Thursday, June 20, 2024

On Starry Nights and Washi Tape

Washi Tape was a contentious issue in the shop days. Penny suggested we get some in, and I did. Felix came as close to pitching a fit as I've ever seen him, over it. These are two adults I adore and who flat together. But oooh blimey, they have different attitudes to washi tape.

Felix's position was that it wasn't a proper craft supply. I agreed. But, its beautiful, coloured, matchy rolls in a set was so intoxicating to the stationery lover in me! So, I decided to make something crafty out of it, as much to prove a point to Felix.

I decided to make a lampshade with a delicious set of Starry Night, Van Gogh washi tape. Even though it is sticky, I didn't trust it to be strong enough to hold a shade together, and making the rings sticky (as you do) held them onto the styrene.

Building those rows, one at a time. Ever so carefully not leaving even a sliver of white between the strips.

All filled up now, the ends roughly trimmed and tucked in.

I gently tucked the tape around the rings, nice and tidy!

And finally, here we are. It's silly, but I like it. I think it's still in the shop. Felix hated it! heehee!

 It's been at least two years since I made a lampshade and I miss it. Once, fabrics were divided into ones that would make a good lampshade, and the rest! 

I still have a few lampshades in me. I'll get there...

Saturday, June 8, 2024

A couple of Linen Makes from Stash

 People I have four cupboards of fabric. I am not proud of this triumph of dopamining over common sense.

At least they are well organised, with 95% of them on a card, all lined up on shelves like books so I can quickly spot what I have.

Anyway between Christmas and New Year, I always make a few garments. I love being able to just focus on sewing! It's heaven! And this past summer (Southern Hemisphere remember!) was no different.

Many moons ago I fell hard for this linen at M Rosenberg and Sons in London, online. It's so mad! I bought it for Constance, but when it arrived it was so loosely woven and drapy, I couldn't use it. That means I get it! The dress I based loosely on one I bought, with some adjustments.

I mean, what's not to love about this fabric? It is a gingham but printed, and it swirls and gathers up ni the print like a disrupted table cloth, which is I think the point. Everything from baked goods, lobsters and playing cards are depicted.

It is a little see through and I bought some white linen to make an undershift for it, but I've just been wearing it as is in the heat of summer. It has washed and worn really well. I frenched and flat fell the seams to manage the loose weave. A keeper.

The other dress I mostly made in summer but only finished it in April in time to wear it to Emcee a wedding. I bought the deep grape purple linen on sale, and paired it with a Kaffe Fassett printed cotton from my stash. I felt it needed this little pop of colour. I love this style a lot - it's the Hanbok Dress, but with several changes including a horizontal bust dart to ensure the waist stays level. 

Please excuse the derpy photos, this one being in the Wharepaku (loos) which at least had the big mirror needed for full length selfies. Worn here over a burgundy top as it's a bit parky here.

I adore linen!!! It's cool and comfortable and ages so gracefully. I hope I am ageing gracefully, albeit being rarely cool, or comfortable.

Under my cutting table is a box of fabrics that I have concrete ideas for, and these came out of it. In it is still two lengths of plain linen, one a glorious lipstick red, and the other a beautiful fuchsia pink. I know what I like! I hope very much to be making them up over next Christmas break, if not before.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

A tale of two hats

Hat #1 Ruched Bonnet

 I thought I'd show a bit more of Natalie's, and my, favourite bonnet from Pride and Prejudice

It was inspired by everybody's favourite from S&S:

There's something so happy making about this bonnet!

 I was keeping brims back off the face, so the shape is ideal. But, a total dearth of straw hats! I found one only. And a sort of straw and fabric example, that had it had a straw brim and a cloth "crown," I could have worked with. But it was the other way around. And so, I decided to cover it.

I love this extant bonnet from the MET, albeit 30 years later, but I could still imagine such a bonnet with a shallower brim & plain trim. Because the type of bonnet your average Bennett type sister would be wearing was surprisingly simple.

American bonnet 1840 MET

Side angle. It had to be an odd number of bands to look right and I couldn't face 5!
Back angle, deciding what to do to cover the place where all the ruching came together took some fiddling. In the end I felt that this twiddle of gimp did the trick

This angle shows the straw crown I could not work out how to incorporate. I machine sewed the pleated lining to the brim edge facing outwards, then folded it back in and hand attached it deeper inside. The machine sewing disappeared under trim on both inside and outside.

The simplicity of this bonnet belies the amount of time it took to make it but I enjoyed it very much! 

0.5m striped Linen from Voldermart: $16

Hat from some random bigbox store, $8.

Gimp and silk lining both scraps from my stash. 

Time: about 6 hours.

Hat #2

Total pivot now to the annual Polish Christmas Market, which is a street fair in November, when it's pretty warm here in NZ! I had been told I could amp up my costuming from the year before, so I put my thinking cap on. What had I not done before? I know, a Nutcracker!'

Two nutcrackers that inspired me, with their tophat like hats, knobby tops and gold feather.

I have a saucy, silly ringmaster costume to deliver military chic, candy cane tights, and I swapped the bolero from my ringmaster for a plainer and more covering cotton one, for heat management and family friendliness. All Ihad to do was add some bling to the jacket and tophat.

To make the knob, I used a small polystyrene ball, a slice of toilet roll and some card from a box. 

 To make it gold, I covered it in the inner gold wrap from some Whittakers chocolate. I've now started saving this paper as it is so useful! The result looked very much like a GI stud, as used in leatherwork.
The top hat got a red felt and gold motif I had lying around feather and a band of both gold and red. The gold seemed too plain by itself and the red was too narrow by itself, so we got both! I tried magnetising the knob to no avail, in the end a very few stitches held it on. This is a real top hat and they do not respond well to being sewn!
The final look. Gold on jacket sleeves, epaulettes, and this very silly costume combo!

To be fair everybody loved it, but the general consensus was I was riffing on some sort of Polish traditional costume! So funny.

No nuts were harmed in the making, or wearing, of this costume.

So this year, I have already found a gorgeous green cotton off the shoulder dress that is begging to become a Christmas tree inspired look. More on that in 6 months!

So, what do you make of my madcap adventures in millinery??

Monday, May 20, 2024

Up to my old costuming tricks!!

 People, my new costuming tricks are all about dressing my alter ego. But my old ones were costuming for theatre shows. 

So, recently I've done a tiny bit of costuming. Basically I am a sort of shadowy resource who has tried, and sadly failed, to remain anonymous at a local community theatre. 

My contributions are generally millinery, but a couple times I've busted out something more. Here's a breakdown:

Pride and Prejudice:

This is how it all began. I got wind of a production and offered to insert headgear, as it always gets overlooked but I think it is more important than dresses for setting the scene and tone. (grr, looking at you, Bridgerton)

All of these hats are made from a range of cheap hat types - bowling fedoras, bowlers, molded plastic "top hats" you name it. I now keep a supply on hand just in case. They are useful as they have the crown to brim join already made.

Full bonnets are no good in the Gryphon theatre which has steep lighting lines so they'd cast shadows on faces. So these are all back of head types.

Lady Catherine de Burgh's extravagant tall hat. She was wearing purple and orange so I figured, get in there and lean in on the crazy! It won an award for the best showstopper of the year!

A wee ruched velvet hat, and a shallow bonnet. That was the only straw hat I could find, hence the other solutions I found to the hat making process.

I think this is my favourite. No idea what I based it on! It has a lovely pleated lining though.

Another ruched hat with turban vibes and ostrich feathers.

A little cutie based on a very cheap white top hat. Silk taffeta with organza and fake flowers. It also has a gorgeous pleated lining.


Set in the Channel Islands during WW2 occupation, Gabriel the play needed a period credible brassiere. Trouble is, the wearer would have worn a binder style bra, not the dainty peach and lace ones we love to think of, so I decided stuff it, and built a pretty one on top of a modern skin tone bra.

For the 4 seconds it is on display, I think it would have gotten the idea across. Lightweight silk I overdyed with food colouring as it was a bit wishy washy, and chantilly lace from my stash also dyed with food gels.


Persuasion just closed after a sell out season. A mammoth effort that was costumed from scratch. I was asked to make a bicorne,and  also ended up making a second, not shown.

This is made from a black $12 sombrero - I reduced the crown down, steamed it into shape, covered it in felt using Steamaseam, bound it with black bias then glued on authentic metallic trims. The metallic trim is too heavy for a machine and I knew the stitches would be super obvious from the back row. And no way was I sewing this on through all that nasty synthetic.

So, it turns out my lovely friend Janet was also cast in it and so I undertook to make her overcostume too. She doubled as Lady Russell and Mrs Musgrove. The show wasn't trying to be super authentic, but it definitely captured the vibe, I feel. Sadly my pleas to incorporate shawls and bonnets weren't taken up due to the seamless style of it all, no time for transitions - but I DID get headwear onto my friend.

The only thing I made in this image is the cap Janet is wearing (second from right) but don't you love the puppets for the annoying Musgrove Children! The rest were made by a local lady who is incredibly clever, and had a month to do nothing else. The things people do for community theatre...Anyway cap made from self stripe silk organza and a couple of other laces. The Dreamstress donated some lacy offcuts for this, thank you as always!

Funny, Janet is in the same position in this pic as the last, but this time as Lady Russell. I made her red overdress and turban. The fabrics are velvet and a heavy Indian cotton with metallic crewel embroidery. Everything Janet wore has come back to me and that dress is going to become a jacket at some stage!

And that's my foray into theatre costuming! I did assist with another professional production but I'm not spilling the beans on that one!

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Out and About

WELL, it's been a while! As usual, I'm busy, and also get a bit cringe about talking about my life.

 Here's a pic of the cast of a show I did at Shantytown, a tourist attraction just outside of Greymouth in the South Island on April 13.

A quick wrap up since last April: I have a new job - I'm now a consultant on salary instead of a gun for hire. It's really different and I like the continuity and having a team behind me. Last year I worked for a business in the South Island and got to travel down there every few weeks which was really good fun. A welcome break from govt work. Anyone following kiwi politics will understand this, nuff said.

Constance is still busy - no overseas travel since 2022, and none until 2025, when I'll be heading back to Canadia, with husband this time as he deserves a break. April was a show out of town every weekend and it was too much, but sometimes I just need to do the shows that I need to do, and they clump together like this.

My love of quizzes has persisted - Hans and I hosted a fundraiser with performances in November last year, I've still done the odd music round, and now I am writing one!

 I've done a fair bit of sewing, and not posted any of it. I'll try to redress this as I've made some really fun and gorgeous things!

That's it really. No minutae of life, that requires remembering to post more often. 

I'll try to do better! xo

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Quiz Mastering and liking blogs

 On Thursday last, I Quiz mastered the music quiz at the Southern Cross for the first time!

Hans on acoustic round, me on the rest!
I did the acoustic round 11 times since April 22, which is a fair few, and because our beloved quiz master Vorn wasn't able to attend, nor his usual back-up, I volunteered.

SUCH FUN. It was a lot of work doing the research and assembling play lists, but as this whole quiz is about listening to songs and answering things like artist and title, as well as in one case, which movie the song was played over the credits of, it's fairly straight forward. 

So now I want to be a quizmaster somewhere every week. It's lots of fun, and I can do it with a 20 minute hair and face makeover instead of a two hour one!

Of course in spite of this it was not plain sailing -  I had bought all of the songs off a website and all was well until an 80s hit came up and it was so quiet we could hardly hear it. Realising this was going to be an ongoing issue, Hans quickly assembled the playlists in Spotify on his iPhone and played them off there. OMG WHAT. Thank goodness for having a millenial by my side

Lots else has been happening too, of course. I'm giving up lone contracting and joining a consultancy company with handover mid May, I've taken up aqua jogging, and I'm still sorting out how I want to focus my spare time, while squandering it on games on my phone.

I'm finishing with a thanks to those who still blog, and read blogs. I'm not an instagram kind of gal, I like a good chewy read. I subscribe to a few newsletters that are basically blog posts that get dropped into our email aren't they? And Youtube, with its longer form chatty videos. But I really like blogs.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Free time!

 Well, I am no longer a person who owns a shop. On 1 January it became Wendy's baby and no longer ours.

It's pretty idyllic really - I love it still and love our team, and I am still welcome and will be teaching hopefully, later in the year. 

BUT, I have my Saturdays back!!!! Hallelujah!!! We went to Martinborough this past weekend with friends and didn't have to worry about what we were leaving behind. Amazing.

While we were there we went to see Graham and Sons Upholstery about our sofa. It is in good nick, except the cushions which are borked. As replacing it with like is a $6k investment, we are looking at just having the cushions done and these are the two stand out options, either side of the original.

I am a big fan of mixing up patterns and having a stripy frame and patterned seat cushions is fine with me. Which one do you like best?