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

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So how have I moved to the next level?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.……...my 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……..so 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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

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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

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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.

 

 

The Emery dress and an op shop find

IMG_0790.jpgTo say I am thrilled with my Emery would be a gross understatement. It’s still on the dummy in the living room so I can keep looking at it. I just love it…..for several reasons.

The main reason I love it is because of the fit. I would have to say that this is the first time in my sewing history that I have fitted a ‘fitted’ dress as accurately as this. It is just the way I want it to fit and for me, this was no mean feat. But I was determined- a dog at a bone. I spent hours on the darts, all 8 of them and ended up doing some very unconventional things. This is unlike me. I am a ‘rules’ girl. But I’ve had a breakthrough!!!!

A little while back I attended the Australian Sewing Guild’s industry day at McCalls here. Although I  thoroughly enjoyed the day, I was more impressed by what I learnt from the speakers- in particular, Rita Showell. Rita’s store in Armidale (regional NSW) has been in operation for over  30 years and what Rita couldn’t tell you about fabric isn’t worth knowing. As a speaker she was engaging and very generous with invaluable tips. This one I will never forget…..There are no right and wrong techniques. If a technique works, it is right. Those words have removed my sewing shackles forever!!! I am finally liberated! So I went for broke with the Emery. Get this…….I didn’t insert a zipper ….even though the instructions said ‘insert zipper’. You see the dress fits over my head so I don’t need a zipper. But I felt so bad. I have never  ever disobeyed a pattern in my life. I fully expected to be struck down after it. And I won’t tell you what I did with the darts in the back. I’m not sure even Rita would agree with that.

IMG_0787.jpgBut I do love the dress and I think much of that is because I love  the fabric. Castle Hill Spotlight! Purpose Built, it is massive. This store had a greater range of linens than I’ve seen in any other Spotlight and on the day I was there, they were 40% off!!! I loved this colour from the moment I laid eyes on it and it sewed beautifully, of course.

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Incidentally, this dress actually looks better on me than  the dummy. But it’s just too hard to line up my photographer. Speaking of  my 15 year old photographer, she and I did the op shops yesterday. I only mention her because this is the second time I’ve seen this bag and the second time she’s begged me not to buy it because she thinks it is the most hideous thing she’s ever seen! But this time, (feeling so empowered by leaving the zipper out of the Emery!) I held the line. And I love it!

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It’s leather and I just love the colour (not meant to go with the Emery). And I’m so glad I bought it……another thing for me to look at.

And I’ve also broadened my ‘cushions’ horizon….

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Did you notice my new hand made Pillow Parlance tags? My daughter and I made them when she was home for the holidays. I am very pleased with them.

And finally, it is ANZAC Day in Australia and we celebrated it with a walk along North Head which has a beautiful paved memorial to those who have fought in the wars.

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Have a good week.

 

 

 

 

The Muumuu- a tribute to my mother

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Mum loved the muumuu. She adored the simplicity and  style of it. Not in a ‘you can hide everything under it’ sort of way but out of a deep respect for what she saw as clean, stylish lines . She loved the boxiness and symmetry. To her, the muumuu was a welcome departure from the figure hugging, curvy styles of the 50s. She didn’t do ‘figure hugging’. And thinking back, it’s a wonder because she had a tiny little waist.  Figure hugging styles would have loved her. But she didn’t love them back.  She hated 40s and 50s fashion, adored Twiggy and embraced the 60s with a passion!

The dictionary defines the muumuu as a long, loose-hanging dress, usually brightly colored or patterned, worn especially by Hawaiian women. Something like this

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This was never what Mum had in mind.She wasn’t one bit interested in Polynesian prints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No. Mum’s idea of a ‘smart’ dress was something understated and uncluttered. She usually chose a solid colour…….but never a bold tone. Now when I found this pattern on Etsy at BessieandMaive (and on instagram @bessieandmaive), I finally got Mum’s penchant  for muumuus. I just loved the simplicity of the style and yes, the clean lines. I don’t know  whether it was deja vu (I’m sure this is the actual pattern that mum used for me) or whether I  have finally found a little joy in 60s. style. You see, personally I’m a 40’s and 50’s girl…..I think.

