Category Archives: Dressmaking

Healing with art and craft: Turning a cooking failure into a treat: Sewing with certified organic materials: Nature at its finest; Colombia

Hello everyone, here I am with a few snippets of interest to share with you once again.  Before I start a post I always ponder over different articles I have read, ideas that inspire me, projects I have undertaken and all matter of other things, hoping you will be able to pass some pleasant time reading those things that interest you.  
First I‘m going to start off describing an article I read in a recent copy of Spin Off, the art & craft of spinning yarn (an American magazine).  Lynne Rule became a paraplegic some 8 years ago and with the help of her husband has founded the Healing Fibers Foundation.  She says there was little she could do to fill the gruelling days and endless nights.  It was then that her concerned husband remembered that she used to knit.  He purchased every needle size he could find along with bundles of yarn and gave them to her for Christmas.  From that gift the beginning of Healing Fibers emerged.  The mission of the organisation is to encourage those who are ability-challenged, those struggling with illness, whether physical, emotional, mental or stress-related, and caregivers to use traditional fibre arts as a means of non medical therapy, focus and relaxation and to aid in the ability to be productive.  She says so may times these people are overlooked or minimalized when they have so very much to offer the world.
I was really quite overwhelmed by this article, the whole details of which are too long to précis here, but what a wonderful concept and one which I think we could employ if we see the need.  
For more information you can go to their website which is truly amazing:
Turning a cooking failure into a treat for Ken
I bake bread each week but l decided I would make a sourdough starter for a change in addition to the usual mixture.  The starter fermented well over 4 days so I thought a fruit loaf would be nice for a change.  The loaf looked magnificent
but o’h dear it was so gluggy and didn’t improve much with toasting.  I couldn’t bear to waste it so ‘ding’ I came up with the idea to give Ken a real treat.  Back in the dark ages, mmmm 1953, Ken was in training for his National Service in the Army and when he came home on leave his Mum always sent him back to camp with a bread pudding in a tiny suitcase.  He tells me he kept that suitcase for years as it still had the aroma of the pudding and brought back so many memories.
OK, back to the treat.  Of course over the years I’ve made bread puddings but certainly not recently.  If you’ve made one yourself you’ll know you don’t need to use a precise recipe and you can use any type of bread you have to hand.  In case you want to have a go here’s a rough guide:
1 large loaf, preferably fruit, but you can add more fruit
as required. The bread can be white or wholemeal or a combination.  
Soak the bread in sufficient water to cover.  Leave for about half an hour then drain off the water and squeeze to mash.  It will be quite wet.  Add additional dried fruit at this stage.  If you use plain bread then probably about 200g will do though more or less doesn’t matter.
Add 140g light brown or raw sugar, zest of a lemon, good pinch of mixed spiced and cinnamon, 100g melted butter and 2 beaten eggs and stir to combine.  Line a large oblong tin with baking paper and pour in mixture.  Bake at 180C for around about an hour but check after 40 minutes to make sure pudding isn’t browning too much.  It should be firm to the touch.  Leave to cool, sprinkle with some white sugar and cut into squares.  Best eaten warm (not hot) or very yummy cold.  
As you can imagine Ken was very happy even more so when he tasted the pudding:
The pudding keeps well in the fridge.  There’s no way it can be eaten all at once !!
Sewing with certified organic materials
I love sewing with certified organic materials and I’m prepared to pay that little bit more knowing that the grower of the fibre has been certified by an independent authority.  Some time ago I purchased some Australian made certified organic jersey knit from Bloom Fabrics in Melbourne
It’s been sitting in a drawer for some time but when I was given a beautiful skein of wool as barter for a felt hat I made for a colleague in my spinning group, I knew it would compliment the dress I was intending to make by way of a belt and cuffs for the sleeves.  This weekend I got started on the project and true to form I experienced the presence of my dear Aunt Helen who taught me to sew and always insisted that preparation was the key to success.  Hence the material being jersey it was necessary to stay-stick all the edges.  I was a very good girl and reluctantly followed Aunty’s instructions after which I lay out the prepared work with the crochet of the belt to see the effect.  I think it’s going to work well.
Way back  in November 2012 I included in my post a little about my Aunt Helen and the big part she played in my life during my youth so thought today I would include a link to one of my short stories THE INTERVIEW telling how she helped me make an outfit for a very special interview. Of course some of you may have read this story before.
Nature at its finest: Colombia, biodiversity and the power of nature

This is a story that you don’t expect to read when someone mentions Colombia.  It’s usually about drugs isn’t it, so when I came across this article while participating in a Spanish language course, I was truly amazed.  When I mentioned its contents to Ken he gave me a funny look because he sometimes has the opinion that I’m ignorant of the wonders of the world.  Well, he has a vast knowledge of the south americas, being very interested in fauna and flora especially bird species, so I’ll leave him to his scepticism about me !!  


