Saturday, 28 January 2017

A Pink Flamingo "Essential Wristlet"

As predicted the Genoa Tote was my gateway sewing drug to all things zippers! I'm not putting zippers in to clothes (yet) but I'm having fun making purses, bags, and cushion covers. I'm quite fond of a clutch with wrist strap. Enter "the Essential Wristlet" by Dog Under My Desk.

The outer fabric is from Spotlight - purchased for another Genoa Tote that I've cut out and not yet made up. The lining is chambray from Tessuti bought for a Sewaholic Rae Skirt that I've never finished. I had enough left over for the lining of the aforementioned Genoa Tote, but the lining of this wristlet.

I made the large size wristlet, but next time I want to increase the size by at least an inch as I carry a lot of stuff with me - mainly my Ventolin requires more space as it's awkwardly shaped. The method for inserting the zipper is quite different, so I'll have to do some maths to then figure out how long the zipper needs to be.

The purse has a pocket for your cards - I did this part twice as my first attempt was a bit sloppy looking. You can also see a little tab over the end of the zipper (on the left hand side) and some magic fandangling happens at the other end to ensure no zipper tape is in the seam allowance, thus reducing bulk.

I did have a big of trouble when it came to putting together the lining, sew in interfacing and outer fabric. Luckily I was able to ask Erin, the pattern designer, for some help - and Dave has good spatial abilities - so I got there in the end. I'm including this picture so I can look back on it for next time and remind myself how I put it all together.

I'm going to be taking this to work with me. I often have to go between buildings and don't want to carry my entire bag with me especially when I doing WHS inspections. This will be useful to put my phone, Ventolin etc in. Pretty and useful. Winning!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Tent dress no. 2

I had in my mind that I needed a knit Gabby Dress in either black or navy blue. Of course when you really want something that's when it's impossible to find the fabric that you want! Instead I found this great viscose/elastane at Tessuti - black with a thin rust stripe. It feels lovely to wear and was a dream to sew with.

To say I love this dress is an understatement! I wore it to work on Monday and felt really comfortable and "modern". Also, it would look GREAT with my tan or black clogs which is an important consideration for me. Really!

The stripes were very wavy once the fabric was washed and ironed and I had trouble matching up the stripes when the fabric was laid out to cut on the fold. Instead I opened up the fabric to cut the pieces flat -- but like last time I didn't have quite enough fabric so the back has a seam down the centre back.

Unlike last time I managed to match the stripes...not perfect, but "almost".

I've once again cut the neckband against the grain as the fabric was stretchy enough to allow me to do this. I like how this adds a bit of interest to the dress. I forgot to mention in my last post that I did lower the neckline of the dress - cut at the XS size, rather than the XL as I like my necklines to be lower.

Once again the dress has been sewn entirely on the overlocker using a slightly bigger seam allowance than normal (as the straight XL would be too tent like). Hems and topstitching is sewn with a slightly larger straight stitch.

I really do want one of this in Navy Blue - so that's my next fabric hunting mission. Wish me luck!


Pattern: "Gabby Dress" by Tessuti
Size: XL
Modifications: lengthened by 5cm, neckline cut lower
Fabric: Rust Liner from Tessuti (92% Viscose 8% Spandex Jersey)
Changes for next time: none

Saturday, 14 January 2017

I made a TENT! (aka Tessuti's Gabby Dress)

It's been at least 18 months since I made a knit Gabby Dress - not sure why I fell off the wagon as it's a pattern that has always worked for me (in a knit). When I bought this fabric from Tessuti earlier in the week (yes, I also have a Mandy Boat Tee in this fabric and I LOVE it) I had the Marianne Dress in mind. In the back of my mind though I thought it would also look great as a big, swingy tent dress. And that's exactly what I've made!

I've put on weight since my last Gabby Dress so I made the XL this time...with a slightly bigger seam allowance than I usually sew on the overlocker. I also added 5cm to the length as the dress is quite short. Not a problem when worn in winter with tights but for summer I like this at knee length.

