Monday, 28 December 2015

I Made It Monday: My Christmas Dress.

For my Christmas dress I decided to brave knit fabric.  A fabric that has  previously struck terror into my heart due to many failed attempts sewing with it.


I had always used my trusty old 1960's Lemair machine, however it skipped stitches and looked a mess.  I was using the correct needle, but the results were terrible.  When my Mum gave me her 1976 Bernina 807 I decided to give knits another try.  And it worked!  No skipped stitches or breaking stitches, happy days!  I even used a double needle for the hem with no dramas!

I had this lovely red organic cotton jersey in my stash which was just asking to be a Christmas dress!  I found this free pattern online by So Sew Easy, which promised to be simple, and it was! 

I didn't make a muslin, so the fit is not perfect.  I would have liked the shoulders to be slightly wider, but other than that I am happy with it.  I didn't have to add length to the bodice, which is unusual for me.  If you're not tall or don't have a long body you may need to shorten it.  I did add length to the skirt (standard!).

To dress it up a little I added some vintage sequin trim from Nona's stash.  It's actually a dark brown, but looks black from a distance. 

Friends on Instagram had been telling me how easy sewing with knits was, and they were right.  I just needed a machine that could handle them! 

Photos c/o my wonderful Husband

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! 

I hope your 2016 is filled with love, happiness and good health.  A new year always seems like it will be filled with exciting new possibilities and grand plans, but the older and wiser I get the more I realise that all you need are those three things (anyone else singing "All you need is love" in their head... just me?... bet you are now!). 

I started my little blog this year to document my sewing adventures and to share with others.  I've been overwhelmed with the positivity and support I've received by wonderful people like you from all over the world.  I cannot thank you enough!  It is very humbling to know I may have touched your life in some small way.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Fast & Easy Nativity Play Costumes

So last year my 2 little girls were in our Church's Nativity Play.  There were about 6 kids; it was adorable.  This year when I was asked to help make costumes I said I'd love to!  (Those of you who have had this experience are now shaking your heads and laughing, I know that now).  I had visions of those 6 little treasures wearing beautifully handcrafted and adorned costumes fitting of a tribute to our Lord.  At the first rehearsal there were about 12 kids, no problems I can do this.  At the 2nd rehearsal there were more than 20 (or was it 100...it sure felt that way!). 

All jokes aside; I am happy to be of service to our Church.  But I am also time poor (work, kids, house... you know...).  So I racked my brain to come up with the easiest possible costumes. 

I consulted Pinterest; saw beautiful costumes and was further wracked with guilt because I didn't have that kind of time! 

Here are my top tips for the time poor Nativity play costumer:

1. Use knit fabric!  It doesn't need hemming as it doesn't fray - massive time saver!  Also, knit robes will fit the more *ahem* rotund children more easily.

2. Make the most of the selvedge edge (the edge that doesn't fray, for those new to this fabric thing) if, like me, you need to use woven fabric.  Use the selvedge as a hem, you don't have to sew it.  Time saver!

3.  Keep it simple.  I'm sure we all start of with grand costuming ideas, but that takes time, time I didn't have.  A simple but effective costume will work every time.  Hey, if a child or pushy stage mother parent wants an elaborate costume they are welcome to make it themselves. 

4.  Get in production line mode by doing all of the cutting first, then all of the sewing.  Take frequent breaks and be thankful you don't work in a sweat shop! 

Head dress - make as long as needed (without tripping child)

A robe, I forgot to show the waist tie, but you know what that looks like!

Good luck! 
No seriously, I mean it... good luck!

Monday, 30 November 2015

I Made It Monday: MuMu to Marvelous!

I was gifted a pile of fabric recently and amongst it were some half made dresses.

This little (or not so little!) number was begging for a refashion.  It is such pretty fabric!

The Seamstress who gifted this fabric was obviously very talented; nothing but perfect French seams and pleating.  I wanted to honour her skill, so used French seams to finish the dress.

