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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!

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.

 

 

Fabric tour- London and Shanghai

IMG_1386.JPGWell we’ve started. And our days are so busy I don’t really have time to blog. Or more precisely, I’m too tired to blog. 25000 plus steps on the Fitbit everyday and by the end of it, I’m fit for nothing other than sleep.  Above is the silk I bought in Shanghai. With Liberty of London next on the list, I picked up a couple of very pretty classics.

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IMG_1452.JPGToday was Sew Over It, Clapham. This was up there with our ‘must visit’s and aside from the fact that we didn’t get to meet Lisa, it didn’t disappoint.

IMG_1446.JPGFrom the perspective of gaining inspiration, the Dover Street Markets were a find.

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I will have to think long and hard before I put pen to paper on this one but suffice to say, the couture pieces were something else….well worth a look.

IMG_1425.JPGAnd speaking of inspiration, the Suzie Turner Couture fashion parade at the Savoy, over delivered.

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The midnight blue silk formal gown

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This is the silk formal gown that I made for my daughter.

IMG_1202 (1).jpgIt was a little bit of an eleventh hour job….only because I had to wait until she was home, so I could fit her. I knew what she wanted and I knew the colour so I was all ready.

I bought the silk from Studio Fabrics here in Sydney  and I have included the link because this shop is a ‘must visit’. I  hadn’t actually realised it was there but I’m so glad I found it because it is just beautiful. The fabrics were to die for and displayed so………..well, luxuriously. It was an  indulgent way to spend the lunch hour….spend being the operative word!

But the most impressive thing about this shop was the service. Now, I went in looking for ‘navy’ that was almost black. That was my mandate. It had to be dark dark navy or if I couldn’t get that, charcoal. But when I showed the girls in the shop a picture of the dress, and told them my daughter’s age, they insisted that I go for a lighter shade of navy….this is what they’re doing in Europe they said.  Well, I’m a ‘heart’ person. I never go with my head. I always know exactly what I want. So I had my doubts. I wanted dark navy. But the girls were emphatic. No, they said. Dark navy is so yesterday for a young person. It’s been done to death by mothers of the bride. Hmm. What to do. I always trust myself. But this wasn’t actually for me. So I did something very unusual. I trusted them.

And they were right!

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IMG_9835.jpgThe most challenging part of this dress was cutting it out.It was impossible to stabilise the silk sufficiently to cut around the cardboard pattern. A rotary cutter would have done the trick but alas…….no cutting board big enough. In the end I outlined the pattern in chalk and then cut it out….a much better idea.

IMG_1194.jpgBut even drawing in chalk on the silk was challenging….it slipped all over the place and I did wonder how well I was actually following the grain.

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But overall we were pleased with it. I’ve made the dress before but for this version, i replaced the spaghetti straps with a very fine satin covered cording. I used 8 meters in all so it could be wrapped around the waist and under the bust, to stabilise and embellish the dress. I made loops on the sides and waist through which the cording passed.IMG_9799.jpg

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The ball was thoroughly enjoyable, I am told and the dress worked a treat!

The black Ponte dress – there’s a story

 

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Fundamentally I’m pleased with this dress…sort of. But I have a few gripes-  mainly with the fabric. But there’s a story…….  starting with the pattern.

IMG_1049You see, this pattern promises the world but doesn’t really deliver. It did eventually but by a very backdoor route.  I’ve  made this dress before (long sleeved version) in a very light rayon and although it looked good, I was never really happy with the fit…..around the shoulder/sleeve region. There was something not right about it but I couldn’t work out what (that always happens to me). But because the pattern on the fabric was so bold, it looked ok and the sleeve/shoulder region wasn’t a focus.

Anyway, I wanted a little black dress (LBD). I’ve always wanted one. So this time, I made the long sleeved version in a black Ponte and was unrelenting in my efforts to get the fit right so I’d look like the model in the picture. I  unpicked and re did and unpicked again and was eventually pretty happy with the look.

Well, except for the sleeves. But overall, if I squinted, I could kid myself this was the quintessential  LBD Id been pining for……..until I caught a glimpse of  myself  in a bus window.  I reminded myself of someone from my past. Reality hit hard. This was no LBD

 

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But I didn’t give up. I wore it 3 more times with different accessories each time. Still no go. Time to bin…..not a feel good dress.

But before I threw it out, I cut the sleeves off. And miraculously, the dress was transformed! A whole different ball game.IMG_1139

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I loved it because it’s comfortable, easy wear and perfect  for work. I could grab it from the wardrobe in the morning when its still dark and make it work. But here’s the rub (no pun intended). The Ponte has rubbed and pilled  badly. I am furious ….mostly with myself for not buying better quality fabric. I bought this fabric from Spotlight and I really thought it would be ok. But its not. After all that work, the dress just looks shabby.

At least I have a template. That’s some consolation because the dress is nigh unwearable. Now I’ll go and buy some decent Ponte. Interestingly, I buy a lot of linen from Spotlight and I have nothing but praise for it. But this Ponte is very poor quality.

