Archive for the month “February, 2012”

I Dream of Vintage

Having been inspired lately by Twinkle Sparkle Shine to hunt for some vintage sewing patterns on ebay I thought I’d share a few of the gems I’ve found. My criteria for purchasing is pretty simple – old, cute and affordable (I’ve promised myself not to spend more than $25).

1959 McCalls pattern

I love this style of dress – it reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. I plan to make this for myself (one day!).

Vogue pattern - not sure what year - 60s perhaps?

Love this very stylish Vogue pattern – cute hat too.

1960s swimsuit and sundress

I loved this set as soon as I saw it and I’m thinking that I could end my ethical clothing challenge by making these bathers next summer.

1970s McCalls dress

This 70s dress could so easily be worn today and it’s a style that suits me (and most body shapes) which is why I grabbed this pattern too. One day you may see some in the Ragged Blossom shop!

1983 summer dress & top

Another style I love – it reminds me of the wrap dresses I used to wear when I lived in Darwin.

1968 'Jackie Onassis' Dress

How beautiful is this pattern?? I call it the Jackie Onassis dress because it instantly reminded me of my niece. In 2001 the women in my family were travelling togther in Italy and my niece wore an almost identical dress to this. Some backpackers we met thought she looked just like Jackie O and she wore her wee sunglasses with the outfit.

Aiya and Susanne in Italy


Isn’t she just beautiful? She’s just about to turn 13 and I feel so old!

Last one… this will definitely be making an appearance in the Ragged Blossom 2012/2013 Summer Collection.

1976 wrap dress & top

As much as I love all these patterns it’s just not the same as hunting through op shops in the hope of finding something special, so that will be the last of them for a while. Also my husband has been checking the mailbox before me lately and has just clicked onto what I’ve been up to! In my defense, I think he should be happy that I’m not into expensive antiques!!


Homegrown & Homemade Tomato Chutney

We’ve had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year – they are so amazingly sweet and delicious!

Once again I cannot claim to be the maker of this recipe (my husband does all the jams, chutneys, sauces etc) but I’m very gratefully the taster.

Ingredients: (Calum used 1/2 portions)

  • 2kg tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 500g onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 3 tps mustard powder
  • 3 tps curry powder
  • 500g sugar
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar (extra)

1. Place tomatoes, onions, apples, garlic, salt, mustard powder, curry powder, sugar and the vinegar in a large saucepan. (Your house will smell like vinegar for a couple of hours, but it’s worth it!)

2. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and continue to boil for 1.5 hrs.

3. Mix cornflour to a paste with extra vinegar, add to tomato mixture and stir until thickened.

4. Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately. Eat at once or store in a cold, dry and dark place for up to 1 year.

Makes approx 2kg.

So yummy on sandwiches…enjoy!

Upcycled Shirt Dresses

I’ve had a busy weekend preparing for the last of my summer markets and this is what I’ve been working on – upcycled shirt dresses!

The pattern is a modification of Simplicity 5695 – I’ve made it even simpler by dropping the ruffles and having ‘angel sleeves’ instead of elasticated ones. For anyone just beginning to sew or wanting to learn this pattern is a great one to start with.

This first dress is one I did a little while ago with one ruffle. The green fabric was bought new and the main floral part of the dress was upcycled from my friend’s husband’s grandmothers dress (very vintage!).

This next dress is the even simpler version with no ruffle. It has been made by upcycling a ladies shirt (you can see the original buttons) and the sleeve fabric was bought new. I loved this shirt as soon as I saw it – it was too small for me but I think it makes a beautiful summer frock.

This red one is another shirt dress…I was just thinking it would make a lovely Christmas dress. The good thing about this pattern is you can get a lot of wear out of them. Wear them all year with layers underneath in winter and use them as a top as your little girl gets bigger.

But I didn’t forget the boys! This shirt was also upcycled, from a mens shirt. It saves a bit of work with hems and buttons, a lot quicker than making it from scratch.

