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Interview with Irene from Serger Pepper

Irene’s first contribution to One Thimble was the article on Maintaining your Overlocker in Issue 5.  It was a real hit and I was so pleased when she agreed to contribute a pattern to Issue 6.  I really enjoy getting to know sewists from all around the world and have learned so much about my overlocker from Irene’s blog!

Picture Irene is the Italian creative mind behind Serger Pepper.She has sewn for most of her life and her goal is to design versatile PDF patterns you can easily use to sew cute but practical clothes that fit every day of your life.

Irene describes herself as a refashion addicted, overlocker fanatic and she’s got some awesome treats for you during One Cardigan week!

Can you tell me a little about how you got into sewing / designing patterns?
Sewing is been part of my life from the very beginning: my mom decided to quit her day job when she knew she was expecting me. She has been a SAHM until I have been 5 years old.
She had previously learnt to sew from her cousin, who was a tailor, and she has sewn most of my wardrobe (my grandma knitted the rest of it!).

In my early days, the average evening at home was:
mom: tracing a pattern on the sewing table;
dad: unpicking a seam or a basting, sitting on the rolling chair;
me: waiting for scraps of fabric falling off the table, to create doll clothes.
I’ve been probably allowed to sew (under adult supervision) with my mom’s Singer at the age of 5, more or less.

Designing my own patterns has been the answer to the big companies ill fitting patterns! When I was 18, I designed a friend’s wedding dress… sadly I have no photographic evidence of it!

What is your best sewing tip ?
My best tip for sewing is to rethread your sewing machine (or serger) when it looks like it’s not properly sewing: most of the times, the problem is there!Check also My 15 Top Tips on Serger Pepper
15 Top Beginner's Sewing Tips from Serger Pepper

What inspires you?
… almost everything! I work at the front office, on a swimming pool, so I see a lot of people everyday. I often find myself looking at their clothes, trying to figure out how can I mimic design details, instead of listening to them!

Another font of inspiration for me are fashion magazines (You know: Marie Claire, Elle, Vogue…) and… Pinterest! I may say I’m addicted to it! (PS: you may want to follow me at )

What is your favourite pattern and why
I think my favourite pattern is the OneCardigan, at the moment, because of its versatility.
I’ve seen it sewn in so many versions and each one looks like it’s made using a different pattern! I think this is the way to go, for my next patterns: lots of options to mix and match, for added convenience!

What’s something people might not know about you (that you’d like to share)?
I am addicted to coffee, I am a soapmaker (I create my laundry soaps and hand soap/shampoo using olive oil, lye and essential oil), I eat Paleo and I hate surprises (I tend to plan everything in detail, and try to stick to my plans!): this is (more or less) me!

What is your biggest challenge and do you have any advice for someone else in a similar situation?
At the moment, I’m struggling with time management: as a working mom, I’m outside home for most of the day.

I would need to double the hours/day to be able to fit in my passions (sewing/blogging) and some family time in my “spare time”!

The worst part is that I feel like a bad mom when I try to cut out some “me time”, so I don’t think I have advices to give away! I know that too soon my daughter will grow up and I will regret I didn’t spend more time with her… but, in the other side, sometimes I only want to open my Illustrator and start drafting: am I that mean?

See you on Serger Pepper, if you like!

Picture You can purchase Irene’s pattern for the One Cardigan as a single pattern HERE 
or visit Irene’s website to find out more about her other patterns HERE
or Purchase Issue 6 which contains this pattern HERE
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Seeking contributors for Issue 8.


Are you keen to submit a pattern to Issue 8 (14th August 2015 release date) of One Thimble Digital Sewing Magazine?
Submissions are now open!

To make a “pitch” email me for a copy of the “Pitch Inspiration Kit”and then send through your pitch no later than 28th March 2015.

Some patterns can be made to “fit”the theme by fabric choice – so if your idea is independent to a theme please don’t be put off applying.  I’m trialling doing it this way as taking submissions at the same time makes it easier to choose patterns that will work well together.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.


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Refashioned One Cardigan!

Irene from Serger Pepper Today’s blog guest is Irene from Serger Pepper.  She’s sharing with us a tutorial for how to refashion your One Cardigan for a whole new look!You can get a copy of the One Cardigan either as a single PDF HERE or as part of Issue 6 HERE.

Today I’m here to show you how you can make the OneCardigan with a slightly ruffled collar and refashioned set-in sleeves.


As always, when refashioning, you won’t probably find the exact garments I’m using.
And this is good, because you’re going to end with a one-of-a-kind creation!

I have used a black and gold knitted long sleeved shirt and a pair of drawstring sweatshirt pants (+ scraps of a black T-shirt for the back bodice lining).
My shirt had a fun-shaped collar, so I decided to keep it as part of the final design; if you want to recreate it, fold the fabric and cut out the following shape:


To mix up things, I decided to skip the petal skirt portion, lengthening the bodice parts until they hit right below the waistline (in size 5 I have added 16 cm, which are around 6 1/4”).
You can decide to make it longer, to the hips, or maybe make it short like a shrug, cutting the bodice pieces to their original length and leaving out the petal skirt pieces.

