Is it Winter or is it Spring? BurdaStyle 01/2016 #115 and friends

It’s that changeable time of early Spring. One day is wonderfully sunny and legs and arms are barred. There’s a promise of summer in the air.

The next day its back to grey skies and rain and 15°C as the maximum. All those winter clothes that you are tired of wearing have to come out again.

My last lot of sewing has been a bit like that. Two tops, both in similar styles pattern wise, but worlds apart in expression.

Exhibit A. Winter. Made in a viscose knit from Gay Naffine

Exhibit B. Yeah! Spring! Made in a rayon challis from Britix Fabrics, San Francisco

Both have bows at the neck and full sleeves gathered into a cuff, and both are prints, but one is so much lighter in spirit than the other!

Lets talk about Winter.

Pattern: Burda World of Fashion 9/2007 #101

This is an ancient pattern in terms of the internet sewing community. Nine years old! It’s a BurdaStyle pattern before downloadable PDFs and when BurdaStyle was still called Burda World of Fashion. There’s not even an electronic line drawing!

It’s designed for knits, but I know others in the sewing blogosphere have made it in wovens too

I made this up first forever ago in a synthetic navy knit. It really is forever ago because it predates me posting to Pattern Review. And I started doing that in 2010. It’s still one of my go to work tops. The fabric is amazing. Indestructible.

I’ve been promising myself to make this pattern up again, but the indestructible nature of my first one had conspired against me. No longer!

This pattern has some nice details

A deep V neck with a tie and gathers from the center rather than side bust darts,

and soft gathered sleeves. I added a cuff rather than using elastic. I don’t love elasticized cuffs on sleeves.

I love this fabric, despite its wintery tones. It has silhouette peacocks and a building that looks like Sacre Couer! And birdcages. What’s not to love?

Here’s a back view to show off that fabric a bit more.

Lets digress a bit about the skirt. This is a recent make too. It’s the last of some boiled wool in my stash. This is the third skirt I’ve made from the piece. Felicity has one too, and I used to have another one too. There was a laundry misadventure with that first one.

The notable points about the skirt are the exposed zip, with its zipper guard from novelty fabric

and the lack of a proper hem or seam finishes. Boiled wool. Great stuff for not fraying.

Its lined, and the exposed zip was reinforced with fusible interfacing. I used Tany’s great tutorial for inserting the zip.

Lets move to Spring. Some skirt, different top.

Also, sunlight!

This is from one of this years issue of BurdaStyle. It’s the 01/2016 #115 dress shortened to top length and without the drawstrings on the yokes.Thanks to M of Nonsuch for doing all the tracing work for me. She made a delightful silk version which has sadly not yet made it onto her blog..

EDITED TO ADD  Now blogged at Nonsuch. And with a blog title of One for SewingElle!

The tie neck is lovely and the sleeves are fabulous.

And while they might look ridiculous, the drafting is superb. You really do have to try very hard to drape them through your salad dressing or in the dishwater in the sink.

It must be something to do with their length (not quite full length) and the pronounced curvature of the bottom of the sleeve.

So, my new fruity and floral spring blouse has won my heart, but I think I’ll be very glad of my new winter top, when its cold again.

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Turning souvenir fabric into a winter Tee-top: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #101

Yes I did bring back some fabric souvenirs from Philadelphia. I’ll tell you about them later.

Today is about souvenirs of Brighton.

In particular, a lovely grey and baby blue boiled wool.

I scored the last of that fabric on the roll, and it was only 1.2 m of 120 wide. Options were limited.

Should I make a jacket with contrast sleeves? Or that really simple T-Shirt top in Burdas June issue?

You know, the one that should be made with soft or thin or drape-y fabric.

In other words, all the things my fabric was not.

You know where this is going don’t you?

I give you winter sweater with ridiculous wide and short sleeves

I like it! Despite its being a catalogue of all the things poor fitting: draglines and excess fabric under the arms.

And the pooling in the small of my back (or is that just me trying to stand up too straight?)

In its defense, it really is lovely fabric.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #103A

The line drawing is not distorted… The top really is that shape

Size: 36-44, I made a 42 and added 5 cm to the length. The fabric has some mechanical stretch so I used a shallow zig zag stitch for construction.

I finished the neck edge with a bias strip of cotton batiste (a remnant from I’ve-done-all-the-dumb-things-dress)

A ‘tag’ to make it easy to tell the front from the back


and inside views

No need for seam finishes or hems on the sleeves (selvedge) or the bottom ( just a cut edge)

And I love the way it can be folded up with such simplicity.

