The tradition of family Christmas outfits continued this year. We took to the beach in Apollo Bay in our matching Christmas print to celebrate together. We hope you had a safe and happy festive period with your loved ones.
Jocelyn Proust Christmas Wombats
This year we went for a modern Australian print by Jocelyn Proust. The cute Australiana print features grey wombats in red Christmas hats on a pale blue background.
We found the fabric at a Boxing Day sale last year (with luckily enough fabric left on the roll!). The blue background and Australiana print were perfect, as it was different from the traditional red themed fabric from previous years. We didn’t plan what patterns we were going to make when we purchased the fabric but still managed to fit our five garments out of 12.5 metres.
Lauren and Erin
This year we made two of our favourite patterns we discovered in 2020. Lauren was inspired by the ruffled version of the Flora Dress we had made recently and it was a great sleeveless option for a warm Australian Christmas Day. Erin made a dress version of the Schultz Apparel Ottilia Top adding a gathered skirt to the originally waisted top.
Robyn and David
For Dad’s shirt, we used McCalls 6044. We have recently changed the men’s shirt pattern we used for Dad, and we are really happy with the change. This pattern has more shape through the body, curved hem and front placket detail.
Earlier in the year, we made Mum and blue Kingfisher version of Vogue 1511 with the long sleeves. As it is one of her favourite dresses to wear, we decided to use the pattern to make a short sleeve version fit for summer.
James and Erin
James dove into the matching family Christmas outfits and took on the challenge of making his own shirt! This is his third garment having only made 2 pairs of pyjama shorts before tackling his first collared McCalls 6044 shirt.
Fabric Hoarders is an independent fabrics store that is based in Echuca in regional Victoria. Through their online store they have a variety of cotton fabrics and sewing accessories. We first came across Leanne’s business when we were on the hunt for WhipsaWeft interfacing. Whe was the only supplier we could find that had it in stock and we jumped for joy. We were very excited to find her business and even more so when we found out she was from near our home town. We have partnered with Fabric Hoarders to share this project with you with them suppling us with the fabric for this make.
Zebra Stripes Cotton
Previously if you had asked us if we wore animal prints we likely said no. Btut something recently has shifted, Lauren made a leopard print version of Gertie’s Butterick 6556 and then a McCalls 7542.
So when we were looking through the selection available on Fabric Hoarders we stopped to check out the strong pattern of this Zebra Stripe Cotton.
It has a strong contrast between the black and white monochrome pattern and the diagonal line created an interesting effect. The cotton comes in 25cm increments through the Fabric Hoarders website.
We grew up on what are sometimes described as “Big 4” Patterns – this refers to some of the original commercial pattern companies. As part of their A History of series Dressed Podcast have done an episode that explored Paper Patterns that talks about how these were first established. It is interesting to hear about how these companies originated and have evolved into the brands we see today. Take a listen to the episode while you are next sewing.
We have more recently started sewing with smaller often referred to as Indi patterns. Both of these types of patterns are fantastic options and it is worth exploring all different types of patterns to discover different styles and the fit that works best for you.
For this make we used Simplicity 8594, which we have made before, see here. The pattern has two bodice options a crewneck with slit or halter style. The skirt can be made in straight or flared and has pockets in the side seam.
For this version we made the halter style with flared skrit which we lengthened slightly. See Erin cutting the skirt pieces in the video.
We fully lined the dress, as you might have heard us talk about before we prefer to line our dresses. It helps them to sit smoothly against the body and makes for a cleaner finish on the inside. We cut the lining from an old white striped sheet. For this fabric the background of the Zebra print is white so lining it also prevents the chance of the lighter colour being transparent.
The sharp lines of the dress make it a very modern and a current style. We wanted to continue this look through the finishings and chose to add an exposed chunky zipper down the center back.
The zipper length starts between the shoulders and runs down to the hips. For this we used a 60cm black open ended zipper that we stitched on the outer of the finished dress.
Yes to pockets. Always yes to pockets. In some case when there aren’t pockets we add pockets. We have a photo copy of a side seam pocket bag pattern piece we keep around to be able to add it if there isn’t one included but it wasn’t needed for this, the pattern came with it’s own pockets which of course we included.
Finished Zebra Stripes
The pairing of pattern and fabric worked out really well for this one. It was a great addition to be able to add the feature of the zipper down the back. The idea of doing this didn’t happen until Lauren was rumaging through the zipper box and found the zipper. It was the perfect length and we did not have plan for it previously.
A strong print the Zebra Stripes from Fabric Hoarders could have become over whelming to the eye if cut into by too many design lines but the Simplicity 8594 with its princess line front and A line skirt was a great pairing.
Summer dresses are here! Which means for us a great urge to sew pretty floral cotton dresses. This project ticked all of those boxes. Using a floral print Liberty Cotton from Fabric Hoarders we created a variation of the By Hand London Flora Dress.
Liberty Orchard Garden from Fabric Hoarders
Located in a town on the Murray River in North Victoria, Fabric Hoarders is an independent fabrics store. They have a great selection of cotton and liberty fabrics in their online store. We have partnered with Fabric Hoarders and its business owner Leanne to share with you some of their wonderful fabrics.
This beautiful print is the blue colour way of the Orchard Garden design by Liberty. It is a cotton fabric with an off white background and blue floral repeated design.
The Flora Dress is a lovely pattern from By Hand London – it has a fitted bodice with waist and bust darts. There are two bodice varations, we chose to make the tank style with high neck and thin shoulder straps
Flora comes with two skirt options either a shaped circled or pleated option. We opted for a different style again and created a gathered skirt with darts.
Adding the shoulder ruffle
To create the ruffle cut a rectangle piece that is twice the length of the strap x 10cm wide (4cm wide ruffle + 1cm seam allowance, doubled)
Press the ruffle in half length ways
Finish the ends of the ruffle by putting right sides together and stitching across the ends
Turn right side out
Create gathering stitch close to the raw edge
Prepare the strap by pressing in half then the edges into the middle
Using the gathering stitch pull the ruffle up so the ends sit 1.5cm from the raw end of the strap (so they don’t get caught up in the bodice)
Tack the ruffle into place
Fold the strap in half, sandwiching the ruffle
The strap is finished and ready to be inserted into the bodice as shown in the instructions
We created the skirt by starting with two rectangles, the width of the fabric and 65cm long. Using darts along with gathers creates a more bell shaped skirt and reduces the bulk around the waist. The darts should sit from the waist to the hip, this is approximately 25cm, for this skirt we did a series of smaller darts spread out across the skirt
Finished Liberty Flora
Pattern placement was key. You will see us talk about pattern placement and pattern matching alot. It is steps like making sure that if you have a dominate pattern that it is placed well on the body, lined up down the centre front or on a skirt that the pattern lines up as is runs around the body.
Making this floral dress in the Liberty print was no expection. If you watch the video you will see how Erin folded the fabric when she was cutting it. At first you might say it is not the most efficent way of cutting the piece but when you see the pattern lined up down the center front of the bodice you can then understand why this particular placement.
Take pattern placement into consideration when select how much fabric you might need and if in doubt check with your fabric supplier how long the repeat is. Fabric Hoarders have 25cm increments that works very well for a print like this as you can pick the repeat of this fabric with the butterflies being the dominant repeat running down the fabric.
The Libert Ochard Garden cotton from Fabric Hoarders was lovely to work with. It was perfect for a style like this, holding well in the bodice darts and enough softeness in the gathers of the skirt and added shoulder detail.
We are excited to be welcomed as part of the Minerva Maker team! Showcasing their beautiful fabrics, we are looking forward to showing you a variety of different makes. You can shop Minerva Craft’s full range of fabrics here.
Our first Minerva make ticks so many of our sewing boxes:
Bright and fun pattern
Cotton sateen (one of our FAVOURITE fabrics to sew with)
re-wearable for events as well as work
and did we mention… it is a jumpsuit!
If you have followed us for a while, you will know that cotton sateen is one of our favourite fabrics to sew. The thicker cotton makes it easy to sew, with the slight stretch making it comfortable and easy to wear.
We had made the jumpsuit before and loved the style and fit of the pattern. However, we really wanted to add a collar onto the jumpsuit. While we could have tried to attach a collar to the existing neckline, we decided to swap out the bodice pattern altogether.
After a hunt through our pattern collection, we create a shortlist of bodice options. We were focused on finding a pattern that had design lines we could feature in the bodice which wouldn’t get ‘lost’ in the busy print. The great thing about pattern hacking it is like a food buffet, you can combine two half meals together or have a little bit of a lot of foods – the options are endless
In the end, we decided on Butterick 6410. It had a collar and horizontal design feature across the bodice (see how we did this in the construction section!)
To emphasise the design lines, we added in a black flat bias around the collar and horizontal bodice line. The Minerva fabric has such fabulous (but busy) print. We wanted to avoid losing the design lines in such a busy print. Unlike piping, where you would have a cord in the bias, we used the bias pressed in half flat. This created a modern look and provided a strong feature.
Once the bodice was together we did testing fit to make sure it fit and the waist seam would match up the key points of centre front, side seams and back. It was a relatively small adjustment, adapting the patterns along the waistline to come together and worked well on the fabric.
Usually, during this time of year, we are preparing for the Melbourne Cup carnival, curating outfits and sewing hats and dresses. This year, like a lot of things, fashion on the field looks a bit different.
We are excited to be working with Fabric Deluxe to showcase this beautiful fabric for this project. We really wanted to make something from the range of Fancies and Textured fabric from the Fabric Deluxe selection. When we came across their Bird and Butterfly Cobalt Jacquard and knew that was it!
Fabric Deluxe is a fabric store based in Melbourne and has an online store. They aim to stock lovely, wearable fabrics that fit into the real life of their customers. Their stock is a variety of different fabrics including linens, viscose and wools for everyday wear to more special occasion pieces, which they like to call fancies. The approach of the Fabric Deluxe team is first that they are sewers too and understand the dedication of making a handmade garment.
This fabric called for something special! The cobalt and blue tone pattern against the black background is such a strong design. The pattern within the design features a repeat of birds and butterflies amongst leaves and flower shapes.
To highlight the detail of the fabric, we needed to select a style that would best showcase this. It needed to respect the fabric and not cut through the pattern of the fabric. This means considering bust darts over princess lines, how a sleeve is drafted and if the skirt will fall straight or if a fuller skirt will showcase the pattern better.
We have previously made Vogue 1579 and loved how the cape falls over the shoulders. The cape is attached to the dress around the neckline of a sleeveless bodice. This was a great pattern to use for this jacquard fabric as the birds and butterflies could fly around the capeline, and it becomes a smooth showcase of the beautiful detail of the fabric.
We wanted to make sure we got the pattern placement and matching correct This means making sure there was a bird directly in the middle of the bodice and in the back of the cape. The bird appeared to be the most dominate feature of our eye. They repeats down the skirt with two mirror image birds sitting on the centre front.
The pattern design asks for the front and back to both be cut on the fold with an underarm zipper. As the skirt has a split in the centre back to allow for enough movement to walk it has a centre back seam. Check out our video to see how we shuffle the pieces around to achieve this cutting layout.
Constructing the bodice
The instructions list this as an “average” in terms of skill level required. If you can conceptualise how it comes together, it all makes sense. Even for an experienced sewer, it is worth stopping by the instructions for this one to make sure you have the openings in the correct spots and understand how the neckline finished under the cape.
The armholes are finished by leaving the shoulder seams open. This is a great method which used a lot for sleeve garments because it means you do not have to try to contort the garment to pull it through to stitch.
