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.

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Sandra Betzina and Deepak Chopra on the train

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What do Deepak Chopra and Sandra Betzina have in common? A lot more than you’d think.

I realised this on the train.

You see, I’m trying to wean myself off technology. Not because I hate it. I don’t. I love it. But I hate that I love it because I think it steals me away from life. Sure. It connects me to the world. And I love that. I am inspired and stimulated. But too much stimulation is exhausting and sometimes I feel like I am living my life on speed.

So I’ve decided to ration my  phone time. The deal is, I can go for broke while I’m waiting for the bus, but it’s all over red rover once the bus arrives. I have promised myself that for  the whole of the bus and train trip, I will read………from something that is written on paper. ZERO PHONE for the whole trip!  Even if I don’t get a seat, I cannot use my phone……..(not even as a torch  should the lights go out in the tunnel)

And I feel  like a new woman! I really do! 

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I’ve been reading Threads- the magazine – that’s my ‘something written on paper’. I am lucky enough to have scored a whole set of mags that span several years and I am just loving them.

Back to Deepak and Sandra.

On day 1 of the weaning myself off technology challenge, I got to the bus stop, pulled out my phone (hoping the bus would be late) and lo and behold if there wasn’t a Deepak Chopra article staring me in the face. What a stroke of luck!  And  you wouldn’t believe it,  the article was How to escape inner turmoil- you can read it here . Perfect timing

The general gist of the article is that mental calm and balance is our essential state and that the agitated mind naturally seeks to return to the calm state. We just have to help it along and  according to Chopra, one way to do this is to,

Limit your exposure to the 24-7 news cycle on TV and the Internet. There is no need to keep fueling the stress response.

 

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Right.

So I’m on to something.

Good bye phone.

That simple.

Bring on the bus, the train and the  Threads magazine.

And then I read it! By Sandra Betzina and so beautifully said…………

Stop rushing, enjoy the process, use sewing for relaxation, rather than something you have to do.

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And I was completely taken aback. This really resonated with me. Here I was sitting on the train, exhausted, trying to relax but struggling to even hold the magazine because my hands were so sore from the previous week’s sew-athon! And it struck me that I do not take the time to enjoy the process. I rush from garment to garment, multi tasking between machining, fitting, mending, darning, cutting out, hand sewing  etc etc etc etc etc…………the list is endless. And most of the time I’m doing it with a piece of technology at the ready so I can mentally start on the next project! It makes me tired just thinking about it. I totally over commit and sewing has become a chore.

To be fair, it has been an unusually  big sewing week . They’re not all like that. But I think there is a lot to be said for practising mindfulness while sewing and I am going to give it a shot. And I’m excited by the prospect of slowing it all down, taking more care and banishing deadlines.  I am going to treat sewing with more respect and focus on each step in the process as it unfolds. I will endeavour to enjoy the experience as much as the garment…..

………..after I’ve finished the 2 dresses, 3 jackets and 2 tops that I am making to take away with me in a couple of  weeks!!

Happy Mother’s Day to me…….fool that I am!

 

Sunday is Mother’s Day. And so it starts.

True to form, my teenage daughter (who now lives away from home), texted me to ask me if there was anything in the Priceline catalogue (fragrances 60% off) that took my fancy. No mention of Mother’s Day. But she knew that I knew what she meant. So I came clean and gave her my usual spiel which is something along the lines of …….Look love,  Mothers Day is just a marketing ploy.  I really don’t want you to spend your money. The best present you could give me would be a call on Sunday.  I meant it.

Now had she been younger, I would have said …I’d love you to make me something. But at 19 she has neither the time nor the inclination nor the belief  that I would actually prefer something handmade. None of my children believe that. As little ones they’d  presents but they soon grew out of that phase and wanted to ‘buy’ rather than make. As adults/teenagers, nothing’s changed. It’s funny. I never believed my mother either. But I’ll bet there’s not one mother out there who wouldn’t agree with me. Those little cards and presents made out of all sorts of bits and pieces were priceless. And a handmade present from a teenager would be even better!

Anyway, back to my idiocy.

Feeling ironed out at the mere thought of a Mother’s Day ‘do’, I contacted my sisters in law to see if they thought a picnic might be a good idea …you know,  give us mothers a breather from ‘enjoying’ another Mother’s Day in the kitchen, slaving away for our Mother’s Day function so we can truly ‘celebrate ‘ being a mother.

I got one response……………And I suppose the picnic fairies will prepare the picnic? Hmmm. Good point. Lose, lose.

Back to the Mother’s Day ‘present’,  issue.

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Now I absolutely mean it when I say I don’t want the kids spending money on me. I do. It really upsets me. They can’t afford to.

