Sunday, January 31, 2010

Back To School - pencil case

It's back to school for the girls. I love the beginning of the school year, it's always full of promise with brand new text books and new stationery!

The girls wanted me to make them custom-made pencilcases - big enough to hold all their stuff!

Here's what I made up using cotton fabrics from my stash, vliesoflix (a fabulous double sided fusible webbing ideal for applique) to iron-on the fabric shapes to create the owl (inspired of course by Petra Boase) and clear PVC from Spotlight to cover the outer and insides of the pencilcase ( you need a teflon foot to work with this stuff!!!) and measures 33 x 20cm. I'm happy with the way it turned out...I think the cute owl makes all the difference of course!

I'll be thinking of these special two, who will be starting school this week.


Pattern Review - Vogue 8146 Shift Dress

Nasrin has made, this stylish Chanel-inspired shift dress up in Vogue 8146 and Tessuti's beautiful Ivory Valentino tweed in a cotton, silk, viscose mix (from our last Italian shipment).

No Chanel-inspired dress (or jacket) would be without a trimmed or fringed edging. Finding the right trim is sometimes difficult, but creating your own by fringing a tweed or wool and reapplying it usually gives the best result.
Here Nasrin had an idea to use two of our Mokuba fringed pipings in Black and Ivory - sewing them together by overlapping the seams. She then dip-dyed a white/gold trim in tea to match the Ivory and sewed it in the middle to cover the exposed seams - placing the trim around the neckline and armholes. It gives just the right subtle and chic edge to the dress.

There's no better colour combination for a Chanel-inspired dress than Black and Ivory. Simply because it marries back so well with pearls! Nasrin even made her own version of a Chanel belt ....even the customary camellia! These black and pearl beads were purchased at the Spirit Bead House. The camellia is made from Tessuti's boiled wool and our bamboo wadding.

I'm very excited about the Tessuti winter stock hitting the stores in a week or so. Stunning tweeds, wools suitings, jerseys, boiled wool, viscose prints, cotton shirtings etc. If you're on our email list we will notify you of the exact date.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coming to Melbourne - The Sew Inn

We're happy, nay, thrilled to announce The Sew Inn, twice-monthly sewing workshops for our Melbourne customers. Facilitated by one very clever local lass - Suzie Fry - these four-hour sessions are designed to allow you to sew what you want and learn what you need. Who is Suzie? She's a sewer, teacher and designer. She started out sewing and knitting clothes as a teenager and has steadily expanded her skills and interests in her efforts to bring a little handmade beauty to every day things. From clothing and toys to quilts and bags, Suzie's interests continue to evolve as she explores new skills and materials. She has projects featured in numerous books and magazines, and blogs about her life and creative ventures at

Here's her intro and premise on what The Sew Inn is all about...

I learned to sew as a kid. I watched my mum sew, I played with bits of fabric and the sewing machine, and as I got older I gradually tried to complete projects on my own. When I got stuck I asked mum or I just fiddled and fiddled until I got it right, or realised why it was never going to be right. While I had a high 'failure' rate, every one of those failures taught me the things that make me a confident sewer today.

When I started teaching sewing and craft one of the problems I came up with again and again is that structured classes just don't work like this. The process of setting a goal, working through the process and solving problems along the way just doesn't fit into a class built around assuring a common outcome and pace for all. Don't get me wrong, for some things and some people that methodical step by step learning is ideal - obviously since that's how pretty much all classes are structured.

But I think knowing how to get started or how to improve on basic skills can be really difficult if you haven't had that learning by osmosis experience. Sometimes there isn't a class that speaks to exactly what you want to do, sometimes you feel classes move too fast or too slowly or can't commit to a whole lots of classes in one chunk. You want some help to get started, someone to ask questions and get an inside edge to working out different ways to do things. A lot of you who think you don't know anything simply need the encouragement to have a go and work it out along the way.

Adult learning principles stress that adult learners come to the classroom with finely tuned skills in other areas and that means no two students will be alike. It also means they often don't enjoy the controlled content and pace of a formal class. Adult learners tend to be more task or outcome focused. If they are learning a new skill they will have a reason for doing so and if the class doesn't connect well to that reason, it may not work for them. This again means that what they are interested in, ready for and challenged by may not be at all predictable and almost certainly won't be shared by a whole room full of people. Adult learners direct their own learning at the pace and to the goals of their choosing.

But running a class like this is complicated and I think that's why you don't see them much. For a start it's less comfortable for some people to take responsibility for what they learn back from the teacher to themselves. It requires a bit of prework, some discussion between the teacher and student, some careful thought about projects and materials and realistic expectations. This is not a one size fits all take it or leave it sausage making kind of class, it's not about churning out sewers with the same approach, skills or projects. So students really have to be prepared to set themselves some goals and pick a project or skill they really want to go for.

