Monday, November 17, 2014

Gettin' in the Way...

Well, there certainly hasn't been much sewing around these parts lately has there? I'm of the opinion that this isn't a bad thing though (right?). Sometimes you need a break from doing the things you love lest you get a visit from the dreaded burn out.

David and I have been back from visiting family and hanging out in the glorious Sydney weather for a week today (you can now call me Ms Dr. Jennifer Lauren #notthatkindofDr). I've pretty much tried to avoid the internet and sewing during this past week, mostly because my sewing room and computer have become uncomfortably attached to my leg over the past few months, not from blogging (obviously) but with the responsibility that comes when you release a sewing pattern (or two...). I really love answering emails and questions I get about my patterns - to the point that almost as soon as I get one, I'll answer it within seconds if I'm not asleep and close to my computer (and will be one of those annoying people tap-tap-tapping away on their phone if I have to). I feel a big responsibility to those people who are buying my patterns, and I want to provide the best customer service that I can.

This, however, is sort of leading to a tiny bit of the aforementioned burn out.

While we were away, we stayed with my parents for a long weekend. They live about 20minutes out of the city I grew up in, in a small community filled with native trees and beautiful bird song and are severely lacking cell phone coverage. Now, contrary to what some might think, we don't live in hobbit holes or mud huts in NZ. We're a westernised country with internet, and cell phones and heck, even Starbucks infiltrated when I was still in high school. And this little place in NZ is only a handful of well habited places that lacks cell phone coverage.

I have to admit though, it was lovely. Normally the first thing I do when I wake up is reach over for my phone to check my emails. I couldn't do that there. I had to wait until we'd driven over the hill, into the township to get at my inbox.

In Sydney, while we had internet where we were staying, I didn't have cheap access to internet when we weren't there (and we were very rarely there. We literally came home to sleep, and spent the days catching up with friends and eating our way around Sydney). So, when I may normally have checked my phone for emails or convo's on the train back and forth between various Sydney suburbs, I couldn't, unless I wanted to pay a pricey premium (uh, no thanks...). This meant that I had only set times I could check emails, and most of the time, once we had arrived back to our accommodation, we'd chat to my friends (who we were staying with) and then promptly crash out for the night to get ready for the next busy day ahead.

I've been trying to keep some of the same distance that was forced on me during our time away (and honestly, failing slightly miserably).  But it's been a good lesson in being constantly available. Nobody can sustainably be constantly available.

Life gets in the way, as it should.


Friday, October 31, 2014


Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm going to be away with unknown internet access until Sunday next week. David is graduating with his PhD!

So, if you try to get in touch and I don't answer you straight away, that's why.

I'm looking forward to some warm spring Sydney weather, see you soon...

Photo from my Instagram.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pattern Parcel #6 and some House Keeping...

So, if you've been living under a rock (which I totally don't blame you for, I really need to get one of those...) you may not have been aware that Pattern Parcel #6 (all about the ladies!) is currently out in the world and I was completely honoured to have contributed The Bronte Top to the parcel pack.

Not sure what the Perfect Pattern Parcel is? Basically, you get to decide how much you want to pay for a bunch of awesome patterns while supporting independent designers AND contributing to some wonderful charities all at the same time. Selfish sewing just got a whole new meaning.

In their own words...

Support Indie Designers:
Independent designers create patterns that are innovative, imaginative and in line with current style trends. Their patterns encompass a broad range of sizes and fabulous “out of the envelope” fit because they're thoroughly tested by real people. Indie designers are approachable, providing support, suggestions, publishing additions to your favourite designs, and hosting interactive sewing events. When we are patrons of indie designers, we are supporting small businesses. We are developing the community around us. We are helping make dreams come true.

Support PPP:
We ask you to dedicate part of your purchase to support the mission of Perfect Pattern Parcel. Our mission is to support indie designers, give to charity, and expand awareness to further those two primary goals. PPP funds cover the cost of all hosting and payment processing fees so the designers and charities don't have to. With any dollar we spend as a PPP expense, our goal is to earn that dollar back and then some. Every dollar that isn't used to cover expenses is reallocated to charity.

Support Children's Education:

Donors Choose is an organisation that matches up the needs of teachers and their students for specific projects with willing donors. The funds raised from each Pattern Parcel sale will go to help K-12 students in minimising educational inequality and encourage a community where children have the tools and experiences necessary for an excellent education. From pencils for poetry to microscopes for mitochondria, your support will help address educational inequality and grow generations to come. To date, you've helped us raise over $13,000! 

