Op shopping/thrifting

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!)



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?

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!)


Okay yes so my last post was, er, last year…. I know, I know, I know. I’ve had stuff going on. Stuff like this:


However, that was back in November, so not really much of an excuse!

Anyway, I may not have been posting, but I haven’t been idle. Here’s a refashion I did back in December. I couldn’t decide what to wear to the office Christmas party, so I made two tops and a pair of pants. See? That’s why I haven’t posted. Too busy makin’ stuff!

Not long ago, the clever girls over at Spit Up & Stilettos had a bit of a pattern giveaway, which I totally took advantage of. (Free patterns? I’m there in a flash!!) One of the ones I snatched was the Isabella Tank, a sleeveless top for woven fabric.

After downloading, printing, slicing, matching up and sticky-taping the pattern, I made a couple of adjustments for my curvy hips and waist, then went to town on this delightful little number.

Pink polka dot top

It’s hot pink. It’s polyester. And it has teeny tiny polka dots. It also had awesome shoulder pads and boring plastic buttons, but I got rid of those quick-smart.

It took a little creative engineering, but I managed this:


Not enough shirt fabric for the facing, so I used some white silky lining fabric from my stash.


The front pattern piece came out of the back of the shirt, but the back pattern pieces were slightly too long for the remaining front sections of the shirt. So I thought to myself, if I’m gonna add some length, it’ll look more deliberate if it’s longer. So I gave it a bit of a mullet hi-lo hem.


And a cute little heart-shaped button for the back neck closure.

The pattern fits really well – the adjustments I mentioned earlier were pretty minor. The instructions were clear and the garment was pretty simple to make up. I’m definately looking forward to trying the other patterns from SpitUp&Stilettos. Has anyone else tried any of their patterns?

sewing challenges 2014

I’ve actually managed to complete another of my sewing challenges for 2014! And it’s only, er, halfway through the year….

So I used an old Butterick pattern, number 6572.

Butterick 6572

I say ‘old’ rather than ‘vintage’ because as usual Butterick haven’t put a copyright date anywhere on the pattern, envelope or instruction sheet. This drives me nuts. However, there are ways to roughly date this pattern. For instance, the price there is in dollars, which means it’s post-1966 (when Australia moved to decimal currency).  Also, at some point in the mid to late 80’s, Butterick stopped printing the price on the envelope. So we’re somewhere between 1966 and, say, 1987. My best guess, based on the style and the artwork, would actually be very late 70’s or very early 80’s.

I tried Googling ‘Butterick 6572. Apparently Butterick has used this number more than once! I only wish I had this version. And then there’s this one! That second one is listed as 1970’s, which makes my earlier guess fairly likely.

Anyhoo, the reason I chose to make this one was all because of the Archer. I lurk around many blogs that have featured this sweet indie pattern, like here, here and, well, here. It’s pretty popular, and I do covet it. However, I steeled myself against buying another pattern (no, really, I have so many I need my own catalog) and decided to use one I already had.

I had a piece of vintage fabric too, and when I say vintage I mean I picked it up in an op shop for a couple of bucks. It’s a sort of brushed cotton/flannelette, brown with teeny white polka dots and little orange flowers.


The pattern was completely uncut, which was lovely, so I copied the pieces I needed onto my old pattern standby, kitchen paper. Did some measurement checks, shaped it a little at the waist, pinned, and cut.

And, I used my beautiful 1962 (or possibly 1963) Pinnock “Zig Zag Deluxe” sewing machine for the whole project. It’s so very smooth and sweet to use. It’s a flatbed, rather than a freearm, which makes tubular sewing a little fiddly; and that’s my excuse for the ease in the sleeve heads being a little lumpy.


So it does look a little like pyjamas, but I tried it on with jeans and it looked kinda cute. (I still have not found my camera tripod. I think perhaps aliens have taken it.)


Oh, things I learned while making this shirt: curved hems are painful. I should have basted the d*mn things but noooo, I chose a marathon pinning session instead. This fabric presses really well though, and it looks fine on the outside, so as long as the dressmaking police don’t want to check my construction I’m good to go. (Although, having watched The Great British Sewing Bee, if Patrick Grant wanted to check my work I wouldn’t be arguing with him!)

Cream jacket

Last year sometime I went on a road trip through some country towns. As all op-shop-fanatics know, you can find some crazy bargains in the tiniest of country op shops. When I left home I had a list of op shops and their opening times and a schedule of which order I should attack them in. (I like me a list!)

