Archive for the tag “sewing”

Rainbow Twirling Skirt – Tutorial

It has been a very long time between sewing projects for me and I’ve had this idea in my head (and all the fabrics ready) for at least six months. It was so lovely today to have the house to myself for an hour or two to get it done.

And the best part for me is that all materials I needed were bought from the op shop – hooray! The rainbow silk was found first and it made me think how it would make a beautiful skirt for Miss 5 who loves rainbows. I’d also been wanting to make her a fairy dress, but wanted something nice and simple to make. So when I saw the purple singlet the idea popped into my head to put them together.
Here’s a bit of how-to if you’d like to try it yourself:

  • Stretchy singlet or t-shirt in your child’s size
  • floaty fabric for the skirt, I used squares pieces that were 85cm in length.
  • sewing machine (though it could be hand stitched), scissors, measuring tape, pins.


I followed this tutorial on making a circle skirt…

I made a few changes though.

Instead of attaching it to an elastic waist band, I attached the skirt to the bottom of the singlet.

I also left my fabric square at the bottom as the rainbow silk was already beautifully hemmed by hand. I offset it with the jade fabric, firstly because the silk was see through. And also because I like the draped, flowy effect of the points the squares make at the bottom of the dress.
Here are some photos of the process and a few extra pointers…


  Take your child’s waist measurements and make a paper pattern as per the instructions in the circle skirt tutorial (link mentioned above).
Cut the corner off.

Repeat  for the 2nd square of fabric if you are using one.

Lay them on top of each other to make a star shape as shown in the photo above.

Pin the two together around the inner circle.

With right sides facing pin the skirt to the singlet top.

Using an over locker stitch all three layers together. I also add an extra straight stitch on my regular machine for extra strength.

Hem the bottom of the skirt to the required length.

And you’re done!

Happy twirling !!




Make Your Own Clutch Purse

My latest project has been clutch purses. A while back I found this great website Noodlehead that has fantastic sewing tutorials and patterns available to buy. This is one of Anna’s patterns and I just love it, it’s pretty easy to make once you get the hang of it. All purses have been made using upcycled fabrics, here’s a few of my favourites…

This beautiful blue fabric was left over from a dress my sister made for me to wear to our mother’s wedding a couple of years ago. I found the yellow silk in an op shop and it has a beautifully subtle flower print on top.

A little bit of punk! This one was made from a denim skirt that I never got round to altering and a stretch knit singlet, both sourced from op shops.

This very retro looking purse was made using a donated scrap of floral (probably upholstery fabric) and a vintage mens tie.

The daisy fabric was scavanged from my aunty’s sewing box, as she was having a big clean out and I’ve used the lovely yellow silk again. I’m also making coin purses and I think they make a lovely set. The pattern was made up but I have basically copied this tutorial.

If you’re a sewer give it a go, they’ll make great Christmas gifts. If you’re interested in purchasing any from me, new ones are regularly being added to my facebook page.

Happy sewing 🙂

My Winter Coat Project (Part Two)

Finished at last! It was a tad optimistic to attempt this coat in 10 days, I think it was close to a month in the end. Just in time for some unseasonably warm spring weather! Although I’m sure Melbourne will provide me with a few opportunities to wear it before summer arrives.

Overall I’m pretty happy with it. Given the thickness of the blanket I knew it would be a bit tricky and perhaps bulky in places. I also made an attempt to match up the sides which I think worked out pretty well too.


The only problem that’s really bothering me is that it’s ended up somewhere between a half to one size too big!

So the question is ‘To unpick or not to unpick?’…

My Winter Coat Project (Part One)

I’ve given myself 10 days to make myself a new winter coat. I have never found one I love at op-shops and so I decided to bite the bullet and make my own.

The next step was to find some fabric. I looked at buying it new but the wool blends at Spotlight were very expensive (at least $100 for how much I needed to make the coat) and seemed very thin. I really feel the cold so I want something nice and thick. Added to that it just didn’t feel right buying new fabric, I really wanted the coat to be upcycled.

So off the op-shop and first go I found exactly what I was looking for. I had in my mind a turquoise colour and I came across a check turquoise and yellow woollen blanket – yay!

My major concern is that the fabric will be too thick for my modest sewing machine to handle. But I’ve used it to make lounge covers using upholstery fabric and I have since bought a walking foot as well, so fingers crossed…will keep you posted.

