The hippy skirt/pants thingy…

Remember this?  P1030576 Well I made it in the linen I bought from Potters recently… P1030575 (the putty-coloured on top).

P1030584I had a brunch this morning with friends, one of whom I haven’t seen for 34 years and I guess a part of me wanted to impress (a little bit anyway!). P1030582 The top is tencel and metal and was new from the op-shop for AUD$9, a bargain for a designer label garment. It went with the skirt beautifully :)

The construction was pretty straightforward and went without a hitch, I did however grade up as my experience with Japanese patterns is that they are rather petite (width, not height). Any way, when it came to fitting, the extra 1cm I added to the side seams had to come off, otherwise there would have been a severe over-bunching problem. As it is, I am thrilled with it, the linen is so light it is almost like wearing nothing, just perfect for a hot summer’s day (not happening yet though).

One puzzle for me was the button placement. The way they were on the pattern was on the outside of the garment, but buttoning the “legs” together meant there was a weird twisty thing happening between them- yukko. P1030583 I instead, put the buttons on the inside and so, when buttoned, they are on the outside, sitting flat. As pants, they definitely have a hippy vibe happening!!!P1030587. I chose these coconut beauties P1030585because I thought they were a nice little detail.

Finally, it was lovely seeing friends  10492095_824195087603322_8915429208904556210_n  1654222_10204700995072023_3022337650452996510_nand sharing good food looking over the beach on a cloudy, spring day  10411217_10204700735865543_2659565293570561350_n (pics copyright P. Kelly and A. Melia)



What to Say – and What NOT to Say – When They Tell You They Have Cancer


It is always good to get this kind of advice from someone who knows…

Originally posted on Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce:

What to Say and What NOT to Say When They Tell You They Have CancerSo many of us don’t know what to do or say when we find out someone we care about has cancer. My recent experience with breastcancer has given me an opportunity to find out first hand what was helpful, and what not.

Before I get to my list of what NOT to say to someone who tells you they have cancer, let me put things in context. First, some of the things I suggest you don’t say may be appropriate in a flushed out conversation with someone you love. It’s my opinion they’re not helpful as a first response when someone tells you they have cancer.

Second, if you recognize something you said to me on the list, please know that I was not offended (with the exception of number 7) and I knew it was coming from a good place. I’m just saying it wasn’t helpful.

What NOT

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Fitting, fabrics, funky dolls and fabulous fruit

I recently spent a day doing a fitting workshop presented by Connie Crawford (, she had been brought for a tour of Oz by the Australian Sewing Guild ( which I am seriously considering joining.  Not to put the workshop down, but I came away a little disappointed and intimidated, everything was made to look very easy and it was all interspersed with hard-sell of said presenter’s products. The one thing I did want to buy was her pattern for a basic blouse block, but due to luggage weight constraints, she had limited stock and quickly sold out of my size :(

Now I am not known for my patience in regard to sewing. I wanted a block and I wanted it yesterday!!! Fitting woven bodices has been an issue for me, I think partly because I just can’t quite accept that I am no longer the lithe, slim twenty-something I used to be. If the truth be told, I probably delude myself when it comes to measuring waist, bust and hips and consequently have issues with garments being too tight across these areas. At the workshop, we were measured by expert seamstresses with no emotional baggage regarding me at all. The measurements were there in brutal black and white (and it was a sorry sight let me tell you!).

So, I came home with measurements, a fair idea of how to fit (using Connie’s method) and no pattern to work with.

I searched through my pattern hoard and found a couple that looked like they might be malleable for some plastic surgery, but I then thought to myself, “I have a truck load of sewing books, there must be something somewhere I can use?”.

I ended up using a book my friend Janene gave me. It belonged to her mother and was published in the late 1950’s (we think).


Janene said she thought I would appreciate the book more than she, so I was it’s grateful

recipient, it even has her mother’s name still on the cover :)

The book has very simple drawings, fairly typical of the no-frills books of the time, it also has a chapter on pattern-making and from this I made my block. I had heard of the mathematical method of pattern-making which supposedly gives you true-to-whatever-size garments and this seemed to be a version of that system.

