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Simplicity 8640 as Folkwear Armistice Blouse.

30 Jun

Still catching up with stuff from last year!

I saw a piccie of Folkwear’s Armistice Blouse and fell in love, not so much with the top one, but that gorgeous white one at the bottom.

But it’s kinda expensive to buy and get sent over (postage can be kinda crazy). And the wonderful Sewsquirrel, who stocks lots of Indi patterns, doesn’t stock Folkwear. Oh well.

Then I realised that perhaps I could make this pattern from my stash that I’ve never used before, work. You can’t see clearly, but the blue version has a collar. I liked the sweetheart neckline too. The centre front panel is wider than the Folkwear Armistice Blouse but I decided fiddling round with the pattern to make it a bit smaller wasn’t worth the effort.

I cut out the bodice, and instead of shaping in for the waist, I just cut it straight down, then extended it to get the length I was after. It worked!

Here’s a close-up of the neckline and crochet. I’d made the collar wider than the pattern, thinking it might make it look more like the Armistice Blouse, but it just looked weird. So I cut the collar down and used more of the crochet to edge it. I don’t have a close-up of the final affair but it looked heaps better. I’ll have to see if I can get a close-up and add it in.

See how pretty that fabric is? ūüôā

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
Grey Rose cotton poplin, and some white cotton broadcloth. The poplin with grey roses was a present from a very dear friend of mine. I’d been having a bad time of it with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and he decided to treat me to this gorgeous fabric. Thankyou “T/S”
Crochet edging by me, in white cotton, size 40.
Tie is a silk sash I got as a free present with my first order of dyes from Dharma Trading. ¬†Nice! I’ve worn it with a few other ties at the waist, and even without any tie, which actually looks better than I thought it would.
  • Inspiration

The Armistice Blouse from Folkwear.

  • Construction notes

It went together very easily. I bound the inside of the collar with a small facing, clean-finished by that great technique where you sew the outer edge of the facing to the interfacing, and turn that edge inside out, hiding the raw edges inside. The facing extended an inch or so below the start of the inner panel.

The crochet set everything of so nicely ūüôā

I did a silly thing. I simply extended the pieces straight down rather than narrowing in for the waist. And DUH!!! I needed to have widened them from waist down for my hip. So now it has a rather long side-split so it fits without straining across my hips. Hey, it works!


  • Cost
The fabric and sash were a gift ūüôā
  • Last word

I really love this pattern. I’m now on the lookout for the Perfect Fabric for another version, probably this time truer to the pattern, with that lovely peplum instead of extending it straight down. Not sure about the tassels on the corners of the peplum though! Might not be too practical for laundering. We’ll see…


Heather Bailey voucher giveaway

17 Nov

I recently bought Heather Bailey’s Boho Cloche pattern. I’ve almost finished a hat from it, and I’ve made 5 flowers from her flower pattern!


I’m really impressed with the pattern. It’s very well drafted, and looks just the way it is pictured, and is quite an ingenious design of hat. (I know – I’ve sewn heaps of hats in my time). It also came with a little 10% off voucher if I make a purchase¬†before the end of Nov.

I don’t have anything else I want to buy from her shop, and it seems a shame to let it elapse. So I’m taking the chance to say I’m very impressed with her pattern, and offering the voucher to anyone who would use it and find out for themselves the quality of what she is offering. First in best dressed! Let me know if you want it, and your email and I’ll send you the details!


Blouse pattern loveliness

10 Nov

I loves me a delicate white blouse. I loves me bias clothes. I loves me this pattern, Colette’s Jasmine Blouse,¬†and I want to make it in some white silk I have in the back of the cupboard. I can order the pattern in Australia! ¬†I just discovered SewSquirrel’s site thanks to sewbusylizzie‘. Er I think Sewsquirrel is in Aust. I’m not getting charged postage at anyrate, and you know what that means! More money for patterns!!!

Now, un-sidetracking from the point of this post, did any Australian readers watch Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries on the ABC earlier this year? I’ve read all of Kerry Greenwood’s books I’ve ever got my hands on, not just the Phryne¬†Fisher ones, and thus just had to watch the shows. Ok ok of course I’m in love with Phryne’s wardrobe. I would have to be 6 foot under to not be. However I also just loved Dot’s blouses. She seemed to have a long procession of sweet often white or a subdued brown blouses with the collars edged in lace. ENVY!!!

