Wednesday, 23 December 2015

What is (slightly) old is new again.

I'm not one to throw out clothing, I am a hoarder. I hold onto things for dear life and when it comes to cleaning out my wardrobe I can't help but think 'But I've had it for so long!' 'I'm sure I'll wear it again sometime'. This is one garment I have never gotten rid of (obviously :P), I bought it from Target about five or six years ago and have worn it constantly and I guess it must have been made well because its in pretty good condition despite being worn many, many times. I like the colours, the fit, the fabric in nice and it's an easy to wear, classic shape. I'll probably wear it until it falls apart or the fabric fades to nothingness. 

Do you have any clothes you just can't let go of? Or clothes that even after years and years you still fall back on? 

Alecia xx 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Tutorial: Preserving simple vintage patterns using packing paper

I think that as someone who sews with vintage patterns regularly there is an intense fear, a fear that YOU are going to ruin this pattern. This pattern may be older than your mother, father, grandparents. It may have been through a world war, seen the invention of the TV, the cold war, the moon landing, Watergate, the dismissal, dial up internet and those hideous baggy jeans of the late 90s that made you look like gumby. It may have been through all of those things, perfectly preserved and my worst fear is that I, yes I will be the one to destroy such a beautiful piece of history. 

*you can also do this if you want to trace something off a multi-size pattern without cutting it*

So here is a cheap, easy way to preserve your precious patterns so that you will never have to be that person and you can pass on the burden of guilt to whoever the pattern is passed onto next.

Here are the steps

Step one: Get yourself some packing paper or butchers paper. Basically you want something large, square (in terms of corners) and easy to make marks on. I got this from Bunnings, I'm serious. It was really cheap and there is lots of it. If you are in Australia you will be able to find a Bunnings somewhere, they're everywhere. If you don't live in Australia and don't have Bunnings, it's basically a hardware, gardening, outdoor furnishing, building and craft supplies heaven. 

Step two: Lay your pattern out onto the paper, you can either line up your pattern on the edge of the paper on the 'cut on fold' line, or do what I've done and line the top up with the top of the paper and use the square sleeve bit to line everything up. I did this because I wanted really nice sharp lines. This pattern piece is the back of the dress which reaches up to about shoulder blade height, the front piece wraps over the shoulders to meet it.

Step three: Weigh the paper down and start smoothing it out. You will notice that my pattern has a tear, this was here when I bought it. In my copy pattern I am drawing this bit in so it is like it never happened. 

I don't have any suitable paper weights so I am using a jar of lolly pops and a set of colouring in pencils, because you know, sometimes you just have to make do.

Step four: As you can see the whole pattern piece does not fit entirely on one piece of paper. You can skip this step if your pattern piece fits on your paper perfectly.

Step four (cont.): Smooth the paper out nicely, you want it as flat as possible

Step four (cont.): Eyeball the hangover, in this case it is a significant amount, but not larger than another piece of paper. In this case I will only have to add one piece of paper to finish the pattern. 

Step four (cont.):  Weigh the paper down at an anchor point and pull the excess pattern over onto itself so a portion of the existing paper is shown. I used my phone and some pens to weigh it down but if you have gentle pattern weights it would be a good idea to use those. I would warn away from anything too heavy, hard or sharp for the sake of pattern preservation.

Step four (cont.) : Tape paper pieces together on both sides of joins. You can now pull your pattern back and smooth it out. 

Step five: Smooth everything out. Make any minot alterations that you need. In this instance I turned up the hem once because this pattern was extremely long on me. 

Step six: Draw in all lines and markings with a pencil that shows up on the paper. Here I am filling in the piece that was torn. 

Step six (cont.): When it comes to complex lines and markings I like to pull the paper back slightly, mark, pull it back further slightly and mark etc, then connect markings into lines. Make sure you transfer all relevant information from the pattern piece onto the paper. This includes any markings, notes, the name of the pattern, pattern piece and the grain. This will make it easier for you in the future.

Step 7: Continue with all pattern pieces until you are finished. These patterns are more durable and you can mark and alter them as you like, making life a bit easier. If you want you can also photocopy the instructions, however I usually find that the instructions stay stronger for longer so this is not always necessary. Although I would advise it if they are fragile or very old.

You are now all done and your pattern is preserved. I would not recommend this tutorial for complicated patterns and would highly recommend the use of digitisation or the use of grid paper (more expensive) or a light box. 

I hope you all find this somewhat helpful and I hope you all are having a fantastic holiday period
What is your own personal method for preserving simple patterns? what about complex patterns? 

Alecia xx

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Finding time for the beautiful things in life: being kind to others and yourself

Climbing the rocks at the beach (shoes on because it was winter when this was taken)

I've been struggling a lot lately, its not so easy to admit. I always wanted this blog to be more personal than it is, I always wanted to post more than I do, but I've struggled finding the right words and the right balance of the sticky-icky deep parts of my soul and the person I want to be. I haven't been well lately, mentally or physically. I think my own personal obsession with perfection has consumed me to a point where anything less than perfect is not worth doing and if I can't be the best then what is the point. Exams are a very taxing time for me, in fact the whole academic year is, I give up my favourite parts of myself to achieve something I've wanted for a long time. Going in for the long haul I guess, but this gets interrupted by the little voice in my head telling me to go hard or go home. Do better than everyone else in my year for my degree, get into honours, get into masters, get the job I've been waiting for my whole life, maybe do a PhD. Part of me believes that if I don't achieve the very best then I am nothing. But isn't it ironic that the degree that I'm doing is psychology and that the job I am aiming for is to be a clinical psychologist. It's so hard to work on yourself and be objective, but then again isn't that why jobs like that exist? Because no matter what, sometimes we need someone objective to help us look at ourselves in a new way, to help us move past personal trauma and deal with mental illness. 

In addition to this I have been struggling with chronic migraines, I get one at least once a day or every second day. They can last for hours or days. Its not easy to sew, study or be interesting when so much of your life is taken up by agony. I had an MRI done and I am so lucky and feel so blessed that nothing obviously structural was found, so although I may be in pain at least I know that my brain is okay, which makes me feel so lucky. I can deal with chronic pain, I have a high pain threshold and have been dealing with it for years through a bunch of different chronic disorders or deformities so I am no stranger to the effect it has on my life. I try to keep positive and although I may never be completely free of pain, mental or physical I've found it helpful to find time for the beautiful things in life, whatever they may be. 

