Round up – 2016!


It’s that time of year again.  It’s my sewing oscars.  A time to mull over my makes from 2016 and reflect on my sewing resolutions.  I started this little idea last year and I quite enjoyed the process so here we are again.

The resolutions I set for myself are quite interesting and I am pleased to say I have moved a little closer to achieving them.  I have set them out here.

Resolution 1: What I would like is to be a more conscious shopper. Seriously considering what I am buying, do I need it and what are the ethical implications of the item. I plan on buying second hand or vintage and wearing homemade as much as possible.

I can say that, yes, I am achieving this.  I think the only items of clothing I have bought this year are underwear, a pair of jeans and the odd vintage piece.  I am sure that these items could easily be made, but I am just not that keen on making jeans or underwear.  Convert me! Happy to hear your experiences.

Resolution 2: I would like to try my hand at menswear. I am the only woman in our house, I don’t even have a girl pet! I think I should perhaps embrace this concept once in a while, maybe I will start with something for the hubbie. I bought the Colette Negroni shirt pattern today, maybe this is a good place to start.   I would also like to make some more interesting pieces, something that my pre-teen boys would happily wear.

Mmm… not quite made the leap into menswear.  I now have 2 shirt patterns that I am interested in making for my husband but so far, nothing.  Although I should say I have made a t-shirt for my 11 year old and numerous tees and shorts for the little one.  Not that interesting but at least I made them something.

Resolution 3: I want to slow down! I get so excited about fabric and patterns that I sew at break-neck speed. Time for reflection I think.

Yes, this has definitely happened.  Mainly due to time restrains more than a conscious decision though.  I have made far fewer pieces this year than last.

Resolution 4: Last but not least, I want to reduce the fabric stash! No new fabric. Yes I know, that’s on every sewers list but I would really like to try… (Well, I will, once I have spent my Christmas Tessuti voucher!)

Yeah, right…


So here they are, nothing controversial I hope!


I think to be considered ‘Make of the Year’ it should be something that I am proud of and also a very wearable piece.  If that’s the criteria then my self drafted denim kimono wins hands down. I lived in this throughout autumn, winter and into spring.  It goes with everything!  I also love the punk-ish tartan lining and the gigantic comedy sleeves .  It’s just my most versatile make to date.




Way too easy, it’s the Acton.  No doubt in my mind.  I wear this dress to every occasion.  It’s been back to the UK for a wedding, it has been to every dinner date, birthday party and even the occasional art exhibition.  It could easily have been my ‘refashion of the year’, ‘fabric of the year’ or ‘make of the year’ but then that would be a bit singular.  I have big love for this dress (and the pattern designer as you know!)



GIFT OF THE YEAR (aka. unselfish sewing)

It’s a tough one this year because I have actually been quite selfish.  I have made a few little Christmas gifts this year which I am rather in love with (lets hope the recipients are too!)

But I think this one is my favourite, Margie’s kimono.  I totally loved making this for Margie and just look how well she wears it!




Of course my Acton dress was a big contender for this, making a dress and a jacket (yet to be blogged) out of a kimono was really a huge challenge.  But, just to mix it up a bit I have chosen my “The Refashioners 2016” entry.  It’s a great refashion out of some scraps and a pair of jeans making an all time favourite sweatshirt.



Always a tough one, here are the runners up which include my own hand painted fabric (top right), some gifted fishy-ness, an old tablecloth (bottom right) and some rockin’ rayon (bottom left).

I finally settled on this rather wonderful piece from Faberwood. The quality of the knit is outstanding, it was a pleasure to sew.  But it’s the pattern that stands out.  It’s such a beautiful bold himmeli pattern and large in scale.  (A bugger to shoot though!)



Rolling ‘charity shop score’ and ‘vintage score’ into one category this year, mainly due to lack of shopping (see: resolutions!)  I found this marvellous 90’s shirt in a cool vintage store in Sheffield in the summer.  It holds happy memories as I was shopping with one of my oldest and most treasured friends at the time, the sun was shining and it was hot.  I know, hot in Sheffield!

It feels a bit odd buying clothing that I had probably given away myself, but still, its fantastic and the colours really blow my mind.




