Christmas waistcoat

I work in several residential aged care facilities and Christmas is a big deal. Increasingly staff are encouraged to wear silly or crazy Christmas themed T-shirts throughout December. A variation on the ugly Christmas sweater idea, but for hot climates.

I can’t bring myself to do that. Christmas tshirts are cheap and nasty. I thought about making my own – but – no.  Instead I made a Christmas waistcoat. I can wear normal clothes and be Christmassy when needed. After all – while I celebrate Christmas, not all my clients do.



The fabric came from Spotlight. It is really difficult to get fabric that reflects a hot Australian Christmas. I think this fabric was released in 2019. I love the Australian animals in the print. So much that I bought enough fabric to make a reversible waistcoat. Koalas on one side.

Echidna’s on the other side. The pattern was from Bootstrap Patterns and ostensibly to my measurements. It came with facings, lining and little pocket patterns. I just wanted the front and back pieces. There was a centre back seam but it was straight so I left it out. Pattern matching this across a seam?  No way!




There are side bust darts. There should have been waist bust darts too but I didn’t want the waistcoat to be that fitted. I wanted it to fit loosely over my usual work clothes. It is certainly loose! I put in a “You can’t buy this” label. I ignored the Bootstrap instructions as I wasn’t using all their pieces. Instead I used the instructions from the Thread Theory Belvedere waistcoat.


I didn’t spend a lot of time on making this. So little that I forgot to topstitch the armholes. I neglected buttons and buttonholes too. This is not a waistcoat that needs to be done up!


The waistcoat was in constant use throughout December, and garnered many compliments.

It has since been washed, armhole top stitching completed and stored for December 2020.

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Timbau! – the bag

Timbau – a membranaphone instrument, conical in shape, used for samba-reggae music. Originated in Salvador, capital of Bahia, a state in Brazil.

*This blog post is long, with a lot of images*

Moving on from the first post.

I started by checking if I had enough batting. I bought this stuff over 20 years ago!

Next came piecing the batting and sandwiching it between the cotton layers. I made the drum skin cushion and the circle for the base of the bag.

I pinned the bag – a conical shape and tried it on my fit model.  This fit model was delightfully compliant and open to being moved around. My family could learn from this (they won’t).

Next came the actual stitching of the side seams then adding the base. This was tricky! I eventually got it pinned in. I hand basted it and finally stitched in.


Next – checking the length all around, checking that the cushion works well.

I attached a deep collar section to the top of the bag. It is large enough to cover the additional height of the second drum, but collapses enough for just one drum. It has a drawstring to keep it closed.

I put a tab on the ends of the cord instead of knotting them. This photo’s depth of field is messed up.

I added a carry handle and put it horizontally so that it could slip over my Zuca. I use the Zuca to carry all my equipment and sheet music.

Happy drumming all round!



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Timbau! – the drum

Timbau – a membranaphone instrument, conical in shape, used for samba-reggae music. Originated in Salvador, capital of Bahia, a state in Brazil.

I bought a second hand pair of congas. Fantastic sound, breathtaking quality, super bargain price. And incredibly heavy! Far too heavy for me to lift in and out of my car routinely.




I went to a conference and discovered the timbau, specifically the festival series from Remo. I bought two, a green swirls and a multi-coloured swirls.


The skins can be removed to be a separate hand-drum, similar to a Bodhrain.






Once the skins have been taken off, they stack inside each other. Their combined weight is roughly on fifth of the smaller conga’s.

Clearly they needed a bag – to keep them pristine, sounding beautiful, and to make transporting a breeze. I measured, cogitated and designed.







I decided on a padded cotton drawstring bag with two thin cushions for between the two skins, and on top. The two cushions would have a thermal layer to further protect the skins from heat damage.

This zig zag cotton comes from Indonesia, a gift from a dear friend. It is beautiful quality, a dream to work with. I found it in my stash where it has been marinating for a couple of years.

