#makenine2017 progress update


While this is my first ‘documented’ completed item for this year’s #makenine – trust me that I have made better progress than one item (thankfully).  Two others are completed, two more are in progress and one is soon to be cut out.  But lets start at the start and begin with my first completed item for #makenine2017 – the Named Olivia Wrap Dress

This is my second Olivia wrap dress – my first I made last year with a poly blend knit from Clear It Fabrics in Melbourne and it is very well loved; one of favourite makes of last year.  Lots of compliments when I wear it, easy to wear, work appropriate but still not dull old corporate work.  A second version was definitely going to happen!

The dress is a classic knit wrap dress with a slight tulip skirt.  The high neck wrap, the below the knee skirt length and long sleeves met all the requirements of corporate work world attire.    With some side seam pockets for the public transport pass, mobile phone, lip gloss and business cards the dress is perfect for networking events without the hassle of juggling a hand bag, a drink, nibbles and hand shake with two hands. Oh the joy of awkward small talk with strangers…anyway back to the matter at hand.


For this make of the Olivia I used my usual 42 size with Named however after the first dress I added a sloped shoulder adjustment as fabric tended to gather as diagonal folds between my shoulder and armscye.  But to no avail – the fabric pooling around my shoulders is actually worst in this version so I was back to researching what the problem may be, it does not show in the photos but as a day progresses my shoulders must slouch more forward.  After scouring my The Perfect Fit book, I think I have an idea to test out next – a narrow neckline (complete with a caption of “looks at first like a shoulder fitting problem”).  This makes sense as the neckline is high at the back and shoulder. So I see a third Olivia in my future! What a shame…

The fabric is a Tory Burch fabric that I purchased from The Fabric Store – a rayon jersey crepe that is so drapey and soft that I am secretly wearing pyjamas to work!!  I was also curious how the fabric was used in the Tory Burch collection and I found this so I feel I did justice to the fabric (to be honest I think mine is better)


The only thing I dislike about the fabric is the lack of recovery – there is no elastane in the knit at all.  I find that after a day of wear the dress ‘grows’ in length even with the elastic waistline as support.  Care is also required when washing/storing as hangers make marks on the shoulder.

Overall the dress is a success – fun and easy to wear…its a win.


I am finding the #makenine a great way to stay motivated and on track with my sewing project.   I tend to ‘squirrel’ on sewing projects bouncing between new shiny things with no real goals was usually results in additions to the fabric stash without any real focus.  I am really enjoying the focus on limited my projects to the nine (with a few additions through out the year).

How is the progress on your #makenine?

The clear and present danger of fabric sales and social media accounts

This post is brought to you by the fabric enablers that encourage impulse fabric purchases via the seemingly innocent social media accounts

A mere 8 weeks ago according to my instagram feed, my local fabric ‘dealer’ The Fabric Store were having a sale and a good 30% one of that. And all the while my instagram feed is displaying all these pretty fabric spoils from said sale. One particular instagram image of some Liberty Jersey that I had been conveting since its arrival to the store was posted by Melanie of Made-by-Melanie had me weakened. 

As posted on my Instagram, these fabrics were the spoils of my visit to the 30% VIP sale as specifically enabled by Melanie

 In tribute I thought the fabric is destined to be inspired by Melanie’s style of comfortable tops and knit pencils. 


Tessuti Isla top was released just days before the Fabric Store sale kicked off and is clearly in  Melanie’s style (in fact as blogged about here)

I made a size S with no adjustments for the Liberty Jersey.  It’s bright and fun, but when push comes to shove it’s just a cotton jersey nothing too amazing despite the Liberty brand name. It’s 100% cotton so no nice recovery in the stretch which is uncomfortable as those sleeves are tight…but that silk jersey I purchased at the same sale is a different story. 


We have another Isla and this time I love it. 

However beware silk jersey shrinks!!  

Thankfully I pre washed the fabric so I discovered the shrinkage before cutting out.  

But I still needed to place the top on hold until I could source some fabric for the pattern piece that would not fit amongst the newly shrunk silk. But not too long as my stash helped out – the majority of the delay was because I couldn’t exactly locate the black Lycra knit (from The Remnant Warehouse) amongst the fabric stash. 

