Thursday, 22 August 2013


Wow, time has flown by.  I finished teaching my 1st set of classes in early July and its now late August.  Eeekk.  It was a lot of fun.  We got to cosy up in the Country Women's rooms in Dunsborough, eat cake and, importantly, make skirts.  The pattern I chose for the class was a great beginners one Megan Neilsen's Kelly Skirt.  Its a great one because it only has one important measurement which is the waist.  It's simple to sew with lots of straight bits but also some intersting things like pockets, pleats and button holes and the finished object is pretty stylish too.

Everyone was so excited by the pockets, its really the 1st thing you make and when they realised that they had put in 2 nicely shaped pockets there were lots of smiles.  Button holes too went pretty well.  I did lots of revision and practice before hand and am now also much better at them than I was before!!!

I learnt many other things too.... like it takes 10 hours to teach a class to make this skirt and finish it not 7 and a half.  Pleats also caused us a few headaches.  Not that they are hard to put in but that everyone needed up with skirts that were too long around the waist and so the waistband only just fitted (and was maybe a bit big finished).  I think for next time I will get everyone to hand tack them and check the waistband length before machine basting in place.  Its also really interesting to see what what beginners really need to know, what's too much and of course those things you think are obvious but totally aren't when you 1st start.

I had such a nice 1st group and three and a half finished skirts out of four.  Erin couldn't make the last lesson but I know she's brought herself a sewing machine after using mine to do the course so I think its out there somewhere!  Here are few pics....
Kim sewing away - she was super speedy!
Jen sewing too.
Emma with her Elks! Loving the scandi style.
Finished Skirts Happy Ladies
And here's a picture of me that I'm using for my facebook page for the classes.  I've cut my fringe.  I know you can tell I did it by that kink.  Well actually my husband did it but I can't be blaming him.  I haven't had one for years but I like it.  Look a bit crazed here, hopefully it won't put everyone off! 

More classes coming soon but I need to work out exactly when as I have started going to some too.

Yay, I'm so excited.  I'm into week 2 of pattern cutting evening classes at Bunbury TAFE.  I accidentally happened upon an advertisement for them, enquired and was told there weren't enough people............. then there were and there I am.  yey.

We are doing skirt and bodice blocks, styles, grading and all sorts.  I was amazed how well my skirt block fit - of course it would I guess.  I've done bits of it before and read lots so its not all totally new but it really does make a huge difference to actually do it in practice and have someone teach you, show you how its properly done and answer your questions.  I love learning anything really but to be able to learn this which I have been wanting to do for ages is a real priveledge.  A do you know what? Its not that hard either (she says after only 2 weeks and some VERY basic styles).  I think I will be making patterns for a lot more things myself.

Next up I'm off to do a day of natural dyeing in September.  After a quiet winter its all happening.  Feels good.

Monday, 12 August 2013


Well I've done a lot of straight line sewing recently with a few bits of twiddly stuff in the middle, namely some applique.  Not something I do much of, I always think of it as going on kids clothes or quilts.  No reason it has to be like that but I've never put any on anything for me.  No change there, I just made some seat covers and kids clothes!

I picked up 3 lovely directors chairs in the tip for $5 when we were dropping something else off.  (Is it only me that always comes back with more than I take?)  Nothing wrong with these just the seats were a bit ripped and mouldy and the wood needed some TLC.  I couldn't leave them behind.  They sat in the garage for about 8 months and then one drizzly saturday morning I just decided to get on and oil them.

I sanded them lightly and then brushed on organ oil which got rapidly soaked up.  It was an amazing transformation, they went from looking pale, worn and sorry for themselves to chic and shipshape just like that.  

Small one didn't want to miss out on any painting action so had a go on her new climbing frame her dad had just built. 

Next to the covers.  I had a large length of denim from the op shop, I'd had it in mind for these so just needed to get going.  I measured the old covers and reduced the size a bit to allow for stretch.  Then I did some applique feathers on the top just to add a bit of interest.  I had some fancy interfacing stuff that sticks on both sides that I brought ages ago, the feather template was on the instruction sheet of something I made out of Burda Style and it had stuck in my memory.  Easy.  Sew around the edge with small zigzag, and running stitch embroidery down the middle whilst watching TV. 

I'm totally pleased with them, but also pleased not to have to sew more straight lines for a bit!

Obviously comfy enough!
The girls above are infact wearing 2 very cute applique dresses, not by me, from Boden in the UK.  A present from their Grandma.  I tried my hand too.  Skye had been walking about with the lion Fabric for a couple of days, she even took it to bed, so I took pity and made her a paper bag skirt with a little lion on the big pocket.  I just made the pattern up, very easy, a slightly sloped rectangle with elastic!  In the photo its just come out of the wash, it could do with an iron but it probably won't get one. 

