More fabric shopping in San Francisco

Fabric shopping with fellow fabricaholics is the best. See my previous post if you need to be convinced.

Fabric shopping at places recommended by the local fabricoholics is also pretty good.

I was lucky enough to do both.

Britex Fabrics

The locals said that Britex was high end and expensive, but worth a visit. It was just around the corner from my hotel, so of course I went.

Expensive? Yes.

It’s location alone would demand that – sandwiched between Chanel, YSL and other designer names.

I expected this visit to be similar to a museum visit. I would ooh and ahh but nothing would be bought.

It was like a museum visit. It is a beautiful store. The silks, boucles and wools were exquisite. And beautifully displayed.

The trims were lovely. And the selection of buttons extensive.

And, to my surprise, there was a rayon challis with my name on it on the sales floor



Fabrix isn’t downtown but was very easy to reach by bus.

It was, as described by the locals, the polar opposite of Britex.

It is not a beautiful store. Fabrics are arranged by price rather than fiber or colour.

The prices are very good.

I restrained myself and bought only one piece of fabric, a printed poly satin with a silk like look and feel.

And this 20cm wide guipure lace could not be resisted, not at $10 per yard!


Thanks to everyone for their great advice. I highly recommend all four stores I visited in San Francisco, and of, course, meeting up with the sewing BABES was the best fun.

My fabric stash has been enriched.

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San Francisco sewing BABES Berkeley meet up

I have some new sewing friends:

Jennifer, Wendy, me, Heather, Jilly and Glenda, from the San Francisco Sewing BABES group

What a great group they are. I was welcomed and felt at home straight away. Sewists are the best people!

They took me to lunch in Berkeley and then to two great fabric stores; Stone Mountain and Daughter and Piedmont Fabrics


Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics.

I loved the atmosphere in this shop. Suzan Steinberg (the Daughter) and her staff were genuinely welcoming and love fabric. There was a warm positive vibe to this store. What can I say? I was in Berkeley.

The shop is medium sized with a lovely selection of knits, silks and wools, plus lots of cottons. The quality was good and the prices reasonable (just like those in the know said on the last post). Upstairs is a space for classes, and the half price bargains.

Part of the cotton selection.

I found some wonderful rayon knit panels.

The pink is a 70 cm square, repeated twice across the width of the fabric. I have two panels.

The bright rainbow butterfly print is one panel running the width of the fabric (140 cm) and 90 cm across. Only half of it is in the photo. There is a solid border both ends, about 20 cm deep. I have one panel of this too. I’m thinking it will be a dress, combined with black.

This lovely silk charmeuse was half price.

And a bargain polyester chiffon made its way into my bag too. I do like a classical themed print!


Piedmont Fabrics

A short drive took us to Piedmont Fabrics, another shop in Berkeley. This is smaller shop, but again a nice selection of fabrics and notions, includes some pre-loved (vintage) buttons

Outside the store, hugging my purchases.

Polyester stretch lace

This piece of charcoal and blue wool embroidered cotton needed to escape from the remnant bin.

This stunning fabric has beautiful texture and sheen. It had to come home to Australia.


Thank you Heather, Glenda, Jilly, Wendy and Jennifer. I had an awesome time!


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Advice needed on fabric shopping in San Francisco

What advice can you give me? Apart from ‘take large bags and a credit card, and don’t exceed your luggage limit’?

(image source)


I’ll be in San Francisco next week for an American Chemical Society Meeting. I have some time free on the last day before I start the long and boring plane flight back to Australia. Thanks, Qantas, for scheduling flights out of the West Coast at midnight!

Last time I was in San Francisco I stumbled on a vintage fabric shop (Urban Burp) by accident. This was an awesome store, and I have a skirt to remember it by but the shop has moved since and is temporarily closed.

So, where should I go?

My googling tells me I could try these spots:

What do you think? Have I missed something? I’m staying close to Union Square, I’ll be relying on public transport and have about 5 hours to shop…

And if you’re in San Francisco next Thursday, would you like to meet up?


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Daffodil yellow skirt

Hurry up Spring. We are ready and waiting for you.


I used a Burda pencil skirt pattern that I had used before for Felicity. The woven version was close fitting, almost a bit too much so over the hips and thighs. So that sounded about right for the double knit fabric that I was planning to use for this skirt.

BurdaStyle 08-2012-111

The top of the skirt sits just a smidgeon below the waist. I extended the pattern up by 6.3 cm (twice the width of the 3 cm elastic plus some for turn of cloth) to make a ‘waistband’.

After stitching the darts and the side seams of the skirt and ‘waistband’, I overlocked the elastic on to the wrong side of the ‘waistband’ then turned it over. The elastic was cut to Felicity’s waist measurement and the skirt is very close to this measurement too, so there was very little stretching required getting the two to fit

A tag at the back makes a simple elastic waist skirt easier to put on the right way and, yes, it is true to name. The fabric is a rayon double knit from Gorgeous Fabrics purchased a while ago.

I secured the elastic waist band down by stitching in the ditch at the side seams and through the darts

The double knit made the darts thick, so I cut them down the centre and ironed them flat before attaching the elastic

No seam finishes needed with this fabric.

The pattern had a back shaped seam and a kick pleat. I didn’t want either of these in a knit version, so I placed the pattern on the fold with the centre seam touching the fold at about thiugh level, then compensated for the bottom and top curve back in by taking the sides seams in an equivalent amount and adding width to the darts.

The fit is okay so this must have worked alright.

There’s a bit of angling out of the bottom hem at the front. The side seam is hanging straight so perhaps I should have pegged the side seams a bit more. Any ideas?

It’s not noticeable IRL, but so obvious in the side view above!

I didn’t use knit tape when I hemmed the skirt with a double needle. This double knit was beefy enough to not tunnel or stretch out.

So easy.

Double knit. Elastic waist. Some darts, two seams and a hem.

Just add a Nettie body suit, your favourite tights and cute boots and you’re ready to roll.


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Poodle coat finished and modelled

I think she likes it…

I like it too.

It looks great and it feels wonderful.

The fit is good too

Perhaps a bit big through the shoulders and back (but that means it fits me too… not that this was planned!)

You can just see the grey marl ponte under sleeves in the picture above.

I used the same ponte to attach the toggle buttons.

So far everyone has wondered why I didn’t use black leather. Clearly, matching the under sleeves is not being noticed!


I’ve never made anything with toggle buttons before and no-one in the house has anything with toggles for me to copy, so there was some experimenting.

I played around with bits of the ponte and the coat on Eliza the dressmaking dummy. Then I went shopping with a square of ponte and the coat.

Adelaide Arcade’s Button Bar came through again.

I tried quite a few toggles and buttons in the shop and settled on some lovely shiny black parallelogram buttons. Yes I am a math nerd as well as a sewing nerd.

The Button Bar didn’t have black cord so I went to Spotlight. They didn’t have any cord the right weight either, but they did have black soutache braid. Soutache braid came home with me. (So did some Vogue patterns. Oops. But, $5 per pattern, they needed rescuing, right?)


Twenty squares of ponte were cut out.

I reinforced ten with fusible interfacing and then made keyhole button holes in them.

The other ten had cords attached to them, 5 with the toggles and five just as loops. These were my base layers.

The cords were threaded through the buttons holes, and then the two layers sewn together with edge stitching. The edges are raw, but ponte doesn’t fray.

I closed up the buttonholes with bar tacking close to the braid.

(whoa, that flash is bright!)

That meant the underside had two lots of bar tacking; one to attach the braid, and the other from closing the button hole.

I really didn’t know what I was doing here. I was on a roll though, and didn’t want to stop and consult google. Please pipe up with the right way to do this!

My five toggle and loop pairs were then sewn onto the coat.

I put the first pair on at the bust apex, the next at the neck and then used this spacing for the other three pairs.


