Tag Archives: sewing

Cross-Over Apron 

Front view of cross-over apron showing double bound finish

Front View

This apron was based on Kwik Sew 2311. I’ve been wanting to make a cross-over apron for a while and had been planning to draft my own, until I discovered the pattern in my collection.

I avoid using bias binding as the commercial product tends to be poor quality fabric and it’s almost always too narrow for my purposes. I usually make a hash of attaching it, too, so used a Hong Kong finish at the neck and along the arm and double binding on the back and hem.

The binding fabric is remnant from Spotlight, of Premium Cotton Sateen in Wedgewood colour, purchased for $1 when they had all their remnants on sale, but normally priced at $16.99 per metre. The binding fabric width was 127cm. I was only able to verify that the fabric was 100% cotton after taking it to the register and asking the staff to scan the bar code, which fortunately was still attached. The fabric seemed to have some spandex in it as it was moderately stretchy and I was able to cut my binding strips on the cross grain.



Next time I would stay stitch the neck before attaching the binding. I might also play with the back shoulder component of the pattern to make it curve a little more, for a better fit to the body.

Modified Pattern


I omitted the button closure in the original pattern. Closures on aprons can so easily open at the wrong time, not something I want in my workwear. It’s easy to put on and take off without the button closure in the original pattern. I did test that before sewing the shoulder seam.


Buying Fabric in San Francisco

Front of Frabric Outlet store showing signage

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

I made a visit to Fabric Outlet in the Mission District of San Francisco in order to post a review as a community service to you all.

In truth, I was was pretty keen to to see the place as it had such good reviews on line.

I’d been to the Mission District before, where Fabric Outlet is located, in order to visit Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant, which Tinkerer and I were invited to on a previous holiday after requesting an authentic San Francisco dining experience. I loved Gracias Madre but I think it’s fair to say that Tinkerer regards vegan cheese as a bridge too far.

I remembered the area around the 16th and Mission BART station as grimy and impoverished. This time I visited in the mid-morning and I found the area downright unpleasant.

If you decide to visit, wear closed shoes, or at least your Birkenstocks to get your feet off the ground a bit. I understand that homelessness and poverty are complex problems to solve, but getting a street cleaner out on a regular basis should be manageable by the local authorities. The stench of urine around the BART station was overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the pigeons. If you have a bird phobia at all, stay away.

Interior view of fabric Outlet showing rolls of ribbon

And the inside

It was a short walk to Fabric Outlet and I recommend visiting if you have a need for a specialty fabric or anything unusual such as fake fur, or leather, or sequins. The range is excellent and includes notions, patterns and upholstery fabric. Prices seemed reasonable to my inexperienced eyes and they had a 40% off promotion running on the day I visited. Sadly for me the promotion didn’t include oil cloth, which was the one thing I was looking to buy.

The style of the store was also more human than you might find at a fabric store at a suburban mall, perhaps due to it being located in a basement and having fewer bright lights to dazzle you.

The only fabric I brought home that day was a couple of metres of new quilting type fabric from Thrift Town next door. I’m still not sure if it is 100% cotton or a blend, but as I’m planning to use it for rug weaving I’m happy either way.



Butterick 5347 – A Breezy Summer Dress

This has already proven itself to be a very wearable summer dress. I found the pattern at my local thrift store and used the smallest multi-size available, which was 16. 

I read recently that the big pattern companies haven’t changed their sizing in a very long time and that you need to use the measurement charts rather than your normal dress size when selecting a pattern. Based on this experience that sounds about right. I wouldn’t buy a ready-made garment in size 16, but this dress was a reasonable fit. Admittedly it is designed to be loose fitting, so there’s a bit of intended wiggle room (aka pattern ease).

Pattern and construction adjustments: roughly two inches of length removed from the bodice, bust dart extended, longer zipper than recommended as I used a zipper from my stash, no hook and eye closure above the zipper, French seams on the side seams which resulted in seams of about 1.8cm instead of the called for 1.5 cm.

What I would do differently next time: slightly lower the bust dart, make a small full bust adjustment, better workmanship on the zipper, stronger stitching at the start and end of the sleeve, follow the construction instructions.

I got myself in a spot of bother by inserting the zipper before sewing the neck/arm facing, which meant I couldn’t turn the two back sections through the facing. I got out of trouble but not turning the facing at the armscye and instead sewing through all thicknesses from the right side. developing the solution took a bit of thinking and was a valuable learning experience. I should, of course, have anticipated the problem, but I didn’t.

Cotton summer dress with cap sleeves

I had the perfect button in my button box

This dress was my first project with my new Janome sewing machine. Rather than spending time sewing scraps I decided to just get on with a real project to get familiar with the machine. I had to unpick a little more than usual but I had a wearable dress at the end of the process. Happy with that.

Volunteering at Miss Fisher’s Costume Exhibition

This week I had the opportunity to spend another day greeting visitors to the National Trust Property, Rippon Lea. This year the exhibition was of costumes from the popular ABC television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

While I was there I had the honour of meeting Marion Boyce, costume designer for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  She was every bit as vibrant and pleasant as this video indicates and was happy to answer my questions, even though I was just a lowly volunteer.

I spent part of my volunteer day in the accessories room, guarding Miss Fisher’s pearl-handled pistol which was required to be under supervision at all times there was a visitor present, even though it was secured in a glass case. The rest of my time was spent out with the garments, mostly in the room set up to look like Marion Boyce’s work room. She told me that each episode must be put together in 16 weeks, so her work room must be a busy one. The exhibition work room was a popular part of the exhibition that inspired many of the visitors to remember the hat boxes and dresses in their own family histories.

Here are a few photos of the costumes. All were constructed to a very high standard. Godets and bias cuts featured strongly in the dresses and boas and scarves accentuated most garments.

Photography was permitted (no flash) so I took may chance after the exhibition closed.

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A Gentleman’s Travel Compendium

This project was a commission of sorts. I made it as a surprise gift for my beloved’s birthday. He wanted a storage pouch for his A5 sized travel diary with a secure pocket for his passport.  

Closure with D Rings

He didn’t get a pouch. Instead he got a compendium. Sounds (and looks) so much better, don’t you agree?

Passport Pocket

Passport Pocket

I couldn’t find a sturdy metal zipper as long as the long side of an A5 piece of paper and I wanted to make sure the passport pocket could be accessed without too much digging. I used 25mm navy blue tape from M.Recht to bind the raw edges, for the band and the closure. The D-rings were from M.Recht, too.

The diary can be swapped out for each trip and the upholstery fabric is heavy enough that a lining wasn’t required. Also, the pattern is plain so I expect it to receive the masculine tick of approval.

The band allows for movement but keeps the diary secure

The band allows for movement but keeps the diary secure

Verdict: The fabric did receive the tick of approval, but the overall design did not. That will teach me to re-interpret the customer’s specification. My beloved is now sewing his own travel pouch and has moved from the prototype stage to making the final product. If you want it done right, do it yourself, eh? It’s a good thing I taught him how to use my sewing machine.

A Traditional Scandinavian Apron

My latest apron is a traditional Scandinavian design, using a different pattern from Kwik Sew 2191. You may recall that I made a workshop apron recently, also using Kwik Sew 2191.

Still need to add the buttons

Still need to add the buttons

I modified the pattern just a little as I wasn’t crazy about the single button closure on the back and the need to add reinforcing under that single button. Instead I made a self-faced button band with interfacing.  I also extended the centre back to give a little more coverage. This modification will allow two buttons to keep the apron in place.

I’m happy with the result but the bias binding was a real pain to attach. This project reminded me why I often avoid patterns that call for raw edges to be finished with bias binding. It’s often more trouble than it’s worth, especially when the binding is narrow, as it was in this case.

This pattern required a lot of bias binding, too. I ended up using every last millimeter of the 5m of binding in the packet, and had to do some heroic zigzagging to make ends meet on the last arm hole.

Designed for serious cooking

Designed for serious cooking

I love this fabric. It’s a retro drill from Spotlight.

If you decide to make this pattern be aware it’s quite generously sized. I made the large size and it’s very roomy. Knowing what I know now, I don’t anticipate I would ever make anything other than the small size. After my recent experiences, I’m beginning to have serious doubts about commercial dress pattern grading these days. Maybe I’m just having a bad run. Or maybe no-one’s double checking the patterns against real people.

Update: I’ve been asked how I know this is a traditional Scandinavian design. I know this because it’s the style of apron my Swedish grandmother used to wear. This Swedish blogger makes that style now and calls them retro.

Antique Fabric and Lace in Auckland, New Zealand

I’ve been away and while I was overseas I received a bunch of comments, offering me all sorts of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. My addiction is, of course, fabric and I managed to check out a fabric shop and a craft market while I was in Auckland, New Zealand.

Let’s start with fabric and leave the market for another day.

They say New Zealand is a bit like stepping back in time, and that’s true, especially when you go to a shop like Antique Fabric and Lace in the Onehunga Mall.

The street address is 132 Onehunga Mall Onehunga. If you’re after lace, patches, leather, hessian or anything odd or unusual you might just find it there. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt and a bit of an adventure but don’t expect to walk out with arm fulls of fat quarters.

Sewing_Machine_World For those, you’ll have to pop across the road to Sewing Machine World which had a nice collection of Kiwiana fat quarters at a range of prices.

Right around the corner is the Dressmart outlet mall which is always worth a look.