Monday, 7 March 2016

Sewing Catch-Up - February Makes

Ok, so I have been in part "a bit slack" and in part "a bit exhausted" to write a blog post (let alone sew for that matter!) since returning to work 3 weeks ago and working 5 days again for the first time in 8 years too!

But I thought I would quickly share a couple of projects I have recently finished and have been very much enjoying wearing or using!

Project #1 - Noodlehead Runaround Bag

The first is the above Noodlehead Runaround Bag, made with Cotton & Steel fabric. I purchased this kit from Craftsy. The kit comes with the Noodlehead pattern and the Cotton & Steel fabric. I had to purchase the bias tape, zip, thread and magnetic closure.

Not only did I really enjoy making this bag, but it is a great bag to use as well. I find the length of the handle just perfect.

This was the first zipper I have installed too and it was a lot of fun to install. Although the pattern said to purchase an 8" zipper, but you only cut an 7" opening? I luckily had a 7" zip in my stash and it happened to be the perfect colour.

This was my first time working with Cotton & Steel fabric and it won't be my last! It is really a quality fabric and the colours are sensational.

I did all the options on this bag and inserted a magnetic closure (which if omitted makes the bag reversible) and I did a zip pocket and a standard interior pocket but sewn into two pockets as the patterns suggests also.

I have had a lot of comments about this bag, including enquiries as to if I would make and sell bags, so I think this bag qualifies as a success! I know I love it and will be careful not to leave the lids off any pens in it as I would be devastated if it was ruined! I think there will be more of this bag in my future :)

Project #2 - Simplicity 1884 Blouse

Another favourite completed project in February was a colourful sleeveless blouse I made with Simplicity 1884 pattern. I chose not to attach the sash/tie at the neckline, as I thought with the fabric I chose it might be a bit too busy.

The fabric is a rayon fabric purchased from Spotlight, it was perfect for this project. I have really enjoyed wearing it, it is light and works great under a cardigan in the office. Plus it frames nicely a simple necklace. I wear it either tucked in or belted with a skirt. I would prefer it were a couple of inches longer to wear untucked with pants.

It was a simple project to make, but I am not sure I would have been as confident in making it if I had not made previous projects with detailed instructions.

I have bookmarked more of my fabric stash for this pattern and I want to make the kimono jacket for this Simplicity pattern too.

Project #3 - Make it Perfect Coastal Breeze (with painted fabric)

I think I first came across this pattern on pinterest and I was thrilled to see it was made by an Aussie designer Make it Perfect. The Coastal Breeze dress is described as the dress that feels like a t-shirt…. I am not sure it does feel like a t-shirt but I am in love with this dress…... 

I bought the "Army Green" fabric online with this sewing pattern in mind, but wasn't feeling that inspired upon receiving the fabric in the mail.

But then I saw the "Printing Polka Dots on Knits" article in a back issue of Seamwork magazine and I got inspired……

 I couldn't find the screen printing paint the article recommended but I did manage to find some fabric paint online that would do the job. I bought a few colour to play with: gold, black, white and buttermilk. I ended up just using the black for this project.

I played around with a few patterns before abandoning the polka dot idea in favour of a stencil I purchased on impulse when buying the fabric paint.

The stencil worked beautifully and created a lovely even finish, so even you couldn't pick where the stencil had to be overlaid.

The Coastal Breeze instructions suggest using a contrasting fabric for the waistband and I was otherwise thinking of using black, but I think the painted finish worked even better. After painting the waistband and testing it with an iron I decided to add a more detail to the neckband and painted that too….It had nothing to do with the fact that I really enjoyed painting the fabric ;)

In regard to the construction of the  garment I really love the waistband. It is such a great way to create interest but also attach a skirt to a bodice and an alternative to elastic. 

The Coastal Breeze is designed to have pleats at the front and back. I did this as instructed, but having googled some images I see that other have just used gathers. I found the pleats very "tummy friendly" at the font, in combination with the empire waistline, but they don't look as great on me at the "rear". So I think I will try a combination of pleats (front) and gathers (back) next time.
I also find the length a little shorter than I'd like so I have been wearing it with leggings underneath. I think I will aim for a below/on the knee next time. I would also like to experiment with a possible alternate bodice, just to mix things up.

In regard to the fabric painting….I'm sold. If the right project comes up again I would definitely consider painting a plain fabric with some decorative detail again. I have worn and washed my dress a couple of times already and it still looks like it did when freshly painted (see pic above).

Well I have a few more sewing projects planned for March which I look forward to sharing soon!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, 22 February 2016

Two Sewing Pledges

I'm making a Vintage Pledge 

If you put it on the internet it must be true? Right?

Well at least it might make me more accountable!

I am going to join in the 2016 Vintage Sewing Pledge. (Ok, now I must go through with it….right?)

What is the Vintage Pledge? The Vintage Pledge is hosted by two lovely blogs A Stitch Odyssey and Kestral Makes who made their initial pledges back in 2014. Many were inspired and this marks the third year of the pledge.

