Sunday, December 20, 2009


It's so easy to lose oneself in fun and enjoyable, yet probably time - wasting and self - absorbing things, like cutting out pretty fabrics and making gorgeous lacy things and frills and flounces and tiers and girly things i may never wear or sell (but fingers crossed, of course that I will)....

After a once - again extremely necessary spare - bedroom cleaning, (the fabrics were getting outta control again - I have been utterly mean this time in cleaning and reboxing and sorting... I even THREW OUT some fabrics!!!!),
 I "came across" some really pretty fabrics that I just needed to sew right away.
The fabrics are all sorted into boxes of colours now - where once they were sorted into fabric types - and I found some lovely quilting fabrics in blues and pinky browns that I couldn't HELP but to cut up into little rectangles and start sewing immediately!
I mostly make "crazy patchwork" - where i just mix any fabric in any colour and any sized patches, although I have made a few quilts where I have followed some kind of structure....this was not always a planned thing.
This time I DID plan to make a specific pattern using different shades of the colours.
I suppose being so anal as to have my boxes of fabric sorted into type, meant that the blues and pinks were already sorted into cottons suitable for patchworking; lots of tiny florals, and tones and shades of both the pinks, browney-pinks (of all bloody things, hey, Elise?) and blues.

 I simply had a pile of fabrics, made a template and started chopping.
I did stop to think that "normal patchworkers" probably have a number in mind of HOW MANY patches to cut before they start.... I hadn't thought of that... (my rotary cutter died not long after I started so I had to continue manually after I had started... It wasn't such an unpleasant job).
Another "norm" for me is to lay all my work out on the floor. There is always enough room for big things like quilts that way, but I tend to do the same for pretty much everything I sew. I am also guessing "normal quilters" (by normal I mean the ones who are NOT just making it up as they go, as I do) would have some kind of plan on how the pieces go together once they have been cut. The floor this time, allowed me to put the colours together in the pattern - ish kinda thing I wanted to do.
As usual the cats have an opinion on everything, and our new buddy Humphrey is no different. He enjoyed helping "place" (or should I say rearrange...) the patches after I had laid them out on the floor in order.... and his ideas on how LONG one should sew, slightly differed to mine.....there were even times when I WANTED to keep sewing and COULDN'T!!! Go figure!

Dear Humphrey had a PARTICULAR opinion about the making of my parasol... He loved it, and thinks it's the greatest toy in the WORLD! Mostly because I didn't want him to touch it, I think!

A month or so back I pulled the light shade down out of my room because it needed a wash, but upon doing so, realised it would have to be cut and re-sewed to wash properly, or just hosed off, if not.
I went for the cut and no-re-sew option....
I have had the desire to make a parasol, and the plans floating around in my head for some time (this also seems to be one of my norms - floating plans) and after cutting the fabric off the lighht shade noticed the cute shape of it, and set straight to making that parasol.

The frame was covered in fabric binding-y stuff already, so i made a template for the panels and gathered all my laces and the pretty fabrics and all other projects were put on hold for a little while.
I had an idea in my head of making a cat handle for it, and one day while sitting at Red Rock while Josh was swimming,  I took some newspaper and found a stick as fat as (what I thought) a piece of dowel was, and started to make the papier mache-able shape.

I did papier mache him once I got home, and cloth machie'd him as well, with a canvas-y white cloth. Each layer needed to dry in between glueings so I could easily do the lace-y, fiddly bits while he dried.

I used TONNES of lace and used an "heirloom style" of putting the laces together and sewing them onto the panels after they had been pieced together.
I have a book that teaches how to make an heirloom bonnet and dress, and I simply used the same technique for putting the laces together: one row of normal flat lace, sewn to a row of gathered lace, topped with a row of either eye-hole (ribbon - hole - whatever it's called) or the like, sewn to another row of flat or gathered lace if desired.
The panel pieces I made using a lace fabric, and a lining of satin.

