A skirt in under an hour

No pattern required.

Shirred skirt 2

While my big roll of shirring elastic was lying around my sewing room catching my eye I got the idea to make a gathered skirt.

Shirring elastic

I grabbed this cute check fabric and cut the desired length, plus about 7 inches.  Then with right sides together I joined the two selvedge edges.  No need to overlock any raw seams which is always a good thing. Press the seam open.

Shirred skirt 3

For the waist I pressed a seam of a quarter inch, then I turned the fabric over again by about 2.5 inches. Press again.

Shirred skirt 4

I loaded shirring elastic into my machine's bobbin and started sewing from the top.  The first round was about a quarter inch from the top.  When I had completed a round I just lifted my machine foot and moved down the waistband by a quarter inch.  

Shirred skirt 5

The lovely thing about shirring elastic is the more you use, the more it gathers.  After the first round or two you start to wonder if it will gather enough.  A few more rounds and you start to get there.  I ended up sneaking in a few more rounds in between my initial ones so the stitching is all a bit awry.

Shirred skirt 6

I added some patch pockets and hemmed the skirt with a generous turn-up.  Then I googled how to make a tassel.  Here's a cute set of instructions.  I put a knot in the tassel tie, close to the top of the tassel.  Then I tucked  the tassel tie into the binding and stitched it closed at the end.  The knot will ensure it stays in place.

Shirred skirt 1

This fabric has quite a bit of body to it.  A softer, lighter fabric would require less shirring.  A Liberty one might be next.


Freddie Shortalls

My newest pattern is now available - the Freddie Shortalls.  

Freddie Shortalls 5

I think this is my favourite of the Townmouse patterns for little boys.

The shortalls are very simple to sew and look cute on their own, or layered over a shirt or tee.

Freddie Shortalls 6

These two little boys of mine are now teenagers - both over six foot tall.  Yikes.

Freddie Shortalls 9

This pattern uses shirring elastic to provide gentle gathering at the back waist.  If you haven't sewn with shirring elastic, my pattern links to this video which is a useful guide to getting the elastic to behave for you.


During the testing of the pattern, one of my testers used an alternative to the shirring elastic which I thought was genius and works just as well. This clever seamstress didn't have shirring elastic on hand so stitched a channel for regular quarter inch elastic instead.


To make the shortalls this way you will need regular quarter inch elastic.


Simply stitch two parallel lines slightly wider than the width of the elastic, parallel to the top of the shortalls according to pattern markings, catching the facing.  


Attach one end of the elastic to a safety pin and thread the elastic through the channel, between the shortalls and facing.  Remove the safety pin and stitch the channel closed at this end, securing the elastic in place.

Now you can gently pull the elastic until the shortalls have gathered to the desired amount.  Then stitch the elastic in place at the other end of the channel.  Cut off the excess elastic.

Freddie Shortalls Hybner 5


A busy life and a new pattern

Wow, life gets busy doesn't it?  I have been largely neglectful of my Townmouse Pattern business for the last two years.  It has ticked along without me.

Our children are growing up.  

Adelaide is 9 and has developed an obsession for horse riding.

Adelaide on Tappy

We have two children old enough to drive (both still Learner drivers).

Max Tractor

We have a new family member of the four legged (canine) variety. We now have gender balance in the home!

Lucy and Tilly

We renovated our farm house last year. While the builders were on site, the site manager and I made improvements to an old barn on the property. I feel very proud of the makeover we have achieved on the barn.  It's amazing what a lick of paint and a pergola can do. Bunnings became my favourite store. We made simple changes on a budget that brought about improvements to the look and feel of the building. It's now a busy AirBnB rental.  So yes, I've also become an AirBnB host in the last 12 months.


Lately though, I've found my way back to my attic studio.

Studio 1

I had a big tidy up a few weeks back and now I'm enjoying spending time there again. A podcast or Netflix series and a dog (or two) at my feet for company and I am back in my happy place.

Studio corner

Yesterday I launched my latest pattern, the Sienna Gathered Skirt.

Sienna blue blue stripe

I had done 80% of the work on this pattern two years ago, and then life sidetracked me.  

Adelaide in skirt

I enjoyed getting back to the old files and bringing them up to a standard to release to you.  I'm even thinking I might make one of these for myself.

Sienna launch blog

To celebrate the launch there is 15% off all patterns until the end of July with the code SIENNA15.

I just love this rose gold stripe version by Kristie @thesewcraftybaker who kindly tested the pattern for me.

