Tag Archives: lifestyle

Delftware Dress

I had first used this 1957 Vintage Vogue pattern (V2903) to make a Queen of Hearts costume for my sister. I finally had the time and cash to attempt a more wearable version.

This pattern takes 6 metres of fabric, that is a lot, especially when you have a very small working space. I used a quilting fabric because of the beautiful design, which reminds me of Delftware plate motif.

Delftware (Wikimedia Image)

Being quite short, I ended up using only around 5m, as I cut the length a foot shorter, even before hemming. If like me, you find cutting the pattern a most tiresome activity, ready your forearm muscles for this beast. It is 8 large, long pieces, plus facings. Nevertheless, it is really quite a simple sew.

One down side of this pattern is the sleeves, as I learnt first time around. They were designed for a Vogue model, and are only suitable for sitting at a dinner table or standing in front of the sink, no reaching or waving allowed (a lady in the 1950s probably wouldn’t engage in such uncouth behaviour). Needless to say, I left the sleeves off this incarnation. 

1950s Delftware Dress

I added the embellishments of ribbon trim and a button as it is otherwise quite plain. I also wear a tutu/petticoat under-skirt underneath to fluff it out to a truer 1950s style. I didn’t iron in the pleats of this dress, because I quite like the looser flowing feel.

All things considered, I would use this pattern again.


Filed under Sewing

To Market, To Market

I went to the Brisbane Markets in Rocklea today for the first time in a very long time. They are recovering very well after the floods. After my poor experience with seedless lemons, I felt the need to find some vegetables which retain some semblance of being a plant once upon a time. 

I had the aim of only spending $20 on fresh veges, but went a bit off track.

Brain flowers

Does anyone know the name of these flowers? I usually just call them ‘brain flowers’. Will have to google this one.

Dragon fruit

I’m not sure if people outside the tropics get this one but I love it. The best description I could give of its flavour is it tastes like fruit. Nothing too overpowering, along the lines of grapes and apples. When I was in Cambodia I lived on dragon fruit as it was so cheap there but can be up to $9 a kilo here.

Sweet basil

apparently there isn’t just ‘basil’. It comes in all sorts of flavours. Overwhelmed, I just took the genus I recognised, as the others seemed to lend themselves more to Thai cooking than Italian.

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig, Home again, home again, jiggety-jig


Filed under Creating

Hip to be a square

Growing up, we didn’t use pot holders to take things out of the oven, we used tea towels. This, of course, resulted in many burns and the throwing of trays onto the bench.

I decided to make pot holders a few years back as a practical way to preserve handsome fabrics (I’m not a quilter). I have now realised that they are far more protective than tea towels against heat, are charming gifts, distinctive kitchen decor, and can be used as large coasters to absorb condensation from beer-steins or cold containers.

Patchwork and Christmas

I use fabrics from deconstructed ‘failed’ sewing projects, and scraps I have lying around.

I cut two squares of the fabric and lay them right side facing each other. I place several layers of wadding on top and sew around 3 ½ edges. I have yet to experiment with binding tape. I then choose a pattern to sew into the middle to flatten it out.

Handle for hanging: Pin long fabric or ribbon between right-side facing fabric pieces before sewing edges. Sew both edges if hanging on a hook. To be slipped through an oven handle, sew one end, make a button-hole on the other end and sew a button in place.

Heat Mat


Filed under Sewing

Old Faithful

Whilst baking some cookies today, I stopped for a moment to admire the baking powder. I couldn’t tell you the brand name, only that it hadn’t changed it’s label since I was a kid. It was the brand my mother used, and so it is the brand I use. The more I looked around the pantry, the more I found these gems.

The right stuff

 The curry powder that looks like it came from the East India Trading company. The soy sauce that might have arrived on our shores in the gold rush. The spread and biscuits that have since been bought by American conglomerates, but occasionally retain a hint of their origin.

They are the nameless products who lack swish marketing departments (or have intelligent ones). When sending someone to do the shopping, I can’t communicate what I want. It comes out something like “Not those dates you got last time, the ones in the normal packet from the good place”. I have lost ‘my brand’ when they have changed packing before. 