Hemming the Cape
As the cape was the hero of this design, it deserved to be beautifully finished. The jacquard fabric could easily “bruise” with a top stitch line, we chose to hand stitch the hem. On the underside of the fabric is contrasting, and because of the shape of the cape could be seen from some angles. To keep a smooth edge and prevent any stray threads from the jacquard weave showing we used a bias tape. This sits on the inside of the hem and using a pick stitch to catch the outer layer.
Center Back Split
The original pattern finished above the knee, however we chose to length this. We wanted this dress to have a longer line to show off the fabric. The pattern is a straight skirt, so this is an easy pattern hack to do. Keep the right angles of the side seams measure and mark an even amount down from the hem.
The Fabric Deluxe Team recommend lining this fabric as the underside is very textured and may feel rough against the skin. We defiantly agree with this recommendation, it is lovely quality fabric, but this is a natural trait for this type of weave. You want your garment to be comfortable and easy to wear, and a lining will help with this.
As this was a fitted dress, we would have lined the skirt anyway to help it set well while worn and move easily when walking, not cling to the body. This is how we finished off the inside of the split.
The Bird and Butterfly Cobalt Jacquard from Fabric Deluxe was beautiful to work with. It has a natural body and structure to it. This was a great combination of fabric and dress pattern. We how the cape sat out around the body and just as we had planned the bird was placed on the centre focal points.
On rainy Friday afternoon we visited the Flinders Lane Tessuti to pick our fabric for the Knots and Crosses Sewing Competition. The team kindly let us sit down on the pattern table and plan out our outfits (and raid the button box)
The fabric for this year’s Tessuti competition was a broderie anglaise designs available in 4 colours. It had two scales of the stitching pattern in each colour. The composition was 75% cotton and 25% linen, making it versatile for a whole fabulous range of possible garments. See the full range of fabric on the Tessuti store here.
I wanted to create a skirt and top that was able to worn together and with other separates. We wanted to use both scales of the stitched fabric in the garment and picking which fabric was used for each feature was important to showcase the features of the fabric and garment.
I chose to use Simplicity 5497 for my top as I like the gathered sleeve and could see how the larger scale would work through the bodice and sleeve with the smaller square for the ruffle and the cuff of the sleeve.
With a focus on building her corporate work wardrobe, Erin chose to make a shirt dress style number.
I chose Vogue 2684 a vintage pattern we had in our collection as I like the collar feature and built in belt detail. To highlight these features I wanted to use the larger stitched fabric on the main part of the bodice and skirt than to show the unique features use the smaller square stitching on the collar facing so it would the fabric that you see when it is worn and the belt.
Self covered buttons
Lauren’s top and Erin’s dress called for buttons as their closures. We chose to use self covered buttons so we were not adding in another feature or texture that would distract from the texture of the existing fabric or other garment details. The selvage of the fabric was wide enough that we could use it as the material to cover our 15mm and 19mm buttons
Bias Tape Hem Finish
As neither of our garments had any top stitching we wanted this to be consistent in the hem. The bias tape provides a neat finish on the underside and worked well with this type of fabric as meant the hem did not rely on the overlocker skipping over the section where the raised stitching of the broderie anglaise was thick or holding together areas of the cut out holes in the fabric design.
Pillow Case Lining
The stitching and hole punched style of the broderie anglaise fabric meant there were areas of the fabric that could be seen through. For the main bodice parts of the our garments, we chose to line them in a white cotton fabric. As the fabric would not be seen and this was a perfect opportunity to upcycle some white pillowcases.
Knots and Crosses Sewing Competition Credits
Thank you to Tessuti Fabrics for running the Knots and Crosses Sewing Competion, another interesting and creative competition!
Thank you to James Christie for photographing our makes.
You can see our 2019 Colour in Thirds entries here and 2018 Skylines Tessuti entry here. Another few great competition run by Tessuti Fabrics.
