About sewbusylizzy

Australian sewing blogger


More obsessive sewing.

I did mentioned I had made another Grainline Alder and here it is. I’ve worn my first Alder so much that a second one seemed sensible. If it works for you – sew it I say! I’ve worn by McCalls 6696 just once, it’s lovely but I feel at home in my Alders.

I’ve sewn View A again, this time in a border print (or more like dip-dyed, marbled) rayon woven fabric.

Another Alder, more beach and whippet photos... a typical Lizzy weekend.

Another Alder, more beach and whippet photos… a typical Lizzy weekend. I love this beach, it’s not too busy. Lots of space of a whippet to run,

The sewing

As the graduation in colour ran from selvedge to selvedge, I cut the Alder on the crossgrain. I also didn’t have quite enough so I shaved about 1 inch off the side seams. It was frugal cutting at it’s very best and I had the tiniest pile of scraps you can imagine when I finished… and I was very conscious not to make a mistake as there was nothing left to cut another piece – not even a pocket piece!

Grainline Alder, view A. Side view

Grainline Alder, view A. Side view

Pockets: I moved the pockets up about 1/2 inch. I think they could move up more next time.

Hem: I hemmed it. I wasn’t pleased with my finish. So I hemmed it again. Then I took some photos and thought it was slightly too long. So I cut off the hem, slightly increased the curve at the side and re-hemmed it.

Grainline Alder, view A - wide view. The hem is even - it's just windy (as usual) and I like to leave the bottom button undone as the dress moves better as you walk.

Grainline Alder, view A – wide view. The hem is even – it’s just windy (as usual) and I like to leave the bottom button undone as the dress moves better as you walk.

Buttons: I got some lovely buttons that were a perfect match. I made the buttonholes… started sewing on my buttons… decided the buttons were slightly too large. Fortunately I had not cut the buttonholes! I found more buttons, unpicked the buttonholes and re-did the buttonholes. I want to unpick the buttonhole on the collar (which I haven’t cut fortunately) as it is slightly too low.

Grainline Alder, view A. Back view

Grainline Alder, view A. Back view

The Fabric: this is a marbled, graduated rayon fabric from The Fabric Shop in Robina. It’s just a hop, skip & a jump off the freeway on the way to Brisbane. It’s got parking out the front, a refreshing change from Brisbane which can be a parking nightmare, especially around The Fabric Store in Fortitude Valley!

Despite vowing not to add to my fabric ‘library’ on this trip, I succumbed to some blue fabrics – which seemed to be in plentiful supply in this shop! There were lovely piques, sateens, embroidered cottons, Japanese fabrics and a range of fabrics that Maria (the owner) imports from Madrid. I loved the white cotton broderies – which I’m still wondering why I didn’t buy as they would make gorgeous summer tops… then I look at the size of my fabric ‘library’ and remember why that’s a good thing!

This fabric was the end of the bolt (I think it was about 1.5m) and Maria slipped it into my bag when I bought the two fabrics below… clearly I have a thing for blues – thank you Maria. The Fabric Shop does have similar fabrics to this one – I just got the last sliver of this one – sorry!

A cotton pique and an imported embroider cotton eyelet

A cotton pique and an imported embroider cotton eyelet

Pattern: Grainline Alder, view A. Purchased by me.
Fabric: An ‘end of the bolt’ piece, woven rayon from The Fabric Shop.

I’m on a Grainline binge at the moment. I’ve also just made the Hemlock tee (the free Grainline pattern) with some striped cotton knit from The Fabric Store, Brisbane.


The following photos are for those who love to see Banjo on the blog.

There are quite a few whippets in Port Macquarie now. None of them seem to love the water quite like Banjo does. He will spend more time swimming than running if the family are in the water and he attracts a lot of attention as whippets are not famed for their love of swimming… although no one has told Banjo that…

Yes, my whippet even enjoys body surfing!

Yes, my whippet even enjoys body surfing!

I love this shot, he's such a happy handsome hound

I love this shot, he’s such a happy handsome hound.

Banjo - my favourite water rat.

Banjo – my favourite water rat.

Top 5 Hits – 2014 (or perhaps 4)

Before we even start this Top 5 blogging journey, I’d just like to say that I might not always blog ‘five’ things. It’s not that I can’t count, it’s just that I’d rather pick one thing, four things or maybe eight things or more… it’s just what feels right.

I enjoy these posts – for me. So skip over it or read on if you like. I find it interesting to sit back and think about the year just gone. Whether it’s sewing or life in general, it’s good to think about what worked, what didn’t and ‘where to next’.


Today I’m blogging my Top 5 Hits. The makes I’ve worn the most and feel most ‘like me’. It’s easy to get caught up in a trend but more and more I simply sew the things that appeal to me and my sense of style (or perhaps lack thereof!).

Drape Drape

My mother-in-law gave me Drape Drape book last Christmas – and I immediately ordered Drape Drape 2 & 3. These books really changed my sewing approach and ricocheted me off into a completely different style zone – where I’ve never felt more comfortable. They finally provided me with some options that were really what I wanted to create and wear. Some of the makes were perhaps a little crazy but I’ve found these patterns fascinating. Drape Drape posts are here…

As recently blogged, the draped singlet dress from Drape Drape 2 has been the runaway winner in this year’s sewing. This little make is simply a misshapen singlet/tank dress. It’s incredibly easy to make and takes just 1.1m of fabric. When I’ve worn them people want to know ‘who the designer is’ – that gives me particular delight with my red/white/blue one which cost me just $6 in fabric.  

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress.

Excuse the stupid pose. blowing a gale and the camera went flat. No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress. This is perhaps my favourite. I love the lyocell DKNY fabric and the vibrant colours.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side view - with the drapes.

Side view – with the drapes.

Vogue 8780 – the Ugly Duckling

Despite the incredibly uninspiring pattern artwork or even more ‘blah’ Vogue photography, this cardigan is one of my most loved & versatile pieces. It’s made from a very fine merino knit from The Fabric Store in Sydney – plucked from the remanent bin for just $19.

It’s lovely with dresses & jeans. I wear it at work as much as I wear it casually. It’s got lovely drape at the front, a flared hem and it’s fitted across the back. I will make a size smaller next time (this is a small) as the sleeves are quite roomy – but I don’t mind, I love wearing it as it is. To me, this is the perfect cardigan (or whatever you call this!).

All I can say is, you need this in your pattern stash, buy it before it becomes OOP.

Vogue 8780

Sorry can’t see much of the ‘make’ but I love all the natural tones in this shot.

Vogue 8780 - so versatile

Vogue 8780 – so versatile. That’s in the work lift… it has rather a lot of mirrors. Helpful for selfies! I didn’t make the pink dress, it’s an old Metallicus which I had bagged for the op shop – then I thought would lovely it would look with this cardigan. So glad I saved it!

Vogue 1250 & Maria Denmark Day-Night Dress

I’ve made five of these dresses, my most beloved is the Sew Dolly Clackett dress which I’ve worn to work many times. It’s a versatile, comfortable, fun & flattering dress. I’ve been surprised by how much people admire this given the somewhat ‘unusual’ print – it’s not for the faint-hearted! I love the quirkiness and the fact it’s a different colour palette to what I would usually wear.

I love this picture - not because it's a great one of me - but that 'window' in the print looks like a peephole into my soul... or belly button LOL

I love this picture – not because it’s a great one of me – but that ‘window’ in the print looks like a peephole into my soul… or belly button LOL

Grainline Alder Shirtdress

A very recent sewing hit. I’ve worn this a lot!. It’s easy to wear & I’m quite proud of my collar, placket & overall finish. I think I’m also emotionally attached to it as it was sewn on a happy, stress-free day – something I relished after some long, tough months.

I’ve got another Alder to share in the next few days!

Alder, view A - back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.

Alder, view A – back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.


There you have it. One indie (Grainline). One Vogue. One Vogue & indie (Maria Denmark) hybrid. One Japanese pattern book.

I love slightly fitted, draped clothes. I adore casual wear and love nothing more than an outfit that I can wear barefoot or with heels. It suits my lifestyle. I work fulltime (so corporate office wear five days a week) and when I’m not at work I like to relax – mentally and physically. We really do go to a quiet beach almost every weekend with the dog and spend plenty of time outside the house.

I’ve loved plenty of other things I’ve made, including my By Hand London Hollys or the dress Holly hack which were fun to make & joyous to wear (and I love that bodice). However for my everyday wear, these four makes/patterns are the ones I reach for the most often – clothes that feel most like ‘me’.

I often sew simply to experiment and challenge myself. I’ve always said I’m not always a practical blogger. I make things that are buzzing around in my head or make me happy (or I try to). My sewing room has many resident squirrels to distract me and one drunk monkey who wrecks havoc on my hems, buttonholes and topstitching when I’m too tired to fight him off.  However on my favourite sewing days, I’m making something I have envisaged and desperately want to wear – and it comes off the sewing machine like magic. Those are the great days.

Top 5 of 2014

Top 5 of 2014

The Grainline Alder Shirtdress, it’s more ‘me’

I like the fit across my back and shoulders. Grainlien Alder Dress

The latest shirtdress…

This year I’ve suffered from bouts of obsessional sewing. I’ve made three Hollys, three drop-waist dress (one still to be blogged), three draped singlet dresses and now three shirtdresses (sewing buttons on the third). I’ve really enjoyed taking a pattern, idea or something/anything and exploring it. That’s my favourite part of sewing, blogging and reading blogs – exploring variations. I also love sewing some patterns more than once if it triggers a burst of inspiration together – perhaps there is a miser hiding somewhere inside me (just not when it comes to fabric LOL).

While I love the idea of McCalls 6696 and I do like the shape on me… it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’. However I couldn’t give up the idea of a shirtdress.

I’m the first to confess I didn’t leap out of my skin when the Grainline Alder came out. However I just kept coming back to it after I finished the McCalls dress. Then I saw Cut Cut Sew’s version which I loved and I decided to take the plunge.

I had considered McCalls 6885 as made by Lori of Girls in the Garden, however there were no pattern sales locally, making the McCalls option quite expensive. I got out my Archer, tried it on and that sold me.

Why not just amend the Archer pattern if I had it? Excellent question and I wondered that myself when Alder was released. However the Archer has been drafted differently, as a sleeved shirt with the shoulders slightly oversized – there is a variation in the Alder sewalong if that’s what you want to do.

Anyway enough navel gazing and onto my make…

I spent last Friday sewing, at home by myself. It was heaven – decadent but work has been so overwhelming I needed a mental break. I sewed from about 9 to 4 – with a button-buying break around 2pm – thanks Lizzie for putting up with all my texted photos during the ‘audition process’ – and totally enabling the Alder sewing process!

Alder Dress Variations

Grainline Alder Dress – I made View A – the plain version on the right-hand side

The gathered skirt version appears to have been quite popular but the simplicity of the plainer version appealed to me.

Most of these pictures were taken by my husband while we were at the beach on Sunday morning with the kids, surfboards and Banjo. I didn’t even know he had taken most of them. The surf was rough, our favourite beach is unpatrolled (but it’s one of only two the dog can go to) meaning intense supervision is required when the kids go into the water.

Alder, view A - back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.

Alder, view A – back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer. A very windy morning and rough surf – I was watching the kids like a hawk.

I confess I am not a massive fan of polka dots… I know I am not a very cool blogger. However they seemed just right for this dress and it’s such a gorgeous shade of blue.

Front view, this is very 'my lifestyle', simple, loosely fitted and casual.

Front view, this is very ‘my lifestyle’, simple, loosely fitted and casual.

Ok, my McCalls 6696 has a great shape… but I really do love the Alder. I like the fit across my shoulders and upper chest. There are also bust darts to add some shape. I like the curved hem that gives it that ‘boyfriend’ shirt look and that it’s not oversized. I like the back – without any gathers, pleats or added fullness. I love that it’s so simple and waist-less. It’s really very ‘me’ and my lifestyle.


After my contrast disaster shirtdress I opted for streamlined simplicity with this make, white top-stitching & white buttons.

Yoke: sewn using the Burrito method – not outlined in the instructions but you can watch the online video from the Archer sewalong.

I like the fit across my back and shoulders. Grainlien Alder Dress

I like the fit across my back and shoulders.

Collar: attached using the Four Square Walls method, read about it here. I’m really starting to enjoy sewing shirts and want to prove my skills.

I did have trouble with my top stitching with this fabric, I ended up using my heavy duty Singer for most of the collar band - it's a plodder of a machine but great for some jobs.

I did have trouble with my top stitching with this fabric, I ended up using my heavy duty Singer for most of the collar band – it’s a plodder of a machine but great for some jobs.

