Reflections and a Trapeze Dress by Merchant and Mills.

Is everyone feeling it’s been another rough year? I’d raise my hand to that question. I don’t like to complain about life as I’m aware that I am extremely lucky in that I have my dream family, I live in a wonderful country, I’m able to work part time with flexibility around my health and of course (importantly) I have the time and means to sew. A quick summation of the year however, (6 hospital admissions, a few months off work in and around hospital, a feeling of disconnection to the world far beyond my normal and a body that is discovering squish) demonstrates that it is been a little rough.

It’s ok though, because I’m coming out the other side. Health is more settled with potentially more good things to come, the family, the work and the sewing are still patiently by my side. I’m adjusting to being just a little more squishy and starting to enjoy planning and updating my wardrobe.

One of the biggest barriers to return to sewing has been the change in sizing and it’s not much fun to retrace your favourite patterns up a size when your old ones just, and I do mean just, fit. On some days. And then on other days. Not at all.

So I’ve taken a different approach and started using patterns that I haven’t made up before as it’s easier to trace off the new measurements on something that hasn’t previously been made. I had great success with the Datura blouse by Deer and Doe recently, having made two already. My next venture was to recreate a dress I saw in a window when last visiting Melbourne for Frocktails.

A quick snap on the phone and I had my reference point. Visiting one of my favourite cloth suppliers, The Drapery, I found they had the perfect shade of chambray (in Red Panda no less) and also the Merchant and Mills Trapeze dress in stock. With a little not so complicated wizardry I’ve managed to create a reasonable homage to the dress that was my inspiration. 

The only adjustments I made were to add some shaping at the waist, add little tabs to thread through the tie and piled on the ruffles by joining rectangles and gathering before attaching to the hemline. I also widened the neckline so I can slip the dress over my head and finished the openings with bias binding instead of facings. 

I did go to the effort of stitching lines across the bottom of the Red Panda ruffle however they really looked mediocre so I spent 3 hours unpicking 10 rows of stitching across 4 meters of fabric at a stitch length of 2.4. I can’t quite bring myself to calculate the actual number of stitches…

So, I’m very happy with my Trapeze dress. Next up will be one in a black chambray or linen with a similar hemline. I love the slight blousing effect that comes from the tie, especially given there are no bust darts to provide shaping. And I feel comfy in it. I can breath. And still twirl of course (whilst breaking ALL the rules). 

In other news I thought I’d provide a little summation of me this week, in Taking Stock:

Drinking: Melbourne Breakfast tea. Sharing with B1. Drinking tea with 10 year olds is the best!

Wearing: My new Datura blouse by Deer and Doe made with birthday fabric from Fibresmith.

Eating: Summer fruits. I think I will be roasting rhubarb and peaches next weekend. And then adding mascarpone.

Finished Reading: War and Peace! So thankful that I didn’t give up. Although I much preferred Anna Karenina. I also finished Sour Heart by Jenny Zheng which I loved.

Making: New clothes to accommodate the slightly squishier me.

Planning: My trip to Berlin next year. 13 years in the making and I think I’m finally ready to go in August/September 2018. So if you are keen for a catch up let me know! I’ll be over for about 4 weeks.

Grateful: For good health care. And specialists who get me. Continued. I’m booked in for treatment in January that should positively impact pain and fatigue. Since I was 12 I’ve only had one year (2008) where I wasn’t in significant pain or fatigued. Wish me luck.

Looking forward to: Planning my trip. Any recommendations for Germany and France gratefully accepted. And ways to budget my way over to England.

Loving: My three boys. And my gritty kitty, Panda Wine.

Watching: The Punisher. Very intense. Very violent. Also a good reflection on PTSD and how trauma affects.

Considering: Storing my special frocks that no longer fit so that I can still see them but not be tempted to try and squish myself into them.

Doing: Ballet in a Barre class. After two terms I can now complete a full 1 hour class without kickback fatigue.

Proud: That I walked the 6km Run Geelong a couple of weeks ago. Another first in that it was the first time I’d walked 6km without stopping in 5 years.

Listening to: Chonguri in New York.

Doing: Blogging for the first time in 6 months!

I hope that the world is being gentle with you and that pockets of kindness shower you when you least expect it. And that you have access to pockets if you want or need them. 

Curtsy

Pips.

