Boldly going where we’ve gone before



It’s déjà vu in blue, dear readers.

I’ve been loving my Tigerlily Mk II shorts so much, that it made sense to try and squeeze another out of the leftover fabric… I made these inbetween starting and finishing my Blue Belladone robe, so you may recognise that dastardly rogue silk chiffon trim?


Keeping in line with my stash and scrap busting, I managed to squeeze some more pocket bags out of my leftover white cotton voile – awesome.

I did do a few things differently this time though… I whacked some white grosgrain ribbon into the waistband to provide a bit more stability, I sewed the button holes BEFORE sewing the waistband onto the shorts (great because the lack of bulk made for beautiful buttonholes), and I eliminated the ties at the leg for a band for a more streamlined look.  I also changed the orientation of the waistband a bit… but that wasn’t actually planned, I just wasn’t thinking when I started sewing. That’s always a bad sign. I think I prefer the waistband on the original pair.

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You can read all about my first pair of Tigerlily shorts here. It’s a text light post today so I can maximise my time in the sewing room… so many ideas, so little time. So – if you’ll excuse me!

The Stats:
00:00  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
01:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing etc)
05:35  Sewing
07:15  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.2m 
Stash total now = 95.0m (Goal = 50m)

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Tigerlily Shorts


Summer has hit with a vengeance. I took these photos on Saturday morning – and I don’t think the temp dipped below mid 30’s (90 F) at my house all friday night. Hot Hot Hot! So it’s definitely time for some more summer sewing. I’ve had a pair of Tigerlily shorts on summer wardrobe rotation for the last 5 years – I loved them that much. And if I recall correctly, I originally bought them on eBay for $5 – quite possibly the best wear value for money a garment’s ever had in my wardrobe. Problem is, when I bought them I was about 16, maybe 17 kilo’s (that’s 37 pounds for the American’s here) heavier than I am now (long story), and I’d been getting around in them ever since with a safety pin cinching in the waistband. 

Sheepish? Just a tad.


So I was beyond stoked when at the Melbourne Sewists Meetup back in August, I came across a fabric almost identical to that from which the Tigerlily shorts were made – a gorgeously thick, textured and thickly woven white cotton. I would show you a picture of the originals, but something exploded in my suitcase when visiting the fam up north and my beloved shorts took the fallout. (That something was a delicious curry made from scratch by me, so there was never any hope. As a result, they are not deemed fit for public visual consumption. I have no idea what posessed me to put curry in my carryon, of all things.)

I took to the originals with my seam ripper, traced out the pieces to make a toile and ‘re-fitted’ them, adjusted my newly traced pattern then got to work sewing these up! About a third of the way through sewing them, I realised that fabric I bought was actually a stretch woven. I’m a little embarassed it took me that long to realise! It caused some headaches, as well as the stretched out look on the waistband due to having to pull the bulk through my machine. Sigh.





I recycled the buttons and zipper from the original pair (both untouched by curry), and used some leftover fabric from my Technicolour Dream Skirt to make bias binding for the trim (on the originals the trim was blue and yellow) and found some white cotton voile from the scrap stash for the pocket bags. I’m still gutted I didn’t buy more of that digitally printed cotton… But I’m pleased this is yet another creation that only required a thread purchase to make – a win for the fabric stash!

With all the gathers at the pockets and the cutouts at the sides, the front pattern piece did look a little awkward when flattened out, but the pocket bags were ungathered and so acted as the template for how much gathering was required. 


Interestingly, the waistband was cut on the straight (a low-wastage commercial cutting ‘strategy’) then shaped with a dart at the centreback, made to look as though it was a part of the flat felled centreback seam. There was two fake single welt pockets at the back which I copied also – I decided to keep the fake factor as A) I never used those pockets anyway and B) they’ll never sag this way. I also loved how the pocket bags stretch across and connect at the fly – this stops the pocket bag from peeping out.

Speaking of fly’s, I’m getting more confident with them now – this was the first time I didn’t sew the whole thing together by accident at least once – woohoo!

Looks like I’m set for the next 5 summers. Now I have a hankering for curry…

The Stats:
02:25  Pattern Preparation (seam-ripping/tracing)
05:40  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
01:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing etc)
05:35  Sewing
15:20  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.2m 
Stash total now = 81.4m (Goal = 50m)


SD1002: The Simplest Skirt a Seamstress could Sew

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A gathered rectangular skirt with a grosgrain waist ribbon – about the simplest thing a seamstress could make for herself! Non?

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I made this skirt in a single sitting – a world record for me. No toile, no seam ripping, no swearing, just instant satisfaction. I bought this grey and white striped taffeta (about the first wholly synthetic fabric I’ve ever bought…) from Tessuti, and used a black grosgrain ribbon for the waistband (23mm wide) from my usual ribbon supplier – Ribbons Galore.

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Taffeta is puuurfect for this kind of skirt – it holds its shape and remains poofed nicely. The fabric is so light it won’t sag under its own weight! 

