A Cielo for Frocktails

Last night was the spring edition of Sydney Frocktails – the second one for the year!

Like last time, I didn’t overthink my make and just went with what felt right to me. And what felt right to me was the new(ish) Cielo dress from Closet Case Patterns, paired with this (sadly sold out) fabulous viscose crepe from Tessuti (blue still available)

I had this planned in my head for weeks before the night, but as usual procrastinated about both buying the pattern and fabric, and then actually making it.

I first saw the fabric in an email, and fell in love with it. I finally went to buy it (online) a couple of weeks later, only for it not to be there anymore. However, this was the same weekend that Tessuti had a snap online sale, and I have noticed that they do actually take some of their fabrics offline during sales. And sure enough, it was back up once the sale had ended.

But I procrastinated for another week before I ended up walking down to the Surry Hills store during my lunch break (I can walk there in about 5 mins from work – luckily I rarely actually shop there!) – and of course there was none there. They had the blue colourway, but it did nothing for me. Thankfully I asked, and they did have more in stock at the warehouse, so I was able to finally get it a few days later.

Meanwhile, I bought the PDF version of the pattern, and decided that I would try and have it printed via Officeworks – but I was unable to upload it from home. My closest Officeworks is virtually impossible to park at, day or night (there is a gym in the same complex), so I would prefer to be able to upload PDFs from home. I know I can take it in and do it but this just adds time to the process, so I just printed and taped it myself.

Size wise – I went with the D cup in a size 14. I did make a quick muslin of the top to check the size – mind you, I used some lovely linen from The Fabric Store – I only basted it together at the shoulders and sides to check it, but I will sew it up properly (tomorrow I hope!) I do wonder though now looking at the pics whether I should go down to the C cup, or perhaps go down a size…

For once, I did not have to move the bust dart at all – I ALWAYS move it down. Not sure if this was due to the larger cup size, but I was pretty happy with that! The dart actually comes out of the armscyse, not the side seam like most do. The only change I made was to add side seam pockets (I know from experience not to do the type of pockets in view A of this pattern with a drapey fabric – they droop terribly).

The pattern calls for 2.6m – which I bought, not expecting it to actually take this much – but the sleeves are huge and the sleeve bottom is doubled (like a cuff). I do have some left over, but not enough to do much with. (Also want to note here that the sleeves are LONG – they hit me right at the wrist – I would prefer them to be slightly shorter).

It is a straightforward sew, only taking a few hours from start to finish. The fabric was not nice to sew with though – it was hard to keep the pieces straight on the grain.

I really love this pattern – I think it will prove to be a TNT – the two sleeves give the dress/top such a different feel, and they really lend themselves to be made in completely different fabrics.

As for Frocktails – it was a lovely night. Not as scary as last time, given I had met people at the last one. We again met early (although I was late – typical..) for pre-drinks (sound like an 18 year old!), before walking down to the pub. The sewing community is such a welcoming one – it was lovely to chat to old and new friends, and I am already looking forward to the next one!

(Side note – yes, I wore the same necklace as I did last time. It went the best with my dress, so I have decided it can be my Frocktails tradition!)


Palisade pants

I have had a pair of pants on my to sew list for some time – years, really. While I love my Robbies, I did want a pair with a more fitted leg. I’ve dithered about a pattern and have bought several, but a few weeks ago I decided to try the Papercut Palisade pants – and when they had a sale last week I finally bought the pattern.

Coincidentally, a friend and I made a quick trip to The Fabric Store on Monday morning. I had no intention of buying anything but this cotton/silk blend caught my eye, and at 40% off it was too good not to get some.

I came home, threw it straight in the wash and proceeded to assemble my pattern.

Then came the size dilemma – I fall between a M & a L, but after some blog research went with the M. In hindsight, maybe not a good decision as I had to unpick my seams and sew them with a scant seam instead (& this now means there are some pulling issues in that area). I also chose to shorten them by 2.5″ – which has resulted in a slightly cropped length – which I like but may add some length back to my next pair.

One point many bloggers made was that the construction method of these, and the lack of an outer side seam, means that I is hard to gauge the fit until they are actually finished. The flat front panel and elastic back reminds me of the Liesl and Co Everyday skirt, and so I used that method to attach/finish the waistband rather than the pattern method.

The front panel waistband is attached and finished completely, and the back waistband is attached right sides together. The front and back are then attached at the outer leg seam and overlocked.

Then the back waistband is folded down to cover the seam, which leaves the two ends open to insert the elastic. (My elastic was not wide enough, so I sewed a channel down the middle and inserted two pieces). This method just seemed to be easier to me, and allowed me to try them on and the adjust the elastic more easily.

