Wyld Chic Boutique

5 Mar

Wyld Chic Boutique

Please visit my new website called Wyld Chic Boutique, where I post tutorials, my latest creations and sewing patterns! If you like what you see please don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE my facebook page at

Moving Blogs

5 Feb

Hello dear readers,

After a month of indecision, I’ve decided to move to Blogger at I’ve been humming and harring about doing it for some time and have decided to take the plunge. I’m sad that I’m leaving, because I really enjoyed writing here, and having people  post comments. I love the design of this blog, and the ease of posting. However, I’ve always felt limited by the fact that WordPress does not allow JAVA based scripts or widgets. It seems a small thing, but I’ve wanted to put up Patternreview widgets, Amazon wishlist widgets, and other miscellaneous things.  WordPress has been good to me, but I want more than it can offer.  So it’s goodbye, sayonara.

For readers who are suscribed to this blog, please consider suscribing to the new blog. You can do so by clicking Suscribe to Posts on the left sidebar.

Three Maternity Summer Tops

31 Jan

It’s been a super hot week. It  was 42 degrees Celsius today, about the same yesterday, but will go down to 33 degrees tomorrow. I’ve been itching to sew, and thought it would be a good time to make some summer tops to go over the burgeorning bump.

I ran through some designs in my head, and remembered this Vogue Patterns Anna Sui V2850 top which I fell in love with some time ago and decided that it would be perfect converted into a maternity top.

I love the version with the neck flounce. I had a black, loose weave, chiffon-like polyester material in my stash that I bought from Spotlight just for it.

As usual, I drafted my own pattern. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any drafting or construction pictures (it was too hot and I was lazy…) The pattern had to be quick and easy, with lots of room for the baby bump. I didn’t want any darts or closures, so it had to fit over my head easily, but not gape at the neckline. I didn’t really follow the technical stylelines of the Vogue pattern. It was primarily the neck flounce that I wanted to copy.

When I got to work with the fabric, I decided to take it slow, and handsew. It was extremely unstable, stretching everywhere because of its loose weave. The fabric had to be underlined with something, but I didn’t have anything suitable, since the fabric had a bit of stretch. The only thing I had on hand was a red tricot, so I used that. I quite like the effect of the black on the red. The tricot is a bit shiny, but is toned down under the black chiffon, so it looks rather sneakingly snazzy.

It was a good thing I decided to handsew the tricot underlining to the chiffon. It stabilised it, so I was able to eliminate facings on the neckline and armhole. After all the seams were handsewn, I overlocked the edges with a 4-thread overlock. And neck flounce and hemlines are roll hemmed.

This top came together very quickly because there was no darts, no facings, no closures. I’m really pleased with this top. Here’s a couple more views.

I like it with or without the belt. And it looks quite like the Vogue one I think.

Because this one came so easily together, I decided to use up some other fabric in my stash on this same patter, but with different sleeves. My mum had brought over some nice summery fabrics from Malaysia, and I thought they’d be perfect.

I sketched some designs with the same bodice pattern, but with different sleeves, and decided to cut out two garments at once to save time. I made one with a circular sleeve flounce, and one with a triple cap sleeve.

This one is a very light polyester print with a raised texture, similar to a seersucker. I love how the sleeves came out.

The sleeve flounce was roll-hemmed, and the neckline bias-bound.

I used the Banded V-Neck on Woven Fabric technique described in Lynda Maynard’s The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques. I’ve fallen in love with bias bound finishes. I used to think that it was really hard to cut bias strips out without a rotary cutter and mat, but I actually do them quite well just with scissors. And I also used to think that it was fiddly to bind an opening, compared to sewing in a facing, but I have to say that bias bound finishes are so much neater than a facing, doesn’t flip up, and they just look so good. I’ve been using them on everything lately.

This is the third top I made.

I really like this one too. I’ve been wanting to try out the triple sleeve effect on something. Looks pretty cute. Without the belt, it’s quite casual, but I love both looks. Again, I used self-bias binding on the neckline, and the the lower armhole.

Three tops in a week is my best sewing record to date. I love quick projects! (Ones that turn out all right.)

I’m probably going to make more maternity tops with this pattern, since it’s so easy, and quite the TNT (tried and true) pattern. I’ll just have to think up some different neckline and sleeve treatments to make them all distinctive.

I’m not sure which is my favourite top-Wyld Man can’t decide either. Which one do you like best?

Incidentally, I didn’t finished roll-hemming my black top till after the two others were done. When I did the neck flounce, my overlocker needle broke, and now my overlocker won’t sew properly anymore. Boohoo….I’ll have to send it away for a lookover. Hopefully that won’t take too long and I can get some more tops done soon!

