I’ve been very, very quiet of late. Apologies for that. Nothing is wrong, just many things happening behind the scenes at Heathcote Road. There will be more news to share over the next few weeks and a possible re-vamp  of the site overall.

The changes will be good, really.

For today though, I thought I would share a new pattern. Something whimsical. Not entirely my own… building on the work of the brilliant Kate Atherley, this is my variation on her Whovian shawl, Bigger on the Inside which is available for free here.

I call mine 14 Daleks and the Tardis…

I think you call me sexy. Lace detail.

I think you call me sexy. Lace detail.


There are 7 left facing and 7 right facing Daleks and one Tardis, after all, there is only one, n’est pas?

To make this shawl you ‘ll have to make the Vortex Lace section of Kate’s Bigger on the Inside (with an additional increase and an additional decrease section), then download my charts for the beaded Dalek and Tardis panels. I also made up an alternate lace edge as the finale.

This is a seriously large shawl. Mine took almost 800 metres of fingering weight yarn and almost 700 beads.. wow, didn’t realize there were that many! But it is so worth it. You don’t have to add beads, and you can make as many, or as few, of the panels as you like. Modular, they are.

The yarn I used is  is All Your Base, by Sheepytime Knits in the colourway ‘I think you call me Sexy!’
How could I resist this gorgeous shade of Tardis blue.

You can read more about the pattern details and download the pattern for free on Ravelry, you can find this pattern here.


Dalek and Tardis shawl  in the sunshine.

Dalek and Tardis shawl in the sunshine.

Disappearing 9 Patch quilt. Bunnies, Books, Chickens and Octopodes!

Yes, the plural of Octopus is Octopodes, or Octopuses.

Coral Bunnies quilt, fabric selection. Fat quarters for the top.

Coral Bunnies quilt, fabric selection. Fat quarters for the top.Can you spot the octopus? He’s still hiding…

When I was selecting the fabric to make this quilt at The Workroom, I started with the little white bunnies on the coral pink background.  When choosing coordinating fabrics I focused more on colour values, pattern scale, and overall pleasing combinations. I never even noticed that one of the fabrics had Octopodes cleverly hidden in the pattern. I was thrilled!

They had to be fussy cut, along with the vignettes of the little girls with books, and chickens, and bunnies in wheelbarrows!

Fussy Cut the awesome octopusses!

Fussy Cut the awesome octopodes!

Fussy cut the sweet vignettes!

Fussy cut the sweet vignettes!










I decided on a traditional quilt pattern, the Disappearing 9 Patch.  As much as I enjoy piecing quilt tops, I still want the process to go rather quickly. Shortcuts are appreciated!  For a great video tutorial on how to make the Disappearing 9 Patch squares from the Missouri Star Quilt Company, click here.

Sew the nine patch squares.  Select a balance of lights and darks. Set the colour you want for the small squares in the middle of the 9 patch.

Sew the 9 Patch squares. Select a balance of lights and darks. Set the colour you want for the small squares in the middle of the 9 Patch.

The basic 9 Patch is sewn together first. Make sure that the fabric you want for the small squares is set in the middle. My little squares were either solid yellow, or the dark red ‘jewel’ tonal print.

Laying out the quilt. Do this several times until you get the most pleasing arrangement.

Laying out the quilt. Do this several times until you get the most pleasing arrangement.

Each 9 Patch is then cut into 4 pieces. Arrange these in your preferred sequence and size to make a square or rectangle. It may take a few tries to get the most pleasing format. I try to make sure that no two of the same fabrics are touching.



Making some pinwheels!


coralbunnies.pieced top.eWith the extra fabric I had left from the 9 Patches I made a bunch of pinwheels and placed some of these at the top and bottom ends of the quilt front along with some random plain squares cut to be the same width as the pinwheels. A narrow sashing was applied to the sides and bottom of the centre quilt panel and along the top and bottom edge. This provides a nice frame and will make application of the binding easier.

Piece the back as well. This is a good way to extend your backing fabric and to use up every last bit of your top fabrics.

Piece the back as well. This is a good way to extend your backing fabric and to use up every last bit of your top fabrics.

