adult's clothing · sewing · teen

McCalls 7626 for Clare

Clare particularly likes the style of clothing from Princess Highway.  We’re fortunate that there’s a clearance outlet not all that far from us selling their clothes and others from related brands (Clear It – who also sell fabric, hooray!) and we are often able to pick up cute pieces there for her.  But when it comes to dresses rather than separates, there’s nothing quite like the fit that I can achieve for her.  Clare is one shop size smaller in tops than in bottoms, and only custom made can accomodate that.

These two Princess Highway dresses give you an idea of the general style and silhouette  that Clare was looking for – a fitted bodice with a square neckline, straps, and an A-line shaped skirt with pockets.  So we hit the pattern books at Spotlight who were having a pattern sale.  We came across a few styles that we liked:

But of course, being Spotlight, not one of them (or the other patterns we were interested in) was in stock.  We eventually found a copy of McCalls 7626 at Lincraft.

McCalls 7626 dress line drawing

We decided that the bodice on this would be perfect.  Clare really liked the fitted waistband and the neckline shape.  The skirt as drafted was much fuller than desired, so I folded out a significant amount of the flare, while keeping the angled pockets.  And the result?

McCalls 7626

Hooray! Just what she was after! The fabric is linen, maybe a cotton blend (thanks to Anna from relocating it from her stash to mine). The bodice is lined in a slightly lighter weight, smoother cotton. Size wise it’s a mash of size 4 and 6. If you’re sewing this dress, use the finished measurements printed on the tissue as your guide for size selection, not the size guide on the pattern envelope. We made quite a few adjustments to bodice fit as we went along, including the usual removal of excess centre back length.

McCalls 7626

I have to say that I am very proud of the centre back zip in this dress! All the seam lines match across the zip perfectly, aided by very judicious marking and pinning. And the print even lines up across the bodice!

McCalls 7626

Clare is a typical teen in that she wants – no, she needs – pockets to put her phone in. These angled pockets are very comfortably placed, and are straightforward to sew. There is topstitching alongside the angled opening which adds details and gives structure.

McCalls 7626

To remove skirt volume I used a vintage A-line skirt pattern from stash as a guide. I made a big slash through the skirt pattern piece from the hemline right up to the waistline then overlapped it until the hem circumference was more suitable, while maintaining the waist circumference. It’s still more flared than A-line, but not excessively so.

McCalls 7626

I really enjoy sewing with linen.  It’s lovely when each seam is pressed and looks crisp.  This fabric didn’t wrinkle as much as some do, and has a little bit of texture.  Sadly, I don’t have any left now!

McCalls 7626

Clare wore this to a function on a super hot day last month and looked both fashionable and comfortable. The armholes are possibly a fraction high at the front – if I make this again I will scoop them out a little further.  I would also remove another centimetre from the bodice length.  Some things are only discovered on wearing.  Otherwise, the fit is great.

McCalls 7626

adult's clothing · sewing · teen · tween

Pattern Emporium Harem pants

Some readers may have picked up on my comments about our forthcoming trip to Borneo.  We leave in only five days, hooray!  Borneo has lots of jungle, and lots of jungle has lots of insects.  The girls needed some cool summer pants that would keep both sun and insects off their legs.

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 8 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

I turned to Pattern Emporium again and used their women’s Harem pants pattern. There is also a kid’s version. My girls are small, but their waist/hip ratio means that the women’s patterns work better for them in bottoms than kids’ patterns do. I sewed size 6 for Stella and size 8 for Clare, which pretty much aligned with their measurements.

Pattern Emporium Harem pants

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 8 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

From the Pattern Emporium website:

  • 2 Fits: Slimline & Relaxed
  • Tapered legs for a flattering fit
  • Full elastic waist
  • Elastic ankle finish
  • Easy fit
  • Low waistline
  • Pockets – 3 Easy Pocket Options, 2 Intermediate Pocket Options 
  • 2 Waistline Options – Elastic, Drawstring
  • 3 Leg Finishes – Elastic, Lounge Pant, Tab Front

Pattern Emporium Harem Pants

We decided on style D, with the curved topstitched pockets and elasticised cuffs, in the slimline fit.  I added two inches to the rise of the pants by extending straight up from the crotch and the side seams of the front and back leg pieces, and made the corresponding alterations to the pockets pieces as well.  My girls don’t like to wear their clothes on their hips; they really prefer a high waist with the waistband where they are smallest.  That’s a major change for Clare who spent her primary school years with everything pulled down onto her hips!

