Saturday, February 25, 2012


Can sew complicated garments. Can not sew neat zippered pouches.

The kids desperately wanted 'wallets' to keep all of their money. I made these last night. They are not neat or well made. They are fudged together very poorly.
 But the kids are happy. I don't think they realise that dodgy handmade zippered pouches are not really cool.
Speaking of pocket money, this week Ollie had his first experience with money without me to guide him through the process. I gave him some pocket money for cleaning up the toys. He took it to school to spend at the tuck shop. He purchased a jelly cup and ice block for himself. Apparently he also purchased ice blocks for his two 'friends', but he doesn't know their names and they are not in his class. Poor kid got ripped off. He doesn't realise though. I think next time I'll write him a lunch order.

My sew-jo is slowly coming back. Might go hit the machine now - yay!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yo Gabba Gabba!

A friend of mine recently stocked up on Yo Gabba Gabba! fabric to make a few goodies for her Gabba obsessed kids. She was heavily pregnant at the time of this purchase. She has since had her third baby and now, so the story goes, is just a little too busy up to make her kids any of the goodies she intended. To ensure at least some things were made this side of their Gabba obsession, I offered my sewing services. Sometimes I can be a little less selfish with me sewing time.

After todays very, very short lunch naps *sigh*, Elva now has a simple peasant style dress made with some rather wild Gabba fabric. I used the Heidi and Finn Sweet Dress pattern (similar to this one).

What can I say, it's fast, it's easy, it has sleeves, so is suitable for daycare (sun protection) and it looks good.
I also whipped up a simple ribbon edged skirt with this vibrant fabric.
For those peeps who don't have kids, or haven't heard of Yo Gabba Gabba, this is what I'm talking about...
I think I feel my sew-jo slowly returning... *fingers crossed*

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pleated skirt

There hasn't been a lot of sewing happening around here lately. There are a few reasons why -insomnia, family things, work (yay!) and just not being in the mood. I thought once I quit my night job, that I'd be hanging to get back to the machine at night, but instead I've been training for the National TV Watching Championships. Is anyone else addicted to My Kitchen Rules? Or Homeland?

I have been enjoying a little moire yarn craft lately, but progress is always slow, so that sort of activity is much harder to blog about. Just incase you are interested, I am still plugging away at my crochet blanket, which I'll hopefully finish for winter, and I've just cast on an In Three's cardigan for Adele.

Today though, there has been a little fast and rewarding sewing, or re-fashioning.
I picked up this pleated skirt from the Op Shop today for $6. It's a ponte skirt with an unusual permanent pleat. Naturally it wasn't in my size and it was too long, but that's nothing that I can't fix.
In just one short hour, I've nipped in the centre back seam (along the pleat marks to hide the seam line) and sewn a shorter hem, and voila!
Perfect! Great length, great fabric for winter and very easy to wash and wear.

Sometimes the Op-Shop gods are smiling down on us!

Hopefully my sew-jo will return. I still seem to be purchasing as though I'm making. (Liberty!) eek!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mission Maxi

This dress came together so quickly and I really enjoyed making it, which is a welcome change to the laborious sewing that's been going on here lately.
I borrowed this pattern today and it took less than 2 hours to trace, cut, sew and photograph. Oh it feels sooooo good!!
It hugs in all the right places and has enough ease in others for comfort and walking.

Not much else to say really, except that I cut a mix of sizes - 6 bust, 10 waist, 8 hip. The binding is neat, especially considering I don't sew stretch often. Although after this success, I may have to venture into more stretch sewing.

Dress cost:
Pattern: Jamie Christina, Mission Maxi - borrowed from Rachel = free
Fabric:  Poly 4 way stretch fabric from Jack Textiles, Marrickville. 2 meters = $6
Thread from stash
Total cost $6

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twisted bubble skirt

This is one of those moments when the kid wouldn't let me take her photo, so here's my lame photographic offering to show this super cute, little skirt.
This is a self drafted bubble skirt, which has an elastic casing sewn to the lining to give the bubble effedt and the lining and outer twisted to give a slanted drape along the bottom of the skirt.
Not the best pictures,  but I think you get my drift.

I made this with a remnant of fabric from my BurdaStyle Heidi dress, which was made with lovely, crepey fabric from Tessuti. This is the second time I've made Adele a bubble skirt with a remnant from this dress. This second remnant came about when I realised I didn't leave enough ease around the hips of my Heidi dress and decided it was too good not to wear. I ended up trekking back to Tessuti, buying another piece of fabric and inserting a panel through the middle of the skirt back, replicating the one at the front, in which I was able to add a little extra fabric for movement.

