Springfield Top – Mosaic Print

When I started my sewing frenzy in August / September the first item I made was this top as I had it cut and ready to go. I don’t wear woven tops so this was stepping out of my comfort zone. The fabric I used was a cotton I found at my small local fabric shop. I fell in love with this fabric straight away and thought it was perfect to play around with this top pattern for the first time.

I made a combination of View A and View B of the pattern. View A has a bottom band piece at the front and a plain back. View B has a plain front and pieced back. I made plain back and plain front. I was wanting to make it as simple as possible and let the fabric be the star.

I have a couple of fitting issues with this top. As mentioned in the Concord post I have the rounded shoulder issue. There is a lot of gapping at the back of this top. I started to make a draft version of this top at the Cashmerette retreat and due to me having a hollow chest we adjusted the pattern to take out some of the front neckline but we never did anything to the back. I dare say my rounded shoulders have gotten worse since the start of this year. I haven’t yet done the research on how to make the adjustment to correct patterns for it but it is something that when I get time I am going to learn. As you will see from the next photo there is a lot of fabric at the back!

This photo makes me laugh cause it looks so wrong. I can laugh at myself its ok. It looks like I am wearing one of those shoulder guards motor cyclists wear! Clearly too much excess fabric there. Stitching wise I stuffed up my darts. I’ve made them too pointy. Due to this print I can probably get away with it but next time I finish my darts I need to do them better, I think the trick is that you stitch back into the excess fabric you have just folded out.

The shape of the neckline I am happy with, it isn’t too wide although it doesn’t easily sit on any of my coat hangers when I hang it up. It isn’t too low cut either. I tried not stretch out the neckline when I stitched it but maybe I have a bit. I haven’t worn this yet so I will see how it sits when I do

This top has its faults (purely mine not the pattern) but it is still a wearable top. Once again I will wear a jacket or buttoned shirt over it and it will hide the mountain of fabric I have at the back and flatten my darts. As mentioned I haven’t worn it yet, I’m not sure why I think it cause I’m am so used to grabbing a knit t-shirt when I’m planning out my wardrobe and I forget that I now have this. I will try and remember to wear it over summer. Under my work jumper it will be nice due to it being sleeveless.

Back to my things to consider when making patterns

  • Comfort
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky
  • Natural Fibres

It is ticking all the points. I have used a cotton fabric in a classic style. Even though it is a woven top it is comfortable, I can move my arms easily and I don’t feel restricted. The print is certainly quirky. I will make this again. I have brought some lovely liberty fabric to make this top in but before I use that I might try another version first after I learn the rounded shoulder adjustment and learn how to do darts properly.


Concord – Attempt 1

Last month I blogged about my current “To Sew” list. I’m happy to now say I actually have gotten a lot of them done recently. After not going near my sewing machine in months August / September have been very big sewing months for me. I don’t envisage a lot of sewing time in October so I think I was trying to get as much done whilst I could. When you have to the “Sewjo” why fight it.

One of the first items I made from the list was my Concord by Cashmerette. Now I will be honest I had my hopes set that this would be my dream top to replace all my “dress” t-shirts. I call them my “dress” t-shirts cause for me I would wear them to work or out when I was meeting friends where I was wanting to look a little bit nicer and not throw them on to head to the local supermarket, you could wear them grocery shopping as they are a nice top but I’m likely to wear my favourite music shirt and comb my hair just enough so it isn’t too crazy looking. I digress, once I finished this top I wasn’t happy with the fit to be perfectly honest but I still have a wearable t-shirt that I can wear under jumpers in winter so it isn’t the end of the world. I took my measurements and made a standard size 18 opting for the high neck in short length version of the pattern. I knew the Concord was a fitted t-shirt I just didn’t realise by how much, this is very snug. Again ok for winter but for summer it just a bit too clingy.

I discovered I have rounded shoulders. At the Cashmerette retreats rounded shoulders is a common issue. Apparently it is common according to my personal trainer for females to have rounded shoulders, particularly those who do a lot of computer work ie Me! He didn’t directly say big boobs = rounded shoulders but I knew what he meant. I’m trying to work on my posture to correct this but in the mean time I am going to have to learn to adjust the patterns I make to compensate this. I have made 2 other tops aside from this one recently and they have the issue of gaping at the back of the neck. I know there is an adjustment you can make and I think it is covered in the online sewing classes I got as part of the Cashmerette retreat so I will have to watch it and do that adjustment next time. 90% of the time I wear a jacket or buttoned shirt open over the top my t-shirts, it is only really if I am walking home in the sun in summer that I don’t have my shoulders covered so you are not going to really see it on the items I have made. I’m now seeing on my ready to wear tops and t-shirts the same thing is happening.

