Category Archives: Sew Grateful

Sew Grateful giveaway winners

The time has come.

The time has come, the time is now.

(And I may have been reading ‘Marvin K Mooney’ to the Little Guy this evening and gotten part of it stuck in my head. Anyway….)

It’s time… to draw the winners of my Sew Grateful giveaway!

(Drum roll please….)

First up – the winner of Maudella 5341.

Maudella 5341

Annie who blogs over at The Enantiomer Project!

And next up, the winner of Maudella 4995.

Maudella 4995

Jana who blogs over at Plok!

Congrats ladies! 🙂

And a big thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Sew Grateful week – pattern giveaway

**** Update: giveaway has now closed! Thanks to everyone who came by. 🙂 ****

Yeah I know, creative title, right? Say it like it is, and all that.

Anyway, it’s that fabulous time of year again – Sew Grateful week, hosted by the super-lovely Debi!

And first up is Sew Grateful giveaway day – a chance to give a little something back to the online sewing community.

This year, I’ve decided to give a bit of vintage sewing pattern happiness away. Two patterns, in fact. To two different people.

Here’s what I’m giving away….

Maudella 5341
Maudella 5341
A 6-piece overdress from the 1960’s (good for Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men challenge, perhaps??). Size is 38″ bust, 40″ hip. (And when they say 6-piece, they really mean it – front, back, front facing, back neck facing, and both sides of armhole facings. And done!)

Maudella 4995
Maudella 4995
And just in case you feel like indulging in a bit of selfless sewing, here’s a men’s shirt pattern, from sometime in the 1950’s probably. The interesting thing about this one – the button placket only goes about half-way down the shirt, rather than being a full-length button-down. The size for this little piece of retroness is 14 1/2″ neck.

Now, I haven’t checked either of these patterns – they came sealed in plastic bag things, and they’re still in ’em. So here’s hoping they’re complete! Either way, you get some nice retro envelope art, right? 😉

Interested in being in to win one? Comment below and let me know which one you’re most interested in. I’ll draw the winners this Sunday, 2 March.

Sew Grateful giveaway winner

Hello there. Want to find out who won the Sew Grateful week giveaway?

I turned to my old faithful friend, the random number generator, for an answer. And this is what it came back with:


Lucky number 7, who is….


Nessa chose option C – a soft toy bunny girl, which I’m going to make for her with brown hair and a green outfit.

Congratulations Nessa!

And thanks to everyone who entered. You’re all awesome! 🙂

(PS Nessa – I’ll email you just as soon as I manage to get back into my email account. Note to self: don’t change your password and then not type it in again for a couple of weeks – it tends to result in your forgetting what you changed it to. *sigh*)

Thanks, mum!

I knew it – mentioning in advance that I was going to finish a new shirt by Thursday and post about it eventuated in me shooting myself in the foot, so to speak. That’s right – the shirt still isn’t finished. (Not too much further to go, though!)

Which means, I don’t have my Sew Grateful project finished for Sew Grateful week. Argh!

So instead of showing you a project I’ve made from things I’m sew grateful for, I’m going to show you something my mother made, that I’m sew grateful for. (And that I’ve been meaning to show you for a few weeks now.)

This gorgeous cardigan:


Isn’t it purty? She made it from a pattern from the 1940’s.


It’s made of pure wool – the main wool is some we found for sale, hand-dyed by a women up in Auckland. There wasn’t enough for the entire cardigan, so my mother found another wool to use for the sleeves and edgings, and worked it in with some stripes on the back so it all tied together nicely. It’s all knitted in 4 ply, too. (She has far more patience than I have!)


We went to Made Marion to visit Mrs C, and to hunt out some buttons and bias binding. Check out this adorable bias binding Mrs C showed us – it’s got ladybirds on it! How seriously cute is that?!


My mother is an amazing knitter. I have memories of her knitting when I was young, making these incredibly detailed jerseys with heaps of colours and images in them for us all. It was always so much fun picking out the patterns we wanted knitted next, and seeing all the pretty colours of wool.


And now, how super lucky am I? She makes heaps of gorgeous knitted creations for Drake. (Both of his grandmothers knit – that boy of ours has a very nice and enviable collection of snuggly, cute and awesome knitted garments and toys!) And she still makes me things! We’ve been building up a collection of vintage 1940’s and 1950’s pattern books together and she’s made me two 1940’s cardigans so far.


One day, when I grow up, I want to be able to knit like she does. 🙂

You know, when I grow up and develop some patience….

