Project round-up: New Look 6674 wrap dress

You may have noticed some seriously shabby photographs assaulting you on MITYFI. I apologise profusely and promise to treat your precious retinas with more respect. See, I’ve been reduced to cruddy phone snaps because my point ‘n’ shoot packed it in a while back. I’m in the market for a new camera and kindly, my Ma has lent me a DSLR to test out and get a feel for this newfangled film-free SLRing. Anyhoo, I have a backlog of projects I haven’t posted just because I didn’t want to subject you all to more rotten pics.

But lo, with the fancypants camera, I’ve hardly roamed from the auto-everything icon on the dial (I’m calling it the ‘dumbass setting’ ) yet it makes even my scribbled, misspelled pattern alteration notes look arty.


These are the changes I made to New Look 6674 to make it fit. The neck dart and the shoulder narrowing are my usual adjustments to fit my human A-frame construction. I changed the waist (not ‘waste’) shape as a de facto bodice lengthening trick. I also made the front skirt sections much wider. I don’t know why the model looks so smug on the pattern envelope because that nasty tropicale print with dark blue band looks completely rubbish.


And here’s mine, made from the dyed piece of op shop floral. Authentically crumpled from wear and from acute residency in my dirty washing basket. If you’re offended by my utter disinterest in ironing, just look at the glories of my vegie garden instead.


Burda Crossover Blazer finished

A quick reminder of the platonic ideal – Burda Crossover Blazer 06/2012 #121


Burda Crossover Blazer 06/2012 #121

And thar she blows – my version in two shades of linen. I cut a size 42. I added an inch to the arm length and cut the shoulders in a bit. Oh, and bound buttonholes? Pffffft.


Blazer in red linen with dusty pink linen cuffs and collar.


Back view.


Close up of the lovely linen. I reinforced the pocked edges with little bursts of satin stitch.


All buttoned up is a little severe but will be excellent for draft-stopping as the weather gets colder.

Things I like about it

  • I may have forgiven linen for its earlier transgressions. This red stuff is lovely. I like its flop and its crumple.
  • Always glad to use up some of my Buttonmania buttons. These are splendid.
  • The lining – polished cotton that once lined a bedspread – is so soft. Heavy but cosy.
  • Extra long arms are terrific!

Things I like a little less

  • I think a few design details lose the right proportion when graded up. Perhaps it would have been better with an extra button. And compare the angle on the lapel – did it stretch as I sewed?
  • I’d curve it in at the waist more next time.
  • It’s bloody tricky to find the spot for the button second from the top!

Gertie’s Sweetheart Sundress

Here ’tis, modelled by Headless Esme who does not share my prudishness (or, must be said, my fleshiness). The dark blue band perfectly matches the navy in the print, and it supplies a satisfying provocation to those blue-and-green-must-not-be-seen naysayers. The blue fabric was a surprise gift from a colleague who was moving house and mentioned he had some fabric he didn’t want. Oh yes, I said, I’ll have a look. He neglected to mention that it was metres and metres of slubby silk and fine silk and I almost lost my shit when I saw it. For meeeee? This magnificence? YES PLEASE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Now, back to the dress. I intend to add buttons to the back so the straps can convert from halter to shoulder. I’m also toying with adding pockets that echo the blue trim (refer to hastily slapped-on mock pockets below. I believe gravity overcame the pocket at a critical moment, but you get the idea. Thoughts?)

I used a very plain A-line skirt rather than Gertie’s gathered suggestion. I also added 1.5cm to the bodice length and trimmed off the odd little point at centre front waist which did not sit right at all. Dunno about you, but I don’t have a widow’s peak at my belly button.

So. Note well, buxom sewasauruses, that the Sweetheart Sundress may be NSFW as drafted. I might make it again and add an inch or two to the neckline. Flipping the trim up might also work. For me, it went together easily with very little fitting and fussing. Be sure to check out frkbustad’s lovely gingham version¬†and pearlconcubine’s floral one too!

Starting in on Gertie’s New Book

You all know Gertie, right? I’ve been following her blog ever since some folks got all ranty-pants about her tattoos. I just liked her frocks.

Anyhoo, fast forward to the release of her book, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing which I bought myself as a birthday present. I thought the sweetheart sundress pattern would make a good summer frock I could wear on those stinkin’ hot days, praps even to work.

Let me start by saying I will NOT be wearing this to work. Cripes! I thought it would be demure and breezy, but despite using the folksy poplin print from the previous post, it’s more the saucy older sister of the frock I had imagined. The sister who knows what boys like. Apparently I’m a big ol’ prude because I don’t feel comfortable posting the pic of me in said frock on teh interwebs!