A few pinwheels and some more solid cuts (both squares and rectangles) were incorporated into the back of the quilt. This makes for an interesting reverse and also makes good use of all the fashion fabric, and stretches your backing fabric too. However, a pieced back make the quilting a bit trickier.

Free motion quilting, I like how this looks like the girl is telling a story either to or about the octopus!

Free motion quilting, I like how this looks like the girl is telling a story either to or about the octopus!

My free motion quilting continues to improve with each quilt. New techniques and just getting ever more familiar with my Juki HZL F-600- best sewing machine!

Free motion quilting. Random shapes and hearts.

Free motion quilting hearts and foliage. Perhaps the girl is reading the story to the wee rabbit in the wheelbarrow..a tale of love and adventure?

I like random patterns best, it seems. In the section above, I like to imagine that the little girl is reading the story in her book to the little rabbit in the wheelbarrow…Perhaps you can see that I used variegated thread for the machine quilting. Valdini in  the colourway ‘Peaches’.

Some sections were left with minimal quilting, or strong geometric shapes.

Some sections were left with minimal quilting, or strong geometric shapes.

Some of the fussy cut squares were simply outline stitched.

Don't forget to sign and date your quilt!

Don’t forget to sign and date your quilt!

One should sign and date the quilt.. here a bit of silk embroidery floss was used to work my initials, the date, and some floral flourishes. This is, of course, done by hand.

Finished quilt. I like a 2.5 inch binding which I always hand stitch.

Finished quilt. I like a 2.5 inch binding which I like to hand stitch.

The finished quilt has so much going on in it. Every panel has a different stitch motif, hearts, clovers, feathers, leaves, flowers, spirals, and random happy swirls.

I feel a bit badly that  I am not hand quilting these pieces, but time and hand strength (or lack thereof) does not allow for it. I could use polyester batting instead of the natural and dense pure cotton batting but really, I just can’t bring myself to use it. Luckily,  machine quilting has become acceptable as an art form and skilled technique in itself. The one hand sewn bit on the quilts is the binding. This gives the best finish possible and makes for neat mitred corners.

The finished quilt, gifted to my god-daughter in anticipation of the birth of her first child.

The finished quilt, gifted to my god-daughter in anticipation of the birth of her first child.


Will you try making a Disappearing 9 Patch quilt yourself? I would make it again; it’s  straightforward and harmonious. It is also especially well suited to larger prints that you may want to feature in the bigger squares.

Wishing you a joyful and creative day,


Olive + S pattern review. Sketchbook, Shirt for little boys

This is my second Oliver + S Company sewing pattern, the Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts.

I do like multi-use patterns. Those which form the basic building blocks that can be easily altered to a wider variety of styles. This is one such pattern. The pattern offers a couple of sleeve and collar options for the shirts. While a trouser option is not included in the pattern, it would be dead simple to turn the shorts into pants. Sketchbook’s tailored shirt and fly front shorts are clearly meant to suit little boys, but selecting a delicate fabric and making a few simple alterations could easily turn this into a feminine blouse and skort set.

I decided, however, to start with the tailored, long sleeve shirt as presented in the pattern, View A, in size 12-18 months.

 Oliver + S Sketchbook pattern, fabric and thread selection.

Oliver + S Sketchbook pattern, fabric and thread selection.

For fabric, I chose Woodland Adventure Style #2140101 from Camelot Cottons in the brown colourway. I wanted some fun contrasting colour for the collar and the cuff plackets; the cornflower blue by Kona cotton solid brought out the blue of the elephants in the print. Mettler cotton thread in pale blue. Lightweight fusible interfacing and a few buttons are also needed to make this shirt.

Sketchbook pattern, back of envelope. Sizes 6 months  to 4 years.

Sketchbook pattern, back of envelope. Sizes 6 months to 4 years.

I was a bit apprehensive of another Oliver +S pattern after my experience with the Fairytale dress pattern that I made previously. The directions there were lacking. This one, however, was a pleasant surprise. It was well laid out, all the steps were explained well and had sufficient photographs to support the instructions.

Interior back yoke detail.

Interior back yoke detail.

