Saturday, 27 June 2015


Meet The Quirky Diva.

Not me! The dress!

Though to be honest she makes me feel quite the quirky diva myself.

I am finally creating pieces that make me squeal with delight at how very me they are. I'm not joking about the squealing, I'm squealing now. It's getting a little embarrassing. I'm not normally a squealer...

This mind blowing fabric is a divine Collette Dinnigan brocade I scored from Pitt Trading*.

But boy was she quite the diva. She actually sewed up beautifully, no slippery shenanigans and pressing quite nicely, though I only pressed the reverse side. Her diva-ishness showed up in her ability to unravel before your very eyes, her fraying eating away at my very modest 1cm seam allowance like a crazy thing at the lightest of handling. I am sooooooo thankful I didn't pre-wash and if you do I would definitely suggest overlocking/serging the raw edges prior to that process.

I decided to keep this dry clean only and skipped a pre-wash. I adooooooooore the hand of this fabric. Huge amounts of body and little to no drape. It was exactly what I had in mind for my Frocktails dress. I did not want to potentially lose those properties to a dunk in the sink.

Yep, you'll be seeing this just as I'm donning its gorgeousness and swanning off to Canberra Frocktails for an evening of cocktails, fun and frivolity (and a fair bit of fabric stroking) with a bunch of other sewing/crafty bloggers. Squeeeeee! So much excitement!

And it's a remake! Did you pick it? It's another Traffic Stopper albeit with some alterations and deviations from the original (click on that blog link for further info).

I removed all topstitching...

Utterly perfect neckline
... instead blind handstitching the neckline bias binding to the inside.

Definitely a TNT sleeved dress pattern for me - perfect fit across the shoulders
And let me tell you - I'm converted. This is the most perfect neckline I've created. I'm sure sending that neckline through the machine twice with completely machine-stitched bias facings just lends itself to significant stretching and warping of the neckline, even when I'm careful and have stay stitched (which I always do).

I finished all seams with my overlocker. I originally considered French seams, but this fabric is quite lusciously heavy and I wasn't convinced it would work. The overlocking has kept those raw edges perfectly well-behaved.

You'll notice I also omitted the neck slit and sewed the top sleeve seam slit closed whilst retaining the beautiful tulip shape to the sleeve (also hand stitching the hem).

I envisaged echoing the tulip shape of the sleeve by creating a definite A-line shape to the skirt. I achieved this by grading the pattern from the size 8 bodice out to size 12 at the lower hem. I knew this fabric would hold the shape well and I'm so pleased with the result. (NB: excuse all the "penguin" poses as I was trying to show the full shape!).

It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but this is, for me, my biggest ever WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO! It's everything I would want in a winter appropriate cocktail dress that I'd likely never find in store, in a perfect fit and at a price that allows me to get the cocktails in. Next up.... the matching leather clutch.

I'm off to Frocktails now...

*Thanks go to Pitt Trading who provided my choice of fabric and notions free of charge for this project in exchange for images of my completed make for their use. Opinions are all my own.

Thursday, 11 June 2015


I love my hometown, I really do.

I've travelled near and far and there are many beautiful places in this world. But Sydney, oh Sydney, you give them a run for their money.

When Tessuti Fabrics released their Sydney Jacket pattern a few weeks back, I unexpectedly fell in love with it. I had downloaded my pattern within minutes. I had the perfect fabric languishing in my stash... a fire engine red boiled wool knit.

I had a slight hiccup when I realised I had less than the recommended yardage. Not by much, but at first it looked like my plans would be scuppered.

Then I saw a few being made up (Kirsty, Helen) and quickly realised that perhaps I'd be able to get away with the petite size with the XS length (only 1cm longer) which might juuuuuuuuust squeeze onto my fabric. It did. Huzzah!

For the record I am almost 168cm tall and the measurements for the XS more closely matched my body measurements. Let me tell you though, this is plenty big enough. Any bigger and I'd be totally swamped. It seems to run a bit large, so be warned.

It's a quick make, if not a bit fiddly with those lapped seams. I wasn't sure I'd like the effect, but I really do! The cut out darts were a bit tricky and I'm pretty sure you could do a regular dart, just wish I'd tried that first.