And here are some funky pants too. I’ll be making a girls and boys range of these pants for the upcoming Autumn/Winter Collection. These are made from corduroy with upcycled mens ties as pockets. I’m hoping to start sourcing all fabric second hand or sustainable, however the cordoroy here was purchased from Spotlight.

Examples of all my kids clothes can be viewed and purchased here – I hope this inspires creative sewing and if so, please share!

I love seeing all the ingenious things crafters come up with…

Affluenza – the disease of Modern Australia.

Last week I had a rare opportunity to have some kid-free, husband-free time with my friend Claire. I went round to her place in the evening and we ended up chatting until 12.30am (a rare late night for both of us!). Claire is very knowledgeable on all matters environmental and economic and I’m hoping to learn a lot from her. She lent me a book called Affluenza – When too much is never enough by Clive Hamilton and Richard Deniss. I’m only a few pages in so far but it really rings true for me. We are so much better off than we were 50 yrs ago yet still we want more and more – but are we any happier? It was written in 2005 before the GFC however I believe the arguments still apply. Interestingly the authors note that in the 60s & 70s it was predicted that ‘our technological progress would allow for us to work only a few hours a week and our main problem would be how best to enjoy our leisure’.

Anyway I’m getting sidetracked, here is an update on my ethical clothing challenge: I have already aquired a few new items of clothing and coincidently each in a different way. But now I’m thinking – did I really need more clothes??

1. Didriksons 1913 Fleece – valued at $139. Cost for me: free

My husband picked this up from the lost and found box at his work (a Golf Course) and it’s not something I ever would have bought but it’s really lovely and soft and warm. It’ll be great when the Melbourne winter kicks in.

2. Hot Options Women’s top. Value – probably around $20. Cost for me: $5.99

I bought this top from Savers op shop with the intention of wearing it to a job interview I hope to have next month. I really love the colour and the subtle pin stripes.

3. Valleygirl Green Spotty Dress. Value – no idea, never shopped there. Cost for me: free

A friend was having a wardrobe clear out and was kind enough to pass on some things to me. I really liked this dress and I’m hoping to find and orange belt or sash to go around the waist. At the moment I’ve just tied a vintage paisely tie. I’m hoping to wear it to my new job should the interview next month be successful!

4. Maggie’s Uranium protest t-shirt. Value – I love it so it has a high value to me! Cost for me: $9.00

My husband found an adults shirt with this logo in the op shop one day and we were deciding what to do with it. It was going to form part of my patchwork blanket that needs mending but he decided it would be great for our 21mth old daughter. So we went back to the op shop and bought a matching red t-shirt. Then it was a simple matter of overlocking around the edge, ironing onto the new t-shirt and double stitching round the edge. Now she’s all ready for the festival circuit!


It’s about time I had a wardrobe clear out too so I’m heading to the Frankston Library Clothes Swap next week!

Dairy & Wheat Free Rolled Oat Bars

This recipe is a staple in our house and my 20mth old daughter is always asking for ‘slice, slice!’. It’s very easy and very quick and a great snack for lunchboxes.


  • 1 and 1/3 cups gluten free self raising flour (I use Orgran)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 200g Nuttlex
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs golden syrup

1. Combine flour, oats and sugar in a bowl.

2. Melt Nuttlex in a small pot and then add the golden syrup.

3. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and press into a slice tray (mine measures 33cm x 23cm).

4. Bake at 160 degrees for 15-20mins or until brown.

5. Cut into bars while still hot. Leave to cool before removing from the tray. Makes 24 bars.

Cut into bars while still warm

This recipe is kept quite plain as my daughter is on a failsafe diet, however you can add all sorts of goodies into it. For my husband I add 1 cup of coconut. You could also add dried fruit, chocolate chips or anything else you fancy. You may need to add more Nuttlex if you’re adding more dry ingredients. And if you’re not worried about dairy it’s even better with butter.

Happy eating!!

A small note about oats and gluten: oats do contain gluten but a different type to that found in wheat. See more info here or seek advice from a medical professional.

