Silk chiffon tablecloth dress: BurdaStyle 03/2015 #121

Another awards dinner. What a social whirl wind my life is! Ha. It is. So. Not. But it did mean that another dress required.

The wonderful online sewing community* gave me courage to cut into a silk chiffon that has been in my stash for far too long

*Thanks @bimbleandpimble for hosting #bpsewvember!

This fabric was perfect for this style (Burdastyle 03/2015 #121)

Lining a silk chiffon dress would have been an excellent idea, but instead I purchased a short RTW slip in black.

The black slip ends just above the mid thigh side slits (where my fingers are in the photo below), but all the horizontal lines in the fabric mean it’s not a sharp cutoff line

The only things I did differently to last time was to omit the in-seam pockets and use self made bias rather than a facing for the neckline. The V was a bit tricky. Best not to look too close on the inside. Oh and I also used a selvedge strip to reinforce the zip opening.

I tried not to over stress about pattern matching at seams (impossible shifty fabric to cut out..), so I’m pleased that it turned out not too bad through the centre back zip

So that’s me using the same pattern again… I’m even thinking of making a third version of this dress in a knit. Apart from basics like pencil skirts, I never do that. Have I inadvertently got older and wiser? Heaven forbid!

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Black tie: BurdaStyle Designer original 12/2013 #130

This time the fancy evening frock sewing was for me. He who Cooks and I had a black tie event to attend.

I love how this dress turned out.

I have used this pattern before: Felicity’s year 11 formal. Hers was a fluorescent abstract print. Mine is much more like the designer intended. Black.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130.

Size: 36-44, I made a 42.


I’ve been keeping a cotton nylon self stripe in my stash for just the right project. This was it!

This fabric has great body and it wonderfully crisp, so it was perfect for the bodice and waist tucks. Plus, french seams were a joy to make in this lovely well behaved fabric.

It’s sheerness was not a problem for this design, because there’s a fitted bodice underneath the crop top and the skirt is also lined. I’m pulling the outer skirt away from the lining in the image above, and you might be able to see the slight sheerness of the crop top in the image below.

The tulip skirt shape is flattering and very easy to wear. A long slit at the back helps even though the shape is very pegged.

As you can see, I left the lining loose.

Changes I made:

The main change was to add a beaded embellishment to the neck line to accentuate the style lines.

This lovely beaded trim was from M&J Trimmings in the Garment District of New York City. Sewing souvenirs are the best!

I used two of the flowers on the back too.

The other change, and you can see the evidence (stitching!) above, was to use bias binding instead of facings on the crop top, and for the hem and slit. M of Nonsuch kindly donated the bias binding. So much easier than cutting out self bias. Thanks M!

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Valedictory Dinner in a Halter Maxi Dress: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #106

Valedictory: bidding farewell, this weekend, to secondary schooling.

Just an exam or two (or in Felicity’s case, about 14!) and it’s all over. So lets go out in style.

Technical details:

Pattern: Burdastyle 06/2016 #106

Size: 34 – 42, I made a 40, sort off, with an FBA, slightly larger waist, a bit higher through the back, plus a swayback adjustment. In other words, I adjusted the pattern to fit….after several muslins.


The outer fabric is a digital printed polyester chiffon from my local fabric store: Ferrier Fabrics. It had a slight crepe-y feel and wasn’t totally terrible to sew with, like polyester chiffons are wont to be.

The inner bodice/underlining was constructed from a remnant of navy polyester taffeta, leftover from an evening dress I made and wore when I was pregnant with Felicity (lots of lovely memories sewn into this dress!). The skirt was lined to mid thigh with acetate lining in navy. I used a simple A-line skirt shape for the lining.

It’s a good design: boning in the bodice give the structure needed, and then the draped and twisted and crossed over, over bodice, adds the softness.

I did the cross over opposite to the design, because this worked better for Felicity.

