Sudoku Busted!

It was super gratifying to see my grid for the Pattern Review Sudoku Challenge come to life over the last 2 months: from a sticky-tape storyboard with fabric scraps and line drawings, to a cupboard full of winter clothes.   Quite a few plan-changes happened along the way:


This morning I bit the bullet and played (a) stylist (b) model and (c) photographer…and this evening I played (d) graphic designer.

This is what a DIY Onewoman fashion shoot looks like:


Spot the camera set on auto-shoot, the computer on which I ticked off Sudoku combinations as I photographed them and the Moroccan rug which I specifically included on the “staging” to have a “X Marks The Spot” position to which I could quickly rush after pressing the 10-second self-timer.

Great fun was had by all.  The fashion shoot team I only photographed the 10 main Sudoku combinations – across, down and diagonal – but in reality I can get a lot more if I play “Advanced” Sudoku.

*insert nerdy, clever-looking emoticon here*


I just did NOT have the energy to photograph ALL the combinations!  These are the shots I used in my composite picture  for the PR Competition entry… plus 2 random ones where I got messed up  (-;


To conclude:  I am indecently proud of this collection, but the item I probably enjoyed most to sew was this reversible bag out of remnants from the other garments:

reversible 4

I think I now have the reversible bug out of my system!

Fail February: Reversible Recall

Red of Sew Red-y is helping a lot of us to ‘get closure’ on our less successful projects this month, with her Fail February initiative.


I got stuck on the third item for my Sudoku grid, and with stuck I mean properly stranded, taking three weeks to produce an unlined unfitted cape-like jacket with unfinished seams.

Thing is: I made it infinitely more difficult than necessary. I had a charcoal knit in my stash, and decided to make Vogue 9140 from it, but line it to make it reversible.

My previous reversible effort was this:

Two years ago, for my first PR Wardrobe challenge, I made the above uncomfortable   U.U.U.G.G.L.Y!  thing.  Apart from obvious fitting issues, the warped check design created the optical illusion that I was pregnant.

It did not look too bad when I styled it for the composite picture below, but in reality I never wore it even once before giving it away to someone who I don’t think ever wore it either…


But while I looked up the horrible reversible jacket, I realized that most of that wardrobe was actually a  FAIL.  Oh my.  I cringe when I look at some of it.

The brown cowl top, the 90’s  floral dress and drawstring-sleeved tunic were the only things that I liked wearing.  But the wide-legged pants?  Yuk!  The denim flared skirt? Made it too tight so its been worn only twice.  The long red tunic? That style is sooooo dated now! And after this post we shall never mention the 2-in-none jacket again.

So I should have known better than to even TRY making V9140 reversible.  But just to make it worse, I decided the beige check I was planning to use for lining was TOO contrasting, and I went shopping for a lightweight charcoal knit.  I came home with a tracksuit knit even  heavier than my jersey knit. Marked down because of a flaw. Sucker, I am.

Eventually I had to admit (after I had laboriously completed both layers): my over-engineered reversible jacket would too heavy.  Thus the reversible plan went out the window and my daughter scored the jersey  incarnation while I kept the tracksuit-knit one.

When I sew with fabric I do not really like, I tend to procrastinate a lot.  Working in this DEAD grey just did not make me excited about getting back to the sewing machine after any distraction (of which there are many, lately.)   To be honest, if I did not feel compelled to do a Fail February blogpost about it before the month was over, it would STILL not be finished.  Yeah for blog challenges!

When the Daughter first tried on her version, she pulled the hood over her head and went: “I am a Dementor! I am going to suck all the joy and hope out of you!”  Yep. That.


This is not ENTIRELY a “fail”.  It will wearable, like a bathrobe I can wrap around me to lounge around the house listlessly.  Any Dementor spotting me in it, will lose interest and decide his work here has already been done. So. It is actually some kind of secret weapon.

I have now ruined my own well-planned sewing aspirations and left myself with only one month to sew all the remaining nine items I need to populate the grid.

But the disturbing thing is that I still have this nagging compulsion to make a reversible jacket…

Sew Sever-ely Uninspired

After starting the year in a wave of enthusiasm with two kids off to ‘varsity’ and the school run suddenly almost insignificant.  Instead  I unexpectedly find myself a home-school-mom.

The first week-and-a-half has been the stuff nervous breakdowns are made of.  I NEVER considered home-schooling.  I honestly admire women who do it successfully…but I also shudder at some of the results I have seen after disastrous home-school decisions.  And my kids always (correction…MOSTLY, life isn’t perfect after all…) loved school.  Especially Little Son.  An extrovert, he flourishes in the public school situation.

