Rosy Leopard Dress

Summer in Estonia is tricky and after spending 7 years in much warmer climates (2 years in Cyprus and 5 in Greece), I am surprised every time I wake up here in the morning and it seems that  the weather has turned from summer to autumn overnight. The peculiar thing is that you never know what the day brings – it might start up as rainy and windy and then change to warm and sunny. In Greece and in Cyprus, it is very simple – from the end of May to the end of August you can be sure that there will be constant sunshine and too much heat. Although I like that I can plan a day at the beach anytime, because a good weather is guaranteed, I also like the tricky Estonian summer, where there are no guarantees, but amazing long days, where the sun goes down really late to rise very early again and the sky doesn´t really blacken for the night.

So, today was one of the days that in the morning it looked like autumn and then gradually started turning into more of a summer day. But the temperatures are not high, so in order to meet a friend of mine downtown, I decided to wear a dress I made in winter. It was a project that took me ages to complete, because at first I wanted a sweater-like collar on that dress, but it was difficult to find a suitable pattern, so after ignoring the fabric for nearly a year, I finally used Vogue 8593 to make it.

Here is the pattern:

I made view B. The pattern was not difficult, but because the fabric I used had a colourful print on it, sometimes it was difficult to see the markings I had made. The fabric I used is a warm polyester knit, with slightly furry surface. I believe the pattern would work better on one-colour fabrics, because it has some really nice details, like the pleats in front and seams on the back side and sleeves. I am planning to use the pattern again.

Here is the dress I made:



I think the only change I made was adding this funny golden zipper. The pattern originally calls for an invisible zipper, but since the fabric was already quite “loud”, I thought why not go all the way and make it a little kitsch. I like the result, although after taking the photos I realized that the sleeves make a weird pop up at the seams, when I put my hands on my hips.

Since I was planning to walk downtown, which is about 40 mins with a quick pace, I decided to wear flats. They are red suede Clarks Cadiz Festival:

….and a few more

Oh wow, I see that I am not the only one who got fascinated by those old styles, so here are a few more. I think the next time I go to Räpina, I will spend some time at the museum again, just to take photos of all the pages of the catalogue and then spend evenings drooling over them.

One detail that caught my eye was that the shoes the ladies are wearing in the pictures, look so contemporary! Also, there are many dresses that I personally would wear, as well.

Some nightgowns as well:

That´s all I could photograph at the museum, because they were about to close when we got there and I didn´t want to cause them trouble.


I spent the last weekend in Räpina – a tiny town 60 km south-east from Tartu. It is the town where my mother was born and my family still keeps her parents´ old house there. In summer it is very nice and this weekend they had some celebrations in the town, so we went on an excursion at the paper mill and also peeked into the music school and local history museum, which both occupy the old Räpina manor house. One photo of the building:

Author: Vaido Otsar

Although I like to show off my country, this blog is supposedly about sewing, so the real reason why I am talking about Räpina is that I discovered something really interesting at the local history museum. This:

I cannot really tell what this catalogue was used for – it doesn´t seem to have had any patterns included, maybe it was used for ordering them? It is beautifully illustrated and all the styles include suggested materials, the amount of fabric needed and also sketches of the pattern pieces. I wish they had the patterns at the museum as well, but they couldn´t even tell me how the catalogue got to there. Some of the models (I wish I had enough time to take proper photos of ALL of the, because the book was quite thick and also included models for children and teenagers):

Some of the outfits are so beautiful that I would be ready to try them out, although I have never used vintage patterns and they kind of make me anxious, as I know that they expect much more knowledge from the seamstress than the patterns of today. More photos in the next post!

My Very First Post

Hello everyone!

I am Mari-Liis, an Estonian currently living in Athens, Greece.

This blog will mainly be about sewing (especially dresses!) and maybe some shoes that I just can´t get enough of.

This blog will most probably NOT be about tutorials, neither can I help you with good hints on online fabric shopping as some really awesome sewing bloggers do.

I have so much yet to learn about sewing and turn to various sources for help myself, that I don´t see any tutorial on anything coming up any time soon. Fabric shopping online is something I have tried, but never managed, because it seems I need to touch and “feel” the fabric before getting an inspiration what to use it for (which DRESS pattern, that is). Which is weird, because I shop nearly everything, from ceiling lamps to shoes and underwear online.

I mainly shop for fabrics in Athens and Tartu, my hometown in Estonia. I never buy expensive fabrics in the fear that the garment might not turn out as I wanted and I don´t mind wearing polyester. If the fabric itself costs as mush as a decent RTW dress, I don´t see the point for me to get anxious while cutting into it. So I mainly go for fabrics that come at 10 EUR/m max. I have made some exceptions, of course, but never paid more than 20.

The patterns I use are mainly Burda, Burda Easy Fashion, Simplicity and occasionally New Look and McCalls. And I discovered the Russian Diana Moden the other day at my local fabric store here in Tartu where I came to spend my summer holidays. Every once in a while they come up with an issue that contains many Simplicity patterns and for the EUR 3.50 price tag is a very good investment, I think. I took Russian at school, but since I never really needed to use it and honestly, the level of my skills was never anything to to be proud of, I cannot actually make sense of the instructions, but as they come with detailed drawings, I believe I will be able to use these patterns. Diana Moden has their own patterns as well, but because of the language problem, I am a bit scared to give them a try. After some research online I also discovered that some people have had troubles with Diana Moden patterns due to many mistakes on their patterns sheets, but their Simplicity issues are fine.

So, here are the two issues I got my greedy hands on yesterday:

I was especially lucky, because I normally have to order the Simplicity, McCalls, New Look etc patterns from the States and it either takes a lot of time for them to arrive or a lot of time and patience to cut and tape the printable versions. Not to mention that the last pattern I printed consisted of 81 (!!!) pages! I am happy I did not try it at home!

Anyway, the purple dress on the cover of the magazine in front is Simplicity 1876, that I have been wanting to order ever since I saw it!

The only problem that I have is that I am not really sure if the view B also requires boning or not. The instruction sketches in the magazine seem to suggest that version B is without, but I have doubts because if any of those two versions, the B looks like a design that requires boning.

I also got some really nice fabrics:

For all three I already have ideas, what to make of them, but I will share this with you in another post, it is getting too late right now! Just that the first in row, is a lightweight polyester, not shiny as the photo might suggest. Next to it there is a fantastic pink polyester (something like tafetta, but softer) that has a very nice contrast shade on the wrong side, that actually can be seen in the header photo of this blog – it is not two different fabrics, but the same pink with its contrast wrong side! The third is polyester jersey, I love the colours of it! I am just not sure if I will be able to make anything out if it before I get back to Athens, because my mother´s faithful Singer (from 1989) refuses to sew elastic fabrics, no matter what needles I use.