First up, those giant flutter sleeves had to go.  Does anyone else think of the sails of the Sydney Opera House when you look at them?  No, just me?!

I cut the dress off at the waist, took in the bodice and added a side zip.  I then simply gathered the skirt (as you can see, there was lots of fabric to work with!) and reattached it.

Ta da!  From MuMu to what is fast becoming one of my favourite dresses.

It's MuMu - tastic!

Modelled by Myrtle; apologies for no photos of me wearing it... yet...


A late addition - me wearing the dress!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Remarkable Generosity and Kindness!

I've been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks, but I was struggling to come up with the words to express my deep appreciation and heartfelt thanks for the generosity of Kaersten Cooper, Founder & Designer of MARGE clothing.

Kaersten contacted me and asked if I would be interested in receiving some fabrics from MARGE clothing. They are a conscientious and ethical company, only sourcing fabrics from ethical manufacturers in Europe and USA; in addition to this they don't believe in waste.  I was very generously offered remnants and samples to turn into garments of my own. 

I said yes immediately and was (and still am) so touched by the kindness and generosity of this offer.  I don't indulge myself in luxurious fabrics for financial reasons and also because I'm scared my sewing skills don't warrant luxury fabrics.  It's one thing to mess up a dress you're making out of a vintage sheet, a very different thing to mess up a gorgeous piece of silk! 

When the box of fabrics arrived I was like a child at Christmas!  If you've read "The Dressmaker" or seen the movie I definitely had my Sargent Farrat moment dancing around with the beautiful fabrics!

Working with these beautiful fabrics will be a marathon, not a sprint.  I want to do these gorgeous fabrics justice.

If you are not familiar with the gorgeous MARGE clothing for tall women see here:



It is nothing short of remarkable that this company, who really live their ethical views of fabric sourcing and manufacturing, reached out to me.  I have so much admiration for the fact that they put people ahead of profits and only use ethically made fabrics. 

MARGE clothing is currently having an amazing "Gratitude Sale" with 40% off the F/W 2015 line.  Now is the time to purchase yourself something exquisite and timeless.  This is truly a very special company who deserves our support.

Thank you again for this gift, I appreciate it more than my words can express.

Top featuring gorgeous fabric c/o MARGE Clothing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Olive you!

I love olive year round, it works for the cooler months but also for summer.  Olive you, hehe!

This summer is predicted to be a scorcher here in Australia, so I wants a cool breezy lightweight dress that could also double as a beach cover up.  I made this dress using cotton cheesecloth (which is a light weight crinkly fabric, no ironing!).

I used a vintage McCall's pattern from 1979 (also embracing the 70's trend!).  I omitted the button packet in the front and gave my dress a curved hem with lace trim because:
A: any excuse to add lace
B: it felt more casual and a little less "mumu"

After looking at these pictures it is clear that more fitted dresses suit my body shape better, but this one will keep me cool!

Monday, 16 November 2015

I Made It Monday: Chambray Love

I love the versatility of separates, however I also love a dress (it's no brainer dressing!).  So to get the best of both worlds I made a top and skirt using the same soft black chambray. 

I made the top using Simplicity pattern 1364, a reproduction vintage pattern.  I made just a couple of slight modifications: added length (standard for me!), lowered the front neckline by 1cm and added some bias tape to the sleeves.  The bias tape is a pretty liberty print lovingly made by a dear friend 40+ years ago.  I had to use it!

The skirt is a self drafted half circle skirt.  Apparently I did not learn from my mistakes made with this circle skirt as I had to take this one in twice.  I'm starting to think I should just stick to my pleated midi skirts, circle skirts and I don't get along!  If only they weren't so pretty!


