A Flutter Sleeve T-Shirt from Casual Sweet Clothes

AKA The Everyday Caped Crusader Tshirt!

This book was reviewed on a few blogs recently – and I wasn’t totally convinced. Then I went to Sydney for Frocktails, visited the most amazing bookshop… flipped through it and I had to have it. I could have bought all the Japanese sewing books but I do try to exercise some restraint… sometimes…

Totally unplanned picture - but seemed too perfect! A Superman Koala on our Town Green (which comes with a bonus waterfront!)

Totally unplanned picture – but seemed too perfect! A Superman Koala on our Town Green (which comes with bonus river frontage). All credit to Miss 9: Posing Supercoach

I’ve always been fascinated by Japanese arts & crafts – the design, quality, attention to detail and workmanship are exceptional. My first love was via patchwork and quilting. Sewing clothes has opened up a new world of Japanese indulgence for me.

Warning: loads of pictures in this post as I’ve decided to review the book (note: it’s my book, purchased with my own funds. I just found the adventure interesting and decided to share it with you).

Earlier this year I went on a Drape Drape binge with some rather unusual pieces (here, here, here, here and here) – the pattern pieces and construction fascinated me. I am keen to make some more.

Now I am equally fascinated by the stylistic simplicity of the ‘other sort’ of Japanese pattern books. Sweet Casual Clothes seems to fall into what I’m starting to consider the Japanese ‘everyday’ clothing aesthetic.

Casual Sweet Clothes

Casual Sweet Clothes

While I love a good complicated sewing project and my work wardrobe is quite structured, I love to wear very simple casual clothes with clean lines. Fortunately for me I fall into the Japanese size range, I’m a medium tall and Japanese size small in terms of body it seems.

I’ve decided to share images of the clothes that you can make from this book and show you the sizing chart (I get asked this frequently about Drape Drape books and it’s a very valid question if you are thinking about buying a Japanese sewing book). I do find buying patterns books online un-nerving as they can be an unknown quantity, you rarely see all of the makes. I did purchased Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials and was a little disappointed with it – mainly because all the makes are black and it is harder to see details which is frustrating for a line art junkie (the garments are shown in the instructions but not as well as I like. Which naturally means I am now determined to make some of these clothes and like them – I’m contrary like that.). So I’m hoping some of what I share might be helpful to you if you have hovered on the brink of indecision with this book.

The sizing chart (I love the ‘without clothing’ reference):-

Casual Sweet Clothes: Size Chart

Casual Sweet Clothes: Size Chart

And most of the projects (I’ve omitted a simple lace trimmed cami and a pair of shorts)

A casual jacket, tiered skirt, lace skirt and long-line jacket

A casual jacket, tiered skirt, lace skirt and long-line jacket

Love this braided edge denim jacket, a bolero with a flounced edge and a very sweet short, flared coat

Love this braided edge denim jacket, a bolero with a flounced edge and a sweet short, flared coat  (I want to make all these jackets!


A lace trimmed shirt, a very simple sacklike black dress (but I love that lace trimmed sleeve) and a plain white top with tied shoulders

A lace trimmed shirt, a very simple sacklike black dress (but I love that lace trimmed sleeve) and a plain white top with tied shoulders

Casual ribbon trimmed pants, a simple shift and an embellished wool vest

Casual ribbon trimmed pants, a simple shift and an embellished wool vest

A flutter sleeve shift, a simple colour-block shift and a jersey flutter sleeve top.

A flutter sleeve shift, a simple colour-block shift and a jersey flutter sleeve top.

In the interests for time, I’ve snapped these on my iPhone and used a photo composite app to create these images to give you a rough overview.

Instructions? They are quite Burda-like. They are brief but accompanied by diagrams. Beginners may find the brevity a little daunting – however when you begin you don’t know what you are missing so perhaps not! I tackled a Burda project early in my sewing days and managed just fine!

Casual Sweet Clothes: a snapshot of what you can expect instruction-wise

Casual Sweet Clothes: a snapshot of what you can expect instruction-wise

The Patterns? You need to add seam allowances – they recommend 1cm, however if you prefer a different seam allowance you can easily use your own. You can see on the pattern layout that it indicates when you should vary the allowance – generally for hems. (LOL I’ve just noticed that it doesn’t indicate any seam allowance on the armholes of this top… I added them but it doesn’t seem to matter on the finished make.

I do find these pattern sheets much easier to trace then Burda – they are not so cluttered and there are less sizes. In some cases the XS-S are combined and so on. I also use lightweight white plastic ‘party table cloth’ to trace my patterns which is very easy to see through. A tip I picked up from Handmade by Carolyn.

My Make

I chose to make up the jersey top in small. It reminded me of the Sewaholic Pendrell which I have made before and liked. This top has more aeroplane-worthy wings!

The stash spat out some ribbed white/lemon knit for this make. I have never, ever worn yellow before. Seriously. I am surprised that I quite like this soft shade on me (a lifetime of avoidance for no apparently reason it would seem).  The fabric was the devil itself. The rib texture made hemming it impossible. Yes, I used fusible hem tape and it is still a mess and all ‘fluted’. The shirt itself is loose and I can live with it.

To be honest I thought this might be too feminine and theatrical on me. I’ve never been a fan of fuss however I was surprised when I put it on. I really do like this top. I’m also pretty happy with the sun protection factor it offers!

Side view - without the flappiness

Side view – without the floppiness

The instructions to attach the neckline and armhole bindings seem unnecessarily fussy to me. I did attach the neckline in the manner instructed (attach one long edge and then fold the other raw edge to the inside, tucking over the seam allowance and slip stitching it in place on the inside – I’ll admit it does give a nice finish – fiddly though!). I choose to attach the armholes bindings in more of the Sewaholic Renfrew manner – fold the strips in half wrong side together and attach them to the right side of the armhole and then press the seam to the inside (does that make any sense??).

the insides

the insides – hard to photograph neatly as you need to keep the wings kept in and they rather dislike the coathanger!


Preparing for take off - side view in the coastal breeze

Preparing for take off – side view in the coastal breeze

I also decided to roll hem the ‘wings’ – which was an excellent decision after the hemming disaster of the lower hem! I decided that a hem would add weight and change the fall of the fabric – so I omitted the 1.5cm seam allowance indicated on the layout and just finished the edge with a rolled hem (if you are wondering how to do this, I blogged about it here… it’s very easy!)

side/back view

side/back view

Front view - the hem is hideous. I love this fabric but it was a b*&ch to sew.

Front view – the hem is hideous. I love this fabric but it was a b*&ch to sew – stretched out beyond belief. I had to use the twin needle on my Bernina to hem it as the coverstitch just gobbled it up!


So all in all – if you like this simple feminine style and you are in the size range or awesome at resizing patterns, this book could hold some appeal for you and be a good investment. I do find Japanese patterns to be very generous – or perhaps not as body conscious as our usual style of fit. For the $20 – $30 it might cost you, you get quite a lot of patterns.

I’m surprised and happy with this make. I made it because I was curious about such a style on me – and discovered that while I might have walked past it in a store, I do like it on me. Yay for sewing and experimenting. I did try it on with my navy Hollyburn and my husband promptly told me I looked Amish. While the Hollyburn gave it a ‘waist’ it also dramatically shortened my frame visually. I think the volume of the top works better on me with skinny jeans and makes it look modern rather than blousy and old-fashioned.

Next up on the blog will be a top from a Japanese sewing book – which hasn’t been translated!


What’s with the koalas? It’s the Hello Koalas Sculpture Project. We currently have 50 of them scattered about the region, the majority of them located in Port Macquarie’s town centre. We took the kids on a koala spotting adventure on the weekend. They adored it. You can see all the koalas here. Yes, it is a pretty nice place I live in…

Loved this little guy... in fact they are all quite fabulous in their own way!

Loved this little guy… in fact they are all quite fabulous in their own way!


My writing process blog hop…

The gorgeous Margo of Sewing in the Gap nominated me in My Writing Process blog hop because she liked “the honest place from which she writes about sewing and life in general.” That made me smile, I’m often too honest and open for my own good – that’s just how I am.

Margo of Creating in the Gap

Margo of Creating in the Gap

What is the Blog Hop all about? It’s simply answering four questions about your writing process. I’ve found these posts really interesting. While we often focus on the sewing process and the makes, it’s interesting to know about people’s blogs from their writing approach.

1. What are you working on at the moment?

From a writing point of view… the Jeans in June/July post - it’s been in the works forever! Apologies! Must keep typing. The kids have kept me manically busy with an onslaught of dance & drama eisteddfods, school concerts, major school projects and more. I’ve written and sewn much less during this period as I’ve valued my ‘downtime’ on the lounge – one needs some time to wipe the drool of exhaustion from their chin. I’ve been happy to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour some nights – it’s the little victories that you must celebrate. I don’t think I’m any busier than anyone else, we all have crazy days. Unfortunately my 2014 crazy days seem to have been wedged into August-September-October. I think we are hitting a calm patch (touch wood).

Sometimes the exhaustion that comes with helping your children fulfil their dreams results in some beautiful memories...

