Tag Archives: fashion

Butterick 5347 – A Breezy Summer Dress

This has already proven itself to be a very wearable summer dress. I found the pattern at my local thrift store and used the smallest multi-size available, which was 16. 

I read recently that the big pattern companies haven’t changed their sizing in a very long time and that you need to use the measurement charts rather than your normal dress size when selecting a pattern. Based on this experience that sounds about right. I wouldn’t buy a ready-made garment in size 16, but this dress was a reasonable fit. Admittedly it is designed to be loose fitting, so there’s a bit of intended wiggle room (aka pattern ease).

Pattern and construction adjustments: roughly two inches of length removed from the bodice, bust dart extended, longer zipper than recommended as I used a zipper from my stash, no hook and eye closure above the zipper, French seams on the side seams which resulted in seams of about 1.8cm instead of the called for 1.5 cm.

What I would do differently next time: slightly lower the bust dart, make a small full bust adjustment, better workmanship on the zipper, stronger stitching at the start and end of the sleeve, follow the construction instructions.

I got myself in a spot of bother by inserting the zipper before sewing the neck/arm facing, which meant I couldn’t turn the two back sections through the facing. I got out of trouble but not turning the facing at the armscye and instead sewing through all thicknesses from the right side. developing the solution took a bit of thinking and was a valuable learning experience. I should, of course, have anticipated the problem, but I didn’t.

Cotton summer dress with cap sleeves

I had the perfect button in my button box


This dress was my first project with my new Janome sewing machine. Rather than spending time sewing scraps I decided to just get on with a real project to get familiar with the machine. I had to unpick a little more than usual but I had a wearable dress at the end of the process. Happy with that.

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Collette Dinnigan at the Powerhouse Museum

Sharing my photos from the Collette Dinnigan exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

Dinnigan Gowns Dinnigan Dresses

The exhibition was beautifully staged and featured lovely gowns for tall, willowy women with tiny waists and no bust – people like Nicole Kidman, who was pictured in one of the gowns on the red carpet.

Ms Dinnigan has moved on from high fashion and has applied her design skills to a large number of other areas including girls wear, which is being sold by the German discount retailer Aldi, in an unexpected alliance.

Dinnigan Girls

Notice how muted the dresses appear in contrast to the background.

The girls wear at the Powerhouse was charming and traditional. It’s no surprise that when the designer’s clothes went on sale at Aldi they attracted a huge amount of interest, including, reportedly from shoppers who would not normally go shopping at a discount supermarket.

Queen Victoria’s Undies

girdles at teh Powerhouse MuseumIt’s hard to imagine the horror and outrage Queen Victoria would feel at the thought of her undies being on display, but on display they are, at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.  I went to see them at an exhibition called Undressed: 350 years of Underwear in Fashion, described on the Powerhouse web site as:

this exhibition features more than 80 garments from the V&A’s extensive collection of underwear, many which have never before been on public display.

The exhibition is fascinating in terms of the garment construction and design but there was a slightly voyeuristic feel to looking at garments that were never intended for public view. Not only would Queen Victoria be horrified at us looking at her undies, undies that have an open crotch seam  but she would be further outraged at our reaction to that open seam, which in her day was considered a healthy approach and a practical one, when dealing with massive skirts and layers of petticoats. At the Powerhouse I learned that knitted rather than woven underwear was considered a great innovation, something I think we can all agree with. What I hadn’t realised was how early this innovation occurred. A set of Machine Knitted Mens’ Drawers from the 1851 Great Exhibition was one of the items on display. Bonds Underwear at the Powerhouse Museum As photography was not permitted for the V  & A items I took photos of the associated displays of 1950’s foundation garments and modern Bonds brand underwear.

Volunteering at Miss Fisher’s Costume Exhibition

This week I had the opportunity to spend another day greeting visitors to the National Trust Property, Rippon Lea. This year the exhibition was of costumes from the popular ABC television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

While I was there I had the honour of meeting Marion Boyce, costume designer for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  She was every bit as vibrant and pleasant as this video indicates and was happy to answer my questions, even though I was just a lowly volunteer.

I spent part of my volunteer day in the accessories room, guarding Miss Fisher’s pearl-handled pistol which was required to be under supervision at all times there was a visitor present, even though it was secured in a glass case. The rest of my time was spent out with the garments, mostly in the room set up to look like Marion Boyce’s work room. She told me that each episode must be put together in 16 weeks, so her work room must be a busy one. The exhibition work room was a popular part of the exhibition that inspired many of the visitors to remember the hat boxes and dresses in their own family histories.

Here are a few photos of the costumes. All were constructed to a very high standard. Godets and bias cuts featured strongly in the dresses and boas and scarves accentuated most garments.

Photography was permitted (no flash) so I took may chance after the exhibition closed.

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