Sunday, May 24, 2015

Finished - Brumby Skirt (Megan Nielsen patterns)

Top: Mission maxi tank, Necklace: Elk, Shoes: opshop

So apparently I've been on a mission to make all the pink things.  Although I did actually finish this skirt as a pattern tester for Megan way back in January.  I signed up (along with most of Melbourne it seems!)  with the intention of making it in denim but somewhere along the way decided that a midi in this vibrant viscose would be the way to go.

As a tester I did receive the pattern for free, as well as one of Megan's Maker Tees as a thank you - such a nice touch :).  The pattern envelope has been redesigned and all the finished measurements are printed on the back which is great - takes the guesswork out of how much ease is going on.


  • Pattern: Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt
  • Size: my measurements fell between the XS and the S, and talking to other testers and finding out that the test version ran a little large, I cut the XS and did a smaller (1cm) seam allowance. This sizing may have been adjusted slightly in the final version though. For reference my waist is 27 inches.
  • Version: 2, midi length with pockets. There is also a shorter version with less gathering for thicker fabrics (like denim) and a knee length version with no pockets.
  • Fabric: Viscose from Darn Cheap fabrics from the $2m table

Changes made

  • As I was testing I didn't make any changes apart from the sewing the waistband with a slightly smaller SA  and  due to the slippery nature of my fabric I elected to use an invisible zip instead of an exposed zip.
  • I also chose to  hand-stitch the waistband facing down rather than top stitching.

Things learned

  • This was a nice easy sew, especially as I decided not to do the exposed zip due to the light fabric.  I did recently use the instructions for the exposed zip in a top and they worked perfectly.  I've tried (and failed) to get this type of zip insertion before so it was great to have some clear instructions. I'll definitely be using them again!
  • Because my fabric was quite thin I gathered using the basting method but it was good to have details of an alternative method (using string)  if using thicker fabric.  Dental floss would have worked too.
  • The waistband 'walked' bit when I put in the zip - my fault for forgetting to stabilise this area (which the instructions do tell you to do!). 
  • The waistband is a little bit wrinkly- the soft fabric doesn't have quite enough structure-  so I probably should have used slightly stiffer interfacing.
  • The pockets on the test version were a little shallow but I think this may have been rectified in the final version.  In this softer fabric they hang out a little which I actually rather like the look of.


I thought that this skirt might feel a bit 90's but it got a lot of wear over the summer with a white tank and I've also worn it a few times with boots and a long sleeved top.  Got to love a trans-seasonal garment! The wide, curved waistband is really comfy and with the lighter fabric if feels like there is just about the right amount of gathering - floaty and full without being pouffy.

The pattern is now available in print and PDF format.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tessuti Sydney jacket: so good it made me start blogging again

Temperatures dropped suddenly and rather unseasonably in Melbourne last week and I've wanted to sew All The Warm Wool Things which has meant pulling the wool out of my stash. Between the op shop, generous friends sharing their relatives' stashes and the odd random fabric purchase  I realised that I actually have quite a few pieces of boiled wool.  I previously thought that boiled wool equalled traditional coats and I don't actually wear coats all that often.  When I'm going from A to B I tend to ride my bike and therefore wear a waterproof Gortex jacket (and unlike  Jenny I'm not up to making my own !). So, I was a bit stumped as to what to make.

Shoulder dart 
But then Tessuti released their Sydney jacket pattern and now all that boiled wool has a perfect purpose! I downloaded and printed the pattern on Wednesday, taped it and cut out the fabric on Wednesday night and sewed it up in a few bursts on Thursday night and Friday morning, so a pretty quick project.  The colour is really hard to capture - it's less pink than in these pictures, but still a lovely rich raspberry colour - so nice for dreary winter days!

Pocket - yes, my stitching could probably be neater :)

  • Size: My measurements were just slightly bigger than the petite sizing so I made that, but cut the XS length  (my fabric had some stretch in it) 
  • Fabric: Mystery boiled/felted raspberry coloured wool from super cheap fabrics in Brunswick. It has some stretch in it but is definitely mostly wool and it was only $10p/m. I cut a piece and pulled at the edges and it didn't fray so I hoped it would work! Time will tell I guess...
  • My fabric was 1.50m wide and I did use around 1.85m - although I probably could have been more careful with my cutting. 
  • There are no seam finishes so I sewed the whole thing up on my Bernina.  Some of the seams were a bit bulky but it was no problem. 
Marking and overlapping the seams

Things learnt
  • The instructions were really clear and I didn't have any real issues with any of the steps.
  • Accurate cutting is important as there are no seam finishes - I used my rotary cutter - although you can trim the seams after sewing if they are a bit wonky.
  • I've never sewn overlapping seams before and although it's not difficult - accurate sewing is important to ensure that the seams look neat and even on both sides.   I marked the 3/8" seam line on both pieces and then overlapped and sewed int he middle, moving my needle position to the correct place and  using my presser foot edge as a guide. 
  • Sewing wrong sides together for most of the construction is counter-intuitive so remember to mark the right and wrong sides of your fabric. 
  • The shoulder dart has to be cut out and overlapped. This was a bit tricky to catch both pieces of fabric at the tip of the dart.
Changes for next time
Even though the fit is good - it's supposed to be an oversized garment- I think I need slightly more room in the arms - it feels a little tight when I move my arm up, and the sleeves pull up a little so I think I might size up, and definitely add some length in the arm too.

I absolutely love it!  There was some discussion on Instagram that winter coats with short sleeves are a bit pointless but I see this more as a layering, cardigan-type piece  rather than a coat.  Mind you, I bumped into my neighbours this morning - she was wearing some crochet hand warmers and I was wearing this and her husband was quite puzzled by our joint desire to make 'incomplete garments' :)

Will there be more?  Well with a few more pieces of boiled wool in the stash I think so!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Items I've forgotten to blog #1: Ruby dress

I made this before my silk Ruby top and then forgot to blog about it.

Nic, who took these pics said that I had to have a 'prop', hence the wine.  Not that I took much persuading...

Anyway,  I thought I'd better get in quick before  the warm weather is completely over in Melbourne and looking at pictures of bare legs is just plain wrong.  Although having said that, at Easter we are off for a couple of weeks on a trip up the East coast and driving from Sydney to Brisbane so maybe there's still a chance to wear it.

Side view, not the most flattering but good for eating big dinners

Wrinkly (my elbows and the neckline!)
There's not an awful lot more to add about the dress version except to note that I had a lot of trouble with the neck binding in this fabric (a lovely but very mobile viscose remnant from the Fabric warehouse in NZ).  I used the method suggested by Lara, of turning and top-stitching rather than stitching in the ditch but despite several attempts I got a lot of wrinkling at the neck.  I'm calling it a design feature.   Any ideas how to stop this happening in the future?

This pattern definitely needs fabric with good drape and viscose feels lovely to wear so even though this dress is a bit of a bewb tent, and not my best sewing it was a godsend in the hot weather.

I used a small piece of hat elastic for the thread loop and an opshop button and finished the arm bindings by hand. And no, I'm not sure why I have hat elastic in my stash either.

Pattern: Ruby Dress, Tessuti PDF download (made before), size 8 with an FBA as for my Ruby Top.
Fabric: 1m of viscose from the Fabric Warehouse in Wellington, NZ (NZ$5)
Necklace: Elk
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Large scale floral silk Ruby top

Top: Ruby (Tessuti pattern)
Shorts: Grainline Maritime
Shoes: Funkis
Bangle: opshop

I've been holding onto this precious remnant of Clegs digitally printed silk chiffon for just over a year. There was just enough for a tank top and when I saw the Tessuti Ruby pattern I thought it would be a good match for the large scale floral print.   I probably should have had a go at drafting my own pattern as it's  a very simple shape but well, I wanted to make it NOW and this was the easier option!

The top itself is an easy sew. I had actually made the dress version first (post to come) so had worked out the instructions but this silk was like butterfly wings so working with it was a bit tricky. I ended up doing a lot of hand sewing, including the rolled hem. No biggie- it seemed fitting for such special fabric.

