Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Red Dress

Sometimes you just know when you are creating something, that it will be awesome. I knew this dress would rock and it does!
The fabric is a lovely, light, gauzy cotton purchased from The Fabric Store. I purchased the last of the roll, which worked out to be 120cms by 120 cms, so this dress was a super tight fit. The pattern including the flounce, was drafted by me, which makes this dress even more satisfying.
I took my inspiration for this dress from Karen Walker's Tuscany dress, which I first saw on Heleni's blog. I even saw this dress in real life and was so, so tempted to buy it! But when it comes down to it, I'm a bit of a tightwad and $100+ (on sale) on one dress can fund the fabric to make many items. This is my sewing rationale if you like. Anyway, I trawled though many pattern sites trying to find something similar, but came up empty handed. I didn't even think to look at vintage patterns, but Fran found one recently.
Anyway, it's not a complicated dress and was very simple to make. I originally made a muslin of a darted bodice but changed to an elastic waist for comfort and practical reasons. I think the elastic waist keeps the dress casual, but the self belt lifts it back up a little.
I really didn't want the flounce to be too frilly and I think I achieved that. I love how the pattern of the fabric looks on the flounce.
The belt was made with a vintage belt kit that I'd picked up from the Op Shop. I couldn't figure out how to use the rivets, so instead sewed circles with one of those fancy stitches on my machine that I very rarely use. I still need my hubby to punch out the holes and I need to make a loop to hold the belt after the buckle.

It feels so good to make something really nice. I just know this will be a wardrobe staple for a long while.

Pattern: Self drafted - free
Fabric: $10.80 - I was charged for only 1 meter, due to the end of rolle being less than what I wanted and got 40% off.
Belt kit: .50c
Thread: from stash
Elastic: maybe 50c??
Total: $11.80!!! Bargain!!

People often question whether you can actually save money by sewing. I sew to save money and I really believe that I do. Sometimes home sewn items cost a lot, sometimes a little, but generally always less than what something comparable would cost to buy. And really, it ain't fun going to the shops with my kiddies in tow. It's much easier to sew at night to build my wardrobe.


Oliver's first day of school.
 I told him his smile was too big and he needed to try a half smile.
 This is the half smile - lol! Maybe I need to find a different way to ask him to smile less.

He was a little shy at first...
Until he saw mini whiteboards and textas.

I can't say that I cried, because I'm kinda happy to see him go. He's been at home with me for the past month and I just can't keep him happy. After all of the activity at pre school in the lead up to this leap into big school, I just couldn't keep up with his entertainment needs.
The whole clan!

I'm off so sew bonnets now. More interesting sewing items to show soon.

Monday, January 30, 2012


On our recent holiday I got stuck back into my crochet blanket. This is a slow burn project.... S-L-O-W-W-W-W. I originally wanted it to be a queen size, until I realised how many squares I'd need - I think 500 to 600 or something. Now I am aiming to make a generous couch size blanket with 300 squares, something large enough for me and the kids on a cold morning.
I started this blanket back in December 2010, so referring back to my original time frame of 2 years, I have 10 months to finish it. I really want to finish for this winter though, so I'm pushing through. Thankfully, I still love the colours and design as much today as I did when I began.

I now have 100 fully complete, white framed circles. I also have 70 coloured medallions and another 130 inner circles. It feels like I've done so much recently, but still I have so far to go. I had planned to crochet as I go, to join the squares, but it just isn't practical in an Australian summer to crochet with a large blanket on your lap. I also think sewing the squares will be a little stronger. So those little kiddie toes don't rip the blanket!

Details Ravelled here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Happy Sewing Space

I thought I'd show you all how my sewing domain now looks after I moved rooms earlier this year. I first showed my sewing space here, when it used to be almost the entire first floor of my house. My how spoiled I was!

Then I showed it here, during the move to a much smaller, regular sized room in my house, when my husband very politely refrained from making any comments about the amount of stuff I have. Phew!

Now, things are little more civilised in my space.
 I actually thought I'd tidied really well before taking these photos,
but you can still see crap stashed under the bed! :)
  •  Second hand Ikea daybed, just in case the room is ever tidy enough to host a guest, from Ebay.
  •  Old kitchen side table from my husband's grandfather. The perfect size for my machines.

