The Jane Austen silk





Miss Milly, Miss Laura and I are going to a garden picnic performance! It’s a performance of Sense and Sensibility in the gardens of Beaumont House. Naturally we need beautiful dresses to wear to such an occasion!

I picked this pattern out before Christmas but it took me quite a while to find the perfect fabric.  This needed something light weight but with plenty of drape so the flounce didn’t sit out from the body.

The pattern is New Look 6444 which is very in style at the moment – every woman and her dog seems to be wearing off the shoulder and/or deep frills.

The fabric is stunning pure silk from Eastern Silk at Mile End in Adelaide. They’re having a sale at the moment and are surprisingly reasonable.  I think this ended up costing about $30 which is not bad considering it needed lots of fabric. Be warned, the fabric amount allowed on the pattern envelope is incredibly generous which is kind of annoying when it’s expensive fabric, however I’ve made a whole top for myself from the leftovers so I’m not too cross!

I altered the elastic casing at the neckline so it doesn’t have a fabric frill sticking up above the top edge. This meant instead of using bias binding for the casing I just enclosed the elastic between the top and frill.  To do this I stitched them together at the top edge with right side of frill to wrong side of top then turned it to the outside.  Then top stitched 1cm from the top.

I wanted a shorter dress but the same length all round (not hi-lo) so I used the front piece from the shorter version for both the front and back skirt. Because the silk frays like crazy I’ve French seamed everything and turned all hems and casings under so the raw edge is enclosed. This all took a ridiculous amount of time even for a slow poke like me. I actually did an all-nighter, sewing and watching Outlander on Netflix, and finished the dress just as the sun came up!

The dress seems to be able to be worn on the shoulder, off the shoulder, or one shouldered, which my teens tell me is all the rage. Milly is thrilled with it.  I can tell because she’s been parading around in it wearing my floppy hat.  I think we’re going to have a fabulous time next week at the performance and picnic. Now I just need to get cracking on my own dress which is all cut out but not yet started sewing!

P.S. this was #4 on my holiday to-do list.

Rash cacti






Something other than a #9! Number 8 on my holiday to-do list: the cactus flower rash suit and swimming bottoms for Miss 10yo. Sometimes I swear I must be the world’s slowest sewist as these seemed to take so long to come together. I thought they’d be nice and quick (fatal assumption!) but the bottoms took a couple of hours by the time I’d oh-so-carefully matched up the edges and lining, and ensured a lovely neat finish on all the elastic. Then the needle decided to go blunt and two of the seams on the top needed unpicking before I worked out that the needle was the culprit for the missed stitches. I am pleased with the outcome though and the fabric from Spoonflower is just fabulous. I love it so much I think I’ll make myself a rash top the same with the leftovers! The one thing that would make them better would be buying an overlocker since the top, while lovely on the outside, is not as neat on the inside as an overlocker would make it. If I were going to make lots of swimwear I think it would sway me to buy an overlocker again.

It was really hard to photograph – the black matte lycra looks like it’s a different shade than the print but in reality they match beautifully. I didn’t want to put a fully dressed photo up online buy here’s a little peek of the child to show how nicely it fits. She’s looking kind of mutinous but is really very pleased with the togs.

The bottoms are from Kwik Sew 3605, size XL, and the top is New Look 6241 view A in size 12. I sewed the bottoms exactly as per the pattern. For the top I straightened the bottom edge and heightened the neckband slightly which suits the swimwear style better. Apart from wanting to try out the Spoonflower lycra fabric, I partly chose to make a rash suit because ethically made swimwear options for tween girls are so few and far between, not to mention what is available is really expensive. So I was keen to add up how much these cost. The cactus fabric is $42 Australian per yard which is pretty bloody steep! But, I do have enough for another two child size rash suits or one adult one, so let’s say $14 for that (I’ll conveniently ignore the postage since I got another 3 fabrics at the same time..) Then there’s about $6 worth of ordinary swimsuit lycra from my local fabric shop, $1 or so of swimwear elastic I picked up cheap, and about $1.50 of thread. We won’t count the patterns even though I suppose I technically should. They’ll get used again. So that’s $23.50. Pretty good really (as long as I do use up the spare fabric), and at least I know they’re ethically made and the seamstress was provided with ample breaks, cups of tea and Netflix to watch while sewing.

Upsized upcycling




I picked up these pants for Milly at the op shop on Saturday, but they were too small. I thought they would be, but it was half price day on blue labels, and at $4 I couldn’t pass them by. So… I unpicked a section of the back waistband and the back crotch seam part way. Then made a wedge shaped insert to widen the back. I added a section to the middle of the back waistband to fit across the new wedge bit, then sewed the belt keeper back on. The extra fabric came from the legs which I hacked off to turn the pants into shorts. Wouldn’t you know it, I was a bit enthusiastic with the wedge and they’re actually now too big, but, the handy thing is they have that hidden elastic thingy that some kid size shorts have, with holes in the elastic to pull them tighter and do up to a button on each side. Which means they can get pulled in and will probably fit until the child is a teenager!

Turning Japanese


Holidays – yay, time to sew. Last year was madness – for most of it I was working 3 1/2 days a week and studying full time to try and finish off this degree. So I didn’t get much time for sewing, but hopefully that will be different this year. I said that last year but maybe it will be true this time.
I wanted to use up this fabric before my youngest gets too old for cute prints. Simplicity 2677 is perfect as it looks vaguely Japanese with the crossover bodice. The pattern wasn’t hard, but needed a lot of attention to detail to get a nice finish. I do hate zips, I never seem to manage a perfect finish, but it’s good enough.

img_0140And look, I’ve added in a photo of the first thing I made from this fabric – my baby as a baby!


Cheap, cheap, cheap!

The $2 dress – made out of a dress I bought from an op shop, which was actually brand new with tags, but had a ripped seam. It is Ottobre 3/2008, #12, with the back changed into a yoked style, so as to let me take advantage of the skirt part of the original dress being already hemmed and attach it in one piece. The ties from the original dress make good hairbands. The plan is that it will look good with a black skivvy and leggings worn underneath in winter.

And a little striped top I made a few weeks ago out of leftovers from the surf top of a year ago. I have yet to manage a keyhole fastening that isn’t too bulky once the button is put on, so I don’t think I will try it again, my machine isn’t up to it. Much easier just to make the head opening big and stretchy enough not to need a button at the back.

Old-fashioned girl

I’ve had this fabric for yonks, so long I can’t even remember where or when I bought it, but I think it was about 8 years ago. I still really like the colour combinations but somehow it also has a bit of an outdated feel to it. I’m not quite sure if it is outdated enough to be retro-cool or just old, but I’ve decided I don’t care, so there. The patterns are Ottobre yet again. I realised miss 3 has grown so much since last Winter that nothing she owns will fit once the cold weather arrives, so I’m getting an early start on making a few warmer clothes. I also picked up a beautiful velveteen Osh Kosh jacket in the exact same red at an op shop on Friday – bargain!