Christmas Sewing Marathon

My sewing machine looks longingly at me from my cutting table. It’s been relegated from my desk to the cutting table when I was finishing up my first semester of my MBA. I haven’t touched my favourite toy in 3 months. I’m definitely feeling it. Sewing is a balm to my stressful soul and for the last 4 months, my soul has been tearing its hair out over all the pressure.


So the weekend before I break from work for the holidays, I went through my stash…and that took a while. I think I have a serious stash problem. Some may call it hoarding but I think of it more as a collection! After I found the near-end of my stash and raked through my pattern collection, I made a Santa style list of things I wanted to make in the 2 and bit weeks I’m off. So I booked myself into Bobbin and Ink for a month subscription (they have a 5m cutting table!!!!) and it’s time to get cracking.

So the list is:

  1. Fix broken skirt zippers x 2
  2. Hem floral circle skirt…made 5 years ago!
  3. Thurlow Pants
  4. Vogue 8577 in blue confetti swap fabric
  5. Denim Maple Skirt in view A
  6. Vogue 1235 in purple Ponte
  7. Harlow Peplum by Violette Fields Patterns
  8. Vogue 1344 in polka dot swap material
  9. colour-block Sweetheart Dress by Pirates for Patterns in blue Ponte
  10. McCalls M7094 in View A
  11. Vogue 8950 in view B with slinky swap fabric (need to find stretch black lace :()
  12. Vinties Overalls by Tadah Patterns for a colleague’s wee boy
  13. Design a baby shoe pattern – because I need to keep my brain engaged

Ambitious? We’ll just have to find out…

All trousers were created equal

As any woman – and probably a fair few men too – will tell you, not all trousers were created equal. I have no problem in admitting I am a curvy lady! I have that classic hourglass figure that people admire…until they try to dress it. My small waist, child-bearing hips and tree-trunk thighs that even a lumberjack would have problems with were not designed to take any trousers off the rack. For most of my adult life, I searched for the ‘perfect pant’. The one that fits at the waist but doesn’t stretch across my thighs so they look like sausages in skin. The ones that fit in the thigh but don’t gape at the waist when I sit down (a.k.a. an open invitation for frat boys to stick pencils down the gap in class)!

Levi comes with pretty close with its CurveID range – I’m a demi curve for anyone interested – but I can’t wear jeans to work. So when I learned to sew over 5 years ago, it was always with the intention of learning to sew a tailored, form-fitting, non-muffin-topping pair of Made FOR Zoe trousers. And now I’ve done it.


Presenting my own custom-fit trousers! I used a pattern as my base for developing a mock-up in calico – it was enough just to make trousers never mind draft a new pattern. I chose the Thurlow Trouser by Sewaholics – Australian sewers can purchase it from SewSquirrel without incurring the nightmare exchange and postage rates. Sewaholic patterns are specifically made for the more pear-shaped figure so their trousers are perfect for my shape. I picked my size and only had to make very minor adjustments to the thighs and straighten the flare leg. The instructions are a breeze, especially with the elements such as a zipper fly and welt back pockets, which i had never done before.

I picked up a nice cotton sateen from Spotlight as my main fabric and a cotton/silk mix for the pocket linings as I wasn’t splashing out on my first try. Cotton sateen is really easy to sew and it also has a bit of stretch to it which was perfect. As you can see from the photo, I picked a more dressy looking fabric than I would normally wear to work so me and the girls are hitting a Spanish restaurant on Friday night to officially launch my trousers – hopefully I get a “Hola Bella dama”!

Asking for business advice is like Googling medical conditions

I’m a planner, I always have been – which explains why I have a “real” job in project management. When I started thinking about turning my love of sewing into something that might make me money I was overwhelmed with the questions and legalities that sprung up. Here’s a few:

  1. Do I need an ABN?
  2. What is all this GST nonsense all about?
  3. How do you actually sell something and will someone aside from my mum really want to buy my handmade goods?
  4. Someone on Etsy already has my name…what the heck do I call myself now?
  5. What’s my market? What is a market?

So, I did what most people do. I gathered a group of friends, bribed them with bottles of wine and food and set about getting some advice. In some ways, I wish I hadn’t. It’s like using Google to try and diagnose a purple mark that popped up out of nowhere – you end thinking you have some kind of viral haemorrhagic fever instead of a bruise. I was left more confused than when I started. I did get some golden gems though, like how to set prices, what to call my sparkly new business and ultimately, the most important, that people would indeed like to buy my handmade wares!

I decided to get some expert advice and popped along to Kirribilli Markets. I had visited Kirribilli years before and was surprised by it – it was thriving where most of the markets in Sydney were dying. I spoke with a woman who sells handmade childrens’ clothing and toys. She gave me the following tit bits of info:

  • Until you are sure you want to commit to this, stay as a hobby sewist – no point in completing all the paperwork for and associated with ABN and GST when you might not stick at it.
  • Be prepared for hard work – especially if you are going to insist on making everything yourself.
  • Social media, social media, social media – oh and some nice looking business cards!
  • Finally, pick a market (of the stall-holding kind) that fits you and your demographic, not the market where you think the most people go.

Sound advice! Finally, the fog cleared and I knew where I wanted to go. I got out my laptop and I drew up a project plan – that’s what happens when your mortgage-paying job is a Project Manager. Equipped with charts, business plans and budget spreadsheets, I got to work