Shirt making is something that until recently I’d never been drawn to do. I kind of only thought of shirts as workwear which is something I don’t have a need for (except for one subject at uni last year in which I raided my mother’s wardrobe). However when I saw this super cute leopard print all I could think of was a cropped boxy collared shirt that would be more casual take on a shirt. 

I used the Archer button up shirt, from Grainline Studio, as the starting point for this shirt.  I choose this pattern as I had access to the pattern and as it has a detailed sew along, which was super helpful to me I had never done a collar or button placket and was intimidated by both of these things. The sew along is so incredibly detailed with advice on fabric, interfacing and cutting before the sewing begins and then plenty of photos and videos to help with the actual construction. I’m sure this would be helpful even when constructing a shirt using a different pattern as it’s very reassuring and clear. I didn’t use the instructions and relied entirely on the sew-along. 

I made a few minor changes to the top so it would be more like the one I had imagined in my head. Principally I took out the shaping on the side seams and made it straight down. I also cropped the shirt at the top of the hem curve.  I made the sleeves ¾ eliminating the sleeve placket and substituting for a cuff.  To do the cuff I cut a rectangle folded it horizontally, attached to the end of the sleeve and tacked it up. 

I chose to topstitch down all my seams with a double line creating a faux flat felled seam and a lovely finish inside as the seam allowances stay nicely tucked away. I did this with regular weight white thread so this is very subtle touch. It’s just for me as I can see how much neater my top stitching has become over the years. While I was very proud of them my first few garments included some very, very wonky topstitching that was definitely a ‘handmade tell’ of the not so great kind. 

I used a heavy weight interfacing because it was all I hard  in my sewing supplies. Next time I would use something lighter. The collar sits a little stiff at the neckline and waist tuck.  I’ve worn this shirt a few times now and the interfacing seems to have broken down a little near the tuck and upper collar, so it sits a little bit more how I wanted and is a little softer. 

I used buttons from an old men’s button down shirt (because #recycling and also I didn’t have to go to the store) and I think they fit in nicely with the shirt. They are just plain white so let the print be the most exciting feature of this shirt. I also used the rest of the recycled shirt to make joey pouches for the animals caught in Australia’s bushfire so this meant I was really able to use most parts of the shirt. (Follow along with the Animal Rescue Craft Guild on facebook or instagram for updates! This was a great and very helpful scrap busting project, so I would highly recommend) 

Overall I was very happy with the results of this shirt. I think the one I envisioned in my head was a flat collar (not sure if that’s the technical term?) over one with a collar stand like the Archer however being a new shirt sewist I did not take note of this difference. This is a little further outside my usual wardrobe but it is slowly becoming more worn. I think I’d like to make a flat collared shirt in the future (similar to this one by Heather-Lou).  

I’m very, very happy with how this shirt turned out. This year I’m trying to pick projects that advance my skills with new techniques and elements for me to try. This project fits that category and was a nice first make of 2020. I ended up really enjoying seeing the collar come to life and even ended up enjoying the final step of hand sewing the buttons on. 

Fabric: Little Big Cats cotton shirting from The Fabric Store 

Pattern:  Archer shirt from Grainline Studio


Pants making is something that seemed very difficult to me for a long time. All the topstitching and a button fly made the process seem very daunting but I’m so glad that I finally decided to give it a go! I made my first pair out of a funky cotton print basically as a wearable muslin to check the fit. I was so excited when I found the patterned fabric earlier this year. It’s a nice weight for pants and has such a funky print with a subtle bit of cordroy (ish)  texture on the right side that I really like. 

My second denim pair had some minor alternations that have made them fit perfectly to me.

The Persephone seems like a good pattern for me to start my pants making adventure.  I’ve seen so so many versions of the Persephone pants and they seem to look so good on everyone and all different body types. I also chose them as I’d seen a few reviews stating they were easy to fit due to the absence of a side seam so fitting could be done only by changing the inner leg seam. 

This pattern is a very large PDF file with lots and lots of pages. I printed all of them but then found I actually didn’t need many of the pages. If I was to print it again I’d be careful and look at the file a bit closer to make sure I’m only printing pages I need. I also found the fabric requirement to be very generous. I had about half a meter less than recommended for my patterned pair and still managed to squeeze a pair out. That said, I cut one of smaller sizes and my waistband and pockets were cut on the perpendicular grain so I did compromise a little bit. 

For my patterned pair, I cut and sewed a straight size 8 with no adjustments. This was my first time sewing pants so I’m lucky the fit was alright. My hip measurement sat exactly a size 8 and while I found the fit to be fairly tight for the first few wears both fabrics have nicely softened and stretched so that the fit is perfect now. My waist measurement was a little larger than stated this did turn out ok. The waistband sits firm but doesn’t dig in at all. I did find that the waistband gapes a little at the back point which I easily rectified in my denim pair. 

For my denim pair,  I opted to use a curved waistband. I followed this tutorial by Sew Altered Style which was very helpful. This removed a little bit of the gaping that occurs at the back waistband with a straight wasitband.  I ended up overlapping the pieces about 5cm to form the curve.   My new waistband sits just as I want it and I don’t think I’d want to take any more out of the back as it does cause a subtle visual scoop in the back. I imagine if I took more out this would become more obvious.

Additionally, while the front pockets are a fun detail, I find they are not super comfy when I sit down with something in them as they tend to dig into my legs. I ended up serging these off in my patterned pair as they  weren’t really functional and didn’t always lay flat. I found the pocket sewing to be a little fiddly, not impossible, but I think they look cleaner without them. My denim pair has patch pockets and no front pockets. Anna Allen offers a patch pocket download free on her website that I’d use next time. I drafted my own pockets but think I made them just a little too small as I copied off a lower rise jean that I had. 


I found that overall the Persephone pants were a good pattern for me to start pants making and I felt like I levelled up my skills in the process.  The actual construction wasn’t difficult however the major difficulty for me was the topstitching. I’d never done that much topstitching so I got in some good practice sewing a perfect parallel lines. I’m glad my first pair were with a busy pattern so the wonky stitching is a bit disguised. The second time around I had worked out how to set the right tension and changed my needle which helped tremendously. I also learnt that my machine will be much happier when I thread the bobbin with an all purpose thread instead of the topstitching thread. I did also omit some of the waistband stitching for my denim pair as I wanted them to look very simple and I chose a very contrasting thread colour. 

Once I cut out the pattern this was a straight forward sew that only took me a few week nights, which as a slow/easily distracted sewist is pretty quick for a more involved project. I used the zipper fly extension pack and found the instructions to be very comprehensive and I ended up with a really nice zipper. I fabric covered a button for my pattered  pair and used a jeans button for my denim pair. I think the jeans button is v  cute and also much stronger as it is hammered in. This was my first time using hardware and I’d be keen to play around with rivets in the future to add to the jeans look. 


I wear both these pants very often so think another pair may appear in the near future. I’ve especially found the denim to be so versatile and have made me enjoy wearing ‘jeans’ again. Overall, I think this is such a great pants pattern and I really felt like I learnt some new and exciting sewing skills in the process!

Pattern :  Persephone Pants by Anna Allen Clothing 

Fabric : Clear It Fitzroy  (patterned)           Tessuti Fabrics (denim, link is to similar) 

This Ruby dress from Tessuti was one of the things I made in my pre-holiday sewing spree in July. I was leaving the Melbourne winter for the northern hemisphere summer and wanted a light, easy to wear sundress. This was very nice in the weather in a lovely cotton/linen blend.

