Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Making PJs

I needed some new, modest PJ's for a trip away so I set out to make them myself...

I found an online pattern for boxer shorts and printed it up. The pattern was slightly too small for me, so I measured it and adjusted the size. (Online patterns can be a little tedious to work with, but if you want to save money, they are the way to go!)

The pictures below are from the finished articles of clothing with notes as to their construction. I find it difficult not owning an overlocker or serger, but I am becoming fairly adept at finishing seams in more couture ways as a result.

PJ top finished: a simple sleeveless, yoked pattern
PJ pants finished: a simple boxer short pattern

Pocket on the back of shorts
French seam detail inside the shorts

Flat felled seam detail in crotch of shorts

Waistband facing for elastic 

Yoke detail at the front neckline

Machine overlocking stitched down inside the front yoke
Self bias binding to finish off neckline and armholes

Flat felled seams down sides of PJ shirt with bias binding on armhole

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Silver and White Christmas

I love Christmas, and I love the preparations for it.... making sweets, decorating and listening to all the Christmas music that I can find. Christmas is a beautiful time of year from remembering family and friends, for celebrating and most importantly, for remembering the birth of Jesus Christ. I have pulled together some images below to inspire decorating for a white Christmas. Where I live, Christmas is very hot, so I love the illusion that white and silver decorations give!

 Nothing could be prettier than a lovely dress from Christmas Eve and Christmas day to suit the occaision. White, red and silver make a wonderful, festive combination for Christmas clothing!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cute Apron Pattern

It can be hard to find just the thing you're looking for when shopping, especially if you have a budget. I needed an apron as I don't have one and am always slopping sauce on my clothes when I'm cooking. So I had a look in my fabric box and came up with some lovely pieces large enough to make into an (essentially free) apron. The pink flowered fabric came from a trip to Thailand and is a beautiful example of their batik printed fabrics. I had originally made it into a wrap skirt which I never wore, so here it is, remade once again!

-1 m of fabric (approx)
-30 cm of contrasting fabric
-Sewing machine and threads


  1. Cut out fabric to the measurements you require. I measured the fabric on my body to determine how long and wide I wanted various parts. My measurements (includes seam allowances) were: apron skirt panel 70 cm x 55 cm, apron bodice 32 cm x 26 cm, neck strap 60 cm x 8 cm and apron waist tie 140 cm x 8 cm. 
  2. Turn over the edges on the apron skirt sides and bottom twice to finish them neatly. Turn over the sides of the apron bodice twice to finish them neatly. Turn the top of the apron bodice over once and stitch in place. 
  3. Sew down the length of the apron neck strap and turn right side out. Press flat. Pin it behind the apron bodice facing down and stitch in place. Turn the apron bodice top down one more time to enclose the raw edges and the ends of the neck strap. The neck strap will still be facing downwards, so fold it up to face upwards and stitch the two straps in place. I chose to do this using a decorative stitch across the top of my apron.
  4. Create pleats/gathers in the apron skirt to desired width and style. I used 6 small pleats facing away from the centre. Stitch these in place and iron. 
  5. Measure the width of the skirt top. Mine came to 46 cm. Create the waist band now, sewing across the end and down towards the centre. Stop when you get to 23 cm from the centre and end off. Do the same from the other end of the waistband. You should now have a centred gap of 46 cm, large enough to insert your apron skirt into the waistband. Turn the waistband through and iron flat, make sure to iron the section that is not stitched shut, turning under the seam allowance. 
  6. Fit the apron skirt into the waistband, pushing in as far as it will go. Pin in place. Take the apron bodice and pin it in on the other side (wrong sides together), making sure to centre in on the apron skirt. Pin all layers carefully in place and stitch from one side of the apron skirt across to the other, catching all layers together and closing the open seam in the waistband in one go. Again I used a decorative stitch as I didn't have any thread in the correct colour! 
  7. Your apron is almost complete, but the apron bodice will me hanging down towards the ground instead of facing upwards. Pin the bodice up against the waist band and sew across the top once more, securing it in place!
  8. You could finish here, but I decided that I wanted the apron to sit nicely across my chest, so I created little darts to give the bodice shaping over the bust and improve the fit!
  9. Enjoy clean clothes after cooking!! 

