BurdaStyle 10/2012 #128 midi length fail.

Gorgeous isn’t it?

Let’s see how it translates.

Not so gorgeous.

To be fair, both the skirt and sleeve hems are unfinished, but it was dowdesville, costume-y, and there was no way I was going to wear it.

Shorter looked like it might be better.

35 cm later

35 times more wearable!

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 10/2012 #128

Size: 36-44. It probably ended up more like a 40 or 42 through the bodice. I traced off a 44 and ‘petite-d’ the bodice (removed 2 cm in length front and back above the bust).

After trying it on I took in the sides seams above the raised waist at least 1 cm each and the centre back seam by up to 2 cm each side at the top of the zip. My side seam alterations raised the armscye by 2 cm.

It is still a bit loose through the back.

I scooped out about 2 cm from the bodice to skirt seam between the bust tucks, back to nothing at the tucks themselves. It’s still a bit poofy. I don’t fill out the bust area enough.

Fabric: A mystery jacquard from Winmill Fabrics in Boston. It takes a press beautifully but doesn’t crease too badly. Perhaps there some rayon in it? I should do a burn test!

Whatever the composition, its light drapey-ness, makes for a fun swirly cocktail frock!

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


Help! I need panel print ideas

What to sew? Jungle January is on and I should be zig-zagging with a zebra.

Or making a toile so that I can turn that glorious designer laminated tweed into a coat.

But this digital border print is messing with my mind. It really needs to be sewn!

This lovely fabric is from EmmaOneSock. Linda describes it as a “new technology polyester woven that mimics the qualities of silk, and this one is very much like a silk charmeuse. It’s a drapey dress weight, elegant, opaque, and a beautiful quality alternative to silk! The print is a beautiful tree grove scene with sunset colors: periwinkle blue, grassy green, indigo, french roast, rosy pink, etc. with a silvery pale gray background”. Each panel is 73 cm (.8 yards) long. The panels are printed across the fabric which is 150 cm (60 inches) wide. I have 2 panels. So plenty for a summer dress.


I could go with a very simple trapeze dress like this :

BurdaStyle 04/2013 #109.

Tessuti have done something similar with one of their delightful panel prints



Or this more glamorous Matthew Williamson designer pattern


Burdastyle 09/2012 #134








I like this dress too but I may not have enough fabric, so it might end up sleeveless. And I do love those sleeves.





BurdaStyle 03/2014 #120





This baby doll dress is very cute, but perhaps works because of its rich black yoke and delicate lace.

BurdaStyle 10/2014 #124





So, I’m leaning towards the Matthew Williamson dress.


What do you think? What other patterns would work for this fabric?

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.


Dude food and Jungle January tussles

He who Cooks doesn’t seem to have trouble with his ingredients having strong opinions.

Not enough minced meat for burgers? Some of those spicy sausages in the fridge will lose their skins for the cause.

My fabrics, however, can’t seem to behave.

This Silk Chiffon is horrified that a Cotton Twill from Ikea might even dare to think she can join Ann’s Jungle January.

“You’re not even a real zebra print” huffs Silk Chiffon. “And you’re not garment fabric, just cotton twill for curtains. How could you think you can possibly leap to the front of the queue?”

“And your pedigree is even worse” says Silk Chiffon in disdain. “You’re from Ikea, not a fashion designer like me”

Cotton Twill is starting to believe elegant Silk Chiffon.

Perhaps She who Cooks won’t let her to join the herd.

“I would be so good as a skirt” she whispers. “Think of all the stuff you already have that would coordinate with me. I know I’m not a real zebra print but…” Her voice starts to trail off as she hears Silk Chiffon starting to snort derisively.

