Sunday, 28 December 2008

Tall order border - McCalls 2113

This fabric was interesting to look at and I haven't sewn a garment with a border print in years so I bought this earlier in the year at a Tessuti's sale. The pattern is no longer available although I've used this dress for dress/jacket work outfit. It's a simple style with bust darts and waistline darts so while I have a slight waist, I'll try to use it. With an invisible zip, this dress is easy to make.

I decided to use the border at the top of the dress, after playing with it on the dummy (not me this time). There were a few bits of border fabric left so I added these bits to the sleeves for a bit of balance. There's no lining because the fabric is very light-weight. I would line the dress if the fabric was medium-weight and scratchie.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Monday, 8 December 2008

Kimono belt

This outfit now has its own kimono style belt. With a bit of research I've grabbed some fabric from the stash and created a waist. I've handsewn the facing so now you can see the v-neckline.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Project runway for Christmas - McCalls 9356 and Butterick 3386.

Every year, I try to make something that fits the Christmas party theme for my husband's work do. This year is the last year at his current workplace because he's moving on next March. The party is on Saturday night and it's always a big event.
This year's theme is oriental and as much as I would like to have worn a fitted slim-line dress, I have too many curves to 'make it work.' So I chose a two-piece outfit in a non-traditional colour. I've made the top and skirt before so the main challenge was sewing this up fast enough before the fabric frayed away. It's rayon and I bought it from my favourite place, Pitt Trading at San Souci on Thusday night for $10/metre.
My plan was to sew this yesterday but life got in the way - shopping, buying zippers and then last minute family requests just stole my day. I cut the skirt right front the wrong way so I also drove back to Pitt Trading and bought another metre. By the time I got to sit down it was 9pm, so Saturday came and went quickly.
This morning I woke up and went for a 30km bike ride to get rid of my excess energy and after breakfast I got into it. So what you see is a very overlocked outfit sewn today. I'll play with it during the week just to get the fit right. The last time I made this skirt up was five years ago and I took some bulk out of the tummy area. I didn't use the extra metre so I might try another top, just for fun.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Whipped up easily

Some fold-over elastic, a bit of visoflex and extending a knit top pattern made this dress quick and easy to whip up this weekend. There were some ruching features that I would have added if the pattern was less prominent, but I'll do that next time.
I tried this on without the fold-over elastic and the neckline was fairly open, so the elastic makes this a more wearable dress for me while drawing your eye to the neckline for design reasons and not due to a plunging neckline. I'll keep that for another day...

Monday, 3 November 2008


Did I buy this fabric in haste? What were you thinking? The print is large and I'm short. You can tell from the dressmaker dummy that the print is almost as tall as I am.

My idea was to make a short sleeve, formfit/casual dress - not sure about the length as yet.
If this doesn't work, I'll still be able to make some fitted tops or a top with a twist - Kwik Sew 3378.

Relaxed layer - McCalls 5050

This top is now going to be a pretty layer when I just want to relax on the weekend. The fabric is a silk chiffon so I'll be wearing a singlet top underneath. Comments about this top consistently mentioned that it's a maternity look top and you can adjust the front to adopt this for maternity wear. In my case, I just wanted a soft layer and use for the fabric.

The fabric is from Pitt Trading and I've been wanting to make it into something useful but feminine. Next I'll try to add elastic on the sleeve, just above the elbow, to keep the waist slightly defined.

The side seams have french seams, clear elastic is used in the neckline casing but after unsuccessfully trying shirring elastic in the waist, I settled for more clear elastic. I've got some pale pink ribbon that the I might try along the neckline.

The biggest decision was how to finish the seams, hems and neckline because of the fine fabric. It works.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Make it work - Vogue 8420

I've now simplified a complex pattern. I feel like I've been simplifying problems all week.

After unpicking the sleeves, underfacing, elastic in the front waistline and shoulder seams, I:
- took off 2cm from the shoulder seams
- added clear elastic in the neckline edge, turned it over once and then straight stitched
- sewed on the sleeves and finished the side seams
- added three rows shirring elastic on the waistline.

Now this top works for me. I just couldn't throw this top out because it's a great colour.

The fitting advice came from my sewing mates a couple of weeks ago.
Thanks ladies :)

I can now see that if you have a small cup size, this top can really help you make more of what you've got.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Haunts of a fabric addict

Here are a couple of fabric places I've found to be worthwhile visiting when you just want to see what's available.

Remnant Warehouse
This store had a good range of fabric for both the fashion sewer and quilters. Their classes seem to be quilting focussed.

Address: 494 botany rd Alexandria open m-f 9-4.30 sat 9-4pm 96987855. Their website is There's also a large Lincraft nearby but it's mainly got prepackaged bulk things.

