About Me, Not Sewing

An introduction is probably in order…

Apparently I've now had this blog for a month, and I kinda just jumped straight into posting. I figured some kind of introductory post was probably in order.

This is going to be a 20-questions style of thing, but firstly…

'Hi, I'm Rachel, and this is what I look like'

😂 true fact – that's a $4 million smile 😁

📸 courtesy of my colleague – and I promise we had well and truely earned those beverages

Age: Somewhere in my 30s. There's a prize somewhere if you get it right – apparently I look younger than I am 👈🏻 cue supremely unimpressed younger sister…

Home: Beautiful, sunny, Brisbane, Queensland, Land Down Under. A lazy 6km/ 4 miles from the beach 🌊

Day Job: I work for a very large international consulting firm (and we're not joking when we call ourselves 'the largest company no one has ever heard of'). I work in Business Development, with just a few large key clients.

Dream Job: Already got it 🤓👍🏻🤓

Sewing Philosophy: I sew because it means that I can wear clothes that fit well, without needing to wear tanks or singlet tops for modesty. And, because I sew for me I can wear whatever colour and print that takes my fancy.
I wore this to work on Friday – my colleague's only comment was 'Why aren't you wearing your gold shoes?'…

Fabric Stash: 🙈🙈 sitting at enough for 144 outfits at the moment, which is way more than usual – my excuse – I shop much faster than I sew 🤷🏼‍♀️

Shopping philosophy: I buy with projects in mind. I don't just buy fabric without it being for a specific project in mind. I wander the store looking for fabric that inspires, work out what I'm going to make and buy enough fabric for the garment I have planned.

Washed, packed and ready to make…

Currently watching: Mixing it up between Criminal Minds and The Great British Sewing Bee. Apparently here in Australia we're second class citizens and have to watch episodes of Sewing Bee on YouTube

Currently making: I have a Carolyn Pajama production line happening at the moment.

PDF or Printed: PDF all the way. In fact next up in the queue is a dress that I have the printed (on tissue) pattern for, and I'm feeling like I'm a little out of practice at using tissue patterns – the tracing off, then the adjusting of traced-off patterns. I'm so used to taping PDFs together!! Also PDFs are the quickest way to get most patterns here, waiting for shipping from the US for indie patterns too hard!!

Furry Friend: Aliyah is the fur-baby in my house – when she's not curled up on her bed in the sewing room, she likes to sleep on my freshly laundered fabric before it gets ironed and packed into the stash. I've given up trying to keep red hair off my clothes – I just don't have a hope…

Sewing Traits: I don't have an overlocker/ serger so I finish all of my seams with bias binding. It takes a little longer, but I love the fact that the insides of my garments are as neat as the outside. I make all of my own bias tape from the leftovers of the fabric from my garments. I have amassed a pretty amazing collection of bias tape, and sometimes I use totally contrasting binding inside my clothes. Always that hidden bit of fun

One-at-a-time, or WIP: I'm a one at a time kinda girl. I do have a Haptic Labs Paris Map Quilt I'm working on in fits and starts as well, but by and large it's one project at a time for garment sewing.

Irony: I quite like ironing freshly laundered fabric, don't mind ironing as part of the sewing construction process, but, ironing the clothes coming off the line before they go back in the wardrobe, not so much… Unfortunately, as I sew pretty much exclusively with cotton, everything needs to be ironed or it looks terrible…

True Fact: Adjusting sewing patterns requires far more maths than you'd ever think… adding from here, taking from there, circle skirts. I usually save testing new patterns for Friday nights and the weekends so I have time to mess around with the adjustments. There's usually a fair bit of consulting google, sew-alongs, and pattern reviews during my adjustment process. But the time investment is totally worth it for the final fit! ✂️

I don't make: Underwear and tights, they're the only things I wear I don't make, and don't really plan to make. I haven't made dress pants, yet – but I have a pattern, fabric, and have had a go at pajamas as a precursor, but have yet to actually tackle dress pants. I'm somewhat procrastinating because I have a feeling that I'm going to spend quite a while messing around with the fit… 😳

Sewing for others: Really not my thing… although I am about to embark on a 'special project' that will require sewing for a couple of others, generally I find it far more enjoyable to sew for myself. Sewing for myself, even with all the maths and brain power required for the adjustments is relaxing, sewing for others where I'm worried about it fitting someone who I can't just try it on then and there – not so much…

Something I want to master: Sewing knits – it's not something I've really attempted, mainly because I don't have an overlocker, so I wasn't sure about finishing edges. But, I've been doing some research, and I found some knit on the clearance table at Spotlight, so I'm going to give it a go, soon, it's in the queue… 😬

