Dresses

Make It Perfect Joey Dress

I tested a fantastic new pattern recently – you may have seen a few popping up in blog land, it’s the Joey dress by Make It Perfect.

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The Joey Dress is a super comfy (so Miss A tells me) and super easy to put together knit dress. The cute kangaroo pocket is a big hit and I love how the ribbing adds a pop of colour.

This cute little pocket, for keeping little hands warm and storing dandelions. Embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t know, until I started reading sewing blogs, that this pocket was called a kangaroo pocket. And I live in Australia….

is it just me? is this a term that is more common in the US than here? Aussies – help me out here?!!?

Ha ha, anyway, cute pocket 🙂

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I used a knit with a small wool percentage for the dress, so it’s great for the cooler weather. It also has great layering potential. Having said that, the pattern also has a short sleeve option and this, paired with a lighter knit, would make a fantastic warm weather version. For proof, check out Teresa’s cute Joey dress.

Toni’s kids patterns come in two size ranges 0-5 years and 6-10 years. This is the first kids pattern of hers that I have made. I found the layout and instructions to be up there with the best of them. I sent about one line of feedback during the test – not because I’m a lazy tester, I was doing my best to find issues, but seriously, there were hardly any. This lady knows how to put a pattern together.

I love the simplicity of the pattern – it’s super quick and would make a great beginner project.

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Spring has arrived here in Australia and it was so great to be able to get out and about again for photos

and to make some wishes 😉

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The Desert Rose and the tale of three photo shoots

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This gorgeous dress pattern is the debut release from Caila Made – The Desert Rose. I was part of Caila’s testing group for this pattern a few months ago and since testing finished, she has been painstakingly perfecting the fit and finish of the pattern. 

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I just love the design of this dress – the simplicity and the impact are perfect. If you’ve seen the beautiful versions of the Desert Rose that Caila has made, the dress has a very summery look. However, with a bit of layering, like we’ve done here, this dress can definitely be worn in all four seasons.

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Caila has really taken her time to produce a high quality pattern. If you read her blog, you would know not to expect anything less. As the pattern goes up to size 8, I can see many more versions of the Desert Rose in Miss A’s closet. 

I can honestly say that this has been one of my favourite makes of the year so far. 

When a pattern designer is gracious enough to invite me to test, ask me to review a pattern or be part of a series, I want to do my absolute best to show my work and theirs in the best possible light. Good photos really make a blog. As a beginner photographer – I’m at that frustrating stage where how I want the photos to look is often beyond where my current ability lies. My first attempt at photographing this dress was on our recent holiday in Indonesia – perfect weather and location. Not sure where I went wrong with the camera settings, but everything was looking very washed out.

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Secondly we attempted a late afternoon shoot in a beautiful setting at the edge of a local forest. Some of these photos show promise, but after taking about 5 or 6, the camera ran out of batteries and apparently I had forgotten to charge the spare one -arrrrgh #rookiemistakes

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For those of you who regularly take photos of your kids, you will appreciate that it’s hard enough getting them out once to get photos of an outfit – but three times! Yes, I’m going to have to lift my game big time. Anyone empathise?

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Sewing a (fun) work wardrobe

I recently headed back to the workforce and I’m pretty darn happy about it. Not so happy about the state of my work wardrobe though. After 3 years at home with kids, the closet is full of jeans and sloppy tees. All very well for cleaning and finger painting, but no so professional. Soooo, I’m finding myself in need of some respectable duds. As my work is not corporate, there is some flexibility in said work attire – still no jeans and sloppy tees 😦 – but I’m hoping to create some work outfits that still retain an element of fun, can still be incorporated into non-work life and are appealing to wear.

This is going to be a journey, due to sad state of my current wardrobe. So I’ll hope you’ll join me, leave some feedback, suggest patterns and the like.

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Piece one in my wardrobe’s road to recovery is the much sewn and loved Staple Dress pattern by April Rhodes. I know you’ve seen this dress all over blogland, but there’s always room for one more.

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Yep, ha ha finally got myself a camera remote! 

And so, how does the Staple Dress go in my work wardrobe?

