Small cross-body bag

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New lifestyle, new bag. With a new bub I don’t have my hands free to carry a purse but don’t always want my essentials stuffed into the bag with nappies etc. So a small cross-body seems just right. This was speedily whipped up over a couple of sewing sessions often halted by cries.
It is big enough for purse (flat, slender, fabric pouch I made but haven’t blogged), sunglasses, phone, keys, and lipstick – the essentials. There is one inside pocket for my phone so the screen doesn’t get scratched by the keys and is fast to pull out.
The photo makes it look a bit uneven, but it isn’t.
I’m super pleased with this bag as I like how it looks etc, but mostly it was satisfying to be productive when much of my day and night is spent holding a newborn who cries when put down.

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Chambray maternity dress

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This is meant to be my magic transformer dress that will fit my expanding body, be suitable for breast-feeding (buttons), and then be able to be tightened up to fit my restored (hopefully) body. Perhaps too much to ask, but it is worth a try.

I’ve worn it a couple of times and am liking it more and more. I really like the sleeves and buttons. I will probably absolutely adore this dress once I’m not pregnant and have been able to tighten it up around the waist and hips like the original pattern intends. Right now it is more sack like than I’m used to wearing which is my only reservation. Sure I want to be pregnant etc etc, but I can’t say I’m keen on having a huge belly.

The first thing I noticed in planning and making this dress is that it is not easy to get the fitting right for using a woven fabric on a changing body. Starting with what size pattern to choose and what adjustments to make. If I make it fit for now, then it won’t fit later on. If I make it loose now then it will look weird.

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This is the pattern that I started with – then changed heaps. I used a different sleeve pattern with less ease at the sleeve cap but in a slightly less fitted style. The version of the dress I wanted to make was way too short on my leg so I added 6cm to the length. I added a yoke to the back, put in side seam pockets, and obviously the massive pleats at the front.

The pleats are the key to it being a ‘transformer’ dress. The front pleats were made by cutting the pattern from shoulder to hem and spreading the pattern an even width. Then I’ve stitched up that added width just from the shoulder down to the under bust. This creates the pleats to give my belly space to grow now. My thinking is that postpartum I will remove the added width by continuing the seam from the under bust to the hem.

In reflection I chose the wrong size to start with and a smaller size would have worked better. The fitting issue I haven’t gotten right yet is the looseness on the front between the shoulder and under bust pleats, hence the vertical wrinkles from the shoulder to the bust point. Normally I would just tighten it up. Though friends who’ve seen me in this dress have suggested I don’t change it as I will need the room to grow into. It just kind of bugs me wearing something ill fitting so I will think a bit more about whether I leave it or make changes.

The fabric is beautifully soft chambray from Sckafs with a lovely drape.

This dress took ages to get the pattern right and then the sewing took a fair while too. It is all French seams which now I’m thinking wasn’t the best idea as the intention is to make fitting changes later on and French seams will just make that more of a hassle.

Doing French seam, in seam pockets was a challenge as I haven’t done it before. There were two tutorials on line that I tried out in miniature on scrap fabric, neither of which I really liked. One was too bulky and the other left where the pocket attaches to the side seam unfinished. I went with a balance between the two. After stitching the pocket pieces to the dress I overlocked just this section of side seam using a narrow 3-thread stitch. The rest of the pocket and side seam was then finished with a French seam.

I was excited to make this dress and I’m happy with the general look and my sewing skills. It is just the sack look I haven’t come to terms with. Though a sack certainly feels comfortable and it is great not having any pressure on my belly. The plan was to made another dress almost the same (just do a different collar) in different fabric, but now I’m not sure if I want to go with the sack look for this pregnancy. Maybe I should just leave the dress I had planned until I have a waistline again and I can make it fitted through the waist and hips…. Not sure yet. If I don’t go with loose dresses then the alternative is for me to make another fitted skirt perhaps similar fit to denim maternity skirt I made and wear stretchy tops. Style suggestions appreciated…

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Denim maternity skirt

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The ‘it looks bigger in real life’ bump shot.
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Err… just so you can see the waistband – ‘cuse the bare belly. IMGP3403

The ‘in ya face’ shot.

