October 23, 2014

Party Dress TIme! How to Make A Bustier Party Dress

Making a bustier has been on my to-do list for a while, so when I had a wedding coming up I pounced on the opportunity.

Photos: Michael Dooney

Here is a summary of how I made the dress

1. First step is to find an old bra and pull out the cups.

2. I used the pattern from Burdastyle NR. 144-122008-DL. And made a muslin version. 

3. I chose to use a taffeta for the main fabric

4. Once I had the individual cups, I placed them in the muslin cup and checked for the fit. I marked the alternations and transferred it to the pattern pieces.

5. I then re cut the muslin with the altered pattern pieces to check the fit. Once I was satisfied I cut the lining (the apricot satin) pieces and sewed it all together.

6. Now that I had the lining completed and the fit perfect, I started cutting out the dress fabric. 

7. The next step was to sew all of the cup fabric together and cover the cups, then sew the bodice sections together.

8. I then inserted the cups into the bust and sewed. This bit can be a little fiddly and tricky.

9. I was contemplating whether or not to add the under wire. I thought I would give it a go to see whether it was worth while. Of course it was! If you look at the second image below you can see the difference between the left cup and the right cup. The left has the under wire inserted and the second lies flat without it. Plus it offers extra support. I sewed a channel under the bra cup for the wire to be inserted, then pushed the wire through.
Visit the clothhabit for more detailed instructions on how to insert the bra cups.

10.I then gathered the skirt piece and attached it to the bodice.

11. At the moment I am rather anal with regards to finishing of garments. I used to be kind of lazy with linings and finishings, but now I love to make quality garments from the inside out. The garments last for longer, they feel nicer to wear and it looks a lot more professional. 

Photos: Michael Dooney

Yay! For a fun party dress!

October 20, 2014

Where are the fabric stores in Berlin? Here are my recommendations!

It can be difficult finding fabric/craft supplies in Berlin....BUT! there are quite a few shops spotted all over the city. So I have compiled a list of stores. I have really only included shops in the Mitte, Friedrichshain, Wedding, Kreuzberg, Neukoelln areas as I do not really gravitate to the other side of town (e.g. western suburbs).

Photo: Michael Dooney

Welt der stoffe
This is my favourite fabric store in Berlin with the best selection. They have also started to incorporate notions in the store.
Generally the ladies cut the fabric, give you a receipt. You then pay at the cashier.  


Gebrueder Berger Stoff 
This is a great fabric store with a large selection. There are no prices on the fabrics so you need to ask the ladies for prices.The staff here are generally helpful and polite. There is only fabric here, no notions. You have the fabric cut by the 'cutting ladies' then pay at the cashier.

Image from West End Girl

Seiben Blau
Prenzlauer Berg

A great fabric store specialising in organic and ethical fabrics. They stock jerseys, cottons and more. 
This is your one stop local for sustainable sewing 

Image from Tip Berlin

Frau Tulpe  
Prenzlauer Berg 
 Frau Tulpe has a wonderful selection of cotton print fabrics. I would describe it as a funky quilting fabric store with an emphasis on Japanese fabrics. 


 Maybacher Ufer markets
Kreuzberg - Tues and Friday
This is where the poor sewer needs to head. Nothing in Berlin beats these cheap fabrics. During the winter months they have wool like fabrics and for summer more polyesters and jerseys. Sometimes you can find them at Mauermarkt too. 
Maybacher Ufer - Saturday fabric market


You can get your notions at this store. They have a limited amount of fabric, but for a pretty penny you can get some fabrics.... though they are a little too pricey for my taste



This is a good place for notions. They also stock dress and quilting fabric, but it can be fairly pricey. 


Image from Vom- taubertel

Stoffmarkt Holland 
This is an interesting market to visit. But I wouldn't be waiting around for it to reach your town. I went out to the Potsdam market a few years ago, but was not wowed. It is a little expensive and not too much of a variety.

Image from Naehkontor
Prenzlauer Berg
This is a sweet corner store fabric store. I sometimes find unique remnants here for a good  price. They have a nice selection of unique quilting fabrics. You can also pick up CUT mag here!

Image from 360 Berlin

Frieda Hain
These guys have a nice selection of cute fabrics. Particularly good for sewing for kids.


Image from das macht ich nachts


Stoff Meyer
Stoff Meyer is the premium, designer fabric store in Berlin. If I had money I would visit this shop a whole lot more!
It is worth checking out.

Modulor is a great one stop shop. I get my tracing paper for tracing patterns. They also have some good priced elastic here with a selection of fabrics and notions. They used to have a sewing shop (Naehinsitut) attached to it, but unfortunately they recently relocated.

