Backpack rain cover

In the spirit of giftable items, here’s a project that I made a little while ago, but which has taken some time to make it onto the blog as a tutorial…

A waterproof backpack cover that’s great for rainy days cycling or hiking but which also has reflective tape which makes it extra handy for evening safety!


  • Waterproof fabric (like ripstop) I used 1m but it depends on your bag measurements
  • Round elastic, to thread through casing
  • Toggle to fit elastic
  • Reflective tape, enough to extend past the edges of your bag

I used fluro ripstop and I sewed on the reflective tape and didn’t bother doing anything to seal the back to make it super waterproof. I based the construction on this pack cover, which I snuck into the store and looked at, in person.

The piece of fabric that I cut out, ended up looking like this. I basically made sure the backpack was as full of stuff as it ever would be, and then I measured the length, depth, height, etc. all round. Basically, I wanted to create a shape that would kind of mirror the backpack, and leave enough for me to fold over the hem to add elastic to.

Below, the red dots indicate the top and bottom extremities of the bag, with the 16″ being the top and the 22″ being the length of the sides (ish)

I did make a toile to make sure that it fit, by cutting fabric out according to the scheme and sewing up the 4 sides (no proper finishing). I decided that I was happy with that, so cut into my ripstop fabric. I actually just serged the 4 corner parts together (with my matching fluro overlocking thread) and then I turned back a hem, then folded that under and used the overlocker (with the blade still engaged) to basically cut and re-attach the hem as a casing.

That sounds confusing to explain, but I had the bag on the table, right side facing down. I folded back the hem (so the hem was facing me), and then I flipped that underneath, so that it was facing the right side. This meant that when I was overlocking, I was feeding 3 layers in, overlocking the edge where the red overlocked section is above.

This made a casing where I threaded through some round elastic/stretchy cord, which I threaded through a toggle and then knotted and burnt to seal off.

Before threading the elastic through though, I sewed on the high-vis reflective tape (that stuff is strangely expensive). I had intended to leave the middle part open so that a bike light could be slotted right there for peak visibility, but I was informed that that was unnecessary. Stick on tape could have been an interesting thing to try out (but would have made it harder to leave a loop open for the theoretical bike light.


This cover is now over a year-and-a-half old and it’s held up well to use during the rain and also during the colder months when the sun sets early (the reflective tape makes it extra safe at night), although it could do with a wash after getting a bit grubby from gross wet days cycling on the mucky road.

Where to shop fabric

Gifts for makers

It’s that time of year when you’re maybe thinking about stocking-stuffers to buy for yourself.. But maybe you can just send the link to this page to your nearest and dearest and hope they take the hint?

Here’s a roundup of things which are mostly from NZ (with a few Aussie shops thrown in), which concentrates on small businesses. What’s a great makers gift that I’ve forgotten to include? Let me know in the comments!

Hand cream in a tube is perfect for leaving next to your machine!

Wicking fabrics like tencel really dry out your hands, so it’s great to moisturise during your sewing breaks!

Inside Voices Labels (NZ)

Designed right here in Christchurch! There’s an Inside Voices label for everyone.

Any of the gorgeous fabric remnants from McLean & Co who weave fabric from NZ wool down in Oamaru (pictured above)

Seam ripper and awl, double-ended from Miss Maude (NZ)

Hand turned and crafted from reclaimed native timbers of Aotearoa!

Repair kit in tin from Hawes & Freer (NZ)
Iron on patch from NZ
New Zealand Paua Shell Buttons from Wild and Wooly Yarns (NZ)
Sewist pin from Grandmother’s Garden (NZ)
You crafty bitch socks from Bolt of Cloth (NZ)
Wrist Pin Cushion from Miss Maude (NZ)
These are my dressy socks socks from Bolt of Cloth (NZ)
Rainbow 9″ scissors from Sew It (NZ)

Is it possible to feel sadness when you’re snipping threads with rainbow snips or scissors?

Hancock’s fabric marker starter set from Sewing Time (NZ)

A few strange additions:

Seersucker Searching

It’s official, I’m a sucker for seersucker! That delicious texture, that purposeful scrunch- I can see much more of it in my future now that the weather is warming up.

You know I love to shop local when I can, and that I’m also forever keeping up with what’s-in-stock locally, so I thought I’d round up a few of the seersuckers that I’ve spotted recently!

The Fine Cloth Company has just added a tidy selection of seersuckers in bright spring shades (they also have some navy, black and red too)

Miss Maude has 3 seersucker options– don’t be fooled by the seersucker category on her website being empty!

The Fabric Store currently has 3 seersucker options, including this teal and plum number.

Drapers Fabrics currently has 1 fabric which they describe as ‘subtle’ seersucker. The fabric has a large-ish check.

If you’re after textured fabrics but searching for ‘seersucker’ brings no joy, you can try searching webstores with phrases like crinkle, self stripe, textured to see if you get fabrics with similar qualities.

