From Oscar de la Renta suiting to IKEA upholstery fabric

You know those competitions where you use one pattern for different looks?

I’ve got a great example to show you.

This is BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110

The shorter version of BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111

Why do I make a shorter version of this same pattern? Don’t I have lots of other perfectly good patterns?

Well, I had a toile

And.. I knew that just a little bit of work would give me a wearable garment.

That contrast collar was a design choice led by necessity (I didn’t have enough of the IKEA fabric left). It’s hot pink, because you all encouraged me. And I love it!

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110

Size: 34-42, I made a 42 with no alterations

Fabric: The outer fabric is cotton canvas from IKEA, perfect for curtains, cushions and other upholstery uses. The collar and facing is a cotton twill , and its lined with Sunsilky – a polyester lining with good breath-ability.

Isn’t that collar ridiculous?!

I didn’t use any interfacing – the IKEA fabric has incredible body. I might regret this later. The cotton twill is a bit soft.

I added an inner pocket because the jacket was a bit short for usable side seam pockets.

Of course this jacket started off as a coat toile.

I chopped off my toile at the cutting line for the jacket, plus a hem.

Because of the slight flare in the skirt part of the coat, turning up the hem required a little bit of gathering. I could have unpicked, reshaped the pieces and resewn all the seams, but that seemed more fiddly than necessary.

The gathering worked well, and is all hidden under the bagged lining anyway.

The cut off lower skirt then was sliced into strips for the belt. Because of the seams in this design, the belt has lots of joins, and it’s not completely on grain.

I’m in two minds about the belt as a tie belt. I think I’ll add a buckle and make it more like a trench coat belt.

The other problem with using the toile was the sleeve length. I’d cut them out to length – so there was no hem allowance added.

I got around this by cutting out a separate facing and then sandwiching this to the outer fabric with a black bias binding.

No loss of length, a firm faced hem and nice black bound edge

How much fun is this jacket?!

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Hot rocks dragon skin dress: Burdastyle 12/2014 #112

This lovely pink and orange number was sewn for a church event on Mother’s Day. My dear friend M and I were Marvelous Mothers and sewed for our daughters as well as ourselves.

The daughters: S in Vogue 8758 (OOP), H in BurdaStyle 12/2014 #127B and Felicity in #112 from the same issue – they’re BurdaStyle December issue twins!

H’s and S’s dresses belong on NonSuch. Just making a guest appearance here on He Cooks…She Sews.

Technical Details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2014 #112

Size: 36-44, I made a 40 with a FBA and shortened the skirt length by 5 cm. No other adjustments needed – the fit was good.

Fabric: A delightful polyester brocade from Catwalk Fabrics– a local, small but well curated high end fabric shop.

I used a stretch black microsuede from the stash for the inserts.

The pattern has lovely details, like these triangular shoulder pieces.

The sleeves are cut on the bias, which adds extra give through the shoulders and allows a narrow sleeve silhouette to still be comfortable to wear.

I didn’t add zips to the sleeve hems, as designed by Burda, because a dress made from this fabric didn’t seem to need this extra detail, but it’s a nice idea.

I did keep the triangular insert on the back even though this means there is a side zip. I umm-ed and ahh-ed about inserting a back zip though the triangular insert (look at that lovely centre back seam just begging for a zip!) but decided to leave this style detail just as Burda intended it to be.

The back neck insert balances with the godet at the hem.

Here they are together, with bonus photo bombing by H…

My stint of selfless sewing was done with this dress. It’s been all about me since, and could well stay that way! Well, at least until a new dress is needed for Grannie’s wedding in August…

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Oscar de la Renta coat

Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post about this coat. I’m delighted with it!

One side view..

and the other.

Now, the promised construction details.

A major decision with this project was which side of the fabric to use. My initial thought was ‘how convenient that lamination is, because I won’t need to interface’.