A pledge can be as specific or as flexible as you like, there is only one 'rule', that you must use vintage or reproduction patterns.

I have a few Stretch/Knit sewing patterns I picked up from an Antiques/Collectible shop in Strathalbyn last year. They are from the late 1970's, they range between 1977 and 1978.

My pledge is to make one top and one skirt…..

I going to attempt the square neck variation of the short sleeve raglan top and…..

one of the multi panelled A line skirts.

Maybe I will be able to find some 70's inspired material?

Why am I making a Vintage Pledge?

Just because it is old doesn't mean it is not as good or stylish. I predict I may learn a lot from following a vintage sewing pattern.

I'm making the Seamless Pledge too!

In addition to joining into the Vintage Pledge, I am making a Seamless Pledge to create an additional challenge for myself.

I will only sew, refashion or buy pre-loved clothes for myself this year.

The rules I am setting myself (which compliment the Seamless Pledge) are:

  1. I can buy new shoes, jewellery, underwear and accessories etc (however refer to rule 5)
  2. Clothes can be new if purchased from a Charity shop
  3. The challenge only applies to me, but where possible I will do this for my family as well.
  4. If possible I will up cycle/refashion vintage or secondhand clothes to make new or updated items.
  5. I will support local handmade designers and artists wherever possible!

Why make this pledge?

  • I really find sewing, making and wearing clothing I know I created extremely fulfilling.
  • I get frustrated by how easy it is to buy and discard things in today's society.
  • By buying pre-loved clothing I am helping to recycle, up cycle and supporting a charity as a bonus.
  • I love the idea of supporting local artists and my local economy. Not to mention the unique and special handmade items available!
  • To inspire others to maybe start sewing, refashion old favourites or check out their local charity shop or artisan craft market/store.
I had already decided to make this pledge when I discovered a similar pledge on the Seamless blog. Elena made her original pledge in 2011 and people are still signing up!
Elena says:  
Seamless is a challenge. Who needs new clothes when you can stitch and thrift to your heart’s content? 
Elena I agree!

I hope I have you thinking about it too :)

Thanks for reading,

Monday, 8 February 2016

Two Dresses: Wren & Staple

Hi all,

I have been keeping busy preparing and planning a new wardrobe for when I return to work next week (eeeek). I have been planning my wardrobe around what I think suits me, pieces that will work together and utilising my existing wardrobe.

I work in an office environment in a 5 star "green" building. This means we all suffer hot and cold spots around the building and in meeting rooms. So my plans include a few dresses, some blouses and a "smartish" cardigan.

I have also been reviewing my accessories and indulging in some locally and handmade goodies.

Dress #1

The first back to work dress is a navy Wren Dress. This is my second Wren dress, although my first was sleeveless. I *wish* it looked as good as it goes on the model below, but I am pretty happy with it. The Wren is definitely going to be my go to dress pattern when working with knits.

Colette Patterns: Wren

My Navy attempt :)

I love the fabric I used this time which I bought from an ebay seller. It is a soft ITY Polyester Spandex Jersey. The only trouble I had with it was telling the right from the wrong side. It draped beautifully with this dress and I would definitely use it again. In fact I'd love to try make a skirt using the Wren pattern but adding a waist band.

I did have a slight hiccup with this dress when I was attaching the bodice to the skirt. When the overlocker cut through the gathering elastic I lost the gathers and my seam misaligned. Fortunately I realised immediately (which reduced the unpicking - sigh) and was able to fix it. I had only just started stitching and I must have chosen a spot where the elastic was very taunt. I didn't have this problem when I made my first Wren. Attaching the bodice to the waistband is still something I am trying to perfect and I might need to do a little more research and glean some tips before I make my next Wren.

Luckily (after sleeping on it) I was able to get back not track by adding a patch of elastic into the gathering line and start again.

I am planning on making a black long sleeve Wren for Autumn too. I love the Wren dress :)

Dress #2

The second dress was my first woven dress! The April Rhodes Staple Dress.

This is the gorgeous image used for the pattern paper packet.

My (first, of many) Staple Dress's

 I really enjoyed making this dress, the instructions are really clear and they made, an otherwise daunting, french seam enjoyable to make.

 I bought the paper version of the pattern from Stitch56 on sale. One of the benefits of being a new to sewing is all patterns are new and The Staple dress has been around for a little while now. There is heaps of inspiration out there for the Staple Dress from other seamstresses too.

When I bought the pattern I intended to make the classic straight hem version, but I opted to make the drop hem style and I am NOT regretting that decision!

It looks great with my new Days of August necklace 

The trickiest part for me was the binding on the armholes, as it was a bit fiddly. But I found the neck binding and even the hemming (with the curve of the drop hem) quite straight forward. The neck did turn out quite large on me, so I may need to make some adjustments next time.

With the shirring at the waist I opted for clear elastic, as I have a Brother Sewing Machine with a drop bobbin "thingie" and I had read that shirring with elastic thread is not an option (although I did find a video where you can make an adjustment to the bobbin). I chose the option of only shirring (or gathering) the waist once, but I may try out more in the next dress.