  • Pattern: Ruby top/dress, Tessuti patterns, download ($10)
  • Size: 8 with an FBA (more info below)
  • Fabric: 80cm remnant of digitally printed silk from Clegs ($20 ish?), underlined with what I suspect is pale green silk cotton from the opshop ($3).

Innards - bit creased from wear


  • Did a 5/8 inch FBA using this tutorial (thanks to BloglessAnna for the link) 
  • Underlined the silk with silk cotton.  I tacked the underlining to the silk around the edges and then sewed the two layers as one.
  • Turned and hand stitched the bindings and the facing to the underlining rather than stitching in the ditch. 
  • Hemmed the underlining separately and slightly shorter than the silk using the machine.
  • Did a hand-rolled hem on the silk using this tutorial. 
What I learned
  • This was my first time working with silk this fine so I cut everything in a single layer, using a rotary cutter and lots of weights. 
  • Hand rolling a hem is a thing!  (and quite relaxing). I used my tailors ham to pin sections of the hem as I worked which made it easier. 
  • Followed the tutorial on the Tessuti website to make the thread loop.
I really like how it turned out and it feels lovely and floaty to wear.  The only downside,  as has been noted by a few other bloggers, is that this top is not bra friendly (I'm wearing a strapless one in the pics).

See also: Blogless Anna , Thornberry and Boo Dogg and me

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tomato bottling day

We interrupt this sewing feed to bring you some preserving goodness.   If you follow my Instagram feed then you'll know that there have been tomatoes a-plenty in the garden this year.  The plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves now but they have pumped out a good few kilos which we couldn't possibly eat before they went bad.  Freezing sauce would have been an option, but after the great fridge experiment of 2013 we decided to buy a much smaller, and much more energy efficient fridge/freezer which doesn't have enough space to store large quantities (We are a small family and having a smaller fridge works fine for us. I realise it would be more challenging with a bigger family or if you do a lot of cooking meals ahead of time).

So,  the alternative for us was  to use a Fowlers preserving unit to bottle the tomatoes.  We picked ours up at the local Trash and Treasure market. I know that some people are nervous of bottling tomatoes because they are lower in acid than most fruit which creates a slight risk for some bacteria growing in the jars.  However, we have never had an issues and as an extra insurance policy we put a few tsp of vinegar in each jar before adding the tomatoes; it's not enough to change the taste but it raises the acidity.

Bottling can be fun!  We set up a family production line:  MMSTL was on chopping duty,  LittleFB stuffed the jars and I did all the cleaning up :) After all the jars were filled - we did nine this time - they went into the Fowlers as per the timings and temperature settings outlined by Tanya.   The jars were then left to cool in the water and each jar checked for a proper seal before putting away in a cool dark place.

In a world where everything has to be quick and  convenient, it's nice to do something from scratch. We grew these organic tomato plants from seed, nurtured them, harvested the fruit and spent time to preserve its goodness.  When we open one of these in the depths of winter, it's will be like opening a jar of summer.

This quote from A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise sums it up for me:

" So while preserving is beneficial from an economics and nutritional point of view, to capture the seasons in a bottle is about more than the simple preservation of food. It's about capturing a memory, the mood of a moment in time. It's about the thrill of the find - of the fruit and its flavour, the company of friends and the sharing of the produce and the end products." 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stripy Nettie dress

Shoes: Funkis
Hat: Op-shop
Necklace: Elk

Here's a new summer dress,  it's a Nettie dress with a few modifications.   I wanted this to be more of a day dress rather than a slinky going out number, so I cut a few sizes bigger, lengthened the skirt and raised the neckline a bit. Turns out that this fabric  from Clear It in Melbourne, which comes in a number of colourways, has been very popular and has either already been made into some fabulous creations or is residing in  the stash of many Melbourne bloggers so expect to see it pop up again!  

  • Pattern: Nettie by Closet Case files
  • Size: 8. Going by the pattern, my measurements put me as a size 4, but this pattern is drafted with negative ease and I wanted a slightly looser fit.  I think I used about 1m of 160cm wide fabric. 
  • Fabric:  Double -sided knit from Clear It, $5 pm. Soft, stable fabric, easy to sew and lovely to wear.  I used the 'wrong' side of the fabric for the sleeves and neckband for a bit of interest (and also because that meant less stripe matching!). 

