Formal! Revealed!

With her gorgeous friend M

And another gorgeous friend R

R supplied the cutest corsages

Some of her lovely friends at the ‘before party’

Felicity’s dress was BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130.

Construction details are here and here.

Her joy in her dress was a wonderful reward!

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Oscar de la Renta sushi

There are no more excuses!

This fabric has to be made into a coat. Now.

So I put my big girl panties on and dealt with it. I went to The Point of No Return. That would be Cutting Out.

Does anyone else see hound’s-tooth sushi?

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Update on another WIP: the landscape dress

Remember me talking about this gorgeous fabric?

You were most helpful in deciding which pattern to use and I even made a muslin.

Then I got cold feet. Ruth of CoreCouture‘s pattern whispering of Vogue 9021 might have contributed to this

I worked out I could just squeeze this pattern onto my panels if I made the sleeves a bit shorter, and went for knee length.

But I was struck down with a case of fear-of-cutting-into-special-fabric

So I made a test version in a navy tropical wool first.

I like my test version.

The style lines (which you totally cannot see in this dark navy) are fabulous: slanted bust darts that meet up with one of the double skirt darts.

I underlined  through the bodice and lined normally in the skirt. I used Sunsilky lining- it’s polyester, but treated in some way to be breathable.It’s lovely to wear.

You’d think the almost bat-wing sleeves would make it limiting, but they fold down beautifully under jackets. I didn’t use interfacing in their facings, and that, coupled with the lovely drape of the wool is probably half the reason for their good behavior under jackets.

I think I love this dress!

The sleeve design does, however, have lingerie exposing tendencies. See my black camisole?

You could sew the side/sleeve up a bit more, but that might limit movement, and make jacket wearing more challenging.

I’m happy with the fit (size 14 out to 16 for the hips and a small sway back adjustment, i.e. standard for me). The only change I’ll make with the next one is to lower the neck a little.

so,  have I started on the landscape fabric?

Well, actually, no.

Not yet. It’s looking at me, silently condemning me.

Summer has flown and, with it, thoughts of light silky dresses. So the landscape fabric will just have to hibernate in the stash until spring.

You may recall that I also have a coat project in the queue. Autumn would be the ideal time to sew it, wouldn’t it?

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Gluten free lemon friands

Thank you for all your lovely comments about Felicity’s Formal Frock made from Funky Fabric with some Flares of Frustration but now Finally Finished.

Clearly, I like F-words, and need to keep using them.

Words like Friands.

These were made by He who Cooks. And they were Fabulous!


  • 180 g butter melted, plus extra for greasing
  • zest of 2 large or 3 medium lemons
  • 200 g pure icing sugar
  • 80 g gluten free plain flour
  • 125 g almond meal
  • 5 egg whites, lightly whisked
  • flaked almonds to sprinkle on top
  1. Preheat fan forced oven to 165°C (180°C for conventional oven)
  2. Grease 12 hole friand tin with extra melted butter
  3. Combine melted butter and lemon zest, then sift in icing sugar and flour, and almond meal ( if it will go through the sieve)
  4. Add egg whites and mix until combined and smooth
  5. Spoon into the holes of the friand tin and top with flaked almonds.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.

Makes 12.

Recipe from For my Senses

Delicious with raspberries too.

Perfect autumn fare!

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Felicity’s formal dress finally finished

Phew. Finished is a good way for it to be. There were a few more f-words I could have used in that title, but this is a family blog.

It’s a phenomenal dress. Fun. Funky. Fluorescent. Form fitting and floofed out, all in one dress

The coat hanger shots do not do this dress justice, but the internet will have to wait to see Felicity modelling it, she says. The formal is a few weeks away still.

The Burda pattern used was a designer original: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130. Felicity was inspired by the style but not the colour. She seems to have inherited my love of bold and bright colour.

There were hours of fun, and frustration in the construction. Not in equal proportions.

The outer fabric was too drape-y and thin for this style. I thought I would fix that with organza underlining.