Curtain Studio
I visited this local favourite on the weekend and spent $10 on three pieces of fabric - a total of five metres. This unassuming place at Homebush sells discount curtain and upholstery fabrics. I've been able to find fabric you could use for more tailored clothing. The signage on the building states Curtain Factory outlet.
64 - 66 Parramatta Road (9763.7461) near North Strathfield Aldi on George St.

Pitt Trading
Thursday is the day when new fabric arrives here so you have to visit Pitt Trading regularly. The prices are always affordable and down right cheap when you rummage through the range of remnants. I always buy my swimwear fabric and notions because they have the best range and again, it's worth the time.
Address: 274 Rocky Point, San Souci - open Monday to Saturday. or

Cabramatta and Canley Vale
Need I say more. Cabramatta has over six fabric haunts to visit and it's worth making a day of it. Canley Vale has the stores with the notions that you really need too. The food outlets are great.

Knitwit fabric showings
This is when Wendy Gager brings her fabrics to a capital city near you. The store is in Perth, WA and I visited it while on my honeymoon (that's another story). Wendy always brings a swag of one offs fabrics to these showings so when I get the chance, I like to see what she's "bought to town." Last week, there were a healthy range of knit fabrics is a range of colours. The fabric quality is always good so if I can't get to a showing, I know the mail order catalogue is reliable. Because the store is in WA it's simple to call and ask specific questions when placing an order.
Address: Shop 4/142 Stirling Highway (on the corner of Marita Rd, opposite Chelsea Pizza), Nedlands WA 6009. or 1300 85 2122

Thursday, 9 October 2008

They match

Hong's alterations at Parramall had braid that matched the fabric colour, so you could say this outfit is complete. What I'm thinking is the top is needs more fitting and I've tried to angle the sleeves so I'll wear this outfit, when the weather warms up a bit after my Dad's 40-day memorial service.

Now I'm going to experiment with a simple sleeveless dress in a chiffon weight fabric and a fine knit lining. The fashion fabric as a large pink print on white background and the lining is flesh coloured pink so I'll try that this weekend - and try to find any other unfinished garments.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Tying up loose ends

Here's a variation I've tried with McCalls 8405. This pattern is a basic princess-line top with three neckline and two sleeve variations. The fabric is a linenlike fabric and it's a yellow bronze colour. I altered it and created an asymetrical neckline in a sewing class, cut out the top and it's been sitting in my stash for at least four years. With the long weekend, I decided to make this top up as part of my drive to tie up loose ends.
The sleeves will be finished at an angle and I'm on the hunt for some braid/trim or bronze coloured bling. If you can suggest anything else, feel free to drop me a line.

Zipper ripper - McCalls 8405

I wore this outfit for my husband's graduation and I can fit into it again but the zipper was in the back and I stuggled getting it on and off. It's not a snug fit, I just have a body with curves. The fabric is a slub silk and I used sheer weft to help keep it's shape, however, this makes it difficult to dress. So this weekend, I unpicked the zipper and place an invisible zipper in the left seam. For some reason, when I originally made this top I sewed the side seams last, so I wouldn't have to ease the sleeves as the shoulder seam so the invisible zip was easy to sew up. As you can see, I've placed a hook and eye in the back neckline, so I have and easier time dressing.

Pretty blouse - Butterick 4985

Spring is here so I thought I'd make a pretty blouse that would blend into my work clothes without screaming "florals". As always, I've had this fabric in my stash for a long time. It's a lightweight chiffon-like fabric that is slightly sheer and still had some body to it. The pattern view is B because I like the collar, as it creates a v-neckline. This didn't qualify for the pattern review pattern stash competition but I lost interest when within a week, someone had created over 15 garment before the end of September. Good on them.

The trim was leftover from I suit that I'd made up last year and it created definition under the bustline, at the sleeve at around the collar. I'm going to make use of my current waistline, while it continues to exist. The buttons were also from my sewing stash.

The adjustments were rolled shoulder adjustment at the sleeve and on the sleeve, of course. I added slivers of space in the back seams because I wanted more room in the back. I will do a more prominent sway back adjustment next time.

