Diane von Furstenberg dress and a blog hop


This is probably my penultimate vintage make for this year. It is the 40th anniversary of this iconic wrap dress, although the pattern (Vogue 1549) was released in 1976, so I thought it was a fitting make.


I have never successfully bought or made a wrap dress, but have often wondered about this one as the common view is that this dress suits all body types.


I bought the fabric a few months ago on sale at Knitwit and cut out the dress and then lost interest and it went into the UFO pile. I got sick of looking at it and really wanted to wear it before summer came and so I managed to get it together. I think I was scared of it. The pattern is several sizes too small for me and so I had to grade it up which I’m not good at, and add to this the fact that the pattern looks complicated even though it’s rated as very easy. I also decided that I didn’t particularly like the fabric even though it is the most beautiful Italian cotton, and I loved the colours, I just thought it might look a bit old fashioned somehow.

I decided on the short version without the collar. I think the trick with this dress is that the skirt is cut on the bias rather than being gathered. This is a very flattering look, although it does take a bit more fabric, but look how beautifully it drapes.


Sooo, I set to and was at the belt making stage when I had that horrible realisation that I needed two belts and I only had one and absolutely no spare fabric for the second one. You know how your heart starts to beat harder and the skin on your head sort of shrinks? I had that. The dress would not work without the tie belt. What to do? Luckily I made the discovery on Saturday morning and hightailed it to Knitwit to see whether they (a) still had the fabric, or (b) had something which coordinated. I scanned the shelves and finally found the right fabric tucked away on the very top shelf. Crisis averted!

I only have two issues with this dress. In spite of careful dart placement, they are still too high, so I will unpick and restitch I think, and it needs to be put on carefully – the belt is quite wide and tends to bunch up, and the bottom edges need to be aligned.

The details: Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, Vogue 1549, made from an Italian cotton knit from Knitwit. I had to take the photos inside because we were having a hail storm outside – in Perth, in the middle of spring! It was glorious!! Here I am trying to take an interesting photo after someone took the chair away for some reason.


Blog Hop

I’ve been invited by Carolyn of handmadebyCarolyn to participate in the blog hop – thank you Carolyn.

1. Why do you write

I really started writing because I had been a lurker on other blogs for a couple of years and it looked such fun. I wanted to be part of the community, even if it was peripherally, and I wanted to acknowledge those people who inspire me and whose ideas I “borrow”. I also wanted to share my efforts with my sister and niece who live in the UK, friends I don’t see very often, colleagues, and yes, total strangers who have become virtual friends and acquaintances. I also do a lot of writing as part of my work, which has to be carefully crafted and polished, and I love the stream of consciousness type writing that blogging encourages, writing as I would speak without worrying too much about grammar, passive voice and the rigour that goes hand in hand with scholarly writing, although I am still particular about my use of apostrophes.  One unexpected benefit of blogging is the ability to go back over what I’ve made and look at them with a more critical eye. The camera really does pick up issues of fit and when I remake something I do revisit posts to check what the problems were.

2. How is your blog different to others of the same genre

Ha! This was my big stumbling block as I am so in awe of what other people do and my contributions are quite lame in comparison. I think my blog is different in its almost complete lack of contribution of anything useful to other people, and I mean that quite sincerely. Perhaps the only thing that is useful is if the reader hasn’t seen a pattern and therefore might be inspired, or otherwise, to make it. I do try to combine my sewing, knitting and travel, and I like to occasionally include some Perth vistas to perhaps encourage people to travel to this lovely city, but this takes a level of planning that is sometimes beyond me.

3. what are you working on right now

I am currently working on a vintage dress from the early ’60s that has had to be resized – just like the Diane von Furstenberg above. Given that I am not good at this and some of the web instructions to grade patterns do my head in, it takes a certain resolution to get going. I have even made a muslin and identified a couple of issues which I have resolved, so I am feeling quite pleased with myself. The dress itself is quite detailed with underlining and lining so is taking time. I am enjoying the process of some slow sewing for a change, but, of course, this means slow blogging and my sister nags me if I have too much time between blogs :).

4. What is your writing process

Basically I take a few snaps and then craft some words around them rave on a bit – usually when I am in front of the TV. I do try to talk about the process of whatever I have made, what my thoughts and feelings were and the final outcome, but I am aware that my posts are pretty basic in the context of the information they provide. I am always pleasantly surprised when someone comments (thrilled in fact!) and I am kept going by  the supportive comments I get. One of the things I want to do is improve my photography. I inherited a classy camera from my son and I use it on automatic as I don’t have a clue about f-stops, etc. I will address this when I eventually give up work.

Anyway, back to writing: I thought I would share this illustration of the writing process which both amused and resonated with me. It’s for writing a book, but it’s the same process for me when I write my blog posts.

process of writing

I wonder how many of you can relate to this?

Anyway, that’s my blog hop and I hope you felt some mild interest. My nominees for the hop are Andrea from obsessive creativeness, and Patricia from http://pfarr.blogspot.com.au and Michelle from That Black Chic. I know that’s three, so clearly I can’t count to two, so my apologies, I got carried away with my invitations!

Bellini with a twist


Yes, I’ve made another Bellini from Capital Chic Patterns, but I’m not sure where my head was at because I didn’t try it on until I got to the buttonhole stage only to discover that I had made the smaller size by mistake. Far out  – I was not going to throw it away.

I unpicked the side seams and that pin hem and decided to put a stripe in the sides. The only way to show the side seam is to look like I am anxious to answer a question in class – sir! sir! pick me!!


I also tried the scalloped collar, which is one of the things that attracted me to this pattern in the first place.


Even when I sit like this the shirt doesn’t gape at the front so this solution was a total success.DSC00994


So what can I say? Snatched from the jaws of the recycling bin. The fabric is from my sister’s stash cunningly destashed to me. It is a sweetly printed cotton. I used buttons that I had leftover from my Mary Quant phase and which can’t be seen from a distance, so here is a closeup. The photo was taken before I washed out the chalk marks.



I teamed it with my Champagne skirt also from Capital Chic Patterns, and the stripes down the sides of the blouse are made from the same ramie fabric as the skirt. The belt is a piece of wide elastic with an Edwardian silver buckle. Shoes are Letizia from Letizia in Claremont. The necklace is from Heaven Wrapped and I made the bracelet. As usual, I am looking rumpled, this was taken after a day at work and a long drive home.

I’ve been nominated for the blog hop by Carolyn and will be answering the questions in my next post when I have finalised my nominees.


Casual Sweet Clothes jacket N




As soon as I bought Casual Sweet Clothes  by Noriko Sasahara I knew I had to make Jacket N.


It is a braided denim jacket and I thought it would be a really useful addition to my wardrobe.

And now begins a cautionary tale. I decided to make it a spring jacket and didn’t have any appropriate denim in my stash so I used a cotton spandex blend in white from Knitwit. I looked at the measurements at the beginning of the section and decided on my size. Duly cut it all out and stitched together the main pieces and tried them on. Looked ok. Finished the entire jacket except for the braiding and tried it on again – it was winter and too cold to keep taking my clothes off – that’s my excuse, and far out, or words to that effect, it was too big in various places and just did not look right.

I was just deciding that I was too far down the track to pull it apart and rework it when a friend happened to call round, I put it on her and she looked sensational. OK, not a complete waste then. Here is Doris posing casually in it. The cautionary tale is, of course, to make a muslin!


Back to the drawing board. I recut the pattern and cast about for more fabric and came up with a pair of heavy cotton curtains that my sister had offloaded on me. Right, I’ll make a muslin out of one of them.

I resized the pattern and checked at every stage. The only issue was that the sleeves were now a bit short, but I couldn’t do much about that. I also think that the jacket itself is a tad short.


Anyway, I decided that it is wearable and have now worn it a few times.

I have to say that this jacket is perfect for spring weather. It layers nicely and coordinates with quite a big chunk of my wardrobe. DSC01013

Here is an earlier photograph showing the slightly too short sleeves. DSC00951So all is well that ends well, except that I spent a fair chunk of my weekend producing two jackets instead of one.

Review of Casual Sweet Clothes Jacket N: If, like me, you are not good at making muslins, then do check the finished dimensions of this jacket and use these to determine the size to make. The jacket itself is a doddle to make, and I found the instructions easy to follow, but if you are short of fabric you do not need to make the braiding out of single long pieces of fabric; for the second jacket I actually joined the strips and it wasn’t at all noticeable. I know that most people would do basic things such as check the length of the sleeves and jacket, but I tend to go into auto pilot, so am writing a note for others with similar habits.  Be careful sewing the braid on. It needs to be loose enough to stretch flat round the curves, particularly the neck. If you do the braiding itself fairly tightly, it will stretch out a bit. I used bulldog clips to hold my braiding together at either end, which worked really well. Apart from that, this is a jacket to be recommended and I will make another at some point.

The details: Jacket is “N” from Sweet Casual Clothes, another wonderful Japanese book from Laurence King, made from a recycled heavy cotton curtain. In both outfits I am wearing the skirt from Vogue 1247 blogged here and here, and the tops are a Scout Tee and a Burda long sleeved top. The black necklace is a rather lovely Victorian mourning necklace. Blue shoes are XSA and the black ones are A. Bottega. The belt was thrifted.






It’s a wrap!


*Sorry, you are going to get this post again as something went awry and my text got cut off.

This skirt pattern has been in my stash for a long time and I don’t know why I haven’t made it before.


It is from 1977 and therefore falls into the “vintage sewing pattern pledge” category. A warning: the following photos are poor quality as they were taken with my iphone because I managed to leave my camera at work.


I made this from a waxed linen that I bought from Spotlight’s curtain department, and which was reduced down to less than $3 a metre. Can’t go wrong for that price. The colour was charcoal, but looking at it against black it seems to have some brown in it.

This was an easy make, so I should not really claim it for the vintage pattern pledge, but I’m going to anyway. I looked at the pattern size and wondered whether it would be too big, but it fits perfectly, although the belt is hard up against the seam opening. The effect of this, though, is that I have a very big overlap at the front which may prevent me inadvertently flashing anyone at work – or at the beach! IMG_0968
Yes, it was a very windy time of the day. I added a pocket on my right rear side to transport my phone around in when I was pounding the pavements, but I cut it on the straight grain and attached it to a bias cut skirt which means that it is a different colour: at least I think that’s the reason. IMG_0974
With some of the leftover fabric I made a bag. I copied a bag I already own which is, I think, a Japanese design. It is just visible here and I finally have my skirt under control IMG_0973
but it didn’t last long!IMG_0977
Clearly here I had completely given up on it, but at least there was no undies flashing!IMG_0979
Back to the bag. The problem is that my existing bag is too small for my wallet, so I expanded it a bit.
As usual, I got carried away and the bag is probably a little big, but I’ve got the shape and construction sequence basically correct now, so I shall be doing this again.DSC01001
I wanted a tough lining so used the leftover fabric from my Alder skirt, which is quite a thick cotton. I also like the pink peeking out. I even added a little pocket for my iPhone, and tried to future proof this by making it longer, but forgot that the new phone is probably wider, so if I do get a new phone it will kick about in the bottom of the bag. DSC01002Details:
Skirt is from Simplicity 7876 made from waxed linen from Spotlight. My top is my Bronte refashion, and the shoes are Letizia from Letizia in Claremont and the necklace was given to me by Tom and Bridgette for my birthday (probably should just say Bridgette as I’m sure she was the one who chose it!). The bag is also made from the waxed linen and lined with fabric from my Imagine Gnats Alder skirt.

A skirt and a hat


August was the Repurpose, Reuse, Refashion month and Amy from sewamysew hosted a competition.

I made a few things but won a prize with my pink dress that I made from three of Tom’s old t-shirts. My prize was for “the best use of dye”. I was pretty thrilled to win something as some of the refashions were amazing. I won a pattern and chose this skirt from Imagine Gnats.



There are a few things I really liked about this skirt, not least of which were those pockets!

I made a wearable muslin from some fabric kindly donated by my sister when she cleaned out her stash. It is a thickish cotton and rather bright!DSC00971


The skirt was pretty easy to put together and has some nice details. The seams are all topstitched and it has a flat front waistband and an elasticised back waistband. This is not evidenced here because I made the skirt a bit too loose and needed a belt.



I needed to make this skirt to see what was what. There are two views – the one I made has a little pleat in the centre front and sticky out pockets (technical term) which made me strangely feel as though I had panniers on my sides. I may not have interpreted the instructions correctly! The second version (and the one I shall make next time) has a flat front and flat pockets.

No matter, I really like this skirt. DSC00980

I am also sporting a new hat. I bought this pattern recently and thought it would be a great pattern to do some stashbusting. And so it proved to be.


I used some curtain material also inherited from my sister. I have made a (yet to be blogged) jacket from this curtain and this is some of the leftovers. Do you like my embellishment? Bridgette and Tom brought me this little silver donkey back from Greece and I love it so much. DSC00970

I lined it with some fabric from another yet to be blogged item – a dress this time.


When I took the measurements of my head, I had to get each of my family members to check because I came in at a Small which was described as “suitable for a very small child”! Clearly I have a pin head.

This hat has a wonderfully wide brim, which will be perfect for the summer, and it can be thrown in the washing machine unlike my various straw hats.

Here it is in action with today’s outfit.DSC00981

I think you can see how much shade this hat is going to give me. I really hate having the sun on the back of my neck and I feel really well protected.   DSC00987

I feel a denim version of this hat coming on – perhaps a stretch denim?DSC00976

The details:

Skirt is the Alder Skirt for women from Imagine Gnats, made from a piece of fabric offloaded on donated to me by my sister. I am wearing my grey Nettie bodysuit from Closet Case Files. The belt is too old to remember when and where I bought it. The hat is from a pattern by Amy Butler which I bought at Materialise in Shenton Park made from part of a cotton curtain also donated by my sister. The setting is the Swan River and Claremont Jetty on a lovely spring afternoon.



Make that Champagne with my Bellini please!


Just carrying on my cocktail themed makes from Capital Chic Patterns; I’ve made the Champagne skirt, which I absolutely love.  DSC00963

I’ve been seeing this skirt everywhere and decided I needed one – STAT!

I got the pattern and fossicked through my vast stash for an appropriate fabric finally settling on a ramie/viscose blend with a smidge of spandex. It’s black which I hate to sew with, but a handy colour – one can never go wrong with a little black skirt!

I teamed it with my Apricot Bellini, which I have subsequently let out (thanks Sally for the suggestion), given that it was too tight when I first blogged it. It is much better, but my new striped one fits brilliantly. It’s strange though because my first Bellini is the same size as the apricot one and it fits perfectly.

Anyway, back to the champagne skirt. You can see here that I chose the flat band at the front and had the frill at the back.


Look at that invisible zip! I think that this is the best one I’ve ever done. Sally’s instructions were quite different to the way I would normally sew in an invisible zip and I am so glad I followed them, and will be using her method for all my other zips. I used a hook and bar to close the waistband so it would be flat enough to wear a belt. I also followed her instructions on sewing the lining to the zip – normally I would hand stitch it, but I am thrilled with the result of this too.


My review of this skirt:

I usually hate taping up PDF patterns, but I have to say that Capital Chic Patterns come together really well. The instructions are extremely clear and I followed them slavishly resulting in a really well finished skirt. I chose a striped silk lining from my stash which gives a luxurious feel. I did have to shorten the skirt a bit and unfortunately I wasn’t organised enough to shorten the actual skirt part so the bottom band is a bit narrower than it should be. I am quite stumpy and the longer skirt makes me look frumpy, so this was a necessary modification. Next time I will reduce the length of the actual skirt. I also went up a size after my Bellini experience, but it is a bit big, so will drop a size for next time.

This skirt is perfect for work and to team with a more casual shirt for weekends, or more formal shirt for evening. It works well with a jacket so will take me right through the year here in Perth.

The details:  Apricot Bellini styled with a vintage necklace from Paris. Champagne skirt in Ramie blend from Potters Textiles. Belt is thrifted, and shoes are too old to mention.

One last photo of me doing a quick twirl to show bottom band.




Blue shirt day



Today is Blue Shirt Day in Australia. When I googled this event I see that BSD is held the first Monday in October to raise awareness of bullying, but our BSD is on the first Wednesday and is to promote awareness of mental illness among men.

Whatevs, I didn’t have a blue shirt, so had absolutely no choice but to make one!

I used the Grainline Archer, which I have made once before, but I forgot that the sleeves are a bit long. Next time I will shorten them a bit as I have had the cuffs folded in half all day – mind you, I quite like the look!

I got to work to discover that there were very few blue shirts about – what? I had made a shirt specially and we weren’t even celebrating? No cake?? Not to worry, I now have a fancy blue shirt with a frill at the back to give me some semblance of a backside especially when it’s windy!  I have to say that I love the back view of this shirt.DSC00929

There is a sew along to make this shirt and I started to look at it, but decided to go my own way in the end. I prefer my method of attaching the yoke where there is no handstitching, and I think I will use my method of sleeve placket next time.

I can see in these photos that the shirt looks tight under the arms, but I don’t think it is in reality. I might have to check this out before I make another version. DSC00928

Apart from  that, this is an easy shirt to make.  DSC00923

Next time I will use my overlocker to do the gathers a la the Craftsy blog. I didn’t quite get my gathers as even as I would have liked. DSC00904

I took these photos in Kings Park in Perth. The first lot of photos are at the Bali Memorial overlooking the river which is dedicated to the victims of the Bali Bombing in 2002. You can read a bit about the design here.

The other photos are taken on one of the honour drives in the Park. Each tree is dedicated to either a serviceman killed in the line of duty, or, in the case of these trees, a dignitary.

Details: Pattern is the Grainline Archer made from blue silk dupion bought by Mark in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Buttons are pearl ones from my stash. The necklace is a vintage French one bought from my favourite vintage shop in Auckland NZ.  Pants are by StyleArc.


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