  1. Finding time to listen to the sounds that I love: The sound of my mother walking up the stairs, the sound of my dogs footsteps on the floor, her name tag 'chinking' on the edge of her water bowl when she drinks or the sound of her 'happy talking'. The sound of my partner when he jokes about not bringing me a tea when he has one behind his back. The sound of my father coming home from being away. The hum of the train, the gentle crashing of waves at the river, the sound of rain.
  2. Taking time for me: Running a bath, putting some classical music on (or 90s/early 00s trashy pop if I'm feeling like it), lighting some candles, making a pot of tea and laying back into a sea of bubbles. 
  3. Keeping spiritual: Although I am not religious I find myself quite a spiritual person, I find immense beauty in many different religions and try and base my life on key principles of being kind, being open to others, giving care to those who need it and pushing away the darkness in the world with light. 
  4. Remembering the good in the world: It can be so disheartening to constantly turn on the TV and see bad things happening and it can seem like the easiest thing is to ignore them. One of my favourite figures at the moment is Susan Carland, an awesome and extremely intelligent Muslim academic who donates $1 for every mean spirited tweet she gets to UNICEF, which I think is the coolest way one can respond to hate, as of October she raised about $1000 which when put into perspective is 1000 mean tweets from 1000 mean people.  It is also helpful to remember this quote “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” - Dumbledore. 
  5. Remembering all the things you have achieved: I am a survivor of sexual assault, of PTSD and extreme depression, I battled scoliosis and had a curvature exceeding 60 degrees which absolutely crushed my self confidence and self worth, I battle and still battle to this day with pain despite having surgery, my body didn't get the memo and seem to be trying to pull my spine back into its old position (two titanium rods ain't gonna let that happen though). Three years ago, after my surgery I learn to walk again, found muscles that hadn't been used in close to ten years due to the way my spine twisted and bent (like a corkscrew). I missed out on most of my schooling from year 10-12 and ended having to drop out because of chronic undiagnosable stomach issues mixed with a whole lot of anxiety.  Despite all of this I eventually made it to university, which I feel is one of my greatest achievements. Walking into campus on my very first day made me feel so proud and so lucky. I had spent years confined to my bed or the lounge room and taking my steps into uni felt like winning the lottery and knowing that did it on your own. 
  6. Being present: Being present is so hard these days, we are either looking back or looking forwards. Mapping your life out can be good and is necessary. So is looking back, looking back gives you perspective and helps you understand your situation and yourself much better. However, you must always be grounded in the present, I find exercises like these help a lot, whether you are anxious, feel detached like life is moving too fast or find your mind 'floating'.  Being present and grounding yourself in the 'now' can be such an effective tool for many people to use and it helps me a lot with my anxiety. One of my favourite grounding things is to go to the beach, to climb the rocks and feel the grooves and ridges under my feet, to squish my toes in the sand and feel the water dance up around my ankles. Smell the salty air which smells like home and to breathe it deep into my lungs. Counting the waves as they roll in and the creatures nearby.
  7. Be your own best friend: Just like the song by Beyonce. Remember to be good to yourself, to believe in yourself and your worth as a person. For some reason as a society we encourage self loathing, you're not allowed to say you are good at something or that you love yourself as a human being, or that you are happy with something you have done without being looked at as boasting or being narcissistic (narcissism is much more than someone being proud of something they are good at or being at peace with their appearance).  
  8.  Be kind to the people you love: This is pretty self explanatory, you never know what life has in store so give extra hugs, say those extra "I love you's",  forgive easily for those who deserve it (definitely not encouraging forgiving someone who hurts you, because that is not love). This extends to family, friends and animals...pretty much anyone whom you have a strong connection with. It is not always easy as we are human and we are all emotional beings whether we internalise it or externalise it. It doesn't always have to be a large spectacle, running a bath for your significant other, making someone in your family a cup of tea unexpectedly, remembering the little things such as when their favourite TV show is on, friends birthdays and little 'I'm thinking about you' reminders when life seems to run away from you
No matter how frequently I post or how terrible the content is, just know that I am thinking of you all and hope you are all well. 

Alecia xx

Monday, 5 October 2015

A couple of weeks ago my partner took me to an exhibition opening at the Apropos Provisional gallery in Subiaco. He loves contemporary photography so this what quite a evening! Free beer, juice and wine is always welcome in my books. We had a little walk through the streets admiring the street art (it's truly fabulous in that area) and I internally praised the street artists from staying away from all the lovely old buildings. Whenever I see someone vandalise (or street art) on an old building the feeling I get is akin to what Uma Thurman feels in Kill Bill when she sees an enemy (sirens and red tinge included).  It was a lovely exhibition and I would highly recommend going to Apropos if you enjoy contemporary art, photography, art zines or books and new records. 

Bag: Vintage from the Vinnies
Sweater: Review : similar
Skirt: Forever New : similar 
My face when I realise someone has been watching me from a car.....

Alecia xx

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A very bookish obsession

Some recent literary acquisitions of mine. I've been weak at the knees for special editions lately and cannot stop myself whenever I see a beautiful book. Here are some of my favourites...

Do you have any weaknesses when it comes to books?

Alecia xx

Thursday, 23 July 2015

A very thrifty adventure: episode 1

One of my favourite things is thrift shopping. It's the thrill of the chase that makes it rewarding, sometimes you come up empty, sometimes with things you don't need, sometimes with things you want and sometimes with absolute gold. My favourite section is the craft section. Something about the piles of old paper knitting and sewing patterns plus the old nick knacks. It's a collection of things that remind me of my nanas. Plastic knitting needles, that white lace with the pastel rainbow thread. 

