The Feathery Blouse

Hi!

If you follow my IG account, you have probably seen a glimpse of this already:

It´s a simple blouse, the pattern is from Burdastyle 11/2013, model 103.

As you can see, it is pretty straightforward, no careful fitting or special techniques required. The cuffs could be a bit wider because as they are now, I have to unbutton them every time I want to put on or take off the blouse. But of course being so narrow they create a beautiful bell shaped sleeve.

The sleeves actually have a dart on top of the shoulder and it is not obvious from the technical drawing. The construction is also interesting and simple at the same time because initially you only have to sew a part of the sleeve attachment seam and then close it with one continuous seam on top of the shoulder together with the shoulder seam.

Recently I am very much into this wine or bordeaux shade as the feather print of this fabric. It is polyester and I wish it was rather a mix of some natural fibre because of static electricity but still, could not not buy it when I saw it. I have a beautiful plain fabric in the same colour and I will make a pencil skirt to go with this top.

Speaking of pencil skirts, my husband made a comment when I was halfway done with the blouse and wasn´t sure if this wider cut and bell sleeves are really me. He said that “not everything has to be almost skin tight” 😀 He is right but for some reason I do feel kind of clumsy in wide clothes, especially wide sleeves and maybe this is also the reason why I am not really a fan of floor length dresses either. But pencil skirts… I have thought many times that one day, one day!… I will get an office job just to be able to really dress the way I like. Because I really do like pencil skirts 😀

Anyway, some close ups here as well:

I wear glasses for reading, driving and of course, sewing but normally not through the whole day. But for these photos I wore them for two reasons – they are new and they are the same bordeaux colour! I admit – my phone cover is in this shade as well! And did you notice the shoes? 😀

I used to wear high heels quite often when I lived in Athens because the lifestyle of a Southern European city was very different from my lifestyle now. Plus, in Estonia we normally don´t wear shoes indoors, so to be honest I don´t think I will ever wear the top as you see it with the red heels here. Once I make the skirt, yes, to a concert or a date night but with pants I guess it is going to look more like that in real life:

But those red shoes have leather soles and I just remembered a funny story related to them. We once went to a winetasting date with my then boyfriend (I actually think it was Beaujolais Nouveau Day in November) and totally forgot to think how are we going to get back home after all this tasting and drinking since we drove there but the celebration was in the middle of the week and yes, in this small town in the middle of a winter week you actually can´t get a taxi! And I was wearing my 10 cm heels with leather soles and it was half raining/half snowing outside….. So what did he do? He carried me on his shoulders all the way home, taking several breaks on the way. We had crazy fun and I guess even just this would have been enough to marry him, right?

The Swing Set

The month of December has literally rushed by and although I managed to finish a set of a skirt and top plus a dress, there hasn´t been enough time and daylight to take any decent photos of the projects.

I will show the first items first and it may easily happen that the dress will be revealed in January as I made it for a wedding and I would love to be able to post “official” photos, too.

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There are actually three items here – the skirt is given extra fluffiness with a petticoat underneath. Initially I wanted to make a one-piece dress, but I figured that the skirt part would weigh down the bodice and make the dress hang on me, so I went with two separate pieces.

The patterns I used were  Burda 4/2007 model 104 for the skirt, instructions from Burda Easy Fashion S/S 2009 for the petticoat and part of Very Easy Vogue V8992 for the top:

The fabric for the skirt is from the holiday trip to Greece and Athens in September and although I was worried about how it would behave while sewing, it was actually very easy. The skirt is not hemmed which was one of my concerns in the beginning as I was not sure how to finish it, but since surprisingly the fabric frays acceptably little so I didn´t need to finish it at all.

Since the tulle is too sheer despite the application, I needed to add a layer of lining underneath. In addition, there is the petticoat, so all the layers of the skirt make up a nice contrast of textures:

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The skirt swings  and twirls perfectly while dancing, but it gets quite warm due to the layering.

