Smock/Jumper/Pinafore = Smumpafore

Hulloooo peeps

I was having a bit of a rummage around my sewing pattern drawers and I came across this oldie but goody from ages ago:-

Simplicity 9757

Simplicity 9757

I’m not sure how old it is but I think it must go back at least 10 years. Why do I think this?(I hear you ask in amazed wonderment) – because if you look carefully you can see that the sizing on this pattern is XS,S, M.  It is pretty fair to say that about 10 years ago I would have bought patterns with this sizing.  However, as I have slowly inflated over the intervening years I have upgraded to larger sizes to fit my more interesting shape.

Anyhoo, I had quite fond memories of making the good ol’ 2 hour jumper.  It puzzles me why it’s called a jumper though.  It doesn’t look like a jumper.  I think back in the olden days this style was called a pinafore or a smock.  But then again I could be wrong and I may be the only person who doesn’t call it a jumper.  I am also fairly sure I didn’t make in 2 hours back then and I still can’t make it in 2 hours now!

It’s a very straightforward pattern and besides adding about an inch to the side seams (to compensate for extra wobble) I didn’t make any other adjustments.  I made it up in a stretch cotton sateen from Spotlight.  In hindsight I probably could have used something a bit stretchier but this print was a done deal for me as soon as I saw it.  Here’s what it looks like on me:

OK but a bit bleh...

OK but a bit blah…and not feeling the love

I was only so-so happy with the final product.  It looked ok but I kinda felt that something was missing.  I wasn’t sure what it needed and any jewellery just seemed to disappear into the pattern.  I tried a scarf but that just looked ridiculous too. Just as I was about to give up I remembered a vesty type coat I bought last year.  A bit more rummaging around and voila!

This feels better

I think it looks better with a vesty type coat


Looks better with a vesty type coat

Yep definitely happier with it now

And that’s about it really.  Winter is pretty much over now.  I may not get heaps of wear out of my smumpafore  (smock/jumper/pinafore) this year, but I can always drag it out next year and see how I feel about it.

Would I make it again? Yes I think I would but next time I would use fabric with a bit more stretch.  I would probably make it a bit longer too.  I didn’t mean for it to be so short but as often happens my enthusiasm, patience and actual skill levels got a bit carried away.

Now for the really big question – Is it a smock, a jumper or a pinafore?  Or is it just a good ol’ smumpafore?

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Working on my American accent and let’s make leggings

Howdy Y’all

I came back from my US holiday a few weeks ago.  Gawd its a shock to the system to come back to reality after a great holiday.  I loved our trip to the States and can’t wait to return.  Unfortunately the Aussie dollar is sliding down faster than knickers with worn out elastic so it might be a little while before I get back there.

One of the highlights of my trip was a whole week in New York.  I had a list of “usual suspects” landmarks I wanted to visit  like Central Park, Greenwich Village and  the Statue of Liberty,  but I also had a list of sewing related places which were “must see”  places just for me. I loved them all and in no particular order here they are:

The Big Button in the garment district

The Big Button in the garment district

Mood Fabrics - love it!

Mood Fabrics – love it!

1062 1063 1068 1069

Garment District

Garment District


Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art


Before I go any further I should thank my husband who trudged all around New York with me and patiently waited while I drooled, gawped and gazed.  Honestly visiting these places was like the cherry on the cake for me.  Totally gobsmacking, brain freeze awesome!

Since I arrived home I’ve been fiddling around doing all sorts of things but obviously not sitting down and writing my blog.   Finally the brain is in gear so it’s time to crack on.

Earlier this year I bought some “groovy” stretch lycra from the Fabric Store in Brisbane.  I wanted to make leggings which I thought might be a bit of a “stretch” ( ha!) for me.  I checked out Pattern Review, did a bit of Googling and settled on Papercut Patterns Ooh La La Leggings.  This was also a PDF pattern which I had never used before. I was a bit wary of all this but jumped off the cliff anyway (as you do).

Assembling the PDF pattern was pretty easy, I must confess I’m not a true convert but if you have to stick a pattern together this is a good one to start with. The instructions are easy enough to follow and for a leggings virgin like me it was great that it all came together pretty well.  Here’s what they looked like when I finished:

Leggings finished and working

Leggings finished and working


Leggings finished and resting. Ellie our poodle is wearing her I’m impressed face.

These leggings are really comfortable and I’m very happy with the fit.  Seven weeks on holiday and a very inactive winter has resulted in a “fair bit of puddin’ under the skin” so I think these leggings will get a good workout over the next few months.

Now what’s next on my list…

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How does my garden grow? Well it’s got a few weeds but that’s ok with me!

I love a good flower. I’m not one of your weirdo obsessives though. I don’t walk around every day with flowers in my hair (although I have been to San Francisco and it was really good) and I’m not a flower power tree hugging hippy.

If only I looked as good as this I might become a flower power tree hugging hippy!

Maybe if I looked as good as this I would seriously considered becoming a flower power tree hugging hippy!

When it comes to flowers I like to grow them, I like cut flowers in my house, I like pictures of flower gardens full of flowers, I like finding them growing wild and I just love being given bunches of flowers. In other words stick a pot on my head and call me Daisy!

I’m also no shrinking violet when it comes to buying fabric with flowers on it.  I have been known to purchase the odd metre or two or three of floral fabric. Of course once I buy all this fabric I drool over it and stroke it gently while imaging the fabulous garments I will create. After that I shove it away in my stash until I can’t remember what type of fabric it is, when I bought it or even how long I have owned it!  Oh sewing is so much fun!!!

Anyhow that’s pretty much how I came to choose this fabric for a skirt I am now making – I know it’s cotton and I think I bought it on ebay but that’s about all.

Bloomin' marvellous

Bloomin’ marvellous

Because I am two seconds away from being some kind of sewing whizz genius I am using my own self drafted pattern block for this skirt.  I actually made this pattern block a few years ago.  It still fits pretty good ( I have gotten a little bit chubbier since 2006 but let’s not talk about that) and with a few slight adjustments, a couple of tweaks, some good guesswork and a promise to myself that I will soon be back in my totally awesome 2006 body shape again, the pattern was good to go.  Too easy really.

After what seemed like days and nights of concentrated thought I came to a momentous decision – I’d step out of my comfort zone and let my head go by… LINING THIS SKIRT!  Waaaa! Talk about a walk on the wild side!  Life doesn’t get much more exciting than this.  What can I say – I’m a thrill seeker who likes living on the edge.

Once I made the decision to “posh up” this skirt with lining it came together really quickly. As you can see below it looks ok so far. (notice the steel and plastic bits inside me and I only have one very skinny leg -lol bet you weren’t expecting that)

Nearly finished

Nearly there

View of the lining - so posh!

View of the lining – so posh!

It’s not quite a done deal. I Googled how to add the lining (is there anything that Google can’t do) and surprise surprise I didn’t stuff it up. I also had a bit of trouble with the invisible zip. It didn’t look right the first time or the fourteenth time so back to Google again to get it right.

This fabric always brings a smile to my face and for that reason I think I will wear this skirt a lot. Maybe its a flower thing!

I have started making a top to wear with it but that isn’t finished yet either. Two projects not finished. Do I hear the words uncommitted,  disorganised, a starter not a finisher, slack brained bubblehead???  Nooooooo!

The reason both of these projects are not finished is because I have gone on a holiday!  When I started making them I was in Brisbane but right now I am in the good Ol’ USA.

This girls at Graceland y'all

This girl’s at Graceland!

I’m having a little holiday but I’ll be home soon.

Take care y’all

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Once upon a time in fairy tale sewing land…

First up I’ve been sewing but not blogging.  There are probably many reasons for this. All of them closely linked to what I have been working on and best explained as a modern day fairy tale.  It goes something like this…


Once upon a time there was a middle aged slightly deluded woman who dreamed of making a princess line dress with piping down the princess line seams.   The idea for this dress swirled around in her mind for many months.  However there were always other things that needed her attention. Finally, after singlehandedly bringing in the harvest, tending the livestock, digging a well and raising a barn she took the ultimate step and committed to making the much dreamed of dress.

To select the fabric for the dress the deluded woman visited the magical fabric cave that existed in a recently renovated room of her humble four bedroom, two bathroom castle.   On close inspection the magic fabric cave revealed a beautiful blue fabric that looked just perfect and would surely make the most wondrous princess line dress in all the land.

Blue fabric suitable for wondrous princess-seam dress

Blue fabric suitable for wondrous princess-seam dress

With scissors, pins and a magical machine the  deluded woman toiled for many long hours to perfect a gown of great design and beauty.  Such was her concentration the livestock wandered off, the well caved in and the barn collapsed.  But did she notice? No, for she was far too busy with her sewing!

Finally the time came to show her dress to a wicked, wicked, appliance known by some in the land as ….the iron. Now the iron was reasonably new to the castle and could be temperamental, some might even say SPITEFUL!

Exhibit A:  Spiteful Appliance aka The Iron

Exhibit A: Spiteful Appliance aka The Iron. Notice the nasty point at the top!

As she obediently pressed seams and ironed on interfacing the wicked iron pretended it was the deluded woman’s friend.  It used its evil sorcery to convince the deluded woman that she didn’t need to use a pressing cloth.  Until at a fateful moment it struck with swift and unbelievable vengeance!


Exhibit B: A re-creation of the crime scene.

Wailing and cries of distress as never heard before echoed throughout the humble four bedroom two bathroom castle. The wondrous dress was ruined, for shiny patches and worse (a scorched hole)  had appeared on the front panels and on the shoulders of the dress.  The deluded woman thought about this for a while, grieved slightly and then did what all deluded, reasonable and fair-minded women throughout the land do – she took her  scissors and cut it up!

In her frenzy of destruction the deluded woman had the presence of mind to cut/hack out the piping. (She wasn’t sure why she did this but it seemed like a very good idea at the time.)

Exhibit C:  All that remains

Exhibit C: All that remains

The carcass of the dress was flung into the rubbish never to be seen again for it was truly too horrific to be gazed upon.

The deluded  woman was momentarily  miserable. So many questions – Why didn’t she  use a pressing cloth?  Why didn’t she realise that  this fabric while lovely to sew had enough synthetic fibres to make it one step away from plastic  cling  wrap? Why was she foolish enough to trust the nasty evil iron?

But then she bounced back.  Let’s make another dress she thought. This time with a cotton fabric  that may crush a little but  would not be suitable for wrapping sandwiches in.  And so she did. And here it is.

A slightly deluded middle aged woman wearing a no drama dress. Apologies for the squinty face but it was sunny that morning.

A slightly deluded middle aged woman wearing a no drama dress. Apologies for the squinty face but it was sunny that morning.

The gods were smiling on the deluded woman and the dress sewed up a dream with no dramas or wicked tricks by certain appliances.  The deluded woman has comfortably worn this dress many times.   In fact she now thinks that she likes it more than any other dress in all the land.  Even this…


Still deluded 🙂

And so peace and harmony reigned once more throughout the land…

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Like a camel through the eye of a needle Part II…the sequel we had to have

Hey everyone

My sewing room is done.  To be honest it was done about 3 weeks ago but “slack attack buttercup” has not done a blog post (hang your head in shame woman!).

Anyhow moving right along, I’m really pleased with how my room has turned out.  You may remember that I had a big pile stuff that you can see here, and I wasn’t sure how it was all going to fit back into my sewing room.

Well voila!

Sew tidy!!

This is the dress I am currently working on

I have to thank my husband for putting all the pics and shelves up on the walls.  He has been very patient with my. ..”just there, no not there – here” type of instructions.

Jean Paul G. and I have had many discussions about how I can improve my sewing 🙂

I keep favourite patterns in this old dressing table and others in a big filing cabinet.  I think I have too many patterns!

Patterns in here

Patterns in here

See everything put away neat and tidy!!

