Senna Dress made with vintage equipment

When we helped Schultz Apparel test the Senna Dress we were in a lockdown away from our normal machines so we took on the challenge of stitching the dress in a different way. We would normally use our industrial sewing machine or electric domestic Bernina machine then finish our seams using an overlocker. None of this was an option so we scouted our parent’s house to see what we could find.

Senna Dress

The Senna dress is fitted around the bust and loose at the waist. It features a pleated skirt and tie at the center back and waist.

This is a simple beginner-friendly pattern with no fastening just the self-made ties.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

We found our Nan’s old Vintage Singer Sewing Machine which is a 306K Model, it has an electric foot pedal and is still working. This was Nan’s first electric sewing machine which would have been purchased in Echuca around 1956 when our grandparents lived in Gunbower. It has made many dresses for our family as has many machines since but this one is lucky enough to still be with us.

In terms of using the machine, it takes some work to get it moving and sometimes required to hand roll the wheel for the first stitch but once moving it stitched really well. The reserve as expected on a machine of this age is a manual leaver which needed to be moved to the reverse position and then back to the forward stitch length position.

Once we had tested the sewing machine worked our next challenge was deciding how to finish the seams. There were a few options including making bias from old sheets but we chose to go with pinking shears which seem appropriate considering the machine we were also using.

Pinking Shears

Before overlockers were available for the domestic market home sewers had to use alternative methods to finish the inside of their garments. Having said this, an overlocker is not essential to have. If you are just starting sewing it can be a large cost and you should not feel the pressure to purchase one, you can find many other ways to finish your seams including bias, zigzag or pinking shears.

Pinking sheers look like a heavier pair of scissors with a sawtoothed instead of straight blades and cut the fabric to have a zigzag edge. This prevents the woven fabric from fraying with the short diagonal cuts of the zigzag that do not provide any long fibres on the edge to get caught or damage and pull their full length. There are few seams in the Senna Dress

Using the selvedge

As we needed the full width of our cotton fabric for the skirt pieces we were to cut across the width of the fabric and we used the already existing selvedges as the finish for our seams. Cheating? Maybe but also using the resources we had on hand, it is an already finished seam and it did not affect the overall finish of the dress

Double Rolled Hem

For the hem of the dress, we created a wide double rolled hem, pressing the material over 1cm and then 4cm. We were able to have such a deep hem because the overall shape of the skirt piece is rectangular meaning that we could work on the straight grain of the fabric.

Finished Zebra Stripes

The Senna dress is simple garment to construct the instructions provided by Schultz Apparel are clever and could be described as the path of least resistant show by the order the all in one neck facing is finished around the neck and armholes.  Always winning points with us the instuctions include understanding in all the good places.

With no fastenings required is a great pattern for beginner sewers to create yourself an easy to wear Summer number. 

Photography Notes

Photographer: Erin Ritchie
Model: Lauren Ritchie
Dress Pattern: Senna Dress by Schultz Apparel

Other Schultz Apparel patterns we have made include Ottlia Top, Begonia Dress and Minna Dress

Minerva Makes

Two Sewing Sisters are proud to be Brand Ambassadors for Minerva.  Fabric for the projects featured in this blog has been provided by Minerva.  The pattern selection, design and photography is taken by Two Sewing Sisters

Floral Pajama’s

Over the last year, we have made a few sets of PJs from the McCalls Sewing Pattern 8056 pattern. The pattern has so many variables to mix and match to create your sleepwear set. For this project, I used the longer dressing gown, view B. I wanted to create a nighty that was light and floaty to wear underneath. This led me to explore our pattern collection and I came across our copy of the Ashton Top by Helen’s Closet Patterns.

For my fabric, we wanted something light and explored the Poplins selection on Minerva. This floral Art Gallery Fabric caught my eye in the Manhattans Glitz colourway. We loved the magenta-purple flowers with contrasting hues of aqua green and orange against a dark background. See more about this make here.

Red Plaid

What a fabulous check. This Polyester Viscose Suiting Fabric Black Red Grey has a bold pattern, complemented by an intense colour combination of black, grey and red. It was screaming to be made into a dress for work.

