Tag Archives: Sewing

The Front Row – Day 9

What a great day – and incredibly for me, I’m blogging about it on the same day it happened, a feat which can be attributed to my research assistant for the day, Geraldine (below) who yes, bears a remarkable resemblance to me as she is my mum.

Lisa from Couturing came in to try her dress for either this evening’s Alex Perry show, or another of the runway shows tomorrow night.  This was a dress I had intended to complete during the exhibition, but this project has been very busy, and I would have preferred there be a few more stitches and a few less pins in the dress at the point of the fitting, it felt quite unprofessional of me to be so ill prepared.  Nonetheless, Lisa was really excited and we arranged for her to pick up the completed dress that afternoon.  About the same time, Cheryl popped in to show me the accessory piece I created for her to wear as part of her “Little Black Dress” Project.  Inspired by the Uniform Project, she has chosen a dress by Melbourne label Bento to wear once a week for the year, accessorized in a different way each time.  She was really enjoying the floaty chiffon, said she’d had loads of remarks on it, and even, spectacularly, an altercation with a fellow blogger the previous evening who claimed that THEY were wearing that item the following night.  “No, I’m wearing it” said Cheryl, and thankfully they managed to ascertain before a drastic dispute broke out that I’d actually made two versions of this scarf for them both to wear at the same time. (note: I may be exaggerating the facts here for dramatic effect)

As if this wasn’t enough excitement, Cheryl brought along with her none other than Lady Melbourne.  Now I have been pursuing Phoebe to take part in The Front Row, to the point where I’d been asking myself, “If I send her another e-mail, does that constitute stalking?”  So to have her walk in the door and just -  pick out a dress – just like that was very exciting.

Further action today came in the form of discussion about fabrics with one of the Industrial Design students from RMIT who delightfully brought me a ginger bread loaf!!  Mum arrived and we set to work sewing to finish the dress for Lisa.  Once again, I was reminded of the way in which for me, conversation and thoughts usually flow easier when I have a needle and thread in my hand.  Dress finished and a quick lunch eaten very late.  Lou popped in to grab something for the Penthouse Mouse parade tonight.  Finally, I ducked upstairs for a drink at the media lounge set up by Pybus PR on their balcony for the festival and then managed to make it home at a semi reasonable hour.  Overall, I was really excited to feel the momentum “The Front Row” is gaining among participants.

This slip was sewn today to be worn under a chiffon dress.  An irregularly shaped piece was folded over and tucked to create a slip form and I like the loose and slightly asymmetric shape.

The pinboard has been updated with more links – with thanks to my other RA Nina. x


The Front Row – Day 4

More “props” were moved into the studio today – sewing machine, iron and mannequin, while Matt lent me some speakers which was much appreciated as the tinny music coming from my laptop really wasn’t cutting it when serious sewing needs to be done in a hurry.  I really don’t pay enough attention to music while I’m working, and I know it can make such a difference to the speed of work.  I enjoyed a colleague’s reflections on the concept of “flow” recently, the idea of being totally engrossed in what you are doing when making, but I’m wondering whether immersion in a task is enough to achieve this, and whether factors such as place, music and the “props” around you are important factors in aiding that.  Note to self – look into this further… after the next dress is finished!  My favourite prop is most certainly my large shears, bought form this very location some years ago when it was RJ Harvey’s tailoring supplies.  In fact, the brown paper used for the pinboard/map in the exhibition is in part an ode to the brown paper Harvey’s used to wrap customer purchases.

The picture of R.J Harvey’s above from 2010 is from a blog called Handmaiden

Cheryl Lin of BusinessChic popped in to work out a piece.  Bloggers and the like have just received their media accreditation – that means notifications of which shows during the festival they’ll be attending, so are better placed to know how many outfits they’re going to need and for what events!  We played around with a few styles, Cheryl indulged me and played fit model for me while I re-pinned one the dresses I have always thought is lovely but seems to be being overlooked so far by my “clients”.  I wondered if I re-draped it and re-arranged it, it might prove more popular.  Not only did Cheryl indulge my fiddling about the dresses, she wrote a very nice post about it on her blog.

Above, I’m convinced there is as yet unrecognised potential for this dress, although the pinning of it here is probably not making it immediately apparent either…

Above, one of the slips, this one was also tried on by Leeyong Soo, who described it as very “90′s Belgian”, probably because she was also wearing long black boots at the time.


I’m currently working on a wedding dress for Jacquie for her marriage to Max. Below is Jacquie with her friend Lou, they’re sewing together the toile for her dress prior to our first fitting.  First question, what does this have to do with Frocktober?  Jacquie and a team from the Melbourne Zoo are taking part in this fundraising event for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.  Participants pledge to wear a dress every day during October (and the wedding dress we are working on will be one of them). You can sponsor their efforts here: www.everydayhero.com.au/frock_the_zoo

Secondly, why are Jacquie and Lou sewing the dress that I am supposedly making?  I’m trialling a participative made-to-measure concept, where recipients of my special occasion designs are involved in the sewing and construction of their own gown.  Our fittings have involved: food (on different occasions, baklava, sushi, spinach tart and roasted vegies), cups of tea or glasses of wine, shoe admiration (again from Melissa, a theme is developing on this blog I feel!), dress fitting and pinning, and finally some hand sewing.  Last night’s fitting also involved Jacquie’s mum who accomplished about twice as much as the rest of us.  What do you think?  Have you been involved in the creation  of an important dress for your own red carpet moment?  What did it mean to you?  Oh, and here’s that link again to sponsor Jacquie!

Tessuti Awards

There are a couple of days left to vote in the Tessuti Awards, run by Australian fabric store Tessuti.  My entry is in a sorry state; I opted to hand stitch it entirely from a length of linen and a length of lace (as per the brief) that I’d had lying around forever and then life got in the way…  I do still hope to be wearing it by Summer.

I have however been loving looking at and reading the entries.  This competition attracts sewers of all sorts, from professional designers, to aspiring students to domestic sewers, and to me challenges boundaries between professional and domestic, and about what activities constitute design.  While the competition is a sewing or making one, what is being judged is essentially design.  But best of all is the narratives generated around sewing, with each entrant asked to reflect on how they came to sew, what it means to them to sew and  the thought process behind how they worked their way through their design.

Typical among the stories is a “moment” that counts as an induction into sewing.  Says entrant Emily Pierce:

My Mum used to sew for us when I was little, and I remember sitting with her one day and cutting out a little tshirt shape and cellotaping it together and saying ‘this isnt hard!’ so from then on its history…I have excelled from that somewhat now however!

And I also love the stories about sewing that locate it firmly in contemporary life as opposed to a nostalgic pursuit practiced by our mothers, as expressed by Andy Truong:

I am a self taught sewer and I have been sewing ever since I can remember. I first started sewing when I did hand sewing projects. In year seven, I knitted phone and Ipod pockets and sold them to friends. With the money I made from selling them, I saved up for a sewing machine.