Thursday, 3 October 2013

I've moved!

Just a quick note that I now have a Domain and have moved to WordPress so that I can be much more interactive. This way you can follow my responses to your comments, plus no Discus or Captcha!
My new address is 
I believe Bloglovin is pointing at the new address but I am not sure how the other readers work, sorry :(  If you are using Feedly or some other kind of reader, please keep following me and point it at the new address.
Thanks for following!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Fall for Cotton: Vintage Shirt-Dress

I have a reasonable size collection of vintage patterns that I seem to admire more than I sew. When I saw that Rochelle and Tasha were holding a Fall for Cotton sewalong and the Monthly Stitch challenge was vintage, well I took the not so subtle hint to make up another of my patterns.

Fall For Cotton

It was definitely difficult to narrow it down but I finally decided on Mail Order Pattern-o-rama 8299, date unknown but has to be 40s I think.  I love me a shirt-dress and really like the button detailing on this one. Plus I already had the fabric and just the right amount of matching buttons in my stash! It was meant to be!

Patt-o-Rama 8299
The sweetheart neckline is cute too

The construction of this was fairly straight forward, although a little unusual by modern standards. The front bodice is sewn together, then the back pieces are sewn together and they are joined at the shoulders. As the back does not have a waist seam, but the front does, it is a little weird to try on at this point at you end up with a back skirt and no front skirt!  I was wanting to check for fit as I had only tissue fitted, I didn't make a muslin. My cotton fabric was cheap at $2/m so I was treating this as a wearable muslin with my effort towards quality of finish varying depending on the fit! (spoiler alert - I was happy with the fit so it has been finished properly)

Fall For Cotton Fall For Cotton

The collar was then attached, followed by the front skirt, side seams and then the sleeves. No zip, the button front is functional unlike my previous vintage shirt-dress.

Most times when you read about vintage patterns people say there is no ease so buy your measurements. However, this pattern is a size 35" pattern and my bust measurement is 37" and it fitted perfectly with no alterations required.  I only shortened the bodice by about one inch and narrowed the shoulders by about an inch as they were pretty wide and likely designed for shoulder pads.


I felt a little bit "Call the Midwife" looking as I made this but made a few changes to try to stop it looking too nurse-uniform like.  The buttons help a lot I think, they are vintage, embroidered and picked up on a trip to Cairns last year for 10 cents each! If only buttons were this reasonably priced!!


I also played with my machine's fancy stitching on the hems of the sleeve and skirt.  I knew I didn't want to hand stitch and I figured if you were going to see the stitching I might as well make it pretty. I know it's not traditionally vintage, but I don't mind, I wasn't going for a completely authentic finish (although I did pink all my seams, mostly because I didn't have matching thread!).

Fall For Cotton

Sorry, I did the buttonholes on my machine :) I know I could have done them by hand, but to be honest, I didn't want to! I really don't like hand-sewing, yep lazy I know, but if my machine does it then why not, and I'm all for efficiency.

I did shorten the skirt by about 5" to a more wearable modern day length.  I think even "back in the day" I would have had to shorten it too, I am only 5'2" after all and besides wouldn't I have had to ration fabric?

BTW - the "pockets" are completely decorative, just flaps!

Fall For Cotton

Pattern - Pattern-o-rama 8299
Fabric - 2.4m of cotton poplin from my stash
Notions -  11 buttons also from my stash (I have one spare in case I lose one!), thread

So that's my Fall for Cotton/Monthly Stitch dress - what about you?  Did you make something for either of these challenges?  If so, share in the comments below, I would love to see!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Fanbloomintastic Dress

Do you ever go a store and just fall in love with a fabric and just have to have it?  Of course you do, all us sewers do, amirite?  It's part of the process, seeing a fabric, loving it and making the garment of our imaginations.


I came across this fabric in my local Spotlight recently and just had to have it.  I loved the faded red colour, the floral print and the pattern placement. It is a light polished cotton and feels divine to wear.  I know the patter looks a little curtain like, but I don't care!

Again I used good old Simplicity 2444 for the bodice, now that I have the fit perfected for me, this is a nice quick make for me now. I lowered the neckline as I feel this is more flattering for my lady lumps :)


I never seem to bother with the skirt from the pattern so instead this is just a dirndl (gathered rectangle) using twice the full width of the fabric (once for the front, once for the back), gathered and of course with pockets!