All the earrings: Apparently loving and wearing colour and prints in just my clothes isn't enough for me – I also love wearing outlandish earrings. Late last year I discovered a jewellery brand in Canberra that make earrings that brooches that suit my style – bold colours and shapes, aren't heavy in my ears and I'm not allergic too (boo for a nickel allergy). I can be wearing anything 🦐🐛🥑🦀☂️🌩🐕 in my ears depending on what colour or print I'm wearing in my clothes 😍


Earliest sewing memory: Me doing the sewing would have to be making 'quilts' for my Barbies on my Grandma's sewing machine, I was probably about 4 or 5. My quilts involved sandwiching batting of some description between to bits of material and 'machine quilting' it with straight lines all over the place – no binding, no basting, no matching edges – but I thought they were works of art… my Barbies would probably have been better off with washcloths as quilts.

I grew up in a home where my Mum sewed the vast majority of all of our clothes – she designed a lot of them too and embellished them with magnificent smocking or embroidery. Mum and I often had matching outfits, and when my sister came along she became part of a matching trio… until I became a teenager and matching your mum and little sister wasn't cool…

Owning a sewing machine and having the ability to sew is normal for me, but I've come to realise that growing up in a home where this skill was essentially normalised is something of an anomaly for my generation, I hear and read of so many around my age who never touched a sewing machine until well into their 20s when they taught themselves to sew. It's made me appreciate everything I learnt when my Grandma and Mum took the time to teach me sewing. Those skills have given me an incredibly solid foundation which I'm now able to build on with more advanced adjustment and construction techniques.

My Grandma passed away about 5 years ago, and a number of years prior she moved from her house to a nursing home. At that time I inherited her Singer sewing machine that she'd had since at least the 1950s. I pulled it out last week and it appears to still work, although I think I'll be hunting up instructions to remind myself how to thread it…

Look at it!! 😍 Hopefully I'll be able to make something on it soon!!


Monthly Roundup, Sewing

Make Roundup – July 2017

It’s the end of July and I thought I’d do a post with a round up of everything I made this month. I didn’t realise how much I got done!!

  1. Style Arc Amber Top – new pattern
  2. Grainline Morris Blazer – new pattern, managed to make this twice in the same month!
  3. Seamworks Delavan – repeat make
  4. Cashmerette Harrison Shirt – repeat make
  5. Style Arc Candice Skirt – new pattern
  6. Christine Haynes Varda Top – new pattern
  7. Grainline Morris Blazer – repeat make.
planning, Sewing

My journey of Skirt

As you can see from my recent fabric shopping haul I'm on something of a skirt journey at the moment. I haven't worn skirts for years, I was convinced they didn't suit me. I think mainly because I was always buying and wearing skirts like these…

In fact I've made View C of that pattern and it has languished in my wardrobe for over a year and never been worn – it's now in the 'donate pile' to see if it belongs in someone else's life.

Clearly yoked skirts that are form-fitting down to the hips then flare out with any kind of volume are just a no-go on me 🙅🏼🙅🏼

During my wardrobe planning exercise back in May (away for work with no sewing machine – I bought a LOT of patterns 🙊) I challenged myself to work out what I wanted in a skirt and to find at least one pattern that ticked my boxes…

Much time spent was trawling Pinterest, Google image search and Instagram before I settled on a the design elements I wanted in my skirt:

  • Waistband to sit at my high waist, but not so high it was empire.
  • Pockets (naturally 💁🏼)
  • Box pleats
  • Zip waist not elastic.

Once I'd worked out what I was looking for it actually wasn't as hard to find patterns that ticked the boxes.

First up – the Upton Skirt hack. How convenient that I'd already picked the Upton as my 'Woven Sleeveless Dress', and the hack didn't involve purchasing any more pattern pieces, just the download of some instructions from the Cashmerette Blog (well done, economical me!).

My next find was the Style Arc Candice, which surprise, surprise is very similar to the Upton Skirt, but with less volume, and stitched down pleats.

And last but not least (for now, anyway) is the Style Arc Emily. Not at all what I thought I'd find when I started my skirt hunt, but it ticks all the design boxes, and I'm interested to see how making it up goes – the front panel looks like it may require a Masters Degree in Origami to get right…

Challenge Accepted 👊🏻


So, last Saturday I bought fabric, again…

I swear, I was only going to look at batting to work out what I needed to get for when the Haptic Labs quilt kits arrive. I had decided that I was also, maybe, going to get a border print of some description to make my muslin of the Style Arc Candice skirt interesting, but that was going to be it!

Until I walked in the door… πŸ™ˆπŸ™Š

The shelves at the front of the quilting cotton section were filled with newly-in Birch Fabrics including the delightful Dolfun print, and the moment I spotted them I knew I was pretty much sunk.

