Secret Sewist Iso Sewing

Try saying that title several times over…

And – before I am distracted – the responses to my previous post made me realise how much love there is for jam-setting fails. Many thanks!

Caz from The Useful Box organised a secret sewist isolation swap through Elfster. I signed up. The patterns were selected because they were easy projects, freebie patterns and used minimal fabric that was likely to be in our stash or remnants pile. We could choose between oven mitts, a small zippered pouch or a cloth pot.

My giftee didn’t give me any clues about colours or what she wanted. I had the materials for oven mitts so made oven mitts.

The pattern is the bombazine oven mitts. I lengthened the lower cuff a bit as I like more arm coverage in an oven mitt. The mitts are lined and decorated with leftover quilting cottons from various other bag or pyjama projects.

These ones were the trial ones made for me. They are lined with two layers of wool batting and a layer of insulating fleece wadding. This made five layers for each side: Denim, wool, wool, insulating fleece, cotton lining. I graded the seams where possible but they were still very thick. My sewing machine did not like that!

The trial ones were tested by my husband during his sourdough bread baking over a few days. They worked so I made a pair for my giftee. The elephant print went inside with the pretty quilting fabric on the outside.








I photographed only three of the four sides of the pair. Weird.

What did I get? I asked for a fabric pot and received this beauty. I love it and really appreciate the time that went into making it.

The details  

Wadding – Insul-Fleece from Spotlight – one metre

Pattern, fabrics and threads – all from stash, free

Postage – small package, parcel post in Australia

Do it again? Yes, looking forward to the next one.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Not Kibbe trousers – Style Arc Teddy

Style Arc are based in my home town – Melbourne. They’re a terrific bunch of women who also design awesome clothing and draft superbly. I really liked the look of these trousers – fitted yoke waist, pockets, tapered but loose fit. And the added style feature of the very eye catching front full leg pleat.

From the SA website

As I traced off the pattern I altered the pockets to be slant pockets with a pocket stay. I did my usual waist adjustment to remove excess, tapering in from the upper hip on each pattern piece.

Sewing up was interesting to say the least. Style Arc have a minimalist approach to sewing  instructions. Consequently I folded and stitched the pleat the wrong way. Instead of the outside in, mine is inside out. Style Arc have some instructions on their website – craftily hidden under blog posts, I managed the fly zip anyway.

Then I put them on. They were awful. Nicely stitched together but just so horribly wrong for me. When I walk the pleat opens and refuses to close again. They are going in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to toss them out. There is no way to salvage this mess.


Fabric – Tan or Beige drill, from a fabric swap a few years ago – free

Pattern – Style Arc Teddy – bought during a Frocktails shopping visit – $5.00

Zip, lining fabric, thread – all from stash                                            free

Totals = $5.00

Annoyance factor – Construction = fine, outcome = NOOOO!

Do it again? No, this is just not me. I finished this the same weekend I made strawberry jam that did not set. I used pectin, lemon juice and special sugar. My jam never sets, even when I make plum jam. At least it is tasty – unlike these trousers.

Posted in Bobbins | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

More Kibbe sewing – another Melody top

My favourite Grainline Scout top is a pastel blue linen one. I altered it to include a collar. It has been worn to destruction. I wanted another but prefer the shaping of my Style Arc Melody. It’s already been sewn up once and about to get a second outing.


I cut this out at a social sewing day along with two other tops.  The first time I altered the pattern to be short sleeves. This time I went with the drafted 3/4 sleeves and added elastic to the cuffs.


I took in the width of the lower hem quite a lot, to minimise how much it pops out at the front. Again, I squared off the curvy hem and used a box pleat instead of gathers at the back.




Also again, I used silk organza as the interfacing for the both the collar and facing.

Previously I’d used the burrito method for doing the yoke but that meant the front facing was floating until I hand stitched it down. I did a lot of thinking about how to enclose all the seams in the yoke or under the facing. I needed to focus on something really complicated. Eventually I needed to do and not think. And totally stuffed up! After lots of hand basting, sewing and unpicking I finally cobbled together an enclosed collar stand, facing and yoke. I cannot remember what steps I took, or even what order they were. It’s not perfect but it is good enough. I’m not doing any collars with stands for a while.

I started to sew this top as a way of processing the first few weeks of January. Australia was burning, every state except the Northern Territory. I volunteer for two organisations, one of them is the Red Cross. I had been helping out in their head office: arranging crews of volunteers to go to the fire affected areas, processing the displaced people forms, and answering enquiries about displaced people.

