My galaxy-print birthday sheath dress

Happy birthday to meeeeee! I hinted about it last week, but I decided to celebrate the occasion this year by sewing up something special to wear, using a fabric that I’ve lusted over for months even before I broke down and ordered it. My feeling is that if you adore the fabric or pattern (or both!) then the resulting garment is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit.

For this dress I used the Derek Lam-inspired knit sheath from the January 2014 Manequim magazine combined with the most amazing galaxy print ponte jersey which is even nicer in real life, I swear! It’s a digital print on a smooth, white ponte jersey base, and it’s both stable and stretchy, making it the bestest fabric ever (and I have just over a metre leftover! woo!).

It’s been a while since I sewed a Manequim pattern and I’ve dropped in size over the past few months of marathon training to a 42 (Burda 40), so I decided to sew up a muslin of this first to test the fit. The resulting turquoise ponte muslin was very close fitting, and I wasn’t entirely certain at first whether it was too tight, or utterly perfect. So I lounged around in it for a day, decided it was comfortable enough, then cracked on with the final version without any pattern changes.

The final version is definitely tighter than the muslin, though, and I’m fairly certain it’s down to adding the lining layer, even though it’s stretchy! You can definitely see some horizontal pulls in the dress showing it’s a tad too tight, and it’s a struggle to get that waist seam on and off over my boobs, but one it’s on, it’s not uncomfortable, thankfully!

The pattern is really simple – a front bodice with both vertical and horizontal bust darts, back bodice with long vertical darts, raglan cap sleeves, and a skirt pattern with vertical waist darts (the same skirt pattern is used for both front and back). The pattern calls for a long invisible zipper, but as I could easily get the muslin dress on and off without it, I was going to leave it off the finished version, too…

…until I discovered the most perfect purple, metal teeth zipper in my stash! So then I decided I had to use it and make it an exposed zipper feature instead. It was a bit shorter than I’d have liked, but it reached exactly to the waist seam, which worked out nicely visually (though for ease of getting in and out of it, a longer zipper would’ve been much better!).

A sneaky peek of next week

Two big and exciting things are happening next week, and I wanted to give you a tiny peek at both of them so that you’re as excited as I am!

First – it’s my birthday on Tuesday, and I’m sewing myself something special, like I do every year. This year it’s going to be in the form of that Derek Lam-inspired knit sheath from the January 2014 Manequim magazine combined with the most amazing galaxy print ponte jersey which is pretty much the only selfish Me Fabric I’ve bought in six months.

Oh, and I happened to find this perfect zipper in my stash, so it’s going to be exposed in the back!

The second exciting thing is that my next pattern is ready for a launch next week!!

Please welcome the Duathlon shorts into your life! They come in three lengths: Booty Shorts, Biker Shorts, or Capris, and feature contrast side panels with integrated pockets (perfect for your phone, gels, or keys). There’s also optional crotch padding to make cycling more comfortable, and they’re perfect for cycle commuters who prefer to wear skirts but still want some padding (and modesty!), but also for runners, dancers, lifters, and yoga-heads, too.

Manequim magazine February 2014

Wow, everyone in Brazil must’ve been partying their bums off at carnival because my February issue was really late – I’d normally be expecting to see March any day now! But I’m just glad it arrived at all, because it’s a really good one, and features one must sew for me in particular!

First up are the Plus offerings for this issue. They may not seem like much, but all three look to be very wearable and versatile, and those bermuda shorts are offered in multiple sizes, too.

The designer style section this month is Victoria Beckham, and, all Spice Girl and WAG celebrity-BS aside, I actually really love a lot of her designs and find they intersect with my own personal style an awful lot. Here we get patterns for a really nicely shaped sheath dress, narrow trousers, and – the one that made me bolt upright when I turned the page – a draped, crossover blouse.

OH. MY. GOD. I adore… freaking adore… this blouse! That I can’t quite immediately work out the construction of that drape from the pattern pieces makes me want to make it even more. And, umm, it’s also in my new size, too. LOVE!

Manequim magazine January 2014

The latest issue of the Brazilian pattern magazine, Manequim, has arrived in my postbox and hurrah – it’s a special dress issue!

Omg, what a super cute asymmetric skort! I’m not the biggest shorts fan, but I would totally wear this! I love how the front panels are sewn into the front seams of the legs, too. Very cool.

I’m not a fan of the cropped jacket with a million fabrics, but the hem on the skirt is quite novel and a shape I’ve not seen before… (As is the one on the front cover, actually)

The designer inspiration this month is Derek Lam, and I totally love this knit sheath dress, even though it’s quite a basic design. I reckon I’m probably a size 42 now anyway, and I would totally wear this in a bright canary yellow ponte!

Manequim magazine December 2013

Brazil may be on opposite seasons for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, but there’s a lot to love in this issue, and importantly, lots of separates that can be layered and thus worn nearly all year round! Let’s take a look at my highlights, shall we?

First up is a group of Plus-sized patterns, all made up in white. The dress and shorts are alright, and the trousers have some interesting pleated godets at the hems, but ooh, look! It’s that jacket I loved from the first November issue (seen here on the right), but graded up to size 48!

The designer style this month is Emanuel Ungaro, and when I first looked at these two, I thought the one on the left was a skirt pattern, and the one on the right was a dress, but they’re actually the other way around!