Also, I’m moving blogs soon to WordPress is good, but they do restrict Java-based widgets, which I find limiting. Blogger gives you more freedom. I’ll be double-posting here in the mean time while I get the new blog up and moving. It’s not complete yet, but do tell me what you think of the new blog.

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Dining Room Makeover: Champagne Taste, Beer Budget

16 Jan

We first got the keys to our house about a month before we got married, which was almost 2 years ago. The  walls and ceilings were looking a bit dingy, so we decided that a lick of paint was in order. We managed to paint the lounge, bedrooms and hallways in the month before the wedding, with some help from family and friends.

However, the room that was to be the dining room was covered in awful 70’s fake wood panelling, which we thought we’d rip out one day and redo with new gyp-rock. So we left it as it was, because we didn’t have time nor money then to have it fixed. The said room looked really seedy, with a bare hanging bulb, and a huge carpet-covered pinboard which hid two large holes that once housed an air-con and a heater. The wall panelling was bowing out in places and ready peel off the wall because the glue had perished. The ceilings had a yellowed, aged look which made us suspect that they were smokers and all that smoke had nowhere to go but up. So, we hated the room but bore with it.

Then last weekend, when Wyld Man was still on his last week of holidays, we decided (well…Wyld Man maintains that I decided and roped him in to do it)  that it was time to do something about the darn room. And we had a deadline. Not only was that the last week of holidays, we were having our housed blessed by our priest on the coming Saturday (yesterday), and he was staying for dinner. So that clinched it. We had a week to do something about it, and we had to have it done by Saturday.

Now, I’ve always maintained that the fake wood panelling could be painted over for a quick and cheap fix, instead of having everything ripped out and replastered.  But Wyld Man had to be persuaded-he was of the old school and didn’t believe that it could be painted until I showed him some pictures online of rooms which had the same thing done with great results. He did agree in the end-phew! Now I had to come up with a concept. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, but we couldn’t decide nor agree on colour. So we proceeded to prep the walls, but without a clear idea of what colour scheme to go with.But  I did know that I wanted red curtains, and a certain mirror from Ikea.

The first thing we did was to get rid of the old pinboard-(the very one which I’ve using to showcase some of my earlier creations-you can go back to earlier posts to have a look). Wyld Man unscrewed it off the wall, and we discovered two large ugly holes, and a wood panel missing. Which was a big inconvenience. Here it is in all it’s glory.

I don’t have a proper before picture, but you get the idea from here.

Wyld Man decided to get a BIG, SCARY circular saw and use it to cut  a couple of square panels to fit over the holes, and to cover the wood panel. I love a man with power tools. *sigh* There’s something primal about it.

That’s one problem covered.But I should have taken pictures of Wyld Man with his circular saw. Darn.

Because one wall had the panelling bowing out rather severely, Wyld Man thought it would help if he nailed in a waist height decorative moulding, which would also give a colour break between the walls, giving us more options. This wasn’t in the plan in the beginning-but we thought it was a good idea.

The next picture shows both holes covered, and all the nail holes, imperfections, scratches and what-nots puttied up and sanded down by yours truly. You can see the moulding along the walls and the ceiling.

Next up, the walls had to be washed once with Sugar Soap and then that washed away with water. Sugar soap is powerful stuff-it strips off 20-year-old adhesive marks on the walls, dirt, grime and grease with not much elbow grease needed.I also taped around all the edges and over frames and skirting boards with masking tape and newspaper.

Then we had to prime the walls with a special primer-one that would adhere to the vinylly wood panelling without peeling off. The hardware store recommended Zinsser Primer, which you can use on anything- laminates, plastics, even glass. However, we neglected to prime the ceiling, which in hindsight we should have, because it gave us lots of problems.

We started ripping things down on Monday, but we had lots of false starts and delays, lots of prep work, getting hand and power tools, so only got to priming on Thursday, by which time we were freaking out that we weren’t able to get it finished in time for Saturday. We’d left the colour decision till Friday, because we couldn’t agree on a colour. I wanted something like a muted-beige-brown-green, which Wyld Man said doesn’t exist. And I wasn’t hot on his colour choice either. In the end, we settled on a compromise-Dulux Stonecrop, which is a sort of khaki brown.

