bag front

Another foray into bag-making

My previous attempts at bag-making have been of mixed success, my Mum’s art bag has worked well but lacked a good finish, my Japanese knot bag for my Brother’s wedding was really too cutesy and I’ve not used it since.

This time I needed a bag to match my outfit for my Daughter’s valedictory evening, I decided a clutch would suffice for the ‘phone, keys, a hankie (I have a feeling I will cry buckets) and spare lippy. So off to the interwebs to find a pattern!

I settled upon the and went to work.

I confess I did not use stash fabric for the outside, I found this slubbed silk-look upholstery fabric at Spotlight and bought 30 cm of it for the princely sum of $2.10. The shop assistant thought it was silk, but it is actually viscose, cotton, poly mix; the colour is a dark grey which I thought would be a nice contrast to the pale grey of the dress I am wearing (and have yet to finish).

bag front

The most expensive things on the bag were the trim and the magnetic closure, it is lined with remnant Ikea sheet fabric and is stabilised with a heavy sew-in interfacing and a remnant of blue fleece for some padding. On the whole, I think it would have cost in total about $7 for materials, considering it’s luxe look and feel, I am thinking it was well worth it (especially as it was much more enjoyable to make than the weeding I had planned to do! bag inside

internal pocket It came together pretty straightforwardly (is that even a word?), the only alterations were that I made the bag slightly bigger and my strap is made of the main fabric and is long enough to be on my wrist and still be “clutched”.

My daughter’s comment was, “It’s wonky”, oooh grrr! It isn’t actually, it just needs a good press!


Long time no see..

It’s been a while I know. It’s not like I have been doing nothing, I just find the transitional seasons very tiring for some reason and Spring is always a big fat lie, the sun shines but it’s too cold to wear bright, light things. So brr, I have been in a bit of a fug.

I have done a bit of sewing in between work, household stuff, supporting two young people coming up to life- changing exams and a husband who has been in the depths of black dog despair. Malcolm Fraser is often quoted as saying, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”, but sometimes I do wish it was a bit easier.

Of course, what do I have to whinge about, really? I am not a refugee stuck in a detention centre wondering my future, I am not a Syrian father whose family has drowned trying to get to a better life, I am just a 52 year old woman trying to get by the best way I know how.

Anyway, I went down south to be with my Mother for a weekend and while was there I made the Gorgeous Gore skirt by StyleArc. skirt 1    more info here This is my second and it is a joy to make up, using stretch woven makes it just so easy and the personalised sizing means no fitting issues. The fabric is a stretch woven and I think it may be either denim or a very heavy twill, I bought it from Knitwit in Nedlands, my son wants a pair of shorts in it (apparently flowery pants are big with male uni students this year).

As far as the make went, I did go a bit overboard …I wanted as much of an invisible hem as possible, so I did a tailor’s hem in colours co-ordinating with the pattern of the fabric  tailors hem . It was no small task and it took a long time, as the six gores make for a lot of hem! When I had finished, I looked closely and found a few stitches that showed, I was so disappointed but was thoroughly fed up with the handsewing so they have stayed skirt 3, three stitches .

My daughter’s Valedictory Celebration is coming up in November, fourteen years of education will close that night and then we wait to see if she gets her preferred option for university in 2016. It is a stressful time for her as she prepares for “Mocks”  (the exams which are preparation for tertiary entrance exams) and, although she seems to be coping quite well, she is reporting that emotions are running high at school amongst the Year 12 cohort. The Valedictory Night will be a lovely occasion and the brief is “dressy, casual”…eh what? WTH fits that description??? Also, the night starts off with a late afternoon church service, then carries on with a formal dinner, speeches and prize-giving…aaaaagh, what to wear?

So I chose and am nearly finished making up the Muse Patterns Gillian Dress I thought a wrap dress in a beautiful fabric will do the trick and I still think it will. There have been a couple of issues with it though; the fabric is a very light jersey (I thought it was cotton but it could be modal or bamboo judging about the fineness of it) and does cling in unwanted places, this means a petticoat on the night will be necessary. Also, I have some gaping at the rear neckline, so I am planning on sewing a strip of clear elastic to the neck hem to remedy this problem. It isn’t finished, but I emailed a pic to Kat (the designer) so here it is, let me know what you think?  gillian with issues  I am tossing up between pearls or silver as the jewellery… or should I go with something more bold in colour to offset the muted tone of the grey and white spot? Opinions will be much appreciated, but remember, it is my daughter’s night to shine, not mine, so nothing too loud!!!


Nothing much really.

I have lacked energy lately, partly from having a head cold and partly because I am not at my best in the depths of winter. To be frank, I would rather be in my pyjamas drinking hot chocolate and reading, than going to work, being a taxi to school teen, making dinners, washing clothes and keeping the menagerie (human and non-human) happy.

I want a cave to escape into..

Apart from that, at the moment (and usually couple of times a year), I get a feeling that something momentous is going to happen. I recognise the signs these days, but in previous years the feeling was disconcerting to say the least. I get a hankering for nostalgia, I start thinking what ifs and I get generally fairly discontented with my life. This is not a great place to be. One of the states I strive for is contentment and on the whole I am fairly successful. I am grateful for the comfortable circumstances in which I find myself, I am healthy and really I should not complain about anything.

So where does this anxiety come from? When these feeling of change happen, I get a bit jittery, and bad-tempered, I long for younger years and different choices, it is a real “Sliding Doors” feeling, I fantasise and I wonder what the me in a parallel universe is doing right now.

MV5BMTI0NjExNDg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDMyOTA5._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_ Is she healthy? Did she pursue her ambition to specialise in Oncology and live in Melbourne?? Is she married, does she have children???

It’s all a bit silly I know and this little episode has been kicked into gear by watching a doco on Joy Division,


… ah I miss the days of clubbing 3 nights a week and having the energy to keep going all night and still go to work in the morning!


dressing gown 2

Don’t look at the pocket!!!

I mean it, just don’t (or if you do, wipe it from your memory!). dressing gown

My son at the ripe old age of 21, has decided his dressing gown of the last 7 years is too small and he asked if I would make him a new one, I mean, how much leg does a young man really need to show?

The problem was, he wanted it long and the patterns for men’s “bathrobes” were all cut off just below the knee. I know I could have just bought one and lengthened it, but that was not part of the plan…instead I bought the Lekala (women’s) kimono pattern! Of course, I had to put in “my” measurements and I cannot imagine what sort of Amazon they thought they had as a customer! One with a height of 185cm and an almost straight up and down body, I reasoned that a kimono can be worn loosely and so measurements did not need to be accurate.

The fabric is a heavy poly fleece from Spotlight, 3 enormous metres of it. I don’t like synthetics and I especially don’t like cheap synthetics, this was $10/m and I think the price was about right- it feels horribly plastic to me and very different to some fleece I bought from Knitwit years ago that was more than twice that price. Still, it was what he wanted and he is happy with it.

Men’s sewing is boring. There, I said it.

Lots of very long, straight seams, there was no challenge and little enjoyment in this project. It all came together quite boringly straightforward, except that dear son is ill and refused to get out of his sickbed and try the thing on. Eventually I guesstimated arm length, body length and (unfortunately) pocket placement. The pattern had in-seam pockets, but men’s robes have patch pockets, so I thought I would do the gender-specific thing and go with a patch. It is ridiculously low (yeah, I knew you would look at it). My problem now, is that he won’t let me unpick it and put it in the right place :(  He just doesn’t care enough about it, but I don’t want him telling anyone I made it either!

On the upside, the dressing gown is roomy, warm and soft, what more does it need to be?


The Lekala 5088 skirt, working with wool and a bit from Claire Schaeffer

So I made the skirt that Thornberry blogged about recently. 

I think Lara (Thornberry) and I have similar fitting issues; lack of height, lack of waist and a bit of a poddy tummy. I am not a fan of skirts for the very reason that my lack of waist means they ride up or slip down. For Lara to recommend a skirt pattern (and for it to be FREE!) was a great opportunity to deal with my skirt issues :)

It is Lekala 5088 and I just happened to have some lovely checked wool given to me by Mum’s cousin, all ready for the Monthly Stitch July Challenge. image4

image3 (evidence of poddy tummy with unfinished waistband)

The pattern looks very simple and it is, but as is my way, I made things a little more complicated for myself. Firstly, I wanted it completely lined. I have skin that is prone to itch, especially with wool right next to it, so not lining was not an option. I had some colour-matched poplin in my stash which worked perfectly. lining and hem

Secondly, I decided to finish it a la Claire Schaeffer’s book (Couture Sewing- Tailoring Techniques) which I purchased recently. Unfortunately, I had almost finished the skirt by the time I had bought the book, so this isn’t really a couture garment, more of a hybrid.

The wool frayed amazingly! I only had to look at it and it would shed threads, so all the edges had to be zig-zagged (I don’t overlock any more) prior to construction. On the plus-side though, it is very stable, there was no stretching anywhere and being yarn-dyed, meant that keeping to the grain was a piece of cake.

The construction was straightforward, I didn’t look at the directions as skirts are not rocket science. As far as Claire Schaeffer’s book goes, well I am very happy with the finish I used from the book, but I am also very glad that a DVD was included as the pictures are not that easy to follow… I used what she calls a Tailor’s Hem at the bottom, it is a hand stitched blind hem, a really nice finish. tailor's hem

I also pick-stitched the invisible zipper and am pretty happy with it. Invisible zippers are my nemesis, but I am getting better with each that I do, only hand sewn these days. skirt back The waistband has hooks and eyes, the button is purely decorative (but a nice touch methinks).

So here is my low-down:

Lekala pattern- easy and well-fitted at a great price ;)

Wool fabric- lovely to work with but prone to fraying

Claire Schaeffer’s book- a good resource that I will use to hone my finer sewing skills, thank goodness for the DVD!

All-round it is a winner!


Ah, books…

What are books to you?

To me, they go into the category of “wish never to have to do without”, along with cheese, blackcurrant juice cordial and vegetable soaps.

Yesterday I needed to go into Perth to get a book for my daughter (for school- she is a literature student) and I found myself in Boffins Bookshop. The smell, the courteous staff, the colours… ah heaven.

Times are a bit tight atm, but who can resist the magnetism of a good book or two? I had to choose, books Claire Schaeffer or Johnny Rotten? Both classics in their chosen fields, it was almost overwhelming… I bought them both (and put them on the plastic).

John is making me giggle and Claire is opening up new possibilities for me :)9148_2 (John by Richard Corman)