This is a shirt for me to wear to work in my micro-business. It took until the middle of March for me to finish it. A lot happened between starting and finishing it. We had an exchange student come from France for several weeks – she was lovely – and while she was with us COVID-19 hit the world. She went home just as we were told that our daughter would not be able to travel. And then finally, the incident centre at the Red Cross was closed – after over 70 days.

Ironically or terribly – due to the Australian community shut down – I’ve lost about 80% of my income. I have some savings, and am trying to be positive. And sew a lot more.

Details & Costs

Fabric – sky blue linen cotton blend from Pitt Trading, 1.5 metres at $14.00 per metre.                                                                                                                                      $21.00

Notions – Silk organza from Pitt Trading, other stuff from my stash                          $3.00

Pattern – Style Arc Melody – bought in a sale, second use so effectively free

Total = $24.00

Annoyance factor? = Really high, the collar & yoke & facing totally did my head in. Using a plain fabric (not compulsively matching stripes) helped a lot.

Do it again? Probably not. The next collared top will have a revere collar for a change.


Posted in Bobbins | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A dressing gown

The elder lass was invited to a themed 21st birthday. A pyjama theme. She decided that she needed a robe of some sort. Cue McCalls 2476, purchased some years ago and routinely pulled out for the pyjama bottoms.

Instead we traced off a size small and shortened it a bit in both sleeves and lower hem. The elder is petite in everything except brains and personality. Just as well, this pattern suggests 3.4 metres for the dressing gown and we did not have enough fabric.


I used some fabric from stash that came from a good friend in Indonesia. It is a beautiful quality printed lawn cotton. The fabric was 120cm wide and 2.5 metres long. The yellow section is a border print which the elder decided should go on the hem.

Some seriously good ninja pattern placement was required to get all the pieces on the fabric. The neck band had to be pieced together but the join is at the centre back and not noticeable. There was not enough fabric to fit the pockets, the waist tie or even carriers for the waist tie. Instead we bought a dark blue ribbon and stitched it down at centre back.


This was a collaborative effort. The elder traced off the pattern and altered it to fit. She stitched the shoulder seams, sleeves and side seams. She even braved the overlocker for neatening the edges.


The elder had selected a label and decided it should go into the neck. I attached the neckband (and label) and top stitched it, then turned up a small hem on the sleeves and lower edge.

The details

Fabric – A gift from a friend

Ribbon – Dark blue, 2 metres @2.40 per meter              $4.80

Pattern -McCalls 2476, several years old, effectively free

Label – “You can’t buy this” from KATM                          $1.00

Totals = $5.80

Annoyance factor – Low

All up this was a fun and simple make. The elder enjoyed the process saying “sewing is really fun and relaxing”. Her friends at the party were all deeply impressed.


Posted in Bobbins | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Christmas waistcoat

I work in several residential aged care facilities and Christmas is a big deal. Increasingly staff are encouraged to wear silly or crazy Christmas themed T-shirts throughout December. A variation on the ugly Christmas sweater idea, but for hot climates.

I can’t bring myself to do that. Christmas tshirts are cheap and nasty. I thought about making my own – but – no.  Instead I made a Christmas waistcoat. I can wear normal clothes and be Christmassy when needed. After all – while I celebrate Christmas, not all my clients do.



The fabric came from Spotlight. It is really difficult to get fabric that reflects a hot Australian Christmas. I think this fabric was released in 2019. I love the Australian animals in the print. So much that I bought enough fabric to make a reversible waistcoat. Koalas on one side.

Echidna’s on the other side. The pattern was from Bootstrap Patterns and ostensibly to my measurements. It came with facings, lining and little pocket patterns. I just wanted the front and back pieces. There was a centre back seam but it was straight so I left it out. Pattern matching this across a seam?  No way!




There are side bust darts. There should have been waist bust darts too but I didn’t want the waistcoat to be that fitted. I wanted it to fit loosely over my usual work clothes. It is certainly loose! I put in a “You can’t buy this” label. I ignored the Bootstrap instructions as I wasn’t using all their pieces. Instead I used the instructions from the Thread Theory Belvedere waistcoat.


I didn’t spend a lot of time on making this. So little that I forgot to topstitch the armholes. I neglected buttons and buttonholes too. This is not a waistcoat that needs to be done up!


