Thursday, November 13, 2014

Look away.....its another Elsa dress!

I was beginning to think that I was the only Mother of Daughters Who Sews that hadn't made an Elsa dress!

But Miss C has decided that she wants to sing Let it Go at her end of year school Talent Quest which explains why I am currently knee deep in blue satin and glitter tulle.

And I have to admit, 7 year old me would have chopped off my waist length hair in exchange for an Ice Princess gown!

So I am more than happy to jump on the Frozen bandwagon, although I wasn't too happy about having to pay (gasp) full price for the fabric. While I had some vintage patterns that I was able to mash together to get the general feel of the dress, aqua blue polyester satin and sequins are not usually found in my stash. Still, the popularity of Elsa meant that the fabric was pretty easy to source online at a reasonable price, so all up the dress should come in just under $30.

I am using the bodice from the ballerina dress, and the skirt from the cheesy 1970's flower girl dress to make the dress. The ballerina skirt was just a gathered rectangle, whereas the 70's dress has a flared and gathered skirt which I think will give a nicer silhouette and provide a bit more leg room if Miss C decides to incorporate some Queen Elsa moves into her performance! (As an aside, I think that my only beef with the movie is that Elsa's dress errs a bit too much toward Jessica Rabbit for my liking. I did have to explain at quite some length as to why Miss C's dress would not be 'off the shoulder" like Elsa's!)

I just know what is going to happen when the twins cop an eyeful of Miss C in her Elsa glory though, so I bought a bit extra of all the fabrics to make 3 year old versions as well!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Vogue 1300 dress as a top

There is really not much to say about this make, except for the basics....and some pics!

Vogue1300  DKNY dress
I made the size 10, grading out to a 12 at the hip. If I make this again I will just cut a straight size 10 as there is plenty of room in the hips.
V1300, Misses' Dress and Slip
A bottle green rayon which is not usually a colour I wear, and looks dreadful with denim,but teams pretty well with a lighter bottom like a biege chino.

Sewing details
This really was a super simple pattern to make. I shortened the length of the dress and the drapey bit to just below hip length. Left off the back opening as it goes easily over my head. I also left the drape edge raw. I did initially hem the edge as per the pattern instructions, but this looked pretty horrible so I just cut it off. I will need to 'maintain' the edge by trimming the hairy bits every now and then, but the fabric drapes a lot better without a hemmed edge.
I also left out the pockets.

I really like how this turned out. It won't be an everyday top in this fabric, but I can see a lot of possible variations. I would like to try how this works in a stripe jersey next, but as I have now pretty much decided that my knees are no longer suitable for public viewing, I don't think I will be trying a dress version!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Some DKNY indulgence

It’s been a while since I made anything for myself, and its been a long while since I made anything fancy!

And as all three of my girls are pretty well sorted for summer clothes, I think that I can spend a bit of time doing some self indulgent sewing before I have to get on top of the Christmas sewing jobs.
                          V1308, Misses' Jumpsuit

                     V1300, Misses' Dress and Slip

I have had these two Vogue DKNY patterns in the stash for a while, they should be pretty easy to sew up and I just happen to have the right fabrics in the stash for both of them, so I am going to ignore the fact that I don’t actually need any clothes like this and just have some sewing fun.

I have an emerald green rayon that I will use for the dress, but will shorten to top length, and I have some black linen/rayon blend fabric for the jumpsuit.

It’s school holidays here at the moment, so if I can park the kids in front of a movie on a day or two I might get these sewn up pretty quickly!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

By bye Burda..........hello Pochee!

This is the year that I have finally said goodbye to my Burda subscription. I have been a subscriber since 2008, and realised that I now have a pretty good library of just about every skirt, pant, jacket and top pattern that I am ever likely to get from Burda.

I realised that I usually make only one or two patterns from each issue, and sometimes none at all, so in terms of my pattern budget it does end up being a bit of a luxury.

And now that Burda is releasing their new styles as individual downloads at Burdastyle, then I figure that if there is a pattern that is totally different to what I already have, I can download it when required. While I am a bit sad that I won’t be getting the glossy pattern goodness in my mailbox each month, I am happy that I have amassed a pretty great library of wearable patterns.

