Maternity Wrap dress

Maternity clothes and corporate wear seem to be at the opposite extremes of the clothing spectrum but sometimes you just have to look the part even though you feel like a whale. Especially when starting a new job at 34 weeks pregnant! (I tend to make my life more complicated than it needs to be!).

After complaining to a friend about the lack of maternity wear options, she mentioned that her mom had made her some great dresses and offered me the pattern. Burda 5860 is a great pattern that looks like a wrap dress but it has a sneaky ‘safety’ feature in that the inner front piece is sewn into the side seam to avoid those awkward flashes in the wind! Brilliant!

The pattern is a maternity pattern (although the models on the cover hardly look pregnant at all!) but I’m hoping that I can continue to wear it as I get back to a normal size.

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The fabric is a poly knit with very bold geometric patterns. In the pattern placing and cutting, I tried desperately to align the big triangles down the bodice and skirt back. This was only partly successful because with limited fabric I had to shift things a bit off centre. Luckily the design isn’t totally symmetrical so you can’t really tell.  The fabric is quite slippery so pinning and cutting was a bit tricky and because I could only steal a few minutes at a time (mom of twins!), it felt like it took forever to get it finally cut out.

The dress came together easily enough. I used my overlocker for most of the seams and sewing machine with a double needle for the hem etc.  I was a little rushed (surprise suprise) so wasn’t as careful as I should’ve been with marking out sleeve vent locations and the waist band eyelet. In retrospect I should have taken the time to do it right, but it worked out all right!

Pattern: Burda 5860

Fabric: Poly knit. I think I got it from the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney but it’s been in the stash for a looong time.

Alterations: None

Do it again: Wrap dresses are always a win but I definitely don’t need another maternity one!

Renfrew Maternity Hack in floral

Our exciting (read: overwhelming, a little scary and physically uncomfortable right now) news is that we are welcoming another member to our family…any day now!

Besides the mental preparation, financial and logistical considerations and general nesting, what it has also meant is that I’ve had zero clothes to wear especially since my first pregnancy was during a very hot Sydney summer and this one was mainly through winter.  I have borrowed most of my wardrobe and bought some key pieces but, of course, couldn’t really justify spending much money on clothes I’d only wear for a few months when I have piles of fabric that are aching to be made into something wearable.

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First up:  The Floral Renfew Maternity Hack.  I love this pattern from Sewaholic and have made a few versions that have been well loved.  I decided that this was as good a place to start as any.  I then did a bit of research on how to adjust a pattern for maternity.  There are differing schools of thought on this one and the clearest tutorials I could find were from Melly Sews.  She provides two options with the first probably better for a more flowing style and the second option I decided would suit the Renfrew better and work well with the waist band under my belly.

The fabric I chose is a nice light-weight cotton knit I had left over from my Beach Dress.  It’s a fun floral and although probably more suited to summer clothes, worked well for this in-between season top.  I chose the three-quarter sleeves from the Renfrew pattern which means the top can swing to the warmer or cooler side depending on what’s needed.  Versatility – woohoo!

I followed Melly’s steps and caught the main gist but my pieces didn’t quite line up like they were supposed to.

Any way, I made it work and then set about cutting it out and sewing it up.  Once again, with the help of my trusty old lady overlocker, this came together pretty easily.

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I reinforced the shoulder seams with swimsuit elastic.  I also added rouching in the side seams so that the extra length of the t-shirt is taken up on the sides but sufficient to get over the ever-growing belly.  I created the rouching by just stretching elastic through the lower portion of the side seam and letting the elastic create the rouche. This is probably the lazy way of doing it and really you should sew channels along the side seams and then thread a long tie of fabric through the channels so you can gather as little or as much as you want.  I also should have measured the stretch of the elastic a bit better because the sides aren’t 100% even.  Oops!

This has been a great go-to top during my pregnancy and even now at 38 weeks I can JUST fit into it!  But phew…I’m ready for baby to arrive now!

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Pattern: Sewaholic’s Renfrew adapted for maternity thanks to Melly Sews

Fabric: Lightweight floral cotton knit originally from a fabric store in Marrickville, Sydney

Alterations: Maternity adaptions to the pattern plus side rouching

Do it again: Always room for another Renfrew… Not another maternity one though!

Stretchy sewing: Stretch block toile becomes wearable

I finally finished off my stretch block toile into a long sleeve T-shirt.  This has been sitting on my to-do list forever so I’m glad I’ve finally managed to get it done.  I scooped out the neck a bit and finished off the neckline with an open binding – if I can call it that.

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The sleeves and hem are finished with a zig zag hem.  I contemplated trying a double needle finish but haven’t quite figured out how my machine deals with two cotton reels (I think I’m missing the detachable spindle). Also I didn’t have a matching pink thread.  (excuses…excuses…)

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It’s a good little winter wardrobe number.  Although next time i think I would make it a bit tighter – there seems to be quite a bit of extra fabric under the arms.