On Friday morning, I started to do the cornices while Wyld Man went to get the Stonecrop paint. For the rest of the paintwork,  we decided to use some leftover paint from when we first bought the house, Wattyl’s Ceiling White on the ceiling, and Ivory Vapour on the lower walls. However, we ran out of ceiling white because I had to do the cornices 4 times before we were satisfied, by which time there wasn’t much left for the ceiling, which needed another 2 coats at least. And we realised that if that was the case, we’d have to get another colour for the lower walls, because the Ivory Vapour we had definitely wasn’t enough. That meant another colour run to the hardware store, and I made a quick decision from the same series that Stonecrop came in, Shell White for the lower walls, and Fair Bianca Half for the ceiling. And yes, we had to do the ceiling and cornices one more time.

When I came back from getting more paint, Wyld Man had edged in the Stonecrop which you can see above. And. I. Was. Not. Very. Pleased. With. It. It was a very odd colour, I thought. But it was too late now go back. I don’t think they take returns on tinted paint cans. We forged ahead, hoping for the best.

We worked and worked into the night-at 2 am, we had finished painting. Finished! Finally!

On Saturday morning, I went to Spotlight to get my curtains, and Wyld Man put up the mirror and the light fittings.

Drumroll please….

Another view.

The colour didn’t come up too bad after all! It was almost what I wanted, and it went beautifully with my red curtains and gold Ikea mirror (Levanger).

All in all, it costed us around $600 for the makeover, and that’s including the mirror and the curtains. Pretty good effort I’d say. And Wyld Man got to keep his power tools too!

I’m in love with my dining room. Now, if only we can get the rest of the house to match it….

So we had Father over for the blessing and dinner. Here are some photos of the house blessing.

Father went around to all the rooms and used Epiphany water to draw a cross on all the windows whilst saying the prayers.

And on the entrance he wrote with blessed chalk the words “20+C+M+B+11”, which is the current year and the names of the three Magi:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. It also has a double meaning in latin, with C+M+B standing for  “Christus mansionem benedicat”, and in English ” May Christ Bless this house”. The blessing can be done every year, hence the incribing of the current year on the doorway, and unlike most blessings, can be performed in the absence of a priest by the father of the house. More on the Epiphany blessing here.

Well, Wyld Man is back to work tomorow, so back to the normal grind it is for the both of us. Hope you had good holidays too!

Black And White Smock/Maternity Top

23 Dec

My, it’s been a while. And 2 days till Christmas! I’ve been busy busy busy-tidying up house, getting rid of unused things, doing some spring cleaning, running after my Little Wyld Man, who isn’t so little anymore. And also, I’m pregnant again! In between getting all of these done, I managed to pull together a simple smock from a Burda magazine, using some left over material from my maternity/nursing cocktail dress.

I was itching to sew something, but was too lazy to draft from scratch, so I decided I must make something quick and simple. I had some Burda magazines from the library and this little number caught my eye.

I love the simple lines, the yoke, and the pleats, which will allow for a growing belly. This is how it was made up in the magazine-in plaid.

I wasn’t too big on it, but I really liked the stylelines, and decided to make it.

This is the pattern sheet. You have to find the correct colour codes for the  pattern which can get confusing. In this case, I’m using the patterns outlined in blue. Burda patterns come without seam allowances, so you have to add them yourself.

I traced out the pattern using some tracing paper, and added a 5/8 of an inch seam allowance. You can use anything see through that is big enough, such as cheap sew-in interfacing, or even freezer paper taped together.

I’ve cut out my pattern pieces. This is a simple pattern, so only 6 pieces altogether.  Should come together pretty quickly. I’ve labelled each piece so that you’ll know what I’m referring to below.

The pattern markings must be marked onto the fabric at this point. I used to use tailor’s tacks, but now I just make a 3/5 inch snip into the seam allowance to mark centre points, pleating points, etc.

I’ve also cut out fusible interfacing for the facing front and back pieces, as well as the yoke. The fusible interfacing I’m using is a tricot knit, which is suitable for most light and medium weight materials. The interfacing serves to stabilise the area, and by this I mean that it will stop the fabric from stretching as you sew and handle it. It also prevents wrinkles and gives a bit more body to the fabric, although you don’t want to use interfacing that is too heavy, as this will change the hand/feel of the fabric undesirably. The interfacing should be cut using the same pattern piece, or slightly smaller.

To fuse, press with an up-down motion on a steam and wool setting till it fuses to the fabric. Wait till cool before moving.

Before stitching anything together, I finish the edges with my overlocker. Or you can use a zigzag stitch with a normal sewing machine.

Here, I’ve stitched the pleats in the front first. My order of construction is always to finish the details on the front garment, piece all front pieces together, then finish back details such as the zipper, and joint the front to the back at the shoulder seams and side seams. The sleeves  and hem are last.

In stitching the pleats, the pattern markings and centre points guide me and I don’t struggle to measure the pleating afterwards. I stitch vertically at each pleat to keep the pleats together, then horizontally across the pleats and the whole neckline.

The front yoke is joined to the main front, matching the centre points in the middle. The seam allowance is pressed upwards at the back.

Here’s I’m stitching the side seams. The shoulder seams are next. When this is done, test for fit. As this was a loose smock, the fit aside from the shoulders, weren’t essential. This top was drafted with a zipper in the back. When I tried it on, I found that it slipped easily over my head and shoulders, so I decided to omit the zipper.

Press the seams open and flat.

Here, I’m stitching the back neck facings together at the centre back seam. Next the back neck facing is joined to the front neck facing at the shoulder seams.

This is what it looks like. Press the seams open and flat. Remember, sew and press as you go.

Join the facing to the main garment at the neck edge, lining shoulder seams on both facing and main garment together. Make sure the centre points of the facing matches the centre point on the main garment. Sew with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

When this is done, turn the facing underneath and this finishes the neckline edge. However, you will find that it flips upwards very inconveniently. To remedy, you’ll need to understitch.

Open up the facing, and use your fingers to press the seam allowance towards the facing. Position your needle so that it is close to the seam line, but not on it, towards the facing. Sew the seam allowances to the facing. This is called understitching. This keeps the facing from flipping up a certain extent. However, you’ll need to clip the seam allowance as per below.

Clip at 1 inch intervals, or less where there is a sharper curve. This releases the fabric and lets it lie flat when you turn the facing under. Be careful to clip close to, but not onto the stitching line.

Next, we finish the hem on the sleeve.

I’m doing a double rolled hem by hand-you can do it by a narrow hemming foot, but I wanted to try this technique instead. Turn the edge wrong sides together around 1/4 inch and sew close to the edge. Using the tailor’s awl helps immensely as the sharp point guides the hem under the presser foot.

Now turn over the second time and do the same. Press the hem flat.

Before sewing the sleeve into the armhole, you have to prepare the sleeve for ‘easing’. The sleeve cap is drafted with extra length, usually about 1-2 cm longer than the armhole. The extra fabric must be eased into the armhole without puckering. This can be a challenge, but with practice comes perfection. To prepare the sleeve, sew a gathering stitch (I use the longest stitch length) inside the seam allowance.

The pattern will have a dot/mark where easing begins. Sew from this point with big stitches. Do not backstitch. Leave a long thread length at each end.

Pull the gathering threads and gather the sleeve cap evenly. The gathers must be ‘gentle’ rather than ‘hard’.

Pin the sleeve cap onto the armhole wtih as many pins as you need. As this is a cap sleeve, and not a full sleeve, find the markings on the armhole where the sleep cap begins and ends. The 1/3 of the lower armhole will be finished with a bias binding. Stitch sleeve to armhole at 5/8 inch seam allowance.

For the bias binding, I cut 1 inch strips on the bias, 16cm in length. These need to be folded in half and pressed. As this is on the bias, it is stretchy and can be shaped into a curve by pressing, as per below.

To attach the binding to the lower armhole, pin the so that the folded edge sits 2.7cm from the armhole edge.

Why 2.7cm? Because it is 5/8 inch plus 1cm. And when you stitch it in 5/8 inch from the armhole edge,and turn the bias binding under, it will match the finished edge of the cap sleeve perfectly. Magic!

Sew 5/8 inch from the edge of the armhole, catching the middle of the bias binding.

Trim aways the ends of the binding, and the seam allowance so that only 1/4 of the bias binding remains.

Turn under and edgestitch close to the edge, making sure the stitching catches and holds the bias binding underneath. Press flat.

Hem the bottom with a double rolled hem.


Front view.

Back view.

Closeup of the front.

I’m rather pleased with this top. However, the neckline does gape a bit. So the next time I use this pattern, I’ll do a slight gaposis adjustment. But for now, Merry Christmas everyone!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Homemade Turkish Delight

23 Nov

I went to a middle-eastern store the other day and bought some handmade Turkish Delight. I’ve never come across it in Malaysia, and wondered what all the fuss was about in the Narnia film when Edmund betrays his siblings for some Turkish Delight. I tried some that day and understood. The Turkish Delight was soft but chewy and so  deliciously perfumed. Wyld Man enjoyed them so much that I decided to learn how to make them from scratch.

Making Turkish Delight isn’t that hard, as long as you follow the instructions to the letter, and have the correct tools on hand.

I got the recipe online here, but decided to make it red-food-colouring-free.

First, the lineup of ingredients.


