Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Patchwork Clothes

When you hear that phrase, what do you think of?

Tree huggers and hippies? Charlie Chaplin and the Kid?

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Maybe the 1970s –

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Late ’90s flirt with bohemia –


YSL and Giorgio Sant’Angelo again 1970


6a01156f47abbe970c014e8be876b5970d-800wi1970spatchworkprinttietop1_grandeCertainly colourful, flowing, full skirted and wide bell-bottomed trousers – oh the things we wore!

Everything comes around and this year, patchwork is back! Albeit a little more refined perhaps and with a 2015 price tag.


Gucci patchwork S/S 2015



Gucci silk patchwork joggers














Gucci silk patchwork jacket $7,200

The late, great Koos van der Akker shared many of his design with us via Vogue but I have never been brave enough to try one.
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And catwalk trends this year are harking back to the 1970 vibe – which ultimately means patchwork and colour.

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Now to my quilting class and my idea to sew a patchwork scarf. Scarf made, and a skirt, and a bag!


I believe this is called a French braid and the fabric selection is designed by Minnick & Simpson for Moda and called Lexington: the colours include whites, creams, tans, and blues.. Do you really want to know about strip sizes and patchwork techniques? Nah, we’ll just look at the pictures…….

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I bought an extra 1.5m of the large flower design and made the best skirt in the world – V1247, lengthened, as always. I used up every scrap of my fabric: the skirt has a patchwork inset around the hem. It is lined with a heavy muslin and the patchwork bit is lightly quilted to it.


And with all the bits left over, you sew these together and create another 1/2m of fabric and I got a matching bag – Japanese Knot, downloaded from here.



So far I’ve worn the skirt and scarf with a big tough Ziggi biker jacket and navy boots to make it seem a little less twee and because it is winter and cotton skirts in February are really not such a good idea. So while Lizzy is making winter clothes in summer, I’m making summer clothes in winter.


Now, I know this isn’t actually possible…..but…..I buy little bitty bits of fabric, sew them together and end up with more yardage than I started with!?


See, I knew those quilters had the dark forces on their side and now I have the proof.





Vroom Vroom!

Yeah, I jumped!


I rushed ahead of the sew-a-long and am now wearing my Ziggi. I have, however, ordered more material to make another one and this time I will do as Maris does.

I did hit some hurdles but managed to overcome them, not always in the right way but the jacket is finished and I’m proud to wear it.


For your information, I cut the pattern size 12 with 1cm seam allowance but I sewed mine with the usual 1.5cm (5/8″). This has created a closer fit, which is exactly what I wanted – I often think some biker jackets are a bit boxy – and I need a waist! To exaggerate what waist there is, I left the side seams to the last and sewed a curve: nipping in up to 2.5cm at waist and back out to 1.5cm at underarms and hips.


We have a striped lining with enough left over to knock up a Sorbretto or similar.


The lining is bagged using the black magic technique! I really can’t figure out how it works but it does! The instructions suggest leaving a seam in a sleeve open to turn the jacket right ways out but I used the peplum piece in the back. To do a easy (??) bagging, go here  – West Valley College and choose lesson 3 Lined Jacket – absolutely invaluable tutorial. Bar the straight seams, Tiina Keller  makes a lined jacket in little over and hour!


Thank you all so much for such encouraging comments on the previous post – how could I not carry on after that? Unfortunately, for some very strange reason my computer wouldn’t open my own blog! I could see everyone else’s, just not my own. Anyway, it fixed itself and this is  now a universal thank you and an answer to some queries at the same time.

Vivienne – thanks for the tip about Clover wonder clips -off to check them out and great to have more sewing stuff.

Coco Savage – Teflon foot used but when I had to put in the zips the metal zipper foot did ‘stick’ to the fabric, so there is some puckering – just couldn’t be helped. I also released the foot pressure (from 6 down to 3 on my machine). Used a jeans needle and it worked well. Topstitching size is 3mm, everything else is 2.6mm.

Sigrid and Shams – thanks but no comparison to your perfect renditions of this jacket.

Pauline – good to hear from you.

Sewingelle – you and me are true rebels! Sewing-along without sewing along….

Megan – get those scissors out and start! I promise you, you won’t want to stop until it’s on your back

I’ve worn the Ziggi with a green pencil skirt (V1247), jeans and classic grey wool trousers so far. The moto style adds edge to the classics and this particular colour of not-quite navy-almost-inky-sort-of Airforce-blue practically goes with everything.


Rhonda, Linda, Marj & Velosewer – No, I’m not getting a motor-bike, just another motor-bike jacket!


Ziggi Biker Jacket Tips

It’s been a good week.

You know one of those rare occasions where social, work, family and me-time all seem to work out. Well, I’m lucky enough to have had just one of those….now, why can’t every week be like this?