I wanted to achieve a sharp contrast between the soft powder shade of the feminine tulle skirt and the black somewhat masculine double breasted top with  lapels. I think the fabric I used from my stash was not the best choice for the top as it is quite heavy and drapey, so instead of a suit-like stiff look, it is softly draping on me and the weight of the fabric draws the whole top downwards. Possibly if I had cut a size zmaller instead of 38, there wouldn´t be an issue, because both the main fabric and the lining have stretch, therefore probably the top would have a better fit and less chance for draping.dscn0053

It is a pity, because the Vogue pattern, albeit looking simple, required quite some work (it is fully lined) and I like the result in terms of how good it looks on the inside as well as outside. I even considered getting some stiffer suiting fabric and remaking the top but knowing myself as I find it very boring to repeat the same pattern, it will probably not happen.

I changed to original dress pattern by chopping off the skirt part and simply hand-stitched the overlapping fronts both on inside and outside while joining all the layers together at the bottom with bias tape. In order to get the garment on and off, I added an invisible zipper to the left side seam.

Here are some close-ups as well:

Here you can see the waistband of the skirt, made of the same fabric as the top, and the petticoat:

I made the fabric part of the petticoat longer than suggested in the instructions, because the heavier tulle is quite scratchy and also because I did not want the puffiness to start too high up. In order to minimize the scratchiness, I used bias tape to finish the allowance at the joining seam.

I wore this set for the university ball in the beginning of the month and also for the annual Christmas party at work.

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Just to clarify, the above photos with the matching rose furniture are not taken at our new house, which is currently getting worse and worse as we tear down wallpaper, break through walls and crush old floors.

However, I can show a glimpse of my current sewing space which is historical in the sense that I finally have a sewing table, which is not used for anything else! Right now it is just a corner in the current bedroom, but the plan is to add a higher cutting table and shelves once we move on with the works.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and loved ones!

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Baby Blue Stripe Dress in Berlin

Hello!

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year is rich in travels and the trip of July took me to the German capital, Berlin.

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I have visited Berlin twice before, the last time being 15 years ago and the first when I was only seven years old. I still remember the wall that had been pulled down two years prior, but remnants of which were visible everywhere. Today 1300 meters of it is still erect and preserved.

The trip was a short getaway with my 18-year old brother, and I think we both had fun. He helped me to take the photos of my latest project as well:

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It is model 107 from BurdaStyle 1/2014:

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I made quite a few changes to the original construction. Firstly, because my main fabric is a see-through crochet lace, bought from Vienna last year, I doubled the bodice with beige stretch lining and that saved me from the facing you can see in the tech drawing.

I also turned the the two pleats on the back of the bodice into darts, because otherwise the fit was too loose.

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Thirdly, my version is about 15 cm shorter than the original pattern. I just felt that the gathered skirt looked so much better shorter. Longer, below the knee length looks best when the skirt is more fitted, in my opinion.

As you may have noticed, there is a back center seam on my version. This is due to the limited amount of fabric I had. I guess I could have managed to squeeze even the sleeves out, but I deliberately used a different fabric there.

The dress is very airy and nice to wear in summer, I also haven´t experienced any excessive gaping of the front wrap detail, which I thought might be a problem.

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Some dressform photos here as well:

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Berlin surprised me with two things: firstly, the weather was so moody, it could turn from perfect sunshine to heavy rain within just a few minutes and then back again. Secondly, although Germans are known for their punctuality and precision, trusting the direction signs in order to find the Kulturforum complex, took us to a detour of a good 45 minutes, while the thing itself was a ten minute walk from the metro station we started at.

We visited the fabulous Mario Testino In Your Face photo exhibition and also a great exhibition about impressionist and expressionist painting, Im Ex. Of course we didn´t miss the famous Pergamon Museum, although unfortunately the biggest exhibit, the Pergamon Altar, was sealed for repair and maintenance works.

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When visiting a place, I always try to imagine living there and the feeling I get when I imagine myself being a local, pretty much defines whether I like the place or not. I liked Berlin. We happened to stay in an area loaded with small shops and cosy eateries, packed with locals and took long late-night walks accompanied by the best ice-cream I have had in a while, so it was easy to like this city!

Of course, I always look up some fabric shops. Remembering the trip to Düsseldorf in autumn, when I saw the Karstad shopping mall, I knew that the 4th or 5th floor would also have a selection of fashion fabrics and I was correct. I was lucky, because they had sales going on and I got two fabrics I have been thinking to buy from Estonia, at less than half the price!

