Thursday, December 31, 2009

Karen Millen

One of my favourite stores at the moment is Karen Millen.

It's one of my favourites for a few reasons, firstly, the clothes there are really well made with good fabrics. For instance, everything is lined. You might think I sound really old fashioned for admiring this, but I've found as many companies try to cut costs, the lining of dresses & tops is one of the first things to go.
The second reason I like them is the patterns, everything is cut well, (for my shape anyway :P), there are no odd bumps or lumps. If I could make patterns like that, I would be a very happy camper... (or seamstress...)
The final & perhaps one of the greatest reasons why I like Karen Millen is they sell whole outfits. You can buy a nice dress & jacket there, but then you can also pick up matching shoes, bags & belts. The accessories aren't just in the same colour, they are well matched, often covered in the same fabric, picking up the details of the jewels or patterns used in the dresses.

Needless to say, when I was in a frantic rush to find a dress, because I hadn't had a chance to make one & was flying out to Canberra at lunchtime to go to a wedding, this store was my first & only choice.

In the pictures I'm wearing dress & belt from Karen Millen, shoes from Wittner*, bag from Target ($8 - one of the best bargains I've had all year).

*OMG the most painful shoes I have ever worn! They are not shaped very well at all & all the pressure is concentrated at the back of the balls of your feet (right near the arch). Also the toe points up a bit so you don't really have any contact on the ground with your toes. It's my own fault really, when I bought them I was in a super-hurry & wanted black patent pumps NOW, so I didn't spend the time I should of testing the comfort factor.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Now that I have my wedding dress somewhat organised it's time to move onto the more difficult terrain of dressing two of my closest friends who have kindly agreed to be my bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids dresses are so difficult. I don't like the idea of dressing two girls in the exact same outfit when their sense of style & personalities are so very different. I'm a big fan of different dresses in the same fabric or matching fabrics. At the same time I want them to both look like part of the bridal party & not just another guest. Both of my girlfriends are in their mid-20s so I also wanted to avoid putting them in a dress that made them look like they were off to a high school formal. Add to all of that a fear of imposing upon your friends or worse still putting them in a dress that they consider equivalent to a peach taffeta nightmare, & you can see why this was stressing me out more than my own dress.

Thank-fully I have been very lucky. My girlfriends have so far been remarkably patient & open-minded, the best kind of bridesmaids!). The three of us have very different tastes in fashion so it has made shopping for fabrics & selecting dress styles quite challenging, but I think we have finally reached agreement on the design of the dress.

The girls will have different dresses with a similar style. The setting for our wedding is an old mansion & gardens so the general style is still quite traditional, so we selected a couple of vintage patterns for the dresses.

Without further ado, here are the designs:

Patterns: Butterick B4918 & Vogue V2962

We haven't really decided what the decorations will be. Possibly fabric flowers, beads, crystals, who knows, but we'll find something that we all like.

Tomorrow I'll be making toiles for the girls, I'll post some more pictures when the girls try them on. Once the toiles have been adjusted I'll have to transfer adjustments back to the patterns & move on to the official dresses.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My new favourite shoes!

It was my engagement party on the weekend & because I like to wear new shoes on special occasions, I ordered a pair of shoes I'd been lusting after for quite some time now... a pair of Marc Jacobs misplaced heels.

I have to say they were worth every single penny! Yes, they felt a little weird at first but after 5 mins they were SUPER easy to walk in. Plus they looked fantastic. I love how abstract they are, I love how plain & simple the shoe is but just by moving the heel, they suddenly look like they are from another dimension.

I was also amazed at how many people, who normally never notice or comment on fashion*, were commenting on them. I think more photos were taken of my shoes than of my fiance & I, which felt kind of weird given it was our engagement party. The boys from my work are still talking about them - I might wear them again to the Christmas party just to freak them out some more!