  • Neutral tasting oil/butter (not shown)
  • 4 cups castor sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup juice (I used undiluted apple mango juice) (or omit this and just use 4 cups water)
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbs gelatine powder
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp rosewater essence
  • 4 tbs beetroot juice
  • 2 cups icing sugar

You’ll also need to set out your tools.


You’ll need :

  • baking paper (not shown)
  • whisk
  • spatula
  • sugar thermometer
  • measuring spoons and cups
  • 2 large saucepans
  • 1  28cm x 17cm slice pan

One essential tool is a sugar thermometer, which is a thermometer that clips onto your pot, with a scale showing the correct temperature to produce soft and hard forms of sugar/candy. I went and got mine specially for making Turkish Delight.

Sugar Thermometer

First off, slice the lemon in half.


Then get your macho, handsome husband to squeeze it for you with his strong hands.


Line the slice pan with baking paper with sides overhanging. To make the baking paper stick, oil the pan completely  first.

Like this

Set one saucepan on the stove, and fill with 1 cup water, 1 cup juice and 4 cups sugar and stir over low heat.

Adding sugar to juice and water

Clip on the sugar thermometer and heat till completely dissolved. Increase heat to medium and keep watch till sugar reaches 125 degrees Celsius (firmball stage) which should take about 25 minutes. Some sources say 115 degrees Celsius is enough (softball stage). At this point, I’ve got a confession to make. I copied the recipe by hand, and instead of writing 125, I wrote 25. I was 100 degrees off the mark! But mine turned out ok in the end. Phew! So do what I say, not what I do.

Stir in the 2 tbs of lemon juice and remove from heat.

Lemon Juice

Take the other saucepan and fill with the the remaining 2 cups of water, cornflour (1cup), gelatine powder (3 tbs)  and cream of tartar (1tsp).  Turn heat to low and whisk briskly to remove any lumps. Gradually increase heat to medium and keep stirring till mixture boils and thickens as per below. Do not burn. This should take about 3-5 minutes.

Miracle mix

Don’t you just love cornflour? I use it for thickening soups, tenderising meat, coating meat for frying, vanilla slice and now turkish delight. It’s a miracle powder. You can also use it under your arm as a substitute for deodorant as well as use it as baby powder. Aside from that, you can starch your white shirts with a mixture of cornflour and water instead of using commercial aerosol spray starch.

Now pour the contents of the first saucepan into the cornflour mixture.

Pour 1 into 2.

Stir to incorporate everything evenly. Whisk constantly to remove any lumps. My source said to pour through a sieve into another saucepan but I didn’t find that necessary. Over low heat, simmer for an hour or till temperature reaches 110 degrees Celsius. The mixture should look very golden-like this.

Almost ready

Add the rosewater essence (2 tbs) and beetroot juice (4 tbs), and stir thoroughly. Pour into the lined slice pan. It should look like this.

Isn’t using beetroot juice just brilliant? My mother-in-law uses it instead of red-food-colouring and told me about it.

Cool to room temp and then put in fridge to set overnight. The next morning, dust your chopping board liberally with icing sugar and cornflour and turn the Turkish Delight onto it. It should be pretty firm.

Peel off the baking paper

To cut, put a sharp knife under hot running water and butter the end. Then run it through the jelly. Like this.


Slice it through lengthwise, into strips and separate. Dust with more icing sugar and cornflour. Cut into cubes and dust the ends as well.

Homemade Turkish Delight


It turned out amazingly well for a first effort, and despite the temperature blunder. Compared to the ones I bought, the texture wasn’t as chewy because I didn’t let the sugar form to the hardball stage before I added the cornflour. But it still is softly chewy.

To store, keep refrigerated in single layers. I found that mine did not like being kept outside the fridge.

Apple Mango Muffins

3 Nov

I used to dread baking because I always made a floury mess on the kitchen counter. But I went to visit a friend once who had just baked muffins in the morning like it was an everyday affair after which her kitchen seemed so clean and I thought, why can’t I do it too? So I went and bought a box of muffin premix-just add water and bake. It was soo easy. And I found that as long as you use ONE big bowl to mix everything in, and close all your containers as you use them, it won’t seem like such a mess, and not THAT much to clean up. And then later I figured I can make better muffins for less than the bought premix-duh. And that’s how I started baking muffins. All the time. I’ve got 50 muffins sitting in the freezer.

I looked at a few muffin recipes online and found a common denominator between all of them-one cup of sugar, two cups self-raising flour,  half cup of olive oil, one cup milk, one cup any mashed fruit, and any other seasoning like cinnamon etc. So I’ve been making up muffin recipes with that as a base. By the way, I love self-raising flour. I didn’t bake much in Malaysia, and didn’t use self-raising flour, so everytime I did attempt to bake I had to sift baking soda and bicarbonate of soda through it and nothing ever came out right coz I didn’t sift it evenly. And I made a floury mess.

So you can use this recipe (I call it the Universal Muffin Recipe) to make any fruit flavored muffin. Just be creative! I’ve used leftover carrots and zuchinis and it’s tasted great.

This is what you need.


  • 1 cup Castor sugar
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup milk (I’ve been using powdered milk-1/3 cup milk, 2/3 cups water)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 apple
  • 1 can mangos+juice (1. You can eat up to 3 pieces of mango MAX. 2. If not using juice, substitute with 1 egg or half cup water)
  • Paper muffin cups

Before you start, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Slice and dice the apples.

Apples sliced (done) and diced(not shown)

Add mangos and use a blender/food processor to puree. The canned mango juice helps with the pureeing. If using other fruits, use half cup water or an egg and blend to a pulp.


Add 1 cup castor  sugar.

Pouring in the sugar

Add  2 cups flour.

Pouring in the flour

Drizzle in olive oil. I’m not exact about how much olive oil I use. About 1/3 cup sounds right.

Olive oil

Mix everything together but don’t beat the heck out of it.  10-15 strokes with a spatula should  be enough. It should still be a bit lumpy and personable.

Lumpy muffin mix

If the mix is too dry, add the half cup of water slowly and stop to mix again. The consistency is about right when you need two spoons of the batter to fill the muffin tin.

Because I’m lazy, I prefer to use muffin cups instead of greasing each hollow in the muffin tin. Fill each cup till 2/3 full.

Filling the cups with batter

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes. If not using a fan-forced oven, turn the  muffins around after 25 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick in the centre comes out clean and tops are golden.

Prefect muffins

Not really. I overfilled the cups and the muffins are joined at the top. But they tasted great nonetheless!

Muffins are great for freezing. Just Gladwrap each one individually and freeze. To defrost, microwave on high for 30 seconds. I find that muffins left to defrost on its own in Gladwrap gets a bit soggy, but a microwaved one comes out perfect like it was just baked.

Blackwood Opshops

13 Oct

When I first came to Australia and discovered opshops, somebody told me I had to go to the Blackwood opshops. I didn’t find the time to till last week, when I went to visit some friends there, who babysat the Little Wyld Man while mummy went-a-shopping.

Blackwood, for those unfamiliar to Adelaide, is south of Adelaide, and situated in the hills. It has 5 opshops within a small shopping radius, the best and biggest being the Salvos one. There are also the Save the Children Opshop, Redcross, Goodwill, and the RSPCA thrift shop. See here for addresses.

I went to the Salvos one first, which was the most famous. Inside was the most organized and appealing  layout I’d ever seen in an opshop, being almost boutique-like in a rustic way. That said however, I didn’t find anything  to buy. There was a trouser press being sold for $60 displayed outside, but I don’t iron enough trousers to justify buying it. But if it had been a gravity feed iron/steam generator, that would have been a different story.

The next opshop I went to was the Redcross one. Here I spied an almost brand new shawl-collared white cardigan which I snatched up.

White Cardigan

Originally it had two ties sewn in to tie the front together which I removed. I also tacked the collar in place so that it would stay in that shape instead of collapsing. I’ve worn it out twice within the last week already. $6.99. Kaching!

I also found a dressmaking book, Success with Dress by Ellen and Marietta Resek.

Success with Dress

I hummed and harred about it, but was sold when I saw that it had a section on drafting patterns.

Bodice Drafts

This is an Aussie book, and very well written. Every chapter starts with a cute little rhyme, and it covers most of the basics in dressmaking.  The sleeve draft was good, being an assymetrical sleeve. (Sleeves shouldn’t look the same front and back, the front of the sleeve has less material, and the back has more-some books get it wrong). I have an earlier book by the same authors called Successful Dressmaking, which I posted about here. $3.

I went to Save the Children Opshop next, and here I picked up some fabrics-a nude and a red tricot fabric, perfect for petticoats and lining knit garments. I also found a nice wool felt hat in cream.

Cream Felt Hat

This is a back view.

Back view

I’m not so crazy about the way the grosgrain ribbon trim is finished at the back. I think it needs something more. I haven’t decided what to do about it yet. $4.99

I also found a sewing box for $9. I thought it was a bit steep for an opshop, but I really wanted and needed one, and Spotlight sells them for $20. I’ve been sewing out of a Tupperware container, so I’m glad to have this.

