A Dress For All Seasons

Dress: Ever By X

“Six weeks” ahahahahah… yeah, nah. It’s been twelve weeks since I wrote that post, and Melbourne has at least another two weeks of stage four lockdown left to go (more, if certain inconsiderate people end up getting the ‘rona after their beach revelries and shopping centre “protests”). Stage four has meant: Everything is closed except chemists, supermarkets, petrol stations, and cafes that do takeaway. Allowed out of your house for no more than an hour a day. Not allowed further than 5km of your house. Not allowed out at all between 8pm and 5am. Masks for everyone.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I haven’t posted for three months because I’ve been living in my pyjamas, but I’ve actually been trying desperately to inject some level of normal routine into my life, so I get up. I eat breakfast. I shower, and I get dressed for work.

I’m having kind of a tough self-image time lately though. I haven’t been able get my hair cut since March, my eyebrows are a mess, my eyelashes are non-existent. I’m glad I decided to embrace my silvers when they came in, because the regrowth would be A Thing To Behold by this point. I still haven’t quite managed to come to terms with the changes in my body since pregnancy; and post-winter, post-iso, post-c-section, none of my clothes are fitting properly. Long story short, I’m just not feeling as comfortable in my skin as I know I can be.

It’s the worst thing when you’re having a bad-self-image day, and suddenly nothing in your wardrobe is your friend. I don’t know about you, but if the first outfit I try in the morning doesn’t work for me (as is increasingly the issue at the moment) I end up cycling through half my wardrobe trying to find something that doesn’t make me feel like crap. I was sick of it.

I saw the One Dress from Every By X advertised on my Instagram feed a month or so ago, and it seemed to by the answer to my problems. Light, comfortable, endlessly adaptable, easy care, non-creasing, breastfeeding-friendly, and versatile enough to wear to a fancy dinner or the beach. I wanted something I could pull out of my wardrobe that would look good no matter what kind of body-day I was having (and that I could wear several times in a row without anyone wondering if maybe I hadn’t gone home the night before).

At $360, the One Dress was an Investment with a capital “I”, but I reasoned that you can wear it (at least) seven different ways, so it’s actually $51 a dress, which is extremely reasonable. Also it was advertised as one-size-fits 6 to 22 (I’m a size 18-20 with G cups, and there’s room to spare, so I reckon the size range could be extended) so I figured I’d be able to keep wearing it for years, no matter what further surprises my body had in store for me.

Anyway. I bought it, and I’m so glad I took the gamble.

Dress: Ever By X
Shoes: Seychelles
Bangle: Dinosaur Designs

The One Dress by Ever By X is the creation of Kerryl Bullen, a mother of twins (oh my god, I can’t imagine) who basically wanted to make a dress that was going to work for women no matter what stage of life they were in. She runs a local and sustainable business that sources upcycled fabrics, makes the dresses locally, and boasts a zero carbon footprint.

The dress itself is a clever and classic style that actually delivers on the promises it makes. It has clever pleating at the shoulders that allows it to drape beautifully over a variety of shapes (yes, even the Rack of Doom). Tiny little buttons are hidden on the inside of the neckline down to the waist, so as not to distract from the clean lines of the dress. The elbow-length sleeves are cuffed, the skirt tapers to curved hems at a midi length (I’m 165cms tall), and did I mention pockets?

Dress: Ever By X
Shoes: Rockport
Belt: Trenery

The really clever thing though, are the two sets of tiny gaps concealed in the seams of the dress that allow you to tie the sash (or your own belt) in a myriad of different ways to achieve different looks.

Dress: Ever By X
Leggings: Taking Shape
Shoes: Bared

The dress comes with a little booklet that walks you through some styles (Cape, crossover, sheath, caftan, cinch, etc), but I’d definitely say have an experiment of your own too.

Dress: Ever By X
Belt: Modcloth
Shoes: Chie Mihara

Anyway. This is my new favourite dress, and I’m glad I can just chuck it in the wash and it dried quickly without needing ironing, because I’ve been wearing it a lot! I can’t wait to wear it OUT too! (Come on Melbourne, we can do this.)

