50’s dress, Free Fabric, and Oliver + S

There’s a random free day in my city called “Ekka.” It has to do with the local fairs, or as they’re called here “shows.”  I’m not personally interested, but Ekka falls on a Wednesday so I have a day off in the middle of the work week.  That Wednesday, I woke up after months of not wanting to sew and thought- alright, it’s time to make a leafy dress.

I don’t know what normaly triggers mojo rejuvenation, but for me it came in a rather innocuous form:

Yes, that’s right, the Oliver + S picnic blouse.  As a good “Australian” mommy, I’m on the lookout for summer clothes for my little bear that shields her tender flesh from the harsh sun.  At the same time, I want her to be free and comfortable.  I brought home this new pattern as soon as it arrived at work along with some japanese cotton, the weekend before Ekka.   She was over the moon.  Girl already gets fabric+new pattern= BIG FUN.  She asked if we could cut it out together, and she wanted to use the overlocker.

I made the shorts more as an intellectual exercise than to make a pair of shorts.  Curiously, the contrast band taught me something.  Better than that, it kick-started my imagination.  The contrast bands are created much like a facing, but one turned to the outside and stitched down.  It’s a little twiddly, but when you take the time to do it well it comes out neatly.

I always pink interior seams instead of notching.  It’s simpler.

There’s many ways to achieve an even top-stitching line.  Here’s how I line mine up sometimes.  I use a 3.0 stitch length because it looks good.

These shorts, despite carefully measuring Lila’s waist, fell right off over her flat little bottom.  We both laughed til we cried, I’m sure she’ll grow into them this summer.  I’m a fan of the teeny houndstooth.  Turquoise is one of her “power colors,” which is perhaps a little silly to note on a 3 year old but I hope later she appreciates my attention to detail.

Oh well.  The top was a win. She decided the print was “rabbit tracks.”

I found this technique so satisfying, I woke up on Ekka and thought “I’m making a black and white dress from that bengaline I stared at for the past year since my colleague gave me a big pile of her so-called ugly fabrics.”  I drafted, I stitched, and the wearable results will feature soon.

Skirt before cutting.  Half-circle experiment.

I’ve had several IRL comments on my last dress, especially the “upskirt” photos.  Husband and I have a strong rapport, which is reflected in the photos.  I used to take pains to sanitize myself here in the past, which might be part of why I quit writing for a while.  I love that photo and decided to share it.  I do apologize if I offended, though I don’t think I did exactly.

Ahem.  You can comment here, too.  That would be cool, you don’t have to lurk or be polite. I like to know what you think.

Students and colleagues, meet internet peeps.  Internet peeps, meet irl students and colleagues.  You all inspire me, I can’t imagine the vortex of amazing creativity we could generate if we all shared ideas.


  1. It is an old old fabric, and the dress is my own draft(taken from some pics I had lying around on my computer with no numbers)… Sorry I can't be more helpful, but thank you!I think I'll be offering up the draft of the dress in the next post…

  2. Those are super-cute shorts! Is it too late to add in a buttonhole elastic on the waistband? (By far my favourite innovation to children's wear in of the last ten years) I always like the look of decorative bands like these, but I have yet to actually try them myself. Can't wait to see the dress they inspired, too :).Oh, and I loved the Alice dress, and the fun photos, including *THAT* one. But then, I'm not overly interested in super-sanitary blogging ;). I'd rather hear (read) what you really feel, think, and do.

  3. Pulling facing over to the right side lets you do all sorts of interesting shaped edges that would be far too exhausting to do as an inset. "Face the facing" with interfacing to get clean edges, then fold it over, press, and stitch down the facing — by machine or hand, with satin stitch or french knots or glue gun.

  4. Lila's getting so big! Her new outfit is really really – powerful! I find it totally foreign that your motivation to return to sewing is sewing for someone else…. I'm so selfish!Oh wow, this post just made me feel better about my comment on your last post.

  5. Love the photos from the last post – that rapport does come through a lot and so does your effervescence. :) I can't wait to see the leaf dress, such pretty fabric (I have a similar one I love to look at but have no idea how to use) and love the cute little outfit for Lila. Thou hast returned Mojo in spades!Hi Steph's irl students and colleagues: *waves from New Zealand* lovely to meet like minded sewing and quilting types, always!

  6. Is the dress based on the pattern you show at the beginning of the post? I'm very interested in this facing technique, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results. I thought the photo's on your last post were fun, free, and a little sexy. That last part usually doesn't sit easy with people, especially when it's not make-believe pouting but a genuine thing, imo. Frankly, you look happy in all of those photos, and that's a beautiful thing to see.

  7. I always adore the look of houndstooth…until I go to purchase some for myself, and then it just makes me dizzy. So in keeping, of course I love the turquoise houndstooth with that cute "rabbit footprint" cotton. Good job, Lila looks adorable in her top, and hopefully she'll grow into those cute shorts!

  8. I've loved that leaf fabric ever since you posted about it ages ago. I can't wait to see what the finished dress looks like.Lila is getting so big! She will fit the shorts sooner than you can imagine, and not fit them again almost as soon!

  9. I thought the Alice dress and pictures were adorable, even "that one". Honestly I didn't look at the zoom view until the controversy (really?!) popped. But what pattern number is that divine orange dress up top from? You put up pictures minus the pattern numbers… I need that pattern! :)

  10. I love the Alice pictures too and the dress looks great on you. I love Lila's outfit and I'm sure she will remember your attention to detail, although she may never tell you she appreciates it! I'm glad your mojo is back. Mine is coming back, my sewing machines are set up but my dress forms are still somewhere on Bass Strait, along with my fabric stash. I brought three pieces with me, so I may cut out a dress today.

  11. I LOVE the little shorts! And a friend would love the tops for her littlies. Might have to pop in and get that pattern. Lovely to see you are back blogging regularly, thanks for the inspiration!!

  12. Pingback: Summer Wardrobe 2011- Phase 1 « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  13. Pingback: Finished Object: Leaflace Dress « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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