Make Nine Challenge 2021

Unbelievably, it’s December which makes it time to review my sewing year. Even though I haven’t completed all my Make Nine Projects, I’m very happy with how much I’ve progressed and learnt this year. I find that challenges like the Make Nine are a really useful tool for my learning. I’m not sure who to attribute the creation of the Make Nine Challenge to but a lot of the making and sewing community use it. I love to plan and document with everything that I do so this challenge really appealed to me. The idea of the challenge is to list nine patterns you’ll sew in the year. Last year, I didn’t list exact patterns, but I listed the set of skills or types of patterns I wanted to sew.

Make Nine 2021

Let’s walk through the planned projects. The Amy Jumpsuit was the first project that I completed. I love the idea of a jumpsuit, but I find the closer fitting jumpsuits or boiler suits very uncomfortable to wear. The Amy Jumpsuit is by Closet Core Patterns, and I just love the roomy fit around the legs. I found this jumpsuit to be the perfect summer smart casual outfit.

Next, I made the Kalle Shirtdress, which is also by Closet Core Patterns. I chose this because of the collar and placket instalment. Prior to this, I had never sewn anything with a collar, and I found the instructions were great for a beginner like me. Also, I made it using this wonderful “faces” linen fabric. I’ll be revisiting this lovely pattern to sew the other versions of it.

The Closet Core Pouf is a free pattern! It’s a great piece of furniture and it’s made and filled with all my sewing scraps. The pouf was photographed with some pillows for stuffing, but my pouf is still not one hundred percent full yet. It’s still being filled with all the little scraps that can’t be used for other projects. You can tell by now that I was having a bit of a Closet Core crush!

The Nellie joggers was the next project that I tackled. I love the beautiful designs by Pattern Scout. I find all her pieces so easy to wear. I chose the joggers for the zip fly installation. Trousers require a lot more skill to fit so I try to find trousers that have elements like partially elasticised waists to make fitting a bit easier while I build up my confidence.

I didn’t manage to sew the Nova Coat by Papercut Patterns, but I have the pattern in my stash. I often find myself ruminating over projects before sewing. I bought the pattern, then I found some beautiful fabric from Potter and Co, and I think that was the downfall of the project. The wool was dry-clean only and I found that researching about how to prepare the fabric was a bit overwhelming, so I put it aside. I really want my sewing to be enjoyable so I’m not afraid to step back. I’m finding that sewing helps me in the most surprising way, I’m better at forgiving and being more patient with myself. This will definitely be revisited soon!

It was close to winter when I moved on to sewing the Meridan Knit Dress. I didn’t have a set pattern initially when I put this on my Make Nine. I just wanted to branch out into sewing with knit fabric. I’m glad I came across this dress by Sew To Grow. It’s very beginner friendly but a bit different from the usual T-Shirt dress.

One of my favourite discoveries was the Meridian Dress by Papercut Patterns. The design is just beautiful with the wrap front bodice. It allows the wearer to adjust the bodice piece which is so handy for dinner parties and events where you need to look elegant but want to be comfortable as well.

The Persephone Pants by Anna Allen Clothing was a pattern I bought in my previous Make Nine and I still haven’t made it. I toiled the pattern and I just kept finding reasons not to sew it. I think I wasn’t keen on the grey cotton drill that I bought for it, so I just kept putting other projects in front of it. I’ve now discovered cotton lyocell drill in the Maai Design collection, so my plan is to revisit this project with better fabric. It will get made!

Finally, the Dawn Jeans. I’ve only recently purchased this as I kept vacillating between the Dawn Jeans by Megan Nielsen Patterns and the Ginger Jeans by Closet Core Patterns. Then I started thinking that I don’t like wearing jeans anyway, so I put it off until finally deciding that I love the classic look of the Dawn. So, this will definitely be on my next Make Nine list.

