Saturday, July 27, 2013


Hello fellow sewing enthusiasts! It has been a while. I've been coming to terms with working full time again. Unfortunately I can't sew on the bus to and from work or during my lunch break.

However I have stuck to my goal of only sewing clothes I can wear to work. Well, at the moment, it's more like not-sewing work clothes, because I haven't done anything in a while, but I can confidently say I am definitely not not-sewing non-work clothes! (Does that make any sense?!)

So moving on, this is the project I am currently not-working on, the New England Day Dress.

Now before you freak out and question my ability to fit, choose appropriate fabric type and colour, and my skills in counting the number of sleeves a garment usually requires, let me reassure you! This is a toile.

Monday, June 10, 2013

One red dress

So who hasn't seen Gatsby yet?  That would be me. 

This is for two reasons: 1) not a fan of musicals (The Wizard of Oz being the only exception) and 2) I'm afraid I'll become obsessed with 1920s fashion when I haven't yet finished with the newer parts of the century. Currently in the stash are 2 x 1950s, 1 x 1940s and 1 x 1930s patterns that have to be done first. And then I fret about the 1950s trend, and should we be moving on or is there more life in the Mad Men fad yet? These are the things that keep me up at night.

I feel like I'm such a slow sewer. This dress started about a month ago and is only just crossing the finish line today.  I have probably missed the Gatsby trend anyway in the time it's taken...are we on to the 1800s now??

Much like the little black dress, every girl should have a little red dress in her wardrobe.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Skirting the tenth circle

So the atelier has some good news - I'm going back to full time work next week! This is obviously very exciting for my bank balance, although bittersweet, because although I'll have a positive cash flow and be able to buy whatever sewing stuff I want, there will be limited time to actually sew.

I have been planning for this day by focusing on sewing more corporate-appropriate stuff that I can wear to work. This hasn't stopped me from, for example, buying evening dress patterns and Fantastic Mr Fox material en masse from Spotlight but these things will live in the stash for just a little while.

Maybe not appropriate for a work suit...

So here is the latest compromise - a Japanese garden skirt.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Magic Eye material

When I was in late primary school there was a fad with those 'Magic Eye' books: the ones where you defocus your eyes in order to see the picture in what looks like TV static and ruin your eyes at the same time. Maybe that's why I wear coke bottle contact lenses now?

This material reminds me of those Magic Eye pictures.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Being creative is a labour of love

It's Mothers Day weekend here in Australia, and what better way to celebrate than by taking our mum to the local Indie Craft markets?!

Werewolf reminding child not to forget Mothers' Day
Our city council is supporting a resurgence in the 'lost crafts' and these markets are now being held in and around Town Hall a couple of times a month.

Monday, May 6, 2013

To thine own self be true

You know, for a while there I tried to hide my infatuation for Japanese cottons.  I thought to myself, who else is so obsessed with the textiles of one geographic region? And grown ups sew with proper fabrics like jersey and silk and wool and linen. Not flowery cottons.

But as Polonius said, to thine own self be true, and although he was a bit of a dill it's good advice. I am a true girly girl. So I came to my senses and just made more flowery dresses.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Japanese Obsession and Bruce the chipmunk

A few years ago (actually it was nearly 10 years ago - whoa) I went to Japan. First trip overseas. Middle of winter. Lots of sake and waving cats.

In Kyoto I bought a lot of chiyogami - mulberry paper screen printed with beautiful designs - and also discovered that they make similar patterns on fabric. Of course I had to buy a lot! When I got home mum and I made this quilt.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Blue Jasmine sewing fix

So after being overseas for a couple of weeks I was dying to get back into a sewing project. Maybe I was having withdrawal symptoms? Must be an addiction!

Luckily I had the foresight to order a few new patterns from Decades of Style and Colette before I left and they arrived while I was away. Love love love getting sewing stuff in the post!

To get a sewing 'fix' I decided on a quick and easy project:

It's the 1018 Jasmine blouse by Colette.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jordan, Israel and the Liebster Awards

Hello dear sewers! Apologies for the radio silence for the past few weeks. I have been doing my best Indiana Jones impersonation and travelling through the Middle East.

The Treasury at Petra, including camels
Although I couldn't take the sewing machine with me (would have been handy though to fill in the time during the airport layovers in Singapore and Dubai), sewing did follow me over there, as the lovely Amy from sewamysew gave me a Liebster Award while I was away!  Thanks Amy :)

Rather than reinventing the wheel I have copied Amy's copy about the Award:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pattern Magic: learning Japanese through sewing

Do you enjoy challenging yourself in sewing projects? 

I've never looked at a pattern and thought 'no way I could make that'. Being willing to give anything a go is the best way to learn to sew. It can also be a good way to give yourself a headache, or to spend years making one dress (I have a couple of those unfinished projects in my sewing box...). It's also the reason I ended up with a ballgown, a party dress with a boned bodice and lots of Hong Kong binding - you are sure to learn heaps if you just jump in and try!

The Pattern Magic books are a favourite of mine. These delightfully quirky sewing projects might seem a wee bit impractical as day wear (at what occasion does one wear a dress with three cubes sewn into the left bust?) but I promise you they are LOADS of fun.

Pattern Magic 1; Bruce in background inspecting the veranda for possums.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hitchcock's Birds: a dress I was nearly too scared to sew

Do you know when you come across a bolt of material and time just seems to stop? Kind of like in The Matrix, when the agents shoot at Neo and they do that cool camera trick with the bullets. 

That's what happened when I came across this Italian Roberto Cavalli 100% silk, Hitchcock's Birds, at Tessutis.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In a bind, Hong Kong style

Hong Kong is one of my favourite places in the world (other than the Atelier of course!). It's a fascinating mix of eastern and western culture, reclaimed land, feng shui, congee and a replica Mona Lisa made out of mosaic toast:

Disclaimer: mosaic Mona Lisa toast is not fit for human consumption

It is also the origin of one of my favourite sewing techniques, which is Hong Kong binding.

Test question - is this HK binding or not?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Gridlock of the brain

Competitions are a great way to focus the mind and the spirit. Taoist philosophy would advise that if one is to enter a competition, you should do so for the experience, rather than being attached to a specific outcome (ie winning) (or losing - you know, whatever floats your boat). 

So when the Tessuti Gridlock competition was announced I was right in there, champing at the bit. The brief was to use this lovely cotton-poly-polyurethane material called Gridlock to create a daywear outfit of your choosing. I no longer live in Sydney so couldn't check it out at the store, so purchased the material online and was very excited when it arrived! I love getting mail and parcels.

It was wrapped in old patterns!  swoon

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sew for Victory!

My overzealous setting on the camera's flash shows the pleat details quite nicely

I'm on sabbatical at the moment. For the first time in...what, 17 years?...I am not working full time. And loving it! So much mental space for sewing.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What does your sewing atelier look like?

[This will be about sewing, I promise.]

I admit that I'm a typical uni-lingual Australian.  However thanks to the magic of books, YouTube, books, travel and more books I can count to ten in Japanese and have a few other location-specific-but-otherwise-relatively-useless-everyday language skills. My collection of travel and language guides can only be described as Lonely Planet Fangirl.

Not surprisingly I also have a growing collection of sewing books, of which one of my favourites is Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer. (Find it here at The Book Depository).