The 60’s shift dress

This is an old one, but it’s a fast dress to whip up, and fun to go crazy on.

easy shift dress to sew

Mum had a 60’s theme birthday party, and I decided to make this shift dress out of the magazine sewhip (having previously made a pair of trousers semi-successfully from the magazine before).

shift dress

So naturally, having a whole year of notice I decide to sew up my outfit two days before. It took no time at all to whip up, unfortunately it closely resembled a tent. With the impending party in mind, I literally just starting to sew up the sides, with lines getting in closer and closer to my waist with each zoooooom.

The last two zooms were to add little back darts, which were totally guessed. Who cares? It was only ever going to be worn once at this party right?

WRONG. Over summer I love this dress. It’s cool, comfortable, and just long enough to not show off your knickers (always a winner in my book).

hot little shift


Craftsy addiction

It’s one of the first steps to recovery, admitting you have a problem.  I’ve bought 5 craftsy classes.  And I’ve not finished watching any of them.

In my defence, these classes are amazing, technical and long (psst, and addictive).  Each class has an enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructor, and occasionally comes with a printed pattern included, and mailed to your home address.

It started innocently enough with Sew the Couture Dress class…

Followed by The Classic Tailored Shirt…

Followed by Beginner Serging…

Followed by Sew the Perfect Fit…

Followed by the Perfect Pizza at home.  After all this sewing I’m hungry!

Each class was a revelation of perhaps I should be starting at something more simple, as these classes are highly technical, however I would wager that any advanced beginner would be able to get a great deal out of the classes.  Once the March madness is over of crazy dress making (more on that in late March) I’d like to dedicate one night a week to sewing along with my lovely craftsy class.  It’s easy to watch on my Iphone all the non-participative sections, however many of them you need to be sewing along side the instructor to get the most benefit.

The other thing which is interesting to note about the craftsy classes is it’s difficult to multi-task while watching them.  If you aren’t paying attention, it’s gone.  And while I don’t want to give away any of the craftsy sewing tips and techniques, even though I’ve not Sewn my Couture Dress, my newest unblogged dress is made using many of Susan Khalje’s tips.  And yes, I’ve not yet acquired a Classic Tailored Shirt, but I do cut out my fabric like Pam Howard.

The pizza is still store bought.

Top 5 Goals for the New Year


My Top 5 goals are something I’ve struggled with, I tend to sew more when the mood strikes me, so making a super specific list is never going to work.  Let’s call this my 2013 conceptual framework 😉

-Sew whatever takes your whimsy, but try and make it a practical and beautiful version.  Add a stunning lining to a coporate colour, sneak in some pockets, embroider a jacket

-I have a two item limit of UFO’s come 31 December 2013, which means digging out that Lady Grey coat and finishing it.  It also means three quilts, a tiramisu, day to night top, kimono top and a girls dress, four cushion covers and a set of curtains.  *sigh*.

– Try and blog once a week, sewing is a team sport, and sometimes reading someone else’s blog gives you the encouragement to start sewing something.  It’s the bomb.

-Be a good person.  I made my first Kiva loan to a sewing lady in pakistan this week, and it felt good.  I’m not a huge fan of the high rates of interest they charge, but even here trying to get the funds to start sewsquirrel was tricky for a microbusiness.  It’s the least I can do to regularly make Kiva loans.

-Do some selfless sewing, and more mending.  This year I got an extra years use out of a set of sheets by patching them (twice).  I’m trying to live a more green and sustainable life, so that means repairing and refashioning!

Here’s hoping I manage to stay on track.  You’ll keep me honest right?

Top 5 Blogs and Bloggers that Inspire

Have you heard about the Top 5 end of year blogging started by Gillian?  It’s really interesting to hear what everyone has loved or hated to sew, and as such I thought it would be fun to do!  I know these were meant to be up before new years eve…but it’s such a busy time of year lets just pretend I made it….)Top5

Listing my top 5 Blogs and bloggers that inspire is really difficult for me, as some get me enthusiastic about sewing, and I’ve read them for years, and some get me into my sewing room.


I love her style, penchant for thrift and foul language.  It’s sewing with some extra laughs which is a pleasure to read.


I’ve been a follower of Gertie for years and years now, and I love her style and watching her sewing/blogging evolve.  It gives you inspiration following someone’s progress for so long, and seeing the couture level of sewing they can achieve.  I will totally pad stitch a jacket something someday.

Male Pattern Boldness

I’ve also followed Peter’s blog for years now, and sometimes it’s very refreshing to see things he doesn’t like, or his discussions on fashions.  Peter also once had a really inspiring post (which I’m trying to find again), about how making a wadder isn’t a bad thing.  You can never waste fabric if you learn something from it.   I love his pieces like this on the benefits of making it yourself.

Design Sponge

Grace has a fantastic team that really inspires my (admittedly very slow) home decor sewing, and general style.  I will blame this blog for the purchase of a genuine WW2 merchant navy british flag (which are huge and is yet to be mounted), my self made curtains and purchase of random pieces of furniture which are yet to be reupholstered and at this rate, may never be.  On a side note, I generally find my brothers birthday/christmas present inspirations here too.  Some of her podcasts about maintaining a blog and a passion are kind of cool too.

SewBusyLizzy and Mymessings

These ladies get mentioned together, as funny and very friendly and encouraging blogs.  If you ever want to get excited about a project, discuss it with these bloggers and you will be running back to the sewing machine.  They are both on twitter, and love to pitch in helpful advice.  They also sew like maniacs, so don’t be discouraged if your sewing isn’t as fast!

While that was 6 blog/bloggers, there was no way to whittle it down, so if you haven’t already, I’d go and check them out!

Top 5 Sewing Fails


It’s quite interesting, I found picking the top 5 worst items much harder than my top 5 favourite.  Some of these I haven’t blogged, some I haven’t even sewn (but wait, I can explain!)  Understanding what didn’t work will hopefully prevent too many more of these wadders in the future.   These all went awry for different reasons.

Black top

I have never worn this top.  This was the first item I made when I decided to really get back into garment sewing (and to take it seriously) and it is terrible.  The neckline was stretched out, it’s cut off grain, and completely half arsed in every way   A betting man would estimate this was done with a normal sewing needle, straight stitch and definitely no clue.  It’s not worth saving, and will get cut up soon to become baby dribble bibs, which is a much better fate than languishing at the back of the closet.


Grey pinstripe skirt

I need to try this again, I love the look of the pattern, but the skirt is an unlined, poorly finished, pointy darted mess.  It’s so bad there isn’t even a photo of it.  If you fancy imagining it, think of how you would have made this at high school sewing, and thats pretty much about it. I might yet blog it, but it is awful.1963 sewing pattern suit

Baby turtleneck dress

While super cute, my baby has a giant melon of a head.  I never managed to get this over her head again, and as a result I now will be cutting out weirdly sized baby clothes with giant necklines, super skinny sides and very long.  I suspect she may actually be an alien.  I doubt a human could really consume as much yoghurt as she does.

Baby dress sewing pattern knit

I love the look of the Heidi and Finn patterns, but I struggle with the quality of the patterns, and would prefer to pay the extra for oliver and s.


Turns out loose drapey hand wash blouses are never going to get a look in around my house.  This was just a terrible combination of a stiff print on a silk, a poor sizing choice, and a lack of reality about my lifestyle.  Oh, and the darts give me pointy boobs.


Oliver and S pants

I bought the oliver and S Field trip cargo pants and raglan t-shirt pattern (wow, what a mouthful!) to make for my bestie’s babe, B.  He’s a gorgeous little boy, one week younger than mine.  I made 5 of the raglan tops quick smart, and cut out three pairs of pants.

Last week I threw out the cut out pieces.  This pattern is lovely, but for running around pants there are just too many pieces.  I know I would love it if I made them, but when he will outgrow them in 3 months I’m not spending all that time pressing cargo pockets, and top stitching tiny little trousers.

The pattern is worth it for the t-shirt, but I wouldn’t make the pants (or try) for an under 2 again.


So really, the big thing for me is to think about what and why I am sewing – and to plan out my projects appropriately.  Any other tips?

Top 5 Favourite Creations










Have you heard about the Top 5 end of year blogging started by Gillian?  It’s really fascianting to hear what everyone has loved or hated to sew, and as such I thought it would be fun to do!  (Better than doing one of those get to know you quizzes emailed about, and yes I prefer windows down to aircon)Top5

Thank you for all your kind comments about my Red Washi, I’m very fond of it, and so to kick off my Top 5 lists for 2012 (who doesn’t love a good list?) will be, in no particular order, my top 5 Favourites.


This was a hard pick, just because I love wearing my Red washi, but the Blue washi I ADORE the finish and bound hems.  Often there will be a bit of leg flashed as the hem is turned up to show the matching bias tape.  Nobody else cares, but I’m terribly proud of this dress.   It’s also really comfortable and very flattering now with the lower neckline and under bust darts.

Seam finishes on the blue washi dress

Corporate Cambie

This dress comes out at once a week at work, it’s comfortable and professional without being boring.  The pockets are always in use, Iphone in one and security pass in the other, so I never get locked outside again getting coffee.

The sewaholic work cambie

Oliver & S PJ’s

This is my absolute go-to pattern for winter pyjamas for my little lady, last winter she had five or six pairs.  As I downloaded this pattern as a PDF, I can reprint each year in the larger size and keep going.  Kids patterns really are fantastic as PDF’s, and they usually don’t take too long to tape together.

Oliver and S Bedtime Story pjs version 2

Maria Denmark Kimono top (yet to be blogged)

This is by far the most comfortable top I’ve ever worn, it took no time at all to make, I finished it terribly and yet I get the most unsolicited compliments about it.  Will blog shortly, as this is love.  In fact, I’m wearing it right now.  As soon as it comes out of the washing basket I’m wearing it.

Maria Denmark Kimono top

Pink turtle neck Renfrew

The best kind of clothes are those that do double duty.  This does TRIPLE duty.  Perfect for home and work, and also for playing peek a boo behind the cowl with baby.  She thinks it’s hilarious and I think it’s amazingly comfortable, easy to sew and the most lovely designed cowl.

Sewaholic, knit

It really wasn’t hard to pick my top 5 favourites, it’s whatever has gone through the washing basket the most this year!  These were all patterns I made multiples of, which usually indicate they are easy and satisfying to fit and sew.