So, the last word?

Very happy this sweater is in my wardrobe. It’s a reminder of Brighton, and of accepting diversity in all aspects of life, even pattern styles.

Plus its cozy and warm and some of my favourite colours.


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In London with Felicity

Warning. Another image heavy post with only a small amount of sewing content.

PSA over. Still with me?

Okay, lets start.

Felicity and I continued to pack a lot in to our remaining 5 days away. World’s best tourists? Most walking between the sights as possible? Most use of bandaids on feet? All of the above? Perhaps.

Big Ben and Westminster

This was our first afternoon in London. We had beautiful sunny weather most days, and this was no exception.

There were one or two rowdy protesters (Tony Blair and the Iraq war was the issue of the day), and a sobering tribute to Jo Cox among the statues of Churchill, Gandhi, Mandela and other famous leaders of Britain and the Commonwealth.

Westminster Abbey

This is a must see even if you only have a passing interest in English history. The audio tour in the interior of the Church is excellent. The cloisters are beautiful. Even the tiles are great!

Tower Bridge

“A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river” said Frank Brangwyn soon after it was built. Really??!

I love the blue paint. It’s been painted in this colour scheme since the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, and was most recently repainted for the Olympics in 2012.

The Tower of London

Another must see.

The tour led by the Beef-eaters is fantastic. The Crown Jewels are magnificent. All of the buildings are fascinating and the level of detail provided in exhibits and signs is great. Well worth the entrance fee.

Our accommodation in Wapping

We stayed in another excellent Airbnb property in London. This was in a block of flats in Wapping, with several good local food shops, including a butcher, just around the corner, and very close to the Thames. There was a festival in Wapping Green on the weekend, which added a lovely vibe. And the local fish and chips were pretty good!

Our flat’s front door was a good blog photo shoot opportunity for BurdaStyle 03/2016 #113 shorts, as was platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross.

I’ve blogged about sewing these shorts, but this is the first time I’ve had a photo of a real life model in them. The scallop pocket detail is very cute.

Buckingham Palace, Green Park and the Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade

Pomp and ceremony, splendid palaces and lovely green parks. How delightfully English!

The National Gallery

Our love of art continued in London. So many glorious paintings.

We were not the only ones enjoying the gallery: we overhead the following at one of the school group sessions.

  • Guide: Have you been to other art galleries?
  • Students (in chorus): Yes.
  • Guide: What have you seen there?
  • Student: Paintings.

Felicity is wearing BurdaStyle 06/2013 #120 (the lobster dress) under Simplicity 2603.

Kensington Palace

This is lovely to visit just on its merits as a royal palace. There’s rooms to explore, exhibits about famous royal tenants, fabulous furniture to look at, clothes to try on, cards to play, beautiful gardens..

..and special exhibits like ‘Fashion Rules Restyled’: four decades of dresses from the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.

That orange caftan style dress of the Queen’s from the seventies is pretty fabulous.

Portobello Road Market

This is a fun place to visit and browse.

Among the alternative fashion, second hand goods and antiques…

..I found some fabulous lace and antique buttons and notions

Afternoon tea in Harrods Food Hall

What better place to have a cuppa?

I’m wearing my chambray jacket made from a Japanese sewing book over a RTW Liberty fabric shirt. The jacket’s roomy pockets and easy going style are perfect for being a tourist. Yes, that’s a Beefeater lapel pin. Newly purchased. All style, that’s me.

A stroll along the Thames: Cleopatra’s Needle, Millennium Footbridge and St Paul’s Cathedral

Shakespeare’s Globe

A clever reconstruction of the playhouse originally built in 1599. It even includes standing only “seats”, to give the authentic Elizabethan experience (2 to 3 hour performances too – so that requires stamina!). We ran out of time this trip, but attending a Shakespeare production at the Globe is now on my bucket list.

Lunch and Liberty

Our last day had more of my favourite things: a long leisurely lunch with Australian friends now living in London and a trip to Liberty. Perfection!

Alright, lets look at those fabrics a bit closer.

The blue and red small floral is a silk, the other two are lawn. Fabric has got to be one of the best souvenirs.


And speaking of that, this Saturday I fly to Philadelphia for another conference and some work meetings. I know. Ridiculous amount of flying this year.