Mmmm…. tough one. I have really enjoyed a number of patterns this year, the contenders are;

The Acton Dress for its magic and interesting construction.

The Frankie Dress for it’s sheer ease and wearability.

The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses for it’s endless hack-ability, I have used this for a few makes this year.

But for me, the winner is a much simpler make and of course it’s a knit.  It’s the Sweater Dress from In the Folds/Peppermint Magazine.  I know it’s an easy one, but I have made it a few times and I love it for it’s simplicity, clear instructions, price-tag (it’s free) AND of course the pockets!!




No doubt in my mind about this one.  It has to be this horror.  I look like I should be shovelling chips at the school canteen circa. 1985.  The photoshoot was also bad so I even get this ‘vaseline smeared lens’ look just to top it off. The top is too big, one size fits all is nonsense and not particularly flattering.  I am also not sure the colour is me, which is sad because the fabric is so soft and lovely.


It is currently in pieces, mid refashion.  It may prove fruitless but I think it deserves my time.

That’s it for this years sewing oscars. Do you agree with my choices? I am pleased with my makes this year but I think there is plenty of room for improvement.

My resolutions this year are unchanged.  I think they are relevant and I want to work hard to maintain them in 2017.  Who’s with me?

There’s no ‘walk of shame’ with a Boomerang Bag!

A few weeks ago I met a lovely lady called Jude Furniss.  She is someone who I have wanted to meet for a while.  She is a local, she is president of the Surfriders Foundation (Manly branch) and she is also the community leader of Boomerang Bags here in Manly.  She is passionate about protecting Australia’s waves and beaches through conservation and activism and her enthusiasm is infectious.

Did you know an estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in our waterways and marine environment in Australia every year? Plastic pollution is killing our marine life. 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabird species have now ingested plastic debris. (source: Greenpeace)

After our meeting, it became apparent to me that Boomerang Bags was something that I could help with. Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in making shopping bags. They use recycled and second hand materials donated by individuals and businesses. So far they have made over 48,000 bags nationally.

Locally, a campaign called Plastic Free Manly is aiming to to make our community plastic bag free by sighting Boomerang Bags as one of it’s possible solutions.  That’s my kinda gig! I can’t begin to tell you how many times I pop into the shops only to forget my shopping bags and then resort to a plastic bag.  I scurry out of the shop carrying it (the walk of shame), pledging to do better next time!

The initiative is trying to persuade local businesses to have a box of Boomerang Bags available for ‘the forgetful’ which can then be dropped back when next shopping.  There are already a few businesses on board, notably The Butcher & The Chef inside Harris Farm Food.  They have been huge supporters of Boomerang Bags.  Within the next 2 weeks, the aim is to sign up at least 20 more local businesses.

I bumped into Jude in the playground last week where she was asking the parents if they could make the shopping bags from the kits she had prepared.  I grabbed a bundle off her.  I was given a pre-cut front, back, handle & pocket along with the instruction sheet.  I spent a rainy day sewing seven of these beauties, here is the result.

Looking like a dork and wearing my fish dress just for this occasion!

Boomerang Bags Manly are launching at the Ocean Care Day Festival on the Beachfront on Sunday 4th December.  If you are local, pop along and meet Jude (she’s awesome). There are some great activities happening too; a Seaside scavenge, live music, roving artists, eco talks, a “touchable” Ocean Lab and lots of great eco exhibitions and stalls celebrating our oceans.


I would love to get as many Manly locals involved in making as I can. If anyone has use of a large space that they are willing to share for a day, I would love to hear from you.  I would really like to get a large group together, sewing in a group is so much more fun!

Boomerang Bag Manly at 63 Alexander St (Cnr Balgowlah Rd) is open on Monday’s from 9.30-2.30pm, so drop in if you have a spare hour or two, there is always space to sew.


The Acton Dress: part 2 – a refashion

In July I decided it was time to address my fit issues with the Acton dress.  My decision was spurred on by the wedding of my lovely friend Katie, back in Sheffield.  A solo trip to the UK too, whoop whoop!  Hanging with the girls, lots of laughter, a few tears, commiserating about middle age and discovering we can’t handle the booze like we used to.

