Those who have been following us for a while will know our family loves an opportunity for matching outfits. There is no better opportunity than Stakes Day! This year we went with a striped fabric that Erin sourced from DK Fabrics in Adelaide. If you are in the area and looking for fabric stores check out her Must Visit Fabrics Store in South Australia blog.
Lauren and Erin’s Outfit
For our stakes day outfits, we chose patterns with panelled sections so we could play with the direction of the stripes in the fabric.
Lauren wore Vogue 9357 which is designed by Carlos at Vogue Patterns. We took the band out of the waistband as we didn’t need the extra panel or else it became too busy with all of the stripes. We utilised the front seam and cut the panel on a 45-degree angle and matched the stripes up the middle when it was stitched together (a nervous but rewarding moment)
Erin created a striped version of the Vicki Sews Lorraine bodice and added a gathered skirt with a horizontal band around the hem. The hem panel was the width of the crinoline we had on hand, we like adding crinoline into the hems of some of the dresses to give a fuller hem to some light fabrics.
Robyn and Davids’s Outfit
We don’t often have the opportunity to share what we sew for our parents, but after ourselves, they are the people we sew for the most!
With all of these garments, we were looking for a chance to showcase the panelling with the stripes of the fabric. For Mum, we returned to Vogue 1312 which is a pattern we had made for her in a light blue textured linen we love the bottom band and then insert the chance to cut it with the stripe going around meeting an up and down of the bodice running into the skirt was a great combination.
We love making Dad a matching shirt but for this occasion, he wanted to wear a tie so we created a self-drafted, Two Sewing Sisters tie that he could wear with tan chinos and a white shirt. The weather was surprisingly cool and we had just finished making him Simplicity 9191 in blue wool which we quilted.
We had the honour to be invited to attend the Cup Eve Reception at Government House this year. Lauren was invited as President of Millinery Australia and showcased a piece of millinery as she was a finalist in the 2022 Millinery Australia Design Award. This celebration called for a new outfit and we hit the fabric stash to find something special.
When Mum and Dad were travelling near Darwin they found Injalak Arts which is an Aboriginal-owned organisation with the community at its heart, that strives to deliver positive social, economic and cultural outcomes for all involved. They produce beautiful unique hand screen-printed designs on the fabric in their workshop in Gunbalanya.
Mum and Dad selected a piece of fabric for each of us and we were waiting for a special event to use this fabric. Erin found the stunning gold screen printed Dupion which she decided to use for this event. As the fabric has a great structure and we wanted the print to be the hero of the garment so she used Vogue 1732 with an A-line all-in-one bodice and large statement sleeves.
Erin paired the dress with a matching clutch from the same fabric also purchased at Injalak Arts, black shoes and a black headband made by Lauren.
Lauren wanted to create an outfit that would compliment the stunning print of Erin’s gold silk and show respect for the design. We came across this blue crepe fabric with a water-like print. When looking for a pattern for this fabric, Lauren looked back on some previous makes and loved the line of a red floral jumpsuit we had made a few years ago that combined the bodice of Butterick 6410 with a pant to create a jumpsuit. For this combo we used Vogue 1647 as it has a wide leg but flat front to make the most of the fabric.
To show off the design lines of the patterns we inserted black piping around the collar edge and horizontal bodice seam. In-seam pockets are a must and remove the need to carry anything and Erin was inspired to continue the piping theme and inserted it into the side seam as well. A tricky conquest given the pocket as well.
Lauren paired the dress with taupe and black piped shoes and a black riding-style hat she made.
This dress started with a moment of Erin say, “Loz, I’ve had a vision”. Which usually results in a great feat of sewing marvel and a hopefully incredible outcome.
There were two key inspirations for this dress:
(1) So many scraps left over from 2019! When Erin made the hexagon quilted dress in 2019, we thought “surely this will use up all of our black and white fabric scraps” – only not only did it not use up all of the scraps, we’ve created more scarps over the past two years. See more about the 2019 hexagon dress here.
