The lovely Gillian , who I discovered in Me-Made-May this year, has inspired many of us to post a li...

Best and Worst of 2012 & Reflections

8:10:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 7 Comments

The lovely Gillian, who I discovered in Me-Made-May this year, has inspired many of us to post a list of top 5 hits and misses.

Top 5 of 2012

Top 5 Hits

Sorry, linking to all of these kinda does my head in but you can find them all on my Completed Projects page I've linked the photo's to the original post :

Chiffon Blouse Simplicity 1872.

I was thrilled to tackle my first chiffon project and produce a wearable garment. It was also my first thing I've made using all french seams and I love not only how this looks but its robustness - I can chuck this in the wash and it comes out perfect, no fears of fraying or unravelling.

 Colette Jasmine, first of many...
The wonderful Jasmine. It needed a bit of tweaking to get a perfect fit, but I am very happy with the result. I am getting better at appropriate fabric choice and the result is a blouse I will be wearing for years to come.

Colette Peony
The Colette Peony represents a leap forward in understanding how to fit for my body. This is the first time I tried a forward shoulder adjustment on and I am amazed at how less than 1/2" can make such a difference. No wrinkles at the back sleeve!!!!  This dress is quite fitted but there is no tightness or pulling or tugging anywhere, despite the close fit in the bodice.

Simplicity 1880 my first sewalong
This dress is a win for a few reasons. One, I love it and wear it alot. Two, its my first sewalong dress, which I loved doing and learnt so much from. Three: I wasn't happy with the skirt and sleeves but by revisiting it and taking the time to fix it, I now have a dress that was "ok" but I didn't feel like wearing much, to one of my favourite makes.

Miz Mozelle
Finally, the Miz Mozelle.  I saw this online and knew it would work for me.  Its very comfortable and flattering to wear, a great "fat day" dress due to the elastic waist and forgiving shape but I also hand stitched the bias tape trim for a perfect invisible finish inside and out.  Its well made and I like the feeling knowing that gives me.

Top 5 Misses

Colette Juniper
I orginally posted flattering pictures of these pants but I really am not happy with them. They are too big in the crotch (I can grab more than a couple of inches if I do a Michael Jackson crotch grab), the fit is not great and I need to revisit and fix.  But I'm exhausted....I already spent so much time on them with what I have since found out is a drafting error in the pocket area.  I think I may just accept these are my major "fail" of 2012 and move on...but hey, nothing is really a fail is it, its all knowledge and experience, which is worth every minute.

Simplicity 2444
The dress itself is great.  The fabric's bad dye job bleeding pink into the white area was not.  Boo.  Still haven't summoned the courage to dunk in water again with a colour run fixer to attempt to fix it. I have since tackled it with some Dylon Colour Run Remover and it is much better so this is less of a miss now and more of a lesson in fabric choice and watching for colour runs.

Burdastyle Lydia top
My second Burdastyle Lydia top, which I made (panic sewing anyone?) as part of Me-Made-May-2012.  The fabric I used developed massive needle holes from the serger along the underarm seams when I ripped out a mistake.  I tried to fix by darning the holes but this top ended up in the bin.  It looked insect eaten.  A lesson on fragile fabric.

Drops Design Cardigan
My big crochet project this year.  The sleeves are too tight.  As this is a try on as you go pattern I have no excuse as I knew they were very tight but I pressed on regardless. Duh.  I need to either rip out and redo the sleeves completely or just put in the growing pile of "things I have crocheted that I will never wear".  I also would like this better a little shorter and with a plainer bottom band so I can wear with dresses.  I will probably revisit this in 2013 and turn it into a win.  It's got potential to be great.

A line skirt
It looks ok in the photo, but the waistband is WAYYYYYY too thick and bulky.  I didn't grade the seams (and I should have) or I should have used a lighter fabric for the waistband facing.  I need to revisit and fix before I will wear again.  The lining is not right either, I think its too long or was cut off grain as it sits strangely.  Anyway.  It needs work.  I have since seen some better ways of finishing off waistbands so they are not so bulky so its an easy fix.  I also have more understanding of using slippery fabrics so I will probably redo the lining as well.

And for some reflections

Sewing is a massive stress relief for me but I think perhaps it has got a little out of hand.  If I am not sewing I am thinking about sewing, reading blogs about sewing, planning my next sewing project or talking about sewing.  Avoiding real life perhaps??? In between I attempt to do everything else required of me as a wife and mother etc etc.  I promised my children that I was not going to sew for a whole week (arrgghhh) and my 6 year old danced for joy.   Oh dear, a bit of a sign, that.  Also she has been saying "you love sewing more than me" more than once over the past few weeks.  That's not a sign, that's mummy being hit over the head with a sledge hammer.  Balance is needed.  I sewed a circle skirt and a sleeveless jasmine blouse this week so that will be my last project for a couple of weeks.  I will be attending to some health issues and striving for better balance between the emotional, physical, creative and spiritual.  Its a juggling act, isn't it!

So that is me being rather pensive and reflective on this day only a couple of days away from the end of the year.  I'll be 43 in March next year and it will be my 15th wedding anniversary in August 2013.  For some reason both those numbers seem significant to me.  Life is rushing onward at great speed, I can hardly believe it.


I found this very good free online tutorial for a zippered makeup bag over at Flossie Teacakes and ...

Stash busting gifts

2:46:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 6 Comments

I found this very good free online tutorial for a zippered makeup bag over at Flossie Teacakes and then I found and immediately signed up for this free craftsy class for a slightly different style of zippered bag.

The result, of course, has been a total frenzy for making bags - its such a great gift idea and also as they can be made in virtually any size, a great way of using all those random fabric scraps that I can't bear to throw out.

This is the first one - the last time I made a zippered bag was in
high school which I worked out was about 25 years ago.

Then I went a little crazy and made a whole bunch of end of year teacher appreciation and such like gifts.

Left over fabric from my Peony dress

A little boy pencil case

And finally, the Craftsy class produced this lovely little zippered pouch.

The leftover fabric from my Simplicity 2588 Skirt

Now I don't get "crafty" very often so this was rather fun.  They took about 15 - 20 mins per bag and considering how appallingly expensive kids pencil cases are, I love that I can whip up a couple as needed for Olivia and her friends for the cost of a zipper.  Also, a girl can never have too many makeup/doo-dad bags so I know I can happily churn these out for friends. And because they are easy and cheap I won't feel bitter (loved this post BTW, made me laugh and I completely relate) if they are not liked/appreciated.  Its a win/win!


When I start anything new that I don't know much about, I am a bit of an obsessive researcher. ...

Helpful Links: Sewing with Chiffon

4:11:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 1 Comments

When I start anything new that I don't know much about, I am a bit of an obsessive researcher.

Before I started my chiffon blouse, I scoured the internet for as much help as I could find in sewing with the difficult fabric.

Here are a few of the links I found that proved really useful and made a massive difference to the outcome of my first chiffon project.  The tips here all really work and I'm posting them so I don't lose them the next time I want to tackle a chiffon project.

First up, a Sanda Betzina tutorial.  Excellent.

Next, this Professor Pincushion tutorial (youtube video), also really helpful, especially about managing the puckering/tension problem that can happen.

These tips were also useful (

Also this, including a good rolled hem tutorial (thesewbox) (using a rolled hem foot - FYI I actually ended up doing it using a normal foot by turning under and sewing a narrow hem, trimming close to the stitching - carefully - pressing, and then turning under and sewing a second narrow hem and then pressing again.  It took longer but I felt it gave a better finish as the hem was a full circle and was very curved, I couldn't get a nice even feed using the rolled hem foot).

and of course, Threads Magazine has some great tips.

Most of the tips in the three links above are the same, and I can certainly say, you have to pay attention, they all make a huge difference to the finished result.

And of course, press, press, press.  Pressing the seams at each step helped to remove any remaining puckering (and there was quite a bit of puckering, although much less when I applied all the information above) and gave a nice flat finish to each seam.  I first came across the term Pressinatrix on the wonderful poppykettle blog and I am also now a definite convert.


After finishing this pattern for my first ever sewalong , I wore it a few times and was really bu...

Simplicity 1880 Revisited

11:41:00 a.m. Sew Hopeful 3 Comments

After finishing this pattern for my first ever sewalong, I wore it a few times and was really bugged and rather perplexed by how the fabric at the front (and back) centre seam "pooled" in a really odd way to form a fold of fabric on either side of the seamline.

Simplicity 1880 with odd fabric fold/pooling at centre seam.

After I adjusted the skirt, no strange folds
I have noticed it on many of the other dresses from the sewalong, so it is definitely a pattern thing not a fabric thing.  Sunni noticed and commented on it as well and it seems to be an issue with the grainline on the skirt pieces.
I bound the armhole seams with bias because I was loving how amazingly neat it made the inside of the dress as I didn't line it.  After wearing it a few times I found that the binding makes the armsyce too bulky and rather uncomfortable to wear, plus I found the sleeves just ugly on my arms, kinda a wierd sticky-outy cap sleeve with too much bulk as they are double layered/self lined.  I love the cap sleeves with the wrap dress version though so I think that they just didn't work for me with the shirt dress.

Cap sleeve
Replaced with shirt style sleeve, much more comfortable.
So I had a "spare" couple of hours today so fixed the dress.  I took in the skirt centre seam front and back starting at a whopping 6" at the hem, tapering up to nothing at the waist (just a straight line) - basically sewing up the line where the fabric was folding naturally.

I unpicked the sleeves and then used the 3/4 length sleeve version I had originally cut to replace them, cutting off and heming for a sleeve that I think looks much better with the skirt style of the bodice.

I'm much happier with the finished dress, yay for being able to revisit old projects and tweak to make it just the way we like it!!

I kept the hem the same.

My original post about this dress is here.


  I fell in love with this Cynthia Rowley pattern ages ago and even had a chiffon in my st...

Simplicity 1872 Chiffon Blouse

7:13:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 13 Comments


I fell in love with this Cynthia Rowley pattern ages ago and even had a chiffon in my stash that I knew would be perfect but lacked confidence at tackling the scary fabric.

Blurry photo, darn auto focus...
 Well, I did it!!

This is by far the most technically challenging thing I have made so far.  This pattern itself is easy and a delight to sew but the chiffon added a whole other level.

I made View A in a Size 6, even though I measured at a size 12, this pattern has 6" of ease!!! As I am small busted and it has an open neckline I knew I could safely size down for a less "swimming on me" look, although I think I went a little too far and next time I will cut an 8 or even a 10,  depending on the fabric.

The only change I made to the pattern was to extend the sleeve ties about 1.5" as a few people on PatternReview mentioned they found them a bit short.  Shockingly, I made NO OTHER ALTERATIONS at all to this pattern.  None. Zip. So exciting to not spend hours on the fit.  Consequently this project was quick, and sewed up fast.  

My firsts on this project:

  • First time all seam finishes were french seamed.  This top can be worn inside out , the inside looks lovely. :-)
  • First time sewing with chiffon!!
Interesting sleeves.
It's just pinned here but I've since added a
clear press studd to hold the front closed.
 I am wearing this blouse with my new Burda Jenny Skirt.


I've been eying off the Burda Jenny Skirt for a while ever since I did a Google Image Search o...

Burda Jenny Skirt

2:14:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 2 Comments

I've been eying off the Burda Jenny Skirt for a while ever since I did a Google Image Search of this pattern and was struck on how lovely it looks on everyone.

Burdastyle Jenny Skirt
I came into a fabric stash bonanza last week when my husband went to Vietnam on a business trip and went out of his way to go to the fabric district/street and went fabric shopping for me.   Having no idea about fabric he sent me a few bewildered text messages while I frantically tried to point him in the right direction via telepathy.

Anyhow, he managed to do an excellent job.  I have enough fabric to see me out for a few projects.  Love that man, I really do.

One of the pieces he bought was a length of what feels like a stretch twill/drill in a dark olive green/khaki.  Not sure of fabric content.  It feels nice, and a natural fibre not synthetic. 

I printed off my Jenny pattern and set to work.  I had just enough to make the skirt but not cut the waistband on the bias.

I am loving this pattern, I did make a couple of tweaks...

- I tapered the skirt in a little from hip to hem, about an extra 1/2" for a total 2 inches overall.

The red line is the new side seam tapering in for a
more fitted pencil skirt.  I also halved the waistband width.

- I only cut 1 of the waistband pieces and then folded it over to make it half the width as I didn't want the really high waistband look.  The top was siting out from the body a little too much so I pressed the fold so I had a clear crease and then stitched some cotton tape next to the fold mark, pulling the tape as I stitched and easing the waistband in as I went.  This worked so nicely: it stabilised the waistband beautifully and also brought it in snugly against my body for exactly the fitted look I was after.  Will do this again.
- I added a back vent as per Sunni's tutorial, a much classier look.  Sunni has also done a pencil skirt sewalong which is brilliant.

Waistband finish
Back vent and hem finish.

I used some leftover silk bias strips to finish the waistband so I wouldn't have bulk from turning the seam under and also to finish the vent seams and hemline, which just looks pretty on the inside.  I didn't line it as I wanted to fit it closely and take advantage of its natural stretch unhindered by lining.  It is a heavy weight fabric so sits well without lining although I may go back and add some later (maybe cut on the bias so it has stretch as well??).

This skirt has my best fitting waistband yet.

Closeup of my butt - invisible zipper and I love the classy back vent

This will definitely be my TNT pencil pattern.  I plan to make a few versions as I really love this look, plus its such a great quick and easy project to knock out, which was a relief after the many hours I spent fluffing about with my Juniper pants.

My firsts for this project: 

  • First back vent
  • First time using binding to finish waistband facing instead of turning under.
I'm wearing it here with my new Simplicity 1872 blouse.


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