Eek. April is just about over and we’re two sleeps away from Me-Made-May 2014. Have you been signed up to #MMMay2014?

Zo has posted up a few #MMMay14 approaches a few crafters have decided upon this year. My pledge is one of them:
I pledged to wear me-made clothes that I haven’t worn more than once since sewn for the month of May!

Each year when I’ve participated in Me-Made-May, I’ve learnt a lot from each participant about styling, colour and having fun. The meet ups have been fantastic.

An impromptu Pitt Trading meetup in 2012.

So this year there will be some “what were you thinking moments?” – poor fit, not the best style, wrong colour. You know what I mean. I expect a few more makes will go to charity at the end of each week.

Fit and style are what I’m trying to focus on.

My cycling gear will be reworked this year with some duathlon ‘longs.’

There are already over 160 participants on flickr and it’s not even in May. As at 2/5, there are over 270 participants and read The Guardian news item.
Thanks again Zo for running this again for us all.

Minerva make – Back in business

Winter is quietly coming to Sydney and I’m ready for the cooler weather with this ponte mix dress, courtesy of Minerva Crafts UK, with boots.
 But for now, let’s dress for the weather – Australia mild autumn:)

The Minerva kit has it all – Vogue 8923 pattern, fabrics and an invisible zipper. No need to search high and low to make this dress. 

Grab some tricot to line the dress if you like a smoother look.
I’m really pleased that I was able to line up the checks on the front panels. 

I had to cut each panel out one at a time.

Then I had to check the lines.
There was a bit of repinning for a lovely outcome.
This little number is lined with tricot and I’ve added a sleeve band using 3 rows of checks.
If that suits you, try it. It’s not a pattern piece but it’s easy enough to achieve.

A walking foot and a bit of strategic pinning as you sew helped me line up the checks and join lines at the back of this dress.

Look out winter at the work.
In the background is a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Thanks again to Minerva Crafts for providing everything I needed to make this dress work:)
Thanks to Mr V for taking the city photos too.

Postscript: The McCalls Pattern Company recognised the work I did on this dress through my review on Pattern Review  #happydance

Vogue + ponte

This is a Vogue 8923 test version. It really is. 
The give-away clue is the belt.

I’ve placed the sewn in belt at the front because the panels ended up below my hips. A strange stopping point for someone with my height. So I had to cut into the existing pieces (removing 9cm) to have the colour blocks end at my high hip level. 3cm were later taken off the hem.

This dress didn’t need a back zipper but I’ve used the centre back seam for more shaping.

These are all stash ponte pieces that I thought would work together.

Yes. This is a work dress now.

I did a sway back adjustment on the back.
I also added a roll shoulder adjustment.

I’ve used the 3 thread coverstitch for the neckline, sleeve hem and belt detail.

Before I worked on the hem, I read Threads January 2014 issue and decided to practice hand sewing the hem – page 39 in ‘Sew a sheath dress’ article. I always find a technique or two in each issue, but the January issue had loads of techniques I’ve been working towards.

I’ve lined this dress with tricot knit so there’s no clinging to fuss about, or facings used. In case you’re wondering, only the body of the dress is lined and not the sleeves.

I’ll use the black ponte and houndstooth ponte to make the ‘real version‘ – courtesy of Minerva Crafts UK.
They’re a lovely store to work/sew with.

I think I might pop over for the meet up in June. 

Want to join me?

Remnants – my case ‘Your Honour’

Why are remnant fabrics my weakness? Maybe it’s because they’re a challenge. Finding a pattern to suit the amount of fabric I’ve found is a challenge.

Vogue 8815 test using Cue remnants from Pitt Trading

Do remnant fabrics ignite my passion for puzzle solving? Should I see a shrink about trawling for fabric especially when the sign on the basket says ‘designer remnants’?

Original Charlie Brown remnant fabric from Pitt Trading

The case in my defence remains, remnants are a low risk purchase to test a future pattern. Making a pattern fit usually means testing it out. Using calico to test a pattern for knit fabric or stretch wovens doesn’t work.

This Charlie Brown abstract knit looked too big for a shortie like me, but I tried to used the main print where it made sense. I bought this fabric at Pitt Trading a few years ago.

