A new ukulele case – part one

I bought a ukulele some years ago. I bought a soft gig bag at the same time. The zip pull fell off both ends of the zip, then the zipper thing fell off one end. I clearly needed a new case. Nonetheless, I continued to use if for a few more weeks (the ukulele is one of the instruments I use at work).

DSC00609I looked at several internet tutorials, and found a pattern for a case on Etsy.  I read this tutorial a few times and looked at a simpler one by this guy (where the actual instructions seem to be missing now). I ended up creating a blend of both.

I traced around the uke and added 1.5cm for the seam allowance. I thought about following every curve and decided that would be too much like hard work. I drew a line from the widest part of the uke to the tuning pegs. A long triangle shape with rounded base and point emerged.


I wanted the case to be padded and have some thermal protection. My uke sometimes spends time in the back of a hot car and that plays merry havoc with the tuning. I had four layers for the top and bottom – stripey soft cotton/ply blend, foam padding, heat reflective fabric (Insulbrite) and the flamingo drill.




I put a zippered pocket on one side, thus making it the top. The zip was a tad too long so I just cut it down to fit. Not sure why I put the pocket on, I’m yet to use it.




The sides were denim cut from old jeans and padding came from navy blue fleece. I quilted them together using a nice wide zig zag stitch, in pink. I made up a handle from the last of the flamingo fabric and the denim.



DSC00653I needed an opening at the base of the case and decided to use a silver and pink zip. That went in with no dramas, but working out the length needed to go around the top and bottom bits was difficult. Totally did my head in. I got a bit clever and tapered the side so that it was narrower at the head than the base. Wasted effort! Attaching the sides to the bottom (zippered) bit involved many layers and my machine was displeased.


That blurry shiny bit is the needle you see there. More details in the next post!


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A bikini for Accordion?

Umm yes. The rash tops I made don’t have bust support, and I need it. And I made swim shorts, and need something up top. One piece swimmers were another option, and originally what I intended to make.

I started out with Butterick 5795 making up the size 20 as that seemed right. The pattern’s body length is considerably longer than mine. The fit around my bottom and tummy were OK, a bit tighter would be better. The top half was awful. Way too long, saggy and just blergh.  I chopped off the bottom and created a bikini bottom. The top was binned.

2018-01-28 14.47.38


I then drafted an entirely new top, using a crop bra as a template guide, adding some pleats instead of darts. The back straps were too long and too wide to join the front bit (due to being very poorly drafted). I added some pleats and covered up the mess with fold over elastic. This top was not intended to be seen. EVER.


The lycra was from the Peoples Park Palace in Singapore, purchased in 2016. I think it was $6.00 a metre and I use all of the 1.5m I had. It was always intended to be trial fabric for swimwear, green was never my colour.

The rash tops and shorts were used when we were in Brisbane or in a pool. When we were on the island we were told that January is the middle of stinger season. The resort management had full length lycra bodysuits with hoods. They were stunningly ugly but prevented the Irukandji jellyfish from ruining our holiday. The bikini was in constant use, always under the rash tops and bodysuits.

All the good stuff:

2018-01-28 17.02.57

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Rash tops

Summer in Australia can be brutally hot and I burn very easily. We migrated when I was 10 and I had my first mole removed when I was 18. I needed a long-sleeved rash top for my holiday in Queensland. Long sleeved rash tops can be hard to find, mostly ugly and expensive. Not mine!

2018-01-27 12.05.49I used the Surf to Summit pattern from Fehr Trade. It is a princess line raglan sleeved top.  I did some careful flat measurements, expecting to need to grade out at the hips. I was intrigued to see it wasn’t necessary. The size L was spot on, but I used the XL. I’m not keen on negative ease. As usual I added a bit of width to the sleeves at the bicep.


2018-01-27-12-03-15.jpg I loved the pattern and the vibrant print. I decided to use another vibrant print. This time I added a full length separating zip to create a jacket. I used chalk to mark the pieces, I should have added notches. The chalk marks are clearly visible – even after washing and swimming.

