LA thrift to proof-of-concept

The last day we were in the USA, we were loitering around LA before boarding an 11pm flight home. We spent about three hours in the sublime Museum of Jurassic Technology and a block or two away was a Goodwill. With a burning desire to use up my last USA paper money, I launched into the half-price sale therein a determined woman. I bought a huge, tent-like rayon shirtdress, 1980s I think, in an almost tropicale but slightly naff floral print. I didn’t try it on. It was way too big, but had pockets and a buttoned placket down the back of the skirt. For four bucks, I could do something with it. If nothing else, I could use it as a proof of concept.

Imagine my delight when I got home and tried it on. Prepare to be dazzled!

Gaw-geous, right? *shudder*. I’ve seen so many dresses just like this and thought, that could be reworked, but who can be bothered? Here’s what I did – you tell me if if it was worth the effort.

1. WASHED it to rid it of traces of previous ownership. Stain remover on a couple of spots.

2. Removed the big ugly pocket on the bodice.

3. Took off the skirt. Added extra darts to reduce the waist diameter of the skirt.

4. Added six darts to the bodice front. Evened up the bottom of the bodice where it had stretched out.

5. Reattached skirt, gathered the back and inserted a strip of elastic in the back waist seam.

6. Cut off sleeves. Made thick bias strips from them and attached them around the armscye like a cuff.

7. Sewed up side bodice seams, taking it in a couple of inches each side.

8. Reattached a button and sewed up the bottom of the front placket where it gaped a bit.

And lo! Whatcha think?

I reckon:

  • Fit is good, and why didn’t anyone tell me rayon was so damn comfortable to wear?
  • Pity about the placement of those two yellow flowers on the bustular area.
  • That print is still a bit naff.
  • The modifications weren’t that hard.
  • I think I like it.
  • Maybe it’s time I got a better camera.

Blogging royalty

It’s not every day that you get to meet sewing blog royalty. Before I left for this USA jaunt, I made a rather forward proposal to Peter of the fabulous Male Pattern Boldness that if he happened to be in the garment district this week, would he be amenable to showing a visiting Aussie from whence the fabricular bargains could be obtained? Lucky for me, he was gung-ho for such mischief.

We met at the FIT Museum for a peek at their exhibition of fashion design classics. What an amazing resource for students and seamsters alike. Uncouth colonial that I am, I set off the alarms twice by leaning in too close for a gander.

Next we went to 39th St which is full of fabric shops, cheek by jowl, that cater to fat wallets and cheapskates alike. Proclaiming myself firmly of the latter camp, Peter took me to a few of his cut-price favourites. I loved seeing old friends – like the pink fake fur of Cathy’s coat, Peter’s cherry-coloured leopard-print jeans, and genteel roses of Cathy’s strapless gown – all still on the bolt! Why did they not sell out after being showcased on MPB? A mystery to me. I’m sure Peter could earn commission for his efforts to turn bargain yards into couture!

I bought some tailor’s chalk and three yards each of 2 African wax cloths with large lurid pints in acid colours (one even has giant men’s shoes on it) and some 40s-style barkcloth. Here’s a peek of them posing with the man himself*:

*um, sadly just a pixel-Peter brought to you by the magic of the Union Station Apple Store. I was too dazzled to remember to take a real picture.

It was so much fun to meet Peter, who is as delightful as you’d expect from MPB. And as for tips from a New York native? Priceless. I can’t wait to make frocks from my haul when I’m home again in May.

Coast to coast

Chaps, I’m in Seppoland. The US of A. Tis grand fun. Right now it’s NYC, but before then was San Francisco. I feasted my eyeballs at the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at de Young which was a heady mix of costume, wit and incredible skill.


This dress had buttons embedded in vertical pintucks. Ingenious. And where would we be without some scandalous (not really) garments inspired by blood and guts? The skeleton corset on the right was astonishing.


I left wondering why do we wear such booooooring clothing most of the time? When we, especially those of us who make out clothes, can wear anything we can imagine? I thought Melbourne was famed for its wearing of black but here in the NYC springtime, every second person is wearing a dull but practical black coat. Except a woman yesterday who had a sky-blue, full skirted overcoat that had me contemplating whether a mugging was in order…

Haberdashery of the world

I mentioned that I am off to the USA soon. Make that in-one-week soon. Huzzah! And eek, for I am not ready!

I haven’t been in the land of the Seppo since 2005. I expect it will be much the same but with more iGadgets and less George Bush. Anyhoo, I’m keen for seamstery destinations in SFO and NYC. Those great cities are on the itinerary, for sure. And you can count on me getting a happy snap of the sculpture marking the NYC garment district! I’m dying to see FIDM too.

What are my must-sees, internets?