See where the longest part of the print is? I’ve used New Look 6149 for this top.

And I’ve kept the front ‘clean’ at the waist. I love my Minerva black jeans.

Below is the second knit remnant I bought ages ago at Pitt Trading. Both prints were from Charlie Brown. The main buying guide I used was to choose strong colours for possible wearable toiles and at the time of purchase, I hadn’t made the purple skinny jeans below.

Test #1: This top above was my attempt at recreating a RTW top. The shaping didn’t come out as planned. The neckline gaped so I added knit lace so the neckline and armholes sat properly. This print gave me a practice at matching the print at the side seam and balancing it on me.
Test 2: New Look 6940 was tested using this fabric. Again, testing it with this fabric confirmed the fit and I got to play with print placement.

And the Bomber jacket above was made using an Ikea remnant. This jacket is a keeper.

Test 3: I used this remnant again to test the bodice for the PR Winter dress. I wasn’t sure about the neckline or shoulder fit. I was also curious about the waistline.  

So once I put this top together, I had just enough fabric left to put a band at the base of the top.

I rest my case ‘Your Honour’. 

Have a lovely Easter break everyone.

Winifred wonder

Winifred is a simple dress style and I thought this would be a good transitional dress through autumn.

Winifred is designed for cotton and cotton blends, lawn, batiste, shirting, linen voile etc. I felt Winifred could be made for a travel version using fabric that doesn’t crease. 

I’m always thinking of making clothes that are light to pack, easy to slip on and don’t show creases for potential holidays. #futureproject

I do like the back detailing.
 Based on my shape and height, the front inverted pleats needed to finish at the waist and the skirt had to be whittled to be a slimmer, straighter style.
This shows my full bust adjustment and additional pocket
The test version showed me the skirt needed to be slimmer and I went up a size (cough, cough) as the shoulders were tight. I’ve since reused the fabric for the test version. 
Here’s the straighter skirt version using large cotton print bought in Singapore a few years ago.
A bit of careful cutting helped keep this print balanced on this dress. 
This dress is Dolly Clackett worthy because it’s fun. 

Assembling PDF patterns is now just another pattern preparation step in most of my sewing projects.
I ignored the centre back seam to keep the floral print in one piece. The belt was cut with a floral print across it and I’ve used a slim sliver belt buckle.
And as this dress is go easy to wear, it deserved pockets.
Then I dived into the fabric stash and found a blingful, black cotton fabric for this next version.
I did a slight FBA on this version because I wanted more room ‘up top’ and there’s a very clever FBA instruction on the Blueginger doll website that kept the kimono sleeve intact.
The back was placed on the fold and the top of the centre back fold is a minor pleat so the collar didn’t need adjusting.

I love the wing collar! 
This neckline was lowered by 5cm. 

There’s a decent explanation of how to adjust the neckline and collar on Blueginger doll’s website too. 

I didn’t want to shorten the sleeves by hemming, so I used an off-white bias satin tape to compliment the bling lines.
This version was cut out a piece at a time to keep the bling features balanced across my shoulders and on the wing collar. 

Love that wing collar!!!

Duathlon shorts

Melissa of Fehr Trade launched her Duathlon shorts pattern!


Longs, knee length or bike shorts are all in 1 pattern with a neat side pocket panel. As Kbenco said, Melissa choose pattern testers who have the skills to make activewear and who are from all walks of life. And all stages of life like moi:)

I made mine mid-thigh length. So I have a pair for my weekly gym sessions. Mid-thigh length is my ideal length for running up 8 flights of stairs at 6am in the morning, 4 times in a row, in the local car park.

The top is Melissa’s XYT pattern too.
Now I have two black/red versions, a brown/floral version and a blue version. I’ll be to wearing my PB Jam leggings (longs) as soon as it gets cold in the mornings. 

I really like how Melissa’s patterns compliment each other. I only wear the XYT top when it’s hot. 

Technical stuff:
I made the XS size but took out enough room from the centre front and centre back after the first pair were made
There was no need to add extra butt curve as the back waist is higher than the front waist. You need this features as a standard when you cycle.
There was no need to add extra thigh room either!
I lowered the pocket because it seemed to start a bit too high for me.

Money saving:
The mid thigh length versions are a good length to use up leftover lycra for the side panels.

I’ve also made them successfully with a sewing machine and a combination of overlocker and coverstitch machine. You don’t need high tech machines to sew these up in 1 afternoon.

If anyone knows of a supplier of cycling chamoix, please let me know. I want to make proper cycling shorts that I can use for all-day training rides. At the moment, this version without the insert, works fine for indoor spin classes.

I can use a long version of these to wear over a short RTW cycling shorts. So the hunt for reflective fabric is on. It’s handy to have reflective panels on the right hand side when you’re cycling in Australia.

All the best at the London Marathon Melissa!

Winter Street Dress

Pattern Review’s Winter Street dress is simple to make and very adaptable.
Pitt Trading graciously provided me with the fabrics and notions for this new work dress.

Here’s the list of pattern testers showcasing the Winter Street dress.

cleverthinking99.com 4/4/2014 (that’s me)
juliabobbin.com 4/15/2014

Pattern testing is fun as you get to see how the pattern designer quickly adjusts their pattern when we provide our feedback. And it’s lovely to work with such creative people. This is very motivating to me. 

Do have a look at how each sewer has used this pattern to show their own style.

Pitt Trading: Black tricot lining, elastic, brown ponte and a darker brown soft knit with matching thread

And when Pitt Trading were more than happy to provide me with their fabrics, I was floored. And very grateful. I’ve shopped at Pitt Trading for a very, very long time. So I’m pleased we could work together on this dress.


Pattern Description:
Winter Street Dress is an easy to sew knit dress with a waist seam and a narrow pleated skirt. The narrow skirt with inverted box pleats has just the right amount of ease where you need it, resulting in a very comfortable and cute tulip shape. 

The bodice is drafted for a “C” cup. There is a choice of elbow length flounce sleeves or a full length sleeve. You can even make it without sleeves. The skirt is designed to fall above the knee for a more trendy look but it is super easy to lengthen or shorten it.

This time I got the hem length right. Remember how my first Summer Street Dress grew its hem overnight?

Pattern Sizing:
XS – 4XL I made the medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes it did and there are some pretty variations to make. The hardest part is choosing the variation you want ‘the most’. I tried to stick to my plan as I sewed.

See the black tricot lining on the inside?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were easy to follow.
I included a tricot lining on the advice of Sylvia at Pitt Trading. I’ve been adding linings to ponte dresses since then so the dress keeps its shape over time.
It also helps the fabric to glide over you and not stick to you.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This is clever pattern that allows you to mix stable and soft knit fabrics.
The pleating on the skirt above the tummy eliminates fullness that gathers create. That’s a win in my books.
I’ve extended the pleats down the skirt for a flatter look.

The ruffle sleeve (Deepika’s version) makes this a more feminine dress that I’ll use is another version.


The scoop neckline isn’t what I usually wear so I’ll be creating different necklines on future versions.

Fabric Used:
I’ve used a ponte knit for the bodice and sleeve. Then the dress skirt and bindings are made of a softer knit. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I did a roll shoulder adjustment.
The sleeves were sized to full arm length but I tend to push my sleeves up during the day.

Once I’d basted the side seams, I took the waist in a bit more and took more in at the centre back seam.

Here’s the back bodice pattern with a few modifications for a bit more shape.

I added shape at the centre back seam (so it’s not cut on the fold) so I could make the back follow my curves better.

Checking the wall for this weekend’s cleaning duties.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes. I experimented with a soft cowl neckline in the softer knit and it was very pretty. So I would recommend this dress if you have knit fabrics in your stash and you need warmer dresses for cooler weather.

Kicking back

I’ll also try a v-neck version. This is also a good basic knit dress for beginners to achieve a successful dress.

‘Action girl’ pose
I really should stop watching Marvel comic movies.
Waiting for the Sydney’s humidity to ease up so I can wear this dress.
PS. It took me ages to be brave enough to wear these boots after I bought them. And now I don’t know why I waited so long.

* Pattern Review images used with their permission.