Category Archives: dresses

Cloud 9 with a silver lining

IMG_5618 (533x800)

Pattern: Midsummer Night’s Dream by Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 100% organic cotton – Cloud9 Palos Verdes Voile in Abalone Cove
Size: XXS
Modifications: Same as my first version, plus I lowered the back by 1″ and sewed down the ties to make double thin straps

This pattern is back again already! I’ve been wearing my first version a lot for Me-Made-May, so I decided to make a second one right away. Plus, it’s part of my Wardrobe Architect plans, so it’s practical 😉

I love the watercolour effect of this print. Pale orange and peach are not my best colours, but it’s just so pretty that I had to make a summer dress! It reminds me of my favourite dress that I had when I was three, my “bubble dress”, that had rainbow coloured bubbles all over it. This dress just makes me happy when I put it on!

I did french seams throughout because I love the clean finish, but I didn’t bother with print matching at all – I just don’t enjoy that like some people do!

Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress

Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress Cloud 9 Abalone Cove Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress  Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress

Silver Lining shrug:

Yarn: 50% wool/50% silk Handmaiden Fine Yarn Lady Godiva in Smoke
Pattern: my own
Ravelry notes here

This yarn is so soft and has a gorgeous silvery sheen with warm golden tones to it when it catches the light. The pattern turned out more-or-less how I envisioned it: a bit slouchy and casual, but still a bit dressy too. It goes with pretty much everything, so it’s the perfect topper for spring and summer dresses on cooler mornings and evenings.

IMG_5615 (533x800)

IMG_5611 (533x800)

IMG_5626 (533x800)


Spring blossoms dress

Can I just say how much I love this dress? It was meant to be a wearable muslin because I was having second thoughts about the fabric, but now that it’s finished I want to wear it all the time! It’s comfortable and casual, yet fun and flirty, loose and flowy, but fitted in all the right places. Perfect for spring and summer bike rides, picnics, and going to the beach!

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Pattern: Midsummer Night’s Dream by Papercut Patterns (I almost passed this one over because of the, um, “odd” spelling. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I refuse to copy it!)
Fabric: Valori Wells, Wish, Treasure – Tolerance from Pink Chalk Fabrics
Size: XXS
Modifications: Shortened the front and sides by 2″ and the back by 4″ (to make the hem even), gathered the top sides (removing 3″ on each side)

This dress was so close to becoming completely unwearable because of major gaping on the sides. I’m not just talking a bit of side-boob. You could see everything if you were standing in the right spot! After a bit of fiddling, I figured out what the problem was: my long torso, as usual! As an experiment, I adjusted the straps to look like they do on the model, so they would lie on the flatter part of the upper chest, and the waist ties came to my under bust line – that is one long upper torso I have, ha ha!

Obviously, I couldn’t wear it like that, so I had to come up with another solution. I put the waist ties back down to my actual waist, and pinched out the excess (3″!) in the form of gathers to get it to lie flat. I actually quite like the soft gathers over the bust, even better than the original, so I plan to do this for future versions too. The only problem was unpicking the bias binding and trying to reattach it after it had been trimmed. It looks a little messy up close!

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

I messed up on the pattern placement, so the flowers are pointing down, and I didn’t even try to match the print. I don’t think it’s really possible to match at the back seam anyway because the edges are on an angle facing opposite directions. I’m not a huge fan of centre back seams in general, but I don’t think it’s too noticeable.

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Finished with french seams throughout, and it’s a little wrinkly after wearing!

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Awkward arms! Modelling does not seem to come naturally to me, ha ha!

I’m just not sure how I feel about the shoulder ties. Too cutesy? I think I might do regular straps for my next version. What do you think?

A Garden Party Cambie

I finished this dress almost two weeks ago, but I was so busy finishing up my two Laurels that I just didn’t have time to post about it. The Cambie is the dress that got me interested in sewing again. When I saw Tasia’s red eyelet version of the dress, and all of the super-clear tutorials she has at Sewaholic, I just knew I had to give sewing another try.

