Quest for the Unfinished Medallion

Woohoo, thanks for the great response to the Sea Star on Friday!  I really appreciate everyone who offered to explore the tunic; I have another little pattern ready for us to test quite soon!

Blazing Down a Snail Trail

In the meantime, today is the day for quilt-chatter… Remember this from, like, three years ago?

After I finished the fussiest blocks for this block-of-the-month (those melons!), I laid it out and utterly loathed what I saw.  I couldn’t figure out why I disliked it, I’d seen many versions of this design as my quilty friends stitched it and liked most of them. But no matter how many times I looked at mine, I hated it.  That killed the project for me.  I put the blocks and fabric away in a drawer, shaking my head over the “waste” of time and fabric, not sure what to do with them.  Oh, the guilt!


I found them when we moved, and decided it was time to make these blocks into a pretty quilt for my new bedroom.  I removed the big center block (I decided the orange wasn’t working for me…) and pondered what could fill that space.  I always liked Compass blocks and thought one might make a great feature.  I used the Surveyors Compass from here, sized up to a 12″ square.

When I play with quilt blocks, I like to know what to expect in the final design. It can be really difficult if you aren’t working from a pattern. So I like to take a photo with my camera, making sure it’s straight-on and the block is square.  Then I crop it and feed the photo into a collage app, rotating the pieces so they match up correctly.  (Instacollage works fine for me.) It’s not a 100% accurate method, but it’s a lot of fun!  It’s way easier and quicker than sketching or laying out every block.

I decided to use the black and white and green blocks with the compass to make a new design, leaving aside all mention of that orange.

The Compass background fabric is the same as the other fabric, it just hasn’t been handled as much. They look the same except in photographs?

It’s amazing how rotating the blocks can give a completely different design, like a kaleidoscope.

This was my favorite, but it still didn’t delight me as a good quilt should…

I added in some small scrappy starburst squares (whole ‘nother post!). I liked this better, but Stephen suggested that part of the appeal of Susan’s design was the strict color palette. Drat, I could see his point.

I kept casting glances at those fiddly melons, and tried using the intended layout with my compass.   I do like the shape they make framing the center block, it echoes the compass points beautifully. I stepped back and thought “Hey! A little touch of orange isn’t so bad!”  I’m considering stitching the full Compass block with just a bit of orange so the design pops better than it does with the “meh” black-on-white print that makes up the compass’ circle…

I’m pretty pumped about this project now! Sometimes it can be really hard to figure out what element of a project isn’t working, and what to use instead. I find that’s what usually turns a project into a UFO for me, that creative uncertainty. I’ll make up a few more blocks over the next month or so to fill in the corners and make up the size I need- probably more styles of compasses, or maybe some sort of black and white animals…

What’s your latest UFO? What halts a project for you? How’s my orange, think I should put it into the compass block or leave it alone?


Monday Quilting: Felix The Fox Den Pillow

When we moved, I culled my sewing room. I could have brought 7 years’ worth of sewing flotsam and jetsam into our new home, but I welcomed the opportunity to purge. Oddly, I found it most difficult to part with my quilt scrap stash. I decided to keep my “blue & white” stash, my “rainbow” stash, and Lila’s baby/toddler clothes for quilting.  I also allowed myself to keep the several dozen finished blocks I discovered while culling.  Everything else was binned or re-homed.

In the process of clearing out the dross, I got excited about rendering these shards of pretty fabrics into Beautiful Things we could enjoy around the house.  I thought I’d share a bit of my weekender quilting every Monday around here, how’s that?


He keeps his skull collection on the mantel, picked up in the field and kept after cataloging and cleaning.

This is our family room/Stephen’s work-den. He works from home, too.  In our old place we shared a much smaller room for work/sewing/stashing his camping, fishing, field and painting gear. I like this room; it’s as cozy, comfy and interesting as he is. I thought it would be nice to start here with a few pillows and eventually a throw to enhance (but not change) the den-feel of his space.  Then I can move on to other rooms…

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I found Felix the Fox on Shape Moth while looking for 6″ animal blocks.  He’s 10″ and detailed, but I still wanted to call him into being. Stephen liked him, too, so I whipped up Felix over the weekend.

As a little girl, I was a keen pillow quilter. I liked the symmetry and order of quilt blocks, and the magic of making lovely things from tiny scraps of fabric. I did not, however, have the attention span to make more than one or two of the same square, so I made pillows. My seams were variable at best, and I stuffed them without much thought for durability. Those pillows had a tendency to leak fluff through split pieced seams if I used them as pillows, very disappointing.

Now that I’m a grown up pro crafty lady, I know how to make much nicer finished pillows that I can use. With Felix, I used batting, backing, and a side zip. Like a boss:

Once I finished paper-piecing the square, I layered fusible Pellon behind Felix. It is nice and secure once fused. Pillows are a great way to use ordinary quilt batting scraps, too, though it needs to be pinned or basted. I added an extra layer of Pellon to make the center square more prominent, and added a backing fabric.

Then I pinned a bit along the brown border to secure the layers. I used a regular foot to quilt Felix, starting at the border seam. This worked fine because it’s a very small bit of quilting, fused together. I echoed the square in a sort of spiral-with-corners, using the edge of my foot to space the lines evenly. Then I traced the edges of Felix’s body and his different colors with a line of stitches. Originally, I thought I’d heavily quilt the background, but I stopped here because he seemed quite charming enough. Then I squared off the edges of the block/batting/backing sandwich.

