Friday, 14 April 2017

How I Organise My Sewing Pattern and Fabric Collection

Miss Maggie Rabbit (made by me) hanging out in my fabric cabinet.
Hello friends!

I have a lot of fabric and sewing patterns. Like, A LOT.

This post is all about how I organise my many sewing patterns as well as my fabric stash. So for those of you who are a little OCD, grab that bag of m&m's, sort the colours into different bowls (feels good doesn't it?!) and sit back and enjoy.

Sewing Pattern Storage

My sewing patterns used to sit in boxes where they ended up getting bent or torn or somehow mixed with another pattern.
I tried putting some in zip lock bags for a while, but it just added bulk and made it difficult to store.

I wanted to find a better way to:

  1. Store my patterns
  2. Preserve their quality
  3. Protect them from damage or ageing.

Just a few of my vintage patterns, pre-storage solution

I went searching the web for some solutions and came across the super informative blog post by Lladybird who used comic book storage for her patterns. I knew I had found the solution!!

With four people living in a two bedroom house, space is scarce!

Comic Book Storage for the WIN!
If there is another group of people out there more meticulous than seamstresses about preserving original quality, it's comic-book collectors!

The benefits of using comic book storage is that:

  1. Your patterns are stored in resealable bags
  2. Protected from dirt, dust and grotty hands.
  3. Backed by acid free boards to stop ageing and yellowing of patterns
  4. Holds patterns and instructions in place so they can't tear or get bent.
  5. Protects precious vintage patterns and enables you to handle them without damaging them.
  6. Uniforms the size of your patterns for easy storage and cataloguing.
  7. It just makes them look so darn good!

Vintage patterns all safe and secure

  1. Place one board in a resealable bag.
  2. Slide the pattern envelope at the front of the board and pattern pieces behind the board (if pattern already used)
  3. Seal the bag. 

Lastly I stored them in comic-book boxes for protection and easy storage.

I found the easiest way to organise the patterns was by TYPE such as dresses, skirts, pants etc.
I then arranged them by PATTERN NUMBER, regardless of the brand. Only about 1% of my patterns didn't have a pattern number.

standard size pattern
For opened patterns, I store the pieces at the back behind the card

Large Vogue pattern

Storage Supplies
There are heaps of online sites that sell these (there are a lot of comic-book collectors out there!!) And I bought most of mine off eBay.

Below is the size dimensions of the packaging I used to store my patterns. I used two sizes in total:

Regular Size Patterns:
Smaller patterns such as Butterick, Simplicity, McCall.
  • Storage Boards (modern size) - Size 6 3/4" x 10 1/2"
  • Resealable comic bags - stores up to 6 7/8" x 10 1/2" (17.4cm x 27.6cm)
  • Box - outside dimensions -  8 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 16 3/4
  • Dividers

Large Size Patterns:
Large or bulky patterns such as Victory Patterns, Designer Vogue Patterns, Sewing Magazines, and print-at-home PDF patterns.
  • Storage Boards (magazine size) - Size 8 1/2" x 11"
  • Resealable comic bags - Magazine size - stores up to 8 3/4" x 11" (22.2cm x 27.9cm)
  • Box -outside dimensions - 9 x 11 3/4 x 15 3/4
  • Dividers
A printed PDF pattern in a large size bag. I wrote the details of the pattern on the front of the card and put the printed pieces at the back.
    printed pdf pieces at back
Sewing Pattern Electrical Organisation

I wanted to take my pattern organisation to the next level, and after reading Colette Patterns post about organising their patterns, I downloaded an iphone app (the same one they used) called 'Tap Forms' which is a data based app made for apple.
I'm sure there are other/better apps out there so let me know in the comments if you know any! 

What it does:

  • Allows you to create categories to sort your patterns
  • Makes cataloguing and searching for patterns you own, easy. 
  • Enables you to search through your patterns via the categories you've created, such as pattern company, decade, style etc.
  • Eliminates the need to handle your physical pattern when looking for pattern details such as fabric requirements.

The options are limitless but the categories that I currently have on my phone are the following:
  • photo of both the front and back of the pattern - this is great when you're at the fabric store and you need to know how much fabric and notions you need for your pattern.
  • Decade - I love being able to search for a particular vintage when flicking through my patterns.
  • Pattern Number
  • Pattern Company eg. Burda, Vogue, Victory Patterns
  • Garment Type - eg. Dress, skirt, pants.
  • Box Location - I have numbered my storage boxes and categorised by garment type and then in order of number, but this is a nice shortcut way of working out what box I've stored the pattern in without having to read the labels on the box.
  • Blog Review Link - If I have already used this pattern and blogged about it, a link to my blog post is a nice way to quickly access details on my previous make.
  • Note - For anything extra I want to put in, for example 'missing the sleeve piece'.

Fabric Storage

I recently sorted through my fabric, keeping only what I truely loved and got joy out of looking at. The rest I gave away to charity.

My fabric used to be folded and piled in a dark, lonely cupboard. No matter how neat I tried to keep it, it always looked messy, and you could never see the entirety of what I had.

Now my fabric stash looks like this:

Yes, that's lego on the top of the cabinet #mumlife

The Cabinet
I keep it stored in a glass cabinet called 'fabrikor' (perfect name much?) which I purchased from Ikea. It stands proudly in our lounge room for all to see. I love how my stash has gone from being a pile of shame in the linen cupboard, to an art feature that I constantly get enjoyment out of whenever I sit in the lounge.

How to

  1. Grab one of your large comic-book boards (so useful!)
  2. Fold your fabric in half, selvage to selvage and then again into thirds.
  3. Starting at one end of the folded length of the fabric, roll it around one large comic-book card paper.
  4. If needed, use one pin to keep fabric in place.

Folded in half and then into thirds
Place your board at one end of the fabric with a small amount wrapped around the edge.
Wrap the fabric around the board.

Electronic Fabric Organisation
I have also recently started cataloguing my fabric collection in the same app I use to catalogue my patterns. It's a great way to see what you own and how much of it you have. Also helps you to store certain information like fabric type, designer and where you purchased it which can easily be forgotten otherwise!

Mr. Basil Fox
Miss Maggie Rabbit
On a side note, meet my two little friends Mr. Basil Fox and Miss Maggie Rabbit!
Both were lovingly handmade by me using patterns from Alicia Paulson. Sometimes they like to sit in the fabric cabinet and feed off its joyful energy.

Both of the softies and all of their clothes were hand-sewn or knitted, except for Mr. Basil Fox's jeans, and Miss Maggie Rabbit's dress, which were machine stitched.


There is no doubt that this process takes time. You need to block off a few solid days and it can be tedious work, but once it's done it makes life so much easier. AND it's so easy to maintain.

Cataloguing a zillion patterns might be hard, but once they're done it only ever takes one minute to catalogue and store a new pattern as it comes into your possession. And speaking from my own experience the joy that I get from seeing all my patterns and fabric neatly organised and accounted for is profound.

There are plenty of fantastic different ways to organise fabric and patterns and this is just one of them, so go with what works for you.

Got any other great ways to sort and store fabric and sewing patterns? Or tried another app? I'd love to hear them!


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Redemption Wedding Dress

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress

Last year the lovely Leisl from Jorth and Nichola from Handmaker's Factory put on a special night called 'The Dressmaker's Ball'.

The evening was a fabulous get-together for seamstresses alike to wine, dine and make merry while wearing beautiful frocks that they had made themselves.

Of course I used the opportunity to get dramatic ... and make what is basically a wedding dress.

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress


The bodice is made up of the most beautiful guipure lace that I purchased from Tessuti Fabric years ago and had saved for something special.
It has such a beautiful pattern that is a little different to the typical 'floral' pattern that a lot of laces feature. But the best part is the selvages! It has two different finishes; a beautiful scallop on one side, and a delicate fringe of lace on the other.

The skirt and the underlining of the bodice is made from a drape-y polyester/wool that I purchased from The Fabric Store which just seemed to match the style and the colour of the lace perfectly.

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Racer back tan for life

The Pattern
The bodice is one of my own designs, with a lace back, and an underlined lace bodice front.
The skirt is Vogue 2931 from the waist down and fully lined. I've used the pattern before for the skirt of this dress:

The princess seams of the skirt add a flattering silhouette, while the low lace back and front adds drama and a little bit of sexiness.

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Oh hey sports bra tan!
Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress

The seams of the bodice and lace are finished with bias binding. The dress is closed down the centre back with an invisible zipper
I added the long delicate fringe edge of the fabric along the waistline for a soft, dreamy look, which helps create a flow from the bodice to the skirt.

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress
Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress

This dress turned out just how I hoped and I love the dreamy, bohemian feel of it.

I got married back in 2011 just after my two year sewing anniversary. At the time my sewing was still pretty green so I purchased a wedding dress and made a dress for dancing in at the reception. Our wedding dance was a salsa routine so there was no dancing in a full length wedding gown!

Though I loved my wedding dress, there was a little part of me that was sad that it wasn't made by me.  It's like a rite of passage for seamstresses and usually the most special dress you get to make. I was still pretty new to sewing then and hadn't yet developed my style, so it was probably a good thing I didn't make my dress!  This dress is in a way my redemption wedding dress, five years later.

Julia Bobbin - The Redemption Wedding Dress

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Leather Jacket - BurdaStyle 108B

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B

Oh hey, I just made a leather jacket. NO BIG DEAL!

Yes friends, it has always been a rather ambitious dream of mine to make my own leather jacket, and it just got REAL. It's my first time sewing with leather and I am pretty darn chuffed with how it turned out, if I do say so myself!

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B


The PATTERN is called 'Biker Style Peplum Jacket' or #108B and it's a print-at-home digital pattern from BurdaStyle.

The pattern doesn't include SEAM ALLOWANCES, which personally I find a little bit annoying as it adds extra time to the cutting out of fabric because you have to add them in yourself. But I know a few people who prefer it that way, so each to their own!

The INSTRUCTIONS are also quite basic as they don't include any images. I managed to coast along with out referring to the instructions, but beginners might find this a bit of challenge.
The pattern itself though is excellent, which makes all the exceptions worth it. It's such a flattering and well balanced pattern and it has already been added to my hall of fame.

SLEEVE TIP - When sewing your sleeves to your bodice, look for the little number '11' notches on the bodice and sleeve pieces: these two have to match up. I spent a good hour trying to work out where my sleeves were supposed to sit, as the sleeve seam lines aren't supposed to match up with the bodice seam lines. I had to reset the sleeve three times before I finally worked it out and unpicking seams in leather is NOT fun.

I purchased some beautiful fine BLACK LEATHER HIDES from The Fabric Store in Melbourne. They were about 1mm thickness, which made tackling my first leather project a lot easier.
A special shout out to Katie in the Brisbane store! I had foolishly cut out two arms exactly the same instead of mirrored and I didn't have enough leather to cut out another!  Katie hunted down an extra leather hide for me when they had sold out in all their stores in Australia!

I also used a small leather hide that I purchased in Florence, Italy back in 2013 when I first conceived the idea of sewing my own leather garment. The black matched well and I used it for the collar and the under sleeve.

Remember this dress I made in this amazing SILK FABRIC I made a zillion years ago? Well I had just shy of a metre left which I'd been hanging onto for a rainy day, and I managed to use it to make the lining for the jacket! It's a beautiful silk from Tessuti Fabrics, which is heavy enough for a jacket lining and goes so well with the black leather.

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B


Are you ready for this one? I made zero changes to the actual pattern pieces. ZILCH! That is pretty darn cray-cray for me. All patterns, no matter how good they are, require a bit of tweaking here and there to get the fit right. This was just one of those crazy miracles where everything just WORKED.

Of course I cut a muslin of the bodice first, but liked how it looked so went straight into cutting the leather.

A big change though is I went down a few SIZES. My waist and boobs were measuring around about a size 42 (the pattern comes in sizes 34-42) but I wanted a really form fitting look so I took a risk and cut the size 38; a pretty big difference! I've learnt in the past that jackets can look nicer when they're a little bit smaller, as they tend to be worn open. I have little arms so the size was a true 38; that's one area that you definitely don't want smaller than what you measure.

I also forgot to add 4cm to the HEM of the jacket and sleeves and did the standard 1.5cm seam allowance (curse you no seam allowances!) so the inside facing of the hems is a little shorter, but it still looks good.

I didn't INTERFACE any of the instructed pieces as the leather had enough strength and I wanted to minimise bulk.

I also added SHOULDER PADS to the pattern and I'm so glad I did, as I love how finished it makes the look! It also helped 'push out' the sleeve head easing and really compliments the proportion of the jacket.

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B

This was actually really fun. I love how much a metal zipper is not only functional, but really adds to the look of the jacket. The zippers on the sleeves also mean that you can get a really close fitting sleeve.

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B

My front separating zipper was too long, so I pulled out the excess teeth at the TOP of the zipper with pliers (which is immensely satisfying, I don't know why) and then re-attached the zip stoppers with pliers and a little bit of instant glue. Made me feel so darn accomplished!

My sleeve zippers were a little bit shorter than what the pattern called for - that's all they had in my local store - but it didn't detract from the look at all.

No matter how awesome the bodice of a jacket looks, if the SLEEVES are bad everything looks bad.  The sleeves on this pattern are perfection. They are in two pieces, slim fitting and a nice long length.

I love the stand up COLLAR on this jacket. It's simple and understated but looks so awesome.

PRINCESS SEAMS on the pattern make for a great fit, and is a lot easier when you're sewing with leather. Can you imagine sewing darts in the leather? I'm sure it would be OK but you'd have to take extra care not to make the apex pucker and a dart would certainly add more bulk.

The PEPLUM is such a nice length and not too flouncy. It gives a nice shape to the jacket and makes the waist look smaller.

The FRONT CLOSURE with the zipper in the seam line is genius. Such a nice shape and looks really nice when the jacket is opened.

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B

Speaking of openings, this jacket looks so nice WORN MANY WAYS.

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Fully zipped
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Half unzipped - one lapel down
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Half unzipped - Both lapels down
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Fully unzipped
  • PINS are the mortal enemy of leather. Make sure when you're sewing pieces together you only pin within the seam allowance or you'll end up with some obvious little holes along your garment.
  • STICKY TAPE is your friend! - I'm sure there's a better way, but when cutting out my leather, I attached all the pattern pieces with strips of sticky tape! The sticky tape being not super tacky, held the pattern piece perfectly, and made no marks on the leather when removing it; WIN! Sticky tape also held down my hems while I hand stitched them in place.
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
It's a sticky situation
  • Take the time to double up on PATTERN PIECES. For all the pieces that require two pieces, trace out a second pattern piece (make sure it's a mirrored copy of the original!!). And for all the 'on the fold' pattern pieces, cut out a second mirrored one and join them together to make one piece. Yes it's more time consuming, but it means you can fit all your pieces down on the hide and see exactly how much space you have. Also leather is too thick and moves around too much (especially when you're not using pins!) so you don't want to fold it in half when cutting out pattern pieces. It is best to cut out individual pieces on the right side. It also means you can clearly see any imperfections in the leather when you're cutting out.
  • I'm probably going to get in trouble with someone over this, but I paid no mind to GRAIN LINES when I cut out my leather because this stuff is not woven fabric. I just moved my pieces around to where ever they fit best and went for it! Do avoid the corner sections as those sections are the softest and stretchiest so not as durable.
  • Use a LEATHER NEEDLE! I used a size 14 and it got me through the whole garment without snapping. It's pointier so it makes it easier to get the thread through the fabric. If you're feeling rebellious and don't want to purchase a leather needle, just make sure you change your needle to a new one as a blunt needle will do damage to your leather.
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
  • TOP STITCH EVERYTHING! And I mean everything! When you first sew two pieces of leather together, the leather curls at the seam and makes the seam line look bulky. Ironing is basically useless when working with leather, so I would open out the seam allowances and then top-stitch the seam allowance down. It completely transformed the seam and makes it look finished and professional.
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
  • THIMBLE is a must when hand sewing your leather hems to the lining. Have you tried pushing a needle through leather with your finger? It hurts. Trust me.
  • THREAD LENGTH - I changed my thread length on my Janome from the standard 2.4 (which I basically use on everything) to a 3. The thickness of the leather requires a slightly longer stitch; having a stitch too tight and close together could end up tearing the leather.
  • LEATHER MOVES - I found that when sewing two pieces together on my machine, the top layer of leather moved a lot under the sewing foot. I learnt to get a good grip on my fabric from the front and back as I sewed, but you can buy special sewing feet to stop the fabric from sliding away from each other. I will definitely do this for my next leather garment.

I'm so pleased with how this jacket turned out; I think it might actually be my favourite thing I've ever made! I have already started fantasising about making another in a different colour; jackets just get so much use!

I finished this jacket in time to wear it to Melbourne Frocktails recently, organised by the wonderful Kat from All The Whimsical Things , Renay and Libby.

Here I am posing for a photo with the lovely Nichola from Handmaker's Factory and Leisl from Jorth. Hanging out with like minded women who have made their own clothes is inspiring to say the least. It's probably the only group of people I know that don't mind you feeling them up before you've even asked their name.

Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B

Hope you have all had a lovely week. Let me know if you're thinking of sewing with leather, or if you're already a pro and have got some great tips; I'd love to hear them!


Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B
Julia Bobbin - The Leather Jacket - Burdastyle 108B