(2) @fromcarlyb reel of scrap busting by making your own textile
(and yes, for those who followed along the hexagon dress for two years this was done in time)
We created this fabric by marking out the shape of the pattern pieces on a base of a white upcycled sheet as a base, arranged the scraps which was then sandwiched with two layers and tulle and stitched into place. Enter the industry sewing machine for this quilting step. Once each piece was “quilted” we cut the piece back to the pattern piece shape and constructed the dress.
The features of this dress included a band across the bust and in seam zipper pockets.
In July we headed to Melbourne Frocktails! We have seen this wonderful event for several years but this is the first time we got tickets. Melbourne Frockails is an annual cocktail party for people who enjoy sewing their own garments so the stakes are high for the dress code. Obviously, me-made is a must!
The brief was “Sew your finest outfit, and come to chit-chat to sewing peeps from near and far, over cocktails and canapes.” Th event was hosted at The Bank on Collins Street in the heart of Melbourne. Eliza joined us for the event creating a stunning version of By Hand London’s Anna dress in dark green velvet.
Lauren’s Frocktails Dress
We started this dress in 2019 for an event but didn’t get it finished in time – so it got its first outing for this event. I wanted to create something whimsical with a maroon striped lace I had found a Darn Cheap Fabrics and the vision became creating a “maroon fairy”. I was particularly inspired by Needle and Thread dresses with the light lace in gathered ruffles. I had been collecting some images on our Pinterest Board to bring together the concept.
The Pinterest Board
Once I had picked some elements to focus on I started with the bodice of New Look 6494. I liked the rounded bodice detail and sleeves. To test the design lines I took the line drawing from the pattern, which you can just see a faint line of in the sketch and overlaid the additional ruffles.
I wanted to create a soft neckline so I opened up the neckline line and added some gathering into the pattern piece then I used these stand collar pattern piece back to front and added a ruffle at the top edge.
The skirt was formed with three gathered tiers onto a poplin backing (thank you gathering foot, you lifesaver). I wanted to make sure the backing material was not too heavy and take away from the light characteristics of the lace.
The bodice was constructed with the lace basted on a matching poplin which was then treated as one fabric and bagged out with an interfaced support that included boning.
The finished dress
Erin’s Frocktails Dress
Having created many amazing formal dresses for events across the last few years Erin pulled out a favourite that she originally made for the Women in Law Awards when she was nominated for Law Student of the Year. The pattern is Vogue 9343 and we altered the bust to allow for an overlap of the bodice pieces. It is constructed in a printed taffeta weight fabric that was sourced from Darn Cheap Fabrics.
Photographer: James Christie Headpieces: Lauren J Ritchie Millinery Erin and Lauren’s Dress: Fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics Lauren’s Bodice Pattern: New Look 6494 Erin’s Dress Pattern: Vogue 9343 Eliza’s Dress Pattern: By Hand London Anna Eliza’s Fabric: Spotlight
When Maaike from MaaiDesign contacted us to see if we’d like to collaborate on a project, we couldn’t respond fast enough!
MaaiDesigns is located locally in Bright, Victoria, just near where we grew up! Operating online Maaike and her team distribute a beautiful selection of fabrics from beautiful North East Victoria to wherever you are!
Maaike started her business with a goal “I had visions of colour, prints and styles that were unique, fun and a joy to wear” and a mission to offer her customers the ability to make unique garments for themselves and their families. We think she has very much achieved this brief!
The fabric, which is made in Turkey, is 150cm wide and made from 80% LENZING™ ECOVERO™ Viscose and 20% Linen.
Due to the fibre content, it is highly recommended to pre-wash the fabric as it has a shrinkage of 2-5%. It is machine washable at 30°C (medium spin) – which is also the temperature we prewashed the fabric!
