Work wardrobe progress

What an exciting title!

When I wrote the last post I already had Simplicity 1541 cut out, and I’ve since sewn it up. I was apprehensive at first because the largest size (size 24) says it has a waist of 99cm, and my waist measures 105 depending on where you are counting my waist, because having a belly kind of throws that measurement out a bit. I should be spot on for the size 24 hips, though, at 122cm. I cut view A (they are all the same except B has piping in the princess seams and C has trim over the top) and length B.

I just wanted a light coloured tshirt so you could actually see the waistband etc. When I bought this (men’s size M. No partying fat ladies, I guess?) the VERY skinny shop attendant said she had one to and was going to wear it out on New Years Eve, because after christmas she is sooooooooooo fat lol! I don’t even know what to do with that.

Anyhoo, I measured the waistband pattern pieces and they were clearly bigger than they said, so I ended up cutting a size 24 for the front, with the hips tapering down to 22, and cut the back at size 22. I muslined that size and the hips were still too big but I cut it like that because I figured I could always take them in, and I wasn’t sure what difference the change in fabric would make. As it turns out, it probably would have fit better straight out of the packet – when I tried on the real skirt it was a bit tight at the hips. I ended up sewing the side and back seams at 0.75cm, so I probably added in as much room as I took out when cutting.

So next time I make it, I’ll probably cut a straight size 24, but take a couple of centimetres out of the centre back, because it’s very gappy there. Not too much, though, because although it feels unnervingly loose when I’m standing, it’s actually fine and (so far) stays put, and it means when I sit down I’m not feeling like I’m being cut in half.

Look at that stright side seam! Delightful. Straighter than when I’m not pulling out the excess, I see.

It’s got a regular zipper, which I forgot to take a photo of, but is pretty neat, especially considering I had to sew it in on a 0.75cm seam allowance! I didn’t bother lining it, which I’m still second guessing. And the pattern comes with a nice lined back vent so I didn’t have to draft one.

I overlocked all the pieces before sewing them together, so I could do a basting fit. I muslined it in an old sheet but that fabric was obviously a lot thinner, which did make a significant difference to the fit. I couldn’t be bothered changing the thread, so it’s overlocked navy. Oh well. I hand did the hem because when I tried it on it was pretty much exactly the right length and I didn’t want to loose any length doing a machine blind hem. It was pretty quick to hand hem anyway, although I think it needs a better pressing because it still looks a bit wibbly. Next time I will cut view B but give myself a bit more length to play with.

Oh and the waistband is not very neat because I accidentally sewed the facing on upside down the first time, and didn’t realise until I’d fought with it for some time, so the detaching and re-attaching process was a bit fraught. You can see the front seams puckering a bit, too. I overexposed the photos so they weren’t just a black blob – in real life, I can see them because I’m looking, but they’re not super noticeable. I wish I’d mucked around with the tension settings a bit more because it does bug me, but I went window shopping today and saw a couple of $80+ skirts with even worse puckering so I guess I can live with it. I’m trying to do a solid job but also not get too precious about things, since I am sewing for a need. I’m not going to faff around with french seams and the like unless there’s a specific reason – but I AM unpicking a lot, because I want wearable garments that I feel good in.

This came together really quickly, and the instructions were suprisingly clear and helpful, where I used them. The Amazing Fit line generally gets good reviews and I would say they are well deserved, if this pattern is anything to go by. I can definitely see this becoming a TNT.


Pattern: Simplicity 1541 bought on sale (the only way I buy patterns) so probably $5

Fabric: Gaberdine from spotters, $13 a metre and I only used one metre. Really nice to work with, actually.

Total cost including thread and notions (but not time): Let’s say $20ish.

Time to sew: About two hours to cut the pattern and muslin it. Time from cutting the fashion fabric to completion, probably another two hours.

Wearable?: Yes, definitely.


Next up is the first Binge Dress  (It’s the School Teacher Dress from Ottobre 05-2011).

It was bright. I should have waited an hour, it’s overcast now and would have been much easier to take photos, both in terms of being able to see the details in black garments, and in terms of not blinding myself.

The fabric is some kind of mystery material from the stash, I am pretty sure it is drill that I bought for a pair of Junipers, but I’m not exactly sure. It was nice to work with – heavy but not too heavy for a dress, takes a pressing well etc – but it does wrinkle like a bastard. I wore it today, ironed it before I wore it, and took the photos about lunchtime. I think I can live with it, but we’ll see. Again it’s a bit more obvious because I overexposed these. And also it is ALREADY LINTY. Just like the first Binge Dress. What is this about? It is not the washing machine, because I haven’t washed the dress. It is just attracting lint from thin air! I could scream. I bought some fabric softener to do a DIY static reducer spray thing, let’s hope that works.

I futzed with the pattern a bit. As I mentioned last time I embiggened it by just adding 2cm to each edge. Then I made the bust dart bigger, to account for neck gape. This worked perfectly on the muslin, but when I tried on the bodice of this version, the armholes were gapey. I took about 1cm off the width of the shoulders, tapering to the armpit, and also put a dart in the armscye which is a bit ad hoc but seems to work pretty well.

You can sort of see the dart coming down from the armpit. Also LINT. GAH!