Update: We have since moved on from the Failsafe diet in this house, my new cookbook bible is by Jude Blereau Wholefood For Children. I love her philosophy and now rarely make anything that’s not in her book. However, this morning I need to make a slice in a hurry, so i came back to this recipe but replaced these ingredients:

  • Gluten free self raising flour was replaced by spelt flour with baking powder added (2 tsp for every cup of flour)
  • Nuttlex was replaced with organic butter
  • Sugar replaced with rapadura sugar
  • Golden syrup replaced with real organic maple syrup

The mixture was a little too moist (something to do with replacing the Nuttlex with the butter I think) so I also added a cup of dessicated coconut. Next time I’ll also think of replacing some of the butter with coconut oil too.

I have to say, it’s so much tastier!!! And much more nutritious too I’m sure.

Return of the Shy Girl

It’s Tuesday night and that means it’s craft night. I pack my latest project and head over to The House of Crafting. The house is in actual fact a time machine. As I step into the lounge room it’s like stepping into a portal – instantly I’m a nervous 15yr old, the new girl at school trying to fit in. It’s as if I have no control over myself. As the room fills up I go quiet, I stare fixedly at my needle and thread as I sew. When I do say something the words are blurted out, seeming too loud, too sudden. At one point I actually hit myself in the face as I’m explaining something! What on earth is going on?

I grew up a very shy person. One of my earliest memories is when my Gran and Pa came to visit when I was about 3 yrs old. We were living in country Victoria and they had come down from Queensland for a holiday. I remember being excited to see them, my nose pressed up against the screen door as I peered down the driveway waiting for the car. I hear the engine, the car pulls up and instant panic hits me. I turn, run and scuttle behind the couch. My poor Gran & Pa – what a welcome!

Me and Pa when they came to visit...I think it was Gran I was nervous of though.

Primary School was no different. I feel sure I saw more of the ground than the sky. I remember in Grade 6 two of my friends teasing me. One saying “Come with me to the tuckshop”, the other “No, come with me to the oval!”. Both knowing I was terrible at making decisions and I wouldn’t be able to say no to either of them. It was partly because I was shy, partly because I didn’t really care either way but also because I seem suffer the terribly debilitating condition of I Want People To Like Me.

1989 - still a bit camera shy!

Thankfully in Secondary School things finally changed. Just after my 15th Birthday we moved from country Victoria to Darwin. It was such a culture shock it may as well have been to another country. It was make or break time for me. Luckily I met another girl Fiona who was to start at the same school and we stuck together. She was experienced at moving schools and had a strategy all set out: each day at lunch we would hang out with a new group of girls and then choose the one that we liked most. It worked too, I’m still friends with those girls today. My mum wrote letters back to her friends back in Ky saying I was ‘like a rose that has blossomed’. Embarrassing but true. The shyness faded, my courage grew. I talked to strangers, did crazy teenagy things and I really did feel more like the real me.

As I got older I got much better at not being so shy. I left home at 19, moved to the other end of the country (again!) and joined a performing arts course. A mind numbingly terrifying thing for a shy person. I joined because of the dance component which got cancelled in the first week, but soldiered on and finished it with only one meltdown in the toilet. I even went onto street performing – what a buzz! Since then I’ve moved many times, changed jobs many times, travelled alone and met lots of amazing people. That 15yr old girl feels like such a long time ago and I thinks that’s why this sudden shyness at craft night has been so surprising for me – I thought those days were long passed.

Travelling India solo - a great way to get over shyness!

As for craft night, I should probably keep going. I’m sure it’s healthy for me to be out of my comfort zone now and then, character building and all that. I think the reason I feel like I do is because there’s a lot of very extroverted personalities there and it’s hard for me to deal with them all at once. I’m better one on one. I don’t know why but I’ve found I have a tendency to act like a see-saw. If I’m with people who are a bit quiet, I blab on and on and on. If I’m with loud, boisterous personalities I tend to retreat into my shell.

At least my daughter doesn’t appear to be affected by shyness, what a chatterbox she is – no idea where she gets it from!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: