Odds and Ends

Sewing and mending

Before I launch into my sewing tales, I want to ask if you and your loved ones are okay? I do hope you are staying healthy while this virus rampages around the world. All is good here.

Now, onto other matters:

While I haven’t made a lot of progress on my hand sewing ~ The forest regenerates ~ I have had a productive week with the sewing machine. Once I had it out, one thing lead to another.

  1. A linen jacket

Every so often I hanker to sew a garment. This time I fancied something to layer, not a heavy coat, something lighter. An autumn and spring something.

After a look online I headed to the shop to buy the pattern. Simplicity 8468

[Can I diverge here for some advice? I often look at indie pattern makers, and like what I see. However, I have two obstacles:

  • the price I would have to pay for postage often doubles the price of a paper pattern
  • or they come as a PDF, and I wonder about printing them off. Have you bought PDF  patterns? How did you print them? How would you advise me?]

This shop is one of those huge chain stores, so I wasn’t going to buy my fabric there. Instead I headed to Fibresmith, in Yarraville. When you look at the cloth they have, you will understand why I went there ~ and why I had so much trouble choosing.

My eventual choice was sage green linen. It sewed up so beautifully, giving me a jacket that I know I will be wearing often and for a long while. I love the almost hidden pockets!


Even the Fella said “Not bad” when I did my super-model act for the photo. And I was pleasantly surprised by the photo he took, as I only had to delete half a dozen previous attempts!

So, fired up I moved on to:

2. An addition to a top.

I bought a top in Japan. I wanted to wear it with leggings, again, adding layers. (I love layers!) But it never quite worked. Was the material too light? To floral? Was it too long? Too much like a nightie? Then I came across an idea on Ann Woods’ site. Do you know of her? She is a great one for mending, adding patches, as well as creating owls and mice and dolls and all manner of little things. Most of all I love her gentle writing.

Ann calls it a front bustle, and you can see a photo of hers if you scroll down almost to the bottom of this post.  This is my version.


So maybe the solution to my Japanese top was to alter the hemline. We shall see. (Note how the Supermodel Slippers add an extra elegance!) It was quick and easy to do. Ann has instructions if you fancy something similar.


3. Simple mending

I use old table napkins under the cutting board on my kitchen bench. The hems have given way. The are perfectly useable with wonky hems, but I thought a fancy border might be good. So I did.


4. Slightly more difficult mending

I love long black jumpers, which layer wonderfully, but perfect ones are very difficult to find. I was annoyed when I discovered one of my favourites had been munched. I am sure I had to darn a sock back in my Brownie days, maybe for my Thrift Badge? It gave me a vague idea of what to do. Now I have a jumper that is full of mends, rather than holes.


There will be more, as the poor thing has worn thin over the years. I took a photo showing the light coming through the jumper. You can just make out the green garden through the window!


You know, with all the chaos in the world, it was lovely to do some mending. I can’t mend the world, but I can mend a few little things that I come across. Someone wise on the radio was speaking about the Climate Crisis, and how we feel so overwhelmed. What can one person do? She used the analogy of the Covid-19 pandemic, where we are all doing things to slow down its spread. They might be simple things like washing our hands and not hugging people, or bigger things like self-isolation, but they are things that work. They not only help to protect us and our loved ones, but the wider ~ indeed global ~ community.

We won’t save the world one darn at a time, but add up all the things we do across the globe. Maybe…..

Stay well and healthy.


I have been creating some smaller abstract embroideries that I am calling ‘The jewel-sea’ series. I am going to show them off in my Letter from my Studio this weekend. Sign up if you would like a sneak peek.

By anne54

Botanic artist

32 replies on “Sewing and mending”

Love your jacket Anne. I sometimes buy pdf patterns online, I just take them to Officeworks to print out on A0 paper. Adds a little to the cost but if I love the pattern and will use it for a lot of variations it is worth it. I also prefer the copy paper to trace off (I use a lunchwrap roll for this) than tissue patterns, they are much more hardy.

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for taking the time to tell me that Jo. I had thought of Officeworks, but wondered about size and price. It’s reassuring to hear that you use them satisfactorily. Maybe I should take the plunge!


Hi Anne, I’m glad you and yours are well – long may it last.
I’ve used PDF patterns lots of times. I use my home printer to print them out on A4 sheets of paper, then tape the sheets together as directed. Then I cut the pattern pieces out. The main thing I’m not keen on is storing the patterns after as they don’t fold up neatly but thats not a deal breaker for me. If you have a copy shop close by, some indie patterns have started including an A0 size which means you can get most patterns on to one or two large sheets of paper which don’t need taping together. Obviously this involves the expense of the copy shop though. If you have any more specific questions I’ll be happy to help.

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for the tips. I guess I had visions of printing mountains of sheets and then having the jigsaw puzzle of taping them together. It seemed daunting! Maybe next time I will take the plunge.


You can also convert a .pdf file to another file format using Adobe Acrobat. Not a seamstress, I cannot speak for patterns, but I’ve used Adobe to convert picture and text files to other formats and it works quite well.

Liked by 1 person

I won’t lie – it is a little bit like that. I tend to only buy PDF patterns for garments with fewer pieces – I wouldn’t buy one for a tailored jacket for instance.
Somebody mentions scale further down in the comments. You must print the PDF file out at 100%, no scaling. There is usually a test square of one inch included on the first page so you can print that out and measure the square before going ahead with the rest of the pages.


Hi Anne, glad you’re well. Like Tialys, I have also printed out pdf patterns, but I’m happy with the solution I have developed for storing them. I punch a large hole into each pattern piece and have made a pattern hook (if you Google the term you’ll see what it looks like, easy using thin wire) for the whole garment to hang from. I also print out a photo of the garment and paste this to the largest pattern piece so I can identify it. All of these hang from a rod next to the basket where I store the envelopes with my tissue patterns. PDFs really do make the cost of interesting designs much more affordable.
Lovely jacket, by the way, and it suits you beautifully. I saw the ‘bustle’ on Ann’s newsletter, but it’s not really my thing. Clever idea, though!

Liked by 1 person

That sounds like a great system, Kate. How come I am not surprised that you have the patterns that organised?! Thanks for liking the jacket; it came together very smoothly, with only a small headache making sure I had the pieces going the right way for the pocket. The bustle remains to be seen….


That is a gorgeous jacket! I can understand why you say it will get loads of wear. I don’t enjoy mending but there is something very satisfying about seeing a pile of it finished! I am well and glad to be living away from crowds. The shops here look as if a plague of locusts have hit them as people stockpils and panic buy – not helped by the media being dominated by the virus story.

Liked by 1 person

I am glad you are well too and away from the crowds. The panic buying is such an odd thing, especially as people don’t seem to be stocking up on fresh fruit and veggies, meat etc. ~ things that will give an immune boost to help protect against the virus.


Love your jacket, and your mending! I am going to darn a sock today, so I will only have one more to repair…it will need a new foot. So far, we are good here and the girls are well and safe in MT. Girl #2’s guys is in lock down with his aunt in Italy, but as of this morning they are OK.
As for your top/dress/tunic, I think it is too long for you (unless you want the option of the dress.) if not, I would consider taking off 4-6 inches? If that doesn’t appeal, your front bustle works fine!

Liked by 1 person

I think you may well be right about the length of the dress/top, and the material is really too light to have much weight. At the moment it is in the ironing basket, then I will try it out with the ‘bustle’. If that doesn’t work I will take off some (I agree with you about the amount). If that doesn’t work I will send it to the op-shop! I am glad that you and your loved ones are well.

Liked by 1 person

First off, exquisite work…I wish I were wealthy and could entice you to become my personal wardrobe maker… 😎
Second – your concluding paragraph really reveals your (he)art and expresses beautifully much of what I for one feel…and probably most of the crafting community.

Liked by 1 person

Thank you for the compliments, but I am actually not a very good at sewing. I learnt as a child/teenager, but it has taken me all this time, and many garments I have not been happy with, to learn that the key is in choosing the right material. not a cheap solution, but a satisfactory one.
I think there are many of us who feel the need to mend and heal the world.

Liked by 1 person

It’s not the Covid-19 that is affecting my well being but a personal issue that some of you are aware of. I know I well recover, mentally and be stronger for it but I’m working with it rather than avoiding it…
However, there has been panic buying here, and now it’s emails from places that have my email address – innocent places: retailers, Auckland public transport and more recently my property manager. And usually it two emails with the same details “panic model” IMHO.Some assume I’ve not heard about the virus.

