Been away and a spine bike

I’ve not posted for a while as I’m working on a Master’s thesis. I’m at the point of wondering if it will ever be done. I have to submit by July.

My eldest lass went to northern France on a school exchange. A week later and there were attacks in Brussels, then Istanbul and then Pakistan. And these are the ones that made the mass media here in Aus.

My lass is fine, so are all her friends and the French families are all OK too. They had planned a trip to Belgium to a chocolate manufacturer. That’s been cancelled and the teachers have planned another expedition within France. I just want her home.

Meanwhile, we’ve had a few birthdays, band concerts and very little sewing. The MAGAM theme for February was my suggestion: Freaky Feb – something that freaks you out. I duly ordered, downloaded, printed and cut out (!) the fabric for a pair of customised trousers from Bootstrap. On February 5th. The pieces plead with me everytime I look at them. I had planned to make several of them = Moreish March (MAGAM again). Yesterday I stitched the back legs together, down the inside leg. ARGH!

I saw this bike when walking. It is a billboard bike for a chiropractor. Back in a few weeks.

 13 (1)  14 (1)

Mum, I need a dress. A good dress!

The elder lass was off to a friend’s party and needed something nice to wear. She didn’t really have anything that was “good” and suitable for hot weather. This was decided on Monday, she needed the dress by Friday afternoon. All good so far.
McCalls 6923

Out came the stash of patterns and fabric.  The elder chose McCalls 6923. I was commissioned to do view B without the lace overlay and with short sleeves. Oh, and shorter than view B but not as short as the shorts.

I bought some vintage silk last year, thinking that the elder would like it. She had to let it sit for a bit before deciding it was “the one”. It is a royal blue with flowers, matt finish.

Next came the alterations.


The elder is a petite and slender lass, a tad smaller than the size 6. I used the ladies size 6 and took 2cm out of the front bodice at the centre front.

 7 (1)

The bodice on my dress form, squished almost enough to match the elder.

 6 (1)


The sleeves were OK, just needed the short length of view A. Then shortened them a bit more…

The elder tried on the bodice and decided she needed a pocket. In the skirt not on the bodice. I cut a pocket piece as well as the skirt.

 1 (1)

The skirt pattern piece was duly shortened to the “right” length. I then put back 5cm, just in case. I eased in the sleeves (perfect drafting), attached the skirt, put in the zip and she tried on the dress.

It was good. I had almost 30 minutes to hem everything, give it a final press and drive her to the party. Done!

 3 (1)

Later she decided that it was too long. Consultation with friends and her very style conscious father resulted in five centimetres coming off the hem. Happy daughter = happy mum.

Bras, my first attempt

The younger is growing up, maturing and suddenly self-conscious about her changing shape. We’d saved the elder’s crop tops and first soft bras. But the younger has different proportions. I offered to make her some new bras, fitted to her. Yes – as long as they were invisible under her clothes and comfortable.

 5 copyI searched online for a bra pattern for a young girl. After years of problems for larger ladies with more bounty the web is full of larger cup bra patterns. Finding a pattern for an AA cup is rather difficult. I ended up on Etsy and found a Soft Bra pattern for small figures.

My first mistake was not reading the pattern instructions. I assumed it was for stretch fabrics. I took out the centre front seam to cut on the fold. I cut out the size that should work for the younger. It was far too long for her ribs. I removed a lot of band length, repositioned the straps and tried again. I took out an extra centimetre from the bridge area. Much better!

This version is in white cotton/lycra with recycled hook and eye closures, rings, and sliders. I used fresh clear elastic for the straps and fresh bra band elastic for the band. This attempt was not lined and was intended as a trial version. She finds it tight around her ribs…

 7 copy

Second attempt – modified for stretch fabrics, with the side seam removed and a bit of band length returned. Cream lycra four way stretch, lined with a lovely thin bamboo jersey. I again used recycled rings and sliders with fresh clear elastic for the strap and picot band elastic. She likes the lining and adjusted pattern. But the clear elastic loosens over the day and the band is too long…



We went to Target for the third and fourth bras. The younger is happy – win!

The next two versions will have standard strap elastic and stronger elastic across the top of the cups and band.

