Stretchy sewing: The Twist Top at last

I finally finished off my Twist top that I started during my stretchy sewing phase. I got it done just in the nick of time to wear to the Vivid Sydney festival this weekend and I think it went well with all the psychedelic lights around.



The pattern was made as part of the class at Studio Faro on stretch patterns.  The front is fully lined with the same fabric because the twist would reveal the wrong side of the fabric if it wasn’t doubled up. There are probably a few tweaks that I need to make to the pattern to make it fit a fit better and get rid of a little bit of the bulk at the twist but for now it works.  The fabric is a piece of synthetic knit that I found stuffed behind a pile of rolls at a fabric store in Marrickville.  It is horribly faded in places so the colour isn’t consistent but I loved the colour and the feel and it was cheap enough for a ‘wearable’ toile.

I reinforced the shoulders and back of the neck with clear elastic (Thanks, Judy 🙂 ) and I folded over the hem and finished with a zigzag. For the sleeves, I was playing around with finishing techniques and ways to make them a bit longer (my fabric was a running out when I got to the sleeves). I ended up with an extra piece of fabric slightly ruffled (using clear elastic again) and then stitched onto the sleeve.  I’m not entirely sure I’d do it exactly like that again but it was a good experiment.ImageImage

Pattern: My own Twist Top pattern

Fabric: Blue-green polyester knit (badly faded in parts) from the floor of a Marrickville fabric store

Alterations: I need to take a bit of bulk out of the twist and maybe add a centimetre at the twist so it falls better.

Do it again?: Perhaps a summer version when the time comes…

I’m still not totally happy with my seam and edge finishes in stretchy fabric.  Having an overlocker would certainly make my life easier in that department (I believe) but I’m sure there must be other suggestions. SewMaris has a great tutorial on keeping knit necklines in check (note to self: must get stretch interfacing).  Do you have any ideas for hems and sleeve hems? Or neatening up seams?

But it’s a fun top and it turned out better than I had anticipated.  I’m glad I got it finished and into a wearable state.

Me-Made-May: Perseverance

I’m still holding true to the challenge I set myself to wear at least one self-made item for each day this month.  It has been a fun and thought-provoking exercise and has made me reassess my wardrobe, my ideas for new projects and some of my lesser worn items.  I must admit though I am getting a little tired of taking a photo of my outfit each day…it makes me feel rather self conscious.  Nevertheless, here we go:

Thursday 15 May: Purple Rose tie top

Love this one (although this photo doesn’t really do it justice).  I’ve blogged about it here

MMM_15 May Purple rose

Friday 16 May: Pleated Birds top

Simplicity 2029 made with lovely printed cotton from Tessuti. Cute top but not particularly flattering I don’t think.

MMM_16 May birdsSaturday 17 May: Blue every day cowl top

A self-made pattern based off of some tutorials.  The fabric is a wool knit (I think it’s wool) remnant from Tessuti.  A great all-rounder top. Check out the boots 🙂

MMM_17 May blue cowlSunday 18 May: Simple Summer Tie Dress

Just blogged about this one.  Thank you, weather, for being unexpectedly warm so I could wear it 🙂

MMM_18 May summer dressMonday 19 May: Spots and Stripes Charlie

This is a self-made pattern (one of my first) that was originally made for the Tessuti awards back in 2012 but since then it has needed a few fitting tweaks.  It has taken me until now to get that done!  So, thanks to MMM I now have this dress in my closet rather than ‘THAT bottom drawer’.

MMM_19 May spots and stripes charlieTuesday 20 May: The Farm Girl Shirt Dress

The picture didn’t come out well at all but this dress is a pretty casual number that I’ve mentioned before.

MMM_20May Farm girlWednesday 21 May: Grey Wool Pencil skirt

A very early project (can’t remember the pattern).  Lovely grey wool and fully lined.  Great little skirt.

MMM_21May Grey pencilPhew…that was a big one!  That’s all for now. I’m running low on self-made items so this next week might be getting creative.  I wonder what work will think if I arrive in a red sequined dress!

Simple summer tie dress

Who doesn’t love a fun summer project that comes together in an afternoon?  I have had this pattern idea in my head for a while but most of the versions are usually for small children (the pillow case dress) so I was wondering how it would turn out for an adult.  I’m pretty happy with the result and it’s a great summery number that would be perfect for a tropical island getaway.


The pattern is one that I made myself with the help of some great tutorial’s like Sweet Verbena’s Simple Bow Tie Top. The fabric is a colourful floral piece of satin from the Fairy Godmother Stash.  It was the perfect size piece so the pattern was ultimately dictated by how much fabric I had.  It is a very simple construction of two rectangles (aka front and back) sewn together at the sides with French seams.  The armholes are shaped and bound with binding of the same fabric and the neckline is just a fold over casing through which the sash is threaded to create the gathers. 


