Using up fabric scraps: tailor’s ham and tailor’s sausage

I’ve been on the lookout for tools to help me up my sewing game, as well as ways to use up my fabric scraps – so this tailor’s ham and tailor’s sausage project was just perfect!

A tailor’s ham is used when pressing curved seams, to help get a nice natural shape, and the tailor’s sausage is used for pressing sleeves. I have quite a few me-made dresses with short sleeves or darts that I struggle to press properly – these tools will definitely help with that!

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - tailor's ham and sausage

I followed this old tutorial by Victory Patterns on the Tilly and the Buttons blog, which also includes a free downloadable pattern. This was a lovely quick project that I was able to complete in a couple of hours – I made both the ham and sausage after lunch one Sunday while catching up on a podcast, and it was a lovely way to spend part of the afternoon!

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - tailor's ham and sausage

I bought a 1.3m remnant of this lovely dino-print cotton a few years ago in Japan, and had been waiting for just the right project. I ended up only using a small amount of the fabric, so I still have about a metre left for other projects!

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - tailor's ham and sausage

I stuffed the ham and the sausage with fabric scraps from my scraps bin. They both used a LOT of scraps – I emptied one whole bag of scraps into the ham alone! It felt good to use up all of those tiny little bits of fabric and thread that I’d saved for so long, and it felt even better knowing that they were going into something I’ll be able to use for a long time!

Lemon-print Peppermint peplum dress

Today I’m sharing a dress I made at the end of last year during my Christmas holidays – a lemon-print dress hack of the Peppermint peplum top!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

I’ve wanted a lemon-print dress in my wardrobe for a long time, so when I came across this linen-cotton blend fabric on sale at Spotlight, I just had to pick up a few metres!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

Once I had the fabric, I had to figure out what pattern to use. After my previous success with the Peppermint everyday dress, I decided to try my hand at another free In The Folds pattern – the peplum top! I’d seen a number of dress hacks when searching #peppermintpeplumtop on Instagram, and the breezy, swingy silhouette really appealed to me!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

I spent a while making up a toile in a cheap poly/cotton gingham to check the fit and practise attaching the bias tape facing. I ended up cutting a straight size A, with no alterations for fit, and lengthened the peplum ruffles to make the skirt. And I added in-seam pockets, of course!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

To save fabric and to give myself a challenge, I decided to make my own bias tape instead of using the pattern pieces, following this tutorial on So Sew Easy. I made 1-inch bias tape out of two 9-inch squares, which gave me enough bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline, and the raw seam allowances of the waistline! I followed this helpful tutorial to do a mitred v-neck with the bias facing on the back neckline – it was a bit tricky, but I got there in the end!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

I’ve been inspired by blog posts and videos I’ve been seeing about the slow sewing movement. In particular, I’ve been watching a lot of Bernadette Banner’s videos. While I don’t have a specific interest in historical costuming, I was really inspired by Bernadette’s overall process and approach to sewing – to save up for the best quality materials she can afford, to enjoy the process of making a garment, and to spend time and effort on important details like finishing seams and proper fitting. With all of that in mind, I decided to make my dress using all French seams (I followed this tutorial by In The Folds so I could make sure I did the French seams right with the pockets!), and finish the raw seam allowances of the waistline with bias binding.

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

I’m so glad that I took the time with all of those little details, because just look at how neat and tidy the insides of this dress are! I’m incredibly pleased with how it all turned out. I was a little worried that the bias binding at the waistline would be too bulky, but it’s actually totally fine – the swingy, smock silhouette of the dress helps with that as well!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

The easy fit and the linen blend fabric make this the perfect dress for our hot Brisbane summers, and I’ll be able to wear it with a cardigan during the transition to autumn as well. I’m glad I took my time to make this dress as good as it could possibly be – I’m really proud of this make, and looking forward to wearing it as much as possible!

all the little happy things - lemon print Peppermint peplum dress

Using up fabric scraps: scrunchies!

