365 days without shopping!

Let's be honest girls...we buy too many clothes. This year I have decided to put an end to my constant clothing consumption and re-invent, re-work and recycle my own wardrobe and the wardrobes around me. I will only wear clothes made by my own hands, exchanged / borrowed from a friend (or friendly stranger) or salvaged secondhand. And so starts my good fashion choices, even if I'm only making them for myself.

Friday, December 31, 2010

No New Years Resolutions Here

Happy New Year Everyone! Has it been a whole year already? ‘Far out Barbie!’ I hope you are all relaxing and enjoying some time off!

While this is a great time of year to be reflecting on the year that’s been and look ahead at the year to come, I can’t help but feel I’ve been a little lazy this year and am hesitant about sitting down and writing down some goals. I tend to start projects all guns blazing, peak too soon and run out of puff quite quickly. This is particularly how I feel towards this blog. I think I’ve spent more time staring guiltily at my keyboard, imagining myself tapping passionately away at it’s keys, than actually sitting down and nutting it out. I’ve also been avoiding questions from friends that start with ‘How’s your blog thing going…?’
Although I have sewn more than I ever before…written reams more than in previous years… and organised swap events that have raised money for charity… OH and I did go a whole YEAR without buying new clothes!
            What am I talking about? I have been good this year! I got married, finished uni and set up a home. I even bought a second-hand wedding dress for crying out loud! I also managed to sell it again, only yesterday, to a beautiful bride up the north coast who loves it just as much as I do.
            I think that maybe by the second half of the year this project had become lifestyle and didn’t seem like such a sacrifice or blog worthy news. I think my first goal for this year is going to be cutting myself some slack and just keep striving for what I’m passionate about, regardless of what the results might look like short term. I will be doing a little clothes shopping though. But I am by no means dying to run out to the shops and buy a whole new wardrobe. In fact only the other day I was doing a massive clean out of my wardrobe and still thinking I had way too many clothes, even though I haven’t purchased any new ones FOR A WHOLE YEAR!
            Thank you to everyone that made doing this project so fun and inspiring! Special mention to my resident sewing-fixer-up-er-er: my mum, Kristy Rigg, Aziza Green, Karina Hancock, Joanne Yan, Georgia Lee, Kiara-Ra-Ra and of course my incredibly lateral thinking husband, who thinks my most banal ideas are pure genius!

I will continue to post sewing projects and updates as they come, as long as they don’t interfer with my no. 1 goal for this year ;)

Much love and I’ll chat to you soon,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flower Girl Dress

Like a delicate winter snowflake or precarious spring butterfly, a flower girls’ dress lasts but one day. This is, I think, part of their charm. And so I searched every fabric store in the city, to find the perfect matching fabric for this miniature dress (I may have wanted to create a mini-me, just for a day). I ended up finding the French lace in a remnant bin at Tessuti fabrics and was rather chuffed with myself.  I got to the counter and the lovely sales assistant was so distracted by my ring , she undercharged me by quite a bit. When I tried to interject her praises, I was cut off by stories of when her daughter got married. Not a topic to be interrupted! Needless to say I practically skipped all the way down Reservoir street. 

With the little piece finally finished (it’s rather difficult to do fittings on a three year old as it turns out) I couldn’t wait to show the ‘princess’ herself –Georgia Lee. The night before the big day I finished off the covered buttons, pressed it and hung it on a pink, satin hanger (or my mum did all that, I can't remember) all ready for the big reveal.
On the morning of the princess arrived a little late and abruptly announced (whilst holding her aching ear), 

‘Mummy, I don’t want to get married today!’


I was convinced we weren’t going to get her down the aisle. Her usual giggly demeanour, had been taken over by sobs and scowls. That was until, we put her in the dress. She went from this...
To this...