I had lots of laces I would have LIKED to have used, but tried to stick to bright whites only. The OTHER favourite that I DID'T use for the panel pieces, I used instead to cover the cat handle piece and the top pointy peice for the parasol.... while the piece of lace was laying on the ironing board one day, I thought two out of the row of flowers looked a little like eyes and so decided they SHOULD then be the eyes of the cat.

I haven't used the electric drill in quite some years, and after an interesting start, and some great advice from dad about a pilot hole with a nail, I managed to drill a hole sufficient distance from the top of the dowel to be wired into place inside the light shade frame... which quite handily has the little metal plate thingy with a hole through it (for sitting between the screwey - inney bit in the light fixture and the ceiling bit)... a little big, but close enough to the size of the dowel to make it relatively easy to wire it into place.

I cut up a wire coathanger to make the cross - wire pieces, and covered them and the handle, and every other exposed piece of wire, with lace..... all this while letting the next layer of glue dry on the cat (the OTHER lace)... and working AROUND another cat.
It is a little hard to see in this photo, or any for that matter, but I hope you can see enough to get the idea.
To finish teh HANDLE cat's little face off I would like to go to the bead shop and buy some clear rhinestones or something pretty and shiny maybe blue even, for the pupils of the eyes.

In my mind a little "harajuku" style wouldn't hurt some of my designs and so after all wiring and lacing and glueing of the final bits on top, and using the left over pieces of satin and lace fabrics, I made a large bow for the outside top of the parasol, with lovely long tails that hang down past one's shoulder when holding it!

I am pretty pleased with the final results of my endeavours. It turned out pretty damn close to what I had pictured and planned out in my head.... I like it when things go the way I plan them!
Humphrey was totally supportive and encouraging of every one of my ideas along the way, and every layer of lace was deemed perfect... I like it when others like my ideas too!

Now although everything else went on hold till the parasol was done, it was like a flood of inspiration hit me while making it, and so finishing the parasol and continuing with the quilts and some other projects as well, sort of blended so there was no finish and no start kinda thing.

With the pink quilting fabrics, I wanted to simply line up the colours from light to dark.

For the blue quilt I had pictured in my head a kind of swirling vortex, spinning from a central very light to an outer very dark.

I have never done a quilt like this, so I thought of my cross - stitches when I was laying out the colours, and how each stitch of colour builds towards the final picture.

I had a lot of fun with it!
So did Humphrey AND Biggles! (Possum did too, she just isn't in these photos... (it's OK Possum - you have your very own page-bloggy-thing!) Humphrey is asleep in the far right of the photo after God only knows how long he spent deciding which colours should go where).

I tend to never do things by ones, so several skirts and bustiers I had on the go were very close to finishing this week, and after lots of testing and then the purchase of some new eyelets, I finished those.
I had 4 bustiers cut out and mostly sewn up this time last week, and all only took about twenty minutes to finsh the sewing of, and then a little ten minute eyelet -ing and they were done!

While doing the white bustier that I had in the works, though, I fell in love with it, and decided it was to be mine, and that I needed a mini tutu to match, and that the parasol could then be worn (held?) with this outfit in (hopefully) a harajuku outfit one day. 

Once again all went on hold till the tutu
was finished, but the other three bustiers were finished quickly when I did get back to them.... which in itself was kinda fun, coz it feels like I'm sewing really fast, when in fact I'm not - just the majority of the sewing was done another time, and the finsihing touches don't take so long really.

Anyway, the cute white tutu petticoat I made myself a few months back will fit nicely under the tutu and with black boots.... mmmmmad!!!

Just had to mention that. Teheh.

Ok, so, one of the pink bustiers that I finished was made to go with the "medieval maid" costume... It was all finished waiting for the bustier.
The costume consists of 5 pieces: cap, blouse, bustier, apron and skirt. I had a wicked fun time making it as well.... it's made in a size 10.

