Video chat with StephC and Beginner’s Sewing in Brisbane

I’m really, really enjoying the Tiramisu 30 Minutes a Day Sewalong.  To be sure, it’s a lot of work, but *this* is why I started making patterns- so I could put my concepts into your hands and we could work together to make pretty clothes.  It’s just so fun!

I’ve been carefully monitoring the flickr stream discussions and the sewalong comments sections because it’s important to me to keep my ears open and tailor the sewalong to your needs and questions.  I’ve been teaching this way for years locally, and now that I’ve mostly filled my technological knowledge gaps, I want to bring my offline teaching concepts online and into your sewing room.  I’ve shown a lot of restraint in my blogging over the past several years, preferring to sew socially online and teach offline, but that’s changing.

I hadn’t planned to make a video for today’s lesson in the sewalong, but after reading some underbust seam troubles in the flickr group and on some blogs, not to mention the emails, I chose to change today’s lesson to show you how to problem solve on a real Tiramisu dress in motion.  I’ll publish those clips in Lesson 5.

Once I’d finished the sewalong clips, I found I had a lot of thoughts to share about body speech and body comparison.  This is not aimed at any particular person, this is me sharing with you a topic that is really close to my heart which underpins everything I’m doing and will do with Cake Patterns.  Brisbane students of mine will recognize parts of this chat, it comes up in almost every class I teach.  I hope you’ll indulge me and lend an ear- and please feel free to share your perspective in the comments below.

I’ve listened to too many women say too many awful things about themselves (sometimes I feel like a body-image confessor of sorts- I think other sewing teachers and fitters will know what I’m talking about).  Lately it’s been coming up in all kinds of other conversations I have- all the time!  Even worse, I’ve been hearing women compare themselves to other women unfavorably.  Stoppit!  It’s not useful!  Collaborate, don’t compare!

(I’d been taping and sewing and trying on a dress all afternoon in the very warm livingroom, so do forgive the state of my hair! )  This is not the first time I’ve discussed body speech and sewing, but these are perhaps the strongest words I’ve used.

From Zilch to Zips Beginner's Sewing | Voodoo Rabbit | StephC

Meanwhile, if you live in Brisbane and you’d like to work with me to build a solid foundation in basic sewing, I’m pleased to announce a 5 week beginners class I’ll be teaching at Voodoo Rabbit from the 22nd of this month.  We’re calling it “From Zilch to Zips” because that’s what we’ll do- learn solid sewing techniques from nothing to invisible zipper insertion.

Class Schedule

We’ll make a simple shopping tote on the first night, and discuss fabric shopping for your other two projects- a Blank Canvas Tee (basic knitwear, paper pattern provided in class) and a lovely A-line skirt (wovens, hems, zips!)!  It’s a weekly Tuesday evening class, from 6-9pm beginning on the22 of January.  Space is limited to allow maximum teacher interaction, so do go check out the class listing at Voodoo Rabbit and sign up!

I’m also starting up intermediate classes once again- the “bring your own,” ever changing, open sewing class we used to enjoy so much.  I’ll be announcing the date soon so keep an eye out- it’s a one or two session weekend class.

**Also, I’m teaching an all-day Tiramisu Knit Dress class at Voodoo Rabbit on Sunday the 13th (this Sunday) from 12-5.  If you’d like to join up, I still have a space!  Email me

Recovery Foods!

I’m finally feeling like myself again after a week of flu.   I’m still tired and the cough will hang around for a while, but I feel like me again.  Who knows?  Maybe I can even do a little stitching tomorrow?

You’re all so kind, with the good wishes on my last post and the lovely emails you’ve sent me.  Thank you!

I’m desperate to get back on my feet and run around doing stuff again, but I’m terrified to over-do it and earn myself another few days in bed.  I always do that, but not this time.  In addition to taking it easy and sleeping heaps, I’m making sure to eat good foods.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is made from fermented soybeans and has been enjoyed in Japan for centuries.  I keep the house stocked with single-serve packets because even when I’m not sick it’s a fantastic pick-me-up.  It’s easy to drop in a handful of leftover vegetables and some noodles for a simple lunch, which is great when I’m busy.

Click for a delicious and simple recipe

Miso has some fantastic health properties, among them high zinc levels- 47% of your daily intake of zinc can be found in a cup of miso.  Zinc helps promote a strong immune system, just what I need.  Besides, a cup of nice warm soup is quite soothing.


