Summer sewing plans


I always have so many ideas floating round in my head; few seem to be realised.  I think this contributes to stashing as I get another idea which jumps to the front of the queue.

So I thought I’d make my plans more concrete to aid direction and minimise diversion.  Hopefully this will maintain direction and help me stash less.

1. Swimwear.

As you all know, I live under a hole in the ozone layer. Even though it is smaller than it has been since 1988, I’m going to use this as the reason I need swimwear with appropriate body coverage.  Any other discussing may get controversial, and having a young daughther I am of body-hating vernacular. Additionally  swimwear for me is a functional item of clothing, a string bikini isn’t gonna hold up to Perths dumping waves. (Really though, just wear what makes you comfortable, and I am comfortable well covered)

So I’m thinking hotpants, sportsbra and cycling vest all in swimwear lycra.

I’d love two complete sets.

I also recently bought this Jalie from seamstress fabrics which will be for less active occasions.


2. Work pants.

I desperately need some work pants. But I need to get over my lack of enthusiams for fitting.

The candidates are:

1. Closet Case Patterns Sasha trousers. 2. vogue something or other…. 3. Papercut Patterns Nyago, 4. Style Arc Willow pants.  ( can you tell how keen I am?)


3. Pyjamas.

Is anything less fun to sew? I am in desperate need though.  I have a heap of liberty lawn loitering, and I am trying to instigae a zero tolerance policy.

These are the contenders.

2 shorts, 2 longs and some white Grainline Larks, if I don’t have enough to make a Ogden.

4. A pretty dress.

I have some lovely linen from the stitch 56 closing sale and some ladder lace. I’m thnking a Tessuti Ruby with the lace insert in some sort of symmetrical pattern.

I have some other designer linen, and some designer silk. I’m thinking DKNY vouge (which I think now is OOP) and Tessuti patterns Lois.


And thats it, I dont have anything else stashed.  If one of these can be sewn, Ill be delighted.

5. Susan Khalje.

I have to muslin a jacket before March.  Im making  marfy 3022 in Mednel Goldberg boucle. ( the current plan)



6. Selfless sewing

I owe my husband a button up shirt from last Christmas.  But he doesn’t remember, so I might wipe that slate clean.

I owe a good friend a pair of Alexandria peg trousers for her June birthday.  so really I should do this.

I’d love to see Princess Muddypuddles a dress for Christmas, but she’ll just get it muddy.  So that’s last on the list.

Ramble over.




Selfless summer sewing

1) When I was a kid we lived directly under a hole in the ozone layer.  This was the reason we had to wear sunburn cream.  Also because we only have 3 layers of skin and I had been burnt and peeled twice.  The point is: universally kids hate sunburn cream.

2) The troll can’t get RTW rashies over his huge noggin.

So come autumn I whip up a few pairs of leggings and rashies.

I bought some spoonflower active wear fabric in one of their sales last year. The fabric isn’t cheap and postage crippling.  I’ve only ever used fabric from textile traders (is thin and fades) thefabricfairy(thin) and tessuti (thin). This stuff was thick and quality so I’m looking forward to see how it copes with the Australian sun and chlorine.  I need about 1.5 metres for a set.

My go to pattern is the peekaboo patterns hangten rash vest.

The Troll (age 6) got a size 7. Largely ‘cos I hoped it would fit them both and I wouldn’t have to cut and paste two pdf patterns. I added a zip to allow for excess noggin. Short open end zips are hard to come by. The centre front is 43cm.


On his second one I tried to cut a long zip short.  This was a minor disaster.  Sewing machines and overlockers don’t cope with the massive plastic teeth of this sort of zip. It looks messy but is surviving.  If a zip the right size happens into my lap, I remain unlikely to unpick this and replace.


Princess Muddypuddles (age 8) tried on The Troll’s and thought the rashie was a bit tight.  So I just added 2cm to the center front and back.20171029_171514

I’ve previously used the peekaboo pattern leggings. I’ve never been happy with the fit around the crotch so when Meg released the MN mini virginias a few years ago I switched.  they work well for him and her.  They both got size 8/9. Australian patterns seem smaller. I used quite thick elastic, ‘cos I had some, but this meant I should have added a waist band, the rise is a little short as is.