The print on the fabric is a stunning large-scale brush stroke print on a natural white base. This fabric drapes beautifully, is slightly textured and is divine to wear. It is slightly heavier than a classic viscose fabric.
This fabric is oeko-tex certified as it is a ECOVERO™ Viscose which is a wonderful bonus for the already fabulous fabric!
Fun fact: “ECOVERO™ Viscose fibers are a sustainably certified viscose fiber. It’s made of pulp from wood that derives only from certified and controlled wood sources. The production of ECOVERO™ Viscose only requires half the water compared to regular viscose production, and the CO2 emissions and use of energy is also halved, compared to conventional viscose production“.
Since we started doing this, Schultzapparel has now released the Ottilia Dress pattern, which actually is basically a pattern of this hack!
For the sleeves, we used the full-length Minna sleeve piece that has gathering in the head of the sleeve and into the cuff.
Construction of our MaaiDesign Collaboration
As this was a viscose fabric there is movement in the fabric which can become difficult to cut if you are not careful. To begin the cutting process we carefully laid out the fabric, folding it right sides together on a flat surface. From there, our goal was not to move the fabric but pin the pattern pieces on carefully and cut around each piece ensuring that markings on the pattern were captured.
For the bottom of the waist darts in the bodice, we did a small snip, just under 1cm long. The seam allowance of this pattern is 2cm so this small snip is not seen in the finished garment.
A classic mistake we make when sewing a wrap dress is either forgetting to leave a gap in the side seam for the ‘wrap strap’ or putting it on the incorrect side. To avoid these mistakes, we lay out the fabric pieces as if we will sew them together (as shown in the picture) and read the instructions carefully.
To keep this garment light and airy once finished we used a bias finish around the neck edge. With the light-coloured background of the fabric, we used a white bias so that it would not be visible once finished.
In the past we have tried doing a full lining of this Ottilia Top pattern – however, the fabric was heavy, and it meant the wrap bodice didn’t sit well. Our preference is to do the facing or bias now when we make this pattern, but it would depend on the fabric choice!
As the rayon is quite delicate and any hand sewn stitches, no matter how small, would be visible, we decided that by using a matching thread, we would top stitch the bias and hem of the dress.
When it came time to hem the dress, we overclocked around all three sides – as it is a wrap dress we needed to hem the ‘side edges’ of the hem as well.
As we started to press the hem up, we realised it would be a much better finish to the dress if we did a double-rolled hem. That way, if the wind catches the full skirt or the wrap of the skirt shows the underside, it was as pretty as could be!
You don’t need to overlock the edge of the fabric if you are going to double roll the hem, but given we had already done so there is no harm in keeping it there.
The photo shows the first narrow fold of the held (with the overlocked edge) followed by the slightly wider second fold. We then top stitched, however, if you wanted, you could also hand stitch to provide an even cleaner finish.
Sleeve length band
The Minna pattern has a full-length sleeve. The pattern is drafted to have a cuff that the fullness of the sleeve gathers into. To allow for flexibility when wearing the dress we have inserted elastic into the hem of the sleeve instead. To do this we did not cut the cuff piece, instead finished the raw edge with overclocking and folded over the fabric to create a self-casing, leaving a small gap in the stitching we pull the elastic through using a safety pin, joined the elastic into a loop and then closed up the remaining section of the casing. This method is very similar as inserting elastic in the waist of a pair of pyjama pants.
In this fluid moving fabric, the shape of the sleeve allow it to bello and loved the opportunity to sit in the fullness of the gathering. Using the elastic means that it can sit at different positions on the arm.
As a sewist, no holiday is complete without visiting the local Fabric Stores!
On our recent road trip around South Australia, including the Barossa, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Adelaide, we visited some amazing fabric stores we wanted to share with you!
We visited South Australia on our Operation Tiny House New Years’ Eve for the 2019-2020 New Year’s Eve (see our matching outfits from our New Year’s Eve Trip here), so we had a couple of favourites to visit again and some new ones to try!