I also found some batting, bought for a baby quilt many, many years ago.

The rest of the story is in the next post.




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Looking back at 2019 – sewing and other stuff

My new drum

2019 was a good year overall. My little business has consolidated and is doing well. I’ve been able to update some of my equipment and pay for professional development. My other work – as an employee – is bearable. Aiming to change things up in 2019 so that I can ditch both part-time jobs.

Personal stuff – my kids are healthy, content and doing really well at school or uni. I am slowly losing weight and very slowly building my strength and fitness levels.

Sewing stuff – I’m loving following the Kibbe style system (thanks DoctorT!). I’ve used it to guide the selection of patterns and fabrics for work related clothing. It has been useful enough that I’ll continue it in 2020.

In 2019 I listed six hopes, lets see how I did:

  1. Trousers – full length in black and navy3/4 length in blue and maroon. Maroon didn’t happen, the others did
  2. Tops! I need tops that are suitable for work, at least two more. A few more short sleeve t shirts would be good too. I made one linen top for work and several short sleeved tees
  3. Swimwear – using the beautiful fabric and the patterns I already have. Made one pair of bathers
  4. Casual bottoms, leggings for under my tunics and pinafore. I made a short pair of leggings
  5. A proper tailored wool jacket. This did not happen, again
  6. Undies, it’s time to make undies. I made some fantastically comfy undies that will never, ever be blogged..

Above I mentioned Doctor T – again I am inspired by her latest posts with her data crunched into charts. Here are my 2019 sewing charts:

In this chart “other” means self-draft or more accurately I made it up as I went along. It also includes Jalie. Intriguing to see how many times I used the one pattern. The Lark and Carine tees were used four times each, as was the M2M leggings template.

I always feel adventurous when using a Style Arc or Jalie pattern. Similarly for Grainline’s Lark and Elbe’s Carine Tee.

Vogue et al are so familiar they are almost comfortable.


This chart has no numbers, and only includes the actual clothes.

I made a lot of t-shirts, I think because I needed them. And they are very satisfying to make on my overlocker and coverstitch.

Several trousers too, of which only four are wearable (one was a dud). And a few pairs of leggings, not all for me. Which links nicely to the next chart:


Yes – overwhelmingly me.

I should consider making more for other people in 2020.




Speaking of 2020, these are my sewing hopes:

  1. More trousers, using different patterns each time
  2. Woven tops – shirts and tunics
  3. A few more casual t shirts, both long sleeved and short sleeved
  4. Make at least one bra
  5. More undies – that will also never be blogged
  6. Finally make a tailored jacket! Simplicity 8468.

All the best for 2020!

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Yet more Carine Tees

I love this pattern – the drafting is terrific, the neckline really works for me, I can alter it easily. It is my new TNT T!

I  got this marble fabric from my buddy at Seamstress fabrics. She only has the good stuff. This is a beautiful organic cotton with spandex and a delight to work with.

One colleague asked me if sewing really did save money. Inevitably I said “it depends – not really for t-shirts, but yes for other things”. My colleague then drooled over the fabric…

It got a label, from my considerable collection of KATM labels. Then coverstitched in variegated black~grey thread (needles) and white (looper).

I got some other fabric from Seamstress at the same time – they were both on sale. More organic cotton spandex but with strawberries this time.

No label yet, cover stitching with red thread in the needles and white in the looper. Amazingly I found two reels in the same colour. I think they are leftover from the elder lass’s year 12 formal dress.

Both t-shirts were sewn on the overlocker and finished on the cover stitch machine. I only had to swap threads on the cover stitch machine – yay!

I cut out both shirts at a social sewing day, then put them together the following day at home.  I finished series 3 of The Crown while stitching. I noticed that the frocks were still amazing, but it was not a good time period for hats.


Fabric – Strawberry fabric – 1.2 metres @ $15.00/metre                     $18.00

Marble fabric – 1.2 meters @ $25.20/metre                            $30.24

Pattern – Carine Tee from Elbe Textiles – free

Totals = $48.24  – for two t-shirts!

