Sew Sarah

adventures in dress-making

Month: April, 2015

Navy bird dress 

I have really wanted to make another fit and flare dress with sleeves for a while. I only had one and I wore it to death and last winter, one slight over extension saw the shoulder give way.

There isn’t much need, I think, for warmer dresses in Queensland. I don’t tend to feel the cold much either so a cardigan and denim jacket is all I need to convert my summer wardrobe to winter.
I thought the cap sleeves on this Burda pattern would work well. I have a sleeve but it won’t be a problem when I put one of my cropped cardigans on (I hate that line you get on your arm when you put a jumper over a shirt).
I had a go at this yonks ago and despite getting it perfect on my toile, I couldn’t get those square yokes into the bodice. It is still sitting scrunched up in the back of my wardrobe.
So, I did something very technical. I got my princess seam bodice block and overlaid it with the Burda pattern. I retraced and voila – dress with cap sleeves sans square insert buggers.
It fits perfectly.
I used a cheap poly cotton from Spotty that I got on sale for about $4.50 a metre to make a toile that could end up being worn if it worked. The fabric itself is pretty ordinary, as you would expect, but loving the pattern. The pattern patten placement was a little tricky. It has a border-type print running through the middle.
The only problem I have is that the fabric is really thin and for some reason my machine hates it. Especially the gather stitch. I have to tighten my tension a little more than I normally would which results in a few snapped rows before I get a successful gather. Patience a isn’t a virtue I posses. The other thing my machine hates sewing in this thin poly cotton is zips. Don’t know why. So, it isn’t my best zipper but hey-ho, after four attempts, it will do (see above note re: patience).
I am now planning a second make in this. I have a nightie cut out and a denim (ish) Elisalex ready to get on the machine but need to change the overlocker thread! 
I am tempted to head to Spotlight today to get some more fabric but I am sure I have something in my stash. . . . But something navy and polka dots would be cute…no I have some red polka dot fabric….this debate could go on for some time….
It is super windy outside today so very difficult to get a shot where my dress isn’t blowing up and revealing my knickers to my neighbours.



New Look 6002

In about 2004 I bought two dresses which I still wear pretty regularly today. So I do need to wriggle and squeeze to get my bust in but look, I can still wear them. Judging from the pattern and style I think they are Lazybones dresses. I have been a little obsessed with finding a pattern to match. Then I found Retrospec’d dresses which make a similar style in some pretty awesome fabrics (see below).


Excuse me for the lack of technical terms but it is a sweetheart cross over neckline with a separate midriff piece. Each bodice part is separately lined so gives a lot of strength without boning.

After (many) hours Googling when I shouldn’t be, I found Gertie had made something similar here. Success you might think? Out of bloody print. After (many) hours of trawling eBay and Etsy, I had a duh moment. Sold for about five bucks as a out of print pdf pattern here.

Be warned. It has one million pages. Seriously. I had to spread everything out across our entire loung room. In some instances small pattern pieces are on five separate page. I think it is because it is just a pdf replica of a print pattern. I ended up laying it out, picking what I needed and turfed the rest. I self drafted the gathered skirt as it was much easier. 

Anyway, it was relatively easy to get together. I self-lined it and the inside is as neat as the outside. A rare score.


The front section was too wide so pulled in the cross over section by about an inch. That did mean however the bodice at the side and back was a little snug. In usual form I didn’t do a toile.  Though I carefully fitted as I went. That served me well but once I added the security of a zip (rather than pinning), it pulled it a little tighter. 

Next time I would definitely need to do a FBA though unsure how I would do it on a pattern piece like this? Suggestions? I could add some extra fullness to the gathered part of the bottom and a little more depth to the curve at the bust??

Total cost:

PDF pattern – $4.29

Fabric – 2.5 metres poplin at Spotlight’s 30 per cent off sale a few months ago. Taking it down to approximately $27.10. I normally  squeeze a dress out of 1.8 metres but the self lining and the cross over bodice spreads out the patten pieces. I added a little extra to the length as well to balance out the bodice.

Would I make this again?

Totally, with the adjustments mentioned above.



Dirndl dress, winter wardrobe

I was keen to knock over a few makes for my winter wardrobe over the Easter break. I wanted something easy but with sleeves though in Queensland winter is short lived. I landed on this Burda staple, fitted bodice with capped sleeves, as a in-between solution. 

I took a gamble and cut a size smaller than I measured up on the size chart, a 42. The fabric was a super cheap poly cotton from Spotlight so I took the risk. In the sale it come down to about ten bucks for two metres.

I made the dress up with no alterations except scooping out the back a little but next time would shorten the bodice. It is a good inch too long. I would also lift up the neck line as it is a little low for my comfort.  I think I might also have to top stitch the facing down as it is rolling a little, the poly cotton doesn’t press crisply. You can see the evidence on my sleeve in the photo of my back.

I took it out for a swirl and test drive this afternoon and saw Cinderella at the cinema. Terrible movie, fabulous costumes. Did the job.

Might put a navy one together tomorrow!



Ps. Small confession. Couldn’t be bothered changing the overlocker thread so it is finished in black. We all have these dirty little sewing secrets doesn’t we? Please don’t judge me!

Winter fabric, winter wardrobe: navy and red variations 

I decided this morning that all my fabric in my stash was too summery and I needed a few new winter additions. Catch is they would all need to go with my winter staples of red shoes, red cardigan, cropped denim jacket, red vintage beads and well, red lipstick. 

Ever the risk-taker and happy to step right outside my comfort zone…..yup you guessed it, red and navy floral fabric…….might even really take a risk and try a fit and flare pattern……

Look, I am happy. And it all only cost sixty bucks. Thanks Spotty. Gotta love a thirty per cent off sale.


Easing into Easter sewing, ninja style 

Look. I will be honest. I tend to make grand sewing promises. Yes I will mend your pants, yes I can make you a beach throw, summer nightie or tunic. I might even go as far as the fabric purchase, only for it to languish in my stash followed by some awkward excuses. I just haven’t had time, my machine is broken, do I even know you??

That may work on my mum or sister. It hasn’t worked on my five year old nephew, Harry. He doesn’t take that crap from me. 

Meet Harry.  Charmer, chatterer and will-bender, so it seems.


In a moment of weakness I promised a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle library bag. I may have forgotten but Harry hasn’t. 

I finally caved to the pressure and splurged on this licenced fabric from Spotlight. $20 bucks a metre. They saw me coming. Without a plan I knocked this up this morning. I intended to make a draw string bag but got crazy with the overlocker and stitched closed the gap for the cord. So I added some facing and some handles instead. Unsure of this is standard library bag contstruction methodology but don’t think Haz-Dog will be complaining! 

Will post it tomorrow mate….(failure to post things as promised is another personal challenge!).