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The other shop I visited was a rather small one named Knopfloch in the vicinity of Alexanderplatz, where I got some sewing machine needles. They mainly had jersey and various cotton print fabrics, but nothing that I could no resist.

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A short distance from our hotel, there was also a tiny shop named Frau Tulpe, which opens at 11 on Saturdays so I got there too early and didn´t return later due to lack of time and the fact that it looked more like a craft shop, offering mostly colourful cottons.

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And finally, there is the Turkish market at Maybachufer, which among other goods offers fabrics and trims and notions and as I heard from one local, has the best selection of that on Saturdays.

The prices are really cheap, most of the fabrics I saw were sold at 3 euros per meter, but the selection mostly consisted of cottons, cheap jerseys and some novelty fabrics. I got a nice cotton fabric that looks almost like lightweight denim or linen and some cotton bias tape that sold at 50 cents/m for plain colours and 1 euro/meter for patterned ones.

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As an experience, the Turkish market is really nice, you can also try various foods and I am sure everyone will find something to buy as well.

Golden Linen Dress in Valencia

This year as it happens, I am travelling abroad every month from March to August, sometimes for work and sometimes for holidays, meaning interesting fabric shopping opportunities but less time for the actual sewing!

I spent a few days in Valencia, Spain last week for another conference and as a lucky coincidence, one of my best friends also currently lives there so I got to see her and her sweet family as well! The only downside was that between the busy conference days and social meetings, I basically did not have time to see the city itself. However, I managed to squeeze in a super fast photo shoot on one of the days just before the first conference session of the day and one fabric shop in the last afternoon.

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The dress is a mix of two patterns, Burda 2/2009 models 105 and 106. I made the dress based mostly on model 105 (below left), but used the chest pockets from model 106 (below right), as they seemed more fun. I omitted the front skirt pockets, as the were drafted into the front panel seams, a rather uncomfortable spot for actually making use of the pockets. I also skipped the tabs for the belt, since I prefer to wear the dress without one.

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I cut size 38 for the bodice and 40-something for the hips. As it happened, I totally forgot to do it the first time around and the skirt turned out to be too tight, so I was really lucky to have some extra fabric for new pieces.

Otherwise the dress went well together, especially the sleeves, I got them at the first attempt! However, now looking at the photos, I am not entirely happy with the fit. I would say the bodice could be slightly narrower at the back, but somehow I notice these errors only after completely finishing the garment.

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The material is linen mixed with golden metallic thread, bought from Amsterdam, however due to the lighting conditions, it is not so obvious in the photos and the fabric looks a bit dull. The dress is very comfy, though, and I actually made it having the two conferences in hot climate (Singapore and Valencia) in mind, so that I would have something conference-appropriate, but breathable to wear. So far the dress has been perfect in that matter, although it wrinkles horribly as linen fabric usually does – the photos above were taken before the first session of the day and I think I only sat down for putting on my shoes!

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As you can see, I lined the skirt part of the dress for higher wearing comfort and also because it seemed that the linen might be too see-through against light. I did not want to line the whole thing because the lining is synthetic and I was afraid adding a lining might reduce the breathability of the main fabric.

I did my homework on fabric shops in Valencia prior to the trip and managed to visit one that turned out to be a great experience. The shop is called Julian Lopez and it is three floors full of beautiful fabrics, cut and sold by gentlemen in sharp suits. However, the last floor is dedicated to fabrics used for local traditional clothes and the second floor to decoration fabrics and quilting cottons, so only the ground floor remains for fashion fabrics, but the selection is good and I think there is something beautiful for any budget.

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I bought a polyester crepe in a rather crazy and humorous print – the fabric is very busy, but once you look closer, there is a rooster right in the middle! I like this funny detail and my current plan is to make an extravagant jumpsuit out of this.

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Burda Colourblock Dress II

Ever since finishing the first Burda Colourblock Dress, I have had various colour combinations on my mind for a second or even a third version of this pattern – Burda 02/2012, model 117b.

I have been and still continue to wear the first version very often and it is very likely that the new dress will be one of my favourites as well:

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As the pattern had been tested before, it was even easier and quicker to sew it up this time. The only time-consuming detail is changing the threads – when connecting different colour blocks, I use different colours of upper an lower thread accordingly.

