Saturday, 10 May 2014


A celebration of real mums

Here's to the plain mums, the brainy mums, the not-always-sane mums. Mums with dirty floors and interesting thoughts, who don't care about whiter than white or turbo-brush hand-held vacuum cleaners.

Here's to the mums you don't see in Mother's Day brochures. They tend not to have ice-white bed linen. They look older than 25. They've made a life or two or three or more – and it probably shows.

Here's to the mums in their 60s and 70s, working as house cleaners. Bend. Scrub. Mop. Pick hairs out of bath. Dressed nicely, doing what they have to, because they've bills to pay and bugger all super.

Here's to the mums who volunteer. Counting coin towers for school banking; filling book club orders, sewing costumes – none of it measured by the GDP.

Here's to the mums who are too busy at work to volunteer.

Here's to the mums whose babies puke on them, instead of glowing cutely from pristine pink dressing gowns. They favour trackie daks over silk kimonos, maybe with a cloth flung across a shoulder to catch the vomit.

Here's to the mums whose bodies changed forever after childbirth: thicker waists, varicose veins, and so on. They jump or cough with trepidation because, as a male surgeon told me, "once you hit menopause it all falls away down there''. 

Still, look at those sturdy new people they've made. ‘"What have youse got?" asks the sensei at our local Aikido class. "Great potential!" yell back 30 little voices.

Here's to the mums whose aprons have sedimentary layers: cake mix, tahini, tomato sauce, dhal.

Here's to the mums who don't own an apron.

Here's to the mums who'd rather read a good book or see a decent film than "become the favourite child'' for a day.

Here's to the mum at our school who's an actor and singer. She started a choir for parents; got us stretching our mouths and bodies, excavating sounds we didn't know we could make. She gave me songs to sing to my daughter. What a great gift.

Here's to the single mums like author Maxine Beneba Clarke, who writes "messily, in snatches", wherever she can. She might be found at the kitchen table, "jotting down a poem on the back of a Coles docket" while the kids stand around her, both talking at the same time. She once wrote for 45 minutes in a Centrelink queue. "Broken home/nuh uh'', goes one of her poems, "there is nothing here needs fixing".

Here's to the mums who quite like lying in a dishevelled bed, watching a kid dressed as a ninja shout "Hiyaaaaah", before stabbing her dagger into the doona.

Here's to the mums who'd rather be asleep at this moment.

Here's to the mum with two kids under three who recently nursed my own mum in hospital. She was heavily pregnant, working night-shift.

Here's to the mum who cleans for someone I know. She works all day as an aged carer, then scrubs and irons after hours.

Here's to the mums looking for a permanent part-time job. (Good luck.)

Here's to the mums who don't speak any English.

Here's to the mums looking after their own parents as well as their kids.


“But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” 

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Claire Shaeffer's Custom Couture Collection
Chanel Style Cardigan Jacket

If you are looking for a copy of this pattern let me know and I may be able to help you out.  Just remember that the sizing is quite different.  I have made the mistake with these patterns in the past making a Size 10 not realising I was actually making a Size 6 which had me thinking I must have really put on weight.  Not so, its just the difference in the sizing.

Australian Size 6 = Vogue Size 10
A   8 = V 12
A 10 = V 14
A 12 = V 16
A 14 = V 18
A 16 = V 20
A 18 = V 22

Please be mindful of this when you are asking for a particular size of this pattern from me.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Over the past month I have been contacted by so many people and have managed to secure the precious and ever so elusive pattern Vogue V8259 that I have looked the world over for.  Not only did I get a copy of one just down the road from where I live but I was sent one from America and one from France.  Now I have this incredible pattern in every size that Vogue made.  As a result I am able to help out others who are searching for this pattern.  

If you are reading this and need a copy of this pattern, please contact me and I'll try to assist where possible.  

To make sure my decision is well analysed and digested before I cut into my precious Linton Tweed fabric, I also purchased the other two Vogue patterns which are frequently made into Chanel Style Jackets to compare them. Fortunately Vogue patterns have sales frequently so I was able to get them for $3.99, super reasonable.  

My summary of the three patterns most commonly used for Chanel Style Jackets is as follows:

1. Vogue Pattern V8259

An oldy but a goody.  I totally see why this pattern is almost impossible to locate.  It is far more structured and complex than all other patterns combined.  I have a sneaking suspicion this this might be very close to the real Chanel pattern.  I'd like to think so anyway as it has so many pieces and looks so beautiful even as a tissue pattern. On the image below it is the pattern pieces on the left hand side, consisting of #6, 7 and 8.  There is also a side panel which attaches to pattern piece #7. Just the body of this pattern consists of pattern pieces #6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 without the lining pieces or the sleeve pieces.  The sleeve has three pieces making it a very structured well designed sleeve.  You can see there is a lot to this jacket pattern, 20 pieces in fact.