The details of the construction are pleasing. Like the lined back yoke on this little man’s shirt, and the properly solid button and buttonhole band plackets.

Collar detail and pocket.

Collar detail and pocket.

The tailored collar and pocket are nice details. I added the contrast stripe to the pocket.

Back pleat and contrast  undercollar.

Back pleat and contrast undercollar.

I made an inverted rather than a box pleat on the back, visually incorrect, but the fit will remain the same. Note the contrast colour on the underside of the collar, this is a good way to stretch your main fabric if you find yourself a bit short.

Cuff detail with contrast placket.

Cuff detail with contrast placket.

I really like the way the cuff plackets turned out. Here the contrast fabric is well placed.

Decorative patches to the rescue.

Decorative patches to the rescue.

I haven’t made buttonholes for garments in quite a long time and this is the first time using one of the 15 automatic buttonhole options on my Juki HZL F-600!  They’re not perfect. Did you notice that I forgot to switch back to the pale blue thread? I used the dark brown for my tester buttonholes…ah well….still a pretty cute shirt!

The back of the patches.

The back of the patches.

And then..I had a bit of an accident with the stitch ripper… when cutting one of the buttonholes open, I forgot to set a pin across the end of the stitching to serve as a stop for the blade.. and went right through the end of the buttonhole and into the body of the shirt. Yikes.  It is disheartening to have such a silly accident right at the finishing of a garment. The choice at that point was to either a. chuck the whole thing, or b. rig up a rescue. Rescue it was.  First I did a little zig-zag darning to close the tear in the body of the shirt. Then a decorative patch to cover up the darning.

The finished Sketchbook shirt.

The finished Sketchbook shirt.

To balance the shirt and make the embroidered patch look a bit more deliberate, I added another patch on the right front of the shirt. I think the shirt actually looks better with the patches. More rustic and a bit more fun!

The finished shirt was pressed, wrapped, and gifted to a darling little boy for his first birthday.

Would I make this shirt again? Most definitely.

Wishing you a beautiful day,


brown paper gift wrap with fabric swatch

Gifted in an eco-friendly (and cool) brown paper bag with a fabric swatch decoration. Cute!

So much better than wrapping paper… reversible flannel blanket

I really try not to use wrapping paper whenever possible. I know that most of it can be recycled, but the cost of it these days is just silly.

For almost the same cost as a gift bag and tissue, I whipped up this adorable, and useful, flannelette baby blanket.

Receiving blanket, 44 inches, 111 cm square.

Receiving blanket, 44 inches, 111 cm square.

There are a few video tutorials out there, but the one I like best is this one from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

Mitred corner detail.

Mitred corner detail.


What you need to make this blanket:

1 metre of  your main fabric (centre block) and 1.25 metres of your contrast  fabric (back and self binding). My main fabric is the cute elephant print and the contrast is the purple polka dot fabric.

You also need coordinating thread.

I highly recommend pre-washing your fabric before cutting. This will allow you to find the true grain of the fabric which means your finished blanket will be a proper square and not morph into some odd and unpleasant shape. Pre-washing also minimizes any further shrinkage, removes any sizing which may have been applied to the fabric during the manufacturing process, and removes excess dye which could bleed unpleasantly at the first wash. Pre-washing is good.

Playful floral elephants and polka dots!  Fancy stitching detail.

Playful floral elephants and polka dots! Fancy stitching detail.

The last step of the blanket construction is sewing the two layers together along the seam line.  You can do this with a decorative stitch like I have done  here.

If you don’t have a selection of fancy stitches on your sewing machine, simply stitching in the ditch or top-stitching will hold the two sides together – which is what is really important here.

A quick steam press to set everything nicely and the blanket is done.

While I chose cotton flannelette for this baby blanket, this pattern would work equally well with smooth cotton fabric for a summer baby. The pattern would also make a fantastic little tablecloth. The mood and use can be altered easily depending on the choice of fabric texture, colour, and print you use. Have you tried this one yet?

I used it to wrap a baby shower gift for my God-daughter. So much better than a gift bag, I think.



Linen Wickelhose, Asian style wrap pants, Burda

We all have signature pieces, styles of clothing that we enjoy wearing. Either they suit our figures, our moods or are reflective of cultural belonging, or longing.

Much of my life is informed by Asian styles and sensibilities. Maybe it’s the ancestral heritage peeking through. When I was touring through South East Asia, a few years ago now, I picked up some fabulous outfits. Some I had custom made for me in Viet Nam, others I found at local markets in Laos and Thailand. I still have my blue silk wrap skirt. Another piece that saw a lot of wear were my wrap pants.

Wasn’t I pleased to see a pattern for this very style in a Burda magazine when I was in Germany sometime after my Wickelhose had been retired! Here is the page the pattern is featured on:

Wikelhose, wrap pants my Burda magazine, auf Deutsch!

Wikelhose, wrap pants my Burda magazine, auf Deutsch!

It’s a bit tricky to discern the actual pattern between the print of the fabric and all the other images on the pages. That is why I always appreciate the line drawings on the ‘Alle modelle auf Einen Blick’ page. All styles at a glance, basically. This allows you to see the structure of the garment including seams, darts, pockets etc.

The pattern Key, line drawings let you see exactly what the garment looks like.

The pattern Key, line drawings let you see exactly what the garment looks like.

This was more of a formula with maths than an actual pattern. The instructions were clear and the huge sheet of tissue dressmakers graph paper was the perfect way to mark out the pattern.

Always keep good notes on your pattern pieces. Here I have written what the pattern is for, the size I cut, the model number and which issue of Burda the pattern is from. Makes it easier for quick referencing. Other useful details are the names of the pattern piece, grain lines, whether seam allowances are included or to be added,  and how many pieces to cut and from which fabric – in case there are linings and interfacings involved.

Tracing paper by Burda for drafting your pattern.

Tracing paper by Burda for drafting your pattern.

I made my wrap pants in some cool and classic pure European linen in a soft sage-grey.

Pure linen fabric and some of my favourite tools.

Pure linen fabric and some of my favourite tools.  Burda magazine issue 7/2005, the theme is Holiday Fashion.

The thread I used is is a variegated long staple pure cotton. Valdani is the brand, the colour is Muddy Monet, it is made in Romania.  The subtle colour shifts in the thread show up the decorative stitching along the sides and on the ties quite nicely. This is one of my go-to stitches on my Juki, it reminds me of little bird tracks!

Detail of the fancy stitching along the sides of the pant legs. The variegated thread is a nice touch.

Detail of the fancy stitching along the sides of the pant legs. The variegated thread is a nice touch.

The construction was really simple so a short while later, here is the result:


I would normally wear these with a loose white shirt or tunic, but the tucked in Tee allows one to see the wrap of the waistband.

You tie the straps on the front piece in the back using a simple overhand knot, not a bow – that would be too bulky, then bring ties on the back piece to the front and tie in a bow. If you’re wearing these with a shirt or tunic over top of the waistband, rather than tucked in, a simple knot is better, as it lays flatter.

Finished! Front view.

Finished! Front view… and I had shoes to match, a fabulous pair of Naot’s!

Yes, the linen wrinkles, but that’s what let’s you know that it is real linen. A natural, breathable and beautiful fibre.

wikelhose.rightThis style is fitted at the waist and gradually expands to the wide legs, giving a slimming effect.. all modest and covered up, until you take a step..

wikelhose.leftOne does have to be a bit cautious in the wind, but really, nothing will show, but a bit of leg.

Back view. I would normally wear these with a loose white shirt, but the tucked in T allows one to see the wrap of the waistband.

I am glad to have a pair of wrap pants again, and may make another pair, but not just now. Many other projects are in the queue!

Wishing you a beautiful, and creative day,


Sleeveless top, pattern and tutorials by Angela Kane

In looking to refresh my sewing skills, I went in search of the tips and tricks I knew existed but couldn’t quite recall all the details thereof…like lining a simple shift dress or sleeveless top quickly and easily. I came across Angela Kane and her fabulous video tutorials. You can find her site here.

The finished top, a perfect colour and style match for my very bright orange creamsicle jeans.

The finished top, a perfect colour and style match for my very bright orange creamsicle jeans.