Sewing box

Inside peek

No, it didn’t come with tools and notions. *pout*. Wyld Man says it looks almost exactly like his mother’s.

The last stop was at Goodwill. I didn’t find anything that I liked until I was almost leaving and then I saw this.

Buckram hat with feathers

I really, really liked it. However, the feathers were a little scraggly, and the ribbon wasn’t glued on properly. I bought it, and I’m going to refashion it one of  this  days. This is a hat for spring, while the other one was a wintery one. $6.50.

So that’s all from Blackwood. I didn’t go to the RSPCA one because my friend/tour guide said it wasn’t any good, and I also wanted to get back to Little Wyld Man. I needn’t have worried though, he was very good and didn’t miss me at all!

And while I’m posting about all things opshop, I found this little top at the St Agnes Save the Children Opshop some weeks ago and loved it.

Red Polka Dot Top

Makes me feel like Minnie Mouse! Love it! $3. The camisole came from an opshop too. Can’t remember where from now.

What did you find at the opshops?








Vintage Jocardi Camel Coat Relined

3 Oct

In one of my previous posts, I talked about my expanding vintage winter coat collection. One of my favourites is a vintage camel coat which I found at a Salvos opshop a couple of months ago. It was in beautiful condition, and guessing from the cut it was probably of a 50’s-60’s vintage. The brand was Jocardi, and the only reference I could find online was from  a 1957 book about an Italian who had worked in the Jocardi Coat Factory in Canada.


Vintage Camel Coat


The coat is cut in a very flattering princess style, with topstitching, welt pockets, and a military-looking sleeve head.


Interesting sleevehead


Being interested in patternmaking myself, I was fascinated with the cut  of the sleeve, which is half set-in sleeve, and half whatchacallit. The whole cut of the coat was very feminine. You wouldn’t be able to get anything like it at the shops today. I especially love the way the skirt flares out.

However, the lining was in pitiful state. It was moth-eaten, ripped under the sleeves, threadbare, stained and torn in a few places. And it was a really awful pink typical of that vintage. Not to mention that it smelled something horrible.

But when I tried it on, I fell in love with the way it looked on me-it fitted me exactly, and I didn’t have that colour coat in my collection. The price tag on it was $35-which was a little high for an opshop, and I hesitated when I thought about the lining. But I convinced myself that it could be easily relined. The clincher came when I realised that it had a purple tag and it was half price day for purple tags! My parents were with me at the time and my dad offered to pay for it. So sweet of him. They both said the coat looked beautiful. And you don’t argue with your parents on that one.

So I got back home and sat on it for a week and studied it inside and out. And proceeded to rip the lining out and apart.


Lining front



Lining back


As you can see, the lining has an underlining made of cotton flannel, and the back has  a rectangle of suede sewn onto it. I took pictures of how the lining inside was constructed and attached and made notes so as to guide me  later. My plan was to rip one side of the  lining  apart at the seams, and leave the other side intact, then use the lining  pieces as a pattern for the new lining.


Lining pattern pieces


The lining pieces had to be ironed flat first. And I had to measure the seam allowance on it to determine how much to sew on the new lining.

I was set on a really funky lining, and had in mind some loud polyester fabric leftover from a maternity dress, which I got from  the bargain table at Spotlight.


Print maternity dress (See the Wyld Maternity Collection 2009 here)


To underline it, I used some tan wool crepe in my stash (which again came from an opshop). It wasn’t an attractive colour, and had some holes in it, but being an underlining, it didn’t matter too much.  I but both lining and underlining using the old lining pattern pieces.


New lining pieces


I made sure to mark the darks on both fabrics, then sewed the outline of the darts through both fabric layers.


Dart outline


I also sewed around the edges of all the lining and underlining pieces together, treating them both as a single layer from then on. For the back panels however, I joined the centre back seam of both fabrics together, but before sewing the edges of both fabrics, I sewed the suede rectangle onto the underlining. Then I sewed the edges of the lining and underlining together, treating it as a single layer from  then on. I then proceed to join all the pieces together, as well as attaching the sleeves.

Now comes  the big part-joining the lining to the coat. I sewed the lining edge to the coat facing, right sides together, all around from the middle of the collar down one side, and then down the other. This ensures that you don’t end up with one side of the lining longer or shorter than the other. It also means that the middle of the collar of the lining and the coat will match up. Now all that is needed is the hemming of sleeve and hem.

The sleeves were 1 1/2 inches too short-so I lengthened it. Luckily the hem inside was quite generous which allowed me to do that. Otherwise it would have looked a bit funny on me. I had cut the sleeve lining longer to accomodate  that alteration.

And this is the finished product.