The after effects of the fabric sale


  • Graphic blue and grey print silk cotton blend
  • Blue border print silk cotton blend
  • Blue and white stripe silk chiffon ( to coordinate with the border print, perhaps..)
  • Teal blue stretch cotton woven


  • Cream and taupe stripe stretch linen woven
  • White Italian linen
  • Crinkle poly cotton blend
  • Plain white cotton polyester blend with 20% spandex (very stretchy, this is going to be gorgeous to wear)
  • Cotton silk blend budgie print (too cute!)

Reds (and lining)

  • Plain red midweight silk woven
  • Plain red linen cotton metallic blend (the sheen on this is gorgeous due to the metallic thread content, but metal makes the fabric scratchy, so the red silk is for linings and facings)
  • Coral stretch cotton woven
  • Grey and brown striped acetate lining. I like having a selection of good quality linings on hand.

My fabric stash thanks Gay Naffine and Lucy Giles, and so do I 🙂


Attention Adelaide sewers

This post may cause fabric stash expansion.

Gay Naffine’s fabric sale starts tomorrow.

Gay only sells her fabrics twice a year, and much of the fabric is from her and Lucy Giles current seasons collection.

I highly recommend these sales. You will get access to beautiful designer fabrics at excellent prices. I’m not associated with her or her business in any way, just very happy to have access to the fabrics. In fact, I shouldn’t really be publicizing her sales, because then there would be more for me…

Below are some of the garments I’ve made this year from her fabrics.

The sale is held at her workroom on 29 Hamley St, Adelaide (the southwest corner of the CBD).

  • Friday 22 November 9 – 5
  • Saturday 23 November 9 – 4
  • Sunday 24 November 11 – 3

Happy shopping!

Stripes, asymmetric gathers and a cowl

This was a fabric and pattern plan that could have ended badly.

How weird would the stripes look as they bent around my upper body?

Are gathers at the waist just a flag that says “there’s a pot belly trying to hide here”?

Would my stretch cotton be too robust for the cowl?

Hmm. Looks okay on the hanger. Perhaps I don’t need to be worried.

Of course lots of clever and stylish sewists in blog land had made a great version of this dress (kbenco, Alison.C, Kristy, The Slapdash Sewist, Dawn, LazyLinchen, Sigrid, to name a few). But they were not me, nor do I have their figures. I am a brick and they all have waists.

I don’t know what gathers look like over my abdomen. Unchartered territory!

Aren’t I brave?!

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 10-2012-118

Size: 34-42, I made a 42 with a 15 mm swayback adjustment, in other words, the normal for me. This pattern is close fitting (or perhaps it is just the end of winter?!).

I didn’t add more ease because I guessed the fabric might give a little once I wore it.

I can report that it did- I wore it to work today. It’s a very comfortable dress to wear.

Fabric: A medium weight navy and oyster striped stretch cotton

Changes I made:

Burda has the front cut with the skirt part on the bias. I wanted to use my thicker stripes on the hem, so I cut it on-grain. So did lots of the sewing bloggers who went before me with this pattern. Not being bias cut might have added to the close fitting-ness

I shortened the sleeves. I didn’t have enough fabric so there was a bit of piecing to get the thicker stripes on the bottoms of both the sleeves, but it’s on the back near the seam. Not so noticeable, certainly not to me!

Because the fabric is a stretch woven, and because there is no walking slit in the skirt, I used a double needle for the hem.

This is an easy project (no lining! yeah!) and I’m pleased with the results.

I think there is a flag on those waist gathers about my belly, but I really don’t mind.

Travelling stuff

This is a long meandering post about what I packed and wore whilst travelling for work to Europe in July, what sewing stuff I bought and some of the places I visited.

Long and meandering.

And somewhat self indulgent.

You have been warned.


What clothes work well when you’re travelling?

I’ve often wondered if a dedicated work travel wardrobe was the way to go. You know, one made specifically for travelling: easy care fabrics, all coordinated and layerable. And I don’t mean all black knits… Although that would work…

I’ve never had the time to construct such an ideal wardrobe before a trip, so I end up taking my regular clothes. That’s what happened this time too.

You’ve seen all these before, but only in the photo-shoot straight after making them. Perhaps it’s interesting to hear how they are holding up after several wears and washes, and after being squished in a suitcase?

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my clothes in action. My photographer stayed in Adelaide. My only camera was my iPhone 4.

I had two gala dinners to attend in Europe ( yes that’s right, and a third one is Sydney. That should do me for at least 6 years). This dress was an absolute star.

A pair of strapy silver sandals, a dash of mascara and some lip gloss (limited time scheduled between conference stuff and both of the gala dinners…) and I was ready to roll. There were compliments for this dress. From the drop dead gorgeous young Italian PhD students, the sartorially splendid Brazilian researchers and through to the almost retired French professors. Of both genders. I’m close to 50, so compliments are a wonderful and welcome surprise…

Creases in the dress fell out almost as soon as it came out of the suitcase. I was very impressed.

It swished gorgeously around my legs and was light enough for the 35°C plus evening in Portugal. And, with this jacket, worked well for the gala dinner in Mumm Champagne cellars in Reims.

Vintage graffiti for vintage champagne. This was in Taittinger’s cellars. Both Mumm and Taittinger (and probably other Champagne Houses) have cellars that started out as Roman chalk mines.

Another me-made that was excellent for travelling was this shirt and skirt.

White doesn’t seem an obvious choice for traveling but it seemed to repel dirt, washed up well (would’ve been improved with an iron) and coordinated with nearly everything else I took. Its wearability was the key though- great stretch and recovery and excellent breathability even on days over 40°C. Yes it was that hot in Portugal and we still went out in the afternoon to look at vineyards as part of the conference I was at. (Viticulturists are crazy!)

The Duoro Valley, Portugal. 43°C. No irrigation. And yet those vines look like as fresh as a daisy.

The shirt was excellent too. I thought it was cotton but the way it washed and dried quickly and without wrinkles makes me think it might be a poly cotton. It looked good with this skirt but also under a jacket, with a big blue pashmina and with jeans. So glad I converted this from the frumpy shirtdress it started out life as.

This red polka dot dress was thrown in the suitcase at the last minute, and it was also excellent on those over 40°C days in Portuguese vineyards as well as on a warm day in Paris and when travelling, with a pashmina for warmth.

All those built in wrinkles in the fabric were perfect for travelling and the loose fit made it an excellent hot weather piece.

One of Moet et Chandon’s vineyards in Epernay. Those vines still look fresh, and they were, but it was much cooler than in Portugal.

All the pieces below went with me too. The skirt is a polyester cotton blend and travelled well; creases are not obvious. I also took the matching peplum top and whilst it travels well and I wore it, it’s not the most versatile piece because it does not work well with layering.

The RTW silk blouse is loose fitting and was lovely to wear. It travelled well too and coordinates with the three skirts I took. The RTW jacket is a seersucker cotton and partly lined in cotton. It travelled very well too and was worn several times in Champagne (no need for a jacket in Portugal!)

Beautiful tiles in Porto, Portugal

This blouse went too.

It didn’t travel well. It was rolled and packed like everything else but picked up creases and didn’t want to let them go. This one needed an iron.

Epernay, France

Both these pieces went too and survived packing excellently. The skirt was good for any day under 30°C and the silk top works under jacket or on its own with this or the white skirt, and even makes a pair of jeans appropriate for a nice dinner. As it turned out I didn’t wear the top, but it was nice knowing that I could!

Now lets talk about Paris and shopping.

One of the many lovely shops in the Marias district (you can see my polka dot dress in the reflection of the top shelf)

Shopping in Paris, sewist style

I had a half day in Paris on the way to the conference in Champagne and a full Saturday in between the two conferences I attended. Of course I focused on fabric, trim and yarn. There were a few touristy detours but they were not the main act!

Notre Dame, rear view

Susan Khalie had an article on couture sewing shops in Paris in the June/July issue of Threads Magazines (the one I won, thanks Marina!). So I visited several. They were spread all across Paris. The Métro is a wonderful thing.

