Lined Yaletown dress for summer days

I made this dress a while ago, but like so many of my projects that end up in the cycle of wear, wash, repeat I didn’t get to take any photos and didn’t get around to blogging about it.  Back when I made the Saltspring in Blue, I had been eyeing out Sewaholic’s Yaletown pattern as another great option for a breastfeeding mom who needed work clothes to be a bit more forgiving for a few months.

The pattern came together really easily and I love the stretchy waist line and no zips or buttons! I didn’t include the button closure at the front for ease of access for nursing but I also quickly realised that I would need to wear a camisole underneath.

The fabric I used was a lightweight poly cotton from the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney and although the fluttery-ness of the fabric goes well with the pattern I am disappointed that it’s not 100% cotton.  I can definitely feel the difference. (Oh dear…turning into a fabric snob!).  The fabric is also rather see-through so early on I realised I would need to line the dress.  At least the skirt portion.  My decision not to line the bodice went hand-in-hand with the always-where-a-cami idea.

With the lined skirt came in interesting dilemma of how to deal with the in-seam pockets.  Does one make pockets in the outer fabric AND the lining and make sure it all lines up?  Do the pockets somehow float between dress and lining?  Or do you make a slit in the lining so that pockets can be tucked through the lining?  I’m not sure what standard practice is in this situation but I went with the last option: split the lining for a section of the side seam, finish the edges and let the pocket poke through.  This seemed like an elegant enough solution and it seems to work well for me without unnecessary bulking up of the fabric.

The pattern includes a fabric belt but the dress also looks great with a wide belt tight around the waist.

Pattern: Sewaholic’s Yaletown Dress

Fabric: Lightweight poly cotton from Remnant Warehouse in Sydney

Alterations: I lined the skirt portion and didn’t put the catch or closure on the front cross over and just prefer to wear a camisole underneath.

Do it again: If I find the right lightweight PURE cotton.

Made by me gifts

When I have the time, I really like to make my own gifts rather than finding something at the shop.  As well as being thrifty (sometimes) and creative (sometimes!), I like to think the time, effort and love that went into the gift is more than it would be if I’d bought the gift and… it means I don’t have to go near a mall – a huge bonus for me!

Christmas is usually crunch time with many many gifts to make, buy, think of.  This past Christmas, I managed to make quite a few of the family gifts for the women (women are so much easier than men!) and my go to idea was a zipper pouch.  I made some in cotton Shwe Shwe off cuts and then also some in a cream canvas that I had hand printed with the girls previously as part of an “art project”.

The pouches are all lined (sorry no picture). The Shwe Shwe ones are lined in bright green cotton and the hand print ones are lined in PUL left over from my nappy making.

The pattern is basically one that I’ve figured out as I went along but there are hundreds of tutorials out there and I particularly like the ones by Ros from Sew Delicious because they are clear with great pictures and it looks like she’s made a few thousand pouches in her time!

When I started running out of time and energy for sewing zipper pouches (and realised that my family has increased in size since I’ve returned to South Africa!), I fortuitously came across some plain canvas shopping bags.  I them snapped up and had lots of fun making hand prints with the girls.  I did consider trying to be a bit more creative (I’ve seen fun versions where hands are turned into owls, feet into butterflies etc) but my artistic skills weren’t going to extend that far.

Here’s little B demonstrating how it’s done: 

The gifts were very well received and I had fun putting them together.  Now for ideas for this year…?

Chevron hand-printed Christmas Tops

For Christmas, I wanted to make outfits for the girls but of course I was quickly running out of time and my sewing agenda was focused on Christmas presents and christening dresses (more on that later).  I was cute Christmas tutus in the shop and thought “I can make those” but my smart husband made me realise that the time and fabric cos would be far more than just getting them at the store…which is what we ended up doing.

Nevertheless, I was determined to add my own little bit of spice so, after the success of the Halloween t-shirts, I decided that painting Christmas t-shirts would be fun.

But this time I also wanted to get the girls involved in helping me make the shirts :-).

