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!!

Dotty Gauze Felicity

This is my second JLV Felicity dress, to be honest whilst I like my first one, I don’t wear it very often as the rayon creases so badly. I feel so self conscious about having such wrinkly clothes. However the fit was so good that I had to make it again.

Felicity 1This version is in a lovely double gauze that I picked up in Japan late 2014. It is the most amazing fabric to wear, so cool and floaty I wish I had bought loads more. Guess it’s another excuse to go back to Japan huh?

Felicity 5

Anyway back to the dress, I combined the bodice of the Felicity with the skirt of M6503, my go to, not fabric hungry skirt. I did keep the pockets of the Felicity though as these are just the perfect size and depth.

I didn’t have enough fabric to make self bias binding so I opted to use store bought white bias.

FelicityAfter seeing Jennifer’s recent post on ways to finish a bias neckline, I liked the idea of the little bow with the bias trim and chose to add this with a dome closure to finish the top of the zip in a cute way.

Felicity 2

You may have noticed this fabric wrinkles a little too, but these pics were taken having worn the dress a few times so its not too bothersome. Besides the double gauze can be forgiven for any faults, it feels too amazing for me to care!

Felicity 3

I have some 1″ turquoise gingham that I think would look amazing in this pattern – what do you think, too twee or age inappropriate?

Vintage Simplicity 4525

Inspired by the Vintage Pledge of 2015, I thought I would continue into this year by making up some more of my patterns. It has been stinking hot here recently and I desperately needed to make a new sundress as last year’s ones either don’t fit any more or I’m no longer in longer in love with them or quite the opposite and I’ve worn them to death!

Time for a new dress (it’s always time for a new dress though right?)!!

Searching through my patterns I found this little treasure I’ve been wanting to make for a while, vintage Simplicity 4525 from sometime during the 40s.

S4525 - 1

You will note my copy is for a 32″ bust, which I definitely am not!  To “grade” this, I first tissue fit the pattern i.e. held it up to my body in the mirror. I could see it needed to add extra at the centre and definitely some more at the sides. I ended up cutting the front bodice and yoke 1″ from the fold, with a 2″ seam allowance on the sides. The back I also cut with a 2″ side seam allowance.

S4525 - 3

This method seems to have worked beautifully, the fit pretty good and required only a little tweaking at the side seams for fit.  I didn’t overfit as I wanted the dress to be looser fitting to be a little cooler in our sticky summers.

S4525 - 5

The back buttons are ridiculous! How the heck is anyone supposed to do them up, I certainly am not fancy/rich enough to have a lady’s maid nor am I so flexible to do them myself. I made the buttons functional but also added a side zipper so I could get dressed on my own!

S4525 - 4

You will also note I left off the sash ties.  I did have them on originally, however hubby dearest didn’t like them as you could see the reverse of the fabric which being white stood out. I couldn’t double them over as the seersucker I used for the dress was too stiff.

I love the pockets, they are huge!!  I did debate the addition of rick rack, but felt combined with the polka dots it might all be a bit twee.  I am happy with this decision.

S4525 - 6

I really enjoyed making this dress, it’s so different from sewing a modern pattern. The cover artwork is lovely, the instructions comprehensive and well illustrated and as with almost all vintage patterns there are extra design details which make the garment a bit different.

I’m already thinking about making a navy version with white trim for a nautical look.

PS – this already counts towards my self-imposed pledge to make at least 5 vintage patterns this year (even though the vintage pledge hasn’t been announced for 2016 yet!)

Reglisse Dress AKA 50 shades of meh dress


This dress was made at the recent (hmm ok not so recent, it was June) Sewaway weekend in Melbourne. In my defence of the lateness of my post, it has been pretty cold (for me) lately and I really did want to photo this without the cardi & tights that is normally a staple at this time of year. Plus it’s too dark when I get home to take pics and the first thing I’m thinking about when I get home is dinner!!

The pattern is the Deer & Doe Reglisse.  The dress has a bias cut bodice with cap sleeves and a three quarter circle skirt.