So this is another ease story which thankfully came good. My biggest mistake with this dress was to forget to look at the hip measurements before making this dress. At the time of making this frock, I was on a roll of sewing more full skirted styles, so didn't have to look at the hip measurement. Just a big 'doh!' moment really.

Anyway, dress fixed and I have another cute skirt for Adele, which she desperately needs. I'm finding the whole toilet training thing is easier with skirt and dresses

Monday, February 13, 2012


Let me introduce you to my first Rooibos dress by Colette patterns. I'm so very happy with this dress, I'm sure it won't be the last.
I love the finish, the style, the fabric, the Liberty piping, the pockets, everything!

I made surprisingly few modifications to the pattern, but I did cut a variety of sizes for fit, from a size 2 to an 8. The key change that I did make to the pattern however, was to raise the back of the dress as I wanted this to be a work dress and a don't really feel too comfortable in a low back at work.
For fitting purposes, I also lengthened the bust and back darts slightly and sewed a very scant hem.

The fabric is a lovely viscose from Tessuti. It's a really difficult colour to photograph, kinda a warm black brown colour. While the fabric did fray a little and wasn't too keen to be press neatly along the seams, it has a lovely feel and creases very little with wear.
The piping and facings were made with some Liberty, Emilia's Flowers, which I salvaged from this Tova. I just didn't feel comfortable wearing this Tova. There was just too much mini floral near my face. I much prefer  this use for this lovely sweet Liberty fabric. The buttons were made with some vintage self cover buttons that I picked up from the Op Shop for next to nix.

I just adore this dress and I'm sure it will get a lot of wear, especially in cooler weather with tights and a cardigan.

Pattern: $10 - I shared the cost of this purchase with Rachel
Fabric: $22.40. It was $20 p/m full price, but I purchased it at 30% off and I think I still have enough to make another project in the future.
Liberty: I think I'll say this has a zero cost as I re-purposed a finished garment that I don't wear.
Piping cord: $1
Self covered buttons: 20c
Thread: $3.10
Zipper: $3.15
Total: $39.85

We are now half way through February and I've already made 4 wearable dresses. Clearly I'm not doing very well at sticking to my resolution to make more seperates. Maybe next time!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


How much ease do you need in your sewn garments for comfort? It's taken a while, but I'm finally starting to get the wearing ease right in the garments that I make.

For the non sewing types who might be reading this, ease is the amount of "space" in a garment beyond your body measurements. All of that extra fabric which makes moving in a garment possible. This extra space is especially important when sewing fitted garments with non stretch fabrics. Often pattern companies put far more wearing ease or "space" into a pattern than is actually necessary for movement. It's quite irritating when you finish sewing a garment only to find it's ridiculously large on you, even though the size you picked is for your body measurements. While I'm talking about ease, there is also style ease or design ease, which as the name suggests, is included in the pattern for over all design or style purposes. Today this rant is about wearing ease, specifically on fitted patterns.

Anyway, when sewing fitted garments, once you figure out how much wearing ease you need, it becomes easier to pick the size to cut by either referring to the finished garment size or by measuring the pattern pieces at the bust, waist or hip.

Unfortunately for me, determining how much ease I need has been a process of trial and error. Earlier on in my sewing life, many of the garments I made were over fitted and didn't have enough wearing ease, so I couldn't eat, drink or sometimes sit down comfortably in them. Most of my fitting issues are at the waist or lack of waist :)

On Christmas day, I realised my much loved Simplicity 2180 was just a little too snug around the waist and I struggled to comfortably fit in all of the lovely food I wanted to eat. I had mistakenly thought that as the waist band sat above my actual waist, that I wouldn't require as much wearing ease. I have also put on a little weight these past months, so I won't entirely blame my sewing efforts in this fitting mishap.
Anyway, like most finished garments this dress didn't easily allow for modifications to the waist and I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to wear this dress. It has been on high rotation in my wardrobe since it's completion.

In order to build in the extra 2 inchs of ease that I wanted, just in case I put on more weight (not that I'm hoping or trying to), I un picked the entire back waist band. I released the back darts, sewed the side seams as scant as possible, then tackled rebuilding the waist band. I created more piping then added a new section to the band with fabric scraps. The skirt gathers were reduced slightly to increase the width at the waist.
Now, after all of this fiddly work, my dress is wearable again. I adore this dress. I love the fabric, the style, the piping and I LOVE wearing it. Now I can do so very, very comfortably even if my waist expands a little further.
Also, just in case you are interested my wearing ease needs for comfort, depending on style, are:
Bust:   2 inches minimum
Waist: 3.5 inchs minimum

Have you had similar experiences with sewing your own garments? Do you know the amount of ease you need for comfort?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pink Checkerboard Cake

This isn't a cooking blog, but I've been a little off my game lately and this is the latest story. I purchased this cake pan from the Op Shop last week for $2. I'm normally quite rational with Op Shop purchases. "Do I really need it?" swirls around in my head while I contemplate every purchase, but my husband (yes, he came to the Op Shop with all three kids) thought it was a good buy.