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But this? I love it! So full of potential! So many possible variations. And unlike Mum, I LOVE the big florals. I think this pattern has got black and white Marimekko written all over it. Not to mention polka dots!

In my inimitable fashion I opted for linen to put my own stamp on the muumuu. Blue ice no less, which I couldn’t leave Tessuti  without (www.tessuti.com.au; Tessuiti.blogspot.com).  This would have to be one of my all time favourite colours. I love white and I love bright. But I am a sucker for pastels in ice shades.

The dress was, as the pattern says, simple to make. I omitted the frill from the hemline as it was just one frill too many for me. I made the sleeves according to the pattern and enjoyed working on the detailed finish. It sewed beautifully in the linen.

DSC00245.JPGThe bodice was lined and I also lined the skirt because the blue is so pale……had the potential to be see through.

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When I had completely finished the dress I unpicked the sleeves and reinserted them (what a pain!!!). The dress was just a little too  wide at the shoulders. I also cut 1 1/2 ins off the hemline as it all just felt a bit enveloping…….and looked a bit frumpy.

IMG_0317.JPGThe back is finished with tiny pearl buttons…which was no mean feat for me. Regrettably I am no buttonhole expert….and that is putting it mildly.

Overall, I am pleased with the dress and I think Mum would be thrilled to see me in a muumuu. I also think this dress qualifies as a contender for the vintage sewing pledge. I haven’t actually pledged anything yet but I intend to. Incidentally, my machine has been out of action ……being serviced. So I made this whole garment (and others) on a $99 spare! and I was very pleased with the results. It does a lovely zig zag. And because there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between the cheapie and my own machine, I got to wondering about the virtues of an expensive fancy model? I am however happy to be persuaded otherwise. I would kill for a top of the range machine.

Have a good weekend!

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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

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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.

Jane

 

Bundarbo Station Jugiong and two dolls.

This is Bundarbo Station. I wanted to tell you about my weekend in Jugiong. Where is Jugiong you ask? Good question. It is near Yass which is 45 minutes from Canberra. Jugiong is a town on the Sydney to Melbourne route  with a population of 300. The reason for the trip was the open garden at Bundarbo, Jugiong.

But this was no garden. It was an impeccably maintained magnificent estate on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

Bundarbo is owned by Sam and Sue Chisholm. Sam is better known as right hand man to the likes of Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch. But today he was all about fund raising for the local school of Jugiong (26 pupils) as he opened up the exquisite property to the public.

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This property dates back to 1847 and remained in the same family for 150 years until it was acquired by the current owners who have extensively restored and modified the property.

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The gardens are beautiful and the surrounding undulating landscape was well worth the 3.5 hour trip. And it would seem that  hundreds of others shared this view  because the tiny school of Jugiong attracted over 1600 people in support of its  fundraising efforts. No mean feat but hardly surprising given the organisation that had gone into the day and the attention to detail that contributed to its success.

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The Jugiong school and community should take a bow. It was a marvellous day and a highly successful fundraiser.

Meanwhile, back in Jugiong proper, the town was abuzz.

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The Jugiong Motor Inn was packed to the rafters and guests enjoyed a 5 star dinner and then one or two nightcaps to follow. The motel itself and usually sleepy town seemed to have been dropped holus bolus into a paddock of very unperturbed sheep, horses and alpacas who were decidedly unfazed by the commotion caused by the the out-of-towners. It was truly a good ‘for the soul’ experience. Deepak Chopra would approve.

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And I really should mention the renowned Long Track Café & Pantry that not only served lunch and the most delicious home made cakes and Anzac cookies but also stocked an array of quality home wares, leather and linen goods. Honestly, the whole weekend was an indulgence of the senses.

Last but not least, remembering this is a sewing blog and just reminding you that I am momentarily ‘off’ sewing clothes, here are my latest two dolls.

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Have a good week!