Lately I’ve been reading blog posts here and there about how useless Pinterest is, and what a time suck it is, and how no one ever makes or does the stuff on their pinboards.  Weird.  Sure, sometimes it sucks me in and I hit a “re-pin” loop for a while, and no, I have not tried every recipe for homemade facial peels on my Household Board, but on the whole I have found Pinterest actually enhances my life.

click for source

For example, I started drinking delicious fruit, vegetable and yogurt smoothies again after discovering some fantastic recipes on Pinterest.  This one is amazing, made with yogurt and pineapple and spinach, packed with the kinds of nutrients I need to get better.  Yogurt helps, too- it’s protein and contributes to healthy gut flora, which helps build good health.  I’ve also been known to drop in a few teaspoons of peanut butter, use frozen berries, really the sky is the limit with smoothies.  But I doubt I would have re-discovered my love of smoothies without nudges from my Pinterest feed.

Bacon and Eggs

I never had much of a sweet tooth, but I am very easily tempted by fatty, savory dishes.   I  especially love a plate of bacon and eggs.  It’s easy to cook, easy to eat, delicious, un-pretentious, filling and comforting.

Americans, this is Australian bacon.  I admit it took me a while to get used to it, but now the other stuff looks pretty wimpy by comparison.  I like to fry a piece or two until the fatty pieces are crispy, pull them out and cook my scrambled eggs in the same pan.  Obviously, I don’t eat this for every meal, but the first indication I was feeling better was an overwhelming craving for bacon and eggs after a week of feeling disgusted by food.  Besides, eggs are easy to digest and full of B-vitamins.

Now, please tell me- what do you recommend to help promote good health after being very sick?  What’s your favorite sick person food?  Are vitamin C caplets a godsend or a waste of money?  (I’m undecided but am taking them anyway to cover my bases…)

Catching Up and Ducklings!

I have been woefully remiss lately, barely writing anything!  I miss you all, and I’m back now.  My life’s been interesting (in a good way!) lately, and I just don’t know what to write about.

I thought I’d start by thanking everyone who came out to Piece Together for the Perfectly Fitting Pants workshop.  I haven’t taught a day-long workshop in a year, but once we started I barely registered the time.  It was such a pleasure to work with so many extremely clever and talented stitchers!  We spent the day muslining Pants Blocks, then altering individual patterns to for fit and cutting the pants.  Some of us made it to construction stage, and at any rate we had a great set of finished patterns by the end of the afternoon. I was SO pumped when I went home that night, just full of ideas!

The new downstairs Piece Together space is pretty perfectly set up for classes and socializing.  While I was teaching Perfectly Fitting Pants my Knits Mastery class for next month filled up!  If you’re interested in information about either of these classes, I’ll run them again before Christmas so keep your eyes peeled.  Better yet, email me and I’ll put you on the waitlist!

In other turbo-fantastic news, my little machine is out of the repair shop!  She broke a few months ago after I botched an attempt at deep-cleaning (don’t, I repeat, don’t take your machine out of the casing…. I knew better).  I’ve been using a friend’s machine ever since.  I was very very grateful for the loaner machine, and we did some good work together but I missed my machine.  She works hard and handles everything I throw at her, we have a history and she knows what I mean by just a flick of my fingertips.  I’m really, really happy she’s well and home.

Jemima is yellow, Sarah is black….

And in non-sewing-related news, we have two little ducklings living with us.  They hatched last week at my husband’s family farm and we thought Lila would like to have some pet ducklings around the house.  When they get bigger we can keep them in our backyard pen or send them back to the farm to keep pests down in the orchard and turn kitchen scraps into fertilizer and eggs.  But for now, we have some chirpy fluffballs hanging around.  I do rather like ducks.

I’m always so jealous of everyone’s sewing cats on their blogs, maybe for a while I’ll have a sewing duckling…

A note on the polarfleece hack for June- It was underwhelming.  I’ll admit it.  I got super busy after putting it together enough to see it was kind of boring, so I set it aside. And I couldn’t find a red zipper.  Terrible.  I’ll be revealing what I did to that nice red piece of polar fleece this week, and July’s hack will be my improvement on June’s design.  June is nice but very middle-of-the-road, so for July I thought I’d roll up my sleeves and build on the design to make something a little more exciting.  That’s the plan, anyway!