Note that refashioning sleeves you will save yourself a lot of time and troubles! Before you go on and cut them out of the fabric, you need to consider:
1) there’s no need of hem allowance
2) there’s no need of underarm seam allowances
→ You need to cut off 1 cm (3/8”) from hem and underarm lines from the paper pattern piece!

If you plan to sew your OneCardigan again in this size, I would suggest you trace your sleeve pieces into a second piece of paper, so you won’t make a mess the next time you’re sewing it from regular fabric (not upcycling).

Alternatively, you can just re-print the sleeve piece, using the practical print chart included in the OneCardigan pattern, that will tell you exactly which pages you need to print for your sleeve in your size!


To make pieces A and B longer, place them above the fabric//shirt and measure the length you decide to add from the bottom edge of the pattern piece toward the bottom of the fabric//shirt.

Instead of the tie or the ribbon originally included in the OneCardigan pattern, I used the drawstring that came with the sweatshirt pants: “use what you’ve got” is my mantra!
Treat the drawstring exactly as you would do with a ribbon, following the original pattern instructions.


Mark down (onto the paper pattern piece) the length you are adding, so you’re sure to make them even (you need to add the same length to the 4 front bodice pieces and top the back pieces, on both lining and main fabrics, parallel to the bottom edge of the pattern piece).


To get more fabric out of my recycled pants, I prefer to start cutting them along crotch seams and inside leg seams.
Laying them flat above the sewing table allows me to better judge how much fabric I have and I can better control grainlines (which are important also when refashioning).


Place paper pattern pieces on top of the pants. Remember to add length at the bottom and to cut 2 mirrored pieces !


If you, like me, don’t have enough fabric to cut the back bodice piece on fold, cut it in two pieces! But remember to add 1 cm (3/8”) along the center back seam!

As you can see I had to include a small graphic into one of the back pieces: I was able to keep it into the seam allowances, so it won’t show into the outside of the finished OneCardigan!


This is what you should have now:


The collar I am reusing was slightly longer than the neckline.
I decided to gently ruffly it to add interest.
To do that I ran a basting stitch along the opened curved side (see the dotted red line?), then gathered, pulling the bobbin thread.


To attach it to the bodice, I followed the pattern instructions given for the hooded version, aligning the collar ends to the ends of the neckline instead of to the center front markings.


Here’s the collar fully basted to the outside layer of the bodice:


Add the lining along the neckline and vertical front seam, following the original pattern instructions.
To hem the OneCardigan without the petal skirt, simply run a seam along the bottom hem of the bodice pieces, placing main and lining fabrics right sides facing.
When you’re done, trim off the corner on front to reduce bulk when you turn it right side out. Reduce seam allowances around the upper rounded corner and clip any other curves.



Having a black and gold lining, I thought it was fun if I let it peek out, for a faux piping effect. Do so that I left it out just a smidge toward the outside, along the edges, then I steam pressed (using a press cloth and a clapper) them in place, to have a crisp and sharp edge.

It’s starting to look like a real cardigan, isn’t it?


Close one of the side seams, right sides together, in one only long seam starting from the lining underarm, ending to the outside fabric underarm, matching the seam you’ll meet around the half-point.

Take it slowly, stop and re-align the fabric if you need to: it will be perfect, at the end!
Just double check you’re not catching your tie/string into your seams!
Press seam open, then press the bottom hem. Repeat for the other side seam.



I would suggest you baste together the two layers of fabrics around each armhole, wrong sides together, to ensure you catch all the layers when you attach the sleeves in the last step.
To do that, align the raw edges and stitch them inside the seam allowances.


Take one sleeve and place it next to one of the armholes, exactly where it will be once stitched in place.


Slip your hand inside the armhole, from the inside of the cardigan. Grab the sleeve and place it inside the armhole, matching:
–    shoulder seams (on both layers) to center of the sleeve head
–    underarm seam to side seams (on both layers)

Align the raw edges and stitch together, then finish the edges with a zig-zag stitch or a serger.


And you’re done!


Now that you’ve learned how to hack your OneCardigan, you should try shopping in your closet searching for a couple of garments to be refashioned…

Give a new life to your pre-loved clothes, it’s fun, it costs nothing and can be a great way to try a pattern style before you cut precious fabric, just to see if you like it.

We did it for this refashioned OneCardigan and we’re absolutely loving the result!

Hugs from Italy, Irene


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Some days I’m a real idiot!

Sew Today Clean Tomorrow I Support Local Badge

I’m a passionate supporter of handmade.  I love that One Thimble gives me an opportunity to support and promote handmade businesses.  And when Rachel from Sew Today Clean Tomorrow asked me to take part in her blog series I support local, I was really chuffed to have an opportunity to talk about something I feel so strongly about.  (You can read her interview with me HERE. )

BUT today I realised that for some reason I hadn’t thought beyond my handmade bubble to see that
“I Support Local” is so much bigger than just handmade.

Kt and Lexie playing minecraft at the creek

It has been typical wet season weather here in Cairns and Lexie (our 6 month old Kelpie cross puppy) is going stir crazy, so I decided to go and get her the biggest bone she’d ever seen!!!! I always buy our meat while doing the groceries and in the twelve years we’ve lived here I’ve never been to the local butcher.  To be honest it’d never actually occurred to me to buy my meat anywhere except from the grocery store.  But I was on a bone mission, so today I went to the butcher.

The butcher seemed grandfatherly (not at all like I’d expected), his wife was packing orders and a younger man (apprentice?) was there too.  I told them what I was after and why and that Lexie is our first dog and that I wasn’t really sure what sort of bone would be suitable (I’m the Queen of TMI).  He asked me about her breed and size and disappeared out the back.  While he was gone his wife asked me about my plans for the weekend and I read the pin board – adverts for other local businesses, a school looking for host families, someone looking to sell their puppies . . . but I still didn’t get it.  The butcher came back with a massive bag of bones for Lexie.  I had my money out and asked him how much and he said, “Oh no, nothing for them, hope your dog likes them.  Maybe one day if you’re looking to buy some beef you might think of coming here”.

And BAM! It hit me.  Local businesses aren’t all pretty, they’re not all “handmade” or “crafty”, they’re not all the sorts of jobs I’d like to do, but they’re run by real people who’re part of their communities.  People who’re trying to make a living and support their families and if they can help the local school find host families then they’ll stick that poster on their wall.

So even though some days I’m a real idiot and somehow miss seeing what’s right in front of my nose, I’m prepared to learn and next time “I’m looking to buy some beef”, you know where I’m heading!

Donaghy's Edmonton Butchers Advert

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A Refashion Primer

Today’s blog guest is Irene from Serger Pepper.  She’s sharing with us a beginners guide to the Refashion Movement! On Wednesday we’ll have an interview with Irene and then on Friday she’ll be back sharing with us a Refashioned version of the One Cardigan!

If you love to sew (and, if you’re reading this, you probably do!), you know how costly this “hobby” can be: you start with a trip to the fabric store “just to grab that half a metre of fabric I need to finish my project” and you come out with a ton of cuts labelled “for sale” or “by weight” that you *REALLY* couldn’t leave there, real bargains… and a much lighter wallet (sometimes without even finding the original half metre you were searching for…). Let alone all those trims, and pom-pom, ric-racs, too-cute-buttons…. oooh! I can’t leave this shop without a handful of lacey exposed zippers! (I know you can figure it out!) Now: do we really need that? Short answer is no. Really? I *NEED* to sew cute things! But hubby is right: we can’t afford a fabric shop bill higher than the groceries one! We must do something!

Enter: Refashion!

When you have a tight budget, like me, you start looking at things from a different perspective, if you still want to be able to do what you really love: sewing. Serger Pepper - A Refashion Primer You start looking at different fabric sources and you think that, maybe, even haberdashery items can be found elsewhere than that cuuute shop right down the street. Ok, but where?

First place to look into is your closet

If you are like me, you are actually wearing half (who am I kidding? More likely 1/4) of your garments.The other ones are

  • too short
  • too long
  • too wide
  • the right colour but the wrong shape
  • the right shape but an awful print
  • … I think you get it!

Ask relatives and friends

See above! Their closets will certainly contain the same amount of “wrong” and unused clothes… Do raid them!

Thrifty shops / garage sales

Another great source for great pieces you can re-use. You can usually get vintage fabrics there, but also curtains, bed sheets and table-clothes, usually hidden because “no one really wants them!”… you’ll get them for a fraction of their original cost 😉 But, if you want to go one step further, you may want to “shop” your thrifty clothes not only for their fabric, but for details too. Let me elaborate, before you think I’m crazy: if you find an awesome XXL coat, full of wonderful buttons, and/or zippers and, maybe, a colourful lining and a warm underlining… wouldn’t you think you won the thrifty-shop lottery? Or maybe you spot a threadbare bag, with holes in the pockets, but still with perfect leather handles and completely un-damaged hardware… can you spot the deal? Grab the seam ripper! Sometimes you can find a huge jersey maxi-dress, with the fullest skirt you’ve ever seen: would you wear it? Probably not! Would you rip it and reuse all that hem? I know I would do that right now! There’s nothing like jersey already hemmed! You know: every little detail can save yourself some work, your wallet some money and Mother Earth some trash… it all helps 😉

Since I’m a great fan of the refashion movement, I’d love to share with you some of my favorite creations refashions, all blogged at Serger Pepper:

Serger Pepper - Posh Beach Robe - FREE pattern in 6 sizes serger-pepper-FREE-pattern-tutorial-Mod-Dress-DIY Serger Pepper - Refashion Tutorial - Bubble Romper - Title Serger-Pepper-Black-Cat-Hat-sewing-FREE-pattern (29) Lovely Panties

If you are Pinterest addicted appreciate Pinterest like me, you may want to pin with us at the “Refashion Obsession Mood Board”.

That’s it for today, see you later this week, when I will share with you a refashioned version of the OneCardigan!

Hugs from Italy, Irene Serger Pepper

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