SewcieTea & Bali Wedding Cambie

Half a century ago (well, perhaps slightly less than that) Melanie came up with an awesome idea: to organise a function at which we sewists (me! That includes me!) could wear our loveliest self-made frocks. Sewists all over rejoiced at the idea, with quite the selection of lovely frocks from which to choose. At the time of the inception of The Idea, I had made a too large Amish-ish wrap dress, a red tiramisu and three shift dresses (one with awesome elephants on. I love my elephant dress.)

If all else failed, the red tiramisu could suffice, but something else, something more fancy was called for.

When a dress is made out of t-shirt fabric, it’s really difficult to perceive it as a bit fancy. Even for someone like me for whom the threshold for fancy is pretty low. My fancy is probably most women’s casual, or smart casual at a stretch. Or business. I am most fancy in my work suits, but I don’t think Melanie was envisaging me turning up to SewcieTea in a charcoal grey pantsuit with turquoise shirt and orange cuff links. And anyway, I didn’t make those items. Bought them I did.

There were a few months from the announcement of The Idea and The Event itself, so I figured I would have plenty of time to make something provided I started straight away. Immediately. Stat.

I didn’t.

I didn’t actually even know what I wanted to make. I didn’t know what fabric to make it out of. I didn’t even know what colour it would be (although if I had applied myself to this last, I would have known it would be blue, green or yellow. Them be the colours I like to wear. The red was a bit of an aberration.)

Then, an awaited invitation to a wedding arrived. It was shortly after The Event. I decided whatever I made would have to work for both events, and then be unlikely to be worn again (not because it would be terrible, although that was a possibility, but that I just really don’t do fancy).

A long time ago, I had thought that maybe the Cambie would be the right dress for the wedding. So off I chuffed and acquired the pattern from lovely Sarah of Sew Squirrel, and traced out my size (4 bust, 6 waist, 0 hips, if you’re wondering), even grading between these sizes when tracing (accolades everyone, I deserve accolades). But I had not yet decided upon fabric.

Then I got a wee bit distracted by other patterns. I began to wonder if a Robe Belladone in yellow cotton twill with contrasting bias binding of rainbow colours (yes, really) would be suitable. Or a Robe Sureau in a navy print with oranges and leaves? See, I had the fabric matched up for those patterns and I wanted to make them but I knew that the time I had left would only permit me to make one dress. Only one dress.

And then I recalled: The Fabric. Rachel of My Messings and I went fabric shopping at Brunswick Spotlight shortly before it shut its doors for good. I have never purchased so much fabric in one go in my life. There was a lovely light cotton lawn / voile type fabric (I’m just pretending I know what I’m talking about) in blue and green swirls. Rachel had selected it but in the cull at the checkout decided (quite reluctantly) to let it go. I decided to rescue it and bought three metres, answering most eloquently, “dunno” when Rachel enquired what I would make out of it.

It was very beautiful, very light, and probably the most expensive fabric I have bought thus far (it wasn’t that expensive; it’s just that at this stage in my sewing life, I mostly buy remnants and op shop fabric).

I was kind of afraid of cutting into it. I wanted my skills to become totally awesome before I made anything out of it. It was special, it was beautiful, it was too lovely; much too lovely for me to ruin.

But it was a perfect fit for the Cambie. And proper fancy it was. Right proper fancy.

So I bit the bullet and made a muslin!
(More sewing accolades please. Accolades can come in the form of ice cream.)

But by this time, I was running short on time. So I muslined only the bodice and hurrah! It fit! No alterations required! The sewing gods were kind.

(I’m aware muslin is a noun, but I’ve verbified it. So there.)

I didn’t bother putting a zipper in the muslin but pinning wasn’t working for testing fit, so I sewed basting stitches up the centre back and then wriggled and wrangled my way in. This was fine and demonstrated that it fit fine. (Im quite flexible.) But not so flexible that I could wriggle or wrangle myself out. My partner was away, so I did not have another person to help me. But it was a muslin, right? Made up out of a pretty awful cotton-polyester blend that I bought not realising how much polyester and how little cotton it was made of. So I took my fabric scissors and cut the bodice off me. I managed not to cut myself, although I did wonder whether I should wait until the morning so that if I did injure myself I would not be trying to get to an emergency department in the middle of the night. I don’t really know why I think going to emergency during the day would be better, but I do.


That’s one muslin that’s not getting another life at all.

And then I sewed up the Cambie over a few nights, and even put in an invisible zipper without too much fuss, and even did really nice tidy insides. (You know what’s expected, right? More accolades, please.)


I didn’t do a perfect job of the insides …

I was pretty chuffed, though, with my top stitching on the pocket. I think I’ll make this skirt and this pocket again, frankenpatterning it with some other bodice. The Cambie is sweet, but it’s not very me (mostly due to how sweet it is!)


Oh, I lined it with a plain white cotton voile purchased from GJ’s. I don’t really like lining fabric: it feels sticky. Why put that next to my skin when I could choose lovely cotton instead? I suspect if anything else needs lining, it will be lined with cotton voile. GJ’s only has two colours: white and beige, so that’s going to limit my ability to line my clothes with awesome bright colours a la Ms Messings but beige can be awesome, right?

My hemming could be a wee bit better, but hey. How many accolades can a girl have for the one dress? (Well, if the accolades are ice cream, I think it should be limitless.)