That doesn't have to be scary, in fact these classes can be very exciting and liberating and addictive too - there's every chance that after one a student may want to do another, either to finish something, to have another go at a failed attempt or to get straight onto a new idea. It is a place to not just learn from the teacher but to be inspired by each other's ideas and projects. A space in which by choosing a goal you really open yourself up to real achievement.

This has been my experience on an informal, and occasionally on a more formal basis. Sometimes it happens with friends, or with students within more structured classes. When people ask questions and follow their instincts and get excited. One thing leads to another and soon enough they are absolutely flying. People who ask me for help so often don't want me to 'be the teacher'. Often they don't want to hear that there's only one way, the proper way. They want to hear what I think they could do, what their options are, how I would reason through a problem and decide on a solution. They appreciate that I have a ready store of both failures and successes to draw on and that the central point is always in getting further to where they want to go, not where I think they should go.

So I spent a good deal of time thinking about how I could bring this framework to the classroom. I want to teach in a way that is fun, sustainable, exciting and varied - satisfying for me and my students. I want to be accessible to people who want to learn this way, who are ready to be challenged and who are excited to learn. I couldn't see how to do that in the structure of my old classroom.

When Tessuti Fabrics opened in Melbourne one of the things I loved most was that a visit to the store would invariably thrust me into a world of possibilities mindset. It is no challenge to think up projects or new ways of applying skills when you are surrounded by so much quality, interesting, unique fabric. From day one it seemed to me a fertile and inspirational place.

So I am super super excited, thrilled, positively giddy to be able to announce that come February I will be teaching regular workshop classes there.

I want to learn to sew, but I want to do it my way

If you've ever thought you might like to sew but just didn't want to do a standard learning to sew course then the beginners sewing salon might be the place for you. These four hour workshops are an opportunity for small groups of beginners (no more than 5 - half the number in many standard classes) to do what they want with the help of an experienced advisor (that would be me). Whether your project is as ambitious as a stylish new frock or as simple as a quick make do children's dress up, the focus of this workshop is for each participant to gain the confidence to pursue their own sewing dream. This is not a class in which a teacher will be telling you what you must do, dictating how fast you must go or what the proper way to do it is. Instead the advisor (that's me again) will help you work out what it is you need to do next from choosing a pattern or fabric to working out how to finish off a collar or fix that whopping big mistake you made.

As a beginner you may not be aiming to produce a masterpiece straight away - and maybe for you that's never going to be what excites you. Maybe you really want to know how to just make something quickly and easily that's good enough. Or maybe you want to take the time and attention to detail to try and develop truly expert skills. Either way you pick your project for the workshop and you set the pace. You can come to just one workshop to get the ball rolling or return for more help and inspiration, it's up to you. Because the workshops are all about you and what you want to achieve there's no requirement to sign up in any set way.

The Sew Inn will be held in Tessuti Fabrics Melbourne store during shop hours one Thursday (10-2pm) and one Saturday (11-3pm) per month. That means if you want to you can pick up your supplies in the store after you have had a chance to talk to me about what you are thinking of doing. Alternatively you can come fully armed with all the gear you need, or stop by the store prior to the workshop and talk to Lisa or Nichola or Leisl to get some advice on how best to prepare yourself to take the maximum advantage of your workshop time.

Attendance at The Sew Inn will cost $80 for four hours and groups will be limited to a maximum of 5 students. Sewing machines will be supplied, but you bring your own scissors, pins, fabric, thread, pattern and whatever other supplies you need. If you forget something or decide on a project while you are there you will be able to take advantage of a super special class discount of 15% off any purchases made at Tessuti on the day of the class.


Class dates are: Feb 18 & 20, Mar 18 & 20, Apr 15 & 17, May 13 & 15, Jun 17 & 19 and bookings can be made by calling the store on 03 9654 4566. Pre-payment for classes is required and a fee may be charged if you cancel and we cannot fill your place. Further details will be provided on booking.

At this stage, The Sew Inn is only being held in our Melbourne store but stay tuned for details on Sydney gatherings in the not-too-distant future.

We're pretty excited about it, y'know. Feel free to call or email if you have any questions.



I haven't dropped off the face of the earth..... just been hanging out with the family in wonderful Melbourne (and if you're wondering... no not for the tennis). Just a bit of work and ending the school holidays in style.

I enjoyed getting to work with Nichola and Leisl again (whilst poor Lisa was recovering from appendicitis ...of all things!). Here is Nichola in her latest dress made from another variation of the Burdastyle Jenny pattern - remember Nichola's Jenny skirt? - in our lovely 'Watercolour Floral' cotton/elastane and Leisl's very swish off-the-shoulder number is Liberty tana lawn 'La Sandra' in (out of print) Vogue 8387 pattern....

And at long last, we finally have our new Tessuti Fabrics sign hanging from the building at 141 Flinders Lane. If you miss the button and needle sign you're sure to catch this. Isn't she pretty???

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bag Pattern Review -Simplicity 2685

Nichola sent through an image of Ayumi in our Tessuti Melbourne store sporting this self made bag made from our cottons.