The remaining two pink bustiers I made matching mini skirts for (hence using up all the pieces of the pink fabric - man I'm a good fabric - user - upper!)
 These of course i will hopefully sell on ebay or the markets or wherever people wanna buy my stuff I'll be happy to sell it to them!
I guiltily have now gotten these listed on ebay, after a week of listing nothing due to extreme laziness or some other patheic nonsensical excuse like I can't get near my own computer for the man child monster that sits and guards it daily and will fight to the death to keep his guard!

I also have guiltily now resumed work (play? haha) with the patchwork quilts and will have those finished within a day or so.... "guiltily" because I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't make any more quilt tops till I had finished the previous TWENTY I unearthed last time I cleaned up the spare bedroom!!! (I only have about 6 to go.... that's close enough I guess.....maybe not so "guiltily" after all)
Quilting seems to relax me or something. So back to it I go!!

And for YOU to read while I am quiltilng happily away........

Parasol History:

Metal ribs were first manufactured in 1851

Cane and Whalebone ribs were seldom seen after 1870

Pre-1865 parasols had slender sticks that often folded in half for storage

Fashionable Parasol lengths started out shorter early on and grew longer as the decades progressed reaching their longest in the Edwardian era.

My personal observations are that 1870's and earlier parasols were generally under 28" in length,
with larger parasols appearing in the 1880's.

Victorian Parasol Flirtations

Much like the modern woman, Victorian Ladies were concerned with porcelain complexions. In Victorian times, the parasol was the original SPF 30, providing shade from direct sun. By the early 1800's parasols had become a wardrobe necessity that no fashionable Lady could be without. Here are a few clever flirtations for Victorian style fun in the sun:

1- Carrying it elevated in left hand: "Desiring your acquaintance."

2- Carrying it elevated in right hand : "I am willing."

3- Carrying it closed in left hand: "Let's meet at the first crossing."
4- Carrying it closed in right hand:  "Follow me."
5- Carrying it over right shoulder:"You can speak to me."
6- Closing it: "I will speak to you."
7- End of tip to lips: "Do you love me?"
8- Folding it up: "I wish to get rid of your company!"

A brief History of the Parasol...

Parasols In Fashion
Throughout America, Europe & Victorian England a Parasol was consider an essentual part of ladies fashion. They were as important to a lady as her gloves,scarves,hats and footwear. Originating in the East indies some 3,000 years previous, they did not appear in the Americas until around 1740 but by the mid 1800 every woman would own at least two, one black and one white. By the 1860s large bonnets and hats had gone out of fashion and the more dainty head dress was supported by woman, so to ward away the suns damaging rays on perfectly smooth and pale skin a parasol was employed to shield the Victorian Ladies faces. Parasols became status symbols used by ladies, a lady was never to be seen carrying an umbrella as they were for gentlemens use only to convey ladies from carriage to doors to prevent her being rained on. A lady in an open top carriage would always have her parasol up and on display to all to convey that she was indeed a lady.
Enchanting parasols became one of the most prevelant gifts for a gentleman to give his sweetheart during the 19th century. Because of their elegance, extravagance, and expense, it would have been a grave impropriety for a gentleman to give a parasol to a young lady for whom his intentions were not serious, and in return, a proper and decorous young lady would not have accepted such a gift unless she intended to receive the gentleman, as well Therefore, it became conventional for a groom to give to his bride a parasol as part of his wedding gift to her.
In 1740, a fashionable lady appeared on the street corner in Windsor, Connecticut, carrying what may have been the first parasol ever seen in North America. It had been brought all the way from the West Indies -- but her neighbors were anything but impressed. As she strolled around town, propping her open parasol on one shoulder, they mimicked and taunted her, mocking her dainty footsteps as they followed her around town, carrying colanders perched on top of broomsticks.