I’m so grateful for a productive year of making and learning with these beautiful patterns. Most of all, I’m grateful for all the connections made with the sewing community. Hoping everyone is a blessed.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

x Em

Palisade Pants

Featuring: Cotton Lyocell Drill from Maai Design

Getting more experience with sewing trousers has been high on this year’s agenda so when Maai Design contacted me about their Cotton Lyocell Drill, I took it as a sign and jumped in. I received a beautiful package from Maaike, with all it’s personal touches. When I opened the package and felt the fabric for the first time, I was surprised at how soft the Cotton Lyocell Drill felt. Drill is usually a lot coarser and associated with workmen’s clothes, but with the blend of Cotton and Lyocell, it’s still really strong but has a softer feel. It also felt a bit more lightweight than the usual full cotton drill. Back when I had just started sewing, buying fabric online was quite overwhelming. Maai Design has a very easy website and best of all, there are YouTube videos accompanying each type of fabric. You can find out more about the Cotton Lyocell Drill here.

Feeling how lightweight this Cotton Lyocell Drill was, I was tempted to make another Kalle Shirtdress or Pietra Wide Leg Pants, but I had the Palisade Pants from Papercut patterns in my stash. I was excited to try sewing those unique pockets and I wanted the challenge of a closer fitting pair of trousers. 

The first step in any sew is to wash the fabric. Being made of natural fibre, I made sure it was washed and dried on a cooler cycle. There wasn’t any obvious shrinkage or any loss of this beautiful pale mint blue colour. I love the colour-ways of the Cotton Lyocell Drill in the Maai Design collection! There are nine altogether and it was very hard choosing but I think this mint blue is great for the summer.

When it was time to cut, I made sure that all my pattern pieces were running the same way, paying close attention to the grainline because drill has a diagonal weave. Drill has a smoother side and a side where you can see the diagonal weave more obviously. Most people would consider the smoother side the wrong side of the fabric, so I just put a pin on the wrong side to make sure that I didn’t accidentally mix this up! Cutting the Cotton Lyocell Drill is very beginner friendly. It doesn’t shift like rayon, and it doesn’t fray like double gauze. I would say, it’s a great fabric for beginners.

At the sewing machine, I just made sure my machine had a 90/14 needle in situ. I then checked to see that I was using a stitch length of 2.5mm. The next thing to note is that the seams of the Palisade Pants are sewn at 1cm not the usual 5/8 inch. Once all the various interfacing pieces were attached, I started to put together the pocket pieces. I found that the fabric was a bit bulky once each of the pocket bag pieces were layered so it was better to use these quilters clips. (They’re also handy for delicate fabric where you don’t want to pierce the fabric). Piecing together the pocket requires a lot of accuracy so I ironed at each stage to get crisp lines.

Once I worked out the pocket bags and how to attach that to the side leg panel, the rest came together quite quickly. I attached the back panel piece and then the back waistband. This part had me a bit worried because I didn’t know if the Cotton Lyocell Drill would tolerate the partly elasticised waistband. I was afraid it would have that puffed up look that some lounge pants have with elasticated waists, but to my relief, because it has a little bit of drape, the fabric sat flush when the elastic was inserted. The rest of the sew went smoothly, and as usual, papercut pattern instructions were great to follow.

Some sizing notes, I made the size 5 to fit my 33-inch waist and 38-inch hips. When I first pulled on the Palisade Pants, I noticed that I was getting a few horizontal folds in the front and some bagging out along the front panel. I’m a real novice when it comes to pant fitting, but it was curious because I had toiled this before making. (Apologies for not taking photos of these fitting issues).

I was using thrifted fabric for my toile so there were two factors I forgot to take into account. Firstly, there is no stretch in the Cotton Lyocell Drill. Secondly, in my toile, I did not make up the full pocket bags which probably took up more of the ease leaving me with not enough ease around my hips. To adjust the fit, it was an easy case of letting some of the seam out at the hips. The flaring at the front was also simply solved. I realised when I looked closer at the pictures on the pattern that the length of the trousers was slightly cropped at the ankle. So, I removed an inch and a half from the bottom of the hem which made it sit better.

Overall, sewing with the Cotton Lyocell Drill was an eye opener. Maai Design has stocked it in a beautiful array of fun colours. It’s a finer quality drill which is lighter weight than normal drill and it has a softer feel which is great against the skin. My Palisade Pants will be getting a lot of wear in summer! It’s soft and breathable and doesn’t wrinkle as easily as linen.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Full Disclosure: The Cotton Lyocell Drill fabric was kindly gifted to me in exchange for posts on Instagram and a blog post however all opinions expressed are my own. 