I’m still experimenting with finishing off necklines, hems etc in knit fabric.  Do you have a favourite method that works like a charm?  I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stretchy sewing: The Twist Top at last

I finally finished off my Twist top that I started during my stretchy sewing phase. I got it done just in the nick of time to wear to the Vivid Sydney festival this weekend and I think it went well with all the psychedelic lights around.

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The pattern was made as part of the class at Studio Faro on stretch patterns.  The front is fully lined with the same fabric because the twist would reveal the wrong side of the fabric if it wasn’t doubled up. There are probably a few tweaks that I need to make to the pattern to make it fit a fit better and get rid of a little bit of the bulk at the twist but for now it works.  The fabric is a piece of synthetic knit that I found stuffed behind a pile of rolls at a fabric store in Marrickville.  It is horribly faded in places so the colour isn’t consistent but I loved the colour and the feel and it was cheap enough for a ‘wearable’ toile.

I reinforced the shoulders and back of the neck with clear elastic (Thanks, Judy 🙂 ) and I folded over the hem and finished with a zigzag. For the sleeves, I was playing around with finishing techniques and ways to make them a bit longer (my fabric was a running out when I got to the sleeves). I ended up with an extra piece of fabric slightly ruffled (using clear elastic again) and then stitched onto the sleeve.  I’m not entirely sure I’d do it exactly like that again but it was a good experiment.ImageImage

Pattern: My own Twist Top pattern

Fabric: Blue-green polyester knit (badly faded in parts) from the floor of a Marrickville fabric store

Alterations: I need to take a bit of bulk out of the twist and maybe add a centimetre at the twist so it falls better.

Do it again?: Perhaps a summer version when the time comes…

I’m still not totally happy with my seam and edge finishes in stretchy fabric.  Having an overlocker would certainly make my life easier in that department (I believe) but I’m sure there must be other suggestions. SewMaris has a great tutorial on keeping knit necklines in check (note to self: must get stretch interfacing).  Do you have any ideas for hems and sleeve hems? Or neatening up seams?

But it’s a fun top and it turned out better than I had anticipated.  I’m glad I got it finished and into a wearable state.

La Robe de Plage – The Beach Dress

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This flirty little number is a fun, super easy wrap dress for those last gorgeous beach days of summer.  I managed to whip it up in time for our trip back to South Africa for family weddings (yes plural) and to take advantage of the bit of summer we still have left before I get stuck into thinking about an Autumn and Winter wardrobe. I’m normally about a season behind in my sewing projects so the fact that I’m even thinking about what to sew for the cold is progress.  Any way…back to the beach.

I think the French name on the pattern sounds way more sophisticated than ‘Beach Dress’.  So to me, it is ‘La Robe de Plage’.

The pattern (one hardly needs a pattern but I used one) is Burda Young 7207 that my husband picked out for me while on our San Francisco adventure.  It is designed for teenagers and is very easy so I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered that my husband thinks I can still get away with teen wear or insulted that he thinks I need a ‘very easy’ pattern. But I accepted the gesture and agreed that ‘very easy’ is some times quite a nice change to challenging my brain – stretchy fabric is challenge enough!

The pattern is basically a long rectangle that you wrap behind you and cross over at the front with little elasticised loops for your arms.  I chose the shorter version that has a rounded end on the front piece and a ruffle that follows the hemline. The ruffle is cut from a spiral.  My ruffle ended up being a bit too long but instead of cutting it off, I sewed it onto the arm loop to make a fluttery little sleeve.

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The fabric I used is a printed cotton knit that definitely has some elastic in it.  The colours and bright floral design are perfect for summer and the beach and makes the whole thing look a little more special than if I’d used a solid colour or geometric print.  I found the fabric at a little store in Marrickville, Sydney tucked behind piles of other bits and covered in dust.  But it was by far my best find in that shop!

It is very easy to construct with the only challenge being finishing the top end with a twin needle stitch – I still have not perfected this.  I was thinking that maybe including some of that clear stabilising elastic would’ve been good to keep the top from stretching too much.  Ideally I would’ve liked to finish off the seam (singular) with an overlocker but I’m yet to add one to my arsenal.  The bottom of the ruffle is left unfinished and has a fun swish to it.

Et voila!  We have La Robe de Plage!  And what a beautiful ‘plage’ we got to play on too. (Aahh…I miss Clifton…although must admit that Balmoral water is MUCH more pleasant to swim in).

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This was a fun quick project ideal to whip up before a summer holiday.  I hope I get a few more beach days in so I can wear it!

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Pattern: Burda Young 7207 Beach Dress (or Robe de Plage)

Fabric: Stretch cotton with colourful floral print

Alterations: My ruffle ended up longer than my hem line so instead of cutting it off, I took it over the shoulder to create a little fluttery sleeve

Do it again?: My friends have already started placing orders! Although I think I’d want to wait until I got an overlocker because I still don’t think the sewing machine finish on stretch fabric looks professional enough. And next time I’d try stabilising the top with clear elastic.