Twister dress

More craft camp sewing! More of that one same shirt dress!!

I bought this fabric from Lincraft because it reminded me of a shirtdress I had when I was a kid. I suspect handmade by my mother or grandmother, it was a twin of this one

I'll probably give the socks and sandals look a miss, though.
I’ll probably give the socks and sandals look a miss, though.

but with 80’s coloured spots, like this



So yeah, clearly throwing the ‘do I look like a child’ caution to the wind.

I wanted to make a couple more M6696s (natch) but I wanted to try a couple of fit changes so I thought I’d use this fabric first. That way, if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t be too upset since it has limited wearability anyways.

The main alteration was at the neck. I took a small wedge out of the pattern at the centre front. Just under 1cm at the top, tapering down to nothing. Then I took the original pattern piece and traced the neck curve, so that it is the same length but angled further down. I was pretty apprehensive about this because I was making it up as I went along but it seems to have worked and totally eradicated the floppy, loose collar issues I was having before. What a difference half a centimeter makes, huh?

My adjusted bodice on top of the original

Adjustments from last time include doubling the vertical dart and moving it 1.5″ to the left (although I forgot this when I traced it off this time, and had to re-add it), armscye shape changed by taking a dart out of it and then closing it up and retracing. I also added an inch and did the centre front/collar adjustment I’m talking about. I’m not sure I don’t still need a bit more length in the bodice, it’s still sitting on my ribs rather than my actual waist, which makes it a bit tight when I’m sitting. But when I look at my black voile one it looks too long in the bodice at the front, and that was the unlengthened pattern so… I just am not even sure. What is this, is it a fabric choice thing? A bust thing? I have now shortened the back a couple of cms, and lengthened the front 1cm, and the front is STILL longer than the back.

Despite not setting it properly before taking photos, that collar is still sitting so so much nicer.

I also traced the horizontal dart a couple of cms higher, which I am not totally sure is right, but seems at least better than where it was before. I re-traced the whole pattern piece and forgot that I’d initially moved the vertical dart over by quite a lot, so the dart is in the wrong place in this dress. It’s not terrible, but just not really where I want a dart, either visually or in terms of shaping. I’ve made the fix change on the pattern piece above now so we’re all good for next time – you can see how different the placement is.

I need to trace the skirt pieces, and I also need to spend some time thinking about how I’ve adjusted things because I made the front dart a lot deeper, so the front skirt piece is now too big for the skirt. It would be good to iron that out and trace off a correct pattern, because for the last two I’ve just adjusted the depth of the darts on the fly. Which works ok, I guess that’s the benefit of a pleated or gathered skirt, the fitting of it can be independent of the bodice. But it’s not a really exact way of doing it. I also just winged it with the back, I simply lined up the side seams, found the CB, and made a pleat on the fly. So it doesn’t really matter how big the back is, as long as it’s bigger than the bodice.

Wussy little back skirt pleat. I think I could do with making that bottom pleat two smaller pleats, maybe. And I could also do with being more neat and precise with my gathers (but, eh) AND with checking my collar is sitting properly before taking ding dang photos.

I cut the waistband between size 20 and 22. And it’s a bit tight still. I’m not sure about this, it’s maybe the fabric? [shakes fist at imaginary gauge swatch] The fabric is fairly polyestery and doesn’t have much give at all. It was ok to sew with but not as nice as cotton. It’s from Lincraft’s ‘sunprints’ range, and I have no idea what makeup it is. You can see strain where there isn’t strain in my other two version of this pattern, including noticeably the arms being way to tight to the point where, when I take it off, it hangs off of my arms like some kind of trapped cape, and I have to either ask for help getting out of it, or jump up and down swearing about it until I can shake it off. Or both.

The above photo demonstrates both the strain lines on the bodice, armscye (STILL) and arm hems, and also the fact that I’ve given up on the freezing outdoors for photos, AND got a camera remote. So welcome to a glimpse of my craft area and also sorry for the deadface – the remote is pretty finicky and I’m still working out how to use it and also make expressions at the same time. Those strain lines make me think I shouldn’t have taken that centre front wedge out, but it sits so much nicer now so??

Demonstrating how I need all that room in the back,

I did the contrast button band to break things up, after a quick poll of the craft campers. I probably would have struggled to get it out of the fabric I had, anyway. The fabric was pretty narrow, so I couldn’t cut the full width of the skirt.


I cut the back on the fold to give myself a bit of extra room, too. When it came to the pleats I winged it (wung it?) again in a highly unscientific way, so they are a bit wonky and small and weird. At least they all point the same way this time, and the skirt still seems plenty full enough to me. I also used plain white fabric to back the waistband, the collar and collar stand, because the fabric is see through and if I used a double layer, the dots peep through. I thought about underlining the whole thing but couldn’t be bothered, and besides, I’ll probably wear this with just a white bra and light coloured bike shorts in summer, and who cares? It’ll be floaty and nice (although I am wearing a black bra + white thermal singlet for this, because I couldn’t be bothered to change.

You’re welcome. I also couldn’t be bothered ironing it. Keeping it so real.

I do wish I’d spent more time thinking about how the dots sat on the waistband, but I was too busy trying to make sure they weren’t wonky because they are slightly off grain, and I didn’t think about centering them or anything. But maybe random is better? And I am cross that I forgot to put the dart in the right place.

That dang dart

I also, annoyingly, put the snap for the waistband slightly too high, throwing the whole dang placket off, and didn’t notice until they were very very securely hammered in. Note to self, you can be sloppy about a lot of things, but a placket is NOT ONE OF THEM. Ugh it’s so annoying. I’m going to put a press stud or something in between those yellow and red snaps.