DK Fabrics is a wonderland of fabrics! From dance fabrics to evening wear to cotton – it has such a diverse range of fabrics.
If you are looking for a bargain, there are some discounted fabrics for about $3.00. In contrast, if you are looking for more expensive fabrics like lace, sequins or satin, DK Fabric’s also has you covered.
This store has become a favourite to visit every time we come to South Australia!
Ferrier Fashion Fabrics reminds us of the fabric stores we used to visit with our Nan as children. It feels like you are walking into a treasure trove of a carefully picked collection of fabrics in a family-owned business.
This fabric store is filled with great quality and beautiful fabrics, whether you are looking for premium daywear, knit fabric or evening fabrics.
We were so excited when Nerida Hansen approached us to be guest sewing ambassadors to celebrate this new fabric collection in collaboration with Australian designer and artist Rachelle Holowko from Pattern and Design.
The fabric prints and colours are so beautiful, it was wonderful to sew these two projects!
For these projects, we used three of the Nerida Hansen and Rachelle Holowko collection fabrics.
The first fabric was the Bold Gingham by Nerida Hansen, which we used for the culottes.
The second fabric was the Carina fabric in navy by Rachelle Holowko which we used for the Cuff Sleeve Top.
The third fabric was the Manifesto fabric in wine by Rachelle Holowko which we used for the jumpsuit.
All of the fabrics were the Tencel Linen. We haven’t sewn with Tencel very much before. It has a wonderful drape and silky feel even though it is a medium-weight fabric.
Tencel is a natural fibre made from wood pulp, which is blended with a small amount of linen for these fabrics.
Project 1 – Nerida Hansen Culottes
For this outfit, we really wanted to contrast the pretty floral with a bold contrast fabric for the pants. The ‘Bold Gingham fabric has the perfect scale of print for pants and balances the large floral of the top. We don’t usually pair different prints together – so this was a great project to challenge our style!
This was our first time sewing with Nerida Hansen. The cuffs sleeve top and culottes are both simple but effective designs that allow the fabric to be the feature! The patterns are great staple pieces that would be perfect for new sewists looking to expand these skills or for seasoned sewists looking for classic designs to add to their collection.
In particular, we loved that the culottes pattern has a flat front band even though it has an elastic back.
Note: We sized down in the top as we wanted the top to be more fitted than the finished garment measurement indicated on the pattern.
We had the honour of being a guest of Louise Sherry’s Australia Sews Podcast. The podcast celebrates the Australian home sewing community with stories from everyday sewers transforming their lives and their wardrobes.
We got to tell some tales of some of our favourite makes and how we live together, sew together, sew each other’s clothes and bounce off each other for creative ideas on what to sew next. It usually comes as a vision that you will hear about in the episode. Sometimes quite an ambitious one.
Each year during Law School Erin we created a new dress for the Deakin Law Ball. This pale blue silk each flower on the overskirt is individually made and stitched on (…yes, it did take some time) and we talk about the inspiration and process for making this stunning dress.
Metallic quilted puffer jacket with fabric from Minerva
Living in Melbourne, puffer jackets are commonly worn everywhere. To the local market, at a cafe or on a morning walk – puffer jackets can be seen everywhere! Typically people wear black puffer jackets. When we saw this Metallic Quilted Coating Fabric on Minerva we thought, why not embrace the Melbourne puffer jacket style but with a fun metallic twist.
Frocktails dresses made from Spoonflower fabric with illustrations by Alexandra Nea
We first met the talented Alexandra Nea through Frocktober, first as a fellow frocker and then through her work with the OCRF creating the stunning frocktober girl illustrations.
With Alex’s blessing to use the frocktober girl illustrations we set to work creating the fabric print. It was important to consider the scale and spacing of the sketches so the formatting showcased them. Lauren created the fabric repeat in Photoshop and used the colour splashes thanks to the OCRF.