In addition, quite frankly and superficially, I just love the old packaging. I dislike slogans, and captions telling me the benefits of this, or the new efficiency of that. Call it nostalgia, call it vintage tastes, but the simple lettering advising what’s inside is a relief from the information advertising overload of today’s stores.

This is flour. This is butter. This is milk. If you don’t know what to do with it, have baked beans. No, not that one, the one in the normal tin.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creating


When I moved into my current rental, they have lace curtain in the kitchen. I love lace, but these were stained, moth-eaten and tattered. We have one of those post-war houses which are so common in Brisbane. It could be kitsch if it weren’t entirely cream with lino and chipboard throughout. In an effort to put some personality into the place, I whipped up some simple curtains which I think look pretty spiffy.

Curtains really can be so simple to make. Unfortunately, I think the cost of decent fabrics, the trend towards ceiling to floor windows and the effort to wash them, means fashions have moved towards blinds. However, I find curtains less sterile and can add more unique style to a room.

I cut a thick, stiff, cotton fabric 1.5 times the length of the windows across and about 6 inches longer. If I did them again, I probably would have cut them twice the length to allow for more gather when they hung. I hemmed all four sides of the squares using a rolling hem, then pressed over the top edge enough so that the rods would be able to fit through and sewed it down. I simply used some regular ribbons as ties.

Here’s a picture:

Lessons learned:

Trim the loose threads before taking photos

Consider how much gathering you want before cutting. Curtains need a significant about of overhang to be effective.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sewing

Not Chelsea Buns

Today I set out to make some Chelsea Buns. about half way through I realised I has the wrong recipe and what I was making were Fruit and Nut Scrolls. Pretty similar really, but I don’t get the fun part of smishing them all into a cake tin.

Being a Women’s Weekly recipe, it was pretty hard to ruin, which is useful because I changed most of the ingredients. 

Aside: I substituted apricot jam for Rosella Jam. Up until a month ago I though one could only buy Rosella Jam at a church fete. However, when doing some Christmas shopping I was very excited to stumble upon a jar in Oxfam, and have been very anxious to bake something with it. Oxfam’s is smoother than something a god-fearing granny might make, more gelatine and processing I imagine, but the flavour is satisfying.

I would describe the result of this recipe as damper with stuff in it. This is really quite perfect as I was supposed to be camping today, and would probably be eating damper if Queensland wasn’t such pluvial state.

This recipe also has cloves in it which is a spice I have a particular weakness for (though Paprika is still number one). I added in some Cinnamon, as my instincts feel cloves and cinnamon get lonely without each other.

Here’s a picture:

Fruit and Nut Scrolls:

Dough: 3 cups SR Flour, 2 tsp castor sugar, 50g butter rubbed in, 1 1/3 milk, kneaded and rolled out to 26 x 36 cm rectangle.

Filling: 1/2 cup currants, 1/2 cup sultanas; 2 tbs slivered almonds, 1/3 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp rum, 1/4 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle filling across dough and roll firmly. Chop into 2cm medallions and bake in hot oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Glaze: Heat 2 tbs Rosella jam with 2 tsps water. Brush onto scrolls as soon as removed from oven.

1 Comment

Filed under Baking

Trinkets and Bric-à-brac

When I was 11 I went with a friend to an activity day at her new school, Ipswich Grammar. I loved the beautiful and historic grounds. Two things from this weekend stick in my memory. The first was learning how to pretend to faint (fall from the feet, not the head). The second was creating a wishing box. We decorated and painted little paper mache boxes with all sorts of Bric-à-brac, and inside put a little note book where we could write our wishes.

Over time, I would put little trinkets and mementos of significant times in my life into this box. It has become quite a congeries, with items ranging from my baby hospital bracelet, pebbles and bells from my childhood, to foreign coins, dice and bottle caps from my teen and adult years. I also wrote down my hopes in the book. Unfortunately it turned out the book guaranteed they wouldn’t come true.

For some time, my little time capsule had been chockablock. I finally bought a large paper mache box and covered it with scraps of one of my favourite fabric remnants. I used PVA, which isn’t the best for fabric, but did the trick. I now have enough room for another 25 years of memories (and broken wishes).



Filed under Creating