On my latest trip I went to the red cross. I've always found that the red cross has the best collection of craft and I could spend hours there. Here is what I got! 

Stichcraft N. 335 - 20c 

Cozy jumpers!

"Poodle with an air of chic" - classic! 

Yep, thats not just a pineapple cozy, thats a pineapple COFFEE PLUNGER cozy. No longer will your coffee plunger be jealous of your teapot! 

Fabulous mid century advertisements

Patons 532 -70c

I bought this mainly for the shawl cardigan

Womens, mens and children....with POCKETS

20c - Straw bags, hats and hair accessories

So many bags! 

I spent just over one dollar on this trip and I am pretty pleased. 

Alecia xx 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Pattern Round-up McCalls Early Fall/Autumn 2015

You know what time it is! I haven't done one for a while so I thought I would show some of the patterns in the new McCalls collection.

The Archive Collection

M7190-Tunic, belt and skirt

This is something quite cool and different from the other archive collection patterns provided by McCalls. I imagine someone holding a cocktail party wearing this while waltzing around the family room passing canap├ęs and champagne around to all her fabulously dresses friends and having a fabulous time.

M7184- Misses and children's skirt and top 

I am dying from all the cuteness of the matchy-matchy outfits. I love the adult version and think that both the shirt and the skirt would be awesome pieces for a vintage wardrobe. However I thin the children's version is just the cutest thing I've ever seen. I mean look at that kid, look how fabulous she looks!

Learn to sew for fun!

M7198- Shorts and pants

Dammit these pants look comfy, they're stretch! STRETCH! Also loving the late 90s SATC meets Myer catalogue chic. Kudos to this lady for pulling off a sleeveless turtle neck, thats no easy feat.

M7202- Cape

This looks so warm. Its winter in the southern hemisphere and dammit I could totally go for a cape right now. 









M7197- skirt

This is a bloody cute skirt! She looks so happy! "LOOK THEY PUT ME IN SOMETHING THAT FITS" (Just kidding McCalls, you're not that bad!) I would be so excited too if I got to wear that fabric.

M7205- Top

 Not bad! I do dislike it when they use a busy print that makes the finished product look drastically different from the line drawing. I want to be able to see the details in the top and not spend minutes wondering if thats a princess seam or a part of the fabric pattern.

M7194- Top

This looks insanely comfortable. I'm not sure about the crotch flap bit, I'm a messy eater and I can't even imagine the food stains from missed bits of dinner. However there are non crotch flap versions (YAY!)

M7185- Dress

I love this wrap dress! Its rated easy (yay!) and comes in a pencil version (pictured) and a gathered skirt version (not pictured) with either 3/4 or short sleeves. Cool and versatile, I think its fabulous, although I think I would feel a tad sell conscious in a wrap dress with a high front split


Cute but not revolutionary this is a good basic dress for wintertime.


I love this dress, It looks comfy, sexy and flattering.


A cute 60s styled dress with a straight, gathered and pleated skirt options plus pockets, tabs and short/sleeveless designs. Its a cute option for people who love the mod fashions of the 1960s. I'm not hugely into that era, however I think this is a gorgeous dress ( I love tartan). 

M7204-jacket, coat, dress, top and pants

I love this jacket. Look how elegant that model looks! You get a load of options with this pattern and could make a whole wardrobe of basics. I would buy it for that coat alone. She is killing it! 


Keyhole detail so your friends can annoy you by poking you with their cold hands


Somebody at McCalls is really into these front droopy panel bits. 


Show off your mad zip skills with this one


10/10 would buy. I can see this tucked into a pencil skirt or high waist wide legged pants to play up the vintage vibes. 

M7203- Jumpsuit

Not going to lie, jumpsuits confuse me. How do you get in? How do you get out?

Alecia xx

*All of these photos were taken from the McCalls pattern website and are not mine. All of my opinions are my own and if you like something I don't like thats okay! If I like something you think is awful thats totally okay as well :) *