It’s especially fitting that I used a fabric that I bought several years ago to make a summer halter dress (Marilyn Monroe style), but the pattern (Vogue) was so ginormous and I had no idea how to fix the bust on the muslin (I don’t know anyone in real life who sews), so I gave up and vowed never to sew again. But the fabric was so lovely I just couldn’t get rid of it. I had visions of dancing barefoot in a meadow. Or going to a garden party. It didn’t matter that those things never happen in real life.

So I was pretty nervous about the fit when I started this one, especially since Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear shapes, and I’m not at all pear shaped. I cut a 6 on top and a 0 from the waist down according to my measurements, and it actually fits! No other adjustments necessary. I couldn’t believe it.  I’m glad I made this one before the Laurels because I had to make lots of adjustments to that pattern to make it fit even though my measurements match the size chart almost exactly. I guess Colette patterns are for shorter torsos and Sewaholic patterns are for longer ones? I’m not sure. I’m just glad the Cambie fits because I love this dress so much!

Garden Party Cambie Dress

Pattern: Cambie by Sewaholic, view B
Fabric: Cotton from Fabricland (of all places!), lined with the same fabric in the bodice and organic cotton voile in the skirt from Organic Cotton Plus
Size: 6 on top, 0 from waist down
Modifications: Added a couple of inches to the hem, but I forgot to write down how many

I had to omit the pockets because I didn’t have enough of the print to match at three seams, and matching one seam at the back was hard enough!

Garden Party Cambie

Garden Party Cambie Dress

Garden Party Cambie Dress

Garden Party Cambie Dress

Just as I was finishing up the dress, I noticed a tear on the side of the bust! So upsetting. I don’t even know how it happened. I’ve stitched it up so it doesn’t get any bigger, but it doesn’t look so good. I’m thinking of adding a flower from my leftover scraps to cover the hole.

a tear

There will definitely be many more Cambies to come. It’s the perfect summer dress! Now I just need to find some garden parties or meadows…

In other news, Me-Made-May is here! I don’t have many items yet since I just started sewing a month ago, but I’m going to participate anyway! I figure 3 days a week should be manageable (I hope!) so here’s my pledge:

‘I, Chantal of A Handmade Wardrobe, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear a self-made garment three times a week for the duration of May 2013’

It’s going to be fun!

A Pair of Laurels (just in time!)

I had every intention of finishing my Laurels with plenty of time to spare before the end of the contest, but here we are on deadline day, and I just finished them both yesterday. Oh well, it looks like I’m not the only one – there are a ton of pictures being posted last-minute to the flickr pool! I remember seeing a quote posted on some advertising sign many years ago that said something to the effect of “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done”. So true!

When the contest was first announced, I was so excited to be able to take part in a sewing related event, but I wasn’t too crazy about the silhouette. I normally go for more fit and flare type styles, so I decided to take in the waist for more shaping and add a bit to the length so I feel more comfortable. I’m happy with the result, and I think it still pushes me outside of my comfort zone.

The Practice Laurel

I made my first Laurel out of some undyed organic cotton (maybe muslin? I’m not sure) that I’ve had for years. I played around with the fit for ages trying to get it right. After a while, I realized I could just add front darts from another dress that fit, so I added darts from the Cambie (post coming soon – I finished this one before the Laurels, but I haven’t had time to post about it because of the contest). I lined up the waistline and the center front and it worked perfectly! I experimented with drafting facings, but in the end decided to just line the whole thing with cotton voile since I didn’t want any stitching lines to show on my final version.

Organic Cotton Laurel

Pattern: Laurel by Colette
Fabric: Undyed Organic Cotton (maybe muslin? not sure) and Organic Cotton Voile lining in white from Organic Cotton Plus
Size: 0
Modifications: Added front darts, took in back darts by 0.5″ each, took in side seams by 0.5 “, chopped 0.5″ off around armholes, added 0.75″ in bodice length above bust, added 1.5″ in length at waist, added 1” to skirt length

I added a tab belt to add some interest around the waist and I left all of the darts open below the waist.

Laurel Tab Belt

Tab belt with shell buttons

side pockets with decorative stitching

side pockets with decorative stitching

laurel back view

It was all looking good until I decided to add some decorative top stitching to my practice version. It stretched out the keyhole at the back so now it looks kind of wonky.

