Welcome to Clothesline Patterns

-the home of Simple, Speedy Sewing.

What Katie Did...

Katie GannonTo find out more about the fashion industry, I interviewed designer Katie Gannon for a college project.  Her eco-friendly label "Mother Maria" is dedicated to her late Polish grandmother, Maria.

Katie started sewing as a teenager, remodeling her own garments from retro pieces she picked up at local op shops.

She's still inspired by vintage  magazines and retro patterns. Many of her unique garments use vintage fabrics collected over the past 15 years.


I love the way that Katie's label and cool blog have a strong social conscience. Her clothing is always created under ethical work conditions, using sustainable fabrics, such as recycled vintage pieces, and organic cottons. 

Since 2004, Mother Maria has grown from piecing together individual garments on a home sewing machine, to now producing seasonal ranges for stockist's Australia wide.

Here's some of our Q & A...

What do you do in a typical working day?

I am usually up at about 6am. I start work at 7, check my emails for about an hour, then it's to the sewing and cutting rooms where I am either designing or getting production ready. I also have to make time to fit in a bit of book-work, web-maintenance, and research before I finish at around 5pm.

What’s your favourite part of running Mother Maria?

Definitely when a new range is finally finished and we get to shoot it, and start marketing the clothes.

Your least favourite task?

I would have to say sewing the same designs over and over many times if I have a lot of orders for it.


What sparked your interest in sustainable fashion?

 When I started looking into the behaviours of major fashion labels and their impact on the environment, I was rudely awakened to how destructive this industry is.


I love your eco-friendly fabrics  and your passion for ethically produced clothing.
Who sews your garments?

I sew a lot of my garments, and I also have several local sewing ladies with whom I contract work out to. I used to produce clothing overseas, but after working with a few factories and seeing the conditions, I decided it wasn't the direction I wanted to take.


How do you ensure that your range is ethically produced?

All of my sewers are now paid between $20-$25 per hour. This means that every piece of my clothing made under the Mother Maria label has been sewn by someone who was paid fairly, and was happy to create the garment, not forced into it due to poverty. 

Any things you've learned/advice/wisdom to expound?

If you want to make beautiful, quality clothing, don't ever try to compete or compare yourself to cut price made in China garments that are all over the shopping centre. If your designs are unique, you will set yourself apart from mass produced clothing. Stay true to yourself and have confidence in what you do!

How would you describe Mother Maria's product range?

Natural, vintage inspired clothing for the modern girl who loves nature and simplicity.

Who is your company’s target market?

Women aged 14 - 45

What's not to love about op-shopping!

Just part of my new stash of fabric...When I spotted a stack of Vogue Designer sewing patterns (circa 1980), I suspected this St Vinnies might have some nice fabric in stock. 

True to form, I found crisp linen (pristine white and prints), crepes, real wool and  shiny silks tucked in amongst their stash. 

And the price?  A princely $16.50 for some twelve metres of material.

Spot the op-shop jeans...Seriously, who can tell the difference between my brand new $65 no-name jeans and the $4 Levis I found op-shopping in country Kenilworth? 

It was so hot camping that I bought the jeans on the right to cut up into shorts, but in the end figured they were too nice and deserved better treatment!

Easiest ever way to convert your jeans to shorts


For those with the same urge to cut up your jeans, I spotted the easiest way to do it on some shopbop.com shorts.

Just turn up the edge once to the outside and stitch.  No messing around trying to put cuffs on your shorts - it stops the fraying just a bit and you get a great look for minimum effort!




New Free Sewing Project - A Wrap Skirt made from two pillowslips

Finally!  Our wrap skirt project instructions are up on-line! 

This skirt is super easy as it is essentially a tube shape with ribbons and hammer-on snaps attached.  Also because it's made of two pillowslips, a lot of the seams are already sewn for you.  The sample skirt in the how-to's is sewn in contrasting colours, just so you can see how it works.

I've also managed to doctor all the How-tos in our Free Sewing Projects so that if you click on a picture, each can be viewed as a slide show with instructions.  Not a grand accomplishment for some, but for a direct descendant of Ned Ludd like myself, I was well pleased... 



Print your own fabric design

Spoonflower.com  is a fabulous American site that prints your designs onto a range of quality fabrics like organic cottons and bamboo.

60's potholder60's fabric designI had a shot at designing some fabric using an old vintage potholder for inspiration.





Agapanthus photoAgapanthus fabricAnother photo I took of an agapanthus blooming in the front yard morphed into this design.  You can see your work in fabric form for as little as $5US for an 8x8 inch swatch.

