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Summer loving

10 Feb

It’s been a busy few weeks in the land of ZoSews! Unfortunately not a huge amount of sewing has been done, but I do have a shiny new dress that I’ll share soon.

So far this year I’ve been back to work after Xmas, then on holidays again, and now back to work again!

In amongst that I completed Tough Mudder (22km obstacle race), spent a week at the beach (bliss!), went to the Australian Open, celebrated Australia Day, went the zoo, started French lessons, went to moonlight cinema for the first time, attended a wedding, started ballet and sewing for the year and finished a certain By Hand London dress on a crazy deadline. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know what I’m talking about!

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you guys what I’ve been up to and why I’ve been absent from blogland.

The beach

The weather has been fairly stunning here in Melbourne (sorry cold northern hemisphere folks!), which made for a brilliant week at Phillip Island with Mr ZoSews, his two mini people, plus Mr ZoSews’ sister and family.

Here’s a picture if the beach at the end of our street where we spent many an afternoon. The tide is waaay out, when it was in it came up to the pebbles. I attempted surfing here – which was a huge fail given that my body was still recovering from Tough Mudder at the time!


And more beach…


Pyramid Rock

Wineries, fishing, food, cocktails, barbeques and beach and backyard cricket also featured this holiday.

As did Tough Mudder. If you’re considering it, do it. It was so much fun!!! See…


Electro shock therapy


In and around Melbourne

As well as turning into a beach bum at Phillip Island, Ive been up and about in Melbourne.

At the tennis… We were treated to a brilliant early round five setter.


And at the Zoo…




And more…! Including visiting the local ‘beaches’ and *drum roll* hitting my one year blogiversary! Yay! Thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm and encouragement along the way 🙂

What have you all been up to? I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible while the weather’s good!!

Z xx


Shopping: I went

22 Jul

I hit The Fabric Store‘s sale this weekend and got me some fun new things to play with – I thought I’d share my haul with y’all.

1. Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood

This looks like it’s going to be a really quick make (yay!). And, could this packaging be any more fabulous?


I was a good girl and traced it off and washed my fabric yesterday. Like my fancy pattern weight?

I’m going to make the Undercover Hood in a delightful pink and grey striped Marc Jacobs knit, also from The Fabric Store. Here it is  drying on the line. And, drum roll, I’m not making a toile – yep, this is me, rebelling.


2. Green and white silk

I’m planning to use this as lining for a Sewaholic Minoru 🙂 Don’t hold your breath on that turning up though!

3. Black wool

And this is the planned outer fabric for the aforementioned Minoru – inspired by the black wool Minoru from Sew Brunswick!

4. Black and white silk

Last one, don’t know what this will end up as but I was attached so bought it anyway. Don’t judge – we’ve all been there 😉 Let me know if you have any ideas!

I think The Fabric Store is my favourite fabric retailer in Melbourne – great range, I always seem to find things I like there, and finally the staff are really helpful, and lovely! My mustard jacket was made with fabric from there too 🙂 (v8146 – nearly there and Presenting v8146)

What have you guys purchased lately?

Z xx

Crescent skirt – comes with free sunshine

30 Jun

I went to see the Australian Ballet’s production of Onegin today with my Grandmother (yes – it was great!). But before the ballet, I sneaked in some cheeky fabric shopping at the Clegs stocktake sale. Surprisingly, I walked away empty handed – completely empty handed, not even a notion in sight! But, to ensure I had enough time for my shopping, (priorities!!) I went in to the city early, and was greeted by a stunning Winter’s day. Check out how pretty the Arts Centre looked!

Melbourne in Winter - Arts Centre

On my travels, I was wearing my completed Crescent skirt in a lovely bright yellow from The Fabric Store – which added even more sunshine to my day! I love cracking out a bright piece in Winter, it makes me feel much more sunny and upbeat.

Here’s me in the sunny Crescent skirt with my pretty dancing friend:

Crescent skirt

I did freestyle from the instructions a little, and used an exposed zipper. That was my only diversion from the pattern though – amazing!

Crescent skirt with exposed zipper

When making this skirt, my overlocker (serger) was threaded with black thread – which, had I used it to finish these lovely yellow seams, would have looked heinous! I was too lazy to rethread the machine, so instead I bound my seams with yellow ribbon that I had lying around. Which on reflection, took much longer than rethreading the machine would have taken! Duh.

Crescent skirt - bound seams

And just for fun, here’s a picture of the stage curtain at the State Theatre – isn’t it beautiful! You can see the orchestra pit down the front too.

