrics in-store and I’m informed by a well placed source that a new shipment is on the way. The Drapery is also offering 10% off combined fabric and pattern purchases until the end of October with $2 from each combined purchase being donated to ORCF. Support research, save money and buy beautiful fabric. Sounds like an excellent deal to me!

Froctober Emery Dress

Froctober Emery Dress

For other Froctober blog posts, see The Drapery here, here and here, and also the ever stylish and beautiful Blogless Anna, here.

Curtsey and may we find early detection for ovary health soon. Because literally, we wouldn’t be here without them ; ).

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Photos by Bruce. Nani Iro fabric gifted from The Drapery. Hair flowers by Garden of Whimsy. Shoes from Christian Louboutin. Tights from Wolford. Marrimeko parasol from Kiitos. Lack of bubbles presented by B1 and B2.

Liberty Granville Shirt and Anemone Skirt

Vintage Liberty Collection

Vintage Liberty Collection – *Swoons*

Another day, and more gorgeous fabric! It seems like I’ve come to the end of my vintage Liberty which is sad in some ways but also wonderful to see new life given to fabric that has been stored and loved for many years. I’ve saved every scrap, and have taken to weave wrapping for gifts and hoarding hexagons for a quilt. I can’t recall ever being so attached to fabric before.

Today I received a beautiful thank you card, thanking me for my thank you letter from my benefactor. This of course requires another thank you note to thank Ms J for thanking me for my thank you. I discovered that I was made custodian of three generations of fabric, *swoon*. This is sewing love. And this is why I love sewing and the sewing and fabric community.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

As soon as this fabric was presented to me (in a most queenly fashion followed by squeals of delight) I knew it was destined for a shirt. Fabric often speaks to me (just don’t tell my doctor) and I was overcome by the print and the softness of the Liberty. It could not have found a happier home than mine.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Another Granville shirt from Sewaholic. The only adjustments I need to make to Sewaholic patterns are to add length in the body and sleeves. Then the fit is perfect. Dream patterns.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

I’ve still got a little way to go until I perfect my plackets, but I’m happy with the result this time.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anemone – Praying for Fabric

And the skirt! Completely forgot that I’d made it months ago. How does one do that? Trying to embrace new shapes and expand my handmade wardrobe I ventured out to the Anemone pattern from Deer and Doe using some left over viscose purchased from The Fabric Store.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Several versions of these have popped up in my instagram feed and I had planned to experiment with the more fitted, higher waist skirt and shift away from the usual fit and flare. I think after seeing it in photos I’d wear it to work. And perhaps give it another press. It did spend the last 6 months balled up in my tops draw… Eek.

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

Vintage Liberty Grainville and Viscose Anenome

It’s a little corporate for my usual style but with the the addition ribbons and flowers I think I’ve captured my quintessential Pipsie style. That high waist does keep everything in place whilst allowing continued breathing and eating. The pattern was made  straight from the envelope without adjustment. Sadly it was that long ago that I can not recall the size…

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Grainville

And how could anything look bad with that shirt!

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Grainville – Baby Got Back

See that waist to hip ration? That’s  why Sewaholic patterns are made for my bosom, waist and derrière measurements.

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Granville

Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt

Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt

The skirt was fully lined, and I love the peplum on the sides. A rather pretty point of interest that is quirky and doesn’t add volume to the hips.

Vintage Liberty Grainville

Vintage Liberty Grainville

So next time you see any vintage Liberty here, it should be in the form of hexagons. Unless of course anyone has a stash they would like to gift to me. I would be happy to oblige.

Happy weekend lovelies!

Curtsey

Pips xxx

Photos by Bruce. Fabric gifted from the estate of Ms J. Hair flowers from Gardens of Whimsey. Shoes from Camper. Tights from Tightology.

