Finally! A craftsy project begins

Finally, after watching Susan Khalje’s the couture dress class I’ve started on my own couture project.

It’s not a dress, as quite frankly couture maternity wear is the point where you need to seek addiction help. No-one sane would do that.

So what is it?



The Winter Cambie

For those in the Northern Hemisphere it’s cooling down, so it’s time to do winter versions of our favourite dresses.  While I’m sewing out of season technically, my office at work has some pretty insane AC so it’s always colder in the office in Summer than it is in Winter.  Go figure.

The Winter Cambie is a brown stripe wool, with a black bemsilk lining.  I’m really fussy about what fabric I use, as anything slightly coarse or with too much textures gives me a rash.  To that end the waistband is not the wool, but also cut from the lining to ensure a nice smooth finish.  I did cut the waistband very carefully out of the main fabric so the stripe runs straight.

The pockets were carefully cut to match the grain of the skirt, however unless I stitch the pockets shut they won’t look matched.  We know they are so that’s all that counts.  Pockets are endlessly useful, and why corporate wear designers are of the general opinion that women in the workforce don’t need functional pockets like men is baffling.  POCKET SEXISM ENDS HERE.

Brown wool winter cambie dress pocket detail

The lining has been prickstitched down, which is a “couture” technique that is really fast, adds a lovely finish and is a perfect job for in front of the teev.   Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing has a great section on how to do prickstitching, and I really can’t recommend it enough for stopping the lining from creeping out of the dress and edges your seamline just to the inside of your dress.


The seams were all pinked with only the hems done on my serger and then catch stitched up by hand on the fashion fabric, and just hemmed by machine on the lining.  I’m still not very confident with my serger use, and using slippery fabric sometimes it likes to try and eat them, which is counter to what my intention was.  The threads also look like the tension on the looper threads is much too loose.  If anyone has tried the serger class on Craftsy I’d love to hear your thoughts/review.


I’m happy with the fit, I cut a straight size ten and it’s very comfortable.  I probably could have cut an 8 through the hips, as the wool doesn’t drape very softly through the hips.  Again I had to shorten the straps by nearly two inches, and the only other adjustment I made was the lengthen the pockets.  While on paper the size is ok, the way the pocket is angled means it was perfect for phone falling out.  I added an inch along the bottom (so the pocket was longer, heading towards my knees) to stop that.  Initially I considered making it wider again, but the pocket would then cut across the darts and add too much bulk.


It’s a wool from GJ’s Discount Fabrics on Lygon St in Brunswick.  It was $12, but actually free as I won a gift voucher 😛  Hooray for free fabric right?  The Bemsilk lining is from Spotlight, during one of their sales I just bought 5 metres of it.


I hand-basted in the sleeves for a good fit and catch stitched the hem.  It’s crazy how fast you start improvising and doing ‘complex’ techniques, as until you try it you won’t realise how EASY it is.  The crescent skirt tutorial on how to insert zips is great if you don’t want to use an invisible zipper.  The finish is remarkable, but the tutorial does read complex until you try it, and take your time thinking about which side of the fabric should be where on your finished garment as it applies to your zip.

Future learnings

I need to find my zipper foot and learn how to use my serger.  I keep cheating on BOTH of these by pinking my seams and using other random machine feet for my singer.

What do you think of the winter cambie?  I was caught in the rain in it the other day without a coat, it was warm however it’s probably still a little lightweight for snow, but the last time it snowed in Melbourne was 1951.