Wedding Dresses


My DH’s 2nd cousin is getting married at our local castle in August this year, and as DH’s family is Portuguese, you know the family wedding-of-the-year is a big family party.  And party dresses are required.  Preferably new.  So I’m sewing party dresses for DD2, DD3 and hopefully – time permitting – myself.


DD1 is planning on giving her grad dress another airing with the shoes.  A sneak peek of the girls’ dresses, which are finished and waiting, will have to suffice until they’re worn with proper primping and nice pictures are taken.  The fuchsia dress is for DD2; the yellow for DD3. I’ve also been commissioned to make a red dry-clean-only party dress for Niece #2.  I imaged something in silk taffeta or duppion, but couldn’t find the right shade for the right price anywhere until I hit my local thrift shop.thrifted red silk I didn’t take any pictures of its interior.  It’s a custom garment, made locally – the label had the phone number of the seamstress!  It was very well made: completely lined and finished beautifully, and there’s enough fabric to make the princess-skirted halter-top party dress Niece #2 desires!  And speaking of dresses for weddings, please click on over to Toferet’s Empty Bobbin and see Molly’s gorgeous silk wedding gown!

Batik Burda Jumpsuit

Newest summer schlepping addition for DD1’s wardrobe is a jumpsuit.   Um… I remember these things from when I was her age – only they were in terry-cloth and called rompers.  I also remember wanting one.  Did I actually ever wear one?  I honestly can’t remember, although there is a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind that I did wear for one summer as a young teen.

Anyways, this was a much-desired piece for her summer wardrobe wear this year, and yes, the batik was the required fabric for it.  It’s not the most ideal fabric for this garment – something flimsier and drapey-er would have been much better.  Hopefully it will soften up with washings.  The batik is actually quite beautiful with every shade of blue from cobalt to dark teal to navy hovering around.  And it’s a very stable fabric, so whipping this little number together took all of a couple of hours.  Pressing it was the most fun, too.  I don’t know about you, but I really like how different fabrics have their own peculiar scent.  Silks and wools are heavenly.  It’s like a waft of perfume sometimes as I work with them.  Linen doesn’t seem to have a scent, and I’m not going to talk about polyester types.  But this batik took the award for scents.  Every time I pressed it I smelled hot wax.  :0

We used the jumper pattern from Burda’s April issue, which shows it in two lengths and is modeled in  washed silk or batiste.  Very different from the cotton batik we used.I cut a straight size 38, mostly because DD1 does not like tight fitting clothes for play, and she is horribly afraid this will shrink in the wash.  Besides, I think she’s hoping she can wear it for summers to come.   We shortened the length of the shorts by about 4 inches.  The original Burda pattern is quite long – Bermuda length or pant length with elasticized ankles.It was a super easy pattern to sew up.  The pockets are set in the side seams, and the waist and top band are elasticized.  Not much fitting required, and that means a fast job.  At least I liked the fabric on this one….  🙂

My graduate

hannah 8

It’s funny how time flies.  DD1 is officially finished middle school and will start her high school adventure in the fall.  Needless to say, it’s odd wondering how she grew up so quickly, and yet I’m so completely proud of her and love the young woman she’s grown into.

There’s been a lot of discussions in our house since March about what exactly she would wear to her grade 8 grad.  She’s not one to go with the crowd, so I V1249thought perhaps suggesting this strapless jumpsuit from Mark & James by Badgley Mischka would be nice.   She agreed, but then we got hung up on what shoes to wear.  Shoes are a bit of a problem in our house, and I willingly accept the blame for starting the obsession.  I love shoes, and so do all my dear daughters.  Initially DD1 really wanted a pair of Jimmy Choos from 2010 that we couldn’t find anywhere except on Ebay for twice what she was willing to pay.  (Did I mention she’s been saving her pennies since Christmas in order to purchase grad shoes?)  Then she settled on these lovely Edelman’s, and decided the pants needed to be shorter.  After all, it is about seeing the shoes, right?  I suggested the hems would get shredded, and the entire look of the outfit depends on the pants being long, not capri length.  So she started studying through my Burda library for an alternative that would show her shoes to satisfaction, and settled on Burda 5-2011-111, provided we could find a decent fabric.   Burda describes the dress as “blouson”.

