Celestia Dress

The Celestia Dress is a new release from Papercut Patterns, and I think it’s appropriately named! It’s heavenly to wear in this scorching summer heat. The Celestia Dress has a three-tier skirt which fans out from the under bust of the bodice. A bit of a twist from an empire cut dress. There are two options with a square neckline option and a bandeau style bodice which is adjustable with drawstrings. I was immediately drawn to the interesting bandeau style bodice with drawstrings. I’m documenting here my process (and mistakes made) of the bodice.

Initially this was going to be sewn as a top so that I could toile the Celestia for some incoming fabric.

However, I just couldn’t resist making the whole dress after finishing the top half. I was using some leftover linen and lyocell blend from another project. It’s in this beautiful red brick colour.

So, we start the sew by making these drawstrings. This was a great eye-opening process as I didn’t have to struggle with any loop turners or safety pins. It’s all done with cord. It’s then a simple process of attaching the drawstrings to the bodice which is wedged between the shell and a facing. 

Attached drawstrings to bodice

Papercut Patterns always have beautifully detailed instructions which is how a novice like me can sew from a wonderful pattern like this. However, I made a small mistake in Step 9 where we’re making the slit opening for the drawstring. We’re told to only snip the outer layer but unfortunately, I enthusiastically snipped through both layers. But fear not, I repaired this with some fusing. It has worked well, and disaster was averted. Phew! 

As I said, it was just me reading too fast and skimming rather than stopping to check each detail before doing. I have found that as my experience grows with sewing, I sometimes skim instructions and sew in a way that is familiar to me. However, I’m trying not to assume that the technique I’m using is the right way. I’ve found that different designers can have a different technique which is more effective or look better, so I always want to try follow instructions exactly as written in case it could further my learning. I’m also grateful for help from other seamstresses who share their knowledge and techniques.

Well, the rest of the sew was thankfully uneventful. To finish the bodice, there is a cord that runs between and then encased. You then pull a little out at each slit making a loop on each side.

You then finish by attaching the skirt to the bodice. I left the pockets out as I don’t always find them useful, and it can be annoying to iron around them. 

I made the size 4 but I think you’ll find the fitting very easy on this. The drawstrings can be adjusted for a broader or narrower back. It’s quite ingenious engineering. There were no modifications made. After many wears, the hemline may have dropped in the back of my dress. I was impatient to finish and wear the dress and so I’ll have to trim and resew the dropped hemline.

This was worn out and about in Fremantle which is a beautifully historic port city in Perth. It’s full of Victorian Era architecture and has a certain vibe. It was the first city we lived in when we arrived in Western Australia and I have fond memories of the buzz on weekends where it felt like the whole of Perth had descended on Fremantle. 

Exploring Fremantle

Thank you for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Sydni Shirt

A crisp white shirt is such a staple in a wardrobe. It is easily paired with jeans for an elevated casual look or when worn with dress pants is a work ready outfit. It may look like a simple, quick piece to sew but like a dish that’s pared back, details stand out. This shirt took a lot of careful sewing, and it was a lovely slow sew. This is the Sydni Shirt from Sew To Grow

For my measurements of 37-inch bust and 33-inch waist, I sewed the size Medium. It sits above the hips ending just below the natural waistline. There were no modifications but next time I make this pattern, I will have to look at making some adjustments or sew a size up. I sewed this pattern as the shirt dress in a rayon fabric initially. By comparison, when sewn in the stiffer cotton voile, it feels a bit resistant when I cross my arms across my chest and when reaching above my head. My intention was to wear this to work but with this slight tightness, I might not reach for this shirt for work. I forgot that I tend to buy one size up for my work shirts. The fit is fine for normal day to day wear, but my work is very active as I’m in health care.

The construction on the collar is simple and great for someone who may not have sewn collars before. It’s so clever how the bodice piece folds in the front to form the lapel. It also has a softer look which appealed to me. This shirt also comes with pocket options which I’ll want to use next time. It would also be interesting to leave the collar off and have it as a simple blouse. I love it when there are so many options in one pattern. It’s such great value!

