It's a lovely day to celebrate all the wonderful women who raised us. Yes, they are a part of us now. All the love that they gave us resides within and will never fade. Every school lunch they made and every night they sat up with us when we were sick was love in action.
It only takes a moment to think of your Mum on Mothers' day. If she's like mine, it creates a warm glow that lights up your heart and spreads to your cheeks.
Two years since my mum passed and I'm doing okay. I miss her like anything. A hug and a cup of tea with some of her home baked cake would be truly heaven. However the light she shone in my world continues to glow in my memory and I'm blessed with many wonderful times to remember.
If you still have your mum here to visit on Mothers Day take a moment to be really grateful for the time you're sharing. Give her an extra hug from me.
I know that lots of readers have children of their own, as I do. It's your day today also and I hope you've planned some downtime to enjoy being spoiled by the next gen. I'll be putting my feet up after dinner and let my visiting children clean up.
If you're stuck for some last minute gift ideas here's a few of my favorites and they were my mum's too. It's lovely to receive presents and I think the inexpensive ones are best. A picture of my kids in a frame is always a winner with me. A home decorating or gardening magazine that I can flick through with a mug of tea is a treat. Speaking of tea, special Twinnings tea bags are also an easy pick up from the supermarket. You should also be able to snag a card there too.
My children sometimes make a card which is soooo special and they write a little bit of how special I am to them. This is the absolute best part of Mother's Day. So take a moment to really think about what you're grateful to your mum for.
I hope you all have a really lovely day on Mother's Day and enjoy the special moments and celebrate the amazing work mothers have done and continue to do, loving, guiding and raising the next generation.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance
Creative people will experience it at some time or another. A deep gut reaction preventing them from starting a project, completing it or worse, making them perform poorly. The later becomes a self fulfilling prophesy that they aren't talented enough.
This deep gut feeling brings a sense of impending doom. A warning to not proceed because danger lies there. Anxiety driven decisions follow which feel deceptively right. 'Do it tomorrow', anxiety says or 'Have something to eat'. If strong enough to ignore this horribly uncomfortable feeling, the constant thoughts of 'Is this good enough,'accompanied with feelings close to panic, while doing the task, can undermine the ability to finish. Because anxiety driven thoughts are dominating the creative part of the brain, it lowers the quality of what can be produced.
Unfortunately this anxiety can become worse the more proficient people become at their craft. More knowledge means anxiety can judge more harshly. Work that is a baby waiting to grow up can be tossed aside as useless because it hasn't arrived fully formed. Judging has to happen after the work is produced so that it can be refined and developed further. But performance anxiety, armed with knowledge, disparages the seedling for not being a fully bloomed rose.
I have asked myself the question, if I did this before, surely I can do it again. But asking questions is dangerous because anxiety will answer. It will say, that past success was luck, you can't do it again. This time is different and you won't be able to do it again. Blahhh. That's enough of that.
I've tuned to inspiring writing quotes, and I've seen a lot in my ten years of writing. They have their place but when it comes to performance anxiety there really aren't any that help me. But the words of prolific romance author, Maisy Yates, stayed with me. I heard her speak about her writing life at a Romance Writers of Australia conference. She said that she protects her joy of writing because her writing supports her family. That is the clue that led me to finding a practical way to get the words flowing. Remember the joy.
What I did, is remember how good it felt to be sitting and typing at my desk. How amazing it is to me that something that never existed before is now here. I don't communicate with my performance anxiety, I shift my focus away from worry to what I enjoy doing. A simple remembrance of a time I was enjoying my writing seems to beat that performance anxiety energy. Joy is powerful, it has energy changing properties. It builds a desire to turn on my computer and sit in the chair and start typing.
It's the process of being at my computer and typing that I like. I enjoy being a writer and eventually there will be a story. The baby will be refined and edited and even grow up into something surprising. I don't think about if it will sell, if I will like it. I stay in the present and enjoy writing. Eventually the characters start to take form in my mind and they starts to say and do things like I'm watching a movie. I'm typing as fast as I can so that I catch it and bring it into the physical world where it can be shared with others.