Encompassing 314 different coastal and continental ecosystems, Colombia holds within its borders the richest complexity of ecological, climatic, biological and ecosystem components imaginable.

Colombia is a country favoured by its natural resources, the variety of its geography and diversity of its ecosystems. It has a great variety of mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, plateaus, valleys and savannas. There is also a considerable number of streams, creeks, rivers and lakes in the country, which contributes to its thriving biodiversity. Ecosystems, species and genetic diversity together form the complex concept of biodiversity that is vital to the survival on this planet. Behind Brazil, Colombia is the second-highest country in terms of biodiversity, home to more than 56,000 different species, 16% of which are only found within the country’s borders.

Covering only 0.8% of the earth’s surface, Colombia hosts 18% of the 10,507 known bird species and around 60% of the bird species found in South America. With nearly 2,000 different bird species, the nation is the first in the world when it comes to the number of bird species. It is also home to 479 mammal species, 534 different kinds of reptiles, 763 amphibians and 3,435 different types of fish. There is an estimate of 300,000 species of invertebrates in the country of which only 10 to 20% have been studied. Among them, we can refer to more than 3,273 kinds of butterflies, 900 types of ants and more than 7,000 different classes of beetles. Among those species exclusive to Colombia we can name the American flamingo, the Andean condor, the Andean poison frog, the harlequin poison frog, the indigo capped hummingbird and a number of colourful monkey species and some incredibly beautiful butterflies.

Within Colombian borders, there are more than 40,000 different plant species. Again, it is the number one country in the world, considering the astonishing number of different species of orchid flowers: 4,010 different species to be precise. There are also more than 230 different species of palm trees and even some species of colour-changing flowers.

Colombian biodiversity is at risk, with around 1,500 species reported to be on different levels of extinction risk. This is caused mainly by urbanization and overexploitation of natural resources. These blooming ecosystems may seem permanent, but they are actually susceptible to collapse.


I’ve come to the end of my post for this time.  I hope you are all enjoying pursuing your various projects and activities and because it’s Spring here in Australia, I’ll leave you with this quote:
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms


Making instant friends, Gain knowledge, Felting, Dog training, Quick stain removal

Making instant friends

It’s amazing how instant friendships can spring up.  A couple of weeks ago I was out walking the dogs when they introduced themselves, as they do to anyone who will give them a pat, to a couple of cyclists who were admiring the beautiful costal scenery along the cliffs to Kilcunda (South Gippsland, Vic.).  Gray and Leslie Hodge introduced themselves and our conversation developed as we chatted amiably about the area and our shared interests.  It’s amazing how much information can be imparted in no less than 10 minutes or so.  Gray and Leslie were over from Tasmania enjoying a cycling holiday which is their passion.  They told me of a cycling holiday they had in France where all the equipment you need is provided.  I must say that’s a great holiday idea, imagine cycling through France.  If you are interested visit at:

Eventually I waived goodbye only to catch up with them 15 minutes later as they were again admiring the view further along the cliffs.  We started chatting once more and before I knew it I had an invitation to visit them in Tasmania.   Here’s a photo of ‘brand new friends’

Leslie, Gray and Janice

Leslie, Gray and Janice

Since Leslie and Gray’s return to Tasmania we have shared e-mails and their invitation to visit has been renewed.   They have a sign writing business located in the most beautiful landscape in Tasmania:

IMG_1097 IMG_1116


Gain knowledge with a Learn and Share Program

I’ve previously mentioned my local Neighbourhood Centre (Mitchell House & Harvest Centre, Wonthaggi) where you can access a wide variety of courses.  Neighbourhood Houses began in the 1970’s with people coming together to share their knowledge and skills with each other at low or no cost in a process called LearnShare.  LearnShare recognises that throughout our lives whether working with our hands, our head or our heart, we all acquire valuable knowledge and skills.  As part of the ongoing process of lifelong learning we can all learn something new or share what we know.

This week I offered my knowledge of vegetarian cooking in a LearnShare program.  It was a great experience made even more rewarding by the enthusiasm of the participants.

I would urge you to seek out your local Neighbourhood House to enjoy good company, learn new skills or volunteer to share your own experience.