If I feel the fabric is too revealing for the office, I'll wear a white singlet top underneath it. Yes, I've made one from a piece of two-way stretch cotton fabric, using cotton stretch lace, earlier this year - under the influence of lemoncello.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Another pattern tried - Vogue 8420

For starters, the jersey fabric I used was fairly heavy for this pattern and the blousing on the waistline needs to be long. For a short person like me, that's a hard thing to do so next time I'll make this with a very fine jersey or knit netting- if at all.
The front of the top has a facing and that added more weight to the top.
The other thing that I was disappointed with was the side view was an embarrasing sight as the elastic is only in the front.
If I make this again, I'll use very lightweight knit with no facing, raise up the neckline, bring the neckline in on the sides, use shirring elastic around the waist and lengthen the blouse.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Pattern stash - New Look 6871

This is one of those basic patterns that you buy because it's got lots of the basics. The trouble has been getting the time to use it so while I'm in this pattern stash competition, the motivation is there to break open each pattern and use it.
This pattern includes a round neck dress and tunic top with short sleeves, a sleeveless dress and top, and a straight skirt. It's good value as it covers sizes 6 - 16 so I made the tunic top with sleeves in a 10 - 12 size.
You'll notice that the tunic looks like a normal top as I didn't want the side splits. The instructions were dead easy to follow. I used plastic elastic around the neck finish to have a slightly gathered looking neckline. This finish gave the top a more contemporary feel to it.
The overlocker made this a quick top to sew and I used seams great on the shoulder seams to give it stability.
There is a centre back seam that is handy for sway back adjustment.
I used a cotton stretch knit that I bought at Knitwit. The fabric has lycra and good recovery but I didn't have enough so I used another fabric with similar colours for the back piece.


Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pattern stash - M4783 done

This is a new pattern that I've done before in a straight skirt style. What I did this time was use a fine cotton that would not billow out too much. When I tried on the shell, I could see through the fabric. So that I wouldn't offend anyone, I've lined the skirt. The waist is reinforced with cotton twill tape and I've added black lace on the hem. It's not that noticeable but it's a bit girlie, so this is going to be a weekend skirt. I've used a normal zipper on the side seam and ignored the centre back seam offered in this pattern. With this fabric the centre back seam was a waist/waste of time.

Monday, 1 September 2008

McCalls 8777 - when a top grows up

While waiting around for the pattern stash competition to start, I lost my cool and decided to make a couple of simple tops that I've made before.
The black and white print knit top is a piece of fabric that I bought at Pitt Trading a few weeks ago. For all of $5, I thought this would be an easy top to make a wear. It was slightly slippery and the neckline finish drove me nuts. It didn't drive me to drink 'cause I'm still getting over the flu.
I used fold over elastic and the neckline looked like I was being strangled so out came the unpicker. Then I folded the fabric back once and zigzaged it. The neckline became too big - this is starting to sound like little red riding hood. Then I decided to use fold over elastic and the neckline was just about right. The neckline is still very round and I've tried to make it more v-neck, however, when I bend over, nothing shows so I'm happy and I'll wear it.
The green fabric is a piece I bought at the latest Tessuti's sale. The fabric has a bubbly surface and has good memory, so instead of making a hip length v-neckline top, I extended it over my rump and now it's a dress. The main measure I used was to add more fabric so that it would pull or look embarrasing. It worked and this time the dress took 2 hours from cutting to the final neckline finish. I used seams great on both the shoulder seams and neckline for more stability. Now to wear the dress and keep an ear out for the wolf whistle...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Pattern stash challenge - one pattern complete

The plan for September and October is to see how many unopened patterns I can open and make an item in eight weeks. Why? is running a pattern stash competition and I've got a few/many unopened patterns that I'd just love to make up.

My rose coloured glasses list is:
McCalls 5007 - short boxy jacket with princess line (that I might need to add more fitting depending on the fabric)
McCalls 4783 - half circle skirt with yoke, now completed in black voile with redish flower print
McCalls 5408 - loose fitting pullover top
Vogue 8480 - unlined jacket (that I might be tempted to line)
Vogue 8426 - yoke skirt with interesting pleats etc
Vogue 8420 - loose knit tunic top.

I'm a bit wary of loose fitting garments because I can't successfully wear loose clothing that's designed for an average sized person and not look like a grey-haired school child.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Ribbon can be useful - Simplicty 4698 and Vogue 7971

I've used ribbons on this suit to bring the pink out on this suit. I bought the fabric from Fine Wools Direct before it closed down. It's a stretch woven so it's comfortable to wear. The jacket is Simplicity 4698 view c so I could make it up quickly and just experiment with the ribbon. The ribbon has a slight water mark on it so it's a slightly shiny and matt at the same time.
The skirt is Vogue 7971 view c however, I've ignored the uneven hem, because I'm short and I don't think I could really pull this off somehow.
The day/night I wore this suit was a high profile pseudo society do, and Megan Gale's managing agent was at the function, as were a few high profile David Jones representatives. Not bad for a home sewer and longtime wall flower.
So far I've experimented wearing a silver jersey top underneath the jacket so this spring I'll experiement with a silver/grey silk shirt that I have hiding in the closet somewhere.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Akira relocation sale in Sydney