It looks like my schedule will include a few hours free on one of the days. I’m thinking of getting to the Vlisco exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Or should I perhaps check out Philadelphia’s fabric shopping (not that I need any more fabric). Decisions, decisions. Any advice for me?


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Sew, a needle pulling thread

..and following on from talking about some of my favourite things and other quotes from Sound of Music..

I give you dresses made from curtains for attending the Sound of Music this week in Adelaide.

We thank IKEA for supplying the raw materials

and Nanette for organizing the tickets (and photobombing on the night)

The musical was fantastic.

We had a ball.

Thanks to the awesome ladies at the bar who instantly got why we were dressed like this. Our night would have been complete if we’d also managed to get a photo with the two guys in lederhosen…

Technical details


Burdastyle 02/2011 #101

Burdastyle 03/2015 #121 with the in seam pockets of #122


42 for mine, with no changes

38 for Felicity with an FBA and raised neckline. I’d made this dress for her previously in 2011, she still wears it (despite my prediction, this turned out to be a much loved dress) and it still just fits so I used the previously adjusted pattern.

Not a perfect fit, but well and truly fit for purpose

Fabric: Ikea cotton curtains. It’s a somewhat loose weave, so I used strips of interfacing to reinforce the neck lines of both, and the raglan sleeves on the bodice of my dress. I know. I probably will never wear it again, but I couldn’t help myself.

The hems and side seams of the curtain were repurposed as the hems and side slits on my dress, and the eyelets and rings made a nice feature on Felicity’s dress. Also, no hemming by me at all of both dresses. That’s got to be a win!

Yes, the side slits do come up quite high.

And how great is my daughter? How many eighteen year olds would be happy to wear matching mum and daughter floral frocks?

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Paris with Felicity

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my crazy cat coat. Now I need to tell you about Paris.

We had a superb airbnb apartment in Le Marais district.

The view from our studio window into the central courtyard was charming. The apartment itself had delightful exposed beams, not quite straight walls and low ceilings. Le Marais is a very interesting district: aristocratic, wealthy (yes that blue sports car was on our street!), bohemian, ancient, jewish, gay, and with great boutiques, bars and restaurants. We loved it.

We had 4 days in Paris, and we wanted to see a lot, so we packed a lot in.

Musée du Louvre

Magnificent, over whelming, and a must see.

Even waiting in line is not so bad.

We started in the Babylonian antiquities

And that’s Simplicity 2603 waterfall cardigan in black wool merino being worn in way not depicted on the envelope art (back to front).

We enjoyed the interior design section

And we braved the crowds for the famous exhibits

Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées

Yes of course we went there too!

After all that war history, and live army presence, we need some sustenance.


We managed to visit on a day the palace was closed.

Those golden gates were shut, which ever way we looked at it!

I know. Bad planning! We did have a train strike that constrained the days we could go. But still. I think I might be fired as tour guide.

What that meant was a lot more time in the gardens. Like the lucky people who work here.

And the gardens are fabulous. Win win I say.

Someone might want to go back one day and see whats inside.

Tour Eiffel

I love the Eiffel Tower. I know it is clichéd and crawling with tourists, but still, there is something fabulous and wonderful about it.

Palais Garnier

With bonus street style (well, perhaps more like bonus ‘going out to the opera’ style)

Musée D’Orsay

This really is the best art museum

It’s in a re-purposed train station with a view across the Seine, and has Van Gogh.

Oh you want more than van Gogh?

No problem

There quite a few other famous painters there too. Like Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas…

And interior design too.

Loved it!

Almost enough to leave a love lock further down the river

BurdaStyle 10/2012 #122 blouse made in fabric from Scotland being modeled in this photo

Sacré Coeur and Montmartre

No visit to Paris is complete without macarons for afternoon tea after visiting Basilique du Sacré Coeur, and a visit to Marché St Pierre, Montmartre for fabric shopping.

These lovely African wax prints followed me home.

Notre Dame

And lets finish this blog post with one of my favourite things.

As Felicity reminded me, Maria in the Sound of Music says ‘When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window’.

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Crazy Cat Lady Coat: BurdaStyle 12/2011 #114 and some more European travel

Isn’t it ridiculous? In a good way. Of course.

The zip is functional and accentuates the design’s lovey boule shape.

Flattering? No.

Fun? Yes!

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2011 #114

Size: 38-46, I made a 42.

Fabric: Cotton canvas upholstery weight fabric, from IKEA, lined with Sunsilky – a polyester lining with good breathability.