And so it was at the Red Cross shop in Wangaratta I found this boxy blouse in a heavy cream polyester. It’s main redeeming feature was the draped collar. Also, it was on the sale rack.


I held onto it for a while, but I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do with it. When the weather started to get cooler I decided the time was right to make it into a lightweight draped jacket.

First of all I chopped off some of the length.


Then I made a bunch of pleats in some strategic spots at that new lower edge.


I pinned those pleats, then stay-stitched them. Using the offcut piece of material, I fashioned a band which got sewn onto that bottom edge.

As usual, I forgot to take pictures of the middle of the refashion. Sorry, guys. I chopped the sleeves as well at the three-quarter mark and gave them a nice wide hem.

I still had the original buttons and buttonholes at the front of the shirt which didn’t look all that pretty. I removed the buttons and used the sleeve cuffs, salvaged from the sleeve offcuts, to make little epaulette thingies to cover up the buttonholes.


And that was it! I think I’m getting better at these on-the-fly refashions. I tend to dither a lot, but this time I managed to stay focused.


I have worn this once already and received a few compliments! I’m still working out what it goes with in my wardrobe though 🙂


Because I’m daggy, I want to share this one with you as well. I have this little table-top ironing board, which is the handiest thing EVER in my sewing room.


As you can see, the cover is getting a bit grotty. Sadly this cover is actually stapled to the board so I couldn’t just take it off to wash it. To be honest, it wasn’t that attractive anyway. I decided to make a new cover!

I turned the board upside down on some cute fabric and drew around it.


Leaving a wide allowance, I cut that out, then folded over the edge and sewed to make a casing.


Then I threaded some narrow elastic through that casing.


I fitted the new cover over the board and pulled the elastic tight, then tied it off.


(See that price tag? Three bucks! Thanks, Vinnies!)

After that, because I still had some of that fabric, and also because I am a total nerd, I did the same thing to my little sleeve pressing board.


Cute, isn’t it? It gets cuter.


Wait til you see the two of them together.


Awwwww. What a cute couple.


I must apologise for the scarcity of my blog posts of late. Having moved house only a month or so ago, I am still a) figuring out where stuff goes and b) trying to remember where I put stuff when I was unpacking. Case in point, my camera tripod is apparently on vacation somewhere. This episode of makebakesisters was brought to you by a plastic tub balanced on a chair.


It’s how I roll.

Anyhoo. Moving right along.

I had this skirt in my refashioning pile. It’s Witchery, made of stretch gaberdine, and it cost me a dollar.

Witchery Pencil Skirt Upcycle 1

I liked the zippers and the assymetrical seaming, but I wasn’t convinced about that weird gather thing at the back there. This skirt hit about 4cm below my chubby knees, which is possibly the most unflattering length a skirt could be on me. At the time I just snatched it up (seriously, $1!!) without trying it on. It’s a size 10.

Now, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I have more refashionables than I’m ever really going to get around to. So I’m trying to be hard and send stuff back to the op shop. When I dug this skirt out of my stash, I almost didn’t try it on – I haven’t been a size 10 for a few years! But it fit like a dream at my waist and hips, and then of course I couldn’t bear to part with it.

Now, how to make it wearable! First of all, get rid of some of that length.


You can see my chalk marks where I have drawn in new side seams to create a pencil skirt. I left that gore in at the centre back – it’s stretchy, but I want to be able to walk in it.

Then I made cookies.

Nom nom nom.

Nom nom nom.

These are the easiest cookies in the world – flourless peanut butter. I added choc chips ‘cos I’m crazy like that.

Now, back to that pencil skirt. I sewed the new side seams and stitched up the hem…. and that was it. Done!

So here’s some slightly dodgy photos of the finished product.


Not only have I no tripod, but I don’t have much light either.


Hey, you see that classy drapey jacket? Yeah, that one right there. I’ll be bringing that to you next week. Stay tuned.

Now, here’s some pics of the skirt where you can see the detail:

Witchery Pencil Skirt Upcycle 2

That’s better.

Oh, you want the cookie recipe? Okay then!

  • 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy – I used a combo!
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Combine first three  ingredients in a medium bowl, then stir in choc chips if using. Roll big teaspoonfuls into balls, place on a baking sheet, and press lightly with a fork. Bake in a moderate over 12-15 minutes or until just golden. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. And just try to keep your hands off them then…..

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