On the catwalk

Last week I took a break from the sewing machine to attend the Stitches & Craft Show in Brisbane. The Australian Sewing Guild was asked to put on a fashion parade each day of the Show. Lots of hard work from the organising committee and models resulted in a very successful parade.  In fact, two parades each day for four days.  Being a super model is not as easy as it looks, or as glamorous.  I’m rather pleased to be back in the sewing room, working on THE WEDDING DRESS.  Coming along nicely – nearly ready to post Part II.


Vintage Lace

Seams Like FunThis beautiful Edwardian lace collar was a Christmas present from my husband.  Yes, I had to pick it out, tell him where to find it and how to order but still…

It comes from Chantilly Dreams , a treasurer trove of antique lace pieces, garments and other vintage collectibles.

I’m hoping to incorporate this into a garment for myself in the not-too-distant future.  Watch this space for further developments.


The Wedding Dress – Part 1

Whilst I LOVE to sew, I pick and chose my jobs when it comes to wedding dresses.  Too many bridezillas = too much stress.  This one was going to be a quick and easy job.  “It’s a very simple design” says the bride.  “Nothing fancy”, she adds.  We discussed the design and I agreed it was going to be relatively simple, as wedding dresses go.  Then she brought the fabric and lace – ivory coloured silk dupion with a stunning (very expensive) hand-beaded lace to go on top.  The lady in the shop said, with an air of knowing what she was talking about, “Lace is like pasta – you can cut it and join it back together again.  All you will need is twice the required length”.  WRONG!!!

Challenge #1 – Quite true that lace can be cut and joined but you still have to consider the width of the lace, the design of the lace and the design of the dress.  The piece of lace was 40cm wide with a gorgeous scalloped edge on each side.  Perfect if you are sewing for size 4!  Not so good for anything larger than this, and my bride is NOT big.  So, what to do.?
The dress is a princess line design so I was able to place the main piece of lace down the centre front and back, removing the scalloped edges from each side and reserving the motifs for future use.

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The panel on the right side of this picture is the centre front.  Beaded motifs that cross the seam have been carefully cut out and then lapped across the seam.  Now for the side panels.  I couldn’t leave them just plain but  didn’t have enough lace.  A light bulb moment and off to the shop to buy some plain ivory tulle.  The plan was to cover the side pieces with plain tulle and applique spare lace motifs (remember the bits removed from the side earlier?) to make it look like one continuous piece of lace.  All well and good until I realised that the tulle backing for the lace was not really ivory after all – more a nude colour.  Now I had a centre front that was a darker shade than the side fronts.  Drat – get out the unpicker and come up with Plan B.    Some careful tea-dying of the plain ivory tulle resulted in a near perfect match.  If you look closely at the picture above, the only discernible difference between the two panels is the absence of the scattered tiny seed beads between the motifs on the side panel.  I’ll fix that later.

Challenge #2 – The dress is fitted from bust down to just above the knee.  The bride wants a tulle flounce around the bottom and has brought metres of very fine bridal tulle in – you guessed it! – an ivory colour.  It’s going to be several shades lighter than the rest of the dress.  Back to the kitchen to get out the teabags.  Working with four layers of tulle, the bottom layer is tea-dyed and the top 3 layers remain the original ivory.  Just one darker layer was enough to give the right result.  Check out the match in the picture below.

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This dress is still a work in progress.  I’ve already spent many hours hand-appliqueing lace to the side front and back of the dress.  Still not finished, but well on the way.  The flounce is just tacked on for now.  At the next fitting I will check the length and then remove it whilst finishing all the hand sewing on the body of the dress.  I also have four layers of tulle to finish with a narrow rolled hem.  That’s 16 metres of hemming.

Lots of challenges for “just a simple design”.  Stay tuned for Part 2 and pictures of the finished product.  I having a funny feeling that I have not conquered my last challenge just yet.

Desert Colours

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One of my favourite projects was for another Australian Sewing Guild Convention Challenge, this time in 2012.  The Challenge theme was a very broad ‘Desert Colours’.  Just about anything was going to work but my very first thought was my husband’s wonderful photography.  Having done a number of outback photographic tours, he had an endless supply of images that fit the criteria.  I started by looking for inspiration in the colours and composition and very quickly decided that I wanted to incorporate some of the photos into the garment. Soooo…..this is what happened.

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I chose 3 different photos and printed them onto fabric sheets – you know, the ones you can feed through your inkjet printer.  One photo (the one with the stone building) was split into three sections and the Australian flora was two separate images, also cut into pieces.  I then arranged them on the back of the vest and fused them into place.  Strips of dupion silk are stitched between each panel and finished with a button on the end – got rid of some odd buttons knocking around in my stash!

The fabric for the pants and vest is a gorgeous 100% Australian wool crepe purchased from Tessuti Fabrics.

Mix ‘n’ Match

ImageImageImageWhat to do with all those bits of left over fabric.  When they are too beautiful to part with the only thing to do is assemble them into another garment.  This Marcy Tilton pattern (Vogue 8752), with the interesting shape and many different pieces, was the perfect choice for my favourite bits of silk.  The challenge was deciding how to place the different fabrics for a pleasing effect, working with pieces of varying sizes.

Australian Sewing Guild Inc. – where it all happens

ASG Home

If you love to sew check out the Australian Sewing Guild Inc.  Over 100 groups of sewing enthusiasts meet across Australia and New Zealand.  No matter what form of sewing you enjoy, they have it covered.  I have been a member since 2007 and am now actively involved in upgrading and refreshing our image.  Big things are afoot…..

100% Natural with a Kiwi Twist


This dress was created for the Australian Sewing Guild Annual Convention 2013 challenge.  The fabric is a bamboo and soy blend (purchased online from The Bamboo Fabric Store, Brisbane) which was a delight to work with.   The theme for the challenge was ‘100% Natural with a Kiwi Twist’, hence the bamboo blend.  “So why the Kiwi twist?” I hear you ask.  Well, the convention was in Auckland, NZ  – first time the ASG convention has gone overseas.  Soooooo….the twist is the embroidered fern detail.  Now that was a challenge!  I wanted the fern to grow out of the dress and become 3-dimensional.  Not being a machine embroidery guru I thought I might resort to hand embroidery.  DISASTER – looked like a dog’s breakfast!  OK, slight exaggeration but definitely not the look I was aiming for.  After a week or two of mulling it over I had a flash of inspiration.  Why not try embroidering the design on silk organza and then cutting it out and shaping it.  How clever – it actually worked.  Not one to stop when I’m on a roll, I then tackled splitting a fern in half. Look closely – the bottom fern is embroidered directly onto the garment. The next one up has the tip embroidered on the dress with the remainder on silk organza.  Voila! – growing out of the dress.  Each subsequent fern becomes more shaped, thus more 3-D.  I was ever so pleased with the result and so were the judges.


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