Photos by Bruce. Location at Oakdene Winery. Fabric from The Drapery. Trapeze Dress pattern by Merchant and Mills from The Drapery. Shoes by Duckfeet. Cameo brooch a gift from Jean Jean Vintage that I modified into a necklace. Headband from Gardens of Whimsy. Taking Stock template curtesy of Pip Lincoln.

A post script of the dress without ties in the bathtub. I’m actually not altogether displeased with the frump factor. I do however recognise that my mirror is in need of a darn good clean. 

 

Advertisements

Sunday Best

Hello lovely friends!

It’s been another month of disquiet with an episode of insomnia, but now that has been resolved, I’m feeling much more at peace and a little  more at one with myself. Hence the writing of this post may be a little droll as I recover from sleep deprivation and over medication…. At least I’m napping for more than a few hours each evening. E1E5

So. Lets discuss this dress. E8

I recently went away for the Queens birthday long weekend with a gorgeous posse of women to sew, sing, eat and have whimsical conversations. Sadly the insomnia raged over this weekend away as well, but there is nothing like getting up at 4 am to watch the full moon, practice yoga and then witness the sunrise at 6.58 on a cold winters morning. This was my last make for the weekend and finished 30 minutes before it was time for the weekend to draw to a close. E16

I’ve been treasuring this Outback Wife barkcloth designed by Cathi from @gerturdemakes and purchased from The Drapery for some time. E7

Based on Cathi’s experience of beautiful sewing with true vintage barkcloth fabric (which I always envied) she created the design for her fabric range inspired through her lived experience in the outback and her passion as a seamstress. After first glance I knew it would be welcomed into my wardrobe.E15

There are several colour ways with some additional ones coming out in the next week or so. I have an inkling that this same fabric is coming out in a pink/mauve and will be available through The Drapery. I’ve 3 meters on hold for when it arrives and I’m thinking another Elisalex dress perhaps sans sleeves this time. The bark cloth has beautiful body and drape that lends itself for a perfect twirling dress.E9

If only I could go back to that bush dance in grade 5 and be allowed to be the girl dancer (height always being an issue I always had to be the boy….. sigh) I’d be the happiest 11 year old. Any suggestions for other dress patterns are most welcome.

E11

Because we all like to knit by the river…..

I used the Elisalex bodice and sleeve (the old one not the new) but after wearing it I felt as though the sleeves were pulling the fabric tighter across my chest so I may have to get in touch with the BHL women to have a copy of the updated PDF versions sent out.E4The skirt is from the Flora dress, also BHL, and is cut on the bias with an extra 20cm added to the length. I just managed to pattern tetris the whole dress out of the one 3 meter piece, with the added bonus of Liberty pockets.E2I also hemmed the significantly epic hemline with a blue/white polka dot bias binding that peaks and hides the inside hemline. I didn’t have the heart or concentration to do this by hand which I normally would. It provides a whimsical contrast to the floral design of the fabric.E10 Bruce took the photo’s down by the Barwon river which was swarming with early exercising people and bugs.There were some sideways glances as everyone passed us in their morning active wear with me in my Sunday best. I hope they appreciated the effort I took in my dress for my stroll! I did receive a rather darling look from a little girl and my boys said I looked swish.

design (4)Photos by Bruce at Barwon River. Fabric is Outback Wife designed by Cathi at Gertrude Made who can also be found on IG at @gerturdemade. Fabric purchased from The Drapery. Bodice pattern is from the Elisalex dress and skirt from the Flora dress from By Hand London. Head scarf is Liberty with a baby hem. Shoes by Camper. Bracket by JeanJean Vintage at Etsy.

E17

Accidental amazing pattern matching on the shoulders!

I thought I’d also add a little Taking Stock (developed by Pip Lincoln) to share some of the things I do when I’m not attached to Tilly, my sewing machine.

TAKING STOCK:

Drinking: pomegranate tea.

Wearing: my new Liberty shirt I made at Sewaway that has LIBERTY BUTTONS!

Eating: slow roasted pork. No more hospital food for me.

Reading: War and Peace on Audio Books. I’m almost half way through.

Making: finishing a scarf with a fan wave pattern that kept me sane in hospital.

Planning: to finish my Vogue coat before we head off on vacation.

Grateful: for good health care. And specialists who get me.

Looking forward to: sleeping (hopefully) in my own bed tonight.

Loving: my new hellebores plant I bought myself for hospital. Her name is Herbet.