Fun: yes, definitely. I’m loving the dress in Amy Butler voile, the fabric is light, breathable and beautiful to wear 5/5

Cross-functional: yes. I wore this dress out to dinner with heels, so it will fit into both the work and non-work requirements 5/5

Wearability: although I do prefer pants, this dress is pretty darn comfortable 4/5

Does it fit in?: given the sparsity of my work wardrobe, it does fit in. Having said that, the print I chose doesn’t make it a mix and match piece or a wear to work 3 times a week and no-one will notice piece 3/5

Here’s how I styled it for work:

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Staple dresses all over the internet inspired this make, but here are my picks if you’re after some more Staple Dress inspiration:

Staple Dresses Inspiration

1. Staple Dress is Denim by While She Was Sleeping 2. Polka Dot Staple by Shona Stitches

I’m loving these blue versions – please click over to their blogs for more info and pics.

So tell me, do you have a ‘go to’ pattern you love for work wear? 

A Brynna Dress

In amongst my Willow & Co. sewing bonanza, I did manage to squeeze in a project for me. As much as I’m loving participating in blog tours and pattern tests, sometimes it’s really fun to just sew something because you want to and without deadlines. This is not a pattern I have seen anywhere else in the blogging world. It’s the Brynna Dress from Sew Liberated.

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The dresses that I’ve made for myself previously, the Saltspring, Washi and Date Night Dress are all very summery and I was looking for something a bit more trans-seasonal. The Brynna is just that – with a 3/4 sleeve and a short sleeve option. Meg McElwee, the talent behind Sew Liberated certainly has an excellent reputation as a seamstress and pattern maker. There have been many fantastic versions of her Schoolhouse Tunic pattern around the web. From what I can tell, I think the Brynna dress, along with the Myla Tank and the Aida Top were released late last year. I follow a LOT of sewing blogs, but somehow I missed the release of these patterns and only stumbled on them recently.

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I made this dress from a fairly heavy weight rayon. I love working with rayon – it’s slinky, but not at all difficult to work with. I didn’t do a muslin as I should have and you can see that the bust darts are too low for me, however the non-fitted nature of the bodice means it is not much of an issue.  I also did my usual trick of sizing up one size from my bust measurement and then finding that the bodice was too big. How many times I will do that I can’t say – seems to be a habit of mine…… Anyway, it all worked out in the end and fortunately I don’t ever choose really form fitting styles.

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I’m pretty pleased with the end result. I’ve found this dress to be really versatile, I’ve dressed it up for dinner and also dressed it down with leggings and a denim jacket. I really like the collar detail, what do you think?

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This pattern is only available in printed form – something I did not realise when I first planned to sew this dress. I originally wanted to make it for Mother’s Day lunch, but assuming I could download it as a PDF, I didn’t leave enough lead time for the pattern to be posted from the US. I’m a PDF pattern devotee – a pattern has to REALLY impress me for me to wait the lead time for postage. Please Meg, consider releasing your patterns in PDF form in addition to printed!!

One tip I have  if you’re making this dress. As the elastic waistband sits on the lower part of your ribcage, I suggest inserting your elastic, adjusting to the length that you think is comfortable and then securing with a safety pin. Wear the dress for a few hours to check that the elastic is still comfortable BEFORE finishing the elastic ends and finishing the dress side seam. In my experience, the elastic length that felt comfortable when I tried the dress on is actually a little tight on my ribcage after I’ve been wearing the dress for a few hours. It will be a pain in the b*#t to fix.

All in all, I’m happy with how this dress has turned out and I’ll definitely consider making the short sleeved version when the weather warms up. Do you have a favourite Sew Liberated pattern? I’m thinking I’ll get on the Schoolhouse Tunic bandwagon next assuming I can wait for the postage time!

Pattern Tour: Bohemian Babydoll Dress

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If you’re a regular Nearest the Pin reader, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Elegance & Elephants patterns. I recently tested both the Spring Showers Jacket and the Stellar Vest and Dress patterns. Heidi has been kind enough to invite me to be part of the pattern tour for her newest release – the Bohemian Babydoll dress. Of course I jumped on board – and I was not going to let the fact that we are 3 days into winter here in Australia deter me from sewing up this gorgeous dress pattern!!

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The front bodice has a curve along the bottom edge which I love and the hem also has a subtle hi-low shape. Both of these features add some flair to the dress IMO. Another thing to LOVE about this pattern is that there are no closures – the dress is designed to slip over the head. I’m pleased to report that this was easy to do and there was no contorting of the 2 year old required (as there have been with some other closure-less dresses that I have made for her).