See images below for clarification on certain points. Sorry I didn't take photos during construction!

Waistband with decoration and pleats

Completed apron

Small darts at bust to help with fitting

Inside view. Note how the neck strap and bodice have been turned upwards and stitched in place.

Detail inside the waistband with bodice turned upwards

back view of the darts at the bust and turned up neck strap

A lovely fit!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Gift Idea: Decorative Pillow Case

I wanted to make my little sister something special for her birthday as she is leaving home to go and live in another state. I decided on a decorative pillow case as she can have it with her to think of home while she is away!

-30 cm of fabric in 4 colours
-1 m white fabric (for back)
-sewing thread
-embroidery thread

Pretty prints in cotton

Pink flowers on yellow!


1. I started by measuring an old pillow case to get an idea of the size and amount of material needed. The measurements came back as 72 cm long, 48 cm wide. Using a 1 cm seam allowance, the cut pieces needed to be 74 cm x 50 cm. I cut out the back piece of the pillow case and another white piece for the lining of the patchwork section. I then cut a piece 50 cm x 25 cm for the flap that closes over the end of the pillow. 

2. I then created the pattern pieces for my patchwork squares. I decided to do a kind of crazy patchwork with pieces of all different sizes, so I cut some large and small squares and two different sized rectangles. These were measured carefully so that when pieced together they would match for 1 cm seam allowances. The measurements of these pieces were:

Layout of pillow case
Pattern pieces

Small square: 12 cm x 12 cm (for a 10 cm square)
Large square: 22 cm x 22 cm (for a 20 cm square)
Small rectangle: 22 cm x 12 cm (for a 20 x 10 cm rectangle)
Large rectangle: 32 cm x 12 cm (for a 30 x 10 cm rectangle)

I then carefully worked out a layout of the pattern so that I could sew each seam easily with no complicated corners (this is very important!) and counted the amount of each type I should cut out.

3. I cut out the fabric and laid it out so that I could make sure no same colour was directly next to another piece of that colour. This part was rather tricky and took a lot of rearranging until I was happy with the final arrangement.

My final arrangement

4. Starting with the bottom corner, I began sewing the pieces together, making sure that the order in which I sewed always made it possible to join them to another piece. For example, matching pieces of same length together such as the green and flowered pieces in the bottom left corner above. You cannot match the purple and green in the top left corner without first sewing the small flowered and purple squares to the large green square first. after sewing each seam I pressed the seam open at the back to create a neat, flat reverse side.

Pressed seams

Final product front view

Final product back view

5. After finishing the patchwork, I stitched the lining section to the front and ran some quilting stitches down down of the seam lines to hold the lining and front together.

6. Using some white embroidery thread, I stitched some words and shapes onto some of the empty quilt squares to personalise the pillow case. I used the words faith, hope and love and stitched some hearts. I then used the decorative stitch functions of my sewing machine and ran some cute stitches down some of the larger empty squares of the quilting.

7. After finishing the decorating, I stitched the pillow cover strip to the right side of the pillow case front. As I have no overlocker or serger, I use a seam technique (french seam) that completely hides the frayed edges, but uses a little extra fabric in the seam. For french seams, first sew the seam wrong sides together, and then trim. Them turn the fabric right sides together and sew the seam again, completely encasing the previous seam. Try this link for better instruction on french seams! Sew the pillow case front and back together now, using the same french seam technique.

8. Press and you have a beautiful, decorative pillow case!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Pfaff ambition 1.0 Review

Fantastic lighting!
The other day my sewing machine (mum's old one that was about 25 years old) died and so my husband let me spend on a lovely new one! I am used to sewing on a semi industrial Bernina, so my expectations of a new machine were very high as I set off to find a replacement. There are many different brands on the market these days from Brother to Toyota with a broad range of prices to go with them. The cheapest machines appear to start around the $200 mark and head way up into the $1,000s. My local sewing centre had the range all set out for me to see and try. Initially I was after another Bernina, but I quickly realised that they are the most expensive and exclusive of all the sewing machines with the most basic machine  starting at about $1,100. I wanted to spend under $1,000 so I started thinking seriously about the next best machine brand, Pfaff. The Pfaff Ambition 1.0 is modern and highly functional. In it's price range it is the best of the sewing machines on offer. After some thought, I excitedly bought my machine and began to experiment. My findings are recorded below.

