Top fail times three (or fourth time lucky)

This was the inspiration.

And this is what was eventually made.

Why did it take four attempts??

Well the skirt was the easy bit. I just had to find the fabric. Thanks, Mood Fabrics (and a work commitment that took me to the US!).

The top was the tricky bit.

First try was the top (03/2013 #116) as featured by Burda.

Nice and boxy isn’t it? Felicity needs a FBA for fit, so I added a side dart to my draft and made up a trial version in a drapey polyester.

So, it was “okay”, but the neck was too high, says Felicity. A dart in a lace fabric? says me. Why not try an FBA that doesn’t add a dart? Like that great tutorial by Paprika Patterns.

The next draft had an FBA without the dart, and with the neck lowered a bit. Sensibly, I made this is a silk mousseline which mimicked the stiffness of my real fabric a little better.

This got the thumbs down too. Partly because of the colour ( I though it was a masterly match with the yellow in the floral skirt but apparently it was too much like a set of sheets from her childhood that were not loved.. Kids!).

French seams and all!

And the most beautifully finished bias on the neckline!

Oh well, it was fun making it (and I can wear it , so.. score 1 for Mum!)

But as well as being an un-favourite shade of yellow, the sleeves were annoyingly tight (Fadanista said that too) and the dropped shoulders were not loved.

Time to look for another pattern.

What about a crop top, I suggested. BurdaStyle 02/2015 #127 should do the job? The teenager heartily agreed!

I added a small 1 cm FBA, since the amount of ease was generous. I rotated the FBA back into the diagonal dart so that the style line was preserved.

The test version in blue flowered cotton was approved.

I made it with a back seam (and a keyhole opening with a button at the top) rather than open, as drafted.

I was onto something here! My last remaining change was to lower the front hem a little and then I cut the “lace” out.

This is an embroidered organza. I purchased it from Gay Naffine’s final designer fabric clearance, but, coincidentally, Tessuti has posted something that looks identical this weekend (thanks Jann, for letting me know! I’ve been avoiding the Tessuti website for obvious reasons—seen my stash lately?!)

Organza meant French seams. On sleeves with pointed almost square inserts. I caved and sewed normal seams and then trimmed one of the allowances, folded the other under and stitched. Sort of like lapped seams.

The final effect wasn’t too bad ( this is looking down on one of the cap sleeves before the side seam was sewn).

I trimmed and turned under the darts too.

The neck and keyhole opening at the back was finished with bias plain organza. Which is apparently terribly itchy. Ahh, one must suffer for fashion I say!

Lets have another look at the finished item.

The shape is good

The stiffness can make it a bit cape-like.

The lower back hem is nice.

And the shoes are a great addition to a lovely outfit.

And, on a more serious note, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris, and people everywhere living in the shadow of terrorism.

Thanks for reading.

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Moroccan-style chicken with pomegranate and fennel couscous, plus bonus home decorating. And a tutorial on box corners.

Now if that title doesn’t put you off, you’re a star!

The weekend before last was a milestone one for me. I cooked Sunday lunch (He who Cooks does all the cooking normally). And I made outdoor cushion covers. The flowering wisteria made me do it.

The inspiration behind the cooking was David Herbert from The Australian. I love his recipes!

Moroccan-style chicken

adapted from David Herbert

  • 8 chicken thigh fillets
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon pork dripping ( or olive oil, but I used pork dripping, because we’d had a pork roast the night before)
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground fresh ginger
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek paste ( or other chilli paste, such as the harissa paste David suggests)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 red capsicums, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded spinach
  • I fresh chilli, sliced for garnish
  1. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper and ground cumin.
  2. Heat the fat in a large non-stick frying pan and add onion, garlic and ginger.
  3. Cook for 4 minutes; remove onion et al and add chicken pieces.
  4. Cook chicken for about 3 minutes each side.
  5. Add tomatoes, chilli paste, honey and ¾ cup water or stock.
  6. Stir in capsicum and spinach. Simmer gently for about 25 minutes, or until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened slightly.
  7. Sprinkle with sliced fresh chilli, and parsley. Serves 6-8

Warm couscous, fennel & pomegranate salad

adapted from David Herbert

  • 200g instant couscous
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons pork fat (see above, substitute olive oil for health and authenticity reasons!)
  • 75g pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Seeds from a pomegranate
  • Prepare couscous according to packet instructions.
  • Cut fennel lengthwise into 3-4mm thick slices.
  • Heat fat in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook pine nuts, stirring, until golden.
  • Add garlic, fennel and zucchini; cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.
  • Stir mixture through couscous.
  • Add herbs and pomegranate seeds, tossing well.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6-8

Home dec sewing

The inspiration behind this was the gorgeous spring weather, flowering wisteria and an outdoor eating area with attractive but uncomfortable chairs that needed seat cushions.

I had already bought upholstery fabric, and calico covered cushions from IKEA. That was last summer. Now it was spring. Time to sweep up the purple snow and do something about those chairs!

I cut the covers out in one piece that wraps all the way ’round the cushion insert.

There is a seam at the top curved side, with a zip, and down both sides. There is no seam at the square bottom edge, where the back of your knees are when you are sitting down. So I had to make box corners.

I don’t think I’ve ever made box corners before. Clearly I have never made a proper tote bag.

And, so I don’t forget for next time, I took some construction photos. Also I like the way the fabric looks from the inside, and close up.

Okay, here’s the tutorial.

  1. After you’ve added the invisible zip to the top edge, sew all the way down the side seam to the folded edge

2. Turn the fabric so the seam runs through the center of a triangle

3. Press the seam flat, taking care not to press the diagonal folds

4. Sew across the seam. My cushion side edge was 3 cm, so I sewed a line about 2.7 cm long from diagonal edge to diagonal edge (I know, clear as mud. Go and search YouTube for a real tutorial!)

This is what it looked like after stitching

5. Trim the seam

6. Turn it out to the right side, and viola! a box corner! Repeat for the other side.

7. Add cushion, zip it up and repeat until you have 6 covers.

8. Enjoy the outdoor dining and vow to do no more home dec sewing. Ever. Or at least until 6 months time..

Posted in Cooking, Sewing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Pattern placement is not easy! Burdastyle 10/2014 #105

This fabulous printed stretch fabric seduced me in New York City. I knew it would make a great knit dress.

And how much fun is that print?!

It has girders, cityscapes, buildings, bright flowers, sunset-water reflections, and flowering cherries.

But what bits should I put where?

I’d purchased 3 m, but with a close to 70 cm pattern repeat, I didn’t really have a lot of choice. The dark blue girder section had to go under my bust.

The question was more about whether the cherry trees should be on the side, or through the middle. If they went through the middle, the whole dress would be darker and the red and yellow flowers would be sort of lost and obscured by a darker building, but the trees would have featured. And I really like the trees.

But the trees didn’t win. Having the yellow and red flowers and then the lovely soft pink near my face swayed me…

You can still see the trees from the side

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 10/2014 #105

Size: 34-42, I made a 44. I traced off the 42 and then did a cheats draft out to a 44 by cutting the front out on the fold with the pattern piece 1 cm away from the fold and the same for the back, but angling from nothing at the neck down to 1 cm at the hem.

I should have drafted a centre back seam and made a sway back adjustment. But I couldn’t bear to cut up the print.

There is some pooling at the waist as a consequence.

Fabric: I don’t know for sure but it’s probably polyester spandex from the feel of it. Sort of like light weight spanx, but without a huge amount of stretch- about 30%. It could almost be swimwear. Then it would be a nylon lycra mix. It came from Spandex House in New York City.

Changes I made

All pretty minor – I shortened the overall dress length by 5 cm and changed the sleeves to ¾ length. The sleeves are drafted overly long so they can be scrunched up. I’m not a fan of this look and it irritates me when I wear sleeves that have to be pushed up.

This pattern was also available as a colour blocked top. Isn’t it cute? And a great use of knit scraps.

The top part of the sleeve for this top was almost perfect for what I wanted. I cut my dress sleeves out on this line, without a hem allowance, and then turned up a 3 cm hem.

This is a good pattern.

The waterfall neckline really is lovely and the yoke formed by wrapping the back piece over to the front adds a nice bit of framing, plus additional stability to the shoulder.

And aren’t those Manchurian Pear blossoms magnificent?

Three weeks ago just a few buds were swelling on a bare tree, and the promise of spring was in the air.

Now we have a tree smothered in flowers and buzzing with bees:

I love spring.

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BurdaStyle 10/2012 #128 midi length fail.

Gorgeous isn’t it?

Let’s see how it translates.

Not so gorgeous.

