Hi all!

September’s theme on The Monthly Stitch was ‘Vintage Patterns’. I decided I was going to dip into some of my gorgeous retro Burda Moden magazines for a pattern.


This is only a selection. I have more.

But which one to choose from? So many fabulous offerings.



Backless was all the rage in the German summer of ’77.


Honestly, I could totally see this dress walking down King St on a Saturday night (or Oxford St, or whatever street near you that has trendy party people on a Saturday night).

But then there’s this beach robe.


Oh. My. God. It has POCKETS, people, POCKETS in the LAPEL!!! Because you need somewhere to keep your sunscreen!!! Does it get any better??

Eventually I decided to make this cute little wrap sundress, which reminded me of the Big4 vintage pattern reproduction that was so popular a couple of years ago.


Now, the old Burda Moden magazines only had each pattern in one size. And this dress was a 36. Which I am not. So this was going to be my pattern-grading lesson as well. There’s heaps of tutorials out the in the interwebs, so I got out my tracing paper and my ruler and my coloured pencils and got to work grading up to a 40 (or thereabouts, based on my measurements).

The good news is, when I made up the muslin, the bodice was perfect. Sadly, the very full gathered skirt made me look downright frumpy. No photos. Nope. I was disappointed and didn’t have the heart to continue with the pretty fabric I had dug out of my stash. I’m thinking I could do pleats instead of gathers, as they sit flatter, and also take some of the fullness out completely. But basically that project got sidelined for the time being.

The rest of my September weekends were full of non-sewing related stuff and I didn’t actually get much sewn until last weekend, in a last-ditch effort to produce a successful ‘vintage’ pattern project.


Enter McCalls 6852, circa 1980-something. That dolman/batwing sleeve is ‘on-trend’ right now I believe! The pattern is a 14, but it’s designed for a woven cut on the bias. I decided to not do any grading and make it out of jersey.


With a nod to Buy Nothing New Month, I recycled two t-shirts and a thrifted maxi skirt to make version ‘A’ of this pattern. The back of the tee is solid black. I’m wearing it today and it’s oh-so-comfy! The fabrics are a soft viscose or rayon jersey so have a nice drape and hand. Sadly I didn’t make the September deadline for The Monthly Stitch, but I might sneak over and post it anyway :-)

Summer hit Sydney pretty hard on the weekend so I see some more short-sleeved makes in the future. There’s some of that the printed jersey from the thrifted maxi left so it may make another appearance.

Do you have any seasonal projects upcoming? Do you use thrifted fabrics?


So my lunchbox was starting to fall apart, quite literally, at the seams. Plus, some of my lunch food containers didn’t fit into it. I decided enough was enough, and went about making a custom one!

After some quality time on Pinterest and some general surfing around lunchbox ideas, I based my lunchbox on the construction of the Fiskars Insulated Lunch Bag, which is a free pattern/tutorial. Using my largest lunch container as a guide, I did some math and sketched up a draft pattern.

The Fiskars bag is sewn all-in-one, but I didn’t want visible seams inside my bag. To do that I made the lining separate from the shell, and then slipped one inside the other, wrong sides together, before finishing the binding around the upper opening.

I used some deco fabric I’d had in the stash for ages for the outer shell. I haven’t done it yet but I intend to give it a good spray with Scotchguard to help keep it nice and clean. It is, however, washable.

The lining is a layer of bamboo quilt batting (leftovers from a previous project), a bright pink quilting cotton from the stash, and an inner lining of some clear vinyl I scored through work a few years ago. Those I layered all together and sewed as one. Doing it this way meant the vinyl was always together, so I didn’t have to worry about walking feet or that sort of stuff. I did use a jeans needle, though.

I’m afraid I had one of those ‘having-too-much-fun-to-take-pictures’ projects so I’ve got nothing of the construction!