If you look closely you'll see there's a seam down the centre back. I probably could've cut it on the fold as the fabric was 155cm wide but it was hot and I couldn't be bothered playing around with the fabric. The stripes line up well so I'm happy. I'm calling this a design feature.

The stripes on the side seam however - whoops! I thought I was laying out the fabric so that my side seams would match but clearly that is not what I was doing at all. I think it looks OK however as the dress is not a straight dress which would make the non-matching stripes very very obvious. I'm also calling this a design feature.

The fabric has good stretch in both directions so I was able to cut the neckband against the grain. I really love how this looks!


Pattern: "Gabby Dress" by Tessuti
Size: XL
Modifications: lengthened by 5cm
Fabric: Black Truffle Grey from Tessuti (92% Viscose 8% Spandex Jersey)
Changes for next time: none

Friday, 13 January 2017

The double-fronted Marianne Dress

What's wrong with this picture? dress has two front pieces and no back piece. Whoops. I obviously wasn't paying attention when I was cutting out this Marianne Dress is this much-loved fabric that I had bought from Tessuti for a Mandy Boat Tee but decided to use for this dress instead. 

Luckily the front of this dress is not overly low (despite my lowering it quite a bit as the orignal neckline was way too high for me) and it has worked out OK as the back of the dress also. I had thought the wide neckline might meant he dress will fall of my shoulders, but I wore it today and am happy to report that no wardrobe malfunctions occurred. 

This fabric is quite a lightweight Viscose/Elastane. I wasn't sure if it was too thin/light for a dress, but it served me well in today's heatwave (another 38c day here in Sydney). The fabric drapes really well and as a result my sleeve-bands sit quite well. I added clear elastic to the shoulders to ensure they don't stretch out (I also did this for my last make but forgot to mention it).

My silly mistake could have made this dress a total disaster but it has turned out really well. It's lovely and cool to wear and I might even take it with me on my holiday to Vietnam that's coming up in a few months.


Pattern: Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes
Size: 18
Modifications: added quite a bit to the neckband length to accommodate the larger neckline due to my mistake of cutting two fronts, added 1" to the length
Fabric: "Painted Leaves Nero" from Tessuti (94% Viscose 6% Elastane)
Changes for next time: none for the short sleeved version; but when I made the long sleeved version I need to added some width to the lower sleeve piece.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Another striped Marianne Dress

Now that I've worked out the fit on the Marianne Dress it seemed appropriate to make a summery version as Sydney swelters through yet another heatwave. This weather is AWFUL and every year I find the heat harder and harder to take. It's currently 38c where I live so something cool to wear is definitely in order!

This is the second (and last) piece of fabric I bought with the Tessuti voucher Dave gave me for Christmas. It's a Viscose/Spandex blend that was lovely to sew with and feels nice to wear. The stripes are actually navy and the background is a grey marle but it's is hard to make the colours out in these (or any photos).

I sewed the same size as last time (an 18) but the armholes seemed very big/low so I tweaked that a little. The dress then seems to be slightly tighter around my butt. No idea what's going on!  I finished the arms with a band again as I like the way it looks...mostly.

There seems to be less pooling of fabric above my butt than my last Marianne Dress - no idea why as this one actually feels a bit snugger. Sewing! Who can figure it out....not me.

The fabric has good four-way stretch so I decided to cut the neck and sleeve bands against the grain - I really like the way the neckband looks but I think it's lost a little on the sleeves.

I wore this dress out to lunch today (yes, I left the house voluntarily in this stinking heat) and the dress felt cool and comfortable. I teamed it with a me-made necklace and my Genoa Tote and I felt pretty swish and fashionable I must say. 

I've just cut out another Marianne Dress so watch this space!

