Sunday, January 30, 2011


We're off today for a whole week of fun by the beach.
This will be the view from the rented beach house.

I'll be back in a week to collect my machines from the service guy and hopefully have  a little knitting or crochet progress to show.

Happy Sunday all!

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's bold! Simplicity 2591 with a little New Look 6805

I've been sewing like a mad woman this week. Desperate to finish a few last orders before we head off on holidays and desperate also, to finish a new frock for me. Just a little summer frock for hot, humid days, nothing fancy or terribly spesh.

I first mentioned this dress a couple of days ago, but there's a little history to this dress. You see, I paid FULL price for this Simplicity pattern!! Something which I very, very, very rarely do, or in fact, never do!

I have a system for buying patterns. When I see one that like, I list them on my pooter, rated it into one of two categories, 'kinda like' and 'really, really want to make'. When patterns go on sale, I pull out the list to determine what to buy. This pattern was in the 'really, really, want to make' list and even though we've enjoyed a number of pattern sales at both Lincraft and Spotlight recently, I still overlooked buying this pattern.

Then I read on Stitchy Witch's blog that Simplicity 2591 had been discontinued, so thought I'd better get a move on and buy it. I started phoning around (as you do when you have three kiddies to drag the shops), and found out that when  pattern is discontinued it is cut up and sent back to the manufacturer for a credit!! Gah - I thought I'd missed out! But then I found an illegal copy at a local Lincraft store, quickly packed the kids in the car and purchased it at FULL price! For those not in Australia, that's about $17!!! Now, I'd pay that type of money for a premium pattern or boutique pattern, but never for a pattern by any other the majors. So with pattern in hand, the dress needed to become a priority and this is it.
Now you may have noticed that I've quite significantly altered the neckline of this dress. This was done to make the frock a little cooler to wear, but I do intend on making it, as it is shown on the pattern for when the weather cools a little.
I just love this pattern! The pockets are AWESOME!!!! and how cool are the bias side panels?

I can't believe how bad this dress looks on the pattern envelop. I think the side panels and the pockets are the best design feature and you can't see them on them at all!
Changing the neckline on this dress was a little tricky, but you can do it too. What I did was place the pattern piece for Simplicity 2591 over and New Look 6805 (or any other square neck, princess seam dress) to copy the square line. I then traced the back bodice pieces and modified them to accommodate a centre back zipper and where I wanted to position the straps. The only problem with  these changes, which is probably a result of my 'not so technical' pattern alteration skills, is there is slight gape on the front neck, just a little, but I probably notice it more as I'm the one looking down. The straps also sit better, at the back, when I stand with nice straight posture, rather than hunched. No better excuse to stand properly right?
I fudged the straps by guessing how the shape of each strap should look. They are supposed to curve a bit right?? And they looked better in my opinion following the stripes of the fabric.
This is the back - the easier of the two changes.

Then I contemplated lining the dress to hold these pattern changes. But being a frock that I wanted to keep light and cool, I opted to draw some facings instead.
This is my technical way of drafting facings. They have been cut straight, rather than shaped like the bodice, which may also contribute to some of the bodice gaping.

Now I only had a 2 meter piece of fabric to make this dress (it's a cheap cotton poplin from Spotlight that my Nana insisted on buying me when I took her there last week), not quite enough to cut each pattern piece, so I faced and made pocket linings with light grey voile. I then top-stitched everything in white, just because I could and I wanted too.

I really like this dress - it's bold, but cool. I can still play with the kiddies in it and it is quite comfortable.

Changes made to the pattern: Well aside from the noticeable bodice changes, I inserted an invisible zipper and took the dress in about an inch along the back. I added half an inch to the bodice length as I am a little long waisted and also cut a fair bit from the hem. I'm still debating the hem length. I think it is currently a little too long.

This is a little too short...
I think this might be better.
What do you think?

Pattern reviewed here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Creative Space - Simplicity 5500

In my space today, we have another finished garment for me. I first mentioned this project earlier this month. While I do need a few more summer items for my wardrobe, this cami was made to re-use the fabric from a blouse that did not work - boo!!

This pattern is old, like OLD! I think I bought it about 10 years ago (I might be exaggerating a little), back when I didn't really know how to sew, aside from hemming curtains. I did cut the pattern (OOP Simplicity 5500), and I think I may have cut some fabric at some point, but never made a garment.

As this cami buttons at the back, I was able to use a small remnant of this lovely vibrant Anna Maria Horner voile to make this. In the end,I didn't even cut into the failed Alexander Blouse.
I think it's quite sweet, but there are a few problems that I'm hoping to fix when it comes out of the wash. I twisted one of the shoulder straps (doh!) and cut the shoulder straps just slightly too short! I'm not sure I can fix the strap length, but as they are a little too short I seem to pull this top down quite a bit making the facing  pop out. So, I plan to un-twist the strap, try to lengthen the straps, even by a little, and will top stitch the garment. Even if I can't lengthen the straps, they should 'give' a bit with wear.
I quite like the buttons on the back, but they are not easy to do up.
I'm getting my machines serviced next week while I'm on holidays. I have just a few more items to finish before then, but I have to work in my new job tonight. I might have to pull an 'all-nighter' on Friday night.

For more Creative Spaces, head over to Kirsty's...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

Hooray! Happy Australia Day!

To celebrate Australia Day, little betty and a bunch of other Australian Etsy sellers are having a sale. Take 20% off any bonnet until the end of January. Enter coupon code 'ausday20' at the checkout. Don't forget to specify the bonnet size you are after.

To search for other great Aussie Etsy sales, search 'ausday15', 'ausday20' and 'ausday25'.

Stay cool!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Look 6775. Take 2 & 3. Functional and fun.

Sewing can't always be frivolous and fun, sometimes it needs to be functional too. I mentioned earlier this month that one of my goals for 2011 was to get a casual job,  possibly in hospitality. Well that's now happened. I'm working at a very little, local ex-serviceman's club in their bistro. Seriously it's the BEST job ever!!! I get paid to clear dishes, serve food and set tables!! Gosh, with all the corporate stress that I've dealt with in my career this is just a dream.

Anywho, such a job requires a uniform, and denim skirts, sandals and singlets don't fit the bill. It's all about black pants and a white top. Here's the white top that I made last week from New Look 6775 - a pattern that I've made once before with Anna Maria Horner voile.
It's kinda cute, but I'm a little annoyed with my sewing . As the white shirting is a little sheer, like all white fabric, you can see around the neck, that I didn't clip the seam close enough to the stitching. It bugs me BIG time!
Thankfully, we're getting a uniform soon.

The second version of this blouse was made with a remnant of Anna Maria Horner voile from this dress. I just adore this fabric, but I don't adore this blouse. I'm not sure why. It could be the weather. I made this to help build my wardrobe, but it's just too hot and humid in Sydney right now.
I'm struggling most days to wear anything more than an old singlet and skirt, otherwise I need to turn on the air conditioning (and I'm a bit too much of a tightwad for that!).
 My self timed photography was a little 'off' in this photo.
I think this will look nice with jeans when the weather cools down. The only change to this pattern was to slightly alter the width of the back yoke as I found this pattern gapes a little there.

Tis all for now. My sister from Canada arrives tomorrow - can't wait!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Busy week ahead

We're only half way through Monday and already I can feel how busy this coming week will be. My sister from Canada arrives on Wednesday (Australia Day) with her son and husband. I can't wait for them to arrive! We also head off on our annual beach holiday on Sunday. A whole week by the beach with my parents and my sister with family.  I'm hoping the husband and I will get to go out, at least once, for dinner without the kids and I desperately hope we get some nice warm, swimming weather.

Before all this though, I have a bunch of bonnets to sew, both orders and samples, a couple of boys hats and bloomers for orders and more importantly I'm dying to make myself a new frock by the weekend.

It's evolved into a bit of a mish mash of patterns or a frankenpattern. Mostly it's Simplicity 2591 (which I think, quite possibly, suffers from the worst sewing pattern envelop photography ever!), but I'm stealing the square neckline and back from New Look 6805. I'm making it with a bold stripe poplin from Spotlight, which you can see here.

I also have three finished garments to show you, but am struggling to find the time where my hair looks decent and I'm wearing make-up to photograph them.

I just need to finished my money sewing first.... I fear there will be quite a few late nights this week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sad Sunday

The title of this post is a little melodramatic. Sunday isn't 'sad' for any particularly bad reason, just that Sunday in my house seems to have become 'Floor Day'. You know, the day that you vacuum and mop the floors. Once upon a time, Sunday was about lazy mornings reading the paper, lounging about and going out for brunch. But with three little kiddies, Sunday is now just like any other day, except that the husband is at home.