To be fair, both the skirt and sleeve hems are unfinished, but it was dowdesville, costume-y, and there was no way I was going to wear it.

Shorter looked like it might be better.

35 cm later

35 times more wearable!

Technical details

Pattern: Burdastyle 10/2012 #128

Size: 36-44. It probably ended up more like a 40 or 42 through the bodice. I traced off a 44 and ‘petite-d’ the bodice (removed 2 cm in length front and back above the bust).

After trying it on I took in the sides seams above the raised waist at least 1 cm each and the centre back seam by up to 2 cm each side at the top of the zip. My side seam alterations raised the armscye by 2 cm.

It is still a bit loose through the back.

I scooped out about 2 cm from the bodice to skirt seam between the bust tucks, back to nothing at the tucks themselves. It’s still a bit poofy. I don’t fill out the bust area enough.

Fabric: A mystery jacquard from Winmill Fabrics in Boston. It takes a press beautifully but doesn’t crease too badly. Perhaps there some rayon in it? I should do a burn test!

Whatever the composition, its light drapey-ness, makes for a fun swirly cocktail frock!

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Other NYC attractions. And Boston too

I know. What else would be as good as the Garment District?

But there are some other places that are mildly interesting. Such as:

Times Square

Fabulous for people watching.

And for reduced tickets to Broadway shows

We had a wonderful evening! Le Mis is such a great story and this production of it was excellent

Yes, the Paco Peralta cowl top also went to New York. And to Boston. Here it is under a RTW jacket, on my way to the conference in Boston.

This is a great pattern and, in this cotton voile, the top is ideal for summer travelling. Cool to wear, quick and easy to wash and dry in a hotel room and looks good under a jacket if you need to look a bit more pulled together.

New York Public Library

Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial

The Statue of Liberty

and other views from the water

The Highline

A disused elevated rail line converted into a lovely walkway, with a cottage garden feel to it and a sense of community.

What a great idea. We saw street art from a different vantage point, street style photographers (why are they always so stylish and photo- worthy themselves?) and a spot for anyone to add to a lego cityscape. I’ve never seen so many white lego blocks before.

Rooftop bar in Little Korea

Yes, that is the Empire State Building above our bar.


The real reason I was in the US was not to shop in the Garment District of NYC or sip cocktails in rooftop bars. It was to meet with colleagues in Washington DC and attend a chemistry conference in Boston.

Some of the products at the trade show associated with the conference:

Well this is not quite sewing content, but it’s the closest I’ve ever seen a chemistry conference get!

Boston is such an interesting mix of old and new. I love this image of the Old State House, built in 1713, with more modern buildings behind

And there are plenty of other examples of old and new in Boston

I noticed a yellow fire hydrant in front of a yellow bus, and then I saw yellow fire hydrants with other yellow objects, everywhere.

And in between all that chemistry conferencing I managed to buy another piece of fabric.

Winmill Fabrics was just around the corner from my hotel. How could I resist this drapey abstract floral jacquard in silvery blues?

It seems just perfect for this pattern (BurdaStyle 10/2012 #128). And I have an event coming up that needs a fancy frock.

I’ve always loved this pattern and this image (I think the hats might be part of the appeal).

I’m not sure the reversed pleats and the empire waist will be my friend, and the abstract floral with this design could look a bit dowdy, but I think I’ll give it a try.

Wish me luck!

Posted in travel | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Visiting New York’s Garment District

How has your July and August been?

I have had a great winter. I escaped twice to the northern hemisphere. Two lots of almost two week blocks of summer. (I know. I am very lucky). You’ve already heard about the first ‘escape’ to Northern Italy. The second one was to the US East Coast. It included a few days of free time in New York City with Samantha, a ‘craft lady’ from Adelaide.

You know what that meant. Garment District.


M&J Trimmings

A truly magnificent selection of ribbons, lace, trims, buttons, buckles, hardware…

Samantha and just some of the wonderful ribbons.

It was not possible to walk away without buying at least one of these beauties.

I so wished I had a project that needed feathers

Even the sticky tape dispensers were be-trimmed

Pacific Trimming

This place is zipper heaven

B&J Fabrics

Samantha posing with the mannequins

There were stunning designer fabrics here. A bit like visiting a museum.

Leather impact

We saw some amazing skins and hides here.

