Saturday, 28 April 2012


I have something a bit special to show you today. Months ago, I made this cosmetic wallet for Australian Homespun's 'Girls' Club' issue. I was especially happy with how this project turned out, as it incorporates some of my favourite things: linen, embroidery, 3 Sisters fabric, a vintage buckle and 'un peu de la France'!
I very much had some blogging friends in France in mind when I designed this project. I have long been inspired by Shannon @ Petits Détails and her ethereal photography of antique French fabrics and found objects. I was keen to emulate vintage monogrammed French linen with this project. 
Moda's fabric line 'Etchings' by 3 Sisters was released at the perfect time for me. The range had just the right mix of subdued blues, greys and touches of deep red. There are botanical motifs, wonderful French architectural drawings and prints reminiscent of antique parchments. Just perfect for what I had in mind! Serendipity ... or even divine intervention :)
The wallet unfolds and hangs up for convenience. Below are the external and internal views:
Inside, there are lots of different pockets and compartments for storing cosmetics. There are zippered clear vinyl pockets (below) ...
... elasticised pockets for storing compacts ...
... narrow individaul pockets for cosmetic brushes, with a protective felt overlay ...
... and an elasticised lipstick keep.
There are many elements to this project, but none are difficult. The wallet closes with a tab and a vintage red buckle that I found in my travels.
When I named this project, I decided to call it 'Coquetterie' for this 1911 painting of the same name by Félix Vallotton (source) which shows a woman dressing and readying herself for the day before her mirror.
The other blogging friend I had in mind when I designed this project was Kirsty @ You Had Me at Bonjour. Kirsty is a fellow Aussie, living in Provence. I am constantly inspired by her beautiful photography of French countryside, and laughing at her quick-witted posts.

While I studied French at school, I am by no means fluent these days, and I have a nagging doubt that my 'Coquetterie' name for this project might have an offensive French connotation. Kirsty, please tell me if it does! I would be mortified to offend!

The tone and meaning I was hoping to convey with 'Coquetterie' was variously: ‘vanity; concern for one’s appearance; a knack for fashion; flirty; playful behaviour'.
This project is in the current issue of Australian Homespun #107, available in Australian newsagents or for worldwide digital purchase at Zinio. The pattern will also be available in a month or two as a PDF download in my shop.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A tova top & a case for a fabric hoarding gene

My grandmother always cautioned my mother and me that, when she died, we were to get to her house quickly and remove her fabric stash before Grandpa found it!
With the online popularity of the Wiksten Tova top, I decided I'd dust off my all-but-retired garment-making skills. I asked Mum if there was a suitably soft cotton in the stash inherited from Grandma. Sure enough, we found this very pretty cotton - all 8.5 metres of it! The Boy calculated we could make two-thirds of a tennis net, but we opted for a Tova top (or four)!
The Tova top looks universally flattering in the many photos on the web, albeit most are worn by stick-thin, tall and young beauties. Undeterred, we printed out the extra-large and got sewing!
I am an Australian Size 12 (inching closer to a 14 every day it would seem) - the extra large Tova pattern fits me perfectly, without alteration. It is super comfortable, and conveniently disguises a multitude of sins around my midriff. It unfortunately doesn't help with the thunder-thigh issue lower down, but that is surely beyond the capability of a single pattern. 

The only thing that I'm still coming to terms with (other than having to cut out an XL) is the neckline. I had hoped the collar would stand pertly rather than flop open. My dressmaking mother is hovering, eyes glinting, quick-unpick at the ready with a view to redrafting the collar. But I've decided life's too short for that.
I hate having my photo taken because it forces me to acknowledge the form my body is taking with age. But in the interests of confronting my pride, here I am, the best of apparently hundreds of takes :) Admittedly, I resorted to hiding behind tree trunks to obscure the thunder thighs, but there you have it.
I will definitely make this pattern up again. It is well written, and very achievable. The yoke inset is the trickiest bit. It is conveniently available as a PDF download here.

I have no idea what Grandma was intending when she bought 8.5 metres of this pretty print. But I think she would be very happy that it is seeing the light of day, and being used at last.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Seeking beauty

The first week of the Easter break has flown by for us in a flurry of travelling and spending time with family, thereby causing a blog hiatus - apologies! We've spent the last few days at the farm, and there has again been some solace in the garden for me.

The garden is not at its best after a very wet summer. We have lost plants to fungal diseases, the roses are covered in blackspot, and the pests and bugs are having a grand old time! So I have to work a bit harder to see the beauty!
In the garden's 'ugly' phases, it's time to appreciate contrast in form and colour, such as a shock of pink against the bronze, velvety seed heads of fountain grass ...
... the contrast of sweet purple & white 'Geisha Girl' duranta against a background of box elder foliage, turning deeply golden in the autumn sun ...
... more brilliant pink, 'Sophy's Rose' in contrast with the aging bronze flower heads of Sedum 'Autumn Joy' ...
Beauty can be at its strongest as plants age, passing from exuberant and flamboyant, to promise of future fertility and regeneration. Rose hips form and swell ...
... the albizia is laden with pods, crackling in the breeze ...
 ... fragile papery flower heads of agapanthus, 
burst with new seeds ...
 ... and perhaps the most spectacular post-flowering display, the seed head of my cardoon, 
architectural and breathtaking ...
The roses are fighting valiantly 
against fungal foe and waves of aphid. 
There are still occasional treasures to be found, 
such as the pristine 'Winchester Cathedral' ...
and the penultimate performer, 'Graham Thomas' ...
And of course, when nature throws up a bout of humidity and warm weather, an ideal breeding ground for bugs and disease, it also breeds beauty like this:
Beauty is surely everywhere if you look closely!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Meet Amelia

I'd like to give a shout out to a lovely young girl I met at a local market on the weekend. Amelia Herbertson is in the last throes of her university degree in Graphic Design, and is newly establishing herself as an artist and printmaker.
Amelia's work is beautifully detailed and shows a level of quality and care that belies her youth. This exquisite lino print bird made its way home with us, and is settling in nicely!

You can find Amelia on Facebook, or over at her blog, and her work in her Etsy Shop. Please pop on over to her, say hello and encourage her in what will surely be a bright artistic future.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A mini menagerie

One of my local quilting haunts, Marally Craft, generously provided me with some fabric to make up a sample for an upcoming craft fair.
This cot quilt is an adaptation of the small quilt in my 'Abracadabra' pattern. 
I simply replaced a row of blocks in the original pattern with some raw-edge appliqued animals from the feature fabric. 
The quilt is made entirely from flannel fabrics, mostly from Laura Berringer's range called 'Fluffy Jungle' for Marcus Fabrics, with a couple of 'Celebrate Seuss' flannels by Robert Kaufmann for good measure. 
The feature print from the 'Fluffy Jungle range proved to be perfect for fussy-cutting and appliquéing, with 'stitching lines' all but printed on the fabric for you to follow - sweet!
It is a very cuddly little quilt, and my first serious venture into the world of flannels. I found the fabrics have a little more 'stretch' or 'give' in them than quilting cottons, but were easy to use, and appliqued nicely with the help of some Heat-n-Bond Lite.
My bent for pieced backings continues unabated - I incorporated some left over blocks in the backing, primarily to give me a bit more width to play with since the quilt is so close to 44" (one fabric width) finished. See, there is method to my madness!

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