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!

Manhattan in Denim – Capital Chic Patterns

BOOM. New skirt. It’s the Manhattan by Capital Chic Patterns.

Manhattan - side feature panel

ah yes… I was ridiculously proud of the top-stitched panel, you may have seen it pop up on instagram. Note the odd top accessory: I wanted to tie my singlet in a knot but it wasn’t quite long enough – so I jammed a dress ring onto it. Worked a treat.

I know pattern testing process is an issue with many so first up… yes, it’s a new pattern and I received the pattern as part of the pattern testing process (hard to test without one). All opinions here are always entirely my own.

I didn’t blog it right away when the range came out as life was hectic. I blog my makes when I’m ready. Sometimes I’m absolutely busting for something to be released because I’m stupidly excited about it and I’ve been sitting on it for weeks (hello the upcoming By Hand London Holly pattern – I’ve made one and I’m going to make another – perhaps two more because they are ‘sitting in my head’ and need to be created). I do put a lot of (obsessive) thought into my makes. It involves lots of fabric patting, draping, pattern comparisons, photos of options and endless thinking. Today I was having coffee with my lovely sewing friend Pam and we were throwing around options for an upcoming make. I think you might be surprised by my creative process to get from concept to end result! I often drive myself nuts – but it’s my ‘mental yoga’ – and always I’m happier with the end result.

I’ve ‘virtually’ hung out with Sally of the amazing Charity Shop Chic blog long before she kicked off her pattern line – we have a mutual love of single malt whisky and have an obsession for charity shops (we have exchanged charity shop packages – I’ve just got to make up mine!). So when she asked me to check out her new pattern line as she thought it would be my style, I said yes.

This is the Manhattan Skirt from Capital Chic… it’s got two variations. One with this uneven & high-low hem – ie this one. The other more ‘boardroom’ look, longer with a straight hem.

It’s taken me ages to blog as my first version was a complete experiment in dodgy stash fabric – primarily just for pattern testing purposes (do the notches match, what’s the fit like, do the instructions work). Capital Chic Patterns testing popped up during the month of May which was a log jam of work, family and community stuff. Then of course I had an idea for my ‘proper’ Version 2… and there was such a big bang in the blogsphere with her new range I figured the world could wait for mine.

Now let’s talk about Capital Chic Patterns

Manhattan Skirt by Capital Chic Patterns

I’m quite sure the men fishing on the wharf had a laugh as we photographed three outfits… there was a lot of wardrobe, accessories and shoe changing going on in my nearby car!


I like the pattern, I was immediately drawn to it. I think it’s got loads of potential. It’s visually interesting (both versions, the side panel whether straight or jagged is a nice touch), completely lined – and easy to make up. You could use the same or contrast fabric for the side panel… or embellish a fabric, set a pattern on point, use a different textured fabric – or use the same textured fabric but set at an angle so the light hits it at a different angle which can be a subtle but interesting design feature. Ahhhhh, so many ideas!

For this version of the skirt I opted to use a chalk pencil and ruler to draw a grid onto the fabric. I top stitched the panel and then sewed it into the skirt.

The skirt has no darts…. no darts at all. It sits on your natural waist and has no waistband. It appeals to me as it is different to other skirt pattern options on the market. I made a size 12.

Capital Chic is much more ‘high street’ – which does appeal to me – as I’m not really a retro chick… I don’t have the build, hair or vibe to carry it off. Probably explains why By Hand London patterns appeal to me as well. The patterns are also generally aimed at intermediate and advanced sewing market.

The skirt is completely lined (I know – pretty flash for a denim skirt – although would make it very wearable with leggings in winter). I think I over-compensated for the ‘turn of fabric’ and this created a tension on the lower hem point – making the panel want to curl under when I wore it – SewIdiotLizzy. I has a bout of SewSwearyLizzyitis, calmed down and thought hard about it. The solution was to sew down the feature panel seams (through both the shell and lining, in the seam itself), thus anchoring the lining and shell together – killing the tension between the waistline and hemline. If you find this happens – this fix worked for me.