The end result is a pair of pants that I really like. I love the leg shape and the overall fit is good. Next time I will grade the waist out to an L, and will also add some length to the back rise (many bloggers commented that this is too high, but I wear my pants on my high waist and they pull down when I am sitting).


My mum recently gifted me some vouchers for The Fabric Store, and so when they had a recent VIP sale I used them all up on some merino jersey – 2m each of rose pink, oxblood and slate. I had intended them for Astoria tops, and knew that 2m (which is the recommended yardage given) was excessive – but forgot to lay out the pattern to get the correct yardage before I went…

The pink has already been sewn up into a ‘twin set’ (because 2m was outrageously excessive – that kind of thing makes me quite cross) – an Astoria top with a matching Wembley cardi.

I decided to use the oxblood for a Seamwork Tacara dress, which a few IG friends have sewn to great effect. In typical Justine style, however, I was reluctant to make a muslin and so did some blog research before cutting into my lovely merino.

Many bloggers said the pockets were too low, so using another pattern as a guide, I decided to move them up by about 5cms. They are fine, but could probably come up a couple more cms. I also went rogue with my pocket method – the pattern has you stitch the pocket to the side seams, clip into the seam and turn to the inside, leaving the unstitched portion to be sewn into the side seam. I did this, but only for the front, and then stitched the other pocket piece to the front (the same method used in the Tessuti Bella dress). I did this as I was concerned about how the pockets would hang and potentially affect the drape/shape of the side seams. Unfortunately, the pockets still do affect the shape – perhaps if I had used the pattern method it may have been better. Overall though it’s not a big issue.

Only other mod was to taper the hem line in by about 5cm (from the lengthen/shorten line), in order to create more of a cocoon shape (which is how the shape of the dress is described, but the bottom is quite straight).

So, size – well, this is supposed to be very oversized with lots of ease (which is balanced by the fitted sleeves) – but I don’t love huge ease in my clothes – big boobs means they just look way too tent-like on me. My bust (44″) puts me in a size 16, & my hips (41″) between a 10 & 12 – but taking the significant ease built into this pattern I decided to go with a size 8 – which has a finished bust measurement of 50″. I did have a panic about the wisdom of this, and even went so far as to lay my Inari dress pattern over the top before cutting – but I am really happy with the size and the amount of ease I have in this dress.

Other points to note – this is the pattern length as is (I am 5’4″). The sleeves hit just below my elbow – I would like them a bit longer given I am intending this to be a winter dress. And on the sleeves – I don’t find them tight (an issue mentioned by a few bloggers), but I would prefer them to be one piece rather than two.

It was an easy dress to make (even though the pocket method meant some construction had to be done on the sewing machine rather than the overlocker), and I think it will price to be a very easy dress to wear (& how fab does my gorgeous Knopf Designs necklace look with this?)

A month of me made…

Even though I wear me mades every day, I enjoy taking part in Me Made May – this is the third year I have done so (2016, 2018 & this year), and while daily photos is not the point of the challenge, it’s the bit that I enjoy best – I love seeing everyone else’s daily outfits and I also actually like having a daily record of my own wears to refer back on. (Although my main photographer, my 10 year old, loathes it!)

As part of pledge this year, I intended to make a pair of pants – which technically I did – however, they were not the kind of pants I had intended to male: Michelle’s gorgeous floral Robbies were just so good I had to copy:

My intention was for a more jeans style of pants, but these made me ridiculously happy and I now am happy to wear my very plain Bo top, so win-win.

I also pledged to not buy any new patterns or fabric – but again failed on this – I succumbed to the lure of a sale: The Fabric Store had 20-30% off so I took advantage and bought some merino – one piece is already sewn up (my other makes of the month – a ‘twinset’ – a Seamwork Wembley and a Seamwork Astoria, and the other two will hopefully be sewn up this coming (long!) weekend.

(Oh, and I also bought one pattern, also one sale: the new Helen’s Closet Yanta overalls).

So there’s my month of wears (two days are missing, as are my daily pj’s). The weather was unseasonably warm which meant I was still in my summer dresses for most of the month. It’s hard to tell looking at these which outfits were worn for work and which were home days – there’s not a huge delineation between my work and play clothes.

I had fun this year – didn’t stress about repeats (not that there were many – but the two missing days were both repeats), and wore some of my most favourite makes. My sewing urge was satisfied by the small amount I did, and I also didn’t worry about breaking my actual pledge. And, as always, seeing others’ me mades is all part of the fun, not to mention inspiring!

Zeena in Christine

This make has been in my head for several months and I am so happy with how it has turned out!

The pattern is the By Hand London Zeena dress, which until last year was never on my radar. And to be honest, I can’t remember now how I came to ‘discover’ it. Anyway, it was duly purchased and printed and then abandoned in a pile of printing.