I realised towards the end of last year that my pile of fabric scraps was starting to get out of control. These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make my sewing more sustainable and use up what I have instead of buying more, and to that end, I’ve been on the lookout for projects that I can make with my scraps. One of the easiest projects out there is to make some scrunchies!

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - scrunchies

Scrunchies are definitely having a moment these days – for Christmas last year, a teenager in my life asked for a few because “you can never have too many”! So I dug through my scrap stash and found a few bits and pieces to transform into some easy, cute scrunchies.

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - scrunchies

There are a lot of different tutorials on the internet, but I decided to follow this one on Melly Sews as it resulted in a nice neat finish with no visible top-stitching.

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - scrunchies

I had everything I needed on hand already, including the elastic, and it was such a quick, easy sew that I was able to make 6 in just a couple of hours! While each one used 8 inches of elastic, I decided to make the floral scrunchies a bit wider to give those ones a slightly different look. I really love how they turned out!

all the little happy things - using up fabric scraps - scrunchies

I’m really pleased I was able to use up these scraps and make something both beautiful and useful – the recipient was very happy with this gift! I’m going to keep thinking about how I can use up my fabric scraps in different projects throughout the year – please do let me know if you have any ideas!

Quilts for my nieces and nephew

In 2015, I became an aunt for the first time, and I made my first ever quilt as a gift for my new little niece. I loved the process of designing and sewing the quilt, and it felt so special to give my niece something that was heartfelt, handmade, and intended to last for many years. Ever since then, I’ve made a quilt for each new niece or nephew in our family, and I thought today, to celebrate the arrival of my new baby niece in November last year, I would share the ones I’ve made so far! All of them are sized for a single bed rather than a cot, as I wanted my niblings to be able to use them for a long time.

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

This was the first ever quilt I made for my niece Maddy! Sorry for the blurry photos – I only took a few with my phone before wrapping it up to gift to my brother and sister-in-law! I started work on the quilt before we knew they were having a girl, so I tried to pick out colours that were fairly gender-neutral, and I love the way the palette looks together. I created a mildly complicated half-square triangle design, which was a bit ambitious for my first quilt project, but I think it turned out pretty well!

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

I made this quilt for my nephew Gabriel – again, I started work before we knew he was a boy, so I went with a bright and happy rainbow! I also tried to pick out a few fabric prints that would be meaningful for Gabriel’s parents, like the sheet music blender and the red fox print. The design of the quilt was much simpler than my first one – just an easy nine-patch design with rainbow stripes – which made it much faster to put together!

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

all the little happy things - quilts for my nieces and nephew

This is the latest quilt I made, for my adorable new niece Evelyn! This time, we knew she was a girl before I bought the fabric, so I went all-in and picked out some gorgeous pink prints from Spotlight! I found some cute light grey prints to tone down all those bright colours, and I love how it all looks together. I went with a simple nine-patch design again, so I was able to finish the quilt from start to finish over just a few weekends. After making the entire quilt, I had four nine-patches left over, so I also made a couple of matching zippered cushion covers to go with the quilt.

I have really loved making each one of these quilts, and it felt so special to hand them over one by one as each of my niblings were born! I hope my nieces and nephew are able to enjoy them for years to come!

Gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

Remember my gingham Seren separates? I made them much earlier in the year, when it was a little too cool to wear them… and since then, my weight has changed enough that they no longer fit me. I had spent a lot of time and effort fitting and making the top and skirt, so I was pretty discouraged – too discouraged to try and make alterations!

I still wanted a cute two-piece set to wear through summer, though, but I only had about 1.5m of that lovely Drapers Fabrics gingham left. I spent a while staring at it, wondering what to do… and then it came to me: a Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt set!

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

I made the shorts using the Common Stitch Bellbird shorts pattern, but unlike my tencel version, I cut out an extra-small instead of a small. I think they look a little better in this size, particularly the gathers at the waistband. The only other alteration I made from the tencel version was to reduce the width of the hem, as I wanted a tiny bit of extra length past the edge of the pocket bags.