As mentioned, I used a cotton voile to make this. It was really a wearable toile as I had only sewn this as a shirt dress. I’d love to use a lightweight linen blend or cotton lawn next time. Overall, this has been a great addition to my me-made wardrobe. 

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Roscoe Dress

It is traditional to wear red to the family reunion dinner when celebrating the Lunar New Year. Red is considered a lucky colour, so I was excited when Maai Design started to stock Storrs London Fabric, and I came across the Hermia design in red. I love the big flowers drawn across a background of red with pops of highlighter blue-green and hot pink leaves. I knew it would match well with a boho inspired style dress which immediately brought to my mind the Roscoe Dress from True Bias. The dress has a gathered neckline with raglan sleeves. It also has a centre slit with neck ties. It’s truly such a pretty design. On the practical side, it’s lovely and cool to wear in summer when matched with the Hermia Storrs London fabric. The superfine 100% Egyptian cotton is billowy, loose, and cool to wear.

I made the size 8 for my measurements of 37-inch bust, 33-inch waist and 38-inch hips. Bohemian dresses are loose and made with freedom of movement in mind. The finished dress for my size was 48 inches around the chest which gives you some idea of the ease in the fit. There are three versions of the pattern, the first is a blouse which I’ll definitely be returning to sew, a tunic or short dress version and a midi version. I chose the short version which still falls just above my knees. I’m 5 foot 7, to give you some idea about the length of the dress.

Construction was very easy which was a relief because I was sewing to a deadline. The date of the Lunar New Year changes each year according to the cycles of the moon. It came around a lot earlier this year. The sewing went well, and it was a relief that it was so beginner friendly. I love to be challenged with my sewing but now was not the time! 

No modifications were needed however, initially I had made the bottom ruffle pieces slightly longer thinking that I wanted to cover my knees. I found myself shortening them to the original length promptly. It was only an inch and a half but it really threw off the balance of the design. It was interesting that such a small detail could detract from the beauty of a design. I guess that’s why they say that, “…the devil is in the details”.

Nothing much more to add except that it felt special to wear a dress that I had made and it was a great hit. I think I mentioned on my Instagram Post that I need to hide this next time my mum comes over or I might be missing a dress. It was lovely and cool to wear and sewing it with such special fabric elevated the dress from casual to special occasion wear.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Soline Culottes

Kicking off the new sewing year with these Soline Culottes by Staystitch Pattern Co. has been a dream start! I was lucky enough to win this pattern by participating in the My Makes of the Month challenge hosted by Lou Sheffer of Sew Much to Design. This pattern promises to be, “… your new favourite wardrobe staple! They are effortlessly chic, comfortable, and stylish.” It delivers that in spades. I love the high waisted look with the wide leg profile of these culottes. It has the elasticised paper-bag waistband with drawstring which is so comfortable to wear. I love that the wide waistband sits just above the belly button. This helps to define the waistline and create a flattering shape. It can be styled in so many ways, but my favourite is to tuck a blouse into it. When the weather cools, it could also work well with a chunky sweater partially tucked in.

Constructing the Soline Culottes was so easy and enjoyable. The instructions from Staystitch Pattern Co were very comprehensive. It’s forty-five pages long but there were a lot of extras included and many pocket options. Most of all, I loved the order of construction. As a self-taught sewing enthusiast, this sort of pattern is very educational and the way the instructions have been written could be followed and completed by someone with very little experience.

I started the make with the selection of in-seam pockets. The other options for pockets were a gusseted pocket and patch pockets but I was looking to keep the front and back panels flat to highlight the paper-bag waistband. I really enjoyed the way the inseams were constructed as everything came together so well. Putting together the paper-bag waistband was the final stage and probably took most of my time but again, instructions were well written and logical. It was fun bringing it together.

Sizing was also easy with the positive ease built into the fit. I decided to make the size 10 as my hip measurement of 38 inches was closer to the size 10 fit of 41 inches. My waist measures 33 inches and the size 10 fits 31 inches. Figuring that my slightly larger waistline will be accommodated by the elasticised waistband and seeing that the finished measurements were 45 inches and 45.5 inches, this confirmed to me that the size 10 would be a good fit. 