The snaps I already had from sewing baby clothes
The snaps I already had from sewing baby clothes

Putting the press studs on was what took me a whole two months (and then it took about ten minutes). It came home from camp totally done except for that. I wasn’t particularly motivated because it’s too cold to wear it. I also should fix the tight sleeve hems and the wibbly bottom hem which I just dashed off in a rush, but technically it’s now done.

All in all, this is a pretty silly dress. I don’t know how much wear it will get, being polyestery and also a bit transparent, and definitely NOT work appropriate. But it was good to work out some of the tweaks I needed for this pattern, and man. I am so not blind to all of it’s flaws but the bottom line is, those spots make me stupidly happy.

I’m calling that a win

Craft camp knits – two bonnies and a moneta mashup

Hello all! Last weekend as I write this was craft camp, which was a joy as usual. There were so many lovely people, good laughs, wonderful story sharing, and delicious food – which everyone so thoughtfully made sure was gluten free for me, which I appreciate more than I can say. Thank you so much to everyone. The only downside was that we all missed Janet, who couldn’t make it. It really wasn’t the same without you, Janet! I’m trying in general to be better about recording what I’ve made. Last craft camp I went to look up a pattern I’d made to check for adjustments, only to find that I’d blogged that I sewed it, and would blog the adjustments later. And then didn’t. Useless! It’s also more useful if I blog soon after making because I can still remember every little thing. I’ve split things up a bit to make them easier for me to find when I come back to look for them, instead of in one massive craft camp post (although this still got long because that’s how I roll). So! The knits!

Yes, I know there’s a thread there. I’ve left it pending fixes but you would have thought I could have snipped it for photos, wouldn’t you? Nope.

The first day I sewed the solstice dress, and it was clear by the end of the day it was not perfect. So I decided to sew some knits to get some quick projects out of the way. So obviously I decided to do this by cutting out the flimsiest, drapiest knit. The fabric is a beautiful merino knit from the Fabric store. It’s so warm and lovely to handle and the colour is just gorgeous. It’s also made out of broken promises and fairy farts. Suse’s Elna which she lets me use at camp wasn’t having a bar of it. Julie very kindly let me use her modern Bernina while she sewed on buttons. Even then it was a real struggle, especially when it came to anything where I needed to stretch while sewing. As a result the band is… eh. And one sleeve is more puffed than the other. AND I hemmed the sleeves just slightly too short and I don’t think the fabric will stand unpicking.

You can see the right sleeve (left in the photo) is gathered and the other isn’t. Also more armscye pulling but it’s pulling or pooling so I’ll take pulling, although maybe I could go up a size in the shoulders.

Anyway, it’s a Bluegingerdoll Bonnie, view B but with the long sleeves. I wanted some cropped jumpers to wear over dresses at work, because the ones I have are all an inch too long if I wear anything at my true waist, and they ride up and annoy me. I initially bought the Seamwork Astoria pattern and taped it together, but I couldn’t find many examples on the internet yet so I wasn’t sure how it would look. Then Cookin’ and Craftin’s post about her Astoria also reminded me about Bonnie. I was worried that my thin fabric wouldn’t look good as an Astoria, but there are lots of thin, lovely Bonnies. I already had the pattern and I know the Violet dress works well for my body, so I went with that.

Wrinkle wrinkle wrinkle.

The pattern is lovely and simple and well put together. I didn’t particularly look at the instructions other than to glance at the construction order, via the diagrams, but they seemed as well organised and helpful as the ones in the Violet pattern. Which is to say, very. Fitting wise, this is a total mishmash. I cut a size 14 for the shoulders, and graded the armscye out to a size 20 for the front, 18 for the back. The front I graded down to 18 at the waist – so it’s a size 20 bust and a size 18 waist. The neck is a size 16, and the sleeve have a size 14 sleeve cap, size 20 everything else. It seems to have worked out very well for me! Although perhaps I could go a 16 at the shoulders, but then it does sit perfectly when my arms are at rest, as is. I feel very pleased that I am starting to get to know what fitting changes I need to make, right out of the packet. It sounds like a lot of changes, and I did write it down so I could refer to it while tracing, but it really is the easiest way ever to adjust things. I also cut the waistband at the sides, rather than a long band meeting in the back as the instructions say. I did this by accident the first time, by not paying attention to the instructions, but I repeated it the next time because I like having the side seams meet up, rather than side seams and then a back seam. Although maybe the instructions have you put it at a side seam. Did I mention that I didn’t read them? I SHOULD have graded the back seam up for my swayback, since it’s sitting right at the crucial point. I didn’t, though, and ‘compensated’ by getting huffy when it wasn’t working and sewing another wonky seam higher up, so it pulls even MORE.

Possibly the worst seam I’ve ever sewn. UGH look at that mess! But when I tried to unpick it it basically started disintegrating.

I am planning to go back and use my walking foot to do a new band, and perhaps sleeve bands also. Because it is very nice and I would like to wear it but as it is I would not wear it out of the house. Objectively I don’t think it looks totally awful, but I still wouldn’t buy it in a store or anything. It’s too wonky and I wouldn’t feel put together. Although actually looking at these photos I wonder if it maybe IS totally awful. I’m not sure the light knit is working as a jumper/overshirt. I have more in other colours and I think it would work well as a long sleeved shirt to go under things, so I might try that later. The next one was in a black, fleecey-backed merino knit, also from the fabric store.

I swear it doesn’t look so noticeably wrinkly irl. Or are they the kind of wrinkles that you only notice on your own clothes?