This brings me to the other element that helps keep me coming back to my computer. That writing my stories instead of letting them just play out in my head means I'm sharing them with others. It's an act of generosity to tell stories and that energy is loving. It matters that I am willing to share and have made a contribution. It's my contribution for others to enjoy or not, that doesn't matter really, only that I was willing to let something of my creation go out into the world.
Being an author means I will not be liked by everyone. I can't know exactly how much pleasure my work might bring to other people or for how long, but that's not my concern. Writing the stories is my business, and I enjoy doing it.
My next project is to start the second draft of a story about a girl born into a musical family. When her mother dies she is sent to live with her grandmother in another state. Now grown up she's come home after inheriting her father's nightclub.
However, she discovers the guitarist from her father's band has already made a home there and expects her to sell it to him. She finds out that he's become the adopted son her father always wanted.
This romance explores how our sense of home informs our identity. It isn't just a place on a map but a place that holds the secrets of who we think we are.
I'm going to enjoy developing this story and bringing it into the day light. It's the joy of creating that is going to bring me to my keyboard, open the file and pick up where I left off each day.
Dora Bramden writes heart melting, passionate romance.
My most treasured things are second hand. Even though new things are very nice, there's nothing like the character only a second hand find delivers.
This second hand cane lounge suite is my favorite possie to drink my morning coffee. I looked everywhere to find an affordable romantic looking outdoor setting for this space, without any luck. This second hand suite was given to me after my sister sold her beach house. Her husband originally found it in an op-shop. I find that to get the character I want, second hand is most often where I find it.
When searching for a shabby-chic mirror, I went online to the usual home ware sites, like Ikea. I had no luck at all, but in the second hand Facebook market place, I found the one I adore.
The roses and ribbon that crown this curvy mirror say romantic, shabby-chic to me. Although I love the gold, I need a light and bright color scheme in this room. There are veranda's outside both windows which can make it quite dark. I have plans to paint it white using a little pot Annie Sloan chalk paint. The dark brown lounge is too dominant for the space. I'd really like a new one but I can't afford that. I'll make do with what I have and recover it in a cream or beige fabric.
You can see the chandelier refection in the mirror. This will also get painted white.
I've been visiting op-shops (thrift stores) in search of cardigans for winter. I did find some, but I also found some shabby chic picture frames and some very pretty tall glasses. The picture frames will be painted white and I'm going to get out my paints and create a still life of pink roses from my garden to go in them.
When walking in my garden I love noticing my second hand plants that add character. Plants I've taken from diving clumps of iris in Mum's garden and lambs ears from my sister's garden have taken off very well.
Cuttings of hydrangea, a neighbors gave me, have all grown well this year. A little burnt in our very hot summer, but they are budding up beautifully for next spring.
Dad gave me his grandfather's crown of rhubarb. It makes a lovely show of foliage in the border and I think of Dad every time I see it. Recently, I harvested some for a Rhubarb sponge desert to have for Easter lunch.
I harvested about a dozen stems and washed them well before cutting them into one inch peices. I placed them into a saucepan, covered them with water and added half a cup of sugar. I let this come to the boil and simmer until the Rhubarb was soft. I overcooked it a bit but it still worked out great. I added a little cornflour dissolved in water to thicken the syrup before turning off the gas. I spread it into a greased lasagna dish and then set it aside to cool a bit while I whipped up a packet mix of GF sponge cake.
I tipped a ribbon of cake mix over the top of the Rhubarb, moving the bowl up and down until the top was almost all covered. I lightly filled in the gaps with a spoon.
I baked it for about 40mins on 175C until the top was golden and the sponge bounced back when pressed in the middle. I can't believe how nice it tasted. As I'm writing this I'm sorry to discover that I don't have an after picture to post. It was Easter Sunday and I'd had a few glasses of wine so I'll hope you forgive me.
Imagine the sponge puffed and golden with the sweet and tart stewed rhubarb base steaming hot. I served it with whipped cream and it was very popular.