Looking around for a pattern so I can have a sweet blouse with a lace-edged collar too, I found the Armistice Blouse from Folkwear.

Folkwear Armistice Blouse

Here is Casey of Casey’s Elegant Musings’ version. Oh I love this.

Then I remembered I have this pattern, which if you look closely and ignore the stamp on it, you can see the bodice and collar on the blue dress are very similar to the folkwear pattern:

Then I saw this fabric in Spotlight – cotton poplin, which I fell in love with and a wonderful friend bought me as a little present. (Thankyou so much S___ :-D). (Bet you can’t see where all this is heading!)

And I have literally a good few metres of this lace I crocheted myself, from an Irish Crochet pattern from the early 1900’s, similar time frame to the Folkwear Armistice Blouse:

I really like the tie-waist of the Folkwear pattern, as with this top, I discovered I like wearing looser-style shirts tied at the waist, so I figured if I used the bodice pieces but didn’t shape them in to the waist, I’d get the same effect.

And I’ve just cut it out! Stay tuned to find out how it all comes together…

My first mosaic is done!

25 Jun

It isn’t sewing, but it is craft. And I could write a thesis on why mosaics and sewing are similar.¬†They both take basic raw elements, cut them into suitable shapes then put them all together in a (hopefully) artistic, appealing, expressive way. ¬†And (hopefully!) all the technical choices of thread, grout etc ares the right kind for the project so it all stays put and doesn’t fall apart, taking your hard work with it.

It is also addictive. I could easily have a stash of tesserae right up there alongside my stash of fabric and sewing patterns. I need more storage space!!!

And, sad but true, you can be left at the end of the either a sewing or mosaic project going “How beautiful. But, er, what do I do with it now?”

How I did it all:

A friend of a friend (fof) started teaching my friend and I mosaics. (heh, good sentence huh? makes sense?) by getting us to draw an outline of our motif on a tile. My tile is about 30cm square, an old terracotta one the fof had in her er, mosaic stash? I chose a bee and a flower.

Next we chose tiles in the colours we wanted, then smashed them up inside an old hand towel (to protect the tiles and the pavers we were smashing them on). This bit was inordinately FUN ūüėÄ

Then we arranged them into the chosen motif. Where necessary we snipped the tiles a bit to shape with tile cutters, though Fof seemed to think that was cheating a bit. She is a real fan of using the fragments of tiles as they broke, searching to find just the right one. All the bee tiles were found as is, and to be fair to fof, it was surprising how easy it was to find pieces in just the right shape. I only snipped the flower petals and leaves a bit.

Once we had the pieces all laid out, we glued each one down. The glue was like a sandy cement.

Here is the basic motif in place on the tile. You can see the motif drawn on the tile too, and how I took Artistic License to make the tile pieces work together to form the motif.


After a year of it sitting round like this, and fof long moved onto another craft (cutting gemstones!) I realised the reason I’d baulked was the glueing. First placing everything on the tile in the right place – that was ok. But to then have to fiddle around with smelly glue (I have sinuses that strenuously object to that sort of thing ūüė¶ picking each individual I conceived of another way.

I laid out the tesserae as desired, then covered them with contact. You know, that sticky plastic used to cover school books and stuff? I used clear contact so I could see what I was doing better. Then I’d lift the up the contact and the tesserae stuck to it, glue the underneath of the tesserae then stick it all back down and leave it to dry. Sadly because the glue was a drying style glue, not a chemical reaction style of glue, the contact made it take a looong time for it to all dry. But overall it worked! And much less frustrating than gluing each individual tessera down.

I did the contact/glueing bit in segments. You can see at the top-centre a segment of bare tile still to go. The shiny bit at the bottom of the picture is the light reflecting off the contact.

After it was glued, the glue firmly dried and I’d cleaned the excess glue up, I had to grout it. I sat on this one for months, I swear. I really needed a teacher, but fof was so happily into her gemstone cutting (sooo beautiful!) I kept forgetting to ask her for help each time I saw her. I confess, I just went into instant Admiration Mode over her gemstones, then upon returning home realise I’d forgotten yet again to ask her. Gah!