So what did I do now that I no longer subscribe? Go out and spend my money on more pattern books!

I noticed that Burda tends to have a fairly slim fitting style (think pencil skirts and narrow trousers) and I felt that I needed some basic, looser fitting styles, especially for summer.

So I ordered these three issues of Sewing Pochee magazine. Click on the links for more info as to what is inside.

I have to say though, that getting three at once has been a bit much, as there are a lot of patterns in each one and it is going to take a bit of time to digest what is inside.

But at first glance, the thing I am most impressed with is this handy little graphic, a key that shows you where each pattern piece for a particular style is on the pattern sheet, Burda please take note!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jacket with the works

Its got quilting, a hood, snaps, vintage hot pink velvet ribbon and it’s made from shiny silver leopard print taffeta……… ack!

What a pity it’s not my size!

Looks good on Miss C though.

Miss C has had a recent growth spurt which just happen to coincide with a bitterly cold gust of winter, so my plans of squeezing her into last years jacket went out the window faster than Jack Frost came in.

While we are not a particularly outdoorsy family, no camping, hiking or fishing happens much ‘round here, we do walk pretty much everyday, so a warm jacket is pretty vital to our winter wardrobe.

So while I had no intentions to do any seriously hard concentrating type of sewing this season, I realised that I did need to get something together for her. Or buy something, which didn’t seem nearly as appealing.

Here are the deets


Vintage McCalls pattern, dated 1977. Size 8.
I have had this one in the stash for quite some time.
It is described as an unlined jacket with raglan sleeves, hood and front button fastening.
I did have to do quite a bit of work to turn this into a warm jacket but it was a great shell to start from.

Outer layer: nylon leopard print taffeta (bought for $2 m from Spotlight)
Inner layer: premium, thick polar fleece, in baby pink of course
Lining: mystery shiny stuff from the stash, again in pink.
Hood lining: silver mesh, long time stash resident, circa late last century.
Cuffs: mystery rib knit from the stash.
Trim: vintage hot pink nylon velvet ribbon for the hood and hem and silver snaps for closures.

Sewing Notes

I think I have trumped myself on last year’s jacket, which only got a couple of outings. This took quite a while of thinking and deliberating and while not necessarily hard to sew, everything needed to be done accurately and in the right order. I tossed around different fastening and pocket ideas but in the end went easy on myself and chose the simplest options to sew.

I cut the body, sleeves and hood from the taffeta and polar fleece fabrics and quilted these together and then treated this as a single piece of fabric.

I cut the lining from the same pattern pieces, sewed these together and then used this to underline the jacket, so it is not really a true lining but does the job of hiding all those messy seams.

I needed to draft a back facing for the neck, the pattern had a different finish as it was not originally lined, and I cut a third layer, the mesh fabric, for the hood lining.

The velvet ribbon was used to trim the hood and jacket hem and I made some pocket flaps to add to the patch pockets.

I used metal snaps instead of buttons and buttonholes and used some grey ribbing to finish the sleeves instead of the original elastic casing.

While it does seem a bit of a hodge podge of fabrics and textures, some bits are new, some bits are old, I think it has come together quite nicely. All up, and not considering the value of my time, this jacket cost just under $30 to make. Which I think would be about half the price of something similar in RTW so I will count that as a win!

And I got this finished just in the nick of time for Pattern Review’s outerwear contest. Yay me!

While I did enjoy making this, the project has sucked all of my sewing mojo out of me, so I expect I will be floundering a bit sewing wise for a while. I don’t have anything that NEEDS to be made right now so things could be quite for a while!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Jaywalk dress......brrrrr!

Let me start by saying that this isn't exactly how I imagined wearing this dress when I started making it!

When I first got the fabric we were in the middle of a balmy, warm Autumn and so I had breezy summer dresses, cossies and thongs on my mind.
In the time it has taken me to sew it (and unpick it a few times but let's not dwell on that bit!), the weather has turned and there is a definite chill in the air, and lets just say that I am too soft to suffer (and freeze) for my art!
So here is my Jaywalk dress, worn over a spencer and a pair of velvet jeans. I did have a scarf as well but that just tipped the look over from "transeasonal" to just plain wrong!