As of posting this there are currently just over 4 days left to purchase your very own Pattern Parcel #6 before it's gone forever. If you're still sitting on the fence, then let me tell you, the amazing-ness of the patterns contained within has meant that this parcel has been the biggest one yet! So, what are you waiting for? 

In other news, did you see the new Sewing Pattern Directory is now live? Jane has done such an amazing job. And, oh, there's a wee interview from yours truly featured on the front page, you know, just in case you're interested. The Sewing Pattern Directory is pretty much where it's at if you like using patterns produced by independent designers. They feature the ones you already know and you'll be able to discover new ones.

Phew, what a month it's been, and November looks set to be another busy one, but in a whole different way...


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing The Cressida Skirt Pattern

View 1 - Front
View 1 - Back

It's an age-old conundrum for seamstresses across the world - what do you love more? Buttons or pockets? Well, why do you have to choose? Your love affair with both buttons and pockets need no longer be kept a secret, as you show both your craft and love in the ultimate skirt, Cressida.

View 2 Cressida Skirt worn with a Long Sleeved Bronte Top

Cressida is a gently flowing semi-circle skirt with your choice of a single or double breasted button placket, sweet button belt tabs and inseam pockets, which means you certainly won't disappear into obscurity.

Any number of different fabrics can be used to make your Cressida skirt, from breezy summertime linens to cozy woollen fabrics worn tucked up by the fireside. Deep pockets leave plenty of room for hiding all of your treasures, tokens and secret love notes.

It was bound to happen wasn't it? It's no secret my love of a circle skirt and a button or two, so why not combine the lot, add in a pocket and call it a day (or a Cressida).

So, what do you think?


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oh Where, Oh Where have you been...?

Well, I've certainly not been in London visiting with the Queen, though she did ask... *wink*

I haven't really been anywhere to be honest. I've just needed some time out from the ol' blog to concentrate on new patterns and catching up on various things-that-are-all-of-a-sudden-important things. We're off to Sydney at the beginning of November for David's graduation, stopping to see my parents on the way, so there has been planning for that under way. We've been building fences, planning spring and summer vege gardens (while it's been snowing of course...), fixing silly website issues and a whole host of other things.

Ah, patterns :) I've received the feedback for the Cressida skirt, which I'm working my way through at the moment to hopefully have to you next week. The cosy Enid Sweater - I'm just polishing off the instructions (and making more line drawings because I always forget to make one or two) and then it'll be ready for testing. And then a dress. Oh yes, another dress. More on that later.


Pictures are from my Instagram feed - mostly from around our house & garden.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway...

Tailor's tacks are a super little way to transfer pattern markings onto your fashion fabric.

Because they are essentially a loop of thread, they stay in place where you need them to (and don't rub off!) and you can remove them easily, without leaving a trace.

When I talk about using tailor's tacks for marking the horizontal pleat lines on the Dalloway skirt, I'm not talking about the little teeny ones you might use on a bodice (though the technique is exactly the same). Nope, I'm talking about heavy duty tailor's tacks here guys.

They should be at least 2cm (3/4inch) long or bigger to be of any use to you when assembling and pressing in your pleat folds. So, how do you make a tailor's tack for the Dalloway skirt horizontal pleats?


  • Dalloway skirt paper pattern (both the skirt and underlining pieces)
  • Fashion fabric
  • Needle
  • Contrasting thread (using a contrasting thread makes it so much easier to see your tacks!). You can use silk if this if your preferred thread for pattern marking, but I use regular ol' polyester thread.

1. I talk about using 3-4 tailor's tacks per 'line' to mark your Dalloway skirt horizontal pleats. The important thing is that they all sit horizontally, directly on top of a marked pattern line. They do not need to be neat and all matching up to each other between the different lines though.

These markings are there for you to be able to fold and stitch your pleats in accurately and will be taken out eventually, so there is no need for neatness (except along each individual line).

The red lines on top of the skirt underlining pattern above mark out where you might choose to place your heavy duty tailor's tacks. As you can see, while they don't have match up between each line, they are all placed accurately along each line.

You are also more than welcome to use more or less, depending on how confident you are feeling. I have found that 3 is perfect for me, but when I was first testing Dalloway, I think I used 5 or 6 per line!

2. Take your needle and thread it with one long piece of your contrasting thread (you will need to re-thread as you go, so how long you make it is up to you!). Don't knot the end.

Generally you'd double thread your needle for small tailor's tacks, but because you'll be doing so many, I tend to use a single thread.