Now, I mentioned recently over on another blog, that I had a winter sweater that needed some attention but I chose to wash it on a seemingly fine morning that went to rain-mode. I’ve got it dry but now need to decide what I do about mending it. I usually try to go for all overall extras – so that it feels a bit more natural, especially if it’s not for home use…

I’ve got some handknitted “Aspen” leaves leftover from Autumn Grunge journal…ummmm

I got lost at the Fibresmith! Wow, some wonderful “other enticing supplies” to be had…but then remembered, “you’ve not able to get to the shop…you’ve here in Auckland, NZ” and travel is apparently not a good idea right now…(yes I know mail order is available but at what cost…)

Keep safe everyone…love from New Zealand

Liked by 1 person

It is probably lucky that you can’t browse at Fibresmiths in person. ALL of their fabric is very, very tempting! And I haven’t dared look at the yarns for this winter’s knitting. ☺️
Are you thinking of adding the leaves to your jumper?
Panic buying seems to be a world-wide phenomenon, a product I suppose of not feeling in control.


yes I think the leaves will look interesting every which way on the jumper – with some predominately on the bigger holes. I just realised that left elbow seems to be a prominent spot on various long sleeved garments… When I sit here, I note my L-elbow is resting on the table…(no long sleeved on today, hot/muggy)

Did people panic buy when Y2K was going to be thing? Or did we just think “there goes my computer”


I love the jacket. Winner. I like front bustle solution for the long top but think it’ll come out much better when you add heels or boots and a floaty scarf to finish the look. Mending is the only sewing I do. Have done it since being taught in primary school by Mrs Mannel how to hem, mend and sew a button properly. My only experience with printing pattern type pdfs has been of recent, creating maps and overlays for my permaculture project. I found a map drawn to scale, scanned and saved as a pdf does not print with the same dimensions/scale as the original even with all the right settings applied. A quick way to check if this might be an issue for you might be to make/print a test/watermarked/sample pdf and compare measurements. All good here on the #covid19 front and I even had the good fortune to have bought a couple of extra-long packs of TP on sale before the hysteria hit. Take care.


I like your idea of the heels and floaty scarf….certainly a better look than slippers! I am not sure the bustle will be the answer, but I will give it a go. All my mending knowledge comes from Brownies and Guides ~ no Mrs Mannel at our school! Thanks too for the heads up about the scale on the PDF.
I am glad that all is well with you. Great win on the toilet paper, and you didn’t have to fight anyone to get it!

Liked by 1 person

Thanks Tierney. I think we would all like to be able to mend the world, wouldn’t we. It is a chaotic and confusing time, and I am glad that everyone is okay in your world.


My pleasure to send it to you Jill. Your blog adds such an important element to my understanding of the world, especially as it is in the States, but I know it taxes you to write it. So it is my little bit to help lift your load!

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Some days it is difficult to process all the atrocities and then write about them, but in truth, the writing of it all helps expunge it, in a way. I could not do other than I do now, but when someone says they appreciate it, it makes it all worthwhile … makes me feel good about what I do. Thanks again, dear Anne!


I was pleasantly surprised at how it looks. Often my things have that Home Made Look, but this doesn’t.
Oh , the humble pillow case. My Mum had to sew them by hand as part of her needlework at school. She says hers ended up looking very ratty and grubby from all the pulling out she had to do.

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Your jacket definitely doesn’t look home made!
The only sewing related thing I ever learned [at school] was how to put a knot at the end of the thread! My Dad showed me how to do ‘invisible’ hemming. I guess he learned how while he was in the army. Everything else I’ve had to learn by trial and error, hence the pillow cases.

Oh, and doonas! I have made European style doonas since the Offspring was a baby. If anyone wants to know, you need a material called ‘Japara’ for the case, which is like a huge pillow case [no channels]. The seams have to be double stitched, and that’s about it.

Once the feathers are in, just give the doona an energetic shake once a day to spread the feather/down evenly. One nice thing about this type of doona is that the feathers settle around your body and help maintain an even temperature all night.

One tip, fill the new doona case in the bathroom [with the door closed]. If you have a bathtub, all the better. Much easier to vacuum up those tiny scraps of down from the tub than from a carpet. 🙂


Hi Anne, now you’ve reminded me that I have a tunic dress to make! I’ve got the fabric and the pattern about 2 years ago now. I used to vow i wouldn’t ever have unfinished projects to do, but I have succumbed. More recently i’ve been machining a crochet panel to a backing fabric which is now to be embellished with tiny beads and them framed in a frame I already have waiting for it. The list goes on.

Your jacket looks great, and I especially like the hemline. The front bustle is a lovely feature that I can see being applied to so many things. Stay well, Anne


Your crochet panel sounds just my sort of thing. Have you shown it to us on your blog? And now you have time to make the tunic dress, and will look glamorous during the lockdown. 😊


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