Because I feel bad, I'm posting this pic of some Easter eggs instead. By the way, they are sitting on a marble table that I bought second hand.
Creating a romantic home and garden doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I get to have fun seeing how far I can make my money stretch, decorating and creating a garden in my romantic style, but I also find the character filled pieces that bring my home and garden to life.
It's not something you can achieve quickly. A romantic home and garden is curated over time, but it's absolutely worth it and you always have a reason to drift through your local thrift store and see what treasures you might find for a song.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter and I wish you happy thrifting for items that will add character to your romantic home.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been to hospital twice. But in between, I've still been planning our wedding.
A chronic health condition, that I’ve had since childhood, decided to make its presence felt. I needed a couple of days in hospital waiting for that to pass. Fortunately, I recovered in time to attend a food tasting at our wedding reception venue but then had to go back for a day procedure. All is under control now, as long as I make sure to get adequate rest periods, all will be well.
Fortunately, feet up with a laptop counts as rest and as my head is clear of strong pain killers and anesthetic residue, I can get back to normal. I managed to put together a post for my regular spot on Romancing the Genres, about an adventure I had on my way to Jane Austen’s house. Follow the link to read that. It was the inciting incident that sparked my book the Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover. It was my first time overseas and I was on my own. I got hopelessly lost and had to rely on ‘the kindness of strangers’.
As I’m writing this blog, it occurs to me that the heroine of that book, Natalie, is an event planner. Like her, I’m in full-on event planning mode, organizing Sam’s and my wedding. As it’s in July I need to get cracking. So have laptop, will wedding plan. The other day, Sam sat beside me on the couch and we researched at least ten different photographer websites. We settled on Peter Layton and made an appointment to see him.
We sat on a comfy couch and watched samples of his photography on a big screen TV. He takes very romantic shots and is familiar with our wedding venue. We chose a package that suits us which includes a printed wedding album. He also helped with working out the timeline for the day because he needs to plan to be at the best man's house first and then go to my sister’s where I’ll be getting ready and then arrival at the chapel for the ceremony and reception after.
The night out at the tasting exceeded my expectations. Ballara Receptions is a beautiful venue with stunning gardens. The walk from the car park goes through them, past the central lake and mini waterfall. We were able to walk through the chapel again which sent shivers of excitement through me. We mingled with other couples and enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine and were served can-epees in the foyer. We went into the main reception room for a sit down dinner and had the experience our guests will have. Sam and I enjoyed the food samples very much, and tasting the wines. It helped us make our menu choices easy.
They had sample table settings and also a variety of place cards and bomboniere. I really liked the idea of chocolates as a thank you to our guests for coming. I wanted something I could put together myself. I also took a photo of the table setting that I liked, the crystal ball bling is so beautiful. I love sparkles and flowers.
My girlfriend is going to do the table flowers as our wedding present so she can use this photo to see what will work well.
Sam was very keen to have a singer at our ceremony so after some research, we engaged the services of a wedding singer called Sharon Crossman. She sings while the guests are arriving and then during the service. We chose a DJ who is also an MC for the reception. Grant from Le Grand Style Weddings is on the Ballara preferred supplier list and so offered a discount as well. The internet was terrific for choosing these musical people. Sharon’s website has samples of her singing some lovely songs and she has a suggested list of songs for different types of weddings. If you look for her on YouTube there’s a lot more clips of her singing.
The bridesmaids are wearing navy dresses which have been purchased. Sam and the groomsmen are going soon to order their suits. The Next job is to order invitations and mail them out. I’m still looking for a package I like that includes place cards and thank you tags for the bomboniere. I also still need to find a makeup artist and hairstylist for the morning of. I have yet to decide if I’m going to make my own bouquets or get a florist to do them.
For the reception I need to get photos of my mum and Sam’s parents ready for the memory table and a guest book. I need to make a seating plan and have it printed out on A2 paper. Ballara has a lovely white frame to put it in but I’ll have fun with fonts and graphics . I’m going to fill organza bags with a few chocolates for the guest gifts and attach a thank you tag but I haven’t sourced these yet. So it’s on the list.
