There are certain items of clothing that are honoured with the title of “staple”. A good pair of blue jeans, a classic white button-up, black heels which take you from day to night. I’m rounding out my wardrobe staples with the help of my new Eucalypt dress: a classic, sophisticated tank style dress with the added benefit of comfort! For this post for Beginner Sews, I’ll take you through my journey sewing Eucalypt!
STARTING THE MAKE
I started the making process this time a little different than when I made Sudley (you can check out that blog post here!). Like with my Flint make, I first hopped on to the blog and went through the ideas and inspiration behind Eucalypt. I know that one of the benefits of making your own wardrobe is the versatility of patterns, but holy cow was I impressed. Eucalypt is only a simple tank top/dress, but with just a little imagination you can easily make it a gathered waist maxi, a drop waist dress with a collar and pockets, a colour block statement top, the possibilities are endless!
I also went through the maker roundup for Eucalypt for some direction. It’s so fascinating to me how just choosing different fabrics or making slight alterations can make something so customised and unique—even though it’s the same pattern! Plus, it’s just a bonus to see what the maker community comes up with.
TO MATCH, OR NOT TO MATCH?
I actually printed my Eucalypt pattern and chose the fabric before Christmas. My vision was a white linen tank dress that I could wear down to the shops with sneakers, or dress up with a strappy heel and a belt to wear on hot Perth nights. The fabric I chose for my Eucalypt is a gorgeous white linen blend with a raised velvet stripe detail that added some texture and pattern. Now I saw this fabric as pretty simple and was very excited for an easy sew. But in my excitement over this gorgeous fabric, I didn’t recognise that the gorgeous textured stripes would introduce me to the concept of pattern matching.
As I was cutting out my pieces, I realised I had a choice in front of me. I could either leave the pieces with the patterns unmatched or attempt to match them and run the risk of either not having enough fabric or the stripes not matching perfectly. I went for the latter (I figured an amateur attempt at pattern matching is better than no attempt at all), and with the help of our wonderful design assistant Naomi, I figured out a cheat’s way of matching the patterns: stack the front and back pieces together with the corresponding notches meeting, and mark on one of your paper pieces with a pencil wherever a part of the pattern falls on your other piece. Then, when you move your marked piece back to its correct spot on the fabric, you line up the pattern with your pencil markings and pin in place!
The fabric I chose was pretty slippery, so I used some pattern weights to keep it from shifting too much as I pinned and cut the fabric. I chose to grade the pattern (this is when you blend sizes to accommodate different parts of the body, e.g. grading up a size to accommodate your hips) as I wanted my Eucalypt to flow over my hips. Looking back, this step wasn’t necessary. Since the Curve pattern is drafted for a curvier figure, it is more than accommodating. I still like the finish grading the pattern gave me though!
I also cut out a bunch of bias binding strips to make the binding on the neckline and armholes. To avoid repetitive cutting (and to protect your sanity), follow Naomi’s tutorial on how to make bulk bias binding—it will save you so much time, and give you nice, uniform bias binding strips.
Once I had all of my pieces cut out it was on to the fun part—making!
The Curve Eucalypt has darts at the bust since it was drafted for larger bust sizes. Now, even though I’ve worn plenty of items with darts, I didn’t really appreciate their function. A dart is basically a fold in the fabric which comes to a neat little point—you sew it in, and then you’ve got a nice little tuck that gives your garment some shape! Darts are as utilitarian as they are decorative; you can adjust darts to tailor clothing to your exact shape. If you’d like a tutorial on how to do a full bust adjustment using darts, we have one here!
Sewing the dart, you want to start from the raw edge of the fabric and work your way into the dart’s point, making sure the right sides of your fabric are touching. I’d sewn darts before on the Flint pants (you can check out that make here!) but a bust dart seemed so much more intimidating. My biggest fear was that because my fabric had a directional print if my darts were even the slightest bit uneven I’d end up with wonky stripes across my chest. But in the face of sewing anxiety, there is only one cure: just sew the darn thing. It can be unpicked and re-sewn to your heart’s content, so just go for it. So even though I was intimidated, after reading the instructions (and with help from Naomi) I became a lot more confident with sewing bust darts. I love learning these things as I go—it demystifies sewing and gives me so much more appreciation for my clothes.
After sewing the dart the rest of the construction was very straightforward: I used French seams to attach the front and back of the dress, and made sure to have my seams sewed down in the same direction (Shoulder seams going to the back; darts pressed and sewed down towards the hem). This gives such a clean, professional finish. Now, the bias facing!
After sewing together all of my bias binding strips, I attached them according to the instructions. Attaching a bias facing is really intuitive once you’ve got the hang of it; my biggest tip is to make sure everything is pressed flat and go slow. I’d also recommend checking out this blog post from Holly, where she walks us all through some different bias facing methods. The first method is actually how I attached the Eucalypt bias facing, and her photos make it so clear!
Then it was time to hem (this make just flew by!). Since Eucalypt has a curved hem, it’s a good idea to take this step slowly. I started by sewing a line of stitches ¼” (6mm) from the raw edge of the fabric to act as a guideline. Then, you turn in the raw edge to meet these stitches: fold inwards again another ¼” (6mm) to get our ½” seam allowance, press, pin, and topstitch—you’ve got yourself a hem! This is pretty basic for anyone who was sewn before, but I took my time with this step to make sure my Eucalypt was finished nicely.
A NEW STAPLE IN MY ME-MADE WARDROBE
I’m so, so, so happy with my Eucalypt! It’s a quick make, but it’s such a wonderful wardrobe staple that I’ll definitely be wearing regularly through our hot Summer. After finishing my dress I went out and got some other fabrics to make some tanks and another dress. I’ve also been motivated by the ideas and inspiration behind the pattern to do some customising—I love that you can build onto existing patterns and make something completely unique! This is a great pattern to start with if you’re a beginner like me, or if you’re a more advanced maker looking for a minimal-fuss sew with maximum reward.
LOOKING FOR MORE EUCALYPT POSTS?
Here’s the full list of posts and tutorials that will be included in the Eucalypt Sewalong:
- Useful Eucalypt Tutorials (this post!)
- Raising the Eucalypt armscye
- Three ways to sew a bias-facing neckline
- How to make bias tape
- How to add faux shoulder ties
- How to sew a gathered waist Eucalypt
- How to make a jersey maxi dress
- Button front Eucalypt
- Zip front Eucalypt
- Cottesloe & Eucalypt Maker Round-Up
- Inspiration & Ideas for the Eucalypt Top & Dress