Armholes: I folded my binding in half (wrong sides together), placed the raw edges to the raw edges of the armhole, stitched and understitched, then turned it over to the inside, then top stitched it in place. I really hate folding the second raw edge of self-made bias binding under after I’ve sewn one edge to the armhole, it’s so fiddly and I have little patience – especially when it comes to ironing on a hot day! This fabric is rayon so this technique worked for me, perhaps on a heavier fabric it would add too much bulk.
Pockets: I’d move them up about 1/4 inch or so on my next version
Buttons: I am so glad I went with something that just ‘disappears’, it gives me the freedom to wear this dress plain or dress it up with whatever accessories and shoes I like. I wish I hadn’t added the last button near the hem. Oh well, I know for next time. Is there a next time? Oh yes… I’ve nearly finished it!
Length: I’m 5 foot 4, I did not alter the length at all.

Verdict? I do like this pattern and I’d recommend it. I found that it went together beautifully (not seamlessly – as there is a lot of seams LOL). I like it on me – it’s not as ‘shapely’ as the McCalls but that doesn’t mean it’s shapeless. I’ve really enjoyed wearing this.

Pattern: Grainline Alder Shirtdress, purchased by me. There is an Alder Sewalong on the Grainline blog with lots of tips and variations if you are interested.
Fabric: Printed Rayon from Spotlight, Australia (sold out in my local store). Purchased by me at a 30% fabric sale, usually about $12 a metre. I used about 2m. I’m tossing up whether to make a self-fabric belt for this as I like Cut Cut Sew’s one… but it’s so tempting to squeeze a little summer top out of the scraps instead. This is lovely fabric to wear and doesnlt seem to crush as badly as other rayons.

Also see: Little Betty Sews | Tiff Toffee | Ginger Made | Pincushion Treats | Sew Unravelled | Holly Anna Bella | Justina Sews | just google image Grainline Alder Shirtdress there are quite a few out there!

The ‘not Birthday Dress’ 2014, Drape Drape 2, No 2 (again)

So I had birthday earlier this week. I’m not a huge fan of birthdays but I was very spoilt this year by my family, friends and workmates which was rather fun I confess.

I had planned to make a birthday dress but my sewing time in 2014 has been much less than previous years for a whole bunch of reasons. So that didn’t happen this year… alas maybe next.

However I did wear a made-by-me dress to all my birthday dinner events (there was somehow three!) so I figure that kinda counts as a birthday dress. It took me all of about 90 minutes from cutting to hemming.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side view - with the drapes.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side view – with the drapes.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress. Necklace is a resin by a company called Polka Luca. I fused the hem up as I didn’t want to interrupt the fabric design with a stitch line.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Chevron side

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Chevron side – sorry my arm is in the way and then the camera battery went flat and then I went out to dinner!

If you were at Frocktails recently you would have seen this – probably the most simply dressed person there, wearing what is basically a draped singlet. I struggled with fancy and fuss so I guess this little make personifies my style, something simple with a little bit of a twist.

This is actually my third version of this dress. I made one earlier this year that went unblogged, there didn’t seem much to say. This red/white/blue version is one of my favourite makes. I love the strong contrasts, if I’m wearing it out I wear it with my blue heels and a chunky white silicone Jellystones necklace. When I’m just banging about the house on a weekend, I wear it without jewellery and my flip-flops (aka ‘thongs’ if you are an Aussie). The fabric came from the bargain table at Spotlight and the fabric cost me about $6 all up.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. front view

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. front view. Excuse the face – it was a late, hot, windy summer evening last February. I wore this to work on casual Friday once and was stopped by an elderly gentlemen in the foyer who wanted to tell me I looked ‘spectacular’.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side front view - chevron side. I've sorted out that seam puckering...

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side front view – chevron side. I’ve sorted out that seam puckering… and congratulations if you have spotted that my shoes are exactly the same as above just in a different colour!

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Back view - with the drapes.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Back view – with the drapes…. and now I’m wondering why I cut all my hair off… oh well it grows.

It’s interesting making the same pattern several times. It goes without saying that the drapier your knit for this design, the better. This final version is perhaps the best in terms of fabric. It’s a DKNY lyocell – which is essentially a rayon knit. It’s extremely lightweight and divine to wear.

This is one of my ‘tried and true’ patterns – in fact I’ve worn all three this weekend. Considering I wasn’t sure about this look on me at all when I made my first one, it’s proven to be a summer wardrobe staple.

Pattern: No 2 from Drape Drape 2, also blogged here.
Fabric: DKNY lyocell knit from The Fabric Store, Sydney. It was $25 a metre, I used 1.1m for this make, you do need fabric that is 150cm wide for this design.
All fabric, patterns, jewellery and shoes purchased by me.

And yes, I got lots of sewing related presents… here are the most ‘sew busy Lizzy’ presents.

Japanese sewing books, 'cotton reel' earrings, t-shirt (enough said) and a very cute silver spoon!

Japanese sewing books, ‘cotton reel’ earrings, t-shirt (enough said) and a very cute silver spoon!

An artwork for my sewing room - a gift form my parents-in-law. Yes, that's Japanese vintage fabric integrated into the work.

An artwork for my sewing room – a gift form my parents-in-law. That’s Japanese vintage fabric integrated into the work. A hasty iPhone photo while on the way to the dinner!


What birthday is complete without…





The ‘Why did I do that?’ Shirtdress, McCalls 6696

Ever make something, finish and think… now why did I do that???

This is one of those makes… alas…

McCalls 6696 - no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me.

McCalls 6696 – no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me.

This is the infamous McCalls 6696 shirtdress.

McCalls 6696 - the pattern

McCalls 6696 – the pattern

I finished this early September. Life has been overwhelming and I’m struggling to keep up with the laundry – not to mention blog posts. I’ve got another two things to blog… actually three…

I absolutely loved making this. Loved it. Yes, being a shirtdress it’s quite a detailed make. Yoke, collar, button band, waist band, belt keepers, pockets and more. The cutting seemed to take forever. I imagine trying to sew it up in a few sessions would be exhausting.

I sewed this in a gorgeous fabric – a Lisette lawn, silky soft and such a pretty print. Not too colourful and flowery for me.

I sewed it up over a week or so. Cutting, pinning, basting, sewing, overlocking, ironing, hand stitching when I had an opportunity. I purchased this pattern as soon as it was released, and traced it. Then put it on the back burner and watched everyone else sew it up. I just had not felt I had enough time to make it up.

McCalls 6696 - the only side shot we took!

McCalls 6696 – the only side shot we took, I was rather distracted that day as it was the puppy’s first day at the beach.

I made most of this while my husband was away for a few weeks and I was doing the typical ‘working mother’ juggle of work-school-meals-activities-appointments etc. When the girls were in bed, I would do the quiet tasks… cutting, pinning and hand sewing. I would sew some seams when I woke up and so on. It always surprises me how much I enjoy making garments in this manner. I find I make less mistakes, my sewing is more considered.


I attached the yoke using the burrito method ala Grainline Archer shirt. It’s genius.


After my silk Grainline Archer collar battle, I decided to try Four Square Walls method of attaching the collar. I personally found this SO much easier.


This was my massive blooper of the make. It’s not that I hate contrasts and quirkiness. I just hate it on me. I think if I had sewn it up plain with no contrast, I would be much happier. Oh well, you live and learn!

McCalls 6696 - inside front view

McCalls 6696 – inside front view

McCalls 6696 - inside back view

McCalls 6696 – inside back view. I am not a huge fan of the gathers in the back. They felt puffy so I ironed them flat before I wore the dress.

McCalls 6696 - close up of the contrast horror on me...

McCalls 6696 – close up of the contrast horror on me…

I cut the inner waistband, inner collar stand and inner button plackets a from small pink gingham. I made bias strips of the blue fabric to finish the armholes. I know! Attention to detail plus!


I’m not sure if it is of any interest to anyone whatsoever and it’s certainly not ‘new’, however I used some of the quick-piecing techniques I used when I used to make quilts, it’s not rock science but it does speed up your sewing – quilting or dressmaking. I’ve found that being skilled in a wide variety of crafts has been enormously helpful with my dressmaking. I won’t bore you with all the details here as it’s not relevant but I did use one of those techniques to quickly create my contrast buttonbands – if it is of no interest or you have seen this before, skip over the next section.

I don’t blog every detail of my makes, there is a lot of knowledge out there, I’m including this as it’s a variation on the pattern and thought it might be useful to someone.

You could easily add seam allowances, cut four bands and sew them together. Or you could do this…

I added seam allowance to the button band and cut one button band from the blue fabric and one from the pink. I interfaced the pink strip. I then placed the two button bands right sides together (pink and blue) and sewed down the outer two lines.

You will need add seam allowances to the pattern buttonbands. The centre line is what you will cut down to create two bands. The outer lines are your stitching lines.

You will need add seam allowances to the pattern buttonbands. The centre line is what you will cut down to create two bands. The outer lines are your stitching lines.

McCalls 6696 - Once you have sewn along the two outer lines, cut down the centre line - or use your rotary cutter to create two buttonbands.

McCalls 6696 – Once you have sewn along the two outer lines, cut down the centre line – or use your rotary cutter to create two button bands.

McCalls 6696 - ta da. We now have two buttonbands

McCalls 6696 – ta da. We now have two button bands

Then iron the seam allowances (trim if required) towards the pink contrast side.

McCalls 6696 - understitching the buttonband

McCalls 6696 – understitching the button band

Iron the bands wrong sides together and…

McCalls 6696 - the finished buttonband

McCalls 6696 – the finished button band

I’m not one of those super-organised bloggers with a fancy camera on a tripod. I make no apology for that – I use the family point-and-shoot camera. I often think half way through a make “oh that might be interesting to someone” and absent-mindedly use my iPhone to document my work.

I did contact Heather of Handmade By Heather B via twitter before I attached the button bands as the instructions said to turn the unnotched band edge over 3/8in and then sew the band to the dress (this will make sense if you make the dress). It just struck me as odd when the band is folded in half and then the band is sewn to the dress with a 5/8in seam allowance it didn’t feel logical that the 3/8in turned under edge out meet/cover the stitching line. Heather confirmed that she probably hadn’t even read the instructions as she constructed her shirtdress. I often don’t but shirts with collars make me nervous. Heather said she had probably sewn her bands on with a 5/8in seam allowance and turned the raw edge under 5/8in as well. So I did too.


I hand sewed the inner waistband, collar stand and hem. I overlocked the raw edges.

I’m not pleased with the top stitching around the collar & buttonbands, I should unpick this stitching and re-do it closer to the edge. It looks heavy-handed to me as it is.

I took a lot of care with this make… and I love every minute of it. It just goes to prove, there can be as much joy in the making as the wearing. I sew because I love the process. That’s here I find my magic.

McCalls 6696 - note to self - standing wonky never does wonders for the butt view.

McCalls 6696 – note to self – standing wonky never does wonders for the butt view.


I might not like my interpretation on me, however I loved making it and think it is a great pattern. A real classic.


I’d definitely have no contrast fabrics. I’d add some length to the bodice and taper out the skirt more over my hips. Or maybe I’m just not a shirtdress kinda gal.

PATTERN: McCalls 6696, view C.
FABRIC: Lisette lawn from Spotlight.

ALSO SEE: Handmade by Heather B | Idle Fancy | Sewmanju | Sew Dixie Lou | Sew Amy Sew

McCalls 6696 - view C.

McCalls 6696 – view C. It is pretty, I don’t know why I can’t make myself fall in love… alas.

The Coat of Many Bloggers – Eagle by Vanessa Pouzet

This fabric haunted me. I saw it on the Mood Fabrics website and just needed it in my life and wardrobe so decided to select it for one of my Mood Sewing Network makes.

And then of course I couldn’t decide what to make. This is typical Sew Busy Lizzy style. Buy a fabric and then spend HOURS picking a pattern… and unpicking a pattern… and picking a pattern… and unpicking a pattern… you get the idea… I get so sick of my indecisiveness. I guess that’s my creative process and I just have to live with it. This jacket was the nearlyMcCalls-nearlyBurda-nearlyVogue-and-finallyVanessaPouzet project!

My Mood Fabrics Make that I've nicknamed the Coat of Many Bloggers - in honour of the amazing community of people that searched for the pattern, encouraged me and helped me translate the pattern!

My Mood Fabric Make that I’ve nicknamed the Coat of Many Bloggers – in honour of the amazing community of people that searched for the pattern, encouraged me and helped me translate the pattern!

I loved this Italian Carolina Herrera Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics NY as soon as I saw it. I’m a complete sucker for anything blue. I adored how the weave of this plaid produces almost a holographic look and graduates softly between black/white/blue. It’s not a harsh plaid with solid lines.

I had originally thought to sew McCalls 6442 (which I have always loved and had stashed for ages) however it just didn’t feel right for this fabric.

Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics

Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics

I had wanted to sew a more traditional coat but keep coming back to the idea of a waterfall/draped long-line loose jacket. I’ve always found it best to go with the heart when you sew. If you look at a fabric and immediately envisage it made up as a certain item of clothing… then go with that.

Strangely I like plaids, checks and ginghams if they are slightly messed up when sewn up. I like the juxtaposition of the orderly fabric pattern set with a design which throws out the regularity of the fabric print/weave. Others are the master of stripe and pattern matching such as Lauren aka The Mistress of Plaid who makes the most amazing things.

My Hot Mess Dress of 2013 is one of my favourite makes so  I decided to find my ideal Messy Plaid Jacket pattern.

My jacket crush, the fabric and Burda Style 10-2012 #103. Perfect pattern match but horrid on me

My jacket crush, the fabric and Burda Style 10-2012 #103. Perfect pattern match but horrid on me

Then I stumbled across an image on Pinterest – I know that fabric… tweeted about the perfect coat and where could I find the pattern? Orange Lingerie suggested Burda 10-2012 #103 which I had in my stash – which is indeed the nearly perfect match…

So I made a super rough muslin, BurdaStyle patterns with their lack of seam allowance and somewhat wacky instructions always make me nervous… and while the coat fitted – the collar absolutely dwarfed me. Sorry no picture as I was ‘home alone’, the dog turned it into a sleeping mat for a week – and it rather grossed me out to put it back on after that!

So I decided to make another muslin (this never happens) of my favourite draped jacket/cardigan pattern, Vogue 8780 - and this definitely did not work in a woven – the arms were uncomfortable…

I tweeted along the ‘woe is me’ lines about the lack of draped patterns for woven fabrics..

Then a miracle happened.

  • The Perfect Nose tweeted a new jacket pattern called Eagle from Vanessa Pouzet - who I had never heard of…
  • Vicki Kate Makes saw the design, thought it was just what I’d been looking for and tweeted me (thank you VK!)…
  • I broke out into joyous celebration – the pattern was found… I tweeted and Stephanie of Love Teach Sew also purchased it. She has translated and made up the jacket – just not finished yet. She was enormously helpful in providing some assistance in understanding the pattern – not to mention encouragement – which I badly needed as I felt quite daunted by the project. Thank you so much Stephanie!

This pattern is in French, it has diagrams but they don’t convey the full construction process – and no I can’t speak French. Never mind I thought… there’s always Google Translate! Unfortunately I seriously think some Googlebot-thingie was doing a mechanical giggle as it translated for me as I just got more confused!


The construction is slightly unusual. I haven’t sewn too many jackets but I have never sewn a lined jacket with this order of construction.

  1. You sew lining and shell back pieces together along the hemline (leaving a gap for turning).
  2. You attach the shoulder pieces to the front shell and lining pieces.
  3. You sew the front shell and lining together along the front and hem seam. You turn them right side out.
  4. You then attach the back to the fronts along the side seams – overlapping the back hem (hard to explain but it makes sense as you sew it – you just need some blind faith) as the back is longer than the front until this point – you stop before the armhole.
  5. You sew the shoulder seams.
  6. You sew the neckline
  7. You then attach the sleeves to the lining and then the shell. Yes I’m serious.
  8. You then machine the sleeve hems. I personally love machining my jacket sleeves hems. It’s a bit of a brain buster the first time you do it – but it is worth learning.
  9.  Turn right side out – and sew up the lower jacket hem.

Sorry, I’m writing from memory so I will amend the above construction order if I find it to be wrong when I find the pattern in my sewing room (my work life is at its annual peak right now so time is scarce) – however in essence this isn’t your ‘usual’ jacket construction – well not that’s I’ve experienced.

If you are nervous about plaids and all that pattern matching. Don’t be. Look for simple patterns or patterns where you can play with the plaid rather than be hemmed in by its rigid nature.

Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics.  Vanessa Pouzet Eagle pattern. Sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

The Eagle Jacket – side view. When you move the fabric seems to play tricks on your eyes. It’s quite unusual. And my legs are doing some weird pigeon-toed spin for your entertainment – you’re welcome…


While this pattern may be draped, there was still some plaid matching to be done. To match the plaid I decided to cut the pieces out flat. So I created a full pattern piece for the back and two of the front piece so I could lay them flat and double check that all the plaid would intersect correctly at the side and front seams. I know you can pin your fabric, matching the plaids and cut on the fold… I just prefer this way…

And a confession… I often use a sharpie to trace around my patterns if I know that they excess fabric will be trimmed off. With a bond paper PDF it is so much easier than trying to pin it to the fabric. There – I’ve said it.

To match the sleeves, I cut these out last – after I had constructed the body of the jacket. I often work that way with pattern matching if I know I have plenty of fabric to play with – I cut out a piece at a time as I sew. I put the sleeveless jacket on my dressmaking form, held the paper pattern pieces up to the armhole and marked where the black plaids on the armhole were meeting the sleeve and marked this on the pattern piece. I then laid the marked pattern pieces on the fabric, matching up the plaid and the pattern marks and then cut out the sleeves. Due to the leather shoulder pieces it was impossible to match the back and the front. So I elected the match the front piece and front sleeve.

The shoulders are leather – cut from a piece gifted to me by my lovely friend Susan of Measure Twice, Cut Once from her stash. The shoulders also mean that there are a few less seams to pattern match. You can focus on matching the side seams and the fronts.

This fabric has enough drape to fall into a single fold when left unbelted.

This fabric has enough drape to fall into a single fold when left unbelted.

I think the full flare of this coat unbelted, it’s massive and swingy – perhaps swamping me a little but I love coats and tops that billow about. There is something fun and dramatic as they swing around your legs and body as you walk, especially if you walk as fast as I do!.

Wearing it unbelted, the jacket fronts hang with a single fold, when I belted it I folded them back to get a ‘plaid origami’ look. I also love how it transforms from a freeform coat into quite a soft feminine shape with a belt.

I can't help myself - I always push up my sleeves unless it is bitterly cold.

I can’t help myself – I always push up my sleeves unless it is bitterly cold.

I must say, this jacket isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s mine (always black tea with two for me). The patterns isn’t particularly difficult… once you figure it out. Clearly I battled with my language limitations but it was a fun challenge.

And now I have a big snuggly jacket for my January holiday – yes January is still my summer but we will be in alpine Tasmania for a week which can be hot – or sometimes throwing down a bit of snow at that time of the year.

Fabric: Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting
Pattern: Eagle by Vanessa Pouzet (French, untranslated)

I’ve just got to say – this jacket epitomises the reasons why I love sewing and blogging. Lots of people helped and encouraged me. It was like being wrapped up in a big warm sewing hug when you ask for help. Corny but true. Thank you!


I went to Frocktails in Brisbane last weekend, I combined it with a work trip… I think I squashed in too many work appointments and took too much work with me – oh well, tax deductible travel I guess! So many lovely people… while this photo wasn’t taken at Frocktails it’s one of my favourite pictures of the weekend… this is me and my lovely sewing friend Busy Lizzie (I think it’s fate we launched our blogs within days of each other with the similar names – what are the chances?) who is so supportive in some many ways and has become a great friend. Mwah, you are a treasure!

Busy Lizzy and Busy Lizzie

Busy Lizzy and Busy Lizzie (I’m in an unblogged red/white/blue variegated stripe Drape Drape dress and Lizzie in her Miz Mozelle dress)

This was taken at the lovely Marjorie Sews’ home – not only did she cook a cracking dinner but she also let us play with her hat collection… yes people she made these. Check Marjorie out on Instagram - so very very clever and an absolute sweetheart… and I do want to buy that red/white/blue hat one day Marjorie!

If you are in Brisbane sometime before 15 February 2015 then you must check out Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. I went and saw this with Lizzie and Marjorie. Loved it – thought it was fascinating. And I really do want to see Undressed: 30 Years of Underwear in Fashion and Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Why are there always too many things I want to see?! And then there is The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in Melbourne… argh!


I was supposed to be on the Pattern Parcel #6 tour. I really wanted to be. I think it’s a great parcel – especially if you like knits.

Several things popped up unexpectedly in my life. Manic work schedules exploding (my busiest time of the year with additional tasks being added), husband away fishing, youngest daughter in hospital (thought that was going to be in January – fret not – she is fine) and the list goes on and one and on. Like for anyone else, sometimes ‘life happens’.

This might also explain why I might not have responded to some emails & blogs comments. Sorry, I will. Soon.

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I actually bought Pattern Parcel – yes I had the patterns but I like to be a contributor not just an enabler/encourager. I spend plenty of money on sewing, far beyond what I receive. It’s my hobby and indulgence – and I also like to support the industry. Not just indies, but the Big 4, fabric shops and so on. It’s all part of a bigger picture. If I unexpectedly couldn’t support it as a feature blogger, I’m more than happy to buy the patterns. If you saw my pattern ‘library’ you would be greatly amused – it is HUGE!
Pattern Parcel No.6So there is just hours left – Pattern Parcel is out there and waiting for you if you are fond of knits, skirts, dresses, tunics, pants or cardigans, this one might be just for you.