The Tutu – On Stage (part 3)

Zoe in her tutu. Yes, she is talking about the second already

Zoe in her tutu. The photograher cropped and zoomed this image for me.

It’s not quite finished here. For some silly reason I thought 100 Swarovski crystals would suffice. It needs a lot more. There are none on the skirt here and it needs it!

I have 1440 Swarovski hot tip crystals winging their way to me from Hong Kong. Yes, they will take hours to apply. I’ve come this far – what’s a few more hours?

Seeing it on stage in the small dance school concert confirmed that the light does hit the tiny crystals beautifully, creating a gentle glimmer as she moves. Like a silvery ice-encrusted piece of airy fairy floss.

She wore it to dance with the tiny tots – essentially leading them through their performance.  I’ve blurred them out because I can’t put them here for obvious reasons – but they were so sweet. Absolute stars that entranced the audience. They were ‘music box dolls’ and I guess Zoe was the big ‘doll’.

with the tiny tots

with the tiny tots

She will wear it again to dance solo… but its first outing wasn’t about her but those little cherubs.

A little like the tutu wasn’t about me but all about her.

Pattern: Dani Legge of Tutus by Dani
Materials: Spotlight, Australia
@fabphotosport@fabphotosport: Fab Photos, Port Macquarie

Thanks for hanging in there on my tutu posts!

Also seeThe Workshop | The embellishment

The Tutu – Embellishing (Part 2)

I’ve learnt a lot about how I like to work/design during this process. Not just for tutus but many projects. In particular how much I enjoy detailed projects and slow sewing.

I also embraced my inability to stick to a plan. I’m actually not a huge fan of ‘plans’ as I think you can be so doggedly pursuing a plan you might miss a magic opportunity.

I confess I will take the longest, toughest road if I think it will take me where I ultimately want to be.

The Embellishment Journey

What a long & winding road this stage was!

I listened at the June tutu workshop and studied all the recommended plate decoration techniques – and then ended up simply doing what felt/looked right to me.

I also considered my daughter’s physical build (slight) and how she dances (light on her feet) when considering my options.

The Plate/Skirt

Just for fun – this is what the underside of the skirt looks like…

tutu skirt underside

I’m pleased I just used two layers of pink and grey. It’s not overkill on the contrast but from above adds a lovely sense of depth to the skirt that you will see later in this post

Often you would decorate the tutu by using the bodice fabric to create a plate that suits over the net plate, to ‘blend’ the bodice into the skirt. The proportions are covering 1/3 or 2/3 of the plate.

I did this, hand sewed decorative braid to the edges… and hated it. It looked heavy and clunky. So I threw it away (saving the braid of course!). I think the pile of the velvet and how the colour changes as the light hits it didn’t help either. It just didn’t seem to blend with the bodice at all. I thought it made the bodice look like a quirky teacup! 

Tutu with lace overlay and velvet plate

Tutu with lace overlay and velvet plate. this is the velvet plate folded in half but you get the idea!

Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of just the velvet plate on the skirt – clearly that decision required no consideration! I also tried layering lace and various braids on and around the velvet piece but nothing worked.

So I tried with just the lace. Despite the beautiful lace fabric, it looked heavy and dull gathered over the skirt. This had been my original concept. I happily threw it out the window – not the lace… just the idea!

Tutu with a lace overlay

I trimmed the lace motifs away from the mesh fabric, sat them on the plate and pinned them on the bodice. Suddenly I was happy. I loved the look of the lace floating on the pink. I decided that the pink netting and bodice weren’t jarring together and blended nicely by running the lace from the bodice into the skirt/plate. It was the only decorative design I could settle on.

Tutu with cut-out lace motifs

Tutu with cut-out lace motifs. I loved this lace layout but the shape of the lace motifs didn’t lend themselves to an overall design.

How to attach the lace? I tried glueing it to the flat net plate. Yuck. So messy! I didn’t like how it dulled the silvery tone of the lace eithe. I tried machine stitching, I didn’t like the visible stitches.

So I tried hand stitching and trimming away the mesh – thanks Jen The Stitcher & Gatherer! Finally I was happy – and relieved!

It achieved a pretty ‘floating’ effect and seemed to best suit the soft colours of the tutu. I used the scalloped edge of the lace fabric and the lace motifs of the fabric itself. These have been hand stitched into a flat circle of netting – with an oval cut in the centre around the leotard/bodice. I focused on achieving the right shape around the outside of the net circle to match the tutu plate, I trimmed the waist ‘hole’ just before I attached it.

Yes, it was a time consuming activity. I took the circle of netting to work and did a little stitching during my lunch breaks. My colleagues have long known I’m a bit of a sewing eccentric! I think they struggled to see how this flat circle of netting was going to become an integral part of the tutu!