Then I decided to add some keyhole cutouts to the skirt. I thought it would look neat to have the sheer white voile in the cutouts to show a little bit of texture and add interest to the plain colour. I stitched around the edges to hold the layers together and keep them from fraying, and used tissue paper on the bottom to stabilize everything while stitching, but it ended up looking really messy. I just couldn’t go around the curves smoothly. Maybe it’s something that just takes practice.

wonky decorative details

wonky decorative details

I still like the idea, but I think next time I’ll do the top stitching and cutouts all by hand with white embroidery floss for extra impact. And maybe it would look better with two colours that contrast more.

Laurel 2:

When the contest was first announced, and I saw that there was a category for self-designed fabrics, I thought that was perfect. I’d been meaning to design some fabric and have it printed on spoonflower (I even had their $1 colour sampler swatch already), so this was the perfect opportunity! There wasn’t enough time to order a proof and still enter the contest, so I had to guess on the darkest colour. I was aiming for a deep sapphire or navy, but it came out purple. I think it still works, but I will definitely be investing in a full colour sampler for future spoonflower projects – and there will definitely be more!

I decided to do an ombre design since the straight lines of this pattern allow for a large pattern repeat. So I did an ombre ikat design that reminds me of raindrops. You can find the design on spoonflower here. I had it printed on their Organic Cotton Sateen.

Ombre Ikat Raindrop fabric

Ombre Ikat Raindrop fabric

Laurel Ombre Ikat

Laurel Ombre Ikat
Fabric: My own design printed on spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Sateen, and Organic Cotton Voile lining in white from Organic Cotton Plus
Pattern/Size/Modifications: Same as practice Laurel, but I took out the side seams and back darts slightly since the first one was a bit tight.

The keyhole turned out better on this version without the top stitching.

back keyhole detail

back keyhole detail

Practical side pockets

Practical side pockets

tab belt

tab belt

I think I’ll redo the tab belt. It’s a bit too small so it’s pulling the dress a bit at the waist. Plus I think it would look better a bit wider and with better top stitching 🙂

hand-stitched hem

hand-stitched hem

Ombre Ikat Laurel

The full-length pictures don’t really show the pattern very well – the close-up shots are much more accurate. But, in the end, I’m happy with this one!

A Teal Tiramisu!

I made a dress! My first sewing project since high school, which was, well… let’s just say a while ago. I had every intention of joining the sew-along, but life got in the way, so I feel like I’ve been working on this dress for two months!

teal tiramisu dress

Fun to twirl in!

teal tiramisu dress

back of teal tiramisu dress

teal tiramisu dress

Pattern: Tiramisu Dress from Cake Patterns
Organic Cotton Jersey in Teal from
Size: 30C with modifications
Combined skirt pieces and back pieces to remove center seam
Cut skirt and back straight instead of on the bias
Removed 3 cm from each of the front bodice pieces to open up the neck
Removed 3 cm from each side of front and back midriff pieces
Added a waist tie

tiramisu dress modifications

3 cm off each side of front bodice pieces to open up the neck

tiramisu dress modifications

A little off the back to blend with front

tiramisu dress modifications

3 cm off the front and back midriff pieces to get a better fit in the waist

Now that I look at the list, it seems like a lot of changes for a first knit dress, but I’m happy with how it turned out. The seams are a bit wonky, so I won’t show you those ; )

My biggest challenge was trying to do the hem with a double needle. I could not for the life of me work out how to get the stitches not to skip. I googled the problem, and tried all of the suggested solutions, including tissue paper on the top, and then on the bottom, but nothing fixed the problem completely. So after spending hours picking bits of tissue paper off and ripping out the hem twice, I decided to just leave it and do a regular straight stitch hem. It’s not like it needs to stretch anyway.

Then I washed it, and the hem became completely uneven! I thought hanging it for a day would be enough to settle the dress before hemming, but I will definitely be washing all knit projects before hemming in the future – lesson learned!

This fabric is so deliciously soft – I want to make an entire wardrobe out of this stuff!