Friday, July 15, 2016

A-line dress - Japanese pattern book

This dress started off as a thickly woven fabric floor mat made by Ikea and it was bought second hand from a thrift store. I liked the thickness and weave of the fabric and decided it would be pretty educational to try and work with it. I traced out my size from the japanese pattern book and in the end foiund there is something not quite right about the sleeve cut. I added a pocket to one side of the dress and used a black poly/cotton to reduce bulk. In hindsight I should have drafted a nicer pocket as it gapes a little and you can see the black fabric.

 I also used the black poly/cotton for the neckline facing and herringbone stitched it in place. This wasn't the best way to do it, but I found just sewing it to the seam allowances wasn't stopping the poly/cotton facing from rolling to the outside. This was my first project that I sewed with my new-to-me Singer industrial sewing machine and I found that the bite was too strong for this thick fabric and you can see the stripes distort around the neckline where I sewed the facing to the dress.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Looking after what you have

Reaching "peak stuff"

The point where I just don't think I could stand having anything more on top of what we already own. maintaining, storing, cleaning and living around so many objects is just exhausting. I have decided to do a list of  jobs that I need to either do myself or take to someone to do and this means spending more money.

What better way to decide if something is really worth keeping than to decide if it is worth enough to mean to spend my cash on to fix.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Recycled Handspun Wool Shawl and Sweater

I have started to learn to spin fibers and this came around because I found some handspun garments at thrift shops and decided to unravel them and turn them into something more suitable.This shawl was knit using a free pattern. I decided to just use up little scraps and first try spinning attempts on the fringe and just put it running up one side of the shawl.

Monday, February 1, 2016


I found this little black leather purse at the tip shop for about $1 and just loved the patina and knew it was quite old .

At a guess I would have thought it was 1940's or earlier. I had to clean the gunk off it which was actually quite hard seeing as it looked like a natural waxy substance. yuk.

I really wanted to keep this with the original patina, but with a protective nourishing coating and I think I have finally got there as the leather is now soft and supple.

Does anyone know anything about the age of this little purse?

Next project on the go... Cowboy boots! I had seen these at the tip shop quite a few times but the $25 price tag scared me off as they needed new zippers and had been repaired several times already. In the end the patina was what made me get them at a reduced price of $15. The next photos are the before photos and I have since removed the zippers and lightly cleaned these boots.

I feel obliged to fix these boots up! they have just been so well made and so crappily repaired so many times!!  they are sweaty, moldy, cracked and dusty as hell!

I am going to follow this tutorial how to clean cowboy boots there any tutorials you can't find on the internet?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Placket Obsession

While studying sewing and fashion design last year I really got obsessed with mastering plackets. They always seemed mystical and unachievable. I decided while I was under the supervision of my expert teacher I would design clothes to sew that basically just involved all the things I wanted to learn(not very creative hey?) . I made a striped shirt with a chevron yoke, a placket and a mandarin collar. I drafted the whole thing from the blocks at school and with the help of my teacher. I would definitely call it a popover top. While this top itself isn't prefect, it was however the perfect way to learn about plackets, stripe matching and how to manipulate darts.

But still...I'm not over my placket obsession. I love the utility look of them and how they give garments structure.

And then something happened that was possibly the best buy I have ever made.

I bought an industrial sewing machine!

YAY I don't have to look at my old machine ever again....curse you Janome ! making me suffer with your awful machine for so long.

I am now the happy owner of a Singer 591D 200AF :-)

Plus I also bought an industrial blind hemmer that was being sold cheap if I bought the industrial as a package.

Anyway at the moment I am enjoying working 3 days a week and sewing as much as I can every other day. I have been practicing plackets after drafting a one piece placket template based off a mens heavy cotton drill shirt I own. I made a one piece placket but then I found the image beneath with a better way to do a placket suitable for thicker fabrics, so I need to make a pressing/cutting template for this method as well. p.s I need to pay particular notice to the way the seam allowance isn't pressed even on the ends to allow for the thicker fabric and to prevent bulging uneven corners.....sewing gold that info is !

This is a HUGELY helpful image reposted from

Interestingly the seam allowances are quite wide underneath the placket...I think this is too give stability to the buttonholes or do they use them to line up the buttonhole machine?. the topside of the placket is 3cm wide with 1.7cm seam allowances so, I guess the button hole is at 1.5cm(central on the 3cm topside of the placket) and the 1.7cm seam allowance would give it extra thickness for the buttonholes.

The top stitching is at 9mm and then at 2mm edge stitching, this really gives the cotton drill a utilitarian look as it ages.

I will take some photos and might even draw up the placket for download if I can find a free program online:-) I am also planning on drawing a template for the big utilitarian pockets with their 45 degree corners, big flaps and 9mm top stitching.

This is going to be my go to set of templates for thick fabrics!  might have to try it out in denim cause I think it will looks great!

imagining a ulitarian popover dress with big pockets made out of a beautiful wool is making me wish I could afford enough wool! photo: refinery29 Alexander Wang

Also trying to think of a way of making a raglan dress with contrast wool sleeves as a way of using up my 1m lengths of various plaid wool yardages. contrasting plackets might be a good way to use scraps? or pocket bands? and cuffs? not sure what sort of fabric I can pair the plaid with. Sometimes I really wish I could just go somewhere and purchase what I need! rather than scratch around in second hand stores for pieces of wool that are too small.

The place I am finding the best inspirations is mens vintage work wear, womens 1940's workwear, J. Crew, Toast, Emerson Fry, Lee Mathews, Ralph Lauren (always!)

gorgeous dress from Massimo Alba

NLST S/S 2014

Sunday, May 10, 2015


 What is Underlining?

Underlining is a layer of fabric that is cut closely to the main fabric of a garment. It is handled together with the fashion fabric as one piece during manufacturing. Underlining provides body and strength to a fabric that may otherwise be too sheer,weak or too drapey for the desired garment. Underlining can also be used in conjuction with full or partial lining.

Step 1. preshrink/pre-launder fabric for underlining.
(NOTE: This step is very important!!!)

- good choices for underlining include:
 good quality cotton batiste(lightweight fabrics including lightweight wool), cotton broadcloth(medium-heavy weight fabrics), silk organza.

Step 2. Trace and cut out fashion fabric pattern pieces. Read the threads article and adjust underlining for turn of cloth. Cut out underlining and hand baste to WS of fashion fabric.  Threads Magazine- understanding underlining

Step 3. Make all marks needed on underlining through all layers by using tailors tacks. (note: on the sew bussted video it shows the darts sewn together by hand basting.) another tecnique for marking the darts is to sew a row of basting stitch through the center line of the dart and to also mark the outside legs of the dart.

great video- Sew News- Decadses of Style Sewalong with Rhonda
(underlining pattern pieces)

Here's a good article on how to hand baste if you have never done it before!