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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