It was a very lovely evening. Even bad iPhone photos taken in the semi dark can’t take away the smiles!

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Liberty Love in a blouse: Burdastyle 10/2012 #122

I finally did it!

Did what, you ask? Cut into my Liberty of London fabric.

It only took two and a half years.

Purchased in London in April 2014.

Sewn and worn in Adelaide in October 2016.

I’ve understood the love for Liberty prints for a long time. Now I totally get the love for sewing Liberty.

Especially this print. I can have hot pink buttons and yellow button holes.

And look how good it looks without proper ironing… this was photographed straight after the blouse had been to craft night to have buttons sewn on, then folded up and squished in my craft bag for a couple of days.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 10/2012 #122

Size: 36-44, I made a 42, with a 1 cm sway back adjustment – I added a centre back seam for this.

I’m not convinced it made a lot of difference. This style is loose fitting

Changes I made:

I modified the yoke flaps like last time when I used this pattern for Felicity. They are cut out doubled so they end up with a fold at the lower edge. Burda says to finish and turn in the neck edge so they’d turn out like a loop, but I sewed the neck edges together with right sides to right sides. Mine look more like gun flaps from a trench coat.

I added little slits on the ‘cuffs’

I love this fabric

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Sequins: Burdastyle short swing jacket 11/2013 #115

I’d overlooked this design when I’d received this issue, and hadn’t considered it since. Something about the scratched old photo look, beanie and graffiti just didn’t appeal.

But look at the line drawing.

Perfect for sequins….a minimum of seams for which sequin removal would be required, and a drape-y style that would allow lots of movement.

And then I saw what Tanja W. created from this design!

Image from Tanya’s ‘Karl meets Coco’ project page on 

No more hesitation! This was clearly an excellent pattern for what I had in mind for some sequined mesh in the stash.

I wanted a light topper for a sort of boring evening frock I’d worn to the same event the year before.

The event was a black tie affair in the Great Hall of our National Parliament, so I figured a bit of sequined bling would work.

Lets talk about the fabric.

My sequined fabric is not your traditional sequined number. It is made up of clear plastic sequins sewn onto mesh, and then the whole thing is printed in an abstract almost wood grain pattern.

As you can see here where I’m part way through removing sequins for the neck binding strip, the sequins weren’t all beautifully lined up before printing, so there’s a bit of extra randomness to the design.

The colours are muted greens and browns, but the shininess of the plastic catches the light, so there is an overall silver-y fish scale-y effect.

I removed sequins from every seam allowance and from the hem. It took a very. long. time. And I chose a design with very few seams and then omitted a few more (like the centre back pleat and seam).

I omitted the facings too. The back neck was faced with a strip of the mesh cut across the grain so it was stretchy (after removing all the scratchy sequins). The fronts were cut out with a straight çut-on facing using the selvedge. The selvedge had a wide non sequin part, so that worked well.

I am still finding sequins everywhere.

I don’t think I’ll be sewing with sequins again in a hurry!

But it is a fun jacket to have in my wardrobe. I might even wear it with non evening wear

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Philadelphia and African wax prints

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while you know I have the greatest job in the world. I work with wine and I get to travel to science conferences in all sorts of interesting places. This year has been exceptional.

My latest trip was to Philadelphia.

I managed to squeeze in an afternoon at the Creative Africa Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The textile exhibits and the African wax print fashions were wonderful.

Love the use of the border print up the side of this princess line dress, and through the yoke.

And how can you not love a coat with enormous balls of wool, a chicken family dress or a dress featuring huge shoes?

Embellishment details

The fabric designs are so clever, and fun!..

Love these sewing related ones! And the hand bags.

I came home with some African wax prints of my own from Fabric Row (4th St).

An Angelina print, for my very own dashiki dress perhaps?

and another yellow ‘plaid’ design

My fashion critics at home have already named this one ‘ghost fish’.

Have I convinced you that wax prints are awesome?