Which I like very very much. I avoided puffy sleeves by eyeballing it and cutting a little wedge out of the top of the sleeve cap. It worked out pretty well. I also cut the waistband in between the ‘self knit’ and ‘ribbing’ size. I think I probably have a wider waist than the pattern is designed for, it still sits snug but now it’s not tight or puckering where it meets the top. I can’t recall if I adjusted the back for my swayback but it does look like it. In between the two I made a moneta-mash. I finally caved and bought this even though I have similar patterns, like the lady skater. Or any other knit bodice that you could easily put a simple gathered skirt on. However, I wasn’t super happy with how the LS sits on my shoulders. The shoulders are too wide and want to fall off, and the neck sits too loose. I could do more fitting but I just bought Moneta to try first because every. Single. One I’ve ever seen has looked just amazing, and on a massively wide array of bodies. And I’m so glad I did because the bodice might be my platonic knit bodice. I only made minor adjustments on this one. Based on my measurements of high bust 41″, full bust 46″, waist 41″, I cut a size XL at the bust and L everything else, so, the bottom edge of the front armscye is XL, and front side seam starts as XL and ends at L. The back is cut as a straight L. And obviously I didn’t line it, because I had a fleecy backed knit and I wanted that against my skin.

The fuzzy guts of the black Bonnie, to show you the snuggly fabric
The fuzzy guts of the black Bonnie, to show you the snuggly fabric

It’s super nice to wear. So so snuggly. The sleeve and skirt hems are turned and zig-zagged because I didn’t have a twin needle, and I think zig zagging looks fine on a stable knit. On a floatier knit it gets wonky but it’s fine on this. I finished the neck with a ‘self-drafted’ band. That is, I cut it at about what I thought was the right length, and tested that it was tight enough before sewing it on and top stitching it. The sleeves are obviously the longer ‘3/4’ sleeves. These are NOT 3/4, yo. That’s not what that word means. I think next time I’d shorten them by 1/2″.

Sorry for the death glare. It was bright.

I also subbed out the skirt for a lady skater skirt. I’ve seen other people do this with great success (sorry I can’t find any examples right this minute! If you know of some please let me know in the comments) and I just felt that the gathered skirt was a bit casual/young for me. Maybe for a floaty summer dress. They don’t line up perfectly, the bodice is smaller than the skirt. I eyeballed it and cut the skirt longer at the top, but then of course it was too tight on my waist and the seam popped. Duh. I unpicked it and compromised, so it’s maybe an inch longer than the original skater pattern. Then I decided that the waist was too high, which made it too short and gave me a weird shape, so I unpicked it again and added a waistband, It’s actually the Bonnie waistband, cut in half horizontally. I probably could have left it, the knit has stretched out a bit and added some length, but I think it still would have been high enough to bother me. Next time I’ll just make the bodice two inches longer. And there will definitely BE a next time. I am in love with the look of this bodice. Between Bonnie and Moneta I think I have some go-to knit bodices. I need some long sleeved tops, I’ve noticed I’m not wearing my skirts because all my tops are summer weight. I’d really like to make a few of the full length Bonnies, and I think it would make a great basic tshirt pattern, too. Here are some bonus photos of me talking to S while he takes the garbage out/comments on my poses.

Solstice dress, part 1

The first order of the day when I got to craft camp was to sew a solstice dress. I’m hosting a solstice dinner a week from now (obviously, since that’s when solstice is) and told people to wear something sparkly or bright, knowing full well that I myself have a regrettable lack of such things in my own wardrobe. So I bought this plastic fantastic fabric from spotlight’s ‘Frozen? I don’t know what you’re talking about, they’re just snowflakes, right next to this strategically placed princess dress pattern’ line. I was initially planning to make it into a shirt dress but then I decided that was not really a classic party dress silhouette, so I thought I’d make a binge dress out of it. It’s obviously pretty sheer so I bought some light blue lining fabric to go under it.

So plastic. So shiny.
So plastic. So shiny.

My idea was, being the dress I’d sewn a bunch of times, I could just bang it out and be done with it. This was technically true. I cut it out and sewed it all up on the first day of craft camp, which is NOT a full day so… four hours or so probably? Without a zip, because I wanted to do that at home, and without hems and finishing on the neck and arms because I want to do that with bias binding or ribbon so I won’t be scratched by the fabric, and I didn’t have any on me.

I’m just holding it together in the back, no zip yet, so obviously it’s not sitting totally right. Also it’s crinkly from having been in a Glitter Exclusion Bag.

But… the pattern let me down. This is the dress where I couldn’t wear the last one I made without seam allowances, because it was too big. Idk about you but THIS looks like a dress with double seam allowances, to me.

I’m wearing this over my newly made Moneta, which is now beglittered.

I just don’t even know. If this were knitting I’d be swearing at my lying gauge swatch but as it is…

Trying to demonstrate how much extra room there is at the back. At least 2 inches extra in the seam allowances.

I am still debating whether to just make the zip have 3” seam allowances, or whether to unpick it. I was leaning towards unpicking because the bust darts are in totally the wrong place, but man. I am not excited about it, lemme tell you. The fabric is surprisingly ok to work with except that it does NOT gather well – it doesn’t give at all so it just folds up all dense instead of bunching together like a natural fabric would. And it also is already kind of tearing where it’s sewn. Perhaps poor needle choice? I am just a bit worried about how it will take unpicking in such an obvious area. And while the bust dart placement looks utterly terrible, I’m not sure non-sewers will notice. Or am I fooling myself. I DON’T KNOW.

Trying to demonstrate where the side seams are falling. They’re about 1/2″ back from where they should be.

I also wish I’d picked a darker underlining. I think this looks objectively better than any of the darker colours I tried but… I think if I’d gone dark blue or even black it would have been subtler (I mean… as sublte as a sparkly snowflake dress is gonne get) which is a bit more my style, and it might even have gotten more than one wear. As it is it’s an extremely limited use dress and I’m not sure it’s going to get worn more than once, which makes me very hesitant to spend much time on it.

Given that it’s Sunday night and I only have one free night this week and the dinner is on Saturday… it’s looking like ‘whack a zip in, call her done’. And actually, although these photos are obviously totally hideous, the bust dart doesn’t look as stupidly placed as I felt like it did. This may or may not be fooling myself. Updates to follow.

Craft camp catchup

Guess it’s time for my yearly blog post where I go ‘so I’ve been to two craft camps and made some stuff and I never blogged it’.

I really wish I’d managed to blog these sooner, because when I blog right after craft camp I can remember the flavour of it, when I made what, who had input, bad jokes we made, all of that. Now I can barely remember whether I made something in March or June.


March craft camp I started off with some quick and easy knits. I’d just bought the Lady Skater pattern after seeing it all over the internet and noting that it looked good on just about every single person I saw wearing it. I cut the largest size and muslined it (I can’t remember what fabric I used for that though) and ended up adding 3cm to each side, tapering out from the armpits. I like knit tops to be tight but I find it uncomfortable when they cling to my stomach, so that’s where I wanted extra room. From my notes it looks like I made the dress first.

No idea where I bought the black fabric. Spotters I guess? I’d forgotten to bring clear elastic so I used regular old elastic on the waistline. I’m glad I did, it does need the support, but it makes it a little bit less comfortable to wear. I noted at the time that I thought the waistline was too low, but I didn’t go back and take length out because the skirt is hitting me exactly where I like it to. If I made this again, which I would like to because it’s a very nice dress to wear and a really well drafted pattern, I will take a centimetre or so off the body and add two to the skirt length.

As you can see, though, the neckline is too wide. This was the case with all of these but I didn’t figure out how to fix it until the next camp. In fact, I didn’t figure it out at all – Sue suggested that I cut a size or two smaller on the shoulders. It’s wearable as is but I do find myself tugging on it a lot. I cut long sleeves, but when I cut the muslin the sleeves were too long to add the cuffs to, as the pattern required. So I cut them shorter, and then they were somehow shorter this time? So if I’d put the cuffs on they would have just come to my wrist bone. So I just hemmed them, and the bottom hem, with a double needle.

Next up I made a lady skater top in the same fabric.

I adjusted the shoulders by sewing the seam at an angle, so it starts at the same place on the arm side, and then tapers in almost 2cm at the neck side. Surely there is a neater way to say that? Also I added 1cm more to the sides, for a total of 4cm. I left the sleeves at the ‘long’ length and as you see they are over my wrists.

Same problem with the neck, and the top has stretched out, so that it’s a bit daggy to wear now. I have worn it pretty constantly since I made it, to be fair. I still wear it, but mostly under things. Here it is a couple of months ago, the photo is blown out but at least that means you can see it.

Heaps of bagginess at the shoulders. Ugh that’s annoying. At least this one doesn’t bother me when I wear it, only when I look at it. I also made a short sleeved version which got lots of wear until I tucked it in the back of a drawer and forgot about it until I was taking photos of this post. And then I didn’t even take one, because it’s just a black tshirt. Here’s one from camp. Look how smug I am about it!

Again with the poufiness at the shoulder, but since there isn’t as much weight from the arms, and the jersey is pretty light, it doesn’t feel as annoying.

Then I girded my loins and made a shirt for S.

It’s Kwik Sew 3883. I’d made a muslin before camp, and noted some adjustments needed. I don’t recall exactly what, since I can’t find the notes I made. I did adjust the pattern pieces so I know they’re fine. I know I brought the shoulders in a bit, so the back width is smaller. I think maybe it needed shortening as well? The fabric is just cheapo homespun or broadcloth or something from spotters. He wanted a coverup type shirt for when we go to the beach, because he burns easily. So it wasn’t too intimidating because if I mucked it up or it was a bit dodgy that wouldn’t matter too much.

But I think it came out great! (Those collar points could be sharper, now I look at them.) I took my time over it because I wanted to use it to learn how to make shirts properly, so I could make some for me. I was really impressed with this pattern. The instructions were really clear, and suitable I think for a semi-beginner like myself, or even someone slightly less familiar with general garment construction.

I borrowed someone’s machine to do the buttons – Sue’s, I think? Those automatic buttonholers, man. I covet them. My dinky Brother machine at home does pretty well but it only has a manual buttonholer with one of those flimsy plastic efforts, and it is just impossible to do two the same.

The shirt hasn’t been worn more than once because by March it was getting cold, but it got the tick of approval.

I also muslined the By Hand London Anna dress, but there was too much adjustment needed so I abandoned it for the time being. And I finished my Essential Cardigan but I might give that its own post.


For June craft camp I decided to stick with a winning tactic and sew some quick and easy knits first. This time I started with the Penny Pinafore.

I’d cut out a pinny in blue knit fabric at the end of March craft camp, intending to sew it up at home. Obviously that didn’t happen! So I sewed that first at the June craft camp.

Backfat ugh! Oh well. I have fat on my back, whadya gonna do? Also there is pooling fabric on my swayback but I don’t really care, not even enough to scoop that out if I make another one.

I really really love this pattern. Princess seams 4 lyf. I sewed this up with no adjustments, largest size, and it fits like a dream. EXCEPT the dang shoulder issue. You can’t really see it here but it’s super puffy. This one makes it a bit clearer:

Look at all that excess fabric! After I’d sewn this, Sue M suggested the grading down two sizes at the shoulder, and I cut out another one to try it.

My face is a bit weird in some of these photos because I was watching my cat get shouted at by the local magpies and it was very entertaining.