Burda 5-2011-111 technical drawing Initially she chose a wild silk chiffon from my stash, but it was red, and when I came home from a lark shopping trip through Fabricland with this poly/rayon burnout remnant, she dumped the red and jumped at the greens.pockets

It even as pockets, which, in my harebrainedness, I pressed to the back, and never noticed until we were taking these pictures after the day was done.  She thought it was funny, though.  “What’s this in the back of the dress??  Oh, the pockets!  Ha ha!”


I raised the back opening by about 2 inches, so you can see that it’s pretty low.  There was a lot of discussion about undergarments, because she insisted refused point blank to go without.  And I can tell you that the stick-on silicone backless/strapless option works wonderfully!  (TMI?) The dress is completely underlined with a nude silk crepe de chine, which hangs nicely and is super comfortable to wear.  I also lengthened the dress by about 10 inches, but ended up cutting off about 5 inches of that prior to hemming because the bottom is really narrow and she couldn’t walk up the stairs!  (Daddy was a bit leery of a mini dress, as was she).  As it stands, I’ll probably be shortening it again by about 2 inches because the bottom side seams tore during the many trips up to the platform and the dance afterwards, and there’s no fabric left in the allowances to re-stitch them.  By the way, the lovely pattern matching at the side seams was a complete fluke.  I literally squeeeeked the dress out of the fabric and gave no thought at all to matching anything except the colours at the shoulder/centre sleeve area.

And now the point of this exercise: do you like her shoes?

hannah 9

I must say I’m so proud of her.  She was elegant, self-confident and walked with ease in those 4 inch heels.  She has grown with grace and I’m so happy to have been given the privilege of looking after her as she continues on her journey.  Love you – lots and lots – firstborn daughter of mine.  May you always walk with your head held high and that smile in your heart and twinkling in your eyes.


So I made another pair of shorts for DD1.IMG_2981I like those shorts!  Cool tie dye! IMG_2983 So much for proper pattern placement.  😐  It’s amazing how I swing from “wow” to “are you SERIOUS?!?!” sewing.  Jeepers.

A summer top

topThe second UFO is now a wearable garment.  It’s about 9C outside – hence the big mommy-sized sweater!fp backRosebuds in the buttons for the fly-away back and adjustable straps.fp straps  Front strap embroidery – bullion rose and rosebuds; detached chain leaves and fly-stitch stems & calyx.IMG_0536

I also managed to quickly put together a new petticoat, since DD3’s outgrown the previous one.  I used a RTW tank, cut it off at what I thought was waist length (it’s stretched a bit since it’s been hanging around waiting for a nice day for photographs) and attached a four-tiered peasant skirt.  The bottom tier is about 6 yards in width.  I used remnants from previous petticoats for this one, so the top two layers are different weights of Egyptian cotton shirting, and the two bottom layers are Swiss broderie anglais, which I originally purchased because of the fabulous edging for the last now-too-small petticoat.   hem & shoesI finished the bottom with white satin ribbon.  And the Lelli Kelly’s are too small this year – a big disappointment in this house!petticoat

White Linen

I’ve finished one of my three UFO’s!  This was originally supposed to be DD3’s Easter dress three – read it:  not one, not two, but THREE – years ago.  But I never got around to finishing up the smocking or the embroidery.  I was just not motivated.DSCN0378The dress pattern is from AS&E #74, and was originally sized up to a 7.  I find that the Australian kids sizes are quite a bit bigger than US or European kids sizes.  DD3 is really a size 10, but can still squeeze into this dress, although it’s a bit short on her.  Needless to say, it’s going into the heirloom closet.

