Hello, Strangers!

“Hi, my name is Melanie, and it’s been 6 months since I last posted”.

Yep, and about 5 of that have had zero chances to sew. But – our unlivable house is now moderately livable. Sort of. Still a lot of work to do! But the last month has had some productive sewing in it, culminating in a seasonally inappropriate top that is very different to my usual style. I do really love it though. Photos just as soon as I find my missing camera battery charger, and brave the cold! (Some sunshine might be nice too, but I wouldn’t want to be too demanding or anything…)


Just a little seam matching perfection…


I’ve also been working on the French Jacket for my mum. I originally thought having it done for her birthday in early May would has been SO achievable. But that didn’t quite work out, so the new delivery date has been set for early August. Better get my skates on…

Because I’ve also started sewing a new jacket (for me). Marfy 3022!

F3022 SS 2014-15 Jacket

The muslin for it is getting me very excited. Even with no adjustments I really love the proportions. Having been out of sewing practise for so long, and also because this pattern had a rather tricky looking dart/pocket configuration – I went to a lot more effort than I normally would in a muslin.




But that’s all come to a screaming halt, because my usual size 46 is a little on the snug side. After many months of intensive renovating, with a non-functional kitchen and limited time – a continuous succession of bad dietary choices (and an underactive thyroid!) have left me about 6kg’s heavier than at the beginning of the year. So I’m deciding whether to buy the Size 48, or make it as the 46 as by the time I finish it, it will be Spring and I should be back to normal by then. Decisions…

Regardless, it’s so lovely to be back and sewing!!


Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion

A week after watching these videos, and I still can’t get them out of my head.

Watch the mental shift of 3 young Norwegian fashion bloggers who come to realise what life is really like for textile workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Ep 1   –   Ep 2   –   Ep 3   –   Ep 4   –   Ep 5

The trailer for this series is on YouTube, or you can watch each episode in the links above.

Dry Cleaner Says NO

Do you wash your self-made things separately to your RTW stuff? Hand wash them instead? Maybe it’s never even occurred to you to treat them differently?

I’m going to admit that I’m one of those people who is slightly-hippie-inclined when it comes to household chemicals. That’s probably putting it lightly, because I refuse point blank to go down the cleaning-product aisle at the supermarket. Instead, I have a cupboard full of bi-carb, vinegar, Neways and Enjo where most people have a delightful array of (for me, head-ache inducing and nasal-passage-burning) chemical products. I also have one of those hypocritical first-world double standards going on because I totally send my more-fancy self-made stuff off for dry cleaning.

I have a dry cleaner who knows I sew, so he asks for the fibre content of my fabrics instead of searching for the label. He’s lousy at getting things done within the agreed time frame, but he’s great at everything else. So when I took my wedding dress in to get sorted, he asked me to bring in a swatch of the lace so he could test if his solvents would, you know, dissolve my dress into a blob of bubbling mess. Turns out that lace survived neither of his solvents (!!), so he refused to clean my dress, and it has since been unceremoniously flopped over a coat hanger behind my bedroom door, awaiting the day I would attend to the patch where I somehow spilt gravy down my skirt during dinner. He even gave me a stack of acid-free paper to store it in. But it’s now been hanging up for over 8 months behind my bedroom door and I’ve been having a mini-guilt trip every time I see it, wondering if my continuous inactivity on the matter would render that gravy stain permanent, if it wasn’t already.

So what to do? I hadn’t pre washed the fabrics for my wedding dress, of course. But with some time off between Christmas and New Years, it was definitely time to tackle it.


My poor hem facing was ripped off the skirt in several places. My shoes kept catching on it when I went down stairs!


Part of a series of gravy splatters.

I thought maybe I would draw a grid on some scraps of the taffeta and the organza, wash them and see if they shrunk. But in the end I just washed it and if it shrank, too bad.

The gravy came out straight away with not even a scrap of elbow grease. And the hem is now clean! All that took less than ten minutes…

I still want to get a box of some sort so I can wrap it up in the acid free paper my dry cleaner gave me.

