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.

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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.

 

Stunning Ellie Cashman Floral Linen

No ones opening the door… guess it’s clear she’s gone. 

I have found true fabric love with Ellie Cashman and her moody dark floral designs. I recently made a ball gown (here) that is a digital print silk charmuse. The fabric I chose for the Chardon skirt was a printed linen because if you are going to spend that amount of money on one piece of fabric and postage from overseas, you should always make the cost of postage more reasonable by ordering additional fabric. That, dear readers, is logic!Ellie’s designs are exquisite and the underlying darkness in her design ensures it stands apart from that prettiness that is so often found in florals. Her designs are a mix of over sized blooms with digital enhancement and the odd butterfly floating in a sea of petals that give it a strong edge.

This is my Dirty Dancing moment, much to the horror of B1 and B2. I was, after all, having the time of my life. The water lilies were in fine form. And my death pose. May my inner gothling always be present.
The top is the Tiny Pocket tank (OOP) from Grainline Studio which I believe has now been updated to a similar pattern called  Willow. I find this top very flattering with the addition of some shaping in the side seams. I stumbled upon the cotton lace overlay and silk remnant at The Fabric Store and was down to the millimetre to cut the Tiny Pocket out. The silk hangs below the lace which I’m quite pleased with when it is sitting over the skirt but I think it will be more likely tucked in. I used some black silk bias to finish the neck and arms that I’d made many moons ago to add some contrast. The the ribbon was originally threaded around the waist however it didn’t sit well so I’ve left it at the back to give a little extra gather and definition to the waist. The linen I used for the Chardon skirt was the Dark Floral II light by Ellie Cashman and it was heaven to sew with. No fading with washing and it retained its original beautiful structure which held the pleats of the Chardon skirt so well whilst providing a little pouf. The pleats seemed to give the flowers even more depth as they overlapped. The skirt went together beautifully and having sized down from my previous version, is now more fitted around the waist. And of course it has pockets. As this is such a special skirt, I hemmed it with vintage lace gifted to me by Marjorie. She was kind enough to send me a collection of vintage laces from her personal collection last year that I could incorporate into my sewing. My mantra remains the same after all these years: Liberty, Linen and Lace. I hand picked the zip  due the thickness of the fabric and to ensure greater control over where it was placed. It sits flatly across the derriere and has all the good curves in just the right places.That centre flower looks so three dimensional within the folds of the pleats. Even when laying out the fabric it looked magical. I also caught a reclusive bug and lonely cute butterfly on the front skirt piece.

Thank you also to Chuleenan who convinced me with her versions of the Deer and Doe Chardon skirt that it is a fabulous pattern.

I suspect I may have enough left fabric over to make some beautiful cushions as well for my bedroom. Or should I try a top? Too many decisions for the poor brain today.

On the health front, my recent surgery was a complete success however surgical menopausal shock is about as much fun as it sounds. Hopefully with some more adjustments I’ll be back to work in a week or so and can get back to this wonderful thing called life. And my belly can deflate again. The poor little thing is still swollen. The scaring has healed beautifully but the poufiness of the tummy remains. In the meantime it’s rest, sew, and keep up fluids. And try not to complain too much. How do women not talk about what a horrendous thing menopause is! It’s really rather horrid. And I’ve been through many horrid things. But I now have this beautiful dark floral skirt for which I am most grateful.

Photos by Bruce. Location at Deakin University Waurn Ponds. Dark floral II fabric purchased from Ellie Cashman. (I’m saving up to purchase another piece to make a bed head…). Chardon skirt pattern by Deer and Doe. Tiny pocket tank by Grainline Studio, now reissued as the Willow.  Shoes from Camper. Tights from Wolford. Vintage jewellery from JeanJeanVintage. Flower crown by Gardens of Whimsy.

A Step Back in Time

Tea DressThe number of times I’ve been told I was born in the wrong era… Countless. However the beautiful thing of living now is the that I can look back on all those wonderful periods (Victorian and 1920’s are my favourite) and recreate the designs whilst still having access to the modern necessities of life, say feminism, modern medicine, a fabulous array of fabrics and friends from across the world and an endless fountain of inspiration from the ether in which resides the internets. I’ve also started collecting vintage and antique lace and jewellery in the past year, things that I cannot find their equal of in todays fast consumerist society. I’m an old soul in a new world.

