Presidio purse

I had a quick go at making the Presidio Purse for the lovely Seamstress Erin. Yes. I’ve pattern testing again but this is my last pattern test for 2014.

My first bag making episode was painful. The leather bag was easier. This Presidio purse was a much easier make than my earlier attempts and my floral version below has been perfect for summer.

Front view
This hobo style purse features decorative front inset panels (either gathered or un-gathered) and an over-the-shoulder handle that can be all fabric or use hardware for a more ready-to-wear look. The fully lined inside has a large zippered pocket and, inside of that, a smaller subdivided pocket for pens and a cell phone or wallet.

Inside view

It comes in one size, so I decided to use a large print for this large purse. I know I’m short, but I was eager to see how Erin’s purse would work with a large print. It worked!

Erin’s version is really tasteful and well made. She’s used strong coloured fabric, great piping, cool lining, complimentary zippers and purse hardware.

My purse is understated and has been an excellent holiday ‘anything’ purse. I’ve used upholstery fabric I bought on ebay, brocade reused from a failed dress and zippers from my stash.

  • I rushed making this purse in between a bunch of other commitments in the run up to Christmas. So my purse planning was minimal.
  • I put the smaller pocket on the outside of the larger pocket so that I can get my phone fast. This has been very handy while we’ve been on holidays.
  • The front panels were cut on grain so the dahlias aligned to the rest of the print.
  • I missed using the large pocket top piece, but the large pocket still worked out.

Pattern testing in real life
My ‘anything’ purse…I’ve been using Erin’s Presidio purse while on a cycling break in the Victorian high country and I think my understated, everyday purse suits the country life.


A well-designed purse like this deserves much smarter planning than I’ve given it.


What I can say is Erin’s purse instructions are clear, easy to use and very achievable.

Back view

This purse has been handy on cycling days as well as on winery hopping days.

At a park trying not to fall off.
I know many of you plan your sewing projects in much more detail than I do. I’m very confident that when you make Erin’s Presidio purse, your version would be streets ahead on what I’ve achieved. I can already see you nodding in agreement. And Erin has a discount available right now.
I certainly won’t make the Olympic gym team.

I’ll go back to my sewing basics references and have another read of them before my new projects in 2014.

Thank you for reading my posts this year. I’ve enjoyed sharing each project and the ideas and comments you’ve taken the time to share with me. Most of all, I enjoyed meeting all of you and following your sewing adventures too.
Celebrate and enjoy 2014. See you then!!!

Minerva Network Blogger – December summer

Merry Christmas and I hope everyone still has that holiday feeling. It’s summer here and it’s scorching hot. No snow, just a whole lot of heat and humidity. We have the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day and the traditional Boxing Day test match in Melbourne to keep us celebrating the season in our very hot summer. 

I’m on holidays too so I’ve made a cool summer holiday dress and my summer work jacket. Christmas Day was too cool to wear this dress for my Christmas hostess duties with the family this year.

Cool summer holiday dress

New Look 6122 has 3 neckline options and can be made either maxi or short length.

I chose View B with a knee length skirt.

The dress combines a stripe knit and a solid colour knit from Minerva Crafts UK. I chose the stripe knit. Vicki picked the solid colour knit for me. Thanks Vicki! Both knits have minimal stretch so they are excellent fabrics to work with.

Unlike my test version, this version uses size 8 for a better bodice fit.

The version you’re looking at is the initial halter neck style that I changed a week later.

You can see the shoulder straps are now sewn onto the back bodice, and I’ve left off the waist ties.

I found the instructions made the whole bodice construction very easy to achieve.

I don’t usually wear gathers on a skirt but this is a summer holiday dress and in the heat and humidity, comfort is key to me. Thankfully the gathers are in the centre of the skirt pieces and not on the hips.

After finishing this dress I pattern tested an activewear top for Melissa of Fehr Trading.

The bra lining of her top is brilliant for training at the gym and I crudely added the bra lining to this dress after I finished making it. I tell you what, this bra lining gives me heaps of support now.

DH took this shot while we were visiting Bathurst on the weekend before Christmas. There’s a lot of bodice support in this dress. Just what I wanted. I wore this dress all day and loved it.

These are the farmers markets at Bathurst. You can read about the test version here. 

This is an easy dress to make as is. Views B and D are my favourites but I’m sure I’ll be able to use all of these styles. And if you need more bodice support, add a bra lining. It’s worth the extra effort.

Summer work jacketMaking this summer jacket using Vogue 8931 was a lot of fun. This jacket style gives you a few options and the ability to colour block to make it ‘your own’. That’s got to be a good thing.

