Japanese market bag


For a goodly while I’ve had a yen (pun intended :) ) to make a Japanese market bag. I first saw these in Japan made from amazing fabric as one would expect, and I have finally made a first prototype.


These are easy bags to make. There are a plethora of tutorials on the web, so I won’t add to them, except to show the minor modifications I’ve made.

The first thing to know, though, is that this bag takes a surprising amount of fabric. I wanted to use up some of my scraps and I struggled to find anything long enough, which is why I’m using part of a doona/duvet cover donated to my stash by Gabi. Basically you need three times the height. I made mine 43cm high by 129cm long, which seems to be the common wisdom. This gives me three squares of 43cm. Or it would except that I didn’t add seam allowances and I lined the bag, so my bag finished up a tad smaller than I had intended.


It is still plenty big enough though.

Most of the tutorials I looked at had two short tubes rolled down the triangular handles to form the handles. I decided on one long tube which covered the join in the handle and therefore looked a bit more finished to me.


I also wanted to add a pocket. I had a bit of a guess as to where it should go and it’s finished up on the side, but at least I won’t be fossicking for my phone every time it rings!

I also added a pair of magnets at the centre of the triangle. I just like to have the sides kept together.

So next time I need to add seam allowances, find some nice upholstery fabric or, even better, some Japanese fabric, and I would use a piece of leather for the handle. This is a really quick and easy make and I am looking forward to making the next one.

Bracken dyeing experiment


My participation in one year one outfit has sparked an interest in eco dyeing. I have already had a go with eucalyptus leaves and I thought I’d try bracken leaves as I have a few growing on our weekend block. I picked a few, boiled them up with some rainwater in an iron pot and then loaded in the eucalyptus dyed fabric into which I had rolled a few leaves. I tied it all up with string and weighted it down with a rock and left it alone for a week.


I realise that the rock might change the chemical composition of the brew and therefore skew my experiment, but as I’m not being overly scientific I decided I wasn’t too fussed by this.


A week later I pulled out a purple slug-like piece of fabric. I was thrilled.


If you examine the above photo carefully you can see the imprint of the bracken leaves. I was now beyond thrilled.

I hadn’t pre-mordanted this piece of fabric, so I decided to post-mordant it with a brew of she-oak nuts. As mentioned in my last post, I made like a squirrel and gathered the nuts, and boiled them up with some rain water and plunged in my fabric.


It looked totally disgusting. I left it for a day and then took it home and washed it.

OK, mild disappointment. My fabric is no longer purple but a kind of dirty lavender and most of the bracken imprints have vanished.


Of course, had I used silk or wool, this might have been a stunning experiment, but I have masses of white cotton that I don’t mind sacrificing and no white silk or wool. It’s still interesting though and I will turn this into a long top that I can wear under things in the winter.

Since conducting this rather iffy experiment, one of my friends, who is a botanist, told me that bracken is highly toxic and that early settlers would use it as fodder and bedding for calves and it caused haemorrhaging and death. It also makes sheep psychotic! Hence, this will be my first and last experiment with bracken as I’m not sure how I feel having that little lot leach into my skin.

Pattern Magic sloper


I’ve had Pattern Magic Volume 3 for eons and haven’t actually made anything from it, although I have serious interest in a couple of the patterns. I decided I needed to remedy the situation and started with the sloper.


I am sure that slopers aren’t meant to be made into actual clothes, and I started out with a scrap of blue knit and then couldn’t bear to waste it, so I added some odds and ends from a Potter Textiles $5 scrap bag and I had me a very handy t-shirt.


This is a bit of an odd pose, but I was out in the bush collecting she-oak nuts for a dyeing experiment and I didn’t want to get my knees dirty.

In the end I gave up on the clean knee quest. I found a load of the nuts, which I immediately threw into a brew (more of that in another post)  DSC03271

The contrasting bands and sleeves were tiny scraps of fabric. I had made the t-shirt with a shorter front because of a serious fabric shortage, so added a long band and then liked the effect so added a narrower band in the same fabric at the back. I hadn’t noticed the weird effect of the lines on the fabric until I looked at this photo. Trust me, it’s all quite straight.


The sleeves are the same fabric in a different colourway. When I felt the fabric, it was so luxurious that I was convinced it was a poly blend, but a burn test shows it to be a wool blended with some other natural fibre. I have to say that the whole shirt is wonderful to wear and I have worn it at least once a week for about a month. It launders like a dream and needs no ironing. The perfect t-shirt in my opinion!