Modelled by miss on completion.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Late to the Party

I made these PJs and even took the photos in time for the party but then I missed it.  Life and things got in the way.  But finally ............I present my 2 new pairs of pyjama bottoms!!!  Both of these pairs of trousers rescued otherwise unwearbale tops from the op shop and transformed them into pretty cute pyjama tops.  They only get seen under cover of darkness (by me and my nearest and dearest) so the obvious reasons I didn't really like wearing the tops out become unimportant and it seems pyjamas have different style rules which mean they are just fine.  I now have 2 sets of PJs that get lots and lots of wear.

1st up lets meet the karate/curtains/kung-fu/chintz pair.  I really am not sure what I was thinking when I made this top.  I did originally buy the fabric for a nightie or pyjamas but then decided to make a kimono top.  Its kind of ok and it did get worn out once - the day I made it of course.  But the sleeves are huge and show your bra and the print whilst very pretty and a lovely soft voile is really not my style and, well, doesn't go so well with the design.  Its pattern 121 from Burda Style 06/11. 

Back to plan A.  Bra showing is obviously no longer an issue if I'm not wearing one!  I had more of the same fabric and trim so enter a PJ bottom pattern from Burda 12/2007 (which incidentally has a much better looking kimono style top).  I have sepia-ed up these pics as it was all a bit harsh with the night time flash photography.  You can see the real colours in the last pic below.

 Next up a stripey vintage sheet pair.  Quite reminiscent mens PJS (although maybe not in pink).  They tone down the sweetness of the top.  I made this one when I was pregnant, (in fact I notice I posted about it 2 days before giving birth!)  It kind of worked ok for that although really the material was not drapey enough.   I tried cutting off the frilly sleeves to improve it and thought about shortening it but it didn't seem worth the effort.  Its one major merit was its extreme comfort (and of course its downside in that it looks a bit like a sack) so pyjamas it became.  I used the same pattern.

These were bottoms were obviously not complicated to make but were something I'd been meaning to do for ages and kept putting off.  I think I knocked them both out in one evening. Thank you to Karen, her pyjama party gave me the push to finally do it.  Two otherwise unloved items are now earning their keep.

Monday, 15 July 2013

It's just pants!

My computer has blown up, which is pretty pants, which means I haven't done some of the posts I want to as my photos are stuck on my camera.  So here is a little post from my iPhone.  Life not actually too pants although we have been having a bit of mid winter blues.  We reckoned that being from the northern hemisphere we would normally have Christmas to break up winter but over here we don't have any fun celebrations to so it feels super long.  So to lighten the mood I knocked out a quick fun project using some small amounts of things from my stores.

Yes pants! Yey.  Made using Zoe's free pattern, a metre or 2 of knicker elastic from my large store ( 2  big bags $5 at Albany auctions), and some scrap jersey from a dress I made.  I made 2 pairs, using blue and pink elastic to go with the grey fabric.

For the blue ones I added a small seam allowance so the leg and waist sides as the pattern is designed for fold over elastic and mine is just traditional knicker elastic (even though you do fold it over in the process of sewing it on).  The pink ones I left as is and I prefer these although the difference is minimal.  Only thing I would change would be to make sure I put a bit more tension on my waist elastic as I sewed it on.  They aren't falling down but more would feel better I think.  I sewed the elastic on 1st with a normal zigzag and once I had turned it over with a 3 step zigzag, a stitch I love on knit fabric.  


My over locker's timing has ******ed up again so its out of action until I feel rich or desperate enough to get it fixed.  Booo.  It wouldn't have made any difference to making these but it is making me hesitate to start some other projects (well its my most recent excuse for not making trousers with a front fly!!)

Anyway these pants/knickers/undies are great, super comfy and M&S may not get any more business from me (yes despite living in oz for 4 years now my mum still sends me parcels of my favourite M&S boy leg shorts.)  Infact next mission must surely be to trace a pair of these.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Beach Blanket Babylon

This coat started life as a blanket.  I think it started that life quite a long time ago.  It was made in the Albany Woollen Mills, now no longer there.  I don't know when they closed down but I am imagining sometime in the 80s.  I like that this coat has had a long life before and that it was originally made relatively locally.  I cut the label off the corner of the blanket and hand stitched it into the coat.

And here's the coat. Ta daaaa......

