Archive of ‘Pattern Review’ category

Tova Dress and Top for me!


As soon as I saw the Wiksten Tova pattern I knew I had to make it (I bought the PDF version available here).  It’s my favourite type of pattern; hides the wobbly bits, has a decent neckline (gives me shape but not too revealing) and versatile.  I would recommend it to intermediate to advanced sew-ers.  It is a rather forgiving pattern but the collar is fiddly and I had to make a few alterations to give it some shape.

I love this top with jeans!

First up I made a Tova tunic with long sleeves in Madrona Road (Wild Carrot in Straw) from Pink Castle Fabrics and Aurifil 2000 in 50wt.  It was very easy to lengthen the sleeves, I just measured my arm from shoulder to wrist and added about an inch then cut the sleeves to that length.  I found the top too large around the bust so I added a dart to each side, this took a bit of pinning to get right and they are slightly uneven on my first attempt, but not noticeable.

Tova top with full length sleeves and shortened collar

I really need tops that hide my tummy but don’t make me look like maternity wear.  When I first tried on my tova for fitting I looked like I was wearing a potato sack.  Not cool.  I added 5 rows of shirring (10″ wide and .5″ apart) at the center of the back  which really helped to give my tova some shape.  I also made the collar half the height of the pattern piece, Very Kerry Berry has a tutorial on this step.

Shirring added at center back to give shape

I was so happy with my tova top that I promptly whipped up a second one, this time as a dress using some yardage from the Notting Hill range.

Tova dress; feeling bold ;)

For my Tova dress I broke out some Nottinghill (Primrose Magenta from Pink Castle Fabrics) and stuck with the original 3/4 length sleeves and collar height.  I did make the same adjustments to the pattern (darts and shirring) and made the pattern at the suggested dress length.  Now I’m not one for a short skirt but I love this dress so much that I don’t mind that it’s a little shorter than I’m comfortable with.  I could easily lengthen the hem by an inch but I took up some of the length doing an invisible hem.

Tova dress back with added shirring.

The pattern suggests that you need 3.5 yards, I made a size L and just managed to squeeze it out of 2 yards of fabric with only the smallest of scraps left over (I wouldn’t suggest this and I couldn’t have done full length sleeves, but just so you know, it is possible).  I had fun using a bold pink thread, Aurifil 1100 in 50wt, I figured if the stitching won’t blend in because of the graphic print, then why not let it feature? :)

I find both my tova top and dress so comfortable to wear that I’m planning on making another with short sleeves.  I also think it would be the PERFECT pattern to use as a nightie, I’m thinking I might make a long sleeved dress Tova in flannel for next winter.  In the meantime I have a few other patterns that I’m itching to break out.  These two are fairly straight forward and one actually looks quite similar to the Tova.

Left: Simplicity 2363. Right New Look 6557

I’ve had these for ages but having had such success with the Tova I’m thinking I might try one of these two which require a bit more work.

Left: DKNY V2900. Right: Vogue V1086.

I have a few different prints that I have enough yardage to make myself another dress and I can’t wait.  I prefer to wear clothes by me as they fit perfectly, look good and I feel a little clever ;)  Plus, I NEED to grow my wardrobe.  Seriously.

Once again I’m adding these photos to the Selfish Sewing Week pool on Flickr.  Technically these weren’t sewn this week but they were sewn in September and I did have selfish sewing week in mind.  That counts, right? ;) There are some lovely items being made so make sure you pop over and check it out!

I’m linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Better Off Thread, pop by and say hi to Janice if you haven’t seen this linky before :)

Quilted 241 tote


I don’t remember when I first stumbled upon the blog Noodlehead, but I pinned her 241 Tote ages ago.  I love the shape and it’s a great pattern to use a number of different contrasting fabrics.  I recently purchased the pattern and made myself a 241 Tote to use as a travel bag for my trip to Australia.

Quilted 241 Tote

Almost all of the reviews of the 241 Tote mentioned that it is a little on the small size so I scaled up the pattern by adding about an inch to the pattern pieces (I kept the strap at the original length).  I did try to be clever and increase the print size but that was beyond me LOL  My tote ended up 15″ tall (in the center) and 17″ wide.

I LOVE the blue zippers! High contrast = fun

The bag ended up the perfect size for travelling but probably a little big for an everyday tote.  Mind you I tend to grab my phone, keys and wallet and not even use a bag most of the time!  It would be great as a Mum bag or a diaper bag once you’re not carrying around a HUGE amount, just a lot ;)

I love the pop of blue safety pins on the strap (my inner punk)

Being the quilter that I am I couldn’t resist the opportunity to quilt this baby :)  Using a gorgeous rich red (Aurifil 2260 in 50wt) I quilted one main panel in wonky SLQ and the other in a feather and some pebbles.  I really wanted the quilting to be free and natural rather than perfect and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.  I used the same red Aurifil thread to top stitch all of the sections of the bag and I love the affect.