Here’s the bride on the no.52 bus on the way down to the registry office!  Gotta love that!

So onto my dress.

I made up another bodice toile, this time using some calico.  I had initially made up a size A  (see previous post) but I went back to the size B and reduced from there.  The issue was the depth from the neckline to the boob so I altered the pieces, see below.


The fit was good, I didn’t feel that I was shoehorning myself into it. A thrilling moment as I really didn’t want to mess up this Acton.  I had chosen something very special to work with, nothing straightforward, this was a refashion!

I bought this gorgeous kimono in Byron Bay on our 10 year wedding anniversary. I had been wanting to refashion it from the moment I saw it.  I know you will think. Why?  Why cut up something so beautiful?

Yes, I did momentarily grapple with it myself, but it was a cheap cotton kimono, so nothing valuable or vintage but the fabric was TDF (that’s ‘to die for’, Mum)!  I think I was drawn to the ‘pins and needles’ pattern subconsciously.  I didn’t notice the pattern until it was pointed out to me some months later. The main point is I wouldn’t wear it as it is, I wanted something I could wear that was more special than a simple dressing gown that I would spill my cereal down.

The Acton and my kimono were a match made in sewing heaven.  I was pleased I had made this dress before I attempted this refashion, as cutting into the kimono was the scariest thing I have ever done.

I had decided that I would use a plain black fabric for the front of the dress as this part is hidden by the wrap.  This meant I only needed to cut the back skirt and front & back bodice pieces from the kimono fabric.  PLUS, I wanted to save the top of the kimono to make into a bolero jacket.*  Not asking much eh?

*I will write about this in my next blog post

The placement and cutting went well.  I was careful to adhere to grain, using the back seam as a guide.   The kimono is the thing of hand stitched beauty.  I decided not to unpick every seam (which would have given me more fabric) but to leave the existing seams intact and use them as a design feature.


I made one small error when cutting the bodice. I really didn’t want a red dot on my nipple, which is exactly what I got!  I had enough fabric to recut this one panel.

‘red dot’ nipple disaster averted!

So here it is (I gatecrashed the In the Folds photoshoot to get these shots, thanks Emily, Sam & Felicity!)


There was no pattern matching, the randomness of the pattern is a highlight for me.  As you can see the re-cut bodice piece works so much better.


The fit is also so much better.  I was glad I went back to the size B and worked from there.  Reducing the bodice really did work well and now I have a wrap that actually meets in the middle!


No back splurge this time!



The skirt is by far the best part as the kimono seams are visible and quite lovely. Here you can see the skirt in more detail and you can catch a glimpse of those kimono seams.  I think it looks great, it gives the dress a real story.


A more relaxed low waist tie option here. You can also see the plain black fabric I bought for the front of the dress. The black was a perfect match (as you know its not always easy to match black). I also used it to line the bodice. I bought this piece from Tessuti Fabric.


I think this is the best invisible zip I have ever inserted.  I left the dress open here, I like the way it hangs from the back.

I have worn this dress loads already.  Pretty much every time I go out I wear it.  It was such a great dress for the wedding but I have also worn it to dinner many times.  It’s cotton so I never feel overdressed.  My party trick is opening the wrap to show the square shape to anyone who complements my dress (which happens often).  It never gets old (well not for me anyway!)

I hope you like it x

NB: I was given a pre-release copy of the pattern for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All links to the Acton dress are affiliate links. 

A fishy tale

About a year ago I was gifted some amazing fabric from sewing pal Anna, better known as Blogless Anna.  She parcelled me up 2 metres of this glorious fishy fabric and sent it interstate.


It’s nothing if not very generous, especially as we had never met at this point.  Are sewing pals really this lovely?  Well, as the years have gone by and I have met more and more of the sewing crew, the answer is YES!  I feel lucky to be part of such a community.

Anna’s makes are a thing of beauty, A Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee and a Pattern Fantastique Aeolian Tee.  I would have happily sewn up the Aeolian, it’s a raglan sleeve and the right shape for me but then Tessuti hit us with the Frankie dress in August and I was sold!