How To: make a picnic blanket from tea towels


Remember that picnic blanket I made last week? Well, I decided to take photos (and notes) as I was making it, and try my hand at writing my first ever tutorial. What prompted me to do this? It’s Sew Grateful Week, and one of the daily prompts is to share a tutorial!

Sure, it’s not for anything overly complex, but I’m hoping it may inspire someone out there to get creative. (Plus, I find most of the tutorials I use online are for simple but fun things, and usually have nothing to do with sewing garments. So…..)

Since this is my first tutorial, I’d love to hear it if you have any feedback. What you like, what you don’t like, if anything is confusing. Basically, any ideas you have for how I can write better tutorials. (Which is also a reason I’m starting with something simple, so I can get a bit of practice at tutorial writing before I launch into explaining anything more complicated.)

Anyway, here we go…..

How to make a tea-towel picnic blanket

You will need:

  • several tea towels. I used 7, but you can use more or less, depending on how large you want your completed picnic blanket to be.
  • a single bed sheet. (If you want a much bigger picnic blanket, use a double or queen sheet.)

Step one:
Lay your sheet out flat and arrange your tea towels on top of it until you decide on a size and layout you like. (Make sure you note this layout down, so you don’t forget it when sewing everything together!) Use your sheet as a size guide – you don’t want to make the top of your blanket bigger than this.

Step two:
Trim off the hemmed edges of all the tea towels you’re using, so that they’re nice and smooth to sit on.
trim hems

Step three:
Sew your tea towels together, with a 1 cm seam allowance. Press all the seams open as you go. (Note: there’s no need to finish the edges as they’ll all be enclosed once the blanket is finished.)

Step four:
Unless you’ve managed some miracle of placement, chances are the edges of your tea towels aren’t all the same length. You’ll need to go and trim them down, so they’re all the same length. (Yes, you’re gonna lose part of the tea towel design in places. But that’s ok.)
trim edges Collage

Step five:
Now it’s time to cut out your blanket backing. Place your square of tea towels on the sheet, and cut around it so you’ve got a section of sheeting the same size and shape.

Step six:
Take some of your leftover sheet fabric (or if you don’t have enough, use up some of your scrap fabric, or another tea towel) and cut four right-angled triangles. These are going to be pockets on the underneath of your blanket, where you can put stones or other small weights so the blanket corners stay nice and flat and don’t fly up with a breeze. These pockets need to be big enough for stones/small weights, so make them 15cm long from the right-angle point to the centre of the longest edge. Here’s what they’ll look like on your finished blanket:

A quick way to cut out right angled triangles is to fold your fabric into four, take one corner of your blanket back, lie it on top and use it as a cutting guide. To save yourself some time, when cutting the triangles out, place the longest edge along the selvedge or hem of the fabric you’re using – that way, you don’t need to hem it. If you aren’t able to cut your triangles out with the long edge along a selvedge or hem, you’ll need to fold that edge under by 1 cm and sew it down to hem it.
cut corner

Step seven:
Take your four triangles, and attach one to each corner of the back of your picnic blanket, with the wrong side of the triangles against the right side of the picnic blanket back. Stitch them down with a 1 cm seam allowance along both of the short sides.

Step eight:
Now it’s time to attach the top and the bottom of the blanket to one another! Lay them on top of each other, right sides together. Stitch around all four sides with a 1 cm seam allowance, leaving a 15 cm gap in one side for turning.

Step nine:
Turn your blanket out the right way through the turning gap you left in one side. Press all the side seams. Press the edges of the turning gap under, so they’re nice and hidden on the inside of your blanket.

Step ten:
Top stitch all around the edges, about 3 mm from the edge. When you’re stitching over the opening, make sure you catch both the top and the bottom sides of the blanket so it gets sewn closed.

And you’re done! 🙂

Sew Grateful Week Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed

Yay! It’s the start of Sew Grateful Week, hosted by the lovely Debi!

This is the third annual Sew Grateful Week. If you haven’t come across it before, the idea is over the week we show how grateful we are for the online sewing community through hosting giveaways, reflecting on what we’re grateful for/about, sharing tutorials and patterns, and making projects using things provided by others (such as giveaway wins, online tutorials, etc). It’s so much fun!

I love having this chance to show how much I appreciate the online sewing community. Seriously, you guys are just awesome! I’ve made so many lovely new friends, learnt a lot, gotten lots of opportunities to indulge in sewing-and-craft related discussions, and even won a few things (which always totally blows me away!). I still find it a bit hard to believe that people actually read this little blog of mine – it started as a way for me to keep track of what I make, and now, it has followers! Who comment on it!! Seriously, it’s pretty darn amazing! I get a little *zing* of happiness every time I get a comment. 😀

So, thanks Debi for once again hosting such an awesome event!

And since today is Sew Grateful Week giveaway day, here’s a little giveaway to show my appreciation for you all and your awesomeness.

I thought I’d give away a few of my favourite things.

Firstly, chocolate. Because, well, chocolate! (Do I really need to say why?!?) This one is a New Zealand brand, Manuka honey flavour. Very tasty, or at least I think it is! (I may have to buy another block for the giveaway, I’m not sure this one will last past this evening. Willpower and chocolate – pick one only. *sigh*)


Next up, a tea towel. Not just any tea towel though – this one is a repro 1940’s Kiwiana print. In red! (Retro Kiwiana, 1940s and red – all Very Good Things.) It’s repro rather than vintage, so it’s safe to use for it’s intended purpose, or whatever else you feel like doing with it. (Such as turning it into a picnic blanket, perhaps.) (The shadows aren’t included though.)


For the third part of the prize, you get to choose one of the following:

Option A: Simplicity 6336, a skirt pattern from 1965. Waist 34″, hip 44″.

Simplicity 6556

Option B: Butterick 3445, a cute dress from the 1960s. Size 16 1/2 (half-size). Bust 37″.

Butterick 3445

Option C: neither of those patterns appeal? Option C is a soft toy, made in your favourite colours. You even get to choose which type of soft toy – have a look on the Pieces of Us Project blog (or just pick a type from the collage below) and let me know which one you’d like to get. A bunny girl? A cat? A rabbit? A bug? A house?

Want to enter? I’m happy to send this anywhere in the world, so everyone is eligable! Just leave a comment below and let me know which you’d choose – option A, B or C. (Please make sure I have a way to contact you – if your email address isn’t linked up to your profile, leave it in your comment in the format name (at) whatever (dot) com.)

I’ll close the competition off next Tuesday (12 Feb) and announce the winner here next Wednesday.

Thanks Trish!

The other week I received a very exciting parcel in the mail, all the way from the lovely Trish over in Australia! She kindly sent me a bunch of vintage maternity patterns and children’s patterns, and a darling little jersey for when the bump turns into a baby and grows a bit. Thank you so much Trish, I love them all!! 🙂

She also added lovely notes to some of the patterns, which I’ve added below the pattern images here, just because I loved them so much I wanted to share them, haha!

Want to see what she sent me? Here it all is! (I’ve just finished sewing up one of the patterns as well, so expect to see one of them appear here later this weekend. Anyone want to guess which pattern I started with?)

Simplicity 9176. “A great basic tunic minus frills and lace!”

Simplicity 6865

Simplicity 5368. “Cute dress on trend Peter Pan!”

Simplicity 7100. “Love the back of this one!”

Butterick 3950.

Butterick 476.

Burda 4333.

The “All Buttoned Up” Dress

The Theme
Last week on Sew Weekly, it was all about the buttons! (Does anyone else get a bit nervous when buttons are involved??)

The Facts

  • Fabric: Around 3 metres of brown floral craft cotton, $4 per metre from Spotlight
  • Pattern: Simplicity 3407
  • Year: 1940
  • Notions: 11 self-covered 14mm buttons (half a gift from a friend, the other half around 20c from an op shop) and a vintage hook and eye
  • Time to complete: 11 hours (lots of handsewing plus a good hour covering those there pesky buttons!)
  • Will I wear it? Definitely!
  • Total price: $12.20

The Story
Late last year, a group of girls from the Sew Weekly’s sewing circle online community got together and held a pattern swap, where we each sent someone else a mystery pattern. I was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous package from the amazing Debi over in Scotland. (Thanks, Debi!) In it, amoungst other things, was Simplicity 3407, from Debi’s favourite fashion era (and one I’ve become increasingly more fond of over the past year), the 1940’s. Check it out:

I mean seriously, how adorable is this pattern? Pockets, sash waist, insets, shirt dress, gathers – everything about it is adorable, and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since I laid eyes on it.

As soon as I heard this week’s theme was buttons, I made a bee-line for this pattern, determined to make an amalgamation of versions 1 and 2. I used the button front and the darted sleeve head from version 2, and the pockets, short sleeve length, sash belt and cuffs from version 1.