Spring Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

The capsule wardrobe is synonymous with a collection of garments, a selection of wardrobe pieces that match well to create multiple outfits to suit multiple occasions. I’ve been curious for a while now about this concept. Sewing allows so much choice in style, colour, fabric selection but what makes a workable closet? This is not an original question as evidenced by the numerous books, blogs and YouTube videos on the topic. 

My personal challenge in my short spring getaway, was to be thoughtful in the process of making outfits that fit the criteria of a Capsule Wardrobe. I then wanted to test this out on the upcoming trip. Historically, I am not a minimalist when it comes to packing, in fact, my husband would argue that I pack everything but the kitchen sink.

First step in the planning was to consider the weather. We were heading to the Margaret River region which sits in the south western corner of Western Australia. It’s has tall timber forests, gorgeous countryside and hugs a pristine coastline. It has maritime climate which is cooler than Perth so I had to consider some layering options.

So considering all this, the second step was to determine how many items to make and pack. I decided to limit myself to 5 items plus 1 outerwear. The items I took were:

  1. Grace Dress from Abby Sews and Marsha Style
  2. Pietra Wide Leg Linen Trousers from Closet Core Patterns
  3. Ogden Cami from True Bias
  4. Grace Dress hacked into a pinafore (see previous Blog post)
  5. Comfi Tee in white bamboo jersey by Pattern Scout Studio
  6. Wooster Jacket from Sewing and The City*

On the trip down to Margaret River, I wore the long version of the Grace Dress. The 100% cotton gingham shielded me from the hot sun streaming in from the car windshield which made it so comfortable to travel in. When we reached our destination, we ambled down one of the walking trails on the property. This was a beautiful eco-retreat where the owners went to great lengths to help guests reconnect with nature. It was forest bathing at it’s best. The quiet still air was only broken by the sound of bird calls and the whisper of the eucalypt leaves rustling in the wind. 

The next day was overcast but fine. Heading into Margaret River town centre, we settled for an unhurried brunch. This set us up for a day of exploring starting with Voyager Estate. Margaret River is a world-famous wine region, a funny destination for two teetotallers, but the region is packed full of things to see and do regardless. Most of the wineries have beautiful gardens and magnificent restaurants. Voyager Estate has also been a favourite for us because they make the most delicious non-alcoholic grape juice. In fact, we’ve often ordered a delivery of it when the craving gets too great!

Back into the car, we took a scenic drive to Boranup Karri Forest. These beautiful ancient trees tower like skyscrapers with an understory of ferns and wildflowers. Layering is always good for changeable weather. I was glad that I had my Grace Pinafore worn with my Comfi Tee. The Wooster Jacket was thrown on when the sun disappeared behind clouds. I was glad for some cloud cover because I spent most of the walk looking up at these towering trees, some are up to 60 metres tall! My only regret was not bringing the right camera lens to capture the beautiful birdlife.

The final destination for the day was Mammoth Cave. My husband initially convinced me that the name was derived from fossilised Mammoths, but he was telling porky pies. There have been fossils of Australian megafauna, which have been extinct for tens of thousands of years, found in the cave. It was very cool in the cave as you use the walkway that guides you through the cave. Special features of the cave light up as you walk through which is accompanied by an interesting self-guided audio tour. 

I was so impressed with this combination of Comfi Tee, Grace Pinafore and the Wooster Jacket. It was dressy enough for a morning out and about in town and a visit to a winery, comfortable enough to be traipsing around a forest, everything was made with natural fibre fabrics so it never got hot during the bush walk and it was warm enough in the coolness of the cave.

The final day had an early start. We decided to head to Prevelly Beach. There are two parts to the beach, one leads to surfer’s point and the other part sees the Margaret River meeting the beach. If there had been more time, and with warmer weather, there is a canoe tour which I would love to keep in mind for future visits. However, this day was overcast again so it was great for an early morning walk. I wore my Pietra Pants and Ogden Cami with my Wooster Jacket. I’m so glad I made a light denim version of the Wooster Jacket. The cropped length of the jacket makes it so versatile. It matched equally well with the high waisted Pietra Pants and the Grace Dress and Pinafore.

