Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 5 of 2013: Reflections and Plans


Yesterday saw my Hits and Misses and today we are onto Reflections and my own little variation "Plans".


This year saw some big changes for me - picking up sticks (the knitting kind), renaming and re-styling my blog, and finding my obsession joy in crafting again. Here is what I learnt this year.

1. Rowing my own boat:

I have never really jumped on bandwagons. I have worked to try to remain true to my style (for momentary lapses of reason see my Misses) and in a way simply row my own boat. I feel like it'd be really easy to jump on every new pattern release, be it Big 4 or indie, and just go a bit cray cray. But truly, I have not seen any this year that are truly my style or that I didn't already have a similar version of. I have adored following other fantastic bloggers and their interpretations of these, but still they are for the most part, just not me.

2014 will see me keep on with trying to stick with my style (don't ask me to name it), and if the right pattern comes up, purchase I will.

2. I'm a 70's kind of girl

I am constantly drawn to the 70's silhouette, especially dresses and skirts of the a-line variety with clean, long, lean lines. They simply suit my body type. And I am OK with that. I love expanding my ridiculously growing stash of pre-loved 70's patterns and have been so fortunate to be thought of when Mums and Grandmothers are clearing out. Anyone wanting to offload unloved 70's patterns? I'm your girl.

On this note: Jillian, you are not so suited to the sometimes billowy, flouncy, ruffled 70's monstrosities. DO. NOT. GO. THERE!

3. Fitting? Meh, not so much

I am destined to sew sacks/garments with minimal tailoring. I truly am the worst kind of student. My motivation wanes at the first hint of effort. I do want to learn tailoring and fitting techniques, but I just gotta find the time. I really don't have oodles of spare time to devote to my crafts as it is and then taking additional time to learn stuff seems like an investment I can't afford... yet I know I will create get better garments as a result.

Right, Jillian, it's time to finish, and apply, that dastardly Adjust the Bust course.


I really, really do. I have busy hands and I find myself drawn more and more to the gentle art of knitting to satisfy my restless hands syndrome. It really does fit my sensibilities and my tagline summer sewing and winter knitting simply feels like a good fit (see what I did there? Fit? Never mind). I find winter sewing to be of the too challenging persuasion (see 3 above) and this results in radio silence for my blog and frustration for this here crafter. I've found my niche.

5. Planning... hmmm

Planning and lists and promises all seem like a good idea at the time, but leave me with a sense of guilt and anxiety as I get tempted in other unplanned directions. I love reading others plans and so thought perhaps it was time to make my own. But truly friends, I prefer a more organic approach. I plan on no or little planning in the future.


1. No Plans

I plan to give myself a break and make few plans. This does not mean crafting will grind to a directionless halt, in fact it will free me to just get on with whatever takes my heart's fancy. And that feels good.

I do already have yarn and patterns for my next winter knitting projects! I've never wished summer away in my life, but yeeha, bring on knitting weather!

In the meantime, I plan on lots more gorgeous sewing projects.

And to finish up, here's to a brilliant New Year, full of happiness, peace and love for you all. Oh and the deliciousness of new projects and the freedom to create... that'll do me. How about you?

I'm off to do a bit more of this...
...before real life (otherwise known as back to work) sets in.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Top 5 of 2013: Hits and Misses

I've decided to join the hoards (hosted by Gillian) and take a moment to reflect on the year of stitching and knitting that was...
This year has been a real revelation for me in regards to crafting and blogging. I started the year rather shakily, and I wondered if my crafting and blogging mojo would ever return. But return it did and in the most surprising way. It started with Amanda of Bimble and Pimble blogging about her first forays into knitting and her post of her version of Andi Satterlund's Mathilde Hat. Quite simply, I found the inspiration I needed to re-establish my mojo in a new direction (knitting) and find my place again creatively. I might have worked considerably on myself as well, but that's a whole other story that don't need telling.

This all culminated in a new love for knitting and an all shiny and new, re-named re-vamped blog! Yay me!

So without further ado, here are my hits and misses all in one post (Reflections and Plans to come tomorrow).

Top 5 Hits of 2013:

In no particular order...