Photos c/o my wonderful Husband
Who can't help but take photos whilst I'm walking & talking.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Tall Girl Upgrade: Shirt Dress

I was given this pre-loved shirt dress many years ago.  I liked it, but it didn't fit well (story of my life!) so I'd wear it on occasions when I knew I wouldn't have to sit much because it became too short when I sat and the buttons would gape.  Not very practical! 

Of course, once I became a Mama I was unable to wear it all.  Motherhood involves constant bending, lifting and having tiny humans climb into your lap and at worst try to practice their button skills on your dress!  Not cool!

To make this dress work for my real life I gave it a simple tall girl upgrade.  Here's how I did it:

1. I sewed closed the buttons from the waist down.  This is simply done by working out how far you need the dress to open to get into it and then sew from that point to the hem.  Bye bye gaping! 

2.  I added length with a floral boarder; this fabric was left over from my favourite midi skirt and the blue in the floral matches the dress. To balance out the floral hem I made a matching sash.

3. I moved the belt loops down.  The original placing of the belt loops was above my waist, so I unpicked them and moved them to my actual waist.

Ta da!  Now I have a shirt dress that is both flattering and practical! 

One eyebrow raised in a scrupulous fashion; I knew this wasn't going well.
I apologize for the poor quality photos.  I almost didn't post them, but hoped you'd be forgiving! 

Here's my list of excuses:

1. It rained all week so I couldn't do outdoor photos.

2. Only my daughter was available as photographer and I thought she would be better than mirror selfies.

3. I was wrong, I should have gone with mirror selfies!  Since turning 4 her photography skills have seriously deteriorated.  I also have a 2.5yr old, so may give her a go as my photo minion. 

4. After wearing this dress to church I had a mystery stain on it (thanks girls!) so couldn't take more photos until the dress was washed... given that it's still rainy it would take ages to dry as I don't put my clothes in the dryer as I can't afford to loose any valuable length!

Oh excuses, excuses! 

Monday, 2 November 2015

I Made It Monday: Old + Older = New

Old + Older = New.  Makes sense right?!

A little while ago I given some fabric and patterns which had belonged to my Great Grandmother Mabel, who I never had the pleasure of meeting.  Mabel made all of her own clothes and undergarments, and was a concert pianist! 

From the stash, circa 50's or 60's, I made this midi skirt.  There were also a lot of off cuts, rolled together and secured with the selvedge of the fabric.  I love the mindset of nothing wasted!  This fabric was in that stash; it's beautiful!

There was not enough to make a whole top so I took a white linen shirt which I bought on my first trip to New York City in 1995 (wow, can't believe that was 20 years ago!).  I rarely wore the top, but saved it all these years because of the memories attached to it.

Using my trusty New Look pattern 6194 I made myself a top.  I love the classic style of this top.  I didn't want to waste this special fabric on a "trendy" top that I wouldn't wear in a year or two.  I made a couple of slight modifications to the pattern: I added length (standard for me!) and as I used an existing shirt for the back I didn't need to add the darts from the pattern on the back.

Ta da!  A beautiful new top which I treasure.  I hope Mabel would be proud of how I used her fabric scraps.

Pants: Made By Me (self drafted)
Top: Made By Me using New Look Pattern 6194

I used the pretty trim around the neck and to add sleeves.

Miss 3 in the background, who will be Miss 4 tomorrow!

Photos c/o of wonderful Husband

50 or 60 year old fabric + 20 year old fabric = a new top full of special meaning and wonderful memories! 
I really love it! 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Great news for us tall Aussie ladies!

Here in Australia we are sadly lacking retailers for tall women.  But do not despair my tall sisters - Amalli Talli is now shipping internationally!  Yay! 

I've been stalking following Amalli Talli on instagram for a long time now.  They are a USA based company dedicated (yes, dedicated... not just carrying one or two pairs of "long" pants... I'm looking at you Target Australia) to casual clothing for tall women.

The company is run by 2 gorgeous sisters, Amy and Alli, who are 6'3" and 5'10" respectively so they understand the struggle to find well fitting clothing.