2. Vogue Pattern V7975

This pattern is frequently used for the Chanel style jacket with great effect but it has no side panel and has a two piece sleeve.  This alone makes it a much less structured and thereby less complex article to make.  I would recommend this pattern for anyone who is not a seasoned seamstress because it will look lovely but be much quicker to put together.  On the image below it is the pattern piece in the middle #2.  It is longer and nipped in at the waist and it has two pieces on each side to the front of the jacket.  There are just 12 pieces to this pattern.

3. Vogue Pattern V8804

This is the Vogue pattern that Claire Shaeffer uses in her classes.  I am guessing that this is because V8259 is no longer in print and so so hard to find.  It closely resembles the original (V8259) but it is definitely not the original.  For anyone wanting to make a Chanel style jacket this is the pattern that I would buy and use if I were unable to locate V8259.  Bear in mind that it has a slightly shorter sleeve so if you want a longer sleeve on this jacket you will need to adjust it.  On the image below the two front pieces are pattern pieces #1 and 4 on the right hand side and in addition there is also a small side panel to this pattern.  The side panel attaches to the side of pattern piece #4.  There are 16 pieces to this pattern.

Having reviewed all the patterns in detail, before I commit to cutting up my precious Linton Tweed I have gone to the source of inspiration, Lady Shaeffer herself, to ask her which pattern she truly feels is the better of the three.  Of course this will only be her opinion but as she's made them all I feel her word is worth a lot to me.  When I have Claires response I will include it here and go about cutting and fitting my toile.  This takes a lot of time but is well worth the end result.  This is a couture jacket so the cutting of the designer fabric is only done after the toile is fitted and marked perfectly.  The designer fabric is then cut into squares not around the pattern pieces like regular home sewing and the pattern is then hand tacked onto the square.  Couture sewing is by far the most accurate, time consuming but exquisite style of sewing and the techniques are used by the most high end fashion houses, for dresses worn by your favourite red carpet celebs.

To some this may seem like a ridiculously long process just to make a jacket but to me this is a work of art, a project worthy of my commitment to spend a real lot of my time creating.  To do this I wont be leaving anything to chance so progress is at my pace just how I enjoy it the most.  I am certain that I will be very proud of the end product and then I'll do the second one.

Since starting this months blog Vogue have introduced yet another Claire Shaeffer pattern V8991.  This pattern has all the hallmarks of V8259 however it is cut to the neckline on the front panel and not to the shoulder seam.  It also has just two pockets to the front seam and much longer sleeve opening.  I'm not sure I like the sleeve on this pattern.

The patterns can be seen here:  by searching for Claire Shaeffer in the search bar.  

While you are there take a look and the totally gorgeous new dress pattern V8999.  We really are channeling those gorgeous elegant early 20th century dresses.

I can only imagine the work in this dress.  So very pretty.....

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


I'm slowly getting myself clear of jobs that "must get done" to make my way to start sewing for the Fast. I know the idea is not to sew as many things as you can as fast as you can or anything like that but I'd like to get my teeth into something fun for a change. One small problem, the thing that is holding me up a bit is my pattern, it still has not arrived from the US despite being ordered twice.  Seems the gremlins are also in the postal system these days.

I've never had many issues with posting things places with the exception of a few, one to the US and one to France.  I have noticed that so many people will not post to France these days.  I had one of my dolls go to a sweet lady in France who waited months for her small package.  The French customs system is in overdrive it seems and they are apparently trying to eek out as much small change as they can from as many people as they can.   I provided all the paperwork and sent the package via the most expensive post, which is what I normally do for such items, so there was no reason for any delay ... or so I thought.  I've sent things all over the world in fact and never had one go missing but delayed yes, absolutely.  

