Little quilt and bedspread progress

First: my circle of friends seem determined to increase the population. Babies, babies everywhere. I prefer puppies. My friends know I’m useless with small people but they also know I tend to overcompensate for my infant ineptitude by making something awesome when the kid is birthed. Thusly I whipped up another rough ‘n’ ready kid quilt from the scrap stash, tough enough to chuck in the washing machine every time its owner shits or spews on it.


It’s very much like the last one I made and I expect there will be a couple more just the same in coming months. Excellent and satisfying way to (slowly, slowly) empty the scrap bin.

Second: an update on the beautiful, beautiful yo-yo bedspread my friend bestowed upon me. I tore off the polyester backing and I have spent hours fixing holes and repositioning yo-yos. I found pins embedded in the corners! Some bits were haphazardly sewn — my friend reckons those areas show where her elderly relatives were getting a bit dotty.

Once I felt its structural integrity was restored, I washed the worst of the grime and stink out of it. Today I’ve pieced together a new backing from a vintage blue-green cotton and I will attach it this week. Can’t wait to show you!

Gems from a library

I’m at a friend’s house enjoying her vintage sewing book library and thought I’d share some gems – one genuine, one decidedly paste – with you.

From the excellent The Classic Techniques from Time Life’s Art of Sewing library, here’s the schematic for a 3,000-year-old Danish shirt that looks like an interesting way to make a top from a single small piece of yardage.


And now for the shocker. From Honour Gillett’s Sewing (which has some very very cool 70s clothes – seersucker flares, anyone?) I bring you the tackiest sewing caddy ever.


Perhaps you should make one for someone you don’t like.

A letter to Linen

Dear Linen,

You’re awful purdy in plant form.

Your seeds make tasty bread topping, or, when crushed, useful (and excitingly self-combustible) oil for the handles of my garden tools and as a vehicle for the pigments of my oil paints.

Along with quinine-laced tonic and an astonishing sense of entitlement, you helped Europeans look cool and stay cool while they colonised hot and sticky places.

Your fibres have wrapped mummies, supported great works of art, and dried tears from countless faces. Rich people sleep on sheets made from you. Printed with novelty patterns, you’ve dried many a dish (and flicked many a bare-leg-of-annoying-sibling. YEOUCH!!) You’re famous for being durable and long-lasting.

AND YET, I narrow my eyes at you, Linen, because in garment form, you’ve been nothing but a disappointment to me.

The wrinkling I can live with because my persona is naturally a bit crumpled. But you have proved far less resilient than promised and garments made from you have torn in embarassing places, in embarassing moments. To wit: the loose black linen pants that made me super happy for about a week as I swanned about feeling quite the breezy thing, until two gaping tears appeared in the area most familiar with my bicycle seat.

Then there was this dress.

Black linen New Look 6067

Black linen New Look 6067

Lint-free? My arse. Every time I wear this dress I am covered in tiny bits of linen stubble. It embeds in my layer of sunscreen and makes me look grubby and unwashed. Long-lived? PAH! I’ve sewn up and patched the skirt vent three times and this morning it tore again. And inexplicable pea-sized holes appeared in the side of the skirt too. And laundering has turned it from lightweight to uncomfortably sheer.

Did I do something wrong, Linen? I recall this black dress took a few washes not to reek of cheap dye – could it be that the dye weakened your fibres? Or were these not your finest fibres to start with?

Maybe I should just leave you to those who understand you, like Steph C, Or do some book-learnin’ to catch up. But right now, I’m not sure I can trust you again.

Later, Linen.

Fabric giveaway winners

The draw for the monster fabric giveaway was conducted in a terribly scientifically rigorous manner, under controlled conditions. (The man who owns those hands has a PhD in physics. For reals.)


The cards fell just so:


So I’m delighted to announce that…

1. Sarah B gets the much-coveted piece of minty polka dots, for her Glassons dress rip-off , ahem, respectful replica (that’ll show ’em for shoddy manufacturing standards! YEAH!)

