Tuesday 13 December 2016

Connie Crawford Webinar

He everyone,

Just wanted to let you know about a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the best teachers in the sewing universe.  Connie Crawford is offering a sewing industry tips and techniques webinar.

It will cover such things as:

  • sewing construction order
  • interfacings
  • working with tricky fabrics
  • sewing darts
  • perfect topstitching

plus much more!

While the webinar is live and filmed in the USA on 15 December, once you've registered for the course you can watch it at any time that suits you in the next 30 days.

You can get more information here.

You can register here.

I'll be participating - hope you will too!

Friday 11 November 2016

Chloe's latest achievements

Hi all,

As many of my students, colleagues and friends know, I have been privileged to work with an amazing young lady named Chloe who came to me when she was 14 years old.  We worked together on her Year 10, 11 and 12 major works and her entries in the Australian Teen Fashion Awards.  (BTW Chloe won the state titles for all her entries!)

After finishing high school last year, Chloe enrolled at a Sydney based design college - the Karl von Busse Institute of Design (KVB).  It has been an incredibly busy year for Chloe at college but, as always (!), Chloe blitzed all her classes and has created some lovely designs.  

If you can't already tell, I am very proud of Chloe!

I think you will agree Chloe has a great talent.

Chloe's first project - a "simple" shirt dress
Chloe doesn't know the word simple. But she still topped the class!
Chloe's swimwear

Chloe lurves flounces!

Thursday 27 October 2016

My First Group Fitting Day!

Hi all,

As many of you know I am associated with the very talented and well known pattern designer Connie Crawford.  I have been learning Connie's art for a couple of years now and a couple of weeks ago I held my first group fitting day with my ASG Neighbourhood Group - Sew and Reap at My Sewing Supplies.

The unique thing about Connie Crawford's patterns is that she doesn't just promise an excellent fit, she will fit you into one of her 52 different sized shell tops to prove it!

I have been beavering away making my own set of shell tops to fit my students and any other interested ladies.

The day went well and I was able to fit everyone in our group.  Only a few small alterations are necessary to get a perfect fit, as you will see with Anne's personalised shell.

Anne's finished shell
Anne's first fitting

I also shared with the girls what to do once you have the fitted blouse block.  Everyone was very excited to explore the various options you have, once you have the perfect fit.

I am available now for any other groups or individuals who would like to learn more about Connie's fabulous fitting patterns!

Thursday 1 September 2016

A croquis! - a great way to see if a style will suit you.

Hi everyone,

Have you ever heard of a croquis?  A croquis is a sketch of a proposed garment.

A great way to personalise a croquis is to create a drawing of your figure in silhouette and then you overlay sketches of garments you are considering, to see if they will suit you.  That way you can avoid expensive and time consuming mistakes creating a garment that really isn't you.

I have been wanting to use this technique for ages, but never really knew how.  Then recently I saw a short video on the Threads Magazine website.  You will need to subscribe to the Insider Content to see it, so for those who don't have that, I will try to explain how to do it.

First of all you take a photo (or get a trusted friend to do it for you) of yourself in your undies or a tight fitting leotard.  Put your hands on your hips so you get a clear view of your side shape.  This will show your silhouette.  Print the photo and using thickish tracing paper draw the outline of your shape with a pencil.  Once you are happy with the results (of the drawing, not your figure!) then use a marker pen to make the drawing permanent.

Then you can either draw your own designs in pencil over the croquis or, as I do, test some pattern pictures to see how I will look in them.

As you know, pattern pics are of tall skinny models and the artistic drawings are even worse!  So this is a great way to see how they will really look on YOU.

So how do you translate the tall, skinny version onto your croquis?

Firstly, you'll need to scale the pattern picture to match your croquis size.  So if your croquis is say 20cm tall then you have to make the pattern pic 20cm as well.  You will make an enlarged photocopy. The percentage increase is simple to calculate:

  • Say the pattern pic is 9cm tall and the croquis is 20cm.  
  • Just divide 20 by 9 and you get 2.22.  
  • Multiply that by 100 and you get 222. 
  • That is the enlargement percentage you will use on the photocopier - 222%.

Now you have the pic and the croquis the same size.

The next thing to do is to trace the pattern outline onto your silhouette.  You do this by dividing the pattern image into 4 sections: the upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left.  You trace the outline of the pattern to match your silhouette at the shoulders and the waist and hip area.  You'll have to make a few adjustments for your own figure and then you just fill in the gaps.

Here is one I did from a Marfy pattern.  You can see how the dress changed proportions to show how it would look on me.  I still like it so it will get made (one day!).

This one is a Burda dress.  I like the style but thought the neckline was wrong for me, so I tinkered with it and I'm happy with the new design.

Try doing your own croquis - it's great fun!  Let me know how you get on and please feel free to ask any questions you may have.

Monday 25 July 2016

Seam Allowance Guide - one of the best sewing gadgets

Hi all,

I thought it was time for another of my favourite sewing gadgets - the Seam Allowance Guide.  This would be my second favourite gadget, outside the essential sewing tools.

So what is this gadget?  It allows you to add or subtract to any pattern that needs adjusting.  You just set it to the required width and by following the black ring instead of your scissor blades and you are automatically cutting the extra you need.

This tool enables you to add to side seams if you need some extra room, add longer hems, or seam allowances to patterns that don't have them included.  It is also great for adding seam allowances when you draft your own patterns.  Very quick and accurate!

