Sew Sarah

adventures in dress-making

Category: Uncategorized

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.



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!).



Teeny tiny homemade bikini

I have been contemplating making swimwear for a while but am a little scared of it. What happens if I jump in the water and it stretches the wrong way and ends up around my ankles?

I have found a solution.

Make one for someone else!

I was in the Salvos at Burleigh yesterday and scored this for fifty cents. I knew full well my double D cup would never squeeze in there but for my gorgeous little sister, it was love at first sight.

 Fortuitously we were heading past East Coast Fabrics on the way home and popped in and purchased three metres of  this lush Lycra (not an expert on stretch so happy to be corrected). It was with a pile of similar fabric and my sister believes it is Seafolly. What ever it is, it is has a gorgeous feel. 

I also bought enough to make this New Look wrap. I realised this morning it is a mock wrap so may need to pattern hack as I want a proper DVF inspired dress. 

Anyway back to the cheeky bikini. It was super easy to make. I am on staying at a friends this weekend and borrowed her machine (thank-you Pam) while she is away. I didn’t have an overlocker but the machine had a stretch stitch. 

It took no time to put together and was pretty simple.  The only change we made was adding little wooden beads to the tie ends. My sister loves it and we will be doing a controlled ‘pool’ test later this morning.

Nothing like a full skirt to brighten one’s day

Hopefully the completion of my favourite vintage Butterick 5748 means I have come through the other end of bit of a sewing funk. Saying that, I actually do have about half a dozen dress projects which are blog worthy but it has been so hot in Brisbane over the last few months that the last thing I feel like doing is doing my hair, slapping some make-up on and putting on a bra to take a photo. Way too much effort for a weekend!

Dirty secrets revealed!!

Anyway, I love nothing more than swishing around with a circle skirt and this stiff linen holds the shape well. The only problem is that it is a relaxed weave so after one wear the seams in the bodice (which has no wearing ease) are giving a little. Oh well. Life is pretty good when you have a full skirt, polka dots and my favourite colour red!!

There are no real adjustments made to this patten except I ended up making two sizes down from the measurements on the envelope. This seems a pretty standard Vogue and Butterick adjustment for me.

The photo doesn’t show it but next to full skirts, red and polka dots, I love nothing more than a scooped back and this dress has a lovely one! Check out the envelope package. It was such a bright day when we tried to take this photo that we managed to get one semi decent one before my husband lost patience with me!

Anyway, my next project is well underway. New Look 6002. It is out of print but was able to download it for a few dollars from the Simplicity site. As usual, look beyond the envelope as it is pretty dire. I have a Retrospec’d or Lazybones style dress in mind. I was inspired by a post Gertie made forever ago.

I have already cut the bodice to kick start a sewing Sunday fest on the weekend and am living dangerously. Cut a standard two sizes smaller…. I don’t think I have made a New Look so hoping for the best…….

Preparing my next project and posing in the sun (don’t mind the bin) with my new vintage Buttericks…..



Dress making in miniature

One of my best friend’s was hosting a birthday 1st birthday party for his little girl and just didn’t know what to buy. Having ten (I did have to count using my fingers there) nieces and nephews I know how presents get torn open and then left forgotten about. So, with only a few spare hours to go before the party, I decided to make little Zoe a dress. I struggled finding the right fabric at Spotlight as the kids fabric was just plain tacky. Ended up settling on this lovely floral seersucker. I had Burda 9831 in my stash and made view C. Because I like to bite off more than I can chew I decided to not do the ruffle but added a few centre metres onto the length. It was a super easy make though didn’t follow the instructions. I french seamed all exposed seams and added some red bias binding to the hem. The lining then enclosed the bodice completely. The inside as a result was just as good as the outside. I had a big yellow ribbon in my stash and that matched perfectly. I also had originally repurposed some covered buttons from my failed Anise jacket. However, I was a little stingy on the button holes and they didn’t fit. Thank god for my stash as I had only minutes to spare.

I think the dress went down well and have another one for a little three year old in London who picked out her own fabric. Any suggestions for a pattern? Thinking of maybe an Oliver and S one, they are super cute!







15 ways to change your favourite pattern

Sometimes a simple change such as adding a different neckline or skirt can revamp a TNT pattern. Sometimes I also find the fabric dictates what tweaks I make. I ran across this diagram on Pinterest over the weekend and think it is a really useful tool to have when planning the next project. I might try and find another one for different skirt options.

Please note that I have scoured the Internet and can’t find the original source but do know it has been reposted by many bloggers over the last few years.