Ms. Kane offers a couple of free patterns to try out – one for a sleeveless summer top in sizes small, medium, and large,  and the other for a pinafore style dress. This is a great way to see if you like the way the patterns are drafted and how the video tutorials are structured.  I signed up for the free trial  and decided to start with the top. I had 1.25 metres of ‘Indian Summer’ by Art Gallery Fabrics  that I picked up earlier in the year from The Workroom. This nice crisp cotton with its blue geometric print was the perfect choice for this style. For the button, I decided to use one of the several orange ceramic buttons I made to match this fabric.

The sewing patterns are available as pdf downloads. One size per pdf which makes things nice and clear (unlike the wild and scrambled multi-pattern sheets from Burda magazines, which I love!). The pattern printed off on letter size paper easily. I set mine to draft quality and black and white to save on ink.  There is an option for A4 paper too.  Helpful hints for printer settings are provided which meant the tester page printed out perfectly. You mustn’t skip this step, or your whole pattern could end up completely the wrong size.

This is what the pattern looks like when printed, stuck together and cut with paper (not fabric!) scissors:

ak.sleevelesstop.patternIt is important to note that Ms.Kane’s pattern are ‘net’ patterns. Proper couture patterns like these, and those from Burda magazine, do not have the seam allowances included within the pattern lines –  you add the desired seam allowance (usually between  3/8 and  5/8 inches)  when you cut your fabric.

When I prepared my paper pattern, I added 1.5 inches of length at the waistline as per usual for my long waist. I also wanted more of a tunic style top so I added 4.5 inches to the length of the garment. So glad I did this, as you shall see later.

ak.bluetop.facingdetailWhile this is a relatively simple style, there are so many thoughtful technical details that make this a solid little pattern. For example: the facings that are just a bit narrower than the fashion fabric pieces to ensure that the facings don’t show. Not a big issue when self facing, like on my sample, but if the facings were to be made of a contrast fabric, or lining material, then this is an especially nice feature.


Front with earthenware button, that I made, feature on the front pleat (my addition, not part of the original pattern).

The hand stitched loop buttonhole is a classic couture feature. I didn’t have any buttonhole thread on hand, so used some hand quilting cotton thread instead. Worked beautifully.


Back of the sleeveless top. Note the hand crafted button loop closure. Hand quilting thread made a good substitute for the recommended buttonhole thread. The additional buttons and shoulder pleats were my addition to get a better fit.

My top is a bit different from the original at the hem. Remember I added those extra few inches at the bottom?  Instead of adding interfacing for stability to the hemline, I opted for side vents and a deeper hem.  I also machine stitched the hem instead of hand sewing it. The top-stitching followed up the side vent to the side seam then back down creating a pleasing visual.


Hem detail. I skipped the interfacing at the hemline and double turned the hem instead. I also machine stitched the hem following up (and down) the side vents instead of hand hemming the piece. This is a pretty casual garment and the cotton looks fine with this hem treatment.

The top went together very quickly and easily, but there was one catch. With the fit. I didn’t bother to make a muslin this time. I should have. Bad seamstress.

While I went into this with the full knowledge that this style is really not the most flattering for my body type (an hourglass does not go well with big shapeless tops), I realized part way through the sewing that this was going to be really big.. and it wasn’t just because I tend to think of myself as bigger than I actually am. I tried it on once the shoulders were joined and it was clearly huge. I compensated with really wide seams on the sides taking in as much as I could in the only place that I could without taking the whole thing apart. I pressed on.

When it was finished, the fit was more or less what one expects with this style of top. The bust area fit well and the armhole openings were good, my wide side seams did their trick…. but the neck gaped to a ridiculous level. This may not have been as noticeable with a drapey fabric, but the crisp cool cotton, even though pre-washed, was not sitting well at all. Nothing to do for it but be creative!  I formed a single wide (read stylish) pleat at the front and two small pleats on the back. These were bar-tacked in place to secure them. The additional buttons, front and back, are purely cosmetic. Thank goodness I had made lots of these orange earthenware buttons, they came in handy!


Finished top, front view. I made the white earthenware buttons too! they are a perfect match for this top.

