Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Happy New Year Knock Off Half Circle Skater Skirt

It's my last post for the year so Happy New Year guys! I've finished the year with a little skirt. No not for me..


About a month ago DD asked me to copy a pattern of her favourite RTW quilted knit semi-circle skirt. I did (see below). It also has a straight folded over waistband.

my draft

The piece to the left is the CF. I folded it out and drafted the complete piece, it's so much easier for cutting out. The piece in the middle is the sides (no actual side seam - clever) and the piece at the right is the back with the on grain CB seam for the zip which goes up through the waistband.

Anyway I thought yeah I'll do it some day when either DD or I find the right stable knit. It's high summer here etc etc

Then I did my usual rummage through my local op-shop and found a piece of houndstooth knit, very retro looking, which kept whispering my daughter's name. Well hey there, material is supposed to call out my name..but it was insistent so for the grand sum of $3 I took it home and threw it in the wash. I sent a phone photo to DD who loved it - of course and she loved my offer to make a last minute skirt. She asked if I could put something slippery in to line it so it wouldn't cling to winter tights. I had some slinky knit in a loud print in the stash and a chunky purple zip too.

I then had the bright idea of machine quilting the two materials together before I assembled them. To cut a long story short - any material that is quilted shrinks and has less give. I knew that but I still underestimated how much less give two layers of knit quilted together would have.

BTW during all my free quilting I realised I could use all those handy markings on my throat plate as a guide....duh... I really need to go learn how to make quilts day..and go to drafting day. In 2016? Maybe.

Anyway I ring DD and go 'Oh no going by your measurements it has turned out too small. I have enough of both materials to try again'. She said just put two panels down the back next to the zip. She'd seen it in RTW. Good idea!

I inserted panels and made a longer waistband so the skirt would be big enough to sit below her true waist like the original and then did the exposed zip.

This was another learning curve. How to put in an exposed zip while keeping the tapes of the zip on the inside and not appliqu├ęd like the usual ones. I followed this excellent tutorial on Megan Nielsen's blog how-to-insert-an-exposed-zipper

Why did DD need a winter weight skater skirt in our summer? She leaves for a holiday to visit friends in Canada tomorrow. She's looking forward to it and she's happy about the skirt. A good feature about this skirt is it won't crush. She can roll it in a ball and put it in a corner of her suitcase.


close up of material

the zip and sneaky panels

inside front

inside back

A summer dress for me, and some shorts and a top....

Happy holiday and happy sewing,


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Kwik Sew 3497

Christmas is over. I had a good time.

But right now I feel unfit, heavy. Not svelte. The antidote of course is to stop overindulging and get moving. Get back on the bike. Literally.
In between sewing, that is.

I recently made some items for DD from black scuba knit that she'd bought. I made TNT Elle pants, not blogged this time as they keep getting made over and over and over. I had some strips of material left so I found myself digging through the knit stash to find some cute stable knit 'pop art' scraps I had too and an old Kwik Sew tank pattern.

Can't find it on their site, it's probably OOP but there's a tank with a similar neckline K3844 here. The body would have to be altered a bit but then again the slight swing top shape is everywhere right now..

But for basic fit I seem to be rediscovering the genius of early KS knit patterns that were drafted by Kirsten Martenssen. They are so good. Keepers.

Anyway, I used view C and inserted a panel down the CF and CB and now I have a new cycling top. I serged all edges then turned them over and zig zagged. Easy! I love the serger for things like this.

No more honey cup cakes with whisky cream, made by my SIL. She is a very good cook.
They've all been eaten  ; )

Have a Happy 2016.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas

The next few days will be busy for me with family and friends, getting together, cooking, being
grateful for those I love and very grateful for all the goodness of God.

I took this photo in the Queen Victoria building in Sydney and was lucky to capture this moment of the two little girls looking at the shimmering lights on the tree.

Thank you for visiting my blog through the year. I am grateful for all your comments.
Have a lovely Christmas and New Year,


Saturday, 12 December 2015

Grungy Hobo bag using Kwik Sew 3312

Mum, can you make me a banana shaped hobo bag with a zip? Roomy but not so big that I need to put it in the overhead luggage on the plane? Squishy enough to put under the seat but put everything I want in it? Oh and I want a zip?
Yes  think I can do that.
Have you got any material you can use from The Stash Mum?

Yes I have some blue and white stripe denim that looks like mattress ticking...I send her a photo.

Perfect Mum! Can you make the outside the grey muted side so it looks grungy..but make the inside of the strap from the darker side..I can see it.

Yes, I can do that but if I'm putting in a zip I will have to line it..seeing it's going travelling do you want nylon on the inside?

Yes Mum, you know that really bright nylon in the stash...

The bag is symmetrical but wouldn't cooperate.. it is a slouch bag after all!

Back to the story... DD seemingly not only knows my stash but has a photographic memory of what's in it ;)  Just as well I love sewing for her.  I remembered I had Kwik Sew 3312 in the stash -
now OOP. It was just the right size.

All I had to do was figure out how to put a zip in it. And construct it.

Bag pieces:   I kept the shape of the bag and the cut on strap. I found a zipper in the stash that was heavy enough and big enough to go part of the way up the sides (another DD requirement!)
I cut x 2 zip facings 1/12" wide and the length of the zip (plus zipper tape ends) + 1/12"
I then measured the remainder of the strap and added 1/1'2" and made my own strap facing pattern piece. The lining is the original bag piece minus the strap but then with 5/8" seam allowance put back on.

What I did:

Make up the outer shell as instructed.
Make up the lining, Make a pocket to go on the lining (basically a zippered pencil case type pouch 7" x 8" stitched on). Leave a portion at the bottom of the bag unstitched

Attach zip to the zip facings.  My facings should have had their own inner facings to cover the under side of the zip between the tape and the lining but I realised this right at the end and the bag is going to stay as it is without them! The material is thick enough to cope.

Attach the zip pieces to the bag, stopping 5/8" from the ends.
Attach the lining. This is where you use the hole in the lining for access.

I used a separating sip because that's what I had. I don't know if this is quite the 'done' thing but it made it a bit easier!
Attach the ends of the straps to the zip facing ends, bringing them together in the middle.
Stitch one long side of the strap to strap facing as far as you can. Turn right side out and press. Press the other long edges of strap and strap facing under and top stitch. Press and top stitch the bag edges.
Stitch the hole in the bag lining closed.

Am I sounding like Burdastyle?

The original bag is just two copies of the one bag piece. There are darts in the corners. You make the bag, make the lining layer with the hole, sew them together, turn it out through the hole, put a loop and a button and go. Quick and easy. I'll be making one of these out for market shopping!

This bag was figured it out as I went along. There's probably a better way to do it but it's done!

Not perfect but DD loves it. Happy travels DD.

Love, Mum.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Kate Revisited

Tessuti Kate is a sleeveless top for lightweight woven fabrics by Tessuti.
I've seen it made up straight out of the packet (SOOP) with effortless fit on other bods, mostly pears. Good on them but I have to alter and I have to tweak. I made a muslin (see previous post) which shows the pre-tweak top on me.

I widened the front armhole scoop of the pattern by taking it out 12 mm about one third up the curve, smoothing it out to 6 mm along the rest of the armhole. I widened the back a smidgen just at the shoulder seam to match what I'd done. Basically I reworked the armhole to sit on me how it sits on a smaller shouldered person SOOP.

I made it up in the rest of my precious bought-in-Paris silk. I used very lightweight iron on stabiliser at the neck and armholes and back loop area. I do not have the actual tear away stabiliser the pattern instructions recommend. I will have to get me some of that stuff because stabilising these areas does make a difference.

