Little white linen dresses- turning a hobby into a business

Over the weekend I unpacked the last of my boxes. I had saved this one until last because I knew what was in the box and I wanted to give myself all the time I needed to wash these little dresses, and dry them in the sun on a day when there was a breeze. They’d been kept in storage for 20 plus years. They needed some TLC and to see the sun before I hung them up in my new sewing room.

I was looking forward to this exercise. I was also a bit nervous. I wasn’t really sure how they would have fared over that time. You see, I hadn’t gone to any pains to preserve them. They definitely hadn’t been put away in anything near ‘airtight’ so this was down to chance.

But sure enough, they washed and ironed like a dream (linen, after all) and they are in exactly the same condition as they were when I made them, all those years ago. And I was so pleased. These little dresses have a special place in my heart…..and my history. Not because they were my little girls’ dresses. No. These dresses were a collection, a range that I put together to start my own label. This was Charlie Grace.

Charlie Grace

I had wanted to create a children’s clothing label for as long as I can remember. Always. Forever. And I had dreamt about white linen baby dresses from the first time I ever sewed with linen, in my teens. I loved the indulgence of linen and the way it felt, folded, and breathed. I adored the crispness of the white and was in awe of the statement that this simple and natural fabric could make. I still feel that way that about linen.

And I loved little dresses. I was mesmerised by them. I still am. The more indulgent the better. I am a sucker for quality, detail and embellishment. My preference is for classic understatement but I also love ‘over the top’. the more layers on a tutu, the better. In my mind, the possibilities for little dresses were, and still are, endless

In starting my own label, my mind was crystal clear. I knew what I wanted. White linen and little dresses were the perfect pair. Impractical? Absolutely. I am driven by beauty so I didn’t care.

Getting started

Finally deciding to give it a go was, for me, probably one of the most energising decisions I had ever made. It was liberating. Empowering. It may not sound like a big deal but believe me, 20 years ago it was. Things were so different.

We didn’t have the access to markets and media that we do today. Copyright restrictions were much tougher and unless you bought in bulk, sourcing materials was difficult and expensive. If you wanted to sell at the markets you had to get a big clumsy machine from the bank, linked to a business account under a registered trade name. Of course you had to do all of this, face to face, with a teller after you had made an appointment. And then there were sew-in labels and swing tags. You had to buy them by the thousands.

So you see, taking this on, was a big deal. At the time I had 2 little ones, aged 4 and 1, and I worked part time.

Sourcing materials

Most of my fabric came from a place on the northern beaches that used to sell off cuts from fabrics that had been used by designers. They sold the most amazing pieces for practically nothing……..some I’ve still got in my stash. I bought a lot of linen of different weights and textures (pretty much all white but some navy). The one below was a favourite – a light linen with a little stripe woven into it.

Spotlight was competitive for both fabrics and notions and you didn’t need to buy in bulk. I spent many an hour in different Spotlights all over Sydney and was never disappointed. Spotlight had a good range, was never out of stock was always comfortable and easy with a pram. In those days it was pretty disorganised too…….so it wasn’t too stressful when your kids touched the buttons! This was how I came to love Spotlight.

As the owner of a registered business, I also had access to Charles Parsons (textile supplier to manufacturers). I loved the Charles Parsons part of the experience! It was too exciting talking about the qualities of different fabrics (on huge rolls) to the sales assistants and being taken seriously. Again, the requirement to buy in bulk was prohibitive but I didn’t let that stop me. In fact, the basis of my stash today, is quality fabric from Charles Parsons. And as Im writing this I’m thinking that I probably should keep that fact under my hat!

Constructing the garments

I drafted some of the patterns myself but the gorgeous gathered yoke and Peter Pan collar style, that features frequently, was a modified ?Style pattern. Thinking ‘copyright’, I modified that pattern by at least 50% ( this probably wasn’t ever necessary but I played by the rules -a dyed in the wool stickler for the rules, was I).

You can see I included embellishments on all the dresses and that I had a particular penchant for piping, and tucks. Ribbon also featured frequently as did hand embroidery and lace. I also loved a puff sleeve with detail and adored a cuff. I still love every one of these details today……nothing has changed in 20 years (except my reluctance to spend as much time on washing and ironing ….although I probably still would).

