Category Archives: Pattern Modification

Selfless Sewing

I'm not sure I can really call this selfless sewing, it was for my own children and they needed to be made or I'd have to buy something, but anywho.

My son was baptised this past Sunday, very overdue, but I'm sure God doesn't mind. With a baptisim comes the baptisimal robe or gown, traditionally long and ornate. That's what his sister had, but as we had waited until the little man was 17 months old, none of the family baptism robes would fit him, and even if they did I'm sure all that length would only mess with his crawling (yes that's right, I said my 17 month old was crawling not walking. Lazy!). I'm trying not to go to the fabric store at the moment (I'm pretty sure I'm just about to break that), I went shopping in my stash first and come up with 80 cm of white satin left over from my wedding dress.

Using this pattern, I drafted slightly larger and longer gown and cut it out. I hemmed all the edges with a rolled hem on my overlocker, but as this fabric frays like nobody's business, they weren't the cleanest edges in the world. I decided to add a bias facing to the neckline to tidy it up, but left the others as is. I used iron on hemming web for the back opening and attached a press stud for a closure.

This wasn't the neatest garment I've made, but as my son only had it on for about 30 minutes and won't it be worn again, it did the job. I'm not partically sentimental that I'm going to keep it from my grandchildren.

The next thing I made was a dress for my daughter. I say made, but I kind of cheated. A while back when I was pulling fabric out looking for something, my little princess saw this vintage fabric (actually a couple of old sheets) and asked for a dress made from it. She then proceded to describe the dress she wanted. “Long sleeves and a pretty foofy skirt”. “Foofy” is a term she uses to describe a full skirt, good for twirling. The long sleeves threw me a bit because I know my daughter, she'll want to wear this dress anyway and everywhere I'll let her get away with, so comfort is a must. In the end, I raided her wardrobe and found a top that was getting too small for her and used that as the bodice. I attached a full circle skirt tot the top in her chosen fabric and let it hang for a few days before I gave it a rolled hem. Do you see a pattern here? That's right, whenever I can be lazy and do a rolled hem, I will.

Forgive the blurry photo, action twirling shoots are notoriously hard to capture. On it's own the dress looked a little plain so I made three fabric flowers from the scraps and glued pins on the back so they can be removed and pinned where ever my daughters little heart desires.



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Filed under Kids Clothes, Pattern Modification, Refashioning, Sewing

Peplum Top

A while back, in my perpetual hunt for a fabric mecca, I journeyed up to a fabric shop in Invanhoe. They claimed to have Melbourne's greatest range of jersey knit fabric, but when I got there I was seriously dissappointed. I was after some great patterned casual knit fabric, but the cupboard was bare and what they did have was rather expensive. As I had made all the effort to drive there (ok, most of the effort was getting my son in and out of the car, but effort is effort) I felt like I should buy something. So, I came home with 1 metre each of a white and cream jersey with no stretch, which promptly went into my stash never to be sewn again (haha yes I meant that pun). Or so I thought, but as I was sewing up my toiles for the Elisalex dress from an old white sheet, I started seeing this top unfold. I barely let my sewing machine have time to miss me between finishing my first Elisalex and making this variation of it.

As I planned to omit the zip I was a little unsure as to how much ease I would need to give myself to be able to get in and out of it easily enough. I cut the centre back piece as 1 whole piece, placing the centre edge of the pattern piece, seam allowance and all on the fold, thinking I would need the extra wriggle room. I didn't, and in the end had to remove all the excess fabric by sewing a seam straight up the middle of the back. So, clearly the fabric had just enough give to leave out the zip without any need to add more ease. I still used the 5/8″ seam allowance and sewed this up using my overlocker. The peplum is a self drafted full circle. I also did change the neckline just a bit. I finished the neck of with binding made from the same fabric, folded the cuffs and just used a straight stitch and used my newly discovered ability to do a rolled hem on the peplum. The hem is a little uneven, as I didn't let it hang at all before I hemmed it, but it's not too bad.

All in all, I love this top and this pattern. I see many more variations in the future.


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Filed under Pattern Modification, Sewing

My Very First Elisalex

And I say very first Elisalex, because it certainly won't be my last. I've read quiet a few bloggers comments on this pattern and, lets just say, it didn't disappoint.

When I first saw this Elisalex dress from Elisalex herself, a little light bulb went off in my head and this dress started designing itself in there. The floral fabric is a vintage sheet I picked up a while back for $1, and used some of for the lining of this coat. The blue fabric is a cotton broad cloth for $7 and matching thread ($3) from Spotlight, the zip was from my stash and the lining was an old white sheet from my cupboard. So, not including the pattern, the total cost of this dress was about $11.

I made two toiles for this dress. Cut size 4/8 but removed 1″ from front and about 2″ from the back and reshaped the bust seams. I took 1.5 cm of shoulder seams, then reshaped the under arm on the two side pieces and also took about 1cm of the middle of the sleeve to adjust for this. I fiddled a bit with the bodice length settling on about and extra 2 cm to compensate for the raising of the shoulder seams. I made my second toile after this and the fit was perfect. I probably could have cut the size 2/6 and eliminated the centre front and back adjustments, but all the other adjustments were to fit my stubby torso. All in all, this was a great pattern to sew up. You'll notice that I didn't make the skirt as called for, I was a little hesistant about the tulip skirt, so I just used a dirndl skirt. Oh, and I added pockets, of course. When you have the power to design your own clothes, why wouldn't you add pockets?