MUCH better. Still bra showing, though. I might need to cut in a centimetre or two on the neck side. Almost everyone else I’ve seen make this, their necklines seem much thinner and firmer, even on lighter fabric. I sewed this one really tight because I’d had issues with gaping with the black skaters, but I think it might just be the shape of my shoulders.

I really love these dresses and I wear them all the time. But I wish I’d known about the shoulder thing for the blue dress, because the sleeves bug me. I can see them out of the corner of my eye, and feel them poofing up. I thought they might settle a bit with washing but they have not. It makes me sad because I really love the colour of the blue. I am not really sure about the red one, it’s a bit more orange than I’d normally wear. And somehow it feels a bit pyjama-y. I feel like that would be less of an issue with a darker colour but I’m not sure why I think that. I’ve considered overdying it but I haven’t been bothered yet. I do wear both dresses all the time, though. Both fabrics are a discontinued spotlight knit called ‘seaspray’ or something like that. I bought a whole bunch on clearance, and I wish they still had it because it’s nice and thick, with enough cotton that it’s not too hot for summer, and the recovery is great.

I also made a tunic length penny.

The only decent pics I could get are super blown out. Otherwise it just looks… black.

This must have been before the red one, come to think of it, because it has the same sleeve issue. That’s exacerbated by the fabric, which is a merino knit from the Fabric Store. It’s lovely but it doesn’t have much recovery, and constantly slips off my shoulders. I am debating sewing some elastic behind the neckline all the way around, to pull it in, because it doesn’t get much wear which is a shame.

Another reason it doesn’t get much wear is that it’s still A-line shape. I just cut to the ‘tunic length’ line on the pattern. I wish I’d straightened out the princess seams and made it straight because I just don’t really know what to wear it with. I have exactly one pair of jeans, which don’t get much wear, and I am ok with leggings as pants in theory but I just feel uncomfortable with it for me except for photo purposes, apparently. It’s a feeling physically exposed thing, I think, not an aesthetic one. Anyway, mostly I wear this under things, tucked in. Like this:

It was bright. Also, egg-on-sticks effect going on here again.

Here I am wearing my long sleeved skater, and this over the top, tucked in to a skirt, and then I had a jumper over it.

I would like to make up a pattern of this that’s straight from the waist down, because I would like to use the pattern to make some simple knit tops and also perhaps a jumper, like Heather did.

I then made a pair of Juniper pants that were a complete disaster. My last pair are great but the crotch curve is clearly not long enough. I did take in the legs and wear them much more now, although they are still linen so obviously not very warm! But they still creep up my bum a bit so I wanted to try to fix that. I adjusted the pattern and lengthened the crotch curve and scooped it out a bit, like this, and like Patti did here. I sewed them up, with the fly and everything, and tried them on and… they were too small. I clearly needed more room at the front where I couldn’t let them out any more because that’s where the fly was. I looked for them to take a photo of, and also to diagnose what went wrong, but I can’t find them. Maybe they’ve slunk off in shame.

I’m considering trying them again but moving the fly to the side, which might make it easier to adjust especially since I clearly have issues with my crotch depth because of my full belly. Or maybe I’ll pull out Simplicity 3688 and see how they go, since they already have that feature. I’m not going to do either of those things short term, though.

Back to what I made that was a success. When I got S’s shirt home after March camp, I tried it on and found that it was a PERFECT fit, except obviously being too big in the torso. So I decided to make myself one and whack a bust dart in it.

I clearly did not iron this for photos. Also god I look like my mother when I stand like that. Note to self. Never stand like that again. Or maybe it’s the oversized shirt + leggings = mothers in the 80s?

The fabric is this GORGEOUS brushed cotton from DK fabric. I had seen it there ages ago and I didn’t buy it because it wasn’t what I was there for. But I thought about it all the time and when I went back not only was it there, but it was on special for $8 a metre. So I bought something like five metres. I should have enough left for a dress, maybe it wants to be a binge dress? Or maybe a shirtdress? It’s like wearing a hug.

Anyhoo, I made this up exactly as I made up S’s, tried it on, and improvised bust darts. I did make the arms and torse, and nipped in the side seams some arbitrary amount, but didn’t shape them at all. I wanted this to be snuggly and big. I LOVE IT. Although in fact I haven’t worn it at all this winter because I took forever to find buttons I liked, then when I finally sewed them on I put it on over my head and broke the shank off of the second-to-top one. It’s almost like you’re meant to unbutton things when you put them on? Like that’s what buttons are for or something??

Anyway I have new buttons now – plural because I also bought some more for the cuffs, which are buttonless because Caroline kindly lent me her machine to do the buttonholes, but it couldn’t cope with the thickness there. I am debating whether to hand sew buttonholes, take it to a place that does alterations and get them to do it, or just sew press studs on and fake buttons on the top. I’ll probably hand sew them, it’s not like they take that long in the scheme of things. In the meantime it’s crumpled from being in the mending pile, but I did wear it for the rest of the day after taking these photos, over a thermal shirt and a tshirt and with the sleeves cuffed. I’m considering going back and putting a pocket on the front, too.

I also made a version of the shirt in this light voile, also from DKs. I bought enough to underline it with itself but then couldn’t be bothered. It actually isn’t as see through as I remembered – obviously it is still sheer, you can see my bra but I would be ok wearing it like this in summer, or with a cami under to work. It is VERY crumply and wrinkly though.

