Classic indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

My black denim Cleo dungaree dress is one of my most-worn garments throughout autumn, and this April I decided it was time to add another one to my wardrobe!

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

I made this version out of a lovely indigo stretch denim that I picked up on sale from The Fabric Store back in January, and decided to take the time to add the topstitching details in a pretty golden colour. I love the classic look that this combination gives!

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

I had a bit of a hard time finding dungaree buckles that I liked, and I ultimately went with these sweet bronze ones that I purchased from JM Embroideries & Collectibles. They’re a little wider than the straps, but I don’t think it’s much of a problem.

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

I took my time with pinning and sewing this one, and I’m glad I did – I managed to finally sew the straps down at the exact perfect angle to the back dress this time, without the issues I’ve experienced with previous versions!

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

My previous versions were a size 4 but I’ve lost some weight since then, so I took the time to make up a quick toile of the dress pieces in size 2 to check that the fit would work before cutting into my denim. I didn’t end up needing to make any alterations to the pattern at all this time, which was nice! The size 2 fit very nicely, with enough room to move around and to fit a thicker jumper underneath once winter really hits.

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

As with all of my projects this year, I took the time to add special little details and enjoy the process of putting the dress together, following my ‘quality over quantity’ mantra for my sewing this year. This time, I turned scraps leftover from my Rosery Apparel dress into bias binding and bound all of my raw edges (except the hem) for an extra neat finish and a pretty detail for the insides. I made sure to take my time and go slowly for the top-stitching so my lines were as neat and straight as possible (I used my edge-stitch foot for the first time ever!). And, of course, I added a Kylie and the Machine label as a finishing touch!

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

As always, my favourite thing about the top pocket of the Cleo is that it’s the perfect place to show off enamel pins from my collection! In these photos, I’m wearing a The Good Place pin from Fogagarty, and an ‘Everything is fine’ pin by KC Green. Definitely reflective of the way I was feeling in April!

all the little happy things - indigo denim Cleo dungaree dress

Even with taking the time to make my bias binding strips, binding up all those seam allowances, and going very slowly with my top-stitching, I was still able to finish my Cleo dungaree dress over a couple of days in the Easter long weekend. It was so satisfying to make, and I have loved wearing it – definitely an instant wardrobe classic!

Gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

Remember my gingham Seren separates? I made them much earlier in the year, when it was a little too cool to wear them… and since then, my weight has changed enough that they no longer fit me. I had spent a lot of time and effort fitting and making the top and skirt, so I was pretty discouraged – too discouraged to try and make alterations!

I still wanted a cute two-piece set to wear through summer, though, but I only had about 1.5m of that lovely Drapers Fabrics gingham left. I spent a while staring at it, wondering what to do… and then it came to me: a Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt set!

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

I made the shorts using the Common Stitch Bellbird shorts pattern, but unlike my tencel version, I cut out an extra-small instead of a small. I think they look a little better in this size, particularly the gathers at the waistband. The only other alteration I made from the tencel version was to reduce the width of the hem, as I wanted a tiny bit of extra length past the edge of the pocket bags.

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

The t-shirt is a super simple hack of the Tilly and the Buttons ‘Bettine’ dress – I just made the bodice and hemmed it! I cut a size 2, which was pretty much perfect, though I sewed the side seams with a 1cm seam allowance instead of 1.5cm to make it a little more comfortable under the arms. To keep the slightly cropped length of the top but also allow for a double-folded 1cm hem, I extended the length of the bodice pattern pieces by 1cm (which was all that my remaining fabric could accommodate!). I also slip-stitched the cuffs all the way around to keep them flush to the sleeves, but decided not to include the cuff tabs to keep the t-shirt fairly simple.

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

Since I didn’t have that much fabric left, I ended up having to include a seam down the middle of the back bodice. I added 1.5cm for seam allowance to the fold line when cutting out the two back bodice pieces, and pressed and finished the seam allowances open after sewing. The seam makes for a bit of an added ‘design feature’ on the back, and turned out quite nicely! After cutting the main bodice pattern pieces and the cuffs, I didn’t have enough gingham left for the facings, so I just cut them out of scrap white cotton lawn I had in my stash.

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

This whole outfit came together in less than a day, as both patterns are really easy to make up. Both of these pieces are comfortable and easy to wear, thanks to the relaxed fit of the t-shirt, the elastic waistband on the shorts, and the light and breathable fabric. I also love that I was able to squeeze both the top and the shorts out of my leftover gingham fabric, with very little wastage left over after cutting – hooray for using up a bit of my stash!

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

I’m glad that I still have a cute set of gingham separates to wear this summer, even if my original plans didn’t quite work out! I love how these separates look together, and I think they’ll mix in really well with the rest of my summer wardrobe!

Little black Bettine

My love for the Tilly and the Buttons ‘Bettine’ dress pattern is very well documented on this blog already. It’s also the pattern I’m primarily using for my ‘souvenir dresses’ – dresses made from fabric purchased during overseas holidays. Today’s Bettine is a little bit special – it’s my third souvenir Bettine, this time made from fabric I bought in New Zealand, but it’s also my fanciest Bettine yet!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

I purchased this beautiful silk/cotton floral jacquard from The Fabric Store in Auckland – it feels so lovely and smooth, and has enough structure to give this dress a little more body than some of my other Bettines.

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

The best thing about making the same pattern again and again is seeing how different fabrics can really change the style of the garment. I’ve made relaxed jersey Bettines, smart-casual cotton Bettines, and now with this silk/cotton fabric, I’ve got a work-to-cocktails Bettine!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

I made my favourite version – pockets and the cuff button tab. I used the last of my cute Japanese buttons on this dress as well, as the slightly shiny floral button really matched the slightly shiny hibiscus flowers woven into the fabric!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out, and I’m looking forward to wearing it to work in these warmer months!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

Tencel Cleo pinafore dress

I had a fair bit of polka-dot tencel fabric left over from making my picnic blanket skirt, and after realising how much I wear my denim Cleo dungaree dress, I decided to make another Cleo out of all of that leftover fabric!

all the little happy things - Tencel Cleo pinafore dress

I made the mini-dress version, with two back pockets and one front pocket. I didn’t have any dungaree buckles, but I did have a bunch of gold snaps (also leftover from the tencel skirt!) so I decided to go with a pinafore dress instead of a dungaree one!

all the little happy things - Tencel Cleo pinafore dress

As you can see, it’s not quite perfect – despite taking extra special care when sewing the straps to the back of the dress, one of them still came out a bit wonky… but it’s not too bad, and I don’t really mind!

all the little happy things - Tencel Cleo pinafore dress

The dress sits a little higher than I originally wanted to make it, and the reason for that is that I had a bit of a mishap when trying to put the snaps on the strap the first time around. I ended up having to cut the straps shorter and make do with it… but thankfully because of the soft drape of this fabric, the dress still looks good! It’s just a tiny bit shorter and higher than I originally planned!

all the little happy things - Tencel Cleo pinafore dress

I love how sweet and breezy this dress is, and the way the drape of the fabric gives the Cleo pattern a totally different look to my denim version!

all the little happy things - Tencel Cleo pinafore dress

Gingham Seren separates

My latest sewing project is something that has been about six months in the making! It all started around October last year, when I decided I wanted a navy and white gingham dress or top and skirt set, but couldn’t find anything I liked in any RTW stores… then I remembered the Seren dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and realised I could just make what I wanted!

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

One Black Friday sale later, I had the pattern in my hands and set out in search for the perfect gingham fabric. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything locally that I liked with the right scale, colour and weight, and I was pretty wary of buying anything online. I shelved the project for the time being and decided to wait until I found the perfect fabric.

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

Fast forward to March, when I was on a family vacation in New Zealand. I had already planned to go fabric shopping while we were in Auckland, as I’ve started a little tradition of buying fabric instead of souvenir knick-knacks whenever we travel overseas, so that I can slowly build a wardrobe of ‘souvenir dresses’. With the help of this Auckland local fabric shopping guide, I found Drapers Fabrics – and stumbled across the perfect navy and white gingham fabric and vintage brass buttons for my Seren separates!

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

If you follow my Instagram, you’ll already know that I spent a lot of time working on a wearable toile of the top in red cotton before cutting into my main fabric, trying to make sure I got the fit just right! It took a long time, but it was definitely worth it. My gingham fabric had a little bit of stretch which helped with the fit, but I also ended up adding in a couple of darts to the back bodice to bring in the waist a bit.

