Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Oh yes I did!!!

But of course I had nothing to wear them with...   They are far too decorative to wear with patterns, and I don't have a lot of plains...  So I put my thinking cap on and headed to Spotlight, and came back with this:

Some candy pink cotton, a zipper, and some gold lame bias tape

My idea was to make a bodice with a deep, rounded V, and attach a peter pan style collar.  The bias will be piping around the edge of the collar, and around the waist.  The skirt would be full-ish and pleated.

So I set about drafting up a pattern and cutting fabric:

The bodice is based on a blouse pattern that I've used a thousand times before, and that I know fits like a glove.  I just changed the neckline and drew up the pieces for the collar based on the new neckline.  Easy.

Piping around the collar was going to be the challenging bit, so I sewed the collar pieces together so I had two top collar pieces, and two under collar pieces.  Then I carefully made up the lame piping (cause that stuff is shifty as hell!) and pinned it to the top collar piece so it was 5/8" from the edge:

Looks like way too far in doesn't it!

But its not honest!

Anyway, I pinned the under collar piece to the top collar piece, and stitched around where the piping was, then I clipped and trimmed the seam allowance and turned it through and ironed it.

And I forgot to take a photo...

But here they are attached to the bodice!

Isn't it pretty!  And I was really happy with how neat the piping was!!

I also made some bias from the same fabric, and used it to finish the armholes:

And that was the bodice finished!  And it was time to pleat the skirt... ugh.  Sometimes I can't decide if gathering or pleating is worse....  anyway!

I've found a new DVD series for to recommend!  It was recommended to me by Sara from Lillies & Remains, and its fabulous!  Dancing on the Edge is a British TV drama about an all black jazz band in London in the early 1930s.  Brilliantly written and acted, with great sets and costuming.  A must see in my book for those of you that like this kind of thing.

Anyway, I got the skirt all pleated and sewn to the dress, and promptly forgot to take a photo of it on my headless helper.


Good thing I had an opportunity to wear it the other day!

And oh yeah!  I had 10"+ cut off my hair!  I know I mentioned it on Facebook, but I'm pretty sure I forgot to say anything on my blog.  I love it - and I haven't regretted it once!  And since these photos were taken, I've got a better handle on setting it, so it looks much better.

Gratuitous Shoe Photo!!!
Aren't they completely mental!!!

So yeah - this was a pretty quick sew all things considered!  I pushed to get it finished so I could wear it to a friend's birthday party, but it rained that day, and there was noooooo way these shoes were going out in the rain.

So does anyone else have an Irregular Choice shoe addiction???  I have six or seven pairs, but they keep bringing out new ones that I want....


Friday, March 21, 2014

Today Is A New Day

So this post isn't sewing related.  Lets call it a Community Service Announcement.  And I'm going to break it up with pictures of cute puppies.  Cause why not!

In October last year I mentioned that I had been unwell, and gave a bit of a run-down of my problems.  Things have gotten worse, not better, and I feel the need to tell the story from the start and give it its own post.  I am hoping that me being honest about all that I'm dealing with will help others feel like they aren't alone, or encourage just one person to seek help.

Back in October 2012, I got pregnant.  Well, my body thought it had gotten pregnant.  In fact, I had a blighted ovum, which (in really basic terms) means that a sperm had a nibble at my egg, but then got bored and went away, but the egg got all excited and went ahead like it had been fertilised.  Anyway, I suffered near intolerable morning sickness for three weeks before we realised that I wasn't in fact pregnant.  At this point I want to say that I never wanted children, so the fact that I wasn't pregnant was actually a relief to both me and my husband.  As dedicated readers will know, he already has two wonderful children from an previous marriage.

At the end of October, I had an operation to clear my uterus so life could return to normal.

Except it didn't.

I started gaining weight, was exhausted, had a foggy head, couldn't think, and suffered from debilitating migraines every month for the week of my period.  All this time I was trying to eat well and exercise hoping that it would help, but nothing did, and no doctors seem to have an answer.  After 12 months of three normal-ish weeks and a week in bed every month I requested a referral to an endocrinologist, because I was thinking it was my hormones that were completely out of whack.

So I got a referral to a Doctor that tested me for a whole bunch of things, diagnosed me with Coeliacs Disease (spelt Celiac in the USA) which was triggered by my blighted ovum, and put me on hormone replacement therapy.  This seemed to work, and I felt better for a month, then things went downhill rapidly again.  I wasn't able to get into the same Doctor for two more months, and I wasn't prepared to wait that long, so I found a GP with a holistic approach instead.