One of my favourite things about this pattern is that it doesn't have lots of fancy detailing so the fabric can take be the focus.

This is closer to the real colour

Again, I left off the neck and armhole facings, I really don't like facings, and a bias finish is so much easier if you don't mind seeing a stitching line. This time I used a self-made bias, attaching it so it is visible, basically enclosing the raw edges. I first sewed his to the right side, and then stitched in the ditch to catch in the back.

It's a great dress for meetups too!  I wore it for a recent afternoon tea with fellow bloggers, Steph (also of Cake Patterns), Rachel and Reana.

Picture courtesy of

So now, I am off to play with my new toy!

New Toy!

Yep, I bought a cover stitch machine!!  I have coveted one of these for ages and now I finally have one, oh the fun things I can make now.  I sense a new obsession with stretch fabric in my near future!!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Floaty Flower Power Banksia

I think this is my fifth Banksia top!!  Previous versions here, herehere and here. So sorry for another of the same pattern, but on the plus side you all get to see how easy it is to change this pattern up for different looks!

Floral Floaty Banksia

Can you just tell I love this pattern?  It is such a great basic for making those wardrobe staples that we all need.  Just to let you in on a bit of a secret, I have about three more currently planned so look out for those in the coming weeks.

This time I had an inspiration to draw from, this lovely top from Ruche. If you haven't seen their site, go check it out, they have some gorgeous stuff, but I think the postage to Australia would be a killer, besides I can copy/mimic right??


So as I said, I used the Megan Nielsen Banksia pattern as my base and made the following alterations:
- placed five pintucks around the neckline.  I didn't compensate by adding any extra width to the neckline as I find the top to be roomy in that area on me anyway and I normally pinch some of this out of the pattern
- sewed mini ric rack over the pintucks and around the collar
- omitted the placket (obviously)
- raised the shoulders by ½"
- reduced width of collar (I have always found this collar to be too large and flappy)
- I didn't need to alter the collar length to make it meet in the middle as the pintucks already took out enough fabric out of the neck opening

Floral Floaty Banksia

The fabric is a viscose from my favourite clothing store, Alannah Hill who make fabulous (but expensive) pretty, girly clothes, but also have a clearance store in Melbourne that sell the fabrics.  Whenever I am in Melbourne I make sure I go there.  This fabric is from last year's haul purchases.

Floral Floaty Banksia

I love getting good value out of a pattern - sort of makes up for the duds doesn't it?

PS - the offer is still there if anyone wants V1247 - free going to a good home?? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Very Vexing Vogue 1247

Things are not always rosy in BusyLizzie-land. Do you ever have an idea in your head and it looks really good, but in reality it is just rubbish. This make is a big, big FAIL!!

Vogue 1247

I have always admired the lovely pattern detail on the top of Vogue 1247, I love the seam detailing on the front and thought it would be an interesting make as well as I thought it would be a nice comfy weekend top with jeans. Well, I was right on one count, it was interesting to make but I think it is the most unflattering thing I have made in ages!! The top is all constructed with french seams and it has a six pattern pieces to the front with diagonal seaming detail as well as shoulder pleating.

Vogue 1247

I think my biggest problem with it is how boxy it is. It is supposed to fall from my shoulders, but I think because my shoulders are narrower than the rest of my body, the concept of the design really didn't work. It just kinda looks blergh :( 
Vogue 1247

No, I am not fishing for compliments and comments of how it looks fine - I know it looks bad, but thought it was important to share with you the fails as well as the good.

Vogue 1247

I think it looks ok from the back, but really can't walk everywhere backwards to avoid a front view.

Oh well, live and learn. Onto the next project. Anyone want a copy of Vogue 1247 cut out to a size 14? Seriously, never going to make this again, NEVER.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Frocktails and a new Elisalex

Recently the Aussie blogosphere has been all atwitter with excitement at the idea of Frocktails.  The basic premise - make a dress, wear it and turn up for a night of dinner and cocktails - brilliant!  The lovely Kat of All the Whimsical Things tirelessly organised the event to be held at a local Melbourne restaurant and 28 sewists turned out in self-made dresses and it was fabulous!!

with Amanda of Bimble & Pimble

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as intended, I guess I was talking too much - so jump across to Mel's blog for more pics and to see everyone's wonderful dresses.


Needless to say, a new dress was required for the occasion. I settled on another version of the Elisalex, I love my previous version but of course I have already worn that - I needed something new!

Frocktail Elisalex

As I had made it before construction wise I didn't change too much although I did cut a much smaller size in the shoulders, this time was a 6 and grading to a 10 for the rest of the bodice.  I raised the shoulders about 1cm and took a 1" wedge out of the upper back which resulted in a near perfect fit.

Frocktail Elisalex

But my pièce de résistance is the pockets - not only have I put some in, I had an idea (brilliant if I say so myself) of putting an invisible zipper on one so that I could put my cards & cash in for going out.  No more carrying a handbag or worrying where it is when I have had too many cocktails. Genius I say!!  (yep modest much?)

Frocktail Elisalex Frocktail Elisalex
Can you see the zip?? Me neither!!

Whilst I was in Melbourne I also did rather a lot of fabric shopping so I may have to consider a self-imposed ban whilst I do a bit of catch up! Ok, considered and I don't want to be rash, what if something else comes along? ;)


Look out for next year's meetup in Sydney!!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Swooshy Swishy Goodness Dress

Swooshy dress

It's another Butterick Repro B5748, this time true to the pattern unlike my previous version. I love this dress - it's so swooshy and fun to wear.  I wore it to work today and spent all day twirling and swooshing the super full circle skirt.

Swooshy dress

The only change I made to this pattern was to do an FBA and to raise the shoulders. Interestingly I had my lovely friend Marjorie assist me with the hemming and in the process she marked the shoulders and I learnt that my shoulders sit at quite different levels. My right one is nearly 1cm higher than the left! It's due to an old injury that I knew had left over effects, but that was one I wasn't aware of!

Normally I am fine hemming skirts by myself, but this dress was different. The circle skirt requires the dress to be hung and left to drop for a couple of days.  The result?  The hem looked like I was drunk when I cut it! Check out my instagram pic here. It was crazy wonky, up and down, not a little bit, but inches of difference. I blame the fabric.

Marjorie has this wonderful old tool, from maybe the 80s that puffs chalk at the prescribed level as I just stood there and spun around!! A marvellous gadget!! Then all we had to do was cut and sew - genius!

Swooshy dress
I stopped twirling for a minute ;)

I finished the skirt with my first proper rolled hem, I tried photographing it, but due to the dark fabric the pics were rubbish, you'll just have to take my word for it that its pretty good, I am pretty proud of the effort I put into it.

The fabric is a mystery super flowy drapy blend bought at Walthamstow earlier in the year. When I bought it I thought it was black, but in some lights it seems like a super dark navy. Either way, I don't care, and I am treating it as black!

Swooshy dress

The fabric was hideous to sew, it moved so much and was too floppy. In retrospect I would have used a pattern with a less fitted bodice, but c'est la vie, it is not awful and the circle skirt really works with the drape, and besides I can twirl!  Who can complain at that!?!

No more Winter sewing for me - Summer is well and truly on the way here - already it has been 25-28 degrees most day - if this is Spring, I think Summer may be hideous. I foresee many more summery dresses in my future...Cambie, perhaps a Saltspring, definitely a Belledone, who knows what else?

What are you all working on for the new season?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Dotty Spotty Josephine

My wardrobe is pretty short on casual tops, and I thought the Sloppy Josephine from Papercut Patterns looked really promising. Described as a "perfect tee for slouching around in, or for tucking in to your high waisted jeans or skirts for a feminine look". I don't own any high-waisted jeans but I am the queen of slouching around!!

If you haven't checked out Papercut Patterns already, do it!  The patterns come in the cutest packaging...their own cardboard box...with a hanger, how cool is that?  The pattern pieces are on sturdy brown recycled paper, and the instructions come in a booklet!

Going Dotty Josephine

I cut the medium and whilst I really like the fit and it is super comfortable for slouching around in, I feel the neck is too wide. It keeps falling off my shoulders and needs a tank underneath, unless you are happy showing off your bra straps 80s style of course!  When I make this again (and I will) I will take a couple of inches out of the centre front & back, tapering out to the bottom as the next sizes down won't bring it in enough.

Aside from this, this top sewed up super fast, from cutting to finishing was about an hour and a half max including some distractions from Twitter!  I sewed all the seams on my overlocker and finished the hem with a twin needle.

Going Dotty Josephine

I made a couple of minor adjustments:

  • I didn't bind the neckline as suggested, instead I cut a strip of fabric 2" wide and a couple of inches shorter than the neckline and stretched it on
  • As I am pretty short, I took about 3" off the length

Going Dotty Josephine

This is a good basic tee pattern that is easy to make up. It's very comfy and I already wear it a lot. With a narrower neckline, I feel this will be my new go to tee for spring!

Fabric - 1m Cotton knit from Mood

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Completed: Polka Dot B5748

My lovely hubby and I spent last weekend up in Noosa (an hour and a half drive up the coast from where we live) - what a perfect opportunity to give my new dress an outing and give you lovely readers a change from my usual backdrops!

Technically it is still winter here, but seriously look at this weather, it was just fabulous, we are so spoilt. It was a gorgeous 25ºC - perfection!


This is a new pattern to me, Butterick 5478, a vintage repro pattern with great back neckline detail. Whilst I love the end result, it definitely is not perfect, nevertheless I don't care and know this will get stacks of wear!


The fabric is a polka dot cotton bought ages that I had stashed for the perfect pattern and I think this might be it!

I made quite a few modifications to get the fit and one to rescue a fit issue that I couldn't be bothered fussing with!  First the rescue - I was having some issues getting the waist darts to sit properly due to the FBA, they just looked silly and wouldn't sit flat. I then just cut the bottom off the bodice and replaced it with a band that I piped with white satin piping bought some time ago.  Then I ran into another drama, I cut the waistband and piping a touch too small and the waist didn't fit, so I cast it aside for about four months. No idea how I did that, guess I was having a blonde moment and measured wrong, or perhaps I cut what I wanted to be instead of what I am ;)

"Move your arms, do something interesting" says hubby/director/photographer

I pulled it out again recently as I have lost a little weight and yay it fitted!  So I finished it off with an invisible zipper and a pleated dirndl skirt.

My pattern alterations:
- shortened bodice by 1"
- added waistband
- dirndl skirt instead of circle (didn't have enough fabric)

As always, I still think I could do a lot more to improve the fit for next time, but I am not sure that anyone apart from sewers and me would even notice.  We really are own worst critics aren't we? Aside from the imperfections, I love, love, LOVE this dress!! I think this with a bit of tweaking, this  my next TNT pattern!  Oh and next time, it really needs pockets.

A bit of self indulgence :)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Snuggly Sweater

My original plan for this top was just going to be a comfortable and warm hoodie, but it kind of evolved as I was making it.  I started by cutting around an old favourite hoodie that I have just about worn to death. It is tired, pilled, faded but oh, so comfy. The shape started as just a normal sweatshirt, however on trying it on, it just looked blah.  Plus I didn't have any ribbing or enough fabric for the hood, so really my plan was doomed from the start.

Faux Briar

Firstly, I cut the neck wider and deeper and finished the cuffs.  But the length was still meh and felt really unflattering.  Having seen so many of the Megan Nielsen Briars online I thought I would try a similar hemline to see how it looked. Normally I do not like a high-low hem at all, so I am not sure kind of madness made me cut into my fabric without thinking! However, I love my new snuggly sweater!!

Since finishing it I have been wearing it to death.  I really like it over the top of my Tiramisu dress but it also works over a long top with jeans.

Faux Briar
The colour is a light aubergine, not one I would normally wear, but it feels really appropriate for winter. I only seem to wear it with black but that is the majoirty of my winter wardrobe anyway. What other colours would this go with do you think?

Faux Briar
Sorry for the frowning, our sun is super bright!

Construction-wise there is nothing fancy, I sewed all the pieces together with my overlocker only, and then finished the hems and neck by simply turning them under once and finishing with a twin-needle. It came together in about an hour even with all the hacking!

Have you ever started something and then just hacked it to get a result quite different from the original?

Pattern: Self-drafted
Fabric:  NZ Merino -1.25m x 150cm wide 

Friday, 2 August 2013

How to: Flower Fascinator

A few of my lovely followers asked how I made my fascinator.  I did take a few pics as I was making it, so will try to share the construction with you here.

I started with a standard headband that I bought at the supermarket. I was lucky that my chosen headband was already fabric covered, but if you are not as lucky, I imagine you could either make a fabric tube to cover it in, or could used a hot glue gun to attach the embellishment.

Next up is to cut and form the petals.  Cut eight of each size, I used two different sizes, the shape of which you can see above. You should have a total of 16 pieces of fabric, 8 in one size, 8 in another. The base of each petal is around 9cm (3") once sewn together. Pair the pieces together with right sides facing and sew around leaving the base open for turning. Pink or trim close to the seam as you want to end up with nice smooth curves. Turn right side out and press.
Now it is time to pleat the petals. These are created as box pleats. Box pleats are formed when two equal folds of fabric are folded away from each other in opposite directions along the length of fabric. I tacked them down with a long stitch on the machine, the long stitch is in case I want to alter them later, it make the stitches easy to remove.
Each of the pairs of petals is then sewn together in the centre. The bottom pair I sewed the other way around so all the raw seams are hidden within the flower. Not sure I am explained this well, but the picture above should show how the pairs of petals go together. Press the pairs of petals open to reduce the bulk and stack pairs of petals of top of one another, offsetting them to give the flower effect. Hmm...again not any pictures of the process for this, but the result is above. Basically you should have two pairs of each size of petal. Each of these is laid in the opposite direction from the one previous.
Hand sew through all layers in the centre. This is kind of tricky as there are a few layers so make sure your needle isn't too short. I then attached pearl buttons that I had in the centre to disguise the seam, but you could use one larger button or a broach.
I then hand-stitched the piece to my headband, but of course you could use a hot glue gun.
Made fascinator for race day!
Go forth and enjoy your special event! Let me know if you make one, I would love to see.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Completed: Elisalex Dress

Today I had a work function to attend, at the races!  When I heard about it my first thought was that of course I would need a new dress.  It is winter here at the moment...OK, not winter by you Northern America or Europe folks standards, but winter nonetheless.  Yep, I know it doesn't get below 8º Celsius (46ºF) at night and during the day is mostly around 20 degrees (68ºF), but we are conditioned to be soft and this is cold for me!! 

When deciding which dress pattern to make my first thought was the Elisalex by By Hand London as it has a sleeve option - winner!!  I have seen so many lovely options around the blogosphere, have you seen Dolly Clackett's versions here and here or Ooobop's version?


This is my first time making this up, although I had made a rough muslin a few weeks ago.  My muslin was quite dodgy obviously as I ended up having to do quite a few alterations to this make.  I cut a size 12 and didn't do an FBA as I thought with the princess seams I would have plenty of room for adjustment.  This worked a treat, my issues were elsewhere and I will detail those soon.

Excuse the wrinkles, I have worn this all day!

Aside from the alterations that really only come down to my body shape, this pattern comes together easily and beginners should not be afraid to try it as there is plenty of options to alter the fit and princess seams to me are very forgiving for this.

My alterations:
- additional 2" off the back centre seam (1" each side?
- narrowing shoulder seam by approx. 1"
- shortening bodice by 1"
- bringing in side seams by .25"
- narrowed sleeves by approx 1"
- shortened the skirt by 8" - yep 8", this dress is made for tall people!!
- inserted an invisible zip instead of an exposed one


Due to these changes the sleeves no longer fitted in the armhole, but instead of redrafting the curve I decided to pleat them at the top with a box pleat that you can just see in the pic above.

I also changed the construction method a bit, instead of hand stitching the lining at the sleeves, I caught it in when attaching the sleeves. I realize I never photograph the insides to show you, so here is how I finish my garments.  Most of the time I just overlock my seams, no fancy bound seams for me!


One other addition I made was to add bra strap stays. As the shoulders are quite wide (perhaps more so on me, I have narrow shoulders?) when trying it on my straps kept peeking out - I hate that, so this afterthought, whilst not super attractive is certainly functional.  For future makes (and there will be more) I will do this again, but will catch the strap in when attaching the lining so it is more tidy.


Initially I was not sure how this silhouette would look on me, I thought the tulip skirt might make me look hippy, but now it is finished I love it. I think the contrast of the fitted top and the tulip skirt really makes the waist look smaller.  I got so many compliments today and people were asking where my dress was from. There were 80 people at the function and three people were wearing the same dress so at least I was safe from that happening!

Did you notice I made a matching fascinator?  I was also nominated for one of the best hats of the day!


As for how I went at the races...I didn't win anything - I am terrible at picking horses.  I am, however, good at the eating and drinking bit and chose to excel in these areas - especially the bubbly!!