  • Added 2cm to both the front and back neckline and rounded off the curve a little bit with my french curve so that it was less square. 
  • Added 6cm to the length of the skirt by slashing the skirt pattern piece and adding in the extra. 
  • Used a 1/4 inch seam allowance instead of 3/8 inch.
  • Cut the neckband  slightly wider. 
  • I contemplated adding a contrast pocket in  leather but decided that the dress would be easier to accessorise without. 
Stripe matching and cat photobomber
What I learnt from this project
  • I've already made the Nettie bodysuit so it was a pretty easy project. The hardest part was cutting out and matching the stripes. 
  • On stripe matching,  I think I did a pretty good job - it's not perfect but good enough.   I pinned every other stripe, based using my walking foot on my sewing machine and then used the overlocker to sew the seams.  The hem and sleeves were finished with a twin needle. 
  • I still need to add some bra strap holders like I did in my last Nettie. Even though the neckline is higher, it still slips off my shoulders, perhaps I need to bring the neckline in a bit if I make this again. 

I think this will be a great summer staple.  Even though it is form-fitting it still feels comfy and casual enough to wear during the day,  and the neckline makes it a little bit different from a regular T shirt dress. Thanks to Alison for taking the pictures :)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Alder...doo doo doo, push pineapples, grind coffee

Sorry, that blog title was corny but I grew up listening to bad 80's music and this song by Black lace was in my head a lot when I was making  this dress.   I blame someone on Instagram.

So, as you probably already know pineapples are everywhere. They even have their own hashtags: #pineapplesaresohotrightnow and  #pineapplesaretotallyathing !

Clearly this pineapple dress is fun to  wear.

Buttoned up all the way.  I'm not hipster enough to wear it like this but anyway...
Why? who knows,  but that was one bandwagon that I was more than happy to jump on when I saw this chambray in darn cheap. I thought a simple, modern shape would suit the fairly ridiculous fabric so went with the Alder after enjoying making my first version so much. Sometimes you have got to have a little fun with sewing, right?

Double pineapples, oooh yeah. 

I'm pretty happy with the collar :) 
  • Pattern: Grainline Alder, size 4 with fitting mods (see below) 
  • Fabric: I squeezed this out of 1.5m of 140cm wide chambray from Darn Cheap ($15 pm) 
  • Topstitching was done in a regular mustard yellow Gutterman thread.  
  • I used a fairly lightweight woven interfacing (also from Darn Cheap ) for the collar and button band.
  • Buttons were a slightly mismatched selection from the op-shop which actually look almost the same when stitched on.

Changes to the pattern/method
  • 1 inch full bust adjustment using Jen's tutorial.  This did work, although I ended up with some extra width in the waist and a little bit of extra length which forgot to add onto the button band so I had to do some creative hem trimming. 
  • Finished the hem with navy bias tape to retain as much length as possible.  I used self-fabric bias for the armholes as per Jen's instructions and they came out really nicely.  It's really worth those extra steps of trimming and understitching. 
  • My buttonhole attachment threw a tanty and kept chewing up the button holes so I lightly  ironed on a little scrap of fusible interfacing before making each one and then tore it off afterwards which seemed to do the trick. 
  • I used glue stick to anchor the  bottom of the collar seam allowance down when top-stitching and it worked well. 
  • All buttons were sewn on by machine.  Why oh why have I not done this before?!!
Changes for next time
  • I should have added some length. It's just about OK when worn loose but it's shorty-short short when belted.  
  • Add the extra length to the button band after doing the FBA!

Pineapples, chambray what's not to like?  Seriously though this is another great summer dress, although perhaps I prefer the shape of the bum-ruffle version a little more?  This is a little shapeless, although could be worn belted and perhaps even wearable with tights and boots in the autumn/ winter.  It would certainly  cheer up a dull winter day!

I'll leave you with this.

Happy New Year!!  Pineapple flash mob anyone?