The Great Finishing {Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Dress}


This weekend was spent finishing off a pile of UFOs I had languishing in a basket, mocking me for too long. Most of it was really boring and involved unpicking and sewing on buttons, but this Rosa was pick of the litter.


I wasn’t sure why I had ignored it for so long. I cut it out just after making my last one and I adore the fabric, so it’s not that I was feeling particularly uninspired. Then when I was getting towards the end, it hit me. Buttons. Twelve of them. It always feels like a huge task, but when I get into the swing of it, it’s fine. And yeah, my machine has a one step buttonhole function. If I had to do those suckers manually it would be a different story. There’s also a lot of top stitching, which I have done in grey thread because my top stitching isn’t something that I want to draw attention to.


I would also like to point out that I’ve made everything I’m wearing except my shoes and tights. And I hear you say ‘Yeah? So you made a dress? That’s nothing new, Katie.’ That’s true, but think about what you can’t see. Yep, bra and knickers are made by me also. And since I’m bragging, would you take a look at the projection and shape of that right boob? God I love this bra. It’s Kwik Sew 3594. I have four of them now. A lot of women prefer a rounded shape to the well, boob shape. But I personally do like a boob-shaped boob. Yeah, we went there. I just wanted to highlight it because a lot of people seem to think handmade bras are unsupported-wrestling-puppies-in-a-sack kind of situations, but I assure you they aren’t.


Onward. You want to know where everything is from:

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Dress

Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray

Buttons: thrifted. Got a bag of about 200 wooden buttons for $2. Do recommend.

Shoes: Vintage Dr Martens scored on ebay. Not sewn obviously, but lots of people ask me about them.


Ignore the orange ear. Apparently he’s been wandering through the garden, helping the bees pollinate. Still tilted to the left, as you can see. Bloody dog and his bloody ears.

I haven’t shared much about the construction of this Rosa as I covered it in my last one. I didn’t make any changes except the placement of the sleeve tabs – I just rolled them to where I wanted and put them in the right spot. Easy. Now excuse me as I swan off to the yacht club in my nautical dress.

Kidding. I’m going to reheat leftover Thai and do some work.


It’s Good Friday {Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees}


It didn’t start as a Good Friday. In fact, it started with me in tears, hugging my dog on the floor. Which I should probably explain. He wasn’t feeling well yesterday, a bit off his food, a bit drooly and just unhappy really. I thought I’d take him to the vet then because I didn’t want him to get worse and end up paying a billion dollars in vet fees on a public holiday. HA. So I took him, they did bloods and basically were none the wiser. Diagnosis: maybe he ate something he shouldn’t have. I suspected ears, but I ain’t no vet. Fast forward to this morning and he had deteriorated into a stumbling, circling drunken sailor with the inability to focus his eyes. It was upsetting, I was concerned about the billion dollar vet fees. But alas, I had seen this before. Vestibular disease, middle ear infection related. I’d bet my life savings on it.


(Old pic, he’s firmly on the floor today).

Long story short, I have a couple of angels in my life that were looking out for us. Phone calls were made, strings were pulled and Sid is now resting comfortably on all the right medication. Tomorrow he’ll have a proper check up, but for now he is ok. And I saved a billion dollars. MARVELOUS. What a bloody Good Friday.


So what does one do when she is stressing out about her dog? She sews the Turia Dungarees that she’s been meaning to make for close to a year. Oh yes. So wise. Spoiler: I made so many stupid mistakes. Ridiculous mistakes that I haven’t made for a really long time. And I made them one after another. But they’re done.


So pants scare me. Not nice, wide leg, very little can go wrong pants. No. Not all-forgiving stretch leggings. No. I thought overalls were a nice progression. Not tailored pants, not jeans. Denim with a bit of stretch, no fly or any of that jazz. Should be cool right? Nup.


It’s not very apparent in the pics (thanks to the colour black), but I have delightful drag lines in the crotch region. Vertical drag lines that some might call…..


But less cleaving up the middle, more a framing of the sides, if you will.