The fabrics both came from the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney. The pattern pieces went together beautifully, the drafting is superb. I even got the splotchy print to line up and pattern match. ACROSS THE ZIP!!!! Pattern matching was not so easy with the paisley fabric. I’m glad I bothered as I like how it looks.

Construction was shared between the overlocker and coverstitch machines. I used the sewing machine to put in the zip. Both tops are terrific, and were used a lot.

The details

Top fabric – Paris Paisley Spandex – 1.5 metres  $18.75

Jacket fabric – Trippy Trippy Lycra – 1.5 metres $30.00

Pattern – Surf to Summit – Fehr trade – $15.00

I got this pattern printed on A0 paper at Creffield Printing.  $8.00

Notions – Zip – $6.00 (I think)

Nuisance factor – None at all.

Total = $77.75 for both.

Do it again – yes. I need a new cycling top, so one with wicking fabric and a centre zip. And another in bamboo or merino, for everyday use.

Rash tops

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Ride seven and my coffeeneuring badge!

This post is incredibly delayed – I received the badge in mid-December 2017.

Ride number seven was to a cafe in Fitzroy. It is a crepe house in the Brittany tradition, and the food is lovely. I had breakfast and an excellent flat white. I also had a taste of the French cider they serve. It was VERY nice so I bought some and carefully packed it in my panniers for the trip home.


Where – Melbourne – inner city suburbs.

Distance – round trip of 8 kilometres

Drink – coffee. I had breakfast too.

Cafe cup/my cup? – The cafe’s crockery was used, the first time in this challenge!

I found this cafe because of the Frocktails breakfast.

My badge!

Coffeeneurs can get a badge after completing the seven rides in the allotted time. $US6 is paypal-ed to Chasing Mailboxes and she sends a badge. The Americans call it a patch, but that’s what you put over holes in jeans.

This is mine:

2018-01-03 09.47.21

I’m doing the Errandonee this year too – 12 rides, 12 errands over 12 days and 50 kilometres.

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Swimming shorts

I needed swimming gear. I went to Queensland for a holiday break with my eldest lass. One week on a tropical island and a few days in Brisbane. In January.

I needed swimming gear. I burn like the true English rose I am. I also needed a rash top and some board shorts. I decided to make them all, as you do. Enter swim shorts from Jalie – 3351, view A.

Jalie swim shorts

They are basically shorts with the knickers bit attached. These have a side insert that forms a pocket, large enough for a phone. I like pockets for phones but not sure how useful they are on swimmers.

I downloaded the pattern, did the print/slice/tape dance and started measuring. I have a strong preference for tissue patterns, but, will accept patterns with small pieces in PDF. The sort where each piece has three or four A4 pages to complete. Each pattern piece took up a few pages but it wasn’t so bad. OR possibly I’ve just forgotten.

2017-12-31 14.06.57I measured and decided that I was somewhere between a Y and AA. I traced off both lines and realised that were roughly 5mm apart… That greatly troubled my inner fitting and accuracy soul. Then I realised that I was working with very stretchy fabric and the difference wouldn’t matter. Especially after getting wet. I got over myself and started cutting the Y.

2018-01-01 14.40.40

I had lightweight spandex which was black with a small print. The knickers and waistband bit needed lining. I used swimwear lining, in beige. Does it come in anything other than beige or black?

The instructions look to be good but I ignored them – I clearly know better! For no good reason as it turns out. On the whole they went together well. The drafting is accurate which I really appreciate.

2017-12-31 16.37.47I am very new to sewing swimmers or undies. Attaching the elastic to the leg openings of the knickers was not easy.  There are a few several not perfect spots. Similarly, there are ripples in the side seams. I’d like to blame the fabric, but suspect it is my inexperience.