I think I will tack the cords down to the edges of the ponte squares. They look a bit too dangly like this. What do you think?


Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle’s Long Shawl Coat 10/2012 #131. I used the stand collar from the Fur Blouson Jacket 10/2012 #129 rather than the scarf.

Size: 20 (petite 40) with a 3 cm FBA (to adjust for a DD cup). This added 3 cm width on each side, so I angled the side seam back in to the waist rather than having a vertical bust dart that went all the way to the bottom hem.

Fabric: Faux fur outer, main body lined with lightweight very stretchy knit, both from Gay Naffines most recent sale, ponte under sleeves also from Gay some years ago, and a poly satin python print sleeve lining from the stash. Collar ‘interfaced’ with shirting fabric from Turin.

There are pockets! Fur one side and that soft knit lining the other. Lovely and soft and cuddly.

The daffodil yellow skirt is new too, but this post is already too long.


Thanks for reading.



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Poodle coat construction

I am having a lot of fun with this project.


Stand collar ‘interfacing': not a fusible, but lovely Italian shirting cotton

There’s something appealingly subversive about using “couture” techniques when sewing faux fur that looks like a poodle.

Mais oui, pourquoi pas? Of course a poodle needs couture treatment. It is French, no?


Dart trimmed then catch stitched down

A light weight knit underlining hand basted to the fur

Shoulder seam reinforced with cotton tape

The pattern has a two piece sleeve and suggests loden on the underside. I like this detail.

I used a grey marl ponte from my stash (have I told you how much I love having a stash?).

The finished product

After stitching the upper and lower sleeves together, I shaved the fur in the seam to reduce bulk,

turned the seam towards the ponte, and catch stitched it down

The last of the python lining in my stash slithered into the sleeves


The main body of the coat won’t be lined so I sewed the lining and the sleeves together at the bottom, right sides together.

and because the lining was cut shorter than the sleeve,

(that’s my shadow on the carpet, not a dirty patch)

flipping to the right side gave a nice turn up, which I secured in place with some, Ahem, not very couture machine stitching.



This is BurdaStyle’s Long Shawl Coat 10/2012 #131 with the stand collar from the Fur Blouson Jacket 10/2012 #129 rather than the attached shawl/scarf


There is still plenty to do.

And there are bits of fluffy poodle fur everywhere :-)

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Chai Carrot Cake and Floral Nettie

This blog needs to be renamed from He Cooks… She Sews! to He Cooks…. She Shops, She Bakes and (just sometimes) She Sews…

The Shopping.

See previous post.

The Baking.

Chai Spiced Carrot Cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 175g honey
  • 125g gluten free SR flour (2/3 cup)
  • 155g grated carrots (2 to 3 carrots)
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g almond meal
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (150°C fan forced). Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Put all the cake ingredients in a large bowl, mix until well combined, then carefully pour the batter into the cake tin. Yes, that’s all you have to do!
  3. Bake for 40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from My Petite Kitchen Cookbook by Eleanor Ozich (Murdoch Books) accessed at

I iced mine with the same cream cheese icing as the ‘real’ red velvet chocolate cup cakes then sprinkled a mixture of pepitas, sesame and sunflower seeds on top.

The Sewing.

Another Nettie bodysuit

Worn here with Burdastyle’s soft pleated waist skirt 05/2011 #116A

Pattern: Closet case Nettie Body Suit.

Size: 2-18. Same as last time; graded from a size 12 shoulders to a 14 bust, then 10 waist and then out to 12 hips.

Fabric: A slinky polyester knit from Spotlight. The knit version of silk chiffon. Utterly horrible to sew.

This fabric has 80% stretch widthwise but only 40% lengthwise. Heather Lou says at least 50% stretch both ways is needed for the fabric to work as a body suit.

So I decided to experiment.

Not always a good idea. But hey, what was the worst thing that could happen? Sewing it and then having to chop it off the bottom to make a regular top?

I added 4 cm total to the length of the front and back pieces

  • 1 cm just below the scoop neck( just below the armscye)
  • another 1 cm mid way between armscye and waist,
  • another 1 cm just below waist
  • the last 1 cm between the waist and the bottom edge/hip

I also added 2 cm to the sleeves, but turned up the hem 1 cm more than the instructions, so really just 1 cm extra length.

It worked! This bodysuit is firm fitting but comfortable enough to wear.


And whats next?

I need to sew some of those lovely new fabrics.

First up is a ‘poodle’ coat for Felicity. The plan is to use this fabric

in BurdaStyle 10/2012 #131, without the scarf

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Textile investment

Is it sad that I took an annual leave day to get to Gay Naffine’s sale? I think anyone reading this blog will understand…

I met a few of you for the first time at the sale; that was so nice. And saw some ‘old’ friends too! It was particularly cool that yummymummy38 and I wore garments made from the same fabric bought from the sale a year or so ago.

So what did I get?

He who Cooks described them as tablecloths, curtains and chux wipes.


The greys and blacks:

  • Grey faux fur (Felicity sees this as an egg coat for her)
  • Cotton blend black and white jacquard (the ‘tablecloth’, I’m thinking a dress, but it would also make an awesome swing coat)
  • Grey laser cut poly blend (skirt, with contrast lining? jacket?)
  • Chiffon with pleather paillettes (dress in a simple shape for going out, its sheer and those discs have great movement)

Navy and blue (the ‘curtain’ fabric and the ‘chux wipes’):

  • Mechanical stretch poly blend self striped navy (probably a pencil skirt)
  • Plain navy wool (not sure what this will be, but this is a gorgeous fabric that would work for lots of things)
  • Blue and black poly blend jacquard (the ‘curtains’, but I am imagining a jacket and skirt, or a coat)
  • Blue and white silk chiffon (Felicity can see past the ‘chux’ and into a maxi dress for her)
  • Blue, navy and black rayon viscose blend double weave plaid (no idea what this is going to be, but I love this fabric)

 Summer, brights and maybe linings:

  • The plain red and plain white fabrics are rayon shirting weight (they might end up as linings. At $5 a metre they needed to come home with me and let me know later what they want to be)
  • Oyster and grey graphic print in silk (Felicity imagines a floaty summer dress for her)
  • Fine grey wool poly knit (this would be great stretch lining but could also be a top)
  • Lemon stretch cotton (summer skirt or shorts for Felicity?)


It was a fun morning with lots of other sewists, commenting on each other’s choices and hoping there would be enough left on the roll after the person being served had her piece cut…

I almost came home with a double faced window pane wool in grey and black too, but I was too slow. Gay came out and took the roll back with her; she’d just had a back order from a customer and needed to make another jacket.

Such an exciting morning!

Now, I need to know what you bought if you were there.

And if you haven’t been yet, off you go! The sale runs until Sunday.


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Fabric sale coming up: you need a chocolate cup cake!

  • “Real” red velvet chocolate cake.
  • Celebrity chef recipe.
  • Beetroot.
  • Dark Chocolate.
  • Cream cheese icing.

Resistance was futile!

These were made with Poh Ling Yeow’s recipe from her new cookbook Same Same But Different. Poh made hers as a 20 cm cake, with the cream cheese icing in the middle and chocolate ganache on the sides and top.

I made cupcakes.

Delicious, moist, earthy, not-too-sweet dark chocolate cupcakes with lemon cream cheese icing.