After that, I inserted an invisible zipper along one side of the block, joining it to the pillow back. Again, I didn’t use anything special, just my regular invisible zipper foot. Then I stitched the rest of the pillow front to the back, trimmed the corners, and turned.  I pressed and steamed the whole pillow before adding the pillow form. If/when I do this again, I’ll use a longer invisible zipper because it was hard to insert the form. I won eventually, though! I used a 10″ invisible zip on a 15″ square pillow, but 12″ would be easier.


Voilà! I smile every time I see Felix, and while the second layer of batting is subtle I think it gives a nice effect, a little like embossed tin:


Do you make quilt pillows? Any tips for including the men in your life in the quilty-sewy endeavours? Have you made Felix before, or another paper-pieced animal? What was the hardest thing to let go of last time you culled the sewing room?

Finished Object: Two-Tone Red 23Skidoos

23Skidoos Tiramisu

At last! At long last, I have my two-tone red 23Skidoo shoes!  I noticed these shoes in an American Duchess teaser way back in January 2012.  Last November, I pre-ordered them with birthday money and was one step closer to the jewel toned oxford t-straps of my dreams.  Nearly a year later they’re finished, I think my 23Skidoo project must be fashion set to “tortoise!”

23Skidoos blank

The shoes arrived, carefully packed and pristine white.  I wore them a few times this way but decided I really wanted deep red/ “light” red coloring.  Blithely, I assumed I could take the shoes to a cobbler and have them dyed.  Not so much, apparently leather dyeing isn’t done in the same way one might have bridesmaids slippers dyed.

23Skidoos in progress1

Instead, I needed to paint the shoes.  I was really unsure about this process so I took my time, roughly six months, getting up the nerve to paint my lovely shoes.  After reading/watching the American Duchess shoe-painting tutorial, I bought two little pots of Angus leather paints- red and black.  I asked Lauren how to best achieve the dark red/”light” red effect and her suggestion was to tint some of the red paint with a few drops of black for the toe and heel caps.

23Skidoos in progress

Stephen and I settled in one evening to paint my shoes.  We’re both handy, painty people so found the work pleasant and different from other projects.  We started out wiping the shoes with Ethyl Acetate to remove any oils or finishing and to allow the paint to stick.

23 Skidoo Shoes in progress

Stephen chose a 1/2″ wide, flat brush with fine bristles.  When I saw how much better it worked than the coarser brush I started with, I switched.

23 Skidoo Paint

The first few layers of paint went on a little unevenly despite the change of brush and I was a little worried!  But after layer 3 or 4, I could see the colors would even out nicely and I relaxed.  Over a few weeks, I left the shoes out where I could see them and occasionally evened out the paint here and there.

23 Skidoo Finished

Then I varnished them with acrylic paint varnish and scotch-guarded for good measure.  I really love the effect of painted leather, I’ve had painted shoes before but didn’t realize it.  It looks like a picked up a tiny scuff!  I can tidy that up, I have my paints to touch it up and then I’ll re-varnish in a more aggressive manner.  I’ll gently roll the upper part of the shoe away from the base so I can paint away those flashes of white, too.  They’re not at all obvious until I wear the shoes…

23 Skidoo from above

I know American Duchess designs her shoes to be comfortable for all-day wear, and I tested it out myself.  I didn’t go to a re-enactment or a dance event (if only!), instead I wore these to work at a show on my feet almost the entire day.  They were great, really supportive and no blisters.  In fact they were great on day 3 after the other shoes I wore ate me up on day 2.  For reference, I have wider-than-average feet and a high arch.  The sides of the shoes are cleverly made so my feet don’t look like they’re overflowing, as can happen with me sometimes.

I’m really happy with the end result, though I do want to touch up a few places and varnish more heavily.  I tend to wear red as a neutral, so red shoes suit my wardrobe.  The two shades still read as a solid shoe while the tonality gives it a little more depth. I don’t think shoe-painting is on my list of “instant gratification” projects, but it is extremely satisfying to know I can paint shoes.  I’m already thinking about the next pair of painted shoes… What about delft-tulip patterned Gibons?  Like the shoes one might find on a delft-blue porcelain figurine.. ?

Here, I’m wearing the 23 Skidoos with my brand new Penelope Tiramisu dress and a Zebra Cuban heel seamed stocking.  Serious stockings, I love them and usually wear fun stockings for work.  The gallery, fabric specs and notes can be found on sewingcake.

I’d like to say many thanks to my local coffee shop Hallowed Grounds for letting us take photos!  Stephen and I had their delicious, refreshing iced cucumber-mint-apple juice that comes served with half a mint bush this time.  It smells so good!

What do you think?  Would you ever paint shoes, or have you?  How *great* is it to finish a UFO?  Who out there wears seamed stockings?

(I know I said before I’d be letting the blog go quieter as I work more on sewingcake, but I had to show you these, I’ve been harping on them for such a long time…!)

A Trip to the Hardware Store!

Sewing with Hammers on the back patio

Sewing with Hammers on the back patio

Today we have Sewing with Hammers!  Because hardware that’s available for clothing varies so widely in type and particular application, I opted this time to show what I’m working with and disambiguate the process for those who haven’t tried it but might if they saw how it works.

Sewing with Hammers

If you’re interested, check out Sewing with Hammers at SewingCake.  This is not at all an exhaustive post on the subject- I want to add jeans buttons and grommets and other fun stuff as it comes up in my sewing.

