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.

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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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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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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:
bd7 bd9 bd10

 

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.

Antipodean Steam Punk Exhibition

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, I was a little bit goth and had the desire to add a touch steam punk to my attire. (I also had bright blue hair for a week. My hairdresser was only impressed by his inability to do anything to dampen the colour, not the fact that I did it in a fit of “sure, why not!”. We ended up going the full chop in the end. Melancholy face.) Sadly, the funds available to me at the time meant I had limited access to the frocks and accessories needed to fulfil my Victorian dreams. I didn’t want cheap knock offs, I wanted the full velvet and silk experience and lacked the skills to create over the bust corsetry and bustles for my skirts in the year 2000.

my exhibition outfit, with bonus fuzz

my exhibition outfit, with bonus fuzzy

A girl can dream though, and to this day my love for steam punk and goth continue, and I try to weave elements in where I can without being too obvious. And then some days I am a little more obvious, when I’m feeling adventurous or am attending a special event (Hi Trent, yes this dress was for you. Cursty!) . It’s interesting how self conscious one feels when stepping out in more of a costume than everyday wear. I find it frustrating that it draws so much attention, when my reason for dressing up is for me, not for others. I believe a lady should be able to go bonnet to boots Victorian without having to explain herself to the common folk. Although I am happy to talk about the making of and inspiration behind my outfits. Which leaves me in a rather silly position… So take your chances and ask me! There is only a 50/50 chance I will bite.

the looking glass

the looking glass

So it was with much delight that I found the Antipoedian Steam Punk exhibition in Melbourne, through a page that actually managed to turn up in the rather hit and miss feed of the dreaded FB. One day I will travel to Sydney to call upon Gallery Serpentine and Clockwork Butterfly, but until then I Internet stalk and attend exhibitions.

Clockwork Butterfly

Clockwork Butterfly

I had decided early in the morning that I wouldn’t go as I had already postponed several times and the weather was rather inclement on Friday, but I obviously  forgot because I found myself on the train to Melbourne at 9.30. Lucky too, as the exhibition closed yesterday and I would have been very upset to have missed it.

art work by Michelle from steelhip design

art work by Michelle Murray from Steelhip Design

There is such novelty in attending an exhibition by oneself, without having to worry about little creatures or bored partners. It meant I was able to give the couple ahead of me a very stern  look for making too much inane conversation (shakes head and puts blunt fork away in purse whilst taking a deep breath) and start at the end and weave my way to the beginning by myself.

the bell jars

the bell jars

The exhibition was held in a beautiful building  called Tasma Terrace in East Melbourne near Parliament, across three floors, and was beautifully dark and gothic. Rooms filled with hand made crafts,  brass hearts and wings, clockwork mechanisms, bones, velvet and corsetry, gears and cogs, time machines and mp3 music players.

the looking glass

the looking glass

My dress, whilst not steam punk, is made from a Victorian fabric for the skirt and a 1930’s block print for the bodice. It’s the first time this dress has ventured out and not attended a child’s party, so the tiara was left at home. It was fitting considering the age of the fabric and that I have put my corset in a safe place, and was unable to a find it on my last hunt. Why do I insist on safe places when I can never remember them!

the perfect setting

the perfect setting

Such talented artists making these wonderful crafts by hand. If only I had participated in metal work at high school…

the tea cup

the tea cup

Curtsy

Pips xxx