Image from Paul Knofe
Paul Knopfe 

This is a shop dedicated to buttons. There are a heap of new and vintage buttons. Don't touch anything! You need to ask to retrieve boxes of buttons from the shelves.

 Ostbahnof antique markets
 There is a lady that sells antique buttons from Ostbahnof for a good price, I aptly call her the button lady!

Department stores stock some fabrics, some notions and yarn. Here are some links
Galeria Kauf haus, 
Craft store - idee

There are numerous places where you can find places to sew your own projects.

sewing classes/ sewing work space

Prenzlauer Berg - naehraum
Kreuzberg - modulor, 1000stoff, manyfold

Neulkoelln - Nadelwald 

Image from Nadelwald Neukoelln

If you want to find other fabric stores (perhaps in the western suburbs) then I suggest that you visit Stoff in Berlin 

Happy Fabric Shopping

October 14, 2014

Sewing for my Mental Well-being

I went home to Australia for a short visit and noticed that the television network ABC (the Australian BBC) was really promoting Mental Health week. This made me super excited! Mental Health has unfortunately taken the back seat when it has come to Health, so to see it in the lime light was marvelous. I have worked in the area of mental health for many years now and I work in a holistic sense.... so what has this all got to do with sewing? Read on!

'Why is sewing good for my mental health?'

1. Beat Depression and Burn out. 
In this fast paced world, where many people live and breathe their 9-5 job, it is easy to get burnt out and experience depression. Having something else to come home to can provide some relief. I find that when I am having a difficult period at work, I know that I can shift my focus to my creative projects at home

2. Supportive Sewing Community

You are apart of a fantastic supportive community who are truly passionate about creating! They can brighten your day!

2. Develop patience, resilience and  persistence
Patience - Sewing can force you to slow down and take your time, so in a sense it can help to calm you. 
Resilience - We all have those projects which seem to go all wrong, so you need to be resilient to get through it. Bounce Back and persist!

3. Learn new skills and create new neural pathways!
Learning new skills is good for healthy brain development. Create those new pathways!

4. Experience Flow
I experience moments of flow when exercising and when I sew (or design or print). Flow is when someone experiences total immersion in an activity. For me it is intrinsically rewarding and I experience a feeling of serenity. Here is a good article on flow

5. Pride and satisfaction 
There is always an element of pride and satisfaction when you complete and wear a garment. My proudest sewing moment was on my wedding day when I designed and sewed many outfits for the occasion:)

6. Unleashing creativity.
Unleashing your creativity can be a great outlet for your emotions and it can make you happy!

Martin Seligman specilises in positive psychology and discusses creativity and mental health. So check out some of his work for more info!

Have you noticed the link between positive mental health and sewing?

October 02, 2014

DIY Wedding : Making your own Wedding Cake Toppers: Crocheting & Sewing

Having lived away from Australia, we really wanted to incorporate our love for our country into the wedding. So we added a number of Australian elements. Lammingtons are a cake which originated in Australia.... though it may have come from New Zealand.... no one truly knows, so for the moment I am just going to state that they are apart of my childhood and they are certainly a homely cake. I wanted to make these lamingtons for the wedding, but we were short of time so we had the lamingtons made from a local bakery, Bread Craft. They tasted wonderful and they were a great price.

For the cake toppers I used my Creepy Cute Crochet book as inspiration and used the basic head and body pattern.  


I crocheted the four balls and attached the hair for each. It was fun styling the hair. It made me feel like a hair dresser:)

Crocheting and Sewing
I made the glasses out of polyclay and sewed them on the grooms head, along with the eyes and smiling mouths. I used the fabric from my dress and Michael's suit to create the miniature outfits.

The Cake Stand
I wanted to be creative with the stand and most importantly it had to be cost efficient. Mum and dad had recently done some work in the garden and they had some left over wood in the garden. So I collected these pieces and arranged them on this table and finished it off with some doilies.

The Tumbled Lamingtons
I actually did not know how we were going to present the lamintons on the stand. My mothers artist friend, Jane, got to work on the wedding night and it just turned out perfectly! Mum added more Australian quirks to it by adding the eucalyptus to the presentation. I LOVE this cake! It was so bloody aussie!

There we have it! Our Australian Wedding Cake with cute handmade cake toppers!

September 27, 2014

DIY Wedding: Sewing my Wedding dress & Tips for making your dress

Making this dress was a process. I know that people have said that you should never make your own wedding dress, but I would have to completely disagree. Sure there were some moments of tears and frustration, but the feeling of pride and accomplishment on the wedding day far out weigh the negatives. So here is the story of my wedding dress.........