Sydney has perfectly low slung pockets, cropped sleeves and a beautiful drape. It's fabulously drafted and everything came together like a perfectly formed jigsaw puzzle.

Cropped sleeves on a coat confuse me. In fact they've always been a complete turn off. I don't get it... if I have need for a coat, surely I'm going to want some sleeves. But this style is unexpectedly perfect for Sydney autumn/winter where temps below 15 degrees happen infrequently and the sun actually has a significant warmth to it.

That's something my poor brain could never adjust to when I lived in Canada. It would be a gorgeously bright and sunny winter's day and my brain would expect to be able to bask in the warmth of the sun. But it's total inability to take the edge off the literally frigid conditions always came as a surprise no matter how long I'd been there.

Back to the coat. Originally this was a definite ho-hum make for me. I could not make it work for me stylistically, it just felt like an ultra bright lab coat. Seriously, it really did.

Then I took a step away for a week or two and tried again. And somehow I made it work. I think it needs layers, accessories, a beanie. It just doesn't work for me slung over a long-sleeved tee and jeans. I love it with my over-the-top red boots, my precious pure silk scarf (gift from hubby) and my me-knit beanie. Oh and a good slash of red lipstick never goes astray.

And if you hadn't guessed by the sheer volume of photos I'm sharing, this has become a decided WOOHOO! Thank goodness Sydney didn't let me down. Not that she ever could...

Sunday, 31 May 2015


Memories are a funny thing. They are powerful, yet often flawed.

This project has a bit of history to it. Sarah has heard a bit of this story after I commented on her fabulous Woodland Stroll Cape. You see I've been planning a cape/poncho/winter thingy for literally years.

I have this rather precious memory. I recall being small, maybe four, and I was the proud owner of the most wicked poncho ever. Crocheted in green and white, pom pom drawstrings, I was a child of the 70's. That thing was the bomb. And I remember very clearly one particular occasion of wear. I was sick (nothing major I suspect) and my father allowed me to keep my pyjamas on with my precious poncho thrown on top to head to the doctors. I remember striding with pride holding my Daddy's hand. I seriously felt like the queen of the world.

I've pretty much always wanted to create a newer, more modern and fresh version of that famed poncho. A few years ago I fell in love with Tessuti's New York Cape when I came across Kirsty's version showcased on the Tessuti blog. Oh my, be still my beating heart. I rushed to buy the pattern, and then... stalled. I don't know why. I just never got around to it.

Then last winter I visited The Fabric Store to buy something completely different. And whilst making my purchase I saw a roll of the most amazingly perfect pure wool coating I'd ever seen. Shades of apple green, cream, fawn and brown.

Please don't tell me it's back there because someone bought the whole roll I begged the staff.

Um yep, it was. But my angel on earth (one of the shop assistants) chased some up from another store and one phone call later it was winging its way to me.

Coordinating wool binding was purchased from Tessuti and I was ready to go... and then I stalled again.


Because this fabric needed to be honoured by the right pattern. And when I saw Anna's divine Winter Wrap it became all too clear that this is what this fabric was meant to be. I knew it was perfect and I had to have something just like it.

I fired up Google and minutes later I found this tutorial and the capacity to make the cape/wrap/thingy of my dreams.

This is a super quick project that basically requires you to cut a "neckline" out of a square of fabric and then bind the edges. You could use regular bias binding or even handstitch a blanket stitch around the edge. I had the wool binding so was set to go. I used Anna's fabric dimensions, a square of 1.3m x 1.3m, because I liked the fall and drape of hers.

I have had in my stash for some time a couple of Tasmanian designed and crafted wooden buttons purchased by the hubby on a business trip to Hobart. I wanted to add just a little something, so used this beautiful bird button as a "brooch".

Back to memories. Why are memories flawed? Because my mum just informed me the poncho was red, not green and white!! And as soon as she said it I thought "So it was..."

Green, white, red, it just doesn't matter because good god I love this thing. It might even cause me to show my teeth...

And the reason it holds such nostalgia for me? My father passed away in my early teen years. Wearing this capes brings back such powerful memories of him and how dearly I was loved. You may have been gone for twenty-eight years Daddy, but I remember you. I remember you Daddy and this one's for you.