FIONA SUNDRESS by Closet Case Patterns

I get so darn excited when I finish a sewing project that I just have to share it straight away.   Ideally I would love to take the time to write my blog post before sharing so I don’t have to re post the same garment again.  Maybe one day I’ll get the process around the right way. Or maybe not…..

This was my first time sewing a pattern by Closet Case Patterns and I am super impressed.  Instead of opting for the PDF downloadable pattern this time I decided to wait for the printed pattern to come via snail mail.  I love the watercolour illustrations on their pattern covers and wanted to see one first hand.  I’m so glad I did as there was a little surprise inside of a woven label to sew into my garment.  It’s the finishes touches that count.

My Fiona Sundress was made in a mid weight linen from The Fabric Store in the colour denim blue. The buttons are shell buttons from Spotlight Stores.

I’m sure there are a tonne of blog posts out there on constructing and fitting your Fiona Sundress.  I’m hoping to offer some new content on the construction of this garment.  I love efficiency and always approach garment construction from an efficiency perspective.  I read the instructions but never follow the instructions as a step by step process but instead group my sewing into tasks.

Fiona Sundress

Below are my steps for sewing the Fiona Sundress.  These are an outline only and you can use them in conjunction with the original instruction book if necessary for the detail.  Or they are great to use if you have made the Fiona Dress more than once and want to make it in a more time efficient way.

Group 1:  Iron fusing onto all required pieces.

Group 2:  Overlock all vertical seams on bodice pieces, and pocket facing outer edge.  Move to sewing machine.

Group 3:  Sew all bodice panels together, sew darts in front & back skirt, sew pocket facing onto pockets – trim seams and under stitch, sew straps, sew front & back bodice bands.  Move to iron.

Group 4:  Press bodice seams open, press darts towards side seam, press pocket facing & pocket seam allowance along inner & lower edge, turn straps to right side & press, press seams open on bodice bands.  Press seam allowance under on lower edge of non fused bodice band. Move to machine.

Group 5:  Top stitch pocket facing to pocket, top stitch straps.  Pin pockets to front skirt and stitch down. Move to overlocker.

Group 6:  Overlock skirt side seams.  Move to sewing machine.

Group 7:  Sew side seams together.  Move to iron and press seams open.  Move to sewing machine.

Group 8:  Sew straps to fused bodice band, sew fused bodice band to front bodice, sew bodice to skirt. Move to iron and press seams.

🛑 FIT GARMENT TO ENSURE STRAP POSITION IS OK.  CHECK OVERALL FIT AND ADJUST IF REQUIRED.

Group 9:  Stitch remaining bodice band to dress, top stitch bodice band down.  Move to Iron.

Group 10:   Press hem & hem turn, press centre front facing.  Move to machine.

Group 11:  Top stitch hem & front facing.

Group 12:  Mark button hole positions, sew button holes, cut button holes, mark button position, sew buttons on (I do this with my sewing machine – see sewing tip on Yari Jumpsuit blog post)

GIVE YOUR GARMENT A FINAL PRESS

Fiona Sundress

Thankfully I was patient enough to make a tiole of this dress in calico first as it did require a few fitting adjustments for my body shape.  I started with the size 8 pattern but had to add a little bit of room into the hips and bust and reduce the waist quite a bit.  As you can see from the image below the original fit was not great for my body.  The dress was also saggy at the back side.

First fit of my Fiona Sundress

The online pattern adjustment guide for the Fiona Sundress made the bust adjustment really easy.  To achieve a good fit through my waist and across my butt I decided to add an additional two darts to the back skirt.  I also lengthened the middle back darts slightly.  If I had taken all of the excess through the two back darts the dart point would have been quite severe and the final shaping not as smooth.

Adding 2 more darts to the back skirt

I’m not sure about anybody else, but fitting on yourself can be quite difficult. Especially when it comes to fit issues on the back of the garment.  I mark all of my adjustments on my calico tiole before transferring it to the fit stand for final analysis.

Be sure to transfer all of the pattern notches onto your edited pattern pieces. You will be grateful you took the time to do this during the sewing process.

#ochrechallenge AND practicing patience

Patience | the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Sewing and patience go hand in hand. This project was a friendly reminder of that. Have you ever worked on a project where it feels like everything is going wrong and nothing is working out? There were many moments through out this project that I felt exactly that. Thankfully I had a little voice in my head that reminded me of patience and the importance of practicing patience. I was able to take a step back, rethink what I was doing, breathe, slow down and end up with a summertime set that I am really proud of. Maybe slightly more cropped than I had imagined, but oh well 🤷🏻‍♀️, it’s nearly summertime here down under.

