Month: April 2014

The Shocking Truth About The Fashion Industry #handmadeinsideout

Today is Fashion Revolution Day!

One year ago today, 1133 people were killed and over 2500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Social and environmental catastrophes in our fashion supply chains continue.

Fashion Revolution Day says enough is enough.

Lining of Liberty Art Fabrics tana lawn cotton jumpsuit
Lining of self-made Liberty Art Fabrics tana lawn cotton jumpsuit

Be curious. Find out who made your clothes — from who spun the threads, to
who sewed them together, to who grew the cotton in the first place.


frd #inside out 2

Your clothes already tell a story about who you are.
Now they can tell a better one.

frd #insideout 3


Together we can use the power of fashion to catalyse change and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. Wear your clothes inside-out to help start the beginning of an industry-wide transformation towards a more sustainable future.

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How to Spend Less Money on Food and Have More to Spend on Fabric!

Grow your own food!

Digging the vegi patch in the garden
Digging the vegi patch in the garden

Turn your garden into a mini organic plantation like we are!

Vietnamese coriander, peppermint, Sorel, sage and garlic chives
Vietnamese coriander, peppermint, Sorel, sage and garlic chives

We live on a tight budget; we like to eat organic and I have an expensive sewing hobby.


With such discerning tastes and an unwillingness to compromise on quality, we’ve found creative ways to economise!

Gooseberries and Oregano
Gooseberries and Oregano

One way has been to make our garden as organic and edible as possible!

These bushes will soon be laden with raspberries!
These bushes will be laden with raspberries soon!

Last spring we dug up a corner of the lawn and made a small vegi-patch.

Vegetable patch in corner of the lawn
Vegetable patch in corner of the lawn

It’s a humble little space but we enjoyed this kind of bounty from it every day last summer!

Summer garden bounty!
Summer garden bounty! A mix of rocket, toms, spring onions and herbs!

Tomatoes, spring onions, aubergines, lettuce, rocket, lamb’s lettuce, peppers, green beans and chilli flourished. This year we’re trying carrots, cucumber and zucchini as well.

We’re also trying our luck with some less common plants such as goji berry and peppercorn bushes and moringa plants.

We’re germinating the seeds in this mini greenhouse inside the house and then transferring the seedlings to the garden.

Seeds germinating in the mini greenhouse
Seeds germinating in the mini greenhouse

We’re novice gardeners and we’ve still got lots to learn, but we’re willing to try stuff out and we’re having fun learning how we can eat from our land!

Have you grown food? Is your garden working for you? Do you have any tips for novice gardeners like us? Have you developed novel ways to save cash to pay for your sewing hobby? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your green fingers!

Happy Spring holidays everyone!



How vomit and spilt tea got me into the world’s leading textile printing design studio (and how you can DIY your own designer prints)!

First the back story that led to this serendipitous turn of events.

It was the end of last summer and we were heading to Munich Fabric Start, an international fashion fabric-trade fair in Munich, Germany. We were combining our fair visit with the start of our family holiday because we planned to head south anyway and wanted to reduce our time on the road.

Autobahn heading south
German Autobahn

The intention was to leave before the start of morning rush hour. The autobahn towards Munich is notorious for congestion and we hoped that if we left early enough, our two young children would continue sleeping in the car, and we’d be able to cover some miles before they woke up.

You know what they say though, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ and ‘never work with children or animals’ and we were dealing with both!

Our low maintenance pooch!
Our low maintenance pooch!

Our dog was no trouble, she sat obediently in her little travel box ready to go. It was the kids who threw the proverbial spanner in the works. It wasn’t their fault, I never should have told them we were going on a trip. They were raring to go and wide awake at the crack of dawn and busy sabotaging our attempts to get ready! We ended up leaving late, instantly derailing our schedule and then as soon as we hit the road, we were gridlocked in the morning traffic.

Stuck on the hot tarmac, in the glare of the summer sun, it didn’t take long for the kids to overheat and before we could shout ‘sick bag’, both had simultaneously projectile vomited all over the car! It was well over an hour before we made it out to a service station for a clean-up, by which time the kids were screaming and our nerves were frazzled.

austria scenery

The traffic congestion continued all the way to Munich, with toilet visits, snack stops and dog-exercising breaks consuming the rest of the day. Finally, just as were reaching our destination and our arduous journey was almost over, I dozed off, exhausted from it all in the passenger seat and spilt the hot of cup of tea I was holding all over my lap!

On arrival, I grabbed the first clean self-made thing I could find from my luggage and changed in the back of the car in the trade-fair car park. At this point, it was a race against the clock as I sprinted like a maniac into the halls with just an hour to go before the trade-fair ended, not exactly the calm, collected and professional entrance I’d hoped for!

me in munich fabric start

Panicking that I wouldn’t be able to find my fabric partners in time in the sprawling labyrinth of  booths, I mistakenly hurtled through the wrong company door. Before I’d even realised my mistake, I was stood motionless, mesmerised by the wonders before me! I’d inadvertently stumbled into fabric-lovers heaven! I was surrounded by rows and rows of the most exquisitely printed Italian designer silks you’ve ever seen!

Italy's top designer silks!
Italy’s top designer silks!

Serendipity! Sometimes the universe throws you a curve ball when you least expect it!

Fortunately the Italians are a friendly sort and after a little small talk about beautiful fabrics and the joys of parenting, I wound up being invited to visit their design studio.

Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como, Italy

Situated a stone’s throw from the shores of beautiful Lake Como in northern Italy, Avantgard has been a pioneer in fabric printing for over thirty years! Since it was founded as a design studio in 1975 by Fabrizio Navarra, these printing masters have been serving the top Italian fashion designers and leading the world’s fashion trends with their unrivalled expertise in textile design.

Avantgard printing designer, Como, Italy
Avantgard design studio, Grandate, Italy

Their secret formula for success and world domination in their industry:-

– Proximity to the famed city of Como, one of the oldest textile centres in the world with a high concentration of textile designers and a tradition of working with silk;

Leopard printed silk
Leopard printed silk

– Exclusivity! With Avantgard, it’s possible to create and print a unique, one-off design on just one metre of fabric! Of course it’ll cost you a pretty penny, but these guys are about quality over quantity!

Exclusive printed textiles ready for delivery to Italy's top fashion designers such as Prada, Gucci and Roberto Cavalli, to name just a few!
Exclusive printed textiles ready for delivery to Italy’s top fashion designers such as Prada, Gucci and Roberto Cavalli, to name just a few!

– A wealth of archival designs to draw inspiration from! Avantgard started as a design studio where designs were hand-drawn on paper and textile prints were made from hand engraved screens. Over the years, the company has built up an invaluable and irreplaceable library of designs to refer back to and build on in the future;

Avantgard hand-drawn design archive
Avantgard hand-drawn design archive

– Printed fabric samples can be provided on demand, saving time and money thanks to investments in cutting edge technology and the company’s eagerness to stay ahead of the pack and meet all their customer’s textile design needs.

Digital textile printing at Avantgard
Digital textile printing at Avantgard

The company has evolved into a technically superior operation where computer generated designs are directly transferred onto fabrics by specialised printing machines that perfectly regulate coloured dyes on natural fabrics such as cotton and silk.

Digitally printed silk fabric
Digitally printed silk fabric

Oliver Dietrichs, sales manager and my guide for this tour, demystified the Italian concept of Pronto Moda for me. The general gist is: Avantgard prepares a small selection of designs for the big names in fashion such as Prada, Roberto Cavalli and Gucci to choose from. The fashion designers then select their favoured designs and get worldwide exclusivity on them, meaning the design is taken out of Avantgard’s main design collection and saved for the sole use of the fashion house. These exclusive designs are then showcased to the world in the New York and Paris fashion shows.

Everybody wants copies of the top designer prints
Everybody wants copies of the top designer prints

Immediately after the fashion shows, Avantgard sells copies of the designs with modifications to other companies because everybody wants copies of the top designer’s prints. It’s the nature of the fashion business. Computers aid the process of producing variations on the designer’s theme by enabling Avantgard’s in-house designers to manipulate images and tweak the original designs to make the copies.

Unfortunately, the services of Avantgard are beyond the reach of average wardrobe-DIYers like me! The company mainly deals with agencies – business to business only!