3. Take your needle, line it up with one of the skirt pattern lines and thread through all layers of paper pattern and fabric (since the skirt is cut on the fold, that will be three layers total). Leave a long tail.

4. Since we're making big tacks, move along the line 2cm or so and come back up, making sure you are coming through the marked line on the pattern. Don't pull too tightly, you'll want a little loop at the back.

5. Go back through the first stitch you made, and then come back up the second - again, don't pull too tightly. Then, leaving a long tail, cut your needle loose.

You've now made a tailor's tack! Repeat these steps for as many tacks as you need before proceeding.

6. Cut the top loops of your tacks and gently remove the paper pattern sitting on top.

7. Gently pull your two layers of fabric apart, being careful not to pull your thread all the way past the top layer (this is why you should leave long tails), and cut to divide your tack.

Now you'll have a bunch of nice little neat rows of tailor's tacks spanning across your entire skirt ready for you to press in your pleats!


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Dalloway Pattern - Grading the Hips

As I mentioned when I released Dalloway last week, grading the hips is one of the trickier things that you might need to do to the pattern. This is because the skirt is one length of fabric, with no side seams.

But that's what makes it interesting right?

When I was making the pattern, I deliberately left a lot of ease in the hips to hopefully accommodate a large portion of people making Dalloway, but with that said, I still completely understand that some people may need more room, while others need less room. So hopefully, this little tutorial will help those of you that need to do some adjusting around that area, and you'll see that it's not too complicated and that actually, the method I'm about to show you means that you can play around with the proportions to get the perfect fit for you.

So, what's the trick to adding (or removing) hip ease in the Dalloway skirt?  Basically, you want to adjust the depth in the pleats along the skirt that shape the waist.

What you don't want to do is move the legs of the pleats along the skirt with the intent of adding ease in between the individual pleats, especially when making the dress, as the pleats match up with certain parts of the bodice. With the skirt version, it probably doesn't matter as much since you're just adding a plain waist band, but moving the pleat legs accurately would be the harder way to adjust the hips in my opinion.

Onward to the tutorial...

  • Dalloway pattern (either the skirt or the underlining pattern piece - it doesn't matter)
  • Muslin or scrap fabric to make up a test skirt
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Cello tape
  • Extra paper if you are adding ease

1. Make up a muslin of the skirt piece using pattern piece D (this is the skirt underlining piece and matches up with the skirt piece exactly once the horizontal pleats have been sewn into the skirt).

2. Work out how much ease you need. Take note of where the skirt is pulling (or bagging if you need to reduce ease). The great thing about adding ease to the skirt my way is that you actually get to choose where you add in your ease. Is it pulling at the back? Or at the front? Add your extra ease here only. Or if it's too tight in general, you can divide your extra ease up and add it all over. 

For the sake of this tutorial, I'm going to say I need to add a total of 2.5cm extra (or 1inch) to the back pleats.

3. Once you've got how much extra you need to add, it's time to divide that number up equally across all the affected pleats.

Since I'm just going to be adding ease to the back pleats only, and there are a total of 6 of them (I've included one side of the side box pleat that sits to the back - though it's totally up to you if you include that pleat, or the entire side box pleat or none of it!!) - which works out to be about 4mm for each pleat (aka slightly bigger than 1/8inch - sorry guys, I'm a metric lady and have no idea how to write that in inches!!).

2.5cm/6 = 0.41cm (I've rounded to 4mm)

4. Now I need to divide that 4mm by 2 because I'm only working with half a pattern and I wanted to add 2.5cm total to my skirt.

4mm / 2 = 2mm

So all up, I'm only going to be adding 2mm to the depth of each pleat (slightly less that 1/8inch). And while it might not sound like a huge amount, as we all know with sewing, the tiniest changes in fitting all add up.

5. Now the fun part! Cut off the top strip of the skirt that has all the pleat markings on it.

6. Cut all the affected pleats in half and pull apart by the required amount.

7. Place paper underneath each section to fill in the gaps and tape up.

8. Tape your adjusted strip back onto your skirt and fill in the extra length added to the end with spare paper.

9. Draw in the new ends of your skirt pattern Sew Lines (including the end notches) then transfer the new markings/adjustments to your other skirt pattern piece.

TA DA! A nicely adjusted skirt pattern. This tutorial works exactly the same for taking away ease, you just want to do the opposite.

See, totally not as scary as you thought right?

Any questions? Please feel free to pop them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them :)