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C1017: Get Your Frock On

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October is also known in these parts as Frocktober! I’m not quite able to fully join in the mantra of Frocktober (a dress a day, ever day, during the tenth month of the year – to help raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer) but I’m going to try it on for size at the weekends. For those that don’t know me – this is actually quite a challenge… I’m not really a wearer of dresses. But October has been set aside for dress sewing and dress sewing alone, so you can expect to see another dress following hotly on the heels of this appropriately floral Peony! The dress is very… sweet? – definitely a million times more girly than what I would normally go for. But after wearing it two days straight, I’m really rather liking it. Why do things never look as good in my photos as they do in real life? 

I saw the floral fabric on Gorgeous Fabrics back in July and knew it would become Peony were it to fall into my hands, and there was a perfectly matching apricot coloured cotton as well which I used for the trim, bodice lining and an underskirt. The combination of colours reminds me of these beautifully hued peonies…

peony flowers

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Back when I was searching for buttons for my Baby-its-cold-outside Coat, I came across L’ucello – the kind of kitschy, vintage mishmash of sewing related paraphernalia shop that makes you involuntarily smile as you walk around because there’s beautiful things as far as the eye can see. True to their vintage haberdashery purpose, they have an outstanding collection of lace trims (and buttons!), and I fell for the geometric floral lace trim that is now securely applied (by hand and with silk thread so you can’t see the stitches!) to the waist of this dress. At the time of writing this they don’t yet have a website, but their blog gives you a wonderful idea of what’s in store if you care to visit them (in the Nicholas Building off Swanston St, right next door to Buttonmania, another totally awesome shop you really should visit!).

Otherwise, this is my kind of dress pattern – bateau neck, little sleeves, waist definition. I do remember having to make a trawler-load of alterations to my toile the first time around though – I’m not quite as curvy as the size models they use at Colette Patterns, and those bodice darts were pointing in every which direction except where they should have been. No matter no more! :)

Because the floral cotton was quite soft and not as tightly woven as you might think it, I also included a little underskirt in the apricot fabric – it gives a little more poofiness where I gathered it, will help protect against wrinkling and acts a bit like a slip. It was also a perfect use of the exact remainder I had left! Ages and ages ago, I bought a really long piece of lace trim off Etsy – it was finally put to use to secure the hem on both of the skirts:

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I did the same seam treatment as on my first version – The Green Peon(y), using orange rayon seam binding to pretty-ify the seam allowances. And it was a bazillion times quicker to make up because a) I didn’t have to wrestle with pleats and b) I’d already toiled it so I knew I could get straight down to the business end of sewing. I really must make the habit of sewing up already-toiled patterns… it’s sooooo much easier :)

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More vibrantly coloured when shot indoors and with a flash…


I pushed all of the easing in the sleeve cap up to the shoulder seam line to give a little poof to the sleeve cap, and trimmed them with some of the left-over apricot cotton.

Bring on Spring and Summer!

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He sees, She sees

He sees a Self-Levelling Laser Level with a tripod.

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She sees one hellava hi-tech hem marking tool.

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Actually, I totally can’t take any credit because my dad suggested this whilst I was attempting to level the hem of a dress my mum is making. I’m hanging out with the parentals in Brisbane this weekend where it really is ‘beautiful one day, and perfect the next’. 


Whatta champ!

M6460: Melbourne Cup Carnival Outfit Planning

Peeps, I’ve been invited to spend Crown Oaks Day in a Marquee – squee!!! Besides being entirely unprecedented, I mean – since when do engineers get invited to these fancy soiree type things? (In case you were wondering, the answer to that is an emphatic neverUsually events like this are the territory of more publicly inclined professions. Regardless, it means I need a hat and an appropriate outfit – PRONTO.

For the non-Australian readership (maybe even non-Victorian), Oaks day is the third day in the Melbourne Cup Spring Racing Carnival, traditionally known as ‘ladies day’. This year it’s the 152nd Melbourne Cup Carnival, and its a big enough deal that all Victorian’s get a public holiday on the day of the ‘race that stops a nation’. Or something like that.

