Friday, September 30, 2011

The verdict is in...


I love them ALLLLL and well the horse skirt, super, fabulous, scrumptious, stunning (as are all of them actually!) and again thanks for remembering me on that one. You never cease to amaze me and well I can not wait to receive my extended P&E wardrobe! and also for good measure I love the way you write your blog :) and I feel very privileged with my title.

OK, re payment, very happy to Paypal me, can you email me an invoice or can I just email a payment to your normal email address? Please let me know if I owe you any extra for postage as I know it may have added up etc etc..........

Thank you, thank you, may you continue with such happy sewing..................."

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The bunch of skirts featured here are going to be sent off to Switzerland this afternoon, where they will adorn the bod of my very first (and only) VIP&E, Yolanda. "What," you may ask, "has Ms Yolanda done to afford herself such a glamorous and extravagant title and status?". Well, for starters, she owns more P&E than anyone in the world, other than Pearl. She started off with a greenish skirt and snowballed to dresses, skirts, and more skirts. When the sale was announced, Yolanda promptly up and ordered 4 skirts! And as if that wasn't enough, she said, upon ordering them "I really love the work you do and each skirt / dress I have from you, just feels pretty special whenever I wear them so that is enough for me :)". There is nothing more rewarding, as a crafter/artist/sewing-and-making-person, than a client putting their absolute trust in your ability to make them something they love. Yays-ville!
So, I went to work. I wanted to continue on the trajectory of making "pretty special" clothes for Yolanda, so selected some of my favourite and special pieces, including this vintage embroidered lilly-pad.

I had originally planned to make it a pocket, but I just couldn't get it to sit right (the top of the flower kept sagging down). So after much deliberation, I just decided to make it into a decorative patch. I think it works! I LOVE the contrast in texture between the super-fine, pinstripe wool of the skirt and the quite dimensional, chunky and slightly wonky hand-hewn satin stitch of the flower.

Another favourite is this apron, which has been kicking around for a while now. Aprons and pinafores are something that I usually can't resist picking up at op-shops, in account of the fact that they're BLOODY cute, and usually right next to the linen section (my favourite!). They're a bit hard to do stuff with though, short of cutting them up for pockets, which I do, but this one I was just too attached to, and thought it needed to maintain its integrity. So I came up with something of an experiment, hopefully not stretching the long-ish leash that Yolanda gave me.

I am REALLY happy with it. I think it works because you can see all the gorgeous details of the apron - the fabric, the pocket, the gorgeous binding on the bottom hem - and it's still an apron, in that I didn't cut it at all, and yet it's a skirt which, I reckon, somehow doesn't look too apron-y. You think?
Skirt #3 is made from some lightweight upholstery material that I scored from somewhere or another. I think the print on this is outstanding. For the pocket I used a cute little embroidered serviette. Sweet!

The skirt is gored, which means that there are 4, instead of my regular 3 panels. It's still an A-line (obviously) but it has a little extra kick on account of the seam at the front.

And if that all wasn't cute enough ('cute' is, I think, the keyword for this collection) I also made this next skirt out of a tablecloth that I had actually been planning to use for... well... for covering my table. WHACKY!!! But I thought I'd sew it up and send it to Yolanda instead. (PS. I have no idea why this section of text is underlined. Apologies.)

But I have to say, and I hope you'll agree, that the main event of this collection of 5 is actually the horsey skirt that is pictured at the start of this post.

Way back at the beginning of our clothes-making and wearing relationship, Yolanda had told me that she likes horses. I too, like horses, and like to fantasise about owning a horse one day and taking the kids to school on it. But that's another story... For now, I satisfy my horsey inclinations in fabric form, though this is also difficult given the veritable dearth or horsey linen around. Seriously! In a good 5 years of very solidly collecting, hoarding and obsessing over all the teatowels I can get my hands on, only TWO have come my way featuring horses. As Olive likes to say - What the???
ANYWAY... This really really faded horse teatowel found its way into my collection recently, and I remembered Yolanda's request (she is, after all, a VIP&E). As it was, the horse was a little bit too daggy to use. Faded almost into blankety-blankness, and ripped and torn as well. The solution? cut off the ripped bits to make it pocket-sized, iron it (using good ol' vliesofix) onto another bit of fabric to give it strength, and then embroider the details of the horse to reinvigorate it's freaking adorable little face.
Here is the horsey before and after reinvigoration projects:

Cute eh?I was super-pleased, though I have to say there were moments, while embroidering, when I looked around our half-packed house, at the stack of fabrics set aside for the backlog of custom skirt orders I accumulated thanks to the sale

(if you're waiting on a custom skirt, I swear, it is in one of these fabric bundles. Promise), and thought "why now?". But really, when I look at that horsey on it's red-spotty-plisse, I know it was totally worth it. And now, I await the verdict from my patron...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This is what I like to see. People so excited to receive their P&E that they put it on immediately, take a photo of themselves on their iphones, then email me the photo with the subject "Couldn't wait to put it on (:".
So, without further ado, here is Annette, wearing her bolero, which Pearl delivered to her today.
Such happiness all round! Annette was not at al bothered by my disregard for her instructions re. the bolero. Nay, she in fact loves Almodovar, and, ergo, primary colours. Perf!
And anyway, it apparently goes with everything enough for her to be able to just whack it on, right then and there at work. I have 2 words for this: Yay, and yay.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A work-buddy of Pearl's called Annette wanted to take part in the fabulous fabric clear out, and so ordered 2 skirts and a bolero. What champ! She and Pearl are fighting the good fight at the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, meeting and greeting all kinds of famous and glamorous celebrities, so it's important that they look EXCELLENT at all times.
Hopefully some ex-tablecloths and tea-towels featuring fauna and fauna will fit the bill.
Annette will be the recipient of "Galah: Mark 2" featuring the same tea-towel as the skirt I made for Lilly, of Frocks and Frou Frou, a while back. This time, the birdies have been teamed with some grey cord, which I was pretty bloody happy with. I was also in the mood for some stitching and buttoning, so these got a little look in too. I like this kind of detailing because it adds a bit of interest, and is also functional, holding down the top of the little pleat that I sometimes like to add into the front of my skirts, especially the ones with a tea-towel panel.
I generally don't include the "greetings from" bit of the teatowels, just in case the person receiving the skirt has some bad memories of a holiday taken to the place, or some such. But the font on this "Greetings from Nambour" was too great to cut off.
It's a piece of art unto itself!
Skirt number 2 is made from a pretty gorgeous linen tablecloth featuring some Australian wildflowers. It was in immaculate condition, so the linen is really beautiful and textured. Red patch pocket for fun and practicality and to bring out the gorgeous red of the waratahs. I had really wanted to use green spotty binding on the top, but Spotlight were all out! I was disappointed at the time, but after I substituted with the cream and black, decided it was a very very close second.
Now, the bolero. While it doesn't technically fit the briefing Annette provided for me (pale, neutral colours to go with everything) I just couldn't resist using this fabric which I have had for ages, but had forgotten about because it was hiding under the kids' bed.
When I found it, I wanted to use it immediately, and thought it would make a pretty rad bolero. And it does! And it is pale (kind of) and I reckon it will go with lots of things, if not everything.

Also hot off the sewing machine in the last 24 hours, "Lyrebirds: Mark 2".
I love making 2 of the 'same' skirt, because they're never actually the same! This one was for a friend of Pearl's mum's. What a radster! She was keen on the lyrebird skirt I made for Lizzie, and had expressed an interest in venturing into some brighter sartorial territory, so I thought this was a good little segue. The grey cord brings it down a little, but the greens and blues are still there for the appreciatin' and the little button array (again, holding down the pleat) highlights them. Di, I hope you like it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last drinks