A bit of googling provided this great resource from Closet Case Files. I heeded the advice, but it made very little difference. When I was trying to figure those pesky lines out, I was pinching out fabric here and there to see how I could get rid of them and I suspect that maybe there’s just too much fabric in that region for me? I’m still not entirely sure. Pants, man. What mysterious creatures.


I unpicked and adjusted those suckers no less than three times. Have you ever unpicked flat felled seams? It’s not a good time. I did manage to make a bit of a difference, but some of those lines remain. In the end I gave up. So advise me wise sewists, what do you think? How do I get rid of those suckers?

Ooh, I almost forgot:

Turia Dungarees pattern here.

Denim is Telio.

Bib and brace thingies I bought locally from East Coast Fabrics.


I have made this pattern before, but majorly hacked it into a skirt. Because pants are scary and I’m more of a dress gal.


A couple of changes I made:

Bias binding to finish the back underarm bits instead of folding stitching. Did that last time too. No raw edges.

Narrowed the legs.

Shortened the legs.

Gave up on the flat felled crotch seam after so many adjustments and just did a mock version. I know, I’m the worst.

Verdict: I don’t know. I want to like them, I really do. Maybe they will grow on me.




Fancy Pants {Megan Nielsen Flint Pants}


So after making the shorts version of these pants as a practice run to test fit (and realising that I actually loved them), I got around to grabbing some black rayon and making the pants version.

Yes black is a nightmare to photograph and I’m sorry.

This time I made the tie version, using a black and white cotton printed with birds for the pocket lining and tie contrast. There’s also a little button inside the waistband to make everything more secure (which I accidentally sewed a bit close to the edge. Oops).


In hindsight, the rayon I used might be a bit too light. They are slightly transparent in the light. Also the band tends to fold over on itself when I sit. Still wearable though. These ended up being full length instead of the 3/4 they are supposed to be, because I’m short. I only did a narrow hem to keep them full length.


There’s not much else to say really! They’ll be great for work – it’s always a bit tough to dress for photography work. You need to be relatively dressy, but still have room to squat and move without flashing anyone. It’s a fine line.

I love them, they fit well, they sew up really quickly and I already have plans for my next pair. I’m thinking the 3/4 length in something quite structured, like sateen. Maybe even wool, if I can find the right one. Totally impractical for our climate, but they’d be awesome anyway.



Girls Girls Girls {Kwik Sew 3594}


Or bras, bras, bras for my girls, girls, girls.

Yes, this post is all about bra sewing. Yes it’s a long post. No there aren’t any photos of them on. There’s a nipple situation with all of them and even I can’t go that far. But hey, if you’re keen to read about bra sewing, stick with me.


I picked up Kwik Sew last time Spotlight were having a sale and I needed that third pattern to grab the 3 for $12 bargain they occasionally do. I thought it looked quite vintagey, wasn’t a fan of that centre seam and there was no mention of wires. Hmmm. Tossed in the stash for another time. I found it again when I was going through my sewing room during The Great Clean Up of 2017. Maybe it was time to give it a go. And since I ended up making three of them, you can probably guess I ended up loving it.


The first version I made was the velvet green number. Because who doesn’t need a ridiculous velvet green bra, right? Nobody, that’s who. Helpfully, the pattern doesn’t have any measurements to help you choose your pattern size. Nah mate, it tells you to use your normal size. OH MY NORMAL SIZE. COOL.

FYI, while I’m being completely open and honest, my RTW size is somewhere around a 14DD/16D. Maybe. It’s been a long time since I’ve bought a bra. In a Pin Up Girl Classic I’m a 40D, in an Ohhh Lulu Cindy I’m a 38D, in an Orange Lingerie Marlborough I’m a 40DD – you get the idea right? I compared the pattern pieces to my PUG Classic and decided to start with the 40D. And it was actually pretty close. The band fit well, there was just a bit extra in the pointy bit of the cups. It’s quite a bullety shape. Oh and you will notice I made some changes right away – straightened the bridge, removed the centre seam, separated the bridge and band pieces and added wires). I also didn’t follow the instructions at all, just went with the method I learned from Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy class. (Affiliate link).


