I enjoyed making the rash tops and bikini in 2018. My existing bathers are rather worn, stretched out and bordering on too loose in the water.

I decided to have a go at a super basic design and effectively draft my own swimwear block. I used Kwik Sew 3780, mostly because I got it at a fabric swap and it was free. I traced off the pattern and added a strap to the right shoulder. Well actually, I traced the left side and put a foldline mark in the middle. I took the following body measurements:

  • my torso from shoulder to shoulder, going under my crotch
  • shoulder to bust apex, and
  • compared the side seams with an existing pair of bathers.

The pattern was duly shortened, both above and below the bust points. I cut it out in both lining and main fabric, stitched it together using the chain stitch on the coverstitch machine and tried it on. I used a fabric I like but don’t love. It was bought (2 years ago) because it was bathers fabric, on sale and suitable for a trial.  I like how the back seam adds some shaping, but wished I’d matched up the print a bit better.





After trying them on I discovered that the straps needed shortening even more. Otherwise all was good. I slipped in some bra pads that I retrieved from an old sports crop top. The stitching and placement is less than stellar.

Next I pulled out the chain stitch I’d used for basting and stitched up all the seams using a three thread stitch on the overlocker, because Zede & Mallory say it is better for super-stretchy seams.  I cut the legs a bit higher as I prefer that and set about putting in the elastic. I was careful (took my time) and didn’t overstretch the elastic. I used a clear swimwear elastic. Zig-zagged on, turn over and coverstitch down.

I compared them to my old bathers. The old ones have stretched out a bit, both lengthwise and widthwise. They are comfortable and are perfectly OK for swimming!

Now I have a basic block I plan to get creative. Change the neckline, cut a few stripes into it and play with colour blocking.

I’m swimming twice a week now, I’ll be needing a few more pairs.




Fabric was from The Remnant Warehouse but has sold out. It was around $25.00 for two metres. I have over a metre left.

Lining – in the stash for some years. I have no idea where I got it.

Pattern – Kwik Sew 3780 and free.

Threads – Maxi-lock stretch in the coverstitch looper.

Annoyance factor – very low, surprisingly.

Do it again – yes.


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PJ bottoms for the bloke

The lover needed – desperately needed – new pyjama bottoms. He has a plethora of printed tshirts that he uses for tops. He just needed the bottoms bit.

Simplicity Pattern EA990001 Premium Print on Demand Men's/Boys' Cozywear

Image from Simplicity.com

Out came Simplicity 9900, a pattern for men’s and boy’s pyjama bottoms, tops and a nightshirt. I’ve only ever used the bottoms pattern. The sleeves and neckline on the nightshirt/top look really weird. It is now out of print, but any pj trouser pattern would work.

I used the tried and tested method for choosing a size – I compared an existing pair to the pattern. I traced off the closest size and hoped for the best.


I didn’t have any non-roll elastic and alas, it should have been used. The leftover elastic I had is folding (rolling?) over already.

These were constructed by using the overlocker and coverstitch machine. I need to watch some videos or read a tutorial on encasing elastic with the coverstitch machine. Or accept that I need to use the sewing machine…



I love the coverstitched hems.




Just in case it was needed I put in a label:

This caused a huge chortle and grin from the lover.


Finally – an image that takes in two of my creative outlets:


Fabric – Navy striped cotton  1 m @ $7.50 per metre (Remnant Warehouse in Sydney)

Pattern – Simplicity 9900 – used a lot is old, so effectively free

Elastic – 1 metre @ $1.00 per metre – $1.00

Totals = $8.50

Annoyance factor – Low

Make it again? Yes, already have another pair cut out.

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A Carine tee

I’ve been using the Lark tee from Grainline for several years. It has seen many iterations for me and my two daughters. I flirted with the Hey June Raglan in 2018, making four versions.

Now for a different shape, the Carine tee from Elbe Textiles. I can’t remember how I got onto it, but it was a free pattern and is rather lovely. “Was” being the most important word. It seems to have vanished off the site (May 2019).

