NL6735: Latte and Lace


Ethereal geometric lace, some coffee coloured knit and a whole lotta pivot points. Mix them all together and you’ll end up with something that looks a bit like this!


I’ve been wanting to make another version of my loversandhaters tee for what feels like forever now. It’s been ages since I’ve sewn with a knit though, and it really showed! Whilst sewing up a few test pieces I was wondering why it kept jumping stitches and snowballing my bobbin – duh – you need a ball-tipped needle specially for knits, Melanie. Your micro-needle really isn’t going to cut the mustard with a knit fabric. This is just proof that if your sewing machine isn’t doing what you want it to do, it’s most probably your fault. A mechanised inanimate object can only ever perform as well as the person operating knows how. 

IMG_4758 IMG_4765 IMG_4934


I don’t have many New Look patterns, but I really like this one. The main reason is that it’s got a centreback seam as well as side seams – meaning I can get a good fit around my waist and not have it pulling tight across my bust at the same time. I’m often 2+ sizes bigger at the shoulders and bust than at my waist/hips, and this pattern caters for that wonderfully. As I wasn’t sure of how this fabric would fare, I got enough to make a basic tee out of it to test size and stretch first.

The neckline, shoulder seams and back yoke are all seam-reinforced with some bias cut silk organza strips.

I also learnt that twin needles are twice as nice as normal needles – especially when paired with some wooly nylon in your bobbin! Using a twin needle for stretch fabrics to finish off hems has been on my to-try-list for quite some time – it works wonderfully! I hand basted first so my knit didn’t distort all over the place (a walking foot is next on the to-try-list), and it worked beautifully. You don’t have to use wooly nylon in your bobbin, but from testing out that and normal thread on some scraps first, the nylon definitely gives you extra stretching room.


That milky-coffee coloured knit is of an unknown composition – I completely forgot to take a picture of the tag when I bought it like I usually do. I’ve nicknamed it the Charlie Sheen of the fabric world though. It made me mad, behaved like an unruly child, my pins/scissors and my machine all hated working with it and somehow it got lucky enough to co-star alongside that gorgeous Chanel Lace. Instead of dumping it by the wayside like I should have, I just kinda ignored all that, pushed on and despite itself, it ended up being a success against the common sense odds.

With Belle, mere moments after completion at Social Sewing

The Chanel Lace is of course left overs from my Lace-but-not-as-you-know-it Dress. I’ve had the remnant set aside for this project even since I saw this utterly gorgeous blouse on Pinterest…

The Stats:
01:50  Pattern Preparation (tracing/draft changes)
01:10  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
11:10  Sewing
14:50  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.6m
Stash total now = 79.8m (Goal = 50m)


An Icing Event: SewcieTea

High Tea at The Windsor for my bestie’s 30th

I consider myself something of a high-tea afficionado…
LOVE tea.
I love champagne – (the real stuff, you know, from france).
I love scones, jam and thick yellow double cream.
I also love sweet, sugary delights and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, all served on a silver tiered stand with gorgeous crockery.


I also like to sew (this, you already know), and I sometimes get a little frustrated at the lack of social events on my calendar that require one to get a little dressed up. Lets not even talk about how mad I get when I go to the ballet or the theatre on a saturday night and see people in denim jeans. I don’t care if they are your best jeans people, or how much you paid for them. That’s just wrong. My mother still bemoans how Australian’s don’t like to get dressed up – for anything – and my parents have been living in this great southern land for just over 30 years now.

So, I’m going to host an event – and you’ll need to wear your very best icing! Better yet, I’m going to give you time to sew it yourself, and I’ve picked a location with a beautiful backdrop so we can have a group photo shoot on the day :)

Image via The Gables

Where? The Gables – 15 Finch Street, East Malvern.
When? Sunday the 7th of April (In case someone else makes a big booking before we lock ours in, this could potentially move to the 31st of March, so keep this in mind) UPDATE: OUR BOOKING IS NOW ON THE 14th OF APRIL DUE TO SOMEONE BOOKING OUT THE ENTIRE PLACE ON THE 7th… What, don’t they know who we ARE?
What Time? From 2pm to 4pm
How Much? $55 per person. This includes (real) champagne, tea, scones, sandwiches, cakes and sweets, and you can pay on the day :)
RSVP: by Monday 28th January to poppykettle at gmail dot com.

Anyone is welcome – regardless of whether you blog or not. The only requirement really is that you get dressed up!

Not in Melbourne but still want to join in??? Sew up some icing, send me a picture (and your blog link if you have one) and I’ll include you in the grand photo shoot post – a la Oona’s Promaballoona limousine!

You’ve got 75 days to sew up something gorgeous for an afternoon tea of epic proportions and a photo-shoot to boot.

Ladies: Lower Your Presser Foot!

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)

2013: The year of practical sewing to be

I hereby pledge that 2013 will be the year of practical sewing. 

Should I sense a desire to deviate from the straight and narrow I shall turn to Pinterest to scratch my itch until I am once again sated of the need to sew pretty things with limited useful wearing opportunities. 

Resistance against non-every-day fabrics like luscious floating silks and delicate laces will not be futile.

Should my resolve begin to waiver, I will look to the mantlepiece to gaze upon likenesses of the doyennes of practical sewing – Suzy from SuzyBeeSews, Shams from Communing with Fabric and Dixie from DixieDIY, shrouded as they may be through the gentle waft of incense. Reminded I will be of my practical sewing pledge.

Got the picture? This is what will be on my 2013 radar:

The jacket from my Vogue suit is to date my most worn self-made item. The skirt is popular for work-wear too, and so another is in the wings waiting for its time to shine. The siren song of this pleated waist Marfy blazer/dress combo sitting patiently in my pattern stash is getting harder and harder to resist:

2013 also will be the year of the work shirt. Buttons, plackets, collars and cuffs. Oh yes! This ties in nicely to my personal pledge to complete at least one of the five Craftsy courses I own – I’ve yet to do a single blasted one, and I’m still tempted to buy more!

I’m mostly inspired by my favourite shirt maker – Cubec. A hole-in-the-wall outfitter selling all things suit and shirt related – hella glamorous. Mr poppykettle and I both have some of their stuff – it’s not cheap, but it’s made in Melbourne and the fabrics are out-of-this-world awesome (The shirt I’m wearing in these pictures with my Vogue Suit is from them). Goodnuff reason for me.

Cubec Shirt, via the Cubec Facebook Page

Haveth StephC‘s pants block, will perfecteth pants. My attempts to date have been woefully short of the mark – this garment type will be licked whether it likes it or not.

I love shorts. Short ones. I have two planned for this summer, one of which is already well under way. Yay!

If it’s made of something that stretches and can be worn with jeans on the weekend, then all the better. 

Yes – I will be turning my sights to Mr poppykettle. Where once lay suspicion and a dubious attitude on his behalf now sits acceptance and dare I say it – even enthusiasm. We’ll see how long that lasts, shall we?

Either there will be plenty of tailoring action come winter time, or maybe some men’s jeans action instead. Some inspiration via my For Him Pinterest board:

I would never have thought dresses would make it to this list… But this summer I’ve been converted. The last 6 months of sewing have shown me just how fabulous, easy and low-fuss dresses can be, and I’m finding myself reaching for the dresses in my wardrobe before my jeans. That’s totally like blasphemy to the old me.

Ok, here’s the fine print….
And I’m giving myself space to make one non-everyday dress. Only because a lamington crayfish painted on silk organza will soon be arriving in my postbox… and there’s an occasion to wear just such a dress up and coming!

via Sewing Cake‘s Etsy Shop

The most important to me – I want to use each garment I sew to hone my skills and improve upon the last thing I made – whether that be fit or technique. I’ll be doing two of Susan Khalje’s couture sewing school courses in September/October this year and I’m desperately looking forward to making a Chanel-style Jacket. I’ve yet to decide on the second couture project…

Oh yes. We’ve done the tally – I have 82.6m of fabric. For the metrically challenged – that’s exactly 90 yards. Nine times out of ten I buy fabric with a particular project in mind – so there are a lot of unborn ideas sitting in my cupboard waiting to materialise. I’m going to do everything in my power to use what I have and get that down to 50m by 2013 end.

How about some more fine print? The disclaimer on that is I’m not including fabric I buy whilst overseas. You know, once in a lifetime opportunity and what not.

What’s on your radar?