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
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. We hope you had a safe and happy festive period with your loved ones.
This year we used a red background printed Liberty Cotton to created our festive outfits.
Lauren and Fergus
The pattern of this Summer for us has been the Zadie Jumpsuit and this shorts version was not expectation. Fergus featured in his first Christmas photos and promises he will practice posing in his Christmas bowties for next year.
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.
This year Mum chose the Tunic style pattern Vogue 9022 for her dress and is planning her winter versions now.
James and Erin
James chose his got to collared shirt pattern McCalls 6044. Erin adapted a vintage Style Pattern top into a dress with a tiered skirt.
Photography Notes of Christmas Outfits
Photographer: James Christie
Dress Fabric: Liberty from Birch
Patterns: James – Simplicity 8427 Erin – Style 3897 Lauren – Paper Theory Zadie Jumpsuit Robyn – Vogue 9022 David – McCalls M6044
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.
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.
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.
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 are taken by Two Sewing Sisters
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 we thought, why not embrace the Melbourne puffer jacket style but with a fun metallic twist.
The 100% Polyester fabric has two layers, the outer metallic layer and a batting layer ‘quilted’ onto the fabric. The pattern we used is McCalls Sewing Pattern 7695. See more about this make here.
Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants and Juno Jacket
The Palisade Pants are one of those patterns we had been watching and seeing many amazing versions of but hadn’t taken the plunge yet. We loved making the Palisade Pants and Juno Jacket as part of the Minerva Sewing Kits.
The sewing kits for the pants and jacket included the sewing pattern, beautiful purple linen fabric and all notions (aka all those pesky parts you have to collect but are absolutely essential for success), interfacing, the perfect width and type of elastic, a new pack of machines for your sewing machine, fun coloured safety pins and the matching Guterman thread. See more about this make here.
Green Rain Jacket
We fell in love with the green leaf print of this fabric as soon as we saw it! As lovers of green, the contrast with the white and black pattern was eye-catching. The canvas fabric is 45% cotton and 55% linen with a vinyl overlay.
The Eden Coat is a fully lined, raglan sleeve rain jacket, with a hood and multiple pocket options. One of the features we loved was the shaped and lined hood. We made the short version, with flat pockets (with pocket flaps), zipper and optional storm flaps. We can’t wait to wear it on many rainy days to come! See more about this make here.
White Floral Poplin
This fabric is just what we needed to kick off our summer wardrobe sewing. The fabric is the Lady McElroy Marlie Cotton Lawn Fabric, a light woven non-stretch 100% cotton fabric. This sweet floral print has a black background and a small repetitive flower pattern with raspberry, lemon and cornflower blue centres.
For this dress, we used the bodice and skirt of the vintage pattern Butterick 5677. It is a semi-fitted design with a below the knee-length hem. The round neckline has a slit at the front that is secured with a button fixture and loop. The sleeves we added to the bodice was the short sleeve version from the vintage dresses pattern Simplicity 8335. It had an additional bit of gathering in the sleeve head which we liked and to keep in line with the finishings on the rest of the garment we also put elastic in the hem. See more about this make here.
Dashwood Studio Zadie
Zadie, ohhh Zadie! With over 10.5 THOUSAND photos of this pattern on the Instagram hashtag, needless to say, it has been on our radar for a while. We finally made one, and we are hooked! Since making this jumpsuit last week, every time we talk about a fabric or a “creative vision” we imagine making a Zadie. The phrase “imagine if we made this into a Zadie” has been used in our household more than seven times this week (… and this isn’t an exaggeration!). See more about this make here.
This fabric is just what we needed to kick off our summer wardrobe sewing. The fabric is the Lady McElroy Marlie Cotton Lawn Fabric. A light woven non stretch 100% cotton fabric. When we first saw this fabric, the bright coloured print of the dress attracted us to the fabric. The vibrant colours of birds and leaves against the navy background were mesmerising in the product photos and even more in real life!
We used Vogue 8347. This vintage Vogue pattern does not have a date, but we guess it is from the late 1980s. After working from home for almost 18 months, comfort is the key motivation in the garments we make. The pattern is a very loose-fitting flared pullover dress. The top of the dress has a self-lined yoke, with buttons creating an opening on one shoulder. See more about this make here.
We are so excited to finish this vintage inspired two piece outfit just in time to wear it before the weather gets too warm!
For the skirt, we used McCalls 5113, with the copyright year of 1976. It is an A-line skirt, with a centre back zipper and pointed patch pockets. The front skirt panels are cut on the cross of the fabric, allowing the check of the fabric to sing proud as a feature, as the 45-degree angles of the check line up down the centre front seam.
For the top, we used Butterick 3289, with the copyright year of 1985. The top is loose-fitting with dropped shoulders and ¾ sleeves. The pattern originally had buttons down the centre back. However, we really wanted the top to have an open-end zipper to make it easy to get on and off.
We used the Stretch Woven Suiting Fabric in Pink & Red. The grey background provides a solid base to allow the red, maroon and bright pink lines to pop. These vibrant colours allow for wonderful mixing and matching with other tops, skirts and pants. See more about this make here.
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.
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.
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.
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 a 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.
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.
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.