Sunday, 15 October 2017

A holiday in the outback


I have just returned from an incredible holiday with my family in the very remote outback of Western Australia (WA). There is not a lot of sewing or fashion to discuss here as I took my oldest clothes. That red dirt gets into everything and doesn't come out!

WA is huge, about a third of the size of the United States or covering several European countries, and I have only travelled a very small part of it, despite living here most of my life. It was time to change that and explore this amazing state.


We hired a big 4WD Land Cruiser built for the outback, complete with rooftop tent and built-in fridge. The route took us north from Perth, camping overnight in Mt Magnet and Newman and arriving in Karijini National Park after 15 hours of driving.

The roads were very quiet apart from the road trains, which shook the car as we passed them.


I had expected the landscape to be very boring, but it was actually quite amazing and beautiful. There were hills and massive termite mounds and ever-changing vegetation and flowers, like this native Mulla Mulla.


Karijini itself is spectacular. The landscape is peppered with massive gorges, formed over millions of years. This was teen boy paradise and I almost stopped breathing a few times watching my sons scampering over terrifying precipices!


This is Dales Gorge. Apart from the lookout and maybe a railing further down (if you're lucky) there are no safety features in the gorges. You have to negotiate the steep paths, narrow ledges and cold water yourself. I loved it, but it is certainly not for everyone as you need to be pretty fit and very sure-footed.


This is Circular Pool at Dales Gorge. Beautiful, but absolutely freezing, even on a hot day!


We stayed four days at the Karijini Eco Retreat campsite and visited six gorges in that time. This is Joffre Gorge, quite difficult terrain, but stunning.



The bottom of the gorges were quite flat, but there were parts where we had to cling to rocks to get through.


This natural amphitheatre was just amazing. The air was filled with the loud screeching of cockatoos, which were nesting in the rock walls. My 14 year old climbed the waterfall while we rested. He came back with his eyes shining, telling us how this was the most spectacular experience of his entire life. My husband was not surprised as he had just been thinking the same thing!


This is Hancock Gorge, another difficult one, but the rock ledges were a huge hit with the boys. I loved it too, but my husband had to turn back at the 'Spider Walk'



This is the Spider Walk:


We spent hours in each gorge, climbing, walking, swimming, picnicing and exploring.


Kalamina Gorge was much easier to negotiate and was very pretty:



After four days in Karijini, we drove west towards the coast for six hours along a hot, very remote stretch of road. I willed the car not to break down the whole way. You would not want to be stranded out there. We stopped for the night an hour outside Coral Bay at Bullara station, a working cattle station with a campsite.

This place was absolutely fantastic. Such a lovely, quirky campground made with tin and old equipment from the station's shearing days. Check out the showers and 'lava-trees':


They were all different. This one rained lovely hot water, heated by a fire. Bliss to finally wash off some of that red dirt.


The resident, tame, young kangaroos were a big hit. This one came up and nuzzled my hand.


After a lovely morning tea under the wide verandahs of the Bullara homestead, we continued to our next destination of Coral Bay. This small town has stunning white sand beaches and you can snorkel the amazing Ningaloo Reef right from the beach.


The area is home to all manner of marine species from whales, to sharks and rays, turtles, sea snakes, poisonous jellyfish and a myriad of colourful fish. Of all these things, the jellyfish worried me the most as some species are so small they are almost impossible to see and people are killed or hospitalised every year from their stings. To reduce our risk, I made full body lycra suits with hoods for the whole family before we went. I am not going to show the boys in their full glory as I'm sure I would never be forgiven. Suffice to say that we looked hilarious (especially me and my husband), but stayed safe and were protected from the sun!



A walk along the beach from Coral Bay took us to this Reef shark nursery. We stood in the water while metre-long sharks, large rays and the occasional baby shark swam all around us. Incredible! Reef sharks are considered safe and attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Look at all these sharks in the water with me:


We did a boat snorkelling tour while we were there, which was fantastic. We saw loads of fish and coral, sea turtles, dolphins and even a sea snake, but the highlight was swimming with a 3.5m manta ray.



From there, it was time to make our way home. First stop was Wooramel, another working cattle station and campsite with natural hot springs. These 33C pools were pure bliss.


This was our camp set-up for the trip. It worked out really well, but the roof tent was a bit of a hassle to put up and down.


We had everything we needed, even a coffee machine for our morning latte. Here I am brewing up a cup on the propane stove before we left Wooramel for a long drive down the coast to stay at Jurien Bay, then home.