I wanted the stipes along the bottom which meant that the pattern actually uses the width of the fabric and I ended up with the salvages at the bottom. What this meant is that I didn’t have to hem the the dress.  At the time I was in a rush to wear it and thought I’d do it another time.  Now I’m wondering if I actually need to.  Is it bad sewing etiquette not to hem my creations??



Have you got any easy patterns that come together in an afternoon and are immediately wearable?  Also what are your thoughts on the hemming vs not hemming debate?  I’d love to hear from you.

…and in the mean time I’ll pack this dress away for winter.  I’m just grateful I got to wear it this past weekend 🙂


Me-Made-May: Still Going strong

I’m still going strong with Me-Made-May and carefully going through my wardrobe to find the long-lost self-made item lurking in the back of the cupboard.  So far so good but I think my options are running thin.  I think one of the most challenging parts is providing photographic evidence of my daily outfit.  So here goes for the second installation of Me-Made-May:

Tuesday 6 May 2014: Egyptian Jackie dress

Made from a piece of black and gold silk from the Fairy godmother stash that looks Egyptian.  The pattern is from Burdastyle’s Sewing Vintage and Modern book.

MMM_6 May Egyptian Jackie

Wednesday 7th May: Blue Ruffle shirt

A pattern that I cut off an existing shirt of mine (not a 100% flawless process). The fabric is a baby blue cotton shirting fabric.

MMM_7 May blue ruffles

Thursday 8th May: The Elizabeth skirt in Shwe Shwe

A pattern of my own (thanks to pattern-making classes) and contrasting green Shwe Shwe fabrics from Cape Town.

MMM_8 May Elizabeth

Friday 9 May (My birthday!): The Angela dress AND Sparkles

Angela is from Simplicity 2282 and is made from a fun colourful cotton twill. Sparkles is a very early project that isn’t even symmetrical…but the fabulous blue sequence fabric and silk lining makes up for it.

MMM_9 May Angela dress

MMM_9May sparkles

Saturday 10th May: Eye Blue Scarf

A quick scarf that I made just the other day.

MMM_10 May eye blue scarf

Sunday 11 May: African Hope Wrap dress

Gorgeous brown lycra with an African embellishment. Pattern is the Hope Wrap Dress. (Maybe a little overdressed for the hardware store!)

MMM_11 May wrap dress

Monday 12 May: Green Bamboo shift dress

You’ve heard all about this one

MMM_12 May green bamboo

Tuesday 13 May: Ruffle back skirt

My own pattern (needs a fun name…), blue floral cotton twill from a fabric market in Sydney a while back.

(the picture doesn’t do it justice)

MMM_13 May ruffle back skirt

Wednesday 14 May: Nautical Kasia

BurdaStyle’s Kasia High Waist Skirt pattern with a navy and white woven polyester and red twill constrast.

MMM_14 May K skirt

That’s all for now folks.  See you soon.  Happy sewing and wearing.

Ziggi is a WINNER!!!

I am so excited to annouce that my Ziggi is a winner!  She won a prize for ‘Best use of fabric’ in the SewMaris and StacySews sew-along.  Check out the announcement at Sew Maris’ blog here.


All that stripe manipulating and orientation planning was well worth the effort.  And I’m so glad I made the push to finish the jacket in time.  What I didn’t mention previously is that I planned the stripe orientation quite thoroughly by sketching the stripes on copies of the pattern cover image to see if it got the ‘look’ that I wanted.

The other winner is Rachel of CoreCouture who made not one, but TWO gorgeous Ziggi jackets with meticulous craftsmanship.  Congratulations, Rachel!

Did I mention that I’m SOOO excited about this?! This is the first sewing-related ‘contest’ I’ve ever won!

So what do I win??? 

Chloe from Style Arc has generously donated the prizes and I get to choose a gorgeous Style Arc masterpiece as my winning pattern. What to choose…what to choose?  Do you have any suggestions?

I love the Catherine Dress. (image from Style Arc)


And the Alisha dress (image from Style Arc)


Or maybe something more wintery like Sammi or Sara…? (image from Style Arc)


I wish I had a reason to make (and wear!) the gorgeous Pippa dress. (image from Style Arc)


Without the guiding lights of SewMaris and StacySews to lead me through the rocky bits I might have to opt for a less that “Experienced Sewer” pattern.

Have you tried any of the Style Arc patterns? Which ones are your favourites? Do you have any suggestions on which one I should pick?  I’d love to hear from you.

From the Back of the Closet: Two green dresses sitting on the wall

These two dresses are fabulous pieces that I love and wear a lot.  Both are probably past their prime but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.


