She sparkles into the night

Um so, it’s been a long time between drinks, hasn’t it? Its funny how a few weeks turns into a year in the blink of an eye! I’ve been sewing more than ever, but these days most of my project documentation lives on instagram (find me at LadyxBec). Still, I do like the idea of this little spot on the web as a place for more in-depth analysis of projects and patterns so I’m planning to keep it around, albeit with an irregular posting schedule.

Oh hey there! I'm Bec and I enjoy floral prints, silk fabric, and cocktails that are on fire. I live in Canberra and I've been sewing for about 4 years. Apart from sewing I spend my days working as a public servant, hanging out with my rabbit Oreo and att

So! On to the dress! I purchased Vogue 1374, a cowl-backed, sequin encrusted Badgley Mischka design over a year ago, thinking that one day I would quite like a sequin dress. When I got word that my departments annual ball would swap to a soiree this year I was inspired, making the gown knee-length would not only make it more appropriate for the occasion but also (hopefully) mean I could wear it to other events in future. Not long after I stumbled across the perfect sequin fabric at spotlight, between the ideal colour – a kind of bronze/black/brown and the ideal price (40% off) I knew I had to have it. At the same time I picked up some stretch beige lining.

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The first issue I encountered was that my stretch lining didn’t have enough stretch – it fit OK over my hips and bust, but didn’t have much give. Therefore I decided to add some additional ease to the sequined outer fabric. This was a terrible idea. The sequins stretched SO MUCH MORE than the lining, partly because they were more stretchy due to the mesh base and partly because the weight of all those sequins dragged everything down.

The other major problem was the pain of cutting and sewing the sequins. I cut my fabric in a single layer, facing down and still wore protective goggles in case of flying sequins. When I came to sewing the sequined fabric it only got worse – I broke more than 15 needles and only the goggles saved my from some near-misses with sequin shards and broken needles. After that the clean-up, while tedious on carpet was nothing.

I ended up hemming with fusible hem tape as I couldn’t face the thought of sewing more sequins on the machine and had no time to hand-sew. I would like to go back and re-hem using a strip of the lining, but the hem tape has held on with remarkable staying power!

2016-11-24_05-37-52 I made only three alterations to the pattern: I tacked the back cowl interlayers to either side at the back, ensuring it sat high enough to wear a regular bra, and I shortened the sleeves and the length. Because of the weight of the sequins, I also did a loose row of hand stitching right under my bust to stop the sequined layer dragging so much and also hand stitched the lining at the neckline to keep it from peaking out.

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Overall I am thrilled to pieces with this frock – it went together very well and if you were using a stretch jersey or velvet it could easily be made in a day. I adore walking around like a living disco ball, and, because of the stretch it’s also super comfy!

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Worn to: Work Spring Soiree, Canberra Sewing Crew Spring Fling.

Overall rating: 5/5

PS: I don’t know why I have such awful bitchface in these pictures – I promise you I was actually drunk + happy!

Wrapping it up

I am (still) very, very behind on blogging but obviously instead of playing catch-up, here’s the most recent dress I made! It’s the Cashmerette Appleton. I wasn’t really planning on buying the pattern but when I saw the safety pin fabric Jenny was selling alongside it I just couldn’t resist.

Tonight on the blog: my Cashmerette Appleton wrap dress. #sewing #sewcialists
(spot the bun bun!)

Wrap dresses are one of those things like pencil skirts, which everyone says look great on a curvy figure but I have never loved on myself. After making the lekala three seam skirt (another project that needs to be blogged!) and discovering that a properly fitted straight/pencil skirt looks great on me I thought the same may be true of the humble wrap. I admit while making it I had a lot of doubts. I have never sewn with a fabric as stretchy as this jersey and it was a nightmare! it moved EVERYWHERE and stretched all over the damn place. I tried it on briefly when it was half constructed and felt pretty meh, but I hate wadders and the kit was expensive so I soldiered on. When I popped on the completed dress I was truly shocked at how good it looked. I wore it out to dinner with some friends and found it super comfy and chic – so much so that I have worn it 5-6 times already and I’ve only had it two weeks!

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I made a few small changes to the pattern which I believe made all the difference. The amount of negative ease over the lower half concerned me and I don’t love straight skirts so I flared out the skirt grading from an 16 at the waist to a 28 at the hem. I then shaved off the hem at the side seam to be straight. I also interfaced the waist tie with a light stretch interfacing to give it a little more structure and heft.