State Theatre curtain

So that’s my sunny skirt – it’s positively un-Melburnian, i.e. not black. Do you wear certain garments to pick you up? How do the colours you wear affect (effect?) your mood?

Winner winner chicken dinner!

20 May

At the start of the month I was lucky enough to be a winner of a lucky dip over at Kestrel Finds and Makes. And this week, my winner’s package arrived – all the way from Glasgow! Thanks Kestrel!

There was Simplicity 7780 with a range of shirts, from 1968, and Butterick 4225 with a lovely dress and jacket (can’t see a date on this one, but to my untrained eye it looks maybe 1970s). How exciting!

The dress in particular struck me, and made me think of the black and white bird fabric I’d seen over at Bimble and Pimble… may just have to get my butt down to Spotlight to pick some up – I think it would work! The neckline of this dress also reminds me of the new Colette patterns, Hazel and Lily.

Lucky dip patterns - kestrel finds and makes - simplicity 7780 butterick 4225

You may have read also that I was the winner of a brooch from JuliaBobbin / RueMiraldi. With all these prizes coming my way, I think I should be buying a lottery ticket! But anyway, here’s a picture of the brooch – isn’t it lovely!

Vintage brooch - Julia Bobbin

And finally, I spent the afternoon at Love Vintage yesterday with two lovely ladies from my sewing class. Where I picked up these patterns…

Love Vintage Melbourne patterns - simplicity 7239 style 1980 home journal pattern 11541

The blouse on the right is my favourite 🙂 It seems I did have a blonde moment when purchasing these unfortunately (nothing against blondes – I was one for many many years)… See the middle pattern, yep, the one with the lovely pussy bow blouse? Yep. Right. Well it’s actually a pattern for the skirts not the blouse. Doh! Not that I hate the skirts or anything, but I really did only buy it for the blouse! Dammit! I only realised when I got home…

I also got these magnificent Alexis Kirk earrings that I am completely in love with. Now I just need to find somewhere to wear them…

Alexis Kirk earrings

And I’m still chugging along with my Beignet… not long to go now, here’s a sneak peak…

Beignet sneak peakHow was your weekend? Did you get much sewing done?


Happy day of mothers!

13 May

It’s Mother’s Day! I am not a mother, so the day is not for me, but happy mother’s day to all the mummies out there! Hopefully your offspring have remembered to recognise you in some way, shape or form.

I may not be a mother, but I did however embrace the day by joining in this year’s Mother’s Day Classic for the first time with a group of folks from the office. I was convinced (peer pressured) into joining the 8km run rather than the 4km. We attempted some training, but the furthest we ever got was about 3.5km – there were lots of hills in that 3.5km though! So, anyway, I was skeptical as to whether I could in fact complete this so-called ‘run’ without ‘walking’. And there was also Melbourne’s charming weather to deal with, it was freezing, hang on, no it was sunny, hang on, no it was actually raining – oh what the heck, it was all of the above! Typical…

So what happened?

I RAN THE WHOLE THING! ALL 8 KILOMETRES! Needless to say, i was pretty darn happy with myself 🙂 My time was rather average, I think it was 61mins in total – but I don’t care, because I ran the whole thing! And, the only way is up right? And by ‘up’ I mean ‘down’ in time.

On the downside, I didn’t get any photos of me or the folks I did it with to share with you. But here’s a shot of the start of loooong queue to drop off your bag. (Doesn’t Melbourne look pretty..?)

MDC Melbourne bag drop

And here’s a shot of my medal/keyring/lanyard 🙂

MDC medal

So that’s my story. And the Mother’s Day Classic is actually a fundraising event, so if are inclined to sponsor me – yes, even retrospectively – please feel free. Funds go towards breast cancer research. Go on, it’s a good cause.

Apart from this, my weekend has been quite productive actually – amongst other, more boring things I’ve been working on my Beignet, made a delish pasta and self saucing chocolate pudding, and I have a pork belly marinating now… mmm pork belly. What have you been up to? Mothers – did you have a nice day?


A new winter wooly

27 Mar

In Melbourne, you can definitely tell that winter is rearing its ugly head – even though we’re only in the first month of Autumn! (I am one for summer – can you tell?)

But I guess one benefit of winter is that you get to pull out your cosy winter woolies.

And here’s my latest winter wooly addition. I love how cosy it is. Mother of ZoSews knitted it for me and I wore for the first time on the weekend.