The waistcoat was in constant use throughout December, and garnered many compliments.

It has since been washed, armhole top stitching completed and stored for December 2020.

Posted in Bobbins | 2 Comments

Timbau! – the bag

Timbau – a membranaphone instrument, conical in shape, used for samba-reggae music. Originated in Salvador, capital of Bahia, a state in Brazil.

*This blog post is long, with a lot of images*

Moving on from the first post.

I started by checking if I had enough batting. I bought this stuff over 20 years ago!

Next came piecing the batting and sandwiching it between the cotton layers. I made the drum skin cushion and the circle for the base of the bag.

I pinned the bag – a conical shape and tried it on my fit model.  This fit model was delightfully compliant and open to being moved around. My family could learn from this (they won’t).

Next came the actual stitching of the side seams then adding the base. This was tricky! I eventually got it pinned in. I hand basted it and finally stitched in.


Next – checking the length all around, checking that the cushion works well.

I attached a deep collar section to the top of the bag. It is large enough to cover the additional height of the second drum, but collapses enough for just one drum. It has a drawstring to keep it closed.

I put a tab on the ends of the cord instead of knotting them. This photo’s depth of field is messed up.

I added a carry handle and put it horizontally so that it could slip over my Zuca. I use the Zuca to carry all my equipment and sheet music.

Happy drumming all round!



Posted in Bobbins | Tagged | 2 Comments

Timbau! – the drum

Timbau – a membranaphone instrument, conical in shape, used for samba-reggae music. Originated in Salvador, capital of Bahia, a state in Brazil.

I bought a second hand pair of congas. Fantastic sound, breathtaking quality, super bargain price. And incredibly heavy! Far too heavy for me to lift in and out of my car routinely.




I went to a conference and discovered the timbau, specifically the festival series from Remo. I bought two, a green swirls and a multi-coloured swirls.


The skins can be removed to be a separate hand-drum, similar to a Bodhrain.






Once the skins have been taken off, they stack inside each other. Their combined weight is roughly on fifth of the smaller conga’s.

Clearly they needed a bag – to keep them pristine, sounding beautiful, and to make transporting a breeze. I measured, cogitated and designed.







I decided on a padded cotton drawstring bag with two thin cushions for between the two skins, and on top. The two cushions would have a thermal layer to further protect the skins from heat damage.

This zig zag cotton comes from Indonesia, a gift from a dear friend. It is beautiful quality, a dream to work with. I found it in my stash where it has been marinating for a couple of years.

I also found some batting, bought for a baby quilt many, many years ago.

The rest of the story is in the next post.




Posted in Bobbins | Tagged | 1 Comment

Looking back at 2019 – sewing and other stuff

My new drum

2019 was a good year overall. My little business has consolidated and is doing well. I’ve been able to update some of my equipment and pay for professional development. My other work – as an employee – is bearable. Aiming to change things up in 2019 so that I can ditch both part-time jobs.

Personal stuff – my kids are healthy, content and doing really well at school or uni. I am slowly losing weight and very slowly building my strength and fitness levels.

Sewing stuff – I’m loving following the Kibbe style system (thanks DoctorT!). I’ve used it to guide the selection of patterns and fabrics for work related clothing. It has been useful enough that I’ll continue it in 2020.

In 2019 I listed six hopes, lets see how I did:

  1. Trousers – full length in black and navy3/4 length in blue and maroon. Maroon didn’t happen, the others did
  2. Tops! I need tops that are suitable for work, at least two more. A few more short sleeve t shirts would be good too. I made one linen top for work and several short sleeved tees
  3. Swimwear – using the beautiful fabric and the patterns I already have. Made one pair of bathers
  4. Casual bottoms, leggings for under my tunics and pinafore. I made a short pair of leggings
  5. A proper tailored wool jacket. This did not happen, again
  6. Undies, it’s time to make undies. I made some fantastically comfy undies that will never, ever be blogged..

Above I mentioned Doctor T – again I am inspired by her latest posts with her data crunched into charts. Here are my 2019 sewing charts:

In this chart “other” means self-draft or more accurately I made it up as I went along. It also includes Jalie. Intriguing to see how many times I used the one pattern. The Lark and Carine tees were used four times each, as was the M2M leggings template.

I always feel adventurous when using a Style Arc or Jalie pattern. Similarly for Grainline’s Lark and Elbe’s Carine Tee.