See,  everything put away neat and tidy!!

When I started this project I really wanted to get rid of anything that I no longer wanted.  I was pretty brutal in throwing out or donating things that I had no use for.  What I discovered along the way was that this type of clearing out was actually quite liberating and once you get started it’s a bit addictive.  So now I have started cleaning out other rooms in my house in a similar fashion. I find myself looking at things and asking myself “keep it or bin it?”  It’s all very enjoyable and I’d better stop rabbiting on about it because I am putting myself to sleep:)

I should add that one of the the best things about cleaning out your sewing room is all the great stuff that you find. For a while there it was like Christmas morning and my birthday every day!  I found beautiful fabrics that I had packed away in boxes and forgotten all about.  It also gave me the opportunity to gather all the laces and trims that I had collected over the years  and store them into one box.  I did the same with zippers and interfacings.  Who is Little Miss Organised now?  Yes that would be me!

You may also recall from my last blog post that cleaning out my sewing room revealed a slightly disturbing fixation with cane baskets.  I’m not sure how common this fixation is but I believe I could be a strong contender for President of the Cane Basket Collectors Club.   I am now happy to report that all of the offending cane baskets have gone to better homes.  However in my haste to get my room operational again I overlooked this little beauty…

She's a cheeky little number that sits quietly and minds her own business!

She’s a cheeky little number that sits quietly in the corner and minds her own business!

Oh well nobody’s perfect 🙂

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Like a camel through the eye of a needle

Sometime last year we decided that my sewing room needed a  make-over.    All of my “bargains” and “good sewing buys” over the years had accumulated to the point where I couldn’t find anything. However, while this was both frustrating and annoying, I also knew how big a job it was going to be to clean out my room and get it ready for a make-over.  After a couple of months of thinking about it, for  some unknown reason last week we decided to get cracking and just do it. (Don’t ask me why but that’s how things seem to happen in my house.)

To get started we spent half a day pulling everything out of what is actually a pretty small sewing room.  This in itself was quite shocking because it really brought home how much stuff I had squirreled away in there.   When I saw everything sitting in a pile in my lounge room my first thought was – HOLY CRAP! Why have I got so much stuff?  My next thought was HOLY CRAP! How did I fit this much stuff in there?

Just some of the stuff that came out of my sewing room

Just some of the stuff that came out of my sewing room


More stuff

More stuff that has to come out of the room

After staring in stunned disbelief I slowly came to the decision that some of this stuff just had to go (not rocket science I know).   I should add here that if this heap of stuff had been plonked anywhere but the lounge room it may have been easy to ignore it for a bit longer.  But alas no.  When you have to tip-toe a path through to the kitchen you know you are in trouble.  I also had visions of a camera crew showing up at my house and asking if I’d like to be on an Australian version of “Hoarders – Women who buy too much sewing stuff!!!”

The task of getting rid of stuff actually became quite liberating once I started culling things I knew I didn’t need.  For example cane baskets.  For some reason I seem to collect these like crazy cat ladies collect… cats (obviously!) I mean why have one cane basket if you can have three? It didn’t matter that they weren’t holding anything particularly important. With my new found determination to deal harshly with excess baggage, I calmly consigned all three of the offending baskets to the recycling bin.

For some reason I thought that cane baskets were the secret to good sewing!

For some reason I thought that cane baskets were the secret to good sewing!

The next big job on my list is to start sorting out my fabrics.  I have a sneaky suspicion that once I start this job I will find out that I have enough fabric to make a pair of shorts for half the population of Brisbane!  I’m not sure if I can be as ruthless with my precious fabric as I was with my cane baskets though. I mean to say you have to draw the line somewhere….

A sewing room make-over is not a job for the faint of heart.  However, now that we are about to commence painting (by that I mean my husband will start painting) I’m starting to get excited.  How excited do you ask?  Well it’s a toss up between a fourteen year old who has just won tickets to a One Direction concert and that feeling you get when you can do up your jeans without having to suck your stomach in!!!