The Creative Africa exhibition is still on for a few more days until September 25. If you’re in the area, don’t stop to think about it…. just go!

And then visit the Thinker afterwards. He’s just down the road from the exhibition.

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Is it Winter or is it Spring? BurdaStyle 01/2016 #115 and friends

It’s that changeable time of early Spring. One day is wonderfully sunny and legs and arms are barred. There’s a promise of summer in the air.

The next day its back to grey skies and rain and 15°C as the maximum. All those winter clothes that you are tired of wearing have to come out again.

My last lot of sewing has been a bit like that. Two tops, both in similar styles pattern wise, but worlds apart in expression.

Exhibit A. Winter. Made in a viscose knit from Gay Naffine

Exhibit B. Yeah! Spring! Made in a rayon challis from Britix Fabrics, San Francisco

Both have bows at the neck and full sleeves gathered into a cuff, and both are prints, but one is so much lighter in spirit than the other!

Lets talk about Winter.

Pattern: Burda World of Fashion 9/2007 #101

This is an ancient pattern in terms of the internet sewing community. Nine years old! It’s a BurdaStyle pattern before downloadable PDFs and when BurdaStyle was still called Burda World of Fashion. There’s not even an electronic line drawing!

It’s designed for knits, but I know others in the sewing blogosphere have made it in wovens too

I made this up first forever ago in a synthetic navy knit. It really is forever ago because it predates me posting to Pattern Review. And I started doing that in 2010. It’s still one of my go to work tops. The fabric is amazing. Indestructible.

I’ve been promising myself to make this pattern up again, but the indestructible nature of my first one had conspired against me. No longer!

This pattern has some nice details

A deep V neck with a tie and gathers from the center rather than side bust darts,

and soft gathered sleeves. I added a cuff rather than using elastic. I don’t love elasticized cuffs on sleeves.

I love this fabric, despite its wintery tones. It has silhouette peacocks and a building that looks like Sacre Couer! And birdcages. What’s not to love?

Here’s a back view to show off that fabric a bit more.

Lets digress a bit about the skirt. This is a recent make too. It’s the last of some boiled wool in my stash. This is the third skirt I’ve made from the piece. Felicity has one too, and I used to have another one too. There was a laundry misadventure with that first one.

The notable points about the skirt are the exposed zip, with its zipper guard from novelty fabric

and the lack of a proper hem or seam finishes. Boiled wool. Great stuff for not fraying.

Its lined, and the exposed zip was reinforced with fusible interfacing. I used Tany’s great tutorial for inserting the zip.

Lets move to Spring. Some skirt, different top.

Also, sunlight!

This is from one of this years issue of BurdaStyle. It’s the 01/2016 #115 dress shortened to top length and without the drawstrings on the yokes.Thanks to M of Nonsuch for doing all the tracing work for me. She made a delightful silk version which has sadly not yet made it onto her blog..

EDITED TO ADD  Now blogged at Nonsuch. And with a blog title of One for SewingElle!

The tie neck is lovely and the sleeves are fabulous.

And while they might look ridiculous, the drafting is superb. You really do have to try very hard to drape them through your salad dressing or in the dishwater in the sink.

It must be something to do with their length (not quite full length) and the pronounced curvature of the bottom of the sleeve.

So, my new fruity and floral spring blouse has won my heart, but I think I’ll be very glad of my new winter top, when its cold again.

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Turning souvenir fabric into a winter Tee-top: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #101

Yes I did bring back some fabric souvenirs from Philadelphia. I’ll tell you about them later.

Today is about souvenirs of Brighton.

In particular, a lovely grey and baby blue boiled wool.

I scored the last of that fabric on the roll, and it was only 1.2 m of 120 wide. Options were limited.

Should I make a jacket with contrast sleeves? Or that really simple T-Shirt top in Burdas June issue?

You know, the one that should be made with soft or thin or drape-y fabric.

In other words, all the things my fabric was not.

You know where this is going don’t you?