I wore my top right after I finished making it, with my crazy bright creamsicle orange jeans. What would possess me to buy such a colour? In this case… well, price. They cost me all of $7.00! After a long dreary winter and a rather grey spring, I am quite alright with a bit of bright just now. The top was cool and comfortable on a hot and humid summer day.

But back to the review of the pattern.. I could best sum it up this way: Angela Kane’s tutorial videos are fabulous, the pattern is well drafted, but the fit and sizing of the garment is a bit off. Maybe it’s just this pattern. It was, however, a pleasure to make.

The video tutorials are clear.  Every detail is explained and illustrated. I only wish there were a written summary of the steps in print form available. This would be helpful.

Maybe I just missed it, but I don’t recall a detail summary of the materials needed.  What materials  required were listed – fabric, interfacing, thread and a button, but not the actual amount of fabric.

The pattern itself is well drafted and attention to detail and a real effort towards clarity is made. Fab.

The only reservation I have in making another one of her patterns is the sizing. The Medium should have fit me perfectly according to the size chart, but it didn’t. Besides the neckline being really wide, the other issue with fit was the length. Had I not added the extra length (6.0 in. in total) for the waist and hem areas, this would have been a seriously short top; not suitable for wearing with the low-rise jeans so popular right now.

All in all, I like this top. It was nice and cool  on a hot and humid day in the city. I may make another one, but will make the necessary adjustments to the pattern for a better fit without having to add post construction pleats. This was a good reminder to always make a muslin first, even for the simplest of garments.

If you’re looking for excellent video tutorials for garment construction and couture techniques, Angela Kane is well worth a look whether you’re new to sewing clothing or looking to brush up on your techniques.

Will I make another one of Angela Kane’s patterns? Yes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a beautiful day,




A welcome bit of greenery to soften the cityscape.

I miss having a garden. Alot. The semi-nomadic lifestyle that has been my life these last few years has some very good things about it, but the never being quite sure how long one will stay in any given place means that some things are just not going to happen. Like gardens. They take time. And setting up a patio garden in an apartment also means carting everything, including bags of soil, home from the shops. Ugh.

But the dreariness of the concrete cityscape that is Toronto has gotten to me. Even though there is a small park in view from our balcony, I need (and want) more green, and pink, and purple…

There are now several planters on the balcony, and a few more are slated for completion in the next couple of days!

planters on the balcony

I find that plants provide an immediate sense of relaxation and calm.


The Blue Lake pole beans are popping up nicely; they’ll be needing bamboo canes to climb up on soon enough!


As will my two burly Beefsteak tomato plants! Flowering already, I can hardly wait for the giant fruits to appear!



Not hyacinths, but Geraniums and Petunias for the soul.  Some people look at me askance when I tell them that I choose my petunias based not on their colour, but on their fragrance.  You can have your fancy new hybrid, scentless Wave petunias if you want, but I’ll take the old-fashioned sweetly scented varieties any day of the year.  These purple ones are heady!


sweetpea.firstshootsSlower starting, but coming along nicely are the Spencer Giant Sweet Peas  (the scented flowers, not edible peas!).

Also on the balcony are Hot Hungarian Peppers, Sweet Million cherry tomatoes, butternut squash and a small selection of herbs.

With all the climbing varieties I have planted, perhaps some netting would be better than canes?

Wishing you a beautiful day,


Rice and noodle bowls in speckled stoneware

I adore rice, and noodles, and I believe food tastes better when served in proper dishes.

Visually more appealing, to be sure, but the dishes and utensils used to serve and to consume our food should also enhance the tactile pleasure of the overall dining experience.

Here now are some of my recent stoneware bowls. CCSS Speckled stoneware, wheel thrown, hand carved.

This first little rice bowl  holds a sampling of uncooked mixed grains and rice including sprouted brown rice. It is delicious and toothy, especially nice in soups!

ccss.ricebowl.with riceBelow are three sets of bowls. Each pair is of the ‘same-same, but different’ school.

Bowls are similar in size, shape, and colour, but each is a unique.