  • Dresser from the side of the road (yay!). Holds yarn and other random knick knacks.
  • Plate holder, which perfectly holds containers of things and patterns. It was from the 'as is' section of IKEA, only $39.
  • Pigeon holes from under the house of my husband's other grandparents. They apparently are from a Qantas office and were in a lovely, shabby state when I first spied them. Unfortunately, Grandfather decided to clean them up and give them a new coat of horrible, dark stain before giving them to me, but they are still handy for things and really, it's the thought that counts.
Almost everything has a place. Almost. Things do spill over onto the floor and bed and any other space during moments of crazed sewing, but that's part of the creative process in my opinion. I'd love to be as organised as this space, but really, that's not going to happen.
  • Low boy from my husband's grandparents. Apparently it was given to them for their engagement, just prior to the depression.
  • Ikea Billy with books, more things and dressmaking fabric.

The walls could do with some more well considered styling. I love seeing the sewing areas that some people seem to effortlessly create, like Tania's cute little sewing nook here. But I do not have this gift. I have to think really hard and plan for a while to make things look nice, and even then, I don't always get it right.
  • Quilting and bonnet fabric, scraps and patterns, which perfectly fit into these draws.
So that's pretty much it. I am very lucky to have my own room as it does mean I can avoid packing everything away at the end of a sewing session, but that also means this room is normally very, very, very M-E-S-S-Y!! Actually, the messiness directly correlates with my sewing output. Lot of sewing means, lots of mess. But gosh it's fun mess to make!

I hope you are making lots of mess at your machine today!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Picnic Dress.

Just a simple dress. Mostly for wearing around the house, but I think it's cute.
Seriously, 10 photos and this is the only in focus.
The bodice was modified from Burda dress with gathered rectangle skirt and cap sleeves from 02/2011, which I made here and here. I omitted the darts and I just guessed the skirt pattern. Nothing terribly technical. I fully lined the dress as the gingham (from Spotty), was a little sheer, and created a casing for the tie by sewing the lining to the outer, leaving two button holes for the tie to come out.

I think it's kinda cute, don't you?

In other news, my husband now has a new job and starts Monday. We ate out tonight to celebrate! We've had a pretty full week looking for a new job for him and stressing about how many we could go without pay before trouble sets in. We actually found out the day he returned from our holiday that his job was less secure than we thought. Not the best news after this very 'spendy' time of year and also not great as the building industry is slow in January. Anyway, good job found, crises averted, life can go on, no need to stress any more. More sewing to come!

Pattern: Burda dress with gathered rectangle skirt and cap sleeves. Used twice before, so free.
Fabric: Navy gingham cotton from Spotlight $9??Thread and elastic: from stash, only minimal used, so free.
Total: $9

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vintage Simplicity 6446

Finally a finished garment! This dress took over 5 days to make, which is an incredibly long time for me as most of my garments are knocked up in just a few hours. The reason for this lengthy time frame is mainly that I was distracted by life (more on that later) and slowed down by a few crappy mistakes.
Out of focus photos! Need a new camera!
The fabric is a Japanese lawn from Spotlight. I purchased 2.5 meters to make this dress, as the collar tie is cut on the bias, and I used almost all of it, mostly because my crappy mistakes meant I had to cut the collar and both sleeves twice. Thank god I purchased more than I needed - something that I never normally do!
The dress was pretty much sewn as specified by the instructions, grading up at the waist for fit and adding in seam pockets for functionality. I was planning on making a belt to match, but I really like how this dress looks with my grey belt.
The only real modifications made to the pattern, aside from shortening the skirt length, was to add extra ease to the sleeves as they were too tight and also shorten them. I had an inkling when I saw the pattern piece that the sleeves would be tight, and I was right. I found the same problem with this dress that I made from a 1960s pattern. I ended up setting in one sleeve before I realised there was a considerable movement issue, so I recut the sleeves after slashing the pattern piece and adding an extra inch of ease. I really don't understand how women in the 1960s wore these garments and successfully moved. But I guess they probably didn't drive as we do today, and that would have been the main constraint with the original sleeve pattern.

Now being a new year, I've been speding a bit of time planning my new 2012 budget. Did you know I was one of those weird, nerdy, budget makers? Anyway, like Carolyn, I think I might start recording the cost of the garments I make on this blog. I'd like to do this for me, mostly because I'm quite obsessive about budgeting, but also so that it is easy to evaluate whether a garment is good value for money. Sometimes it's hard to tell if I do save money by making clothes and I know sewing isn't just about saving some pennies, clearly it is a hobby, but I think it may help me maintain perspective and control on some costs. Anyway, here goes:
Pattern: Simplicity 6446. $10 inc shipping. Etsy.
Fabric: Japanese lawn, 2.5 meters. Spotlight $20 on sale!
Invisible zipper: $2.50
Buttons: $2.80
Thread: $3.20

Total cost: $38.50

For all the fine print on how I plan to crunch the numbers, please refer to Carolyns guidelines. They all seem fair and easy, so why reinvent the wheel, right?