Mr Men dress

At a vintage fair a couple of weeks back, I bought a big (curtain? Bedspead?) panel of 1960s Sheridan linen. I love this stuff so much. Shades of green and bile, big chunky floral… My cuppa tea for sure. But you want to be careful how you slice in to such a thing. Not only is it irreplaceable but big prints call for simple lines.

So I tested out a basic shift pattern. This is most unlike me because of my extreme human A-frame construction. I generally need me a cinched waist.

I’ve had this Mr Men curtain for perhaps 7 or 8 years. Nicely stash-ripened and time to cut. A few modifications – length, darts, neckline – but look, I made a shift! Terrible photo. I must take a better one.


If you must have your own Mr Men dress, I spotted the same fabric for sale on eBay.

NYC barkcloth made up

STOP PRESS! Headless woman wearing awesome barkcloth dress seen in laneways of Melbourne!



(This headless thing gets a bit silly, doesn’t it?)

This wonderful loud barkcloth is one of my treasures from the NYC garment district. So I reckon Peter is partly responsible for this dress because I may never have been brave enough to venture in without his able assistance. Unfortunately he remains profoundly shellshocked by my prediliction for the loudest prints I could lay my coarse sunburnt-country hands upon and I understand he’s avoided Australians ever since, even managing to arrange MPB Day to remain an antipodean-free event.

The pattern is the bodice from the red seersucker dress (1960s Simplicity 4595) but with some tweaks: I ditched the sleeves, lowered the neckline at the front, raised it at the back, and fully lined it in black cotton voile because the barkcloth weave is a little loose. After a tiny bit of further adjustment, this bodice will be pretty much perfect for me. You’ll see it again, for sure.

The skirt is just a rectangle with deep inverted pleats evenly distributed around it. No pattern, just patient pinning. The only things it’s missing are pockets because I simply forgot! But I’m rather pleased with it otherwise and I’m glad to have started my springtime sewing frenzy. When the weather gets warmer, I get constructing.

Now I just need to work on my serious-Melbourne-languid-hipster poses. Now that Australian Ambassador to NYC is no longer a career option for me, maybe modelling is just the ticket. Whatcha think? Natural talent, or what?


Mulberry madness

What colour are we calling this? Purple? Burgundy? Magenta? Plum? Mulberry?


No, there’s nothing wrong with your eyes. This is a blurry photograph. Let’s call it an arty action shot, shall we?



Still swirling.

Having made a rather slapdash and short-lived version of this old English Woman magazine pattern once before, I took a bit of time to get this one right. There was a muslining operation, there were fitting tweaks (narrow the neckline, lengthen bodice, futz with darts til they were right) and an all-important bilateral pocket installation. I was thinking of frankensteining a straight skirt, but at the last minute the deflated balloon won out. (I’ve used the skirt pattern before in this tropicale number and this Burda concoction.)

The fabric is this cheapie poplin from Spotlight which is wonderfully crisp. It makes a swishy noise when I move so it sounds like I mean business. And the colour is fabulous.

I made a very quick and easy belt with a wide strip of leftover fabric and a big belt buckle I found on the road. Really, I did. One side has asphalt marks on it from where it was run over by a car. I am the recycling champion of the universe!

LA thrift to proof-of-concept

The last day we were in the USA, we were loitering around LA before boarding an 11pm flight home. We spent about three hours in the sublime Museum of Jurassic Technology and a block or two away was a Goodwill. With a burning desire to use up my last USA paper money, I launched into the half-price sale therein a determined woman. I bought a huge, tent-like rayon shirtdress, 1980s I think, in an almost tropicale but slightly naff floral print. I didn’t try it on. It was way too big, but had pockets and a buttoned placket down the back of the skirt. For four bucks, I could do something with it. If nothing else, I could use it as a proof of concept.

Imagine my delight when I got home and tried it on. Prepare to be dazzled!

Gaw-geous, right? *shudder*. I’ve seen so many dresses just like this and thought, that could be reworked, but who can be bothered? Here’s what I did – you tell me if if it was worth the effort.

1. WASHED it to rid it of traces of previous ownership. Stain remover on a couple of spots.

2. Removed the big ugly pocket on the bodice.

3. Took off the skirt. Added extra darts to reduce the waist diameter of the skirt.

4. Added six darts to the bodice front. Evened up the bottom of the bodice where it had stretched out.

5. Reattached skirt, gathered the back and inserted a strip of elastic in the back waist seam.

6. Cut off sleeves. Made thick bias strips from them and attached them around the armscye like a cuff.

7. Sewed up side bodice seams, taking it in a couple of inches each side.

8. Reattached a button and sewed up the bottom of the front placket where it gaped a bit.

And lo! Whatcha think?