Still, old greenie is quite wearable (I have her on today actually). Yeah I made matching knicks, they’re self drafted from the Beverly Johnson underwear class (Affiliate link).

Keen to get this fit right, I made another right away. What can I say, it’s a comfy and simple bra and I love the shape. This time (on the advice of my bra sewing group – yes, it’s a thing), I just flattened out the curve of the lower and upper cup pieces. Worked a treat, fit is spot on – but I did lose the bullet shape.



The lower cups and bridge are from a scrap of silk dupioni, cut on the bias for the cups. Yes I break all the rules. I’m a dangerous woman.


I thought I’d be cool with rounding out that bullet shape, but I sort of missed it. So I decided to go for a third round. This time just re cutting the cups as a 40C instead of D. PERFECTION. Bullet shape remained, but no puckering in the cups. YASSSSS.


And yeah, she turned out more grandma than I expected, but I wanted a neutralish bra that wasn’t nude or white.

It’s probably worth noting that the pattern calls for tricot and non stretch fabric for the cups. I used stretch for everything except the silk cups. You’ll notice that I lined it with bra lining though, which has no give at all. This is particularly important to stop your boobs from flopping about uncontrollably in stretch fabric. Trust me. Just baste the pieces together, it will make your life much easier.


So freaking happy. With all of them really, but I do love that grey one.

So where the hell do I get bra bits, you ask? Well, let me tell you:

Green Bra:

Stretch velvet – op shop (sorry).

Spotty Mesh on upper cups – Pitt Trading

Power Mesh for back band – Remnant Warehouse

Lining, strapping, elastics, wires, rings and sliders – Booby Traps.

Red Bra:

Tartan silk – garage sale (sorry).

Little red buttons – cannibalised from another bra.

Everything else – Booby Traps

Grey Bra:

Everything – Booby Traps

(Yes Booby Traps is awesome. I find bits and pieces at Remnant Warehouse too. They often have super different fabrics and cool power mesh. Pitt Trading has awesome lace and spandex).


Shorts Denial {Megan Nielsen Flint Shorts}


Here’s the thing about shorts. I don’t wear them. At least since I’ve had kids anyway. My thighs are something I’ve always felt compelled to disguise, so shorts have been off the menu. However, when I saw Megan’s Flint pattern for the first time, I knew I had to have it. The shorts didn’t blip on my radar, but those pants, holy hell – I needed those pants on my body STAT.


So when my pattern arrived yesterday from the lovely Stitch 56, I opened it to have a look and decided that I’d trace it out then and there, but buy some fabric for the pants when I had a chance. Except then I got a bit nervous. I’d not really made pants before (only Megan’s Tania culottes) and even though I rarely make toiles, I figured it was probably a good idea for these – especially since the pants require about 3 metres of fabric and I didn’t want to waste that. So off I toddled to my sewing room and went over my stash, looking for enough fabric suitable for a toile. I remembered I had this big denim off cut picked up from our local op shop last week. Weird for me, since I don’t really sew with denim, but it was cheap and heavy duty and I figured it would come in handy for something. Not enough for pants, but hey – I could make shorts right? This was just for fitting purposes, I don’t actually have to wear them, do I?


Except yes I do have to wear them because they’re bloody awesome! Waaaaaaahhhhhh! They fit my fat thighs, with room! They have fun pocket lining! They have cute buttons! They wrap in the coolest way! The fit is pretty great too. I don’t need to change anything. Although a bonus of my measurements (42/34/44) is that I fit exactly into a lot of patterns without any changes. In MN patterns I’m an XL.


(I took my pics in my sewing room because there’s the remnants of a tropical cyclone raging outside. School has been cancelled, husband is supposed to be home from work. It’s quite a day. Sewing room was the only place that had a sliver of light. Sorry that they’re a bit crap. And yeah, I could have waited for pics but I’m wearing them today, sooooo….).