Changes I made: This one was made to Burda’s plan, apart from the petersham trim. I auditioned some black trim, but it wasn’t adding much. Those cats are enough!

Pattern matching like a boss. Those cat faces weren’t quite symmetrical, but I didn’t let that put me off!

I didn’t finish the coat in time to take it with me. But as it turned out, the weather was so marvelous I didn’t really need it.

So where did I go?

Nyon, Switzerland

I was at Macrowine 2016, a wine science conference held at Changins, Haute Ecole de Viticulture et Oenologie.

Most of the Changins team, with the Chair of the conference, Julien Ducruet (front left), Vicente Ferreira, Zaragoza, Chair of the next Macrowine in 2018 (front middle) and Maurizio Ugliano, Verona, Chair of Macrowine 2020 (front right).

Great people, excellent conference and a wonderful location for both the conference and associated social events and vineyard excursions

The Lavaux vineyards, overlooking Lake Geneva

Chateau de Nyon. Dates back to the 13th century but rebuilt in the 15th. A lovely location for welcome drinks.

An exhibit at the Olympic Games Museum, Lausanne, where the gala dinner was held

Who would have thought that I’d find something of sewing interest at the Olympic Games Museum in Lausanne?

This is the first Olympic flag sewn by seamstresses at Le Bon Marché in Paris. I know they would not have had the machines we have today, but the lack of precision cutting and sewing did surprise me.

Conference outfit of the day photo

Featuring a new skirt. It’s my TNT pencil skirt pattern with two small side slits rather than a walking vent at the back. Worn with a Paco Peralta cowl top and a RTW jacket.


After Macrowine, I visited colleagues at Groupe ESC Dijon-Bourgogne, School of
Wine and Spirits in Dijon, France. We had coffee and croissants at the University and then went on a vineyard tour. Vineyard tours are very important things to do for grape and wine scientists!

Biodynamic grapegrowing in Burgundy includes one horse- ( and one woman) power cultivation

My tour guides were Prof Roberta Crouch, seconded from the University of Adelaide, and Claude Chapuis, associate professor of French culture, viticulture and oenology, pictured here at Domain Maurice Chapuis. Claude is from a winegrowing family going back five generations. #LocalsAreTheBestTourGuides! We stopped to pick up the family dog so he could come for the walk around the Aloxe-Corton vineyards too.

As well as teaching, Claude also writes books about wine in German, French and English: like this one I came across whilst browsing in the bookshop later.

He is a wonderfully knowledgeable, interesting and totally lovely man.

Château de Clos de Vougeot (top left) Château de Corton André (centre), and other vineyards in Aloxe-Corton.

The Clos de Vougeot vineyards were established by Cistercian monks in the 12th century. Château de Corton André is a ‘youngster’ from the late 19th century. Claude had some very interesting stories about the owners of some of these beautiful chateaux. Gambling debts…parties…scandals..

At Domaine Maurice Chapuis.

Maurice, Claude’s brother, joined us later. The cellars were very atmospheric: mouldy dusty bottles and St Vincent, the patron suit of winegrowers and winemakers. The wines were magnificent. I’m in Burdastyle (cotton skirt is a modification of 12/2013 #109, silk blouse is 07/2011 #121).

Hospices de Beaune

This hospital for the poor was found in the 15th century by Philip the Good (great name!) and has been in use as a hospital up until the 1970’s. Claude was born there. Probably his parents, grandparents, great grand parents and great great grandparents were too. Amazing stuff.

Historical winemaking equipment, including a mobile press (bottom right)

This small exhibition was tucked away in a corner of Beaune and would be easy to miss. Not if you are with Claude.

Then … I met Felicity in Paris and we had delightful mother and daughter time in Paris and London. And bought some fabric and lace and buttons. But those stories will have to wait for another post..

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Brighton fabric shopping and other travelling stuff

I have the best job. I’m a wine scientist and I get to go to wine conferences all around the world. And usually in very nice places.

Like Brighton, England.

Brighton Pier, from the perspective of a merry-go-round horse

Who knew that English sparkling wine had become so good? Not all the consequences of climate change are bad!

The Pier at night, and the beach early one weekend morning

The conference itself was terrific, and a lot of thought went into the social events too.

We had a welcome reception at the Brighton Pavilion Museum, wine tasting at the Aquarium (suitably lit with rainbow colours, and fortunately the wine was not accompanied by sushi as initially planned… I kid you not), and a very British themed gala dinner in the Hilton Metropole’s ball room (wine options, a quiz show, a charity raffle then a Beatles tribute band).

