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6 March, 2015

My relationship is improving with inseam pockets. The less said about the ones on my Tiramisu the better. I made habotai silk inseam pockets in a cotton poplin dress and they're not too bad. I'm actually pretty pleased with the ones I've just done in my coat.

When I first saw this pattern had inseam pockets, I wondered about doing an alternative, or perhaps an alternative way of doing them. I have a skirt I bought from Gap with great hidden pockets. Close examination revealed they weren't inseam pockets at all, but vertical welt pockets hidden inside a pleat. Clever, but not what I needed.

So what's wrong with inseam pockets anyway? Well, 1: They are gapey little sods, supposedly invisible in a seam but actually shouting, hey, look at this lining, and ruining the line of the skirt; And 2. To get the seam to lie properly, you have to clip that back seam right up to the stitching. This always seems to be asking for trouble to me. This coat has loads of clipping in the seam allowance to make it lie flat, but not right up to the stitching line.

What did I do this time? Firstly I decided not to use my lining fabric. It's bright teal and the outer fabric is mostly black. No margin for error with that, and slippery viscose might not be the easiest to work with. Apparently there is actual pocketing fabric, for hard wearing but not too heavyweight pockets, but I used some black cotton lawn I had in my leftovers pile.


I was thinking about the anatomy of an inseam pocket, and thought there is no reason to have to clip that back seam. If you don't catch the back seam allowance in the pocket bag seam, it won't have to go forward of the seam for the length of the pocket, and so no clipping will be necessary. Not only did I avoid the clipping, but it also meant I could press my outer fabric seam open all the way over the pocket, eliminating bulk. Luckily I didn't have to think any more about the finer details, as someone already has. There's a great tutorial over at Inseam Studios showing very clearly exactly how to do it.

I more or less followed that tutorial, with a couple of little differences. Firstly I put some stay tape on when I stitched the front of the pocket to the front of the coat. I stretched the tape so it was about 1/4″ or 6mm shorter than the seam. Hopefully this will help the dreaded gaping.


And after attaching the pocket pieces to the coat, I understitched each seam. Hopefully this gives even less chance of the pocket bag peaking out.

Using a blind hemmer is my favourite way of understitching.

The rest all went according to the directions. At the end I basted the pocket shut before pressing. I considered doing bar tacks at the top and bottom of the pocket, but didn't want to mess it up at this point.



There's a pocket in there.


Hopefully the pocket bag will stay hiding in the dark.



Adventures in Interfacing

1 March, 2015

Yeah,yeah interfacing. That funny sort of plasticy but not plastic mushed together fibres with sticky bits you fuse onto your fabric, curse when you remember after the ironing that you should have cut off the seams allowances, and then carry on. There are bits of your pattern that say cut them in interfacing as well as fabric.

Um, no. Not for tailoring. That funny stiff stuff that actually stinks like a billy goat when you steam press it. Yep, hair canvas most definitely has real goat hair in it. Thankfully once it's dry it doesn't smell anymore. Actually you can still use fusibles, but probably not the same as the ones I was talking about above. I got as far as “fusibles don't adhere well to textured fabrics” in my research, and decided to go the whole hog (goat?) with sew in.

Also in tailoring, the interfacings aren't just the same as the facings. They extend beyond the facing, and provide stability to the shoulder and upper back area as well. Thanks, “Tailoring” (I'm really fighting the habit of Harvard referencing here). I was a bit flummoxed about what to do with my princess seams and separate lapel piece for a while, but decided to go with separate interfacing for each bit. Following the directions in the book it was quite straight forward to draft them out. I'll know for sure how straight forward it was when I see if they actually work.


I decided to go for machine sewn, rather than hand sewn. It is, after all, March already. My new walking foot was invaluable for this. I have problems with my top bit of fabric creeping at the best of times, but no problems at all with this, and I've used the walking foot throughout.


And in other specialised equipment news, I have a clapper. Or some bits of wooden railway and masking tape. Whichever, it worked.


Look! A shaped under collar! Well, I was impressed, everyone else in my household was distinctly underwhelmed. Modelled here by Humpty Dumpty Ham.

That's the texture I wasn't going to try to put fusible interfacing on.


And here's all the front facings ready to go. I only got as far as basting the fabric onto the lapels tonight.

Actual sewing of real fabric may happen tomorrow. For the back stay, I'm going to use Gertie's tip and sew the back pieces together first and use those to trace off the back stay.

Pretty much a whole days work, but hopefully for a much better result than five minutes with an iron.


A tailored coat

28 February, 2015

This is a project that has been rumbling along for a while. A bit before Christmas I was looking for a new coat. Nothing off the peg fit very well, so I began to think about making one… Then I found the perfect fabric online… Oh no, here we go.

