16 June 2015

FO: Simplicity 9497 - Communion style

Best aunty every right?  Sewing niece's communion dress?

Well, not really.  Aunty seriously procrastinated on this puppy, finishing it with 3 days to go.  She didn't say so, but I'm sure sister was mighty stressed about whether niece would have a dress at all!

But she did and I'm fairly pleased with it.  Both sis and niece were also pleased.  Niece was dancing and twirling around, and promptly got food all over her front at the party.  Job well done everyone.

Because niece is oddly shaped, we knew it would be difficult to get her an appropriately sized dress.  Therefore home made was the obvious choice.  I heavily modified the pattern, adding approximately 2" to the length of the bodice and 8" to the width.  I altered the bodice back, removing the zip closure and making the back shirred (Gertie's tutorial was very helpful in this respect.  Tutorial one, two and three) to ensure it fit snugly but wasn't tight.

I am, and probably always will be, a sloppy seamstress.  There's lots I could have done better with this dress, but I am my own worst enemy and left it late and had to rush.  But anyway, I'm still quite pleased.

So obviously niece doesnt have the boobages of my dummy, but you get the idea.
I added a ribbon around the waist to finish it off. 
I have vowed to never hand stitch a hand if I can avoid it, and this dress was no exception. 
I also shirred a section of the waist ribbon to ensure it could stretch with the shirred back.  I had to divide the back piece into two sections to allow for the shirring.
Can you tell the skirt is a curtain??  I don't think it turned out too badly.  I struggled to find some lace with a scalloped edge, and this was the best I could do for a reasonable price.  Looks much nicer on niece than on a window I think!

Pattern:  Simplicity 9497, view F.  I cut the largest size (14) and then went to town with modifications.


  • approx 2.5m of 100% polyester 'deluxe satin' from Spotlight
  • approx 2m of sunsilk lining
  • approx 2.5m of curtain (yes curtain!!) for the overskirt


  • added about 8 inches to the bodice width plus extra for the shirred back
  • added 2 inches length to bodice
  • removed zip closure, added shirring, in the processes divding the back bodice into two pieces.
  • added about 4 inches of width to the skirt, as much as the fabric would allow 
  • lowered neckline and armsythes as required, probably about an inch each
  • added ribbon
  • added lining to skirt


10 March 2015

365: January 2015

I started another 365 project on 1 January on instagram this year. I'm not particularly artful but I do like looking back at my year to see what was happening.  It is extremely challenging to find something to take a picture of when your life is very routine, so my main goal is to look around each day for something different, for inspiration or whatever.


  1. A new diary, with the intention of writing something every day, which I am not ashamed to say I am failing massively at.
  2. The ever trendy sneakers-with-dress look, walking to work, sticking to my new years reso to get fit.
  3. It only took me 3 days to get a pic of The Kitten in.  
  4. My lunch, because that's what instagram is for right?
  5. Re-watching The Hobbit movies before seeing the last one (which I still haven't seen btw)
  6. My belated Chrissy present to myself, a set of knit-pro interchangeable needles, worth every penny.
  7. Classy decorations at Spaghetti Tree, spotted during lunch.
  8. Learning new skills: buttonholes for my McCalls 6696.
  9. First ever traffic infringement :(
  10. Some of my very numerous pop figures.
  11. Attempted arty shot of my baboo.
  12. 1-2-3-ISAGENIX.  I am liking this program btw.  I might write more about it at some point, even if it does feel like I've joined a cult.
  13. Accidental purchase of a whole lot of pretty vintage patterns.
  14. "Shoes make me happy, I'm superficial, whatever." =D
  15. I want to complete my Pratchett library this year.  Latest edition, Men at Arms.
  16. Hot Cross Buns in January!?!  I'm not surprised, but yikes.
  17. Dead plants.  So good at gardening.
  18. Hanstan pretties.  My collection is looking shit hot, seriously. 
  19. Still loving postcrossing.
  20. Melbourne's laneways are so photogenic.
  21. I love isagenix, but I get really hungry and really appreciate actual food now.
  22. Artichoke tureen.  Another addition to another of my shit hot collections.
  23. Knitting.  slow slow progress. 
  24. Creepy animatronic bakers at Bourkies Bakehouse.
  25. My little sis modelling a 'bowser bra'.
  26. This is kinda a cool book for knitters.  I would recommend.
  27. Tomatoes.
  28. A walk through Fitzroy Gardens.
  29. Vintage knitting book from Brotherhood Books (which is an amazing website if you haven't heard of it).
  30. Choosing a nail polish colour.  
  31. Literally watching the grass grow.

01 March 2015

Emergency gift: Baby life quilt

Having a baby?  Well, as good a reason to craft as any, right?  Crochet or knitting are my usual preferences, however my very good friend is nearly ready to pop and the planned layette is far from finished.  

So, I decided to make a quilt.  Noting that I have never made one before.  I started on Thursday night and finished about midnight on Saturday.  Given that context, I don't think it turned out too bad. 

I followed the recipe for the Baby Life Quilt from Moda Bake Shop, which I have loved ever since I saw it.  I omitted the additional border because I was short on time.  Instead I used the same fabric used for the lettering for the binding to tie it together (hopefully).