The size I cut is the same as always for Burda patterns – size 38. The material is ponte knit – exactly the same quality and weight of fabric in different colours. I think this is also the most difficult part in colour blocking – finding the same fabric in different shades (and more than 2!) is not always easy.

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Isn´t it amazing how the shoes can change the whole look? I love high heels, but due to my work and lifestyle I cannot wear them as often as I would like to.

In March I will spend a short holiday in Paris with my mother and obviously the sportier look will be my choice. The edgy sneakers are from my trip to Portugal in September.

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I think the pattern contains endless options – in addition to playing with different colours, one could also combine the same colour but different textures or materials – say, black ponte knit and faux leather? This would also be a solution if the same fabric cannot be found in several colours, as I pointed out earlier.

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Zig Zag Znake Dress

Hey!

I usually don´t care too much about season´s trends, I just sew and wear whatever I fancy at the moment. But occasionally I also seem to hit the current trends. The last surprise was an email alert from an online shoe store announcing that this autumn, animal prints and snake skin effect are back in fashion. This happened while I was basting snake skin piping to my new dress!

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 The pattern is McCall´s 6243, view C:

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This is the first time I gave up on insisting to cut size 12 (because this is what the size chart tells me on the Big Four patterns) and gave size 10 a try. I am happy that I did, because I didn´t have to take in nearly at all at the side seams and basically the dress fits me without any alterations. The only thing I changed, was adding the snake skin piping to the topstitched seams and omitting the exposed zipper, I used an invisible one instead.

The fabric for the dress is the same as I used for the Burda peplum top approximately a year ago, just in a different colour. I bought them together back then, indecisive what to do with the beige one. But after I saw the snake skin piping in Athens right before leaving in October 2012, I knew it was a perfect match.

As I have mentioned earlier, I will be off to Zurich for work in a few days and I decided I needed a dress that I could wear for the conference. I think it is appropriate, not too flashy but could also be worn for a drink in the evening.

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ImageAt first I was a bit scared to sew the piping, thinking that my sewing machine would find it difficult to handle, but I had absolutely no problems. However, I have no idea, how it will behave in wash.

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The brown leather shoes are a recent addition from Poland, where I found leather goods to be a lot cheaper in comparison to Estonia.

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The weather here in Estonia has been getting colder, but I am having hopes for a beautiful golden fall! I still have a few summer projects unfinished, lacking just a seam or two, I hope I will manage to show them before it would be too out of season!

The Blue Rose Skirt and Top

This is sort of Out Of The Closet series of post, because the corset top was finished last summer in Athens! The skirt was also cut out while still living in Greece and laid all winter in my drawer until I finally got to it again a few weeks ago.

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It all started with using Simplicity 4070 for Stefania´s dress. It was the first time I made a strapless top and the first time I used Rigilene boning. As the project turned out well, I got excited and decided I needed a corset top in a similar style.

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I found this beautiful cotton stretch in Athens and bought it heavily discounted as it was the last 1.7 m on the roll. Sometimes I really miss the fabric shops in Athens, where the salesmen generously cut more fabric than asked and drop the price if you know when and how to ask!

If you are interested, I found the same fabric online here.

Anyway, the top was pretty straightforward to sew after the experience with the dress. I also could use the leftovers of the lining for her dress, although it would have been better if it was slightly stretchy as well.

Nevertheless, the most difficult task was finding a zipper in suitable shade and length. This is also the reason why the top is a tad longer than I wished – I was not able to find an open-ended zipper of perfect length.

You can see some “gathering” on the upper edge on both sides  of the zipper. I added a strip of elastic between the lining and the fabric as I was afraid for gaping. I don´t know if it made a difference or not, but the top feels comfortable and I don´t feel like I am losing my clothes as it sometimes happens with strapless tops and dresses.

The only downside are the horizontal folds when worn. I think it has to to with the fabric being elastic and the lining non-stretch. I am trying not to pay attention to this, though!

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For the skirt I used Burda 05-2012 model 118/119 pattern. I have a similar ready-to-wear skirt from Zara and love the style, I really enjoyed sewing one up myself, especially as the fabric is great to work with.