You can join Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre on Facebook or e-mail them at:  [email protected]

Felting projects

In my blog of 2nd February 2016 I talked about the project I was undertaking making a felted jacket from wool my friend Olga brought back from Chile.  At one stage I thought I had taken on more than I could chew.  It’s one thing having the idea of what you would like to do and actually putting it into practice.  Once started I realised that the jacket needed to be lined, another challenge.  Olga found a length of lining in a local Op Shop for $2.00;  a great bargain.  The project is now a reality and whilst by no means perfect in every detail, Olga now has a very unique reminder of her trip home.

Here the jacket is modelled by “Doris” my dressmakers dummy.  It has a zip-up front which is not visible in the picture.

Felted jacket

Felted jacket

I still have wool over and hopefully one day will manage to make a jacket for myself.  I’ve made up a couple of sample panels though I don’t think it will be quite as elaborate as Olga’s.  We will see.

Training your dog

Sophia my little terrier met up with her doggie boyfriend Oscar yesterday at the Powlett River. They had great fun running on the beach and scampering in the sea.   Oscar is becoming very responsive to a training whistle – he has a tendency to investigate the bush and sometimes doesn’t return for over an hour.  Sheri, his owner, told me that with the aid of this recently acquired  whistle and a treat he now returns promptly.  Truly amazing as in the past she has had an hour or so wait for him.  She used it during our walk when Oscar periodically went missing, so I saw the results in action.  I checked out Rufus and Coco Dog Training devices on the internet at  so you might like to have a look for yourselves if you have a need for this idea.

Sheri also uses a Soggy Doggy Drying Blanket when she gets Oscar back to the car.  I really must get one of these for Sophia as she often needs a rub down after a walk or swim and it does save a mess in the car.  Again I looked on the internet where there are various companies offering these blankets at different prices.

Here’s Oscar in the back of the car accompanied by his mascot, being dried after a swim with the Soggy Doggy Blanket.



Quick stain removal chart

Thought I would share this chart I recently came across on Pinterest.  I’ve already made use of it a few times:

   How to remove one of these stains:

      GRASS               –        VINEGAR

    RED WINE          –        WHITE WINE

    GREASE              –        SODA

    BLOOD               –        HYDROGEN PEROXIDE

    OIL                   –        WHITE CHALK

    COFFEE               –        BAKING SODA

    DEODORANT         –        DENIM

    SWEAT                –        LEMON JUICE

    LIPSTICK              –        BABY WIPERS

    INK                     –        MILK

    MAKE-UP                       SHAVING CREAM


I’ll sign off for today with a quote I saw posted on a blackboard at the hairdressers I use:


I think we all have a lighter step when we leave the hairdressing chair;  I know I do.




Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Hello everyone.  I have lots to chat about so here goes.

Recently I came across BLOGLOVIN which is a platform that allows users to read, organise and discover their favourite blogs on mobile and desktop.  You can easily find blogs on any subject in which you have an interest.  I have been inspired by the creativity of people especially the dressmaking and crochet blogs which provide so many ideas and in many instances free patterns to download.  My eyes pop at the possibilities.  Of course some of you may already subscribe to Bloglovin but if not here’s the link:

Update on my crochet and dressmaking 

I’ve been continuing to enjoy the weekly meetings with the group of ladies who crochet, knit and chat about all manner of things.  The envelope purse I was making morphed into a small bag to carry my crochet hooks and pattern book.  I’ve since made a cushion cover which I have to say left a bit to be desired in shape.  The ladies of the group suggested I enter my “bag” in the local show in the Beginners Section but I’m somewhat reluctant.

Joining a group at your local Neighbourhood House or Learning Centre is a wonderful way to get to know people and learn a new skill.

I’ve finished the two piece I was sewing in Peruvian Cotton and am reasonably happy with the outcome though I did make a mess of the shoulder seams at first.


Milton Film Club – do watch the film they produced

Ken recently received a newsletter from his film club with details of films that had been made by various clubs around the country.  I selected one which I’m sure you are going to really enjoy showcasing a ukulele-playing group of women from Milton-Ulladulla, NSW Australia, with a sense of humour and rhythm who enjoy just jammin’ with their ‘ukes’ and having a glass of bubbly or three.  Apparently some of the members were a little hesitant about making the film, especially in regard to the personal clips, but they bravely went ahead and you can see the result here.  They call themselves CHOOKS ON A HOT TIN ROOF.



Ken’s latest video

Ken’s latest video is a reminder of how we used to travel way back in our past.  We can both remember standing on the platform waiting for the train to take us to London.  It came thundering along like a huge monster belching and hissing steam before finally coming to a stop.   We also remember as children standing on the bridge over the railway line waiting for the train to pass under and envelope us in steam.  It all seemed great fun in those days.