This was the first time I'd used heat and bond.  I used this tutorial to learn what to do.  I'm slightly worried that the letters will fray, them being just stuck down with the heat and bond.  I tried zig-zagging around the edges but that was wayyy too fiddly and time consuming, and frankly I was just not good at it.

Not sure if you can tell, but I've used 4 different coloured threads to quilt with.  Not sure if I should have done this, but it was something to try.  I also didnt have time, I was going to do more quilting on the oppostite diagonal to create a diamond pattern, but it seems to look ok with the de minimis quilting.

Again due to timing (and laziness) I didn't blind stitch the binding to the back, instead I stitched in the ditch to secure the binding in place. And look at the back!  Cute kitties!

Pattern:  Baby Life Quilt by Moda Bake Shop
Fabric:  All purchased from L'uccello in Melbourne
1m of the yellow spots for the for the top ( Confetti Dot Dear Stella Designs in gold )
1m of a cute Japanese printed cat cat print for the back
Fat quarter in four colours for the letters and binding.  I chose 3 cotton & steel prints (one Rashida Coleman-Hale and two colours from basics) and the red Stof shadow fabric.
Finished size: just over 1m squared (104 x 108cm)

It was all done to gift to my expectant friend today.  I think it was well received and I am a very happy crafter indeed :)

My one regret, I really should have substituted 'poop' for 'play' don't you think??


23 January 2015

FO: McCalls 6696 - the bluest blue that ever blued

So I got sucked into Mary's recent sew-a-long.

Idle Fancy

Thank god the deadline was extended, I would have had no hope!

I must say, I think this is the cutest fucking thing I have ever made.  Just look at it.  Bloody adorable.

After making 3 kwik sew 3521's in quick succession, this was a very challenging pattern for me.  So many bits!  Buttonholes!  A collar! Hand stitching!  It was a labour of love and I'm really happy I persevered (even after a collar related tantrum) to finish this off.  There are a lot of faults but I've received my favourite reaction while wearing this dress - You didn't make that??!

This dress was another lesson in patience, slowing down and taking my time,  The topstitching is wonky, the buttons are not spaced evenly (or even centered properly) and the collar is a mess.  But I bet you couldn't tell right?  The cute definitely distracts from the shitty sewing skills,  I'll take that.

I had so much trouble getting the collar in.  I decided to follow the pattern rather than use a different method (this one is apparently much easier) and do kinda regret it.  You have to turn it this way and that, tucking in the seams and edges.  My collar was way to big for my neckline, and no amount of easing would tame it.  I ended up sacrificing the protruding edge of the collar stand to get the damn thing on.  I don't think it's fatal. I feel like it's a mess but I'm sure no one else is looking that closely. 

I can't remember exactly how much fabric I had, but I squeezed this baby out of every cm of it.  I had to use some offcuts from my house dress for the yoke, waistband facing and pockets, which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing.  The pockets aren't quite deep enough for me.  For my next one I'll give myself some more room. 

What else can I say.  It's my new favourite make and I think my wardrobe could easily accommodate like, 10 of these.  The full pleated skirt is beautifully floaty but not overbearing.

Pattern:  McCalls 6696, view A.  I cut a straight 16 and I'm really happy with the fit.  The armscythes could be a bit smaller, but I don't think that's a big deal.


  • I feel like there may have been a CB seam in the skirt which I eliminated, but I may be wrong. 
  • I top stitched (poorly) the hem, button bands and collar to break up the blue a bit. 
  • only used 9 buttons, omitted the button on the collar.

Fabric:  Poly cotton shirting in 'Peacock' from Lincraft, $2.80 p/m.  I think I had about 2.5m.

Notions: 9 x 1/2" white plastic buttons

Sewing review here


13 January 2015

Get Geometric! Another KAL brought to you by Tanya & Lisa

Happy new year!  What better way to start of the new year than knitting seasonally inappropriate accessories!  Woo!  Well, inappropriate for us Aussies anyway.  But at least you'll be prepared to be stylish for that first cold snap. 

Lisa and I are psyched to bring you our first KAL/CAL of 2015 - Get Geometric!

I've designed a cowl and Lisa some complimentary mitts, both in a geometric style.  We'd love for you to join us from the 19th of this month to knit or crochet along with your favourite design (or both!).  We've got some great prizes, but best of all you'll have an awesome unique piece at the end of the event! 

Stacked Triangles Double Knit Cowl

This is a cowl knit in the round using the double-knitting technique which sounds fancier than it actually is.  The result is a reversible fabric that is double the thickness of stockinette for extra warmth. 

The sample uses 3 colours, but you could use two or as many as you like.  

Pattern available on Ravelry now - click here

Chevron Fingerless Mitts

Lisa has designed these gorgeous fingerless mitts in two colours, using so-hot-right-now chevrons.  They are worked flat and seamed, great for beginners.

The pattern is available on Ravelry here!


Of course there are prizes!  Two winners will be chosen - one person completing a cowl and one person completing a pair of mitts.

The winner in the cowl category will receive yarn to re-recreate the pictured cowl, and an array of geometric themed goodies, as pictured below.

