Two dresses, a jacket and no funerals… yet

This all happen last month.  I was so excited about my amazing accomplishment and wanted to broadcast it to the world but life got in the way.  My mum got out of hospital after a three month stay and I’ve been kept extremely busy looking after her since then so haven’t had a chance to blog about this but here’s my big news:

I made three garments in two weeks! Wow! I’m not sure I’ve ever managed that before. I probably have in the misty obscurity of my past when I was young and full of the joys of life but these days I’m just not normally that productive.

First I made my Pacifika garden party ensemble for the big garden party we’re going to have at work this Thursday.  I’m kind of a bit too wrung out now to organise the party but my colleagues are going to help.  I’m really looking forward to wearing this crazy outfit, it’s been a bit difficult to resist the temptation to wear it before the party now that the weather is improving.  My daughter has told me that I’m not allowed to wear the dress and jacket together unless I’m at the garden party but sometimes she’s still asleep when I’m leaving the house and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

I love these bright colours and now I want to get more of this kind of fabric to make stuff.

I seem to have put the patterns I used away and can’t find them to show you but the dress is the super-cute Simplicity 1873 by Cynthia Rowley and the jacket is a discontinued Butterick pattern.

The second dress I made for my lovely friend Tracy to wear to the Porirua Business Excellence Awards.  Tracy is my double neighbour, she sits next to me at work and we live really close to each other.  She asked me if I could copy a dress, which she’d bought recently, in a more evening appropriate fabric and I said yes, crazily thinking a week would be plenty of time.  It would have been if things had gone normally, but you know how sometimes stuff which is normally a piece of cake and you’ve done it a million times before so you can normally do it blindfolded and with one hand tied behind your back just doesn’t go as you know it should.  The pattern just didn’t work out.  What should have taken me an evening took a whole extra day of mucking around, but fortunately once I got the pattern wrestled into submission the rest of the project behaved and I got it finished at lunchtime on the day of the Awards.

First we went for a speed shopping trip to The Fabric Warehouse which had just had a huge shipment of gorgeous spring fabrics arrive and this fabric jumped out when Tracy saw it.  It’s an utterly gorgeous cotton/polyester blend with a little bit of lustre so it can be worn for dressed up daywear as well as in the evening.  It has a subtle brocade type texture in coral, peach and hot pink. This is what it looks like in natural light.


This is the dress I copied, it’s the Loobies Story Indochine dress and it’s very beautiful, the fabric is a lovely heavy textured cotton which holds it’s structure really well.  To get the same structured effect I underlined the fabric with a silk organza.

The fitted dress has princess seams, pleated cap sleeves and a slit in the front, which turned out to be a bit indecent without the mini pom-pom trim on the neckline of the original so I sewed a modesty panel behind the slit so everyone at Tracy’s table didn’t get an eyeful of her spectacular cleavage all night. The original dress has a vent in the back but I didn’t put one in the replica because the skirt isn’t tight.

I used an old Vogue princess seam sheath dress pattern I had in my stash. It’s a size 10 and Tracy is slightly bigger than that with a full bust but the fit was ironed out with a FBA and some adjustments to the muslin.  It’s been a long time since I made a garment for someone with a bigger-than-B-cup bust.  I’m so used to patterns just fitting me out of the envelope, I had forgotten what an interesting exercise it is to get a 2-D object to fit around a very 3-D surface, but it all came back to me pretty quickly.  I had trouble with drafting the sleeve and adding in the pleats, it kept pulling and not sitting right so in the end I just draped it which was what I should have done in the first place.

Vogue 7995
The assembly was very straight forward once I’d got all the organza and fabric layers hand basted together. It’s a simple dress and it went together really quickly. I had to use my walking foot to feed the layers of silk organza underling and outer fabric evenly and I hand tacked the invisible zipper before machine sewing it in with my invisible zipper foot otherwise the feed dogs were going to pull the fabric too much and kind of gather it onto the zip. I overlocked/serged the raw edges after I stitched the seams.

Muslin used as the pattern which is marked onto the silk organza with a tracing wheel and dressmakers carbon
Hand basting silk organza onto fashion fabric with silk thread

I was intending to line the dress but by the time it was underlined I felt it was heavy enough for a spring-summer dress and didn’t want Tracy to roast if she chose to wear it in warmer weather.  I can always put a lining in it later if she decides she’d like one.

The only hand finishing was the hems, stitching down the facing and sewing in the panel behind the slit.  Then I dropped it off after a thorough press over my ham.  After Tracy put it on she had to dash off to the event so there was no time for a photo so, until I get around to visiting her and getting a proper picture of her modelling it I just have a hanger picture, which really doesn’t do it justice because it looks about a million times better on.

My timing was a bit out on these projects, I was a month early for Froctober over on The Monthy Stitch and now I’ll have to make another dress for that. I have plans to make a lot of really nice dresses for the coming summer and my daughter has a growing list of sewing projects for me too.

I’m very tied up with looking after Mum so hopefully I’ll manage to get something done, in between spending almost all my time, when I’m not at work, looking after her, and hopefully I won’t die of exhaustion or go crazy before she’s able to move into a rest home in two weeks.  As I type this at 10pm, she is getting things out of the pantry to make her breakfast because she thinks it’s the morning even though I’ve told her twice that it’s time to go back to bed.  Hanging out with her while she wanders around the house six times a night thinking it’s time to get up could be quite entertaining if I didn’t have a full-time day job as well.  Thank goodness I only have to do six nights of sleepovers before her night carer comes back from her trip away, then I’ll be back to just visiting two or three times every day.  She’s pretty hardy despite her dementia, I’m definitely not as resilient and I’m finding it really hard to keep up with all my commitments.  When she gets into her rest home apartment I’m going to be so excited to have a break.

6 thoughts on “Two dresses, a jacket and no funerals… yet

  1. Thanks Joy. I hadn’t actually realised that the fabric designs is similar on Tracy’s dresses, it was just that the fabric jumped out at her when we were at the Fabric Warehouse, maybe it was something subliminal. I love my Pasifika dress, I’d wear it all the time if I didn’t think it would make me look too OTT (but really, when am I worried about that?). Some days I go into the shop where I bought the fabric just to cheer myself up

    1. Hi Melissa, it’s so gorgeous isn’t it. I’m sorry I don’t have any info about the fabric. We got it at The Fabric Warehouse in Wellington. I think they’ve run out because I haven’t seen it there since. I’m planning a trip there soon so I’ll ask them if they have more or if they can give me and info about how to get more:)

    2. Hi Melissa, I went to The Fabric Warehouse yesterday and asked them about the fabric but they said it sold out really quickly after they got it – someone bought the entire roll. They couldn’t tell me anything else about the fabric. They get a lot of ends of lines and designer clearance fabrics.

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