The “All Singing, All Dancing” Dress

The Sew Weekly and its women have entered my subconscious. I awoke dreaming about “Sew Weekly – The Musical!” one morning this week. There was Mena, front and centre flanked by Najah and others – singing about what we do, everybody was wearing fabulous frocks (my brain had even composed its first song – alas lost to my memory now!). The story followed Mena’s life, her starting the Sew Weekly, her personal life (only what she has divulged to us) and the wonderful connections
around the world that this “Virtual Sewing Circle” have created. Well I’d buy a ticket to that wouldn’t you??! Especially if we had Kazz with Lenny Kravitz and Tempest with David Bowie in it!! Dibs on Morrissey for me! I think it would end in a big fat wedding. But I do love a wedding.

So here’s my last contribution for the year. It was one of the two concepts I had for the Las Vegas Challenge (please can we do that again Mena?!), then it was going to be for the 1960’s Challenge, then it was going to be for the Redo Challenge, but I was so pleased to get it done after many months of neglecting it to bring it to you for the Happy Holidays Challenge.

It went together much more easily than I thought it would – the pattern is a dream, the fabric was pretty good, even the lining wasn’t too difficult. What I can’t believe after a year of sewing – is that I still think I am a size bigger than what I actually am. I broke my rule and didn’t make a toile – so I cut it out too big (or it grew) and it’s really too wide across the shoulders and too big in the bodice. It’s not awful and I could stand it for a few hours at a special event. I was happy that the bows came up nicely and that it has a very early sixties look but still with a very fifties silhouette.

My garden is seriously neglected, my mending pile is huge, my recipe repertoire is abysmal, my vintage jewellery collection is exploding – my shoe collection has tripled in size (these last two I don’t mind so much).

I do hope to keep sewing along next year but it will be less frequently – it’s a big commitment I think everyone will agree! But what a ride!

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone – Peace and Goodwill to all people, thoughts and prayer are with the families and friends of the Sandy Hook Elementary School pupils.

Sorry for the lack of photos today – will add more after the holidays.

The Facts
Fabric: 1960’s Thrifted Lurex Brocade $15
Pattern: Butterick B5748
Year: 1960
Notions: Zip, lining
Time to complete: 8 hours over several months
First worn: for the photos
Wear again? Yes, anyone having a party?
Total Cost: ~$30






Don’t just bin it! Donate and give back!

Sam, the greenest girl I know in the sorting bin room at Anglicare Op Shop at Summer Hill,105 Carlton Crescent, Summer Hill

Sam, the greenest girl I know in the sorting bin room at Anglicare Op Shop at Summer Hill

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald has the following article on Businesses that appear to be a Charitable Organizations, but, who end up sending your donated clothing to third world countries, where they are resold. I feel there is a place for businesses such as this – but they should be honest about the fact that they are, in fact, a business! I also think we should think a little more thoughtful about our unwanted garments rather than just taking the easy way out and chucking everything into a drop box or a plastic bag left in your letter box.

The low-cost of clothes means that they are very disposable these days, eg Kmart shirts for $7 – it’s tempting to go nuts and buy – but I am concerned about the sweatshop labour that has made these clothes and the ultimate environmental impact of this. I feel fashion designers at the high-end make investment garments, intended to last for years. These are sometimes on sold to Second Hand Designer Clothes shops – or make it to eBay. This is great and extends the life of garments. These garments are the vintage clothes of the future. But in my less than illustrious career in fashion, one of my position was in the low-end of the fashion industry. Where clothes were made super cheap in Fiji or China, – it’s all about getting the product for the cheapest price for stores like Target, Kmart, Best and Less etc. And yielding the highest profit – there was a little saying taped to the wall went was something like “Making discount clothing in low volume was like eating soup with chopsticks”. Which means, to make money producing cheap clothes, you must produce in large volumes. We as consumers should be more responsible with the earth’s resources. If we refuse to buy, they will stop ordering so much which gets marked down to ridiculous levels at the end of the season. This is a massive issue – one which I think we all need to take responsibility for.

When you take a load to your local Vinnies, Salvos or Lifeline – you are contributing to the poor of your local community, if they feel your donation is below their standard – they will ultimately pass the goods on to one of these company’s that on sell to the third world. But you have given your local charity the chance to get a few dollars, that they can feed the homeless or down on their luck people in your community. Believe me, they are out there, many times I have been shopping in, my local, Chatswood St Vincent de Paul and people have come in to ask for some help with getting clothing or other needs met.

I therefore have a grading system for my unwanted clothes.

CLOTHES SWAPS – I save my best, lightly worn clothes for clothes swaps that my friend Sam runs. You and your friends could get together and do this too. She charges $10 – buys some wine, we all bring 10 pieces and usually go home with a few really fun nearly new pieces and the profits go to a charity of her choice. Its a total hoot – most memorable was one of her friends modelling the 1960’s Speedo bathing suit, that I donated, she has worn it to parties and elicited the same reaction – what fun, maybe one day it will end up in a museum, as it should.

DONATE – For clothes that are a little more dated, that I am sick of, but that are only lightly worn and in good nick, they go in a box – until the next time I visit the op shop.