Cake batter

  • 300g (2-3 large) beetroots
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 220g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda, sifted
  • 100g drinking chocolate powder, sifted

Cream cheese icing

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (120g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Roast the beetroot at 180°C for 30-45 minutes in a casserole dish with a lid and a little bit of water in the bottom of the dish. Cool and then rub the skins off. Your skin will go a lovely pink colour but don’t worry. Betalains (beetroot pigments) are very water soluble and the colour will wash off easily!
  2. Weigh out 250g of beets, then pulverise with a food processor. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. If the beets are still warm, let them cool before you add the eggs or you’ll have the most gorgeous coloured scrambled eggs you’ve ever seen.
  3. Adjust oven to 170°C (or 160°C if its fan-forced).
  4. Melt butter, take off the heat and whisk in the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, then add to beetroot mixture and wizz in the food processor until combined.
  5. Sift the flour, baking soda and drinking chocolate powder into a medium to large sized bowl, mix in the caster sugar,then add the chocolate beetroot mixture and stir until just combined. I wish I had taken a photo at this stage. The cake mixture was a glorious deep dark red.
  6. Pour into patty pans and bake for 25–30 minutes. This recipe makes 19 cup cakes.
  7. To make the cream cheese icing, beat all the ingredients except the lemon juice until very pale and fluffy. Add the lemon juice last and beat until just combined.

If you’re in Adelaide this week, make some of these and eat them in front of the fire.

You need to prepare yourself for Gay Naffines fabric sale.

Where: 29-31 Hamley St, Adelaide


  • Friday 4 July, 9 am to 5 pm
  • Saturday 5 July, 9 am to 4 pm
  • Sunday 6 July, 11 am to 2 pm


See you there.



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Christmas fruit cake in June

Being baked on the winter solstice makes it Christmas cake doesn’t it?

Even when the winter solstice is in June? The cake can’t help being in the Southern hemisphere can it?


This isn’t ordinary fruit cake anyway. Its delicious.

And very easily made gluten, dairy and refined sugar free, if that’s what you need to do.


Honey sweetened Christmas cake with cranberries, hazelnuts, apricots and figs

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 250 g jar (a eensy bit more than ¾ cup) apple sauce
  • 5 cups of mixed dried fruit (I used 1 cup each of cranberries, apricots and figs, and 2 cups of sultanas, the figs and apricots got chopped to about sultana size)
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 3 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 ¼ cups gluten free SR Flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • grated zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC
  2. Line the base of a cake tin with 4 circle layers of newspaper and then a sheet of baking paper. (I used the motoring section. I’m sure this is an important detail). Line the sides too. I used baking paper on the sides, not newspaper as well
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt together the oil and honey. Add the apple sauce and dried fruit, stir to coat well.
  4. Continue to cook on low, while stirring until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the brandy and stir some more.
  5. Add the fruit mixture to the remaining ingredients and mix until very well combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and smooth out evenly.
  7. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean once inserted.

Recipe adapted from Petite Kitchen


Delicious with a cup of tea in front of the roaring fire while listening to the rain.

Or as part of a cheese platter after that difficult jigsaw is finally complete…Its time to reclaim the coffee table!

Cheese and fruit cake you say?

Try it, I say!



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Not cold weather clothes

“Yeah I like my new skirt. But do I have to take my jacket off? It’s too cold to take my jacket off.”

“Do I really have too?”

“Ok if you insist, I will show my new Nettie body suit, even if it is freezing.” Freezing, Adelaide style is 10°C.

Isn’t she gorgeous??

“The scoop neck is just goldilocks.” Goldilocks = not to high, not to low, just right.

“The sleeves are a bit long, but I’m not complaining.”


Technical Details

Body Suit: Closet case Nettie Body Suit, front scoop neck, back high neck and long sleeved version.

Size: 2-18. I graded from a size 12 shoulders to a 14 bust, then 10 waist and then out to 12 hips. I normally do an FBA for her, but I thought I try just grading out to her bust measurement and seeing if that would work. She’s short waisted so the torso length should still be okay. That was my hope anyway, and it seems to have worked. Gotta love stretch fabric!

Others have said that the pattern ran small but I purchased the pattern after Heather redid the sizing and it seems good to me.


Cotton lycra knit with 100% stretch width wise and 80% lengthwise. This is an awesomely stretchy lightweight fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics last year. The bodysuit needs 50% stretch both ways, so it seemed like a very safe fabric to try this pattern out!


