A Step Back in Time

Tea DressThe number of times I’ve been told I was born in the wrong era… Countless. However the beautiful thing of living now is the that I can look back on all those wonderful periods (Victorian and 1920’s are my favourite) and recreate the designs whilst still having access to the modern necessities of life, say feminism, modern medicine, a fabulous array of fabrics and friends from across the world and an endless fountain of inspiration from the ether in which resides the internets. I’ve also started collecting vintage and antique lace and jewellery in the past year, things that I cannot find their equal of in todays fast consumerist society. I’m an old soul in a new world.

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

I found this vintage picture on the IG account of @shoppesimone and captured it on a screen shot knowing I needed to recreate the dress with black ribbons. The perfect linen fabric I stumbled across on another IG account, @scarletjonesmelbourne around a year later. They were practically giving away this gorgeous Italian linen which they had in storage ($20 per meter). I immediately purchased 5 meters, along with some navy and natural linen as well even though I was “technically” on a fabric purchasing hiatus.Tea Dress

The pattern is the modified bodice of Anna/Elisalex of ByHandLondon and the skirt an over exaggeration of the Emery by Christine Haynes with pockets. The first tier has additional fabric added to the width to create more fulness in the gathers and the second tier is attached to the lining.Tea Dress

The second tier is less full (I wasn’t using maths, I was guesstimating) and I’m actually quite pleased that it has less gathers than the first. It gives a different shape than I was expecting and overall makes the dress look a little less “poufy” whilst maintaining the original fit and flare design.Tea Dress

I lined the dress in a vintage cotton sheet that I picked up at a second hand store. The edge of the sheet had some beautiful blue embroidery which I will make feature of in a future petticoat/skirt that I have in mind.Tea Dress

The perfect black ribbon was purchased from Lily Pond and hand stitching it to the dress took longer than making the actual dress itself. I catch stitched by hand for a nice flat and even result. Not a speck of black thread to be seen on the inside.Tea Dress

I think there was about 12 meters of ribbon used and I stitched both the top  and bottom by hand. Commitment to ones craft as always. I actually find hand stitching quite soothing. I love how this process cannot be rushed and accuracy is increased 10 fold when you have such fine control over the stitches.

Vintage Locket

Vintage Locket

I wore my new locket from JeanJean Vintage which I’d been stalking for months. It is black enamel with “In Memory of” inscribed on the front and contains a lock of hair that has been carefully braided and encased in the locket. I’ve no clue as to who it belonged to but I love that this was how women used to remember their loved ones who had died. Very Crimson Peak in it’s style, hopefully obtained under less violent circumstances.

Tea Dress

And may we discuss the boots for a minute. Purchased from American Duchess, these beautiful boots laced with ribbon are the perfect fit for my often fickly tootsies. And how well do they compliment my dress! Comfort and historic style paired beautifully.

Tea DressThe photo’s were taken at the Winter Garden Cafe which had a beautiful exhibition of prints in their art gallery upstairs. It’s their 7th annual printmakers exhibition and runs from July 1 to July 31. If you are in the Geelong area I would recommend dropping in to view some of the amazing prints.

Gin? Tea? Cake?

Gin? Tea? Cake?

So, where do you get your inspiration for making? I have many screen shots on my phone, thousands of pinterest pins, and scraps from magazines that never seem to make it into the inspiration book…Tea Dress

CurtseyTea Dress

 

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Strawberry Thief in Brooklyn

Strawberry Thief in the Wild

Strawberry Thief in the Wild

Once a year I escape the chaos…

Strawberry Thief Sewing Corner

Strawberry Thief Sewing Corner

To sleep, stitch, eat, drink, rest.

Strawberry Thief an Me

Strawberry Thief an Me

To be taken care of by wonderful women who fill my soul to the brim.

Strawberry Thief and the Bunnies

Strawberry Thief and the Bunnies

To mingle with the unknown over breakfast and drink countless cups of tea.

Strawberry Thief Gelfling Style

Strawberry Thief Gelfling Style

And sip wine in bed after venturing out to the pictures deemed too arty for my local theatres.

Strawberry Thief and Snow Domes

Strawberry Thief and Snow Domes

And solitude. So rare and so soothing.

Strawberry Thief with Headscarf and Handmade Bag by Friend

Strawberry Thief with Headscarf and Handmade Bag by Friend

Then I return to the fold. Missed and missing all.

Strawberry Thief with Strawberry Swirl

Strawberry Thief with Strawberry Swirl

Until next time. Until next summer.

Strawberry Thief Mirror Image

Strawberry Thief Mirror Image

Curtsy.

Strawberry Thief V Back

Strawberry Thief V Back

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Nobody puts Strawberry Thief in the Corner

Nobody puts Strawberry Thief in the Corner

Photos by myself and Bruce. Dress made from Strawberry Thief Liberty Tana Lawn, a 40th Birthday present. Pattern, Flora skirt ByHandLondon attached to modified Anna/Elisalex bodice. Location at Brooklyn Arts Hotel, my home away from home. Vintage jewellery from JeanJean Vintage. Shoes by Camper.

Strawberry Thief

Strawberry Thief

Sirena Dress

Sirena DressAllow me to introduce you to the Sirena Dress. Designed by Itch to Stitch, this is Kennis’ latest design offering from her range of patterns designed under her Itch to Stitch label. Given this is a formal review of the pattern I may down play my text, but fear not there will be outtakes at the end. Sirena Dress

I have previously made up the Marbella Dress, (also known as the English dress due to the gorgeous benefactor of fabric) so I was happy to offer my sewing services to pattern test the new Sirena Dress. Sirena Dress

This dress is something of a classic, with a high round crew neck line, options for bell or cuffed sleeves, inseam pockets and a subtle A-Line skirt that for most falls at the knee but due to my height fell well above. Scandalous! There are also options and instructions to line or not line the dress. Sirena DressSirena Dress

As with the Marbella Dress, the bodice comes in a range of cup sizes from A to D which eliminates the need for SBA and FBA’s for many of the ladies. I cut a B cup size 6 and ended up grading out to an 8 at the hips. The PDF is also layered with sizes if your measurements fall into one size you can choose just that layer only and the one size will print. How wonderful for tracing! If you fall between two sizes as I did you can print just those sizes as well to allow for grading. Again, this is a fabulous option and I think should be part of all PDF patterns. There needs to be some compensation for sticking together 50 odd pages! (I accidentally taped all four options of cup sizes for the bodice, so really I’ve no one to blame but myself.)Sirena Dress

My first toile needed a few adjustments as I cut a straight 6. I had to bring the fabric on the bodice in at the waist at both front and back darts and I also took 1cm off each side of the invisible zip. I may size down to a  4 of my next version an grade out to an 8 at the hips. The skirt is a very subtle A-line. As it is a fitted dress I would recommend making a toile to check the fit before cutting into precious fabric. I added 2.5cm to the length of the bodice as is my normal practice. Beautiful lengthen or shorten lines included on both the bodice and the skirt. Sirena Dress

Sirena Dress

Believe it or not there is an Invisible Zip in that Centre Back Seam

So what do I adore about this pattern? I love the high neck line. It’s perfect to add a little nana lace collar which is what will occur when I make my next black version. I will also add lace to the sleeves to give it a little victorian feel. I have ordered a black and gold memorial locket from etsy to complete the look. The bell sleeves are just adorable. I think they will be a little hard to wear under a normal cardi so shall invest in some long sleeve tops which has always been part of my winter layering look. The instructions were very clear and detailed, and I felt this pattern was a little more challenging than your basic indie pattern which I really enjoyed.

Kennis has advised that from the feedback from testers the front neck line has been dropped 1/2 an inch and just a few amendments to the instructions so nothing that would really change the look of how my dress turned out. Sirena-Illustrations-03 Sirena-Illustrations-01

To see other versions of the dress visit itch-to-stitch.com. It was also great to see a large range of sizes tested for this pattern. Sirena Dress

Sirena Dress

Dancing Queen – The Real Me – Bruised Legs from Falling Down Stairs

Sirena Dress

The Flamingo Stance

Sirena DressI really do love this dress, and I already have the fabric for my victorian gothling version. I may use a different skirt, most likely gathered and with lower pockets, and will definitely lengthen to below the knee.

The pattern for the Sirena dress can be found here

Curtsy

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1920’s Pajajays

Pajajays

Pajajays

Some days a lady just wants to be wrapped in pajajays that feel like cotton and silk and cashmere combined. That they look pretty, feel comfortable and evoke snuggliness which allows one to wallow a little in fatigue and weariness in style. And brings a wee smile to my face.

Pajajays

Pajajays

These were a very quick make. I used a  vintage brushed cotton purchased from A Piece of Cloth recently. So snuggly.

Pajajays

Pajajays

The bottom is based on the Margot Pyjama pants from Tilly and the Buttons. I sized up two sizes (the recent expansion of fleshiness on the derrière means the need for extra comfort and room is heightened). I also widened the leg to reflect a more 1920’s beach pyjama style. And I chose elastic for the waistband instead of the recommended ribbon. The only time that this notion is acceptable. And the only time I will say this.

Pajajays

Pajajays

PJ2

Pajajays cami back

The top is my cami  pattern I have developed and made many over the summer. The lace is from a french bodice in the early 1900’s that had the main part of the camisole removed. That it has survived in such immaculate condition over 100 years is breathtaking. Lily Pond has a wonderful supply of antique laces from France. I have to limit my visits as otherwise I would buy ALL the lace.

Pajajays

Pajajays cami front

pj7

Tired and Fuzzy! We’ve all been there….

The fatigue is showing in my face in these photos, but this is the reality of my life. And given I’ll be wearing these constantly, these were the best pics I was going to get.

Such comfort to sleep in.

Pajajays

Pajajays

Pattern: From Tilly and the Buttons –  Love at First Stitch
Fabric: purchased from A Piece of Cloth
Lace cami top lace: purchased from Lily Pond
Lace hair scarf: purchased from VintageCaf
Flowers: purchased from The Flower Dispensary
Photos: By Bruce

Curtsey

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Ice Princess

Ice Princess

Ice Princess

Adventure Time has significantly increased the catalogue of princesses available, but nothing beats the high school Ice Princess.

Ice Princess

Ice Princess

Except LSP. And Marceline (technically the Vampire Queen). And Princess BG when the mood strikes.

Ice Princess

Ice Princess

I haven’t really worn this dress as much as I’d hoped so am thinking of cropping the skirt to make it midi length. Then I can wear it with black tights and cardi as part of my collected winter threads.

Ice Princess

Ice Princess

18 degrees and overcast. Perfect Pipsie beach weather. Seriously. This is the only time I can safely wonder the beach without fear of spontaneous combustion.

Ice Princess

Ice Princess

I also managed a dip at the end. First time in the ocean for four years. Delightful. Ice Princess

ice princess

My Sound of Music Moment

ice princess 8Pattern: Anna bodice from ByHandLondon with Elisalex shaping on the back bodice and arm scyes. Emery dress by Christine Haynes skirt and pockets

Fabric: Liberty of London Hesketh seasonal purchased from Patchwork on Central

Locket: A Skulk of Foxes

Hair Flower: Gardens of Whimsy

Photos: By Bruce

 

Another Day

Black and White

Black and White

It’s another day. Just like any other. No resolutions, no commitments, no word for the year. It is me and only me. And that is gift enough to continue along my journey.

Black and White - Hemline Finished with Lace

Black and White – Hemline Finished with Lace

My preference is to continue how I am. Evolving in my own time and breathing. I don’t think one can ask for more than that.

Black and White

Black and White

Apart from the safe return of kitty, which of course needed to be asked and finally happened! The distress of a lost kitty over the holiday period was horrendous. Panda Wine, my indoors princess, has demonstrated that she does have the street smarts after an escapade saw her living on the streets for 8 days (including a 40 degree day!). She reappeared at the back of the house, a little lighter and somewhat exhausted, but incredibly happy to be home. Sweet relief. My grey shadow and sewing companion has returned, so I may continue.

Black and White

Black and White – Mullet  Hem (pronounced Moulee Hem)

Which leads us to this dress. Oh this dress. It has been floating in the ether for some time and I finally committed to redrafting the bodice of my favourite Anna to bring it into 2016.

Black and White

Black and White

I retraced the Anna bodice, and then laid the Elisalex over the top (making sure to overlap seam allowances on the princess seams) and redrafted the arm scye front and back and redrafted the back neckline.

Original Anna Bodice - 17+

Original Anna Bodice: 17+ and Well Loved

Anna Bodice with Elisalex Laid over

Anna Bodice with Elisalex Laid Over

Annalex with Anna Darts and Elisalex Armscye and Back Neckline

Annalex with Anna Darts and Elisalex Armscye and Back Neckline

Annalex Meets Flora

Annalex Meets Flora: So Close!

The Flora skirt needs a 1.5cm adjustment to allow for side seam of Annalex bodice to match. + 1.5cm on side seam of front skirt and -1.5cm on side seam of back skirt. Other than that it eased well onto the bodice.

Black and White

Black and White

My love of the Anna dress is well noted and those under bust darts do wonders for the girl with small beewbs. The redrafting gives it potential for another 17 dresses, with variations on skirts to fill another half of my wardrobe. This version uses the Flora skirt. By Hand London you are the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you M’ladies!

Black and White - Vintage Bracelet and Cameo Ring

Black and White – Vintage Bracelet and Cameo Engagement Ring

This dress also has the seal of approval from Bruce. And I quote: “You should really blog this one.” Welcome to the #manattractor .

Black and White

Black and White

Curtsey

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Photos by Bruce. Vintage jewellery purchased from JeanJeanVintage on Etsy. Fabric given by Winding Bobbin. Tights from Wolford. Shoes from Camper. Parasol from Gallery Serpentine.

Panda Wine

Panda Wine – Safe and Resting

Belle of her own Ball

Death Dress

Death Dress

Death Dress

Death Dress

This dress was purchased from a witchy little store down an alley way off Smith Street in Fitzroy circa 1998. I fell in love with the autumnal colours, the soft worn silk  and that it had been a wedding dress in a previous incarnation. It was $120 and I paid it off over several weeks whilst studying at uni and working two jobs. bd19

Death Dress

Death Dress

Sadly, as this dress is extra tiny, it only ever fit when I was really ill. And I’m too old to be really ill just to wear my favourite dress. Over the past 17 years I’ve worn it a handful of times, christmas lunch, an airline fancy dress (domestic flying faerie) and in the bathtub. So it’s been hanging in my wardrobe waiting for the day I die, marked as my death dress to be buried with me. Morbid, yes. But also thinking of others. One thing they needn’t worry about for my funeral. I also have a play list of my favourite songs (eclectic of course with Tori, Trent, The Muppets, A Seated Craft) and a door list of who is not allowed. Again, my party and I’ll do it my way.

Death Dress Deconstructed

Death Dress Deconstructed

I took the step of deconstructing the dress with an unpick and a cup of tea. I don’t know why but I find it soothing to pull things apart and break them down to their smallest parts. It’s also lovely to look at another seamstresses work and find how they constructed and which sections were completed by hand and which were machined.

Crimson Peak Costuming

Crimson Peak Costuming – I need to recreate that belt!

Continuing with my theme of inspiration from film and literature, I recently fell for Crimson Peak. I love gothic tales, and the costuming was breathtaking. I was sorely tempted by some of those sleeves… with the added bonus of #manrepeller. And that belt. Inspired. This film comes second to Pans Labyrinth, my favourite film. It scares me silly as it’s like someone took a peek into my nightmares and put them on the screen. Disturbing on both accounts.

After the deconstruction, I decided on a cami top with Irish Lace work that I found at Lilypond, and a Brumby midi skirt again with vintage lace purchased from same. I reused the silk lining that had been dyed with the original dress. Already I’ve worn both pieces more often than the original dress. And creating two outfits for two birthday outings makes me smile and my heart sing. Except for below, because I am also serious in my quest for gothling.

I’ve not too many words today, so I shall leave you with these pictures of the day before and the actual birth date. Post to follow for the Elisalex dress and High Tea Adventures.

A quick note on the day before. Bruce and I watched James Bond at the cinema (first time in many years going to the pictures together) and when we came out the question was posed from Bruce: So what did you think? My response: Pattern matching! Why would they do that?! 2cm off on the back right bodice panel. What were they thinking???? The horror! Some things cannot be unseen. And that villain really reminded me of Dr Evil….

Day One:
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Day Two:

bd2 bd3 bd4 bd5

Photo’s by Bruce. Straight hair by The Jim. Black skirt: Gabriola from Sewaholic. Parasol from Gallery Serpentine. Hair flowers from Garden of Whimsy. Black top: repurposed Trelise Cooper silk dress shortened and worn in reverse. Shoes from Duckfeet. Lace from Lilypond.

Outakes

Outakes: Lady girl and ouch my  finger.