The challenge to constructing Butterick 5851 is the underarm gusset. Gussets provide a little extra room to enlarge certain areas of garments. In a pattern like Butterick 5851, the bodice and sleeve are in one piece and cut on the cross. So the gusset adds some extra space for the sleeve and arm movement. You may be thinking – wait, that isn’t the skirt to Butterick 5851? You are right. It is in fact our FAVOURITE skirt pattern, Vogue 1743.  Check out the pieced sleeve head! See more about this make here.

Edith Smock

The navy colourway of this poplin has white, lavender and coral paisley shaped repeated paisley shapes. The fabric is 112cm wide and is made from 100% Cotton.

The Edith Smock is a zero-waste design with all the pieces interlocking and cut from a rectangle of fabric. Traditional pattern making has a lot of curves and abstract shapes that do not interlock very easily from a Zero Waste perspective. For the Edith Smock Pattern Union has created there is a clever approach to forming the shapes we need to fit our bodies. Check out the pieced sleeve head! See more about this make here.

Black Crepe Floral

This beautiful black floral polyester crepe features a white floral design with dark red features and a green leaf pattern. The fabric is 150cm wide with no stretch for this 100% polyester crepe. This fabric was easy to work as was easy to stitch with a new shape needle to prevent any pulls. For a crepe fabric, it held its shape well when pressed.

When Vogue 1633 was released I loved the line of the dress.  A fitted waist with an A-line skirt and large statement sleeves.  The stand collar allowed to fall into the drape of the fabric was a nice detail.  The closure of the dress is a zipper at the centre back.  Instead of the recommended press studs, I used vintage buttons with an elastic loop for the closure at the sleeve cuff and neckband.  See more about this make here.

Ruby Brocade

Our most recent project has been working with this stunning ruby and taupe brocade with a metallic feature through it.  This woven fabric is 94% Polyester, 6% Metallic and part of the deadstock range stocked by Minerva. The Marta dress is the latest pattern release from Schultz Apparel.  For our version we selected the style that has a fitted bodice with a beautiful square neckline and straight skirt that features a split to above the knee.  The full-length sleeves have a small amount of gathering in the head of the sleeve and bellow around the forearm before coming in at the wrist. See more about this make here.

Blue Everest Coat

Once Erin saw this bright blue wool, she knew it was time to tackle her sewing ‘Everest’. Blue is one of her favourite colours to wear. The yellow and white line through the fabric breaks up the bold colour and provides a vibrant texture to the fabric. We decided to make the fabric into Butterick 5966. It has a flattering fit and flare shape and is fully lined. The pattern did have its complexities with side pockets, two-piece sleeve and fly button closing.  See more about this make here.

Schultz Apparel Paisley Dress

For this mash up of Schultz Apparel patterns, Lauren used this stunning Navy Paisley Cotton Poplin Fabric. She really wanted to use the wrap bodice from the Ottilia pattern, it has a great cross over because it does not sit too open with bust darts and long waist ties. We love the long Minna sleeve! The fullness is fantastic with gathering at the sleeve head and into the wrist. For this version, Lauren used elastic around the wrist and created a stitched casing. For the skirt, by selecting to start with 3.5m it meant she could do a tiered gathered skirt. The bottom tier contained 3 times the width of the fabric the top tier was twice the width. This was then gathered into the waist of the bodice. See more about this make here.

Navy Floral Fit and Flare

Hunting through the pattern box, Erin came across Vogue Pattern 1743. She was attracted to this pattern by the large external pockets cut on the bias, complemented with a flared skirt (that wasn’t circular or gathered, which is also perfect for work!). We have no doubt this dress is the first of many Vogue 1743 skirt and pocket combinations Erin will make for work! Paired with Butterick 6410 it was the perfect combination for this navy floral polished cotton. See more about this make here.

Tear Drop Atlas Top

It felt like time for a fun causal top in our make list and this Camelot Fabrics Cotton Poplin Fabric Navy was perfect! We have made the Atlas Top from Stitch Witch Patterns before (see here) and really loved the detail in the style. It is also a quick and easy pattern to sew together with no fastenings. See more about this make here.

Navy Jacquard

For this make, we used Woven Jacquard Fabric Navy with Simplicity 8594, which we have made before and loved the style. The pattern has two bodice options a crewneck with slit and raglan sleeve or a more open halter style. The skirt can be made in straight or flared style and has pockets in the side seam (yes pockets!). See more about this make here.