Hopefully my next post will show you my finished sewing room in all its glory.  What’s that I hear.. someone has a cane basket they don’t need…sorry gotta go 🙂


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Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition

Hi y’all

Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria one word…AMAZING!


This is a book cover from the exhibition so its a bit blurry.

This is a book cover from the exhibition so its a bit blurry.

Fascinating to see clothes and costumes made for Madonna, Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Amy Winehouse, Dita Von Teese etc.  I was just blown away by how creative this guy is and the whole set up of the exhibition was just gob-smacking!!!  The only problem for me going to see these kinds of fashion exhibitions is that I really want to touch the clothes and see how they look on the inside.

In my last post I said that I hoped this show was as good as the Valentino one that visited here a few years ago.  Well the word is YES it is!!!  I just wish it was on here in Bris Vegas  so I could go and see it again.




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Hang onto your coconuts…it’s hula time!


Well hello 2015!

I’m slowly easing into what I know is going to be a pretty hectic year  – my Mum’s 80th birthday, my parents 60th wedding anniversary plus we are planning an overseas holiday.  On top of all of that I also have a full time job, books to read, movies to watch, recipes to try out, vegetables to grow, flowers to plant and poodles to love!

Just reading all that makes me think I will be lucky if I get to sew a button on a sock this year. However, I have made a pact with myself to sew two outfits each month. The only months that are excluded are May and June which is when I will be on holidays.  Of course making myself stick to this pact may require a good dose of “Suck it up buttercup” but I will give it my best shot.

As promised in my last post I have made a dress in one of the bright and colourful  floral cottons from the Fabric Shop at Robina.  This is how it turned out.


I feel like I should be holidaying in Fiji or Hawaii when I wear this dress.  It’s quite comfortable and I think I will wear it a lot this summer.  I altered my pattern block to make a princess line dress with the princess seams starting at the shoulders rather than from the armholes.  I think you can see this a bit more clearly in these photos.



I’m wearing sunglasses because it was a hot and windy day and then it got cloudy and crappy.  Definitely not the best day for taking photos.

While the final product is not purrfect I think I am getting there. I still need to work on the neckline a bit more before I am satisfied with this pattern.  I also need to improve the fit somewhat because although it feels comfortable it wrinkles a bit.  Or is that more to do with the fabric???  On the plus side, one of the best things I found about using my own pattern block  was that the curved princess seams sew together like a dream.  Sometimes on commercial patterns I find that these seams can be painfully frustrating to put together.  But with my own pattern block I had no problems whatsoever.

I’m finding that I enjoy pattern making. The whole process is challenging but in a good way (thanks Alison).    I have also been watching  Suzy Furrer’s creative darts and seam lines  course on Craftsy.  Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!  Gotta love the internet.

And another thing…

Reading – One of my daughters bought Vivienne Westwood’s autobiography me for Xmas.  I didn’t really know much about Vivienne apart from all the punk stuff, but this book is excellent.  She is quite the amazing woman.

Watching – I went to see St Vincent with Bill Murray last weekend.  Loved it 🙂

Interesting – Check this out Vogue models as barbie dolls So clever and takes me back to my own childhood and also when my girls were growing up and playing with Barbies.  Some of these models really do look like Barbie dolls in boxes.  My favourite is the Louis Vuitton.

Well I’m off to Melbourne for the weekend.  Hopefully I will get to check out the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery.  If it’s anything like the Valentino exhibition we had here in Brisbane a couple of years ago I will be …. beaming, buoyant, beatific and blessed …yes I have a thesaurus 🙂

Gotta go!









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Out and about

About a fortnight ago I ventured down to the Gold Coast and visited the The Fabric Shop  at Robina.  This shop has a good range of quality fabrics that anyone who likes to sew will love.  It also has helpful and friendly staff which makes the fabric shopping experience so pleasurable .  I was really drawn to the range of bright cotton floral fabrics which are perfect for our hot summers.

I bought some of this…


and some of this…


I couldn’t resist this..


and didn’t want to miss out on this…


and I just loved this…


which altogether looks like a big heap of this!


