Yanta Overalls

Hey guys, I’ve just spent a great deal of the weekend making these Yanta Overalls from some linen in my stash and buttons from the local flea market. The pattern is from Helen’s Closet. I’m really pleased with how they worked out – perfect for keeping cool on a warm day.

The pattern was listed as Intermediate level, and I think that’s fair. I did have a lot of trouble with the top of the back where the straps join onto the body, but managed a finish which looks good on the outside. (We won’t discuss what it looks like on the inside….lucky nobody can see it.) I didn’t put the included pockets on the front of the hip/leg area as I thought it was a bit of overkill. But I still have the pieces and may come back and put them on later. That said, if I was ever to make them again, I’d probably include some side pockets because my hands seem to be fishing around looking for somewhere to land. The part where I spent most time wasting were the buttonholes. I swear that my electronic Bernina can smell fear. After many attempts on scrap fabric, I gave up, pulled out the vintage one and got them right first time.

Tip: Wash Away Wonder Tape helped secure the pockets in place before I sewed them. It’s a very fine, double sided tape which also makes life much easier for helping line up zips and hems.


A Street Library

I’ve been away for such a long time.  I’ve been doing many things and looking for inspiration and figured that I really should return to contributing the sharing of ideas.  Prepare yourself for some regular updates as I go through some of the things I’ve been up to in my absence.

street library main

So, Street Libraries.  They seem to be popping up everywhere in Sydney’s Inner West recently.   As a lover of books, fun art and and paying it forward, it seemed like the perfect fit for me.   So at my request, hubby bought a flat pack from streetlibrary.org for me for Christmas.   He put it together and I spent lots of January painting it.  I designed the artwork to reflect my local area: Lots of little houses and terraces all mashed in together.

I haven’t picked up a paintbrush for a very long time, and having exactly zero in the way of art training, I needed a design which was easy but punchy.  Much of my inspiration came from random line drawings of funky houses on Pinterest.

All the buildings were created using masking tape to create borders for me to paint inside.  Start with the rear houses.  Creae a box shape for the house.  When it’s dry, add triangle roof.  When that’s dry, add box for windows and doors etc.  Just keep layering it all up and then draw around the edges with a Sharpie pen to add some punch.  Two or three coats of lacquer, register it and it’s done.

street library side  street library front

Initial update was slow, but it’s very much used now.  I love glancing out the window to see someone perusing the books.  And it’s great if I’m outside and strike up a conversation with someone who’s there.   I’ve met some lovely people and the library itself has received much love.

Take a book. Give a book. Share a book.

A much loved mock up

A couple of years ago I discovered the idea of making mock ups before sewing the real thing.    More recently, I discovered the ‘wearable mockup’.     This is my first wearable mockup and I’ve worn it to death.   With the record breaking summer we’re currently experiencing, there’s nothing better than loose linen.    The linen was from the stash of an old school friend’s mother’s estate.   I wasn’t sure about the fabric pattern, but with my daughter’s encouragement I’ve grown to love it.


The dress is a mash up of New Look 6803 and my own sloper.   I took out the fancy neckline because my goal was simply to make sure the basic fit was OK. Since this photo was taken, I’ve picked up a perfect white, summery necklace which adds the little bit of extra detail the dress needs.

I did end up having a go at Version C of the pattern using black linen, but the neckline didn’t sit right, the linen was too heavy and I looked completely overwhelmed by the whole thing.   But the mockup was just perfect.


Not quite McCalls 7022

Wow, it’s been far too long since my last update.   I’ve got a few new things to load, but getting the photography done seems to be the major sticking point for me.

Since I last updated the blog, I completed a pattern drafting course at Sydney Community College . It was a terrific course where we learned to work with block patterns and made perfectly fitting slopers.    The women (and one guy) in the course were lovely.   We ranged in age from about 22 to 50 and all had sewing in common.