Lots of fun.

Brighton itself is full of life, and full of lots of interesting shops. I showed remarkable restraint. That restraint was very much aided by me having a very small amount of free time and a very specific shopping list.

Dïtto Fabrics delivered!

What a great shop. Had the best conversation with a fellow sewist and Gill, the owner. Sewing peeps are the best!

I came home with two suitings (one wool, one linen, both reversible) and a boiled wool with an pastel overprinted pattern.


So what’s happening now I’m home? Apart from petting those new fabrics?!

It’s all about IKEA home decorating fabrics at the moment.

IKEA project #1

I’m making as summer weight coat from this upholstery fabric. And I’m very pleased with how the pattern matching is going. That’s a side seam and a horizontal pocket you’re looking at.

I’d love to get this done before I fly out again in a few days time to go to another wine conference . This time it’s Switzerland. I know, I know, it really is a terrible job I have.

IKEA project #2

This project is still at the flat pack stage.

Felicity and I have a Sound of Music performance to attend in August. We have to have dresses made out of curtain fabric. Have to.

Shall I go all dirndl-y or should I treat this more like a toile and try out some new patterns?


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The ‘Your time starts now’ skirt

As ridiculous as it is, I made a skirt to wear on the plane just 2 hours before I had to travel.

Yes it does match my suitcase colour

I know. It was just an elastic- waisted skirt with two seams, darts and a hem, but still. I feel all Great British Sewing Bee about it!

Sometimes the #SimpleThingsInLife are the best.

Let me show you a better picture of it

Keeping it real here with slippers and morning coffee.

You can see I made another version of BurdaStyle 023/2016 #103 , too. This one is in delightfully patterned cotton jersey that came to me via designerfabricsaustralia. Its super stretchy. I think it might ends up as marvelous pajamas.

Back to the skirt. It was fabulous for travelling. Easy to move in. Maybe a bit short? Fabulous bright colour. Didn’t crush or wrinkle much. Scuba, so 100% polyester. Lucky it wasn’t too hot…

What did I see and do whilst travelling? If you follow me on Instagram, you might have already seen some of this…

Beautiful Turkey through the plane window. Great weather started even before I arrived.

Scenes around St Pauls Catherdral- walking around on the day you arrive is jetlag remedy #1.

Berwick St London fabric window shopping – jetlag remedy #2

A day in the London office. What a building! With the early morning view around the Strand on the walk there. I was so lucky with weather.

After all that hard work (seriously, it was great to catch up with the London team), I was off to Brighton for a wine conference.

I know. My life is very hard.

More about Brighton (Ditto Fabrics!) in the next post.


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Very Hungry Caterpillar shirt and shorts: BurdaStyle 06/2013 #120 and 03/2016 #113

Alternative title: Late summer sewing I neglected to blog about earlier.

Alternative to the alternative title: three blog posts in as many days? what is going on?

Let’s go back to Felicity’s formal. That event needed an after party (AP) outfit.

White shorts and a cute shirt was my brief. Specifically, a cute shirt made from Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric.

(image source)

I was time poor, so a previously adjusted pattern was used: BurdaStyle 06/2013 #120

Back in October 2013, this pattern made a shirt-dress with lobsters and other food.

Cut shorter, and two and a half years later, this pattern made a fitted shirt with caterpillar and food. Hmm bit of a food thing going on here

A demure knee length skirt was not, of course, what she paired the shirt with at the AP!

The AP outfit was completed with white shorts and converse. I have no photos from the night. But trust me, it was cute.

I’ll tell you more about the shorts soon. Let’s stick with the caterpillar for a bit.

The shirt has a unique collar. Totally intentional of course (tongue firmly in cheek)

That’s what happens when you don’t have instructions with you, your traced pattern doesn’t include all markings, and you’re a bit of a shirt collar newbie.

Tab collars, I call them. Or gaping mouths. Totally on song for the fabric

Okay, confession over

For the shorts, I used a pattern from a recent BurdaStyle: 03/2016 #113

I might have even made these in the same month as I received the magazine. That happens only very occasionally.

This was my first fly front for more than twenty years. Burda’s instructions were not stellar. Heard that before?

The pocket trim is very cute.

The stretch cotton I used for the shorts has been in my stash for ages. It’s a ‘souvenir fabric’; from G Street Fabrics in Washington DC, a souvenir of an American Chemical Society annual meeting.