In the time it takes to say silk-satin, tulip skirt!
Sorry I don't have a very clear picture of it for you. As flowers and handbag and Bride Barbie and Groom Ken, had to go with us everywhere.
Next up...The Wedding Dress!
Photos courtesy of Andrew James Photography

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Kitchen Tea/Coffee Date Dress

Why must we always do this to ourselves? We have an important event coming up, which of course justifies a new outfit. So we drag out our sewing machines, blow the dust off and away we go. With the lofty aspirations of the innocent we trawl the net for patterns, select that 'oh so perfect' fabric, lay it out and introduce it to our scissors. We bask in our own cleverness, imagining the complements we will receive when we spin the line 'Oh thanks I made it myself'.  Then we sew for our lives, right up until... that insurmountable snag!
     It could be a sizing issue, a pattern piece missing or a zipper that just won't zip. But low and behold 'that' moment happens, when you reach for the quick-unpick (yet again) and your arm spasms! You think it's just a cramp until you look down at the rest of your body and it to is convulsing, in the manner of a small petulant child, when it doesn't get it's way. 

Am I speaking to you? Or is this just me in a crumpled heap on the floor?

I don't know why (okay maybe i do) but every time I set out on a project I seem to overlook:

a) my skill set
b) my available free time
c) my sewing machine's capacity
d) every past project I've ever made

  I made this dress (featured above) for my kitchen tea, from the famous Burda Coffee Date Dress pattern. I was still sewing it as the first guests arrived bearing cellophane-clad goodies.  But it's okay, everything turned out alright in the end, except for the zipper, which no-one notices anyway right? 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two Shoes

I bet you thought I'd died or something right...?

Well between work, study and planning a wedding I think I almost did!
But I'm back in business and can't wait to show you all what I've been up to.
First up are these too cute shoes I have embellished for my flower girl. That's right, not only am I going to sew, swap & salvage my way through this wedding but I'm taking the bridal party down with me! 
I had some left over crystals from the bridesmaids shoes and knew the extra bling would go down nicely with the little 3 year old princess. The only problem now is I have to stop myself from eating them, they're so darn cute! I have put a tin of French mints next to them, just in case.
much love,

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Engaged!

I'M ENGAGED!!!!!!!!
And getting married very, very soon! Did someone say winter wedding?
As I sit here writing this the temperature is literally dropping and I can't quite fathom how or where I'm going to find/make winter knits, leather boots or some non-stinky, vintage fur. But then it dawns on me...
I have to find a wedding dress!
Do I have time to make one? Will I go secondhand? Does anyone have a spare dress they would swap?
Ohh heck...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I was selected!

Well I did it! My skirt was selected to go on the catwalk at the Melbourne Stitches and Craft Show
I'm going to ignore the fact that only 17 people entered and hold my head up high while I post off my creation to be judged by the sewing world. Thanks to everyone who voted for me, I know it wasn't a straight forward process ;)
Now I just have to wait till May for the results...arghhh.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Formal Alligator Skirt

Well it's FINALLY here! The skirt I made for the BurdaStyle/ Tessuti Fabric competition. I did make it in time for the 2nd of April deadline (barely) and with the help of my usual peeps (mum, boyfriend, even my dad tried to help me take photos) it's up online for all of the Burda-world to see. I have already received nice comments (the sewing community are so lovely). 
I was aiming to create a quirky twist on the classic marie skirt, making it  out of Tessuti’s textural ‘Formal Alligator’ fabric. The pleats have been reversed to create a triangle shape and to move the bulk of the fabric away from the middle. Then two ‘bow-tie’ pieces were pattern-made to fit into the front waistband, continuing the line of the pleats. The shape of the bow-tie mimics the raised texture of the fabric whilst steering clear of the overused, classic bow shape.
Have a look at http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/the-formal-alligator-skirt

Friday, March 26, 2010

I hope I vwin!

Well, I've certainly never blogged about a project I haven't started before. But I was so excited I had to tell you all. I am making a ridiculously fabulous pencil skirt for the Tessuti / BurdaStyle competition to win fame, glory and perhaps a truckload of fabric. In my world fabric is a HUGE deal. I know I'm leaving it a little late as always (the deadline is April 2nd), but I needed to con my boyfriend into taking me to Surry Hills to get the fabric before I could get going on it. Did I mention I also have two assessment tasks due for uni and a few public holiday hours worth of pay to earn? Oh boy...stand by!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nudie is better than Nude...