Life is a Maskerade

WELP, to the enormous surprise of absolutely no-one we’re back in lockdown here in Melbourne. It’s going to be a long six weeks, but I’m very conscious of how lucky we are that we have a state Premier who cares enough about us that he’ll do the unpopular thing and lock us down (since it’s obvious we can’t be trusted to do the right thing by ourselves). Massive Dad vibes there.

They’ve also finally changed their tune about masks, and are recommending that people wear them when they’re in situations where it’s difficult to socially distance (supermarkets, testing queues, etc).

I’ve made a number of cloth masks since March – including this slightly OTT embroidered version – and I’ve had quite a few people asking for the pattern/tutorial, so here we go!

I tweaked a couple of different mask patterns that I found on the internet, and the very wonderful Ginevra Martin turned my dodgy drawing into a beautiful PDF pattern for you to print and cut out – here it is!

So! Once you’ve printed your mask pattern there’s a few different options – whether you want to include a pocket for a removable filter, whether you want shaped eyeholes, whether you want a fancy embroidered version… I’m going to try and do a bit of an illustrated tutorial here, but please let me know if you get stuck or if something isn’t clear.

As far as fabric goes – a tightly-woven fabric, probably in a natural fiber. Quilting cotton is ideal, but I’ve also used calico, a linen and cotton blend. The tutorial has me using a tea towel.

If you want shaped eyeholes it’s best to free-hand it (since everyone’s eyes are different, and some people prefer more facial coverage – or less) Just draw a scooped line as pictured.

Fold your fabric in half, and line the edge marked “fold” up with the folded side, then cut your piece out. You’ll need two pieces for your mask.

If your fabric is a bit loosely woven, or you just want a bit more protection, it might be worth interfacing the piece of fabric you want to have for the front. You don’t need to interface the edges as these will be rolled to encase the ties. Only interface the front piece.

Fold your pieces again right sides together, and sew the two really short diagonal seams. These will form the darts for your nose and chin.

Press the darts open, then repeat for the second piece.

Hooray! You have made your front & back mask pieces! The bigger dart is for your nose, the smaller one is for your chin. Maybe hold it up to your face at this point and make sure you don’t need to make any adjustments.

If you want to include a pocket for a replaceable filter take the back piece for your mask (non interfaced) and hold it up to your face. Fold the side in, making sure that you still have plenty of mouth coverage.

Cut off the excess fabric, leaving enough to fold over (wrong sides together because this is your lining piece) and sew a seam to finish the edge.

If you don’t want to include a filter skip all the steps in green text!!

OK! Now put your two mask pieces together, right sides together, and pin the tops and bottoms together.

Sew the two mask pieces together along the top and the bottom (but not the sides), then turn right way out and press.

Again, if you’re making the version with the filter pocket you’ll have a bit of unfinished fabric on the front piece of the mask that corresponds to the fabric that you cropped off the back piece. Just press the edges down and finish them.

Nearly there!

So, you can fasten your mask with ties around the back of the head or elastic around the backs of the ears. I prefer the elastic, but the steps are the same regardless. Turn the edges of the mask in twice (towards the back of the mask!) to form a casing to thread your ribbon/elastic.

Sew a seam down the rolled side, as close to the edge as possible.

Using a safety pin you can thread the elastic through the casing that you’ve sewn.

Do the same for the other side. You can see the pocket that has been created for the filter in the image below. This is obviously the back of the mask!

Fit the ties/elastic to be comfortable. (Ease the knots for the elastic into the casing for the sake of tidiness)

Voila!

The World Health Organisation has some good do’s and don’ts for safe cloth mask wearing, and I’d definitely recommend you follow them (here)

If you want to make an embroidered mask like the one pictured at the top of the post, the steps are exactly the same, but I’d recommend embroidering the fabric before you cut it out. Draw the shape of the mask on your fabric, then (being conscious of the seams, so don’t embroider right to the edges) mark up your pattern. After you’ve finished your embroidery interface the reverse side to help keep the threads in place during washing. This has worked fine for my mask (so far!)

Mine was inspired by an embroidery kit that I bought from Lily Adelaide Upton on Etsy. It was a totally fabulous pattern, and the kit came with everything you needed (hoop, thread, pen, material, etc). The instructions were terrific for this complete beginner, and I’d definitely recommend it if you wanted to try embroidery for the first time.