Knitting with rags



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.


The Cloth House Soho, London



The Cloth House Soho, London

Now as odd as this may seem, my other source of inspiration was the Florence Nightingale Museum in London, 

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.


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.






The result?



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.



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


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.


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.



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.


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.





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)


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…… 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



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!


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!!!



New Look 6461


New Look 6344


Vogue DKNY V2923


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.


New Look 6344, Vogue DKNY V292, McCalls M7279


New Look 6344






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.


Vogue 9068  and New Look 6461



Pants are New Look 6461




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….



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.


Vogue 8786

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


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


white linen pants….a huge boon


a little silk top I bought from Glebe markets





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… control!!!!  It was like she was a toddler again. I could do whatever I liked!


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


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.


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.

IMG_3922 (3)

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




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.

IMG_3921 (7)

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

IMG_3919 (7)

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.



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.


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.

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.

The highs and lows of sewing, 2016

Mostly highs. I’d have to say this has been a milestone year for me, in terms of sewing. I think I’ve moved to the next level and I attribute this to social media……particularly Instagram which has really broadened my horizons. And for that reason I LOVE Instagram. It has been a great source of inspiration for me.

My first intro to Instagram….. and I don’t know how I’ve lived without it


So how have I moved to the next level?

Its the first time I’ve drafted my own pattern.


It’s also the first time I’ve got ‘the fit’ right for dresses for me....and that’s a huge first given I’ve been sewing for years. I will say it wasn’t easy. I unpicked until the cows came home but the result is these dresses which I am more than happy with with.



It’s the first time I’ve  tackled this  jacket.  I’ve been looking at it for years but avoiding it because I thought it would be too hard/too much work. Turns out it was relatively quick and easy  and I think the possibilities for this style are endless . The blue is linen and the straw jacket is made from a heavy upholstery fabric.

Of course the big first was the fabric trip to Shanghai and London with my friend Wendy. That was absolutely brilliant and the highpoint of my sewing year. AND ………..hopefully the beginning of a tradition for Wendy and me……..we had so much fun.



And of course there were the formal dresses.…..a first because it is the first time I have agreed to step outside the pattern……….very significant if you are a rule follower!!! I agreed to do all sorts of things to these patterns………not really me at all.


Definitely the first time I have incorporated novelty prints into my garments.……and very effectively I have to say. I love them and will continue to use them. I love the fun side of fabrics.

Lets not forget the swimwear first.……..another whole story which I won’t start here but this was probably not one of my highest highs


Another first that deserves a mention is knitting with fabric.OMG this is just so fun! That’s all I can say. I got the idea while on the London fabric tour and it’s something I would really like to develop. I think the sky’s the limit here. But I have to fess up that this is a UFO……..but also very much a current WIP and I have some great ideas.


And not to forget the first time I’ve actively supported my daughter to try her hand at sewing….and with amazing results. She is very creative. Regrettably I am Mrs Rules so I struggle when she says but Mum I don’t need a pattern….it won’t take me long to make this top…all I need you to do is help me thread the machine. She was right. She made it in a couple of hours without a pattern and wore it that day. All I did was help thread the machine…..a learning curve for me!

img_2155img_2158And now for a 2016 sewing low.…… overlocker was ‘found’ by someone in the carpark when I put it down for 5 minutes (hidden, I thought) behind the car. I hope they have lovely overlocked edges on their seams because  I don’t !

To summarise 2016 sewing for me…….a really big year that I enjoyed. What I have most enjoyed is the online sewing community of which I have become a part.  Thank you to everyone who has ever posted a sewing image on any form of social media. I have found it enormously inspirational and even exciting…… much so that I try not to look at IG before I go to bed lest I should be so enlivened by a potential project that I cannot sleep!!!!! And that’s the truth.

On a very sad note….. my thoughts go out to David, husband of Katherine Scraper and her family. Katherine was better known in the sewing community as ….Pillows A-La-Mode.


Katherine was an inspiration to me…….creative, resourceful, positive and clever and the sewing world has been enriched by her generous contributions.











The Formal Dress

img_2391Lots of late nights for this one…not a comment about degree of difficulty as much as busy time of year and short lead time. And there were a few challenges.

Ok. The pattern. My daughter had an idea in her head and enough confidence in me to believe I could create exactly what she wanted. Now this is very flattering but talk about pressure! You see,  I couldn’t find a pattern for a bralette top and I really am an absolute novice at drafting and grading. But I gave it a shot. This is what we started with for the top.

img_2414Using version A as the template, I added  4 inches to the band under the bust. I also interfaced the band and added boning to reinforce the  bodice. We omitted the halter neck and replaced it with  shoe string shoulder straps.  My daughter didn’t want buttons so we replaced these with press studs……big mistake because the press studs didn’t cut the mustard….they just didn’t hold so I had to do an eleventh hour safety pinning job as she was walking out the door.

img_2411 img_2415For the skirt I used version P which I lengthened by 8 inches but otherwise it was a perfect fit and smooth sailing.

The other big challenge was the fabric. The selection was based purely on colour. She just had to have that fabric because she loved the colour. Yes the colour is beautiful but this particular satin didn’t have the body to support the A line skirt. I wanted to work with something much heavier. But as we all know, when you have a vision, nothing else will do.  It had to be this particular flimsy satin despite my misgivings. So I improvised and lined the shirt with a medium weight cotton that worked quite well. The skirt hung beautifully.img_2382

img_2405She had a lovely night was thrilled with the dress and I will be pleased to move onto the next project tomorrow……..after a long sleep in.

International Day of the Girl- UN Women

Today I am blogging about girl power – well girl empowerment really.  October  11 is International Day of the Girl Child.  This is an initiative started by the UN to promote the rights of girls across the globe.

The objective of this day is to make people more aware of how life is for girls around the world – and the many challenges that girls face. I have included this extract from zonta international  to provide greater detail on these challenges.

Why have I blogged about this? Because I am passionate about empowering and mentoring girls today, to quip them  to lead and change the world for women (and men) tomorrow. I have enormous faith in today’s young  girls (and boys). I think they are intelligent, savvy,  tolerant and creative beings who have an insatiable  thirst for knowledge and justice and an astounding capacity to embrace and foster diversity. I believe they yearn for guidance and feed off the wisdom of those with experience. A partnership between women and girls is a formidable alliance and mentoring is key.

DKNY Jacket

img_2061I am so excited about this jacket because I absolutely love it and it was a long shot. There were just so many reasons why it shouldn’t have worked but I took a punt and it paid off.

img_2062This is an old pattern…well about 10 years……and one that I look at often. I love the femininity of the jacket. It is sort of pretty in a chic way….you know, a feel good jacket. But I was seriously put off by the French seams and top stitching and edge stitching ALL OVER the damn thing. So every time I looked at it I put it back.

Enter the Walthamstow linen fabric that I carted  all the way back from the UK and my own mad little ‘sewing bee challenges’. You see, lately, I’ve been playing the Great British Sewing Bee, by myself, in my own home. I say to myself before I start, ‘Sewers, you’ve  got 6 hours to complete this challenge’. And off I go. And I love it! I have so much fun by myself in my own little world. It sounds crazy but it’s fantastic! It’s like meditation because I am 100% focused on the project and its actually  very therapeutic. And ……my sewing is so much better because I am focused. And…….I get the garment finished quickly. No dithering. Sure. Its a bit mad. But very productive…..even though I am pretty liberal with my timeframes!

img_2051Anyway, I never really understood why I chose this colour and I didn’t like it much. So I decided to ‘choose it from the haberdashery’  to get rid of it.

Now interestingly  (and even more surprisingly), I loved making this jacket. I mean, I actually loved the whole French seam, edge stitching, top stitching bit.  And I enjoyed the precision of it all and the ironing of the seams. It was one of the most enjoyable sewing exercises I have done in a long time and it has occurred to me that I think I actually prefer making structured tailored garments to quicker easier things.


And I love it, on me. It is a good  fit and the colour is perfect. I think it will be a great addition to my wardrobe.

And now for a little surprise wrinkle. See the white braid around the edges? It’s label tape!

img_2035What a stroke of brilliance  that was on my part You see I didn’t want to use braid because i didn’t want to sew it on.I didn’t want the stitching to be seen on the inside. The tape is iron on and it went on like a dream.

About the sleeves. I am under no illusion that they would pass muster with Patrick. But I just don’t know why they’re so bad. Could it be because I reinserted them about  85 times before I gave up? Perhaps it’s because I was too meticulous in the transferring of pattern marking! I have no clue.

But I did indulge myself in some shoulder pads…………….covered in Liberty no less

img_2038Yes I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and cannot wait to make another in a more user friendly colour. I might do it for my own private quarter finals!

From Australia to London to buy fabric? Seriously?


Well…..yes and no. Sort of, but not really. This was our fabric tour of London and Shanghai….a tour all about fabric, haberdashery and sewing- not exactly a trip to  buy fabric….even though the two got a bit mixed up at times.

How did this come about?