It’s also great for when you’re planning to eat a feast – the waistband keeps you looking slim whilst your stomach is allowed to expand to the required size… without giving away that you’ve eaten more than you should!

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You can whip one of these up just as easily as I did – and all you’ll need is your waist measurement:

1. Multiply your waist measurement by 1.9 (or 2 if you feel like rounding up), and you’ll have the length of fabric you’ll need to buy.

The fabric selvedge will be the part that goes around your waist – so choose how long you’d like your skirt to be from here (plus your hem allowance), then cut the offending remainder off.

2. Finish the two raw edges of your fabric with your preferred seam finish and apply your invisible zip (I used a 25cm one) – follow my post on how to get a lovely result on this here.

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3. Sew two rows of gathering stitch (about 3.5 – 4 stitch width, the smaller the stitch, the tighter the gather), one each side of the proposed seam line. So here I’ve got a row at 1cm from the edge and 2cm from the edge – my seam line will be the standard 1.5cm. Make sure you leave yourself a nice healthy tail when you cut your thread, you’ll need this to pull! 

4. Grab two threads and do just that, pushing your fabric away from you at the same time:

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Keep gathering until you’ve got the gathered edge of your fabric down to your skirt’s finished waist measurement – this is your waist measurement, plus 3cm of ease, plus an additional 4cm for the tab to attach a hook and bar (this includes a seam allowance). So for example, my waist is 75cm + 3cm + 4cm = 82cm.

5. For the grosgrain ribbon, take this measurement and double it – 82 x 2 = 1.64m. This is the length you’ll need. Sew the ends together with a 1.5cm seam allowance – then trim back to 0.5cm and iron flat. 

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Stick a pin in the half way mark – then iron that folded too. You’ll have a circle of grosgrain ribbon with a seam at one half point and an ironed fold at the other.

6. Take the folded half way mark and slot one end of the fabric in it – pin to secure. The little plastic nub should sit just underneath the ribbon:

Then take the end with the seam in it, and place the other end of your fabric 2.5cm away from the ribbon edge/seam – pin to secure:

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Then start pinning your gathered fabric to the ribbon that will be on the inside, spreading out the gathers so they’re fairly even. Yeah, you probably could get technical and mark the half way and quarter points on your fabric and match them up on your ribbon, but I’m just eyeballing it.

Then sew along to secure your skirt to the ribbon.

7. Pin the tops of your two ribbon edges together, then top stitch around each edge of your ribbon so the seam allowance is completely encased and the ribbon is closed off.

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8. Sew on your bar and tack (making sure you get them aligned!):

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Pull out the gathering stitch you can see, then hem and you’re away!

SD1001: Pattern Review Jeans Competition

Like most people, I wear my favourite jeans until the last possible moment. When the pair you see chopped up above died, I went about trying to find a jeans pattern to attempt to make my own. Nothing really appealed at the time, so I figured, why not try to make my own pattern from a garment I know fits half decently well? Since then I’ve bought the jeans pattern Vogue 8774 which was released recently, but I’m still waiting for it to arrive…

Then I noticed just the other day that Pattern Review are having a jeans sewing contest (details here) – could the timing be more perfect? I’m not in it to win, but rather use it as a motivator to get them done in a quick time frame, and see what others are doing as well. The contest starts on January 15, last submissions by February 16. The rules say that toiles can be done before the contest starts (phew!) but the fabric for the end garment can’t be cut until the competition starts. So out came the scissors and I chopped up my retired jeans. 

The direction of the grain line is super important so after tracing the pieces I copied this across (which is thankfully super easy to spot on denim!), and added a rather large seam allowance as an insurance policy.

I’ve got my fabric – a mid-blue 100% cotton ‘Depp Denim’ from Tessuti which I’ve washed and hung about 3 times to pre-shrink (on the left). I’ve also got some turquoise coloured denim from Gorgeous Fabrics which I personally think looked a LOT nicer (ie darker) on their website than in real life, to the extent that it will now be relegated to hitting the right fit. 

I’m also thinking embellishment – nearly all of my jeans use denim fabric layering as the visual point of interest, so I’m going to unashamedly copy this:

I’m off to start trawling the web for jeans sewalongs any other tidbits of information that could be useful during construction. Pattern Review has this fabulous page on jeans tips and tricks, with heaps of pointers and further information on DIY jeans. I can sense I may get lost in a sea of links here… Does anyone have any favourited or recommended sites/blogs/info sources for making jeans? I’m especially at a loss as to attaching the button at the front…

At the beginning of the week I made the mistake of thinking I could wander into Tessuti during my lunchbreak to pick out a simple striped cotton to use as waistband facing and pocket lining for these jeans. I got the cotton and also came out with this:

Some AMAZING fabrics in wonderful palate cleansing colours. I do love greys, pastels, creams and whites. Did I mention they were on sale?