“I think this new dress is a hoot”

Happy Waitangi Day everyone! For those of you outside NZ, Waitangi Day is almost sort of like Australia Day or maybe Independence Day, but it’s less “go us!” and more controversial.  Itcommemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, a contract between the Maori people and the British colonists back in 1840. The Treaty is still a big deal these days (for good reason) although some people think it’s importance implies some kind of “reverse racism”*.

*I can only hope that most of you know that reverse racism is not a thing.

The best part, other than the whole colonial accountability, is that Waitangi Day is a public holiday – which I get to take advantage of now that I have a 9-5 job!

We’ve had a nice day tidying and cleaning in preparation for Mr. Guy’s brother, sister-in-law and their son coming to visit. Also cooking, because we realised we had run out of fenugreek AFTER doing the prep for curry, so had to make a ragu as well. That does mean no sewing over this long weekend but I got a lot done last weekend so I’m happy!

You may recognise this pattern as the Gillian wrap dress by Muse Patterns. As soon as I saw Tanya’s version I remembered how much I had wanted to make another – I’ve made the top version (unblogged) but the dress is my favourite. The fabric is a cotton knit with owls printed on it that I got from one of the 2013 Fabric-A-Brac’s.

I made the same size as last time, (size 38 graded out to size 44 in the hips, with 6cm added to the length) but lengthened the bodice by 2cm because I find the top too short in the bodice. Probably because of the difference in skirt weight between top and skirt, that was overkill on the dress and it’s a touch too long, but not annoyingly so.

While I lengthened the bodice, I kept the neckband the same length so it’s a bit tighter. The contrast fabric I used for the yokes and bands is a cotton-lycra jersey that is very stretchy so it could do with being even tighter!

I think it says a lot about my usual dress sense that Mr. Guy would call a knit dress covered in owls “rather sophisticated, like evening wear”.

I must say, I really really like this pattern. I think it looks fantastic on everyone I’ve seen wear it, and I think it looks fantastic on me. It’s also really fun to make with the gathers and the interesting waistband, and it’s comfortable. The main problem for patterns like these is finding suitable fabrics – I think I’ve mentioned before how dire the fabric situation where I live (I have to drive 7 hours or fly to get to a good fabric shop) and knit fabrics are even trickier to find than wovens. I’ve ordered some swatches from Levana so I might finally get a one-coloured Gillian (and I’ll get to make up the Natalie dress I’ve traced out)


Pattern: Gillian wrap dress by Muse Patterns

Fabric: Owl-print cotton knit from Fabric-A-Brac, Not sure of the cost – ??$20

Notions: Thread and interfacing (for shoulders), stash

Total: Maybe $20 for the fabric.

Photos were again taken at Rototai beach, one of the only places you can take dogs in Golden Bay. And this time at high tide, so Jessie-Dog could go for a swim

37 thoughts on ““I think this new dress is a hoot”

  1. Hilarious comment by Guy. But I just wanted to comment on Waitangi Day being controversial – I want to know more! I thought that of the examples you gave NZ has the least controversy about its settlement. Australia Day is VERY controversial (it’s also known as Invasion Day)!

    • Yeah and added to that Australia day is basically “patriotism day”. I think my meaning is more about the Treaty than the day – a lot of people seem to think Maori are getting “special treatment” in NZ as opposed to what’s really happening, which is redress for the shit that happened when the British (and others) colonised NZ, the effects of which are still being felt today. Two particular examples:

      – the need for Maori seats in government and on local governing bodies. People complain about the Maori seats in parliament (“because people can just vote for the Maori party!”) but it’s not just about a lack of equal representation (which is still a problem – and you have to remember that the Maori party is still a political party and doesn’t speak for the whole Maori population), but is about us having a contract that guarantee’s self-governance of the Maori people

      – “Maori scholarships” I used to think they were bullshit when I was a teenager, but after some thinking (and an incredible lecture in second year uni, I think I might have actually cried) I realise that it’s to try and reduce our own privilege, rather than giving Maori any kind of privilege – in 2006 only 4.2% of medical students were Maori (up to 10.6 in 2011 – source http://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/in-print/2011/november-2011/30-november-2011/agreement-looks-to-increase-maori-docs.aspx), and only 3% of doctors are Maori. Compare this to the general population (about 15% at the 2013 census)

      I’m not sure if I’m articulating my point well here. New Zealand seems to have one of THE best track records for this sort of historical redress, particularly compared to the USA or Australia (who either ignore it or make it worse) but it’s still interesting to see how many people just… don’t get it. And how many kiwis are actually pretty racist (just read the stuff.co.nz articles about anything related to the issue!)
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…“I think this new dress is a hoot”My Profile

      • I don’t see the contradiction in realising both that NZ is one of the better countries in respecting its indigenous population and at the same time aknowleging that there is still a long way to go. My favourite piece on why there isn’t such a thing as reverse racism is this one

        Love the dress by the way, well done you for making “Beach Dog Walking to Sophisticated Evening Wear” – sounds a winner! I have never wanted to make a wrap dress, ever, until I saw this pattern. Your owls have just pushed it slightly higher up my list….
        R recently posted…Guest Post By The BoyMy Profile

        • That was an amazing read, thank you for the link. The first bit reminds me of what my brother said recently, how when he was at university people complained about there being a Womens Room – “why isn’t there a mens room?”. Answer: because there doesn’t need to be.

          I hope you do try the pattern!
          Sophie-Lee recently posted…“I think this new dress is a hoot”My Profile

          • You’re welcome. I like that blog a lot.

