Taming the slippery fabric beast… or gelatin will change your life

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting… rather like this…

Beaker from the Muppets

Not sure which one is me…

So what lead me to this? This…

Sew Bossy package from Leila of Three Dresses

Sew Bossy package from Leila of Three Dresses

Yup, that 100% silk business scared the heck outta me. Until this point I have avoided slippery fabrics like the plague. In fact… I probably would have preferred the plague…

Once confronted by the Sew Bossy Challenge there was no running away from my sewing demons… they had come to live in my sewing room (shacked up with my drunk monkey, eating popcorn and throwing their empties at the wall – it was mayhem!).

While freaking out, and naturally, tweetin’ about my sewing angst, Leila, my Sew Bossy Boss told me (nicely) to go forth and bathe my silk in gelatin.

Exactly. What the???

So I checked out Leila’s post about this. Then Google lead me to the Couture Academic’s post. Then Threads. And finally Ms Gelatin Bath herself via Google search and Twitter… drum roll please…

Lena Merrin of the Sewing Space right here in Down Under Land aka Australia.

Let me tell you – this is genius. I bathed that silk and cut out that Grainline Archer – and sewed it up like the boss (until the collar but that’s another postpatience).

I was so impressed that I tried again last weekend with some seriously wafty, floaty, super sheer, very temperamental poly chiffon (yeah, I know, I know! Polyester! What the?? BUT the print is glorious and if that project works you will be sagely noddin’ your heads and saying “that Lizzy might be the fruitcake of the bakery but that fabric is all shades of awesomesauce,” Patience people, that’s another post too.).

I used the mixture from the Sewing Space which you can find in greater detail here – go read it for the instructions, I’m no guru I’m more Beaker-like – in a nutshell you need:-

  • 3 teaspoons of gelatin (powdered stuff from the supermarket, I think mine was about $3)
  • a cup of tap water (which I heated up in the microwave after its 30 minutes of brewing with the gelatin)
  • a bucket
  • 3 litres of water.

That is all.

Oh… and

  • a defiant, slippery fabric of course (that needs a good punch in the chops to let it know who is boss)…

… and then, without a Muppet Beaker-like explosion (which would be kinda fun but not very productive), your sewing life will be transformed FOREVER.


Go tame those slippery fabric beasts and let me hear you ROAR!


Just keep your sewing area dry (so no crying about a wonky seams now!) and rinse it out at the end. Your fabric is not super stiff, the gelatin just gives it enough body to make cutting and sewing so much easier!

Thank you Lena & Leila! This is liberating stuff, a few more of my sewing demons have been evicted from my sewing room, never to return. Jump over and check out Lena’s free files – there is a great file of how much fabric you need for different types of garments and a croquis file – now I can really stash and sketch… *rushes off to sewing room*)

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 😦

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 🙂 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??


Sorry, it’s been awhile!

Life has been BUSY. I have been swamped by domesticity but am slowing emerging. I found myself cooking dinner, putting on laundry, running a bath, cutting out fabric and knitting a row here and there (all at the same time it seemed) last Friday and thought “Aha! Almost back to ‘normal’“.

I decided to blog about the fabrics this post and people the next. So many things to show! I thought it best to show the fabrics so you can sit back and fan yourselves in case it all gets too exciting. So it’s mainly pictures tonight!

I don’t think I got spectacularly exciting fabrics. I got a few special pieces and the rest I liked the colour or had a ‘vision’ in my head… yes, heavens about – practical stuff!!

French Brocade

French Brocade – I got this at a Berwick Street sale (fancy place to buy fabrics) I got 2.8m for 40 pounds, it would have cost me 160 pounds at full price. I think it needs to be a fancy evening coat. ELH suggested that it would look great as feature patches on a military style jacket aka my French designer op shop jacket (quite an inspired suggestion I thought!)

Maybe a Pavot? I’m open to fancy jacket suggestions!

Italian linen

Italian linen from Goldhawk Road. This does not photograph well but it’s a lovely flecked denim colour. I had the Burda Crossover Blazer in my head when I got this.

Maybe a Burdastyle crossover blazer. Or the lovely Burda 7401. Could be a lovely Victoria

Lace from Goldhawk Road

Lace from Goldhawk Road. I have no idea. I thought it was going to be a top. Now I think it might be a dress with a lace overlay bodice…

Mauve wool from Goldhawk Road

Mauve wool blend from Goldhawk Road. I liked the weave in this fabric… I have no idea what to do with it. I don’t know what I was thinking…

Purple knit from Goldhawk Road

Purple knit from Goldhawk Road. I really need more knit tops. I can squeeze a cowl-necked Renfrew and a Maria Denmark day-to-night top out of this.

Rolls & Rems blue

Rolls & Rems blue knit. I got this shopping with Clare of SewDixieLou. She’s gorgeous – more on this next post! This was a princely 3 pounds. I love it.

Rolls & Rems 2

From Rolls & Rems with Clare of SewDixieLou. I think this has a lot of polyester but I love it. It might be a Deer & Doe Datura…

Silk Cotton Blue from Goldhawk Road

Silk Cotton from Goldhawk Road. At just 5 pounds a metre I could not resist this. Beautiful…

Silk Cotton from Goldhawk Road

Silk Cotton from Goldhawk Road. This is another 5 pound a metre wonder. Lovely stuff.

Teal Ponti from Goldhawk Road

Teal Ponti from Goldhawk Road. This is one of my favourite colours, it’s a much more vivid teal than it appears in this photo. I have a Vogue 8593 in my head

Is that enough fabric for today?