The Zeena Dress

As part of Indie Pattern Month, I am pleased to able to share with you my By Hand London Zeena Dress.

Zeena 3

If you haven’t see it already, the lovely gals over at Monthly Stitch have organized a month to celebrate Indie Pattern Designers. They have three different pattern bundles to offer with 3 patterns in each or the extended versions with 6 patterns.  The savings are huge – up to 50% of the standard pricing!!

I went with bundle 1 which is the Chill Out bundle – a capsule of garments for casual wear:


Zeena 2

It was so difficult to decide what to made as this is a great bundle.  My wardrobe is sorely lacking in dresses with sleeves so the Zeena dress won out. Although I feel the Sophie cardigan and Liana jeans will follow soon…oh and an Olivia dress (depending how my Appleton goes).

I used a light chambray polka dot denim – because polka dots!  They are a neutral right?!

Zeena 4

The Zeena pattern goes together super easily, there are no darts and no sleeves to set in.  I have to say, I didn’t like the look of the release box pleats on the bodice so I changed mine to sewn up box pleats, I find this much more flattering on my busty shape. The neck is a touch wide on me but I’m not too bothered by the excess I have.  The skirt is a super easy box pleated dirndl – with pockets! The back is finished with a invisible zipper.


These pics were taken after several hours in the car (roadtrip!), so not bad that it isn’t completely crushed – I’m calling that a win. BTW – super fun roadtrip 2.5 hours south of Brisbane to buy liqueurs – it’s good to have goals right?

I like that this is a nice basic dress, easy to wear as is for our autumn days or pair with a cardi, tights and boots for winter. You will note that it was a very windy day when these pics were taken so I and my dress are a little windswept!!

If you needed an excuse to buy the pattern bundle – the profits from the sale of these patterns is split evenly between the designers involved, The Monthly Stitch, and a charity chosen by the designers. For the Chill Out Capsule, the charity is the Starship Childrens Hospital.

Happy Chilling Out!!

Cat Lady Challenge Dress


Yep – I made a dress for this challenge. I know I could have made a pair of PJs or a tote bag or something more subtle, but heck, everyone who knows me knows I am a cat lady. On a side note, not as crazy as my mum, I only have one cat, she has three!

The dress is the Elisalex bodice mashed with the skirt of McCalls 6503, my current favourite skirt. Just the right amount of fullness, nice little pleats and no danger of the wind catching it and flashing my undies to the world.

Cat Lady Challenge Dress

The construction of the dress was the same as my previous Elisalexes/Elisalexi?? So not much to tell you that I haven’t before except that this time I ran into a small snag. We shall call this snag “winter padding” or “proof I love food”.  The damn dress is too tight!  I can do it up but breathing becomes optional, as does sitting!  It fits first thing in the morning but there is no way I am wearing this to go anywhere until I have lost a couple of centimetres.  *sigh* I hate watching what I am eating.

Cat Lady

Anyway, the zip is beautifully inserted with excellent pattern matching however as you can see, pulls way too tight and the concealed zip is there for all to see.

Cat Lady Challenge Dress

Unfortunately a few kitties did have to be sacrificed in the making of this dress and I couldn’t make the bodice without splicing a few.  I looked at a couple of other bodice patterns but this one was the most kitty friendly.  To paraphrase the ever stylish Jen, cat bewbs and pussies on my ‘ahem’ were inevitable!!

BTW – how utterly adorable is this fabric? I picked it up in Amsterdam earlier this year and absolutely love it! Amy said it reminded her of Doleres Umbridge’s plate collection

Another closeup of the kitty awesomeness:
Cat Lady Challenge Dress

PS – if there ever was a time for my kitty to feature on the blog, now is the time:

Flora Hack aka Another Dolly Clackett Dress

It’s time for a new dress! Summer is well and truly on the way. Already every day this week has been over 30°C/86°F and we still have over a month until it is officially summer – eek. This heat has made me re-think my whole wardrobe – does anyone else do this everytime there is a season change, or is it just me??

Flora M6503 Hack

I have had this Japanese Tana Lawn in my stash since last year waiting to make a sundress. The bodice is the BHL Flora and the skirt is McCalls 6503.

