yet another StyleARC Laura dress

It seems that the StyleARC Laura dress may become my go-to pattern when I have small amounts of fabric that need to be used.  I still haven’t got the fit quite perfect, but it’s getting better every time.

StyleARC Laura dress

This recent incarnation is a combination of black/white knit jacquard from the Darn Cheap Fabrics remnant bin, combined with Rathdowne Fabrics orange merino jersey scraps.  And yes, that dress is SHORT!  The length was entirely determined by the size of the remnant.  And as you can see, there wasn’t much of it!

StyleARC Laura dress

There is not a great deal more to report about this pattern.  It is very straightforward but always has pleasing results.  This is size 12, but with the back pieces enlarged considerably by cutting the back piece down the centre and spreading it as much as possible.  This keeps the dress fitting snugly around the shoulders and upper chest while allowance enough room to fit around my girth.  It could still do with a short back adjustment – I forget to do this every time!

StyleARC Laura dress

I did seek some instagram input on the type of neckband to use.  There was the option of plain orange, the black/white print, or the two together.  As you can see I eventually decided to keep things simple.

StyleARC Laura dress

When I asked Clare if this dress was too short, she said that it was fine as long as I wore stockings with it.  So I am following her advice!  I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable in anything any shorter.  It is surprisingly warm to wear due to the merino yoke and sleeves.  This pattern will definitely get another outing.

StyleARC Laura dress

My previous Laura dresses can be found here.


book week

Eowyn costume in progress

It’s book week in Australia, and all over instagram there are photos of frantic costume making. I am no exception. The parade is on Friday, so this week I am working on Clare’s Eowyn costume. Just a zip, hems, an undershirt, and another lower sleeve to go. Somehow I only cut one lower sleeve, and I’m out of fabric. Stay at home dad has a trip to Darn Cheap ahead of him today….

winterised Colette Myrtle

I have a confession.  I am not a huge fan of Colette’s women’s patterns.  Not because I don’t think that the styles are gorgeous and the instructions are excellent – because they are both of those things – but because they generally just aren’t MY style.  But it seems that I have to make a massive exception for the patterns designed for knits.  I have made a number of Mabel skirts now, really like my Moneta dress, and now I have to add the Myrtle dress to the list of Colette patterns that I really, really like!

Colette Myrtle dress

As with both the Mabel and Moneta, I wasn’t all that excited by the Myrtle when I first spotted the pattern, but it grew on me. A sleeper pattern, maybe! And there wasn’t much to be lost by giving it a try with some boldly printed knit from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table. So I gave it a go. I decided to cut size Large, based on my measurements and on prior experience with Colette patterns. I didn’t make any alterations. This style is designed with positive ease, mainly being brought closer to the body by the elastic around the waistline.

Colette Myrtle dress

Hang on a minute, I did make one alteration – when I cut the back bodice piece I moved it in about 3/4″ at the upper edge, effectively removing an inch and a half from the centre of the back neckline. This was a good move – it sits nicely against my body around the back. I left out the inseam pockets too – I don’t tend to use them in knit dresses, as I find that they just weigh things down. This left just four pattern pieces – front skirt, back skirt (which is meant to be cut as two pieces with a centre back seam, but I forgot to do that and cut it on the fold instead), back bodice and self-lined front bodice.

Colette Myrtle dress

The bodice is very nicely constructed. The back bodice neckline and armholes are turned to the inside and finished with the twin needle, then the shoulder seams and side seams are sewn with the back sandwiched between the front and front self-lining. Then you stitch the front armholes together, turn it all the right way out and voila! The front neckline drapes beautifully with no chance ever to flip out, the armholes are smoothly finished, and you have an extra layer smoothing over any lumps and bumps at the front. And all the bodice seams are completely enclosed inside between the front and front lining. Fantastic! The casing around the waistline for the elastic is also nicely done, with the elastic being fully enclosed. I could have made the elastic a little tighter, and might go back and adjust it. But I might not.

Colette Myrtle dress

This is the longer version of the dress, and the waistline is lower on me than on the model and the pattern illustration. This is possibly a combination of me being short-waisted and the elastic being a little on the loose side, so be aware of that if you want to make this dress. I quite like it in this location, but may petite the bodice a little the next time that I make it. Now, as you know it is winter here, and this is actually a sleeveless summer dress. But with the addition of stockings, boots and a long-sleeved tee underneath, it winterises very well! I actually wore it with another layer over the top. I’m rather impressed at how well this bold, extremely large-scale print fits in with the rest of my wardrobe (and yes, I have more….)

Colette Myrtle dress

Next time that I make this  I might give the size Medium a try.  However, that would require reprinting and retaping the pattern.  Actually, my biggest gripe with the Colette pdf patterns that I have made has been that the pattern pieces could be SO much better arranged for printing.  The page margins are huge, so they take massive numbers of pages, and the larger sizes are grouped alongside the smaller ones on what ends up to be a massive pattern sheet.  It’s hard to work out which pages you do need to print for your size and which you don’t.  I think that I had to discard about half the pages I’d printed!  Pdf patterns don’t just have to be a tiled version of one huge pattern sheet – there are a number of pattern designers who have realised this and arrange pattern pieces so that they fit efficiently on to a smaller number of pages, where you only need to print the pages of the pattern pieces that you need for the size and variation that you want to make.  In my opinion, Colette patterns needs to improve in this area (but they’re not the only ones)!  Okay, rant over.


McCalls 6844

McCalls 6844 was released a couple of years ago, and was one of Pattern Review’s Best Patterns of 2013.  When I last checked there were over 70 reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review, so I assume that there are countless versions that have been made!  I was a little slower on the uptake than most.  There are a few variations of the pattern in terms of length, whether to include a peplum, and whether to have a straight or high-low hemline.

I threw caution to the wind and decided on view C, with both a peplum and a high-low hemline.  I was dubious about whether I would like this style on me, but I don’t really want to restrict myself to one silhouette in my wardrobe either.  So, the finished jacket!

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This was actually really easy to make. I petite-ed the pattern, shortening it through the body above the waist. I used size Medium throughout. The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is a fairly thick knit jacquard. It was most definitely NOT on the $2 table.  How do they make these knit jacquards?  I’d love a trip to a factory to find out.

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Despite being designed for a knit, the pattern pieces include 5/8″ seam allowances. This actually worked well for this spongy knit, as I sewed it on the machine then pressed seam allowances open. I did use the overlocker to construct and finish some seams, but mainly this was sewn on the machine. I used my twin needle for hems, including the peplum hem after just turning the edges once to the inside and securing them with Vliesofix tape.

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The collar is the same pattern piece, cut twice. With a fabric of this thickness, turn of cloth became a problem. You can see it in the above photo, along the seamline where the collar pieces are joined. If I made this jacket again (and I might well do that) I would shave quarter of an inch or so off the under collar piece. As a fix for this jacket I topstitched along the collar edge, rolling the seamline to the correct place as I went.

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The shoulders could be a little narrower, and I may yet to some sneaky catch-stitching under the collar where it meets the peplum and down to the bottom hem to keep it sitting nicely. But these photos were taken after a full day at work, and I think that it’s looking pretty good! I received some unsolicited compliments on it from random people at work, which was nice, and it met my essential criteria of being comfortable. I can see why this pattern is so popular!

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I was rather impressed that it coordinated with one of my Mabel skirts so beautifully.  The top is a Renfrew that needs to be retired due to pilling.  Black is such a harsh colour on me, but I will still need to replace this top.  Maybe with a long-sleeved Tessuti Lola – the scoop neck will keep that black away from my face.  What other coloured tops would work under the jacket?



Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil dress

The Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil dress was the first thing that I made when we returned from Thailand.  It was in my “cut out and ready to sew” box, and I hoped that because of its simplicity it would get the sewjo flowing again.  And it did!
Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

The Maria Denmark website description is as follows: The Pernille Pencil Dress is a perfect blank canvas for an everyday dress.
Winter-friendly with the long sleeves and the relatively high boat neck – and very comfortable made in a knit fabric such as sweatshirt fabric or ponte knits.
Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

This dress is all of those things. I made mine in a textured knit from Super Cheap Fabrics in Sydney Road, Brunswick. It’s got a rather high synthetic content, and is an interesting construction with two thin layers of knit joined together in a way that creates the texture. At $3 per metre it was a great option for a hopefully wearable muslin.

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

I made size Large, with the C cup option and without the back darts. I don’t need shaping added to my non-existent waist. However, I forgot that Maria Denmark patterns need seam allowances added, so the resulting dress is a little smaller than the size Large but seems to fit me quite well. Construction was very straightforward.  I used the overlocker for most of it, but secured the neckline facing with a twin needle on the machine and hemmed the sleeves and skirt with the twin needle as well. I took a fairly deep hem at the bottom, which adds weight and improves the way it hangs.

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

Unfortunately I forgot to stabilise the neckline before sewing the dress, and it stretched out a little in the process. This has made it wider and deeper than the pattern.  I added strap keepers to the shoulder seams on the inside which proved to be effective at keeping it on my shoulders and stopping straps from showing. There’s really not much more to say about this dress – it’s a wonderful basic. I’ll tweak the pattern a little and take more care in cutting and construction the next time that I make it. And this is how I wore it:

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress


All my life I have wanted a cat.  Two cats, actually.  I dreamed about the day when I had my own house and the two cats that I would have.  I’d even chosen names.  Well, then I met the man I would later marry, we bought a house, and got a cat.  And my husband was REALLY allergic.  The cat was quickly given to a friend, and that was that. We were a pet free household.