Using my newfound knowledge and some plaid fabric I’d bought at my favourite sewing upcycling store, I decided to draft and sew a woolen skirt based on McCalls 7022


The pattern has a bias cut yoke which sits below the waist and inward facing pleats on the side.

While my drafting of the pattern went really well, I struggled with the bias cut yoke stretching.   Why is it that I never remember to stay stitch the edges?!

In our course, our teacher had taught us about using ‘Tearaway’ to help stabilise curved and bias seams.  Also the idea of ironing the newly cut piece straight onto interfacing and then cutting the interfacing around the fabric was an epiphany.    So after getting the yoke back into shape, I was in business.


We also learned that pleats should face outwards, not inwards.   However, I decided to try them facing inwards because it’s what I was inspired by.   Big mistake.  Those inward facing pleats were very unflattering and made me look far much wider.   Likewise, the dropped waist was incredibly unflattering.   The upshot being that I essentially copied the pattern but changed it so that the pleats faced inwards and with the waist sitting at natural level.  I also lined the skirt because the wool was quite itchy at first.   After a few washes, it feels much nicer.




So here’s the final version.   I spent lots of time getting the plaid balanced each side and also lined up perfectly on the back seam and zip.

I think I spent half of winter in this skirt.   It’s just so comfy and flattering.


Truly Victorian TV110


Today is bright, cold and wintery – the perfect day to catch up on some photography.   Get dressed, run outside, take photos and run back inside to the warmth.

This is my first attempt at Truly Victorian’s TV110 pattern.  I really liked the shaping of the pattern – it’s perfect for a modern figure which wants a bit of shaping but not tight-lacing. I adjusted the measurements a little, but I largely followed the pattern.

I completely fell in love with the lace I used around the top of the bust line.   I found it at Hobbysew’s Top Ryde store and it just screamed out needing to be bought.

Will definitely use this pattern again.


A scrappy retro coloured quilt

retro fabricsRemember these fabrics I bought?  Well I finally finished the quilt I had planned for them.    I sourced the rest of the fabrics from patchwork stores, but these made a good bit of inspiration.

There was very little method in this quilt – the only rule was that I’d  make blocks which were 13″ tall and join them to make strips, each strip being the width of the quilt. When I had enough strips to complete the quilt, I just joined them together.   To make the blocks, I basically just sewed bits on bits and if it got too wide or tall, I’d trim off sections and use them to start the next section.   It was a lot of fun, but I’m desperate to do something more orderly for my next quilt.

scrappy retro quilt


The quilting is all ‘in the ditch’.   I was originally planning to do different decorative quilting stitches in each square, but it became apparent very early on that it would look far too busy.

One of my quilting friends made the observation on the finished product “lots of the fabrics are really ugly, but together they really work”.   As this was my intention, I guess I will call it a success.


My son fell in love with it and decided to have it on his bed.   Now his bedroom is Star Wars black and red and it looks kind of odd in there.   But hey, I’m just glad that it’s being loved.

scrappy retro quilt bed

Problems? Let me count them


black flocking corset

This one nearly killed me.   It was a pattern which I’d used successfully a number of times before, but I just make mistake after mistake on it.  Some were silly mistakes and some were ‘learning activities.’

The exterior fabric itself was all upcycled.   The black and grey flocked material on the four front panels was upcycled from a skirt I found at a goodwill store.    The black velvet on the other panels came from my favourite fabric upcycling place – The Fabric Cave.  I know I keep plugging this place, but if you’re in Sydney, it’s well worth a look.

Problem #1 (Learning experience).    My first choice for the plain black panels was black cotton.  I found the blackest cotton I could, but it just looked lame next to the dark black flocking on the front panels.    I then remembered that I had some black velvet in my stash so I decided to try it instead.   Start unpicking all the cotton from the coutil backing.