The infamous Green Dress has made many an appearance at various do’s.  It can also be blamed (partly) for the resurgence of my sewing ‘career’ because it was thanks to the success of this dress that I thought “Hey, this actually worked!  This sewing thing is cool!”  I cut the pattern off a friend’s dress and figured out things as I went along (some things better than others).  The fabric is a lime green cotton knit from a fabric store in Cape Town.  It seems to be thicker and higher quality than a lot of cotton knits you find around the place so it drapes nicely and isn’t see through.  Thanks to the knot in the front, the neckline is a little risque … I do wear a cami if I need to be a bit more demure.

DSC_0321This dress has been worn by my sister, my cousin and a bunch of people.  And my husband picked it out as my favourite self made dress 🙂


(Trying to be a model…haa haa)

Pattern: Cut off a friend’s dress

Fabric: Lime green cotton knit from Fabric City, Cape Town

Alterations: Since I didn’t really start with a pattern, the whole thing was tweaked as I went along.  I don’t think I got the grain line right for the back panel and I could’ve made it a bit shorter…and the neck line a little higher

Do it again?: I SHOULD!


The Geometric Bamboo shift dress

This little shift dress was made using Newlook 6968 and made from a cotton with some stretch and a great geometric pattern.  It looks like a mixture between 80’s and Asian bamboo.  This is a great work dress because the style suits work but the fabric has a bit of a ‘wow’ factor…but not too much 🙂

I wear this dress a lot so I will need to make a replacement soon.  Pity I don’t have any more of that fabric!  My only critique is that the waist line is too high. I have since learned that I need to add 2cm to the bodices of my patterns to account for my long body.


Pattern: NewLook 6968

Fabric: Cotton with a bit of stretch.  Green and black print. Purchased from a little store in Knsyna, South Africa. The bodice is lined with white polyester lining

Alterations: I cut the neck line a little lower.  I should’ve accounted for this with a little bit of gape darting (for future reference) and next time I need to drop the waist by at least 2cm.  And reinforce the bottom of the zip.

Do it again?: Definitely.  I’ve already made another version of this pattern.  Next time I might make it up from my own block though.

Two great dresses…sitting on the wall.  And getting a lot of wear.

And yes…the photos were taken a while ago when I still had long hair.


Me-Made-May is underway

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and joined So Zo’s Me-Made-May ’14 extravaganza. I have watched Me-Made-May in awe from the sidelines but this is the first year that I am actually taking part.  This means is that I took the following pledge and the challenge it entails:

 ‘I, Mary of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one item of me-made clothing each day for the duration of May 2014’

(I did add the caveat that I would be forgiven for any repeated items…)

With the first week of May well underway, I thought I could begin sharing some of my outfits and experiences so far.

Thursday 1 May: Brown shift dress

This is an oldie but a goodie.  Made from brown pinstriped suiting bought from Fabric City in Cape Town and using McCall’s M5464. Even though I made it a few years ago, I still get quite a lot of wear out of it and it’s a great go-to dress for work.

MMM_1May Brown dress

Friday 2 May: Pebbles Coffee Date Dress

Another oldie.  This is in a fun ‘pebbled’ cotton and made from The Selfish Seamstress’s Coffee Date dress pattern.  I left off the ruffle and added a waist band.

MMM_2 May Coffee date dress

Saturday 3 May: Complimentary colours Sorbetto top

Collette’s Sorbetto top made from a lightweight cotton of purples and yellows in a fun geometric pattern from Tessuti.  I bound the arms holes and sleeves in purple binding.  Next time I’ll make the top a bit longer to account for my long body and I think I’ll use cotton biased binding that I make myself.  I should probably choose a slightly tamer print so you can actually see the pleat in the front


Sunday 4 May: Ziggi Biker jacket

Of course Ms Ziggi had to get her turn.  And what better outing than to a jacket pattern-making day!


Monday 5 May: Green Silk ruffle top AND Silver Paper bag skirt

For the top I used Simplicity pattern 2026 and gorgeous bottle green silk from Tessuti. The top feels so great on the skin (but is a bit of a pain to iron). The skirt is a classic paper bag skirt made from a tutorial I found somewhere.  The fabric is a silk-wool blend I believe (is that weird?) also from Tessuti’s remnant table…love that place :-).  I love the fabric but I’m not wild about the paper bag style. I feel like it doesn’t do anything for me.  I might take it apart and make it into a pencil skirt…

MMM_5 May green top paper bag skirt

So what have I learned to far?

1. I have to iron more:  Many of my Me-Made items are made from (beautiful) fabric that creases too easily.  Aahh what a dilemma…fabric snob that doesn’t like to iron!

2. I tend to make summer clothes (I think I’m secretly afraid of sleeves and trousers…) AND

3. May isn’t very warm in Sydney!

4. My pre-work self-takes in the driveway don’t give the best outcomes 🙂

But I’m not even a week in so we still have many more outfits to concoct and many more lessons to learn.  Stay tuned. And happy sewing and wearing.  Are you doing MMM ’14?  Let me know how it’s going.