Friday, February 21, 2020

McCalls 7922 - The Super Fuchsia Dress

This, my friends, is a tale of what happens when you fall completely and utterly in love with a fabric, and use it despite the fact that it might not be the most suitable candidate for a pattern.

McCalls 7922 #5

At first glance all seems well in the Jorth world of sewing, right? The dress fits, the knot feature is pretty amazing, and boy - does that colour pop! But scratch a little beneath the surface, and you'll find a story of tweaks, adjustments and alterations. So much for quickly whipping up an easy dress!

McCalls 7922 #1

The fabric, is, amazing! I loved it the minute I spotted it at Fabric Deluxe. It's a crinkle viscose in the best fuchsia I've ever seen, and it had to be mine right away. I thought it would look pretty spiffy done up in McCalls 7922, so I set to work, forgetting two little words: crinkle viscose. You see, anything with a crinkle will act somewhat like a stretch, as the crinkles provide the fabric with a LOT more 'give' than a standard woven. As soon as I got the dress to try on stage, I realised it was huge - so I took it in, tried it back on, then took it in some more. Normally I rarely have to do that, so consider my mind blown!

The fabric is also quite sheer, so I decided to ditch the interfacing pieces for the neckline, as I didn't want it to show through. Instead I did a tiny hem around the neckline - it's not the most elegant solution, but it worked for me. I wanted this dress to be an easy summer frock I could throw on for stinky hot days, as the fabric is so light and airy to wear, so I wasn't too fussed about doing couture-worthy finishes on any edges.

I also bid adieu to the front pleat - something about front pleats gives me the heebie jeebies, so I sewed that sew up instead.

The origami knot took me a white to figure out, and I kept needing to bring the seams in closer and closer until I finally got them sitting tightly without slipping out. The notches, for this fabric, were no guide, but I'll blame that on my fabric selection, and not the pattern.

One quick word to the wise: because the origami knot makes the dress rather voluminous around the midriff, it can add a few inches to the waistline. In some of the shots we took I look like a skinny minnie, and in others I look quite impressively pregnant. So heads up if you don't want people asking when your little one is due!

All in all, I absolutely love how this dress turned out, even if it did involve lots of adjustments. Does it look like the pattern photo - um, no... I feel like mine looks more like a slinky evening dress, but I think I can make that work for me! All I need is a better, less visible, bra and me and the super fuchsia dress will be ready to take on the world! Put your sunnies on - this bad boy is BRIGHT!

McCalls 7922 #7

McCalls 7922 #17

McCalls 7922 #8

Project Details:
Pattern: McCalls 7922, view B
Fabric: 1.4m crinkle viscose from Fabric Deluxe
Notions: 55cm invisible zipper

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Vogue 8184 - The Furry Version!

When life hands you a remnant piece of fabric (that, incidentally, you have been eyeing off in the store for ages, and were kicking yourself for not buying when you originally saw it), and aforementioned piece is only 1 metre long, what is one to do? That's right - make a trusty Vogue 8184 out of the bad boy pronto!

Furry 8184 #13

Furry 8184 #6

Furry 8184 #14

Seriously - if anybody else knows of super cute dress patterns that can be made with a single metre of fabric, then please let me know! I can't think of any bar this one - all it needed was some grosgrain ribbon, and we were a-go!

The dress is lined and boned on the bodice. It does make for a bit of extra work, but it stops any creases forming (and when you have a tendency to slump like me, then boning is a handy reminder to STAND UP STRAIGHT, YOUNG LADY!) and always gives a dress a polished look. Grosgrain ribbon along the waistline seam and as shoulder straps complete the look.

As for costs? Well! When you score a bargain remnant for about $15, I reckon this dress comes out at around the $30, tops - even including buying boning, zip and lining fabric. I do love it when the dress comes out looking so much more exxy than it actually costs - I feel like I'm winning at life when that occurs! And who could say no to such awesomely textured fabric - it appears that at the moment, I certainly cannot!

The only downside to this dress is that the fabric has absolutely no give in it whatsoever. So I'd best not stuff myself with burritos before putting it on, because that zip will never go up if I do!