Set 1. Shades of waxwing and variegated greens and blues. Each of this set features a tiny scorpion impression near the base.

ricebowls.stackedricebowl.2.detailSet 2. Noodle bowls (larger than the rice bowls). Shades of grey on the interior and warm tones of red and ivory on the exterior.



noodlebowls.2.sps.1 Set 3. Rice bowls with double carved feet.

ricebowls.2.sps.1ricebowls.2.sps.interiorsKindest regards,


Fairytale Dress by Oliver + S, Foxes and friends

After some consideration, I decided to try the Oliver + S sewing patterns. The patterns have a very pleasing, vintage look to them and clever presentation with a paper dolly and dress up clothes on the packaging. The reviews were almost unanimous in their high praise for this line. I don’t mind paying a higher price for a product that is good, but thought I would ‘test drive’ a couple of the patterns before investing in a full wardrobe building set.

My choices were:  ‘Fairytale’, a pretty and feminine party dress, and ‘Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts’ which is meant for boys, but the shirt and shorts could easily be modified for girls.

I decided to start with the dress, 18 month size.

Oliver + S Fairytale pattern. Completed dress and pattern envelope.

Oliver + S Fairytale pattern. Completed dress and pattern envelope.

I was smitten with the leaping foxes print, and all the other forest creatures on Les Amis de la Forêt fabric…. but there were only fat quarters left when I came upon this collection at The Workroom. This meant that I would have to make some modifications to the original pattern:  a tiered skirt and selective placement of the dark and light colours in the balance of the dress.

The pattern and 5 fat quarters to make the tulip sleeved party dress.

The pattern and 5 fat quarters to make the tulip sleeved party dress.

I added a gathered and pieced section to the last tier to stretch the fat quarters even further and to balance the colour placement.  I also pleated, rather than gathered, the skirt at the waistband. It just seemed to fit better. The skirt was not  overly full and the scant ruffles just looked awkward. Pleats looked more deliberate. The directions for applying the contrast waistband was a bit suspect so I improvised.

Skirt pleated instead of gathered.

Skirt pleated instead of gathered.

The tulip sleeves were easy enough.

Tulip sleeves.

Tulip sleeves. I like the little birds peeking out from the flowered sleeves, one of the perks of using several fabrics!

Instead of hand sewing the hem of the dress and the lining, I opted to use a decorative stitch; my Juki has so many of them, that it would be silly of me not to take advantage of them!

Fully lined. Embroidery detail on dress and on  fashion fabric and on lining.

Fully lined. Embroidery detail on dress and on fashion fabric and on lining.

I used up almost all of my fabric, about 4.5 fat quarters, a very small amount of interfacing (just for the collar), about a metre of silky lining, and a couple of metres of ribbon for a pretty bow at the waist.

For the most part, I found the instructions to be lacking and/or unclear. Especially in terms of adding a full lining to the dress. I am a fairly accomplished seamstress, having sewn pretty much everything from diaper bags to evening dresses, and thank goodness for that! I was able to sort my way through the murky regions of the pattern but cannot imagine how a novice sewer would get through this project.

I also found it odd that the seam allowances were set at 1/2 inch  instead of the customary 5/8 inches for commercial patterns. There are standards…quilts are sewn at 1/4 inch, North American garments at 5/8 in.  When using European patterns like Burda, you can set your own preferred seam allowance when you trace your pattern pieces. Not a deal breaker, just a bit annoying.

The fit is also a bit suspect. When cutting the fabric, I thought the waist was a bit too long, but decided to just make the pattern as drafted. This waistline of this dress is meant to sit at the child’s natural waist, although most 18 month old girls don’t have much of a defined waist. A better fit for the smaller size range in this pattern would be an empire waist, this would allow for a more natural fit for the baby’s tummy and the wearing of very necessary nappies! Next time I would shorten the bodice.

Then there’s the sizing itself. If the child is on the smaller to slim side of the standard growth charts, then this pattern will fit true to size, i.e. making the 12-18 month size for a 12 month old should be fine. However, if the intended  child is off the growth charts, then it would be best to shorten the bodice and go up a size or two so that the dress will fit for more than a week, if at all!