And now for the nuts and bolts!

The pattern

Style 4152 dated 1984
I used this vintage pattern from the stash as a starting point, cutting the short sleeve, non cowl view off at just above the waistline. I then just made a big rectangle from the remaining fabric and gathered this on to the bodice.

What went wrong
Initially I cut both sections of the bodice in the Jaywalk fabric, but the skirt was too heavy and causing all sorts of horrible dragging at the side seam. I realised that I would need to use a woven for the side panels to hold up the weight of the skirt and fortunately I had some stripe cotton seersucker that was just the right weight and was an interesting print contrast to the larger Jaywalk stripe. So I unpicked the skirt and the side panels (I kept the panels intact so I may just use them to make a top later on down the track), replaced the side panels with the new fabric and sewed the skirt back on.

For the second go at the skirt, I used some Tessuti ribbon as a waist stay and this seemed to help stabilise the weight of the skirt.

Shameless attempt at getting extra points in the competition!

Other garment details

Dress inside back

A number of my RTW t shirts have a small mock facing on the back, and I thought it would be fun to add another print to the dress. This is simply a piece of spotty viscose jersey, cut, fused and overlocked and then stitched to the back.

I also used a coral pink jersey for the neck binding to add a pop of colour and break up the monochrome a bit.

And I used some large vintage rayon ric rac for the bodice seaming which also helps prevent those seams from stretching out.

I nearly gave up on this dress a couple of times during the make (and probably introduced the girls to a few words that they probably shouldn't be hearing just yet!), but I am glad that I persevered,.as I think it will be a great summer dress. I can imagine wearing it over some denim shorts or cutoffs in spring and then as a dress as it gets hotter.

Here is one last look.

And as Tigger would say TTFN, I am pooped and ready for a non sewing long weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The dress dilemma

Dresses have always frightened me. When I was younger, dresses seemed to be for the older, more together kind of woman, the Mad Men type, with a proper job and responsibilities and you know, a lifestyle.

Now that I am older, I am afraid that the kind of dresses that appeal to me now are too young for me.

Last summer was the first time that I have really given some thought to making dresses for myself.

Out of the two dresses that I made, my ikat dress was worn just about every week and I always got compliments when I wore it. And it was supremely cool and comfy to wear.

The maxi was worn once to a special event. While I like the style, it is a bit more streamlined and grown up than the ikat, it is just to impractical for everyday.

This is currently my Favourite Dress of All Time, and is  similar to the high waist style of the ikat. But is this style really too young for me?
Chop Chop dress by Gorman

And the reason that I have dresses on my mind, is that I purchased some of Tessuti’s Jaywalk fabric from their current sewing competition.

I originally bought it thinking that I would put it into the stash and sew up a few simple tees for next summer. But when the fabric arrived, I realised that it was such a lovely quality that it probably deserved to be a bit more special than a T shirt.

Which brings me back to the dress dilemma. I only have 1 metre of each colourway so anything I make will have to combine both colourways, and the fabric is surprisingly heavy so anything too bulky ie with lots of draping or gathering might be tricky.

And there is only 2 weeks left before the deadline, so I really should stick with something that I know will fit and not be too tricky sewing wise. Or maybe I should just go back to sewing elastic waist leggings for the kids!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Big kids winter wardrobe ......done!

While I have been spending my evenings working on the Lucy La La pattern, I have been able to accomplish quite a bit of sewing during the day. And I am happy to report that all of the pieces (bar the raincoat, that is on the shelf for next year) that I wanted to make for her for winter are now done. And what's even better is that every piece is being worn on a weekly basis!

The last pieces that I have finished are 2 versions of this Burdastyle pattern.

Burdastyle 10/2013
I made the dress in a size 122 which means she will still get some wear out of it next year.
I left out the pockets as my fleecy fabric was quite thick and I also left out the colour blocking detail on the sleeves, but other than that there are no other changes.

 For the 2nd version, I made it shorter and used a printed fleecy for the front, omitting the colour blocking detail.