Manhatten 8

I did find the inner ‘corner/point’ where the two jagged panels meet, really fiddly to get neat, I’ve found that with all points in all types of sewing I’ve done – the fabric choice didn’t help either. Let’s just say my iron got a workout and all’s well that ends well.

I used an invisible zip instead of the exposed zipper which is suggested for this skirt version. I did take a wedge out of the centre back, which is a common adjustment for me, as well as a slightly wider seam allowance down the centre back seam.

I’d like to try this in a different fabric… because I’m just curious about the pattern and how else I could play with it. This version uses between 70cm or 1m of fabric (depending on fabric width) and the other version uses between 70cm or 1.4m – this is a great stash buster or for those fabulous pieces you find in high-end fabric store remanent bins.


I don’t know what I was thinking giving this fabric a second chance… I’m often guilty of that with people. I complained about it with the Jamie Jeans - but I still opted to use the final piece to make up this skirt… mainly because inspiration hit, I had the topstitching thread so away I went.

Inspiration can be beguiling and terrible mistress. Too often I let her lead me into all sorts of wicked but very interesting places!

This fabric simply doesn’t soften with washing. Maybe I should let the dog sleep on it for a month or so (I’m joking). Personally I would not use this denim as a garment fabric again. I simply don’t like how it moves with the body – or rather it doesn’t. I dislike how the light hits it as it creases.

see - this skirt fits really well but the stupid fabric just does horrid stuff when you move. It's not 'very agreeable' regardless of how cool it looks.

see – this skirt fits really well but the stupid fabric just does horrid stuff when you move and how it sits over my ‘junk trunk’ and hips. The fabric is not ‘very agreeable’ regardless of how cool it looks.

You live and learn – sometimes you hit the sweet spot and that when the magic happens.


The gorgeous Sally from Capital Chic Patterns!

The gorgeous Sally from Capital Chic Patterns!

I’ve always been fascinated by Sally’s blog Charity Shop Chic. She manages to transform the most hideous charity shop finds into gorgeous and wearable clothing.  She re-engineers and re-imagines clothes. I love that talent. It’s quite compelling.

Now she’s got her very own pattern line… so who is Sally?

Who taught you to sew and how old were you?
My mum taught me how to use a sewing machine as a little girl, but it wasn’t until I went to university and wanted to make my own dresses (that were long enough for my rather tall frame) that I really took it up again as a serious hobby. After university I sewed on-and-off, but became increasingly interested in fashion and building my own unique wardrobe. That’s when I hit upon the idea of combining my love of unusual fabrics, charity shopping and sewing in the form of a blog.

Many people learn to sew, for a few of us it becomes far more than a life skill, it becomes an obsession – what got you hooked?
I have to say it was when I started the blog that I really became obsessed. The online sewing and refashioning communities are so supportive and once you start to get a following, it’s really addictive to keep making new things to show off!

How often do you sew?
As often as I can! It can be as much as three evenings a week and at weekends too. I also reserve a lot of time for charity shopping, of course! Moving forward, I’m anticipating having to spend a lot more time on drafting and product testing for the new business, but am hoping to set aside time for plenty of refashioning fun too.

Given your fame as a charity shop chick, I’ve always wondered what sort of sewing machine do you use?
I have one of the cheapest machines Argos sells – Brother XL-2620. It’s just a cheap plastic machine but I am very attached to it, it’s been an absolute workhorse over the years. I also have a Brother 3034D overlocker which I am very pleased with.

Most people have a favourite type of garment that they find irresistible to sew, whether it’s dresses, blouses, pants, skirts, jackets – what’s your sewing weakness?
Like most people, I think it’s dresses. I love to look put-together and a good dress is the basis for a whole outfit – no wondering about matching separates. My wardrobe contains a lot of RTW jackets and some trousers I have worn to death too, but I haven’t as much enthusiasm for taking on this type of sewing project, for some reason…

Your blog has always fascinated me – your ability to turn shocking charity shop garments into masterpieces is really second to none – what drives this passion? Is it the sheer challenge, life experiences, economics, ethics?
You might be surprised to learn that it’s mostly for fun! Just something I love doing, for the pleasure of being creative. There’s an aspect of “just for the sheer challenge of it”, as well… I love to challenge myself and improve my sewing and drafting in the process. Things like recycling, being thrifty and supporting charities also matter to me, but these factors are a little more in the background. My primary motive is to make great-fitting, interesting clothes that no-one else has, so I can feel great and have fun wearing them.

Pattern drafting makes my brain ache, I’ve always got a billion ideas buzzing about in my head and I’m been rather too terrified to teach myself and make them a reality. I can’t even imagine drafting multiple sizes LOL. Have you been formally trained in pattern drafting and design?
I’ve taught myself how to draft and grade and spent a lot of time practicing over the last few years. Let’s just say I have a LOT of books on the subject! My background is actually engineering, so the maths side of pattern making really appealed to me and I have loved learning all about it. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in sewing to study pattern design – once you understand the basics, it opens up so many possibilities…

With so many bloggers out there releasing patterns, how do you see Capital Chic Patterns fitting into the marketplace – what’s your point of difference?
Well, it seems at the moment like there are a lot more indie pattern companies making vintage style and vintage-inspired patterns than those designing contemporary looks that play to today’s fashion trends. I’m aiming to balance that out a little. My style is also on the ‘smart’ side, which is a little unusual – the patterns are intended for office and cocktail wear, but the collection is versatile enough to take you from a coffee date to a summer wedding or the office Christmas party. Also, the patterns are aimed at intermediate to advanced sewers, contrasting with the large variety of beginner-friendly patterns out there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there is a lot of choice out there for beginners. But what happens when you want to progress and start working on your skills as a sewist? If you continue making beginner-rated patterns, you’ll never improve. Personally I always aspire to sew better and take on more and more challenging projects, and I hope others feel the same way I do!


Yes it’s SewBusy Giveaway Central at the moment…

Pop over to the Capital Chic website, check out the new pattern range… and when you decide what you like best… come back here… fill in this online form (Sorry entries have now closed)… I’ve decided to let you nominate your favourites and if you win… you can decide which one you would like to win… that always takes me AGES! So you have a grace period :-)

Giveaway closes on Friday 15 August 2014 and winner will be chosen by random number generator and notified via email.

Not sewing but…. BOOTS…

I have a massive weakness for boots. I just love, love, love them. It’s one of the best things about winter (and the awesome winter coats, scarves and other fun accessories). 

Duo Avani Boots

Duo Avani Boots – this is love… snug fit, stacked block heels, soft leather… it’s ridiculous how much I like these.

… I’m just showing off my new boots… my perfect, perfect boots… shipped from Duo in the UK, made in Portugal, these exquisite creatures (called Avani) come not just in shoe size but calf width too. Worth every penny, shipping is free to Australia… and if you are a non-VAT country it also comes off during the check-out process.

Yes, a complete indulgence (hey my oven died and for some reason the best cure I could think of was these boots – note: the oven is still broken). They are a perfect fit and we all know how impossible it can be to get long boots to fit our various shaped pins. These are my answer (and yes I paid for these – I’m just sharing because I love them).

Pattern: Manhattan Skirt, Capital Chic Patterns
Fabric: Sparkly denim from Spotlight (yukko)
Boots: Avani, Duo Boots
Top & accessories: courtesy of the Sew Busy Lizzy wardrobe department.

Don’t forget the giveaway!

Also see: Sew Amy Sew – she’s made this skirt and the White Russian top. She’s also hosting a Repurpose, Reuse, Refashion challenge this month.


Fashionary Giveaway… Jeans in June/July…


There was 160 entrants for the Fashionary giveaway! That’s HUGE!

The winners were selected via random number generator and they have been notified via email – congratulations to the winners!

Fashionary Tape

Fashionary Tape


So did you make some jeans in June & July?

Please comment below and let me know… I don’t want to miss you in the post round-up I will write soon.

Jeans in June & July 2014

Jeans in June & July 2014

Thank you!