Claire and Cherry Pie

Sew City – Sew Country! Project 1: Pinterest Challenge

Well hello there!  Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here lately, I was sewing my butt off in preparation for Ballarat Beat 2016 (because a lot of my clothes are now on the rather snug side thanks to new medication) and working on some rather exciting projects coming up this year.

Let me introduce you to the first of those projects, a collaborative sewing challenge with my dear friend Stacey from The Little Taylor.  Stacey and I have worked together for photo shoots, catwalk shows and market stalls for a number of years now but the distance between our living locations can make it difficult:  I am in the heart of Melbourne and she is in the country town Shepparton, 190km away.  We both share a love of sewing and vintage fashion which has lead us to our current careers – hers in Sewing and Embroidery and mine in Millinery.

A little while ago Stace was telling me about Sew Weekly, where the authors and anyone who wants to join in make a garment each week according to their chosen theme.  We both loved this idea, but for Stacey, working and having her own projects meant that a project a week was a little too much and for me, well, I ended up making only 4 garments last year thanks to an incredibly crappy health run, so we settled on one project a month.  And thus Sew City – Sew Country was born!

We have created a list of 12 fun challenges to get us through to January 2017 and encourage anyone who is interested to join us along the way!
To get started we settled on that well-known addiction of creatives everywhere…


Yep!  I spend a LOT of time browsing Pinterest, it’s easy to do, so we decided to create a sewing challenge for it.  Our challenge for February was to create something inspired by something you have found on Pinterest – so really the sky’s the limit!

Now I have quite a few posts on my Pinterest account but there is one thing I have been wanting to make for a long time: a shirtwaist dress.  They are such an iconic look from the 40s and 50s and to me they positively scream effortless glamour – actually they would never scream, they don’t have to, they are attention-grabbing enough on their own.  I particularly love the fuller skirts of the shirtwaist dresses from the 1950s and used these two images as my inspiration and it’s a pure coincidence that they both have polkadots!

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Left is an image from 1952 and Right is from 1955, referenced on Pinterest as being by Vogue.

Aren’t they stunning!

Here is my version of the shirtwaist dress, I made it to wear to the Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival over Valentines weekend.

o complete the look I wore my fabulous vintage felt hat from poppycock Vintage, Brooch by Lady A Broad, Vintage gloves and bag and repro shoes

Then I got changed because it was too windy for the hat (which made me really sad because i’ve been waiting ages to debut it! but I was also happy because it meant an accessories change, which meant I could show off my new vintage bag)

his time around I’ve got shoes by Hot Chocolate Designs (omg so comfy!), Vintage bag from Word From The Bird and hair flower by me

Bright red is surprisingly difficult to photograph on a glary day…

Here’s a rundown:
My dress is made of red Broderie Anglaise
IMG_4603It is fully lined with red cotton lawn – so it’s not appropriate for very hot weather!
It has hidden inseam pockets
It has a side zip and functional buttons that go to the waist
It has a gathered skirt
It has a collar and cuffs
And it’s quite comfortable and stylish!

It would have been a good idea to go and buy a shirtwaist pattern that was exactly what I was looking for, but instead I decided to frankenpattern my dress from a bunch of different things and directions…
I used Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing for directions on drafting collar and cuffs and had the shirtwaist dress in there as inspiration.  But I wanted my dress to have a fuller skirt and couldn’t be bothered with bound buttonholes this time around (one day I will face this challenge!).  To get the fuller skirt I followed the directions for making a Dirndl skirt from the same book.
For the bodice of the dress I used Colette Patterns Peony dress, which is a boatneck shift dress, and made some alterations to the neckline to make it more compatible with a collar.

After I finished the dress I bought this pattern, isn’t it always the way!  Kimono sleeves weren’t really what I was going for with this dress, but its a lovely pattern!  Good old Butterick reprints!  I may have to make this one too at some point.


Retro Butterick pattern B5556, originally printed in 1955

So there we go, that was sewing challenge number one!  I may have accidentally gotten fusible interfacing stuck to my iron and ironing board cover doing the cuffs (oops) and there was quite a bit of hand-sewing involved thanks to the lining, but it was a labour of love and I love it <3

Stacey’s pinterest challenge was very different to mine, you should check it out!  I may be rather jealous of her embroidery machine!!

If you’d like to join in for our next challenge (or are just interested to find out what it is) in March we are hitting Op Shops to revamp something we find there!  Our Op Shop revamp challenge will be interesting because there’s no rules about exactly what can and can’t be revamped.


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