One lesson I did learn recently was never never never send anything "sea mail".  I had one customer ask me to send an item via the slowest and cheapest method so I sent it per her wish .... sea mail.  I learnt a lot from that experience but it would take me a month of Sundays to explain it completely to you.  It took over 2 months to get to the US via sea mail.  It went from my home town via our postal system to Sydney where it was literally put on a cargo ship as sea mail.  After waiting weeks to hear it had arrived and investigating with the post office, they informed us that just because you choose sea mail does not mean it will go by sea, it all depends upon how much space they have available, where the item is going to etc.  Well this little package went the long road and we even went as far as watching the boat go overseas online just to reassure the buyer that it was on its way.  There is a program that allows you to track airplanes online and then there is also one that allows you to track all sorts of boats.  It is actually very interesting, look here:

And if you want a truly different cruising experience you can even book a cruise on one of those cargo ships and go with your package:

I said we learnt a LOT!  But that is only half the story.  The other half involved Paypal, their recommendation to the buyer, their refunding her twice, then refunding me, then deducting twice from my account after the package was deemed sent correctly and per instructions. In the end, months later, the buyer ended up being refunded twice and I also so she was ahead and I was even. We were very happy with that because it was the most ridiculous experience we have ever had using Paypal.

We had many lovely discussions with the buyer about family, experiences, the economy, lots of laughs about "the system" and in the end the little package arrived just before Australia Posts deadline for sea mail shipping and in perfect order, within three months.  We were all ecstatic as you can imagine.

I better get back to my studies and try to get more than mending done this week.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


I came across the term "Slow Fashion" while searching for a particular service this last week and after investigating, I am a believer.  I think you will agree that we have all been into a department store and left disgusted that most of the items on the apparent "sale" are brought in especially for the said sale.  This means that we are being drawn into the stores on the pretence that we will be buying a quality item at a much reduced price.  Because the retailers know that's what we all want they pad the few genuine items they do put on sale up with lots of cheap items.  What I have personally discovered is that a lot of the sale items are either poor quality, poorly designed and poorly made or any combination of these flaws.

At this moment I am not in a position to buy super high end luxury items and may not ever be but I do love and admire them and I aspire to have just a few. I admire the design process and the quality that the high end designers seek to put into their brands. Of course along with the designer name comes a designer price tag because they know if its that good they can ask whatever they want and people will still want it. This is where I believe SLOW FASHION will begin making a serious comeback. People really do want quality and if given a choice really would prefer to buy it over the alternative. The gap between the designer or bespoke item and the alternatives is the price. Its like anything, we only buy what we can afford ... hopefully.

What really is Slow Fashion?

Slow fashion is genuinely high quality clothing and footwear, made locally and made by hand. The term bespoke is being used a lot now and it is all part of the new "slow" movement.

Open dictionary explains it like this:

"Slow Fashion - a term which describes clothing which lasts a long time and is often made from locally-sourced or fair-trade material"

Wikipedia explains it like this:

The term "Slow Fashion" was coined by Kate Fletcher in 2007 (Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UK). "Slow fashion is not a seasonal trend that comes and goes like animal print, but a sustainable fashion movement that is gaining momentum."
The Slow Fashion Movement is based on the same principles of the Slow Food Movement, as the alternative to mass-produced clothing (AKA “Fast-Fashion”). Initially, The Slow Clothing Movement was intended to reject all mass-produced clothing, referring only to clothing made by hand, but has broadened to include many interpretations and is practised in various ways.

Some examples of slow fashion practise's include:

Opposing and boycotting mass-produced fashion (AKA "Fast-Fashion" or "McFashion").

Choosing artisan products to support smaller businesses, fair trade and locally-made clothes.
Buying second hand or vintage clothing and donating unwanted garments.
Choosing clothing made with sustainable, ethically-made or recycled fabrics.
Choosing quality garments that will last longer, transcend trends (a "classic" style), and be repairable.
Doing it yourself - making, mending, customising, altering, and up-cycling your own clothing.
Slowing the rate of fashion consumption: buying fewer clothes less often.

The Slow Fashion movement is a unified representation of all the "sustainable", "eco", "green", and "ethical" fashion movements. It encourages education about the garment industry's connection and impact on the environment and depleting resources, slowing of the supply chain to reduce the number of trends and seasons, to encourage quality production, and return greater value to garments removing the image of disposability of fashion. A key phrase repeatedly heard in reference to Slow Fashion is "quality over quantity". This phrase is used to summarize the basic principles of slowing down the rate of clothing consumption by choosing garments that last longer.

I am finding this movement extremely interesting as a few members of my immediate family have elected to be vegan and admirably enjoy it. This is all part of making ethical choices in our everyday life.

What I have also discovered from being part of the RTW Fast for 2014 is the thrill that people are getting from creating their own garments. From the choosing of a pattern, choosing the fabrics, choosing the embellishments, lovingly creating the garment, pressing it, wearing it and taking photos to share with others who have a mutual appreciation for the same process. I never did doubt the joy doing this brings anyone as I've experienced it many times myself. From first sewing for myself at a very young age, sewing for my children, sewing for wedding parties, sewing suits and even leather bags and accessories. Its fun and so so enjoyable seeing the item come together just how you visualise.