Parisian breakfast

I didn’t buy anything from the shops in Susan’s list except a double headed wax pencil from Fill2000 (65, rue Réamur, 2nd arrondissement) but I was very impressed by the range of trims in La Droguerie (9, rue du Jour, 1st arrondissement) and Entrée des Fournissuers (8, rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 3rd arrondissement). Lafayette Saltiel (11, rue d’Uzès , 2nd arrondissement) has an amazing selection of suiting and everything else you need for tailoring and Janssens & Janssens (3-5, rue d’Anjou, 8th arrondissement) was full on gorgeous designer fabrics. As much as I loved several of them, I couldn’t part with 100-400 euros per metre. Not with my current lifestyle!

Sacre Couer

I did manage to part with my euros in the fabric and haberdashery shops in Montmartre.

The pink Chanel style poly wool etc blend boucle is from Au Sacre Couer des Dames (1-3, rue Livingstone). This was a steal. It was priced at 35 euros per metre but there was only 1.7 m left on the roll so I got the lot for 20 euros!

The light grey blue poly cotton was from Marché St Pierre (2, rue Charles Nodier). It doesn’t look so remarkable here but it has a gorgeous sheen to it.

The teal polester with attached leaves was also from Marché St Pierre. The two Liberty lawns are from Tissus Reine (3-5, Place St Pierre).

Yes perhaps I could have bought the Liberty in Australia, but it was much more fun to get it in Paris and brave the different method of purchasing fabrics: find an assistant to cut the fabric for you where the fabric is displayed, then pay for it with a slip of paper describing the fabric at a second spot in the shop and then pick the fabric up from a third spot in the shop. All in French, of course.

In the gardens of the Musee de Montmartre (12, rue Cortot). It’s a small museum in a house where Renoir and others lived. You really get a sense of the bohemian artist lifestyle through the paintings and other exhibits. And it’s a nice place to go after you’ve bought fabric in the district.

Some trims and yarn came home with me too. All from Mercerie St Pierre (6, rue Charles Nodier)

Excellent souvenirs, don’t you agree?

Ahh, Paris. It’s not just a destination, it’s an experience.

Overcoat pressure

Thanks for all your great suggestions on cardigan patterns. I wish I could just get straight on to making one of them. But I have a coat to make.

By next Sunday.

Why such a ridiculous time frame? Because on Sunday night I get on a plane to go away for work for 3 weeks, and I can’t take my sewing machine with me!

This would be a good week for Hermione’s time turner.

I’m using this pattern (BurdaStyle 12-2012-117) and fabric:

It’s to wear with this newly finished dress (BurdaStyle 08-2009-124) at a gala dinner in Sydney. The gala dinner includes a harbor cruise, in the middle of winter. I’ll be very cold without that overcoat!

I’ll post more about the dress later but right now I have a coat to make… and a deadline to meet…


Hot pink ponte skirt

I’ve found a new-to-me fabric shop in Adelaide: Catwalk Fabrics. Other sewists have mentioned it but I have never managed to actually visit. Until now.

Lisbeth Moritz is the proprietor and it’s a tiny space in the ‘Paris end’ of Coglin St, Brompton. Lisbeth has an eclectic collection of designer fabrics; like a pared back Tessutis.

I didn’t visit with any particular project in mind. I left with a gorgeous hot pink ponte. It had to come home with me: it was the perfect partner for a blouse I’d made earlier

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 08-2011-122

Size: 36-42, I made a 42 with a 1 cm sway back adjustment and a bit of further adjustment over the hips for fit. Pencil skirts are so easy to fit!