The big question is, what pattern to work on next?

New details around the house

We will have been in our house 3 years next month.  Before we moved in I worked hard to get all the details ready for move-in date, including curtains and blinds.  Our furniture that came with us fitted in very nicely and there were very few gaps to fill. I even brought three sets of curtains with us from our old house (I find fabric hard to part with). We bought a new, but very old, round hall table, and I had a sofa made and covered in a much loved Rose Tarlow fabric.

I knew that without a deadline of a move-in date, anything that didn't get done before then, would have to wait a very long time. Because, lets face it, making all those renovating decisions is exhausting and I knew I'd run out of steam.

Entrance hall 2

We were happy with the job that I'd done furnishing the house. We have had some lovely pieces of furniture gifted to us over the years by Will's mother who has such a good eye for these things. I sought help recently to do the last little 5% to really bring everything together and make the house sing.


Like most crafty types I'm obsessed with fabric. Some lovely new fabrics entered our house today in the form of new stools to go under our old, new hall table, some cushions and an upholstered ottoman for our living room, and some more cushions for our formal sitting room.

Living room sofa

The cushions have beautiful details in the way of coordinating trims.

Entrance hall

The fabric on the little hall stools has also been used on lamp shades in the formal sitting room, and a lamp shade on a standard lamp in the family room.  It's all designed to mix and match so the pieces can move around if need be.  These little stools will become handy on book group nights when an extra seat is needed around the fireplace, for example.

Formal sitting room details

Our dining chairs have had a new lease on life with another stunning Rose Tarlow fabric.  Teal blues are a favourite interior colour of mine, and I love that the colour pops up here and there throughout the house. And I love the way the chocolate stripe in this fabric works with the dark wood of the chairs.

Dining chair

All the rooms are interconnected so I like that there is colour harmony from room to room.

Entry hall to dining

The house feels rather grown up now.

Entrance hall to dining

There have been some lovely additions to our bedroom too, and I can now say that our house feels complete. Although I do have a sofa sitting in our garage that I picked up at auction for $100 that needs reupholstery. So I guess there is always a project still yet to do.

Making jam

It's been over a year since my last post.  I miss blogging. I miss that it made me focus on my photography skills.

Jam jars 2

The light was rather pretty shining down on these freshly sterilised jam jars drying on the Aga. So while I was simmering my cumquats for marmalade, I took a few snaps.

In the last year we have bought a little farm in Red Hill on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.  The farm has a rather fabulous kitchen garden, with quite a lot of varied citrus trees.  I have been making jams and marmalades like a woman possessed. So far this week I've made strawberry jam, two batches of cumquat marmalade, and lemon marmalade.  There has also been cumquat ice-cream in the mix.  Now that's something fabulous I recommend everyone should try.

Jam jars 1

I love these Weck preserving jars.  The top shelf of my pantry is now stashing a lovely collection of jams in jars.

Cumquat marmalade

I'm still working on identifying the perfect setting point for the jam.  This cumquat marmalade is too runny, which, on the bright side, makes it perfect for stirring into ice-cream for the afore-mentioned cumquat ice-cream.

But my main reason for popping in here is to share with you the jam labels I created.

Jam labels

These are just a sample of three of them.  There are 11 - five types of marmalade, and 6 different fruit jams from fig to strawberry. They are designed to print onto these labels. But if you didn't want to purchase this specific size, you can get a box of label sheets and cut to whatever size you like. You can download the labels by clicking the button below, or find them in my left sidebar.

Jam label free download

Adelaide's bedroom

Today I picked up this chair from the upholsterer.

Adelaide bedroom-2

It's a child's armchair.  It used to be in my mother-in-law's childhood bedroom. She gave it to us for Adelaide's room and I finally had it recovered this week.

Adelaide bedroom-1

Adelaide has two little single beds in her room. I like the idea of her having little friends for sleepovers.  When we moved house I had the curtains and bedheads made.  I ordered a few metres of the chair fabric, along with a few extra metres of the bed skirt fabric, in order to make matching whole cloth quilts for her beds.

Adelaide bedroom-4

That never eventuated, and I decided the fabric was best put to use recovering the armchair. There was fabric left over to have two little cushions made for the beds. I might get around to having a lampshade made in what's left.

Note the Casita night light on her side table.  Adelaide can't go to sleep without it on. The ballerina print is one of two that used to hang in my grandmother's house.  The second one is above Adelaide's bedside table.

