A family story

This year is the fifth anniversary of my Father dying, unfortunately it also coincided with Mothers Day. When I ‘phoned Mum to wish her Happy Mothers Day, she asked me if I knew what else it was and I replied yes. Dad died three months short of their fiftieth wedding anniversary and he was so ill for such a short time it was hard getting our heads used to it. File0001_15_3

He hadn’t been feeling well for a few months before he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, he was immediately airlifted up to Perth to have further tests and start treatment; three and a half weeks later he succumbed to kidney and liver failure brought on by the chemotherapy.

I wish I had hugged him more.

We were a family that wasn’t very “huggy”, so it isn’t surprising that just because Dad was ill we didn’t change much, we kept on with what we knew and he kept on being stoic. He made jokes when his hair started falling out and he was given an atrocious synthetic beanie by the cancer support person in hospital. Mum stayed strong, performing some of Dad’s intimate care as he was a very private man and she was a nurse. She stayed strong until she went into the city to find a radio for him, as the hospital radio reception wasn’t up to much and Dad wasn’t an avid television watcher. After traipsing around Perth for an eternity, she took a rest in a shoe shop and promptly burst into tears. The staff in the shop were lovely to her and I wrote them a thankyou letter after Mum told me what had happened.

He wasn’t an easy person, but they were best friends and she misses him. no way was he going to smile!_1

They met on board a ship outside of Naples. Mum was on her way back home to Wales to look after her own father whose health was failing, Dad was going back to The Netherlands to be best man at his brother’s wedding. She was beautiful and he was undeniably handsome File0006_3, they fell in love and got married six weeks later. Dad brought his lovely bride to Australia and they settled in a small Pilbara town called Wittenoom. Dad was the paymaster for the company and Mum had two children within two and a bit years Dad 1.

A couple of years later, they moved down to the south-west and added another child to the mix. We lived in the hills outside of Perth, a wonderful place to grow up and Mum loved it, but Dad was always restless, looking for something better and eventually they moved again, this time down to the plain.

Time moved on and eventually, it was just the two of them living together in a southern coastal town, a lovely place. We all visited them for holidays (and continue to visit and spend time with Mum).

My Dad worked hard to give us all a comfortable life, he wanted the best for us and made sure we got it; my brothers and I were very privileged (which I didn’t understand until I became an adult). As I said before, he wasn’t an easy man, but he was my Dad and I loved him, “warts and all”. I daresay, Mum would confess that he wasn’t the easiest husband either, but he was her soulmate and she misses him.

We all do…

I wish I had hugged my dear Dad more.

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That Girl

When I was a middle teen, one of my favourite things to do on a quiet Saturday winter afternoon was watch Doris Day movies and catch reruns of Marlo Thomas in That Girl e1ed556b7ece548376605d71df9d2ceb. I loved Marlo, she was cute and feisty, sort of an edgier Sally Field, but a decade later. My latest make is channelling my inner Marlo! As a shorter than average woman, I have always liked those late sixties belted shift dresses, with the fake-ish dropped waist and so here is my homage to that style (forgive my daughter’s unmade bed!)  :)

marlo 1 The pattern is the Port Elizabeth top (lengthened obviously), it is a free pattern drafted by a seamstress that I downloaded from Burdastyle  here and has become one of my TNT patterns, both as a top and a dress (4 tops and 3 dresses to be precise). Amateur patternmakers rule!!!

From the side, you can see I extended the belt only part of the way around the rear, this was to avoid it catching on chair arms and the like, I added the buttons much to my daughter’s chagrin, I apparently put too many random buttons on stuff :P  marlo2 I am really happy with it, is this style too young for a 52 year old woman? Don’t know, don’t care, I just know that I feel happy when I am wearing it and that is a mighty big box to tick in my view :)

My next dress will use the same pattern, but I will add sleeve length for winter and make the neckline higher so I don’t need a skivvy underneath. I bought this beautiful wool, viscose and elastane (I think) from Knitwit in Nedlands (here) it is quite heavy and drapes beautifully, lovely and warm for winter boucle close up, the colours are slightly brighter than this photo and I am hoping I have enough left over for a small infinity scarf to brighten up any dull, winter colours boucle 2

Lastly, I need some advice… this dress just doesn’t suit me. potato in a red dress1The fabric is a soft viscose, nylon blend and feels lovely, therefore, I would like to refashion rather than give the dress to charity. Despite the “smile for the camera”, I think I look like a clothed potato in this, it clings to all the wrong places and I feel very lumpy and self conscious in it, I think I have worn it out once in 4 years- what a waste! I make no apologies for the graininess of the pics, believe me, more definition you don’t need!!!

So, suggestions everyone? potato in a red dress 2 I am thinking a top and skirt, but I am not sure there is enough fabric and think maybe I should use the top fabric for gore inserts to make the skirt swing, that would leave the cowl to be worn as… a cowl- whaddya think peeps?

Let me know pleeeease?!

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Making use of time off work…

Vogue jacket resized Well I have used my stress leave to make the jacket I had been planning for some time and here it is :)

I had a few issues with the make and considering I have already made this once before (when I had very few sewing skills), I was surprised by the problems. In retrospect, I think I have just become a lot more fastidious and demanding of myself, back then I was happy if I managed to make something to wear!

I used the bright orange corduroy for the shell and some hot pink acetate for the lining, the combination is warm to wear and look at (perfect for me as I do feel the cold and loathe winter).

jacket shell resized Here is the shell on my bed, sorry about the fussy background.

The issues I had were with the lining. The pattern is not lined and this is where I made a few mistakes, I had a lot of unpicking and a lot of handsewing to make the lining sit well and the jacket to hang satisfactorily.

the guts resized You can’t really see it here, but the lining is not bagged. I cut it a little short and when I bagged it, the shell was pulled up horribly.

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Instead, I attached the lining at strategic points with embroidery and after overlocking the edge, I turned it up and secured the hem with french knots in embroidery floss. I used to do a lot of embroidery and I think I was pretty good back then, it is quite deflating seeing one’s skills deteriorate over time when not performing the skill. The stitching is pretty average and the vision I had for something spectacular and sumptuous went out the window…plus, tbh I became a bit bored. The acetate is frankly pretty awful to do fine stitching on, although I know that is no excuse.

All-in-all, I love this jacket. As a relatively short woman, it doesn’t engulf me and the fabric choices are perfect for our mild Perth winters. I love colour and I think this ensemble looks very nice and perfect for me!

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Cheers,

Jenn.

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Life is hectic

…yes, I know it is for everyone and some people manage to blog very regularly, but when I am snowed-under my blog takes a back seat.

Anyway, I have succumbed to the pressures of working with a person who is making the office hell and I am now on stress leave. It feels pretty uncomfortable actually, but we have been dealing with this person for 3 1/2 years and really, it is getting no better. My family are sick of it, I am sick of it and my other work colleagues are sick of it…so, yesterday I had a meltdown (my first ever, unlike the person who caused it who regularly has them), I went home sick and now my doctor has given me some time off to recuperate and gather my thoughts. I have been told by the Occupational Safety and Health person to do stuff I like and not think about work (I am finding that very difficult), so to that end, my daughter and I went to see Dior and I!  MV5BOTAzMDE4MzMzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjE4MzM2NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_ I smiled from the first frames to the final credits, it was so enjoyable and really made me hunger to get home and do some seriously gorgeous sewing!

My next project will be this Vogue jacket Vogue jacket I have already made it once in soft blue wool felt and it is one of my favourite winter warmers, I love the look of swing coats and the raglan sleeves makes this one come together easily. This time I am making it in a dark orange (tangelo?) pinwale (how do you spell that?!) cord. Winter is my least enjoyed season, so I like to brighten things up a bit, too much dark and dreary worn during the colder months around here. corduroy The collar on the blue jacket gave me a bit of gip, so I will be utilising this info collar help from this sewing bible sewing bible to get me to a result I’m happy with. This book was recommended to me by my most recent sewing teacher and it is a beauty, a well-loved classic and I’m sure there are a lot of you seamstresses out there who have it on your sewing room shelves :)

Other sewing I have done recently are some loose covers for a sofa and miners couch that were getting a bit sad…sofa cover  miners couch cover

The fabric is an upholstery-weight cotton from Ikea, a really bright red which lifts our family room and gives it a bit of a boho feel, I am enjoying the colours.

I am also awaiting the birth of a niece or nephew in June and am very, very excited :) I have two nephews already, but they both live about 4000km away and we see them only very rarely, this one will be the first home-grown Perth baby for 17 years. Because the baby will be born in winter, I have opted for flannelette and have made a sleeping bag sleeping bag in non-gender-specific colours, the remnants were made into a pair of pyjamas for a teddy we are giving the baby when he/she appears teddy 'jamas  ted and bag .

And lastly, tomorrow, my daughter and I are taking our dog to meet another rescue dog. Hopefully they get along, as we are hoping to adopt the new boy and bring him home as a new member of our extended family. Our boy has really missed his old pal Ziggy (our Bichon) who died a couple of years ago and we are hoping a new friend will bring him companionship and reduce his anxiety around the house. Astro is a gorgeous but slightly ratty middle-aged poodle  IMG_0005who has brought so much to the family (despite his foibles!) and it will be nice to see him playing again :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Urban Art- found the missing post !

I have been in a fug lately, with little energy to do any more than the absolute necessities of life. Still, my daughter recently requested a companion to go with her to that Art Gallery and so I went. Whilst walking home, we came upon these fabulous paintings in a back alley, love it!

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The last pic refers to a time of thriving clothing manufacturing, sadly gone now, but there are still garment wholesalers in this little pocket of the city.

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The mojo is back…

I have been in a fug lately. Negative thoughts and emotions have played havoc with my personal, professional and emotional life. Thankgoodness I have good friends and a love who is supportive.

I tried posting on my smartphone and it didn’t work, which just confirmed my negativity about the world.

But… I am emerging (somewhat slowly) and this weekend actually found a bit of my old mojo had returned :)

I decided to start small, I had a few pieces of jewellery which needed mending, earrings, a ring and a necklace, all of which had been shoved aside in multiple pieces. I don’t have a pic of the ring, but it is a lovely piece of paua shell stuck onto a ring base, well the two things had been detached from each other, so it was a simple case of “Supa glue where are you?”- easily fixed.

The earrings too, were a simple fix, just a pair of jewller’s pliers put everything back where they should be. I then got a bit motivated and made myself a pair of silver and freshwater pearl drops, I felt a bit pleased with them

P1030705 P1030704 The next job was to restring a set of malachite beads I had bought in Florence in 1986. I love these and I have missed wearing them for over a year. Anyway, the holes in the malachite are very small and restringing them was proving to be a headache, so I reverted to beading wire and am pretty happy with the end result, lots of lovely green for me!

Well, once I got going you couldn’t stop me.

A couple of weeks ago, I fulfilled one of my daughter’s dreams, by buying her favourite top from her favourite shop. It was half price at $60, more than enough in my mind. It is a one-shoulder knot top in thick blue linen (no pic sorry) and I liked it so much I thought I would make one for myself. I made a toile to start with, as the knot is just tied in one piece of material and guesstimating the length was a bit problematic. The toile ended up being a bit tight, so I added 2cm to the long straight seam and voila- perfect!

P1030709  I made it in a beautiful linen bought as a remnant piece from Potters for $17, the fabric behaved very well and sewed-up without difficulty.

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I will be wearing it my brother’s graduation from Police Training Academy. At the ripe, old age of 43, he has had a career change (from environmental scientist and teacher) and will become a brand-new father in June; it is a very exciting year for him :)

A letter to Tom (the agonies of adolescent romance)

Dear Tom, You are a dear, sweet young man. I know you find C irresistible and you want to be her boyfriend. You have only ever been respectful and generous to her and I am very grateful. I am worried for you though Tom. You see, she doesn’t feel that way about you, she only wants to be friends and she is finding your attention more irritating than anything else. When this happens, I see her being short-tempered with you and I feel sad. Let me tell you a story, it’s a story of me at your age (hard to imagine I know!): When I was 17, I was in love and obsessed with my first boyfriend. There was another lad who waited patiently for things to change (and they did, I was dumped!). The only thing is, things didn’t change between him and me. I didn’t want him and the more he waited, then pursued, the more I didn’t want him. He too, was a lovely, sweet young man, but he wasn’t for me and I am dismayed to say that I abused his friendship and was not very nice to him. C knows this story and she knows that I think her behaviour towards you very similar. Tom, you can’t make someone want you, C will be a loyal friend if you let her. I think you are grand and I hope that you find a girl who likes you as much as you like C, but that girl isn’t C and I think you both deserve to be happier than you are at the moment.

An update…

Dear Tom,

You are a gentleman, thankyou for being so gallant with my daughter. You recognised something was amiss and you gave her an opportunity to be gracious herself. She lacked the courage to be upfront with you initially, but your openness allowed her to express herself without being nasty.

Thankyou for accepting that friendship will be enough, I know you wanted more.

You are a credit to your parents, they should be very proud of you xxx