The winner of the mitt category will win yarn to make your own set of mitts, and an array of geometric items too! 

You're in?  Fantastic!

Head on over to our Ravelry forum to sign up.  

Share your progress with the tag #getgeometric on instagram!  Both Lisa (teaandcraft) and I (omlair) are avid instagrammers, come and join us! 


08 November 2014

FO: Kwik Sew 3521 - birdie edition

I made another Kwik Sew 3521!

Really love this pattern, simple, quick, effective and versatile.

The delay with this one was finding a zip to match.  I ordered a yellow one online and it came bright orange.  Nice.  Anyway, a trip to lincraft proved a gold coloured zip to be more appropriate in any case.  Quite happy with my zip insertion too, does it qualify as invisible?

I think I've got the fit just right with this dress.  It has enough room to allow me to have a big lunch without it being boxy.  And I think my version looks much better than the envelope sample which seems a bit shapeless to me.  Pretty happy with the fabric placement on the back too, not quite matchy but symmetrical.  noice.

The lawn fashion fabric I used was very light so I again added a skirt lining.  Look, a picture of the insides and the amazingly matched lawn I picked up at Spotties.  Cotton lawn squared.  Lawnception!  Ahem.  And even though there are two layers this dress is still beautifully light, I've warn it on two 30C days and it feels like a dream.

And the fabric itself is just gorg, I love it.  

Pattern: Kwik Sew 3521, view A bodice, length cut between an A and B.

  • cut a straight size L and took in half an inch from the bodice side seams
  • took half a cm out from the bottom of the arm scythe as my previous dress was a smidge tight in this area
  • again changed the skirt from gathers to box pleats placed matched up to the darts in the bodice
  • added skirt lining
  • subbed normal zip for invisible
  • omitted the hook and eye
  • finished the hem machine worked invisible hem.  My fave. 

Fabric:  Japanese printed lawn from Lincraft, Cotton lawn from Spotties for the lining.
Notions:  50cm invisible zip

Look out for more of these, I have one cut out already and another in planning.


Sewing Pattern Review here

Handmakers Factory here

02 November 2014

My top tips for new sewists

So I've read a few lists (I really like lists) of tips for new sewers (sewists?), and I have found them generally unhelpful.  So I feel the need to weigh in with my own list of tips for new sewers.

1. Use whatever the heck you want

Ok, so what is it with snooty seamstresses who think you should only use fabric that is like $1000p/m, or top of the range scissors, machine or tools?  Do they realise this is real life here?  On almost all these lists I have read some variation of "you're only as good as your tools", "only use really good quality fabric" etc etc.

Well, that's fine if you have the means, which I probably do, but as a new a seamstress, I personally think that is outrageous to be dishing out all this cash when you may not really know what you're doing :/  

I have, and still do, make do with what is to hand, what I can afford and what I think I need.  Being a budding sewist already puts you into the basket of particularly creative and innovative people, with the desire to create something out of nothing, Want to use quilting fabric?  Fine!  What about a bedsheet?  Great!  A blanket?  Absolutely fantastic

I'm quite sure you will succeed with a basic sewing machine and some bargain basement fabric just as much as you would have if you had a top of the range digital transforming sewing machine and that coveted luxurious fabric. 

That fabric was literally $2.80 per meter.  Boo-yah! 

2. Just do it

This slogan applies equally to sports as it does to sewing, go for it! 

I still get quite a bit of pre-fabric cutting anxiety, and I think and think about executing something before I do it.  My advice, which I give myself constantly is: Be brave, and go for it!  What's the worst that can happen?  Ok, you'll ruin your uber expensive fancy heirloom vintage fabric (which you wouldn't be doing if you follow step 1 above). Well, obviously be smart about it (which I will come to below) but what I'm trying to say is, you will get better and you will only learn by doing.  So do it already! 

My first bias binding :)  Aww ain't it cute?

3. Take your time

It took me a long time to learn this.  I consciously decided that when I was making my coat that I would be very zen about it.  I took my time, did everything properly, and importantly, when I was getting sick of it or frustrated, called it a day.  

Chances are you're making your own garments for a reason, be it you want something that fits better, you're not happy with the choices in stores, you have something particular in mind or you enjoy making things.  Regardless of your reason, you are going to get wayyy better results if you slow down, think about what you're doing and be patient. 

I really recommend enjoying every step in the process and always being mindful and present in your sewing.  I personally find all crafting beautifully meditative, and can lose hours this way.  Not a bad thing I reckon. 

Just enjoying my hobby, my buddy chilling with me. 

4. Be proud 

This should go without saying.  You made something! You are fucking awesome and you should feel as such! Tell people you made it!  Wear your makes to work, play, shopping and tell people you made it!  Bask in the compliments - of which there will be many! Share your works on Sewing Pattern Review, Instagram, Handmaker's Factory.  Connect with others who appreciate your craft. Hell, write blog posts sharing your makes and ideas with other seamstresses!!! ;)

So that's about all the wisdom I have to impart.  Do you have any advice for new sewers?  Do you agree with me?  Do you disagree with me?  Either way, I'd love to know.