Skirt: Based on Burda Style 03/2013 #109

I pinned out the darts and squished the pattern piece flat and then elongated to about 100 cm in length. I cut the hem straight along the stripes, rather than curving. I omitted the zip and made an elastic waist.

Fabric: Poly Cotton knit from last winters sales

“Time to kick of these shoes and put my dressing gown on over top” she says as she heads indoors out of the ‘cold’.

How flattering is that? New clothes that are as comfortable as pajamas!




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A very ‘hip’ skirt and ‘Hannah’s’ blouse

I have ‘interesting’ but not always wise pattern choices.

This is the fashion shoot photo:

Those ‘wings’ are interesting aren’t they? They seem to draw attention to her waist, contrasting the difference between waist and hip.

This tulip shape has worked for me before. Would it work again, now I’m older and stouter?

Lets see, using a similar pose.


Its not as bad as it could have been!

(Actually, I’ve decided I quite like it)

The top is new too, and was inspired by one made by my dear friend Melissa (blogless), who made a gorgeous lavender version for her lovely daughter Hannah. Chris of Handmade by Chris has made a beautiful silk version too.


Pattern: BurdaStyle 11/2013 #123

Size: 34-44, I made a 44 with a 1.5 cm swayback adjustment. Its turned out a bit loose through the waist. I normally make a size down, but I have put on weight, so it seems wise to go up in size.

Fabric: The same stretch cotton woven as the one I used for Felicity’s Downton Abbey dress, lined with a stretch satin from deep stash. The pattern has a separate lining piece for the side front skirt panel.

Changes I made:

Lengthened by 3 cm. Mid knee is a better look on me than just above the knee.

I cut the lining out in one piece, so there was just one seam (like I did here). This was because I was lazy and because I was using a remnant of limited length.

Burda’s instructions for the waistband were particularly good and gave a lovely smooth finish to the top of the zip.

They have you sew the waist band to the other fashion fabric before you put in the invisible zip, which ends at the middle of the waistband piece. Then Burda says to sew the lining to the waistband, then the short end of the waistband, then fold the waistband in half and stitch in the ditch on the outside at the waistband skirt joining seam to catch the lining in.

Yes I know. That’s clear as mud. Just as well Burda don’t have me writing instructions.


Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #107

Size: 34/36, 38/40, 42/44.

I made a 42/44. I feel like it’s a bit big, but that could be the style. The sleeves are certainly too long, even with my arms stretched right out.

Fabric: Polyester chiffon from Gay Naffine’s fabric outlet sales last year

It was fun placing the pattern on the fabric; trying to balance the bright and dark parts of the feathery print on shifty chiffon…. I love this print, though, so it was a pleasure to have this challenge!

Changes I made:

I made the ties as long as the bias strips I cut out, probably close to 1 metre each rather than 75 cm. Even when the bow is similar in size to the line drawing, the ends of the ties are way past my waist.

I used organza as interfacing for cuffs. I have had bad experiences with iron on interfacing and light fabrics in the past. And using organza makes me feel fancy!

No French seams, unlike Chris and Melissa. I took the lazy way out and overlocked everything.

But I do have French cuffs.

This was an unintended change.

excuse the wonky cufflink

I finished the blouse and tried it on and then realized I had the button holes in the wrong side of the cuffs. Duh. ( I had looked at the line drawing and replicated the sleeve that is drawn flat- the one on the right, instead of the folded sleeve, the left one. The left one is the one drawn correctly. They have it right on the back view too. Trust me to pick the only one that was wrong as my guide!).

So I made another set of button holes in the other side of the cuffs and used cufflinks instead of buttons. This is improved but still not quite right. The vent is integrated into the seam between the front and back upper front/sleeve pieces. On a real shirt, the vent is not in the seam.

If I make this again, I’ll do a real vent in the right place.

Plans. I have too many of them.


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Downton Abbey dress

Do you look at the fashion pictures in BurdaStyle and think unflattering  or dowdy or I wore it in the seventies/eighties/nineties why would anyone want to make and wear that again?

I thought all of this, and more, when I saw this pattern (BurdaStyle 08-2013-109)

Flip, over went the page.

But my daughter did none of the above. She thought it would be a great style for a winter church dress.

Buttoned up to the neck I said, a V neck would be more flattering on you. I can undo the buttons she said. My shirt dress has the same style she said. I really like it she said.

How could I resist?

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 08-2013-109

Size: 36-44. I made a 40 with a 3 cm FBA (added 6 cm overall to the bust measurement) and some adjustments through the waist and at the armscyes. Looking at the photos, I probably could have taken a bit more in, but the ease makes it comfortable to wear, and the style has the loose look about it..


Well, this one has quite a few.

  • Main fashion fabric: stretch cotton woven, from Gay Naffine’s fabric outlet sales last year
  • Sleeves: silk chiffon, from deep stash. Bought from one of the fabric stores in Adelaide CBD before they closed or turned into something else (Johnsons Fabrics? does anyone remember back that far?)
  • Cuffs and collar: stretch velvet, also from old stash from Gay Naffine about 5 years ago
  • Lining: Stretch satin, in silvery grey, bought just days before sewing, from DK Fabrics on Port Road.

Changes I made:

  • Shortened by 5 cm. It’s still 1940’s in length.
  • Lined the bodice and skirt. This was so worth it – oh it feels lovely said Felicity

  • Didn’t add the ribbon armscye detail. I still might. I ran out of time. Instead I overlooked the seams with black thread and ironed the seam back into the sleeve. It gives a similar effect to outline the shoulders.

Oops, that big gather should’ve been straightened out for the photo! And that’s a flesh coloured ‘spencer’ underneath: Felicity’s skin doesn’t have a shoulder seam

The sleeves are very gathered with a very high sleeve cap and the armscyes are a bit cut in, but not so much that a bra strap would show. It’s a nice effect, particularly with sheer sleeves.

  • Left the in seam pockets off. This was not intentional, I just forgot.
  • Drafted a mandarin collar rather than sewing on a velvet ribbon as Burda instructed. I used Rhonda’s great instructions.
  • I made the cuffs from the same velvet as the mandarin collar, rather than from chiffon. The velvet is stretch so organza was used as interfacing.


And the best thing (well the second best thing after making a dress that my daughter loves)?

There is enough of the blue stretch cotton left for a skirt for me.

I have this skirt pattern cut out (BurdaStyle 11-2013-123)

Yes. Another pattern that lots of you probably just turned the page on. You were thinking, pleats out from the waist? How unflattering would that be? Why would anyone want to add extra bulk there?

I guess we will see…






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Autumn baking and Downton Abbey dress WIP

Ginger nuts

This great recipe is thanks to Jorth.

  • 200g butter
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 cups raw sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
  • 6 teaspoons ground ginger (yes, I know that’s a lot, but ginger nuts need to be gingery!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C and line baking trays. This recipe makes 60 biscuits. I used three trays in the first bake one and two in the second.
  2. Melt the butter and syrup together in a saucepan.
  3. Add the sugar and beaten eggs to the melted butter mixture.
  4. Sieve the flour, baking soda and ginger together to mix and then add that too.
  5. Mix together well. My mixture was a bit dry. Looking at my biscuits and Jorth’s, I think my less perfect and more cracked at the edges biscuits are because I should have added some liquid or another egg. Or perhaps its because I used raw caster sugar, and more might have fitted in the cup. I should have trusted my instincts and added another egg. They are very yummy though!
  6. Roll into balls about 3cm diameter, place on trays and squish flat with a fork. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra raw sugar. I used demerara sugar, because raw caster sugar is too small to look good
  7. Bake for 12 minutes.

These are deliciously crisp the next day. Perfect for dunking in a cup of tea.Or hot milk before going to bed. Or cold milk after school. Or..


Berry cream cheese coffee cake

This recipe is from Food Wanderings in Asia

I fell for Jo-Ann’s strawberry version whilst ‘researching’  on Pinterest. Her photos are delicious!