A rapidly expanding belly and rapidly diminishing wardrobe means some sewing is in order. This is possibly one of the few times I can honestly say that I have nothing to wear! Things that fit just two weeks ago would now be embarrassing to leave the house in. And there is no way that pregnancy is going to be a reason for me to look shabby if I can help it.

Thinking that a denim skirt with stretchy waistband would be a perfect basic, and thinking that it would be easy to buy I went to a couple of maternity wear shops. Hmmmm… not very impressed. Perhaps sewing has spoit me but I thought the ones I saw were over priced, low quality, and looked pretty dreadful on me. And like I said, pregnancy will not have me looking shabby.

This skirt turned out to be easier to draft, fit, and sew than I expected. Phew! I have already made the Grainline, Moss skirt three times and thought it would make a good base to alter. A few minutes in the change room with the ready to wear versions showed me the general principles of design and fit for maternity straight skirts. I modified the original pattern by chopping down the waist and adding a curve to the front, then leaving off the fly and zip at the front. And, er, um, adding a bit of width in the hips – sigh. Wanting a traditional denim skirt the pockets need to be changed to a curved style and back pockets drafted. Making a toile helped reassure me that I would be able pull it on without the zip. The pockets are real but the fly is fake. If I make this again I won’t bother with the tiny yoke at the back as it just looks silly being so small.

This skirt comes together pretty easily, assemble the front and back, then put them together and check fit at the side seams. The most difficult part was the top stitching. I used proper top stitching thread which is really thick so difficult for the machine to handle. Being so visible I wanted it neat so ended up pulling it out and starting again several times, and still there are wobbles. I just copied my jeans to work out where all the stitching goes.

The waistband is just a straight piece of cotton knit slightly smaller than the waist line. It is folded over and overlocked to the waist line. The denim in really light weight and very stretchy.

I wore this to work tonight and the verdict is that it’s a winner. It was so comfy and I liked the look. I have been avoiding wearing tight tops and fitted skirts as I was trying to hide my changing shape but now that most people know I’m pregnant I’m feeling more confident to wear my usual style – bumps and all.

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Baby sewing: well… sewing things for me to use with baby

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Water bottle carrier for the pram.

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What to do with a massive expanse of boring white wall? Fabric of course. This is about 2m of fabric from Ikea that I hemmed top and bottom and used hemming tape on the sides. A curtain rod at the top on a couple of hooks and done!

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Two tops, a dress, and an announcement

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So I have been sewing lately, just not blogging much. Here is just some of what I’ve been making. I love this white top above, it is easily my favourite at the moment. I got the idea from a top I saw on Pinterest. The floral fabric was the lower part of a dress that I decided would better suit me as a top. It is a Liberty cotton. I made the pattern myself as usual. The white fabric is some rayon which has a lovely drape though creases easily.

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This top is another self drafted pattern. It is actually the same pattern as the white top but I’ve made the pattern so that it is really easy to make modifications. You probably can’t see it in this photo but the black fabric has two pleats at the front which makes it much loser. The reason being that I now need to be making clothes with way more fabric at the front – I’m 15 weeks pregnant. I know this black top won’t get me all the way through but I thought it would be good for awhile and very wearable post birth.
IMGP3364My first actual maternity make. I even bought a pattern! Gasp! Though of course I couldn’t help changing it at least a bit. The original pattern has gathers at the bust and from the Empire line but I think gathers tend to boof out rather than drape as well as pleats. So pleats it is. The back is designed with gathers too which I originally sewed (as pleats) but I don’t need that much room at the moment and it just makes me look huge. So I stitched up the pleats and will let them out when and if I need the room. I love this dress. It is so comfy and easy to wear. Being an Empire line it doesn’t suit me that well as I don’t have a belly yet and I’m a pear shape.

Being the pragmatic sort I’ve designed an ‘expanding-contracting’ dress which will suit me no matter what my belly is doing and will be suitable for nursing too. I will be able to let it out when my belly expands and tighten it back up after birth. I just need to piece together a couple of patterns and do a bit of drafting before starting on the toile etc. A slightly long process but I think the results will be worth it.

