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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Coffeeneuring rides 3 & 4

I wrote about the Coffeeneuring 2017 Challenge, from Chasing Mailboxes in this post.

My third ride was to a different bike shop with another bike. This time it was my cargo bike (Gazelle Cabby) that also needed a service and some exciting modifications. A post about them eventually. The tragedy of this trip is that I drank water. The shop’s espresso machine was on the blink and Sasha the owner was most disgruntled. She had to make do with filter coffee. (I understand, I really do)

Where – Melbourne – inner city suburbs

Distance – round trip of 7 kilometres

Drink – water, I had coffee at home!

Cafe cup/my cup? – my own mug

My fourth ride was just a spin around and a sit in a nice quiet park so I could read a book. Again I had water, this time I threw it out as it tasted terrible. So again, I had coffee at home.

Where – Melbourne – inner city suburbs

Distance – 8 kilometres

Drink – terrible water

Cafe cup/my cup? – my own thermos cup



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Graduation post 3 (final) – the gown and hood

Yes, I’m milking this for as many posts as I can!

My father was an academic and had several occasions each year where an academic gown was required. He died almost 30 years ago and his gown would have been at least 15 years old when he died. My mother kept it, ‘just in case’, and stored it for all these years.  She sent it to me for my graduation.

Contemporary gowns are polyester blends and can be many different colours, black or navy are the most common. This gown is black and made of heavyweight linen. It was made by Ede & Ravenscroft in London. They started business in the late 1600’s, are still trading and are still in Chancery Lane.

On this gown the sleeves are very long with a hole at elbow height for your arms to stick through.

The gown sits over a shirt or suit jacket and the weight of the gown keeps it from shifting.

Finally the hood goes over the top. It is either safety pinned onto the gown or attached to the button of your shirt. Usually the outside is the University’s colour and the inside is the faculty colour. Mine is dark blue, lined with cherry red. I bought this!

This gown is at least 45 years old, possibly more. It shows signs of wear and has thinned in areas where it was folded and stored. When I got it, it was almost grey in places. I took it to the dry cleaners with some trepidation. Happily it came back looking very black and good.

I did some darning and mending on the more obvious holes and decided not to worry about any others. This gown is elderly, no longer perfect, has clearly been used and has a family history.

The actual day was special on many levels. It was lovely to graduate again, I am very proud of having done a thesis. My family were there throughout the thesis and were there to share the graduation joy. The gown connection with my Dad was also special.









Click for links to the posts about my silk blouse and black trousers.

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