For this dress I found a lovely silk-cotton blend at my local fabric warehouse – the design is a deep purple, which I hope comes out in the photos. The pattern has a fully lined bodice, but because my fabric is so light, I lined the skirt as well. I love that this is a fun summer dress, but there’s nothing too frilly going on – this pattern fits to my taste perfectly.

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The fit is loose and flowing which I love for a summer dress. The armhole is also quite scooped as you can see – but again, I like this for summer. Heidi’s instructions are always exemplary and this dress pattern will not disappoint. The only question I have is whether there could be an alternative bodice construction method given in addition to Heidi’s method, which is to fold the armhole edges under and topstitch. This method worked ok for me – but I wonder whether a ‘sew inside out and then pull through the shoulder’ method could be used here, to give a cleaner finish? I’ll give it a try next time and report back.

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This photo shoot presented a new challenge for me. Making a summer dress on the first day of winter meant inside photos only. I certainly need some more practice which I’ll no doubt get over the next few months. Miss A. will get to wear her new dress in a few weeks as we’re heading off somewhere very warm for a much needed family getaway.

Even though I made a summery version, I think heavier fabrics would also make a great trans-seasonal option that could be layered with tights and long sleeves. Just make sure it’s a fabric that gathers well if you want to use the skirt that comes with the pattern. The scooped arm hole and looser fitting bodice mean there will be no trouble fitting some layers underneath.

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Thank you so much Heidi for today’s invitation. Be sure to head over to Elegance and Elephants to see many other fantastic versions of the Bohemian Babydoll. Stay tuned here too for more little girl sewing in the coming weeks.

 

Willow and Co. Fawn Lily Dress

On safari we went, testing out Miss. A’s new Fawn Lily dress and it’s suitability for ‘glamping’.

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The Fawn Lily dress is part of Willow and Co‘s first pattern collection entitled Wanderlust: A Glamping Collection. This pattern was designed by Rebecca of Rock The Stitch and the unusual design of the crossover bodice and the wrap around sleeves really appealed to me.

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Searching for some more animals, and searching…

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No luck, so we headed to the jungle.

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more luck here. What about those Lemurs in the next photo – score!

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and what about A’s little friend. Do you recognise her? Yes! It’s Jenya’s daughter (While She Was Sleeping). Jenya and I have become great real life friends since meeting through our mutual love of sewing and blogging. Our daughters have hung out a couple of times now too, and they’re pretty fond of each other.

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About the Fawn Lily dress:

In my opinion, this is an intermediate pattern. The instructions are good, but some of the techniques are a little tricky and require sewing precision. The result is great though once you get through the sleeve construction. It’s kind of hard to envisage how the sleeves are going to turn out, but you just have to put your faith in Rebecca and follow those instructions.

I made a size 3 for my 2.5 year old. The fit is good when the dress is on, but it’s not easy to get on and off her because there are no closures (and because my crossing over bodice pieces may be slightly closer together than they should be). Miss A could really use the width of a size 4 in the bodice to allow some room when taking the dress on and off. Miss A. declared the dress to be ‘bootiful’ and that makes the pattern a winner in my book! Suitable for glamping? Yes, definitely!

In these photos, Jenya’s daughter is wearing a Debbie’s Birthday Dress that Jenya is blogging for Vintage May – be sure to head over to Jenya’s blog to hear about the vintage notions she has incorporated into this sweet dress.

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Our safari was shot on location at Melbourne Zoo. Thanks so much Jenya and Little Monkey for such a fantastic day 🙂 If you caught my guest post on Why I Sew, you’ll appreciate how much I have loved the opportunity to meet, in person, another sewing blogging person. The first time we chatted sewing it was a little strange. I spend a lot of time reading blogs and discussing sewing online, but never in person. I can chat to Jenya about Caroline’s new pattern, pattern testing for Caila and the great photography tutorials that Vanessa blogs – and she knows exactly who these people are!! What a revelation!! I love chatting sewing with you Jenya, I think our next adventure needs to involve a fabric store or two….