The color palate for the day is navy and pale pink which I absolutely love. I’m enjoying this journey to our wedding day. I believe all of our care and attention to the details will make the day a rich experience that will stay with us throughout our marriage.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate, romance.
Since I blogged last week, I’ve had a Birthday and was lucky enough to be given a lovely bunch of pink roses. They are a delight and have been giving me a lot of pleasure, which I’ve needed because I’ve also been struggling with the run up to the anniversary of Mum passing away on March 20th 2017. I’ve been in need of all the uplifting flowers can do this week. Those roses have been in my dining room reminding me of the dear friend who gave them to me and her a warm, loving hug that accompanied the gift of the flowers. She knows that birthdays are a little bit hard for me now.
The garden has been barren of blooms for a while, but has finally put on a little early autumn show which entices me out to smell and admire the rose bushes each morning. It helps to lift the veil of sadness I’m waking up with every day. I picked some roses and made a posy which, you might have seen if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram . Each time I walked past that posy I smiled.
Roses have always been my favorite flower. There’s something so romantic about this drama queen of flowers. Scented roses are the most heavenly smell on earth. I have to shut my eyes as I inhale their sweetness. They’re so spectacular and attention grabbing that they bring me into the present and provide relief from somber thoughts.
The grief I feel over losing Mum is less than it was at first but this anniversary is accompanied by a physical pain in my heart. Two years since I heard her voice. Two years since she put her arms around me and I held her in mine. Two years of Mondays without our regular morning phone call to chat about our weekend.
I feel her with me in other ways and that is very comforting, but I miss her physical presence Only after she was gone did I become sensible to how big a place she filled in my life. The emptiness is huge. So a thoughtful bouquet of flowers from a friend is felt deeply.
The gift of a flower arrangement was a special treat that Mum always enjoyed. So I’m glad my sister rang this morning and asked if I’d like to go for a coffee and buy Mum some flowers for her grave. We chose a stunning basket of flowers. It’s consoling to be able to still buy flowers for Mum.
I’d planned on taking a posy of roses from my garden, and I still will, as I think she’d like that also. She loved gardening so much that not only did she keep a gorgeous formal English style garden looking beautiful she also used to weed my garden and my sister’s as well. She was always ready with gardening advice and no visit was complete without a tour of the garden.
Before, I said that I feel her in other ways, it’s usually when I’m meditating or when I’m in the garden, I can feel her essence nearby. As if she’s there next to me but I’m not looking at her. So I have many reasons to believe in the healing power of flowers. They help to uplift me through inspiring appreciation for the present moment and create connections, between friends and sisters and to my dearly remembered mother.
Dora Bramden writes Heart-Melting, Passionate, Romance
When I need some calm and beauty I head to a garden center, preferably one with a cafe. 'Lillies on Brougham' has long been a special place for me to visit. It's french provincial garden, cafe and shop are a delight for my senses so it's here I headed when I wanted to take the afternoon off.
I love this muted pink linen dress.
Balance is what they do so well. That is what makes it so calming and serene for visitors. The shop contains, soft textured clothes, dolls and cushions which contrast with and shiny pottery, glass and jewelry. Even a meal in their cafe is gorgeous to look at. Of course it tastes amazing as well. A perfect balance of sweet, savory and acidic flavors married with herbs and a mix of creamy and crisp textures to entertain the palette.
The seating area is a long space with views through to the established gardens that beckon diners to wander the pathways after breakfast or lunch.
After browsing the shop and eating a delicious lunch it's time to walk the grounds and take in the carefully considered, elegant garden.
An ornate urn draws you down the path toward a stand of pencil pine and globe shaped shrubs. Here the path turns and leads the wanderer to the area where plants are for sale, so you can purchase a little bit of French flair for your own garden.
Even this area is laid out in a way that shows style and balance has been carefully considered. A decorative pond provides a stopping point before rambling among the permanent plantings interspersed with bays of pots of trees and shrubs for sale.
There are a few concrete garden ornaments in the classic style which can be purchased to give your garden a distinctive French Provincial character.
