Souvenir T-shirts are nice, but souvenir fabric is the best

I’ve been on the most glorious holiday to the UK. Some quality souvenir shopping was done. You would think I would come home and immediately sew some of it. Or perhaps some of the souvenir fabric from Madrid from my last trip that I wrote about in my last post?

But no.

Even older souvenir fabric was still waiting to be sewn.


This wax print fabric comes with lots of lovely memories of being in Montmartre with Felicity last year.

It’s a striking colour, has great body, and who doesn’t want a frock with a pot or two or twenty on it?


This was not the easiest fabric and design to match to a pattern, and then to cut out. I had some misgivings about a large jug and pot on the bodice front.

All three of the different pots in the design found their way onto the dress –  even if the small round ones feature only on the back shoulders!


A rich brown regular dress zip was the exposed zip feature. I stabilized the edge of the knit under bodice with iron-on interfacing. Yes that’s a little bit of the facing showing at the top of the zip, and I did use a piece of hat (?) elastic for the button loop.


The over bodice edges were self faced, and trimmed with cream premade bias binding from the stash, as were the seams. Can’t accuse me of not finishing this dress off nicely!


This really is a fabulous pattern BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130. I’ve used it before, in its full length glory, for a formal dress for both Felicity and for myself.


The skirt has a tulip shape due to the deep inverted pleats at the waist. I love the way it phloofs out. As well as looking great, there is plenty of room for pockets.


I did intend to turn up a narrow hem, but Felicity loved in with its selvedge sentence. So that’s the way its staying.


Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you about my much more recent souvenir fabrics!

TMOS (The Man Outside Sainsburys) in Walthamstow Market did not disappoint. Plus M and I had a bonus unplanned meet up with Karen of Did You Make That?

TMOS walthamstow market1

I bought a print woven rayon and a solid silk jersey. One of the side shops selling all manner of trims also tempted me with their cute pink embellished buttons.

Other London fabric purchases were from Raystitch. I came home with my own pieces of fabrics used in display garments in the shop: the navy and cream linen cotton of the dress on the left and a grey irish linen wool blend of the dress on the right.


A few patterns also made their way into my suitcase from Raystitch and Sew Over it. What fabulous shops both of these are!

Leicester exceeds expectations with its marvellous Richard III exhibition and museum. Plus we stumbled upon two fabric stores in the centre. Just like that! Without even trying!


Shop #1, Crafty sew and so, had the most delightful triple crepe (the solid colours at the back of the photo). I wanted to bring at least three of them home, but common sense prevailed and I finally settled on red and nothing else. Still wish I had some of the teal. And the purple..

Shop #2, Material Magic, won my heart with an embroidered medium weight grey wool. The coffee shop afterwards was good too.


And I am saving the best to last.

Linton Tweed.

linton tweed

All these lovelies were shipped home to me by the fabulous Linton Tweed staff.

Why so many? Well.

They had 1 metre length at two for the price of one, and  remnant box of almost 1 metre lengths for 5 pound.

Resistance was futile.


Fabric shopping in Madrid, another cocoon coat and another Bella

I’m sorry to report that the strawberry thief shirt has not been progressed since I posted last.

I have two excuses.

Excuse 1

I had a work trip to Salamanca in Spain. I didn’t take my sewing machine with me.


Playa Mayor, Salamanca, 8 PM (before dinner, of course!)

However, my accommodation in Madrid en-route to Salamanca was fortuitously located very close to these two fabric shops;  Ribes y Casals and Tejidos y Novedades Paredes.

Ribes y Casals had a large selection of fabrics and fabulous haberdashery and notions. This is just a small part of their Prym wall. So jealous of such accessibility to such a great range!


Their trim selection was pretty good too.


Some of that multi coloured daisy trim came home with me

Two fabrics at Tejidos y Novedades Paredes won my heart too



You can see I went for practical fabrics that will effortlessly slot into my everyday life..

I love sewing souvenirs!

Excuse 2

I’m going away again soon!  Sewing a travel wardrobe has taken precedence.

I needed a coat.

My local bricks and mortar store, Spotlight, had a lovely polyester wool coating that was the perfect weight and drape for an unlined coat. I wasn’t the only Australian sewist thinking this way. Christy (Clever Tinker) made a great Sapporo coat  and Carolyn (Handmade by Carolyn) made a delightful Sydney jacket (as seen on her instagram feed)


This is Burdastyle 12/2011 #114. I swapped out the zip for a button band.


It’s definitely boule shaped!  I feel like Aunt Fanny from Robots.


The pattern placement was less than ideal through the centre back seam, and not quite symmetrical. Slapdash sewist that I am, I’ve decided I can live with it – it helps that it’s on the back..). The horizontal pattern matching it pretty good though!


I also needed another Bella dress. This one is made from a very stretchy drapey ITY polyester knit from Spotlight with a solid navy  trim of bought bias binding at the neck.

20170820_043813084_iOS With the sleeves pushed and held in place with navy tabs, it should work when the weather is warmer.


With sleeves down, hands in pockets and tights I’m ready for cooler days.


And with a jacket and heels I’m ready for a night out. If it’s cold, I hope that tights and sandals are not considered the same as socks and sandals by the fashion police…

Where am I going? To England for a whole month of holidays, with He who Cooks, M of Nonsuch Sewing and her lovely husband Ken. We start in London at the beginning of September and end in Edinburgh at the end.

Yes we do plan to visit some fabric shops on the way. Anyone interested in a meet-up? In London? Bath? Oxford? Leicester? York? Richmond? The Lake District? At Linton Tweeds? (Yes, we are going to the showrooms and shop in Carlisle! He who Cooks is also the best itinerary planner ever).

I’ll return to the Strawberry Thief shirt soon.


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.

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?


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’.

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..

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?


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.


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!

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)


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…


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.






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?

Fashion Icons in Adelaide

Masterpiece’s from the Collection of the Musée Des Arts Décoratifs, Paris at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

You need to go!

I was very lucky to be invited to the official opening on Friday night.

A very elegant crowd awaited in the forecourt for the formalities.

There was even a street fashion photographer with all the essentials: pink hair, designer sports-inspired ensemble, camera.

Style continued at the reception

This event definitely needed a New Frock.

The Gallery thoughtfully provided a photo booth to record your outfit.

Both Melissa and I were in frocks we had made. She was wearing a floaty dress in a wonderful floral Rorschach silk print. Mine was a halter neck from embroidered chiffon with pleather paillettes. More on that in another post.

The exhibition itself was wonderful. Photography wasn’t allowed but this wasn’t well signposted so I did take two, before being asked to cease.

Christian Dior’s 1947 Bar Suit: self covered buttons. Ruth, this one was for you!

One of many beautiful gowns.

Some images from the Art Gallery website:

I loved all these gowns, and many more.

It is a wonderfully curated collection. I’ll be going again. I strongly encourage you to go too!