The neckline of this pattern is wider than I like I discovered when I finished it, I don’t know if I have narrow shoulders I think I may. As you can see in the top photo this neckline is showing my bra straps. Again I know there is an adjustment you can make to patterns to bring the neckline in so that is another thing I need to research. All these adjustments sound scary but I am sure once I learn them I will be doing them all the time as required. I have played around with the depth of necklines before but never the shoulder width.

I like the length of the sleeves but they are too snug for me on this top, the arm band in particular. I will be making this top again but next time I will increase the length of the sleeve so I can hem it without the armband. In recent months at the gym I’ve increased the weights I can lift as my upper body strength has improved but I think that also means my arms have gotten a bit bigger as a result. I might have to look into the bicep adjustment for patterns.

Ok so referring back to my tick list of things to consider when making patterns

  • Comfort ?
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky Χ
  • Natural Fibres

This is certainly ticking the classic and natural fibre points. I used a bamboo / cotton fabric that was in my stash which is very soft. I think it ticks the comfort point for winter but not summer. To me I wouldn’t call this creative or quirky in this print but that’s ok it is a wardrobe staple colour.

After doing to some research I will be making this pattern again. To recap the things I will be doing differently next time

  • Go up at least 1 size if not 2
  • Alter the neckline so it isn’t so wide
  • Make the rounded back adjustment
  • Omit arm band and make sleeves longer.

This top was a good learning experience. It allowed me to see the shape of my body and what I need to do to make clothing fit me. I’m not body conscious I know I have curves, I know I have boobs. Yes I would like to tone up a bit but that isn’t why I go to the gym. Gym for me is about increasing my mobility so that I can manage my disability easier in daily life.

Of course me being me I wore this top out to dinner the day I made it and split gravy right down the front. I soaked it as soon as I got home but this top has a permanent stain now, lucky I am going to wear jumpers over it 🙂



Turner Skirt With Pockets

After the success of my first Turner skirt I made a second this time I added pockets.

To recap Turner is a dress pattern by Cashmerette. It is a really nice dress that I am yet to make, Turner skirts are just the skirt portion of the pattern. On Cashmerette’s blog you can find a free pocket pattern that you can insert in the seams of the Turner dress. I needed a black skirt in my wardrobe so I ordered some unbrushed cotton knit from Pitt Trading and made my first skirt with pockets.

I initially made the skirt but before I had even hemmed it I wasn’t happy with the pockets, they sat too low. I forgot that in the pattern the skirt joins the bodice very high on the waist but if you are only making the skirt portion you don’t have the waistline sitting as high when you wear it. When I added the pockets they ended up sitting closer to my knees. I reduced the width of the waistband when I made this version and was bit drunken sailor with my stitching on the overlocker so when I unpicked the waistband I didn’t have as much wiggle room to reattach the waistband. I cut a new waistband from some leftover fabric however this time I left the elastic joined in a loop and just sandwiched it between. I attached it using the overlocker. Once I took it off the machine and stretch it I heard the unfortunate popping sound as some stitches busted. I redid them on my regular sewing machine using the overlock stitch.

I am not sure if it the fabric which doesn’t have the same drape as cotton lycra does or if it is the fact that there are pockets in the side seams but this does seem a little bulky or boxy. It doesn’t look odd I just know it isn’t as flat on the hips. Maybe I need to go down a size, there would still be plenty of room in it if I did.

If I made another one I would again move the pockets even higher. They are nice size pockets, I can easily fit my phone and keys in them and know they aren’t going to fall out. When I wear my Lego skirt now I keep reaching for the pockets.

Initially when I made this skirt I was going to wear it to an event and I put so much effort into finishing this skirt even after every set back. I never get really emotional about an item but this skirt I just had to finish. It sounds silly but I was emotionally exhausted after making this skirt. I was reminded why I don’t put too much emotion into my sewing, I like it but I don’t attach that much feeling to it. I wore the skirt a heap of time before finding out unfortunately what I made it for wasn’t going to happen and suddenly I didn’t know if I wanted to wear this skirt anymore. It sat for about a week before I picked it up to wear it again and finally asked Mr StitchNSew to do photographs for me. I had sort of nicknamed this skirt but I am not doing that now it is just now known as my black turner skirt. I will continue wearing it because it is a functional skirt with pockets. Last week halfway through getting dressed one morning I remembered I would be needing pockets due to something I was going to do that day which would tie up my only free hand so I changed skirts so I could have pockets.