I did try different hem treatments for the sleeve frills. For the dress I left the edge raw, and for the sweater top I turned the hem under and topstitched. I think I prefer the raw edge, it does tend to need a trim every time I wash it, but it is not as bulky as the hemmed edge.

My only real issue with this pattern is that the ribbing for the hem needs to be just a fraction tighter, but other than that I can see that this is going to be a very useful pattern. It is an easy sew, no fitting issues except for perhaps length, and there are lots of different colour and fabric combos that would be fun to play around with.

And now that I have Miss C kitted out for the cold months ahead, I am going to indulge in a little selfish sewing for me!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lucy La La skirt tutorial

As promised, here is a more detailed (with pics!) sewing tutorial for the Lucy La La skirt pattern.

If you haven't already downloaded the pattern, you can do so here.

I mentioned in the intro post that the sewing instructions in the pdf were pretty brief. This was mainly to save on printing, but also because the skirt itself is a pretty straightforward sew.

But being a visual learner myself ( I need to see someone do something to be able to do it myself), I know pics can be useful when learning to sew, so the following is a pictorial rundown of how to cut out and sew the skirt.

1. Cutting layout.

In all my testing of the pattern, I used fabric that was 150cm wide, and was easily able to cut the skirt out of 40cm of fabric. I have suggested to use 50cm however, which means you can cut from 115cm or 150cm wide fabric and have a bit left over. I like having leftovers because they are great to have on hand for making bias binding, quilts and especially last minute gifts!

If you are using a fabric with a nap, such as a corduroy or a one way print then you will need extra fabric.

                                       Cutting layout for 150cm wide fabric with no nap

You will notice that the Front/Back and Side Yoke pattern pieces are butted up against each other. I like to do this whenever I have pieces with straight edges as it makes the cutting go faster and saves on fabric which is always a good thing!

2. Sewing the Skirt

    Sew side front yoke panels to centre front yoke panel.
    Sew side back yoke panels to centre back yoke panel.

    The front and back of the skirt are the same, and you will notice that there are no side seams. 
    The wider piece is the centre panel for the front and back and the narrower piece is the side. 
    While it is simple for an adult to see this, I sewed a label into the 'back' of my skirts so that my
    daughter wouldn't have any trouble getting dressed by herself.

    Sew side skirt panels to centre front skirt panel.
    Sew side skirt panels to centre back skirt panels.
    Finish yoke and skirt seam edges, press seams towards side of skirt and topstitch.

Yoke seams pressed and topstitched

Skirt seams pressed and topstitched

     Sew skirt to yoke, matching seams.

Skirt pinned to yoke

    Finish skirt seam edge, press seam toward yoke and topstitch.
    Finish waist edge and press along casing line.

    Elastic casing
Note: I have used Kathleen Fasanella’s method of inserting the waist elastic without the use of a safety pin. This is a great method and one I have not come across in a home sewing context. I have briefly outlined the method here, but for a more detailed tutorial please go and have a look at the Fashion Incubator site where she has posted an excellent and more detailed tutorial

Cut elastic to fit waist, allowing an extra 2cm seam allowance. Sew elastic to form a loop.

Waist casing pressed and elastic loop

     Place elastic loop inside casing and sew down casing.

    Finish hem edge, turn up 1cm and topstitch.

    I have suggested topstitching the hem, but there are other methods you could try here.
    Blogless Anna has made a lovely pink version using bias binding for the hem, which has lots of potential for
    mixing colours and prints, or you could use other trims such as lace or ric rac to finish the hem. Because it is a
    curved hem, a fairly narrow hem is the way to go, or some fabrics such as a stable knit like ponte could even
    be left as a raw, cut edge.

   And now your skirt is done! I hope this tutorial is helpful, if you have any questions please feel free to leave a
   comment or contact me by email, I am more than happy to help with any questions you may have!

   And happy sewing!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Introducing the Lucy La La skirt pattern!

Free for you to download! Click here!

Finally, after a couple of weeks of computer wrangling, I have managed to get this pattern on the blog. I have to admit to being very behind the times when it comes to technology, I am still running XP on my computer for Pete’s sake! And I haven’t really had any need to do any fancy document work since I was last working, which is almost a decade ago (eep, where did that time go!) and I don’t have any graphics software on my current system so everything has been done by hand.

Still, the skirt is a cute style, Miss C loves her 2 versions to death and has been wearing them whether they are laundered or ironed or not, so I am more than happy to share this with anyone who fancies making one up for a loved one.

A few points before you download:

The skirt is only one size. I drafted this to fit Miss C who is a petite 7 year old, and the skirt is roughly equivalent to an Australian size 6.

You are more than welcome to grade the pattern up or down to fit. I haven’t done any proper grading since design school so it isn’t something I am confident to do at this time.

I have only ever made patterns that I have sewn myself. In other words, I have never been a production patternmaker, so I do tend to get a bit lazy with notches and other details. If there is anything missing that you think is essential to sewing this pattern successfully please let me know!

And the sewing instructions in the pdf are pretty brief. This is a fairly basic style and there isn’t really any tricky sewing techniques needed, but I will post a more detailed step by step sewing process with photos here on the blog in the next few days.

Oh, and if you are curious about the name, when Miss C was a preschooler we used to make up stories together when we were in the car or waiting around. One of the main characters was a girl called Lucy La La who had some great adventures, and who also had a sidekick, a spinning blue dinosaur who had the handy knack of being able to travel in time. I even wrote down a few of the stories and Miss C still remembers quite a few of the adventures that we made up, so I thought it was fitting to call this pattern after Lucy!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kids Clothes Week Day 7

Phew! The house is a diabolical mess, but I did manage to get two garments completed for Miss C for this coming season. Some days I could only just manage to get an hour of sewing done, other days I managed a bit more, but all up I am pretty happy with what she has hanging in the wardrobe.

Because it is Sunday, and I have promised the family that there will be dinner on the table at a reasonable hour tonight, I will just show off a few pics and a bit of info about the garments for now.

Burdastyle 12/2011
Size 122cm

Grey marle cotton jersey from The Remnant Warehouse.

Sewing notes
A very easy pattern to sew, and for once Burda’s instructions are pretty easy to follow.
Pattern Review is here with all the details.

Mine! Roughly an Australian size 6.

Black cotton chambray. It is probably a tad stiff for this style, but hopefully it will soften a bit with wear and tear.

Sewing notes

An easy, quick sew. I topstitched the seams with light grey thread. This is my third version of this skirt, and I am pretty happy with the pattern now, so I shall be releasing it into the wild this week!

Friday, April 11, 2014


I have been sewing like a demon for KCW this week (in amongst the glitter frenzy of making 3 Easter hats for the school parade that is), and have managed to complete a dress and a third and final sample of my flouncy skirt pattern for Miss C.

Hopefully the rain will hold off over the weekend and I can get some good shots.

But in the meantime, here is a flashback to a top that I made Miss C for her seventh birthday earlier this year. And I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed to say that this is the first promised garment for a special occasion that actually got made in time for said special occasion!

Is from Burdastyle 06/2011. I made the 116cm size and it is a great fit on Miss C who was exactly 116cm tall when I made it a few months ago.

A lovely lightweight cotton chambray that was leftover from this shirt.

Sewing notes
Not much to say about this, it was a pretty straightforward top to sew. The frilly bits and the straps took a bit of time but were not particularly difficult. And while Burda’s instructions were typically brain numbingly confusing, the pattern drafting is excellent.

And while I made this for summer, it is proving to be a good between seasons top, as it looks good over t-shirts and skivvies and leggings.

And thank you for the interest in the skirt pattern. I have cleaned it up, scanned it and it is now almost ready to go. Just needs a final print and tape check to make sure the file is good and it should be up on the blog sometime next week!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Anyone fancy a free skirt pattern?

I scoured the local op shops on Saturday for a skirt pattern for Miss C, but drew a blank.

Lots of vintage patterns for bubbas and 3-4 year olds but not much for the older kid.

So I ended up drafting one from scratch.
Here it is, made up in what was left of the chambray spot after I made her leggings.