DSCN0379It’s white linen with cotton smocking and embroidery.  The original version has embroidered short tulip sleeves with piping and a piped embroidered peter pan collar, but I left them off because I thought it looked better without them.


There’s a belt instead of the usual big long ties for a big bow at the back.  It’s a nice touch and suite the clean lines of the dress.  Although I really couldn’t be bothered to be a perfectionist about matching the widths of the belts since it involved turning one of them inside out and ripping out the piping and redoing it, it’s done, and that’s the end of it.  I’m annoyed it’s not perfect, but I am not redoing it now.

DSCN0390The bottom band is a double width of the linen.  I’m happy with the piped and bound armholes and neckline.  I think it ties the whole dress together.  And now that I have buttons, I’ll be finishing up another UFO in the next couple of days. Yay!

Pattern Review: Vogue 7792

v7792 side viewWell, the coat is finished! It didn’t take that long to do, once I got started on it. As you can see from the picture, this is not the first time I’ve made this coat. I’ve made up this coat three times now. The first was in 2002 when DD1 was about 5 years old. I don’t have a picture, unfortunately. It was of a dark purple melton with a faux persian lamb collar and hat. The second version is on DD2, on the left. My DD1 chose the fabric (it was originally made for my eldest), but I didn’t purchase enough fabric, so it’s a bit shorter than I would have liked it to be. The latest version of it was necessary as DD3 had outgrown all the coats in the closet. Both coats are a Vogue size 10. You can see a picture of the pattern here.

sarah bella coatsI realize DD3’s is a bit big, but I’m hoping she’ll wear it next year, too. She’s very tall, and as she’s only 8, the coat will look perfect next year.

The beret and both coat collars are of a rayon faux persian lamb. I love this faux fur. I wish all faux furs were made of rayon, because you can steam them into shape without the fibres melting. The mystery fabric was interesting to sew. It behaved like a fleece, so required some care. I probably should have used a walking foot, but didn’t. I’ve left a 4 inch (10 cm) hem allowance on the cuffs, and pleated an extra 2 inches (5 cm) into the sleeve lining as a “growth” pleat. I’m anticipating DD3’s sprouting over the next year.

I was trying to be economical with this coat, and raided my button stash. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I had to be satisfied with four different buttons. Some of them must be vintage, because they’re quite interesting. Hopefully you can get a closeup look at the picture. And I got stuck with the buttonholes, as you can read about in my previous post.4 different buttons

And here’s my pattern review:

Pattern Description: Children’s/Girls’ coat and hat.

Pattern Sizing: 4-6; 7-10; 12-14

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Absolutely!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. The instructions for this coat are particularly easy to follow and well-written. There are no errors.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I was initially drawn to it because of the back pleats and the length options.sarah coat backI personally love a long winter coat, and my girls are happy to have dress coats to wear. I also liked the hat pattern. It’s got a little of that jaunty Parisian air to it.v7792 beret

Fabric Used: light teal wool melton and white kasha lining for DD2’s coat. Dark teal mystery fabric, silver kasha lining for DD3’s coat. Rayon faux Persian lamb for the beret, collars and DD3’s belt.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I did not make any design changes either time. This is a lovely pattern and it’s got a lot of ease and movement to accommodate different shapes of little people. I know it’s an OOP pattern, but if you can get your hands on a copy, the resulting garment is worth it.

Beginnings of a Girl’s Winter Coat

After my disappointment about the tweed for DD3’s winter dress coat, I headed of to Fabricland to see if there was something that wouldn’t necessarily break the bank.  And they were having a BOGT sale, so I managed to find the fabric for this project at very little damage to the bank.