P1030567 this is the pattern I ended up with (with muliple modifications because I am ridiculously reluctant to follow instructions carefully and mistakes were made P1030571. After said modifications were done, I ended up with this tremendously alluring garment block in a touching shade of “old sheet pink” P1030572

P1030573 Whoever thought such sexiness could be attained with just a few hours work (and yes, I said “hours”)? Despite it’s obvious lack of appeal, the thing fits very well, I still need to tweak the location of the bust dart, but on the whole, this is what I will be using to make tops and blouses in the future.

P1030575 These are my latest fabric purchases.

I went into Potters(some info here: ) to look for some spotted cotton jersey (to make another Tiramisu for work) and instead found linen in a stunning selection of colours. I knew exactly what I wanted to make with the putty-coloured one

P1030577 I have loved this skirt/pants thingy since I first bought this book P1030578

here it is in both guises P1030576 (skirt to pants with a few strategically-placed buttons- clever eh?).

I adore Japanese pattern books and have a few here at home, it is the fresh minimalist look, the natural fabrics and the gorgeous bodies modelling the designs (ahem- yes I know, they look different on a 51 year-old short and stocky woman, but hey, give me a break please?).

Okay, now for the funky dolls.

My beautiful niece’s youngest daughter was diagnosed recently with leukaemia. She is still little more than a baby (not quite two years old) and everyone is devastated with this awfulness. We all know that she has a good chance of recovering, but it is also true that she has about three years of treatment ahead of her and that her chances of developing another cancer when she is older are increased. It all looks pretty grim at the moment.

I bought these dolls some years ago as presents for my daughter, but she wasn’t that keen (we both love Kokeshi dolls, but these were a cutified version with did not appeal to her), I think they are gorgeous. Info on Kokeshi dolls can be found here:  These dolls have a little compartment underneath which holds a small scroll upon which you can write a message. P1030580 Lauren will get the boxed one and her big sister will get the one with pigtails (because she likes pink). I need to think of something to write in each of them and although both girls are a bit young to appreciate the thoughts, I know their lovely parents will treasure them, I just hope the message isn’t lost in the translation from English to Dutch.

Finally, fabulous fruit! The season for mulberries has been stupendous this spring, I have given away kilos of plump, juicy goodness and even made a batch of mulberry jam. Now my favourite lunch in this muggy, warm weather is prunes in cold yoghurt. I know prunes get a bad rap, but I have always like them and swamped in yoghurt they are just delicious. One problem…no prunes :( Off down the back to pick a bowl of mulberries and my lunch is set :) P1030581

Off to tuck in now, see ya!


Frocktober with The Monthly Stitch

Remember this??? DSC_0835 It now looks like this dress front (it looks a bit of a sack, but trust me, it is lovely when being worn).

Other views: dress back (the back )back detail (back detail) bodice detail (bodice detail)

embellishment (detail of embellishment linking the bodice with the skirt border)

For details on what I did to achieve this upcycle, head over to the Monthly Stitch where my notes are more in-depth

One day I am going to get my own labels made, but for the meantime, my attempts at “JQ bespoke” done with my free-motion foot, will have to suffice! label

My parting note is this gorgeous outfit, I wish I made a note of which website I got it off, ooh I can just see myself in this yummy stuff (though unfortunately, it would not look like this on little and not-so-little me!) yummy




Holiday at Mum’s Place 2

Whilst visiting Mum, my daughter asked if we could go down to the South Coast to the Treetop Walk near Walpole. (You can read about it here

Initially she wanted to camp overnight (big intake of breath), but decided against it because the weather was a bit dodgy (thankyou God!), seeing as it was going to be a day trip, Mum joined us. Overall, it was 7 1/2 hours of driving and made for a very long day, but it was through lovely country and on the whole, it was nice :)

We stopped in the small town of Nannup for morning tea (vanilla slices and apple turnover, mmm), the weather was cool and a bit drizzly at times morning tea in nannup

Nannup is a pretty town on the Blackwood River, this is the Hotel, a gorgeous example of Aussie Pub architecture Nannup hotel in the foreground is the bowls club, a common site in country towns across Oz. The use of corrugated iron as a building material was pretty common way back when (and is enjoying a resurgence in the form of low-profile or mini-orb styles), this antiques shop really just looks like a tarted-up shed! nannup antiques Much as I would have liked to go in, we had another 2+ hours of driving just to get to where we were going, so time was of the essence- no antiques-browsing on this trip.

When we arrived at the Walk, the parking lot was pretty quiet, a few Japanese tourists, a German couple and the rest were mainly school children. The standouts, were a mixed group of people from Kalgoorlie

( walking the Bibbulman Track from south to north- they had come a long way and had a looong way to go! The track takes about 7 weeks to walk in it’s entirety and you can find out more about it here

But we were here to do the Treetop Walk and look at the Tingle Forest. The clouds cleared and the sun shone while we were 40 m up in the branches- it was magic

tree top walk  barre at 40m up! (um, Clare that is not a barre!)  trre top view through to the Porongorups I think that line of low mountains (well, Western Australia’s version of mountains anyway) is the Porongorups. The views were beautiful and there were some lovely Splendid Wrens (which move too quickly to get a decent pic of them, but here is one I found trawling online) Splendid_Fairy-wren-ct280-280x211 this is a boy and his girlfriend and yes, during Spring, the boys really are that splendid! (pic courtesy

The drive home via Manjimup was a bit traumatic as we ran out of petrol (by the gauge that is) with about 30 km left :(  I ask you, a highway that has no service stations for it’s entire length, what planet are we on people??? It was with a grateful sigh, that we hobbled into a station outside of Mum’s town and put in $20 worth. We got home as the sun was setting just after 7.00pm, exhausted but relieved and happy.

Holidays at Mum’s place 1

It has been a while since I posted, I’ve been away visiting my Mother (my daughter and I chewed through her internet allowance in 2 days and were thus reduced to dial-up speed…no posts!).

I have probably mentioned before that Mum lives in a coastal town about 3 hours drive away. Being October school holidays, it was pretty busy in town, but not her her little slice of heaven just 5 minutes drive away. A couple of hundred metres to the beach with no roads to cross, just lovely. T’was not all beer and skittles however, my daughter had her first driving lessons courtesy of moi and, although she did well, it was hardly what could be termed stress-free!

It is Spring here in Oz and the weather is pretty variable, back home it has been cool-ish but very pleasant, however, it rained off and on for the whole time we were visiting Mum. That didn’t stop the flowers blooming and the birds and animals getting out in the sun however, it was just magic.

She has a female Western Ring-tailed Possum living in the front garden DSC_0922

A female Bobtail (blue tongue skink) living in her gazanias DSC_0927-EFFECTS

and there are a few Western Rosellas (parrots) nesting around the place (this is a boy) DSC_0931 (sorry about the blurry phone pic, he was really handsome)

I spotted this crab hiding in the rocks on the shoreline :) crab

and don’t ask me what this is, it is a small piece of something that was washed up on the beach… any ideas?

DSC_0923-EFFECTS It was firm, but a little squishy!

Talking about squishy, I am definitely going to have to tackle all the squishiness post hearty winter meals, what a truly horrifying spectacle (and this pic has been edited :(  ) eek!!! I did a bit of exercise while I was down with Mum and discovered the joy of high pressure water cleaners. This pic exhibits about half an hour of fun for me!!!

DSC_0937 I finished this area later and then started on the front pavers, but alas, my time was up and I had to get back home to tend to the neglected troops; this job will be continued during the Christmas break.

Springtime in the back garden

I cannot keep up with the weeds and I am drowning in nasturtiums. editedbackgarden1.jpg DSC_0879 self-sown tomatoes are fruiting prolifically

The bees are everywhere (and so, I need my Epipen with me) backgardenedit2.jpg   DSC_0882-EFFECTS Pelargoniums also like this weather

The grasshoppers are nearly ready to leave now they have their adult wings grasshopperedit.jpg (this beauty is about 8cm long)

The smells are wonderful  fairygardenedit.jpg the blue star flowers smell like garlic DSC_0881 cumquat flowers- yum!

Hey chooks, stop eating real food and eat the weeds!!!

DSC_0877   DSC_0883 hot pink kalanchoe always cheers me



The birds are gathering material and calling to each other

I want to be out there!!!