Monday, November 14, 2011

Whatever happened to curved darts?

Looking through my 60's vintage patterns, I noticed that a lot of the dresses had those curved darts down the front.  I've also noticed that the waist measurement of all these patterns is a lot less than today's standard waist measurement for the same bust and hip measurements.  This got me wondering whether that was why we never see these darts on contemporary patterns; that maybe they just are not necessary anymore.  So I decided to make up one of these patterns to test this out and chose Simplicity 8882 for this purpose.  I added 6cm to the waist and 4cm to the hips to bring the measurements up to date for a pretty standard Australian size 12 (92cm bust)

Well, the darts are great.  The dress looks better on a real body than it does on my dummy. Sorry I dont have a photo to show you.  I can see how the darts contribute to making a lovely silhouette and I really cant understand why contemporary patterns have stopped using them.  I reckon this Asos shift dress would be much improved with them.  The fabric kind of just hangs like it is waiting to be stitched into a curved dart.

So, looks like curved darts are still good even on bodies that dont have the classic hour glass figure that women were supposed to have in the 60's (and before).  Having solved that puzzle I can merrily go on and make up more patterns from my vintage collection.
Here's what the back view of the made up Simplicity 8882 looks like

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 8882 (c. 1969),  view 5
Fabric: 1.8m Annamoa  medium weight cotton fabric from IKEA plus 30cm pink and white spot lighter weight cotton for facings from my stash
Notions: 50cm invisible zip

Thursday, November 3, 2011

200 Years of Wedding Dresses at Bendigo

It's been on since early August but it was only last week that I managed to get to the White Wedding Dress exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.  Most of the gowns are on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum but there was an Australian section as well.  I was surprised how busy it was (on a Thursday morning) and that made viewing the exhibition not such a relaxing experience but I'm glad I got to see it.  Not all the dresses were white, nor were they all traditional wedding gowns.  I enjoyed the diversity, a good balance between what you might expect and what was surprising.  My favourite gowns had a curtain connection.  The first was one made during the second world war out of curtain fabric, which, unlike other fabric was not rationed with coupons.  The dress was very elegant and sophisticated but had a 'joie de vivre' about it.  The background was  a pale gold satin which was embossed with white daisies with yellow centres.  It was full length, might have had a tiny train, cant remember but it was slinky.  The other gown was simple, light and airy but also had a freshness.  It was designed by Melbourne designers MaterialByProduct and was designed to be hung as a curtain when not being worn as a wedding dress. Funny though, I didnt like any of the dresses as much as my mum's which hangs on my workroom wall.  Being there  doesnt do justice to the understated elegance of it but given that it almost went to the Op shop, I am pleased to be able to enjoy it everyday. She was married in 1960 and the dress was probably very typical of the time.  Full skirt emphasising a small waist, tiny train, three quarter length sleeves and guipure lace

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

melbourne cup

I did stop sewing yesterday to watch the big horse race but I had no idea who was running in it, other than last year's  winner, who must have been a favourite.  The fashions dont interest me much either.  Usually fussy and totally impractical for the weather.  I do however love the story of the "dress that shocked a nation".  I've known for a long time that the dress Jean Shrimpton (a british model) wore to the start of the Melbourne Cup races has been remembered as the birth of the mini skirt.  Can you believe how shocked I was when I recently came across a photo of it!  It is 10cm above the knee.  I'd pictured it 10cm below the buttocks! he he he.  How the times changed!  Apparently it was a hot day and she wore no stockings or gloves. Sensible girl.  Looks lovely. She would have needed a cardy yesterday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Little things of happy

Do you have 2011 Michael Leunig calander?  The one that came free with The Age.  If you do, you will know that the cartoon for this month has this little poem:
Happiness is just a little thing
Humans mostly are too large for it.
If you cannot feel the joy of Spring
Shrink yourself and maybe then you'll fit.
Its made me think about the little things that make me feel happy

Josephine pears - scrumptious at the moment

Sweet peas - my favourite flower.  Love their fragrance and their understatedness - and the soft shades they come in

 Oregano growing in a little tiny space between a wall and a path. Weeds were growing here so I thought I would plant these herbs - and they are growing. getting bigger every day.  Much better than sour sobs

This brown dog is having a holiday here.  She loves to chase balls, go for walks and sleep on my feet while I work. Nice that!