Flora M6503 Hack

My previous Flora had some gaping issues at the bust so this time I rotated out the excess to the waist dart and am so much happier with the fit this time around. I also lowered

Flora M6503 Hack

I am still not 100% sure this is the most flattering look for me as I probably suit a lower neckline. But, do you know what? I like the dress and if my lady cargo has attention drawn to it, well what’s new?!

I know there is a little wrinkling under the bust, but I do like a little space in case I have a food baby. I could also take a touch off the bodice length, however it is not wrinkly all the time so perhaps I am just slouching! Whatevs, that is just being super (and probably un-necessarily) critical.

Flora M6503 Hack

For the skirt, I didn’t have enough fabric to even consider using Flora skirt, but I also didn’t want a super full skirt either. I chose M6503 as I like the double pleats and the gentle fullness of the A-line shape, it was nice to not have to be fearful of the wind when taking these pictures (don’t want to give the pelicans a show now do I?!).

Flora M6503 Hack

I feel I am definitely channeling some Dolly Clackett styling – not only is it a Flora hack and it has little Eiffel Towers on it!

Have you just experienced a big season change that has influenced all your sewing plans? I am all over the place with plans and ideas at the moment and overflowing with inspiration. Next on the sewing agenda, a dress for Brisbane Frocktails!

The “I was wrong” Anna Dress

So I am pretty sure I am the last person in the world to make the ubiquitous By Hand London Anna dress. Ever since it came out I was quite convinced that it would look hideous on me. The neck is too high to be flattering, the shoulders are wide and would make me look boxy and the darts were bound to really enhance my “lady lumps”*.

So all that aside, the pattern still played on my mind and I kept seeing them over and over and over again in the blogosphere. I finally relented and borrowed the pattern. After all no need to buy a pattern that was clearly going to look awful, I just need to get it out of my system.

Anna Dress
Well, colour me surprised with a big red crayon! I actually really like it and think it is quite flattering. Ok, I do look well endowed, but in the words of the lovely (and honest) Reana Louise “I hate to break it to you Liz, you do have big b00bs*”

Anna Dress

I cut the size 14 in the front, graduating to a 12 in the shoulders (cheats FBA), and 12 for the back, only shortening the bodice. Of course you will have notice the skirt is altered from the pattern. It is a dirndl, but gathered only at the sides, I saw this style on a vintage pattern recently and thought I would try it for something different. It feels a little like those really cool wide dresses from the 1700s! (oh how I would love an excuse to make one of these!)

pannier dress Source

I have very little to say about the construction of this dress except to say it went together extremely quickly and easily. This is a fast, satisfying make and a good wardrobe addition. As demonstrated by Roisin, this pattern works well with a plethora of different skirts.


Anna Dress

I made this up in a Repro Depot cotton from the local Spotlight store. This fabric range has cute patterns that supposedly are vintage reproductions. I just liked the cute flowers and with the red and yellow accents and thought the print would work well for winter & summer, plus it was on sale at 40% off so who would pass that up?!

For next time (and I know there will be a next time) I’ll decrease the width of the neckline as it is a bit of a bra strap flasher, and I will decrease the width of the shoulders.  I’d also love to try it with a different skirt, perhaps a circle, half circle or even my beloved Belladone skirt.

Anna Dress

So there you go, I was wrong, chalk that one up hubby dearest, doesn’t happen often 😉

Do you ever step out of your box and try a new pattern that all logic tells you won’t work? Or do you stick with TNTs?

* for fear of coming up on weird internet searches


I had my birthday recently (yep kept that one quiet didn’t I?) and my darling husband was clever enough to recognise my subtle hinting and bought me the Flora pattern. OK I admit that I might have emailed the link to him so he didn’t forget!

I have muslined the wrap version of this pattern and am pretty happy with how that has gone, but instead of logically carrying on an making the wearable version I somehow got distracted and made the tank version.

I was very on the fence about this fabric, it is a bit pajama-like, so initially my thought was that I would use the fabric for muslins. However on finishing the bodice I decided I liked it so decided to use the rest to finish the dress.


The skirt?? The Flora astute of you will realise this is not the skirt of the pattern, I didn’t have enough fabric for the full skirt of the pattern so chose to use the Elisalex skirt, because what could be better than a By Hand London mashup, huh Roisin???


I am frankly really surprised with this pattern.  I really thought with the high neck that it would look atrociously unflattering on a larger bust…but I think it looks alright.