Thankfully 'Floor Day' has become a little easier since I got a steam mop.  Again, it's a little sad, but funny to think about how my spending habits  have changed since having kids. I was given a $100 Westfield voucher for Christmas and hit the shops at the first opportunity to purchase... not clothes, not shoes, not make-up, but a steam mop!!

It's a H2Go Steam mop from Danoz Direct. I used to think that anything sold via infomercial was a scam, but now that I own this baby, and can mop my entire house in less than 20 mins, I'm now a little less sceptical about these products.
I'm now thinking I want  a swivel sweeper to help tackle my red rug that gets so, so, so, soooooo trashed by my kiddies.

Now, back to the topic I normally talk about on this blog. Here's a sweet little, ruffle sunsuit made with my free pattern and tutorial.
Thouraya has done an amazing job and I feel so honoured that she cut into some of her lovely fabric from Tessuti for this project. Her little girls are so adorable!!!

Happy Sunday all!

Note: I have not been paid by Danoz Direct to recommend their products to you, but if anyone from Danoz would like to supply me with a swivel sweeper to review (and keep), I'd be eternally grateful :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

kfPSOkb - What???

I'm a bit of a fan of knitting patterns by Georgie Hallam.

While I've made the Olearia and Edens Eve for Adele, I've also purchased Bloom, which my Aunty Margaret is making for Adele.

When I first spied Darwinia, I knew it would be my next knitting project. My problem with this pattern is kfPSOkb. Now I'm not an advanced knitter, in fact I wouldn't even say I'm an advanced beginner, just a really, real beginner who has deluded herself into thinking she can knit anything!! (Well actually I realised I couldn't knit a Bloom dress, which is why the services of Aunty Margaret were called upon.)

Anywho, kfPSOkb = knit front of stitch, pass stitch over, knit back of stitch. Why of course! Georgie says in her pattern that she invented this stitch herself as it "casts off the correct number of stitches while maintaining the line of increases in the bodice, giving a neater finish under the armhole. It also neatly joins two separate pieces of the garment."

Clearly this little knitting manoeuvre is a little beyond my capabilities. Here's my kfPSOkb....
I've used a 'jousting stick' (my husbands term for knitting stick, I mean knitting needle) to point to this 'neat' stitch of mine. 
So far this pattern has asked me to do four of these funny stitches. So far I have successfully knitted none. Regardless, I've still managed to fudge my way this far. I'm certainly still a beginning knitter!

Details ravelled here.

By the way, I should note that the Darwinia pattern is wonderful and Georgie's instructions are superb, I'm the one letting this garment down. I'm also very much in love with her new pattern , Sorello, and with all the proceeds of the sale of this pattern in January going to the QLD Flood Relief, I think we should all pop over there and buy it. Again, I think it's a step above my skill level, but how adorable is the back!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Queensland Flood Appeal

Both of my bonnets for the Appeal have now sold, but it doesn't mean that you can't still help out with raising funds for those in Queensland affected by the floods. Head over to Toni's blog for a full list of bloggers and creators doing their bit to help those in need. There are some super awesome auctions and raffles to look at.

You may also want to check out Rachel's great auction - a super sweet handmade elephant toy AND two cute Japanese pattern books, which go up to bigger sizes (an important note for if you've ever looked at the sizing on Japanese pattern books).

I've also just hit 100 'likers' on Facebook, so will be posting the winner of a little betty bonnet shortly.  I think when I hit 200 'likers', I'll give away another. Head over there now - I know you like me! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A modern take on a vintage frock - Simplicity 3774

I've been sitting on this awesome vintage pattern for a few months now.
It was given to me by my husband's Nana. One of only a handful of vintage patterns that survived being thrown out!! This dress, complete with puffed sleeves, was made in the early 60's for my mother in law and aunty. I made the version without puffed sleeves (of course) and I am so in love with the result.
What do you think? Pretty cute right.