Fab Fabrics in Auckland has 2 seersucker options, including the rich red to the left!

Joan’s Fine Fabric has a black and a white Japanese seersucker.

Fabric Box in Auckland has a cotton silk seersucker with really small-scale puckering and a floral print. They also have quite a few ‘self stripe’ fabrics which end up having a similar texture to seersucker.

Spotlight has some seersucker options in stock, including the fabric that I used for my dress, above!

Not technically in NZ, The Remnant Warehouse has a seersucker that’s white fabric with printed black spots.

Definitely not in NZ, Fabric Godmother in the UK has a lovely little selection of seersuckers, including the rainbow one below and the brick-coloured one (below right) which almost has me placing an order.

What to sew with seersucker?

Seersucker is a woven fabric that’s generally made from cotton, linen, or a blend of the two. Here’s a few roundups of patterns, many of which would be perfect for using with seersucker!

Want to get printing?

Email your PDF pattern files through to to get started. A0 printing is $6 per sheet and A4 from $.15 per page

Quilted outers inspo

Hello and welcome to my quilted coat overthinkings! You might have seen the recent roundup of quilted outer patterns?

Well, I’ve been thinking more and more about them because it’s the perfect spot where quilters and garment makers collide! A quilted coat can be a great way to scrap bust, or a great motivation for sewing a quilt top. I’m thinking that it could be great to use up some of my linen scraps, but could also be a great way to test the waters of quilting with quilting cottons without signing myself up for a whole Queen Size bedspread.

I’ve decided that there are 3 basic ways of approaching a quilted coat!

1) Improv piecing

There’s 2 basic ways you can approach improv piecing for a quilted coat: by making a large piece of fabric, or by improv piecing fabric into the shape of your pattern pieces.

Emily improv-pieced her Muna and Broad Grainger Coat, using leftovers from her quilting and piecing them until they were the right size for the pattern pieces! Check out her process here.

Above, you can see how Emily Improv-pieced until they were large enough that she could cut out the pocket pattern piece. I like the idea of this method because it’s doing only as much work as necessary, and it’s not going to leave me with more scraps that I then have to find a use for!

SewDIY improv pieced the fabric to make this quilted coat!

The pattern is the Ayora which was included in the recent roundup of quilted outer patterns here.

The quilted coats below are made by sewing fabric together to make large fabric bolts, which the pattern pieces are then cut from. This can be an easy way to ‘get in the groove’ and just keep going, but if your motivations are scrap-busting, then cutting out your pattern pieces will be creating more scraps!

2) Purposeful Piecing

You could use a quilt top that you’re sewn to cut out your pattern pieces or you could use the pattern pieces to plan quilt pieces!

If your chosen quilted coat pattern has straight edges, that can be handy to align your purposeful quilt pattern with!

3) Fabric which looks scrappy

The jacket below is made with fabric that has different patterns on the same fabric, so the finished jacket looks patchworked but requires none of the effort (also makes sure that the points on your squares align perfectly with each other)!

Over on the Spoonflower Blog, MegMade shows how she made 2 super easy quilted jackets!

This pink jacket is made using the Spoonflower Fill-A-Yard® which lets you print multiple designs together, and an be a quick way to give a patchwork look.

RTW quilted coat inspo

Of course, I had to include a little image dump of inspiration from ready-to wear quilted coats- I’m particularly partial to the abstract and the scrappy ones myself, but maybe you’re a secret traditionalist and you’re smitten with the flying geese or log cabin (the only 2 quilt blocks I can recognise)!

The quilt coats above are all from Haptic Lab, and I love how they’ve kept the quilt look with the square hem and bias bound edges.

Below the quilt from Vacilando Studios bring applique and large-scale patterns to the quilt coat, which look like the designs were made for the coat shape, rather than looking ‘quilt becomes jacket’. The scrappy one is particularly excellent.

Want to get printing?

Email your PDF pattern files through to to get started. A0 printing is $6 per sheet and A4 from $.15 per page

Shopping Denim in NZ

If you spotted the Jeans Sewing Pattern Roundup Blog and then thought ‘fine Jess, but where do I get fabric from in NZ?!?’
…. well this blog is for you.

What kind of denim do you want? Your project will inform the weight of the fabric, the stretch (or lack of stretch) of the fabric and also whether or not you can buy narrower selvedge denim.

Shops to start your search

Miss Maude
Always a good place to start your search, Miss Maude always has a lovely curated selection of fabrics, and the denim situation is no different!

Backstreet Bargains
Often the first place I look, especially when I’m hunting for toile fabrics. Backstreet separates their denim offerings into stretch denim and non-stretch denim categories

Fab Fabrics
The Auckland-based Fab Fabrics has frequent sales, with the codes heading out through their email newsletter. At the time of writing they had 40% off denim!

Fabric Box
Want coloured denim? Fabric Box in Auckland have you covered with a large range of 9oz coloured denims (and the usual indigo denim too)

Shops with less selection

The Fabric Store has a small selection of denim fabrics (including Liberty denim), as does Moreland Fabrics. The Fabric Shop in Otara has some excellently cheap selvedge denim, and Nick’s Fabrics has an interesting stretch denim that’s a different colour on each side. Drapers Fabric always stocks selvedge denim, and Revology has 2 lovely Merchant & Mills denims which have a great texture.

Across the ditch?

A+R Fabrics near Melbourne has a great selection of rigid and stretch denims, Maai Designs often has denim and currently has a great range of heavy drill in nice colours. Potter & Co is based in Perth and has a decent selection of denims to choose from.

Fabric shops in Christchurch

Looking for fabric shops in Christchurch? Wanting to know where to find fabric in Christchurch?

Whether you’re a Christchurch local or planning on visiting Christchurch, you might like to check out all the fabric stores that the city has to offer!

Here, I’ve rounded up places in the Christchurch area that you can shop for garment-making fabrics! Have I missed any? Let me know in the comments!

“The Garden at Bougival” by Berthe Morisot

The Fabric Store
Shop 46, The Tannery, 3 Garlands Road, Woolston

The Fabric Store has shops across NZ and Australia, but often you’ll find fabrics that 1 shop has that’s just at that store, so it’s well worth popping in, even if you have one closer-to-home! The remnant section is always full, and there’s always something on sale!

“Villa with Orange Trees, Nice” by Berthe Morisot

If you’re heading to the Tannery

Check out Bolt of Cloth (Marimekko & quilting cottons), Fabric House (mostly upholstery fabrics), and the Wools Yarn and Fibre (which is out the front of the local weavers and spinners guild).

Harald’s Warehouse
47 Birmingham Drive, Middleton

If you need a specific shade of ribbing (mostly poly), fire-proof high-vis fabric, cotton/poly shirtings, lining materials and wool/poly suiting, then Harald’s Fabric is probably for you! They also have upholstery and waterproof fabrics.

Vintage Wonderland
179 Ferry Road, Phillipstown

A vintage store with a great selection of vintage fabrics, threads, trims, buttons and much more!

“The Garden at Bougival” by Berthe Morisot

Fabric Vision
39 Main North Road, Papanui

Has a variety of garment fabrics, and a selection of quilting and upholstery fabrics too. The $3, $6 and $8 special tables never leave at Fabric Vision, though they annoyingly seem to remove the labels which tell you what the fabric is before they make it to the sale tables.

“Villa with Orange Trees, Nice” by Berthe Morisot

Tom’s Emporium
41 Riccarton Road, Riccarton

I lived in Christchurch for 3 years before I managed to make it here, and what I found was oodles of fabric at bargain prices (much of it still labelled from the wholesaler so you knew exactly what it was). Plenty of garment fabrics and notions, and all the brightly coloured fur or poly velvet you would ever need! Also, a large selection of quilting cottons.

“The Garden at Bougival” by Berthe Morisot

Sherazad Silks
10/105 Bamford Street, Woolston

Not somewhere I’ve shopped in-person, but the website seems to suggest that they do allow it. A lovely range of silks, and perfect if you’re planning an outfit for an event.

“Villa with Orange Trees, Nice” by Berthe Morisot

Bernina Christchurch Sewing Centre
580 Colombo Street, Christchurch

In addition to A Lot of quilting supplies and fancy sewing machines, this store has a small selection of garment fabrics.

Big Box Stores

Of course, Christchurch also has Spotlight and Lincraft stores, if that’s what you’re after!

Second-hand & Vintage Stores

Sometimes I’ve found some great fabrics at second-hand stores! Pop ‘second hand shop’ into google maps and see what’s nearby!

2021 Calendars for large-scale organising!

I’ve been looking for the perfect year-at-a-glance wall planner, when it struck me that I can now print my own!

I searched for ‘printable wall calendar A2’ on Etsy, knowing that I could scale it up to the size of an entire A0 sheet.

Below, I’ve rounded up some options in price order. Black & white A0 printing with a comparable amount of lines to a sewing pattern will be $6 per page.

This calendar is $2.60 on Etsy
$3.32NZD on Etsy
$5.49 on Etsy
$9.98 on Etsy
$14.97 on Etsy

$10.37 on Etsy

Other printing ideas

In addition to calendars, my A0 printer can easily print black&white line drawing art for the same price as printing a sewing pattern!

$4.97 on Etsy
$14.97 on Etsy
$13.31 on Etsy
$14.12 on Etsy

If you’d like to print colour, or something with bolder lines or more ink, get in touch to ask for a quote first as my printer might not be the best choice for your print job!

Want to get printing?

Email your PDF pattern files through to to get started. A0 printing is $6 per sheet and A4 from $.15 per page