2018 reflections, hopes for 2019

In February 2018 I wrote about what I wanted to do in 2018 and then immediately forgot it. I discovered the post just recently and was a little startled at what did and didn’t get done.

In 2018 I wrote that I had the following sewing goals:

I would like to make some things for my husband. He needs a tangible thanks for choosing the perfect overlocker and coverstitch machines. Thinking that a waistcoat is a good start.

Yes, this happened. He got both a Belvedere waistcoat and Finlayson Jumper from Thread Theory. The jumper is blogged here. The waistcoat is as yet unblogged. My husband is happy with both, although he has yet to have an occasion for the waistcoat.

I need active wear. Everything I have is old, stretched and almost see through. Working on sewing bathers at the moment.

Sorta didn’t happen. I made two rashies to protect my lily-white celtic skin in our ridiculous sun. I also made a very ordinary bikini. No other active wear.

I need a semi formal jacket or blazer of some sort. 

No, this didn’t happen.

I need more tops.   

Several long sleeved t shirts using the Grainline Lark pattern and I had a French Terry raglan shirt crush happening for a bit.

I hope to find a non-synthetic alternative to Bengaline.

Didn’t happen, don’t think it exists. Except maybe stretch twill, which is very tricky to source and less stretchy.

I also planned to make more trousers and work shirts for me. I made one long sleeved shirt (here) and one work appropriate raglan short sleeved shirt which has not been blogged. My work has morphed again and I need work shirts. I really do need more work trousers!


I’m calling these “2019 hopes” as anything else is too specific.

  1. Trousers – full length in black and navy,  3/4 length in blue and maroon.
  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.
  3. Swimwear – using the beautiful fabric and the patterns I already have.
  4. Casual bottoms, leggings for under my tunics and pinafore.
  5. A proper tailored wool jacket.
  6. Undies, it’s time to make undies.


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Sewing for the lasses

The elder lass is at uni and loving it. Learning is important to her. She likes the idea of learning to sew, just not actually sewing for more than 30 minutes at a time #ZGen. She chose some fabric for herself and her sister, for tshirts. The elder wanted long sleeve shirts.

The younger lass needed fresh tshirts for school. Enter Mum, the overlocker and the coverstitch machine. One morning at social sewing to cut out and make up three tshirts in grey, grey blue and blue with clouds.

I think she wears the clouds the most.


Fabric – various cotton knits on sale from Spotlight. $45.oo

Pattern – Grainline Lark – used so often it is practically free by now.

Total = $45.00

Do it again? – yes. Very soon most likely.

The long sleeved tees for the elder lass? When she cuts them out, I’ll stitch them up!

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Smart casual

Yeah – we all know what that means – right?

An invite to a special occasion that was important and significant, but not formal. Casual clothes but not shoddy clothes. The occasion was spread over two days and therefore required two outfits. Yippee!

Image from Vogue Patterns’ website

The first day was sorted, a merino knit top and plain black trousers. The next day I decided to wear the silk blouse I made for graduation, but new trousers were needed.

Not in black bengaline (for a change), but in brown stretch cotton. A medium weight fabric with a brushed surface, similar to moleskin. It came courtesy of the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney.

I chose Vogue 8499. I had made this up previously and liked the oversized pockets. I needed to make many alterations – again!

I used view C shown here, size 14. I added some length to the legs and increased the rear crotch depth & height.  I removed 5cm of width from the waist by trimming the center seams of the front and rear pieces. Finally I added a side zip and a large press stud.

They are OK – certainly wearable and a good addition to my wardrobe. I love the placement and depth of the pockets. I also like the shaping added by the knee darts. The elastic back suits my continuously expanding and contracting waist due to singing (it is a large part of my job). By the by – apologies for the awful quality of my photos..




The stretch fabric does loosen over the day. The waistband was always a bit too big, by the end of the day it is drooping somewhat. The fabric has faded more quickly than I expected and is showing some patches of wear.

They are not the ideal trouser pattern for me just yet. Still looking!


Fabric – brown moleskin with some stretch – $18.00

Zip and elastic – from stash, I should keep better records.