So I was sitting on the couch with Pearl this morning, discussing our move, and she's informed me that we're actually moving in three weeks, not four. I was feeling quite comfy about a move in four weeks, but three? That's another story!!
So I'm hereby notifying everyone that I'm only going to be accepting orders for skirts at sale price until midnight tonight! After that, they're back to regular price, otherwise I'm just not going to get them all made before we move. And that would be... well... it'd be crappy. And stressful. And not fun. And seeing as I'm a big fan of fun, I just want to avoid all un-fun-ness.
So tell yer friends that if they want to snavel the cheapest ever handmade bespoke skirt, they only have about 12 hours to order one.
The end.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy birthday, beautiful

"Sheesh!" you may well be saying. "That lady sure is taking it easy for someone with about a bazillion skirt orders to attend to!". It's true. I haven't made a skirt in about 3 days! A rarity in this time of crazy-ass $50 skirt sales which, let me assure you, bring in the orders like ducks to a loaf of semi-stale bread, seagulls to a paper packet of chips and butcher-birds to some newly-weeded earth.
But I have a very good excuse! I have been engaging in some very serious (OK... Maybe not that serious... I seldom am very serious, it's true) and important happy-birthday-wishing business up north where I was celebrating with my exceptionally gorgeous and inspirational friend Jay.
Now, Jay, being extraordinarily talented and charming with a needle and some embroidery thread, regularly dishes up quite the breathtaking present. Each year the gifts get more elaborate and more beautiful, and her stitches just get tinier and neater!
For my birthday this year, she went crazy and made this:

Holy shit, right!? It is incredibly beautiful, and it reminded me (like I need reminding...) that handmade presents make you feel VERY special. And then, as if that wasn't enough, she made this little baby for Pearl.

Miniature embroidered details of plants and flowers, framed to look like photo-booth pictures. Amazing, I tell you!
In addition to being totally out of control fabulous in the craft stakes, Jay is very special to me and my family, so I wanted to make her something a bit spesh too. I figured an embroidered owl swooping through trees was a good place to start so I got to photocopying a swooping owl out of an amazing book called Panorama, which our also-quite-gorgeous-and-special friend Ruth (yes, that Ruth) gave us for christmas. Next up, I traced the owl onto some vliesofix, and ironed it to the wrong side of some spunky grey corduroy.

This seemed like a good idea at the time (can't remember why) but turned out to be one of those things that make your brain hurt because it meant I had to embroider the whole owl backwards, in reverse, and from the wrong side. Sometimes I just don't know what I'm thinking about... But, with a little help from my buddy, princess Olive,

the owl was done, ironed and stitched onto the waiting tree-scene which I made from some Ikea fabric that Ruth gave me for my birthday. What a friendly affair! Finished, the skirt looks like this:

She's hot yeah? And boy does that swooping owl look fetching teamed with an awesome speckledy t-shirt with lovehearted owls on the collar and sleeves. Or, if owl on owl doesn't tickle your fancy, there's always the yellow flying-seagull top.

And can I just say at this juncture how freaking exciting it is to have such a beautiful model filling out my humble creations!
Also on the birthday gift agenda, a hot water bottle cover that I made from scraps of tapestry thread I collected from the op-shop. This was meant to be done for winter (obviously) but took me AGES because the only crochet hook I could find was tiny, and I'm not the fastest crocheting person at the best of times, so luckily for Jay, it was done just in time for summer!

Cold water bottles, here we come!
And, after Jay made some appreciative noises regarding the bird skirt with the mustard pocket that freaking everyone loves, I used the leftovers to make her a bolero. Love that kingfisher sniffing the armpit - yeah!

I also made the hat and skirt that Jay's wearing in this picture. The skirt from some German embroidered wool that my Oma gave me, and the hat from one of my favourite pieces of fabric EVER. The hat was a bit of a "hey why don't we just make one?" moment, which happened after Jay tried on and admired Pearl's hat. I'm not at all accustomed to making hats, and they're usually a tad sub-optimal, but this one was actually OK. But the exercise definitely furnished me with a deep appreciation for more profesh cloth-hat-making enterprises like my favourite, Hyde.
But back to the important stuff...
I love you Jay. It was the most special-est being able to spend your birthday with you, eating deliciousness, dancing like loons in the loungeroom, loving you and hugging and kissing you whenever I bloody-well felt like it! Here's to more of the same, I say.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Poster-girls and happy campers

"Someone once told me I look like her grandmother's living room exploded on me (which was a compliment, swear.)"

So quoth Ms Amber M Rules (I know! What a name!) of Balmain, my new 4th best friend and Pearl & Elspeth poster girl. What does it take to be a poster girl? Well, when Amber emailed me to order her custom skirts, she told me a little bit about herself. She loves "gingham, spots, plaids, kitschy 1950's stuff like tiki/luau/hibiscus/leaf prints or cowboys/horses/horseshoes, Japanese or Chinese style lotus flowers. And I love bright colours. I aim for super classy 1950's housewife meets Peggy Bundy and Rizzo's lovechild". Cool. But then she said "I love your shiz so much, you could sew me a paperbag and I'd dig it". Anyone who is, or knows a Leo, like me, will know that this is perfectly acceptable commentary. I read this out to Pearl, who said "Wow - that lady was made to wear P&E". So true!
So I was pretty excited to make Amber some "shiz", on account of the fact that we kinda love all the same stuff, and she's not afraid of colour and kitsch. Tick! Tick! Tick!
Here's what I came up with:

The joey pocket with a kangaroo on it was Amber's idea, and boy was it a good one. I love green and pink, so thought a pepperminty stripy lining for the pocket was in order (though it's not visible in the picture - trust me, it's there, and it's a winner). Hibiscus - check! Ex-tablecloth pocket - check! Grandma explosion - check!!

And another tablecloth or 2 here, featuring poncho-on-the-beach lady! I love that she is on a variety of Australiana souvenirs. Nothing says 'Australia' like a lady on a beach wearing a poncho, right?

There wasn't enough of the Queensland tablecloth to do the back as well, so I improvised with some native flowers. Fun times!

In other news, I got some 'happy camper' emails today, which always make me happy. It is VERY nerve-wracking sending out my little creations into the world. I'm a very paranoid kind of person, so I'm constantly worrying about whether my clients are happy... So when I get emails like these ones, I'm pretty chuffed.

"Hi Annie,
Just wanted to let you know that my skirt arrived yesterday...a lovely surprise waiting in my letterbox. Although the weather here is still mostly cool and yesterday was wet and stormy, my new skirt reminded me that spring is just around the corner.Thankyou so much, it's perfect! Are you still offering custom skirts for the same price? If so I will think about what I want and order some more. BTW, just had a look at your blog and I totally agree with your philosophy on clothing and the importance of a connection between maker and buyer, careful use of the earth's resources, etc. I love the way even your packaging is recycled."

That one was from Denise, who got the flowery wrap.
Awwww.. shucks! But wait, there's more!

"Annie! The clothes arrived today and they are fabulous! I was terrified I had measured wrong and that they wouldn't fit but they are perfect, I can't thank you enough... they are wonderful. The linen skirt is amazing, I adore that one. I have a wedding next weekend and it'll be just perfect. I couldn't figure how to post a note on your blog to let everyone know how much I loved them but I really just wanted to thank you for them xx Meg".

Meg was the recipient of the much-coveted linen bird skirt, as well as a few others.
Yay and yay. Thanks so much for letting me know people. It warms my little heart.
And Amber, I hope you are TOTES happy with your skirts!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Free stuff - come 'n geddit!

I was sorting through some boxes under the house this morning and came across some ye olde P&E stock, which I'm going to give away. Right now. Email me if you want any of these things. They're free, though it would be tops if you could swing ten bucks my way to cover postage and whatnot. Or, if you wanted to buy a custom skirt as part of the crazy-ass moving sale, then I'll just chuck it in for free.
Firstly, I found a bunch of dresses that look like this one (yes, there are stacks of packing boxes in the background. It's how we're rolling at the mo').

I made them as samples about 2 years ago, just to see how they'd sell. I didn't sell a single one. I was flabberghasted, but didn't make any more. I think they're cute! And comfy! They have a stretchy jersey top, and cute vintage skirts with little collar details, vintage buttons

and tie belts.
The red one pictured here got caught out in the rain at the markets, so has some kind of pinko staining on the skirt that's basically unseeable. If you look really closely at the photo you might be able to spot some pinkiness. The waist measures about 34 inches around, but remember they have tie belts so you could probably 'cinch' them if you're that way inclined.
There's also one with this combo of fabrics and buttons.