Textile printing
Textile printing

If you’re hankering after exclusive designer prints, hope isn’t completely lost though. DIY textile printing will be within the reach of the rest of us if the fund raising efforts of the entrepreneurial By Hand London girls gain enough traction. They’re planning to buy their own computerised textile printing machine. So go over now to By Hand London and show some love for the sewing community by donating some cash – every little bit helps – then we’ll all be able to try our hand at fabric designing!!

UPDATE: The By Hand London girls have reached their Kickstarter campaign target and will be getting the textile printer!


Perfect Pattern Parcel #2 – A Little Girl’s Capsule Wardrobe and Welcome to my new site!

Hi folks, it’s Perfect Pattern Parcel ( time again and this time the little one’s in our life are getting in on the wardrobe-building action!

But before we get to my pattern reviews, I’d like to welcome you to my new site! It’s really exciting to finally have my own domain and I’m looking forward to the possibilities that this platform offers. I hope it’s onwards and upwards!

Ok back to the patterns and what a fab selection the Pattern Parcel gals chose this time!


I have two little girls and I’m totally ecstatic about PPP#2! With this expertly curated collection of patterns, you have a complete little girl’s capsule wardrobe and what’s more, with a little pattern tweaking and imaginative fabric choices, I can see these patterns working all year round! There are wardrobe staples for everyday wear and some cute dress and blouse patterns for fancier occasions.

For my first outfit pick, I went with the Celestial Tee from Figgy’s patterns and The Hosh Pants from LouBee Clothing.

top and pants

You see my little girls are action girls. They’re always whizzing round on their scooters and bikes and so their everyday outfits of choice are pretty simple – things they can easily dress themselves in preferably without complicated fastenings (did I mention how independent they like to be!) and can wear with ease. T-shirts, leggings and jeans get the most wear – things they can run around in and cake dirt on!

Hosh pants in Liberty Art Fabrics babycord and Celestial tee in organic cotton single jersey
Hosh pants in Liberty Art Fabrics babycord and Celestial tee in organic cotton single jersey

I think the Celestial tee and The Hosh Pants fit these requirements perfectly, although I hope my daughter doesn’t cake too much dirt on these!

The Celestial tee was super simple to put together. I used an organic cotton single jersey and an organic cotton rib jersey for the neck-band. Next time I make this, I’m going to try gathering the neck rather than doing the pleating to see how it looks, but either way, I think this front detail gives the top a cute girly look. It’s a great basic that I’m sure I’ll be making again and again.

coral t-shirt and pants side view

The top has the same hi/lo hemline as the Dixie DIY Summer Concert Tee that was so popular in PPP#1 and I think it has the same relaxed vibe. I made this pattern up in age four for my three-year old and it is a bit wide around the neck but she can get away with it and hopefully it’ll see her through to next summer as well.

The Hosh Pants by LouBee Clothing in Liberty Art Fabrics baby cord cotton
The Hosh Pants by LouBee Clothing in Liberty Art Fabrics baby cord cotton

The Hosh Pants were also easy to make. The pattern suggests using light to mid-weight stretch woven fabrics so I used a baby cord cotton from Liberty Art Fabrics from my stash. I really love these pants, so practical and stylish. They’re like a skinny jean cut with nice slim legs but with enough ease to not restrict movement. An ingenious design!

The Hosh Pants waistband
The Hosh Pants waistband

They have an elasticated waistband but what really sets them apart from most elasticated waisted kid’s pants IMO is the waistband shaping. The waistband is lower at the front and the elastic is only in the back waistband piece. This dip in the front nicely accommodates my three year olds little baby Buddha belly (we can all associate with that problem, right?!) so the elastic doesn’t cut her in half which often happens with regular elastic waisted pants. The elastic section is also adjustable.

Adjustable waistband in The Hosh Pants
Adjustable waistband in The Hosh Pants

I’m a little jealous of these pants, I wish they came in adult’s sizes, I could do with a little adjustability myself these days!

I can’t wait to get going on the other patterns in this Pattern Parcel. My older daughter has already requested the Hanami dress by Straightgrain and my younger daughter wants to have the Caroline Party Dress by Mouse House Creations and I’ve got a pair of the bonus shorts pattern cut out, ready to be sewn up. I can see I’m going to be kept busy!

All in all, this is a great set of patterns, so don’t miss out! This offer is for a limited time only. You snooze, you lose my friends, so head over to now!

Please leave a link in the comments below, I’d love to see what you make from PPP#2!

Happy sewing,




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