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.


29 October 2014

FO: pretty pleats

If you're looking for a sewing confidence boost, might I suggest making an item without a pattern?  It's very empowering and you really feel like you are levelling up as a seamstress, even if you are only sewing a few rough rectangles together.

This one is slightly more involved only because there's a centre back seam, which I actually prefer because the zip sits nice and neat and out of the way.

I used Leanne Barlow's fantastic gilded skirt tutorial for this one.  Not a lot to say really, it came together spectacularly simply.  The fabric makes it I think, I get a shit tonne of compliments every time I wear this piece :)

Many thanks to Lydia for becoming my photographer! Our very appropriate location was the Conservatory in the Fitzroy Gardens.

Pattern:  Gilded Skirt tutorial.  I can see this being extremely versatile, and do intend on making a few more in a variety of fabrics.  I especially like the tapered waistband for a better fit.  This will be my go-to waist band now.  Those typical DIY skirts with the square waistband never seem to fit as well.
Fabric:  Printed cotton sateen from Spotlight.
Notions:  invisible zip closure, 12" I think.


21 October 2014

Apple cinnamon muffins

I used to looooovvveeeee baking.

Now, I can really not be bothered.

I like eating the things but the making of the things doesn't seem worth it.

Unless it's easy.

Unless it's quick.

Here is a recipe I have tried.  You only need one bowl.  There is no creaming of the butter and sugar (which is like, the worst).  They are delicious.  They have fruit in them, so they are healthy.  It is not my recipe, I am literally copying it for you from the source (here), with my mods.

apple cinnamon muffins


  • 300g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 150g (3/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 medium (about 375g) Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, chopped 
  • 125g butter or margarine, melted, cooled
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 185mls (3/4 cup) milk

The recipe also calls for raisins, but gross no way.


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare your ingredients. You will need 12 medium (125mls/ 1/2 cup) muffin pans. Line the pans with paper muffin cases because this is easiest and less mess and you can get pretty polka dot cases from Coles. 
  2. Put the plain flour, baking powder and cinnamon together into a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and apples  until well combined.
  3. Whisk together the butter or margarine, eggs and milk until well combined. 
  4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Apparently it gets tough if you mix too much *shrug*
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin pans.
  6. Bake the muffins in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
The recipe says they keep for 1 day, but I have eaten them all week long and they are still tasty.  Don't hate.



15 October 2014

WIP: Seeing double

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Double knitting!  How freaking awesome.

So I find myself knitting a double knit scarf, just in time for this balmy spring weather.  Woo.  As usual, I'm teaching myself.

I google searched 'anchor knitting chart' and found this baby here. I added a few stitches either side, made a contrasting border, some stripes top and bottom and voilĂ !  We have a scarf pattern.  I wanted to keep it simple for my first double-knit and consequently it's a bit too simple as I am now in the no-mans-land of plain stockinette until I reach the other end.  So my initial enthusiasm has worn off somewhat.

So check it.  One side.

And the other.



01 October 2014

FO: Kwik Sew 3521 - house edition

This dress turned out totally bitchin'.  I feel totally bitchin' wearing it too.

 Fabulous basic pattern that I will be making umpteen times more.  This style is super classic and flattering (at least for me).  I love love love the fabric, it just worked right?  I can't even remember what it is or whether it is entirely appropriate for a dress, it came on a roll at spotlight, cotton, on that table with all the Lisette fabrics.  I'm fairly sure it's just a cotton, it has a fair bit of weight to it.

I'd been stressing so so much about making a dress.  Fitting is HARD!  But somehow this came together, it looks and feels like it fits right and there's still enough ease to make it comfortable.  I know there's probably some scientific way to ensure a good fit but I literally just cut the straight M (which was a size smaller than recommended) and upon it feeling too baggy, took an extra half an inch out at each side.

And look - I even matched the pattern at the front!  I feel like a frickin' wizard!  Fabrico Matcho! 

Less successful at the back.  I managed to match the lamp post but must have had a brain fart when cutting out the left side.  Whaaat?  I don't mind at all, I don't think it's fatal.  I still have some work to do in getting my invisible zip skills up there, but I think this one does the job.  I omitted the hook and eye, they always seem so fiddly and I have never used them, even on my rtw dresses.  Do you use them?  Do they have a point?  Do you even care?

Pattern:  Kwik Sew 3521.  As we all know, commercial patterns are BIG.  I cut a size smaller than recommended according to my actual measurements and even then it was a bit on the big side (hence the extra alterations).  The arm scythes are a smidge tight, I've taken out half a cm in my next one which should remedy this.


  • I cut a straight size M and after inserting the zip discovered it was still quite baggy.  I took half an inch off each side of the bodice and it fits like a dream.  
  • Instead of a gathered skirt I made box pleats in the front and back that lined up with the bust darts, which I think are much classier.
  • Fully lined!  Is there anything more luxurious than a fully lined dress?  
  • Length is somewhere between the A and B views.  Couldn't possibly show those knees could I!! 

Fabric:  Some cotton poplin from spotlight.  You know when you see a fabric like a thousand times on visiting the store and can just picture wearing it?  I saw this again and again and finally just fucking bought it.  No regrets bitches! It came in a pink background too - the one I chose has more of a neutral sort of beige background.  I'm girly but I'm not that girly!  And just some plain white cotton lawn for the lining which is super comfortable and light and gorgeous and I love it.

Notions:  22" invisible zip.

Of course I chose the windiest day in history for the photos.  Thanks to my little sis for being my photographer.


Pattern review here

Handmakers factory here

17 August 2014

FO: February Lady

Hey hey look what I made!  It only took me 6 months!

Well, I wasn't like knitting the whole time. As happens with so many of my projects, my initial enthusiasm wore off and this piece spent a bunch of time in hibernation.

What a great pattern! Super easy to memorise.  It grew like a whole bunch.  I knit until it was just sitting on my hips, and you can see the results post-blocking.  And I didn't block it a lot, really just laid it flat.  Also, look how cute the yos are just before the lace on the yoke.

One day I will knit something with some shaping, just wait and see :)

Pattern:  February Lady Sweater.  I made the larger sized 41" bust.  I think I probably could have gone down a size, but I also quite like the coziness of it.  Even thought the fact that it is full of holes kinda makes it a bit useless as a cardigan.  But anyways, I like it.  The buttons were 85c each at Clegs. Big spenda.
Yarn:  Bendigo Woollen Mills (what else?) Luxury 10ply in Autumn Glow, which I think is the perfect way to describe the colour.
Ravelled here.


p.s. thanks lil sis for the photos!  Saw some local wildlife nesting, among a bit of rubbish sadly, but he seems pretty chill.

-Linking with-

Tami's Amis FO Fridays | Fiber Arts Fridays at Wisdom Begins in Wonder | Natural Suburbia for Creative Fridays | I've Made Friday at SusanD1408 Crochet Addict | I ♥ Fridays at Petals to Picots | Muster Party (Fluster Buster)

01 August 2014

FO: Contemporary

Let's ignore the myriad of WIPs that are taunting me. 

Let's cast on new projects just because we can.

Let's knit a super cute hat for ourselves, because we realise we're half-way through winter without a single new hand knit to wear.

Let's use this gorgeous yarn we've scandalously had in the stash for over a year.

Yes.  Let's.

Pattern: Contemporary.  Lovely little pattern with the 3 different sized cables to keep it interesting.  I made this in under a week.  I made this exactly according to pattern, which I rarely rarely do (usually because I sub some different weight yarn).
Yarn:  Madelinetosh Pashmina in Oxblood. Gah this is I think the nicest yarn I've ever used.  It's absolutely luxurious and snuggly, I almost feel bad for using it in an item that won't be up against my skin.  I used about half for this hat.
Ravelled here.

-Linking with-

Tami's Amis FO Fridays | Fiber Arts Fridays at Wisdom Begins in Wonder | Natural Suburbia for Creative Fridays | I've Made Friday at SusanD1408 Crochet Addict | I ♥ Fridays at Petals to Picots | Muster Party (Fluster Buster)

29 July 2014

Colette Albion Coat: Finito

So I'm sure the suspense has been killing you.... but lookie here I finished my coat!

In case it is not blindingly obvious from those photos, I will clarify that I am deliriously happy with this make.  I can see flaws, but it is entirely wearable, beautifully warm, surprisingly durable and I think, just plain cute.

I finished this baby over a month ago now, probably more, so already I am forgetting some of the specifics that went into the making.  I spent a good 2 or 3 hours I reckon on the cutting, doing my darnedest to get the checks to match.  I will go out and say its as close to perfect as it could have been.  (I found this tutorial super helpful if you are looking for a resource)  I did have a brain fart when cutting out the undersleeves so they don't match, but everything else does!

See, look at that boss matching at the side seams.  I was running out of blanket when it came to cutting the patch pockets, but I am very pleased with the off-centre part of the pattern I managed to duplicate for both pockets. 

Ok here's something that's irking me.  Look at those sleeve tabs (incidentally, what is the freaking point of a sleeve tab? But I digress).  Notice anything?  They are ass-backwards.  Now, I have been looking through the flickr group and it seems like I have read the pattern correctly as others have attached them the same as me.  And they match the pattern photos.  But they are WRONG.  And super annoying because they keep getting snagged every fucking where.  Just google "coat with sleeve tabs" and you will see.  Blerg.  Anyway, just putting it out there, you may want to consider flipping them so the button is to the outside of the sleeve.

And here's a flasher photo, so you can marvel at my lining skillz.  I was surprised that the lining was actually not that difficult to install.  Very clever really.  I did have to concentrate super hard when attaching the sleeves together, but then I clicked and everything was fine.

Another small annoyance is how it sits at the bottom.  I'm not sure if I've installed the lining slightly off or if the shell/blanket is just a bit stretched, but have you noticed that bit of sagging in the hem area?  I am being really picky here because I don't really give a hoot, but just something for noting next time.

Oh hey, wanna see the guts?  So I lined the sleeves with a silky fabric to help with slipping it on.  I really could/should have used a fabric with a bit more body but it does the job nicely.  And I get to say I used silk which I have not done so to date.

So for some strange reason I cut L for the sleeves with M body.  Don't ask me why.  I had no issues at all getting the shell sleeves in, they fit perfectly - probably because the wool stretched a bunch.  But the lining sleeves refused to behave so politely.  So I made a little pleat at the shoulder and was done with it.  No sweat. 

I would have finished my coat a lot sooner had I not been stressing out  about making my own toggles.  It took ages to settle on which part of the blanket to use, bias or straight?  Then what size and shape??  Finally I settled on making small squares.  I essentially used a piece of blanket and lining fabrics, sewed around the edge right sides together with the requisite length of cord and toggle positioned as shown.  The cord I chose was a bitch to sew through, and I discovered I had to fiddle with the tension a lot to stop the bobbin thread bunching up (ok that was not very technical, I really didn't know what I was doing and only discovered how to get through it after a fair amount of swearing and fiddling with my machine settings).

I sewed on the toggle things with a  design, partly to really secure it and partly to mirror the pattern in the blanket.  Pic below (with added bonus dodgy matching of the centre facing booo) - before I started this coat I was desperately trying to figure out when the toggles went on and how many layers you sew through.  So the answer is they go on last - and be prepared for the challenge of managing the entire bulk of your coat around your machine.  I pretty much could only do one line of stitching at a time, there's no way I could pivot to do a complete square to stitch these babies on accurately.

So I'm not sure if I can say much more.  Can you tell I totally adore my Albion?  It is a joy to wear, and I have worn it just about every day since finishing.  What is also a joy are the looks of astonishment I get from friends and colleagues when I tell them I made it myself.  No joke, there have been legit double-takes over my awesomeness.

Pattern:  Colette Albion.  I cut a M for the most part, but used L sleeves for some reason.  I think I was afraid, like, my arms wouldn't fit.  Which is ludicrous because they're quite baggy.  I don't think they look too ridiculous now.  

