TNT: Blueprints for Sewing AFrame skirt

This November the Sewialists theme is TNT this is my contribution. TNT stands for tried and true it is that no fail versatile sewing pattern that does not disappoint. I do have a history of these and it is not unusual for me to make each of my favourite patterns a few times. I only came across Blueprints for sewing patterns in the last 12 months, I was initially excited about the Geodesic sweater and have made that only once so far ( but I intend to make it again). I decided to buy the AFrame skirt after seeing it worn buy Taylor the Blueprints for Sewing designer. I love the pockets and decided that an A line skirt would be great o have in my work wardrobe. I work as a secondary school math teacher and really like to have pockets to keep my iPhone securely in. I love the unique way the skirt front and back are pieced it gives a great vertical line that I think is quite flattering. The instructions are very clear and this pattern is very easy to put together.

This is my first version made in a combination of Outback Wife barkcloth and Maker Maker linen. This is version 1 of the AFrame which is the straight pencil silhouette.

The second two versions are the more flowing version two which is more of an Aline shape, the front centre piece is cut on the bias to increase the feminine shape. The plain blue purple is a light weight linen. The patterned on is a light weight purple okay. Love the length and the shape.

The last is a magenta linen that is quite crushed because I have been wearing it all day! I celebrated the return of my Bernina from being serviced by trying out a lot of fancy top stitching… anything but straight stitching. This is the version one again.


The Laneway dress

This is another superb design from Jennifer Lauren Handmade. I found it a quick easy sew. The pattern is very true to the measurements, so I made the size 18 with the B cup front. I really wanted to use this green, purple and brown African wax fabric and decided to cut the skirt with the linear design going vertical and then cut the top and sleeves with the design going vertically, I went for a purple contrast facing (this piece I found in my quilting fabric stash). I have to have pockets in my clothes these days …. so I can carry my phone with me all day at work! These pockets are great and are sewn into the waistline as well as the side seam so they should be super strong!

This is going to be a fun dress to wear!

I decided to put a press stud under each corner of the collar so I can undo it when I iron. Because the collar is asymmetric and one side is larger than the other I stitched a large beaded button on the large side and then took apart another button and stitched three of the beads from that button on the smaller side.

I picked up this beautiful zip for a dollar from the Alannah Hill clearance store in Fitzroy, I looked up the directions and sewed it so the satin and metal as well as the gorgeous zip pull was a feature. This fancy zip pull looks great and is real easy to reach to undo. Very pleased.

I am 165 cm tall but prefer my dresses to be below the knee, so I added 3 inches to the hemline when I was tracing the pattern.

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Auden Cardigan Review

I made this Cardigan for my husband Peter who is pictured wearing it out in his garden.img_0523

Fit: I made the XXL size and the is fits beautifully across his back and shoulders. Peter has quite broad shoulders. I did try to do the “beer belly” adjustment that was on Jennifer Lauren Handmade blog but went back to the straight XXL as I think this fit better (this fabric is quite stretchy for a sweater knit). The sleeves are a little long but with the cuff folded up they are ok. The tummy fit is a problem always but it is comfortable and looks ok.

Construction and instructions: Overall the instructions are quite good and straight forward to follow. I had a problem with the marking of the notches on the front pattern piece they did not seem to meet the sleeve notches …. there was a discrepancy of about 1 to 1.5 cm I think. I also had problems attaching the back to the sleeve the notches matched ok but I had trouble working out where the to match the top of the sleeve with the back, I picked up my error when I tried to put the facing on and found it did not fit, but I unpicked and was able to sort it out. I under stitched the facing and then top stitched, both of these I just used an ordinary machine straight stitch. The rest of the seams I sewed using a four thread overlock on my Babylock overlocker (this makes it a very quick sew and the seams remain stretchy). The hem was stitched using my Bernina coverstitch machine (this is a luxury to have but the hem is very stretchy and the finish is beautiful).

Pattern Printing: I love the way these Jennifer Lauren Patterns print into chunks of pages that are easy to tape together rather that one massive sheet. I like to trace my patterns and us 60 cm wide tracing paper for this. I do keep my originals, I fold them up and store them in a box. I am happy to print out onto A4 paper and now prefer this to tissue paper patterns (still quite like those ones that are printed onto proper white paper).

Other thoughts: I am really quite interested in sewing clothes for my husband. It would be a dream to have a choice of different front pieces to cater for the belly in the same way as Jennifer Lauren’s women’s patterns cater for different cup sizes! Ooh and you know what else would be fantastic is a vest or waistcoat pattern. Yes I know other Pattern companies have them and I have made the Threadtheory one, but a really good one that includes a choice of front pieces to cater for different body shapes would be a winner! After all our partners need to look as glamorous as us.