The dress went together very easily and I am really happy with the fit straight out of the envelope.  I figured with the bodice being on the bias might mean I could avoid an FBA – I think I can get away with this as there is no obvious pulling. I used a supposed rayon from my stash bought a couple of years ago in London, I am pretty sure this is a cotton though, it just doesn’t have the drape that it should.


What to say about this pattern? Well I like it, but I don’t love it.  I feel like it is perhaps a bit boxy and like the cap sleeves make me look a little broader. I’m not fishing for compliments, believe me, just being honest.  I still wear it and of course love the polka dots, but I just don’t love the shape on me.

I’m also not the biggest fan of the elasticated waist. Normally I love an elastic waist for comfort, but the pattern calls for 1 1/16″ elastic so this is fairly wide and sits kind of loose.  I would suggest altering this otherwise a belt feels necessary all the time.

The waist casing sits funny, but a belt sure fixes this!


  • bodice shape and the flared skirt
  • polka dots!!
  • easy to construct


  • the width of the elastic & casing – too frumpy like
  • the ties are too short to tie in a bow like the pattern envelope indicates
  • the cap sleeves?? I might play around and see if I prefer it sleeveless
  • it would be better with pockets, cos all garments should have pockets!
Apparently I’m falling over in this one!

So there you go, my mediocre Reglisse dress. Have you made anything a little meh lately? You know, nothing glaringly awful, that you’re just not feeling?

Polka Dot Obsession Coat aka Robson Trench

It’s definitely no secret that I love a good polka dot fabric and when I found this fabric a couple of years ago in Walthamstow for only £2/m I just had to get some. To me, it was screaming TRENCH COAT!!! It’s some kind of polyester, thick-ish,  reversible and pretty much windproof.IMG_6288I actually made most of this at the Melbourne Sewaway in June last year, but I didn’t finish it as there were a couple of fit issues, the binding was taking FOREVER and I ran out of thread! I procrastinated for a while after I got home and eventually finished it late last year, just in time to not wear it all summer! Typical!!


So, now the weather has cooled sufficiently and this coat has now become a bit of a staple. I wear it every day to and from work, it is the perfect weight to shelter from the slightly cool mornings we have here in winter. A normal winter morning in Brisbane is about 12-15°C – yeah not much to complain about huh?


The pattern is Robson Trench by Sewaholic with only a couple of modifications. The most obvious being the 4-5″ I took off the length. I did this for a couple of reasons, one, I am only 5’2″ so I normally shorten everything anyway, additionally I felt a knee length polka dot jacket might be a bit much. I also question the proportions of a knee length jacket on my figure.


The other alteration I had to do was take a serious amount of width out of the hip area. I cut my pattern based on my shoulder and waist measurements and can only assume I disregarded the hip measurement (even at the time I couldn’t remember). I had tried it on during the construction process, but it was only upon belting that the size became really evident. My fabric is firm-ish so the additional fullness poofed out really weirdly.

Word to the wise, try this on for size with a belt, well before doing all the bias bound seams. Ask me how I know…grrr. Unpicking all that bias and re-attaching it = not fun!! I ended up taking it in about 5″ around the hips.


Another note (which I didn’t find obvious on the pattern envelope) was that this uses a lot of thread – I used nearly 3 spools! (another reason this went into hiatus was running out of thread and forgetting to get more)

My final recommendation is to use a lighter fabric for the lining of the storm flaps. I used a cotton, mostly because I forgot to cut the lining pieces, but I am glad I did as in the fashion fabric it would have been too thick.

This really is an interesting project to sew. I love all the top-stitching detail, the tabs, sleeve and pocket detail. I am not a big fan of all the piping though and when I make this again will likely line it instead as this was a bit of a tedious process – even if it does look really good, if I do say so myself 😉


All being told, I really love this jacket. It probably doesn’t go with everything in my wardrobe given the colour and print, but I figure being outer wear that isn’t too important. I had to giggle the other day though when I was wearing this coat over a polka dot dress – is there really such a thing as too many polka dots??

My polka dot obsession aka V8766

It’s no secret to anyone that I like polka dots, in fact I went out the other day in this dress, polka dot shoes and my phone cover is polka dot also. Obsessed much? They make me happy, end of story.


So of course it goes without saying when I found a polka dot cotton in navy (my new favourite neutral) but with pale blue, white and red polka dots I snapped it up. It was such a dreary day that day in Montmartre, raining, depressing and no good for a tourist in Paris. I just knew this would cheer me up!


The pattern is Vogue 8766, a dress pattern with a simple four dart and options of sleeves, sleeveless and spaghetti straps.


I did my usual FBA, narrow shoulder adjustment, took it up an inch at the shoulders and shortened the waist. All normal adjustments for my short frame. I also lowered the neckline by approximately 1.5″ as I find this more flattering. I eyeballed this on the fabric so can’t be exact (oops forgot to transfer it back to my pattern).


This fabric was a super wide 150cm, unusual for a cotton so I was pleased to be able to get a full circle skirt out of it. Normally I’m a bit cheap with fabric and only buy enough for a pleated or dirndl skirt (old habits die hard).


I love the swooshiness of the circle skirt, but I have to say it certainly is not weather friendly right now. We have been getting some crazy wind of late and this has serious flasher potential!!


Now I am not sure if you would call this lazy or genius, but I made the entire dress on my machine. I attached the bodice lining using the Cambie lining technique, I then used stitch in the ditch at the waist to catch the lining down at the waist.

This pattern is a great simple one to use when you want to let the fabric do the talking, it is straightforward to construct, and fully lined so has a great clean finish. I will make more of these bodices, but the full circle skirt won’t happen too often as I don’t find it so great for every day wear. I can definitely see the bodice working with my beloved M6503 skirt.

Polka dots FTW!!

Going Dotty Cambie

Very slow to catch on to this (probably now long past) trend, I thought I would give this pattern its BusyLizzie debut! There are so many lovely versions floating around the internets and the girly-ness of this pattern really appealed. Plus those cute little sleeves are perfect to protect my shoulders from our harsh Aussie sun!

Polka Dot Cambie

I made a muslin first and using my upper bust measurement and an FBA using this method and got a really nice fit. Those of you that follow me on Instagram might have seen that my original plan was for a floral one, but then I decided the fabric was too much and I couldn’t stand it as a dress, so it got wadded into the corner to be made into sleep shorts (coming soon).

Polka Dot Cambie
I swear these darts are not that pointy IRL!

The other major change I made on this pattern was to switch out the skirt to the Belladone skirt. I didn’t want a super full skirt and didn’t have enough fabric anyway, but I knew the A-line one would be too smooth across my tummy (where I am not so smooth). The pleats of the Belladone skirt make it super flattering and I know it has worked before. I also shortened the bodice by an inch.

Whilst I love this dress, the colour and the general look, I have one small problem…I can’t get dressed without help.

Polka Dot Cambie
Sorry, no pattern matching here 😦

I have limited mobility in my right arm due to breaking it when I was young and can’t reach high behind my back (you may notice most of my dresses have a low back). So this one proves to be very difficult to get in and out of. Perhaps with more ease it would move more and I could twist it somehow, or maybe I might do a v-back version a la Anna of Paunnet. (oh getting another vision in my head now…)

I followed the instructions to the letter with this one (with a couple of hiccups as I went ahead without reading). I had heard the lining had an amazing technique for insertion – it’s true it does, and here’s the best bit…no hand-sewing required!!  That is my kind of construction.

Polka Dot Cambie

What I liked:
– the ease of construction
– the cute sleeve detail and sweetheart neckline

What I would change for next time:
– potentially shorten the bodice by 1cm as it still feels ever so slightly long
– give myself more ease around the waist
– insert a stay onto the neckline so it sits closer to my body. Couture Academic has some great tips on how to do this

All told, I am loving this dress and feel super girly in it. Not sure I have immediate plans for another, but there will be one eventually…so many more patterns to try first.