The skirt is a little shorter than I would normally wear. A direct result of me deciding it was too long and enthusiastically taking to it with scissors without really thinking/measuring/pinning or any other sensible approach. Again, not bothered by this, but have to bear it in mind when getting things from the bottom shelf at the supermarket – flasher alert!!


Now I’ll be the first to admit the bodice is not perfect, but it is too good to waste by throwing it away. I will totally wear this! I have added a dart to where I have the gaping and rotated it out to the bust dart for my next version.


Pretty sure you won’t be seeing the wrap version for a while, the fabric is a voile. The temperature here dropped considerably at the beginning of May and now tights are being worn almost daily. I have packed the dress away in a ziplock bag to be looked at again when the weather warms up…October?? Right now all I can think about is having my arms and legs covered!

I’m working on a few new things at the moment and working on filling up the gaps in my autumn/winter wardrobe. I’m also following along with Me Made May ’14, I didn’t make an official pledge, but I am wearing Me Made items everyday and posting my pics to Instagram, you can follow along here. So far this month I haven’t worn an outfit twice, so I guess I can’t have too many gaps to fill. Are you doing MMM either officially or unofficially?

Pattern – Flora & Elisalex from By Hand London
Fabric – 2.5m of cotton from stash
Notions – thread & zipper from stash

If I didn’t have you Life would be blue, I’d be Dr. Who without the Tardis…

I made another Dolly Clackett dress! Actually its primary purpose was to wear to my Brother-in-Law’s wedding, but why not include it as another virtual bridesmaids dress for the Sew Dolly Clackett Challenge? The style and fabric are perfectly suited!  BTW have you seen all the gorgeous dresses in the Flickr poolElisalex
The pattern of course is the ubiquitous Elisalex and the fabric is a wonderful silk twill from The Fabric Store, bought on a trip there with Lizzy during the weekend of the inaugural Brisbane Sewists Meetup. The shoes are from the fabulous shoe shop across the road – what a successful day out!

As I am sure you know I have made this dress A LOT (I think this is my sixth), so it was fast to make up, no muslin required, just cut and sew up 🙂  This time I left the tulip skirt shape as per the original pattern except for the 10″ I have to remove for my short legs!


I added pockets too ‘cos all dresses should have pockets right?? I used an invisible zipper (that didn’t break) and lined the bodice with a cotton voile.  Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric to match everywhere (this fabric was expensive), the print is super large and the repeat was really far apart, so I only matched at the front where I could see it.


No pattern matching here – not enough fabric – but I can’t see it so I don’t care!!

The wedding went well, the weather was lovely, the food was awesome and so a good day was had by all. Of course the most important thing was that I looked and felt fabulous 🙂 (was it not my day???)


Keeping it short and sweet this time – I’m off to enjoy the rest of our long weekend.  Unfortunately no sewing on the agenda, my Mum is staying with me and it seems a little anti social to hide away in my sewing room. But I have been doing LOADS of planning in my head!

Pattern – Elisalex – By Hand London
Fabric – 2m silk twill from The Fabric Store
Notions – thread & 22″ zip from my stash

PS – my blog title is my Dolly Clackett wedding/couple themed quote 🙂

Dirndl Elisalex

I am totally not sorry if you are bored with my current Elisalex obsession 🙂 What can I say? This bodice is great – it has a lovely fit and I find it flattering and comfortable.

Dirndl Elisalex

This time I switched it up a little by adding a dirndl skirt instead of the tulip the pattern comes with. For those not familiar with a dirndl, basically it is a fancy word for two rectangles cut and gathered into a skirt. It couldn’t be easier.

The only thing I think can be tricky with a dirndl is getting the gathers just right, Cut rectangles too wide and the skirt can stick out funny around the waist (depending on fabric choice), too small and there aren’t enough gathers for it to look intentional. It is sometimes a tricky balance to have the appropriate gathers match the fabric. My fabric is a very light cotton (although not light enough to be a lawn or voile) and I generally find the lighter the fabric the more gathers it can tolerate. For this skirt I used the full width of the fabric (115cm) for front and back, resulting in a very full swooshy skirt.

Dirndl Elisalex

The bodice is constructed as per the pattern instructions and with the same alterations as my previous versions.

Recently I had a request  for pics of the inside (which normally I forget to photograph), but to indulge:

Check out my use of stash fabrics for lining! Oh yeah, pockets!