Dipping my toes into organising a Spring Holiday Capsule Wardrobe will shape the way I organise and consider my sewing projects in the future. It’s so good to know that everything I’m making has a purpose and is used fully. Also, a bonus of planning a capsule is that I only had to pack one pair of shoes. Everything mixed and matched so well!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

*Full Disclosure – pattern was gifted in exchange for instagram post. Now a treasured item in my wardrobe and there was no obligation to blog about it.

** I’d like to acknowledge my husband for his beautiful and skilled photography.

Grace Dress as a Pinafore

First of all, I’d like to say that I love the design of the Grace Dress as it is. The Grace Dress is a result of the creative collaboration of Taree Marsh of Masha Style and Abby Huston of Abby Sews. You can see my previous version of the Grace Dress on the blog. I have finally got some holidays coming up and I wanted something that will be good to wear with the current changeable weather. I love how the pinafore can be paired with a t-shirt or tank top for warmer days or a long-sleeved shirt or turtle neck for cooler days. It’s such a versatile garment. So, when I came back to sew Version A of the Grace Dress, it occurred to me that it could easily be hacked into a pinafore.

Version B Grace Dress

Before I get into the hack, have you ever thought about personalising your garments with a bit of embroidery? On a whim, I thought I would try it. Embroidery isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I’m definitely hooked so I’ll be putting together a bit of a “how-to” in the future. Make sure you don’t miss out by tapping on the follow button for future blog posts!

Trying out embroidery

Basically, the pinafore was invented as a protective garment for your dress. It was like an apron that could be worn over your “good” clothes. Very practical at a time when washing your clothes (especially heavy dresses) meant hard labour and was done with muscle power not a machine. Of course, that application no longer applies and we’re now lucky enough to be able to do our laundry by pressing a few buttons. As mentioned earlier, I like the pinafore for its versatility as a garment.

Okay, I started the hack by thinking about the front bodice neckline and the armscye. It is usually worn over another dress or shirts so there needs to be enough room to fit over whatever is worn underneath. So, I started by scooping out the neckline and the armscye. The neckline was deepened by two inches and I graded back to the curve to make sure that the neckline was not widened with that. 

The armscye was a bit more difficult. I was a bit fearful at first and made quite a shallow cut. Probably only deepening it by 1.5 inch but I later deepened this leaving 4 inch from the bottom of the bodice. I realised that the deepened “arm opening” was quite a distinct feature of the pinafore. Now that I had deepened the armscye, it is natural that the dart was no longer required. It’s important to meet the back armscye with the front so I went ahead and matched that up.

Essentially that was the only modification needed! I told you it was simple. Version A of the grace is fastened by these cute ties on the shoulders. I’ve sewn them together so they stay fastened without any risk of unravelling. It would also be cute to do the buttoned version of the shoulder strap!

Thank you for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Romy Wrap Dress

Dress Hack

I first made the Romy Wrap Top from Pattern Scout last year when I had only been sewing for about 6 months. It’s a testament to her fantastic instructions that I could make such a beautiful top with my rudimentary set of sewing skills. I’ve since also sewn the dress version as well. The Romy Wrap dress is uniquely fastened with buttons and has a slender silhouette. 

This time, I wanted to use the pattern to make a maxi dress with the sleeve expansion that was released for the pattern. I’ve been seeing a lot of ground skimming, floor length dresses inspired from the sixties. I found a beautiful rayon crepe from Spotlight Stores which had a beautiful field-of-poppies print in a mix of clementine and yellow on a field of green. Rayon crepe is beautifully sheer with a slight texture. It also has some weight to it, so it has a beautiful drape which just skims over the body in the most flattering way. However, it has a bit of “bounce” so if you’re a beginner like me, just be careful not to stretch the fabric as you’re sewing. Also, when cutting, it might be better to use a rotary cutter especially for tricky curves. My final tip is not to skip the stay stitching (don’t learn the hard way!)

There is a very comprehensive tutorial on the Pattern Scout Blog as well as a YouTube video so have a look there when you sew along but this is an account of my sewing process.

Firstly, I needed to lengthen the skirt piece. I didn’t have a firm idea of the extra length needed but I estimated about 10 inches and lengthened from the hem grading the curve as I approached the waistline. This was repeated for the back skirt piece as well. 

Then I went ahead and added the stay stitching around the neckline and the armscye as well as all the tucks on the front and back bodice pieces.