Feather Skirt

I have a confession I have never worn a waistband that had elastic in only a portion of it. I don’t know why but in my mind it felt like cheating. I have no problem wearing a waistband that is fully elastic or one that is just a woven with a zipper closure but never the combination of just elastic in the back section and a woven band at the front. It is one of those silly little things that your mind makes up.

On the Cashmerette Facebook group someone posted a photo of the Elastic Back skirt. It is a free pattern that you can get if you sign up to receive the Cashmerette newsletter.  I had some fabric in my stash that I purchased last year just waiting to be made into something so I thought why not step outside my comfort zone and give it a try.

The pattern is tutorial to make the skirt to fit your body so it based on your measurements. I discovered at the Cashmerette retreats that Jenny are almost the same size when you do our measurements. To make this skirt you do need to do a few basic calculations but it fully explained how to work it out and Jenny does give you the example on how she calculated hers. For the hip measurements I was able to use that on the printed tutorial, for my waist front my piece was 23″x3″ and the elastic I cut was 15.25″

For the front you gather the fabric in slightly. I did my gather stitches by hand instead of machine. Hand stitching is something I enjoy so I just did 2 rows then pulled in it to fit. I tried to keep my gathers even and I pretty happy with how it ended up. It isn’t one of those skirts that has a lot of gathers at the front I think the pattern is written so it has a nice amount.

The back waistband I didn’t finish the neatest as my stitching is a little off track but I am not worried. If you haven’t realised by now I am not a sewing perfectionist. If it is in an area that no one is really going to see then I don’t bother fixing drunken sailor stitching unless it impacts the fit or construction of the piece. My waistbands are always covered so no one will see them and frankly who cares if they do.

This skirt is actually very comfortable. It didn’t feel weird having only the elastic in the back. It felt secure and didn’t feel like it was falling down. I wore it the day that I made it and then also to work that same week.

  • Comfort
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky
  • Natural Fibres

This ticks everything off my list when it comes to choosing a pattern to make. It is fitted to my size and is comfortable and I don’t feel like I am cheating! It is a very simple and classic style skirt that won’t go out of style. As for quirky I have another crazy bird lady skirt! The fabric is a cotton I think a poplin, it isn’t a quilting fabric. This is a longer length than what I normally wear as it falls past my knees, the tutorial explains how to make it any length you want. If I make it again I might make it above knee length but I had no issues wearing this length.

It was fun to step outside my comfort zone. I think it is about time I start doing more of it.


Cashmerette Sewing Retreat – Going Back For Seconds

I really enjoyed the Cashmerette sewing retreat that I went on at the start of the month. I got my sewjo back, it was fun to sew among other people. Jenny and Carrie were great teachers. The mindset clicked “sewing clothing for yourself is actually amazing” I knew there was a second retreat happening and I was thinking of maybe just “dropping in” to the shop on 2nd day on my way past as I was in that in end of town just to say hi to Jenny and Carrie and maybe pick their brains on a few questions I had but 4 days out from the retreat with still a couple of spots left I decided what the heck I will actually go back for seconds and attend the retreat again… Best decision ever!!

From the start I decided I wasn’t going to compare the 2 retreats. In my mind it was just one big experience, I just got to share the experience with a few different people. My first weekend I focused on actually making an item which I still haven’t finished (just the sleeve hems to do) On the second weekend I wanted to focus on the fit of clothing. To be honest I don’t think I have ever struggled with body image. I’m a larger built person, I always have been. From birth I have had mobility issues so over the years my focus has always been on how much pain I was in and whether I could walk as opposed to what I looked like doing it. Saying that I will admit that I don’t like to emphasize my larger bust line and I have always dressed baggy to cover it up because that is what I thought you had to do. Doing the Cashmerette retreats has being a real brain wave moment making me realise it is all about the fit of clothing to your body. Nicely fitting clothing can make you look smaller. Fitted clothing can actually disguise a larger bust line.