Pattern – second use and old, effectively free.

Totals = approximately $20.00, allows money for elastic and thread.

Do it again? I don’t think so.


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Thread Theory Finlayson

My husband hasn’t had a me-made article for a LONG time. I bought some bamboo fleece for him last year. This year he clicked through my collection of Thread Theory patterns on my computer. He chose the Finlayson jumper. He liked the roll collar. I had the AO file printed. I don’t do the PDF taping dance anymore.

I measured one of his favourite jumpers across the chest and from the neck to wrist. I used the XXL pattern and took a bit of length from the sleeves. The drafting is excellent and the instructions are good.

But I had dramas with the collar. It took me two goes to get it in the right way. Then I had to unpick the cover stitching and re-do it.



I’m still not happy with how it looks, but for a first attempt it is OK.






Most importantly, my husband likes it and wore it all day on Father’s day.

The details:

Pattern – Finlayson from Thread Theory         $AUD15.00

Printing costs  – three AO sheets                                  $6.00

Fabric – Two metres of charcoal grey bamboo fleece from the Bamboo Fabric Store @$27 per metre                                                             $54.00

Total in money – $75.00

Do it again? – Yes, probably with a different fabric. This fleece was not a delight to work with.

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Chewbacca nightie

I went to Frocktails 2017 and won a lucky door prize. $50 to spend at the online shop – For the love of Fabrics – yay!!!!

There are many funky prints in this shop. I lurked for several weeks before finally deciding on two Star Wars inspired prints. Chewbacca looking cute, like a labrador puppy that has just eaten all your slippers. I got a panel, which is 75cm wide and one metre tall.

I need night clothes. For years I have made do with old T shirts. My kids are starting to object to how short they are. Enter the Grainline Lark tee. I lengthened the pattern so that I could get the whole panel in. It sits just above my knees.

I added extra width to the hem, flaring from just above the waist. I also added some length to the sleeves along with my usual bicep adjustment.





I used a mid blue cotton/spandex blend for the sleeves, collar and back pieces. It came from deep stash, I’m not sure how long I’ve had it. It has similar properties to the print, but is a bit thinner.

I made this nightie eight months ago and I really like it. The fabric is thick, stretchy with terrific recovery, and has held it’s colour and print superbly through many washes. I got another print, which will become pyjamas.

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Maternity Jacket

This is from the archived section of my wardrobe.

My eldest is now 18, in her first year at university and loving it. When I became pregnant with her I knew I would be making virtually all my maternity clothes. Back then the Pregnancy Survival Kit was coming into vogue. At the time is was all black clothing, very stretchy leggings/tunic/dress made from synthetic fabrics.









I was going to be big (well huge actually) over a hot Melbourne summer. I didn’t want leggings at all. I wanted trousers, shorts, tops for work and a jacket. All to be made from cottons, linens and wool. I found a pattern in Vogue which is now totally out of print and not on their website. I can’t remember the number and later gave it to a friend who was making clothes for her daughter. It had trousers/shorts, an A-line top/dress and the most beautiful jacket. I made the jacket first.

I bought the wool crepe from a stall at the Queen Vic Markets, here in Melbourne. I knew I needed a bright colour and this pink worked with my skin colour and all my clothes. The lining is a much lighter pink silk, from Lincraft.


A mistake, as it later tore at the armholes, during my last pregnancy (third child). The jacket had been borrowed by some friends, so it was the sixth baby for the jacket.

I did a quick repair with a few layers of fusible interfacing.

I knew this would be the last time I could spend a long time on tailoring a wool jacket. A lot of time went into this jacket. I didn’t bag the lining, using thread ties instead. The shoulders were gently padded, which has thinned a bit since then.


This jacket was worn a lot. It worked with jeans and my work trousers.  I made a dress from a lovely floral fabric, to wear to special functions and events. They were the only pregnancy clothing I kept. Now after several years, the jacket and dress have gone to another soon to be mum who also loves bright colours. I’m not sure I want them back!


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Podcasts, about sewing and other stuff.

