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.



Frocktails Lou Box Top

In December 2017 whilst on Christmas holidays I made my entire outfit for Frocktails. Most people who are going will start their outfits in January and possibly last minute February but I didn’t think I would have that much sewing time in the new year so I used what time I had.

To recap at the 2017 Frocktails I won a lucky door prize of a pattern from Sew DIY. On the night when I won the prize I decided straight away whatever pattern I picked if there was ever another Frocktails I wanted to wear that pattern to the event. To get outside my comfort zone I chose the Lou Box Top pattern.

Earlier this year I made the top with a cotton jersey knit I had in my stash. It is very comfortable top and was very easy to make. I made the crew neckline which is perfect for day wear as I like to be a little more conservative due to my place of work.

For my Frocktails version of the top I decided to change around the fabrics. I went shopping look specifically for a fabric which was more fluid like and had a lot of drape to it. By chance I found a modal poly knit which was perfect. You hold it and it falls so beautifully. It is a very light weight fabric and feels amazing.

This time for the neckline I decided to go for a scoop rather than crew style. Now to be honest I thought that scoop version was a little too low for me. My initial plan was to adjust the pattern and go half way between the 2 options of crew and scoop. On the fabric I marked up of the crew line cutting guide/line and held the PDF paper version of the scoop line up against the fabric and chalk marked that. My next step was to mark out a neckline between the 2 but I had a brain snap grabbed the scissors and cut out the scoop neckline. Straight away I mentally kicking myself for cutting it. I pinned it together and it fitted it was just a little lower than I had planned.


In the end once it was all sewn together the neckline wasn’t an issue. I am super happy with this top. I love the feel of it even though it is a poly knit. It is so lightweight and sits well. The pattern suggests using a fabric with drape and I highly recommend it. Once you get this pattern you will make it numerous times so make a version that has some drape to it.

This top I can wear with any skirt or pants. For me it is more of an event or function top rather than an everyday wear top. I don’t go to a lot of functions or events but I think it is nice to have a special piece in your wardrobe that you can wear. I wear the same style of store brought shirt every day to work (I have it in many colours) When I go to an event I don’t like wearing what I call my “work shirt” to it I want to wear something different and this top is one of those special tops.



Snowflake Skirt

Sometimes you see fabric online and you just can’t stop thinking about it, that was the case with this jersey knit snowflake fabric that I saw at Zebra Fabrics. I kept going back to the website and looking at it for about a week before purchasing it. It was in the remnant section and there was only 1m left which was perfect as I knew I only needed about 80-90cm for a skirt. This fabric is blue how could I not resist it?

The pattern I used was McCalls M6654. It is a really basic pull on skirt pattern. I made view C which takes around 90cm of fabric. If you have made a pull on skirt before you don’t need to even look at the instructions just cut your 3 pieces (front, back, waistband) and stitch them all together. I did this all on the overlocker (serger) except for joining the ends of the waistband piece and the hem.

Christmas in Australia is not cold and snow it is summer and heat so instead of hanging out with a snowman summer is all about hanging out with a fan to keep you cool. When the above photo was taken it was a 40°C day so very hot and I had just walked home from work. The skirt was lovely and comfortable to wear in the heat. It is a very light weight jersey so perfect for December in Australia.

Looking back at my checklist to consider for clothing making

  • Comfort
  • Classic
  • Creative / Quirky
  • Natural Fibres

This is ticking all the points, it is made from a cotton knit so super comfortable and breathable. It is a classic simple style. The snowflake print makes it whimsical without making it look like a novelty skirt. In 2018 this skirt will get use from the start of December, it is more than a one day of year skirt. I like clothing which you can get a lot of wear out of and this skirt will get as much wear as I can.

Merry Christmas


First Attempt PJ Top K4088

It is not very often I do this but I have made an item of clothing from scratch in one morning and couldn’t wait to put it up on here. A top in a morning.

So a little background story. Last weekend in Sydney we experienced some unseasonally warm weather for September and it made me start thinking back to how hot the nights were last summer. If we are getting high temperatures at night in spring then we are in for another hot summer. I sleep in cotton knit t-shirts and in summer can go through several a night as I have don’t have air conditioning and don’t like to sleep in damp shirts so I am changing them all the time as I wake up sweaty (I’m being brutally honest here)

I was going to draft a pattern from an existing shirt I had but instead in my stash found a pattern that I am in the process of making another item from (the dressing gown) Kwik Sew K4088 is a men’s pattern but who says females can’t wear the items. Again being honest I don’t sleep in a bra and I am not tiny I need big comfortable baggy shirts to sleep in. From this pattern I view B but used the neckline of C, I wanted short sleeves with a round neck. This pattern was super easy to make this style with as the pattern pieces are the same for both views you can just choose the neckline or sleeve length you want from each pattern piece. I made size XXL, I thought it may be a little bit big but it is perfect for me.

I was worried about the neckline being too big but I am really happy with the fit. With the exception of joining the 2 ends of the neckband to form a circle I constructed it all on the overlocker (serger) I have a couple of tiny puckers in my neckline but I am not bothered by it. I found it fairly easy to attach the neckband whilst using the overlocker.

To reinforce the shoulders the pattern said to use fusible tape, I had a looked at one of my current shirts and it only uses a scrap of fabric so that is what I used too. For me as I am really fussy I would start scratching if I had fusible tape on my shoulders so the fabric is perfect. I pinned the fabric scrap to the back of each shoulder and then stitched the shoulders together as per the pattern.

Once the top was all stitched together I wasn’t sure if I would bother hemming it or not. I decided to just overlock the edges but instantly hated it. On one sleeve I have started removed the stitches the other I will do in the next day or so.