The fabric I chose was a beautifully soft lyocell linen blend from Spotlight Stores. It comes in 55-inch (140 cm) width and the colour is Brick. It’s a brown with a reddish hue, a lovely part of the colour spectrum. It is a heavier weighted linen so it’s great for a bottom piece. The lyocell in the blend gives it a super soft feel. I used just under 2 meters of the fabric.

This ticks off a first make from my Make Nine Challenge chart under “Casual Trousers”. I’ve decided to use my make nine slightly differently this year. I’ll include more details in a future post and on my Instagram @emsewhappy. Looking forward to another year of fun, learning and sewing.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Reef Camisole and Shorts

Christmas holidays arrived and here in the Southern Hemisphere, we found ourselves in sweltering summer heat. Needless to say, it was too hot to be at the sewing machine but I managed to sew up the Reef Camisole and Shorts Set from Megan Nielsen Patterns. It was my final sew for the year just in time for my favourite time of the year. I’ve always loved the time after Christmas and the start of the new year where there is a quietness and a temporary lull to give us a bit of respite before the whirring of busy-ness begins again. It was a good time to finish making the Reef Set so I could have my pyjama day.

Motivated to finish by coffee and panettone

As usual, if you’re looking after a comprehensive sew-along, you should look at the Megan Nielsen Blog Site. This was my own sewing process. Before heading into that, I wanted to talk about the fabric that I used. I bought this lovely muslin from Spotlight Stores. It caught my eye because of the beautiful mustard colour and the pattern is reminiscent of a field of dandelions. Muslin is such a thin fabric; it’s often used for children’s clothing or baby wraps and for good reason. It’s soft, made of cotton and is such a breathable light fabric which is why I’ve thought to use it for summer pyjamas. 

I remember when I had just started sewing, I tried to sew with muslin fabric. I ended up cutting it up for cleaning cloths because it did not even survive the first wash! The best way to prepare muslin fabric for sewing is to overlock the raw cut edges before washing on the cool cycle. This preserves the integrity of the muslin fabric which has a loose weave otherwise you would risk your washing machine unravelling some of the thin fabric. After washing, I gave it a light iron and went on the cut out the pattern pieces. Another beginner tip is to check your needle. I made sure I had a 10/70 needle to ensure that I wouldn’t damage the delicate fabric.

Starting with the camisole, which is cut on the bias, watch that you don’t handle the fabric too much and lay it flat as it will stretch if you hang the fabric before sewing. I also made sure to staystitch where needed as this helps to stabilise the fabric. I love the look of bias-cut garments as it drapes beautifully especially with silky materials. 

The crossover back yoke is the distinguishing feature of this camisole. It’s a really satisfying construction. It’s also so comfortable to wear. I’m tempted to sew this camisole as a top if I can find the right fabric like silk. Once the crossover back yoke is completed, it comes together very fast. Topstitching the neckline and armscye was my own addition to help secure this fragile fabric. I tend to wash everything in the machine and have little time for hand washing so this will go a long way of preserving my Reef Set. I also secured the facing by stitching in the ditch at the side seams and stitching down the back panel.

Onto the shorts, I made the View B option which is the mid-rise. The hemline is curved and again an interesting construction with the attachment of facings. It elevates the piece from basic elasticised waisted shorts to luxurious summer pyjamas shorts. It doesn’t stop there; it also has pockets!

A quick note on sizing, I made the size 12 for my measurements of 37-inch bust, 33-inch waist and 38-inch hips. The sizing was a great for the shorts, but I could sew up a size for the camisole top. The camisole has very narrow seams except for the side seams which returns to 5/8 inch. I narrowed the side seam to allow more room in the armscye. It still fits me in the size 12 but there are some horizontal fold lines where the front straps meet the bust line. The other option would be to make a full bust adjustment but I would also like to lengthen the camisole so I feel the best option would be to size up.

Now that the busy Christmas holiday period is over and we have turned over to the New Year, I have a few days of lounging around in my newly minted pyjama set. I’m really enjoying my new book which is the second book by Named Patterns titled, “Building The Pattern”. This is my first sewing book and it’s a gem.

Thank you for reading and wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

X Em