This one I nipped in at the waist a bit, and I think I shortened the arms a bit more than the flanney. You can see when I stretch they pull, but they pull at the arms not at the shoulders, look at me showing off how I can totally cross my arms in this without it pulling! Such a novelty for me. And they are the correct length when not reaching for the sky.There are still pull lines across the front, I could probably tweak the fit a bit more but you know what? I don’t care. It fits way better than a boughten one would, and it’s comfortable and looks fine. And I don’t want to overfit it and end up not being able to move.

After not having looked at this for ages and then putting it on for photos, I like this far more than I remembered. I think I was put off by the sheerness and wrinkliness making it less practical. But now I’m thinking about making another one of these in the heavier cotton I bought for work shirts, before I attempt the princess line shirt. Although both have the issue of needing to put in buttonholes. I’ve been debating chucking a pleat in the back next time, but I don’t know that it needs it. I need the most width in the upper back/yoke area, so if that’s big enough for my hunched shoulders then the rest will be broad enough for my back.

Both of these just have a turned and rolled hem. The pattern also only calls fro 0.6cm seam allowances. From memory on the sheer one I upped the allowances so I could french seam it, because it was so sheer, but I think that’s nice to do for a shirt anyway so you can roll up the sleeves or whatever without exposing overlocking. The only exposed seams are the sleeves, armholes, and sides, anyway, since everything else is encased in a cuff or the yoke. Also next time I would shift the buttons a bit so that there is one exactly on my bustline where it pulls the most. They’re big enough, just the physics of it means it will always pull and gape a bit there if the button isn’t right in the right place.

And now I am almost all caught up!

September craft camp

Last weekend was craft camp and I had been hanging out for it. Things have been a little fraught here. Everything’s fine but just lots of emotional conversations (mostly resolved now but boy are they tiring) and also just normal life taking its toll. I was ready for some time away, out of the ordinary stream of life. Some time with all those lovely women.

Well, I got that but I have to say it was probably the worst craft camp I’ve ever been to. Which is to say, I still had a wonderful time. The bar is pretty high, is all. There was still wonderful food and company and laughter but it was also the election weekend, so that was depressing, and several of us were sick. I had thought I had just shaken something off in time to be fine for camp but either I was mistaken or I got another thing, because I woke up on Friday morning feeling not quite right. If I’d been as unwell then as I felt on Saturday I wouldn’t have gone, and I’m terribly afraid that I’ve infected other people, which is making me feel really guilty.

Anyhow I had no brain at all and basically achieved nothing, craft wise. I was going to go for a couple pairs of pants and muslining some other things. Instead I spent a lot of time staring blankly at the wall or sleeping, and my total FO count was two totally shit potholders. One has wrinkly binding and the other is a trapezoid with wrinkly binding.

Shit potholders
Shit potholders. So wonky.

I did trace out some things, and I sewed up a McCalls 6559 maxi dress that was meant to be a wearable muslin but might just be a muslin, due to super thin fabric and dodgy finishing on my part. It was a $2 remnant so I’m not sorry, because at least it was a successful muslin. I’m going to keep it and see if I wear it as a heat wave dress, even thought the neckline and armscyes are too low. The dress is so simple, just sewing up the shoulders, then the side seams, then hemming the edges, so now that I know what adjustments to make it would take me about a half an hour to make. For the record, those adjustments are tp raise the neck and armscye by 2cm, bring in the sides by 2cm until the hips – so much ease! This size should technically be too small for me but it was in fact too big (except that I don’t want it too clingy on my hips so it can be too big there, that’s fine).

I also did some knitting on my Essential Cardigan and got it over a few humps – you know, those bits where you have to sit down and think about something or sew something or pick up a million stitches or do something else that you can’t do on the bus or in five minutes before bed. I now am knitting on the front band, and have about half of a sleeve left. I reckon taking that as bus knitting this week will polish that off, and then I’ll need some new bus knitting because I don’t really want to lug the whole jumper on the bus. Incidentally, the pattern has you seam the shoulders, the sides and put the arms on before picking up the bands. What? I’ve just seamed the shoulders and I’ll do the rest when the bands are done.

It would be nice to finish it because I really need some more good, basic knitwear in my wardrobe. Just in time for spring?

I’ve done a lot of adjusting of this jumper so I hope it fits. At craft camp I also ripped out 1/4 of a sleeve due to one wrong ribbing row (it would have bugged me) and three rows of the band because of half a row of wrong ribbing (likewise). Worth it, but frustrating.

Oh and I took some nice pictures of clouds from the plane. I guess it wasn’t a complete loss. And I relaxed and saw friends and had fun. Never to be underestimated.

I was actually feeling a lot better by the time I got home (although today at work was a bit rough and I took a lot of cold and flu tablets), so I sat down and instead of unpacking I sewed two new potholders. This time I cut them larger than I needed so I could trim them down to ensure straightness, and I hand sewed the binding. I don’t mind hand sewing, if I have the right needle and there’s not too much, and it was the only way I was going to be happy with them. Definitely worth it. The binding on the astronauts is still a bit weird on one side because I’d come to the end of my self-made bias binding, and it was a bit wobbly.

Less shit potholders
Less shit potholders

Actually the binding could probably count as a craft camp project – I worked out the continuous bias binding method. I’m quite proud. Maybe I’ll pack some bias binding to make, in plain colours, for every craft camp. It was a really good starting project – complex enough to get me in gear but repetitive enough that launching into it didn’t feel daunting before I was in gear. And you can never have too much bias binding in the stash, right?

I could do with some more potholders myself, so I guess I’ll keep the dodgy ones. The less-dodgy ones are destined to be part of a birthday present for my sister, who loves space. Her birthday was last month. Whoops. I also want to sew her some bags so I better get on that.