In summary, I am happy with how this dress turned out, it is quite cute and it fit! In technical terms, Fairytale is  this is one of the more complex patterns put out by Oliver + S so it proved to be a good test pattern. I will probably make this again in a bigger size and with several modifications.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this line has had such favourable reviews, maybe it’s the cute paper dollies?  I am not won over. For the premium pricing of these patterns, I expected more. Much more.

Let’s hope that the Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts is better.


Kindest regards,


Birdie Sling goes Goth

The perfect bag is hard to find. There are several in our house, just bags that is, not perfect ones! Many have been purchased to carry groceries so as to minimize the atrocious levels of plastic used in our world. Some have been ‘gifts’ with purchases made. Each of them seems fit to only a particular use. In my search for a great carry bag I came across the Birdie Sling by Amy Butler.                         It looked like it would meet all of the criterion set out by Yours Truly.

Birdie Sling, bag designed by Amy Butler. Completed in Poe inspired cotton fabric.

Birdie Sling, bag designed by Amy Butler. Completed in Poe inspired cotton fabric.

I like a bag large enough to pop my handbag inside. I do this when I go out, that way if I need a shopping bag for unplanned purchases, or to hold my gloves, scarf, cardigan or other superfluous item it is at hand. Doing this also keeps my good purse protected on the crowded city streets and while on public transportation.  And then there is the knitting. I really do bring it pretty much everywhere so a good bag needs to accommodate sticks and string.

This bag is big, and has a wide padded handle to make the carrying more comfortable. The Goth in me couldn’t resist the Nevermore fabric inspired by The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Wide padded handle.

Wide padded handle in a small floral, compliments the sculls, bats and other darker images nicely.

I had a bit of trouble getting some of the materials listed for making this bag. Fusible woven interfacing was easy enough, but the fusible fleece… not so much. What I ended up using was HeatnBond Lite, a double sided iron on adhesive. This was used to secure some cotton quilt batting to the lining pieces, a do-it-yourself kind of fusible fleece, if you will.

Even though the adhesive was not supposed to wrinkle or pucker, it did. A bit. Enough to bother me, even though no one would really see it. I ended up free motion quilting the batting to the lining fabric in the end. This also allowed me to have a bit of fun with swirls and hearts and even my initials!

A bit of subtle personalization, initials worked into the free motion quilting.

A bit of subtle personalization, initials worked into the free motion quilting along with hearts and random loops and swirls!

There are two pockets, one is really large, but it is just right for my tablet. The other is smaller and I divided it into sections custom fitted for my Blackberry, my travel chop-sticks set, and a pen or spoon.

Linings prepared with pockets and free motion quilting to secure the batting.

Linings prepared with pockets and free motion quilting to secure the batting.


This panel features a very large pocket, perfect for my tablet.

This panel features a very large pocket, perfect for my tablet.

There are no closures on this bag. This may be a good thing, and maybe not. I’ll wait and see how it goes. I can still add a magnetic or tie closure at this point.

View into the interior. Alternating the nevermore fabric, Kona cotton solid, and a feminine retro-chic floral.

View into the interior. Alternating the nevermore fabric, Kona cotton solid, and a feminine retro-chic floral.

If I make this again, I would change a few things and add a few things.

For a fully padded version, as this one, next time I would just pin the lining and cotton batting together before quilting and not bother with the HeatnBond.

Actually, I’m not sure that I would use the batting again, except for the handle where it is useful, but even there, it could be limited to the shoulder section only. This is a big bag and it is heavy enough without adding the extra layer. I would still use the regular iron on interfacing to add body to the lining.

Another option would be to use heavier weight cotton or a linen/cotton blend for the exterior and regular quilting cotton for the lining. This should provide enough heft.

The other thing I would add is a key ring tab. I had one prepared but didn’t have a clip or clasp at hand and just wanted to get this project finished. I can add it later if I really want one.

nevermore.sidepanelOverall, I am pleased with how this turned out. The instructions were clear enough. I think the fabric estimates are a bit generous, and like I said, some of the materials may be hard to find, but perhaps you can follow my lead and do a little impromptu quilting instead.

Have you made a Birdie Sling? How did yours turn out?

Kindest regards,