I attached the flat circle of embellished netting at the base of the bodice – but to the netting not the velvet. I also to the outer edges of the top tutu layer… with tiny individual stitches… yes, single stitches. This allows the waist the stretch a little without popping stitches and around the outer edge to keep the ‘lightness’.

I just love how those few layers of  darker pink & grey have created a 'depth' to the skirt

I just love how those few layers of darker pink & grey have created a ‘depth’ to the skirt

I attached the lace to the bodice trailing it across the bust and onto the skirt. 

My daughter loved the asymmetric sweep of lace across the bodice. It also suited the lace motifs which were not symmetrical and couldn’t not be mirrored down the bodice front as the wrong side was slightly duller than the right side.

I made her try it on at this stage to check the bodice lace wasn’t doing anything odd when the velvet stretched.

At this point she said “you know Mum, this is a really good tutu. And it’s a really pretty one. I didn’t think it would work in these colours. I was wrong (laughs) & that’s hard for me to admit.”

I laughed too. And felt relieved. The work was paying off!

I left the lowest part of the bodice lace stitching until after I had attached the skirt decorative plate. This meant to could stitch the lace to trail onto the skirt and blend the two section together.

Bodice lace attachment

sometimes I trimmed in blocks as ls I sewed, it helped inspire me and it was easier to ‘pick up where I left off’

Gems or crystals?

I listened to the advice about glueing gemstones – which you can buy by in the hundreds at Spotlight quite cheaply – instead I bought a hot tip applicator ($22 from eBay – thanks to the advice of Stretchwear by Sam who sews for dancewear & for dance schools & I met at the June workshop) and invested in hot fix Swarovski crystals.

I had played with what colored gems might look like but, for me, they added heaviness to the airy feel as well as introducing new pink tones. 

It might seem minor but I had an idea in my head of my lithe daughter appearing to dance in a piece of fairy floss that sparkles as she moves, with light shimmering on the grey/silver lace. That it wasn’t about the decoration as much as how the light hit her & reflected on stage. She’s very light on her feet and I wanted that quality to be reflected in a dainty, romantic tutu.

more playing: tutu with coloured gem stones

more playing: tutu with coloured gemstones

My decorations aren’t so much about being a statement in itself. My decision was to make the delicate lace sparkle as she spins. Like frosting.

I chose clear Swarovski crystals. And once the rest arrive, hopefully I will achieve the sparkling ‘frosting’ that is in my head.

Swarovski Hot Fix Crystals. I ordered  100 - nowhere near enough!

Swarovski Hot Fix Crystals. I ordered 100 – nowhere near enough! I have 1440 on their way from Hong Kong as I type! this bodice should have many, many more crystals attached to the lace soon. So hard to photograph velvet, lace & crystals!

The difference between glueing or machine stitching the lace is minimal from a distance. Perhaps sparkle paint on the lace may have been just as effective. However I know and can appreciate the difference. And that’s enough for me. I wasn’t producing a commercial tutu for sale this was a labour of love. And so I stitched and I will fiddle for hours with tiny crystals and the hot tip applicator.


Be prepared to change direction & be patient. I often left it on my dressform for days which I pondered the next step.

I took lots of photos on my iPhone and poured over them in a gallery as this was the easiest way to compared visual changes to the design.

Decide whether your project, tutu or garment, is a fast or slow project. I embraced it as a labour of love & challenge so I poured a lot of time & thought into it. Not a commercially viable use of time BUT sewing is my hobby. So I indulged myself.

I did sweat it out at the end as my daughter announced she would wear it to a dance school concert – and suddenly I had two weeks to finish! 

In many ways I am glad she did that. While I enjoy hand sewing… it was tedious work. This forced me to knuckle down and work to a deadline. Fortunately I had made my design decisions and had half stitched the plate lace. I set up the ironing board in the living room so I could stand while working and not be isolated in my sewing room.

I tucked a piece of hard board inside the leotard to make the stitching easier. However I found the easier thing to use was a shallow stainless steel bowl – so I was stitching the lace onto a curve rather like the curves of a human body.

Stitching in the living room -  a glass of wine and beeswax to stop the endless thread tangles as I worked in ever-changing directions

Stitching in the living room – a glass of wine and beeswax to stop the endless thread tangles as I worked in ever-changing directions

All this work & thought!
Is it perfect? Not by a long shot! It’s a learning process and I have enjoyed the challenges along the way (ok sewing the skirt not so much!).

I’ve created something beautiful & useful. Something my daughter loves and feels great in – and something that makes me feel proud.

The final tutu coming up next!

Also see: The Tutu Workshop

The Tutu – Workshop (Part 1)

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that ‘unselfish sewing’ has reared its crystal-encrusted dancewear head. Sorry. Not sorry.

Due to the length of the project I’ve broken it up into several posts – I won’t drag them out over weeks. One a day for three days.

I finally (after 10 years) dipped my toe into sewing my daughter’s dancewear. I’d seen enough ugly garnish dancewear to deter me… but in the end curiosity got the better of me.

