Classic navy top in a modern shape: BurdaStyle 02/2016 #103

I really love this top!

I love the fabric.

I love the high low hem

I love the plain back.

I even love the silly little pocket!

I especially love the proportions: sort of crop toppish, but I can lift my arms and not scare anyone with my midriff! ( too be fair, this is a high waisted skirt!)

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 02/2016 #103

There’s been a few nice versions of this pattern appearing in the sewing blog world lately: Handmade by Chris  and The Compulsive Seamstress are two I’ve seen in the last few days

Size: 36-44, I made a 42

Fabric: A beautiful soft cotton knit with fabulous recovery. Bought from Gay Naffine’s sales more than 5 years ago. Sadly this is the last of this piece. The back is slightly sheer polyester crepey chiffon, from deep in the stash. Probably 15 to 20 years old. Vintage!

I cut the back out of a double layer and joined the pieces together at the hem- so that’s a seam rather than a tuned up hem. After joining at the hem, I baste all the edges together and treated the double layer as if it was a single layer

The pocket is the wrong side of the cotton knit. I ironed on interfacing around the edges to give it a bit more structure. I didn’t want a stretched out pocket when I sewed it on!

Changes I made:

Burdastyle intends the neck facing strip to be turned to the inside. I treated it more like a classic T-Shirt neckline binding, so it fills the neck in a little bit.

It also adds a contrast to the back view.

Now, how many more should I make?

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Peanut butter, bacon and dark chocolate cookies and chocolate whoopie pies: gluten free goodness

Now that’s a blog title I never thought I’d write!

The cookies were polarizing. I mean. Come on. Peanut butter, bacon and dark chocolate??

A little bit greasy, but the flavours were fabulous. They were made for craft night a few weeks ago. Rory devoured the leftovers. I might have helped a little bit too.

Peanut butter, dark chocolate and bacon cookies

recipe from Joy the Baker

  • 1 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large handful dark chocolate pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 175 °C. Line trays with baking paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined. Add egg and baking soda and mix until well combined. Fold in cooked bacon and chocolate pieces. That’s it. It really is that easy
  3. Roll into large walnut sized balls before placing on the baking tray and squishing to flatten slightly.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a baking sheet for five minutes.

The whoopie pies were not such a hit, but this was mainly the fault of the filling because the cakey-cookie part of them was delicious. The filling was too sweet and didn’t have enough flavour. Easy to change this though: Even a teaspoon or three of instant coffee would make a big improvement.


Chocolate whoopie pies

recipe from Taste

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Filling (add instant coffee or orange zest or something else to lift the filling out of blah)

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 3 large baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
  4. Add half the flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add half the buttermilk. Stir. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and buttermilk until just combined.
  5. Spoon batter in a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe 3cm wide rounds onto prepared trays, 5cm apart, allowing room for spreading. Stand for 15 minutes. The recipe said to pipe 32 of them. We had lots more than this
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until tops are firm. Cool on trays.
  7. Make Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar and cocoa. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm fluted nozzle. Pipe filling onto 16 rounds. Gently top with remaining rounds.

Posted in Biscuits, Cooking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Not a formal scuba dress for me: Burda 6858

Thank you for your lovely comments about Felicity’s dress.

I have one more photo of that event to show you, because I have a scuba dress too…

Why do I have a scuba dress? It was all part of the formal dress drafting journey I’ve been on.

One of my lovely readers, Tj, theperfectnose, suggested Burda 6858 as a springboard pattern for the bodice to knock off the inspiration dress.


It was close. I liked it. And I very much liked the dress Erica Bunker made from this pattern.

How to do an FBA in this style? Would I need to since it was scuba, and Erica didn’t say she’d done one, and she does for some other patterns?

Only one way to find out! Make one that fits me and see how it looks on her.

There was some logic to this – our bust measurement is the same, but I’m several cup sizes less than Felicity, and larger than her through the waist and hips.

There was also fair amount of escapism. Paper pattern! No drafting! Cute printed scuba in my hot little hands! A stretch lace that would coordinate with it!

Conclusion: It did fit her through the bust. But the waist was too loose and the hips not fitted enough. Plus, she didn’t like the style, particularly the waist seam.

Bonus: It does almost fit me :-)

Technical details

Pattern: Burda 6858, style C

Size: 32-42, I made a 42. Flat pattern measures told me there was a lot of negative ease in this pattern. There is photographic evidence below. I do feel a bit like I’m wearing a sausage casing, and there’s a bit too much sausage. But YOLO. (Can you tell I’ve spent too much time with teenagers recently?)

Fabric: printed scuba from Spotlight with cotton stretch lace from Tessuti’s for the inserts. I’ve used this red stretch lace previously for contrast sleeves on a top. Seems I’m destined not to make a whole garment out of this fabric! I also used a strip of Felicity’s formal dress poly stretch lining for the neck facing.

The neck facing was stitched down with a double needle, but I left off topstitching the other seams.

It’s a fun dress!

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Orange Scuba for 2016 Royal Blue Formal

Felicity had an awesome time at her school formal. I took squillions of photos at the ‘before party’, and don’t seem to have even one sewing blog worthy one.

Oh well, I’ve already told you about the sewing details here and here and the inspiration dress here.

Can’t you just hear this conversation?

Megan: What’s with the raw edge? Didn’t your mum have time to finish the hem?

Felicity: I know. Can’t get good seamstresses these days

(Actually, it was more along the lines of dealing with a train)

Ah, one sewing relevant photo below: the lining (playing a double act here as glasses cleaning material)

This photo shows that I really should’ve ‘hemmed’ her dress a little higher. Or Felicity should’ve worn higher heels…

What this photo also shows is only one date. I love that the girls didn’t feel they had to take a guy with them if they didn’t want to. Go Girl Power!

Felicity wasn’t the only one whose outfit was made by her mum.

Sally did an awesome job of Sophie’s jumpsuit.

The dress code for some family members at the ‘before party’ wasn’t quite at the same standard, but they were still part of the fun.

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Formal dress, all done bar hair and makeup

..and talking about sewing… here’s a sneak peek from the last and final fitting

If she stands up straight those wrinkles on her stomach disappear. Whatever. Fitting is done. No more adjustment necessary!

A fun after party outfit has also been sewn:

A shirt from ‘A very hungry caterpillar’ printed cotton and white shorts with cute scallop details on the pockets

Hopefully, I’ll have photos from the event this weekend to share soon…

Posted in Sewing, WIP | 22 Comments

Dealing with a surfeit of bananas: banana pecan cake with maple syrup glaze

Banana purchasing in our house is a fine example of excellent procurement. It’s not very often that supply outstrips demand.

But, when just occasionally, He who Shops gets it a little wrong, She who Bakes needs a good banana cake recipe.

This one, from Chocolate and Zucchini, is pretty good!



  • 80 grams (3/4 cup) pecans, toasted (in the oven for about 5 mins while its preheating) and roughly chopped
  • 280 grams (2 1/3 cups) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 140 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 40 grams (2 tablespoons) maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, about 600 grams weighed with skin, peeled


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and grease a 24-cm savarin or ring mold, a loaf pan, or a simple 20-cm (round cake pan (I used a kugelhopf ring tin, because I had one :-) )
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the pecans, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar then add the maple syrup, vanilla, and rum. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Mash the bananas with a fork and fold them into the batter.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and use a spatula to combine, gently lifting the batter and folding it over itself until no trace of flour remains; don’t overmix.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Let the pan rest on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife or a thin spatula all around the cake to loosen, then remove from the pan and transfer to the rack to cool.
  8. Let cool for 30 to 40 minutes before glazing (see glaze recipe below).

Maple Syrup Glaze

  1. Sift 50 grams (6 level tablespoons) icing sugar into a small bowl.
  2. Pour in 40 grams (2 tablespoons) maple syrup, and whisk vigorously with a fork until smooth.
  3. Spoon over the cake and spread with an icing spatula or the back of the spoon.
  4. Don’t add some and then add a bit more latter, unless you like the runny and thick two tone glaze look shown below

Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea, in a break from all that sewing…

Posted in Cake, Cooking | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Japanese jacket

The formal dress is going well.How can it not when the best sewing day ever #2 was scheduled by M of NonSuch Sewing at her place?

