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October 2007
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December 2007

November 2007

Help at hand


Anyone who steps into our house is likely to be roped in to helping me get through my workload.  Our gorgeous housekeeper put aside cleaning and got behind the wheel of my sewing machine yesterday.  As luck would have it she is a trained seamstress and worked in garment production for many years.  She stitched pockets on PJs yesterday.


Our 16 year old baby sitter has always helped me with tracing and cutting of appliques.  Tonight she will be given this pile of cutting while we go to a friend's 40th.  I pay her a few dollars extra to do this for me.  She's probably the best paid teenage babysitter around but she does such fabulous work she's worth every cent.  (And she always jumps at the chance to babysit because the pay is good.)


My seamstress is getting through baskets of sewing as quickly as I can deliver them to her.  Bit by bit I am getting there.

Today in the studio I'm listening to The Swoon Collection - beautiful soothing, uplifting music for a very harried brain.

Common threads

I received this postcard in the mail from Lee Mathews announcing her new range in store.


I love this photo.  The colours are so vibrant.  There must be a supplier out there in Australia who supplies bulk thread in these little shelving units.  This storage solution is very similar to the ones that hold my thread in my studio.

Mine used to be orange before I painted them my favourite French grey.  I got mine from a friend's father.  He owned a women's wear label and closed it down about 7 years ago.  I paid him $100 for 4 of the shelving units full of thread.  They are beautiful to look at as well as immeasurably useful.

Under the weather

I have been overdoing it and now I am paying the price.  I have the sorest throat ever.  Even chocolate and tea don't make it feel better.  I have been working too hard and now I've fallen in a heap.


The long awaited arrival of my stock from China has coincided with my busiest couple of weeks of the year.  I've been taking huge amounts of mail to the post office each day and it seems to have barely made a dint in the number of orders yet to fill.

I'm feeling a bit out of control because I haven't got time for other things like opening mail, doing washing.  I just keep telling myself it's only for another few weeks.  Roll around Christmas.

Garage sale gold

Over the weekend I was doing some crafting whilst tuning in to early episodes of Love My Way on DVD.  I laughed out loud when the quirky character played by Asher Keddie had a new baby meltdown in Ikea, saying repeatedly "Everything would be ok if I just had the right storage systems." 

It's so true.   Getting storage sorted can make you feel so much better.


Our neighbours had a garage sale yesterday and I picked up two sets of shelves for the princely sum of $4 a piece.

Look how well they hold my boy's short sleeved t-shirts (above).  Will and I spent the day cleaning out the storage space under Henri's bedroom.  It's now my stock room, while my rented storage space holds the unopened boxes. 


BootsThe second set of shelves is holding winter shoes in the garage, including these cute French gumboots I picked up in New York last year. I've now got a snowboard, old kitchen stools, some stereo equipment and an old Christmas wreath to list on ebay.

Where it all began

Pyjamas.  It's great to have them back in the range again, after a two year absence.


This is where Townmouse began.  Back in 2001 when I was still studying fashion I was making pyjamas for Max and giving them to friends' children for Christmas.  My friends loved them.  I was then asked to contribute some sewn garments to sell at an open garden fundraising day at the Woodend property of a friend of my mother-in-law.  On the day the grandmothers made a bee-line for the PJs and I knew I was onto something.


As I am busy sewing initials on the pockets of the PJs (that old thing with the initials again), I am happy.  I am in the company of old friends.  Another product I can't wait to get my boys into.


Yay, I now have boy's shirts in stock.


I have been enjoying reacquainting myself with the fabrics that I ordered about 12 months ago.  (Sending Italian fabric to China for production is not a process I want to repeat.  It has been epic.)

Now I'm trying to work out which are my favourites to keep for the three boys, before customers make their selection.  Of course I can't choose just one for each of them.

Great loot

I made some lovely purchases yesterday at Villa Mulberry.


I was there when only two of these Libeco beach bags were pulled out of a box.  I pounced on this and the second (and last) one was gone 10 minutes later.


I love grey felt and couldn't resist one of these carriers from Elk Accessories.  In the short term it will be perfect for lugging mail to the post office or letterbox.  If it survives until Christmas I think it will also be handy in the boot of the car.  It stands up nicely so I can put my groceries in it. I won't have to drive home from the market to the sound of apples rolling around the boot.


I have some divine smelling French soaps which are now in the armoire in my studio.  The whole room smells divine.


And after the lovely soaking rain all day yesterday my garden is jumping for joy.  This is the view from my sewing studio.  I look down the verandah to the front gate.  We have Oak Leaf Hydrangea and New Zealand Lilies that have recently come into flower.  I was stopped in my tracks yesterday evening after retrieving the mail.  I just had to take in all that green.  You know how gardens seem to radiate colour after a lot of rain - just wonderful.

And breathe....

All those involved in the Villa Mulberry Christmas Fair are breathing a collective sigh of contentment and relief after another successful event.  Despite today's rain (the heavenly rain) we were busy and all went home with lighter loads.  I did a lot of Christmas shopping too and picked up some beautiful things (which I'll photograph in the light of day tomorrow).


Thanks to our wonderful Italian nanny I arrived home to three well-fed boys already in their PJs and ready for bed. 

Will is away and I'm tidying up my studio tonight.  I suspect I'll be like a hibernating bear and will be bunkering down in the studio - my cave - until Christmas.  I'm trying to get organised so I can cope with the workload of the next few weeks.  It's going to be huge.  I've got two more editorials landing before Christmas too.  It never rains, it pours.

I have a massage booked for tomorrow afternoon which I think might be a good coping strategy.

Villa Mulberry

Every year I am involved in a lovely Christmas Fair at a house/gallery space in South Yarra called Villa Mulberry.  The fair has been going for about 12 years now.  Townmouse has been involved since 2002.


Villa Mulberry is also the location of the Botanical Art School of Melbourne where you can take classes in botanical drawing and painting - something I've always wanted to do but haven't yet found the time.  Jenny, who owns the home, is a world renowned botanic artist.  The courtyard shown above separates her house from the classroom you can see below.


The whole place has a lovely Tuscan feel to it - the  sunny courtyard, the tiled floors - hence the name "Villa Mulberry".  Our little fair takes up some of the rooms of the home that are occasionally used as gallery space.  Through friendships with the stallholders it is kindly rented to us for our event.


Here is the space looking rather messy early duing setup this morning.  Last week these rooms were showcasing the students' work and the walls have been filled with beautiful botanical illustrations.  Many of them are still hanging for the duration of the fair.


Tonight we had drinks and shopping until 8.30.  It was very busy and we had to ask the last shoppers to leave at 9pm (two mothers of a set of twin boys each who I think were happy to be out, drinking champagne and conversing with other adults!)

If anyone is interested in dropping by, the fair runs Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st from 9am to 5pm at 1A Shipley St, South Yarra.  On show are the wares of Renee (seen above), Elk Accessories, Libeco Home, Illustrata, Walnut Shoes, Oliver & Coco, Fine Art Portraits, Entre Deux Mondes and Taste (the best cumquat marmalade in existence).

Sunny Sydney

I'm here in sunny Sydney for 3 days for the Lindesay House Gift Fair in Darling Point.  Rushcutters_bay

There are a few of us up from Melbourne - all to sell our wares at the fair.  One friend and I are staying at a hotel nearby in lovely Rushcutters Bay.  This morning before breakfast we walked around the bay and the park. 

Cafe_2Between the hotel and the fair is this little cafe where we had breakfast this morning.  It's a gorgeous spot and we'll be back there tomorrow before our last day at the fair.  Not a bad business trip at all.

Sewing marathon

Townmouse had a stall at the lovely Botanic Gardens Market on Saturday.  I enjoy this market because it's a beautiful garden setting and many of my customers drop by.

OakA very kind friend who reads my blog came past my stall with a bag of Koko Black treats as she read I was feeling stretched (thanks Angela).  So now I'm having a sewing marathon, sustained by very good quality chocolate.  I've set up the portable DVD player next to my sewing machine and I'm tuning in to "24".  Jack and I are running at the same pace tonight and I'm getting all my orders packaged up.

Back to school

Rmit_textiles_buildingLast Thursday was the day I spent at RMIT's Brunswick campus.  I sat on a panel with three course lecturers and assessed the degree students in their children's wear elective.  It was a really great day.

The students presented 6 months worth of work in the form of 3 finished outfits.  Their outfits were supported by inspiration boards, workbooks, CAD (Computer Aided Design) worksheets, specs, etc.  Some was incredibly impressive, some less so.

While the lecturers gave them direct feedback and a grade (in some cases a fail), I commented on what I liked about their designs, what I thought they had done really well and what I thought was commercially strong.

It brought back all the wonderful memories I had of my time as a student.  I caught up with some of my teachers, and stuck my head into my old classrooms.  I was very envious of the students busily working away in their classes.  I'd love to be back there again learning new skills.