Thanks to Kat for taking the pics 🙂

Polka Dot Cambie

Pattern – Cambie by Sewaholic
Fabric – 2m of cotton from Spotlight (pre-stash count)
Notions – Lining, zipper & thread from my stash

Completed: Polka Dot B5748

My lovely hubby and I spent last weekend up in Noosa (an hour and a half drive up the coast from where we live) – what a perfect opportunity to give my new dress an outing and give you lovely readers a change from my usual backdrops!

Technically it is still winter here, but seriously look at this weather, it was just fabulous, we are so spoilt. It was a gorgeous 25ºC – perfection!


This is a new pattern to me, Butterick 5478, a vintage repro pattern with great back neckline detail. Whilst I love the end result, it definitely is not perfect, nevertheless I don’t care and know this will get stacks of wear!


The fabric is a polka dot cotton bought ages that I had stashed for the perfect pattern and I think this might be it!

I made quite a few modifications to get the fit and one to rescue a fit issue that I couldn’t be bothered fussing with!  First the rescue – I was having some issues getting the waist darts to sit properly due to the FBA, they just looked silly and wouldn’t sit flat. I then just cut the bottom off the bodice and replaced it with a band that I piped with white satin piping bought some time ago.  Then I ran into another drama, I cut the waistband and piping a touch too small and the waist didn’t fit, so I cast it aside for about four months. No idea how I did that, guess I was having a blonde moment and measured wrong, or perhaps I cut what I wanted to be instead of what I am 😉

“Move your arms, do something interesting” says hubby/director/photographer

I pulled it out again recently as I have lost a little weight and yay it fitted!  So I finished it off with an invisible zipper and a pleated dirndl skirt.

My pattern alterations:
– shortened bodice by 1″
– added waistband
– dirndl skirt instead of circle (didn’t have enough fabric)

As always, I still think I could do a lot more to improve the fit for next time, but I am not sure that anyone apart from sewers and me would even notice.  We really are own worst critics aren’t we? Aside from the imperfections, I love, love, LOVE this dress!! I think this with a bit of tweaking, this  my next TNT pattern!  Oh and next time, it really needs pockets.

A bit of self indulgence 🙂

Polka Dot Sencha

I’m back with more polka dots – yep I just love polka dots and especially red with white polka dots.  I really should be participating in Polka Dot Frock Fest by Scruffy Badger, but as I am away for most of February I didn’t think I would commit.

This linen fabric I bought on my NYC trip last year with the original idea of a dress.  You will note this is not a dress….because the dress was a disaster! I think I have finally have learnt the importance of a muslin.

The pattern I used was Simplicity 2180. The dress was supposed to have white piping around the waist band and around the neck and in my head looked lovely.  The reality was not so great.

I know the envelope is fugly, but I could see it working, and I will try again soon (with a muslin next time).  Unfortunately the fit was not close to the measurements on the pattern.  I cut out the recommended size, did an FBA following a tissue fit, but the back was just huge.  I also discovered that my fabric would have been too sheer for the skirt. Yes, I know I could have lined it, but that was my excuse to myself to hack it into something different…and the polka dot Sencha was born!


My alterations:
– I changed the neckline to a scoop neckline
– omitted the buttons on the back,  I have no idea how one is supposed to do those up, I certainly can’t reach!  It is easy enough to put over my head anyway.
– I used bias to face the neck edge
– narrow shoulder adjustment
– narrow hem on the sleeves and machine stitched


I still really like this pattern, it is a great little top that I can dress up for work or wear with jeans in the weekend.  With the polka dots, I love the retro vibe this has. I like that this is a quick pattern to make up, almost instantly gratifying.  I have read online that many people have had issues with the fit, but I think I have this sorted now.  This is my third Sencha now, one blogged here and the other not yet blogged and it really does work in a number of fabrics.


Quick info:
Top – made by me, pattern Colette Sencha
Notions – only cotton!
Jeans – Target

PS – I am still planning on doing a pocket tutorial like I used on the Hollyburn skirt, but I don’t have any fabric to make a skirt from.  I know, weird right? 🙂  I am away for a couple of weeks later this week and will buy some fabric whilst away so I will do a tutorial when I get back.

PPS – if my posts are sparse over the next couple of weeks it is because I will be away and may not be able to blog