Even the snacks coordinated with my sewing . And that is very cool elephant fabric. You’ll have to stalk M’s blog to see what it got made into. No pressure for the blog post M!

The sewing supervisor was delightful too.

Now there is only the hem left to do on the Orange Formal Dress. ‘We’ need shoes before that happens.

So let’s talk about something different.

How about my new casual jacket?

It’s got pockets. That in itself is enough to make me smug.

Also. Collar options. I quite like it like this, so I need to find a button or snap to add.

Technical Details

Pattern: Jacket J from Happy Homemade Sew Chic, a Japanese sewing book gifted to me from La Sartora the Christmas before last. My bad for not making something sooner

Here’s the model photos:

And here’s the line drawing

Size: I made a 16. All the patterns in the book, including this one, are in sizes 6 to 16 (bust 78 to 102 cm).

It’s a little big through the back in particular, as you can see in this view.


A lightweight navy chambray from deep in the stash. Last used in 2012 for this dress

Changes I made:

I lengthened the ties by about 15 cm.

I wanted them to be similar in length to the jacket when tied.

I drafted a 3 cm wide neck facing and added a 3 cm hem and side front facing rather than the minimal turn under recommended in the book. My chambray has a definite right and wrong side, and I wanted to make the wrong side showing bit look like a design feature, not poor planning. With linen, as made up in, in the book, this would not be necessary.

Thanks for the pattern book La Sartora! Pretty pleased with how my easy new summer topper turned out.

Best of all, this jacket took 4 hours to complete, from finding the pattern book to parading around in the finished jacket. Beat that, Orange Formal Dress!

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Formal dress progress – drafting done

A month has gone since I last posted. I probably don’t need to tell you that the formal dress drafting has been all consuming….

And it’s now almost done. Thank goodness!

The bodice toile is now a flat pattern – yes two of the pieces go to hip height and one doesn’t. I know. Bad pattern maker

I played around with adding bra cups and boning to the bodice toile, but it was a very unsatisfactory experience for all involved. See the last blog post for how Felicity felt about trying on endless bodice toiles with different sew-in bar cups. A strapless bra was a much better solution!

It was time to turn the bodice drafts into dress pattern pieces. I used the skirt part of the original pattern as a guide, elongated it and flared out from the knees on the side and centre back seams. Then added a train.

Cutting out long pieces like this is the real reason we have a dining table that seats 10!

I’m cautious so I just cut out the lining and facing and sewed that up. My live model consented to a fitting. She’s happy about her choice of orange. I was happy with the fit, but the back needed to be more racer back in style. Pattern drafting wasn’t over yet!

If you look closely you’ll see a zigzag stitching line just inside the stay stitching line.

I’m experimenting with clear elastic on the facing to keep the bodice snug up against the body on these bias cut pieces.

A zigzag line just on the inside facing edge front and back won’t show, and it might just help with the overall fit.

Fingers crossed I’ll get most of the dress done soon. D-Day is April 2.

Posted in Sewing, WIP | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Formal dress drafting…part 1

Felicity *loves* this part of dressmaking

As a side note, who would have known printed scuba was so good for toiles?

When it’s inside out you can draw in the changes so easily with sharpies or textas (and random smiley faces too), plus re-pinning the seams is a cinch!

I think textas might be my new favourite sewing tool.

How the toile is looking so far.

I haven’t yet tried it on the live model. See first photo for reason.

Once I have, and it’s all okay, the next step is to work out how to add internal support. I’m thinking a sort of shelf bra arrangement with cups. Unchartered territory for me. This could all end in tears!

Posted in Sewing, WIP | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

The mindfulness dress: BurdaStyle 07/2011 #131

No I haven’t found that pattern yet.

But lets talk about something different.

Why should the mindfulness colouring in trend be limited to paper?

Fabric can be coloured in too!