As they are USA based, and the seasons are opposite, it's a great time for us Aussies to score some great deals on their summer clearance items (bonus!) or to stock up for next year.  The jeans and pants they carry come in a variety of lengths which is fantastic!

Here are few of my fav's: 

Skirt with Pleats

Ivory Tunic Top

Sasha slim Boot cut

Navy Textured Pencil Skirt

High rise straight jeans

Make sure you check out Amalli Talli! 

This is not a sponsored post; I'm just excited that we have more tall clothing options in Australia now!

Monday, 26 October 2015

I Made It Monday: Easy DIY Maxi Dress

Today I'm wearing a lightweight cotton maxi dress. 

It's really simple to make and is the sort of effortless styling a busy Mama (or busy anyone!) needs.

This fabric was from an Ikea doona (duvet) cover! 
It's very thin so drapes nicely.

Oh, and I added pockets but we'll talk about pockets another time!
Photos c/o my wonderful Husband


Here's how I did it:
1. Take a very loose fitting Dolman sleeve top and trace around the front and back, adding a bit extra for seam allowances and your desired length to make it a maxi dress.  Make sure it's a loose flowing fit; if you cut it too wide you can always take it in later.

2. With right sides together sew the shoulder seams. **

3. Finish the neck line by folding over 1cm twice to make a neat hem, sew. **

4. Sew underarms and down the side seam, stopping and backstitching where you want the side slits to start. **

5.  Finish sleeves by folding over 1cm twice to make a neat hem, sew. **

6. Make a tube of fabric, same width as the dress.  Sew into dress at your natural waistline, leaving an opening to thread elastic.  Cut a piece of elastic which is your waist measurement + 2cm.  Thread into casing (tube) and securely sew closed.

7.  Neatly finish the side slits and hem by folding over 0.5cm twice to make a neat hem. **

8.  Give it all a good press and you're ready to go!

**Press with the hottest iron temperature your fabric will allow.  Trust me, pressing between each step makes sewing so much easier and gives you the best finish.

NB: all seam allowances are 1.5cm unless otherwise stated.

Just on a side note: this "trace around existing garment" method only really works for loose fitting, shapeless clothes.  If you are new to sewing and try it for something more fitted you'll be frustrated and disappointed.  An experienced seamstress can draft a pattern, but again that requires far more expertise than this method. 
If you are new to sewing, and my shonky instructions make you scratch your head (I apologize because they make sense to me!) then buy a pattern.  A purchased pattern will give you exact measurements and precise instructions.  For a budding seamstress I think patterns are a good way to start, it will build confidence and technique.  Unless of course you're the "jump in and give it a go type", then this method will work just fine!! 

Monday, 19 October 2015

I Made It Monday: New Look Pattern 6824

I'm calling this my Picnic Dress. 

Probably because the fabric was called "picnic check seersucker" from The Remnant Warehouse.  I must admit, I don't think beige is a good colour on me, but I do love the blue and green gingham and the gorgeous seersucker texture means no ironing!

This is the second dress I've made using the ever versatile New Look 6824 pattern (see the other version here).  I made some slight modifications for this dress:
  • Shortened the sleeves
  • Added about 10cm to the length of the skirt
  • Added pockets, because you always need pockets!
I know this won't be my last dress using this pattern.  It's easy to sew and to modify. 

Do you have a dress pattern that is your "go to"?

Because you always need pockets!

Photos c/o my wonderful Husband

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dress as Skirt

Do you sometimes see something so simple that you wonder why you didn't think of it?! 

I've seen lots of bloggers lately wearing dresses as skirts or tops.  Why didn't I think of that?!

This red pleated dress is another from my Mum's 1970's collection.  However, for my everyday wardrobe this red dress was a "bit much".  So I added a chambray shirt and now I feel like I can wear it out in the daytime without people wondering "where is she going?".

