13 October, 2014

An Evening Anna

As usual, I'm a little late to the party when it comes to popular indie patterns. I am probably the last person in blog land to express my love for BHL's Anna dress, but I'm about to do it anyway (sorrynotsorry!).

This is THE most flattering, comfortable and amazing dress I have ever owned, let alone made. Construction-wise it's not perfect, but neither are any of the RTW dresses in my closet! It's soft and flowy. It's both modest and daring. The combination of colours and fabrics (and time!) somehow magically came together to form a dress that is completely me. That feels amazing. I may never accomplish it again. If I do, I hope it's a coat...

The Details:

Pattern: Anna Dress - By Hand London
Size: US 10.
Variation: Maxi length with slash neckline and side slit. Full lining.
Alterations: Shortened waist, shortened shoulders, shortened hem, used shorter back zipper.
Fabric: Navy bamboo/viscose + weird baby blue viscose from the Remnant Warehouse. Burnout poly chiffon - thrifted.
Necklace: thrifted. Hair piece: somewhere in Katoomba...

I made this dress specifically to wear to the inaugural Recycla-Ball (like recyclable!?) - a formal evening function celebrating sustainability and the arts at my university. The entire evening was the brainchild of my dear friend Mel and myself, and is the main reason for the lull in sewing projects around here these past few months. Between the two of us, and a couple of helpful friends and mothers, we made almost all of the decorations, including an awesome DIY photo-booth with props! The guests were encouraged to wear formal attire that was either handmade or altered, vintage or thrifted. The night was completely amazing and still feels like a dream. I was planning on doing a whole post about the Ball, but honestly I can't bear to think about paper flowers just yet...

The thing I love most about BHL patterns is the way they show the included ease for each size. This dress needed enough room for a night filled with mini hamburgers and sorbet, fancy cocktails and all of the dancing (followed by a speech! ahhh!), so I confidently cut a size US 10.

The good thing about being late to indie pattern parties is that I go in fully aware of the problems I might encounter. This pattern was in no way designed to fit a petite frame right out of the packet. But that's okay. It's the prettiest dress pattern I have ever seen. Why learn to sew if not to make pretty things fit properly?

Petite Alterations for Anna:

Basically, the unaltered Anna dress fits me perfectly horizontally. Vertically, however, I am suddenly transformed into a small child waddling around the house in her mother's clothing. It's seriously bizarre. I didn't make a muslin because... I don't know. Paper flowers were more important at the time! The following alterations were all made mid-construction.

1. Removed 1-2cm (about 5/8 inch) from the shoulder seam, starting at the neckline and grading slightly back out toward the sleeve to avoid shrinking the armscye. This pulled the bust pleats up into the right position and solved the neckline gaping. There is still wrinkling around the sleeves. I don't know whether this is a result of the shoulder seam change or if it's just the drape of my fabric, but it seems pretty similar to the examples on the BHL website.

2. Removed about an inch (possibly more) at waist seam.

3. Removed approximately one basquillion inches from the hemline. Seriously, it was a lot.

My other major alteration was a semi accident. Out of pure laziness I used the only black invisible zip at hand, and decided to button the top and leave a keyhole style slit at the upper back. On the night of the Ball, ten minutes before people started coming through the doors, I threw on my dress only to realise I had completely forgotten to attach the button! So, I folded in the edges and went with it...
After seeing all the photos from the night, I actually love the V shape in the back. Obviously, it would be nicer and neater if it were intentional, but I can't decide whether to leave it or change it...
In the picture below it's pinned closed the way I had intended.

Construction Details:

The main navy fabric is a weird and wonderful blend of bamboo and rayon. It has an odd texture with a faint sheen that almost looks like crepe in these photos. It was the tiniest bit too sheer to use on its own, so I added a full lining of another weird rayon substance (not the bemburg I was hoping for). Online shopping is risky business...

As much as I love the feel and pressability (that's a word now) of rayon, it has it's problems. Half an hour of meticulous ironing was completely undone after a 2 minute drive to the photo shoot destination... Don't even know what is going on with the bust pleats in these photos. I promise it was lovely and smooth on the night!