Furry 8184 #16

Furry 8184 #12

Furry 8184 #7

Project Details:
Pattern - Vogue 8184, view D
Fabric - 1 metre remnant piece from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zip, boning, lining fabric.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Frocktails 2019 dress aka The Christmas Tree Dress

I love Christmas. No seriously - I FREAKING LOVE CHRISTMAS! My favourite movie is White Christmas, my favourite smell is the needles of a real Christmas tree, and don't even get my started on plum pudding with custard. So when I saw fabric online that magically combined brocade with green tinsel, I realised my dream of dressing like an actual Christmas decoration could finally come true!



See what I mean? Party on the top, jingle all the way on the bottom! A girl can never have too much tinsel covering her butt as far as I'm concerned! And this tinsel did it's job - I've never had so many pats on my derriere as I did on Frocktails night whilst wearing this dress!


I used my trusty 8184 - I wanted a simple, classic strapless design so this incredible fabric could speak for itself. The fabric came in a 5 yard piece, alternating in wide sections between the brocade and the tinsel, so cutting out was a bit of a challenge but success (with added shimmer) was mine in the end.


The dress is fully lined, and the bodice is boned on each seam line. An invisible zipper completes the job, and to ensure that the tinsel didn't get caught in the zip each time I put the dress on, I trimmed the tinsel away from the zip area - thankfully there is still enough tinsel around to stop that seam looking bald.


All in all, I love this dress! It is truly one of a kind, and the deep Kelly green is my favourite colour ever. I'm so happy the vision in my head when I initially saw the fabric translated to the dress I got to wear. And it was a blast wearing it to Frocktails - it was, as always, a tremendously fun night!


Photos by the super talented Samara Clifford, featuring my favourite sewing partner in crime, Julia Bobbin, who looked stunning herself in her amazing tailored couture blazer. Girl has talent!


Project Details:
Pattern: Vogue 8184, size 8
Notions: lining, interlining, boning, invisible zipper
Fabric: 5 yard silk/tinsel/acetate piece

Friday, November 08, 2019

Pattern mashup! McCalls 7720 and 7835

I've gone rogue. Off piste. Taken the road less travelled. Headed off the beaten track. That's right - I've become that person... the pattern masher upper!

And why not, says I. Sometimes the bodice is perfect, but the skirt not so much. Or vice versa. And that indeed was the case for this dress. I was making an outfit to wear to the races, and race wear is a devilishly trick beast to define. Much fancier than normal day wear, but not so fancy that you start slipping into cocktail hour. If it looks at home in a nightclub, it ain't race wear! Likewise, if you can recycle your outfit to wear to the office, you haven't nailed it either. It's got to be sophisticated, sharp yet look good in the sunshine.

I had a vision, and it seems I needed two patterns to make the magic happen!

I have long been in love with McCalls 7835 - the skirt in particular was calling my name - but once I made the bodice I realised I had erred into "very well dressed wedding guest" territory. Dóh! I needed a bodice that would keep the outfit dressy, without being over the top glam. I rifled through my pattern stash and came upon McCalls 7720. "Hmm", I thought to myself. "Jorthy old girl, this just might work!"

Now, a sensible person would have done a muslin, but I like to throw caution to the wind and sew on the wild side! Thankfully I had enough spare fabric to attempt bodice #2, so I plunged in, and by Jeeves - it worked!



I'm super happy with how this dress turned out! The bodice is boned and interfaced, and the dress is fully lined. The fabric was a Japanese acetate with a bit of stretch, which made it a very comfortable dress for walking around all day in. The only thing I would have done differently is chosen different shoes - my feet were killing me by the end of the day! But the veil headpiece - now that was a winner! I only wish I could get away with wearing it every day!


Project details:
Patterns: Skirt from McCalls 7835, bodice from McCalls 7720
Fabric: Japanese acetate from Draper's Fabrics.
Notions: 35cm invisible zipper, boning, interfacing.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

McCalls 7954

It's hot. So hot. So hot I think I might melt. The thought of actually wearing clothes revolts me. Yet decency decrees that clothes must be worn! Thank goodness, then, that I sewed myself the lightest and airiest dress of all time - say hello to McCalls 7954!

