SHE PLAYS UP TO YOU… Clairy, a Frocktails Dress

Frocktails is nearly here. I’m off to Melbourne on Friday!

I had planned to post this post-Frocktails but she’s busting outta the wardrobe… she’s as bad as Jungle Anna… perhaps worse…Meet Clairy…

… She plays up to you
pouting lips
shaking hips
and flicking her hair…*

Clairy Dress - pouting lips, shaking hips...

Someone decided she couldn’t wait…

Vogue mariaDenmark Pattern Mash-up goes NIGHT

I had grand plans for Frocktails… something classy… and then Clairy just appeared. Completely unplanned… she’s a party girl… she doesn’t wait for an invite…

This is my third pattern hacked dress, and the pattern gets more hacked each time. The back is shortened, the length is shorter, it’s much tighter…

I love how this dress fits and am always amazed that just two pieces of fabric can manage to look so damn fine.

I took a couple of daytime shots – while the dress was still in progress… as I wasn’t 100% convinced the vision I woke up with was going to deliver…

Clairy - seam details

Back view of the Clairy – there is a seam from the lower back to the hem, a seam across my lower back and side seams from the armholes to the hip, extending slightly below the back waist seam.

Daytime view of Clairy

Daytime view of the Clairy – less sparkles, more detail. I hadn’t finished the armholes at this point – I just wanted to see if it looked OK. I think the answer from ELH was ‘YES…’

Just a one more shot – because Clairy needs to shake her hips, pout her lips…

One minute she’s chilling
the next she’s sweet talk dealin’
when you gonna wake up and see…*

OK you can't see the dress detail but I love the mood of this shot...

No dress detail in this shot but I love the mood as the sun sets…


Clairy is not immaculately finished… she’s a rough & ready gal. I am ridiculously busy at the moment with little or no spare time… it’s frustrating but this is the busiest time of the year for me. Work, kids, family, drama, dance, gym, trips away. It all happens from September until December.

Shhh.. I didn’t line it – no, I’m just wearing a slip. I know, Clairy won’t last forever – she’s here for a good time not a long time – I don’t feel bad. I scored this fabric – which is usually around the $40 a metre for $4 a metre. So this cost me about $6 to make… and I have enough fabric to make another…

I’d never sewn sequins and had been a little scared of the fabric. In the end I just chucked in a heavy duty needle, denim and used a stretch stitch… seems to have worked…

* Wondering where the inspiration for the dress came from & those lyrics? It’s Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes and their song She Plays Up To You… you must listen to this…

And then listen to Love Letter. Awesome song.

’tis all… mwah

Made-by-Me in Tasmania

Great Lake, Miena Tasmania

Great Lake, Miena Tasmania

I’ve been away for a week in Tasmania. Just a quiet week, not too much sightseeing as I’ve been to Tasmania five or six times now! The holiday house is located in the central highlands of Tasmania, it’s in a little town which is basically composed of little holiday houses and very few permanent residents, it’s trout fishing country so many are shacks more than houses – quite quirky and charming in their ramshackle way.

It was nice to have a slower holiday, it helps you stop and see the little things that you might otherwise zoom by…

Pretty little flowers in the park at Cressy

Pretty little flowers in the park at Cressy

Little Australian bush flowers

Little Australian bush flowers

Most of the clothes I wore on holidays were made-by-me. I’m never sure if it’s the novelty factor of wearing my made-by-me clothes or just that they are nicer than my RTW that means they are always my first choice in the morning. The nicest thing happened in Deloraine, Tasmania. I was wandering along the main street, wearing my Lonsdale with red flats and my Whole Wheat slung over my arm. A little elderly lady was sitting in her car, she flung open her car door and stopped me to tell me how gorgeous she thought my clothes were – that I was ‘quite the picture’. Once I explained I made my clothes, we then had a lovely chat about how much she adored making her own clothes too. That was a real holiday highlight for me!