I also made a pair for her cousin because they love playing twins and they are are the same size so it’s easy to whip up another pair.

Unfortunately they still need sunburn cream on their faces so not all problems are solved.


Ramble over.


Dior and me

I’ve been hanging out a bit in Melbourne lately. Last weekend, I met up with some sewing friends, including @talliswoman and hit the House of Dior exhibit at the NGV.

Apart from just beholding pure beauty, I took a lot from this exhibition

1. Dior sewists know their bound button holes, and hand rolled hems


2. Muslins can be beautiful


3. Dior was awesome at sculptural structure

4. A tuck here, or a pleat there can make lovely details



5. More details.

Look at the detail on the skirt back
The beading gets bigger in proportion to the dress widening, and is a mirror image on each side of the centre


The texture on the dress below is created by thousands of tiny silk flowers sewn onto the fabric.

7. Dior didn’t do shoes.  Which explains why they had white court shoes on, when I KNOW no one wearing Dior, EVEN if they were an eighties bridesmaid would have stooped to that!


He got someone else to do them, but they did display some pretty rad examples in a case at the end of the show.

8. I don’t know if Dior did hats, so I’m not sure why the occasional model had cellophane wrapped their head. Was that how they looked on the catwalk? maybe, because those with cellophane masks also generally had awesome shoes on.


9. Drape is as important as structure.


10. Sometimes Dior wasn’t perfect


That bottom left dot does my head in.

We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves

I was a little disappointed the models didn’t fit the dresses properly. I’m sure they would have fit the real person, that is the point of couture.

But bar far the biggest disappointment was not being able to touch and examine the clothes. Never gonna happen….

I had a ball, and am feeling inspired.

On the plane on the way home, I watched Dior and I, more serendipity, but that movie’s old news.

Ramble over.

Natural Dyeing

Work this week required me to be in Sydney on Friday, then Melbourne Monday Tuesday, so decided to that rather than spend 10 hours of my weekend on a plane, I’d hang around in Melbourne. I saw a rather cheeky musical, and managed to snare a spot in the Handmakers Factory Natural Dyeing workshop. I was hoping to do their Indigo shibouri workshop on the Saturday as well, but it was sold out, so I took a rather amusing day trip to the legendary Jimmy Buttons in Fitzroy ( and maybe The Fabric Store) ( and maybe Tessuti aswell).

Nichola, who runs the class is well known to me, as I have been stalking her on the internet for years. I was so pleased at the serendipity that allowed me to get to her class.


The rather unexpected road closures due to the Melbourne marathon meant I was a little late, I then spent the rest of the day getting to know the other 5 students, and what they would use their new skills for. One lady was an artist, who worked in a Reggio Emilio school, my kids went to a Reggio Emilio school in their early years, and I could see exactly how the children would engage in this process over a year! From sewing the seeds themselves, and nurturing a plant, to picking the flowers, making the dye, and painting a picture of the growing flower, describing the process as they go, and documenting under their finished painting.  This made my heart ache, as I remembered my children’s beautiful years in that environment.  Last weekend my children and I planted sunflowers in the garden in anticipation of me doing this class, as I thought we could use the flowers to dye some stuff. So it seems I learned some stuff from my children’s kindy teachers!

One young Uni student wanted to create beautiful scarves and pieces of wearable art. Another young Doctor sought second hand clothes from Op shops, and then upcycled them. Another two were artists who wanted to use the skills to dye paper to use in printmaking.

Me, well I just like playing and learning. I can see myself overdying some fabrics in my stash that I don’t love, and buying white/natural silk and linen in bulk from now on, and dyeing as I want to make something.

Nichola started by explaining a bit about the principles of natural dyeing. Natural fabrics work best with this sort of dyeing. Cellulose fibres, such as cotton, linen don’t pick up the colour that well, so they are dipped in protein, protein fibres such as wool and silk are dipped in alum sulphate and cream of tartare to assist with their dye uptake.