I feel so happy to be back in action again! And I'm kinda excited, in a nerdy, budgety way, about finally tracking the numbers associated with the hobby!

Hope you are enjoying the last few days of school holidays!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another furniture project

I thought after returning from my holiday that I'd be gagging to get back to my machine, but I am not. I have managed to sew up a batch of bonnets, which went to Shorties today, but not much else.
Instead of sewing yesterday, I used my precious nap time (the kids napping, not me!), to finish off this little school desk.
As with most bits of furniture we get, it was found on the side of the road. This is the type of school desk that I had in primary school and it even still has an Department of Education Workshop stamp on the back. I actually saw one of these at a vintage shop next to Shorties in Newtown, in better condition, with a $70 price tag! Score!
Unfortunately, prior to me finding this, the owner must have left it out in the elements, so the top layer of plywood had peeled off. Regardless though, it is sturdy, super cute and large enough to fit all three of my kids. So I cleaned it up, painted some socks on it,  and covered the top in a simple teal dot fabric (from Lincraft), then plastic. I think its rather smashing - don't you?
The kids love it! I'm trialling leaving out the pencils for the kids to use at their will. The boys have never drawn on walls and the like, but Adele is always the problem with these things.

Fingers crossed my 'sew-jo' returns this weekend, and I have all of that new lovely fabric too. What's wrong with me?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


What do you do on the first day your kids are back at day care?? Well you hit the shops of course! How could I resist the 40% off sale at The Fabric Store? Then there are a bunch of smaller shops on the way home, so with only one child in tow, it seemed like the right thing to do to pop in and say 'hi'.

For the grand total of $100, here's the loot.
The Fabric Store - $60. I must say aside from the above red fabric, I really struggled to find much that I loved yesterday. I am trying to steer clear of buying too many prints and also don't need silk, which form the bulk of their print offerings.

Above you can see, 2.5m of very nice, navy, silk cotton, for which I have no plans. A scant 1.3 meters of red print cotton (I got the end of roll with this one, but they said they were going to get more later this week). This fabric is very crepey and soft. I'm planning on drafting my own pattern to make a dress similar to this Karen Walker design that I love, but am struggling to fit it.  The black eyelet cotton, again and end of roll, with a scalloped edge is destined to become a dress 'I' from Stylish Dress Book, but with some extra modifications that I've been planning since I last made this pattern.
These two fabrics are from Jack Textiles in Marrickville where I spent a total of $30. The top is a rayon, which I don't love now, but it only cost $4.50 for 1.5 meters, so I won't cry. The other is a polyester border print, which I intend on making a simple kimono sleeve dress with a cinched waist. I've seen many similar dresses in shops and I thought it would be fun to try myself. Again, it cost $4.50 for 1.5 meters.
The three fabric pieces on the right are also from Jack Textiles. The bottom two are stretch fabric, one cotton lycra, the other a crepe, poly, 4-way stretch. I'm going to play with these and maybe use the darker fabric for a Mission Maxi. The other dark red/pink fabric is a very light weight, linen blend. It is very light, so I'm hoping after it's washed to assess if I can use it to make Vogue 8728. I failed in my last attempt to make this, but I've seen a few other nice versions, including Kbenco's, that have inspired me to try again.

The navy check fabric was from the fabric shop near Jack Textiles, but up on Marrickville Road,  not sure of the shop name. I'm planning on trying to make the husband a shirt this year, so thought this could be a nice trial fabric. It only cost $3pm, so I bought 3 meters to play with. It's very light and has a tight weave, so I think it will do for him.

So there we have 9 pieces of fabric, which I'm quite happy with for just under $100. I now have a full stash and lots of plans in my head, so won't need to hit the shops again for a while. Well until Spotlight has their 50% off fabric sale!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Yesterday, we got back from our lovely, but exhausting, summer holiday. You may not have noticed I'd gone as there were a few scheduled posts while we were away. I still have more to show, but I guess I'll save them for now.

We enjoyed five lovely, sun-filled days at Broadbeach, Queensland, which included a trip to Movie World (go Batman!), lots of play at the beach, parks and pool, and a lot of eating out.

 Fun in the sand at Broadbeach
 Too cute!
 Movie World
 Bat mobile at Movie World
 The superhero obsession continues...
 The family dinner shot. Excuse the fluffy holiday hair.
More cute!

We finished the holiday with a few fun filled days in Brisbane, with some great friends (and way too much wine!), then a MASSIVE drive home with three exhausted and cranky kids. H-A-R-D W-O-R-K!!!!

Today, two kids are in day care, the laundry is almost done, my machine is back from the service guy and now has a new button hole lever (Oh so happy!) and I'm finally contemplating walking into my sewing room to have a little fun.

I'll be back to report on my holiday craft.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


When one can’t sew, one must find some other way to fill one’s time. This street find, when we stumbled upon it, was sturdy and cute, but had a horrible 70s vibe.
To transform, simply apply 2 coats of Dulux ‘Olive Fizz’ (3/4 strength) and you get a cute little work desk for your bedroom. 
The paint is a high gloss oil paint, which I had instructed my husband NOT to buy. I wanted a water–based semi gloss so that I could distress it, but he listened to the ‘helpful’ Bunnings worker and bought this instead. Oh well, could have been worse! This colour goes perfectly with my Orla Kiely bed linen. I think I’ll need to get new handles eventually, but might hold off until daycare starts again.
I’ve pictured the desk also with a quilt that I made (long ago) with Moda ‘Arcadia’ fabric, which also looks nice together. Actually the quilt lives permanently in my bedroom to try to hide this hideous, black, leather, reclining ‘dad chair’ that my husband loves. Thankfully I’ve managed to hide it my bedroom now. Next stop, the tip! 
This desk replaces an old dining table which I’ve been using. The printer will be installed under the stairs once we renovate that space into a study nook for the kids.
Hopefully I’ll knock over a few more home projects while waiting for my machine to come home to me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Taffy Blouse

Another separate to shift from my 'to do' list, into my wardrobe. Pictured with my denim meringue skirt, also from the Collette Sewing Handbook. I think I've gotten my value from this book now!
I just adore this top. I was worried about how these sleeves would look when worn. I don't think my frame suits 'big' shoulders, but these sleeves aren't big at all. Even when made with a simple dobby voile, they drape nicely and aren't too overwhelming. The bias cut bodice feels just lovely to wear too.
The main modifications that I made to this pattern, was to use my serger to roll hem the sleeves or flounces. There's no point binding black fabric, as you just wouldn't see it. I also used my bias tape maker to make 3/8 inch binding which I sewed under then neck seam. To speed construction up even further, I used my serger for all seams, rather than sewing french seams as the pattern suggests.
The reason for this speedy project? I really wanted to get it done before I sent my machine in for a service *sob!* My button hole lever has been broken for a few months now and really needs to be fixed. I'm hoping to make a few shirt dresses and possibly a shirt or two for the husband, and my manual button holes are just horrible. Hopefully I'll have it back by the weekend. If not, things might be a little quiet around here this week.

Hope you are enjoying the lovely weather (in Sydney, Australia anyway - mwahahahaha!).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ra Ra Skirt

An Alexander McQueen ra ra skirt! Well, really it's a ra ra skirt made with A McQueen cotton fabric that I purchased from Tessuti just last week.
When I first saw this fabric and the sales assistant said it would look good used on the bias, I thought immediately of this skirt Carolyn made for her daughter and knew it would be perfect. Love it Carolyn!

Then when I got home I got cold feet. I tried searching through Alexander McQueen's designs, the RTW stuff, to see if I could find what he (he's a he right?? I'm such a fashionista!), made with it. I didn't look too hard, but I didn't find anything. However, I'm certain he made a ra ra skirt with this fabric too. Isn't that what he's famous for?? Ra ra skirts? To minimise the risk I made a toile, which look OK, then forged ahead with my original plan.
I love this skirt. I was doubtful about whether a 30 something mum with three kids could pull off this look, but I think this is pretty cool and very wearable.
I based my skirt on Burda 06/2010 ruffle skirt #121, which is a three tiered skirt. Just a side note: I've now made three patterns from this particular issue of Burda magazine, so considering I borrowed it from my mate Rachel, I think I've gotten great value from it!
Anyway, to make my variation of this pattern, I used only two flounces and changed them to 3/4 circles, rather than the Burda full circle flounces, as I was quite concerned about looking 'too frilly'. I significantly lengthened the flounces from the pattern length of 6 inches to my 11 inches and hemmed them with a 1/8 inch seam using the roll hem foot on my regular sewing machine. I also lengthened the lining, which is a solid black, silk cotton voile also from Tessuti, from 8 inches to about 10 or so. This was a necessary change given I am often lugging children around and picking up after then, and I like to stay decent. My skirt sits 1 inch below my natural waist and about 1.5 inches above the top of my knee, which is about as short as I could go without looking pushing the decency barrier further.

I really tried to plan the fabric placement on the two flounces, so the first and second tier would vary the fabric design lines. I think I was quite successul at this.
Clearly I'm pretty happy with this little number, so I had to include a happy jumping shot.

And another! Yay!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Not into pink?

For those who are not into pink for their little girls.

Available now in my shop, or you can buy a pattern and make a wee bonnet in whatever style you like.