Jen’s Weekend Getaway

It was Mum’s birthday last week. Happy Birthday, Mum.

The weekend getaway came the week before when Mum, Sister, Bubble and I flew to Canberra to visit Brother #1.

When it came to a present, I decided to go the Makery* route, and make something useful, rather than gifting her a thing that would just end up in a drawer somewhere.

I bought Liesl + Co’s Weekend Getaway blouse pattern a while ago, intending to make it for myself in something light and drapey. For Mum, I used a blue stretch woven cotton (sateen?) from the $2 table at Darn Cheap Fabrics. I rather suspect it’s the same as Thornberry used to make her Late Lunch tunic.20131213-143827.jpg

The pattern was simple to follow for the most part; the shoulder seam/ facing stumped me a bit, so I just French seamed it, which seemed to work fine. I discovered the overcasting stitches (and foot) on my machine, and that made finishing the facing a lovely, easy and NEAT experience. I used an overcasting stitch on the hem too, and only folded it once, as mum likes her clothes with quite a bit of ease and coverage.

I used an off-white thread, so the top stitching would be a bit decorative instead of hidden, but I meant to top stitch the collar/facing too, but forgot. I think it would have added something, but I was running out of time (the blouse was finished the morning of Mum’s birthday lunch). I also added the sleeves. 20131213-143909.jpg



Mum and I have virtually the same measurements, (I am in possession of a somewhat fuller bust), so I was able to try it on for her to preserve the surprise. The blouse is very comfy, the fabric lovely to wear… and I felt like I was dressed to perform surgery. I think it was a combination of the colour, slightly structured fabric, and shirt-like pattern – all completely not my style. I didn’t hate it, but it was definitely not something I’d wear.

Which is fine, because Mum loves it!

And I’ll tackle that FBA kindly supplied in the instructions, and make myself a short sleeved version with off-white silk/cotton and black voile facings. I’m trying to stop being scared of many things using fabric I really like. That sounds quite dumb, doesn’t it?!

*Growing up, Dad had a collection of what we called Makery books, phone book sized tomes, usually published by Readers’ Digest or something of that ilk. They were like bibles for DIY, an Instructables for the 70s. Some of the amazing projects Dad completed were a treated pine a-frame swing set and climbing frame, a cubby house complete with Winnie the Pooh Sanders sign and a 2+ metre high pirate fort, with a rope ladder.


P.S. Hope all the Sewjourners have a happy and productive weekend away. I’m going to try to make a start on Bubble’s Christmas dresses (yes, plural. I’m crazy.). Xx


I made a thing.

Bubble has a fluorescent yellow trilby. I had some fluorescent yellow crepe type fabric intended for piping on another project, some ancient black crepe that has been in the stash for eons (with substantially less polyester than I assumed, judging from the heat I was able to apply to it), and the remnants of some black-with-coloured-birds poplin (bought from Spotlight for yet another cut but as yet unsewn Scout). A summer top had to happen.

Pattern is Debbie’s Birthday Dress, shortened to a top. Lots of fun, a few new things tried and messed up.

I’ve plans for a couple more variations. Hopefully at some point Bubble will allow me to style her, so I can post some action shots. In the meantime, please use your imagination on this highly boring phone snap.


Updated to add photo of highly reluctant model:


And slightly less reluctant:



Sally in the wild

As promised, Sally in action:

I did say the photos were conditional on Bubble liking the dress, and the first reaction I got when I asked her to put it on was a resounding NO. But we got there eventually.

It’s a lovely, floaty frock for Bubble to frolic about in on a (rare) beautiful Melbourne afternoon. We were at a party for the first birthday of Miss Tilly, and a fantastic time was had, even if it involved dribbly watermelon, black iced chocolate cake and Bubble’s first skinned knee.

20131103-213630.jpgLike Anna, I had a bit of a problem printing the bodice pattern (the fold line didn’t print). At the time I just carried on, but in hindsight, maybe this had something to do with the slightly off-the-shoulder look Bubble was sporting. But she is quite petite, and I’m not convinced I’d be able to get it over her head if the bodice was any narrower. Some of the pattern photos seem to have wider shoulder straps than I ended up with; perhaps user error is the answer?