I used french seams throughout the lining and waist seam, and pinked the main skirt seams to avoid bulk. I added facings to the lining to avoid any pale blue from peaking out around the neckline, and handpicked the lining to the main fabric along the side slit. The awesome orange stuff on the front panel is a piece of velvety burnout chiffon that has been in my stash forever.

Obligatory leg flash!

Angelina Jolie makes it look so much easier...
It's the end of Winter, so no judging the ghostly colour of my leg... I wore lacy black tights to the event and it looked much more glamorous. I hope.

So, I'm pretty sure this is the first of many Anna dresses.
Have you made a version? Or multiple? If so, show me show me!

And have a lovely week :)

11 October, 2014

A Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe

[images via Pinterest]
Something has changed in me over this last year. Maybe it's just the recent lack of bedroom storage, but I suddenly cannot stand stuff. So, in the spirit of Spring cleaning, last week I unpacked my Summer clothes and began a much needed cull.

Creating a capsule wardrobe for Winter was helpful on so many levels. I'm the complete opposite of a morning person, so anything that makes getting out of pajamas a little easier is a very good thing. The Summer version has been a bit more difficult, but I'm pretty pleased with where I'm at. As usual, all images and their sources can be found on my Pinterest board.

My Summer style can be broken down into two basic recipes:
1. Loose top + comfortable pants + flats.
2. Loose top + high waist skirt + flats.

From these two recipes I can create at least four silhouettes, just by swapping out the jeans for shorts, or the mini for a maxi skirt.

If you're interested in this exercise, you can read more about proportions and silhouettes here and here :)

The result is a capsule wardrobe of 20 items, excluding accessories like belts, etc. I used Polyvore to create a basic outline of the items - mostly based on clothes I already own, and items I'm planning to make. Neither of my capsule wardrobes contain dresses - but not because I don't wear them! I want to give myself room for experimentation, especially when it comes to sewing. There are so many shapes and lengths that I feel comfortable wearing in different situations, so it would be silly to limit myself strictly to two or three styles! Heather of Closet Case Files wrote a great post a while back on a similar topic - dressing for multiple identities/situations - definitely worth a read!


I'm super excited to get started on some warm weather sewing projects. A floaty button-down is currently in progress, and my stash has grown significantly larger (and prettier!) after a massive fabric sale last week... So much for having less stuff!

Hope everyone has been having a lovely Spring/Fall! Have you been making any sewing or wardrobe plans for the new season? I'd love to hear about them!

29 September, 2014

Beautiful Finds - Etsy Eyecandy

It has been a little while since my last Etsy feature post! Oh well. I'd prefer to keep these posts minimal and inspired rather than frequent and forced. There's hardly a shortage of articles bombarding us with mediocre things we ought to buy!

Boho earrings, big metal circles with stained glass, statement jewelry, geometry earrings
 Seriously amazing stained glass earrings by ArtKvarta, Ukraine.

DEATH BEFORE DECAF Shirt American Apparel Womens Black Tank Tee
Need this shirt in my life lately! Handblocked racer-back tee from Exsect - Texas, USA.

Foldover leather bottom every day bag Colorblock Purse leather and linen
I have been thinking a lot about finding a more professional handbag. Love the simplicity of leather and linen! Handmade by Hello Violetta, Bulgaria.

turquoise and brass beads - flat back double drilled - 1930s bracelet connectors - rare - set of 6
Gorgeous vintage brass and turquoise beads from the 1930s. Fagins Daughter - Melbourne, Vic.

See more items like these!

Hope everyone has had a great September :) This month has been crazy in so many wonderful ways, but I am completely ready for it to wind to an end!

27 September, 2014

The Senna LBD!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to thank you all so much for the lovely comments on my last post. Knowing that people have so much faith in my little business is totally inspiring :)

Today's project is exciting for a couple of reasons: it's a completely new style for me, and it's also my first foray into pattern testing!

When I first saw Lindsay's newest pattern, the Senna dress, I knew that I was destined to make a little black version. It looks like I wasn't the only one; check out these gorgeous LBD Senna dresses by Mady and Beth!

Although pencil skirts and tight-fitted clothing aren't my usual cup of tea, I was drawn to the lovely combination of ruched skirt with loose, blouson style top. The versatility of this pattern makes it ideal for trying out a new style or silhouette - if all else fails, it makes some great separates. The sleeve length is perfection, and I do love a kimono top!

