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.












Marimekko cosmetic purse

IMG_1768I had long ago decided (actually, decided and reiterated to myself many times), that I would not go on another holiday without  new toiletry and cosmetic purses. Now I have seen the most beautiful purses, just about everywhere I shop. I could have bought one or two, many times over. I’m a sucker for them and would even like to collect them because they are so gorgeous.

But in true seamstress/dressmaker fashion, I pick them up and say to myself I could make that….. for half the price…. and mine would be even prettier.

And of course I never do. So I just keep wheeling out the old tattered ones with the stuck zips and hope nobody sees them.

But not any more!!!! Get a load of my new Marimekko cosmetic purse! I love it! I absolutely love it!


I think it is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. Marimekko on the outside AND on the inside if you please!IMG_1774.jpg


IMG_1767I have absolutely no doubt that I sound completely OTT but if you knew what I had been using for my make up, you would get me.

I found the pattern for this here and it was quick and simple. I omitted any stiffening or padding because the Marimekko has quite enough body. I lined the purse in the Marimekko water resistant fabric so I am happy that this will wash well.

You know, this was one project that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was so gratifying to have a completed project at the end of the sewing session. And the possibilities are endless so I’m pretty excited about the next one! Also a great idea for fetes, markets presents etc.



white linen holiday dress


DSC00076I found a pattern in my stash for this dress. Its not a style I would usually be drawn to but given that I am off to Nelson Bay next week, I thought it would be a very easy wear………also couldn’t wait to cut into the white linen!


If you can see the pattern clearly you’ll note that the dress is actually quite straight/fitted around the middle. It looks as though it is cut on the bias but it actually isn’t. It is cut on the straight grain. So when I first attempted this style (yesterday) I was put off by this. I found it quite restrictive (tight!!!!!) and unflattering. So in my second attempt, ie the white linen, I added an inverted pleat under the bust. For me, that is EXTREMELY innovative. I am a rule follower. But it worked and I love the dress.


the drawstring ties at the back. note the inverted pleat in the front.



I thought you might also be interested in some photos I took of Manly Beach. Just so you know, I got a camera for Christmas and I haven’t quite sorted it. I’m not sure about the photos. At this stage I prefer the iPad. DSC00060DSC00065DSC00063

I need to stick at it for a while so apologies if the images are not great.



Merry Handmade Christmas

My daughter asked for a cat.........a real one. This is my compromise

My daughter asked for a cat………a real one. This is my compromise

Neutral linen with sequins

Neutral linen with sequins

imageCat for the other daughter

A doll in neutrals to match the cat in brown tones.....same daughter

A doll in neutrals to match the cat in brown tones…..same daughter

Merry Christmas everyone. I have so enjoyed reading your posts this year. I enjoy being a part of this community because I am inspired by you and I love learning about your lives in your part of the world. Every post makes my feet itchier!

I have not contributed nearly as much as I had hoped to but I plan to make 2016 a little different. I have hopes and dreams for this year for both my personal and professional lives and I also think it’s time to change my sewing and Etsy focus……….haven’t quite fleshed out my ideas yet but I know it’s time for the next challenge…….in a ‘sewing’ way.

Anyway, these are images of  what I have made for my family for Christmas this year. I also have a stash of Marrimekko oil cloth that I planned to make into make up purses……..I will do that later.

Have a merry Christmas and a peaceful holiday and keep on crafting and posting.



New Year’s day at the beach


foBronte Beach

I couldn’t tell you what the temperature was in Sydney today…..suffice to say ‘hot’! So hot. We did this beautiful Bronte to Bondi walk at 8am this morning and it was painful…..absolutely cruel…….in spite of the view. At times there was a bit of a breeze but overall…….HOT!


And if you think I’m a bit of a whinger, you’re right. I am. But you see, I have a northern hemisphere genetic code. I am not built for the heat and I really struggle in the Sydney Summer.  The humidity makes me physically ill and cranky. January, February and March are killers. But yes, otherwise, the  beach was beautiful and to the rest of the population, this was a  perfect day.


In terms of scenery, this is a magnificent walk. The views along this  walk are breathtaking…..a must see if you ever visit Sydney. Pretty good for the post Christmas hips too….about ten thousand steps to walk – up and down!


I thought you might be interested to see some  lifesavers, so I included this photo. There were hundreds  on the beach today and I believe there were quite a few rescues ie New Year’s Eves revellers who went for a swim before sobering up!


After our ‘relaxing’ walk, we headed off to Centennial Park for breakfast. Now that was enjoyable.


We could sit in the cool, under the trees and regroup. image


And there was a beautiful breeze blowing.