At Coal Creek Community Park and Museum in Korumburra (120km south east of Melbourne) you can ride on the Count Strzelecki Steam Train and take part in other activities.  I submitted the video to the Museum and received a notification that they were so impressed that they were going to include it in their web site.  Watch the video and enjoy the experience.


Whilst waiting for Ken to do his filming of the train I popped into the General Store in the village where they sell all kinds of sweets packed in the old fashioned way together with other goodies.  One of the things that took my fancy was a small pack of recipe cards which the lady in the shop told me were reproductions of recipes of cakes and breads made every week by a volunteer for over 30 years and served in the cafe in the village.  Here are 4 of the recipes that I have tried and which turned out really well.  You will be amazed at the simplicity:


250g plain flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbs baking powder, biutter

METHOD – Mix flour, baking powder and salt, slowly adding water until mixture is stiff.  Make into small cakes and fry slowly in butter (5-8 minutes each side).  Serve with honey, jam, molasses or golden syrup for a real bush treat.  The flavour is greatly enhanced if served with Billy Tea.


1 cup mashed potatoes, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dried fruits, 1 cup milk., 2 cups self raising flour.

METHOD – mix potatoes and sugar into a cream, add the fruit, mix well then add the milk and flour gradually.  Put into well-greased sandwich tins and bake in a moderate oven for half an hour.  When cool ice lightly and sprinkle with coconut.


METHOD – Mix 1 cup plain flour, 2 tbs grated cheese, 30 gas butter, pinch salt, mustard, cayenne, squeeze of lemon juice and a little water to combine.

METHOD – roll out thinly, cut into fingers, cook in a very hot oven.

* I sprinkled the fingers (and twisted them) with black pepper.  They turn out like cheese straws.  Very yummy.


Place in a saucepan 125 gms butter, half cup sugar, 1 cup mixed fruit.

METHOD – crush 250gm arrowroot biscuits then mix with boiled mixture.  Press into greased tin.  Cover with lemon icing.


A new member of the family

Last week we adopted Ferdy, a fox terrier/x, 8 years of age from Save-A-Dog at Malvern, Melbourne.  We have been looking for a companion for Sophia for some time without success.  Apparently small dogs are very popular so it has been quite a search.  We took Sophia to introduce her to Ferdy before making a decision and they got on really well from the first sniff.  Ferdy is a little over-weight so has had a hard time keeping up with Sophia when we go out walking but I think he has already lost a little bit of his fat.  He likes a lot of attention so we are being really careful to make sure Sophia is top dog.  I think it will all work out well.  Here’s a photo of them together:


I received the sad news this morning that Josephine, the lady I have been visiting in the aged care facility, (Community Visitors Scheme) is fading fast.  Recently it has been very difficult to communicate with her due to the strong medication she has been prescribed which makes her sleepy.  Jo is only one year older than I am which is very sobering.   During her lucid days we were able to chat about our youth in the UK as we came from more or less the same area.

For Josephine

For Josephine

Volunteering in whatever field you choose is very rewarding.  If you are interested contact your local Council or search the internet.

Interesting people

Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet up with Noelen Lyons who is a Genealogist and Family History Researcher also a Cemeteries and Local Area Historian.  Although she is a very busy lady she has promised to give me a little of her time to have a chat about her work and hopefully give me a few snippets I can pass on to you all.   Her moto is:   To know who you are, you have to know where you came from

Buddhist Prayer

In closing off I would like to share with you this Buddhist prayer:





Until next time


Getting ready for Christmas, Crafts, Good company, a recipe and trips

Getting ready for Christmas


We say every year we can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas.  I wonder how many of you have made your puddings ready for the big day.  I made mine some weeks ago and as customary Ken and I stirred the mixture and made three wishes.  We always take photos and I think perhaps I should put together a montage of these photos from over the years, though this could prove a little confronting observing the passing of the years.

I always make a few individual puddings so they can be enjoyed later in the year usually at Easter and on Ken’s birthday in June.

Gingerbread houses:

For the past 11 years I have made gingerbread houses for the grandchildren.  Last year I produced 14 little houses ready to be decorated.  This was because I had three additional people in the group, the two sons of my daughter-in-law and the girlfriend of my eldest grandson Nicholas.  Even at 20, Nic still wanted to decorate a gingerbread house.  I did receive help in glueing up the houses as my granddaughter Emma came to stay for a few days.  With much soul-searching I have decided to discontinue the tradition this year, though I am going to make two large gingerbread houses for decoration by my three granddaughters.  It’s a little sad 😥  but they grow up.  They all agree it will be one of their important childhood memories, decorating the gingerbread houses ready for Christmas.

