My apologies, dear friends, I have been remiss in updating the blog. Here’s the yeild of some recent adventures in the sewing room.

Tee One:


Using the Zoe Raglan from Liola Patterns (which has become one of my favourite patterns EVER!) I created this contrast tee. The Zoe pattern has a groovy multi-pleated long sleeve, so I redrafted the sleeve pattern to get a plain short sleeve.


The main body of the tee is a viscose jersey (or rayon jersey, however you want to call it) that I picked up in a remnant bin for about $6. I love rayon, in a woven or a jersey. It just feels soooo nice. The sleeve pieces are cotton sateen, left over from another project (that one was a total fail, unfortunately, which was a shame because I really dug that print). Because the cotton sateen had less stretch than the jersey, I added a little more ease – about a dress size’s worth – into the sleeve. Sometimes winging it works, because I love this tee!


The neckline I bound with a bias strip of the sateen – I know, as a stretch fabric I could have used it on the straight grain but intuition told me bias would be better – and I was right, it sits nice and flat. I think the contrast neckline really adds some drama! I also gave it a slightly dropped hem at the back – not obvious in this picture.

Tee Two:


Another remnant, this is a fairly rigid cotton interlock – half price remnants rule! I managed to squeeze out blouse #122 from Burdastyle June 2011. You can see their version here. The pattern is designed for cotton sateen, but as this interlock wasn’t too stretchy I thought it would work okay (having just played with some sateen recently!) I wanted to make the top a bit longer than the pattern but didn’t have quite enough fabric.


I think the boat neckline is rather sweet, but I haven’t worn this top yet so not sure how it will go. It’s still a bit warm here for anything with long sleeves!

And finally, Tee Three:

ombre top refashion

This was a last-minute refashion (because I love a deadline – NOT) brought on by The Monthly Stitch’s Challenge for January – “Cheers for New Years”, a beverage-inspired theme.

I originally bought this tunic ($3, I think, it’s been in the refashion pile for some time) because it reminded me vaguely of the Macchu Picchu cocktail I’d seen years ago, holidaying in Peru. I realised later the colours were all wrong, but I still really liked the ombre effect of the fabric.


Last week when I finally caught up on some blog reading, I saw the January Challenge and immeadiately thought of this tunic. A quick search of the interwebs led me to believe the colours were in fact more along the lines of a Black Velvet – but I was still in the realm of layered cocktails! (Not that I’m a big drinker, mind, but they are pretty!)

Back I went to my trusty retro Butterick 6572, which has been a bit of a workhorse pattern for me. For this version I skipped the front placket and drafted a facing instead.

DSCF9381There was a slight shortage of fabric across the bust – the tunic was a small size – but a little gusset under the arms and a cap at the top of each sleeve took care of that. I used the original hemline, to save both time (no unpicking, no hemming!) and fabric. I took the time to understitch the neck facing – a process I highly recommend as it achieves such a great result. This fabric was a slippery polyester which did give me some greif. (And unpicking all the beading on the original sleeves was a bit of a nightmare, too!)


Seems like a while since I did a ‘refashion’ that didn’t involve using a paper pattern and recycled materials. This is one that stalled a while back for want of orange thread for my overlocker. Today I decided that my regular machine could handle it just fine.


It all began with this knit top and chiffon shirt. I liked the double button effect on the shirt….. but not enough to wear it as is.

Orange top collage

So what I did was slice the sides off of the knit top. Then out of the shirt I cut two pairs of dolman-shaped sleeve-side pieces. I french-seamed them together at the shoulders. Because the chiffon shirt wasn’t long enough, I needed to add some length at the bottom of the side panels. Originally I was going to use the sleeves of the chiffon top to get this length, but in between starting this refashion, stalling it, and starting it again, I lost some of the fabric and didn’t have enough. Instead I used the knit top sleeves, cleverly using the sleeve hems at the bottom on the garment.


Once the side/sleeve pieces were altogether, I sewed them onto the sides of the knit top using a shallow zigzag stitch. I then used my serger (with plain old white thread) to finish those two long seams.


There’s plenty of tutorials on the internet concerning how to hem very light fabrics like chiffon. Basically they seem to come down to this: fold under once and stitch (using a small stitch length). Trim raw edge close to stitching line. Fold under again and stitch. Press. Done. Actually it was pretty easy.

And that was it! Done!


My hems are out by like 2mm there at the back. Please ignore. (Also please ignore my weekend hairstyle. On lazy Sundays in the sewing room, I really could care less about the hairdo!)


Knickers were the name of the game today!



I used the free pattern from So Zo What Do You Know? and some various bits of jersey leftover from a few projects (you might remember this, this and this).



The blue picot-edge knicker elastic and the red stretch lace are both op shop scores; the maroon picot elastic I bought ages ago from Lincraft. It matched the maroon jersey perfectly!

I made the shiny purple ones first to test the pattern out. They fit so well I immediately production-lined another three pairs. To be honest I’d been meaning to make some undies for ages, but it kept slipping down the priority list.



Made any underthings lately, or found a good underwear pattern? I’d love to hear about it!

Whew! Another busy month passes by, and I missed the Monthly Stitch deadline by only one day.

October’s challenge was ‘The Final Frontier’. I immediately thought of this sweet Star Wars print voile that I picked up a recent sale:


But I just couldn’t decide what to make out of it.

But then I remembered a cute poplin I had in my stash with an unbrella/cloud print. And I needed new summer pyjamas. Voila!


The top is actually a nod to a previous challenge, Vintage Patterns, which I failed. Vogue 9215 has been on my to-do list for quite some time.

Vogue 9215

Now, Vogue 9215 is a Size 8. I am not a size 8. So I decided to put my newfound pattern-grading skills to the test again, and graded the little jacket up to a 14.

You guys!!! It worked!!!! This little baby fits perfectly. I used some scraps of blue satin from my stash for the neck band and cuff facings, to make it look pyjama-ey, and I think it looks adorable. The buttons, also from my stash, cost me 60c from an op shop somewhere in Melbourne.


For the shorts I used good old Simplicity 2721. They are pretty baggy but I’m going for sleep comfort here!! To keep the theme I used a bit more of the blue satin to bind the leg hems.


Sewing the square corner of the neck band seam was a little tricky, but luckily I had only recently completed very similar navigations on StyleArc’s Tamara Top. I was lazy and didn’t baste the seam this time (I should have!!) but it turned out okay.

The cuff facings were terribly flappy and I did have to tack them down all the way around. There’s a couple of episodes of Stargate Atlantis right there! Hand-sewing is a such great time to catch up on your sci-fi viewing.

The cuffs were also supposed to have little buttons on each side but a) I only had six of the little blue ones and b) I thought as PJ’s it might not be comfy to have buttons sticking into my shoulders all night.

Hope you all had a happy Hallowe’en, whatever country you’re in! I guess because it’s the day after, I should really be saying happy All Saints’ Day, right? ;-)

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!)



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