sewing dressmaking vintage

How using "The life - changing magic of tidying up" to organize my sewing room, landed me in hospital!

When your husband understands that you need to see your Fabric and Pattern Collection to be inspired to sew, you know he gets it.


I have been collecting Fabric and Patterns for quite some time, so I'm sure you can understand I needed a miracle so that I didn't end up dying with the most Fabric. I really don't see how "She who dies with the most Fabric Wins" can be true. I would be looking down from heaven and cringing at my Hope chest (maybe truck load would be more accurate) of fabric being cut up in primary school art classes for collages.... and then eventually thrown out after being on the fridge for a week. That's a reality check for you.


What to do!? Well for starters my clever husband put in some shelves for my Fabric. These shelves were attached to the ceiling via ropes and clear plastic tubes. His main concern was for the Fabric to be off the floor and to be free from sharp edges.

A messy transition period that really needed to happen. I started to really look at my Fabric... all of it!!! You know what I'm talking about! I realized there were quite a few pieces that I really didn't love anymore. I was able to recognize this difference because of my first reactions. The fabric I was still "head over heels in love with" I immediately held and still swooned with joy. My conclusion was I would rather sew up the Fabric I was still in love with and send the "good but not great" on to another home.


At this time I saw a copy of and decided it was a good time read this book and see if I could speed up my tidying up. N.B. I would rather be sewing than rearranging Fabric and Patterns!


Be warned this book is dangerous. Marie Kondo knows her subject and relays in a way that is definitely life changing. Marathon tidying is dangerous ... really dangerous for your back! On page 205 Marie Kondo writes about when her shoulders and neck froze. How timely to read this. Shortly after I bent over to do up my shoelaces and stayed longer than normal! All was not well. Zealous tidying up resulted in an over use of the lower back. I'll spare you the details as it's painful to look back. Anyhoo I'm back in action and tidying smart not fast.

Hopefully looking forward to finally finishing my tidying and on to sewing some really fabulous fabrics into patterns that won't wait... but they have to!

Life is far too short to be making my "may as well sew this" instead of "get out of my way I need this in my wardrobe now" projects.

Thanks to Marie Kondo


I can see clearly now the rain is gone

I can see all obstacles in my way..

Slowly be tidied away....


Final warning "Read the book but take breaks between tidying sessions even if you don't think it's necessary!"


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A Fast Sew vs a Slow Sew

Do both to survive the Sewing slump!!

I remember sewing classes in year 10 at about a slow sew. 10 weeks to make a skirt. Ugggg! I was over that skirt before I finished it!!  

Technique is so important when you are learning to sew. How to buy a pattern, fabric, zip and cotton. There is a need to know these techniques..That's true.


Some people are faster learners than others. Some people can't wait to get that garment off the machine and onto their body. There is nothing worse than finishing a summer skirt just in time for Winter. It's just plain cruel. I think I did one year of sewing at school. In some ways I'm sure the activity was made to last the whole term. Busy work. I can smell "busy work" a mile off. I don't want to fill in my time. I want to make and create and wear what I make, while I am still in love with it. I am a microwave person who was born at a time when slow was the go!

How to balance my impatience with the more complicated patterns I want to make...Make a few quick patterns inbetween. This gives you a well needed boost of energy. It's called "sewing mojo."


Wearing a memade garment that you just whipped up is a real rush....And it's legal! When the Fabric is Fabulous and the outfit design is simple, a Fast Sew is on the table. The Fabric does all the work. You get to wear it after a short time at the Sewing machine. You are "A Sewing Magician!" You have pulled the rabbit out of the hat. People are wondering how you did it. This kind of sewing is addictive. I know all about it... because I am addicted to this kind of Sewing. I can't live without this rush. I am passionate about Fabric and can see it's potential. This is what makes my heart sing. I can do many other things but this is my calling.


If you are in a Sewing Slump maybe what you are making is way too time consuming for the amount of time you have! Why not go to your Fabric collection and find some Fabric you still love and make something that will boost your "sewing mojo" KPI's (Key  Performance Indicators)?!

Work out what your KPI's are first!

KPI Suggestions:

  • You want to feel great and look great in what you make
  • You want to look interesting  
  • You want clothes that express who you are
  • You want to feel younger..But not like a teenager  
  • You want to look classy
  • You want your clothes to bring focus on your  good features and away from anything else
  • You want to feel confident and be visibile
  • You want people to take you seriously
  • Etc

 A few Extraordinary patterns that surpassed my expectations: Burda 6773, Vogue 8780, Vogue 9022, Vogue 1228, Burda 7313


Merits of slow sewing:

  • Exquisite attention to detail
  • A Classic that endure for years
  • A project that grows your skills
  • Work of art 


  • You might not love your new piece, even though you did everything right it ended up wrong
  • Slow to build your wardrobe
  • Might slow your discovery of your Style Recipe

Fast : 

  • Time invested - not too much
  • You have more fresh garments to choose from
  • You wear it while you still love it
  • The rush of wearing something you've just made is Fabulous
  • Your using your Fabric collection   
  • You feel confident and connected to who you are
  • If it doesn't work out (and the Fabric cost didn't break the bank), you get back on that horse faster...another sewing project - Experiencing a failure is part of the Sewing journey. That's how you learn!

Discermment Let's not  go beserk about fast or slow sewing..make what you love and wear it. The reason behind the slow or fast sewing is an important consideration. If you have a working wardrobe that you wear on a regular basis,   and want a creative outlet,  then slow sewing might suit you. However if you need a new wardrobe fast and have a large Fabric collection, then there is no judgement on you...Make it and wear it. You need to feel great in what you wear. It just makes life a lot easier. If you want to keep your wardrobe up to date or seasonal or if you are addicted to Fabric and you just love Sewing...the only way to manage your Fabric stash is to make it into clothes F.A.S.T!


However continually purchasing fabric that never gets made fast or slow is like buying food for the pantry and not cooking . Money, time and storage wastage. Now that is something we can do something about! 

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Burda 7234 Sewing Diary

If I wasn't determined to complete my work in progress (WIP) pile, this dress would never have been completed. Even my new invisible zipper foot (Why did I not have one before now?) couldn't keep my eyes open for long. As an experienced sewer who has made evening gowns, lined and fitted jackets.... I have tackled a wide variety of projects at my sewing machine. I'm brave enough to tackle anything. If you don't stretch yourself you don't learn and grow. Some turned out great ... others never worn. But I've learned a lot over the years. But doubt.... the Big Question... Is this one a time waster?

At my busiest time in life - young children, full time job I had very little time for constructed Sewing. I remember when made a designer lined brown suede jacket. All the elements were what I wanted. After spending 12 months on and off, sewing this jacket. It looked wonderful, however I just didn't love it anymore. I couldn't believe it! This jacket kept me from delving into my Fabric Collection and feeling fabulous. It was a blockage!  I knew that I couldn't afford to do too many of these type of projects anymore. The good news is that now I scan a pattern and see it for what it is.. a time waster or will I be wearing you soon?

Back to this dress... 


I love the Fabric (really love it) and dearly wanted to wear this dress through summer. But this pattern! So many parts to this dress. I'm a visual learner and there were not enough pictures! These Burda instructions... yawn So trying to keep myself awake!


Struggling to get to the end of this dress project so that I can sew something else. Anything else. Something simple! There is only one review of this pattern in Pattern Review. This has me thinking that maybe other people fell asleep too while sewing it and never finished it. Maybe this in your collection too?

I am writing this blog post in the middle of sewing this dress!  This could be an indicator that I may still not finish  this dress either!! Looking and touching the fabric I am determined to keep going. (I did actually finish it) Yeah!!!


Back to the sewing machine... 

Only a few details to finish now. I want to wear it tomorrow! Bruce has some time off and we are going on a date! Sewing is now more focused and I can see the end in sight!

Having a deadline is definitely motivating for me.   

Side seams done now only the armhole facings to go.  So close... No! I can't do the sleeve facings. I think the FOE (foldoverelastic) will look far better and take a lot less time. I cut off the seam allowance on the armhole edges - 15mm/ 5/8 inch before adding the FOE. (Folded the FOE in half along the foldline, sandwiched the Fabric with the FOE and sewed a straight stitch length 4. Butted the folded ends and slipstitched). I'm quite happy with the finish. 


It's Chinese New Year. Goodbye year of the Monkey and Celebrating the new year of the Rooster. It's big in Melbourne.  This Dress Fabric is Oriental, a Cotton Sateen with a small amount of stretch and now I can't wait to try it on!! Completing a few more seams these pattern pieces are now looking like a dress. Not a moment too soon. Finished!


I am fully expecting to make a lot of fitting adjustment for the first try on. Well that's a nice surprise...It fits perfectly! I think I'll sew the pleats on the centre front panel down and take in the  side seams 11/2 inches from the bottom of the dress and taper ( about 13 inch to get the taper right). The dress has a split on the left front of the dress for movement so my tapering of the side seams won't hinder my movement. This cotton sateen has a little bit of stretch for comfort. This Fabric has great feel, stretch, sheen & print.


I am wearing this dress at last and my critique is: 

  • Comfort 10/10
  • Drama 10/10
  • Creative 10/10

Ill give this a big √ of approval!

Onwards and infinity and beyond!

Onwards and infinity and beyond!

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Invisible zips are meant to be Invisible....not You!!

Blending into the crowd is handy if you are on the run from the police!



What happens to our bodies:

  • Not as lithe as they used to be
  • Thickening at the waistline
  • Gravity pulling everything down to the ground
  • Eyebrows fading
  • Hair greying
  • Thinning eyebrows, eyelashes, hair
  • Skin getting Red in patches
  • Wrinkles
  • Mobility issues
  • ETC


That's reality for you! Not all of us experience all of these challenges but we all experience some form of change that pushes us away from centre stage.


We don't want to look 20 we just want to be served at a counter, listened to, included and SEEN!



There are stories that I hear every day that would curl your hair! After time, being Invisible becomes normal. Substandard customer service and allowing the able bodied to have the pavement while the invisible take the grass....oh there are so many more examples...

Don't be afraid to stand out!

Don't be afraid to stand out!

I will say that this situation is able to be changed. We are part of the problem. That's right we are!


When we accept a situation then nothing changes.


Becoming visible is achievable:

  • Colour your eyebrows with pencil
  • Dress better to be treated better
  • Don't wear your gym clothes everywhere
  • Lip pencil helps people see your mouth
  • Update your look... you have changed so update your wardrobe to flatter your changes
  • Hold your ground..stay on the pavement if you want to
  • Speak up ...say what you want with confidence
  • Fake it until it feels normal
  • Wear colour that suits you
  • Get a good haircut and/or colour your hair
  • Wear your good clothes
  • If you Sew ...make a new wardrobe out of your Stash!!

Being part of your solution is a work in progress. Clean out your wardrobe. Donate your clothes (only if they are in good condition) that you don't wear and shop at thrift stores. There are a lot of hardly worn clothes that can be in your wardrobe for a small price. Try them on have fun and only BUY what you love and look great on you.

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The Marriage of Fabric & Patterns. It's a relationship journey!


Sometimes before finding the partner for life there is a bit of copious dating. Not all dates work out.

Not all the memade garments that we have sewn are suitable to stay in the wardrobe long term.

It's worth making new styles and different types of Patterns. Sometimes it just works and the gamble pays off...and sometimes it doesn't. That's what makes sewing exciting. The highs and lows.


It's worth getting some marriage pre-counselling before you walk down the aisle. My husband to be wanted 3 kids. I didn't think I wanted any at all! I don't think I knew this until I was asked. He married me anyway. I asked for 5 years to consider, and we had 2 kids after this time. I like and love my kids too!


What are your expectations of life together?

So you have decided to Sew up a Pattern.

Fitted + Cut + Sewn = The marriage 

Is this a match made in heaven?

Wear it for a day and find out.

Does this garment cheer you on?

Is it a quiet garment that supports you?

Do you feel incredible in it?

Is this relationship meant to last?

Only you will know when you wear it and see if it works in your lifestyle.

Enjoy Mozart's -The Marriage of Figaro with me!  Music to Sew by

Enjoy Mozart's -The Marriage of Figaro with me!

Music to Sew by

W.I.P....never quite made it to the altar - may as well finish it, then you will know!

Just didn't work..parted ways 

No friends to go with a solo garment? ...does it get worn? Make it work harder..see what needs to be made, to make it earn it's position in your wardrobe!


Assessment criteria:

  • Do you look great in it?
  • Feel great?
  • Does it Express who you are? 


Don't wear it too much!

Overdosing in relationships kill the relationship....give them a chance to mingle with the other garments in your wardrobe during the week. Too much of a good thing ruins that fabulous feeling!


  • Mix up how you wear it
  • Enjoying wearing your other garments too

Keep the relationship fresh. Keep sewing. You are on the road to success..... and will be able to celebrate an anniversary in the future!



And that's what it's all about! 

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Sewing Patterns- Love at First Sight

Looking through a Sewing Pattern catalogue is inspiring! The New Season is upon us and Winter or Summer is fading into the background. We are thrilled to see the New Season releases. 


There are reasons we are attracted to the patterns we choose to buy.

Some are:

  • The fabric used to promote the garment
  • The tailoring details
  • The draping Style
  • The designer
  • The lines of the garment
  • The colour the model is wearing
  • The model! We want to look like her
  • Simple with few Pattern pieces
  • Complicated and many pattern pieces
  • Lifestyle needs
  • Dart placement
  • Decade Pattern was produced
  • Comfort  
  • Stretch or woven Fabric  
  • Fashion trend 
  • How much fabric the pattern needs
  • Body shape
  • Body proportion
  • Sewing skill level
  • Your sewing friends have made it

Pattern Catalogues are like dating sites!

We look at the photo, we read the facts, we choose based on what is important to us.

We purchase....we date....

the connection is made.


We take it home and hope for the best. 

We might be a bit too nervous to take it out of the packet, so it sits in the pattern collection waiting. It is not alone. There are many patterns here waiting. Hope is still alive.


We have purchased a Hope!

  • Hope it works on my Body
  • Hope I find the same fabric so I can have exactly the same garment
  • Hope it fits
  • Hope I can look exactly the same as the model
  • Hope I look like I'm in fashion
  • Hope I feel fabulous in it
  • Hope this garment will give me wardrobe options
  • Hope I have the same success my sewing friend had

There is a lot of pressure on this sewist/pattern relationship. It's make or break. 

Looking at the reasons behind our choices helps us make better choices.

Sometimes it's best NOT to make the Patterns in your collection. They could be time and fabric wasters. 


If you date a dangerous guy because you want excitement, then you may get more excitement than you bargained for! Good thing patterns are addictive and not dangerous!

Look at your WHY! 

Save yourself from wasting your precious time and fabric.

If you need help, I am here. 


12 Month Mentoring and Coaching in the Anne Whalley - "Next Level Up Sewing with StyleProgram"
This includes:
•Initial Analysis of your Style
•4 Seasons of Sewing Coaching & Mentoring
•Advice with selecting your best patterns & fabric.
Get ready to get excited about what comes off your sewing table.
My program is designed to take you from the "as is" On and Up to the Next Level.

This program is personally tailored to you. It is fun, challenging and rewarding for every level of sewist.

12 month membership $375- AUD 

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I can resist everything except temptation.. when it comes to Fabric!

What Fabric do you have in your Stash that keeps your Creative Heart beating?

Do you know what you can't say No to?


Look in your Stash and discover the Fabric or Patterns that you will never fall out of love with. You can't and won't because of the elements that make up these fabrics or patterns. 

Is it: Vintage, Natural fibres, Stretch, Woven, Dramatic design, Drapey, Firm fabric, easy care, Crease-proof? ....

Knowing what you really love helps you resist what is "Good but not Great!"


Imagine sewing with Fabric and Patterns you love. Spare time becomes Sewing time. Instead of finding excuses not to sew, you get the shopping, cleaning, cooking and house up to date so you can sew.


If we are excited about our Sewing Projects we make sure we make the time to do them. If we have projects we really don't want to do....we don't. Recognise your heartbeat. If we are excited it means we will have more fun.


Creative activities should be fun and not a drudge. Assess what you are committing your time to. If you have alterations, do small amounts and reward yourself by doing what you love, too!

You are in control of what you say yes to. Say no to the good, so you have more time to say yes to the great!!



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Tomorrow's Vintage Patterns are in your hands Today!

Imagine 10 years from now.... going into an "Opportunity Shop" and seeing the patterns you wanted to make, for sale in the Vintage Pattern section! Unfinished business!

Vintage and non Vintage patterns

Vintage and non Vintage patterns

What stops us from making the Sewing patterns, we bought yesterday, today?

I want to wear this fabric!

I want to wear this fabric!

  • TNT (Tried and True) patterns - new untried patterns always carry a risk
  • Fear - precious fabric can increase the stress level
  • Overwhelmed with the amount of Fabric in your Stash - surprisingly we really can't remember evey piece of fabric we purchase!
  • Overwhelmed with the number of patterns in your collection - ever found that you have purchased the same pattern twice?
  • UFO's  - would you really wear it if you finished it?
  • Disorganised sewing space - it really doesn't take much for this to happen does it!?
  • Time on Social Media - inspiration can be a time vacuum!

Some solutions to help you get to the "make part" of your Pattern and Fabric journey:

I have plans for these patterns

I have plans for these patterns

Spring is only a month away!

Spring is only a month away!

Just a few of the many Vintage Patterns from my collection!

Just a few of the many Vintage Patterns from my collection!

  • Try to make one new pattern from your unused collection
  • Open the new pattern and look at the instructions and use Google to research the pattern. 
  • Sort your fabric into Summer and Winter at the very least and really look at it. You won't need to use any petrol for this activity!
  • Pop those UFO's in a bag and donate to a thrift shop. Your Time is precious
  • Clear the benches, put pattern pieces away and while you're at it do a quick clean of the benches in the house. Secret tip: just do a 30 minute focussed tidy up!
  • Sort your patterns into skirts, dresses, pants, jackets and put the ones you most want to make, at the front. Use shallow cardboard boxes so you can file vertically for easy viewing access
  • Make up a batch of soup or a casserole so that you have food for the family!
  • Put your phone away from your workspace and check it at regular intervals
  • Tick these completed garments off your list
  • Smile smugly and know that no future young whippersnapper will get to do what you never got time to do! 
You are in charge of what fabric and pattern you decide to make!

You are in charge of what fabric and pattern you decide to make!

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