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?

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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?

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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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The coat of many collaborations

Have you had a sewing project that was collaboration with others? Did it turn out awesomely?

Mine did! Wonderful people helped me with this coat.

The fabric: a generous gift from Liz of designerfabricsaustralia.

The inspiration: What Oscar did with this fabric – Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2007 RTW collection.

The pattern: you, my wonderful readers and commenters helped choose this elegant design (BurdaStyle 11/2014 #111)

The buttons: Veronica (on the left), the best button salesperson in Adelaide. It took her less than 30 seconds to pick these out for me. And there were quite a few to choose from!

The coat’s first outing: shared with other Me-Mades on Mother’s Day in Murraybridge.


Felicity is in another (!) new  dress (post coming soon..), S is in Vogue, H and M in BurdaStyle. You should go and stalk their blog for more details of these three lovely dresses. I’ll post about the construction details of my coat separately. I just couldn’t resist sharing how pleased I am with this project for any longer! Thanks again to all of you. The sewing community, both on and off line, is a marvelous thing.

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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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