At the retreats one of the first things Jenny does is show you how to take your measurements. Your waistline is higher than what you think so I wanted a visual reminder where my waistline is so when I am at home I can remember so after Jenny measured me I marked the area with masking tape and took a photo. It is at the bottom of the tape area so about 3 inches above my belly button.

Once I removed the tape I discovered I actually have more of a permanent reminder inbuilt. I have 2 moles on my skin so I know that is the spot. Another lightbulb moment from talking with Jenny is that I am not the only one with “B” tummy. My stomach is round like a balloon all the way down, at my belly button it goes in then goes back out again like the shape of a “B” A lot of people are this shape.

I am a visual person so watching is how I learn best. The demonstrations Jenny did throughout the retreats were very beneficial to me.  To see someone perform a technique you have never done before and explain it as they do it sticks in my mind more than just reading it from a book. Sometimes I need to watch a few times before it sinks in or refer back to visual cues as to what it should look like but eventually it stays in my mind.

The project I worked on for the weekend was a Springfield top. It is a fitted woven top. It took me out of my comfort zone. I had never done a woven top, I had never sewn darts in clothing before. Before the first retreat it was a pattern I would have run a mile from as I don’t wear woven tops like that. Seeing a few that people had made I thought I want to try this. The fabric I used was some that I was given at the first retreat, it was perfect as it was all ready to go. Unfortunately you can’t really see it in this photo but when I tried it on the neckline was a bit baggy so Jenny pinned in some darts to try and remove the some of gape.

It turns out I have a hollow chest and that is why my neckline was gaping. Using my pattern piece Jenny gave a demonstration on a quick method of reducing the neckline by pinching out the excess amount and taping it away. I’m going to use this piece as a reference on all my woven tops from now on as it sounds like it might be a common adjustment I might have to do.

I bailed Jenny up a lot and asked lots of questions when she wasn’t in the middle of helping others. I came armed with printouts of size chart for lots of Cashmerette patterns I want to make and went through them with Jenny so when I go to make them I know what to pick. Jenny recommends each time you make an item you measure your body and I will do that when I go to make them but at least now I have a very good idea of what I sizings I will be needing to choose. I know how to read pattern size charts now and what parts to compare in making my overall decision of what size to make and any grading I should do.

Before the first retreat I had ambitions of making a Cedar Dolman top to wear at it but I never got it started however I did cut out the pattern pieces, this was before I knew you could be different sizes in the one pattern piece. Now that I had an idea of what sizes I should make I graded down the original pattern pieces I cut out to the size I actually needed.

Photo courtesy of Cashmerette

I had a fantastic weekend. Once again it was a very supportive bunch of fellow retreaters who attended. We were lending each other fabric and supplies. Helping each other where we could. Fate brought 2 people who were not from Sydney to sit next to each other and discover they live in the same suburb. Kristina even flew all the way from across the ditch (New Zealand) to join us. At both retreats and I’m sure if was the same for those who did the Melbourne retreat it was great to not just get help from Jenny and Carrie but also from the other participants. Sharing small hints and tips that you have tried or heard about, passing on recommendations on where to get supplies. Even sharing your sewing fears made others realise they weren’t alone as we often all have those same irrational thoughts.

It was a long way for Jenny and Carrie to come to Australia from Boston to do the retreats. It was the first time that they have done the retreats outside America. I really hope that Cashmerette decides to do more retreats as I think it is an amazing opportunity that many Cashmerette fans would jump at the chance of doing. The skill set you learn at these retreats you can use in any pattern you make no matter what brand. If get the chance just go you will love it.







Cashmerette Sydney Sewing Retreat – Feb 18

Cashmerette is an indi sewing pattern company which designs patterns for the more fuller figure. The big 4 pattern companies design their patterns to fit a B cup but Cashmerette patterns are designed to fit cups C – H. Last year the owner Jenny Rushmore announced she was doing a tour of Australia and would be holding a 2 day sewing retreat in Sydney on a weekend at Bobbin & Ink, I decided I needed to be at it. I purchased my ticket than danced around the room singing “I have big boobs I can not lie” I can do skirt making no problem but when it comes to tops I get scared, I don’t know how to deal with a large bust so for all the tops I have ever made I have just added extra to the centre front seam and hoped that would work.