As a long time fan of Swedish denim giant Nudie Jeans, I have religiously and rigorously conformed to their 'code of denim', all in a bid for the perfectly kept pair. Yes, under their strict instructions I have; gone without washing them for six months, kept various shaped instruments in my pockets in order to create the perfect 'wear marks' and of course patched them within an inch of their life. I have collected 5 pairs over the years which have served me well and are still in high rotation in my wardrobe. As they age they mold perfectly to the body and start to feel like soft felt. There really isn't any other piece of clothing like a pair of jeans. Nor any other piece I would spend so much money on, or get so much wear out of. Nudie even have a blog devoted to the the 'living denim'.

These days I have become somewhat of an expert at repairing them thanks to my boyfriend, who quite frequently waltzes through my front door swinging a plastic shopping bag, containing one or two pairs and calls out 'Baby I've had another blowout!'
Now I'm not going to go into physics behind why guys wear through the crotch of their jeans quicker than girls, but suffice to say that 'someone' sat me down one day and very carefully explained why. So now I have no qualms about repairing his jeans whenever they need it.
If you would rather repair than replace, here is how to fix (and hopefully prevent) jean blowouts:

1) Using a good quality denim (an old pair of jeans is perfect) cut a suitable sized patch for the hole and surrounding area (that might have weakened).
2) On the inside of the crotch sew the perimeter of the patch while holding the hole closed. Then sew up and down the patch over and over again in the same direction until the hole is covered.
3) If any of the other quadrants are weak, reinforce them the same way you did the one with the hole (believe me eventually it will need it anyway).

Happy Sewing
P.s - Yes if you look at the photo carefully you can see that this is the 2nd time I've repaired this particular pair!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kiara the Cat


Now here's a fun tale,
a sweet little piece.
Of a chirpy young girl,
my bold, pseudo niece.

Some say that she's fiery,
some say she's got game.
But one wink and a smile
and she'll have you tame!

Our story begins 
in a land far away.
Somewhere near Europe,
some call the UK.

Off to Reception
little Kiara did go.
In this land overseas,
'it's a cold place you know'!

This day of all days
 the one she did share,
 was none other than the
world famous 'World Book Fair'!

Did she go as an Alice,
a fairy or Pat?
She went as 'Cat in the Hat'!

Handmade project by Shannon Clements.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Swap Till you Drop!

The first Sew Swap Salvage event 'What's Yours Is Mine' was a hit on Monday night with 20 women of all shapes and styles swapping there wardrobes away while raising $300 for Shirelive's annual REACH fundraiser! Here is what one discerning swapper had to say:
'Just wanted to say thanks again for putting together what turned out to be an awesome first clothes swap event. I really love my new black jeans and was thrilled that i found something to take home. It's funny - i was so sure that there was nothing there i'd like but as soon as i started looking for things for other people i found a couple of things i wanted!' - Vanessa (24)
Vanessa told me she'd been on the hunt for some jeans for a while and was willing to fork out heaps to find some that fitted. It just goes to show you; there is a relevant alternative to shopping.
I myself snapped up some gorgeous sundresses, a leopard scarf (which I literally haven't taken off since Monday) and a dinosaur designs style necklace. But my highlight by far was finding a 70s print skirt with a matching shawl that was a fellow swapper's, mother's going away outfit (from her wedding)!
That's what I love about swapping events, you get to hear the stories surrounding the clothes and see all your old pieces go to good homes (where they will be loved and not shoved in the back of a wardrobe).
Special thanks goes to Freddy Choo, marketing manager for the Salvos Stores who donated the clothes racks and Meylia from Bali-stick restaurant in Kensington, for doing the catering.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fashion Week across uni campuses everywhere!

Laptop - check...petrol in the car - check...lecture room number - check...coffee - double check...thermals - bring just in case...

Like clockwork every year, the first day of Autumn and the first day of uni semester meld together to make the perfect storm of all Mondays. And in case you hadn't noticed, let me inform you that fashion week has started across university campuses everywhere! As I sat in gridlock this morning, cold, wet and late for my 8:30am lecture in WOLLONGONG, I had to make a concerted effort to avoid running down a first year. Don't get me wrong, I love the little dears. But they are slow, take up valuable car spots and still clump together in clicky groups, that spill into corridors and block entrance ways! And don't get me started on wearing Lady GAGA style heels to uni! It will only end in mascara drenched tears.
I think my distaste for first years stemmed from recognising one a few years back, then realising it was because I used to babysit her!
So now, technically in my FOURTH year at uni, I sit at my laptop and observe that the temperature on campus has indeed dropped since this morning and the only thing consoling me is my newly-made tights (the ones my dad coined 'ohh look Avatar legs'). Finally it's cold enough to wear a synthetic fibre on your bottom! And if that didn't put a smile on my face, the line of 'P' platers getting booked outside the western carpark certainly did.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Diva Trash Bag

