in the studio

Ocean waves quilt

Saturday morning is always a nice time for some sewing in our house.

Ocean waves quilt

Everyone is calm and enjoying the slower pace a weekend brings.  And I'm pottering in my studio and enjoying the precision required to piece these blocks.

Ocean waves quilt blocks

This creation is totally inspired by Denyse's Ocean Waves quilt. Most of the fabrics I'm using are Denyse Schmidt fabrics from various ranges.

There are lots of exciting things happening in our family and life is good.  But does anyone else find the return to a new school year exhausting?  I'm only just finding my feet now and the term is nearly over.  It's always the way, but seems evermore so this year.

Time to wrap some gifts

There is a fab Australian business called The Wrapping Paper Company.  I've ordered giftwrap from them in the past. This morning I was suddenly inspired to lift my game in the giftwrap department so I jumped online and placed an order that we then picked up from their warehouse (because I just couldn't wait for the post and I had left my run so late).


They make these narrow strips of giftwrap they call Belli-bands.  I like the way they dress up a plain roll of brown craft paper.  It's also an affordable way to get a number of pressies looking different and interesting as a group.

Wrapped gifts

They also have  pretty and affordable ribbons and cards.  Got to love that.  The big one at the back is Will's birthday present and I love the Ikat print on his. He gets to unwrap that this evening.

Now I'm good to go.  Bring on Christmas.

Company in the studio

I'm swimming in a sea of orders today in the studio.  I'm working flat out.  While I'm stitching at my machine I'm watching catch up episodes of Smash on my laptop.

I also have company in the studio now.

Lucy in the studio

Meet Lucy.

She's our new puppy.  She's already 5 months old.  We got her a little under two weeks ago.  She's the sweetest little thing. She likes to sit at my feet while I sew.  And every now and then I get a nudge on my thigh by a little wet nose.  Someone wants a pat.

Yes, those ears are enormous aren't they?  

Townmouse t-shirt and bodysuit clearance sale

Here's an offer just for my lovely blog readers at present.


I'm clearing out our garage and want to get rid of my remaining stock of t-shirts and bodysuits.  I've created a little Big Cartel store.

So if you want to pick up some lovely quality, pure cotton tees or onesies, now is your chance. I don't have a huge amount of stock left in certain sizes so grab them while you can.

The more you buy, the cheaper they get, and I'm shipping anywhere in the world.

Adelaide wears a tee to bed every night as a pyjama top, as well as on most days.  For those of you handy with fabric (as a lot of my blog readers are) you may like to add your own embellishment to these tees and onesies.  I've called my Big Cartel store The Blank Canvas - because these tees and onesies make a perfect blank canvas.

So think Christmas stocking fillers, affordable gifts for your children's friends, pyjamas.


And the Townmouse bodysuits make gorgeous gifts for newborn babies.  Stock up and keep a few in your sewing room for when your friends have bubs.  I have many, many customers who use my bodysuits as their go-to gift for friends' bubs.

This offer will be sent to my mailing list later in the week, so I expect the stock will diminish quickly at that point.  Quick, go, follow this link.

Lisette Traveler Dress

Recently my much loved industrial sewing machine died on me.  I bought it second-hand when I was pregnant with Max. It served me unfailingly for 12 fabulous years.  I cannot imagine how many thousands of kilometres it has sewed.

Shirtdress profile

Industrial sewing machines are simple beasts - they take two men to move them around, are very ugly and only do a straight stitch.  Despite these limitations they are brilliant to work on and I really couldn't be without one in my life.  So after determining that my old machine was perfectly fine mechanically, but new technology in motors had rendered it useless, I traded it in for a newer second-hand model.

Inspired by my new toy I did some sewing for myself.  I love Liesl's Oliver + S patterns and was keen to try one of her women's patterns under the Sew Lisette brand.

One of my favourite daytime outfits in the summer is a shirtdress.  I have several in my wardrobe and they seem to suit my shape.  So the Traveler Dress it had to be.


The fabric is a navy and white shirting cotton I had in my stash.

I made a few modifications to the pattern.

Shirtdress collar

I made the collar as a two piece collar. Just because I like playing with collars and my patternmaking skills need a bit of brushing up on.

Shirtdress sleeve

I made it sleeveless for a more streamlined look.  I bound the armhole with some bias fabric.

Shirtdress hidden pocket

And my favourite modification: I added hidden pockets in the skirt side seams.  You can just see the top stitching I put there to keep the pocket lining in place.

I love this pattern.  It's a great fit and cut.  I'm very happy with it, as I suspected I would be, knowing Liesl's work.

Now that I have this garment as a guide, I've made some adjustments to the pattern. I always trace my tissue, store bought patterns onto patterncard for greater accuracy.  Now I'm ready to make the next one (in a fabric that looks a little less like a girl's school uniform).

Rearranging the studio

This week I had a giant clearance sale in my studio for my local customers.  It was one of those "at these prices I must grab 4" type sales.  It was so rewarding to see bulging bags of stock getting carried out of my house by happy customers.


Look - lovely empty baskets.  At the start of the sale these were bulging with Twirl Skirts and Boy's Shirts.


And these trays were overflowing with a mix of tees, summer dresses and Liberty tops.

You know how good it feels when you clean out your child's cupboard and send their old clothes to the thrift shop?  This sale felt good in that kind of way, but multiplied.  I moved about 300 units of stock.  Yippee.


I now have empty drawers and more space to put things away. I've moved my quilt rack to the window.  Previously there were boxes of fabric and bags and bags of winter pyjamas there.


I now have some speakers and my iPod in the studio so I've got favourite music on rotation to keep me company.


But probably the most exciting thing in this space now is my new sewing cabinet.  Yes, it's extremely unattractive, but not quite as bad as the table that houses my industrial sewing machine (on the right).


I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, as I've been busy organising stock for my sale.  So I can't wait for a quiet moment to sew at my new work space.  We are now at the start of three weeks of school holidays so I know I will have to be patient for that quiet time.

Maybe I should have titled this post "rearranging the house" because we've just been out and bought a new dining table with the earnings from my sale.  You can see our existing dining table here (I wish our house was that neat today).  The table and chairs are getting trashed by the children in their heavy school shoes. The surface of the table is uneven and makes doing homework on a bit tricky. Upholstered chairs are very impractical for little people who are so good at spilling their food. So we have bought this table, which is getting delivered tomorrow. To go with it we have found some very cheap versions of the classic Eames chair.  These chairs look good in so many different contexts.  I'm hoping they will look good in our dining space.

Now that I have sold much of the stock that was taking up space in the storage area off our garage we can store our good dining table and chairs there.  When we come to sell our house they will be brought out again and used to present my studio as the formal dining room.

Until then though, I'm enjoying my clutter free studio. (Oh, and the sale prices are now on the website for those further afield who want to grab some bargains.)

Free motion quilting practice

I'm practising my free motion quilting.


This isn't something I've tried before.


I needed a small project on which to practise, so another hot water bottle cover was whipped up.


I like these loopy loops.  They remind me of those handwriting practice sheets my youngest son brings home from school.


Free motion quilting is relatively easy on a small piece like this.  It's when you try it on a bulky quilt that it gets harder.  

I'm thinking of purchasing one of those unattractive sewing tables that your machine sits flat in. Do you have one of these?  

My industrial machine sits flat within a table.  It's as ugly as can be, but is lovely to sew at.  I'm sure it will make all the difference to machine quilting.  My machine currently sits on a rickety little Ikea table with my overlocker.  Not really ideal.

(By the way, does anyone else get confused between 'practice' and 'practise'.  I'm having to recall primary school grammar to write this post.)

Quilts in the making

This airing rack I bought a while ago seems to have become the place where my quilt tops hang out while they wait to be completed.

Quilts in progress

There are a couple of swoon blocks hiding there; there's my half square triangle star quilt (3 blocks complete) and some blocks made with the Quick Curve Ruler that are awaiting sashing.

Curved quilt

Adelaide has taken a liking to this quilt because it's in the favourite colours of most little girls - pink and purple.  Not my favourite colours but this quilt seemed to call for bright fabrics.  These are Joel Dewberry Heirloom prints.

I've decided I'm going to take my quilt tops to a long arm quilter and get them finished.  There are too many now that at are the quilt top stage and aren't progressing any further.

In the studio

Two more days of school for the year.  That means I want to get all my Christmas orders out in the next two days so I can be free to play with the children once holidays start.

Creche bags

Today in the studio I'll be finishing off creche bags and Christmas stockings.  There are lots of t-shirts and bodysuits to detail too.  I'll be busy.

But before all that happens Adelaide and I will be making the most of this glorious sunny day and taking a walk to the local butcher to order our Christmas turkey.

More Liberty sundresses

It's official.  I have an all-time favourite Liberty.

Sundress detail

This Liberty in the Tatum print has enough pink to satisfy Adelaide, and enough blue to keep me very happy.  So a win-win, which is why I have another few metres of it in transit from the UK as I type.


This dress is a Townmouse pattern from the last few summers. (You can pick it up on sale in other fabrics here.)

This is my contribution to Adelaide's summer wardrobe so far.

Summer wardrobe

Let's see, there's this linen sundress from a few ranges back.  I kept the sample that my little muse wore in the photograph. There's yesterday's flutter top, a sundress with flutter sleeves from a few weeks back, a wrap skirt and coordinating t-shirt; and there's even a pair of Oliver + S Puppetshow Bloomers hiding at the back in a blue spotted fabric.

O+S Bloomers

There they are.

I must say, it is so lovely to have reduced my workload this year. This is why I wanted to be able to free up some time - to enjoy sewing for my children before they are too grown up to appreciate what I make. Please excuse me if I overload you with frivolous Liberty creations. There's a lot of pent-up sewing in me that needs to come out. (There's also a sizeable Liberty stash that needs decreasing.)

I even made something for myself last night.  That will have to wait for another post as I haven't hemmed it yet.

Vintage French Dress Form

This is my new dressmaking form.  

Buste de couturiere profile

Isn't she chic?  She's French and, from her shape, I'm guessing she's from the 50s or 60s.  

Buste de couturiere The brand is Juvenia Paris and she's a size 40.  I'm very excited to have found her.

I know in Australia what was a size 10 half a century ago is much smaller than today's size 10.  The human race has grown.

From the measurements on this form, I would guess the same can be said for France.  A French 38 to 40 is my size, but Juvenia is smaller than me.

That's OK though, because at least it means I can try the clothes I am making on this form.  

I have another dress form that I bought about 10 years ago. It too is vintage and in excellent condition - better than Juvenia.

But she's too big, my clothes don't fit her, so she's not much use from a dressmaking point of view. (Although she's been lovely as a prop in my sewing studio.)

So my old dressmaker's form is now for sale.  Her measurements are: bust 89cm, waist 71cm, hip 100cm. She is very sturdy, the base is detachable, you can adjust the height. The base and the top of the neck is a lovely dark coloured wood.  The fabric seems to be a very fine weave linen or linen/cotton blend.  There are no tears in the fabric.  There is some discolouration of the fabric. If any readers are interested in purchasing this lovely sewing prop, please leave an email or comment.

Update:  The dress form has now sold.