Twining is winning

This is my entry for the #memade #ochrechallenge and I am in love with the new #twinset to hit my wardrobe. This beautiful, mid weight linen was purchased from the The Fabric Store and the pattern was created by me using my skirt block and a touch of guess work and free hand for the top.

I really want this blog post to be less about the overall making experience of this summertime combo and more about the emotional roller coaster that comes with creating. The whole process of coming up with a design, choosing the fabrics, patterning & testing your design, making the finished product and putting out there for the whole world to see (and very few actually see it 😂😂) can be quite daunting. For me anyway. You are bearing your soul through your craft and fear can be a killer.

I wanted to create an outfit that screamed minimal simplicity & effortlessly cool. This was a long way from the place I started. I have a tendency to over design. To create outfits that have an impact and wow factor but then end up in the back of my wardrobe to never see the light of day.

I was so excited about my original top design. It had big puffy sleeves with an 80’s vibe and a fitted cropped crossover bodice. Three toiles of the top later it was time to take five and reassess the direction of this design. Who was I kidding. I would never wear that top in public. It was certainly not minimal simplicity nor effortlessly cool.

Original top design

Looking back through my inspiration pages it became clear that the right top was a simple tie front top that could also be a wrap top. It would make the perfect partner to my wrap skirt. Round four of toiling began. This time it went off without a hitch. A few adjustments where required for both the skirt and top but I was able to make those adjustments and move to cutting in my final fabrication.

However, the actual sewing process didn’t run that smoothly. After sewing right sides to wrong side, overstitching darts, unpicking, pinning facings on incorrectly I heard that little voice in my head again. Patience.

Mistakes

There are few things we do in this life that require us to be truly present. Sewing is one of those things for me. Yoga is another. To do a beautiful job I have to be fully focused on what I am doing or the mistakes creep in. Each step is important. To build a beautiful garment you need a good pattern and the right fabric. You have to be willing to change course if something is not working out, to unpick when something is not sewn well, to press each and every seam as you go.

Tie top to wrap top

Through practicing patience I was able to create an outfit that I am really happy with and will get worn a lot over the coming summer months. The skirt is going to be a great all year round piece in my wardrobe when styles with a chunky knit in the cooler months.

Sunday summertime stylingWinter styling

Sewing Tip

I’m a big fan of block fusing.  It saves time and beats trying to line up your main fabric with your fusing at the ironing board.  It also saves your iron and iron cover from getting covered it fusing glue.

Cut a square or rectangle of fabric big enough to fit all of your fused pieces and a piece of fusing slightly smaller. Iron your fusing to the fabric in a block.

Iron fusing to main fabric in a block

Then you can cut out you fused pieces in one go.  No more fiddling at the ironing board!

 

 

The Yari Jumpsuit

This week I sewed my first ever pattern from True Bias.  I was beyond excited when I stumbled across the Yari Jumpsuit on The Fabric Store blog two weeks ago. I knew from the moment I saw it that I needed that Jumpsuit in my life sooner rather than later.

A good Jumpsuit has become a wardrobe staple. I love that you can wear the Yari Jumpsuit super casual or style it up with heals and an evening jacket.  A multipurpose wardrobe is an efficient wardrobe!

Until recently I didn’t even realise that there was such a thing as downloadable, print at home patterns. In all honesty, I have been completely naive to the amazing network of home sewers and pattern makers that share their knowledge and creativity through online channels. I am amazed at the numbers of indie pattern labels that exist and can’t wait to bring more of their amazing work to life, adding in my Marsha Style hacks along the way.

The print at home pattern for the Yari Jumpsuit was a total of 66 A4 tiles that where glued together to create the pattern. Due to my limited space at home I glued sections and cut out pieces as they became complete. I found the process quite satisfying. It took a total time of two glasses of my favourite Rosé to complete the task.  I have since discovered my local Officeworks prints AO size and will definitely take that route next time.

While the cost of the downloadable pattern is cheaper than the printed version, the added costs of printing does make these patterns quite exy.  However, in saying this, the shipping costs and time delays when purchasing a printed pattern from the other side of the world are also significant.  My personal choice hands down is the instant gratification of the downloadable pattern.  Also as a pattern maker myself I appreciate the time and effort these small indie pattern labels put into creating their patterns.