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Now onto the things I DIDN’T love: to be honest the fabric is a disappointment. I was hoping it would be a suitably fun dress for casual Fridays but the fabric is much too casual-looking. The print is very cute, but it’s one of those fabrics that shows white when stretched which is a personal pet peeve. It is also showing some faint signs of pilling already. Most of these issues were not apparent until it was washed (on gentle in cold water as is my norm). I do tend to favour more “fancy” and higher-quality fabrics because I think they both look and wear better but I’ve been known to use a quilting cotton from Spotlight so I don’t think my standards are over the top high.

That said I really like the dress and think it’s great for weekend wear. I already made a second one for my pregnant sister, who loves the way it sits over the bump and is super-adjustable for her post-baby body. She has a much smaller bust, but the excess fabric doesn’t look saggy or untidy and it will be a great dress for breastfeeding. For myself, I would love to make a version in some luxe silk jersey!

Until next time

(yet another) floral dress

Hi everyone! I made this flirty little number simply AGES ago but after wearing it to a dear friends’ wedding it’s been hanging neglected and waiting for pics.

Tonight on the ole blog: Vogue 8898 #sewing #voguepatterns

This is Vogue 8998 a flirty, fun frock with a big skirt. Just the kind of thing I adore. It also comes with cup sizes A, B, C, and D. I quite like these multiple bust size patterns, although I will confess that I’ve realised that they don’t fit quite right on me. Comparing the bodice of this dress, to my favourite FBA’d princess seam block I can see the issues straight up. The neckline, both front and back is too wide and because I narrow quite a lot directly below my bust it’s loose there both in front and at the sides.

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Originally, I felt quite “meh” about the dress, which is part of the reason it hung around in the wardrobe for so long. I went for View B, with its cute collar action. I chose to do the collar and waistband in a contrasting cream silk/cotton, both because I was running super short on fabric and because I thought it would be fun. I don’t love the contrast waistband, so I don’t think I would do that again but I do love the look of the collar. I also didn’t love the way the gathered skirt looked (it’s drafted to just have gathers at the side). I pinned it all in, but then decided that it would just make my hips look huge, so I evenly gathered the fabric all the way around the waist instead.

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I realise this may seem as though I don’t like the dress, which isn’t true – I do like it, I just don’t love it as much as I expected too. I think partly because the fit is not quite right, and partly because the skirt isn’t as big as I was hoping for. After putting it on for pictures, I’ve decided I like it a lot more than I remember. I think a little distance has made me appreciate it more for what it is, rather than what it was in my head!

Until next time!

Getting Skirty

Despite the fact that I rarely sew them, I adore skirts. I particularly love the high-waisted full, pleated skirts that are everywhere right now. They seem just the thing for work with a pretty blouse and for play with a tee-shirt. I rocked this little number to the May Canberra Sewing Crew and was pumped that there was just enough sunlight when I got home to take some sweet pics.

I have tried a few skirt patterns (didn’t love them enough to blog), but none of them seemed “right” so armed with some fitting room photos and the measurements of a full pleated RTW dress I set about creating my own pattern.

Tonight on the blog: this sweet skirt using V8998 for the waistband and a self drafted skirt. Also bad pictures and awkward dancing #sewing #completed
(I was so happy with it I decided to do an awkward looking dance)

I used the waistband from Vogue 8998, which is contoured and fits my really well. Then I started on the skirt. I gave it 5 pleats at front and back, inseam pockets and a back zipper. Lots of these RTW skirts have invisible zips, but I was worried that over the waistband it would be hard to zip/not strong enough so I used a regular zip and centre lapped it.

I did have some issues with the pleats – I think perhaps my maths skills need some work as it took me about 4 tried to get the skirt waist to be the same length as the waistband. I’m planning on re-drafting the skirt pieces as I had the same issue with my second version despite carefully re-measuring and making.

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I am really, really happy with the finished product! I used Monet Meets Modern Sateen in Blue/Pink from the remnant warehouse. It’s the perfect fabric for a skirt like this and lovely quality.

Plus as I said this type of skirt is great for dressing up and down. I wore it to a music festival a tee (actually this exact outfit if I’m being honest), and then to work with heels and a blouse. I’ve already made my second version and I’m keen for many more!

Until next time.

P.S. there were more photos, until I realised I had demon eyes in all of them. So instead you get awkward dance and head cut-off pictures. Because of course

A wool workdress

What’s up readers? I have been stitching up a storm lately but neglecting to take photos. I seriously have about 5 unblogged projects rattling around. In other news, I turned 28 last week (am officially old) and started a new job just over a month ago (which is so far both enjoyable and crazy busy). To celebrate, I decided to treat myself to some birthday goodies:

All my birthday presents to myself came at once! #libertyoflondon #mac #lipstickaddict #fabricaholic #nofilter

So onto the dress, it’s another New Look 6723, my fourth I think. What can I say, there’s something so lovely about a pattern that just works. This time I used the pattern’s skirt, but made it a bit fuller though the extremely scientific process of moving the centre front and centre back a little way inwards to add an extra 5 inches or so. I then did a pleat at the princess seams and then another to the side a little. I moved the waistline up a bit as this wool is very drapey and I think it stretched a little and sat too low. I included pockets for the storing of things, as always.

Tonight on the blog: this sweet wool number using New Look 6723 #sewing #sewcialists

The fashion fabric is a gorgeous wool I got from Mood last March, it presses like a dream and although it creases a little more than I would like it holds up to wear very well. The dress bodice is lined with white cotton batiste which I picked up at Spotlight forever ago (sadly this was the last of it – I must pick up dome more) and the skirt with white rayon lining from Fabric.com. I prefer using cotton to line the bodice as I find it comfier. Plus it’s easier to work with on princess seams and doesn’t slip around while cutting.

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There’s not much else to say really, it’s just a simple, classic dress that wears really well. I’m planning on making another in some beige wool as I get so much wear out of this one I thought having another would be just the trick.

PS isn’t my bunny brooch adorable?

Until next time!

Spring is for Shirtdresses

So I can’t remember where I first saw McCall’s 6696 but I remember thinking I should make one. When Mary announced she was hosting the fall Spring of 1000 shirtdresses, I was on it like white on rice.

So I FINALLY took blog photos for the #1000shirtdresses @mccallpatterncompany 6696. In summary: excellent pattern but the back gathers are not my thing. Blog link in profile :)

For my first go round I used this sweet floral lawn, originally from Lincraft, which I picked up from eBay in a bulk lot of floral cotton lawns (12 meters for $65! It was fate). I won’t lie, this is some next level Betty Draper red wine and chain smoking stuff. I also won’t lie about how much I love it.

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This pattern was a dream to work with. For once I actually followed the instructions (which were great) as it’s full of things I either never or rarely do. The last time I tried to construct a collar it did not go well. Same for the last time I attempted a button-closure. This time they both came out great. There is a lot of hand stitching involved, which worked for me because I love to sit in front of the TV and hand stitch away. If that’s not your thing you could always topstitch.

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I sewed a 16D, based on my measurements and it fits pretty much perfectly. There is, however one problem with this dress… THE HUNCHBACK OF DOOM! If you look around at other versions, this seems like a fairly common issue although I think mine looks worse than most. There is just waaaaay to much fabric in those gathers for my liking. I also think the back is too long, which contributes to the bunching right above the waistband. On my next version I’m going to shorten the back and take out some of that excess, which I think will solve the problem just fine. Next time I will also do a full bicep adjustment because I find the sleeves a tiny bit tight. In the meantime, I’ve found that if I want to go sans cardigan tucking the excess fabric in behind a belt works a treat to hide the issue.

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All in all, however this dress gets a massive thumbs up!

A (very) late very Merry Christmas!

Why hello there!

Merry Christmas! This year's Christmas Dress is @simplicity_creative_group S2444 in a crafting cotton from @lincraft #sewcialists #sewing

I did mean to post this earlier, but was quite distracted by the holiday season, which in joyous news included my grandmother’s 90th birthday, in less joyous, our first Christmas without my mother.

I got some sweet goodies, including a bunch of Hello Kitty stuff from SS and some adorable fashion illustrations from my half sister, K.

But you’re here for the sewing, yes? This year I decided it would be fun to make a Christmas dress for both the big day and any other Christmas-ey events. I used the old faithful Simplicity 2444, this time with a FBA! I think it turned out ok, but there is room for improvement – the area directly under my bust is now too loose by far. I’m not sure why this ALWAYS happens so badly with FBAs. It leave with S shaped princess seams and darts that look insane.

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Speaking of darts, they were also a solid inch too long. I have decided that I must have a low bust or something as this is a fairly consistent problem.

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I used the facing for the neckline, but some purchased bias binding for the armholes. As a twice a year dress I think it’s just fine. Bonus, it was not too hot in the QLD heat!

Until next time.

Flapper-Gasted

Today on bows&bunnies: this 1920s style dress #sewing #sewcialists

This year my department’s Christmas part had a 1920s theme, so of course I had to make something appropriate for the occasion. In the end I decided to go for a garden-party type look with this as my inspiration:

I used Simplicity 2599 as the base and simply added a gathered dirnl skirt. I used my pleating foot to gather the skirt, so much father than basting and gathering by hand!

