Category Archives: Sewing Projects

a russian blue called leia

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This is what has been distracting me during the MMMay16 challenge, our new little Russian Blue kitten! She is my birthday present, and I just love her! She is 10 weeks old and was a bit shy at first, but now she is very playful!

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To try and direct her playfulness away from our hands (and the lounge), I decided to make her a few little toys.

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I drew out a very simply pattern in the shape of a mouse, and gathered my materials.

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I gave my mouse a furry tummy for a different texture. Then, I picked out two buttons for the eyes.

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I added a bit of calico behind the eyes for stabilization, then firmly hand stitched the buttons on.

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Next, I took some kitchen twine and made a platted tail.

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I made sure to place the knotted end of the tail outside the stitching line, so if Leia gives the tail a good tug, it won’t slip out.

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I’m anticipating lots of play time with this mouse, so I chose a small zigzag stitch (number 5) instead of a regular straight stitch. The zigzag will be much stronger, meaning less chance of a blow-out.

Once stitched and turned the right way out, I moved onto the stuffing.

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I added a wad of dried catnip inside the mouse. To me, it smells like a herbal tea, but I’m hoping that Leia finds it irresistible!

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I filled the rest of the mouse with stuffing pulled from a cushion, hand sewed the opening up, and added the ears.

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For something different, I put a bell-ball in the pink spotted mouse so it jingles when she plays with it.

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And here she is, killing it! Sorry for the blurry pictures, she just moves so fast! I love having her around the house, she is a never ending source of entertainment and joy! She’ll be making the odd appearance on the blog, so keep an eye out!

Mitty x

my wedding dress

Before I was even engaged, I knew that I’d be making my own wedding dress. It wouldn’t really feel like my wedding if I didn’t. I have a lot of pictures to share, and a fair bit of explaining, so lets get to it!

I started as most brides do, by trawling through the Wedding category on Pinterest. This is a deep, dark, rabbit hole, and if you’re not careful, you will fall down it and never come out! I quickly found elements that I loved, a soft, layered skirt; tiny cap sleeves; lace!

Then, I saw this dress… SWOON! That soft blush-pink colour was so lovely and feminine, I knew I needed it.

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I also tried on a few RTW dresses, just to get a feel of how big I wanted the skirt. I knew there wasn’t any danger of falling in love with a RTW dress and wanting to buy it. By this stage I was 80% sure of what I wanted, and knew I’d never find it in a shop.

I sketched out a few different styles, playing with the bodice and shoulder strap design. The skirt stayed the same with each new sketch.

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Finally, I came to a decision. I would be making a boned, strapless under-bodice, a lace-bodice overlay with small cap-sleeves, and an open keyhole back. The bottom of the dress would consist of an underskirt with a small sweep, and a layered, full circle over-skirt.

With my design nutted out, I called on the help of the most talented pattern maker I know. Monica is an absolute magic-making master, and I honestly could not have created such an amazing dress without her help and guidance. Thank you, Mon, for everything you’ve taught me!

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day – Thanks Monie!

We started with the simple bits, the under-bodice, lace bodice, and underskirt. Then, we tackled the over-skirt. I really wanted something where the layers weren’t too structured, I wanted them to flow and move in unexpected ways. We worked all day on the pattern, and basically came out with something that looked like this:

I know this looks a bit like an egg, but stick with me...

I know this looks a bit like an egg, but stick with me…

We started with a basic, full length circle skirt pattern (which ended up being layer four). The next three layers were created in the same way, where layer three dipped down, I made the same point of layer two higher. A high point on layer two, made the same point on layer one lower. This would give the hem lines of each layer a really lovely flow.

With the pattern (and a series of toiles) made, it was time to go shopping for the final fabric! I bought some beautiful white, corded lace from the same shop I got the bridesmaids dress fabric from. The beautiful ivory silk (for the under-bodice and underskirt), and the white silk organza came from Elsegood Fabrics in Alexandria. The final stop was Tesutti Fabrics in Surry Hills for the dusty, blush silk organza.

With everything purchased, it was time to start cutting! I have never felt more nervous about the first snip! I cut layer one and three from the dusty pink organza, and layer two and four from the ivory organza. I also cut organza bodice pieces to layer over the ivory silk, so the overall look of the dress had a consistent colour.

I managed to sew the entire dress in seven days. I took everything to my parents house over the Christmas break and worked on the dress from 8.30am until 5.00pm, every day. I kept track of what I did each day:

Day One – Cut out base cloth for under-skirt and bodice Apply fusing to bodice Cut out tear-a-way for bodice necklines

Day Two – Sew under-skirt using French Seams Run overlocker around unfinished edges of under-skirt Sew lining bodice (including channelling) Insert boning Pin outer-skirt (pink & ivory) patterns to fabric

Day Three – Cut out all pieces of over-skirt Test French Seams on the organza Cut out organza for bodice Sew all seams of the over-skirt layers

Day Four – Sew the horsehair braid on all layers of the over-skirt

Day Five – Sew over-skirt layers together at the waistline Seam outer bodice Cut out lace bodice

Day Six – Sew underbodice, outer bodice and lace bodice together on front panel Construct the rest of the lace bodice using French seams

Day Seven – Sew all layers of skirt to bodice, leaving the lace and under-bodice free Insert zipper Hand stitch underbodice to waistline

All I had left to do now, was hem the under-skirt (I forgot to take my shoes!) and bead the lace bodice. I spent the nights on the lounge, slowly adding Swarovski beads, tiny seed beads, and chalk white sequins to the lace. It took me a few weeks, but was well worth the effort; it looked spectacular!

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Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

Photo by James Day

I couldn’t be happier with my dress, it was so comfortable, and I just loved how the sun light picked up the subtle colour differences in the skirt.

I’d also like to say a massive thank you to our photographer, James Day. He was just wonderful on the day, melting into the background to get some of these beautiful shots, but was also very personable and entertaining with our guests. I’m so glad we asked him to shoot our day, I’ll be looking back on these gorgeous pictures for the rest of my life, with a smile on my face.

Well, that’s the last of my wedding-related posts, I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have!

Mitty x

white & gold bra

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I’ve been bra sewing again! I have a few other sewing projects that I really need to dedicate my time to, but I just couldn’t help myself!

I wanted to play around with the cup style, so I’ve added in a power-band, and I moved the cross seam up a little bit.

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I cut the majority of the cup from a beautiful white and gold lace from Boobytraps. The power band is a medium weigh, white lycra.

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I wanted a much lower cut style than my previous bra, so I took about 4cm out of the cups and bridge. Only after I did this, I realized that I didn’t have any under-wires to fit the lower style. I could have waited, and bought some, but I was being rather impatient, so I harvested a pair of wires from an old bra. I checked to make sure they weren’t bent out of shape, then I drew around them onto a piece of paper for future wire-buying.

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To show how much I lowered the bridge, I put the white bra on top of the pink bra. It’s quite a dramatic difference!

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The back is exactly the same design as my pink bra, and cut from the white lycra.

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I lined the entire bra (except the back wing) with bra tule. I love how it encases all of the seams, it gives a very neat finish.

I wore this bra yesterday, so I could report on the comfort level. OMG it was SO ITCHY! How is that possible? It’s fully lines with the softest tule and it doesn’t have any raw seams!? The only thing I can think of, is that I’m rather sensitive, having worn padded bras every day for the last 15 years. Has this been a problem for anyone else? I hope to get used to it over time, because I’d hate to never wear this bra again, it’s so beautiful!

Let me know if you’ve experienced anything like this, and if you have any recommendation to increase the comfort.

Mitty x

how to: sew a french seam

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French seams are a very delicate and easy way to add a level of professionalism to your ‘MeMade’ items. This method encases the raw edge of the fabric inside the seam. I particularly like to use this seam when sewing with silks. I’ve used cotton in this example, but there is a silk picture to show you at the end of the post.

 First, you need a 1cm seam allowance to work with. Pin the fabric wrong sides together. This feels very unnatural, and I still have to concentrate during this step. It’s so easy to pick up the fabric and whack the right sides together.

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Sew down your seam 5mm away from the raw edge.

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Being very careful, trim away the seam allowance, getting as close to the stitches as you dare! I usually cut off around 3mm-4mm.

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Once the seam is trimmed, fold the fabric so that right sides are together, encasing the raw edge in the new seamSome people like to use an iron to get a very crisp fold, but I find working the seam out with my fingers is just as good.

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Pin, and stitch another seam, 5mm away from the sewn edge.

That’s it! You don’t have any raw fabric showing, which makes for a very tidy looking seam. Below is a picture of a French seam in silk organza. I’ve pressed this seam to one side to flatten it. I really love how the seam is visible through the sheer fabric.

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This is actually part of a very special dress that I’ve made.. You’ll see more of it in a few weeks time!

Mitty x

how to: insert an invisible zipper

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I’ll admit that invisible zippers used to intimidate me. They give such a professional finish, and I didn’t think that I’d be able to achieve the same results. I had a look around on the internet for tutorials, and found that there are a few different ways to put them in.

After a lot of practice (and plenty of mistakes), I’m happy to say that I can confidentially insert an invisible zipper. Go out and get yourself a zipper foot that fits your machine. I found an adjustable one, and it has made the entire process much easier.

I’m going to show you my most trusted method. Prepare for LOTS of big pictures..

First, you need to iron the zipper. Open the zipper and using a low to medium heat, gently press the zipper teeth as flat as possible. This step makes everything so much easier, so don’t skip it out.

Pin one side of the zipper tape to the right side of your fabric, lining it up with the raw edge. The teeth need to be facing away from the raw edge. I like to start pinning the zipper a few mm’s away from the neckline. This makes finishing the zipper much neater, but we’ll get to that later. Pin the rest of the zipper tape down.

Now for some sewing. Baste the zipper to the fabric. This first row of stitches doesn’t need to be up against the teeth, so pick a point a few mm away from the teeth. Take out the pins as you come to them. This row of stitches won’t be seen, and will stay in your garment.

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The basting stitches make the next step a lot easier, as you don’t have to worry about pins getting in the way. Place the zipper so that the machine needle is coming down as close to the teeth as possible. You don’t want to pierce the teeth at any point, so just take it slowly.

In the picture below, you can (just) see both rows of stitches, the one on the left is the basting, and the one on the right is the finish.

Repeat these steps on the other side. I find the easiest way to line everything up, is to do the zipper up a few cm’s, and from the wrong side, pin the seam allowance together matching any notches in the pattern. Then you can pin the zipper and fabric together where they naturally fall. Sometimes this method is out by a few mm, but never enough to really matter too much.

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Now you need to finish the top of the zipper, which will look something like this:

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Open the zipper, and on one side, fold the top of the tape over at an angle.

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Take the facing/waistband and pin it to the zipper tape, with right sides of the fabric facing each other. This is where that few mm near the neck line come in handy. By pulling the facing over the zipper, you get a very clean finish.

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Sew the facing to the zipper, making sure not to get too close to the zipper teeth. The zipper-pull needs to be able to slide up the back of the tape, without getting caught in the facing.

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Chop off the bit of zipper tape that hangs out, and turn right side out.

Repeat on the other side.

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Last step! Finishing the bottom of the zipper into the seam. With the zipper done up, pin the seam together, matching any notches in your pattern. Fold the zipper tape so the raw edges of the fabric are level, and insert a pin in the seam allowance, just below the point you stopped sewing the basting and final rows.

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Still using your zipper foot, start sewing close to the zipper teeth (which are encased in the seam), just above the point you stopped sewing the basting and final rows.

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Finish sewing the seam. The beginning of this seam is usually more than my normal 1cm seam allowance, sometimes 1.5cm or even 2cm. Once I’m past the zipper, I gently slope my seam back down to 1cm.

Give everything a good press with your iron, and that’s it! Perfectly flat, and seamless!

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I hope this has been of some help! Remember, this is my preferred method, but there are plenty of other ways to put your zipper in, if this seems too complicated.

Mitty x

boobytraps workshop

For all the time I’ve been sewing my own clothing, never did it cross my mind that I could make my own bra. When it finally did cross my mind, there were a few things holding me back.

  1. Far too complicated, with under-wires etc
  2. Too fiddly, it looks like so many different, small bits..
  3. I don’t even know where to start with sewing elastic!

I did what any normal person would do, I started researching. What I found was much different to what I expected. There is an entire online bra-making community! Everyone is so lovely and informative! I’ll link some of my favourite blogs at the end of this post.

During my research, I started looking for suppliers of bra bits. There are heaps of online stores, but what I really wanted to find was somewhere I could go and actually look and touch the laces for myself. That’s when I found Boobytraps.

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Boobytraps are primarily an online store, however they do open to the public on Thursdays and some Saturdays. They have an amazing range of laces, elastics, and patterns. I was so excited to see that they also hold bra-making workshops! I signed up straight away!

I chose to make an under-wired, soft cup bra. All of my RTW (ready to wear) bras are the padded, molded cup variety, I was really interested to see if I’d find a soft cup comfortable.

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This is my finished bra! Was it difficult? Not really. Was it fiddly? Hm, a little bit, but not enough to turn me off making more! Is it comfortable? Absolutely!

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Under the guidance of our teacher, Lynn, we learnt the importance of lining a bra (none of my RTW bra’s are lined..), how to fully encase the seams to eliminate the itch-factor, how to insert under-wire casing, how to sew elastic properly… the list goes on! The workshop was totally worth the cost for the tips I learnt alone, not to mention the fact I walked away with my very first me-made bra!

 I decided to go with a light coloured kit, so I could really see what I was doing. The kit came with everything I needed to make the bra, including these gorgeous detailed elastic straps! So pretty!

I highly recommend these classes, but you do need to have a bit of stretch-sewing experience. I also took along my own sewing machine, stretch needles, silk pins, scissors and measuring tape.

Now to my favourite bra & lingerie blogs!

  • Visit Maddy at Madalynne for some truly ethereal, lovely lingerie inspiration/tutorials.
  • Erin at The Emerald Studio is incredibly talented! She even delves into the finer details of bra making, which I can’t get enough of.
  • Amy from Cloth Habit is the designer behind the Watson Bra pattern, which has a cult following. It’s a gorgeous little pattern, which you can purchase online.

I think I’m addicted to bra making. I’m OK with that!

Mitty x

the gift of fabric

I love thoughtful gifts, both giving and receiving them. My gorgeous friend, Nicole, gave me a very thoughtful Christmas gift, a lovely piece of fabric, and I instantly knew what I was going to make from it.

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This is a fairly thick cotton, and I’m 100% certain that it was a curtain at some stage. Seeing as I wasn’t sure where it came from, or how colour-fast the print was, I popped it in the wash. It came out looking just as lovely as when it went in! I’m so glad the colours didn’t run.

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The print is amazing, it’s so retro, and I just love it. I wanted to get one of those big flowers on the front of the dress, so that took priority while placing my pattern pieces.

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I’m using a self-drafted pattern, which is a basic shift style dress, with short sleeves, and minimal shaping (being bust darts). I’m also using a facing for a clean neck line.

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The dress came together very easily, finished in one afternoon! I don’t mind the slightly doubled-up pattern on the back, it was a necessity for getting that large flower on the front.

I’m very pleased with my new dress, and can guarantee that it will get a lot of wear. I’ll even be able to get away with it in cooler months, with tights and boots!

Thanks to Nicole, for such a thoughtful gift!

Mitty x