Torrens Box Dress Hack

Torrens Box Dress hand on hip
Torrens Box Dress Side

I’d been dreaming of my own comfortable box dress in the style of Elizabeth Suzann’s Georgia Dress in silk, and I knew this fabric would be gorgeous to wear and would drape well.

I have an entire pinterest board of sack dresses where the vast majority look exactly like the Georgia dress and I think the cute sleeve angle is an integral part of what draws me to the dress!

Torrens Box Dress front

I used the Torrens Box Top pattern (in my usual size A) and simply cut the fabric down in a straight line from where the pattern piece ended. Because the top includes a generous amount of ease, I knew there’d be no need for me to grade out at the hips.

I didn’t include pockets because I was worried about the long-term performance on the silk noil from me jamming heavy things in there, but it would have been easy to draft and add some in-seam pockets in!

Torrens Box Dress back

Trin from A+R Fabrics kindly sent this mirren blue silk noil my way (I believe this blue and the moss green are the two newest colours that she’s started to stock in her silk noil range).

Silk noil is great to sew with! Because of the lovely texture, it’s not at all slippery, and I almost never pinned the seams before I sewed them (except the neckline)! Since it’s a natural fibre, it’s lovely to wear and will work for winter & summer.

Fabric Usage & Size Details:
The silk noil is 110cm wide and I’d say that I could have cut this dress with about 2.5 metres and still had a small amount left over (I cut on the open, rather than with my fabric folded).
I used the Size A for the Torrens and I’m a 47″ bust and 54~” hip, but I had plenty of room at the hips without grading up.

Torrens Box Dress Landscape

Torrens Box Top with Sleeves

Sleeve Torrens

We’ve been working to extend the sizing and also add some long-sleeve options for the Torrens Box Top pattern that we’ve released under Muna and Broad!

This is my second test of the narrow-sleeve extension, and I’m so pleased that I’ve now got the woven drop-shouldered long-sleeve top pattern that I’ve been looking for!

Long Sleeve Torrens

This fabric is cotton crepe from Miss Maude Fabric in New Zealand. I bought this piece as a remnant, and was able to squeeze the whole top out of 1.6×1.4 metres of fabric!

There’s currently a small amount of this fabric left as a remnant!

If you have already purchased the Torrens, you’ll get an email with the new sleeve pieces once we’ve finalised the instructions in the New Year!

Slim Sleeve Torrens

Because I didn’t have much fabric, I wasn’t able to concentrate on pattern matching, but the two sleeves are non-identical twins! They’re pretty close, but the fabric was quite shifty and I didn’t want to stress much about trying to get the crepey squares to lay exactly straight.

The same virtues of the Torrens still apply here- Leila drafted the shoulder for larger bodies and also put a lot of thought in to the neckline as well. I find the neckline to be the perfect width for my narrow shoulders- it’s not too high and my bra straps are never on display. I don’t find that the top slips around during the day, and I certainly never have to pull the top down after it has slid backwards and started choking me at the neck (it just never happens and it’s a total game-changer). So, while this is a deceptively simple looking top that maybe doesn’t strike awe- the comfort factor is next level because there’s no ‘poor-fit’ issues affecting the wearing!

Sewing Family Jammies, for mum and me!

XMAS Family Jammies

Sew Family Jammies, hosted by Sew Altered Style is a Christmas blog tour! Keep up with the blog tour and the fun jammies being sewn on Instagram here.

Front Mum Jammies

Both pairs of PJs are our Glebe Pants from Muna and Broad, but I’m modelling both here since I’ll have to ship these pants off to my mum!

Side Batik Jammies

I used the tour as an excuse to whip myself up some summer pyjama pants! This pair made with thrift-shop batik are pocket-free (because I find the extra fabric to be uncomfortable in bed). This made for an incredibly quick sew!

Silk Pocket Jammies

This winter pair for my mum includes the pockets with a silk lining from an old dressing gown which got threadbare in sections. The inside of the pants are quite fleecy and cosy to wear!

Seated Mum Jammies

I was trying to be incredibly organised when I cut these out for my mum, who has a slightly smaller hip size than me. Since then, Leila has updated the sizing and I could have cut out a size closer to her actual measurements- oh well!

Back Batik Jammies

I didn’t pay any attention at all to pattern matching on either pants, but it’s especially amusing with my batik fabric where I have a bunch flower right in the middle of my left cheek!

Happy Christmas Day to everyone, best wishes for your last minute sewing, other projects and the holidays in general!

Here’s all the links for the previous and future blogs in the Sew Family Jammies Blog Tour!