I reckon:

  • Fit is good, and why didn’t anyone tell me rayon was so damn comfortable to wear?
  • Pity about the placement of those two yellow flowers on the bustular area.
  • That print is still a bit naff.
  • The modifications weren’t that hard.
  • I think I like it.
  • Maybe it’s time I got a better camera.

80s frock: who was I kidding?

I don’t like change. It’s one reason why I’m no good at fashion. New style? But I was just getting used to this one!

When trends and fads emerge, my response is usually ‘egads, no.’ But then they creep into my subconscious and slowly, slowly take root in the compartment of my brain that houses all the things I find acceptable.

1980s revivals (how many have there been now? Is anyone keeping a tally?) keep bringing back the shapeless, boxy dress with elasticised waist. With repeated viewings, my feelings about them shifted from ‘ugh, you look like someone’s nanna’ to ‘that doesn’t look half bad on my very stylish pal’ to ‘in the right fabric, that could be comfortable and sophisticated in an understated sortofa way.’

Do you see where this is going, dear reader? Please don’t judge me. I just wanted a quick project to work on last week.

Enter: erstwhile ingenue and now yoga-maven, Ally McGraw.

With her jaunt side-ponytail and white pumps, this vixen is imploring you to visit 1985, is she not?

Being of a statuesque and pear-shaped sort with very little in the way of shoulders, I remained wary. If it didn’t enhance my human A-frameness, it could be a cunning way to use up some bits of fabric that are too lightweight and drapey for more fitted frocks. So I thought I’d test it out with something I didn’t much care for.

Enter: bright green floral crinkly cheesecloth.


Ignoring the ugly fabric that is too garish even for my tastes, it does indeed confirm that loose frocks make me look like my year 7 English teacher, an awkward brick house spinster type who took a lot of time off one year with a bad case of shingles. That was unkind. But unkind too is this dress, to me, so I’m just lashing out at those who can’t retaliate, completing my momentary return to year 7. It’s too unpleasant for me to put on again so Headless Esme is doing the modelling. It’s a shame because it has great pockets.

Next project, please!

…and two and a half dresses

Continuing on the recent project round-up, we have some frocks to discuss. Two are awesome. One is not. Let’s start on a high, shall we?

Dress one: vintage Simplicity 4232

Ages ago I made a notch-necked sheath from loud corduroy. It became my favourite of all dresses. I love it the best. I wanted to make it again so when I hit the Fabric Store‘s 40% sale, I went in looking for sheathables. Not usually a lover of lace (chantilly, no matter how expensive, looks like nasty trash to me. I also think diamonds are shabby. Perhaps my X chromosomes are defective) I found a geometric lace that didn’t give me the shudders. Off we go then!

I interlined it in a turquoise blue stretch cotton woven and went to town. I even got the neck notches right this time.

Headless Esme in blue not-lacey lace sheath

Look at those buenos notches.

And because Headless Esme’s rack is higher and smaller than mine, here ’tis on real flesh in a crappy phone photo:

Dress Two: New Look 6067

I made this twice but I’ll spare you a look a the second one because it was a costume made in nasty stretch silver for a space-themed gathering. This one is much classier… so classy that the first time I wore it, I didn’t feel like myself. It was too tasteful.

Black linen New Look 6067

The little turned over collar and buttons are pretty dandy.

The linen was an op shop score yeeeeears ago. It reeked of cheap dye and stained my yellow cardie on its first wear. Four or five washes later it doesn’t smell but I will be sniffing every bit of fabric from now on. If it has the stink, it’s not welcome in the stash.

Dress and-a-half: Butterick B5101

Last weekend I dragged Moggy (kicking and screaming, as you can imagine) to the Rathdowne Remnants yard sale. (We got $1/m cream merino jersey. We win.) She was wearing a becomming frock so I borrowed the pattern when I dropped her off and went home to make it, thinking it would be ideal for my impending USA trip. I’ve had this green wool jersey in the stash for years (I think it was a v. cheap Darn Cheap score because it had a fault or two in it) so schnip schnip, I cut it out.


It looks like a dressing gown on me. The solid colour is blah. The fit is for the slender of hip not the ample of pelvis. It’s just naff. It remains unfinished. What’s the point? Maybe jersey dresses are never going to be my thing. I’ve tried a few and they’ve never lasted long.

Green jersey dress fail. Headless Esme doesn't fill it out right but it doesn't look much better on me. Bummer.

PHEW! Now I’m up to date. Clearly it’s time to start something new. More good travel clothes, methinks.