New Look 6587 – Yet another Shirt-dress

I make no secret of the fact I love a good shirt-dress and have made quite a few. New Look 6587 is an oldie but a goodie, first made a couple of years ago here.

New Look 6587

I made this up in a Denyse Schmidt quilting cotton bought at Harts Fabric during our travels last year. If the print looks familiar it is because I used the turquoise colourway for a Belledone earlier in the year.

New Look 6587
Sans belt just so you can see the construction

Construction was much the same as last time, although this time I did put on the collar stand. I also piped around the collar and around the cap sleeves as I feel the grey isn’t quite the best colour for me and needed a little ‘pop”. The flat piping I made from strips of broadcloth in my stash. Essentially made the same as bias binding, but folded in half.  The bias cut really helps it go around the curves and corners of the collar.

The buttons were also in my stash, originally intended for a Beignet skirt that never eventuated (and likely never will, having worked out high-waisted skirts are not for me).

New Look 6587

I added the capped sleeve option and I changed the skirt to have box pleats that line up with the princess seams instead of the gathered skirt with the pattern, it is also a little narrower.

These changes arose from two things. First the fabric is a bit heavy for a gathered skirt and I like the smoothness of the pleats. Secondly, my habit of trying to get a project out of fabric much less than actually required. I had bought 2.5 of this fabric as I often do with a dress but, oops, forgot it was yards and not metres. That is a big difference if you want sleeves and a full skirt! The fabric was only 44 inches wide, so I had to play “Pattern Tetris” as I so often do!

Old habits die hard, I really struggle mentally to buy more fabric than required. On the plus side, at least I don’t have lots of scraps left over in odd sizes too big to throw away, but too small to do anything with!

New Look 6587
Probably could take some length off the back but it feels ok to wear, perhaps I am just standing weirdly?

I have to say, I haven’t been wearing this one too much yet.  Whilst I like it I just don’t seem to feel like grabbing a grey dress when I am choosing my outfit for the day. I only seem to wear it when it is cool enough for a red cardi and red shoes to brighten it up. Overall I am happy with the dress, and the construction, but the colour needs some more time to grow on me.

New Look 6587

Speaking of Tetris, how fun is this game still? Or am I just showing my age?? Aaaah…memories…and there goes my afternoon!! (work shmerk)

PS – Sorry for the average pics, not sure why I was so frowny or looking down all the time. Must have been a glary day!

Simplicity 1880

Hello peeps! I hope you are all fine and cheery on this lovely day? Well, it is here in Brisbane, an unseasonably warm 29 degrees. Not bad for the beginning of Spring, although kind of makes me dread how hot the impending summer might be.

Today I am sharing with you a sort of re-fashion!! I’m not normally a person who re-fashions (I’m just not that imaginative) and if I’m not feeling a garment after it’s finished it would normally go to a charity bin for someone else to make the most of. But this time I liked the fabric too much and I had enough left over for me to reconsider what to do with it.

Simplicity 1880

Long term BusyLizzie readers may remember this dress, B5748. I was never happy with how the bodice sat and found I didn’t wear it at all unless I had a cardi over top. I loved the fabric and its swooshiness and determined to make it into something more wearable. I had about half a metre of the fabric left, so decided to take the skirt off and replace the bodice with one cut from the previously untried Simplicity 1880.

Simplicity 1880

I love a shirt-dress and seem to have a bit of obsession with collecting shirt dress patterns, I have loads of vintage ones and to be honest this Simplicity one is similar to ones I have so I am not sure what possessed me to purchase it. Although it is Project Runway branded and I am a bit of a sucker for those.

This pattern has two bodice options, one button up, the other a wrap and four sleeve options. Given my shirt-dress infatuation of course I made the buttoned version. I cut the size 16, graduating to a 10/12 in the shoulders and I am happy with the fit (I did tissue fit first). there is no pulling at the bust across the buttons or anywhere to indicate I need an FBA. This is most unusual, but of course the bodice does blouse so there is a bit of room to play with.

