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Selfish Sewing Week: Belcarra Blouse

Argh! Selfish Sewing Week was last week – yes I realise! I did sew this top last week, I just couldn’t manage to get it photographed and blogged until today.

It’s the Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse – a pretty straightforward raglan sleeve top for woven fabrics. I used rayon for this version – I’m a big rayon fan, it’s not difficult to sew with, feels nice to wear and is easy to look after.

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I made a few small changes to the pattern. I left off the sleeve cuff that comes with the pattern and instead used my narrow hem foot to finish. The pattern calls for a deep hem, but given my height (5’10”), I used a smaller 2cm hem. I also added about 3cms in length to the pattern when I cut it out – just to make sure it wouldn’t be too short.

This is a size 8 graded out to a 10 at the hips. I could have gone more fitted than this and I may do in future, especially for work tops. The floral fabric in this top makes it casual or dressy, so I think the looser fit is ok. There is a great sew-along on the Sewaholic website, including options to narrow the neckline if you don’t want to be worrying about your bra straps peeping out. If I was making this top purely for work, I think I would definitely go that route.

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I love this fabric sooooo much! In fact I may have gone back to the fabric store and bought the rest of the bolt (another 3.5m). A whole wardrobe of floral on navy….. why not??!

Some outtakes with my trusty assistant.

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Did you manage to blitz Selfish Sewing Week? I hope yours was more productive than mine!

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!

Hanging on to summer – the Tessuti Valerie Top

As summer slowly edges away from us here in the southern hemisphere, I’m doing all I can to hold on to it a bit longer. I spotted this floral rayon in a local fabric shop a few weeks ago and it was one of those purchases where I had no real project in mind. I was tossing up between a Wiksten tank or a Scout tee. The lovely ladies on Instagram gave me some great suggestions too, but ultimately I wanted to try something a bit different. I hadn’t sewn any patterns from Tessuti before and here was a great opportunity.

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This is the Valerie Top – a lovely floaty A-line top with interesting gathered darts in the front and back. I have to say that this may just be the most comfortable top I own.

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The Pros: This is a straightforward project and quick to sew. I had it done from pattern purchase to completion in one day. The more I wear this top the more I love it.

The Cons: Be aware that the armhole is deep – there is a bit of bra on show. I took a photo to show you.

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Sizing: My bust, waist, hip measurements put me in a S-M-M, but because of the floaty nature of the top I thought I could get away with a straight small. I sewed up the straight size small and I was swimming in it – I have taken about an inch off both of the side seams and could probably have taken a bit more.

Will I sew this pattern again? Definitely! I’m thinking of a black version with a statement necklace to wear out to dinner.

Want to see more Valerie tops? Rachel made a lovely version here and Lara’s great pink version is here.

I guess I should think about sewing for Autumn now. How about you?

My perfect dress – the Sewaholic Saltspring

Wow, this dress seems to have taken me forever. I have been dreaming and scheming for the last two months since this pattern was released and so many lovely versions of this dress have been popping up. I was taking this project pretty seriously, so I took my first visit to Tessuti fabrics in Melbourne – no discount fabric store for my beloved imaginary Saltspring! Of course, Tessuti did not disappoint and I came home with the fabric for not one but two Saltsprings – sooooo much beautiful fabric, impossible to stop at one! I took my inspiration from Kim’s version here, Beccy’s version here and of course Abbey’s 3 versions, one of which is here.

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I love the swooshiness (is this a word??) of the voile, it screams summer to me. Of course I’m just a bit excited that summer is slowly but surely making it’s way to our part of the world and soon it will be warm enough to wear such light fabrics. I named this my perfect dress because I love maxis and this one has the perfect combination of dressiness and practicality (i’m a mum of small children after all)! The ‘perfect’ component of this dress is the lovely pattern – not my sewing!!

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Some details: the cotton/silk voile is called ‘Light Refreshments’, but it appears that Tessuti no longer have it in their online store. Due to the weight of the fabric, I lined both the bodice and the skirt in an off-white rayon. The pattern instructions cover lining the bodice, however, if you check out the Sew-Along on the Sewaholic website and there is a post on lining the skirt. The Sew Along is invaluable and is packed with photos and detailed instructions on each step of the dress’ construction. I sewed a size 10 as per my measurements and I added my usual 10cms or so to the length of the skirt (I’m 5’10”). I decided to leave the pockets off because my fabric is so light, however, I do love pockets so I’m not sure that that was the right decision!?!

I took the advice of Amy at Sew Well when she noted that she could easily get her dress on and off without the zipper. I chose to leave the zipper out and can easily get my dress on and off without it. I can also get the dress on and off without untying the straps, so if you are of the small bust persuasion like me and were thinking of making your straps as one piece instead of having ties then you can do that and still leave the zipper off.

If you want to leave the zipper off, you can cut your back bodice and skirt pieces on the fold, instead of as two pieces. If you do this, be sure to hang the pattern piece over the fold to the equivalent of the seam allowance which you don’t need (see the photo below).

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One more photo of swooshiness – ahhhh this dress makes me very happy 🙂 Be sure to check back for version 2 coming soon!

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The Date Night Dress in under deadline.

This weekend my husband graduated from Melbourne University with an MBA. It was a big occasion for our little family (very proud!!). Anyhow, in typical fashion for me, I decided on Monday that I needed a new dress for the occasion. Plenty of time, yes! Except I then spent the next three days deliberating over what to sew………not enough time to order a Saltspring dress pattern, not enough time to order AMH rayon challis, too cold for a dress etc etc. In the end I ordered April Rhodes’ Date Night Dress pattern, to hell with the weather forecast! I have so loved some of the other versions of this dress, particularly Ashley’s, Abbey’sCaroline’s and Meredith’s. So, here is my version, sewn up in two evenings.

UPDATE: I have re-loaded the photos for this post with the dress shortened. The extra length on the dress was bothering me and like a good haircut it feels much fresher!

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The fabric is a lovely rayon from my favourite local haunt Joy’s Fabric Warehouse. I was a little intimidated by the rayon thinking it might be difficult to sew with but in actual fact it was lovely and very well behaved.

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I sewed a medium with an added 10cms onto the hem. I was wary that the dress might be quite short on me, as per Rae’s Staple Dress (a pattern also by April). Looking at the photos now, I will definitely shorten it for summer (DONE!). Next time I would sew a small in the bodice and grade out to a medium in the skirt. I will be sewing up the slip pattern that comes with the dress in white voile, but I ran out of time to sew it for the graduation.

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I’m pretty happy with my new dress, thanks April for such a lovely pattern and such clear instructions!

Action shot (pre-shortening the dress)…

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