I was sorely tempted by a butter-soft baby blue leather. I need to brush up on my leather sewing skills. The last time I worked with leather was in my twenties (a tight black leather skirt for myself and my cousin – we looked great!)

Spandex House

No natural fibres were harmed in the creation of this explosion of colour and design!

I found a lovely springtime cityscape ITY print to bring home

And that striped fabric in the right hand corner was purchased too, but not at Spandex House.

Keep reading…

Mood Fabrics

Once we got here, I wondered why we had bothered going elsewhere. It’s truly a wonderful store. Totally lives up to expectations!

Some of the fabrics that ‘got away’

I didn’t leave this shop empty handed.

Two cotton voiles:


Birds and flowers and maps and botanicals! (excuse the multiple images; the pattern repeat is huge)

A vibrant stretch cotton chock-a-block with nasturtiums

A beautiful digital print polyester twill ( the last yard on the roll! lucky me)

And a most interesting mesh-like-knitted navy and white stripe cotton. The stripes are about 6 cm wide

It has good stretch and recovery, but I don’t think there is any spandex or similar elastic yarn in it. And neither did Etyjn- the stylish Eastern European-accented out of work fashion designer cutting the fabric for me at Mood- after he did a burn test.

Seriously, that’s what he did- pulled out a lighter and did the test on a scrap of fabric right there and then. I gawped, just like the out-of-towner that I was. Then the next out-of-work-designer at another cutting station did the same thing when I asked about fibre composition on another fabric. Clearly it’s just a thing they do. I loved it! I felt surrounded by amazing fabrics and encompassed about by stylish fashion experts with deep knowledge of textiles.

Enough gushing. Back to the fabric. The stretch seems to be knitted in: see that crimp in the thread fraying from the edge? I’m thinking this needs to be made into a slouchy summer sweater, perhaps with a hood. I don’t have a lot of fabric (suitcase size restrictions!) so it will have to be sleeveless or colour blocked.

Thank you Mood!

(Yes, my Jungle January dress went to New York too)

Posted in Sewing, travel | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

A dress for Granny’s wedding: Burdastyle 12/2014 #112

Back to regular sewing posts!

Felicity needed a new dress for her Granny’s wedding. Isn’t it lovely that her Granny was getting married again? Love is wonderful at every age.

Felicity had great ideas for an outfit, but we didn’t manage to find any suitable fabric in time. I was also too busy gallivanting around the world traveling for work, so time was limited.

So a compromise was struck. A stretch woven cotton jacquard in pale blue was purchased. A previous dress pattern was used.

Technical Details

Pattern: I based this on BurdaStyle 12/2014 #112 that I’d used recently for the hot rocks dragon skin dress. This time I omitted the triangular inserts at the front and back neck, the godet, the zip and shortened the sleeves.

The line drawing would look more like this:

Size: 36-44, I sort-of-made a 40 with a FBA. I say sort of 40, because I cut the pattern pieces out without barely any seam allowances, apart from the sleeves and armscyes and neck. Why? I didn’t have quite enough fabric and it had lots and lots of stretch.

Fabric: A stretch cotton jacquard from Catwalk Fabrics– a local, small but well curated high end fabric shop.

I drafted a neck facing from a remnant of silk twill (actually the sleeves from a failed project due to not prewashing fusible interfacing). A little piece of lace was added as a back label, and for prettiness.

It was a sunny day, but not yet spring-like enough for the dress to be worn on its own. So, she borrowed my jacket.

How did that happen? Not so long ago she was a sweet little girl with a baby brother! Now look at them!

Clearly I didn’t get the memo about pink and blue. I also ran out of time to make a new outfit, so I’m wearing a Burdastyle dress sewn a year or so ago and a Burdastyle jacket sewn even earlier.

Doesn’t He Who Cooks look smashing? That double pocket square perfectly matches in with his tie. That was made possible, at the last minute, by my large fabric stash.

You know I’m going to bring this up every time there is a raised eyebrow about me adding to that stash!

Such a happy day.

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I repeat the warning on the last post! Lots of travel stuff, and only a teeny bit of sewing content in this post. And image heavy..

Okay, where was I? Ah yes. Going to Venice.

The train trip there from Trento was an excellent harbinger of what was to come: I shared a compartment with a lovely family, who shared their guide book with me. And, I had a sewing magazine to read! (the Sewing Princess has posted a review of this issue).

Sewing and traveling. Two of my favourite things to do.

