Saturday, 29 September 2007


I have a thing about Scanlan&Theodore. I remember when (oh, here I go again) the company opened their first shop on Chapel Street, South Yarra. I think that I was about 14 ... so 1998? Heavens, almost 20 years ago. I remember the large square label with a wreath on it that was their original tag and am sad that I don't own anything from that early on.

I just loved Scanlan&Theodore, I was totally besotted with their design aesthetic and longed to be part of it. Every season I searched for something that I could afford; I certainly didn't buy as much as I tried on but a few things here and there - a long ago favourite pair of straight black trousers, a black stretchy knit dress that I still have, another black dress, a dark blue pinstripe shirt, some t-shirts, a scoop neck black top, a red woollen jumper.

My thing is mostly a nostalgic one - I hardly shopped there when we were living in Sydney and when we returned to Melbourne I found that their prices had taken a market shift, upwards. Recent purchases are a pair of cream linen trousers and this print cotton skirt - Sacred Heart Mission $7 and Hunter Gatherer $34 respectively.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

out-of-office memo

bollewangenhaptoet is on holiday in Sydney this week (and I left the camera at home - of all things). We will return to normal programming in a few days' time.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

josies is my local

My local op shop that is. Situated here in Balaclava, around the corner at 255 Carlisle Street, I believe that Josies (tel. 9527 2929; M-F 9:00-4:00) is Melbourne's only Jewish op shop. Just last week they had a wooden musical box with a picture of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall on it. Not sure what the tune was though.

Josies is a small op shop - clothing, some toys, books, shoes, some homewares, some linen, some bric-a-brac, no furniture. I can't honestly say that their stock is great but I do mostly find something whenever I go in. (How often is that? hmmm, weekly.) Some good buys have been: a copy of Hanging Out with Cici by Francine Pascal* which I read as a child and am storing for baby bear; a fine knit cabled men's woollen jumper for Tim from Saba; a black wool Valentino skirt made in France and of excellent quality with a tiny waist that will be refashioned; and best of all, the boob trumpet, ah, that is, the breast pump. This device has been a life saver and cost me only $8 (they retail for around $90) - it does actually count as a best find ever. Kudos to my neighbour who spotted it in the window and alerted me.

So Josies is certainly worth a look - all that they are missing is an apostrophe.

* Yikes, I just learned that Francine Pascal was the author of all those Sweet Valley High books, which I didn't read. Cici will never be the same.

This entry is cross-posted at I op therefore I am, the op shopping blog for Melbourne - please visit!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

black velvet

"Black velvet with that slow southern style/ A new religion that'll bring ya to your knees/ Black velvet if you please"

Heavens, what is it about some (awful) songs that just stays with you for ever? Alannah Myles, 1989, apparently about Elvis. Anyway, moving back along to a decade earlier and again showing the influence of growing up in the 1970s - I love printed velvet.

The fabric above is from skirts that I have bought at the op shop with the intention of adjusting them to fit me. The skirt on the left consists of four tiers - I have removed the top tier which was plain black velvet because the waist was way too small. I already have a new tier cut out from some black cotton velveteen, the skirt just needs to be sewn back together. Somehow this seems like such a huge job though - I need to break it down into very small activity chunks. I don't plan to put in a zip but to crochet a strip of braid with button loops from black cotton and sew that along the side opening, then on the other side some maroon, vaguely heart-shaped buttons. Again, this is a ploy to avoid facing up to buttonholes or zips. I love the floral tier and the cross-stitch effect frieze on the bottom tier.

The skirt on the right is just the one piece of fabric, about a third longer than shown here. Originally the skirt was quite full and unattractively gathered at the waist (which didn't fit me anyway). So, off with the waist band and perhaps some darts will do the trick on this one.

On both of them I just intend to face the waist with a length of black grosgrain ribbon instead of a brand new waist band. The only thing about removing the waistband is that you often also remove the label which is one of the fun things about second-hand shopping (well, at least for me). When you second-hand shop a lot (and I do) you come across now defunct fashion labels time and again. And I love the design of them, and the daggy names, and the concept of leisurewear. This is the tag from the skirt on the left. When I finally get around to sewing it up I'm going to sew the tag back in, for old times' sake.