He has however developed Sever’s Disease.  We have been in and out of doctors’ and physiotherapists’ and podiatrist’s rooms since August.  According to all internet sources, the condition is supposed to go away in “two to six weeks”…well, my little man has been on crutches for five months.  We hoped that after the December holiday the rest would have resulted in recovery, but two weeks into the school term, the symptoms were back worse than before.  So, with the consent of his school, I keep him at home so he can rest and recover, and the teachers send us all the work so we can keep up until he has seen a specialist, which will thankfully be on Monday. Hopefully, then we will know how to proceed.

All I can say is: “Home School Moms of the World, I Salute You!


Very little sewing being done.  Not nothing at all, mind you.  I completed two unfinished projects – the Pussy-bow dress and a gorgeous LBD that was a by-product of last year’s epic formalwear dress journey.

The Daughter is head-over-heels swept up in college life, and there has truly been just no time to pose in Mummy’s finally finished projects! I wanted to brag with them in either the PR UFO contest, or ElizabethMadeThis’s Day/Night Dress Challenge  but due to lack of photos I missed the deadline.  As they say in Afrikaans:  “Mostert na die maal!” (Mustard after the meal) but I finally got her to stand still for two pics.  And then realised I will have to shorten the hem of the lining on that LBD.  Pfffffffff…..

But I do dream.  I want to do the PR Sudoku Wardrobe Challenge, so badly!  Maybe on Monday we will get good news, and then I can get back into my sewing room…

Not quite Talitha Getty

Or: “What To Wear When Going To Morocco In Winter.”

I am going to visit Morocco! Casablanca, accompanying my husband on a business trip. Well, I must still get the visa and organize someone to take care of Little Son for a week, but that has not stopped me from launching into immediate wardrobe planning!

Edit 1/23: Not happening this time around.  Little Son has health issues which means I am going to have to home-school him for a while and  I will not be able to take trips without him. But still.  Wardrobe planning is always good for the morale, so I am sewing on!


Research on the internet on sites such as Trip Advisor yielded some guidelines:

  1.  Modesty. It is a Muslim country.  Show some respect and cover your shoulders and legs, and if wearing jeans, wear long tops.
  2. Layers.  The weather is unpredictable.
  3. Do not go over-exotic.  The locals are going to laugh at you.

After browsing the “sensible” sites, I indulged in Pinterest searches like “Moroccan Style”…with mostly not-helpful results:

I mean.  Really. REALLY!

This is EXACTLY what you do NOT want to wear when visiting Morocco, according to people with brains. You are just going to get the sort of attention you do NOT want.

This picture really made me shake my head:


It was only after reading about the chick in the picture that I appreciated the context of it, but before that the sinister-looking figure in the background just creeped me out. (This is apparently an iconic picture by Lord Lichfield, of tragic 60’s style icon Talitha Getty and her billionaire husband Paul Getty II. Now I know.)


I have sewing to do.  These are the inpiration pics for my travel wardrobe:

And these are the fabrics I have so far:


Since I won’t go to Morocco, I will aim this whole exercise at (a) having stuff to wear in winter and (b)  The Pattern Review Sudoku wardrobe challenge!


Swimming under the Rainbow

…and some Jazz Photo Fun.

Before I forget:  Happy 2017 to all concerned!

I have not sewn anything for almost a month! The dress in the last post has been standing unfinished on the dressform since I last blogged.


We’ve had the opportunity to use time-share owned by my husband’s company in the Central Drakensberg, since my oldest kids were babies. I have hundreds of pictures of the view from the veranda, but it never gets tired!

We went to “Our Mountain Home”, and though I seriously contemplated taking Herr Pfaff along, we were already packing – in addition to clothes and food for 8 people for a week –  a heavyweight microscope for stargazing, 4 bicycles, horse-riding helmets (bulky things, those…) and an enormous new electric piano.  Don’t ask.

I concentrated on my neglected camera skills instead.  This is where we spent the first day of 2017.  I believe swimming in a rainbow at the foot of a waterfall, simply MUST be a good start to the year!


My camera is 9 years old and was not expensive, and most cellphones nowdays have better features than my little Canon. But it has served me well and continues to do so!

When we got back, good news waited for the daughter: she was chosen to perform as upcoming artist at a local Jazz Festival in February.  The organizers wanted publicity pictures.

I am afraid we were in a spot, regarding that.