The bottom hemline is the same I am not happy with it and will remove the stitching. The stitching seemed to distort it and stretch it all out. On the arms I think the stitching would annoy me and you don’t really need it. This isn’t a fashion item this is a I want to sleep comfortably item.

I am over the moon with how this turned out. The fabric I used was a cotton knit I found in my stash and  I have already pulled out extra fabric from my stash to make more this weekend. This is a great fitting top for me. I think in a nice print I think I could even use this pattern as a regular summer t-shirt pattern for me. It doesn’t necessarily look like a PJ top it is essentially a t-shirt pattern. This was a really easy and quick top to make and I literally did everything in one morning (traced out the pattern, cut the fabric, stitched it up) Don’t you just love it when you find a great pattern like that.


Lou Box Top – First Attempt

The Lou Box Top by Sew DIY was the free pattern I chose as my Frocktails prize. It isn’t a style that I would normally choose as it is very floaty and not fitted so that is why I picked it, to get out of my comfort zone and try new styles. I had some cotton knit fabric in my stash that I brought at our Sydney Spoolette Spotlight outing earlier this year so last month I tried it out.

I adjusted the length by 6″ to make it a little longer. The pattern has a number of hem options but I went with a straight hem. I used the front hem pattern piece for both the front and the back as it was straight across and added to my extra inches to that instead of adding in the area marked to adjust the pattern. It was just easier for me to trace out, I don’t know much about pattern construction so I am not sure why the back hem piece had a slight curve to it but the front didn’t. The pattern comes with 2 options for the neck line I did the crew version. I am very pleased that it didn’t stretch out. I hand tacked it in place and then stitched it on with the overlocker. By going slow I discovered you can remove your hand tacking stitches before they get to the overlocker blade, it is the same as doing it with pins but you are removing basting stitches not metal pins. After the neckline was stitched on I didn’t do the stay stitching. If it starts to annoy me I can always go back and add that.

I’m happy with the finished top, however next time I will add further length to what I have already added. I prefer a longer tunic style top as I like coverage over my lower back almost to my hips. I don’t like drafts so I tuck my tops in to my skirts/pants if I am wearing a jacket or jumper which is most times. The reason this top looks crushed is that I had it tucked in all day as I wore it.

I guess you would describe the sleeves as dolman, they are baggy but don’t look too baggy. Upon wearing this I discovered that if worn under my fitted jacket the sleeves can be a little uncomfortable. There is very little room between the side seam and underarm so it pulled, I had to ruched them up to the shoulders almost like a tank top. I’ll try it under other jackets to see if it was just that particular jacket as I know that one is a snug fit. For the hems I used my hot hemmer  to iron them in place. To secure all the hems I did a stepped zig zag stitch. I am pleased how they turned out.

I am glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and gave this top a try. I normally don’t do floaty tops. I have one style of tops I wear all the time and it is a fitted knitted t-shirt style which I brought in a heap of colours many years ago and I can no longer get so I need to start looking at tops. This pattern was a great way to get used to top making. Years ago I did make a pj top which I never wear as it is too big and I have avoided making tops since but making this pattern was fun so I’m going to make a few more tops like this and other styles. This was also a very quick pattern to whip up.


Roewood Skirt – First Attempt

Over the Easter long weekend I made my first skirt from A Beginner’s Guide To Making Skirts. The Roewood Jersey Pencil Skirt is the first skirt in the book and I think it is a good one to start with. The fabric I used was the fishscale remnant piece I picked up on my fabric crawl last month from the Remnant Warehouse. I made the plain version of the skirt.

Fit wise I used the 47″ version however I’ll admit I added an extra ½” around each pattern piece using my seam allowance guide. I didn’t want the fit to be too snug and I wasn’t sure how much stretch my fabric would give once sewn up as I had never worked with that fabric before so really it was more like the 49″ that I made. Assembly wise I kept my seam allowance fairly narrow and did the all the seams on the overlocker.

I am happy with the size that I did. Yes I have a tummy (love my hot chips) Side on you can see it a little I normally wear longer tops anyway but ever if I didn’t it doesn’t look bad. I like the length of it. I have worn this to work and it did pass the windy day test. I didn’t have to walk down the street holding my skirt which I have had to do with store brought pencil skirts.

For the waistband I used the largest pattern size. Even though I am hourglass shape (waist is smaller than hips and bust) I didn’t fall within the waist measurements from the pattern size. Once the waistband was attached to the skirt I realised I could have gotten away without even inserting elastic into the casing as the fabric was very compressing and fitted almost like a narrow yoga waistband but as I would be wearing this to work and not wanting to risk wardrobe malfunctions over time I added the elastic.

Originally I used a narrow elastic but it just felt wrong once I tried it on. It didn’t sit nice within the casing and just felt awful so I removed it and put in wide elastic. The wide elastic is much more comfortable. When the skirt isn’t on it does look bumpy within the casing but when stretched out around the waist feels nice and secure. For the hem I just did the most basic fold over and stitch method. It isn’t the neatest hem and I’m sill considering maybe at some point of doing a rolled hem on it. I have enough length that I can change the hem if needed.

Sewing this skirt was a lot of fun. The fabric only cost me like $9 so if I messed it up or didn’t like it there was no fear of wasting a heap of money. The fabric is nylon spandex which is not normally a fabric I would go near but I loved the colour and the texture so I tried it out. When I brought the fabric I didn’t know if I would keep what I made from it or not but now that I have made it I’m keeping it. It isn’t a summer skirt even though I am in an air conned office, it is a winter skirt. I have lots of summer skirts and now I have a good winter skirt.

Out of all the fabrics I brought on my fabric crawl I would not have guessed this would have been the first fabric I used but I love it. Oh and I have one question what do you do with your hands when you are taking photos. I am no model I don’t know how to pose 🙂