I like the term Slow Fashion, I think Kate Fletcher, who coined it knew exactly what direction the fashion industry was going. Sadly along with a new movement comes a lot of corollary disappointment as businesses close unable to compete in the new environment. I have to say that I'm not saddened to see the rag shops close but I am saddened to see designers closing unable to compete with such inferior offerings.

This week I put together my body double. My dressmakers dummy is finally sized and ready to go as I await my pattern, still. I haven't minded the slow progress at this time as its given me a chance to take stock and get a few other important jobs done which would not have allowed me much sewing time anyway, but I'm so looking forward to getting started and sharing my progress along the way.  I am overjoyed to be part of the Slow Fashion movement and I hope I've shared something interesting also.

Sunday, 19 January 2014


One my chores during my usual weekend is to renew or rearrange my vase of flowers. I am fortunate to have the most gorgeous roses in the garden so I can do this whenever they keep blooming.  Unfortunately they got a beating this week in the torturous heat.  I decided to see what I could find and picked the few that survived and below is the outcome.  As you know some of my favourite flowers are Roses and Peonies hence the name of my blog but along with these I also love Hydrangea and Lilac.  

To be honest I actually love most flowers but if I were only allowed two it would be Roses and Peonies.  There is something so delicate and beautiful about them.  No doubt it is the pink colours that gels so well with the dainty petals but its even more than that.  While I continue to get my sewing sorted and await my couture pattern from America I decided to share these pictures because they are such pretty flowers.

I don't know the name of these but they are particularly pretty. They are a soft peach colour with very open blooms.  There are also gorgeous Red, Yellow, Pink and White roses almost in bloom so I will try to capture those at a good time and add them to my collection.  Around our neighbourhood a lot of homes have amazing flowering roses and we've been told that this year was particularly good for the vegetation because of the amount of rain that we got throughout the year.  I guess it must be true.  I will try to capture some of those images while I'm out and about walking our dogs if I remember to pop the camera in my pocket. 


Friday, 17 January 2014


ONLY ON 18 - 19 JANUARY 2014

Another day of heat but I'm indoors so I am grateful that I can escape the dreadful heat outside. I do feel for the people going to and from work and doing errands during the day.   My roses have shrivelled up but I believe there is a change coming tomorrow.  When a change comes in Melbourne, it comes rapidly, sometimes in a matter of minutes.  This isn't always welcome but in this instance it surely will be.

Back to the Craftsy sale.  I love Craftsy because the teachers are people who have runs on the board so to speak.  You can have a lot more confidence in them than some.  You can also have access to the course you have purchased for as long or as often as you need it and that is pretty valuable  to me because circumstances arent always such that you have loads of free time for yourself.  You can stop and start whenever you want to, you can do it wherever you want and at any time you want.  In addition the courses are so reasonable and have extremely good video and visuals.  

I am personally learning a lot from a lady whom I have admired for a very long time. I will probably never get to meet her in person but thanks to Craftsy and the excellent ability we have available to us to see smooth clear video on our blogs/web it has made learning a whole lot easier and much more fun.  Perhaps this is the way all universities and colleges will go eventually.  Do away with the bricks and mortar and just have online tutorials for as much as possible.

Anyways click through on the Craftsy Sale on the header above or the link below and see whats on offer.  There might just be something that you would enjoy doing too but remember this sale is only on this weekend.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


I am here sewing boiled wool and I was feeling a bit hotter than usual.  I got on my laptop and looked up the weather and discovered I think it is the hottest it has ever been where I live.  I'm sipping ice and breaking needles and slowly slowly getting these jolly boiled wool pockets put on.  Tomorrow is supposed to be just as hot and then we'll see a lovely change.  I'm not sure whether I prefer the heat or the cold now but I sure don't link it this hot.  I will keep going 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


This week I have been busy getting my sewing gear together and have the task of remodeling school clothes.  I'm not quite sure how this fits into the RTW Fast other than they are second hand uniforms that require fresh pockets and dresses that need their hems adjusted.  I'm here wondering why they insist on making girls school dresses so unflattering shapeless and boring?  I have three dresses to hem up and two blazer pockets to replace and I'm trying to get inspired to just get it done.  

While I'm on the school uniform subject  I have a question that I've asked myself (out loud because I know at least one person has to listen to me) several years in a row now.  Why do schools insist on changing the design of their emblems and styles and colours of their uniforms so so often?  Why? The last school our daughter went to they almost had a different outfit for every different year level.  It soon became a bit obvious that the uniform shop wasn't as lucrative as the school hoped so they decided to change it and "encourage" parents to replace their uniforms from the old design to the new as quickly as possible.  Ok! I know its a business but do they think we don't work out what they are up to?  And along with the change in uniform this school had absolutely no buy back, resale or secondhand uniform set up.  Me, coming from a business background immediately thought this was one way I could help out so I offered to do the hard yards on behalf of the school gratis and set up a win/win secondhand sales outlet that would benefit both the parents and the school.   The sweet lady, who clearly gave birth to her children during the inception of the uniform shop because she appeared to have been there so long, kindly said that they already had something happening.  I politely stepped away and .... left them to that happening moment.  Some 4 years later still nothing has happened and there is no sign of it ever happening.  We've moved state and school and happily gifted most of the uniforms to good friends who could use them.  The remainder our daughter kept for posterity and memories which is fun too but you don't need several sets of everything just hanging in the wardrobe for looks and dress ups.

Don't get me wrong I love seeing my children in pristine uniforms but there is a limit to what is for presentation and practical purposes and then there is what is basically a fairly easy business model.  I just think that that model could get a whole lot better.  In the new school our daughter has to wear a boiled wool blazer throughout summer over the top of her dress rain, hail or shine, to and from school. Right now its shining a whole big lot and we are sweltering. So much in fact train lines are buckling, we are having power outages, the roses are wilting on the branches and the dogs water bowl needs replacing what seems like every few hours.  I just don't know how much of the lovely appearance of the students is healthy or necessary in this sort of weather.  But we wont buck the system because it looks pretty good.  One would think that the comfort of the children in the learning environment would be more conducive to a good experience at school than suffering the sweltering weather in a boiled wool jacket just to look good.  Silly mums, just because we went to school in sandals doesn't mean society hasn't progressed.

Much to my surprise while shopping recently I discovered those fabulous Jerusalem/Roman/Greek Sandals that I recall going to school in and they are ..... yes, back in style. WOW!  They still look as silly as they did back then but they are in fashion girls, just WOW!  I'm just not sure I'm ready to swap my Birkies though.  My hubby loves my Birkies, not!  Remember these?

So  I will stop procrastinating and get on with the repairs and send them off to the dry cleaners for pristine pressing.  That should do this week I think.   Next week its my turn, I will do the planned January outfit for the RTW Fast, hopefully if my real work doesn't call first.

Saturday, 4 January 2014


As I begin my FAST I now discover soooooo many beautiful fabric stores online and thats dangerous right? I'm pondering how to do this fast without spending just as much on fabrics as you would on RTW because I happen to know its easy to do that.  This is all about being smart and resourceful.


Step One: Review all stock in stash

Step Two: Separate into Winter and Summer fabrics

Step Three: Put opposite season away for later on

Step Four: Start imagining what each piece of fabric would be best made into.

Step Five: Identify patterns for a minimum of two pieces of fabric. This is where I imagine what accessories I would wear with them also including shoes, bag, scarves, jewellry, etc.

Step Six: Put all other fabrics away and commit to a date when the first one will be complete.

Step Seven: Open pattern and create muslin for first item, then continue the process until the first item is complete.

Step Eight:  Take a photo of the completed item and post it on a blog page with all notes from the making of the garment including things I do and dont like, how I changed it up and what issues I had with the pattern.

Step Nine: Wear the garment and enjoy the fruits of the many hours of labour.

Step Ten: Repeat the process from Step Five above, again and again and again ...............


But I will mention a couple of the special fabric stores that I have found below.  If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear about them also. - Amazing selection of exquisite fabrics, especially the silks.  It took me forever to load all the silks - I recommend you order at least one item from this company, their wrapping and shipping is just so worth receiving. - Beautiful quality italian fabrics - Dont let the lack of function on their website put you off, you wont be disappointed with their collection of fabrics and they have $5 Vogue patterns now and then which I've been thrilled to catch this year.  Vogue patterns got up to around AUD$30 but its nice to see the new ones have come down a little in price and what is even more fun are the amount of vintage patterns available now.

Of course places like eBay and Etsy are good sources of fabric pieces also.  The fabric stores nearly always have lining scraps so its worth picking through the dregs for gems there also.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Why Peony'n'Rose?  They are two of my favourite flowers, it really is that simple.

My blog has evolved over time as my circumstances have changed and as my inspiration, time and interests motivate.

Please enjoy your visit and comment as you wish .........