Abakhan Fabrics Crazy Barbie Doll Giveaway

So sorry – it’s been a while. My life is being eaten up with trips, work, kids (and I’ve started exercising again) – and I have had ZERO free time to sew. Not to mention write the post about the giveaway winner!

I know. This.Is.Serious. I have a Frocktails dress to make. I am getting more frustrated by the day about my lack of free time ūüė¶

I’m sure I can pull a rabbit out of a hat… or a drunk monkey before Frocktails – watch this space…

And the winner of the Abakhan Fabric is…

LOUISE of Sew Sensational!

Please contact me via email sewbusylizzy at gmail and I will send it fabric to you – congratulations Louise!

Let’s see what Louise makes of Grandma’s Rocking Chair on Acid fabric!

Vogue 8280 front view - bodice

Vogue 8280 front view – bodice

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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā 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??


Firstly thank you so very much for all your lovely comments on my last post. It was surprisingly cathartic to write and I really appreciate your comments. I never expected to win, I suspect my reaction/thoughts are simply the outcome of working in a highly regulated environment where opinion, personality & relationships cease to exist. Everything is done by ‘due process’… and I sew to escape it. So rather than looking for reasons, explanations, criteria – I’m just going to except there isn’t always going to be those things in my sewing world and that’s what I need.

£15 AUSSIE RETURNS: Abakhan Fabrics
I finished my £15 Aussie project for Abakhan Fabricsbefore I left for London. This month I chose a lovely grey wool suiting and I must say I was rather taken with it!

I used Simplicity 2451 – a skirt much beloved by bloggers. I added a lining and hand stitched the zipper in.

For ¬£15 this is a brilliant work skirt. I loved wearing it. There will be more – no time for detail pictures, I had to fly to London! I should not have put my hands in the pocket for this picture, it looks like it pulls and it doesn’t.


And I’ve been busy sewing and knitting other things…

a detail shot of my just-finished Vine Bolero (Ravelry)


And a Japanese rayon knit Sewaholic Renfrew


and I’ve managed to squeeze a skirt out of this.


Must go. I’ve got to pack a bag for Paris…

PS: Abakhan sent me a ‘few’ things for the meet-up…



Thank goodness I am on holidays for a month at the end of this week, I am dead on my feet from exhaustion!

I have been super busy making/knitting things but need to take some pictures and finish some projects off in the next couple of days. I’m working on two skirts – one of which is my next Abakahan Fabrics 15 Pound Aussie project. The other I’m hoping to wear to the meet-up. How fabulous does this day out in London sound?? Thank you Rachel of House of Pinheiro who has done all the organising – can’t wait to meet you!

The gorgeous Rachel of House of Pinheiro

The gorgeous Rachel of House of Pinheiro (IRL I probably only come up to her kneecap)


Like all truly hopeless marathon runners, I hit the wall of exhaustion hard after the Tessuti competition.


TESSUTI GRIDLOCK – sleeves rolled back.

I thought it was a pretty neat entry. Thought out, well executed, highly wearable and stood out from the crowd, an imaginative use of the fabric. The photos were well styled and the backdrop was awesome! Unfortunately Tessuti did not agree – or at least not in a winning or honorable mention kinda way. The winner was an outstanding creation and they also decided to award five runners-ups with $100 Tessuti vouchers. And no, I didn’t make that short list either. They are all great projects, there were some in particular I really liked right from when they were posted.

I never ‘expect’ to win these comps. I’m fairly uncompromising person at times, I make something I will wear and suits the fabric – that’s not going to win me accolades – but I’d rather be ‘me’ and someone else’s version of ‘me’. At some point in our lives we all get caught up in being the someone other people want us to be or think that we are, I’m past being that person. I simply am who I am. Take me or leave me. I’ve never been a fan of reptiles of any shape or size – so my chameleon qualities are non-existent. My conclusion was that either:-

  1. my stitching is not up to scratch; or/and
  2. my fitting is not top-notch; or/and
  3. my style is not ‘Tessuti Style’; or…
  4. it actually doesnt mean much at all…

I admit, I felt quite despondent about entire process. It was one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ moments. The feeling you get when you know it doesn’t matter what the dumper says to the dumpee, it’s simply a sugar-coated version of the truth.

Then I came back and read all the comments on this post, read the comments on the Tessuti post, the Twitter feedback and realised that to humble old me it’s your opinion that counts more. I might not be a stitcher to attract Tessuti applause but you gave me a standing ovation.

Thank you.

I’m annoyed with myself for being distracted by the Tessuti project and thinking about the outcomes and what that meant about me, my style, my ability. It took me a few days to realise it meant precisely nothing. I’m just me and I’m happy with that. $1K would have been nice or just a pat on the back – but you gave me truckloads of encouragement and admiration. That’s more than enough for me. I sew & blog because it makes me happy. That’s all.

My disappointment is no criticism of the Tessuti winners, the judges or anything else. It’s simply an interesting reflection about me & the process. And I’m tired, very very tired and that never helps.

It even manged to stop me stitching (it can and does happen LOL) while I gazed at my bellybutton in long sorrowful moments of self reflection & doubt. So much so that I lost faith that I could make my pink jacket. Stupid I know.

Burda 03/2013 jacket

Burda 03/2013 jacket. A pretty wool blend.

I have these wonderfully perfect buttons from Buttonmania in Melbourne – thanks to the ever-wonderful Rachel of My Messings. I could finish the jacket before I leave but I would botch the finish. And that’s not worth it. So it shall now wait for my return. I feel really bad about as Rachel made a huge effort to get them to me on time. Thank you Rachel you are fabulous.

I had a go at making my own buttons, they were horrendous. The fabric was thick and frayed awfully. I wish I’d taken a picture of my efforts but I tossed them aside in disgust and outrage! This buttons are perfection. You need buttons? Check out Buttonmania in Melbourne, Australia. Go on spoil yourself. I know you want to.

Perfection: Buttons from Buttonmania

Perfection: Buttons from Buttonmania

Me? I’ve gotta go. Sew & pack for London, Paris & Madrid. Yes, sucks to be me.

Thanks for hanging around with me and putting up with my random rumblings and sewing creations.

Love Lizzy. ūüôā


Footnote: You know this post always bothered me a bit and I’ve frequently thought about taking it down. I think people misread it. I genuinely like Tessuti, I’m a customer and I actually didn’t mind not winning. At all. I know the winning entry would have been impeccable. I know people who know and highly respect the sewist (sorry just can’t type sewer when I talk about someone) and her & her skills are held in very high regard.
I guess the point I was making was simply I didn’t understand the criteria and I had no idea how to improve if I was to sew in a competitive sense. The more I sew and blog the more I’m not bothered by these things. I think Tessuti have more than a right to run their competitions however they like. I work in a highly regulated environment and initially struggled with anything that wasn’t strictly governed, had guidelines and so on. These days I kinda like that. I don’t mind how designers or fabric shops run their business – it’s none of my business. I’m happy to support them. In fact I love Tessuti and frequently buy fabric there.

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.