McCalls 7954 #8

McCalls 7954 #5

This is seriously the best dress ever for those horrid 40 C plus days. I made it up in a very light cotton, and it almost feels like wearing nothing at all! Plus it looks super cute on - I may feel turgid and irritable on the inside, but this makes me look put together on the outside. Win win!

The one downside? The cotton is kinda sheer. My fault for not underlining the skirt, as I was a wee bit short on fabric. So alas, no posing with the light behind me for these shots, least I inadvertantly do a Princess Diana on you all!

Technically, this was a great pattern to sew. I particularly liked the bodice gathering system - I'm definitely going to keep it in mind for future projects. Getting the key hole section in the bodice to sit perfectly straight was a bit tricky - there may have been some unpicking going on - but ironing the section flat before sewing it made life much easier for me.

Would I make this dress again? Probably not - it's a smidge too short for my liking, and not quite demure enough for work wear, but nevertheless I adore how cute it is, and it will be perfect for hot summer evening drinks with friends - that's if I can bear to leave the house in the first place!

McCalls 7954 #9

McCalls 7954 #1

Project Details:
Pattern - McCalls 7954, view 1 + 4
Fabric - Textured lightweight cotton from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Silk cami and sequin skirt

Teen fashion. It's a tricky one, isn't it? On the one hand, you want them to have bucketloads of fun exploring amazing fashion possibilities. On the other hand, you want them to feel comfortable and secure in their clothing choices. Balancing individual tastes with the teenage desire to fit in can be tricky rope to walk, but I think with this case we nailed it!

Cami and sequin skirt

I chatted lots to my girl before we decided on this outfit. The theme of the party she is going to is 'neon', but we wanted something that was wearable and could be used for other occasions, not just some screamingly bright fluoro one-off. I had seen this bright silk crepe de chine at The Fabric Store, and had been wanting to make the Ogden Cami by True Bias for ages, so it was a no brainer. Then we searched on Pinterest for "cami outfits", and once we saw the pairing with a sequinned skirt we were sold!

My girl loves it because it makes her feel grown up and sophisticated. I love it because it is flipping awesome, and now I really want one of my own!

Cami and sequin skirt 005

Project Details:
Cami pattern: Ogden Cami by True Bias
Cami fabric: 1.6m of neon yellow silk crepe de chine from The Fabric Store.

Skirt Pattern: New Look 6103
Skirt Fabric: 50cm sequinned fabric from GJ's Discount Fabrics, plus lining material

Friday, August 16, 2019

Vika - again!

Brooding landscape? Check.

Freezing Irish weather? Check.

Kind of frightening ruined castle? Check.

Can a snuggly warm handknit be a match for all this? YOU BETCHA, BABY!





Here's my girl modelling her second Vika sweater during our trip to Ireland earlier this year. (See previous version here). Not much to tell - she loved the jumper, wanted it to be slim fitting again, so I made child size 8 and extended the sleeves and body to accommodate her extra length. It's a pretty intensive knit (all those cables!) but I got it finished during the trip for her to wear, and she loves it. Phew!

Project Details:
Pattern - Vika (for kids, there's also an adult version) by Brooklyn Tweed
Yarn - The Fibre Company Cumbria Worsted from Yarn + Co.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Simplicity 8014 Shirt dress

Give me an S! ESS! Give me a H! HAITCH! Give me an I! EYE! Give me a... oh dear, this is going to take all day. Quick, say it with me now: GIVE ME A SHIRT DRESS! YEAH!

Shirt Dress 03

I have wanted to make a shirt dress for years. Yes, literally years. But the perfect pattern always eluded me, despite extensive searching. The problem is, most shirt dresses come with a pointed collar, which I don't like. I don't like how they look on me, I don't like how they remind me of school shirts, and I especially don't like how they remind me of years of crappy jobs where you had to wear one of those shirts as part of a uniform. Shuddering in horror here at the memories.

But shirts with band collars? That I do like. Shirt dress patterns with band collars? Come over here, and let me buy you a drink! Or even better - let me sew you up!

Shirt Dress 04

I went for the band collar, full skirt and long sleeve option on this pattern, after finding the most amazing fabric from The Fabric Store. It's a heavy weight cotton, which I was really excited about, as it would be provide me with the warm I need and also give the skirt some desired fullness. I pretty much stuck to the pattern as was, with the only alterations being taking the sleeves seam allowances in by 1cm (I also like skinny sleeves) and doing a faux cuff on the sleeves, rather than a real cuff. I knew I wouldn't ever roll the sleeves up (see warmth requirements, above) and I just couldn't be bothered faffing about making a true cuff. So I cheated!

I also added some topstitching on the button band, sleeve seams and the cuffs. I am a sucker for how topstitching makes a garment look so much more tailored, and it really suits the look of this dress.

The fit on this is great - nicely cinched in at the waist, and beautifully fitted across the shoulders. If you like a good, tailored fit, you can't go past this pattern. Would I sew it again - if the right fabric crosses my path, I would certainly consider it! Now give me an S for Super Stylish Shirt Dress! Woo hoo!

Shirt Dress 01

Shirt Dress 08

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 8014, View A with band collar
Fabric: 3m cotton from The Fabric Store
Notions: 17 buttons, interfacing

Friday, May 24, 2019

Embroidered tulle dress using Butterick 6086

Embroidery? Sheer tulle? Grosgrain ribbon waist? Oh baby, take me there!

I saw a RTW version of this dress when scrolling through fabric on Etsy, alongside the fabric itself, and although no doctor was present to confirm anything, I swear my heart stopped a beat. Then restarted itself, beating fast with passion fueled by the desire to get my hands on this fabric as soon as possible. Click, yes, 2 meters in my cart and we are done - the dress of my dreams will soon be mine!

When a fabric is this beautiful, it's always best to let it speak for itself, and not overcomplicate things with a fiddly pattern. In other words, keep it simple, stupid! So I chose Butterick 6086, which I had made before. It is a simple pattern that suits my body shape, has lovely thin sleeves, and pretty much matched what I wanted this dress to be.

The only pattern alterations I made were to shorted and straighten the skirt, and to increase the skirt width. I also reduced the sleeve width by 1cm - a small amount I know, but I have skinny chicken arms and I wanted the sleeves to look nice and slimline.

Actually making the dress was pretty easy! I took my time with pattern placement when cutting out the pieces, and am so happy with how the embroidery looks on the dress. The bodice front and backs were interlined. The skirt was lined, and for the lining and interlining I used a cotton voile that had a nice bit of body, so the skirt would fluff out a bit.

The hardest part was ironing the tulle. I always love pressing my seams so they look razor sharp, but I couldn't do that with this dress as the risk of melting the tulle was quite high. I had to content myself with taking a gently, gently approach with the iron on quite a low setting. My seams don't look as sharp as I would generally like them, but I had no melting accidents, so I'm calling it a win!

All tulle seams were done as French ones.

To conclude, I am so happy with how this dress turned out! I did um and ah a bit about adding the grosgrain ribbon to the waist, but when I consulted with my daughter and her bestie, who were having baking session in the kitchen, they both voted for the ribbon waistband. How could I dispute the fashion sense of savvy teens? I dare not, so beribboned my dress became!

Now I just want to make all the things out of all the tulle. Don't be surprised if you see another tulle creation in the future!

Project details:
Pattern - Butterick 6086, view C
Fabric - Embroidered tulle fabric from Yanafashion on Etsy, 2 meters, plus 1.3 metres of cotton voile
Notions - 55cm invisible zipper

Monday, May 06, 2019

Vintage Simplicity 3069

Simplicity 3069 #07

What do you get if you cross a vintage pattern from the early 1960s with cool faux leather coated woolen fabric? One totally rock'n'roll dress!

Simplicity 3069 #02

Simplicity 3069 #06

Simplicity 3069 #02

I didn't' actually expect this dress to turn out so sassy, but when I first made it the skirt was ginormously long! So I cut a wide swath off. Then I decided that it needed to be shorter still. So another swath was cut. Then I tried it on again and realised... um, totally showing a bit of leg now, Jorthy girl. But the deed was done, and I felt a bit rebellious in my new short skirt, so that is the length it has stayed. And I LOVE IT!

