Sewing patterns

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The girls at the PRDU get together yesterday were rather amazed by my Magic Pattern Book. I must admit, I kind of take it for granted – but their reactions reminded me that others might like to see how I do it!

See, I’m a hopeless pattern-aholic. Seriously. Sometimes I buy patterns just to read the instructions! So obviously I don’t remember all of them. But more importantly – I’m not good at estimating the amount of fabric to buy for a particular design. I know there are common rules to use – twice your length plus this or that – but that often results in having to be rather creative in getting an outfit out of the amount of material available.

So – I either scan (for out of print patterns) or pop over to the pattern company’s website and catch an image of the pattern. Then I stick it in my Magic Pattern Book, and write the amounts of fabric I’ need for my size, and usually any other notions I’ll need. My book is an A5 “visual diary”, available at any office store or newsagents – just blank pages work better for me.

book click to see bigger!

Once I’ve actually made a pattern the idea is to write notes and add swatches of fabric. I don’t always remember to do that! But I did on the left hand side of the page you can see above.

Sue’s version of the book is better organised than mine- she cleverly found a notebook with coloured sections, and has divided heres into the same sort of pattern categories that the Big 4 companies use in their catalogs – tops, skirts, wardrobes, etc.

Meantime, I’ve still lost that koala pattern – methinks there is now a HUUUUUGE Frustration Field in place…

WELL! Yesterday Sue and I ventured down the hill and into the big smoke – and right out of the big smoke again to the faaaaaaaaaar side of BrisVegas. We met up with a bunch of the girls from the Pattern Review Down Under message board – frustratingly, my camera didn’t work, so I can’t show you a picture!!

We started at East Coast Fabrics at Lawnton. A few of us HAD to buy this fabric:
It’s cotton, a good weight for a coat or a skirt, and was only $5.95 a metre!! (That’s my Magic Pattern Book on it for scale – the book is A5, which is 5.8 X 8.3 inches. More on the Magic Pattern Book soon.) I’m thinking it will become either this coat
106(#106 from Burda WOF 4/09 – because I have been in LOVE with this pattern wince I first saw it; and even more so when I saw Anne’s gorgeous floral version!

The other possible pattern is this “Hortensia” coat from Ottobre Spring/Summer 09.
Ottobre Hortensia

We then managed to get lost (It was the Magic Talking Lady’s fault! She kept blanking out her little screen map and tsking at us: “RE-Calc-u-lating!”) and find our way again to Indooroopilly shops, where we had lunch, and a shop at Sckaff’s Fabrics. I was VERY GOOD and though tempted (mostly by their hats!) I didn’t buy anything there – this time!

We were reluctant to say goodbye to the PRDU girls, but were late getting on the road already. Still, we figured a quick stop at Gardam’s (just around the corner from the Indooroopilly shops, after all!) was in order. Sue managed to find exactly what she’d been looking for; and I grabbed this 95% poly/ 5% wool tweedy/herringbone fabric to make a skirt.
poly wool

The trip home was looooooooong! It took us ages to get anywhere – major roadworks combined with the first night of the school holidays left us with plenty of time to put on a CD of ’80s favourites and bop along… two forty-somethings singing “my job is very boring I’m an OFFICE CLERK!” with great gusto, and “air drumming” along with Adam Ant… it passed the time, anyway!

We’d already booked for a girl’s night out with friends from the gym, but I was soooo tired I left early. I did manage to get a leeeetle bit squiffy and attempt to teach my favourite drunk tongue-twisters to a couple of the girls!

Bed day today. If it’s not drizzly tomorrow I hope to get my new fabric washed and the patterns traced – because I neeeeeed a floral coat, don’t you think?!


So there he is, in all his rhinosity! Little Caitlin, who has just had her first birthday, is the Aussie baby of South African parents, and she apparently thinks that his best feature is his handle – otherwise known as a horn!

And his Grandma – who is about to leave for Namibia to lead a safari tour – was UTTERLY thrilled that not only is he a white rhino, but his mouth is in the right place (not all cartoon-y anthropomorphic) and he has authentically short sighted little eyes.

I’m hoping Mum will send photos of the delighted recipient soon!

I HAD intended to make this pattern yesterday or today, from the same very talented designer. Sue and I met Pauline at the Brisbane Stitches and Craft fair, and I think she was worried that I wouldn’t give her sample Rhino back – he was so soft and cuddly!


But I’ve LOST the @&#$(*@& pattern somewhere in my sewing room….

You can also see one of the mouse wrist rest here – I nicked the photo from over on Sue’s blog.


The other one was for our friend V who is recovering from some particularly nasty wrist surgery. (and check out Sue’s gorgeous shirt!)

I’ve been using fairly inexpensive polar fleece (from Lincr*p, if you’re an Aussie – it was about $6 a metre, I think) and I’m surprised how wonderfully these toys (and wrist rests!) turn out.

Bet you didn’t know I used to be a full on cloth doll maker, didja? Ahhh, the dim distant past… my total time from tracing the pattern to tying the bow on the mouse was about 40 minutes. The Rhino was about 90.

There are a few tricks to keep in mind – make sure you shorten your stitch length; trace a stitching line template onto freezer paper and then iron the freezer paper to your fabric (using very low temp for polar fleece) and stitching around that – this avoids having to mark the fabric directly, so there’s no risk of the pattern tracing showing through on a light colour;
(someone gave me a 150 yard roll years ago – I’m only just coming to the end of it!)
and I find the best tool for turning through teeny pointed parts (like the mouse fingers) is a tube about the same diameter as a drinking straw (sturdier plastic if you can get it) and the blunt end of a bamboo skewer assisted by a lockable hemostat (available from medical supply stores quite cheaply.)