Butter Cake & Crumb Topping

  • 2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (a mixture of two parts of cream of tartar to one part of bicarbonate of soda)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup blanched almond flakes

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 250 g (a bit more than 8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Berry Filling

  • 2 cups frozen raspberries and blackberries, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons water
  • 1.5 teaspoons cornflour
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 20 cm round spring form pan with baking paper.
  2. Prepare the berry ‘jam’. Combine the cornflour and water. Add the berries and sugar to a pan and cook over low heat until the berries release their juices (about 5 minutes), then add the cornflour mix and stir until well combined. Stir for another minute or two until it has thickened. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  3. Prepare the cream cheese filling. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about 30 seconds until smooth. Add in the sugar and egg and beat until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the cake. Rub butter into the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Measure 3/4 cup of the mixture and set aside (this will be the crumble topping). Add the baking soda and baking powder to the remaining mixture and mix well. In another bowl, beat the sour cream, egg and vanilla extract until well blended. Stir gently into the flour mixture until just incorporated. Set aside.
  5. Put it all together. Spread the batter in the pan, about 1 cm higher up the sides and leaving a 1 cm border around the edges (like making a well). Pour the cream cheese mixture over the batter, being careful not to go beyond the border. Spread the berry jam on top of the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup crumbs over the berry filling and top with the almond flakes.
  6. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing the cake.

This is a bit of a time consuming recipe. It’s not light in texture or calories, but makes a delicious cake.


Downton Abbey dress (BurdaStyle 08-2013-109)

Like the cake, this is a time consuming project too.

Lots of different fabrics (stretch cotton, silk chiffon, velvet, satin lining) and notions (button, piping, velvet ribbon, zip, iron on interfacing and organza).

It should be worth it in the end though… Just like the cake was.



Posted in Biscuits, Cake, Cooking, Recipes, WIP | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Paris, and the next project…

Just down ‘our’ street in the 6th arrondissement

The last part of our silver wedding anniversary holiday was 5 days in an apartment in Paris.

Reflections in a chocolatier’s window. They were also celebrating 25 years..

Our location made it easy to pick up some cheese and fruit from the local open air market (La Marché Raspail) and a baguette from the bakery across the street for a late lunch before heading out to the trendy restaurant and wine bar further down the street for dinner (Bakkus was one we particularly liked).

Yes we had an apartment with cooking facilities and no we didn’t eat in for every meal!


Springtime in Paris. What could be lovelier?

Palais de Luxembourg, built for Marie de Médicis, mother of Louis XII in the 17th century. Now the seat of the French Senate, with the glorious gardens open to the public.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont. A 19th century park in the 19th arrondissement in an old quarry. We had a very relaxing afternoon there.

Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge made famous by couples attaching padlocks  with their names then throwing the key into the Seine river below. We didn’t add to the more than 90 tonnes of weight already on the bridge. (See, it wasn’t sunny every day, that egg coat came in very handy).

We did some unromantic stuff too.

No I don’t mean fabric shopping.

We visited the catacombs.

This was a thought provoking experience. I was not comfortable that the bones were arranged in patterns, as if people’s skulls and femurs are design elements. But I was not there at the time; relocating the exhumed skeletons of 6 million people from overused cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries to former roman stone quarries might give one a different perspective.

We’ve been in the sewers of Paris on a previous trip. I wonder what this says about us, as a couple?

There is an excellent article on the catacombs, the sewers and other underground places of interest in Paris in the National Geographic.


What’s my next project?

Something from the lovely fabrics that come home with me from Scotland?

No, not yet …

BurdaStyle 08-2013-109

It’s a new autumn dress for church for Felicity. Her version will be shorter (a 78cm skirt length is how its drafted!) with the main dress in cobalt blue and sleeves in black chiffon.

The pattern has been adjusted and checked with a toile, and now I’m ready to cut into the fashion fabric.

Wish me luck with those chiffon sleeves!




Posted in travel, WIP | Tagged , | 10 Comments