Vogue et al are so familiar they are almost comfortable.


This chart has no numbers, and only includes the actual clothes.

I made a lot of t-shirts, I think because I needed them. And they are very satisfying to make on my overlocker and coverstitch.

Several trousers too, of which only four are wearable (one was a dud). And a few pairs of leggings, not all for me. Which links nicely to the next chart:


Yes – overwhelmingly me.

I should consider making more for other people in 2020.




Speaking of 2020, these are my sewing hopes:

  1. More trousers, using different patterns each time
  2. Woven tops – shirts and tunics
  3. A few more casual t shirts, both long sleeved and short sleeved
  4. Make at least one bra
  5. More undies – that will also never be blogged
  6. Finally make a tailored jacket! Simplicity 8468.

All the best for 2020!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yet more Carine Tees

I love this pattern – the drafting is terrific, the neckline really works for me, I can alter it easily. It is my new TNT T!

I  got this marble fabric from my buddy at Seamstress fabrics. She only has the good stuff. This is a beautiful organic cotton with spandex and a delight to work with.

One colleague asked me if sewing really did save money. Inevitably I said “it depends – not really for t-shirts, but yes for other things”. My colleague then drooled over the fabric…

It got a label, from my considerable collection of KATM labels. Then coverstitched in variegated black~grey thread (needles) and white (looper).

I got some other fabric from Seamstress at the same time – they were both on sale. More organic cotton spandex but with strawberries this time.

No label yet, cover stitching with red thread in the needles and white in the looper. Amazingly I found two reels in the same colour. I think they are leftover from the elder lass’s year 12 formal dress.

Both t-shirts were sewn on the overlocker and finished on the cover stitch machine. I only had to swap threads on the cover stitch machine – yay!

I cut out both shirts at a social sewing day, then put them together the following day at home.  I finished series 3 of The Crown while stitching. I noticed that the frocks were still amazing, but it was not a good time period for hats.


Fabric – Strawberry fabric – 1.2 metres @ $15.00/metre                     $18.00

Marble fabric – 1.2 meters @ $25.20/metre                            $30.24

Pattern – Carine Tee from Elbe Textiles – free

Totals = $48.24  – for two t-shirts!

Annoyance factor – Low

Posted in Bobbins | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Colour blocked terry raglan

I’ve never colour blocked a garment before. NEVER EVER!

I got some navy French terry from a fabric swap. A lot of it. It went into the fabric collection. Where I found a remnant of some creamy white terry with a red stripe, but I cannot recall from whence it came – very likely another fabric swap. Sadly there was not enough for a jumper, but enough for the front and back. They were roughly the same weight and drape so I decided to colour block a top.

I chose the Lane Raglan from Hey June Patterns.

I’ve made it several times, in a few different weight fabrics. Unfortunately these two fabrics were reasonably heavy and had no recovery. Consequently the neck stretched out rather a lot. This picture shows the difference when compared to another terry top I made, with the same pattern. On the right side they are lined up at the seam, not neck edge.

Making this top involved so many decisions – what overlocker thread colour? Do I use the same colours everywhere? If I do swap out the thread colours what order should I construct the top? Does it really matter if the threads don’t match the fabric? I vacillated for so long that a few weeks of my life went past.







So I used white for the attaching the sleeves to the bodice parts, then navy for attaching the navy neckband, underarm and side seams. I finished the sleeve hems with the navy.

I used the coverstitch machine on the neck line and sleeve hems, using navy overlocker thread in the needles and a navy stretch thread in the looper.

Eventually I realised that swapping threads is easy and matching them to the fabric matters to me. I swapped out the navy threads for white/ivory and hemmed the lower edge. Then coverstitched with navy in the needles and ivory stretch in the looper.

The details

Fabric – French terry, navy cottton and cream/red stripe. Free, from a fabric swap.

Pattern – Lane Raglan from Hey June patterns –  bought a while ago and effectively free.

Label – “Sewing is Sexy” from Kylie and the Machine – $1.00

Annoyance factor – Unbelievably high – due to the thread matching dilemma.

I made this top before my Melody Shirt. I’ve always had a thing about colour matching the overlocker threads. I have noticed that stripe and pattern matching are becoming a new  obsession. The neckline has stretched so much that the sleeves are too long. I will have to shorten them eventually.

I’m not colour blocking again for a long time. The next top will be in a plain fabric.

Posted in Bobbins | Tagged , | Leave a comment