Ok – off to find that PATTERN!

New (old) skirt

New (old) skirt

So remember a few posts back (before the blog was Hjørsejacked for the nano song) I mentioned I was reworking a skirt?  Here it is.

(As you can see, I still have quite a way to go on getting rid of the tummy *sigh*.  I think I’m doing SO well and then I see a photo of myself and get all discouraged.)

Mr Beloved says this is NOT the most flattering outfit, and he’s right; but at least I have a wearable skirt for a little while.  And the trim is so much fun!


Ribbons (mostly from the stash), some measuring tape (which may have belonged to my Nana – or someone else’s Nana, I do seem to get a lot of inherited craft bits and bobs!) that had suffered an unfortunate accident with a rotary cutter; and a flurry of tulle at the hem. (also unintentional but inevitable trim: small feathers from the cockatiels, cat fur, and poodle hairs.)

Anyway, I’m happy with it, it’s a fun skirt to wear, and even though I ended up pretty much remaking the darn thing from scratch, it was worth doing.  PLEASE tell me honestly what you think of the skirt!!

(if you’re interested, the review is here on Pattern Review)

Now if only the new Ottobre Woman magazine would come so I could make some other patterns up….

Meanwhile, I’m off the to the gym for Pilates class.  I went to the physiotherapist (again) today and he worked out that I have some residual nerve damage from my glorious ankle twist of mid January… also that I have long-standing issues with my C6-C7 neck joint which are in fact the cause of some of my wrist weakness and pain. Huh!  I also have ulna/radius joint weakness as well, so it’s lost more rehabilitation exercises for me and even more phsyiotherapist appointments… it never ends!!  Who knew that hyper-flexible joints were such a problem?

Ok, well not HERE… but they’re online. (They won’t be in Australia for about 3 months – see why I buy online?)  Now, which do I want the very next time they go on sale?  Hmmmmm….  Here’s my faves from my first glance – doubtless more to follow!

New Donna Karan patternsVogue 1057 : Donna Karan Dress and jacket.  LOVE the look of this dress, like wearing a top and skirt but without the hassle… and the length of this jacket is just right.  The bodice is knit, so I’m not sure why you’d need the “invisible zipper closure” – hmmm. (And is it just me or is the model cross-eyed??)

Best of all – goes up to a 22!  Not that *ahem* I plan on being that size, after all, I’m aiming at 70 kg (which is about a 14…)

I even like the jacket collar – I’m not a fan of fussy princess collars, but this one looks just pointy and spread enough.

Vogue 1056 - Tom and Linda Platt

Vogue 1056: Tom and Linda Platt knit dress.  Loving the twist at the neckline- HATING the granny sleeves!  I didn’t show a photo of my version of Simplicity 3678 that had these sleeves – because it was so awful it would have frightened the horses.

And small children.

And anyone with taste.

It was STUMPIFYING!  *shudder* Moving on.

Ann Klein Suit

Vogue 1064.  What a PERFECT little jacket!  Lovelovelove the shaping.  Princess seams AND multiple darts: even with weight loss still “in progress”, this is going to be a breeze to FIT!

The pants are good too, contoured waistband and otherwise very unfussy.  I don’t do fussy, especially not around the waist.  These pants have just the one little fob pocket – aaaaaah, lovely!

Although now I go back, these trousers by alice + olivia look very wearable too…

Asymmetrical Shirt

One I’m less sure of: Vogue 8515

In Theory, asymmetrical clothes are interesting and flattering.  In Real Life, I always worry that it looks like I don’t know how to dress myself properly.

Also, the sleeves seem awful wide at the cuff… (easily remedied, but… hmmm.)  Maybe as a pattern to make up the “Buy x number get y free”,  but otherwise?  Probably not.

Sandra Betzina designA swing… and a miss?  I can’t quite decide yet about this new Sandra Betzina design, Vogue 1061.  The pants are slim and look quite versatile… the top appears to have ruched sleeves similar to the Christine Johnson pattern I just received.  (Although CJ’s is a gathered overlay rather than SB’s “elasticised gathers”… and CJ’s pattern is AWESOME for the amount of extra info you get. More on that in another post.)

But that back detailing, and the optional hood – do I love it?

It’s growing on me by the second.  I could actually see this as a fabulous jacket sort of top to throw on after the gym…

… Because YES, Gentle Reader, today I actually phoned up and organised a trial pass at the local girly gym.  I think I’m ready – my weight loss has slowed, so I need to kick it up a notch; and my back and knee pain have been stable for a while (touch wood!).  I just need to negotiate how to fund it (eek!) and get over this cough a bit more.

Had all good plans of walking today – but woke up to a temperature of 2 degrees (Which with wind-chill was MINUS TWO, arrgh!) and a 10 minute long coughing spasm that eventually calmed after a large dose of The Nasty Medicine™.  My lungs have been a bit squeezed all day, even after two puffs of ventolin – that next doctors appointment can’t come soon enough.

So – that’s it from the cold cold keyboard of Caity.  Have you got faves in the new Vogue patterns?

I have plans to get out to either Spodshite™ or Lincrap ™ tomorrow to take advantage of their pattern sales – there’s one skirt pattern I have my eye on (Butterick 4859 – reviewed in the latest Threads but sadly with no photo of a finished garment) and for just one pattern, it’s not worth paying the postage to order from overseas.

Brr! I’m headed back to hunch over the heater.