New lining



Front view



Inside view


With the leftovers of the print lining, I made a square scarf to match (edges finished with a rolled hem on the overlocker) and a hair scrunchy.

I sent the coat to be drycleaned before I wore it. And I have worn it many many times over the last two months. I love this coat, and especially the lining. I feel like I’ve got a wonderful secret hidden under a demure coat. The loud print sings to me and to anyone I’ve shown it to.

Take note  however that if you remove the labels from the old lining to insert the care instructions for the coat into the new lining, because the dry cleaners might make you sign a waiver/indemnity in case of possible damage due to there being no care label.
This was a quick project and very satisfying. And it’s not that hard to do. So next time you see a beautiful coat with an old lining, rescue it and give it an internal facelift.

Burda 6/09 Sunburst Pleat Front Dress

24 Sep

I first read about Burda magazines in some sewing blog and was fascinated by the concept of a fashion magazine with real patterns. Since then I always kept a lookout for it at newsagents-not all stock them. Borders carried them till recently. I ‘ve been hunting for back issues to read and found that the Payneham library carried them-so I bacame a member (despite already being able to borrow from 5 libraries.)

For those unfamiliar with it, Burda is a monthly German dress pattern magazine that has over 40 patterns in it which you can trace out and make. I don’t usually buy it-to date I’ve  only bought three issues. It’s about $15.90 per mag and is good value for money if you make at least one garment from  it every month. It has pictures of models wearing the designs, a page with line drawings, and an insert of patterns in various colours  which you trace out. I like looking at the line drawings more than the pictures for the design ideas it inspires me to.

Of the 6 mags I borrowed, the June 09  issue had an interesting dress.

Burda 06/10

Pleat front jersey dress 102 Burda Jun 09

101 Burda 06/09 Pleat Front Dress

This is a clearer line drawing of it.

102 Line Drawing

I love the sunburst pleats and the pretty folds on the front. I formed an idea of a white dress with a black lace belt in this design and couldn’t wait to  get to  it.

This is the instruction sheet in the magazine.

Instruction sheet

This is the pattern sheet. Each sheet is labelled alphabetically with patterns pieces printed on it. One sheet may have several garment patterns on it, and the patterns for different garments are  differentiated with a different colour.

Pattern sheet

I trace out my pattern with sew-in interfacing, which is see-through and cheap. The Burda patterns do not have seam allowances added on to it, so here I am tracing around the patterns with a tracing tool-

Double pencils with a 5/8-inch spacer

-which I got at Lincraft.

I traced a size 38 all over, but I was actually a size 42 at the waist, and 40 at the hips. I was too lazy to grade up or  down according the markings-it was hard  to see and too tedious. I figured that since this is a stretch fabric, I’ll just pin fit the sides later. Also, the patterns were drafted for an “average” person-but who is? I’m very short waisted, so you’ll see in my pattern pieces below I’ve made a length adjustment by shortening  it by 2cms.

Pattern pieces cut and altered.

There are no construction photos-it was very quick to put together. The whole thing was sewn on my overlocker. The only thing that took some time was the  front pleats.

The instructions said to baste the pleats together, and sew it onto the front lining piece and treat as one, and not to press the pleats. I was too lazy to baste and just sewed the pleats on permanently and pressed it anyway. But the effect aren’t the soft folds as  in the picture, which I do regret not following.

The instructions for the dress was for a zipper to be installed in the back. However, instead of cutting 2 back pieces, I cut it on the fold, so I decided to put an invisible zipper in the side seam.

One thing I found was  that despite choosing the size 38, the whole dress was  huge on me. I had to remove 2 inches on each side seam from top to  bottom.

This is my finished dress.

Sunburst Pleated Dress

Back view

The lace belt is removable and this is what it looks like without it.

Dress plain.

I wanted to be able to wear it casually, as well as to more dressy functions.

It didn’t look so when the model wore it, but the neckline plunged too low for me. So I made a removable lace modesty panel.

Removable lace modesty panel

Here is a closeup of the lace belt, which is almost the favourite part of the dress for me. I wanted it to look like galoon lace, which I couldn’t find at Spotlight, so I made do with what I had in my stash.

Lace belt

The belt was the hardest to do, as this is the first time I’ve dealt with lace in this context. This was actually a small fat quarter piece of lace that was given to me with one scalloped border. I decided to cut it down along a motif, baste it to a white sew-in interfacing (to show off the black lace), and then backed again with black knit fusible interfacing. The edges have been finished with an overcasting stitch through all three layers.

Here is a parting shot.

Front view

I really, REALLY like this dress, especially with the lace belt. Which one do you prefer?