Back to Venice. Everyone knows about it and lots have been. So many expectations. We hear it’s romantic, enchanting, but full of tourists, expensive and smelly.

Well that’s all true. But, I loved it.

The water ways, the golden light in the evening, the foot bridges, the wonderful old buildings.

Piazza San Marco (St Marks Square) in the early morning, without all the tourist hordes, and late at night, with all the hordes and their cousins too, for the fireworks for the Festa del Redentore. Wonderful atmosphere. Fireworks that went on and on and on.

And you have to go on a gondola in Venice, don’t you? They are frightfully expensive, and clichéd, but, that close-to-the-water and under-all-bridges perspective is something special.

I met up with some colleagues and friends in Venice and here we are, pushing off from the wharf.

I was rather ‘stern’. Wonderfully placed for photos, though, at the front of the gondola.

Okay, brief sewing diversion. My top is Paco Peralta’s cowl top, sewn in a cotton voile. It was perfect for the very hot weather in Venice: over 33°C (over 90°F) every day with relative humidity of at least 80%. I thought it was a bit loose when I made it, but I was very pleased with its looseness in Italy!

An outfit of the day shot from earlier in the week. This top washes and wears well too. And yes I am trying to improve taking selfies and mirror shots.

The skirt is me-made too. Burdastyle 12/2013 #109. I must blog about it!

Okay, back to Venice and gondolas.

I went to the fish market too, and the fruit and veg one

So much delicious food in Italy!

Can you see the reflection? Cue another sewing diversion!

This linen dress was another fabulous addition to my travel wardrobe. I wore it three times in less than two weeks! Linen and loose – perfect for hot weather and fast to wash and dry. Thanks Lara and Anne. Jungle January rocked on in Venice as Jungle July!

Venice is amazing in many ways, but I found the novelty of canals instead of roads particularly fascinating. You expect to see ferries and speed boats

But, of course, everything is by boat.

I saw ambulances by boat, police by boat, speed detectors on the waterways, garbage pickup boats, delivery boats and the postie in a boat. And no ‘parking’ signs at the ferry terminals.

Delivering mail or parcels? Moor the boat, hop off and walk to the doorway. Not that different from park the delivery truck and ring the bell at the gate, is it?

I also visited the islands of Murano and Burano.

Murano is lovely, and so much calmer than Venice.

It’s known for its glass.

In the image below my colleague is assessing one of the less exuberant chandeliers in a glass foundry. The vast majority of the glass was very, very colourful, much more like the chandelier on the left.

I would have loved to bring a chandelier home. He Who Cooks is relieved I didn’t. Apart from the expense and difficulty with shipping, they are too over-the-top in design and colour. And he’s right of course. What looks great in Italy in a palazzo might not work as well in a tudor style home in Adelaide.

It was a festival weekend. Some of the locals were going to the beach. In their speed boats, of course.

Others were having family lunches at the many restaurants along the canals. So we did too. Scampi pasta for me. Yum.

The Keep Calm sugar sachets were unexpected, but they did well with my friend’s phone cover work.

It was hot, so dipping toes into the water was the immediate-after-lunch activity.

With the view, and the occasional jelly fish or two floating past, it was very pleasant.

Are you still with me? Let’s move now to another Venetian island; Burano.

It has the most amazingly brightly painted houses.

It is also known for lace making.

Of course I couldn’t go to a lace making island and not buy lace I could sew with! You’ve already seen my haul.

I want to tell you a bit more about the bigger piece I bought.

It’s actually café curtain lace but both the owner and I thought it would work very well as a top. She and the older lady in the shop were genuinely delighted that I sewed. Sewists are the best!

It was bought with this lace top for Felicity in mind.

Felicity was hoping to find something similar to the skirt fabric too. It would have made a great outfit for Grannies wedding.

But we couldn’t find any fabric like the inspiration skirt. And I was under a serious time constraint.

What did I do? Made something totally different of course!

I’ll tell you all about it in the next post, after the wedding. That’s if I’ve got any followers after these massively long posts…

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Let me tell you where I’ve been the last few weeks. Warning: If you are here for the sewing and cooking, time to click away!


This is a city of renaissance statues, lovely architecture, a castle or two and lots of bicycles.

There were bikes in the street being ridden by the folks that live in the city of Trento and clustered in groups outside the hotels. Mountain biking tourism is big in the Trentino region. Trento is in a spectacular glacial valley with glimpses of the Dolomites beyond.

My room had the best view of Trento’s Castello del Buonconsiglio. Just imagine this at 3am with a crescent moon above that tower. Jetlag does have a good side!

The castle itself doesn’t have the most welcoming doors though.

The city square, Piazza del Duomo, has a magnificent cathedral and a whimsical statue of Neptune.

I loved that Neptune was getting a clean the morning I visited, trying to get over my jetlag by walking around in the sun. What a great place these guys get to work!



The real reason I was in Trento was for a wine analytical chemistry conference, In Vino Analytica Scientia, in the next town, Mezzocorona.

So much work, work, work attending this conference! I had to chair a session and judge more than 90 posters! Just in case you thought this was a junket….

The science was excellent.

And the networking events even more so. The wine and cheese welcome event was preceded by an opera recital. Yes opera!

And it was fabulous (and thanks to Andy Waterhouse for that lovely clear shot of the performers at the end. My iPhone is good but not that good).

There were also technical visits to local wineries to break up the heavy science presentation sessions.

And a gala dinner in a castle. Because. Why not? And refer to comment above about how much hard work this all was.

Small sewing/fashion diversion:

My ‘art gallery frock‘ was a total win for traveling (doesn’t crush) and hot weather glamour (loose and airy).

My Austrian colleague, Erich, wore lederhosen to the gala dinner. Real leather lederhosen. See bottom right photo above. He was sartorially splendiferous, but I doubt he was as cool as me.


And, talking of kewl, my last dinner in Trento was with a group of wine science colleagues from around the world at a charming local restaurant, Trattoria PiediCastello (thanks again to Andy for the photos)

Here my dear friend Uli was explaining something profound. What it was I can’t remember (probably soccer). And look at all those paintings. They were literally everywhere.

The rest of the evening was not so serious.

Another sewing/clothing diversion:

The stripy stretch cotton dress I was wearing was another travel star. It is looking a bit corporate for this relaxed dinner, but it was perfect for the formal conference stuff earlier that day in hot humid weather and the winery visit in the afternoon.

Paintings covered every surface in this restaurant. You should have seen the bathroom. The owner and host was amazingly fun, as were my colleagues. The food, shared family style, was authentically delicious. Some people even went dancing in the square afterwards, together with the restaurant owner. Not me! I had an early train to catch to Venice the next morning. La dolce vita indeed!

Now this has already become far too long. Venice will have to be in another post.






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Fabric shopping, Venetian style

Why did I wait so long to go to Venice? Have you been? Isn’t it wonderful?

I’ll post more travel stuff later. Right now I want to tell you about my fabric shopping.

I didn’t find any apparel fabric shops on Venice, but I did come across a great curtain and upholstery fabric store: Colorcasa in Campo San Polo.

This lovely brocade in Colorcasa didn’t want to be curtains. It wanted to be an evening jacket or sheath dress. So I helped it out.

Well, I found no *real* garment fabric in Venice itself, but there is certainly lots of lace on the island of Burano. And the most wonderfully colourful fishermen’s houses.

I bought some lace souvenirs home too…

Now all this talk about Venetian fabrics needs to end with a quick word or two on fabrics in Adelaide. Yes, back less than 24 hours and I bought more.

It was Gay Naffine’s closing down sale. Lovely to see several old friends and meet some new ones in Gay’s workrooms. And I’m not just talking about the fabrics!

I just *had* to bring these home to make friends with my Venetians.

Now I know what Helen, Grace and Di took home, but what about you?

Posted in Sewing, travel | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Fabric shopping in Venice?

(image source)

I have a long weekend coming up in Venice after a conference in Trentino. I know. It’s a tough gig.

Fabric is the best souvenir, of course. Any advice for me?

Posted in travel | Tagged | 10 Comments

Zucchini fritters with salmon, lemon slice and orange muffins. All gluten free

Are you lucky enough to have a group of likeminded sewers, creative knitters, crocheting geniuses, embroidery queens and other crafty people to share your obsessions with?

I am. And they are fabulous.

My group has a very healthy emphasis on delicious food and wonderful conversation as well as endless cups of tea and craftiness. One of the crafty people is a coeliac, so gluten free food is the go.

This is what we enjoyed this week:

Zucchini fritters with smoked salmon


  • 4 cups grated zucchini (about 3 small to medium sized zucchini)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • oil and/or butter for shallow frying (we used a mixture of both)
  1. Drain the zucchini in a strainer for 10 minutes then place in a clean dish towel and wrap up tightly and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. It’s amazingly green! Yay for chlorophyll! (mix the green juice with the left over lemon juice from the other things you’re cooking, drink it and feel like a super hero)
  2. Add zucchini and the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Drop and flatten slightly a spoonful of batter onto hot pan

4. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned. Even better, get He who Cooks to cook the fritters. If he is wearing his favourite old green jumper, even better, it looks great in the photos.


5. Place cooked fritters onto a plate lined with a paper towel then continue with the rest of the batter.

6. Enjoy immediately with sour cream and smoked salmon, garnished with coriander or refrigerate the leftovers and scoff the next day while you’re cooking dinner.

Makes 12. (I made 1.5 times the recipe because I had lots of zucchini. That’s why I had leftovers)

Recipe from sugar free mom

Lemon and Coconut Slice

It’s winter in Australia. My sister in law is over run with lemons. I had to make a lemon slice! Lucky I love anything with citrus. Yes pity my poor family and friends.

  • Crust
    5 T coconut oil
    3 T maple syrup
    2 cups shredded coconut
    1 cup almond flour
    1 pinch salt
    2 egg whites (save the yolks for the lemon curd)
  • Filling
    3 eggs + 2 egg yolks
    6 T maple syrup( or if you run out like I did, 1 T maple sypup and 5 T honey)
    1/3 cup lemon juice + 1 T zest (around 2 lemons)
    1/3 cup almond flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a saucepan on low heat. Add maple syrup, shredded coconut, almond flour and salt. Stir around until everything is combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Crack two eggs, save the egg yolks for later and add the whites to the sauce pan while stirring. Keep stirring for about a minute. The mixture should be quite sticky now.
  4. Line a 30×20 cm baking dish with baking paper and pour the coconut mixture into it. Use your hands, a spatula or the backside of a spoon to flatten it out. Press it down firmly so it becomes quite compact.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes
  6. Beat the eggs and the 2 egg yolks until frothy. Add the rest of the ingredients. Beat for two more minutes.
  7.  Pour the mixture over the baked crust in the baking dish. Bake for around 16-19 minutes or until edges are light brown and center is set. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing up the bars.
  8. Cut into roughly 3 x 3 cm rectangles. Dust with icing sugar.

Recipe from  green kitchen stories

Yummy moist little orange cakes

This is my boiled orange almond cake that I make. All. The. Time. ( ask my long suffering family). This time I baked it in muffis cases and topped with He Who Cooks’ fabulous almond brittle: flaked almonds cooked in a pan with butter and sugar. Quantities? Don’t ask? He never measures).

I love this recipe!

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From Oscar de la Renta suiting to IKEA upholstery fabric

You know those competitions where you use one pattern for different looks?

I’ve got a great example to show you.

This is BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110

The shorter version of BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111

Why do I make a shorter version of this same pattern? Don’t I have lots of other perfectly good patterns?

Well, I had a toile

And.. I knew that just a little bit of work would give me a wearable garment.

That contrast collar was a design choice led by necessity (I didn’t have enough of the IKEA fabric left). It’s hot pink, because you all encouraged me. And I love it!

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110

Size: 34-42, I made a 42 with no alterations

Fabric: The outer fabric is cotton canvas from IKEA, perfect for curtains, cushions and other upholstery uses. The collar and facing is a cotton twill , and its lined with Sunsilky – a polyester lining with good breath-ability.

Isn’t that collar ridiculous?!

I didn’t use any interfacing – the IKEA fabric has incredible body. I might regret this later. The cotton twill is a bit soft.

I added an inner pocket because the jacket was a bit short for usable side seam pockets.

Of course this jacket started off as a coat toile.

I chopped off my toile at the cutting line for the jacket, plus a hem.

Because of the slight flare in the skirt part of the coat, turning up the hem required a little bit of gathering. I could have unpicked, reshaped the pieces and resewn all the seams, but that seemed more fiddly than necessary.

The gathering worked well, and is all hidden under the bagged lining anyway.

The cut off lower skirt then was sliced into strips for the belt. Because of the seams in this design, the belt has lots of joins, and it’s not completely on grain.

I’m in two minds about the belt as a tie belt. I think I’ll add a buckle and make it more like a trench coat belt.

The other problem with using the toile was the sleeve length. I’d cut them out to length – so there was no hem allowance added.

I got around this by cutting out a separate facing and then sandwiching this to the outer fabric with a black bias binding.

No loss of length, a firm faced hem and nice black bound edge

How much fun is this jacket?!

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Hot rocks dragon skin dress: Burdastyle 12/2014 #112

This lovely pink and orange number was sewn for a church event on Mother’s Day. My dear friend M and I were Marvelous Mothers and sewed for our daughters as well as ourselves.

The daughters: S in Vogue 8758 (OOP), H in BurdaStyle 12/2014 #127B and Felicity in #112 from the same issue – they’re BurdaStyle December issue twins!

H’s and S’s dresses belong on NonSuch. Just making a guest appearance here on He Cooks…She Sews.

Technical Details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 12/2014 #112

Size: 36-44, I made a 40 with a FBA and shortened the skirt length by 5 cm. No other adjustments needed – the fit was good.

Fabric: A delightful polyester brocade from Catwalk Fabrics– a local, small but well curated high end fabric shop.

I used a stretch black microsuede from the stash for the inserts.

The pattern has lovely details, like these triangular shoulder pieces.

The sleeves are cut on the bias, which adds extra give through the shoulders and allows a narrow sleeve silhouette to still be comfortable to wear.

I didn’t add zips to the sleeve hems, as designed by Burda, because a dress made from this fabric didn’t seem to need this extra detail, but it’s a nice idea.

I did keep the triangular insert on the back even though this means there is a side zip. I umm-ed and ahh-ed about inserting a back zip though the triangular insert (look at that lovely centre back seam just begging for a zip!) but decided to leave this style detail just as Burda intended it to be.

The back neck insert balances with the godet at the hem.

Here they are together, with bonus photo bombing by H…

My stint of selfless sewing was done with this dress. It’s been all about me since, and could well stay that way! Well, at least until a new dress is needed for Grannie’s wedding in August…

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Oscar de la Renta coat

Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post about this coat. I’m delighted with it!

One side view..

and the other.

Now, the promised construction details.

A major decision with this project was which side of the fabric to use. My initial thought was ‘how convenient that lamination is, because I won’t need to interface’.

Then I looked more closely. It was sort of weirdly beautifully. Shiny, and crinkled in a way that mirrored the boucle underneath. And a glorious deep chocolate colour.

Liz had told me it was an Oscar de la Renta runway fabric, and the Mood fabrics printout with the fabric said that too. A happy hour or so on located the runway photos. Oscar had used the laminated side on the outside. That decided it!

It also looked like he might have used lapped seams. I liked that idea too.

I decided which seams were going to be lapped and then trimmed the seam allowance of the side that would end up on top. Sticky tape was my friend for marking the seam allowance on the piece that was going to end up underneath

I pinned the top piece flush against my sticky tape line…

and stitched away.

Sticky tape was even useful as a guide for the vent overlap stitching line

I’m pleased with how the lapped seams turned out. They emphasize the seams lines, and add a slight edgy moto jacket vibe to the coat.

I didn’t lap all the seams. The waist and the side seams were stitched conventionally and then the seam allowance secured on the inside with another line of stitching

The extra lines of stitching on the outside are a nice feature

I love the tweedy inside.

Here it is inside out. As you can see, I sewed the collar onto the neck wrong sides together, i.e. opposite to the other seams, because the inside shows with the collar and lapels folded out when its worn.

I wondered if I might need to purchase a walking foot or a Teflon foot for this project, but the normal foot seemed to deal with the laminated side just fine.

And , on a fabric note, I noticed while window shopping on the Mood website for other Oscar de la Renta fabrics (and why wouldn’t I? This experience was so lovely) that this fabric is available again. Not affiliated, just a happy sewist.

Back to construction stuff.

Burda has the buttons a smidge higher than the waist seam, but I ignored this style direction.

I placed mine on the waist because then I could make easy peasy inseam button holes.

I love these buttons

I added a snap closure to hold the collar in place…

I don’t like it so much with the collar opening up to the waist.

I’m delighted to have this coat in the wardrobe, snuggling up here with my husband’s coats.

This was fun project. This very special fabric meant there was no hair canvas, interfacing, facing or linings, and no hems or special seam finishes. A truly anti-tailored coat.

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