Laptop and pencil case for the elder

The elder lass is clever. Very clever, and loves science. She got herself into a specialist science school for years 11 & 12. Similar to this one. We are incredibly proud and I’m a little stunned that someone related to me is so into science when I was terrible at it! The new school meant a new laptop, which needs a cover. The elder also needed wanted a new pencil case. The lass went shopping at Rathdowne Fabrics. Striped canvas, spotty and starry red cotton and two zips. All good.

 1 (4)

 12First the laptop cover – I found my copy of the DUMD Gadget guard and re-read it. The new laptop is the Surface Pro, according to the web it measures 292.10mm x 201.42mm x 8.45mm. I therefore used those measurements. I made up the cover quickly and it looked good. AND JUST A BIT TOO SMALL!

I measure the Surface Pro and all of a sudden it’s increased to 310mm x 215mm x 10mm. Oh yes, there is the keyboard and the stylus as well. I start over with new measurements and realise that I need a new zip. The lover is out with the kids, I call him. Between him and the elder lass, they come home with the right colour zip and another spool of thread – legends!

 3 (2)I checked the measurements and instructions a few times, prior to cutting more fabric. And got really annoyed with the DUMD instructions. Erin does a terrific job with her photographs and instructions, they are wonderfully clear. But they use imperial measurement.

 2 (4)I find continually converting from inches to centimetres a real hassle and frankly sucks any joy from using these otherwise excellent patterns. Metric has been the internationally accepted standard since – forever! If my 88 year old mother can use it, surely so can a young and hip designer?

 6The remainder of the sewing goes well, it is a straight forward make. I am very glad I bought clover clips. They do simplify sewing multiple layers.

Next up is the pencil case, same fabric with a smaller zip. The elder wants one that will sit on her lap and keep everything contained. But not too big! I looked online for tutorial for a box ended bag and found one using metric measurements. OK – I did restrict my search to Australian sites. My Poppet Makes is another Melbourne blogger with this lovely tutorial for make-up bags.

 18  17

I used the dimensions that the elder requested. It also goes together easily and looks good. Sewing straight lines can be satisfying (not enough to get me quilting) and best of all, the elder is happy. Several of her friends in her new school have noticed that her laptop case and pencil case match. She took delight in saying “My mum made them”.





Combined fabric, zips and thread  $16.00

DUMD pattern  – previously bought

Wadding – bought so long ago that the shop relocated twice then closed.

Time – about two hours for the laptop cover and one hour for the pencil case.

Frustration levels – high for the laptop cover, low for the pencil case.

Do it again? – I see several of these in the future, as each of the family members change laptops and need box ended bags for their stuff.

New Summer Trousers

LOLA-PANTI’ve been trying the StyleArc trouser patterns, because of rave reviews of their drafting quality and amazing fit. The Barb pattern was good, after my usual cycling calf adjustment. I tried the Lola in a light cotton. They were a tad short, despite me checking the inside leg measurement. I found the pocket treatment just plain daft and they don’t lie flat. A lot of fabric is bunched around my waist as the only shaping comes from the elastic.  However I wore these summer trousers enough to want another pair.

 6The blue check cheesecloth (from Phillips Shirts) was bought with summer trousers in mind. My family were very resistive to me making trousers from this fabric. I ignored them.

 15I ignored the pattern’s pockets, drafting side front patch pockets instead. I made the centre waistband panel larger. I straightened the side seams, a lot, so that the hem width almost doubled.  Sewing up was straightforward and I’m very happy with the stripe matching!

I’m pointing to the seam.

These are the first pair of trousers I’ve ever made that are not plain, such a big step for me. They look best with a structred woven top, my pastel blue Grainline Scout works well.

I like these trousers, they are light, flattering and allow space for a big lunch. I’m unlikely to make them again though. I don’t need more pull up trousers and I ought to accept that my hip-waist difference is too much for elastic waist trousers. I need to get back to proper tailored trousers that are fitted and have zips with a fly facing.

I made these for Christmas Day and New Years Day. The forecast for both days was especially warm. The forecast was accurate! These trousers were excellent for hot weather and hot northerly winds. These trousers seem to grow over the day as the cheesecloth loosens and bags out.One wash and they shrink back with the added bonus of no ironing. WIN!!!!

Just put them on.
Just put them on.
 1 (3)
30 minutes later…











After a long day.
After a long day.




