heartache and a sewing hiatus ahead :(

So, I hinted that I may not be sewing or posting much in the near future.

This Easter, I am heading a group sewing dolls for the Uthando Project (uthandoproject.org/about-us/), we will be making 10 dolls and the possibilities are endless, the project is really worthwhile and the idea of making a difference to a child’s life is appealing to me. 

After Easter, my sewing room is being dismantled and machines packed away, the room is being returned to it’s first use as a laundry. This is to make our house more attractive to buyers (the real estate agent says no-one wants a semi-detached laundry and no-one will believe my sewing room is actually a functional laundry either- bler). Over the next few weeks (or months if I can tolerate it), my partner and I will be decluttering and doing a bit of cosmetic work on the house to ready it for sale. Apart from getting rid of a whole lot of stuff, there isn’t an awful lot to do; a bit of painting, tidying the garden and replacing a section of perimeter fencing and we’re done.

What does the future hold? I am not sure, but I am looking forward to it.

It seems I am in a significant minority of women who are saying goodbye to partnerships of decades and going on to a future by themselves. I am not afraid, it is a mutual choice, but I am the one who has taken over the driving so-to-speak. There has been a lot of heartache, so please don’t think this is a step that has been taken on a whim, my husband is finding it very hard and is pessimistic about his future, but I hope he can eventually embrace the change and see it as an opportunity for positive things to happen.

Our children (17 and 22 years) are doing okay-ish (as am I), they see it as a positive step and are willing to embrace the future, but they worry about their father (as do I), they know that we love them and that they are always welcome to have a home with me (my daughter is coming with me, my son is looking at living independantly).

Being free to do as I wish, when I wish is looking very appealing; I have lived alone as a younger person and just loved it, my needs are few and I have enjoyed the challenge of living frugally at times in my past. I would like to buy another place, but realise that renting may have to be a stop-gap measure, rather than panic-buying and living with the regret.

I may get the opportunity to post at odd intervals, just to let you all know what is happening, but wish me luck and watch this space:)


Now all I need is a party!

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently bought a 1960’s Hostess Gown from a lovely vintage shop in Dunsborough, if you are ever down that way “do yourself a favour” and check it out (Oroton mesh bags, skirt suits a la Jackie Onassis etc etc, it’s a treasure trove!).

Anyway, this lovely dress caught my eye, the fabric colours are my two favourites. I don’t know the maker Noble Frocks of Sydney (last mention I found online was 1969), but I think they must have been a high-end manufacturer. The dress was very well made, with pattern-matching and tailoring techniques- it made unpicking the whole thing quite a chore, but oh, so worth it:)

dsc_0533.jpg  I didn’t even bother trying the dress on in the shop as it was very tiny around the waist (and those days are a distant memory for me) and the bust sat so high, I don’t think I was ever that pert!!!

The first step was to harvest some fabric from the lower hem, I took about 20cm as the dress was very long and I am not particularly tall. I added 5cm to both sides of each shoulder to drop the bust points to where I am and also to keep the balance at the back. Then I added another 5cm to both sides of the dress. Unfortunately the pattern matching had to go as what I had available just couldn’t be wangled that way. No matter though, the pattern is pretty busy and the areas I added the fabric are not glaringly obvious.

The sleeves were left open at the bottom edge. The fabric is synthetic and I wanted to have as much air flow around sweaty bits as possible. I had enough fabric left to close the sleeves with a seam, but decided against it, I may well change my mind in the future, but I am happy with the decision at the moment.

I finished the bottom with a finger-rolled narrow hem, to be honest, it’s a bit of a dogs breakfast, that chiffon just moves around so much when trying to cut accurately, methinks I will need to investigate Tear-Away… anyway, the hem is far enough away for it not to be an issue (really?).

Now all I need is a party to “hostess” !

I wonder if the original owner would recognise her dress now? It has gone from a long, elegant gown for a slim and pert 1960’s woman, to a shorter and slightly less elegant one for a slightly plump middle-aged woman.20160229_195433.jpg   20160229_194830.jpg

It is funny though, I am gradually coming around to liking this stage of my body’s evolution; it is a strong and capable one that has borne children and worked hard.  it is pretty fit and getting even fitter as I write; it is good:)


UPDATE: This may well be my last post for a while. Personal stuff is pretty overwhelming at the moment and I haven’t much energy for sewing or commentary; hopefully things will settle over the next few months and I can get back into this…




Cycling and time away

I am visiting my Mother atm and her computer is playing up, so I have emailed the local service centre to try and sort things out for her. Unfortunately, WordPress looks a bit strange on her Mac, so I will try to post, but may not succeed.

It has been a month since I last posted anything and a lot has happened since then, so “Happy Belated New Year” to you all.

It has been a difficult start to what may well end up being a difficult year for me and my husband; I won’t elaborate for now.