I also wanted to add another tip, which is to iron as you go. It just neatens the seamlines which can get a bit wavy with this bouncy fabric.

Ironing will save you when you’re pinning!

Once I attached the skirt pieces to their corresponding panels, I then pinned and attached the front interfaced facings. The corner was a bit tricky, so I just sewed slowly and I found it easier to sew with the interfaced side up. 

The next step was to sew on the yoke. The yoke is the piece that attaches the front panels to the back bodice and skirt. The instructions are very detailed, and I just followed them but I have heard that other people have used the “burrito” method which I have also used in other patterns. Maybe this is something I could try in the future but with my lengthened skirts, it could be too bulky.

Now, getting the sleeves on was initially confusing because I kept getting extra fabric and I thought I had cut the wrong size. But when I compared the expansion pack instructions to the initial pattern, I realised that there was a bit of instruction missing. In the original, the sleeve is gathered along the yoke seam and don’t worry, I’ve contacted Casey at Patternscout so she knows. So happily, with this sorted, I could attach the sleeves and finish them. I love bishop sleeves for the fullness in the cuffs. 

The final part was to finish the hems before making buttonholes for the buttons. Now, I always must resist sewing up the hem too soon. With fabrics that have a bit of stretch, or with dresses cut on the bias, the dress should be allowed to hang on a hanger or dummy for at least a few hours. I had to trim the hem to even up the hemline before sewing up.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Meridian Dress II

This is the Meridian Dress Mark II. I have already shared my previous version of this lovely dress, but I just wanted to share another one as I’ve sewn a version with sleeves, which is as intended by the original pattern from Papercut Patterns. Because I had made a toile, this did not take much time to sew up.

The fabric I’ve used is a Tencel Twill fabric that was snapped up at the Megan Nielsen in-store sale back in June. I was assisted by Belle (she models the curve range and blogs on the Megan Nielsen site) who was so helpful and lovely. I had already earmarked the Meridian Dress to sew but was looking for the right fabric. She brought out the Tencel Twill which had the drape I was looking for and of course, the dusky pink colour is so beautiful and hard to resist. When I bought ready to wear, I never really thought much about fabric. Of course, I enjoyed the colour and the pattern as well as the feel of the fabric but never really investigated what would match a certain design. 

So, what is Tencel? I was so surprised to find out that Tencel is made from wood pulp! Such a bonus to know that it’s a natural fibre. It’s also known for being breathable and highly absorbent so it’s great for any season being cool for summer and warm in winter. Wait, there’s more! Apparently it’s stink proof because bacteria can’t stick to its smooth surface.

Stink Proof Tencel Fabric

I used 2.5 meters of fabric to make my Meridian Dress. Again, I made the size 4 and the only adjustment was to shorten the sleeves to ¾ sleeves. The wrap front bodice does give a lot of ease in the fit so definitely stick to the suggested sizing. If I were to make it again, the only minor adjustment that I would make is a full biceps adjustment. I always forget this and have sadly experienced “dinosaur arms” but it’s not too bad on this so I’ll leave it as is.

Oh! And, can I just make special mention of my invisible zipper installation! I’m so much happier with this. Comparing between my first and second make there has been 100 percent improvement. I always tell my kids that practise makes progress!

Thank you for reading and happy sewing

X Em

Matilda Dress

How is it the end of October already? The Matilda Dress caught my eye in the recent re-release by Megan Nielsen Patterns. I loved the version with sleeves, and I felt that it would be a great dress for the autumn or spring seasons where you can have warm days and cold nights. This has been a bit of a marathon sew and like all marathons, some parts were challenging but it felt like a satisfying achievement in the end.

The challenges mainly came from the fabric I chose. Firstly, the fabric I chose was a cotton blend linen but the weight of it might have been too heavy. Secondly, the fabric was a bit shifty. I think the weave must have been quite loose and without a walking foot, the fabric shifted quite badly when sewn. The loose weave also meant that the fabric frays quite easily. Next time, I will be looking to sew the Matilda with shirting fabric as suggested in the pattern! Despite this, I do love this soft fabric and as it’s slightly thicker, it will be getting a lot of wear until the weather warms up properly.