Now for a confession.This is my personal opinion, and I give allowance to people who feel different, but I feel strongly about it:

I have never “pimped” my child as an artist.  I stand appalled at how the “talent industry” works.  The marketing pressure on kids is ridiculous.

Since she has been little, I have always been firm about her being noticed – IF SHE WANTED to be noticed – for her performance, not for her looks or “image”.

She has been noticed.  Very much so.  And she has done it on her own, without mom and dad pumping huge amounts of money into “marketing” her with the help of photo sessions, custom wardrobes and so on.

I am incredibly proud of her.

But…now, we needed pictures.  Quickly.  As in “this afternoon, please!”

No problem.  I have a camera, don’t I?

Let’s just say the photo session was fun *insert HUGE laughter emoticon with tears running down cheeks, here*. It took LOTS of tries, but she edited a few select shots, and The People were quite happy (-;

Behind the scenes vs her edit:


Check out the electrical socket that she magically made to disappear:



Some “sassy jazz lady at the piano” shots:
We duct-taped a curtain over the pics at the back to get a more flattering background.

And I stand ashamed.  I wanted to give the inside of the piano a proper spring cleaning but there was just no time!  So the last edit is mine, to camouflage how dirty my home actually is.

Right…now we have that out of they way, I should go complete my unfinished projects so that she has something to wear for the festival!

Klassy Pussy-bow dress


This morning when I woke up, I decided today  I was going to play, and at the same time get rid of one more stash piece that had been fossillizing too long.

It was 7h30 when I started, pretending that I was in an alteration challenge, had been given a silk scarf and told to create a dress in 90 minutes, with no pattern.  Which would be more-or less the time I had until the daughter would rise and shine.

In the stash was a piece of rayon:  1.5m x 1.5m exactly.  I decided to jot down construction notes in case the daughter or anyone else ever wants to make a dress like this:

Step 1: I cut 2 20cm strips from selvage to selvage, to save for the bow around the neck.

Step 2: Fold the remainder of the fabric with selvages together and divide in 2, with the part that will be used for the back 3cm wider than the front to allow for the  back seam. Divide the back rectangle in 2.

Step 3: I used an upper back bodice piece from a pattern I sewed before as a starting point for cutting the back.  I tapered outward from the underarms to the waist. Then I tapered the sides of thte front piece to match, but did not trim anything off the neckline yet.


Step 4: I serged all the long edges and basted the back seam closed to the top.  Then I draped it on the dressform.

Step 5: Pinning the bow in place, I marked the stitch lines with pins.


Step 6: Then I went back to the cutting table, trimmed the back along the pins and marked the front stitchline with white pencil. There are 2 lines because my pinning was obviously not even, so I marked both sides’ resulting lines and decided to see how it comes together.


Step 7: I sewed the side seams and lower part of the back seam (keeping the basting stitches on the upper back where the zip would be inserted) and basted 2 lines to gather the neckline.  At the back the gathering stitches ended up just serving as stay-stitches. Putting it on the dressform, I gathered the front until it looked right.  Then I sewed the 2 bow pieces over the gathered stitches, along the white the left shoulder where the bow was to be made I left 3 cm unstitched to provide ease for knotting the bow.


It was now past 9h00 and the daughter came to see what I was up to.  She was awake and I had failed the challenge! If I was on the Sewing Bee, at this stage I might have made a desperate attempt to finish the bow, armholes and hem, and wheeled an embarrassed mannequin in for inspection.

Instead, I took a breakfast break, stopped being on the Sewing Bee and found myself back in  “Designin’ December”.

Searching around on Google and Pinterest for “pussy bow floral” I discovered this girl: Myleene Klass, wearing something similar.


She has her own clothing label – called Littlefields – that is one of her own tops she is wearing.  I was fascinated.  You go girl, Myleene!  She can play piano, and act, and present TV shows, and design clothes, and she is a spokeswoman for charities…but from where I am sitting her biggest talent is being really, really pretty…

Anyway. I’ve unwittingly kind-of copied a Myleene Klass original!

I am so classy…

Aaaanyway. The daughter then tried the thing on to see if I needed to make adjustments. (Pic at beginning of post).  I did.  The last few hours have been spent re-doing the shoulders and finishing the armholes with bias strips that did not quite work.  My mojo has left me.


I have now dropped out of the Sewing Bee altogether. We are off to the farm for a long weekend. The dress still has to get a zip, a hem and some hand finishing, but this is it so far.  Will update next week.


Happy sewing, everyone!