I do a lot of driving for work. I used to listen to the radio and sometimes CD’s. We had a Federal Election a couple of years ago, which coincided with a new car. The radio was all about the election and that bored me to tears after the first week. The new car made listening to podcasts really easy. I am now hooked on podcasts in the car.

I’ve subscribed to numerous podcasts, often to the ones I “should” be listening and others I’ve found through links. I’ve later weeded through and let go of the ones that I just turned off. And then there are the podcasts I listen to routinely, almost as soon as they are released:

  1. The Health Report – I LOVE everything about this podcast. Host Norman Swann really does his homework and reads what the shows’ researchers produce. He asks good questions and allows his interviewees time to respond. The icing on the cake is his most beautiful Scottish accent.
  2. Conversations – Richard Fidler interviews people with an interesting story. Each episode is roughly 50 minutes long and allows for plenty of discussion. Fidler ensures each interviewee really shines and talks.
  3. Ladies we need to talk – Showing my ABC love here with a third podcast! Yumi Styles discusses topics that can be squirmy and embarrassing. She does so with clarity and humour and comes from a starting place of curiosity.
  4. Sewing out loud – Mallory and Zede start with a topic each week and then take flight. Following their advice, I switched from woolly nylon to Maxilock Stretch, and used the three thread narrow overlocker stitch on stretch clothing. Much better results!
  5. One fat lady & one thin lady – Two Australian media personalities get together and have a natter. Not even remotely intellectual.
  6. The Sporkful – Dan Pashman hosts an eating based podcasts, that occasionally strays into foodie territory. My favourite episode is the one about marijuana. Hilarious listening.
  7. Trust me, I’m an expert – Coming from “The Conversation” online magazine. Challenging to understand concepts, explained in away that respects the listener’s intelligence and addresses their knowledge gap.
  8. Sewing with Threads Magazine – Monthly podcast, from sewing writers whose knowledge is encyclopaedic and who clearly love talking about sewing with other sewing experts. Wish it was more frequent!
  9. Politics with Michelle Grattan – Also from “The Conversation” – long form interview from the respected and veteran political journalist. The length of each podcast varies a lot, and the content is usually interesting.
  10. The Guilty Feminist -Deborah Frances-White and her guests, use a dry wit and wry humour to discuss topics that their feminist core should feel more strongly about. Occasionally this strays away from humour, and can be overly long.
  11. Clothes Making Mavens – Mostly I listen for Barbara Emodi at the end of each podcast.

I listen to a few others, work and sewing related. The above are just some. I mention humour and wit a few times. I like to smile while driving and it is easier to drive with light hearted audio than more serious audio.

Any suggestions?

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A pinafore, for me.

Helen’s Closet patterns put out the York pinafore a few months ago. I am usually unaffected by the  adoration that accompanies the release of a new pattern. I almost never wear dresses or skirts. I certainly haven’t worn a pinny since I was a young girl.

And yet, I am moving into a semi-retired existence combined with a small amount of volunteer work. I am stocking my wardrobe with garments that are a bit interesting, suit my creative self and are also work appropriate. So I bought the York pinafore and hummed the “Grand old Duke of York” throughout making it.

I used a denim with some stretch bought specifically for this pinny. I had intended to use some of this border print denim I bought in Singapore. Except it isn’t denim. It is a lighter weight cotton and not suited for this dress. I also had to buy fabric to make bias binding. So much for using up stash fabrics!

The instructions are written with beginners in mind. They are clear and perhaps excessively long.  This is not a difficult make with only three pattern pieces. The instructions for making bias binding are not so good. The explanation for double fold bias still has me scratching my head. I used my brain and a bias maker.

The differential feed on the overlocker helped me gather the edges of the curvy pockets in for easy hemming and sewing to the pinny front. I realised that the denim was rather dark. There was so much of it, the pinny was going to overwhelm me, in the style of brutalist architecture. It needed some bright contrasting top stitching. Choosing the colours was fun:








I pinned the pockets VERY carefully and anchored them with navy thread. I did the top stitching with my coverstitch machine. Rainbow variegated thread went in the left needle and blue variegated thread in the right needle. I decided to top stitch everywhere.