I had to piece quite a few bit of leftover material to make continuous bias to line the neck and armholes. I also had to do separate little facings for the side vents. I'd added a scant 1cm to the length of the body pieces then I put back the front curve which I'd straightened in my muslin.

What do you think?

I'm off to sew a hobo style bag, a request from DD. Happy sewing,


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Tessuti 'Kate' Top

Hi guys.

If you've read my previous post you know that I have some silk left over from my previous project to make a simple shell top.

I'd searched the sites and come across Tessuit's Kate sleeveless top. I bought it, downloaded it then spent an evening cutting and sticky taping. Garghghghgh. Not so instant gratification.

On to the top. I think I fall in-between a Medium and  Large in Tessuit's sizes so I cut a large and got out some cotton to give it a go. It's a bit heavier than the pattern recommends. The bias trims are doubled over, sewn on and then flipped over to hide the seam and stitched down. It's a nice finish but it ends up a bit bulky if you don't use a lightweight fabric.

Conclusion:  The pattern, which is basically a subtle swing top with vents, is good but a little too cut in at the front of the arm for my not so bony shoulders. View A is quite short - I am barely 5 foot/155 cm and I would not want it any shorter. The dart is quite shallow but nicely positioned, the neckline is nice. The generous self lining on the vents and 1 1/4" hem are all nice.
The front curved hemline did not work on me so I evened it out a little.
The instructions for the sleeve bias finish on the neckline and sleeves is good.

Recommendation:  Read the instructions first. This is where you find out that the vents and the hem are 1 1/4" wide so you have to be careful to cut the vents along the correct line (what looks like two sizes out). Yes I cut the wrong line then pasted those bits back on again, luckily it was still at the paper stage when I was cutting and sticky taping the print out together.
The hem depth is not written anywhere on the pattern, or the width of the vent facing.
Re the length, the pattern does have shorten/lengthen lines, which I have already adjusted for next time.

Other changes:  I added a CB seam to do my easy version of the back neck slit. It's also less hassle to cut out.

Will I make it again? Yes, but I am glad I made this muslin. I've adjusted the front armhole, the front hem and the length.

Conclusion:  A cute summer top for silk or lightweight linen or cotton.
I like the pattern and I like the top even though for me it is a little too cut in at the armhole.
I'm hoping with adjustments for the width of my shoulders the next one will be just the thing.

Happy sewing,


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Just a little adjustment to V9067

In sewing a little adjustment can make all the difference, dear reader.

A pattern that worked perfectly fine in one material can turn out differently in another. Each material has different drape and different 'give'. I'm probably stating the glaringly obvious but this was brought home to me when my silk version of V9067 View C top turned out looser than my cotton version of this top. (See previous posts with the label V9067.)

I had tried taking it in all the way down which did not work. After mulling it over I ha the idea of taking out the sleeve ruffles and pinning them 5/8" higher on the shoulders and almost all the way around,  tapering to 1/14" at the bottom of the sleeve. This brought everything back into proportion but retained the amount of ease the top needs.

Catching the breeze ..

I like it better now.

In my sewing queue is the downloaded and waiting to be printed and pieced Tessuti "Kate" top. I'll make a wearable muslin but the remnant of this silk has been earmarked for it if it works out.

Happy Sewing for your season..


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

V9067 View C in silk

It's a busy time of year, counting down towards Christmas. I made this top the week before last but am only managing to write this post now and you may be relieved to hear this is my last post about V9067  link to pattern for a while. Really! There are other things in the queue.

I've made up a second View C top in silk bought on my latest overseas travels, instead of being afraid to cut into the good stuff. Time to take a risk...

The conclusion. When I wore the top for this quick early morning photo shoot I loved the way it felt and even though in photos it's voluminous and seemingly shapeless it came alive whenever I moved. It swished and swirled then floated behind me when I walked.

This top was cut the same as my previous version link to V9067 View C top in cotton voile but it felt bigger. I took it in a half cm along the sides which brought the sleeves a bit higher. Taking it in more than this did not work on my wide shoulders. The garment's shape needs a fair amount of ease and I found it hard to strike the balance between too much and too little.

