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March 2008
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May 2008

April 2008

Bugs and butterflies

I have been playing around with more gocco prints - this time with designs from the insect world.


I've been printing the designs onto pattern card scraps.  I rather like the plain brown card as a neutral background.


The designs are from this book, amongst other sources.  I traced the designs by hand, as I rather like the slightly imperfect lines that a hand drawn image has.


Then I can modify them by putting a fine stripe where a solid colour was, which I think makes them a little more interesting.


A clutter shutter

The other day I was in the shop where I bought my comptoir and I came across two sets of these old, weathered French shutters.  I think they are oak but I could be wrong.


The hinges are completely rusted so at the moment I can't move them.  I want to join the four panels together and use them as a concertina screen.  I thought they could be a nice way to hide some of the clutter in the messier corners of my studio.  They might end up in our front room though, as they are in harmony with the other bits and pieces in there.

Too much fabric

Is there such a thing as too much fabric?  Probably not, but when trying to store it all I begin to wonder.  My studio feels like a fabric shop at the moment.  I have more fabric than I know what to do with.


I have about 12 rolls of Liberty in the corner that I'll be dropping to my manufacturer soon for summer production.  On the bench above is a selection of mostly Japanese fabrics that I use for creche bags.  These are some of the new fabric options.  They get cut up and put in a drawer, so that when an order comes in all the pieces are ready and waiting.


I have several drawers like this in my studio - one for bag pockets, one for side panels, one for handles and pocket facings.  It might sound highly organised, but it certainly doesn't feel like it.

Fabric migration

Will returned from his trip on the weekend.  On Saturday he said to me, "It's migrating".  By that he meant that my sewing mess had migrated beyond the studio and was spreading through the house.


Here's a little pile of new stock on one of our dining chairs.  I've since checked each garment and sorted it by size into the drawers of my comptoir.

I'm having a big tidy-up because I'll be opening the studio over the coming weeks so customers can see my new range.  The new range finally went onto the website last night.  Loading all the new content is time consuming.  Each new product has 5 images associated with it, needs to link to related products and the correct fabrics.  There's a lot of information to get right, so it takes me a few days to iron out the glitches and pick up on the errors.

Can you help me?  If you see any errors on the website, drop me an email.  Include your postal address so I can send you a thank you in the way of fabric.  Perhaps the fabric can migrate further than our dining room and into your fabric stash.  I've got lots of Liberty pieces - far too many for me to use, so you'd be helping me out in more ways than one.

Getting to know my Gocco

For the past six months I've been experimenting with a gocco.  I haven't shared much of it here on the blog because I've probably had more misses than hits.  As I've been pulling my winter range together though, I feel like I've been finding my gocco voice, so to speak.  With all the experimenting, I've worked out what I like and don't like and the sort of results that feel like me. 


What I do like is white ink printed onto colours - it somehow seems more subtle.  And I also love the detail you can get from the screens.  I love using the super-fine pen and creating really fine detail to the design.  The fine check seems more interesting than say a solid white.


So I've been taking a few of my applique shapes, like this car, and turning them into screen prints.  This one will go with a little winter scarf I've put into the range.


Next I want to turn a few of the digger applique's from Max's quilt into screen prints.  Because after all, most little boys seem to love a bit of heavy machinery.

What's your style?

Last year Will had a meeting in New York to discuss a business opportunity with these guys.  I guess in a nutshell they are style consultants (and seemingly a lot more).  He came back from the meeting with a copy of their book, "Nothing to wear?".

Nothing_to_wearI'm not much of a reader of self help books so this sat on my bedside table for a while.  When I did pick it up and have a read I'm surprised to say I really enjoyed it and got a lot from it. 

The start of their process is to define your style.

They describe 5 styles:

Classic - Simple, clean and traditional; eg, Grace Kelly
Chic - Sharp lines that come together in an effortless way; eg, Audrey Hepburn
Whimsical - a thoughtful combination of colours and patterns that appears ethereal or romantic; eg, Sofia Coppola
Bohemian - Relaxed, hippy or funky; eg, Sienna Miller
Avant-garde - An ultramodern style that makes a dramatic statement; eg, Cate Blanchett

GraceThe premise is that once you know your style you can make more considered fashion choices. 

Since I read the book I've certainly become a more efficient clothes shopper in that I don't get distracted by clothes that don't fit my style.  I've probably also got a more cohesive wardrobe that I can mix and match more easily.  I've since lent the book to a few friends who have also raved about it.

My style is a combination of Classic and Chic.  What's your style?  You can do a short quiz to determine your style here.

Keep it simple

That's my mantra this year.  I want to keep work simple.  Last year it was all about growing the business - which I have done.  It doubled in size.  I'm happy with that.  I want to keep it tracking along at this pace while I streamline some processes, outsource more, and enjoy a better work/life balance.  I think I'm getting there.

Iggy3I've just been out for a lovely dinner with three girlfriends - all business owners.  We get together every couple of months to support each other in our business enterprises, share expertise and experiences.  A friend and I formalised the group last year and it seems to work so well.  There was even talk of heading here together next month.

Life's just a big balancing act - finding time to fit everything in.  I'm enjoying a little quiet patch before my winter range goes online.  I've been getting a few jobs done around the house - organising tradespeople for long awaited repairs, paying bills on time.  Things that feel good to tick off the list.

And then Will rang from Hong Kong as I was heading home from dinner to say there was a huge trade fair going on in China and would I like to join him and check it out (you might recall he's the master of last minute travel).  I warned him not to encourage me to gear up again with work if he ever wanted food in the pantry, the front room decorated, the children to get to school in the right uniform, etc.

Pick a house, any house

If I could choose a house, any house, this house would be very high on my list of all time favourite Melbourne houses.


When Will and I first moved in together we lived in an apartment in the beautiful suburb of East Melbourne.  East Melbourne features street after street of grand scale Victorian era houses like this one.  Only very few ugly blocks of 1960s flats blot the landscape.  This favourite house of mine was opposite the little store where we bought the milk and newspapers.  I would look at its simple yet elegant facade and dream about living in such a house one day.

It's currently for sale.  It's even got a little studio out the back by the swimming pool.  And hard to tell from this photo, it has two bedrooms on a third floor.  Since reading "A Little Princess" as a child, I've always loved the idea of an attic bedroom.

What sort of house would you choose to live in?

A day in the Botanic Gardens

For various reasons I haven't made it to a Botanic Gardens Market for a while.  Tomorrow is the second last market for the season.  Townmouse will have a little stall there.  I'll have my new winter range on show before it goes online later next week.

Winter_3This morning we had another little photo shoot at home.  This is one of the photos from last week's shoot.  We photograph the outfits over two mornings on different children each time.  Otherwise it gets a little chaotic.  Who am I kidding - it was chaotic anyway.  Our little 3 year old model got so excited this morning that she leant forward on her chair, gave a perfect smile, and then somersaulted onto the wooden floor.  Not good.  But like a true professional she picked herself up, had a sweet biscuit and outfit change and was all smiles again.  Can't wait to show you more pics.

Not happy Jan

At breakfast this morning Will said, "I'm going to have to go to Italy tonight."  Just as one might say, "I think I'll have strawberry jam on my toast."  What's with that?  This comment was followed by a 5 minute rant from me on the impact of his last-minute planning on all the people around him.  But that won't be the end of it - oh no.  The flights will change several times, other legs to the trip will be added, and I won't be able to pin him down until 6 hours before departure.  Husbands, we love them dearly, but gee, this one loves to push his luck.

Which brings me to the title of this post.  There is a much loved Australian TV commercial for the Yellow Pages.  The final line in the ad has become part of the Australian vernacular.


Working with paper and card

I have a box pleat skirt that I am putting into production with some small changes.  But the pattern has always irked me, as the pleats haven't sat as well as they should.  So this is the process I am using to improve the pattern.

Redo1I trace the card pattern onto patternmaking paper.  The paper is necesary because I need to be able to manipulate it - fold and refold it.  The paper is important when the patterns are in development and you need to do lots of sticking, cutting, tracing, etc.

Redo2Here I have folded it along the intended pleat lines.  You can see how the seam line does not match up.  It should form the perfect curve - just as if there was no pleat at all.  This was the problem with my original pattern.  It wreaks havoc with the hemline too.

Redo3I use my french curve and redraw the waist line where it should be.  It ends up being about 1cm higher at the side seam.  This means I have to also raise the hemline at the side seam by the same amount so the side seam length is the same on the front pattern piece and the back pattern piece.

Redo4I then cut along the new seam line and open the paper up.  I can then retrace this back onto card for a pattern piece ready to take to my manufacturer.

Then I just have to do this for each skirt size.  I've done size 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 this morning.  Now I just have size 8 to go.

Inspiration from nature

My, oh my.  Pop on over to Leslie's Goodness blog and look at the beautiful images of the cherry blossoms - quite incredible.


I've got my own growing collection of cherry blossoms in the studio.  These will go onto t-shirts and bodysuits.  I will add them to the website as part of my new winter collection a little later this month.


I've been so busy that blogging, and reading of favourite blogs, has taken a back seat.  The good news is that I have found a new Melbourne manufacturer - a reliable one that won't keep me waiting 2 months for promised deliveries.  That's a huge relief.  So I have been driving around town with rolls of fabric and sets of patterns rattling around the boot (trunk).  There's still so much to do - fabric estimates, order fabric, order trims, finish off spec sheets.  All very time consuming.