  • narrow shoulder adjustment (which I spoke about here, albeit briefly)
  • added 3 inches of width to the bottom hem, grading out from around the bust area
  • added zip customisation
  • fully lined the patch pockets (no big whoop I'm aware but still.  I don't know why you'd only do a facing)
  • lots of extra interfacing (which I spoke about here)
  • added raglan-style shoulder pads (some info again here)
  • made the hood a bit bigger, I believe I graded out to a L. 
  • used lining fabric for inseam pockets rather than shell fabric to reduce bulk
  • used lining fabric for underside of sleeve tabs
  • used toggle buttons for sleeve tabs, stitched directly onto sleeves (ie no buttonhole)
  • did a flat fell seam on the front arm seam (it is more traditional to do one on the back sleeve, for future reference)
  • Shell: woollen blanket.  Labelled 'Godfrey Hirst 100% Virgin Wool'.  Measured about 2m x 1.7m and I used all but very few scraps.  
  • Lining: cotton quilting fabric, 2m, chevron design from Spotlight and probably around 70cm of grey cotton/silk blend from Darn Cheap Fabrics

  • 5 x toggle closures, ebay
  • elastic drawcord from etsy
  • 22" open end metal zip
  • iron on woven interfacing
And the internet could always use a bit more of my stupid face :)

Many thanks to my little sis Jack for taking the awesome photos (and putting up with me demanding two separate photo shoots) and to Jenny for inspiring me with her gorgeous blanket coat!


Sewing pattern review here

Handmakers Factory here

29 May 2014

FO: Hatchling Cardigan

Babies!  People have babies sometimes.  Not me.  Nope.

But good excuse to knit eh?

Here's a hatchling cardigan.

I made the smallest size but it came out big enough to fit my friend's 16 month old.  It measures 25cm across the chest and 25cm from shoulder to hem.

Pattern: Hatchling cardigan.  Good little pattern.  I knit the sleeves in the round instead of seaming, because I'm cool.  And I didn't have matching buttons so I did a bunch of different ones.  I really like them.  I also did less repeats of the lace, making it more of a cropped cardi.
Yarn:  Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton 8ply in Blush. When will I learn with this yarn?  It knits up lovely and soft but I really need to use smaller needles, and get better at stockinette, look how messy it is?  ugh.
Ravelled here.


-Linking with-
Tami's Amis FO Fridays | Fiber Arts Fridays at Wisdom Begins in Wonder | Natural Suburbia for Creative Fridays | I've Made Friday at SusanD1408 Crochet Addict | I ♥ Fridays at Petals to Picots | Muster Party (Fluster Buster)

14 May 2014

Albion progress

I initially thought I'd have to do a whole series of posts about this coat but it's coming together so easily that it's not giving me very much blog content.  How rude.

I expect this to be the penultimate post about Albion.  I think I've spent more time thinking about this coat and reading about other people's Albions than I've spent sewing my own.

So as I type I have the shell complete and am working on the lining.  Have a look at this.  I'm going to be really annoying and not give it all away.  Just wait til the dramatic reveal yo.

So above is the inside, pre-lining, pre-hood and pre-shoulder pads (!).  I've gone a bit cray-cray with the interfacing.  As recommended by Grainline Studio I have interfaced under the arms, behind pockets and the hem.  I also opted to interface the entire front and back yokes as they were cut on the bias and I was worried about stretch.  The fabric (erm, blanket) I used has a lot less integrity than I initially thought (read:  it's kinda stretchy) so I'm trying to mitigate any serious misshaping before it happens.  I also only cut one layer for the back yoke as I was worried it would be too much bulk for my poor little machine to handle.

Oh and it's pretty heavy!  I was a bit lazy so I didn't staystitch the neckline, thinking the interfacing would negate the need for it, but the weight of the coat ripppped the interfacing - that's why there's a double layer of interfacing up there and some 11th hour staystitching. 

The shoulder before shoulder pads before... and after below!  What a difference eh?  I also flat felled the front seam of the sleeves.  I'm not sure if I should have done the back seam instead?  I saw someone else do it this way and liked it so anyway. 

And a bit of a peek inside.  Shoulder pads (!).  I inserted them according to this tutorial, even though I think the ones I have are more of a raglan style??  Or something.  I also wasn't happy with the 3/8" seam to join the hood so increased it to 5/8".

I'm really loving the lining.  Chevrons are so hot right now, and they kind of echo the stripes in the fabric/blanket (I think).  Now I just need to finish and install the lining and zip, make my own toggle anchor things and add buttons to the sleeve tabs.  Do-able in one weekend?

I think this is going to be an awesomely cheerful coat and I am really excited to finish and wear it :)

Check out all of my alibon posts (lol all 2 of em).