Me Made: Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress

The Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress is just one of those dresses...the one that you see and immediately have to make.

I've been wanting to do more pattern testing lately so I jumped at the chance to test for the ever lovely Gabriele of Chalk and Notch.  So here she is, the newly released Fringe Dress!

I made the dress in View B with the closed front, cuffed sleeves and a tie from the front darts.  The other options is a buttoned down front with a tab on the sleeves.  The beauty of this pattern is that it can also be made into a blouse which, judging by other testers versions, is going on my to sew list as well.

I made a size 10 but made a couple of adjustments.  As I normally need to do, I added 10cm to the length of the skirt and 2.5cm to the length of the bodice.  But other than that the fit was perfect.  It does however, the waist does feel tight to get on over you head but then fits and feels perfect on your waist. 

I choose to pop the tie back into the front darts as I felt I needed a bit more waist definition but you could just as easily add these to the back darts and wrap the tie around the front of your waist. 

The fabric is from deep in my stash that I have been saving for a dress like this.  It's a cotton voile from the op shop Fabric, Needlecraft and More in Sydney. I'm loving the colours!  And I managed some mighty fine pattern matching through the centre front bodice.  Although, you could easily lay this pattern piece on the fold, removing the seam allowance.  

Oh and did I mention it has pockets!  Who doesn't love a dress with pockets? And in the perfect spot too! 

I highly recommend this dress to advanced beginners as it's easy but takes some construction and pattern laying knowledge.  I am actually thinking of using this in one of my upcoming classes!  

The details
Size: 10
View: B Dress
Adjustments: added 10cm to the length and 2.5cm to the bodice.
Fabric: Cotton Voile
Buy pattern here: Chalk and Notch

You can see more tester versions here. 


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Me Made : Frocktails dress Vogue #1289

I have to admit, I had trouble deciding what to make for our Frocktails event.  There was simply too much choice!

I initially had my eye on a sequinned, figure hugging number but then thought I would challenge myself with sewing from my stash. 

Combing through the patterns, I shortlisted a couple but after a discussion over a cocktail with Maaike from Maaidesign, we settled upon the Vogue V1289 by Pamela Rolland pattern. 

Now I've used this pattern before...I used it to base my wedding dress off.  So I was familiar with it and confident I could sew it up in time.  Because of course, time was ticking and I was being indecisive. 

However, the indecisive theme kept continuing as I purchased some lovely inky coloured lurex from The Fabric Store and then found this taffeta/silk in my stash!  Again, I consulted friends and we decided on the teal stash buster!  


Now we came to the cutting which let's just say didn't go well!  All the pieces are flat lay and single piece only.  Silly old me got a bit distracted by the block fusing of the bodice pieces and stupidly layed the bodice pieces wrong side up and the skirt piece right side up (yes, the skirt is one piece)....leaving with the pleats not matching at the waistband.  You can see here that the pleats are meant to meet....mine are opposite.  Oh well, I'm hoping none of the those eagle eyed Frocktails ladies noticed!  But I bet some did!

Never mind, onwards and upwards, I didn't have any more fabric to cut new bodice pieces so I just did the best I could.  I think I pull it off ok! Well, I'm hoping so anyway!

The pattern came together really nicely.  I enjoyed how the pleats folded up nicely and made for a flush waistband.  I really enjoyed sewing the strappy side of the bodice.  And I felt that fitted me well. 

As for adjustments, I did toile this so I had a good idea of what I needed to change.  I cut a size 12 from the pattern, reduced the side seams under the arms (as I always need to do with Big4 patterns), I shortened the bodice to make my waist more cinched and I lengthened the hem by 10cm (as I always need to do!).

I think I have made this dress enough times now, but I would reduce the gathers at the shoulders dramatically as that bodice pieces was far too puffy and bulky.  I would also make sure the fabric is the right way up for all pieces!  D'oh! 

I would however, consider using the skirt and the strap side of the bodice again, and make the bodice symmetrical.  I think that would work well.  And possibly use more of a drapey fabric. 

I also made my sister, Liz, a dress.  It's the Salme Olsen dress.  I have made a few of these as sun dresses and they are super quick and satisfying to make up.  This pattern and fabric was in my stash as well! Challenge accepted...twice!

