Oxford Shirtdress

Lisette Traveler Dress

Here’s one of my best sewing creations yet, from this Lisette pattern (the Traveler dress). Yet another pink-ish dress!

Lisette Traveler Pattern

It took me a long time, but I did it! The buttonholes were the scariest part, but turns out my sewing machine salesman was right: if you practice twelve times (on the appropriate fabric) you can make them beautifully.

I made no alterations to the pattern other than to leave off the bottom pockets and to use two different sizes for the top and bottom (aha! That’s why I have trouble fitting in store-bought dresses).

Didn’t my kids do a good job with the photos?

Lisette Shirt Dress

Pattern: Simplicity 2246 by Liesl Gibson

Fabric: pinklish oxford cloth from an open-air market in Germany

Earrings: Ron Cravens

Belt: Target

Boots: Bruno Premi (no, you can’t have them!)

For more posts on sewing, click here.

Linen Lisette Passport Dress

Lisette Portfolio Dress

This dress is fairly Eastery for September, but that didn’t stop me from wearing it when I finished it last weekend.

It’s a whole lotta pink! A little girlier than I’d intended. I just can’t seem to stop picking up pink fabric.

Linen sundress

The pattern is the Lisette Passport Dress (Simplicity 2209) by Liesl Gibson. While it’s not a particularly intricate pattern, it’s the most ambitious one I’ve sewn so far, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of the finishing work and the fitting I did. Special thanks to my friend Amy G., seamster extraordinaire, who helped me figure out how to shorten the straps after I’d already completely finished them. That was the trickiest bit.

I had read that inserting the zipper as instructed was frustrating, so I ended up using an invisible zipper and this tutorial instead.

Besides the zipper part, the directions are very good, better than most commercial patterns I’ve used recently.

Pink Linen Sundress

The linen fabric came from the fabric market in Hannover, Germany from when we lived there. Silver necklace from silversmith Gaines Kiker in Blowing Rock, NC. Silver earrings from a shop in Brookline, MA—-they’re over 10 years old so I don’t remember the name, sorry. Belt from Marshalls.

I’m already cutting out another version of the dress—if I can just figure out how to line it.  For more of my sewing, click here.

In other news, I’ve really been getting into my nonfiction book project. So good to feel it finally starting to gel. A hint: it has to do with fashion.

Coming up on the blog: green beans! Craft books! All kinds of thrills.

Linen Lisette Passport Dress

Self-Dyed Silk Anda Dress

Dyed Silk Anda Dress

Tada! I finally worked up the nerve to finish this dress, after lots of fear over working with silk. It’s got plenty of flaws (ahem, wonky tonky hem), but I’ve gone ahead and declared it wearable because…I like it anyway. After all that work, I’m not resigning it to the closet.

The silk (crepe?) was gifted to me by a friend who was moving. The original color, blue-grey, was a bit too pale for me, so I overdyed it (click here for before and after). That was over a year ago!

I cut the pattern out way too big, I think overcompensating for fit issues in my first Anda, which was a wee bit snug in the booty. So then I had to cut the silk version down, but  when I finished, the sleeves stuck out in the oddest, ugliest way. I’ve since learned how to use bias tape better—-that might’ve been the problem. Great bias tape tutorial here at Collette Patterns.

I cut off the sleeves and used the bias tape as a facing, which worked much better.

Silk Anda Dress

I’ve worked on the hem some since these pictures were taken, and I will keep tweaking, but I don’t know if it’s ever going to be just so. I’m okay with that. I found another tutorial at Collette Patterns about rolled hems, but it’s too late to re-do this one completely.

I have to say, working with silk really is tricky, but I think I learned a few things, and I’d try it again. If you’re sewing with silk, another helpful resource is Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch. She offers helpful silk sewing tips here. Now I need a tutorial on ironing silk. I swear, I did iron it before these photos were taken.

Pattern: Burda Anda, with modifications

Sandals: gift from my friend (via Vietnam via Texas via Germany)

Necklace: a gift from my in-laws.

Photographers: my kids (5 and 9) Didn’t they do a great job? My primary photographer was, um, watching golf and could not be disturbed.

For more of my sewing, check out this link. This was my third Anda, the second being a linen colorblock one. I’m sure I’ll make more Andas, but I think it’s about time for me to move on to something else.

