The Flora dress

flora dress by hand london mock wrap bodice fba
This post was going to read “The 1940’s tea dress”.   I was adamant.  This dress was going to be soft, gentle and a vintage construction.  Then disaster struck*.

*Not a real disaster.  Annoying disaster, like realising your favourite bra is in the wash which sits perfectly under the top you wanted to wear today.  Instead, you have to go with the only clean one, which the right strap always slides down.

The long and the short of it is, I’m still breastfeeding the baby, and have only worn knit tops since being reasonably pregnant.  As such, I wasn’t really paying attention to how much my body changes over a day.  I made three muslins – and each time with more pattern changes it still wouldn’t fit right, depending on how long it was since the last feed, which side she fed on etc.  TOO HARD.
flora dress by hand london

Thus the lovely 1940’s tea dress pattern was not going work, and I decided to make the By Hand London Flora dress instead, which with the cross over front construction gave the dress some room to move, as my shape changed over the course of the evening.  The evening being the Sydney Frocktails of course!

Flora faux wrap bodiceEven then this make was beseiged by troubles, mostly of the ill-conceived and hastily executed project variety.  The ikat fabric I bought for it?  Not wide enough to fit the very wide skirt.  Flora dress by hand london

The large boobs?  Ever tried to do an FBA on a mock-wrap bodice? Me neither.

Flora By Hand London, faux wrap bodice full bust adjustment FBA

Flora By Hand London, faux wrap bodice with FBA


Ever finish basting the zip in a couple of hours before the event?  Actually I do that all the time. Probably should have checked it at the waist to avoid the dreaded zippergape.
Flora dress back

And you know how you should ALWAYS PREWASH YOUR FABRIC? Yes well, that white binding on the skirt, and all the white bits on the ikat print used to be a bright white, and now has flashes of mute pink. Apparently there is a product you can get from the supermarker which helps remove bled dye which is on the shopping list.

Aside from all the dramas, I think the flora dress with get made again, even perhaps as a flora skirt. I might wait until I have a more consistent bust size as I’d like a snug fit across the bust, but the skirt is just SO TWIRLY.
Flora dress skirt by hand london


Raised Vegetable beds from BAAG – Spring sowing

Funkbunny is a bad influence.  Her bicycle riding, vegetable eating, recycling ways has encouraged me to grow my own vegetables.  I don’t even like vegetables, and yet somehow since going to social sewing….I eat vegetarian meals.  (Note- I’m usually that idiot that orders the vegetarian pasta dish…with chicken).

This was surprisingly affordable, with all the supplies sourced from Bulleen Art and Garden (BAAG) and delivered.  We even paid for the timber to be pre-cut, which you might think is expensive, but compared to buying a drop-saw….not so bad.


8 x ecowood timber 2400mmx50mmx200mm
4 x timber supports
1 x screws and driver
1 cubic metre of vegie mix soil
and delivery…came to $275, including paying for labour to chop up all the timber in half.

The finished result is two 1.2m square beds, which are 40cm high.  If you’re interested in the construction, we took detailed photos as we went.    So now we’re growing our own vegetable, making clothes…we might need more bikes and to move to brunswick at this rate!

Checking the position of the vegie beds

Checking the position of the vegie beds

Assembling the first side

Assembling the first side

Managing the work site

Managing the work site

Displeased with the progress

Displeased with the progress

The site manager gave approval to move to phase two - assembly

The site manager gave approval to move to phase two – assembly

Progress inspection

Progress inspection


It looks like a vegie bed

It looks like a vegie bed

The last piece of timber was deliberately left off until later to make tipping the soil in by wheelbarrow easier

The last piece of timber was deliberately left off until later to make tipping the soil in by wheelbarrow easier

A thick layer of newspaper was put down over the grass, which in theory will help this be a no dig bed

A thick layer of newspaper was put down over the grass, which in theory will help this be a no dig bed

Completed raised vegetable beds, reading for planting in the Melbourne spring

Completed raised vegetable beds, reading for planting in the Melbourne spring

Ooooh, blog hop de doooo

Thanks Rachel of Mymessings for the prompt to join in on this writing blog hop.

These are all over the blogosphere, so if you wish to skip this post, I understand.   Personally, I find these reflective posts interesting to do, and interesting to read as sometimes I’m so busy living life, I forget to challenge myself and take time to be introspective.

Why do you write

My passion for sewing is a niche, and this is my way of reaching out and connecting with other people who love sewing.  I don’t think of my blogging as blogging, or part of a ‘social media presence’, it all part of me reaching out and being part of a community.   My writing is a public journey of my sewing, which I can already look back on a see how it has changed, and how it’s changed me.

What are you currently working on

I’ve got a million draft posts (12) that are in progress, mostly waiting for photos.  In terms of sewing…oh gosh my work in progress is out of control as I’m feeling really inspired to sew at the moment.  Which means lots of new projects!

How does it differ from other sites of its genre?

Obviously my children are the cutest on the internet.  I didn’t say anything before, but as a maker, I did pretty damn well on those.

Now this is just going to be awkward for everyone 😛

On a more serious note, it doesn’t and for a good reason, as part of a community we all engage together by writing about our common interests.  Which makes our blogs similar, with our photos and writing styles only differ to reflect our personalities.  Which, incidentally is hilarious when you meet bloggers and you totally get their writing style more after meeting them.  And you always then read their blog posts hearing their IRL voice in your mind like a creepy voiceover.  Or is that just me?

How does your writing process work?

I apply almost the same rules as when I wrote essays in high school (which probably reflects the level of writing and poor grammar).

First, I whack out a few ideas, and think about everything I want to include.  Some people might call this an outline, other might call it rubbish.

Then, I replace all of those dot points into something I consider to be paragraphs.

Then I add photos (part of the post high school evolution).

Then occasionally, I will proof read before hitting publish (also part of the post high school evolution – but not often followed through).

So that’s got me thinking, that perhaps I should endeavour to improve the quality of writing.  It’s difficult to write in a not-business way after corporate life, which means my blog is more like word vom than a delight to read.  Do I care enough?  Do you care enough?  Or should I just include more pictures?

I would like to nominate two people for this to continue, one being the lovely Funkbunny…who when I first met her refused to do head inclusive photos, and now poses boldly and beautifully.  I’d love to know more about her journey and feelings on how her blogging has changed.

The other person I would like to nominate is Vita, who is a non-sewing blogger, but a new blogger.  Anyone remember why they started their blog in the beginning?  I find her posts honest and refreshing, and also her fashion roundups are starting to inspire some sewing ideas 🙂

Sydney Frocktails

Sewing people are the nicest people out.  Sorry people who have other interests, but haters going to hate.

The most lovely Kat of all the whimsical things organised the Sydney Frocktails event at China Republic.  It was awesome, hours and hours of talking to lovely people, admiring swishy dresses and a few cheeky gins.  I had total blog crush on Kristy from lower your presser foot and only spoke to her as she was on her way out…which was super silly and my one regret of the night, as she (like all the seamstresses) was very friendly.  There was that awkwardness of making an exact copy of this stunner which made me feel like a total fangirl.

Finishing a dress in time for frocktails was tricky.  It’s always tricky.  We should have a prize for the dress finished last, as I would win EVERY TIME.  I’ll blog the details later, but basically I finished it half an hour before going to the event.  That’s the beauty of hand-picked zippers, you can totally do it at the last minute as you can be all like, ‘I’ll just do it on the plane’ and then yammer away at Poppykettle so much that you completely forget about it.


So to all the ladies who think about coming to an event, a cocktails, tea or social sewing but feel like it’s a little intimidating…yeah, the first half hour is totally awkward.  Then once everyone has had a drink, the volume ratchets up a level and you discover a room full of buddies and all of a sudden it’s midnight and you’re turning into a pumpkin.

November 2012 Blogger meetup (photo pinched from Poppykettle)

Come along, you could meet some of your close IRL friends from the internets.


(p.s. there were too many very nice and lovely people who I really want to catch up with, and can’t mention them all by name)
(p.p.s. If I can get off my butt and take photos I will take proper photos of my Frocktails dress, and talk about the journey – nay, odyssey to a finished dress)
(p.p.p.s. odyssey is not spelt how I expected. Spellcheck had no frickin idea where I was trying to go with that one).

Little One Yard Wonders book (and giveaway)

You might have been hearing about the newest book in the series of the One Yard Wonders series, Little One Yard Wonders.  It’s a whole book of projects for you and your children, but also a handy resource for a range of home crafted baby gifts.

I’m hosting a little giveaway here to celebrate the launch of the book, as I have two projects featuring in the book.   To participate, just leave a comment below telling me what your tried and true USEFUL gift for a little one is by June 30, 2014.  Absolutely leave a link to any blogged make as well if you have one.  Make sure to leave an email address or way to contact you, and a winner will be selected at Random. Storey Publishing will then send you a copy of the book directly!

Little One Yard Wonders book cover

Little One Yard Wonders book cover

These are two tried and tested projects, as my own pram liner is still on my pram nearly three years later (and in dire need of a wash), and I’ve given many a nursing cover to new Mums that want a little privacy while still working out this breastfeeding caper (after sussing out if this is something they would want and use).

Having kids really spurred on my creative sewing as I had the time to think about sewing, construction and buying fabric ( emails come in the middle of the night…many boxes of fabric were ordered in the wee hours of the night).  Primarily I was irritated and motivated that simple, useful things like a nursing cover cost $50 in a store here.   Time to DIY like a boss.

Have a sneak peek at the lovely professional pics of my projects from the book, with the photos taken by Julie Toy.

Stroller Liner Nursing Cover Nursing Cover close up

FO: Lekala 4261 Top

Why hello Lekala 4261!  This coral blouse was actually a less fussy version of Lekala 4261, a wearable muslin if you will.

lekala 4261


Hard to tell as I’ve made it too small for the intended recipient.  It’s becoming a recurring theme here!  I’m going to make various people at social sewing try it on I think to see what the problem was.  I think it could be my use of 7 french seams, it could be the way I eased the french seams.  Maybe it was a typo when I entered it into Lekala.  In some way, it’s going to be my stupid brain.



This top (and the binding) was made out of 1 metre of a silk cotton blend from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  It is BEAUTIFUL to sew.  In fact, although I promised myself to not buy any more fabric I’m in love with silk cotton.  It’s tempting to make lots of silk cotton underwear out of it as it’s just so luxurious and also well priced.  This was $13.95 AUD per metre, which is very reasonable.


I’m really pleased with the way this blouse turned out, even though it doesn’t fit the intended recipient.  That’s ok, maybe it will eventually fit me, or there will always be someone skinnier at social sewing that may benefit from my sewing sizing mishaps!

The seams are all french seams (except the side seam with the inserted zipper), with handmade matching bias tape using this method.  While it does give you more seams than cutting long strips and then joining them, it’s easier to cut the bias tape after laying out your pattern if you leave a decent sized square.  It does take me a few moments of thinking to cut it out right, but if you take your time it turns out beautifully.


I usually don’t use invisible zips (as I find them finicky and liable to break), but it was the best option for this blouse.


Future learnings

*ahem* it would be wise to check the seam allowances BEFORE doing french seams.  The seam allowances (if you add them) on Lekala patterns are 1 cm (1/2″) , and I did french seams with something wider than that, and with 7 seams shaping the blouse…it slowly shrank.


The Oliver and S Sailboat skirt

The Oliver and S sailboat skirt is now a Tried and True pattern.  To check the elastic required for the back band, I made little miss R try on the skirt….she then refused to leave my sewing room without the skirt on.  She actually stood by my sewing machine while I stitched in the elastic, and basted down the front where the buttons and buttonholes should go, all the while chanting “mine”.   No higher commendation can be awarded.

Oliver and S sailboat pattern

You can just see one basted buttonhole on the left…

And thus all day she wore the skirt, and I had to wait until after it was out of the wash (and she was out of the house) to photograph the details.


Oliver and S patterns with elastic generally fit her pretty perfectly if they don’t have too much ease designed in.  The length is perfect on the skirt, so it doesn’t get in the way of climbing, jumping, riding on bikes etc.  The back is very gathered, as it always takes significantly less elastic than the pattern recommends, but she’s a skinny mini.

oliver and s sailboat skirt elastic back



The main fabric on this is a black cotton drill from lincraft, and the inside of the skirt flaps should also be black cotton drill but I can’t remember where I tidied it to.  Somewhere very safe obviously.


Future learnings

Pro tip – I usually have a piece of bias tape pinned up on a board which shows her waist circumference.  Wish I’d kept all of the old ones!  It’s a good way to use up old scraps, and then I can just lay it out over some elastic (and then shorten it).

For the next few years, R doesn’t need buttons to get in and out of this skirt, so I’ll continue eliminating the buttonholes and just have the buttons sewn on decoratively.  Also, I might modify the front to turn the front panels into pockets, but really that just invites snotty tissues into the wash.  What does a toddler really need pockets for anyway?

oliver and s sailboat skirt button detail


Every time you sew an oliver and s pattern you learn something new and clever.  Liesl is a genius, and the order of construction and techniques used always give such a professional finish.  I’m putting together my collection of beautiful basics from the Oliver and S patterns, which will get hauled out as nice quality basics for the kids.  The back elastic is just lovely, and so easy to insert.  The order of construction and the way the back is drafted is impeccable.

The kick pleat at the back is also very well explained, and is a lovely detail (and makes it much easier to play in).

oliver and s kick pleat


Shortly after sewing this, I listened to the ThreadCult podcast with Liesel and I would highly recommend listening to it if you sew kids patterns.  Actually, I would recommend the whole series as it’s just fascinating some of the interviewees explaining how they got in the industry and their perception of sewing etc.  Did you know Susan Khalje used to be a concert pianist?  Anyway, let’s get back on track.

This is now my favourite ‘not fussy’ skirt for R.  Do you have any recommendations for great basic kids patterns?  I’m looking for the perfect shorts for her next….