In the end I did extensive consultations with the googorical, AND found a ready-mixed grout at the hardware shop. These two things gave me enough confidence to give grouting a go, and I FINALLY produced this…

For the record, the black bits on the background are actually a reflective silver. Very very pretty, and works very well with the subject matter. Just don’t photograph too accurately ūüė¶¬†I’ve since completed two more mosaics, and I still can’t get over the way they look so different, so finished and soooooooo much better with the grout done. It is magical. I love it!

It sat around for months, as I contemplated what on earth to do with it. We have enough heat trivets etc in the kitchen, which was the obvious use for it. We certainly didn’t need another one. In the end I’ve kinda settled on it being on the coffee table, for putting hot drinks etc on it. Works fantastically well. I DO have to seal it before any of said hot drinks spills accidentally and stains my lovely grout though!

Things I have learnt about mosaics from my first project (in no particular order):

  • Grout is like cake icing. Applying grout is like applying icing, it needs to be a similar consistency and it behaves in a similar way.
  • Tile glue powder behaves in a similar way to icing sugar too. A little bit of water goes a looooong way.
  • Finished mosaics are HEAVY O_O Definitely of the permanent fixture kind of creation, not the cart around and move on a whim kind.
  • Mosaics are a wonderful medium for exploring shape, colour, texture and the all-important design element of negative space.

Simplicity 3559: A dress for Happy Yess

2 Feb

I’m famous! Walking down the street to the July Happy Yess markets, someone stopped me and said “Are you Tropical Threads? You write the blog “Tropical Threads” don’t you?”

I burbled and babbled and gave a good impression of not being able to speak English. Of course, being famous I am used to people recognising me in the street,  I just nodded nonchalantly in my dreams.

Turns out I created a pingback when I linked to the Happy Yess blog from my own, and she had taken a look. Guess what? I totally didn’t even ask her name. How rude of me. Anyone would think I wasn’t at all used to being famous and being recognised just walking down the street! *waves to the lovely woman who said hello, whoever you are*

The day was a two-red-letter day, because not only did I discover I am famous, but I had just finished (an hour earlier!) the green paisley mod dress, and was of course wearing to the perfect dress-debut venue, the Happy Yess market.

Here is the Famous Dress. (I finally got the photos for it organised!) (Isn’t that fabric to die for gorgeous?! Mmmmm I love wearing it.)

A picture showing the full length

And here are a few random piccies from the Happy Yess market that day, just to show off how awesome my city is ūüôā

Meet Zoe, the Cute Factor Doggie

My friend's stall (seed jewellery and chain maille)

HALP!!! Which bracelet from my friend's stall goes best with my new dress?

My friend being bashful at having her photo taken

There were baby rabbits!

Gratuitous Happy Yess market shot




Opinions requested (again ;-P)

15 Nov

First of all, thankyou to everyone who gave me their opinion on whether to shorten my grey pinafore¬†or not.¬†I am pretty sure I will take the hem up, as was the general consensus. I confess, however, I am wearing it today still long, not having gotten round to the big chop yet. You see, I just wanted to wear it today. It is so comfy…

But I do intend to take it up ūüėÄ

And, so, what’s she up to now, you wonder? Getting sidetracked from schoolhouse tunic-inspired sewing by crocheting a huge doily, is what. Well, ok, it is a shawl inspired by a doily, apparently.¬†My friend over at¬†Studio Pyraxis¬†commented it looks like a butterfly wing. So true!¬†The pattern is from Caron International, clicking on the picture will take you there.


One of my dance dresses is the most boring black thing you’ve ever seen, but not long ago I realised I could dress it up to the nines for a tango Milonga with a scarf around the waist, suitable jewellery and hair ornaments. (A revolutionary idea, I know! But forgive my being so slow on the uptake. I find interesting garments¬†the most fun to sew, thus most numerous in my wardrobe.)

But what kind of scarf to dress it up with? I thought something like the above shawl in the classic latin red fine crochet cotton.

Off to Spotlight I went, and returned with cotton (a lot of cotton, to be precise) shaded like this … (Here crocheted into the first 6 rows of the huge doily pineapple shawl.)



While cutting out the schoolhouse tunic-inspired tunic dress (what a long phrase!) I realised the red of the fabric and the darker red of the cotton work beautifully together. Actually though, when I look at it in this photo, they look quite different, but I think that is due to the way the light coming off the different textures affected the camera. The reds are close enough that I suddenly envisioned my new tunic-dress with a wide band of crochet in this cotton along the hem. Preferably in a medallion-type, fairly geometrical pattern that echoes the fabric design. I’ll have more than enough cotton left over for it.But! but but but! do the two work well enough together? If you trust me on the darker red cotton matching the red in the fabric, the rest of the colours are fairly true to reality in this photo, though the fabric’s beige is a tad softer.