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

I used the knee-length skirt pattern, but due to my height and my choice of hem, it ended up being more of a midi length anyway. I also added pockets to the skirt, because all skirts and dresses could use extra pockets! Turning the dress into separates was pretty easy – I just made the top by itself and gave it a narrow hem, then made the skirt separately with the waistband. I did have to hop over to Tilly’s Picnic Blanket Skirt tutorial to remind myself how to attach the waistband properly (the Seren pattern instructions are designed for a dress, not separates!), but I got there in the end with no mishaps!

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

I was also excited to discover that Annika Victoria’s next ‘Make Thrift Try’ challenge theme was gingham/plaid as well – I’ve been keen to join in with these challenges, but the past themes didn’t really grab me like this one did. I’m glad I was able to make this project count for #makethrifttry4!

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

We’re already heading into cooler weather here in Brisbane, so this is not the most seasonally-appropriate outfit I’ve ever made – I won’t get a lot of wear out of the top in particular before it gets too chilly for crop tops! I really do need to get a little better at planning when to start the projects on my list… But overall, I’m really happy to have made this set – I can still wear the skirt well into autumn with different shirts and cardigans, and the top is hanging ready in my wardrobe for any warmer days ahead. Hooray for finally ticking off this project – now on to the next one!

all the little happy things - gingham Seren separates

Red Lilou dress

As soon as I got Tilly Walnes’ book Love at First Stitch, I knew I wanted to make a plain red Lilou dress. I actually attempted this dress early last year – but unfortunately I cut the bodice about half a size too small, and, feeling discouraged, I abandoned the project completely. Last summer, I decided to try again – and this time I cut a better size!!

all the little happy things - red Lilou dress

I’ve made three other Lilous before, but this was the first time I’ve done the proper pleated skirt – it was actually a lot of fun to iron those sharp pleats into the fabric, and I really love the fullness the pleats give the skirt! I added pockets as well, because all dresses could use some pockets.

all the little happy things - red Lilou dress

As you can see, the bodice still isn’t fitted quite right. It’s still wearable, but definitely not as well-fitting as some other dresses I’ve made before. I cut a size 3 bodice tapering to a size 4 waist, but I think next time what I actually need is to trace out the pattern in between sizes 3 and 4 – the top of the bodice is a little too tight, but the waist is just a little too loose.

all the little happy things - red Lilou dress

Even though this isn’t a perfect garment, I’m glad that I stuck with it! I’m really glad to have crossed off another item in my sewing ‘bucket list’, and I’m looking forward to lots more sewing this year!

all the little happy things - red Lilou dress

Cherry-print jersey Bettine dress

I tend to go through a big sewing/crafting binge during the summer, as I usually have a few days of leave that I can devote solely to my creative hobbies. During the Christmas holidays, the first thing I made was another version of my favourite pattern – a jersey Bettine dress!

all the little happy things - cherry-print jersey Bettine dress

My grey jersey Bettine is one of my most-worn garments because it’s so comfortable and easy to slip on, so when I found this cute cherry-print cotton jersey on sale at Spotlight, I decided it was time to make a second ‘lazy dress’!

all the little happy things - cherry-print jersey Bettine dress

I love how the print of this fabric makes the dress look a little less casual than my grey version – I think I could definitely get away with wearing this to work on casual Fridays!

all the little happy things - cherry-print jersey Bettine dress

I’m running out of new ways to talk about how much I love this pattern and how easy it is to sew… but seriously, there’s a reason why I keep finding myself coming back to it time after time!

all the little happy things - cherry-print jersey Bettine dress

Tencel picnic blanket skirt

This is the story of what I’ll call an ‘impulse make’ – like impulse shopping, but where you make the garment yourself! It’s hurtling into summer here in Australia, and as the weather has been warming up, I realised that my wardrobe – even my warm-weather wardrobe – is mostly black. I don’t have a lot of light-coloured clothes, and that has been a problem as the temperature rises and the days get longer!

I started off by trying to find a light blue skirt online, but as I browsed the stores I just couldn’t find anything that I really wanted. I had in mind an a-line or full skirt, knee-length (not mini!), and there had to be pockets, of course… I just couldn’t find anything that fit that description.

