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.
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.
Spring is on the horizon for us, the sun is offering a hopeful relief from the chill in the air. What does this mean for our sewing? Dresses, dresses, dresses! We just want to sew dresses. We were invited to be involved in the pattern testing team for By Hand London’s latest release the Tamzin Dress which we couldn’t say no to. It is a folky style dress that we made in a light robia voile fabric, perfect for a Spring day.
Tamzin Dress Details
By Hand London describes the Tamzin as a quintessential folk dress. It has a square neckline that is finished with an external facing which gives the opportunity for lots of different finishes and embellishments. It has princess seams in the bodice with two different waist tie options. The 3/4 length sleeves and gathered skirt both have a stitched tuck detail.
The pattern comes in two cup sizes and in print at home or copy shop format pages.
Tamzin will work beautifully in a multitude of light to medium weight woven fabrics. This could be a linen, viscose rayon / tencel, soft or floaty cottons, double gauze and drapey silks.
We made the version that has the ties from the princess line, instead of the side seam. We used a ribbon for the ties as were were limited by how much of this fabric we had. We got it as a cut piece from the Salvo Store in Wangaratta so the amount was set for us.
Sourcing Fabric from Op Shops
What to look for when finding fabric in op shops? Check for any marks or damages such as pulls or tears it the fabric. If you aren’t in the practice of prewashing your fabric this is a good reminder. It removes any musky smells or light marks and prevents any heart break of your garment shrinking after its made.
Exploring your local Op Shop is a great way to find different fabrics to what might be in a more traditional fabric store. It can also be a way to pick up a bargain. In contrast it can be limiting because the pieces are already cut and there isn’t always something to pick up. It is worth checking in every so often to see what is available, you never know what treasures you might find!
We were looking in the local Salvos Store in Wangaratta for treasures and we came across this green and white checked robia voile fabric.
Normally robia voile is a cotton fabric that is recognisable by the dots but it also had a great dark green check through it. We didn’t have a particular plan for the fabric when we purchased it but knew it was a special piece. And then the Tamzin dress came along and it was the perfect pairing.
Constructing the Tamzin Dress
The stitched tucks are really easy to sew, just press a fold and measure for your stitch line. It is super effect and could be used on any rectangle shape. This feature is on the sleeve and the skirt, it is our favourite part about this pattern as it sat really well in our fabric.
Finishing the facing to the outside of the dress and top stitching, instead of folding it inside is a fun technique. The instruction from By Hand London explain it really well. Our fabric was already busy enough but some other makers have embroidered theirs or you could add a trim along the seam line. There are so many possibilities!
Finished Tamzin Dress
The Tamzin is a lovely style, the higher waist line that is pulled in by the ties creates a casual feeling and is perfect for a warmer day. Because of the folky style fit there is little to worry about exact measurements and is an easy sew. There are no zipper or buttons and it slips over the head. Speaking of slips! Because of how sheer our fabric was we did make a plain white dress to go underneath. If you had a heavier weight or less transparent fabric you wouldn’t need to do this.
We have tested a few different styles for By Hand London and really enjoy their patterns. They have a mix of floating styles to fitted more formal dress like the Jenna Dress, stylish pants in the Jackie and coats including the Juliet.
The Juliet Coat is the latest release from By Hand London. We enjoyed been part of the testing team for this project and partnered with Drapers Fabrics who supplied us with a beautiful wool coating for the project. The Juliet coat is fully lined and features two-piece raglan sleeves, in-seam pockets, a roomy swing shape and the option of a classic notch collar or a softer shawl collar.
Channel your inner Mrs Maisel with this perfectly retro swing coat!
By Hand London
Thank you to Draper Fabrics for partnering with us for this project. They supplied us with the lovely wool and lining for the testing of this pattern. We had a look at their online store which ships from New Zealand to get an idea of they might have available. before we headed into the Fitzroy Store.
We selected a checked blue, grey and cream wool for the outer fabric and a silk twill for the lining
Finished Juliet Coat
This is a PDF pattern which means that you download a PDF file and then need to print it out. Words from the wise – copy shop. Visit your local print shop.
We did the testing for this in the first stages of lockdown of COVID19 so we didn’t feel we should leave the house but if we were to print this lovely coat again it would save so much time to get it printed on A0.
Instead Erin spent a long afternoon with tape and scissors. The other disadvantage of printing at home is that the edge of the pattern pieces fall on tape lines of the A4 pages.
We are big fans of under stitching, big fans! It stops seams from rolling and the underside showing where it shouldn’t. This wasn’t listed in great detail in the instructions. We should suggest under stitching the underside of the collar piece, on the facing from the hem up to the button
If you are nervous about make a coat – don’t be for this one. There are no shoulder pads or complex pocket details to worry about. Essentially make the outer shell, make the lining and stitch the together around the openings (okay there is a little more to it but that is an overview)
Juliet Coat Details
We have been excited to make an Anna Dress since we saw Stitches and Sutures wearing it and it has come one of her favourites. This seemed like a great chance to give it a go. We wanted the coat to have the iconic fitted dress and oversized coat styling. The colours within the coat where specific tones and we found a piece of light wool suiting in our stash to that blended perfectly and did not distract from the stunning coat fabric.
We used the higher neck bodice style of the pattern and as we only had a small amount of fabric replaced the paneled skirt with a straight skirt and back split.
We fully lined the dress in a polyester lining to allow for ease of movement in such a fitted style
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.
We had the exciting task of testing the new release pattern from By Hand London. The new style is called the Jenna Dress. A fitted bodice with darts paired with an empire line dress with a bias cut skirt.
The first options includes a scooped neck and ties on the sleeves, the second a peterpan collar with longer sleeve. These options designed so the elements can be swapped around to create you own combination. We made both version of the dress.
We chose to do the at home print. The skirt pattern which is used for both length options is 32 pages and there is separate file for each bodice style. Variation 1 is 16 pages Variation 2 is 18 pages.
They were stuck together with clear tape before we cut it back to size. We chose to cut a size 12/16. See the images for fit.
Jenna Dress with Ties
We made the Jenna Dress with Ties from Houndstooth Patchwork Stretch Silk Crepe De Chine from The Fabric Store. This striking graphic houndstooth print is a combination of Silk and Lycra and is 115cm wide. You can find the fabric in their online store here.
Due to the light weight of the fabric we chose to line the skirt as well as the bodice. The ties around the arm are finished with a slip stitch and the hem of the top fabric hand finished with a herringbone stitch.
Jenna Dress with collar
We made the Jenna Dress with collar we made in a light woven cotton that was purchased from a fabric store in Paris. A playful confetti coloured print was the perfect modern choice for a vintage inspired style dress.
The collar and cuffs are fused with interfacing and the bodice was lined with pongee lining a softer finish than using bem silk.
The photos of the finished dresses were taken at the Vault sculpture that is in the forecourt of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank Melbourne. You can find out more about the sculpture on the ABC website here.