Ever cleared out your jewelry box only to find the majority of it is tacky, tarnished trash? Well I have. Who'd of thought that buying a cheap necklace here and a massive pair of glitzy earrings there would amount to a kg (yes that's right 1 kilogram) of unwanted, costume chaos! Imagine my pain when I thought of all this in landfill! Finally my bower bird ways had trap me in a nest of excess consumption.
I believe my addiction to bling started with a fruitloop necklace in preschool (but even that was handmade and biodegradable). So I think I'll have to blame my tacky tweens and my extended student years for the expedient growth of this disastrous collection.  
Here's what I made out of the salvageable pieces...
What's in your jewelry box? I wonder...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Swap Event at Berkelouw Books In Leichhardt!

Well here it is, our first ever clothes swap event! 
Finally shopping is completely guilt free!
Come along to The Wine Bar @ Berkelouw Books, bring a friend (whose wardrobe you covet) and relax with live music, light refreshments and a whole lot of laughs.
Offload all those dresses you wore once to a wedding. Banish those jeans you can't fit into. Say goodbye to all those pieces taking up valuable space in your wardrobe! The more items you bring, the more tokens you'll have to spend (bring a minimum of 5 items). Don't be scared to bring your expensive items either, we will have a special category just for them.
ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO TO REACH an annual fundraiser and community impact strategy for Shirelive//

RSVP is essential! Please email me at ameliasammut@gmail.com to register. 
See you there ladies!

p.s. If you are a guy and would be interested in a similar event (just for the boys), leave a comment in the box below. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vintage presents from Amy!

There is nothing like a good blog to bring great friends together! The above items represent my first official 'Blog Pressies', courtesy of my brillant friend Amy and her large collection of vintage treasures. Even though Amy has moved to another state recently, it's comforting to know that I'll still be able to have her around by way of wearing her preloved goods (well the vest at least, as the dress still has the Vinnies tag attached - AMY!)
     I'm thinking of turning the dress into a snazzy top and it's twin sister RaRa skirt (not to be worn together, Obviously). But I'm open to suggestions... 
Look out for much more vintage coming soon! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Andrew James Photography

Yes, very pensive

It's true, I love bubbles...

If you need a great photographer or just wanna check out some amazing pics go to

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Push it to the limit (but no further)!

This week I began reading The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. On the back cover the blurb states: '...this timeless classic holds the key to all you desire and everything you wish to accomplish.' That's quite a statement, I love a confident blurb, and so couldn't wait to find out the answers to those questions; what do I desire and what do I wish to accomplish?
I'm up to chapter six (in what I've discovered is a 144 page, ancient parable on attaining wealth) and while I'm still hazy about the above questions, a paragraph about budgeting has me seeing things very clearly:

'The purpose of a budget is to help thy purse to fatten. It is to assist thee to have thy necessities and, insofar as attainable, thy other desires. It is to enable thee to realize thy most cherished desires by defending them from thy casual wishes. Like a bright light in a dark cave thy budget shows up the leaks from thy purse and enables thee to stop them and control thy expenditures for definite and gratifying purposes.'

This got me thinking about limits. Since starting this project I have become very aware of them. My limits of time, energy and yes even my emotional capacity. But this has caused me to make a lot more deliberate and thought out decisions when it comes to my apparel. If I want something it's not just a matter of running out and getting it. I either have to make it myself or seek it out secondhand (not an easy feat when you have your eye on the new Camilla and Marc 'Nikolai' metal link jacket). 
The extra energy required means I only get what I really need (or really, really want)! Everything else falls by the wayside. Gone are the days of the impulse buy or the wear once and chuck items, but I can't say I'm devastated. I get a lot of satisfaction out of creating my look myself, knowing that I've thought it out and that it will not go wasted in the future. I've also found that flipping through fashion magazines doesn't come with that confused aftertaste. When I've finished the last page and the dream is over I'm not bombarded with choices. Only what is most essential is left in my mind.
I have reworded the above quote to create a new mission statement (of sorts) for this blog. I may not know what I want or what I wish to accomplish but at least I know what I want to wear!

