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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I get under my collar..

I need new clothes for work – shirts with a collar and proper sleeves. Something more formal and structured than a t-shirt. I am not good at collars, just never get the finish I want.

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 10.14.19 pm

Soul Craft festival appeared on my horizon – with Jen Beeman (Grainline) doing a workshop on collars. I clicked and got it! Soul Craft was a lot of fun. I’ve only been to professional or academic conferences of late. It was lovely to see presentations from people who were passionate about their craft.

I was supposed to use the Grainline Archer. I have several other shirt patterns, that have already had full bust adjustments. I decided to use Vogue 8689 again.

Jen was terrific at breaking down the collar creation and attachment. Most of us wrote notes, took photos and videos. Here’s the collar with the collar stand.


The collar stand, after grading and clipping.


The collar and stand after turning. A thing of beauty. I admired it for quite some time.


Finally – the collar attached to the shirt front and back:


I put this up on my mannequin so that the family could admire it.

Me to Mr 17 – “look what I did!”

Mr 17 to me (not looking up) – “oh, did you injure yourself again?”

Fifi puss was impressed enough to look up.



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Yet more t-shirts

I needed a few more long sleeved tshirts, Grainline Lark to the fore, again.


Long sleeved dark pink linen jersey:


Loving the results from my cover stitch machine.

Long sleeved pastel pink merino jersey:


Finally, one with the sides flared out to be a pyjama top in double brushed polyester:


Can anyone see the problem here?


At least I did it to both sleeves. Sigh!

The details:

Fabric   Dark pink linen – Rathdowne Remnants      $20.00

Pastel merino – The Fabric Store                    $20.00

Cactus double brushed – LA Finch Fabrics   $10.00

Pattern – Grainline Lark – with my own variations. Bought a while ago, used so much that it is effectively free.

Notions – all from stash.

Nuisance factor – gloriously low.

Total = $50.00 for three tops.

Do it again? – Yes. Over and over again with this TNT.


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Raglan top

I made a raglan top from pale blue fleece  – not blogged. I used French terry for another one, also not blogged. I used an old Burda pattern which was OK, but needed modifications to work for me. Major mods. Initially the neck was too tight on the pale blue, then too wide on the terry. I think Burda just doesn’t work for me. I discounted the Grainline version of a raglan as it has a super wide neck. I gazed at other raglans.

I got some heavy knit blue and white stripe fabric from one of the fabric swap meets and it screamed raglan jumper. Finally I heard and read good things about the Lane raglan top from Hey June patterns. I bought, downloaded and did the taping dance. I haven’t done the taping dance for a bit, I’d forgotten how much I dislike it! img_3714.jpg

The lines never meet up precisely, but the above is the biggest mismatch I’ve had yet. All operator error, I did at least get the top of the sleeve sorted:


The fabric is quite thick and almost spongy in texture, and stripey. Cutting on the fold wasn’t going to work. I just couldn’t face tracing off the pattern so instead I used bright pink washable texta’s. The sort you give toddlers. In fact I think this pen once belonged to my kids when they were toddlers. I traced off one side then flipped it over:


I didn’t quite get the two bodice pieces out. The back has the lovely curved hem. The front is straight. Better forethought in placing the pieces would have helped.

Sewing up was easy enough, the instructions are good, I glanced at them and then went for it.


I found the neck to be quite wide – again! I made the collar quite wide to compensate and take advantage of the fabric design.


I made the 1X size, on me this is just a bit too tight to be worn over other clothing. I didn’t do a bicep adjustment and I should have. Really what I should have done was check the stretch in the fabric. It is simply not enough for this pattern’s drafting. Beginner mistake –  sigh.

Instead, I leveled and shortened the lower hem and shortened the sleeves too. It has gone to my younger lass. She has a similar build to me, but at 13 is still smaller. On Miss 13 it is perfect and she likes it.

Costs – the fabric was free, from a fabric swap meet

Pattern – Lane Raglan, $USD10, bought in December 2017

Do it again – not sure.

I wonder if a raglan top really suits me. Every sleeve pattern I use requires a bicep adjustment and they are tricky in a raglan sleeve. And the necklines are all so wide, requiring yet another adjustment. Miss 13 likes it, so does Miss 18. The pattern is likely to be used again for them.

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Everyday stripey tshirts

Everyday clothes, the sort you wash and wear constantly, that always seem to work. Sort of an extended capsule wardrobe. I had a plan to make something for me, each month. I’m even in the Facebook and Instagram groups for “Make a garment a month”.

