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July 2015

Shirring and gathering

Yesterday was wild and wooly in Melbourne.  The wind howled and rattled the doors and windows in my attic studio.  I had the Count of Monte Cristo for company via Audible while I did a little summer sewing.

Shirred blue shorts

This is a pattern from early Townmouse days - circa 2003.  It hasn't seen the light of day since then.  But shorts are perfect to scoot around a boat deck in, so Adelaide will wear these when we go away in September.

I think the shirring makes them a little more interesting than a standard pair of gathered shorts.

Shirred shorts detail

You could really do this to any pair of shorts that use a waistband casing for elastic.  I turned the top of the shorts over by 6mm, then another 3.5cm (as you would to make a casing for 1 inch wide elastic).  I did my first row of stitching to catch the hem of the casing, then continued adding further rows of stitching that were one foot width or quarter inch apart.

Then with a little time to spare before school pick-up I found a remnant of pretty Liberty Lawn from my first Townmouse season in 2002. I love this pretty print that I think is called Meadow.

Frilled bikini

It's a little hard to make out what this is, but it's a bikini bottom with a little frill across the back.

Frilled bikini detail

Again I used my favourite foot on my trusty Husqvarna - the rolled hem foot - to hem the band of frill.  

Now I will be on the hunt for a plain white or pink rash vest to go over these to protect skin from our harsh Australian sun.


Suz from Sew Pony sews the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top

Today I have another cute version of the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top to show you.

Sewpony Isabella

Suz and I did a little pattern exchange.  I sewed her gorgeous Dear Prudence pattern a few weeks ago.

Today on her blog Suz is showing us her version of the Isabella top. I love the pink binding on the sleeves and neck.

Pop over to the Sew Pony blog to see more pictures, and to pick up the coupon code for 15% off my patterns.  And while we're on the subject of Sew Pony, can I just say how I love that name.  I think Sew Pony is such a clever play on words and perfect for a blog all about sewing and patterns.

Thanks Suz and daughter Issie for showcasing such a cute version of my pattern.

Monogrammed towels

A bit of a break from garment making today to do a little necessary crafting for the home.

Monogrammed towels

There's been a bit of squabbling amongst the boys about who is using whose towel. (Hmm, just had to look that grammar up.)

This isn't the first time I've been known to monogram a towel - I do love a monogram.  This time, I worked out where on the towel to put the letter so it would work when the towels are hanging up.

Of course it's never going to look this neat when the boys do it.  More than likely the towels will be in a damp heap on the bathroom floor, post shower.

Monogrammed towels detail

This font is Times New Roman at 598 pt.  I increased the font size until the letters just fitted one to a page.  To save printer ink I recommend putting the letters in outline mode.  Use some Heat'n'Bond Lite to adhere the letters.  Here's a uTube video explaining the technique.

Superfine bias binding as pocket trim

Yesterday was a very productive day in the studio.  I finished four garments. The first is in the previous post, the second one I posted on Instagram, the third was a sample for an upcoming pattern release.

The last one, coming in at around 1am, was a sundress for Adelaide.  I couldn't stare at my pretty pile of fabrics from Amitie any longer, without cutting into them.  This delayed bedtime by several hours.

When I can't find a ribbon in my stash to go with a fabric I rather like the look of superfine bias binding.

Superfine bias binding 2

This binding is made using a clover bias tape maker and this binding comes out at one eighth of an inch wide.  It's too fine to tuck the ends in so I just knot them and snip off any frayed ends.

Superfine bias binding 3

See what other people are sewing here for Show and Tell Tuesday on the Fresh Squeezed Fabrics blog.

Fresh Squeezed


Dressmaking shortcuts

Does anyone else do this?

I always use the selvage of a fabric for any centre back seam in the clothing I sew.

Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top in Flower Sugar

I do this for two reasons.  Firstly, I'd rather look at the selvage of a fabric than an overlocked cut edge. Secondly, it's one less step in the making of a garment so it saves time.

Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top in Flower Sugar centre back seam

Oh, and I guess there's a third bonus reason sometimes, in that you get a record of the fabric used if you happen to cut up the right section of fabric.

What shortcuts do you have?

Exquisite Japanese Embroidery

Recently I couldn't resist ordering a few craft books from Amazon Japan. One that I received, called "Stitch Diary of Four Seasons" is absolutely stunning.

Stitch Diary of Four Seasons

It features very pretty embroidery designs by the talented Japanese artist Kazuko Aoki.

Stitch diary of four seasons 1

I really must do more of this detailed sort of embroidery before my eyes age and I find it all too hard.

Stitch diary of four seasons 5

These images are just so cute they make me want to get stitching straight away.

Stitch diary of four seasons 3

You wouldn't want to touch this with hands straight from the potting shed.

Stitch diary of four seasons 4

The book includes these stunning wreaths - one for each season.

Stitch diary of four seasons 2

These are so unbelievably pretty.

Stitch diary of four seasons 7

What is even better is that, as always, there are instructions in the back.

Stitch diary of four seasons 8

I don't speak or read Japanese, but I can make out the initials DMC, and lots of numbers beside each element of the design, so I'm guessing these are thread colours. How fabulous. Then if you match up the Japanese characters to the same on the stitch glossary page, you know what stitch to use.

Stitch diary of four seasons 6

There's just never enough time to do all these pretty projects.


The Dear Prudence dress pattern by Sew Pony

In between playing with my own PDF patterns I was very fortunate to sew a beautiful dress pattern made by the very clever Suz at Sew Pony.  I've followed her blog for a while and enjoyed watching her little girls romp in the country setting in her pretty sewn creations.

Suz has recently launched a new pattern called the Dear Prudence Dress. This is a very clever dress pattern.

Dear Prudence by Townmouse 2

I thought the nostalgic style of the dress was perfect for Liberty (what little girl's dress pattern isn't?).

Dear Prudence dress

This dress has lots of pretty details.  There are deep pockets in the skirt which are piped to match the collar.

Dear Prudence from Townmouse

There is a pretty shirred detail at the front neck which, with some additional hidden elastic in the front neckband, does away with the need for button or zip closures.  Genius!

Dear Prudence by Townmouse 3

Despite being the middle of winter here, Adelaide was very happy with the dress and I'm sure it will be a favourite this summer.

Pop over to Suz's Sew Pony blog to see all the other pretty Dear Prudence dresses that are being made around the world. You can also see more photos here in her flickr group.

You can get 15% off the pattern with the coupon code PRUDENCE15 for the next little while, so pop over to the SewPonyVintage Etsy store to get started.

A variation of the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top - A Bonus PDF Pattern

I've had fun playing around with the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top pattern to make a variation on the design.

This is similar to one I made earlier.

Isabella flutter sleeve top pattern

Here it is with the skirt I gave you a sneak peak of yesterday. The skirt is a simple gathered skirt with an elastic waist at the back and flat waistband at the front.  It pulls on, has deep pockets and a change in stripe direction around the hem.

Striped skirt front

This is one of the fabrics I picked up at Amitie on Monday - the first one I cut into. The pockets are lined in a sunny yellow fabric for a bit of contrast (and because I was running out of fabric).

Striped skirt pocket bag

But lets get back to the top.

Isabella variation sleeve detail

This white fabric is a beautiful Oxford shirting cotton from Italy.  It's the same fabric I used here. The fabric is left over from Townmouse clothing production and I have about 6 metres still on the roll that I save for special projects.

Something else that I've been saving for a special project is the cotton picot edging on the ruffle. This was a purchase in Paris and I wish I'd bought triple the amount.  I'd love to use it on everything and it's very hard to find. (If anyone knows where to get it please let me know.)

Isabella variation sleeve detail 2

I think I'm loving this version of the Isabella top more than the original.

Isabella variation

So I've drafted up some instructions on how to modify the original pattern to achieve this style.  All the lovely customers who have already purchased the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top pattern now have this additional PDF file in their Inbox.

All new purchases of the pattern will automatically include this additional information. So you get two designs in the one purchase. So if you haven't already been tempted to try the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top pattern, maybe now you will be?

Pretty fabrics

After returning from over two weeks away on holidays yesterday I couldn't resist a quick visit to Amitie Textiles. I hadn't been there in ages.  

I didn't have long because there was no food in the house, the children hadn't had lunch and were all starving and I had no idea about what to serve for dinner.  I knew prioritising fabric over food/starving children wasn't right - but when the sewing bug bites...

New Amitie fabrics

I came home with this little pile of loveliness. We opted for takeaway, and after tucking my babies into bed I headed to the attic.

Striped Skirt detail

Adelaide now has a new skirt for summer.  I have a top planned to go with it, so will show you more detail when the full outfit is complete.

Now it's off to the supermarket for me.

A Townmouse Pattern by Nana Company

Well I'm extremely flattered that Amy from Nana Company has chosen the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top as the pattern to inspire her first attempt at making children's wear from a pattern.

Isabella Top by NanaCompany

I'm sure nobody reading here is a stranger to Amy's incredible and inspiring stitchery. If you haven't heard of Nana Company, put the kettle on and prepare to spend a good while reading her beautiful blog. It will be your new favourite find!

Amy is a crafter extraordinaire - she makes quilts, zakka and all manner of stitched wonder.  Her stitching and hand embroidery is perfection. Amy has embroidery and craft project patterns for sale in her Etsy Shop and she has published a book called Sweetly Stitched Handmade. Basically there is no end to her crafting talent, and now she can add children's clothes to her repertoire.

Amy is busy working on secret projects (which can only be good for us yes?) so I'm thrilled that she's taken time out of her other commitments to sew my pattern.  Thanks Amy.  I hope this won't be the last garment you make for your girls.  You can't stop at one - it's too cute.

Next stop Portugal with S is for Sewing

Today another of my favourite bloggers, the very talented seamstress Ana Sofia from S is for Sewing, is showing us her Townmouse creations. I  followed Ana Sofia's flickr stream for years before she started her blog.  So I was so happy when she did start a blog.  I had favourited so many of her photos, as we share very similar taste in children's clothes. I always love everything she sews and I'm always fascinated by what she sews next and the patterns she uses to get such pretty results.

Ana Sofia has two Isabella Flutter Sleeve Tops and two Matilda Gypsy Tops to show you.

Isabella by S is for Sewing

Please visit her lovely blog to see all her versions. This one, in probably my favourite Liberty of all time - Betsy - is  my cup of tea exactly. As I expected I love Ana Sofia's fabric choices and the tops look lovely on her daughter.