I raided my stash for the rayon faux Persian lamb.  This has shown up in many projects over the years.  I think I initially purchased it for the exact same coat pattern, but in purple melton, for DD1 back in 2002.  It was used for the same collar and  the beret. I thought I’d misplaced the beret, but found it rummaging through my queue of all the weird places.  I think it was in the line up because my SIL wanted one for herself once she saw the one I’d made for DD1.  Well, DD3 gets to wear it this winter (and hopefully next winter).

The lining is a silver kasha lining, as there wasn’t anything remotely close to the teal colour, and I know from past experience coat linings with dark or vivid colours like to rub off on whatever clothing is worn under the coat.

The fabric for this coat is a mystery fabric.  I have a very strong dislike of anything that reads “100% mixed fibres”.  What fibres, precisely?  But I bought it because the colour and the price were right.  The only downside was that it smelled old – y’know, a bit musty.  So I washed it.  I did ask the clerk what “100% mixed fibres” meant, and she said probably polyester, acrylic…. something along those lines as all “mixed fibre” fabric has some of both. She suggested cutting a 10cm square of fabric, washing in hot water and drying it to see what would happen.  Well, I thought I’d just wing it.  If she was right about the polyester and acrylic, it wouldn’t do a lot of damage to wash and dry it.  And it would definitely smell better!  So I did, and it turned out just fine.  It’s a weird fabric, though.  One side has a definite fleece look to it, and the other has a gabardine weave.  I chose the gabardine-like side as the right side of the fabric.

Pattern Review: Burda 02-2011-102B

B 02-2011-108B front

Yay!  A UFO is off my sewing table!

Pattern Description:  Jacket from the Mamma Mia! collection from the February 2011 issue of Burda Magazine.

Pattern Sizing:  36 – 44

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, it did.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  This is one of those sewing DSC03479courses that Burda has in their magazine.  To be honest, I glanced at the directions occasionally, but I did not follow them exactly.  I did find their method of attaching the notched collar and facing interesting.  First you completely put together the collar:  under collar, upper collar and collar stand so you have a complete collar without the jacket.  Then attach the front of the facings to where the collar notch begins.  Then you put in the collar proper.  It was a very different method compared to what I’m used to (that being Vogue Patterns’ method of fully assembling the lining with the upper collar and then attaching it all to the jacket as one step.)  I think I like Burda’s method, because it gave me the opportunity to deal with turn of cloth on the collar.  It was also a simpler way of getting things to line up properly.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I liked the shaping of the jacket and the 3/4 length sleeves.

Fabric Used:  Olive green linen from my stash and cotton voile remnants for the seam finishes.  I did not do a Hong Kong finish – I bias bound all the seam edges.  B 02-2011-108B interior

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I did a complete 1-inch FBA.  This was the reason for doing an unlined version in linen that I may or may not wear.  I wanted to see if the adjustment would work with the style, on me.  If it did, bonus!  If not, then I wasn’t sure I’d bother with tweaking it more.  I’m not really crazy about how deep the darts are.  This may be due to linen’s crispness.  Wool would definitely shape better.  Perhaps gathering the front under bust dart along the

Isn’t that a problem with sewing for oneself?  It’s one thing to try on endless garments and styles in a boutique, but one never really knows if the garment you’ve cut and sewn is a) going to fit; b) flatter your figure; or c) be something that you like enough to actually wear.

The other issue I had with this is the armscye and the fit of the sleeves.  And wouldn’t you know it, but Claudine’s post and links therein were the darned answer I was looking for – down to every single minute detail.  I love sewing blog land!  Everyday I learn new things (or, as I said to DH last night, how much I don’t know).  So for the next version, I’ll be re-drafting the sleeves and the armscye.  Surely this is easier if one has a bit of pattern drafting experience (not me) or a clone to fit (I don’t), so I’ll do it the hard way:  making notes about this version and analyzing photographs!

One other note to self:  the high hip adjustment.  I neglected to add that into this version.