Simplicity 7030: Something for the Payer of Fabric Store Invoices



The last few weeks were dominated by two men’s shirts creating a bottleneck in the sewing flow.

The man of the house had been throwing sideways comments about “never getting anything”.  Not quite true, I made him a shirt already this year (two if you consider I made the same shirt twice because I am idiot...) and a zip-down sweatshirt in which he practically lives.

I had 2 pieces of  shirting languishing in the Stash…soooooo I thought I could sommer * do two men’s shirts production-line style: I cut out both and planned a sewing order, starting with completing all the smaller details such as pockets and collars and sleeves before  assembling the shirts.

The thread on the machine would be the same for both, so it would be simple. Right?

Apart from playing around on the diagonal to make details stand out, I stuck to the pattern except at the button-bands where I made a small design change since he likes contrast on the bands of his shirts.  I planned to finish the one with a double row of top-stitching detail all over, and the other with a single row of triple- stitching.

And that dear friends, is where I shot myself in the foot.  The production process kept short-circuiting because I kept doing things like sewing the wrong contrast to the wrong shirt or mixing up the planned top-stitchings.  My mistakes usually involved that bloody triple stitch.  One of my all-time favourite machine features but not something you want to be forced to unpick.

Anyway, the shirts are finally done and the wearer is pleased as pie.


He has worn the short-sleeved shirt  already, so I could tell him to stand still quickly for a photo…but the long-sleeved one will probably hang in the closet until Autumn!

Anyway…at least now my conscience is clear.  There is no shirting fabric left in the stash and I plan to keep it that way!



Afrikaans word of the day: “sommer”.  Pronounced “saw-mehr” but in short, sharp syllables.  It means “just because” or “easy-peasy” or “no problem” or “just like that”.  But really, it does not have a satisfactory translation.  It is one of those unique irreplaceable words of my home language.

All Saintly for December

With a nod and a curtsy to Linda’s Designin’ December challenge:

“The AllSaints Poison Dress is a pure silk wrap dress with a v neck and an all-over print based on a watercolour painting, featuring humming birds in shades of red and blue.

Made from Italian silk, the dress has a heavy drape which flatters the curves of your body. The wrap attaches to the left side of the dress with a hook and eye strip fastening and an elasticated panel, and there is a waterfall frill where the wrap fastens.”

I needed a dress to wear to the Company Year-end Dinner with my husband.


I had a piece of digital print knit – indeed not 100% silk, but “birdy” enough –  and two potential Vogue Patterns: 7964 and 1256.

I ended up using V7964 (adding the flounce from V1256), slashing and spreading and adding some body for more drape.


To do the slashy-spready thing I used this idea from Pinterest.

I would not even dare to try posting a tutorial on my pattern hack.  It was a celebration of brown paper and sticky tape, green/red/black marking pens scribbling and crossing out instructions to myself:


I considered a waistline seam such as the original dress has, but I liked the unbroken flow of the print on my fabric. Making it work in the knit was a little difficult was however  wayyyy more difficult than I thought it would be.

Problem is, the print runs in the same (vertical) direction as the maximum stretch.  I did not notice that when I bought the fabric as a 2.1m clearance sale remnant. Oops.

Check out my pattern layout – after considering pattern placement to avoid things like birds nesting in awkward places –  I really had NO fabric to spare:


The dress-form is sternly  supervising the job, wearing my muslin for the top part of the pattern – I did not have enough of the blue knit to muslin the whole dress but this helped a lot in the planning process.

To compensate for the vertical stretch, I was going to line the dress with woven polyester lining to help keep the shape. (From the stash. Because I wanted to be frugal.) But I relented and BOUGHT *gasp!* stretch mesh lining instead.

Vogue 7964 is actually a mock wrap and one has to wiggle into  it. Non-stretch lining would have stabilized the structure but made the dress impossible to get on unless I added some finicky side-fastenings.  The flounce adds even more weight  which makes the whole dress stretch out longer and longer – I could just imagine myself tripping over the the hem by midnight!


My daughter took these pictures this morning, after a whole evening of wear last night at the dinner – where I had hoped a decently glamorous picture would be taken, but no such luck . The dress kept its shape well and I and felt like a supermodel all evening.

Because I am CHEAP, I must emphasize: the average Allsaints Dress sells for R3500 (in my money).  I made mine for under R350. Spot the missing zero!