PFAFF ambition 1.0

- IDT (Integrated Dual Feed) System provides even feed of fabric from both the bottom feed dog and a top feeder. It is part of the machine and can be engaged or disengaged at any time. Many of the different presser feet can be used with the IDT System such as the zipper foot and some specialised stitch feet.
- The most spacious sewing area among competitor machines at this price. It has a long free arm and large space between the needle and right side, perfect for large projects such as quilts and dress making.
- Fantastic lighting on the entire sewing area as shown in the picture above. This machine was literally the only one in the sewing centre that had a well light sewing area and wouldn't need an additional light source such as a lamp to sew with!
- 136 different stitches for you to use and play with including general use stitches, quilting stitches, satin stitches, cross stitches, button holes and decorative stitches. It also comes with an alphabet setting.
- 29 needle positions for precision.
- The ability to sequence up to 20 stitches or letters in a pattern.
- Two accessory trays for storing bobbins, feet and other tools
- 6 feet attachments including 0A Standard foot, 1A Fancy foot with IDT, 2A Fancy foot, 3 Blindhem foot with IDT, 4 zipper foot with IDT, 5B one step buttonhole foot.
- Many other standard features that come with most modern sewing machines such as top loading bobbin, hard cover, adjustable thread tension, free motion sewing, high resolution screen, speed control and a needle threader.

Stitch Examples
Below are some examples of the stitch quality of the machine. I haven't given an example of all the possible stitches, but the images give a good representation. Generally the stitches as neat and clean with no puckering of the fabric. The zigzag stitch  shows some side ways puckering, but this is due to the fine cotton fabric (with no facing) and slightly high thread tension. The overlocking stitch is great for someone who doesn't own an overlocker (but very slow!).

Some of the utility stitches
Some quilting and cross stitches
 These satin stitches would look amazing in rayon embroidery thread on a special project. I am very impressed with the selection of decorative stitches on the machine. The possibilities are almost endless as the machine has a mirroring capability, allowing it to mirror decorative stitches side to side and end to end.

Some satin stitches
A selection of the decorative stitches

Alphabet stitches


Overall I am very pleased with my new purchase. I have sewn several different project, ranging from clothing  to baby essentials to toys and mending since swapping machines and have quickly adjusted to the slight differences in operation to the Bernina.
The computerised system is straight forward and easy to use though it definitely pays to read through the instruction booklet while working out how to use different stitches and functions. The machine is very helpful when changing stitches as it provides all the needful information about thread tension, presser foot type, IDT system, and whether reinforcement is needed on the display screen before you begin sewing. This has prevented me from using the wrong foot for some fancy stitches and possibly damaging my machine.
The machine speed settings are great for anyone from a beginner sewer who needs to move slowly to an experienced seamstress who just wants the job done fast.


I have virtually no negative feedback on this machine. So far it has preformed very well for me (having completed several projects utilising different sewing techniques). I have a few minor concerns and I have listed them below.
The presser feet of the Pfaff Ambition 1.0 clip up into the shaft of the foot. This makes for easy swapping of feet for different stitches, as you simply pull down on the foot and it un-clips and press up to clip the new foot in place. This does concern me a little though as the mechanism may not last a long time with constant clipping and un-clipping. Luckily the machine has a 2 year warranty for all parts.

While using the font setting of the machine for writing I have found that you cannot turn off the function without switching the machine off to reset it. I have tried many different ways of cancelling the font after using it, but none of them so far have resulted in another stitch coming up to sew with. This may be some strange glitch in the machine as even the instructions do not show how to cancel the font stitch once it is selected. Maybe it's a user error??

I am very pleased to say that changing to a Pfaff has been a pleasure and I will no longer remain an exclusively Bernina fan. There is much more that can be said for the machine, and I may do so at some later date when I have tried out some of the more advanced functions. For now, be content to know that if you go ahead and purchase a Pfaff Ambition 1.0, I don't think you will be disappointed!