She was HORRIFIED that a 34 year old woman who was on the contraceptive pill had been put onto hormone replacement therapy!  She did all the blood tests again, told me to stop taking what I was taking, and sent me for a pelvic ultrasound with her fingers crossed that there was nothing wrong that had been exacerbated by the extra hormones.

When the results came back, my levels for hormones and vitamins were all over the shop, but there was nothing seriously wrong thank goodness.  She put me on a mostly vegan and gluten free diet, and some chinese herbal medicine, to help me detox from all the crap I'd been taking.  And it worked, and I was feeling pretty good.  Tired a lot, but good.

But for the past couple of months, I've been going rapidly down hill.  Sick, exhausted, anxious, irritable, brain dead, depressed... not myself.  So I started doing some reading about Coeliacs disease.  The medical profession would have you believe that if you don't eat gluten you go back to normal.  What they don't tell you is this a new normal, not the old normal.  The person you are now is not the person you were before Coeliacs.  You will also battle with exhaustion, as your body doesn't absorb nutrients from food well, so you will need special supplements.  And for some people, the black dog of depression will come to visit.

All of the above is what I'm dealing with, and due to the fact that I didn't know about it, I haven't been taking supplements to support my systems.  So I'm in a total state.  Luckily, my husband and I have our own business, and he was able to give me a leave of absence so I could try and get myself together.  I honestly believe that anyone else would have fired me by now (or I would have quit out of guilt) because I have been unable to do my job or even get to work with any kind of reliability.

I have spent the last two weeks at home having ok days and bad days.  Yesterday was a really bad day.  Total exhaustion and too many tears.  My poor, supportive rock of a husband had to go to the office, so my parents dragged me to a doctor who diagnosed clinical depression and gave me a prescription for anti-depressants to help me get better.

Now, there is a huge stigma attached to mental illness, but there needn't be.  If I had a giant cut on my arm I would get stitches.  If I broke my leg I would get a cast and crutches.  Why should getting treatment for a chemical imbalance in my brain feel so embarrassing???

I refuse to be embarrassed by this.  I'm not a weak person, and this isn't a sign of weakness.  I'm going to hold my head up high and say I have a problem, and I'm gonna rock it like I rock my crazy outfits.  With confidence. 

Please, if this strikes a cord with any of you out there... GET HELP!  And then TALK ABOUT IT!  You will be surprised the number of people who come out to support you.


PS.  I'd like to point out the irony of being diagnosed with depression on International Happiness Day...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Raspberry Darling Suit - I am getting there!

This suit project is coming along well, even if it is coming along slowly!  It doesn't help that I put it down to do other emergency projects, and commissions for other people... but anyway!

The outside of the suit jacket now looks like this!

You can see that the inside hasn't been finished because the sleeve cuffs are hanging out... but I needed to secure the bows and the buttons before I put the lining in.  To me, it was kind of like icing a cake before putting it in the oven.

But before I moved on to the lining I also needed to do a bit of hand sewing - mainly the hem of the jacket, and around the neck.

On to the lining!

I pulled out the gorgeous raspberry satin and cut out all the necessary pieces and sewed it together with my trusty sewing machine.  Due to past experiences, I expected this to be a headache, but it wasn't!  Either my skills have improved, or I found a magical satin that isn't a total b-word. haha!

Obviously there is a little bit more trimming down to be done here but the colour... I just love it!

I put the jacket outer on my headless helper inside out, and trimmed and pinned the lining in place, in preparation for hand sewing it in.  Yes, there is A LOT of hand sewing in this project!!!

You can see that I left the pleated bits below the bows unlined.  There might have been a better way to treat this section, but I think this works ok.

By the way, how fabulous are these colours together!

Anyway, I better get back to the hand sewing!  Then I need to make the skirt.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Miss Rock n Rodz 2012

You will remember back in October last year I traveled to Tasmania to be a judge at the Miss Rock and Rodz pinup competition.  I blogged about my trip here.

Well, the winner of that competition - Miss Cherry Bomb - won (amongst other things) a dress made by me!  She also won a photo shoot with Dollface Pinup (a photographer based in Tasmania) and here are a couple of her photos:

Photo courtesy of Dollface Pinup

Photo courtesy of Dollface Pinup

When Miss Cherry Bomb (aka Mel) contacted me to claim her prize, she gave me her measurements, and asked for a wiggle dress, and then left the rest up to me.

That was pretty scary!!!

I don't have many wiggle dress patterns so had a look on Etsy for one I liked, then wandered on over to fabric.com for some fabric I liked.  Here is what I chose:

The great thing about this pattern is it also comes with a fabulous coat pattern!  And you know how much I like my coats!!!