A century later, no one would have noticed, much less parodied, a lady carrying a sunshade, for wealthy women thought America and Europe considered parasols an essential part of any well-dressed woman's outfit. "Our gloves, shoes and stockings always matched and we carried dainty parasols of brushed chiffon, feather or lace, with the most beautiful handles of carved ivory, mother-of-pearl or hand-painted porcelain", a society woman recalled in her memoirs. "We were indeed the cynosure of all eyes "Even middle-class, and poorer, women coveted at least two -- one in black silk, another in white.

Like the fan and the lacy handkerchief, the parasol was both an object with a practical purpose and an indispensable aid to the subtle art of flirtation. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, it could mysteriously shadow a lady's expression, disguise the direction of her glance from a chaperone, coyly indicate her changing moods, dramatize her sparkling eyes and smile, even camouflage her imperfections. Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson's notorious, no-longer-young mistress, always favored pink and pink-lined parasols, because the rosy light they cast on her face made her look more youthful.

A change in the social climate doomed the parasol, making it seem first quaint, then outmoded, and finally preposterous. In the 1920's, a tanned complexion replaced pale skin as a status symbol, indicating that the owner didn't have to work and could be around on the beach all day. During that decade when flappers wore rolled stockings and cloche hats, when hems rose and inhibitions fell -- parasols disappeared. The most romantic accessories under the sun were relegated to the attic of history, with wasp waists and high-button shoes.

A unique teenage style exists in Harajuku, as it is the hub of teenage fashion ranging from punk, rock, goth and other non-conformist styles. The most notable of these fashions is the gothic lolita or the lolita style. Teenage girls who adopt this style are sometimes refered to as Harajuku girls. As seen in the photos below, lolita girls dress to appear like porcelain Victorian dolls. Their dresses are full of lace with Victorian style blouses. They wear elaborate hats, hair ribbons or bows. They often carry parasols or stuffed animals. This goes without saying, but the Harajuku style is all about accessorizing!

Friday, November 13, 2009


"...The Loneliness Birds seemed to fly into my heart and lay large stone eggs....." (excerpt from the movie based on the book The Power of One by Bryce Courtney.)

"20 SKIRTS IN 2 DAYS" was the original thought to keep my brain from exploding, or is it imploding?

I knew a lady once who had an autistic son. Over the few years of assosicating with this family I learned stuff about austism that I may never have known otherwise.
Degrees of austism are rated in categories of  "functioning", eg" high or low functioning. I thought this a wonderful description that would perhaps do for non - autistic people as well.
If I were to describe my brain this last fortnight it would HAVE to come under the heading of "very high functioning"..... (not only do the stone eggs in the heart weigh alot, but the Loneliness Birds seem to flutter around in my head while tending to their eggs... or something)

No one single thought or train of thoughts is enough, oh, no, my brain wants to go silly and think ten MILLION things at once. This can sometimes be an Ok thing  - for example if i use that energy in a positive fashion..... like work! Work! Work!

So as the brain goes nuts, I set little challenges for myself.... like seeing how many skirts i can finish and how quickly (without dying or letting the house go to the dogs of course).
Since the return of the Overlocker from the Fix-It Man's shop, it has been a very busy little machine. I have many garments half done waiting to be overlocked before I can finish them. I grabbed a bagfull of skirts from the pile of half-done's, and there just "happened" to be twenty tartan skirts in it, all with only an hour or two to go before they were finished.

20 skirts in two days was a little over zealous..i had to admit after a full day and most of the night sewing.
By skirt 15 my shoulder had fallen off and my neck had gone down the path of  "goodbye cruel world";  my wrists were doing their "fat lady' song rendition. (you know - the show's over when the fat lady sings....) 
To my delight though, the overlocker was looking at me with greedy eyes wanting more! (Yayy for the new Mr Fix-It Man!!)

Technically, I should have started the challenge at a set time and with a fresh new bag of skirts that I was starting from scratch, and and all sorts of "technically correct" ways of doing physical challenges... but such was not the way of my high - functioning brain, or my physically limited body, so I actually counted three broderie anglais skirts as part of the final fifteen.