Good question. Well, my friend Wendy and I sew…all the time…..and buy fabric……often….and talk sewing and dressmaking and patterns and Threads magazine and read blogs about sewing and follow other sewers on Instagram and meet for morning teas and lunches at fabric stores all over Sydney and go to craft fairs and compare notes on the episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee.

You get the picture.

Now Wendy is a seasoned traveller. Anyway, after her last trip to Asia, she said to me in passing (actually I think it was by text) , was thinking,  wouldn’t it be great to do a fabric crawl of London? Well. I had never even contemplated anything nearly as fun as this …………..ever! It was like Christmas when you are a kid sort of excitement. I wasn’t even sure Wendy really meant it. But I was there. Done. And before I could even text back YES YES YES, Wendy had the flights sorted!


So we made a plan to meet every six weeks, at a fabric store somewhere (naturally) and nut out the details. I think we actually gave the Sydney fabric market a huge boost while we were planning the trip…….so that’s good for the economy!


What did we actually want to do there?

I’ll tell you. We were on a mission.  We were going to London to completely immerse ourselves in our craft. Fabric, patterns, haberdashery and everything else that is sewing related. We were unapologetic. This was an indulgence and we were hell bent on indulging ourselves every step of the way.

So to the itinerary. We pretty much left no stone unturned and made a list that included every sewing related place, thing or person we could think of. Lets’s see, there was Sew Over it London, the man outside Sainsbury’s (from Did you make That), Liberty of London, Goldhawk Rd, Savile Row, Walthamstow Markets, Greenwich Markets, MacCulloch and Wallis, the Button Queen etc etc etc.  If we’d heard of it, it was on the list!



The man outside Sainsbury’s


Then there was the other kind of fun. We knew we’d need some R and R after all that fabric shopping so we punctuated our ‘research’ days with more run of the mill entertainment like……………..






And then?  More ……IMG_1748hard…….




So did we enjoy it?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and speak for Wendy too. The answer is of course a resounding YES! We had a ball. We absolutely loved it. But what surprised me was that I loved it for reasons that I hadn’t really anticipated.


I absolutely loved London…..with a passion I didn’t know I had.  I mean, I’ve been there before but somehow this time it was different. Reflecting on what it was I loved,  I’d have to say it was the overall look and feel…..greyness (yes..the greyness), the tube, the colour of the Thames, the architecture, the traffic, the crowds, the mix, the fashion the busyness……the big city-ness of London. I just loved it. It was everything I had remembered but in such a compelling way. I somehow couldn’t get enough of it….and in a crazy sort of way it felt like home…….in a ‘where I belong’ sort of way.img_1687

Talking shop and learning

Do you have any idea how much fun it is to go for 2 whole weeks talking about everything ‘sewing and fabric’ and not have to wonder if you are getting boring? Can you imagine how liberating that is? OMG! We didn’t stop. we completely immersed ourselves in sewing heaven. Went for broke. We dined out every meal, (3 meals a day) had umpteen coffees and  drinks, walked thousands of kilometres and talked shop the whole time. Our enthusiasm didn’t wane for a second. And on the rare days that fatigue did get the better of us, we’d retire to our respective rooms for even more fun! Wendy would do her appliqué and I had my knitting! In my book, that’s pure indulgence.



I won’t lie, I came home with plenty of fabric. But I came home with even more inspiration…..truckloads. I couldn’t begin to explain the fuel that that trip poured into my soul.  Surrendering to one’s craft so completely is a rejuvenating and gratifying experience and I benefitted enormously from it. I am full of plans, ideas, and sketches. From a creative perspective, I feel light years ahead of where I was when I boarded the plane. I’m not sure what the plans actually are but I know there is a lot more scope for me to develop as a sewer. Technically, seeing, talking and reading have inspired me to focus more on process. I aspire to improving my technique.

Can you get fabric in London that you can’t get in Australia?

I am very loyal to my fabric shops. The range of fabrics and the service I receive from Tessuti, the Fabric Store, Remnant Warehouse and Pitt Trading  is way beyond what I will ever need to satisfy my creative sewing urges.

But London was different….for obvious reasons, namely the climate and population and perhaps even proximity to European suppliers. You can get everything you need in Australia or online. But the range of fabrics in London was mind boggling! Breathtaking even, particularly the Winter fabrics. I have never seen the likes of the ranges of wools, wool crepes and silks that I saw in London. It was staggering- truly a sight to behold. And then of course there was Liberty! It was an experience just standing in Liberty of London and drinking in the wall to wall shelves of Liberty prints.

what about Shanghai?

That is such another whole big story that I will deal with that separately

Would we do it again?

We would like to run tours!