family · miscellaneous · musings

And just like that…

So, it’s 2017!  Just like that!

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(This blog post will feature random photos from the year).

I still have over 30 garments from 2016 that have not yet been blogged.  Gulp.  I have finally made it as far as getting photos for most of them and uploading them to Flickr, so maybe while we’re away I can get a few of them up here on the blog.  It would be nice to get that done before February.

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Did you notice that “away” sentence?  I think that mentioned a few times now – we’re heading off overseas for three weeks!  We depart on Thursday for Thailand, heading first to Bangkok for a couple of nights (if the planets align I might be able to catch up with Meg while we’re there), then taking an overnight train to Vientiane, Laos.  We have five nights there, then move to Luang Prabang (also Laos) for six nights, then fly back across to Chiang Mai, Thailand for another seven nights (I’m hoping to catch up with Gaye again while we’re there).  We are SO looking forward to it.  (And yes we do have a house/dog sitter staying while we are away so we are not telling potential burglers about an empty house – because it won’t be!)

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I do plan to blog about our holiday regularly while we’re away, depending on available time and wifi access, so those people who come here for the sewing, I’m letting you know in advance that for most of January this blog will primarily be about our family travels!

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Last time we visited Thailand the girls were 11 and 7 years old respectively.  This time Clare will be 14 (her birthday is on that overnight train) and Stella will be 9.  They are equally excited about our travels, and we’re fortunate that both of them travel very well.

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We all feel very much in need of this holiday.  My husband has been in his current job for over a year now, and this will be his first proper break.  There has been quite a bit of interstate travel involved for him over the past year, which he doesn’t really enjoy, and he’s looking forward to this trip very much.  I tend to do all the holiday organisation and planning, so he can sit back and do some reading and some exploring and just enjoy.

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Clare goes into Year Nine at school once we’re back.  She’s doing very well academically, has made a great group of friends with common interests and I thought that many of you would be interested to know that she won the Year 8 Design Technology (what many of us know as Textiles) award this year.  Stella will go into Grade Four, with teachers she’s had before and we know will bring out her best.  She’s at a small primary school of around 200 kids, and we all benefit from the close community that it provides.  She’s had a great year culminating in her first dance concert, where she really did show off her natural movement and expression.  And finally she really gets reading – hooray!

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I anticipate that the girls will be busy with their usual activities during 2017.  Camps with Girl Guides, music lessons, dance classes, school productions, copious amounts of time playing Sims or Minecraft.

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And me?  After we get back from holidays (there’s that wonderful word again) I go straight into starting a new job.  It was very sad to leave my current one, as I deeply value many of my colleagues, but the new job was an offer that I just couldn’t resist.  It’s three days per week (I was doing two days previously, but often more with other contract work or additional days) and I figure that it will take me quite a while to get used to it.  I’m looking forward to being involved in bigger picture issues, and extending on my current skills.  It’s an exciting time yet I’m also quite nervous.

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There will be social occasions with my sewing friends.  Thanks goodness for blogs and instagram!  Melbourne has a wonderful group of fun, intelligent, creative and clever people who just love sewing and love to talk about it – especially in conjunction with food and drink.  Thanks to all of you!  I already have a few weekends away planned – one with the “school mums”, two to Sewjourn.  I love all these women.  They add so much to my life.  I will be ever grateful to the internet for turning what could easily be a solitary hobby into the opportunity to meaningfully connect with others.

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As for sewing goals?  Well, they change all the time.  I need to do another wardrobe purge.  I will need some dressier clothes for my new job, so will need to shift the proportions of casual versus more formal in my wardrobe.  I’ve also put on quite a bit of weight this year, and doubt it will vanish any time soon, so need to get rid of any clothes that are a bit too small and/or uncomfortable.

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There will always be sewing.  My main aim will be to use what I have as much as possible.  To enjoy that time searching in my stash for the right fabric to go with the right pattern.  There is so much in there that I love!  And I haven’t used up all of the fabric I bought the last time I was in Chiang Mai.  I have many patterns just crying out to be sewn.  Speaking of my fabric stash and sewing room, it was recently featured on the Curvy Sewing Collective blog.  Many thanks to them for asking me  to take part.

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I never quite know how to adequately thank those of you who read my blog, and those of you who also manage to leave comments!  I don’t always respond as much as I’d like to, and that is something I plan to change.  I really enjoy and appreciate our interactions, and reading other people’s blogs is always a highlight of my day.  Yes, Instagram has definitely slowed down blogging, but in my view there is always a place for a blog.  I’ll keep on going with mine – February will be my ten-year bloggiversary!  For someone who has never been able to keep a journal or diary, that’s significant.  And it’s really due to all of you.

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So, we’re looking ahead, not looking behind.  I hope that 2017 is a year of joy, prosperity and health for all of you.  We certainly hope that’s what it will be for us!


January school holidays

And just like that, the long summer school holidays are over.  Clare has had almost two whole months off; Stella and I have had five weeks.  We had a staycation this year, spending our days at home with only a couple of short trips to the country to visit my parents.  I had a list a mile long of things that I wanted to do.  As it happens, I’ve ticked off most of the items on the list, which is a very satisfying feeling.  I’ve also rested – something that was very much needed after an intense 18 months of pretty much full-time work.  We’ve also enjoyed being tourists in our own city.

January School Holidays 2016 #1 January School Holidays 2016 #2

There has been rock climbing, gallery visiting, cricket matches, live theatre, playdates with friends, the local pool, restaurants, bike riding, shopping, a 13th birthday party, sleeping in, blue sky, and lots and lots of screen time.  It’s been great.  I love school holidays and am more than a little sad to be back at school and work tomorrow.  At the same time, I do enjoy routine.   So let’s get back into the swing of things!

children's clothing · family · kids clothing · sewing

Grade 6 Graduation Dress

Tomorrow is Clare’s last day of Primary School.  Seven years – where did that go!  Last night was their Graduation Ceremony.  The kids met at school at 5pm then walked to the local Italian Club (where they have spent many cultural and sports days over their time at primary school) and had dinner with the teachers and support staff.  By 7pm they were back at school, as were many of their families and friends, for the formal part of the evening.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

The children all looked wonderful – almost all of them dressed up, including the boys. They each gave a speech about their time at school, sharing memories and thankyous. Each received a certificate and their school report, then they all sang a song together and presented five short plays before the principal spoke to conclude the evening.  Clare received a special certificate that especially commemorated her “Love of Learning” – she was thrilled.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

It was a special celebration – but I didn’t cry! The kids are so ready for high school, and it was very touching to hear their appreciation of their time at primary school but also their anticipation as they stride into the future.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

And unsurprisingly, there was a fair bit of focus on the graduation dress leading up to the event! Clare and I decided on the Figgy’s Scirocco dress some time ago, and when I spotted this floral Alannah Hill silk at Clear It one day I knew it was a perfect match.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

Choosing appropriate styles for Clare can be a real challenge. She is almost twelve years old now, but is still very tiny as compared to her peers and hasn’t yet hit puberty. Some of us are late starters! She wants to look pretty and age-appropriate despite her stature, and I really think that this dress hit that sweet spot exactly. The pattern was size 8/9. After trying it on we added an extra flounce to the bottom. It is still above the knee, but not absurdly short. This was easy to do – I just cut another of the lower flounce and attachment pieces. The back twist was a bigger problem.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

I had noticed in images online that the fit around the back can be difficult. We drew up the back elastic quite a lot to make the skirt fit at the waist, and then I unpicked the already sewn centre twist, folded the narrow ends of the triangle in another inch each, retwisted, then hand-stitched them together again. This made the back about two inches narrower than drafted, and it then sat nicely. The bodice is fully self lined, and I didn’t make a muslin first, but the alterations were just as easy to do after the fact. It also eliminated the bagging of the back where it joins the skirt waistline that I had seen in lots of photos.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

We found the narrow lace for the front trim in my stash. Clare spent many hours on YouTube learning how to do her hair, and did the fancy braid herself. Impressive! I suspect that there may have even been a light application of eyeshadow and lip gloss. Stella found the china rose earrings in a drawer on the weekend and they matched the outfit perfectly. I think that I bought them at Royal Doulton when I was in England 25 years ago.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk
Congratulations to my special big girl as you move on to the next exciting chapter in the book of your life. We are incredibly proud of you, and love you more than we could possibly say. It is such a pleasure to watch you growing up into such a wonderful young woman.

mother and daughter - grade 6 graduation
(And now that I type this, the tears are flowing after all!)

family · miscellaneous · Sunday snippets

Sunday Snippets

Playing along with {tinniegirl} today.  A selection of photos from the last week:






cutting sequinned fabric



Followed around; finished work early enough to pop into Super Cheap Fabrics (thanks to Helen‘s enabling); school camp – Dad went too; what happens when you leave Buzz outside for a day; joined in a 31 day Style Challenge (day one: statement necklace); preparing for next Saturday’s Melbourne Frocktails; face painting kindly provided by Bunnings, along with free jumping castle, balloon sculpture, and other fun activities; Father’s Day present still waiting to be sewn.


children's clothing · family · kids clothing

book week

Eowyn costume in progress

It’s book week in Australia, and all over instagram there are photos of frantic costume making. I am no exception. The parade is on Friday, so this week I am working on Clare’s Eowyn costume. Just a zip, hems, an undershirt, and another lower sleeve to go. Somehow I only cut one lower sleeve, and I’m out of fabric. Stay at home dad has a trip to Darn Cheap ahead of him today….



All my life I have wanted a cat.  Two cats, actually.  I dreamed about the day when I had my own house and the two cats that I would have.  I’d even chosen names.  Well, then I met the man I would later marry, we bought a house, and got a cat.  And my husband was REALLY allergic.  The cat was quickly given to a friend, and that was that. We were a pet free household.

Well, the girls have been asking for a pet for years and years and years.  I resisted, as I really didn’t want another responsibility.  However, I can see what a lovely thing pet ownership can be.  Since the girls are now older and more responsible, and there is currently an adult at home full-time, we thought that the timing was right.  So let me introduce Buzz!


Buzz is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with Shih Tzu, and is six and a half years old.  We adopted him from the Lost Dogs Home, so we don’t really know his story from the last six and a half years.  He came to us on Wednesday, and has very quickly become part of our family.

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Now I’ll admit that I know very little about dogs and dog ownership.  I’ve never been what people refer as a “dog person”.  My husband has never had a pet (well, in his bachelor days he had goldfish and axolotls, but he’s never had a mammal as a pet).  My family had a dog when I grew up, but lived in a rural setting on a half acre block and the dog lived outside and pretty much roamed free (this was a long time ago).  We live in inner Melbourne, so Buzz is going to be an indoor dog, just staying outside when no-one is home.  He has already tried to escape from the back yard once, but now the gate has been reinforced and things are very secure.  We are limiting him to the downstairs part of the house – no entry to the sewing room for Buzz!

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So far Buzz is an absolute delight.  He’s been well trained, I haven’t heard him bark once, and he loves to walk on the lead.  He follows commands – even the rather confusing ones from Stella – and loves nothing more than to have his tummy rubbed or to lie on the couch next to you with his head on your lap.  He also likes to lick your hands, which I’m not so keen on but will probably get used to.  He does have a dog bed but it quickly became apparent that he is used to sleeping on the couch.  Oh well – six year old habits are possibly harder to break.  And the couch is already very grubby, so we might go along with that.  He is also very happy to be brushed.  Fortunately there is a dog groomer living two doors up from us, which will be very handy as Buzz will need regular grooming.  And I have sussed out local vet and dog training options too, and there are plenty.

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If you are interested in getting a dog and are pretty inexperienced with animals like we are, I highly recommend getting an adult dog from a shelter!  No puppy behaviour or house training to do, and you are rescuing a dog that needs love and care.  So far we are thrilled with our decision!  The girls’ friends are pretty happy about it too – Buzz is definitely the star attraction at the moment.

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Oh, as for the sewing content of this blog post? I made the pyjamas that Clare is wearing in the above photo – and shall blog about them eventually!

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