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 is taken by Two Sewing Sisters
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 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.
Welcome to our top making phase! We are great dress lovers but have been trying to fill some gaps in our wardrobe recently. After creating quite a few Summer tops (in the middle of winter) we began to explore what options are available for some comfy winter styles.
We are not big sewers of knits but when Stay and Stitch did a call out for pattern testers for their new design we were excited to give it a go and loved it.
Solace Top Details
The Solace Top has a funnel neck with an option to cut out the back piece on the fold or place a center back seam in it. This cutting option allows for more flexability if limited by fabric layout.
The hem has two options a curved or straight finished, both which have a side split detail.
We really loved the neck shape of this style, Stay and Stitch described it as a mock turtle or funnel neck. To help showcase this feature we chose to construct the top in a jade double knit fabric from our stash.
The pattern was easy to cut out with only three pieces; front, back and sleeve.
We opted for the curved hem to provide a nice line if the top if worn out over a pair of pants.
Constructing the Solace Top
This was an easy pattern to stitch up, the instructions were very good in outlining the process. It is a great pattern for any level of sewer as the instructions would support a beginner or be a quick guide for an advanced seamstress.
We are looking forward to making a few more versions of this top and in particular would love to make it in a textured knit. We styled it here with jeans and a head wrap but would look great tucked into a pair of high waisted pants for a more corporate style.
The Juliet Coat is the latest release from By Hand London. We enjoyed been part of the testing team for this project and partnered with Drapers Fabrics who supplied us with a beautiful wool coating for the project. The Juliet coat is fully lined and features two-piece raglan sleeves, in-seam pockets, a roomy swing shape and the option of a classic notch collar or a softer shawl collar.
Channel your inner Mrs Maisel with this perfectly retro swing coat!
By Hand London
Thank you to Draper Fabrics for partnering with us for this project. They supplied us with the lovely wool and lining for the testing of this pattern. We had a look at their online store which ships from New Zealand to get an idea of they might have available. before we headed into the Fitzroy Store.
We selected a checked blue, grey and cream wool for the outer fabric and a silk twill for the lining
Finished Juliet Coat
This is a PDF pattern which means that you download a PDF file and then need to print it out. Words from the wise – copy shop. Visit your local print shop.
We did the testing for this in the first stages of lockdown of COVID19 so we didn’t feel we should leave the house but if we were to print this lovely coat again it would save so much time to get it printed on A0.
Instead Erin spent a long afternoon with tape and scissors. The other disadvantage of printing at home is that the edge of the pattern pieces fall on tape lines of the A4 pages.
We are big fans of under stitching, big fans! It stops seams from rolling and the underside showing where it shouldn’t. This wasn’t listed in great detail in the instructions. We should suggest under stitching the underside of the collar piece, on the facing from the hem up to the button
If you are nervous about make a coat – don’t be for this one. There are no shoulder pads or complex pocket details to worry about. Essentially make the outer shell, make the lining and stitch the together around the openings (okay there is a little more to it but that is an overview)
Juliet Coat Details
We have been excited to make an Anna Dress since we saw Stitches and Sutures wearing it and it has come one of her favourites. This seemed like a great chance to give it a go. We wanted the coat to have the iconic fitted dress and oversized coat styling. The colours within the coat where specific tones and we found a piece of light wool suiting in our stash to that blended perfectly and did not distract from the stunning coat fabric.
We used the higher neck bodice style of the pattern and as we only had a small amount of fabric replaced the paneled skirt with a straight skirt and back split.
We fully lined the dress in a polyester lining to allow for ease of movement in such a fitted style
We were thrilled to part of the testing team for By Hand London’s latest pattern release, the Jackie Trousers. The Jackie style is a semi tailored loose-fit trouser designed to sit comfortably. They finish just below the natural waist, featuring pleats at the waist, slanted pockets and a gently tapered leg.
Inspired by the easy fit menswear slacks of the nineties, and nodding fondly also to early modern women’s trouser styles of the thirties, these trousers are designed for women, but have proven to look and fit great on men too!
By Hand London
The fabrics suggestions for the Jackie Trousers is medium weight woven fabrics with some body or weighty drape. This includes materials such as wool suiting, wool crepe, tweed, linen and flannel. We chose to visit The Fabric Store and went to their Brunswick Street Store in Fitzroy. While browsing through their stunning selection of fabrics we found a beautiful cotton and silk woven blue fabric that looked perfect for Jackie!
The Finished Jackie Trousers
Finished by Hand London Jackie Trousers with top from Vogue 1466. They were constructed in a Denim coloured Cotton/Silk from The Fabric Store. Modeled by Lauren Ritchie with photographs by Erin Ritchie.
Jackie Trouser Details
The large pocket bags extend to the fly front contributing to the comfy fit of the pants. The key fit for these pants is to make sure the waistband is the right size for you. We cut a UK12 based on the measurements of the finished garment but ended up bringing it in for a snugger waist fit.
The folded up cuff gives a lovely finish to the tapered wider leg of the pant style. We found the length of the testing pattern a little longer than we needed. When you make them ensure to mark the hem in the shoes you intend to wear them with.
We had the exciting task of testing the new release pattern from By Hand London. The new style is called the Jenna Dress. A fitted bodice with darts paired with an empire line dress with a bias cut skirt.
The first options includes a scooped neck and ties on the sleeves, the second a peterpan collar with longer sleeve. These options designed so the elements can be swapped around to create you own combination. We made both version of the dress.
We chose to do the at home print. The skirt pattern which is used for both length options is 32 pages and there is separate file for each bodice style. Variation 1 is 16 pages Variation 2 is 18 pages.
They were stuck together with clear tape before we cut it back to size. We chose to cut a size 12/16. See the images for fit.
Jenna Dress with Ties
We made the Jenna Dress with Ties from Houndstooth Patchwork Stretch Silk Crepe De Chine from The Fabric Store. This striking graphic houndstooth print is a combination of Silk and Lycra and is 115cm wide. You can find the fabric in their online store here.
Due to the light weight of the fabric we chose to line the skirt as well as the bodice. The ties around the arm are finished with a slip stitch and the hem of the top fabric hand finished with a herringbone stitch.
Jenna Dress with collar
We made the Jenna Dress with collar we made in a light woven cotton that was purchased from a fabric store in Paris. A playful confetti coloured print was the perfect modern choice for a vintage inspired style dress.
The collar and cuffs are fused with interfacing and the bodice was lined with pongee lining a softer finish than using bem silk.
The photos of the finished dresses were taken at the Vault sculpture that is in the forecourt of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank Melbourne. You can find out more about the sculpture on the ABC website here.
OCRF (Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation) hosted their annual Silver Style event at the Georges Ballroom in St Kilda. The theme was a touch of silver. Inspired by this theme and some fabulous silver shoes the outfit planning started.
Lauren found this striped printed silk at the Hand Made Fair at Hampton Court Palace in London in 2018. Unsure what she wanted to create with it the fabric waited in the wings. When the theme the event was announced it felt like the perfect occassion and coordinated well with a pair or existing silver shoes.
The pattern was selected due to panel pieces that would allow for the stripe in the fabric. Placing the strip in different directions and using a circle skirt achieved this.
Eager to pair the statement Maude bag and glittery Wittner shoes with a Tweed the hunt for the fabric began. We found the beautiful white and blue with silver fleck tweed at Darn Cheap Fabrics in Port Melbourne.
Returning to use a favourite pattern, Vogue 1392 with a circle. The bodice was lined with bem silk and cotton tape place around the neckline to reduce stretching.
Silver Style was a great evening to celebrate the efforts of the OCRF. Every woman, everywhere – free from the threat of Ovarian Cancer. You can donate directly to the cause or find out other way to take part such as Frocktober.
Melbourne Cup is known as ‘the race that stops a nation’. It is hosted on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse. The style of the day is know for its colour; bright and vibrant. Looking to create something that reflect this Lauren was inspired by a dress from designer Roksanda. She collected a few idea on Pinterest to collate the concept.
I liked the idea of creating something like that with the block colour and design lines looked like an exciting challenge.
Using the Roksanda dress as inspiration was a great base but it was important that it wasn’t an exact replication with alterations to the shapes and colours. Having a play with the shapes in illustrator and exploring different colour combinations in fabric stores in Sheppards Bush in London the final design and colour way was set.
Taking on the process of drafting the pattern, Lauren constructed a toile of a basic block to test fit. From this block she created the geometric design lines. The final pattern had over 30 pieces. Each piece of the outer shell had to be cut separately due to the design lines.
The construction took time to ensure the sharp corners were achieved but exact pivots and the dress fully lined. For colour consistency the threads were changed between panels. Such as down the side seam navy was used to join the navy and white thread to join the white section. If all was constructed in the bright blue you might have been able to see a slight fleck of it in the seamline.
The outfit for Royal Ascot all start with the shoes! Irregular Choice shoes to be exact, and aren’t they amazing!?
The dress was made from McCall’s 7279 with a circle skirt added for a softer line to match the delicate lavender lace sourced from Spotlight in Melbourne. Construction involved tacking the lace to the matching poplin backing before stitching the darts of the bodice.
The details of the make included black piping around the cream Peterpan collar and turned up cuffs
The finished look for Royal Ascot was paired with a black Review belt to highlight the piping and worn with a Lauren J Ritchie Lenox Boater.