Packed full of features like pockets and collar

Okay, so onto the features of the Matilda Dress. Basically, I would describe it as a fitted shirt dress. It has two types of pockets, a yoke, collar with collar stand, has a waistband and princess seams. It was so interesting to have so many features in a dress and I was so grateful for the clear tutorials included with the pattern. I needed to refer to it when I was sewing the breast pockets and pocket flaps. I also referred to it again when I was installing the collar and the collar stand. I find that every time I’ve sewn a Megan Nielsen pattern, I learn something, and my skill level grows.

For my measurements of 37:33:38, I sewed the Size 14. No modifications were needed. Interestingly, in the past I’ve usually sewn the size 12 from Megan Nielsen Patterns but the size 14 fits better. I can still wear my other dresses made in the size 12 so I’m not sure if there have been some changes in the drafting? If you know then comment below. 

Matilda Dress seated

I managed to get all my pattern pieces from a 3-meter length fabric (I think it was 130cm in width). There were a lot of pieces, so I spent quite a lot of time playing pattern piece Jenga! The linen fabric was from my stash which was why I wanted to spend the time fitting all my pieces in. 

Full length of the dress

I’m not sure I’ve mastered this pattern yet. It will definitely need revisiting in the future but I’m happy to have made the attempt!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Grace Dress

“Cottage core” is a term that I was introduced to by my daughter when I started to point out these beautiful dresses reflective of an idyllic rural lifestyle which have recently become more popular since last year. I’ve read that it’s society’s reaction to recent global events, making a wholesome, clean lifestyle more attractive. The Grace Dress definitely falls into this category with its vintage vibes. It’s what you imagine wearing if you had a field to roam in carrying a basketful of wildflowers with a backlighting of sunshine (inspiration for my picture).

The Grace Dress is a collaboration between Taree from @marshastyle and Abby from @abby_sews. When they started promoting this, I immediately saved it and waited for the much-anticipated pattern release. I’ve sewn the View B of the dress which has a multi-tiered gathered skirt, buttoned shoulder straps and a casing for some waist-ties (very flattering). Oh! I also have to mention that it has generous pockets!

I made the size 8 with my measurements of 37 Bust, 33 Waist and 38 Hips. It has a great size range from 31:24:34.5 to 59:52:62.5 and after saying that I usually try to make a toile in my last blog post, I must confess that I just went straight into it without a toile with this sew because of the ease in finished garment. I’ve used this mustard yellow gingham fabric from Spotlight Stores. Gingham adds to that idyllic county aesthetic that I wanted with this dress. 

To start the sew, I prepared the straps and put together the bodice. Pretty standard construction with darts for the bodice. I used a white muslin for the lining pieces. The Grace Dress Pattern has lovely instructions for French seams, but I decided to finish with an overlocker. 

When you move onto the skirt, you’re putting in the pockets from the side seams. As mentioned above, I’ve decided to use an overlocker to finish my seams. To do this, I neaten my pocket pieces and neaten the skirt side seams on my overlocker. Then I attached the pocket pieces to the skirt pieces – make sure you keep the paired pocket pieces on the same side and be careful that you have the pocket markings at the same level for the front and back skirt pieces otherwise you’ll be frustrated by wonky pockets.

Skirt pieces are then gathered, and the longer bottom tier is attached to the top tier of the skirt. Now, how long is too long? This is a pattern made for 5’7 height which I did not modify. I really wanted a maxi dress and crave that swishy feel of a long skirt. 

The most interesting part of the dress in View B is making this channel for waist ties. Skinny straps and ties are the bane of my sewing life. Yes, I have a loop turner. No, it doesn’t make it any easier. Yes, it still took me about an hour and a lot of swearing. Anyway, that doesn’t take away from this interesting little feature. This little feature sets it apart of from other tiered dresses as it cinches the fabric in at the right spot to make a very flattering silhouette. I chose to hand baste the lining before using the stich-in-the-ditch method to finish. 

The final part was to sew the buttons in to finish the shoulder straps. In my initial try-on of the dress, I realised that I have slightly sloping shoulders which made the straps gap quite badly. After some thought, I decided to sew the straps on a slight angle which also ensures that there won’t be any wardrobe mishaps. I’ve still attached the button as I had already sewn the buttonholes.