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

The t-shirt is a super simple hack of the Tilly and the Buttons ‘Bettine’ dress – I just made the bodice and hemmed it! I cut a size 2, which was pretty much perfect, though I sewed the side seams with a 1cm seam allowance instead of 1.5cm to make it a little more comfortable under the arms. To keep the slightly cropped length of the top but also allow for a double-folded 1cm hem, I extended the length of the bodice pattern pieces by 1cm (which was all that my remaining fabric could accommodate!). I also slip-stitched the cuffs all the way around to keep them flush to the sleeves, but decided not to include the cuff tabs to keep the t-shirt fairly simple.

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

Since I didn’t have that much fabric left, I ended up having to include a seam down the middle of the back bodice. I added 1.5cm for seam allowance to the fold line when cutting out the two back bodice pieces, and pressed and finished the seam allowances open after sewing. The seam makes for a bit of an added ‘design feature’ on the back, and turned out quite nicely! After cutting the main bodice pattern pieces and the cuffs, I didn’t have enough gingham left for the facings, so I just cut them out of scrap white cotton lawn I had in my stash.

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

This whole outfit came together in less than a day, as both patterns are really easy to make up. Both of these pieces are comfortable and easy to wear, thanks to the relaxed fit of the t-shirt, the elastic waistband on the shorts, and the light and breathable fabric. I also love that I was able to squeeze both the top and the shorts out of my leftover gingham fabric, with very little wastage left over after cutting – hooray for using up a bit of my stash!

all the little happy things - gingham Bellbird shorts and Bettine t-shirt

I’m glad that I still have a cute set of gingham separates to wear this summer, even if my original plans didn’t quite work out! I love how these separates look together, and I think they’ll mix in really well with the rest of my summer wardrobe!

Tencel Bellbird shorts

With the weather warming up, I wanted to add a few more comfy pieces to my wardrobe that are easy and light to wear on hot days. Enter the Bellbird shorts pattern from Common Stitch!

all the little happy things - tencel Bellbird shorts

I made my first pair as a wearable toile out of comfy dot-print tencel left over from my Cleo pinafore dress and picnic blanket skirt. The fabric has a good amount of drape for these elastic-waisted shorts, and I love the lighter colours for the coming summer months.

all the little happy things - tencel Bellbird shorts

Common Stitch is a great local company that is focused on slow learning and sustainable fashion. They make patterns, sewing kits and made-to-order completed garments, and all the patterns are very classic and simple. I haven’t made anything from Common Stitch before, but I enjoyed this shorts pattern a lot! I love the length and the pockets, and it was very simple to put together – just a couple of hours’ work on a weekend. I cut a size small, but I think next time I’ll cut an extra-small, as the shorts are a little looser in the leg and have more gathering in the waist than I ideally want.

all the little happy things - tencel Bellbird shorts

The pattern instructions were pretty easy to follow, though perhaps not as step-by-step as the Tilly and the Buttons patterns that I’m more used to. There were a few things that I ended up doing differently just based on my experience making the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress, which has the same type of pockets and waistband. For example, the pattern instructions suggested to stitch the elastic first and then sew the casing over it, but I sewed the casing first and then inserted the elastic afterwards because I didn’t want to try sewing the waistband while stretching out the elastic. I also stitched in the ditch down the side seams of the waistband to secure the elastic in place, as I didn’t want it moving or twisting around when I washed the shorts.

all the little happy things - tencel Bellbird shorts

I’m pretty happy with this first pair of shorts – definitely a very wearable toile, and so comfortable! I’m looking forward to making my next ones!

