My new sewing companion

1 Oct 20150910_121015

Almost a year ago I lost my sewing companion and bestest friend of 15 1/2 yrs.

It killed my blogging mojo, not least because so many of my sewing photos starred Madame Hat. Or simply just reminded me of her. It’s been a painful year where my heart is concerned. I’ve missed her terribly. I will for a long long time to come. Her pawprint on my heart and my life was huge.

Within a few weeks of losing Hattie another feline took over my life. The vet said this was normal – people who lose a loved pet usually get another one within 3 weeks. Seriously? Yes, apparently.

‘Im takin over ur chairz and ur hartz!’

I went to the RSPCA animal shelter about 2 weeks after Hattie died, to simply pat the cats there, to remind myself there were other cats in the world even if my heart was far too sore to contemplate a new feline companion.

But you see, we have a rowdy dog who believed cats are Things To Chase (Hattie loved this. An excuse to bash up something!) Any cat that can handle such a dog has to have a certain aplomb … And at the shelter a tiny grey and apricot kitten unceremoniously pushed her bigger brothers away from the food bowl and devoured it all herself. Then she then curled up on my foot and fell asleep.

Of course I had to take her home!

I picked her up off my foot, snuggled her close and asked if she’d like to come home with me and be my new Sewing Companion. She purred.

Was this a yes or no?

The shelter worker assured me the kitten’s ambivalence was simply because she didn’t know what a Sewing Companion was, but was confident she’d soon figure it out.

I named my new little overlord Ma’at, in the family tradition of giving cats Egyptian names.

Ma’at’s baby photo (Don’t mind the butterfly decal on the mirror!)

Her first forays into sewing companionedness was batting bobbins around. Then thread reels. Then unpickers. Then more thread.

Then it evolved into playing with all my sewing things – after tossing them all onto the floor.

She soon discovered the joy of pulling the pins out of my pin-cushion with her teeth and tossing them on the floor too. So the pins now live safely locked away in a tin container…

Eventually she got the right idea. Here she is practising being a pattern weight on the thick paper I draft patterns on. She has since successfully graduated to  ripping weighing down delicate pattern tissue paper over 40 yrs old.

Here she has mastered the art of adorning fabric to enhance it’s beauty.

Here her head has fallen off the board while she’s fast asleep, bringing a new twist to the Essential Sewing Companion Skill of sleeping on the ironing board.

And the most important sewing companion duty of all, photo-bombing my sewing pictures. Most photos show her blurred because unless fast asleep she’s perpetually in motion – invariably up to some mischief. (Another nightie, from Micheal Miller flower fairies, using Simplicity 1898)

Miss Ma’at’s chosen chair is the sewing chair. When I want to use it she refuses to relinquish it.

She’s also become a rather good ballet dancer, having been taking lessons with me for almost a year now.

After Madame Hat’s iron paw,  you might think life with such a little cutie is easier. No. She’s a real handful. As my mum put it ‘A little cat with a huge personality’. (She’s never grown very big). She’s a larrikin – a HUGE larrikin in an itty bitty cat-shaped body. She’s so inquisitive and interactive that, combined with the larrikin attitude, she’s always in some misadventure or other. She’s almost a year and a half old now, yet the misadventures still come as thick and fast as they did the day I brought her 3 month old self home.

So much so I’ve come to realise that Ma’at is not named after the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. It is, in fact a contraction of the name ‘Mad Cat’😀

Sunkissed sweethearts shorts

2 Aug

My first make from Wearing History patterns and definitely not my last! I’m going to use the questions used for the Vintage Pattern Pledge as a template for the post, coz I liked them🙂

Pattern details

Wearing History 1940’s Sunkissed Sweetheart separates

A top, sarong-skirt and shorts. Here’s what the website says about them:

This pattern is for playful 1940s tropical separates including tie top, shorts, and a sarong skirt.  This pattern was inspired by an original 1940s pattern and has been built on a vintage block but has been updated for an improved fit, easy to read pattern pieces, and brand new step-by-step illustrated instructions.

The blouse has short sleeves with gathering along a curved seam forming a faux yoke. It ties at center front right below the bust.
The shorts hit at the natural waist and have the same accent gathering along the curved seam at each hip. The extra gathered fabric creates a graceful and playful line, perfect for warm summer days!
The sarong skirt is a wrap skirt, and at the front, tying at the inside hip, then wraps and ties at the left hip. The gathers create graceful draping. This can be made in a short for daytime or long for evening.

