Ramie voile experiment

A couple of years ago, I found what I thought was linen voile at a very cheap price and bought silly amounts of it. Well, silly amounts given it turned out to be ramie rather than linen.  I’d done nothing with it, partly due to the disappointment, mostly due to my very large stash.

Ramie is rather like linen, but more brittle, has very little stretch and can be scratchy. I read that it is also good at resisting bacteria and mould. So some good, some bad, and some people find it too scratchy to tolerate. I don’t know whether I can wear it or not. The only other experience I have sewing ramie was many years ago and disastrous. The fabric was so brittle it was breaking apart as I worked and that project went in the bin. I was very sad, partly to lose the work and the cost of the fabric, partly because it was a beautiful jaquard weave in shiny black.

So to get a feel for how it behaves, I decided to put a simple shirt together, then get through a few cycles of wear and launder. The main fabric is very fine but with much more body than cotton voile. So fine that I wondered what I would use for interfacing. The plain linen I’ve been using lately seemed too heavy, as did the lightest white iron on in stash. So I decided to try strips of what I  think is a linen gauze, that also hasn’t yet been used. Thankfully, it has worked well (to be reviewed after first wash), which is great and lets me be less concerned that there is no cotton organdy in the stash at the moment.


and the obligatory button shot. I do so love shell buttons, especially when they are shiny, and even opalescent.


Well, it is a simple shirt* except that I had an idea for a bold but stealthy self detail.


Any excuse to put trefoils on things. At least one friend would call this an ermine spot though.


*This is of course my original pattern that I adapted for Mama


Mama shirt: stage two, trial shirt

The trial shirt reached Mama in the mail yesterday, so now I can post about it here. I had lots of ideas about what fabric to use for this, but finally settled on this dark blue linen*.

It’s a very plain shirt pattern. I was aiming for flat construction, no darts or pleats, but a gently close and flattering fit. It works quite well on me, how would it work on Mama?  Note that the lack of cuffs is by her request. The collar is a plain rectangle, I like the simplicity and it makes sewing easier, but won’t sit well under a jacket. I’m not sure why the yolk is sitting badly on one side, but it could be partly that Mum has slopier shoulders than me, more sloped than the hanger. It seems to set better on her.


A button detail. I like buttons and I’m pleased I’m getting better at buttonholes. Shell buttons as I prefer, except when metal ones work better. Mum is a clean lines lady so I sewed the four hole buttons on to suit, crossed stitching would amuse her less than I.


And look! it fits really well, or at least well enough. She is to tell me whether she wants any changes to the pattern before I make up the printed lawn. She has also asked for a copy of the pattern! I’m thinking that I was right that the armhole curves need softening a bit (not obvious in this pic) but that the neckline fits better than I feared, still might need adjusting though. Maybe a few mm more in the side seams over the hips. A jolly good outcome for a first attempt from the other side of the country though, and she likes it.

mama shirt-1

*fabric was a stash reject from a friend. The bonus of being a rare bird of a dressmaker is that people keep giving me their stash.

Labels and plackets

I’ve belatedly put labels on all three new denim garments. I try to remember to sew them on by machine, but often forget until I’m past the appropriate construction stage. Oh well, putting them on by hand was a good job for a still lurgified me this morning. Thought I’d show you the zip plackets too. These are not seen at all during wear, so one can go as mad as one likes with the fabric choice.


I’m quite pleased with the neatness of the construction stitching on these. I did make a few mistakes but they are not obvious to the casual observer.


I thought I’d have a bit of fun and put the skirt label on the outside for a change.


I ordered the labels a few years ago from Fantasy Labels. They are woven cotton, really nice quality. Can be sewn on in a variety of ways and are comfortable against the skin. They amuse me too, and that’s worth quite a bit.

New Troosers

Two more pairs of troosers. Hurrah! I made a new pattern in three stages early this year and the resulting two pairs of almost jeans have seen heavy wear ever since. I really needed a few more pairs and now I have two. Yay. I want more but this is a good start, and two at once is enough of a production line for me.

No pics of them on me because I’m feeling blobby. The downside of making one’s own clothes is that one must actually look at oneself, properly, not that glancing, glossing over the bits one doesn’t like thing. My torso is composed of conjoined spheres, so not the approved look. However, these trousers fit better than anything I can buy in shops. So there.

The stripey ones get boring pockets because the fabric is too light to support the extra stitching. Yes I could have backed it, but I didn’t. So there.



The bright blue denim was bought at an opshop for $10. I hoped there might be enough for two pairs, but no, only one. I can probably get a short skirt out of the leftovers though. The zipper in the blue pair is a recently aquired stash reject and the buttons are from my stash. The stripey fabric is I suppose a cotton suiting. It is quite fine, tightly woven and has a brushed finish. Lovely stuff though it does crush.

Artistry from under the lurgy

I’m still sick. Sometimes my brain is online, sometimes it’s not. I just made yet another mistake in the second ally sock, pulled it back by about a pattern repeat and proceeded to make yet another mistake, thankfully a more tolerable one because I don’t think the wool will stand up to a third knitting. However, I’ve been musing for about a month on how to best get a cornflower design onto velvet. I suddenly figured out a good way to do it, and lo, it worked and was fun and fairly quick to do. At least I hope it looks like a cornflower? albeit a stylised one. It’s heavy perle cotton couched down by machine over a freehand drawn design.





