A Beach Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt, Megan Nielsen Patterns
(Made and photographed pre-hockey ball incident – see end of the post for an update)

Brumby Skirt, front view

Brumby Skirt, front view and a peek-a-boo greyhound

Really there’s not much to say about the Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt that hasn’t been said before.

Described as “Gathered skirt with deep scoop pockets. Pattern features exposed zipper and contoured waistband sitting on the natural waistline. Version 1 is above the knee and includes pockets. Version 2 is midi length, includes pockets and additional fullness. Version 3 is basic knee length gathered skirt.

I made Version 1 and lengthened it by approximately 2 inches – sorry, the exact measurement escapes me at the moment.

I’ve been eyeing off this pattern for a while, not quite sure about the outcome on me though. Makes me look curvier than I’m used to. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different silhouette to my usual choices.

Brumby Skirt, side view

Brumby Skirt, side view

I found this denim fabric at the op shop, 2 meters for $3. It’s actually really lovely fabric. Very soft and it was also very narrow, less than a metre wide. So it was a struggle to find any pattern suitable for the width & meterage.

Top Stitching

In the past I’ve had dramas with top stitching with ‘actual’ top stitching thread and tended to use Gutermann’s upholstery thread as a substitute.

I’ve invested in some proper top stitching needles for my machine and they are worth every cent. The larger eye makes all the difference. I purchased mine from Punch with Judy (Australian online supplier).

Exposed Zipper

I’ve never been a huge fan of exposed zippers but this one does not feel to ‘obvious’. I inserted it using this tutorial.

Brumby Skirt, back view

Brumby Skirt, back view

A very easy pattern and a fun sewing project.

Pattern: Brumby Skirt, Megan Neilsen
Fabric: vintage denim, op shop $3.
Tshirt: Uniglo (no longer in stock. Sorry!)

More blogs posts coming soon!


Thank you so much for all your kind and supportive words. I wrote that post from my hospital bed on my iPhone during one of many sleepless nights. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by my experience and its subsequent impact on my life to reply to the comments, perhaps things are a little too raw & real right now… but I read every single one and your kind words, positive thoughts and prayers helped me through some of the darker moments.

I’m not fixed. After an angiogram, they opted not to put a stent in my neck – which is good news due to the longer term implications of that. I also escaped neurosurgery which seemed likely for a while – more good news.

I’m at home and on anti-clotting medication, aspirin and a restricted lifestyle. No sport, no running, no lifting, shorter working hours and so on. I’m back to Sydney in November for MRI and CT scans (on my birthday no less!) to see how things are healing/progressing and to visit the endovascular specialist. So there will be a lot more sewing until then!

I refuse to be miserable and angry about the way things have turned out. Sometimes ‘life’ happens and you’ve just got to make the best of things, accept limitations and find positives in the tough times.

I couldn’t be more grateful for my friends, family and workmates who have supported me through this very rough patch. I truly understand the meaning of ‘blessed’.

Thank you. xox

Banjo - same as always

Banjo – same as always


The day everything changed…

(I’ve got a few sewing related posts waiting for you… but they aren’t quite ready, I’m far from home & this is a story I’m going to tell, quite simply because I’m here to tell it.)

Life changes so quickly.

In July I ran my first half marathon. It was a big ‘thing’ for me, having started running in February. While it’s tough, running is joyful for me. It’s distracted me from sewing and everything else. If I wasn’t running… I was thinking about running.

Gold Coast Half Marathon 2017

A little overwhelmed I was actually finishing this ‘thing’

I hoped to finish in under 2 hours, 15 minutes… I finished in 2 hours, 4 seconds.

So I entered the Brisbane Half Marathon at the beginning of August – those 4 seconds annoyed me. I loved this course and finished in 1 hour, 58 minutes & 33 seconds. The course was a little long & Strava tells me my new half marathon ‘personal best’ is 1 hour, 57 minutes & 10 seconds. Satisfying & still plenty of room for improvement as I fell apart a bit in those final kilometres. Running is funny like that, some kilometres are just so so tough even when you know you are so close to the end.

Brisbane Half Marathon 2017

About 12kms into the 21.1km course and obviously feeling great!


The following weekend, I completed the famous Sydney City 2 Surf. A 14km run from Sydney city to Bondi Beach. With over 67,000 participants, this is a MASSIVE iconic event – and a tough one. I finished in 78 minutes, surprising myself with my refusal to ‘give up’ even when I desperately wanted to and ran in the last kilometre at 4.40 pace. I finished in the top 9% of female competitors and my age group.

Sydney City 2 Surf 2017

Airborne & just relieved it is over!

So I signed up for my first marathon in October… I just run, but I thought maybe if I developed a training plan I could get faster and also run further…

Just three days later, my life took a dramatic turn.

Long story short, late on Wednesday 16 August I was hit by a hockey ball in my right throat and it dissected my carotid artery. A life threatening injury. I had no idea. With no visible bruise, swelling or damage, I just carried on with life.

I felt progressively worse as the days wore on & when I finally did get what I thought was ‘just an annoying swollen gland’ reviewed, I was immediately admitted to hospital and airlifted to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital for review and treatment. The obvious concern & trepidation of all the medical staff told me one thing, I was in serious trouble.

And so began the relentless days and nights of monitoring, tests, reviews and procedures to make sure this ‘thing’ didn’t claim my life.

It’s been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. To be confronted with my own mortality. Reality can be a very ugly thing and sometimes the only way out of a very difficult situation is to just keep moving forward one step at a time. Don’t think about the next day or week – just focus on getting through the next hour. Even when it is as scary as hell.

I’m now in the neurological ward. I’m the patient who looks absolutely fine, is mobile, has all their cognitive abilities in tact yet is a bit broken on the inside. The medical team are incredulous I’m still here. Apparently I’m pretty tough… and extraordinarily lucky.

The ugly reality

I’ve been overwhelmed & humbled by the support, concern and love that’s rolled in for myself & my family as we get through this. And the amazing strength of my family as they have stood by my side as a very physical & emotional tsunami tore through my life.

Needless to say I won’t be running for a very long time. I’m in hospital until they figure out the blood thinners to prevent clotting and to see if my body will heal itself. I’m hoping to be back home next week and to find my new ‘normal’. It’s going to be a long road to recovery and maybe the destination won’t be the same as where I came from. 

Things may never be quite the same again. 

I’ll never be quite the same again. 

But against all the odds, I’m still here.

Life is precious. 
This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

Sadie Slip Dress in tencel ‘denim’

I’ve been daydreaming about a bias slip summer slip dress in denim, maybe I’m stuck in the 90s. I’m ok with that, the music was great!

I guess it seems counterintuitive to sew a bias-cut dress in one of the heavier fabrics in the sewing galaxy. However I simply couldn’t shake this idea and here we are…

Sadie Slip Dress

Sadie Slip Dress, pattern by Tessuti Fabrics

This is the Sadie Slip Dress from Tessuti Fabrics.

I have loved this pattern since its release. If they agree with you, there is nothing more lovely to wear than a bias-cut dress. The way bias fabrics can slide and glide around your body as you move is simply sexy sinuous heaven to wear compared to a dress cut on the straight of grain that ‘hangs’.

Yes you can see my bra straps. No apologies. I intended to wear this over a tshirt but haven’t got around to making it yet. It was such a beautiful winter afternoon I decided ‘what the hell! Let’s blog this dress today!”. How gorgeous is this weather – 20 degrees at 4.30pm in the afternoon. The tshirt can wait (and to be honest… I’ll wear it with my bra straps showing… tsk tsk… #wildchild).

This is a ‘tencel denim’ rather than a traditional denim you use for jeans. Cut on the bias, it has a lovely satisfying weight about it to wear.

A simple summery slip dress. Sadie Slip Dress by Tessuti Fabrics

A simple summery slip dress. Sadie Slip Dress by Tessuti Fabrics. I STILL have my summer tanlines halfway through winter!

Shoestring straps

Turning narrow straps can be frustrating. However if you get your hands on something like the Dritz Tube Turners, life gets much easier. If you are a DIY sort I’m sure you can rustle up a similar set using piping/straws/skewers. I purchased my set after seeing a little twitter clip by Claire-Louise of the Thrifty Stitcher. She shares lots of useful tips and tricks – well worth the ‘follow‘!
I found my set on eBay. This youtube video is gives you a clear idea of the way they work.


I haven’t hemmed this – yet.

Yes I’ve photographed and blogged it anyway as I am a little undecided whether to leave it this length or cut some more off. I find taking photos really helpful to make these decisions. So let’s consider this Sadie ‘a work in progress’.