Spoonflower can also put your fabric design up for sale on their site and you'll receive a 10% commission for your trouble!Just a few of the hundreds of home-grown fabric designs at Spoonflower!

Wardrobe Refashion Sign On

Bit the bullet and took the pledge!

At Wardrobe Refashion, you can sign a pledge for a minimum 2 months, to not buy new clothes, but craft and create your own instead.  Participants can log their progress on the WR blog. 

Here's my first entry:-

Once upon a time, I was an idealistic teenager who came to Brisvegas to do Environmental Studies at Griffith Uni.  Over the years, I've kind of fallen off the green bandwagon, but lately have decided to hop back on.
Why?  In the eighties when I was studying,  lecturers insisted " the sky is falling, the sky is falling!" and a couple of decades later I realise their dire warnings were true...ish... Though the sky hasn't fallen, it has big holes in it, and in certain parts of the world (China for instance) it is in fact constantly brown, not blue.
Re-fashioning clothes is just one little thing I can do that's green, clean and a lot of fun!
So here's some I prepared earlier...
Giant size man's shirt becomes little shift dress...
Big-shirt New-shirt-dress
And here's a skirt refashioned from a pair of pillowslips...


I've signed on initially for 2 months and I'm hoping we can encourage each other to get busy re-fashioning.
I'll try and post some instructions for anyone new to sewing on my website, which is geared at beginners learning to sew.
Thanks for reading!
Carmen @ Clothesline

From French Sleep Deprivation Study blog...At the WR blog, have already spotted this fab refashioning site...

It's in the Bag!

How come all the handicrafts that come out of Japan are so darn cute? They even have a cute word for cute - kawaii.

from Design Collection for Kids 365There are lots of Japanese craft books in print, but they are mainly written in Japanese. So it's a matter of looking at photos/diagrams and working it out from there. My sister-in-law Kia found this cute bag, but couldn't decipher the Japanese instructions.

It's not quite the same, but I managed to make my own version of this one handled bag.

It was so easy, I'll post how-to photos shortly - it's a great project for raw beginners, providing nearly instant gratification.



Not to mention it fits in with our green theme - what better way to quell the uprising of the plastic bag, than by making your own re-usable cloth bags.Make them any size out of scrap fabric -this one's recycled from an old cushion cover and pillowslip!



Re-Fashioning your denims...and the Art of Thrifting!

from ReadyMade April/May 2009Wandering past City Beach, saw some patched denim jeans and said to myself "That'd be so easy to do!" Here's how to attack them, courtesy of a great re-fashioning article in ReadyMade  magazine.

Try it out first on some old jeans- I found a great $8 pair of Levis at an op-shop.

Went out op-shopping recently with a big group, looking for 80's clothes for a fancy dress party. Found that some people hate op-shops, there were cries of "let's get out of here, it smells!".

Personally, I love op-shopping (sorry, Mum). One day I bought a Miss Sixty vest, Country Road shirt, vintage gloves, couple of hand-embroidered cushion covers,and still had enough change from $20 to buy lunch!

For op-shopping novices, here are some tips on thrifting from cult 13-year-old blogger, the Stylish Wanderer.

(Organic) cotton-pickin' story

from Sunday Mail 7.6.09

Summer Rayne Oakes, author of eco-shopping guide Style Naturally was in Brisbane recently for Greenfest. (Missed it, I was out of town, but if anyone went, let me know!) The Cornell Uni graduate modelled these looks from eco-friendly companies for our local newspaper.


Nice to see it's no longer hippy, brown-sack type clothing, in case you were worried!

Lots of the pictured clothing ranges use organic cotton, and here's one of the reasons why.

This story's from Matilda Lee's book Eco-Chic...

"At just 8 years old, Modachirou Inoussa already helped his parents in the cotton fields, and 29 July 2000 started as a day like many others. Modachirou had worked hard and ran back to the house feeling thirsty. Finding no drink, he set off to search for his parents. On his way, Modachirou found an empty container, and scooped up some water to drink from a ditch. That evening he did not return home. A village search found his body next to the empty Callisulfan bottle innocently used to quench his thirst."


Just another death caused by pesticides used on cotton, the world's largest non-food crop. Why do we never hear about them in Australia? Practically all of the estimated 3 to 5 million poisonings each year happen to small farmers in the developing world. Most don't use protective gear, and the costly pesticides are often the most expensive things they own.  Lethal chemicals are kept inside homes to prevent theft. And using empty pesticide containers for water or food is common...

Hmmm... what do you say after that... except a big Yay! for green companies like Sosume (pictured) who use pesticide-free, organically grown cotton fabrics.

Just to wrap it up...

Still working on skirts made from a pair of pillowslips (see previous entry) ...

When I told Remo about my sewing business, he insisted I wear something I'd made to our next church meeting.  Luckily, this pillowslip skirt can be made in an afternoon. (Excuse strange pose - I photographed myself in the bathroom mirror!)

Other experiments include this comfy version made from a pair of really soft, Country Road pillowcases. Thank you Vicki O. for your feedback - and yes, writing detailed instructions is high on my to-do list!  


It's a wrap!...skirt...

Thought y'all might be interested in how ideas for new patterns come about.  This one started with a note from a teacher, looking for an easy wrap skirt project for her year 9 students.  Came up with this little mini  skirt, which I quite liked. There was just one problem - as with most wrap skirts, a strong breeze and it all unwraps rather quickly! 


Hoping to avoid wardrobe malfunctions, I looked into another wrap skirt style that is a large tube shape (so it can't fly open, exposing your undies!).  Round about the   same time, I spied these little dresses in British magazine Sew Hip, made from a recycled pillowslip.

Figuring one pillowcase would not accomodate my hips, I started work on a wrap skirt made from a pair of pillowcases.  Here's some of the work in progress...Front of Pillowslip skirt Back of pillowslip skirt Basically, two pillowslips join to make a large tube shape, which you clip into place with press studs, wrap and tie around your waist.

The ties are made from fabric trimmed from the pillowcases.  It's simple and fast, as it uses some of the seams and hems already on the pillowslips.          


Here's another version that uses a pair of pillowslips that had a blue contrast panel.  Cut it shorter for a mini version. 


Recycle a man's shirt into a dress...

Out op-shopping, I found this huuuge men's shirt that looked like it'd never been worn.  It's big - I'm talking Biggest- Loser-before-shot-size big.


A little elective surgery  -  I cut off the sleeves and took the sides in. Knowing how to take in the side seams on a garment is a useful thing.  Try it out on your Clothesline pattern garments,  if you prefer a closer fit. 

Here's how...

  1. Try garment on inside out.
  2. Pin excess fabric - a bit like in picture at right, but don't pin in so close. (Clothesline patterns don't have buttons like this shirt to help you get in and out of them.)
  3. With pins still in place, carefully take off garment to be certain you can get in and out of it OK.( ie don't make the waist so skinny that you can't get it over your ample bosoms!)
  4. With an ERASABLE marker, draw lines where pins are.
  5. Remove pins and stitch along drawn line.
  6. Trim seams to 1.5cm wide.
  7. Zig-zag finish seams.
  8. Think to self - "Boy, that was easy, I'm not scared of altering clothes any more." 


For this shirt dress, I put a rolled edge hem on the armholes and also sewed in a couple of darts along the bust line for a better fit.

So... that's how dejected Biggest Loser shirts get born again. Give recycling a go - it's eco-friendly and a fun and creative skill for the new recession.

Save the Earth...it's the only planet with chocolate on it.

Download this free t-shirt design at www.green isthenewblack.typepad.comToday, I'm officially starting work on Clothesline's next pattern range which has the working title "Green is the New Black".

Before you think I'm jumping on the sustainable clothing/environmentally-friendly bandwagon just because it's fashionable, let me whip out my green credentials.

Hanging on the wall in the Pool Room of my parent's house is my framed and faded degree from Griffith Uni. It's from their School of Australian Environmental Studies and dates back to the 1980's. Yep, I was a greenie before some of you were even born!

I've fallen off the green bandwagon a few times over the years, but you don't have to be a hippy-loving, cause-fighting, non-leather shoe-wearing, organic-eating, kombi-van-touring, do-gooder to be green. Just do the little things that you can.

I'd like to learn how to make my wardrobe a bit greener, so I've hunted down some background reading to get ideas.   Sifted through some very dull tomes, but found a few gems like these two easy reads.  Source them at amazon.com or put them on hold at your local library.

Tamsin Blanchard - Green is the New Black. For those who love to be ethical, dream of cheap clothes that don't cost the earth -  clothing with a conscience!

Summer Rayne Oakes - Style, Naturally. One-stop resource for all things green. Great profiles on ethical fashion design labels.

Plus out of Brisbane, Peppermint, a new eco-fashion magazine to hunt down... Happy reading!