Although I love working with knit fabrics and making knit dresses, there are so many gorgeous woven fabrics around that I think I shall have to keep making more ;)

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Seamwork Rio

I sewed my first Seamwork pattern!

 Once I discovered Seamwork I showed amazing restraint in not subscribing immediately after I saw the patterns available, and I love that you can choose any two each month. I was only able to refrain as it was so close to my birthday and Christmas. In the mean time I drooled over the patterns planning what I wanted to make first!

When I finally subscribed, the latest Body Issue was out and after seeing the pictures of the Rio on the beautiful real model Seamwork used I knew I wanted the Rio to be my first project. I loved the look of the drop hem at the back and the split hem.

I purchased two lots of fabric that was going to be either used for the Rio or a Santa Fe by Peekaboo Patterns. As I have already made one Santa Fe I wanted to start with the Rio.

I loved, loved, loved making this t-shirt. I love the pattern instructions, I have only made one other (so far anyway!) Colette Pattern, the Wren, and I found the instructions just as consistent and perfect for a sewing newbie like me.

I did have a couple of "Hmmm" (aka problem solving) moments with sewing the split hem and attaching the neckband.

Before, looks a bit messy
I found with the material I purchased (from Spotlight) curled a little on the raw edges. So I reinforced the split with some iron-on interfacing, which worked a treat. I also found I needed to add a little interfacing to bar-tack the top of the split hem to ensure the stitching would not come undone. I also double stitched the bar-tack as well.

With interfacing from the wrong side, prior to the bar-tack

My best twin needle stitching to date - Go Me!!

When attaching the neckband the instructions suggest lining up the seams of the neckband and the left shoulder. However I found with such a large scoop neck it was difficult to get the neckband even. So I put the neckband seam at the centre of the back and it was much easier to pin the raw edges evenly.

As I was in between two sizes I adjusted the pattern. This was not something I had tried before and I wanted to ensure a good fit. The instructions suggest making the bigger of the two sizes but I had already cut out my pattern pieces before I read that suggestion. Luckily I think I got a better fit by adjusting the pattern, so I don't regret my reading oversight!


I used the following Tutorial by The Sewing Geek to adjust the pattern. I found the diagrams used in particular helpful as I admit I didn't read much as I was in a rush (ok I was being impatient due to limited sewing time).

I really enjoyed sewing this t-shirt and I may make a second one with a contrasting coloured fabric for a patch pocket and neckband.

Thanks for reading!
SJ x

Potential for casual wardrobe?

Sunday, 17 January 2016

A little about me

Hi there!

Thank you for taking the time to pop by my new (and first) blog.

I thought I should start with a little information about me.

My name is Sarah-Jane, but my friends call me SJ. I am a married mother of two in Adelaide, Australia. I have recently learnt to embrace my crafty "urges" and just have a go at a few things.

Me and Hubby 

Last year a brilliant friend taught me to crochet, which once I got the hang of it, I found it very relaxing, as it made me be in the moment more.




Soon after, the same wonderful friend inspired me to attempt sewing again.

I had not sewed since high school. I elected to do an additional term of sewing at school because I was interested in dressmaking. I vaguely recall the hideous velvet hooded dress, and I think it was a black and white spotted short jumpsuit (it was the beginning of the 90's) that I not only made, but modelled at a school assembly to Right Said Fred's "I'm too Sexy…". Ooh yeah, I was deeply scarred!

In 2010 I got tempted again, and got a shiny new Brother sewing machine for my birthday. I got it home, I read the instructions, wound a bobbin and threaded a needle. I purchased a stack of lovely fabrics to make nappy bags, burp cloths, bibs, shorts etc… Maybe it was Right Said Fred's fault, but I couldn't gather the courage to use my machine.

But 2015 was a turning point for me, and I finally got the courage to lower the presser foot and start sewing. Despite the time that has passed, and the humiliation of my high school assembly…I find myself remembering things my teacher Mrs Creasy used to say, and I remembered my hate of "tacking" (or basting), but I can actually see why it is important now.

My first sewing project was a kwiksew skirt for my daughter, which she loved, and now I have more patterns and projects planned than I have time!

Colette Wren, version 2 but sleeveless

Peekaboo Patterns Santa Fe T-Shirt, 3/4 sleeve option

Peekaboo Patterns Janey Jump Around


But one thing I have come to realise is that I love sewing, and in particular with knit/stretch fabrics. I often get green with envy at the choice and variety available in the UK and the USA. I wish we had the same options in Australia. Shipping makes it cost prohibitive, but I may need to make an exception soon. But thank goodness at least for PDF patterns!

I hope this blog helps me to connect with the sewing community out there, and if possible, I hope I can inspire someone else to "lower the presser foot" too!

My kids keep asking me what is a blog? My husband explained it as keeping a diary about something that interests you, and sharing it with others. And so, my diary begins!

Thanks for reading,