            Before wrap dresses I WILL conquer trousers. And make the girl a birthday present. Or two. Oh and hubby’s birthday is the week after. And I got a new t shirt pattern for Christmas. And I haven’t made the bleuet dress yet. But soon I tell you, soon.

            • HA! I, too, have a big list of things I want to/should be sewing: top of the list is a pair of corduroy pants for my husband, the fabric was bought over a year ago. I just promised him I’d try and get them done before winter so at least I’ve got some time!

      • I love this commentary very much. In the USA so many of my friends like to intellectualize racism into an idea that doesn’t impact them. Of course these same people refuse to acknowledge that white privilege could be a thing you are born into having nothing to do with status or wealth, just skin color. I also love your dress, and must say it’s certainly not without elegance. Who says a bird needs to be a peacock to be elegant? I guess I’m not sure a chicken could be elegant, but your owls certainly are.

  2. The dress looks great! One of the things I love about sewing (and there’s many) is the ability to get a perfect fit. Great job! Also, fabric shopping? Gah, I wish there was a NZ online fabric store that sold more than just quilting fabrics.

    • Yes! Me too, that would be amazing. There’s one online shop that sells Liberty but it’s about $50/m which I’m not quite ready for. A few weeks ago I went to about 5 different fabric shops in the Nelson region and while I was amazed that there was that many, the vast majority of what they sold was either quilting fabric, or 100% polyesters.
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…“I think this new dress is a hoot”My Profile

  3. Love the dress. I haven’t ordered samples from Levana but have from Fabric Warehouse and the Fabric Store. Our only fabric shop is Spotlight and they have very few nice knit fabrics

    • Where are you based? Last time I went to my local Spotlight (Nelson) I actually shuddered a couple of times… sometimes you can find some nice wovens, but rarely nice knits. I might have to give The Fabric Warehouse a call and get some swatches (I went to the Fabric Store sale and wasn’t able to find any good knits, instead I bought a few silks which I’m currently too scared to sew with)
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…“I think this new dress is a hoot”My Profile

  4. I’m part Maori (also Tongan), so I guess I should be celebrating? Lol :)

    I do so love this dress! I think Guy is right as it looks like you could out for a nice dinner it. It’s so darn lovely and the colors look great together and on you. This makes me want to make another Gillian. Just have to find me a good knit combo. Cool (and nice) knits with prints like yours aren’t easy to find here either!
    tanyamaile recently posted…Sailors are My Weakness [The Smuggler’s Daughter Dorothy Lara Dress]My Profile

  5. Oooooooooh, what a pretty dress! It’s really, really cute on you, plus, secret owls! It’s really great!

    And ughhhh… there’s a constant chorus of lunatics screaming “Reverse racism!” over here. I wish there was a way to impart empathy and compassion to the masses. :(
    Ginger recently posted…How To… Sew with Faux Fur!My Profile

  6. Love the dress and will be checking it out. Have you looked at Jellicoe Fabrics in Wakatu Industrial Park Richmond? They have lots of knits and woven fabrics. Thanks for sharing

    • Yeah I was lucky enough that they let me sneak in the back entrance after they closed slightly early when I was over in Richmond one day. But, unfortunately, almost ALL they had was polyester (maybe 3 fabrics in total weren’t) and I ended up buying something because I felt bad for imposing on them, rather than actually wanting to buy anything.
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…“I think this new dress is a hoot”My Profile

  7. Oh Sophie-Lee – I adore this dress. Between you and Tanya I’ve got to get it made up. Your weekend sounds lovely – your dress is spectacular and you look amazing! g

  8. I love your dress! There was a good fabric shop in Nelson but it closed down, probably 18 months ago. I know it’s further away from you again, but there is a lovely fabric shop in Blenheim. Not a huge range of patterned knits but definitely some. I made a Gillian dress (not yet blogged) in blue polka dot knit fabric which came from The Sewing Shop in Blenheim and it’s lovely.

    I also have the Natalie cut out, and the Jenna…. I used to be all about Cake sewing patterns and have many Tiramisu dresses and espresso leggings, plus some hummingbird tops and skirts and a pavlova circle skirt, but now I’m all about Muse, and loving that Kat’s a New Zealand designer.
    Sandra recently posted…Gillian dress by Muse PatternsMy Profile

    • Ohhh that is very good to know – we’re supposed to be going to Blenheim this weekend to see a friend play at the Wine and Food Festival, so maybe I can sneak in on Saturday morning!

      I’ve made the Tiramisu dress a couple of times before realising it just didn’t look good on me.

  9. In the picture you can’t see the owls until you enlarge. So I thought it was sophisticated too :)

    Actually I like the length on you! Very flattering!!

  10. That dress looks great! Levana is my number one fabric shop, their factory shop is amazing, such cheap merino. I’ve never ordered from them online so I’d be interested to see how you get on.

    • I find order sight-unseen quite hard – online shopping is a bit better because you can see photos, but if they don’t include much information I wont buy. I got some swatches sent from Levana and might buy a couple of yards or the cotton/elastane, and stock up on merino’s when the weather gets colder!

  11. Pingback: Fabric-a-brac creations | Fabric-a-brac

  12. Beautiful dress. I’m so tempted to buy the pattern as you are almost my long lost twin apart from I’m a few inches shorter. Inspiring me to stop buggering about and crack on with some sewing instead of hoarding fabric! Thanks.

    • I enourage you to do so! It is one of my top favourite patterns ever. Cleverly designed and looks amazing on everyone I’ve seen it on so far.

      And oohhh, I know all about the hoarding tendencies!

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