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

I found this vintage picture on the IG account of @shoppesimone and captured it on a screen shot knowing I needed to recreate the dress with black ribbons. The perfect linen fabric I stumbled across on another IG account, @scarletjonesmelbourne around a year later. They were practically giving away this gorgeous Italian linen which they had in storage ($20 per meter). I immediately purchased 5 meters, along with some navy and natural linen as well even though I was “technically” on a fabric purchasing hiatus.Tea Dress

The pattern is the modified bodice of Anna/Elisalex of ByHandLondon and the skirt an over exaggeration of the Emery by Christine Haynes with pockets. The first tier has additional fabric added to the width to create more fulness in the gathers and the second tier is attached to the lining.Tea Dress

The second tier is less full (I wasn’t using maths, I was guesstimating) and I’m actually quite pleased that it has less gathers than the first. It gives a different shape than I was expecting and overall makes the dress look a little less “poufy” whilst maintaining the original fit and flare design.Tea Dress

I lined the dress in a vintage cotton sheet that I picked up at a second hand store. The edge of the sheet had some beautiful blue embroidery which I will make feature of in a future petticoat/skirt that I have in mind.Tea Dress

The perfect black ribbon was purchased from Lily Pond and hand stitching it to the dress took longer than making the actual dress itself. I catch stitched by hand for a nice flat and even result. Not a speck of black thread to be seen on the inside.Tea Dress

I think there was about 12 meters of ribbon used and I stitched both the top  and bottom by hand. Commitment to ones craft as always. I actually find hand stitching quite soothing. I love how this process cannot be rushed and accuracy is increased 10 fold when you have such fine control over the stitches.

Vintage Locket

Vintage Locket

I wore my new locket from JeanJean Vintage which I’d been stalking for months. It is black enamel with “In Memory of” inscribed on the front and contains a lock of hair that has been carefully braided and encased in the locket. I’ve no clue as to who it belonged to but I love that this was how women used to remember their loved ones who had died. Very Crimson Peak in it’s style, hopefully obtained under less violent circumstances.

Tea Dress

And may we discuss the boots for a minute. Purchased from American Duchess, these beautiful boots laced with ribbon are the perfect fit for my often fickly tootsies. And how well do they compliment my dress! Comfort and historic style paired beautifully.

Tea DressThe photo’s were taken at the Winter Garden Cafe which had a beautiful exhibition of prints in their art gallery upstairs. It’s their 7th annual printmakers exhibition and runs from July 1 to July 31. If you are in the Geelong area I would recommend dropping in to view some of the amazing prints.

Gin? Tea? Cake?

Gin? Tea? Cake?

So, where do you get your inspiration for making? I have many screen shots on my phone, thousands of pinterest pins, and scraps from magazines that never seem to make it into the inspiration book…Tea Dress

CurtseyTea Dress

 

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Strawberry Thief in Brooklyn

Strawberry Thief in the Wild

Strawberry Thief in the Wild

Once a year I escape the chaos…

Strawberry Thief Sewing Corner

Strawberry Thief Sewing Corner

To sleep, stitch, eat, drink, rest.

Strawberry Thief an Me

Strawberry Thief an Me

To be taken care of by wonderful women who fill my soul to the brim.

Strawberry Thief and the Bunnies

Strawberry Thief and the Bunnies

To mingle with the unknown over breakfast and drink countless cups of tea.

Strawberry Thief Gelfling Style

Strawberry Thief Gelfling Style

And sip wine in bed after venturing out to the pictures deemed too arty for my local theatres.

Strawberry Thief and Snow Domes

Strawberry Thief and Snow Domes

And solitude. So rare and so soothing.

Strawberry Thief with Headscarf and Handmade Bag by Friend

Strawberry Thief with Headscarf and Handmade Bag by Friend

Then I return to the fold. Missed and missing all.

Strawberry Thief with Strawberry Swirl

Strawberry Thief with Strawberry Swirl

Until next time. Until next summer.

Strawberry Thief Mirror Image

Strawberry Thief Mirror Image

Curtsy.

Strawberry Thief V Back

Strawberry Thief V Back

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Nobody puts Strawberry Thief in the Corner

Nobody puts Strawberry Thief in the Corner

Photos by myself and Bruce. Dress made from Strawberry Thief Liberty Tana Lawn, a 40th Birthday present. Pattern, Flora skirt ByHandLondon attached to modified Anna/Elisalex bodice. Location at Brooklyn Arts Hotel, my home away from home. Vintage jewellery from JeanJean Vintage. Shoes by Camper.

Strawberry Thief

Strawberry Thief

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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