Again for new players: prewash, always prewash your fabric, and if unsure prewash *sigh* silk-isla-3
For the second creation I used the same S sizing however this time I added 1cm to each side of the sleeves and blended back into the pattern piece – and success 100%

I love this top and teamed with my ever faithful Pattern Runway Scalloped Hem shorts I have my summer uniform.  Seriously if I could wear this 24/7 I would.silk-isla1

Perfect for Summer Holidays! And again a big thank you to Melanie for being the best fabric enabler ever. 

My #makenine2017 projects

Each year in January I am inspired by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow and her Sewing Top 5 of previous year.  While I haven’t previously blogged about them alot I do sit down each year (usually over the Christmas/New Year break) and jot them down.

The hits are usually easy – they are the makes that I reach for each week or the ones that I smile a little for when thinking about as I am so proud of the end product or the work involved to complete it.

The misses can tend to be harder to quantify.  More so this year than previous years the misses are when I sew something to a predetermined image in my head that in reality the fabric or the pattern is not a fit for – I want to be more ‘fabric savvy’.  It also makes me wonder whether I am fabric first or pattern first sewer which brings me to my goals for 2017.

The main resolution is to ‘sew the stash’ – yeah I know, not particularly original.  I am honestly a little embarrassed by the amount of fabric I have stashed and the number of patterns that sit unused.  The best goals are measurable ones, so instead of saying ‘sew the stash’ I will be specific and identify the patterns and fabric that will be used.  All are projects that I have the pattern and fabric for with two exceptions.  NB Some of these are already in progress but I refuse to let them continue to be unfinished projects

  1. Style Arc Stella Coat with a green plaid coating from The Fabric Store purchased during a Brisbane Spoolettes catchup
  2. Alabama Chanin factory dress using one of their DIY kits from our US trip last year
  3. Fehr Trade Surf to Summit top using supplex purchased during our US trip last year
  4. Grainline Alder with fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics during our 2015 Christmas trip to Melbourne
  5. Papercut Rigel Bomber with Liberty fleece from The Fabric Store
  6. Named Olivia wrap dress using Tory Burch knit from The Fabric Store
  7. Thread Theory Fairfield  button upwith cotton shirting from Cleggs also from a Melbourne trip

and my two exceptions [with one huge bucket list item for me]

  1. Susan Khalje couture skirt workshop
  2. Cashmerette Turner dress


In the list I think I have some quick wins that will hopefully get the momentum going.

Wish me luck and hopefully I will begin to see the floor of the sewing room as I clear out the mess!


’tis the party dress season…

s-the-party-season-6This time of year tends to require the obligatory holiday party dress and as always nothing in the closet provides sufficient inspiration.  To ease this dire situation in steps the Boundless Style workbook, by Kristiann Boos of Victory Patterns fame, with its multitude of dress options.


There are big skirts and little skirts, sleeves and no sleeves, boat necks and v necks, ties and peplums.  Which can all be switched for each other.  The book has an accompanying Look Book website where you can mix and match your design.  The configuration I went with was the Jackie bodice with no ties, no sleeves with the tea length Lydia skirt.


The fabric is from my usual Brisbane haunt of The Fabric Store a gorgeous silk that was a ‘substitute’ purchase become the silk that I was coveting was not on the display floor (which I did actually found again and quickly remedied by being purchased).

As expected that skirt is a fabric hog and required some pattern Tetris games to get this close.  Obviously I didn’t have sufficient yardage for two wrap pieces with back bodice and I used silk organza for the front facing pieces.  There was also not enough fabric to consider any ‘inappropriate rose’ placements hence the butt rose!!  But the skirt is simply stunning despite the butt rose!  I love it.

Each skirt side is made up of three pieces seamed together and double pleated.  The skirt has a gorgeous vintage feel to it.  I am definitely eyeing off my fabric stash for more suitable fabric to make more of these skirts whether as a dress or throw a straight waistband on it!