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The technical drawing is for model 118, with the welt pockets on the back, but I omitted them as my fabric would have disguised them with the big print.

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As always I did not follow Burda directions for the front fly, but relied on the tried and tested tutorial video instead. You cannot go wrong with this technique!

The sequined details on the front side of the skirt are not simply the result of trying to personalize the garment, but a try to cover up for bad pattern placement. Although the fabric looks heavy with flowers at first glance, I wasted a lot of it, because I tried to “catch” as many dark blue roses as possible. And still, when I looked at the skirt, it looked a bit empty, plus one rose was cut in the middle for the front center seam and I could not leave it like this.

So I got the idea of creating a fun effect by cutting out several roses and flowers from the fabric, use sequins to add interest and sew them randomly on the skirt. Of course, there is nothing random about the placement, but I tried to make it look as if I threw them there accidentally, while they are actually strategically placed to cover up and emphasize the flower print. I love the result, the contrast between the fringed edges of the details and the sparkle of the sequins.

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I had exactly enough of lining left from Stefania´s dress, to use it for the pockets of the skirt as well! So the two garments make up a nice set that can be worn as separates and also dress up or down according to the occasion.

Yesterday I chose to wear wooden platform heels for dinner downtown.

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The Roberto Venuti shoes were also bought from Greece back in 2010, but are basically unworn, although I love the style. I could find a photo of dark brown version of them on internet. I must say I prefer mine!

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As I started the post with reference to Stefania´s dress, there is an old debt I have to pay – I never posted photos of her actually wearing the dress as she didn´t like the idea of being up here without make-up and her hair done as she was when she came for the dress. After a long time she finally gave the permission, so here they are (sorry for the quality, they were taken in a rush, using a phone):

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And last but not least, I need your help! Any fabric shop recommendations for Poland, namely Warsaw and Krakow? Thank you in advance!

Out Of The Closet: Little House On The Prairie Tunic

I haven´t mentioned it here, but although I currently live in my homeland Estonia, I don´t live in my hometown. My home at the moment is in a tiny seaside town with a population of 11 000 people. Coming from the overcrowded city of Athens, the change is really huge. It has its downsides as the variety of restaurants, bars or entertainment is really small. On the other hand, I walk to work and in 10-minute walking distance from my house there is a nice swimming pool. No squeezing in the midst of the crowds in the metro, no heavy clouds of exhaust to inhale! In spring and summer I will probably enjoy living here more, because I can then use my bicycle for getting around and for getting a workout. I really LOVE cycling!

Another downside, though, is that I don´t have any old friends or family in this town and everyone I know right now is from work. Immediately it brings about the problem of taking photos for the blog!  I have arranged with a colleague to take some photos if I am really in trouble, but I don´t want to make it a burden on anyone, so I´d rather wait until I visit my hometown and have someone take the photos then.

I spent this weekend in the capital, Tallinn, for a change, since the past 2 weekends I didn´t go anywhere. I had a good time, ate out, went to the movies and had some photos taken!  And because the Stardust coat is not proceeding much (I am afraid I still have to ask a friend to send me more fabric from Athens), once again I am showing you something I made before starting this blog.

It is the tunic from Burda Easy Fashion autumn-winter 2009.

The photoshoot was not an easy task, as the weather has been gloomy for the past days (weeks actually!) and a good light is really an issue. The following photos were taken during approximately 10 minutes, which was the lucky 10 minutes of sunshine we got on Saturday, believe it or not!

I need a special mood to wear it, because as you can see for yourself, it is a bit of a hippie-style or little-house-on-the-prairie-style, if such a thing exists! And honestly, I don´t feel like this very often, but when I do, I enjoy wearing the tunic a lot! And as my friend Taavi, who took the photos, pointed out, it is an investment piece for the future, if I decide to get pregnant 😀

Once again I am surprised at myself, since this is one of the first things I made when I started sewing again, and it is not exactly an easy project with the buttoned front, lots of gathering and plaid fabric.

I cut size 38 as nearly always with Burda patterns and didn´t make any alterations. The wooden toggles are from a dress I bought, but didn´t like them there, so I removed them and used them for the tunic. The fabric is some kind of a cotton mix, I believe, it is nicely lightweight, but wrinkles quite easily.