I took a little trip to the hardware store with my husband today.   I love hardware stores, scanning the shelves for tools and hardware and other things I can appropriate for my sewing room.  I picked up a tiny, perfectly calibrated metal carpenters’ square (I’ve been looking for one for such a long time!)  and a tiny hammer to keep in my sewing room:

A sewing hammer- slim and smaller scale, easier to wield with accuracy.

A sewing hammer- slim and smaller scale, easier for me to wield with accuracy.

The hammer I used last week was rather heavy and came from our house toolchest.  I figured a smaller hammer would suit my purposes better.  Besides, this hammer is clean and pretty, not all manky and manly like the household hammer.

As I roamed the carpentry section of Bunnings, I noticed some really cool work gloves:


I really had no idea such things existed, but obviously this particular style wouldn’t suit my purposes.

work gloves

Then I saw these!  These are serious work gloves, with silicon pads to absorb shock.  I’d been tweeting while I waited for my husband to finish his shopping, so the next part I blame on Gillian:

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I thought that sounded absurd but plausible.  Left to my own devices, slightly bored with a hammer in one hand and a silicone glove on the other, I started to tap my gloved fingers.

Then I tapped harder.  Then I properly whacked my hand with the hammer a few times and felt nothing.  They’re incredible, those silicon gloves.  I convinced myself they were a worthwhile purchase and I went to find my husband.  But when I showed him my fancy gloves, his epic eyeroll sent me back to pick up some simpler (and possibly more useful) neoprene gloves.

Sewing with Hammers

These are lightweight and while I wouldn’t purposefully bang my fingers while wearing these gloves, I do think they’ll absorb some shock and provide protection for my nails and cuticles.   They’re not exactly necessary, but I’m not the worlds most graceful person and I do work hard with my hands.

Do you go sewing shopping at hardware stores?  What have you found there?  I think they generally have higher quality tools/hardware (when you can find it) for lower prices than sewing stores.  What do you think?


Australians- I just want to let you know I found out what was holding up our pattern shipment in Customs.  I’ve sorted it out, and fingers crossed I may get our patterns tomorrow!

Peplum Dress

Meanwhile, I have a Hummingbird Dress to go play with… I’ll be sure to document what I do and upload it to sewingcake!  What do you think about this dress, made up in a black and white stripe?  Maybe with 3/4 sleeves, no collar?

Applique Poll Winner and Catching Up

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Last week, we looked at inspiration for an applique motif to use for a Pavlova Skirt variation.  Tiptoe Through the Tulips and Sweetie Skunks vied with The Birds all week.

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The Birds motif won out!   I’ll play around and feature it towards the end of the Pavlova shipping season when I’m showing you my Pavlova variations, and include a bird and cage template as well as a simple visual reference guide.  What fun!   The inspiration seems to show four bird variations, but I think I’ll stick to one and scale it differently.

A larger bird would have a graphic effect, while little birds would work for a small touch of whimsy.  The inspiration has a little flower, too.  The cage could be fashioned from either bias tape or ribbon of some kind- I’ll rummage around my ribbon drawers and see what I turn up!

You all were really interested in this top- I call her Riviera.   I had 75 emails about her over the weekend, which means she’ll be finalized this week.

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More of you prefer paper patterns than pdfs, but Cake knows how to do both now so we shouldn’t have any issues getting this little top made into a simple but easy to use Riff pattern.  I might not mention her for a little while, but I’ll be sure to alert anyone who signs up here when the Riviera top becomes available.

Meanwhile, there’s more snow predicted for The Little Apple, where our Pavlova Cake Patterns are being held up.  I’ll let you know just as soon as the Pavlova patterns can leave the printer, and we’ll ship them very quickly to all of you who ordered one and to our stockists.

What bird shape do you think would look nicest on the skirt?  In flight?  Stylized?  Peace-dove-ish?  Those of you who applique- what is your favored form of applique?

Tips for Purchasing Fabric Online, Internationally | Lobster Silk Commissions

It’s been a lovely quiet, productive and magical holiday week here at 3 Hours Past.  I’ve been down to Byron Bay again with my girlfriends, I spent time in the country at my in-law’s farm, swam hard and slept long, lazed around with Lila and Stephen for several days of crafting and painting, and have been fine-tuning the Petit Four concept….

Blue Lobster Dress | Half Circle Skirt | 3 Hours PastThanks for all your kind words about Stephen’s lobster painting– he’s terribly pleased with himself and get this– he’s happy to take commissions to paint lobster silk for you!  A few people have emailed me since Christmas to ask where they can get a lobster of their own, and the answer is on Etsy.

Blue Lobster Dress | Dali to Schiap | 3 Hours Past

I’ll pack it carefully in a mailing roll, wrapped around a cardboard tube and wrapped in tissue paper.  It’s ultra light, so the shipping isn’t prohibitive.  He warned me that subsequent Lobsters will be prettier than mine (now he has his hand in) and I’m not allowed to swap!  As if I would.  Check out the Etsy listing for more details and for Blue Lobster measurements.

I’m working on several small projects right now to delight and amuse y’all, finishing off the Pavlova work and finishing up the notes for the Tiramisu 30 Minutes a Day Sewalong that kicks off on January 8th.  I also have several classes lined up for January, and I’m fine tuning a system to make enrollment a breeze for you and for me.

How To Shop for Fabrics Online

I often receive emails requesting help shopping for knit fabrics, more so in the lead up to the Tiramisu Sewalong.  It seems to me that rural areas in general and particularly Canada and parts of Europe have a dearth of quality knit fabrics.  I’m very sorry.  In Australia, I can generally find what I want for knits at The Fabric Store and I’m very lucky to have that resource.

However, I have an appetite for eco-fabrics that my local Fabric Store doesn’t always satisfy.  Also, fabric prices in Australia are shocking.  For example, I can find very useful organic cotton knit for about $22/m on a good day if I’m lucky.  That’s fine in my book because I know the shirts I make from the fabric will be well made and get a lot of wear and in our house we love the way organic cotton feels.  The price also limits my consumption, which is generally a good thing.

This morning, I had a lovely email in my inbox from with a 30% off code (clear1212 for 30% off all fabrics).  They are not sponsoring this post, I am a very satisfied long-time customer and I simply want to show you what a great resource they are for sewists in fabric-poor areas.

I have ordered from them for years and years- at one point I stopped because I couldn’t justify the shipping prices.  Their customer service has always been prompt and thorough.  I am a politely demanding customer and enjoy putting retailers through the paces, just like I stress-test all my designs and fabrics.  I worked in retail for a long time, I know what good customer service should look like.

One time sent me the wrong colors of two lengths of cotton slub knit.  Rather than pay for return shipping they let me keep the mistake fabrics and also sent me the correct colors.  That’s a company who cares about their customers.

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I was recently tempted back to by their tencel georgette and the great range of organics.   I discovered that their customer service has become even better for international orders.  I could see they’d improved and updated the shipping prices when I ordered.  Then to my great shock and surprise, my big box of organic cottons and tencel arrived on my doorstep less than a week after I’d ordered it.  That’s a big big deal to someone like me who has waited 6+ weeks for fabric orders in the past.  Also, the shipping prices weren’t outrageously expensive.

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This is my shopping cart from earlier today.  I have several Cake Patterns projects coming up in 2013 that I want to sample in organic cotton jerseys and twills.  They’re awesome fabrics and since I wear my samples into the ground I’ll use the fabrics I like best.

I have heard nothing but good reviews of the organic French Terry and figured I could make a couple of light tropical sweatshirts for Lila & myself.  The mocha tencel is for another Negroni- I recently bought a length in brilliant blue for a dress for me and it’s a gorgeous fabric.  You’ll see the dress soon, it’s loooovely.

How To Get the Best Price as an International Shopper:

There’s a few little tricks to getting the best price when fabric shopping internationally, small ways of shopping that make a big difference in price per yard (shipping inclusive).  I’ve been doing this a while, but if I’m missed a trick let me know in the comments.

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This morning, I went shopping and loaded up my cart with the fabrics I still need for projects coming up in the next few months, showing zero restraint.  It’s a clearance sale, the prices are already less than half what I’d pay here and I know precisely what I need.  It’s also handy that I sew from a limited color palette, it makes shopping much simpler.

Once I filled it up, I went into the cart and put in my information and held my breath to see the dreaded US-Australia shipping prices.  I also entered my code for 30% off (clear1212).  The shipping was around $64, and the clearance savings was something like $48.  I wasn’t happy with that, for the clearance to be worth my while I wanted the shipping to be less than the savings.

As a rule I never buy fabric online if the shipping costs more than the fabric.

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So I threw out the Tencel crepe georgette.  I don’t have a particular project in mind for it, I just wanted to have a little on hand.  I used it to line the tulle Pavlova skirt and it’s marvelous- cool and light and drapey.

Then I started paring down some of the other yardages until the shipping dropped dramatically from $64 to $24.  In international shipping of all kinds, that’s the way it works.  There’s “tiers” of pricing for various weights of packages and sometimes the difference between a $64 shipment and a $24 is merely half a yard of fabric.  I’m not kidding, it pays to play around with the yardages.

I am happy with my final purchase- if I could find these fabrics here, it would easily cost twice as much as (plus shipping).  *IF* I could find these fabrics here- which is doubtful except for the plain organic cotton jersey.

Swatching For Sewing Confidence

I’ve mentioned consistently on social media and here on the blog as a great source of good knits, to the point it probably looks like I’m on their payroll (I’m not, if only…).  The biggest aversion to purchasing fabric online I hear from y’all has to do with the tactility of fabric shopping.  You want to touch and play with the fabrics before buying.  I get that, I do. Picture 34So order swatches. (and other online retailers) know you want to touch those fabrics first, they want you to love their fabrics and return to them as a happy repeat customer.  It’s in their best interest as a retailer to let you sample their fabrics and to create a positive buying experience for you.

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That’s why they swatch everything they carry.  Even if you live in Antarctica, a small swatch of fabric is cheap to purchase and ship- get several at a time for the same shipping price.  After a while, you get a better idea of what all the information on a fabric listing means because you have ordered before and/or swatched.  I usually toss in a few random swatches when I order other fabrics.

Sometimes I torture test the swatches to be sure the fabric is appropriate for my purposes.  It works really well, and means I spend my fabric money more wisely because I *know* I’m buying the right fabric for the intended project.

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I hope this helps as you sort through shopping for your upcoming projects and for the Tiramisu Sewalong.  Many North American retailers treat us internationals like our money isn’t worth their time.  Most of them, in my experience. is not like that, I have zero reservations in recommending them to anyone.

Do you have any experiences using you’d like to share?  It’s always useful to hear the good and the bad about something, so feel free to express yourself honestly.  Do you have any tips for finding great fabrics online?  Do you have any leads for local indies that carry delicious fabrics in your area?  Share! Let us all know!