The 241 tote makes a great travel bag with it’s numerous pockets

I had fun using some contrasting blue zippers and matching kona lagoon whilst using some loud oranges and yellows for the side panels and pockets.  In fact, all of the fabrics that I used for the exterior are favourites and I figured that this way I get to keep admiring them once I’ve used up all the rest in quilts and cushions.

pockets galore, key loop and a magnetic closure

I have a stack of interfacing but these days I much prefer to use wadding for bags to give structure.  I used some scraps (100% cotton wadding) and a furnishing weight fabric for the lining.  The lining isn’t the best match for the exterior but it does the job and saved me from dying of boredom whilst ironing on interfacing ;)

I’m adding this tote to the Selfish Sewing Group on Flickr and I encourage you to pop over and consider joining in.  Whilst I won’t use my 241 tote every day, it is my new go-to travel bag and I LOVE it!  We should all spend a little time sewing for ourselves occasionally :)


A Summer Holiday


It’s been rather quiet around here the past week.  It’s four days since I sewed but I have been swimming at the beach the last three days in a row.   My Dad is here (all the way from Hong Kong!) for a week, it’s 18 months since we last saw him and we’re totally focused on Poppy time.

l'ile aux canard marine reserve
Great snorkeling at l’ile aux canard.  We even saw two turtles on the way over!
The first few days Mr 6 woke at 6am asking if he could wake up Poppy.  Cute.  Well kind of, also somewhat annoying to be woken at 6am when I could have been sleeping in.  The kids are all over Dad and he is loving it.  I have pointed out to him that he certainly wasn’t this cool when I was a kid, but I guess that happens ;)

Watching Mulan after a big day of swimming and snorkeling at the beach
(sorry for the dodgy iPad pic)

Dad is a teacher, one of those teachers that live for the job.  He is incredibly passionate about educating children and I’ve asked him to spend some time with Mr 6 encouraging his literacy.  It’s a joy to see and I only wish he could spend more time with us.
But back to sewing.  Not much No sewing has occurred over the past few days, but I do have a few new things to share.
I made this orange peel block as part of the Curves Class.  I don’t know what to do with it, Dad likes it so I might try and find the time to whip it into something for him before he leaves.  I’m frustrated that the points aren’t perfect in the middle and next time I will pick a smaller print for the “windows” as the charm of this gorgeous print is lost.  I do love the block though.  It was time consuming but worth it.

orange peel block
I finished my February bee block for QCA Bee 1 (we need a better name LOL).  Fiona will use our blocks to make a gender neutral Polaroid quilt to be donated to a 9-12 year old child who went through the recent Tasmanian bushfires.

polaroid block
I also completed a little pattern testing for Kristy.  Her patterns are always easy to put together and look great.  This one is no exception, there are however some fiddly pieces (these blocks are 5″ finished) and I could not make an entire quilt from these blocks.  Happiness is about as far as I could get.  This will be sent to Kristy to put together into another charity quilt for the victims of the Tasmanian Bushfires.

happiness paper pieced
The last bloggy thing I managed before Dad arrived was playing with a new App called SimpleBooklet. I want to play around with it a bit more before I go into the details, but I think it will be great for crafty/quilty/sewing bloggers.  If you look up in the top of the right hand side bar you will see a Photo slider that I put together in about ten minutes (pasted below for the benefit of those reading in a reader).  It doesn’t have many photos in it yet, I just wanted to have a play, but I’m really pleased with it.
Now I better get back to it.  Dad is up and we need to go and buy Mr 6 some flippers today to capitalise on all the snorkeling he has been doing.  I feel like I’m on a summer holiday!

l'ile aux canard
Living on a small tropical island means everything gets shipped in.  The view is only spoilt momentarily.

Sunday Stash and a Washi dress for me!


Earlier in the week I posted about my efforts in tidying up my sewing space.  If you missed it, here is my fabric stash.  There is a little more, but it has been packed away.  This is the stuff that gets used frequently (or that’s the idea anyway)!

This week I received a very exciting package in the mail.  You might remember late last year I participated in the Sew Seasonal blog hop.  I submitted two entries to the linky party at the end.  My original item, this wall hanging:
wall hanging all done

and this tree skirt that which featured Kristy’s paper pieced stars (you can buy the patterns here).

tree skirt
It turned out that I won a surprise prize and boy, what a surprise!  It arrived at night so you don’t get photos of the wrapping, suffice to say I was rather excited to see Kate Spain’s address label on it! :)  Look at all these lovely goodies that are now part of my stash.

Kate Spain giveaway 2
Some Christmas prints.

Kate Spain giveaway
Don’t you just love the hues, seriously to die for!
And the cutest magnetic notepad.

A big thank you to Kristy and Alyce for organising the hop and such delicious prizes! These pretties will rest in the Christmas pile of my stash and be used for my annual Christmas project later this year.  I’m thinking long table runner.  We don’t have any and living in the Southern Hemisphere we don’t really need a Christmas quilt.  I have a while to come up with a project ;)
Whilst my stash is primarily made up of fabrics and notions I do also have a reasonable number of patterns.  Having seen the Washi Dress all over blogland last year I recently added it to my stash.  After a week of not much sewing I decided to focus on me yesterday and found some time to make myself a Washi :)

washi pattern
In my stash I keep some yardage for dressmaking.  I couldn’t decide which to cut into so asked the children to choose between these prints.

dressmaking stash
Ages ago I won some Swedish Tracing Paper from Crafty Mamas, I have to tell you, this stuff is AMAZING!  Really, if you don’t have some, go buy it!  It is so handy, you can use it for pattern pieces but it is sturdy enough to sew and try on; pattern and muslin all in one :)

Swedish Tracing paper
I traced out the pattern onto Swedish Tracing Paper and sewed together the bodice to see how it fit.  The darts were well placed but I felt the neckline was too high.  I need a decent scoop to a neckline or I’m all boob and that is not the look I’m after :)  So I dropped the neckline by approximately an inch and a half.  I kept the little cut out but reduced the depth.  I’m really pleased with the adjustments I made.  The neckline is just right for me :)

Washi front
Feeling like a dill LOL
I might reduce the length, but I was keen to wear it out last night, so I just hemmed it as is and didn’t pay much attention.
I have to say, this dress is super comfortable.  After one wear I have found that because of the shirring at the back, the bodice does move around a little, but not terribly so.  I’m hoping that after being through the drier the shirring will tighten up a little, but is it lovely to wear and it does hide my tummy which is what I was after :)  Nothing like looking pregnant when you’re not *sigh*

Washi Back
Even broke out the heels!
Possibly my favourite feature of this dress is the pockets.  They are nice and deep, just the right height for me, and now I have somewhere to put all of the various treasures that the kids find when we’re out ;)
Washi side pockets
And makeup!
I left the facing loose and didn’t use interfacing on it as the cotton I used is somewhat heavy.  I did sew it down on the shoulder seams.  I really kept everything as simple as possible and I do think that a beginner could have a good go at this dress.  I will definitely be making this dress again and now I know that I like it I might even cut into the Nottinghill voile that I bought :)

Nottinghill voiles
Have you made any recent additions to your stash?  Are you in love with Washi too?  I’m linking up to Sunday Stash over at Finding Fifth.

Finding Fifth

TGIFF… Let’s focus on the awesomeness!


I’m really glad it’s Friday.  Really, I’m glad.  But I’m not feeling the sweet relief of TGIFF *sigh*

I hoped to scrape in my November Wombat Stew bee block for Kristy.  I’m 3/4 of the way there, I’ve designed a Paper Pieced sewing machine block.  It’s big at 10″ x 10″ and I’m loving the machine.  Not so much the stripy wall paper!!  Who chooses stripes when PP???  Not me next time ;)

With that little frustration off my chest (it’s going to be awesome and I love Wombat Stew, I’m just having a few issues with matching my stripes) I can share one gorgeous finish this week :)

iPad pouch inside
Front inside pleated pocket (pen pockets)

I mentioned on Wednesday that I was working on gifts for our teachers for the end of the year.  I’m making both teachers and iPad pouch using this fantastic pattern from Michelle Patterns.  I have to admit, I’m not really a pattern girl, too many words LOL  but this one has come together really well.  The only thing that you should be aware of is that it uses templates, I prefer measurements, but of course you can take these from the templates for future use :)  I will happily use this pattern again and again!

iPad pouch front

I have finished the pieced pouch for Mr 6′s teacher but the second one is only half way there (I decided to jump to my bee block which remains unfinished…).  The finished one is awesome though ;)  So let’s focus on that!

iPad pouch front inside
Front inside

I did a combination of Quilt as you go and traditional quilting using both stash and scrap fabrics including some precious Liberty of London scraps that I bought a while back.  I used Aurifil 50 wt for both piecing and quilting (and had fun using my new colourful threads!) and bamboo batting.  I love how it came together.  Next time I will do more of the dense straight line quilting.  I love the look and it is rather therapeutic :)

iPad pouch back

The text print is really lovely and very relevant for an inspiring and dedicated teacher.  It has a number of sentences including, “The purpose of Life is to grow”, “The essence of life is to give”, “The joy of life is to love”, “The adventure of life is to learn”.  As much as I really love this pouch and dearly would love to keep it, Mr 6′s Maitresse is absolutely wonderful and I am more than happy to give her something that I would love to keep!

I also have to make a special mention of my gorgeous friend Melissa.  Until recently she was my scrap supplier, but she has caught the quilting bug and this week is joining up with TGIFF for the first time.  She has beautiful scraps so I’m hoping to see more gorgeous quilts from her :)  Pressure’s on Midge! ;P  How’s that for friendly encouragement? ;P

I’m linking up with TGIFF at Making Rebecca Lynne.

Upcycling knits – Another pretty dress!


Do you ever buy an item of clothing and later wish that you had bought more of the exact same one? A few years ago I came across a singlet that was so soft and such a lovely shade of pink that I decided to get the same one in a nice dark grey.  Turns out I never really wore them in the end, maybe only once or twice.  But the knit fabric was so wonderfully soft that I knew I had to keep it in my upcycling stash.  Then I decided the other day that Little Miss definitely needed a winter dress and that I felt like sewing with knits so I went hunting through my stash and decided it was time to tackle the matching singlets.

I love Ottobre patterns so had a hunt through my back issues and selected a dress that I decided could be altered to be exactly what I was after.  The Mail Express Tunic from Ottobre 1/2012.  The instructions were easy to follow and the dress came together just as I hoped.

I really wanted a long sleeve, loose and comfortable winter dress that would serve as a tunic next year.  I didn’t have any clear elastic so went with a bit of shirring for the gathering which worked well.

The pattern called for clear elastic tape but two rows of shirring did the job.
Back of dress with gathering visible

Because I was upcycling two existing garments I decided some colour blocking was in order which I think works well.  I didn’t want to bother with binding and didn’t have any ribbing handy so I used a couple of strips of the darker fabric to finish my edges.

Look at those lovely finished edges on the neck :)

There is a great tutorial here if you want a similar finish.  I also found this fantastic tutorial on sewing with knits if you find the whole concept a bit daunting.  After reading the second tutorial I decided to put my project on hold over night and went out and invested in a double ballpoint needle.

I’m glad I did though, look at that lovely flat curved seam!

In addition to altering the pattern to long sleeves, I also dropped the hemline by about 6″, brought in the width and gave myself a headache by using the original hem of the tops.  I have this thing that when I’m upcycling I like to keep some of the original features.  It always makes it harder, but it feels more “upcycled” than “recycled”.  I’m not sure there is actually a difference though LOL

I don’t have any good photos despite two “photo sessions” so this will have to do, sorry!  I hope you like it as much as I do.  It is lovely and soft and is a great weight for our New Caledonian winter.

My Buttercup Bag


You might remember that I am a member of an online sewing group that challenges members to sew an item a week throughout the year.  The first week of each month has a theme, and the theme last week was “Bags; Sewing For Me.”  I had a tough time choosing the right fabric and pattern but in the end I went with The Buttercup Bag by Made by Rae.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I’ve made a few bags before and seeing as my creative time is limited I wanted to make something that I will use a lot, hence my fabric choice.  Plus, part of living in France means that you really need a handbag to match each outfit or you just shouldn’t carry one ;)  There are a few more bags on pinterest that I will make, but I have some gifts that I have to focus on first.
The tutorial is easy to follow and I would recommend it.  I scaled mine up, by cutting it about half an inch bigger than the pattern pieces.  Sure, I could have scaled it up using the printer, but that would involve knowing how to use my printer…
I didn’t really follow the instructions but went went about it the way that was easiest for me.  For example, I sewed on the button embellishment with the machine before sewing the lining and outer piece together (who has time for hand-stitching???).  I also caught the strap between the outer and lining pieces as I wanted a neater look and, for the same reason, I top-stitched all of my seams (I think this should be done for all bags whether the pattern tells you to or not.  It looks good and strengthens the end product).  
Delilah lost inside my bag.  Topstitching a bag this size is possible, just a
bit annoying!  Go slowly and stop regularly to check that you’re not
accidentally feeding two layers through the machine.
I sewed two pockets into the lining (but in hindsight I placed them a little too high) and I had to reshape the bottom of the bag slightly as my lining piece and outer bag piece didn’t line up for some reason…
My trusty rotary cutter came to the rescue and voila! The outer piece
 and lining match up ;)

Would I make the Buttercup Bag again?  Yes, definitely!  I’ve used it a couple of times since I made it, but only when it matches my outfit ;)