Annoyance factor – Low

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Colour blocked terry raglan

I’ve never colour blocked a garment before. NEVER EVER!

I got some navy French terry from a fabric swap. A lot of it. It went into the fabric collection. Where I found a remnant of some creamy white terry with a red stripe, but I cannot recall from whence it came – very likely another fabric swap. Sadly there was not enough for a jumper, but enough for the front and back. They were roughly the same weight and drape so I decided to colour block a top.

I chose the Lane Raglan from Hey June Patterns.

I’ve made it several times, in a few different weight fabrics. Unfortunately these two fabrics were reasonably heavy and had no recovery. Consequently the neck stretched out rather a lot. This picture shows the difference when compared to another terry top I made, with the same pattern. On the right side they are lined up at the seam, not neck edge.

Making this top involved so many decisions – what overlocker thread colour? Do I use the same colours everywhere? If I do swap out the thread colours what order should I construct the top? Does it really matter if the threads don’t match the fabric? I vacillated for so long that a few weeks of my life went past.







So I used white for the attaching the sleeves to the bodice parts, then navy for attaching the navy neckband, underarm and side seams. I finished the sleeve hems with the navy.

I used the coverstitch machine on the neck line and sleeve hems, using navy overlocker thread in the needles and a navy stretch thread in the looper.

Eventually I realised that swapping threads is easy and matching them to the fabric matters to me. I swapped out the navy threads for white/ivory and hemmed the lower edge. Then coverstitched with navy in the needles and ivory stretch in the looper.

The details

Fabric – French terry, navy cottton and cream/red stripe. Free, from a fabric swap.

Pattern – Lane Raglan from Hey June patterns –  bought a while ago and effectively free.

Label – “Sewing is Sexy” from Kylie and the Machine – $1.00

Annoyance factor – Unbelievably high – due to the thread matching dilemma.

I made this top before my Melody Shirt. I’ve always had a thing about colour matching the overlocker threads. I have noticed that stripe and pattern matching are becoming a new  obsession. The neckline has stretched so much that the sleeves are too long. I will have to shorten them eventually.

I’m not colour blocking again for a long time. The next top will be in a plain fabric.

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Pattern bag

I started buying pdf patterns when they were print and tape, then stopped. The whole print-cut-tape-trace dance just did my head in. Too much hassle. Then the pattern companies started offering them as A0 files. A much better option.

Now whenever I buy a pdf pattern I immediately have it printed. I have several many LOTS of these A0 sheets. All rolled up and stored on top of my piano. Not really a good storage solution.

THIS is a storage solution:

I photographed it on my sewing chair. The fabric came from a swap meet. It is a medium weight printed canvas covered with bicycles. I love bicycles. I was saving this for a bicycle pannier, but a bag for my other hobby seemed to make sense.

This was a really simple make, a large tube with a square base and a foldover flap at the top.






My piano is now covered with music related stuff – mostly small percussion and sheet music. The pattern bag sits on the floor at the bell end of the piano.

The details

Fabric – Printed canvas, from a fabric swap.

Pattern – self drafted

Annoyance factor – No annoyance at all. This was a breeze.

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Kibbe sewing five – a shirt this time.

I have the Style Arc Melody pattern. I cannot remember when it came into my house but was quite likely one of their monthly freebies. Is it Kibbe? According to the Kibbe Classic guidelines, blouses should be elegant with soft edges. Not too detailed, no frills, flounces or fuss. Big tick for the Melody!

It is a fairly long tunic with three quarter sleeves and elastic cuffs. I used linen that was a bit too short for the sleeves and the rest of the shirt. I altered them to be short and not as full.

The fabric had a large check pattern, woven not printed. It made for an interesting time in pattern matching. I outdid myself.

Now come a lot of pictures:

Look at the collar and stand.

Stripe matching continued down the centre front.