If nothing else, camp did jerk me out of normal life a bit. I’m hoping to use that to get out of the rut of spending my spare time doing things like reading the whole internet or playing computer games. Things I like and I am not giving up but, really, small doses would be fine and they mean I never get to the bits that make life feel really satisfying. This is my constant battle (as you probably know, having read about it before on the blog), getting out from in front of a screen and doing those things. It’s always worth it but sometimes it’s just too hard. If I’ve got no brain it feels too difficult to sit down and sew, or make decisions about things, and I sit down in front of a screen as a transition activity and just never get up. Plus a lot of my friends live inside those screens, so it’s not like I’m not making connections and doing useful things when I am on the computer. It’s just that the balance is off. I’d like to set it up so instead of defaulting to the screen I spend at least a little time each evening doing some sewing. I think it’s a habit that will be tricky to build but would be worth it if I can pull it off.

Juniper pants

Last craft camp I made some Colette Juniper pants and I am just now blogging them, because it’s taken me that long to find a time to take photos when it is light. It’s not easy to photograph black pants, you know.

These are made in a cotton linen blend from spotters. Giordano used to sell some cotlin pants that I first found when I was living in China and for several years afterwards I bought a pair a year and LIVED in them in summer but of course they invariably wore out in the thighs so I never kept any for very long, and they weren’t so cheap. Then the store in the city closed down so I could never get there and now it seems like there actually aren’t any stores in SA and besides I’m probably too fat for them now. I still have a pair of them, in natural linen, sitting in the stash. I am pretending that I will use the fabric for something eventually. It is very nice fabric, but to be honest it’s more sentimentality than thriftiness. All that to say, I had those pants in mind when I chose this fabric.

I’ve been wanting wide legged pants for a while. I was apprehensive, though, because I wasn’t sure how they would look on me and I couldn’t find any in stores that would fit well enough for me to get an idea. And I’d auditioned another pair of palazzo-type pants, from OOP Simplicity 3870 which I bought in an op shop and they were… not good. They were definitely not drafted for my particular shape, and there was too much going on for me to know where to start adjusting them. Pants are complicated. But then Sue generously gifted me the Juniper pattern, which I’d been eyeing off ever since it came out, so I thought I’d give them a go.

I was very nervous about making pants. There’s a lot to pants, and a lot to go wrong. But from the measurements it seems like Colette is drafted pretty much for my shape as well as my personal style, so I set out to have a go. I made a muslin and took each step slowly and carefully, making the proper markings and doing tailors tacks and EVERYTHING. It took me pretty much the whole weekend but I am really pleased both with the pants and with my own sewing progress. Slowing down and doing things properly is hard work for me, but it’s just so worth it.  It did take time but I think it would have taken much more time if I’d had to do more ripping back. And I might not have ended up with a pair of pants at the end!

I have to say that the little instruction booklet was so helpful with this. Each step was clear, and having them on separate pages helped me to not rush through things. There was also plenty of room to write notes to myself for later reference. I really loved the way it was presented. I have several Colette patterns on my wishlist and haven’t pulled the trigger because postage is so expensive, but I really think getting the booklet is worth it. I think I might buy a few as a birthday present to myself.

I initially thought I was going to have to do some adapting, since according to the measurements my hips are at the largest size but my waist is a bit bigger. I looked up a tutorial on how to properly grade the waistband up, and adjusted my muslin. It was fiddly and tricky because I had to tape together the pocket pieces and the pants to make them one pattern piece, cut and spread that, and then extract the pieces back out. But then it was too big – exactly as much too big as the adjustments I had made. Turns out that my problem is not overall size, but where the size is. See, I have a swayback, and a corresponding stomach-sticking-out issue, not to mention a reasonable amount of extra stomach. So I took out a triangle at the back waist – an half inch at the top tapering in – and ended up adding a bit of a frankenstein extension on the front. When you’re making the pattern you actually have this bit longer, and trim it back to fit under the top flap, so next time I will just not trim it and I think it will be perfect. Perhaps a little grading to sit flat.

The tacked on waistband expansion.

As you can see, the waist fits pretty well but the hips are HUGE. I don’t mind, it’s super comfortable, but I think next time I will go down a size for the leg portion. I measured out the excess and I could probably go down two sizes but I’m not sure whether I want that little ease. I’ll make another pair and see! I’m also considering grading them down a bit to be ever so slightly less wide in the leg, possibly on the inseam. Perhaps going down a size will do that enough. I want to keep the swooshiness but I also feel like, starting with such a wide hip, these are VERY wide. Looking at the ones in the flickr pool, the smaller sizes have much smaller legs (obviously) and I think that’s a more reasonable size and proportion. I love the width of these, it makes me feel like a fancy lady from the 40’s, all Katharine Hepburn styles (without the lithe grace but still). But maybe I don’t need more than one pair of pants with that wide a leg.

An attempt at showing the width of the leg. They are 72cm around at the hem.

So these fit me well enough to be happy with, pretty much straight out of the packet! Lucky me. Although there’s always something to tweak. I also am thinking I might grade the crotch a bit to give me a bit of arse room. They fit fine but I can feel them tugging just a little bit at the crotch seam, and I think I could do with just a teeny bit more ease there.

I haven’t worn these much because they’re not very warm, being linen and also having such wide legs. Very breezy. Also, I snipped the wrong place on the fly when I was setting it in and forgot to go back and reinforce it. Since it’s a point that gets a lot of tension, it ripped a little. I’ve darned it up but to be honest I don’t know how long it will last. I also suspect that the thighs on these will go in less than a season of wear – the linen is a little rough and because of the extra fabric they rub a bit. I wore them today (this weather is GORGEOUS) and by the end of the day my thighs were a bit chafed. I think maybe bringing the inseam in to reduce the excess fabric and patching with something slippery might be in order. I considered reinforcing them when I was making them but didn’t get to it. Something to consider next time. Has anyone done this kind of pre-emptive patching before? But really, I’ll be happy to get a season out of these. And I can always make another pair!

