Good dog


I used to have an awesome t-shirt with K9 from Doctor Who on it, it was black, with a silver K9. I wore it to death, and sad was the day when I had to consign it to the bin.

So then I bought a new, yellow t-shirt from Red Bubble, with a nice big K9 on it, but it was kind of yellower than I thought. Very, very yellow. Almost gold in fact (which is what the colour is called so I kinda should have expected it), and I only wore it about twice. At the same time I bought the t-shirt I bought some amazing striped fabric from Spoonflower to make a long sleeved t-shirt to wear under the yellow K9 shirt, but we know how that t-shirt worked out. This afternoon I decided to hack the yellow shirt and make a new version with the stripes. It’s turned out to be my new awesome K9 shirt. Recognise the stripe colours?



The pattern is Ottobre 5/2008 Raglan t-shirt. I traced the size that matched my bust measurement but when I looked at the pattern pieces they looked too small, so I checked and the t-shirt bust measurement was going to end up with about 8cm negative ease! Being too lazy to trace a new size I just enlarged it when I cut it, placing the pattern pieces about 1cm away from the centre folds, and also adding 1cm to each side of both body pieces. I held the sleeve pieces on my arms and they looked way too small too, so I also added about 2 cm in width to those at the underarm, tapering to the actual pattern width after the elbow. I don’t know what Ottobre were intending but the sizing seems a little weird on this one. My fabric is quite stretchy but I wouldn’t have wanted it cut as small as the pattern.



I had 1m of fabric but the repeat of the stripes is quite a long way apart, so even with that much fabric for a t-shirt, I had trouble fitting it on and matching the stripes. I got them to match at the side seams, but couldn’t make them match at the raglan sleeves and still fit them on. So I shortened the sleeves to bracelet length to fit them on and have them at least match each other. I think they look fine though with the raglan sleeve seams not being colour-matched. I did the neck band in the traditional way of seaming it into a circle, folding it with wrong sides matching, and stretching it to fit, which I like for this shirt but did make it difficult to judge how long it needed to be. It was too long the first time and bagged out at the neck so I had to unpick and redo. I like it now though. I used a double needle to do the narrow hem on the sleeves and hem.



K9 himself has been appliqued using Vliesofix. I cut him out of the t-shirt with a few mm of yellow showing, ironed him onto the striped shirt front, then machine zig-zagged all the way around him with a narrow stitch. I agonised over where to put him but I think he’s ended up slightly too far to the left. Never mind. In case you didn’t work it out, the stripes are the pattern of the scarf worn by the Doctor who was played by Tom Baker. He was my first Doctor when I was a small child, watching the Daleks from my spot hiding behind the lounge!

Orange Firebirds – Sewing the 70s


I have no idea what sort of birds these are! But I was crazy about phoenixes in the 70s (Phoenix and the Carpet anyone?@?), so I’m pretending they’re phoenixes, ie firebirds, since it sounds cool.


Jazz hands!

Excuse the weird photos.  The light was odd, so I tried fiddling with the settings on my phone camera. Which really just made it worse. So I tried to fix the overexposure in editing, even worser.  Then I had daughter #1 taking photos, and she kept trying to take them from her navel, aka looking up my nose. And it was blowing a gale.  Oh well, you get the picture.

I looove this fabric.  It’s from  The Needleworks at Marion and is a beautiful quality stretch cotton sateen. I coveted it the instant I set eyes on it but resisted initially as I’m not exactly short on fabric at the moment. Then I went back quite some weeks later and it was still there, which was clearly a sign, right? Plus it was on sale the second time so really that’s two signs…

Chic chicks.


The pattern is from 1977, picked up at on op shop recently. I wanted to choose a fairly basic style that would allow the large print to be seen and this fits the bill. The bonus is that it also fits the criteria for the ‘Sewing the Seventies’ challenge from Steely Seamstress.

