About sewbusylizzy

Australian sewing blogger

Grainline Archer Button-up – mixed De Linum linens

Learning to make shirts has been one of my favourite sewing journeys. Why?

Grainline Archer Button-up sewn in a striped and a checked linen
An Archer Button-up Shirt, sewn in two linens, checked and striped.
  • They are a practical garment that you can wear all year round
  • They are perfect for layering, perfect under jackets and jumpers, fantastic worn open over dresses and camisoles
  • They are the perfect step-by-step project that you can break up into 15 minute slots. I Love sewing a shirt over many, many sessions. I
  • and finally… the details… ah the details! The seemingly endless array of collar styles, sleeves, cuffs, plackets and more. They are a great canvas for your imagination – but still result in a wearable, practical outcome.
Earth & Sky Stripe and Earth & Sky Check from De Linum

I’ve seen a lot of mixed solid and print garments lately – it’s a perfect way to use up those odd lengths of fabric that we all hang onto… because it’s too much to throw away… but too little to make another garment. It’s also a brilliant way to combine sew up those remnant pieces we can’t seem to resist in the local fabric store!

I’ve pulled several of those smaller linen pieces out of my stash but never settled on a combination I thought I’d wear. Then I spied a lovely stripe and matching check in the De Linum range and thought they would make a perfect pair!

I wanted the shirt to be more subtle, but to play with stripes and break up the larger front panels. These fabrics presented the perfect opportunity.

Pattern: Grainline Archer Button-up

After my usual bout of extreme procrastination, I settled on the Grainline Archer Button-up as my pattern choice, one of the classic shirt patterns available online. I’ve also made this twice before – here and here.

This is a great pattern if you haven’t sewn a collar shirt before – or want to brush up on your shirtmaking skills. Grainline has an extensive number of free video available online, to walk you through the process, step by step. You can find them all online here.

Sleeves rolled up… because mine always are!
Checked back and sleeves. Striped collar and yoke. Random thread which I noticed once i download the photos and the sun had gone down 😂.

French Seams

This linen is very fine and well suited to French seams. This entire shirt is French seamed, the inside is immaculate (if I don’t say so myself!). The French seam finish isn’t part of the Archer instructions but a very easy seam finishing technique. There’s information aplenty out there about how to make French seams, including this post by Grainline Studios, so I don’t need to re-invent the wheel – or seam allownace as it may be – however here’s a little technique that I find really useful.

The Archer has a 5/8 inch seam allowance. To French seam this pattern…

  • Sew the first seam, wrong sides together, with a 3/8in seam.
  • Trim the seam to a very scant 1/4in – or about a 3/16in if you want to be very precise.
  • Press the seam open. This can be tricky when you have a hot, steaming iron and a tiny seam allowance. I’ve found if I use a seam presser tool, I achieve a much neater French seam. The Clover Finger Presser (see below) keeps your fingers off the fabric, away from the iron’s steam and helps gentle open the seam up while creating a nice gentle finger press.
    This technique works even better if you have been pressing fabric as the gentler heat of the board is very useful. Once the seam is open, I give it a light press with the iron and then use my clapper to set the seam open.
  • Then turn the fabrics right sides together. As you have pressed the first seam open, you will find it much easier to get a crisp, neat edge. Press.
  • Then sew a 1/4in seam, encasing the raw edges within.
Clover Finger Presser Tool – one of those weird tools you don’t realise you need until you own one. I got mine for $2 in a bargain bin… the only reason I have it!

Bias Tape Hem

The Archer calls for a traditional double-turned 1/4in hem.

I did some research and opted for a bias tape hem due to the curved edge of this shirt pattern. This sewalong for the Closet Core Kalle Shirt/tunic is very useful if you haven’t sewn this hem finish before.

Bias Tape hem for the Archer Button-up shirt
Bias Tape hem for the Archer Button-up shirt – soooo neat and flat!

I cut 1 inch bias strips from leftover fabric, joined them end-to-end to form a long strip and then used my Simplicity Bias Tape maker to create folded bias strips. This handy machine came back into production a couple of years ago and is a fantastic tool for the sewing room. I picked mine up on special and glad I did. It’s worth every penny.

I’m really delighted with this hem finish. It looks immaculate on the inside and outside – and the hemline sits perfectly flat. Well worth the little bit of extra effort.

Archer Button-up shirt with a bias hem finish

Small details

I was going to use just the checked and striped fabrics … but stumbled across a small sample of another De Linum linen in my stash which seemed like a perfect match, so added two very small touches, contrasting sleeve plackets and inner collar stand.

Contrasting inner collar and “one of the kind” label from Kylie & The Machine

I also cut the button band on the bias. The patch pocket appears to the pattern matched… and it is but I’ve offset it so the contrasting colours are matched. I decided on pocket placement while wearing the finished shirt, I attached it twice before I was happy.

Archer Button-up details. It looks a little hectic when you pause and REALLY look at it – but I think it works due to the subdued colour palette.

Minor pattern changes

I didn’t want to break the front panels at the bust point or under the potential pocket I might add. So I sliced the left front panel approximately 8 inches from the hemline and added 5/8 seam allowance to the upper and lower piece. I split the right front panel approximately 5 inches above this point and also added 5/8in seam allowance to these pieces.

I ran the stripes in different directions for interest and also used a check fabric piece for the larger lower portion. The yoke, collar and cuffs uses the stripe fabric. The sleeves and back are checked.

Archer Button-up – the finished product.

I absolutely loved making this. Considering how to use the fabric, sewing a step or two a day, researching how to better finish the garment – it was hugely satisfying. That’s the joy of sewing, not just the end product but also the process.

Details

Fabrics: Earth & Sky Check, Earth & Sky Stripe, Icy Baby Blue
Pattern: Archer Button-up by Grainline Studios, available in 0-18 and 14-32 size ranges.

Note: there is also a yellow/tan combination at De Linum: try Earth & Sunshine Stripe and Creamy Lemon Oatmeal check

Next up

With my leftover pieces, I whipped up some handkerchiefs with tiny mitred corners.

Nicks Dress by Core Closet… unless I change my mind of course!

Life…

I’ve been very absent in the past two years. Life has been extraordinarily hectic – more on that later!

Grainline Archer Button-up in linen

Papercut Patterns Celestia Dress

aka the Floral Explosion Holiday Dress.

Papercut Celestia Dress – in cotton voile

I don’t often toile my first-time pattern attempts. I tend to cross my fingers, send up a little prayer and hope for the best.

However when a first-time pattern calls for over 4 metres of fabric and the final fabric is absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious, I’m reluctant to risk destroying it in a risky game of sewing roulette.

Papercut Celestia Dress in cotton voile: a toile

So here we are in my toile of the Papercut Patterns Celestia Dress. 4m+ of some of the most extravagantly floral fabric I’ve worn! This fabric was an impulse purchase from the Spotlight bargain table for less than $4 a metre. I wasn’t quite sure why I bought it at the time, or why I thought 5m was a good idea and I’ve nearly destashed it several times… however here we are…

The Pattern

It a very straight forward sew. The bodice is very cropped and more of a ‘ledge’ for two tiers of fabric to cascade from. There are no bust darts or shaping.

I think the straps are too far set towards the sides. I’d bring them in approximately 10mm or slightly less next time. for some reason I thought I’d experiment with doubling the straps. While it’s got potential, the complex back tie arrangements needs more visual detail is not warranted.

Toile adjustment

The back ties…. I was drawn to this pattern because I loved the back view – however it’s my biggest gripe.

Fabric recommendations are mid-weight woven (cotton, rayon, linen and blends).

Papercut Celestia Dress – those back straps… not my friend. Also please ignore my bra back – I’ll sack the stylist… however I don’t have one to sack! And yes, there are pockets.

The straps definitely fell into a ‘call a friend’ category to adjust, pull in the back bodice to fit and tie the front straps evenly. I ended up fiddling and adjusting the straps myself before trying it on, multiple times. The back loops are one fabric strap, sewn into a casing at the top edge of the back bodice, with the ends pulled out at openings at either end of the casing to form loops. While I liked the overall effect, I found it very fiddly to put on to wear, and if I pre-organised the straps to fit, I found it tricky to get off over my shoulders. So much so, I popped the stitching holding the back strap loops in within the casing.

This could simply be an issue with my fabric having less ‘slip’ than other possible choices, the back loop didn’t want to easily pull through to gather up the back section between the loops and fit the bodice nicely to my upper bust.

To tackle this issue, I decided to secure the back loops at a set length and secured them with several machine stitches. I threaded a piece of elastic through the casing and pulled it up to my desired length to fit, and then secured the elastic ends within the casing with several rows of machine stitching.

I apologise for my lack of photos or illustrations to assist here – my phone app is not playing nice and allowing me to upload any more images. Next Celestia blog post, I’ll provide some more.

This adjustment has meant the design has lost its flexibility in determining fit for each wear, and potentially the ‘relaxed boho’ vibe of a looser back fit – however it pulls the bodice in firmly while still providing comfort. It’s also easier to put on by myself and easier to take off with requiring endless fiddling with the straps for every wear (tying a bow, while pulling up the back straps evenly with your arms twisted behind your back and between your shoulder blades is quite a challenge! I salute those who easily can!).

Papercut Celestia Dress – surprised at how much I like this very floral dress. Not my usual style but a change is always good!

Final thoughts…

I think I’ll risk my scrumdiddlyumptious fabric… I love the volume in this dress – and how it’s hanging from a cropped, fitted bodice. It’s got a lovely airy, careless, artless vibe when you are wearing it.

Pattern: Papercut Patterns Celestia Dress – bust sizes 76cm – 154cm (30 inches – 60 inches)

If Romy was a dress

Romy dress, front view.

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind… but sometimes you just gotta roll with what you’ve created and make it work. These photos taken on my back deck after a work-from-home day and in the midst of a horrendously disruptive and dusty kitchen demolition project.

I’m extremely weary. Christmas, a very large tree branch landing on my roof and cracking tiles, back to work and a kitchen demolition/renovation … it’s been a hectic few weeks. So if this lacks detail… or fails to make sense… I apologise.

“If Romy Was A Dress” she might have been a Gorman. This dress style is reminiscent of the iconic Australian brand which favours simple dress shapes which let the fabric sing – which are often artist collaborations. Google ‘Gorman Afternoon Tea Dress’ to see what inspired this dress.

The Tessuti Romy Top has been popular as a ‘dress hack‘ and it’s easy to see why. If Lisa’s gorgeous version a few year back wasn’t enough to seduce you – then the floaty summer dresses of late in stores might now.

Inspired by a Gorman dress from a few season ago, when I spied this delicious textural domino check at Minerva’s Bower I jumped at the opportunity to turn an idea buzzing around in my head into reality.

It’s more cream than white ‘in real life’ – link to site provided below.

I had Romy in my stash and had made it in a linen remnant when it was first released. The fit was good and I like how it’s a slip-on top with no zipper/buttons required. Sorry my photo opportunities and blogging is sorely lacking these days!

So I tried on my top, decided where I would like my dress waistline to be and added 1/2 inch seam allowance.

I only lined the bodice as I knew the waist ease would make the skirt voluminous enough.
I hand stitched the lining to the waist seam. I love a tidy finish.

I used the outer bodice pieces as the lining pieces. I lined it with black lawn as the shepherds check is fairly textured and two layers would have added too much structure to the garment which already was going to have significant ease around the waist.

Inspired by the first Romy dress hack, I also used grosgrain ribbon for my shoulder straps. I made this during lockdown so I was just lucky to have some in my ‘stash’ to use.

Romy dress, back view

For the skirt, I used all of the remaining length, cut it in half lengthwise, sewed the two pieces together (selvedge a to selvedge a) and then gathered the full width of the fabric onto the bodice. I hand stitched a tiny hem to get the most out if the fabric length.

A narrow hand-stitched hem.

I wished I’d purchased 2m or slightly more instead of 1.75cm and this would be a tiny bit longer… but hindsight is a wonderful thing and the dress is lovely nevertheless. So after cursing myself for several months… I’ve forgiven it for my Scrooge-like purchasing and have finally decided I like it after all! How the checks met between the bodice and skirt does irritate me a little – but I’m learning to embrace my frugal habits and what comes with them!

If you put your hands on your waist… it doesn’t look quite as roomy as Romy can be!

I’ve well and truly embraced dresses with lots of ease, perfect for humid summer days… and just feeling comfortable and relaxed in, I struggle to imagine reverting to fitted styles now. Perhaps it’s the Covid lockdown, work-from-home lifestyle. Maybe it’s my age. Either way… I’m comfortable and relaxed – and happier.

Romy dress, side view – if you are seeking a waist-enhancing frock… this may not be for you!

Pattern: Romy Top, Tessuti Patterns

Fabric: Domino Check, Minerva’s Bower

London Coat Tessuti Patterns

I always think I’ll make something ‘warm for winter’… and never really do.

Tessuti Patterns London Coat (colour blocked): Yes, it has pockets!

I guess I like to pretend it’s never really winter here 😂. However, I’m kidding myself. We don’t get snow or frosts but we do need a warm coat at night, on our windy cold days or to throw on as the winter sun slides towards the horizon and the temperature starts to drop.

The London Coat by Tessuti Patterns caught my eye – is a great casual unstructured jacket to throw on with weekend jeans or even at home or in the office. Right now, thanks to Covid-19, the spare bedroom is my office!

The description from Tessuti is: “The London Coat is oversized and unlined. The coat front has a 4″ overlap which can be left open or secured with a feature pin, making it the perfect layer for a relaxed autumn/winter style. It features a hood, dropped shoulders and full-length sleeves with turned back cuffs. The horizontal hip seam, with inseam pockets, provides the opportunity for colour blocking. As seams are overlapped and edges and hems left raw, this coat is best made up in boiled wools, felted wools that do not fray when cut.”

Construction

Construction is easy enough, although takes a little patience as you overlap the raw edges and edge stitch the seams. A seemingly endless transfer of pins, you could try to do it all by ‘eye’ however I’m not a fan of unpicking seams, less so of unpicking seams in boiled wool!

Almost all seams are sewn in this overlapped, raw edged manner.
Photo credit: Tessuti Patterns.

While I didn’t use one… a walking foot on boiled wool (as illustrated in the photo above from the Tessuti instructions) is a good idea.

I cut the pieces out with the fabric unfolded, tracing around the pattern pieces with chalk as I find bulkier fabrics annoying to pin. I’m hoping I was frugal enough with my fabric to be able to piece the leftovers into some sort of pullover vest. I actually used the selvedge edge as my hood and front opening edges, the texture was very little different to the rest of the fabric and I liked the clean, consistent edge it provided.

Sizing

I made size 0. My bust is 33 inches. This pattern is for busy 32-48 inches and has a finished hip measurement (including the 4 inch overlap) of 47-59 inches.

It is a very oversized coat, ideal with layering, it can be done up with a fancy lapel or kilt pin, or left to hang open… which is usually what I do!

The Fabric

I’ve used an olive & black boiled wool/viscose blend from Minerva’s Bower. They were so helpful and readily sent me some photos via messenger with the different colours together so I could make up my mind.

I was SO tempted to chose my usual blue/black combination… however since it’s often been said “a change is as good as a holiday”, and since I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time, I opted for olive and black.

Not quite a holiday… however it was a fun sewing project and great casual wear.

Verdict

A great oversized coat or coatigan, soft and slouchy for casual wear, and perfect for layering.

Details

Pattern: London Coat, Tessuti Patterns (hard copy or PDF download)

Fabric: Olive and Black boiled wool/viscose blend from Minvera’s Bower

Mirri Jumpsuit – Papercut Patterns

Who even am I?

Another blog post! I’m feeling re-inspired, perhaps it’s lovely fabric or I’ve felt the need to try to find an escape from the relentlessness of the last few years!

Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, teal linen from De Linum
Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, teal linen from De Linum

Anyway, the folks at De Linum contacted me and offered me some fabric and a pattern to write a post for their fabric site. I’d don’t’ have the luxury of fabric stores down the road – and this business is based in Sawtell – about a 90 minute drive up the road from me – which in regional Australian terms is almost next door! I love to support local business as small business in regional Australia can be hard yakka indeed. I’ve since purchased three more pieces of linen from them – oops!

I’m also posting this project here (different content) because I was a bit lost when I started to tackle this project with a lack of informative blog posts… I do miss detailed blog posts. Instagram is great for inspiration – but scrolling through hashtags and clicking on captions – and sometimes finding none – is a huge time suck. So hopefully someone finds this useful.

Mirri Jumpsuit, Pattern by Papercut Patterns, Fabric from De Linum. Back View
Mirri Jumpsuit, back view

I stumbled across their teal yarn-dyed linen I was smitten. While I adore blue, I LOVE teal with a passion.

You know I’ve been sewing for YEARS and I still learn little things all the time. For example, yarn dyed simply means the fibres are dyed and then woven – rather than a piece being dyed. The predominant colour is teal and the secondary tone is black. This provides a lovely depth to the fabric. Whatever the process… this fabric is simply divine, hands down the loveliest linen I’ve sewn. It’s vibrant in colour, soft to handle and a dream to sewn.

I choose the Mirri Jumpsuit, the twisted bodice appealed to me and given the teal and black weave of this fabric, I think it was a happy marriage of

Outrageously, I omitted pockets. I was worried they would disrupt the smooth line – and I wouldn’t put anything in them (other than my hands) – so why put them in. Plus I saved a decent scrap of fabric I may be able to re-purpose in another garment.

The jumpsuit has a zip closure and a button loop at the neckline.

I was interested to discover that this isn’t the type of ‘wrap’ that pulls the bodice tighter to your frame, rather it creates a folded effect. This is because the ties originate from the centre, immediately crossing over so the ‘pull’ effect is less than if the ties originated at the sides… not sure this makes sense! I suspect on someone with a fuller bust, the wrap would look quite different.

Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, teal linen from De Linum. Sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy
Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, front view, forgive the sea breeze photo – perils of coastal living!

ALTERATIONS

I basted my pattern pieces together and discovered the torso length was too short. I added an inch to the pants rise. There was no shorten/lengthen line on the bodice which surprised me. I think proportionally adding to both would be my preference. Nevertheless, I’m still very happy with the overall look.

I chose my size based on the body measurements – grading to a larger size between the bodice and my hips.

I am (just) 5 foot 4 inches tall – and have a long torso, shorter legs.

THOUGHTS

Pattern: Mirri Jumpsuit, Papercut Patterns

Papercut have changed their pattern stock and presentation. I always loved their original brown cardboard square packages and heavy duty pattern paper. The instructions on the paper did drive me slightly barmy.

The newer format is on lighter paper – not as fragile as Big 4 patterns. And the instructions in a highly detailed separate stapled booklet. Great presentation and good quality.

Fabric: Yarn Dyed Linen, De Linum Fabrics, Australia

While this fabric was gifted, I loved it so much I went and purchased another 2.5m length immediately… and some aqua linen for a pair of Agnes Pajamas.

Tool tip: button loops are much more crisp if you pop a clapper on the loop after pressing.

Button Loops. Top: Steam pressed and then using a tailor's clapper. Bottom: steam pressed.
Button Loops – top ‘clapped’ bottom ‘just pressed with a steam iron’.

Details

Pattern: Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, from De Linum (sold out)

Fabric: Teal Yarn Dyed Linen from De Linum

This project made me feel this happy…

Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, teal linen from De Linum. Sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy
Papercut Mirri Jumpsuit, teal linen from De Linum. Sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy