Felt Bag

There was a One Day Challenge last year where you had one day from 10.00 to 17.00 to make something. It was an SCA thing so supposed to be medieval but time got away from me and I didn’t have the material for the dress I wanted to make.

I ended up making a basic felt bag with the idea of adding flowers to make it look like a basket of flowers.


The bag wasn’t too difficult to make and after some thought I used squares and rectangles, and a lace zip.


By 16.15ish I was tired of flowers. The flowers took a lot longer than I thought they would but by the end of the day, I had a reasonable start.


Things I learnt: 1. Random placement doesn’t work well. I ended up with odd gaps which I filled with plastic flower buttons. 2. Make the flowers first, then stitch to the bag. 3. Bigger flowers. I think it looks okay, but for real impact I think bolder flower would have been better. 4. Sewing with felt is rather nice. It’s easy to cut and doesn’t fray; you can also work it quite a bit.

I glued a piece of hard card to the base of the bag to keep the square shape. Over all, a cute bag.





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Posted by on 19/03/2017 in Crafts


Covered seams

I’ve always loved the look of bias bound seams, especially if the bias is in a contrast or print. I don’t do it that often, mainly because I don’t often make jackets. But I’m busy making a jacket out of a rather heavy material and I didn’t want the seams to be too solid so I decided to cover the seams with bias binding rather than bind the edges.


I stitched the seams on their seam allowance – you don’t want to change the shape/size of your garment.


Then I cut off half the seam allowance so the bias binding would cover the seams.


Next I ironed the seams open and flat – this material took a lot steam but I got them flat.


I tucked one edge of the bias binding under the one seam edge…


…and the other edge of the bias binding over the other seam edge.


I ironed the seam again to make it flat and secure.


Lastly, I stitched along the edges of the bias binding as close to the edge as possible.


Next came the curved seams of the bust. These I pinned in place, especially by the curve.


I carefully stitched the bias binding keeping the curve by lifting the material.


All stitched in place – inside…


…and the outside.


All bodice seams done.


And a finish at the shoulder seam to complete the look. Covered seams

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Posted by on 17/02/2017 in Clothes, Tips/Ideas


Hand sewing

Hand sewing isn’t my favourite thing. I can do it, and do it well, but I always spend a large amount of time thinking about what I could do to avoid hand sewing. When I was younger I didn’t try to hand sew anything, I would machine it and that was it. Now I know how much better a garment can look when certain areas or places are hand sewn.


Catching a chiffon overlay round the zip is a good example. A few thread of the lining and a few threads of the overlay, as seen in the picture above, to secure the two layers together.


For a floaty fabric and a floaty effect, hand sewing the overlay really is worth the effort – and it’s not even a lot of effort. Just some concentration, a steady hand and some lovely tunes mean a world of difference in the result.


It’s the same idea for lining for a dress or skirt with a zip. It also hides all the raw edges and creates a beautiful finish. In the picture above, the lining is pinned to the zip – it’s important not to pull the lining skew or tight as it will ruin the fit of the garment.


Catch the lining at regular intervals with a small stitch. Because the zip is sew on the main material of the garment, you don’t need to sew the lining down, but more keep it in place so it doesn’t move when wearing the garment.


A lovely, neat inside finish.


I often do hand sewing on the ironing board. It gives me a flat surface to work on and the excess fabric is not only away from where I’m working, it hangs neatly instead of being rumpled up and possibly creasing.

A little extra time and you’ll have a much better sew.


Sari Vest

When I go to the Community Chest Carnival in Wynberg, I always go to the Dutch tent for liquorice and the India tent for saris, and when the Polish tent was there, vodka. But back to the saris. The saris range in both design and price so you can really spend hours looking through them. I tend to go for ones with small end designs and that aren’t gauzy.


The main print of this sari was completely different to the end design. I made a 50’s dress out the main body of the sari and kept this end for ages – it’s just so dramatic. I wanted to make a skirt but it was too narrow. Then I thought of a top but there wouldn’t have been enough space for me to get in and out. I really didn’t want to lose the design by cutting it up too much.


Inspiration struck when I found a maroon invisible zip in my zip box. A button band would’ve taken too much of the material but a zip took up much less. I put the zip in first.

Using the zip as the centre back (where it was going to be), I positioned the pattern pieces matching the arm holes.


I didn’t dart it anywhere. I stitched the shoulders and hemmed the armholes and neckline with a small fold over hem.

Front and back. Drapey but a little gape-y so not for work but great to wear.

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Posted by on 04/01/2017 in Clothes, Tips/Ideas


Cosplay – Shinsengumi

After making my cravat for my Hijikata cosplay, I started on my jacket and waistcoat.


I used black minimat and polyester lining. I lucked out with the bias binding and zip being exactly the same colour.



I didn’t have a jacket pattern that I could use for the Shinsengumi uniform so I decided to modify a shirt pattern from Burda 7/99. This was not a great idea as the jacket was rather tight with the shirt and waistcoat.

The things I added for the cosplay were fake epaulets with buttons, cuffs with bias detail and buttons, rigid collar and bias binding detail. I added pockets to carry my phone but also to have somewhere to put my hands. I decided to line the jacket as it’s easier to put on and take off a lined jacket. I also wanted a breast pocket so I could kept my fake cigarette close at hand – Hijikata is a heavy smoker.


The original shirt was a little short for my purposes so I added 10cm to the bottom of the pattern pieces. I used the cut fabric pieces as a pattern for the lining.


I drew a basic pocket shape onto my material and cut out four pieces.


I put the pockets in the side seams. They turned out okay for carry small things but they didn’t work so well for hands.