I need to explain (and I promise I’m not using it as an excuse!). I do 99% of my fabric shopping at East Coast Fabrics. They’re a Fabric Clearance Centre, and there a 4 of them across Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. My local store is Lawnton, and I’m not sure what it says about me and my shopping habits, but all the ladies there know me, and ask about my projects… Because they’re a Clearance Centre it’s quite possible for them to sell out of a particular fabric and it be gone, never to be back again between one visit and the next. So, when I see anything I love I get it, because I’ve been caught before seeing something newly in and thinking I’d be able to get it next time, and then it be gone for good… 😒😒

All of that is to say I bought fabric… a lot of fabric… and they are now all washed and sitting on the ‘ironing chair’ (that’s a thing, right?) ready to be ironed tomorrow and added to the stash, each with their destiny already determined (mostly). There may or may not be a theme.

Clockwise from the top left these will end up being: Candice skirt (muslin, this is the only piece of fabric I was supposed to buy!), Upton Skirt, Upton Dress and an Amber Top.

Again, clockwise from the top left: Candice skirt (won’t be as full, they didn’t have quite enough yardage left, but that was it, all gone), Upton Skirt, Maven French Dart Shift (or if I can manage it in the amount of fabric I have, the short sleeve top version of Christine Haynes new Varda pattern), and an Emery Dress.

Maven French Dart Shift or hopefully a Varda (this will actually probably be what I use for the muslin of that new pattern), Candice Skirt, two Emery Dresses – orange print outside/ teal lining, and a pink bodice/ cherry blossom skirt version, and last but not least, another Upton Skirt.

If you guessed that the theme of this trip was skirts, then you would be 100% correct…

Much as I love wandering the aisles and being inspired by all the pretty fabrics, I think I’m banning myself from East Coast this weekend – I do not need to add anymore to the stash! And besides, I want to finish the Harrison I started last weekend (just cuffs, buttonholes and buttons to go!), and start the muslin of the Candice Skirt – can’t wait to wear a breakfast themed skirt πŸ˜‚ that’ll be a first for me!!


Decisions, Decisions

Saturday morning I couldn’t decide what my next make was going to be. Not because I didn’t like any of the fabric in my stash, but because I love all of it, and choosing what to use next is hard. Just look at them, so pretty ☺️ (and this is just a selection πŸ™ˆ). 

My quandary wasn’t helped by the new fabric I bought on Saturday (more about that later). I bought fabric for a skirt pattern I’ve been wanting to try, but needed to wash it before I could start playing with it!

I resorted to the good old ‘pick a name out of a hat’ routine to solve my dilemma. I put the name of every pattern I have (and have fabric for, washed and ready to go) into a container, shook it up and pulled one out.

The Harrison shirt pattern was the winner, and as luck would have it I already had one already cut out, woohoo!! So I was able to get sewing again.

I know what my next project is going to be – that skirt pattern tester, now that the fabric is washed – but I think I’ll keep my little box of pattern names handy for the next time I’m feeling overwhelmed by having too many choices! 


Hotel Room Hand Sewing

It’s looking very much like I will have to be in Wellington, NZ for most of August for work.

Now, I know from experience that when I travel for work I don’t have time to do real sewing – as in, ‘no, you weren’t imagining it, I really was issuing draft docs at 3am’ – so it’s not worth hauling my sewing machine along, but the work I do when I’m traveling is incredibly brain intensive and I just need a little something to occupy my hands while my brain winds down at the end of the day. 

On other work trips I’ve tried cross stitch and knitting etc., but I’ve found that anything that requires extensive counting or looking back and forth from a pattern is a recipe for absolute, total disaster.

Then I remembered a post I read on the Cashmerette Blog about a hand stitched quilt, and after some googling I’m thinking that a quilt kit from Haptic Lab may fit the bill. Anything so I don’t spend hours trawling Pinterest for pattern ideas and then spend ALL the $$, buying ALL the patterns. I still haven’t gotten through all the patterns I bought the last time I was away for work!!! πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ

Haptic Labs – Constellation Quilt

I’m current dreaming of the large constellation quilt as a throw in navy blue with red stitching for the constellations and the Milky Way of French Knots done in a matching navy, hmmmmmm 😍😍

I sense a trip to the fabric store on Saturday to scope out batting options – I’m leaning towards a thin one, my plan is to use it as a throw-type thing rather than a bed quilt. To that end, I was thinking about how much fabric and batting I’d need to get, working out the shopping list… I’d read the dimensions of the large one online as 72 x 72 inches, and thought ‘yup, that sounds fine’, so I typed ’72 inches in cm’ into google and the little calculator thing told me that was 180cm… okaaaay, right, so, that’s just a little bigger than I thought it was going to be… apparently my brain didn’t register that bit in the size description section where it said that the large would work as a Queen Bed Coverlet… This may be a project that takes just a little longer than just this trip!!