I give you winter sweater with ridiculous wide and short sleeves

I like it! Despite its being a catalogue of all the things poor fitting: draglines and excess fabric under the arms.

And the pooling in the small of my back (or is that just me trying to stand up too straight?)

In its defense, it really is lovely fabric.

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 06/2016 #103A

The line drawing is not distorted… The top really is that shape

Size: 36-44, I made a 42 and added 5 cm to the length. The fabric has some mechanical stretch so I used a shallow zig zag stitch for construction.

I finished the neck edge with a bias strip of cotton batiste (a remnant from I’ve-done-all-the-dumb-things-dress)

A ‘tag’ to make it easy to tell the front from the back


and inside views

No need for seam finishes or hems on the sleeves (selvedge) or the bottom ( just a cut edge)

And I love the way it can be folded up with such simplicity.

So, the last word?

Very happy this sweater is in my wardrobe. It’s a reminder of Brighton, and of accepting diversity in all aspects of life, even pattern styles.

Plus its cozy and warm and some of my favourite colours.


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In London with Felicity

Warning. Another image heavy post with only a small amount of sewing content.

PSA over. Still with me?

Okay, lets start.

Felicity and I continued to pack a lot in to our remaining 5 days away. World’s best tourists? Most walking between the sights as possible? Most use of bandaids on feet? All of the above? Perhaps.

Big Ben and Westminster

This was our first afternoon in London. We had beautiful sunny weather most days, and this was no exception.

There were one or two rowdy protesters (Tony Blair and the Iraq war was the issue of the day), and a sobering tribute to Jo Cox among the statues of Churchill, Gandhi, Mandela and other famous leaders of Britain and the Commonwealth.

Westminster Abbey

This is a must see even if you only have a passing interest in English history. The audio tour in the interior of the Church is excellent. The cloisters are beautiful. Even the tiles are great!

Tower Bridge

“A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river” said Frank Brangwyn soon after it was built. Really??!

I love the blue paint. It’s been painted in this colour scheme since the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, and was most recently repainted for the Olympics in 2012.

The Tower of London

Another must see.

The tour led by the Beef-eaters is fantastic. The Crown Jewels are magnificent. All of the buildings are fascinating and the level of detail provided in exhibits and signs is great. Well worth the entrance fee.

Our accommodation in Wapping

We stayed in another excellent Airbnb property in London. This was in a block of flats in Wapping, with several good local food shops, including a butcher, just around the corner, and very close to the Thames. There was a festival in Wapping Green on the weekend, which added a lovely vibe. And the local fish and chips were pretty good!

Our flat’s front door was a good blog photo shoot opportunity for BurdaStyle 03/2016 #113 shorts, as was platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross.

I’ve blogged about sewing these shorts, but this is the first time I’ve had a photo of a real life model in them. The scallop pocket detail is very cute.

Buckingham Palace, Green Park and the Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade

Pomp and ceremony, splendid palaces and lovely green parks. How delightfully English!

The National Gallery

Our love of art continued in London. So many glorious paintings.

We were not the only ones enjoying the gallery: we overhead the following at one of the school group sessions.

  • Guide: Have you been to other art galleries?
  • Students (in chorus): Yes.
  • Guide: What have you seen there?
  • Student: Paintings.

Felicity is wearing BurdaStyle 06/2013 #120 (the lobster dress) under Simplicity 2603.

Kensington Palace

This is lovely to visit just on its merits as a royal palace. There’s rooms to explore, exhibits about famous royal tenants, fabulous furniture to look at, clothes to try on, cards to play, beautiful gardens..

..and special exhibits like ‘Fashion Rules Restyled’: four decades of dresses from the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.

That orange caftan style dress of the Queen’s from the seventies is pretty fabulous.

Portobello Road Market

This is a fun place to visit and browse.

Among the alternative fashion, second hand goods and antiques…

..I found some fabulous lace and antique buttons and notions

Afternoon tea in Harrods Food Hall

What better place to have a cuppa?

