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Finding new markets for your handmade products

Finding new markets for your handmade products

You started your handmade business with the encouragement of your friends and family.  You paid for a pretty logo, planned your range, agonised over pricing and spent longer than you care to admit daydreaming about how “doing what you love” was going to be the key to financial security.  The only problem is, most weeks you’re not hearing the merry ring of sales notifications on your mobile, you’re hearing crickets.  

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How to sew a sheer fabric Brook Blossom Skirt

Sewing the Brook Blossom Skirt with sheer fabric


How fun would it be to use the lined option for the Brook Blossom Skirt with a sheer fabric on top? Make the skirt a little fancier, more ethereal… The thing is, you don’t want to see the elastic (girls’ version) or zipper (ladies’ version) from the outside, so you do need to do things just a little different than when you use only opaque fabrics. It’s really simple, though. I’ll show you with the girls’ version.

(Because of the zipper, the ladies version has more small changes, so that will have to wait for a separate tutorial. Oh, the suspense!)

But first, some general tips on using sheers:

—Go slowly and carefully! Sheers tend to be difficult to work with, so take your time.

—Before you prewash the fabric, serge or zig-zag down the cut edges. These fabrics tend to fray a lot, especially in the wash, so let’s prevent that.

—Be aware that sheers often want to shift when cutting. I suggest using a rotary cutter and mat and pattern weights (small cans of food work great) in rather than scissors and pinning.

—A walking foot, while not necessary, is very helpful.

—To prevent your sewing machine from “eating” the fabric, hold the thread tails out of the way and gently pull them as you start sewing. Keep in mind that you are not using them to pull the fabric through the machine; rather, you are keeping just enough tension on the threads to keep the fabric from being pushed down into the machine. Once you’ve gotten going, you can drop the threads.

—I don’t typically use many pins when I sew, but with these misbehaving fabrics, I recommend using plenty of them. Keep the pins within the seam allowance, though, in case they leave a hole in these delicate fabrics.

—Be aware of your iron temperature! Some types of sheers will require low temperatures.

I hope I haven’t scared you away! You can do it!! Let’s go.

The biggest change you’ll need to make to sew up this skirt with a sheer top layer is to underline the yoke pieces. Underlining is not the same as lining; when you underline the garment, you sew a different type of fabric onto the fashion fabric and then use the joined pieces as if they were one. (You’ll see what I mean in a minute.) The underlining will strengthen the sheer, providing support for the yoke, and also hide the inner workings of the skirt. (Here’s a Craftsy article on the topic if you want more information.)

Pieces to cut

First, cut out an extra yoke (both front and back) from your lining fabric. These are pattern pieces 1 and 3. The picture shows all the things you need to cut from those pattern pieces. Yes, it’s a lot. On the plus side, the pieces are small, so you shouldn’t have to buy extra fabric for the extra yokes.

Fuse the interfacing onto the extra lining yokes, rather than onto the main (meaning sheer) fabric.


Underline the yokes

Layer the yoke pieces you just interfaced right side up with the sheer, also right side up, on top of them. Baste around the edges within the seam allowance. Remember to go slowly and use lots of pins!

Follow the pattern as written until it’s time to attach the skirt pieces to the yokes. There is only one change left!

Attaching skirt to yoke

Namely, the pattern directs you to attach the lining with the wrong side out/right side in. This is to give the most beautiful interior possible. With a sheer top layer, though, you will want the right side facing out, since you’ll be able to see it through the sheer.

It can help to baste (within the seam allowance so you don’t have to remove it later) the sheer skirt to the lining skirt, to keep the two skirts lined up properly.

Continue on as the pattern directs. Those are all the changes!

