Ferns and thread and more ferns…

Helen says…

I always check the upholstery section at Spotlight for bargains, and this was one of those – 100% cotton for $4.99/m. I subconsciously fell in love with this print, and have been back three times for more fabric. Than the other day it hit me why – Sew Over It and Lisa Comfort. In one of the very first sewing vlogs of hers I saw, Lisa was wearing a cropped t-shirt in a similar green and blue fern print. The bright, almost washed-out video reminded me of sitting in a colourful cafe on a Summer morning.

This print is not quite as good as Lisa’s, but like I said, the association is strong. I wanted to make a top and dress that would be comfortable on hot days, but layer-able for the crisper mornings before a hot day. On those morning I might add a light grey base underneath, or a cropped jumper on top.


1. This is the third ‘twirly top’ I’ve made from McCall M6751. It’s an easy project, although it takes a long time to do the bias binding. I was in a rush so I left out the pocket. This one hangs a bit better than my last 2 because the cotton is stiffer, it also doesn’t fly up at the back when it’s windy. I must admit, in this photo it hasn’t been ironed, so it doesn’t look as though it hangs better. But it does, you’ll have to trust me!


If you make this pattern up yourself, I would consider putting a press stud in the back to stop it flying up in the wind. Otherwise, this is a great, easy pattern and the sizing was perfect for me. Really easy instructions to and I can see this working on a lot of different women.

My only problem with this is the bias binding – although I love glitzy stuff and it’s really pretty, it’s also really scratchy even after a wash. Hopefully a couple more washes and it will settle down, but that is preventing me wearing it without a layer underneath.


2. The fern shift dress was a pretty easy pattern to work out, the only difficulty for me being the front seam – one of those fitting-a-triangle-int-a-square type jobs. Having said that, once you start it isn’t really as hard as you think, and I’m sure I’ll get better at this the more I practice. It also is a lovely seam, so flattering for my bust line and shape. So worth it.


The only adjustments I’ve made to the pattern are adding a hook and eye at the back and shortening the length. I also  machine-stitched in the zip, in my own rather uncouth method without a zipper foot. I also didn’t line the dress or use a facing, finishing the arm holes and neck with bias binding. You are supposed to use interfacing, but again I felt the fabric was stiff enough without it.

So I do love this dress, but I have one tincy problem with it – there’s a bunch of fabric around my stomach. Does anyone else have this routinely happen with shift dresses, and how do you fix it? Just scrap the idea of a ‘shift’ and add princess seams?


3. And last but not least, and in fact first in order of making, is a second fern top. This was a self-drafted pattern from a little top Catherine found for me at an op-shop. I spent ages working out how to try and make the pattern and I think I can confidently say I failed miserably. I have no idea how to draft patterns. This is definitely something I’d like to learn in the future.

A really dodgy picture of the original…

The struggle I had was working out how to insert darts into a pattern piece – I could find instructions on how to move them, but not how to insert them. I knew that bust darts were the gem of the original. In the end I decided I would sew the darts in once I’d fitted straps and tried it on. Typically, I forgot – and did all of the bias binding.

I love the idea of this, but I think I really will have to unpick that bias binding and add the darts, because it just doesn’t fit properly and looks nothing like the original.


I also did the shoddiest possible job on the straps because I couldn’t work out how to use Catherine’s tube inside-out-er gajiga-thing. If you know what I mean. Finally, the straps aren’t cut on the bias so they have no stretch to them at all, which does make it hard to tie up.

So plans? Unpick bias binding. Add darts. Take off straps. Buy some matching leather or tubing or complimentary straps. Redo bias binding. Sew on good straps. Wear and smile.

Goodbye for now, and wish me luck & common sense!!



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