Behind the seams: The Mystery Solved dress

In conjunction with Mothers’ Day celebrations, we are drawing on an old photo of our mothers’ or grandmothers’ for inspiration. Yes, this is the week we are honoring our mother’s style and fashion influence. To find out why I named my project this week The Mystery Solved dress, please read my TSW post here.

The Photo Inspiration

My hubby and I were browsing through old photo albums at my mum’s during the lunar new year celebrations in February when we saw this photograph of my parents and hubby said I should make a dress like mum’s since I love the vintage look. There were surprisingly quite a number of copies of this particular photo and so I kept a one for myself.  So, when this theme came up, I knew this would be the photo to inspire my creation. This was a welcomed change after those weeks of having too many choices to consider.

The Gallery

I absolutely do not have the guts to wear a narrow horizontal stripes dress like mum did in the photo. Instead, I used my favorite home decor fabric- Alexander Henry’s Sofia in Gold , which in my opinion adds a 70s vintage vibe to the outfit with its yellow/orange/brown floral print.

I even wore a hairband and backcombed my hair, a little addition to the 70s flavor.

The Pattern Review

I’ve raved about the Japanese Sewing Book, Retrospective is Stylish many times and never thought I would be sewing this 70s pattern as my first project from the book. I mean, this is a great pattern but it was the 1950s dresses that really made me covet the book in the first place.

I used the pattern from Project 7 of the book. (The green dress pictured below)

I’ve sewed quite a number of garments from Japanese sewing books and usually it’s pretty intuitive and the illustration helps a lot. This time, I was stuck because I couldn’t find what I thought were two missing skirt pattern pieces. Googling didn’t help either as no one seem to have attempted this particular dress from the book. So, I’ve documented how it is done, after spending hours pondering about it and going through the overlapping pattern sheet countless times. I’ll illustrate using the back skirt pieces, the same technique applies to the front.

As you can see, the back of the skirt is formed by what seemed to be 3 pattern pieces.

Trace the back (and front) skirt piece (you will only find one pattern piece each for front and back) and identify a line running down the piece with the wordings below (something with 14cm). Trace the line onto the pattern piece of the skirt you have traced.

Cut the pattern piece at the line so one pattern piece becomes two.

Between the two pattern pieces, measure 14cm between them and add seam allowance of 0.5cm (Please note that you are cutting on the fold).

That is your back (or front) skirt pattern piece.

I hope this will be helpful to someone attempting this pattern.

The other thing I wanted to mention is sizing. Typically, I find that there is quite a lot of ease in Japanese sewing patterns and this was the case with this dress. The pattern came in size 7, 9, 11 and 13.  I’m in between sizes for this book (I’m size 12) so after measuring myself I opted to go with size 13. As a result, it did looked one size too big on all areas except the shoulders and bust area so I took in the sides from below the arm downwards.

Other than these, the dress is very easy to put together and a delight to wear. It has a true vintage feel to it and mum even gave her approval saying that the style is very authentic 70s. Yay!

Have you tried sewing garment with home decor fabrics? I am currently very intrigued with sewing with different fabrics and am in the process of experimenting with new ones whenever I can.

My thoughts on using home decor fabrics on garments:

They are great for circle skirts, love the extra sway that comes with it. See Casey’s lovely version in Ikea fabric. I think they can look pretty neat on a pencil skirt too. See the cupcake goddess’ version in Anna Maria Horner’s home decor fabric

They are a good alternative for a spring coat. I made my Lady Grey in an Ikea fabric.

They are not suitable for garments that requires gathering or shirring or smocking. You need light weight fabric for those.

They are as easy to sew, like cotton, but you will need to use a thicker needle.

That’s all folks and I’ll be coming back soon with the next giveaway and announcement of the winners. Have a great week my sewing comrades!


Hoot Hoot Blouse

I love many of the fabrics from Saffron Craig but they are rather costly. I bought three of their prints recently including a yard of this owl print in aqua.

However, a yard is not enough to make a top for me. I normally require at least one and a half to two yards for a simple top so I decided to use the owl print with some brown fabric to create a blouse adapted from this Mod Dress suggestion in Wendy Mullin’s book Built By Wendy Dresses.

Instead of zipper which was required for the dress, the blouse is secured with one button on the back. I used two front darts instead of four on the sewing pattern as I wanted to retain the owls in their original form.

At first, I used a normal width bias tape for the neckline which holds together the back, sleeves and front sections of the blouse but it looked rather flimsy so I called upon my good friend the seam ripper and replaced it with an extra wide bias tape. I think it made a difference and the top looked better put together.
Meet the cute owls. Hoot Hoot!