My fabric choice was a mid weight linen from The Fabric Store in Gravel. Big shout out to The Fabric Store for their super speedy delivery.  The width of the fabric was 52” so I opted to buy 3.25mts. I made the Yari Jumpsuit in a US size 6 (equivalent to AU size 10) and was able to cut the pattern from 2.75mts.

I highly recommend laying your entire pattern prior to cutting to figure out your best possible yield. Fabric is money and should be used wisely with minimal wastage.

5C7523F2-C572-4F2D-93F9-F66F7FCA7EED

The Yari Jumpsuit pattern was notched very well and the sewing instructions where very clear and easy to follow. To achieve a great finish on your garment be sure to press seams as you go. I am a big avocate of pressing my hems before sewing as well.

It took me approximately 4hrs to cut and sew my Jumpsuit as well as the two glasses of wine to glue and cut the printable pattern. I am so happy with the end result and have already thought of how I am going to sew my Yari Jumpsuit next time and add a little Marsha Style twist to it.

I am quite long in the torso so next time around I am going to add about 2.5cm length through the waist just to drop the crotch slightly.  Otherwise the fit was spot on 👌🏼.

TAKE AWAY SEWING TIP

If you dislike hand sewing buttons as much as I do try sewing buttons on with your machine. It’s super easy. All you need to do is remove your foot, turn your machine to zig zag mode and reduce your stitch length to zero. Hold your button in place and lower the foot shank onto the button just behind the holes. Zig zag by hand for a couple of turns to ensure the machine is stitching from hole to hole and then put the pedal to the medal for approximately 8 stitches.  Your button is now secured with no hand stitching required.

My Summer Top

This is a great little top to tackle if you have worked with store bought patterns before and have a basic understanding of garment construction.  If you get a little lost at any point, breath and re read previous steps.  Once you get it and make it, you will love it.

You will need a tape measure, pins, pencil or pacer, rubber, ruler, triangle ruler if you own one, paper scissors (that will double as a paper weight) and some patterning paper (brown paper roll will also do the trick).

First steps is to measure your top of bust – so under the arms, around your back and across the top of your bust.  My measurement for this is 84cm.  Add 3cm to this measurement which is 87cm for this example.

So the side seams have enough room to get around the bust you want the front patter piece to be 5cm bigger than the front.  Stick with me here and work out what the front  and back measurements will be across the top.  In my example it will be 87cm – 5cm which equals 82cm.  Divide 82cm by 2 which equals 41cm.  The back bodice across the top will be 41cm.  The front bodice across the top will be 41cm + 5cm or 46cm.  To check your calculations add your front and back measurement together to make sure it equals the original measurement.  In my case 41cm + 46cm = 87cm.

FRONT BODICE

STEP ONE:  Lets start by making the front bodice pattern.  The simplest way is to create your pattern piece is on the fold or on the half.  To get the measurement for the top of your half front pattern divide 46cm by 2 which equals 23cm.  Add 2cm to this line making it 25cm to start with

Draw a line down your page that which will be your centre front or fold line. You can make the length of your top what ever you want.  I’ve gone for a length that sits at the top of my hip bone which was 32cm.  From this draw a line at a 90 degree angle at the top 26cm long. At the bottom of the CF line draw another line at a right angles to mark the hem.  The top flares out slightly at the hem so I have added an extra 5cm making my front hem 23cm + 5cm equals 28cm.  See images below as a guide.

STEP 2:  The next step is to prepare your side bust dart position.  Dart are very important to create shape and contour for the body.  In the pattern making world there is a term called bust circ which refers to the area that your bust sits.  A general allowance for the bust circ is 7cm.  To identify bust level mark a line 7cm down from the top of your top pattern.  We want the dart to be an angled dart so mark a point 4cm down from this bust line at the side seam.  Mark a point along the bust line 8cm in from the side seam.  Draw a line from the mark on the side seam 4cm below the bust line to the dart point 8cm in from the side seam along the bust line.  Follow the image above.

STEP 3:  To create a dart you need to transfer the area of the dart into another part of the pattern.  We are going to create the bust dart by transferring the dart area into the top of the bodice around the area that the straps will join.  This is why we made the top line slightly longer at the beginning.

The next step is to mark the strap position at the top of the bodice.  My straps are going to be 2.5cm wide and sit 9.5cm in from the centre front.  This was a good position for the straps to cover my bra straps.  Finish this stage by drawing a line from dart point to the outside edge of the strap. See images above for further guidance.

