Nessie dress for Stella

Thanks to all who responded to my last blog post – both to those who added to the discussion about fit and flattery and to those who left such flattering comments on my Mabels!  And guess what – in the last two days I have sewn TWO THINGS!  Admittedly, both were cut out weeks months ago, and both were extremely straightforward.  A dress for me, and finally a second pair of school pants for Clare.  They really needed to be sewn, considering that she finishes primary school in December!  In the meantime I can finally share another garment I made ages ago.  Once again my photography of Stella had an ulterior motive – to get photos for the blog, not just to get photos of her having fun drawing chalk pictures with friends!

Nessie top as dress

This is the Nessie Top pattern, lengthened to become a dress. I also added a yoke to the back in order to take advantage of the gorgeous Babushka fabric that Anna had given me. Despite being a knit, the skirt fabric isn’t terribly stretchy.  It does however have a loop pile back, and is nice and snuggly for winter.  The fabric I used for the yokes and sleeves is a cotton/lycra knit from the depths of stash. I bought a LOT of this once upon a time.

Nessie top as dress

Now a confession – I did a terrible job of aligning the yoke seams at the sides. There is about two centimetres misalignment at the side seams. Shoddy. I remember that I was making this in a bit of a hurry and I didn’t actually draft a new back pattern divided into a yoke and lower back – I just held the front yoke pattern piece near the back piece and chopped away accordingly. Learn from my mistakes people!

wet chalk painting

I originally used the tiny remaining scraps from the skirt to bind the neckline, doing a double folded band. It looked really cute – but wouldn’t actually stretch enough to go over Stella’s head. It was rather entertaining while I tried pulling it on and it just wouldn’t budge over her ears, but clearly something else needed to be done. I chopped off the neckband and cut another from the same cotton/lycra knit that the yokes and sleeves were made from, using the 7/8 of the neck measurement rule, joined it into a circle then quarter marked the folded band and the neckline to match them up then seam them together. This worked well.
Nessie top as dress

The length was determined entirely by the amount of fabric that I had available. It still has the gentle high-low hemline of the original top pattern. I think that I sewed this up in size 6, but don’t hold me to that. Construction was all on the overlocker, and hems were all twin-needled. We already had leggings in the drawer from a previous make in the same fabric. What coordination!

Nessie top as dress

more Mabels

It seems that when I have a small amount of stretch fabric left over from something else, I turn it into a Mabel skirt.  I have now made five of them.  The first three are here – and these are the remaining two.  I’ll show you how they look close up, then how I actually wear them. These photos were all taken at the end of the day, so there are a fair few wear creases.

Colette Mabel skirt

This one was sewn at Sewjourn in May. The fabric is a little unusual – it’s a knit, but more like a stretch bengaline in density and stretchability than a double knit. It came from Darn Cheap Fabrics. As you can see, I sewed the version with panels in the front and the kick pleat at the back.

Colette Mabel skirt

All the vertical seams were topstitched. The instructions also tell you to understitch the top of the facing – I have no idea why, as this is a pull-on stretch skirt and as soon as you stretch out the waist to pull it on the understitching pops. It’s a technique that would work well if there were a zip, but not on something that is meant to expand! I think that I made this as a Medium throughout. It’s pretty firm. Some would say it’s too tight, but I like my straight stretch skirts to be slim below the bottom, as I wear them with tops out over them.

Colette Mabel skirt

I didn’t even hem this one properly – instead I used fusible tape to secure the hem. The fabric didn’t like being sewn across the grain, and I was concerned that a stitched hem would look terrible, and a hand-stitched hem….well, I was too lazy to do one. It is lasting well through the wash!

Colette Mabel skirt

This one was made in mid-June. The size of the scraps I had available necessitated a centre front seam. From memory this is a Medium, graded to a Large waistband. Once again all the vertical seams have been top-stitched, and the fabrics were all from Darn Cheap.

Colette Mabel skirt

Gee there are a lot of wrinkles after sitting all day! This time I did a simple stitched hem. These skirts are comfortable to wear due to the nature of the stretch fabrics, and they are very fast to make.

Colette Mabel skirt with Style Arc Harper jacket and Jalie top

The Mabel skirt was reviewed recently over at The Curvy Collective. The comments made for interesting reading, especially in regards to what people consider to be good fit and/or what they consider to be flattering. I’ve also read some comments on terms like flattering and related discourse on what makes for “good fit” or clothes that suit people recently that give me food for thought. My opinion – is it comfortable (doesn’t rub or bind or pull) and do you feel good in it? To me, that is what is most important, not whether it makes you look taller and/or thinner (which is what most people tend to imply by “flattering”). What do you think?