A mud brick cottage creates an overflow space for diners and a focal point. It creates planting opportunities and is positioned so that the garden can't be viewed all at once. The meandering path encircles it.
The time passed quickly and eventually I needed to get back home to normal living but the serenity and elegance of Lilies on Brougham is inside me and is coming home with me.
A last view of the main building before I leave. I just love the simplicity and elegance of those box plants in white urns.
Wendy Fraser-Boyle and Melissa Walder run Lillies on Brougham, they stock the shop with their Lily and Lulu collection procured from France. They also run exclusive ladies tours to France. Oh my goodness, how I would love to do one of those. Maybe one day.
You can find Lilies on Brougham at 62 Brougham street Eltham in Victoria, Australia. Their contact details are T: 0394316622 or E: email@example.com
Dora Bramden writes Heart melting, passionate romance
Do you ever get overwhelmed by the hugeness of the mess? I do. I get paralyzed. I walked into this room and straight back out again repeatedly for three days. I finally just had to get it done in the morning of the day my Dad was coming to stay.
I'd been doing a lot of crafting and getting out bags of projects and not putting anything away. Then other things started to be dumped here, notes, travel brochures, even the box I keep the Christmas cards in found it's way onto the bed. Ahhh.
I decided to begin by putting away the sewing projects. The bags were removed and stored in another cupboard in the kitchen. I took the half filled hobby box at the end of the bed and stored all the fabric pieces in that. Then I gathered up all the paper pattern pieces and put them in a shopping bag. Odd bits of embellishments were stored in the sewing box. I rejigged the shelves in the wardrobe and put the sewing machine and the hobby box away.
Also at the end of the bed, I had an overnight bag with slippers and a nighty, still not put away after a weekend at the beach. I took care of that too. Now the end of the bed was clear. One space cleared, felt amazing. I was energized to push on. A plastic bag was filled with old notes and other papers I no longer needed along with scraps of fabric that were unusable. The important papers were filed and the CD's were put away in their proper storage box.
Nearly there. About now I want to dump what's left in a bag and sort it out later, but I didn't let myself do that this time. I kept going and put everything back in it's proper place. That was the hardest bit. Finishing isn't my strongest skill.
I love that the bed is clear so that side of the room is finished. I'm getting a proud-feeling payoff at this point. I also have made progress on clearing the corner where my notice board stands against the wall. I can get the two wardrobe doors open at this point. The storage boxes are stacked neatly.
However, you can see a corner of the desk which is still messy. This is supposed to be where I write but it became a dumping ground too. Very uninspiring. This last area was tidied up with everything being put in it's proper place and any rubbish thrown away.
Here it is looking all tidy and cute. I'm writing this blog late because I couldn't face this room. It's been such a huge effort that I couldn't resist making it the subject of this week's blog. The clean up was a massive challenge but I love that I got there.
My inspiration/notice board needs a makeover, stay tuned for that, but at least I've pinned up the current year's calendar. It still had 2018 before the clean up. This years calendar was some of the flotsam that had washed up on my desk.
Now this space is lovely again, I plan to try very hard to keep it tidy. I think I need to invest in some shelving for the wardrobe so that when I access things from the lower boxes, I don't put off putting things away due to the difficulty of getting to it and packing away after.
I found that focusing on clearing one area at a time very helpful. I also searched for categories of things and put those away all at once. I was ruthless in chucking out stuff that I really didn't need. I had to do some reality checks like, 'You've had this for fifteen years, do you really thing your going to use it? If the answer was no, out it went.
I can breath in this room now. I think I avoided making a start because the sight of it drained me. But knowing my father couldn't sleep in this mess made me panic a bit. The adrenaline hit energized me. Once I got going it wasn't too bad but near the end exhaustion was winning and I had to really push myself to finish.
Now that I have enjoyed my Dad's visit, and by the way he said he slept very well in here, I'm enjoying writing my weekly blog and I hope you've enjoyed this little journey of mine. If you have a space that you'd like clean and can't get yourself to do it, invite someone over to stay the night. Works like a charm. :)
Heart Melting, Passionate Romance.