I love these shoes, I'm so happy I spent the money to buy them, I don't care that they were expensive because they are works of art. Everyone I spoke to loved them because they'd never seen anything like it before. I think that's what makes these shoes so wonderful, in a world filled with knock-offs & 'inspired-by's, these shoes are completely fresh & original.

For me this is one of the things that links engineering & fashion for me. I love moments in both fields when somebody does something different. They turn the world on it's head, do something completely original and yet once revealed it seems so simple & ingenious, we wonder how it was that we never even thought of it.

* Most of my friends are engineers, for many of them fashion is weird thing that only has relevance in a distant world, many light years away.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Dress

Over the last couple of weekends I've spent hours & hours (roughly 5 hours counts as hours & hours right?) in bridal stores around Melbourne looking for 'The Dress'. I love shopping, I love putting on beautiful things & parading around. I thought this would be fun, this would be a great laugh. I'd try on a few silly yuk dresses to make my girlfriends roll around on the floor laughing, before emerging in 'The Dress'. I was wrong.

After my hours & hours (5 or maybe 6) spread over two weekends I was exhausted. I was sick of being belittled & treated like a child by overbearing sales assistants. I didn't want to see another puffy drop-waisted dress that used copious amounts of beading & lace to cover up bad seam lines. I was tired of being lectured about how close my wedding is & how hard it will be for them to make a dress in 4 months. If that was the case why did you even give me an appointment?! I was completely deflated.

BUT... I refused to have a complete nervous breakdown*. After the last shop, my mother, the queen of tact & timing, suggested we take a break & go look at fabrics for the bridesmaids, (I'm making their dresses). I agreed & we went to one of my favourite fabric stores in the city. Eventually we started looking through the patterns and there it was. Superb! A pattern that was very nearly the exact dress I wanted... From there things just kept rolling, it was one stroke of luck following another, before I knew it I had found another couple of patterns which I could use for modify the first pattern to get it to the exact dress I wanted! Brilliant! I knew it was meant to be when I went to pay & it was only $20 because they were all on sale! Then my darling Mother reminded me that my Dad is going to China in a week & could pick up the silk for me over there on the cheap. Suddenly I was on top of the world. I was enjoying myself again.

To celebrate I took my wonderful Mother to Bistro Vue, (my favourite french bistro in Melbourne), where we sipped Veuve, enjoyed our lunches & and got excited about my wedding all over again.

* That evening I was explaining the days trials & tribulations to a friend who in turn told me about a girl she'd been maid of honor for. My poor friend had been dragged around to dress shops every single weekend for two months, before the girl decided that the first dress she'd tried on was in fact the one for her. I'm so glad I didn't break down, my friend is an absolute angel, I don't know how she did it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


So I've been quite busy lately & have neglected the blog somewhat, but I have a good excuse. I got engaged a month ago!

The last few weeks have been drifted by in a haze of champagne & parties & we haven't even had the engagement party! Somehow though we've made an enormous number of decisions in just a couple of weeks. We've even picked a venue & booked it. The best bit is there's less than 6 months until the wedding!

Now I'm super excited because with all the big decisions out of the way, this weekend will be filled with oooos & ahhhhs as I hit the shops with my mum & bridesmaids to find a dress. I've spent the better part of the last week trawling the internet & flicking through magazines looking for dresses I would wear. Here are some dresses I've fallen in love with;

Oscar de la Renta

Elie Saab

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I promised myself...

...that I wouldn't buy anymore fabric until I'd used what I have.

I have wardrobe with quite a large amount of fabric hanging up. I have a nasty habit of buying more fabric than I will need if I go to the fabric store, or worse still picking up a couple of metres of that cute fabric that I'm sure I'll find something to make with when I get home. So I made myself a promise that I would find fun ways to use the fabric I had before buying a whole heap more.

On the weekend though I was quite innocently browsing through the Chapel St bazaar with G. & stumbled across a vintage fabric store. I resisted all the beautiful vintage 60s & 70s haberdashery fabrics that I've been dying to make a cute little pair of shorts out of and (thanks to the extraordinary price tags) my willpower held true when I saw the gorgeous 30s prints that were just dying to be turned into knee-length gathered wrap skirts a la Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. However I found when I found 2m of this vintage 50s wool for $35 I couldn't hold out any longer.

I haven't decided what I'll do with it yet. That's for later...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Purple Haze

I've made a couple of very simple dresses recently. This one was actually made with some cheap fabric that I had lying around as a practice for a pattern I downloaded. I had originally planned to make this from a nice soft lightweight wool, but wanted to check the pattern first. Funnily enough I ended up liking this one, but sometimes the full block colour is a bit much for me. I'm still getting used to wearing dresses that aren't all black or patterned. Apologies for the grainy quality of some of the pictures, I changed some settings on my camera & am trying to work out how to get back to what it was. :S

What: I'm wearing: Self-made purple dress, Zoe Wittner lace-up boots.
Pattern used: Downloaded from Burda Style - Anda #7969
Cost: Probably about $10-15. I think the fabric was about $4/m because I bought 4m to make various things. I think I used about 1.5m. The pattern cost me $3.50. I also used some black thread & a bit of interfacing.
What I like: The little bits of detailing I decided to add around all the seams. Granted this was largely because I was too lazy to drive to Spotlight & buy thread in a matching colour, but I actually think it worked quite well, particularly with the matching tie belt.
What I don't like: The stiffness of the fabric. I think is pattern is a little better suited to softer fabrics. A lightweight wool, or stretch jersey.
What next: I'm going to make the same dress in a black lightweight wool. I also saw a similar dress in Decjuba recently but the waist of the dress was defined by a braid that brought the skirt & top section together. It was a really interesting design feature & I've been thinking about how I could incorporate something like this into a top or dress myself.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick Update

It's been a while since I've posted, work has been hectic, & I've been trying to squeeze in some more ski trips before the season ends & after this week it looks like it might last a little longer!

I've been going to pattern making classes each week & I'm halfway through the course. It's been great, so far I've made a basic skirt block & turned it into patterns for 3 different styles of skirt. This week we made a trouser block & next week we are making it into a pattern. I'm super keen to sew that up, because I've never found a trouser pattern that really suits my body shape so I'm hoping that this one will be better.

I've finished a few of my projects & so will take some photos this weekend & post them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


One of my favourite days of the year often occurs August. On this day, the sky is bright blue, the air is crisp & cool, the sun is out & I first notice that all the cherry blossom trees that line the streets around my house have burst into full bloom overnight. This day always leaves me floating on a cloud. Everything is new & fresh again, things start looking cleaner, the days start getting longer & I start thinking of summer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yohji Yamamoto Jacket

This is jacket is fast cementing itself in my wardrobe as one of my favourites. The pattern was a free download from Show Studio. It took quite a while to stick all the pieces of paper I had to print out together, but once done it didn't take too long to sew - there was only two pattern pieces. Here's some pictures of me in the jacket in my messy garden. BTW No I haven't cut my hair, I just pulled the lower layers back to create a faux bob.

What I'm wearing: I made the jacket & pants myself. White FCUK stretch top. Zoe Wittner Gold Sandles. Mimco Hair Clasp.
Fabric used: Lightweight stretch satin.
Pattern used: Yohji Yamamoto for Show Studio
What I like: The draping of the satin, I like the circles & loops created as I move & how they change depending on how I stand. The natural gathering of the fabric. The comfort factor, the jacket looks so elegant & sophisticated and when I wear it I feel like I'm snuggled up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon - the perfect combination!
Cost: This is seriously one of the cheapest things I've ever made, the pattern was free & the fabric was hanging in my closet. I got about 4m of the fabric late last year, heavily discounted, I think it was $2-4 per metre. This pattern only used about 1.5-2m of that fabric.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pattern Making

I've decided to take a bit of a plunge and enrol in a pattern making course, (eek)! It's made up of six sessions over six weeks, starting next week. I'm extremely excited, but equally nervous. I'm hoping I'll learn a lot & will be able to start altering/creating some patterns.

We'll see how it goes...

A Night at the Movies

Sorry I haven't posted much recently, I've been indulging my 2nd love (skiing) in New Zealand, so posting hasn't really been at the front of my mind... In case you're wondering, the skiing was fantastic, epic even. Here's a couple of photos I took from my new favourite NZ mountain, Treble Cone.

Whilst in NZ though we went to a really cool movie theatre. Inside, instead of normal chairs they had all these cool old couches & even an old Morris Minor filled with cushions. They also have intermissions, halfway through the movie. You can order a meal before the movie starts & when you come out of the theatre at intermission, all the meals are set up on tables for you. It's really fun. The whole place had all these really funky touches too, including these dresses made out of admission tickets. I really enjoyed our night there & it made me wish for a place just like it in Melbourne.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A new skirt.

It's been a while since I've posted anything... things have been a little crazy, but I've had a number of projects underway, they should be finished by the end of the week so I'll try & upload some pics.

The first of these is a skirt I've (nearly) finished.

Fabric used: Heavy grey stretch jersey with a light yellow silk for the decorative draping.
Pattern used: I based it off a basic Butterick pencil skirt pattern (4392), with quite a few simplifications, (got rid of the zip & rear split). I also shortened it a bit.
What I like: The draping of the silk, I've been a little obsessed with draping fabrics recently, most of the clothes I've been making somehow incorporate this theme. I also like the contrast between the dark grey & mustard fabrics.
What I still need to do/fix up: I need to pick a location where the silk wraps around to, you can see it's pinned at the moment :S I'm having a little trouble balancing how much the silk sticks out at the side (accentuating my hips a little too much) with how low it hangs (because it can get trapped behind the grey fabric at the rear if it hangs too low). I'm also going to smooth out the side seams a little, there's one spot that's a bit lumpy which is annoying me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An unhealthy obsession

Nicholas Kirkwood, OMFG!

Since stumbling across a pair of Nicholas Kirkwood shoes in a magazine a couple of months back, it's fair to say I'm now obsessed. I love how theatrical, yet still completely wearable his shoes are. I love the profiles of the heels, the changes in texture & colour and the strategically placed cut-aways. In particular I really like the cut-aways at the base of the blue pair, it appears as though the upper of the shoe simply floats on your feet.

It's such a shame that they're all well over $1000....

You can see the full details

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Birthday Present (Finished)

As promised some pictures of the finished product. It looks a little ill-fitting on the bodice because my friend is a couple of sizes smaller than me & I was too lazy to alter the bodice sizing just for a photo... :S

I didn't find any buttons that I liked, so I used gold buttonholes on both sides & a scarf to do the jacket up. I liked this idea, because you can change the scarf depending on what you're wearing, or you could use ribbons or something else to tie it up, you can weave it through different ways, using all or some of the buttonholes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A(nother) New Project

I was cruising my favourite blogs tonight & found this posting from highfashiongirl loves you.

It was about a pattern for an Alexander McQueen jacket.

Aside from immediately falling in love with the jacket, I soon found out that you could download the patterns, FOR FREE! You can guess what I did next.

Now I just need some letter sized paper to print it out & I'm on my way to a super cool new coat.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rip 'em to shreds.

I've been loving a lot of shredded clothes in the latest runway shows, and for a while all I wanted to do was to start cutting up all my clothes to turn them from daggy back of the closet eyesores to 'masterpieces' of cutting edge fashion instantly.

Needless to say, I'm glad I restrained.

What I did do though, was cut up some old scraps of fabric that I had laying around. Not much of a compromise I know, but the more I've been thinking of shredding my clothes the more I've been thinking of turning them into some derivative of a weave. I wanted to get a feel for what it would look like.