Also, thinking I knew better than Vogue, I cut the sleeve frills on the bias. But ultimately I think they are better cut on the straight as per the original instructions which gives a bit of definition to those seams. Cut on the bias they are just a continuation of the way the whole garment falls. Not that that's a bad thing but I am still undecided on whether to cut new sleeves from remaining material.. I have just enough left for a shell top so somehow I may end up leaving it. I have some functions coming up and we've been having some fiendishly hot days (and nights) here in Sydney. I don't know.

I could style it with white cropped slim leg pants, high shoes and big jewellery..

Should I redo the sleeves? Thoughts?

Meanwhile I'm running up some Style Arc Elle pants link to Ellle Pants  in black scuba knit for DD while I think about it. This pattern is a favourite of hers and she's going to visit friends in Vancouver in January..

Happy pre Christmas sewing,


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Vogue 9067 View D straight legged pants

Hi everyone.

I've made up Vogue 9067 again, this time the straight legged pants, View D  V9067
These pants are loose and flowing with pockets at the side seams and an elasticised waist. Super quick, super easy. Going by the picture I thought they may be too wide on my short self so I made them up without pockets to see how they'd go.

The jungle print rayon was gift from Melodie from sew as part of the partner exchange from Prttynpnk's purrfect-pairings back in January of this year. Thank you Melodie. I didn't know what to make from it till now but better late than never! It was the perfect weight and has a nice drape.

Changes:  I ommitted the pockets but if I make them again I will do pockets. It needs pockets!
I put elastic all the way around. The pattern actually has a little front panel and the elastic attaches to the ends..I cut my own casing from a strip of selvedge.

I folded out 5 cm from the length of the legs.

My most important change was a sway back adjustment. In the past I have done this by angling up the side seam to add an extra inch to the top of the centre back seam but I've discovered that it works far better on me to do a wedge across the back just above the crotch curve. See photo:

I put the white paper behind the  pattern so you could see it. 
On this photo you can see why this adjustment works on my body.
Me = angled  Pattern = angled

The result. They are easy to wear, not too voluminous and I like them more than I thought I would!
I hope all of you stay safe and well,


Saturday, 7 November 2015

V9067 View C top

Hi! I've just made - and worn - the View C top from Vogue Five Easy Pieces pattern V9067
I liked this pattern when  first saw it - from Fall 2014 - and I bought it with the View A colour blocked top in mind then got pleasantly distracted, as you do, by other patterns.

The ruffle sleeved top does not present as well in the envelope photographs and quite frankly in white it looks a bit like a hospital smock. Then I saw it made up on the V9067 on the Tessuti blog and thought aha it can work.

I made out using the voile I tie died using the Shibori method, see this post, by putting centre front and back seams on all the pieces except the front flounce and the sleeve flounces. The print was busy enough to hide the added seams. This top is a material hog with two curved bias front flounces and a long flounce across the back.


I sewed a medium throughout and did not do any alterations to the shape of the pieces, only to the construction. The sleeve ruffles are cut on the straight grain and even though the pattern piece curves gently the sleeves stick straight out at the shoulder seam. If you self line them as the pattern says to they would stick straight out even more. Anyway, I did not have enough material to line them so I did them as one layer and narrow hemmed them.

The armholes are very deep. I raised them by 5/8" both front and back and eased the sleeve in, to give them a slightly softer fall.  When I make it again I am going to try cutting them out on the bias instead.

I raised the neckline a little bit by keeping 1/4" of the seam allowance to wrap the bias strip facing over then stitching it down. While I was at it I closed the back opening by overlapping the ends of the neck facing instead of using a button and loop as it says to in the pattern, as I had no trouble pulling the garment over my head.

Will I make it again. Yes! I wore it out to lunch with a friend who thought I'd bought it. Sweet!

The conclusion. I like the top, it's summery and breezy. the sleeves are growing on me. I might leave them as is on the next version. What do you think?

Happy sewing,


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Collette Dinnigan and Sewing Inspiration

For anyone in Sydney who needs some sewing inspiration, go along to the Collette Dinnigan Unlaced exhibition which is on until August next year at the Powerhouse Museum at Darling Harbour.

I was lucky enough to get to this event last Sunday as a guest of Gail of My Fabrication
Also there were Sharon of Petite and Sewing, Gabrielle of Up Sew Late, Sandra who is known as Dilliander on Pattern Review and Anita, the brilliant Pattern Maker of Well Suited/Studio Faro
There were other ladies there who do not  blog but love to sew. All found Colette's gowns an inspiration. I especially loved her inspiration boards. She starts with colour, then art, then mixes in people and life experiences and come up with gowns that are wonderful..

I did not now that photos are allowed (no flash) but here are some of my iPhone pics.

Apparently it all started with a love of lace..

Happy to have sewing inspiration,


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Zombies, Shibori and Me

Happy Halloween!

It's been a very eventful weekend for me.  Yesterday, Halloween coincided with a charity event held in Sydney called the Zombie Walk which is held to raise funds for research into brain cancer. This year was the first I'd heard of it but it's the sixth one. I was surprised at the size of the event. It attracts quite a crowd of participants, onlookers and photographers.

I met up with some of my photo group buddies from the Sydney Street Photographers Meetup Group. I decided to zombie up. It was such fun. I had forgotten how liberating it is to put on a costume and a face of greasepaint! I did my hair and some of my make up at home and went on the train in costume and it was amazing how few strange looks I got, just a few laughs along the line of 'she's getting ready to party early'.

Which brings me to the costume. What do the undead wear? Tattered, dirty, 'decaying' clothing and skeleton face make up, according to google, with optional latex scars and fake blood. I was going to be taking photographs so I didn't want to do latex or 'blood' and I wanted to keep it relatively simple.

Last week I had done a bit of experimental Shibori tie dyeing. Shibori is the Japanese art of pleating, folding then tying material between two blocks of wood then dyeing it blue to get that beautiful crackle effect that is on trend for summer. I googled again and found out how to do it from this
Ellle magazine article

I did not use the kit mentioned in the article but Dylon Velvet Black (really a very dark purple) for the blue effect on two pieces of white cotton. I did it in a 15L plastic tub and rinsed in the laundry sink by hand rather than using the washing machine but other than that I followed the instructions on the packet. The only thing I did differently was to put a bit of Woolmix detergent in the rinse water to stop the dyeing process, then rinse again. I wasn't sure how they would turn out but I am pleased with the result.

Stash cotton voile

Stash cotton jacquard

The dry T shirts folded and tied with lots of rubber bands

Then sandwiched tightly between off cuts of wood

For my zombie outfit I already had a pair of grungy grey 'dead' black jeans. I just need to dye some T shirts. I decided to use the same method to dye a grey T shirt and also a olive grey T shirt that I had hardly worn. I was going to layer the green over the grey.

I liked the result on the grey one so much I decided to keep it and not to shred it. 

The green one was a poly cotton mix so I had to do it twice, reheating a 2L plastic bowl of the leftover  dye mix carefully in the microwave to just simmer point on low power with the re-knotted T shirt immersed in it (no wooden blocks this time) and it worked. 

A little artwork with the pinking shears and the seam riper and I had my zombie T. I wore it over a black V necked Tank.

The colour variation is sunlight on my balcony but I took this photo as I was getting ready so it'll have to do!

I had a great time.

Me in Zombie mode
Photo above by Raymond Horsey.

There's more to tell but it'll have to wait for another post.
For more Zombie photos taken during the event see my photo blog Learning to Focus

My next sewing project will be the tie dyed voile. I have found the perfect pattern for it.

Happy sewing,