Sewing the strappy dress: finishing touches.


Today we finish sewing your Strappy dress! If you’ve missed some of the previous posts on this subject, here are the links to all of them:

A word about bias
Front pleats
Bust darts and french seams
Neckline and straps

We are about to put some finishing touches to your dress: finish the straps, centre front and sew the hem.
Continue reading

Sewing the strappy dress: neckline and straps


Today we’ll do the most time consuming part of the whole Strappy dress, which is bias binding the neckline and sewing the straps.

To make the binding this thin look good requires some seriously precise sewing, so don’t start it if you are tired. Executed correctly, it will add elegance and lightness to your dress, so don’t rush it.
Continue reading

Sewing the strappy dress: front pleats.


Pleats are attractive  and functional. Pleats add fullness and movement without bulk.

When I made the first version of the Strappy dress, the front was flat and looked unfinished and lacking. Then idea of pleats occurred to me and it all changed in an instant. Light, airy fabrics need some volume to truly shine, it’s undeniable.
Continue reading

Cape blazer sewing pattern

There’s simply no denying it – cape blazers are a hot trend.

They are everywhere – celebrities are wearing them, stores are stocking them, and you we see more and more of them on the streets.

Once I noticed a cape blazer on Pinterest, it immediately caught my eye. It seemed to be a very natural progression from wearing a blazer thrown over the shoulders that seemed to be all the rage for a short time. Now you can actually wear it AND look casual and unintentionally chic at the same time!

Pinterest board

I can also tell you this – cape jacket is cozy. I hate cold, and at first the sleeve slits seemed like a chilly idea to say the least, but once I had that jacket on it felt like wearing a blanket over your shoulders.
Continue reading

Developing a custom pattern. Part two: the lining.


I’m sure you’ve been hanging out to see how I develop a lining pattern for the modified Simplicity dress, right? :) Well, here it is.

Last time I showed you a personal block modifications to develop a pattern design similar to Simplicity 2550.

Today I’ll show you how I developed a lining pattern for this garment.

The dress I need to line is sleeveless, has a centre back zip, back skirt vent and no facings.
The plan is to make the lining as seam free as possible.
Continue reading

Developing a custom pattern. Part one.


In my line of work it’s pretty normal – a client brings me a sewing pattern with the design she is after, but because she wants some heavy modifications done (or the pattern can not accommodate her figure) the pattern itself can not be used.

To be honest, even if the pattern was usable, I’d still prefer drafting my own. I like having the full control of the ease and, ultimately, the fit of the garment. I also like taking the full credit when the fit is awesome (hehe).

So I thought, why not share my process? Maybe It might be of some interest to you?

And so, this time I have to work with Simplicity 2550 design.

Simplicity 2550

My objective is to make a dress like the red one, but with a scoop neckline, sleeveless and fully lined. This is how I make this happen.
Continue reading

The Melbourne Frocktails Bolero


I’ve always been a bolero fan.

I like the drama, the embroidery, the length. It is also very flattering on my type of figure – the rectangle. The bolero can dress up many outfits, even the most boring tee shirt and jeans.

When I was planning my Melbourne Frocktails outfit, there were a few things I knew I didn’t want. First of all, I didn’t want a frock. For some reason, I never feel comfortable enough in dresses, and an elaborate cocktail dress would make me feel like a fraud. I just feel more myself wearing trousers.
Continue reading

The one and only.


From my previous posts you know that my man is very particular about his clothes. If he could, he’d never go clothes shopping. He hates choosing, trying on, and is very suspicious of the brands he has never worn before (that would be pretty much every brand out there). He approaches new clothes like a wild animal – circling and eyeing them suspiciously. Many clothes never make it to the first wear, most others will get worn only once.
Continue reading

Taming the waist


In my previous post I talked about fit – the difference between correct and perfect fit and why most of us will not like the clothes fit to perfection.

I also showed you the bodice pattern I was working on – it fitted me perfectly and I hated it.

Let me tell you more about this bodice.

This is one of only a few boned bodices I’ve sewn in my entire life. It is also a muslin, and by sewing it I’ve learned a massive lot about my preferred fit, and look of this type of garments. I am almost happy with the way it turned out, the next one should be even better.

boned bodice

To develop this pattern I started with my personal block with 0 cm ease. I adjusted the front princess seam from my sad convex to a much better looking concave shape.

I do admit, this made me nervous: “Oh my god, it wont fit. It will cut in, my zip will split, I won’t be able to breathe, how can it possibly work?”

On a plus size, this adjustment alone took 2 cm off my waist measurement.

Then I sewed 16 bones into the bodice and had my first  fitting.

To my surprise, it was very comfortable, maybe a bit too comfortable. I even had to check several times if it was actually zipped.

boned bodice side view

I wanted more. I wanted that snug, hugging feeling only this kind of bodices can give you.
After a couple of adjustments I finally got it.

My perfect block has -1 cm ease at the bust and -4.4 cm at the waist.

It’s hard to believe that a garment that is 4 cm smaller than you need could be comfortable, but somehow it is. I don’t feel tortured, breathless or sausaged in – only “controlled”. I even started wondering if I could bring it in at the waist even more! If I take it in right here (diggs thumbs into her sides) it will look even more fab!

boned bodice 2

But this, of course, will be a completely different story. This story will be called “Lena sews a corset” and I imagine it will happen eventually. I have already done some research into modern corsetry, it took me places I’ve never been before.

To my surprise, corsetry and tight lacing are still alive and well, with quite huge demand (and an adequate supply) for all sorts of daily corrective wear for both women and men.

Have you heard of waist training? There are before and after pictures of people who significantly reduce their waists by wearing special corsets day and night. There is no way I’d do that, I treasure my comfort far too much, but after I saw what just 4 cm off my waist feels and looks like, I find the idea of corrective undergarments under special occasion clothes very attractive.

The websites for waist trainers advise to start slow – reduction of 3 to 5 inches for your first corset should do just fine.

Wait, what? 5 inches??

That’s 3 times more than my attempt I am so proud of! I will not be striving to achieve that, but this information gave me the range to work with.

And so, I call this experiment a success. A few pattern adjustments and some bones here and there do wonders for one’s self esteem, bringing our figures closer to that ideal image we all have in our heads. I’ll do more of it.

A little more perfect.


I bring up the topic of fit once in awhile, as it is one of my favourites.

We all say we love clothes that fit, but what do we mean by that? Do you like clothes following every curve of your body? I think not, and let me explain.

The reason I started thinking about it again was the trip to bridal salons a week ago. My friend is getting married and I volunteered to tag along and have a good look and feel of the wedding dresses.

My friend is not a standard size, just like most of us, but the dresses were. It was even more interesting to see her try those dresses because I’ve sewn for her before and I made her a custom block. Theoretically, none of those dresses would be even close to perfect fit for her body.
Continue reading