The three broderie anglais skirts I had finished in the morning, and then set myself the challenge at about lunchtime. I was thinking to NOT count them and do only the tartan skirts in the challenge, but as the following lunchtime loomed I was realising that I had bitten off more than i could chew, and decided to stop the challenge early rather than continue to twenty skirts and have to lie on the couch for a week recovering.
In the end I am awfully happy with how many skirts i did get done, and it seems the general populace of Australia is pleased also..... Out of the 14 skirts pictured here, HALF of those are already sold! Wowsers! Go me!
So, high functioning brain week due to loneliness and fluttery unresting head has proved to be a very productive time after all!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Several, perhaps even "many" years ago.... in a musty, dark, and questionably scented corner of a tiny Opportunity Shop, run by sweet old Nanna's, in a town or place that has long since skipped my mind...... I came across (and bought), a sewing pattern for an extremely pretty dress (which I since then have Googled and is called an "colonial - style" dress). I brought the pattern home from the Op shop and stuck it away in another musty dark corner where it remained.... until about 3 weeks ago!I have learned... on more than one occasion now, (and why I keep forgetting is beyond me...), that "getting in touch with one's inner child" is a sure - fire way to feel true to oneself and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it!When I came across that same Op Shop - bought pattern the other week while searching for some fabric or other, I decided it was time to make myself a lovely dress purely for enjoyment and pleasure purposes only! I would really enjoy making it, and I would and will love wearing it.

Enough of life's pressures, and so on!
Time to feel like a pretty little girl with no more cares than which flower smells the sweetest and which leaf is the greenest....Unbeknownst to me until that day a couple of weeks ago, the pattern did not contain an instruction sheet, but thankfully DID have enough of the pattern pieces that I would be able to (hopefully) relatively easily make the dress, by just working it out as I went.
As I was rummaging up the fabric for my dress, I found a little extra pretty fabric....
and unbeknownst to ELISE, cut one out for her at the same time I cut mine out!
When Elise came to visit me last Friday eve, I had both dresses partially cut out, but showed her only mine. As I knew she would, Elise adored the pattern and went straight into imaginings of tea parties wearing glorious dresses!
The pattern included most pieces for a "colonial style", floor length, waisted dress, similar to that which Anne of Green Gables dreamed of and eventually got to wear to her recitals at the White Sands Hotel.....
For my recent birthday Elise loaned me the Anne of Green Gables book which I haven't had the pleasure of reading for an awfully long time. She (Elise) is such a darling that she tried to buy the book/s for me for my birthday but with little success. Loaning the book to me was just as good - I started and finished reading it in the same week that I started and finished both dresses!Reading Anne reminds me of how much I love being me and how much I love pretty dresses!
And flowers.
And daydreaming.

And kindred spirits.
I started sewing the dresses on Sunday, and messaged progress reports on both the book and MY dress to Elise throughout the week. I finished my dress and the book on Sunday, and finished Elise's dress today (Tuesday).

I can imagine Elise and I dressed in our finery sitting on a blanket by the river daydreaming.... or picking flowers in the council park by the pond......... or even just picking flowers out in the back yard at her ma's house.... haha

The sewing pattern pictured two variations of the dress, and I decided that Elise should have one, and I the other.
Recently I heard that "crop tops" (midriff tops) can make a tall person look shorter - which is a real bummer because I have been a huge fan of crop - tops for all of my life!
Anyway, going on that theory I decided my dress should have the extra layer of ruffles, as this may shorten my height somewhat, and Elise should have the dress with the straight, undivided skirt, which theoretically, should increase her height.

I really have no idea what effect hugely puffed sleeves have on one's height.... but oh! The sleeve puffs are wonderful!
Anne Shirley would be proud!
As well as puffed sleeves, both variations of the dress have a ruffled hem and neckline, low back, and bow details.
The dresses are fully lined, and I have made both Elise and I a petticoat to puff out the ruffles at the bottom.
Elise's hair and skin colouring is darker than mine,so I also chose different colours for her dress. I know she wears brown well, and have no idea what she thinks of pink......
BUT i have combined a gorgeous fawny - brown with a striped satiny shell pink and the palest of blush pink, with lots of white fabrics for Elise's dress, also in the hope of adding the illusion of height.
(and, Elise, I just hope you either LIKE pink.... or just like the combinations together of the pink and fawn.... or something)

I have used a fine organza - like fabric, which makes a lovely swooshy sound when I move it, for parts of the outer dress, and the lining of Elise's dress.
The lining is hemmed with white lace, the same lace hems Elise's petticoat.
Elise's petticoat is actually a brighter shell pink crushed sateen, which MAY ever so slightly shimmer underneath the layers of shell pink organza stuff only (this being the finest of the fabrics).

I used the stripey satin for the bodice only, stripes running vertically
- you guessed it - add height or continue the height theme thing or however I say it now I've said it a dozen times. Haha.
As always possum had ideas on whom should be getting pretty dresses and lacy petticoats....... (for some reason I can't get these words to go with the picture of possum on the lining - lacey bit... but I am sure you understand ...) For the sleeves and two of the overskirt panels I used the fawn brown fabric, which has a lovely vague shine to it. To break up the hemline a little, and to be resourseful and waste as little as possible, I used left over pieces of both the fawn and the pink fabric at intervals in the hem ruffle.Parts of the hemline ruffle, and also the neck ruffle are made of curtaining lace, giving the dress a kind of antiquated look.

Using (28 METRES...!!!!) of the sweetest triple - scalloped, machine - embroidered, braid - type lace, of a shiny fairy pink; the ruffles at the hem and the neckline, as well as the sleeve hems look stunning, and very feminine.
Gathering the ruffles was one lonnnnnnnggggggg job........
But SO worth it!

I counted how much lace it took - for Elise's dress...I forgot to count how much for my dress - and I forgot to count how LONG it took to gather 20-something metres of ruffle!!
Ahh well, the dresses just wouldn't be the same without them, and oh! how lovely they feel when you spin around in a ruffled dress or skirt.....!!!

I swear that has to be one of the most lovely girly feelings ever, feeling your skirt fly up around your legs as you spin around like a little girl in love with the world!

Not to mention SEEING the wonder of your gorgeous, remarkably beribboned and beruffled flying skirt shiny flaces of lace; flying about you like as if you were in a carnival ride...... or a parade with colours and flowing banners and flags and pretty things all around......

Ok, so where was I?

The back is a little low - cut, with the ruffle going all the way from back to front, and has a long zipper closure.

Inside the sleeves there is a layer of tulle to create puff, and so that there is no rubbing of little tulle edges on underarm skin, I have sewn ribbon over the hems of the underarm and the tulle end of the sleeve.

Just about the time I cut out the pattern pieces for these two dresses, my LABELS came in the mail.....
Ooooh and how unbeleivably gorgeous they look! I am so pleased with them!

OF COURSE,my dress had to be the first, but Elise's is the second, garments EVER to have real, true, genuine
-J-i-g-g-l-e- labels on them!
Elise's dress has bows made out of stunning white bridal satin (it was just so nice and shiny against the sort - of - shiny pinks and fawn colours, I thought it was an adorable contrast). Each sleeve has a small bow on the outer elastic gather; and a small bow adorns the centre front v of the bodice.

At the back of the dress covering the lower end of the zipper, is a large bow, also made with the bridal satin on Elise's dress.

One top corner of the large bow at the back is sewn down and the other has a press stud to allow movement of the bow whilst dressing.

I love the ruffled hems.......

...and I also hope that YOU like the ruffled hems and puffed sleeves on your new dress, Elise!
Let me know when you're available to come and try it on, (I can do alterations if needed...) and we can have picnics and picks flowers together.........

Thanks for being my friend!