Backstage warm-ups. Sometimes the exhaustion that comes with helping your children fulfil their dreams results in some beautiful memories…
That’s my Zoe in the red top.

From a sewing point of view… my obsession with Japanese sewing books has returned. It’s hard to believe this time last year I didn’t own a Japanese sewing book… and now I have… eight. So expect some Japanese makes coming this way soon.

and this time last year I didn't own a Japanese sewing book. Shape Shape 1 is on loan from a friend.

and this time last year I didn’t own a Japanese sewing book. Shape Shape 1 is on loan from a friend. Pattern Magic is missing from this shot.

There is a plaid jacket on it’s way… I actually going to make a muslin because I want this coat to fit ‘just so’ (I know, I fainted too at the thought of me making a muslin. This.never.happens).

My ready-to-wear inspiration, the fabric and the pattern....

My ready-to-wear inspiration, the fabric and the pattern….


2. How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?

I don’t think it does.

Perhaps my backdrops are almost always outdoor and often on my local beaches – however there are plenty of bloggers who photograph their makes on the beach, like the fabulously talented Handmade by Carolyn.

I tend to sew a rather wide, & at times wild, variety of garments. I’ve stated many times that I don’t sew for practical reasons, although I do produce clothes that I wear. I’m inspired to sew for personal and creative reasons. Sewing is my mental yoga and I am rather addicted to colours, patterns and shapes. Sewing provides an opportunity to experiment and I find the endless variety addictive.

From a writing perspective I think I don’t differ much either. The very nature of this sort of blogging is that we write about ourselves and our sewing. I guess my ‘voice’ is unique to me – like any other blogger. As Margo pointed out, I tend to write from the heart… for better or worse. My favourite writing style has always been ‘first-person’ and I’ve written a good deal in that vein – for myself and others – in my professional life. Sometimes more of ‘me’ escapes into text than I intend. Often I hate that in hindsight – but that’s what makes me ‘me’. I’m an extroverted thinker, I tend to verbalise all my thought processes (with lots of arm waving) – where some others ponder things silently, I talk as I work through a thought (yes it annoys me too), often ending up at a completely different place… that is reflected in my writing.

I think my blog is like so many blogs in the sewing genre. I’m on a journey. You are invited to come along and read my rambling and browse my snapshots. The roads we choose and the terrain we cover may vary greatly, the people we met along the way may touch and change our lives. That for me has been the most beautiful and unexpected thing that blogging. The fusion of writing and sewing has bought to me a new view of the world and myself, and wonderful friends.

3. Why do you write what you write?

I often ask myself that one! I often write late at night, around midnight. It’s one of the few times I don’t feel that I am short-changing my family. Some nights I’m sleepless and writing is a productive alternative. Other nights I’m stressed after a long, long day or I’ve had to endure a difficult person or situation – like so many hobby bloggers. It’s impossible not to let those things slide into view – or type – well for me at least. If I was writing a ‘how to sew’ blog (note: definitely never going to happen LOL) or something along those lines, I would write in a vastly different way. However in this space I’m writing what I consider a ‘personal sewing blog’… so that’s what you get – for better or for worse some days (sorry about that!).

Sometimes I’ve written things that are raw and honest – and sometimes I wish I could unwrite them. However that feels dishonest so I leave them there, it’s part of the journey. Sometimes people read things into them that aren’t there… but that’s life. People bring themselves to a text, filling in the gaps and making assumptions which they view as ‘fact’. I share some of my life but definitely never all of it. I’ve got some personal ‘lines in the sand’, I think everyone does.

Sometimes what I wrote two years ago is starkly different to what I think or do now – that’s the interesting thing about blogging.

4. What’s your writing process, and how does it work?

When I’m feeling inspired or happy, my fingers fly across the keyboard. Words, or the ‘gift of the gab’ as my father called it, has always come easily to me.

Blog writing is vastly different to writing that I do in the context of my IRL job. Work writing is often very considered, necessarily neutral and edited within an inch of its life by many different people for a variety of reasons. Most days you just have to suck it up and ‘toe the line’ professionally.

I don’t want my blog writing to become like my work writing. I blog write ‘off-the-cuff’, flippantly – particularly in reference myself. I often think that the Aussie attitude gets lost in translation, particularly type. Not much I can do about that – I love an Aussie turn of phrase and most of all the self-depreciating manner, the slight irreverence to authority and so on.

Often I write posts twice as long as what I end up publishing. Because I think and write in such an extroverted fashion, I tend to wander off on a mental tangent before meandering back to what it’s supposed to be about… the sewing!

Sometimes when I’m sewing a song, an idea or something that has happened (good and bad) pops into my head. Those thoughts become part of the garment and work their way into the post and become a theme. For me, the writing and the sewing are inextricably linked, one is a reflection of the other. Generally those are happy or silly things… sometimes not. ‘Happy’ is back on the sewing menu and I’m sewing for the sheer hell of it at the moment – just like I used to in the early days of my blog.

Who’s next?
This was an easy pick for me.

Anne of Pretty Grievances.
Anne’s was one of the first blogs I found… and remains one of my favourites. Her personality bursts out of the screen and pops down next to you on the lounge. I’d love to have a meal with Anne, although I might choke on my chutney from giggling too much.

I’m convinced that no one else could have dragging the sewing world kicking & giggling into the full embrace of animal print via Jungle January. We have entered the fabric jungle and Anne is leading the way with a machete in hand! She’s a truly unique voice – and I shall never look at any catwalk photo the same way again.

Love this picture of Anne because the speech bubble kills me every.time.

The one and only Anne of Pretty Grievances: When I'm not complaining, I sew….

The one and only Anne of Pretty Grievances: When I’m not complaining, I sew….

Amanda of Bimble & Pimble
What’s not to love about a sassy sewing gal that types a sentence like… “I think I may be a boat neck lady in my noggin but in real life I am Baroness von Scoop Neckington. But what’s life for if not living on the edge – neck meat covered up and all!”. There is no one quite like Amanda.

Amanda of Bimble and Pimble

Amanda of Bimble and Pimble.

This is one cool sewing chick and she is one of the most beautiful & funny souls IRL.

So over to you ladies!

Figgy’s Sunki Dress and Pattern Parcel #5 for Girls and Tweens…

I sew A LOT for myself (clearly). I have sewn some things for my girls but one of the biggest hindrances to sewing for the kids was a lack of interesting or ‘cool’ patterns for them – or rather my inability to unearth them. Patterns that interested me to sew and patterns that interested them to wear. There seems to be a lot of ‘pretty’ patterns for little girls… and not much for the tweens.

So when Pattern Parcel contacted me again about Pattern Parcel #5 Girls and Tweens – I was ‘yes ma’am‘.

I chose to make up the Sunki Dress which is the ‘Bonus Pattern’. I’ve always liked Figgy’s Patterns – they just didn’t extend far enough in sizing for my girls… until now. In fact, I like all of their range as it’s modern and girly without being fussy or frilly. I think my girls would wear their entire range, I hope they extend their sizing for more of the designs.

ELH and Giselle conducted this photo shoot on their own, while taking Banjo for a run on the beach. This weekend I’m on ‘dance mum’ duties at the local dance eisteddfod (story of my life for the past three weeks, if it’s not an Eisteddfod – it’s practising for one!).

The fabric for this make came from the ‘Fabric Library’. Some time ago I picked up a couple of pieces of batik fabric from the ‘op shop’ (charity store) for just $2. It’s a firm cotton with a border print – it has absolutely no brand or markings anywhere on it, which makes me wonder if it was purchased as a souvenir while travelling… it just seemed perfect for this…

Sunki dress front view

Front view

You can just see the pocket opening in this picture.

You can just see the pocket openings in this picture. The side panels also play host to some cleverly inset pockets.

Sunki Dress: back view

Sunki Dress: back view. Swimmer straps poking out…

The only thing I found worth mentioning about the pattern is that when sewing in the front panel and pockets it refers to the notch on the pocket piece (or that is how it seemed to me) – however this is on the side panel not the pocket piece. The pockets are a tiny bit fiddly to put in – however with a bit of pinning & flipping it all becomes obvious.

I did size up. The girls are growing so rapidly I can barely keep up. Giselle is nine years old and this is the ‘small’. It’s a very roomy, boxy tunic – however the side panels given the dress some shape and style (and yes, there are pockets).

Some details…

Inside front, Sunki Dress

Sunki dress: inside front

Inside back, Sunki Dress

Inside back

I didn’t hem the tunic as the border print is finished and it seemed a shame to lose any of the fabric in a hem.

I love the shoulder overlap detail and the sleeve head pleats…

Shoulder and sleeve detail

Shoulder and sleeve detail

I’m really liking the Mimi dress in the Parcel… I think it’s simplicity would appeal greatly to my eldest daughter…

and this is a ripper of a shot of Banjo, taken by Giselle. The little hound corners at great speed… he’s almost horizontal!

Banjo, an action shot

Banjo – he corners at speed


Parcel #5: Girls and Tweens includes:

  • Lily Knit Blazer by Peek-a-Boo Patterns
  • Everyday Yoga Pant for Girls by Greenstyle
  • Asymmetrical Drape Top by EYMM
  • Playhouse Dress by Fishstick Designs
  • Mimi Dress and Shirt by Filles a Maman
  • BONUS PATTERN: Sunki Dress by Figgy’s

Bonus Pattern:
Choose a price of $28 or greater for Parcel #5 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern. The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the Sunki Dress by Figgy’s. The pattern includes both size runs, so you get 18 months through a 16 tween sizing.

More about Pattern Parcel here…

Pattern Parcel #5: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Friday, September 19: Pienkel || Cookin’ and Craftin’
Saturday, September 20: The Life Of A Compulsive Crafter
Sunday, September 21: Keep Calm and Carrion || Felt With Love Designs
Monday, September 22: Radiant Home Studio || Sewing Sober
Tuesday, September 23: Sew Fishsticks || La Pantigana || Amanda Rose
Wednesday,September 24: Shawnta Sews || Sprouting JubeJube || Knot Sew Normal
Thursday, September 25: Make It Perfect || Mimi’s Mom || Climbing the Willow
Friday, September 26: Needle and Ted || Our Family Four
Saturday, September 27: Froo & Boo
Sunday, September 28: Stitches by Laura || Vicky Myers creations
Monday, September 29: Cookin’ and Craftin’ || The Crazy Tailor
Tuesday, September 30: mama says sew || FABulous Home Sewn || The Inspired Wren
Wednesday, October 1: lady and the gents || That’s-Sew-Kari || Sewing Sober
Thursday,October 2: Gracious Threads || Blogs Like A Mother || SewsNBows
Friday, October 3: sew chibi || Lulu & Celeste ||  Made by Sara

I have so many things to blog! Hopefully with Eisteddfod season over, end-of-term school concerts and projects finished I will have some breathing space!

Note: I’ve chosen not to use the tracking code for ‘clicks’ for Pattern Parcel for the fabric competition.

and the By Hand London pack winner is…

with a massive 333 entries… the lucky, lucky, lucky winner of the By Hand London Triple Pack is Anthea P (and I’ve notified Anthea P via email).

blog giveaway from BHL

By Hand London Triple Pack giveaway

Thank you for all of your lovely comments – they are much appreciated. The girls are in the middle of Speech & Drama Eisteddfod, Ballet Eisteddfod, end-of-term assignments and school concert season so I will respond as soon as it’s all over!

Holly Jumpsuit not! It’s a Holly Dress! By Hand London

Yes, I liked the bodice so much I was curious about how Holly would look as a dress. So here it is…

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - as a dress made in rayon. Excuse creases, this fabric is beautiful but delights in being ironed... frequently.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – as a dress made in rayon. This fabric is beautiful but delights in being ironed… frequently. Taken in the bush reserve behind my home.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - as a dress. Back view.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – as a dress. Back view.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - as a dress. Side view. Taken earlier in the day while checking out rockpools with the kids.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – as a dress. Side view.
Taken earlier in the day while checking out rockpools with the kids & watching for the seasonal whale traffic going by.

I had planned a maxi. Decided the floral would be a little too overwhelming. Considered the quarter-circle skirt using the By Hand London app but having not drafted one before, there only being one side seam (the bodice has two, I like balance, yes a bit OCD) – and no back-up fabric… I decided to use the bias-cut skirt of Vogue 1351 (made previously here) as it was in my pattern pile – an easy option. I opted for a simple skirt to match the simple bodice, I felt gathers or pleats would not be a good match or balance. I also felt too much fabric in the skirt would create too much strain on the narrow straps – while this is rayon, it’s not a really flimsy rayon.

The skirt was a little wider so I shaved off some of the sides. SoNotTechnicalLizzy. It worked. Making this & adding a skirt was very easy, not rocket science at all. In fact it’s easier than making the jumpsuit. Less fabric, less seams. The skirt need not be bias cut either.

I also machined the straps, rather than hand stitching as I did with Holly the First and Holly the Second. I was curious to see how the straps differed. While hand sewing takes longer – I do prefer the straps slip-stitched to the bodice and along the edges to finish them.


Sorry these pictures were snapped on my iPhone while racing out the door for the school run and work, hence not the best quality.

I used my roll-hem foot – which gives the skirt hem a nice fluted effect.

Holly Dress - By Hand london

I love a rolled hem.

I also turned the edges of the cowl under as I attached the straps as this completely hid the little hem of the cowl neckline when I wear it.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - as a dress. Bodice & strap detail.

The top edge of the bodice where it meets the strap.

Pattern: By Hand London, Holly Jumpsuit & Vogue 1351

Thanks for reading :-)

Holly Jumpsuit, By Hand London… my first two anyway!

This was one of those pattern tests when I just went bananas. I’ve made three… so far… yes there are another two in the works. I think I have a new BFF.

I’ve mentioned I was working on this several times and I’ve been BUSTING to share – I love this make and it’s very different everything else I’ve ever made here.

Today I’ll show you the first two – because the third is something completely different (patience is a virtue – apparently).

Yes, it’s the By Hand London Holly pattern.

The three faces of Holly! A jumpsuit, a playsuit and trousers!

The three faces of Holly! A jumpsuit, a playsuit and trousers!

When the By Hand London girls contacted me about Flora… I was cheeky enough to ask if they would mind designing a jumpsuit… and funnily enough it was already in the works! So when they asked if I would like to pattern test… I was completely and utterly unable to refuse. They had me at ‘hello’. I chose to make the jumpsuit as I had been obsessing about jumpsuits – and I seriously don’t think I could pull off a playsuit in my grand old age.

As they have previously blogged, By Hand London completely redesigned the bodice during the testing phase due to tester feedback. So I started all over again… and this time I was beside myself with excitement… BECAUSE IT WAS A COWL BODICE. Apart of my recent jumpsuit obsession – I also have a mad passion for cowl anything. I rocketed past 7th Heaven and into Sewing Nirvana…


My first version was a black ‘sandwashed’ cotton linen. I was having some weird confidence crisis and cut a size larger than I usually would, I didn’t think there would be enough ease around the hips. I’m glad I did as I needed it for the length through the body. The hip in the test pattern hadn’t been graded correctly – this has been fixed. I would recommend that you follow the pattern measurements – then again everyone has a different preference when it comes to fit. That said, I’m longer through the body than average.

Sadly this lovely version is a bit too big through the waist and hips (widthwise) as a result of my decision to upsize. My pattern testing approach is to make up at least one version of the pattern exactly as drafted. I could have graded out the hips etc however my personal approach is to make the pattern up as is. I prefer to see how the original pattern fits first in comparison to other patterns (and there is the notches & all that business to consider) – then I alter on the second round. That’s just the Sew Busy Lizzy way. No better or worse than others.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - front view

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – front view. Had to crop this to death as the camera strap flopped over. More doh!

So this lovely outfit is slightly too large as you can see (and could have done with a better iron, doh!). It creases through the body as I walk due to the slight oversizing (well hello Christmas lunch outfit I guess!). But heck. I still like it.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - side view

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – side view

I’ve been considering how to alter it. I did run it in quite a bit through the side seams. However, there is only so much width that you can take from the side before it looks odd. I think the solution might be to unpick the back waist seam and fiddle with the centre back seam and bodice seams etc. Then again this pattern is not a difficult or overly involved sew so it might be more rewarding to simply make another in black.

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - front view

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – front view. I think I should lengthen the straps…

Argh – how I love it in a solid. It doesn’t feel obviously ‘jumpsuit’ and ‘fashion-y’, it’s lovely and classic (well I think so!). Sorry any up-close detail photos were a big fail… it’s just so very black…

I’ve used a belt to create a defined waist and dress it up – it’s more ‘going out’ wear than Holly the Second.


With Holly the Second, as I had done the pattern testing business, I added about 1/2 inch crotch length to the test pattern and cut a size US2/UK6 at the waist and graded out to a US4/UK8 at the hips. I took about two to three inches off the legs (I’m 5 foot 4). I cut the bodice as a size US2/UK6.

I was curious how Holly would look as a mad print… and here she is…

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - side view

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – side view

I really should have posed with my ukulele (yes I play one – badly). This is a very soft drapey rayon… feels like heaven – looks like a Hawaiian riot!

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - back view

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – back view (somewhat wind whipped)

She’s a little mad, crazy and birthed from my fabric ‘library’ – but amazingly comfortable and I love the fit and feel of this one. She’s going to be lovely on a hot summer day. As you can see the legs are too long – I’ve hemmed it for heels.

I feel like I could hang out with Oonaballoona in this one.


It’s really easy to sew together. Like really easy.

It’s got a side zip (no front fly and all that business that often goes with trouders). I added a hook and eye above my zip.

The front bodice is cut on the bias (think about this when choosing your fabric) and the back is in three pieces. For the jumpsuit version, I would recommend a fabric with drape.

The straps are bias and sewn to the inside then turned over to the front and stitched down. I did this by hand, including sewing the straps all the way along by hand. I don’t mind hand stitching later at night (although black-on-black stitching kinda sucked).

I’ve like my fit slightly looser. Given the softer fit of the bodice and the wide, wide legs I personally would steer away from a mega snug fit through the body – that’s my personal preference. It’s got a bit of ‘swoosh’ about it.

I had to take about 3 inches off the leg length as I’m 5 foot 4.


  • Wide, wide legs
  • Shoestring bias straps
  • Bodice pleats not darts
  • Gentle fit
  • Side zip (I do like underarm zips, you barely see them)
  • and clearly… the COWL. Kill me now.
By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit - I just love this bodice

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit – I just love this bodice

Overall I do really love this pattern – it’s not often I sew the same things three times in a row so that does say something. I really like the bodice, I love softly fitted bodices. I also adore wide-leg trousers. Overall I think the shape is quite lengthening and slimming on my frame.


Now if you are thinking that a jumpsuit ain’t for you because you have more curves than me – well go check out the beautiful Cashmerette who has just blogged her version (featuring the first designed jumpsuit bodice). She looks fabulous. And she’s also beachside :-) gotta love that!

The straps are fine so it’s letting the girls hang as nature intended or wearing a strapless bra if you can’t live with ‘peek-a-boo’ straps. As you can see I am wearing a normal bra with Holly the Second. I pulled this jumpsuit on after snapping my Hello Summer Dress while walking the now world-famous Banjo (also on a tight timeframe as my husband was leaving the country for two weeks). Pulling the jumpsuit up under the dress was modest enough but I wasn’t changing my underwear in public even if the beach was very quiet that day. That said, the bra isn’t unbearably obvious. Thin strap bras could look quite cute if they blend in with your fabric.

If you shudder at the thought of strapless, let me tell you Calvin Klein makes some amazingly comfortable ones (for me anyway), I wear mine all day without any discomfort. Good underwear is worth every penny (note: personal opinion here).


BHL offered to help cover the cost of fabric or find someone to provide fabric for this pattern test. However my stash is big (I consider it a ‘library’ these days) and can accommodate the odd pattern test… instead I suggested something for my readers instead – I get enough stuff and like to share the love when I can.

So I’ve got the giveaway provided by By Hand London – you can indulge yourself in Charlotte, Georgia and Flora, note: Holly wasn’t printed when they sent me this package during the testing phase. Plus it’s in a cute tote bag with stickers!

blog giveaway from BHL

blog giveaway from BHL

This giveaway is open to everyone – anywhere in the world. NOW CLOSED.

Competition closes Wednesday 10 September 2014 (now closed)- winner chosen by random number generator and notified via email (winner has been notified).


I pattern test. I’ve always been quite clear about that.
I completely understand & respect that some people have issues with the process.
Here’s my take on me doing pattern testing… I simply wanted to say a few things about the subject (kinda why I blog LOL).
I’m OK with doing pattern testing, I once edited craft patterns – making, editing and writing is a passion for me, personally and once-upon-a-time professionally. Yes it involves receiving a pattern – it’s hard to test without one. Pattern testing sits comfortably with me. I enjoy it – even with deadlines and changing details.
Sew Busy Lizzy is about me (whoa – self-centred moment). I sew and blog about sewing because I love it – it really is that simple. I started sewing because I needed some ‘happy’ in my life at a very difficult time. Blogging came next as I had no one to talk to IRL about sewing (I started talking to myself in this space and people started reading and talking back – no strategy at all).
I have a fulltime career and this is my ‘yoga’. It doesn’t mean I’m not serious about my sewing – in fact I’m very OTT about my sewing!
Yes, I sometimes receive patterns and I blog for Mood Fabrics (still pinching myself about that one), I disclose these things. I pass patterns, fabric etc onto my followers when I can.
That’s the plain, simple, unadorned truth. If you think otherwise, chuck me on a lie detector and prepare to be disappointed. I’m really that dull. Sorry about that.
I’m just here for the sewing :-)

Heavens, that’s probably going to ignite a debate here or elsewhere but seriously people, I just like to sew…

… on a lighter note… and here’s one for Banjo’s loyal followers… yes, my blog photos are most often taken on our family outings when walking – or running with – the adorable little hound known as Banjo.

Banjo hot on my heels...

Banjo hot on my heels…

You can meet Holly the Third tomorrow :-) I promise…

Hello-and-Goodbye Summer Dress, New Look 6048

While the Northern hemisphere waves goodbye to another summer… in the Southern hemisphere we are impatiently waiting for ours to arrive. I agree, I am rather spoilt… we took these photos mid-August on a quiet local beach while walking the dog and I wasn’t cold, it was a beautiful day.

Spring is nearly here & a sundress is an eminently sensible way to celebrate. Thank you Mood Fabrics for supplying this for my Mood Sewing Network post – much appreciated!

New Look 6048 - my Hello & Goodbye Summer Dress.

New Look 6048 – my Hello & Goodbye Summer Dress. Grinning like a goose as the waves catch me unawares!

Once I spotted this beautiful black & white lightweight stretch cotton on the Mood Fabrics website I was head over heels in love. I love a classic black/white print, however it’s the pop of aqua that makes this fabric gorgeous. Mood was most helpful in pairing it with a beautiful contrast cotton sateen for me, this one is Hawaiian Ocean Blue Stretch Cotton Sateen. Thse fabrics have a lovely weight to them, not too heavy and not too light (I know, sounds suspiciously like a breakfast cereal commercial!).

I love this combination, it is light, crisp and summery. I also have a particular fondness for cotton sateens. They are marvellously easy to sew with and endlessly versatile… not to mention coming in a wide variety of gorgeous colours and prints.

White-Black Lightweight Stretch Cotton Print from Mood Fabrics

White-Black Lightweight Stretch Cotton Print from Mood Fabrics

This fabric is lovely quality and a generous 58 inches wide, giving you lots of room to play – perfect for those wider or circle skirts. It has a touch of lycra which adds a bit of crosswise stretch to the fabric – hello comfortable sundress!

I had planned to make a Vogue Vintage frock… however I kept coming back to New Look 6644 and in the end I gave into my instincts. The pattern itself is easy to sew, which isn’t why I chose it, I simply love a sweetheart neckline and the bodice has princess seams. It’s got three lovely deep pleats across the front and back, giving the skirt some fullness, without too much heaviness.

I decided to fully line this dress with some cotton lawn from my stash.  I always have several metres stashed as it seems to be useful for all manner of projects.

Lining a dress might seem onerous or double the sewing time, I find lined dresses last longer, wear better and crease less. I also often make the lining to test the fit. It’s an excellent timesaver because if it does indeed fit… you are half way there!

New Look 6048 - fully lined

New Look 6048 – fully lined. I like my lining to be several centimetres shorter than my shell, I’m not one for peekaboo hemlines.

If you are considering lining this particular dress, when you line the bodice you just need to layer the shell and lining wrong sides together. The top contrast band is then attached to both fabrics along the neckline on the wrong side then turned over to the front of the dress and slip-stitched down. It’s a very simple and neat finish.

I also decided to give the dress a little more structure by adding some lightweight boning to the lining seams. I used rigilene (which looks like this), which is made from woven nylon rods and can be sewn directly onto the seams. For a sundress I don’t think you want very rigid boning, just something with enough structure to support the curve of the dress seams so it sits nicely over your body. I love how this dress sits with a some added soft structure and shape.

New Look 6048 sewn in White-Black Lightweight Stretch Cotton Print for Mood Fabrics

Side view – New Look 6048. Yes… for the pocket junkies, this dress is just the ticket.

I opted to use a white invisible zipper for this dress. I did worry for a little while about the white zipper tab showing at the top of the dress… however I actually really like the white contrast against the aqua and decided to leave it white rather than painting it with nail polish to conceal it.

New Look 6048 - back view

New Look 6048 – back view

Cotton sateen and stretch cotton are just lovely to sew with. They have a little more weight than a basic poplin and are far more forgiving to sew. Not to mention the slightly lovely sheen that the fabrics possess, giving a humble sundress a little more wow.

I would advise not ignoring those pattern instructions advising you to staystitch your edges, the lycra stretch does need to be contained as you don’t want a gaping neckline! I think this pattern is particularly suited to cotton sateen as the neckline is staystitched, stitched and then understitched… AND the contrast band is interfaced, making it far less likely to stretch out.

I think this dress would look lovely with a patent black belt and simple heels.

Now I’m off to sit out the final days of my winter… and embrace some welcome warmth and sunshine. I am one of those people guilty of clinging to their summer dresses as autumn approaches and wearing them in the fading days of winter, teamed with cardigans and jackets in a desperate bid to pretend the colder days will soon be gone…. I’m not the only one that does that… am I?

… I think I have just enough of this amazing fabric to whip up a print summer blazer with aqua highlights… *trots off to sewing room again*

Fabrics from Mood Fabrics NY: White-Black Lightweight Stretch Cotton Print (1 7/8 yard) & Hawaiian Ocean Blue Stretch Cotton Sateen (1/4 yard)
Pattern: New Look 6048 (I made size 6 – I should have made a 4 but perhaps the slightly looser fit will be more comfortable in summer!)

this one is simply because I know many of you love a good whippet photo bomb… (note: most of my photos are taken with the whippet on quiet local beaches where dogs are permitted unleashed… I think he rather loves blog photo times!)

Whippet photo bomb

Banjo: serial whippet photo bomber!