The Carine has a scoop neck, short sleeves and a curvy hem. Three pieces plus a neckband, Simple to cut out, free, needs one metre of fabric, this can only be good.

I used a navy stripey cotton jersey from the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney. The wrong side of the fabric was useable, it became a contrast neckband.

The hem was a bit tricky to turn up. Playing with the differential feed helped, lots of steam and pressing helped a bit more.

The drafting was spot on. I used the largest size and added a bit of width to the hips by tapering from under the arms. It is a crop top, so lengthen if you need. On my short torso it was just the right length for high waisted trousers and shorts. The next one will have a bit of extra length.


Fabric – Navy striped cotton  1 m @ $7.50 per metre

Pattern – Carine Tee from Elbe Textiles – free

Pattern printing – One A0 sheet – $2.50

Totals = $10.00

Annoyance factor – Low


I like it a lot and would happily recommend it, if only it were still available!


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I made a cardigan! (Kibbe sewing 4)

Earlier this year I wrote about my sewing plans for 2019. I also wrote about a year of Kibbe inspired sewing. This post is mostly about my first Kibbe inspired top. At the end of 2018 I bought Jalie 3677, the Helene Cardigan. I liked the lines and the subtle shaping provided by the peplum skirt section. It has very positive reviews all over the interwebs for both the silhouette and drafting quality. In terms of Kibbe, tops (cardigans or jackets) should be:

Softly tailored with curvy shaping (subdued, not fussy) that gently shows the waist. Short to moderate lengths are best, although a longer length is possible in a belted jacket or one that has a very understated peplum. They can have slight shoulder definition with crisp pads and tapered sleeves. This detail should be subdued and understated, not fussy or overdone.

Score! I bought what I thought was a wool blend double knit from Eliza’s in Sunshine. A burn test indicated it was polyester blended with another synthetic. Sigh. And it is #MelbourneBlack again. Which means I have a wearable toile for work (black cardigan/jacket is stipulated in the uniform code) and terrible photographs.

I traced off the pattern and discovered that the sleeves have a symmetrical sleeve head. This is new to me, even on a casual knit garment. I did my sleeve adjustments –  added 2cm to the bicep, shortened the length and this time I tapered to a slightly wider wrist measurement. I wanted this to go easily over long sleeves.

I like the idea of a Hong Kong finish but not the hours involved. Instead I used decorative threads in the loopers of my overlocker.

This is varigated thread from Mettler. The grey is almost invisible, the blue and pink were more obvious.

Once I trialled them in the overlocker they were easier to see:

The blue won. I love blue, my eyes are blue, my favourite clothes are blue. Even my wedding dress was blue..

I attached the pockets with black thread, but now wish I’d done them in the blue too. This cardigan was constructed entirely on the overlocker and coverstitch machine.

After wearing it for a few days I noticed that the collar was quite high for me and that the fabric was too sturdy to naturally pleat down. It was making me fidget so I decided to stitch it down by hand. I also noticed that the skirt part has some hi-low shaping to it. Oh well – I can live with it in a toile.


Fabric – Polyester double knit  2 m @ $8.00 per metre           $16.00

Pattern – Jalie 3677 Helene                                                             $12.75

Totals = approximately $28.75

Annoyance factor – Low, aside from the self-inflicted unpicking.

Do it again? Yes, though I might move the pockets closer to the centre front. I will also add some width to the centre front and consider buttons and remove some height from the collar at the centre back. I may also reduce the back length so that it sits on my natural waist and I might straighten the hem. I really like this cardigan and see it being worn a lot.

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Kibbe sewing 3 – more wedding trousers

So the Craftsy/McCalls trousers were a dud. The problem was the fabric, it bagged out terribly the minute I put it on. And it was super hot. Not what I need in the overheated work environments I am in. Therefore I needed another pair of trousers. I always need more trousers.