Seams were layered and pinked. The button and elastic closure were sewn onto the shell prior to joining it to the lining, and I did reinforce those areas with some scraps of iron-on interfacing (on the wrong side of the fabric). The handle I completely forgot to add before I did the binding, so that got sewn on by hand.


The clear vinyl means I can wipe the inside with a damp cloth to keep it clean, but I can wash this in cold water (probably by hand or on the delicate cycle). I know that the vinyl is probably not food-safe or BPA free,  but it was a practice run, and as long as my food doesn’t come into direct contact with it I think I’ll survive.

The base of the bag is reinforced with a rectangle of clear plastic (the stuff you use with document binding machines, cos that’s what I had). I made a little pocket against the wrong side of the lining with a piece of fabric and slipped the plastic in there.


There’s a couple of pop-studs on the sides to help keep the closure tidy. The bag ended up a little roomier than I intended – I was a little generous with my measurements – but that’s totally fine. Finished measurements are about 35cm tall, and the base is 20cm x 22cm.


And hey. Folds flat for easy storage! It’s going to get a test run this week, and if it works I might revise the measurements a bit and make another one. I have a piece of laminated fabric I bought yonks ago with a lunchbox in mind; it could happen!!!

Enjoy your week my friends – happy lunchbox!



How much sewing can I do in one month? Well, I guess that depends on how many episodes of Stargate Atlantis I can watch in my sewing room.

Here’s some hilarious Czech ‘Zalenka-isms’, for fun.

Okay so back to the sewing. About a month ago I got a couple of StyleArc patterns when they were having a sale. One of the patterns I purchased was the Tamara Top, a fairly simple-shaped top with some interesting design lines.

I’m on a self-imposed spending freeze, which means no new fabrics at the moment, so it’s stash or bust in the sewing room. And let’s be honest, I have plenty. That top drawer is new fabrics, mostly stretch, and the second drawer is ‘refashionables’. And let’s not talk about the plastic tubs in the garage.


To trial the pattern I used some blue double jersey salvaged from a (mostly unsuccessful) attempt to make leggings (ironically, from another StyleArc pattern). The black & white tweed was refashioned from a skirt I picked up at the op shop. (Look, that’s it in the drawer! See?)

Version 1

See that seamline down the front? Not part of the pattern. That’s the side seam from the leggings that failed.

Version 1 - blue double jersey & recycled tweed skirt

I’m actually really happy with the result! The top fits well and is a nice shape on me. I quite like my extra seam. I’m gonna call it a feature.

So I went ahead and made another one! Again I used some rescued fabrics. The taupe knit is a viscose lycra, which I bought only recently and made into a long-sleeved drapey top, but that looked like a monk’s robe when I put it on. Sooooo taupe, sooooooo blaaah.

Version 2

The printed stretch satin was originally from Spotlight, a few years ago, that I used to make up a commercial pattern but I decided to alter the pattern on the fly… bad idea. I loved the fabric, though, so the unfinished garment and the leftover fabric have been languishing in my stash ever since.

Version 2 - viscose lycra & printed stretch satin

As I’ve found with StyleArc, the instructions are pretty basic. That said, the top wasn’t hard to put together. The trickiest bit was the corner seam at the upper front, but I basted it first and I think that made all the difference. Trying to manipulate that corner under the presser foot, clipping and dealing with pins at the same time – no thanks.

I used my regular sewing machine for the seams, but finished the edges with the overlocker. I know knits don’t fray but it just looks nicer on the inside if the edges are finished. And when I say ‘regular machine’, I’m referring to the Janome SuperAutomatic which has become my favourite workhorse sewing machine:


The patterns says you can use stretch or woven for the insert panels. The tweed is a woven – it had a tiny bit of give due to the weave, but not enough to call it a stretch. It worked fine for the panels in the bodice, but in the sleeve I could have done with a little more ease. You know, for my bulging biceps. Ha ha ha.