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 8 in rayon

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

The fabrics are all rayon prints (all wovens) from Spotlight. Stella came with me to choose them. I am always fascinated by her choices – they’re not always predictable! I made sure that I prewashed all the fabrics before cutting out, as is my usual practice. Rayon shrinks. These were straightforward to sew, especially once I got to the fourth pair! The girls are happy with them, and I think that they will be perfect for the Bornean jungle.

Pattern Emporium Harem pants size 6 in rayon

adult's clothing · sewing

Yes. It’s another York Pinafore.

I figure that this is York Pinafore number five for me.  It won’t be the last.

Helens Closet York Pinafore in denim from Super Cheap Fabrics over Olivia Oversized Tee

This version is sewn in greenish stretch denim from Super Cheap Fabrics. I knew this fabric would be perfect for this pinafore! The fabric was given to me in exchange for this blog post, along with the offer of a discount code for my blog readers. If you use the code Thornberry-10 at the checkout you’ll get 10% off your entire order.

Helens Closet York Pinafore in denim from Super Cheap Fabrics over Olivia Oversized Tee

In many ways there’s not much to be said about this pattern that hasn’t been said before. I have shortened it a little through the upper body at the shorten/lengthen lines. I like to keep the armholes scooped quite low, but I have a pretty short torso. I’ve also shortened the length a couple of inches.

Helens Closet York Pinafore in denim from Super Cheap Fabrics over Olivia Oversized Tee

The tee underneath is the Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize tee. You’ve seen that pattern on this blog plenty of times too. I was working with a restricted amout of fabric, which has completely dictated the sleeve length. I made sure that I gave the neckband additional stretch when I attached it around the centre front curve, and it sits flat just as it should.

Helens Closet York Pinafore in denim from Super Cheap Fabrics over Olivia Oversized Tee

I have a fantasy of sewing this pinafore in linen to wear over rib tanks in summer – then I realised that I don’t wear tanks! Maybe that will stay a fantasy. Maybe over tees. One of the things that I particularly like about this pinafore is that it’s like wearing a skirt, but without a waistband. That’s a huge tick.

adult's clothing · sewing · teen

The school formal dress

I know that some of you have been looking forward to this blog post!  Be warned, it’s very photo-heavy. I can’t contain my excitement; I’m going to jump straight to showing you the finished dress on Clare.

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

The year 11 school formal was a couple of weeks ago, right at the end of the academic year.  We started preparing for it very early in the year – I think it was February! We decided a long time ago that I would sew Clare her dress, rather than trying to buy one that fitted well.  The overall brief from Clare was ‘Disney princess’.  Clare had been collecting inspiration images, and with those in mind, we settled on Simplicity 8289, a Leanne Marshall design.

Sewing for the formal Sewing for the formal

We’d decided that pale blue or pale green would be good colours for Clare. So when Helen took me on my first ever shopping trip to Eliza Fabrics, and showed me the amazing silks that were available, I knew that it was meant to be! I bought up big on pale blue silk satin/twill and silk georgette (almost chiffon in weight), and bought the last of the pale green silk georgette that was in stock. In the end I went back a second time for more of the pale blue – which was fortunate, as I used almost all of the fifteen metres or so in total that I bought!  Because the silk was so reasonably priced, I used it for the lining as well as the dress itself.

Sewing for the formal

Sewing for the formal

We found the embroidered tulle for the bodice overlay at The House of Franke Stuart, a Melbourne institution for formal and wedding fabrics.  It matched the pale green silk georgette beautifully, and our plan was to overlay it on the pale blue to tie together the two colours.  Then it was time to start on the muslins.  Out came an old sheet, and off I went.

Sewing for the formal

Sewing for the formal

Muslin #1 was size 4 graded to size 6 at the waist. As you can see, it’s way too big, and way too long in the back bodice. I scribbled all over it, and recut in a straight size 4 for muslin #2 with some added length at centre front and removed some length at centre back. We also swapped the view B overlay to view A.

Sewing for the formal

Sewing for the formal

You can see that this muslin needed a lot more of the length removed from the upper back pieces.  I folded and pinned those out,  made yet more notes, then decided it was time to cut into the real fabric.  I interfaced the bodice fabric with a good quality fusible interfacing, then cut and sewed.

Sewing for the formal

Sewing for the formal

In the above photos the bodice is unlined and unpressed. Clare decided that she didn’t really fancy the wavy lace edging on the back and would prefer cleaner lines, so I recut the back pieces with the scalloped edging on the ‘armhole’ edges.