Horse racing might be the main attraction for some, but for those like myself, it’s all about the people watching. There’s a dress code, the fashions on the field contest and lets not forget – the celebrities on display:

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Dita Von Teese, photo care of the today network


Drool. Oh how I wish she was coming back again this year! ….And right down to the ‘why are you even famous?’ grade, of which I’m not even going to deign to show a photo of.

Keeping in mind that this is a ‘work’ function (so no extensive displays of décolletage or hems shorter than that which I’d normally wear to work), I’ve got a copycat of Erica B’s yellow mellow dress in mind… 


Although I’m still on the fence as to whether to go sleeve-less or sleeve-more. I will be using (from my stash) a blue-toned blood red silk/cotton voile overlayed with a white geometric lace, appropriately named ‘racy lacey’!

Fabric

I’m planning to have the lace on the outside as a dress in itself, ‘lined’ with the voile which will imply the sweetheart neckline (which I’ve discovered I like on me a lot more than I thought I would… maybe I should try the macaron dress after all?), so a few pattern changes will be required. It also needs a vent, otherwise stairs will be impossible to navigate.

But before I’d even got the toile underway I’d already come across a snag. This McCalls pattern has cup sizes, which you think would be a good thing. They have you measure your full bust, then upper bust, and the difference between the two dictates your cup size according to the pattern. This indicated I would be an A/B cup – a measurement I don’t think I’ve ever been! I decided to go ahead with it though, and it was pretty much spot on. I think then that the term ‘cup sizes’ is a little misleading? I’d be really curious to hear from others who have sewn patterns with cup sizes. 

I still have to take out some excess fabric at the arm, but this is a standard alteration for me these days. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a muslin photo, so in the interests of keepin’ it real – my super glamorous (and inside-out) grainy toile photo indicates it still needs some work done. 

M6460 Muslin
 
Damn you, low-light conditions. Thank goodness we now have some daylight in the evening hours to look forward too!
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Just Another Freddie Vest…

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I’m back from a little sew-batical! Yeah… my sewing mojo has taken a bit of a beating recently. That combined with a hectic schedule at home + work meant I needed something lighthearted, fun and with fabric I could get excited about to entice me to get back together again with my Janome. 

At our recent Melbourne Sewist’s Meetup, nearly everyone was talking about the Freddie Vest – a pattern with rather a bit of rock-star appeal, from a fellow Melburnian over at The Maker’s Journal. You’d expect that it would, considering it was named after Mr Mercury himself… It fit the bill to end my hiatus! I sewed most of this up during our Social Sewing outing (organised by Rachel from My Messings) where I was lucky enough to again spend the day sewing with a fabulously lovely group of ladies – I’m really looking forward to our next session!

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I love the concept of mis-matching different weighted and patterned fabrics like this – the options are endless… But not really trusting myself to put together a winning combo and absolutely loving the version shown here, I took the shameless route of complete copy cat. And I’m liking the result a lot more than I thought I might.

I made the 14 (it comes in Australian Sizing), and used Liberty of London Fabrics for the front (Milliner Grey) and the lining (Axiom Black), some textured metallic-print fabric (Elephant’s Back, not available online) all from Tessuti, and some gunmetal-blue petersham ribbon (and elastic) I bought from Clegs. The other great thing is this pattern uses so little fabric!

I made a few changes, mainly shaving back the curved seam allowances at the back for a closer (non-poufy) fit against my body. Without knowing better, I would say the pattern accommodates up to a B cup – if you’re a fair bit bigger than this (like I am), then you’ll need to adjust the front pattern piece to avoid the it-must-have-shrunk-in-the-wash look. For me this meant I needed to move the elastic casing a bit further south, which didn’t surprise as the location for this is the same on the 8 as it is for the 14. Ah well.

What I do really love about this pattern is the finishing – it could even be reversible if you didn’t mind inverted darts/tucks on the front!

The instructions require some super fancy footwork between you and your Iron. I (metaphorically) have two left feet – ironing flat a 0.5mm seam allowance? Yeah… I prefer my fingers un-burnt and my fabric un-scorched, thank you. One lightbulb moment later and I was using my new-found miniature hemming technique to take care of those pesky 0.5mm seam allowances.

Rock on, people.

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