At some point, I decided that this pattern and this Gertrude Made Outback Wife Fabric would be perfect for one another. And this was supposed to be my first sewing project for these school holidays. But when I went to cut it out, I realised that I only had a metre cut of this colourway – I had enough of the lilac but I had my heart set on the brown. I thought The Drapery may have still had some in stock, but they only had the blue. I found some at Polka Dot Tea fabrics, a new to me online store in Victoria. I ordered it late on the Wednesday before Easter and despite the public holidays it arrived on Tuesday, which meant I could still get it made these holidays.

Despite owning several BHL patterns, I have yet to make one (although I do have an Anna bodice muslin made). Sizing is a concern with these – I really am at the top end of their size range. I am not good with making muslins, so went with UK size 20 – the largest size, and crossed my fingers.

This pattern is an easy sew with the shaping provided by several box pleat darts – two in each of the front and back bodice, and 9 in the skirt. The sleeves are kimono sleeves and can be short or 3/4 – I chose 3/4 as I want to wear this as a winter dress (with a cardigan and boots). It has in seam pockets and an invisible zip in the back.

Sewing notes – despite the pleats and the zipper this is an easy dress to make. I used French seams on the bodice. I interfaced the neck facing and also understitched it – neither of which were included in the pattern directions. The pattern has you attach the neck facing prior to inserting the zip – but this meant that I could not finish the zip cleanly (I unpicked the edges of the facing so that I could give the zipper a clean finish).

Invisible zip!

Re the pleats – the instructions are scant and don’t result in the perfect pleat. The pattern has you simply match up the notches and baste across the top horizontally – but this method means the tops of the pleats are likely to shift and not meet properly. I ended up unpicking mine and rebasting them – first vertically then horizontally. I then basted the skirt to the bodice to ensure they all lined up properly. The bodice pleats line up with a corresponding pleat on the skirt – these really do need to be lined up perfectly (I did need to fiddle with some of the pleats to get this right). Once finished, I simply removed the vertical basting stitches. It took a bit longer but was totally worth it.

A couple of other notes – there is a pleat over the side seams. (This isn’t that clear in the pattern). The size 20 fits well, but I did go back and take some width out of the back bodice pleats to give myself a bit of extra room. The barkcloth sewed up beautifully (as it has done in every garment I have made from it).

I really love this dress – the style, the fabric, the fit. It will be a good trans-season dress and also will work with a cardi and boots in winter.

Another Eva dress hack

One of my goals for this year is to use 10 owned but as yet unmade patterns, however, after much internal debate, I decided that this fabric (which itself was bought on impulse) needed to be yet another Eva hack.

I’ve already made three Eva hacks:

I did seriously consider other patterns for this fabric, but in the end I kept coming back to the Eva. I have always loved the shape of the shoulders and neckline on me – which is why I chose a pic of me in my first (non-hacked) Eva for my IG avatar.

Making this made me realise that while it may be far more sensible and ethical to plan my makes and only make garments that I need, I get the most joy from making things on impulse – using repeat TNT patterns and fabrics that make me smile. Like many of us, sewing is my therapy – but when I overthink my makes, I get bogged down and lose my sew-jo. Yes, I do need basics, and no, I don’t ‘need’ more sundresses, but for me personally, I need to let myself make things that make my heart sing – and this dress does that.

Sewing notes – the bodice on all these dresses is the Tessuti Eva (size L). The skirts are simply rectangles cut to the desired length (for me, between 25-28″). I kept the full width of the fabric, despite 2 of these being 112cm wide and 2 being 140cm). Side seam pockets (pockets being an essential for me) were added to all 4 – roughly 9″ down from the waist seam. And that’s it really.

Bo top

I bought this bone coloured linen a few months ago from The Fabric Store with the intention of making a Maya top – I have a couple of skirts which are in need of a plain top to wear with them.

However, in the spirit of using more of my unmade patterns, I decided to make a Seamwork Bo instead of my TNT Maya.

I’ve been intending to make a Bo top since the pattern was released and already had it printed off.

It’s a very boxy style – super wide, and so I went with a size 12 (the size I usually choose for Colette/Seamwork) despite my measurements putting me at a size 16.

Construction wise this is a quick and easy sew. All seams were Frenched barring the cuffs – which I used my own shifty method for rather than the pattern directions. (I merely folded the cuff in half then attached right sides together to the sleeve).

However – this top does not work with my skirts. They are both ‘poufy’ and this top needs to be paired with a slimmer silhouette on the bottom due to its width.

It does pair well with my favourite Robbie pants – but herein lies the issue for me – I tend to wear colour or pattern – or both. This outfit is a bit too plain for me.

Do I like it? Yes. Will I wear it? Yes. Am I 100% happy with it? No. And I still need a top to wear with those skirts!