Manequim magazine November 2013 (yes, another!)

Manequim always have two issues in November, apparently because there’s “too much summer to contain in one issue!” or something to that effect! There were quite a few things I like in the first issue but this one was mostly shorts, swimsuits, and Plus-sized patterns (all being things I don’t really wear) but there were a handful of highlights…

First up is my very favourite garment of this issue – a silk tank with chiffon inserts and contrast bands! It’s paired with some tie-waist trousers and also a casual jersey skirt, too (despite the styling, this was not in the style of a particular designer – just a bumper summer clothing feature).

You’d be forgiven for not seeing anything special in these trousers, but omg look at the tech drawing! Those curved seams, that topstitching (or is it pintucks? Or pleating?)! If only these were in my size…

Manequim magazine November 2013

I really should complain about my magazines not arriving more often – right after I mentioned that it hadn’t arrived yet, the (first) November Manequim turned up in my postbox! Let’s see if the second November issues makes its way to me soon… (Yes, Manequim has two issues in November. No, I don’t know why that is.)

In any case, it must be hoiday party season, because there’s a SEQUIN JUMPSUIT on the cover! Hooray everyone, let’s all dance in sequin jumpsuits!! (or, you know, chase after a toddler or do the laundry or sit in a cubicle…)

You wouldn’t know it unless you flipped to the back to check out the line drawing, but omg this jacket has incredible seam lines! I also love that it’s got the tuxedo-style notches, but no collar so therefore no roll to worry about either. Even the back looks amazing, with the extra seams around the sides. I reckon I could fit into a size 42 now….

On the very next page they’ve got another pattern with great seaming details – this time a corselette! Something like this would probably require a lot of muslins to get it fitting precisely to your own curves, but the payoff would be worth it.

Manequim magazine October 2013

Can you handle two Brazilian pattern magazines in one week? After my earlier Moda Moldes review, you might be already crying uncle and pining for caipirinhas on Copcabana, but hold on, because there’s much more in store from Manequim below…

Strangely, the first patterns in the magazine this month aren’t for humans, but for Barbie dolls! I’ve never seen doll patterns in any of my pattern magazines before, let alone designer-inspired dresses and coat (really, I’d prefer if they’d just given us the full-size versions!). Really, though, I shouldn’t complain, as these patterns are free to download, so you might be able to make a little girl very happy in time for Christmas…

There are only three Plus patterns this month (even though Barbie got four!!), but they’re all really nice – a yoked tunic top that would be a perfect silk tee, a dress with fantastic contrast raglan seaming, and a sleeveless top with a blazer-like shawl collar that I’m considering knocking off for myself…

I just think this maxidress is so elegant! I tend to like pale, solid colours anyway, but the surplice neckline with the folded-over lapels is just a lovely touch, and one I’ve not seen in any other pattern. I must file this one away in the memory bank for future franken-patterning. (But seriously, how lovely would this be for a bridesmaid’s gown??)

Manequim magazine September 2013

Twice a year we end up overlapping a little between the Fall fashions here in the UK and the Spring fashions over in Brazil, and when that happens, it’s just magic! I know it’s warming up there but I can’t help but be inspired for Fall by this issue!

First up are a bunch of Plus-sized patterns – here there’s a nice jacket, a really interesting blouse, and a basic shirtdress, but there’s also a surplice dress, a lace dress, and another blouse included in the Plus range this month. Often there’s only one pattern!

I absolutely love the seaming and neckline of this crop top, but even I’m not brave enough to wear this out with my stomach exposed, so I’d definitely lengthen it myself!

The designer inspiration feature this month is Proenza Shouler and I utterly adore this piped sheath dress, and the blouse with tulip sleeves (in a variety of sizes) isn’t bad, either!

I nearly squealed with delight when I turned the page and saw these shorts! Regular readers will know I am not a shorts fan but I started running in them this summer and am completely won over (for running anyway!). I’ve been looking for a pattern to mimic my Nike split-side seam shorts for ages and found nothing – until now! These are pretty much exactly what I was looking for, and it’s offered in multiple sizes, too! Attach a lining panty at the waistband and you’re ready. Thank you, Manequim!!

Manequim magazine August 2013

I’ve got so much going on right now to show you all in good time, like some new tutorials, site features, and more, but in the meantime let’s have a look at the latest Manequim magazine.

The downside is that they removed the little tech drawings next to the fashion photoshoots so not only do I now have to keep flipping back and forth to the instructions at the back to see the pattern lines (extra annoying since they’re not in numerical order in the magazine) but I’ve also got to do extra image editing work to show you the tech drawings, dear readers!

But the upside is that at least there’s a lot of great patterns this month, cough unlike Burda cough

In the soap star style section, this little black dress and chiffon blouse both caught my eye. The dress in particular looks like something I’d totally wear!

This men’s yoked & lined jacket looks really nice! They say the pattern is online, though but I don’t see it in the list of free patterns (totally worth checking out though anyway!)? Can anyone find it on the site?

This issue apparently apparently celebrates Manequim’s 54 years as “the best fashion magazine in Brazil”. Seems an arbitrary number of years for a celebration, but no matter. I like seeing the original first issue cover, but I’d have liked it more had they given us some vintage reprint patterns!