Simplicity 1880
Construction wise the bodice went together in a straightforward fashion with no unexpected surprises. The pattern has lots of little details that I really like, the back yoke, multiple waist pleats instead of darts, the sleeve pleats, the circle skirt and of course a vintage feel. The front buttons are completely decorative as there is a side zip for access. I used buttons from my stash of vintage buttons bought in the States last year.

My drapey fabric is much more suited to this pattern than a fitted bodice. I would suggest that a crepe, voile or rayon would be perfect for this pattern, the fabric really needs to have some drape to enhance the pleating and gathering detail. Aah fabric choice, such an important part of the creation process.

Simplicity 1880

I am so much happier with this dress for this particular fabric, although I still may shorten the skirt as it feels a little long. I am just not sure I can face doing all that hemming again. Last time I did a machine rolled hem and all that stitching, pressing and trimming took me forever!!

Simplicity 1880

So there you go my version of a re-fashion! Yay to a now wearable garment. Have you ever done this or do you just bin the project?


I am going to start my post my declaring my love for Japanese Tana Lawn!  Our local chain store Spotlight has it in stock, but normally it is priced above a price point I consider acceptable for that particular store. Perhaps that makes me sound cheap? But the store is renowned for budget fabrics and based on the rest of their stock, the Tana Lawn is expensive. But over a recent Public Holiday weekend (Easter I think) they were having 40% off storewide – that makes it more in my price range, so I bought a bit 🙂

Being a lawn I didn’t want to make a super fitted dress as the fabric is just too soft for anything super structured. I went with the Darling Ranges dress, a semi-fitted shirt-dress. I have a sleeveless version already, but I have a problem with the waist button and find that if I pull the waist ties too tight then it puts too much strain on the button and I get gaping. In complete contrast with Amy I decided with this version to omit the skirt buttons, and inserted an invisible side zipper. I also omitted the waist ties so I could wear a belt.
As I had made the pattern before it all went together pretty smoothly.  I had previously done an FBA and added a bust dart in the process, this time I decided to rotate the dart to the waist dart.  I am not sure if I would do this in the future as it has made the waist dart rather large making it difficult to avoid pointy darts.


Due to the fabric being so light and soft I sewed it up with a fine 70 weight needle. The button placket is non-functional so I didn’t bother with button-holes and I sewed the placket down to prevent pulling and gaping.

I remembered to take a pic of the inside!

I just love the print of this fabric, from the art deco style fans, to the dusky green colour and then the best bit – birdies!!!

How appropriate are these buttons ?  I really like how the tiering of the pattern mimics the fan shape.

One of the great things about the lawn is that even after sitting for several hours it doesn’t crease too badly.  I worked in this for several hours before taking these pics – WIN! I bought two more pieces of the Lawn in different patterns, I have made one into a shirt (to be blogged shortly) and the other is destined to be another shirt-dress. I will definitely see more of this fabric in my future!!

BTW – if you are wondering, I have now been told I have to wear glasses pretty much full time (instead of reading only), this is my new pair.

Pattern – Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen
Fabric – 2.5m of Japanese Tana Lawn from Spotlight
Notions – 4 buttons, 14″ invisible zipper and thread


Fall for Cotton: Vintage Shirt-Dress

I have a reasonable size collection of vintage patterns that I seem to admire more than I sew. When I saw that Rochelle and Tasha were holding a Fall for Cotton sewalong and the Monthly Stitch challenge was vintage, well I took the not so subtle hint to make up another of my patterns.

Fall For Cotton

It was definitely difficult to narrow it down but I finally decided on Mail Order Pattern-o-rama 8299, date unknown but has to be 40s I think.  I love me a shirt-dress and really like the button detailing on this one. Plus I already had the fabric and just the right amount of matching buttons in my stash! It was meant to be!