Now, talking about souvenir fabrics, I’m looking for some advice. London and Brighton advice.

I have work travel next week. It will include a tiny amount of free time: half an afternoon on the day I arrive in London (I call this walking around to get over jet-lag ) and perhaps half a Saturday afternoon after my conference ends in Brighton.

Should I sight-see or should I souvenir-fabric shop?

I’m kidding of course. My sightseeing will be fabric and sewing themed.

In London I’m thinking the high end fabric stores in Berwick Street, Soho. I think this might end up a bit more like a museum visit than a visit with intent to purchase. But I’ve not been to these shops before, and I have been to Goldhawk Road  and Liberty (and still have the fabric in the stash to show for it.. I need to sew more…). I would so love to visit the Man Outside Sainsburys, but my schedule doesn’t permit.

In Brighton I’m thinking Ditto Fabrics. I have also been commissioned to purchase chocolate from Choccywoccydoodah. Chocolate is close enough to fabric, right?

What do you think? Other things I should do or places I should go?

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The rest of the synthetic ensemble

Thank you for the lovely comments on the vest blog post.

The other parts of the ensemble are the fabulous Rachel Comey skirt Vogue 1247.

Rachel, we love that you drafted such cool pockets for this skirt.

It was lengthened 20 cm. I cut this version out as a 14, and Felicity finds it much less restrictive than the last version.

The fabric is a viscose ottoman from my local Spotlight. It was a delight to sew. So cheerful.

And the top is a modification of BurdaStyle 11/2015 #112

Felicity wasn’t keen on the dropped shoulders, and she was right; they would not have looked good with the vest. The decorative zipper wasn’t needed either. She also needed an FBA. On a French dart.

So instead of doing the right thing, I winged it , merging out to a 44 at the bust on the front bodice only and back into a 38 at the waist. A bit tricky with that dart, but it seemed to work. Using ponte was a big factor in it not being a failure!

I used another burdastyle top pattern from deep in the archives to redraft the shoulders: 02/2009 #108.

The top was a wearable muslin.

I really was intending to make a simple grey dress from this pattern.

So I did.

And it was lovely.

Lets look at the shoulders

See, not dropped anymore.

And that french dart

Looks like an excellent fit when she puts her shoulders back!

It’s not so bad with more normal posture either.

Not that I am recommending my pattern adjustment by winging it.

Ponte meant a zip wasn’t needed, either in the neck or the body of the dress.

It does look better with a slip underneath..

So, the dress turned out well, the fit was to Felicity’s satisfaction and using ponte made it secret pajamas

But it was a bit dull under the vest.

So the wearable muslin top had to be finished! And a skirt made!

Now she has two new winter ensembles.

Another out-take is necessary…and it also shows that the sleeves were drafted extra long..

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No natural fibers were harmed: Burdastyle long line vest 12/2015 #107

Vest in plastic. So fantastic.

This story started with a gift of some very cool fabric from Jann. It is some sort of perforated synthetic double mesh, with excellent body.

This fabric said “long line vest” or some other dramatic and impractical garment. Right from the very beginning.

I knew it would be perfect for BurdaStyle 12/2015 #107.

I chose not to line it. The see through effect is kinda cool.

There’s pleather on the ‘lapels’, another bonded leather type strip on the armholes, acetate for the pocket bags and polyester satin bias binding on the edges. See? No natural fibers anywhere!

That theme continued for the rest of the outfit, the top was made from a viscose nylon spandex ponte and the skirt from a viscose ottoman. Then… Felicity added her own natural beauty, and all that synthetic-ness was balanced out!

Err, maybe not.

Technical details

Pattern details: BurdaStyle 12/2015 #107

Size 38-42, I made a 40 with a 42 bust on the front only. No FBA. Seemed to have enough ease.

Sewing with pleather. And no walking foot. What to do?

The tissue paper trick worked a treat.

The nice clean edge of the pleather on top of the mesh and a edgestitch foot made it very easy.

Tear off the tissue

and viola!

For the armscye binding, I used a piece of strapping (I think? ). It was purchased in Fill2000 (65, rue Réamur, 2nd arrondissement, Paris) a few years ago with a belt in mind, but I used something else instead. So it was waiting for this project.

It’s a bit like bias binding, with the edges turned into the centre on the back of the strap, and glued down. I split it in two and then took advantage of the stickiness to hold it in place for the first round of stitching.

Then I turned the trim onto the front and stitched in place..

Never leave your phone with teenagers.

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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.

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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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