All in all, a pretty happy ending! And, it was really, really nice to see my wedding dress again…. *sigh*

So after my dry cleaner turned me away, and seeing as this whole dry cleaner thing was a massive double standard and all anyway, I went in search of products that were toxin free but still effective. The answer came from within my bathroom/laundry cabinet – The Laundress. I bought some of their cashmere wash a few years ago – I’d previously tried washing my cashmere knits normally by hand (this was pre-chemical-freakout days) then getting them dry cleaned – both which left them worse for wear. So the cashmere shampoo was an absolute revelation because it keeps them in great condition.

Then two long-ago friends that I used to play violin with in an orchestra during our high school days started up an online shop – The Natural Supply Co. I was browsing soon after they launched, as you do, and discovered that The Laundress don’t only make cashmere shampoo, but a whole bunch of other stuff too, all toxin free. So I bought some silk wash, and have been happily pre-washing all my silks since. This is what I used to clean my wedding dress.

Including, some uber pretty silk which is going to be my next make – a wedding guest dress. Here’s hoping I actually get it done during my Christmas break!


If you’re precious or have got a certain habit when it comes to washing… I wanna hear about it ;)

F3093: Safari Blouse

Merry Christmas Eve, all!

May I present to you, another green Marfy blouse.

This may not seem like much to some, but this is the first thing I’ve ever sewn that I didn’t initially muslin to test for fit. It was a little exhilarating, not knowing whether or not I would like it! I need to get out more.

I think I do now understand a little better why some sewists are dead set against muslining. I’ve been super time poor these last few months, but still wanted to have a wearable outcome from my sewing efforts. I compared the pattern pieces for this against my last Marfy blouse at the shoulder and bust, and my Blue Blotch Blouse (a McCalls pattern) through my mid-section. It was pretty much on par, I ranked it low risk, and so away I went.

F3093 Blouse 4

F3093 Blouse 2

Yeah, there are probably a few things I would alter had this been my actual muslin. You can see from the Marfy sketch below that the shoulder seams are not quite dropped – but still gently off the shoulder. I brought them back in by 0.5cm (because I was so thrilled with the shoulder seam location of my last Marfy blouse, which I used to copy the alignment of) but actually I regret this now and would stick to the original design if I were to make it again.

Marfy 3093 S-S 13-14 (blouse)

In fact, I would say the sleeves of this blouse are my favourites, ever. No ease – it fit into the armscye perfectly, slim-fitting but still with enough space for movement, and I love the button down tabs to roll up the cuff. They aren’t full length when unrolled – more midi.

There are no darts for shaping in the bodice here, unless you count the centreback seam. Not normally one for loose fitting clothing around the mid-section, I figured the CDC would billow enough to compensate for any sack-style leanings.

I like the front side pleats more than I would have thought, and the only thing I didn’t think about until I put it on for the first time (at the 80% completed mark) – is that it’s awfully low cut. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable without a singlet for weekend wear, let me put it that way.

F3093 Blouse 7


F3093 Blouse 6

On the inside, this blouse is not my best work. I french seamed where possible, overlocked the armscye seam (thanks to Helen bringing along her machine to social sewing!), and top stitched over folded seam allowances everywhere else. I tossed up whether to interface the collar and facing, but ditched it in favour of keeping with the drapey look of the blouse. I did use a few scraps of organza to help stabilise the four pivot corners (front and back) of the collar, which worked like a charm.

F3093 Blouse 8

F3093 Blouse 3

The fabric? Silk CDC, from Mood. If you recognise it, it’s one of the two fabrics I used to sew my bridesmaid’s dresses. I had enough left over to squeeze this out of. Actually, I was really surprised I had so much left over – especially as I had nothing left from the other dress. Turns out I had extra because there was a fault – which of course I didn’t realise until I’d cut everything out, with nothing to spare.

Thankfully the flaw was half covered by one of the front pockets – and due to sewing ‘couture’ (marking the seam lines and having large seam allowances) I was able to shift the entire pattern piece across by the 1.5cm required to get that flaw entirely hidden by the pocket. Not too shabby an effort, if I do say so!

F3093 Blouse 9

I’ll admit this blouse was partially inspired by both Reana and Sallie. CDC is just a wonderful mix of opaque and floaty, and feels just lovely and cool on the skin to boot.

It is incredibly low cut – and I’ll probably be wearing it as a beach cover up when I’m chilling out in Byron Bay this summer, or unbuttoned with a singlet underneath.

F3093 Blouse 1

If I thought my sewing time couldn’t get any less right now, I thought wrong. We bought a house! We’ve got a week holiday booked in at the end of January, and we move in after that. At which point we will be waging a war of attrition on asbestos, sinking foundations, decrepit shag-pile carpet, shiny olive-green drapes, and original 1960’s textured wallpaper. The first major aim will be to get a toilet actually plumbed on the inside of the house so we don’t have to spend next winter going outside to go to the loo. No joke. At least I’m having fun putting together the epic spreadsheet that we’ll use to project manage the whole thing! It’s going to be such a long and ongoing project that I’m actually fighting the urge to start a renovating diary blog. So far my sensibilities are winning on that front!!

So from February onwards I’ll still be squeezing some sewing in where ever I can of course – but there will be a bit of radio silence for the first few months whilst we tackle a few bigger projects. I’ve got an exciting project to work on prior to then though – a wedding guest dress!

Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday period everyone – and a safe and happy new year!!

Much Love to you all xx

The Trouser. The Sequel.

Thanks for your input on my last trouser post – it was really fascinating hearing everyone’s thoughts and opinions. I don’t think I’ve had a pattern disaster quite this bad before! In the aftermath I’m left wondering if indeed my perception of fit has been overly influenced by a lifetime of badly fitting RTW clothing.


Case in point – many of you mentioned that you could tell looking at this picture that the fit would be bad – mostly due to the way in which the side slant pockets stuck out and the pleat disappears. I’ll admit… that’s actually one of the things I like about this pattern, but I can’t explain why. I suspect it has something to do with spending the entirety of my teenage years wanting slighting bigger hips, and the optical illusion provided by those pants kinda delivers on that.

So, I turned to a variety of different resources to beef up my knowledge on pants fitting.

I logged in after what must have been two years to discover that at some point in the past I had bought the class ‘Pants Fitting Techniques’, by Sandra Betzina.

I watched the whole thing (for the first time) and it does have some excellent tips, if you don’t mind Sandra’s rather chaotic approach of explaining things, and that you already know what your areas for improvement are. There are some good descriptions of how to make changes based on your desired improvement, however what I really wanted was a before shot showing the issue, and then the correction. Visual learner here. Notwithstanding, for the small price point you pay, there’s some really useful information in this course that shows you how to adjust without delving into depth the reasons why you need to adjust (at least, beyond saying ‘because of protruding thighs).

Another recommendation left in the comments of my last post was this. I haven’t got it, but it’s something I’d maybe consider adding to my wishlist.

This, I now have – and what a gem it is. I borrowed it from someone and ended up buying my own copy. He not only takes you through a very logical, easy to comprehend set of reasons why a particular adjustment is required, but shows the symptoms of the issue and the fix. I totally got his reasoning and I honestly think it’s going to change the way I look at fitting. Something about the way he describes ‘net loss and net gain’ just made my brain click all the missing puzzle pieces together – best US$25 I’ve ever spent. It also includes a detailed method and formula to draft your own pants block from scratch using the French Method. I did attempt to do this, but vowed to come back and revisit my numbers/calcs after a break because my pants draft looked really, really wrong. I must have an incorrect calculation in there somewhere, which just compounded the problem.

I tried on Jacques again. And holy crap I must have been having a fat day of epic proportions previously, because they fit. I’ve got no explanation for that, especially as I tried them on multiple times previously.

I really, really want a pair of slim fitting trousers. Something a bit Brigitte Bardot-ish.

Brigitte Bardot

So with my new found knowledge of net loss and net gain all thanks to Kenneth, I spent several hours in front of the mirror, straining my neck and bending down to pin and back up again to check. His e-book does contain a lot of fitting information and solves, but nothing on the lower half of the legs.

Unaltered side view

Unadjusted side view

Adjusted side view

Adjusted side view



I did initially attempt a ‘hyper extended calf adjustment’, as per what Cation Designs describes in her (really excellent) pants pattern alteration post, but preferred what I did above.

My legs aren’t straight – they curve outwards quite substantially at the knee. What I really wanted to see was how pinning out these pants to match my leg shape would translate into 2D. I was rather disturbed after unpicking everything, it looked… ugly. Not the lovely straight lines we’re accustomed to seeing from a sewing pattern! The yellow lines are the original pattern lines, the orange is where I’ve pinned out excess and the black is the final line where I’ve taken out the excess in a vertical dart.


I then sewed my muslin back together again, this time along the new seam lines I’d marked, to see how it fit. I knew I’d still need to mark new side seam lines as they’re quite crooked in the photos above, but the moment of truth would be in how they looked now I’d been playing around with them a lot…

I’ve also sewn on the waist band here – it’s far too tight, I know. I may still grade up the waistband 2 additional sizes and see how the proportions sit then, but I think it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a finished version of these pants.

But I am really quite happy with the progress I’ve made on a slim leg!


Waistband is too tight. Something… ?? …. is going on at the crotch. But the both legs looks good!

The side that has not been tampered with. I've noticed when I 'lock' my knees back, I get the drag lines going on.

The side that has not been tampered with. I’ve noticed when I ‘lock’ my knees back, I get the drag lines going on. These photos have made me realise that I actually quite like the leg of this pattern now. How fickle!

The tampered side.

The tampered side.

I have the waistband pinned where it's folded over because I quite like the proportions of that depth of waist band on me. It's still too tight between the waistband and pants though. Oh, and looks like I needed that hyperextended calf alteration after all.

I have the waistband pinned where it’s folded over because I quite like the proportions of that depth of waist band on me. It’s still too tight between the waistband and pants though. Oh, and looks like I needed a hyperextended calf alteration afterall.

What I’ve taken an incredibly long time and huge amount of futzing to figure out – is that I need a ‘knock-knee alteration’. I guess the benefit of taking the long way to find that out is I know exactly how knock-kneed I am. Cindy from Cation Designs has an amazingly informative post on this alteration and a stack of others (including the hyperextended calf alteration) – definitely recommended reading.

What I have veered away from is making a comfortable trouser suitable for the office environment. I can see myself wearing these (very close fitting) pants made up in a floral cotton pique on a warm spring day, but they really are too tight for the office. Time to get back on brief!

Then, Oanh invited me to join her in a pants fitting class she was taking. It wasn’t quite what we thought it was (which was a trouser drafting course), but after a few short hours, I had a rather well fitting, high waisted wide leg trouser outline.

The Front

The Front. One leg has been tapered a little. Ok, maybe a lot. Also, the rise is higher than my natural waist.

The Back

The Back. Nothing like a horrid muslin photograph to accentuate my lack of hip curve. le sigh.

The Side

The Side

They’re comfortable. Really comfortable! The kind of comfortable that I could spend anywhere between 8 and 12 hours straight sitting in – which means they pass the office-suitable test. They look good in the mirror. The fit even looks perfect on camera!!!

So why do I feel so ridiculously dowdy in them?

That’s something I think I’m just going to have to get over – because those muslin photo aren’t lying.

So I’m going to sew up a wearable muslin from a fabric I don’t mind sacrificing to this cause (which will be a wool crepe), which means I can effectively test drive how the style would work for me. I would like your opinions on a waistband treatment though:

1. A really wide waistband so I can work in the slanted pockets still (this is not a pair of pants I’d feel comfortable tucking my shirt into, so it would be covered. That way I’d still get the ‘look’ of hip height pants, but with the comfort of waist height.)

2. A facing and no front pockets?

3. A picked zip at the side seam, or a centre back invisible zip?

I await your advice!