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Posts in October 2009

Heather Ross - Everything Tote Bag...

Everything Tote

I decided on Tuesday that I needed a new bag.  I chose to make the Everything Tote by Heather Ross from her book Weekend Sewing.

Yes...this is the same book that I made THAT summer blouse from. I know, the one currently doubling up as a Circus Big Top.

But this isn't a blouse, this a lovely 'throw the kitchen sink in' kind of bag - It's meant to be big!!


Ikea Inger

Ikea Inger

This Everything Tote bag pattern is fantastic for all sewers. It's easy to follow (if you pay attention) and in no time you have a great BIG bag.

I loved making this bag - from start to finish the project took less than a day to make and that was with my usual tea breaks, day dreaming and cat naps.

Ikea Inger

I only made one little change to the process; instead of machine sewing the inside binding to the lining I chose to hand sew it.

It took a little more effort but it was the right thing to do. The binding looks really good, inside and out. It has polished, professional look to it.

Ikea Inger

Picture 484 (Medium)

As with all of my projects there is always something that goes a little awry. This pattern is no different.

The Everything Tote bag pattern requires you to create box corners....Who wants boxy corners anyway?!


So here it is my BIG Everything Tote bag...


Everything Tote - Ikea Inger

p.s I used Ikea Inger cotton canvas.


Fusion skirt ....

skirt binding
A few weeks back I finally stopped procrastinating and made a skirt using the McCall's 3341 A-Line pattern. It was a great experience. I learnt some new things, reconfirmed some old things and made other things up as I went along.

You really can't ask for more - or can you?

Well you can.  The McCall's 3341 pattern results in a high waisted skirt. I like my skirts to sit on my hips, so I decided to try make skirt to my liking.

Using the McCall pattern and an old favourite skirt as a template I had another go at skirt making. I call it the Hmil-McCall fusion skirt.

It was a surprisingly easy process. All I did was fold my favourite skirt in half and place it on some tracing fabric and cut a basic outline (I added 1" for seam adjustments).

self drafted skirt

I then placed the McCall's 3341 pattern over the top to make sure I was in the right area in terms of hip width etc. and hey presto - a new skirt template.

After that, I simply cut the fabric out and got on with assembling it.
McCall's 3341

The McCalls 3341 pattern has a back zip and asks you to play around with darts on the waistline.

I didn't bother with the darts on my fusion skirt because I found that they actually created a ballooning effect across the abdomen - not a great look on me.

So no darts, just two pieces of material sewn together with a side zip.

side zipper
I added the side zip following some great instructions I found on Sew Mama Sew.

The blog author recommends using glue to hold the zip in place before sewing. I wasn't too sure about this at first but I have admit it's better than using pins. Saying that, I still managed to wobble a little on the sewing.

home made binding



home made binding

Next  I added home made binding for the waist and the hem.

I chose to use binding partly to create interest and to get out of hemming. I know, I can be very lazy sometimes.

Did I make adjustments along the way?

Yep but just the one -  I took a further 2.5 inches off the waist to make sure it sat on my hips (I really don't like high waist).


My Hmil-McCall fusion skirt may not be perfect (it looks better than this photo) but it's a step in the right direction. For the next version I plan to take another inch of the waist and to slim down the actual skirt shape.

fusion a-line skirt

McCall's 3341 - A-Line skirt...Sugar & Spice Textiles

Mccall's 3341 (Medium)

Inspired by the film Coco Avant Chanel and armed with 2.5m of Sugar & Spice 50's inspired florals fabric I decided this week to try my hand at skirt making.

To help the process along I bought McCall's 3341 pattern.

I know the cover is far from awe inspiring but it's marketed as Quick & Easy which is what this newbie wants; I can do long and laborious another time.

Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

McCall's pattern 3341
description is as follows;

Misses' A-Line Skirts in 5 lengths: skirt has front and back darts, back zipper closure & faced waist: skirt A or B has a back slit.


Fabric - 100% cotton Aster Dot (Mill Pattern #HS12985, Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's Inspired Florals)

Interfacing (I used fusible), 7" zipper, thread, and one Hook & Eye.

McCalls 3341
I chose McCall's 3341 skirt B - back length from natural waistline (30"), bottom width 53.5" in size 18.

Size 18, I know!!

Trust me my ego didn't like it much either so I went online to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I am not. It appears that the fashion industry engages in vanity sizing - shop bought clothes and pattern sizes rarely match.

I fall somewhere between the 16-18 dressmakers range so I thought to be on the safe side I would go for size 18.


McCalls 3341 & Sugar & Spice Textile 50's inspired floral - aster dot

McCall's 3341- Dart - Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

The McCall 3341 A-Line skirt from start to finish is as it claims 'Quick & Easy' even for a complete beginner like me.

A few things slowed the process down a little for me; the zipper, the 'easing in' of the waist facing, and the dress size 18.

McCall's 3341 - Zipper - Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

McCall's 3341-Zipper - Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

I don't know exactly what happened with the zipper, but I think I may have sewn the second side a little closer to the zipper edge than the first.  It doesn't look too bad, the zipper is covered when closed but I am sure the fabric should measure equal on both sides.

I suppose that's the price for not checking up on how to sew zippers.


McCall's 3341 - Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

McCall's 3341 - Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

Learning plenty from the zipper experience, I looked up how to 'ease in' the waist facing into my skirt.

The idea is to add a line of basting stitches between the back and front darts on each side of the skirt and then pull the stiches so the the fabric gently gathers together without pleating.

Well, just like the sleeves on my Heather Ross Summer Blouse I kept getting small pleats. After a cup of tea I decided to go with the flow and just sew the waist facing - pleats or no pleats.

I got pleats - all facing one direction!! I think I was also supposed to 'gather' the basting stitches in opposite directions from the front of the skirt....moving on.

McCall's 3341 - Sugar & Spice Textiles - 50's inspired florals - aster dot

McCall's 3341

The last little issue I had with McCall's 3341 was with the sizing. It seems that size 16 would have been a better fit despite the fact my hip measurements fall squarely in the size 18 range.

In fact I had a total of 3cms spare on my hips and acres of fabric across my lower abdomen. I actually knew I had lot's of spare room in the hips before I added the waist facing but I decided against making any adjustments at that point because I didn't know how the waist would work.

To reduce the sides by 1 cm each, I simply opened up the the waist facing at the top of the sides and machined a new seam into each side. I don't know if this is how it's done but it worked.

The skirt is still a touch too roomy but it isn't as noticeable as before.

There is still too much fabric across the abdomen. I guess it's just one of the problems with making a pattern that hasn't been adjusted to your own body shape.

McCalls 3341

Zipper - McCalls 3341


As usual I didn't follow all the instructions as I should have, primarily because I didn't understand them.

The one instruction that really flummoxed me was about the waist facing.

"GRADE seam allowance by cutting to graduated widths and interfacing close to stiching. Clip curves".

The instructions then offers a tiny diagram of something being clipped. I have checked the pattern sheets and there are no markings for snips so I just added some into the seam allowance. I don't whether they made any real difference or in fact I put them in the right place.

The hemming instructions were a little challenging too so I chickened out and ignored them. I also took the skirt length up by 1.5cm.

After adding the last touch (Hook & Eye), I now have a 50's inspired floral A-Line skirt. Not bad for 2 days work.

McCall's 3341 skirt