Well, the girls have been asking for a pet for years and years and years.  I resisted, as I really didn’t want another responsibility.  However, I can see what a lovely thing pet ownership can be.  Since the girls are now older and more responsible, and there is currently an adult at home full-time, we thought that the timing was right.  So let me introduce Buzz!


Buzz is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with Shih Tzu, and is six and a half years old.  We adopted him from the Lost Dogs Home, so we don’t really know his story from the last six and a half years.  He came to us on Wednesday, and has very quickly become part of our family.

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Now I’ll admit that I know very little about dogs and dog ownership.  I’ve never been what people refer as a “dog person”.  My husband has never had a pet (well, in his bachelor days he had goldfish and axolotls, but he’s never had a mammal as a pet).  My family had a dog when I grew up, but lived in a rural setting on a half acre block and the dog lived outside and pretty much roamed free (this was a long time ago).  We live in inner Melbourne, so Buzz is going to be an indoor dog, just staying outside when no-one is home.  He has already tried to escape from the back yard once, but now the gate has been reinforced and things are very secure.  We are limiting him to the downstairs part of the house – no entry to the sewing room for Buzz!

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So far Buzz is an absolute delight.  He’s been well trained, I haven’t heard him bark once, and he loves to walk on the lead.  He follows commands – even the rather confusing ones from Stella – and loves nothing more than to have his tummy rubbed or to lie on the couch next to you with his head on your lap.  He also likes to lick your hands, which I’m not so keen on but will probably get used to.  He does have a dog bed but it quickly became apparent that he is used to sleeping on the couch.  Oh well – six year old habits are possibly harder to break.  And the couch is already very grubby, so we might go along with that.  He is also very happy to be brushed.  Fortunately there is a dog groomer living two doors up from us, which will be very handy as Buzz will need regular grooming.  And I have sussed out local vet and dog training options too, and there are plenty.

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If you are interested in getting a dog and are pretty inexperienced with animals like we are, I highly recommend getting an adult dog from a shelter!  No puppy behaviour or house training to do, and you are rescuing a dog that needs love and care.  So far we are thrilled with our decision!  The girls’ friends are pretty happy about it too – Buzz is definitely the star attraction at the moment.

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Oh, as for the sewing content of this blog post? I made the pyjamas that Clare is wearing in the above photo – and shall blog about them eventually!

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Foxy Simplicity 1787

Clare’s fox dress is Simplicity 1787.  This pattern has been in stash for a little while.  It starts at a girls size 8, and that’s what I made in width.  I used size 10 for length, both for the sleeves and the body of the dress.  Clare thinks that the sleeves could have been a little longer still.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

I had plenty of black corded piping in stash, so used it to highlight the front princess seams and the yoke. (Yes, it’s a yoke – not a yolk. Sewing spelling pedants unite). Because I was using a stretch fabric I eliminated the centre back zip, and cut the back yoke pieces on the fold without the centre back seam allowance. Clare can get the dress on and off without a zip without much trouble, but if I use the pattern again in a woven I will include the zip. The centre back seam is slightly curved, so retained it rather than cutting on the fold. A little bit of shaping is a nice thing when you are a tween!  The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is the same as Stella’s dress from my last blog post.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

Now, before someone else notices, let me point out the lack of proper pattern matching. Yes, I managed to get a line of foxes centred nicely down the centre front piece, but I failed to match the lines of foxes nicely elsewhere. It really needed cutting out as a single layer, but because I was trying to conserve fabric so that I’d have enough left for a dress for Stella, I didn’t pay as much attention as I could. It is annoying me a little, but it’s too late now! And go on, only half of you noticed anyway.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

The outer yoke pieces are interfaced, and the facing pieces are not. I did understitch the facing so that it wouldn’t roll to the outside around the neckline, and it is also secured with a row of stitching hidden under the piping around the yoke curve. I must use piping more often – it adds such a lovely detail. One of the other nice details about this dress is the cuffs. There are three tucks at the bottom of the sleeve that bring it in to form mock cuffs. I sewed these with the sleeve pieces flat, so they were easy to assemble, and because I was using a knit I sewed the sleeves in to the body of the dress flat as well. Construction was shared between the machine and the overlocker, with the twin needle coming to the fore again to topstitch the hems of the sleeves and the skirt once they had been secured with Vliesofix. But Clare’s favourite detail has to be the pockets.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

See how they sneakily fit into the curved princess seams? This is very much like the Simplicity 2245 Lisette Portfolio dress, and it’s new updated version the Liesl + Co Cappucino dress.  They are surprisingly straightforward to make.  Just follow the instructions!  Actually, that’s possibly the only point where I did pay a great deal of attention to the instructions.  The rest of construction was straightforward and what you’d expect it to be.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

This is another pattern that I’ll definitely make again, and it might even be before winter is over! An excellent tween style, in my opinion, and in Clare’s.