2. The floral chiffon goes to  The Perfect Nose for transformation into a minidress

3. The seersucker splendifery is for lakaribane who expressed obsessive and passionate needfulness for such stuff

4. Sarah will pop the blue poplin into a nifty top

5. Poor, ailing (but wonderfully named) Pigs and Bishops receives the stretch velvet for her troubles

6. Laura will be wearing the two-tone wool

7. Sox will be pencil-skirting the plaid

8. and the wool jersey was born to be a toasty sweater for Amy S!


I’ll be emailing you all to get postal addresses and then watching eagerly to see what gets made. Thanks to everyone who dropped me a line – and now I have a bunch of new sewing blogs to explore!

Fabric giveaway – come and get it!

Kindly folks have bestowed great piles of fabric on me lately. It has been grand but I think it’s time to pass on the generosity, don’t you?

I like these eight bits of fabric and think they will appeal to seamsters with a vintage bent, but I don’t have imagination to think up something to make with them right now. So, to quote Mr Anthony Kiedis, “give it away, give it away, give it away now!”

Here’s the fine print:

  • To enter, just leave a comment on this post saying a) which bits you want and b) linking to a pattern, whether vintage or modern, or even a RTW garment you’d copy, that you’d like to use the bits for. Inspire us!
  • You can nominate one, two or three bits that you fancy.
  • If you’re the only person to claim that piece, it’s yours. If more than one person wants a piece, I’ll do a random draw.
  • Giveaway entries close in one week on midnight (AEST) on Wednesday 23 January
  • I’ll post fabric free of charge to anywhere in the world.

Bring on the booty! ON OFFER: A summery selection for the southern hemisphere:

Piece 1: 110cm wide x 334cm long

Sheer and lightweight minty-green synthetic with cute tiny white raised dots.


Piece 2: 130cm wide x 120cm long

This is either silk or rayon. Burn test was inconclusive but it’s not a melty synthetic fibre. Very very sheer and drapey chiffon-like fabric in a creamy light yellow with floral print.


Piece 3: 110cm wide x 160cm long

I think all the clothes my mum made for me as a toddler in the 1970s was made from this kind of stuff – floral stripey seersucker in primary colours.


Piece 4: 114cm wide x 165cm long, plus a little bit extra

Crisp royal blue poplin with cute little floral print.


Now you northern hemispherians with your ice and snow might prefer something from this more wintery selection:

Piece 5: 145cm wide x 118cm long, plus a little bit

Blue floral print velvet with one-way stretch.


Piece 6: 150cm wide x 103cm long

100% wool in upholstery weight. Nifty geometrical weave in two shades of brown.


Piece 7: 155cm wide x 81cm long

Lightweight and open-weave checked 100% wool in blue, white and maroon.


Piece 8: 145cm wide x 100cm long (missing a coupla bites out of the corners)

Wool and synthetic blend knit, quite thick, with dark brown on one side and light brown on t’other.


And…. GO!

The haul that came to stay

A knock at the door last night. Who’s that? I’m busy. He’s busy. We squabble over who should get the door. He’s closer.

Turns out it was a SURPRISE FABRIC DELIVERY. Three big bags/boxes from a friend who was cleaning out. I spent the rest of the evening sorting into three piles: fabric for ME, fabric for the OP SHOP, and fabric for YOU. Time to spread the benificence – here’s a peek of the impending giveaway.


This pile, along with a pile of tasty scrappy bits, is mine-all-mine. Love that watercoloury purple cotton.


And the final bit of treasure: a bedspread made by a family member of hers. It needs some repair but I think I’m up to it! What a lovely thing.


Giveaway coming soon!

Gertie’s Sweetheart Sundress

Here ’tis, modelled by Headless Esme who does not share my prudishness (or, must be said, my fleshiness). The dark blue band perfectly matches the navy in the print, and it supplies a satisfying provocation to those blue-and-green-must-not-be-seen naysayers. The blue fabric was a surprise gift from a colleague who was moving house and mentioned he had some fabric he didn’t want. Oh yes, I said, I’ll have a look. He neglected to mention that it was metres and metres of slubby silk and fine silk and I almost lost my shit when I saw it. For meeeee? This magnificence? YES PLEASE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Now, back to the dress. I intend to add buttons to the back so the straps can convert from halter to shoulder. I’m also toying with adding pockets that echo the blue trim (refer to hastily slapped-on mock pockets below. I believe gravity overcame the pocket at a critical moment, but you get the idea. Thoughts?)

I used a very plain A-line skirt rather than Gertie’s gathered suggestion. I also added 1.5cm to the bodice length and trimmed off the odd little point at centre front waist which did not sit right at all. Dunno about you, but I don’t have a widow’s peak at my belly button.

So. Note well, buxom sewasauruses, that the Sweetheart Sundress may be NSFW as drafted. I might make it again and add an inch or two to the neckline. Flipping the trim up might also work. For me, it went together easily with very little fitting and fussing. Be sure to check out frkbustad’s lovely gingham version and pearlconcubine’s floral one too!

Starting in on Gertie’s New Book

You all know Gertie, right? I’ve been following her blog ever since some folks got all ranty-pants about her tattoos. I just liked her frocks.

Anyhoo, fast forward to the release of her book, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing which I bought myself as a birthday present. I thought the sweetheart sundress pattern would make a good summer frock I could wear on those stinkin’ hot days, praps even to work.

Let me start by saying I will NOT be wearing this to work. Cripes! I thought it would be demure and breezy, but despite using the folksy poplin print from the previous post, it’s more the saucy older sister of the frock I had imagined. The sister who knows what boys like. Apparently I’m a big ol’ prude because I don’t feel comfortable posting the pic of me in said frock on teh interwebs!

The stashing, it continues

Me? Adding to the stash? Well, I never!

That wasn’t me buying mad mail-order maxi dress patterns from Etsy.


And ’twas not I in Hobart Spotlight last year making good the 30%-off-if-you-emptied-the-roll-deal on cotton sateen. Nor me in Bundaberg Spotlight on Boxing Day rummaging through the bargain table and finding hilarious folk-style poplin. That was some other unstoppable-hoarder-type entirely.

Incidentally, have you heard the terrible news that Brunswick Spotlight is closing down? Welcome news to those who didn’t like its disorder, long queues and occasional grottiness. But I liked it and will miss it.

McCall’s Sewing in Colour

Happy new year, makers and fakers!

I love old dressmaking books. I have so many now that new additions to my shelf of editions don’t often bring much illumination – you can only describe inserting zippers in so many ways – but they remain irresistable. And not so easy to find in op shops.

On 2 January, trawling Frankston Savers with another sewing chum, I was delighted to spot a new one. And two copies of it so we didn’t even have to squabble over who got it. It’s the 1969 imprint of the 1964 McCall’s Sewing in Colour, a tome described in its flyleaf as “the complete sewing book”.

My copy once belonged to Robyn Thompson in 2A. I expect it was her Home Ec textbook in the early 70s. I wonder if she sewed for fun or for necessity. Perhaps she made herself the clothes her mum wouldn’t, or couldn’t buy for her.

The lists of fabrics at the start of the book include the exciting, futuristic proprietary names I see every now and then on clothing labels of the era – Acrilan, Orlon, Vincel, Terylene, Zephran – and I hope that Robyn wasn’t seduced by their sticky fibres.

There is a fabulous page of stills from a McCall’s film (and how I would love to track it down!) showing How A Pattern Is Created.


I also picked up four metres of a quite lovely old polished cotton stamped Federated Fashion Fabrics in the selvedge.


Before I can start cranking out some seamstressin’, my poor old Bernina needs some service lovin’. The top and bottom threads look like they are having a prolonged argument. I hope my favourite sewing machine fixer-upper can get them playing nicely again.