The armchair is proving to be the perfect spot to nurse a doll or have a chat with her favourite BeanieBoo.

Bitten by the smocking bug

Lately I've become a bit obsessed with smocking.  If you follow me on Instagram you've probably realised that.

I worked out the Eloise Gathered Top PDF Pattern lends itself rather well to smocking.

Smock top-08

I added about 8 inches to the width of the front pattern piece, so there's lots of fabric to smock.

Last week I visited Amitie, my favourite fabric shop, and picked up a few new fabrics, including one of Anna Maria Horner's woven yarn dyes.

Smock top-01

This probably isn't the sort of fabric I would normally use in dressmaking, but when you add the smocking element, I couldn't resist it.

Smock top-05

There was a bit of trial and error with this top.  I attached the neck binding three times before I was happy with it.

Smock top-03

I have been Pinning lovely images of smocked tops on Pinterest and getting inspired.

Smock top-07

This is a long sleeved raglan top with sleeve ends gathered into a cuff. I think it will be cute over a little denim skirt and tights this winter.

Smock top-06

Adelaide has a fuscia coloured Jacadi cardigan that goes perfectly with it.

Henri in the studio

I had company in the studio this afternoon.  Henri and I passed a lovely couple of hours in the attic with the sun streaming in. He was doing some sketching in a sunny spot.  The perfect Sunday afternoon.

Eloise Gathered Top PDF pattern now available

I'm very happy to announce that my latest pattern, the Eloise Gathered Top, is now available in my Etsy store.

Eloise Liberty tops

After lots of requests for this pattern, I pushed it to the top of the list of patterns to digitise.  

This has been a favourite of Adelaide's too, as it is easy to slip on and off and is comfortable to wear.  She particularly loves it in Amy's pretty voile fabric, pictured below.

Eloise top smaller file size

I think you will love sewing this pattern.  It's quick to whip up and suits seamstresses of all abilities.  You can also add pretty details like trim to the sleeves, trim to the bodice or pin tucks.

Eloise tops 3

I particularly love a fuller style top like this with the Chloe and Cooper Cuffed Pants on younger girls.  You can buy the two patterns together and save 10%.

Chloe Cooper Cuff Pants

Adelaide wore this top style a lot in her first few years.  And she's still wearing it now in the larger sizes. (That's her in both photos above.)

Understitching - a quick tutorial

I put the request out on the Townmouse Patterns Facebook Group for some proof-reading help on the just released Eloise Gathered Top pattern. Some gorgeous girls came to my rescue and I have now incorporated their valuable feedback to make the pattern the best it can be.

Candice, one of my most trusted, regular pattern testers mentioned understitching. This wasn't a term I was familiar with, even though I regularly use the technique.  I just don't call it by its right name.

So I thought I'd show you a little step-by-step of the understitching technique, that you can refer to when whipping up the Eloise Gathered Top.

Understitching is used when facing a neckline or opening of a garment and you want to keep the facing in place and stop it rolling to the outside of the garment and being seen.  The under stitching holds it neatly in place inside the garment.

Understitch tutorial

1. With right sides together, stitch the facing to the front garment piece.

Under stitch 1

2. Trim back the seam and, where your seam is curved, clip into it at intervals.

Under stitch 2

3. Press the seam allowance towards the facing.

Under stitch 3

4. Working from the right side and very closely to the seam line, stitch the seam allowance to the facing.

Under stitch 4

5.Now press the pattern pieces into place.

Under stitch 5

6. From the wrong side you should be able to see the garment's main fabric, as the seam line is rolled slightly to the inside.

Under stitch 7

7. From the outside you will not be able to see any facing.

Under stitch 8

This little Eloise top is going to the newborn sister of one of Adelaide's school friends.  It's size 0 (6 to 12 months) so I hope it will be the perfect fit for her next summer.

New Townmouse patterns in Paperie by Amy Sinibaldi

Who doesn't love Amy's blog NanaCompany? And if a beautiful blog isn't enough to satisfy you, there is her book and now her fabric collection. Paperie is Amy's debut fabric collection for Art Gallery Fabrics.

Amy very kindly asked me if I would like to participate in her Paperie blog tour.  Absolutely!  I was very excited to receive some yardage of the pretty print Eponine in voile.

I couldn't wait to start playing with this fabric and thought I'd test my two new upcoming patterns in it.

Eloise top 1

This is the Eloise Top.  Since I released my pattern for the Cuffed Pants I've had many enquiries about a pattern for the pictured accompanying top.  With so many requests for it I pushed this pattern to the top of the "to be released" queue.

Eloise top 2

The paperie voile is a lovely weight to sew little tops with. Adelaide absolutely loves this fabric so was very excited to get some new clothes in it.

Eloise top sleeve detail

You can see how pretty this print is up close.

The other thing I love about Amy's fabric range is how easily it blends with so many unexpected colours.

Sienna skirt 1

I pulled lots of fabrics from my stash that worked with Eponine, but in the end went with this raspberry dot fabric that is leftover from my range production a few years back. This is the Sienna Gathered Skirt which you first saw here.

Sienna skirt 2

I've struggled to get this skirt off Adelaide in the last few days of the summer holidays. There's something about a full skirt that always appeals to little girls I've found.

Sienna skirt 3

Now the Paperie skirt and top are hanging on Adelaide's wardrobe door.  They look so pretty together, I didn't want to put them away with her other clothes.

Townmouse top and skirt in Paperie

These two patterns will be released in the coming weeks. Please follow TownmousePatterns on Instagram or here on the blog for release details. In the meantime, order your Paperie fabric before this pretty range sells out.

You can find  all the lovely creations that are being made for the Paperie blog tour by clicking on the links below.

Paperie blog tour

January 25 ~ Heidi Staples of fabricmutt.blogspot.com

January 26 ~ Kerry Goulder of kidgiddy.com

January 27 ~ Cheri Lehnow of tinkerwiththis.blogspot.com

January 28 ~ Sharon Holland of SharonHollandDesigns.com

January 29 ~ Jemima Flendt of tiedwitharibbon.com

January 30 ~ Michelle Curtis of chellesquilts.com

February 1 ~ Christina Egner of onelittlepooh.net

February 2 ~ Ali Brorsen of BecauseofBrennaClothing.com

February 3 ~ Kristine Lempriere of townmouse.typepad.com

February 4 ~ Nicole Young of lillyella.com

February 5 ~ Lori Landenburger of sewpsyched.blogspot.com

February 6 ~ Jennifer Chon of sunnyincal.com

February 8 ~ Melissa LeRay of ohhowsweet.com

February 9 ~ Megan Jimanez of quiltstory.blogspot.com

February 10 ~ Faith Essenburg of saranaave.wordpress.com

February 11 ~ Renee Lange of sewnwithgrace.com

February 12 ~ Sedef Imer of downgrapevinelane.com

February 13 ~ Kristyne Czepuryk of prettybyhand.com

February 15 ~ Heather Andrus of quiltstory.blogspot.com

February 16 ~ Stacy Olson of stacyolsondesign.com

February 17 ~ Erin Cox of whynotsew.blogspot.com

February 18 ~ Amy Sinibaldi of nanaCompany.typepad.com

A fabulous Adelaide sundress

Well the summer has passed by in a blur.  Our family was away at the beach for most of it and the weather was fabulous for a change.

We had lovely days out on the bay, swimming off boats and catching up with friends.  It was blissful.  

Isabella variation in Liberty

There were some Townmouse items to be spotted on Adelaide to be sure.  Above is one of my favourites: the Isabella top variation in a very pretty Liberty.

But in my haste to escape to the beach, I forgot to share with you a very clever version of the Adelaide sundress made by Nicola before Christmas, showcased on her sewing blog CreatNic.

Createnic adelaide dress

Nicola also shared this fabulous dress on the Townmouse Patterns Facebook Group (have you joined?).

If you have your own lovely creation made from Townmouse patterns we'd love to see it on the Facebook Group page.

Also take a peek at Nicola's Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top on her gorgeous daughter too.

Christmas Stocking pattern

Can you believe we are already in December?

It's high time I mentioned there is a (not-so) new pattern in my Etsy store for the very popular Christmas Stocking.

Christmas stocking

This stocking is the perfect size to hold a few treasures on Christmas morning.  It has a hanging loop with button closure so you can loop it through a fireplace mantle bracket or door handle. The stocking is lined for extra strength.

These were such popular items when I sold them as part of my range.  I still have customers asking me about them as their family has grown and they need another stocking for another wee bub.

There are so many ways you can personalise these.  A linen version would be lovely with a cross stitched initial. Armed with some waste canvas and a few cross stitch motifs you could add snowflakes or other Christmassy details.

You could use up your favourite fabric scraps and do a patchwork cuff instead of the pictured gingham.

This would also be a fun project for children to practice their sewing skills on.