I'm not entirely sure about the one on the blue floral print, but I do like texture of the cream stretch fabric with mustard silk & stretch navy suiting.

What I'm thinking of doing next: Buying some cheap loose (maybe a size or two too big) stretch tees & singlets & slashing different areas at different angles. At the moment my favourite idea is diagonal slashes starting just underneath the bust on one side & coming down to the base at the other side & weaving through some torn fabric. I like the idea of the weave slowly creeping up the top. The execution could be tricky though. I also like the idea of having the shoulders slashed with weaves draping down over the rest of the top.

I'll post some pictures of whatever I end up doing, (no matter how terrible).

Birthday Present for T.

It was my friend T.'s 25th birthday recently & I was really struggling to find her a gift. After a lot of to-ing & fro-ing, I thought the best thing to do was to make her something. I found some red velvet I had stored away & used it to make her a cute little red swing coat.

What pattern I used: Vogue V8146, with some minor modifications. The original pattern didn't allow for a lining & I'm of the opinion that coats should have linings, so I added one.

What I was inspired by: Colours & Textures of Alexander McQueen A/W 08/09.

What I still have left to do: Add the buttonholes. I've decided that rather than adding buttons (I couldn't find any I liked), I'd do button holes on both sides of the lapel & weave a scarf through & tie it in a bow. Because the colour of the velvet appears slightly different in different lights or even when worn with different colours, I really struggled to find a cotton with the 'right' shade of red. As a result, all the seams are invisible & I'll be sewing the buttonholes in a gold metallic thread. I think this will be a nice contrast.

I'll post some more pics once it's finished later this week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Polyvore Play

Had another play on Polyvore this evening to create an outfit around these cool Giuseppe Zanotti shoes.

Black & Orange Structure

You can find the full details of the outfit here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Backpack's Got Jets

Today I released my inner geek & went to the Star Wars Exhibition at Scienceworks. It was awesome to 11.

R2D2 & I

They had heaps of models there that featured in the older films & ones used in the development of the newer films. Because Scienceworks is a science museum, there were a lot of science based activities you could participate in. The engineer in me had a lot of fun building hover cars & robots & making them travel through little courses. They had the costumes from all of my favourite characters and there were quite a few people dressed up too. I had my photo taken with a life-sized remote control R2D2, which I was super psyched about. You can tell how much fun I was having from the photos, even though I look like a COMPLETE dork.

The robot I built...

Today I was wearing Saba jeans, my fav Zoe Wittner open toe boots & a top I made last weekend. It's a simple black stretch top, except for the big sash I sewed in. I really like how it hangs down, but if I make another I might make the top slightly longer as I keep feeling like I need to pull it down. I was also thing of ways to make the sash in more of a contrast colour. I'm going to try to find some fabric with a gradual colour change, so when in the areas where I sew it to the top it's the same colour as the top, but then it changes into another brighter colour... We'll see if I can find anything suitable.

I also thought I'd post this picture of one of Padme's costumes from Episode I. I really like the bindings around the lower arms & legs (and down over the shoes), over the loose flowing top & pants. I also like how they've allowed a little of the sleeve to poke out from under the bindings & hang over the hands.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Dreaming

I've been at home sick today, thinking about summer to try and will myself better. I don't think it worked particularly well, but I did make up my first 'set' on Polyvore. It was quite fun, so here it is;
Grey with touches of colour
Malene Birger necklace, Donna Karan shirt, Proenza Schouler bag, Tashkent by Cheyenne shoes & Preen shorts. You can find the full details of this outfit here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

You are beautiful.

I was browsing through some magazines at a store recently when I came across this one, Karen magazine.

The cover just struck me, what a gorgeous image. I'm particularly attracted to the colour & shape of her hair & the contrast of the blue lips (which match the letter "N" of KAREN ever so neatly. I love how clean the whole cover is with just one simple line at the base.

Inside they had some beautiful photo shoots. The layout of the magazine was also really clean & succinct. There was none of the clutter or inane headlines/comments. It was really refreshing.