I made the this pattern from Burda Style 10/2012.   I made my usual size 12 (38) and it seems to fit pretty well.  I left out the inseam pockets as I thought that some on the front would look better.  I'm still planning to put in some welt pockets as I keep reaching down to put my hands in them only to find I haven't made them yet!  My excuse is that it was very cold and I just had to start wearing the coat.  I also brought a couple of buttons as I planned to put one or 2 on to hold it together rather than just the belt.  I still haven't put them on as I wasn't sure I wanted to have a big button hole (or a snap) on the collar when I didn't have it fully buttoned up.  My compromise is a kilt pin.


I hand stitched the blanket stitch all the way around, using some tapestry wool I got for $1 at the market.  It was quite therapeutic really and a just took me a couple of evenings in front of the TV.  I'm actually really pleased with it.  It kept me warm at the same time too.  Initially I had planned to do 2 or 3 rows of running stitch just inside too but in the end I didn't want to overdo the crafty-ness of it.

I think though that the fact that it does still look quite like a blanket is what has got me so many compliments about it.  I thought it was reltively ordinary but I guess its quite unusual and the fact that it does look handmade does make people comment on it.  I have even had a couple of requests for copies.

Its not lined as you can see so its a relatively easy make.  I did flat fell seams, with a raw edge where I could and I like the rustic look of these.

It was a warm sunny lunch time when I photographed this but its been a wonderful coat for the chilly mornings and evenings. So with the sun shining, a cosy coat for when it isn't and at a total cost of $6 for materials I really have nothing left to complain about!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Me Made May the end (including my new Briar)

Here are a last few photos from Me Made May.  I think you've seen most of thse outfits before so I won't dwell on them.  This top photo is from Skye's 3rd birthday where I wore my Roxanne top.  It was a lovely sunny day and I originally started out wearing my favourite Chloe dress.  For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to turn my compost heap and got my fork handle stuck in the pocket and as I thrust it into the compost I heard an ominous ripping sound.  I had torn my dress all along the front seam by the pocket.  Booooooo. 
My poor Chloe!
I can fix it of course.  I've got more of the flowery fabric and have cut out a new welt pocket piece already, I just need to get the motivation to sew it.  I don't know why I am so bad about actually sitting down and doing repairs even to my favourite dress! 
My wrap top works nicely with dresses too and I don't have to worry about it riding up (which it has a bit of a tendency to do) and reveal my midriff.

Talking of midriffs I made a Briar.  I'm thinking that I'd like to teach a class about sewing knits and thought this would be a good base pattern.  Slightly counterintuitively I decided to make the length I thought least likely to suit me to see how it worked.  I had a piece of natural cotton jersey, again from the op shop.  Enough to make this although I had to shorten the sleeves.  I cut a size medium (compared to a large for my Kelly Skirt).  The fit seems pretty good.  If I was making this length again I think I would add just an inch or two to it as I'd like it to end a little bit further below my bust, probably so that I there was no gap between a high waisted item like this Kelly skirt and the tshirt. 

As you'd imagine my Briar goes really well with my Kelly.
Its a great T shirt (the slight whiff of moth balls cured by a trip to the washing machine) and I already have plans for 2 long versions swimming around in my head.

The next day I wore it as a jumper over jeans and a shirt.  In his usual fashion my husband asked what had happened to the bottom of my t shirt! 

I totally love this pink shirt i am wearing it with.  Its liberty cotton and it fits so well even though its constructed with no darts.  My normal problem with conventional shirts is gaping around the buttons but with this one there is none of this.  Combined with the beautiful print and lovely silkyness of the liberty lawn this one of my favourite shirts.  Alas I didn't make it but for $5 in a garage sale I can't complain!

This top is one of the 1st things when I started my blog.  I still like it.

My Lola Fleece again.
And finally another warm creation.

So my main lesson from this last month was that once the weather starts to cool down my staple wardrobe of me made summer dresses get put away, my jeans come on and they don't really come off!  I have quite a lot of tops to wear but I could do with making some more outerwear as well as a few winter dresses.  Other than that its just nice to wear some of those things in my wardrobe that I didn't make but that I still love.  I'm enjoying June!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Cosy Cardi

It's lovely and warm and cosy and, in that, it seems to be all I'm after in an item of clothing these days!  I brought this fabric at the local markets from a lady that sells (obviously) pieces of second hand fabrics, haberdashery bits and bobs as well as a rather good selection of second hand books.  I think this set me back $4.50 for a meter and a half of boiled wool type jersey.  One side looks just like boiled wool, the other like jersey.   Not sure which side is meant to be the right one but I went for the bobbly side.  It stretches like astable jersey.