Now a few months later I have purchased “Tailoring: The classic guide to sewing the perfect jacket” by Creative Publishing, “Fit for Real People” by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto, and cheered on by the LSG Sewing Circle on Ravelry, have finally finished my muslin and cut out my outer fabric. I'm sure they'll be relieved to see me resurrecting my blog for this. Mainly I'm resurrecting my blog because I've learnt so much I want to put it down somewhere for next time (might have already purchased fabric, lining and pattern for another coat).

Tailoring is a whole new adventure and my vocabulary now includes things like “hair canvas” (fairly heavy sew in interfacing that actually has goat hair in it), “clapper” (big wooden block thingy for setting seams), and “pad stitch” (for attaching interfacing).

So what is this amazing coat? I'm making Vogue 8346, view B, the red one below.

Here's my fabric, in the process of being cut out.

I've got a teal viscose for the lining.

Things I've learnt so far:

  • Take the wool to the dry cleaners to preshrink. They can faff about steaming 4m of 150cm wide heavy cloth for you.
  • Pin the paper/carbon paper/pattern sandwich together first, and a tracing wheel makes surprisingly good, easy to interpret lines.
  • Micropore tape is great for doing paper pattern adjustments.
  • When doing an FBA on a princess seam drop the bust point first.
  • I need a little sway back adjustment, and it's effect on fit is amazing.
  • Fit for Real People is well worth the investment.
  • as is Tailoring: The classic guide to the perfect jacket.
  • I grudgingly admit a muslin/toile is well worth the effort. I would have wasted a lot of expensive fabric otherwise.
  • Using leftover quilting cotton rather than leftover polyester thread for basting makes life much easier.
  • Muslin in the US is what this Brit/Australian calls calico.
  • I haven't sewed a stitch and its Spring tomorrow. Oops.

Right, I have hair canvas to preshrink, linen tape to do likewise, and a mountain of ironing that has been building up while I have been playing with the fit of this coat.


Not pudding.

4 August, 2014

This post is about Tiramisu. The knit dress from Cake Patterns that is, not the dessert. Although my fabric was rather minty. (Fabric from

I first noticed this dress last summer, when I was getting back into dress making, and it was on my mental “must make sometime” list. Then someone asked about how to do an FBA for this pattern. I was intrigued by the technical challenge and decided it was time to have a go.

I'm a bit of a newby at sewing knits. I sewed two knit dresses earlier this year, and that is pretty much it. I don't have a serger, so it was all done on my trusty old Bernina 1010, with a ball point needle.

After trying out a narrow zigzag, and a triple zigzag, and a combination of the too, I decided the best one was actually the over locker stitch, with the overlocker foot recommended for light knits in the *gasp* manual. I used the 10mm sewing line guide, and with the 4mm width of the stitch I got my 12mm seam allowance. After pressing, I trimmed the seam close to the stitching.

The essential bit of knowledge you need for this pattern is that the designer has catered for the beginner sewer, and there is a super helpful sew along series that takes you through the pattern step by step. It also answers important questions like, eek, aren't I supposed to reinforce all horizontal seams? (Answer: you don't need to stabilise the midriff seams). It also convinced me to try the free sample of iron on stabiliser instead of bulky cotton tape or clear elastic. Especially for the light stretchy knit I chose, I am a convert. I got my iron on tape as a free sample when I bought some knit fabric from Stone Fabrics last year.

Back to that FBA. It turns out that this pattern makes bust adjustment easy, in fact different bust and waist sizes are accounted for in the way you choose your size (over bust, a cup size and then waist measurement, mixed and matched). It turns out I was only 1″ bigger than the printed 35 D size, so I decided to just go with that since I had a stretchy knit. An adjustment line is included on the pattern to make it super simple to add more width into the bodice if necessary.

I wasn't particularly convinced that such a simple line would add sufficient fabric in the right places. Look at all those posts on fancy Palmer-Pletsch style adjustments, damnit. But having made the dress, watched the tutorials and come to the understanding that bodice length is a bit of a unpredictable thing depending on your fabric, I can see why this adjustment works. See, after basting the underbust seam and trying the bodice on, Steph (the designer) gives an excellent tutorial for fixing the fit in this area. I took 4cm off the end of the bodice in the end, tapering to nothing at the side seams.

It still pulls a bit a the centre bust, so maybe I should have put in that extra half inch on each side, but I think the end result is extremely wearable. Gaping is prevented by the magic of the edge binding. Oh, ok, here's the obligatory tiramisu gape test.

I noticed that my back bodice also seemed to be a bit long,

so i gave it the same treatment as the front. Unpicked the bodice/midriff seam, cut the centre back and inch shorter, tapering to nothing at the side seams.

The pockets caused me a bit of angst. It's been hot here lately, and I have noticed the lack of them in summer dresses on a few occasions, so was pleased this pattern had them. After sewing up the side seams, I was cursing the inventor of sodding in seam pockets. They insist of gaping. I clipped close to the stitching, but got too close and worried I would end up with great ladders in my dress. So the right pocket has an opening s.ightly smaller than my hand, now.The fabric is too light to carry my phone, but they were very useful for carrying small change to the corner shop, and my front door key, so they get to stay. Still not convinced.