I fitted within the book’s size 8 and I made the bodice and skirt in size 8 with no adjustments.  The skirt with that amount of volume was not going to present any fitting issues, however I would adjust the bodice for the next make.

The wrap of the back bodice gaps slightly which I am hoping a quick tack will remedy easily however the front bodice needs more attention.  There is excess fabric around the bust, it is not too obvious but I notice it.  Perhaps a small bust adjustment of two or three centimetres will assist.  Or alternatively  reducing between the shoulder and armscye which brings me to my usual gripe with bodice pattern pieces that are same whether sleeveless or with sleeves because no way does that work correctly without excess ease.  If the next make is also sleeveless I think I will follow my pattern making instructions and come in 1cm at the top of side seam to nothing at waistline and then raise armhole 2cm.

It is also the finishing details that I love about the dress.  These details begin in the Boundless Style Book where a skirt lining and waist stay are included. I thought that it I taking the effort to make a lining and a waist stay I should take the details to the next level (and three hours of hand sewing later).  I added bra guards and crinoline in the hem both following Claire Shaeffer’s instructions in High Fashion Sewing Secrets – and I glad I did as sometimes adding more details is better…

Overall the dress is a success but currently still in the ‘party’ infrequent dress category of the wardrobe.  However I think once I tack the two back wraps together I think I will feel a more comfortable to wear more regularly and hopefully will make for a higher rotation – despite the bodice excess as that skirt is so much fun to wear.

Bring it Summer!

The Brisbane summer is certainty on game – we are having days in the high twenties (Celsius degrees of course), humidity in the 70% range and a light breeze.  It is my favourite time of year in Brisbane; the purple plumes of jacaranda trees dot the street scape and afternoons are best spent on a verandah with your favourite refreshing beverage in hand.

back1To celebrate the season, I completed a project that is actually appropriate to the weather and also booked a city break to the Gold Coast for December/January.  Think flowy maxi dress with spaghetti straps and your favourite refreshing beverage in hand.  Wait do we have a theme here!!! Oh heck yes!

front2Anyway, I present the Named Delphi dress.  I have had a liking for the pattern with its sweet back loops since it was released a couple of seasons ago however I only managed to pick a copy during Named’s recent birthday sale.  I purchased PDF version which unfortunately is not available in ‘Copy Shop’ format so a fun Friday night was spent trimming and taping A4 pages together.  The pattern pieces are also overlapped which reduced the amount of pages but added tracing to the ‘to-do’ – so the not best start.

front3Named Patterns has quickly became one of my favourite independent pattern designs.  The designs are interesting and the Delphi dress is definitely no different.  The dress has a loose overlay top that drops at the back and the spaghetti strap twist at the back.

With my previous Named makes, I tend to size up as I prefer to wear my clothes with a bit more ease than Named draft into their designs (that is extra dessert room).  However based on few other blog posts on the Delphi I decided to size down to a size 38 instead of my usual 42 and I am glad I followed their advice.


Perhaps it is a design decision of the pattern but I find it too loose in the bodice.  I would like to take at least an inch in from side seams.  Maybe the excess needs to come out of the back bodice? The loose top is not assisted by the fact it is not bra friendly so as I am wear a strapless bra I feel even more self conscious of how the bodice is fitted.

front1The fabric I think is a knit bamboo blend from The Fabric Store – I went to double check the fabric content but remaining roll was already gone (along with the other colorway).  The fabric is interesting – really really heavy and delicate when wet but when dry is light drapey and easy to work. back2

Construction wise, the dress came together quite quickly.  Once cut out, I think the dress was completed within a couple of hours.  The dress was predominately whipped together on the overlocker, with a guest appearance from the coverstitch for the hems and standard sewing machine for bodice binding. The dress has elastic as a support at the waist which I sewed in via the overlocker with the blade disengaged.

For more Delphi inspiration check out:



Me Made May – lets do this, and GO


That time of year again for the Me Made May challenge run by Zoe from So, Zo

so here is the pledge:

I, Michelle of My Sparkling Machine, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15.