I certainly knew that I was not going to wear white. I was largely inspired by an Ellie Saab peach dress. Mum and I went fabric shopping, looking for a non white silk chiffon, satin and lace. I would have liked to purchase eco fabrics, but unfortunately they were way out of my price range and difficult to find. So I ventured to a few fabric stores in Perth and eventually found this pink/salmon coloured fabric. It was half price as well!

There were a few key themes that I had in mind when searching for wedding inspiration
1. Everything was going to be DIY 
2. Colour theme - I just love the colours and the romantic feeling in the Sophie Coppola film "Marie Antoinette", so this film was certainly an inspiration 
3. I wanted to incorporate some element of the Art Deco style into the dress
4. The wedding was in January which is the time for  hot Australian Summer days so I needed to take this into consideration, I therefore had to be practical. e.g. no sleeves for the middle of summer!

After scouring the net for months, I decided that there were a few musts.....
1. It had to be a gown
2. Deco inspired lines within the dress. 
3. Backless.

Here are a few images that I collected. Pinterest is of course a great way to collect inspiration. Here is my wedding pinterest. 

Inspiring dresses
Light green satin evening dress, 1932. Charleston Museum.
Katie May dress
Zac Posen
Jenny Packham

I decided to use the skirt section from the Vogue 1032 pattern.


After all of the research I finally made a decision on the design and put my thoughts onto paper. I was planning on the skirt having an ombre effect at the bottom, but ended up scrapping that idea.  


I have not made a gown before and therefore opted to make a muslin version of the dress. I used a Vogue pattern V1032 for the skirt section and draped and drafted the bust section on my dress form. It was difficult fitting it on myself, so I had many versions of the bust, just to perfect it. The most difficult part of the dress to create was the low back. I didn't want straps through the back, so I needed to figure out how to have a backless dress which was practical to wear. I ended up running the straps under the bust and then around the shoulder... if that makes sense.

One thing to remember is that you need to wear your intended under garment for all fittings. I opted not wear anything underneath, in hindsight I should have had chicken fillets for the bust... oh well. 

I made the dress in a similar chiffon/satin fabric as I felt nervous working with the silk chiffon. I read some blogs which detailed different methods for working with fine silk chiffon. I opted for the tissue paper option. It kept the fabric stable and limited any warping. Once I was 90% sure on the design, I started cutting the wedding dress fabric (I was not completely certain about the back, but I just needed to get cutting). 


This part was scary! But once I got into it, it was fine. I just had to double check! I invested in a large cutting mat and made use of my rotary cutter. The cutter made the cutting process a little easier. I then hand sewed the 3 layers of silk chiffon, silk satin and tissue paper together at the edges to avoid any warping.    


I then started piecing the skirt section together and tore off the tissue paper when it was all sewn. I sewed the bodice to the skirt section.

Once it was constructed I got onto the detailing. I hemmed the layers by hand and finished off the edges.


On a trip to London, I discovered this sweet little 1920/1930 inspired store, which stocked wonderful vintage style dresses and  jewellery. I knew that I needed to get this brooch as it complimented the lines in my dress. So I attached it to the centre back.

Unfortunately the photographer did not get any good photos of the back of my dress..gggrrrr. But my cousin snapped a few images. You can see the satin section that I added to the back to hide the zip and make the look cleaner.

One important component to the dress was the reception transformation. I needed to add something which would lift the chiffon train off the floor. So I added a loop to the bottom of the train and added a tie near to the zip so that I could lift the chiffon off the floor. You can see from the middle image how it looked lifted. Perfect for dancing up a storm.

So that was the process of the wedding dress. I learnt a great deal and would love to share some tips with you. 


1. Give yourself a timeline.
I started way too late... got there in the end but in hindsight, needed a timeline.

2. Reduce the pressure that you put on yourself
Reduce the pressure by telling yourself 'this is a great dress for you, at this time in your life'. This does not need to be your 'ultimate dress' of all time.

3. Make sure you have more then enough fabric.
I only JUST made it with the fabric!

4. Collect inspiration 
On pinterest!

5. Trust your decisions and go forth 
If you are an indecisive person, just remind yourself to keep going and be confident. 

6. Be practical about the design, think about the weather and don't be too overambitious
I wanted sleeves, but the Australian summer would disagree. Also be practical about your ideas. e.g. unless your wedding is years away, you won't be able to embroider the fabric.

7. Practice. 
If you feel nervous working with the textiles, practice working with similar fabrics, so that you get a feel for it. 

8. Have fun, persevere and be confident with your decisions!