This was a pretty easy pattern to sew, but I did need to do quite a bit of fitting adjustments. I think I ended up taking the bodice in about 8cm, and to be perfectly honest it could still go in some more, but I like to have a bit of room to move about! I really am digging the belt feature - it makes the dress, and I would definitely consider making another version of this frock but in a lighter coloured fabric, just to do the belt again! It cleverly is joined to the front bodice inside the darts, then fastens upon itself at the back. Very very cool design detail!

Project notes:
Pattern - Vintage Simplicity 3069
Fabric - 1.5m coated wool from The Fabric Store.
Notions - 45cm invisible zipper

Friday, April 26, 2019

Simplicity 2178

There was wind. There was rain. There was one very misbehaving shoulder petal. But fear not - photography conquered all!

Simplicity 2178 #10

I think this was the quickest project photo shoot I've ever done! We managed to scamper back to the car before the heavens properly opened, but it was such fun! Even if most of the outtakes feature me pulling various glaring faces at the shoulder petals as they decided to do their own thing, rather than sit nicely like they usually do on wind-free days. Ah, the things we do for our blogs, eh?

Simplicity 2178 #08

Simplicity 2178 #04

But enough of the photos - what about the dress? This pattern has been in my To Make list since it came out in 2011, but I never found the right fabric for the job. Then, as kismet would have it, I ordered 4m of cotton seersucker from Spotlight for a vintage dress, which I then decided against making. However this fabric practically followed me around the house, hissing at me that I needed to sew it into a fabulous frock and it needed to happen NOW, so I did what every sewist who believes that their fabric can speak to them would do, and paid heed. Simplicity 2178, meet the red seersucker!

Simplicity 2178 #01

I LOVE THIS DRESS! I'm really happy with how it turned out - it's not a pattern that seems to have been sewn up a lot, so I was a bit worried about how it would look once finished, but it came up great for me! It's not a pattern for a newbie sewist - there is a lot of work in it, with the usual Cynthia Rowley sewing additions that seems to make it a more involved project than would appear at first glance, but the end result has been worth the time it took.

The one part I was worried about was putting a zip next to the pocket, but it actually worked out quite well. Having a thin cotton to work with helped - I'm not sure a heavy fabric would turn out so well, and you would probably end up with a bulky zippered/pocketed side seam, so just beware.

The one change I made was not to do the hem facing - this was simply because I didn't fancy doing hand stitching, and figured with the seer sucker the hem wouldn't be super noticeable anyway.

All in all, this pattern was worth the wait. I mean, who can go past a red statement frock? Not I, that's for sure!

Enjoy the pics. Rain was braved for your viewing pleasure!

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 2178 by Cynthia Rowley, view A
Fabric: 3.5m red cotton seersucker from Spotlight
Notions: Interfacing, 35cm invisible zip

Monday, April 15, 2019

Vogue 9100 and vintage Simplicity 3470 mash up

Before we start, I would just like to say that no dresses were harmed, splashed with salt water or got flecked with sand during this shoot.

Vogue 9100 #07

Ok, ok, maybe a little. But gee, wasn't it worth it for the fun and pure child-like delight of splashing about in the ocean in a fancy dress!

Vogue 9100 #06

I say that this dress is a mash up, but what I really did was use the bodice from Vogue 9100, and then run with the concept of the skirt from Simplicity 3470. I wanted an insanely full skirt, so I made the skirt 3 metres wide before gathering, and made the frill 6 metres wide. When I was actually gathering all those miles of fabric together I did wonder if I had taken leave of my senses, especially since gathering fabric of one of my least favourite sewing jobs, but the end result was worth the sore fingers from pulling those gathering threads tighter and tighter. No pain, no gain!

Another change I made was to make the shoulder straps 2cm shorter on each side. I've made Vogue 9100 3 times now (see version one and version two), and the shoulders do tend to slip a little, so by shortening them I bypassed that wear issue.

All in all, I love this dress! It took a lot of work, as the lace was underlined (so each piece was underlined before I began sewing any pieces together), and then the dress itself was fully lined, but I'm glad I put the work in - this is going to be part of my forever wardrobe for sure!

Vogue 9100 #01
Vogue 9100 #04

Vogue 9100 #11

Project Details:
Patterns - Vogue 9100 and vintage Simplicity 3470.
Fabric - Navy blue lace and cotton for both underlining and lining from The Fabric Store.
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper.