In a bid to win a year’s subscription of sewing patterns by Fibre Mood, I sewed up a Mindy Dress and a Poppy Dress. Posting a picture of the finished sewing project by on their website with the hashtag #sewistaworldtour makes one eligible to enter the voting contest.
The criteria of the contest this year is to submit a photo of our makes with a backdrop of a staycation location. It sounded like a neat idea. And since it’s the school holidays, I’m constantly scheming up projects to keep the kids busy. This one can possibly hold the attention span of my 8 year old daughter for at least a couple hours if we endeavour to make dresses for both of us. She didn’t actually sit at the sewing machine and sew. We tried but the speed of my Singer 4453 scared her, and it was too fast for her to control.
However, we did spend some time looking through patterns on the Fibre Mood website, and we chose the patterns together after making decisions about the look that we wanted to achieve. We also picked out the matching fabrics from my stash. And the best part for me is that she ironed her fabric before I worked on it. That’s one of the chores of sewing that is kinda meh for me, so I was happy that she was enthusiastic (almost ecstatic) about ironing. She was thrilled that I allowed her to do something “grown-up”. And while I was sewing up these dresses, she was inspired enough to sit next to me and craft some clothes from scraps for her Barbie. So by this point in the preparation for this contest, I already feel like I’ve won big time. Who still needs a Fibre Mood subscription for a prize? (Actually, I do – I really really need and want this thing!)
After the dresses were done, we had to choose the location of our photoshoot. The beach was the obvious choice because it has become our saving grace while in partial lockdown. When the beaches were opened to us again, we went frequently to get our dose of sun, sea, fun and exercise. It kept us from being stir-crazy, and afforded us a much-needed connection to nature.
We are incredibly lucky that we live just a 5-minute walk away. Our beach ranks high on the wanderlust list for many, but because it’s where we live, we tend to take it for granted. You know, how the grass is always greener somewhere else, or in this case, the sea is always bluer in… Greece, for example. Our annual vacation there is a definite no-go this year because of the circumstances. We miss it there, but at the same time, we’ve come to see our own shores in a different (golden) light. We have opened our eyes to develop a deeper appreciation of the beauty and blessings that exist right on our doorstep.
A regular day here for us now is a morning dip in the sea, and we hang out there till lunchtime. We eat a mediterranean lunch, then retreat for an afternoon siesta. Finally, we return back to the beach for an evening walk along the boardwalk after dinner with an ice lolly or a pomegranate juice. It doesn’t sound like a vacation, it actually is. The only difference is that we don’t have to get on a plane. And of course, we now go everywhere with a mask on. It may not look like it from the pictures, but no worries, we are fervent mask-wearers. We spent a total of 5 minutes mask-less to get these quick shots done.
Definitely one of the good things that have come out of the pandemic – we are living like we’ve been on vacation the whole time. That is a helpful perspective to look at things so that I don’t drown in my default anxiety and worry over the current situation.
Well, let’s move on to the pattern reviews. We chose these dresses because they celebrate gathers as a design detail. The Poppy is a girl’s summer dress pattern with two gathered skirt tiers attached to a bodice. There’s the option for a halter neck or for two shoulder straps; and there’s the option for a short or long skirt version.
Sizes run for 2yrs-14yrs. My 8 year old fit comfortably in a size 10, and I see that there’s room for her to grow into. We made the maxi-dress version with shoulder straps. It is a very easy pattern to sew, and any beginner can tackle this. The only strange thing is that the instructions don’t specify any steps to secure the bodice lining. So what I did is to attach the lining to the skirt by sewing in the ditch at the bottom edge of the attached bodice. According to the instructions, the lining would float unattached at the bottom, with an overlocked edge. If this is the finish that makes you happy, then go for it. But I prefer something neater and more secure.
The sewing on the Poppy was pain-free, but in contrast, the sewing on the Mindy was pain-FULL. My main struggle was with the square corners of the neckline. In order to sew down the gathered puff sleeves – which are first attached to the side neckbands – to the bodices, the instructions illustrate a way to snip into the sleeve to sew a right angle. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand how to make this snip because the illustrations were not clear enough for me. More accurately, the illustrations did not match the physical sewing pieces that were in front of me. So either the instructions are wonky or I’m wonky. Judging from other sewers’ successful makes on Instagram, I am suspecting that perhaps I’m the wonky one.
As you can see from the finished result, I somehow managed to pull it all together, but I struggled big time with that first corner. Then I had to repeat the nightmare 3 more times. God Help Me!
The other complaint that I have is that I chose to sew a size 8 based on the finished measurements. Normally, I would choose a size 6 but the finished bust measurement is 80.75cm, which made me a little nervous since my bust measurement is 81cm. This meant that I wouldn’t have any ease to breathe. So I went with a size 8 (finished bust measurements are 84.5cm) even though I felt it might fit really big on me. I was right, I was kinda swimming in it, and after taking in an extra 1cm on both the side seams (which means a total of 4 cm taken out of the bust circumference) the bodice still fits a little large on me. So in conclusion, I think that there is an error on the finished measurement chart. Next time, I can definitely go with a size 6.
Anyway, the end result of Mindy is really pretty. Sizes for this dress run from size 4-30. If we assume that I was the wonky one with regards to sewing the square neckline, then I guess the instructions are adequate. I’ve learnt that Fibre Mood pattern instructions are not really geared towards beginners. But if you have some know-how and sewing experience, then the pretty patterns are a big score.
I added an extra tier of gathered skirt on the bottom of the knee-length dress to convert it into a maxi. This was done so that my Mindy maxi will match my daughter’s Poppy maxi. There’s a possible theme here for either “Gathers Galore” or “Living It Up To The Max(i)”. As you can see, the fabric prints already match. Oh, and the fabrics were lovingly gifted to me by my mom. She bought them in Singapore, and had them sent to me. I was saving them for a worthy sewing project. So I guess this whole endeavour can be considered a 3-generational collaboration. And I am definitely cherishing these magical days when my daughter still thinks it’s cool to hold my hand and wear matching dresses with her mom.
These strange Covid-19 days have provided us more family time together, and that’s something to be truly grateful for. And I’m thankful for all the days that I get to look out into the horizon with my girl.