I used electrical tape (only because I didn’t have any masking tape) to tape off a chevron design…

…got the girls geared up in the their Ikea ‘hazmat’ suits (fantastic plastic coverall aprons) and set them loose on the t-shirts with hand printing.

Our lack of green paint meant that our Christmas Tree design came out quite red with a bit of blue in there too.

I peeled off the tape, added a stenciled yellow star (not pictured), and voila! We have modern, designer chevron Christmas t-shirts!  It was a really fun project and so great to get the girls involved in the creation.

Twinkle Twinkle Halloween outfits

Despite all the current chaos in our lives, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make something cute for the girls for Halloween. 


I was inspired by a cute onesie I saw at Cotton On but they stopped at size 12mo so my big babbas weren’t gonna squish into those. So of course I decided to make them! 


I have never screen printed anything or even done much in the way of fabric painting but after this debut, I’m hooked! Why didn’t anyone mention how fun it is to paint stencils onto fabric?! I got some fabric paint from the hardware store plus some contact plastic (the heavy duty type you use for drawer liners) and then two plain white vests.  

I drew some test designs (ok I traced from the screen of my phone!!) and then cut them out of the contact plastic with a craft knife. I stuck the plastic onto the fabric and painted using a sponge to dab the paint on. Let it dry and voila! 


Next was to create the text for my Twinkle t-shirts. A little more difficult and fiddly but I got it to work. Same procedure but just made sure the yellow star stayed away from the black paint. I reused the same stencil for both shirts and it worked fine to use the same one twice. In my early experiments I used he same stencil multiple times and I think the limit it three times. 


And voila! Two little Twin(kle) tops!

I made sparkly skirts to go with them. A simple circle skirt with while fold over elastic sewn in at the waist band. And the fabric didn’t even need a hem! Hoorah! Super easy and fun and my little ‘B’ loves her skirt! Little ‘A’ who is still crawling doesn’t love it as much 🙂


Our short trick-or-treat escapade was a fun little outing. And I had to show fellow twin mom the shirts.



I’m definitely keen to try more screen printing! I’m not sure I can even classify his simple stencil paint job as screen printing but it’s fun nonetheless.

Super Snug Sleep Sacks

When we first arrived in Cape Town from Sydney I was reminded that June in Cape Town is COLD.  My little bunnies were freezing in their camp cots on the ground and they were quickly getting too big for their sleeping bags. So, of course, the solution is not to go out and buy a replacement but rather make new sleep sacks. (Why do we do this to ourselves?!).

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Armed with my mom’s ancient, but immensely reliable, Elna Lotus sewing machine and a bit of internet research I started the process of making sleep sacks. I checked out DIY Mommy’s cute fleece version  and Small Dream factory’s instructions as well as measuring off our existing sleep sacks and scaling them to bigger sizes thanks to this chart that I can’t seem to find the original source to.

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For the one, I chose a fun orange ladybird cotton and a yellow monkey/cupcake flannel for the lining and the other one is a purple dog print on the outside and blue farm animal flannel on the inside.  I spent quite a bit of time looking for the right batting. I really wanted organic cotton but it’s really hard to find.  And I really didn’t want synthetic but that’s the most common batting around.  Eventually I settled for a pure, rough, wool which at first I thought was a bit dirty and not pristine enough for my babies, but as I got to know the material better I started to love the bits of Karoo bush and tiny twigs mixed in with the wool.  I imagined the happy, free-roaming sheep gladly giving up their winter coats and was pretty certain that no chemicals or major factory processes went into the making of the wool batting.

I drafted the pattern and from the beginning wanted a zip on the side to avoid zips scratching little chins and necks. I cut out the fabric for the first sleep sack and after consulting with hubby (my design consultant), we decided the neckline and arm holes looked too small. So I made cut them a bit bigger.  But…we wrong…after I made up the sleeping bag and tried it on a munchkin, we realised that the neckline and arm holes were now too big!  So for sleep sack number 2 we went back to my original design. And now we have one that’s a little looser than the other.