We continued 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. This year we used a red background printed Liberty Cotton to create our festive outfits.
Do you have a design inspiration sitting on a Pinterest Board that you just haven’t got to make yet? That was this dress. I thought the time might have passed, the shape of the bodice, the common nickname of the handkerchief hem. You might have said I missed the timing if I described the vision to you. But then! It all came together.
This started with a rummage through the stash and we found this amazing fabric! It was a piece we had got at Darn Cheap Fabrics when they had the Port Melbourne store.
At the time we were looking for fabric for Oaks Day and found an amazing green fabric which was just what we were looking for. But this fabric kept calling to me. So Erin convinced me to get 4 meters and it will be perfect for something one day.
This was the day! Nothing was more perfect for my 30th birthday dress than purple checks.
Next was to head to the Pinterest board to see which inspiration photos would come together to compliment this fabric.
The Pinterest Board
These were the key images that inspired the final design. The upwards-shaped bodice was a lovely design line and then I saw Anne Hathaway wearing a stunning pink Valentino number at Cannes and was sold on the shape!
For the skirt I really wanted to showcase the square geometric design of the fabric. While we love a full shirt, gathers felt it would distort the lines and a circle skirt cut through the strong lines of the pattern. When I found the image of the last skirt it showcased both a full skirt and would show off the lines of the fabric.
To create the off-the-shoulder pattern I started with Butterick 6129 a combination of the standard bodice with sleeve A but without the pleated sleeve.
After testing the bodice to check the size I made a few changes such as combining the side panels into one (this helped with the pattern matching) and adjusting the front bodice neckline.
With such a dominant line pattern matching was essential. Setting the fabric up with a strong line on the fold for the centre front and then the horizontal lines matching up at the selvedge it was ready for pattern piece placement.
Joining the side bodice together into one meant that the panel could be placed on the bias. It created such an exciting feature! To help prevents movement in the fabric I fused the side panel with interfacing.
For the construction of the dress, I used a drill cotton lining. The pieces were block fused with boning in the seams.
The finished dress
Some Me Made Outfits
Dad wore a Lauren J Ritchie Millinery hat which he paired with a red silk tie.
We were invited by Chut Charlotte to stitch up a version of the Obsession pattern . This classic style pattern is a feminine button-front shirt. It has multiple collar options that include Peter Pan, Victorian or Mao collars. The full-length sleeve has a set-in sleeve head and plaquette detail that goes into the button cuff.
The shirt can be made in cotton, viscose, crepe, double gauze. We chose a texture blue crepe style fabric.
For fabric that is 140cm wide it needs approximately 2 meters of fabric, 10 buttons and lightweight woven interfacings to support the collar and cuffs.
Our Obsession Blouse
For our version of the blouse, we chose the short Victorian Collar and cuffs with the ruffle to match the other ruffle throughout the style. We have styled it here with black tapered leg pants, brogue shoes and matching blue earrings. This styling played into the masculine style button through style of the top that is contrasted by the soft feminine ruffles.
Details of Chut Charlotte’s Obsession
The ruffles are created by folding a long rectangle with right sides together. The end was closed then turned through. Press from the right side and put a gathering stitch along the raw edge.
The ruffle was then pulled up using the gathering stitch to fit the length of the cuff and sandwiched in between the layers.
A key feature of this top, which caught our eye was the ruffle feature throughout the elements of the top.
The pattern pieces are drafted to have an asymmetrical front with the left side split into two above the bust to include this sweet ruffle feature.
The sleeve has a small amount of gathering into the cuff creating a softness to the finish and compliments the folded ruffle edge near the hand.
With different style collar options available as part of this pattern we chose to use the short ruffle collar. This style of collar matched the ruffle detail throughout the rest of the top. The short stand of the collar (which is also the Peter Pan version) sat well in this fabric once the light woven interfacing was applied.
Photographer: James Christie Model: Lauren Ritchie Dress Pattern: Obsession by Chut Charlotte