Parlour Debut: The Amelia Ensemble

Hey folks!

Sorry about the radio silence. I’ve really got my nose to the grinder these days, and also sometimes I like… get a little overwhelmed by how much traction this is getting? :’D Which is the opposite of a problem! But also, wow, scary. Scary. Still trying to figure out how to manage that particular hurdle of things.

I’ve recently had a bunch of you come over from While She Naps, which if y’all aren’t in on it yet is a blog/podcast from Abby Glassenberg. Welcome to all of you! Thanks for joining us. <3 (Also, wow, hello, I love While She Naps, I listen to it while I’m sewing velcro onto large carpet rectangles at my day job.)

Now! Onto that sweet sweet content.


The Amelia Ensemble

This look is named after Amelia Marie Newbert, who is one of the co-founders of the Skipping Stone Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps trans and gender diverse youth in Calgary. Skipping Stone is cornerstone of the queer community here, and the work that she and others do through it has provided vital support to some of our most vulnerable.

Caption: an excerpt from my sketchbook, with other sketches of shorts/culottes. Each sketch involves fullness in the legs to mimic a skirt.

Caption: an excerpt from my sketchbook, with other sketches of shorts/culottes. Each sketch involves fullness in the legs to mimic a skirt.

Caption: Another excerpt from my sketchbook; this time, it’s a close-up of the front of the Amelia skirt. The sketch model has their arms behind their back, a sweetheart neckline blouse with no sleeves, and the skirt hem ends a bit above the knee.

Caption: Another excerpt from my sketchbook; this time, it’s a close-up of the front of the Amelia skirt. The sketch model has their arms behind their back, a sweetheart neckline blouse with no sleeves, and the skirt hem ends a bit above the knee.


The Amelia Ensemble was the first realized look of the walk. It was based off a scribble that I had done in trying to design the peplum shorts in @oliver_twirl ‘s look, and I liked the style line so much that I translated it into a skirt.


The shirt was originally a tank top, but then I saw this post on pinterest, and it spurred the inspiration for the rest of the look. The whole thing is meant to feel airy, floral, dressy and just this side of bohemian- I love incorporating natural elements in my work, so this was one of my favourites.

Caption: A crisp, white dresshirt, folded in a square. Instead of a tie, though, the shirt has a collar of fabric flowers and leaves in pastel earthtones. The shirt/collar was designed by Gucci.

Caption: A crisp, white dresshirt, folded in a square. Instead of a tie, though, the shirt has a collar of fabric flowers and leaves in pastel earthtones. The shirt/collar was designed by Gucci.

My partner’s mom Linda helped me with cutting as well as some assembly with the shirt as well as the skirt. In addition, Brandy helped finish the skirt. Thanks so much, folks! Your work is beautiful.

What changed for the show

The opening moved from the side seam to the centre back. I did this because the skirt was designed with pockets, and while it’s possible to put a pocket in the same place as a lapped zipper, the construction is way more of a headache than it’s worth to make it happen and that kind of thing doesn’t translate well to a sewing pattern.

The second thing that changed was like… basically the whole dress shirt? All I knew about it when I was sketching it was that I wanted it sleeveless, and that I wanted the collar to be a classic foldover. I decided to change the centre back from what it used to be, because there was already so much going on with the overall design that I didn’t think the shirt needed to be more extra than it already was.

Lastly, this is the dumbest cosmetic thing, but Alison was originally going to have butterflies coming up her arms. I really wanted to hammer the point home, haha. I also probably would have redone the sleeve tabs- but you’ll read about that further down.

Caption: Three photos of the Amelia Ensemble, presented as a turnaround: front, side, and back view. The Amelia Ensemble includes a sleeveless ivory blouse with front pintucks, sheer side panels, shoulder caps, and different coloured pastel buttons for the placket; it also includes a gathered pink swiss dot skirt with a denim peplum overskirt that’s the same length as the pink skirt at the front, but quickly shortens to the hip at the side seam and meets as petals in the centre back.

Caption: Three photos of the Amelia Ensemble, presented as a turnaround: front, side, and back view. The Amelia Ensemble includes a sleeveless ivory blouse with front pintucks, sheer side panels, shoulder caps, and different coloured pastel buttons for the placket; it also includes a gathered pink swiss dot skirt with a denim peplum overskirt that’s the same length as the pink skirt at the front, but quickly shortens to the hip at the side seam and meets as petals in the centre back.

What worked well

Caption: A close up of the Amelia Blouse from the collar down to the bustline. The four buttons of the placket are, respectively, pastel pink, an earthone yellow, pastel green, and a soft navy blue. The finish on them makes them look like glazed pottery.