Then I looked more closely. It was sort of weirdly beautifully. Shiny, and crinkled in a way that mirrored the boucle underneath. And a glorious deep chocolate colour.

Liz had told me it was an Oscar de la Renta runway fabric, and the Mood fabrics printout with the fabric said that too. A happy hour or so on located the runway photos. Oscar had used the laminated side on the outside. That decided it!

It also looked like he might have used lapped seams. I liked that idea too.

I decided which seams were going to be lapped and then trimmed the seam allowance of the side that would end up on top. Sticky tape was my friend for marking the seam allowance on the piece that was going to end up underneath

I pinned the top piece flush against my sticky tape line…

and stitched away.

Sticky tape was even useful as a guide for the vent overlap stitching line

I’m pleased with how the lapped seams turned out. They emphasize the seams lines, and add a slight edgy moto jacket vibe to the coat.

I didn’t lap all the seams. The waist and the side seams were stitched conventionally and then the seam allowance secured on the inside with another line of stitching

The extra lines of stitching on the outside are a nice feature

I love the tweedy inside.

Here it is inside out. As you can see, I sewed the collar onto the neck wrong sides together, i.e. opposite to the other seams, because the inside shows with the collar and lapels folded out when its worn.

I wondered if I might need to purchase a walking foot or a Teflon foot for this project, but the normal foot seemed to deal with the laminated side just fine.

And , on a fabric note, I noticed while window shopping on the Mood website for other Oscar de la Renta fabrics (and why wouldn’t I? This experience was so lovely) that this fabric is available again. Not affiliated, just a happy sewist.

Back to construction stuff.

Burda has the buttons a smidge higher than the waist seam, but I ignored this style direction.

I placed mine on the waist because then I could make easy peasy inseam button holes.

I love these buttons

I added a snap closure to hold the collar in place…

I don’t like it so much with the collar opening up to the waist.

I’m delighted to have this coat in the wardrobe, snuggling up here with my husband’s coats.

This was fun project. This very special fabric meant there was no hair canvas, interfacing, facing or linings, and no hems or special seam finishes. A truly anti-tailored coat.

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The coat of many collaborations

Have you had a sewing project that was collaboration with others? Did it turn out awesomely?

Mine did! Wonderful people helped me with this coat.

The fabric: a generous gift from Liz of designerfabricsaustralia.

The inspiration: What Oscar did with this fabric – Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2007 RTW collection.

The pattern: you, my wonderful readers and commenters helped choose this elegant design (BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111)

The buttons: Veronica (on the left), the best button salesperson in Adelaide. It took her less than 30 seconds to pick these out for me. And there were quite a few to choose from!

The coat’s first outing: shared with other Me-Mades on Mother’s Day in Murraybridge.


Felicity is in another (!) new  dress (post coming soon..), S is in Vogue, H and M in BurdaStyle. You should go and stalk their blog for more details of these three lovely dresses. I’ll post about the construction details of my coat separately. I just couldn’t resist sharing how pleased I am with this project for any longer! Thanks again to all of you. The sewing community, both on and off line, is a marvelous thing.

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Formal! Revealed!

With her gorgeous friend M

And another gorgeous friend R

R supplied the cutest corsages

Some of her lovely friends at the ‘before party’

Felicity’s dress was BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130.

Construction details are here and here.

Her joy in her dress was a wonderful reward!

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Oscar de la Renta sushi

There are no more excuses!

This fabric has to be made into a coat. Now.

So I put my big girl panties on and dealt with it. I went to The Point of No Return. That would be Cutting Out.

Does anyone else see hound’s-tooth sushi?

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Update on another WIP: the landscape dress

Remember me talking about this gorgeous fabric?

You were most helpful in deciding which pattern to use and I even made a muslin.

Then I got cold feet. Ruth of CoreCouture‘s pattern whispering of Vogue 9021 might have contributed to this

I worked out I could just squeeze this pattern onto my panels if I made the sleeves a bit shorter, and went for knee length.