Watching: My Cousin Rachel. Highly recommend. Wonderful film.

Considering: if it’s time to get my passport in preparation for  my trip to Berlin and the UK next year.

Doing: Yoga with Adriene. She’s changed my outlook on life and my connection with myself.

 

Sewing for World Peace: Dove

Doves are symbols for peace, no?

So with my new Dove shirt, I make my contribution. Disillusion is now a friend. 

What an odd segue into sewing…. This is the Dove shirt paired with my favourite Brumby skirt by Megan Nielsen patterns. The fabric is a Liberty mermaid print that was sent to me as a fabric hug from the ever gorgeous Elle when I was recovering from surgery at the start of the year. (Fabric was sent directly to Princess Pips from The Strawberry Thief. Princess Pips loves fabric hugs). 

The shirt makes up beautifully and is the first where I have used the facings and not had them flip out (both physically and metaphorically). The dipped hem also has a facing which attaches without grief and gives the shirt a lovely finish. This version has the flared sleeve and there is an option for the uber bell sleeve which I have already made up in a Nani Iro cotton Sateen. 

I adjusted the pattern by lengthening the waist by 2.5cm. I don’t recall lengthening the arms as I felt with the flare shape it mattered less where the hem ended on the wrist. I also added shape to the waist to accentuate the waist/hip difference. 

I love the sleeves and whilst they may be “in” at the moment they are about to make themselves a continued presence in my wardrobe. I have plans for a third Dove in raw silk dyed using avocado (from another beautiful friend, Ute) with flared double bells for another winter wardrobe addition. I’m also enjoying my new hair colour. A la natural with a blue nana rinse through it. Part faerie, part pixie.

Photo credit B1

Photo credit B2

My Brumby skirt was made just shy of a year ago from Merchant and Mills slate linen purchased from Stitch 56. This skirt has been one of the most preferred skirts in my wardrobe and keeps getting softer with each wear. My love of Liberty and Linen will never cease.

The tote bag is the Genoa Tote by Anna. You can find the pattern here at Pattern Fantasique. This is my third tote and I love the attention that Anna has put into the details with the bag. The pocket and key ring clip are expertly drafted and the leather handles lend itself to a professional finish. I screen printed Audrey onto the tote and used vintage Liberty and embroidery floss to bring life to her. On the reverse side in homage to DAAS read the words: My god ain’t risen, ’cause she’s sleeping in today. Makes me smile every time. 

So in this increasingly topsy turvy world, we need to remember to take time out, to remember peace, to wonder at nature and all that she has to offer and hope that sensible will prevail at some stage. And stay well dressed. Some of us must lead the way for others…

With love

 

 

 

 

 

Photo’s by Bruce, B1 and B2. Dove and Brumby patterns from Megan Nielsen patterns. Genoa Tote by Anna and Pattern Fantastique. Dove Liberty fabric gifted by Elle through The Strawberry Thief. Brumby Merchant and Mills linen purchased from Stitch 56. Ribbon by Lilypond. Hair flower by Gardens of Whimsy. Shoes are Mols from Duckfeet. Tights by Wolford

Sew Melbourne Garden Party

Sew Melbourne Garden Party

What a wonderful garden party. A spectacular lady garden sewing party if you will.

The Sew Melbourne Garden Party was planned through the collaboration of a bevy of gorgeous ladies, @craftyjane, @liblib and @abbythingsforboys. They coordinated a picnic within the Kings Domain at the Botanical on a perfect Autumn afternoon for the all inclusive sewing community.  

A delightful afternoon was had, lounging under the trees in the dappled sunlight, nibbling on sweet treats and listening to the string quartet (who did an amazing thing by outplaying the electronica festival next door).

We were quite the curiosity to those taking a stroll around the grounds. 

Leah and I met during a blogging course many moons ago at Blog with Pip, and now here we are playing ladies in the gardens!

I had decided the previous day that I wouldn’t be able to make it due to insomnia making it impossible for me to speak, let alone think, however I was blessed with 6 hours of snooze time. Bruce offered to chaperone me to and from the gardens so I packed a little hamper and made my way to the party.

I wore the Bardot dress by Simple Sew Patterns, although I’m struggling to find where I purchased the PDF. I’d seen this pattern some time ago, and when I purchased this amazing linen from The Drapery in South Australia that I knew they were destined for one another.

The dress was very straight forward. The neckline was what initially drew me to the pattern and when I sit still, the neckline sits perfect and still, but when I move it doesn’t quite stay in place. I’m thinking two small darts at the back neckline should rectify this issue.

The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to lengthen the bodice by 2.5cm which was just the right amount.

When the actual sewing had been completed I thought it needed a little lift so I hand stitched the ribbon around the hemline (approximately 2 hours work) so I felt more of a sense of accomplishment given the dress had taken so little time. 

I also purchased these amazing seamed stockings from What Katie Did. How have I not worn them before? I found them so comfortable particularly on a hot day. I most likely flashed them more than was necessary, but don’t fret, the Liberty knickers also went on display just for a second. 

I made my name badge from vintage liberty which took three attempts to get right. The first was too messy, the second looked as though my name was Pups but the third turned out perfectly. It’s now pinned to one of my curtains in the sewing atelier.

A lovely day was had by all. I was excited to finally be able to attend a sewing soiree since I’ve had to miss several due to illness. And so nice to put names and faces to Instagram names. Although I did find myself referring to people by their IG names because it was easier to remember. I have such fog brain and word salad that I was lucky to get out of the house that day. If you want to see more captures of our wonderful afternoon, search for #sewmelbournegp

That is about as saucy as I get yet I still get the feeling I look more demure than anything else. A friend once told me that even when I attempt to dress myself as a lady of the night I still looked ridiculously wholesome and like I’m about to attend church.

Thank you Libby, Jane and Abby for planning such a special event.
design (4)

Photos by Bruce and also Lady Garden Party  attendees. Fabric purchased from The Drapery. Aged ribbon purchased from Lilly Pond. Stockings purchased from What Katie Did. Shoes purchased from American Duchess. Flower crown by Lilly and Lace. Garden party held at the Kings Domain in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

Stunning Ellie Cashman Floral Linen

No ones opening the door… guess it’s clear she’s gone. 

I have found true fabric love with Ellie Cashman and her moody dark floral designs. I recently made a ball gown (here) that is a digital print silk charmuse. The fabric I chose for the Chardon skirt was a printed linen because if you are going to spend that amount of money on one piece of fabric and postage from overseas, you should always make the cost of postage more reasonable by ordering additional fabric. That, dear readers, is logic!Ellie’s designs are exquisite and the underlying darkness in her design ensures it stands apart from that prettiness that is so often found in florals. Her designs are a mix of over sized blooms with digital enhancement and the odd butterfly floating in a sea of petals that give it a strong edge.

This is my Dirty Dancing moment, much to the horror of B1 and B2. I was, after all, having the time of my life. The water lilies were in fine form. And my death pose. May my inner gothling always be present.
The top is the Tiny Pocket tank (OOP) from Grainline Studio which I believe has now been updated to a similar pattern called  Willow. I find this top very flattering with the addition of some shaping in the side seams. I stumbled upon the cotton lace overlay and silk remnant at The Fabric Store and was down to the millimetre to cut the Tiny Pocket out. The silk hangs below the lace which I’m quite pleased with when it is sitting over the skirt but I think it will be more likely tucked in. I used some black silk bias to finish the neck and arms that I’d made many moons ago to add some contrast. The the ribbon was originally threaded around the waist however it didn’t sit well so I’ve left it at the back to give a little extra gather and definition to the waist. The linen I used for the Chardon skirt was the Dark Floral II light by Ellie Cashman and it was heaven to sew with. No fading with washing and it retained its original beautiful structure which held the pleats of the Chardon skirt so well whilst providing a little pouf. The pleats seemed to give the flowers even more depth as they overlapped. The skirt went together beautifully and having sized down from my previous version, is now more fitted around the waist. And of course it has pockets. As this is such a special skirt, I hemmed it with vintage lace gifted to me by Marjorie. She was kind enough to send me a collection of vintage laces from her personal collection last year that I could incorporate into my sewing. My mantra remains the same after all these years: Liberty, Linen and Lace. I hand picked the zip  due the thickness of the fabric and to ensure greater control over where it was placed. It sits flatly across the derriere and has all the good curves in just the right places.That centre flower looks so three dimensional within the folds of the pleats. Even when laying out the fabric it looked magical. I also caught a reclusive bug and lonely cute butterfly on the front skirt piece.

Thank you also to Chuleenan who convinced me with her versions of the Deer and Doe Chardon skirt that it is a fabulous pattern.

I suspect I may have enough left fabric over to make some beautiful cushions as well for my bedroom. Or should I try a top? Too many decisions for the poor brain today.

On the health front, my recent surgery was a complete success however surgical menopausal shock is about as much fun as it sounds. Hopefully with some more adjustments I’ll be back to work in a week or so and can get back to this wonderful thing called life. And my belly can deflate again. The poor little thing is still swollen. The scaring has healed beautifully but the poufiness of the tummy remains. In the meantime it’s rest, sew, and keep up fluids. And try not to complain too much. How do women not talk about what a horrendous thing menopause is! It’s really rather horrid. And I’ve been through many horrid things. But I now have this beautiful dark floral skirt for which I am most grateful.

Photos by Bruce. Location at Deakin University Waurn Ponds. Dark floral II fabric purchased from Ellie Cashman. (I’m saving up to purchase another piece to make a bed head…). Chardon skirt pattern by Deer and Doe. Tiny pocket tank by Grainline Studio, now reissued as the Willow.  Shoes from Camper. Tights from Wolford. Vintage jewellery from JeanJeanVintage. Flower crown by Gardens of Whimsy.

Brighten your Day with Daisies

Daisy 8The history of daisies is that they demonstrate trust and loyalty. They are also often given to a person who is ill to brighten up their day. Fitting given that today I’m suffering the most amazing female malaise of surgical menopause. It’s great really. You roll 1-5 years of symptoms into overnight and then try and figure out how the world works again. If anyone ever mentions male menopause to me, beware, for I may get feisty….daisy 9

Whilst I may not have a bouquet of daisies, I certainly have my daisy blanket which makes me feel as though I’m wrapped in hugs of flowers.

daisy 10

As does Panda Wine

In the past I’ve made these for friends who are having babies, and even one for a friend who wanted to wrap herself a daisy shawl and read books by her giraffe lamp that I made her whilst sipping Irish breakfast tea. Daisies are for everyone.  daisy1

I’ve been making daisies since I was about 12 years old. but never had the skill to piece them together. My mother made traditional layettes for her three children, and I was the lucky recipient of two. When I turned 40 I was determined to acquire the skill of crocheting the daisies together and such success I had! Daisy3

The shawl I made included 810 individual daisies and the historical documenter that Instagam is tells me I started it July 2015 . Crochet began 4 September 2015. Finished 25 February 2016. Loved for ever. daisy4

I even made concurrent blue and red ones for B1 and B2 last year. When I wake them in the morning the doona is discarded on the floor and they are enveloped in their daisies. 6 months work with a little help from my official daisy maker. Daisy6

These photo’s are over a year old again,taken at Castlemaine which I love. I wrapped myself in daisies and read Absent without Leave by Paul Livingston. I love war stories even though they are usually heart breaking. daisy5

He bought a piece of needle work of a 1960’s holden that he made in year 10 at school. Respect for the crafty comedian who can also write. Daisy7

I’ve passed patten onto a few people so let me know if you are interested. I believe it is out of print and out of copyright. I may also do a tutorial once I’ve made some progress into my Liberty hexi quilt. Small Liberty donations most welcome!

Photo’s by Bruce. Daisy shawl by Pips. Setting at Green Gablesnj in Castlemaine. Gabriola skirt in Liberty by Sewaholic. Self drafted camisole in Liberty. Head scarf from VintageCaf

Green Gables

The escape of reading helped me through many a difficult year of early and late teens. Anne of Green Gables was a firm favourite. With every rereading I dreamt of one day sampling the red cordial that was so famously made by Marilla with a bosom buddy and kindred spirit.cm13

To find a namesake of my favourite estate was a delight, and to spend the weekend there (albeit over a year ago) was soothing for the soul.cm4

Over the past several years Castlemaine has evolved into a small arts community. Part of our original intention was to see the Ben Quilty exhibit at the local gallery.cm8

This is the perfect setting for a sewing residence. And a fabulous backdrop for capturing images.cm12

 

cm6
cm11
Original alterations to Anna/Flora dress can be found here.

photo-3

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Bruce. Residence: Green Gables at Castlemaine. Fabric gifted from @winding_bobbin. Dress pattern: modified Anna bodice with Flora skirt from ByHandLondon. Antique hair scarf from VintageCaf. Shoes by Louboutin. Tights by Wolford.