Colette Mabel skirt

Colette Mabel skirt

Perri Pullover for Stella

Finally, I have modelled photos of the Perri Pullover that I made for Stella back in May!  Taking photos of her with just de-braided hair was really part of a sneaky plan to get photos of her outfit…..

Perri Pullover

Most of the details are in the review of Clare’s Perri Pullover. The fabric is from Spotlight, a brushed sweatshirt knit, and the fabric for the bands, inseam pockets and matching leggings came from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

Perri Pullover

It’s hard to remember now (reminder to self: blog about finished garments AS SOON AS they are made because otherwise the details evaporate into the ether) but I think that I cut this out in size 6 length but size 4 width. It has the same slouchy look as Clare’s and mine.

Perri Pullover

As with Clare’s, I left the neckband the same width as the hem and sleeve bands. I like the high-low hem, and the band on the bottom curves it in nicely. But that neckline is definitely wide and a little too Flashdance for Stella’s liking. She was happiest wearing it layered over a long-sleeved, higher-necked tee.

Perri Pullover

This is a cute pattern for the kids – and Clare has worn hers quite a lot – but mine is going to be donated. Just too loose on me, even though I’m currently at my heaviest, and the neckline drives me nuts. I found the Day Tripper top to have similar design lines but a much better fit on me. I’m glad that the kids like theirs!  And the whole family enjoyed the “big hair”.

Perri Pullover

StyleARC Harper jacket

See what happens?  I posted every day for three weeks – so I suppose it’s not surprising that it’s now been over a week since my last blog post!  I must have exhausted my blogging mojo.  Since returning from Thailand life has quickly gone back to normal – well, the current normal of me working full-time while my husband manages the kids and house and looks for a new job.  And consequently, no sewing has taken place.  You’ll have to make do with projects that were completed before we went away.  And let’s hope that my memory serves me well when trying to remember project details!

The StyleARC Harper jacket is very similar to a few of my ready to wear knit cardigan/jackets.  I know that these drape cardigan/jackets are everywhere and will probably begin to look quite dated soon, but they are styles that I reach for often and feel comfortable in.  They also go nicely over my dresses and skinny pants.  The line drawing:

StyleARC describe this jacket as follows: This wonderfully knit jacket is a must for all occasions. Easy to wear and easy to make. Enjoy the complimentary hook & eyes included with the pattern.   So, here’s my version.

Style Arc Harper jacket in wool woven

First things first: I ignored the “knit” part of the pattern description, and made this jacket in a wool woven. This is NOT something that I would generally recommend, but the fabric was thin, soft and drapey, and since the style is quite unstructured I thought that it might work. I think it did.

Style Arc Harper jacket in wool woven

Now, these photos were taken at the end of a long day that involved quite a bit of sitting, so the back looks terribly wrinkled. These wrinkles actually drop out quite quickly. I sewed the jacket in a straight size 12. I did follow the instructions to do a french seam at the centre back neck, which has worked well. The back neck folds over and shows on the outside, so the french seam is better there. Other construction was on the overlocker. I had major dilemmas about how to finish the edges. The pattern suggests leaving them raw, and I just didn’t think that would work on this fabric. The other thing to consider was that the wrong side does show on the front, where the lapels drape and fold when the jacket is worn open. I decided to turn the hem to the inside once and stitch it in place with a narrow twin needle, hoping that the raw edge that would show occasionally would look “rustic” with the zig-zag from the back of the twin needle stitching, and that the rest would just look neat. I think that it has worked nicely enough.

Style Arc Harper jacket - twin needle stitching detail

I turned and twin needled the sleeve hems as well. This jacket is surprisingly warm to wear – due to the wool content, of course – and it is also rather comfortable. I’ll use the pattern again, but in a knit as recommended.

Style Arc Harper jacket in wool woven

By the way, the wool was a remnant from Rathdowne Fabrics. It’s an unusual shade of mustardy green that coordinates very well with lots of my clothes.  This was the last garment I sewed before our holiday, which means that I haven’t sewn anything for a month now!  Surprisingly the withdrawal isn’t too bad – I’m enjoying getting adequate sleep and reading some books instead.

travel wallet

When you travel overseas there are always lots of bits and pieces that need to be organised.  Travel documents are one of those things.  When you’re travelling as a family of four those passports, boarding passports and itineraries really add up!  I trawled the internet a little to see if I could find a suitable pattern for a travel wallet, and landed upon this one.

passport wallet - outside

It was rather fun to sew something on a smaller scale. Because I do a bit of bag making I had plenty of suitable interfacings in stash, and raided my quilting cotton collection for the fabrics.

passport wallet - inside

I made this exactly as per the tutorial. On the left hand side there are two pockets that fit passports, an elastic loop to hold that pen that you can never find when you need it to fill in landing cards, and a full length pocket behind. The front pocket is made from clear plastic – I cut some from the packaging that sheet sets come in.

passport wallet - inside

The girls’ passports slip nicely into the pocket at the back. On the right hand side are three credit card sized pockets, a small clip that I will attach the house key to, and another pocket behind where I can slip boarding passes and itinerary documents.  The elastic loop that closes the wallet was originally one of the girls’ hair ties (much to their disgust – but hey, the colour matches).  I made the bias binding.  The travel wallet really is just for at airports – it will live in the hotel safe most of the time and I’ll use another wallet for cash and cards.

passport wallet - inside

Now, don’t look too closely at the stitching on this travel wallet – it’s far from perfect, but this was meant to be a trial wallet. There are a couple of things that I would have done differently the second time if my husband’s workplace redundancy and my subsequent return to full-time work had not taken place. The wallet is a bit too short for an A4 document folded into three to slide into one of those back pockets. It could have done with just a little over an extra centimetre to allow for itineraries etc to fit in there. Also, for a family of four I could have done with two more pockets for passports. I have sketched out a variation that I will make one day for any subsequent overseas trips. There are other terrific patterns for family sized travel wallets available such as this one and this one if you don’t want to come up with your own. I always find it useful to start off with a pattern that someone has already drafted as a base, then alter it to meet my own needs. I might include a zippered compartment in a subsequent version as well.

So you know what this means – we’re almost ready to depart! I’m taking my laptop with me, so as free wi-fi and time permits I might subject you to photos and stories from our travels (as well as continuing in my attempt to get my sewing blogging up to date). And a message to any potential burglars who stalk sewing blogs just hoping for information about when people will be away – we have house-sitters staying, so no point coming near my place!  For those of you wondering about our itinerary, we are spending four nights in Bangkok, then catching the overnight train to Chiang Mai.  We have six nights in Chiang Mai – and while I am there I am catching up with Gaye to go fabric shopping!  Woo hoo!  Then we fly down to Khao Lak, where we spend eight nights in a resort with kids club, massages, cocktail classes, etc etc before flying home again (on an overnight flight, eurgh).  I bet that all the Melbournians reading this are feeling rather envious right now, as the winter cold and wind swirls around us……..

Barb, Simone and the Plantain

When I type a post title like this one, I wonder how many readers will get what I am referring to immediately, and how many might have to puzzle it out.  In this case, I am referring to the StyleARC Barb pants, the StyleARC Simone cardi, and the Deer & Doe Plantain tee.

Style Arc Simone cardigan and Barb pants with Plantain tee

These were all Sewjourn makes as well (I haven’t done any sewing for last week – gasp!) and were very straightforward. I hadn’t made the Barb pants before, but will definitely be making them again.

Style Arc Barb pants

I sewed these in charcoal grey stretch Bengaline, also from StyleARC. It’s wonderful fabric. A woven, with a phenomenal amount of stretch that runs along the length of the fabric. That means that you have to cut the pants out with the pattern pieces running from selvage to selvage in order to have the stretch going around the body, which is at right angles to the usual layout. I made these as work pants. They have a slim leg, but aren’t as skinny as the Elle pants (that I usually make from ponte). The back is looser through the upper thigh as well (remember that I have relatively slim hips and thighs as compared to my mid-section).

Deer and Doe Plantain tee with Style Arc Barb pants

I left these fairly long, as apparently the Bengaline can shrink a little. Construction was on the overlocker. There is elastic encased in the separate waistband, and the rise comes up nicely over my stomach.

Deer and Doe Plantain tee

The tee is the free Plantain pattern by Deer and Doe. I graded this pattern over three sizes; 40 bust, 42 waist, and 38 hips. It pulls a little just above the bust where it could probably do with a FBA. Next time I might try a cheat’s FBA on the front piece and not grade down for the hips but leave it to flare out more. The fabric was from Super Cheap Fabrics in Brunswick. The texture is great, and I like the petrol blue.  Once again construction was all on the overlocker, with the twin needle in the machine to finish the hems.

Style Arc Simone cardigan

After those two fairly workhorse garments, what I am happiest with from this outfit is the Simone cardigan. I used a crushed wool blend jersey that came from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table some time ago. The drafting is impeccable, and the way that the pockets are formed from drapes into the side seam is so clever!

Style Arc Simone cardigan and Barb pants

I sewed straight size 12 for the cardi. Most construction was on the overlocker, with the twin needle on the machine to finish hems and secure the front bands in place. It’s hard to see how the pockets work so here is the line drawing.

This cardi has already made its way into high wardrobe rotation.  It must be the combination of the simple shape with the additional touch of the drape pocket – especially when paired with one of my current colour obsessions, golden mustard! I especially like it with my Jaywalk dress.

Vogue 8975 for the Tessuti Jaywalk 2014 competition

As it so happens, the Jaywalk dress and Simone cardi combination is what I wore yesterday to celebrate my husband’s significant birthday!

2014-06-21 15.07.55

We had a wonderful party at home with a group of family and close friends. It was loads of fun but boy, the day flew past! And I have to say, that cake was absolutely delicious. Happy 50th to my perfect match – we really do complement one another. And now it’s only two more sleeps until Thailand…..

Butterick 5954 with StyleARC April pants

These patterns are both repeats. Butterick 5954 has been used once before. StyleARC April has been used more than once before!

Butterick 5954 with Style Arc April pants

I am going to put the Butterick 5954 pattern into more use. I love this top!  The pattern offers a sleeveless version or short, three-quarter or long sleeves, with neckline and front overlay options.  This time around I sewed view B, but with full-length sleeves. 

The fabric is a very soft and drapey golden/mustard jersey (possibly a viscose blend) that came from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  I cut size Medium. It fits closely through the shoulders and upper chest, then flares out nicely from below the bust. I love tops that flare out over my mid-section rather than sticking to it.

Butterick 5954

And just check out the flare of the back pieces! The back is cut with a centre back seam, and fits closely through upper back than flares out from just above the waist. The flare is added both to the side seams and to the centre back seam. There’s a lot of fabric there – this top is a real fabric hog.

Butterick 5954 with Style Arc April pants

And yes, there is a high-low hem going on again here. I did petite this top at the shorten/lengthen lines, as I usually do.

Butterick 5954 with Style Arc April pants

The pants are made in leftover ponte from other projects. The print was from Darn Cheap Fabrics (I used it in my Lekala dress) and the solid ponte was a Tessuti remnant.  This really was a scrap project – I had to piece together some of the print to get a large enough amount of fabric for one of the back leg pieces. Luckily you can’t really tell, unless you are staring at my bottom from less than a metre away. And I don’t imagine that anyone will be doing that. And it will be covered by a tunic length top.

Style Arc April pants

I use size 10 for these, and have shortened the pattern both above and below the knee.  The horizontal seaming at knee level makes these ideal for cutting from smaller pieces of fabric.  You do need a decent length of fabric for the inner and outer leg panels so that you can cut them out on grain, even though you don’t use up much of the fabric width.

The waist has elastic applied to the inside of the waistband then turned inside again and stitched into place. It’s such a straightforward way to elasticise a waistband!

Style Arc April pants

When I’ve used this pattern before I used the print on the narrower contrast strips. It was fun to use the print as the main fabric this time and the solid ponte as a contrast. I imagine that I’ll be dragging this pattern out every winter.

Butterick 5954 with Style Arc April pants

Looking at these photos I realise that the sleeves need to be shortened.  Much too long!  Otherwise this is a fun pair of garments.  They weren’t really made to wear together.  I think that they are fine in this combination, but I’m more likely to mix and match them with other items in my wardrobe.

Butterick 5925 tunic and Colette Mabel

There aren’t many gaps in my wardrobe, but I did identify one for long sleeved tunics in solid colours.  But I didn’t want to just make a whole lot of long sleeved tees.  I’ve added a few Katherine and Marcy Tilton patterns to my stash recently, and pulled out Butterick 5925 to make this navy tunic.

Butterick 5925 tunic with Colette Mabel skirt

It’s really hard to see the design lines in this dark fabric, so here is the line drawing.

The pattern description from the website says: MISSES’ TOP: Pullover top has neckline and pocket variations, seam detail, and shaped hemine. A: slightly draped neck and pocket bands. B: pocket binding. A and B: semi-fitted, stitched hems. C and D: loose-fitting, hem band, and narrow hem. B, C and D: neck binding. Wrong side shows on hemlines, and C and D pocket openings.  I made stye C, but without the pockets. The fabric is a polyester crepe knit from Spotlight. It’s actually rather lovely to sew and wear.

Butterick 5925 tunic with Colette Mabel skirt

I’m trying to remember what size I made; it was probably a Medium, and I’m pretty sure that I petite-ed it by folding out an inch and a half through the body at the marked shorten/lengthen lines. The seams are interesting; there are princess seams in the back and forward angled seams at the front but no seams at the side where you would usually expect them to be.

