and hey Presto, it’s a cardigan


I had this cotton knit fabric cut out to make a summer Presto Popover top, when I had a sudden realisation that what I needed was a summer cardi – one I could layer at will and this colour, which doesn’t really suit me, would be perfect as it is so neutral. DSC06023

The Presto Popover (previously blogged here and here) is a really clever design. You cut out two complete fronts each with an elongated neck piece. The fronts are joined together with a  line of stitches down the middle, stopping where you want the neck opening to finish.  The fronts are folded back on themselves to form a single front which is double thickness.  The back of the neck is then seamed like a halter neck before being joined to the back piece. There are several advantages to this design, not least of which is that the front of the top is no longer transparent when made with thin fabric, and when turned into a cardigan, that extra layer gives a bit of weight to the fronts.

I think my inspiration for modifying the top came from a conversation I had with Megan from meggipeg a while back, when we were discussing how easy it would be to turn this pattern into a cardigan. And so it proved… All I did was to leave out the centre stitches on the fronts, joined the two layers at the neck using the burrito method as per the instructions (if you are unfamiliar with this method, you simply join one front to the back, roll the whole garment into the piece you are sewing, turn it over and join the other front, giving you two layers right sides together. Then you pull the garment out through the armholes and all the seams are neatly enclosed. Clear as mud? I thought so! Here are a couple of good tutorials on the matter – Grainline Archer and a video tutorial.

This is how the inside looks – seams nicely hidden.  The vertical seam at the top is the back of the neck, which is part of the front and the horizontal seam is where the fronts join to the back.


Here is a closeup so that you can see how the neck is joined to the back.



I also turned the hems on the front pieces right side together and sewed them up to get a neat look,


and I coverstitched the back hem. Shocking photo as I had been wearing said cardi and it lost its nice crisp look, but you get the idea.

The thing about the Presto is that it is very fitted. Were I to make a winter cardigan from this pattern (and I probably will), I would rework it so that I had some chance of making the fronts meet. Otherwise they look like this – not that it bothers me. I am really happy with my open, swinging cardi for the warmer temperatures.


The only other changes I made were to lengthen all the pattern pieces, including the sleeves.

I did have a dark moment. I had completed the whole thing and was busy giving it a final press when I noticed a black thread had inveigled its way into the folded front. Aaaagh! I had to unpick part of the seam and entice it out. It only showed in certain lights, but I knew it was there and it would have bothered me enormously.


This cardi is going to be in constant rotation. It is the perfect weight, it is a great colour to tone with many of my outfits, and it is so, so, comfortable. If you have the Presto pattern (and if you don’t, I can recommend it) give this simplest of hacks a go, you will not be sorry!

Here are a couple of other ways I’ve worn it.


colour blocked dress (sorry about the wrinkles, it’s linen and I’d had a long lunch with friends)


It is also fabulous for casual dressing when I’m staying at home – pink trousers (vogue 8859) and unblogged white singlet.

Details: The pattern is the Presto Popover by Coco at the Heroine’s Closet. Fabric was bought from Potter’s several years ago when they were still in Leederville. The first dress shown is Tilly and the Buttons Coco, blogged here.

In case you are interested, my other hacks for this pattern are blogged here and here.



Inari dress


I’ve seen a few Named Clothing Inari dresses popping up here and there and when Megan brought her version round for me to try on, I was hooked.


I went down a size from Megan’s as  I had the perfect jersey fabric for this dress, but I couldn’t quite locate it, and by the time I found this spotted cotton, I had forgotten about the sizing. Luckily I can fit into it quite happily.

Beady eyed readers will note that my dress is very short, and in fact, it’s more of a tunic. The length was dictated by the amount of material I had. This was a Spotlight remnant and it was pretty small. However, I quite like it as a tunic or long top.


So what can I say about the pattern? It is extremely quick to make and goes together really well. The curving side seams are a nice touch, with the slightly longer back and the split. I will say that the lengthen/shorten lines are very high and as I was taking 10cms off the length, I had a very strange line to true up. In the end I took the extra length out of the middle of the dress and this seemed to work well. The tunic is cocoon shaped, which might not be the most flattering silhouette for me, but it does make a really easy summer top which will go well with shorts. I really like the little cuffed sleeves, and on the subject of the sleeves, I noted that the sleeves on Megan’s version were quite tight across the upper arms, and I’ve since seen other reviews saying the same. Mine do feel firm but nothing I can’t live with.


I shall be making another of these, but in a firm stretch knit. Now I have made it, I don’t think my original fabric choice would have worked, so the sewing goddesses were looking after me.