I top stitched the pockets, side seams, shoulder seams, armholes, necklines and eventually ran out of the rainbow thread while doing the lower hem. I managed to make it across the front (just) and switched to a red variegated. Adding it was incredibly easy. I tied it to the rainbow thread and watched carefully as the knot went through the machine, then through the eye of the needle. No breakages!

I like the effect the top stitching has in breaking up the denim.


Denim $15.oo + bias binding fabric $5.00 = $20.00

Pattern – on sale – $AUD 15.00 + printing $4.00 = $19.00

Total = $39.00

Top stitching thread – from a pack of Mettler threads bought sometime late last century. Used up the remainder of one spool – yay!

Do it again? – maybe. I have several tops to wear with this. But no tights or leggings. Thinking they are next!

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Raglan – fourth attempt!

I’ve written about my raglan obsession here. A quick reminder: I had tried two different raglan patterns and decided to try a third. Finally I made up the Lane Raglan from Hey June patterns, and had it nicked by the youngest lass. I did like the pattern and the curvy hem so I reached for it again.

My previous experience in taping together PDF’s saw me going to a print shop for an A0 copy.  I double checked the flat measurements around my arms, chest and hips. I decided to use the large bust version.

My chief gripe with raglan patterns is that the necklines are rather wide. Too wide for me. This time I traced off the highest of the necklines (size 2XL) and blended back to the 1XL size. All good so far. I used the hemline for 1XL and it was way too long. I had to trim 5cm from the length and use a 2.5cm hem.

Trying to add the neckband was incredibly difficult. I just could not get the folded over fabric to lay flat. I gave up and stretched the fabric out to make a single layer with a curled edge. The edge has curled over a bit more and I like it very much.

Sewing happened a week or two after cutting out. All construction was done on the overlocker and coverstitch machine. Most of the time my coverstitch is wonderfully behaved. I tried to hurry it a bit and a few skipped stitches ensued.I don’t mind too much. I can do running repairs if necessary. And remember to go more slowly next time.

Costs – the fabric was from Seamstress fabrics, but has sold out. It was around $28.  It is a light french terry and very nice to work with.

Pattern – Lane Raglan and an extra $4.00 to have it printed.

Threads – generic overlocker threads and Maxi-lock stretch in the coverstitch looper.

Do it again – maybe, with a smaller neckline.

I like the fit across my bust and hips, the gentle shaping is flattering. The fabric is thin and more of long-sleeved t-shirt than a jumper.  I have yet more french terry to use up. It is heavier in weight so I may size up as well as decreasing the neckline size.


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Collared shirt – buttoned up

My collar was constructed in this post. But a collar alone is not a shirt. The rest of the shirt was put together along standard lines. In the previous post I’d used the burrito method for attaching the yoke, and it is the bomb! Attaching the collar stand to the yoke was handled in the Soul Craft class with Jen Beeman. All that remained were the sleeves, cuffs, buttonholes, buttons and hems.


I attached the placket – using Jen’s approach. I don’t see me doing battle with tower plackets ever again. The continuous placket is so much better. I eased the sleeves in, after gathering the sleeve cap ever so gently. I use the differential feed on the overlocker for this. No dramas with the sleeves or the cuffs.


This photo is a bit blurry. I’m still getting used to the settings on my camera. The buttonholes were not straightforward and I was reminded that my machine has been much used over its’ 23 years and it took a few goes to get decent buttonholes. Some of the attempts:









Eventually the buttonholes all looked good. Next came the buttons and again, some troubles. I use the button stitch on my machine because it is quick and attaches the buttons securely. My buttons all came from stash, harvested from some of my husband’s old shirts. I shattered a few when the needle wasn’t lined up properly with the button’s holes.





I eventually broke one needle and three buttons. I decided to stop before I broke any more. The hem was easy, mostly because I did it the following day. I used the differential feed on my overlocker again, to evenly gather or stretch the curvy edges. The final shirt is lovely and I see some more in my future.


It would be good if my bust point was the same as my dressmakers model’s.



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