All the details....

Pattern: Vogue #1289 by Pamela Rolland

Size: 12

Adjustments: Added 10cm to length, shortened bodice by 3cm, shortened the strap by about 10cm!, reduced the neckline on the gathered bodice, reduced the side seam at underarm.

Fabric: A silk taffeta in teal.  Was in the stash, not sure where I got it from.

What I would change for next time:  Reduce the gathers at the shoulder seam dramatically, take in the waist a little bit more.

How easy was it to make:  An intermediate level sewer would be about to make this up fairly simply. The adjustments were tricky given the pleats and gathers.

You can also check out all about the Frocktails event here.  If you would like to join us next time, please sign up to the newsletter and stay tuned for more info!

Caz xx

Sydney Frocktails : A fabulous night

Just last Saturday, 70 of Sydney's sewists were out in force in all their finery! And what a night we had!

Frocktails is an event, most notably held in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, where sewists have a chance to get together, make new friends and importantly, sew something to wear. 
I can tell you we all had a lovely time! We sipped cocktails, we patted each other's fabrics and we met some lovely people. 

I was just so impressed with the turnout, the calibre of outfits and just how damn lovely everyone is! And so impressed we had visitors from Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.  Thank you for taking the time and expense to join us!

Oh boy the outfits! We had handmade dresses, self drafted patterns, some fab hand stitching, matching fabric, matching dresses, setaculars and even a pair of handmade shoes!  We are a clever bunch! And all that fabric to touch and feel, from brocade to cotton sateen to sheers and even lace. Here are just a few pics of some fab outfits! Check out #sydneyfrocktails on Instagram for all the pics of the night!

A trio of The Acton Dress by In the Folds! @sewingwithkate, @inthefolds, @maaidesign

@kbfield and @myzeemo
Me! @usefulbox - more on my dress to come!

I was particularly impressed with handful of ladies who came along and didn't know anyone.  You guys are so brave and I'm so pleased that you have now come away with new friends.  I know I have!

The night was held at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel in the CBD and it was a perfect venue for us.  My dress even matched the walls!

Our menu was smoked salmon blinis, Artichoke & feta bruschetta, Goats cheese roulade, Warragul green & potato frittata, Pork & sage sausage roll, Snow crab croquettes, Fish and Chips and Orecchiette pasta.  And we enjoyed a Lawsons Cup, Edi Sprita and Summer mojito cocktail.  Delicious. 

Thanks to all our sponsors, our prize draw was nothing short of impressive. Thank you so much to the lovely and kind sewing community.  I am so pleased to have been able to be the sewing santa claus on the night. I think it's fair to say that everyone who won a prize was chuffed!

I think it's fair to say that our night was a success and I am so proud of us all. A big thank you to our official photographer on the night, Mr Usefulbox!  He did a great job and was thoroughly enjoying being the only man there!

Let's now start thinking about our outfits for the next night of nights!  Keep October 2017 available!

Here's to the amazing sewing community!

A Me Made Deer & Doe Cardamome dress for Maai Design Blog Tour

I'm really thrilled to be taking part in the Maai Design Blog tour.  Maaike is now stocking a range of See you at Six Fabrics.  And to celebrate, there is a discount code for you at the end of this post..

Here is my contribution to the tour, the Deer & Doe Cardamome dress in The See you at Six Dandelions Blue rayon. I had my eye on this fabric and I'm thankful that I got it in time as it has since sold out!  But never fear, there is plenty more to choose from!

The fabric is beautiful to say the least!  It's very soft, vibrant in colour and has a lovely drape and is a dream to sew with. 

I initially wanted to make either the Tilly & Buttons Marigold jumpsuit or the Sew over It Rosie dress, but I didn't have a lot of time to make this up and didn't want to fiddle with trouser fitting or boning. So I decided on this Cardamome dress which I have been lusting over for a little while. 

Having said that, I wish I had gone with a dress with more of a floaty vibe as the fabric is just so lovely and drapey. 

