Minerva make – McCalls 6898

Florals – a classic style choice when Spring comes to Sydney. And Spring is here and so is my latest floral shirt using a lovely floral print and clever buttons from Minerva Crafts using McCalls 6898.

McCalls 6898 shirt and Vogue 1204 jeans
This is an ‘unassuming’ shirt style ie. plain. Although it’s almost Laura Ashley meets military style. 
I love these buttons.

Styling advice for petites usually states using small prints. I’ve seen this advice a lot so when I saw this print at Minerva Crafts in June the colours and print drew me to it.

This fabric washes nicely, irons easily, is lovely to work with and easy to wear all day. This print comes in four colourways and I was really tempted to use the purple colourway but this red/blue/cream combo won out. These colours seemed to reflect the English countryside we were experiencing at the time.

The real reason I wanted to use this fabric was to include it in my business casual gear but to also team this with suits too. Hence using the long sleeves and simply the collar band.

Back to the pattern
This gem has A to D cup sizes so if you’ve been forced to do an FBA on most patterns, this is a handy pattern to have in your stash. I gravitate between B and C sizing so I’ve used C size so that I don’t feel restricted during the day. Yes there a bit of room in this shirt but because it’s for work, I like to wear shirts that don’t cling to me. Personal preference.

Length changes
This was easy but needed some thought. I’ve shortened the sleeve just below the elbow to keep the markings for the cuff.

I’ve taken the length from the lower pieces again to keep the hip shaping. Here’s a link to the petite tech post for this pattern. It’s pretty straightforward (simple) to achieve.
Used french seams and bound the sleeve seams together.

Pleats or gathers?

I chose pleats again. I’m not a ‘gathers gal’ at the best of times but this fabric gathers nicely.

These are so cute and they just about match the size of the print. They’re adorable to me. And you really can’t see them with this print.

See how the buttons blend into the print.

How could I resist a sign like this???
The fabric is such a good shirt weight, both this pattern and fabric would lend themselves to a shirt dress. I intend on using this pattern again by extending the hem for a dress.

Tech post – McCalls 6898

An unassuming shirt can be turned into any look you want. So I chose McCalls 6898 that the lovely Lynelle bought for me on her trip to Sydney this year. I couldn’t let this pattern sit there for too long and gather dust.


 From the line drawing, I liked the waist shaping.


And I fell for this floral print to get me into Spring. It’s very English to me.

Cotton print from Minerva Crafts
The reds and blues are on a cream background. The fabric is a lovely shirt-weight and irons nicely. You should see how nicely the french seams look too.
Pleats not gathers
There are gathers on the lower shirt pieces and on the sleeves. I opted for pleats.
Shortened lower pieces
Petite points
Sometimes I simply take off the length at the hem. This time I decided to take off the length at the hip level because I wanted to keep the shaping. So the length came off just under the notch point.
Shortening the sleeve

Again, I took the length off under the 3/4 sleeve hem to keep the shaping at the cuff.

This actual shirt – you’ll see it later this week.

Colour Run Sydney

Summer sewing interruption:
I took part in the Colour Run. This is a 5K charity run/walk event. Don’t get this confused with fabric colour that bleeds when it’s washed. There was no way I was going to miss running with the family.The kids had a ball. Having the opportunity to get messy with the colour stations along the way and being given colour dust to get more messy at the end was such fun.

The crowd warming up before an 8am start sans colour.

Ever since Melissa put out her XYT top and PB jam leggings, and the fact lots of people have getting fit as a New Year’s resolution, I’ve been wanting to make the XYT top again with some stash exercise fabric. Any excuse to make another XYT top and the Jalie skort below.

Everyone wears a Color run white t-shirt and you whatever else you want. Tutes, Butterfly wings, crazy wigs – it’s a community event. I was advised to wear another top under the t-shirt to protect my skin from becoming garishly coloured.
On this skort I used the floral print on the side pockets. There’s no elastic in the waistband.

And I finally got to add the gripper elastic to the legging hem, gifted to me by Sarah.
I did a sway back adjustment on the centre back seam of the skirt and the leggings but cut the skirt pieces on the fold. 

My first blue version felt short so I added the 5 cm on the hem of this new version. This first version needed gripper elastic on the legging hems so I’ve now added the elastic to it.

The built in support was wonderful. I had enough of the floral print to make the Y version of the XYT top.
Well there wasn’t enough length for the long top so I used piping in brown to add the extra pieces on the shoulders.
The back skirt is a bit a-line.
Dear fashion police, please overlook this whole matching set. I promise not to intentionally do this again. Unless it looks good:)
The XYT top is long for workouts. 
But I can wear the top shorter for weekend wear. The whole outfit was great for the Color Run.
This is as color messy as I got. My nephew enjoyed throwing colour dust on me.  I’ll spare you the not pretty post-event shot – It’s not at all pretty.

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!!!

Spring shirt – McCalls 5433

This blouse is sitting on top of its sister shirt dress.
Most of my tops are knits and now I’ve gone back to making blouses using wovens and adding sewing techniques I’ve learnt y’all in the online sewing community and Peggy Sagers webcasts. She’s been doing free sewing webcast since December 2010 and I sew my collars using her method.
I still wear my green skinny jeans a lot.

This blouse has cap sleeves from Butterick 5328 but they were widened to sit out from my shoulders.

Butterick 5328 cap sleeve version

The cap sleeves on this blouse was tight fitting but not anymore. I’ve used french seam finishes and bias binding on the sleeve seams.

‘How do you do’ pose.

Did I tell you this fabric has a 2-way print? There was a two-way arrow sticker on the fabric and I couldn’t tell which was the right way on this print no matter which way I looked the fabric.

The nice thing about this pattern is that it has the dress extension on the main pattern pieces so you don’t have to cut out two bodices for the dress and the shirt versions. Thanks for asking the question Rebecca. I’m flattered when I see others pick up ideas that I’ve used. I pick up ideas from sewing bloggers all the time.

Resisting fairy floss at the Easter Show.

You should see all the great fitted blouse entries on Pattern Review! This is the final week of the contest that I’m managing. The contest closes on 31 March.

This view convinced me that I need to shorten the blouse and I have. See below. I took it up by 3cm.

I’ve now entered this blouse into Faye’s 2013 essential top sew along.

The story about these Purple Pins is to come…

Spring shirtdress – McCalls 5433

This print fabric has strong colours and reminded me of the orchids in Singapore. I bought the fabric locally and it was the first shirt dress I made this month, before the vintage military dress.

This blue work version made earlier is worn to work (a lot) so I had to make it again. The original plan was to simply make just the shirt.

Well, I ended up making this floral dress instead. What can I say. My planning skills are fluid.

This little floral number was lined with stash fabric and because the lining peeks through at the collar, I added a super quick facing from leftover floral fabric.


The close up shot below shows a hint of flowers on the inside at the neckline. The last minute facing worked. Every seam is either french seamed or self-made bias bound. And I added the purple bias for colour and a vertical line. We petites know why.
Notice the cap sleeves. This sleeve pattern was traced from Butterick 5328. When I originally used this cap sleeve, it was tight so I widened it by 2.5cm for more movement.
Here’s a ‘lean against the wall’ shot. The cap sleeve does peek over my shoulders – just as I wanted. It’s really cool to wear on hot days.

And the ‘yes it covers my caboose’ shot – not flattering. Back to the gym I go.

There is a shirt version in this fabric but I’m working on the deep purple skinny jeans to go with it. That might sound like tos much colour but you can let me know when I show you the final ensemble.