I’m wearing my chambray jacket made from a Japanese sewing book over a RTW Liberty fabric shirt. The jacket’s roomy pockets and easy going style are perfect for being a tourist. Yes, that’s a Beefeater lapel pin. Newly purchased. All style, that’s me.

A stroll along the Thames: Cleopatra’s Needle, Millennium Footbridge and St Paul’s Cathedral

Shakespeare’s Globe

A clever reconstruction of the playhouse originally built in 1599. It even includes standing only “seats”, to give the authentic Elizabethan experience (2 to 3 hour performances too – so that requires stamina!). We ran out of time this trip, but attending a Shakespeare production at the Globe is now on my bucket list.

Lunch and Liberty

Our last day had more of my favourite things: a long leisurely lunch with Australian friends now living in London and a trip to Liberty. Perfection!

Alright, lets look at those fabrics a bit closer.

The blue and red small floral is a silk, the other two are lawn. Fabric has got to be one of the best souvenirs.


And speaking of that, this Saturday I fly to Philadelphia for another conference and some work meetings. I know. Ridiculous amount of flying this year.

It looks like my schedule will include a few hours free on one of the days. I’m thinking of getting to the Vlisco exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Or should I perhaps check out Philadelphia’s fabric shopping (not that I need any more fabric). Decisions, decisions. Any advice for me?


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Sew, a needle pulling thread

..and following on from talking about some of my favourite things and other quotes from Sound of Music..

I give you dresses made from curtains for attending the Sound of Music this week in Adelaide.

We thank IKEA for supplying the raw materials

and Nanette for organizing the tickets (and photobombing on the night)

The musical was fantastic.

We had a ball.

Thanks to the awesome ladies at the bar who instantly got why we were dressed like this. Our night would have been complete if we’d also managed to get a photo with the two guys in lederhosen…

Technical details


Burdastyle 02/2011 #101

Burdastyle 03/2015 #121 with the in seam pockets of #122


42 for mine, with no changes

38 for Felicity with an FBA and raised neckline. I’d made this dress for her previously in 2011, she still wears it (despite my prediction, this turned out to be a much loved dress) and it still just fits so I used the previously adjusted pattern.

Not a perfect fit, but well and truly fit for purpose

Fabric: Ikea cotton curtains. It’s a somewhat loose weave, so I used strips of interfacing to reinforce the neck lines of both, and the raglan sleeves on the bodice of my dress. I know. I probably will never wear it again, but I couldn’t help myself.

The hems and side seams of the curtain were repurposed as the hems and side slits on my dress, and the eyelets and rings made a nice feature on Felicity’s dress. Also, no hemming by me at all of both dresses. That’s got to be a win!

Yes, the side slits do come up quite high.

And how great is my daughter? How many eighteen year olds would be happy to wear matching mum and daughter floral frocks?

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Paris with Felicity

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my crazy cat coat. Now I need to tell you about Paris.

We had a superb airbnb apartment in Le Marais district.

The view from our studio window into the central courtyard was charming. The apartment itself had delightful exposed beams, not quite straight walls and low ceilings. Le Marais is a very interesting district: aristocratic, wealthy (yes that blue sports car was on our street!), bohemian, ancient, jewish, gay, and with great boutiques, bars and restaurants. We loved it.

We had 4 days in Paris, and we wanted to see a lot, so we packed a lot in.

Musée du Louvre

Magnificent, over whelming, and a must see.

Even waiting in line is not so bad.

We started in the Babylonian antiquities

And that’s Simplicity 2603 waterfall cardigan in black wool merino being worn in way not depicted on the envelope art (back to front).

We enjoyed the interior design section

And we braved the crowds for the famous exhibits

Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées

Yes of course we went there too!

After all that war history, and live army presence, we need some sustenance.


We managed to visit on a day the palace was closed.