But I was struck down with a case of fear-of-cutting-into-special-fabric

So I made a test version in a navy tropical wool first.

I like my test version.

The style lines (which you totally cannot see in this dark navy) are fabulous: slanted bust darts that meet up with one of the double skirt darts.

I underlined  through the bodice and lined normally in the skirt. I used Sunsilky lining- it’s polyester, but treated in some way to be breathable.It’s lovely to wear.

You’d think the almost bat-wing sleeves would make it limiting, but they fold down beautifully under jackets. I didn’t use interfacing in their facings, and that, coupled with the lovely drape of the wool is probably half the reason for their good behavior under jackets.

I think I love this dress!

The sleeve design does, however, have lingerie exposing tendencies. See my black camisole?

You could sew the side/sleeve up a bit more, but that might limit movement, and make jacket wearing more challenging.

I’m happy with the fit (size 14 out to 16 for the hips and a small sway back adjustment, i.e. standard for me). The only change I’ll make with the next one is to lower the neck a little.

so,  have I started on the landscape fabric?

Well, actually, no.

Not yet. It’s looking at me, silently condemning me.

Summer has flown and, with it, thoughts of light silky dresses. So the landscape fabric will just have to hibernate in the stash until spring.

You may recall that I also have a coat project in the queue. Autumn would be the ideal time to sew it, wouldn’t it?

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Gluten free lemon friands

Thank you for all your lovely comments about Felicity’s Formal Frock made from Funky Fabric with some Flares of Frustration but now Finally Finished.

Clearly, I like F-words, and need to keep using them.

Words like Friands.

These were made by He who Cooks. And they were Fabulous!


  • 180 g butter melted, plus extra for greasing
  • zest of 2 large or 3 medium lemons
  • 200 g pure icing sugar
  • 80 g gluten free plain flour
  • 125 g almond meal
  • 5 egg whites, lightly whisked
  • flaked almonds to sprinkle on top
  1. Preheat fan forced oven to 165°C (180°C for conventional oven)
  2. Grease 12 hole friand tin with extra melted butter
  3. Combine melted butter and lemon zest, then sift in icing sugar and flour, and almond meal ( if it will go through the sieve)
  4. Add egg whites and mix until combined and smooth
  5. Spoon into the holes of the friand tin and top with flaked almonds.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.

Makes 12.

Recipe from For my Senses

Delicious with raspberries too.

Perfect autumn fare!

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Felicity’s formal dress finally finished

Phew. Finished is a good way for it to be. There were a few more f-words I could have used in that title, but this is a family blog.

It’s a phenomenal dress. Fun. Funky. Fluorescent. Form fitting and floofed out, all in one dress

The coat hanger shots do not do this dress justice, but the internet will have to wait to see Felicity modelling it, she says. The formal is a few weeks away still.

The Burda pattern used was a designer original: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130. Felicity was inspired by the style but not the colour. She seems to have inherited my love of bold and bright colour.

There were hours of fun, and frustration in the construction. Not in equal proportions.

The outer fabric was too drape-y and thin for this style. I thought I would fix that with organza underlining.

You’re looking at the inside of the outer back bodice, and the neon yellow in the top left corner is part of the inner bodice. White satin bias tape added to the fun of seam and hem finishing

And here’s the inside view of the skirt. I used lime green organza on the skirt. Because I ran out of the shimmering white used on the bodice. And what’s not to love about lime green?

The organza underlining did add more body, but it resulted in every seam puckering like crazy, no matter what I did. That’s why the underling on the skirt became regular lining below the pocket.

Puckering down the back centre seam became a design feature, highlighted by black ribbon on each side, separating at the hem slit.

Don’t say I’m not inventive!

The dress hem was a micro one with white satin bias tape. The dress needed to be kept as long as possible. Ridiculously high platform heels need to be worn!

Phew indeed.