I even matched up the facing – avoiding any show through of the dark threads.

Stripe matching down the back as well.







I even matched the left sleeve to the yoke!









Fabric – White linen with a large black check pattern, from Style Arc at the 2018 Frocktails shopping tour.  Sold as a remnant, roughly one metre long, 150cm wide. I can’t remember the cost.

Alterations – shortened the body hem and made them match. Took out the fullness in the sleeve and shortened them too.  I may yet take in the side seams a bit. I’ll see if the linen softens up a bit more. I wasn’t overly happy with the way the linen gathered at the back so changed it to a central box pleat. This also made it possible to match up the stripes to the yoke.

Other stuff – I used some cotton organdy for interfacing rather than fusible interfacing. Time will tell if this was a good idea or not. I attached the yoke using the burrito method, it creates such a lovely enclosed finish.


The linen is a tad scratchy at the moment, I’m guessing it will soften over time. It’s been worn a few times already on our warmer spring days. I can see it in high rotation during summer.

I will make at least one more of these – in a lovely blue linen blend.

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Another Lark tee

I love making tshirts at the moment. Actually, just working with knits is a joy. Especially if I can complete the garment quickly and use just the overlocker and coverstitch machines.

I have been buying fabrics that are beautiful and can be used in my business casual profession. Sometimes it works well, other times I think the top is more casual. As is the case with this beautiful fabric and top.

I got the fabric from Seamstress Fabrics. It is a lovely cotton + spandex with a gorgeous print and has sold out. I did buy it in April 2018 and added it to the stash while I pondered which pattern to use. It has the most beautiful weight and drape. I chose the long sleeved lark tee and set about cutting it.

As always – no dramas. I cut out one weekend and sewed it together a few weekends later. As I finished the collar with the coverstitch I added a label from Kylie and the machine. I’ve amassed several of these.

The details

Fabric – Selia print, cotton + spandex – 1.5 metres, around $50

Pattern – Grainline Lark – used so many times, adjusted to fit a while ago. Effectively free.

Label – “Handmade” from Kylie and the Machine – $1.00

Annoyance factor – Low

Totals = $51.00

Do it again? The pattern – yes. I love the fabric and will keep a eye out for similar quality fabrics. This one is closer fitting than ideal for work, but is terrific as casual wear. Very nice casual wear.

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Princess Leia Pyjamas

This is the second half of my Frocktails 2017 lucky door prize from “For the love of Fabrics” online shop. My other one is now a Chewbacca nightie. This one is a Princess Leia print that was destined to be pyjamas. (#starwarsgeek)

I made yet another Grainline Lark Tee, this time with three-quarter sleeves. I also added a bit of width at the hem, making it flare from the ribs.

Like the Chewbacca nightie I made the back and sleeves from a blue poly cotton knit. That used up all the remaining blue poly cotton so I used some blue double brushed polyester for the bottoms. They don’t match but I don’t really care.

I used the Made 2 Measure template with a waistband modification. I created a yoke of about 8 centimetres in width. I used powermesh to support the yoke instead of lining it with more double brushed poly. For some extra security I also added a row of narrow elastic to the top of the waistband. And just in case I can’t get dressed properly, I added a “This is the back” label – to the back. Not the front as I threatened to a certain teenaged relative…

I widened the legs at the knee and ankles, creating an almost yoga pants look.









Fabric – Princess Leia panel – Frocktails 2017 lucky door prize.

Blue poly cotton knit – I can’t remember anything about this fabric, so it was probably a gift.

Double brushed polyester from LA Finch fabrics, also from 2017. It was part of a end of both bundle and was $10.00 for 1.5 metres.

Pattern – Made 2 Measure template + yoga waistband modification from Sewhere. Used many times so now free.

Powermesh – Two metres bought in 2018 from the Remnant Warehouse, I’m guessing $3.00 for the amount used here.

Annoyance factor – Low

Totals = $13.00 – for adult Star Wars pyjamas !!!!!



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