Abstract print everyday dress

This is the second dress I’ve made using the free Peppermint Magazine everyday dress pattern created by In the Folds, and I think this pattern is well on its way to become one of my very favourites!

all the little happy things - abstract everyday dress

I love the simple shape of this dress, and the wonderfully functional pockets and side splits with the mitered corners are probably my favourite little details!

all the little happy things - abstract everyday dress

I made this version with a lovely cotton (sateen, I think?) from Nerida Hansen Fabrics, which features a beautiful abstract print by Alison Willoughby. I picked up about 2.2m in a remnant sale at the recent Finders Keepers market in Brisbane – such a lucky find, as there was just enough fabric to make this dress with very little waste! The everyday dress shows off the large-scale abstract design so well, and the fabric is lovely and soft with a nice drape.

all the little happy things - abstract everyday dress

As with my wearable toile, the only alterations I made to the original pattern were to shorten it by about 15cm at the lengthen/shorten line, and fold the sleeve hem under one more time. The relaxed shape of the dress makes additional fitting adjustments unnecessary, which is one of the reasons why this is such a quick and easy make.

all the little happy things - abstract everyday dress

I’ve already worn this dress to a casual catch-up with friends as well as to a wedding – the breezy style combined with the abstract print really makes for a versatile garment! I’m so glad to be adding it into my wardrobe, and I’m anticipating that a few more everyday dresses will be joining it in the near future!

all the little happy things - abstract everyday dress

Peppermint everyday dress – wearable toile

It’s well and truly spring here in Australia, so to celebrate, today I’m sharing a lovely floral dress that I made from a free pattern!

all the little happy things - floral Peppermint everyday dress

Yes, I’ve finally gotten around to making one of Peppermint magazine’s lovely free sewing patterns, and I started with a beauty – the everyday dress pattern created by In the Folds!

all the little happy things - floral Peppermint everyday dress

This dress has so many elements that I love – a super easy fit, the all-important pockets, sweet little side splits, and a lot of versatility! It’s reversible so you can wear the v-neck or the round neck at the front, and you can transform the look of the dress by wearing it with a waist sash (which is my preference) or leaving it loose and floaty.

all the little happy things - floral Peppermint everyday dress

I made this version as a wearable toile to test out the pattern, using a pretty floral-patterned linen/cotton blend from Spotlight. I cut a size 1 and altered the pattern slightly by shortening it by about 15cm so that the dress would sit at knee length (I’m a very petite 155cm/5’1″!), and folding the sleeve hem under one more time before sewing it down so that it would hit just below my elbow.

all the little happy things - floral Peppermint everyday dress

This was a nice quick make that I was able to complete in a day, and the pattern instructions were very clear and easy to follow. I can’t believe this was a free pattern!

all the little happy things - floral Peppermint everyday dress

I’m in love with my new everyday dress, and I’m anticipating getting a lot of wear out of it this spring and summer! I will definitely be making another one soon!

Felt enamel pin pennant + pin update!

You might be aware that I collect enamel pins, and last year I made some fabric bunting to display my pins. Well, since then, my collection has grown to the point where I was running out of room on my bunting. Thankfully, I remembered this lovely project by Essie Ruth, one of my favourite Australian makers, and set about making a felt enamel pin pennant of my own!

all the little happy things - felt enamel pin pennant

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Little black Bettine

My love for the Tilly and the Buttons ‘Bettine’ dress pattern is very well documented on this blog already. It’s also the pattern I’m primarily using for my ‘souvenir dresses’ – dresses made from fabric purchased during overseas holidays. Today’s Bettine is a little bit special – it’s my third souvenir Bettine, this time made from fabric I bought in New Zealand, but it’s also my fanciest Bettine yet!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

I purchased this beautiful silk/cotton floral jacquard from The Fabric Store in Auckland – it feels so lovely and smooth, and has enough structure to give this dress a little more body than some of my other Bettines.

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

The best thing about making the same pattern again and again is seeing how different fabrics can really change the style of the garment. I’ve made relaxed jersey Bettines, smart-casual cotton Bettines, and now with this silk/cotton fabric, I’ve got a work-to-cocktails Bettine!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

I made my favourite version – pockets and the cuff button tab. I used the last of my cute Japanese buttons on this dress as well, as the slightly shiny floral button really matched the slightly shiny hibiscus flowers woven into the fabric!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine

I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out, and I’m looking forward to wearing it to work in these warmer months!

all the little happy things - little black Bettine