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Psst- just over 24 hours left in the Pieces of Cake game on It’s been really, really fun so far.  I got a bit cranky about some of the methods being used to hunt for pieces.  Just a bit- it didn’t sit well with me that most people played the game as intended and others did not.

Next time we do a search game (yes, another one.  I can’t resist, it’s too fun), I would like it if you all would help me set very clear parameters so we’re all on the same page and have a good time.  (If you’re a brilliant tech wizard and you want to show off your tricks, then share them with everyone so we all get smarter.  Sharing is caring)   Assembled Pieces of Cake are rolling into the Pieces of Cake gallery, I am in *love* with the variety of submissions so far!

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Oh oh oh and one last thing before 2012 kicks the bucket- I have a German translation of Tiramisu’s instructions on my hot little desktop, translated by Constance who is opening a pattern and fabric boutique based in Germany.  More on all of that later- but for now if you’re a German-English speaker and you’d like to run your eyes over the translation before I place the text beside the illustrations and publish it, please email me.  Thanks!

(Also, if you’re a retailer or a sewist in a language other than German or English and you’d like to have a crack at translations or proofing in the future, email me.  I’m open.  Let’s work together.)

Pattern Lore: From 7701 to Kimono to Pavlova Wrap Top!

Pavlova Envelope Front | Pavlova Circus

Thanks so much for your support of the Pavlova Wrap Top and Skirt!  She’s up for pre-sale in my Etsy shop.  You can find all the plain, straight-forward pattern information in the Etsy listing.

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The Pavlova Wrap Top has a rich backstory.  Those of you who have been reading 3 Hours Past for a while may well remember my white whale obsession with Advance 7701 last year.

Picture 8Click image for Handmade Jane’s Post

I noticed the vintage pattern when Handmade Jane in the UK made this smashing red version.  I couldn’t find a copy of 7701 in any of my “usual” online haunts, even over the course of several weeks.  I couldn’t even find a similar vintage pattern.  It was so frustrating- the pattern was obviously simple (sleeves all in one with the front) but just outside of the ordinary.  I didn’t think I could just draft it.

Picture 9Jane’s Jersey version made from the original 7701 pattern- click image for post

In desperation, I wrote to Jane and called “dibbsies” on her pattern if she ever decided to sell it.  Jane didn’t want to sell, but she did lend me the pattern!  That’s right- she trusted the fragile, hard-to-find old pattern to the tender mercies of the international postal system during the Christmas rush.  I took that trust seriously and was quite careful with the pattern when it arrived.

Picture 10“wingspan” of the ties on one of the earlier jersey versions of this top.  The back tucks into your clothes to keep your shirt in place and to cover up those muffins!  I love this feature and left it in the Pavlova Wrap Top Pattern!

As is my habit, once I had my mitts on 7701 I started “translating” it to use with knits.  I don’t have a thing against wovens, but at the time I was translating anything I could get my hands on, to see what would happen.  I have this idea that knits (in addition to being super comfy and easy to wash) read as “clothes” to most people who don’t sew.   Knits blend into the surroundings.  Don’t get me wrong- I like to stand out, but if I’m wearing a knit then I feel freer to play around with fun cuts and bright colors- especially for casual wear.

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7701 translated to knits was so much fun to make and wear, I made a pdf downloadable pattern for Craftsy from my drafts.  It came in one size, and the linework and scaling was ugly ugly ugly.  I cringe now, thinking about it.  In fact, if you’re reading this and you bought the Kimono Wrap Top from Craftsy and you haven’t had an email from me let me know!

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Despite its flaws, the Kimono Wrap Top was popular.  I pulled the pattern from my online shop once I decided to make the top into a proper multi-sized pattern.  From my obsession with the cut after reading a friend’s sewing blog to Cake Patterns second release, I thought it’d be interesting to compare the features of the three patterns:

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7701- Vintage pattern.  Woven fabric.  Center back seam, back darts, darts in the front side seam.  Darted shoulder, sleeves cut all in one piece with the body.  Back “muffin cover,” neck facing piece with lapped seam.  One size.

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Kimono Wrap Top- Modern downloadable pdf pattern.  Jersey fabric.  No darts- bust shaping provided through gentle easing in the side seam.  Back seam for chevron effect. One size.

Pavlova Wrap Top | Cake PatternsPavlova Wrap Top– Modern paper sewing pattern and digital download.  Jersey fabric.  Minimalist seaming for quick construction.  Gentle bust shaping through ease in the side seam.  Comes in sizes 30-50″ bust, ties come in lengths suitable for those with 25″-50″ waists.  Ends of sleeves are finished with Cake-standard knit binding.

You can see examples of other simple vintage wrap tops on my Pavlova Pinterest board.

Muffin Cover in action!

Muffin Cover in action!

The Pavlova Wrap Top retains the “muffin cover” and the lapped neck facing (because any other neck treatment is less pretty according to my experiments).  It also features “Shorter” and “Longer” sleeve lengths- length of sleeve from neck is printed clearly on the pattern piece in metric and imperial (2.54cm to 1″)!

The Pavlova Wrap Top is a refinement of a modernization of a vintage pattern.  If I could layer 7701 and Pavlova on top of one another, they would be two entirely different patterns.  I’ve refined and refined the patternwork to be suitable for jerseys- tweaking a line here, removed a dart there, simplified where I could.

Pavlova Envelope Back | Pavlova Circus

I think you’ll dig the end result.   If you have any any questions about the Pavlova Wrap Top pattern, ask below and I’ll be right here to answer!  If you’ve made a Kimono Wrap Top pattern or Advance 7701 and posted it to your blog or Pattern Review, don’t be shy!  Link below in the comments so we can share inspiration!

The Pavlova Circus was a little slow over the weekend-  I figure y’all are a bit busy, and it would be best to outline The Circus slowly and wait for us all to catch our breath.  Now that it’s the last work-week of the year (for many), look out!  If you’ve pre-ordered a Pavlova Wrap Top and Skirt pattern, keep your eye on your inbox for my link to a special gift:

She’s a paper play pattern- Esme, the Petit Four!

Earlier last week, I got the itch to make a rag doll for my little girl.  It’s been a while, and I’ve always adored making silly little dollies.  I started making them when I was not much older than Lila.  I sent an email to Cake’s cover artist, Mikhaela, asking her to make me an Esme dolly face template.  She sent me this back (which I later made into a jointed paper doll):

Esme Paper Doll

We kept happily and feverishly adding little details like fingernails and a bracelet- working like a pair of Xmas elves!  We couldn’t help ourselves and kept pinging ideas back and forth in realtime, I hadn’t realized what fun it would be to work with professional artists (duuuuuh).  This weekend, I sat down and formatted all our little pieces into a Paper Play template for you to print out and enjoy.  I will use this template for all the Petit Four Dolly play during the Circus and post my progress/construction shots to the sewingcake site.

Usually I start messing around with an idea here on the blog and then write about it and y’all let me know what you think.  This time, I’m going to play with this little dolly template during the Pavlova Circus and you can play right along.

I don’t know what will come out of it, but I’m desperate to play around with some soft-doll making.  I have piles of “hair” and beads and ooooh all the goodies I’ve been showing you the past several days… Stay tuned for “Esme Rag Doll” kit giveaways!

Esme Jointed Paper Doll with Pavlova Paper Clothes

The Esme Petit Four Paper Play template is only available as a download to those who have pre-purchased a Pavlova Wrap Top and Skirt.  I will send you an email with the link after your purchase.  It’s my little Xmas present to you!  After the Circus, the Petit Four Paper Play template will be available for purchase in its finalized version as a doll pattern on Craftsy.

The playtime will be found on, with updates and tutorials what what I get up to with my Esme Petit Four template linked to the Esme Petit Four page.  I’ll keep it light, keep it cute for a little holiday crafting with small (or big) people!

Finished Object: The Felted Sweater Tote

It’s fun to make a new thing out of a worthless old thing, in fact sometimes I suspect it’s more fun than starting with new materials for the challenge involved.  While I know better than to try making a silk purse from a pig’s ear (it simply doesn’t work…), I thought I’d try my hand at making a cute tote from a felted sweater like this one I saw a few weeks ago on Pinterest:

Click for source

As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to try it with a hand-knit alpaca sweater I felted several years ago.  I kept it because it hurt too much to let go of the hours spent knitting the fluffy worsted weight yarn into a sweater, not to mention the cost of the yarn.  The Inadvertent Farmer’s tote comes from a smaller gauge knitted sweater- this means the fabric is relatively fine.  This is the type of sweater often found in thrift stores.

Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto says “Are you listening?  The fabric has much to teach us.”  Indeed, as I followed the IF’s excellent construction outline for creating the tote, I realized she and I were working with very different felted sweaters.  While my fabric is thicker, it’s also less densely felted than the sweater used in her tutorial.  The cut edges of the fabric didn’t fray exactly, but they seemed less stable than the example sweater-tote.

I could have tossed the sweater into the washing machine for another round of felting.  Instead, I chose to fold under the raw edges and stitch them in place with some bright embroidery thread.  To me, the fabric looks rather “rustic,” and I thought the simple embroidery echoed that rough element.  Also, while I love the felted roses on IF’s bag, my own felt did not enjoy pretending to be roses.  In fact, it openly rebelled at the idea and I decided it was a battle not worth fighting.

I made two rows of “crafty” embroidery stitches in red before running out of that shade.  I try not to buy new materials for recycled projects, not even new embroidery thread.  The bag laid on my worktable in this state for a few days while I decided where to go next.  I try not to rush a textile recycling project, but wait for the inspiration to come.

Eventually I got sick of waiting around and stabbed another row of pink stitches around the tote’s opening and handles.  I like them, they’re rough and imperfect but not without their charm.  Just like the felted alpaca.  Though decorative, the stitches at these stress points helps stabilize the fabric and prevent it stretching ridiculously.  They reinforce the folded edge of the fabric.

The bag still looked a bit plain, so once again I dug around on Pinterest and turned up a cute felted bow project.  It’s all a bit “crafty” and kind of rough looking, but I don’t think it’s unpleasant.  I like this bow and made a few of them from regular felt, too…

But somehow, despite its charm and my pleasure at making something useful out of a failure, I’m not sure this bag and I belong together.  Look at me!  All bright colors, cool cottons, exposed knees, a bit of a Tropical Lady.  What do I need a fluffy, fuzzy tote for?  For that matter, what possessed me to spend countless hours knitting a worsted alpaca sweater when I live in a place that doesn’t even frost in the winter?