Just a little perspective: here is my birdy dress compared to an unlined mock wrap dress I bought in December last year. That one cost R850 from Proudly South African shop Heaven-Lee.  – which is about as designer-labellish as I would ever go. It is a comfortable dress without all the “engineering” I put into my new dress. But it is actually pretty disappointing on me.  Not money well spent .  I could have bought a lot of fabric to stash for that amount, heheheh…

Thanks for the inspiration provided by this challenge, Linda!

Butterick 6325: Arty Crafty Spirit Animal Shirt

For the final version of my Multiple Personality Project (a.k.a. Pattern Review’s One Pattern Many Looks Contest) I tried a colour-blocked shirt.  I am not a great fan of colour blocking, so I considered two not-too-contrasting colours.


To add interest I wanted to applique a few flourishes on one of the front pieces.  Initially I free-handed the design, but then I thought I wanted it to be more “meaningful”. Since fabrics I choose inevitably seem to end up containing flourishes of some sort  (whether paisley or damask or floral, I always end up with “squiggles” somewhere in the design) I wanted to make this a more structured picture…but I did not want to make it TOO picturesque.

Comments should be “Wait…what is that…a horse?” rather than “You have a horse on your shirt!”

Why a horse? Well, I wanted to use something that is true to myself.  I wanted to “stylize” the face of my mare Maxi, who is the closest thing I have to a “spirit animal”.  I wanted Maxi to peek out from the center of my shirt. (Close to my heart.  Yep. Cheezy. I know.)


I must confess to short-cutting the process via Google Images…I was too impatient to cut a stencil of Maxi’s face so I chose something that more-or-less “felt like her.”

I added a few flourishes to the enlarged image and traced it on tho “magicstitch” paper to applique on the left front of my shirt.

Initially I made it quite clear-cut and simple,  but it did not feel “spirity” or “arty” enough so I went a little more crazy and top-stitched over the design – edges deliberately unaligned (in case you wondered).

To balance the top-stitching on the applique I top-stitched everything else that I could:

The collar is single-layer again because I prefer the less structured feel of it on my stripey version to the formal style on the French version. I put some decorative stitching at the back of it just to add interest.  And once again I shortened the sleeves to 3 quarters when cutting, but I must confess to regretting that.  This thing wears nicely as a jacket and longer sleeves would have been more suitable for that purposes.


This  is definitely a heart-made-hand-made garment, and a VERY gratifying make!   I made matching cargo pants in the grey fabric, to wear with it. “Lounge pajamas!”

Butterick 6325: Date Night!


I am really going to have to prove this is created from just the pattern pieces of B6325!


The fabric has a silver metallic thread woven into the stripes, which begged to be paired with an exposed metal zipper.  The one I had was 80cm long – so it had to be shortened.  I started thinking about creative ways to hide the raw end of the zip.  A downward-pointing triangle was the first idea.  But you don’t want something pointing “this way to ground zero”, right?

And then a sewing fairy on my left shoulder started whispering: “It should be more asymmetric…how about moving your zipper and your down-arrow more to the left?”

Another (more conservative) fairy on my right shoulder chirped in: “Remember you may not change the structure of the pattern.  It is in Da Rules!”


By that time I had finished cutting out, so draft changes to the pattern pieces wasn’t an option anyway.

But what if….what if…I just used what I had…?  Not taking away or adding anything (well, except facings but that should count as ‘finishing’, not ‘drafting’) just playing around with the already-cut pattern pieces?

I started pinning and draping the pieces on the dress-form.  At the time I should have taken pictures – which I didn’t – but it went something like this:


The front button closure provides quite a generous allowance for the self-facing:  6.5 cm from edge to center front line.  I decided to use that to the max.

Using the pattern pieces, the facings were cut wide enough to finish the neckline and centre front. It looks nice when zipped all the way to the top, but can also be worn with the collar unzipped:


This is how the facings sit on the inside of the top:

Sewing the exposed zip took careful positioning but was not difficult.  A horizontal flap was the final solution to finish the zipper-end.

The collar was adjusted by discarding the under-collar piece, hemming the pleated upper-collar and rotating it until I was satisfied with its position on the neckline.


After completion I was not happy with the chevrons on the right side.  That pesky sewing fairy on my left shoulder said it made my bum look big…

I had cut the lower right front and lower back pieces (the “flap” peeking out under the main garment) strictly according to the grainline arrows provided.  But I decided to re-do the “flap”, disregarding the grainline and going with how I wanted the stripes to look.

The nice fairy on my right shoulder now says it will not make my bum look big any more.

Now to get ready for Date Night.  Let me slap on some industrial strength hair-gel and check if there is a retro punk-rock band playing anywhere….