Sunday, 22 November 2015


I tried to come up with a witty project title, I really did. But seriously... I MADE SHOES!

Real shoes.

Out of leather.

That fit.

And look awesome.

These sandals were made up using the Silvers Sands Sandal pattern by Atelier Louise.

And they are good. Really good. As is the pattern and its accompanying instructions.

With a little patience, some clever leatherworking and a great deal of excitement you too can have your very own me-made pair of sandals.

You do need an array of tools that may not always be terribly cheap to invest in. It helps that I had the bulk of what I needed since myself and hubby have undertaken quite a few previous leather projects.

A small selection of the tools I used
The shoes are entirely glued, there is no stitching required. This is new to me as those previous projects have been sewn either by hand or machine. And let me tell you - get yourself a fume protection mask. Ask me how I know... being vaguely and unpleasantly stoned off the incredibly horrid and toxic glue fumes and with an awfully bad headache is not the way you want to end up. Trust me. I got me a mask after that first gluing incident. And it's my own fault - the pattern tells you clearly to WEAR A DAMN MASK, IDIOT!!! Or words to that effect.

You carefully craft slots to assigned parts of your insole and then feed previously cut and glued, butter soft self-lined straps through to form your top straps. I had to use pliers to pull mine through as it's hard to get a perfect fitting slot based on the thickness of your straps (the pattern calls for specific leather thicknesses, but I worked from my stash, I'm a renegade like that). The straps are then wrapped under the insole and glued to the underside. Tada! Like magic.

That's the best part: being able to try them on as you go and deciding exactly how tight you want those straps and the angle at which they should sit for comfort before gluing. So fabulous.

And you definitely need awesome friends like Jodie who insisted on being my outsole materials provider. In this case TOPY rubber soling. The pattern calls for a resin soling, but I was finding it seriously hard to get my hands on some and rubber is AOK with me (Peta Louise has let me know you can get resin soling from Leffler Leather in Melbourne) (and you need to check out Jodie's ridiculous shoe making. Ridiculously amazing!!)

The outsoling did present some problems. The side of the soling you stick to the underside of the insole is smooth. It stuck beautifully to my insoles. But, as you can see from the photo above, the outer side of the rubber soling is finished with little "knobs" that help to provide grip on the ground and are naturally very hardwearing.

But that heel piece you see above? It's not going to be staying put for very long. You have to stick the smooth side of the heel piece to the knobbly part of the outsole. Yeah, that doesn't create a great gluing result. Peta Louise has suggested I leave off the heel piece in this scenario, or try a belt sander to remove the knobs from the heel area to create a smooth gluing surface. I will definitely be trying one or the other of these options. As you can tell Peta Louise is incredibly responsive and helpful.

In terms of fit, I'm pretty happy. They are certainly comfy, that's for sure. I made a straight size 9 (I'm usually a size 8 AUS, but my foot measures size 9 according to the pattern) and you can probably see from the shot below that the forefoot might not be quite wide enough for my foot, with a little toe peeping over the edge on both feet.

This certainly can't be felt when I'm wearing them, but it would be an easy pattern adjustment to broaden that part of the sole. And I'm certainly considering another pair with that alteration in mind.

Oh! And be super careful with your gluing. I swear I took as much care as a first time mother with a newborn, yet I have an annoying array of little bits of glue residue on the outer of my straps. And no, I can't get it off. You only see it from up really close anyway. So if you stay up here, and my feet stay down there, I'm looking the goods.

I really wasn't sure what info you all would like so please do feel free to ask away in the comment section and I'll gladly get back you. But in the meantime I think it's best to finish with a further shot of adoration.  I know, I know, I've taken more shots than could ever be called reasonably necessary. But peeps... SHOES!!!

Thursday, 19 November 2015


This is a special dress.

A dress as a tribute. A tribute to my father-in-law, Karel, who passed away suddenly and tragically a few weeks ago. This is not a sad post. This dress was made to attend a celebration of his life.

Karel got such a kick out of my me-mades. Always drawing attention to my makes when we were out and about together.

Apart from being an exceptional musician, playing oboe and English horn for the Czech Nonet, the Czech Philharmonic, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and finally the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Karel was also fantastic with his hands, repairing instruments in retirement and always being handy with needle and thread.

Karel learnt to sew by assisting his mother in socialist Prague when he was young and appreciated and carried this skill throughout his life reupholstering couches and fashioning curtains and all manner of things.

Karel would have loved this dress and I wore it with happiness and sunshiny rays of warmth.

This is the Xerea Dress (view B) by Pauline Alice Patterns: a sleeveless tent dress. A dress of awesomeness. A pattern made specifically with me in mind.... obviously.

And even more special, it was gifted to me by Kirsty for my birthday back in August. Thank you, lovely Kirsty!

Such a fabulous trapeze: a shape I'm having quite the love affair with.

I made the size 36 at the bust and finally figured out how to grade out to a 38 at the hips. It was entirely unnecessary as it relates to fitting in my childbearing hips, but I'm always paranoid things will be too tight and anyway - trapeze! Big trapeze!

Oh and I did lengthen the dress by 1 inch to bring it to my standard preferred hem length (yep, I know exactly the length I like my hems and all my dresses are exactly the same).

It's made up in a super comfy heavy cotton (maybe drill/twill) with a touch of elastane (I think) from Pitt Trading. There was just enough left on the roll for this make.

It's hard to see in the shots above due to the ridiculous lighting conditions when I photographed the make (seriously I gotta shoot when I can shoot). But here is a shot of the top of the bodice...

I pressed the centre box pleat all the way to the hem and it has a lovely effect.

I'm  a little uncertain about the fit across the shoulders as you can see some excess fabric just above the bust near the armscye. Maybe I require a narrow shoulder adjustment (which is hilarious because...), or perhaps an SBA given the pattern is drafted for a B cup. Without any darts, however, I'm not sure how that's done. It doesn't bother me and I think we are sometimes a bit too pedantic in criticising our makes.

But I do think the armscye is the wrong shape for me. I reckon I can pinch out a dart in the rear armscye line as they do sit away from me.

And what a lovely back upper bodice... who doesn't love a v-back?

This is yet another woohoo! I really adore it. It's so comfy and the print is fabulous.

And now I need to go get a haircut. My curls are outta control!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


If I could surround myself with Marimekko for the rest of my life, I'd be pretty happy.

Marimekko embodies so much of what I love. Scandinavian design, a vintage sensibility, bright clear colours, and "look at me" prints that just scream happy!

What's not to love?

These bold large prints are perfect for loose fitting garments cut simply to allow the fabric to truly be the star. I particularly love a trapeze shape for this type of fabric and I knew from the moment it was purchased that I'd be making it up thus.

This print is Ajatus in Tärkein (in the white/red colourway) by Maija Louekari (2013). The Ajatus on tärkein ("it’s the thought that counts") pattern represents the different kinds of gifts that surround us during the Holidays. For the designer, the most important ones are moments spent together with friends and family. I didn't seek this information until after purchase and it's kind of cool since I bought this piece in Melbourne whilst on a long weekend break with the hubby for our 10th wedding anniversary.

It's a heavyweight, 100% cotton, with quite a stiff hand and no drape to speak of.

I pulled out my trusty and beloved Giant bow-tie tunic (Pattern A, Version 2) from Jinto Matsumoto's Feminine Wardrobe. I've made it before and I really believe there is at least one more in me. I adore the shape and the fit is perfection.

And check out that swing...

Seriously, the moment this thing even began to take shape I was squealing with joy. The capacity to make garments exactly as I dream them is such a precious gift.