Vogue 2948 came out of the pattern stash. I bought it a few years ago from Craftsy. It was included in the “Pants Fitting Technique” by Sandra Betzina. I like the yoked waistband. They seem to suit me (and my tummy) better. I settled on View A with the side zip but left out the tiny pockets.

After my hassles with the McCalls pattern I measured REALLY carefully. Both me and the pattern. I decided to use a straight size 16.  My reasoning was that this was a pattern for non-stretch wovens and I’m using bengaline. Plus, I’m currently in between a 16 and an 18.

I forgot about the Craftsy course until after I’d cut into the fabric…

The navy bengaline came from Seamstress Fabrics. Yeah I know – more bengaline. It is cheap enough for me to consider this a wearable toile. And nice enough for me to wear them to work. Or a wedding.

After I cut the fabric I remembered the course and cued up the section on fitting. And promptly forgot to watch it. I very carefully sewed up two left legs.

Blast and double blast.

I had enough fabric to cut another leg, but decided to unpick instead. So that’s four seams of straight stitching and two of zig zagged topstitching. Inevitably Fifi puss found the threads.

A bit of ironing and some more super careful sewing and I had a proper right leg and a left leg. I left the outer side seams open and zoomed up the crotch. Next came the yokes. Instead of interfacing I used two layers of swimwear lining. I like a bit of stretch and recovery around my middle.

In addition I trimmed 1 cm off the side seams of the yoke and eased the yoke onto the trouser front and back. I put in an invisible zip into the left side seam, stitched up the right side and tried them on. Excellent fit. Very comfortable for sitting, breathing and singing.

Next came a certain label from ‘Kylie and the machine’ which says “Sewing is sexy”. After the yoke lining went in there was more zig zag top stitching and hemming.

I like them a lot.


Fabric – Navy bengaline  2 m @ $18 per metre              $36.00

Swimwear lining – Can’t remember, this is a guess          $3.oo

Pattern – McCalls 6901 + Craftsy course                          $25.00

Totals = approximately $61.00

Annoyance factor – Low, aside from the self-inflicted unpicking.

Do it again? Yes. Next time with the tiny pockets.




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Wedding trousers, Kibbe sewing two

We received a wedding invitation for a colleague of my husband. It was to be in the function centre of a winery and “formal”. My husband used the opportunity to dry clean several suits and replaced a shirt. Lucky him. I decided to use the Frocktails top I made in 2017, this would be its’ third outing. When I made it I had intended to also make trousers and now I was finally getting around to them.

McCalls 6901 came with the Palmer/Watson Craftsy course on tissue fitting trousers. These completely fit the brief for Kibbe Classic trousers: Soft, slightly tapered, straight leg or boot cut silhouettes, classic tailoring elements such as slanted pockets. Clean, tailored styles with a minimum of detail. Plain front or trouser-pleated. I had followed the instructions and cut them out early in January. At the start of March I decided to sew them up.

Fifi puss was not happy. She was very comfortable on my pattern pieces.

The pattern has huge seam allowances, to allow space for alterations. I selected size 22 (going on my hip size) and set about overlocking all the edges. I didn’t want any fraying while I fiddled with the fit.

The pockets went in easily, the zip insertion was adequately described. The waistband was also easily attached. I used ribbed elastic instead of interfacing. I pulled it through the waistband so that it decreased the waist measurement by a couple of centimetres. This prevents me from re-adjusting trousers all day and allows for the continual up and down in my work. I used a press stud and trouser hook for closures. All good.

I took out a lot of fabric from above the hips. Each dart was deepened and lengthened. I took in the centre back seam and the side seams. I removed almost 12 cm from the waist, tapering to 2cm at the hips. After cutting the pieces I had a break of several weeks. In those weeks I did bootcamp and lost some excess flesh. It would have been better if I had started with the 18. I have traced off a new pattern, starting with the size 16 at the waist and blending to other sizes as per my alterations.


Fabric – Black poly suiting  1.8m                   $15.00

Elastic – black 2.5cm ribbed elastic                 $1.50

Pattern – McCalls 6901 + Craftsy course      $25.00

Totals = approximately $46.50

Annoyance factor – Medium to low.

Do it again? Yes, with the improved alterations and a better fabric.

I’ve worn them several times and I like how they feel around my waist and calves. Around my thighs is a different story. They are rather baggy! I have tried valiantly to get photo’s but black is impossible!



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Baby bibs

A friend had a baby boy. We are not super close so waited until things settled (a bit) before visiting. So that meant almost six months. If memory serves, that means the lad will be starting solids and sitting upright unaided. Possibly considering the concept of crawling.

This friend appreciates hand made gifts and I wanted to make something. I don’t often feel the need to create things for babies. I prefer to give something to the mother. I racked my brain for what was super useful when our three were little. Sleeved bibs! I found several freebie patterns via pinterest and picked one that had the least pages to print. It was from Fleeting Thing, whose website appears to have disappeared.

I found a hand towel we never used, shower curtain lining (from my own children’s bibs – 19 years ago), some pyjama remnant fabric and a few badges for fun. Remember my bengaline trousers with awesome pockets? I used them too.

I got the construction order a bit mangled. I attached the lining to the front with sleeves attached so that there would be no raw edges. But I didn’t finish the underarm sleeve so had to turn a tiny hem. Spotty bias binding went around the neck edges. Adding elastic to such a small wrist area was mistake number two. It was very awkward.

I fixed that on the next two. This time I stitched the cuff elastic channel, then inserted the elastic. Next, I stitched the underarm seam, catching the elastic.

Then came the shoulder seam to the front of the bib. The fourth step was to attach the bias binding to the sleeves and neck. Finally some velcro, to keep the back flap bits together.







They seem impossibly small. Yet they are sized to fit a 12 to 18 month child. I don’t know if the intended baby is big or small. Here are all the gifts:


All in a reusable gift bag. Stacking cups, bibs and a sipper cup for the lad. My all time favourite gift for new mums – hand cream for home and for the nappy bag.

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Leggings for the younger lass

The younger lass needed another pair of leggings for dance class. The design brief was very simple – plain long leggings. We raided the fabric stash and I very generously offered some beautiful patterned fabric that I’ve been hoarding for me. From left to right – black active wear, patterned cotton spandex, blue double brushed poly (DBP) and black DBP.

The younger already had a pair of black DBP leggings and was unwavering in wanting another pair exactly the same. So very Melbourne Black!

This time I used the Made to Measure Leggings template pattern from the mother ~ daughter team at Sewhere. I’ve used the template to make bike shorts for myself.

I measured the younger’s circumference at her waist, hips, knees and ankles. Next came the vertical measurements between waist – hips – knees – ankles, then I measured her outside leg. These transfer to points on the template.

Joining the dots means I got a leggings pattern for the younger. Cut out two legs and away I went. The beauty of black DBP is that it has no observable nap or right/wrong side.

I stitched up the inside leg and crotch using a three thread overlock stitch. The younger likes having stretch thread in the loopers – so soft on her skin. I gave her many colourful options for cover stitching the waistband and hems:







The younger refused everything. She insisted on black for the waistband and no hemming at all at the ankles.


Fabric – Black DBP from LA Finch fabrics  $10.00

Elastic – black 2.5cm ribbed elastic $1.50

Pattern – M2M leggings $20.00

Totals = approximately $32.00, allows money for elastic and thread.

Do it again? Oh yes, this was a fuss free make.

The younger is happy!

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Style Arc Fifi – Kibbe sewing one

I am slowly trying out new trouser patterns. Several of these have been from Style Arc, with rather mixed results. Style Arc patterns are known for their sparse instructions, contemporary designs and superb drafting. All true. Style Arc is a trio of three terrific women from Melbourne. I’ve been to their offices twice via the Frocktails shopping tours and would like to support them.

I bought the Fifi trousers hoping it would be a blend of easy to make and wear trousers, with pockets. As it turns out, they fit the more relaxed edge of the Kibbe Classic, it has a yoke, slanted front pockets, clean lines. Yay! As an added bonus, these are trousers I can wear for work in my slightly increasing small business.