I loved the Frankie at first sight.  It is the perfect seasonal dress for the Sydney climate.  It has an option for a top, short or long length dress.  It has 4 sleeve lengths too.  It also starts in a small size and it is made for people who like to hide that tum!  It has volume in the right place without making you look pregnant.  That’s a very special thing.

I loved this dress made but the Tessuti girls, this candy striped, short dress with the elbow length sleeves is rockin’.

Image from Tessuti Fabric website

I am a toile convert, I don’t make anything unless it’s been toiled first. I found some revolting yellow knit in my stash (even the bravest of brave wouldn’t be seen dead in it) and toiled away.  I graded an extra small for the top to a small around the waist and hips.  I probably should have just cut a straight small, if truth be told, as I think that would have been perfect.

It’s a very quick and easy sew. The fishy fabric is a very good quality stretch, it has some weight.  I was rather worried about how the back facing would sit as you have to stitch it in place after inserting jelly tape and under stitching.  I was worried I was overworking the fabric and it would stretch but no, it sits really well and I am happy with the final result.

I did the majority of it on the overlocker and even managed a neat and rather successful double row of hem stitching using my twin needle.  My machine is rather hit and miss when sewing these usually.

I think this would be a great pattern for a sewer who hasn’t much experience in stretch.  It’s a good starting point.  It also includes a couple of interesting techniques that could be used in future makes.

I know I will be living in this come summer.  It’s a perfect beach cover up as well as a great everyday dress.  I see many more of these in my life.  I am already cutting my next version as we speak.

So here it is and as my Mum would say, “we’ll see you coming in that!”





It was ‘crackin’ the flags’ today, so couldn’t resist an outing to the beach with the kids

Not a bad day to turn 43!






THIS WEEKEND – Make do & mend workshop!

It’s finally here, after the Sydney storms put a stop to our last event, we have rescheduled for this weekend.  I am super excited.  There has already been a lot of interest and the Manly Daily did us proud this morning by writing a lovely little story about this event (they even used my ugly mug!)

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If you fancy doing some mending and fixing, come along, details below;

Make Do & Mend NBC 24 July



Make do & mend workshop – new date!

Make Do & Mend NBC 24 July

We were washed out by the worst storm in years last time so we had to pull the pin.  I stayed home and worked on my pile of mending while the storm raged on. So, the day wasn’t completely wasted.

fixing Monty’s pjs
I was even visited by a couple of friends with their mending who enjoyed some baked items (thanks hubby!) and vats of tea.

Luckily, we have managed to reschedule the MAKE DO & MEND workshop with this original team intact!  So if you fancy a bit of making do and mending, book a spot and join us!


Join the Fashion Revolution


On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This is when Fashion Revolution was born.  They believe that 1,134 is too many people to lose in one factory and not stand up and demand change.

The factory collapse led to people all over the world asking questions about their clothes. Who made them? Where? With what pay and conditions? With what environmental consequences? What kinds of lives do garment workers live?  Do things have to be like this? Does all of the fashion industry source its clothes from places like the Rana Plaza? What can we do as consumers and as citizens if we don’t like what we find?

I encourage you to read all about it on the Fashion Revolution website.  There is a quick link on my tab bar, just look left!  Or you can click through this link here.

I was introduced to Fashion Revolution by Emily from In The Folds.  She is passionate about the ethical and sustainable impacts of the fashion industry. She has written a wonderful blog post all about it which I encourage you to read.  Check it out.

If you are an Instagram junkie like me, you will see there is an Instagram photo challenge running next week through @Inthefolds, I will be helping a little too. Please join in, it should be lots of fun.  There are also prizes to be won at the end of the week.  There is no agenda’s here, it’s all about raising awareness for Fashion Revolution.

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For Sydneysiders, I noticed that there is a showing of the documentary “The True Cost” by The Forest Justice Project.  I have never seen this documentary so I thought I might pop along as all proceeds go to victims of the collapse.  Anyone want to join me?





The Rushcutter hack

I have been hacking again. Not in the clever, nerdy or illegal way, just in a small way with some fabric and an awesome pattern.

I have been wanting to make the Rushcutter dress pattern into a top for a while, ever since I made my first Rushcutter dress.

