Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend wonder

Chambray shirt completed, pull on a pair of stretch black ponte pants, pop on the sneakers and I'm laughing.  

It has been the loveliest Easter weekend.  With youngest daughter home from university and eldest daughter's boyfriend here for a visit there hasn't been much sewing. But had the chance to finish my shirt and get three quarter of the way through a linen dress for my daughter.

Once again I've used my  go shirt pattern McCalls 6436. I'm not sure where my sewing will take me next.  I'm still refining my muslins, eldest DD has made a half-hearted request for a ball gown for the Law Ball, and I have no weekend tshirts.  Rest assured something will make me smile.

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tribal take two

I just love this dress!  Still a few tweaks to perfect the fit and design.  

I need to resolve an annoying shoulder wrinkle, coming off the armhole. I think I need to lower the arm scythe a fraction.  I also went a little overboard tapering the sleeve for a 'fashion fit'. Could only just raise my champagne glass.  Anita is very keen on elbow darts and now I believe her!

A future version of this dress might use darts rather than panels and increase the angle of the neckline towards the centre front for more drama.

Currently I'm working on my trouser pattern and a chambray shirt.  Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I couldn't wait to show off my latest self-drafted dress from my work with pattern making teacher Anita McAdam.  I bought this amazing but somewhat overwhelming tribal print fabric a few months ago  from Tessuti in Surry Hills.  It was love at first sight, but then came the obvious question "What on earth will I do with it?".  Teaming it with black was an obvious solution.  The result is a flattering, princess seamed frock that is just is little bit out there.  The body of the dress is lined to the edge, with unlined three-quarter length sleeves for trans-seasonal comfort. 
For those of you who are wondering, those tribal eyes sit well above the bust point.  I love the way the print matched along the centre back zip and seam line.  I'll be wearing it to a function in Melbourne on Sunday, so will post wearing photos.
Check out my new sewing space...courtesy of youngest daughter studying interstate.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Splatter top

Despite best intentions I'm guilty of 'random sewing'.  

I have on my sewing table two nearly done muslins - a trouser block and a jacket block; and two dresses in various stages of completion.  I rushed to finish this simple top for my niece's engagement party and am quite happy with it.  The fabric is a polyester pretending to be silk bought an aeon ago at The Fabric Store.  The pattern is Vogue 8833, an easy to make wrap top with a long tie belt that wraps right around the waist. I made the version with the mandarin style collar. I will adjust the pattern if I make another so that I don't need the singlet underneath.  The gape factor was too much for me.  Despite this, I quite like it!  Happy sewing.

Friday, February 28, 2014

You can't win em all!

I've been intrigued by this Islander Sewing System jacket since I saw Sunni's version.

The pattern comes Janet Prey's Sew Better Sew Faster course on   This is a great course for mastering new techniques and for understanding factory sewing philosophy (faster, cheaper not necessarily better in my opinion).

I went straight to fabric because I was using a very cheap linen-like cotton from my charity fabric shop.  As a result I'm not entirely happy with the fit of garment.  I made a medium which based on the measures could have been too small. Sadly its a little too big, even for a relaxed fit.  The shoulders are the real problem which sit about 1 inch below my shoulder line.  I also think there is too much bulk in the back side panels - a flaw I've noticed in other versions, not just my own.  I'll wear it, but don't love it.  The big plus is the pattern booklet includes the best instructions for welt pockets and I'll also reuse the pocket and cuff design and methods.

I'll post a picture of it on after it has been washed - astute readers may notice my chalk lines are still visible! Next up I'm finalising my muslin for a basic jacket and trouser block - products of my lessons with my great teacher and pattern making mentor Anita McAdam. I've got some great ideas for jackets and pants which I hope to bring to fruition in the coming months.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Take two!


Some garments just put a smile on their maker's face.  I love my latest 'twin set', especially the blouse which is made from the softest cotton viscose blend.

When I purchased this paisley border print from the Fabric Store I was planning a kaftan.  However, in Italy I saw so many blouses with contrasting collars, cuffs and button panels that I saw its real potential.

The pattern is one of my go to blouse patterns McCalls 6436.  As well as being a good basic pattern with a few pocket designs, its real value lies in the A/B, C & D cup fitting options, eliminating the need for a full bust adjustment.  French seams throughout and satin Hong Kong bindings on the sleeve head add to the luxurious feel.
The skirt is another of my self-drafted pencil skirts.  I've made it up in a polyester crepe and have fully lined it.  I'm not a fan of cheap crepe for its sheen and its tendency to crease, but as the piece was bought for $3 from a charity store I'll set my fabric snobbery to one side.  My next skirt will not be a pencil skirt, having made up five from the same pattern.  If your not bored, I am!

Off to plan my next few garments while I'm on a roll. Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Monday, February 3, 2014

I'm back

Happy 2014 sewers! I'm finally back to routine after three and half wonderful weeks in Italy and grappling with the intricacies of enrolling my two daughters into their respective university courses while they were overseas.  Life has been extra complicated as one daughter is moving to residential college in Melbourne and the eldest back to Sydney from Melbourne.

If you will allow me a moment of non-sewing parental pride, I was pleased to need to do this organising as both had won places in the top schools in Australia for their respective courses- one for post-graduate Law and the other for undergraduate Architecture.

On fabric shopping in Italy 
I visited stores in Rome - they are located in the area around Largo Argentina and purchased six pieces of fabric in total - two silks, a silk blend, an interesting patterned cotton blend for shirting, some beautiful camel cashmere and a heavy Fair Isle patterned knit in grey and cream.  Let me tell you fabric shopping in Italy is expensive - and I  should publically acknowledge that Collette from Tessuti is not marking up the price of her collection of Italian fabrics. They really do cost that much (retail).  The other observation I make is that the stores are vast and the fabrics not well displayed.  You need time to take the fabrics off the shelves for a closer look.  I was disappointed not to find Ponte at a cheaper price than I can buy here in Sydney. 

Sewing plans for 2014 
At the beginning of 2013, I published an embarrassingly large sewing bucket list.  It was a difficult year - a child in final year of school, Mother passed away, and work  consumed much of my time.  As a result I sewed much less than I planned.  So this year I'm shying away from lists,  focussing instead on shopping my extensive (that's actually a synonym for 'ridiculous') fabric and pattern stash.  Two at time is my new mantra - a skirt and top, a dress and jacket, pants and a top. You get the idea.  I'm also trying to build my pattern making skills and overcome my sewing bogies  - jacket linings and welt pockets.

I'm off to a good start, with two completed sets.  This post covers my self-drafted pencil skirt and matching knit polo shirt Burda January 2009 No 125.  Both fabrics are from Tessutis.  I cut the t-shirt out over two years ago but never sewed it - how did that happen?  The skirt is from a one metre remnant of chino stretch cotton and I love the fabric.  It's been very hot in Sydney so I created a zip guard, but didn't include my usual lining.   I had intended to cut the fabric differently with a centrally placed upward V-shape, but with only one metre to play with and a complicated pattern to match, this wasn't possible. C'est la vie!

I'm not in love with polo shirt.  The pattern is fine, the fit is comfortable, but I'm not thrilled with style when all the buttons are done up. 

Until next time, happy sewing!