Other stuff has been okay, my son did well in his Uni results and has re-enrolled for his last undergraduate year (it’s been a rough ride that one!!!) and my daughter is awaiting Uni offers after successfully completing Year 12 and achieving the required score for her chosen uni and course (Update- she has received her first round offer and is now enrolled-yay!).

My husband completed 2015 by being retrenched (after 20 years and an award for top sales in Australia in 2010…Merry Christmas Parkland Aviva :P), but he is now on a 3 month probation with another company which he is enjoying. After 15 years of racist, misogynist jokes and 1950’s management practises in the last company, I think he deserves a bit of respect and a nicer work environment, so good luck to him I say!

My work promises exciting things this year with our new Head, he has a passion for the research and a fresh approach to engage our stakeholders, watch this space…

Meanwhile, the minimal parking that was available at work, has disappeared entirely and I have been cycling for about 6 weeks now. I have made a new bike seat cover, dsc_0518.jpgI am in the middle of making a new, single pannier and I have also made a “pretty” backpack for the ride to and from dsc_0515.jpg

I also had to comb through my sportswear to find appropriate clothing to wear; it is a half hour ride to work and the weather is very hot (we’re talking mid- high 30’s Celsius most days). Most of the active wear I have is in the form of shorts dsc_0509.jpg (the polka dot pair) and tanks and while the shorts are good, the tanks allow for a very burnt experience when the sun is high; tops with sleeves were required.

I looked around as I wanted a very simple pattern to quickly run-up a couple of sleeved tops without too many construction issues, the Kirsten tee from Mariadenmark looked pretty good, so I downloaded it and gave it a try. Let me say, I LURVE this pattern!

I ventured into the realm of synthetics for this, mainly because the selection of knits at Spotlight was a bit boring tbh. As a 60’s child brought up with Danish Deluxe furniture, Scandinavian prints and Figgio china I love the Scandinavian designs and found this lovely print by ……. in (shock, horror) 100% polyester, (I know, I know, I said I would never go there, but Melissa Fehr advises against cotton for activewear). dsc_0520.jpg dsc_0522.jpg dsc_0523.jpg dsc_0524.jpg I did my favourite lettuce hem and have enough fabric left over to make a pair of real cycling shorts:)

The fabric misbehaved horribly while I was sewing it up, sliding all over the place, dropping fluff and laddering dsc_0525.jpgbadly in random places. As this is my first experience sewing polyester knit, can any of you enlighten me as to what I did wrong as far as the laddering went??? I was disappointed with this aspect of the fabric as the print is so nice, it really detracts to me (although it is probably not noticeable to most due to the busyness of the print).

I did a 1 1/2 hour ride around Busselton this morning, the weather was pretty gentle (low 20s today), the top was hot, but there was good airflow through it, so I was okay about it. I can’t imagine making too much in polyester, I am too much of a natural fibre gal, but it was good to experiment and say I’ve done it.

I have since booked Mum’s bike in for a service as I came off onto the Bussell Highway after finding out the back brakes actually don’t work, swerving to avoid a car I came a cropper and have the bruises to prove it!! My daughter says I bruise like a peach dsc_0539.jpg ergh!

The computer is also booked in for a troubleshooting session.

The other day Clare and I went down to Margaret River and then across to Dunsborough, it was a lovely day and was finished in a vintage shop where I picked up this gorgeous 1960s maxi dress.

dsc_0533.jpg dsc_0535.jpg dsc_0536.jpg I feel as if I will be wearing a Van Gogh painting. The colours are my favourite, but shock horror. it is polyester…again!!! I know, I am having to swallow my natural fibre pride and acknowledge that  polyester holds onto colour beautifully. It doesn’t fit me atm (it’s a size SSW- ha remember that sizing system?), I intend chopping off around 45cm from the bottom and inserting some of it into the side seams to enlarge the dress.

Tomorrow Clare and I are driving the 2 1/2 hours home, we will be taking it easy and hopefully going via the South West Highway, but that depends upon whether or not the road is open after the bushfires from 2 weeks ago, it will be a sobering experience seeing the devastation for ourselves.

I’m not really looking forward to getting home seeing it’s been inhabited by 2 slovenly men with questionable ideas of hygiene and tidiness; don’t fancy having to clean the place as soon as I get home😦

Wish me luck that it’s not too bad!!!


Street Begging Dilemma

Homeless man begging on street at night (B&W)

Homeless man begging on street at night (B&W)

What do you do?

Up until a few years ago, Perth was relatively free of people begging. The occasional approach from a teen at the train station was all I had to deal with, nowadays it is a very different story.

I first came across people begging using signage, in Florence 24 years ago, back then, they were few and far between and the majority seemed to be migrants to Italy, with no access to social services networks.

Here, the rise in numbers (at least in the city and inner suburbs) seems extreme. It is not uncommon to see people in shop doorways, writing about their circumstances onto pieces of cardboard, the addition of the words, “God Bless” seeming almost standard and a token plea to those of us with a faith. 

I am not talking about the “Working Poor” here, the beggars (what a demeaning title that is) we have in Perth are not employed, not couch-surfing and not living in their cars. having recently viewed “99 Homes” and seen the effect of the Global Financial Crisis on homelessness in the USA, I am certain that none of the people I see begging fit into the Working Poor demographic.

I don’t give out money. Our government and non-government services in Australia are good for the homeless and those who are on hard times; in the past however I have given away my lunch and bought meals and drinks for the less fortunate, nowadays I am starting to rethink this.

My brother has recently become a member of the Police Service and he is a real softy for the hard luck story. These days however he has a different take on people who beg. The use of methamphetamine (in the form of “Ice”) has skyrocketed here (apparently) and with it, the numbers of people with social problems and homelessness. 



He has implored me to never give money to someone begging, he smiles indulgently and says if I want to give them food, then go ahead if it makes me feel good (makes me question if I am patronising them by doing so???). He also says, that the amount of food available for and given to the homeless is vast and that there is no reason for people to go hungry…unless they are more interested in the drugs (including alcohol) which are ruining the majority of their lives.

Recently, a young woman who occupies a space at my local train station (sign states, “homeless and hungry”, wants to go home to New Zealand but hasn’t any money to pay for an airfare) was looking very ill. She was obviously in pain and was distressed, she had a friend trying to help her. I felt very bad not asking her what the problem was, but she looked liable to lash out and clock me one. I walked away, my mind festering with shame over my self-preserving attitude. I later found out that she was withdrawing from ice and ended up in hospital. A few days later she was back at her place with her sign looking okay-ish. She has been offered all number of resources and she is not interested in a warm bed, decent food or going home to New Zealand, as every cent goes to feeding her habit.

I don’t want to be hardened top the plight of people less fortunate than me, I don’t like not helping those in need but what do I do?

What do you do?

What can we do?



I am not really sure I have …but I may have been.

I have started making this year’s dress for Christmas Day and had earmarked the beautiful fabric my Mum’s cousin Karen had given me, I was convinced it was silk. However, I bought a top recently that I was also so convinced that it was silk that I didn’t bother even looking at the label. Turns out it is rayon. I actually rather like rayon, it has a fineness that feels luxurious, but has a lovely weight that makes it drape beautifully, plus I kid myself it is a natural product (well, it is made from wood fibre), shame it has to go through yukky processes to make it wearable.

Anyway, back to my fabric…

I thought I could cope if it was rayon, better to be silk, but rayon I can cope with. I thought I would perform a burn test to make sure what it was.

Hmmm…melts away and forms a hard, unbreakable bead…doesn’t act like silk or rayon, kind of acts like…a synthetic- (puts hand up to form cross and hisses loudly). Don’t take this as a judgement on anyone, lots of people love synthetics and get great joy sewing with them and wearing them, I’m just not one of those people. I am a sweaty person and living in the gorgeous dry heat of Perth, means that wearing synthetics tends to be a bit well, wet (ugh). Hence me and synthetics have been a no no for some time…up until now.

Anyway, when I got around to sewing the fabric, my Pfaff decided to have a hissy fit on me😦 No IDT…aaagh! So I pulled out my old Bernina (for which I don’t have a walking foot) and crossed my fingers; I needn’t have worried as it all behaved well:)

The pattern I used comes from this book book1 one of several Japanese Sewing Books I own and a delight to use. I used this pattern book2 Choosing a mash-up of views a and c, as well as adding a tulip sleeve. I French seamed the sides and for the first time, I did finger-rolled, machined hems and they turned out quite well, the photo doesn’t do them justice as I hadn’t ironed the dress well enough.

The sleeves look nice, but are not as floaty as I would have liked, I also had to sew the two edges together as they are too small to sit flat against each other, I wish I had been a little more generous with the fabric (especially as I have at least half a metre left). dress sleeves1 (excuse the hanging threads!). I initially thought I would wait ’til Christmas Day to wear this dress, but instead I have been asked to be Godmother to my niece and so, it will be worn tomorrow for the first time.


Overall, I am happy with the end result of this one, the fabric remains a mystery (I have settled on a polyester/rayon mix) and I don’t look too lumpy in it. Perth Sewers, have any of you considered entering the Royal Show? The exhibitors this year were downright ordinary and I was pretty unimpressed. The Staff were despondent that so few entries were received in the dressmaking section and were eager for me to put the word out for next year’s Show- give it some thought? I am considering entering this dress as it was a bit different to the usual items they had displayed:)

I know it was a couple of months ago, but I just had to share these two pics with you.

The first is a yarn-bombed (fake) ram from one of the district displays, doesn’t he look cute?  sheep The second is a combination of sugar tiles made by various clubs who specialise in sugar-work, it is obviously based upon one of Monet’s paintings of his garden in Giverny.  Even the frame is made of sugar!!!sugar The skills of crafters is something I have really come to appreciate since starting on the dressmaking road:)