I love how this simple adaptation makes the already versatile Brook Blossom Skirt even more serviceable. Flower girl skirt? Sure! Fairy princess costume? Why not? And of course, my little redhead loves it for simply playing around at home. And my oldest daughter has already asked for one of her own.

brook-blossom-skirt-with-sheer finished-bbs-with-sheer finished-bbs-with-sheer-2


Brook Blossom Girl Skirt Stand Alone Cover   Brook Blossom Skirt Stand Alone Cover You can purchase Jill’s pattern for the Girls Brook Blossom Skirt as a single PDF HERE or for the Brook Blossom Skirt (ladies sizes) HERE or visit her website to see more of her work HERE or purchase Issue 12 which contains this pattern HERE.

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Bag Fanatics Retreat 2016

I’ve started this blog post about half a dozen times now.  I want to find the right words to describe last weekend at the Bag Fanatics Retreat.  It was such an amazing experience to spend time with people who “got” me.  I came home so inspired and refreshed.  I am so grateful to Kylie and Lisa for bringing it altogether and to all the amazing women I met!

Attendees Bag Fanatics Retreat


I’d wanted to go to a Sewing Retreat ever since I heard there was such a thing.  Hanging out with a bunch of sewing people … seriously could there be anything cooler!!!  When my friend Kylie from Little Moo Designs told me she was organising one with Lisa from two pretty poppets I knew I HAD to go!  Twelve months in the making, the Bag Fanatics Retreat was even better than I could have imagined.

Stacey's at the gap

It was held at Stacey’s at the Gap outside Toowoomba in Queensland.  The accommodation was in cabins with between 2 to 5 ladies per cabin.  I shared with Lyn from Bags by Lynwam and Susie from Twirl Girl.  Luckily, being from Melbourne they were able to give me “Heater Safety 101”.  Boy was it was COLD!!!!  I must be the world’s worst packer for cold weather.  Logically I knew it would be cold, but that didn’t stop me packing 3 pairs of sandals, shorts and cardigans with 3/4 length sleeves!!!

Bag Fanatics Retreat working

When I told my sister we started sewing at 7am and finished at 10pm she thought that was pretty funny.  BUT if you’re into sewing, I think you’ll be pretty jealous, even more so when I tell you all the meals were provided.  Imagine not having to cook or look after anyone else and yet having delicious home cooked breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and desert every day!!!


BFR Bags Included in the retreat registration fee were 4 bag patterns.  The Urban Bucket Bag by Little Moo Designs, the Sew Compleat Shoulder Tote by two pretty poppets, the Rubenesque Hobo by Emkie Designs & the Matilda Bag by Hide4350.


The best thing was all four designers were on hand to help you sew the bags.

My bags from BFR 2016

Here are the bags I sewed! I’m still kind of in awe that I sewed 4 bags in a weekend!!!

The week before the retreat my dog walking backpack gave up the ghost so I really wanted to turn the urban bucket bag into a backpack that I could use when walking Lexie.  Susie showed me how to do it and now Kt wants me to sew her one.

I used the last of my Echino fabric on the Rubenesque Hobo and I’m so happy with how it looks with the dark brown Packer leather.

I kind of cheated a bit with the Sew Compleat Shoulder Tote.  I brought this fabric from Spoonflower for Issue 5 (I used the knit version for a Bonfire Jacket) and had been dying to sew it into a bag ever since.  I skipped the pleating and just used the one fabric to let the fabric shine.

I skipped sewing the Matilda Bag (clumsy me + hammers -> not a good look!) and took the bits and pieces home for Mr Fox to assemble.

For my final bag I sewed my favourite purse pattern.  I first sewed this purse back in 2010 and every few years after my old purse dies I like to have another go at it!  I used this fabric that I’d been hoping to sew a dress for me from … I’ll get that dress sewn one day!


Jen sewing 1

Singer Australia kindly lent me a Heavy Duty 4411 sewing machine to take to the retreat.  It sewed beautifully through mulitple layers and through leather and pleather.  I only broke one needle and that was because I tried to sew through a zip stopper!  I had two sorts of pleather that I purchased from Spotlight for my retreat bags.  The machine had no troubles with the light brown but I think the green must have been “stickier” and the machine wasn’t a fan of sewing it.  I think if I’d used a walking or vinyl foot or tried some of the pleather sewing tips such as sticky tape on the foot or tissue paper between the layers it might have worked better.  All in all I was so pleased and grateful to be able to borrow this machine.

Jen Sewing 2

I would include more photos of me sewing, but turns out I’ll never be a sewing stock photo model as I have a really pained look of concentration on my face when I sew … who knew!


We were also gifted goodie bags.  The amazing sponsors really raised the bar with their gifts!

Sponsors Bag Fanatics Retreat

A special shoutout to Packer Leather.  They’re based in Brisbane and I probably wouldn’t have tried sewing with leather without their samples!

Packer Leather

Your Chance to WIN!

Packer Leather have donated a purple kangaroo hide for me to give away.  If you’d like to win it comment below with what you’d sew with it before 8am 16th September 2016.  The winner will be chosen via


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How to sew a french seam

How to sew a French Seam - by Orange Daisy Patterns

Ah, the French seam. So sophisticated, so couture, so professional. Beautiful on both sides, strong, and with all raw edges completely enclosed, the French seam is my favorite type of seam. I used them in the Girls Brook Blossom Skirt (ladies version, too) to give the skirt a beautifully finished interior. It’s the little things that take an article of clothing from homemade to handmade.

And French seams are not difficult to sew at all! The most difficult part of the whole process is remembering to start the seam off with the fabric wrong sides together.

French seams are best for light- to medium-weight woven fabrics, and are an especially great choice for sheers.


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Interview with Jill from Orange Daisy Patterns

Jill Miller - Orange Daisy Patterns

Jill loves to create, and went to school to become an illustrator. After finding it hard to paint with child’s hands wanting to help, she shifted her creativity to clothing sewing and then pattern designing. As a designer, her creative passion comes through in making beautiful clothing with quality techniques.


Tell me a little about your business and how you got into designing/sewing.

My mom started teaching me how to sew when I was really little—about six years old. We did mostly quilting; I didn’t really start making clothes until my first baby was born. I had one baby pattern, a pattern for a little dress, and I didn’t really like it all sewn up. So I altered the pattern. Liked that version. Altered it again and liked that, too. I realized that you don’t have to sew a pattern the way it was drafted! From there, it was a simple jump to deciding to draft my own patterns from start to finish. After lots more practice altering patterns.

jill 3


What/where/who inspires you?

I’m inspired by vintage details and silhouettes—especially from the 40s and 50s. I’m also inspired by my three little girls. I love to make clothes for them, and I love to see them love what I make, so I’m very inspired by what they like and what they need in their wardrobes.

Jill 1

What’s your best tip for people getting started with sewing?

Go ahead and try it! Sometimes our early attempts work, and sometimes they don’t, but if we fearlessly keep trying, we’ll soon get it figured out. I used to be afraid to sew with knits, but once I tried them, I realized they aren’t scary after all! (Knit clothing can even be a simpler sew, since you don’t usually have closures or seam finishes to do.)

What’s your favorite pattern/thing you have sewn?

That’s a hard question, as I love so many of the things I’ve sewn. Having to choose only one, I’d choose a t-shirt pattern I made for my oldest daughter a couple of years ago. It’s a very simple dolman t-shirt, and its very simplicity is what makes it so fun! I’ve hacked my original pattern into so many variations, it’s definitely the most-sewn pattern I have. Here are some of my variations:

Jill 2

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a shirt to go with the Brook Blossom Skirt. I’m also working on teaching my twin sister pattern drafting so she can join me at Orange Daisy Patterns!

What’s something people might not know about you?

Orange Daisy Patterns is named after the orange gerber daisies my husband brought me when he picked me up for our very first date.

Brook Blossom Girl Skirt Stand Alone Cover Brook Blossom Skirt Stand Alone Cover  You can purchase Jill’s pattern for the Girls Brook Blossom Skirt as a single PDF HERE or for the Brook Blossom Skirt (ladies sizes) HERE or visit her website to see more of her work HERE or purchase Issue 12 which contains this pattern HERE.

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