1 pattern, 3 dresses, and 3 worlds (1 year late, pt. 3)

we’re in summer 2021 (play along with me, people, i told you i’m a year late!). ’tis the time when the weather gets really hot and all i want to do is stay home… and sew!

now that i got my sewing mojo back after sewing the Kaksoset shirt, it was time to sew some new fabrics… as well as an old one.

a co-worker of mine brought into my attention this super easy summer dress style that everyone–and i mean everyone–can sew without any pattern. so i suppose i lied on the title of this post, because: there is no pattern needed!

self-made dress.

the idea of this dress is just the same as a million other easy sewing projects i had had before: box shape. this is how i made mine:

the first version i made was the Donald Duck dress. the fabric is viscose, and i think i got a bit more than 150 cm, probably 170 cm, so i got both sleeves and pocket pieces from the length of the fabric. the top part, as usual, is just made of box shape parts. the bottom AKA skirt parts are rectangular, and i gathered the top edge of those pieces.

this was the very first time i made this kind of pocket, where–instead of 2 inner pieces–it uses only 1 inner pocket piece. you sew that piece to the inner side of the skirt’s front piece, and then sew both layers and back piece together on the side seam. since this was my first time, you could see all the mistakes there as i made the pocket hole way too big and had to sew parts of it close after i tried on the finished garment!

the sleeves were always a joy for me to make, as i got to decide what kind of gathering or pleats i wanted to make. this time, i decided to fold it so that the inner side also have the right side, and just pleated away as symmetrically as i could.

with this dress, since we were all still very much locked down, i imagined that i visited Hawaii (remember Donald Duck in Hawaii, together with Mickey Mouse and Goofy? yeah, that’s the one i meant!).

self-made dress.

the next dress made me dream of going to Bali. not because this batik a Balinese batik (it’s not), but because i bought this fabric in Bali in 2015. Indonesian batik like these are usually sold per piece with borders on both edges, and the size is usually about 110-120 cm wide & 200 cm long. this one in particular is stamp printed onto a cotton fabric, and was just enough for me to make into a boxy summer dress…

… with the same kind of pockets as the previous one!

i even managed to use the border in all the right places too! one for the center back and then on both pockets’ mouths.

immediately after i finished sewing this one, i was sooooo sorry that i didn’t get more of these batik fabrics while i was in Indonesia that time. sigh. it’s such a beautiful fabric and super easy to sew.

in order to ease the pain of not being able to travel, also because i turned 40 last year, i got myself a present.

it turned out to be just perfect for the next dress. 😊

self-made dress, Marimekko purse.

this was the third and last summer dress i made in 2021, and it has since become my most fave summer dress of all time!

for this last model, i broke the skirt part into 2 tiers instead, and the first tier was made of 2 pieces of 100 wide rectangles, while the bottom tier was made of 2 pieces of 150 wide rectangles. i have also managed to finally perfect the pockets (well, knowing me, nothing is ever THAT perfect though), and look at the hand-pleated sleeves!!! ❤ i’m so proud of myself.

this lovely fabric is from Nerida Hansen, part of a collection made by Holli Zollinger called ‘Bazaar’. this specific print is called Gator Cosmic. as always, please Google it up to see the full print and fall in love with it!

one of the biggest reasons why i fell so hard for this fabric, other than the fact that pink alligators are just so cool, is because last year i came across this lovely book called Cayman Island, written by Jennifer Brasington-Crowley. i love everything about the book, the characters, and most of all, the book cover, which the author drew herself!

so when i saw this fabric, i knew it was meant to be mine! i call this dress my Cayman Island dress. 🥰

with this last dress, my mind of course went straight to Australia (where the fabric brand comes from) and my heart went all the way to Cayman Island, the book.

and that, people, was how i got to 3 worlds with 3 dresses and 1 non-pattern pattern.

well, what do you know? we’ve gotten to the first half of 2021 already! there’s not much sewing projects left in 2021, hopefully i’d be able to post something more up-to-date after that. thank you for bearing with me! 😋

don’t be mellow, be yellow

who can stay mellow when they wear yellow? at least i can’t and won’t.

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self-made dress & pink necklace, yellow necklace from India, Indiska bracelet, Just Kulkith shoes, batik bag from Indonesia.

so the test i did by making this top was all meant for this dress. i used pattern no. 133 from BurdaStyle magazine 06/2015, which is basically the same pattern as the one i used for the top (132) plus the dress pattern. they’re all in kids size, so i just used the biggest, which is for 158 cm tall girls.

picture borrowed from BurdaStyle.com

i got this fabric/sarong the last time i went to Bali, Indonesia… that was, uh, 2010. it was one of those cheap & beautiful sarongs sold on the street markets, about 115 cm x 160 cm in size, which are meant to be used as bikini covers, beach mats, dresses… whatever you please, actually. it’s 100% rayon, and usually the print is handmade using batik technique, hence the uneven colourings & patterns. but those are exactly the reason i love it: imperfection makes us human. 🙂

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i don’t really remember why i even bought this sarong in the first place, i think it was because i ran out of clean clothes. 😀 this was a quick fix as i could wrap it around me and put a belt, and that’s it. or maybe it was because my mum-in-law wanted to buy some, too, and the vendor said that if we bought plenty, she would give us good discount. haha! well, whatever the reason was, i already planned to sew it into something else than a sarong one day. the day never came until now!

this kind of double layered dress has been kind of a trend this summer, as i saw the displays of H&M, Gina Tricot, Mango, Cubus, and the likes. and of course i had been examining those dresses to know how it’s made. luckily for me, the BurdaStyle mag had the pattern so i didn’t need to draft my own!

due to the small-ish size of my fabric, i had to modify the “under” dress pieces into a lot more narrow shape than the original one. but actually i think it’s a good move, because i saw that somebody else did it as it was supposed to be, and it turned out to be so wide that she had to put elastic band on the waist.

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i again added sleeves instead of just using shoulder straps, and this time i think i succeeded into making the sleeves to look more like what i had envisioned. it took me a while to figure out how to attach them to the dress, but once i had, pffftt… that was easy! 😀

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wearing this dress puts a smile on my face. maybe it’s because i got reminded of my trip to Indonesia. maybe it’s because the fabric was made in Indonesia. or maybe, just because it’s yellow.

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so let’s not be mellow. bid farewell to August, and say hello to September!

my 2014 in sewing

this year, finally, i managed to reach my goal to sew 18 clothes (that’s 1,5 sewing project every month). for a full-time worker and a slow seamstress like me, i consider it to be quite an achievement! 🙂

i learned to get over a few things i don’t generally like in clothings (plaids, denims), learned how to alter a pattern, learned to sew some new materials (scuba, denim), learned how to topstitch (the hard way), and how to apply denim buttons. yep, it’s definitely been a year full of new things in sewing for me!

number 18 is the latest and the last one for this year. the pattern i used is number 112 from the October 2013 edition of Burda Style magazine.

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image borrowed from BurdaStyle.com.

i found this printed viscose jersey fabric about 2,5 years ago. i fell in love with it because the print reminded me so much of Indonesian batik. real Indonesian batiks in jerseys are really hard to get (i don’t think it’s even technically possible to wax a jersey fabric? but who knows), so when i found this one i just knew i needed to get it.

i’ve been wanting to try this pattern as well, but never dared to because my fellow seamstresses have been saying that the skirt part of this pattern is so huge, even when they used their normal size. i was afraid i would encounter the same problem and can’t fix it. :p but anyway, after seeing these seamstresses’ reviews one after another (and their gorgeous results), i finally decided to just do it. and i’m glad i did it in 2 sizes smaller than my normal size!

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self-made origami dress, H&M tights, Crocs ballerinas, Moody Monday earrings (worn as necklace), Perlini’s Silver necklace, MercuryDuo bag.

i think of myself as a lazy person, including in sewing. i never make prototypes/muslins when i try out new patterns, to check (before sewing the actual fabric) if the pattern works for me or not. instead, i would just measure the flat pattern pieces to know if it would fit me or not. so that was what i did with this one. luckily for me, it turned out perfectly well.

the hardest thing to do when you work with a print fabric is to place the patterns, so that when you wear the end result, you don’t end up with embarrassing prints in embarrassing places, if you know what i mean. anyway, doing that with non-stretch fabric is hard enough for me, so when i had to do it with this super thin & stretchy fabric… i nearly tore my hair out. it took me one whole day just to cut the fabrics. (told you i’m slow!) the fact that my pattern paper ran out just when i was copying the pattern also forced me to think of an alternate solution (= using baking paper! had to attach one to another, since they’re so small. and they’re oily, of course). the end result could’ve been better, but nevertheless, i’m quite satisfied!

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yeah, so, the pleat at the front waist didn’t quite match the tuck under the left breast as it was supposed to be, but what-EVER. i made the sleeves and hemline shorter than in the original pattern, and the neckline about 7 cm higher. as always, i want to be able to wear this to work! another thing i omitted was the zipper. this fabric is so stretchy that i don’t even need one.