Audrey Hepburn cushions

If you are anything like me, the most important man (or woman) in your life is your hairdresser. I would walk over hot coals for my hairdresser because I am so dependent on him! He is better than any psychiatrist because he makes me happy! Not because of anything he says but when my hair is bad I’m bad. It’s that simple. And it’s not easy hair to do. It takes ages and ages and I’m not very adventurous ……..don’t get his creative juices flowing.

So when he told me he had this gorgeous Audrey Hepburn fabric that he’d bought to make a cushion, but he couldn’t sew, I was happy to oblige. These are the cushions……….

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Don’t you think they’re lovely? I was so pleased with them. It is a very heavy furnishing fabric and I have backed them with an oatmeal linen. And my hairdresser loved them. And………….gave me the rest of the fabric so I will add some to my Etsy shop. I’m just hoping the rest of the staff don’t bring in their mending for me! Have you ever noticed that when people know you can sew they automatically assume you love sewing on buttons and hemming trousers? We had a formal function at work a couple of weeks ago and one of the girls had bought a beautiful silk gown that had a tie around the waist. The tie was too big for her middle (enviable problem!!!) so I offered to fix it for her because she couldn’t sew. Well, she and I were sitting in the lunch room at work, pinning the tie for me to fix and one of the men came in. He took one look at the pin cushion and exclaimed “oh you can sew? I’ve just paid to have my tux altered! I could have got you to do it and saved the money!” Seriously? And this guy was practically a total stranger!

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On another theme, Summer in Sydney. Yes. It’s back. In all it’s stinking hot glory. I thought you might enjoy these shots of Coogee Beach. We had set off for a walk at 9am but had to turn back because it was just too hot. But the beach was beautiful.

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Going off on a completely different tangent, there is a place in north west NSW, near Tamworth, called Nundle. It is a country town and I had recently read a success story about a couple who bought the Nundle Woollen Mill in 2007 and totally transformed the business in 2013. It has become something of an award winning tourist attraction. Anyway, I was googling it and came across the following “important life lessons to learn from knitting”. I hope you get a giggle out of them…..

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Have a good weekend!

Discovering Marimekko…………..

I cannot believe that this label has existed for so long without me knowing anything about it! That is to say, I knew about it but I didn’t KNOW about it. 20150802-173911.jpg This fabric could have been designed by me. I just absolutely love it and I think it is probably the best fabric thing that’s happened to me since I found Tessuti. There will be no stopping me ………and a nice 500 steps on the Fitbit from the office………..definitely a win win……exercise AND fabric! Sure. It’s not cheap. Don’t worry. I won’t buy I’ll just look😉 This is going to be the basis of my Etsy Pillow Parlance Summer range. And one more thing…..just so you know I am not into animal cruelty, I want to emphasise that Frankie actually fell asleep while my daughter did her hair in the sun. 20150802-174735.jpg 20150802-182318.jpg 20150802-182401.jpg

I am still here…………

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When I started blogging I swore I would post regularly…….and in my mind’s eye I sort of have. Well I’ve meant to but things just got away from me. And it’s not that I haven’t been sewing because I’ve made so many things my wardrobe is positively stuffed.

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I’ve made cushions, jackets, skirts, tops and gear for my daughters. I’ve had mostly successes and one major flop……a lovely black dress that I just couldn’t get to fit me.

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But even though I haven’t been posting, I’ve been religiously devouring everyone else’s posts.

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Anyway, I’m back and wanted to show you a few of the pieces I’ve made. As I am also back at work in a ‘very’ full time position and Sydney has turned deliciously cold, I am even more inspired to sew………I achieve far more when I’m busy and I love Winter clothes. So watch this space!!!!!

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Marilyn Monroe

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No disrespect to Marilyn but this is all about the fabric which is the most delicious quilted vinyl/leather look that I purchased from Tessuti. It is magnificent and was a dream to sew. I begged my girls to let me make them a jacket out of it but they didn’t know who Marilyn Monroe was!

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Have a good weekend.

Jane