But that’s not to say that I don’t encourage them to think about a present……or gesture.  That’s part of responsible parenting and I don’t care how old they are. Thoughtfulness and generosity? …whole different story.  So,  when ‘What would you like for Mother’s Day, Mum?’ came up again today, I had no compunction saying, “Well what I’d really love is for someone to clean the house. That would be the best present I could receive’. And I DEFINITELY meant that.

Blank stare. I don’t understand what you’re saying. Not going to happen.

Hmmm. All looking a bit tricky really.  Lots to do and no one too keen on doing it.

 

Oh well, never mind…….not to worry. This was going to be a great Mother’s Day…..for all of us (meaning my 4 sisters -in – law and me)…just going to take a bit of creative thinking. And then…….lightbulb

That’s it!!!! I’ve got it! Why did it take so long for the penny to drop? I mean it was simple really…. just had to apply the formula! i.e.

Not much time + plenty to do  + would love a relaxed Mother’s Day = ME DO MORE AND WORK HARDER  ……………problem solved!  

AND WITH ADDED BONUSES i.e.

  1. I got all my exercise in one place! Clocked up 11,000 plus steps on the Fitbit without having to even see the light of day!
  2. Managed to amuse myself for at least 5 hours!
  3. Didn’t cost a cent!
  4. Sniffed plenty of bleach, and got to work on ‘ruining my hands’
  5. Didn’t have to go near that wretched sewing machine! Man, this was building up to a big weekend!!!

I took some snaps to show you.

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IMG_0848.jpgAnd there you have it! My beautifully cleaned house, scrubbed, waxed and polished by me for me for my Mother’s Day so that my sisters- in -law and me  (also mothers) can enjoy our Mother’s Day. What’s not to get?

On a serious  and more concerning note, I am under no illusion.   This speaks volumes about me! Yes. I am the nut job here. I completely get that. And do you know why I get it?  Well, after I’d worn myself into a frazzle, having spent many hours slaving, I looked at my clean house and felt……..wait for it…….I am embarrassed…….….cringe……would you believe empowered? Isn’t that sad? Empowered by having a clean house? I actually heard myself say the word empowerment in my head (maybe it was the bleach talking????), when I looked at the shiny floor  and it struck me that this was such an odd thing to feel. Sort of ‘funny’ too. Why empowered? Perhaps because it frees me up to do other things that I enjoy ….with less bleach? Not sure. But I will own the sentiment  …in all its political incorrectness and as embarrassing as it is.  I get an adrenaline rush from a clean house! There!

Anyway dear other Mothers, I hope I have saved you from ’empowering’ yourselves this Mother’s Day.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOTHERS and now please excuse me……I am off to wrap my Mother’s Day Present!!!! It will save the kids having to do it!

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Linen

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When I first saw this fabric at Spotlight, I was betwixt and between about the colour. There was something about it that reminded me of old men’s trousers that are  out of date- not sure where that comes from. But as it was 30% off  (and 100% linen) I decided to get it anyway.  Then, when I got it to the counter the sales assistants raved over the colour  (even though there was heaps left on the shelf…..good sales people!). And I fell into the trap and bought a whole lot more, of course. Anyway, I looked at it at every red light on the way home, and by the time I got there, I’d decided I loved it. But I had to lose the ‘old men’s trousers’ image. I moved to peanut butter……..which I love. Far more appropriate.

 

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I have grown to absolutely love this dress. The linen is beautifully soft and the dress  is so comfortable to wear.  I have actually lived in it over the last couple of weeks.

I used the Muumuu pattern again but cut the skirt a little narrower this time…..less bulk over the bust. I also made the shoulders wider and the neck, less ‘boat’ which made the dress more bra friendly overall.

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The pockets- Now this is an easy pattern, make no mistake. But seriously, lining up those pockets was no mean feat. Button holes aside (which I could have omitted…the dress fits over my head), I spent more time getting those pockets level with each other than I spent on the rest of the dress! Next time I’ll have one only! On the pockets score, my friend Wendy taught me a very simple technique that I suspect I am going to thrash.

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See the trim? I cut a strip of linen 2.5 inches wide, on the bias, and put it through the washing machine. It comes out frayed but apparently will not fray any further because of the bias cut. I just love it. I have seen that effect many times and always loved it but didn’t know how to do it.

The hem- This is the ‘Jane‘ technique…(feel free to copy!!). I turned the hem to the right side to measure it and decided to leave it that way. I liked it and so have sewn a couple of rows of stitching to prevent it fraying too much. I think it’s a good fit with Wendy’s pocket trim.

The buttonholes- mercy- not going there. I am unbelievably abysmal at them. Imagine my heart break when the dress went over my head without undoing them! But the buttons are lovely- little wooden ones.

I am thrilled with this dress and would recommend this pattern….even though the instructions for the bodice are very odd….I didn’t get them at all…must be a 60s technique .IMG_0411IMG_0396

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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Tessuti Navy & Lime Linen Ola

IMG_0235DSC00314This is the Ola modified to a short sleeved top. The fact that there is less fabric in my modified Ola is a plus for me. I absolutely love the Tessuti patterns but I think my body shape is such that I need a bit more flesh showing…….lest I should look completely eaten alive  by the garment! Short sleeves are also cooler for me.

I don’t think I modified the pattern in a technically  kosher fashion…I just turned up the pattern sleeves…fairly inaccurately. But it turned out ok just the same.

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Now, the colours. I read in someone’s blog once that the natural shades are more attractive but that colours are more fun to sew with. I couldn’t agree more! I love experimenting with colour…all colours and mixing and matching  different shades is so much fun. I don’t know that the naturals are necessarily more attractive all the time…..that’s a fairly big generalisation. But I would have to agree that somehow, where clothes are concerned, I have more success with the understated tones even though I don’t think they necessarily suit me. And I also sell far more cushions in muted or natural tones than I do in the beautiful bold shades. And that’s the beauty of quilting and other crafts…..you can do whatever  you like with colours. The sky’s the limit.

So back to the top. Tessuti has the most unbelievably beautiful selection of linens. The colours are exquisite and I have been eyeing off this lime for weeks. I would have loved a dress in it but thought I might look like I’d been swallowed by a caterpillar so I resisted the urge. In this combination you’ll see I have carefully positioned the lime away from the face. Navy and white are my colours but the lime is a bit harsh….particularly this shade.

IMG_0231Now you’ve got to hand it to Tessuti for this method of sewing on binding. The handmade binding is sewn right side facing the wrong side of the neckline. After the excess fabric has been trimmed, the binding is turned to the right side of the neckline and stitched in place. A second row of stitching on the neck edge of the binding, completes the neck edge. It gives a beautiful finish.

Speaking of binding, I bought this little gizmo on the weekend. It’s  a binding maker.

IMG_0236.JPGI’m not exactly sure how it’s supposed to work but if the rave reviews from the sales assistant are anything to go by I expect it do everything besides wear the outfit! I hope it’s as good as it’s  cracked up to be…….I hate making bias binding but I love the look of it. I will keep you posted.

 

Have a good week!!!!

The best skirt pattern ever

This unassuming pattern that has been buried away in my pattern box forever has probably produced the best fitting skirt I have ever made. And it was so effortless!

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I honestly wouldn’t have credited this pattern with turning out such a good shape. And I’ve not had much success with New Look. But this skirt is a huge success.

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I think the fabric may have had a lot to do with it. It is a beautiful stretch sateen from Tessuti……not too much spandex and quite a heavy weight which I think contributed to the good fit. But what I like most about this pattern is that it is a straight skirt that is roomy at the same time. Between the  pattern and the fabric it’s beautifully comfortable.

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The skirt is a bit shorter than I am normally comfortable with but in this fabric, and because it is not too skimpy, I  think it works quite well.

Absolutely a great pattern (that is probably out of stock unfortunately).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Good old muslin!

I love muslin! I wish I still needed it for baby wraps because when I had babies you couldn’t  buy printed muslin. For memory, all you could get was pink and blue. And I just love what is around today.

I guess newborns are swaddled in the Northern Hemisphere too are they? They are here. But you see it’s just so humid in Summer in Australia that the babies need to be wrapped in fabric that breathes or they will over heat.

I too overheat  when swaddled!!!! Hence my love of muslin.

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This pattern is an oldie but a goodie. I’ve made it before, below, also in a muslin and I have lived in it

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But this time I opted for ‘no elastic’ in the sleeves. And I won’t make a skirt to match.

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The other variation is in the lining. This time I lined it in muslin. Overall I am really pleased with this top because it’s a cool, easy wear garment.

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My next thing……animals.

Although I am really happy for her I am sad to say that my daughter is off to the country this week to go to uni and it has been a week of farewells and partying. Because she is going to study veterinary science, the theme of the celebrations has been animals. Now I don’t want you to think that I think this is in any way clever or artistic but she did get a kick out of this cake.

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And….she loved these boxers.

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I am very proud of her. She is hard working and very positive and deserves every success. But I will miss her terribly.

On a brighter note and back to sewing, I am now truly  a self confessed vintage fashion convert! You may remember this dress I made a little while back……

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I absolutely loved this dress….and in fact I absolutely adore vintage fashion (40’s, 50’s & 60’s) but ‘fitting’ is not my forte and when I look at these patterns with the tiny little corseted waists I struggle to to make the mental extrapolation to make it wearable. I mean, they just don’t look like they fit real people.

Anyway, I wore this dress to work last week……..the whole 4 meters of it and I felt so good in it.  I loved the femininity of it. And in all modesty, I have never ever had so many compliments about a dress – any dress. I seriously have not. It got me to thinking that these beautiful vintage styles have virtues that go way beyond being figure flattering. They are simply beautiful styles. And that is enough.

Enjoy your week!