Cowl neck long sleeve top Vogue 8597

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The Facts

Fabric: Salvaged cotton (maybe polycotton) stretch fabric from friend’s aunty
Pattern: Vogue 8597 – C sleeves (+ 2.5cm), A body length  (+ 2cm)  Size 14
Made: August 2016
Notions: None
Time to complete: Two hours?
Cost: $0
Make again? Definitely.  I made a second one in navy but forgot to do the shorter length.  Will post soon.  I would like to try a version with curved dart at the shoulder to eliminate the seam down the top of the sleeve.  Next version I cut the sleeves and added in 5cm.  Loads of length for a long-armed cyclist.

A beautiful fit and super comfy.  The cowl is soft without gaping when cycling or bending forward.  The front wraps around to become the full cowl collar with raglan back.  The neck was completely unfinished as I couldn’t work out the instructions but noone would know.  Version 2, I stitched it folded in on the back neck seam.


Worn with self-drafted skirt from upcycled Bird Textiles shirt.

Overall shape and topstitched back shoulder.  I’d like to topstitch the neck seam (also the front armhole seams) but worried about puckering with the stretch fabric on a curve.

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Upcycled Bird Textiles skirt


The Facts

Fabric: Repurposed fabric from poor-fitting shirt + stretch woven cotton sateen for pockets and waistband
Pattern: Self-drafted majorly adjusted McCalls 3560
Made: 2016
Notions: 18cm Zip, bias binding for hem to save maximum print design
Time to complete: A long time, working out the pattern and how to use the most fabric
First made: 2016
Make again? Definitely now that I’ve worked out a good pattern.  I love the deep side pockets.

The original shirt was from beautifully hand screenprinted woven cotton (with slight stretch).  The colour and print were beautiful but the shape was like a sack.  I loved it as a maternity top with a belt above the belly but otherwise it was too shapeless and I thought it would make a perfect skirt.


Here is what resulted.  The front became the back (slit for zip) and back became front (one piece) with sleeves used for side panels.  Sleeve ends had flared cuffs which I cut off, straightened and sewed back on again.

Details – hand stitched zip (my treadle didn’t come with a zipper foot), side pockets to extend the sleeve side panels and waistband.  I top stitched the pocket and did flat seams.  I wanted to top stitch the waistband in red but thought it might not sit right or be too distracting.DSC_9502-Vogue-8593-&-A-line-side-pocket-skirt-Bird-Textiles-2

Top is next in the blog posting – Vogue 8593.  I need an assistant photographer to pull out the crinkles.

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Tractor shorts

The Facts

Fabric: Gingham from the distant past and tractor cotton offcuts
Pattern: Self-drafted by Kate
Made: 2016
Notions: Elastic
Time to complete: Less than 1 hour to cut and sew
First made: 2016
Make again? Definitely – have already many times

Shorts have been my most prolific recent creation.  Whipped up in a flash from various offcuts with flat seams for durability.  Next I’ll try fancier pockets when I have more time.

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A quick birthday present for Benjie’s turning 2 with one of his favourite machines and to go with his bike bar bag.  The pockets are level despite appearing otherwise.  More offcuts have been saved for future creations.

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Balance bike bar bag

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The Facts

Fabric:  Recycled sunbleached canvas futon cover (reversed).  Cotton tractor fabric offcut
Pattern: Self-drafted
Year: 2016
Notions: Recycled velcro from old yoga pants
Time to complete: Less than 1 hour to cut and sew
Make again? Definitely with a bit more tweaking of the straps and fitting of the sides to the semi-circular base.

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Dusty’s plywood balance bike came with a simple velcro bag for the front of the bike.  She loves going off on rides with me now running beside her, to gather feathers and leaves and carry my keys and phone.

Sarah saw the added enticement of gathering treasures on a bike ride around the block and asked me to make one for Benjie’s 2nd birthday to go on his new bike.  I didn’t quite get the top strap lengths right as I didn’t have the bike to work with but Benjie is a happier cyclist with his tractor bag (and now matching tractor shorts).

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Balance bike bar bag rear

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Balance bike bar bag front


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Stretch a-line skirt

The Facts

Fabric: Heavy woven stretch fabric offcut
Pattern: Self-drafted helped by Mad Mim
Year: 2016
Notions: None
Time to complete: Less than 1 hour to cut and sew
First made: 2016
Make again? Definitely

Described as a maxi skirt by Mad Mim, this is super quick and easy once the pattern is drafted to fit.  See her tutorial on how to make your own here.