I made a few modifications to this pattern to make it more similar to the Tessuti Bondi Dress pattern, which is based off the ruby dress. Tessuti have a detailed blog post here which shows how the original Ruby dress was modified. I didn’t use the horizontal back seam but added a centre front and centre back seam which were then topstitched. I chose the use a fringe hem however instead of fringing the fabric myself used the selvedge of the fabric. I initially cut this just as the hem of the pattern however ended up having the dress too long for my body. I then removed 3 inches from the bottom and re-attatched the selvedge using Tessuti’s technique. This involved sandwiching the selvedge between the body of the dress and a hem facing (it’s all detailed in their blog post with plenty of pictures). This was such a lovely way of finishing the hem with the facing and makes the hem look very neat.

I also used inside binding as opposed the the visible binding suggested in the Ruby pattern.  As I’ve made this dress with the bound neck and arm holes, french seamed the side seams and topstitched the centre front and back seams there is no raw edges to be seen in this dress. It makes it so nice and soft on the inside and has such a clean look.

I’ve only ever made the Tessuti Monroe turtleneck pattern before which as a simple design had minimal instructions. Although the ruby dress is not complex, I found the instructions to be really thorough and used some lovely techniques to achieve such a nice look both for the inside and outside of the garment. Hence I really enjoyed sewing this dress and was very proud of how it looked in the end. It’s simple but with so many small lovely details.

The only minor problem I have with this dress is that it isn’t really bra friendly. The armhole comes in a little too much to conceal a bra strap. Although it is a nice halter-ish cut on the body I would likely chose to extend the arm hole further towards the shoulder for more of a square bodice shape so this wasn’t an issue.

I wore this dress a fair amount while I was away and it’s already gotten a few wears on the rare sunny days we have here.

Pattern – modified Ruby Dress – Tessuti

Fabric – Linen blend from Drapers Fabric   (I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s this)

I’ve had this brown linen left over from my wattlebird top for almost a year now and have struggled with what to do with it. I was very happy when I found an old pattern someone had donated to an op shop. I love a good boxy top that just hangs away from the body in summer, so this was a perfect option for me.

This is a vintage pattern from 1989 is part of a Butterick Esprit collection. The notes on the pattern say that in September 1989 the previous owner made a red and white spotted blazer. It was kind of nice to think about how almost exactly 30 years earlier someone had been using this pattern. Hopefully her blazer was worn and loved as much as my top has been.

This was a very quick sew and took me only an afternoon to make. I didn’t make any alternations to the pattern however when I measured myself for this pattern I sat at a size 12. The pattern I have is only a 6-10 but as this is a very wide boxy style  I chose to just cut the 10 and hope for the best. It still sits very wide and boxy on me so I’d say this pattern runs a little large. I’d even be temped to cut an extra size down if I made it again just to reduce some of the width of the body.

The fabric I used had a lovely selvage that I used to the hem of my wattlebird top. As I usually tuck my shirts in I chose to use this selvage for the sleeve hems this time. I think it adds such a lovely detail to the top (and as a bonus saved me from hemming which is my least favourite sewing task:)).

I’ve worn this a few times with my trusty denim skirt as pictured here but have also found it’s nice with high waisted jeans when it’s a little cooler. As it’s so versatile I imagine I’ll be making a few more of these this summer.

Pattern – Butterick 3453

Fabric – Crinkle Linen from The Fabric Store 

This jersey has been sitting in my fabric stash for a long, long time. My first instinct with any jersey is to make a turtleneck or mock neck top, because during winter thats what I wear 5/7 days of the week when it’s cold. However, I’ve really been trying to diversify my wardrobe and wanted to make some sort of ‘elevated basic’ with this top, something that will work with lots of pants/skirts but with a little more design than my usual turtleneck.

I really loved the twist of the Joni dress (Tilly and the Buttons – Stretch!) below so used this as a base to make my top.

As this is a dress pattern I did make a few modifications. I chose to cut a 3/4 sleeve which I hemmed with a zigzag. I also chose to modify the neckline. The initial pattern has a higher neck but I changed it to a  deeper V neck by modifying the knot pattern pieces. I also lengthen them on the bottom so that the horizontal seam sits further down. When I tuck it and wear high waisted pants this then can’t be seen. It does have a little bit of a tendency to ride up so am considering altering this into a body suit at some stage in the future. This also keeps the knot from bagging around the chest area and keeps it tight. I added the neck binding and hand stitched it to the underside of the garment, instead of following Tilly’s recommended method. This resulted in a little bit of pulling so some careful ironing had to be done, however I do like this now as there is no visible stitch line at the neck. As I’ve been sewing for a while now I do tend to not read instructions as carefully as I once did, often to my own detriment. This happened when I was making the knot and caused a few problems. The instructions are really clear and it was fine once I read them properly but it did take me three tries to get it looking as I wanted.

For most of this shirt I used my overlocker. I did attempt to use my overlocker to do the seams near the knot but found it difficult to get the precision I need. Using a sewing machine and then overlocking the seams where needed is a much better way to do this. Basically, if I read the instructions better, it would have been easy!

Overall I really love how this top worked out. The fabric has such a lovely texture so it’s so soft and comfortable to wear.

Pattern- Joni by Tilly and the Buttons from the book Stretch

Fabric- jersey from The Fabric Store


I’ve been wearing the same pair of tracksuit pants for a few years now. They are very very faded, not nearly as soft as they were, and also a little shrunk from all the washing.  I tried very hard to find exactly the same pair again but every time I went to the store I couldn’t find any. They were just plain grey tracksuits pants but I wanted THE EXACT same pair again. After no luck I decided maybe I’d have to make my own pair. I wasn’t sure if it’d be worth making a pair of tracksuit pants over buying a similar pair. It is a bit of work for something I’ll just wear inside my home but I’m so glad I did as I was able to get them sitting just as I want and added a few nice touches in there as well.

I chose to use the Tilly and the Buttons’ Stella Joggers pattern to make these. I’ve made a few patterns from Tilly’s book Stretch now (see my Freya & Joni). I really really love how simple they are to make but I always learn a few new skills making her patterns.

These pants were a fairly quick sew once I’d cut out all the fabric pieces. I had a little trouble using knit interfacing for the first time and did fuse the drawstring channel together :((  but once I got over that it was very simple. I used my overlocker for most of the seams which gives suuuch a nice finish inside. I found this pattern true to size and didn’t make any alterations.

One nice detail I like about these pants is the ‘piping effect’ I’ve got going on the pockets. I used some jersey scraps I had left over from my Joni top for the pocket bags. This was just so that I didn’t have a huge amount of bulk around the pockets as the body material is quite thick. When I flipped the bag to sew to the pants the thinner jersey had a tendency to wrap around the serged seam creating a faux piping. I kind of liked this so kept this when sewing the pocket bag down to the pants.

I chose to use a pink drawstring as another nice touch. When I started making these pants I thought they would  just end up looking like any pair of grey track suit pants but I really like that I’ve added the darker grey and pink thread to make them look a little more individual.

Although I do love these alot I think I’d do some things differently next time. I potentially would shorten the leg a little bit as I like my tracksuit pants to sit just above the ankle.  I’d also want to secure the drawstring to the elastic at the centre back as the drawstring and elastic do sometimes get twisted. I think this would just allow the waistband to sit better when tied. Fabric wise, I’ve noticed a little rubbing on the fabric so may investigate a different fabric choice next time but overall I am super happy with how these turned out.

These pants have been doing great in keeping me comfy and warm. I basically spent all my evening during winter in these pants, have worn them on flights and sooo many of Melbourne’s cold days and they have been perfect.

Pattern – Tilly and the Buttons Freya Joggers – from the book Stretch!

Fabric and Notions – Main Fabric and Drawstring – Spotlight

Pocket lining – jersey from The Fabric Store

Often when I sew I make a style that isn’t in my current wardrobe so it’s a bit of a guess as to what the final garment will look like on me. However, as I basically live in mock neck tops in winter, I knew exactly how this would sit on me. Hence, I  have gotten a lot of wear out of this Freya top.