The tunic looks pretty much like the picture except that I added in splits at the sides and finished them with bias binding, plus added a longer hem to give the lower section a bit more weight at the splits. I love the pockets in the picture but didn’t want to spoil the print this time.

The points at the neck were too high initially so I took them down about 3cm. And I also used bias on the sleeve hems.


The zip is a bit of a fail since the only orange one I had was shorter than it was supposed to be.  I used it anyway, but realistically it hasn’t made it easier to get on and off and I could have done without it completely.  The only consolation is that the pattern stripe matching on the zip is kickarse, if I do say so myself.


When I cut it out I was focusing on the pattern up near the face, so was quite chuffed when I realised that the pattern placement at the hips almost looks like a belt. I now have something orange to wear for Harmony Day which is coming up soon. And I even picked up a couple of bangles that match perfectly for $1 each when op shopping. My (also thrifted) jeans are looking a bit tired. I think a lighter blue pair would look nice with this. What do you think? An excuse to buy more fabric?


Monkey business


From the sublime to the mundane – after the stress of The Dress, I needed to sew something quick and fun. So I made some knickers! I’ve included a couple of pairs I made late last year in this post.  They were for one of the kids and I made them out of old tops, using some worn out undies as a template. They’re pretty cute I think, especially the pair with the hamburger on the bottom, even if it did have to be cut off centre to fit. I made a couple more pairs but they’re in the wash.



The monkey pairs were run up this evening using the same method, cutting up an old pair as a template. And I shame-facedly present the sadly holey evidence of why they were only fit to be chopped up. I bought the cute sock monkey fabric from Spotlight intending to sew more underwear for the girls but they all proclaimed the monkeys too creepy.  Apparently button eyes are scary.  Which is weird because I think they’re cute. Whatever, I claimed the fabric for me instead. I could have got 4 pairs if I’d cut a couple of the backs upside down but I decided I wanted my monkeys upright.



The elastic is from the most amazing stash I picked up a few weeks ago at a Lifeline op shop.  By my reckoning there’s about 150m for $28. Isn’t it awesome!! So obviously I need to make lots more undies…

The Magnificent Embroidered Silk

20170224_164327I really think it has turned out magnificently! So here is a rather long post describing the process.


20170224_163012To start at the beginning… My beautiful second daughter had her yr 12 school formal this week. For US readers, that’s the Australian version of a senior prom. The eldest didn’t go to formal, she’s not into dances and dressing up, but this one was always going to be a big deal. Laura has been thinking and planning for months. As a fashion design student and keen fashionista she wanted something a bit different, but when we went searching all the formal wear shops (and I mean all of them, sigh) in the Christmas holidays, it was all depressingly boring and plain. So many traditional bridesmaid style dresses, so much sameness. I never really wanted to make her dress, way too much pressure if you ask me, and although I’m a pretty good seamstress if I do say so myself, the last real formal wear I sewed was my bridesmaid dresses, 23 years ago. But in the end Laura decided the only way to get what she wanted was to get me to make it, so I finally gave in.

We knew straight away where we’d get the fabric – the wonderful Eastern Silk shop which is just around the corner from my workplace. The fabric is a glorious embroidered dupion silk and the lining is also silk. I found it absolutely wonderful to work with and am so glad we didn’t choose a slippery fabric. The dupion is very robust, and put up with a fair few unpickings without showing the marks. I’m a complete fan now of the silk lining, also wonderful to work with, strong and fine but not slippery.


Laura had a specific design in mind. She’d tried on and photographed a couple of dresses that she liked the bodice design of, if not the fabric, and she had several ‘inspiration’ designer dresses she’d seen online that we could only ever afford in her dreams! Although I’ve drafted simple patterns occasionally in the past, and I’m confident doing alterations, I didn’t feel I had the skill to draft this dress, we needed a pattern. We spent ages looking through the pattern books, but eventually decided that a pattern I already had could be altered for the bodice, and just by chance picked up a pattern for the skirt in an op shop for $1.50. The final dress has a bodice which is a combination of the two different bodices in Butterick  5181, and the skirt from Simplicity 2398 view A.The bodice has two separate cups attached to the bodice band like views A and B, but has very narrow straps like views C and D.