Thanks for being patient with me lately.  I’m back- not every night, but I’m back now with heaps of ideas!  The blog may take a slightly different direction than I’ve trod thus far, but I’m really excited about the changes and I hope you will be, too.

If you’d like a little look at what I’ve been sewing the past week, check out my facebook page for the worst kept secret of 2012… Let me know what you think.  I’ll be writing about all of that later this week, too!

Clearing Out My Sewing Room for Fabric-a-brac!

This is the state of my sewing room right now.  I say sewing room, though for the past few weeks the mess has forced me to sew at the dining room table.  I’ve been telling myself for a year or so to clear out the cupboards and pass on the proceeds to someone who would put to use the fabric remnants, scraps, and the 15 or so Amy Butler patterns I acquired the year I taught a once-a-month Amy Butler bag class… It’s so easy to pile up fabrics and patterns when you work in a sewing shop!  My needs as a sewist have changed, yet I’m still hoarding all this stuff. Which means I don’t have any room for the stuff I do use.

Today, I rolled up my sleeves and set to work.  I’d love to tell you that everything is ship-shape and in good order, but I think this is a task that might take a little while.  I uncovered piece after piece of leftover fabric, remembering the sewing and the blogging and the life those garments live.

Some of my “wasted space” is taken up by projects I haven’t yet finished.  I have two deep drawers full of pieces of this medallion quilt– all of it in one place with the paper piecing templates and extra fabric pieces.  It’s nowhere nearer completion than it was last year this time.  I think I don’t love the tamarind color.  What can I possibly do with this?

Fabric-a-brac is an annual stash-busting and social event that takes place all over New Zealand and more recently in Sydney and Brisbane!  It provides crafters and sewists with a chance to de-stash, socialize, and score a few bargains.  I’m very, very pleased to organize the second-ever Brisbane Fabric-a-brac at the State Library Queensland as part of Brisbane Fashion Week.  Fashion Week in Brisbane is a chance to check out all the latest collections from local and international designers, but also features a range of events and discussions to enhance our understanding of clothing and textiles and the roles they play in our everyday lives.

Fabric-a-brac Brisbane will be held in conjunction with a fascinating panel discussion on Fashion and Cultural Identity, presented by women from the Romero Center– a local refugee-aid community center.  If you’re interested, do follow the link and RSVP– it’s free!  I am *very* intrigued (I’m an immigrant, too!) and look forward to hearing what these ladies have to say.

A portion of the proceeds from Fabric-a-brac Brisbane will go to benefit the good work at Karuna Hospice.  Karuna are also accepting fabric and notions donations for their own fabric-a-brac table, and they’ll be selling tea and coffee and baked goods!

This event has really come together in the past two weeks, I’m almost out of space for stallholders.  If you’d like to buy a stall space to de-stash and help Karuna Hospice, please email me at or at my regular email address.  I don’t expect to have space for much longer, so do drop me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

If you’d like to help out and donate fabric or baked goods for Karuna Hospice, email me at or and I’ll take good care of you.

If you’d like to drop by Fabric-a-brac to check out the finds, then mark your calendar for August 25th, 12-5pm, State Library Queensland, Level 2 Terrace.  You can RSVP via the Fabric-a-brac Facebook page.

Meanwhile, I have quilting and crafting scraps to sort into neat little bundles for the sale… Silks, wools, lace, velvet, quilting fabrics, bags I cut out and labeled but never stitched- I’m clearing out as much as I can while I have the chance!

How does that sound, Brisbane?  Also- if you’d like a tamarind and lime and black and while quilt that is 75% pieced, let me know!

And if you’re not in Brisbane– I’d love to hear of some great ways to get rid of extra sewing and crafting stuff.  Do you hang on to remnants like me, or do you get rid of them?  How do you tame your sewing room?

Lamington Cake Bites- Queensland Treats

This week marks the 5th anniversary of my move from Texas to Queensland, so I thought I’d make some cake.  Lamingtons are an Australian food, little pieces of yellow sponge cake dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut.

