Tuesday, 30 December 2014

It started with Debbie, then Kirsty, then all manner of other inspired makers. I swore I would not be swayed from my belief that these babies would look nothing but awful on me.

You see I remember them from last time they were cool - they were so not cool on me, thank you very much 1980s. But Debbie kept chipping away at me and damn it if I didn't start to covet a pair of my very own.

Humble pie, anyone? Mmmmm, tastes yummy!

I just kept seeing more and more covetable versions popping up in blogland and in the coolest of RTW stores. So I thought...only one way to find out... and I headed out to my local Gorman to try some on. Well, I'll be damned... pick the right style and you might just be able to make it work for you! I took some sneaky measurements in the changeroom (don't you all do that?), hem width, leg length. A speedy side trip to Spotlight later and I was set.

But which pattern? Hello stash!

Behold Vintage Vogue 9661, at a guess dated from the 80's. This was part of a massive bag of vintage patterns I was gifted by an old work colleague. I don't need office or corporate wear, so I'd never looked twice at it. But looky there on the left. It might just work.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Well they're not the traditional Furoshiki folded bag, but a rough approximation! These bags are also known as a Japanese triangle bags or origami bags.

I was originally inspired by the lovely Anna's post on her teacher presents this year. I loved the look of her bags and how well they can be completely individualised for the recipient. I had wanted to delve down the path of handcrafted gifts (at least for some) this Christmas and I knew I'd hit on the perfect project. Who doesn't love another beautiful and lovingly made bag?

I sent out a few emails with some vague, but enlightening questions, about favourite colours, prints or vibrancy and I was off. I used the very gorgeous Cloud9 100% certified organic cotton canvas fabrics for all but the flouro yellow chevron which was a buzoku duck from Spotties.

It really is a super easy and fast make. You just need a rectangle of fabric three times as long as it is wide, and a bit of fancy folding and stitches later, ta-da, there is your bag. I used BurdaStyle's Triangle bag tutorial because the particular way in which the material is folded and then stitched made way better sense to me, and seemed to suit the dimensions of my material. I was constrained by the width of my fabric and ended up cutting rectangles 43.5 inches x 14.5 inches.

Other, alternative methods can be found in this tutorial by //Between the lines// and this one at

I also decided to work that leather magic again with some handle wraps made from scrap pieces left over from one of hubby's many leather projects (see here and here).

I dyed the leather Whiskey brown  and found it hugely annoying perplexing that the final colour of each piece was so different. But in the end I love that each piece is completely unique.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Never work with children or small animals. I get it, I truly do.

This child never stands still or stops talking... she's talking above. Good lord, this was even after having to bribe her to model with the promise of a forbidden candy cane. Oh how the mighty fall when it comes to children. We truly aren't boss, you know. It's impossible.

Back to the dress. This is my fifth Xmas dress for the very lovely (if infuriating) Miss M. I'm liking it, and Miss M is ecstatic, but it's not the triumph of last year. Oh boy, how grown up she looks this year!

I was really pleased to use one of my vintage pattern finds for this dress, before she outgrew its one size!

Vintage Butterick 4983, View C. Isn't that illustration adorable?? It totally sucked me in... those pigtails, those bows, that cute floral. So much cuteness.

I'm obsessing culottes... Inspiration

Sunday, 30 November 2014

I completely blame Kirsty and Debbie for this and I think I might have to eat my words and a little humble pie. You see they have both made awesome culottes recently and whilst I love them on those ladies, I was convinced they'd be hideous on me. I announced they'd never get me into culottes, no way, no how. Then I saw these babies from Gorman...

Photo source
...and I thought now there's a pair that might completely sway me. Then I went to Gorman and tried them on and now I'm a goner. I hope I'm not completely deluded, and they don't in fact make me look like an Oompa Loompa.

That said, I bought this amazing cotton/linen (85/15, I think) fabric and I'm committed.

Then Myra of MyZeeMoo very rightly warned me on Instagram: that print is gonna make for some potentially awful pattern placement faux pas. Oh lord, I'm not sure I can avoid it...

But I neeeeeeeeed culottes.

Are you falling head over heels for the culotte trend or are you happily avoiding it?


Saturday, 29 November 2014

I made cake!

Sort of. It's not a print, it's neutral coloured, but it does have some sneaky embellishment. I'm still gonna call it cake as it's the closest to cake I've made in... ever? I do like me some frosting/icing.

