Saturday, April 28, 2012

and finally - a dress.

With the decision to leave my sewing machine at home when we left on our six month caravan trip, came the fear that I would lose my passion for sewing. That I would forget how to make a pattern and whip up a dress. That when we got home I would find it easier to buy than to sew.

From memory, I missed Nina Bernina twice while we were away. Once when we were camped in Broome next to a family of little girls who danced out of their caravan every morning wearing little rainbow peasant dresses. And again when I picked up a bunch of old bits of fabric from a garage sale in Dongara.

When we got home I whipped up three me sized dresses out of desperation. Three dresses made from old sheets and curtains in my stash. Three dresses inspired by a photo in a Japanese pattern book and then made by tracing a dress I already had.

And after them, I walked away from the sewing machine and didn't go back.

And then the other day I went to check out the new yarn section in a quilting shop nearby. And while I was stroking the yarn, Miss Pepper it seems was pulling out fabrics for a new dress. Three fabrics; spots for the body, doggies for the sleeves and butterflies for the frilly bit.

I don't remember the last time I bought brand new fabric. A part of me resented the cost and the non-sustainability of the purchase. But a bigger part of me loved that she planned the project down to the last detail. That she took for granted that her mama could and would sew her a new dress. And to be honest, I adored her choices and loved the feel of the crisp, new bright fabrics.

So we bought them home and one dark and dreary late April afternoon, I made a pattern, cut the pieces and sewed a dress.

It was slow going. At times I doubted that all the bits would fit together. But I loved it. The whole process. And I even cut a pattern out of baking paper to be certain that I could make it all over again.

I've even had a few teensy-eensy thoughts about reopening my online store.


It's a shame I left the photo shoot so late that it was almost dark and all the edges were blurry.

But she loves it and asked to sleep in it, so I'm happy.

So how about you?
Do you prefer to use old/recycled materials?
Or do you get a thrill from the new?
Have you sewn anything lately?
Or are you working with wintery warm wool?
Are you having a wonderful weekend?
I hope so.

See ya later hot potata!


  1. Oh I love it!! Its so cute.
    I made myself a dress recently and have fabric lined up for a couple more, but not much time to get them done.
    We try to use thrifted fabrics when we can or buy from the op shops, but also love a little bit of new as well.

  2. Oh it so nice to see your beautiful creations again ...have missed them. I love to sew with old but sometimes the project requires new and there is something nice about that too. Have a lovely weekend even if it is a bit dreary outside. xx

  3. The night photos have turned out beautifully anyway Kate! We actually did the same thing today as the Munchkin needs a new stack of dresses (We use the same pattern, without the ruffle) She picked heaps out of my oppie stash but for one dress she chose new fabrics. I cringed also but the fabric she chose is gorgeous and I can't wait to make it up. I hadn't sewn for ages so it has been a nice change :)

  4. It's so gorgeous and I love her choices, but mostly that she just knew you'd do it! x

    I can't sew, but I can dream when I see your photos.

    Just lovely.

    cheers Kate

  6. I think the photos are great - that late afternoon/twilight light is sublime. And the little dress is pretty cute too! :)

  7. your/ her dress turned out so cute! I also love that she just knew you would make it for her. I sew obsessively/ passionately and get a huge thrill when my own or even other kids ask me to make something for them. Better still, I'm dreaming of teaching them to sew things for themselves, even starting my own little sewing school.... I do tend to use new fabric, but have just raided my husbands wardrobe for jeans and tshirts to chop into, so we'll see what happens there! Also, I'm feeling a little curious about what you found in the yarn section...

  8. I'm still learning to sew and I too wish to use as much recycled fabric as possible. Having said that I wont deny that fabric stores do have me swooning, stroking and dreaming! I am trying my hand at making myself a VERY simple tunic - I'll post about it IF it works (actually I should post even if it flops... then maybe blog world can help hey?) Your Miss Pepper is one blessed little bub! Her "dress happiness" shows on her face! :-)

  9. So great being able to make your own clothes.....we do alot of sewing around here, some old, some new, but all with love. If their happy, I'm happy :) Very cute x

  10. It's so sweet Kate. Gosh I'm enjoying coming back here.

    xx Tam

  11. I love that kids with crafty mums just take it for granted that you can make it, or fix it, or whip up enough of them for the class LOL
    beautiful dress and glad that you have rediscovered your sewing mojo - I didn't realise that you had closed your etsy store - that makes Hannah's Kate dress even more precious!!!

  12. I have a huge soft spot for brand new gorgeous fabrics and papers... however I do get stressed and feel conscious of the cost and sustainability! xx Most of my terrariums are made now with purchased glassware - I find it difficult to find re-cycled glassware... it's just not around.. perhaps smashed!

  13. Miss Pepper did incredibly well to put all those pretty fabrics together (perhaps taking after her talented mum?) and they do look so pretty on her. Your trip to the fabric shop reminds me of carefully choosing a pattern and fabric with my mum when I was a kid. I loved the whole experience. I was a dress girl too.

  14. I love it Kate, I definitely think you should re-open your shop

  15. Love the dress. I do a bit of both. I love working with recycled materials but I do buy new fabrics when I'm making clothes for work, for example. I like to mix fabrics too - linen or denim with b=vintage sheets, etc etc. At the moment I'm sewing up 10 patchwork cushions for the school mothers day stall!

  16. Kate that would be fabulous if you are considering opening your shop again. YEAHHHH!!!!! I love using new fabrics however I absolutely love vintage fabrics too although I cannot bring myself to use them.