Just a few small things of happiness.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I've just discovered Savers, Melbourne's Recycle Superstores.  Dunno how come its taken me two years to find them - and even then it was only lucky that it came up during a conversation with a friend about op-shops.  After hearing about them I headed off to the one at Footscay the very next day. There I found some little treasures of fabric.  Two pieces are pictured below.  The first is an iconic Ken Done print, I think from the early 1980's.  I got two skirts out of this.  The second was a souvenir of Western Australia table cloth.  100% linen.  I love the colours in both of these.

The next week I was at a market at Brunswick and popped into the Savers there and found some more amazing pieces of fabric that I will be upcycling soon.  Cant wait!

Friday, September 30, 2011

more red white and blue

Those scraps left from the quilt cover have been put to use as lovely deep pockets - that makes four garments now.  There is still some left. Not much but given my current attraction to the three aforementioned colours, it is sure to appear somewhere soon. 

While we are on the topic of red, white and blue,  I recently posted the above skirt on etsyEtsy have appointed an Australian manager and they really are the best known site for hand made everythings.  I think Etsy is a much better place to sell now that shoppers can elect to see the prices in Australian dollars rather than USD, as well as being able to select  'shop local'.  So I'm going to give them a go.  I'm not including shipping to countries other than Aus. and NZ - the cost of international shipping from Australia is just outrageous.  Over the next few weeks I plan to put a whole lot more stock in the etsy shop and in a day or so when I get time I'll add a button to the side margin on this blog.

Tomorrow is Sisters Market at Brunswick.  Hope to see you there :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Red, White and Blue, I do love you!

Some time ago I bought a quilt cover.  It was a second. Not much wrong with it that I could find but  I happily cut it up and used it to make new things.
First I made this skirt, using cut off jeans for the top.

Then I made this skirt

and lastly I have made this dress

It still needs a belt but that will have to wait until I get to the shops to get some petersham ribbon so that I can finish that.  The belt is in the check fabric.  The pattern for this was a 1960's one

  Just for fun I added the fox applique - coz I know only a foxy woman would want to wear this rebellious little dress - well it was back in the 60's when women were challenging the status quo in all sorts of ways.

The first skirt has already gone to a good home.  The second one is for sale in my Blue Caravan shop
When I finish the dress it too will be for sale in one of my on-line shops.   There is still a little bit of the quilt fabric left.  Not sure what I will do with that yet but in the mean time - here's to red, white and blue!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vogue 1225

Oh so many pieces!  The pattern looked daunting.  Did I really want to make this dress?  I'd chosen to make the dress out of a piece of Kath Kidson jersey - from a quilt cover second.  And having taken the trouble to pin the pieces on to the fabric I figured I might as well continue.  The image of the dress is kind of deceiving as it looks simple but this is a Designer Vogue pattern (Tracey Reese) so that should have alerted me. 

Surprisingly though, as I begin to construct the dress, following the pattern one step at a time it is much more simple than I had anticipated.  Just as well as jersey is not very forgiving if it needs unpicking - and the dress very much depends on the drapey qualities of a knit - all those gathers!
It's not fast going but I am enjoying sewing this dress.  Way to go yet but think this is a pattern I would make again.  We'll see how it looks when it is all done.

Monday, August 8, 2011

is there life after masterchef?

For fourteen weeks i've been organising my life around watching or at least being able to tape Masterchef five nights a week. I did discipline myself not to watch any Friday night episodes  - that would have meant almost a complete take over of all other night life!)  Now it's over.  I didn't mind who claimed the title in the end: both Kate and Michael would have been worthy winners.  But what now?  What will I do tonight?  I feel the absence already but I also feel relieved - like I have a new found found freedom.  Full of possibilities. Like going for a walk after dinner.  Like curling up in a lounge chair  with a good book.  Like getting back to craving good wholesome, healthy fresh food instead of drooling over succulent meats and decadent deserts.
Perhaps I had an inkling this was coming last week in the Post Office when a little book of 100 Everyday Vegetarian Recipes caught my eye. I bought it and I'm looking forward to putting some of the recipes to the taste test but not tonight.  Tonight I'm going to cook scrambled eggs. No recipe.  No fancy ingredients. No plating up skills required.  But in terms of an evening meal it ticks all the boxes - and makes very few dishes, to boot.  I think there just might be life after Masterchef... at least until next year's series begins.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Melbourne Made Market tomorrow

Tomorrow I'm heading off to a new market...Melbourne Made Market at Canterbury Girls' Secondary College Drama Space, Irilbarra Rd, Canterbury. The market is part of the 2011 Girls' Bust Out: a bi-annual event, run by Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College. At the centre of this event is an exhibition of sculptural busts made by students. Surrounding this is a whole weekend of inspirational creativity, hands on workshops, delicious food, music, works on paper and sculptural bust artworks from a host of well established and respected artists from around Australia.

Girls' Bust Out provides a unique platform for both established artists and students to exhibit alongside each other and provides an insight into the creativity of practising artists.

The event this year is supporting the Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre. 

(Photos from the Girls' Bust Out website)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Do Go Out in the Pouring Rain

I had the most wondrous time in Sydney the week before last.  The torrential rain was a bit of a dampener but I didnt let it stop my fun altogether.  Caught the bus in the pouring rain to  Newtown to discover lots of funky shops.  A welcome warming hot chocolate for morning tea was had at A Coffee and a Yarn
Being in All Buttons Great and Small was like being a kid in a lolly shop

and i wished I had lots of money to spend on Turkish plates and lanterns

Riding the free bus around the CBD was a respite  from the rain.  Wettest July in Sydney for 50 years!
I'd seen the 52 Suburbs exhibition on Art Nation and was so pleased to be able to go and see it in the real at the Museum of Sydney.  Most days I found some time to go to Dymocks.  The little booths in the cafe were pint sized havens of peace in a busy city.  It did fine up on the last day I was there which made for a perfect day of walking along Oxford Street to the Paddington markets and back again to my Pitt Street hotel.  Such fun and so many inspiring, interesting things to see.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Slow Day

I'm in the Grampians.  After a sleep in, and a breakfast of steaming oatmeal porridge, I took an hour long walk to get the paper.  In the shop  Slow magazine caught my eye, so I bought it.  Reading the magazine later over coffee I discovered that today, this very day, June 21st, is International Day of Slowness.  It's a day set aside to make a statement against haste, an opportunity for reflection, and a day to celebrate all things slow.

So I spent the afternoon doing a spot of slow sewing, gazing at the magnificent mountains

and the beautiful trees I can see from my window, pausing every now and then just to think about 'things'

Tonight I am going to read my novel, slowly.  If today's anything to go by,  I wish everyday was slow day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Knit one, save one

Save the children Australia are calling knitters to get those needles clicking in a campaign to knit 15,000 woolen blankets for distribution throughout India, Cambodia and Laos.  Each blanket will help a child stay warm and feel comfy and safe. Most importantly, the blankets will help to ward against pneumonia, one of the biggest killers of children under five in the developing world. You can read more about where the blankets will go, why they are needed, as well as find their simple knitting pattern  and where to send the completed 16 square blankets here

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Iridescence of Colour

On my way to view the Top Arts: VCE 2010 exhibition in the NGV I detoured into the Indigenous Art Collection section of the gallery and was blown away by the work there.  At the moment there is an exhibition titled "Living Water: Contemporary Art of the Far western Desert".  The use of colour was energising and uplifting. It felt so good looking at such glorious art. The little book published to coincide with the exhibition says:
This living art form is a reverberation of iridescent colours, forms, textures and stories, both public and sacred, and of tactile sensations that point up transcendent powers sensed in country.......Far western Desert art is one of increasingly few contemporary art movements unashamedly focused on the practice of painting and the iridescence of colour, and whose most audacious practitioners are women. 'This is the art that, forty years after its eruption into the art world has become the most vibrant, dynamic and living art of the present, [that makes] other forms of painting look weak by comparison. '(Elizabeth Grosz ' Living art and the art of Life)                    -  Judith Ryan Living Water NGV 

Ginger Wikilyiri - Tjitji kutjara pitjangu yii - Nyii Ngampuka 2009

Tommy Mitchell Kurlilypurru 2009

Western Desert artists designs issue from their whole body - 'not just from fingers trained to hold a pencil'.  Having viewed the  dancing vibrancy of colour and pattern,  I felt truly joyous, somehow psychologically soothed, calmed and set free.