Sunday, 22 February 2015



Japanese pattern books are making me brave. They really are. I've always been one totally afraid of deviating from the pattern as is. Branching out and trying different ways to construct a garment... that wasn't for me.

I'd slavishly follow directions even when a little voice would be whispering in my ear there's a better way of doing this...

Or what about changing a pattern - creating a neckline that is more flattering to me, adding a feature, subtracting something that wasn't quite me. Nup, not for me.

I wasn't always that way. During Bimble and Pimble's Sewvember I showed my best make ever. My formal (prom for North Americans) dress created when I was 15 (yeah, you enjoy clicking on that one), with the tagline Fearless, fearsome 15yr old me. And I was, fearsome that is. Go on click the link, I know you want to. We're talking largely self-drafted, couture techniques including fully boned bodice. I was the bomb! And I can barely remember how I did it...

I decided to take part in the Japanese Sewalong over on
being hosted by Catrin. (In fact the Pineapple Dress of Happiness was my first sewn item for the Sewalong. I just got so excited I forgot to mention it).

Anyone can join in and really, it was a no-brainer for me. It's no secret I have a burgeoning love affair with Japanese pattern books (see Dandelion Drift, the Siesta Dress, The Traffic Stopper Dress, the Sunshine on a Rainy Day Dress, and the Pineapple Dress of Happiness).

Dudes I found my groove.. and good god I like it.

And they fit me! Me! Right out of the packet, so to speak. No SBAs in sight! Clearly they are made for people with no boobs. Me!

This is the Giant Bow-Tie Tunic using pattern A, version 2, from Jinto Matsumoto's Feminine Wardrobe.

Obviously sans bow. In all it's trapeze gloriousness.

I made it up in a divine printed cotton sateen remnant I picked up on my first foray to Pitt Trading in Sydney. I'd never been before. It's close to my home, but I had the impression from their website that they specialised in very special occasion (ie wedding) fabrics and trims. Let me tell you it's a trove of fabulousness, and they are currently redeveloping their website to truly reflect their stock.

This fabric has a lushness to it that makes me want to sew expensive fabrics all the time. Unfortunately my budget is small all the time. But remnants... now those I can afford.

It needed to be made up... now. I was willing to forgo the bow on this make to just make it up!!!

And I am a happy little camper.

But what about this bravery I mentioned?? Not only did I not have enough fabric for a bow, I didn't have enough fabric for the facings included in the pattern. I drafted my own small facing to encase the back neckline slit. I know, it's such a small thing, but it's having done something similar on a Japanese pattern before that filled me with the confidence to just get on with it. Lord knows where teen Jillian went. I used to know this shit!

I now also tend to look at the line drawings for the patterns rather than the stylised photos of the pieces and I find myself figuring out how I could make it just a little bit different, use a pattern as a base for something entirely different. It's very cool.

Suffice to say I have another woohoo make! I love it like I love my Roxanne top. It makes me feel a million bucks.

Sunday, 15 February 2015


I've succumbed to the Furoshiki madness again.

But I went all a bit extra special this time.

You see this was my Secret Valentine's Gift as part of Sanae Ishida and Ute's 2015 Secret Valentine Exchange (#2015sve).

I found out about the Exchange via Instragram (IG). I love Instagram. I've "met" so many more crafters via IG than I could ever have encountered via blogging alone and my life is richer for it. Even if occasionally I spend more time IG'ing than making. Oops...

This is the second year that Sanae and Ute have hosted the Exchange which is loosely based on a Scandinavian Secret Santa tradition called Julklapp. Sanae and Ute publicised it via Sanae's blog and on Instagram and invited any interested crafters to get involved. The idea is you are secretly partnered with another involved crafter and provided with some basic info about them - like favourite colours, prints and other interests, and links to their blog/IG profile/Pinterest account so you can spy generate a picture of the individual. From there it is up to you to decide a crafty project to make and gift, undertake said project and post it merrily on its way.

I thought cool, how hard could that be? Ummmmm, have you see the Flickr pool? And my partner in particular is ridiculously clever. Yep, cue fear and panic.

Furoshiki and a ridiculously clever husband enter stage left!

This time I fully lined my Furoshiki bag, which could in fact mean it's reversible, but I also added an internal pocket that my partner might not want to wear on the outside. So we'll go with it being lined. The outside of the bag is definitely more my sophisticated partner, whilst the inside is a reflection of mental brightly patterned me. I liked the idea it had a little of me and a little of "her".

But it just didn't feel enough.

Me: Feel like undertaking a bit of leatherwork with that navy blue leftover leather over there??

Hubby: Sure! What have you got in mind?

Seriously how did I land him? He's a gem amongst men, a true craftsman AND just a little bit handsome. So he got to create and show off again.

I had in mind a card wallet for that inner pocket similar, or even exactly the same, as one he created for himself - he uses it for credit cards and slipping some paper (plastic in Australia) money in when he wants a non-bulky wallet.

But no, he needed to create, he needed to try new ideas, buy new tools. Uh-huh. And so we have this.

Unlike the original (which was more of a credit card shaped, unlined pocket) this is folded with leather outer and leather lining. He got to try out bonding leather and working out how to keep it pliable and flexible, but it is still hand punched and stitched. He also got a polishing tool thingy that finishes the edges making them smooth and satiny.

Inside are a few cleverly created sleeves or pockets carefully crafted to fit a credit card or two, business cards and/or a little cash. Did I also mention that most of his work is freehand? No? Well it is: no pattern, no template and flying by the seat of his pants most of the time. Including this time. Sometimes there is a happy ending on the first attempt. This took three goes and a bit of swearing and thrown out leather (!!). But yippee, he finally got it finished just in time for sending.

Seriously, where's mine? I love this idea. Slip a few essentials in your handcrafted wallet/purse, slide it in that inner pocket and sling your Furoshiki bag over your shoulder. You're ready to head out!

And what's more my partner loves her gift! Winning!

Sunday, 8 February 2015



Another happy dress!

If you are on Instagram at all and have similar people in your feed as me, then you are gonna know this fabric well. The, by now ubiquitous, pineapple print linen from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

For me my obsession interest started with Emma's amazing midi skirt, then there was Kirsty's fabulous culottes, and Rachel's sublime Sewjourn make and finally it all got outta control. Myself and about a billion quite a few other Australian sewing bloggers also decided we needed to get our hands on some of that maddeningly covetous fabric. I don't even do linen (except the cotton/linen of my culottes obviously)!

But we do know I have a thing for fruit fabric (see here and here and there are a few more in the works). It's a disease I tell you. And I had to have pineapples.

This fabric turned out to be a bit tricky. It's a super heavy weight linen, with a lot of body and little to no drape. I ummed and ahhhed for quite a while. I had envisaged shamelessly ripping of Kirsty's idea of culottes, but this fabric and that silhouette were never gonna work on my frame. So I put it aside and powered on with my Sunshine on a Rainy Day happy dress.

And then, I had my answer. This fabric, and that dress, sans ruffles were gonna be best friends.

Was I right, huh, huh, was I?

There's not much more to say about this dress (details from my previous version), except that I left off the ruffles because one happy dress with ridiculously mega ruffles is almost definitely enough. Oh, and weirdly I had to take the bodice in 2cm each side from the armscye tapering to nothing at the bust line. It was gaping on this version. Now it's perfect.

I also broke my cardinal rule in making this dress. Never make the same pattern twice. Maybe it's not so much a rule as something I've just never undertaken. I usually love my makes so much that making another version feels to me like it might devalue the first (is this why I stopped at one child... now there's a thought). But I love this easy wear style so much I just had to do it again.

The only other change I made was to try and channel sophisticated Jillian. She doesn't get out much, so we'll give her a break. Woohoo!