The Frocktail that wasn’t: Adventures in Sydney

So this was supposed to be part of my outfit for Canberra frocktails, until a friend scheduled her engagement party for the same night. Being a bridesmaid (and good friend!) I skipped frocktails. The problem was I had a half-complete elaborate skirt ensemble and nowhere to wear it! In the end this skirt has been a super versatile addition to my wardrobe. I first wore it to a cousin’s wedding (with a RTW silky pink blouse), out on the town in Newcastle (with a tee that proclaims my deep love of croissants) and to the races (with a silk RTW top I got from eBay). It’s comfy, flattering and has pockets, all things I very much enjoy in a skirt!

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The fabric is glorious. It’s a silk brocade from Oscar de la Renta; medium weight with some loft and the perfect drape/body combo. After much debate I decided to use the black based side as my “right side” but I still have enough left for a little top using the other side which is more gold/platinum with black roses. Both are beautiful. I underlined with black silk organza to give it a tiny bit more body and to protect the brocade.

On the blog: this skirt made of glorious Oscar de la Renta silk brocade and adventures at #theraces plus many cocktails, lunch at #bennelong and many types of cheese  #sewcialists #memadeeveryday

The pattern is my “self drafted” one – aka a pleated a-line attached to the waistband of Vogue 8998. I have three of these skirts, one in floral sateen, this one and a to-be-blogged polka dot number.

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I also trimmed the hat I’m wearing! It’s an Alannah Hill number I’ve has for a few years – originally it had a brim which I got rid of almost straight away, but this time I also took off the original trim (a straw bow) and added my own with flowers I picked up at Spotlight. I’m supper happy with the finished product.

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I had an amazing time at the races drinking champagne and hanging with my friend S. She’s a member so we got to hang out in the nice not-too-crowded members area and enjoy an excellent view of the track as well as tons of shade. After the races we went into the city to try and eat at Cured &; Cultured at Bennelong because I was super keen to try a 5 cheese and truffle toastie. Sadly they didn’t have any spots free, so instead we went to Opera Bar and had some baked brie and wine, then on to Bulletin Place where we enjoyed more cheese and delicious drinks including this adorable tiny pallet cleanser:

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[tiny drink is tiny!]

Then on Sunday we went back into the city because I wanted to shop at the QVB and headed back out to Circular Quay to give Bennelong another shot, this time successfully! We shared the toastie and a roasted carrot salad (which is actually my top pick – it doesn’t sound exciting but it was both pretty and delicious) and I had the sausage roll and cherry jam lamington (at the recommendation of the chef, who was adorable!) and S the yabbies and chocolate cake. Plus we both had a cocktail and a wine spritzer. It was right up there in the food stakes. Everything was totally amazing and beautifully presented. It’s also the most beautiful spot, you sit right at the bar and watch the chefs make your food – at first I didn’t know where to look because I didn’t want to stare, but we started chatting to the one working in front of us and he was just lovely – he told me to get the lamington and was 100% correct as it was AMAZING. Like a party in my mouth (honestly I was on the verge of proposing but if he’d said no I would never be able to go back and that would make me cry!). The view is, of course, exceptional and I’m actually glad we went for lunch so I could take full advantage of it.

After that we went back to Opera Bar to have a coffee and catch up with an old friend from our grad year, M and then I drove back home to CBR (don’t worry it was hours after drinking).

The whole weekend was really the best and I can’t wait to do it again sometime!

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!

A dress for a wedding

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Those that follow me on instagram would have seen some of the pictures of this as a work in progress. It spent a lot of time in progress to be honest. I’m not sure how many hours it took me to make this dress, probably at least 30, maybe more. There is a TON of hand sewing which was time consuming, then add on french seams and some misadventures in measurment and you have one time consuming dress!

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The fabric is a pink silk satin that I got from Tessuti while in sydney a few months back. Origionally it was going to line a coat, but I found fabric I liked better for that one so repurposed it. the bodice is underlined (more hand stitching!) with a silk/cotton blend. The skirt is unlined, however as the fabric is slightly sheer I am wearing a (purchased) white slip under it.

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So lets talk about some of the disasters of this project: because I used the bodice from one size but the pleats from another I knew my skirt panels would not line up. To combat this, I measured the bodice against the skirt panels and cut them to match at the waist, grading out over my hips. Unfortunatly I made a big mistake in trying to cut the centre front skirt panel on the fold. It ended up being 3-4 cm too short to match. Cue FREAK OUT. I knew that unpicking the seams to let them out a little would probably not work as the fabric is so fine it was bound to leave holes and loook awful. Instead I decided to cut from the top of the skirt until it matched the bodice, diameter wise, if not along the seams. This point being 3 inches down. This left me with two new problems, firstly, the seams no where near aligned, and secondly the dress was now an awkward length, too long for a midi, not long enough for a gown.

I decided to add some ribbon to the waistband to (sort of) solve problem #1. For problem #2 I added a 3 inch strip of fabric to the bottom. I was prepared to hide that with ribbon as well, but in the end decided it looked more “design feature” than horrible. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Disasters aside, I adore this dress. It’s probably near to being my best work and I did so many new things for the first time. I am particularly proud of my hand rolled hem and the invisible zipper. I have come to the conclusion that I (and I suspect other seamstresses) are much more inclined to notice flaws in our work than anyone else. Plus a very drunk girl told me I looked like a princess, so I’m calling it a winner!

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I wore it to the wedding of my dear friend A, who looked like a princess herself and positivly glowed with joy. It was a wonderful afternoon/evening and I just know her and her new husband will spend many joyful years together.

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Until next time!

Military Miss

This dress is a little bit inspired by the famous green dress Joan wore in Mad Men. But then I realised that it actually doesn’t look much like that dress – aside from the length and raised neckline. I had originally planned on adding a collar tie, and in fact cut one out. But The I couldn’t work out how to make it look cute and kind of gave up. So now I have a random strip of fabric hanging around. Go team lazy?

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I’ve now managed to convince myself it has a slightly retro military style to it. Let’s be real, this is mostly because of the colour, because the rest of it is not really vintage-style at all.

But look: giant shoulders! (instead of gathering I did a pleat in the shoulder)

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Victory Rolls!

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(honestly I have no idea why my face looks so strange here…)
(did I manage to distract you?)

I once again scraped this together with only two yards. Which fills me with joy at not wasting money OR fabric! This particular fabric is a Marc Jacobs cotton/silk blend and possibly the most dreamy thing I have ever sewn with (yes, including Liberty lawns!). It does, however, crease like a bitch. Which is why I kind of look like I slept in it in these pics. Rest assured it fits better than that creasing would have you believe sitting in an office all day working hard for the man will do that to a dress! Nevertheless, I love the slight sheen and the feel of it. At first I loved the colour, then I was doubtful and now I am back to love.

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It’s another simplicity 1913, with slightly better fit than the last one! This time I raised the waist by about 1.5 inches and the shoulders by about 1. To get rid of the gape at the neckline, when cutting I placed the pattern pice at a slight angle, instead of right along the crease so the top was about 1/2 an inch smaller, down to nothing at the bust. While this was a lazy quick and dirty solution, it worked really well! I also added back on two inches to the hem that I took out last time.

I skipped the invisible zip as I have decided they are evil. Instead I did a hand-picked one, using an old tutorial from Threads. It worked really well and I think it not only looks better, but it feels much stronger/more secure.

(I may have a bit too much “junk in the trunk” happening here. Perhaps I need to do a big butt adjustment? lol)

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I think this is the rare dress that looks better sans belt:

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Dress: Simplicity 1913, made by me | Belt: Portmans | Shoes: Top End

Until next time!