Vogue 9253

Someone in G-Town had the inspirational idea to introduce street art to liven up some of the darker alleyways and spaces that detracted from what can only be described as a decrepit central area. This beautiful graffiti has been on my location list for some time and on a whim yesterday I hauled the family away from the couch to capture these images. 

Without too much hyperbole, this was the dress that almost didn’t make it. The fabric was so, so shifty. In a state of sleeplessness I thought that sewing a dress at 4am would be a good way to pass some time, but that came at the expense of the centre front seams being sewn to the side seams. And the unpicking! I haven’t made such a mistake for some time but just before it was dramatically thrown in the naughty corner, I tried it on, saw the potential and loved it. 

So perseverance saw 2 hours of unpicking, removal of pockets, and then another two hours of sewing to get everything as much into place as was possible. My darts and side seams are a mm or two out but the ribbon hides my sins. With this fabric I doubt I would ever have a got a perfect match so I’m accepting the minor faults to focus on the bigger picture which is my love (now, not earlier….) of this dress. 

The sleeves are dramatic, the neckline plunging and the fabric now swishes like silk and sits beautifully (it is actually a rayon that behaves like silk satin cut on the bias….). The motif used to secure the neckline was found at Lily Pond. I was looking for a piece of vintage lace to insert however this caught my eye and matched perfectly with the fabric. The ribbon also manages to sit with out moving. I did make the threaded loops to hold the belt in place but they popped as soon as I put the dress on. I don’t think I will redo them as the velvet held its place rather well. 

So the dress that nearly wasn’t, is. She will be coming overseas with me and I hope to sip wine while the sun sets, reading a book and soaking up the beauty of another country.

Another version is planned, however it’s likely to be something more like linen or tana lawn which will be a breeze to sew. 

Have you made up this pattern, and if yes what fabric did you use? There are so many beautiful versions on IG and I love seeing how daring people are with that neck line!



The Assembly Line – Cuff Top and Apron Dress

This has to be the most joyful sew I’ve had in some time. The Cuff Top and Apron Dress from are patterns created by  The Assembly Line which is based in Sweden. Their range of patterns clean and simple with well thought out design lines that really elevate each piece. dress 8

I stumble across the company when Sal from @sewingunlimited posted a pic on IG with her Cuff Top and I fell in love. I purchased without looking at the currency conversion as I knew I that I would take a hit with postage and am so glad I did. Obviously to make the most of it 2 items were needed (always being savy with my spending : ) )and I’ve always loved the appeal of an apron dress. dress1

In making, the Cuff Top is noted as easy beginner and I would agree with that. I added some shaping at the waist (from my much loved Sewaholic Granville shirt).The top stitching is most satisfying, especially when you have the edge stitching foot for your machine.  It also involves the clever use of elastic to get that wonderful cuff shape which involved a little bit of wrestling with the machine as mine was not very stretchy elastic. There were moments though when it was woman vs machine and the needle was at breaking point. Woman triumph in the end #thefutureisfemale.

The fabric I used for the top was purchased from The Drapery has a reasonable amount of structure which allows those cuffs to shine. And that colour! It really struck me when reviewing the photos how it acts as a chameleon and blends in with the green surroundings. One of the aspects that drew me to these patterns were the solid darker colour palates of the samples in mostly black, green and navy. Quite the step away from my usual floral confections. Dress 3

The Apron Dress was noted as beginner and I’d say probably advanced beginner although the instructions were excellent, particularly as they would have been translated into English. I’m a very visual person, so I found the diagrams along with the notes really supportive and it came together beautifully. I made mine in Lithuanian linen, again purchased from The Drapery, and I was a little worried there may have been too much drape but I think it is well suited to the pattern.dress 2

The detail is wonderful, both the design lines on the side seams, those pockets which seem to go on for days, and the clever pleat at the back that really gives the waist good definition. There is also lots of top stitching which is subtle but ever so satisfying.dress 6

The only adjustment I made to the dress was too increase the size of the pleat at the back by moving the the buttons and button holes to pull it in at the waist a little more as that is my preference, harking back to the old fit and flare days. dress 9

My only sewing note with the dress would be to finish the front end of the straps before turning through to the right side as I didn’t see on the instructions how to finish them once they are sewn down to the front bodice. I ended up turning them up/inside 1 cm and then stitching down, but it could have been neater. dress 7

This just may become my winter uniform. I was going to place it aside for my trip to Europe, but as that is only a couple of months away (so excited/nervous) I think I’ll pop it in rotation now. The top will lend itself to layering as well so should keep me toasty warm in the frost that is now making itself known in the mornings. I have to mention as well that the comfort factor is high whilst maintaining a whimsical feeling stylishness. A huge achievement for me. dress 10

For sizing, each pattern comes in single size only and is only available in print.  Based on my measurements I went with the M which was a European 40-42. The dress was a little on the large size but as it was so well designed I was able to easily adjust the button placement. I would say that their sizing is more on the generous size if you are in doubt. cufftop_sketch

For those that are local in Australia, Leslie announced that Fibresmith will be stocking the The Assembly Line patterns shortly and I know that Drapers Daughter in England also has a full compliment. Otherwise you can purchase the patterns directly from their website, The Assembly Line.aprondress_sketch

I can’t recommend these patterns enough. Next up on my list is the Tulip Dress and the Three Pleat skirt. I’ve also seen on their website that they sell fabric specifically matched for their patterns as well. If post wasn’t so prohibitive I would likely go down that path. Maybe I might do that when in Berlin…

Sometimes it pays to be adventurous, try new things, and be overwhelmingly surprised at how well it all comes together. Happy Sewing Days.


Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all patterns and fabric and all opinions are my own and not paid. I’m just happy to share the sewing love I found.

Sew Melbourne Garden Party 2018

IMG_0588The second annual Sew Melbourne garden party was held recently at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens on a day that complimented the frocks and frivolities. The sun shone, the weather was quite temperate and the music most fitting.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to create to wear. In fact, the idea (thank you Pinterest, unable to acknowledge photo further due to lack of links) had been sitting with me for some time. I even had the perfect linen purchased from The Drapery in my stash. My first thought was do I embroider or screen print.  Screen printing clearly won as the event date crept closer and I was yet to cut the fabric. Given that it took two years from Pinning the dress and 2 weeks to design and construct I think we call all see why this is a hobby and not a commercial enterprise. IMG_0702

I’m not known for my arty skills but when I’m inspired by an image I can usually come up with an interpretation that sits well with me. The dress pattern was the Kim dress bodice by ByHandLondon and their Flora skirt. The screen print patterns were ones I had already created for previous projects, including a fern leave, orchid and a wonderful branch of leaves of a neighbouring tree. I just needed to replicate the red flowers which were essentially well placed skewed elliptical shapes. I was happy with the colours I mixed, but never ask me to replicate them. Except the bronze. The bronze came out of the jar as is. I can replicate the bronze.IMG_0427

I took the extra step of tracing the stencils and colouring them in as I was bored one morning and couldn’t find anything to entertain me that didn’t involve house work. Plus I was waiting for someone to fix my beast of an oven who was having conniptions (all sorted now without having to add a 900mm stainless steel cooking monster to landfill. Phew!). This made pattern placement and perspective incredibly easy and a method I will definitely employ again. IMG_0428

So very happy with the way the dress came together, and although going up a size in the bodice there really wasn’t too much room for cake to be had. (what genetic freak of nature grows bewbs at 42???) Speaking of which though, you must peruse this Gin and Tonic cake recipe that was shared on the day. So. Much. Delicious.BA

The afternoon was lovely. Being with one’s tribe is all sorts of wonderful. In addition to the sewing tribe there was a subsection of curly girl seamstresses as well. #splintergroupscanbeawesome.IMG_0608

I didn’t get too many photo’s on the day that had me looking other than a turtle trying to get its neck back into its shell so we took some more pic’s at the Geelong Botanical Gardens over Easter. garden3

gp parasol





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. 



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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.