Problem #2 (faulty fabric).   Replaced the cotton with the velvet and have it looking fabulous with a good fit.  Then the velvet pile started coming loose and left the corset looking like it has mange.    Start unpicking it all again

Problem #3, 4, and 5 (learning experience).   I headed to the Fabric Cave for some replacement velvet and found the perfect stuff.   Put it all back together again and find the busk is no longer sitting straight.   Not just a little off, but way off.   And the lacing at the back is also off.

Thought that perhaps it was because I didn’t sew the panels all in the same direction, so unpick and re-sewed the panels.   No luck.   4. Try again.   Thought it was perhaps because of the velvet, so I unpicked the velvet from the coutil and re-sewed the coutil only.   No luck.    I’m really wanting to give up at this stage, but the technical part of my brain is determined to find cause and solution    5.  Try again.  Finally I compared the flocked panels at the front and found they weren’t sitting identically.   Turns out that because the length of the sides weren’t absolutely identical, I’d joined the panels on left and right unevenly.    Note to self: make sure all pattern pieces have absolutely matching seam lengths.

Problem 6.   Don’t iron velvet flocking.  Just don’t.   Part of the flocking now has a dull patch on it.   Thankfully it wasn’t destroyed, but still……

I’m pleased to say that I’ve worn this a few times and it was worth persevering.  I am finally happy with it.  I could have given up, but I think I would have stayed irritated at not knowing why it sat unevenly.




McCalls M6959

Catching up blogging on my December activities.   This is the dress I wore for Christmas day.  I decided on McCalls M6959 because it’s a wrap around – which would give lots of space for the obligatory Christmas day food baby.


I had to do yet another full bust adjustment (FBA) because of awful gaping at the armholes.   This most recent FBA has inspired me to finally learn how to draft a sloper and make my own patterns.   I’ve booked into a course starting early Feb 2016 – can’t wait!

Anyway, I ran with view B.   It was quite simple to make and very comfy to wear.   I’d possibly use a bigger Christmas print if I made it again, but this worked well for the day.   The other thing I’d do differently is leave the collar off if loosening of the garment is to be expected – as the collar ends up uneven if the dress isn’t tied at exactly the point where it’s initially fitted.

All in all, I was quite happy with it.   Now, if only I’d managed to find some perfect red Christmas shoes!

christmas dress

Black Brocade Underbust

Oh I had a lot of fun with this one.   The client is my daughter’s friend who has a wonderful curvy shape and was so enjoyable to work with.   If I could dedicate myself to dramatic curves I’d be very happy.

Technical aspects:  Black brocade basted onto coutil with a cotton lining.  I double boned each seam.    As the wearer is only 16, I wasn’t comfortable with giving her a large reduction so we just stuck with 2″ reduction.  Not that it matters because she has such a great natural hip spring.    I extended the top and bottom of the back for both dramatic effect and to prevent any over spill of flesh.

She is delighted and so am I.

black brocade1

black brodade rear

black brocade1 (2)


New Look 6952

I’ve been looking for fitted shirts lately.   All the fashion stores have very loose tops which  look terrific on some women – but they really aren’t flattering on me.

I so found New Look 6952 and thought I’d give it a go.   I tried to find it at my local Spotlight store but they didn’t have it.   No surprises there – I seem to have terrible luck finding the patters I want in Spotlight.  And am I the only one who has a yearning to go and re-sort all of Spotlight’s patterns in the drawers? It drives me nuts when they are all mixed up!   Anyway, I found a pattern on Etsy which had been pre-cut in my size.     I hate cutting out pattern bits so this was a win.

I chose view D.    Can’t beat a sleeveless top for summer.

new look 6962

I made a mockup and found lots of armhole gaping.  Standard outcome for those of us who have a generous amount of bust.   I altered the bust line using this technique and got a much better fit.

After the basic adjustment, the pattern was easy to follow.   My fabric was single sided so I had to add a facing at the front top of the shirt.   If you want to avoid making a facing, be sure to choose double sided fabric.   I also made my own bias binding instead of using pre-made.   I much prefer bias which matches.

Here’s the end result.   I’m rather happy with it

new look 6952