And it’s pretty much what it says on the packet. I bought the e-version of this and printed and taped it together. I made up the shorts, but I had a good look at the sarong-skirt and top too. I plan on using the top as a base for a button-up shirt one day.

The shorts are made using a semi-circle draft, which makes them much more swishy than the piccies make them look.

The pattern was well-drafted, well thought through, with easy to follow instructions. And the design so cute!

What attracted you to this pattern?

Well funny enough it was the top, not the shorts. As mentioned before, I want to make it into a button-up top, but keeping the gathered-yoke effect on the shoulders. So pretty! But in my life, shorts tend to be in high demand. So this image from the Wearing History site ended up being the one that really caught my eye.

And then I realised I had the perfect fabric for it, someone sent it to me as a stash-buster which was so lovely of them. It is a lilacy-pink rayon/linen blend with pretty same-coloured embroidery on it, with a lovely soft drape. It was a bit pinker than I thought it was based on photos of the stashbusting offer, which kind of put me off the fabric for quite a while.

But you know how it goes, the pattern and/or fabric can sit in your stash for ages and ages and suddenly, the moment you know exactly what you want to use it for, it practically sews itself up while you’re still going ‘Heeeeyy!!! Great idea!’

And this was the case with the shorts. I don’t have just the right fabric for the top yet. I presume when I do, it will be sewn up almost before I finish thinking how great that fabric will look in the top pattern ;-P

Wearing History 1940s Sunkissed Sweetheart shorts.


Me stretching in the shorts. Showing the entirety of the front of the shorts. The subtle fullness created by the gathers is so pretty.

Wearing History 1940s Sunkissed Sweetheart shorts


As you can see, there’s a bit of pleating and excess fabric at the sides. Since it’s a circular draft, where the fullness of the circle falls is dependent on the shape of the waist seam. In other words, next time I’ll make the curve of the waistband over the front and back legs a bit deeper and the sides a bit shallower, which will help drape some of that fabric more evenly around the body. I am not sure if they’re drafted to get the excess at the sides, or in not putting on a proper waistband the waist of the shorts don’t sit on my body the way they were designed too. Don’t get me wrong though. These shorts are really lovely just as they are and on high rotation in my wardrobe. So is the (unblogged) shirt I’m wearing in these pictures actually. I’m so behind in my blogging!

Wearing History 1940s Sunkissed Sweetheart shorts

Sewing it up

I simply bound the waist in bias binding rather than do a proper waistband like the pattern has. It’s cooler that way.
Ok, so I was Nervous about the faux yoke, but it was well-drafted and the pattern instructions perfectly clear. It turned out to be ridiculously easy to sew. A note though: you can’t do much fitting of the side seams without mucking up the pretty yoke effect. Luckily the measuring I did of the flat pattern and comparing to my own measurements had worked well so I didn’t need to fit the sides seams, but I thought it would help to know that if you’re sewing the shorts yourself.

Also, see the pretty embroidery on the fabric? Nice!

Wearing History 1940s Sunkissed Sweetheart shorts


I used a pair of well-fitting trousers to fit the crotch seam. The original pattern’s crotch seam is low, and fairly shapeless, really, in keeping with the kind of crotch shapes used at the time. I prefer the modern sort!

I did another pair in a knit, and they just didn’t work, and weren’t going to work. I had changed the style from semi-circular to more straight-legged and that, and the combination of the fabric, made them look like dowdy little old lady shorts. *shudders*

Of course, in this photo the shorts look just fine, *rolls eyes* but I felt so dowdy in them there was no point finishing them. They’re now re-cut and half-made up into a pair of capri-length leggings!

Wearing History 1940s Sunkissed Sweetheart shorts

I have to laugh at my pose. Look at the outstretched arm. Yes, I do dance ballet!


I love this pattern! I’m sure I’ll end up sewing all three items eventually. And probably more than one pair of shorts from it as they are, like the pattern description says, ‘perfect for warm summer days’ and thus perfect for the tropics! The yoke is very feminine while still maintaining practicality in the best of 1940s style. And I’m very impressed with Wearing History patterns. Which is good coz they have heaps I want to buy and make up one day!

Flamenco dress dreaming

12 Jul

A few birthdays ago a dear friend gave me 6m of red cotton with 1cm white polkadots. It’s such a classic pattern I can only see it as a flamenco-inspired dress. I have another dear friend who lives in Seville, and have been looking through flamenco dress photos with her while I work out exactly what kind of dress I will make.

I am posting some pictures here, so I can assess each dress for what I like and don’t like to help me refine my ideas. Well, that’s my excuse anyway.