I used a scrap of anchor chambray for the pocket lining, because of course nautical. I even used little silver anchor buttons that I’d been hoarding forever on the waistband. Because nautical. But then, they didn’t look quite right. Maybe a bit toooo yacht club. So I changed them for little bunny and moon fabric covered ones instead. Also from an op shop. Fabric is Luna Sol.


Which brings the total cost of these shorts to approximately $6.50. That’s without my labor costs, obviously – but let’s conveniently ignore that. Jokes aside, they only took me just over an hour and a half to sew, which isn’t bad.


So besides going together really well, feeling somewhat high end and generally just being really cool, you know what else I love about Megan’s patterns? (and I know this is a soppy love fest, but I swear I’m not being paid and I paid for my own patterns, I just really like her stuff) – there’s always suggestions in the instructions for tweaks to make them your own. One of the suggestions was to add buttons to the other side of the waistband too. So I did. Now I have cool shorts. Pant to come when I find something suitably swishy and drapey and delightful.



Skull x Floral Goodness {Vintage Simplicity 5445 Dress}


You might remember Simplicity 5445 from such sews as Banana Dress… and that’s about it really. I wasn’t sold on that version because I wasn’t feeling the love for the skirt. I think I’m just too used to really full skirts. Plus vintage patterns sort of exaggerate that tiny waist/big skirt ratio, don’t they? So what’s a girl to do? Change it, of course. Because that’s half the beauty of sewing.


Just before Christmas, those awesome ladies at Cotton and Steel messaged me to ask if I’d like some fabric. I know. I was shocked too. It was the best. They sent me around 3 yards of this floral quilting weight cotton. Now, florals aren’t usually my jam, but I do make exceptions. This one is an exception. The colours are awesome and I like the style of those cute little flowers. Plus it’s called ‘Tuesday Night Ladies Bowling League 1972’. Not even kidding. Best fabric name ever. The little skulls are from their Boo range and I already had them in my stash. I am a big C&S fan.


You didn’t think I’d make a dress without pockets, did you?


So. Changes. I cut out the bodice as normal and cut out my regular gathered skirt panels, which are basically big rectangles the width of the fabric. Mind blowing, I know. I added the pocket pieces to the skirt pieces, sewed up  one side seam and left the other open, then gathered as normal. I constructed the bodice as per the pattern instructions, but left the right side seam open. I then attached the bodice to the skirt and added an invisible zip in that right side seam. Now I can get in and out of it very easily.


The buttons are those self covered, clicky clacky metal ones. I’ve never used them before but they were super easy and I love them. I picked them up at an op shop.


Welcome to my wardrobe, new friend!


Not Sewing {Spoonflower Wallpaper}


Booking in the concreter to update our floors sparked a bit of a cascade of intervention and I decided that we needed a feature wall of wallpaper in our loungeroom. Oh yes we did. I’d been eyeing off the Spoonflower wallpaper for a really long time and this was the perfect excuse to order. But what to chose? Oh GOD. Decision making is not something I usually agonise over, but this would be in the middle of our house. Will it make the room look smaller? Will it date really quickly? Will it be a nightmare to put up? Turns out I don’t care. Inspired by Pinterest, I was gravitating towards botanical prints, something leafy. I had planned on banana leaves, but didn’t find the perfect print. In the end, I decided on this monstera print by Charlotte Winter because I loved the watercolour vibe and also how vibrant it is (no muted tones in this house!).

Here’s a bit of my Pinterest Inspo:




When the wallpaper arrived, I was bloody thrilled to be honest. The colour was really saturated and exactly as the website images showed. But alas, I had to tuck it away for a couple of months until our floor was done (the last thing I wanted was for it to get covered in concrete dust or damaged during the process).


So yesterday was the day! Putting up wallpaper is definitely a two person job, so I made sure I enlisted the help of my husband to do the hard yards, while I stood back and checked that the whole shebang was straight. Hot tip: Most walls aren’t completely square. We lined it up with the side of the wall and it went above the ceiling at some points, but that’s cool because you just cut that off later. We used the smooth, water activated paper and here’s another hot tip: really wet that sucker down. It worked much better than ‘lightly dampened with with sponge’. Once the top was where we wanted it, we taped it in place with masking tape and rolled the rest down the wall, matching the pattern as closely as humanly possible (in some points it’s slightly off, but I really don’t think you can tell). Then using the wet sponge, we smoothed out all the air bubbles.


I’m pretty damn pleased with how it turned out. My only niggling concern is that it gets so hot and humid here that the glue will give up on me (especially since the paper is removable). Anyway, time will tell. In other news, dress sewing for everyone else started again this week! Can’t wait to update the shop with all the new beauties, which will probably happen next weekend, all going well.

Concrete Love {Sewing Room Makeover}


I am lucky enough to have a spare room as a dedicated sewing space in our house. It gets lots of natural light, is close to the front door (so I can see people coming and watch the kids play in the yard) and has built in wardrobes with lots of storage. One thing that has always bugged me though are those terracotta tiles. Just a cosmetic thing, but they throw an ugly orange cast on all my images and we always had plans to get rid of them.

This week, that finally happened. We decided on polished concrete, which meant ripping up the existing tiles (and carpet in our lounge), then getting the professionals in to grind down the slab to expose some of the stones and then polish it until it is shiny.

This was the before:


And the after:


Because the slab is 17 years old, it does have cracks and there is a faint grid visible on the concrete underneath from the tiles. The cracks got filled in though and to be honest, I quite like the faults. It’s definitely not a floor for the perfectionist though.



Most of my dressmaking fabric fits onto the big shelves and my lingerie fabric on the smaller shelves. All my patterns are in the lockers. Looking forward to getting in and starting to sew because I haven’t been able to do much in there for quite a while. If I can stop staring at my new floor for long enough….

Sunshiney Coat Sewing {Vintage Simplicity 8591}


Do you remember that episode of The Great British Sewing Bee when Jade made that awesome vintage coat with 3/4 sleeves, cute collar and covered buttons? No? Just me? Well, from that moment on I had to have a coat like that. It was love.


So when I was raiding my friend Phoebe’s pattern stash in Melbourne the other week and found this beauty, I almost did a little happy dance on the spot. Or maybe I just muttered ‘Heck yes’ to myself. I’ll never tell.

Since then my insta sewists have informed me that this pattern has been reissued as Simplicity 1197, so you can get your hands on it if you are that way inclined.


As soon as I saw that pattern, my fabric stash flashed before my eyes and I knew exactly what I would use. This amazing yellow wool blanket for the outer and cotton sheet for the lining. Both vintage, both scored from op shops. Match made in heaven.


Then, to complete the holy trinity, I found these vintage green buttons at another op shop on Monday. Bigger than anything I had in my stash, I knew they would be ideal for the coat. But how cool would it be if I could cover them in the sheet fabric? Could I? A quick google told me that I could and here we are in cute button heaven.

And even though it was still stupid hot today (hello, autumn) at a balmy 34 degrees, I just tortured myself by sitting with a woolen blanket in my lap most of the day. Sweating it out, sewing this beast. Once I have an idea in my head, there’s no stopping me. I’m stubborn that way.


So, details. Every piece of the coat is vintage and scored from op shops, which I think is kind of special. As far as fit goes, it has its quirks. This pattern is for a 38 inch bust, which falls short of my 42 inches. But again, knowing how vintage patterns love their ease, I risked it and it’s completely fine. I love the fit actually. It’s quite possibly designed for a climate much colder than ours, therefore needing room for multiple layers. But since the most I’ll wear under this is a long sleeved t shirt, we’re all good there.


Can we talk pattern matching? Because I was pretty successful with the front and sleeves, but failed on the back. Oops.