Here are some close-ups of the beautiful Grace Dress!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Meridian Dress

With the onset of spring here in Perth, I thought I would tackle The Meridian Dress by Papercut Patterns which has been on my Make Nine Sewing Challenge List. The dress has a beautiful silhouette with an easy to fit wrap front. I jokingly told a friend that I was making this dress to go to dinner parties with because the wrap front makes it easy to adjust for a full belly! But actually, it really does work to make it a very comfortable dress to wear. Like most women my dress size can go between two sizes in one month – I work in women’s health and this is a common complaint. This is also often why we’re sometimes caught out with, “nothing to wear” when a last minute event pops up and we haven’t had a chance to check the current fit of a “going out” outfit.

I’ve sewn the size 4 for my measurements of 37 Bust, 33 Waist, 38 Hips. The finished measurements range from B34.6:W24.4:39.2 to B51.2:W40.9:H55.7. No adjustments were needed for my sew. The front wrap bodice had a very interesting construction and the main thing to watch out for is the attachment of the front bodice to the skirt. There is a chance of a hole if you miss catching the panels of fabric where the wrap meets so just go slowly and I also hand basted that part with a coloured thread to make sure I wouldn’t miss it.

The fabric I used was a thin polyester crepe which was a beautiful green with small flowers. I chose it because of the wrap front. I felt that a bulky fabric might spoil the silhouette. This also meant that I had to modify how the facing was sewn. It was attached in the usual way at the neckline and zipline, but I didn’t sew down three inches from the edge. Instead, I stitched in the ditch at the waistline and the shoulder seams.

Also, I think it’s time I invested in an invisible zip sewing foot. I’m still attaching mine with a normal zipper foot and I found it a bit difficult this time. It might have also been the needle as I was using a 70/10 for the fine, delicate fabric but perhaps should have sewn the zip with a heavier needle. Do you change your needles when sewing? Comment below. Anyway, it came together in the end and I love the back view of this dress. I’m hoping to find a prettier button for the dress in the future.

So, this is actually my wearable toile for this pattern. Sometimes I toile with spare cheaper thrifted fabric and sometimes I dive in with a cheaper fabric that’s wearable but I try to always toile. This fabric was a real bargain at $9 per meter from Spotlight Stores so I bought about two meters. I only had enough for the dress without sleeves which I’ve ended up really liking. I wear cardigans all the time, even in summer so sleeveless is often more comfortable for me. I will be making this dress again and I will be attaching the sleeves in the next one. To finish the armscye, I made some bias binding. It’s such a satisfying process! 

The Meridian Dress is such a flattering, elegant dress and I’m definitely giving it 10/10 for design and instructions. A very satisfying sew and good for an advanced beginner.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Fern Top and Dress Hack

September brings with it the promise of sunshine and finer weather. So, naturally, I’m starting to think about a summer wardrobe. I do often wonder if I should start working on my summer wardrobe in winter and sew up my cold weather wardrobe in summer. Anyway, I had always meant to sew up another Fern Top from Pattern Scout Studios. I then saw a mention of a dress hack so I decided to go ahead and do this!

The original pattern is a pretty top that has a central panel with a round collar which the dolman sleeve pieces attach to. Then Pattern Scout released the square neck extension pack which was what really sold me. I really love a square neckline! So, my first version of this pattern was the square neckline version of the top. 

This time I’ve sewed the square neckline again but decided to use the free tutorial for the flutter sleeves. So, most of the hard work for this hack was actually done! I just added the skirt by using two rectangular pieces and gathering the top of the skirt and attaching this to where the “skirt” of the top would’ve attached to.

I should also mention that I had fully lined my dress with muslin. I used a divinely floaty, sheer, lightweight “seaweed stripe” linen that I was lucky enough to score at the in-store sale at Megan Nielsen’s shop in June. I didn’t know at the time what I was going to make out of the fabric but it was too good to pass up and I’m only just starting to feel confident enough to invest in my fabrics. I bought two meters of this linen which was just right for this make. So, getting back to the sheerness of the fabric, it’s beautiful and light but quite see-through so for modesty’s sake and so my family don’t disown me in public, the muslin was a perfect pick to line the dress with.

This dress is so comfortable to wear. It’s not quite warm enough yet but the baby-doll style is great for those sticky and humid summer days. Hopefully this will inspire someone to give it a go! The Fern Top is great as-is but such a wonderful bonus with so many options to customise it.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em