The boots are a cheap pair of a Greek brand called Hunter, but I loved them for the colour.

And last, but not least, remember this? :

The basic pattern is the same for these two items! The bodice part is the same, but the front yoke has pintucks and bow tie, the sleeves are different and there is remarkably less gathering on the blouse, but the bodice part is exactly the same!

The technical drawings once again:

Generally I would say that Burda Easy Fashion used to have more complicated patterns than they do now. I still buy the magazine, but they haven´t been able to  beat the 2009 issues, both spring/summer and autumn/winter.

Out Of The Closet: Bow Tie Blouse

This blog was not started the day I made my first garment and therefore there are quite a few items in my closet that I have made some time ago already, but nevertheless love to wear and share with you.

As I am in the middle of a huge change in my life (post about it will come soon), I will probably be less “productive” for some time at least, but in order to keep this blog alive, I will post some pre-blog projects until I restore a more stable rhythm of life that allows me to continue with the hobby.

The first in line is this bow tie blouse, based on Burda Easy Fashion A/W 2009 issue blouse/tunic/dress pattern. I haven’t been able to find a technical drawing online and at the moment I don’t have access to my pattern stash either, so for now, just this hard-to-interpret Burda photo:

 

AN UPDATE:

This pattern is one of the few I have used more than once. By combining details and materials, it can be used for so many different garments that it is nearly impossible to recognize that the basic pattern is the same.

Now that I look back at this project, I wouldn’t say it is very difficult to make, but the front detail really requires patience and precision. I think I would be able to get a better result now, but that’s how it is with sewing – you constantly get better and more skilled and at some point might revalue the previous achievements.

Despite the little errors on the blouse, it is one of my favorite items in my closet (unfortunately it doesn’t mean also the most worn) and never goes without compliments, even from men and even when the person is not aware that I made it myself. When my fiance proposed to me on a trip to Pilio mountains in 2011, I had packed the blouse with me for a night out. So, the very first photos of us newly engaged are with me wearing it and needless to say, it has become somewhat of a keepsake.

The fabric was bought from Estonia, back when I was still able to limit myself to “one fabric at a time” rule. It is polyester charmeuse, with a powdery shine. I thought such a fabric, with the tiny cream dots on it, was crying out for a bow tie pattern. I couldn’t really imagine it any other way and still can’t.

I cut size 38, but I would say that it could do with a little bit of more ease in the bust area, I have to choose the bra very carefully when wearing the blouse, since with anything push-up-like, there is a danger of popping a snap open. Yes, although the blouse has buttons, it is actually snaps that keep it closed in front. Remember, this is an Easy Fashion pattern (the snaps were suggested in the instructions) and back then I was not ready for trying to make buttonholes. A mistake, as I learned later, since they are actually manageable!

The most difficult part was sewing the pintucks. The pattern first makes you sew them on a rectangle piece of fabric and then cut out the front yoke pieces. The fabric is quite slippery and measuring the distance of the lines and sewing them up took me forever.

I really like the sleeves, there are eight (!) pleats on each sleeve, two of them opposing and lining up at the shoulder seam. The sleeve end is gathered with an elastic band in the tunnel.

The following photos show how I like to style the blouse, I think a fancy riding horse would be a nice accessory :):

The boots are a Greek brand named Gianna Kazakou, as I notice now, they have a surprisingly decent online shop and deliver outside Greece as well.

The Simple Things

My friend Mariliis really likes this song by Joe Cocker and it is true – the simple things are the best and we cannot do without them. So is with this dress of hers that we sewed together in the beginning of the summer.

She had found a beautiful fabric and wanted a simple dress out of it. Because it has been some time since she made anything, we worked on this project together just to get the feeling back. And I could feel some of the rare selflessness of a hobby sewist 🙂

As she described the dress she wanted to make, I remembered having seen the same style on Erica B.´s blog, from where I found the link to the tutorial by Mimi G. The dress is simple enough, but it doesn´t hurt having some help with the measurements for example.

It took us a few hours and the result is here:

The dress has two elastic bands to gather the fabric at the bust and waist and Mariliis created an interesting look by gathering more fabric one one side and adding a beautiful brooch to emphasize the effect. Simple!