KCW Days 5 and 6: It’s Little Betty

Phew – we’re getting there. Apologies to those who don’t come here for the kids sewing – maybe check back in a week or so when this Kids Clothes Week malarchy is over 🙂 I’m seriously loving it though – apparently I respond well when there are parameters added to my projects. Are you the same? Sometimes I find the wealth of possibilities of what to sew next a bit daunting – too much choice in patterns and fabrics, how can one ever decide? But add a timeframe and some limitations and I’m a sewing machine (ha ha). I am continuing with my aim of sewing with up-cycled and stash fabrics during this KCW.

Today I’m blogging a complete rip off. Some of you may remember that I was part of the blog tour for the Little Betty top by Suz of Sewpony Vintage back in January. Also part of that blog tour was Trine of GroovyBabyandMama. She totally knocked everyone’s socks off with her dress adaptation of the Little Betty and I’ve been meaning to copy hers make my own ever since.

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The dress is made from a thrifted ladies roll neck top and the leggings are from leftover knit from my Plantain tee. I used the Little Betty pattern pieces that I had cut out from last time (size 2), but apparently this girl has grown a bit since January (who knew?!) This dress is going to have to be worn NOW as there is not much growing room across her chest.

The leggings are  made from the Tiny Path leggings pattern from Ottobre 6/2013 that I made for the first time last Kids Clothes Week here. If you can get a quicker or easier sew then I’d like to see it – these are about 15 minutes worth.

It’s the quick or the dead with getting blog photos sometimes – she practically ruined the dress within 5 minutes by covering it and her new leggings in sunscreen. Bless her heart. I’m still working on getting the greasy stains out…..still, it pays to be sun smart 🙂

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KCW Day One: Soleil Dress and a Giveaway

Welcome to Kids Clothes Week! It seems I have two non-paying jobs at the moment – that of mum and of pattern tester. But I love it and how could I not – I mean just look at these amazing indie sewing pattern designers producing seriously impressive, innovative yet user friendly patterns. Today’s designer is no exception, she’s a blogger, pattern designer and she is also the brains behind the Pattern Workshop e-course helping others reach their dreams of releasing patterns for sale. I’m talking of course about Lauren Dahl of Selvage Designs.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in the testing of Lauren’s debut sewing pattern, the Soleil Dress. Yes I sewed this during testing last week, but Lauren is releasing the pattern today – so here it is! Take a look:

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The Soleil Dress is a straightforward knit dress with front pocket detail and a gathered skirt. There are no closures to battle with, the dress slips over the head just as a t-shirt would. You’ll notice that Miss. A loves those pockets, she loves to walk around with her hands inside.

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Lauren’s step by step tutorial is impeccable – there are both diagrammatical and written instructions which I like. This is a really straightforward project that a beginner could easily achieve. This dress will definitely become a staple in Miss. A’s wardrobe and as the weather cools down here in Australia, a cardigan and some leggings will extend the wearing season.

The dress also comes with an open back option for added interest and I’m tempted to try this version next. Truth be told, this is the second Soleil dress that I made. The fabric I used (I don’t know exactly what it is but it’s like a cross between a knit and sweatshirt fabric – it’s not fleecy but has the weight of sweatshirt fabric) has a lot of stretch in it so I thought I would reverse the fabric for the bindings. I loved the look of it, but unfortunately I misjudged just how stretchy the fabric is because the dress would not go over her head 😦 Miss A was devastated, so quickly added a placket at the back. Here is version 1:

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Cute dress – but not really the done thing to test a pattern and make big design alterations while you are sewing, oops! Hence why she now has two fuchsia knit Soleil dresses. Back to the review:

The good: stylish, fun and quick to sew. Fantastic and thorough instructions that a beginner could easily follow.

The bad: ummm, don’t really have anything to say here. I’m very confident that you will be as impressed as I have been if you sew this pattern.

Will I sew it again? yeh for sure!

Now to the giveaway – Lauren has generously given me one copy of the Soleil Dress pattern to giveaway. Just click on the link below to enter – Good luck!! Or if you can’t wait to see if you’ve won there is a discount code for $2 off until April 11 – just use the code: soleilrelease2

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pattern Review: Mini Mod Dress

If you, like me, spend too much time admiring the amazing sewing, styling and photography skills of Kelly Crawford over at Sewing In No Mans Land, then there is some good news for us. Kelly is releasing some of her fabulous creations as graded patterns so we can all try to emulate her great style. I recently tested her second graded pattern, the Mini Mod dress and it’s is now available for purchase.

