Double trouble: sewing for feeding mothers

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Here is what happens when a sewing plan gets all derailed but you end up loving the result.

I had intended to make another false-front McCall’s 6886 dress with this pixelated floral Art Gallery fabric. However, lately I’ve been thinking about what distinguishes RTW garments from home sewing and one of the things I’ve noticed is clothes in shops often make more judicious use of colour-blocking than what I think to do. While turning this idea over I made the previously mentioned nursing bra from the EYMM everyday essentials set. I liked the fit of it so much I decided to throw the previous plans for this fabric out and turn it into a colour-blocked dress using that pattern.

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The pattern includes mix-and-match pieces that mean you can make a bra, top, short dress, midi-length dress, or two lengths of half slip (or, I guess, skirts). This is a hacked version of the short dress pattern. The bodice is a straight XL, medium-cup from the pattern, although I created a front lining piece without the under-bust gathering. It’s attached on the inside with openings in the side seam so that if I don’t want to wear a bra I can have the option of adding some padding, like in a sports bra or swimsuit. Attaching the neckband to the bodice and lining so all the seams were hidden on the inside took more thinking and unpicking (and swearing) that it probably should have, but I got there in the end. If you want to attempt something similar, the key is to sew the neckband on before attaching the lining at the shoulders.

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The skirt part has many more modifications. Firstly, I added two or three inches of length to the short skirt (it was done on the fly and I can’t remember exactly how much now). From the highly technical “hold the pattern piece under your bust and see where it reaches” fitting method I decided I wanted a length in between the two offered. The shorter one is more intended as a slip or nightie, I think. Then I segmented off a waistband from the top of the skirt.

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Thirdly, I slashed and spread it from approximately the hip to give a bit more of an A-line shape. In doing this I don’t think I shaped the hem properly because it dips down at the sides (not particularly obvious in these photos) – next time I’ll make sure to actually measure the centre and side seam to check they’re the same length. The whole thing is sewn on the overlocker and I left the hem raw, though may yet sew it up.

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The construction of the dress is really neat because the pattern has you still attach the negatively eased bra band inside the top of the skirt at the waist seam, so you get a bit of extra support under the bust. It also suggests you could add thick elastic inside the bra band if you need even more support but I figured I’ll mostly wear this with a proper bra underneath so that’s not needed. The only downside is it’s extremely low cut (you can make it more modest by leaving out the gathering and instead overlapping the front pieces further). That mostly doesn’t worry me but after a few times tugging the bodice down to feed it can sag and show the top of my bra a bit. In the above photo I’m wearing it with a nursing singlet, which is a more workable fix as the weather turn colder.

That aside, I was so pleased with this dress that the next night after making it I carved out some time and made another!

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The floral fabric is a cotton jersey with pretty decent two-way stretch (or is it four-way? I’m never sure. It’s rather stretchy) and I used a watermelon ponte scrap I’ve had hanging round forever for the waistband. This black and white one is made entirely from ponte, apart from the neckband, so it’s a firmer fit. I didn’t have quite enough of the stripes to do the skirt as flared as the floral version so I (pattern drafters, avert your eyes) folded the side of the pattern piece at a slightly flatter angle as I cut it out. There’s some pretty boss stripe matching going on at the side seams; I’m proud of that. I used a thinner black jersey for the neckband because the ponte didn’t have the required 50 per cent stretch and left off the bra band. The hem is folded over twice and straight stitched. And… I didn’t change the thread on my overlocker so the whole thing is finished in pale green (the shop had no white), which annoys only me because I can see it down the neckline but nobody else can. I hope.

These are a great pair of summer dresses. Since they’re stretchy, they don’t really need ironing so are excellent for travelling (like, to Melbourne and Winchelsea/Dungatar) or throwing on in case of baby-related clothes malfunction. Perfect!

 

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Morning people

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Now, dear reader, I can hear you looking at the above photo and thinking, “That fabric wasn’t in the sewing plans. One frock and she’s gone off the wagon!” And you wouldn’t be wrong. But!

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It came about because, as planned, I made a sleep bra from the EYMM everyday essentials pattern and then wondered how to wear it in the mornings. My favourite silk dressing gown (bought in a Melbourne alleyway store for my wedding) doesn’t cross over far enough any more and it’s always been rather shorter than is modest when one goes outside to collect the newspaper (yes, I must be just about the last Millenial to get the paper delivered…). As I was musing on all this, the latest issue of Seamwork came out with the Almada kimono as one of its patterns.

