last week of term

First term of 2014 is over, and the school holidays are here.  The last week of term flew past, but I took some photos along the way.  So this is a snippet of our week (mostly from a sewing/crafty perspective, of course).

last week of term one

  • Patterns arrived from the last Vogue/Butterick/McCalls sale.  One is already cut out to be sewn this weekend, and another has been matched up to fabric.
  • Personal delivery of The Better Bag Maker, by Nicole Mallalieu, soon to be available online and possibly in Spotlight stores.  I took part in pattern testing (and have a couple of excellent bags to show for it that I can finally reveal on the blog soon) and I think that it really is your go-to book for all things bag-making related.
  • Silk fabrics from the Collette Dinnigan end of bolt clearance currently running at Rathdowne Fabrics.  The top two will be scarves; the bottom one will become a dress.
  • Over the past couple of days the weather has turned cooler and autumn has really settled in.  Time to make new stretchy pants for winter!
  • And with winter coming up, time for some new boots (everything at the Diana Ferrari outlet is currently half price).  I live in boots over winter, and was excited when I spotted some coloured ones!
  • Poor little Stella.  She’s sick.  The virus that has been going around and that Clare and I had last week has caught up with Stella.  She’s still on the couch with a vomit container.
  • I whipped up a few tops for Clare to take away on camp with her.  One includes this raglan tee .  It’s a departure from her usual style, but fortunately she seems to really like it!
  • Clare has been busy with the loom/rainbow/whatever they are called bands.  YouTube has been an excellent source of tutorials for a variety of bracelet designs.  You have to love a craze that is this creative, time-consuming and relatively cheap!
  • A quick dress for Stella, from fabric that she chose in a design that she chose.  And now says that she doesn’t like.


talented tween

When I picked Clare up from after school care on Wednesday she proudly showed me the drawing she had just completed.

Clare's drawing

I reckon that it’s absolutely fantastic! In metallic sharpies, about 20 cm square. I absolutely love it. Some friends suggested that I upload it to Spoonflower and order some fabric. Wouldn’t that be great – a garment made for Clare from fabric that she has designed?

school’s back

School is back.  Stella is in grade one and Clare is in grade six – her last year of primary school.  How could that have possibly happened?  So while the kids were at school today, I took the opportunity to head into the city.  After late breakfast with some other school mums, of course.  Making the most of that precious six hours!

tourist in my city - January 2014

Absolutely the perfect day for visiting some fabric shops, the Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion exhibition at NGV, and the All That Glitters exhibition at The Arts Centre. And the train and tram still got me back to school in time for pick up! It was truly restorative for my soul.  I really do love my city.

I am still not certain what the digitally printed polyester crepe from my last post will become – and I love the variety of suggestions that you have made!  There was some very impressive pattern knowledge exhibited in your responses – and interestingly, most of them are patterns that are already in my stash!  I am currently leaning towards a Victory Satsuki top, but I have been known to change my mind.  In the meantime I have some beautiful striped viscose knit on the cutting table waiting to become a draped t-dress, two lengths of linen competing to become Vogue 8552 (before Saturday), and modal knit waiting to become a Cherish dress for my mum…..and I am quite a few blog posts behind on garments that I made during the school holidays.  Ah well!

top 5 reflections, inspirations and goals

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

I thoroughly suspect that this might be the last “top 5″ post to hit the blogosphere – after all, it is the 10th of January!  I thought that I’d roll reflections, inspirations and goals into one, and be back again later with some plans that are already under way.


I really love sewing,  Really, really love sewing.  I love collecting fabric, trims, patterns, sewing tools, notions and sewing information and then putting them into practice.  My “to-sew” list is always much, much longer than could ever be completed – and I am okay with that.  Everyone has a hobby, don’t they?  Well, sewing is mine, and the fact that it keep me and my children clothed is a bonus.  I do love sewing.

A garment doesn’t work unless you get the right fabric for the pattern.  Sounds obvious really, but getting the perfect combination can sometimes be elusive!

It doesn’t matter how cute a pattern looks on someone else or how much you like the style lines or how much it might suit your body shape.  The big question is – will you wear it?  Will it produce a garment that will actually fit in with your lifestyle?  A garment that you will feel good in?  That will go to the places that you like to go?  That will be comfortable?  Because if it isn’t, the finished garment will possibly only get as far as blog photos, and you’ll never wear it.

When you are a sewist who blogs, it is VERY easy to get sucked into the vortex of sewalongs, the next new pattern, the latest thing that others are making.  For me, this has resulted in the purchase of patterns that I realise I will NEVER actually wear – see the above paragraph.  I can on-sell them or use them to make garments for someone else, but luckily over the past year I have become much better and not getting pulled in by the attraction of “the latest thing”.  Grainline Archer shirt, I’m looking at you!  It’s a great example of this and the point above.  A gorgeous shirt, well drafted, that looks great on many people.  And many would say that everyone needs a button up shirt in their wardrobe.  Um, I’m not part of that everyone.  I just don’t wear them.  All the button up shirts that I have made/bought over the years left my wardrobe a long, long time ago.  Stick to what you know works for you.

That said, when you sew, you can also experiment!  Try out some different styles, colours and patterns.  Try the same pattern in different lengths, or with different details.  And if it doesn’t work out?  Well, it’s not only about the product – it’s definitely about the process as well.  And the time that you have spent on it isn’t a waste – it’s time spent on your hobby, learning new things and enjoying yourself.

I haven’t crocheted as much this year.  I was getting quite a lot of pain in my right neck/arm/shoulder, and have found that slowing down the amount of crochet I was doing has helped it.  But it’s still happening, but more in the background.

Overall I have been very happy with what I’ve made during 2013.  It has pretty much coped with my weight gain, and I’ve done a number of wardrobe culls to make space for new garments.  I am quite happy with what is in there at the moment.  However, that’s not going to stop me from sewing!


I have been lucky enough to get to know a wonderful group of local sewists in real life.  I don’t know what I’d do without them!  So I want to say out loud and proud that you, my Sewjourning friends, are absolutely inspirational to me.  Yes, that is you Karen, Tanya, Megan, Nikki, Jodie, Rachel, Kathryn, Annie,Wendy, Leith, Rachel and Anna.  I love your passion for what you make and your advice, your creativity and your general wonderfulness.


I should SLOW DOWN a little with my sewing.  Take the time to hand-sew down bias neckline binding rather than stitch in the ditch (which I did do last night).  Take the time to do the stay-stitching – when I deem that it could be helpful.  Take the time to try on the garment during the construction process, rather than at the end of it.  I’m not a slap-dash sewist, and will happily unpick things and re-do them in order to get them right, but sometimes things would work out better and the whole process go more smoothly if I slowed down.  Maybe 2014 will be the year of sewing a little more slowly.

Watch those Craftsy classes!  I have realised that this will be easier if I take the old work lap-top up to my sewing room and I watch them in there rather than on the general household computer (located in the middle of the house) that the whole family uses.

Mostly say no.  No to pattern testing, no to sewalongs, no to other blog related commitments.  Except for those that I have thought VERY carefully about, that I’m inspired by and feel passionate about, and would fit into my schedule and not compromise other commitments or my family time.

To sew more mindfully, mostly from stash.  So many people are saying that they are not going to buy any more fabric, patterns, etc.  I’m not going to say that – it would just be setting myself up for failure, and who needs to do that?  But I will shop the stash before I shop elsewhere.  Except for the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 per metre table.  That is always exempt from any self-imposed fabric shopping bans.

Actually sew some of those items that I have been thinking about and collecting supplies for.  I have patterns, fabric and notions ready to go so there are no reasons not to make a start.  Undies, bras, bathers for me.  And a winter coat!

But that’s it.  My main sewing and blogging goals are to continue to do what I have been doing!  I really enjoy the sewing blogging community, and want to also say a massive thank you to the people who take the time to comment on my blog and to contact me.  I have learned a great deal from all of you, and your support keeps me going at my main hobby too.  Reading blogs and comments on my mobile phone means that it is often difficult for me to comment on other blogs or to respond to comments on mine, and I think that is the case for many people, but I know that we are all there as a group, cheering one another on!

Roll on another wonderful sewing year!


It was only four nights away, but it felt like much longer – in a good way!  We stayed at Jungle Beach Caravan Park, which is between Marlo and Cape Conran on the East Gippsland coast.  It is a simple caravan park and we had an unpowered tent site right at the back of the park amongst the bracken, complete with a contained open fireplace.  Wonderful.  It was also wonderful that the friends we were away with had a powered site much closer to the amenities, playground, pool, and trampoline.  Between us it was the best of both worlds!  There was plenty of wind, sun, sand, flies, rocks, waves, water, sandcastles, boats and boards, toasted marshmallows, trampolining, swimming, playing story games, listening to audio CDs in the car, treats, sunscreen, seaweed, dust, trees, kookaburras, lizards, popcorn, and overall – FUN!