Clearly, I modified the pattern quite significantly to modernise the look. Here's the first muslin of the bodice. While I'm not wearing it for you, it sits very high on the chest. A little too high for my liking.
So I modified the bodice by folding it where I wanted it to sit, then re-drew the pattern with this change, waist modifications and a slight change to the darts. So with that in mind, it's really not too much like the original pattern, except for the full skirt.
I also fully lined the bodice, treating the two layers of fabric as one. I loved that in referring to my Reader Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (I have a version from the 70's), I learnt about stitching the fabric and lining together along the darts to get ensure the fabric sits together. So clever! I also fully lined the skirt and installed an invisible zipper.

I intentionally chose a black fabric for my first full skirted dress. It's so far from my usual style, I didn't want a bold fabric to draw attention to me. I'm also terribly aware that my friends all know that I sew and some of my bolder fabric choices scream 'different', or worse, 'handmade!'
I'm still getting used to the full skirt. It does poof quite a bit.

The fabric is a lovely, soft voile by Anna Maria Horner (yep again!! it's almost all gone now though!)
Now, I know you're all dying to know if I trimmed the skirt lining with lace, right?
 Well, yes I did!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sometimes you don't realise

how much your kids have grown, until you put them in a dress and it's now more a tunic top!

It just took me forever to find this post showing when I made this dress. I guess I should be grateful that Adele still fits into clothes I made her in July or maybe I should be concerned.....
Don't forget to head over to Toni's to see the offerings of many bloggers to raise money for the Queensland Flood Appeal.
I've dontated two bonnets to the cause, one has already sold so hop in quickly to see the the last one in my shop.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ruffle Sunsuit - Free pattern and tutorial!!

Are you after a little 'free' today?? Well how does an adorable, ruffle sunsuit pattern and tutorial interest you??
It's divine isn't it! I've been thinking about drafting this pattern for a few months now, but I've been a little tied up making bonnets. With Sydney's summer humidity getting worse, I knew it was now or never! Adele needs a super, cute sunsuit in this weather and it's probably the last summer that she can get away with an outfit like this.

***Edit: I've now released my bonnet pattern via my Etsy shop for a super cheap $5. A fully reversible, retro inspired bonnet really completes this super sweet summer look. Get yours here. (OK ad over)
Do you want to make one for your little one too? Well, read on my friend.

What you need:
1/2 yard of fabric for main body
1/4 yard for straps and ruffles (I've used fabric from Amy Butler's new Soul Blossoms collection for both)
A small piece of lightweight interfacing
3 x snaps
2 x buttons
approx 11 inches of 20mm elastic
approx 20 inches of 6mm elastic (don't you love the mix of imperial and decimal measurements?!)
sewing machine, overlocker, scissors, thread, needle, pins etc.

These instructions outline how to make the sunsuit with an overlocker/serger, but naturally you can use a regular machine too.

Now a short word on copyright. This is my pattern and I'm spreading the love and choosing to share it with you. I'm going to say you can sell items from this pattern (home sewing quantities only, not commercial), but I'd like you to credit me as the source of this pattern. Clearly, I cannot police this, but it would be nice if you could honour this request.  :)

Here are the pattern pieces. I've only drafted this pattern in size 1. If your little one is smaller or bigger, you could alter the size by either adding (approx size 1-2) or removing (approx 6-12 months) 1/2 inch from all sides of the pattern pieces, except the fold - does that make sense??

EDIT: Hello Sewers. Please read the instructions in relation to downloading the pattern. There are two ways to download the pattern and you do not have to pay for either. Both of these work. If you can't get them to work, please re-read the instructions step by step and try again.

Download Option 1. There are 4 jpegs here.  Please click each invidually, then right click and 'save as' to your preferred location. When you print them, make sure they are at 100% and check the scale marker.

Download Option 2: Alternatively, you can save each page via Scribd and you don't have to pay or have anaccount with them. Simply display each pdf via scribed, then right click each image and 'save as' to your preferred location. Again, make sure you print at 100%.
little betty ruffle sunsuit page 1 of 4
little betty ruffle sunsuit page 2 of 4
little betty ruffle sunsuit page 3 of 4
little betty ruffle sunsuit page 4 of 4

Step 1:
Print pattern at 100%, tape together and check 1 inch test line. Cut pattern and fabric.

From the main fabric, you will need:
1 x front body
1 x front facing
1 x back body

From the contrast fabric, you will need:
3 ruffles - each are 2 inch strips the full width of the fabric
2 straps - 3.5 x 15 inches

From the interfacing, you will need:
1 x front facing
Step 2 - make ruffles
Roll hem one long edge of each ruffle piece, then set your overlocker to a gathering stitch and gather the other edge of each ruffle piece.