I''ll stop gushing now...

Winter Warmth

It's been winter for a couple of weeks now but this week was the first with a real wintery chill about it. On Wednesday I came home from work freezing & so quickly made up this vest to keep me warm. It was super easy to make, I cut out three pieces, the front, back and a long rectangle to add extra volume to the collar and stitched them together. It took about 45-60mins. I love these super quick little projects. Here's some pictures of me being silly in the garden in my new top...

What I'm wearing; homemade pink & grey sleeveless cardigan, white Cotton On top, FCUK waisted belt, old jeans, grey Mimco Tuxedo Femme Lace-Up shoes.

Here's what I like about this top; it's warm & cosy, great for lazying around on a Sunday afternoon, or snuggling up in a movie, it doesn't have any sleeves so I can still do things & not get sleeves caught/dirty.

Here's what I think I'd do differently next time; I might choose a slightly thinner fabric so that I could add more fabric without adding too much bulk to the front.

And a close up of the shoes... My new favourites.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A New Watch

I've had the same Fossil watch for a number of years & it's now really quite worn out, I've been holding on to it for long past it's use by date because partly for sentiment (it's one of the first gifts my boyfriend gave me) and partly because I love that I can change the leather band on it to match it to my outfit. So in the last couple of months I've been desperately trying to find an appropriate replacement.

Last week I finally found something that I immediately fell in love with... A Mimco bracelet with fob watch. For years I've been lusting after the Mimco fob watch necklaces & then when I saw this bracelet I decided that I finally had to commit! Unfortunately it had sold out in stores, but eBay came through with the goods & my watch arrived in the mail a few days back.

I'm in love! It's so different to all of the other watches I saw. Granted it is not as versatile as my last leather band watch, it's much harder to wear casually & it might be a little harder to wear in summer, but whenever I wear it, all I want to do is check the time. I love opening the fob to check find out what the time will be, it's such a pleasure, though I can't possibly explain why. I love the floral engraving on the fob. I love the heavy, dull, jingly noise it makes when I get a little too animated when talking. I love the weight on my wrist. I love the compliments I get for it, but most of all I love how unique it is.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Painted Nails & Open Toe Boots

I got bored the other day & painted my toenails...

I haven't done this since I was in high school & after doing so, I thought I looked ludicrous. It made me feel a bit like a grandma living in Queensland wearing coral lipstick & matching nail polish. It's fair to say I did an awful job of painting them & spent more time cleaning my toes with a cotton bud & nail polish remover than I did painting them, but I don't think this was the reason for feeling so silly. This is strange because when it comes to my fingernails, I love nail polish, I love fussing over my nails, I love going to the manicurist to get my nails done. But I've never had a pedicure & I've never felt normal wearing polish on my toes. I think I've always been afraid that I'll get there and take my shoes off and the poor girl will recoil in horror when she sees what years of wearing ski boots & stilettos will do to your feet.

I put on a pair of socks to cover them up...

The next day I wanted to wear my beautiful lace-up open toe boots, but in a rush to get ready I forgot to take the polish off. I hated it at first, but as the day wore on I found that I actually liked the way the nail polish looked on my toes with those shoes. I certainly won't be wearing it with stilettos to the races anytime soon, but with my lace up boots it looked kind of cool. It added a touch of femininity & a softness to a pair of shoes that are very strong & assertive. I felt great. Maybe I'll give the whole toenail thing a second chance.

On another note I LOVE THESE SHOES!!!! They are perfect for nearly any occasion, thought I'm still trying to find a way to justify wearing them to work :S

They are also super comfy. I got them from Zoe Wittner and I've found most of their heels to have a really nice angle to them, making them super comfortable, as well as looking stunning. In general I've been loving their shoes lately (I think in the last year 8 months I've bought 3 pairs of shoes from there), they are really reasonably priced and they have some fantastic designs.