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.

2014-08-06 19.56.57-1

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!

2014-08-06 20.08.23

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.

2014-08-06 19.57.51

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.

2014-08-08 20.21.28-1

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!

2014-08-06 20.08.40

family · Thailand 2014

Thailand day nineteen (Sunday) to Australia day twenty (Monday)

Well, that’s it!  We’re home, back in chilly Melbourne.  At least the sun was shining today when we landed, quite unlike last night when we took off from Bangkok!  Our last day in Khao Lak was really a packing up and saying goodbye day.  The kids had a last swim and Dan collected his tailor-made shirts.  We tried to have a last drink at Peter Bar but unfortunately were defeated by the high tide, so settled with a drink at the hotel instead.







Our transfer to Phuket airport was at 1.30pm. It takes a little over an hour to get there from Khao Lak, and as always the drive there provided us with plenty to see through the minivan windows. We were taking a domestic flight up to Suvarnabhumi International Airport (the main airport in Bangkok). There was quite a gap between the arrival of our domestic flight and the departure time of the international one. However, this wasn’t an issue – Suvarnabhumi is MASSIVE! By the time we got off one aircraft, walked a massive distance to baggage claim to get our luggage, then found our way to the International departures area we were able to check our bags in.




The airport is very well signed, and all staff that we interacted with were extremely helpful. We quickly went through immigration and found ourself in a huge shopping complex. All the luxury brands were there, as well as other shops hoping to tempt you with last minute duty free shopping opportunities. There were also some fun things along the way – statues, fancy video screens – and by the time we had a light dinner it was time to make our way to the departure lounge.




The plane was late boarding and taking off – there had been thunder and lightning for some hours. Eventually we were in the air at around 11.00pm Thailand time, and attempting to sleep. Our flight landed in Melbourne shortly after 11.00am Melbourne time after a relatively uneventful night. Dan and I didn’t get much sleep – the air conditioning on the plane was freezing, and on a budget airline no blankets are provided – but the girls seemed to snooze for most of the night.



Immigration and customs at Melbourne was straightforward too, as was the taxi ride home. We were struck by how tidy and ordered the streets and traffic are here – it’s surprising how quickly you become used to the busyness and disorder and relative mess of Thailand. There were good things awaiting us at home – my latest copy of Threads magazine, Dan’s 50th birthday present from the girls, a warm shower and favourite toys.



The rest of the day has passed in a jetlagged haze, unpacking, doing some basic shopping and putting the washing machine through its paces. It’s hard to believe that this time yesterday we were still in Thailand. As Clare said before she popped up to bed tonight “I don’t think that I was home-sick while we were away, but I am a little bit Thailand-sick now that we are back”. Yes, we all miss it. What an incredible family holiday. There are lots of other things that I’d like to share about our time away and thoughts that I have about travelling overseas with a family and will hopefully get to that in another blog post soon. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that the planets will align for us and in 2016 we will be able to visit Chiang Mai, Cambodia and Laos! Thanks so much for travelling along with us. Your interest and encouragement has been wonderful.