marlo/cape conran january 2014

Now that we’re back I’m getting more prepared for the year ahead, but luckily I’m able to continue relaxing at the same time.  My poor husband is back at work already, earning the dollars.  I’ll be keeping the kids entertained and looking after the home front for the next four weeks before school returns on the 29th January.  And knowing me I will also make time to sew, as well as making time to get some of those “it can wait until the holidays” chores done.  I’m looking forward to 2014 – we have some fun plans ahead (that include a mid-year trip to Thailand)!  And I adore the age that the girls are at.  Primary school aged children are absolutely divine.

top 5 hits of 2013 (for my daughters)

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

How could I possibly do a top 5 hits without focusing specifically on the garments that I have made my daughters during 2013?  I usually like everything that I make for them, which is fortunate both for them and for me. As a general rule, children are much easier to fit than adults. Less curves to worry about! The girls get involved with decisions about what I make for them, generally choosing both the pattern and the fabric, albeit with some guidance. And luckily for me they really do like to wear the clothes that I make, Clare in particular. I found it as difficult to narrow down a top five for the girls as I did to narrow it down for me! But here goes, in no particular order. Firstly for Clare:

1. Oliver + S Seashore Sundress.

Oliver + s Seashore Sundress, size 8

2. Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress.

Oliver + S Roller-skate Dress, size 8 for Clare

3. Oliver + S Book Report Dress.

Oliver + S Book Report Dress for Clare - size 8

4. Modkid Melanie dress with Go-To Leggings.

Modkid Melanie dress with Go To Leggings

5. The Anne of Green Gables dress. My absolute favourite make for Clare this year!

Anne of Green Gables

And for Stella:

1. Oliver + S Bubble Dress.

Oliver + S Bubble Dress

2. Oliver + S Book Report Dress.

Oliver + S Book Report Dress for Stella - size 5

3. You Sew Girl! All Season’s Coat.

2013-08-03 11.16.43

4. Oliver + S Croquet Dress.

Oliver + S Croquet Dress size 6 for Stella

5. Trapezist costume! My favourite (and possibly most-worn) make for Stella during 2013.

Stella the "trapezist"

Of course, the girls’ Ottobre, Go-To and Crafty Mamas tops and dresses have worn a lot during the year as well. There wasn’t really anything for the girls that was a miss, thank goodness! I am pleased that I overcame my distaste for making costumes, because both my daughters were very happy with the ones that I did make. The obvious commonality between the hit makes for the girls was Oliver + S. Reliably wonderful. And let’s not forget those recently made Feliz dresses. I certainly can’t!

Feliz dresses for Christmas Day

Happy 2014 everyone!

top 5 hits of 2013 (for me)

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

Okay, my top 5 hits!  This is actually quite difficult for me.  There are so many considerations that contribute to something becoming a hit – and they are not always evident at the time the garment is made.  As with the misses, I’m going to bend the rules a little and there may be more than five of these.

1. StyleARC pants.

StyleARC pants 2013

The Tori crop pant in stretch woven. The Linda pant, a brilliant work pant also in stretch woven. The Elle pant sewn in ponte (instead of the recommended stretch woven) and the April pant, also sewn in ponte, were my go-to casual winter pant. The Lola pant in woven rayon is quickly becoming my summer go-to casual pant.  Oh, how I love my StyleARC pants.

2. New Look 6071.

New Look 6071

New Look 6071

I always feel good in this dress. It’s great layered with leggings, camisoles and cardigans, or as is. This pattern definitely has more life in it for me.

3. Vogue 8805.

Vogue 8805

Vogue 8805

Vogue 8805 dress

What’s not to like about this pattern? Comfortable, flattering, stylish, and lots of opportunity for creativity in fabric choices. Three outings isn’t enough. And yes, thanks for the suggestion of making it into a top!

4. Sewcietea (Vogue 1027) and Frocktails (Vogue 1256) dresses.

Vogue 1027

Vogue 1256

I am so happy with both of these dresses! I feel that they flatter and are a little bit special – especially my rather daring Vogue 1256! I have worn both of these dresses more than once. I feel great in both of them.

5. Grainline Moss Mini.

Grainline Moss Mini

There is a reason why so many people love this pattern. It’s such a great style and the seaming allows for easy adjustment to suit a number of shapes. It works for me in winter and in summer – actually, I’m wearing it as I type! I have another cut out, and there will be more.

And that’s five, but of course there are honourable mentions. Actually, I like most of the things that I made for myself this year!

The Grainline Hemlock tee has been an excellent slouchy tee. Perfect match of fit, fabric and style!

Grainline Hemlock slouchy tee

But there are many others that I’ve made more than once and wear a lot. StyleARC Marie jackets, Leisl + Co Weekend Getaway tops, StyleARC Amy tops, Vogue 8815 tops, Vogue 8817 tops, and my Crafty Mamas Lovely Layers.

Lovely Layers top

Wow, I’m finding this difficult! Because I also love my Tessuti Eva dresses, and Lekala 5748, and my sleeveless Tessuti Lily dress.

Tessuti and one Lekala

Okay, okay, I’ll stop now. Because when I go back through my photos from the last year, there is a lot that I like! Most of my wardrobe is me-made, which satisfies me greatly.  And I’ve found it interesting to watch the evolution of my haircut and colour this year as well!

And the more perceptive of you would have realised by now that my blog title says that these are the top 5 hits of 2013 – for me!  I still have one more post to do…

bumper thumper

First things first – thanks to all of you for your lovely Christmas wishes and for the comments on the girls’ dresses!  I really do appreciate them.  The girls are wearing their Feliz dresses again today,  so they clearly were a bit of a hit!

Another Christmas Day hit was the presents that the girls received from their grandparents.  As well as the slip’n’slide, they received “body bumper thumpers”.

fun with body bumper thumpers

And clearly, the adults had just as much fun with them as the kids did.

fun with body bumper thumpers


And now I’m going to see if I can get my remaining blog posts for 2013 written so that what was made in 2013 actually gets blogged in 2013. Because there is plenty cut out to be sewn up during the 2014 summer holidays!

a little more link love

I have 18 items on my “blog this” list.  Oh my.  How many days are left between now and the new year?  I have noticed that many blogs have gone quiet over the past few weeks, so clearly many of us are in the same situation.  So here is a little bit of reading for you.

Already Pretty has posted two fantastic discussions about offering constructive criticism, both in the context of criticism in general and in the context of criticising style.  I think that there is a huge amount of food for thought in these two posts and the subsequent discussion.

Sarai of Collette Patterns posted about Frida Kahlo in the context of Fashion, Identity and Disability.  Lots to think about here too.

A new to me blog Well Suited posts pattern puzzles – a fascinating exploration of pattern drafting, shape and design.  Combined with a whole lot of styles that I would like to sew!

Donna has recently started up Sew Independent.  As she says, Sew Independent is a resource that focusses on independent fashion designers, their sewing patterns and the online sewing community.  Although it is in its early days, I can already tell that this website and blog is going to be the one-stop resource for information about independent patterns.  Donna is doing the hard work of keeping track of what the independent designers are up to, and aggregates that information into one place.  A brilliant idea that will definitely save me some time!

I am planning on taking part in the Stitcher’s Guild 2014 SWAP.  These are the rules in summary:

No purchase neccesary anywhere; this contest is open to anyone with a needle and thread, regardless of budget or availability of items.  Just jump in and join the fun.

We’ll be following Blue Mooney’s “Algebra SWAP” formula:

3 “3 packs” + 2 “wild cards” = 11 garments.

Each three pack will be:

2 tops + 1 bottom
1 top + 1 bottom + 1 outer layer
1 dress + 1 top + 1 bottom

The “wild card” options can be just about anything you like, but they must be “garments” not accessories (hats, bags, blankets, etc.)

A “top” will be any shirt or blouse worn on the upper half; a “bottom” will be any garment worn on the lower half, and it shouldn’t be obscene to wear either without another layer.
A “dress” will be any garment that covers both upper and lower halves, and again, it shouldn’t be obscene to wear it without an additional layer.
An “outer layer” will any jacket or sweater that is intended to be a second layer, over a top or a dress. If it can also be worn alone, that is fine.
A “bib” garment will considered a bottom, unless it can be worn alone without a top under or over it.

One garment may be previously sewn; another may be purchased. 
If you have an item you’re working on now, you may include it, OR you may stitch up one item from scratch before the official sewing date of December 26.

There’s no requirement that every garment match or every top match every bottom.  However, all the individual pieces must form a cohesive collection -they should all look like they belong together in the closet.

“Sewing” is a blanket term; you may sew, knit, crochet, weave…whatever works.  If you can make 11 garments with a 3D printer, that’s fine.

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2014.  Muslins, pattern fitting and cutting may be started whenever you are ready.

Although this is a competition that you can enter, there is no compulsion.  They are great guidelines, no matter what.  I may or may not get it done according to the finish date.  The main thing is that it will help me to plan an organised, coherent wardrobe!  So far I am thinking a “from stash” SWAP, and have started a Pinterest board here with patterns that I already own and might use.

Last day of work for me today until the beginning of February – hooray!  Maybe I’ll be able to do some more SWAP planning.