Have a fantastic Christmas and see you in the New Year! :)

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Long sleeve, collar-less, button up shirt

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Another shirt. There might only be a few more days left to wear this as it is heating up here already. But that’s ok, I really don’t mind making things out of season as I don’t sew fad fashion pieces anyway.

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I started this one ages ago but was distracted by a Spring gardening frenzy. Though it did also take awhile to come together as I redrafted a pattern and made a few mistakes.

It is a redraft of this previous make. The changes were to alter the neckline, add a collar band, add cuffs, include proper plackets at the front, and add side bust darts.

I’ve finally worked out how to get patch pockets really neat and even. I made a cardboard template the shape of the finished pocket and then folded and pressed the pocket piece around that.

Not having any instructions to follow I wasn’t sure how to put a pocket over the bust with two darts making the fabric not sit flat. The solution I came up with was to put the shirt over a tailor’s ham and smooth it out and then pin the pocket piece on. It worked so well.

Overall it has turned out pretty well. The pattern fits well. Next time I will redraft the neckline of the bodice to be higher at the back and maybe lengthen the sides at the hem.

I’m planning on extending this pattern to make a shirt dress, though I haven’t yet decided whether to make the skirt flared or straight.

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Special occasion transformer dress

With my brother’s wedding approaching I needed a dress. After a lot of deliberating I decided to pull my wedding dress apart to make some changes. Yes, pull apart my wedding dress! Below is a photo from my wedding, the original dress in this story. Blogged about here.

DSC_0053Since getting married I’d decided that the gathers on the skirt are more boofy than suits me. And what do us stitchers do when we think an outfit we made needs some changes? Well, we change it.

Taking the un-picker to my wedding dress felt really wrong at first and I was really nervous. Even though I was the one who sewed it in the first place.

I decided to keep the bodice intact and just change the skirt. I had a lot of fabric left over so made a whole new skirt. Several toiles later I went with 4 pleats front and back, and a modest slope on the side seams as I still wanted it to hang fairly straight at the side seams. I wanted the skirt to have an A-line shape but not be too full as I think this is what suits my shape the best.

The main (shell) fabric is an expensive polyester satin that is fairly heavy with lots of drape. The skirt is interlined with a silk organza. I’ve put hem lace on it and hand stitched it just to the organza interlining so there are no visible stitches at the hem. All of the internal seams have been pinked and then hand basted just to the organza. Then there is a synthetic lining on the skirt as well. The bodice is lined with the same shell fabric and has lots of boning in it.

After, option 1:

blue evening dress 2

But that wasn’t to be the end of it. I also decided that it would be good to have the dress not be strapless so I decided to go with a sheer over-dress. The most suitable fabric I could find was a black organza with embroidered daisies. This part was really easy to make. I used a bodice pattern I have used previously for a different outfit and then the same skirt pattern I made for the first dress. It is all French seams to make it neat and the edges (neck, arm, and hem) are all trimmed with a really narrow satin, bias binding. It secures just with tiny press studs at the left shoulder and left side seam. This means that these seams look exactly like the rest on the dress. A zip would have been obvious with all the other seams being really thin. I originally designed it be the same length as the blue dress but then decided I wanted more blue peaking through.

After, option 2:

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These two photos above are taken at the same event. When I first got dressed I was too warm (excited probably) for the overdress but then as it cooled I put the overdress on. I took along different jewelry for just such an option :)

Left over from pulling the skirt off the original dress is a black mesh and sequin piece of very expensive fabric which was the overlay on the skirt. My plan is to attach this to a black satin band that I can just pull on over the basic blue dress and secure by tying it up at the back with a big bow. So then the dress will have three options! Basic blue, overlayed skirt, or full overlay. There is also the original blue skirt which I will make a waistband for out of the same fabric and wear just as a skirt. I will be totally sorted for special occasion wear then!

This project took quite awhile but I really don’t mind spending ages on one project, especially for a special occasion dress/s. Though my next projects will be some quick wins before starting a longer project I have in mind…

 

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