Essential Sewing Tips from a Seamstress. Part 1:

As I learn and evolve (getting closer to Zen everyday…. it’s a work in progress), and think everything I have learnt is all I need to know, I discover more. Often by chance, sometimes by mistake. And sometimes I meet lovely like-minded people along the way who share their knowledge and wisdom in the local neighbourhood. Those who also tolerate B1 and B2 going through all the buttons, and for reasons unknown, love to collect buttons. Yes. Buttons.

Heights Sewing Centre

Heights Sewing Centre

Yes, I hold onto old habits, sure that no replacement could ever exist for a technique or routine that I have followed since I was first taught. However, I’m learning there are different ways that can save time, effort and make the experience a little less breath holding. Just to clarify: When I’m overly stressed about doing something, sewing or otherwise, I hold my breath. It’s not a particularly helpful technique, neither adding value to what I’m working on or my assisting my personal wellbeing. I often do it at work. I used to do it with sewing. I’m more conscious of it now, however I still find myself on occasion having a quick gasp when I’ve been concentrating intently. But I digress.

So  today I thought I would share a sprinkle of my knowledge acquired  in my sewing adventures, some more recently and others another lifetime ago when I was working as a home seamstress and being paid pittance for hours of work. I think that’s where much of my breath holding went in those days.

This, dear friends, is a most wondrous discovery. I discovered it at the local haberdashery and has it changed, not so much the way I sew, but the way I utilise and treat my patterns. Previously, I would purchase a Big 4 pattern, hack away at the flimsy tissue paper in a size I thought might approximate something that would fit, and then repurchase the pattern the next time I needed it (inevitably) because I had lost a piece or needed a different size. No more! I discovered via the interwebs the idea of tracing off a pattern to allow the original to be kept in pristine condition. Excellent. Until I found that reasonably sized pieces of tracing paper were not readily available and I would end up piecing together wax paper or A3 sheets from the local arts store . They would tear, stick together in places unintended and rumple. Too much, too much I cried! Especially since I was now investing in indie patterns that I wanted to keep in mint condition because they were so, well, indie. And pretty. There is something magical about a indie pattern that makes one shudder at the thought of going the big chop with scissors.

tv4

Enter Heights Sewing Centre, Est 1935. The local habby that keeps me supplied with notions, thread and that which may (or may not…) change your life: Tracing Vilene. It’s a standard old time interfacing with no sticky, and you use it to trace patterns off. It is THE replacement for cutting originals or for tracing paper. It is also my Favourite. Sewing. Thing. Ever. It’s sold off a roll like fabric, costs about $3 a meter, is sold by the meter or less and runs in a continuous length. Tracing vilene also has the following most excellent properties as evidenced below:

  • It’s see through, just as much as tracing paper
  • It does not easily crease (and if it does, iron it flat)
  • It readily accepts a ball point pen without fear of smudge or transfer onto fabric
  • It doesn’t tear when you look at it
  • It stands up to multiple pinnings with no need for sticky tape reinforcement
  • It does not curl
  • stores perfectly with the original pattern

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My most used pattern at the moment is the Anna dress by By Hand London. I can honestly declare that  I haven’t had to retrace a piece in the 7 times I’ve used it nor reinforce any sections that may have torn if the alternative of paper was used. The Belcarra blouse from Sewaholic is also getting a fervent work out at the moment.

favorite pattern of the month/year

favorite pattern of the month/year

I get a little enthusiastic about it, and consider any other product to be supremely inferior. Yes paper, I’m referring to you. I also use it for my own drafted templates for tea towels and pillowcases. If they stop producing it, I may just loose it. This love is  timeless, and I am forever grateful for the ladies at Heights Sewing Centre that introduced me to it. And to Ken of course, whose family owns the business. He has been running it for almost 50 years! And such a wealth of knowledge.

Curtsey to Heights Sewing Centre, located at 177 Pakington St Geelong West.

Pips xxx

PS. Let me know if you have any tips for tracing off patterns, I’d love to know any other alternatives