Getting Shirty with Waikerie (and maybe a tiny bit sweary)


Hello from the jungle that is my vege garden. As you can see the caterpillars are making a feast of my cauliflower plants, the caulis themselves have been a bit of a disaster so I’m leaving them to it. The cabbages however are going great guns, if you like coleslaw & wind, my house is the place to be!

It’s been a quiet few weeks here at Plum Towers, perfect for tackling what must be one of my most challenging projects yet, the Waikerie Dress  , from Muna & Broad. This is an extension to their Waikerie Shirt pattern, and I should note, not an especially complicated pattern, particularly given the excellent instructions & the You Tube sewalong .

So why so challenging? Well friends, I had a vision. Not a “Joan of Arc” type vision (although given the state of 2020 so far, quite frankly ANYTHING is possible), but a very particular idea of a dress I wanted, inspired in part by a dress a colleague has been wearing. It’s a brown animal print chiffon number, not to fitted but not super loose, midi length with long sleeves. I found the following pics as inspiration on Pinterest, I think they are Zara.


I knew the right fabric would be critical to stop me veering into “she’s wearing her nightie” territory, so I was VERY pleased to come across the perfect animal print chiffon on the bargain table at Spotlight. I’m a sucker for animal print, but I don’t normally love polyester (Sweaty Betty raise your hand…) I figured the print was spot on and the price even better ($8 a metre, whoop), so even if it ended up being a total disaster I wouldn’t feel too aggrieved.

Sooo lovely to wear 🙂

So was it a total disaster ? Absolutely not, I’m thrilled with this dress, and how close it is to what I originally had in mind. Did I love the process? Mostly. Did I make a couple of absolute clangers that had me reaching for a bucket of Chardonnay? Dear reader, would you expect anything less?


In my defence, chiffon is tricky! Poly chiffon has a bounce that makes it harder to deal with than say silk, but with all the slippery minx qualities of both silk & satin. The edges fray into annoying little bits , plus it’s rather sensitive to heat , but more on that later (sensitive readers be warned, it’s really quite terrible…)

BUT, it has a fab drape, a super fun design, and is inexpensive. Given I was making View A with long sleeves, and needed a generous 4 metres of fabric, cheap was good, if it all ended up a terrible mess I hadn’t emptied my sewing account for naught (don’t laugh, I really do have a separate savings account called the Fabric Fund:)


The first drama was cutting out. Lets just say cats, a slightly blunt pair of scissors & metres of slippery fabric are NOT the ideal combination. I did use a new technique to me, and interfaced my piece of fabric BEFORE cutting out my facings & collar, the interfacing made the fabric so much easier to deal with, and saved time. I can highly recommend  The Fabric Store iron on interfacing, various weights, sold by the metre and it doesn’t come away from the fabric .

I’ve used Muna & Broad patterns before , including a wonderful cami & pants combo and their fab Torrens top, so I knew roughly where I should be size wise. I made the Size C, which I knew to be a few inches smaller than my hip measurement, but the final garment measurements indicated plenty of ease through the hips so I went for it. I also drove to work on Friday with the petrol light on, and didn’t fill up until I was half way home Friday night. I live life on the edge hey!

The bodice & collar came together much more easily than I anticipated, I did take my time, using French seams where I could. A reader on Instagram suggested using starch & water to stiffen the fabric when sewing & I will definitely try that next time. But if there is one thing I’d recommend to a newbie when sewing this kind of fabric it’s use a busy print, way more forgiving then a sheer plain that shows every flaw!


I originally intended to have long cuffed sleeves, but when the dress was made up it just felt a bit “much”. So I took inspiration from my colleagues dress & used an elastic hem, but on shortened sleeves. The elastic draws the volume of fabric gently in, I think its a better silhouette given the volume in the dress itself.

Things started to get hairy when I attached the dress to the bodice, that is a LOT of gathered chiffon. The bottom of the bodice was also fraying terribly, next time I would add a narrow line of interfacing as soon as I cut the pieces out, by the time I added it there was already a lot of hairy fabric . Sewing the dress to the bodice went reasonably well until I then went to overlock the seam (French seams had gone out the window by then!) I discovered a small area where I had caught the seam with the overlocker. Out came the unpicker, surely my most used sewing tool. Sigh.

My superpower.

All was going well. Then it wasn’t. A small rip had appeared right where the bodice meet the dress. Not ideal, but not a total disaster. I thought I would add a small piece of interfacing, then hand sew the tear together. So what do you think happens when you add a too hot iron (I swear it was on the wool setting but apparently not…) to a polyester fabric, when you are so busy focusing on a small area, oblivious to what else your lovely iron is currently singeing? This.

No (repeatable) words.

I was surprisingly calm. A couple of fairly heavy duty swear words, and then somewhere a few synapses fired and I remembered we were dealing with a bodice here. I had omitted the side seam pockets from the original pattern, thinking chiffon was just too light , but maybe Cinderella would go to the Pocket Ball after all…

Camouflage pocket…literally!

It was a pain in the butt to sew, but I’m so glad I did! I reinforced both sides of the hole with interfacing so it wouldn’t get any bigger, then covered with a square pocket. Discovering the rolled hem function on my overlocker was another win, not only did I edge the pockets before sewing onto my bodice, but it was a lovely finish on my hem , approximately three miles of it.

Hiding under the seat…

I’m so pleased with this project, I used a fabric that I knew would challenge me, produced something that, while no means perfect, I’m actually really happy with and learnt some new techniques for next time, that is a win surely? Just don’t let me stand anywhere near an open flame…

Just incase you think I’m a totally rubbish gardener, may I present my cabbage. Don’t hear that every day do you?

I think this was taco night (so many cabbage nights…)

Next project? I found this glorious linen at The Fabric Store, its a vintage wash so quite soft, and how about that colour (called Marmalade)  They have recently released a robe pattern, so in an effort to up my tragic nightwear game (scrubby tees & pants for the win? No…) I have downloaded the Lucie Robe  , perfect shape & generous sizing. I was heading to the counter (honest!) when I spied 20% off on Liberty , so thought maybe a lovely tana lawn for a nightie/PJ situation? I’ve never sewn tana lawn , but gosh it feels beautiful, most important for night wear (there’s a reason so many of us wear those worn tees, they are so soft) This fabric jumped out at me, doesn’t that just say Spring?

Gorgeous !

Lounge wear fabulous here I come…

Have a lovely week friends, stay safe xxx





  1. Joyce says:

    What a fabulous dress, and thanks for the laugh on a Sunday evening. I really needed your wit and humour. But I hate sewing chiffon, and try to avoid it at all costs


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thanks Joyce 🙂 Yes I surprised myself with the chiffon to be honest, I’m going to try silk next (wish me luck!)


  2. Sally Elliott says:

    I love your dress and thank you for posting such a fun read. I use gelatin to stiffen my slippery fabric. I put two packets into cold water and stir. Then, I add the wet fabric and stir some more. I hang it out to dry and iron it once it is. Voila! Easy to work with fabric. Oh yes, you then wash your garment and it is back to the original hand.


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Hi Sally, brilliant, thanks so much , I have gelatin in my pantry, will give it a go! x


  3. Deb says:

    Well, it looks lovely in the end.


  4. M-C says:

    Love the chiffon dress, and what an impressive recovery from a really nasty accident! I can’t encourage you enough about that cheerful lawn fabric though, it’s divinely comfortable


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thank you, yes I did have a “moment”, just so lucky it was the right spot on the bodice at least! After that I’m so looking fwd to sewing that wonderful lawn🤗


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