Cosy and content
I spent a bit of time prowling the interwebs for a suitable pattern but didn't find anything I really liked.  Then I stumbled on a few tutiorials and looked at cardi I already had.  In the end I decided it would be easiest to draft a pattern from a top I already had.   I used the long sleeved black T shirt that I'm wearing underneath.  Infact it was very easy and I wonder why I didn't think of this earlier.

On the front I just curved the neckline down from the shoulder to the centre front at the bottom.  Then I cut two 30cm wide pieces (each the length of half the front) sewed them together and attached them as the collar.  The width was decided by a small hole in the fabric meaning 30cm was all I could fit in.  I think it works pretty well.  If I was to do it again I think I might curve the centre back seam of the collar so that it rolls over more softly, although it works ok as it is.  The collar and front are really nice to wrap around you and snuggle in.

I did the shoulder seams inside out and sewed the seam allowances down with a zigzag stitch.  Other seams were the normal way out but also sewn down on either side with a zigzag.  I feel like the zigzags add a bit more structure and make it look a little more jacket like.  I left the hem and neck unhemmed.  My husband keeps asking when I'm going to finish it but I think its fine. 

My hair looks a bit crazy but as I said I'm warm.  I've worn it lots.  I like the colour, infact I seems to have sewn a few things in different colours (for me) but which all go toghether really well. 

I like the shawl/scarf like collar.  I was considering a more waterfall one which seems to consist of curtting a big rectangle extra on each front piece.  In the end I didn't think it would be so warm for this cardi but I do have some thickish white jersey that I might try one from. 

One thing I did learn from Me Made May (final post sometime soon) was that I mainly wear jeans in winter and I was lacking many warm things to go with them.  Here's solution number one!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sewing for Smalls

I've managed to make quite a few things this May, even if I didn't manage to make the trousers I pledged to for Me Made May (oopps).  The list includes... 2 pairs of pyjama bottoms, a coat/cardi, a big wool coat (nearly finished), 2 little waistcoats and a Briar.

Here are the 2 waistcoats. 

I am so pleased with them.  I can't decide if they are more Fred Flinstone or Footballers Wife?  On my children they're probably veering to the caveman side of things, given nothing stays clean that long and they never look that groomed (the kids not the coats)!  Also incredibly pleasing is the fact that the pair of them cost me less than $2 total (the coats not the kids).  I found 4 remnants of the fur in the op shop for $1.50.  I don't know what got me to buy it but I just saw it and was sure I could get 2 little waistcoats out of it.  The linings are remnants of old vintage sheets that I had already used for other makes (my Chloe and an unblogged top for my mum), the buttons were in my jar (20c the two - op shop of course) and the pattern was from Burda Style 10/12.  The pattern originally had a hood but I didn't have enough fur and thought the weight might also pull the waistcoat off the little people's shoulders.  I sewed them up immediately as I knew the fur wouldn't have many other uses and I wanted to make them before another project stole my attention and inspiration.

I made sizes 104 and 98 (pictured)

My small one rocking the cave woman look, complete with uggs.  Poor girl, styled by her mum and feeling a bit ill too.
I've made a few little girls clothes that I haven't blogged about but I seem to have captured them in some photos so thought you might like to see them.  The 1st one is a 60s style dress with patch pockets on the front.  I made a size 104 which is a bit big but hopefully it will fit for a while.  Its made out of the same lovely soft stretchy cotton as my spotty shorts.  Pictured here covered with flour after a bread baking session with Dad. The pattern is from Burda Style 09/12.

The pockets work.

You can just spot the other tunic top, also from Burda 09/12 which has lovely puffy bottoms to the sleeves.  This one is made from some quilting material I brough when I first started sewing again.  I love the print, some how I cut out the 1st front with the pattern off centre but luckily I had enough to cut another as it would have bugged me all the time.

Other seriously exciting news is that I won the Tessuti birthday give away!!!!  Yey me.  I was thinking that I had entered a few giveaways and sometime one of the random picks should randomly pick me.  I mean some giveaways are popular but its not lottery type odds.  Nonetheless I was pretty flabberghasted when I found that I actually had won one, and one with such a great gift as well. 

Soon after seven meters of lovely linen found their way to me.  I've got 1.5m of the blue and pink which are both lighter weight and 2 m of each of the white and beige which are a bit heavier.  I am thinking a buttion up shirt in the pink and maybe some type of tunic/smock top in the blue? Maybe a Tova or Tessuti's Mia tunic - we shall see.  What about the others?  A dress, some wide leg pants?  Does anyone have any good ideas or suggestions for patterns? A great dilemma to have.