Floral Wrap Dress

This Lady McElroy, Marlie Cotton Lawn Fabric is light and breathable, perfect for a summer dress. Initially, we planned to make a vintage summer dress with a fitted bodice and a very full skirt. Once the fabric arrived, we changed our mind and decided to make McCalls Sewing Pattern 8036 instead. We wanted to make sure the pattern of the fabric was allowed to shine and not be overshadowed by a more complex bodice or the density of a very full skirt. See more about this make here.

Striped Vogue Skirt

When we saw the Stretch Suiting Fabric, we knew it would be perfect! The double line of a solid and dotted line combination within the fabric, provided a wonderful texture to the material while also providing the feature we were looking for in more subtle contrast. The rich plum colour provided a sophisticated colour, that wasn’t the classic black and white stripe combination.

We have had #vogue1683 sitting in the pattern tub waiting to find the perfect fabric. We paired the skirt with a matching top, adapted from the bodice of #butterick6556. See more about this make here.

 Printed Linen Viscose

As soon as Lauren saw this Linen Viscose Blend Fabric Sage Green she knew what she wanted to make. A new pattern from McCalls called Sasha, pattern number 8036. The variation Lauren made had the Asymmetrical button feature, shoulder bodice tucks, above elbow length sleeves featuring darts in the sleeve head with an A line skirt that finishes below the knee. See more about this make here.

 Fleur-de-lis Blue Printed Cotton

The Copen shade of blue was a beautiful balance of the colourway with the lightly washed blue providing a contrast to the white pattern. For this project, I was itching to make a shirt dress of some variety. Lauren loves a shirt dress! We find them a great style for work as they have a professional appearing with the button detail and collar but keep a feminine style with a skirt. Lauren had been wanting to make Butterick 6090 for quite a while with a love for the detail around the neck and the elbow length sleeve had to create balance to the pleated style skirt for those cooler Spring days. See more about this make here.

Red Floral Jumpsuit

When we spotted this vibrant red background, with white and black abstract floral pattern on the Minerva website it reminded us of one of our favourite dresses we had purchased many years ago. We started to think about how we could take this stretched polish cotton and create a similar feel.

For the pattern, we hacked together the bodice of Butterick 6410 and jumpsuit pants from Vogue 9075. We had made the jumpsuit before and loved the style and fit of the pattern. However, we really wanted to add a collar to the jumpsuit. While we could have tried to attach a collar to the existing neckline, we decided to swap out the bodice pattern altogether. Instead, we used the bodice of Butterick 6410 which also meant that we were able to include the horizontal design feature across the bodice. See more about this make here.

Christmas Outfits of 2020

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.

Photography Notes of Christmas Outfits

Photographer: James Christie
Dress Fabric: Christmas Wombats by Jocelyn Proust
Patterns:
Erin – Schultz Apparel Ottilia Top hacked into a dress
Lauren – By Hand London Flora Dress
Robyn – Vogue 1511
David and James – McCalls 6044
Headbands: Lauren J Ritchie Millinery

Ottilia Top - Schultz Apparel - Two Sewing Sisters

Ottilia Top from Schultz Apparel

We watched Schultz Apparel tease us with fun tops.  Sharing them to her socials, they were adorable!  We know we declared our top phase had come to a close and it was going to be dresses for a while. But then the Ottilia Top appeared.  It has all the great features of a Schultz Apparel Pattern; amazing sleeves and clever construction.  Usually we are apprehensive about wrap tops due to cup size and it not sitting well around the bust but we were excited to give this pattern a try.

Ottilia Top Details

Ottilia is a short wrap top with short vintage inspired puffy sleeves and an extra-long belt that can be tied multiple times around the waist.

This pattern is suited for light to middleweight woven fabric such as a cotton, linen, viscose, tencel or polyester.

We made it in a green and white striped cotton fabric we found in our stash. We don’t remember where it came from but based on the colours it is likely something Nanny picked and we are lucky enough to be able to stitch it up.

Constructing the Ottilia Top

The instructions are easy to follow to construct this folky style dress. The tiered skirt is constructed by joining together gathered rectangles. Instead of needing to print pieces for the rectangular pieces, Schultz Apparel gives the measurements for the rectangles. saving on printing and cutting time (not to mention the environment through the saved pieces of paper!).