Split bottom top


I’ve seen a few tops in the shops with the split bottom half wrapping around to the front and thought I’d like one. Sarah from Workspace-FADS happened to buy one from a well known Australian store and we set about copying it reinterpreting it!


I deployed some fabric that I had found in an op shop, a sweetly flowered blue chambray, and I just had enough by adding a centre back seam.

The pattern is based on my shirt block created in my pattern making class. I added a little detail at the back – just because I could!


This top is essentially a wearable muslin as I hadn’t toiled my new pattern at all, just dived in, and then looked at what needed fixing. The photos above are the first working, and the following photos were taken after some quick modifications.


All I did was run the side seams in a couple of centimetres as the top was a bit baggier than I liked. I then had a larger overlap at the sides, and I changed the direction of the overlap from the back facing the front to the front facing the back, which looks much better. I stitched partway down the overlap to improve the way it all sat.


I also reduced the length of the bust darts, which improved things immensely.

The front has a button placket and the neck binding curves into a kind of collar/neckband. The buttons are deep blue gingham ones that I bought in Hong Kong and which I chose for this top with Archie’s help. I have to say they wouldn’t have been my choice, but I really like them.



This top is still rather loose on me, but this means that it is cool and very comfortable. I am going to perfect the fit, particularly around the shoulders, and make another one, this time from a drapier fabric.



A new collection of old stuff


I recently visited an antique shop which is closing down and had a 50% off sale – my sort of sale! Mark and I have quite a haul, but here are my sewing related purchases. First up is this Vulcan Junior sewing machine. This is a child’s toy and yes, I had one as a child. The shop had several things that I used to have as a child, but I only bought the sewing machine, and to be honest, I don’t really need yet another antique sewing machine, but this one is tiny so doesn’t take up much space.DSC05915

To my joy, it still sewed with absolutely no adjustments. I think these machines were made in the 1950s, and mine is missing the table clamp and instruction book. I don’t think the instructions are necessary, I still remembered how to thread it, and I think I’ve got a clamp squirrelled away somewhere.DSC05918

This is a thick piece of denim and the trusty Vulcan didn’t even hesitate.DSC05916

This sewing machine doesn’t have a bobbin, instead creating a chain stitch on the underside of the fabric. DSC05917

Next up is a Singer buttonholer. I already have one (or two – oops!) of these, but this one has all the bits, including the instruction book, and some other random pieces of paper which are advertisements, and they are fascinating. I have to say that these little gadgets make outstanding buttonholes when they’ve been mastered. DSC05919

Then I discovered some textiles. This doily (I think it’s a doily) is fascinating. It’s on an organza backing with embroidery, cut velvet and amazing edgings. DSC05920

I also found this lace which appears to be from the 1920s. It is stunning, but I have no idea how I will ever be brave enough to use it.


This large piece of fabric was hiding on a chair. I think it’s fairly old as it’s quite narrow. There are metres of fabric here and it is glorious. Not sure what I’ll make with it though – something long, full and glamorous?


I found these two thimbles, which were a couple of dollars each. I suspect they are seconds, but they are so appealing. I think everyone will recognise Mickey Mouse, but the other character is Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoons (you have to be a slightly older person to know about Popeye and his on/off girlfriend, Olive Oyl. Interestingly, Olive was the prime character initially, but Popeye was more popular, so he was recast as the hero. Poor Olive… Olive had a brother called Castor Oyl, which always amused me. Sorry about my camera lens, I had to use it to stop the thimbles rolling around.


Down the road from the antique shop is my most favourite op-shop (thrift shop). They were packing up for the day, but this table cloth literally fell off a shelf into my arms. It is large and quite perfect, and cost $2. Nothing in this shop costs more than $2!


Just before the tablecloth fell into my arms, I had spied these two beauties and at 50c each, I could not leave them behind. DSC05923

All in all, I had the best hour of shopping.

Japanese knot bag sewalong: design modification


By now you may have finished a knot bag and be ready for a slightly different version. I’ve played around with the pattern, and come up with this


The fabric is boiled, foiled wool, leftover from one of my reversible jackets, and therefore meeting my stringent stash busting requirements.


I have therefore made the bag reversible too!DSC05908

All I did was take the existing pattern and extend the sides out straight. I squared off the bottom and sewed it up in the same sequence as the original bag.


Because the fabric is reversible, I didn’t line the bag. I am not convinced that this was a good idea as the bag feels a little flimsy, but that might be in my head, as the fabric is reasonably robust.

I had started out to make the bag into a box shape at the bottom by squaring off the corners, but that idea got lost in the translation. However, I would love to see someone else do this. Looking at the photos, I may just retrofit box corners to this one.