It is essentially a four gore skirt with a yoke and flared skirt, and an elastic waist.

This is my first version, and the pattern does need a bit of tweaking, the yoke needs to be shortened a tad, and because I was initially just making it for me to sew, there are no notches or other pattern markings.

But it is a cute style and a pretty easy sew, so I thought I might have a go at making it into a pdf pattern as a free download.

So what do you think? Any takers?

And as far as the plan for KCW next week goes, the raincoats have been put in the ‘too hard for now” pile. I made a half hearted attempt at tracing Miss C’s size last night, but realised that I just don’t have the mental fortitude to attempt putting together two jackets at this time.

So it will probably be a few more elastic waist leggings and T-shirts for Miss C instead!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

These aren't my legs.......

They’re Miss C’s! 

I cut these leggings out the other night, and seeing as I didn’t have any other sewing ready to go (I can happily ignore the mending/alterations pile for another month or so!) I couldn’t wait until the start of KCW to sew them up.

They only took a day (in between school pickup, playgroup activities and a trip to the shops that is) to make up, they fit Miss C without any alterations, and the best bit is that she thinks they are pretty cool.

I made the 116cm size for Miss C, who is actually a smidge taller but skinny, so I am glad I didn’t cut a larger size. There is a bit of growing room for her, so hopefully we will get another seasons wear out of these.

Cotton elastane one way stretch denim. This is actually a dark navy/grey in real life. 

Sewing notes
I used a zig zig stitch to sew the crotch seam, I figured that this area would need a stretch stitch! All other seams are straight stitch with an overlocked edge.
Lengthened leg by 3cm for growing room.
Topstitched outside leg seams and waistband.
I used Kathleen Fasanella's excellent waistband elastic tutorial to do the waistband. If you have always struggled with pushing a safety pin through a waist casing, go check this out!

I really like the shaped waist on these pants, the front is a little lower than the back and this gives a really nice fit. Kids are always on the move, bending, jumping, doing cartwheels in the loungeroom etc, so that bit extra at the back comes in handy!

These are described by Burda as leggings, but they are not really. More like skinny pants. Next time I make these I think I will add some patch pockets on the back and maybe a mock fly to give more of a jeans look. They would be great made up in a ponte or other knit with a bit of body.

And I have just enough of this fabric leftover for a skirt. But I don’t really have a lot of skirt patterns for the big kid, so a trip around the op shops might be in order!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kids Clothes Week: Big Kids Wardrobe

Kids Clothes Week is coming up in a few weeks, and while I have been an avid follower of the 'Week', I haven't actually sewn along as the dates have never really aligned with my available sewing time.

This time around however, KCW is the same week as the last week of school term, so I should be able to participate.

This upcoming week is also the first KCW that has a theme, and this time it is Mini Me, which is kinda cute, and sort of funny for me as Miss C is completely the opposite to me! I have cool colouring; dark hair, fair skin and blue eyes, whereas as she is warm with blonde hair and hazel eyes.

But in either a freaky coincidence or divine serendipity, Burdastyle released this pattern recently

Womens and girls raincape pattern Burdastyle 03/2014
and I just happened to buy this fabric in two different colourways at the Christmas sales.
Leopard print taffeta picked up for $2 metre....bargain!

So I think someone is telling me something: Mum and daughter raincoats!!!!!

I am planning on using the Burda raincoat pattern for Miss C's coat, but I can't see myself putting up with cape like sleeves, so mine will probably be a more traditional parka style. I will have to dig through the stash to see what I find.

And seeing as I am going to the trouble of making a statement raincoat for the kid, I may as well keep the momentum going and get a winter wardrobe happening at the same time. This is what I have pulled from the stash.
L-R charcoal grey corduroy, watermelon jersey, black chambray, grey spot chambray and the leopard taffeta... roar!
I am not sure what patterns I will use, but probably some basics like leggings and jeans to go with the coat, and maybe a skirt and T.

I will probably use mostly Burda patterns, as their fit suits Miss C really nicely, but it means a lot of tracing so I better get cracking! The plan is to trace and cut as much as I can before the Week and then sew like the wind!

Have you started planning for next season yet?