Nichola collects natural products all year and then finds that either freezing or drying them, before using accentuates the colours. we made dyes using avocado pits and skins, sourgrass, eucalyptus, purple cabbage, red onion skins, carrot tops and tumeric.


Moving fabric from the mordant ( soy in white bucket, alum in blue bucket) to the dye buckets


Ee then dipped each piece of material into a modifier to see what would happen to the dye. We used Copper, iron, Citric acid and soda ash. It’s like magic, how the colour modifies.  To set the colour, the material should then be soaked in salt and vinegar. We then overdyed each piece with indigo.

The possibilities are endless, as you could dye, then overdye and modify etc….


I spend 5 hours with Nichola, took home 210 fabric samples, learned heaps, and took a little inspiration from each student. Lovely way to spend a day.

Ramble over.






Closet Kalle

When  Closet Case Patterns released the Kalle dress pattern, it was mid winter in Perth; but it was love at first sight. I love wearing linen sacks in our horrendous summers, so I pre-ordered it from Nat at Sew for life, but it sat whilst I frolicked, sewing machine-less on Rottnest Island.

Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirt Dress

So after months of hand sewing, and slow sewing, on my gorgeous island, I returned home to my sewing machine and  pulled out Kalle.

I used some stash spotlight linen that I didn’t love for the first draft. Not much to say, I cut a size 8, which I thought were my measurements. I never read instructions, so put the placket on back to front, but it was an easy fix. The instructions are actually very clear. I made the dress version, but cut the front hem using the back piece so the hem isn’t high-low. The dress came together easily, and I rejoiced at the marvel of a 3 hour sew.

The dress is beautifully drafted and easy sew, but roomy; I decided to gift it to my mother, and size down in some fab linen gifted to me by my siblings for my birthday.

Then I posted the image on IG……

At which stage, I noticed my error.

Shhh, Don’t tell my Mum she loves it!

On to the gifted fabric. I bought this gorgeous green linen from Tessuti with a birthday gift voucher from my siblings with Kalle in mind. I used floral bias binding on the hem because the pieces of leftover linen were too small to make any reasonable lengths of bias binding. I added pockets, and I didn’t even need a reason.

Obviously I paid careful attention to print placement on this version.


I love it. Bring on summer.

Ramble Over.

Chanel for now

The Chanel jacket is of course famous and timelessIMG_4621


Apparently the term “Chanel jacket” is copyrighted, and we should refer to anything I am ever likely to own as neither a chanel jacket, nor a Chanel for now jacket, but a little French jacket (LFJ) instead.


I have heaps of short, collarless jacket patterns in my stash, patterns in this style, but have never sewn any. However after attending Susan Khaljes cotoure class, and setting my goals for this year (#slowsewing)! I decided I’d go the whole hog, buy Susan’s online course and actually make a little french jacket.

The LFJ is in theory supposed to be more like a cardigan ( known as a cardi in Australia) and involves over 100 hours of labour to create. There is mich more information  on the blogs of Melanie, Inna and Leisa .

Because I’ve never seen one of the stash patterns, I wasn’t sure how or if I’d wear it,  so decided to start with utilitarian black, as its much less likely to be conspicuous in my wardrobe. I bought some boucle at stitches to style, whilst in th he company of enablers in Feb 2017. I went with a beautiful cornflower blue silk to line, which picks up some subtle blueish threads in the boucle. Susan thought it was a little thin, and needed some batiste underlay.

I made two muslins in May. Using Susans jacket pattern,the main issue I had was to take some length out of the back at the waist. The second muslin was just right.


The pattern has lovely 3 piece sleeves, and was drafted by Susan and a French pattern maker. Remember ther are no seam allowances, but it is true to meausurements.

Fast foward to late July, and I started the tedious, (but in reality) really fun process of tracing the underlay allowed me to trace onto the batiste, thread tracing, then quilting the lining to the boucle. Normally, you would cut around the muslin pieces and thread trace the seam lines directly to the boucle, but as my boucle was a little see-through, Susan’s rule is that it needs some underlining for stability. This allows me to skip the step of adding silk organza through the front shoulder regions for stability. The quilting needs to occur ON GRAIN, leaving once inch from the seam lines, except at the bottom, where you leave two inches.



