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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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Flat Front Cozumel Shirt Pattern Hack

Hello all you One Thimble fans, I am super excited to be here today with you all.  I’m Suzanne of Winter Wear Designs, and I’ve got a fun and easy hack for the Cozumel that will make it even more versatile in your kiddo’s wardrobes.

This wasn’t the hack that I originally thought I was going to write for you all today, but after a few comments from fellow seamstresses about sons who weren’t huge pintuck fans, or having fears of tackling pintucks, or having fabrics that got lost or distorted in the pintucks; I knew that this was the perfect first tutorial for the Cozumel.  Today I am going to show you how to get rid of the pin ticks and make a flat front Cozumel.  I’ll show you how to make two back options as well, one with a center pleat and one flat back.  And the options just keep coming!!!!


All righty, here’s what you need for this hack:


  • The Front Pattern Piece
  • The Back Shirt Pattern Piece
  • Marking Tool
  • Ruler/Straight Edge
  • Take your Front pattern piece and make a mark at the first pleat marking (closest to the neck opening).
  • Measure from that point 1.5 inches across the shoulder and make another mark.
  • Repeat at the bottom of the shirt.
  • Connect the lines top and bottom.
  • Fold the pattern together so that the lines meet up, pleating out the excess pattern.
  • Use a piece of tape to hold the pattern together.( you can take the tape off later to cut a pintuck version).
  • Take your back pattern piece, measure 1 inch in from center for the pleated back, or 2  inches in from center for the flat back option.


  • Draw a line straight down and line the fold of your fabric up on that line to cut the back.
  • Cut the remainder of your pieces and assemble according to the instructions skipping the pintuck section.
  • *for the back pleat: fold wrong sides together and sew one inch in from the fold 1 inch down.  Press the center of the fold toward the seam to make a box pleat and baste in place.


That’s it – now you’ve got a flat front Cozumel to mix in with your pintuck ones.  What I love about this hack is that is allowed me to use this great print from Hawthorne Threads that would have gotten lost a bit in the pintucks – WOHOOO!

My Boy heads off to his first day of Kindergarten on Tuesday, he’s sweet and silly, and I know he will fly into this next adventure.  So keep sewing for those boys where and when you can!


Cozumel Stand Alone Cover You can purchase the pattern for the Cozumel Shirt as a single PDF HERE or purchase Issue 12 that contains this pattern HERE.


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OT12 Sneak Peek

Not long now till you can get your hands on One Thimble Issue 12.  If you’d like to look inside One Thimble Issue 12 check out this flipbook!

New to One Thimble and wondering how it works?

One Thimble is a digital sewing magazine (e-zine).  It is delivered as a PDF file and you can flip through it like a magazine on your computer or tablet device.  Patterns can be printed out on a regular home computer and assembled as you would with a regular PDF pattern.

Purchasing an issue of One Thimble will get you two download links.

One is the link to the E-zine – it has the articles at the front and all the patterns at the back (but not the pattern pieces).

The second link is to a ZIP file with the stand alone patterns all separate.  You’ll find the pattern pieces here.

If you have any other questions just send me through an email to

One Thimble Issue 12

Keen to get your copy?

One Thimble Issue 12 will be available to purchase HERE after 12th August.

If you’d like to get your copy the day before you can purchase a subscription from HERE.  Subscribers get their copy the day before everyone else!

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