Patt-o-Rama 8299
The sweetheart neckline is cute too

The construction of this was fairly straight forward, although a little unusual by modern standards. The front bodice is sewn together, then the back pieces are sewn together and they are joined at the shoulders. As the back does not have a waist seam, but the front does, it is a little weird to try on at this point at you end up with a back skirt and no front skirt!  I was wanting to check for fit as I had only tissue fitted, I didn’t make a muslin. My cotton fabric was cheap at $2/m so I was treating this as a wearable muslin with my effort towards quality of finish varying depending on the fit! (spoiler alert – I was happy with the fit so it has been finished properly)

Fall For CottonFall For Cotton

The collar was then attached, followed by the front skirt, side seams and then the sleeves. No zip, the button front is functional unlike my previous vintage shirt-dress.

Most times when you read about vintage patterns people say there is no ease so buy your measurements. However, this pattern is a size 35″ pattern and my bust measurement is 37″ and it fitted perfectly with no alterations required.  I only shortened the bodice by about one inch and narrowed the shoulders by about an inch as they were pretty wide and likely designed for shoulder pads.


I felt a little bit “Call the Midwife” looking as I made this but made a few changes to try to stop it looking too nurse-uniform like.  The buttons help a lot I think, they are vintage, embroidered and picked up on a trip to Cairns last year for 10 cents each! If only buttons were this reasonably priced!!


I also played with my machine’s fancy stitching on the hems of the sleeve and skirt.  I knew I didn’t want to hand stitch and I figured if you were going to see the stitching I might as well make it pretty. I know it’s not traditionally vintage, but I don’t mind, I wasn’t going for a completely authentic finish (although I did pink all my seams, mostly because I didn’t have matching thread!).

Fall For Cotton

Sorry, I did the buttonholes on my machine 🙂 I know I could have done them by hand, but to be honest, I didn’t want to! I really don’t like hand-sewing, yep lazy I know, but if my machine does it then why not, and I’m all for efficiency.

I did shorten the skirt by about 5″ to a more wearable modern day length.  I think even “back in the day” I would have had to shorten it too, I am only 5’2″ after all and besides wouldn’t I have had to ration fabric?

BTW – the “pockets” are completely decorative, just flaps!

Fall For Cotton

Pattern – Pattern-o-rama 8299
Fabric – 2.4m of cotton poplin from my stash
Notions –  11 buttons also from my stash (I have one spare in case I lose one!), thread

So that’s my Fall for Cotton/Monthly Stitch dress – what about you?  Did you make something for either of these challenges?  If so, share in the comments below, I would love to see!

Mad Men Challenge – the Trudy Dress

When I saw that Julia Bobbin had announced a second Mad Men Challenge, I was pretty excited.  I missed last years one as it was pre-blogging and before even discovering all the amazing sewing blogs out there!

My only problem was what to make, I love a good Joan dress, but I am not sure the shape would suit me without some serious foundation garments.  Then there is Peggy and Betty who both have some great dresses.  The outfits I considered are on my Pinterest board.  For some reason the character whose outfits I seem to be drawn to most are Trudy’s wonderful and patterned shirtdresses.  I do love me a great shirtdress!

Could she look more stunning? 

I had a pattern in my stash already which perfectly matches this, even down to the welts and cuff turnups.


I didn’t even try to match the fabric with the inspiration as those colours don’t work with my colouring, but instead went with a pretty vintage inspired floral print I bought from last year.  The pattern was in my size but I even did a quick muslin of the bodice to sort out any potential fit issues (I am getting good at doing this muslin business).  I ended up narrowing the shoulders by 2cm and shortening the bodice between the bust and shoulders by about 1.5cm.  The rest of the measurements were perfect, even the waist! Quelle surprise!


I am loving the result and the fit is perfect, plus the fabric has just the tiniest bit of give making it super comfortable as well.  Couldn’t be happier!