DROP BOX OR BAG – For clothes that are faded, pilled, stained, have small holes, dirty collars, have buttons missing or maybe the elastic is gone from the waist – they can go and have another life in the third world, where fashion is not a concern. Sometimes I do feel bad about that too big waist but I hope they are creative enough to make it work. I have been to Fiji – they can’t go to Kmart and buy a whole new wardrobe for their kids cheaply.

PRESCHOOL – They need spare clothes for “accidents”, they love Dress Up Costumes, and they love fabric and paper/cartons etc for kids craft activities.

LANDFILL – Really?! I don’t put garments in the bin unless they are my husbands old clothes, covered in glue, which have been worn for best, then work to work, got covered in glue then used as a cleaning rag mopping up oil or something in the garage.

If you want to read more about Sydney’s great op shops I have blogged about it here.

I hope this inspires you to plan and be more thoughtful about your consumption this Christmas and how you might give back more next year.

I have one more sewing project to share with you after it goes up on Sew Weekly.

Then I will be sharing my holiday Instagram photos and will be blogging my phone so it will be very brief!

Blessings to you and yours and may all your dreams come true in the New Year!!

Love and Kisses!


That place that has “Cool” in it

That’s how Noah described the place I disappeared to recently – he says the most poetic things at times. I hope he always does, but Alex doesen’t speak like this anymore! He’s all about the facts!

But, enough about the kids.

Here are some quick snaps of the things I bought on my trip to Coolangatta

From “That Shop” came this “Sourpuss” patent handbag – it fills a gap in my handbag wardrobe!


I also picked up this little bolero cardigan there too. It has very cute Day of the Dead skulls embroidered on it.  I do buy quite a bit of knitwear – well you can’t sew everything!


From the 21st Century Collectables place next door came this gorgeous 1940’s rayon fabric. I had some fabric similar to this that my grandmother gave me. I loved wearing the shirt I made from it and I have photos of me wearing it at a dance party in the 90’s. I need to dig that out for a laugh!!

If anyone has any idea what kind of plants or flowers these might be – I would love to hear it!


And finally – How cute is this tin? Still working at getting the very stubborn label off. I have added a couple to my collection recently. They are great for transporting food to places in the car and won’t break or chip if I drop them! Important for a klutz like me.


Please note – these photos were taken in my phone – still reading the manual of my new camera – watch this space.


Adventures in Photography

Look at this! It’s been stuck in Customs for two weeks and I could have kissed the courier who delivered it this morning!

I had my last day at work today and spent some time working on some accessories for a new range my company may bring in next year. Quite exciting! But I can’t give anything away. All I can say is “The Owl and the Pussycat”.

Feeling quite tired after a busy term of work, running the house, chauffeuring the boys around to school, jujitsu, swimming and Alex’s guitar lessons as well! Can you relate??!

Next week I have a couple of days to prepare for a few Christmas parties and holidays. I hope I can squeeze a bit of sewing in as I really want to sew up some of the amazing vintage fabrics I have found recently!

Also dying to see what Mena has planned for the Sew Weekly got next year. It’s been an amazing ride trying to sew something every week – I have managed a garment every fortnight roughly. I am pretty surprised I got do much done.

It has also been challenging not only sewing but doing hair, makeup and a photo shoot – crazy!! Thanks to my patient kids, my dear husband Mark, my Dad (the Gatsby Dress), my brother (the Anchors Away Shirt) my lovely friend Toni ( the Lighthouse Dress), It is so nice to have someone help you with the photos – especially when you are in public.

I hope my photos will look a whole lot better from now on – or maybe after I work out how to use it properly!


Coolangatta Gold

Does anyone remember the movie?  I saw it back in the 80’s and thought all of Australia was like that!  I actually thought the Gold Coast was the name of Sydney’s beaches.  Not that Sydney’s beaches disappoint. So last week I got to go there – isn’t it good-looking!


The view from our hotel room – those distant skyscrapers are in Surfers Paradise 

Coolangatta is the town that hosts “Cooly Rocks On‘ – Formerly “Wintersun” – a Nostalgia Fest for Fifties lovers.

It was a busy few days – I attended my company’s Sales Conference in Coolangatta. We had a couple of days in meetings and some nice dinners out – I love not having to cook!

I also managed a little shopping! Coolangatta has a couple of op shops and a great reproduction vintage clothes shop called “That Shop” – where I bought a nice handbag. You can find “That Shop” at 2/33 McLean Street, Coolangatta

Just next door is the 20th Century Antiques And Collectibles. I spent a long time there – feasting my eyes!!  I may have bought a couple of items there too!

There is another vintage clothing shop just down the road a bit called “Retrosheila”. Alas it was closed when I went by but it looked like they had a lot of 70’s clothes – fun!

Here are a few photos from my phone so please excuse the poor quality.  My early Christmas present – a new camera – is currently stuck in Customs – I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Tea Cups $35 each at the Antiques Centre



Aussies have a tradition of lovely outdoor furniture from my favourite era – these were beautifully upholstered



Lucite Beauties!



20121203-135832.jpg20121203-140654.jpgOut and about on Griffith Street


Mosaic Tiles in a Shopfront

20121203-140751.jpg“That Shop”


Dinner at the Surf Club



One last look – at dusk

It was a real treat for me to have a few days away, Mark did a great job with the kid’s school run and meals – and they loved the extra time with their Dad.  Maybe next year we can all make the festival!