In the second version, as both fabrics were stretch, it was completely fine. Both versions pull a little across the bust, somehow more noticeably in the taupe than the blue, so possibly I needed a little extra for the bust. Neither neckline sits very flat, I think the binding is just a little too bulky. The blue is quite thick, and I only used a single layer of binding, but in the taupe I followed the pattern and used a doubled piece, thinking the lighter fabric would work better. I think possibly the interfacing I used is too heavy, resulting in that sticky-out neckline.

All in all though I’m pretty happy!


Anyone else had experiences with StyleArc patterns? How about those 6mm seam allowances, huh? (I have to admit to adding extra seam allowance when I traced out the pattern. 6mm is just scary to me!)


Hi there! I thought I’d share some baking with you, just to prove that I’m not only all about the sewing.



I based these on this recipe, with a few minor adjustments. The recipe called for 1 egg plus one egg yolk, but I hate splitting eggs, so I replaced the yolk with a dollop of yoghurt.


White Chocolate Matcha Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour (I used a gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 tbsp matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 180g white choc chips, or roughly chopped white chocolate

Preheat oven to 325F (165C)

Beat butter & sugars until creamy.

Beat in vanilla, egg & yoghurt.

Sift in flour, matcha powder, baking soda & salt. Mix until dough is just blended. Fold in white chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just browning around the edges.  Cool on trays for a couple of minutes, then transfer onto wire racks.


I ran 7.1km this morning. I think I earned a couple of cookies :-)

Wait, let’s have a closeup.


Happy Birthday Kylie!

About 3 years ago, I picked up a big pile of patchwork/craft fabric at an Op Shop. Part of the haul was these two gorgeous pieces of tie-dye flannelette. (I won’t say how much they cost me, cos they ended up as a birthday present, but it was not much!) At the time I thought I would end up using it to back a cot quilt or something similar. But there comes a time in every sewist’s life that you just say to yourself, MAKE PYJAMAS.

And Kylie’s birthday was coming up.

The hardest part was deciding which colour she would like…. so I made two pairs and let Kylie  choose for herself! 20150809_182046[1] Which means I got a pair as well! Hurrah! Kylie picked the bluey-green ones so I got the orange ones –  orange being my favourite colour, I was pretty happy. 20150809_182224[1] They are the softest, fuzziest flannelette I have ever laid my hands on. Soooo warm and cosy (it’s still winter here in the southern hemisphere, by the way :-) I did have to use my knowledge of dye techniques, though. While sewing the blue ones, I noticed these tiny white flecks of stuff sort of stuck all over the fabric. I couldn’t pick it off. What was it??? Then I realised – they were batik-dyed. It was wax!! So out came a warm iron and some baking paper, it came off no worries at all.

So I snuck over to her house while she was out running the City 2 Surf and put dinner in the slow cooker :-P Then I went home and made a coconut cheesecake with a macadamia-nut crust. 20150809_191021_Richtone(HDR)[1] I used this recipe, although I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to artificial sweeteners so I subbed in golden castor sugar and coconut sugar. That’s toasted coconut flakes on top there – yum!


Yeah, I used a filter.

It was a fantastic cheesecake. I think I overcooked it a smidge, cos it sunk in the middle, and the outside was a bit dark, but the crust did this amazing caramelized thing which I could have eaten all night.  And the whole chicken in the slow cooker – messy, but delicious!


So. There was this challenge. On The Monthly Stitch. The challenge was ‘Check It Out’. No worries, I thought. I’ve got this big old orange plaid skirt I paid $5 for, never worn, been wasting away in the refashion pile.


Also, I thought, ideal time to try out one of the free patterns from SpitUp&Stilettos. (Yeah sorry, I really don’t like that blog name. But that’s what they’re called.) I like a boxy top and I thought I might be able to squeeze the Atalia Top out of this skirt, with a little help from some leftover bits of a terrifyingly 80’s power dress:


Wearing it with flipflops really works, doesn’t it??