Maria Denmark Day-to-Night Top and Whole Wheat Cardigan from Ravelry

Maria Denmark Day-to-Night Top and Whole Wheat Cardigan from Ravelry

My MariaDenmark and Sewaholic clothes got a lot of wear – and my Whole Wheat cardigan, my first knitted project in YEARS was in regular rotation.

Sewaholic Lonsdale and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Lonsdale and Whole Wheat cardigan – in King Solomon’s Cave, Mole Creek Tasmania. It’s 9 degrees down here all year round! I’m cold but not quite freezing in this picture…

We took some lovely pictures in the caves but WordPress keeps reverting them to the wrong orientation. *sigh* patience required.

Maria Denmark Birgitte Top and Yasmin Yoke Skirt

Maria Denmark Birgitte Top and Yasmin Yoke Skirt. I made this top from a $1 skirt from a second-hand stall

You will notice a new little skirt has popped up. This is the Maria Denmark Yasmin Yoke skirt.. It’s a simple make and very easy to fit as you go along. I’m not thrilled with this fabric although I like the pattern. The fabric is a butter suede and while it looks and feels lovely from the outside, it’s a bit ‘sticky’ on my skin – it really needs to be linted (note to self: remember that when you use the blue butter suede in the stash!). I think I will try making this up in some lightweight demin, it’s very easy to wear as it doesn’t sit too high on your waist.

I also made up a black/white stripey top from Maria Denmark’s Birgette pattern. I cheated on this t-shirt. I made it from a $1 skirt I picked up at the school fete. It was a long tube skirt and too big for me. I cut the body pieces so the skirt hem was the t-shirt hem. I also have not bothered to hem the sleeves. I don’t think this sort of stark stripe is my thing, it’s a bit harsh. Anyway for $1 I’m not too perturbed – I love the t-shirt pattern, I like the negative ease.

We saw lots of little creatures in Tasmania. It really is the place to see Australian wildlife, once you get away from the towns and cities. On the way to house on the first night we saw four Tasmanian Devils, a Spotted Eastern Quoll, countless wallabies, two wombats and more – meaning we had to drive slowly to avoid hitting them! No doubt they were driven to the roadsides in search of food as much of the country we drove through once we got the to Great Western Tiers which has suffered in the recent bushfires.

A little echidna trying to mind his own business

A little echidna trying to mind his own business

Mother Nature can be harsh…

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress, take 2 - side view

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress, take 2 – side view

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress - take 2

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress – take 2

The above dress is my second Maria Denmark Day-to-night dress – I found this amazing knit at Lincraft, it’s a rayon knit, lovely and light (and it was half price in the recent sale). It was intended to be a Sewing Cake Tirsmisu – and while there are so many lovely Tiramisu’s out there in the blogsphere, I’ve yet to find a fabric that screams Tiramisu to me. SewImpatientLizzy!

I’ve worn this dress a lot, out and just around the house, it’s so comfortable and flattering. And yes, it really takes about 60 minutes to make!

Whole Wheat Cardigan was a star of the trip – thank you Rachel for your encouragement! My cardigan is not quite perfect, in fact I’ve nicknamed it my Amish Cardigan – I once read that the Amish always incorporated one mistake into their quilts as only God is perfect. I am very much not perfect so I incorporated many mistakes! 🙂

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan. This is waaay to early in the morning for me. PLus I didn’t take a hair dryer away – yes! A real holiday!!

I nearly finished a cardigan for my daughter – I’m knitting the sleeves now and then just the button bands to go. This pattern is Langston from Ravelry, a really sweet little cardigan. I knitting it with a Paton’s wool called Romance. It’s a yummy merino/cashmere blend and I picked it up at Lincraft just before I left for holidays. It was marked down from $9 a ball to $3.99 – like it’s meant to be. I started it once I got through airport security with my needles, I was worried some nasty airport man would make me rip the knitting off!

Langston from Ravelry

Langston from Ravelry

I’ve learnt so much about knitting in the last month. Thanks to YouTube and Google, I’ve mastered cables, SSK, the Magic Loop technique and more. If you can knit plain and purl stitches but think that knitting a cardigan or jumper is beyond you – it’s not true. I watched several YouTube videos and have vastly increased my knitting abilities. Don’t underestimate yourself. If you are determined you can do anything!

Ravelry has been a relevation to me. It’s like facebook for knitters and crocheters, an amazing source of inspiration, patterns (lots of free ones at that!) and more. It’s free to join so if you are curious go and have a look! And you can friend me – my name is SewBusyLizzy (yes I’m imaginative!).

I arrived home to the most amazing package from Blogless Anna (go and check out her adorable parrot blouse). I’m actually speechless – she sent me some fabric which she picked up at The Fabric Store’s recent sale. She said she got it home and realised it wasn’t her. So she sent it to me – it’s SoSewBusyLizzy that I’m refraining from wrapping myself up in it and rolling about on the floor. Thank you Anna – I adore it!! I have a couple of ideas how I’m going to use it… once I stop patting it.

More on that in my next blog post – along with a couple of sewing goodies I discovered at the Evandale Market in Tasmania. Plus I got a couple of really exciting emails while I was in Tasmania as well! Watch this space 🙂

#SewingDares complete

Sewing Dares
So things gotta little outta hand on Twitter the other day and the sewing Tweet Peeps started to throw #sewingdares around the globe – nothing scary – just little challenges to shake up our sewing worlds. So what dares are floating about out there? And who is to blame for such craziness? Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow of course – she who threw us into the Top 5 of 2012 frenzy! Read more about #SewingDares here… perhaps you want one?

What was my #SewingDare?

Hack a favourite pattern into something new. And Ooah suggested I hack Maria Denmark Day/Night Cowl top into a dress.

So I did.

Some suggested I just lengthen the top and turn it into a dress… however I had just cut out the Dress of Legend – Vogue 1250. It occurred to me that the way this dress is constructed is the secret to it popularity and flattering shape. I decided I could use that as inspiration to hack my beloved cowl neck pattern into a dress which had similar properties to The Dress of Legend.

If you haven’t made Vogue 1250 – The Dress of Legend (I think I was the last blogger ever to make this) – it had just three pieces… a front piece, and upper back piece and a back neck facing piece. “but what covers the junk trunk SewBusyLizzy??” I hear you cry. The front piece wraps around from the waist down to cover the junk trunk (consider them junk trunk flaps). There is a centre back seam over the junk trunk and your back is covered by just one pattern piece.

My rough muslin make up of Vogue 1250 looks like this…

The famous Vogue 1250

The famous Vogue 1250 – sorry a very tired SewBusyLizzy picture after work and drinks.

I lengthened the Maria Denmark Day-to-Night top in a similar manner – adding junk trunk flaps. I shortened the back piece and scooped it.

The hacked Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

The hacked Maria Denmark Day to Night dress – forgive the messy side, I haven’t trimmed the side of the pattern piece which sits on the fold. Messy Girl!

As my pattern pieces require no back neck facing as I simply finished the back neck and armholes with invisible elastic – so there are just two pattern pieces. Vogue 1250 has three.

I got some super cheap fabric to experiment with. The front piece is not quite perfect, I need to fiddle a little with the angles of the side cut-out area. From pattern re-draft to cutting out to sewing to wear – about one hour (loving that overlocker/serger). Yes really. This is what I ended up with…

The 'hacked' Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

The ‘hacked’ Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

Maria Denmark Day to Night dress- back

Maria Denmark Day to Night dress- back

How do the two dresses compare? Well I like the blue fabric of the Vogue better – however I prefer the construction of the Day to Night dress, the overall shape, the cowl is much easier to construct and it’s also got more fabric in the cowl and the inside edges of the cowl don’t peek out the way they do in the Vogue. Plus this is a better size for me. The smallest size of the Vogue just feels too roomy across my shoulders and I feel a little swamped.

I think I might re-make my pattern hack again. In the blue fabric, fiddle with the side pattern pieces, shorten the back piece a little. This is more my kinda dress than the Vogue dress. It feels younger, funkier and less fiddly than the Vogue. The fit is much better.

And is it a Day to Night Dress? Yes. I wore it to work the day after I made it and to drinks that night with colleagues. Oh and I got lots of compliments… and lots of oogling looks…

#SewingDare WIN.

I’ve told you before – you NEED this pattern.

Quikc post tonight – not sure if I’ve left out any vital info, just ask questions if any of the above is not clear 🙂

MARIA DENMARK – day to night top… 5 STARS

Maria Denmark - Day to Night Top. This pattern is SOLID GOLD. Easy and looks fabulous.

Maria Denmark – Day to Night Top. This pattern is SOLID GOLD. Easy and looks fabulous.

OMG I love this top and and I love this pattern. It’s MariaDenmark’s Day to Night Drape Top. I made it this morning and wore it today. Seriously, it’s that quick and easy.

Two pieces to cut out. Elastic for the back neck line and armholes and you are done.

“Oh no it’s a PDF pattern” I hear you cry. Yeah… get a grip. If you are clever you just have to stick six pieces together for the top and six pieces together for the back – if that’s too much of a challenge I can lend you my 7-year-old, she’s a whizz with scissors and tape. Trust me, it’s not one of those enormous jigsaw puzzles that gets completely out of whack by Sheet 30. And these patterns do not have a lot of ink on the page so that’s no excuse either.

Maria Denmark - Day to Night Top. The 'day' shot, back view

Maria Denmark – Day to Night Top. The ‘day’ shot, back

PDF patterns can be a mild challenge but so can wrestling fragile tissue paper back into an envelope. It’s just a different challenge. Get outta that comfort zone I say!

I’ve also got smart about these non-seam allowance patterns. I have a little two pencil tool which I use to trace around the pattern. I then cut out from this second line – so I don’t have to think about it as I cut and sew (cos I am a bit of a dunderhead when it comes to that!). Easy peasy.

seam allowance tracer

seam allowance tracer

This is an amazing top. I love love love love drape necklines.

Did I mention I love drape necklines?

I usually have to wait for them to be in fashion or buy them via mail order. Now I can make them whenever I want!! Hooray.

This took me about 90 minutes to sew. And that was mainly because I had never used my new overlocker to sew stretch and I had never used invisible elastic – so I had a few tests on scraps before I tackled the ‘real thing’.

Maria Denmark - Day to Night Top. The 'night' shot

Maria Denmark – Day to Night Top. The ‘night’ shot. My fabric is a little sheer in this light!

Could not be happier with this project.

And it’s about $5.50 on Craftsy at the moment. Stop reading now and go and buy it. Consider it a Christmas present to yourself.

And if you think I am high on Christmas spirit – well Scruffy Badger is too. Either we are both mad or just switched-on stitchers. I’m going for the latter – how about you Winnie?

Winnie has put sleeves on her’s – clearly my current weather doesn’t require sleeves. But if you have Maria’s Birgitte tshirt – the sleeves from that fit onto the top. Genius.

I used invisible elastic on my top. I could only find white or black foldover elastic at ‘my local’. I tested the technique on a scrap before I sewed the ‘real top’.

Maria Denmark - Day to Night Top. The daytime top beach outing - that's me!

Maria Denmark – Day to Night Top. The daytime top beach outing – that’s me!

Managing a Sew Busy Life

I’ve had the rather challenging life lately. Life seems to be a slow-motion avalanche swamping me at the moment. In the midst of my less-than chillaxed life, sewing has been a real refuge from the onslaught of reality.

Sewaholic Alma: sneak peek

Sewaholic Alma: sneak peek. It makes me giggle that I have tweeted this image a few times…

In the past couple of weeks, I have made a gorgeous new Alma blouse (yes pictures soon, have patience people! I have provided a sneak peek above) and a muslin for MariaDenmark’s new trousers.

MariaDenmark 301 – Winnie Wide Legged Trousers

MariaDenmark 301 – Winnie Wide Legged Trousers

Maria and I met through Twitter and it’s been fabulous. She’s got me to sew an a-line skirt (in fact I’ve made two I just have not had a chance to take pictures due to the life avalanche – which I have been feeling very bad about), a t-shirt and now trousers.

Maria sent me her trousers pattern just before it was released – to test instructions, notches etc. Life shortly thereafter delivered a quite spectacular landslide and they took me a little longer than usual.

However I’ve finished my very rough muslin. The fabric only cost me $4 and it’s a polyester twill – which sounds horrid but it’s got an excellent drape. Given my first Thurlows I thought it best to be cautious with my cash!

Maria’s new trousers are wide-legs. Despite my love of hussy-length skirts, I have always adored wide-leg trousers. And these are perfect. I can’t wait to find some nice fabric and make them again! The junk trunk is happy.

MariaDenmark Winnie Trousers: muslin back

MariaDenmark Winnie Trousers: muslin back

Please excuse the appalling pictures taken on the iPhone at 11pm! And the unironed pants… and I’m standing slightly lopsided… and they are unhemmed!

These trousers have just 12 pieces – compared to the 21 pieces for Sewaholic Thurlow. Now I really like the Thurlows but the simplicity of Maria’s design appeals to me – and I love the fit. I took my sides in a tiny bit too much and will add belt loops next time.

Maria directed me to a Threads online tutorial for doing the fly front zipper and it was magic! Life changing stuff! My fly front zip went in perfectly!

Maria is running a pants ‘fit-along’ at the moment so if pants have scared you, don’t be afraid. These pants are easy peasy. Grab a pants pattern, learn some new stuff about fitting your booty. I’ve just got to figure out how to get the back waistband to fit perfectly and then my life will be complete 🙂

And my Apronalong prize arrived today! Thank you Karen 🙂 x I love it – even the wrapping paper/bag!

Apronalong prize!

Apronalong prize!


This weekend’s #sewingsocial got me thinking. About sewing, about being busy. And about managing all those things (It was ironic that I had to stop scrubbing the kitchen floor to participate).

Busy is a catchcry of today’s world. We are all so busy (or in my case sew busy and so busy!). I personally don’t think I’m any busier than anyone else. Or that the things in my life are more important or demanding than anyone else. I think it’s all about perspective. The things that we do in our lives are important to us as individuals and make us who we are – our values, priorities and ambitions.

I often get asked how I manage everything. I don’t know, it’s just how my life is and I just get on with it – not much else to so about it really is there? I get outta bed (some days more reluctantly than others) and just plod my way through life.

I have a fulltime job. I am married with two children. I don’t have a cleaner for my house. I cook our meals, we rarely have take-away. My kids do after-school activities. I squash in a weekly grocery shop. I have a high-maintenance dog. I sew. I blog. I tweet. My husband has one night out a week at ‘boys night’. We go to Sydney to see family now and then. Not spectacular but it’s busy all the time – like most people’s lives. I often don’t sit down until after 9pm every night and I’m back up at 6.15am.

And I sew. I often get asked ‘how do you find time to sew?’ Good question but the better one is ‘why do I find time to sew?’

In the midst of family dramas, workplace upheavals and sick children, sewing provides me with a centre. When I sew, trace patterns, cut out, it’s almost like the world’s chatter shuts up. I think ‘suffer’ from the ability to have a very singular focus, I am VERY goal-driven. So doing something completely unrelated to the demands of my life actually means all that ‘essential’ life stress disappears for a time. I am only listening to the pattern, the fabric & thread, the hum of the machine and the hiss of the iron.

It’s something I’m choosing to do. I can stop sewing at any time and there is no yearly review, letter to the editor, customer complaint, call from the school, no heart attack, no sick child if I stop.

I think if your hobby stresses you out – you need to get some perspective on it.

Does it matter if you do a blog post today? If your zipper is a bit wonky? Your bound buttonholes need some work? Not really.

Chillax peeps. It’s just fabric, thread and a few notions. Just enjoy it for what it is. Pretty stuff, fresh challenges of your choice and connecting with like-minded people.

Does sewing relax you?

PS – thank you for all the lovely birthday wishes – the old gal appreciates it xox