After wearing the dress for a day and a half I decided I probably ought to hem it. The sew along has a promisingly titled section on how to train someone to help you do a hem. I haven't looked at that yet because I was too impatient to finish, and the hem looked even how it was.

I used vleisofix 10 double side fusible tape to put the hem in place. I decided on the technique after seeing lots of US bloggers write about using steam a seam. As far as I can tell, it's the same sort of stuff, and holds the hem in place so you can stitch it without it stretching too much.

Apparently it permanent, but when I used it instead of stitching to make some shorts out of worn out trousers for the littlest tiger, it didnt survive the wash. So I stitched the hem down with a twin needle. I kind of made this bit up as I went along, but this is what I did:

Wound an extra bobbin, and thread two threads through the top together, then one in each needle.

On the actual bottom bobbin, threaded the thread through the finger so it pull a bit tighter like on a buttonhole.

Did a longish (3mm) straight stitch.


Job done. I have a comfy, swishy, summer dress.


Just Cake

10 October, 2013

Sometimes you just want a plain cake recipe.


Makes 24 cupcakes, 1 deep 20cm cake, 2 x 20 cm sandwich cakes, 1 20x25cm oblong cakes.

  • 450g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1.5 cups (375ml) soy milk or other milk substitute
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, stir in rest of ingredients. Place in a greased, lined tin or tins and bake at 180C.

Cupcakes take about 20 min. The rest… I can never remember to write down how long they take, but test with a skewer.

To decorate for a birthday:

To whip up some quick cupcakes:


Or decorate some cupcakes for a birthday:

As a basic mix to do fancier things with:

Or because you want yellow cake. Or green, as is usually the case in our house. One day I mistakenly asked the two year old if he would like chocolate cake or yellow cake. The answer was, of course, green cake, and what is rapidly becoming a family tradition was born. Yes, those cupcakes up there are green.

Lastly, in honour of making 24 cupcakes this evening instead of 12, here's a half measures recipe. So you don't halve everything except for the soy milk, have very runny mixture, and then have to add in the rest.

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/3 cup oil


Tea: Second Course (or what I learned about bias binding)

9 October, 2013

Well. What a lot of bias binding. I'd like to think I got better at it as I went along. I also managed to steam my fingers quite a bit.

On the first panel, I simply opened out the binding, held it on the piece, and stitched on the fold. Yes, of course the binding stretched as I went, and it was quite tight around the corners.

On the second panel, I shaped the bias binding to the panel, and steamed it into submission around the corners. I still just held it in place as I went, and ended up with a couple of inches leftover as to the amount that had originally fit.

The third time round, I steamed the binding to the right shape, and then pinned it into place before sewing. The pins helped prevent to binding stretching out as I sewed, and the corners were much less tight.

I think the pattern wanted me to sew through all layers from the wrong side to stitch down the back of the binding. I thought given my slightly uneven application of the binding that would look ridiculous, so I stitched in the ditch on the right side instead. In retrospect that wasn't the neatest, and top stitching just inside the first binding seam might have worked better.

I decided this is something I want to actually use, so I sprayed the whole thing with scotch guard so it doesn't get stained on the first outing.




Queen of Tarts

9 October, 2013


Today I fancied something sweet, so I made some jam tarts.

It's another outing of the sweet shortcrust pastry last seen in the Blackberry Pie.


  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 50g margarine
  • 1tbsp water
  • Jam

Preheat oven to 220 C. Place the flour and sugar in a bowl. Chop the margarine (cold from the fridge) into approximately 1cm cubes. Rub the margarine into the dry ingredients until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the cold water, combine with a butter knife and bring into a ball. Roll out thinly.

Cut pastry into 2.5″/6 cm rounds and place in a bun tray. Place about 1/2 tbsp jam in each tart.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Rubbing in the flour is good fun for the little ones to join in. The littlest tiger loves to “pinch, pinch, pinch”.

After you add the water, try to handle the dough as little as possible to get it together and then rolled out. Too much handling will make the pastry tough. This bit was definitely mummy's job. Mine looked a little dry as it was coming together, so I added a tiny bit more water. As it's coming together it will always look like there is not quite enough water, but experience will tell you if more will make it sticky, or is necessary to stop it being too dry. Sorry, no easy answers on that one.

We had a little bit of pastry leftover, so we made a couple of fish biscuits to keep the little Octonauts happy. They only took five minutes to cook.

Oh,and the jam? It's some plum jam I made a few weeks ago from the produce of our tree. (She says nonchalantly, despite much agonising over setting point, and the burnt pan still hanging around the kitchen in an attempt to soak off the charcoal).