This pattern was great and the instructions clear.  I have hacked this version up quite a bit by removing the collar and only doing one row of elastic around the waist instead of 4 rows of shirred elastic.  I made a size 38 but I added 4cm to the bodice length and 10cm to the hem length as I often have to do.  And I think those alterations worked well. 

The trickiest part of the make was attaching the yoke as it's topstitched onto the bodice.  That took ALOT of pins! I did use a bit of stay tape around the yoke also which helped a great deal. 

I also made sure that I used a warm-ish iron and pre-washed as there is a 5% shrinkage.  

I am looking forward to wearing more of this easy dress over the summer and I am also planning lots more makes using this fab rayon! 

You can is the 10% discount code you can add to your blogposts: seeyouatsix
This code is valid for the See You At Six collection, and from the 12th of September until the 30th of Sept.

And don't forget to check out all the other fab makes from these lovely sewists and bloggers:

12th of September: Shelley from Bartacks and Singletrack
13th of September: Kate from Sewing With Kate
14th of September: Nicola from Create.nic
15th of September: Anna from Blogless Anna

17th of September: Suz from Sewpony
18th of September: Allison from The Tall Mama
19th of September: Toni from Make It Perfect
20th of September: Suzanne from Dressed in Pretty Little Things
21st of September: Natalie from Sew Outnumbered
22nd of September: Jenya from While She Was Sleeping
23rd of September: Maaike from MaaiDesign

Please excuse my hayfever-ish puffy's that time of year! 

Happy sewing! 

The UsefulBox Make, Sew & Gather Weekend Retreat

I am super pleased to announce our very own Make, Sew & Gather Weekend Retreat!  
Take some time out for you with other makers and crafters over the weekend of  28-30 October in Ingleside, near Manly. This special time enables us to gather to learn new skills, broaden our knowledge, meet new like minded friends and above all, treat ourselves by doing something that you love doing!

We all love making and this is a chance to share in the wonderful and nurturing making community.

Learning from some of the best in the business, you will take your sewing, pattern making or knitting to the next level. Or even take the time to learn something new, such Fabric Painitng! And what better way to do that than in the relaxing and peaceful surrounds of our retreat with your tribe!

After the weekend is over guests will feel revitalised, encouraged, proud that you've learnt new things and excited by new friendships!

More details here.

The Weekend at a Glance

Residential guests will arrive by 6pm for a welcome canapé and drink reception, followed by a delicious 2 course meal.  Staying overnight in deluxe twin share rooms.
Our day guests join us for workshops, lovely lunch and more workshops.  You can choose from a full day workshop or 2 x half day workshops. All meals are included for both day and residential guests. Residential guests will stay on for another tasty meal and spending time with new friends followed by a lovely sleep!
Residential guests will pack up their bags after a hearty breakfast ready for the day guests to arrive and start with more workshops.  Again choosing from a full day workshop or 2 x half day workshops.  Our day will wrap up at 430pm with enough time to get you home recharged for the week ahead. All meals are included for both residential and day guests.
We will be escaping to the leafy surrounds of the Sydney Conference and Training Centre in Ingleside near Manly in Sydney. 

The accomodation rooms will be twin share and with their own bathroom. Tea and Coffee making facilities are available in room too for those much needed quite moments.  All rooms look out onto the surrounding bushland and are air conditioned for extra comfort.

If you are coming along with a friend, we can easily arrange for you to be roomies.  If not, we ask for your nocturnal preferences and try to room you with a similar person i.e.:  night owls together and sleepy heads together.

As for relaxation, there is a lovely pool to laze by and plenty of lovely bushland to stroll through. Perfect for a complete get away!