In case you're in Sydney this weekend, Akira is having a relocation sale on Saturday 23/8 and Sunday 24/8.
PS: I was disappointed when I visited the sale today (23/8). I had to wait in line to get in and there were stacks of people on the premises - which was to be expected. The fabric range was limited and still very pricey however, of limited use (or for a special occassion, depending on your POV) so I know there will be some very thrilled sewers out there who did bag something for their stash. Yours truly consider the lunacy of it all and walked away, to let others get swept up in the novelty of the experience.
Don't get me wrong, I love a good sale and when I'm in a weaker frame of mind I'll buy up big. Note to self: I need a fabric therapist....
Each piece of fabric was special but I just can't justify rebuilding a fabric stash that may never be touched until it's way passed its use by date/season.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sewing history in sleepy Wollombi

In sleepy Wollombi, is a small museum with a great sewing display. I'm not a history buff but these machines are over 150 years old. To think that we're still dealing with unpicking and readjusting seams and hemline - just like many sewers before us.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Wrap trench - New Look 6423

This isn't new and I've made this jacket twice. The first one was for my sister. I loved it so I made one for myself. The fabric is a medium weight poly wool that I bought from Home Yardage. The first jacket had lots of detailing and both versions have welt pockets. This is also fully lined so it keeps the cold wind out. It's great to wear with basic black in the winter.
It took longer that 5 hours but it wasn't complicated so I would make it again if required.

Nuts for knits

This is my trusty vneck knit - McCalls 8777. When I bought it from Knitwit I was revved up to make it up but then, life took over. Last week I went to cut it out, and found that it wasn't long enough. So I added a gathered piece on the back with some slight gathering where I usually do a sway back adjustment.
The front and back are lined with a beige lingere knit. I've used seams great on the shoulder seams for stability.
The neckline had cherry fold over elastic as the finish.
Surprise, surprise, the hems are not finshed and I used the overlocker for the seams.
Talk about easy to make up. How does 2 hours sound?
This is a good in-between project when making up more tailored garments.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Great jeans jacket - Vogue 7610

Here's my trusty jeans jacket. The red one was a trial, to test the sizing. I decided to make this after one of my sewing buddies found this pattern and then we all exclaimed "ooohh - noice." The blue and brown versions are size 10 in the shoulders, slightly shorter in the waist, using good quality stretch woven cord from Knitwit.
When it's really cold, this isn't a warm jacket but it's "weekend worthy" in my books. The snaps are the long prong version and Mick from Mick's buttonhole service in Redfern (previously at Surry Hills) applied them for me. He's now at 22 Botany St, Redfern.
The instructions for the back yoke and hem band are not easy, so I did this my way. That being, I applied the facing once the jacket fashion fabric was done. I applied the hem band front side first, for a cleaner edge.
Now that shirt dresses are back in, I'm going to try view B. Wish me luck.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Courage with scissors

When you go to all the trouble to make a jacket, use your tailoring skills ie, pad stitching the collar/lap and add reinforcing stitches along the seamline, when the style goes out of date, what do you do? Cut it back to suit (no pun intended).
This jacket was long enough to cover my rear but after a while, it looked old, so I cut the hem so now it reaches my high hip and it's back to being a favourite jacket. It took a few months to have the courage to cut the hem but once I reached the measurement, the scissors came out and I made the kindest cut and so the legend continues. It's McCalls 8971.
BTW, if you want some basics on pad stitching, let me know. I'm happy to share sewing techniques.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

The weekend flew...

Now that it's Sunday night, my neck and back are sore. After a wine, I realised it's because my Dad brought over three pairs of pants to fix, I completed two tops and a pair of cycling nixs. During the winter, it's not so easy to have three days of dialysis in shorts, so I've had to insert zips in his trousers, as he attaches to the dialysis machine via his thigh. So, I added a 30 cm zip to two pairs of trackpants for him. This isn't easy because I have to sew around a ready made pair of pants. The other tasks was to widen the waistband, which on mens pants is a breeze, compared to women's pants.
Then I finished a top and started a light tunic top which I altered for my mum, as the colours suited her better. This top was on that I cut out for the sewing weekend in July, so I'm glad that's out of the way.
Later, I decided to whip up the cycling nixs, so now that's it until next weekend - maybe. I have one more blouse to finish that was cut out for the sewing weekend.

Enjoy your week :)
20 Sept 08 - This morning my Dad lost his battle with dialysis and he's no longer in pain. Love you always Dad.


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