This isn’t a difficult pattern to sew, although when the fabric & my serger weren’t getting along, it was a bit challenging.

To make this top I used the Freya Pattern from the book Stretch. The first Tilly and the Buttons book, Love At First Stitch, taught me how to sew; how to finish a seam, insert and zip and make wearable garments. It’s a reference point for me whatever I’m making, so it’s nice to know, that  now have a guide as I adventure into knits.

This fabric is a dead stock sparkle knit from Alannah Hill. It’s a loose-ish knit so was prone to stretching and fraying when sewing which made the neck piece insertion a little tricky. However I did manage to successfully insert my first neckband so this wasn’t a huge problem. Also, as this was such a loose knit the shoulder seam stabilising elastic was crucial to the longevity of the top. I spent a while trying to get this perfect by fiddling with tensions and stitch widths on my machine, but now feel confident with elastic and have used it for a few projects since, again referring back to Tilly’s instructions.

I found this pattern to be true to size. I didn’t make any modifications and chose to cut a 3/4 sleeve.

Fabric- Dead stock Alannah Hill from ClearIt 

Pattern- Freya Top– Tilly and the Buttons

Before this project swimsuit sewing was something that sounded terrifying to me.  However, after seeing so many lovely handmade swimsuits on Instagram I was inspired to make my own. I was lucky that I chose a pattern with very comprehensive written and video instructions that helped me with the construction process.

The swimsuit I chose to make was the Vernazza Two Piece pattern by Friday Pattern Company. This is the second pattern of their’s I’d made after testing the Adrienne Blouse last year. After having read her instructions for the top, which even in the testing stage were  detailed and clear, I felt confident that her style would be helpful to me as a first time swimwear sewist. That however is not to say that I found this an easy project. I have limited experience with stretch sewing, am still relatively new to my serger, have never made any underwear, sewn with lycra, lined anything or inserted elastic. 

I bought this glorious leafy swimwear fabric from Tessuti. I spent a long time finding places in Melbourne that carry swimwear fabrics. I wanted to make sure it would be a good quality so that it would last after I put all the effort in to make it. I’ve only worn this swimsuit a couple of times however so far its survived and retained it’s elasticity. I also bought the foam cups and elastic from Tessuti.

I reversed the order of the instructions and made the bottoms first. They seemed slightly simpler and lower risk to me. In hindsight though, both the bottom and top had challenging elements. I didn’t make any alterations to the bottom’s pattern and chose the high waisted version.  Luckily for me the sizing was true to the final product and they fit well! I had a few practices inserting elastic before trying to insert it into the leg holes however I still ended up redoing this. The first time I did it too tight and on the wrong side of the fabric. The video provided accompanying the instructions was super helpful and after sitting down and watching it carefully the elastic insertion made a lot more sense. 

Before starting the top I did make a toile using a thin jersey with a similar stretch to my swimwear fabric. I figured that this would be the most difficult part of the swim suit to fit. I also made a few alterations to the pattern. I deepened the back scoop and thinned the straps. I also chose to include foam cups between the lining and outer fabric. These are hand stitched to the lining.

I’m really happy with how this swimsuit turned out. It is definitely not perfect, the fabric in some places stretches in strange ways, however the dark colours and busy print do a lot to disguise this. I think it’s mostly me who would notice.

I always love wearing what I make out for the first time and seeing how they work in ‘real life’ ,wearing a swimsuit I made myself was extra exciting. I think it definitely shows a progression in  my skills and is something I didn’t think I’d be able to make wearable on my first attempt.  There was 100% a part of me that was so scared it would fall apart but I was more proud of me that this was something I’d made. However, It’s been perfect so far!

I’m already looking at other patterns, styles and fabrics in prep for making another swimsuit next summer!

Pattern- Vernazza Two Piece– Friday Pattern Company

Fabric & Notions- All from Tessuti

– Main fabric – Lining – Foam cups – Elastic (in a variety of widths)


These shorts are the perfect make to help expand the diversity in my summer wardrobe. I wear a lot of blue shorts ,skirts and dresses in summer so it’s nice to inject some more colour into my clothes and have a change from my usual style.

This is the second Common Stitch pattern I’ve made now and I’ve really enjoyed the simplicity of their designs. Sometimes I find with simple designs that I make them too quickly and then don’t enjoy the process of making and wearing them as much. Neither the wattlebird jumpsuit, which I made as a top here, or these shorts took a long time to make but they are so easy to wear and have a few nice details that make them feel rewarding anyway. I do however wish there were some notches on the patterns for pattern matching purposes and a lengthen/shorten line to make modifications easier.

The shorts are made in this cotton/canvas blend from The Fabric Store. This is much heavier and stiffer than is recommended by the pattern. I was a little worried during the making that this would make the shorts sit funny. It was a little difficult to sew parts of the elastic casing and pockets due to the stiffness, next time I’ll make these in a softer fabric. However, the fabric did soften with a little bit of wear and washing.

I’m a little impressed by myself that I matched the stripes at the crotch seam. I’ve never really tried to pattern match before but realised its not nearly as complicated as I thought, so that maybe something I’ll add into future projects.

Pattern – Bellbird Shorts, Common Stitch Patterns

Fabric – Multi Stripe Cotton Canvas, The Fabric Store

With the arrival of summer this top has very quickly become a favourite in my wardrobe. The linen and loose fit means that it holds almost no heat, making this perfect for hot summer days. 



I made this top by modifying the Wattlebird Jumpsuit by Common Stitch. It’s made in a linen blend (similar to this I think)  my mum bought me from the fabric store earlier in the year. 

To make the top I used the top half of the jumpsuit (the top front and back pieces and the straps). I lengthened the body, both front and back pieces, by about three inches as the jumpsuit body/pant seam sits quite high. I also raised the back by an inch at the top, following the drafted curve, as I wanted mine to sit a little higher than was drafted. 

This fabric has a really lovely decorative selvedge that I figured I could use as both a design element and a way to avoid hemming. Consequently I did have to remove the curve along the lower edge of the patten pieces and level it off to accomodate this. 

Using the given measurements I was between two sizes and picked the larger. Yet due to the loose fit this ended up being too large and I took 4 cm from the side seams on either side. This was a little difficult as I had already sewed down the straps which bind the top edge of the top and added lots of bulk.

Consequently, the top also gaped at the top. In order to make this sit flat I’ve added pleats at the top by folding part of the top back towards the strap on both sides. It’t a little difficult to explain but can be seen in the photo above.

Next time I should be more careful and try it on beforehand!  I would recommend sizing down/grading if you are between sizes. 

The resulting top is similar to the Wattlebird Cami, also by Common Stitch and it likely would have been a lot easier to make with just that pattern. Yet as I only owned the jumpsuit pattern I figured hacking could be possible from the base. As this top was simple to sew up once made it was fun to spend a bit more time working on modifying the pattern so that it was exactly what I wanted. 

This isn’t a fabric I’d buy for myself as it’s not a colour I’d usually wear, yet as always mum was able to find something that is a little outside my style but I’ve so easily made it feel like me. As it was a linen blend it was a little stretchy so I did have to be careful when sewing that I didn’t stretch out and disfigure the seams. Some extra practice using my overlocker should also help with this.

I’ve worn this top so much since I made it a few weeks ago. It’s so light and breezy. I’ve taken photos here with a denim skirt but I’ve also worn this with denim shorts for a more casual (and perfect for the beach) look.

Pattern – Modified Wattlebird Jumpsuit by Common Stitch

Fabric- Linen Blend from The Fabric Store