Once all that work is done, you try it on again, and have to decide whether it fits. There are 8 longitudinal seams with their enormous seam allowances, in boucle, underlinig and silk, AND the shoulder seams. So I pined it on along the shoulders, and the cente front, trying to ignore the seam bulk, and examined myself in the mirror, (sans fliptop head) to examine the fit from all angles. At this stage, you need to imagine if it fits ( despite being essentially a “wooly mamoth” (to quote Susan)) or if you need to unpick seams, rebaste and resew. You can imaging the temptation…

Susan says that most often she finds the girls are being a bit restricted, which is “not so pretty”, and indeed, I decided to unpick the princess seam for the biggest adjustment, adding about 1/2 inch at the fullest part of the  princess seam, and add a little ( about 1/4 inch) to the side seams to allow a bit of ease.



At this stage, I had come so far, with so far to go, and was rapidly falling out of love. I know by now this is a routine part of the process, and was confident, my love affair would be rekindled.

Pushing on, I tamed the beast, sewed  he shoulder seams, and tried it on.


I was suprised to discover the shoulder seams so far forwards. 12 months ago, I would have left it alone, but unpicking a seam is no big deal on this ride. So the seams were moved backwards half an inch.




Susan talks a lot about the virtue of the thread tracing and large seam allowances which allow you to modify for fit as you sew. The fit of this garment  is so hard to judge because of these very seam allowances: a build in contingency is definitely needed.

Then the shoulders were hand sewn in using Susans tutorial, which was a little complicated, but no drama at all. However, then trying to tame the lining on the inside, well that was more difficult.


After all this, all that is needed id to apply the trim, then sewn closed the lining.

I struggled  with trim trying to find a trim that I could live with, so eventually decided to go without, and add later if I found something. As the jacket is unstructured, it needs something to stablise the edges, I learned this on Mels blog.



The home straight was fairly straight forwards, adding the closures (add wax) fell stitching the lining, and the chain (add wax) ,but I found myself a little sad as I came to the end.

Ill get some new photos soon!


I’m off the melbourne in a few weeks, so I’ll  pop into Jimmy’s buttons to see if I can find the icing for my cake.

Ramble Over.





Notes To self:

add 1/2 inch at the arms side of the princess seam

take 1cm off the neck at the back

add 1/2 inch ease to the side seams at the hips ( could have got away without this)

remove ?1 inch ease form the sleeves

Leave huge allowances at the underarm.



The Chiffon Dinner Dance Selfless Sewing Dress

My eldest niece entered the year of the Dinner Dance Dress in 2017. She asked me if I would make her a dress, and I was delighted.  I saw someone say on IG today they’ve been waiting their whole loves to sew a book week costume. Which is how I felt about the dinner dance dress ( and of course book week costumes!). Who doesn’t love sewing icing, when all you really need is cake (or bread).  So I guess it wasn’t really selfless sewing.

I think prior to doing the Susan Khalje course I would have been scared S@#$less, but I knew now that if I took my time, I would pull something off.

She put together a mood board, then we looked at patterns and fabrics. This was the most traumatic part of the whole experience. As sewist will understand, when you have a definite idea about what you want, it can be difficult to find! In the end, she settled on a knock off of this Bec and Bridge Dawn to Dusk dress.

Praise the lord for my newly acquired Susan Khalje, part flat pattern, part draping skills.

I created a muslin she was happy enough with and then went searching for fabric.


Then we went fabric shopping.  She wanted navy with some sort of embellishment.  We couldn’t find anything.  So we ordered some navy silk chiffon from Pitt Trading, along with lovely guipure lace to trim.

And then the creating began, and continued, and continued….

I used the True Bias Ogden Cami as the slip, and just carved out the back.

At the end, we decided the guipure was too heavy, and it didn’t really need anything else.

Screenshot_20170814-130930She was happy enough to wear it, which I take as a good result.
Unfortunately the next generation is mainly girls, so I may be busy for the next few years…

Ramble over.

Is there anybody out there?