I had previously turned the top half of this horror into a cute cropped jacket, but never managed to take any decent pictures. So I was left with most of the skirt to work with, and the colour matched perfectly with the orange plaid.

Meanwhile, back at Lauraville, other challenges were underway: namely, a karate seminar and tournament, for which I travelled interstate. (Oh, woe is me, I had to go to sunny central QLD where it’s practically still tropical. It was snowing in parts of NSW, that same week. I was certainly not complaining about the heat :-)


Anyway, I won that particular challenge and have been selected for the National Team. Go me.

To round out the month I then had a week’s holiday up at the home place.


Now, I took a sewing kit with me. I had a week of absolutely nothing but hanging out in the bush, miles from town, with my Mum & my sister, but do you think I even looked at the sewing? Nope. My mum has pay tv. And that means an endless supply of Stargate, Doctor Who and Antiques Roadshow. No sewing. I was a total couch potato.

Needless to say, I got back from my holiday, got back to work, got back to training, started the plaid shirt but didn’t finish it before the end of the challenge month. Le sigh. I’ll share it with you anyway.

So last Friday I cued up a couple of episodes of Arrow and spread my fabric all over the loungeroom floor.


Not really all that bothered with the grainlines, am I? Not when I’m refashioning, no, I’m not. If it makes you feel better, I lined the yoke. The orange fabric was a bit lighter than the wool-blend plaid so I used some of the skirt lining to stabilise the yoke.I used the sausage roll technique.


Makes it look nice and tidy on the inside, too.

The top was pretty simple. I had some trouble with the placket – the instructions I found a little confusing and the diagrams were not much help. (Searching for tutorials did lead me to some interesting discoveries about the SU&S patterns, though.)

And then I messed up the button placements. I wanted to use five buttons, because mine were smaller than the ones recommended, so I re-measured the spacings and did the buttonholes before putting the rest of the shirt together, following the instructions. But I missed the bit that said ‘now cut off 5/8″ from around the neckline edge’. Whaaaat? Why would you do that? Why isn’t the pattern, the pattern? Why am I cutting bits off my garment at this point? Shouldn’t the pattern JUST HAVE THAT NECKLINE ALREADY????

Okay. I’m okay now. Luckily I hadn’t cut the buttonholes, just stitched them. So I was able to unpick a couple of buttonholes and reposition them, and I only ended up with four buttons. It still looks a bit wonky, and my necklines don’t match at the top either. The pattern instructions (which by this point were getting the stinkeye, bigtime) called for bias binding, but I didn’t have enough material to make bias. I was able to squeeze out a narrow facing though, so I did that.

How cute are my plaid buttons??

How cute are my plaid buttons??

After all of that, though, I quite like the end result!



So what do you think? Is the plaid bad? Or is the plaid rad? (I just had about twelve terrible rhymes run through my mind, but I won’t torture you with them. Bwahahahahaaaa.)

Hi folks!

So it looks like I’m capable of doing one post per month. Clearly I am not destined for the successful blogger’s award (if there is such a thing). Truthfully, I do a fair amount of making, but the normal amount of ‘fail’ and an inability to take a decent photo is besmirching my blogging record.

But enough of that – let’s talk raglans!

IPM 2015 One Pattern Four Takes

No idea why, but I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to make raglan t-shirts. I have a favourite one that recently got a huge rip in the sleeve, which made me sad; but what’s a sewing room for if not to fill holes in wardrobes?

I started out with New Look 6054.

New Look 5054

Looks like a normal raglan tee on the pattern, right? Well, yes and no. The sleeve is cut in two pieces, front and back, so you have a seam down the top of the arm. While I didn’t love the idea of that seam, I realised that it would create a more curved profile for the shoulder, so I gave it a go. Being thrifty, though, I made it up out of some recycled tee’s from my refashion stash.

Raglan 1

I quite like the colour combo actually! And there are little sequins on the top left shoulder there. Cute.

