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INSPIRATION: DOLCE & GABBANA S/S16

When deciding on fabric to make my own clothes, ex-designer deadstock fabric is usually high on my list. Deadstock fabrics are leftover from fashion designer’s collections and they either end up in landfill or sat in warehouses waiting to go to waste — not good. Ex-designer deadstock fabric is then not only a sustainable choice, but also a choice that means you can make your own clothes out of amazing quality fabrics!

I was an incredibly lucky lass and was gifted some beautiful ex-D&G cotton for my birthday from my best friend. It’s a punchy, true red with a hand-painted design of lemons, and the details of this fabric are just stunning:

(What can I say? I’m a sucker for lemon-print fabric!)

This gorgeous fabric is from the D&G Spring/Summer 16 collection of #Italiaislove. This collection drew its inspiration from 1950s southern Italy, and the sheer exuberant joy is palpable from the colours, textures and shapes of these clothes! It should come as no surprise that this is one of my all-time favourite fashion collections.

This fashion collection has really inspired me to make something just as joyful with my fabric! I’m currently leaning towards a wrap skirt with a flounce or a tie-front summer dress — decisions, decisions…
At the moment, I’m thinking either modifying View A of McCall’s 7950 to remove the button-front and insert an invisible zipper at the back, or shortening the length of View C of McCall’s 7606 marginally and extending the ruffle.


While I do really love this sundress pattern for summer, Emily’s version of the McCall’s skirt is simply divine and may skew my vote!

What do you think — summer dress or ruffle skirt? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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I WANNA BE ADORED: NEW LOOK 6560

Lately, I have been itching to get sewing a selection of summer tops – I am daydreaming about lightweight cottons and linens in fresh colours, and blouse patterns that are flowy and keep me cool when it starts getting warmer.

I picked up this lightweight cotton from Lamazi Fabrics (sold out, but still available in gold and navy). I adore the embroidered hearts on this fabric – it is such a pretty motif and speaks volumes about my romantic sensibilities! The stripes did mean I had to be careful with pattern matching at the seams, which did take a little time to do.
I made New Look 6560, which is a wrap top with an optional front ruffle and three sleeve options. I went for View C, which is the basic view with ‘grown on sleeves’ and a sash belt. It is a pretty good pattern for beginners: there are neckline facings and small gathering sections, but nothing too tricky. I also really like how the sleeve bands are cut diagonally on the grain – it is an interesting detail.

In terms of adjustments, I didn’t make any to the pattern; I cut the size smaller than I usually take and didn’t make a muslin beforehand (risky behaviour!). As the fabric is so light, I finished all my seams as French seams – this encloses all the raw edges of the fabric and looks much neater on the inside of your garments. I swear by all the tutorials by Tilly and the Buttons and the French seams tutorial helped me out big time.

The only other adjustment I made was when cutting the sash – the pattern layout suggested cutting out vertical to the grain, but as the embroidered hearts have a horizontal repeat, I thought it would look too jarring to have them running in the opposite direction! Luckily, I had more than enough fabric to cut the four sash pieces horizontally.

I am pretty happy with how this top turned out, but if I make it again, I would probably lengthen by a couple of inches. I like how it looks with highwaisted jeans, but I think it would look a bit awkward on regular rise trousers.

Now if anyone needs me, I am in the garden drinking a big glass of Pimms! Roll on summer…

STEP INTO MY OFFICE, BABY: SIMPLICITY 8061

At my workplace, we aren’t expected to turn up in full business formal wear everyday — thank goodness! While I could never be one to wear a white button-up and suit each day, I do think it is important for my work wardrobe to look professional (yet to also let my personality peep through!).
For this, I tend to favour shell tops in natural fibres that can drape well; this simple style of top can be easily tucked into skirts without looking too bulky, or can be worn with smart chinos and heels. You can then play with cheerful colours or prints and still look polished, so finding a suitable shell top pattern for my handmade wardrobe has been crucial to me.
Enter: Simplicity 8061.

This pattern is just great for beginners; I like that there are four different options for the neckline and there aren’t huge amount of separate pattern pieces (for View A, it was only five pieces, which meant I could be super speedy at cutting everything out). The neckline is also faced, which is another neat touch. In terms of adjustments, I made my usual FBA (I recommend checking out this tutorial) and I also stitched in the ditch at both the shoulder seams; this was not part of the instructions, but I feel it helps to secure the neckline facing.

The fabric is a gorgeous ex-designer viscose from Fabric Godmother (sadly now sold out) that my sister got for my birthday. The deep burgundy shade will be great for autumn and winter, but the print really sells it – anglepoise lamps is certainly a bit different! This was also the first time I have sewn with viscose, so it took a little while to get the correct tension and stitch length.

I just love the anglepoise lamps!

Simplicity 8061 is quick to sew and great for beginners. I would recommend this pattern for lightweight fabrics, such as this viscose, as well as cotton blends; I made a version in February with cotton sateen. I am sure I will be making another version soon – perhaps with a v-neck, or maybe sleeveless…?

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS: MCCALL’S 6696

One of my biggest weaknesses in fashion is fun, patterned dresses; from the fairly standard, like floral prints or geometric shapes, to the more unusual, like cacti patterns or embroidered matchsticks, I will immediately gravitate towards these items. Wearing dresses makes me happy – and wearing a dress with bluebirds printed on? Consider me doubly happy!

Now that I’m moving away from buying unsustainable fast fashion and focusing on sewing my own wardrobe, I’m keen to make stuff that continues to make me feel happy when I wear it. Judging by my ever-growing stash of fabric, quirky prints will remain a style staple for me!

It’s no surprise then when I fell in love hard with this zesty lemon print fabric. It’s a cotton sateen with the teeniest bit of stretch, so it works well with items that require a bit of structure. I picked up 2.5 metres from Fabrics Galore and immediately knew what I wanted to make with it.

McCall’s 6696 is a versatile shirt dress and is such a well-loved pattern in the sewing community – for many good reasons! It’s flattering, relatively easy to sew, POCKETS, and there are some really gorgeous details – there’s a proper collar with collar band, plus the back yoke and the waistband are both lined, which really adds a special touch to your finished dress.

I first made a version of M6696 way back in 2017, so I knew there were a couple of adjustments that I wanted to make to the pattern. Firstly, the back piece has gathering both at the top where it joins the yoke and at the bottom where it joins the waistband; this adds a certain amount of voluminosity, and I really wanted a more streamlined look. I removed the gathering allowance from the pattern and then made a muslin to make sure everything fitted together after the adjustment. I also ignored the recommendations on where to place the buttons, as I knew I wanted one to sit directly in the centre of the waistband and went from there.

Much more streamlined without the pesky back gathers!

As for making the dress, the instructions are fairly straight-forward and clear. The pleats on the skirt do take quite a bit of time however! Like many other sewists of this pattern, I followed these instructions on the collar assembly instead and would highly recommend them.

I couldn’t be happier with how this shirt dress turned out and can’t wait to wear it throughout spring! I have a feeling this will be one of many shirt dresses…

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