1. "Two Fruits" Dress:

I simply love this dress. It's the best fit I've ever achieved! I love the style, the fabric, the buttons. It's just all good.

I feel a million bucks when I wear it, but, and this is gonna seem weird based on the above... I rarely wear this! I think it's partly to do with Gabrielle's recent observation that the things she truly adores get worn less. This resonates with me! I think it's a morbid fear of ruining it. But it's still a big win for me!

2. Gingham Negroni:

Ok, this one was a HUGE achievement for me and adored by P. This was a me-made birthday gift for my handsome hubby. It was the first item of mens clothing I'd ever made, and P decided to subject me to gingham. Pattern matching anyone? I am so very proud of this one and it gets worn lots.

3. Cape Cod Sweater:

Sigh... Swoon... I made this. 'Nuff said.

4. Scalloped Lace Hat:

I finally made myself a hat that suits me! It's soft and squishy and just all round delicious.

5. Fave Top:

Ahhh September was a good month for me! I wear this top to death. Unfortunately it hasn't stood up to the wear very well. It was made from a somewhat delicate rayon elastine, and now there are some tiny holes along and near the shoulder seams. I am actually petrified it's being eaten by moths, but we certainly can't find any hiding in our drawers.

And then onto the...
Top Misses of 2013:

Notice I didn't use the title "Top 5 Misses of 2013"? I truly didn't have 5, so here are three. Might I add that this is probably because I don't sew terribly prolifically and hence when I do I am incredibly careful (and often lucky) with my choices...

1. Tiny Town Shirt:

Sob... sigh... just "no". Ruffles, blousey, puffy sleeves. I cannot be convinced that this was not a complete abomination of a shirt and a heartbreaking use of fabric I adore and had hoarded for ages. Next.

2. Mathilde Hat:

Whilst knitting this hat ignited my passion for knitting, it is just dreadful on me. Wrong colour, wrong yarn, and absolutely wrong style. My brother said it was very "Rasta" and with my curly hair I felt decidedly like "Dickie Knee" (a character from an iconic Aussie TV show, "Hey, Hey it's Saturday").

3. "Feeling Fruity" Dress:

Yeah, yeah, I know it kinda looks pretty. Dudes, it fits really poorly. So poorly it prompted me to enroll in Craftsy's Adjust the Bust course. Which I am, ahem, yet to apply. Oops. I do wear this, so it's not a complete fail - I just am not very proud of it (fit wise) and it billows in the bodice and grabs a bit in the waist after eating a decent sized meal. Not cool.

So there we have it folks. I actually really enjoyed this process, even though I didn't initially intend to join in. I'm pleased that there are only a few misses and some really fabulous (in my mind!) hits.

Tomorrow I am going to sneak in just in time with my Reflections and Plans.

Till then...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

And A Very Merry Christmas To All

From my family to yours, may your Christmas be full of love, laughter and the preciousness of family and friends. May you all find peace and the meaning of Christmas in your own way.

Blogging has been a revelation this year and I wanted to thank you all for your supportive comments and feedback.

In the spirit of the festive season I'll be taking a few days off to immerse myself in family time. See you on the flipside!

Friday, 13 December 2013


I think this will go down in history as my "fruit period". I never thought I had a thing for fruit fabrics until I had made both this and my "Feeling Fruity" dress. And in fact, this one came first, made exactly a year ago. A year! I was very remiss in blogging this, one of my most favourite makes.

This is my version of vintage Simplicity 6926, View 2 (dated 1977).

I thought I'd give that ruffle a bit of a miss. I love using vintage patterns, but try to avoid the cliches. I prefer to look for the modern in the classic or stereotypical patterns.

I adore this dress. It's so comfortable to wear and was a dream to make up. It's probably the closest I've ever gotten to a perfect fit.

I was sure the back button closure would become less crisp with repeated wearing, but it's still perfect.

And I am always a sucker for pockets, even if I don't really use them!

Made up in a cotton poplin vintage style print from Spotlight. This is one of those happy sewing moments where a fabric you have lusted after obsessed over quite taken a liking to suddenly appears on the clearance table. Yippee me!

Pattern changes/alterations:
  • Took in the bodice at the side seams starting with about one inch at the top and grading to zero at the waist. Somehow the bust fit is perfect, without an SBA!
  • Set my straps in independently of the pattern. I simply ignored the markings and inserted them according to the bra I knew I'd be wearing and the way it sat on my body.
Lessons learned:
  • Check the bodice for fit before attaching and understitching the facings. You do realise you'll have to undo the lot when you finally deign to fit it and realise it does in fact need altering, you goose.
  • Other than that, I love you Two Fruits!
Everytime I wear it it makes me want to do this...

Happy days...

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Clearly the crisis has been averted! Dropped stitches were saved and knitting continued.

Meh... That's how I feel about this knit...

Knitting is one of those things. It takes so damn long compared to sewing. 

So... Damn... Long...

And I love the process immensely, most of the time. But it's a lot harder to accept "Meh" at the end of a project that takes the best part of a month. In sewing, most of my projects are done in a week or less. In those cases, I strike "meh"s up to experience. Getting something knit in an acceptable timeframe takes all my energy and spare time. There ain't no second project on the go, it takes all of me.

I like it alright. It's not spectacular and I knew that about it when I started. It's a basic knit tee. I just feel like I probably could have bought something similar and saved my time and energy for something with more vavavoom. It will certainly be worn, I'm just not that excited about it.

Pattern: Work + Shelter Lace Striped Tee (Ravelry link). Knit in Rico Design Essentials 365 Aran (60% cotton, 40% acrylic). I really like the yarn. It feels wonderfully cottony and soft, but I think it's gonna grow like crazy with wear, just like a pure cotton yarn. I knit the smallest size, a 36 bust.

  • I knit an additional lace and stockinette stripe in the body for length, as the original sweater is quite cropped. In the end, it's slightly longer than I'd have preferred. But I like the proportions when I look at these photos, so that's a result!
  • I changed the neckline as I'd seen a few others do. I started the neck rib when I had 16 stitches left on each sleeve instead of 12 and only knit 6 rounds (about 1 inch) instead of the pattern's 2 inches. I adore the wider boatneck as a result. I am not much of a one for high necklines, especially on summer pieces.
Lessons Learned:
  • I think I do prefer knitting top down in the round rather than bottom up like this one. I like being able to physically try it on as I go. That means better capacity to check the fit as you go, especially length.
  • Jillian, don't persist in knitting when starting a new medication that makes you feel like you've been hit by a semi-trailer truck. It will end in tears, frustration and error after error.

I promise this will be the last green yarn for a while! In fact I am back to summer sewing after this. I have such a backlog of projects that were waiting on this being finished. I really do have to try to stick to my tagline of winter knitting and summer sewing.

Friday, 6 December 2013

We must, we must, we must adjust the bust!

You might remember I made some Sewing Promises at the beginning of Spring (Southern Hemisphere). One of those was to learn how to perform a bust adjustment - in my case a small bust adjustment (SBA). Yes, I've admitted it out loud: I have a teeny, tiny bust. Some would say non-existent and gotten worse post-breastfeeding. Ughhhh.

It is time to learn to Adjust the Bust!!

I decided to start with Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank (sans pocket, 'cause that's how I roll).

Do not adjust your screens, this print does warp your vision
I got this great nautical cotton voile in an interesting geometric print that I only realised was flowers when I pre-washed and hung out the fabric. Check it...
I got super lucky and found this on the clearance table for $4.20 p/m. Steel! Cheap as it was I really like it, so I'd like to get the fit of this tank right. I have a habit of obsessively checking out other people's versions when I choose a new pattern to make up. I like to know if there are any consistent fitting issues. 

The one thing that stood out over and over with this one is the potentially poor fit of the upper/high bust and armscye. The versions I found lamented the strange pull lines above the bust and the crowding of the armpit. There is not much fitting to this tank, it's loosely fitted with a bust dart. Seemed like a nice place to start looking to adjust.

So here's where it gets interesting. I've only completed Lesson 1 of the Craftsy Adjust the Bust course, so I've a ways to go 'til I really know what the hell I'm talking about. I've heard in the past though that it's best to choose a pattern size where the bust measurement corresponds to your high bust measurement: it is harder to fit shoulders, upper bust, arms and neck so this is a good way to get that right and then adjust the bust to fit (if needed). The lovely Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch recently blogged about this. The lovely Kathleen Cheetham, presenter of Adjust the Bust, however, suggests picking a pattern size based on a bust measurement of 2 inches larger than your high bust.

Sounds funky, right? Well it does to me when my full bust is only one inch larger than my high bust (I told you, small bust!). This just makes me feel like the thing is gonna be hanging off me around the shoulders and upper chest! I am super keen to continue on with the course to find out what the hell she is thinking!

But it's interesting because I wonder, if her formula had been used, would so many people have had those weird upper chest/armscye fitting issues? Would having a bit more ease according to Kathleen's sizing choice have sorted that?

So what about you, how do you all choose your pattern size for a top? Full bust? High bust? Some other funky algebraically generated formula? Please do share...

P.S. I know you're all waiting with baited breath. Yes, I did fix that crisis with my knitted lace stripe tee. In fact, she's finished! Blog post coming soon...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Vintage McCall's 9507, View A (sort of), dated 1968.

AKA Jillian makes another Pirate shirt.

Oh alright, it's not quite that bad, but it's not my most favourite make either. 

It does have poofy sleeves, ridiculously wide cuffs and ruffled neckline. It's pretty damning evidence of a pirate shirt.

I do worry it makes me look like a Pierrot-inspired pirate clown.

I sewed a straight Size 12 with no modifications to the sizing. I did, however, eliminate the ruffled patch pockets (they were absolutely huge!) and the ruffle at cuff. I mean really people, there is only so much ruffle one person can wear!

These are some seriously wide cuffs! I decided to add some interest by using cream thread for the buttonholes and navy/royal blue for the button thread. I like that it picks up the blue in the print, which you almost miss.

The best part about this shirt is without doubt the gorgeous fabric. It's a 100% cotton Japanese lawn that had been sitting patiently in my stash awaiting the perfect shirt. This wasn't it though...

And the print! Teeny, tiny little houses. What's not to love about that?
Meh, you win some. you lose some...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Unravelled indeed!

And this, my lovelies, is my unravelling. Bugger.

AKA I have totally dropped and unravelled some stitches!


Can I please confess to just dumping my knitting when this happened a few days ago? I simply went into a blind panic. Somehow I haven't dropped a stitch before. But in my panic I actually dropped the stitch/stitches over a few rows. I know repairing it has something to do with crochet hooks and the like, but can someone point me in the direction of a good tutorial? I'd be eternally grateful!

P.S. Yes, it's starting to look like I only knit with green yarn, but I swear it's not the case. I'm just a bit obsessed with green at the moment. I'm sure it'll pass...

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Green Cowl

My emerald green Noble Cowl (Ravelry link) by Emily Kausalik, knit in Ella Rae Bamboo Silk (70/30). Soft, silky and deliciously drapey.

I actually finished this back in August, but just never got a chance to photograph it. Today however is a wet, unseasonably cold Sunday and seemed the perfect time to get this gorgeous piece out again.  


I love the open lacework and the slouchy feel. It makes for the perfect mild weather accessory, offering a little warmth, a whole lot of style and punchy colour.

I usually wear this with my bird brooch gifted to me by some wonderful work colleagues.

Pinned Cowl

The knit is the perfect place for my little bird to nest...

Bird Brooch

Friday, 8 November 2013


You could make many wishes on the dandelions in my top.

Style A, Pattern 1, French Sleeve Tie Back Tunic, from Japanese pattern book (English translation) Sweet Dress Book: 23 Stylish Outfits from Six Simple Patterns by Yoshiko Tsukiori. Fittingly made up in a 100% cotton Japanese lawn. Pretty, light, breezy...

This top represented a few more firsts for me. Yay!

Number one, first time using a Japanese pattern book. I've always loved the styles in these books but struggled to envisage how they'd work on my body. I'm slim but also taller (167cm) than the average Japanese woman (160cm) for whom the patterns are drafted, and the general sack-like look does little to flatter me. But this top, the front cover design, caught my eye straight away and I love it! It's very me.

Number two, tracing patterns - at least for an adult. I've traced patterns for M's clothes previously as it's the only way to preserve a multi-sized pattern when your child is clearly going to grow. But for me? People, I have not changed size since I was about 18 and that's a whole 22 years ago (don't hate me, and obviously except during pregnancy). I usually just chop into those multi-sized babies and get on with things.

I also find the whole idea of having to add seam allowances perplexing. What is with that? Just add them to the damn pattern and allow us to happily get on with things. That being said, these pattern books use a few basic pattern pieces that can be added upon to create a new look and so there are times when a different seam allowance or the drafting in of a tab or fold back facing or some such is needed.

Number 3, self-made bias binding. Yes, my first time creating self-fabric bias binding! I know, I know, how did I get this far without having ever done that before? Sheer laziness and the ability to buy admittedly icky poly/cotton varieties from every fabric store imaginable.

But it was super-easy and now I want to bind everything! I even cut a whole lot extra so that I could use it in the future for other makes, especially those where the binding is applied like a facing and isn't entirely visible. Think *contrast surprise*.

Number 3, using my French Curve. I bought one a while ago to do my Craftsy Adjust the Bust course, but.... ummmmm... haven't started yet... but I will! Another of those Spring/Summer Sewing Promises, and Spring is almost over! Damn, must get on it. However, I did break it out here to re-draft the front neckline. I won't go into it, it's just one of those confusing Japanese pattern books things. But it worked beautifully, once I worked out what the hell I was supposed to do with it!

The centre back of this top is supposed to be entirely open with a tie at the neckline and another at mid back. You'd usually wear a tank underneath. It's actually the top that made me buy the book, I just thought it was an interesting feature. Then hubby saw it... Oh, just like a hospital gown? What the...??!!!!! Yes, thank you for ruining it for me so that now all I could see was that hospital gown. I altered it to be sewn up the back and the tie used as a fastener at the neck only. In the end I prefer it, as I think I would have gotten sick of layering it. Especially since this fabric is so lovely against the skin.
Pattern Changes/Alterations:
  • Traced and cut a small, grading out to a medium at the hips. I'm a regular pear-shaped girl.
  • Changed the back as above. 
  • Hemmed 1cm shorter than the pattern suggested, which surprised me given the height differential.
Lessons learned:
  • A French Curve is so very useful.
  • Don't show a beloved design to hubby. He's only going to go and say something stupid and quash your romantic dreams. Damn you P...

I really like my new top and I love it with my new yellow sandals. Win! 

Sunday, 3 November 2013


...flutter way off to the sky...

This is my version of vintage Simplicity 7155 (dated 1976). This is actually a pattern for a toddler's long "jumper" or top, and I believe is really made for layering over a t-shirt or blouse (as pictured).

Why? Because the size 3 is really large on my 3.5 year old, especially in the arm scythes, and as a result through the chest area. It is a tieback dress which cinches out some of the fullness, but it still looks way too big... Is this just another one of those damn "ease" issues? Enough of excessive ease Big 4's!

But apparently it's perfect for twirling!!!

Self-styled with pink tights
And really, that's a good enough measure of success in a 3.5 year old's mind!

This came together super quickly even though it has a zip closure and that normally slows me down. I actually machine basted the zip in place before stitching and it did make a huge difference. I inserted an invisible zip, because really folks, they are just damn easy compared to a regular or lapped zip. And check it out! Invisible!

I did have all sorts of problems attaching the yoke to the dress front and this is the only place I got slowed down. Imagine fitting a zig and a zag together (this explanation makes sense in my mind!). They don't wanna go. Remember when you are sewing together the yoke and dress front you are trying to sew two opposing angles. One peaks up and the other peaks down. Ok, this is really hard to explain in text and I forgot to take photos in my rage extreme frustration hissy fit consternation. But let's just say it didn't want to go together and I must have unpicked a zillion trillion couple of times. You can see the hash I made of it here...

What did I do wrong my lovely readers? In the end I decided the reality was this was to be a play dress and who gives a damn?

Pattern Changes/Alterations:

  • I inserted an invisible zip instead of a regular one. Life is just too short... but I will re-conquer alternate zip insertions again one day... maybe... if I can be bothered.
  • I settled on a length shorter than the dress in the pattern (ankle length), to make it more practical and play friendly.
Lessons learned:
  • When your child is being particularly heinous, chocolate works as a bribe. Judge me if you will, but you won't possibly judge me as harshly as I do myself. I swore I'd never use food as a reward. Bad Mummy...
  • Continue to accept that less than perfect makes are still perfectly acceptable. 
  • Zigs and zags do not play nicely together.

In the end this little camper is pretty happy with the result.

Butter wouldn't melt... little tyrant
Apart from twirling, it's apparently also perfect for contemplating toes...

Monday, 28 October 2013

Casting on

A gorgeous bunch lot of deliciousness finally landed on my proverbial doorstep this week. Finally! All the way from the UK! Could it be any slower?!

And then I just had to get right into it and start swatching...

... so I can get started on my WORK + SHELTER Lace Striped Tee, by Allyson Dykhuizen. 

Allyson's friend, Theresa VanderMeer, runs an organization called The Lotus Odyssey that exports fair-trade products from different eco/people-friendly groups in India. Theresa has started a foundation called WORK+SHELTER "that creates safe spaces across India where women in need can come to live and work. W+S encourages self-reliance amongst its female stakeholders while promoting hands-on training and capacity building. At W+S women are taught to use the skills they have or develop new ones, and contribute to the success of the organization by effectively filling their role within the larger production process. Apparel and accessories produced by the women are then sold to overseas markets" (text directly from www.workandshelter.org).

Allyson was asked to design garments and accessories that will be hand knit by the women living and working at WORK+SHELTER. The sweaters in this pattern are two of those items. If you click on the pattern link above you can grab your copy if you feel so inclined...

I like it... and so I cast on.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


... in my beautiful, my beautiful, balloooooooooooon!

Otherwise known as vintage Simplicity 7395, Short Skirt (dated 1976).

Go on, admit it! You know you want a hot air balloon skirt for yourself now don't you? Or would you prefer that sassy red number with the chook embroidered on the pocket? Huh, huh? Damn if that transfer for said chook was missing, presumed used by an earlier style savvy sewer.

Short interlude: I believe I am the luckiest girl in the world. For many reasons, but not least of which is that I tend to be gifted the most amazing bagfuls of vintage 1970s patterns you've ever seen. Past and present workmates and gorgeous friends have delighted in my makes for ages and know my addiction obsession passion for 1970s patterns knows no bounds. They just work for my shape and I am a lover of simple crisp lines for my body type.

Whenever someone is undergoing a major house clean out they bag them up and then present them to a very giddy, excited Miss Jillian. Squeeeeee! This pattern was one such find and weirdly I was looking everywhere for an a-line wrap skirt pattern that I liked. I was just about to purchase Tilly's Miette when this baby slipped into my sweaty, overexcited hands. In my humble and personal opinion this pattern is wayyyyy better, I prefer the less exaggerated a-line of this one.

This was a very straightforward make and required no alterations. Yay! Since it is a wrap skirt, its pretty forgiving, but I must say that it does seem to wrap to exactly where it should in the back and doesn't strain or hang weirdly...

As yet I haven't had a wardrobe malfunction resulting in a knicker display, which is an awesome outcome!

The pockets are super cool in that they wrap around the side front and finish at the side back. I thought perhaps they'd add bulk, but they're great. And side darts form the waistline shaping as there are no side seams.

How come this skirt looked perfectly ironed when inside my home, but in daylight it looks like I slept in it/wrestled a monkey?

Now, styling advice, lovely friends. What colour top would you wear with this? I made a wardrobe booboo in that I don't have any tops other than this old black tank that work with it. Blame it on fabric love, which wipes out all reason/wardrobe planning. Anywho, what colour/style people???

I call this baby a success, I likey...

Can I just apologise for photography here, peeps? I have been waiting and waiting to photograph my recent makes and have been delayed with ridiculous work commitments in the last few weeks and no hubby around to help me with a photo shoot. This was done with a remote shutter release and I still need some practice. I had to edit the shit out of these shots to get them in focus/adjust the glare and now they look a bit weird.