I have a hole in my wardrobe that will fit many tshirts. Here are the latest two. Long sleeves with stripes and short sleeves with stripes. Both using the Grainline Lark tee pattern.


The fabric is a linen jersey, beige with a red stripe. I love woven linen and was intrigued to see how a knit would fare. I was lucky enough to get it from the one of the de-stash events, can’t remember if it was 2016 or 2017. Just noticed that I didn’t finish the neckline with my coverstitch machine.


I love my coverstitch machine. The neck is a bit wavy, but I don’t care. Since being made it has stretched out somewhat. This fabric came from Rathdowne Remnants and is a fairly heavy cotton knit with not enough spandex. It has stretched and is now too wide around my ribs and tummy.  Given it is shortish and designed to be worn untucked I don’t mind too much.


Costs – the linen was free, the cotton was about $15.00 for 1.3 metres

Pattern – Grainline Lark – round neck with sleeve length variations

Do it again? – many times over!!!

It’s taken me a while to post this as getting images of the shirts was tricky. They have been in constant use. Must make some more…




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I use the Cora app on my phone to keep a record of my fabric. It is good to flick through when I’m away from my collection and I’ve found it useful for reminding me of what fabric I have. But it only does fabric, not patterns, or notions. And will only work on your phone, there is no laptop version.

I happened on Trello – it is used in project management and has desktop, phone and tablet versions that all talk to each other. And it is free! It is possible to liase with other team members and manage a team, I don’t need to do that.  You can create as many boards as you like. I have a board for each pattern category:

Screen Shot Trello A

It is possible to change the look of the boards to pretty pictures like the cacti or snow. Next is to open each board and add lists of cards. So I have a board for tops, and within it are cards for T-shirts, shirts & blouses, tunics and jumpers. Fairly sure I need more lists.

Screen Shot Trell B

Each list has a card that is the name of a pattern. My card for the Grainline Scout (woven Tee) has the details of any alterations I made, if I like it and a picture of the garment – just to remind me. Each time you add a comment, the length of the card grows:

Screen Shot Trello C

I like Trello a lot. The link to my phone is terrific for looking at stuff while out and about. The learning curve is steep and the set up time is considerable, but that is the case for all good data management systems. Once up and running it is fantastic to use and easy to add new boards and cards.

I wish I’d discovered Trello before getting Cora. I’m using Trello for all my new fabric purchases, and will probably add notions like elastics and zips, possibly in their own teams.

What does everyone else do?


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A new ukulele case – part two

DSC00651I put some straps on the back, a long vertical one for over my shoulder. It has velcro to keep it together. I also put in a horizontal one which fits over the retractable handle of my equipment case. When the shoulder strap is not in use it tucks away behind the horizontal strap.


Stitching the wall to the top and bottom bits was heavy going. My machine is a lovely machine, 21 years old and much used. I don’t like putting multiple thick layers through it. I tried to tidy up the edges with my overlocker but that was not ideal. I considered using bias binding or foldover elastic instead, but that would have required spending money.  Turning it out the right way was was a leap of faith.  Happily the uke fits well.

This was a beast to think about and then design in my head then on paper. It took such a long time. Everything came from my collection of remnants, leftovers and haberdashery stash. The flamingo and Insul-Brite came from making coasters. I bought a metre at Spotlight and was given the rest of the roll, an extra 75cm. Still have enough for oven mitts, more coasters and lunch bags. The flamingo fabric was also bought for coasters (for a flamingo obsessed friend). Absolutely nothing left now.

img_3663.jpgI’ve used it for about a month now. The shoulder strap is tidy and works well, but doesn’t get used much. I use the handle on the side. The horizontal strap is terrific. It goes over the retractable handle on my Zuca. My instruments and sheet music are all safely contained and I can wheel all my gear around. Once I’m at work I find the constant in/out of the case annoying. A strap for the uke is needed, but that means drilling holes in the base. (Nooo!)

Cost – One broken needle and roughly 12 hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

Pattern – self-drafted

Do it again? – NO – NO – NO! I am not a bag making fan, and this experience has only confirmed that in a major way. I initially did this because I knew I could and knew it would save money. And I wanted something a bit cheerful. I later found a really sturdy (but boring black) gig bag for $40. Good value at twice the price.


The Zuca with the uke on top = Zucauke, or maybe UkeZuca !

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