I started with a tutu. I know, nothing like jumping in at the deep end! However I jumped in with a life buoy – or rather a tutu sewing workshop.

I had been web stalking an Australian tutu maker Dani Legge as I’d been pondering this adventure for a few years and my pattern research always seemed to lead me back to an Australian: Dani Legge. She’s a bit of a legend in the tutu world, particularly the stretch tutu.

When I saw a tutu workshop with Dani pop up on facebook, that was based on the Gold Coast in June, I decided to sign up.

There were two options, sewing a traditional tutu over five days (patterns by Suzanne Dieckmann of Tutus That Dance) or Dani’s stretch tutu over two days.

While the immediate choice seemed to be a traditional tutu from a sewing point of view for myself. I thought “this isn’t about me” (first step in selfish sewing recovery).

After a discussion with my 13-year-old daughter who would be wearing the tutu, I opted for the stretch tutu class. She finds them more comfortable and didn’t think the visual difference was enough to sacrifice comfort – and she’s growing. A stretch tutu will go the distance and can be sold/handed down to another dancer.

The Concept & Materials

While I initially planned for a claret/gold/cream tutu, I had a sudden burst of inspiration and created a pink/grey/silver tutu instead. My daughter thought it was a hideous concept but said “well I don’t like pink but it’s your first one & it won’t be very good anyway. So better to make that first and then my dream claret one next.” Ah…. such faith she had in her mum!

I decided to use stretch velvet (against the advice of Dani but complying with my daughter’s wishes) and layer three colours of netting into the plate:- light pink, dark pink & grey. I found some lovely silvery grey lace/net fabric. All fabrics from Spotlight, Australia.

I was the only one at the workshop sewing with velvet & I did curse myself a few times for being pigheaded. Such is life!

My materials - stretch velvet, silver lace and dark pink, light pink & grey netting

My materials – stretch velvet, silver lace and dark pink, light pink & grey netting

I won’t lie, the velvet was difficult. And while I was told to take ‘lining’ for the tutu, I interpreted that as stretch lining. However what I needed was just plain old Lycra. Fortunately a lovely lady had extra and provided my lining on the day. And it wasn’t what I think of as lining, more of underlining – two layers to give the tutu more body.

The tutu plate is made from netting – not soft fluffy tulle. Stiff stratchy netting from Spotlight… about 12 metres of it. You want tough netting so the plate doesn’t collapse.

The silver/grey net/lace fabric I ended up using differently to my original vision – part of the creative journey!

The Leotard

I’m glad I did this course as it gave me the confidence to sew more than a tutu. I’ve gone on to sew a unitard and a jazz ‘cheerleader’ style outfit for my daughter. I still have a contemporary outfit to go.

Nothing dramatic to report about the leotard – except we left the crotch seam open to attach the netting plate.

All the seams are top stitched – with my ‘lightening bolt’ stitch on my Bernina.

The entire leotard is underlined or lined with plain pink lycra – except below the waist which is just one layer or plain lycra – not velvet. The velvet pile can cause odd effects when the light hits it… and there are some places you don’t want ‘weird’ distracting shine if you get my meaning! So no velvet below the waist.

I also didn’t sew down the back straps – this was the very last thing I did before my daughter wore it!

The tutu leotard - minus the plate

The tutu leotard – minus the plate

The Tutu Plate

Everyone asks how much netting I used. I used around 10-11 metres, maybe less. There are eight rounds of netting sewn on. Each round is created by cutting across the netting’s width (150cm) four times and then sewing these into a 6 metre long strip. Each strip becomes progressively narrower as you sew the layers (sewing on the upper layer first).

So once you add up 8 times 6m of netting strips… yes, that’s a lot of netting to sew to the bottom of a leotard!

I gathered each layer using fishing line. This is a great method, particularly for this as the netting gathers as you zig-zag over the fishing line – and more or less slides out after you have attached to to the leotard. More or less because nothing is ever that easy!

However I would recommend using fishing line to gather a tough fabric like netting (some use dental floss for this purpose but fishing line comes in huge cheap reels!) especially long lengths as 1) it doesn’t snap like thread can under pressure, and 2) if you run out of thread while attaching the fishing line you can just start zig-zagging over the fishing line again where you left off. How do you do it? Simply put the fishing line down on the fabric, set your machine to a decent width zig zag, hold onto the fishing line behind your machine foot and off you go – and by placing a little tension on the fishing line in front of your foot as it is feeding through, you will discover the material tends to begin gathering behind the foot as you sew. Magic! You can adjust the gathers easily enough afterwards.

As the day progressed, my machine slowly began to disappear under the layers of netting and my shoulder ached from pushing the netting away and pushing the leotard and netting under my machine foot!

Attaching the netting - at this stage I thought "this isn't going to be that hard" Little did I know!

Attaching the netting – at this stage I thought “this isn’t going to be that hard” Little did I know!

The first layer of darker pink and then grey

The first layer of darker pink and then grey

Top layer of light pink, followed by darker pink, grey, darker pink and then the lower levels of light pink. I wanted to avoid a bumble bee look so went for teh subtle effect to achieve depth in the plate

Top layer of light pink, followed by darker pink, grey, darker pink and then the lower levels of light pink. I wanted to avoid a bumble bee look so went for teh subtle effect to achieve depth in the plate rather than high contrast

Drowning - and tired - and desperate at this stage!

Drowning – and tired – and desperate at this stage!

I snapped five needles in the last two rounds. I was not happy and desperately wanted to quit with about 3 inches to go. Seriously. This is when I was very relieved to be at a workshop as I might have thought it was too hard, that my tutu was going to look awful anyway – but Dani is quite calm & zen about tutu-traumatized students and got me through it.

Needle tips everywhere! I think I found them all!

Needle tips everywhere! I think I found them all!

Finished – exhausted and ‘over it’

I just tossed it aside at this point and walked around in circles.

I just tossed it aside at this point and walked around in circles.

OMG – this is a real thing!

The untagged tutu - fluffy!

The untagged tutu – fluffy!

Tagging the tutu

Dani uses a tagging gun to wrestle the plate into submission. A traditional tutu you would hand baste together with a supportive hoop. I would love to learn this – maybe next year!

After the few hours of wrestling and attaching netting, steaming and tagging the tutu together was surprisingly fast and gratifying. Within 30 minutes I had a tutu to decorate.

Not my tutu - however the upper layers are held out of the way and you start at the smaller lower layers first. Steaming and tagging in a staged process.

Not my tutu – however the upper layers are held out of the way and you start at the smaller lower layers first. Steaming and tagging in a staged process.



My disasters

Sewing my velvet pieces together the wrong way – the first seam! Unpicking stretch is tedious. Unpicked velvet is nightmare inducing as it marks!

I sewed my leg elastic to the wrong side. Yes, had to unpick that as well!

Breaking FIVE needles.

Final thoughts

Tutu sewing is exhausting! The leotard bit is comparatively easy compared to the epic wrestle of attaching a tutu plate to the leotard. I thanked the sewing gods every stitch for my walking foot and a relatively weighty tough Bernina.

To be honest, without that workshop and the amazing patient and calm Danni, I wonder if I would have had the faith in myself to push through the final, swear word-riddled final stages. I often felt defeated, exhausted and doubted myself.

I highly recommend a workshop for even just the companionship and encouragement that comes with a group learning experience.

Is it the best sewing I’ve done? No. However it’s my first tutu. It’s a learning experience!

However, the tutu journey didn’t end here… I packed my tutu pack in the car and went home to decorate/embellish it.

Next up – the Creative Process!


Spring – Style Arc Cara top (as a dress)

I magically dropped off the face of the blogsphere. I’ve been sewing but had very little time to sit and write.

Spring is here... finally!

Spring is here… finally! Here’s a dress to celebrate.

I decided to share this dress with you today – it’s the first weekend of the Australian spring and that makes me feel disgustingly cheerful. While my winters are not particularly cold, I always wave them goodbye without a shadow of regret in my sunshine-lovin’ heart.

The Spring Dress Journey…

Before you see more dress photos… here’s the story behind this project.

I’ve got little love for the off-the-shoulder look that has been haunting the retail stores and sewing blogs. Some of my sewing friends will be stifling their laughter to see me in an off-the-shoulder dress/top at all, given my distinct lack of enthusiasm/bewilderment for this 2016 fashion trend.

I enjoy puzzling out what I don’t like about certain looks – and sometimes how to interpret a look to be more ‘me’.

After much internet cruising and considering, I realised what I mostly didn’t like about the off-the-shoulder look was the necklines gathered with elastic. When I saw a few Style Arc Cara Tops made up (see end of post for links), I was curious about the flat band across the front of the front and the use of elastic at the back to provide the tension to hold the top in place. So I decided to investigate – by making one of course. This is a very simple top to make – and it uses very little fabric. An ideal stash buster!

The Style Arc Cara Top test run (still unhemmed)

The Style Arc Cara Top test run (still unhemmed) in cotton voile. My oldest tattiest jeans… I care not, I love them… I was surprised to not ‘hate’ this top when I made it. If I decide to make this wearable… I’ll add lace when I hem it, it is too short for my long-waisted self!

The Style Arc Cara Top test run - I found I needed to shortern the elastic just a little to pull the front band firm against my upper chest.

The Style Arc Cara Top test run – I found I needed to shorten the back elastic just a little to pull the front flat band firm against my upper chest.

Once I made this top, I immediately had an idea to turn it into a dress. A maxi dress that was soft and feminine, demure and slightly revealing all at the same time.

Once I had this idea in my head, I couldn’t shake it and I needed to ‘sew it out of my head’ so I could move onto other projects.

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress - I had this dress in my head and it's been fun and rewarding to see it come to life.

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress – it’s been fun and rewarding to see this dress emerge from my head and come to life.


The fabric I used is a gorgeous large floral woven rayon from Spotlight (Australia). It is very flimsy and a little sheer however the gathering helps disguise most of the transparency. This dress won’t last forever… however nor will the off-the-shoulder look.

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress - back view

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress – back view


To create the skirt I simply used all the fabric remaining (I purchased 3.5m for this project of 135m wide fabric – noting a sewed a size 4 top and my height is 5 foot 4 inches). I used to the bottom width and curve of the top to cut the waistline and simply cut the skirt with a generous a-line flare heading toward the hem. I added a little to the width of the front skirt piece to enable me to create a front split. I then cut the front piece in 1/3 and 2/3 pieces so the split would sit over one thigh. I find these maxi skirt splits the easiest and most graceful to walk in.

Style Arc Cara Top / Dress - I think this is a style that I would always fiddle with when I wear

Style Arc Cara Top / Dress – I think this is a style that I would always fiddle with when I wear

I sewed the waist seam with a 25mm seam allowance and then pressed it up into the bodice, machine down the edges to create a channel for the elastic waist. I will probably wear this with a narrow woven belt but left it off for these photos.

The entire garment is French seamed. The edges of the front split are turned under twice and sewn down the length of the skirt so no raw edges can be seen.

Style Arc Cara Top - and it doubles as a wind sock!

A windblown Style Arc Cara Top / Dress – and it doubles as a wind sock!

The hem isn’t as straight as I would wish… however in the photos, walking and moving about in it, it doesn’t appear to be dreadful so I’ve forgiven myself for that indiscretion.

The top is quite ‘blousy’ very loose and full – and it is the look I was after. Just soft, feminine and loose.

This dress isn’t a work of art, it’s not my best sewing due to the fragile fabric… but it’s soft and pretty – and sometimes that’s enough for me.

Pattern: Style Arc Cara Top (purchased from Etsy). Size 4.
Fabric: Floral woven rayon, Spotlight Australia. Available online.
Location: Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie Australia

Also see: Very Purple Person  |  My Dress Made  |  Creating in the Gap | Thornberry on Instagram, I couldn’t find it on her blog.


Indie Pattern Month 2016 (+ Waffle Patterns silk Warabi Tunic)

Over at The Monthly Stitch they have regular monthly challenge or event. I like it, I don’t take part (I’m just not that organised in my sewing life) but I love to read all the different posts from all sorts of bloggers from around the world.

This June they are running Indie Pattern Month, and as part of that they have created ‘bundles’ of patterns, enabling you to try a number of different designers at the reduced price. I’ve really enjoyed all the interview posts with designers involved in Indie Pattern Month – a really interesting read. Some people prefer to support independent pattern designers and others are strictly Big 4 customers. I like both, I buy patterns that appeal to me. It’s that simple.

Indie Pattern Month, June 2016

Indie Pattern Month, June 2016

Yes, this post is an advertisement for the Bundle and I received the ‘Get Away Bundle‘ for free to blog about it here.

I don’t say ‘yes’ to many/anything things lately. Work, family and community commitments keep me very busy – and the sewing/blog is just a hobby for me – but I found the concept behind this month’s initiative interesting. Some of the funds raised will go towards creating a self-hosted platform for The Monthly Stitch blog, more storage space for the community’s imagery and the ability to implement other functions, such as forums. The online sewing community, in all its forms, I think is enormously valuable to supporting sewing as a hobby and viable industry. I don;t think I would have engaged with sewing to quite the degree I did and have without the online community support and resources it provides. Other funds will be going to the designers involved and a charity – this Bundle it’s going to Little Sprouts. So that’s where your money will end up. You end up with the patterns at a good price. Up to you!

What do you get in the Bundle and how much is it? Rather than provide a blow-by-blow description, pop over to the Monthly Stitch blog and read about it there.

Indie Pattern Month, June 2016

Indie Pattern Month, June 2016

You can buy the basic bundle for $21 or for $33 you can get all six patterns in the extended bundle (prices in $USD). This package is available until 6 July 2016.

The Sewing

My sewjo needed a kick in the butt. I already owned the Waffle Patterns Warabi (and another pattern from the bundle) but supporting this Bundle finally motivated me to sew the Warabi. So it’s not an intended pattern review so much as just me just sewing something I’ve been wanting to for quite some time from a pattern company that has long interested me – have you seen the Waffle jacket patterns? I do quite like the new Vanilla jumper/top, draped and very much my style. I printed the pattern eons ago and had the fabric waiting.

Warabi Tunic, Waffle Patterns

Warabi Tunic, Waffle Patterns. It’s a little big on me, should have made the smallest size and the silk just wants to collapse on itself, creating folds under the bust and arms… although it is a voluminous top.

Pattern: Warabi Tunic, Waffle Patterns

Simple! The ‘bodice is more or less the sleeves, wrapping over your shoulders and extending across the upper bust and back, creating a ‘crossover’ at the front. The front and back body pieces are bias cut. The neckline is finished with bias tape (self or purchased – I made mine from the silk), the hems are twice turned and it is French seamed throughout. If you haven’t tried some of these techniques, this is possibly a great way to dip your toe in without being overwhelmed with a complex pattern.

This silk didn’t mark with stitching, so I sewed a line of basting stitches which I used to turn/iron up the hems. I carefully removed the rows of basting stitches and machined the hems in place. This made for neat and even hems.

The print files are layered and you can choose which size/s to print. I think that’s very clever. There is A4 or A0 files – the presence of A0 files cheers my little anti-sticky-tape heart.

Waffle Patterns, Warabi Tunic

Waffle Patterns, Warabi Tunic

The instructions are clear and concise with clear illustrations. You are told what you need to know without excessive detail. I know some sewing people love lengthy instructions but there are ample words and illustrations to get you throughl.


I’ve sewn this Warabi in a silk crepe de chine from Tessuti Fabrics, Sydney. It was a completely impulsive online purchase quite some time ago. It’s no longer on their site. Sorry!

Warabi Tunic, Waffle Patterns

Warabi Tunic, Waffle Patterns. Bonus bra strap and ‘derp’ face, must have been laughing at Banjo.


It’s a little wide on my shoulders. I think I need to put some stitches at the crossover part of the front bodice and also some strap keepers to stop the top sliding off my shoulders and wanting to pull apart at the bust.The seam keeps wanting to ripple, I suspect because of 1) fabric choice and 2) the bias bodice. I can live with it. And if I can’t, I’m pretty sure that it will find a new home easily, the fabric is gorgeous and feels lovely on the skin.

It feels oversized on me and perhaps not the best fabric choice. If I make it again, I will make the smallest size. I made size 36. Such is life!

It’s very simple but beautifully finished. It’s a pretty and slightly unusual shape. I think it could be a real winner in a summer wardrobe.

I think I need to wear a tank/camisole under this!

Oops… and a dog

Our gorgeous new/old dog - Jody, greyhound

Jody – she does this odd thing with her ears, most of the time one is pointing up and forwards; the other is lying backwards against her head. Maybe it’s got something to do with her hearing in both directions but it always makes me laugh.

I impulsively adopted this old greyhound a few months ago, my ‘horse dog’ as I call her.

She’s a former successful racer/breeder and she is nine. It’s unusual to see greyhounds of this ripe old age up for adoption, they are lucky to make it to five years in ‘the industry’. She must have been ‘a good dog’ to survive the odds.

While it’s not the smartest thing I’ve done, taking on such an old dog (average life span 10-12 years), I adore her and I feel good about it. She’s much larger than Banjo (in fact he runs under her hind legs if she is in his way) however they play together in the backyard and happily co-share the lounge room, bedding, family attention and meal time.

And if you are wondering what happened to that puppy… after five horrendous months of the puppy constantly attacking Banjo and Banjo having to live outside for the sake of peace, we admitted defeat (so hard to do) and found him a new household with multiple chihuahuas. It was pretty sad but everyone, Banjo and puppy included, are much happier. We were clearly just a halfway house on his way to his true home.

Our gorgeous new/old dog - Jody, greyhound

Our new/old dog – Jody, the greyhound. Yes it’s winter here and I’m barefoot again.

Pattern: Waffle Pattern Warabi Tunic (provided in the Indie Pattern Month June Get away Bundle – on sale until 6 July 2016).  Comes in sizes 34-48 (US 2-16) (UK 6-20), includes seam allowances/hems etc.
Fabric: Silk Crepe de Chine, Tessuti Fabrics (I think I paid $35 a metre, very indulgent purchase for me). No longer available – sorry. I used 1.5m.
Also see: Funk Bunny | The Compulsive Seamstress

Note: for this post I received the pattern bundle from The Monthly Stitch to blog about the bundle. All opinions my own.

This post first appeared on

Grainline Driftless and Tessuti Megan Cardigans

or the Tale of Two Cardigans…

Driftless and Megan Cardigan

Driftless and Megan cardigans

I confess I’m one of those people that decide they want a cardigan and then endlessly obsess over ALL the cardigan patterns. I do this for most garments. I comb through all the independent and Big 4 options. I’ll pour over blog posts, Google images, websites and in-store catalogues. I’ll decide what I want to make and then when I go to pick up the scissors… I’ll change my mind.

While Vogue 8780 continues to be one of my most worn and loved cardigans/jackets, I did want to find another cardigan pattern for a little variety.

I confess that I was luke warm when both the Grainline Driftless Cardigan and the Tessuti  Megan Cardigan were released. Nothing wrong with either, perhaps it’s the simple fact that cardigans are practical garments and it’s hard to get a blood rush about them?

To solve my usual inability to lock myself down to one pattern, I decided to make two different cardigans. I find sewing multiple versions of one pattern or different patterns of a similar garment interesting. Seeing how different fabrics change the same garment or comparing different features and construction of two garments is always interesting to me.


I’ve always found Grainline patterns to be endlessly wearable. I think Jen designs the perfectly practical, highly wearable designs that always seem to go together without a fuss. I also find her designs fit me well and so I keep returning to her patterns. My three Alder dresses and little linen Morris are some of my favourite things to wear.


The Driftless body is very wide and boxy with dropped shoulders and very fitted sleeves.

The pockets remind me of the Vogue 1247 skirt and are constructed in a similar way – minus all the Hong Kong binding of course! I’ve noticed that these sorts of pockets are popping up in a lot of RTW cardigans this winter in Australia.

Driftless Cardigan - Grainline Studios. Front view.

Driftless Cardigan – Grainline Studios. Front view.


This is a very easy cardigan to construct – don’t let those pockets fool you. I managed to cut this out and nearly complete it in an evening. It’s largely constructed on the overlocker (serger) with the exception of the pockets, thread chains and hand sewing down the neckband.

Driftless Cardigan - Grainline Studios. Back view.

Driftless Cardigan – Grainline Studios. Back view. I do like how it hangs across my back. I am a definite ‘slouch’ girl.


It’s a bit ‘Sunday afternoon’. Very casual, slouchy and not very dressy. I guess that sounds negative but it’s not at all. Those types of garments have a place in many wadrobes. Can’t be ‘fancy pants’ all the time! While it isn’t my favourite cardigan, it’s been worn a lot anyway as it’s ‘easy’ to wear, the type of garment you grab as you head out the door in case the breeze turns chilly. I don’t think my fabric choice helped. It’s some sort of cotton knit terry fabric… from the bargain table at Spotlight. I think it would be might nicer in a marle, slightly textured, merino knit. It may also be interesting with thoughtful colour choice as a colour-blocked cardigan.

I made view B with the split hem that is slightly lower at the back.

Driftless Cardigan - Grainline Studios. Back view.

Driftless Cardigan – Grainline Studios. Back view.


MEGAN CARDIGAN – Tessuti Fabrics

Now this lass and I became instant best friends. I’ve worn Megan a lot. She’s popped up on my Instagram feed quite a few times already. She was impatient and didn’t want to wait to be blogged. She simply screamed ‘WEAR ME – you know you want to’ and so I did.

I honestly had dismissed it as being ‘not for me’ as I had concerns about the fit on me, I thought the shoulders would be too wide and it would swamp me… thanks to the encouragement of Melanie, I decided to give her a try.

I do own several beloved longline RTW merino cardigans. They seem to go with everything from dresses to jeans, casual wear and a stylish office warmer on those chilly air conditioning days. Logically I should have made this cardigan a long time ago, alas I’m not always logical when it comes to my creative pursuits.

Megan Cardigan - Tessuti. Side View

Megan Cardigan – Tessuti. Side View


Megan is a very simple cardigan, full length sleeves, flared side seams and a quirky side hem detail.

Megan Cardigan - Tessuti. Back View

Megan Cardigan – Tessuti. Back View


Again a very simple sewing project. Sewn up in no time at all on the overlocker with the shoulder seams having added seam tape to keep them in shape (I also did this with Driftless).

Megan Cardigan - Tessuti. Side View

Megan Cardigan – Tessuti. Oh that lovely little side hem detail🙂 It makes my heart sing.


I adore this cardigan. I’ve received an amazing amount of compliments on it when it’s worn – which I think is the combination of the lovely flare of the hemline and the rather funky fabric that I paired with this pattern. It’s been worn a lot in its short life so far. I guess it also slots perfectly into that grungey casual vibe that I love to wear.

Megan Cardigan - Tessuti. Back View

Megan Cardigan – Tessuti. Back View – a nice flare without being overly cumbersome in ‘swooshiness’

The fabric I have had stashed for about three years, waiting for the right pattern as I feared the wrong choice would drop me into tragic acid wash territory. I picked this up at Clear It in Melbourne for the less than princely sum of $4 a metre. It’s certainly not high quality, a simple cotton interlock but it just seems to work with this pattern design.

Megan Cardigan - Tessuti. Side View

Megan Cardigan – Tessuti. front view

There will be many more Megans in my wadrobe in the future. The perfect layering cardigan.


Driftless: I simply visited Instagram and searched for the hashtag #driftlesscardigan

MeganMade by Melanie  | Clever Tinker  |  Boo Dogg  |  Rennous oh Glennuss

Named Asaka – everyone deserves a silk dressing gown

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns

The thought of silk dressing gowns, nightgowns and underwear and whatnot is rather fabulous – but when it boils down to it, too often the flannel PJ pants, old tshirts and other less glamorous wardrobe detritus too often surfaces in my ‘lounge wear’ wardrobe.

So I am somewhat smug and self-satisfied to add a silk dressing gown to my ‘lounge wear’ wardrobe. I shall no longer lounge, I shall slink about in my silk Asaka – sometimes.

The pattern was a surprise, and very welcome gift, from the lovely Vicki Kate Makes. Some people just know the perfect thing to do to make you smile🙂


The Asaka Kimono from Named Patterns features:-

  • Open-front kimono with wide-cut sleeves
  • Two-piece sleeve with a deep vent
  • Relaxed fit
  • Long belt wraps twice around the waist
  • Longline hem (seems rather long to me but perhaps I’m conservative!)

The paper pattern does not include seam allowances. The Named PDF patterns do. I know there is probably some logic to that. I’m guessing some sort of European sewing ‘norm’? If you know, please enlighten me.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, back view

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, back view


Gorgeous pattern.

Sleeve Splits: I love them. glamorous and practical. Doesn’t get much better! I turned my raw edges under twice and then stitched them down along the length of the entire seam on the outer fold. I couldn’t see how they would have stayed neat otherwise – and hand stitching on this fabric just looked awful. At least the stitching lines running neatly down the sleeve look a more like a deliberate design feature than the pucker of somewhat irregular and slightly puckered hand stitches.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, sleeves

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, sleeves. Sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Neck band: I turned the neck band to the inside and then slip stitched it in place by hand (stiches not visible from the outside) rather than stitching in the ditch by machine. I almost always choose this option as I prefer the finish. As my fabric was very light, I chose to interface both sides of the neckband. It is quite firm but it also sits closed very modestly which is nice as a contrast to the slightly sexy sleeves and shorter hem length.

Seams: I used French seams at the shoulders and changed the constructions slightly to set the sleeves n flat and then French seam the body and sleeves in one long seam.

Gown hem: I chose to finish the hem with a narrow rolled hem. I wish I hadn’t. It’s OK but could have been better.

Sleeve hems: I did these twice. First time felt messy. The second I decided to run a row of basting stitches 1/4 inch and then another 1/2 inch in from the first row. I used these stitches to turn the hems up neatly and then slid the basting rows out before stitching down the hems. This was fussy but achieved a lovely neat result.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, front view.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, front view.

Belt: I interfaced both sides of the belt and made it as long as my leftover fabric would allow. It’s probably a little stiff but I’m sure it will soften with some washes. (errrr, totally didn’t note that it was supposed to wrap around my waist twice until I typed up this blog post!). I also made some simple thread chains and inserted these into the side seams rather than using fabric loops.


Some silks are perfectly agreeable and some absolutely not. This one fell somewhere in the middle ground, somewhat compliant, somewhat slippery and somewhat precious – but loved my iron.

I’ve had this silk stashed for a few years. It’s nothing terribly expensive or from somewhere exotic (Spotlight in fact, when they had a blood rush and stocked some nice fabric for a week or so) however I continued to stash it in the hope I might one day be capable of sewing something half decent from something so pretty. Like Jen from Grainline says – practice, practice, practice – it’s excellent advice. And I would also say challenge yourself and be ok with the odd hiccup (I think I’ve got compulsive hiccups some weeks). I’ve got a long way to go. I’m OK with that.

While my Asaka is far from perfect, it’s certainly better than I might have achieved a few years ago. So the stash wallowing was worth the wait.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns

We took these photos a couple of weeks ago. Quite a warm autumn afternoon. This weekend we descended into winter at an alarming rate with a massive low pressure cell forming off the coast and moving south. Port Macquarie (and the entire east coast) has been absolutely hammered with rain and high winds. Naturally it was a the weekend of SewPort – it seems we sewed up a storm.


Thank you to wonderful sewing friends like Vicki Kate Makes and the gorgeous girls of SewPort2016 who made me smile and laugh a lot this weekend (and eat lots of food!) – you can read about it here, thanks Rachel for writing a post up so quickly. Or here by Maria! A fun weekend of sewing, laughs and food with the lovely Maria, Jenny, Victoria, Jenny, Pam, Wendy, Christine, Anna, Alison, Emma and Ruth!

Pattern: Named Asaka Kimono.
Fabric: Silk, from Spotlight a few years ago (vague – sorry!)
Also see: Bimble & Pimble | Closet Case Files | What Would Maude Wear | Design by Lindsay | Domestic Coquinette
Location: deserted corner of Town Beach, Port Macquarie on a late autumn afternoon – also photographed three other garments, including my Relax jumper.

And… it’s also Everyone Deserves Pretty Lingerie Week over at Measure Twice Cut Once  with Susan. So indulge yourself with something pretty.