I had a lot of fun with this dress.

And who says it over? Boring meeting? I can whip out my textas and zen out some more. There’s plenty more to do..

This dress started as a toile. The fabric has been in my stash for some time.

I wasn’t too concerned about the selvedge showing on the centre back seam, because this was a toile.

Does it really matter if part of the text printed on the selvedge “Designed by Sissi Edholm & Lisa Ullenius 2005 IKEA of Sweden AB” shows on the slit?? (It was deep stash. 2005 makes it almost vintage!)

Then I tried it on, and really liked the dress as well as really liking the pattern (the pattern was subsequently used for the teal party frock).

This would be a great hot weather dress I thought. Specially in linen, which is exactly what this fabric is. Pity about the selvedge.

So I lined and finished it. And then did a bit of colouring in.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 07/2011 #131

Size: 36-44. I made a 44.

Fabric: Linen outer from IKEA (deep stash) and a lining from cotton batiste with a light sparkly coating from Ferrier Fashion Fabrics– it feels lovely against my skin.

The black and white linen got some extra colour round the waist thanks to textas.

These were not special fabric pens. I did a trial run with a scrap and washed it. None of the colours I wanted to use ran, except purple, and maybe red just a teensy nit. The red did bleed a bit after the first wash too.

Bleach might turn out to be my new best friend.

Changes I made:

I moved the zip and the walking slit to the back and fully lined the dress rather than just faced the neck line.

The sleeves stick out. They also stick out on other sewists who made this dress with sleeves, like Doctor T and njnow02.

I double and triple checked that the pieces went together in the right way. So either they are marked incorrectly, or the model in the fashion shoot has amazingly broad shoulders.

This is a great pattern. I need to make another version! I do have the traced off pattern filed away where it should. Now, back to looking for the other one…

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Best sewing day ever

I had the best sewing day ever with my dear friend M of Nonsuch

Two sewing machines and the overlocker. Sewing themed T shirt. Champagne. Delicious leftovers from the previous efforts of He who Cooks… Bliss!

We were selfless sewers too. M made a great shirt for Ken, and I finally got around to making the Rachel Comey skirt with cool pockets for Felicity. You know, the one that everyone else has made, multiple times over. Vogue 1247, now OOP

I lengthened the skirt 18 cm. The fabric is a cotton canvas from IKEA and it’s very very firm. I probably should have gone a size up in this fabric to a 14 for comforts sake.

While the pattern was out I cut out and made another top for myself too. My selfless sewer halo slipped a bit..


What about that formal dress, I hear you say.

I have made some progress:

I’ve located a neoprene/scuba fabric source (Spotlight, thanks Jann) and I have two patterns to use as a guide for the bodice:

I thought I’d use a princess line dress pattern I have already modified to fit Felicity well as my starting point and modify the upper bust and neckline to be more like the two above, as I’ve scrawled in red below.

Do you think I could find the pattern?? Every other traced-off pattern I’ve ever sewn, and some I haven’t, are neatly filed and exactly where I expect them to be. Except this one. Grr.

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Help! Another formal dress is needed!

Felicity has a Year 12 formal in early April. I know, its early. And she already had a formal last year. Sigh

We went formal dress ‘shopping’ with her friend M and M’s mum C. It was more trying on than real shopping, but the businesses totally got it. I’m sure they’ve seen lots and lots of teenagers browsing and trying on multiple times before actually settling on anything.

It was a lot of fun.

Many different styles needed to be checked out, even ones that really didn’t, like this magnificent fairy dress. Its quite a contrast to M’s elegant and totally gorgeous mint gown.

How about one with a detachable bid?

Seven layers in the skirt might be more her style? Let give that a try too.

Hmm. Perhaps a bit to princess-y.

Now the red one is more like it!

It was a size too small, and made from neoprene.. otherwise it might be already hanging in her wardrobe, and my formal dress sewing would be over before it had even started.

So, what do you think? Should I try making a custom version similar to this that fitted her better? Anyone know of any patterns that I could use as a springboard for the bodice? And good sources of plain neoprene or scuba knit?