I put the material and lining pieces together following the shirt pattern. On the lining I added the breast pocket.


The fake cigarette ended up getting stuck in the pocket so I couldn’t haul it out smoothly for the cosplay. I stitched a part of the breast pocket into a special pocket for it.


I cut two rectangles for the fake epaulets.


Fake epaulets stitched in place. You can see stay stitching around the neckline. A button was added to the epaulet once the collar and sleeve were in place.


I used the original collar as the base for the rigid collar and added the top bit which got folded over.


I stiffened the entire collar with a medium weight stiffener and the bottom half of the collar with a heavy weight stiffener.


Collar attached to lined jacket.


I cut two rectangles for the cuffs and edged them with bias binding. I stitched a fake overlap to create the required look.


The buttons are wooden and painted to match the bias binding.


Cuffs added to the sleeves – cuff right side to sleeve wrong side and then turned to right way round.


I did some spot stitches to keep the cuffs in place.

I put off doing the front for ages – it became a last minute con’s this weekend thing.


With lots of measuring and chalk lines, I positioned the bias for the little rectangles. Once they were done, I biased the entire edge of the jacket – front, hem and collar.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the construction of the waistcoat. It was between taking progress picture or getting it done. I used the the same pattern pieces as the jacket (front and back). It’s not lined, and the zip in front acts as both fastener and bias binding as it’s the same colour as the bias binding that’s around the armholes and bottom of the waistcoat. Another sad note was that the wig order didn’t arrive on time so it was regular Hijikata with my natural hair instead of gender bent Hijikata with pigtail braids.

Hijikata cosplay

Vice-commander Hijikata Toushirou

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Posted by on 30/12/2016 in Cosplay


Poofy Petticoat

I’ve always wanted to make a petticoat for the 50’s style dresses I have but it’s all the gathering that’s put me off. Recently I met up with my bestie for some sewing and thought today’s the petticoat day. Some of the photos are at her place and some at mine, and at different times of the day so the lighting isn’t consistent.

I used white polyester lining for the yoke and frills of the petticoat but white cotton for the waistband – only because I like the feeling of cotton. I finished the bottom with some polyester lace.


First I cut out the frills – three lengths of 30cm x 1.5m. Tier one is 1.5m and tier two is 3m.

One the left is my waistband in cotton – waist measurement plus seam allowance. The right is my yoke and frills. The yoke is my waist and hip measurements plus seam allowance. The yoke and elasticated waistband remain open on one side so I can get in and out easily but not have too much material around my waist.


As soon as I started sewing, I realised my yoke was way too wide and would have made the petticoat stick out too far under the dresses. I cut it shorter and added the waistband leaving the one side open.


I gathered the first tier using two rows of gathering – three might have been better in case a row snapped but I got tired of sewing the gathering stitch…


The gathered wrong side of tier is stitched to the right side of the yoke – on top as you can see in the picture. It takes a bit of concentration to keep the pieces in place as you sew, but, as James May says, slow and steady wins the race.


Leave a seam allowance on the gathered tier so it can be stitched up later. The yoke isn’t stitched close.


First tier attached to yoke.

At this point I had the thought that first tier was attached to to the yoke with a good amount of gathering and that the second tier was going onto a longer hem and so I should add an additional 1.5m length to the second tier for a better amount of gather. Thank goodness I didn’t.

It was difficult enough getting the second tier of 3m gathered to the first one of 1.5m. I misjudged and had to cut off a bit.

I stitched the open side closed to the yoke and reinforced the top of the stitching a bit.


Main parts done – elastic and lace waiting.


Another error – when I cut the waistband, I had the black elastic in mind and not the narrower white elastic. I ran some stitching around the waistband to keep the narrower elastic in place before threading it through.

A waistband that fits the elastic creates a smoother look without excess bunching of extra material.


Elastic in – the waistband and yoke remain open.

I stitched the lace upside down to the right side of the petticoat. I then flipped it the right way and stitched it down.


The complete petticoat.

It’s not really the massive amount of poof I had in my head, but it gives the dress a bit of bounce. Also, the under layer doesn’t stick to my legs anymore.

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Posted by on 20/12/2016 in Uncategorized


Box pleat skirt

A simple afternoon sew – high waist skirt shaped with box pleats.

I had 2m of brown shweshwe that was originally going to be used for a light jacket but changed my mind.


First I put in zip at the back.


I divided the skirt into eight points – back (zip) and front centre, sides and back and front sides.

I took the total measurement of the material and subtracted my waist measurement. I then divided it by six to get the total box pleat measurement. The back and front centre didn’t get pleats. The box pleat measurement was divided by two so I could measure from the pinned centre point of the box pleat: 198 – 84 = 114 /6 = 19 / 2 = 9.5


Box pleat centre point to box pleat edge at 9.5cm.

Centre point and edge pinned and ready.


It was completely unplanned as I was experimenting with the box pleat idea, but the pleats ended up fitting into each other. It was at this point that I figured some adjustment might need to be made if using a different length of material.


Bring the centre point of the box pleat to the edge of the box pleat and pin in place. For ease of pinning, I did the centre pleat first the the side pleats.


The pleats really slotted in with no room to spare.


One side pinned and done.


Repeat on the other side. Above you can see how the front has no pleats. I tried it on at this point just to check all was good and fitting.



I used the selvedge as the waistband and hem. I stitched along the edge of the selvedge to secure the box pleats.


I stitched a second line across the top to flatten and further secure the box pleats. I ended up adding a third middle stitch to secure the selvedge from stretching more than anything else.

The finished box pleat skirt.

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Posted by on 02/10/2016 in Clothes