This fabric was a find over the Christmas holidays, when my mother and I headed into Spotlight down in Dunedin during their sale. It was down to $5 a metre, then another 30% off that. Score! Clearly, it had to go home with me, so I bought the last of the bolt. (I also bought the last of about 4 other different fabric bolts. I suspect I made their sales staff happy, as they didn’t have to put things back on the shelves. Hah.) Yep, I had myself a little spending spree. And then two days later, I made a New Year’s Resolution not to buy any new fabric (second-hand is ok) in 2012. Perhaps I made that resolution as a kind of penance….

Anyway, it was a toss up between this brown vintage floral craft cotton, or a pink craft cotton with icons of cars and trains all over it for this dress. A quick wander into the kitchen to ask the boy and his friend which one they thought I should use, and the brown floral was a hands-down winner. (I like to get external input when making decisions, just for the added fun of it. 🙂 )

Since it was a button challenge, I decided to push myself a bit and attempt something I’ve been slightly scared of trying for a while – self-covered buttons. I buy these things whenever I see them in op shops, and have been amassing a bit of a collection, but I’ve never been brave enough to try them. This was clearly the challenge for it! 11 of the dratted things, even. Some a gift from a friend, some from an op shop. Yes, it took ages, but you know what? It wasn’t that bad, and I was getting the hang of it by a few buttons in. In fact, I’m gonna do it again sometime soon. I’ve decided I quite like the look of fabric-covered buttons, after all that.

The Pattern
The pattern itself was nice and easy to make up. Aside from doing a frankenstein of the two variations, I didn’t really make any adjustments to it at all. I didn’t even bother with my usual small bust adjustment, figuring (correctly) that the gathers at the bottom of the bodice would be fine even with a small bust. The only thing I did differently was move the buttons in towards the centre a bit more – I used smaller ones than the pattern called for, and if I’d left them with their original placements there would have been an oddly wide gap between the centre front edge and the buttons.

But, if it was easy to make up, why on earth did it take 11 hours to make?!?

Well, firstly, those covered buttons. That took me an hour, by the time I cut out all the little circles of fabric, decided the template was slightly too small and recut them all larger, then did the gather-tie-cover thing. An hour, but a worthy hour, I reckon.

Then there was the hand sewing. I was a good little seamstress this time – I hand-stitched the inside collar to the dress, and did a hand-stitched blind hem as well. I also invisibly stitched the cuffs to the sleeve to keep them upright. I’m not the fastest hand sewer in the world, so this all took a wee while to do. Time versus feeling virtuous. This was one of the rare occasions where virtue won out – maybe I’ve been influenced by Debi a bit much?!?

The Verdict
I really like this dress. It feels a bit demure, but that’s almost part of the fun, in it’s way. I figure it’s a year-round type one as well – light enough for summer (or what’s passing for summer this year), but with the colours I can wear it with tights, a merino top and a cardigan or jacket for winter.

As for the pattern – I’m a fan! I’m planning on making it up again, possibly in some sort of lightweight wool in version 2 for winter. One of these days I’m going to try version 1 as well, just as soon as I get my hands on a zip that’s long enough……

The Photos
We were a bit late for the photos this time, so they’re taken at dusk out back of the house. That’s Steve’s car beside me – we named it Moon Unit, just like one of Frank Zappa’s kids. (Why on earth would you name your child Moon Unit?!? That I’ve never understood. Unless too much LSD was involved.)

Just for the fun of it, here’s a few photos of some of the details of the dress.

Pointed sleeve cuff

Insets at front bodice waistline, with gathers above them

Self-covered buttons! Turns out they blend in so well, you can barely see them

The Texan Gingham dress

The Facts

Fabric: 3 metres of green and white gingham ~$12
Pattern: McCall’s 3394, gift from Sew Weekly Sewing Circle member Crissy as part of the 2011 pattern swap
Year: 1955
Notions: 55cm invisible zip ~$5
Time to complete: 5 hours (including 1 hour of alterations)
First worn: 7 January 2012, to yum cha with friends
Wear again? Yes, though ironically not with the belt

Total price: ~$17

The Theme
The first of the Sew Weekly challenges for 2012 was Accessorise. “This week we draw inspiration from an accessory — be it a pair of shoes, jewelry, bag or hat. Anything goes.”

Hmmm, but which accessory to choose? I decided to go with a blue and white floral waist belt that I bought a few months ago and have never worn, mainly because it doesn’t really go with anything in my wardrobe. (Yes, that’s right – I have things that don’t go with anything else. Quite a few of them, in fact. What can I say? I’m a magpie for colour and print.)

