Top 5 Hits of 2013

Top 5 of 2013

Top 5 of 2013

This is a tricky one… am I cheating if I have categories and post multiple makes?
I’ve hyperlinked all the images to the original posts – in case you want more pictures or details…
I’ve also created a Made-by-Me 2013 page where you can see all my makes…

I love all of these makes. The latest girl in the BHL Club has surfaced many many times this party season – with both heels and bare feet… Georgia is a go-anywhere girl… and seriously comfortable. I asked my husband if it was appropriate for an informal event… and he said “oh well I’ll just have to put up with having the hottest wife in the room again…” LOL I think that’s a good sign.

The new kid in town - Georgia from By Hand London

The new kid in town – Georgia from By Hand London

Elisalotte dress - back

Elisalotte dress – a combination of the Charlotte Skirt and the Elisazlex bodice

The Sari Edition - By Hand London Victoria Blazer

The Sari Edition – By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Charlotte The Second: By Hand London

Charlotte The Second: By Hand London

and my lovely Anna dresses… I love all these…

Anna Rose - a girly girly dress

Anna Rose By Hand London – a girly girly dress

Anna Blue by the seaside

Anna Blue by the seaside. By Hand London

Jungle Anna - there's that wild thigh slit... I finished it a little higher than Anna Roses...

Jungle Anna – there’s that wild thigh slit… I finished it a little higher than Anna Roses… cos Jungle Anna is a wild girl…

Love both of these makes and wear them a lot!

Tania Culottes and the odd giraffe

Tania Culottes and the odd giraffe

Love this skirt! Megan Neilsen's Cascade Skirt

Love this skirt! Megan Neilsen’s Cascade Skirt. Perfect perfect perfect fabric for this make.

It’s a recent love affair but I love the modern simplicity of Jen’s designs.

Grainline Maritime Urban butterfly

now I’m wondering if there is some halo graffiti around town somewhere….

Grainline Maritime Shorts in floral denim

Grainline Maritime Shorts in floral denim

Grainline Studio - Archer It was extremely windy - so this looks hard more fitted than it is!

Grainline Studio – Archer
It was extremely windy – so this looks more fitted than it is!

I re-taught myself to knit. All I can say is YouTube is a wonder! Of all my makes I adore Idlewood the most. Long, warm, casual AND it has a monster cowl.

Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.

Idlewood – taken after 36 hours of travel. I knitted the last four rows just after I landed!

Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald COWL

Now THAT’S what I call a cowl!

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Cambie & Andi Satterlund's Marion

Sewaholic Cambie & Andi Satterlund’s Marion

Chuck by Andi Satterlund - front view

Chuck by Andi Satterlund – front view

I adore this pattern mash-up. I wear the blue dress a lot on the weekends.
And Clairy – she’s my kinda gal… I’ve worn her to Frocktails and to a work function.
In both versions I feel fabulous and I get loads of compliments.
My original Maria Denmark day-to-night top is also heavily worn.
Buy this pattern!

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress - take 2

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress – take 2

Clairy Dress - pouting lips, shaking hips...

Clairy Dress – pouting lips, shaking hips…


I’ve made lots of things I really like this year! I know – fatheaded of me but it’s true… so the honourable mentions go to…

Hot Mess Birthday Dress

On the beach before Birthday dinner

Hot Mess Birthday Dress – I’ve worn this quite a lot. it’s easy to wear and the b/w scheme make it as classic – despite the craziness!

Liesl + Co Late Lunch Tunic aka my beach shirt…

Liesl + Co Late Lunch Tunic SewBusyLizzy

The Beach edition of the Late Lunch Tunic (and my Michael Jackson moment)

McCalls 6611 Fashion Star Jacket

McCalls 6611 - Fashion Star

McCalls 6611 – Fashion Star

Sewaholic Lonsdale

Sewaholic Lonsdale - the front view

Sewaholic Lonsdale – the front view

There are a few more – but that’s enough :-)

Timeless: Vogue 1351 for Minerva Crafts

Vogue 1351 - the neckline

Vogue 1351 – the neckline

When Vogue 1351 was released, I was underwhelmed. The styling, the fit and photography – it does the dress no favours – I look at the models and think EAT A HAMBURGER & STAND UP STRAIGHT! Despite that I kept returning to it, perhaps because I am a cowl junkie (see here, here and here for evidence)…

Vogue 1351 - who wore it better...

Vogue 1351 – I look positively beefy here and I’m a towering 5 foot 4 & weigh in under 50kg.

I’m glad I did. It’s simply lovely. It’s not fancy, it’s not attention seeking… it’s just quietly ‘there’. Simple clean lines…

Vogue 1351, front view

Vogue 1351, front view

I know that bias-cut patterns scare some people. However the simplicity of this dress means that the construction is simple, there are minimal seams to stretch out, very few seamlines to match. The skirt skims and flares. The bodice is simple and drapes. The fit is not complex. I love bias.

This triple crepe fabric is quite heavy but falls nicely. I think the weight of the fabric lends itself well to a bias cut as it’s more forgiving over any lumps or bumps than a clingier knit fabric.

Kathryn and Laura have also made this crepe up and both commented about how it frays. As all my pieces, except the back piece, were cut on the bias, fraying was not an issue for me.

Vogue 1351, back view

Vogue 1351, back view. The skirt on this dress is simply lovely.

Here is the good news…

  • Lining: 5 pieces & Shell: 5 pieces.
  • Zip: invisible
  • Just two darts in the front bodice lining. There are no tucks, no pleats.

The dress is beautifully lined. The cowl attaches to the lining and the inside of the dress is fabulous.

You could just line the bodice if you are not a lining fan.

Vogue 1351 - interior

Vogue 1351 – interior

I adore the colour of this fabric – it’s not too purple if that makes sense. And there have been two recent Minerva makes from exactly the same shade of triple crepe - there is something about the aubergine (Kathryn’s New Look dress * Laura’s Lisette Dress)… I almost made this in ‘jade’ which I think would be gorgeous… and black would be absolutely perfection as a LBD…. note to self: make this in black…

Lining a sleeveless dress is a little bit fiddly. I needed to concentrate (ie not tweet) when attaching the cowl to the lining and bodice – and joining the shoulders.

I lined this dress with a heavier than usual ‘Italian anti static’ polyester/viscose lining. It was lovely to work with – and much easier to cut out and handle than bemsilk for a change.

Things I did differently..

  • The patterns asks you to sew above and below where you insert the zip. It’s an invisible zip and I could see no good reason to make the zip insertion more difficult. I inserted it as per a usual invisible zip insertion and sewed the seam above and below the zip afterwards.
  • I also found sewing the lining to the dress waistline very tricky after sewing the lining to the zipper tape. I would sew the lining to the waistband first next time… I think!

This dress construction is not rocket science. It’s simple yet lovely. It doesn’t need a billion pleats, pockets or design features. It just is what it is and it works.

Things I would do differently…

I should have interfaced the seam where the zip is inserted. It does ripple slightly. Not enough to be a bother but I do notice it.

The pattern features a narrow rolled hem. My last Minerva project I showed how to do this – this time I used a rolled hem foot as I got one for my birthday in November (tricky getting around the side seams though!). At first I didn’t like the rolled hem. I thought the crepe was too heavy for it… but looking at the photos I love the subtle fluting it creates so I think I will leave it. The other way to finish this hem would be creating a facing as Sam, another Minerva Blogger, did with her pink crepe skirt.

Pattern: Vogue 1351, made as a size 6, no alterations.
Fabric: Triple Crepe in Aubergine from Minerva Crafts.
Kit: available from Minerva Crafts.

Also see (fabric): Laura | Kathryn
Also see (pattern): Little Betty | Sunny Gal Studio | Very Purple Person

I’m lucky enough to be able to stop at the beach after work and stroll across the sand like this… I know, life is tough…

Vogue by the seashore

Vogue by the seashore

A VERY Merry Christmas Skirt! Vogue 8882 – Minerva Blogger Network

Hooray! I am in a state of shock – while I did not manage to punch out a birthday or Christmas make in 2012 – this year I have done both!

Last week it was the Hot Mess Birthday dress - a rather complicated but very pretty and enormously satisfying make.

This week I have my first Minerva Bloggers’ Network project to share.

A Very Merry Christmas Skirt

With my Minerva makes I wanted to make things that I felt anyone (any age, any shape) could wear, sew and feel fabulous in. I also wanted the kit to have pretty much everything they needed to start sewing, or at least most of it… the fabric, pattern and thread. So once you have pounced on the postman, you can rip open the envelope and get sewing. You might need the odd notion or some interfacing – but many stitchers do have these things in ‘the stash’.

I’ve always wanted a ‘Christmas’ skirt or dress but never quite got around to making one (and I have rather a lot of party clothes anyway…). The festive season hits and life is a merry-go-round of parties, concerts, holidays, meals, drinks, family and friends. Life gets busy – no time for sewing…

So make that Christmas skirt now! I’ve chosen a project that will minimise your time at the sewing machine and maximise your time at the party.

I know. I’m good to you :-)

Vogue 8882

Vogue 8882

I’ve been eyeing off this skirt since Vogue released it – even though big skirts aren’t really my gig I just fell in love with it. When I spied this this lovely shot WINE taffeta on the Minerva site, I felt it was a match made in heaven.

The taffeta transforms in different lights…

Vogue 8882 as the sun grows down

Vogue 8882 as the sun grows down

The colour transforms when the setting sun hits it!

The colour transforms when the setting sun hits it! hmmmm, I have that bronzed Aussie look going on as we approach summer…

Bows and frills scare me BUT I can’t imagine the skirt without that monstrous sash and bow. It’s perfection…

As my Christmas Day is never ‘white’ except for the sand on the beach, I paired by skirt with a simple cream tank top and rose gold strappy heels. I think this skirt could easily be translated into a wintery wear – the claret tone looks gorgeous with black (yes, I experimented for you too).

You can read lots more over on the Minerva site… so go over there for more pictures and how-to.

My major changes were…

  • Invisible zipper instead of standard.
  • I did a roll hem. My legs would look like toothpicks coming out of a even oomph-ier (yes, that’s a technical term) skirt.. If you like lotsa ‘oomph’ I’m guessing you have some petticoats stashed for this purpose!
  • Taffeta is not a fan of iron-on interfacing – use sew-in. Listen to SewBossyLizzy and weep no more.

So let’s twirl together this festive season… I know you want to…

This skirt is loads of fun to wear… it even rustles! I’m not a gentled-footed creature. I sound like a mini herd of elephants stampeding through the African grasslands but I’m ok with that.

Giddy with Happy Happy Joy Joy.

…giddy with Happy Happy Joy Joy… and I’d just like to let you know that it takes a lot of concentration to not wedge a stiletto heel into timber decking! Check out the Minerva site where I’m spinnin’ like a whirlgig.

Miss 8 teaches me to party with attitude!

Miss 8 teaches me to party with attitude!

Pattern: Vogue 8882
Fabric: Wine shot taffeta.
Kit available from Minerva Fabrics – you know you want to – I’ve done all the shopping and pattern testing for you! Sew one and party on (perhaps Miss 8 should do a blog post about party style – she’s got it down to a fine art)

If you are concerned about shipping costs… I purchased 4m of this blue fabric from Minerva (apparently I’m a Shimmer Twill piglet – I need MOAH) and the shipping was just 10 pounds and arrived in no time at all. Love.

SHE PLAYS UP TO YOU… Clairy, a Frocktails Dress

Frocktails is nearly here. I’m off to Melbourne on Friday!

I had planned to post this post-Frocktails but she’s busting outta the wardrobe… she’s as bad as Jungle Anna… perhaps worse…Meet Clairy…

… She plays up to you
pouting lips
shaking hips
and flicking her hair…*

Clairy Dress - pouting lips, shaking hips...

Someone decided she couldn’t wait…

Vogue mariaDenmark Pattern Mash-up goes NIGHT

I had grand plans for Frocktails… something classy… and then Clairy just appeared. Completely unplanned… she’s a party girl… she doesn’t wait for an invite…

This is my third pattern hacked dress, and the pattern gets more hacked each time. The back is shortened, the length is shorter, it’s much tighter…

I love how this dress fits and am always amazed that just two pieces of fabric can manage to look so damn fine.

I took a couple of daytime shots – while the dress was still in progress… as I wasn’t 100% convinced the vision I woke up with was going to deliver…

Clairy - seam details

Back view of the Clairy - there is a seam from the lower back to the hem, a seam across my lower back and side seams from the armholes to the hip, extending slightly below the back waist seam.

Daytime view of Clairy

Daytime view of the Clairy - less sparkles, more detail. I hadn’t finished the armholes at this point – I just wanted to see if it looked OK. I think the answer from ELH was ‘YES…’

Just a one more shot – because Clairy needs to shake her hips, pout her lips…

One minute she’s chilling
the next she’s sweet talk dealin’
when you gonna wake up and see…*

OK you can't see the dress detail but I love the mood of this shot...

No dress detail in this shot but I love the mood as the sun sets…


Clairy is not immaculately finished… she’s a rough & ready gal. I am ridiculously busy at the moment with little or no spare time… it’s frustrating but this is the busiest time of the year for me. Work, kids, family, drama, dance, gym, trips away. It all happens from September until December.

Shhh.. I didn’t line it – no, I’m just wearing a slip. I know, Clairy won’t last forever – she’s here for a good time not a long time – I don’t feel bad. I scored this fabric – which is usually around the $40 a metre for $4 a metre. So this cost me about $6 to make… and I have enough fabric to make another…

I’d never sewn sequins and had been a little scared of the fabric. In the end I just chucked in a heavy duty needle, denim and used a stretch stitch… seems to have worked…

* Wondering where the inspiration for the dress came from & those lyrics? It’s Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes and their song She Plays Up To You… you must listen to this…

And then listen to Love Letter. Awesome song.

’tis all… mwah

Crazy Barbie Doll Dress (Vogue 8280) & Abakhan fabric giveaway

The  £15 Pound Aussie ReturnsAbakhan fabrics

Hi there! After the By Hand London Anna Trilogy weekend (Rose, Blue, Jungle) I dropped off the face of the earth! Thank you for the overwhelming positive feedback – you sure know how to make a girl feel good :-) mwah.

Today I bring you the Crazy Barbie Doll Dress, courtesy of the  £15 Abakhan Challenge project. I’ve been running so behind with everything lately. I should have blogged this a couple of months ago - I’m sorry Will. Life seems to have been so out-of-control chaotic this year, I seem to be running at full pace and the finish line never gets closer…

So to atone for my blogging sins, I’ve decided to give away the piece of Abakhan fabric that I have left from this dress, it’s about 1.5m. So this dress actually only cost less than £7.50 in fabric – I’ve smashed the £15 – together we can make a £15 Challenge. BARGAIN!

I totally get that this is fabric that will have you squealing or groaning in horror. Me? I’m of the squealing variety… wait for it…

Awesome fabric from Abakhan Fabrics

Awesome fabric from Abakhan Fabrics

I know. All kinds of awesome. It’s a collision of plaid, paisley & floral - visual madness but it just sings to me… it’s like grandma’s rocking chair on acid.

I had planned to make an Elisalex from this fabric, it had a little more drape than I expected so I pondered what to do. Yes excessive amounts of fabric patting followed. I did so love patting this one…

Then suddenly I thought “I know Lizzy, let’s make us a sexy dress – a nice fitted one”. Note: I sometimes talk to myself like there is another person in the room – simply because I’m beginning to suspect there are two of me! - ‘normal’ Lizzy and the mad obsessive sewing Lizzy who owns a drunk monkey that does exceptionally bad topstitching some days… and when he’s not doing that he’s throwing empties at the wall and howling for popcorn… he’s a very naughty monkey but immensely entertaining… if you think I’m being delusional – it’s simply my excuse when sewing does not go as planned – it’s the drunk monkey in my sewing room taking control – never me – never…. I digress…

If you follow my blog regularly you will probably notice that I don’t wear/sew fitted dresses often, I feel very self conscious – rather like I did in my Gertie’s Littlest Wiggle Dress. I’m just awkward. Yes I know I can hang my legs out of a By Hand London Anna - not just once but twice! I can’t explain why, I know I’ve got the figure for a fitted dress but I just don’t feel like ‘me’ in them (maybe it’s the drunk monkey sniggering at me in the corner as I sew “Lizzy, oh Lizzy, people are going to ‘look’ at you in that *snigger*”). I like to think I can choose to find my legs in a maxi – but in a fitted dress – there is nowhere to hide! Perhaps it’s lack of opportunity or confidence because I’ve always been the small skinny girl and not felt I had curves to parade… fret not, I’m OK with it. In fact blogging has made me more confident about ‘me’ – me as a person (albeit a slightly loopy but actually happy person) and my appearance. This dress was more than a £15 challenge – it was a body confidence challenge!

Which sexy dress did I try? *deep breath* I chose this one… the Vogue Options 8280, the infamous Galaxy-style dress.

Vogue 8280

Vogue 8280

OK I know it’s not actually ‘out there foxy lady’ but it’s a departure in style for me. I do actually have some sexy girl dress patterns stashed… I’m just building up the confidence… be patient people… I’m still bashful when I look at them…

I’d read several reviews about the puffiness of the sleeves – and since my arms transform into toothpicks when topped with a puffball, I decided to make the sleeveless version…

Vogue 8280 - sleeveless

Vogue 8280 – sleeveless

And since it’s a tribute to Grandma’s rocking chair on acid, I decided to pair it with a little swatch of upholstery suede I had hanging around. Perhaps not the ideal choice but it seemed fitting… and that trim on the neckline? It’s upholstery trim as well :-) and the belt? Op/charity shop my dears.

Vogue 8280 front view - bodice

Vogue 8280 front view – bodice

So what do I have to say about Vogue 8280? It is all dead easy with the exception of those sleeves – or ‘flanges’ if you like fancy words. They are NASTY little fellas to stitch in – beware. Read the instructions carefully and go SLOW. The drunk monkey was in stitches (the laughing sort) watching me trying stone cold sober attach them to the bodice.

Vogue 8280

Vogue 8280

I don’t mind how this looks on me. I’m not completely in love (except with the fabric) - I wish I had made the flanges (that word makes me feeling like I’m going to flap my arms and fly away) in the rocking-chair-on-acid fabric instead of the contrast fabric. Ah, you live and learn.

Things I don’t love about the pattern:-

  • Only the bodice is lined: easily fixed, lining a skirt is easy.
  • The skirt doesn’t have a kick pleat: easily fixed, just needs some basic drafting.
  • The skirt could do with being pegged: easily fixed.
  • The flanges are not stitched down to the bodice so they flap a little when you move your arms about: easily fixed – just gotta keep the drunk monkey busy with popcorn for a bit.
  • I should have put in a longer zip: I never ever learn, I make this mistake ALL THE TIME. I think it’s the proportions of my waist to my shoulders & hips but I need a long zip, everything is a wiggle to get in and out of! Or perhaps I should make less fitted things?? Maybe sack dresses are me?? Maybe my bone structure IS trying to tell me something.
Vogue 8280 - back view

Vogue 8280 – back view

Things I do like…

  • I do like how this design has the potential to broaden the shoulders, particularly with the sleeves (just need to figure out how to minimise the puff). It reminds me of the effect of the Elisalotte back – which makes my shoulders look like an Olympic swimmer!
  • It makes my waist look smaller which in turn increases the appearance of other… lady lumps
  • Once you figure out those ‘flanges’ it’s a easy sew.


So why have I called it the Crazy Barbie Doll Dress? Well the fabric is definitely slightly mad I think you will agree.

Vogue 8280 - Crazy Barbie Doll

Vogue 8280 – Crazy Barbie Doll

LOOK DAD!!! Mum looks like a Barbie Doll !!!” is what my youngest daughter shrieked out when I walked down the stairs in this dress. I asked her why (given I’m currently a brunette and not very tall – nothing Barbie doll about me). “Well because you look skinny and your boobs stick out”.

OK thanks for the clarification my darling child – I shall not feel self conscious at all when I wear this…


Ok the fabric is from Abakhan Fabrics. Remember they sent me that massive box of ‘stuff’ to give away at the Epic Bloggers’ Meet-up organised by the gorgeous Rachel of the House of Pinheiro.

I know. Huge right? This box came up above my waist!

The HUGE box Abakhan Fabrics sent me,

If you went to the Epic London Bloggers’ Meet-up in April, you probably went home with something from Abakhan Fabrics (huge thank you to Will) - and a huge thank you to all the lovely girls who helped me get all of that stuff to Goldhawk Road!!

I have about 1.5m left, enough for a sheath dress, a cropped jacket, a waistcoat – lots of options. I’m crazy about this fabric but I think the love must be shared… it’s 50% polyester, 50% cotton. It doesn’t press crisply – so keep that in mind when choosing your pattern.If I was to keep this, it would become a By Hand London Victoria blazer (with a contrast lapel) or a Charlotte skirt with the hem frill. However I’m handing its fate over to you!

So if you would like to be in the draw – leave a comment and let me know.

Fret not if you don’t win – you can pick this fabric up from the Abakhan Fabrics website for just £1.33 a metre now! Go on, I know you want to *nudge nudge wink wink*…

I think I need to sew some more fitted dresses.

And tell that drunk monkey to SHUT UP.

Fabric: Floral Printed Check Jaquard Brown 145cm
Pattern: Vogue 8280

To win the fabric: just comment below, letting me know you would like to try some of this crazy fabric (you can just comment about anything and let you know you don’t want the fabric – I’m nice like that). Open internationally and closing on August 18, 6pm (my time, Sydney Australia). Winner has three days to respond, otherwise a redraw will take place.

Can you hear that drunk monkey laughing or is it just me??

My Shirtdress… and the 15 Pound Aussie Project…

I’m no supermodel but I can sew!

Vogue 8028 mash-up - and the Shabby Apple inspiration dress

Vogue 8028 mash-up – and the Shabby Apple inspiration dress

The hemline doesn’t look even but it is – it was just BLOWING A GALE! More on that later…

I fell madly in love with this dress when I spotted it on LLadybird’s blog for a Shabby Apple promo months ago. Unfortunately when Shabby Apple do promotions via blogs they are only ever for USA residents so I needed to make this myself.Then along came the RTW Challenge on Pattern Review and I could think of no better excuse to make it.

I had grand visions of my blog photo for this dress. Alas, the Blogs Gods were not smiling upon me. In my little corner of the world it has been raining forever (not really but it feels like it!) and we are recovering from one of our biggest floods in decades. I’ve had to ‘make do’.
RTW/Designer Knockoff Contest

I’m SoSadLizzy as I really really really wanted to win this competition. First prize $200 Mood Fabrics voucher, second prize $100 Mood Fabrics voucher. My lust is insatiable – before this was announced I had been drooling over my dream Anise fabric. Alas our river is in full flood, our jetties surrounded by flood debris, our glorious beaches are trashed and the rain continues to fall. Boo. Sob. Howl. Life can be so unjust!! If that’s the worst I’ll ever suffer in a flood I can live with that.

Many of the entries so far are fancy – and I respect that and no doubt they will smash me in the voting stakes, lace and couture stuff is sexy. That’s OK, I love this dress, I will wear it alot and I’ve been dying to make it for months. I’d rather make a dress that I love and wear often than a statement piece that I wear once. Oh dear I’ve become so practical…

I think my dress is similiar in spirit but (ahem) better than Shabby Apple’s. When I really really looked at the Overboard dress, I really didn’t like the collar – it had no band, it wasn’t notched. The button placket makes my eyeballs cranky as the pattern matching is poor. I also didn’t like how the skirt pleats created a visual mess at the waistline. My alterations addressed this, don’t we always gloat that made-by-me is better, so why slavishly copy an original? Improve it!

I used the top of Vogue 8028 (this is out of print, I got it on ebay for about $5). This pattern is a full shirt dress, buttons to the hem – Overboard is not, it’s a shirtmaker dress – buttons just to the waist with a zip under the arm. This Vogue pattern also does not include a pleated skirt. In the end I just used the top pattern pieces.

I changed the construction order to suit my alterations. I made up the front and back as instructed and attached them at the shoulders. I inserted the sleeves flat. I did not sew up the sides at this point. First I created pleated skirt panels. Pleating gingham is super easy – you just use the checks as a guideline. I pleated so the navy gingham check forms a visual waistband – the pleats point inwards. I then attached skirt panels to the tops. Without the sash my dress looks like this at the waistline…

Vogue 8028 mash-up - waistline

Vogue 8028 mash-up – waistline

I then inserted an invisible zipper under one arm (which broke the first time I tried on the dress! Growl!). I sewed up the sides and hemmed the dress. Yes, it really was that easy!

I only made the top button a ‘real’ buttonhole. Shirtmaker dresses are great if buttonholes and buttons scare you. I sewed the buttonholes through all layers of the fabric – with the exception of the top buttonhole so I can leave it open & casual. The buttonholes secure the front, there is less chance of the buttons pulling and gaping. I simply sew the buttons over the top of the buttonhole, noone can tell and the dress front sits nice and flat. You escape the dress via an invisible zip under your arm!

I made the sash from scrap red lawn I had. Buttons were $2.99 at Lincraft.

I think my check matching was reasonable, not perfect but better than Shabby Apple by a long shot.

So in a few days I will probably be back, begging, crying, pleading for your vote on Pattern Review… I’m totally cool if you are not a fan or you prefer the other entries (I may cry for weeks but sewing therapy will get me through – and there are a stack of other things on Shabby Apple I want to make up). You can only vote if you are a Pattern Review Member for at least the last 3 months. I like Pattern Review and use it a lot, it is a good solid resource to check any potential pattern purchases against – it’s the first place I check out. (Note to self: get over there in the next two days and load up your review, images and entry – stop talking about it and start typing!)

What makes me most proud is that I modified pattern significantly – I never imagined I could achieve this sort of customised result when I started blogging last April.


In January I was contacted by Will of Abakhan Fabric via Twitter, he asked if I would like to be part of a budget bloggers’ project. Invited bloggers can select goods to the value of 15 pounds from their website once a month and make anything they choose. I pointed out that I lived in Australia but Will said that was OK. I have quite a lot of UK readers/followers so it made sense to me – and what a fun challenge!

This is great project for me, I’m a budget stitcher. The majority of my makes come from the bargain table, yes I’m picky and they are often beautiful voiles and lawn, but I freak out at paying a fortune for anything. Must be my ancestral Scottish blood (or the Welsh or English bits of me – or it could just be the cheeky cheapskate Aussie) can be blamed (or credited) for this!

Ten Pound Poms is Aussie slang to describe the British who migrated to Australia after the Second World War under an assisted passage scheme run by the Australian Government. Adults could migrate for 10 pounds sterling and children for free. So I’ve called myself the 15 Pound Aussie. Any of these Abakhan Fabric projects I’m going to tag as 15 Pound Aussie on my blog. Keep an eye out for them and if you are in the UK especially, don’t underestimate their range, it took me DAYS to choose! When I’ve over in the UK in 1 month and 17 days (not counting, really I’m not) I shall be buying up their bias binding range!

I made this dress from fabric sent to me by Abakan Fabrics in the UK.

This is my first project from this blogging challenge. An enormously wearable dress which used less than 2 metres of fabric at the princely sum of £3.35 pounds a metre, so £7.70 for the fabric plus $3 Aussie for the buttons. The RTW dress is currently on sale for $US 86. Bargain I say.

15 Pound Aussie win. Thanks Abakhan Fabrics!

Images credits: Shabby Apple and Sewbusylizzy.

#SewingDares complete

Sewing Dares
So things gotta little outta hand on Twitter the other day and the sewing Tweet Peeps started to throw #sewingdares around the globe – nothing scary – just little challenges to shake up our sewing worlds. So what dares are floating about out there? And who is to blame for such craziness? Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow of course – she who threw us into the Top 5 of 2012 frenzy! Read more about #SewingDares here… perhaps you want one?

What was my #SewingDare?

Hack a favourite pattern into something new. And Ooah suggested I hack Maria Denmark Day/Night Cowl top into a dress.

So I did.

Some suggested I just lengthen the top and turn it into a dress… however I had just cut out the Dress of Legend – Vogue 1250. It occurred to me that the way this dress is constructed is the secret to it popularity and flattering shape. I decided I could use that as inspiration to hack my beloved cowl neck pattern into a dress which had similar properties to The Dress of Legend.

If you haven’t made Vogue 1250 – The Dress of Legend (I think I was the last blogger ever to make this) – it had just three pieces… a front piece, and upper back piece and a back neck facing piece. “but what covers the junk trunk SewBusyLizzy??” I hear you cry. The front piece wraps around from the waist down to cover the junk trunk (consider them junk trunk flaps). There is a centre back seam over the junk trunk and your back is covered by just one pattern piece.

My rough muslin make up of Vogue 1250 looks like this…

The famous Vogue 1250

The famous Vogue 1250 – sorry a very tired SewBusyLizzy picture after work and drinks.

I lengthened the Maria Denmark Day-to-Night top in a similar manner – adding junk trunk flaps. I shortened the back piece and scooped it.

The hacked Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

The hacked Maria Denmark Day to Night dress – forgive the messy side, I haven’t trimmed the side of the pattern piece which sits on the fold. Messy Girl!

As my pattern pieces require no back neck facing as I simply finished the back neck and armholes with invisible elastic – so there are just two pattern pieces. Vogue 1250 has three.

I got some super cheap fabric to experiment with. The front piece is not quite perfect, I need to fiddle a little with the angles of the side cut-out area. From pattern re-draft to cutting out to sewing to wear – about one hour (loving that overlocker/serger). Yes really. This is what I ended up with…

The 'hacked' Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

The ‘hacked’ Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

Maria Denmark Day to Night dress- back

Maria Denmark Day to Night dress- back

How do the two dresses compare? Well I like the blue fabric of the Vogue better - however I prefer the construction of the Day to Night dress, the overall shape, the cowl is much easier to construct and it’s also got more fabric in the cowl and the inside edges of the cowl don’t peek out the way they do in the Vogue. Plus this is a better size for me. The smallest size of the Vogue just feels too roomy across my shoulders and I feel a little swamped.

I think I might re-make my pattern hack again. In the blue fabric, fiddle with the side pattern pieces, shorten the back piece a little. This is more my kinda dress than the Vogue dress. It feels younger, funkier and less fiddly than the Vogue. The fit is much better.

And is it a Day to Night Dress? Yes. I wore it to work the day after I made it and to drinks that night with colleagues. Oh and I got lots of compliments… and lots of oogling looks…

#SewingDare WIN.

I’ve told you before – you NEED this pattern.

Quikc post tonight – not sure if I’ve left out any vital info, just ask questions if any of the above is not clear :-)

Top 5 Favourite/Most Worn 2012

Top 5 of 2012

Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow is posting her Top 5 hits/misses/reflections/inspirations/goals for 2012. Great idea.

I think it’s always great to sit back and reflect on hits & misses – celebrate your moments of joy and absorb what you have learnt from the ‘minor’ hiccups.

So here are mine. Can you guess Number 1? Sorry no prizes for guessing the obvious…

Well you are hardly surprised are you? I adore these dresses. Beautiful finish, fit and the two skirts produce two completely different dresses. I adore my floral the most, with polka dots a very close second and then the lovely black number (it’s very sensible which makes outrageous adoration a little pathetic).

Sewaholic Cambie, View B

Sewaholic Cambie, View B. The perfect sundress, pretty, ladylike but not ‘old & fussy’.

SEWAHOLIC ALMA - not squee or twee
The perfect woven top. No buttons, no buttonholes, no fuss, versatile, comfortable. Perfect. If I had to teach the world to sew in perfect harmony… we would all be making Almas. There is enough variation in that pattern to keep anyone happy.I would be hard pressed (no pun intended) to choose a favourite between these tops.

Sewaholic Alma - view A

Sewaholic Alma – view A

Sewaholic Alma - not squee or twee... just me

Sewaholic Alma – not squee or twee… just me

VOGUE 1247 Skirt & top - the tardis skirt and top
Love, love, love this skirt. Amazing. Best casual skirt ever. I wear it all year round thanks to boots and leggings. We are BFFs.
Top is gorgeous. It could look big and boxy but in the right fabric it drapes beautifully. I wear the skirts and top… a lot.
This picture doesn’t do the pattern justice. However if you don’t have this pattern you really must buy it.

Vogue 1247 on apron day

What I really wore all day… Vogue 1247 top and skirt…

VOGUE 1236 - not a sack of potatoes a frolicking frock!
This was one of my early makes. It’s not super flash but it’s so comfortable, nicely finished and I wear it quite a lot. A lovely simple pattern.

Vogue 1236 - Definitely not a Sack of Potatoes

Vogue 1236 – Definitely not a Sack of Potatoes

I made this last week and worn it twice already. Great casual summer dress, flattering, simple to make and comfortable. Yes, yes! Pictures coming very soon.

Sewaholic Lonsdale fabric choice

Sewaholic Lonsdale fabric choice


I haven’t had a chance to take photos for the blog for my Yasmin Yoke skirts. Or make my final pair of Winnie Wide Leg Trousers. I suspect they will be on my 2013 Top 5 list!

Life intervened in a spectacular way late this year… work, family, you name it, was all going pear shaped. Casual clothes I find easy to photograph as I spend lots of time on the beach. Work clothes I am always racing out the door and the evenings are long and late and the light is bad. Great simple design, easy to wear and make. Although I did sneak in this picture when I had to pick one of my girls up (sent home from school sick – so I enlisted her to take a blog photo. Come on! She just had ‘itchy eyes’ which turned out to be an allergy and was better within an hour of medication and home!)

Sewaholic Alma - work blouse

Sewaholic Alma – as a work blouse. I’ve paired this with Maria Denmark a-line Yasmin Yoke skirt!

I have only muslined the Winnie wide leg trousers, I suspect these are my perfect trousers. They fit perfectly, I adore the wide legs and they are really easy to cut out and put together. There are not a million and one pieces. Just a simple clean design. Love them. There will be a ‘real’ pair of these in 2013.

MariaDenmark Winnie Trousers: muslin back

MariaDenmark Winnie Trousers: muslin back

Love the simple t-shirt and look forward to making more – I also printed out the Kimino tshirt pattern this week. I’ve also just purchased her brand new Day to Night top which I’ve just got to get some elastic for! It’s just $5.50 on Craftsy at the moment – special introductory price!!

MariaDenmark Birgitte Basic T-shirt - short sleeved t-shirt

MariaDenmark Birgitte Basic T-shirt – short sleeved t-shirt

I adored making the Fishing Vest, it was trimmed with all manner of frivolousness, she admires it, I adored making it.

A Fishing Vest - this project was a blast, I loved every minute.

A Fishing Vest – this project was a blast, I loved every minute.

Confirmation dress. Not my most stellar make but again Miss 7 adores it and that’s the most important thing of all! I think it’s in her Top 5!

Giselle's confirmation

Giselle’s confirmation – she is doing well not to shiver. It was freezing and they made us wait outside in a cold wind for 20 minutes! Lovely!

This might seem a weird choice but I loved making these – thank you Karen for a light-hearted sewalong that really got me to make something completely different! I loved photographing them – particularly when the tourists started taking pictures of me too! They are just fun. I’ve even made an amazing one as a Christmas gift. Yes, yes! You can see it soon!

Butterick B5474, view E: Strawberry Fields Forever

Butterick B5474, view E: Strawberry Fields Forever. Oh and that? In the background? That’s coathanger – also known as Sydney Harbour Bridge.


I made a hoodie…

Vogue 8854 hoodie - mysterious

Vogue 8854 hoodie – for a ‘nice’ girl

I can’t be a bad-ass cos it’s a Vogue hoodie. Yes the hoodie for ‘nice’ girls… from the latest season release from Vogue.

I used a Marc Jacobs knit that I picked up in Sydney’s Surrey Hills The Fabric Store last month. It’s divine. Soft and cuddly. Navy on one side and royal blue on the other. And a screaming bargain at just $8 a metre. Yes, yes I know you are really jealous now… I only needed 1.6m for this top!  I got the pattern for about $7 (including postage in a major indulgence haul from BMV).

Vogue 8854 hoodie - neck closed with toggle

Vogue 8854 hoodie – neck closed with toggle

Rachel of MyMessings in Twitter suggested making it fully reversible with flat fell seams… completely awesome idea… I eventually came to the conclusion the fabric would be a little thick (the fabric! not me thank you very much!). Good decision. I snapped two needles making this hoodie (or maybe it’s more of a bad ass hoodie than I thought).

My biggest dilemma was whether navy should be on the outside or inside. I know! Decisions!! I nearly put navy on the outside. However I have quite a few dark jeans and felt the royal blue was more versatile… and sometimes a huge chunk of shapeless navy or black just looks… well… shapeless.

This is absolutely nothing fancy (except the dead posh fabric of course) about this. I love the contrast colour that you see inside the lower back hem, hood and neck facing.

Vogue 8854 hoodie - back view

Vogue 8854 hoodie – back view

I found the hem went a little wavy/wonky but I’m not too concerned. I think it will settle down with some wash & wear. Again I think the weight of the fabric is an issue here… but it’s so snuggly all is forgiven. Despite being quite thick fabric, it’s very soft and drapey.

It’s extremely comfortable, easy to wear and I think will be a casual winter favourite. It’s not fancy wear but hey, everyone needs a little ‘slouch’ in their life right?

Vogue 8854 hoodie - hood up

Vogue 8854 – hood up

  • I turned under the inside edges of the neck facings. They just looked untidy unfinished or overlocked.
  • I flipped over the fabric to get a contrast on my neck facing when the toggle is undone. I thought from the look of the pattern only one facing would be revealed. Doh! Not true (although I could be a little neater in my styling – this was a slap on the nearest jeans/footwear and run into the backyard photo shoot). I don’t mind it so much as I figure it’s going to be done up most of the time. Note to self: stop trying to be tricky.

    Vogue hoodie - all the guts - no glory

    Vogue hoodie – all the guts – no glory. Still need to tidy up the end of the neck/hood seam. It was tough to sew through the thickness of the fabric neatly.

  • I used a wooden toggle instead of a button – a suggestion from ELH.
  • I omitted the snaps which are to hold the flap down more firmly. I just think they would look messy with the neck open.
  • I used a twin needle on the hem and cuffs. Yeah I know, dead fancy for a hoodie right?
  • I set the sleeves in flat because… well it’s just so much easier! There is no gathering in the sleeves. I attached the sleeves and then sewed up the sleeve and side seams in one go. Why make life hard for yourself?
  • I love this fabric and I like the cuffs turned back so the contrast inner shows. I haven’t stitched these back as I want the length for the colder winter days. Yes, tragically I live somewhere where winter isn’t really that cold and this will probably be quite snug most days…

    Vogue hoodie - neck open

    Vogue hoodie – neck open.

  • I hand-stitched the outside bottom of the neck opening down, rather than edge stitching along the bottom edge as the pattern says. I found the edge stitching was very obvious due to the thickness of the fabric. It created a giant puffy indentation. Not so fancy. I also stitched a little further up the bottom of the opening as I did not want to put little press studs to close the opening. I just thought it would look messy when the toggle was undone.

I figure if I get sick of the ‘bum flap’ as I have nicknamed it, I can always shorten it a little.

Next time I am fortunate enough to make it to The Fabric Store, I am going to pick up some lightweight Metalicus wool fabric, or NZ merino knit. I think this would make a gorgeous t-shirt weight top. Almost like a tunic… I suspect this is the sort of fabric Vogue have used in their top.

Good news? I’ve got the same fabric coming my way at Christmas courtesy of my mother-in-law. :-) this time it’s soft pink and fawn… not sure if it’s another hoodie or a jacket… I’ll have to wait ’til it talks to me…

Random interesting facts about hoodies: Madalynne recently posted about hoodies and a little about their origins.


Whole Wheat Cardigan

Whole Wheat Progress, the back

I’m knitting a cardigan… I think… I had a major brain explosion and couldn’t nut out the pattern. When I woke up one morning this week and went ‘Doh! You IDIOT’ (and that was being nice to myself – I can knit I’m just not very good at it – and of course I’ve chosen a pattern with lace and cables… see My Messings… I’ve been in love with this pattern ever September she posted it as a consideration in her knitting adventures… she went on to knit Miette.. and has now started Whole Wheat by Alexandra Charlotte Dafoe (you can pick up the pattern for $7 on Ravelry – where I am SewBusyLizzy if you wanna be friends) … I decided I could not live without it anymore either.Now I have figured out the pattern I don’t know what my problem was…. other than being ridiculously tired of course…

Funny… I can sew a dress with boning, lining and underlining but knitting is hard!

Final picture – taken by Miss 9 at bedtime on the iPhone…

Hoodie shot by Miss 9

Hoodie shot by Miss 9

Now I have to go and cut out a corporate jacket for Miss 9 who is starring as the corporate b*&^% who tries to outsource the elves work at Santa’s workshop. Cheery Christmas stuff…

Sew Blah Lizzy aka VOGUE 1224

Vogue 1224 - not feeling the love

Vogue 1224 – not feeling the love

OK I don’t hate Vogue 1224, in fact I’ve worn it a few times.

It’s comfortable. I’ve worn it a few times. I really like the fact the skirt is lined. I could eat three lamb roasts (with vegetables) and still have room to move in it.

Do I love it?

No. It just feels ‘blah’. Ordinary. Everyday. And I have nicer dresses that are ‘everyday’ that look a lot better and flatter me more.

This was rated as one of the Best Patterns of 2011 by Pattern Review. Now I’ve made a couple of these patterns (here and here) and love them. This I don’t love. We don’t even feel like acquaintances.

Things I’ve learnt

  1. Elastic waists are not my ‘thing’. I have to wear a belt with this dress to escape the potato sack look – I’m sure that look will be in fashion one day – but not in my world.
  2. I’m not 100% confident that stretch dresses are my ‘thing’ either – shame as they are comfortable in that tracky dak (tracksuit pant) kinda way.
  3. The Peasant Girl gathered neckline with flappy sleeves is not ringing my bell – which is quite a relief as I think I’m more suited to the Lady of the Manor lifestyle.
Vogue 1224

Vogue 1224 – I think 1224 is code for blah. You can tell I’m loving it in this picture… can’t you?

Not much to say about this one. I’m not saying it’s a bad pattern – to be honest it is great fun to sew. I feel like a little twig in this number with my stick arms blowin’ in the breeze. There are benefits to being lean but there are bootilicious-lacking pitfalls as well.

I added an inch to the hemline because I’d read it was a little saucy in the length department. Maybe a saucier length might have saved it.

I used a double needle for the first time. I thought they were complicated for some weird reason. I just watched some YouTube and realised that double-threading your sewing machine is not rocket science after all. Doh! I am no longer put off hemming stretch tops. That’s an excellent outcome.

Oh well I might just have to wear it to the beach… because I do have the lifestyle for plenty of those sorts of dresses…

Vogue 1224 - nothing flash

Vogue 1224 – nothing flash

Vogue 1224 - back view

Vogue 1224 – back view. Yes, definitely needs a belt.

Vogue 1224 - no belt

Vogue 1224 – I simply don’t like this dress without a belt to define my waist. I feel like a little sack of spuds…. I think the whippet has just done a ‘wheelie’ around me at this point and splashed me!

I like my lemon Peony more, it’s just as comfortable as I did’t take it in to fit like a glove. I prefer to wear wovens. Maybe silk jersey is better :-) however I’m not getting that in my neighbourhood. This is some plastic-feeling concoction. I do like the stretch net skirt lining – comfortable!!

I’ve had this urge to make swimwear lately. However I think they would make me feel even more blah so I’m heading back to the sewing room to finish some trousers (which I am loving Maria!) and a Sewaholic Alma blouse that has me all a-flutter… and sitting here blogging about a pattern I’m not mad about is not getting those finished.

Thanks for all your feedback about my slightly wacky apron photos. It was great fun and I even won the Apronalong giveaway. Hooray! Thank you Karen :-)

Oh… I’ve had an overdose of reality lately and thank you to those who have been so lovely xox perhaps recent events and just feeling weary is contributing to my blah response to this dress…

No I think it’s just blah…