20170219_174407.jpgThe embroidered silk is very strong but relatively thin where it’s not embroidered, so  I decided to line the entire thing with a reasonably thick, soft flannel fabric.I wanted something with the same amount of give as the silk (ie very little) and the flannel fit the bill. The front band, and both top back and bottom back sections of the bodice are boned, using flexible plastic boning which is just zigzagged to the flannel on the side closest to the lining. I LOVED doing the boning. There are 16 pieces of boning and I singed both ends of each piece using a cigarette lighter. It was so much fun. All that fire (laughs wildly…) After I’d stitched the boning in, I ironed a strip of interfacing over each one to add a bit of cushioning since the silk lining is very fine. You can see in the photo above, the way the pieces of boning are positioned means that the ends of each piece are also cushioned by the seam allowances folding up/down over them. If they weren’t they would probably have needed something stitched over the ends to stop them digging in.

The dress has taken a very long time to sew, partly because I’ve had a lurking terror the whole time that I was going to stuff it up. So every single step has involved massive amounts of procrastination. Which is ridiculous because it hasn’t actually been that hard to sew, it’s just needed lots of attention to detail. The challenge was more in the fitting, but once I got the toile done and fitting well, it mostly came together nicely. Although I think I only finished it in the end because I was getting frustrated at not being able to sew anything else (self imposed) until it was done. Oh and the deadline of the event, there’s that!





20170224_161545.jpgOne thing I did have difficulty with was the straps. Laura wanted them really narrow, but I couldn’t for the life of me get the rouleaus I’d made to turn out. I think it was precisely because the silk is not slippery, so I couldn’t get it moving through the narrow channels. So we ended up buying ready made rouleau cord from Spotlight. Easy solution and it matches beautifully! Ideally the straps should have been enclosed in the bodice at the back but I needed to wait until the dress was nearly finished to cut them to the right length, so they are just hand-stitched to the already finished bodice as the very last step of construction.

The only major mistake I made was that I constructed the bodice by sewing the front and back top sections together at the side seams, and then lining those sections, then sandwiching them all at once into the lower bodice sections. This looks lovely both inside and out, however it then meant the lining of the top bodice back wasn’t able to separate when I came to put the zip in. So the bodice and lining had to be treated as one piece to attach the zip. This worked fine, but I’ve had to then handsew some ribbon over the zipper tape to neaten it on the inside.What I should have done is construct and line the cups, then sandwich them into the front bodice band; sew the top back bodice pieces to the back bodice bands, do the same with the back bodice lining pieces, and just attach the lining to the bodice along the top seam; then sandwich the front bodice between the back bodice and its lining at the side seams. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!




Other than the zip’s rather messy construction I found it really challenging to get the zip in the right spot. I’d left quite a bit of spare fabric for fitting, but how to pin it on my daughter so the dress was nice and tight (so it would stay up) and then accurately mark where the zip would go was really tricky. I ended up just using pins to mark the centre back, while I pulled it firm, and then working it out from there after I’d taken it off her, but I was really quite amazed when it did actually fit just right. I did say to Laura that if she wants me to make her wedding dress it better not be for at least another 10 years as it will take me that long to be ready to put myself through this trauma again!

The skirt lining was another casualty of the bodice construction mistake. It’s too complicated to explain why, but I decided the best way to end up with it free to attach separately to the zip was to handsew it onto the bodice. It looks good. We had a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about whether to put some tulle on the skirt lining, but Laura chose not to in the end, she thought it flared out enough without it. She also debated the length, and whether an ankle length skirt would show off her gorgeous shoes better, but finally went with floor length as more elegant. The hem is narrow and hemmed with some grosgrain ribbon.