I like the idea of them, but the little Lamington cakes from the bakery aren’t very exciting.  I decided to try my hand at making them, so my buddy Enid came by this afternoon to make a batch and catch up.  Both of us have small children and limited discretionary funds, so an afternoon of baking is a great way to hang out for cheap with a sweet payoff.  Besides, we split the baking so I don’t end up eating far more cake than is good for me!

It started with a simple Google search for Lamington cake recipes.  Before I knew it, I was sucked in by the mystery surrounding the origins of this treat and its namesake.  Lord Lamington was the Governor of Queensland around the turn of the last century.  Though his term as governor was relatively short, he was well-respected and lent his name to both the Lamington cake and the spectacularly beautiful Lamington National Park.  Not a bad legacy, having your name attached to a cake and a slice of paradise:

It seems fairly clear the cakes are named after the Governor, but less clear are the stories of its invention.  My favorite story is that a clumsy maid knocked stale sponge cake into a plate of chocolate, and the thrifty Lord said “Cover it in coconut and serve it.”  The more likely story is that Lamington’s French cook had to provide a nice dinner with little notice.  He sliced some stale sponge cake, dipped it in chocolate and rolled it in coconut.  European cooks at the time didn’t use coconut, but his wife was Tahitian and they used coconut in their cooking.  The guests loved the “new” cake and clamored for the recipe.

At any rate, Enid and I (and Lila!) had so much fun in the kitchen today that I *had* to share the recipe and what we did.

I couldn’t find a well-reviewed “proper” or definitive Lamington recipe, so Enid suggested we use her family’s Victoria Sponge cake recipe.  I took notes:

Lamington Cake Base:

200g (1 cup) caster suger (white sugar)

200g (7/8 cup) butter, softened

200g (1.5c) flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange zest (added when my eye fell on a basket of sweet local oranges in my kitchen)

1 package chocolate chips

1/3c milk

2-3 cups coconut.  I used shredded, but “dessicated” is the preferred coconut.

Grease and flour a 13″ X 9″ baking pan.  Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F.  Cream together the butter and the sugar.  Stir in vanilla and orange zest.  In a separate bowl, mix or sift together the dry ingredients.  Add 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of flour mixture to the butter, mixing until just blended.  Repeat with each egg.  Gently fold in remaining flour mixture, do not over-beat.  Spread it in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it rest 5 minutes, then turn it out to cool on a wire rack.

We could have taken greater care with the beating to make a softer cake, but even though we didn’t take great pains with it this yields quite a decent base cake with very little effort.

Assembling the Lamingtons:

The cake went together almost as simply as a cake mix, and came out a pretty golden color.  It’s not a “soft” cake, but holds its shape well which makes it suitable for Lamingtons.

We sliced the cake into 1.5″ wide “strips” then cross-cut them into pieces.  Enid decided she liked the variety of sizes we cut because sometimes you just want a tiny bite of cake, sometimes you’d like a little more.   At this point, I got really excited and whipped out my camera.  I used to enjoy baking before I moved here, but after the move my cakes and cookies never turned out the way they used to.  I think it’s the flour.   This is the first cake I’ve made in 5 years that actually behaves like cake.

We cut off the bottom edges, because you’re supposed to. And because we may have slightly burnt the bottom.

Most recipes I found for Lamingtons involve a milk-icing sugar-cocoa mixture cooked over a double boiler to dip the cake.  Instead, I grabbed a package of chocolate chips and mixed in some milk to thin it in a mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water.

We kept stirring and adding a little milk at a time (could have been more than 1/3 c) until the chocolate was melted and the consistency of chocolate syrup.

I dropped a piece of cake into the molten chocolate chips.

And rolled it around until it was covered, then lifted it out…

…and dropped it in the coconut.  Lila had the job of tossing the coconut over the cake until she remembered how much she likes coconut and began eating it.

Then we placed them on the wire rack to let the chocolate set.

We rolled some of them in cocoa powder for a truffle effect because I’m not the biggest fan of coconut.

Enid and Lila and I had a great afternoon baking together.  Who knew dipping little pieces of yellow cake into chocolate and rolling them in coconut would be so much fun?

Later on, my husband (a genuine Queenslander) tried one.  “They’re good, but they’re not Lamingtons.”

I must have fancied them up too much with orange zest and shredded (rather than dessicated) coconut.  Too bad, I like them the best of any Lamingtons I’ve ever tried!  The chocolate brings out the orange flavor in the best way possible, dear me it’s delicious.  And just a bite or two at a time, no more.  Perfect.