I cut 4 inches off the length of this pattern before I even cut into my fabric. Rachel of Boo Dogg provided some sage advice about the length of the drafted pattern as she has made this a couple of times (you will find them on instagram, she’s not blogged them).

I’m 5 foot 4 for the record. So if you are about my height you might like to consider adjusting the pattern before you start.

Sadie Slip Dress, back view

Sadie Slip Dress, back view. I’ve use the back darts for additional shaping.


The instructions have you turn a narrow hem on the edge of the facing. If I was using silk, I probably would do this. As I was sewing in a heavier fabric, I opted to just overlock the edges of my facing to minimise any potential bulk in this area.

I used a suitable interfacing for this fabric, nothing too heavy. I also very carefully understitched the facing… yet the front edges still want to roll out along my bustline (which results in lots of awkward fiddling!). I really wish I had increased to depth of the facing pieces (more like the Odgen cami facings – you can see them in this sewalong post on True Bias. Compared to the Sadie facing pieces seen on this Tessuti blog post) as I think this may go some way to alleviating the tendency of the facings to roll out.

I’m going to stitch the facing sides down as per the Odgen cami construction and maybe try a tiny weight in the centre front of the facing. Fingers crossed.

Sewing with the Bias

Bias is notorious however I’ve never had too much drama sewing garments cut on the bias. I minimise all handling. I gently roll or fold my fabrics up, I never pick them up and hold them up. When I sew, I try to make sure the fabric is not sliding or hanging off the edges of my table. I try to minimise anything that might encourage ‘stretching’.
The Tessuti instructions are excellent and has you use tearaway Vilene to stabilise the neckline. I skipped this, thinking the fabric was reasonably stable and if I was gentle, the neckline should not distort during construction. I was lucky – it didn’t. Perhaps with silk or a similar fabric you might like to consider using Vilene to stabilise the neckline.

This pattern has optional back darts for shaping if you use fabric with less drape than a silk. I have used these darts on this dress.


I do love this pattern. Great pattern, would make a simple summer dress, a sexy cocktail dress, a slip to wear under sheer dresses, a lovely nightie. Endless possibilities. A good pattern for $10.

The instructions do have you create full flat pattern pieces as you are cutting on the bias. So you may need to consider your paper supplies or pattern paper supplies when getting ready to make this.

Now to cut this off more or leave it be… I think I rather like this between-midi-and-maxi length… but perhaps tomorrow I will think different.

Pattern: Sadie Slip Dress, Tessuti Fabrics.
Size: XXS
Fabric: Floral Tencel Mid Wash, Spotlight Australia

Sadie Slip Dress, back view. Sewn in lightweight tencel denim. Pattern by Tessuti Fabrics

Sadie Slip Dress, back view. Sewn in lightweight tencel denim

Last Monday I ran 18kms in 1 hour 43 minutes after work – just to see if I could. I have increased my distance considerably in the last few weeks – against all sound advice – and fortunately have not injured myself  in the process (yet!).
Then I came down with ‘the flu’ on Tuesday. Less than 2 weeks out from my first half marathon – I was gutted! I’ve recovered reasonably well but think my time might be a bit slower as a result. When it’s your first half marathon, anything is a ‘personal best’ – bonus.
Next weekend I shall be busy:- running and running and running!

Sadie on the way to the beach

Sadie on the way to the beach. Yes it’s winter here. I know. Poor me.

Vogue 9204 – a simple shirt for a complicated skirt

Note: I didn’t make the skirt!

Vogue 9204 – the shirt… the skirt was a fortune ‘find’ and shows more of my legs then usual!

I did however make the blouse to pair with the skirt.

This pattern is a bit of an ugly duckling – or perhaps more kindly, a hidden gem. Vogue 9204 is a Very Easy Vogue pattern with somewhat uninspiring envelope art and a sample garment in a busy print that disguises the garment’s design lines.

Vogue 9204 - image from Vogue Patterns, McCalls

Vogue 9204 – image from Vogue Patterns, McCalls

It’s a simple pullover top with a collar that extends into ties, lined yoke with back pleats and a shirt tail hemline.

Vogue 9204 - back view

excuse the creases – car travel to somewhere without a strong onshore wind required! Bad hair day to top it off… all the running means I pay less attention to my hair lol… true story…

There are no darts and the front v-neck is finished with a simple facing.

The fabric…

I’ve made this in a woven tencel chambray which I purchased on holiday from Ruche Fabrics in Launceston, Tasmania. If you happen to be in Launceston you should pop into Ruche. It’s the Tessuti Fabrics of Tasmania in terms of fabric quality & style.

While I love this fabric, it does show every crease and seems to amplify the shadows/ripples as it falls over your body or with movement. I don’t notice this when I’m wearing it but it’s obvious in photography.

Regardless of these gripes, the fabric is divine and very fluid.

Vogue 9204 - side view

Vogue 9204 – side view

The skirt… not made-by-me

The skirt… it’s hard not to notice isn’t it?! It was called the ‘fire & ice skirt’ by Bec & Bridge. It is fully lined and has a very deep back hem facing so the front cut away doesn’t show the reverse of the fabric at the back of the skirt. It’s some type of scuba-like fabric. I paid next-to-nothing for it, one of my unexpected finds, the fabric print drew my eye on the rack and cost me less than a coffee (yes really). It’s shorter than I usually wear but maybe it will be ok for a ‘night out’ or drinks with friends, we will see. I’m sure it will be readily adopted by my teenage daughters in due time.


I deliberately chose this shirt design for its austere simplicity combined with a slightly sassy neck tie. I wanted something to quietly complement the skirt rather than compete with it.

I haven’t quite decided how I prefer to tie this… and I haven’t tried a low loose bow. The ties seem longer than the pattern illustration and I’m toying with the idea of unpicking the hand stitching on the inside back neckline and shortening them slightly… but maybe not.

I really like this simple pattern. I think I may make another in silk and/or rayon to wear as casual tops with jeans. It would also pair beautifully with a pencil skirt for work. It’s a nice change from a collared shirt yet not totally lacking in interest.

It’s a very fast make and if you can ‘burrito’ your shirt yokes, even faster. There is a small amount of hand stitching around the back neck to finish the tie neck.

Pattern: Vogue 9204
Fabric: Tencel chambray, Ruche Fabrics Launceston. Purchased in January while on holidays.
Skirt: RTW, Bec & Bridge, not current range

Thanks to my friend Susan of Measure Twice, Cut Once who lightened up my photos for me to actually show the top & skirt in their true colours (I’m not technical in this regard) and saved me taking more (clouds descended and the weather turned nasty/cold as these were taken making the colours very murky).


Still running! Park Run official time down to 26.02 minutes and I recently finished 10kms in 55.03 minutes. It’s four months since I attempted to run/walk my first Park Run. It’s been a lesson in persistence and perhaps sheer bloody mindedness 🙂

I’m trying to fit 20+ kms into my week. Yesterday I did Park Run (5kms) and then a steady 11.5kms with friends in the late afternoon as I had a hockey game at night. We trotted out for another 5kms as the sunset this evening so I could tick off 21.5km this weekend and a total of 29.5kms over the week.

I’m slowly learning to approach different runs differently. Some are more about pace, others about distance and others about time on my feet. Sometimes I run and chat with friends. It’s been a really interesting process. I’m not terribly scientific about it, I simply do what works for me and feels right/sensible.

I had a complete brain fart & upgraded my July 10km event to a half marathon… I decided I just need to finish my ‘first one’ and then I can work on my time over this new-to-me distance… can’t be that hard… can it???

Flint Pants, Megan Nielson – in tencel denim

aka ‘I can’t decide where to crop these pants!” #shortpersonproblems

These are the Megan Nielson Flint Pants (typing this on a Sunday night so excuse rambling – questions? Ask in the comments below).

I whipped these up fairly quickly then hit an epic state of indecision about length. They are drafted for 5 foot 9… which my 5 foot 4 falls a little short of.

So once I finished the main part of construction I think they lived in the WIP pile for about 3-4 weeks before I fixed up the waistband issue (later in post) and the length decision.

Fortunately Bimble & Pimble‘s recent Flint post and Funkbunny‘s Flint post on instagram inspired me to ‘Just Do It’ (thank you Nike). So here we are with my Flint Pants #notsurebutwearingthemanyway.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants. hem looks a bit out… could be stance as they seem quite straight when I’m at home looking in the mirror. That said I suspect it is because I made a curved waistband piece and that has impacted on the finished hem. These photos were also taken from a squatting position (the secret to not looking too short!) which probably also exaggerates the hem line. Something else to worry about…

The Flint pattern is described as:

Wide leg cropped pants or shorts with unique crossover closure at the side seam. Pattern sits on the natural waist and features hidden closure at the left pocket , release tucks at the front, darts at the back, slash pockets, two waistband options and two lengths.

Version 1 is a pair of above ankle cropped pants with button closures. Version 2 is a pair of above ankle cropped pants with tie closure. Version 3 is a pair of shorts with button closures. Version 4 is a pair of shorts with tie closures.

Skill: 2/5

Sizing: XS-XL (each pattern includes all sizes)

Finished waist measurements range from: 26 inches to 34 inches
Finished hip measurements range from: 39 to 46 7/8 inches


I sat on the cusp of XS, verging towards S (actual body measurements – which you can find here) and opted for more ease around my hips and decided to make S. Plenty of room but I think I would stick with this size. The crotch feels quite ‘low’ but doesn’t look like I’m having an MC Hammer moment so the comfort factor is a winner for me. Perhaps a XS might have sat up higher and closer to my actualy waistline. The pockets sit nicely and don’t pull out of shape when I slip my hands into them.

Perfect weekend or holiday pants for me.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants - front view

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants – front view


AO Pattern Sheets: I purchased the PDF pattern. Megan Nielson provides A0 files (as well as A4/US letter) and that makes me far more inclined to purchase!  Yes, it is expensive to print 3 A0 sheets but being time poor I’m happy to pay for the service. I’ve printed far too many A4 sheets, felt sick at the thought of sticking them together and find an easier option.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants, side view

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants, side view. More mullet hem moments.

Construction: EASY. Clear and well illustrated instructions. I opted for a trouser slide closures and two snaps rather than buttons or the waist tie (as cute as that is!).

Fit: To be honest when I first put them on, I did a slight happy dance about the butt and hip fit. They are comfortable and don’t seem to do ‘weird stuff’ or pulling when I move – walk my enormous dog at the beach. The folds you see here have more to do with the intermittent sea breeze and grappling with an over-excited large athletic dog that unexpectedly flips about like a possessed soggy noodle.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants - yes, definitely pants!

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants – yes, definitely pants! Jody and I do an epic butt/splayed leg shot for you! You’re welcome.


Length: Waaaaay too long for me. Tall sewists rejoice – this one is for you! Perhaps this cropped wide leg thing isn’t for me… but surely everyone needs one pair of ‘big comfy pants’?

Construction: Ummmmm… pretty sure I had a sewing idiot moment and my closure is on the wrong side. Good news? I appear to be ambidextrous in regards to dressing/undressing. I’ve managed to get them on and off without a problem and you can’t tell as I don’t want to wear them with a bodysuit (Rowan) so I’m ok with being a left/right/whatever oddball.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants - side view

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants – side view

Waistband: I used a heavier interfacing on my first waistband. It stood away from my waist/back and I think the ‘straight’ design of the waistband didn’t help much either. I dithered about this problem for a fortnight, whether I could live with it. Decided I couldn’t. Dithered some more. After doing a little research I made a new waistband pattern (personally couldn’t call it ‘drafting’ as I’m not that technical) and put on a new waistband and used lighter interfacing (teach me to just use ‘whatever’!).

Megan Nielson Flint Pants. waistband

Megan Nielson Flint Pants. waistband. Ye gods, I hate my stretch marks – however the waist sits much more snugly against my back and waist with the curve in the pattern piece. Worth the unpicking, re-cutting and sewing.

I unpicked the existing waistband and reattached the new one (two pieces – outer and inner pieces). Worth the effort. So much better!

How to alter the waistband? I drew a line along the centre of the waistband lengthwise. I added a seam allowance and cut along this line. I then almost cut through the pattern piece at the sides and centre back – leaving enough to create a ‘hinge’. I lapped the cut 1/4 inches at the side and 1/2 inch at the centre back. I’m not technical and found some of the online tutorials really helpful but more detailed than I needed them to be (for an non-techno person like me). However, here are a few if you are interested: Handmade by Heather, A Fashionable Stitch, and In The Folds. My recommendation? Read them all, google some more and use whatever bits make the best sense to you.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants, back view

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants, back view

Length: I found these sooooo long but then they aren’t drafted for my height. Firstly I cut them off at the finished length… then I think I cut off another 3 inches before hemming them. I still feel a little odd in them. Maybe I’d prefer them in heels but heck, they are so damn comfortable I’m happy enough in my billowing tencel denim pants, bare foot on the beach.


I quite like them. Despite my reservations about the leg fullness and my height (or lack of) in cropped wide pants. For me, they are more casual wear, I’m probably still more inclined to wear slim, straight jeans or higher waisted wide-legged trousers for ‘occasions’. However for an autumn afternoon at the beach I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and at ease I felt in them.

They are incredibly comfortable and I’m much happier with them after altering the waistband piece. I think they would have ended up in the ‘unworn pile’ without that simple adjustment. they sit and look much better around my waist. I am so glad I procrastinated and then went back and fixed them rather than just thinking ‘that will do’.

Personally, I think I’d recommended a fabric with some drape for this design. I suspect they would look, move and fall very differently in something with more structure. I like the way they swish in this soft tencel denim, very comfortable and flowing.

I’d rather like to try these as shorts with the tie waist option. I don’t wear shorts often but it seems to be appealing to me.

Pattern: Flint Pants/Shorts, Megan Nielson (purchased by me)
Fabric: Tencel denim, Spotlight Australia. This one doesn’t seem to crush as much as tencel denim usually does!
Also See: Megan Nielson Tester Round-up  |  Bimble & Pimble

In case you have been missing the little chap… Banjo returns

Banjo - the ultimate beach whippet.

Banjo – the ultimate beach whippet, crazy and alert as ever.

Megan Nielsen Flint Pants in action

more puppy action

Other news… running

I’m still running… yes, surprised even me – which explains the MASSIVE Garmin watch I’m sporting in these photos, it keeps me motivated so I wear it like an exercise newbie/nerd. I feel so much better, physically and mentally. Maybe it’s the ‘time out’ it provides me and the post exercise buzz.

I find myself loving Park Run (maybe not so much at the time) and in a supportive local running group called The Plodders. I don’t feel like a ‘runner’ but I feel the urge to run and the desire to ‘do better’ whether it’s pace or distance.

I even ran on my Easter break. Nothing epi but clocking up about 11km in two days.

I even ran on my Easter break – this is me red-faced after Forster Park Run not achieving a PB but heck there was a hill. TWICE! Nothing epic but clocking up about 11km in two days. My Sunday run saw me knocking out some sub 5 minute km times *puffs chest out with pride*

I never ran much as a child/teen. I was not disgraceful considering my ‘zero’ training, I’d just go out and run when I had to. Sometimes ending up at zone for cross country or on the school relay team for sprints – I wasn’t considered athletic so I never trained, I was ‘academic’ ‘musical’ and definitely not a ‘sporty girl’. Then at boarding school, one of my teachers entered me into a 10km race. I was 16. I’d never run that far and I was outraged about having to run 10km in a ‘race’ in the middle of the day. The heat nearly finished me, I was dry retching at the end (charming) but came second in my age group… it put me off for a long time. He told me at the time “I think you’re ‘a runner’. You don’t see it in yourself. One day you will.” Time will tell.

My Park Run record is now 27.02 minutes (my first ‘running’ Park Run was 32.23 on 4 February 2017). I volunteered at this week’s Park Run so I set out to achieve a PB in the afternoon and knocked out a 25.27 5km much to my surprise (and pride). I’ve entered a 10km event in June (South West Rocks), July (Gold Coast), September (Forster)… and will also do the Sydney City to Surf. Why not?

Running has given me back my ‘mojo’, confidence or whatever it is. I feel energised, inspired and more myself than I have in a long time. Not just for running, but sewing, work and more. Sometimes you can’t change things, you simply need to change your attitude.

Why wouldn't you drag yourself out of bed with a morning sunrise like this!

Why wouldn’t you drag yourself out of bed with a morning sunrise like this!

And holy crap… my blog just turned FIVE!

The Shining Archer… Grainline Studios

or the Twilight shirt… it reminds me of how Edward’s skin in the Twilight movies sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight.

This is yet another project that has taken me forever to blog. I finished this shirt just after Christmas. The threat of rain inspired me to get out late this afternoon & get some shots! My kids love this shirt.

I’ve been obsessed with sewing some more shirts. I really enjoy shirts, shirtdresses… all those little details and pieces really appeal to me.

I sewed the Archer several years ago – my first shirt… in silk no less!

I’ve always wanted to return to this pattern but there have been many distractions since then.

Last month I picked up some ‘foil’ crinkle cotton from The Fabric Store in Brisbane. I would describe it as fancy cream-coloured cheesecloth – that lovely, soft cotton, crinkled fabric – coated in a light silvery foil. It seemed appropriate to sew my own Shining Archer – as knights in shining armour are a bit thin on the ground these days.

Grainline Archer Shirt - front view

Grainline Archer Shirt – front view

The texture of the fabric had put me off. I was concerned that it might stretch and distort as I sewed. My concern was misplaced as it proved to be very easy to work with.

I opted to make the Grainline Studios Archer in View B with the ‘ruffle butt’ feature.

I sewed size 0 and while it’s oversized by nature, in this shining fabric I feel like that over-sized fit looks more exaggerated. Any folds or excess fabric catches the light and highlights them.

Grainline Archer Shirt - back view

Grainline Archer Shirt – back view

Grainline Archer Shirt - back view

Grainline Archer Shirt – back view. Afternoon breeze makes this look more fitted than it is! LOL

I decided to leave the pockets off as the fabric is so light and delicate that the pockets felt too large and heavy.

I often sew with a similar RTW garment beside me – to check details, techniques and so on. I noticed in all the RTW shirts in the house that the sleeves has been set-in with flat felled seams. I also wanted to do this as the fabric is quite sheer and I didn’t want to seam allowances to shift about and look untidy. I think those little details really irritate me.

Unfortunately I realised this after I had cut out all the fabric – and I hadn’t allowed enough in the seam allowances to accommodate this… so I just faked them by top stitching down the seam allowances. I’m a little disappointed however the outside finish is still quite nice. It’s our little secret.

Grainline Archer Shirt - side view

Grainline Archer Shirt – side view. Again – more afternoon breezes!

Grainline Archer Shirt - side view

Grainline Archer Shirt – side view

I also attached the collar using the Four Square Walls method. I always hand stitch the lower edge of the inner collar band in place before I top stitch the band. I had a little giggle when Handmade by Carolyn posted about how she does this too – I had always wondered how many others couldn’t achieve a neat collar finish without the help of a little more hand stitching than a pattern dictates! I think it results in the neatest finish and as I tend to sew a shirt over several shorter sewing sessions, a little more time spent hand stitching really isn’t onerous.

I will also confess that I often machine baste a line of stitching along the finished stitching line of the collar band and then press a crease along this before I sew the collar. Then when I do go to turn the collar band edge and hand stitch it in place, it is precise. Pedantic I know.

I also hand stitch the inside of the cuffs closed before top stitching the cuffs as… I guess I can just be a little obsessive about the strangest little things. I’m a little bothered by my cuffs rather ‘flappy’ ends and thinking about putting a second button on them to keep them neat against my wrists.

Grainline Archer Shirt - the cuffs

Grainline Archer Shirt – the cuffs

I know some replace the Archer plackets with tower plackets, I opted to stick with the pattern. This fabric is so light and sheer I preferred the original more delicate plackets of the Archer pattern.

Really there is not much more to say about the Archer. It’s a nice reliable staple shirt pattern.

I uncovered my David Coffin Shirtmaking books during my sewing room clean-up and I can see more shirts in my sewing future.

Pattern: Grainline Archer
Fabric: Foil Crinkle Cotton, The Fabric Store (Brisbane)
Also see: my all-time favourite Archer…. True Bias. And just Google Grainline Archer – this has been made over and over and over again!

Random: I’ve been running 5km a week for the last month, just on Saturday mornings. It’s a bit of a new year’s resolution that I haven’t ignored. While I hate ‘times, ‘weighing’ or anything that numerically tracks my progress, today I took another 96 seconds off my time. I’m not fast or pushing myself too hard but I’m doing OK for starting at ‘ground zero’.

Musings: where to from here…

I find myself knee deep into 2017 already… and not quite sure ‘where to from here’…

I’m still sewing… although hit some hurdles. So what I have been doing?


Every year my life goes into overdrive between October and March. The pressure is constant. I am quite resilient, very organised but I’m exhausted during the peak period and completely knackered at the end of it.

While the peak of the workload culminates in a rather fun presentation… it is preceded and followed by oceans of work.

Last year I made my dress for this event however I didn’t make my dress this year. When you are working on an exceptionally tight deadline, sometimes you need to be kind to yourself. So I popped out in my lunchbreak the day before the night, tried on one dress, it fitted and I wore it – some days it’s best not to overthink it (even when you have shocking tan lines!).  I was stopped the following day by a lady and her husband to tell me how much they loved my dress and they were dying to know what it was made from. I laughed and said “Sequins and attitude“.

I’m glad I did buy it, one less thing to think about. I dread dressing up but yet when it comes to the actual event, I absolutely embrace it and love every minute of it. A reluctant party girl I guess! Note: I’m rarely this glamorous but heck it’s fun to indulge every now and then.

Definitely not made by me!

Definitely not made by me! Rushed and somewhat scruffy lift ‘selfie’. Bonus dirty mirror photo for earrings and on the way out for drinks after!

Trust me I do prioritise my life – and I am only doing what needs doing these days (2017 is My Year of No). However with kids to care for and a mortgage to pay (and they are rather high in Port Macquarie and good jobs are scarce). My job is demanding and more often than not exhausting, working 5 days a week and getting through each day, afternoon and evening is a trial in itself!

My youngest started high school and I’m still trying to find the rhythm of a new year and all the activities that it involves.

I’ve started hockey training again. I doubt I’ll ever be much of a hockey player but it’s fun and I love the team. I’ve been trying to run a few kilometres a week as well… when time permits.

I’ve had some friends who have been amazing and kept me somewhat sane during some challenging times lately. Several times I’ve deleted all the social media apps to give myself some space. I log back in every now and then and then I’m gone again for a while – there’s a lot to be said for social media holidays.

My phone died so rather than being annoyed by that I’ve just embraced being communication-free most of the time (well apart from the deluge of work emails of course). The lack of ‘noise’ is nice and while there are some people and conversations I miss, I’ve learnt to live with that.


Yes, I still think about it constantly, daydream and plan.

I’ve made a few garments… started several and stopped. Washed fabric and sorted through patterns. Traced patterns. Maybe like a glamorous event, I just need a bit of inspiration to get started again.

I made a lovely Grainline Archer in a foiled crinkle cotton – and haven’t managed to photograph it. I’ve worried about how it will photograph as the foil makes any creases quite savage although I’m pleased with the shirt itself. That aside, I found it really relaxing to indulge in the process of shirt making, I love all the details and steps. Perhaps I need to go back to sewing things I simply love. Dresses, shirts, jackets… I think I might attempt a dress to wear in Brisbane in April.

Grainline Archer - the ruffle back!

Grainline Archer – the ruffle back!

We have had an appallingly hot summer with record-breaking temperatures. I think we have survived three heatwaves this year, with temperatures rocketing to over 40 degrees Celsius. A couple of weekends ago it was 46.5 degrees(!) so the thought of sewing has been rather unbearable so far this year. Fortunately the temperature has dropped to a balmy 28 degrees most days – which is our usual summer temperature and it’s utterly delightful by comparison.


Self confidence. I feel like anything I might sew is going to end up a disaster. I feel like that about most things at the moment! I think most of us hit that hurdle at some point, for whatever reason.

Sewing doesn’t solve life’s problems but it certainly helps me relax. On the days when I’ve had time to sew and not known what to do or where to start, I’ve simply laid on the floor of my (tidy!) sewing room and quietly daydreamed/worried/thought/planned. There are worse things to do. It’s nice to have a ‘space’ for me, as Virginia Woolf once wrote ‘A Room Of One’s Own’.


I can’t quite figure how or when to take blog photos. This has been a big issue in the last year and it’s even harder now… maybe I need a tripod and a remote. That’s another project to find time to research/purchase.

I always found the process of writing a blog post the best way to move onto the next project. There is something about the consideration, the writing and assessment in a blog post that helps me mentally sign off on a project. I miss that.

The question is… 

Where to from here… well at least in this blog space?

hmmmmm, good question. I have considered not blogging. However I love the connection blogging provides and the way it makes me reflect on my projects. I also love having a record of my sewing. And that’s all I really started blogging for. Simply to communicate and record my makes. That’s really all there is to my blog. So that’s what I’ll continue to do.

So once I figure out how to get the blogging back on track, I’ll be back.

I know. What a waste of a blog post. If you haven’t fallen into a coma by now, thanks for hanging around.

See you sooner rather than later hopefully. Maybe with a Shining Archer!