Any suggestions/handy hints very welcome!!

Quick and Easy Upcycled Bunting

We are optimistically preparing for spring at our house and cleaning out an unused area under our balcony for our 2yr old daughter. My husband has been putting together a blackboard and a wee seat and I got busy making some bunting.

This is a great project if you are new to sewing, it’s very easy and you’ll have something to show for your efforts in a couple of hours.

All you’ll need is:

  • Scraps of fabric
  • Approx 4m of 25mm bias binding (not upcycled I know – but you can make your own)
  • Pinking shears
  • Sewing scissors
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Pen

Firstly I got a cereal box out of the recycling bin and marked out a triangle to use as a template for the bunting flags. Mine measured 15cm across and 17cm in length. I then hunted through my (admittedly extensive) fabric scrap collection and chose 7 pieces that were roughly coordinating in green.

Using the template trace out 18 triangles (3 of each fabric or however many you want) and then cut them out. Use regular scissors to cut the top and then use the pinking shears to cut the sides. This gives a nice effect and also stops the fabric from fraying easily.

Next lay out the bias binding and pin the triangles along the bottom edge. Leave approximately 3cm between each triangle and about 10cm at each end of the bias binding. Then sew the triangles into place.

Now get the iron out and fold the bias binding in half so that the folded edges meet (see photo). Iron into place all the way along. You can also pin it in place as you go.

Last step: Sew along the length of the bias binding (you will have covered the tops of the triangles). At each end fold about 2.5cm towards the back and sew into place. These will form the loops to hang the bunting.

Yay! You’re done!

My First Quilt

My little possum turns 2 next week and I couldn’t let that go by without making her something special. When she saw some Maisy fabric in Spotlight she was beside herself with excitement so I decided to make her a quilt.

I’ve kept it quite simple. It’s got a purple corduroy border and green corduroy back. For the inside I chose a beautifully soft 50/50 bamboo cotton mix. It was the first time I’ve had a chance to use my Janome walking foot and it made things so much easier. Frustratingly there were no instructions on how to attach it to the sewing machine but there’s some great photo instructions here.

To make it a bit more’quilty’ I choose a few squares to stitch around…

I’m so excited to give my daughter this quilt that it’s going to be hard to wait until next week!

Upcycled Wrist Warmers

There’s a few tutorials out there for upcycled wrist warmers – this one includes instructions for lining them.

So I had a lovely stripey jumper that I just didn’t wear that often and I thought it was perfect for wrist warmers.

I already have a pair so I used one as a guide for the size. I lined it up and just added extra length on either end to allow for seams.

Next you need to try it on and mark where to sew to make a thumb hole. If you’re going to line them with other fabric you’ll need to allow extra width to account for the extra layer of fabric. I only just added enough, next time I’ll add more.

Also mark with pins down the side of the arm if the jumper is quite roomy. I made it noticeably wider here to allow for the lining fabric. It’s best if you do the pinning with the sleeve on inside out as I had to redo it after I took the photo!

Stitch where you have pinned it. I used the overlocker for the side seam but it really wasn’t necessary. A straight and zig zag stitch is fine. Then snip out the ‘V’ at the top, taking care not to snip the stitches.

Next you need to cut out the lining fabric. This can be a bit of trial and error due to the difference in stretch of each type of fabric. I used microfleece which wasn’t nearly as stretchy as the jumper and the first one I cut out was way too small. To get the measurement right I put the wrist warmer on and measured how wide it was when being worn – hence the difference you can see in the photo. Mark and stitch as you did for the outer fabric.

Next turn the outer fabric the right way out and slide over the lining fabric so the right sides are together. Pin and stitch the raw edges together.

Then turn the lining inside the outer fabric and stitch again about 1cm from the edge.

At the bottom end you will need to turn in approx 1.5cm of both fabrics and stitch them together.

The thumbs are the trickiest part. I cut off about 1cm of the lining and folded the outer fabric inside, covering the rough edge of the lining. I then handstitched the seams.

And there you have it! Lovely, cosy wrist warmers for the winter!

The Sound of Music Revisited

I’m on a roll…two upcycled items in one week! My latest piece is a summer top made from a curtain, it is floral but I think it’s a bit more stylish than the Von Trapp kids – although Maria did a great job getting all those outfits from one set of curtains!

I used the Newlook 6895 pattern, quite simple and easy to make. I made it a size bigger than I normally wear as the measurements for the waist seemed tiny. But I ended up having to take in the side seams so next time I’ll make my usual size.

The back is easy too as there’s no zip just a simple opening and button.

Can’t wait to make some more!

Upcycled T-Shirt Undies

I have a few t-shirts in my wardrobe that for some reason or other I don’t wear anymore. This one was a present from my brother and I love it but this colour looks so wrong on me. So now I’m transforming it into underwear, it feels great to be finally putting it to use.

There’s a few tutorials out there for upcycled t-shirt underwear and this is my version. I wanted to see how it would work using only the t-shirt and no other elastic or ribbing etc,  so it would be 100% upcycled. I think the result has worked quite well. I used an overlocker but you could get the same result with a zig-zag and straight stitch.

1. Firstly I got a pair of undies I really like and unpicked all the seams. I then used the pieces to make a pattern which I pinned onto my t-shirt, making sure I lined up the writing where I wanted it.

2. I used the back of the shirt to cut bands for the legs and waist. The leg bands were 7cm width (cut 2) the waist bands were 9cm width (cut 2).

Bands for legs and waist

3. I began by sewing the back, middle and front pieces together. I had marked which edges to sew together with an ‘A’. Put the front and back pieces together, right sides facing and the middle piece on top of the back piece. Overlock/finish the narrow edge of the middle piece. (Sounds confusing but see photo below – I always pin first to check I’ve got the pieces the right way round).

4. Pin together the side seams of the front and back pieces (right sides facing) and stitch.

5. Now for the leg bands. To make sure the are the right size stretch them around your leg until they feel firm. Mark the place where the ends meet and sew together the short ends.

6. And fold in half to form circular bands.

7. Take the undies (inside out) and pin the leg band to the inside of the leg hole with the raw edges lined up. Now because the leg bands are shorter in length than the leg holes you will need to stretch them as you sew. To make sure they are stretched evenly I mark the halfway points of the leg bands and leg holes and match them up.

Don't forget to stretch as you sew.

8. You also need to make sure you catch the edges of the middle piece as you go round (pictured above). The undies should now look like this…

9. Now for the waist band. Firstly sew the two pieces together then follow the same procedure for measuring the right length, sewing ends together, folding in half and attaching to the waist. And you’re done!!!!

They did turn out a little smaller than I wanted, so I’ll probably end up adding a couple of cms to the waist next time. The real test will be when I wear them tomorrow…

Goody goody yum-yum!

I Dream of Vintage

Having been inspired lately by Twinkle Sparkle Shine to hunt for some vintage sewing patterns on ebay I thought I’d share a few of the gems I’ve found. My criteria for purchasing is pretty simple – old, cute and affordable (I’ve promised myself not to spend more than $25).

1959 McCalls pattern

I love this style of dress – it reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. I plan to make this for myself (one day!).

Vogue pattern - not sure what year - 60s perhaps?

Love this very stylish Vogue pattern – cute hat too.

1960s swimsuit and sundress

I loved this set as soon as I saw it and I’m thinking that I could end my ethical clothing challenge by making these bathers next summer.

1970s McCalls dress

This 70s dress could so easily be worn today and it’s a style that suits me (and most body shapes) which is why I grabbed this pattern too. One day you may see some in the Ragged Blossom shop!

1983 summer dress & top

Another style I love – it reminds me of the wrap dresses I used to wear when I lived in Darwin.

1968 'Jackie Onassis' Dress

How beautiful is this pattern?? I call it the Jackie Onassis dress because it instantly reminded me of my niece. In 2001 the women in my family were travelling togther in Italy and my niece wore an almost identical dress to this. Some backpackers we met thought she looked just like Jackie O and she wore her wee sunglasses with the outfit.

Aiya and Susanne in Italy


Isn’t she just beautiful? She’s just about to turn 13 and I feel so old!

Last one… this will definitely be making an appearance in the Ragged Blossom 2012/2013 Summer Collection.

1976 wrap dress & top

As much as I love all these patterns it’s just not the same as hunting through op shops in the hope of finding something special, so that will be the last of them for a while. Also my husband has been checking the mailbox before me lately and has just clicked onto what I’ve been up to! In my defense, I think he should be happy that I’m not into expensive antiques!!

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