Here is an action shot … Peter’s thoughts are that he thinks this is a wearable garment and that a cardigan is good for autumn or spring and would be useful for travelling or going out in the evening as it is a garment that is quite light and easily taken off and stored.

“Sewcation” the Day of the Port Trousers

This is the second Pauline Alice patterns I have sewn this year. I initially brought the pattern and downloaded it 6 months ago. Like most sewists the initial inspiration and excitement is about searching for the ideal pattern. I love the fact that you can do this on the early hours of Sunday morning in the comfort of your bed with your husband snoring beside you. My iPad is an essential part of my sewing equipment! At the time I was looking for a comfortable relaxed fit trouser pattern to be made in a non stretch fabric. In recent years I have preferred to sew pants that were out of stretch denims and bengaline that were more body hugging. I went on the search for a new pattern in a new style because I have grown tired of my old pants!

I read the pattern and measured myself and decided I was very much a 48 so I printed stuck together and traced the pattern in my chosen size. The fabric I chose is a printed denim that is on the light weight side of medium weight. The fabric was purchased while on holiday in Singapore last year. It is a beautiful quality so I thought although the print was a little busy I thought this would work well.

Many a time sewing a new style of clothing for myself I have a crises at the end when I am not sure that I like the garment that I have just spent hours/all day sewing. Yes I did try on the pants for fit before putting on the waistband and finishing it… yes they did fit …but maybe the fit was too relaxed??? (Remember I have been wearing close fitting pants for years…). So I did finish the pants and tried them on and still did not feel the love! I resolved on getting up this morning that I wold put the pants on and wear them all day … a day of being home alone on my “sewcation” (I am a school teacher and it is currently school holidays). I have cleaned the bathroom wiring them as well! Now half way through the day I can tell you that I am loving the relaxed fit and no they have not fallen down and I think I am starting to love these trousers!


Here is me wearing them in my sewing room … how well does the top go with the pants!

Jennifer Lauren Handmade: The Afternoon Blouse & Shift Dress Review

I was honoured and thrilled to be chosen as a reviewer this month to review the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Afternoon Blouse and Shift dress. This was a design that I immediately liked the look of the first time I say it. I liked the simple lines, the modest neckline and the button feature. I love buttons and do have a collection of them! I could see myself wearing this dress to work in the summer. I Teach secondary school mathematics at a Government school and often the air conditioning is very ineffective and our Australian summers can be very hot. I also thought this would be a great dress to wear on a holiday… I like to go places like Singapore and Malaysia where it is very hot and humid. I admit I got a bit excited and sewed both blouse and shift dress versions. All up I made 2 dresses and a blouse in three days sewing…

First the Carousal dress version … I loved this fabric it is just whimsical and interesting and the blue/purple colour really appealed to me.


Next was a real hot weather dress and much more neutral but possible not so much me. This made from a very soft light cotton, I took the button off one of my jackets (and had to find a new button for the jacket). The pearls are a little much aren’t they?IMG_0917.JPG

Lastly I made the blouse in a lovely batik and I reckon this is more me…IMG_0897.JPG

So I love the afternoon blouse and shift dress, because it is a fast and stylish make and can be made out of variety of fabrics. Here all of my fabric is quilting fabric from Tracey’s Discount Fabric in Geelong. The pdf pattern is the best to work with and is set out so you can tape it together in chunks rather than having to do one whole page. This feature is a great innovation. I have come to terms with printing and taping together patterns at home and now prefer it. I like to trace my patterns so tracing over white paper is much better than the tissue paper of printed patterns.


I was between a 16 and an 18, but decided to sew the 16 after looking to see how much ease was in the finished garment. This worked out well and I am very pleased to see that the measurements given are very accurate and reliable. I followed the instructions mostly. Under stitching the neckline facings was one thing I did extra,  this pattern is designed I think for beginners so these fancier finishes are not part of its scope. I also ended up adding some interfacing to strengthen the back pleat on the white fabric as this was so fine that this would give it more strength. Overall a fantastic patten!

Art quilt Australia 2017 enteries

This year I challenged myself to enter a wool quilt in Art Quilt Australia. This is a biannual exhibition organised by Ozquilt network, an organisation that brings Australian art quilters together. The exhibition with be held from 9th of September till the 22nd October at the Queen Victoria Art Gallery in Launceston Tasmania this year.

My wool quilt titled Woman of the Wagga: the lifelong partnership, is finally finished and my online entry completed.

I stitched together pieces of pure wool fabric, this time joining them together by simply butting them together and using a machine feather stitch to join both pieces (I used strips of fusible interfacing to hold the pieces together before stitching). I did this because wool is thicker than the usual quilting cotton and wool seams are really thick and difficult to freemotion quilt over. Once I had made the Wagga (a historic Australian version of a quilt that was wool fabric stitched together to make a warm blanket) I layered the batting and backing together and used my quilt frame to baste the layers together using large spirals. I then used my dyed un spun pure fleece to ‘paint’ the picture, simply stitching over with free motion machine quilting to hold it together. This was very challenging and time consuming as the wool is very think and doesn’t slide easily under the darning foot. I used a Taylor’s awl to hold the fleeces flat so the foot moved over it without getting stuck. The beauty about this technique is more fleece can be added one small piece at a time. Once I had done all this and was having with the colour and form I freemotioned around using a much tighter design. I used a dress making style facing instead of binding.

In these close up pictures you can see how the detail is formed using fleece and stitching.

This is my other entry. MMXVII Made I’m Australia. Originally made for AQC2017, but since it was juried in to that exhibition I have submitted it into Art Quilt Australia. I wanted it to read like a painting and included as part of the design a Matt and gold leaf frame. I also added a brass plaque and decoration. It was a lot of fun to make … I used the wildlife around my Australian bush home as inspiration. The cheeky possums are frequent night time visitors to our house and the view is of Kangaroos of koalas in the bushland at the front of our house. This is the view from our large front windows! The fabric is natural linen and I have used paint and inktense pencil to paint the design before free motion quilting. I have used black thread to outline and used recycled banana silk to form the leaves on the gum trees, using sari silk thread for the flowering gum at the base of the frame.

Gertie: The Shirtwaist Dress

I own all three of Gretchen Hirsch’s sewing book. The first Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book was found during a visit to a second-hand book store five months ago. I did not think I was much of a dress wearing nor was I particularly interested in the vintage look as far as clothes were concerned. So why buy it? Well it was a clothes sewing book and looked very comprehensive and interesting and a book that was new to me! I did read this book from cover to cover and found it very interesting and I found it very clear and easy to understand. With 30 years of garment sewing behind me I am far from a beginner but this book had a lot of techniques and ideas as far as pattern drafting and construction that I had not tried.

I also make art quilts and as such I have also attended quite a few Quilt Conventions. I am always surprised that these ladies who make such beautiful quilts could go to these events dressed in polar fleece and denim! Style girls … we should look as glamorous as the objects we make! So here was my first challenge as a proud winner (second place) of the Minda Quilt challenge… I was off to Adelaide in August to be presented with the prize at the Australian Machine Quilters Festival. I made the Peplum Wiggle Dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book out of a beautiful Japanese texture linen. I enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from the book. I have also worn this dress quite a number of times … this dress has become a firm favourite.


Some months later I found one of Gretchen Hirsch’s earlier books in the same second-hand book shop, so now I also own Gertie’s new book for better sewing. My friend and colleague gave me some purple Gertie fabric (that is what it is called on the selvedge and yes Gretchen Hirsch was the designer). Sooo excited best present ever! So I made it my first 2017 sewing resolution to make a shirtwaist dress from Gertie’s mew book for better sewing out of this gorgeous fabric. After all Gertie fabric would have to be used in a Gertie Dress… nothing else would do! This was my #2017makenine instagram post:9a7adb7e-6a4b-4b85-a253-9b9d7aeb655b

Now I am not a sewer who typically makes a muslin to try out a pattern. But this time I was going to aim to make the variation on the Shirtwaist dress which involved tulip sleeves and a round neckline (the picture has a zip but I have decided to use the beautiful vintage buttons). Inspiration, so next step?  I eyed my stash and decided to make the original Shirtwaist dress without alterations in a beautiful floral cotton lawn.


Really happy with the fit and finish on this dress and I loved the experience of making it. I also love wearing it as the length is great (I hate to expose my knees!), the shirring at the waist make it very comfortable. I love the way I look in it too. Think I will enjoy wearing this next month when I have to start working again as a Mathematics teacher. It will be great to wear in our uncomfortably hot government school classrooms in high summer!

So have to face the next challenge. My friend Sandra came to visit me out at Anakie and we were in the sewing room chatting about this Shirtwaist dress project I had in mind. Tulip sleeve round neckline and we also agreed I should try to do a shoulder adjustment to fix the pattern to fit my slightly narrow shoulders. Big challenge for me but Sandra is more experienced in these matters. We had a lot of fun that afternoon working on these pattern adjustments!


Here is the Muslin I made initially. The tulip sleeves were a fail…img_0790

This is much better, also reshaped the neckline. The shoulder gathers have turned into a version of smocking using my bernina’s fancy stitching between rows of gathering. Love this!!!


The dress came together pretty well except for a few misadventures … I sewed the front skirt pieces on the wrong way around and only discovered this after overlocking …. unpicking was necessary… two ways of doing things the right way and the wrong way … why do I always do things the wrong way first???!!! Got over it fixed it put it on Diana the dummy to admire it … but then look at those sleeve backs … the tulips don’t line up … unpick again and fix! Hand stitched all hems and facings… last stage buttons.img_0801Heres a handy trip for marking position with such slippery fabrics. Pin the dress to the ironing board and use a ruler to mark the position of buttonholes and buttons with pins. I used my Bernina to make machine buttonholes, it has an auto buttonhole feature which normally works pretty well.


Here are some photos before the buttons!


The finished dress … looking and feeling fabulous!


Little red dress project

Purple is more my colour than red… but red is very Christmassy … and I love a sewing challenge! 

I decided to dye some of my pale lilac cotton voile crimson, I used a sachet of Jacquard idye for natural fabric and my front load washing machine … never done this before but very pleased with the effect and so much less mess!

As with a number of me great ideas I ran short of time… but on the 3rd of December I finally got sewing. I had just got my copy of The Tunic Bible from Book Depository so I decided that I would make my little red dress from this. I love the large ruffle neckline and decided to make a sleeveless version. It was too short for my liking so I added a purple border. Only 10% purple, 90% red I also attached a  ruffled pocket bag so I can carry my phone. This is the fitted version with back darts so I added a side invisible zipper. Very pleased with the result. And I finished it that day! The pattern is very simple and the fit great. You do need a bit of sewing expertise as the book’s instructions are a bit sketchy and assumes a lot of sewing prior knowledge. The gallery photos and the many variations to this one simple pattern is a fantastic idea… so much inspiration!

I wore it that very same night for the first time to my 30 year High School reunion, I finished year 12 at Colac High School in 1986.

Our last day at work before the long summer holidays was Tuesday the 20th of December. Close enough to the 21st! I am a secondary school mathematics teacher, my good friend and fellow sewists Sandra is also a teacher at this school. We wore our red dresses… this is a day of celebrations, breakfast with friends, goodbye speeches and spit roast lunch with the whole staff. Thalia (a daughter of our friend Sandra took these photos with my phone). This is me in the courtyard and outside the staff room.

Here is my friend Sandra, she used The tunic bible pattern as well but did the ruffled sleeve and the scooped neckline, she does look fabulous.

Little red dress project achieved!

iPhone cover mark 2

Sadly I dropped my iPhone the other day and smashed the screen. The children have of course done this but I never done this before. After I got the screen replaced, I decided to reinvent my existing iPhone case and make it into a portable piece of textile art. I used some nice stiff bag wadding and had fun freemotion quilting some kimono and other cotton scraps. I decided that the best way to protect my phone was to use this and some wool felt to wrap around the phone. I cut out the magnets from my old iPhone cover and inserted this into the cover I made, stitching around to hold it in place. I have used a long loop of velvet elastic to wrap around the cover to keep it closed. I cut the corner off so I don’t have to take the cover off to take a photo. Zig zag stitching was done all around the edge to provide strength and shape. Hopefully this works to protect the iPhone.

Style arc Jett biker jacket Quilted!

The Jett biker jacket by style arc was I decided the perfect candidate to make as a quilted version. The idea of making a quilter biker jacket really appealed to me. Why not have a logo on the back just like the bikers? How cool would that be?

This is a picture of me wearing it yesterday. The jacket is made from a solid black 100% cotton broadcloth and is freemotion quilted with contrasting blue and purple thread. The lining of the collar is a wild rainbow tie die batik and have used purple metallic fabric paint and painted inside the lines. I did shorten the collar by an inch or so.

I made up all the jacket pieces by layering the black cotton with wool quilt wadding (I used scraps left over from my quilts) and used a backing of some blue flower flannelette that I have had in my stash for 25 years. I used my overlocker to roll hem (cutting the seam allowance off the pattern pieces) and butt joined them together by using bias binding underneath, the used a zig zag stitch to complete the join from the top using a purple thread. This meant there was not bulky seams and no need to line the jacket.

I designed my own anakiequilter logo incorporating a pinwheel block made from some of my favourite patchwork fabrics and appliquéd it onto the back of the jacket…

I used satin stitch to complete the appliqué:

I finished the hems at the waists and sleeves with a facing and used my overlocker to produce a rolled hem for the collar and front opening using purple thread. 

I have a placed a hidden pocket in the front that fits my iPhone. I love this jacket!