This was a unique and incredible 12 day trip that the whole family loved and will remember forever. I just wanted to keep on travelling, but I would have missed my sewing room after a while. In total we travelled 3400km, which is the same as the distance from Perth to Melbourne. 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Named Earth Science Collection - Beryl Bomber Dress


This was, without a doubt, my favourite pattern when I first saw the new Named Earth Science Collection. I was a pattern tester for this, the Beryl Bomber Dress, as well as for the Gaia Coat (review coming soon). I love how unique this dress is and the cool, casual vibe of the pattern. The lightened photo below shows some of the features including the bomber jacket style ribbed collar, the elasticated waistband and cuffs, big pockets, front zip and slit at the hem.


The sleeves are integrated into the front and back yoke, which is another lovely feature. I made a mistake on this version and cut the back yoke in two pieces instead of on the fold, so had to insert a 'design feature' to cover the error. I was already adding more topstitching than the pattern indicted, so I think I got away with it. The little tab on the back yoke is also a cute feature of this pattern.



I made this dress from non-stretch denim in a medium weight. I like to cut patterns out with absolute minimal fabric wastage and found the fabric requirements in the pattern to be spot on, which was great. Parts of this pattern were a bit tricky, but the instructions and diagrams were very good.


The denim was possibly slightly heavy for the style as the front doesn't sit quite flat below the front yoke. The layers of fabric in this area were quite thick as I used very sturdy ribbing for the collar in addition to the thick denim. I could also have done with wearing a more supportive bra, but I was in a hurry to get the pictures done! I think in a softer fabric, this would not be an issue. Otherwise I love this dress. It feels completely comfy, cosy and very stylish. It is so refreshing to see a completely different style of dress pattern and this one is right up my street. Definitely check out the new Named collection for some other unique designs.


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Tessuti Yuki Dress


This is my first time making a Tessuti pattern, but I couldn't resist the Yuki Dress. It's just the sort of dress to wear when I want to eat a big lunch and feel completely comfortable! Having said that, I could probably have gone down a size from the Medium as it is a bit roomy. 

 

What drew me to this pattern was the neckline, which has a funnel style piece gathered in at the top with a drawstring. The dress itself is a simple cocoon shape with side seam pockets.


I made the dress with a thick, spongy, wool blend (I think) from the Morrison sale. I used blue and black printed knit from a $5 remnant bag from Potter Textiles for the neck and a twisty drawstring I found in my bag of strings. Since this is a winter dress, I made a Nettie Bodysuit to go underneath and added some of the remnant fabric to the sleeves. I also made black Virginia leggings to complete the outfit.


It was difficult to photograph this black outfit on a dull day, but you can just about see the details.


I really like the simplicity of this pattern and it was very quick and easy to sew. I thought the instructions were good too. The dress, although slightly big, is so lovely and cosy to wear and I love the overall effect of the contrasting neckline and matching bodysuit sleeves.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Go big and bold or go home!




I have finally made up the third piece of fabric that I had custom printed by Contrado UK. This print is from a painting by my Mum of a Western Australian Eucalyptus species called 'Flat Topped Yate'.

'Flat-Topped Yate' by Chris Oxberry

The pattern is the Named Inari Tee Dress, which I've made many times before. I chose Contrado's cotton-linen 228gsm fabric for this dress and ordered a print size of 140x100cm. This worked out well to accommodate the sewing pattern with minimal waste. The print quality is beautiful and the colours were reproduced very accurately. The fabric is a nice quality and the perfect weight for this dress.


I had chosen not to mirror or repeat the print this time, so it's huge! I spent quite some time deciding which side should be the front and placing my pattern very carefully to avoid a large anus in the back!


I think I just about got away with it!


Once that was decided upon, everything went very smoothly. I have made this enough times that I now have two sleeve pieces traced for this pattern: the original one which is perfect for knit fabrics; and a wider one for wovens to allow more movement. I left off the sleeve cuffs as I decided it looked too busy and also made the front a bit longer in this version of the dress. The neckline is finished with bias binding.



I love that the dress is different from every angle and that on this side the pattern almost matches. I'm not quite sure how that happened.


I am really thrilled with this dress. The colours and print worked out just as I imagined and I couldn't be happier with the quality and service from Contrado UK. I would love to try out some of the other fabrics from their huge range. I'm thinking bomber jacket....

I have so enjoyed the process of fabric design. It has pushed me to be a bit more creative, while still being completely achievable using the fabric design website. I can recommend it!


It is so lovely to have a dress that is completely unique and that reminds my of my Mum every time I wear it.


My other projects with Contrado custom-printed fabric were a bathing suit and a completely different dress. The post I wrote about the dress also has some info on how I designed the fabric and kept costs to a minimum.

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