As you can probably guess I left the Fabric Shop one very happy sewing lady 🙂

I can’t wait to start sewing with these fabrics and have already decided that the first cab off the rank will be this…

001So hang onto your coconuts its hula time!

By the way…

There are some excellent fashion exhibitions on display around the country at the moment:

Brisbane has scored really well with 30 Years of Japanese Fashion on display at the Gallery of Modern Art until February 2015, and Costumes from the golden age of Hollywood showing at Queensland Museum until May 2015.

The National Gallery in Melbourne has an exhibition of The world of Jean Paul Gaultier until February 2015 and Adelaide has Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the Musee Des Arts showing until February 2015.

They all sound fantastic.  I went to the Valentino exhibition in Brisbane a couple of years ago (actually I went to it 3 times!) and loved it.  Hopefully I will get to see some of these exhibitions too.

Time to get on with my sewing…..







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Baggin’, draggin’ and saggin’

My latest dress has been an interesting experience that I hope not to repeat anytime soon.

It all started when I decided that my next sewing project would be to make a dress using just my dress pattern block. I’ve had this pattern block for quite some time, but somehow I always seem to get side-tracked by patterns that I just have to make up.  So with a cotton fabric that I really liked and a dress block that I was convinced should almost sew itself, I was pretty confident that this little project was going to be easy. So easy in fact that I decided that I would also have a crack at altering the pattern so that it had a square neckline and an exposed zipper in the back. I could barely contain myself when I purchased a beautiful metal zipper that I was certain was going to look the business in the back of my dress.

Everything was going strictly to plan – alter neckline so that it is now square rather than round (yes), cut out the pattern adding the correct amount of seam allowance (yes), create facings to match neckline and armholes (yes), sew darts (yes), interface and sew facings (yes). This is all going along so brilliantly, I am the world’s greatest sewer! Sew in the zipper……..

WTF! Beautiful metal zipper is way too heavy for my cotton dress! First thought – rescue this situation by interfacing the seam allowance for the zipper (maybe it just needs some stabilising and some support). Duh no, its way, way too heavy. Second thought – ditch the metal zip and go for a black invisible zip. Of course this required unpicking the metal zip, very depressing not to mention effing annoying!

After a few moments (1 hour) of soul searching, I sewed in a black invisible zip. It looked okay but there was never going to be any deep feelings between us. I finished off the dress and tried it on in front of the mirror. Enter baggin’ draggin’ an saggin’! The dress of a thousand sins -it gaped at the arm holes, it bagged out at the back, it made everything about me look saggy, baggy and draggy!


Yuk! This pic does not show how bad the fit really was.

Baggin' and saggin"

Baggin’ and saggin”

What to do? I was really disappointed in how this dress had turned out but I didn’t want to throw it in the cupboard never to be seen again. I knew the problems were largely fitting problems so I asked one of my sewing friends to fit it too me and help work out what was wrong. After some discussion we realised that I had stuffed up the facings. Of course to fix this required a lot more unpicking, recutting the facings and unpicking the zip yet again. I eventually got there (thank you Ansey). It’s only in retrospect that I also realised how well behaved this fabric had been during all these marathon unpicking and resewing melodramas. Way to go cotton!

This is better

This is better


Note to self – spots do not photograph well!

It’s taken a mountain of patience to make this dress but in the end I think it was all worth it. I’m not sure if the style is really my thing but I learnt a lot about fit, zips and altering my pattern block and that’s what really counts. (I also learnt a bit about calmly accepting that something has to be unpicked…but let’s not go there!)

Oh and another thing…
As part of my love of sewing I have been collecting toy sewing machines for a while now. On his recent visit home to Tasmania my husband Chris picked up this little beauty.  It’s a Vulcan Minor made in England. I’m not sure how old it is….possibly from the 1950s or 1960s?? The box is a bit tatty but the machine looks brand new!

How cute is this!!

How cute is this!!

My next project is a black and white skirt that I have been wanting to sew for a while. Hopefully I will spend more time sewing and less time unpicking!

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