Sewing the sleeping bags wasn’t the easiest task mainly because of the batting.  I first sewed the batting onto the lining with parallel stitch lines and quickly realised that I needed another layer of fabric between the outer and the batting to stop ‘threads’ poking through the outer layer and also to help with the sewing. Next I sewed in the zip, turned it all the right way around and then finally added biased binding along the top edges of the sleep sack.  The very final step only took place about 3 months later (ie a few days ago) when I added the snaps into the shoulder straps. Until then I just used safety pins which worked ok but I much prefer the snaps!

I am pretty happy with how they turned out and they have definitely worked in keeping the girls snug in winter.  I am also much happier with the snaps that the dodgy safety pins.  Now with summer well on its way, I’ll have to think about making some cooler ones for warm summer nights!  It’s never over is it?

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And the twincesses FINALLY have their proper cots back and are out of their travel cots after 3 and a half months of waiting for our shipment to arrive!

Pattern: My own Sleep Sack pattern based on internet research and existing sleep sacks

Fabric: Printed cotton outer, lightweight cotton inner liner, pure wool batting, cotton flannel lining, zip and hand made complementary bias binding

Alterations: On the orange one I made the neckline and armholes bigger…mistake.  Stick to the pattern!

Do it again: I might have to make summer ones next!

A big move and a small sewing project

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Apologies for the radio silence from me. Not only have I been juggling twincesses, full time work and general wifing, domestic goddessing (or not) and pure survival but back in June, we moved across the world. For anyone who has done this with small children, you can hopefully understand the complete chaos that we lived through and are still living in!  Needless to say, we made it safely across to the beautiful Mother City of Cape Town and are slowly finding our feet and building our nest. But all fun sewing projects are on pause and I’ve just been fixing blinds, sorting out things for the girls and just general boring “admin” sewing.

For now, all I have to share is a quick fix fitted cot sheet that I made in haste when I realised I only had one fitted sheet.  I was given a lovely flannel receiving blanket complete with crochet edges as a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law.  It was a good size for our travel cots (yes my dahlings have been sleeping in travel cots for months!) and with a quick addition of elastic zig-zagged along the edges, I had a great fitted sheet that works a charm!

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Sew Must Go On: Forgiving Floral Shirt

Soon after the birth of the munchkins I realised that I needed many more button down shirts for quick nursing access.  Also all those cute little nursing for discreet breastfeeding weren’t really going to work with the twin feeding that was taking up most of my time.  As much as I like my pattern for the Lesley blouse, I figured, I needed something that was a bit more forgiving and hid some of the mamma ‘magic’ that was still sitting around my waist. And so the Forgiving Floral Shirt was born.

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The pattern is an adaptation of my Lesley Blouse: I left out the waist darts, made the sleeves less fitted and the cuffs not as wide (more normal!). Everything else is pretty much the same but I used quite a light interfacing for the collar and the lightweight fun floral makes a whole shirt much more casual.

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Needless to say, it took quite a while to come together and even longer to photograph and upload here but I think it came out pretty well and I enjoy wearing it.  The photos above makes it looks like the bottom doesn’t line up properly but I think that’s a function of not properly ironing the shirt (who has time to IRON??!!) rather than a terrible sewing faux pas – although it’s highly likely it doesn’t line up 100%. The other thing I don’t really like about the finished product is the button holes: I tried to forego interfacing on the button stand and instead fold over the front piece fabric to create some stiffness. But I think the fabric is too light for that and my button holes don’t look amazing. They work but they look a bit home-made…if you know what I mean?

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The fabric was a piece given to me that initially I thought was Liberty of London but I think it’s just pretending to be such high class!

Fun shirt…that I hope to wear more this winter.

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Pattern: My own Lesley Blouse pattern with a few key alterations

Fabric: Lightweight Floral cotton from the fairy godmother stash. Thought it was Liberty but actually think it’s just wanna be Liberty

Alterations: No waist darts, re-drew the cuffs to be narrower, less fitted; Double checked the shirt was long enough and the shaping at the bottom provided enough slit on the side.

Do it again: Perhaps…but watch out for the non-interfaced button stands if using lightweight fabric.