Have a great weekend! And oh, if you’re into Instagram, I’m finally actually using it, so you can find me there at emilysmithpearce. I’d love to see you there.

Linen Colorblock Sundress

Linen Colorblock Dress

Here’s one of many projects that has been mostly finished for a long time. It’s finally wearable! It’s based loosely on the Burda Anda pattern, like the one I made here.

As with my previous version, I petitified it using existing clothing as a guide. This version is color-blocked, obviously, with no sleeves. I used a top from my closet to guide armhole sizing. I lowered the waist a bit and used elastic on the inside, rather than an outer drawstring casing like the pattern calls for.

I also used the bias tape as a facing rather than as an exposed detail. The tutorial for doing this with the Sorbetto top was very, very helpful and applicable to any number of projects. It’s not as tricky as it might sound, if you’ve used bias tape before. I’m beginning to get the hang of the bias tape thing. It’s really handy once you get used to it.

Lastly, I made a self belt, a little wider and shorter this time than last.

The reddish linen came from the bargain booth at the Hannover, Germany Stoffmarkt last June. The cream-colored linen was a remnant given to me by a friend. Earrings by Claire’s, circa the dark ages, and the wooden beaded necklace was a gift from my Granny a bajillion years ago. I want to say she picked it up on a trip to Israel.

I have to say I’m pretty happy with the dress. Think I’ll wear this one a lot. I’ve almost finished another Anda-inspired dress, if I can find my sewing scissors, so hopefully I can share that soon.

If you want to see some of my other sewing projects, click here.

Linen Sundress

The Flying Dress

Anyone remember Sally Field in The Flying Nun? It’s a ridiculous show from the late 1960s. Ms. Field plays a nun with an enormous cornette (headpiece for her habit) that, yes, helps her fly. Hard to believe it was ever made into a show.

When I first finished it, this dress looked like it was going to launch me into the friendly skies. I had sized the pattern down a bit, but I guess I didn’t size down the cap sleeves. That, and stiffness of the double layered fabric gave me wings.

So, I hacked them down. I’ve worn it several times (when it was warmer), but I didn’t get the sizing quite right and it kind of pops open when I sit down. So attractive. And I made loads of mistakes on the dress. I may retire it now, but all in all, I’m pretty proud of it. I’d never made anything with so many buttons. Or persevered through so many mistakes and such a horrible pattern. And the sizing, while off, was still a good exercise—it almost worked.

Please, I beg you, don’t ever use this free pattern from Bernina. I was going to link to it, but really, I don’t even want you to know where it exists. It costs you more time than the free-ness is worth.

I found it through Kathleen Frances’s excellent sewing blog, grosgrain. I love her Frock by Friday sewalongs, but this one, as Kathleen herself says, is just a bad pattern.

That said, I love a shirtdress, and they’re hard to find in different colors, so I may try again with this pattern. If I’m feeling brave.

Speaking of failed sewing projects, here’s one from a favorite blogger. It’s great to know other people fail. And to remember you’ll never get good at most anything if you’re not willing to fall on your face a lot.

In other news, I had some amazing baked oatmeal the other weekend at our cousins’ house. Must try. Related to that, I finally got from the library the book Vintage Cakes because of this blog post about the oatmeal cake with coconut. It looks like so my thing.

Have a great weekend!

Pajama Top Hats and a Nightgown Dress

Here are a few items I finished up for Kid’s Clothing Week over at elsie marley. I made them the same way I did this hat except this time I cut out the picture I wanted and appliqued it on the hats. These are all made from outgrown pajama tops, though the little dog applique came from a normal, completely wrecked, but favorite T-shirt.

Here in Germany it has just now gotten really warm, but before that, the kids needed spring hats while biking. These thin ones are perfect for tucking under a helmet.

Next up is a dress for my 8-year-old, or is it a nightgown, or is it a shirt for me? We haven’t decided. It started out life cut out to be a Go-To Dress from The Train to Crazy, like this one. But the fabric is really too stretchy and thin to work very well for that pattern, so I thought I’d make it into a nightgown by adding knit bindings. By the way, very good knit binding instructions here.

The knit bindings were kind of wide so they ended up looking more like a funnel neck and sleeves, which is fine. And bonus!–the whole thing fits over my head and works as a top. Maybe I’ll steal it.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, seeing as how it sat so long just cut out and being nothing and seemed to have no future.

A few more sewing items to come as well as pics from the Waldorf basar. We’ve been doing some exploring nearby within Germany, so hope to share more about that soon. It’s only about 6 weeks now until we move back to the U.S. I can’t believe it.

Linen Anda Dress

You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to make this simple dress. Let’s just say I now know the German word for “bias tape maker,” where to find them, and what size to get.

The dress started with a much-used pattern from Burda Style. Burda’s website is a great place to visit if you’re interested in women’s garment-making—it’s got its own social network. Burda is also a wonderful German monthly sewing magazine that includes traceable patterns in each issue. If you’re a Burda member, find me under “Emily Smith Pearce.”

The Anda is a simple shift dress with a drawstring waist and bias-tape finishing around the neck and armholes. I used the downloadable version of the pattern.

The sizing was way too big for me (a lot of other Burda members mentioned this as well), so I modified the pattern by tracing a dress I already had. I also traced the neckline from a blouse I liked to give a more open look.

I opted for an inner elastic waist rather than the drawstring and made a self-belt to give it a more polished look.

Sadly, the linen (from the local fabric market) faded in an odd and unattractive way after the 2nd washing. You can kind of see it in the photos. I’m wearing it anyway, though!

It’s a really comfortable dress. I restrained myself and chose the rather boring color so I could wear it with anything. You should’ve seen the look on my seven-year-old’s face when she realized I was bypassing all the bright prints for brown linen. Mom!

I definitely like the linen look. I think it would be too boxy in something less drapey.

I have to give lots of credit to blogger Kathleen Frances, who featured this pattern on her blog grosgrain as a sew-along (she calls them A Frock by Friday). As in all of her FBF’s, she walks you through the pattern step by step.

I always have trouble with pattern instructions, and the Burda instructions were particularly confusing and minimal, so I’m grateful for all her photos and hints.

In the end the dress really isn’t that hard to make, but figuring out the instructions, modifying the pattern to fit, and finding the tools in Hannover made it a bit of a challenge.  It was more like  A Frock by Next Summer. I might try making this dress again in a different fabric.

Necklace by world on a string.

Go-To Dress


I started this dress for my daughter way back in September, during kids clothes week challenge hosted over at elsiemarley, one of my favorite blogs. The idea of the challenge is that for one week you’re supposed to spend an hour a day doing some kind of work on your sewing projects for kids. I did work on the dress every day for a week, but I didn’t get so far, and since then have been pecking away at it for a few minutes at a time. Finally my daughter said, “Why don’t you just give it to me for Christmas?” Ummm….okay. She’s six.

This was my first time sewing anything much with knits. The free pattern is from the blog The Train to Crazy, which has lots of other great stuff as well. It’s a really cute pattern—–the trickiest part is getting the waist elastic done properly, which requires zigzag topstitching, gathering, and elastic placement, all at the same spot. Mine is definitely not perfect in that area, but you know, it’s knit, it’s a playdress, and who cares. I’m sure you can find other mistakes if you’re looking, but please, don’t look that closely. I don’t think my daughter will. Sorry I can’t show a picture of her in it since she hasn’t seen the finished product yet.

I got the fabric from the local stoffemarkt (fabric market) in Hannover, which comes through a few times a year. It was a good deal, and I have the mirror image of the dress already cut out and ready to go, if I can get motivated. I didn’t end up being in love with the color combo. I think I might like the mirror image more.

I read up on knits before starting: good tutorials here and here. It boils down to using the right stitch (according to your machine), a special knit needle, and a fabric stabilizer. I couldn’t find any fabric stabilizer in Hannover, so I used a lot of regular old starch, which worked fine. It definitely made a difference in the ease of sewing. I have a very basic Necchi sewing machine, which has a few stitch options which are great for knits. Love that machine. If you live in Charlotte, NC, you can buy one at Himebaugh’s. They are so nice there.



 I finally finished sewing this dress for my daughter. It’s from Simplicity pattern 2688. This is the first time I’ve made the same pattern twice (the first time I made it sleeveless), and I have to say it feels good to kind of know what you’re doing the second time around. And the two dresses look totally different.

Meanwhile, Slowpoke is nearly out of copy editing, and I hope I can share some artwork from it soon.