December 2  Teri // Fa Sew La
December 4  Sierra // Seams Like Sierra
December 6  Emily // Replicate then Deviate
December 10  Heidi // Handmade Frenzy
December 11  Sharon // Sweet Mama Life
December 12  Carrie // Beri Bee Designs
December 13  Katie // KatieKortman.com
December 16  Melissa // A HAPPY STITCH
December 17  Taish // Blooming Skies
December 18  Leanne // Thready For It
December 19  Laurie // Make It Sew with The Bear And Pea Atelier
December 20  Brooke // Idle Sunshine
December 21  Marissa // Sew Help Me
December 23  Lara // Handmade by Lara Liz
December 24  Kelly // Petite Stitchery
December 25  Jess // Broad In The Seams
December 26  Victoria // Victoria Beppler
December 27  Heather // Heather Handmade
December 28  Sylvia // The Ravel Out
December 30  Victoria // Victoria Lucille Anne
December 31  Teronia // Sew Haute Blog

Sunday plus-size pattern roundup #5

It’s only episode 5 and I’m already posting late because holiday-mode Jess doesn’t keep track of what the days are (since it really doesn’t matter). Here’s a selection of patterns which could go winter or summer, depending what you sew them up in (or wear them with). I know lots of the Southern Hemisphere is having incredibly hot weather, but here in Christchurch a coat would still be a useful addition to my wardrobe! This will be the last roundup post until 2020, see you all there!

Number 1, The Sylvia Coatigan

The Sylvia Coatigan from Schnittchen Patterns

Schnittchen seems little known among plus-size sewists but has a great aesthetic and a growing selection of plus size patterns.

Number 2, Glebe Pants

Glebe Pants from Muna and Broad are available from 46.5″-71.5″ hip and are 15% off until Christmas Day


Number 3, Byrdie Button-Up Blouse

Byrdie Button-Up Blouse + Dress from Pattern Scout

Available up to 54″ full bust and 58″ hip, this pattern includes options for 2 shirt views and 2 dress views

Number 4, The Cambria Duster

Cambria Duster from Friday Pattern Company

As always, I’m keen to hear suggestions! I don’t keep up with Big 4 releases, so perhaps there’s patterns there that you think might be perfect!

All about Ramie

Native to China, ramie is a linen-like fibre made from nettles and which is classified as a cellulose fiber, just like cotton, linen and rayon.

Ramie fibers comes from the stem of a nettle plant called China grass (Boehmeria nivea). It looks similar to European nettle but it does not have prickles.

What does Ramie feel like?

Ramie fibre is lustrous, looks like silk and sometimes mistaken for linen. It’s extremely absorbent, much more so than cotton, and also breathes well (much like linen), making it especially comfortable for warm and humid summers.

Left is a blouse of 100% ramie from SUKii

It’s known especially for its ability to hold shape, reduce wrinkling, and introduce a silky lustre to the fabric’s appearance, Ramie is not as durable as other fibers and so is often blended with cotton or wool.

The blue top to the left is 100% Ramie from H.Lorenzo

Ramie fabric is easy care, increases in strength when wet, and does not shrink or lose its shape. It dries quickly and like linen becomes smoother and more lustrous with repeated washing.

Left is 100% ramie shirt EME from Modu Bat

Ramie has been grown in China for many centuries and it may have been used in cloth for wrapping mummies in Egypt. Read more about the history here.

Left is 100% ramie shirt from Dressart Paris

Naturally resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew as well as light damage, rot and insect attack, Ramie is often touted as an eco fabric!

Left is 100% ramie shirt from BabaKud

Is Ramie a highly sustainable & eco-friendly fibre?

Ramie does not require pesticides or herbicides to grow and it can be harvested up to 6 times in a good year. It is very strong with some research suggesting that it is 8 times stronger than cotton.

It’s one of the oldest fiber crops, having been used for at least 6,000 years, but unlike other bast crops, ramie currently requires chemical processing to de-gum the fiber. That was surprising to find out, because it raises the question- how did they de-gum the fiber before harsh chemicals?

As with all fibres, you have to make a judgement call for yourself about what you’re most concerned about. The fibre is vegan (unlike silk or wool), it doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides (like cotton does), but it does use chemicals in the process (which your linen will too unless it is unbleached or processed in a closed-loop process), and if you’re buying ramie which is dyed (instead of unbleached and undyed fabric or bleached and dyed in a closed-loop process) then that could also be another environmental concern.

Where can you buy Ramie fabric?

Armed with that knowledge, if you’d like to give ramie a go, then here are a few places that currently have the fibre in stock

Mood Fabrics in the US stocks some, there’s quite a bit on Etsy, Minerva in the UK stocks this cotton/ramie blend, Metermeter in Europe has an amazing selection of colours, Textile Express in the UK has a selection, I bought mine from Backstreet Bargains in New Zealand, Drapers Fabric in NZ has this linen/ramie blend,
AS Fabrics from NZ has this cotton/ramie blend and the Fabric Store currently has this 90% cotton, 10% ramie pineapple print fabric

Do you have a great source for ramie, or other unusual natural fibres? I’d love to hear about it!