Fair Isle Alpaca

It’s made out of Alpaca and it’s very warm. I wore it to my friend’s 30th birthday do, and I got so hot in it that I had to remove it and borrow some cooler clothes!

Fair Isle alpaca knit

This jumper came about because I decided after Christmas that I wanted to learn to knit, and this fair isle jumper was the pattern I selected to start with. Hahaha! I think mother of ZoSews took pity on me and my naivety and quickly offered to knit this for me while also suggesting that perhaps I start with something more simple. So I made a hat instead (photos to come).

And just to up the ante, I made mother of ZoSews knit with double threads because I didn’t want the pattern prescribed yarn for this jumper (it was yukky and synthetic) and the alpaca yarn was too fine to use as a single thread. Mwah ha ha ha!

Fair isle alpaca knitted jumper

Brrrrr it's cold!

I think it turned out just lovely. I will have to save it for particularly cold occasions though!

Do you knit? I started to because I thought it was a nice option for something to do when I don’t want to barricade myself away at a sewing machine to sew.

And speaking of sewing, here’s a glimpse of one of my WIPs…

v8146 seam binding

Z xx

My Floral Franken-dress

4 Mar

Soooo, my brother got married last weekend – pretty exciting, I know. I knew this day was coming for quite some time, so I decided to use the occasion as an excuse to make a fancy dress. And why not!


It all started with almost 5 metres of fabulous floral Balenciaga silk chiffon I picked up at a D’Italia sale – from $90 p/m down to $10 p/m! Score, I know! I was originally going to go with a yellow silk lining, but then opted to go with a smashing watermelon silk from Darn Cheap Fabrics as it made the colours on the fashion fabric really pop. The bodice fashion fabric pieces were all underlined with the watermelon silk (hand basted), and then the bodice was lined with a red satin silk, also from Darn Cheap Fabrics. There were also a couple of layers of heavy, boned, interfacing in the middle as a foundation.


I knew what I wanted as a final output, but it was a matter of finding it in pattern format! I spent hours trawling the Internet, but to no avail. So, a ‘franken-dress’ it would have to be. I ended up using the skirt from the now OOP v7521 and I based the bodice on the Cynthia Steffe v1174.


This one went ‘off the plan’ from quite early on, but here are the key changes made:

  • Added ruching to the the bodice – I traced off, slashed, and reconstructed pattern pieces for the outer upper and middle bodice to create the ruching across the bust.
  • Shaped lower front bodice pieces for a closer fit in the lower bodice area.
  • Used the outer bodice pattern pieces to create the foundation rather than the foundation pattern pieces.
  • Pinched out some of the volume in the skirt pattern.

More fun facts:

  • There’s a total of six, yes six, layers of fabric in bodice!
  • The skirt was constructed using french seams for a neater finish.
  • I hand beaded the ruched area of the bodice with bronze and yellow seed beads, and also three purple teardrop shaped pearls at centre front. Not only was this pretty 🙂 , but it was a great way to keep the ruching sitting how I liked it.
  • I had a belt made at Buttonmania out of the same fabric as the bodice lining – red satin silk.
  • Sizing of the bodice was generous – at least – I cut to my size and then went down by two at toile stage.
  • Ruched pattern pieces were cut out on the cross to allow for more flexibility and a better final look.
  • The invisible zip was attached the bodice at centre back, but only attached to the lining of the skirt. This way the fashion fabric was loose over the top, so small facings were created for the open section, and a clear plastic press stud added to close the fashion fabric and cover the lower part of the zip. It was done this way so that the zip was hidden and didn’t interfere with the fashion fabric’s drape.
  • Both layers of the skirt have rolled hems.
  • Extra pieces of boning were added to the bodice for more structure.

I’m not going to lie, this was a HUGE project, and by the time I’d finished it, I never wanted to look at the dress EVER again! However, on the day, I was so happy with the result, I think it was worth all the effort 🙂

This has definitely been my biggest sewing project – what’s been your biggest?

Z xx

An award?! For me?

28 Feb

The divine Seamstress: Poppykettle nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award! Awww shucks, thank you so much Ms. Poppykettle!

“What is a Liebster Blog Award?” you may ask. I’ll let you in on a secret – I asked the same question. (Hey, I’m new on the blogging block!)

Liebster Blog Award

And here’s the answer:

“The origins of the Liebster Blog Award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it means favourite or dearest to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.”

And it comes with the following ‘rules’:

1 – Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog. Check! Poppykettle thanked.
2 – Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. Check! Poppykettle linked.
3 – Copy/paste the blog award on your blog. Check! Award above.
4 – Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less). Check! List below.
5 – Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment. I’ll do this very soon (promise!).

Now to get to my Liebster Blog Award nominees.

And the nominees are:

  • Leith of SewBrunswick. We both live in Melbourne, we both started blogging in the same week – how could I not?!
  • Next is The Curious Kiwi. We both like maps, what more can I say. Of course, by ‘maps’, I mean ‘sewing maps’.
  • And the third nominee is, Cirque du bebe. She had me at “Tigerlily Maxi” and followed up with ‘Violet’s market debut‘. As discovered on Burdastyle.
  • Then there’s Kristiann over at the Victory Patterns blog. I was delighted to find another supplier of patterns – and very fabulous patterns (with a nice ethical tilt) at that!
  • And last but by no means least is The Nail Trail for more nail art than one could ever imagine!

Now, for a couple of these brilliant, blogging, well, bloggers – I couldn’t see how many followers you had, so my apologies if you have over 200 – no disrespect intended, just compliments 🙂 I ran a search on everyone’s blog and I didn’t get any results for Liebster, so my fingers are crossed. (And you have to forgive me cos I’m new anyway – it’s nearly my one month blogging anniversary!)

So there we have have it. Liebster Blog Award – done!

Now, on another note, look what turned up today – I could barely contain my excitement!


Today's postal surprise!

Now my post is done, I can get cracking on the new books!

Z xx

A sewer’s guide to Melbourne

15 Feb

I can get jealous of the vast available options for sewers overseas, especially in the US! There’s so much variety, and everything seems to be cheaper there too. ‘Down Under’ we can certainly purchase these bargains online, but the postage costs can be a killer. In fact, sometimes the postage costs more than the actual purchase!

Anyway, I find that half the fun of shopping for fabric and the like is the retail experience. I like to see the true colours, touch, rub, stretch, drape and play with fabric before I purchase it – it’s like the fabric and I are bonding!

Shopping in Melbourne

Shopping in a Melbourne laneway

Here in Melbourne, I have my tried and true favourite haunts, and every now and again I’ll come across a fabulous new ‘sewing resource’. It could be a new fabric store, or a perhaps a place that makes custom buttons and belts.

I want to share the local sewing wonderlands I know of and discover with other Melbournians (and visitors to this lovely city), so I’ve created what I’m calling the ‘Sewer’s Guide to Melbourne’. A map that shares all the local, fabulous sewing delights here in Melbourne.

You can view the guide on the My Sewing Resources page. The map is an ongoing work in progress that I plan to update whenever I find somewhere new.

Have a look and let me know what you think, and let me know of any other places I should add too! I hope you find the guide useful!

ZoSews’ top three from Tessuti’s Winter 2012 range (so far anyway)

6 Feb

So I check my email today, and what pops up? An email from Tessuti announcing their winter range has arrived! Gah! Barely able to contain myself, I jump straight on to the Tessuti online shop for a quick look.

There’s so many pretty things! But, unfortunately little miss ZoSews does not have an evergreen money tree, so purchasing must be constrained. With that in mind, I set about choosing some favourites for consideration.

So, here’s my top three from Tessuti’s new fabric range:

1. Cherry Peaks: Italian Designer 100% Wool Knit.

Div-ine! I love this Missoni look. (Is this in fact Missoni fabric? That is the question!) I’m thinking a wonderful zig zaggy maxi dress with this gem. Aren’t the warm, Autumnal colours lovely?

Cherry peaks fabric

2. Riverbed:  Italian Designer 78% Mohair 13% Wool 9% Nylon.

The colours just pop in this fabric. I’m imagining a fabulous coat, a swing coat…mmmm fabulous swing coat. There’s also a purple and black version of this fabric available – Lavender Forest.

Riverbed fabric

3. Last but not least, Black Night: Italian Designer  54% Alpaca 46% Wool Diagonal Twill Coating. Well I wouldn’t be a real Melbournian if I didn’t choose something black! I picture this as another fabulous, yet more classic or
serious coat.

Black Night fabric

So that’s it, my top three! Hopefully at least one of these makes it to my sewing room. (Did I say sewing room?  Darn wishful thinking – I meant kitchen
table! :o)

Have you looked at Tessuti’s new range? Which are your favourites?


P.S – Pattern suggestions for these divine fabrics are very welcome 🙂

P.P.S – For those who love sewing news, I just received an email saying Kwik Sew Patterns are now part of the The McCall Pattern Company.