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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Pull the bodice right side out through the open arm holes.
It will now look like this.
You are back to following the instruction booklet
Finish the sleeves.
The Ottilia has a lined sleeve to help hold the puff shape.
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.
We really enjoy pattern testing, can you tell? It is exciting to see what pattern companies are exploring in their processes. We think it is a great way to sew a range of different designs and support small businesses. We are part of the a few groups on Facebook where there are call outs for pattern testers. These are usually from smaller start up companies but is a great way to see what is being developed.
A few weeks ago, in the Sewing Pattern Testing Group, we saw a post from Danielle Tchao asking for interest for Testers for a new pattern company she was with co-founder Vicky Quan called SOLA Patterns. The trade drawings of their designs looked really good, which is something we look for. We feel it means the designer has a good technical understanding and that will be reflected in their pattern drafting and design.
SOLA Patterns was launching a few different designs but we put our hand up to test two of their dress patterns. The first was the Magnolia Dress and the Laurel Dress which we will share shortly.
Magnolia Dress Details
The Magnolia design is a shift style dress with two striking sleeve options. There is the voluminous upper sleeve that tapers to highlight a narrow forearm or a pleated petal sleeve. The bodice has a front bust and diamond dart and it is finished at the back with a center back zipper.
This pattern is designed for woven fabrics with a consideration of how you would like your sleeve to sit. Using thicker fabric for the full length sleeves will create quite a lot of volume which could be a fun effect.
We made both versions to explore the pattern style. This is our petal sleeve version in a mid weight woven cotton.
Liberty Orchard Garden Pheasant Forest from Fabric Hoarders
For this project we teamed up with Fabric Hoarders who supplied us with a delightful Cotton Liberty Print. Fabric Hoarders stock a wide variety of the iconic Liberty Fabrics on their website, check out their range here. Liberty Fabric is such a distinctive style and it was great to get to work with such a beautiful fabric.
This is the Orchard Garden Pheasant Forest in the blue colourway. It is 112cm wide and 100% cotton.
We fully lined the dress with a white lining fabric. As the petal sleeves is shaped we finished the raw edge off using a bias tape on the side of the hem.
The fabric we made the Bergonia Dress was also from Fabric Hoarders, you can see our post about that here.
Constructing the Magnolia Dress
Our preference is to have a more fitted style bodice so we would recommend checking out the ease allowed for in this pattern. SOLA Patterns list this on their website so check your measurements again the amount of ease and how fitted you would like the finished dress to be.
We like to line all of our dresses. It helps the outer fabric to sit smoothly and allows for ease of movement so it can slip across the body. The pattern uses and neck facing, it is still an important pattern piece as it means that a little bit of the outer fabric can be used along the neck edge. This is important because event if under stitched it helps to make sure the lining doesn’t show through to the outside.
Finished Magnolia Dress
The Magnolia dress is a great style, we loved the sleeve options so much that we made both. It sits so well in the cotton fabrics and it could also be made in other wovens.
This year are taking on the challenge of wearing a different Two Sewing Sisters made frock each day in October. If you have followed along on our Frocktober journey before you may recognise some pieces but we look forward to sharing the making details of the frocks with you.
Sophia is in her penulimate year Law at Deakin University. We worked with Sophia to develop the design for her Deakin Law Ball dress for this year. Starting with images Sophia had found we sketched up the design. Speaking with Sophia we wanted to make something that could transform so she could also wear it to the after party. With the tiered skirt this was perfect! A zipper!
Construction of Navy Transforming Dress
The tulle layers of the design were a key feature and the lengths needed to be suite for both the full length look and the shorter zipped version. The trick to this was the length of the lining. The zipper was concealed by the hem of the top layer.
Making a strapless bodice stable is important; the choice of lining, stabilisers, interfacing and boning need to considered. The ink blue velveteen and navy cotton drill fabrics sourced from Spotlight was cut in Vogue 8849 . For this velvet bodice the velvet would not carry the weight but this would be the job of the lining. We chose to create the lining in cotton drill that was interfaced and boned.
Four layers of tulle sourced from Remnant Warehouse made up each tier of the skirt and was gathered onto the cotton drill base. The closure of the dress was a welt zipper at the center back with the tulle skirt loose over the top.
Georgia has studied Law at Deakin University for the last six years. Also with Erin this would be her last Law Ball. We wanted to make her dress something special. We started with some inspiration and Erin’s key criteria for Georgia was she had to choose a colour that wasn’t black.
Construction of Jungle Green Silk Satin Dress
The bodice for Georgia’s dress started with Simplicity 6408 as it had a beautiful back shape and the gathered front seam created the perfect neckline. The skirt needed to be cut on the bias to create the drape and fall Georgia was after so we used Butterick 5710 as the base for this.
Erin and Georgia went on a fabric hunt and found a beautiful jungle green (not black) silk satin at Rathdowne Fabrics in Brunswick.
The design of the dress evolved from the original sketch. We chose to remove the bottom ruffle section and keep the straps travelling straight over the shoulders.
The thin straps were created using the fabric, creating a thin tube. The strap was turned through using a bobkin sewing needle (a needle without a point used for sewing chunky knits).
The dress was constructed to a point that meant Georgia could try it on. At the fitting we decided that fully lining the bodice would be the best course to finish it off. The lining of the bodice was interfaced with whisperweft interfacing. A piece of plastic boning along the side seam position to provide some stability. The skirt side seams were finished with a french seam to provide a neat finish. This reduced any damage that might be cause to the fabric by placing it through an overlocker.
Pattern: Simplicity 6408 and Butterick 5710 Fabric: Jungle green silk satin from Rathdowne Fabrics
When your sister is nominated for National Law Student of the year it calls for a new dress for the occasion. Erin was nominated for the award as part of the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards with the presentation hosted at The Star in Sydney. Mum, Dad and I were lucky to be able to attend the awards.
Looking to show off the stripes of the fabric the detail in the pattern, Simplicity 1651 has a twisted feature and center front panel. This meant the front panel could have the stripes run vertical while the side panel the stripes could sit horizontally and run through the twist.
The skirt is a rectangle that had a series of 16 darts stitched into the waist line before being gathered. The hem was supported by wide width crinoline.
Erin was nominated for Lawyers Weekly Law Student of the Year for 2019. This was the 19th annual Australian Law Awards, it is the pinnacle awards program for the nation’s legal profession, recognising the outstanding work being done across major legal practice areas, brilliance at the bar, legal in-house powerhouses, innovators and various firm-led pro bono programs.
The dress was designed from some inspiration images that we collected on a Pinterest board
The bodice was created using a black drill bodice from Vogue 9124 and was self lined with the drill. For support the lining of the bodice was interfaced and boned with encased plastic boning.
For the skirt the drill layer was cut to be circle that fell to below the knees and flat at the waist. The top gold layer was a six panel circle that was gathered into the waist seam.
The total length of the hem was 11 meters. The drill under layer (3 meters) was finished with overlocking and turned up to encase a black 15cm wide crinoline and the top gold layer was babylocked in black thread (8 meters)
The bows were attached to the dress following the construction and were supported by black crinoline and floating tails.