So here it is. My first blog post. I’m thinking I’ll start writing for myself as a record of sewing, knitting and ramblings with a view to opening this up for criticism by judgment by enjoyment of the world once I find courage. So I drafted this post in Jan 2017, and it sat. I figured if I only ever post once, there is no point going public.

You guys have fed my soul for years with inspiration, tutorials, friendship, random acts of kindness (I’m looking at you Anna, Meg and Rachel ). Is it time to give back?

In late 2014, I  started chatting to 3 people in Tessuti Suurey Hills,  before I relaised they  were Rachel( currently not blogging), Kat and Lizy,

I began by  stalking Selective walking thanking them for being my online inspiration. and they bullied encouraged me to start an instagram account. Of course, this began as vicariously following.  I was soon comfortable enough to post headless shots. Fast forward 3 years, and now I’m thinking … maybe of … blogging…


I’ve enjoyed recording my makes and being able to reflect. But realistically IG limits the extent to which you can record, document, plan, reflect. Progressing to blogging is an extension of this. I have just read a post that made me reflect on my own sewing and life, and I figure by just using IG I am limited in how much I can contribute but also how much I can derive from the process.

Maybe blogging will allow me to better plan, document, record, and contribute to this vibrant, creative community.

Ramble over.


In Jan 2016 I  had secretly jotted down a few sewing goals, and miraculously can find them 12 months later.

I also posted a #makenine2016 on IG. I had planned a swimsuit, a rashie, Tessuti Annie dress, Tessuti kate top, Grainline archer, brasiere, Grainline matitine shorts.


So how did I do?

#makenine2016 is pretty concrete so easy to reflect upon.

I had made a few swim suits before, none great successes, and all since been kon-maried (is that a verb?) Out of my wardrobe. I did want to make a swimsuit more like what i would buy and so just cut and pasted an Internet image hoping to maybe cut/trace/rub an old RTW pair. So when the genius that is closet case files released sophie I pounced. It was. MID WINTER in PERTH. That baby wasnt gonna get an outing for about 6 months; Regardless the Sophie was sewn awaiting summer ( unfortunately it was really short in 2016/17).
Swimsuit: Tick.


I made two surf to summit rash vests, both were selflessly gifted, and I did sew my daughter and neice two rashies each. So that’s 6 rashies, but I still havent sewn one for me!
Rashie: Half tick

I had planned a tessuti annie. Either colour blocked or with an embroidered yoke then dyed. But I have two so wasnt feeling the immediate need. Tessuti’s #asundressinseptember was inspiration enough. A vintage dress from my stash miraculously formed. Ì counting this.


I sewed a few bras with mixed success. Same pattern same fabric different result. Being a scientist, I know this is of course can’t be true. The failures are so uncomfortable and frequent, I’m cutting my losses and finished my scientific experiment with bras.  I’ll be visiting David Jones from now on.
Braserie: tick.

I did sew a Kate but only one and I had at least two more planned. It was a summer staple last year. I think it will be again so more will come.
Kate top: Tick.

I did find a knit dress pattern which worked for me. But it was a short sleeve Named patterns Inari. Perth skipped spring this year and jumped from freezing to stinking hot so I had no need for long sleeve dresses. I sewed 3 Inari dresses and 2 tops. I’m claiming this as achieved.
Knit dress: Tick.

I failed to sew any button down shirts. The planned archers have been carried over onto my #2017makenine list.
Button down shirt : No tick.

I did buy several pants patterns. I had less than success with the papercut Animas, stylearc and true bias hudsons..
I want to make fitted pants but given I have struggled to “feel” the pull on styles and I couldnt bear the fitting dramas in 2016.
I really need to address this and feel shorts are less scary for some reason. So I’m starting there. My #makenine2017 has several pants in it. Pants: No tick

So I think I have myself 67 % for #makenine2016.

Thats a credit pass.
Moving forward to both grow and address wardrobe holes I need to address my aversion to pants, fitted dresses and jackets. I also need to slow down, make Muslims, so more hand sewing and I want to apply more couture techniques (by more, i mean any)

Drum roll.

My 2017makenine:

IMG_4192Ramble over.