Then I realised I knew the exact style of skirt I was looking for – the picnic blanket skirt from Tilly and the Buttons! All I needed was the right fabric – which I found on sale at Spotlight, a gorgeous light blue tencel with white dots. Perfect!

all the little happy things - tencel picnic blanket skirt

This was a very quick afternoon make! I followed the tutorial on the Tilly and the Buttons blog, but instead of making buttonholes, I used some gold snaps that I had left over from another project. I love the way the gold snaps look against the fabric of the skirt – they do weigh the placket down a tiny bit, but it’s not too bad.

all the little happy things - tencel picnic blanket skirt

I of course included the side-seam pockets, because if I’m going to make a skirt or dress, you better believe I’ll add pockets!

all the little happy things - tencel picnic blanket skirt

I’m so pleased with how this turned out! Not only did I get the exact style and colour of skirt that I wanted, but I got the satisfaction of making it myself and to my exact measurements rather than buying something ready-made. I’m looking forward to wearing this skirt all summer!

all the little happy things - tencel picnic blanket skirt

Sleeveless Megan dress

I had a metre and a half of leftover Japanese geo print cotton from my Ultimate Shift Dress, so I decided to tackle the Megan Dress from Tilly Walnes’ book Love at First Stitch! The Megan is probably the only pattern I hadn’t made from this book, so I was pretty excited about trying it out.

all the little happy things - sleeveless Megan dress

It was actually autumn here in Brisbane when I made the dress, but I couldn’t stop myself from making a bright, summery frock… and now it’s finally the right weather to wear it! I opted to add in side seam pockets (every dress needs pockets!!) and make my dress sleeveless. I actually took some time to make a proper toile of the bodice and make a couple of minor adjustments to the pattern before cutting out my dress fabric, and I’m glad I did – the dress fits very nicely now!

all the little happy things - sleeveless Megan dress

all the little happy things - sleeveless Megan dress

I made my own bias tape with the scraps leftover from cutting out the dress, following this tutorial, and finished the armholes with a bias tape facing, following this tutorial. I’d never done this before, but it was actually pretty easy!

all the little happy things - sleeveless Megan dress

all the little happy things - sleeveless Megan dress

I’m so pleased with my dress – it’s professional enough to wear at work, but the print makes it fun enough for a weekend brunch or date night out. I just love how simple and sweet the Megan pattern is, and how little fabric it uses (only about 1.5m if you omit the sleeves!) – I can definitely see more Megan dresses in my future!

Black denim Cleo dungaree dress

I know, I know, I’m kind of late to the party… but oh well, at least I got here eventually! Yes, I’ve joined the club of people who adore the Cleo pattern from Tilly and the Buttons – after scrolling through all the gorgeous #sewingcleo inspiration on Instagram, I decided that enough was enough and I had to make one of my very own!

all the little happy things - black denim Cleo dungaree dress

I opted to make the mini dungaree version, using buckles that I bought from Tilly’s online store at the same time as the pattern. I used a black denim with a bit of stretch – something simple and basic to see me through the transition from the cooler months.

all the little happy things - black denim Cleo dungaree dress

The pattern is super simple and very quick and easy to put together. I cut a size 4 and took the back of the dress in at the waist by a few centimetres, as I didn’t really end up needing all the curve room that the pattern provided for. I also raised the back pocket placement a bit to accommodate my shorter frame. Other than those minor adjustments, it was a nice easy fit and a very quick make!

all the little happy things - black denim Cleo dungaree dress

The only little thing that bugs me is that after I stitched the facing to the dress, I discovered that the right strap was sewn down at a sharper angle than it was supposed to – but it’s not super noticeable and it doesn’t bother me enough to unpick all of that stitching, so I’ve just left it as is.

all the little happy things - black denim Cleo dungaree dress

The front pocket is also the perfect vehicle for displaying a few pins from my growing collection! Here I’m sporting two of my very favourites – Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane from Girl Fawkes Pins!

all the little happy things - black denim Cleo dungaree dress

I’m so glad I jumped on the Cleo bandwagon! Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was really into the dungaree/pinafore dress trend… but I’m a total convert now. I’m already dreaming up a few more Cleos – maybe a fun yellow pinafore for summer, an indigo denim dungaree dress with contrast topstitching… so many possibilities!

all the little happy things - black denim Cleo dungaree dress