Changes I made: I changed the length to just above the knee and omitted the pockets. I extended the waist to have a fold back self facing. Rather than interface the waistband and facing I added 3 cm wide elastic. It’s a fitted waist, not elasticized. The elastic adds body and a bit of stretch for comfort. Its edge is showing through, but I am telling myself it gives a line that doesn’t look out of place on a waist

Sewing with Ponte

My most favourite go to casual skirt for winter is a charcoal ponte I made over ten years ago (yes, it really does need replacing but it’s still wearable). Apart from this one skirt, I haven’t used ponte much at all. Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic makes some wonderful garments from ponte (well, actually, almost any fabric she puts her hand to). She recently posted about ponte and how she uses and treats it.

I followed her advice and treated my ponte like a woven. The only exception was a double needle for the hem. It did look better just turned up before I stitched it, but I am not skilled enough with hand stitching to contemplate a stretchy blind hem by hand.

I stabilized the fabric where the invisible zip went in with iron in woven interfacing. It’s not perfectly smooth, but it will do for me for now!

Who doesn’t want to wear spring colours in Autumn?

(thick tights are wonderful things..)

Floral pussy cat bow

I like this top pattern. I couldn’t stop at one (and after all your lovely comments on my last post, I don’t think I can stop at one with that pattern either!)

And I’m a sucker for bows

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 10-2010-118B

Fabric: Silk chiffon from Gay Naffine. I prewashed it (cold, wool wash detergent and wool setting on my front loader) so that I could machine wash the top rather than have to take it to the dry cleaners. I’ve been doing this with all my silks and silk/cotton blends. So far so good!

Changes I made:

I cut the tie out on the lengthwise grain rather than widthwise as instructed by Burda. I really did not have enough fabric for this pattern. I have no scraps left worth keeping. Not having enough fabric makes print placement easy- there was no choice!

I added 9 cm width to the sleeves for this version, gathering the extra in at the sleeve cap and into an arm band. Rhonda’s Sleeves on Saturday series has emboldened me to slash and spread pattern pieces.

This version got French seams too, apart from the armscye being finished with a fine zigzag.

As with my stripy version, the neck slit was less low than Burda suggested and faced with a bias strip of light grey silk cotton (left over from the ombre top in this post). I used this same fabric to interface the sleeve bands.

I sewed the tie onto the back neck around to the front where the gathering starts. This is better than last time- the stripy version version has the tie attached only to the shoulders seams, as Burda instructs. The neck is finished with a bias strip turned inside, with the tie enclosed and one end of the strip extending into a loop for the neck button. All of this is hidden by that crazy bow!

The mustard and yellow in this print are a bit of an experiment for me. Either there is enough grey, blue and green (‘my’ colours) in the print or yellow isn’t as bad on me as I thought it was.


Red and white polka dots

This was supposed to be the dress I wore on Christmas Day.

It got thrown in the corner, in great disappointment and unfinished, just before Christmas Day. I’m remedied the problems now. Jane from Jane’s Sew and Tell inspired me to get back to it after I saw her great Ikea fabric version.

(Hey, see that shiny red car in the background that matches my dress? Its mine.. all mine!)

Technical details

Pattern Burdastyle: 09-2012-108 The September cover dress in lace

Size: 36-44, I made a 42, with some modifications.


A crinkle polyester cotton from Lucy Giles in November, underlined with cotton batiste.

Changes I made:

When made up without alterations, apart from my standard swayback, this was unflatteringly shapeless through the waist with a gaping neck. This is when I gave up and went on with Christmas preparations that involved no sewing.

Inspired again once Christmas dinner was a distant memory, I took the side seams in around the waist, elongated the French darts and removed another 4 cm out of the back neck by curving the centre back seam in. This caused some issues at the top of the zip, because I’d already added a trim to the neck and sewn the zip in as an exposed zip.

I’ve chosen to hide these issues with a red button (and my hair in non sewing blog real life poses).

I also added the red and white trim to the sleeve edgess.

Aren’t those French darts lovely? They  attracted me to this pattern in the first place!

This has now turned into a very comfortable shift dress, perfect for long lunches and overly calorific cakes. See the previous post.

And who doesn’t love a polka dot?