Fairly straightforward, no fancy seams or tailoring, all seams are finished on the overlocker, the bodice is hand blind-stitched down.  I trim all my armhole seams and neck edges with pinking shears as in my opinion this makes the finished edge smoother and it is easier than clipping the curves.

Dirndl Elisalex

The fabric was a recent find, it was one of those fabrics that I walked by initially but then saw it from across the store and it grabbed me! It’s funny how some fabrics look better from further away than close up.

Dirndl Elisalex

I really like this skirt option, it makes the pattern a little more everyday casual and it is certainly fun to wear. I will definitely be making more of these!

Pattern – Elisalex by ByHandLondon
Fabric – 2.5m of cotton from The Fabric Shop
Notions – Zipper & thread from my stash

Top 5 Hits of 2013

Now onto the fun stuff – my favourite makes for the year! I pretty much love everything that I blogged about this year, apart from the fails of course, and they all get worn regularly especially as my wardrobe is predominantly me-mades now.  Of course, some are worn more than others and become staple items or “go to” patterns. It was hard to narrow it down to five makes as this varies from season to season, being summer here it is easier to remember these makes over my winter ones.

Darling Ranges Dress

#5 The Darling Ranges Dress

This light voile dress is lovely and cool to wear and really comfortable, it is a good lounging dress and great for sitting cross legged on the couch. It was also a fairly easy make with nice design features such as bias trim instead of facings. This was a perfect fabric/pattern combination and I will definitely be making it again soon.

McCalls 6611

#4 McCalls 6611

This jacket gets lots of wear, especially when travelling. I feel the cold very easily, especially on the plane or at the movies and always wear jeans to either of these.  This little jacket is great to carry for those types of places where the airconditioning is a little enthusiastic.  I love this shade of pink and this soft colour palette – something I need to explore more in the New Year. I have another of these jackets in black that I haven’t blogged about. I would also like to try it in a ponte.

Scout Tee

#3 Scout Tee

I know this is not a pretty dress or a showstopper, but this little tee has become a good wardrobe basic for me. I have four so far, but this floral one is my absolute favourite and is in danger of being worn to death (in fact I am wearing it now). Luckily I have some more fabric to make up a spare.


#2 Elisalex Dress

Ha, now you all thought this was going to be number one didn’t you? Well I admit it was close, I do love this pattern and I have made it five times already.  Five?? But I only count four in the picture??  That’s because I still have one more to share with you that I finished for Christmas Day. Then I got preoccupied with eating and drinking and clean forgot to photograph it.  Oops.  Anyway gorgeous dress, always fits well, in fact this has almost become like a bodice block for me lately.  I would almost have to question “do I need more patterns in my life?”.

 #1 Belladone Dress

In answer to the above question, yes I need this pattern in my life.  I love this dress so much.  Everytime I wear it, I get loads of compliments. I have made another in black (yep unblogged still, sorry) and have another one planned.


Honorable mention

Goes to the Coppelia Cardigan – I have made this three times (only one made it to the blog though) and wear it loads in winter and when I travel to super cold countries. It is a great layering piece and works well with the Hollyburn skirt as above in the photo with the lovely (and tall) Rachel of House of Pinheiro.


I wonder what exciting new patterns await for us all this year…

Elisalex v4 – Floral

It’s no secret I really like this pattern and now that I have made all the necessary fit adjustments to the pattern it makes a super quick project.


This time I used a gorgeous floral border print from the Alannah Hill clearance store in Melbourne. The fabric is some kind of dress weight fabric, I suspect polyester as it has no stretch at all and doesn’t crease. Great for sitting for prolonged times!  I lined it in a cotton voile for added comfort.

Not much to say about the construction as I covered my adjustments in my previous Elisalex posts 1, 2 & 3.  This time with the skirt, instead of the pegged in version of the pattern, I instead continued the line from the hip to the hemline to give more of a bell shape. I wanted to do this to highlight the border print.


No gaping at the back this time and I didn’t change anything. Again I kept with the invisible zip in the back.


These photos were taken on the way out to a work function, it’s a great little afternoon party/bbq dress.

With four versions already, I feel like I am starting to mimic Roisin, have you seen all her amazing versions??? Still when you get onto a winner of a pattern, why mess with a good thing?!