2018-01-28 14.45.48

2018-01-28 14.46.05

Eventually they came together and I realised that I hadn’t sewn the inserts together to form a pocket. Decide that I don’t care, reasoning that it will only trap sand and make my phone wet. I do like the cover stitching at the top of the pockets and they look good hanging against the louvers.

Fabric – 1 metres of black spandex, bought from the People’s Park Complex in Singapore 2016 – $6.00

Lining – less than a metre of lining fabric – can’t remember where it came from!

Pattern – Jalie 3351 – Pdf download $12.00

Notions – all from stash.

Nuisance factor – If I had followed the instructions it would probably be low. I stuffed up the order so it was medium overall.

Total = roughly $25.00

Do it again? – Yes but with alterations. I’d remove the side panels and extend the sides of the shorts pattern instead. I will also add length to the shorts.


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2017 Reflections & 2018 Goals

This is my final installment in this series, hosted by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow. Loving that my goals for the following year are starting with March 2018.

Sewing reflections:

  1. I am sewing more with knits. I think this is because I have a really lovely overlocker and now a coverstitch machine. I am very lucky!
  2. I’m using Bengaline a lot for trousers. I like the stretch but not the synthetic fibres.
  3. I make fewer tailored garments for me.
    One of two fitted and tailored garments from 2018
  4. I have made several casual winter tops. Winter is sorted!
  5. I’m still slightly scared of my cover stitch machine.
    Love this, don’t know it very well – yet!

Sewing goals for 2018

  1. 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.
  2. I need active wear. Everything I have is old, stretched and almost see through. Working on sewing bathers at the moment.
  3. I need a semi formal jacket or blazer of some sort.
  4. I need more tops.
  5. I hope to find a non-synthetic alternative to Bengaline.

Plans – oh my! so many thoughts and ideas. Boiled down to these:

  1. A waistcoat for the lover (aka husband). Using the Thread theory pattern. He might also get a bamboo fleece jumper.
    Waistcoat fabric for the lover.
  2. Pretty tops for me – at least three that are work appropriate. Using my as yet unopened patterns and fabrics from stash. Also, lots of casual tops using my TNT patterns.
  3. Bathers, cycling shorts, skating pants…using Melissa Fehr’s “Sew your own activewear” book.
    Image taken from the Fehr Trade Blog
  4. Yet more trousers. Using a fabric and design that can accommodate waist and tummy fluctuations. I might have to draft my own.
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Top 5 – the sewing hits

My “Top 5” sewing hits – as part of the series hosted by Gillian over at Crafting a Rainbow.  This was an easy post to write as in 2017 I had considerably more time and headspace to devote to sewing. It was lovely!

Number five – Singapore shorts – Worn continuously in warmer weather. Yet another re-draft of the basic Barbs pattern from Style Arc. The dark denim are worn the most, I love how the pink topstitching gives them a subtle lift.

Number four – My graduation outfit – gown, shirt and trousers. The gown was repaired by me and worn just the once. The shirt has been worn a few times, for more formal occasions. The trousers are worn weekly, sometimes twice a week.


Number three – my Frocktails top. I’m not really a frock chick so a dress for Frocktails was never going to happen. I went with what works for me (overshirts) and took it a bit further. A beautiful top came out, using fabric from a fabric swap. Easy and comfortable and the perfect blue for me.



Number two – Laptop bags and pencil case – made for Miss 12 and Mr 17 as they started the school year. All going strong, doing their job of  protecting the investment in hardware and saving my children from the distress of a broken computer with nothing backed up offline…

Number one – The Year 12 formal dress and wrap for Miss 17 (almost 18) – worn just once.  The fabric came from the same fabric swap as my Frocktails tunic.

The bodice took three attempts to get the fit just right. This was the first time I’ve used boning in a bodice.The skirt was a heart in mouth moment as I cut into the fabric. This garment is the most difficult thing I’ve ever made!

Instagram video here.



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Sewing top 5 – the misses

I’m doing the annual sewing round up, “Sewing Top 5”. Gillian hosts it, on her blog “Crafting a Rainbow”.

I’m starting with the flops, binned items and the never finished.

  1. Navy trousers for work, for a one afternoon a week job with navy trousers in their uniform. I wear them but the fabric is AWFUL. It bags out the second I put them on. No pictures!
  2. Bra – wrong size pattern that was poorly drafted. Binned it before it could haunt me. I should delete the photos too.
  3. Passport wallet – OK I tried. I became overconfident after successfully making my son a leather laptop bag. The wallet is documented here and was terrible!
  4. Wrap dress – not really a complete loss, just rarely used. The drafting was excellent, and it looks good on me. But, I’m not fond of close fitting garments and I’m just not a frock chick.
  5. I attempted a pair of Lisette trousers, Butterick 6183. Everyone seems to love the Lisette patterns so I though I’d try them. They are sulking and grumbling in the unfinished pile. I chose the wrong size and they are just too small. No pictures!

Next will be the sewing hits post.




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Frocktails – Melbourne

Frocktails – a blend of frocks and cocktails. An annual event organised by some amazing seamsters in Melbourne. A chance to make a special occasion frock, then wear it to socialise with other seamsters.

Frocktails has been running for a few years but this was my first time. I kept missing out on a ticket because I was always too late. Happened again this year. “Oh well” I thought, better luck next year.

Then a happy happenstance – a cancellation that freed up a ticket for me. With two weeks to go the pressure was on!

I floated several pattern options on instagram, and asked family and work colleagues for their opinions. One colleague said an emphatic no to one pattern, describing it as “a bit Millers”, and not really right for me. I eventually settled on Vogue 1415, view B.



The top is cut on the bias and has no darts. The stretch in the bias skims over any lumps and bumps. The fabric was a light poly that I’d collected from a swap event earlier this year (thanks Anna). The fabric was very slippery and slid off my cutting table several times. Lots of pattern weights and pins were needed.


Usually I overlock edges, but the cowl neck on this needed a neater finish. I did a flat fell seam and got to use my duck billed scissors for the the first time.

The fabric was a little too light for this outfit so I got some satin and made a bias hem facing to weigh it down a bit.






The cowl neck sits beautifully over the shoulders. It moves and changes shape as I move. These are the views from behind, front and side:









I had intended to also make the longer wider leg trousers (view A), from a navy blue wool blend. But, the day and evening were just too hot and I was having too much fun with my cargo bike.

I wore some black trousers instead.

The evening was lovely. I was nervous at first, so many sewing people all in one room! I met up with people whose blogs and instragram feeds I follow. I caught up with women I know from social sewing, and I met a stack of new people. The dresses were amazing.

To my great delight this happened:

“Did you get your fabric from a fabric swap?”

“Yes I did”

“It was mine, I had it a long time. I’m so glad to see it made up at last.”

The pleasure is all mine!

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Coffeeneuring rides 5 & 6

The Coffeeneuring challenge for 2017 is described in this post, and rides three and four are in this post.

My fifth ride was a short trip to the train station, then onto work. I got to the station early and had a coffee from Jays on the concourse at Flagstaff station. It was a very nice coffee but they didn’t want me to take a photo of their cafe.

After my train took me part way to work, I cycled the rest then cycled all the way home.



Where – Melbourne – train – middle ring suburb – home

Distance – round trip of 18 kilometres

Drink – coffee

Cafe cup/my cup? – my own thermos cup



My sixth ride was from the bike shop in my newly electrified cargo bike. It was an ambling then a sprint, test ride of the bike.

Where – Melbourne – inner city suburb – home

Distance – round trip of 1o kilometres

Drink – coffee from Pony Bikes – very strong!

Cafe cup/my cup? – my own thermos cup

I’m loving the bike with the new wheel. I can ride it without causing knee pain. So good – I love riding this bike. It is just FUN. Or to quote Sasha from Pony Bikes: “this bike is badass”. A more detailed review in a few months.


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