She used Simplicity pattern 2685, making version B. The fabric used for the bottom part of the bag is cotton 'Grey Check' , and the top part and straps is Japanese cotton 'Taka Aqua Blue' - the buttons added are our large coconut buttons with handpainted sunflowers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feature Fabric Of The Week - Silk Twill 'Kool Floral'

100% Silk Twill Kool Floral . Here's proof that new redhead, Max is drawn to silk twill and the latest prints for her fave pleated front smock dress.

This floral print also comes in this colourway.


Friday, January 15, 2010

More school holiday sewing with Bernadette and McCalls 5419

My youngest daughter and friends were just as keen to attend the school holiday sewing classes with Bernadette Doherty after seeing what the older girls had made during their sewing lesson.

I wondered how these three (around 10 and 11) would go since they'd never sewn on a machine before, let alone cut out a pattern or if they would last the 2.5 hours!!! - but as the desire was there we thought we'd give it a shot. Let's just say they're already planning to make another of these cute tops (above) on their own and are feeling pretty impressed with themselves!

Bernadette found a suitably simple pattern for them to start on and also importantly a style that they would enjoy wearing. The pattern is McCalls 5419. This pattern was modified slightly - view E's front was cut out twice so that you had the same piece front and back. Straps cut from Tessuti's soft grosgrain ribbon and gingham bias binding was threaded through the casings to create bow straps. A very cute style that can be made up into a dress or halter version. The pattern goes from ages 3 to 14.

Worth noting : although the pattern measurements at the back of the packet state that they measured a size 12 - when the actual pattern pieces were measured flat - the size 8 was plenty big enough! When will the pattern companies get this right!??!

Bernadette sent through an email and photos saying:

'The girls did fantastically today, I hope they are very proud of themselves, I was. I very much enjoyed the lesson as well'

They enjoyed it alright, they're already booked in for the next school holidays :)


Thursday, January 14, 2010

REMINDER: Vogue and McCalls pattern sale ends this week

If you're wanting to take advantage of the sale on Vogue and McCalls patterns, you've got till this Sunday 17th!

All Vogue patterns are $12


All McCalls patterns are 1/2 price

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Phillipa's dress in Osaka Night Bloom and ....

this lovely rose quartz necklace from Rubyteva Designs.

The pattern is her own. But what you have is a circular skirt attached to a fitted front bodice with mini cap sleeves and a peek-a boo tie-back.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

iPhone love. Fashion love.

I gifted myself with an iPhone this Christmas and am embarassed to admit how much I love it. I'll do my best to not become the "tragic bore" referred to in this article, but I'm making no promises. The applications are my favourite feature, and the free ones?...even better.'s application lets you view current and past runway shows, including ready-to-wear and couture. Demo here. That makes this phone a completely justifiable, work-related purchase, no?

If you've got any favourite fashion/sewing/craft-related applications, do share...


Monday, January 11, 2010

Bowor Tote Bag

My new tote bag made for me by Sue for Christmas. How chic does it look in our appliqued/embroidered poly taffeta Bowor. Sue modelled the pattern off the Go Green Coles bag you know? She just added longer straps in a black cotton webbing and caught the side gusset together at the top. It's fully lined in a black cotton (inside pocket and all!) and is the perfect size to fit all my extra bits and pieces.

I had a sewing day today with a couple of friends Bowor Tote held all my sewing stuff in it beautifully.

I love love love it Sue ;)

Pattern Review - New Look 6803

Isn't this turning out to be the month of dresses?

As we embark on the start of our summer heatwave, here's a dress post for just the thing 'cause there's nothing like a fabulous cotton tunic dress to wear when it's stinking hot!!! The cotton for this season has to be our popular seersucker cotton in the Flower and Imazu Spot range from our last Japanese shipment. It was an absolute hit! You may have already seen Grumbles' gorgeous dress in the Cherry, and Crafty Dogma's top in the Night colourway. Well, here's the Navy combination made up in New Look 6803 pattern.

I met Chris at our Melbourne store when I was there last December. Ever-ready with my camera, Chris kindly allowed me to photograph her tunic dress and emailed me the details on the pattern alterations.

Chris cut out view C in New Look 6803 but omitted the sleeves, instead lowering the shoulder slope and subsequently the armhole to allow for more movement and used a binding around the armholes. The size 16 was cut for the body and she sewed in about an extra 1/2 in on side seams, Chris says she'll use the size 14 next time around.

Wanting a lower front neckline, Chris cut out the size 12 neckline, but doing this made the slit too low as well - another thing to remember for next time!! As Chris only had 1 metre of each of the two Japanese fabrics she added the contrast band to the bottom of the tunic dress -to add enough length.

The bad news is that we've sold out of this lovely cotton in all colourways and print - although I'm sure I saw a roll of the Lime Flowers on the shelves at Surry Hills last week and Melbourne has some too. But the good news is that we have another selection of superb quality cottons coming from Japan at the end of the month, so stay tuned here or keep checking the new additions here next month.

Thanks again Chris :)
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