Image from Style Arc website

I checked the finished measurements against me, everything matched up OK (ish). I decided to just make the three quarter length. As always, the drafting was spot on. The waist elastic instruction was to cut the waist measurement, but neglected to suggest subtracting the front panel length. Fortunately I realised in time.

The pocket gapes a bit and shows the lining fabric.

The elastic waist gives a rather square shape. As it will be covered by a shirt, that is OK. I think it is time to accept that I will always need a zip. This is the waist at the back.

There is just enough stretch in the waistband to squeeze past my hips and bottom. I liked the nice deep hem I got when I chose the right length for me. This was accidental, but something to remember.

The details:

Pattern – Fifi trousers – Style Arc                            $5.00 (on sale)

Fabric – 1.6m of navy blue lightweight denim with minimal stretch, from stash, uncertain origin. Pocket lining was cut from the scraps of my husband’s waistcoat lining. No idea how much either fabric was.

Elastic – also from stash, but recent. I think it was $1.50 per metre and I used around 70cm.   $1.00

Interfacing – I used sew in woven interfacing which is quite firm. It was leftover from a certain dress made for my daughter. I originally bought 2 metres x 120cm and used almost 30cm. There is a lot of this stuff left!

Total in money – $6.50

Do it again? Very likely. With alterations to the pocket bag, I’ll connect it to the centre front seam and maybe consider a centre front zip.  A zip opening would give extra space and mean that I could reduce the elastic to the back waist only.



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Kibbe sewing

I’ve been enjoying the wonderful series by Doctor T Designs on the Kibbe method for determining what styles of clothing suit women. The method is incredibly detailed with several main types, each with sub-type variants. Doctor T goes into a lot of detail about each type and then each sub-type. She then provides three levels of formality and detail (from casual to evening wear) for each type.  To really underscore her amazing attention to detail all these posts are accompanied by multitudes of patterns and suggestions. Most of this happened in the latter part of 2018. Then on January 1st she created the Kibbe Challenge.

Normally I avoid the sewing world challenges. But this one really suits me. Step one is to determine my Kibbe type. Initially I thought I maybe the soft classic sub-type, but a review made me realise I am very much a Classic. Their clothes are typically:

  • Clean lines that follow the body shape.
  • No fussy details like ruffles, lace, sequins and dramatic sihouettes.
  • More likely to use natural fibres like wool and linen.
  • Emphasis on solid colours, prints are are understated and small.

The next few steps are about clearing out your existing wardrobe, working out what clothes you need that fit your lifestyle, finding the colours that best suit me and choosing patterns. Then Dr T suggests combining this with other sewing challenges like #sewnine or one of the SWAP variants.

OK! I can do this! I’m going to work Kibbe into my hopes for 2019 starting with number one – trousers. A Kibbe classic trousers are meant to have clean lines with a tapered/straight or boot cut leg. Some waist pleats but no gathers. Pockets are more likely to be inset rather than a patch feature. I rather get the feeling that the trousers are there to support whatever else you are wearing. So, simple and stylish, and possibly a little boring.



Black – using McCalls 6901 and the Palmer/Pletsch fitting course from Craftsy. I need black trousers for two work sites. These are most certainly Kibbe plain. If this pattern works as I hope, they will be the template for all future work trousers. All in wool blends.



Navy – Style Arc Teddy – I could wear these to work and probably will. They are perhaps a bit too interesting for Kibbe Classic trousers. Given I will be doing them in a navy wool blend I think they’ll be just fine.

Image from the Style Arc website





Navy – Style Arc Fifi – I’ve made the three quarter length. The pattern image makes them seem to have wide legs. Actually they have a straight cut from the thighs to hem. These will be in the next post.



I’ll probably alternate trousers with tops for work, then whatever else on my list that takes my fancy. My colours, how I found them and my proposed shirts and jacket, will all be in future posts.

Anyone else doing this?

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