I endeavor to wear a me-made outfit each day for the duration of May 2015 ***

*** mini side pledge for no repeat outfits – but I am not going to kid myself – repeats are practically guaranteed

I last considered participating in Me Made May in 2013 but I think I piked at the last minute as the idea of daily outfit photos felt a tad exhausting for the entire month.  The month of May is generally quite intense at work and I don’t think this year will be any different – please have patience with me.

I did participate in MeMadeMay many many years before Zoe was our champion – I think?  I vaguely recall a Me Made March and I was inspired to have my own MeMadeMay private challenge.  And to be honest it was a little dull as my me-made items that I enjoyed wearing were quite limited and each week became the same outfits repeating.

I will be sharing the daily outfits on Instagram so please join with me and I hope to do weekly recaps as blog posts.

Wish me luck and apologies in advance for the awkward bathroom photos!

Ending the sewing year with some glitter and sparkles

PH Front mid

One last grasp of breath for the Vintage Pledge. I did intend to complete a 1950’s Bishop method skirt dress as part of the Vintage Pledge but other sewing projects always seem to grab my attention – yes, completely squirrel’d that one. Instead 1970 glamor rears its fabulous head and a Grecian floor length flowing wedding dress appears.

Pattern front

Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 6672 (later re-released in 1980 as Simplicity 9750)
Size: Size 14
Alterations: Shorten skirt length and bodice length
Fabric: Silk Lurex and silk satin interlining from The Fabric StorePH Front half

Paired with Silk lurex and silk interlining from The Fabric Store – my regular haunt since work moved to be 250m away from the Fortitude Valley store – for maximum fabulous.


PH Back  PH Front Full1

The pattern popped up in eBay in a pattern parcel and I swooned. I had been eyeing off the fabric for a couple of weeks and I knew the two would be perfect pairing. So I headed back to the store within a hour or so the eBay sale concluding and I purchased what remained on the roll which was just under three metres from memory.

Front half

After considering that the itch of the Lurex threads in the fabric would drive me insane I went back to pick up some silk satin to use as interlining. As getting a match for green/blue/teal of the fabric was going to be difficult, I matched the interlining to the gold lurex. The silk Lurex is only slightly opaque so the interlining didn’t need to match but I thought a little peak of the gold inside would be sweet as the skirt swooshes around.

Back half  Front half2

Fabric constraints without reducing the length meant the fullness of the skirt needed to be reduced unfortunately. Pattern matching had no chance and fortunately print placement was not a complete disaster however looking at the front now I see a slight flower boob on the front – oh well, work with what we have right?  The back though I am quite happy with the placement, not matching but balanced.

Back full   Front ful

Pattern view

While my previous vintage pattern was complete and all patterns pieces were complete – this one was not the case.  A previous owner had cut off the front and back skirt above the shorter View 1 length and the front bodice had the neat wrap around neck collar hacked off.  Yes, hacked – I can’t even pretend the sinking feeling of seeing one of the endearing features of the pattern completely disregarded.  So based on the pattern piece view included in the instructions I redrafted the top of the bodice front and using the side piece (which appeared completely unused) I redrew what I thought would be the original full skirt length.Front pattern adjusted 

Very few adjustments to the pattern were necessary.  I shorten the skirt length on all pattern pieces by two inches by folding up at the shorten length and pinched out almost another inch to rise the neckline.

Inside back full Inside back half

For the inside finishing, I did consider binding the seam allowances but given the time constraints and not wanting to add too much bulk, a simple pinked edge sufficed.  Because I can’t help myself a few couture features were added.  Hem and armholes were finished with bias binding that was catch stitched to the interlining,  strips of silk organza cut on the straight grain were used as stays across the front bodice gathers and shoulder seams, neck facing fell stitched to interlining, and a hand picked lapper zip. Hemming was quite a drama and I was happy to see the end of it.

Inside front full Inside front half          

The end result is very fun to wear.  The skirt is huge and I stagger to consider how much fun the skirt would be if I didn’t have the fabric constraints!  So much twirling! So perfect for the holiday season where a little bit of sparkle cannot go astray.  Let’s hope for more occasions that require a gold glitter dress!