Butterick 5925 tunic

I like the fit through the body but think that the shoulders are a little too wide. I’ll size down to a Small at the shoulders next time – and there will definitely be a next time for this pattern. In fact, I have view A cut out in a grass green polyester crepe knit, also without the pockets.

Colette Mabel skirt

The skirt is the Colette Mabel, in the view with the back pleat and the side front panels. For a bit of interest I cut the side front panels with the print running the opposite way to the rest of the skirt. Can you tell? This time I made a Medium throughout. The fabric choice really affects the fit – this one could have done with a Large in the waistband. But I can still wriggle into it!  The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics – I was lucky enough to find this small piece in the remnant bin!

Colette Mabel skirt

I really like that little pleat at the centre back, and it is super simple to incorporate. This was Mabel number three – I still have to show you number four and five!

Butterick 5925 tunic with Colette Mabel skirt

These Butterick tunics offer lots of opportunities for mixing and matching prints and colourways, as seen on the pattern envelope.  I find myself more and more drawn to designs such as those from the Tilton sisters.  They and other “art to wear” patterns are the sorts of styles that I used to think of as “middle aged women clothes”.  What does that say about what I am becoming?

togs for Thailand – part 3

So Melbournians, are you feeling even colder each time that I post the bathers I have been making or mention our imminent trip to Thailand?  We are getting VERY excited now – less than a week before we leave!  Part 3 of togs for Thailand are the one-piece swimsuits that I made for Clare and for Stella.


These are Clare’s. Once again the fabric was from Rathdowne Fabrics. The pattern is the All 4 one Stylish Swimsuit, available on Etsy from Coles Creations. I found the instructions very straightforward. The binding was time consuming, but otherwise these are pretty easy to sew.


The swimsuit straps can be crossed over and stitched into place, attached straight, or tied in a halter neck. Clare elected to have hers crossed over. She chose the skirted style with a frill along the bodice triangles. We used one fabric throughout because that is what we had!


The small floral is very pretty. I sewed size 8/9 for Clare, which pretty much corresponded with her measurements, although she will possibly only get one year’s wear from it. Bathers degenerate pretty quickly with chlorine exposure anyway.


Surprise surprise, Stella chose exactly the same style as her sister, except in a different print (but also from Rathdowne fabrics). However she decided to leave hers to tie as a halter neck.


And somewhere during the construction process I forgot to line the bodice. Oh well! This fabric was slightly beefier than the one I used for Clare’s bathers. This time I made size 6/7, which appeared to be too big for Stella but in reality seems to fit quite well. Sometimes it’s just worth giving things a go!


I use the overlocker for some of the construction, but much of it is on the machine with a zig zag stitch. I have started to get a little obsessed with sewing bathers, and have started trawling Etsy for women’s patterns from the 80s and 90s, many of which appeal to me much more than those available today. Speaking of women’s bathers, I still have a “togs for Thailand part 4″ blog post in the works – a Bombshell swimsuit for me!

Perri Pullover

A couple of months ago I made each of my daughters a Cali Faye Collection Perri Pullover.  I blogged Clare’s here.  I’m still waiting for Stella to agree to try hers on, let alone model it for the blog.  And while I was away at Sewjourn in May, I made one for myself.

Cali Faye Collection Perri Pullover

I have had the shredded effect knit in the stash for a little while, not knowing just what to make from it. The fabric is two layers, the top one shredded in places and attached to the fabric underneath in others.  Interesting! I bought it at Darn Cheap Fabrics a year (or two) ago, and it often comes out of stash and then goes back in again. I think this pattern is quite an appropriate match.  The bands and pockets were were cut from dark grey viscose jersey.

Cali Faye Collection Perri Pullover

I cut the size Large, for a 40 inch bust. I really could have sized down. Although this is obviously an oversized look, I think it’s possibly a bit too oversized for my liking. I didn’t follow the neckband instructions, leaving it the same width as the sleeve and hem bands instead of turning it to the inside a second time as suggested.

Cali Faye Collection Perri Pullover

I do like a high-low (also known as a “mullet” hemline, and suspect that I will continue to wear them long after they go out of fashion. This one would have benefitted from shortening through the body though. This is an easy garment to make – most construction is on the overlocker.  And it’s a relaxed top for lounging.

Cali Faye Collection Perri Pullover

That said, I’m a little bit “meh” about it. I much prefer the Day Tripper top that I made earlier in the year.  A similar style, but with longer sleeves (more practical), slightly shorter body length with a little more shaping, and a more closely fitted neckline.  The proportions just work better on my body.  That said, I might give the Perri Pullover another whirl in a different fabric, smaller size and shorter length.  We’ll see!