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  1. blog_squareneckdress01

    Every now and then I have a little wander around the internet, searching for "square neck dress" patterns. This style has been a basic staple of wardrobes since the 1940s, and I love seeing all of the different ways it's been styled. This one is from the 1960s, and I have to admit to LOVING the hat!


    The orange dress in the middle of this late 1970s pattern ticks two of my personal favourite boxes - elbow-length sleeves (bonus points for puffiness), and a ruffle at the hem. I can imagine a sleeveless one layered over the high-neck version too, for winter warmth. 


    This one is from the early 1960s. It's not clear, but I think it's supposed to be a nightdress. The version on the left goes all the way to the floor, and again, I do love a puffy sleeve. A nightmare to squash underneath a cardigan, but so cute! And the one at the back with the ruffle and the belt? Definitely not a style to be confined to the bedroom! 


    Aaah, the 1980s. More belts, more ruffles, more puffed sleeves. This depiction could only be improved with blue mascara and a pair of pixie boots. 


    The 1970s bring a lot of fantastic versions of this dress, often in children's sizes. I love its versatility, from floor length all the way up to blouse. And the little red t-bar shoes on the right? Yes please! 


    This is a slightly more grown-up version of the 1970s look, perhaps just ticking over into the early 80s - it's really hard to tell with some of these. I love the angel sleeves, and the almost crop-top version on the right. And just look at that button detail on the cuffs of the long sleeves! 

    I'm thinking that sleeves and ruffles are going to need to make an appearance on some dresses near you very soon...

  2. eternal magpie recycled fabric maternity dress

    You might have seen this Space-themed fabric whiz past on social media last week... I did say it was already spoken for, and now it's a dress. As we haven't had a #dressupatree for quite a while, I thought it was time to take one of my traditional lilac tree photos for you! 

    What you may not be able to tell by looking at these pictures is that it's actually a maternity dress.

    It's a pick-and-mix project, with the yoke (the shoulder straps part) in one size, the body in another, and a fair bit of extra width and curve added to the front panel, just to make sure there's plenty of room.

    eternal magpie recycled fabric maternity dress

    As the dress will only be needed for a couple more months, I've made sure that it can also be easily de-maternitified (is that a word?) so that it can be worn again afterwards. 

    It will result in a seam - actually a great big dart - right up the centre front of the dress, but that will largely be hidden in the folds of the fabric, and it will give a comfy dress a much longer wearable life. 

    I can also take this pick-and-mix approach to any dress, not just for maternity purposes! If you're feeling a bit confused by the size chart, and not sure what's going to fit, you can send me your measurements and I'll make you a dress that's just right!

  3. eternal magpie: custom simple sweatshirt dress

    That's more like it! 

    I know the neckline and pockets look a tiny bit wonky on the dress form, but that's mainly because it was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING outside this morning, and I didn't take the time to line everything up properly because I just wanted to get back indoors into the warm! They're nice and neat in Real Life, I promise.

    This is New Look 6298 - the pattern says it's easy, and it means it. Admittedly I didn't feel like embracing the details of making the v-neck nice and neat at the front, so I made view C, round neck and pockets, with the long sleeves from views A and B. 

    It's made in two colours because once again I was working with two short pieces of fabric rather than one long one, but at least there was no design to get upside down this time! The fabric is a gorgeous organic cotton sweatshirt fleece from the Organic Textile Company. I think the colours are Dark Grey and Grey Melange. I'm not certain because I bought it as part of a remnant bundle, hence having two smaller pieces instead of one big one. 

    The fabric's nice and wide, so from two 1-metre pieces I still have plenty left over to make the sleeves and pockets for another one! The reverse side of the fabric is white and brushed and fluffy, and I expected to look as though I'd been rolling around in a field of dandelieons by the time I'd finished sewing. Thankfully that wasn't the case, and aside from a little bit of fluff in the overlocker the fabric didn't shed at all. Just as well, as I was rather foolishly wearing a black jumper while I was making it!  

    The only even remotely fiddly bits in this dress were the corners of the pockets and the topstitching of the neckline - both a little bit tricky to do neatly in a heavy fabric. Not difficult, just needing a little bit of attention rather than sprinting on through. Next time I'd like to give the v-neck a try, and I think I'd make a shorter version too, so I could wear it as a long sweatshirt rather than a v-neck dress. In fact, I've got my eye on this organic cotton black and white stripy fleece - how good would that look with jeans, or yoga pants, or a long black skirt? 

    In fact, while I'm thinking about sweatshirts and jumpers and warm winter clothes... can anybody recommend a cardigan pattern that would work with a sweatshirt-type fabric?

    All of my existing jumpers and cardigans are wearing out before I can knit new ones, and to be honest unless the pattern is something really special I'd far rather knit little things like socks and scarves. I'm thinking V-neck, hip length or waist length, with buttons rather than a zip or a waterfall style. Suggestions very welcome!

  4. eternal magpie custom Star Wars Hallowe'en dress

    My husband asked me recently why the things I make for myself are never as carefully-made as the things I make for other people. The answer is probably "I'm always in a hurry when I make things for myself, because I feel as though I should be spending all my time on my work instead"... but at the time I protested mightily and said that of course that wasn't true! 

    And then I made this. 

    At first glance, it looks okay. It's a 1993 fit-and-flare shirt dress, Vogue 1290, view C. I've had the pattern... not quite since 1993, but it was certainly one of the first that I bought when I started sewing from patterns in the late '90s. (It's not just me who has 20-something year old uncut patterns in their stash, surely?) 

    I checked the size chart, checked the actual garment measurements... and yet it's still come out far too small. I forgot to make my usual short waist adjustment (I usually shorten the bodice pieces by about an inch), so the narrowest part of the dress sits below my waist, making it bunch upwards. And despite the garment measurements allegedly having a fair amount of ease over and above my body measurements, it's turned out to be far too tight all over. To the point where if I overlap the front pieces to put the buttons in, I've got no hope of actually fastening them. 

    I've bought a bright orange zip from Ebay. I'm going to stitch that in, and hope for the best.

    And then there's the most enormous elephant in the room, which is that the print IS CLEARLY UPSIDE DOWN on the front panels and one of the sleeves. *sigh* 

    I didn't have enough fabric to make the dress, so I bought another piece, meaning that I was working with two 2-metre lengths. I had it all very carefully worked out so that I could fit the back panels on one piece, the front panels on the other, and a sleeve on each, shortening the dress slightly to fit. Sadly, the thing I didn't carefully work out was whether the two pieces of fabric were the same way up when I started cutting out. And OF COURSE the upside down pieces are on the front. That's just the way these things happen. 

    Anyway. If the dress fits once I've got the zip into the front, I'll wear it anyway. Hopefully people will be too busy saying "oooh, glow in the dark skeleton Darth Vader!" to notice that he and ghostly R2-D2 are actually upside down. Fingers crossed. 

    I have to admit that I did think twice about sharing such a glaringly obvious mistake with you all. Then I decided that, you know what? It doesn't matter how experienced you are, at pretty much anything, occasionally you'll still make a really silly mistake - and sometimes it'll be a really big one! 

    To make myself feel better I sewed the world's simplest sweatshirt dress afterwards, which cheered me up no end. I'll show you photos very soon. 

  5. eternal magpie blog: William Morris Envy

    I've seen quite a few adverts around the place for the new H&M William Morris collection, and I have to admit that I was extremely tempted. I mean, who doesn't love a fancy blouse with a William Morris print? 

    I had a little look online and picked out a couple of cotton tops that I thought would look good with jeans, and that I'd wear a lot. Then I tried to buy them and discovered that all of the larger sizes were already sold out, which was very disappointing. 

    At the weekend I was actually in H&M for the first time in about a year (buying a pair of sparkly tights because, with the best will in the world, I can't make those!) and I completely forgot to even look at the William Morris range while I was in there. Oops.

    When I realised, I thought "I don't need H&M! I can buy some Willam Morris fabric and make my own!", so off I went to Ebay to have a look for some curtains or duvet covers or anything that I could turn into a dress or a top. Because it's so popular it turns out that, even second hand, William Morris products are rather pricey. I ended up being outbid on a pair of torn and mildewed curtains (the only thing I could afford!) by 50p, which was anoying, but just as well because... 

    ...when I looked in my wardrobe I realised that I HAVE A WILLIAM MORRIS TOP ALREADY! 

    There it is, on the right. A beautiful Strawberry Thief print, on Liberty tana lawn, in a gorgeous purple and mustard colourway. 

    In all my excitement of "I MUST HAVE A WILLIAM MORRIS BLOUSE", I'd completely forgotten that I already have one. And it't not even something that's been hidden away in the back of my wardrobe for ages - I wear it all the time! 


    I was going to set up a search on Ebay so that if they do turn up second-hand in a few months, I'd be ready and waiting.

    And then I thought, you know what? How many William Morris tops does one woman need? Is it more than one? For me, right now, perhaps it's not. 

    (I still want one though. Because apparently I am definitely not immune to marketing, no matter how hard I try!)