Sewing? Yes. Plenty. I burned the midnight oil before Christmas to make this beautiful 60’s number. I love the vintage look and I was so excited about this dress. On every fitting it promised the world. I looked a million bucks and I had decided to wear it out to a special Christmas function. I even bought shoes and a bracelet to wear with it. This dress  (D in the picture) just could not go wrong


But it did. Massively!!!!


Even though it was shaping up to be a perfect fit, when I inserted the zipper, which was the last step, the dress went completely haywire. In a fit of blended optimism and desperation, I unpicked and refitted every dart and seam. I spent hours on the thing. And finally, out of sheer frustration, I packed it in. I just couldn’t get it to work.

But never mind… didn’t stop me.  I dusted myself off and got up early on Christmas Eve  to  finish a shirt for my daughter for Christmas (a stocking stuffer). But alas, another disaster!

Happy New Year to everyone!!!!

Hessian sacks……….Etsy order


This is an Etsy order that I thought you might be interested to see. This cover is made from a hessian sack in which was transported, primary produce. I just love these cushions……..none too snuggly and comfortable but they look good.


Just thought I’d show you.

Christmas presents that hit the spot……………

Remember I told you I gave my niece a sewing lesson for Christmas? Well we’ve had the lesson and I’d have to say it was a rip roaring success……a bit on the exhausting side but definitely a success.

Well we scheduled it for straight after Christmas because Amelie was so excited. She invited her friend Emily to come along and that was probably the trickiest part of the whole day ie getting ‘Amelie’ mixed up with ‘Emily’. Needless to say both A and E were either too thick skinned or excited to care if I called them by the wrong name……….a bit of both I suspect.

I arrived to pick them up at 10am and didn’t even have to knock on the door because they heard the car and came running out to meet me. Both were dressed up for the day out in their new chic Christmas outfits …………..incidentally, identical stretch leopard skin leggings. We drove to Spotlight to choose patterns and fabric and I was impressed by their confidence and individuality (identical leopard skin leggings notwithstanding – I think that was an accident). They absolutely knew their own minds and were eloquent in their descriptions of what they did and didn’t like. I really loved the fact that their faces lit up when they realised they could choose from ‘all those fabrics’…….the mark of true craftspeople! Of course, they did need a bit of guidance…….they were desperate to make dresses out of the lime fluoro swimwear fabric……..but they were easily swayed and finally settled on spots…….both of them …….retract the comment about individuality!

I gave them a couple of options for patterns and we settled on a maxi skirt and or those pants that have a deliberately baggy crutch….I don’t know what they are called.


This is them hard at it. Because I am not a completely ‘giving’ person, I bought a cheap sewing machine for them (and my daughters) to learn on……..I couldn’t risk mine. I had mine at the ready to do the tricky parts or fix the mistakes like sewing along the fold line that had been cut.

For the most part, they made the whole garment by themselves. I didn’t do much at all. Both absolutely loved using the sewing machine and were surprisingly adept for young first timers. They ‘got it’ first time. There were of course some ‘fitting’ issues but hey, isn’t that what sewing is all about? It is for me anyway.



You will see that Amelie is actually wearing ‘take 2….the maxi skirt.

I have to say I was also very flattered that they saw my cushions and decided that they really loved cushions so we crammed a couple of those into the session as well. Overall we had a great day. My daughter made some beautiful cup cakes (my recipe but a million times better than mine ever turn out………..I think I underestimate the young!) and we had those for lunch after our ham sandwiches ……..we didn’t do the morning tea because we were flat out just getting the job done.

I didn’t manage to get as many photos as I would have liked because I was on the job all day. I re threaded the machine about 65 times and my 13 year old re threaded it the other 65 times!

I fell asleep on the lounge at 6pm.

Christmas presents from my sewing machine……….

This is my favourite part of Christmas ie it’s over and life is very relaxed with plenty of time, Christmas food, good books and afternoon sleeps! And I love the sales and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on TV. Yes. It’s the time I love the most. And of course there are the Christmas presents to play with……… the 3 meters of oyster crinkle linen and the couple of meters of guipure lace that I am experimenting with (Christmas presents from Jane to Jane). For me it’s a time of pure sewing indulgence, a time for having fun with sewing. And that’s what I intend to do. But I thought I would start by showing you some of the Christmas presents I made for my family and friends including cushions for my sisters in law and pyjamas for my daughter.

Cushions for my sister in law who had us all for Christmas dinner at her place

Cushions for my sister in law who had us all for Christmas dinner at her place

Pyjamas for my daughterimageCushions for my other sister in law

......and plenty of colour so I did the fronts red with one blue back..........

……and plenty of colour so I did the fronts red with one blue back……….


And for my 9 year old niece who wants to learn to sew……….image

And she was by far the most excited of all the recipients! Speaks volumes doesn’t it?

Merry Christmas!