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.


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

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


You want HOW MUCH? I could make it for less!

Almost anyone who’s a professional sewer will be familiar with those who look at their work and say “you want HOW MUCH for that?  Yes, the seamstress will get very tired of hearing this.   While they know that non-sewers have no idea of the skills involved, the number hours and the cost of fabrics it’s still a frustrating response.   And that’s before they’ve paid a small fortune for their machine, overlocker and various other tools.   A professional sewer can’t compete with the mass produced market.  They know that their ideal clients are those who understand that custom made or unique items can’t be made for the same prices as the ones being imported from a third world factory.

I get this.  I may not be a professional sewer, but I do know the cost in time and resources.

And armed with this knowledge, I was looking through the lifestyle section of the weekend paper this morning.   I saw a designer outfit which was really nice.   Not my style, but nonetheless, I really liked the styling of it.   Then Iooked at the price:    Skirt $1,245 and matching blouse $995.  That’s $2240 for a top and a skirt!   You want HOW MUCH for that?   Then add on the $2,720 of accessories the model is wearing and you’ve got an outfit which will set you back a cool $4,960.

designer outfit designer skirt

OK, we can remove the accessories and just look at the blouse and skirt.   As a sewer, for the life of me I cannot justify the cost of this.   Yes, it’s probably gorgeous Italian fabric which will cost a small fortune.  But $2,240?  Really?

The thing which makes this garment so lovely is it’s simplicity.   But it’s that same simplicity which makes me question it’s value.     It’s not much of an alteration on a block pattern.   Yes, for those who don’t have a block pattern, it may need some time consuming tweaking of a commercial pattern….but hey, the original dress would probably need some tweaking for a custom fit on the average figure.

Anyway, this is my rant:  For the life of me, I can’t justify the cost of designer clothing.

Simplicity 1464

It’s a rainy winter’s day and therefore perfect for a blog update – or two.   I’ve just finished making a skirt from Simplicity 1464 pattern and thought I’d do a review.

This skirt started out because I found a lightweight ruffled skirt at Vinnies (thrift store).   The second hand skirt looked more like a slip than an outer skirt, but I liked the ruffles and colour.   I’ve always had a thing for combining different textures and styles so I decided use the skirt as a lining to the Simplicity box pleat skirt pattern.

The fabric for the box pleat skirt is a poly/wool suiting and was great to work with.   The pattern itself is easy to follow but runs HUGE.   I have an 83cm (32.5 in) waist.  I cut a size 18 (about half a size down from recommended), but I probably should have cut somewhere between 14-16.   I trimmed probably another two inches off the waist to get it down to this size, and it’s still a fraction too big.   I guess this will be my “going out to eat” skirt.   If you’re going to do this pattern, trace the pattern and make a muslin waistband first to figure our your sizing – then continue as normal.  Anyway, once I got the sizing right, the rest was easy.

The jury is out regarding my matching of the ruffles and box pleats.   I like it, but a couple of trusted friends aren’t so sure.    Then again, if I like it, this should be all that matters, right?

ruffled skirt1ruffled skirt

I do love a good Bernina

Just picked up this lovely old girl on eBay.   No, she wasn’t a bargain – the seller knew what she was worth – but I’m happy to pay for quality.    She’s built like a tank and purrs like a kitten.   Feels so incredibly solid to use.

Back in the early 1980’s, the textiles rooms at high school had Bernina 830s, so my mother bought an 830 too.   She figured that if they were good enough for a textiles room, it would be a good investment.    It’s still her favourite machine to this day.  And this machine is what I learned to sew on.   No fancy electronics here – this is simply a machine that does exactly as she’s told.  Every time.

I do have one of those fancy electronic machines – a Bernina Virtuosa 155.   Don’t get me wrong, she’s a beatiful machine too.  But can be a little too fussy if I’m trying to make her do things which she probably shouldn’t do.  Like sewing through tacky bits.   And the auto buttonhole feature isn’t working so well (don’t know if it’s the machine or the user) and I can’t figure out how to set the machine for a fully manual buttonhole.   Which leads me back to wanting a fully manual machine.

Sadly, I couldn’t justify the cost of a vintage 830.   But after some research, I decided that I couldn’t go wrong with an 801 model.   Same solid construction, same controls, same brand, same era, cheaper price.  Yep, that’s good enough for me.

My 15yo daughter is delighted with the old lady.  As it turns out, the controls on it are exactly the same as the more recent model she’s now using in her textiles room at school.     It seems the Dep’t of Education have continued their good choice making with their machines. .

bernina 801