It’s not at all neat at the waistband, due to last minute adjustments there, so I won’t wear it with shirts tucked in. Which is a shame because I like this look with the wide leg.

I am in fact planning another pair – another two pairs! That’s my craft camp project this time around. Hopefully it will be quicker and easier than the last time, having worked out some of the bumps.


I wrote the draft for this right after I got back from camp. I didn’t publish it because I needed to hem and photograph some stuff. Obviously it took me until the Easter long weekend to get around to that. Whoops. So please excuse the jumping back and forth between then and now, if I try to make it more consistent I’ll procrastinate and then it’s never going to get published. Please also excuse angry face. I just cannot work the self timer AND manage a facial expression at the same time.

Like a bee on a cactus flower

I got back from another craft camp on Monday evening. It’s Thursday morning and it already feels so far away, like a dream. I think it was my favourite camp yet. Not the most exciting or thrilling but the one that I have most constantly, solidly enjoyed. And probably my most productive. Not the one with the biggest highs from that feeling where you make a new friend or cross some border of intimacy. But more comfortable and sweet in that way where you don’t have to think about it because spending time with these people is just so easy and as effort-free as being in a space with other people will ever be, for an introvert. And the food, oh my lord.

I don’t know that I have much to say about it. It was just really really lovely. I continue to be so grateful for these people and these pauses in my year. Chances to reflect and take time and really get into the making. Such a refreshing thing. This weekend I flew in on Monday and out on Friday so I had most of those days as well as the whole day on Saturday and Sunday, and it was just blissful. I need to figure out ways to make my normal life just a little bit more like camp.

It was also the camp where I went through the most thread. I think I sewed almost every seam in every garment twice, and I came home with a couple of things unhemmed because I was out of matching thread.

I flew in with a suitcase that was 100g over the weight limit. Then I bought stuff at the op shop. With some rearranging of my carry-on I managed to fly home with a suitcase that was only 200g over. Phew.

Here are the things that I made:

A Tiramisu dress, which will get its own post shortly.

I also half-made a blank canvas tee out of this same fabric.

I will discuss the fabric in further detail when I post about my Tira, but basically, it’s a bastard. It’s super stretchy with not much recovery. So the shirt is fine, if a bit… fine (read: nipply) but the binding was droopy. I was going to redo it but I ended up just folding it under and zig zag stitching it. I think this will just be an around the house shirt, sadly, and I won’t bother hemming it. But as a wearable muslin I’d call it very successful.

Another one of those Ottobre skirts that I like to churn out. This one in camel coloured sateen from Spotters. Crinkly stuff, curse it. I did back pockets on this one which turned out a bit dodgy but oh well. I neglected this one in my photoshoot so this is the only photo of it. If I can find some camel-coloured drill I might remake it in that, but all the brownish stuff I could find was muddyish colours which I didn’t like.

A red Kasia.I wear my blue Kasia all the time because it’s comfy and simple but not boring and also it has pockets.

The spots in the pockets are a Robert Kauffman quilting cotton that I bought ages ago for a project that I now cannot remember anything about. You need so little of the contrast fabric for this, it’s great. The main fabric is stretch drill from Spotters.

The last time I made Kasia I graded it up and then ended up taking out all the extra width. This time I just cut out the biggest size, which was then too small so I spent ages taking it apart and putting side panels in, and then it was too big. So I took the panels out and sewed it with just a 1cm seam allowance and it’s perfect. It was initially a teeny bit tight on the hips but it’s stretched out enough that it’s just spot on. I omitted the front fly shenanigans, and put in a back zip, as well as borrowing a pattern piece from a Lisette pattern that Sue had brought, and making a little kick pleat at the back.

It sticks out some, but oh well. It makes the skirt much more functional. Another time I would make the whole pleat from a thinner fabric, which would also give it a seam to fold along. I hemmed the red one a bit shorter at the pleat than the rest of the skirt, and it sits flatter vertically, because of that. As in, the pleat doesn’t stick out the bottom of the hem, although it does stick out horizontally still.

I wish I’d remembered to take out the pouchy bit at the back, though – the pocket panels are mirrored on the back and it’s puffy in the thick drill. I should have made the facings out of a lighter fabric, too, cos it’s bulky. But it’s perfectly wearable and I love it. I brought it home unhemmed because I ran out of thread. I also wish I’d done an invisible zip – it is actually an invisible zip, but I don’t have an invisible zip foot at camp so I just set it in like a normal zip. Oh, well.

Another Kasia, in black stretch drill, also from spotlight. Back zip for this one too and no pockets, I couldn’t be bothered mucking around and I just need something real simple to be a wardrobe standard. I just laid the pocket pattern pieces on top and cut it out like one piece, nothing complicated. I used a scrap from Jenny’s intimidating pile to make a sneaky kick pleat, though. (Which sticks out, too. Sigh.)

I might need another black pencil skirt with more interesting pockets. This one probably took me 2 hours ish, without hemming. When I did hem it this weekend I just sewed with a straight stitch because clearly I wasn’t getting around to the blind hem that I had intended, and I couldn’t find my blind hem foot anyways, or figure out how to deal with the kick pleat when blind hemming. So that took me all of ten minutes, plus I had to re-top-stitch the yoke because the poplin I’d lined it with isn’t as stretchy as the drill and it had gotten all wonky when I sewed it the first time, and I had puckers.

And I finished my blanket! Which has been to several craft camps now. I blogged the finished product here.

Such a lovely time. Thank you all for your company, and your food, and your stories.