Step 3 - make straps
Take each strap and fold them in half lengthwise. Sew a 1 cm seam along one short side, then pivot and sew down the length of the strap. Trim corners, turn right side out and press. Top-stitch the strap along both long sides and one short side. I use my 1/4 inch foot to do this - it's easier to stay neat!

Step 4 - press back elastic casing
Take your back piece and press the top edge down 1/4 inch, then again 1 inch to make the casing for the back elastic.
Step 5 - attach straps
Before you sew the casing, place your straps underneath the casing folds as show below. I've centred these straps 4 inches apart. You only need to tuck the straps about a 1/4 inch under this fold. Sew the casing, staying close to the fold, then flip the straps up and top stitch them to the top of the back piece very close to the top fold. This reinforces the straps and positions them facing to the top, where they need to be!

Step 6 - affix ruffles
Pin your first ruffle as pictured below and sew just above the gathered, overlocked ruffle edge.
Once your first ruffle is attached, you can pin and sew the remaining two ruffles. I've spaced mine a little over half an inch apart.
Lightly press your ruffles down, try not to press all of the gathers flat, and top stitch each ruffle down, approximately 1/4 inch below the original sewing line.
Thread 11 inches of 20mm elastic through the back casing and stay stitch it in place on each side.

Step 7 - front facing
Affix interfacing to the wrong side of the front facing and edge finish the bottom, curved edge of facing. Pin the facing, right sides together to the front of the sunsuit.

 Stitch around the top as shown below

Step 8 - connect front and back of sunsuit
Pin front and back of sunsuit together as shown. Make sure you lift the facing and place the top of the back piece between the facing and front piece. Serge along each side - you may want to do this slowly as there are a few layers to sew through here.

Trim the seams on the top of the sunsuit and clip the corners and curves, then turn your sunsuit right side out and press. Top stitch the top of the sunsuit. Again, I do this with my 1/4 inch foot.

Step 9 - prepare leg openings for elastic casing
At this stage you should have what looks like a little sunsuit that is open around the bottom. To make elastic casings a little quicker, serge around each leg opening. Do not sew them shut or together, just around each leg opening, as pictured below.
Step 10 - make elastic casing
Press each leg opening under 1cm or 3/8 inch and sew. This forms the casing for the elastic. Thread 9 inches (or the size of you little one's leg plus 1 inch) of elastic through each casing and stay stitch each end.
Step 11 - measuring and making centre snap opening.
To create a centre snap opening you need to measure the bottom of the centre front and back piece. They should both be about the same as mine, approx 3 1/2 inches wide.
As my earlier sunsuit tutorial already covers creating a centre snap opening in detail with many photos, I'm going to rush through these instructions. If you need more information to create the centre snap closures, please look here in steps 3 to 7..

To calculate the size of each centre piece add 1/2 and inch to this measurement and cut 4 pieces of fabric by this measurement and 1.5 inches. Mine will be 4.5 x 1.5 inches. Cut two pieces of interfacing this size too. Attach interfacing to the wrong side of two rectangles. Place one rectangle with interfacing and one without, right sides together and sew around the two short sides and one long side with a 1/4 inch seam.
Trim the corners of each rectangle, turn right side out and press. Press the open edges, the raw edges, inside 1/4 inch. Again, please refer to the images in my other tutorial for this stage.

You can now take these two fabric rectangles and slip the bottom of the sunsuit into the opening, as shown in the below photo. Sew to the sunsuit, catching both sides of the snap closure rectangle with the sunsuit in between. Repeat for the back of the sunsuit.
Step 12 - Sew buttons, button holes, affix snaps and wear! 
Affix three snaps to the centre opening. There are many tutorials available online for you to refer to, like this one. I use a hammer and bang each snap quite hard to make sure it stays on. Sew two button holes at the top of the sunsuit. Measure your little one and place buttons on the straps where needed to keep the suit on.

You are done! Hooray! Now slip your little one into the sunsuit and watch them play!

To complete her look, Adele is wearing a matching little betty bonnet - too cute!
If you're interested in the bonnet pattern, head over to my shop.

Good luck!