See those raglan sleeves? They puzzled me at first, but I love them. They fit really well on my shoulders. I thought the darts were a bit weird, but they’ve grown on me. The only major change I made was to the length. If you look at the pattern illustration, it shows the coat hitting just above the knee – when I tried this baby on it was hitting about 10cms above my ankle. Um, what? Were women of the 60s amazing amazon women? I looked like I was wearing my dad’s dressing gown. So off came about 40cms. I could have made it shorter again, more just below waist level, but I’m happy enough with how it turned out.


Welt pockets. OMG. First time attempting those sneaky bastards. I was trying to follow the directions on the pattern, but because vintage patterns assume errrrrrybody knows how to sew, the instructions left me throwing them and saying all the swears. I had a little google and found some good tutorials, but I figured the best way to learn was to just jump in. Jumping in is hecking scary when it involves slashing your fabric. So they aren’t the best. But they’re in. And I learned something. Sort of.


The pattern calls for a lot of hand sewing. Basically the entire lining is hand stitched to the outer. LOL, no. I machine stitched it to the facings and then hand sewed the sleeves and hem. Again, sort of. I don’t really know what I’m doing and probably should have used a blind stitch, but I’m happy with how it turned out.


My machine refused to auto do the buttonholes due to the thickness of the fabric, so they’re a heady combo of machine hack job and hand sewn hack job. Also I think maybe the sleeves should be shorter? Are they in the ‘oops she cut her sleeves too short’ zone? They look in line with the illustration, but I’m not sure.



Thanks for reading such an epic post and sorry I look slightly drunk in most of the images today. Not sure what’s going on there. It has been an epic couple of weeks.

Banana Dress Giveaway {Vintage Simplicity 5445}


It occurred to me today that when I’m anxious about something, I sew. I sew when I’m happy too, but my stressy sewing is all about new patterns and the trickier makes. Stuff just for me. I think it’s because I have to concentrate harder, therefore pushing everything else out of my brain. That’s my theory anyway.

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. BTW things are fine, we’ve just had to make some pretty big decisions and there’s a bit of upheaval. Coming to the end of it now. So anyway, last weekend I was down staying with some of my beautiful friends in Melbourne and this beautiful friend has quite the pattern stash. Quite the vintage pattern stash. It pretty much brought tears to my eyes. So I pinched a couple of the patterns to trace off and make. One of them was this gem:


Version 1 with sleeves. It had to be done. If you’ve ever looked at vintage patterns before (this one is from 1964) you will know they only contain the one size, listed as bust size, rather than the nested patterns today. Bigger sizes are like hens teeth. A bust of 37 inches is still 5 inches smaller than mine at 42. But in my experience, vintage patterns love the hell out of their ease, so I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to grade this up much at all to fit me. And guess what? I was right.


I compared the bodice pattern pieces to my beloved McCalls 6696 and there was only 1.5cm difference, so I added that to the vintage pattern. Sorted. This one has a simple collar (no stand) and facing.


Technically, this is a toile – a practice version of the pattern. Some people will make their toiles (or muslins) from calico, old sheets or some other cheapish fabric. Because then if it doesn’t fit, you haven’t wasted your good fabric. I tend to make my muslins from fabric in my stash that I’m not super attached to. That way if they do work, they are still wearable. That’s what I’ve done here. But while the dress fits and it’s a cool print, I’ve decided that the shape of the skirt is really not me. I’m going to make it again with a much fuller skirt.


For that reason, I’ve decided to give this one away, rather than let it sit in my cupboard not getting worn. I should really give away more of them, so watch this space. It’s going to be a thing.

Anyway, about the dress.

It’s made from a relatively lightweight poly cotton and has wooden buttons, a collar and ginormous pockets. It’s tea length on me (I’m 165cm) and has a few gathers in the front and back of the skirt.

It’s an Australian size 14-16, but please go by the measurements. Mine are bust: 42 inches, waist 34 inches and hip 44 inches. Slightly smaller than these measurements will work, but not any bigger. If this sounds like you, please enter by commenting below and let me know why you need this dress. I will choose a winner in a couple of days (Australian entries only please) and post her out to you.

Thanks gang 🙂