Posted in Sewing | Tagged | 17 Comments

The skirt edition of sewing at the beach

I made some skirts at the beach too. Simple stretch cotton summer staples. Fabric from the stash, but originally from Gay Naffine’s sales in July 2014 and November 2010.

Red ticking skirt

This is an adaptation of my asymmetrical wrap skirt Burdastyle 12/2013 #109

I took the left front side pattern piece (the one with the straight hem) and cut it out on the fold on the centre front line. I added a centre back seam to the back, plus a zip and walking slit. And used a facing instead of the waistband. In other words, it bears little resemblance to the original pattern!

A teensy bit of topstitching and, viola! a casual summer straight skirt.

The blouse is a me-made from October 2013: BurdaStyle 07-2011-121. It’s one of those blouses I reach for over and over again, and still looks great. I put that down to fabulous fabric. It really is worth sewing with the good stuff.

Lemon yellow skirt:

You saw this skirt in the last blog post. It’s BurdaStyle 01/2011 #137. It doesn’t seem to be available as a pdf download, but if you have this issue, have a look at this pattern. It’s a winner!

I first made it for Jungle January 2014, and have been meaning to repeat for a long time. This one is just the same as the Crazy Zebra version, except without lining.

It’s a nice pegged retro-ish over the knee length style, with a reasonably long walking vent that makes it easy to wear.

I’ve paired it here with another simple  knit top, BurdaStyle 04/2014 #109

I did a lazy persons petite adjustment (raised the neckline 2 cm) but otherwise changed nothing. Two pattern pieces? What was there to really change!?

This pattern is a bit of a sleeper. Burda made it up in a chunky knit, and instructed picking up stitches at the hem with a knitting needle and casting off using yarn you’d unravelled from the remnants of fabric. Sort of pretend knitting.

The pattern easily adapts to a regular knit. Instead of bias binding for the neckline, I cut out a skinny facing and, after stitching it to the bodice and flipping to the inside, stitched it down with a twin needle. I shamelessly copied this idea from Mary Athey.

This was cut out as a 42 grading to a 44 at the hips. It’s very roomy.

I know there are draglines from the bust but I’m not worrying about that (or ablogogising).

It’s a two piece pattern. I got to use up a knit remnant from fabric I loved and Felicity ‘stole’. So much to love. Draglines can be sorted with the next version. This one is going to be worn.

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Sewing at the beach: BurdaStyle 07/2014 #108

Happy New Year!

I hope you’ve had a great start to 2016.

I had a lovely time at the beach: swimming, reading, catching up with friends, fishing and … sewing.

He Who Cooks graciously made room in the car for my sewing machine ..

..and.. the overlocker.

He’s a keeper!

Can you think of a better view whilst sewing? We were just south of Tumby Bay in South Australia at Thuruna Campsite, with a lovely group of extended family and friends, right on the beach front.

Given the location, I really should have been sewing bikinis, or cover-ups. But inspiration had previously struck elsewhere, and a top was already cut out of this fabulous ‘shoe’ panel print fabric

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 07/2014 #108

Size: 36-44, I made a 42.

Fabric: The outer fabric is cotton voile, one of my Mood NYC souvenirs. I lined it with a silky polyester woven from one of Gay Naffine’s designer fabric sales. So sad that there will be no more of these.

Changes I made

This is a cropped top. I lengthened it considerably and lined it. Both lining and fashion fabric were sewn separately at the shoulders and side seams, but sewn together at the neckline before a facing from the fashion fabric was added.

The lining and the upper fabric were separately hemmed, the lining a bit shorter. At the sleeve hem the lining and fabric were sewn together (sort of like bagging a jacket) and since the lining had a smaller seam allowance, the fashion fabric wraps inside a little.

It looks okay tucked in, but then the not-so-neat high heeled shoes part of the panel is hidden.

The big question that still remains is.. what shoes do you wear with a top covered in shoes of every colour?

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Secret Santa at work

I think my work colleagues know me very well!

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate, seasons greeting to everyone and best wishes for the New Year.

Posted in Sewing | Tagged | 5 Comments