20170224_163127I’m super proud of this dress, and of my beautiful 17 year old. The best thing is that she put it on and declared that she loved it. I just love that she had the confidence to wear something a bit different that suits her own sense of style, and she got to go to her formal feeling gorgeous.

Here’s just a few photos of the pre-formal party. We bought a stunning corsage from Flowers of Adelaide. They are a gorgeous florist in Torrensville where I’ve bought bouquets occasionally for birthdays etc. I knew they would do something elegant and they didn’t disappoint. Laura spoke to the florist herself and explained what she would like and they did a custom wrist corsage on a black ribbon. I especially love the succulents!


And just to finish off… after being religious about keeping the cats off the fabric, and putting it away in the cupboard after each sewing session, Laura had finished her hair and make-up, and had just laid out the dress on the bed while she put her shoes on. We turned our backs for 2 minutes and look who took up very temporary(!) residence.

The Guilty Camera Case



I’m not really someone who’s prone to mother guilt, or at least I try not to be, but one thing that does always pull at the guilt strings is when I feel like one of my four kids is missing out on something that the others got. When my older three children have been on school camps, they’ve always had a camera to take with them. And the resulting photos are hardly works of art but they’ve meant some wonderful memories are recorded forever.


img_0398Soon my youngest is headed off on her first camp and all electronics are forbidden except for cameras. Which is all well and good, except that since her next oldest sibling last went on a camp where electronics are banned (ie primary school camp, no hope of bans at high school), technology has moved on. We no longer owned a small cheap camera because these days we all have mobile phones (we do own a good camera, but we sure as hell aren’t sending that on camp with a 10 yo!) I may have been heard ranting along the lines of “who owns a camera these days?!?”, but in the end I gave in and bought a cheap camera from Target. Which of course needed a case… ie reason to sew something fun. Mother guilt FTW!




This took about an hour. I used the sweetest paisley scraps leftover from some overalls I made the same 10yo when she was a baby. The lining is the very last leftover bit of bamboo velour from my nappy making days and makes great padding for the camera. Gosh bamboo velour is such lush and beautiful fabric, it makes me want to buy some more and sew something from it! I cut two rectangles for the drawstring case. Then made a pocket for the front to hold the spare batteries, and added some elastic casings to stop them escaping. Plus a little flap with a snap hammered on (I have a gazillion snaps in my drawers, also from nappy and baby suit making days). A single layer of fabric for the casing around the top meant it was easier to thread the elastic through. Sadly I only had black elastic and a black thingy-ma-jig to tighten it with but it looks pretty sweet I think. So here’s hoping the 10yo captures lots of great memories on film at camp.






70s Pattern Haul


Four grooooovy 70s patterns and one chic 90s pattern. All picked up at the Salvos last weekend on a quick scouting mission. I think they’re all from the same donor as they’re all carefully wrapped in plastic and sticky taped the same way.  So thank-you Peggy Charteris of Queenstown for looking after them so well. I got some lovely light corduroy as well in a beautiful red colour.


I adore the boiler suit look of the girl in yellow Simplicity 5125 and her blue shoes are wonderful. The red cap is very fetching too. It’s from 1972 and the hairstyles are groovy, man.



Style 2631 is from 1979 and reminds me of the hair styles and dresses my more grown up cousins wore that year. Style 1842 is clearly aiming for more sophisticated with the blue wedges and Charlie’s Angels hair. I especially love the pockets on these dresses.



I’m envious of those black t-bar shoes in Style 1233. This one is 1975. I’m not sure I could imagine ever sewing this one but you never know.

And the Vogue, I love it. It’s from 1992, the year I was married. I could imagine sewing some version of the jacket although I might have to alter it and ditch the shoulder pads!

I had assumed the Queenstown on the address stamp was in New Zealand, but when I Googled the address it turns out it’s in South Africa.  So now I’m imagining Peggy moving to Australia with her small children (well someone made that squiggle). Maybe fleeing apardheit. Then settling in the Adelaide Hills where she shopped at Fabrics Plus in Blackwood in the 90s. The 17yo just called my investigations ‘stalkerish much?’ But I just love to imagine how these patterns fitted into someone else’s sewing journey!



Pretty Birds on a Pinny and a Vampire Bat



Presenting a threeway collaboration between Laura, me, and my partner in crime (hence forth known as pic)! I bought this gorgeous velour print off the bargain table at Spotlight for maybe $3 a metre. It’s one of those buys where you wonder what on earth everyone else was thinking that no-one had snapped it up before it ended up being sold off. Anyway it was such a bargain that I bought about 5 metres of it. I still intend to make myself a winter skirt, but it in the meantime Laura’s been eyeing it off for a pinafore.


Laura cut it all out, using this 70s skirt pattern, and cutting the bib parts based on an existing pinafore she owns. When I say she used this skirt pattern, it’s been so completely hacked there’s almost nothing of the original pattern, but it was a starting point. Laura sewed the skirt together and fitted the darts to suit her tiny waist, then asked for my help with the top-stitching… at which point she realised she didn’t have a plan for how to do the side openings. Apparently my description of how to do it involved lots of confusing words and waving my hands around and was all clear as mud, because she decided to just hand it over to me to do the rest.





It’s not a complicated design, but did take a while to do all the top stitching nice and straight.  Including running out of top-stitching thread and having to wait a couple of days before I could get to the shop and buy some more. The heavy multi-layered seams resisted my best efforts at getting the twin needles to work so I ended up stitching them one row at a time using a heavy jeans needle. They’re not quite as even as a twin needle would have been but overall (see what I did there…) they’re pretty straight. I should have made the side openings a bit longer to make it easier to get on and off, they need a bit of a wriggle (!) but they work.

The third party to get involved was when the pic got asked to hammer in the buttons. I’m adamant we marked the button spots clearly, yet somehow he managed to put one of the side opening buttons further around the back of the waistband, and we had to hunt up another one to add to the side opening. I’m a bit bemused as to how he managed it but he’s sticking by his story that it was intended that way to hang a hammer off the overalls!

We took these photos inside because it’s pouring down rain today. I read online that Adelaide has had the wettest summer in many, many decades and it certainly feels like it. My lounge room floor is looking very much in need of a vacuum but I needn’t tell anyone reading this that there are far better things to do than vacuum! Rather than vacuuming (who am I kidding, I would not have been vacuuming anyway), I’ve been to the most gorgeous baby shower this afternoon for a friend who’s waited a long time for her soon-to-arrive baby girl. I’m so excited for her! We all got given a letter and number to draw things on a wooden block. Isn’t that the best idea? My artwork isn’t up to much but what a awesome and useful memento.


Jungle January gets gaudy



I’ve been wanting to do one of the sewing challenges that abound online so when I spotted this Very bright silk it just shouted to be used for #junglejanuary. I won’t say too much about the pattern as I need this to be quick if I’m going to technically scrape into January! I realised the time zone on my blog is handily still on the default US time zone, so even though we’ve roared into February here in Adelaide I’m pretending otherwise.

This is the same pattern I used for my previous Spindle Silk, using the Spindle dress pattern from Ottobre. I was inspired to sew up my Jungle January contribution by Siobhan who used a leafy jungle print instead of an animal print.

Even for someone who likes bright clothes this is a bit out there, so I’ve matched it with entirely black.  The sewing is really a bit dodgy, blamed on my haste and general not-sure-I’m-gonna-like-this mood as I was sewing.  It looks surprisingly good though with the bubbly under arm bindings hiding under a cardie (oops). My workplace is like Antarctica anyway so intentions to wear breezy, light summer gear are always dashed and I end up with wearing woolens and a nanna rug on my lap. What is it with the air con in these buildings? I just had a work colleague say they liked the colour so it can’t be all bad!