The bodice has some cool details like welts on either side, not welt pockets, but who would use that area as a pocket anyway, not sure that I need more bulk in that department!! 

I made a matching belt – can you see it?  It matches almost too well!!


I changed the construction a little as it is supposed to fasten with the front buttons and then you are supposed to cut a vent in the skirt of about 10cm/3″ to help you get in the dress.  That would have resulted in a crazy gap right over my lady bits and way too dangerous for wardrobe malfunctions! Instead I sewed up the waistband without the strange vent and put in an invisible side zipper, much safer!! I also took some of the fullness out of the skirt as I didn’t have enough fabric, it is supposed to have about another metre in width, but I am pretty sure that might swamp me.

Now I just think I need to make a crinoline to go underneath – have you seen Rachel’s tutorial?  Also, storage top tip from Dolly Clackett via Twitter is to roll and bag them, not hang them so they keep their fluffiness.


Thanks for holding the challenge Julia, it was super fun and now I can channel my inner Trudy goddess!!


Sew for Victory Dress Completed

Happy Easter everyone, I hope you have enjoyed a lovely break.  I have spent the time catching up with hubby, enjoying some downtime from work and of course a spot of sewing.

When Rochelle of Lucky Lucille announced this sewalong, I knew I had to participate.  I love patterns from the 40s and 50s, the artwork is always fabulous and the designs have such great details you almost never see on RTW nowadays.

I chose to make a mail order pattern, Marian Martin 9231, it doesn’t have a date on it, nor on the postmark, but the design and detailing all points to somewhere in the late 40s, can anyone assist in an accurate date??


I was lucky enough to source this in my size so I didn’t need to make any alterations aside from shortening the bodice as I am a shorty.


I was drawn to this pattern due to the button detailing that I thought was cute. I also liked the gathering at the top of the yoke on front and back.


It’s a really different silhouette for me, I am not used to the blousing look that was common in the 40s, but I think I like it, and it’s comfortable whilst allowing good arm movement.

The pattern pieces are the usual perforated pieces, but they still have all the markings, darts etc but just marked with holes. Once you get used to them they are actually pretty straightforward to use. The only thing to look out for is the extra pieces that may not be supplied that they ask you to draft up yourself, like belts or facings.

Bound buttonholes

The buttonholes down the front are all bound and as the buttons now cover them completely and the dress has a side zipper, they are completely functionless I just had to show you that I did them!

A close up of some of the design details. 

Vintage invisible zips

Look at these great zips I picked up at a thrift shop recently. I thought that invisible zips were a recent invention, but these are really old, the lady in the store thought they were from around the 40s.  These are so much stronger than the plastic zips, but are super difficult to put in as they have no flexibility at all and the teeth are quite large so an invisible zipper foot doesn’t work.


The pattern gave the option of hooks and eyes or a slide fastener, so in keeping with the times I used the old invisible zipper. I also pinked all the seams, so I feel I really made it keeping true to the times.  The fabric was from my stash so all I bought were the buttons, not bad for make do and mend! I even made shoulder pads!!

Thanks Rochelle for making this a fun sewalong, I loved all the additional information about the 40s she posted.  If you haven’t already, check it out her posts here.

Sneak Peek

Just thought I would share with you a little sneak peek of my Sewing for Victory dress:


So far so good.  It’s a little big across the shoulders so I am working on that. Also it is blousier than current styles of course, so I need to get used to that. This is intended to be a wearable muslin.

Are you participating in this?  If so, how are you going?

PS – so far only three entrants into the Pattern Pyramid Giveway – enter now, your chances are great!!

Top 5 of 2012 – The Hits

Top 5 of 2012

Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow had this great idea to post up a bit of a summary of 2012.  What a great idea to review how my sewing has evolved over the past 12 months.

I only started blogging at the end of April this year, the blogging originally started as a way for me to document what I was doing and how I was progressing, but as a result I have met (virtually of course) an amazing bunch of bloggers and readers that are so supportive and friendly – so thank you all!

I have been sewing for many, many years although with many a break too as life got in the way at various times. This time around I seem to be taking it more seriously and making more of an effort with each garment.  Previously I didn’t take much time to alter the pattern, I used to cut the pattern larger than needed and then took in various seams as required.  Now, I make the effort to cut smaller shoulders, do an FBA and anything else required to get a better fit. Of course this has resulted in garments I am much happier with and that I wear!

So starting with my favourite garments of the year in no particular order and not including a couple still to be photographed and blogged (these will possibly feature in next year’s round up) .

1. My cotton shirt-dress, this is so comfortable and I wear it all the time.  It is great to wear to the office with some nice wedges, or to the mall with ballet flats.


2.  Then we have my vintage pattern blue dress made to wear to a wedding earlier this year.  I got loads of great comments like “Really, you made it? That’s amazing. I wish I could sew.” Funny isn’t it, I am pretty sure most people could sew if they really wanted to learn.


 3. Kelly Skirt – I love this skirt, it is so versatile, dressy and casual depending on what I wear it with. Just a great wardrobe basic. Nuff said!

4. This photograph does not do this Banksia top or fabric nearly as much justice as it deserves, however this is a great top, it gets so much wear.  Made out of Marc Jacobs fabric from Mood in NYC, it is cool, comfortable and pretty. LOVE!

5. My Got the Blues jacket.  Of course made to wear with the dress above, however it goes with jeans as well, in fact it goes with lots of things.  I don’t probably wear it as much as I would like, but I love the fit, the construction and the cute polka dot lining
Aside from these made for me items, I recently made these aprons as Christmas presents and the joy I got from giving these was fabulous.  I made these for a friend of mine and her two daughters aged 4 and 2. They love to bake together and they went down a treat.  I made the children’s aprons with elastic around the neck and a velcro closure around the waist with the intent that they should be able to dress themselves.  On opening their presents, the kids put them on and started chanting “we match, we match!”  Yay – this is the kind of me-made present I like, one that is really appreciated!!
In the next couple of day I will post up the misses and my goals for 2013, but in the meantime, Happy Holidays!

Buttons are Expensive!!

I have been a little obsessed with shirt-dresses of late and seem to be collecting patterns both new and old, especially vintage 40s & 50s patterns.  I have had this one planned for ages but I was waiting to find the right buttons – finally I found them!!


The pattern is New Look 6587, the envelope leaves little to be desired, the styling is bad and the fit isn’t good either, however the line drawings led me to believe I could be onto a winner.

I made version B with only a couple of small changes, rounding off the collar and removing the collar stand (mostly because I was short on fabric and making do!).  I have always thought patterns overestimate so I never seem to buy what it says – I have fixed numbers in my head as to what garments require e.g. a sleeveless top uses 1m/1yd, a dress uses 2-3metres etc – I am such a tightarse and can usually make it work.


I bought the fabric and the pattern months ago but it took me ages to find buttons to match the fabric. When did it become so hard to buy decent buttons and when did they become so expensive? I bought these at Mood, yep, I was so desperate to find the matching buttons I took my little swatch all the way to NYC.  These ended up costing me $1.50 each – crazy when the dress requires ten! That’s more than my fabric cost.


The pattern was super quick to make and not many alterations were required.  In retrospect though I should have cut about two sizes smaller and done an FBA instead of cutting my bust measurement and having to alter the shoulders and waist darts – but as you may know by now I really don’t do muslins unless it is a vintage pattern so I live with the results.  I have never really had any big non-fixable disasters.

Oh yeah, I added pockets too – it is always good to have places to store stuff!
BTW – did you check out my new favourite shoes?? Super cute and comfortable – awesome!!
I have more shirt-dresses planned – anyone have any tips on where to get good buttons that don’t cost the earth??