The retreat was very laid back and relaxed. Each person brought along a Cashmerette pattern they were already working on or wanted to try. You didn’t have homework that you needed to complete beforehand. The only thing I did before the class was tape together the PDF pattern I was going to make and prep my fabric (washed and ironed it) The hardest thing about packing for the retreat was remembering what sewing notions would I need to take. I felt like a bag lady with a bag of fabric, plus all my sewing notions in a bag (my denim hearts pouch was perfect for this) plus just a bag with all things I use such as rulers and my glasses. We were able to borrow sewing machines so at least I didn’t have to cart that around too.

I decided I would work on the Washington dress. It was the first Cashmerette pattern that I came across and a pattern that I discussed with Anne Whalley about making at the Know Your Style Workshop I did many moons ago. The pattern combines knits and wovens so it was a chance also to work with a new fabric combination too. One of the first things Jenny did was discuss how to measure yourself and then grade your pattern pieces to fit. I am a complete novice I didn’t know you could make your pattern pieces from different sizes and morph them all together by grading to get them to fit. I never did sewing at school or any form of pattern making so I just didn’t know this. I always thought you just select a size from the pattern which covers all your measurements. It was a lightbulb moment for me to find out you could select one size for your waist, another for you bust and a different size for you hip.

Throughout the weekend Jenny would do demonstrations some were pattern related some were sewing related. She taught us how to do full bust adjustments, sleeve adjustments, how to make collars. Jenny and her assistant Carrie sat with each person and worked with them to help with fitting issues and techniques. There was 9 of us in the group and it was interesting to see the different patterns people were working on. We had jean makers, dress makers, shirt makers. Seeing the garments transform really made you want to make that particular item and moved it from your “maybe I will make that one day ” thoughts to “I am going to make that pattern”

As with all retreats you need to eat. On the Saturday night some of us went out to dinner at a restaurant near the venue. It was nice to sit and relax after a day of learning new things (I didn’t actually do any sewing that day) Jenny showed us some teaser photos of up coming patterns, we all chatted, ate good food. We were teaching Jenny and Carrie some Australian lingo (slang terms) On the Sunday one lady who lived locally decided we need to have “Cake with Cashemerette” so she brought in a delicious cheesecake to share. A couple of years ago someone tried to body shame Jenny after she posted a photo of herself in a swimming costume telling her she would look better if she stopped eating cake, in support of Jenny people started using the hashtag  #CakewithCashmerette showing themselves eating cake as you can eat cake and still be healthy and feel good about your body.

I may have acquired some fabric over the weekend. I was admiring the fabric that one lady had used to make her dress, a dark brown cotton with tiny flowers. Unexpectedly she gave me the leftovers she had! It was at least 2m of fabric. I’m going to make a top out of it I think.

Just down the road from the venue everyone was talking about a fabric shop which had a sale on. I have looked in the shop window before but it has never been opened on a Sunday when I was there so I popped into it on the Saturday. I brought some dusty pink silk. This is officially the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased at $49/m. I am going totally outside my comfort zone with this fabric and colour. I have never sewn with silk or worn it but I hear that it is breathable. The colour isn’t blue. I’m going to make a top and thought it might be different for a change.

On the Saturday I did all my prepping of my pattern pieces and on the Sunday I got sewing. I had my sewjo and even came back early from lunch so I could continue working on my garment. By the end of the day I had my dress up to the hemming stage. I got more accomplished on the retreat than I expected I would.

I have mentioned here a few times that I have lost my sewjo. It came back in December and I got my Frocktails outfit done but then it disappeared again. I never touched a sewing machine in January. I found doing this retreat very beneficial. Jenny taught us a lot on how to accommodate clothing to fit whatever size body you had. My mind is ticking with how to try things now. I’m now not scared to try patterns or styles which I once thought it looks good on size tiny but can it work for me. I have never really got the “buzz” of making your own clothing before but now I have. I enjoyed it before but I now I have a new full respect and admiration of clothing. Since the retreat I have found myself looking at other peoples clothing and deconstructing it in my head thinking of how it was made and how I could do that myself.

Photo courtesy of Cashmerette

I think one of the big things that made the retreat was the other participants. Everyone was so generous with their time and skills. You had people who were just beginners and people who had been sewing for years. One lady was scared to use an overlocker (serger) she has had for years, another lady took her over to one that was set up and demonstrated to her how easy it was to use and then encouraged her to have a go on it. That lady went home excited that she was going to try her overlocker now. Sewing people are wonderful.

Thank you Jenny and Carrie and all the participants for a fantastic weekend.