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.

For the first time EVER I decided to make a muslin. I don't have time for muslins usually but having only made one pair of pants/shorts before and never sewn a Vogue pattern I thought it'd be a good idea. Thank goodness, as apparently Vogue don't believe in any ease at all. They were definitely not quite right, so I posted pics of my muslin on Instagram and the gorgeous sewing community helped me figure out how to grade the pattern up a bit (thank you Rachel, Debbie, and Rosie), which wasn't as easy as adding more to the side seams. These pockets have a pocket extension flappy thing, but with the help of diagrams (diagrams! hand drawn!) from the lovely Rachel things worked out perfectly. I ended up adding about 1.5cm to each side from the waist down.

The fit is ridiculous. Check it out...


And that's just the front. Check out this...

And this...

Not a freakin' wrinkle or pull line in sight. In fact the most perfectly fitting pair of bottom halves I have ever owned. Squeeeeee!!!!!! I don't even have to yank them around to sit at just the right angle. I didn't re-adjust these culottes once during the photo session. Huzzah!!!!

And the comfort, oh good god, the comfort. Secret pyjamas? I've never owned pyjamas this comfortable.

I think the key to my happiness with these culottes is knowing my own body. Knowing that an a-line type culotte was going to suit way better than a heavily pleated or gathered version, even if I see those on others and adore them. I'd simply look ridiculous.

Being able to try on a few different fits and lengths in RTW was such a huge help. I was able to work out from the start the volume I could handle in each leg and the ideal length for my shape.

And I managed not to give myself a merkin! Yay for doing my best with pattern placement. It means the print is not smoothly kept around the seams of the culottes. But seriously people... avoiding pattern placement faux pax was my priority here.

I'm going out to swish around in my lovely new culottes. They may never come off again...

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 whipup.net.

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.

Each piece was hand-stitched which meant punching all those holes. It gave me a whole new appreciation of the love that went into my bespoke bag. This nifty little tool certainly makes the job a little easier though. Combined with a wooden chopping board or workbench and hammer you're good to go.

At this stage we've also accumulated a little collection of leather threads in different colours, so I was able to make every handle wrap completely different from the others and coordinate it with its bag fabric.

So much prettiness...

And I reinforced my seams by folding the seam allowances to one side and topstitching (kind of like a faux flat felled seam). You might be able to see in the photo below.

Equally happy on my shoulder or swung lazily by my side.

 I so have to go back and get more yellow chevron. Too perfect...

And to all you lovely peeps out there here's to a very Merry Christmas for you and yours, and a wonderfully joyful and creatively rich New Year! There might some radio silence from this here crafter as I work on getting fat and extremely relaxed over the next little while. Enjoy!

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.

It's been a very rainbow year in the SewJillian household. Rainbows in every drawing, rainbows in every book. It went without saying that this year's dress would feature "rainbows". But I was down with that when it came to this fabric. Geo Rainbow. So. Much. Awesomeness.

Oh and stars, there had to be stars. Stars and rainbows apparently go hand in hand. Golden stars around the hem it was.

I thought I was all embellished out (I don't do embellishment), but then Miss M remembered the Daiso zips. I was all for sticking in a red one (very Xmasy), but it was pink or nothing. As I said: any illusions of being boss are completely thrown out in the face of a 4 year old's egocentric desires.

So we did pink.

And with a zipper as gorgeous as that I did an extreme exposed zip. I actually love how it turned out. I thought about enclosing the base of the zip in some dress fabric, but I really like the slightly industrial look of it as is.

I had a significant problem with design ease in this one. I tried the dress on Miss M before inserting the zipper or attaching the facings. It seemed quite tight around the chest, so I reduced the seam allowance to 1cm (from 1.5) and away I went. Entirely finished the dress and realised it was a sack of the most epic proportions, huge in every way. I ended up having to detach the armhole facings at the side seams (understitching and all!!!!) and take it in just over an inch each side and re-attach. Still seems a little broad across the shoulders, but it's much better.

And this little one is mucho pleased. And still ridiculously gorgeous. Look at that face...