2016 Sewing – plans


This is extreme sewing planning. I will not buy any more patterns for me. I have enough, plus I have drafting skills. I hope to get to a trouser block that I can re-draft as I wish.


I love natural fibres, particularly wool and wool blends. I also love linen, hemp and bamboo. Synthetics make me sweat. I like wovens a lot, and am enjoying wovens with a bit of stretch in them. Woven tops = work tops for me. I like superfine jerseys like bamboo and merino. These are made up as casual tops. I only wear stretchy trousers if I’m on the ice or my bike.

Garments and patterns

Aiming to make the following over the course of the year:

Simplicity Trousers 2700Work trousers – Three pairs in navy and black, using wool blends and stretch cotton.

Casual trousers – One pair in navy drill or stretch gaberdine. Very likely the same pattern.

Casual shorts – One navy pair. Most likely use my modified SA Barb pattern.

V Blouse 1412Work shirts – I need at least two, and if more work eventuates I’ll need another two, all long sleeved. I’m thinking Vogue 8689, I may use a TNT from 15 years ago (Butterick 3198) or Vogue 1412.

Casual summer tops – more Grainline Scouts and SBCC tees. Going to splash out into different colours and a few prints. I need three.

Casual winter tops – I want to have some fun here. I like merino jersey a lot and can get it at a very reasonable price. I need at least three. More patterns to come from my stash, or I can use my Scout hack.

Cardigans & jackets – An Oslo (Seamwork), possibly another Morris. Maybe a lined jacket, maybe not.


Four pairs of undies and four bras. Planning on using my own drafted undies and the DL02 pattern from Makebra.


I like to use patterns several times over. It appeals to the money pinching gremlin in me. And gives me the opportunity to perfect something or alter things a little. I’ve made the Grainline Scout several times, each with a neckline variation. I made the SBCC tee and am about to make another. Both are good patterns for me, my casual TNT’s.

I need a trouser pattern too. I’ve tried the StyleArc patterns and am not overjoyed by them. Vogue patterns have worked for me before. Time to return to them. This will be easy as I have several Vogue patterns in the stash!

Deadlines and timelimes??

I have listed 15 garments and another 4 bras and undies. A grand total of 23 items. I am involved in the facebook group “A garment a month”. So with a bit of luck I’ll knock over half of them.

Shopping with seamsters

Melbourne (Land of Oz) has an active sewing community. A few years back the annual tradition of Frocktails was started, and spread to other cities. The amazing Kat organised them and the first for 2016 was on January 16th. I couldn’t go to the dinner but was happy to be involved in some of the other activities. Anna from Blogless Anna arranged a shopping tour and I volunteered as a driver.

 1We started off at Tessuti. I rarely get to Tessuti, this is possibly my third visit. It was good to see examples of the Tessuti patterns hanging up.

We moved onto The Fabric Store, one of my favourite shops, in Brunswick St. This is their central row of tables. I always enjoy looking at their collection of merino jerseys.

Next was Clear It, a few doors away from The Fabric Store. Lots of variety and an assistant who went above and beyond to help – quite literally.

A few more doors down Brunswick St and it was lunch at Little Creatures. I do like Brunswick St! 

 1 (2)The Cloth Shop (in Ivanhoe) came next. I’ve never been here so was excited. It didn’t disappoint. They too had some lovely fabrics and some fabulous light fittings. I found a large remnant of merino jersey that will become two travel blankets.

And finally onto Darn Cheap Fabrics also in Ivanhoe. Where I found lots of elastics. I am working on bra making, for myself and the younger lass. 3 (1)








 4  2 (2)



It was terrific to meet so many delightful ladies, natter all day and talk about sewing.



And I might just make it to the next Frocktails!

2016 Sewing – assessment

I started the RTW fast two years ago. Unfortunately I started it with an older and somewhat worn wardrobe. I haven’t replaced the clothes at the rate that they’ve worn out. I need to replace almost everything and the only obstacle is knowing where to start. I’m happy to buy clothes but would rather make them. I had a good think about what I have and need.


Trousers, both work and casual. Flat front with pockets, fly zips and a little bit of elastic in the waist to allow for movement and weight fluctuations.

