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

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

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.

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