Yep, just what I needed. How retro! This is my version, with just food colouring. My husband made me change his shirt buttons to start his new job, but I'm not sure how easy it is to hide bright pink cake in the lunch shed! ha ha ha!

I wish I had enough batter to make the three tiered version, but ran short. Still it was delicious.
The little monster enjoying the cake.
In other non-sewing related news:
  • School drop-offs make the day incredibly short, but Ollie still loves it,
  • Adele is kinda toilet training. In the sense that she gets my undivided attention all day, then the second I turn my back she wees on the carpet or lounge. ewwww!
  • James is loud. Louder than ever before. Poor middle child!
We have also decided that I will give Ollie another week or so more to settle into school before I start looking into getting work. Normally I'd be cheering with this extra kiddie free time, but I've lost my sew-jo and surprisingly, am a little sad about Ollie being at school. The day is so short! How will I ever survive working in those tiny hours?

Anyway, in other sewing related news, I have finished a Rooibos. Hopefully the kids will let me take photos for you tomorrow.

Hope you are enjoying your time at your machine!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A few fizzers

While sometimes the whole sewing thing can produce hugely successful garments, like my recent red ruffle dress, which is definitely one of the best things I've sewn. It can also produce a huge number of fizzers or wadders. I've had a few recently. They are haunting me. I'm hoping by writing about them, by coming clean to my lovely readers, that I can gain some closure on these fails and pop them in the bin, to be forgotten about forever. Hopefully then, I'll be inspired to get back to my machine and create again.

Vintage Vogue 8728
I didn't want my first fail at this pattern to get the better of me, but my second attempt also hasn't made me happy. I made a SBA by cutting the smallest size available in the envelop, then removing about an inch from the top centre of the bodice, as there was no way my bust was going to fill this part of the dress. These modifications worked successfully, but now I realise that the style itself isn't me. I love the picture, I love the design, I love it on other people, but I know that it's not me. The fabric is also a little scratchy. Maybe it has some ramie in the blend. I'm not going to cry over this one. It needs to be binned.

Self drafted pattern with expensive silk
I'm not going to lie. I did cry when this one failed. I was clearly being way to ambitious with this garment. I intended to make a princess seam blouse with a neck ruffle, but it wasn't meant to be. Live and learn. I need to get these scraps out of my sewing space so this memory stops haunting me!

These next two are from last year, but just so I can finally get rid of them from my sewing space, here they are.

New Look 6697
The fabric was a little tricky to work with and it has been finished to an adequate standard, but the neck gapes so much that it is indecent. I could fix it, but my heart just isn't in it. To the bin, I say!

Self drafted pattern with silk cotton fabric
Unfortunately this fabric was a little pricey, so the fizzer feels even worse. While the dress itself if OK, the fabric was a little too lightweight for a dress and I should have recognised that. Again, I just need it to stop haunting me. The fabric pieces are too small to re-purpose, so I need to bin it.

So there you go, fizzers always go with success stories. Hopefully by clearing these out, I can finally get back into sewing again. I need to start something fresh. Something exciting. Something challenging. Something I'm interested in. What will it be?

I hope you are enjoying your time at the machine. Fingers crossed that I get inspired soon!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oh Typo!

It's not very often that chain stores recognise us crazy sewing types, but Typo does. This is the latest sewing knick knack I've picked up from the store.
 Can you guess what's on my autumn sewing list?
A pencil holder, or sewing knick knack holder, that looks like an over sized thread spool! LOVE it!

It goes perfectly with my "Sew Happy" canvas tile that my sister bought me - thanks Sam!

And my laser cut vintage sewing machine, wooden wall decal. Love, love, love!
The thread spool broke off, but I still love it.
Thanks Typo. Makes me sew happy :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Advance 6120

This dress pattern, from 1951, looks so cute on the pattern envelop.
But it did not work for me.
Maybe it was the cheap fabric, a stretch poplin from Spotlight, that let it down or maybe the pattern. The bodice originally turned out horrible. The sleeves were huge, the arm holes gaped to an indecent level and the amount of ease was ridiculous. I scaled the bodice down quite considerably, using Vintage Simplicity 3461 as my guide, but still this isn't right. By accident, I also hemmed the skirt a little too short, which has ruined it further.
Oh well, it was an interesting experiment, but since it will never be worn, I've already reused the zipper.

Pattern: $15?? from Etsy
Fabric: $10?? Spotlight on sale.
Thread: from stash
Zipper: zero cost - already recycled into Simplicity 6446
Total: $25