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Wedding nostalgia

Are you a traditionalist when it comes to wedding cake?

image from

He who Cooks and I were married in the 80’s, and we had traditional fruit cake (and big 80’s sleeves).

You are wondering where I am going with this aren’t you? What’s the sewing point? That will come later. But sewing is not really the point (did I really write that?!)

Our wedding cake’s top tier was kept in my mother-in-laws china cabinet. We didn’t cut it on our first anniversary, and then it sort of got forgotten about.

Until now.

26 years on.

Do you think it might still be edible? 26 year old fruit cake??

We thought we’d find out on Friday night. 26 years and two days after the first time we sliced into the bottom tier of this cake.

Do you think we could even cut it?!

(sorry, blurry iPhone photo. It was dark. Apart from some highly amusing video, similarly blurry, and I’ll spare you that, this is our only evidence of these historic moments. Despite the quality, we are very grateful to Ken for capturing the moments)

The icing was very hard. Someone might even have said concrete-like.

It took several attempts, and calls for an axe, but we did finally manage to cut a slice.

And, yes, it was indeed edible. A touch dry, and with a definite aged character, and a rancid note in the pieces close to the marzipan under the royal icing, but edible.

Isn’t the icing bouquet exquisite?


And the sewing part to this story?

I made my wedding dress, and my bridesmaids.

They were simple tea length dresses, but, looking back, I’m impressed with my confidence to attempt this. I did not have much sewing experience.

I knew what I wanted my dress to look like. A block was drafted for the fitted bodice. From hand written notes my friend took when she went to a pattern drafting course. What was I thinking? That this was easy or something??

I used silk taffeta and corded lace: the most expensive fabric I’d ever purchased. They were both delightful to work with.

lace sleeve cuff detail

The crazy eighties sleeves came from Butterick, morphed into leg-o-mutton territory with tulle sleeve headings.

I knew nothing about fit, but to my now more experienced eye, it looks okay, even through the back in this action shot.

And if silk taffeta and coded lace and drafting patterns was not enough for my inexperienced younger self, I also made a camisole and french knickers from silk charmeuse using Simplicity 5549.

The culotte slip (3) could be useful again, now culottes are back in fashion.. 

Our wedding cake was amazingly longlasting.

The marriage is going very well too!

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Formal Dress progress with bonus Easter cuteness

It has got to that stage. Of not liking what I am sewing.

It’s not because I don’t like the colours of the fabrics I’m using…

Graphic fashion fabric on the left, neon yellow crepe for the bodice underlayer on the right, and neon lime organza for the underlining at the bottom, complete with orange markings for the waist tucks.

or that the organza underlayer needed to be basted to the top fabric by hand around the tucks and darts..

and the style is fabulous.

I am just a bit over it all.

There is still lots to do. And a deadline to meet.


And the bonus Easter goodness? That’s thanks to my friend Karen, who served these delights at craft night last night

Devilled eggs ….. as chickens.

Cute eh? Perhaps a little bit creepy too.


Happy Easter to those who celebrate


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Crop top or Formal dress muslin #1

I hope you’re not sick of reading about my WIPs (works in progress). This time its Felicity’s Formal dress: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130

Whilst going through my fabric stash for something else, Felicity spied this polyester woven and wanted to know why it couldn’t be used for her Formal dress.

It’s certainly not the jacquard that the pattern calls for, but it does have some body. Perhaps?

I had to trial the alterations I’d made to the bodice of the pattern, so rather than using something stiff from the stash, I choose a softer drapier fabric, just to get a feel for how a non jacquard might work.

[Felicity has a head cold and is having a bad hair day. So her lovely face is not gracing the blog today!]

I think a softer fabric is going to work. After I get the fit right.

That extra fabric pooling between the bust and the shoulder at the armscye needs to go.

I need to move the apex of the dart darts back a bit. I tried rotating the darts up into the neck tucks, but it made the extra fabric pooling between the bust and the shoulder even worse than it is here. A dart will be less obvious in a pattern fabric.

The extra fabric between the shoulder and the bust is not so obvious from the side, but that bust apex needs to shrink

Arrgh, and now I see that the side seam is not vertical…

The back looks ok.

The over bodice will only be closed at the neck on the dress, but a second closure on the crop top makes it more wearable for Felicity (yes, she sees it as a wearable garment! not just a muslin!)

How to get rid of the fabric pooling?

A horizontal tuck above the bust looks like it might work. This is an alteration I often need to do for Felicity.

It does smooth things out. But now I have to both shorten and move the bust dart down!

What do you think? Other alterations needed? Leave the polyester woven in the stash and go look for a jacquard?

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Coat muslin, IKEA style

I’ve listened to you and worked hard this weekend on my coat.

I know you are expecting something like Burda’s vision of elegance for this pattern (BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111)

But, I’ve made a muslin and it’s not an elegant coat in any way.

IKEA upholstery fabric. So much more fun to make muslins from than, well, muslin.


The first thing you probably noticed (after the sad blue face on my tummy), was the collar. I’ve got mine on the roll lines marked on the pattern

That’s how the shorter version of this coat (BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110) is intended to be worn

Good to know I have options!


Okay lets look at the fit.

This is a straight size 42, with no changes except to make the sleeves a bit roomier though the upper arm.

It doesn’t look too bad to me, but please let me know what you think.

I can see a couple of things

  • The “waist” seam is sitting on my waist, but the pattern is drafted with this seam 1cm or so above the waist. I considered shortening the bodice (I often need to) but the bust darts are about right (sorry, can’t see them in my photos). I’ll probably leave this like it is.
  • There’s a bit of excess fabric under the bust at the sides.

Apart from the extra fabric under the arms on the side, the back looks good. Yes that is a fabric marking pencil in my hair. From Paris (so there is a tiny bit of elegance after all!)

The side views show that the bottom edge might need to be leveled


My plan is to use this pattern for this fabric.

It’s an Oscar de la Renta double-faced wool, linen and mohair blend, woven houndstooth with metallic threads and a dark brown laminated back. A fabulous gift from Liz of Designer Fabrics Australia, my favourite online fabric shop!

I’m planning to use it like a double faced fabric, with the laminated side on the outside and the tweed showing on the collar and the turnback.

I need to play around a bit with the fabric, but if I can, I’ll use lapped seams for the vertical seams, to show a little bit of the tweed and highlight the style lines.

Do you think I should try to get rid of that fabric pooling under my bust? The IKEA fabric is not quite as thick as the Oscar De La Renta, and a little bit stiffer. Perhaps a bit of extra ease here won’t be too much of an issue? All advice gladly received!

Oh, and I’m very tempted to cut out another collar piece and a front facing in hot pink for the IKEA coat, chop the coat down to hip length and line it. It could make a fun casual topper! What do you think?



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Lime balls

Have I told you about my great new cooking book?

One of my Christmas presents was the My Petite Kitchen Cookbook.

I love Eleanor’s blog and have been very happy with how her gluten free recipes have turned out (here and here).

I was keen to try some of her other recipes in my “Christmas” book, and New Years Eve was the perfect opportunity for her lemon coconut balls. Not too sweet and refreshingly citrusy. Perfect for a hot summer evening down under. Plus super easy to make.

I repeated the recipe the other weekend with limes. Even better!

I love limes



  • 2 cups (180g) desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (100g) almond meal
  • 80g butter
  • 1/3 cup (115g) honey
  • grated zest and juice of two limes (or one lemon)
  1. Set aside ½ cup of the coconut and put all the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture starts to form a dough.
  3. Use your hands to form small balls.
  4. Roll the balls in the extra coconut (or use prettier, larger coconut flakes instead).
  5. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to set.