My first Rushcutter made from pre-loved fabric

It lends itself well to a top, it’s quite voluminous so perfect for hiding those wobbly bits (my stomach not my boobs!).


I had a lovely lightweight denim from Joys Fabric Warehouse. I bought it with my Frocktails Raffle ticket win (hooray)! It’s a great fabric with a lovely drape. I knew it was going to be good when I washed it and no white lines appeared, you know how it sometimes can with denim.

I also wanted to use the last scraps of my gorgeous vintage floral drill.  I had patched my jeans and made a skirt with it and all I needed was a little bit.



I used View A of the Rushcutter, it’s my preferred version.  I do like the sleeveless version but there is something rather wonderful about these sleeves.  I just can’t resist them.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 7.31.33 pmThere was very little to do in order to hack this dress.  Obviously reduce the length.  I went for a hip length which means no need to deal with pockets.

I also had to change the back panel.  I didn’t need a full invisible zip so I closed the back panel seams on my pattern piece and cut it on the fold. This gave me the option of whether to add a short invisible zip or a button closure.  I chose the button closure, mainly because I didn’t have the right size zip to hand and also I really liked the pop of the emerald green button.  Either would have worked but I like this option.  And that was the only change.

I love the emerald green button here!

Here it is in it’s full glory!  I really love the floral panel.  I know, it’s impossible for me to make anything plain.  Must try harder…

I am wearing this with my Esther Shorts (Tessuti Fabric pattern), maybe a matching pair is in order!
I like the volume in this top, but it does mean you have to wear something slimmer on the bottom half to balance it.



Of course, I couldn’t resist some sky blue bias binding throughout (don’t look too closely!)

I know I am going to wear this to death.  It’s such a great fabric and I really like this shape. More of these to come I think.





I love a sweatshirt! (again)

I have written a few posts about my love of the humble sweatshirt (here , hereherehere & here). I seem to make a lot of them for me and the kids. They are easy to make and even easier to wear. So, as the seasons begin to change and it starts to cool down (if only very slightly), I made my first sweatshirt of the season.

I usually draft my own sweatshirt pattern but I thought this time I would try a pattern I have had my eye on for a while.  It’s the Named Clothing Sloane Sweatshirt.

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I like this pattern for a number of reasons. Firstly, I really like that it’s not raglan! I know that is blasphemy in my book, but I wanted to change it up a bit. The second reason is that it has these enormous bust darts. A strange addition to a sweatshirt but I like the detail and I was curious about how it would work.

It’s a very easy make. A good one for those trying knits for the first time. I chose a navy blue sweatshirt fabric and some marle blue ribbing from my stash, both pre-loved pieces from the charity shop. I decided to make the sleeves from a small piece of cotton/silk I found on the Tessuti Fabric Remnant table. I am told it is Liberty, but I am not 100% sure. There was just enough for these sleeves.

It would have been an easy make if I wasn’t attaching silk to stretch! I had a couple of goes at the arm holes to make sure it was a smooth edge. It’s not perfect but I think it’s fine. I probably should have done more research on how to work with a silk and a stretch. But patience isn’t my strong suit, so I ploughed on.

I like the bust dart, it adds an interesting feature and it was easy to do.

I think the contrast of the ribbing works well here.


Overall I am really pleased with the result.  I cut the smallest size and it fits well.  It’s not as ‘baggy’ as I normally wear, it’s a bit more feminine.  That is not a criticism.  The only tweak I made was to the neckband.  The ribbing I used is super stretchy, so I reduced the length and also the width, it felt a little clunky so I knocked at least an inch off.

I know I will wear this loads, but I also know that as a delicate silk/cotton fabric and my ‘fairy elephant’ tendencies (Mum’s words not mine),  it probably won’t last as long as I would like.  I will try to be gentle, I will try…

2015 – the round up!


2015 has been a big year for me!  I started my blog back in April and I have been loving it.  A little ‘post happy’ to begin with, but I think I have calmed down a bit in recent months!

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to round off the year with some of my favourite makes and finds, then talk about my resolutions for 2016.

Oh, it’s like the Sewing Oscars, but without anyone else competing or judging! (So nothing like the Oscars then!)