It's my favourite, and probably if no-one else wants it, I'll keep it for myself (the others will go to the op-shop). It has no stains! Waist measures about 36.5 inches around.
There's also this one,

which measures about 44 inches around. It also has nothing wrong with it.
And last but not least, this one, which is a really gorgeous barkcloth. This one is about 40 inches around.

Oscar bumped me while I was taking the photo, but then I decided to just take one of the fabric anyway, because the design is gorgeous in a way that you just don't see any more. I think it's that combo of geometric whatevers and floral. Rad.

There's also a skirt that looks like this,

which is quite full and beautiful, and has a lacy-edged pocket on the front. It has a 44 inch waist.
And this is pretty much the only kids' skirt P&E has ever made.

It has a whopping 25 inch waist, and is very very cute.
As is this radster 70s butterfly wrap n go, which has a 41 inch waist, but could be worn slightly larger because of the wrap factor.

It has a couple of water marks too, but I am definitely 100% sure they will come out in the wash. Especially if you use napisan or some such.
I'd love these to go to happy, P&E-loving homes, so drop us a line if you fancy any of them. Or I guess you could wait and try your luck at the oppie in a few weeks, though I can guarantee you they won't be free anymore.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

handmade: a happy kind of making

One of the things I LOVE about making custom clothes for people, is that, while I'm sewing, I have some ideas about the person I'm sewing for. I have a sense of their likes and dislikes, their interests, their size, and where they live. So while I'm sewing up their skirt/s and/or bolero/s or whatever, I'm thinking about and imagining what they might be like. It's a connection. And while I have someone in mind - even if my imaginings are completely off-track - I'm feeling great about what I'm sewing, thinking about it going to its new home and being worn and hopefully loved by the recipient. Sometimes, when I'm lucky, people send me photos of themselves at weddings and on holidays, wearing the clothes I made. Sometimes I see my clothes on people in the street. Beautiful!

The good thing about this sale is that I've been CRAZY BUSY 'meeting' new people who have asked me to sew for them. I have really enjoyed this. But at the same time, I've also felt sad because, unfortunately, the vast majority of clothing that is bought, worn and then thrown away when it's no longer 'in' is made without any connection between the maker and wearer. I reckon this is a loss for both ends of the chain, though most obviously for the poor, usually exploited manufacturers who are responsible for making most of the clothes worn by us privileged whiteys. I know, I know, some things are hard to make - like undies! And even if you find some at the op-shop you sometimes might not actually want to wear them. But for most things, a more earth and people friendly option is usually available. Obviously, the op-shop should be your first port of call. Cheap and non-exploitative. What's not to like? But for new stuff, what to do? Well, you could support handmade-in-Australia type situations, like Pearl & Elspeth.

Check out Etsy! So much fun, interesting, imaginative stuff going on. And sure, it's more expensive than Target, but hey, at least the work that's gone into your clothing is being properly appreciated and valued. Surely this is worth something?

For me to make a skirt for fifty bucks is alright. I feel good about that amount of money. I'm not, by any means maintaining some kind of wild profit margin. But I'm lucky, because I love what I do. I love working with interesting fabrics, I love making people interesting clothing that's one-of-a-kind, and I love the connection I feel with the items I sew. When I imagine those people working in sweatshops, churning out probably hundreds of the same item every day, I feel, in my heart, the luxury of my position: I will never have to do that. Why should anyone?
So, to those of you who support, directly, the makers of your clothes - you rock. Like Meg, of Nana Glen, for example. She is the lucky recipient of the much-coveted native bird skirt (seriously Meg - people love it), a yellow wrap n' go, and a couple of boleros.

I had fun making this stuff for her, used up some reclaimed linen, and the money I made will go towards building a passive-solar strawbale home for my family to live in. If that's not a win-win situation, I don't know what is.