The truffles can be kept at room temperature, but are best kept in the fridge. Makes around 25 truffles.  Will keep for 3-4 days. In theory.


Sewing update:

I’m still auditioning patterns for my lovely landscape print

I weakened. Vogue 9021 has been purchased.

I haven’t yet pulled it out of the envelope to see if it fits on my fabric, but I do like this pattern a lot! Also, red booties as cover art. What’s not to love?

And, I have made a teensy bit of progress on my vision of a lovely winter coat in this delightful laminated tweed

“Progress” = pattern traced and IKEA upholstery fabric cutinto for a muslin of BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111

No actual sewing has yet been done…

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The tale of two “muslins”

Are you a muslin (toile) maker? Or do you get straight into the pattern with your fabric and fit as you go (or, like me, hope for the best)?

Felicity’s Big Winter Coat, 2011

I have made muslins in the past, but not very many (like, all of two or three in the last six years…)

This last month, however, I’ve made two muslins, or “wearable muslins”. And not completely intentionally.

Muslin #1.

What is she talking about, you think, looking at this image. Looks like a nice dress, and those diagonal drag lines are probably just from her hand in the pocket. Perhaps a bit tight through the bust? Still, on balance, it looks okay, and the style lines are lovely. Nice fabric too. Looks like a lace overlay.

Yes, yes, yes.

But, wait. You haven’t seen the back.

We have a classic case of bad fabric pooling at the backwaist. This is after trying to fix it too by retrofitting a(nother) sway back (I’d already made that adjustment whilst tracing the pattern off).

This dress pattern is from an Easy Burda Autumn/Winter 2014 BurdaStyle Special: Dress 4e, minus the neck band and faux pocket flaps

The “lace” overlay is a rayon, polyester linen blend, bought from Gay Naffine’s sales some years back.

I underlined it with a self striped stretch cotton and used this same fabric for the plain central sections. I underlined the central section too, with a lighter weight stretch cotton.

The inside view

I know. I should’ve made a muslin first. Now all I’ve got is a nicely sewn wearable muslin using lovely fabrics.


Muslin #2

I didn’t want to make that mistake again, so, for my next dress, I trialed the pattern first in a polyester twill from deep in the stash.

And this one turned out almost completely wearable!

This is Burdastyle 09/2012 #134

No puddling at the back waist on this one, although there is some extra fabric under the arms.

You can see it at the front too: a bit saggy above the waist under my bust, and side on as well.

Apart from this, I’m pleased with the fit.

I might even wear it like it is, with its blue exposed zip (it was close at hand and the right size, and this was just a muslin), obvious machine hem (I needed to check hem length with heels, and this is a muslin after all), and slightly stretched out neckline (no staystitching, see previous comment).

This pattern was muslined for this fabric:

I am very happy with the pattern and still think it would work, but I can’t get Ruth of corecouture‘s, suggestion of Vogue 9021 out of my mind.

Then Gabrielle of UpSewLate recently made a beautiful version.

I might not have enough fabric for those big sleeves though… so still thinking about it. If Spotlight have a $5 Vogue sale anytime soon, you know what I’ll be buying!

Meanwhile, I have another muslin to make.


Formal Dress for Felicity

Felicity’s school has a formal in May for the Year 11 students as well as the Year 12’s. Actually, there is one formal but both years go, so that means a formal for two years. She has relatively low frock expectations for Formal Number One. Phew.

BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130 is her current plan. It’s a German designer pattern, Talbot Runhof, that doesn’t appear to be available as a pdf download.

We don’t have any fabric yet. It seems there is nothing suitable in my very large stash!

I will need to add a FBA to the bodice and the bodice overlay. I guess I will rotate the horizontal side dart I add into the neck tucks and the vertical dart into the side seam for the overlay. Any advice will be gratefully received!

It will also be interesting to see how this style works when it’s on a body that needs a FBA. Yay for muslining!

Yes, I have learnt my lesson.


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