Pattern: Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes
Size: 18
Modifications: added 2" to the neckband length, added 1" to the length, lowered the neckline all the way around by about 1cm
Fabric: "Silver Navy Liner" from Tessuti (viscose/spandex blend)
Changes for next time: none for the short sleeved version; but when I made the long sleeved version I need to added some width to the lower sleeve piece.

Monday, 9 January 2017

New (long overdue) cushion covers

And the zippers just keep on coming! This is another project that has been years in the making with the fabric bought about two years ago from IKEA and stuck in the cupboard because...zippers!

It didn't take too long to make these and to get the size I just measured the yucky old covers and made a pattern piece. I love the fabric and it's nice to finally replace the gross, old covers. I cut the fabric out with pinking shears rather than overlocking the seams, but I don't know if that's really a good way to stop this drill-type of fabric fraying - time will tell.

Now on to the zippers. The cushion on the right is the first one I made up and you can see the zipper tabs are poking out. I mostly fixed this on the left cushion by moving the zipper off centre so one of the ends would be caught in the 1.5cm side seam, and pushed the second tab down into the seam allowance.  This looks better - but not 100%. Someone has suggested trying an in-seam zip next time or if I go the exposed zip route then put some fabric over the zipper ends - like this tutorial.

So whilst these aren't perfect the are fun and functional. The zippers are at the bottom of the cushions so the flaws are well hidden.

Sew Over It "DIY Indian Ribbon Purse"

As predicted sewing my first solo successful zipper in my Genoa Tote has unleashed the desire to sew all the zippers and purses!

About two years ago the UK based store Sew Over It released a tutorial for a DIY Indian Ribbon Purse...along with a kit that you could purchase with material bought on the store owners trip to India. In a moment of boredom at work I bought the postage be dammed! And then it sat in my cupboard for about two years because...zippers!

Hot on the heels of my Genoa Tote I got right on to making this purse. It was fun deciding how to place the ribbons, but you can see that one ribbon is much shorter than the others thus making the purse smaller than it should be. It also meant that the little leather tabs covering each end of the zip don't really show like they are supposed to. Annoying.

Things went pretty well with this zipper - I'm just disappointed that the shorter piece of ribbon has affected the way the whole purse looks. The kit combined with the postage wasn't cheap so I wish the store had checked their product properly.

 More zips to come - watch this space!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Genoa Tote - it's LOVE!

I bought the Genoa Tote pattern after seeing LOTS and LOTS of great version popping up on Instagram...and then I sat on it as, you know, it has some scary a zipper and lining and using rivets to secure the leather handle. I was worried I'd not be able to make the bag without f**king it up. Basically I doubted myself and my skills and didn't think I was smart enough or a good enough sewist to pull it off as it was so new to me and out of my skill set even though it's quite a simple pattern.  

I'm pleased to say that I've survived making my first (yes first as there will be MORE) Genoa Tote and totally enjoyed the process! And it's almost perfect too!

I've had this denim in my stash for ages -- bought probably for a skirt that I was never going to make. I then decided I'd use it for a bag and gathered some bits and pieces from ETSY (like leather handles {not used here}) but never got any further as I didn't know what I was doing to design it or construct it was just beyond me even though I had some ideas. The Genoa Tote is pretty much exactly what I was looking for and I love the literally endless ways you can combine fabric and ideas to come up with a truly unique bag.

The other two fabrics are quite special so I was pretty brave (or silly) using them for a new-to-me pattern. The dotty chambray (used for the bag lining) was bought from the Nani Iro Atelier in Osaka. I'm not sure why I bought a woven piece of fabric other than I liked it. The Japanese print on the left was given to me by a stallholder at a food market in Osaka. We did a food tour and had a lovely sit-down tasting as this stall and when we left the stallholder gave me the fabric placements we used. Both of these fabrics have good memories attached to them and I'm glad I've finally been able to use them. I wasn't sure how strong/durable these two fabrics would be so I interfaced both of them with iron-on interfacing.

Construction went well and this mainly due to the great instructions from the pattern designer, Anna. Everything was very clear and on steps I was a bit hazy on the accompanying photos helped to set me straight. I even managed to get my zipper in (after a few goes) and it looks pretty good. I ended up using my regular foot as the zipper foot wasn't working for me and I wasn't really sure what I was doing (or even if the zipper foot in my inherited machine belonged to it). Although the pattern doesn't call for it I also finished all my seams on the overlocker as I was worried all my hard work would unravel from the inside.

The other addition I made to the pattern was to add a large front pocket - sewn down the middle to make two smaller sections to give me quick access to my phone, bus pass, ventolin and lip goop. The rivet in the centre is purely decorative (and installed by Dave as I was too chicken to do it myself). I got this idea from a fellow sewist, Sue, whom I met in Melbourne over the holidays. 

As my denim has a small amount of stretch to it I think the facing may have stretched a bit...but nothing to worry about! I did topstitch around the top of the facing to make sure things didn't flip up (as well as understitching it as the pattern says to).

I love the inside of this bag and that I have a little memory of Japan hidden away in here.

The final part of the bag is to attach the leather handles using rivets. I bought the handles, rivets, key chain and rivet setting tool from Pattern Fantastique's online store (who collaborated on the pattern with Blogless Anna). The handles are made by Anna and sold via Pattern Fantastique. I thought attaching them would be the step that really messes up the bag and I was going to get Dave to do it...but he was out so I bit the bullet and did it and it wasn't difficult at all. The hardest part was getting a big enough hole in the denim to push the rivets through.

I feel like completing the Genoa Tote is a gateway to all sorts of non-clothes related sewing. And, I LIKE it! It's great sewing something and not worrying about fit (or neckbands)!


Size: M
Modifications: Interfaced the lining and pocket; finished all seams on the overlocker; added a double pocket to the front; top stitched the facing to the bag. 
Fabric:  Denim, Nani Iro double guaze, Japanese cotton

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Navy Mabel Skirt

Lucky me received a Tessuti gift voucher from Dave for Christmas. Over Christmas we were in Melbourne so I ducked into Tessuti to see what they had for me - plus it was sale time. Winning.

I did a few laps of the store and nothing really jumped out at me that would work with my $50 voucher. After fondling some Navy Ponti for a while I decided that I NEEDED a navy skirt for my work wardrobe (I also bought some fabric for a top/dress - not yet made up as I'm waiting for the pattern to arrive from eBay).

Yes, I know, ANOTHER Mabel Skirt! But, it's a pattern that works for me, is comfortable and when it's hot they are something I reach for to wear with a simple tee to work. I'm not really loving my earlier ones anymore with the "original waistband" and having put on a bit of weight others are not comfortable like they used to be. I NEEDED a new Mabel. Honestly!

For this version I added just 1cm to the centre back and front. The fabric has good stretch, but I need just a bit more room that I used too (funnily though some of my earlier Mabel's still fit OK at the original XL size). Everything else is the same as usual....


Pattern: "Mabel Skirt" by Colette Patterns
Size: XL, sewn with 3/8" seam allowance
Modifications: 5cm elastic waistband (added 10cm to the pattern to accommodate for this), 16.5cm added to length, pegged in the bottom by 0.5cm at each seam (so 2cm in total). 1cm added to the CF and CB to accommodate for  winter weight
Fabric:  White on Black Ponti (60% viscose, 35% nylon, 5% elastaine) from Tessuti

B+W Striped Marianne Dress #2

I really loved the idea of my first B+W striped Marianne Dress but the fabric was AWFUL - super hot and sweaty. In an Australian summer I cannot even imagine when it could get worn without me dying from heat stroke!

I've ordered Ponte de Roma from in the USA before and liked the softness and drape of the fabric. This was exactly what I wanted for this dress so I bit the bullet and ordered 2 yards. With postage it was about $40 - so not much more than if I bought 2 meters of 'nice' fabric here in Australia. Problem is this is not particularly great fabric - it feels nice but has really poor recovery, I can tell it's going to pill and I lost about 80cm as there was a hole in the fabric (for which I've received a small in-store credit for). With some fabric tetris I was able to cut out my size 18 dress and have enough for neckband and sleeve bands.

So...problems aside, I'm pretty happy with what I've ended up with.

Apart from terrible fabric for my last Marianne Dress I also couldn't cope with the small neckline. This time I cut off 1cm from the pattern piece - from the shoulders all the way around. This coupled with the small amount I lowered the neckline last time has given me something I'm comfortable with. I'm pretty pleased with how good the neckband and top-stitching look too!

Back view -- fabric pooling above my butt as usual, but like I always say - I can't see it so the problem doesn't exist! My butt has definitely gotten bigger as fabric pools more there now.

Like last time I decided to use bands to finish the sleeves rather than turn them under and stitch. The more drapey fabric means they don't stick out quite as much. Due to the fabric I also reinforced the shoulders with clear elastic as they definitely would stretch out otherwise...I don't always do this on this type of shoulder depending on fabric quality/recovery.

All in all I'm pretty happy with this dress. During my "sewing career" finding a dress pattern than fits/works for me as been a struggle. I don't really have this problem with RTW so I'm not sure what's going on. The Casual Lady Dress did work for me - but the last few I've made have failed (too tight as I suppose my weight gain has caused this). I also make the Tessuti Gaby Dress in a knit. I'm glad I have another dress pattern to add to the mix. I'm keen to try the Cashmerette Turner Dress this year as I'd love a fit and flare dress that works for me.

Pattern: Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes
Size: 18
Modifications: added 2" to the neckband length, added 1" to the length, lowered the neckline all the way around by about 1cm
Fabric: Ponte de Roma from
Changes for next time: none for the short sleeved version; but when I made the long sleeved version I need to added some width to the lower sleeve piece.

B+W Striped Mabel #2

My last Striped Mabel Skirt - refashioned from a 'not-right' Marianne Dress - turned out to be too tight around the hips and butt. I tried to wearing it to work one day but as got as far as the bus stop before I came home to change - sad face!

I found some nice Ponti at Tessuti so snapped it up and set up making a second striped Mable Skirt. This time I added 2cm to the centre front and back of the XL (my last iteration had 1cm added) and it fits well. The fabric does not have a lot of stretch to it so 2cm is definitely the right amount.

The waist elastic size is the same -- in fact I unpicked the 'not-right' Mabel Skirt and re used the elastic.

Back view...

Pattern: "Mabel Skirt" by Colette Patterns
Size: XL, sewn with 3/8" seam allowance
Modifications: 5cm elastic waistband (added 10cm to the pattern to accommodate for this), 16.5cm added to length, pegged in the bottom by 0.5cm at each seam (so 2cm in total). 2cm added to the CF and CB to accommodate for less stretch (and winter weight) 

Fabric:  White on Black Ponti (23% viscose, 5% spandex, 72% poly) from Tessuti

Monday, 2 January 2017

Just one more (black) Kwiksew 3880

I made this top at the end of last year - at the beginning of my Christmas break. I wanted to make an improved version of my first (black) Kwiksew 3880. I wanted a longer top with a raised neckline that was also a bit tighter at the hips....and here it is!

The shape is a bit wonky at the lower hem as I used a much larger seam allowance for the lower part in order to get the snug fit around the hips (so it looks blouson when I wear it with a-line skirts).

I definitely made the neckband too tight - I didn't have to stretch it too much to attach it, but it's definlty puckering at the neckline and requires a VERY good ironing before I wear it. Oh well...this top is far from perfect but it's wearable.


PatternKwikSew 3880
Size: Size XL, Size M for height at neckline
Modifications: I doubled the width of their skinny skinny neckband and added 4" to the length of it as I feel the drafted neckband is too short.
Fabric: Hashtag Black from Tessuti
Changes for next time: none