I made View C using the linen-look cotton I used for the trouser pattern last month. I know ‘matching’ isn’t in but I prefer to wear one colour top-to-toe and then add a contrasting blouse.

I like using Vogue patterns for work wear and this jacket didn’t disappoint me.
After making a calico test, I made the 8 at the shoulders and 10 at the waist and hips. I avoid using calico when testing new patterns but for a jacket like this, I felt it needed to be tested for fit and to practice the construction techniques. This made all the difference when I
made up the real jacket.  
My darts on the test version didn’t line up so I knew I needed to make these better in the real version.

This fabric is soft and I knew that when I made the trousers last month so it’s great for summer. Jackets are a statement piece so I fully interfaced this fabric so it keeps its shape for years to come. You can see how I did this hereor in the Minerva Crafts sewing tutorials section.

The pattern has a faux pocket so I decided to add zipper pockets in the waistline seam. The technique used is here or go to the Minerva sewing tutorials section.

I made the centre back fold a centre back seam to add shaping for my sway back and I’ve written some details about sway back adjustments here, here and in the Minerva sewing tutorials section.

The sleeve shaping seemed a bit high under the arm so I graded it to a 10.
The shoulder line is longer than I need so I have taken off 1.5 cm.

The two piece sleeve uses easing instead of a dart at the elbow.
This added finish is something I do a lot now. It looks cleaner on the inside.
Oh. There are lots of techniques you can add to a jacket like pad stitching. During the collar construction I did add pad stitching to the under collar to give to collar more body. The details are here and in the Minerva sewing tutorials section.
Vicki picked the button for me this time. She’s got a good eye for detail. I found it hard to choose from the huge range of buttons on the Minerva Crafts website. Thanks again Vicki.

I bought the invisible zips locally because it was a WIP decision.

Did you notice the top I’m wearing? I’ve used the left- over knit from my summer dress to make a simple shell top using New Look 6977. I cut it on the bias for interest or because ‘I thought it was a good idea at the time’.
Thanks again to Minerva for being supportive of my sewing habit. If you feel inspired to make this dress and jacket for summer (your summer), hop over and grab your fabric and notions today.
Enjoy the break everyone. I certainly will. See you again in 2014!!!

Jumpin’ jacks

Well I can safely jump, skip and run up hills in a sleeveless top without fretting about wearing the right sports bra. Melissa from FehrTrade has solved dilemma with her XYT workout top. She’s also developed PB Jam leggings. I pattern tested these with a group of testers and she’s worked through our personal feedback.
Above is my first X-back version using dancewear lycra from The Remnant Warehouse. The bra lining uses 2 layers of powermesh. I love this stuff now.
My first X-back is a bit wide across the back on my first attempt but it still did the job I never imaged could be achieved.
Then I decided to use the checked poly spandex knit above that I bought from Clear it outlet in Melbourne last month.
When I wore the first version to the gym, it was a tad short for side stretches.
So this second x-back version was lengthened by 4cm. As the print is so wearable, I’ll be wearing it this summer as a weekend top.
This top covers me where I need it.
This is the Y-back version and I’m wearing the second PB Jam leggings. The Y-back is just as supportive as the x-back top. 
The leggings above were the first version and as you can see from the side seams, they needed to be sewn in a touch more. The back knee piece was at calve level so I raised this on the second pair. I used XS for both the top and leggings. I also did a sway back adjustment on the centre back piece.
Kyle has been asking for a pic of me running with a tyre at morning training. I haven’t been able to get this pic yet, so here’s one scaling a rope jungle gym. Thankfully there were no kids around to laugh at me.
Those tummy rolls are mine. There’s no airbrushing.
DH took these shots so he would have called an ambulance if I had fallen off the ropes like an idiot. You’ve think I was in primary school being so silly.
Now because the bra lining was so good, I’ve used this on the next summer dress you’ll see and the halter dress you saw earlier. I added the bra lining on both dresses after I’d made them so don’t judge my crude sewing. The result however works, like a glove.
If you want to take a closer look at these patterns, visit Melissa’s blog. 

Testing New Look 6122

Summer holidays are just about here and this is a dress I’ve dared myself to wear. This is my Make a Garment a Month piece.

There are plenty of opportunities to wear this style – get-togethers with family and friends, drinks,  summer BBQs or just a simple night out.

My favourite look is View B in the short version as it gives me enough options to colour block if I’m trying to mix up fabrics for a fresh look.
On Pattern Review I found a few reviews but only one for View B. This test version is made using a remnant fabric from Pitt Trading.

The location is Newington Amory at Sydney Olympic Park on an early summer afternoon. Funny how the old naval loading structure behind me looks like it’s coming out of my head. The perils of taking photos. Ya gotta laugh.

The straps were cut out as per the pattern but they were really long for me, so I decided to make this a halter style and not waste the neck band fabric. The bodice pattern has elastic at the top of the back piece and also along the whole waistband. I’ve not used the tie back at the waist.
I added swimwear elastic on the inside of the front bands so that the front bands cover me snugly. I kept the gathers on the skirt at the centre back and at the centre front. It’s a summer weekend style so I’ve these gathers too.
What will make this dress more comfortable to wear is an internal bust lining piece. I’ll add this to the next version that you’ll read about later this week. This fabric is very stretchy so it does need more body.
As it’s getting busy for everyone, I wish you and your families a lovely Christmas break. If you’re travelling during this period, please stay safe.

Can you make me a puppy?

Last month at a family get together my littlest niece pulled me aside and asked me this question. How could I refuse? I don’t make toys. I never have. It’s not my thing.

So I sat with her and we found a cute puppy pattern online. She was happy with her puppy choice.

In my weakened state I went to the local fabric shop and bought the fur, eyes and nose.

All the while I kept thinking – I really don’t make toys. What am I going to do now???
So in my search for a back up toy puppy option I jumped online and ordered a soft toy puppy kit from Minerva Crafts via their ebay store.

My ebay order became 2 orders so 2 toy puppy kits arrived home the following week.

My regular sewing took priority as the toy kits patiently waited for me to make them up. Panic kept building inside of me at the thought of sewing a toy puppy. 

Christmas kept looming and so I finally buckled and made up the first toy dog.

I’ve sewn with faux fur before so I used my Clover wonderclips to keep the fur together. The puppy’s fluffy ears came together so well.

Then his little head came together so sweetly. This cute face spurred me on to see how this kit would eventually turn out.

With 4mm seams and no need to finish the seams, he soon had front paws but still no mouth.

I wrote on each piece in pen so I could piece this puppy together as per the instructions. There’s no way I would be able to identify any of these pieces otherwise. The instructions name the pieces and the letter joins to sew so it was important to write on the pre-cut pieces.

The piece above is his little tail ready to be filled. Puppies must have tails to wag.

He’s now ready to make my littlest niece happy this Christmas.

And he has a small smile too. 

I think Mum will enjoy puppy #2 because the fur is so soft. Mum’s at a stage where she finds comfort holding soft pillows, so I’m hoping her new soft puppy will be just as calming for her.
BFF puppies for the family. I’m glad I bought these kits.
I slowly worked on the original puppy pattern (see above), and I feel more confident to be Santa’s helper and make soft toys especially after making these cuties.

Sway back basics

When you make a top/blouse/jacket, does the fabric pool at the back around your waist?

Do you make the above sway back adjustment either above or below your waist? In my case I tend to make this change above the waist and I’ll also be making a second adjustment below the waist.

In Easy, Easier, Easiest Tailoring by Palmer and Pletsch, they suggest the adjustment (tuck) can be made either higher or lower than the waist. They even suggest making 2 small tucks.

So if the fabric pools above your waist, here’s how you start.

On this mini block, I’ve drawn a horizontal line above the waist, where I think the fabric pools the most. Everyone is different so you may need to take photos or grab a friend to help you figure out where the fabric pools the most.

After looking at the pool of fabric, the pool of fabric can be pinned at that point and I need to take out 1.5cm of fabric. Above I’ve folded out 1.5cm above the waistline.

But the centre back still needs to be the same length as the original pattern. On this pattern the centre back is a seam and not a fold.
If the centre back is a fold on your pattern, add seam allowance so you can shape this area better. That’s what I do for knit and woven tops.

So the centre back is now the same length as the original pattern and the dart is still the same length too.

Here’s the before and after shot of making a sway back adjustment to this knit top. The fullness was taken out above the waist.

This pattern needs a second smaller sway back adjustment below the waistline, just as Palmer and Pletsch suggested.

It’s too big

I love using New Look 6977 for quick knit tops, especially when I about 40cm spare from a larger project. That happens a lot.
I’m showing you the back view as it looks sloppy. It’s too wide. The front view is ok but I’m using an 8 and that’s the smallest size this pattern offers.
Above is the original back pattern piece shortened to my size.
Above I’m marking out to fold out the width I don’t need – 3.5cm in total.

Lastly I’m doing an above waist sway-back adjustment. So the fullness is only folded out at the centre back. This fold tapers to 0 at the side seam. No length is lost at the side seam, only at the centre back seam.

Finally I have to ‘true’ the grainline and add centre back seam length at the hem. Otherwise, the back hem rises and I want the hem to be straight.
Here’s the new back piece. The width is a better fit and there’s minimal fabric pooling now.