Marketing

Then there was the selling and marketing! Now remember, online shopping wasn’t a thing and social media didn’t exist. So if I wanted sell the dresses I had to market them through a distribution channel. This involved cold calling boutiques that sold children’s clothing or department stores like Myer (could have been Grace Bros in those days?) or David Jones.

I found this very challenging. Selling has never been in my DNA. Notwithstanding , I had actually got an appointment with a buyer at David Jones. Now she gave me the heads up before the interview that if I wanted to deal with David Jones, I would need to be able to guarantee a minimum supply of items, of her choosing. Looking at the range of handmade little dresses, with their hand embroidered embellishments, I knew that promising any sort of minimum was going to be a problem.

But I wasn’t defeated…… not quite. I changed tack. I decided to alter the style slightly and omit some of the embellishments to give me a better chance at finding someone who would be prepared to sew the garments en masse. It worked. I managed to source a woman who lived miles and miles away. She wasn’t very interested but in the end reluctantly agreed to sew me a few samples …..for a pretty penny.

Where did my dream go?

I can still remember that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I picked up the samples, weeks later. My little handmade linen pieces had turned into poorly constructed cheap looking, slightly wonky, manufactured dresses.

They had become something else. Somewhere in the transformation my passion died.

I cancelled my appointment with the buyer at David Jones and put the project on ‘hold’. Severe morning sickness helped me make that decision.

And now, 20 years later, I find my little dresses, as good as new. I still love them just as much, (maybe even more) and I marvel at the beauty and durability of linen….you cannot beat it.

For me, the dresses still incite passion and enthusiasm.

It ain’t over yet!

Jane xx

Sew Japanese in January

Its been such a long time since I’ve written a blog post. I have quite a few in draft but I can’t seem to finish them. But I really wanted to blog about this dress because I think my learnings are worth sharing.

I chose this pattern because I loved the look of it so much. With hindsight, I think I really loved the colour more than anything. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about it so it was one of those projects that couldn’t wait until the weekend. I started it on a steamy hot work morning at 5am.

Now, Im very new to  Japanese patterns and this book was written in Japanese so I felt seriously handicapped from the outset in every respect. I chose the largest size pattern to trace off, on the basis that it probably wouldn’t be too big, and even if it was, it wouldn’t really matter in this style. I wasn’t sure whether or not seam allowance was included in the pattern but I assumed it was not and so added 1cm all all around. Judging by the size of the finished product, I’d say my ‘seam allowance not included’ assumption was correct (or the patterns are sized for the very petite).

I followed the diagrams which were clearly marked in sequence, and once I got into the flow, I found it an incredibly easy and logical make…..with some well thought out detail, like the curve across the top of the skirt front. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and absolutely love the dress (although, not so much on me). I was sorry I hadn’t chosen a more dramatic colour as I think the style called for it. The fabric however, was a dream to work with. It was a crinkle cotton/linen blend from Spotlight.

I also made a pretty big mistake. I forgot to add seam allowance to the neck which meant the neckline was way too wide. That’s why I have worn it with the singlet top underneath.

Overall, I absolutely loved this pattern and found it very enjoyable to construct……even though I couldn’t read it and I can’t wait to make up some of the other pieces in the book.

Have a great week!

Jane

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Botanical dyes for baby wraps

If you’ve read any of my recent posts you’ll know I’ve become quite taken by botanical dyeing. To say I find the whole process fascinating would be a gross under statement – to me it’s like magic. It doesn’t matter what what plant I use, I get a result…….and the result is always beautiful…..usually breathtakingly so.

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This is a gift for a new baby girl. The wraps are all muslin and all dyed with natural dye.

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Usually I’m painstaking with my notes and records so I know how I produced a particular shade. But I’m sorry to say,  somehow this lot slipped through the cracks. If I dug deep enough I know I could work it out so if you want to know my exact recipe, I’d be happy to let you know.  But otherwise, what I can say for certain is that for two of the wraps I have used avocado stones (one with iron added) and for the one second from the right, I used the leaves from a maple tree.

What I can also say for certain is that the results are lovely. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing past time.

I hope the wraps help the little one sleep………they would, me. In fact, I am going to make myself a nightie out of linen that has been botanically dyed!