Thursday, 13 September 2007


I love the texture of crochet - it's heavier and denser than knitting. This is the finished bib over on the right, well, almost finished. I haven't manged to deal with the ends yet because I'm already a few rows into the next one. Crochet (particularly of small items) is very portable and I was able to do it standing in the train this morning. (I even did manage to catch the 7:40am - heavens.) Although difficult to discern there is a buttonhole there at the end of one of the straps and I will be sewing on a wooden button which I think will match nicely with the natural look of the cotton.

As mentioned before, the cotton is recycled from a jumper. Unravelling a commercially made garment is a fascinating process, it's very interesting to see how it has been constructed and where all of the ends are hidden and there is a destructive relish involved similar to that involved in pruning roses - it's all for a greater good. I have previously recommended Neauveau Fiber Arts' tutorial on unravelling a jumper but I do have a quick something to add on the topic of good seams.

A good seam has two sides, one that resembles running stitch and one that looks like a row of Vs - actually, it's a row of interlocking loops. To most efficiently undo the seam you want to orient the garment as shown in the photo, best begin with the V closest to the end of the seam, be it a hem or the juncture with another seam. Cut through both legs of the V with some fine sharp scissors or a quick-unpick but don't pull at the threads yet; instead, lift the stitch below up a bit such that it becomes free of the V that you have just cut, at the same time taking care not to let any of the cut threads pull through to the back of the fabric. Once the cut legs of the V are free of the stitch below, you should be able to pull at them and the seam will unravel all the way to the end (or to wherever it snags, but you get the picture, yes?).

Purchasing clothing at the op shop with an eye to recycling them, either for yarn or fabric, has become a new way of shopping. I now look for colour and texture and print, I look through the plus-sizes rack because really, if you're going to spend $4 on a jumper to recycle you may as well get as much yarn as you can! This pretty blue and white floral fabric is previously featured amongst my best intentions and is a Blazer men's shirt, 100% cotton. The size is XL so there is heaps of fabric there to make a summer dress and perhaps something else for baby bear. I'm thinking a pintucked sundress that utilises the existing button placket as the fastening in the back as this is a lazy way to get professional button holes (and to avoid learning to do them myself). Or maybe another smock - the pattern arrived in the post from the US a couple of days ago - love ebay!

I realise that all of my intended refashioning projects so far have been for children's clothes - yes, there is some lovely printed 1970s velvet in there that is destined for me. I'll post about that next.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

locally - lulu

One sunny day, a couple of months ago, we bid at auction on an apartment in East St Kilda. Thank goodness it went for way more than we were prepared to pay and I could afford to buy a pair of Sissy Boy jeans at lulu on the way home instead (322a Carlisle Street, Balaclava; tel. 9525 8844; T-F 10:30-6:00, S 10:30-5:00, S-M 11:00-5:00). It's a great store for homewares, baby goods, accessories and more recently (umm, last couple of years?) clothing. Their stock includes Third Draw Down, Mozi, Blink Designs and iittala, and on the fashion front Penelope Durston, Indigo and Sissy Boy amongst others. A word to the wary - do not google Sissy Boy, just click on the link, unless you are looking for a men's XL sailor suit. This is a Dutch jeanswear label and I put the strange choice of name down to an unfortunate case of lost in translation (otherwise - what were they thinking?)

The baby ballerina top is coming along slowly - I've made it to the collar increases on the right front and dug out a circular 3.25mm needle so that I could work more easily on it while sitting on the train (saves elbowing fellow passengers with every stitch). Problem is that I have so far not managed to sit down on the train. Tomorrow we are going to try out a new arrangement - I'm going in to work early and Tim will take baby bear to childcare so I'll see how I fare on the 7:40am. Hmm, maybe the 7:50am. Do you think that the 8:00am would be crowded?

I have also been distracted by a lovely garter stitch bib that was worn recently by Baby C and knitted by his lovely mother over at Clementine's Shoes. Garter stitch drives me up the wall so I crocheted one instead, using left over baby bobble jacket recycled cotton and half-trebles. Crochet is great - so quick. Just the ends to deal with and we'll be ready for more adventures in independent spooning (baby bear's newest trick).

Sunday, 9 September 2007


Today baby bear turned one. Happy birthday sweetiepie - hip hip hooray!

Ladybirds are one of my favourite things and I love the word in Dutch:

lieve = dear
heers = God's
beestje = little creature

lieveheersbeestje = dear God's little creature

What better leitmotif for a dear little girl's life? (Umm, yes, that is a container of Betty Crocker's ready-made icing in the background which I guess just makes me a ready-made domestic goddess.)

Thursday, 6 September 2007

mccall's 3470

The universe and I would appear to be in harmony today - that is, I got my own way. After being disappointed that the only square neck smock patterns available on ebay were in sizes 3 and 5 when I really wanted a size 2, I did a search by the pattern title and found it as part of a lot of vintage patterns - in size 2! It's all paid for and could well be winging it's way to me from Missouri at this very moment - hooray. This will of course become the strawberry fields smock.

It is risky though to discover new things that you can search for and find on ebay. Sewing patterns, vintage sewing patterns - it hadn't occurred to me before. I bought another one too - McCall's 2403 which is an unlined child's coat. I will certainly not be making it in polar fleece which I am allergic to (albeit aesthetically allergic). This is the pattern that I plan to use to make a child's coat from the Romeo Gigli fabric that I bought a couple of weeks ago. The pattern and postage (from the US) is only US$5.98 which comes to less than the $10.95 (I think) that it would have cost me here. I'm delighted to have found these two great patterns that I wanted.

In other harmonious knitting news, I have completed the back and both fronts of the baby ballerina top, although I still haven't made it to Coles to weigh how much yarn I have left. I have started on the neck band and collar - perhaps I will finish this and then weigh the yarn in an effort to determine whether long sleeves would really be pushing the cosmic relationship.

Monday, 3 September 2007

strawberry fields

I'm not sure that there are actually any strawberries on this fabric, but that is what it makes me think of. I wonder where the it came from originally? I bought it at the Salvation Army op shop in Elsternwick in the form of a home-made wrap skirt. I'd be tempted to keep the skirt intact and wear it myself except it's not my size and doesn't wrap quite enough to protect my modesty. So, I'm thinking about cutting it up to make a smock for baby bear.

No-one else seems to be thinking about smocks though – I’ve had a look through a few pattern books and on websites and can’t find anything suitable. There are a few vintage patterns available on ebay, most of them from the 1970s - oh dear, can you tell which decade I grew up in? The issue is about choosing a square yoke or a rounded yoke. I had envisioned a square yoke but the older patterns appear to come in single sizes and the square-yoked smock pattern is larger than I had in mind. I have size 2 in mind.

Sunday, 2 September 2007


For a couple of years there I was a member of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Lace Guild. Yes, there is such a thing! My interest in lace was sparked by my discovery of Irish crochet lace and quickly grew from there.

The fabric on the left is embroidered so as to remind me of reticella, an Italian needle-made lace dating from the 15th century. Reticella has "
a characteristic geometric design of squares and circles with various arched or scalloped borders" (thank you Wikipedia). I have lots of books about lace including designs for reticella just like this - the white on black makes for a striking graphic in itself.

The fabric itself is a miniskirt from
Fragile, a maternity and baby store for the, um, very well heeled. Yes, a maternity miniskirt (?!). I picked it up at Camberwell market a couple of weeks ago, not because I have any use for it myself, but because the fabric caught my eye. I'm thinking of a skirt for a slightly older baby bear, box pleated with the waist elasticised at the back.

best intentions

So what is it about motherhood that sparks your creativity? I suppose that children's garments are a smaller project than one for an adult so less intimidating. There is perhaps a bit more leeway with fit and not so much demand for tailoring. Also, if you're the sort of person who likes to express their love by making and giving then there is no more deserving recipient than your own little darling. And it is lovely and rewarding to see your baby clothed in something that you have made for her.

I have always wanted to have a practice, as in the sense of an artistic practice although I don't mean that I want to be an artist. Certainly I have tried my hand at a few things - drawing, painting, printmaking - and have all of the materials to attest to it! I mean a practice in the sense of an occupation, a creative practice at the least, perhaps even a textile practice. And I feel like I am developing that now. Maternity leave was enough of a break from work, a free space in the business part of my brain that I could really get thinking about making.

Then there's also the urge to make and get something done, to complete something, to actually get something finished in the face of the relentless domestic churn that child raising involves. Sometimes motherhood feels like a chronic condition.

I mentioned a week or so ago that I had been doing quite some opshopping, much of it with projects in mind, be it a complete remake or just some alterations. And I also thought it time to expand and get honest about the 'planning stage' section over there in the sidebar. There are some who blog about their piles but this always makes me think of something for which you might need a cream. So above I present you with an array of (semi-)recent purchases, all of which I have plans for.
My first plan is to declare them all over the next week or so, in the belief that this will compel me to take action.