Now, while the seam over the top of the arm is shapely, I don’t think it’s worth the extra cutting & sewing time for a t-shirt! And despite taking a bit of excess fabric out at the head of the shoulder there, it doesn’t fit well. So the extra cutting & sewing is not really worth any advantages in fitting.


So I went trawling around the internet looking for raglan tee patterns. It was a toss-up between Liola’s Zoe Raglan and Hey June’s Lane Raglan. In the end I went for the Zoe, because I really dug the pleated sleeves. For my first muslin, I hit the refashion stash again and used an old martial arts tee I’d picked up at the op shop, plus some black cotton lycra & scraps of animal-print jersey for the neck band.

Raglan 2

To get the bodice pattern on the tee, I had to turn it upside-down, so the kanji & text are upside-down! I don’t really care.

For this muslin I folded out the sleeve pleats on the pattern (just for ease of making a muslin, really) and made the sleeves shorter, and put bands on instead of hemming the sleeves – you can see it looks slightly ‘shiny’ which is the animal print jersey. I made the large, according to my measurements, but It’s a bit longer than I like my t-shirts. However I’ve worn it several times already, and got a few laughs at the dojo for my upside-down text :-)

Muslin number two got the same old-t-shirt treatment. This time I graded to a medium around the armhole and took 3cm out of the length.

Raglan 3

Yes, it’s another martial arts t-shirt.

As you can see the neck band didn’t sit well at all, I think I overstretched it as I was putting it on. Not to worry; this tee was in the refashion pile due to colour-run stains and was always destined to be a pyjama shirt anyway!

Finally it was time to make a real version using proper fabric. I found this nice cottony jersey, with a touch of lycra I think, in a sort of maroon marle at my local cheap fabric store. This time I made a straight medium, but still took the 3cm of length out of the body.

Raglan 4


The pleats worked perfectly!…. Well, they would have, if I hadn’t sewn half of one sleeve inside out and spent the next episode of Doctor Who unpicking triple stitch….

It went together really well. As mentioned I used triple-stitch (lightning-bolt stitch) to do the pleats, but the rest of the seams I did on the overlocker. The neck band (which I topstitched with the double needle) sits nice and flat which I am very pleased with. The hems I serged and then folded under and used my regular machine with a double needle. I can’t seem to get the tension right with the double needle, it always seems to create a little ridge. It’s not too noticeable though, and it could pass for deliberate.


And then, because you can’t have too much of a good thing, I made a ‘sport’ version, because I liked the designer’s example so much.

Raglan 5

I probably could have gone down to a small, to get a more sporty fit, but mostly I like a loose-fit shirt for exercise so I stayed with the medium. The fabric is a polyester lycra, and the contrast some scraps of nylon lycra (also used here!)

Not wanting to spend an hour triple-stitching the pleats again (seriously, on the red shirt it took FOREVER), I hit on the idea of using the twin needle with a contrast thread. I played with the tension some more – it’s still not right but it smoothed out a bit after I pressed it.

I made a bit of a hash of the contrast piping – you can see the back left is substantially wider than the right!! This is what happens when you are too lazy to tack the piping in first, before serging.


I finished the hems by overlocking, then turning and stitching down with a zig-zag; the same for the neckband topstitching. The neckband gave me some issues, as my overlocker didn’t really love the bulk at the seams created by the piping, so stretching the neckband to fit got a bit out of whack. I don’t believe it’s too noticeable though.

So – three wearable muslins and two excellent shirts! Total cost of fabric was $12, and the pattern itself was US$7 – what great value, as I’m definitely going to be using it again. It’s such an easy top to make and turned out to be a great fit. Plus the pattern has plenty of versatility – I’m thinking of versions with only some of the pleats, or short sleeves, and maybe I can figure out how to add a thumbhole/handwarmer to the end of the sleeve.

Did you participate in IPM 2015? Was it a challenge? Did you discover new designers, new blogs, new sewing friends?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 311 other followers