I only put one button on, and incorporated the buttonhole into the waist seamline.  I had intended to do bound buttonholes (for practice), but remembered that I hadn’t saved any cutting scraps.  So, only one button!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I do intend to make this up again.  Karin’s tweed version of this is stunning (I’d love to put a link to the post here, but Google won’t let me – her blog at MakingTheSeam has been removed apparently?!?!?!?), and I’m thinking it would be a good style for some broderie anglais I have in my stash.


Desert Style à la Burda

So DD1’s got another pretty dress in her closet.  This dress is Burda 7-2010-120 from their Desert Style collection last summer.  It caught my eye, and then DD1 decided it would be really nice for her to wear this summer.  Go figure.  The dress consists of what I’ll call an “overdress” (back, skirt and front shoulder/midriff piece) and an underdress (shirred bodice and lining.  It took a couple of read-throughs to get the gist of the directions, but once I understood that it was two separate pieces stitched together at the side seams, it went together very easily.

The dress calls for three fabrics:  jersey for the “over-bodice”; stretch chiffon for the skirt, over-bodice lining and shirred “under-bodice”; and a jersey lining for the skirt and under-bodice facings.  I used a very lightweight rayon-lycra knit for the jersey & chiffon pieces, and a tricot lining for the skirt only.  It worked well, but the Burda 07-2010-120 backchiffon would give it a more “floaty”  look.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any ivory chiffon on hand and I just wanted to get this dress  done, so I went ahead with the entire thing in sewn up in jersey.

Burda sized this dress from a 36, which is too big for DD1, so I cut a 36 without any seam allowances and the fit is just right. I actually thought it would be a bit big given my previous experience with Burda sizing for a knit top, but this fit well.  This dress did not require any additional taking-in, so if you decide to sew it up, I’d suggest going for one size smaller than your regular pattern size.  There were no alterations other than the usual shortening of the bodice by about 1” (2.5 cm) for DD1, as she’s petite.  I took the length out just above the bust through the front and back over-bodice pieces.

The construction of the dress is simple.  The over-bodice/midriff section gets sewn up first and then the skirt is attached, leaving the left side open for a zipper.  Yes, I did put in the zipper.  It would be impossible to pull this dress over your head because of all the layers and construction, so I would strongly recommend putting in the side zipper.  It may seem redundant on a knit, and I know a lot of knit Burda 07-2010-120 front detaildresses are just fine without the recommended zipper opening, but you’d definitely need it in this dress.

The next phase of construction is the shirred under-bodice.  This is actually 3 layers of fabric, which surprised me.  I did two versions of this.   The first one I cut as planned with the double facing and the shirred layer, but it was very shallow and resulted in a less than modest neckline when I did a test fit.  So I re-cut it about 2” (5 cm) deeper to add some coverage at the top, but only used one layer of jersey for the facing to reduce the bulk.  There is an elastic run through a casing made from the facing seam allowances at the top of the under-bodice which holds it snugly in place.  Once the under-bodice is constructed, the skirt lining is sewn up the right side (leaving the left side open) and the front of the skirt is attached to the under-bodice.  Then the entire under-dress gets attached to the waist seam in the back and the side seams in the front.  I added additional stitching along the front waistline to ensure the over-dress would stay in place.  Then you put in an invisible side zip.

The zipper was a bit of a slow go because of all the layers of jersey I was working with (four at the left front bodice, to be exact).  Using chiffon would have made this a little easier to do, but it worked.  It’s not my best “tidy” zipper insertion since I did not digress from Burda’s instructions.   Oh!  I did digress on the hem – I left it unfinished.

Burda 07-2010-120 side front

Oh, and about the shoes….. DD1 has been thrilled to discover that she has the same size feet as I do.  I must say I may exploit that little detail when it comes to adding to my own shoe collection.  The pair she’s wearing were purchased for myself  but she can borrow them anytime, as they do live in her closet.  We should have a spectacular shoe closet between the two of us within a few years….. Smile