Another of my favourite uses for this gadget is when a pattern only includes 6mm or 9mm seams.  I'm not a fan of those narrow seams as there is no room to adjust the garment after it is constructed.  I prefer 15mm seam allowances which are more forgiving.  Especially handy when wardrobe shrinkage occurs between seasons  ;-)

Another nice feature is that the Seam Allowance Guide is Australian made.

If you want one of these super handy little tools you can get them here:



Friday 24 June 2016

Scissors ain't Scissors Sol!

Those of us "of a certain age" will remember the old motor oil ad which immortalised the saying "oils ain't oils, Sol!"  The same goes for scissors.  And that's important for your sewing!

Scissors are some of your most important tools in your sewing kit, so you need to have the right sort of scissors and make sure you buy good ones.

As a minimum, you should have 2 pairs of scissors - one pair of dressmakers shears (around 8" long) for cutting out your fabric and a smaller pair (around 5" long) for all your trimming and clipping.  The smaller pair are much easier to handle and you are less likely to slip and overcut something.

You should buy the best scissors you can afford and test them before you buy them.  A good pair will cut smoothly and right up to the very tip.  Fortunately, these days an excellent pair of 8" dressmakers shears can be bought for around $60.

There are also various styles of scissor handles available from the old style metal handles to various moulded plastic styles.  This comes down to personal preference and comfort.

My personal preference in scissors is for Ginghers.  They are Italian made and beautiful to work with.  Gingher make a wide range of styles so there are plenty of shapes to suit any task.

Two pairs of my Gingher scissors

The other brand I find is popular with my students is Kai.  They are Japanese and have a plastic type handle.  The handle seems to suit ladies who have small hands better.

My Kai scissors

You will, no doubt, have heard that using your sewing scissors to cut paper will blunt them.  That isn't really true as paper is no worse than fabric.  While I certainly advocate that you should only use your sewing scissors for fabric, the way I see it, your scissors have a certain number of cuts in them and you just don't want to waste those cuts on paper.

What's your preference in scissors?  

If you have any questions about scissors please feel free to ask!

Monday 23 May 2016

An Interesting Exhibition

Hi all,
Just wanted to share some photos I took at an exhibition we visited during our trip to Washington State to visit Connie Crawford.  It was a display of contemporary Salish wool weavings at the Suquamish Museum.  The Suquamish are the local indigenous tribe.  The lady who produced the weavings is Danielle Morsette.

I think you will agree they are beautiful and exquisitely woven.  Enjoy!

This garment is made with plant material as well as wool

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Sewing Tip - Hat Elastic Can Cure Gaposis

Hi everyone,

I want to share one of my favourite fixes with you.

Ever made a top or dress thinking all was good with the fit, only to find the neckline or armholes gape? There is plenty of advice out there on ways to avoid the problem before you cut the pattern, but none tells you how to fix it after you've made the garment! You don't want to waste all your good work but how can you fix the problem?

Hat elastic is the answer!  Hat elastic is a single core elastic - only one strand of rubber (or whatever they use these days).  You thread a piece of hat elastic though the channel of the neckline or armhole seam and gently ease it in until the gaposis is gone.  Tie off the elastic with a reef knot when you have the easing just right.  A reef knot should not come undone - a granny knot would not stay tight.  If you don't know what a reef knot is, have a look here:


You want it to pull in the excess fabric, but not so much that you cause the neckline to gather up. it is quite surprising how much you can reduce the size without seeing any gathers.

This technique works really well with ready-to-wear too.  Often RTW garments don't have darts where they should and that can make the armhole gape.  It's also great for jumpers,  if you feel the neckline is unflatteringly low or wide.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

I'm back!

Hi everyone,

I wish you all a happy new year and hope 2016 has started well for you.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in quite a while.  The reason is that for the last 8 months I have been acting as project manager for our home renovations, and that has been a very big job!

I have been able to maintain my teaching programme, but everything else (including a social life and any personal sewing!) has been on hold.  The reno's are nearly finished and I seem to be getting my life back.  Any of you who have undertaken major renovations will understand how all-consuming they can be.

I actually had a great time being project manager and assisting on the site as a trades assistant to the main builders.  Have learnt so much and had great fun too!

Here's a couple of photos of me "on the tools", as we say in the building game ;-)


We are very happy with the results which include a revamped studio and a private sewing room, just for me.  I know I am spoilt to have a second space but it was a bit tedious having to unpack and repack my own projects all the time in between classes.  Now I can just walk in, do a bit or a lot and leave it all there til the next opportunity arises.

I am really keen now to get into some sewing and the first thing will be adding a couple of items to my winter wardrobe.  I know it's still summer but next month I will be visiting Connie Crawford in Seattle USA for more training, so my winter travel wardrobe must take precedence.

The plan is a to add a couple of items to the wardrobe I took last year - a long line vest and a new winter tee and new trousers.  This is the pattern I will use - Connie's Metro vest and pants - B5473

Here are the existing items I made last year.  They all mix and match so it's a very useful wardrobe.

B5538 blouse
CS1207 T shirt, B5261 Jacket and MX 8002 pants

CS1207 t shirt and B5301 pants
B5999 top
my overcoat B5689
coat showing dragonfly lining and button

So as life returns to normal again, I am looking forward to getting a lot more sewing done - for all seasons!