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The selvedge had a nice fringed edge so I stitched the waistband to the inside and then fold outside and top stitched.

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Week 4.5 Me Made May & June

I’ve got on such a roll with pulling out old favourites and sewing new ones that I wasn’t quite ready to stop by the end of May.  I still have a few unworn me-mades even after wearing a new thing every day for 31 days.  I didn’t realise I had so many pieces of clothing.  I would have kept going but winter has finally arrived and the last three dresses are way too flimsy or summery looking to wear with skivvies and tights.  Lessons learned from a month of wearing my clothes:

  • All of the clothes I made and wore this month are cycle friendly and super comfy
  • I have an abundance of dresses but that’s ok as subtropics living and the odd extra layer can make them wearable all year.
  • I sew in summer when it’s too hot to garden, cycle and bushwalk and think so it’s hard to be inspired to sew warmer clothes.  But I would like some more me-made warmer things.
  • I need more shirts
  • I would like some me-made stylish but techno gear (quick dry shorts/trousers and comfy shirts and a new fleece jacket) for bushwalking and cycle touring
  • Lightweight boleros for the sun to wear over all my sleeveless things are next on the list so I can be sunsmart but elegant when out cycling, pushing a pram or just exploring
  • I love a-line skirts – fantastic for cycling and everything else, flattering and winterised with leggings or long socks
  • I have made a dent in my mountains of fabric.  A year-long challenge will be the only true fix!

I hope to do it again next year and wear the three dresses that missed out this year along with some new bits and pieces.  Thank you to my assistant photographers (Gilbert and Sarah) and patient daughter (whilst sewing) and keen model, Dusty-Rose.  Also Mum, for teaching me how to sew and Dad who helped me restore my Singer when I was 9 so I could really get treddling.

Day 29: Me Made May tea party

Emma: Me-made linen dress Vogue V2900.  Bolero New Look 6886.  Dusty: Mummy-made matching shorts from offcuts.

Day 30:

Me-made panelled skirt in op shop wool with upholstery sample “doughnuts” zig-zagged on.  Red bias hem trim to uneven hemline.  Opshop jumper and scarf and sister hand-me-down top.

Day 31

Me-made silk Vogue cowl top (to be blogged from recycled from 80’s ball gown) and Me-made trousers

Day 32 (June 1st)

Emma: Me-made jumper top in Mum-spun wool from 1970’s from our sheep (possibly the same sheep as mum’s shawl worn to the tea party) and me-made skirt worn earlier. Me-modified t-shirt dress (cropped to a top length).  Knitting is not my forte as the comparison of fit between pattern and my own version attest. Dusty: Mummy-made trousers.

Day 32 (2nd June)

Winter finally arrived today.  So my summer dress needed some winter boosting.  Living in the subtropics, the best clothing is sleeveless so it can be layered with other things in winter or be minimalist in summer.  Time to make some long-sleeved tops and leggings of my own in case winter arrives sooner next May.

Me-made vintage fabric dress


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Tube dress in 15 minutes

The Facts

Fabric:  Heavy stretch fabric (best to hide ridges and bumps)
Pattern: Self-drafted.  See below for diagram
Year: 2012?
Notions: None.  4 seams.
Time to complete: 15 minutes
First worn:  2012? 
Make again? Yes with shorter neck tube (current length is long enough for a hood) and possibly put small stitches at least at shoulders to roll tube in and hide seams or random stitches to create an interesting, bunched collar.  I would also make as a top again with less collar volume.

This was a dress inspired by a brochure from a Japanese shop that just sold tube clothing – tops, skirts, dresses, arm and leg tubes.  I did give it a little more shape than a pure tube and made it invertible (so it can flip to be a top with even bigger cowl) which I wouldn’t bother with next time).  Being stretch, I didn’t need to finish off the seams and left the hem and armholes and neck tube raw.  Great for travelling, breastfeeding and riding a bike.

And inverted as a top with a leather cuff (ideally a fabric one) on one shoulder to contain all the fabric.

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The dress – super simple.

Very crude armhole detail (unfinished hole) but not seen as knit rolls inward naturally.  Pattern below (for size 14 me) with 1.5 cm hems and neck and bottom unhemmed.  It was made in haste and I didn’t think it really needed finishing but I possibly would next time.  With more time and more fussiness, you could hem all.