Those golden gates were shut, which ever way we looked at it!

I know. Bad planning! We did have a train strike that constrained the days we could go. But still. I think I might be fired as tour guide.

What that meant was a lot more time in the gardens. Like the lucky people who work here.

And the gardens are fabulous. Win win I say.

Someone might want to go back one day and see whats inside.

Tour Eiffel

I love the Eiffel Tower. I know it is clichéd and crawling with tourists, but still, there is something fabulous and wonderful about it.

Palais Garnier

With bonus street style (well, perhaps more like bonus ‘going out to the opera’ style)

Musée D’Orsay

This really is the best art museum

It’s in a re-purposed train station with a view across the Seine, and has Van Gogh.

Oh you want more than van Gogh?

No problem

There quite a few other famous painters there too. Like Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas…

And interior design too.

Loved it!

Almost enough to leave a love lock further down the river

BurdaStyle 10/2012 #122 blouse made in fabric from Scotland being modeled in this photo

Sacré Coeur and Montmartre

No visit to Paris is complete without macarons for afternoon tea after visiting Basilique du Sacré Coeur, and a visit to Marché St Pierre, Montmartre for fabric shopping.

These lovely African wax prints followed me home.

Notre Dame

And lets finish this blog post with one of my favourite things.

As Felicity reminded me, Maria in the Sound of Music says ‘When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window’.

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Crazy Cat Lady Coat: BurdaStyle 12/2011 #114 and some more European travel

Isn’t it ridiculous? In a good way. Of course.

The zip is functional and accentuates the design’s lovey boule shape.

Flattering? No.

Fun? Yes!

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2011 #114

Size: 38-46, I made a 42.

Fabric: Cotton canvas upholstery weight fabric, from IKEA, lined with Sunsilky – a polyester lining with good breathability.

Changes I made: This one was made to Burda’s plan, apart from the petersham trim. I auditioned some black trim, but it wasn’t adding much. Those cats are enough!

Pattern matching like a boss. Those cat faces weren’t quite symmetrical, but I didn’t let that put me off!

I didn’t finish the coat in time to take it with me. But as it turned out, the weather was so marvelous I didn’t really need it.

So where did I go?

Nyon, Switzerland

I was at Macrowine 2016, a wine science conference held at Changins, Haute Ecole de Viticulture et Oenologie.

Most of the Changins team, with the Chair of the conference, Julien Ducruet (front left), Vicente Ferreira, Zaragoza, Chair of the next Macrowine in 2018 (front middle) and Maurizio Ugliano, Verona, Chair of Macrowine 2020 (front right).

Great people, excellent conference and a wonderful location for both the conference and associated social events and vineyard excursions

The Lavaux vineyards, overlooking Lake Geneva

Chateau de Nyon. Dates back to the 13th century but rebuilt in the 15th. A lovely location for welcome drinks.

An exhibit at the Olympic Games Museum, Lausanne, where the gala dinner was held

Who would have thought that I’d find something of sewing interest at the Olympic Games Museum in Lausanne?

This is the first Olympic flag sewn by seamstresses at Le Bon Marché in Paris. I know they would not have had the machines we have today, but the lack of precision cutting and sewing did surprise me.

Conference outfit of the day photo

Featuring a new skirt. It’s my TNT pencil skirt pattern with two small side slits rather than a walking vent at the back. Worn with a Paco Peralta cowl top and a RTW jacket.


After Macrowine, I visited colleagues at Groupe ESC Dijon-Bourgogne, School of
Wine and Spirits in Dijon, France. We had coffee and croissants at the University and then went on a vineyard tour. Vineyard tours are very important things to do for grape and wine scientists!

Biodynamic grapegrowing in Burgundy includes one horse- ( and one woman) power cultivation

My tour guides were Prof Roberta Crouch, seconded from the University of Adelaide, and Claude Chapuis, associate professor of French culture, viticulture and oenology, pictured here at Domain Maurice Chapuis. Claude is from a winegrowing family going back five generations. #LocalsAreTheBestTourGuides! We stopped to pick up the family dog so he could come for the walk around the Aloxe-Corton vineyards too.

As well as teaching, Claude also writes books about wine in German, French and English: like this one I came across whilst browsing in the bookshop later.

He is a wonderfully knowledgeable, interesting and totally lovely man.

Château de Clos de Vougeot (top left) Château de Corton André (centre), and other vineyards in Aloxe-Corton.

The Clos de Vougeot vineyards were established by Cistercian monks in the 12th century. Château de Corton André is a ‘youngster’ from the late 19th century. Claude had some very interesting stories about the owners of some of these beautiful chateaux. Gambling debts…parties…scandals..

At Domaine Maurice Chapuis.

Maurice, Claude’s brother, joined us later. The cellars were very atmospheric: mouldy dusty bottles and St Vincent, the patron suit of winegrowers and winemakers. The wines were magnificent. I’m in Burdastyle (cotton skirt is a modification of 12/2013 #109, silk blouse is 07/2011 #121).

Hospices de Beaune

This hospital for the poor was found in the 15th century by Philip the Good (great name!) and has been in use as a hospital up until the 1970’s. Claude was born there. Probably his parents, grandparents, great grand parents and great great grandparents were too. Amazing stuff.

Historical winemaking equipment, including a mobile press (bottom right)

This small exhibition was tucked away in a corner of Beaune and would be easy to miss. Not if you are with Claude.

Then … I met Felicity in Paris and we had delightful mother and daughter time in Paris and London. And bought some fabric and lace and buttons. But those stories will have to wait for another post..

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Brighton fabric shopping and other travelling stuff

I have the best job. I’m a wine scientist and I get to go to wine conferences all around the world. And usually in very nice places.

Like Brighton, England.

Brighton Pier, from the perspective of a merry-go-round horse

Who knew that English sparkling wine had become so good? Not all the consequences of climate change are bad!

The Pier at night, and the beach early one weekend morning

The conference itself was terrific, and a lot of thought went into the social events too.

We had a welcome reception at the Brighton Pavilion Museum, wine tasting at the Aquarium (suitably lit with rainbow colours, and fortunately the wine was not accompanied by sushi as initially planned… I kid you not), and a very British themed gala dinner in the Hilton Metropole’s ball room (wine options, a quiz show, a charity raffle then a Beatles tribute band).

Lots of fun.

Brighton itself is full of life, and full of lots of interesting shops. I showed remarkable restraint. That restraint was very much aided by me having a very small amount of free time and a very specific shopping list.

Dïtto Fabrics delivered!

What a great shop. Had the best conversation with a fellow sewist and Gill, the owner. Sewing peeps are the best!

I came home with two suitings (one wool, one linen, both reversible) and a boiled wool with an pastel overprinted pattern.


So what’s happening now I’m home? Apart from petting those new fabrics?!

It’s all about IKEA home decorating fabrics at the moment.

IKEA project #1

I’m making as summer weight coat from this upholstery fabric. And I’m very pleased with how the pattern matching is going. That’s a side seam and a horizontal pocket you’re looking at.

I’d love to get this done before I fly out again in a few days time to go to another wine conference . This time it’s Switzerland. I know, I know, it really is a terrible job I have.

IKEA project #2

This project is still at the flat pack stage.

Felicity and I have a Sound of Music performance to attend in August. We have to have dresses made out of curtain fabric. Have to.

Shall I go all dirndl-y or should I treat this more like a toile and try out some new patterns?


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The ‘Your time starts now’ skirt

As ridiculous as it is, I made a skirt to wear on the plane just 2 hours before I had to travel.

Yes it does match my suitcase colour

I know. It was just an elastic- waisted skirt with two seams, darts and a hem, but still. I feel all Great British Sewing Bee about it!

Sometimes the #SimpleThingsInLife are the best.

Let me show you a better picture of it

Keeping it real here with slippers and morning coffee.

You can see I made another version of BurdaStyle 023/2016 #103 , too. This one is in delightfully patterned cotton jersey that came to me via designerfabricsaustralia. Its super stretchy. I think it might ends up as marvelous pajamas.

Back to the skirt. It was fabulous for travelling. Easy to move in. Maybe a bit short? Fabulous bright colour. Didn’t crush or wrinkle much. Scuba, so 100% polyester. Lucky it wasn’t too hot…

What did I see and do whilst travelling? If you follow me on Instagram, you might have already seen some of this…

Beautiful Turkey through the plane window. Great weather started even before I arrived.

Scenes around St Pauls Catherdral- walking around on the day you arrive is jetlag remedy #1.

Berwick St London fabric window shopping – jetlag remedy #2

A day in the London office. What a building! With the early morning view around the Strand on the walk there. I was so lucky with weather.

After all that hard work (seriously, it was great to catch up with the London team), I was off to Brighton for a wine conference.

I know. My life is very hard.

More about Brighton (Ditto Fabrics!) in the next post.


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Very Hungry Caterpillar shirt and shorts: BurdaStyle 06/2013 #120 and 03/2016 #113

Alternative title: Late summer sewing I neglected to blog about earlier.

Alternative to the alternative title: three blog posts in as many days? what is going on?

Let’s go back to Felicity’s formal. That event needed an after party (AP) outfit.

White shorts and a cute shirt was my brief. Specifically, a cute shirt made from Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric.

(image source)

I was time poor, so a previously adjusted pattern was used: BurdaStyle 06/2013 #120

Back in October 2013, this pattern made a shirt-dress with lobsters and other food.

Cut shorter, and two and a half years later, this pattern made a fitted shirt with caterpillar and food. Hmm bit of a food thing going on here

A demure knee length skirt was not, of course, what she paired the shirt with at the AP!

The AP outfit was completed with white shorts and converse. I have no photos from the night. But trust me, it was cute.

I’ll tell you more about the shorts soon. Let’s stick with the caterpillar for a bit.

The shirt has a unique collar. Totally intentional of course (tongue firmly in cheek)

That’s what happens when you don’t have instructions with you, your traced pattern doesn’t include all markings, and you’re a bit of a shirt collar newbie.

Tab collars, I call them. Or gaping mouths. Totally on song for the fabric

Okay, confession over

For the shorts, I used a pattern from a recent BurdaStyle: 03/2016 #113

I might have even made these in the same month as I received the magazine. That happens only very occasionally.

This was my first fly front for more than twenty years. Burda’s instructions were not stellar. Heard that before?

The pocket trim is very cute.

The stretch cotton I used for the shorts has been in my stash for ages. It’s a ‘souvenir fabric’; from G Street Fabrics in Washington DC, a souvenir of an American Chemical Society annual meeting.


Now, talking about souvenir fabrics, I’m looking for some advice. London and Brighton advice.

I have work travel next week. It will include a tiny amount of free time: half an afternoon on the day I arrive in London (I call this walking around to get over jet-lag ) and perhaps half a Saturday afternoon after my conference ends in Brighton.

Should I sight-see or should I souvenir-fabric shop?

I’m kidding of course. My sightseeing will be fabric and sewing themed.

In London I’m thinking the high end fabric stores in Berwick Street, Soho. I think this might end up a bit more like a museum visit than a visit with intent to purchase. But I’ve not been to these shops before, and I have been to Goldhawk Road  and Liberty (and still have the fabric in the stash to show for it.. I need to sew more…). I would so love to visit the Man Outside Sainsburys, but my schedule doesn’t permit.

In Brighton I’m thinking Ditto Fabrics. I have also been commissioned to purchase chocolate from Choccywoccydoodah. Chocolate is close enough to fabric, right?

What do you think? Other things I should do or places I should go?

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