I was very happy when I found the fabric!  Mel has a bit of a thing for cherries, but I didn't want to serve up the usual black background with red cherries, or white background with red cherries.  When I found this lilac fabric with cherries and love hearts I knew I was onto a winner!

The dress went together like a charm, and the next thing I knew I had this lovely looking dress!

I just love that bow detail!

I wrapped it up and sent it off to Mel, crossing everything that she would love it...


I haven't got any pictures of her wearing the dress yet, but I hope to have them soon!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Raspberry Darling Suit - Progress is slow...

Making a suit takes time.  And that's not a bad thing!  I sew quickly, and my wardrobe was rapidly filling with lovely printed dresses... I was running out of room to store them all!

So the fact that I only got the collar on and the sleeves into my jacket this past weekend isn't a massive disaster!  Mind you - I did only have one day to sew... on Sunday I traveled to Sydney with my stepdaughter to go to my friend Lucy's birthday party:

Love these girls
(L-R Miss Lucy, me, Miss Liv my step-daughter, and Miss Sasha)

But back to the suit!

Putting the top part of the collar (that goes around the back of the neck) was mostly hand sewing once I'd gotten it together.

I ummed and ahhed about what to interface the collar with and I went with the tried an true organza.  I sewed it to the upper collar piece and then sewed the upper and lower collar pieces together, and turned it out the right way.  

I was able to sew the collar to the jacket body at the back of the neck, and then the rest needed to be hand sewed in.

I figured the best thing to do was to lay the jacket and the top part of the collar over my tailors ham, and then pin them so the butted up with each other.  Then I hand stitched them together with something I'm going to call the 'zipper-stitch'...

I'm freestyling here people... I have no idea if this is 'proper' or if it has an actual name...

As I was doing all this I was watching Bomb Girls - great series by the way!  I highly recommend it!!

I'm happy with the way the collar is sitting on the jacket though, so it was worth the extra effort.

Then it was on to the sleeves.  I made up each sleeve unit (including ironing up the cuff which makes it easier when the seam is sewn together.

Then I sewed the sleeves into the jacket.  They are a little more puckered than I would like, but a bit of steaming should fix that (I hope!)

And I don't know why the upper part of my jacket is so blousy.  It must be part of the pattern... I do have a 1940s vintage suit with a similar blousy back, so maybe this is standard for the era???  Anyone know???

Meanwhile, Stella slept in my petticoats

Oh!  And I almost forgot - I made shoulder pads!

I have a more detailed post on how I do this here if anyone is interested.

So the outside of the jacket is finished (apart from a leeeetle bit of hand sewing), which means that this weekend I'm on to the pretty bits - the lining, the bows and the buttons!

Bring on the weekend!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vintage Re(nee)creation

Recently a lovely friend of mine, Miss Renee from Lucy Luxxe, asked me if I could recreate her favourite vintage dress.  I said of course, so she sent me the dress... this is it.

Its a super sweet dress in the most amazing floral fruity fabric!  Here is the back:

Actually no, I can't show you the back... because Renee is a teenie lady, and this dress is too small to fit on my small dress form...  Take it from me that the straps cross over in the back, and it buttons from bodice to hem.

I've never worn anything that buttons up the back.  I keep meaning to ask Renee if its hard to do up, but I keep forgetting... does anyone know?

Anyway!  Renee had also found me a vintage pattern that she thought might work.  But when I looked at it, there were just too many things I had to change, I thought I'd just make my own pattern directly from Renee's original dress, without doing it any damage of course!  With that done I needed to check the pattern so I pulled a length of 1960s (or there abouts) poly-cotton that someone had given me.  A lovely fabric, just not for me. 

Anyway, the bodice was the bit I was worried about (a gathered skirt is a gathered skirt) but it went together with only one issue:

See that seam down the middle of the bodice... it shouldn't be there.  I somehow had an extra inch in the middle. But it was an easy fix, and I'd rather have seen the issue with test fabric than with the real fabric! 

I put the skirt on and added some pockets, and voila!

It happened to be Renee's birthday when I finished the dress, so I wrote out a birthday card and popped it into an express post bag to get it to her the next day.  And here she is!

SHE LOVED IT!!!!  And it fitted her perfectly, which means I get to cut into the most adorable amazing fabric of all time...


I am so looking forward to making this adorable dress up for Renee.  Its going to be a bit more detailed than the test dress, but basically the same, just a whole lot cuter!

And Renee is already looking for more fabric.  We are thinking it could be super cute in a light wool with a shirt under it.  What do you think?