Caption: A close up of the Amelia Blouse from the collar down to the bustline. The four buttons of the placket are, respectively, pastel pink, an earthone yellow, pastel green, and a soft navy blue. The finish on them makes them look like glazed pottery.

I adore all the fabrics that were used in these pieces. The overall effect was what I was going for- flirty, fun and light. I liked the chiffon peekaboos, the texture that the front pintucks added, and the different-coloured buttons (because of course different-coloured buttons). The hem on the pink skirt is sitting where it needs to, and Brandy’s topstitching is GORGEOUS. And I did like the intent behind the skirt, but...

Moving forward

The overskirt has this shaped hem which is cute in theory, and I do think I could still make it work. I think what I need to do with this pattern, though, is put more of a flare in it. I noticed that the fullness of the pink skirt was kind of quashed by the denim wanting to hug to the hips. I think if the overskirt had more of a ‘bell’ to it, it would allow the underskirt to move in the way I was intending. It would also give me more ‘room’ to transition the front style line to the back style line, because where it is currently is this awkward transition at the side seam- or maybe I just think it looks awkward? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Beyond that, the blouse has these little shoulder caps:

Caption: A side-by-side comparison of my original drawing of the Amelia Ensemble and a close up photo of the armhole detail. The sketch has shoulder caps that are lifted off of the shoulder very slightly; the caps on the actual blouse are basically flush to the shoulder.

Caption: A side-by-side comparison of my original drawing of the Amelia Ensemble and a close up photo of the armhole detail. The sketch has shoulder caps that are lifted off of the shoulder very slightly; the caps on the actual blouse are basically flush to the shoulder.

If you look at my illustration, you’ll see that they raise further off of the model’s shoulders than what’s happening with the final product. This is an easy fix- I just have to increase the fullness of the free edge of the tab-cap-sleeve-things. I only spread the pattern pieces like, 1.6cm total? So I’m not surprised that it looks like I didn’t do anything.

Also:

Caption: A side-by-side comparison of one sleeve of the Amelia Blouse: one with the sleeve cap doing what it’s supposed to, and the other with the sleeve cap flipped up to reveal ANOTHER PIECE SHAPED LIKE THE SLEEVE CAP.

Caption: A side-by-side comparison of one sleeve of the Amelia Blouse: one with the sleeve cap doing what it’s supposed to, and the other with the sleeve cap flipped up to reveal ANOTHER PIECE SHAPED LIKE THE SLEEVE CAP.

Wh- what is- why? Why????? I don’t…
Basically, this piece should have just been like, a part of the bodice. That style line doesn’t serve any function, and it just adds a line of bulk on the shoulder line. I think I just got my wires crossed when I was drafting. Oops!

I think that solving that above problem will also solve whatever the hell is going on with the armscye binding. You do some funny things when you’re in a hurry.

But overall, I think this is a decent first run of a garment; it’s clear about what I need to do next with it. As always, the niggling voice of self-doubt says that it “should have been done right the first time”, but with RTW clothing, you have to produce more than one sample before you move forward with production anyway- sometimes as many as FIVE. So, brain: chill.

Caption: Picture 1: Alison Ashdown, a trans model with curly brown hair pulled to one shoulder, giving us a 3/4 view of the Amelia Ensemble.  Picture 2: Alison again, behind the scenes, leaning against a brick wall in the Amelia Ensemble. She’s wearing a collarpiece with fabric flowers coming off of it, a la the Gucci collar from above.

Caption: Picture 1: Alison Ashdown, a trans model with curly brown hair pulled to one shoulder, giving us a 3/4 view of the Amelia Ensemble.
Picture 2: Alison again, behind the scenes, leaning against a brick wall in the Amelia Ensemble. She’s wearing a collarpiece with fabric flowers coming off of it, a la the Gucci collar from above.

And of course, Alison looks like sunshine. Because Alison always looks like sunshine no matter what’s going on. Check out more of her work at @Alisoncalgary on Instagram!

For my readers: What garment do you wear when you wanna just scream “SPRING”? Is there a pinterest pin that’s inspired you lately?

For my newcomers: I understand this is newer territory for some of you. That’s super cool! I’m glad you’re interested in this kind of space. I’ve had a couple of you mention you’ve learned some new things while poking around on this site. Is there anything in the realm of LGBTQIA2S+ , clothing or otherwise, that you’re curious about?


Let me know in the comments! Thank you all so much for reading.

Till next time,

Jason