This is also my first attempt at a hand picked zip. It didn't turn out too bad, a little wonky, but not too noticable hopefully. I decided to use the blind hem stitch on my machine for the bottom hem and sleeves, as I thought the small prick stitches echoed those of the hand picked zip.

I actually finished this dress 2 weeks ago, but it has taken this long for all the stars to allign to get it photographed.




Filed under Pattern Modification, Sewing

I Made a Coat

About a year ago I had grand plans to make myself a coat using Simplicity 7113 . I even went so far as to draft up a slightly altered version (making it knee length) and cut it out. Then I lost my nerve and it sat in my to do basket for the year. Chicken!

Then, after Me-Made-May, my realisation I needed more practical sewing and my bout of Sew Depression, I thought I would try making a coat again, but I was no longer feeling my original plan. I had moved on to this coat, in fact one of my very first posts on this blog was about this coat.

I initially disregarded the Simplicity 7113 version and started from scratch, altering the Darling Ranges pattern in an attemt to copy the coat exactly, differing only in colour. After 3 toiles, I just wasn't happy with the fit of the sleeve and the armscye. The Darling Ranges has an odd fit in the sleeve normally, and the more I fiddled with the pattern the less I was happy with the way it was coming together. So, I turned back to Simplicity 7113, made peace with the differences, and got to work.


Shell Fabric – a vintage wool/polyester blend of which I had 6 metres. I'd paid $2 a metre for it at my local Op-Shop, a bargain, no? I also have 6 metres in a dark magenta, jealous much? The labels were still attached, so I Googled the brand. I found this newspaper article from 1968. Their fabrics sold for $5.50/yard at DJ’s in 1968, so I think I got a good deal on this one.

Lining Fabric – two old sheets. The white one was from my linen press and the other one was a thrifted bed sheet that I found a few years ago for $1.

Pattern – I used Simplicity 7113 for the bodice, changing the neckline/lapels slightly. The pattern was too large and I ending up using 1″ seam allowances on all seams. I already had this cut out, so I just cut it off at the waistline mark on the pattern.The skirt was self drafted and the pockets were from the Darling Ranges dress.

Notions – 5 vintage buttons ($3 for 6) and polyester thread, which was the only thing I purchase new. I also used a small amount of self made bias tape left over from this make.

Cost – about $5 for the shell fabric, about 20c for the lining, $3 for buttons and $3 for the thread. Total cost $11.20.

Overall, I fairly happy with the way this coat turned out. It is in no way perfect and has many faults, but I'm pretty proud that I managed to make a coat. One sleeve is perfection, the other is the exact opposite. That little devil cost me days of extra time. I don't even want to count how many times I unpicked and sewed that sleeve in place to try and fix the slight twist that it had. Ggrhh! It still has the problem, but I think it is less noticable now than it was before and I have no idea why or how to fix it. Something to figure out for next time perhaps.



Filed under Pattern Modification, Sewing, Thrifting

Turquoise Darling Ranges

I thought it was time for another attempt at the Darling Ranges dress after all the lessons I have learnt in the last few weeks. I'm sure you're sick of this pattern by now, but it was one of my sewing New Years resolutions to make many versions of the Darling Ranges to learn how to utilitise a pattern to its fullest. I'm also using this pattern to learn about improving the fit of a garment. After realising, from trying to make the chambray shirt, that I needed to increase the seam allowance on the shoulder seam to 3 cm to fit the sleeve in the XS size I decided to pin the shoulders on my wearable toile to see how everything looked. The first thing I noticed was that this brought the bust dart up to where I needed it to be, and it also raised the waistline to almost the correct place.

This meant that the last few adjustments I made to the pattern were unnecessary, hurrumph! So, I thought I would go back to the original pattern, trace off another copy and add the appropriate adjustments to minimise any errors I had introduced in all the adjustments I had made to date. The changes I made this time were; add 4 cm to the length of the bodice pieces, removed 1.5 cm from the shoulders on both the back and front bodice, raised the neckline by 2 cm, increased the length of the bust dart by 2.5 cm, included darts on the back bodice to reduce ease, and remove 2 cm from the center of the back bodice piece. I also increased the length of the sleeves. In the picture below, the red lines are the original pattern lines and the purple lines are the modifications.

The fabric I used was some turquoise polyester from my stash. The fabric wasn't the nicest I have, but I didn't want to use a good fabric when I was still working on perfecting the fit. I bought some semi opaque white buttons from the op shop. I didn't have any thread the right colour, so I figured if you can't match clash! I used a dark magenta thread I had to sew all visible stitching and a pale blue for everything else.


All in all, the fit is close but I'm still not 100% with the sleeves. I realise once I started putting the bodice together that I forgot to narrow the neck opening, so it is little wide for my taste. I think I might try something else next, as I don't want to waste too much time and energy fitting a bust that changes on a daily basis, thanks to breastfeeding.

Final tally: Fabric – $1.50 (from op-shop); Buttons – $1.15 (from op-shop); thread, bias binding and hemming web ~ $1 (from stash). So for $3.65 I have another dress to wear, however, I only wore it here for the few minutes it took to take the photo as 100% polyester and 34 degree weather aren't really friends, so this dress will have to wait for cooler temps.


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Filed under Pattern Modification, Sewing