Keeping in mind that this is a sloper, I am going to make a few adjustments before I use it as the basis of a “real” garment. I think I’ll do a sway back adjustment and the armholes need to be made a bit longer, which means that the sleeves will need to be altered too. I also had to guess the length of the neckband and I might make it a smidge smaller next time. Having said all that, this is already a favourite t-shirt and I will make a few more with long sleeves as layering pieces for winter.

In a nutshell: Pattern is the sloper from Pattern Magic 3. Fabric is a lovely 100% cotton knit that I’ve had in my stash for a long time, combined with two different colourways of a wool blend from a $5 scrap bag. Jeans are really old RTW ones that I altered to fit me a bit better. Shoes are Timberland bought in Upsala, Sweden.

Basic Black Shirt “M” – the planets have aligned


I have identified a gap in my wardrobe – a need, not a want! I didn’t have a black shirt. Crazy, right? Once my whole wardrobe was filled with black things, but since I’ve started making all my clothes, I tend to not make them in black as it’s so hard to see, especially at night. Hence the severe shortage of black shirts.


So, what pattern did I use? My friend Thelma gave me the Japanese book Basic Black for Christmas. She’s the best. I immediately wanted to make at least four or five things from it, but as soon as I identified the need for a black shirt, I went to pattern m, so the planets aligned for me.


This is a plain shirt with collar, front button band, shaped hem and princess seaming in the front. The pattern uses stretch seersucker. I found some lovely black cotton with a bit of lycra in my stash; perfect! Then came the pattern tracing. Hmm. There are 26 patterns on one sheet of paper, front and back, so it’s busy. It clearly says to use grey, side A. A bit of head scratching, turn the paper over to B and I begin to identify the pattern pieces in both grey and red. Okaaay. Then I spent a bit of time looking for the front placket pattern. Doesn’t exist. I went off to see if anyone else had had the problem and couldn’t find a single review of this pattern. Aaagh. I made up the width of the placket based on my best guess looking at the diagram.

I was a bit concerned with the sizing so I used my newly acquired bodice block to check the sizing and then I made a muslin of just the bodice (gasp!). It looked ok, so off I went. I even remembered to add seam allowances. All went well with the construction until I had to join the collar stand to the body. The body was too big. When I folded back the placket as though it didn’t exist, the collar stand fitted perfectly. I now have a beautiful front placket tucked inside the front of the shirt.

My only other issue is that the side front piece had a small dart but when I sewed the darts the side seams of the front and back didn’t align. My shirt no longer has bust darts…


I just noticed that the collar is sitting up. It doesn’t appear to do this in real life, but I’ve given it a jolly good press, just to make sure. Apart from that, I love this shirt. The fabric is fabulous and this is a nicely fitting shirt that I think is quite flattering.


In a nutshell: Pattern is shirt “m” from Basic Black, a Japanese sewing book.    basicblack1

The fabric is black cotton with a smidge of lycra bought as a remnant from The Fabric Store. Don’t ask me which one! The buttons are gorgeous and I bought about 50 in a plastic bag from an op shop. Only 38 left to use… They are small and are carved shell.

My white pants are Vogue 8859, one of my all time favourite pants patterns. My shoes are A Bottega.

Pattern review:

Pattern Description: Japanese Sewing Book “Basic Black” pattern m. This is a plain shirt with collar, front button band, shaped hem and princess seaming in the front. The pattern uses stretch fabric, but I’m sure it could be made in a plain woven without too much effort.

Pattern Sizing: XS, S, M, L. I did medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, especially as I made it in black.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Er, this is a Japanese sewing book, so the instructions are minimal. However, the order of construction is all that’s really necessary and this was easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I don’t normally have too many problems tracing off patterns, but I did get mildly confused with this one. The pattern was not on the side specified and was in two different colours. I had to trace the pattern with a highlighter to distinguish some of the lines from other pieces.

Fabric Used: Cotton/lycra blend. It is light and perfect for a trans-seasonal shirt.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to tuck the front plackets inside the shirt in order to make the collar stand fit. Next time I shall wrap it around the front so that it doesn’t make the fronts wider. I also eliminated the bust darts from the front side pieces. Next time I shall put them in and extend the front side seam. I also did a sway back adjustment.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I am already planning my next shirt using this pattern. This will become a go to pattern for shirts for me. I absolutely love it. I might make the sleeves longer and the cuffs smaller just so that I don’t have shirts that all look the same. I would absolutely recommend it.