In some ways I haven’t made these. In other ways I’ve made them thrice over. They grew in my garden, which I tend.  I cut and arrange them. Then take photographs.


Initially, I started taking pictures to preserve the flowers for my later viewing pleasure. At some point it occurred to me to use these posy pictures as virtual cards, which I’ve been really enjoying. So nice to find that extra use for them. Usually this is for birthdays, but too many times lately for condolence. So in honour of the friend who passed away a few days ago, much too soon, and all the other loved ones who left us recently, I choose white flowers for this post.


I don’t consider myself to be a wonderful photographer, but I’m increasingly happy with the outcomes. Anything I’d count as success though has been only with stationary inanimate objects. I have learned that it’s ok to only like one in ten or so pics. Take many!

I’m not keeping track of which photo I’ve used for what purpose, maybe I should.


Denim 8 Gore Skirt

On my list was a short A-line denim skirt. Yesterday I cut it out and made it’s set of pockets.


Today I put the skirt together.

IMG_8600-1 IMG_8597-1

I had fun using a bright scrap to make the zip placket


I’m not entirely happy with how it sits. It might have been a mistake to use this very thin fabric. It might work better in proper traditional denim. This will be nice and light for travelling though.

I cut 8 identical gores. Then pinned it in to fit me, and trimmed it back at waist and hem to level it. I’m finding I enjoy this approach. It’s way less frustrating than having 4 different pattern pieces that one can get confused and probably have to adjust later on anyway.

Ally sock

Remember that yarn I was enthusing about, oh  12 days ago ? Well half of it is now a sock. As I thought, it’s lovely to knit. A little strange to me because it’s a single, as in not plied. The colour gradient is fabulous. I enjoy long colour changes like this, I tend to want to keep knitting to find out what happens.


I like the simple lozenge lace pattern. I’m getting better at identifying good lace choices for easy memorisation. The base sock is Wendy Johnson’s toe-up slip stitch heel pattern, which is my current favourite. I’m pleased I figured out a way to put the heel in as a contrast. Aside from saving the coloured yarn for the leg, it lets the colour gradient continue unbroken. I dislike the pattern change that happens with variagated yarn at the heel due to the shorter rows. I think I’ll be doing this contrast heel more often.


To avoid boredom and maximise knitting enjoyment, I will do my usual trick of starting a different pair and come back to this yarn after sock one of that pair.


Apricot Chutney and Sauce.

Based on my favourite Apricot Rhubarb chutney but twisted towards orange, inspired by recipes on the net (by Delia and Antony Worrall Thompson). Cooked back in April 2016. I haven’t tried it since the cooking day. Must do that, especially since some of it has already been given away.


Apricot Orange Chutney:

2 kg apricots, stones removed, halved
zest  and chopped flesh of one orange
1/2c sultanas
500ml (2 cups) cider vinegar
1 c (210g) light muscavado sugar
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated (well out of a jar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
½ t cloves (lifted out towards the end of cooking)
1/4 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1t tumeric
1 teaspoon coriander seed}
2 t mustard seeds}
½ t cardamom seeds}- dry fried, then partially ground in the mortar
plus the cassia sticks from the sauce below

Heat slowly until sugar dissolved, then boil gently until thickened. Remove cloves and cassia towards end of cooking. Bottle.


This year’s apricot sauce:
2 kg apricots, stones removed, halved
1kg white sugar
finely grated rind and juice of a lemon
2 cassia sticks

Heat slowly until sugar dissolved.
Ignore with lid on while finishing some other stuff for maybe half to an hour. This allows the cassia to infuse. Remove cassia, blitz apricots, replace cassia, simmer for 10min, remove cassia, bottle.

Apricot Jam

I’m still sick, so here are a couple more Apricot posts from this year’s crop and cooking. I confess the pictures are from previous years apricot adventures.

. We left picking too late this year! When I arrived to check out the tree, the fruit left on the tree looked well ripe and lots of fruit was on the ground. We gleaned the salvageable fruit from the ground and I picked all the ripe fruit. There was a little left on the tree but only a very little. We stoned and bagged 8kg of clean fruit and 2kg of “less than wonderful but likely ok if well cooked” and sent all this to the freezer. I also took 5.5kg home. 3kg of mine are now jam. Most of the rest are also stoned and frozen.

3kg apricots, destoned and cut in 8ths
{kernels from 1kg
{pits from 3 lemons
{rind of one lemon above tied in cloth
juice of two lemons (10B’s lemonade lemons this year.)
very low heat until liquid and simmering add 2.5kg sugar, rest 1hr, bring to boil, remove stone bag (a few escaped, which I mostly fished out during the boil) boil ~20min, stirring to avoid sticking. This made 11 jars of apricot jam


I’m not doing Apricot brandy this year. I don’t like it enough to spend $30 or so on the needed brandy, especially when I’d rather have the brandy straight or available for hot chocolate. Must remember actually that apricot brandy is pretty darn good in hot chocolate. I still have some from previous years.