Besides, apparently Lord Lamington himself didn’t care for the cakes, calling them “bloody poofy wooly biscuits.”

Australians: Have I committed a sacrilege with a beloved national food?  How do you make your Lamingtons?

Do you ever get together with a friend or two to bake?  What do you make?

The Stylish Adventures of Lilasaurus

Lilasaurus rides the bus to the city.

I thought I’d take a break from stretch pants pattern and alteration posts to show you what I threw together over the weekend.  My niece and nephew all but share a birthdate, so my SIL throws one big party for them- usually themed.  Last year, I made Lila a leopard-print coat dress for the Jungle party.  (I have this crazy idea that I don’t like little kiddie jumpsuity animal-ly type costumes.  I like costumes to be semi-wearable garments.)  This year, they were all about dinosaurs.

Lilasaurus helps Mommy look for stripey fabrics.

Hmm.  I had no idea what to do for the costume, so I procrastinated.  On Friday, Stephen told me the party was that weekend, not the following weekend as we’d thought.  Awesome!  Luckily, I found a cute (and very very quick) tutorial for a dinosaur hoodie from DIYing to be Domestic.  It’s a new-to-me blog, but I love what she does!  Her hoodie is a little different from mine and she does a great job of showing you how to make it, so skip on over and check it out for instructions.

Lilasaurus standing on a street corner just before a pair of Japanese hipsters giggle and ask to take her picture.

This hoodie uses felt diamonds and a pre-made hoodie.  I can’t believe I had to go to four stores before I found a kinda-sorta plain one!  It’s nice and plushy, and has some cutie girlie details.  Lila wanted a pink hoodie with green spikes.  Ok, kid.

Lilasaurus wants to catch a pigeon.

I took some photos today while we were out and about.  I said to Lila “Let’s go to the library today, Mommy needs another Fandorin novel and you can get a new book, too.”

Lilasaurus stands in line for sushi.

“Ok.  Can we get sushi and go to the park?”

“Sure.” (Sushi is really cheap here.  Ridiculously.  It’s good, too.)

Lilasaurus loves the pretend pirate ship in the Bontanical Gardens, and learned the word “steering” because we don’t drive ships.

“I can wear my new hoodie!”

“Alright, Lila.”


Lilasaurus gets a book from the library.

I had originally planned to remove the spikes after the party, but she loves her little hoodie so much I’ll leave them.  We have such good fun on these afternoons out, thanks for letting me share!

Do you ever make kiddie costumes?  What’s your favorite?  Do you kinda want a dino-hoodie now?  (I do…)

I woke up this morning to nearly 80 new data points waiting in my inbox for the waist to hip ratio project I’m working on and they’ve been rolling in all day!  If you have a minute, I’d really appreciate it if you’d contribute your own measurements, too.  Once I have a nice large set, I’ll play with the numbers and write all about it!

Pants Block Muslin and Perfectly Fitting Pants Class

I finished the Duchess of Cambridge top- for all that I used fancy fabric, I have a suspicion the name may be a little grand.  Check it out at Sew Weekly.  I’m wearing her here with my Pinkie Pants, my first foray into the world of fitting slim cut stretch pants.  I almost haven’t taken them off since I made them (ewwww) because they’re so comfy and seem to work with most of my tops.

I started working on fitting stretch-slims with some of my Pants Block clients*.  It kept coming up.  The block works well for light/medium to heavy weight wovens:  regular trouser fit through wide-leg, that is.  This month, I’m on a mission to use my own block to “crack” the Colette Clover pattern.  Once I work out the method I’ll be a better teacher/block drafter.  I chose Clover to work with because it’s ubiquitous and simple.  Once I nail the fit it will be fun to play with the Clovers- add some pocket flaps here, a cuff there, and maybe go nuts with fun seaming.  I have two other lengths of the same fabric I used for the Pinkie Pants, but in teal and in khaki.

The first step is muslining the block.  I made myself a block from scratch to document the process of working on the block.  Also, I recognize that for many it’s a little nerve-wracking to email awkward shorts muslin photos for fitting so I thought I’d embarrass myself publicly with similar shots so we’re all equal.

Not bad, not perfect.   It’s fairly typical, though as I make more blocks I refine the process to make better blocks every time I draft.

Not bad, either.  There’s a little bit of pulling at the bottom, and when I was wearing them I felt the crotch seam (hate that word!) riding up too much for comfort.

I scooped out the front crotch seam by about 1/4″, tapering to nothing in the straight part of the CF seam.  I did the back much the same way, but tapered it much sooner on the curve because I didn’t have any problems with the back.

That’s all we needed.  There’s a residual wrinkle in the fabric because it’s the world’s grossest polyester suiting.  I can’t press a crease into it, but it will hold onto my fitting wrinkles.  Growl!

That’s fine, too.  I’m less worried about the wrinkles at the top, they have more to do with the pin-job than the fit.

Sometimes the muslins need much more tweaking than this, which is fine.  I’m more than happy to work at your own pace on the fitting, and it’s not easy to stump me.  I’ve been staring at wrinkly backsides for quite some time now.

At any rate, if you’ve been curious about the process of fitting the block, that’s about it.  I send you the block, you send me photos, I suggest the alterations, and we work on it until the issues are resolved.  I had a few hiccups along the way in developing the service (tech issues, language issues- now I tend to just use diagrams, much easier), but I’m confident now with fitting pants via email.

If you’re curious about what the block looks like, you can check out the sample pdf I uploaded here.  If you choose electronic delivery, this is what you will receive (except calibrated to your measurements, of course).   I’m also increasing the prices on the Pants Block service as of the 13th- my next drafting day.  The new prices will be $40 for a block with postal delivery and $45 for electronic delivery.  They’re $30 until the 13th.

I’m really excited to tell you all I’m running this as a class next month at Piece Together in Brisbane!  It’s a one-day pants fitting workshop on Saturday, July 14.  I’ll draft your custom block before the first class and we’ll spend the first part of the workshop tweaking your muslin.  Once that’s done, we can work on the trousers/pants/jeans pattern of your choice.  I’ll show you how to use your block as a reliable alteration tool, and we’ll finish the hard parts on your project- at least the fly and the pockets, though with 6 hours on our hands I’m sure we can get some great work done!  This is an intermediate to advanced sewing class, at least basic knowledge of sewing is required.

Click here for more details and to register online.  I only have 7 spaces and expect them to fill quickly.  The ladies who run Piece Together did a fantastic job of creating a streamlined way to register and pay online- no hassles or bothers.

Whew!  That was a lot… The whole point of a properly fitted block is to use it as an alteration tool.  In the next post on Pants, I’ll show you step-by-step how to alter Clovers using this block.  I might slip in a few fun potential design features, too- oooh!  I just had a thought!  If I’m using Clovers, I can make a fun pdf of pocket flaps and cuffs to share!  Now I’m itching to get started on these!

Coming Attractions: Friday Night Extras (new series!) and The May Hack.  I’m really, really loving the hack.

*If you and I made a block together and you would like additional help with fitting slim cut pants, please feel free to email me and I’ll sort you out.  Otherwise, keep watching this series because it will be helpful to you Blockers especially.

Finished Object: Tux Dress; Frock Out and Giveaway Winner!

I thought the Tux Dress tied in all too well with this week’s “Vegas” theme on Sew Weekly, which is why I held off posting the finished object until now.  Check it out at Sew Weekly to see the completely finished dress and details.

I had a great excuse for a new dress- hosting “Frock Out” night at Piece Together in Wooloongabba.  Basically, it’s a chance to get your favorite frock out of the closet (or, in my case make a new one!), dust it off and get together with other crafty people for dinner, drinks and a bit of sewing.  Piece Together is a magical combination of sewing cafe, workshop space and handmade marketplace.  This was my first event with Piece Together but it won’t be my last.

I mean, look at the space.  From the Colette sewing classes to the Oliver + S dress samples to the comfy old mid-century style living room set up in the back- it’s fantastic.  And homey.  And a little bit like “How did they read my mind about what the perfect sewing and teaching space would look like?”  We had 33 people, and while we ran out of sparkling wines after a while (note to self for next time…), the food was plentiful.

Once we’d mingled, had a few drinks and some food, we settled down to make the Dior rose hairclip/brooch craft.  It’s such fun to watch a group of people take the same craft and make it all their own.

I thought I’d throw in a few “Tux Dress in Action” shots.

Check out the poster behind me on the wall!  So meta.

If there’s anything lovelier than women sharing a laugh, I don’t know what it is.

To spice up the night, we gave away prizes sponsored by local independent fabric stores.  Many, many thanks to:

Fabric Fascinations- for all your apparel fabric and chick-ly needs (opening soon!)

Sckafs- Located in Indooroopilly shopping center, a great spot for top-quality haberdashery, lace, and wovens of all descriptions

Voodoo Rabbit- My absolute 100% favorite place for quilting cottons (a lot of Lila’s clothes come from there).  They’re in the Gabba and online.  And Ky did a really great write-up of the night on their shop blog.

The Fabric Store- My favorite place for apparel fabrics, this place has serious clothing fabrics.  Not just fancies- but everything.  And enough weird stuff to keep me happy, too.

And I’d like to say a special thank you to my Sister-in-law, Lisa Barry.  My husband (my usual photographer) flatly refused to come to Frock Out.  I think the thought of being the only man in a big room full of drinking and fabric-flower making ladies kind of terrified him.  His sister Lisa does gorgeous natural light children’s and family portraits (she did my wedding photos, which I love) so I begged her to come help me out and she did!  Indoors, at night, and a party atmosphere was a little bit different, but she really rolled with it.  Thanks, Lisa!

And finally: The winner of the Simplicity dress pattern + Dior Rose Brooch (if you’d prefer to make one, I can send you a kit!) is……. Gorgeous Nettie at Sown Brooklyn!  Flick me your address, Nettie, and I’ll send a little package your way.

Frock Out was so much fun, I’m already half planning another similar night for a few months from now- but better!  I’m also teaching several proper workshops at Piece Together in the coming months and weeks (details and registration coming very very soon), so if you live locally and you’d like to know when I’m hosting more classes and events, just fill in your name and email address and I’ll keep you up to date.

Frock Out was such great fun, and I met so many awesome new people!  Looking forward to seeing you next time.

Frock Out Prizes Update and Giveaway

Frock Out night approaches!  On May 26th, I’m running a crafty-social night at Piece Together in Wooloongabba.  The idea is to meet up with other local sewists and crafters and enjoy a few drinks and some nibbles wearing a garment you’ve made- perhaps that pretty frock that you love but wore only once?  Now is your chance to get it out!  Am I the only person who does that?

If you don’t sew but you’d like to come along, you’re also welcome!  The “dress” code isn’t rigid at all- but only those who wear an outfit they’ve made will be eligible to enter the drawing for prizes:

Sew & Pamper Prize Pack from Fabric Fascinations– Anna Maria Horner Evening Empire Dress Pattern, OPI Black Shatter Nail Polish, and a yummy Salt City candle!  Fabric Fascinations is a soon-to-be-open Brisbane based online boutique for all your apparel fabric and chick-ly needs.  I love the concept, more on Fabric Fascinations soon!

Edited to add this breaking news: Voodoo Rabbit, purveyor of “fabric and sewing supplies for the dark arts and craftist” is sponsoring a $50 Gift Voucher! Whew!  They carry all manner of very very cool and unexpected quilting cottons (my favorite place to go dress fabric shopping with the little girl!) and haberdashery.  And I love hanging out with those ladies!  They’re super rad!

$50 Gift Voucher from Sckaf’s Fabrics– They’re a fantastic local retailer of wovens, fancy-fancy swishy fabrics, haberdashery and trims.   I visited them the other week and I was blown away by their customer service, it was my first visit but will not be my last.

$75 Gift Voucher from The Fabric Store.  They’re a part of the Global Fabrics family, and only opened up in Brisbane last November.  I. Love. Their. Fabrics.  They carry fabrics I *want* to wear: casuals, wools, boucles, suitings, all kinds of knits, “green” fabrics, everything.  I think most of my makes this year have been from materials I picked up there.  The prices are not bad at all, the quality is great, and I love chatting with whoever is working.

And finally, I’ll be giving away a spot in my “Perfectly Fitting Pants” workshop, to be held July 14th at Piece Together- more on that workshop to come!

I won’t lie.  I’m super jealous.  I want those prizes!  I’m not kidding.

Now, I know I have a lot of readers outside Brisbane, and I thought I’d have a nice frocky giveaway to smooth things over with you all.  This is Simplicity 4110, which I got in a pattern swap.  I’d like to pass her on to someone else.

To enter, just leave a comment here telling me about your favorite dress.  It could be yours, it could be an iconic dress, it could be one you saw on a sewing blog.  Entries close at 2pm on the 26th- then I’ll choose a winner at Frock Out and read out your comment!  It’s almost, just a little like coming along.  And I’ll throw in a Dior Rose brooch/hairpiece!  (If I could, I’d drop in a cocktail, too..)

Check out my Dior rose hairpiece- that’s the craft we’re making!  I went out and picked up the fabric (mmm, yummy silk-cotton Radiance) today, several shades of “rose” from red to pinks to ivory.  That’s what’s the in the banner tonight!

If you’re in Brisbane and this sounds like your idea of a good time, check out the Frock Out! page for more information and to register (if I know numbers ahead of time, I can get the catering right!).  I have a few little surprises up my sleeve, too…

Special Frock Out offer for Brisbane Bloggers: Help me spread the word through Brisbane’s crafting community by blogging about Frock Out.  Email the link to me and I’ll send you a ticket to Frock Out for half price!

And many, many thanks to BrisStyle (the local arm of Etsy) for featuring me and Frock Out on the BrisStyle blog!

Next up: some 1940’s menswear, buttonholes, and then I’m diving headfirst into my dress for Frock Out… I’ve had a few thoughts.

Gem of a Fabric Shop: Sckafs at Indooroopilly

Despite my best intentions, I haven’t added to my “Guide to Brisbane Fabric Stores” since I bagged Lincraft, but this morning I headed out with my friend Janet to check out Sckafs.  I’ve lived (and sewn) here in Brisbane for nearly five years and somehow never visited before!

It’s located in level one of the Indooroopilly shopping center (that’s a big mall, Americans, but they don’t use that word here) next to Myer (kind of like Macy’s).  It’s fantastic!

In fact, it’s so full of absolutely gorgeous fabrics, trims and bits I didn’t know where to look first.  Fran, the lovely lady behind the counter bemoaned the lack of space in the shop, but I think it’s wonderful.  It’s one thing to walk into a cramped shop with very little of interest, it’s another to find a clean, tidy, well-lit Aladdin’s Cave of goodies.  Well done, Sckaf’s.

They had linens- more colors than I could possibly photograph- neutrals, blues, pinks, reds, yellow, everything.

Rolls upon rolls of denim- heavy to light, white to deep indigo to a funny bright blue herringbone stripe that I’m now kicking myself for not bringing home with me…

Checks of every size, color and description from gingham to mardras.  I’m eyeing that blue/green/aqua/white madras there to the left.  Mmmm.

They also stock sumptuous silks- plain, embroidered, damask, beaded.  You name it, Sckafs probably has it.  That lovely happy checked silk kept calling to me…

Oh, how I wish I could justify buying a little white silk with red watercolored roses!  If only I had a reason to wear such a fabric!

Those were just a few of my favorites, I couldn’t begin to name off everything they have- linings, poly ITY, a silk-wool twill with excellent drape, broderie anglaise, the list goes on.  Even more amazing- they have an online store.  How have I never visited them?

Janet and I pawed through the laces.  I could see this as an insertion near the hem of a full skirt.  Wow.

Huge selection of lace and trim.  Alas, nothing I could find that would work for my NYC LBD.

And their button wall?  Truly epic.  This is half of it- floor to ceiling.

Besides all the pretties, I was really impressed by their customer service.  Both ladies behind the counter worked quickly and courteously to help each customer in turn.  Sckafs seemed pretty busy while I was there, but they neither hurried nor seemed flustered.  My bud Enid told me when she went there to obsess over wedding-party silks, they took time with her to discuss shades of pink and ways to put together ties.  I love that!

Brisbanites- where would you like me to scope out next?

This is the shape April’s Hack will take.

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me sort out the design issues with the 40’s Charm hack.  It all seemed so clear once I read your comments this morning, I’m all charged up and feeling confident while I finish the hack and pattern.  Thank you!  And a big, extra special THANK YOU to Tanit-Isis, who makes my line drawings every month because she’s talented and lovely.  I really enjoy our collaborations.