March Meet the Maker is a month long challenge created by designer and maker Joanne Hawker. It is 31 days of prompts for creative to share their makes and story. We hope you enjoy learning about Two Sewing Sisters through March Meet the Maker in 2020.
March Meet the Maker Prompts
Two Sewing Sisters March Meet the Maker
Click on the images to find out more about each one.
We celebrated the end of 2019 and welcome 2020 with New Year Celebrations at a Tiny House Escape with our dear friend Kate, also known as Stitches and Sutures! We stay in a lovely tiny house that was situation in Carrickalinga in South Australia. With bushfires threatening so many parts of Australia we were wishing everyone a safe start to 2020.
We wore matching outfits made out of Abstract Multicoloured Digital Printed Cotton Linen Fabric that is 112 cm from Spotlight – you can find the fabric here.
2020 Sewing Resolutions
Last year we set ourselves some sewing resolutions- some we were able to complete, others that made it back on the list for this year. See last year’s sewing resolutions here. Our sewing resolutions for 2020 are:
Lauren’s Sewing Resolutions
Make a wool coat – this was part of last years resolution but didn’t happen so is here again for 2020
Fix 5 projects that I currently don’t like wearing because something isn’t right or it isn’t wearable
Make pale blue and black striped crepe flint pants – these have been on my to make list for yonks so it is a must for this year.
Only make from the stash. Instead of fabric shopping assume that we have a fabric that will be suitable, shop our stash and only purchase fabric for garments on the exception list. The exception list includes:
Oaks Day Millinery Award dress
One piece of fabric from overseas travels
Erin’s Sewing Resolutions
Make a suit – this was part of last years resolution but didn’t happen so is here again for 2020
Make 15 work appropriate garments in fabric from the stash
Finish everything before midnight the night before it needs to be worn
Kate’s Sewing Resolutions
Make 3 sets of lingerie
Make a coat – step one of picking a pattern is complete now to find some fabric!
Christmas outfits have been a family tradition that started in the mid 1980’s when our Dad suggest that his mother-in-law, our Nan make him a shirt out of Christmas fabric. From then on it would not have been Christmas without themed attire.
The fabric for this years outfits had been purchased from Spotlight around two years ago and sat waiting for a family Christmas that involved some sunshine and we could all be together on Christmas Day.
This year we also had a guest, Mr Sammywise Gamgee, a spoodle dog and naturally he also needed a matching bow tie to wear for the family photo.
We were thrilled to part of the testing team for By Hand London’s latest pattern release, the Jackie Trousers. The Jackie style is a semi tailored loose-fit trouser designed to sit comfortably. They finish just below the natural waist, featuring pleats at the waist, slanted pockets and a gently tapered leg.
Inspired by the easy fit menswear slacks of the nineties, and nodding fondly also to early modern women’s trouser styles of the thirties, these trousers are designed for women, but have proven to look and fit great on men too!
By Hand London
The fabrics suggestions for the Jackie Trousers is medium weight woven fabrics with some body or weighty drape. This includes materials such as wool suiting, wool crepe, tweed, linen and flannel. We chose to visit The Fabric Store and went to their Brunswick Street Store in Fitzroy. While browsing through their stunning selection of fabrics we found a beautiful cotton and silk woven blue fabric that looked perfect for Jackie!
The Finished Jackie Trousers
Finished by Hand London Jackie Trousers with top from Vogue 1466. They were constructed in a Denim coloured Cotton/Silk from The Fabric Store. Modeled by Lauren Ritchie with photographs by Erin Ritchie.
Jackie Trouser Details
The large pocket bags extend to the fly front contributing to the comfy fit of the pants. The key fit for these pants is to make sure the waistband is the right size for you. We cut a UK12 based on the measurements of the finished garment but ended up bringing it in for a snugger waist fit.
The folded up cuff gives a lovely finish to the tapered wider leg of the pant style. We found the length of the testing pattern a little longer than we needed. When you make them ensure to mark the hem in the shoes you intend to wear them with.