You’re looking at the inside of the outer back bodice, and the neon yellow in the top left corner is part of the inner bodice. White satin bias tape added to the fun of seam and hem finishing

And here’s the inside view of the skirt. I used lime green organza on the skirt. Because I ran out of the shimmering white used on the bodice. And what’s not to love about lime green?

The organza underlining did add more body, but it resulted in every seam puckering like crazy, no matter what I did. That’s why the underling on the skirt became regular lining below the pocket.

Puckering down the back centre seam became a design feature, highlighted by black ribbon on each side, separating at the hem slit.

Don’t say I’m not inventive!

The dress hem was a micro one with white satin bias tape. The dress needed to be kept as long as possible. Ridiculously high platform heels need to be worn!

Phew indeed.

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Wedding nostalgia

Are you a traditionalist when it comes to wedding cake?

image from

He who Cooks and I were married in the 80’s, and we had traditional fruit cake (and big 80’s sleeves).

You are wondering where I am going with this aren’t you? What’s the sewing point? That will come later. But sewing is not really the point (did I really write that?!)

Our wedding cake’s top tier was kept in my mother-in-laws china cabinet. We didn’t cut it on our first anniversary, and then it sort of got forgotten about.

Until now.

26 years on.

Do you think it might still be edible? 26 year old fruit cake??

We thought we’d find out on Friday night. 26 years and two days after the first time we sliced into the bottom tier of this cake.

Do you think we could even cut it?!

(sorry, blurry iPhone photo. It was dark. Apart from some highly amusing video, similarly blurry, and I’ll spare you that, this is our only evidence of these historic moments. Despite the quality, we are very grateful to Ken for capturing the moments)

The icing was very hard. Someone might even have said concrete-like.

It took several attempts, and calls for an axe, but we did finally manage to cut a slice.

And, yes, it was indeed edible. A touch dry, and with a definite aged character, and a rancid note in the pieces close to the marzipan under the royal icing, but edible.

Isn’t the icing bouquet exquisite?


And the sewing part to this story?

I made my wedding dress, and my bridesmaids.

They were simple tea length dresses, but, looking back, I’m impressed with my confidence to attempt this. I did not have much sewing experience.

I knew what I wanted my dress to look like. A block was drafted for the fitted bodice. From hand written notes my friend took when she went to a pattern drafting course. What was I thinking? That this was easy or something??

I used silk taffeta and corded lace: the most expensive fabric I’d ever purchased. They were both delightful to work with.

lace sleeve cuff detail

The crazy eighties sleeves came from Butterick, morphed into leg-o-mutton territory with tulle sleeve headings.

I knew nothing about fit, but to my now more experienced eye, it looks okay, even through the back in this action shot.

And if silk taffeta and coded lace and drafting patterns was not enough for my inexperienced younger self, I also made a camisole and french knickers from silk charmeuse using Simplicity 5549.

The culotte slip (3) could be useful again, now culottes are back in fashion.. 

Our wedding cake was amazingly longlasting.

The marriage is going very well too!

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Formal Dress progress with bonus Easter cuteness

It has got to that stage. Of not liking what I am sewing.

It’s not because I don’t like the colours of the fabrics I’m using…

Graphic fashion fabric on the left, neon yellow crepe for the bodice underlayer on the right, and neon lime organza for the underlining at the bottom, complete with orange markings for the waist tucks.

or that the organza underlayer needed to be basted to the top fabric by hand around the tucks and darts..

and the style is fabulous.

I am just a bit over it all.

There is still lots to do. And a deadline to meet.


And the bonus Easter goodness? That’s thanks to my friend Karen, who served these delights at craft night last night

Devilled eggs ….. as chickens.

Cute eh? Perhaps a little bit creepy too.


Happy Easter to those who celebrate


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Crop top or Formal dress muslin #1

I hope you’re not sick of reading about my WIPs (works in progress). This time its Felicity’s Formal dress: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130

Whilst going through my fabric stash for something else, Felicity spied this polyester woven and wanted to know why it couldn’t be used for her Formal dress.

It’s certainly not the jacquard that the pattern calls for, but it does have some body. Perhaps?

I had to trial the alterations I’d made to the bodice of the pattern, so rather than using something stiff from the stash, I choose a softer drapier fabric, just to get a feel for how a non jacquard might work.

[Felicity has a head cold and is having a bad hair day. So her lovely face is not gracing the blog today!]

I think a softer fabric is going to work. After I get the fit right.

That extra fabric pooling between the bust and the shoulder at the armscye needs to go.

I need to move the apex of the dart darts back a bit. I tried rotating the darts up into the neck tucks, but it made the extra fabric pooling between the bust and the shoulder even worse than it is here. A dart will be less obvious in a pattern fabric.

The extra fabric between the shoulder and the bust is not so obvious from the side, but that bust apex needs to shrink

Arrgh, and now I see that the side seam is not vertical…

The back looks ok.

The over bodice will only be closed at the neck on the dress, but a second closure on the crop top makes it more wearable for Felicity (yes, she sees it as a wearable garment! not just a muslin!)

How to get rid of the fabric pooling?

A horizontal tuck above the bust looks like it might work. This is an alteration I often need to do for Felicity.

It does smooth things out. But now I have to both shorten and move the bust dart down!

What do you think? Other alterations needed? Leave the polyester woven in the stash and go look for a jacquard?

Posted in Sewing, WIP | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Coat muslin, IKEA style

I’ve listened to you and worked hard this weekend on my coat.

I know you are expecting something like Burda’s vision of elegance for this pattern (BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111)

But, I’ve made a muslin and it’s not an elegant coat in any way.

IKEA upholstery fabric. So much more fun to make muslins from than, well, muslin.


The first thing you probably noticed (after the sad blue face on my tummy), was the collar. I’ve got mine on the roll lines marked on the pattern

That’s how the shorter version of this coat (BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110) is intended to be worn

Good to know I have options!


Okay lets look at the fit.

This is a straight size 42, with no changes except to make the sleeves a bit roomier though the upper arm.

It doesn’t look too bad to me, but please let me know what you think.

I can see a couple of things

  • The “waist” seam is sitting on my waist, but the pattern is drafted with this seam 1cm or so above the waist. I considered shortening the bodice (I often need to) but the bust darts are about right (sorry, can’t see them in my photos). I’ll probably leave this like it is.
  • There’s a bit of excess fabric under the bust at the sides.

Apart from the extra fabric under the arms on the side, the back looks good. Yes that is a fabric marking pencil in my hair. From Paris (so there is a tiny bit of elegance after all!)

The side views show that the bottom edge might need to be leveled


My plan is to use this pattern for this fabric.

It’s an Oscar de la Renta double-faced wool, linen and mohair blend, woven houndstooth with metallic threads and a dark brown laminated back. A fabulous gift from Liz of Designer Fabrics Australia, my favourite online fabric shop!

I’m planning to use it like a double faced fabric, with the laminated side on the outside and the tweed showing on the collar and the turnback.

I need to play around a bit with the fabric, but if I can, I’ll use lapped seams for the vertical seams, to show a little bit of the tweed and highlight the style lines.

Do you think I should try to get rid of that fabric pooling under my bust? The IKEA fabric is not quite as thick as the Oscar De La Renta, and a little bit stiffer. Perhaps a bit of extra ease here won’t be too much of an issue? All advice gladly received!

Oh, and I’m very tempted to cut out another collar piece and a front facing in hot pink for the IKEA coat, chop the coat down to hip length and line it. It could make a fun casual topper! What do you think?



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Lime balls

Have I told you about my great new cooking book?

One of my Christmas presents was the My Petite Kitchen Cookbook.

I love Eleanor’s blog and have been very happy with how her gluten free recipes have turned out (here and here).

I was keen to try some of her other recipes in my “Christmas” book, and New Years Eve was the perfect opportunity for her lemon coconut balls. Not too sweet and refreshingly citrusy. Perfect for a hot summer evening down under. Plus super easy to make.

I repeated the recipe the other weekend with limes. Even better!

I love limes



  • 2 cups (180g) desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (100g) almond meal
  • 80g butter
  • 1/3 cup (115g) honey
  • grated zest and juice of two limes (or one lemon)
  1. Set aside ½ cup of the coconut and put all the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture starts to form a dough.
  3. Use your hands to form small balls.
  4. Roll the balls in the extra coconut (or use prettier, larger coconut flakes instead).
  5. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to set.

The truffles can be kept at room temperature, but are best kept in the fridge. Makes around 25 truffles.  Will keep for 3-4 days. In theory.


Sewing update:

I’m still auditioning patterns for my lovely landscape print

I weakened. Vogue 9021 has been purchased.

I haven’t yet pulled it out of the envelope to see if it fits on my fabric, but I do like this pattern a lot! Also, red booties as cover art. What’s not to love?

And, I have made a teensy bit of progress on my vision of a lovely winter coat in this delightful laminated tweed

“Progress” = pattern traced and IKEA upholstery fabric cutinto for a muslin of BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111

No actual sewing has yet been done…

Posted in Cooking, Dessert, Sewing, WIP | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

The tale of two “muslins”

Are you a muslin (toile) maker? Or do you get straight into the pattern with your fabric and fit as you go (or, like me, hope for the best)?

Felicity’s Big Winter Coat, 2011

I have made muslins in the past, but not very many (like, all of two or three in the last six years…)

This last month, however, I’ve made two muslins, or “wearable muslins”. And not completely intentionally.

Muslin #1.

What is she talking about, you think, looking at this image. Looks like a nice dress, and those diagonal drag lines are probably just from her hand in the pocket. Perhaps a bit tight through the bust? Still, on balance, it looks okay, and the style lines are lovely. Nice fabric too. Looks like a lace overlay.

Yes, yes, yes.

But, wait. You haven’t seen the back.

We have a classic case of bad fabric pooling at the backwaist. This is after trying to fix it too by retrofitting a(nother) sway back (I’d already made that adjustment whilst tracing the pattern off).

This dress pattern is from an Easy Burda Autumn/Winter 2014 BurdaStyle Special: Dress 4e, minus the neck band and faux pocket flaps

The “lace” overlay is a rayon, polyester linen blend, bought from Gay Naffine’s sales some years back.

I underlined it with a self striped stretch cotton and used this same fabric for the plain central sections. I underlined the central section too, with a lighter weight stretch cotton.

The inside view

I know. I should’ve made a muslin first. Now all I’ve got is a nicely sewn wearable muslin using lovely fabrics.


Muslin #2

I didn’t want to make that mistake again, so, for my next dress, I trialed the pattern first in a polyester twill from deep in the stash.

And this one turned out almost completely wearable!

This is Burdastyle 09/2012 #134

No puddling at the back waist on this one, although there is some extra fabric under the arms.

You can see it at the front too: a bit saggy above the waist under my bust, and side on as well.

Apart from this, I’m pleased with the fit.

I might even wear it like it is, with its blue exposed zip (it was close at hand and the right size, and this was just a muslin), obvious machine hem (I needed to check hem length with heels, and this is a muslin after all), and slightly stretched out neckline (no staystitching, see previous comment).

This pattern was muslined for this fabric:

I am very happy with the pattern and still think it would work, but I can’t get Ruth of corecouture‘s, suggestion of Vogue 9021 out of my mind.

Then Gabrielle of UpSewLate recently made a beautiful version.

I might not have enough fabric for those big sleeves though… so still thinking about it. If Spotlight have a $5 Vogue sale anytime soon, you know what I’ll be buying!

Meanwhile, I have another muslin to make.


Formal Dress for Felicity

Felicity’s school has a formal in May for the Year 11 students as well as the Year 12’s. Actually, there is one formal but both years go, so that means a formal for two years. She has relatively low frock expectations for Formal Number One. Phew.

BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130 is her current plan. It’s a German designer pattern, Talbot Runhof, that doesn’t appear to be available as a pdf download.

We don’t have any fabric yet. It seems there is nothing suitable in my very large stash!

I will need to add a FBA to the bodice and the bodice overlay. I guess I will rotate the horizontal side dart I add into the neck tucks and the vertical dart into the side seam for the overlay. Any advice will be gratefully received!

It will also be interesting to see how this style works when it’s on a body that needs a FBA. Yay for muslining!

Yes, I have learnt my lesson.


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Jungle January Swap Dress

Dark chocolate and white stripes. My favourite type of Zebra.

Lightweight linen. My favourite summer fabric.

Loose fitting dress pattern. Another summer favourite.

Piping and a metal zip in the right colours. I love my notions stash!

A fabric swap with a fellow sewist. This garment has all of my favourite things!

Thanks, Anne and Lara, for the Jungle January Swap. It’s been fabulous fun!


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Rare Jungle January sighting…Don’t tell Anne

It’s a rare Jungle January sighting at the He Cooks…She Sews corner of the Game Park. We were convinced that Jungle January Swap garments would not actually be sewn in January. But we were wrong.

We think Anne, the Scary GameKeeper, might have some strict rules about when Jungle January Swap finished objects are actually allowed to be paraded.

So that’s all we’re brave enough to show.

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Jungle January update

I am pretty certain I am not going to make up my Jungle January swap in January. But you need at least an update in January, right?

I have the pleasure of Lara of Thornberry as my swap partner. You know, *that* Lara who sews fifteen garments and blogs about them in the time I take to even think about what I *might* sew. She is amazing. I can’t even use the “but I work full time” excuse with her. She does that too! And has school age children. Definitely wonder woman.

These are the delights she sent me.

Imagine my squeals (there could have been a few *roars* *braying* and *trumpeting* too) when this parcel arrived on Saturday. Not just delightful linen fabric in zebra print but trims, notions, a belt and a collar too! I am very lucky.

And, even more wonderful, the linen was prewashed. I had an hour spare (it was the Australia Day weekend and was jam packed with non sewing activities) so I cut Vogue 8805 out that very afternoon. Fastest fabric in and pattern sorted ever! Perhaps some of Lara’s magic came with the parcel?

I’ve cut all but the bottom band in the zebra print. I’ve used a white linen in my stash for the bottom band, just to break up the zebra stripes a bit.

Now the pieces sit next to my sewing machine, silently whinnying at me in reproach.


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BurdaStyle Magazine subscription

Remember my unhappiness that my December issue Burdastyle arrived completely sodden with water? I heard nothing from Abopress, the people in France who I subscribe through. Despite emails and sending messages through the helpdesk. Nothing.

Then the January issue arrived, also water damaged.

It was just after incredibly hot windy weather in Adelaide. Bushfires in the hills behind where I live. The weather conditions in the delivery location were not the reason for the water damage!

I was not happy. That is an understatement.

I sent another email to Abopress.

Said I wanted these issues replaced. Said I expected a response within 7 days. Said I’d cancel my subscription if they didn’t respond. In English and bad but probably amusing French.


They didn’t respond.

I felt extremely unimportant and frustrated. L

I had gone back to work after the 7 days ultimatum was up and hadn’t got around cancelling my subscription. Another problem was, of course, that the email I was not getting a response from was also the email I used for my subscription…

In turned out that procrastination was the right thing to do.

A new December issue arrived on Friday.

No note, no email to explain?? Crazy customer relations.

It is nice to have a glossy smooth copy though!

Now let’s hope they do the same for the January issue. I still don’t know if it was the email or the helpdesk message that worked though.



Response within 24hours of a message on their helpdesk!! A new January issue is coming my way. Isabelle at Abopress hopes it keep dry. Well done Abopress!

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