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Goodnight XXX

 

 

Stylearc Hedy in Merino

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I’ve made lots of Hedys……..so nothing new here and generally not something I would blog about. But this Hedy is different because it is made from Merino!!!!

Its the  Merino I’m blogging about.

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This fabric is a piece I bought from the Fabric Store in Sydney, a couple of years ago. To be completely honest, this is not a colour I like to wear. But I remember that at the time, the price was so low, I just had to buy something…..and this was the most neutral of what little was left………after a massive sale.

 

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So it’s been tucked away for a long time, pretty much gathering dust.

Anyway, I needed some more casual gear for ‘casual Friday’s at work.  I prefer dresses so I can dress them up or down as the situation dictates. I decided to make the Hedy again  (I think this is number 5) and when I was going through my stash, I found a cardigan I had made for my daughter to take back to uni with her (probably the last one she will ever get!), still in the cupboard.

Well low and behold if it wasn’t a perfect match for my Merino.

So that was it!

 

Now back to the Merino.

I am gobsmacked by this fabric and it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say it is one of the most beautiful fabrics I’ve had the pleasure of handling.  No surprises there I guess……it is natural after all. But from washing to ironing to sewing to wearing it was an absolute delight. I thoroughly enjoyed the project and the dress was soft and warm on a bleak Sydney day.

Now I know what all the fuss is about.

I used the wrong side of the fabric because the colour was slightly lighter and a better shade for me. You can see how the wrong side is a little bit coarser….I love that look. Mind you, the threads will pull more easily.

 

Now I can’t wait to cut into my next piece of beautiful Merino. I am a convert and very grateful to those dear little sheep!

 

 

 

My take on the Washington Dress

IMG_6153I have been looking at the Washington dress on social media for months and months…….and planning. I knew I wanted it but I wanted it to look a bit different to the original version….I just wasn’t  quite sure how different

So I bought the pattern and pored over it……like I always do when I’m excited about a pattern….a bit like a good book. I could see endless possibilities for this dress and I absolutely loved the yoke addition to the skirt.

What I really wanted was a black dress for work that would be comfortable and easy wear and would provide me with options to change the look….mostly with jackets and accessories. What I wanted was an LBD. But I don’t like black near my face. I like white.

Enter the Washington Dress!!

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I bought the fabric from Knit Wit. I can’t actually remember what the black fabric is which is a real pity because it is beautiful.  It’s a heavy stretch/woven with a textured finish. washed, sewed and ironed like a dream. The top is white scuba.

 

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I modified the skirt pattern by tapering it in from the bottom of the yoke. I wanted a slimmer line skirt to balance my jackets, most of which are cropped.

The jacket below is another great pattern i.e. Marci Tilton V9190

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About the pattern

I loved everything about this Cashmerette pattern. It was quick and easy and a great pattern to modify. I am now looking forward to making the Appleton!

Have a lovely Autumn week.

Jane XX

Knitting with rags

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The inspiration for this piece came from my fabric tour of London and Shanghai in 2016. If you’re interested in that trip (it was so good!), you can read all about that   here    

The short version is that inspiration came from everywhere and the seed for this little number was first planted when I stepped into the Cloth House in Soho and was blown away by the raw beauty of the fabrics made of natural fibres. I have always been a fan of the ‘natural fibre ‘ but there was something about the way they were displayed in the Cloth House that took my love to a whole new level.

 

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The Cloth House Soho, London

 

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The Cloth House Soho, London

Now as odd as this may seem, my other source of inspiration was the Florence Nightingale Museum in London,  www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/ 

Just in case you don’t know, the Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the world’s most famous nurse. Many say  Florence Nightingale invented nursing. She did in my book.

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Image of Florence Nightingale- unknown source

Anyway, why was I inspired by this museum? Well the truth is I’m not really sure. My thought process went along the lines of…….

I wonder if the nurses who served in the Crimean War ever had any time to do craft? I wonder what sort of craft they would have done if they did have time……and if they did, how would they have sourced materials?

You see, I cannot imagine a life without craft because for me, craft is the  fuel that keeps me going. And the more difficult life is, the more of that fuel I need. So projecting, I wondered, how could those nurses have kept going the way they did unless they had fuel? I know I couldn’t have so what would I have done?