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I really like the way the ties fold the front in when the kimono is done up, and the big sleeves. I also like that the pattern has the option for adding a snap at the front to keep the gown closed at the bust (although I lost my chalk mark for where to place said snap and think I may have attached it higher up the neckline than designed).

The maroon fabric is a silk-cotton blend (from memory) that I bought approximately a million years ago when I first discovered The Fabric Store. It’s lightweight but perhaps a bit more crisp and less drapey than the pattern calls for. However, it feels lovely to wear. The trim is another silk-cotton blend from the same shopping trip, which actually has more drape than the main fabric but is interfaced here.

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I couldn’t be bothered making bias binding so I’ve used a pale red and white striped pre-made cotton bias tape to finish the front edge (I wanted aqua but couldn’t find any so this was the closest match in the shop). It and the hem are top-stitched with an aqua thread that matches the cuffs and ties. Inside, the finishes are all French seams, even where the cuffs are attached. I couldn’t tell you if this took two hours to make, as Seamwork promises, because I sewed it in a whole lot of short sessions but it certainly was a pretty quick sew. This is an unaltered XL (based vaguely on bust measurement) but I cut the hem at the 3XL length to make extra sure it offers paper-collecting modesty.

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The shape and position of the sleeves and cuffs has taken a bit of getting used to when wearing the kimono because it’s not a shape I’m familiar with and occasionally movement feels a little restricted across the front shoulder — bizarre, I know, in a garment with so much ease. I’ve worn this basically every morning since making it, so that’s a big hit.

The sleeping bra that started all of this is also a big hit. It’s made from eucalyptus-coloured jersey (probably cotton) with excellent two-way stretch. I sewed the whole thing on the overlocker (bar the gathering stitches, but they’re basically just basting) in one relatively quick late-night session. It’s really comfortable to wear and perfect for breastfeeding. In fact, I liked it so much I’ve made two dresses from the pattern as well!

 

Planning day

In the interests of keeping my sewing brain from skit-skatting around and actually shopping the stash this year (never mind that many of these fabrics were bought in the past month…) I’ve been thinking ahead about what to make and what to make it in. Herewith my plans as they stand right now; perhaps making them public will keep me accountable. Or perhaps not. 

  

Already on the cutting table is a Grainline Alder shirtdress in this tencel chambray. I’m going to make view B and am contemplating whether to use the wrong side of the fabric as accents in the button band, collar and possibly pockets. Having held the pattern pieces up against me, I also think I’ll add a couple of inches in length. 


I couldn’t resist this fleece at Spotlight the other day and bought a couple of metres (and nearly-matching green ribbing) with the intention of making a zip-up hoodie. I could modify the Thread Theory one I’ve made a bunch of times but the shape of the Jamie Christina Sol is exactly what I’m after without any extra work.

  
I bought the True Bias Sutton blouse as part of a pattern bundle (I think) and have been intending to give it a go for ages. Hopefully this orange/blue/cream peach skin polyester fabric from Girl Charlee won’t prove as scary to sew as I’ve been fearing. 

  
I bought this metallic polka dot French terry from Miss Matatabi with the intention of turning it into a relaxed Grainline Morris blazer to wear with jeans. Then it got hot and those plans got put on ice. So here’s to getting it done by autumn!

   
  
 These two I want to turn into more nursing dresses using my hack of McCall’s 6886. The floral is an Art Gallery knit from Addicted to Fabric and the brown/mustard is a double knit from Girl Charlee that was a birthday present last year. I’m intending to show off bothsides of the latter with a further, colour blocking modification to the pattern. Still trying to decide whether the stripes or teeny dots should make up the majority of the dress. 

  
Of course, the Cashmerette Appleton wrap dress. Still need to actually order the pattern, but I bought this polka dot jersey from Addicted to Fabric with it in mind. 

  
I can’t remember what I thought I was going to do with metres and metres of this eucalyptus-ish jersey (it’s more green in real life than the grey of this photo) but now I’m going to use a tiny bit to make either a bralette or top from the EYMM everyday essentials pattern. 

  
Finally, there’s this remnant of stripey jersey from Addicted to Fabric. If the EYMM pattern turns out well, I’ll use this to make the top, otherwise there’s a Lekala nursing crossover top I’ve got my eye on.

I don’t think this counts as a “capsule wardrobe” since nothing really goes together and, um, there are no bottom-half coverings. There are one or two other ideas knocking round in my brain too, such as a couple of cardigans in some lovely merino jerseys, but fabric and pattern haven’t quite come together for those yet. Hopefully these plans aren’t bigger than my sewing appetite! 

Have you had success in planning out your sewing? Or do good intentions get flung out the window when you *need* another party dress?