Being somewhat lacking in the tall and slender department, I had some doubts about ever looking as demure as Lindsay does in her floral number. For this reason, my version is a secret two-piece!

Using a super drapey knit fabric from the Remnant Warehouse, I cut a size 10 for both skirt and top variations. I left the top longer in length, so that it just tucks beneath the skirt waistband.

Despite being amazingly soft, my fabric was a little more lightweight than it should have been (the toils of internet shopping...), so tights are pretty much a necessity. The plus side of this accident is that it ruches extremely well. Rather than shirring, I stitched over a thin strip of elastic at each side seam. This is the recommended method in the released pattern, and it's so simple and effective!

My skirt looks a lot shorter than the pattern intends, but it wasn't cut that way. Another positive of the thin fabric is that I can pull the gathers up and down and adjust the length however I like! Wearing it as an extra-ruched mini feels a bit more secure, and I think it's more flattering on my short legs :D

In all, I'm really happy with this outfit. Like most knits, it comes together ridiculously fast - I finished it in an afternoon! And making separates has already proven to be a great idea. The close fit of the skirt will take a bit of getting used to, but I'm imagining so many awesome batwing blouse/baggy sweater combinations!

Despite my lack of tight-skirt confidence, I'll admit that these photos turned out pretty great. It's all in the posture! These dorky little legs have minds of their own (and plaid tights make it so much worse!) Maybe one day I'll show you some outtakes... 
In time, when I have perfected the art of walking and standing sensibly, this skirt will be a serious staple!

What do you think? Are you planning your own Senna dress?

Obligatory Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. The Senna pattern was provided for free, as compensation for honest feedback during the testing process. All opinions are my own.

26 September, 2014

Etsy Design Awards: I'm a Finalist!?

Dear readers, before I bombard you with a heap of awesome new sewing projects, I have a little announcement to make...
Fozzel & Bean has been selected as one of 58 finalists in Australia's inaugural Etsy Design Awards! Um what!?

There are two parts to the awards. A panel of awesome judges will select a winning store from each category (I am in New Talent), and public votes will decide on one store for the overall Community's Choice. The winner of Community's Choice will be featured in a magazine, and sent to the Etsy headquarters in NYC!
It has taken me a couple of days to publish this post because I'm sort of in shock :P. But there I am, displayed amongst 12 other amazing new Australian stores:

In a stroke of truly bizarre timing, the design I entered was sold the day before the announcements. After an emotional send-off, the one-of-a-kind pride and joy of my store is now on it's way across the sea to Texas. I'll miss you, scarfy shawl thing that never had a proper name!

If you would like to help me win an amazing trip to New York, pretty please follow this link and vote for Fozzel & Bean! As an added bonus, voting will put you in the draw to win $250 to spend on Etsy! :D


Thanks so much, and have a great weekend, everyone!

14 September, 2014

Spring Happenings

It feels as though almost every post in this blog contains some kind of reference to the weather, but I couldn't resist making the most of the beautiful stone-fruit blossoms just outside my kitchen.

I promise that from now onward all weather references will be this colourful and positive!


For a little while now I have been experimenting with Spring appropriate accessories like lace collars.

I'm starting simple, using reclaimed yarn in various fibers and weights, and trying to develop a style that is both earthy and delicate. Feminine without being too lacy or frilly. I guess that's Fozzel & Bean style in a nutshell! It's amazing how much writing helps to put abstract feelings into words.



This particular collar is made from a beautifully delicate reclaimed cashmere yarn. It looks like a warm cream, but up close you can see that it's flecked with tiny strands of red. The closure is a metal vintage button from my stash, with what looks like a red gemstone in the face.

In other news, September is shaping up to be a hectic month. I have so many great things to share over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

31 August, 2014

Later, Winter!

Readers, I have big news.
This morning I wore a dress for at least two whole hours before running back to the bedroom for a sweater and tights. Thrilling stuff, right? I knew I had to have something good to make up for my recent lack of posts...