Onwards and upwards…….another lesson learned in my ‘sewing’ life. Have  a good weekend.

StyleArc Hedy dress and Estelle Ponte jacket

IMG_1040.jpgI love Ponte. But I have to say my hands felt a little worse for wear after making the Estelle jacket and then a black ponte dress (not here…to follow). So I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes up beautifully, sews beautifully and  presses well because it has so much body …..which also makes it quite heavy …which is tricky for someone who is prone to aching hands.

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But I am absolutely thrilled with my Ponte jacket. I really wanted a cream waterfall jacket….even though I thought it was probably a ridiculous colour for a jacket….very impractical……and it is. But I love it! It is a Winter White Ponte that I purchased from the Remnant Warehouse. Mind you, there’s not a whole lot of ‘winter’ left in the white because before I’d finished making the jacket I smudged a bit of lipstick on the front. Stupidly (I can’t believe I actually did this) I Napisan- ed the front pieces and low and behold, when the jacket was completed I had a radiant white front and Winter white (cream) back and sleeves!!!!! So I had to Napisan the whole thing……now its all a bit too radiant.

But I still love it. It’s warm and comfortable and was so quick and easy to make. And it gives me a lift….and I wash it in the machine and put it in the dryer if I have to ……and it’s my rule breaker…….my mother would never have agreed to a white jacket for winter!

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This is my cream StyleArcHedy dress that I wear under the Estelle Ponte jacket. This is made from  an interlock that I bought from Remnant Warehouse. This dress was super easy to make and is very easy to wear.

IMG_1006.jpgI love that it has pockets.

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This dress is full of possibilities for a ton of different fabrics. I suspect this pattern will become a favourite.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Kissing daylight saving goodbye in Sydney

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IMG_0613.jpgIMG_0610.jpgThis is Clarke’s Park in Sydney- host to a final ‘evening walk ‘ before daylight saving ends tonight. Will I miss daylight saving? Well probably not as much as most and I will certainly not miss Summer. It has been an extremely humid few months and I welcome the Autumn which is just beautiful. That said, I do get a kick out of watching Frankie run through the park of an evening and I will miss that.

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Today has been a very busy day, starting with the flower markets at Flemington. I love the flower markets- they are good for the soul…the flowers are magnificent and there is something earthy and primal about the transacting. I mean, you use  real money (as distinct from EFTPOS) and the stall holders put the takings into the pockets of their aprons. You can actually hear the coins jingle! Remember that sound? And there’s hustle and bustle and excitement and trolleys overflowing with flowers. It’s a happy place. Flowers usually mean  good times- like weddings and parties.

Anyway, I naturally contributed to the jingle. Don’t be fooled. This is only the tip of the iceberg! IMG_0619.jpgIMG_0623.jpg

After the flower markets I headed off to another market that I read about on Etsy…… The Maker and Shakers Market at Marrickville www.themakersandshakersmarket.com.au

This was a seriously mind boggling experience! The quality of the craft at this stall was something out of the box. I am beginning to think I have been away from the market scene for too long because the calibre of these stalls was something else. Of note  was a fellow Etsian who deserves this accolade (even though she is a competitor !!) because her cushions were beautiful i.e. Little Crow Design  – littlecrowdesign.com.au.

A little bit further on I saw a lovely girl feverishly knitting, beside her stall, which was packed to the rafters with the most fabulous hand knitted pieces. As I was thinking to myself  now there is one seriously hard worker…. typical of a crafter, she looked up and low and behold if I didn’t know her!!!! Kitty Choy and I worked together a few years back and it is so funny because we would have had so much in common had we ever discussed our shared love of handmade. But it never came up in conversation. Kitty’s business is called  Marikit and she too has an Etsy shop . She can be contacted on marikit_kitty@hotmail.com or  here 

After all of that, I took my daughter to Spotlight to buy some fabric paint. She is doing some very creative work on a white T shirt and I am full of encouragement.  I would love my children to enjoy a love of craft like I do. I mean, surely countless trips to Spotlight when they were babies in prams must have rubbed off on them? Maybe it had the opposite effect. My other daughter would positively bellow from the pram every time the lift door opened at Spotlight. I began to think she hated the smell of fabric, or was allergic to it! What an affliction!

And now it’s the end of the day and the best is still to come! The Emery dress!!!!!

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You cannot begin to imagine how excited I am about starting this dress. I have waited 2 weeks for the pattern to arrive from the States. Just in case you haven’t heard of it, have a look at it here and to see images of the Emery dress made many times around the globe, google the Emery dress. Its lovely and definitely worth a look.

IMG_0712.jpgThis is my fabric.

Well it’s now 11.30 and normally it would be too late to sew but tonight we get an extra hour’s sleep and……….IMG_0627.jpgI deserve it!!!!!!!!!

 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

 

Jane