Formal Dress – 2017 – bodice and skirt

Once I’d finished doing the first bodice, the lass tried it on. It needed tweaking. So I had another go, and another and finally got it with attempt four. That was made up in the final fabric and put to one side to wait the skirt.


I started to work on the skirt which meant using the whole cutting table. I had a rare moment of wanting a bigger table.

Through work I have a connection to a retired designer. Her advice was to cut two half circles. One seam would accommodate the zip at the back, and the other would be at the front. Then when it was attached to the bodice I should cut the hem.

Drawing in the circle with chalk, taking a big breath and  cutting it out.






The bodice and skirt came together and I inserted the invisible zip. That sounds so straightforward but it was not. A fair amount of steam was needed, plus almost every pressing tool I have – the ham, pointer thingy, and my own hands.

Miss 17 is a petite lass! That’s my hand covering the centre back from top to waist. I had to stitch the lining in by hand.

Miss 17 wanted to have the peak of the hem over her knee, not in the middle. I decided that one side needed to be not quite a half circle. You can just see the seam over her left knee. In this photo I’ve pinned the hem up and she is wearing last year’s shoes.





I free-handed a curve from the left knee to the side hem, then mirrored it on the other side.

I did a tiny hem as shown on this YouTube video. Then I finished off with a thread chain and hook.


More in another post…

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Singapore 2017 – Peoples Park Complex

Heritage buildings – Chinatown

The Peoples Park Complex is on Park Rd, in the heart of Chinatown. It has a myriad of small shops, all housed in one large complex. Some of it is air-conditioned, some isn’t. There are a lot of fabric stalls and one gigantic haberdashery shop.


The fabric is overwhelmingly woven, cotton and cotton blends. One shop had Liberty fabrics, one shop had a selection of superfine merino suiting.

Last year I bought the white broderie anglaise in this photo. And used if for Miss 16’s year 11 formal dress.


This year I came to browse, not needing to buy anything. Then I found the haberdashery shop! More Clover products than I could imagine, and all in one spot.

Suddenly I needed stuff. I bought the following – reflective tape, a magnetic pin holder, a silicon pressing tool, large wonder clips, and a seam guide.

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Formal dress 2017

Another year, another formal dress for Miss 17. This is her final year at school and she wants long, dramatic and stunning. This is the inspiration dress.

Just too long!

The thought of cutting off all that fabric was too much for her.

Can you make one? Mmm, I can try.






I found McCalls 6838, which is very similar. I trace off the pattern and did a flat measurement check. Miss 17 should fit with minor alterations only. I made a toile (I have a great deal of fabric for this). It took four hours!

It stands up because it has its’ own skeleton. This thing is boned. I did not realise just how straightforward boning a bodice is! It is interfaced with Shapewell as I could not find cotton organza – anywhere!

It fits her well, as expected, with minor tweaks needed. Onto the shoulder shawl thingy and skirt part next.

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Singapore shorts

We went to Singapore. I needed shorts and quickly. My much modified elastic waisted trouser pattern to the rescue again. It was originally the Barb trousers pattern from Style Arc, but has morphed so many times it is now my own.

I had floral lightweight denim and dark navy, mid-weight denim, each with a bit of stretch.








I decided to use pink top-stitching thread in the floral shorts. I liked it so much I used it in the dark denim pair. It is a nice bright contrast to the denim and gives a balance to my lily white legs.








The family do not like the floral shorts, but I am rather fond of them. However the navy shorts were worn more often. I need a shorts & trousers pattern that is an easy and quick make, like this, but with pockets. I miss pockets. Any pattern suggestions?

Costs & details:

Pattern – Style Arc Barb, shortened to above knee, lifted the centre back by 1.5 cm. The original pattern was a free download a couple of years ago.

Fabric – 1.2 metres of floral denim from the remnant warehouse in Sydney, $12.00. Another 1.2 metres of dark denim from Rathdowne Remnants, $10.00.

Thread and elastic – all from the notions stash.

Total = $22.00 for two pairs of shorts.