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I love the style of this dress and how it showcases the fabric. I chose a cotton sateen in Liesl Gibson’s Lisette fabric line for Spotlight. After I bought it I was really worried this fabric would look too old for a 2 year old, but I’m happy with the result. Kelly has made some amazing versions of the Mini Mod in beautiful Amy Butler – this dress is the perfect pattern to show off such amazing fabrics.

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Little Miss A said her new dress is ‘bootiful’ and you can’t ask for more than that really.

The Details: The dress has a lined bodice and a simple button closure at the back. It comes in a small range of sizes 2T – 5. There are options for pockets, the belt (as seen here) and belt loops. This is a size 3 on my 2.5 year old. Kelly makes it clear that the pattern is sized more for petite girls so I decided a size up would be wise and it was.

The Pros: well it’s so god dammed cute for a start! The fit is great. It’s trans-seasonal – we can add tights and a cardigan and this dress should see her through the rest of the year. The design is so simple and easy to sew and the perfect way to showcase some amazing fabric you’ve been hanging on to.

The Cons: This dress is not complicated but be aware that the instructions are wordy. All the instructions you need are there but it does feel a bit like you are wading through, especially if, like me, you like to glance back and forward at the steps as you go. There is no step for under stitching the lining so I added this to mine as I think it helps the neckline sit nicely.

Will I make this dress again? Absolutely! I’m already dreaming of the endless possibilities……

My local quilting shop just got some Amy Butler rayon in their store. It’s very rare to find it in Australia (in my experience) so now that I’ve felt how amazing it is in person, just watch me try to restrain myself from whipping up some more Mini Mods ($35 dollars a metre – ouch!).

An Out and About Dress and a Giveaway!!

I’m showing off my new love today – the most comfortable and versatile dress I’ve ever owned. It’s Sew Caroline’s debut pattern, the Out and About dress.

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The Out and About Dress is a knit pattern, hence why this dress is my new love – it’s so comfy to wear and can be dressed up or down. This dress can be worn with a jacket, leggings and boots for cooler weather, dressed up for a night out or with sandals for summer – will I ever wear anything else? The pattern also comes with maxi length and long sleeve options. Once I saw the fab versions sew up by Abby and Erin I was sold. Tempted to sew your own version? I’ve got a copy to give away so read on.

And seriously – please forgive the photo quality in this post. The camera repair guy has had my camera for about 3 weeks, apparently waiting for a part from China…….this is a loan camera and its not a DSLR, we’ve done our best folks 🙂

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Pattern Info

The Good: If you, like me love to support indie pattern designers, you will agree that some pattern designers are certainly better than others. Caroline’s first pattern has seriously impressed me. Her instructions are very clear and well written. I had no trouble whatsoever sewing up this dress. It’s very simple to put together with no closures or fiddly details, attaching the neckband is as difficult as it gets. You could definitely attempt this dress as a first knit pattern.

The Bad: According to the pattern instructions, my measurements put me in a medium – large – large (bust, waist, hips) so I cut my fabric accordingly. It was huge on me 😦 Have you ever attempted to unpick a stretch stitch? Gah – my life is not long enough for that! So, I took width from the sleeves and bodice without pulling the sleeves out and re-cutting the fabric down to a small. The resulting size is fine, but there is excess fabric around the armscye. Now, I’m not suggesting this is a fault of the pattern. I read a really interesting post recently by Heidi of Elegance and Elephants about the effect of knit fabric stretch % on the resulting size of your garment. I’m wondering if this is why my dress was huge? I’m not sure. I used a good quality cotton interlock that is not overly light or stretchy and has good recovery. Regardless of cause, I’ll definitely be sewing a small next time 🙂

Verdict: I love it. Stylish and comfortable. Be aware that the sizing may be influenced by the stretch percentage of your fabric. I recommend basting your bodice and trying for size BEFORE you use your stretch stitch.

The belt inspiration came from this pin.

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So to the giveaway – funny story, I bought this pattern last week and half sewed the dress the same day. The next morning I woke up to an email that I had won a copy of the Out and About dress – WHAT!!?! Luckily for you, Caroline graciously agreed to allow me to give the pattern away again.

To be in the running simply leave a comment telling about the best thing you’ve ever won. I’ll draw the winner randomly on Tuesday 25th – Good Luck!!  UPDATE – GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED