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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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Far from the Madding Crowd

 

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I love books. Real paper and ink books that are old and have that old book scent. I can get lost for hours reading. It appears (to me) we have moved away from the art of long story telling that includes miniscule detail, comment on society, in-depth discussion of clothing, the landscape and the complexity of human relationships in painstaking detail. I think the Gold Finch was the most modern book over 400 pages I’ve read in recent times. Caught up with fast fashion, fast food, fast writing. Through my readings I have learnt it is reasonable for me to stand my ground and not bend to the will of others. And I continue to learn! Bathsheba has recently become another heroine who has stolen my heart and increased my courage.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I hold a copy of Far From the Madding Crowd somewhere in my home but have yet to read it. I need to commit. However before I commit, I need to locate it…. Classic novels I have made it through include Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Mill on the Floss, Jane Eyre.  Authors including George Elliot, Leo Tolstoy, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I am going to exclude Gone with the Wind in this category (tried to re read recently, it was impossible), however it requires mention as it was the first book I read that didn’t have the happy ending. I cried for weeks (literally) because Rhett decided enough was enough. Scarlett and I were devastated. I even based my debutante ball dress the dress that she wore for barbecue.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

I adore Russian literature, and have a long love for classic texts with complex characters. English classic literature is a close second. And I love collecting the older books that have previously been owned by others. I was the custodian of the most beautiful copy of Anna Karenina printed in the 1960’s on the thinest of paper with the smallest of type. Unfortunately my Burmese cat, Isaac, chose to place it in the fish bowl. He looked me in the eye and with one foul swoop of his paw my precious book landed in the truly murky waters. Sadly the book did not survive, and I believe the fish was later the victim of murder or assisted suicide by said cat. He was a cat that only I could love.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

Some of these titles have been made into spectacular movies and mini-series. The Beautiful Lie currently screening on ABC is stunning. A modern take on Anna Karenina set in contemporary Australia. The script is beautiful and the costuming divine. Colin Firth as Mr Darcy always. No explanation required. Jane Eyre was breathtaking with Mia Wasikowska.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Elisalex bodice detail

Far from the Madding Crowd – Elisalex bodice detail with false placket and no buttons

I watched Far from the Madding Crowd several months ago, and whilst taking in the story and the scenery, I started to plot new additions to my wardrobe based on Bathsheba’s daily farm wear. The long sweeping skirts, deep shades of indigo, the independent attitude she so wonderfully displayed.

Far from the Madding Crowd - back detail

Far from the Madding Crowd – back detail

Bathsheba is another heroine I can add to my list of vintage literature girl crushes.

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd – lost the sheep, tending the grapes

My Gabriola skirt was the perfect pattern made in the softest Merchant and Mills linen purchased from Stitch 56. At the same time I found the block printed cotton also by Merchant and Mills for the top. I had two to choose from and decided upon the lighter for the Elisalex bodice with added peplum (drafted using the circle skirt app from By Hand London, recommend highly). I love the shaping of this bodice, having made the dress with an Anna skirt several times. The addition of the peplum suited perfectly, however it does act as a normal circle skirt would out in nature and there was much belly button flashing when the wind gusted. The second piece was used for the head scarf and a Tiny Pocket Tank.

Far from the Madding Crowd - Where the Sheep?

Far from the Madding Crowd – Where the Sheep?

Far from the Madding Crowd - There they Be!

Far from the Madding Crowd – There they Be!

The title of the book comes from the poem Elergy Written in the Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray:

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

I try to escape the madding crowd from time to time through dress ups, film, art  and literature.

What inspires you?

Curtsy,

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Photos by Bruce. Location at Clyde Park Winery. Merchant and Mills fabric purchased from Stitch 56. Shoes from Duckfeet. Flower hair piece from Gardens of Whimsy.

All film pictures remain copyrighted to their respective original owners. I had difficulty referencing some, so please let me know and I will add the appropriate acknowledgement/link.