I also decided to be lazy with the lining and I cut it with pinking shears rather than hemming it. I think this is rather awesome. Certainly made for easy hemming!


And here is the Cambie, in all its glory, at SewcieTea. Thanks to Rachel for the pictures. Only the model is to blame for the face.


And even in fancy clothes, I manage to look like I’m ready for a fight. Yeah. I’ll take you on. 20130603-211209.jpg

I had a reasonable amount of fabric left over, so I thought it would be awesome if my partner had a matching tie for our ‘guests at a wedding’ outfits. Most excitingly, my partner agreed to wear a matching tie if I made one. He’s a keeper. I followed this tutorial with free pattern from the Purl Bee, but can I just say: it involves a lot of hand sewing. Be warned. I am never making another tie for my partner ever again. Never ever never. Na uh, no way, no sir.

I really don’t like hand sewing, and I’m really not very good at it. But from the side that most people will see, it looks quite dapper:


Matching glasses, matching grins, matching outfits. Operation Matchy Matchy was quite the success. Hurrah!


  1. I love operation matchy matchy! Seriously too cute. On a more serious note, I agree with comfortable linings. Why would you line with something that will stick or irritate you?


    1. Exactly! It’s weird to make the outer out of beautiful fabric and then the inner out of icky fabric. But I don’t intend to make too many things that require lining!


  2. Lots of plaudits!! Now, where do I start? I love cotton voile. Never mind white and beige, I don’t really think you’re a beige girl. Spotlight do it in a range of better colours like turquoise, though maybe not so much at this time of year. Next time leave the side seam undone, not the back seam and pin yourself into it. This may lead to sundry jabs and scrapes but not a trip to A&E. (That is not a challenge!) And I like the sound of your navy Sureau. When’s it happening?


    1. I love that you think I could take pinning myself into a muslin as a challenge to see if I can get to Emergency. I have come across honestly, then.

      Shall keep an eye out for colourful Spotlight voile should I need lining (although my problem is impatience and GJ’s is but round the corner from my home).

      The navy Sureau is already done! I just need to blog it. Cambie only took a month and a half to blog from its completion, but I’m hopeful Sureau will take less time as I have no intervening holidays planned.


  3. Oh it’s so pretty. I am slightly amazed I managed to focus on the pictures as I was laughing so hard about the muslin!
    Love the fabric. Did you lengthen the skirt? (Sorry if I missed that detail I may have been laughing)…
    And I almost always line with voile or lawn (even fancy clothes shhhhh). I lined my floral Cambue with cheesecloth – and is is divine. Really soft and makes for a pretty frothy skirt (frothy is a technical sewing term, right?).


    1. I cut the skirt to the length of the pattern (including hem allowance), and instead of using the fabric to hem, I added 25mm binding and turned that up. Does that make sense? I was aiming for a tea length dress, and because I am a shorty pants, I succeeded! I would need to slice off about 6inches to make the pattern length its intended ‘knee height’ on me.

      Cake, icing and now froth. What interesting terms sewists use :p


  4. Well, obviously I love the fabric because I made my graduation dress from it, so woooooot! I lurve the matching tie- totally awesome!


    1. Thanks, GK! I was kind of surprised when he did not need any persuading; he just said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I plan more matchy matchy in future (just not a tie, ever again).


  5. This post is laugh out loud funny! Especially the bit about you being ready for a fight, could we perhaps put that down to occupational hazard along with the pencil skirts? Love your writing. And your frock is gorgeous.


    1. Thanks, Rachel, and again for the photos. That first one is probably one of the best photos of me I’ve ever seen! Yes, I hope so too but I’m worried that my only suitable events will be sewing blogger meet ups, and how many times can I wear it before you all go, “Hang on… You don’t really sew, do you? Just the one dress that you keep on trotting out…”


  6. Awesome! You both look adorable at the wedding – and the outside is really the only side that matters (shhh, did I type that?) 😉
    Thanks for sharing your adventures in muslining – someone wonderful recently suggested basting a zipper into a muslin – that’s saved me! (I was pinning the neck & waist & not realising it didn’t fit across the back – oops…) The fabric is gorgeous & with the cotton, looks wonderfully comfortable for all seasons 😉


    1. Basting a zipper into a muslin sounds like an awful lot of work! Although, if I’d done so, I might not have spent possibly equally long trying to get myself into, and then out of, my bodice muslin!


  7. Accolades ahoy! And I totally share your trepidation about cutting into nice fabric. I’m yet to buy anything too exxy but there’s that moment just before you cut and you go “ooooo I hope this works!”


  8. Wauw, what a beautiful dress made out of a beautiful fabric. It really looks fancy! And yeay for the matchy matchy, that is just too adorable!


  9. Oanh, operation matchy match is all kinds of rad! This is fantastic and rad work on all the fine details- it is such a professional finish. Too rad!


  10. That fabric is delicious. Paired with this flattering pattern, you look terrific in it. And your partner’s first (and last) tie made by you? It’s a winner!


    1. Thank you very much! The tie is great, isn’t it? I might make him a waistcoat or something next time I want us to match …


      1. I prefer to think of myself as “consistent” rather than “predictable”. ;P

        We still have to have that bicycle adventure!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s