If anyone is interested I would be happy to supply the gingerbread house recipe and template.

Crochet and Sewing

Recently I have been going along to a crochet class at my local Neighbourhood House.  It wasn’t quite what I expected as many of the ladies attending were knitting or doing other crafts.  However, with the help of Elsie Hope, who fronts up the group, I have started to master the first steps on my way to be able to crochet, a skill in which I was sadly lacking.  I’m making an envelope purse but not sure how long that will take.   My new sewing machine has proved to be a gem and I am very pleased with the dress I completed a couple of weeks ago.  I feel inspired to keep sewing but the reality is that there are only so many dresses you can wear so will have to curtail my activities a little.


First efforts at crochet

First efforts at crochet






The dress worn on a day out with Olga during visit to Jan Huggins

The dress worn on a day out with Olga during visit to Jan Huggins

Enjoying good company

Nothing beats a day out with a good friend.  That’s what I was able to do a couple of weeks ago when Olga and I went in search of gifts she could take home to Chile when she visits family and friends in December.  We shopped ’til we dropped, had lunch and afterwards visited Jan Huggins for a cuppa and cake and a nice long chat.  Jan and I met when we were in hospital at the same time having hip replacements and have kept in contact ever since.

A salad recipe for entertaining with Hokkien Noodles

Packet of noodles, 4 spring onions chopped, 1 red capsicum sliced thinly, 100g snow peas sliced, 1 small carrot sliced.  Pinch of mint and coriander.  100g roasted cashews.

Cover noodles with boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain.  Combine all ingredients.  To make dressing you will need to whisk together 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbl olive oil, 1 tbl lime juice, 2 tbl soy sauce or kecap manis, 3 tbs sweet chilli sauce.  Pour dressing over salad just before serving.


Update on trip to Printing Museum at Chiltern

In my last Blog I wrote about our visit to the Printing Museum at Chiltern, Victoria.  Ken has now produced a video documenting how a local newspaper was produced up until the 1960’s.


Sailing on the Enterprize – Melbourne Tall Ship

Sailing on a tall ship has been on Ken’s bucket list for a long long time.  He was able to fulfil that dream last week when he took a trip on the Enterprize.  I have never seen him so excited.  I have to say I didn’t share his enthusiasm so stayed on dry land.  He enjoyed it so much he intends to take another trip during December.  He’s in the process of making a video so will upload that next time.


Ken, ready to set sail

Ken, ready to set sail


I would like to send get well good wishes to my friend Joan Blain (UK), who has been in hospital for some time.  Joan suffers from MS which has necessitated her staying in hospital for some months after falling and breaking her ankle.  I hope you will be home for Christmas Joan.

Especially for you Joan

Especially for you Joan

I hope you are all enjoying pursuing your different projects and learning new skills.  Here is a Chinese Proverb for you:









Dressmaking 30/11/12

Hi everyone, with Christmas in mind I decided to make a dress for the big day. Dressmaking, or in fact any type of sewing, can be really relaxing and creative especially if you have plenty of time. There are not so many material shops around now where you can source first class fabric. Last year, whilst searching the internet for something special, I found Bloom Fine Fabrics and Trims. They supply Peruvian Pima Cotton which is prized the world over for its exceptional softness, brilliant lustre and strong staple along with other organic and European materials. To date I have purchased three lengths, one a beautiful jersey and just recently some Pima Cotton for my current effort. Although the Pima is $20/metre it is 150cm wide so my dress has cost me $35. You may like to have a look at the site for yourself and be inspired. I will put a link at the end of this post.

I have always sewn my own clothes from the time my Aunt Helen helped me make an outfit for a college interview when I was 15. In those days we used a Singer Treadle Machine and when my Aunt’s sight became poor she donated me with the machine which I used for at least 10 years. That machine could tell so many stories as Auntie had made my mother’s wedding dress on it, all her own clothes, curtains and furnishings and I continued the tradition. As a child I remember standing by her side whilst she made Christmas Stockings. Do you know, whenever I start sewing, Auntie comes a calling. I hear her advice in my ear; everything had to be done perfectly.

Recently I bought myself a dressmakers dummy. Afterwards I couldn’t think why because I have managed for all these years without one. It was one of those spur of the moment things. I have called her Doris and she had her first fitting today:

Doris being fitted with the Pima Cotton dress

Doris being fitted with the Pima Cotton dress

Here is the link for Bloom Fine Fabrics

Bloom Fine Fabrics and Trims