When I look at it, I see sadly that the light bits of the cotton are pink, and the light bits of the fabric are beige. Nonetheless, they certainly don’t clash. But I’d rather not put lots of effort into making a band specially for a dress only to find it doesn’t work. I suspect it would be more effective, and less like a random add-on if I also put a narrow edging of crochet around the neckline as well.

So…. what do you guys think?

Blue shoes of happiness

3 Nov

(to misquote Alexander McCall Smith)

I’ve finally made¬†the blue shoes I bought in Freo¬†¬†a consistent colour! These shoes weren’t both¬†quite the same colour when I bought them, because one had faded to a dirtier version of the original colour while on display. The proprietor of the shop would have ordered in a new, unaffected pair it was my second-to-last day in Freo and to freight them to Darwin was unreasonably expensive. So we worked out a discounted price we were both happy with.

I could have just worn them as they were, and I bet only I would have noticed. (Oh ok, probably all the friends I pointed the fading out to would also notice ;-P) but Ms Perfectionist wanted them looking the same.

I discovered upon returning to Darwin that blue shoe colourings come in navy or navy. And my almost-beautiful blue shoes are light blue. (The light blue ones in the middle.)

I tried a number of things, from renovating shoe polish in navy, to oil pastels, but sadly nothing carried the colour to the shoe evenly. Oh no!

But this afternoon I found the solution (I hope!). Years ago I used to make shaman drums, painting designs on the drum faces with  folk art acrylic paints. Given the wear and tear a drum face goes through, such as the striker hitting it repeatedly, the constant vibrations, and the myriad things done to it to keep it dry, and thus in tune in this humid climate (like drying over a fire, or with a hairdryer) the folk art acrylic paints proved surprisingly durable.

Also, recently, I touched up the green colour on my bowhunting hipbag with folk art acrylic paint. That paint, too, has stayed put with no flaking, after a bit of hard wear thrown at it on my recent hunting trips. So, I’ve tried the paint on my Blue Shoes of Happiness. I figure even if it only lasts a few months, I still have the paint to re-touch the shoes with. And the wet season is probably going to be its worst enemy, but hey, it is every shoe’s worst enemy, so nothing changed there.

The colour is “light periwinkle”, which I had left over from decoupaging my jewellery boxes, which, I just realised, I haven’t blogged about. How remiss of me!¬†I diluted the paint a bit so I could work it more easily around the stitching etc. And… they look fantastic! Mmmmm

As a bonus, I think I may have found the solution to my gold dancing shoes. They are a¬†delicate gold, so much nicer than most gold shoes out there and are handmade in Australia by a Brisbane shoe company whose name has long worn off the inside of the shoe. I love love love them. But they are looking a bit worse for wear. If my Blue Shoes of Happiness stay, well, happyness-inducing, I will investigate a suitable shade of metallic gold folk art paint for my gold dance shoes. After¬†no-new-purchases October, of course ūüôā

And last but not least, a big happy birthday to my brother, Simon, my cousin Bronwyn and in memory of my late Gran, who all share today as their birthday!

Decoupage casualty – refashioned trousers

1 Nov

They do say on the bottle of Shimmer-effect mod-podge I was using for decoupage, that once it is dry, it doesn’t wash out.¬†Silly me just figured if I got any on the fave pair of trousers I was wearing that day, I would just wash it off while wet.

Except… I didn’t see it till it was too late.

And then discovered what is strangely not mentioned on the bottle: if you spill it on clothing it dries to look like … not putting too fine a point on it, SNOT.

Good thing I like refashioning, right? They really are great trousers. And SNOT dried shimmer-effect mod-podge right over the right knee is just not a good look.

The trousers long before their encounter with Shimmer Effect Mod Podge.

I made the inside yoke of the trousers with some green/grey floral craft fabric left over from a long-ago pair of shorts. The colours work well with the soft khaki green and beigey green. I found some more of the same fabric left over in the back of mum’s quilting fabric drawer. YAY! It has quite clear flower motifs in amongst a vague leafy background. Perfect!

Deciding that one flower might look lovely but a whole lot of them would not only look awesome, but less like I was covering SNOT shimmer-effect mod-podge and more like I had designed it this way, I made 7 flower motifs. I’m pointing to the all-important SNOT shimmer-effect mod podge-covering flower, for the record.

(Just as an explanation, I HATE ironing, hence all the wrinkles :-P)

What I did:

  • ironed bondaweb (well, mum thinks that is the name of it) onto the back of the motifs
  • used my beloved stork-scissors with their narrow sharp point to cut the flowers out
  • played around with placement
  • ironed the motifs on, including the all-important one over the mishap on the right knee
  • hit my mum up for instructions on how to set my machine for¬†appliqu√©¬†as she does for her quilts
  • asked her for a quick rundown on how to do said¬†appliqu√©
  • appliqu√©d¬†the motifs on
This so totally restored my trousers as a useful member of my wardrobe, while making them slightly more casual, I have been wearing them probably more than I used to.
Including the other month when the tide was really really low, and I went out with some friends and people from work to look at the reef in Darwin harbour.

What happened to the wedding dress trial?

9 Jul

Well, I had the neckline all basted and ready to gather, and still – still wondering whether to ruffle or not to ruffle when…

It got cold. Freezing even. The temperature plummetted past the usual 17-18C dry season nights right down to 13C. One night it was even closer to 12C than 13C. *shudders*

I just can’t do it. I just can’t sew clothes I know I can’t start wearing immediately. I am an instant gratification kinda girl, and that voile is soooooo insubstantial, there was no way I’m putting that trial wedding dress on any time soon. In fact, even the thought of putting it on for a fitting was too shivery. (Ask me again in November and even that voile will be too thick ;-P)

So I put it aside. I put all my clothes sewing aside in favour of concentrating on my cardigan, for the same reason – the cold. But also, and I honestly thought I would never get to this point, I looked in my wardrobe and realised I have enough clothes.

After I picked myself up from where I had fallen on the floor in shock, I realised I have to do something about this. No, not a wardrobe purge to start again. I have enough GOOD clothes that I love.

I had a brainwave

I could¬†do something else. Maybe … more handcrafts! (no no, don’t quote me on that if the next post is dressmaking :-P)

Specifically, to expand on selling some. I know selling handcrafts is not the most lucrative activity, but if I make enough to cover the costs of the next project, that is pretty good. Good for my need to create, good for my bank balance, and much much nicer to think of the beautiful things I make being used and appreciated, rather than in the back of the cupboard forlornly gathering dust.

Here are some piccies of the stuff that went to the Happy Yess Markets. Things didn’t sell so well, but I am not surprised – it just isn’t that kind of gig. (but a great sense of community, and enjoyable, which is the main thing ūüôā

This is a rainbow fairy charm. When hung in the sun (from the long white ribbon so neatly wound here) it creates little chinks of rainbow lights. I love physics. It is pure magic!



Crochet flower phone charms.



And my absolute fave Рthis idea came from my need for a new library bag. Choice (the Australian Consumer Association) said in a cradle-grave analysis of environmental footprints, polypropylene bags (those sturdy ones you can get at every grocery store these days) come out in front of calico bags because cotton is so demanding on the environment Рespecially our Australian one.

So this knowledge + the need for a new library bag + an instantaneous love affair with these happy owl panels I found + this bag. I tried one out at the library the other day, and it is perfect, just perfect! Big, strong and sturdy, and sits comfortably over my shoulder even when laden with lead heavy books


2 wk creative challenge day 2: organisation

30 Jun

Organisation doesn’t sound that creative, does it? But I do feel better for it because I know what I need to do next.

The next Happy Yess market swings round this sunday. A good friend of mine (who seriously needs a website for her stuff so I can show it off to all my online friends) makes native seed jewellery and chain maille, and regularly does the Darwin market scene. She has given me a corner of her stall this sunday for my own stuff. YAY!

Wot stuff?


Some crocheted flowers will be made into hairclips, necklaces, phone charms etc (heh, see the dog behind me? ūüėÄ She isn’t part of the stall ;-P)

A coin purse crocheted from hand-dyed with vegetable dies yarn from Roumania.


And a hairpiece made from some stuff from the wonderful Dragonfly Fabrics

I have a few other things cooking, as well. Namely some Happy Owl bags and some prism charms to hang in the window creating splashes of rainbow lights all around. Should be fun!






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