I’ll tell you- I knit this sweater my second summer here.  Yes, summer.  My brain overruled my senses and said “Stephanie!  It’s nearly Christmas- better start knitting something right now!”  So without considering the actual winter weather in my new climate, I knit a virtually unwearable sweater in the middle of the summer.  Yep.  Switching hemispheres is fun.  Even before I felted it, this sweater was doomed.  The winters here are so mild, I had a mid-winter tomato crop this year.

I suppose the sweater is better off as my knitting bag.  Not that I knit as much as I used to…

In case you were like me and the thought of turning a felted sweater into a handy tote never occurred to you, check out a few more nifty felted sweater bags I found:

Click for source.  With applique goodness, and different handle shape.

Click for source- not a tutorial, but nice blog nonetheless.

Click for source. This blogger has many examples, I like this messenger bag.

Click for source- etsy listing for the bag. Great idea though- of course! Use a favorite bag pattern to cut the new bag from the felted sweater. Of course!

Click for source- another way to tackle the re-construction work.

Click for source- one more way to reconstruct

Click for a great resource on selecting and felting sweaters for craft and sewing use.

Wow.  So repurposing felted sweaters as bags is definitely a thing, and doesn’t require sewing wizardry skills.  I like this especially because it seems to me most of us probably have a felted sweater lying around…  Isn’t it amazing that the same source of inspiration (sweater to bag) allows for such a variety of finished projects?

In the lead up to the holidays, I thought I’d work through my hoarded Pinterest craft projects and share my favorites with you.  Simple stuff, easy to make and gift or use as decorations. Christmas is a weird, weird time in Australia if you didn’t grow up with it. (Like the shop windows covered in paper snowflakes when it’s 100 degrees outside…)  Several years of working retail in a shopping mall at Christmas as a teenager forever ruined holiday gift-shopping for me, anyway.  This year I’ll try crafting my way through the Mad Times and we’ll see what happens!

..I’m also experimenting with a couple of ideas for decorating/cooking for a midsummer holiday (have you ever tried roasting a turkey in mid-summer?  It’s so gross, ditto for gingerbread… nuts…), so it’s bound to get a bit strange around here…

I’m also stitching some new things for Lila, finishing the Lonestar Burst quilt, and launching the new Sewing Cake site very very soon!  And I want to start sharing all the 1920’s swimwear ideas I’ve been playing with…

Dressmaker’s Quilt: LoneStar Burst Progress


I’ve been quilting again!  The Lonestar Burst throw began as a pile of fabric samples gleaned from a swatch book some time ago.  I got the itch to stitch them into a throw while I slowly recovered from the worst flu ever a few months ago.

The other day, Lila and I pulled out my completed Lonestar Burst blocks to see what we could do with them.  She thinks quilting is a special kind of magic, and I intend to let her think that as long as she wants.

Before I started this quilt, I knew I wanted it to be a “zero cost” project if possible.  That means using only what I have on hand, no “new” materials.  Lila used to sleep under this fleecy blanket when she was a baby, sometimes.  Now it lies around in a cupboard.  It’s the same weight and thickness as batting, so I’ll use it for this throw.

I decided to stitch a few “string pieced” panels which I then cross-cut into 4cm strips to use for sashing between the quilt blocks.  The blocks looked too plain on their own.  Lila sat beside me and handed me strips at random, it delighted her to no end to help this way.

I decided not to replace the blocks with the colored background with new white backgrounds, opting to keep moving forward with the project. First I stitched sashing between each of the blocks in a horizontal row. That worked out well.  When I joined the rows, I created a jog.  To a certain extent, the sashing masks any irregularities between block sizes.  I set this aside for a while and decided I could live with it.  However, my husband spotted it and shook his head at me.

Fine!  I unpicked the row and re-stitched, making sure my blocks align.  Yes, quilters, I eased the block into the sashing.  That’s kind of a no-no for proper quilting but I’m not a proper quilter.  I just like stitching bits of colored fabric together… and that’s ok!

I like the extemporaneous quality of this quilt.  While I am not a proper quilter, I’m perfectly competent in a variety of techniques, which means I don’t need to carefully plan the quilt before starting.  For a beginner, or for a person who pursues quilting as an artform, a plan is recommended.

But for me, quilting is a palate cleanser or a way to unwind.  I started this quilt when I was desperate to do something with my hands after weeks of being still.  The work continued while I waited impatiently for Tiramisu to go to print.  (The production speed was out of my hands at that point… Quilting was my equivalent of pacing back and forth in a waiting room.) Now I look at those blocks and think about that, and want to complete this project.

The trick to avoiding Area 51 is to work on a large project in small doses, over time.  Progress is progress, and I figure if I work on a project like this once every month or 6 weeks, it’s not a UFO.  It’s just slow.  By the time I finish, I have a warm and friendly reminder of the life I lived while I stitched.  A textile snapshot.

Before I baste, quilt, and bind this throw I want to add a final border.  Can you help me decide which one?  Either border will use white as the background, and remaining scraps of fabric for the feature.  It will be maybe 3-4″ (~10cm) wide:

Click for source- great tutorial for template piecing this block, and an entire quilt using this and one other block. It’s pretty cool.

This is attractive because it’s geometric, simple, I can paper piece it, and it will use small scraps of white fabric.

Click for source, a really cool little quilt and blog post… I’d just use a single “line” of appliqued shapes like these…

I like this one, too.  The lines and the applique stitching will contrast with the lines and the techniques in the main part of the throw.  However, applique can be rather slow and it means I’ll need to use whole strips of white fabric.  That’s not a problem, but it does use more fabric than the square border.