Belt in hand, I hunted through my fabric stash and lighted on this green and white gingham. Blue and white floral, paired with green and white gingham? Seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I know better.

The pattern was a gift from Crissy from Texas (hence the ‘Texan Gingham’ dress) as part of the pattern swap some of us girls from the Sew Weekly community did late last year. So much fun! I’ve been looking for a chance to use this pattern, and with the combination of the accessory challenge on the Sew Weekly, and the Sew Grateful week that the fabulous Debi is running again, it became the first pattern used for 2012. Thanks, Crissy! 🙂

The Pattern
The pattern itself was pretty easy to sew up, despite the huge number of pleats in the skirt, combined with this gingham not holding creases very well at all. They managed to stay for long enough for me to sew the pleats down, then they all fell out again. Repeated pressings didn’t get them to stay, either. Guess this is destined to be a soft pleated dress. I can live with that.

I was a bit surprised by the sizing of this pattern though – I’m not sure if it’s meant to flare out a lot at the hips, or if it was just the cut, but there was quite a lot of extra room there. Which meant it didn’t sit so well under the belt, so had to be adjusted. I took it in by a good size-and-a-bit down the length of the entire bodice to make it sit right (even though the pattern was technically half a size too small for me in the first place and I got lazy and didn’t bother adjusting it). Which meant the pleats at the hips are a bit denser than those elsewhere, since there was no way I was going to unpick and re-pleat the entire skirt just to adjust the bodice. I also adjusted the bodice darts – they were far too wide near the bust point and also too high on me, so I lowered the points by about 1cm and tapered them off a lot more gradually. (I got rid of the side darts for a small bust adjustment when cutting the fabric.) I must admit to getting slightly carried away with the adjustments though – although it fits, it’s a little bit tight around my ribs, so I’m going to let the side seams out about 0.5cm on each side (2cm in total) around the top half of the bodice.

The Verdict
Will I wear it? Yes, I will. I’ve always avoided this type of pattern, with a drop waist, as I thought they’d look horrible on me. Being given one from Crissy and giving it a go, I’ve changed my mind about that though. Bring on the 1950’s drop waists! After all, they still fit snug around the waist and hips, before flaring out, so they’re fine to wear. 🙂

I won’t be pairing it with this belt though – while the combination seemed to work while draped over my sewing table, it’s just a bit too busy when made up as a dress. Guess I’ll need to come up with something else to make to go with this belt……

Ralph’s Southern Roadtrip

Back in December, I met a lovely Auckland-based colleague of mine for the first time. We got chatting about various non-work things (op shopping, crochet, BookCrossing, the joys of 1960’s orange and brown kitchenware). Just before Christmas, she sent me a cute surprise – a pink-and-purple 6-legged amigirumi octopus! Her first ami – sent to me as encouragement to learn to crochet. (And yes, that is one of my goals for 2012.) I named him Ralph. And decided to show him a bit of the countryside, on my family’s annual Boxing Day roadtrip from Dunedin to Gore.

Ralph visited the Old Sod Cottage near Milton. He was quite impressed at the lovely garden outside, and how efficient the one-room cottage’s layout was. Sadly, he didn’t have a picnic with him, so didn’t get to avail himself of the picnic table. Maybe next year.

He made a small detour when passing through Balclutha, to find a good vantage point to see the Balclutha River Bridge. Ralph tried to play the bridge game when driving over it later, holding his breath until he got to the other side. He’s a small octopus though, and he lungs weren’t quite big enough to make it the whole way across. A+ for effort however.

When driving through Clinton, known as the “three horse town”, Ralph stopped off to chat with the three Clinton horses. He was a bit surprised that they’d gained two friends who were pulling a cart, but politely made his introductions to the new arrivals as well.

On to the final leg of the journey – from Clinton to Gore. Affectionately known as the “presidential highway” ever since the Clinton-Gore presidential race over in the States.

And finally, Ralph arrived at his destination – Gore! He chuckled a bit over the brown trout statue, remembering when Gore and some place up in the North Island (he forgets where) had a row several years back as they both had trout statues. They decided to call a truce as one was a brown trout and the other a rainbow trout. Trout wars were narrowly avoided!

A happy and somewhat tired little octopus, Ralph went on to relax as his adopted family’s uncle’s house for a bbq Boxing Day lunch and drinks, before turning around and heading back to Dunedin again.

Stay tuned for more Ralph adventures – next time, he may have a new friend with him!