A tough choice, but it has to be my culottes. The first time I had really ever attempted a trouser and I was surprised at how simple they were to make. They have also been given loads of exposure, I found them on Kollabora, Best of 2015 Collection the other day – how cool is that!

GIFT OF THE YEAR (A.K.A unselfish sewing!)


Strange category I know, but I have made so many clothes for others this year that I thought it deserved a category of it’s own! No contest really, it has to be this gilet! I loved making this for Dad, even though he says it weighs a ton!




A couple of items spring to mind! A $5 tee with cute little crowns is first on this list. I bought it with the idea of refashioning it for Bertie. Once I had tried it on there was no way it was going anywhere other than my wardrobe.

The second piece is this rockin’ 1980’s jacket. A minor amend to the shoulders to remove the Krystal Carrington-like shoulder pads and this $35 jacket is a winner!



I bought this rockin’ kimono in Berkhamsted with ‘Bride of the Year’ (A.K.A Bev!) I love the shape and the fabric is so beautiful. I wear it endlessly and it makes me feel glamorous, when I quite clearly am not!  Most importantly it reminds me of Bev and our little shopping trip the day before her wedding.  Happy times.




I can’t decide between these two makes. The white shirt was a triumph as I was determination not to waste the original shirt I made. I am so glad that it turned out so well.  I even made it onto the Makery blog, thanks to refashion and sewing guru, Portia.

The kimono was part of my Christmas present challenge, a fairly minor refashion, just removing a panel and some length. But it’s fab! Shame it’s not mine anymore. Boo hoo!



I love a charity store fabric find and this one is so special. A lovely piece of screen printed drill cotton. I love the colour, the shapes and the fact that this was a test piece (I think!) Find of the year for sure, lucky me!

But just for ‘shits and giggles’ here are a few runners up…




Well, it has to be the Henry Dress from Brooklyn Pattern Company.  Having made a fair amount of dresses and a skirt hack, it seems only right.  I also LOVE this pattern with it’s square neckline, puff sleeves and giant pockets.  Just waiting on the grown-up version now!



It’s this ottoman top. I knew it would be as soon as I had finished it.  I think it’s the most versatile piece in my wardrobe. I found this fabric in a Berkhamsted, along with my kimono. It’s such a cracking fabric, the colours are so beautiful. It’s also a hack of my DRESS OF THE YEAR pattern, its clearly a winner!



Not sure there should be a category for duffers but it’s not altogether a failure. Surprisingly it’s this Burda top. I really love the shape and I particularly love the fabric but I can’t find anything to wear it with so it sits alone in my wardrobe. 2016 is the year that I find a friend for this top, maybe a charcoal or denim pencil skirt? Answers on a postcard please!


It has to be my lobster dress, it’s the fabric, it gets me every time! The simplicity of the pattern, shape and combination of fabrics makes this my favourite. It is also one of my first refashions. I pulled apart a 1950’s style dress, which made me look like a cupcake, turning it into this modern and more flattering shape. I wear it A LOT. I get stopped in the street and have had many lobster conversations because of it!


I am no good at New Years Resolutions.  If I had set any it would be ‘no chocolate’ for 2016.  Unfortunately, it’s only New Years Day and that resolution is already out of the window, so lets move on.

Here are my four sewing resolutions….

  1. What I would like is to be a more conscious shopper. Seriously considering what I am buying, do I need it and what are the ethical implications of the item. I plan on buying second hand or vintage and wearing homemade as much as possible.
  2. I would like to try my hand at menswear. I am the only woman in our house, I don’t even have a girl pet! I think I should perhaps embrace this concept once in a while, maybe I will start with something for the hubbie. I bought the Colette Negroni shirt pattern today, maybe this is a good place to start.   I would also like to make some more interesting pieces, something that my pre-teen boys would happily wear.
  3. I want to slow down! I get so excited about fabric and patterns that I sew at break-neck speed. Time for reflection I think.
  4. Last but not least, I want to reduce the fabric stash! No new fabric. Yes I know, that’s on every sewers list but I would really like to try… (Well, I will, once I have spent my Christmas Tessuti voucher!)