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! 

Saf t pockets patterns review

So I love a secure pocket to put my phone in! I was on a quest for the perfect jacket to make with some luscious purple Paisley velvet I had just brought. Pockets were important of course preferably hidden so as not to spoil the purple Paisley focus. An Internet search later and I found saf t pockets patterns. This is a pattern company that produces patterns designed for the traveller … All garments feature secure pockets in multiples! Joy what a find and only seven US dollars postage to Australia. I ordered the Flounce about jacket and the Shell seeker pant suit. I shall buy fabric for the Shell seeker when I go to Singapore on holidays in September.

Here is the finished jacket … The pockets are hidden and hang from the waistband. I love it …just my style I think! The jacket went together really well just a couple of hiccups with me cutting out the front waistband the wrong way… This fabric is velvet that has a nap so it is important to think about how to cut things out.
While waiting for the paper patterns to arrive I fell in love with the saf t pockets downloadable fast and fun hoodie jacket and decided that I had to make this pattern as I was about to spend the two weeks school holidays with only a choice of my already existing fleeces in my wardrobe and clearly another couple of such garments would be very good. I purchased and downloaded the PDFs. I thought I would share these with my friend, colleague and fellow sewist thinking she would share my love. She did and she went to office works in the city and got the prints done, what a fabulous friend! Thank you Sandralovessewing! Unfortunately during the making of her own garment she had the realisation that so many of us sewists do and realised that she did not like what she refers to as ‘wings’ and that her personal style is more sophisticated and fitted. This is the moment as sewists that we all dread …when we realise that we have unintentionally made a garment for someone else… I have done this often myself so I understand. The reality is that when you do this the ofending garment remaining unworn and eventually finds itself being donated to a charity shop…Sensibly my good freind Sandra made the necessary alterations to make this garment her own. Myself I love the wings and the cut and have worn these jackets happily for the past two weeks. I marvel that the positioning of the pockets is the perfect length for me to put my hands in the pockets without pulling down or stretching the jacket and that it means I can drive with my phone in my pocket and be comfortable. I personalised both versions by adding detail to the pockets.

Thank you Saf t pockets I look forward to making my shell seeker outfit!

Clare coat by Closet Case patterns -Pattern review

I brought this pattern online after an exhaustive web search for just the right winter coat pattern. It was a hot day in February … But you know these things must be researched. I liked the fact it had raglan sleeves and and asymetric zip front that gave a closure free front to the coat. Why? Because what I really wanted was to make a wearable art quilted coat and these things are really necessary for this. Eventually maybe next year I will make this coat!

This is a well thought out design that sews up really easily. The sew alongs on the closet case files are brilliant and very helpful. The instruction booklet is really helpful. These are the best instructions I have experienced. I have sewn many many patterns and have much experience but instructions are still appreciated. Big thumbs up!

Here is the finished product…

The coat has two very generous front pockets finished with a welt that are in just the right spot to put your hands in … Plenty of room in there for both your phone and hands. The sleeves are 3/4 length which looks good and also makes sense when you put your hands in the pockets. It has a long side zip that closes on the left hand side and a stand up collar with lots of room to where a scary underneath. The coat is the right length to drive your car and sit. The asymetrical zip closure is an advantage as the front is not spoiled by closures. I capitalised on this by centring the large Paisley design in the middle. The disadvantage of this type of opening is that this coat can not be worn open.

The main fabric is a quite thick Paisley boarder printed jacquard. I wanted this coat to be warm and added a wool flannel interlining (this was given to me by m good friend Sandra went she was trimming down her stash).

The coat pattern includes a lot of small interfacing pieces to interface tops of sleeves and hems. I followed the instructions and used a good quality iron on, I interfaced the front as well but got it round the wrong way so the interfacing ended up between the interlining and the jacquard. The interfacing took ages … Time to iron and stream quilting videos from YouTube on my tv.

I lined the coat with this wild animal stripe satin …last years birthday present from my good friend Sandra. I made a hanging loop from ribbon and sewed the label (brought from a craft show) on the facing. 

To toro hooded dress

This is a dress I made for Bethwyn who loves Anime. The Pattern is based on the PDF pattern of the Hooded Jumper dress which I brought and downloaded of etsy. The dress is a very easy make and the downloaded instruction feature step by step photographs. I got this idea from Pinterest. Here is the link to the pattern:

Hooded jumper dress
Really happy with how this turned out the dress does have a great designed hood already and inbuilt gloves. The fact that it is all finished with bands means no messy hem. The tummy was pieced with appliqués grey marks. I divided the hood into two pieces and extended the front piece making it curved rather than straight. I used some iron on wadding to give the front piece more structure. This actually works really well to keep the hood in place in the wind and also keeps the ears warm. The totoro ears are made from really stiff interfacing and iron on wadding. I did all the appliqué by using double sided fusible and then stitching around with a black satin stitch

These are the pictures of the alterations that I did to the original pattern.

World Quilt Shoooofly 2016

So excited and honoured that my quilt Shoooofly has been selected to be judged at World Quilt Competition. My quilt will then be displayed on the 18-20 th of August in Manchester New Hampshire in America. Shoooofly will then tour America, and will be exhibited at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in September, Quiltfest Oasis Palm Springs and Pacific International Quilt Festival San Francisco in October and finally at World Quilt in Orlando Florida in January.

The quilt is pieced in small 6 inch shoo fly blocks (this is a traditional block) around a big sky coloured shoo fly. The flies are coming out of the sky towards the viewer, the flies are confetti pieced with small pieces of fabric and they have appliquéd filmy silk wings. The quilting done using abstract swirls and over quilted with the words shoo fly in lots of the squares. Originally I made this for the Australian Quilt Convention challenge 2016 but it was not a finalist. I still believed in this quilt and thought it was worth entering in world quilt 2016.

This a detail shot of the flies and the quilting.

Me Made May

Theoretically I this is an easy challenge for me… I do have a wardrobe full of clothes made by me an I rarely wear anything not made by me. I have my own style and wake up every day and look forward to what I might wear! This never gets old and fortunately I do not have a uniform to wear and as a government school secondary teacher I wear pretty much what I like… No boring suits for me! Occasionally my students make a comment about my dress but it has never been negative… Usually they are impressed that I make my own clothes. No I do not teach sewing or textiles but I do teach mathematics!

Day one: 1st of May.

A relaxed Sunday, I am dressed for a day sewing and a trip to the shops..

I am wearing leggings in a black ponti from Ottobre (2/2008) a 3/4 knit tunic (2/2006) from Ottobre and a quilted puffer vest from Moonshine designs.

This outfit is a cure for Mondayitis! The leggings are Seamwork Manila, the wrap skirt is reversible and is Osaka from Seamwork (made out of some scraps), the knit shirt is from Ottobre, and the jacket is from Ottobre (both 5/2012).

img_0908It’s a chilly May Tuesday….these pants in purple bengaline are Barb from Stylearc, the shirt is Aberdeen from Seamwork and the jacket in a stretch baby cord is from Ottobre (2/2014). One student commented that I looked like the recently deceased Prince!image

This skirt is the same as the one I wore on Monday and is Seamwork Osaka (just reversed). The jacket is from Ottobre (2/2013).


Thursday sees me wearing black bengaline Stylearc Barb pants, the shirt is vogue 8709 (Marcy Tilton) in a purple and cream madras cotton silk, and the cardigan is made in a purple merino knit in vogue 1124 (Sandra Betzina).


A more relaxed Friday wearing denim jeans from Ottobre (5/2012), skirt Ottobre (5/2010) and again purple jacket Ottobre (2/2014).


A Saturday finally ready for a trip to Geelong for sewing supplies in Stylearc Katherine pants and Stylearc Pearl top.