I’m informed by my friend that flamenco fashions change through the years (makes sense really!) and that this is Today’s look. For my own dress I really don’t like that extreme mermaid silhouette, the way the ruffles go remind me of toilet brushes.

This beautiful 1940s flamenco dress Vixen Vintage found in an antique store. Vintage Vixen put heaps of petticoats underneath to get the full ruffle effect.


Ok so I won’t be making a skirt like this bata de cola. I’m after a party dress, not a performance dress. But imagine wearing one like it on stage, dancing flamenco *happy sigh*.


Then there’s all the white wedding Flamenco dresses. Fascinating stuff.  I rather like the sleeves on this. I could see a good-quality lace ruffle on my dress perhaps.

Trajes de novia de inspiración flamenca con escote en


flamenco dress:


I could totally see myself making a floofy dress based on yet another Tina Givens style in my red polkadots, but my friend explained that although it would be a great dress, it wouldn’t be flamenco-y, which is a more formal style.


I was also thinking to ditch the sleeves. But again, my friend said although there are the odd flamenco dresses with no sleeves, mostly they have them. Even if it’s a ruffle around the shoulders and over the arms to give the illusion of sleeves.

flamenco inspiration:

I’ve noticed a lot of dresses have a scoop or wide v neckline or subtle sweetheart one. Princess seams are also extremely common. The bones of the dresses seem to be simple and classic.

The colours are usually fairly restrained, not in a pastel sense but in that they usually only have one or two elements eg red and white, or purple and black

Flamenca.PinIt : Anónimo de Piedra +34 664806309 VICTORIA Private tours and excursions in Barcelona, Costa Brava & Catalunya. Apartments in Barcelona. The best sightseeing tours in Barcelona and Catalonia. The most authentic places in Barcelona, medieval towns and castles.

And even though this has a number of different patterns, the overall effect is of blue and white

Fotografías Moda Flamenca - Simof 2014 - Mari Carmen Cruz 'Y... Sevilla' Simof 2014 - Foto 02:


You can however, find pictures of deliciously colourful dresses

+ QUE MODA FLAMENCA | Mamá de mayor quiero ser flamenca | Página 3:

And then there are the shawls! I love the shawls. I’m considering adding one as a kind of collar to my dress, like this – in fact I’m seriously considering making mine pretty much a red version of this dress, I love the style of it (well, and the colour too!) so much.

blue flamenco dress:

I like this one on the left. It isn’t too toilet-brushy, I like the shape of that skirt.

Pilar Verá 2016:


Well, no great conclusions but lots of ideas and eye candy.

Tina Givens Luella Tunic look-alike

13 Jun

This is the second Tina Givens look-alike I’ve tried to create. The first one I made I didn’t wear. It just didn’t do it for me for some reason, so I chopped it up into a pair of bloomer-style shorts. The problem was the style – just one of those things you try out and decide it isn’t for you.

Then I saw this post found through, and I decided it was well worth giving the Tina Givens look-alike thang a second go, especially as the weather was awful. In Darwin ‘awful’ weather means hot and humid and sticky and disgusting. Loose swingy flowing natural-fibre clothes are by far the best clothes for that weather.

Getting the sort-of-right look in the first dress was so hard I seriously considered just buying the actual Tina Givens Luella Tunic pattern. As well, I’d also recently concluded this dress just wasn’t as I’d really envisioned it, and sent it to the op shop, so I wasn’t feeling that confident with the whole trying to make look-alikes thang. Three points, however, decided me against buying a proper Tina Givens pattern.

  1. I’d made the free Tina Givens Plinka Pants pattern for a friend and the draft was so simple and er, essentially shapeless I didn’t want to spend money on a pattern like that.
  2. I read this post on Curvy Sewing Collective where the reviewer found the actual pattern so big and shapeless she essentially redrafted the fit using a good-fitting pattern of her own, though not the style, to make it fall more flatteringly. This thread on Artisan Square wasn’t exactly inspiring of spending that much $$$ on any of the patterns either.
  3. I’m stubborn and rather enjoy the challenge of trying to copy a picture from the internet, even if I don’t always succeed😛

So I took my favourite shift dress that I know fits well, adjusts easily and usually still looks good after adjustments. I applied it and my copying skills to some gorgeous peacock craft fabric from Spotlight And got cutting and sewing. Here is the result.

I cut it to fit within the width and length of the fabric I had chosen to use (2.2m of 112 wide fabric) so I essentially got the pattern out of 2.2m. It looks like the Tina Givens pattern takes a lot more fabric, so hey, I’m happy with mine. I can see there’s a bit of a ‘corner’ in the side seams in the original. I chose to not do that, going with a more streamlined side seam.