Things have been quiet here on the blog, but busy enough on the store front. As excited as I am for Spring to finally arrive in my hemisphere, I'm also vaguely nervous about my first Fall/Christmas season. There's a likely chance that sales will halt altogether, but for now I'd rather keep positive and prepare for an influx of international sales!



I have been experimenting with a bunch of new designs and ideas lately, but it's always the gloves that end up the most satisfying. This pair is my current favourite colour combination. There's just something about bright orange with cool grey lately.

Originally I wanted to do something a little more complex with the colour-work, but the simplicity of this pair just kind of works. Available here as of today :)

In other knitting news, I finally decided on yarn to make the long-awaited chunky sweater of my dreams. This lovely blue wool/nylon blend yarn was reclaimed from an old sweater and then washed and re-skeined. It's from an awesome Etsy store called Kitty's Curiosity, and is such an affordable way to buy an entire sweaters worth of nice wool. I can't wait to get started!


The weather is only just starting to change, but I couldn't be more ready to say goodbye to August! Have you started making creative plans for the new season?

18 August, 2014

Beautiful Finds - Etsy Eyecandy

Vintage Justin Roper Boots Ankle Kilties Burgundy Red Mens Size 8 B Womens Size 9.5  From Nowvintage on Etsy

Vintage Justin Roper ankle boots from NowVintage - Oregon, United States. I love the deep burgundy colour!

Ombre jewelry - Ancient Forest green necklace - Natural history jewelry (N079)

Beautiful ombre resin necklace in forest green. Handmade by Beauty Spot, Ukraine.

20 Caramel Jersey - Czech Glass Piggy Beads

Gorgeous Czech glass beads in caramel, from Zoe & Bruno. Victoria, Australia. Seriously check out this store - I have never seen beads look so delicious!

bubinga  wood purple coral hair pin shawl pin

Hand-carved wooden hair/shawl pin by The Ancient Muse, Turkey. I just discovered this store, and if you're looking for interesting things to do with your hair, it's amazing!

Happy Monday everyone!

Apologies for being MIA of late - on top of uni work and knitting new orders I've been doing a little bit of event management. Can't wait to fill you in on the details :D

I'll have plenty to post about once the fun part begins - preparing decorations!

03 August, 2014

A Striped Knit Dress - With Sparkles!

I bought this organic cotton jersey a few months back, after seeing this knit dress from Madewell (no longer available). I have been loving the combination of horizontal and vertical stripes for a while now, and there's nothing better than a looming essay on rhetorical criticism to motivate me to sew!

Warning: Despite my sad hair day, this is a pretty picture-heavy post. This dress is that awesome!

If you have been reading this blog a little while, you might recognise the bodice from my blue striped top. The unexpectedly trusty Simplicity 9427 was a pretty perfect candidate for this dress style.

I cut the size XS, stopping at the waist-line, plus taking a slice out of the center back and a decent amount from the side seams to account for stretch. As happy as I am with the result, I sort of wish I had stayed true to my inspiration and straightened the front side seams. 
Next time I guess!

All seams and top-stitching were done using a ballpoint needle and zig-zag stitch on my regular machine. I used a strip of elastic to gather the skirt pieces before attaching them to the bodice. This means that the waist seam is extra flexible when pulling the dress on and off. PJ level comfort!

The jersey is pretty lightweight, so it's going to be awesome in Summer. For now, though, it goes nicely with tights and a cardigan!

Because the fabric is so thin, I decided to line the bodice for a bit more structure and opacity. The back panel is lined with self-fabric, and was literally the only stripe-matching required for this dress! I lined the front pieces using a soft and slightly thicker cream knit from my scrap pile. 

The greatest thing about this jersey is near invisible in the above photos, so here are some gratuitous close ups. Gold sparkles!

If you want to get your hands on some of this gold striped organic cotton jersey, it's still available via The Remnant Warehouse (AU & NZ). I'm hoping to scrounge a casual top out of my leftovers!

Lining a knit garment is not something I have done before, but with careful pinning it was pretty straightforward. The result is beautiful. I love the clean neckline and the way it makes the whole dress feel more secure. I'm positive that it will last longer too. 

Have you ever lined a knit garment (the Moneta dress, perhaps)? I'd love to hear what you think!

Happy Sunday!