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?

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

January 26 ~ Kerry Goulder of

January 27 ~ Cheri Lehnow of

January 28 ~ Sharon Holland of

January 29 ~ Jemima Flendt of

January 30 ~ Michelle Curtis of

February 1 ~ Christina Egner of

February 2 ~ Ali Brorsen of

February 3 ~ Kristine Lempriere of

February 4 ~ Nicole Young of

February 5 ~ Lori Landenburger of

February 6 ~ Jennifer Chon of

February 8 ~ Melissa LeRay of

February 9 ~ Megan Jimanez of

February 10 ~ Faith Essenburg of

February 11 ~ Renee Lange of

February 12 ~ Sedef Imer of

February 13 ~ Kristyne Czepuryk of

February 15 ~ Heather Andrus of

February 16 ~ Stacy Olson of

February 17 ~ Erin Cox of

February 18 ~ Amy Sinibaldi of

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.

New Cuffed Pants Pattern

October went by in a blur of travel and general business.  Will and I managed to head away on holiday to Morocco, which was divine.  On the way home he had a couple of meetings in Copenhagen and Prague so we had two nights apiece in those cities.  Copenhagen was my favourite and we can't wait to go back and explore more of Scandinavia.

Now it seems like the end of the year is rapidly approaching. 

Chloe Cooper Cuff Pants

I snuck this pants pattern into my store a few weeks ago. It and the Adelaide sundress have been the most popular patterns according to my store stats.  I love this pattern. Adelaide lived in these when she was a toddler.  I found them indispensable and the perfect solution when she was crawling.

Cuffed pants blue

They feature two back pocket options - a gathered pocket and a plainer pocket - so that when their bottoms are in the air as bubs scoot around on the floor there is a cute detail to see.

Cuffed pants white

These pants take no time to make, with no tricky closures. You don't even have to sew buttonholes, as the button closure on the cuff is faux.

Chloe cuffed pants denim

A denim pair with Liberty cuff and pocket would be rather fun to make.

Cuffed pants cord

These baby cord ones were snuggly and warm for winter.

Cuffed pants pink winter

A number of people have asked me about the little white top featured in the first and fourth photo.  It's on the list of patterns to publish but won't be available until next year.  The Matilda Gypsy Top starts in size 6 months and is a cute top to pair with the cuffed pants.

I've paired them together in my store with 10% off when you buy the two together.

When you sew the pants, please share your finished garments in the Townmouse Patterns Facebook Group. We'd love to see your work.

Pattern Swap with Hello Holli Patterns

I'm enjoying sewing patterns from other independent designers lately. Adelaide's wardrobe has definitely expanded recently with my spate of sewing.

Gorgeous Holli from Hello Holli and I are doing a pattern swap this month. She launched her fabulous Blue Ridge Dress around the same time I launched my first pattern.

The thing that struck me about this dress when I first saw all the pretty pictures of it, is how well it suits a young girl's shape or posture. The bodice line that comes up at the front is just perfect on a young girl who has a tummy that pops out (which Adelaide still does at 6 because she enjoys her food).

Hello Holli 5

Adelaide loves this dress.  She keeps asking to wear it.

Hello Holli 4

When she loves a dress it often goes back on after bath-time and becomes a nightie as well.

Hello Holli 1

This pattern has beautifully written and laid out instructions and the fit was perfect.  I simply measured Adelaide's height and chose the corresponding size.

Hello Holli 2

If you haven't tried a pattern from an independent pattern designer yet, the Blue Ridge Dress is a great place to start. This is a failsafe pattern that is easy to sew with lovely results. 

Hello holli 3

There are lots of ways you can combine fabrics with this pattern too.  I've seen many finished Blue Ridge Dresses that are made up with 3 fabrics.  I'm looking forward to making another with some shirting fabric and maybe white trim.  Lots of possibilities.

Pattern swap townmouse

Holli has sewn the Adelaide sundress, so pop over to Holli's blog to see her Pattern Swap.

More summer sewing

Will has taken the boys to a friend's farm for a few days so I've had plenty of time for sewing.  Adelaide has joined me in the attic studio and has made a skirt for her teddy.

Isabella pattern in blue Liberty 4

While tidying up fabric I came across this recent Liberty purchase and decided then and there that I had to make it into something.

Isabella pattern in blue Liberty 7

I made the Isabella variation. Did you know that when you buy the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top you get a bonus second file that includes this version as well?

Isabella pattern in blue Liberty 5

It's a little warmer today so Adelaide was happy to explore the garden in summer clothes.

Isabella pattern in blue Liberty 6

She was wary of a pile of slaters we unearthed near the side gate so is looking a bit tentative here.

Isabella pattern in blue Liberty 9

I might even have enough of this fabric left over to make a little frilled bikini bottom.

Isabella pattern in blue Liberty 11

See more pretty garments here.