work in progress

Too busy to blog

It's been a hectic couple of weeks around here.  As is always the case when a holiday looms, there is much to be done before departure.

I have been patternmaking and sewing samples like a mad woman.  On Tuesday we photographed the winter range on the sweetest little girl.

Miss M

Miss M was an absolute trooper, allowing us to photograph her in 7 different outfits.  At outfit number 5 the bag of snakes came out, and a sugar high kept her happy until the end.

Since then I've been grading and preparing my specifications for the manufacturer.  I think it will be a case of briefing them on the way to the airport.  It's been done before.

I can't wait to board the plane.  I have a few issues of my favourite magazine already packed and am planning on catching a few new release movies I've missed.  I love a plane trip without children.

An embarrassment of riches

More than a thousand metres of fabric have landed in my studio in the last few weeks.  That's only half of what is due, and then more still will bypass my studio and go straight to my manufacturer.  I haven't received my Liberty order yet - that's always one I look forward to.

Sunny top

So while I might be low on stock, there is an excess of fabric.  The space is a little tight, but there are worse things I could surround myself with.

The above fabric is one that is destined for summer dresses - the happy colour I just couldn't ignore.  Somehow this pretty fabric didn't speak to me in the other colourways; I only liked the yellow.

This is a sample of the winter top style (that I still haven't put into production).  Adelaide test drove the sample on the weekend and I'm happy to say I liked it just as much at the end of the day.

Restocking the studio

It's that time of year when my fabric stash grows in anticipation of new ranges and production runs to come.

Thread card

Just before Christmas I visited one of my preferred shirting fabric suppliers.  I was in need of a good plain white shirting cotton for little girl's winter blouses.  I always love poring over swatch books and dreaming of what garments might come from them.

It's an occupational hazard though, the all too easy justification for feeding a fabric addiction.  I tell myself it will be perfect in the range, when in reality, it's just about coveting fabric and wanting to possess a few metres of it.


As well as the white, all these will soon be mine, all mine.

New tools

I felt it was high time I invested in a new cutting mat.

Old mat

I had worn such deep grooves in my old mat from cutting out too many creche bag panels.  I use the mat and a rotary cutter to cut out all my sample garments and sewing.  There were certain measurements on the mat I had to avoid if I wanted a clean cut.

New mat It's not until I compare to a shiny new mat that I realise how dire my equipment was.  So with a new blade in my rotary cutter, it was on to cutting out new creche bag panels.  As the orders pick up towards Christmas I want to get some of the fabric bolts off the floor and into the drawers in the form of cut pieces.

Circus fabric 

A new dilemma

I have collected new season's stock from my manufacturer - winter girl's tops.  These are my favourite Townmouse tops for winter to date. I love the fabrics and colours - let's hope my customers do too.

Winter stock

I'm tempted to keep so many of them for bub-to-be.  This is a new dilemma.  In the past I've kept one or two favourite girl's pieces from the entire 7 years of Townmouse for sentimental reasons.  Now that I will soon have someone to put them in, I'm tempted to squirrel away too many items from the range.

I'm busy building the website with new content, ready to switch over in a week or so.  So it's back to cropping photos, scanning fabric swatches and writing product descriptions.  It's a good thing I have all that Easter chocolate to sustain me because I'm rapidly losing momentum as my belly grows.

Raspberry and ice blue

My favourite colour combination is raspberry and ice blue.  That's what I'm going with for my upcoming winter range.

Winter range

I had great plans to achieve a lot today.  But after staying up late to watch the Oscars, I am incredibly tired.  The most I can aim for is a sample top, ready for one of the unsuspecting boys to try on after school.  I am looking forward to having a female house model in the years to come.  Henri just looks odd in floral tops or sundresses - which is probably a good thing.

Back to reality

There is one more week of school before the boys break up for summer.  Which means one more week in which to get as much work done as possible before Christmas.

ISBN 9784277430777 linen shoes

I'm feeling a little unmotivated after a week away.  I'd rather be trying my hand at a pair of these, than finalising and packing orders.

ISBN 9784277430777 espadrilles

But the orders take precedence, so the shoes and other crafty projects will have to wait until the summer holidays.

ISBN 9784277430777 ballet flats

Images are from this book; one of only three craft books I picked up in Tokyo.  Whereas previously these lovely craft books were the price of a magazine, the big shift in the exchange rate has made them as pricey as a book.  They are now a more considered purchase.

Tracking the years

After reading Fiona's post a while back about losing her precious photographs I took her kind advice and sorted my photo situation.  This also involved putting all the images from Townmouse shoots into albums.  Since 2003 I have had a professional photographer take photos of children in Townmouse clothes each year.


The best thing about this is that I now have a beautiful collection of photos of our three boys.


Many of these have gone into frames and are dotted around our house.


A03 I have borrowed little girls for the shoot - pretty little family friends.  All have been happy to play dress-up for a day. 

Miss A (on the right) made an appearance in 2003 - the first shoot. 

Beautiful Miss E below, whose father went to school with Will, helped out at age 3, 5 and 7. 


My muse - Miss S.  With her beautiful blue eyes, she always looks so pretty against the blue backdrop of the website.  I often design clothes and choose fabric with her in mind.


The ever so cute Miss H, who has helped out the last two years.


Gorgeous little Miss C, who has the sweetest nature to match her beautiful face.


Design evolution

Yesterday I picked up my stock of Beach Tops from the manufacturer.

Beach Tops

It's hard to believe that the initial inspiration for the Beach Top was this Michael Kors outfit.

Michael kors dress I was sitting at the hairdresser at the beginning of the year flicking through a Vogue magazine and came across this.  It was the contrast bands of colour at the neck, hem and sleeves that caught my eye and I wanted to replicate.  Because I used cotton voile for the body of the top, I couldn't finish the neckline in a similar way without the seam of the contrast colour showing through the fabric.  If I'd done it in a more complicated way the manufacturing would cost too much and would risk being too complicated to guarantee a quality finish.

So I shelved the idea of a neck finished this way (until maybe next winter when I use a heavier weight fabric) and adapted a pattern from a few summers back.

Beach Top  

I find it curious how a design idea evolves into the finished product.  There's no connection between the initial inspiration and the end design, but that's what sparked the idea.

Perfectionist patternmaker

I find patternmaking can be an exhausting process because by nature I'm a perfectionist.  This makes developing a new style for the range a long, drawn out exercise as I go through multiple revisions, metres of patternmaking card and many samples.

Short longs

On the bright side, by the time a pattern is production ready I am very confident that it fits well and looks good on.  Having three fit models in the house is very handy.  The boys each have a few pairs of new Short Longs to wear this coming summer.

I'm glad I have the (limited) pattern and garment making skills myself, as outsourcing this many revisions would be an expensive process.

I was a bit stumped last week because I really needed to see the shorts on one and two year olds.  Our youngest is nearly four and my friends' children are now older too.  Then I struck on a bright idea and called up the creche that Tom and Henri went to.  Fortuitously, it's 20 metres from our front door.  So I headed over to the creche with sample garments in hand to find two willing fit models and a helpful carer.

I'm pleased and relieved to say the Short Longs went into production last week and will be ready soon.