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I liked S2599 for this as it’s pretty long so I knew I would be able to make it drop waisted easily. I also liked that it was for multiple cup sizes and included a dart. I made a size 18, however even for this look it was much too big and I ended up taking 10-15cm of the width out. Next time I think I would size down to a 12D for something that is the size I would wear everyday.

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I used bias binding around the neckline and topstitched it with one of my machines (many) decorative stitches. I also added some trip to the bottom to make it a touch longer and add more details.For the finishing touches I added a ribbon and broach around the dropped waist, a long string of pearls, and an old scarf from Alannah Hill in my hair.

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All in all this was a pretty quick project, right until the end I was convinced that I would hate it and it would be terribly unflattering. While it’s not the best look on me, I have to say I think the finished product is pretty cute. Not to mention one of the most comfortable things I own!

Until next time!

A fancy dress for a fancy occassion

So a few weeks back one of my cousins, J, got married. I probably know her best of my cousins on that side of the family as she lived with my grandmother for a long time. I was super excited to be invited to her wedding and (of course!) made a new dress for the occasion.

#bpsewvember days 27+28 best make + hem: this silk dress I made for my cousins wedding. Underlined in silk organza with an enormous amount of catch stitching, not to mention the full lining. Then I did a hand rolled hem on the enormous skirt.

This is my third version of New Look 6723, this time with the skirt from the By Hand London Flora. I have to say I adore the skirt of flora. So big & twirly!

This dress was made of a lightweight sky blue crepe-back satin I got for $10/m of eBay, the bodice was underlined in blue silk organza and the whole dress had a lining in silver/grey silk/cotton. I used the machine to finish the lining and overcast its seams but French seamed the fashion fabric and hand stitched it’s rolled hem. I think this hem looks really pretty and delicate in fine fabrics.

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I hand stitched in my underlining using silk thread before assembling the bodice. I found it easier to use the organza as pattern pieces and roughly trim the silk before stitching them together and cutting it to the correct size.

Technique: underlining. This one is silk organza to add a little body to a soft and fragile crepe back silk satin. #bpsewvember @bimbleandpimble

I am pretty pleased with how this turned out – underlining with the organza was a great move, as it allowed me to catch stitch all the seams in the bodice down. I think this helped smooth out the princess seams, although I must admit they are still not perfect – I was too afraid to press the silk as much as I wanted to.

Catch stitching queen! #sewing

I adjusted my FBA a tiny bit more, smoothing out the curve and trimming my altered pattern piece so I could sew the seam at 10mm rather than 15mm.

#bpsewvember day 17: fit. The FBA! I only just started doing them, but things fit SO MUCH BETTER now. 100% worth the effort!

I also changed the back to be a “V” shape. I love the way this looks with a higher neckline. My facing did not go entirely to plan (you can see it poking out a little here), but I’m pretty happy with it nonetheless.

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All in all I’m pretty thrilled with it, I got a lot of complements and it was wonderful to dance in.

Until next time!

What do you mean no one needs 20 floral dresses?

Oh look, something new and different: a floral fit and flare dress! This time with a pretty quilting cotton from fabric.com.

Today on the blog: yet another floral dress. #sewing #sewcialists

This is actually the first version of New Look 6723, complete with original skirt and slightly dodgy FBA (I got better, I promise!).

So I sewed I a 12 in the front bodice and 12 in the neckline/shoulders graded to a 16 in the back of the bodice. I then did a 3″ FBA (I should have done 4 I think as it’s still a little tight) and took some of the extra ease that created in the waist back out. I then took a little out directly under the bust where it was a tiny bit loose. I am pretty happy with the way the bodice fits now. It took two muslins, but I used the second as lining, as is my usual practice.

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For the skirt, I cut the biggest size as it looked disappointingly non-full. For me, it still wasn’t full enough for the gathers to look good so I did two pleats on each side at the front and a box pleat in each side at the back instead. I quite like the way this looks and think it would be nice in a work dress. I popped in an invisible zip, which are my new favourite closures now I’ve mastered the invisible zipper foot!

Overall I really like this one. The neckline is super, super pretty and while I found the skirt underwhelming at first I am now pretty pleased with it. Sometimes it’s nice to be unafraid of wind. Next time I think I will put a little cotton tape on the neckline, as sometimes it sticks out a little from my body, particularly when I lean forward. I would also like to add pockets, mostly because I find myself trying to use them even when I don’t have them!

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Thanks to my friend T for taking photos again!

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