And it gives me angel wings when the sun is at just the right angle!


Sunday, 23 November 2014

You're not going to miss me in this one.

The name of this dress came about from an Instagram exchange with Gabrielle of Up Sew Late. In the process of sewing up this number I joked that I figured I'd stop traffic. Not because it's risque in anyway, but because I'm fairly certain you could use my fabric in place of hi-vis vests for traffic control officials. Ain't ever gonna miss this one.

But I love it! I spotted this National Flags collection cotton poplin in my usual hunting ground (Spotlight) and knew it was the fabric for this dress right away. I love poplin. So crisp, so well-behaved.

This is Pattern F Tunic dress with slit sleeves in Liberty print from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book: Wear with freedom.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

It's here!!!!!!!!

I apologise now 'cause you're gonna get photo bombed. This bag is just. that. good.

Disclaimer: I didn't sew this... hubby did. He is the most awesomely brave leather craftsmen, full of heart and the most amazing sense of shape and design. I am the luckiest wife ever, oh yes I am.

Let's be clear here. This gorgeous work of art started as a loosely formed idea in my head after hubby asked one day "what would you like me to make you". I mean seriously - offer to make something for me as opposed to me begging!? That's true unselfish sewing as these pieces take a whole lot of blood (literally, those needles are viscious), callouses (you try hammering each and every single hole through which to sew), tears (when something you spent hours on just doesn't quite work... we'll get to that later) and time (a good few months).

But oh my, oh me, just look at her awe-inspiring perfection.


Thursday, 9 October 2014


We thought we'd never get there (that's the royal "we"), but good god we've done it!

If you read my last post where I lamented my complete and utter lack of sewing time of late you'll understand the delay in this. It's been something like 10 weeks since I started! I got off to a flying start with the sewalong, but it all went pear-shaped and I've only just picked it up again and finished it off.

Check it. Like. A. Boss

If you follow me on Instagram (go on, you know you want to), you'll have seen me post on my most amazing topstitching. Truly - it is amazing. Well on the pockets anyway. That collar stand leaves a lot to be desired.

Who? Me? (AKA a bloggy hop)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Are you sick of seeing these posts yet? I'm not sure where this current blog hop originated, I'm not sure anyone else does either (!) but I'm so very much enjoying getting to know a bit more about the bloggers I love.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the gorgeous Myra of my-zee-moo at Frocktails in Sydney some weeks ago. So when Myra asked if I'd agree to be "hopped" I was so very chuffed that I said "why of course, I'm sure there are oodles of readers out there just waiting for my little getting to know you post" (kidding). So in case you're still tuned in here 'tis.

Why do you write?

I'm one of those people who always think it'd be cool to keep a journal. I go out and buy an awesomely cute, visually appealing notebook, and last like one day - two days max. I just have no discipline whatsoever. Or perhaps it's that writing a "dear diary" entry feels a bit contrived for me and it never sat quite right.

Then a couple of years ago, looking for some free baby girl dress patterns for my newly popped baby girl I discovered blogs. Awesome, interesting, often funny and self-effacing, I found myself obsessed hooked. I had found a little community that were in many ways, just like me, and I wanted in.

After some serious stalking dedicated blog reading I decided that perhaps I had something to say too. Nothing terribly clever or witty, but I wanted to share my makes and create some relationships with like-minded individuals, even if just on screen.

I've been sewing since I was about 8 or 9, learning on my Mum's old Singer machine. Then taking Textiles and Design at school, designing and creating my own gowns for year 10 and 12 formals. Taking a little hiatus when it suddenly seemed uncool to make your own clothes and then gleefully rediscovering the bug and this community years later. Rarely have I ever found anyone in real life who can share my goofy excitement and appreciate the work that creating entails.

My blog is a bit "notebook" (keeping track of changes or alterations I've made to garments/patterns in case I want to sew it again) and a bit about establishing a relationship and dialogue with other creators out there who just "get it", and therefore, generally get me.

What are you working on?

I'm beginning to realise I'm not at all like some incredible bloggers. I don't have more than one project on the go at any one time. I just don't have the time and I think that'd just make me anxious! This winter in particular has been especially challenging. What with work, blah, blah, family, blah blah and study (what on earth was I thinking?) my creating has taken a serious hit. It's enough just to keep upright sometimes. Sewing has just felt like an additional straw that might very well break this camel's back...

And so...

Ugh... my poor, poor Alder. I had such high hopes of keeping up with Jen's sewalong and actually getting this make done. It's getting done... albeit at a pace a little slower than a snail's.

But check out the awesome start I've made!

How's that for topstitching?

I'm halfway through the collar and then it's buttonholes and hems and I'm done. I think it's the brainpower required to get that collar looking right that has really done me in. But I'll get there.

In terms of plans... remember my plan to have no plans? Well that's working real well for me! But possibly means I'm getting nothing done.

I've definitely got a Bombshell swimsuit planned for summer in the awesome lycra below..

Sigh.. so pretty

And remember this ridiculous silk twill? Ridiculously beautiful that it is...

I'm planning to use it for the gathered version of the Alder shirt dress. Yeah, yeah, get the first one finished first Jillian, I know what you're all thinking. But a girl can dream.

Other than that, I see a few more Japanese patterns made up. I am rather a fan.

How does it differ from others of its genre?

For a start I am totally not one of the cool kids. The ones that make sewing and creating their life's work, and who's blogs I devour ravenously (I just had a thought, perhaps if I stopped obsessively reading I'd carve out time and energy for actually creating! Huh!). I won't be asked to pattern test. I won't be purchasing every newly released indie pattern. I won't be scrabbling to join in with sewalongs at every opportunity (sorry Alder...). I'm not trying to create my entire wordrobe.

I am who I am. A bit of a sewer, a bit of a raveller and increasingly more unravelled. I row my own boat, try not to worry that if I am conspicuously absent from my blog that the online (and recently IRL. Yay Frocktails!) relationships I've created and nurtured will not completely disintegrate with my absence.

If you like a bit of sewing, and a bit of winter knitting, then perhaps you'll like looking at and reading about my creations. At least I hope you do.

How does your writing process work?

What process? You mean I have to have a process? Is that where I've been going wrong?

Everything I make, makes it to this here blog. From the moment I choose a pattern, to purchasing fabric, sewing seams to finishing touches, I am writing my post in my head. Occasionally that means scribbling some witty aside onto a scrunched up receipt at the bottom of my handbag, so I won't forget it later. Witty asides are not known to come thick and fast in these here parts.

After taking my finished garment shots I'll cull to the few I see making it to the blog and use a combo of the photos to guide my writing as well as those witty asides, pattern review tidbits, alterations made and lessons learned.

I generally wait until I'm in the right head space and the writing then seems to flow so very much more easily.

So that's it folks. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me.

Onwards and upwards (AKA who's next?)

I have followed Debbie's blog Lily Sage & Co for ages now. Now Debbie is definitely one of the cool kids. Have you seen her stuff? I want to be Debbie when I grow up. I'm not even kidding. I might have squealed when she agreed to let me hop to her. It was very embarrassing.

And Sasha of Fruits, Flower & Clouds. I have only more recently discovered Sasha's blog. I want to live in her wardrobe, and probably her country/city/town. Sasha had me with her Jacques Pants and then everything else on her blog was a bonus. Did I also mention she's incredibly sweet?

So it's over to you ladies. I look forward to getting to know you both better!

I have my very own label!

Monday, 18 August 2014

It was my birthday last week and I got the coolest gift from the hubby.

With no prompting or even having spoken about my secret desire to get some woven garment labels to insert into my me-mades, hubby outdid himself and produced these.

I feel a bit cray-cray with an almost overwhelming desire to stick these babies in everything I've ever made, the entire back-catalogue. But I'll resist because that all feels a little narcissistic and self-congratulatory.

P did a pretty good job picking the colour and text without any input from me. TBH, I'd probably have chosen a different colour combo, but credit where it's due, P was trying to match the coral colour in my blog header. Choices were limited however and candy pink it is.

You might recognise that denim from my in-progress Alder - yep I'm up to speed with the sewalong.

I've performed my SBA on the pattern and have cut all pieces ready to go. I believe today's sewalong will see the button bands, darts and pocket placement completed. The pattern and instructions are perfectly adequate to get going by myself, but I'm really interested to see how Jen tackles some steps, so I'm happy to keep with the program.

In the meantime, I'm off to work out exactly how I prefer these babies sewn in... tight zigzag, gappy zig-zag or something else altogether?

P.S. In Australia and want your own?

Alder-Along? Don't mind if I do!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Have you ever had an occasion when a new pattern is released and you've believed fervently that the designer made it specifically for you, reading your hopes, your dreams and everything in between. Oh Jen, you've truly done it.

Truly, madly, deeply do I love this pattern: The Alder Shirtdress.

Image Source
Maybe you love everything that comes out from the Indie or Big 4 market. I have to say, rarely if ever does anything truly take my fancy. I think perhaps it's why I've swayed towards vintage patterns in the past - they suit my aesthetic and body type.

Or sometimes a pattern will pique my interest, then I find out it's drafted for a C (!) cup and little old me ain't ever gonna go to the trouble of downsizing that baby - it would all but mean a re-drafting, ugh.

But this dress, oh my, you are perfection. I love both your views, A and B. I love all the additional variations Jen has suggested are possible. And I will have one for my own.

If you haven't heard, there is an Alder Dress Sew-Along starting tomorrow, and I will be catching that train. Will you?

I already have my fabric prepped, pattern purchased and view choice sorted.

View A, in a deep indigo blue mid-weight rigid denim - it is still winter over here and I envisage wearing this with knee boots and a cardigan or long sleeved tee underneath (or maybe both) right now and on its own for trans-seasonal wear. So in other words I'm completing ripping off Jen's View A above.

I've made Jen's Tiny Pocket Tank before and it marked my first foray into completing a SBA. So I know pretty much exactly what size to pick and how to alter the bust darts to fit me. My Tiny Pocket Tank was quite a triumph in that regard. Jen does say she'll be covering how to choose a size, so I'll be reading that with a lot of interest. I really wanna get this baby right as I have no time for a muslin.

And if all goes to plan I see at least two more for summer in both views A and B (which is eerily similar to a RTW dress I bought last summer and adore).

Squeee! I'm so excited!

Because who doesn't need a crocheted granny square vest??

Thursday, 24 July 2014

...Especially when you are off to mount your horse.

Sometimes you hit gold. Sometimes you enter that op shop with something else entirely on your agenda, but find yourself with a smile a mile wide.

The motherlode of knitting patterns from the 50's, 60's and 70's. Thank you Betty, whoever and wherever you are.

This is but a small sub-selection of the entire load I nabbed. And wait for it... all for the ridiculous price of $1. That's right. Not $1 each, but $1 total!! There's something like a few hundred patterns here contained in 20 odd pattern books.

I grabbed them all because they are actually full of some great basic and timeless patterns and I do in fact see myself using them to knit up a whole stack of things over the next several decades.

But boy do they have some entertainment value, immersing one in the the most iconic fashions of the time. Let's begin... 70's anyone?


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Yay! I finally finished something this winter. It was looking doubtful but it happened!

May I introduce my "quick win", the Libby skirt.

Have you ever been in a crafting funk where nothing seems to grab you for long and when something does grab you it simply does not move at a pace that keeps you really engaged? I've been in one of those. This year has shaped up to be incredibly demanding, and has left so very little time for anything extraneous at all. And as much as we'd all like to think sewing and knitting are not extraneous, the reality is sometimes they truly are.

My knitting progress has ground almost to a halt. Knitting takes time dudes. Serious time. Hours daily I just don't have anymore.

But then a few little things happened that propelled me forward.

1. I saw Rachel's awesome Libby skirt and just had to have it. Sorry Rachel! I know this skirt isn't quite the same, but I loved yours so very much that it certainly comes close. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I so hope you think so Rachel.

2. I spent a wonderful half hour or so at Tessuti in Surry Hills chatting with the very gorgeous and generous Colette. And it just made me feel all happy and energised. Thank you Colette!

I knew I was going to make the Libby skirt, I happened to be close to Surry Hills with a bizarrely free hour, and so I thought I'd check out my fabric options at Tessuti. I had black brocade on the brain. And what do you know?? Score!

I am a bear

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

I am, I am a bear....

I've been hibernating: figuratively and literally.

I've been a little absent, but I've been reading your blogs every chance I get!

I followed Sarah's advice. And yes, Sarah, it was worth hibernating for a while. My last post spoke of my growing disconnect from, and dissatisfaction with, my latest project. I tried soldiering on and I was just getting miserable. I decided for pretty much the first time ever to just put it aside, potentially never to be seen again.... we'll see.

Then I had to find my mojo again and boy was that hard. But I knew what I wanted to craft. I wanted a cardigan. A variegated green, hand-dyed/artisan yarn cardigan. So I got this...

Oh the squidgy awesomeness of this yarn. Sooooooooo soft (100% merino superwash wool) and so vibrant. It defines perfection.

And I'm gonna knit this...


Isabell Kraemer's Caramel cardigan. Entirely my kind of cardigan - one that makes you feel you've been wrapped in a lovely warm blanket or even a hug. I just won't be doing stripes. The variegated yarn will give me all the texture and interest I need.

Hopefully the endless stockinette will be just the balm my soul needs right now - mindlessness and rhythmic meditation instead of constant stitch counting and concentration (hello Fazie, I'm looking at you). I got no space in my tired brain for that right now (who was it that thought working, studying, caring for my family, crafting and sleeping could all fit nicely into my life?). Can't wait to get started.

I also finally got all I need together to make my New York Cape. Seriously peeps, this pattern has been sitting in my stash for over 2 years. It's about time.

Check out this delicious wool coating from The Fabric Store.

If you can't tell, I am obsessed with warmth and cosiness right now. I'm not much of a winter person.

How about you? Winter or Summer? Does anything weird happen to your mojo in either season?

And now I'm off to wind those skeins into knit-able balls.

S.O.S. Someone send me a lifeline!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Do you allow UFOs into your life??

Don't worry, this is not some extra-terrestrial, sci-fi loving post. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

No, I'm talking Unfinished Objects of the project kind.

This sweater is fast making me want to throw it into a UFO pile.

Recently I encountered this problem in the process of knitting the front/back of my sweater.

The mother of all holes smack bang centre front.


And yes it took me several more inches of knitting to even discover this monstrosity.

Dropped stitch? Nup, all stitches accounted for.

The most frustrating annoying yarn known to man? Yep, that'd be it. See how you can see the stitch, it's just super fine? That's partly user error and partly the most annoyingly thick-and-thin yarn ever. This is already a lace-weight yarn (even though it often listed as DK, and it's recommended to use DK sized needles) and over the differently dyed lengths of yarn the thickness does vary. Particularly in that light grey yarn where the hole appeared. The grey lengths are particularly fine.

I truly do not know how I missed this, but miss it I did and a solution was needed.

Call in the lifeline!


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sometime recently I simply ceased to buy any RTW outerwear. Let's make this clear, it wasn't purposeful, it was insidious. It kinda crept up on me. I used to love nothing more than trawling the nearest giant shopping mall. Now I can imagine nothing worse. I never seem to find quite the right thing and between fights for parking and dragging a 4 year old around, it's not my idea of fun - at all.

That's not to say I won't buy RTW again, it's just been a while. I will seriously have to master pants/jeans soon if it's going to last as I live in jeans all winter.

If I was to avoid hitting the nearest shopping centre, I decided it was time to start making some cake. Well, as near to cake as I make. My perception of cake is mix-and-match, plain dyed neutrals, kinda boring but necessary. I don't do cake, not even RTW cake. I like frosting. Not necessarily sequins and feather boa frosting, but bright prints and statement fabrics. Jeans are definitely my default cake base for my frosting in winter.

Remember I was undertaking Colette Pattern's Wardrobe Architect project?? I lasted about 4 weeks into the project, not really doing the homework but reading the pieces and realised I am doing totally fine. EVERYTHING I make I wear. I enjoy all of it and mix and match be damned. And accessories? My printed fabrics are my accessories. It took me a while to recognise that. I don't "do" accessories in the traditional sense (necklaces, bangles, bracelets, earrings, scarves etc). I feel too fussy when I try to incorporate accessories. Weirdly I threw on a necklace and my ubiquitous hair flower today. Weird.


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Are you a persister or desister?

Do you delightedly rise to the occasion with challenging projects or do you throw down said project in a fit of "how dare you mock me?" rage like a petulant three year old and avoid it for weeks days on end?

No? Just me?

Meet Roxanne.

This project certainly revealed the desister (I think I made up that word) in me. In fact it's probably never been in doubt. Have you ever noticed that pretty much all my me-made clothes are cotton? Generally poplin or lawn? That's because cotton behaves people, it behaves! It's the nerdy, glasses wearing, teacher's pet, always eager to please and do exactly as it's asked. I quite like that.

But chiffon? Oh, chiffon you nearly broke me. You are truly gorgeous and I fell madly, deeply and totally in love with you from the moment you peeped out at me behind all those other bolts of fabric, screaming me, me, you have to have a Roxanne made out of me!

And let's face it, you are just as pretty made up.

Look at your flowy gorgeousness. Your perfect floral print.


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.

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