Who’s a Clever Tinker?

I am!

After over 5 years of blogging at ‘little betty sews’ it was time to change.

I started blogging with a baby girl, who was just months old, and two wild little boys. I was a year into my Masters to become a teacher and I needed to earn a little extra cash. So in addition to getting a night job, I started sewing for money. I made kids clothes initially, which I sold at local markets, then I developed my bonnet pattern, which I made in huge quantities to sell both online and to shops. ‘Little Betty’ seemed like a good name for selling kids clothes, but now…well…???

So, times change, people change, lives change. Little Betty just ain’t me no more. So I’ve moved on. I hope you enjoy my new space, but to be honest, not much will change –  just the name 🙂

Bye, Bye Betty!

Hello Clever Tinker!

clever tinker

Wild Flowers Alder

Even though it’s Winter here, I couldn’t help but make another Grainline Alder dress with a gathered skirt. My first Alder, which interestingly was also made in Winter, has been on such high rotation this year that it needed a friend.

So meet my new Liberty Wild Flowers Alder.

I think I’m in love!

(Please excuse the lily white legs. They haven’t seem sunlight for months!)

Despite my complete love for this frock, from the outset this dress was doomed and almost didn’t survive. To begin with I only purchased 1.4m of fabric. Even for me, this is taking scant fabric purchasing to the next level. Had I have even glanced at the post for my first Alder, I would have seen that I barely had a scrap from 1.6m. Thankfully with some very clever pattern placement, I figured I could make it work.

That was until I started to cut the fabric. You see, I did that during one of my very precious kid free days during the recent school holidays. I hadn’t been well and rather than sew like a mad woman, I decided to chill out and cut this dress while watching a movie.

BIG mistake! I found myself so distracted that I seriously effed up the cutting and ended up with the collar, back yoke and dress back with a seam line running through it!!! I also didn’t have enough fabric to cut the undercollar… again.

Thankfully, the fabric is very forgiving (and positively gorgeous!) and you really can not tell that the pieces weren’t cut on the fold.

I really adore this dress and have already worn it to school with black tights and a merino tee for warmth.

I hope you have a great week. I’ve really got to finish my Frocktails outfit!!

Experimenting: Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes

I recently caught up with a bunch of sewing peeps at the Canberra Frocktails event organised by the very lovely, Canberra Sewing Crew.  If you only follow me on this blog you may not know I attended as I clearly didn’t publish the obligatory pics of a new frock or clutch that I made. Unfortunately, the end of semester crunch got the better of me and I wore an existing and much loved silk dress, my Milly Camber. So disappointing!! But I am planning on rectifying this crime against the sewing community by making a three piece extravaganza for the upcoming, sold-out Melbourne Frocktails!

Meeting sewing fanatics in real life is such a treat. You instantly have a conversation opener as you can almost certainly ask about their clothes, which are likely to be made. Unlike when you meet other folk in real life where you ask about kids or work…zzzzzzzz.

Another treat when meeting sewing folk is they often come with all manner of sewing patterns, books, yarn, gadgets or fabrics to drool over. My purchase of this book is the result of one of these show and tell sessions with Nicole. Thanks for being my enabler Nic!

I’m not sure I would have given this sewing book the time of day in Kinokuniya, but after looking through it during our post-Frocktails brunch, I couldn’t help but to order it direct from Amazon Japan as soon as got home. Interestingly, I found this quite a cheap way to buy patterns books, but it did take a little guess work to navigate the site in Japanese.

This book (ISBN 978-4-579-11517-4) is entirely in Japanese and for that reason, I can not tell you the name of the book, so I have named it myself. It is called “Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes”. Catchy right?

I know Burda has a smattering of these types of patterns in their magazines that are often criticised for their simplicity and I have never felt compelled to make them before, but for some reason I just couldn’t resist this book. It might be the disinterested model or perhaps that each top is also displayed on the ground with a cat, but I purchased the book and traced four patterns as soon as it arrived.

The first pattern I made is called “Rectangle with head hole”, well at least that’s what I think it should be called.

I made the top in a purple mercerised knit remnant that I purchased from Addicted to Fabric earlier this year when we took the kids to Canberra.

One of the restrictions to using this book is that every pattern seems to be a fabric eater. I had very limited options in my stash to experiment with.

I believe the book is drafted for wovens, but really wanted to use knits to hopefully improve the wearability of each item. Do you really want to iron clothes to wear on the weekend??

I really like this top, but did modify it a little. As drafted, the front and back panels are asymmetrical, in that the front panel is bigger than the back and the whole top should drape forward. I chickened out of this as I felt that the excess fabric draping at my tummy wasn’t going to be flattering. I also sewed a line of stitching from the hem to just under the arm to give this a better fit. I think this has improved the look, but don’t have any photos to show you of the top prior to adding this stitching.

I think this top is wearable and during winter, can be layered with longer merino tops. I may even brave the circle version next to the rectangle. Verdict = interesting and wearable.

My second experiment is a pattern called “Singlet with rectangle sides”

I really like the shape of this top and plan to make another for summer, or possibly even one with sleeves for Winter.

I used a remnant of poly jersey for this one, but as much as I like this fabric, I won’t be wearing this top as the finishing is appalling! I really struggled with the neck and arm bands as drafted, so next time I make it I will finish them using my own knit sewing techniques.

I really love the interesting drapes on the sides of this singlet top.

Verdict = definitely interesting and wearable. There will be an improved version coming in the warmer months.

Or like I said, possibly one with sleeves for winter.

As you can probably guess, I think “Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes” is an interesting buy. I’ve certainly stepped out of my comfort zone and I like that for just a short time, I was able to step away from my more fitted, preppy, safe zone, into the shape experimentation zone.

The top above will be my next make…

And you never know, I may even become brave enough to make the above “circle with a head hole” or even the “square with head and arm holes!” I think I need to stock up on some larger pieces of knit fabric to get this happening!


Note: I noticed on Instagram that Susan also recently bought this book and Nic has it too, so stay watching their blogs as I’m certain they’ll make something from it soon…. 🙂