I collaborate on projects that tell stories of connection, origin and resilience so that we can begin to mend ourselves, our communities and the earth.
The Cloth Hugger

Welcome back to the second edition of The Cloth Hugger. A hug of eco-dressmaking tidbits.

sewaway

To Inspire..

.. Perth artisan Elizabeth Leslie hand weaves and naturally dyes all of the exquisite contemporary clothing in her shop.

.. I am excited by this zero waste dress and even more so by the fact that we might convince Marilla to do some zero waste patterns!

.. have you ever made a garment out of old ties?  I know I have! I think Mary Katronski somehow managed to make it cool again.

.. I love that an exhibition led to a whole micro-business selling felt mending kits.

.. I love watching Emily Steele’s journey into mud dyeing and weaving.

To use..

.. Great Ocean Road Mill are now selling all Australian Yarn grown and spun in Victoria.

..string harvest is a great place to source vintage threads for weaving and knitting.
To skill up..

.. Learn to mud dye with Judy Dominic in Meeniyan (I believe she’d doing other workshops around Australia too)

.. Learn to make felt shoes and a bag with Felt West next year
..Upcoming courses in Victoria in weaving, spinningfelting

 

To Read..

.. this refashioned book  is full of refashion inspiration from 46 international designers.

To advocate..

.. Fashion Revolution week starts April 24, snap a pic and show your makes. Is it nerdy that the release of all the related reports and data excites me?

.. The Global Fashion Exchange is holding clothing swap events around the globe.

 

 Gatsby Dreams

I love a good theme party.  My speciality being to err on the side of hilarity.  See selected tame examples below. 

Yes. That is a Power Ranger.

Anyway, I  am here to introduce you to the tamest of dress up in the long history of Nicki dress ups.  The most out of character, beautiful ensemble, such that the dress up purist in me almost feels like I cheated!

gatsbyfull

The theme for the party was movie characters and seeing as I had long planned to sew an outfit inspired The Great Gatsby, and even had fabric hoarded for the making of such an thing, I decided that I would use the excuse to make something classy.    Classy, but wearable.   After finding this picture in the book  Art Deco Fashion (Suzanne Lussier) I decided on a cowl necked top and skirt.

I had silk enough to make a silk skirt, but could not see it being worn regularly.  Instead, the skirt is made from wool that has long been in my stash as I ordered it from overseas, thinking it perfect for a winter coat.  On arrival, I realised it was sooooooo sparkly.  Such a rookie error.

skirtdetail

Enter Vogue 1486, a fabric chewing volumptuous model, that I thought would pass as dropped waisted with an untucked shirt.  Pushing it, I know, but do you blame me?  This skirt is everything! It’s got drama, warmth, pockets and I am in love with its sparkle. I’ve been wearing this baby on the school run I like it so much.

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The  top was based on this Drape Drape pattern, altering only the front by removing a wedge from the centre to achieve a higher cowl.

The shirt slides around a little so I added a hook and eye and attached a beaded necklace to the back to hold things in place.  I am thinking I will may use the gold lace headband to make a more permanent tie in the future.

sidegatsby

The party was full of amazing and outrageous costumes and, whilst I felt a little too normal, I was happy to find both Gatsby and Daisy on the dance floor amongst the Ghost Busters, Waynes, Buzz Lightyears, Cleopatras and 2001 Monoliths.

I’d love to know your hilarious dress up stories, anyone else wear Power Ranger suits on the odd occasion?!

Top Details:

Pattern:  Drape Drape, Pattern no 1, size L.  Altered front for higher cowl.

Fabric: Silk satin sourced from a destash blog, secondhand for the win.

drapedrapecloseup

Skirt Details:

Pattern:  Vogue 1486, size 14, no alterations, aside from hand-stitching a hem facing to maximise the length. Lapped zip instead of exposed.

Fabric: Wool tweed with bonus sparkle.  Mood Fabrics circa 2013.  Clearly failing on most environmental fronts, except the fact that the wool is likely to last well.

See also: Saturday Night Stitch, The Fashion Fanatic, and Rachel Boo Dogg who alerted me to the patterns existence and made up an enviable denim version..

Photos by the talented Baker Photography.

shirtlie

Cover me in wool it’s freezing

red wool

Truth.

I am a consumer.  This wool is brand spanking new, a planned and considered purchase, but a purchase none the less.

Truth.  

I haven’t showered for four days in these photos.

Truth. 

The hat was the only thing I bought camping that could tame my salt, wind and dirt encassed punk style locks.

red wool

Truth.

The wind was so bitter this morning, that we were the sole bodies on the beach.  The kids chasing the willy willies and failing to outrace the wind with their kites. 

red wool

Truth.

I immediately added a snow jacket to this outfit after 2 minutes of photos.  

Truth.

The beauty of this place makes me warmer inside. But wool also helps! 

red wool

Details:

Drape Drape no 2 pattern 11, size L, 8cm added in length. Previously made from a drapier fabric here

My first fabric purchase for the year: Wool double sided knit from The Fabric Store and refashioned velvet from a previous refashion. A refashioned refashion…

The Dark Side

 I have some work to do around panic. 

The last six months for me have been heavily punctuated by a series of medical issues that have troubled me mostly by  the panic.

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 My heart and mind race.  My breathing goes haywire and I am convinced cancer is lurking, ready to take me down. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. And the tears start rolling. Prematurely mourning. 

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The panic came when a medical professional suggests that “with your history, we had better double check.”  The panic came when the dermatologist told me that the dodgy mole “will be nothing to worry about”. The exact words the doctor who did my breast a biopsy said 3 years ago.  The panic came when I’ve been in bed with a migraine for the 10th day in 6 weeks.  The panic came on days that my fatigue was at its worst.  The panic came when I had chest pain, and the doctor advised me to call the ambulance.  The panic came when they called me back for a second MRI without explanation.  

That’s a lot of panic. 

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I see you panic.  I see your fears.  I see you lurking, ready to pounce.  

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Try me. I dare you.  Next time I’m ready to laugh at your ridiculousness.  To talk back. To tell you to go wait quietly in the corner while I get on with the important job of being well.   

I will not be defined by you today, tomorrow or ever.

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Three simple basics sewn from second hand cloth.   A white linen tank for wearing under all the things, some navy slacks and a navy knit top.

The Dark Side:  Slacks, Oscar de la Renta Vogue Pattern 1721 ,  fabric sourced from an op shop and Pattern Magic knit top, fabric sourced at Sew for Life Destash Market

The Light Side:  Self drafted linen top, fabric sourced from an op shop worn with Tania Culottes

Photography:  Baker Photography 

Slow fashion

I blame Nina Proudman.
mannish shirt

You see, I have a childish sense of style. But as I approach 40 I’ve just made the first white shirt I’ve ever owned.

mannish shirt

The epiphany came a few weeks ago when I was selected to attend a formal work interview with only a couple of days notice.  Having not worked in an office for 5 years my wardrobe didn’t have much to offer and whilst I have a nicely procured little stash of fabrics, making a suit in a hurry isn’t my idea of fun.
mannish shirt

Slow clothing is tricky when you are in a hurry.  As I see it I had a couple of options.  Borrow from a friend or find something secondhand. A friend suggested that I try Penny Lane Clothing Exchange, which sells a curated collection of secondhand clothes on behalf of others.  I haven’t bought clothes from a shop for almost 3 years, and there’s the big glaring problem of having changed shape drastically from the norm in that time, which I usually manage by making my own clothes, so I was nervous.

mannish shirt

I mustered the courage to explain to the owner in a quiet moment my problem.  Interview. Nothing to wear.  No breasts.

She was an angel.  She sought me out a few separates and filled up the change room with new options as I ditched the old.   Despite my nerves I started to enjoy myself and learnt some things about shapes I do and don’t like to wear.

mannish shirt

Many of the clothes that I chose first up made me look like a child, and I realised that I don’t want to look young anymore.  I want to own my age and all the life experience that comes with it.  I needed to channel Nina. Nina owns her age without giving up her sense of fun.

 

Offspring Photo from tenplay.com.au

So here I am in my secondhand suit.  And with my new ethos on hand, I have begun making a few essential pieces that will take me into a new decade without giving up the fun.

mannish shirt

mannish shirt

Details

PatternShe has Mannish Style  shirt 17 (L) no adjustments.

Fabric: Silk cotton from Potters fabrics bought a long while ago.

Notions: Vintage Glass buttons from an estate sale

Techniques different to instructions: French seams, collars as per Andrea’s different order, patience and unpicking

See Also: Meggipeg, Sew busy Lizzie, Sunday Studio

mannish shirt

Extreme dropped shoulders

I have been cleaning up my sewing room and finishing off a few quick and easy things to make it easier to pack.  At the end of last year, I had to drop all other projects to finish my #1year1outfit and I may have built up quite the stack of unfinished things.

dropped shoulders

So here I present the episode where I make more unusually drapey things from pre loved bits and pieces.  Believe it or not, I’ve used this pattern before on this refashioned shirt!  Don’t believe me, read on…

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 Dropped Shoulder Shirt

Pattern: Pattern Magic Stretch , a variation on this pattern below, without the extra seam lines

Fabric: Op shop cotton knit, shirt and ribbing

Tidbits:  It is a bit tricky to see what’s going on when the shirt is worn, so here it is in all of its weirdness on the hanger.  A really simple make , especially when you decide to let the hems roll instead of finishing them more formally!  The neckline is tacked down at the seams only.

dropped shoulders

I made another refashioned shirt version, using just the pattern above the arm hole to just above the shoulders as my friend was keen on an off the shoulder version.  I was a bit worried it would fall off but luckily the thick rib does the trick and it works really well.

dropped shoulders

Lessons:  Those arm holes are so low that you may attempt to put the shirt on upside-down. LIKE ALL THE TIME.

Soak in these beach shots people!  This may well be my last beachy post from Perth, as the sewing machine is about to get put in a box, ready for its move back to Melbourne.

dropped shoulders

No legs

A man with no legs

runs up the stairs

A woman with no hair

stops and stares

refashion

Do you have tiny moments in your life that stay with you? Moments that change you, guide you and speak to you?  This little poem  is about one of those moments for me.

Today’s photos are of a refashion of this top to now have no sleeves. And a tiny leather triangle addition to the split of this skirt. Two tiny things that have made the unbearable wearable again.

He really was running!