The sleeve is constructed with two layers, the other fuller body and stabilising under layer. Initially we cut both out of the striped fabric but because of how strong the stripe as you could faintly the stripe in the under fabric. We recut the lining in a white cotton so

How to line something that has a facing

You might have heard us say before what a fan we are of lining garments. There are a few reasons for this. It gives it a better finish, less exposed seams inside of the garment. It also means that the pressure is not on the outside fabric to side flush again the body and appear flat. The lining provides some extra structure.

Not all garments are lined, some just have facings. This is still a great way to finish a garment, it provides clean edges and they are shaped pieces that follow the contours of the outer shape, they mimic the outer layer. It might feel rebellious to divert from the instructions, it does take confidence to know where you are heading with the garment but it can definitely be done. Here is a bit of guide as to how we go about it.

Cut all of the pattern piece as the instructions say, all the bodice pieces and facing.

Cut the bodice pieces in your lining fabric – the same as the outside

Stitch the pieces together to create the outer shell, lining and facing.

Finish the edge of the facing. We over lock ours in a matching thread.

Garment Construction for Ottilia Top from Schultz Apparel by Two Sewing Sisters

Attach the facing on top of the lining.

You are looking to create to make two shells; the outside and the lining.

The lining should be right side up with the facing also sitting right side up. Think of them as becoming one.

Garment Construction for Ottilia Top from Schultz Apparel by Two Sewing Sisters

Bag out the lining and the outer shell.

Put the right sides together and stitch around the neck line. Cut back the seam allowance and under stitch.

As this is a top around the hemline.

Leave the armholes open.

Garment Construction for Ottilia Top from Schultz Apparel by Two Sewing Sisters

Pull the bodice right side out through the open arm holes.

It will now look like this.

Garment Construction for Ottilia Top from Schultz Apparel by Two Sewing Sisters

You are back to following the instruction booklet

Finish the sleeves.

The Ottilia has a lined sleeve to help hold the puff shape.

Garment Construction for Ottilia Top from Schultz Apparel by Two Sewing Sisters

Tack the head together using the gathering stitch

Pin the sleeve into place and stitching

Finish around the armhole. We over locked the seam allowance.

This will finish off the garment. Enjoy wearing it!

This is what it looks like inside out.

Finished Ottilia Top

The Ottilia Top absolutely lived up to the dream! Can we say again how good Schultz Apparel sleeves are? 

The top is easy to put on, again no fastenings.  The wrap fits through a key hole provided in the instructions.  The fit is great, our worry about wrap tops and dresses was not needed here.  We made an elastic waisted skirt with ruffle to wear with it.  

For us the next time we make it we will lengthen it around 3cm so it reaches the waist.  It gives us the option to be able to wear it work.  Don’t get us wrong, we love the striped version!  But it is more casual than what we could wear to the office.  

If you have been feeling inspired by the Minna or Begonia how about a hybrid? It is definitely going on our make list.  Check out Schultz Apparel mash up on her Instagram.  

Photography Notes

Photographer: Erin Ritchie
Model: Lauren Ritchie
Pattern: Ottilia Top by Schultz Apparel
Fabric: Nanny’s Fabric Stash

Who knows what we were laughing about but it was great.

Begonia by Schultz Apparel in Fabric Hoarders Micro Dots

We were really excited when we finished our Minna dress for Schultz Apparel that is had such a great sleeve, and then we saw the Begonia!  Another great sleeve again!  Thank you for Schultz Apparel for including us in the testing team for this new style. 

Begonia Dress Details

Begonia by Schultz Apparel in Fabric Hoarders Polka Dots

The Begonia style has a top and dress option. They are a loose fit, with a V-neck at the front and a deep V-neck with gathering at the back. The optional belt pulls the waist create the fitted silhouette and highlights the two tiered ruffled skirt. The silhouette is balanced with a short puffy sleeve.

Begonia by Schultz Apparel in Fabric Hoarders Polka Dots

This pattern is suited for light to middleweight woven fabric such as a cotton, linen, viscose, tencel or polyester.

We made the dress version with the v neck back from the top style as we wanted a easy to wear style and not worry about bra lines being seen.

Micro Dots in Burgundy from Fabric Hoarders

Fabric Hoarders is a small independent fabrics stores based in Echuca which is a small town on the Murray River in North Victoria. They have a wonderful range of cotton and liberty fabrics in their online store. We have partnered with Fabric Hoarders and its business owner Leanne to share with you their great selection of fabric.