The overall result is a tunic top I wear so much that the moment it’s been laundered I’m wearing it again.  It’s cool, satisfyingly swishy and the fabric is just gorgeous irl. The piccies of the top itself don’t do justice to it so here is a picture of the fabric itself.

The neckline is high which helps keep the sun off my crazily fair skin, but as I’ve found with this shift pattern, the neckline isn’t too hot. It’s the perfect compromise between sun-sensible and coolness. Probably one reason why this is my go-to TNT shift dress pattern. I also made a little cut-on cap sleeve to keep the sun off my shoulders, rather than longer, hotter sleeves as in the Tina Givens pattern. The coral-red in the fabric just so happens to perfectly match the coral butterfly shorts I’m wearing with it in these photos. It looks lovely with the other coloured shorts and 3/4 trousers in my wardrobe too.

I’ve been in love with floofy dresses for a long time now, especially in the worst time of year weatherwise. Now I’m in love with floofy tops too! Especially when worn with shorts, they are the perfect antidote to stifling mugginess. So … I’ve cut up another length of fabric for another floofy top, this time the floofy coming from released pintucks. It didn’t work out as I envisioned so it’ll be a while before I have redone the top and write about it here. Don’t worry though! I’m having a lot of fun😀

I suspect that even though I am not inspired to buy any of Tina Given’s patterns I’ll still dream over them on her site. I mean hey, I can totally see myself in this dress…

Or this…


Adorably cute cat er I mean undies

20 May

I’ve been on a mission to sew cute undies. My favourite rtw ie the only ones I’ve found that fits me properly, are very short-lived and too expensive to keep buying them at the rate they keep dying.

Good thing I can sew. *phew*

I’ve been sewing mostly with woven fabrics as I have mostly woven scraps. It’s also a great excuse to buy 50cm of fabric I love but either can’t afford more of, or just reeelly don’t need to add to my stash.

In fact this fabric was one of those buys, made into the ‘sweet cotton panties’ pattern at gomakeme. It’s a really cute pattern, with the virtue of being cut on the straight grain, enabling you to squeeze it out of a smaller amount of fabric generally than bias-cut woven undies patterns. I adjusted the back to go under my buttocks, not in the ‘cheeky’ fit across them. I just prefer them that way, and I think they’re just as cute either way🙂


I’ve also been using up odds and ends of fabric from other makes that are such great prints I can’t let them go. This has a different application of leg elastic than above, I was trying out how soft lingerie elastic worked on craft cotton. Yeah, it does the job🙂


Another fabric I couldn’t let go.


I’m in love with these undies! They’re made from the bottoms part of this swimsuit pattern I got for 20c in the local op shop. I know I know, yes this pattern is for sale from anything like $30 – $60. Be jealous! I did have to size up a fair bit but changing sizes with undies is actually surprisingly simple.

Vogue 9230; ca. 1975; Misses' Swimsuit With Briefs and Hat. Lined-to-edge swimsuit has scooped neckline, cutaway armholes, close-fitting bodice, inset waistband extending to tie ends, peplum extending to side back, and detachable back panel with elasticized waistline. Lined-to-edge briefs have elasticized legs and waistline. Wide brimmed hat has six-gore crown, elasticized headcasing and topstitching. Purchased pre-gathered trim; purchased scarf. [insert your photos of this pattern made up]

Oh no wait, that wasn’t the undies! I’ll try again


Darn, still not quite. Lemme try again.

Aha, got it! This pattern is sooooo cutely retro. I love it. When sizing up I just had to make sure the width fit round my hips when I was sitting down, then extended the rise up to my waist, and it now fits, while keeping that cute retro look.

A bias-cut woven, finally! A tanga-style undies even. I made this one up myself, by using a knit tanga pattern I have and, er, I just cut them a bit bigger all round and was quite surprised when it turned out well, and perfectly comfortable.

I had a slight mishap first sew of the waistband though. I sewed them up with a twist between front and back. Oops.

Making my own undies is such fun🙂 I’ll post the knit undies in another post. Enough piccies in this one!

Vintage Suit sewalong

8 May

So yes, I’ve joined the Vintage Suit Sewalong, because my track record with sewalongs is just so good, and I desperately need a suit in my life, and need a vintage suit even more!

<returns to reality>

I’ve joined the Vintage suit sewalong because even though I don’t think I’ve ever properly completed any sewalong I’ve joined, I love seeing everyone else’s sews coming along, and the finished products. I really don’t need a suit (I need leotards! I’m doing so much dance at the moment.). And I need a vintage suit even less. But the other reason I joined? Well… I have this pattern:

Photo in paper pattern file - Google Photos:


Indeed I’ve had this pattern for a very very very long time. I believe it is actually my first ever op-shop vintage pattern buy. I also believe, if I’m recalling correctly, it was 20c. Hit me hard in my hip pocket this pattern did! Oh wait hang on, we’re back in reality aren’t we. Yeah 20c. No wonder I nabbed it😀 I haven’t sewn it yet. It is one of those patterns I’m sure I’ll sew one day. Maybe its time has come.

Let us take a look at the divine details:

A classic knee-length A-line skirt with two small darts in the front. I adore two small sweet darts instead of the usual boring tedious but perfectly serviceably single dart.

The jacket is a delightful length. Waist length, but just long enough no midriff would show as you move around. I have no problem with showing my midriff but I prefer to show it in the context of bellydancing, not so much an everyday context. But, but, but!!! That length of jacket would allow a nice swish of air round the waist. Inbuilt airconditioning is always a bonus in the tropics.

Behold the angled bust dart – I much prefer angled darts at the bust than boring, tedious but perfectly serviceable horizontal bust darts. The angled dart helps shape the waist of a garment without necessarily creating a curved waistline. It looks great on pinafore-style dresses too.

I don’t mind a notched collar. I’m not greatly excited by the pockets, mainly because all I can see of them is an extra few layers of fabric. HOT!!! so I’ll probably leave them off. And I like the sloping shoulders, considering mine are a classic coat-hanger-ish shape that requires more of a slope than most modern patterns have, to fit them properly

I really really like the fact this jacket won’t need a dicky or a camisole to be modest in the cleavage department. I won’t need to move the buttons up, coz believe me, there is no way I’ll be wearing anything under the jacket. That would constitute wearing more than one layer of fabric. HOT. Waaaay to hot.

Speaking of too hot, the sleeves are too long, so I’ll shorten them, and create a little summer suit of the style that I saw so many of in Brisbane’s CBD in summer when I lived there. Suits like these:

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I was, in fact, so in love with these adorable, short-sleeved suits that even though I didn’t work in a fancy office job in Brisbane’s CBD I made my own pantsuit out of a soft sage green ‘tropical’ wool randomly found in a dusty unkempt fabric shop in my local shopping centre. I wore it when I moved back to Darwin, too, because amazingly, that ‘tropical’ wool was cool enough to do so. For the record I used this pattern. So mid-90s! (hey, isn’t that vintage nowadays? ;-D)

I guess I’m trying to recreate that feel of being so put-together yet so well, er, suited, ahem, to the tropics. Having the experience of tropificying a suit pattern already, I feel equal to the task of tropficying my vintage suite pattern too. I’m considering making some trousers as well as the skirt – probably my usual 3/4 length ones, which could look quite cute with a short-sleeved matching jacket. Not sure though… Must think on it.

According to the Vintage Suit sewalong timetable, May is for muslining the suit. I’d better get on with it then!

Peasant dresses from Butterick 5130

5 May

I have a few makes from last year I haven’t blogged about. All the oomph went out of me when my beloved sewing companion HattieCattie died last year. It didn’t help that she’s all through my sewing pictures, making it painful to look through them.

Anyway, having recovered some of that oomph … years ago I made up the Butterick 5130 pattern (for knits).


I loved the dress and wore it to death, even though I was never greatly taken with the elastic halfway across the bust and back. It left me wondering kind of like er, why put them there???
So for last year’s version I simply eliminated that seam/elastic casing and created a simple empire-line peasant dress.

This would have worked well if the light knit rayon I used hadn’t been so thin you could see my bra underneath it (more obviously so in reality than in this picture), made worse by the weight of the dress dragging things down.

But the general idea of eliminating that seam worked well, so I redid the dress in a woven craft cotton. I measured the pattern before I cut it to make sure it would fit round me without needing stretch. It worked well apart from the sleeves being a tad too tight, but not unwearably so. (Look at the different lengths of my hair! One photo taken at the beginning of last year and the other taken at the end of last year😀 That’s a lot of added length for curly hair!)

I adjusted the sleeves and tried the new pattern out on a top. It is very comfortable now. I’ve since made another dress based on the pattern, too, but I lowered the under bust elastic to the true waist. I’ll have to blog about them both soon🙂

This pattern is a lot nicer than the pattern picture indicates, for the record!

Butterick 5130

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