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Me Made May party

In celebration of all things self-made, I had a party today so my friends who couldn’t manage the challenge of Me Made May could wear something special that they had made for a tea party in our garden.  We enjoyed decadent treats and our cousin Eliza taught us to make stars from ribbons for an installation for 1 million stars.  Here are the results:

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Sarah in self-made trousers and top

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And with Benjie in Granny Jane-made trousers

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Lisa in intricate self-made crocheted top (from grade 12!)

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Rose-made funky original tunic with self-shiboried fabric

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Rowena’s self-knitted cowl neck

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Liz (aunty) in self-made top from Papuan fabric

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May (mother-in-law) in self make cowl neck

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Emma in self-made V2900 linen dress and New Look 6886 bolero and earrings made in high school

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Dusty in mummy-made shorts

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Viv modelling self-made waistcoat sewn for her husband’s wedding outfit

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Mum in self-made panelled skirt and self-farmed, grown and spun and knitted wool shawl

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Gilbert in wife(Emma)-made cotton shirt

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Eliza (cousin) in self-made Vogue jacket

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Chris (neighbour) in self-made trousers

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Kalina, Dusty’s sister and my stepdaughter, in self-made top.

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Abi’s altered and patched jeans.

Star making for 1 million stars



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Week 4 Me Made May 2016

It has been fun rifling through my clothes.  I didn’t realise I had so many pieces.  I might have to do a full Week 5 to shake the dust off my most deeply archived clothing.

Day 24

I spent the day on an epic ride towing Dusty in the bike trailer and didn’t wear anything me-made then but did for bed. Me-made slip dress/nightie me-made.

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Day 23

Me-Made cowl back top in linen.  Shorts are a sister-gift from Boom Shankar.  Something I’d like to replicate for days when I feel like being relaxed.  Mother-in-law-made necklace (silk-covered beads).

Day 24

Me-made skirt.  Time to get serious and fly the flag before our federal election.  This 1970’s hot-off-the-press 1973 skirt matched the logo perfectly!

Day 25

Me-made panelled skirt recycled from old favourite linen tunic dress.  Patch repair after ripping it on the first day of its reincarnation.

Day 26

New self-drafted stretch a-line skirt following help from MadMim’s tutorial. Heavy woven fabric with elastane/lycra.  Featured fuzzy selvedge on waistband seam.  It took an instant to sew once the pattern was perfected and cut out from some old offcuts.`And day 2 of wearing glasses.  Super comfy skirt and another cycling gem.

Day 27

Emma: Me-made Issey Miyake Vogue 2438 dress (circa 2000 and modified this morning) and ancient me-made trousers.  Dusty: friend(Louise)-made Octonauts t-shirt (a new favourite of Dusty’s)

 Day 28 – nearly there!

Me-made Tube Dress upside down as a top and panelled skirt in 1970’s op shop rayon.

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Week 3 Me Made May 2016

I have been very inspired by this Me Made May challenge and with a few pieces short of 31, I’ve been sewing madly.  I’ve also realised that I have very little homemade winter clothing so a relieved (only for that) that winter is very slow at arriving.  I hope to wear my two new skirts this week and have fabric for a warm top and some long trousers.  There is some apple green merino hiding somewhere that I’ll make into a top once I’ve tried the pattern out on something less precious.  My sewing frenzy is less under pressure now I’ve realised from Zoe’s blog that I don’t need a different me-made piece every day.

Day 15

Tshirt: me-screenprinted with original design, Trousers: me-made trousers – very old in stretch poplin, with the stretch all gone.  Necklace: Dusty-made from glow sticks

Day 16

Dress: Me-made dress – first model, circa 2011.  Sorry Mum, I know I should have ironed the dress.

Day 17:

Skirt: Me-made self-drafted a-line skirt from rag bag vintage (70’s?) fabric joined with new cotton blue panels.

Day 18:

My Skirt:  Me-made self-drafted 6 panel skirt.  Dusty’s shirt:  Me-made self-drafted sun shirt.  Both from Dad’s indigo kimono with corduroy for rest of skirt.  See other use here.  My trusty Singer sewing machine behind which has just finished two more skirts (soon to be worn).

Day 19:

Tube dress: Me-made, self-drafted.  4 side seams nothing more = 15 minute dress.

Day 20:

Me: Me-made Slip Dress McCalls 6740 and Dusty’s Mummy-made matching shorts made from one old sarong.  Tea cosy hats by others.

And Sarah’s creation – Sarah-made trousers. She used a stretchier fabric for the band.

Day 21:

Dress: me-made from fabric bought in Dar es Salaam.  Second version of this dress pattern.  Was a drawstring neck but too annoying so modified with darts and shoulder straps.

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