20131103-214246.jpg[pic source here]

Regardless, I’m really pleased how this turned out, and am looking forward to making it again, with sleeves and pockets this time.

I was also quite chuffed that my handiwork was recognised as a handmade Sally ‘in the wild’ by Lightning McStitch. We had a lovely (if brief!) chat about sewing and patterns, and discovered that our respective partners had much the same reaction to our enthusiasm for sewing and blogging.

So lovely to chat, it totally made my weekend!


(Finally a) WIP

So, life has been happening, and stuff. And I finally found my machine under all the fabric I’ve been binge-buying.

Pattern is the Sally Dress.

Fabric is ‘Airplanes’ from Dear Stella’s Piper range, bought here in a fit of nostalgia (many childhood afternoons spent playing with what we called ‘helicopters’).

Nearly done, and pretty happy with it. A few rookie errors, like sewing with incorrect tension, thinking I knew better than the instructions, etc. etc. I also sewed the skirt on to the wrong side of the lining, at which point I packed it in for the night.

Should finish tomorrow and hopefully have pics of Bubble swanning about in it at a birthday party next weekend.

Unless she hates it.

Next up, I’m shamelessly copying this loud scarf from Sew Brunswick. Chance to learn how to use the cheap-arse hemming foot I bought as part of a kit on Saturday. It also came with a walking foot, so perhaps the conquering of my knit fear is in sight.

Of course, it could all just go horribly wrong and eat the fabric. I’ll let you know.

Scout Mk III

Mark III, I hear you say?

In the interest of adding to my repertoire of sewing skills (you know, learning how to do more stuff), I am trying to do something a little different with each Scout I have in mind.

Mk II was/is to be a colour blocked (pattern blocked? Is that even a thing?) version, with plain black voile for the sleeves and back, black yoke and very strong geometric pattern on the front.

20130808-125154.jpg[Someone needs a dress form…]

But when I put it together, 1) the voile feels too flimsy compared to the patterned duck (I was hoping a super light fabric would counteract the heaviness of the duck and help with the drape. Wrong). I think I need to remake it with something with a teeny bit more body, like lawn.

And 2) I wasn’t happy where the pattern started on my chest. I think it needs to come up about an inch, maybe a bit less. I was aiming for a modest level above boobs, but it ended up being more or less straight across the centre of my bust. Looks a bit weird. I’m going to try and unpick it and use the back and sleeves for Mk IV, so stand by…

I ended up making one from a red patterned sateen I got from Spotlight (learning that my taste in patterns is not very subtle). It’s a bit heavier than the blue fabric I used on the first one, but it still works. I lengthened it by 1 1/2″, but I think that’s too long. Might try for 1/2″ next time, the original length is just a wee bit short for me (Also, I now own a gauge to measure my hems. Is slightly more effective/accurate than my previous ‘eyeball it and hope for the best’ approach).

I took another couple of leaps, drafted my own tulip sleeves with the help of this tutorial, and then gave them roll hems (thank you again, Grainline).

20130808-131906.jpg[The bruise on my arm is a Bubble bite and the parallel scars are from a me vs birthday-cake-in-the-oven incident]

Pretty happy with the final product. My sewing is getting neater (please don’t look too closely at the roll hems, though. Partially through laziness, partially inexperience, I didn’t change the foot on my machine to one which would actually allow me to see what I was doing), I’m understanding the whys and hows a bit more and learning heaps.

I like the original blue Scout better, mainly because of the drape of the fabric, but also because of the fancy sleeves, I feel a bit like the shirt is wearing me, more than I it. For someone used to wearing pretty plain stuff, the sleeves feel a bit Mma Ramotswe. Which is a bit awesome, but also a bit out of my comfort zone.



Please (again) excuse the dodgy bathroom mirror selfies. One day, I’ll get it together, style myself (!) and use a REAL camera.

Some quick, easy and fun toddler clothes next, I think, followed by a few more Scouts and a bash at Laurel.