I’ve sewn three tops to go with the plum/lilac/lavender needle cord skirt for SWAP ’14 but have no photos to prove it so you’ll just have to believe me (photos soon) and I have now left SWAP behind for a while and ventured into new territority. For the first time ever in my life I’ve joined a sew-a-long. It’s over at Sew Maris and all about Style Arc’s Ziggi biker jacket.

I had to wait for fabric to come from England, and pattern from Australia and zips from America but at last everything arrived and I got stuck in at the weekend. While waiting for bits to arrive, in preparation I’ve been measuring the quilting on students’ biker jackets, inspecting their sleeve zips and scrutinising the lining and collars – they think I’m bonkers! Maybe I am. My problem is that I’m too impatient.

I completely understand that a sew-a-long has to consider those who sew once a week or are new to various techniques etc etc etc. and I’m glad for that as I was two weeks’ behind the start date due to having to wait for my stuff to arrive. I took the best part of the weekend to get caught up and then I couldn’t stop.

I’m adding my tuppence worth to the tutorials and advice on the interweb in the hope someone else will benefit from my sewing experience because I’ve certainly benefited from Shams and Maris.

First – Size! Australian women must be blessed either though genetics or evolution to have large breasts – personally  my heritage is northern European and hence am comparatively flat chested so the Aussie sizing thing doesn’t quite fit me.

Size 12 – Bust – 38″ (97cm): waist 31.5″ (  80cm) : hips 40.6″ (103cm)

Seam allowance is 1cm – wow that’s narrow and not much room for manoeuvring there.

I ordered a 12 (technically one size up) and cut out as is and decided to use 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance – I figured the two would cancel each other out and still give me space to let out, if needed and give a good fit. Check out the Style Arc size chart before ordering your pattern as the pattern comes in the size you order – not multi-size.

Next hurdle – cutting the pattern pieces from the Donna Karan sized sheet of paper. Move to the floor and just get on with it and don’t use your fabric scissors! Kitchen or household are perfectly acceptable at this stage.


Quilting the shoulder yokes and sleeve tops:  Do this before stitching anything.

Rough cut the pattern pieces – larger than required


Make a sandwich with shell fabric, padding and cotton.

Mark on the cotton 1″ squares (from a very reliable source  -thanks Eve!) at 45 degrees to the straight of grain.


Sew with a large stitch (3mm) along the marked lines.

Re-position pattern pieces on the quilted bits – keeping the straight of grain – and cut to size. Remember to reverse one of the pieces!


Now ALL the pattern pieces are cut and ready to go.

Biggest hassle: Front pocket zips

I really can’t improve on Shams’ or Maris’ advice (see links above) and tutorials on this stage of construction but I would like to add just a slightly different take on this very reliable technique.

I’m using faux-leather for my jacket and so I can’t pin except within the seam allowances and can’t tack (baste) – the holes created will be obvious on the finished garment.

Instead of using organza as a backing fabric for the zip windows – use fusible interfacing. When pressed, it holds the stitched edge in place and also acts as extra stabiliser for the zip. Stitch it in place as per Shams’ instructions but with sticky side up to right side of fabric. What you see below is the sleeve zip window – but the same works for the front pockets.


Clip to the corner and fold (manipulate) the interfacing to the inside. Press well to fuse the interfacing to the inside of the fabric making sure all the interfacing is on the inside and not seen from the right side. Take your time!

Insert the zip as normal.


Sleeve gussets.

I couldn’t resist this section. It’s not actually part of the pattern but Sham’s included it and it really adds to to the finished jacket. Once again, the tutorial that Shams put up is excellent and difficult to improve upon but with 1cm seam allowances – it’s hard. One of my sleeve zips is inserted using Shams’ version and the other is inserted using this..


Cut and make your gusset following Shams’ technique but instead of sewing it in after the zip insertion, include it in along with the zip. Pin the two together and sew.


I’m not saying this is any easier but it saves on sewing and trying to fit the gusset to just the zipper tape. Trim the gusset after sewing in place.

I’m just glad this jacket is lined – look at the state of that…

Anyway…. I was on a roll… I couldn’t stop once I’d got started and didn’t wait for sew-a-long instructions. I sewed the jacket seams, sleeves and added the collar. I put in the front zips and am now ready to attach the sleeves.

The quilting at the sleeve tops has created bulk and stiffness and I’m not too sure that there will be any room to ease them into the arm scythe, so I might just wait after all – here’s one pinned in place…..tune in next time to find out….Did she wait or did she jump?


I must say that I’m enjoying this sewing make a lot – I mean, it’s exciting, new and very challenging – and I have to think about things and techniques. I’m loving it! I’ve even ordered more fabric for the next one and this one’s nowhere near finished!