Our weekend is all about making and learning new things within our beautiful making community.  It is about gathering together to learn, share and experience.  We are busily building workshop schedule that will bring guests all that!  
Below is a list of all the workshops that we are developing and super excited about. You may like to focus on the one workshop for the two days, or a different workshop each day, or even 2 workshops on the Saturday and 1 workshop on the Sunday. 
You can choose from the following workshops:

Saturday Morning Workshops

  • *  Colours - how to choose the right colours and silhouettes for you with Kash from The Style Doctor
  • *  Weaving/Macrame

Saturday Afternoon Workshops

  • * Mending and upcycling with Kate from Sewing with Kate
  • *  Fabric Painting with Saffron Craig

Saturday Full day Workshop

  • *  Knitting - Getting past the basics

Sunday Full day Workshop

  • *  Sew your own Lingerie with Susan Goodwin from Measure Twice, Cut Once
  • *  Sew your own Geona Tote bag with Anna from Blogless Anna
  • *  Japanese Sewing Patterns for beginners with Jillan from Sew Unravelled

Saturday & Sunday Full day workshop

  • *  Pattern Block making with Emily from In the Folds

You can see more information on workshops and teachers here.

This is going to be a super fun weekend and I am so excited to be hosting it.  Keep an eye out on our Facebook page, Instagram or sign up to the newsletter for more information on workshops and teachers....along with prize draws!

If you are as excited as us, purchase your ticket now before you miss out!

Ticket types

Sewing Patterns 101: How to buy a sewing pattern

With most of my beginner sewing lessons, I dedicate some time to explaining why we use patterns, what to look for and how to read them.  I feel that lots of beginners are overwhelmed by this process and it puts them off even starting to sew. I don't want that!

So I thought I would start a little series, Sewing Patterns 101,  on all those tricky questions to get you started.  Over the next few posts, I will take you through how to buy patterns, how to read the back of the pattern to know how much fabric to buy etc, how to read the instructions and how to lay out including what the grainline means and how important it is.

First let's take a step back and explain how we get hold of a pattern in the first place.  There are three main ways to buy a pattern. 

1: Big 4 Pattern companies - Vogue, McCall's, Butterick and Simplicity

The more traditional way, is to choose the pattern from a huge book at a fabric store such as Spotlight or Lincraft (or Joann's or John Lewis for our international readers). 

The main pattern companies, or known as The Big 4,  are Vogue, McCall's Patterns, Butterick and Simplicity (which includes New Look and Kwik Sew).  At your local fabric store, there will be large books dedicated to these companies.  They usually produce one book per season and the book is broken up into different garments with dividers such as dresses, separates etc. 

I've been known to spend hours going through these book pouring over the pictures and making sure I was making the right choice as they aren't cheap especially as a Fashion Design Student.  Thankfully the stores provide a chair, although the space given to this in the store is reducing more and more. 

When you have chosen the pattern you would like, you take note of the company along with the number you see in big letters on the page.  In this example in the photo above, the pattern company is Simplicity and the number is in the top left corner, 2178.  I tend to take photos of them on my phone as I can never find a pen when I need one. 

Take this info to the serving counter and the assistant should go find it for you in their massive drawers.  And then you have a perfectly folded neat pattern and enjoy that as they'll never be the same again. 

2: Independent "Indie" Pattern Designers

The second way and my favoured way of buying patterns is from an Indie Pattern designer.  These are the new wave of designers who are making their patterns digitally available for download and you can print at home from a PDF file. 

Most print at home files are A4, or letter, sized and you will need to stick them all together using the matching prompts on the pattern.  This can be tedious and is not my favourite thing to do.  

However, Indie designers now offer the file to be printed at a copy shop onto A0 paper which is the largest size.  This is much for practical for time and is quite affordable being $4 per page at my local Officeworks. 

Once you have all the pieces put together or the A0 sheet, you think trace the pattern onto some tracing paper, or trace'n'toile interfacing.  Or as my Mum used, baking paper (Aldi have the widest in Australia!)

My favourite places to buy Indie Patterns are, with suggestions of easy beginner patterns:

3: Pattern books

Pattern books are lovely things to keep and use again and again.  Here are just a few to love.  You might even find some in your local library. 

The most popular in the blogosphere, and for super cute reasons, are Japanese Pattern Books for kids and women.  Here is site to get you started with them - great for beginners. 

Tilly & the Buttons, who featured on the first season of The Great British Sewing Bee, has released a lovely beginner sewing book. The instructions are super clear, the project easy and the photos are super cute.  Buy it here!

I hope this had helped you unlock the mystery of patterns!  They aren't so scary!

I would love to know the what the first pattern you have bought was?

C xxx