I am currently playing around with one made from a pair of jeans, complete with the pockets. I have run out of time to post here, but if I get it finished before the end of November, I shall do a post for you.

Just in case you think this bag isn’t cool enough, here is another celebrity photo for you. This one is from Stella McCartney’s 2015 collection (thanks to Hélène for this one), which is a bit reminiscent of the one I’ve done, but longer and with a longer handle.


What design modifications can you think of?

Previous sewalong posts are:



Lottie dress


I made this dress for an intimate wedding that we attended at the weekend, which had a dress code of smart casual – whatever that means!


I’m not sure why I am calling it my Lottie dress, but the minute I first put it on, that’s the name that came into my mind, so that’s what it is.

The pattern is a self-drafted funnel necked dress that I made during my pattern making class at Workspace-FADS, and I absolutely love it. It is a real pleasure to sew from a pattern where everything lines up and you know the fit is perfect. The fabric is a beautiful 100% cotton knit that I bought on my trip to Hong Kong. I am so glad to have this out of my stash and made into something so wearable.


I was extremely pleased with the pattern placement. I didn’t really have enough fabric for this dress and so I had to work hard to get that wide band at the top of the dress.  The sleeves had to be cut in two pieces to fit them onto the fabric and the pattern matching on the outside seam is so perfect that Mark couldn’t tell that there was a seam down the middle. I was also pretty happy with my side seams.


The wedding ceremony was in a suite in a local hotel and these photos were taken on the balcony. We battled the sun and the wind, and I thought I’d include this photo where I appear to have sprouted horns!


And a final photo of Mark and me taken by one of the other guests. It was a lovely wedding.


The bag is a gold Japanese knot bag, and I am currently hosting a sewalong for this bag. Shoes are Christian Louboutin. Mark is wearing a shirt and trousers made by me. Venue is the Crown Metropol.

Japanese knot bag: Ready to sew?


Welcome back sewalong adventurers: by now you should have printed out the pattern and taped it together. You will also have burrowed deep into your stashes to find fabric for your bag.

Lay out the pattern on your fabric and decide whether it’s the right size. Now is the time to make it bigger or smaller. Eyeball the length of the handle in the pattern. It’s quite short because I have small hands. If you want it longer, just add length to the top of the long side. Remember to move the top notches up.

Cut out taking particular note of the notches. You need two pairs of sides of each fabric – the outer fabric and the lining. One side is designated the “long” side, and the other side is the “short” side. I think it’s clear which is which :).


Yes, I’m using carpet underlay as my sewing surface as I was camping when I made this bag :)

I have allowed 1cm seam allowance. Make this bigger if you wish when you are tracing your pattern. Or you can cut it out and have a slightly smaller bag if you use a bigger seam allowance. Here is Hélène’s bag, note that she has added extra seam allowance all the way round.


Sew up the two sides – a long side and a short side together, stopping at the notches (note here, do not sew the same pattern pieces together – your bag will not sit properly)


press the seam allowances open (or overlock/serge)

If you are going to add a pocket, now is the time.

You will have the outer layer and the lining. Sew the outer bag together and the inner bag together, remembering to stop at the notches. Press. You will essentially have two complete bags.


Now is the time to check the opening. Is it big enough for your hand? If not, unpick a bit of the side seam. Repeat for the lining.

The outside needs to be turned inside out and the lining put inside so that you have right sides together. Join outside and inside at the handles only. I tend to pin to make sure it all fits. Sew each pair of sides, leaving the tops of the handles open. You will need to pivot at the bottom of each section, which is the trickiest part of the whole bag. This was extremely difficult to photograph.


Turn right side out through one of the handle openings. Give it a good press! A ham is really useful. It will look like this. If you are really keen you can topstitch round the outside, keeping the stitching close to the edges.


If your pivots at the bottom of the handles aren’t sharp, you may finish up with something that looks like this


It will never sit nicely, so unpick a bit, and  put in a couple of tiny hand stitches to hold this bit together. You can, of course, turn it all inside out again to restitch.



Join the outside handles together, right sides together. I pin the lining out of the way so that I don’t accidentally catch it when I’m stitching.


Then fold the lining over the seam and hand stitch it. Final press and you are done!


The inside


The outside


There is no limit on the number of these you can make, and you will get quicker with them as you go along.

For those of you participating in the Facebook Sewalongs and Sewing Contests group, we have two more sponsors to add to the list for prizes for this month’s sewalong – Sewing Patterns by Mrs H and Deby Coles from So Sew Easy is donating two PDFs from her site. Please visit their websites to show your appreciation!

Just a note: If you have landed on this page by some sort of misadventure and want to join in, then the first sewalong post is here.

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