For the Begonia dress we chose to use a burgundy and white cotton from the Micro Dots range. It is a sweet print with a repetition of the small white dot.

The fabric print is available in a rainbow of colours on the Fabric Hoarders website and is purchased in 25cm increments.

Check out the cutting video to see how great is to snip and tear this cotton woven fabric.

Constructing the Begonia Dress

Begonia by Schultz Apparel in Fabric Hoarders Polka Dots

The instructions are easy to follow to construct this folky style dress. The tiered skirt is constructed by joining together gathered rectangles. Instead of needing to print pieces for the rectangular pieces, Schultz Apparel gives the measurements for the rectangles. saving on printing and cutting time (not to mention the environment through the saved pieces of paper!).

The sleeve is finished with a double roll hem and the casing for the elastic is made from a bias binding. We folded the ends under and butted them up against each other lining this up with the under arm seam and threaded an elastic through to pull it in around the upper arm.

Finished Begonia Dress

The Begonia dress easily slips over the head and is drawn in at the waist with the tie.  It could be worn either way depending on your own style. The weight of the dotted cotton sits well and holds its shape in the gathered sleeve. 

Constructing this dress was quite easy as it does not have any difficult fastenings such as a button or zipper.  This means it would be great for a beginner sewer. 

Photography Notes

Photographer: Erin Ritchie
Model: Lauren Ritchie
Dress Pattern: Bergonia Pattern by Schultz Apparel
Dress Fabric: Micro Dots – Burgundy from Fabric Hoarders
Earrings by: Meli Clay

Minna Dress by Schultz Apparel

Schultz Apparel has released a stunning new pattern called the Minna Dress.  Their style is strong and feminine designs with features including large sleeves and fitted bodices inspired by vintage designs.  Minna is no exception and she is devine!  We really enjoyed being part of the pattern testing team for this style. 

Minna Dress Details

The Minna Dress has a fitted bodice, statement sleeves that gather into a cuff, and a full skirt. This pattern includes three bodice options, three sleeve options, and three skirt options. The designs can be mixed and matched depending on your style. The design is not lined but uses a facing to finish the neck edge.

The pattern is designed to be made in a woven fabric including cotton, linen and wool.

We made Design A which has a boat neck, buttons at center front, long sleeves and flip cuffs. It has a slightly gathered circle skirt.

The fabric we used was a block wax cotton that Lauren purchased when visiting London. It was from African Queen Fabrics located in the Brixton Markets. You purchase fabric by the piece that comes 120cm wide by 5.5 meters in length. This was the perfect amount for us because of the way we needed to use the pattern placement to make sure the key parts of the printed landed correctly on the pattern pieces. Schultz Apparel do not suggest that you need this much fabric, it is best to check the instructions for their recommendation about the style you make.

Constructing the Minna Dress

The fabric print placement on the cuff

The pattern suggests user an under arm invisible zipper. This is difficult to get in and out of for a garment that has sleeves. The style does not have any detail or collar in the back that would be interrupted by a center back zipper so we opted to do this instead. We hope it will provide a little bit more longevity to the make instead of straining the underarm seams trying to get in and out of an underarm zipper.

This design is not lined and uses a neck facing to finish around the neck and button area. It is a neat finish however we are also working on a version with the flat front which we chose to line the bodice of as the fabric was not as stable. We did this by cutting the same bodice piece in a lining fabric and omitting the facing pieces.

Keep and eye on your seam allowance – it is 2cm for the pattern. If you are use to sewing with other patterns your default might be 1.5cm so make sure to check the instructions in case it varies.

Finished Minna Dress

The Minna dress is such a sweet style.  We really liked the fit of the bodice.  It is easy to wear as even though it has a wider more open neckline there is no need to wear a strapless bra with it as the neckline is really well placed. The instructions are quite good, keep an eye on how to finish the cuff for option A, it is a little difficult to finish the curved split cuff.  The shape of the sleeves is fantastic and provides a strong statement. 

Photography Notes

Photographer: Lauren Ritchie
Model: Erin Ritchie
Dress Pattern: Minna Dress by Schultz Apparel
Dress Fabric: African Queen Fabrics, Brixton, London