I started to futz with the dart, too, I thought it came out too high on my bust, then I thought maybe it needed to come from higher up the side seam, I did a few different ones and then ended up going back to the original position and depth. You can see it wanting to make a dart coming from the side (see below), so I might split the dart next time I make it. Or maybe not? I think it looks pretty good as is, actually. I don’t want to over fit it, and my range of movement is REALLY good in this and part of that is that extra fabric. Not sure whether to just keep putting the armpit dart in, or if I can fix that some other way.

There’s also a fair bit of extra fabric in the back sleeve, again for movement.

The sleeve is a frankenstein effort. I took a sleeve from another Ottobre pattern – one of the shirts in 05-2013, which is my size but was still too tight on the arm. I added in a triangle of fabric in the muslin until it fit, and then I cut it down the seamline and used that as the pattern piece. The sleeves were originally just above elbow length, but they were a bit too tight at the bottom so I cut them down about two inches and rehemmed them. I like them this length but would like a version with longer sleeves, so I’ll widen the pattern piece. I also too a LOT of ease out of the sleevecap, by sewing the sleeve as it was into the muslin armscye as it seemed to fit and then just lopping off the excess. Although there was still enough that I did gathering threads to set it in. I am really pleased with how these sleeves turned out. I do not have an easy relationship with sleeves but these ones are good.

Look! I am totally not even cutting off my circulation by standing like this! I am squinting though.

I ended up sewing the centre seam at 2cm instead of 1cm, taking a good 2cm of width out. It is maybe a teeny bit tight on my upper back, but otherwise it’s good. I think this will be pretty standard for me, needing a size smaller on the back. Must try to remember that. I didn’t put a zip in – I tried it on and I can get it on and off without. Although I probably will go back and put it in because it’s annoying to do. But I wanted to finish it quickly because I had a job interview! Just filling in for someone for two months, doing admin/reception stuff, but it will be good experience and also as much money as I was earning in my other, harder job, so I am not complaining. So yes, that will cut into my sewing time! And also makes me very glad I got started when I did, because otherwise I don’t know what I would have worn. I felt good in this dress, which is nice.

I initially wasn’t going to line this, but when I got to the end I decided to line the skirt. I made up the skirt lining (giving myself a bit of extra ease at the hips and pleating instead of darting) but since the skirt and top were sewn together at that point I improvised. I sewed the lining on to the skirt/bodice seam allowance upside down, flipped it back down and topstitched it. I don’t know if that’s clear but oh well. The neck is faced (and I really love how the neckline turned out and how the facing makes it sit), the arms and skirt just turned over and machine hemmed with a straight stitch. I’m glad I lined the skirt and I think next time I will line the bodice if I’m not in a hurry. I also need to tack down the back facings (I cut them a bit short by forgetting seam allowance on one edge) but they can wait until I put the zip back in.

Yeah, the inside’s aren’t the neatest. But the outside is and that’s what counts. Also LINT. UGH!!! Where is it even coming from?? No vent, which is fine, I can walk without restriction and the only time I felt it tug was when I had to step really far to get onto the bus. But I might give it a vent next time because I think it hangs nicer that way.


Pattern: Dress with Variation (School Teacher) from Ottobre 05-2013. The magazine is about AU$13 and I haven’t sewn anything else from it (except for this same dress which I don’t wear because of LINT) so I’m counting the whole cost.

Fabric: Mystery drill, probably from spotters. I can’t imagine I paid more than $9 a metre for it, and I used about 2.5m because it wasn’t very wide, so $22ish.

Total cost including thread and notions: Once I put a zip in it probably $40ish.

Time to sew: About three hours to cut the pattern and muslin it because I did a lot of mucking around and sleeve fitting. Time from cutting the fashion fabric to completion, probably about four hours. Next one will be quicker, a lot of that was dart futzing, and retrofitting the lining took longer than just sewing it in would (although not as long as lining the bodice as well).

Wearable?: Yes, if the wrinkles and lint don’t become more of an issue.

Other notes: I saw a very similar dress in Harris Scarfe today, reduced to $30 down from $100, except the polyester was already fraying and when I tried it on for interest’s sake, the fit was AWFUL. So I feel pretty good about this dress from a fiscal point of view and although it is wrinklier than the poly dress would be, it doesn’t bag and pill so I’m calling it even.

I have another one of these half cut out, because I bought 2m of the gaberdine for the skirt, but the fabric was really wide so I only used 1m of it. I thought I could get a whole dress out of the remains and I was almost right – everything but one back bodice and the sleeves. I bought another 0.5m today to finish it.  I really could use some tops, though, since I have to start actually wearing my work wardrobe soon!



8 thoughts on “Work wardrobe progress

  1. I really like the Binge dress on you and could see it working in lots of variations. Congrats on the job interview – did I read it right that you got it?

  2. Yeah, does that mean you got the job?! I really love the dress – it’s very flattering and stylish. Slightly Mad Men rather than schoolteacher!

    1. I did get it, yes! I think they just wanted it not to be a problem and as long as I turned up semi-presentable I would have got it. Which I did, and then I did! So, good. It’s in the Uni, where I’ve been trying to get employed so I think having that internal experience might be helpful longer term.

  3. I am taking credit for making you sew the dress, and by association, for the new job. My commission is a very reasonable rate based on the sliding Freddo Frog scale.

  4. The dress is fantastic Kate! I’ve made the other version of this and I’m not hot on it, but (a) it scores lots of compliments when I do wear it and (b) seeing your has turned my mind. It will be out of storage come spring! Also think the skirt is really good. I reckon if it was lined it would be a real bonus for the crease problem.

Whadya reckon?

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