Vote to help me decide, and I’ll get cracking on the borders shortly…

What do you think?  How many quilters do we have here?  I really can’t help myself posting about my quilting, and I wonder how many quilters read 3 Hours Past?  Do you ever string piece?  What do you think about my crazy scrappy throw?

Up Next: Notes on use and abuse of fusible webbing strips, then a reclaimed felted alpaca tote!

Tiramisu should arrive at my house next week!  Swoon!!  When I have a firm shipping date, I’ll gleefully report to the Cake Mailing list, and reveal the next release!

Boobs, Bras, and Quilting

I’ve been paper piecing my final blocks for the Lonestar Burst scrappy throw.  I like to mull while I piece.  Today I couldn’t stop thinking about making bras.  It seems natural to me to discuss bras and boobs while quilting, I guess I’ve hung out with enough quilters to know what gets talked about during an afternoon spent piecing with other women!  So pretend we’re piecing together.

I used a string piecing technique for the middle, which is quite cool and time consuming, but didn’t come out looking as interesting as I’d hoped. The string piecing gets lost.

Boobie Disclaimer- I’m discussing my measurements and underwear preferences in this post.  I usually refrain from both, but this is in the interest of “science.”  I know measurements can be triggering for some, or you may know me personally and have no interest in knowing about my underwear.  That’s cool.  Please stop reading now and come back for the next post, Conversant in Color: Wardrobing.

I tried something using only four colored fabrics that came in two colorways. I like it, but it could be bolder…

Last week, Zoe at “So, Zoe…” posted a great essay about indie pattern companies, and featured many of them in the post.  It’s good, go read it.  In the post, she features Make Bra and I was sucked into their clean, clear website full of photos of bras that look like something I’d like to wear:

Ooooh!  I want to make that!  I haven’t ventured into sewing underwear (do corsets count?), but for me it makes sense.  My bras are dead, dead, dead and I’ve been trying to ignore it.  I can’t afford to buy high-quality ready to wear bras at the moment, but the thought of doing another Target “grab-n-go” doesn’t appeal to me either.  Cheap bras don’t last as long, they don’t fit as well or as uniformly, and I like nice fabrics.  Besides, everything else I wear is made to measure and well sewn, why shouldn’t my bras?

Just scrappy, I like the random ones best…

I’ve been trying to persuade myself to sew some bras for a few months now, but the thought of figuring out the drafting, fiddling with the pattern and gathering all the findings meant I made a pinboard to collect undies inspiration and tutorials, but not much else.  That’s why I was so SO excited to find Make Bra.  The site itself has plenty of info, all kinds of bra styles AND all the findings in one place.  I put together everything I needed for a bra (foam lining and pattern included, but not the fashion fabric) for about 20 euros.  Including shipping from Finland to Australia.  That’s more or less the cost of a Target bra.  Wicked!

I was so excited, I posted about Make Bra on Facebook. That’s where I put stuff I’m SUPER excited about but not ready to blog.  I mean, it’s a balconette bra pattern with all the little pieces arriving at my house! I love balconette bras!  It will take an Act of Dog to keep me from ripping into that parcel the second it arrives and whipping up a new bra.

Then Cassandra asked a very sensible question about bra fitting:

Long story short, I realized I’d skimmed their measurements chart and bought my usual band size- 34.  My ribcage is 33, I’ve worn a 34 band for almost as long as I’ve had boobs, end of story.  Right?

Just scrappy, I like the random ones best…

I bought a 34DD this morning.  Without going into too much detail, I was a 34C before the baby and settled down to a 34D later.  Some of my bras have a 36 band if that’s the cup I could find that fit on the day I went shopping.  I notice those ride up in the back which is a sign of bad fit.  When I was a teenager, my measurements were easy to remember- 36-26-36.   These days I’m a thicker, ever-shifting version of the same shape- 40/41-28/29-40/41.  My bust and hips have expanded more than my waist, to be perfectly truthful it’s a pain to fit my clothes and figure out how to dress without looking either frump-tastic or “sexy”.  But that’s a post for another time..

I may or may not assemble the top this way. I’ll leave it on the sewing room floor until my husband protests or I figure out if I want to just piece another few blocks, make a border, or what.

So after the Facebook discussion I went back to quilting and thinking about bra sizing.  I decided to go back to Make Bra and order the findings for another bra, and to order the size suggested by the instructions below their extensive size chart.  According to their chart, I should add 5″ to my rib cage measurement for my band size.  38.  That puts me in C cup range.

So what am I carrying around?  C or DD?  Who knows?  I do know for sure that bra fitting can be quite treacherous for many of us, so I’m putting myself “out there” as a guinea pig.  What works best?  My intuition and habit, or the sizing chart?   I’ll make both sizes, wear them a bit and we can talk about it.   Make Bra also offers a free pdf panties pattern.  They look pretty good and I keep telling myself to make some panties, so I’ll give that a whorl this week and report back.

Oh!! I want to make this too! It’s the balconette bra, made with stripes and a front closure which is explained thoroughly on their website. A bra hack!

What about you?  Do you find the whole bra sizing mess scary and weird like I do?  How weird are boobs?  Have you ever sewn your own bras?  What are your favorite bra-making resources/inspiration?  I’m a lingerie newb here and I’m positive you’ll know something I don’t, so please do tell me your secrets…

Don’t forget to vote in the Name That Lady poll for Cake’s first covergirl and enter the polka-dot jersey giveaway!