You will need to cut out your paper pattern to create the dart.  Once your pattern has been cut out, cut along the angled lines that end at bust point but don’t quite cut through so you can spin the paper and create your dart.  See the first image above as an example.

STEP 4:  Pin your pattern to a new page and spin your dart to create a 3cm gap for the dart.  Once you have created you 3cm gap pin the top part of your pattern to the page ready to trace of your front pattern piece.  Marrk a point in the centre of your dart and draw a line from the dart point to past your side seam.  Extend the side seam down in a line to meet your Center day and then shape back to the side seam.  This will ensure your dart will fold down correctly when sewing.  Mark a point 3cm down from the old top of the side seam which will become the new side seam finish point and trace around your new front pattern piece.

STEP 5:  To straighten the front hem line once the garment is on the body I have added 3cm to the centre front body length at the hem.  This is shaped back to the side seam.  The final step is to add seam allowance to the front bodice pattern piece.  I have added 6mm to the top, 1cm to the side seam and 4cm to the hem.  At the hem I am going to do a 1cm turn followed by a 3cm fold to create a nice wide hem.

STEP 6:  The final step to finish your front bodice is to cut it out, mark you CF on the fold, notch your strap points & hem and finally label your pattern piece as per below

F1BFF5B0-7F03-4E5B-AC8A-5868F8AFAB21
STEP 6

BACK BODICE

STEP 1:  Grab a fresh piece of paper and mark a straight vertical line that will be your Center back that is 29.5cm long.  From this line draw a line at a right angle at the top that is half your total back body measurement that you calculated at the beginning. In my case it was 41cm divided by 2, 21.5cm.

Draw another line at right angles to your centre back line at the bottom that is your half centre back measurement at the top plus 3cm.  21.5cm + 3cm = 24.5cm.  Connect this with the top back bodice.

Pattern making is all about angles.  So that your front bodice & back bodice have a nice flow through at the hem, raise the side seam at the hem by 0.5cm and redraw your hemline as per the image below.  This will prevent a point from forming at the hem.

STEP 2: Mark the position for the back button which is slightly less than half the total back bodice distance at the top.  My button position will be 9.5cm in from centre back and 1.5cm down from the top edge.  The next step is to add your seam allowance.  I have cut out my pattern and retraced due to all the writing on the pattern piece but you could add seam allowance to your existing pattern piece.

STEP 3: Add 6mm seam allowance to the top, 1cm to the side seam and 4cm to the hem to match the front bodice pattern piece.

STEP 4:  The final step is to cut out and label your back pattern piece.

7E4CFCDE-E14B-47F2-A1D1-DB7E3EE77457

FACINGS AND STRAPS

STEP 1:  Pin your front and back pattern pieces to a clean piece of paper and trace around the top half of the patterns.  I have made my facing pieces 13cm one at the side seams and centre back and 15cm long at the centre front.

STEP 2: Cut out and label your front and back facing pieces.  Depending on your fabric choice you may need to fuse your facing pieces.  My top was made in a mid weight cotton / linen blend so there was no need to fuse my lining pieces.

STEP 3:  The final pattern piece for this style is your straps.  My finished straps measurement was 45cm long x 2.5cm wide.  To achieve these finished measurements draw a rectangle 47cm x 7cm to allow SA 1cm seam allowance.

907789CA-C3AA-4740-99FF-D0210FB43CB8

You now have all your pattern pieces ready to cut out your very own simple summer top.  Please see a quick overview of sewing instructions below.

SEWING INSTRUCTIONS 

This top really suits mid weight linen or linen / cotton blends.  If you use a mid weight / stable fabric there is no need to fuse your facing pieces.  You could also make this top in a plain or printed rayon or viscose.  I would recommend fusing your facing if you are going to use a lighter weight fabric such as this.

1. Sew front darts in front bodice and front bodice facing.

2. Sew front and back & front and back facing pieces together at side seams.  Overlock side seams and lower edge of facing.

3. Fold straps in half along the long edge and sew across one small side and along the long edge.  Turn straps in the right way and single needle edge stitch along long edges of strap and across the end.

4. Baste stitch straps right side of front bodice at notched points.

5. With right sides together sew the facing to the bodice along the top edge.  Understitch seam to facing and press well.

6. Stitch lower hem.  To do this I first iron the hem folded over at 4cm and the turn under another 1cm to give a clean finish.  Iron and pin hem to make stitching the hem easier.

7. Sew button hole on ends of straps and sew buttons to back body.

Your little summer top is now ready to wear.  Goodluck and please ask if you have any questions.