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at first, i didn’t even plan on using 2 different fabrics. but when i remembered the tie-dye fabric i used for this top, i thought combining it with this fabric would make the dress look a bit more fun (and less busy, with all the print). when i first asked my husband what he thought of it (before cutting the other fabric for the sleeves), he didn’t think it was a good idea. but when it was done and i showed it to him, he said he likes it like that after all. now that i think of it, perhaps he was just trying to please me. oh well.

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one small thing that “bothers” me is the tightness of my stitches at the center back seam. in this picture, you can see how the hem at the back pouted upwards because of it. ugh. 8 years of sewing and i still can’t set the perfect tightness of the stitches.origamibatik2

but i guess if i keep moving while i wear this dress, no one will notice, right??origamibatik3and i’ll just put a smile on my face whenever i wear this dress. remembering the trouble i had to get through and seeing the lovely result certainly helps!

thank you, year 2014! you will stay as an unforgettable year in my sewing journey. ❤

PS. merry Christmas and, in case i won’t be able to write another post before the new year, happy new year to all of you!

dummies, elephants, and Africa

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self-made blouse & bow tie, Gina Tricot skirt, Just Kulkith batik shoes, Swatch watch, unbranded glasses.

one of my previous co-workers brought me this fabric as a souvenir from California some years ago. the design is by Fabrice de Villeneuve for Robert Kaufman, called “Dress Up”. it has little images of dummies (or mannequins) with all kinds of different dresses, and my ex co-worker said that she immediately thought of me when she saw this fabric. that was so sweet of her! 🙂

for years i’ve been saving it for something special, and now finally i found just the perfect pattern for it.

burda7255it’s one of BurdaStyle’s vintage collection, pattern no. 7255. the size starts at 38, so i downsized it as i usually use size 36 for all my previous BurdaStyle patterns… and let me save you from all the trouble of doing it by yourself, because it turns out that the result was a bit too tight. i guess the pattern also has vintage sizes or something, and 38 then is the equivalent of 36 now. d’oh!

but anyway, it ‘s still wearable (it wouldn’t be me if i just declare it a failure!). all i needed to do was put more buttons than the original version, because otherwise i would be stripping even with the slightest movements. :p

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the special detail about this pattern is the back side, where there’s a small …er… flap (?) in the middle. anyway, i suppose back in the old days they used net-like fabrics, to add some sort of ventilation to the shirt. pretty handy in the summer. 😀 and this is perfect for me, because the fabric i got was actually not big enough for me to make this shirt… so using the old trick, i combined it with another fabric, just for that flap thing in the middle of the back side.

dummyelephantdetail1that’s where the elephants came in. 🙂

this elephant fabric is an Indonesian batik fabric, and i think the colours are just perfect to be combined with the Robert Kaufman fabric, don’t you? and since i already put the elephants there, i thought, what’s the harm in putting them also on the bow tie?

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the other project i’ve just finished also uses old fabrics (yay for sticking to my 2014 resolution!). just like the rest of my poor old fabrics, they had been waiting in my closet for far too long just for that perfect pattern… or actually, in this case, for an idea to come up in my head. because not only did i use old fabrics, i also used an old pattern. by old, i mean, only 2 years old. 😉

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picture borrowed from BurdaStyle magazine.

it’s pattern no. 106B from BurdaStyle magazine, May 2012 issue. when i first saw this pattern, all i saw was that it needs over 2 meters of fabrics and i thought, well, i don’t have any fabric that is that long. only now did it occur to me that i could actually combine 2 fabrics for it. so that’s what i did.

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H&M t-shirt, self made skirt, Spirit sandals, jersey fabric worn as headband, necklaces from Legian -Bali, earrings from ITC Permata Hijau – Jakarta.

those brilliant-looking fabrics i used for the skirt are called African wax cotton fabrics. it’s basically cotton, but the colouring technique uses wax (kind of like batik) so that the end result is a bit stiffer than normal cotton.

the first time i saw these lovely fabrics, i was screaming joyfully inside. i had always wished Indonesian batik fabrics could use neon colours like these, so when i saw these it was like i found a distant cousin of Indonesian batik. it made me happy too, because i was so fed up with the kind of impression that “African look” = safari look. i mean, yeah sure, if you, as a tourist, go to Kenya or something, then you would probably want to go on a safari and wear those jumpsuits, but i mean, come on… there’s much much more to Africa/African look than those boring khaki jumpsuits (that are not even originally African). now THIS is what i think of when i think of African look. ❤

anyway, enough ranting. so, i ended up using 2 separate fabrics for this skirt, which thankfully have the same colour palettes. i made it using the size 36, which is one size smaller than usual for bottoms, because i usually feel too much looseness in the waist when i use size 38. since this skirt has very wide hemline, i thought i’d be okay with 36. but yeah, i was wrong yet again. the skirt ended up a bit too small even on the waist area, which resulted in a small alteration on the front part. and this is why i couldn’t make the graphics on the center front of the skirt align with one another. thank God i don’t have OCD.

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all i need now is warmer weather (it did actually get very warm here for a while, +20C and even more… but for the past week it’s been cold again, snick!). well, hopefully these colour therapies would help summon more sunlight & warmth!

now for a small bonus, i’m gonna put on a Julia Fordham song about South Africa, called Happy Ever After. i just LOVE this song, and it’s been playing in my head ever since i started sewing this skirt. it’s time now to pass on the catchy-ness. 😀

PS. i do not own the video, the song, nor the lyrics. i just borrowed them for personal use.

Matthew Williamson does Indonesian batik

okay, not really, but almost, considering this is his pattern i’m using as my newest sewing project.

i’ve had this batik fabric for almost 2 years now, not really knowing what to make from it. if you’ve read this (it’s written in Bahasa Indonesia though), you would know that i’m not really a batik person. i appreciate it, of course, but for some reason i don’t have that big of a passion for batik fabrics as i do for other print fabrics. but i try to. i can love the kind of batik that has cute colours and if it’s made into a more modern design, be it a piece of clothing, bag, or shoes. so i look for those. and found quite a few that i could really fall in love with. like this Lonkka dress (last pic on that post). my Kulkith & Up batik shoes (too lazy to link them up here, search for them on my blog’s search field, and you’ll find them :D). suddenly i saw the possibility of myself wearing batik, and finally took the courage to buy a piece of batik fabric (they’re usually sold in ready panels, around 120 cm wide and 200 cm long) so i could sew something nice out of it myself.

and then after 2 years, i finally decided to make it into this dress.

picture borrowed from Burdastyle.com

as i said before, the pattern of the dress is designed by Matthew Williamson, one of my most fave designers. it was from the September 2012 issue of Burda Style magazine, pattern no. 134. for a clearer picture of the dress, here’s the technical drawing.

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picture borrowed from Burdastyle.com

i thought to use the edges of the batik fabric (which usually has a completely different pattern than the rest of the fabric itself) for the side panels, so that there would be a bit of a twist in it. and i also shortened the hem and did a higher back side because unfortunately my back isn’t really that smooth after i got the chickenpox 3 years ago. :p instead of doing the dress with a lining and facing for the neckline & armholes, i finished it with bias tape. (one word: LAZY. i’m a lazy seamstress. you should know it by now.)

so yeah, everything was perfect in my mind. it seemed like a great idea at the time when i was sewing it. but when i finished sewing it and tried it on…

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self-made batik dress, second-hand blazer from Pasar Senen – Jakarta (shown on the other pictures) & Other Stories straw hat, Swatch watch, Spirit sandals.

…hmm… my newly developed love for batik was suddenly a bit crushed. to be honest, i feel like i’m wearing my grandmum’s old batik house dress (aka daster in Indonesian). please, PLEASE, tell me if you DON’T think so? was it a mistake that i made my batik fabric into something as “simple” as this?

batikdetail1this is what i meant by using the edge of the batik fabric as the side panels… apparently it’s not too contrasting to the dress itself, so it doesn’t have that much of a “twist” effect as i expected….

batikdetail2i used the selvage as the hem of the dress (again, lazy), so i didn’t even need to sew the hem at all. this came out quite nice, at least.

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from the back i guess it won’t really look like my grandmum’s old house dress, thanks to the metallic zipper (which was a blast to sew! it was the easiest zipper i’ve sewn, ever!).

well, what’s done is done. i can’t undo this dress anymore, and at least it’s comfortable for me to wear in the summer. speaking of which, did you notice that this photo shoot was done OUTDOOR? and i wasn’t wearing any tights/stockings at all?? and i only had my SANDALS on?? yes, ladies and gentlemen, summer is finally here in Finland!!

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if anyone tells me i look like a granny in her old batik house dress, i guess i could always say, “really? this is actually Matthew Williamson’s design.” it wouldn’t really be a lie, afterall. 😉