Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Oh yes, yes I am. I am claiming this as a finished sewn project.

I know, I know. Whaaaaaaaat???? I know you guys are sitting there thinking Seriously Jillian? This is all you got? You are so letting down the rest of us out there working our fingers to the bone to present meaty, gorgeously complicated projects. 

But seriously, it is kind of cool. A bespoke belt! I am not an accessory girl and I have had the same one belt for literally 20 odd years. It was looking a little tired. I needed a new one, and I wanted it to fit me. So I got on the leatherwork bandwagon and there you have it.
I purchased the leather already dyed and cut to this width. All I needed to do was attach a fastener/buckle, cut the belt to my desired length and punch a hole to fasten the finished product.

I used a waxed linen thread to hand sew the buckle on. Hand sewing through leather this heavy was HARD. Ouch on the hands - I resorted to using pliers to pull the needles through.

But the best part???

Check it. One hole. That my friends, was a leap of hope. Would I get it right? Yes I did.

A belt just for me, just for wearing with my low slung jeans.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


We take a break in the production of my autumnal Roxanne to bring you.... Ta-da! Disco Peppa Pig!!!!

M's BFF's birthday party kind of crept up on me and I realised very late in the piece the directive to come dressed as your favourite character. I must admit that M wanted to go as some kind of over-the-top sparkly fairy, but seriously, there wasn't time. I was able to negotiate Peppa Pig, who M is completely obsessed with (along with every other child under the age of 5), but on the provisio that she "sparkle".

And so Disco Peppa Pig was born.

Compare the Pair
Peppa Pig image source

Not bad, huh?

Now you know that attention to detail is the disease of the modern sewist when you strongly consider Frenching the seams on your child's dress up costume. I did manage to fight the urge, but I have to admit to fully lining the dress with bemsilk. I defend that move however as the outer fabric, a very sequinny stretch dance fabric, was in fact a little transparent. Peppa has her modesty you know.

I also whipped up some ears and a snout!

The ears are a little more bovine than the Peppa of cartoon fame, and are glued to a pink headband and then hand-stitched (no less) around the edges. The snout was easy to make, but was not a complete success - it kind of smooshed up when worn with the elastic band over the head and M was more inclined to tote it like a handbag. That's my girl.

All in all a complete success. Oh and the fairy outfit has been promised for M's birthday party in a few weeks. Don't tell anyone, but it may be a bought one this time...

Monday, 7 April 2014

WIPS and Wine

Oh wow, it has been a while. These last few weeks have been shite challenging to say the least. Let's  be honest, there has been no really serious handcrafting going on here.

Between man flu laying the husband low, then me, then my 3 year old having to undergo a baby tooth "root canal" (please, can we not debate whether or not baby teeth have roots?), then me falling prey to what the doc has called a repeated viral attack (sounds gnarly right? IT WAS!), Casa Sew Jillian has been a pretty miserable old place.

But hooray we appear to be out the other end!

And this weekend was pretty special. P and I enjoyed our first night away alone in nearly 4 years! That's insane! The 4 years bit I mean.

And said weekend involved copious amounts of wonderful elixir of the Gods, Hunter Valley style. Oh Hunter Valley, how I've missed you, it has been a while.

We didn't know ourselves! What to do, where to start? Do I take a bath, knit for hours, visit every winery possible, watch TV uninterrupted, swing from the chandeliers (too much info?)... or gasp... sleep in? Oh the joy.

We might love our little M to bits, but good lord it was nice to have just over 24 hours to focus solely on the wonderful man I married. I kind of forgot what it's like to have an uninterrupted conversation and to snuggle without a wiggly near four year old wanting to get into the middle of the action. Bliss.

And I do have a WIP - that there up top is my current sweater progress.

Isn't she gorgeous? Lousia Harding's Fazie sweater. I do love this piece even though the yarn is doing my head in. But now that I am not sicker than the proverbial dog I have stopped making so many errors I had to rip back the lace cuff band not once or twice but four times! So progress is in fact forward.

I also have a little leatherwork of my own awaiting finishing touches. It's a bit laughable to call it a true project but I'll share anyway. Stay posted.

And I am just about to start on Victory Pattern's Roxanne. Not the summer version I had originally planned 'cause let's face it, Autumn is truly here. No it'll be a cool weather appropriate Version 1 in an awesome chiffon I picked up recently.

So lovely people, as long as the fates stay on my side and off the side of sickness, I'll see again you soon!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Oh how tempting it is to claim this as my own, quite fabulous work. Wanna know the truth?? My ridiculous husband made it! My ridiculously clever husband, P!

This my friends is a very retro tool saddle bag to go with the fabulous Brooks saddle I gifted to P for Valentine's Day 2013.

Can we be perfectly clear here?

I really think this is quite an amazing feat. P has never attempted leatherwork or sewing before. He conceived of the idea, created the design from scratch (including drafting the pattern), sourced the leather and hardware, dyed and finished the leather himself, and then sewed it completely by hand. The man's talents are limitless.

He knew exactly what he needed to get in there and carefully made a paper version to pre-test it all. Above are the leather pieces cut and awaiting staining.

I suggested he extend the side pieces so that they flipped inside to keep rain/road dirt out. I can claim that little nugget at least.

He used a special little tool to create the holes for hand sewing, then painstakingly stitched for a few hours over 2 evenings. It's really tough on the hands!

He even reinforced the seam ends!

And thought carefully about the stitch pattern on the reverse of the buckle loops.

He decided to keep the back simple and clean and cut slits to thread the fastening straps through.

I'm thinking with a few mods this could make the basis for a really cool handbag.

So folks that's about it. Thanks for letting P highjack the blog for a bit, but I think you'll agree that this project needed to be flaunted shared.

He has quite a bit of leather left and is in the process of designing an attache/laptop/iPad bag thingy. I seriously have to up my game.
P, I totally know why I married you. Handsome, funny, smart and creative to name a few. They're pretty awesome traits to claim.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Finally... finally!

My big SBA project started what feels like months ago. Wait! It was months ago!

And here she is... my Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank, in a nautical, geo floral cotton voile. Without the tiny pocket, because tiny pockets aren't really my thang.

First SBA finally out of the way and what an epic journey.

I finally got down to starting the Craftsy Adjust the Bust course late last year. It all made relative sense, but there were a few oddities, peculiarities, departures from the popular opinion. And an annoyingly long delay in having questions answered (hence the Little Top that FINALLY Could).

There are regularly occurring discussions all over blogland about choosing a pattern size to make  alterations as painfree as possible and I know that the trend for bodice sizing is often towards picking the pattern size with a bust measurement the same as your high bust measurement.

Theory? The shoulders/armhole/neck/upper chest areas can be difficult to fit and so it's easier to pick a size that is likely to fit there and then make bust adjustments accordingly. Hmmmm. Seems to make good sense.

Well this course does not buy into that theory. Not that I could figure anyway. You are instructed to pick a size with a bust measurement that equals your high bust meaurement, plus 2 inches! For me, that means 33" + 2" = 35" (corresponds to the Size 6, and I cut a straight size 6). I've never done that in my life - I've always chosen based on my full bust measurement (34"), but clearly I wouldn't have chosen to undertake this course if I didn't have fit issues with that particular method.

So here goes - whilst not spelt out I am guessing the theory is that generally*, at least Big 4, patterns are drafted for a B cup, where the full bust is 2" larger than the underbust/high bust. I guess the size selection premise is that even though you do not possess a B cup this does not mean your shoulder/arm/upper chest/neck proportions are different to someone with a B cup.

So all you have to do if you pick this size is adjust the actual "cup" area up or down, depending on how generous the universe was feeling when handing out boobs (not very in my case) and the rest of the related proportions will all be good.

I quite like the logic in that. Just because I have small boobs does not mean that my shoulders or back are narrower than someone with a decent set. I just can't fill out the boob repositories. If I chose based on my full or upper bust alone, I may end up with a too tight back/shoulder/armscye/neck hole.

So, since the pattern size is one inch bigger than my actual full bust measurement, the SBA process involves removing 1 inch from the bust. But be warned! The actual process removes an inch from the entire front bodice piece, from the bust point down to the hem. If you do not want to lose width from the waistline and hips, this may become a problem. My waist is teeny, so that didn't become a problem and since the top is swingy the hips did not become problematic either. I wonder, though, how it would go with other, more fitted, bodices. I guess you'd simply grade between sizes.

What I was concerned about and asked of the course instructor, is that if the entire extra, un-needed inch is removed from the front bodice only won't this effect the side seams? My unaltered back piece looked huge against my altered front piece and I was concerned this would cause the side seams to be "pulled" to the front. Instructor's (eventual!) response: "should be fine if you chose the right size based on my directions".

I say "phooey" to that! I definitely think my side seams sit more to the front now and from side on the top swings well out to the front. There were a few photos I took that I didn't include because I looked pregnant from the side!

Bit "maternity"?
But you know what? The bust fits! I'm not sure if it's all totally working as I notice drape lines from the bust point down to the side hip in these photos. Is that normal? Also I moved my bust points slightly too far in and the dart points are right on top of the apex of my boobs, instead of 0.5-1" back. Will fix.

What I really noticed, though, is how well the high bust fits! I have seen many Tiny Pocket Tank makers lament the weird horizontal pull lines above the bust to the armscye area. Go on, Google it, you'll see! I did not get any of these and the armhole is very comfortable without any pulling. So maybe the size selection thing made a positive difference to the fit here. I'd have normally picked the size down and that may have resulted in those weird pulls from being too small.

However, as you can see from side on there is a bit of "gaping" around the front armhole that reveals my bra strap. I found the armscye shape really weird in this pattern and will simply redraft it. Listen to me! Redraft! I'd never have attempted redrafting a year ago.

I raised the neckline by almost 2 inches!! This neckline is cut seriously low which may work if you have boobs or a lovely high bust, but my high bust is bony and does not do low cut well. I'm glad I raised it and I might even raise it a little more for future makes. I also think the hem length may be slightly unflattering on me as it hits at my widest point, so I'll play with that a bit.

Because, yes, even though it was an arduous make (mainly because it took weeks, yes weeks, to get my questions answered), I do quite like the breezy, swingy loveliness of this top. It suits my aesthetic well, and I'd be happy to work on it to create the illusive tank/top TNT. And you know what? I wore it for the whole day on photo day and realised I never once yanked, tweaked, or otherwise fidgeted with this top all day long. Win!

*It is best to check the cup size an individual pattern company drafts for as there are variations. For example, Colette Patterns, whose dress/top patterns will never be purchased by me as they draft for a C cup. That's way too much adjusting in my book.