Author Archives: sandrasews

All good things must come to an end

I have some news that is a little bittersweet.

My professional and personal life are going through some big changes at the moment, and after a wonderful 4 years of hosting the BSC meets at my business premises, Sewanista Fashion Workshops’ studio, I’m afraid I am unable to continue hosting the meets there.

It’s good personally, because the changes are all positive and I now will have a little more flexibility, and sad at the same time, as I have really really enjoyed having you all hang out at my place, and I’ll miss the camaraderie, the inspiration, and the motivation to tidy the place up once a month!

I’m looking forward to the new direction our club will take. A few ideas were thrown around at the meet yesterday as to a new “clubhouse”, and it would be great to have input from all our members. We’re a big group, which should mean plenty of ideas!

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. It would be great to have a bunch of ideas and possibilities to choose from.

And don’t forget, too, that we have a weekend away coming up soon! I’m making plans already for that weekend. With my schedule the way it is at the moment, a weekend of chilling out with good friends will be just the ticket!

And don’t forget, if you haven’t already ‘liked’ my Facebook page, please pop on over and say hi. I’ve got some interesting projects in the pipeline, I’ll be spreading the word soon.

Cheers, Sandra


Girl’s Day Out

On Sunday, Lily and I joined Sarah M, Elle, Debra and Ellen at the museum to see the Unveiled exhibition of wedding dresses from the Victoria and Albert museum. Some of the highlights included Dita Von Teese’s purple wedding dress designed by Vivienne Westwood, and Gwen Stefani’s dress designed by John Galliano.

But for me though, the highlight was the dress known as the May Primrose dress, made in 1885 by court dressmakers, Gladman and Womack.


I’m a bit of a fan of the 1880s, partly because I like the look, but also because it was such an exciting time historically, smack bang at the height of the industrial revolution, and bursting with optimism about technology, science and modernity. I’ve spent a bit of time researching old pattern making and sewing techniques from the era, including visiting the WA museum archives to get up close and personal with a jacket they have in storage. (Such a bummer, I can’t publish the photos I took – it is an AMAZING jacket)

So, to see the Real Deal was so special. There is so much detail in the dress, and a lot of it can be the starting point for detail on a modern garment. The lace is stunning, but it’s just frills, and the richness depends on the quality of the lace. The draped pearls and tassels are gorgeous, but I am a bit too clumsy to have bits that dangle and get caught in things. And I love all the drapery – it’s enormously difficult to get draped skirts to look like the folds just landed there by chance – but with my hips, it’s not a look I’m going to try anytime soon. So, I looked a bit lower. The pleats around the hem, in fact. They look like little evenly spaced petals, but they are simply groups of three knife pleats attached about 1/3rd from the top, with the top edge folded down and caught onto the frill. Somewhere on my computer is a PDF book from the 1880s, downloaded from, which shows how to make these sort of frills, but I’m not near my computer now, so I grabbed a paper napkin and tried out some pleating until I got something that looked right.


I’m making a simple dress at the moment for a class, I think I might see if a row of these petals can land somewhere on it.

There’s an article about the conservation of this dress on the V and A website. It’s quite interesting – apparently they dismantle the entire dress for cleaning,

I’m going to visit the museum again, hopefully with a bit more time and a bit of research under my belt.

Thanks to Ellen for the heads up on the V and A website.

Boring Admin Stuff

We had a fabulously fun meet this afternoon, with 12 people, including 2 new faces.  We had a theme of upcycling, and there was some interesting stuff going on, which I will post about after feeding the hungry hordes.
However, just right now, the boring admin bit is……

Are these yours?  They were left behind, and I have put them on the lost property wall, but if I can match a name to them first, I’d be much happier 🙂

Another French knicker pattern

In case anyone is thinking of making some vintage style French Knickers, I’ve taken a photo of the pattern in my book, Complete Dressmaking In Pictures. I’m not sure when it was published, but from the photos I’d guess mid to late 1940’s.


The pattern assumes that you have made a block and are developing the pattern from that, but as we’re just doing a knicker, you can use an a-line skirt pattern. The important part is actually the gusset and the distance of the split from the hip level, which is usually about 22cm below the waist. In this case 11 1/2″ (29cm) on the front and 12″ (30cm) on the back. The split is 6″ (15cm) long. This makes a knicker a modern woman may find baggy, and if you were replacing briefs with it, possibly so. However, as a modesty garment for flippy skirts in summer, you don’t want it too close.

I have drafted a size medium with a slightly closer fit, and I’ll have that one on Sunday as well, and I’d be more than happy to show everyone how to sew a gusset into a split, and for those who like living close to the edge, a lined gusset into a split also.


See you Sunday!

Boxer pants meet

Our next meet on Sunday August 19th, has been designated Boxer Shorts day. It’s not obligatory to make them, but if you’d like to, here’s a bunch of patterns and tutorials to consider.

Now, call them boxer shorts and wear them to bed, or tap pants and wear them under skirts, they are easy to draft and quick to sew. I’ve included a few links to tutorials for various styles.

Simple & Modern: these are the easiest to draft and sew.

Sweet & Vintage: scroll down to the circular tap pants and download the PDF. These are a little harder to sew, but have the advantage of no centre front and back seams. And I’m happy to help, once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll never look back.

If you like the idea of the circular tap pants but want a pant that isn’t so full and uses less fabric, I have a draft in an old Women’s Institute book from the 1930’s or 40’s. It’s fabulous.

I also have a few patterns for simple pants and if I rummage around I have a couple of genuine vintage “bloomer” style patterns. (Just like my Nana used to wear, I couldn’t make them without laughing uncontrollably.)

A pair of boxer shorts can be whipped up in no time, so if you haven’t got something more pressing to work on, bring some cute fabric and sort out your summer smalls.


Another fabric sale

Now that you’ve got all those fab patterns in the Great Pattern Sale, of course you need fabric to make them up.

Lola Australia is having a studio sale for 2 weeks, with cottons, silk, embroidery, lace, jersey and trimmings.

The sale will be held at 20 Pakenham St, Mt Lawley. It will run from Wednesday 4th July until Wednesday 18th July from 10am-2pm weekdays.

Their contact details are:
T: 9471 8329

Fabulous fabrics mid-year sale

It’s that time of year when the mid-year sales get going.
If you have a hankering for something totally glamourous, this could be the one for you. Just in time to pick up something for the Little Black Dress Challenge 🙂