Scout mk IV involves (pretendy) smocking…

A Diversion

I went to visit my beautiful friend Kaz and her daughter Tilly last week. Tilly is only 8 months younger than Bubble, but the difference is huge. I didn’t realise how much I missed the giggles, gummy (or not so gummy in Tilly’s case) smiles and lovely snuggles. I’m not sure how long I got to snuggle Tilly for, but it seemed like ages and was definitely not long enough.

Kaz has been sewing some nautical themed bunting for Tilly’s room. The chevron fabric I used for Bubble’s Starboard Skirt came in a few other colour ways, so I bought a few centimetres in red, white and blue, and gave it to Kaz with the bunting in mind.

And then I stole it back.

While I was working up the courage to attempt the bias facing on my scout, I made another Starboard Skirt for Tilly, this time with two pleats.

Having learnt a bit from my first go, this time I was able to think ahead and match the pattern at the seams:

And I sewed further down the pleats to keep them secure at the waistband:

Now working on conquering my fear of knits so I can make some coordinating Beachy Boatneck tees…

…and maybe another surprise with the chevron leftovers that I haven’t told Kaz about yet, so shhh. 🙂


So, I actually was a scout. And a Guide. And an overachieving Brownie:

I managed to avoid studying Textiles at both of my high schools, but somehow stayed in the Guiding and Scouting movement until I was about 15. At which point British bulldogs got a bit too touchy-feely for the only girl in the troop, so I left.*

When I saw Anna’s first Scout Woven Tee, it looked like something I a) might be able to handle, and b) definitely would wear.

This week, I’ve finally found time to actually finish one, and I am sooooo excited. I know it’s super easy and everyone in the world has made one by now, but it’s the first thing in years I’ve made for myself, the first thing I’ve ever made for myself from a pattern, and the first thing I’ll actually get heaps of wear out of.

Because my measurements are all over the place, and I’d never inserted a sleeve before, I made a muslin from some not-at-all-my-style cotton from the $2 table at Darn Cheap (if that shop didn’t live up to its name, I’d be ruined by now).

Fit satisfactory, stitches in a straight line, I then grabbed the pretty cotton (not sure what exactly, it’s maybe a bit heavier than lawn, but not quite quilting weight) I got at Spotlight a while ago. Almost panicked when I thought I didn’t have enough, but I worked out how to lay the pattern out so there’s actually plenty left over. Hopefully enough for a pair of Bubble Shorts for the Bubble.

Another first for me was the use of a pressing ham. However, in my case, I don’t actually have a ham. Instead, I used old (not too stained) cloth nappies, home made from op shop sheets (the thrifty went out the window a bit after Bubble arrived, but I had good intentions…).

You may be able to see from that photo that I did something a wee bit crazy. I used Grainline Studio‘s French all your seams tutorial. I thought I might be a bit mad when my sister-in-law, a very experienced seamstress, says she had never tried to French seam sleeves. But I had a go, and behold:

I’m really proud of the finished product. I faced the neckline and sleeves with red bias tape, using Haby Goddess’ Bias Binding Guide to get it right, and it sits lovely and flat. Next time, I’ll try the Grainline tutorial.

All in all, I learnt heaps and am pretty much squealing with excitement.

(Please excuse the selfie in my grubby bathroom mirror)


*The actual reason I left had more to do with the hour long commute to school after finishing Scouts at about 10pm the night before. It was all pretty chaste, really.

A Grown-Up Project

This might be the beginnings of a grown-up project just for meeeee! I’m intrigued to see how it fits, since my bust, waist and hip measurements are wildly different sizes (my hips are the smallest by 3 sizes!). A muslin in a not particularly attractive, lightish cotton from the $2 at Darn Cheap Fabrics should help though.

Meanwhile, I am a bit in love with Sanae Ishida’s colour blocked Debbie Birthday Dress. I always love the drape of the fabrics she uses, the comfortable look of the garments and especially her colour palette. I love the way she’s used strong, but muted colours in this frock:

Love. Clearly K has an excellent eye for colour too. I think I will be stealing this in the future…