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Travel wallet – an attempt

My husband travels a bit for work and has a rather lovely leather passport wallet. I really like it but don’t travel enough justify buying one. I decided to make one. I had made my son a leather laptop cover and that went well.


I bought some red leather at the same time as this brown black leather. Enough for a wallet and a laptop cover for me.

I looked at lots of travel wallets and they were all very large and long. I wanted something a bit more compact. Space for my passport, some cards, notes and a coin section. Possibly a pen too – for the customs forms.


First up were the card slots. They went OK.  Well sorta…


I added a bit at the back for notes. Then I tried to create a coin section, with a zip.  It was wrinkly.

I realised I needed something shorter, that would fit in my hand. I tried one more design which was terrible.


I was travelling soon, time ran out so I bought this instead!


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Saturday Social Sewing – number one

A shop in Melbourne has a large room for classes and groups. A bunch of Melbourne seamsters and stitchers would go there every two months or so for social sewing. This has been going on for several years, I met several new people and made new friends.  It was terrific.

In 2016 the shop increased their fee from $10 per person for the day to $15 per person for half a day. Then introduced other groups and the room became quite crowded. One of my 2017 goals was to find another site, Saturday Social Sewing evolved.







Six lovely ladies came for the first session. An airy, bright room with plenty of space and incredibly tranquil. Very successful in this spot. Everyone wanted another date so am working on that.

More on this in another post.

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Bored with Black!

I recently made five different garments in black. I don’t really like black, it does nothing for me. It is a pain to sew because it is so dark and you can’t see anything. Happily mistakes are also hard to see.

So why so many black things? I have recently increased my hours with my employer, and they’ve introduced a uniform top. The bottom is a black skirt or trousers. I need three pairs of trousers and have so far made two. The job involves lots of sitting with occasional standing and walking around. StyleArc Barbs (much modified) in black stretchy bengaline, and we’re done.

Miss 12 and Miss 17 needed new skating pants. Out came the Cake leggings template for Miss 17 and Jalie 2215 for Miss 12. Nice merino terry for them.

The fifth garment was a skirt for Miss 12 for the high school concerts. I made one for Miss now 17 when she started high school. She still wears it. Miss 12 wanted something that flared, had a yoke and just below knee length. I drafted that skirt myself.

I need something colourful for the next few garments.

A tshirt and shorts. All about them in the next post.

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New blades

Miss 17 has a rather lovely pair of skating boots. I bought them from an incredibly skilled adult skater at the rink.

Miss 17’s feet have been a stable size for several years. It makes sense to get decent boots.


They were 5 years old, but never used. Super skilled skater threw in an old pair of blades for free. So, new boots, old blades. Very old blades with very little left to sharpen. We got one sharpening out of them.

Cue 2017 and I start working more and Miss 17 gets new blades, including mounting and adjustments. $300 for the blades. Her first pair of skates – boots and blades – cost less than $200!!!

She loves them. Suddenly her spins are easier, her jumps are better and all things (skating) are possible.


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Sunday Sevens – June

Images from the last two weeks:


Miss 17 at the climbing place.







Trialing new pattern tracing paper. So far I like the white.




Sushi platters – for dinner before the school concert.





Miss 12 playing the trumpet. Good to see her forehead and elbows! She also played beautifully and looked the part in a black skirt made by me.



I brought home this amazing box to show the family. It holds 6 small tarts. The family were not impressed. It was empty…




Foggy morning plus brilliant sunshine, reflected in the CBD buildings.




The Sunday Sevens thing was started by Natalie who blogs at “Threads and Bobbins”. The idea is to take photos of your week and share them.


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Sunday sevens – end of May 2017

This time I managed to do this on a Sunday!


Miss 12 and Penny drinking together.







This little donkey looked a bit lost.


These fabrics arrived. Destined to be a tee-shirt and shorts for an upcoming trip to warmer climes. My family do not think they go together.










I like a bit of symmetry in numbers.



Ending the week with a delightful dinner where they had designer sugar lumps.

The Sunday Sevens thing was started by Natalie who blogs at “Threads and Bobbins”. The idea is to take photos of your week and share them.


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