The purpose of this project is to help thy mind to widen. It is to assist thee to have thy necessary pieces and, insofar as attainable, thy gorgeous one offs. It is to enable thee to realize thy most cherished fashion dreams by defending them from thy casual impulse purchases. Like a bright light in a dark cave thy project shows up the leaks from thy purse and enables thee to stop them and control thy expenditures for definite and gratifying purposes.

What have you purchased on a whim and it turned out to be disastrous? 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Karina's Gorgeous Gold Skirt

     Well you were promised and who am I to keep you waiting. Ladies and gentlemen I would like to present to you....Karina and her gorgeous gold skirt!
Not only is she the first collaborator to the SSS project but she's sewing up the first SSS original, designed from scratch. Designing, pattern making and sewing it ourselves meant that we could tailor this skirt to suit Karina's shape and create a look that is totally her own.
Before you go complaining that you don't know how to pattern-make, let me tell you that after an hour of flat pattern making we had created, wait for it...a perfect rectangle! So clearly I don't know how to do it either.

We measured Karina's waist, hips and height before drawing up the pattern. We pondered, re-measured, consulted and worked out that the best shape for her was in fact a straight rectangle.
My advice to anyone starting to make their own pieces would be:
1) Start with something simple or modify a pattern you have already worked with.
2) Make it up in calico (or a cheap version of your final fabric), you can always make alterations once you've tried it on.
3) When you finally have it right unpick, lay it over your fabric and cut it out. Afterwards you'll have a calico pattern, custom-made for YOU.
4) Still not confident? Then find a friend (who hopefully knows what they are doing) or visit a sewing blog (like this one), where hopefully someone can give you a few pointers. Or there is usually sewing and pattern making classes at your local community college. If you live in Sydney check out Tessuti for quality lessons in the Surry Hills area.
Happy Sewing!
P.s Yes the belt shown in this post is the same one from the 'New York Sundress' and the 'Prairie Top' posts. As the title suggests I can't exactly go buy another one. So if anyone would like to donate a belt to the SSS cause, please let me know in the comment box below!  ;)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Prairie Top

     I know that my projects of late have been more 'alterations'  than anything new and exciting, believe me, my wardrobe is feeling it!
It's only February and I am already having Frequent Fashion Fatigue (or FFF for short). Fashion Fatigue is where you stand in front of your wardrobe for 20mins, in your bath towel, and can barely muster the energy to flick the coat hangers back and forth. Frequent Fashion Fatigue is where this happens everyday for over a month! Sound familiar or is this just me...?
Well my last episode was enough to motivate me to sew into the wee hours of the morning. I started this top at 3pm and finally finished it at 1:34am!
The pattern is Simplicity 3964 but be warned it is deceptively complicated! Luckily I had my sewing buddy Karina on hand for moral support. Credit is also due to my long suffering mother who eased in the front insert for me (while I sobbed in her lap).

 I have been sewing with Karina for years now and every time we get together, I end up finishing in the first hour, while she perfects every seam till we both wanna throw her project out the window. The roles were quite reversed in this case and I sent Karina home early so she wouldn't see the dark side of my sewing. I just couldn't go to bed till I had a new top!

Look out for her gorgeous gold skirt in my next post...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tsubi vs Ksubi

Let me relay a phone conversation I recently had with my boyfriend:

Me: 'Baby I have no idea where your Tsubi [sic] jeans went...

Yeah I know the ones...

The ones you wanted me to turn into shorts, long enough so both of us could wear them...

I'm telling you I haven't seen them...'

Maybe I should include another 'S' word into my blog title...STEAL!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm now two weeks into this little challenge of mine and I have my first official clothing NEED! With summer finally showing up the nights are getting a little hot for my liking. Especially because I don't have any summer PJs. There was only so far my ratty old t-shirts were going to take me this season and the rest of my sleep wear is, shall I say, not appropriate to stumble to the bathroom in, at 7am (when I live with two boys) . So I cut up an old cotton dress (thanks mum) and cut out a pattern from an old pair of pants (thanks again mum). I added a draw string and some edging lace and now I'm counting sheep in couture.