Sewing for the formal

Lined and pressed – so much better!

Sewing for the formal

Sewing for the formal

Then it was time to tackle the skirt. The skirt is a full circle skirt in three layers – lining, main skirt, then georgette/chiffon. That’s a whole lot of cutting out in a slippery fabric required. I really should have done a gelatine soak to make the fabric easier to handle before I cut. I was able to use a large dining table at a friend’s house, but it was still pretty challenging. The drapey bits attached to the skirt at the waistline are six sets of rectangles in three different sizes. I roll hemmed the edges on the overlocker. I really do love my Juki overlocker! I had done an overlocker class with Sew Into Overlocking at The Cloth Shop earlier in the year, which gave me the confidence to finish the edges that way.

Sewing for the formal

You can see in the above photo just how much the bias dropped in the silk fabrics. It was really rather astounding. I left the skirt hanging for about a month to allow the bias to continue to drop before I hemmed it. And boy, the hemming! That was quite an experience in and of itself! Once again I thanked my lucky stars for the lovely rolled hem produced on the Juki. We started by having Clare stand on the table and slowly rotating as I measured and marked the finished length on the lining, then repeated the process for the main skirt, then again for the chiffon/georgette overlay. The roll hem gave a lettuce edge finish on these fabrics, which Clare loved!

Sewing for the formal

We’d bought Clare’s shoes on eBay – I have a favourite seller who sells sample sizes at extremely reasonable prices. Clare and I are both sample size, and these sandals provided height with stability. By all reports, they were comfortable and stayed on Clare’s feet all evening (unlike many of the girls who left at the end of the event with their shoes in their hands). So that was it – the dress was finished, about three weeks prior to the event. But of course, I am a sewer – doesn’t there need to be something left to the last minute? How about a matching clutch?

Sewing for the formal

So on the day of the formal, I produced an Ida Clutch. It’s the first time that I’ve sewn this pattern (it won’t be the last) and it’s far from perfect in this fabric, but it did the job. And of course, I had fun with the lining.  It fitted the brief perfectly!

Sewing for the formal

Sewing for the formal

So, accessories were all gathered together, and it was time to get ready! Clare did her own hair and makeup; she’d had her nails done at a salon the day before. Her earrings, necklace and bracelet were mine, her ring was her great-grandmother’s, and we bought her sparkly headband.

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Oh, the swish and the swirl of that skirt! I had been a bit worried that I should have left it a fraction longer, but this length turned out to be perfect from a practical level. Dresses that graze the floor look wonderful in red carpet photos, but it’s really so much better if you can walk, run and dance in your dress! Clare then met up with her gang at a friend’s house to take more photos, then walk to the formal together. It was so much fun walking down the high street with them to the venue and watching everyone’s reactions!

2019-11-28 18.19.10 (2)

2019-11-28 18.29.15 (2)

2019-11-28 18.50.48-2

2019-12-02 10.54.08

I’ll hand over to Clare to give her verdict on the dress and on the evening. ‘Because we had tried on  the dress along the way I had a fair idea of how it was going to look.  But once I was all dressed up I felt like a fairy princess.  There was lots of skirt, so I did plenty of swishing.  The dress stayed comfortable without any adjusting during the night. We had a blast – hung out with friends, took photos, did some dancing’.

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

Simplicity 8289

This was my favourite project of the year.  I was incredibly pleased with the finished dress – it looked just as we’d both hoped, fitted her beautifully, and also fitted her personality.  In terms of sewing statistics, there’s more than fifteen metres of fabric involved, possibly around $200 to $250 in total, and maybe forty to fifty hours of time.  The amount of love involved – immeasurable.  And the best bit?  I get to do all this again for Stella in five year’s time!

adult's clothing · sewing

Celestial with sleeves

Sometimes you don’t realise at first what a winner a pattern will be.  You sew it up, wear it, maybe sew another one, then a few years pass and you realise that you are still regularly reaching for that garment.  It just works for you.  So you make it again.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

I first sewed the Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress back in 2014! That dress is still in my wardrobe (although a little snug at present). I then sewed it again in 2015.  I am a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to sew it a third time, especially because there have been both a sleeveless and this 3/4 sleeved free pattern expansions released since then.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

Oh, I love those sleeves. Wide elastic in a sleeve cuff has really taken my fancy over the past year! They’re very easy to sew too. The whole dress is actually quite straightforward. Sew the bodice shoulder seams, face the neckline and topstitch it down, sew in the sleeves, make the skirt, attach the skirt to the bodice. Then it’s just the finishing details.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

I sized up this time to the largest pattern size as I really didn’t want this to pull around my bust. I possibly overdid it a tad – one size smaller than this would have been okay.  The fabric is tencel from Clear It. Tencel really does have a magnificent drape. It’s the shade of blue that wanders toward purple with a greyish cast but somehow remains blue. I wasn’t sure that it would suit me, given that it’s rather cool toned and I am usually drawn to warmer tones, but when I tried on the finished dress I liked it!

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

It does show the sitting wrinkles a bit, unfortunately, but it’s so nice to wear. The tencel flows and moves and is incredibly comfortable against my skin. I have some of this fabric left, and suspect that my daughters may battle one another for it.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

I think that I need to keep this pattern beside my cutting table. I need to sew all the versions! The pattern website describes it as follows: The Celestial Hack #2 maintains the appeal of the original trapeze dress. The new sleeve billows with glamour giving this super modern style a touch of 70’s romance, whilst keeping true to its original simple, utilitarian, beginnings. The new sleeve, length, volume and gathering ratios have been carefully considered to keep in balance with the skirt. 

102celhackinst_2poster_1600x

The free sleeve hack (I don’t like the term ‘hack’ as applied to sewing patterns, but it appears to be a generally accepted term so I just need to accept it and move on) only works in conjunction with the original Celestial dress pattern.  From the Pattern Fantastique website: The Celestial Max Dress (Pattern #102) is our super-femme space age gown. Strong lines and careful shaping give this dress major volume and an elegant fit. The Celestial comes with length options from Maxi to Top lengths. It can be made in most woven fabrics. Perfect for getting married on Mars or becoming your favourite no-fuss dress. RECOMMENDED FABRICS All wovens excluding super-heavyweight thick fabrics. Crisper fabrics will enhance the garment shapes, making the skirt hem appear wider. Lighter fabrics will provide drape, movement and a softer sleeve.

102_cel_poster_1600x

I think that I need some more of both dress versions, in a shorter length.  I also need to give the sleeveless/pinafore version a go.  I feel that these are fashionable patterns that will remain fashionable for years and years – they’re not ‘trendy’ but have interesting shapes and details that make them both interesting to sew and to wear.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

You already know that I have sewn myriad Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tees. The other garment of Nita-Jane’s that I especially love is the Falda jacket (my version of it is here). I sewed it back in early 2016, and still wear it regularly.  It is very versatile, and is another pattern that I know I will be sewing for years and years.  Many of you have already sewn the Genoa Tote, a collaboration with Blogless Anna (I have made multiple myself), and I am currently eyeing off the Calyx Smock.  I love the look of the Terra pants and Cove pants but know that I am an elastic waistband woman, so I’m unlikely to sew either of those.  I’m definitely looking forward to the dress pattern that I know is in the works because Anna recently wore a prototype to Frocktails.  Don’t you love it when you find a pattern that works well for years and years?

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

adult's clothing · sewing

The Wilder Gown

The Wilder Gown, by the Friday Pattern Company, has really taken off since it’s release.  It’s everywhere on sewing blogs and Instagram!  It has surprised how I have gone from someone who first though ‘nah, it’s a nightie’ to someone who has really embraced this silhouette and pattern.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

One of the joys of this pattern is finding fabric that has terrific flow and lightness. This polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics is just perfect for it – and the colours and print is perfect for me. It’s got a crepe texture, gathers really easily, has a bit of body while still being slightly sheer, presses well and it swishes perfectly. I often avoid polyester, but honestly there are some excellent polyesters around.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I had sewn this pattern in the top version earlier in the year to get an idea of sizing before I tackled a dress.  I made the dress in the same size as the top, XL in line with my bust measurement.  Interestingly,  in this fabric I think I should have made the L.  It’s just  a more voluminous than I would prefer.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

Because so many people have sewn this already I was able to get some ideas from the hive mind about what tweaks might work for me. I lengthened the bodice an inch or two (can’t remember exactly which), and cut the skirt panel pieces two inches shorter than the pattern suggested. I’m not very tall! I also decided to just cut the skirt panels to the width of the fabric. So the top tier is the full width of the fabric, gathered in to the top, and the bottom tier is twice the full width of the fabric.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I think that my skirt cutting decision has resulted in a top tier with less gathering than the panel, and a bottom tier with more, but it still works just fine! The bottom tier is narrow hemmed. I did the gathering the old fashioned way with two parallel rows of lengthened straight stitches sewn on the machine. I have learned how to gather on the overlocker, but some habits die hard! I also like the amount of control that I get from hand gathering that way.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I suspect that part of the appeal of this dress is that it’s simple to sew and to wear, yet the gathered neckline is a detail that isn’t often found in otherwise simple patterns. It’s not hard to fit, due to the style, and fabric choice makes quite a difference to the overall look.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I’m SO unlikely to wear this with the gathered neck tied at the front, but I really do like it just left open and untied. That said, I’ve seen it look super cute on others when tied in a bow.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

Because this is slightly sheer, I have been wearing a purchased slip under it. That’s been a bit to do with the weather too though – I’ve needed that little bit more warmth. Melbourne has been unseasonably cool this November/December. It is certainly a stand out garment, especially in this bright fabric. Although I’ve usually thought of polyester as a hot fabric, this one doesn’t feel like that. Fibre technology really has changed over the years!

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

Super Cheap Fabrics gave me open slather to choose a couple of lengths of fabric to make whatever I liked, and share it with you in a blog post. Since I often sew with their fabrics anyway, that was an offer that I wasn’t going to refuse! They’ve also offered a discount for my blog readers. It’s a further 10% off your entire order if you enter the code Thornberry-10 at the checkout.  Although they have a couple of physical shops in Melbourne, nowadays a huge amount of their business is online, and they’ll post fabric anywhere.

adult's clothing · sewing

Maya and Daphne

More repeat patterns!  Today I present to you my most recent incarnations of the Marilla Walker Maya Top and Style Arc Daphne Duo pant.

Maya top and Daphne pants

I’ll start with the top. It was sewn back in July, so completely unseasonal. I was sorting through my stash and came across a small length of super soft black chambray (almost lightweight denim) and wondered what I could use it for. The Maya top popped into my head, so off I went.

Marilla Walker Maya top in lightweight denim

This is an incredibly simple pattern, but took me ages to sew! I remember that I slowed right down for this top, and really took my time. I used contrasting double gauze for the neckline and armhole/sleeve facings, and made bias binding from it as well to finish the hemline.

Marilla Walker Maya top

Marilla Walker Maya top

Marilla Walker Maya top

From the pattern website: The Maya pattern takes its influence from my Central American mother and family. It is a cap sleeve dress or top that is designed to hang well from the shoulders and have a wide fit from the bust down, much like a traditional Guatemalan Huipil. It is intended to be playful and fun and can really showcase an amazing fabric, whether that be a bold print or luscious fibre.

Although relatively simple in design, the variations are endless and there are several lengths to choose from ranging from a cropped top to a knee length dress with a hip length top and shorter dress length in-between. Other variants include a straight or shaped hem, button or plain front as well as an option for a sash belt.

The construction is straight forward and creates a tidy finish as you work through the instructions leaving no raw edges in sight.

FABRIC SUGGESTIONS – Light to medium weight woven fabric.

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 7.55.01 am

I still remember that this was an extremely satisfying garment to sew.  Every fabric involved pressed beautifully, sewed easily, and the end result really pleases me.  I can’t remember what size I sewed – I’d need to pull out the pattern to find out – but suspect it was size 5 or 6 based on bust measurement.

Marilla Walker Maya top in lightweight denim

Athough it’s black, being chambray I feel that it’s a softer type of black and isn’t too harsh against my extremely pale skin.

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

The Daphne Duo pants are a Style Arc pattern. I last sewed them in linen, and thought that rayon would work nicely. This fabric is from Spotlight – they have some terrific rayon and viscose prints at the moment. Just make sure that you pre-shrink them all before you cut out your garment!

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

From the pattern website: A pant that is a perfect partner to our Daphne Duo Tunic. The side seam ankle tucks gives the legs an interesting shape and sets it apart from a regular elastic waist pull on pant. Using a stretch woven fabric for the back waistband allows this pant to sit on the waist without bulk across the hip. You will enjoy wearing this fashionable yet comfortable pant. FABRIC SUGGESTION Crepe, silk, woven that drapes. Stretch woven (we used Bengaline with 30% stretch) for the back waistband.

daphne-pant

I did as Style Arc did and used bengaline for the back waistband.  I always hold on to my bengaline scraps, so have managed to accumulate quite a few colours over the past few years.

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

There is also elastic in the waistband. The combination of bengaline and elastic with the flat centre front piece makes these pants extremely comfortable to wear and they easily accommodate my weight fluctuations. Now I’m tempted to see if I can find the time to sew just one more pair of these pants before Christmas!

Maya top and Daphne pants