Conclusion: This is a stylish, easy-to-wear shirt and I think the patterns in the book are lovely. I can’t wait to make more.

Fashion with Fabric: three hour slouchy cardigan


I acquired the Great British Sewing Bee book “Fashion with Fabric” and I have to say that I love nearly everything (not sure I’d make an elephant costume though!). This three-hour slouchy cardigan is my second make, the first being pyjama bottoms.DSC03172

The cardigan is made from a wool/modal blend that I bought as a remnant from Potter Textiles. It is so light and drapey, the perfect fabric for this cardigan.


You will note the title of the pattern: the three-hour slouchy cardigan. I have to tell you that it took me more than three hours just to cut it out! The fabric is lovely but a horror to sew and cut out. I could not get it to fold on the grain, so had to cut the pattern out piece by piece. Then sewing it up was a bit of a drama. It slid and slithered everywhere. There are two tucks on each shoulder and I do confess that mine are not well done. Unpicking was not an option either as the fabric went into holes the minute it saw the blade of the seam ripper.

Anyway, it’s done, I’ve worn it on a few occasions now, and I can’t wait to make the hacked version from woven fabrics. This will be the perfect trans-season item of clothing.


In a nutshell: Pattern is the three hour slouchy cardigan from Great British Sewing Bee book 3 “Fashion with Fabric”. The book is available everywhere online, so I haven’t provided a link.

Fashion with Fabric

Fabric is wool/modal from Potter Textiles. Trousers are Style Arc Elle, made so long ago that I can’t find if I’ve ever blogged them. I’m also wearing the first Bronte top I made. It’s the perfect weight for this weather.

A quick review of the pattern and book: The pattern would be extremely quick to make in a more disciplined knit. It has two pattern pieces and the only “fiddly” bit is the shoulder tucks, but they are hardly difficult. I coverstitched the border/hem, but the book recommends a twin needle. That’s it really.

The book itself is wonderful. There are lots of makes popping up in people’s blogs, and I have several more planned for the next couple of weeks. The patterns are easy to trace off and the instructions are very detailed. Highly recommended!

Kimono coats for a cause


Following on from my previous kimono coat post, I’ve made a few more, and thought I might highlight a couple just to show I haven’t been slacking off in the sweatshop.

First up is this latte coloured embossed kimono made from two fine wool scarves. This colour does not suit me, but the fabric is lovely.


The next is made from two heavy woollen scarves with an interesting design. This is a really lovely coat and I, ahem, added it to my wardrobe. On first wearing I received a few comments, so deem it a success.



Then Gabi gave me two of her own scarves and asked me to make one for her. This is the result. You can see the first two kimono coats hanging in her shop.


I love taking photos of Gabi, she becomes totally mobile and vamps it up. This coat is divine – it’s a thick, felted, embroidered jacquard, and I do confess to feeling a touch of the envies over it.


Unfortunately I had to use my phone for these photographs so the quality isn’t fabulous.17050933526_6b37acf0d9_n

I’ve also made another two but didn’t manage to get photos. The money raised from these coats is going to a foundation set up to support men with depression.

In a nutshell: Kimono coats made with scarves from Heaven Wrapped, Claremont. Setting for Gabi’s photos is Heaven Wrapped, her shop.

One Year One Outfit buttons


As mentioned previously I’m participating in the one year one outfit challenge and I need buttons. I have some beautiful pebbles gathered from a West Australian beach which I was going to use but they don’t work colourwise so I found a piece of drying Banksia branch and hey presto, I have buttons!


Just to walk you through the process, I brought home a couple of sticks of Banksia,


put one of them through the circular saw


to make my required number

DSC03090drilled a couple of holes in each one


picked off the bark and then oiled them. The one on the left has been oiled with a locally produced bees wax and the one on the right with a local olive oil. The oil seems to show the striations in the wood better, so that might be the approach I adopt. I also sanded the edge of the one on the left smooth, but left the one on the right with its ridged edge, and again, I think I prefer this. Thoughts anyone? I haven’t finished off the others yet, so am open to suggestions.

DSC03119Now all I have to do is finish the garment that they are going on!

One disclaimer here – I haven’t suddenly acquired man hands – noisy machinery tends to freak me out a bit and so Archie kindly cut and drilled my buttons. I did the hard bit though – finding the stick and doing the oiling :)

I am going to participate in Me Made May again this year and herewith my pledge:

‘I, Sue of fadanista.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear only me made clothes each day for the duration of May 2015′

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