Scout blue_0688Tops – I don’t need many tops for work as I’m not working much – currently doing two very very small part-time jobs.  I’d like to make one or two more work shirts. I could use the Diana blouse again, but am leaning towards Vogue 1412, view B.

I need one or two warm weather casual tops. For winter I’ll need some warmer tops and jeans. I’m resisting making jeans because it means working with denim, not ready for that yet.

A blazer style jacket would be good, in navy or dark blue. I also need a cardigan that I can throw on at work when the air-conditioning gets chilly.

My most worn garments

LIberty T_0858Morris & scarfMorris jacket, because it fills a gap not because I particularly love this one. It is grey and I’d like one in a different colour.

Black and grey trousers – RTW trousers from five years ago that are almost threadbare.

Pastel blue Diana shirt – always with the cuffs rolled up, I may make this permanent. All my variations on the Scout Tee and my liberty SBCC tee.


I never wear skirts or dresses. Yet I have a desire for a pretty floral summer dress and an evening gown. It is likely that neither would ever be worn. Instead I could make some trousers in a beautiful wool and pair them with a dramatic top instead, along the lines of Vogue 1415  – view A.


The Diana blouse I made is too long in the sleeve. Seriously considering removing the cuffs and making the sleeves bracelet length, gathered onto a narrow cuff.

My bike jacket is just too big. The armholes are too deep and the sleeves are a tad long. I made it big enough to cover a shirt and a fleecy jumper. Too many layers for cycling in Melbourne, even in the depths of our winter. I need to unpick it and size down in the sleeves.


I’ve made a few pairs of undies that have been really comfortable. A bra or four is next.

Kris Kringle Canine Collar

My work team is a bunch of dedicated, hard working and delightful ladies. I have very much enjoyed working with them during 2015. I’ve almost become accustomed to having a good time at work again!

For the Christmas lunch we have a $15.00 Kris Kringle and I drew a colleague who also has whippets. She is close to retirement and has all the “stuff” she wants and is a little daft about her dogs. What to do? Make a dog collar.

 3 copy 2

I used the tutorial from to make a martingale collar. Whippets are sight hounds and a distinctive feature is that their neck is wider than their skull. They need a collar that is loose but that will tighten when they pull on it.

 1 (2)The fabric was bought from Darn Cheap Fabrics and later used for a bag. I used a D ring for the lead to clip onto, and slider rings to attach the main part of the collar to the tightening part. Lightweight webbing, similar to grosgrain ribbon but thicker, was used on the inside of the collar and for the tightening loop.

I made a practice one for Penny, then made two more for my colleagues dogs. My colleague was delighted with the collars – yay! – and very likely guessed they were from me..

2015 & 2016

Penny car 2I enjoy reading all the roundup and review posts from other bloggers and have finally decided to do one. I also need to actually write down some plans for this year so that I have something concrete to review in 12 months.



BLOG – cabby cover 4Well it was bubbling along OK until our ageing server at home became terminal. Eventually that got sorted but it meant that most of my posts cannot be accessed.  I have the drafts at least. So this blog is effectively new.

Plan for 2016 = attempt a few more posts, with more pictures and fewer words. Also to have more posts about the other interests in my life – cycling, baking and reading. While I’m at it I’ll try to add the old posts under an archive section.

SEWING – Diana front yokeI kept an Xcel sheet of all the sewing I did. This includes new clothes, repairs and craft items.  In all I made 34 items and repaired or altered 8. There were weeks when I didn’t open the sewing machine cabinet at all, and others when I sewed many things.

Most of the 34 items were clothes; 4 were for the elder lass, 7 for the lad, 4 for the younger lass, and, 8 for me. The remaining 11 things were crafty type things – a trouser cuff for riding the bike, several pencil cases, a bag and so on. Several things were started in one month and finished several months later.

McCalls shorts_2356Plan for 2016 = keep going, just keep sewing. Accept there will droughts and floods of sewing productivity. Return to making trousers with fly zips, pockets and steer away from pull up trousers with elastic waists. They just don’t work on me. I’d like to make a few things for the lover (aka my husband) as well as the kids.

CLOTHES FOR ME – I need new clothes for everything. I’ve been on a RTW fast for two years and haven’t replaced clothes at the rate they’ve fallen apart. That is a whole new post! Looking forward to 2016.

penny car 1