Of course I am wearing satin bow heels, but why not?! 

Photos c/o my wonderful Husband

Monday, 12 October 2015

I Made It Monday: Adding Sleeves & Length to a Top

This week I'm adding sleeves and much needed length to a top.

It is really simple to do and dramatically changes the look of a simple (boring) piece.  As a girly girl this was a great way for me to add a little lace to a summer staple.

I simply took a scrap of white knit fabric which was the same width as the bottom of my top and sewed lace to one edge.  I then sewed it to the bottom of the top.  As knit fabric doesn't fray it is very easy and forgiving to work with.

For the sleeves I simply took 2 rectangles of fabric which were as long as the armhole.  I sewed lace to the edge then attached to the arm holes of the top.  As I wanted more of a flutter sleeve than a fitted sleeve, and knit fabric stretches, you don't need to worry about ease or exact fitting.

Simple but very effective! 

Top: Refashioned by Me / Jeans: Refashioned by Me / Shoes: Taking Shape

Photos c/o my wonderful Husband

Thursday, 8 October 2015

70's Style My Way

The fashion world is talking about how the 1970's look is back.  I've seen people looking fabulous in flares, fringe and long vests.  But that look just isn't me.

I firmly believe that no matter what the trends are, you need to stay true to your personal style.  You won't feel comfortable wearing something that doesn't fit with your style.  Feeling comfortable and confident is far more attractive (and important) than being trendy. 

If I were to wear flares and a long fringed vest I'd feel like I was playing dress ups or wearing a costume.  Fortunately the 70's was more than these "hippy looks" as my Mum would say.

This dress belonged to my Mum and is from the 1970's.  She couldn't recall exactly when she bought it, but said it was before I was born so that makes it pre-1976.  The dress is made of that classic crunchy polyester... I'm thankful that the manufacture of synthetic fabrics has come a long way since then!

This is a 1970's look that fits my personal style! 


Photos c/o my wonderful Husband

Monday, 5 October 2015

I Made It Monday: DIY Circle Skirt

Welcome back to "I Made It Monday"!

Last week I made a couple of circle skirts for my little girls.  They loved them because nothing is more twirly than a circle skirt!  Which got me thinking: I don't have a circle skirt.  As you all know, I have a lot of pleated midi skirts and am now the proud owner of 2 maxi skirts, but no circle skirts.

That very same day that I had the "no circle skirt" revelation I was hunting for vintage dress patterns at my local Salvation Army and saw a pretty blue and green chambray meets gingham round table cloth.  A round table cloth could be turned into a circle skirt, right?!  The worst part, hemming, was already done!  For $3.00 I was going to give it a try! 

Now the internet does not need another circle skirt tutorial so I'm not going to give one.  Plus, I made so many mistakes with what should have been a very simple and straight forward project that I don't feel like I'm in a position to write a tutorial.

First I was going to put in an exposed elastic waistband, and cut the centre circle accordingly (to fit over my hips).  Then I decided that a waistband with a zipper would look more polished.  I had cut such a huge circle (clearly my mathematics was off) that I was able to cut a waistband out of the off cut.  I sewed that to my skirt and sewed in a zip... however I had failed to try the skirt on (BIG mistake) and when I put it on it fell right off.  Sigh... it was a bit big! 

At this point I was ready to re-donate it to the Salvation Army, but I refuse to be beaten.  So I unpicked the zip, which just made me begrudge the skirt more, and sewed up the hole and threaded elastic through the waistband.

If you've stuck with me through this ranting comedy of errors I commend you!  Basically what was going to be an elastic waisted skirt took some time consuming and frustrating detours just to end up being an elastic waisted skirt.  If it wasn't so pretty I wouldn't have stuck with it!

Top: Refashioned by Me (coming to blog next week) / Skirt: Me / Sandals: Big W

And you can't help but twirl like a little girl in a circle skirt!

Photos c/o my wonderful Husband