  17. I think that it is admirable that you use recycled fabrics, but at some stage they were new too. Just think of this dress as being earlier in the cycle and that one day, it too can be recycled into something new. I love that you went with Pepper's choices. Many of us would tell her that those fabrics don't match and encourage her to choose something else. I think the final dress is beautiful :)

  18. I love that Miss Pepper designed her own skirt.
    I get a thrill looking at new fabric, especially linen and summery cottons. I haven't been fortunate enough to stumble across much 2nd hand fabric, but I still keep my eye out. I get a buzz from repurposing my own clothes buy adding lace, doilies or modifying it so it seems like a new piece.

  19. There's a certain sense of satisfaction that you can only get from making your own wearable clothes, and for me, it's completely different to the sense of satisfaction that I get from making something else like a handbag.
    That's why I'm loving the sew-alongs - it's forcing me to actually take the time to make something just for me and I love it!
    As far as old vs new - I can't choose as I love both.

  20. The little dress is gorgeous, you clever lady. And of course your little girl is as adorable as ever.
    Anne xx

  21. that little dress is fab- your girl has some style. i am in the middle of my baby girl's first birthday frock, using vintage sheets. i much much prefer the sustainability of repurposed stuff, plus the challenge of making it work!

  22. I love the fabric choices all together! Pepper looks adorable in it. I've been eyeing the butterflies myself. I like mixing new fabrics with older pieces, sometimes a vintage doily patch (like yours sometimes), I feel especially glad when I can reuse a piece of my old clothing in something new. I've been thinking about crochet straps for sun dresses...

  23. Love that dress!:) gorgeous & good on you for letting her pick the fabrics - something I always yearned for as a child but often wasn't allowed.


  24. Pepper's dress is so precious and really quite up to date in the latest of fashion trends don't you think? Though they may be new fabrics, she gave the dress a very vintage feel by her choices of prints:) I love how fun and whimsical it is!!! I have yet to conquer my fear of sewing a dress and atlas am still only sewing greeting cards for family and friends. Ohhhhh how I wish I could figure out how to sew a dress or even just a skirt or smock.

  25. Aw that's so sweet. A beautiful dress and so heartwarming that she just knew you could make it for her. Living by your beliefs (sustainability, etc.) is important but it's equally important to sometimes do things out of that box when the emotional reward is so great.

  26. :-)... The dress is gorgeous ...I've been sewing a 1970's overalls pattern with new fabric for my 2 yr old daughter CLover.... there over here...
    The sunset swing

  27. It's such a combination for me! I do love buying new fabrics...but only if I'm getting a bargain!
    I found two gorgeous vintage pink floral sheets the other day for $1.50 each! Couldn't refuse it and will now be making some gorgeous bunting and other decorations for my niece's 3rd birthday party out of it. That's definitely more rewarding than getting them from a hsop. But I agree with you that Pepper's creativity and planning just HAD to be met with your purchase and the dress looks wonderful! :) Must get my sew jo back on!!

  28. Gorgeous dress and gorgeous little Pepper xx

  29. Oh, it's so cute! I love that there are polka dots, dogs, and butterflies :)
    I love old and new fabrics and I love mixing them together. I probably have equal amounts of both.
    Lately I have been sewing up a storm for my craft shows.
    When I am all done with my spring craft shows I am excited to work on a birthday dress for my middle daughter, she had requested a dress with a turtle applique since turtles are her favorite.

    That last picture with the sunset is lovely, you live in a beautiful place.

  30. Good to see you sewing again Kate. Pepper's dress is adorable, what lovely fabric taste she has! And the mismatched gumboots, jeans and a sunset photoshoot make it all kids of wonderful with a cherry on top. X

  31. Hi Kate, I'm Helen, I live in the uk and love your blog, I love that you are down to earth, practical and loving, a bit like me. I really love reading about your day to day life and rather envious of your little farm.
    I use a mix of old and new fabrics and patterns and it gives me pleasure when I have made something instead of going out to buy it. I love that your daughter was given the freedom to choose the fabrics for her dress, it's really cute and she looks adorable in it x

  32. She is such a cutie your little one, and every time I see her here on your blog I am thinking "I have one just like that here at home." But time flies. I need to hug her more. Look at her more. Listen to her stories, funny questions... I look at her and wish I had more of that naivety and natural capacity of living for the moment.

    The other day I saw her come running from a friends home next door and she came to a stop in a blink by our gate. She kneeled down in the wet grass and picked something hidden in the corner by our raspberry bush. She walked through the gate and stopped and looked up in the sky with a frown as mini rain drops probably dripped down on her face. And then she set off in to me in the kitchen and even before opening the door I hear her "Mama!!!". And in the catch of her breath she hands me two cute flowers with to short stems. "For you Mama! I found them by our 'hallon' bush (Swedish for raspberry as my kids tend to mix their language a lot here...). Oh how my heart was ready to burst.

    I lifted her up and she clung on to me with her legs wrapped around my waist and I thought - this is life and happiness and time passes fast. I have to be more aware and present before all this just passes me by without even being noticed...

    Wish I could make a dress like that one day. I am staying with patchworks for now. Still learning a lot every day. My greatest satisfaction comes from using vintage sheets and recycle old fabric I find in thrifts stores and markets but every now and then I splash out on brand new designer fabric and often I mix the to worlds together. Your daughter made an excellent choice for her dress. I think it is fab.
    ♥♥♥ Annette

  33. I like any materials put together with love, Kate. Divine. x

  34. Kate, that dress is gorgeous! What taste your lovely little gal has. Must take after her mumma xx

  35. that dress is fab, and looks sooooo cool with jeans. Make loads and sell them - piece of piss, they'll fly out the door. Interested in your latest post about the crochet blocks from the book. I have that book - it's a bit good....

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Kate XX

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