I searched every image in that museum to find something that I might have used for materials to make things with. And the thing that really jumped out at me was the bandages (not that there was ever an abundance of bandages, as far as I am aware, in any of the wars)……..but what could you do with bandages? Well you could knit them of course!

Now this is in no way meant to be flippant or insensitive.  I am in awe of the nurses and the unbelievably selfless contributions they have made to all wars. This was simply about craft and inspiration, in isolation from the reality of war.

Knitting with rags

So, armed with an idea and plenty of downtime on our fabric tour, I bought  size 10mm needles and some cheap white cotton fabric. Before I started the project, I sat in my hotel room in London after dinner one night, glass of wine in hand, and ripped the fabric into strips and then tied them together. I decided I wanted to add some texture to the overall look so I collected all sorts of bits and pieces to add to the mix. The only criteria was the material had to be white….ish.

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The result?

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My thoughts

I love this top but I found making it, hard work. This was because it was heavy, even on a circular needle, and despite the fact it was all garter stitch,  it made my hands ache. Because it is cotton, the lack of give also added to the heaviness. That’s why it took so long to finish it. I mean, I loved the look of it and loved watching it grow but it wasn’t a comfortable project. It’s also a little heavy to wear so will definitely be a Spring/Autumn addition to the wardrobe. I deliberately left the knots visible because I wanted to retain that raw look.

Would I make another one?

Absolutely!!! I’ve started all ready. This time I am using muslin, dyed in cherries (yes cherries). And it feels much much lighter and more comfortable on the hands. Fingers crossed.

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I hope you have a lovely week, full of fuel.

Jane xx

Avocado skins, muslin and home spun

IMG_5412I have been eyeing off fabrics dyed with avocado skins, for ages. In fact, every time one of those beautiful muted tones comes through my feed, and I see that it’s been dyed with natural dye, I do a double take. I love the colours…….absolutely love the elegance of the muted tones. There’s something so fragile and understated about them.  And given that I’m big on the curated wardrobe theme, lately, I’ve been able to see a lot of merit in learning all about the process.

But I’m impatient! So, learning for me was You Tube….short, sharp and visual (I will do the in depth reading over the next few ………….weeks maybe?).  Anyway, without really knowing what I was doing, I had a go. I bought 6 unripe avocados, 2 meters of muslin and 2 meters of homespun. I also bought  a great big second hand deep fryer from the Salvos.

The process (my untested/slap dash version, that is)

  1. Wash the fabric
  2. Peel the avocados
  3. place the skins in the top of the deep fryer
  4. place the fabric in the bottom of the deep fryer
  5. fill the deep fryer with water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 6 hours
  6. Rinse under cold running water
  7. wash

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This was the outcome of the muslin

the muslin

this looks very pink, almost purple but this is more about the light.

The muslin draped over white-

This is closer to the real shade but there are several layers here so not entirely accurate

Once I had completed  the muslin, I froze the dye to save it for the home spun which I did a couple of days later. Now the home spun took the dye far easier than the muslin (perhaps the colour was more developed? I’ll have to read about that) so I immersed it for an hour only.

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Sewing with muslin and/or homespun

Even though this was an experiment, I wanted to make something with the fabrics because I love the colour (which I would describe in real life as dusty pink meets salmon). Now call me strange but I absolutely love muslin. I think it’s soft and lovely and elegant….not to mention cool. I understand why babies are swaddled in it because I would love to be swaddled in it myself (in fact I think I’m going to make myself some muslin sheets). Of course it has no body and is difficult to manage under the machine and you can see straight through it. But I doubled it and that worked quite well. In fact, it was putty in my hands and it sewed beautifully.

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The pattern I used was Burda Style 7521 (A) and I’ve included a picture because I think this one is OOP……….. shame because it’s an easy make / easy wear.

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Now, the pants in homespun? Different story. I don’t like homespun one little bit. But it did the job. And the pants turned out well. I used the good old NewLook 6461 which I’ve now used 4 times. You just can go wrong with that pattern.

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Overall?

I think the look borders a bit on the ‘pyjama’ because it is pink (maybe). But then again I love the pink. I’m a bit sorry I didn’t do the pants in muslin too……….or of course a beautiful linen……….but I was trying to see how economical I could be (under $20 for the whole outfit…..INCLUDING avocados that were seconds). The ‘pyjama’ effect could also be a function of the homespun which is really not satisfactory for pants. But I loved the exercise , am excited about the possibilities and can’t wait to learn all about it.

I hope you enjoyed this post…or better still,  got a kick out of seeing how good the finished product is, even when it’s made by a mere mortal (amateur).

It’s late, so sweet dreams

Jane XX

My capsule wardrobe aka the curated closet

 

IMG_5103IMG_5162.JPGOne day in 2017 something really good happened to me that changed my life. I discovered the capsule wardrobe concept

Now this happened out of the blue and quite by accident. But once I’d found it, there was no stopping me. I just had to make myself a  Basic 12 -Piece Capsule……….complete with accessories. And I’m telling you this story because against all the odds, I am now a ‘capsule wardrobe’ convert.
This is surprising.  I am the quintessential,inspirational sewer. There is no rhyme or reason to my sewing. If I like it, I’ll make it and I am strongly opposed to any sort of disciplinary constraints. It is rare for me to make even a matching top and bottom. I get bored after the first piece. Well I used to.

Not any more!

Enter Looking Good……every day. Style solutions for Real Women by Nancy Nix- Rice

I was completely mesmerised by this book. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it because it was  inspirational and made so much sense to me….. full of interesting pictures and ideas….detailed, realistic, colourful and contemporary.  In fact,I still haven’t put it down.  But there was something in particular about this book hat set me on a new trajectory i.e.  do you have lots of clothes but never anything to wear? YES!! That is so me. My wardrobe is bursting but somehow I always seem to be scratching around for the right jacket or the right shoes. It was taking me ages every morning to put it all together.

So I decided to try the capsule wardrobe concept….as boring and unappealing as that sounded. The theory behind the capsule is that with just 12 garments, you can yield 96 outfits!! (You can see why I was taken in)

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The capsule wardrobe is created according to a formula. You start with a core four grouping of a skirt, pant, jacket blouse or shell in a basic colour. You then build on that with another 4 pieces  (2 different contrasting colours) to add say another jacket, a top and a skirt and pants. The last 4 pieces might be a skirt and blouse and a twin set……..as befitting your lifestyle. Shoes and other accessories expand the wardrobe even further.

The fun part….buying the fabric

Apart from adding the accessories, shopping for the fabric was the part I loved the most. I found it so exciting dreaming up a whole palette of possibilities. I had no preconceived ideas about what I wanted so I simply looked around (for quite a while in sewing time – about 2 weeks) to find something that grabbed me. I didn’t care what it was. My only desire was to end up with a wardrobe that would double as a corporate and casual collection. This was a tall order but I figured that 12 pieces was a fair bit of work – quite a commitment so I wanted to get some mileage out of the exercise.

I finally fell for this fabric I found at The Fabric Store. I loved it on sight so it was an easy choice. I absolutely loved the citrus tone for summer and I knew the options for matching would work well for me  (at least I thought they would !). You’ll see that this fabric looks slightly crushed. That increased the appeal  because it made it a bit interesting. It was a polyester (which I usually avoid) with a very slight sheen and it washed and sewed like a dream. n love

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Why mention the Sartorialist? Because I found this book in a second hand book store and I drank in every single page …….507 images of street fashion………..what delicious inspiration!

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This is the assortment of fabric I choose- a mix of cottons, linens, poly and lace. I didn’t use all but it provided my inspiration. Most fabrics were purchased from the Fabric Store in Surry Hills but others I had brought home from by fabric shopping trip in London and Shanghai

The core 4 pieces

I started with a jacket, skirt, pants and 2x tops (I made 5 core pieces to span corporate and casual). I used the black linen which sewed like a dream. It was the most beautiful fabric. But probably not a great choice for some of the pieces because the fabric was a little too light weight to withstand the wear and tear that skirts and jackets are subjected to. But more importantly………..I hate black on me and I hate sewing black!!!!! So why did I choose it? Good question. In my defence, I was betwixt and between. I wasn’t sure. But black is such a good corporate standby……….unfortunately. And in that sense, it was a good choice because I have already worn it to death…….all the black. Doesn’t mean I like it!!!

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New Look 6461

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New Look 6344

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Vogue DKNY V2923

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The skirt is cut off McCalls M7279. I learnt how to fit correctly during the Palmer Pletsch tissue fitting method course last year

 

Lifting the black

I did quite a bit of work to lift the heaviness of the black off my face and incorporated jewellery, scarves and jackets to soften the look.

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New Look 6344, Vogue DKNY V292, McCalls M7279

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New Look 6344

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Moving on to the next pieces- the 3 citrus pieces

Citrus!! What a joy after the black! Initially I was unsure about this colour. That is to say, I loved it immediately but I wasn’t sure about making ‘pieces’ from it. But once I’d made the jacket I was convinced. And let’s face it, there was no way this wasn’t going to lift the black. So out of the citrus I made a jacket, top and pants.

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Vogue 9068  and New Look 6461

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Pants are New Look 6461

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And then another jacket……..

And probably my favourite piece of all. This jacket was absolutely simple and made out of an interesting piece of a waffle fabric. The fabric is quite stiff and was therefore ideal for the jacket. I have lived in this little Marci Tilton number….

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And then there are the 2 dresses

The first is an old favourite…….V8786. This fabric was beautiful to work with but I felt it needed a bit more body for a dress so I lined it with  a muslin.

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Vogue 8786

And of course……..a white linen Tessuti Annie

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And last but not least…… a few bits and pieces

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white linen pants….a huge boon

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a little silk top I bought from Glebe markets

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What did I learn?

  1. I love clothes more than I thought I did
  2. I’m more addicted to sewing than I thought I was
  3. I still don’t like black on me
  4. It’s impossible to find a photo of me smiling – even though I laugh all the time
  5. I absolutely loved this exercise
  6. I will do this again
  7. This post took more time than the sewing

I hope you enjoyed reading this post because I honestly thought the experience was worth sharing…….and if you did enjoy it………Im very pleased!!

Jane XX

A curated wardrobe – aka the ‘Collection’

IMG_3869This could just be the most fun I’ve ever had……….putting together what affectionately became known (in a sibling rivalry kind of way), as the Collection. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this project that  started when my daughter asked me if I would make her a skirt. She’s away in the country at uni and as usual, when the weather changed, she became pretty desperate for clothes.

I was more than happy to make her a skirt …….especially when she described what she wanted….it was so simple. So I suggested  a couple of tee shirts to go with the skirt wouldn’t be problem either.

The brief

Here’s the thing. It wasn’t really any sort of brief at all it was more like….

ME- So what would you like?
DAUGHTER- I don’t really mind Mum. Anything really. I need going out clothes and I sort of like grey and white. I don’t know Mum. You choose. You know.         ME- Can you point me in the direction of some websites? To give me an idea?DAUGHTER- Sure Mum. I’ll send you some links.

And that was it! I was licking my chops! Carte blanche……….just the way I like it…..total control!!!!  It was like she was a toddler again. I could do whatever I liked!

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I kicked off by indulging myself in all sorts of possibilities………..whether I was in the hairdresser’s or on the train or doing the grocery shopping, I was mentally putting the wardrobe together  (like, doesn’t the metal freezer door tone in beautifully with the white on the frozen peas packet…….mental note to self….a touch of something shiny and metallic to lift the grey/white combo……Seriously, my creativity was SO in overdrive. I was a bit hyper and sometimes  even had trouble getting to sleep. I’d nod off and then half dream about an  old piece of something I had stashed away  that would be perfect for the “collection”. IMG_3654
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lots of playing around, trying on and getting a sense of fit and style

Getting the fabric together

Well of course, getting the fabric was one of the best parts!!! But bear in mind I wanted this to be an economical exercise. I mean anyone can ‘put it together’ if money is no object but the challenge for me was to do it all on a budget. Mentally, I decided on a cap of $100.

When I bought the fabric I didn’t have a plan. At this stage I was looking for inspiration only, so headed to Remnant Warehouse where I was like a kid in a lolly shop. This is what I bought:IMG_3584

EBBA4FE9-3BCA-4758-BAE1-126D12BF1DEFFrom Lincraft I scored a slate grey stretch fabric for $2 per meter and from Darn Cheap Fabrics I bought the most beautiful soft stripe below.

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Pattern inspiration

I didn’t actually work according to a plan. I had a few ideas in my head and looked to tried and tested patterns to bring the concept to life.

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This could be one of the most loyal patterns in my stash. This elastic waist skirt has seen me through every weight fluctuation imaginable.

 

 

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This one actually gave me lots of inspiration. It’s an easy pattern and the finished product is stunning….didnt make it to this collection but it certainly won’t go to waste.

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The Mandy Boat Tee featured very prominently….offering inspiration, utility, fit and style.

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Another oldie but goodie…..a great basic shape for a long cardigan/jacket.

These 2 patterns combined, and mashed with the Mandy Boat tee were the basis of all the tops (in one form or another).

The finished products  aka the Collection

All up I made 2 skirts, 4 tops and 2 jackets. I bought 2 scarves. (the second skirt didn’t make it to the shoot). This is the Collection.

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And that’s the Collection! I hope you enjoyed reading about it because I loved doing it and I can’t wait to do the next one! Have a good week.

Jane xx

Heatwave buster- Tessuti Ruby & skirt 

img_2751-1This outfit was born with a heatwave – three years ago- Port Fairy. That was the year I thought I had cleverly combined a Christmas holiday at the beach with cooler than usual temperatures and less  humidity. The perfect holiday. Something for everyone.The added bonus for me was that I would have 10 days less of Sydney humidity to endure that Summer.

There was only one fly in the ointment.

Port Fairy was struck by a heatwave that year. It arrived the same day I did! For memory, temperatures reached 40 and it was just unbearable….and unusual.

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To make matters worse,  I didn’t have anything cool enough to wear….’cool’ as in temperature, that is (come to think of it, ditto the other meaning of cool, too). I  had plenty of clothes but nothing suitable for heatwave conditions…..apart from my nightie. I was pretty desperate and thought I’d have to spend the whole week driving around in the air conditioned car …….just to get home alive.

And then something happened. I found this outfit………. and my life changed….for the next 3 years!

The old heatwave buster- before it was completely worn out.

And yes I am smiling in this shot because this find was something like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was cool, comfortable, decent, could be dressed up or dressed down, was light and easy to wash etc etc etc. And so, I lived in it for the rest of the holiday. I was truly liberated by this outfit……..let out of the air conditioned car…not just for the holiday but for the next 3 years.

Incidentally, it cost an arm and a leg. But I was in no bargaining position in that weather.  I would have paid anything to be comfortable. I needed that outfit.

Now here’s the thing. I have literally lived in this outfit since the day I bought it. I mean literally. I have worn it more than any other garment I have ever owned because not only was it cool but it was pretty and  very sympathetic to weight fluctuations. I always looked the same whether I was up ……or more up.  And in fact I wore it and Napisan-ed it so many hundreds of times that even the patches I mended it with have now worn out too. It has therefore been relegated to ‘around the house and can even cook in it’  status. And that’s a problem for me because I cannot function without it.

Enter Nowra Spotlight, a 40% off all fabrics sale, a Spotlight gift voucher for Christmas and the Tessuti Ruby pattern and I have reinvented the Port Fairy heatwave buster.

img_2751img_2757I made a few modifications to the Ruby top. I wanted it to be a little more fitted around the bust so I added darts. I also omitted the back opening – it fits easily over the head.IMG_2755.jpgI simplified the neck and armhole detail  because the focus of this outfit is the fabric which is a beautiful embroidered cotton.

IMG_2756.jpgThe skirt is a deliciously comfortable elastic waist…….narrow elastic and fairly loose.

The end result?

To say I am thrilled would be a gross understatement. I have my uniform back so I can now sail through the February and March humidity in relative comfort. And I actually think I will get more than 3 years wear out of this one because the fabric is of a beautiful quality.
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On a completely different topic……..well maybe a bit related because it was a holiday read, I cannot stop thinking about this compelling story. As a huge  Jimmy Barnes/Cold Chisel  fan I was interested in the historical aspect of how the band came into existence. I thought this might provide context for some of the lyrics. But I wasn’t nearly prepared for what I read. This is a very sad and disturbing story about a boy, who against incredible odds, survived an horrific childhood.  And yet, Jimmy Barnes didn’t just survive. He achieved phenomenal success as an Australian rock icon, in spite of his childhood…or maybe because of his childhood. Either way, its an inspirational story about what one can achieve by listening to the heart and focusing  on the vision.

Have a good weekend and happy Australia Day, next week.