The other night Sam and I spoke to the celebrant who'll be marrying us. We also made an appointment for our first meeting. The reality that I'm getting married again has suddenly set in.
Not only do I need to start thinking about what I want to have included in our ceremony, but what to wear! Just kidding, but really, I thought I had months before I needed to do this but we have brought forward our wedding to the middle of this year so we can travel in October. It's close to crunch time regarding some key decisions.
We became engaged last October and I posted our proposal story in November. Back then I thought I had twelve months to plan our wedding but that has been slashed in half.
It isn't just the practical side of things that has hit me, but the feelings around being a mature bride and getting married for the second time have also snapped into sharp focus.
I remember the first time I got married. I was a different woman at age twenty four. Naive but full of hope and romantic ideas about happily ever after. I can't help feeling some sadness about how that hope was stripped away and I found myself alone after 25 years of trying so hard and feeling like I'd failed.
I'm sad for her, that young hopeful, naive woman who tried so very hard to make the dream last beyond it's time, but I'm grateful that she learned a lot and has become the fifty seven year old woman I am today. It's wonderful but surprising that at my age, I'm getting married for the second time.
I've got a more realistic approach this time around. Sam and I have been together for five years and lived together for two of those. We can make this commitment knowing that there aren't any guarantees but that we each have relationships experience. We have learned what works and know ourselves and what we each need.
Being compatible is a very big deal. Like a jigsaw, the pieces are all different shapes but fit together to make a full picture.
Second time marriage is about commitment and caring. We want to continue sharing our lives. It's the marriage I want, not just the wedding. Of course that will be beautiful because I want to say those words of love and intention for our relationship to Sam, and hear him say them to me. I want us to be dressed up and enjoy feeling this special moment. I want the people I love to be nearby supporting and witnessing our union, our loving commitment to our future lives together.
There are no guarantees, but who would do anything if they needed that to take a chance in life. No one would ever write a book or create anything if they needed a guarantee. This is my second chance at a loving marriage, and I'm so taking it.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Sewing a dress on Saturday afternoon, to wear on Saturday night, was something I though nothing of doing when I was seventeen. But other than taking up a hem or resewing a seam that has frayed from wear, it's been years since I've sewn my own clothes. I've bought fabric and patterns on sale but haven't actually jumped in at the deep end and tackled a large sewing project.
When I was a student, I sewed from necessity. Dresses were expensive but fabric was cheap. Now it's the opposite, you can buy a dress cheaper than it costs to make it yourself.
But I long to feel the thrill of wearing something I've created. Some YouTubers I watch have great tutorials on sewing and it's given me the bug to unpack the sewing machine and actually make up a simple dress. For economy purposes, I'm using a cheap craft fabric that I picked up on sale years ago.
I like that it's cotton though, as I think it will be light and cool as the last hot days of Summer stretch into Autumn, here in Melbourne. But my northern hemisphere friends are eagerly awaiting the warmer days of Spring to arrive. I can imaging wearing this romantic dress to pick the first blooms of the season with a basket slung over my arm and a pretty shade hat to guard my complexion.
The first step is to wash, dry and iron the fabric. Cotton is likely to shrink, so make sure this has happened before cutting out the fabric.
Cut out the pattern using a loose fitting dress that only has four seams, the shoulders and side seams. Fold the dress in half with the back facing out. Place the fold on the fold of the fabric. Cut around it leaving a 1cm seam allowance. Add 4 cm to the bottom for hemming. I didn't because I wanted the new dress to be shorter.
Next, fold the dress in half with the front facing out so the v neckline is visible. Place that on the fold of another piece of fabric and tuck the back under at the neckline, revealing the v. Cut around leaving a 1cm seam allowance all around.
If you want the dress to be longer or shorter simply add or subtract that amount when cutting out. If a shorter dress is desired fold the bottom up to where you want it. A tip is to put it on and insert a pin where you want the hem to be.
Because I had a stain on my fabric I decided to add pockets so had to make sure it would sit under a pocket placement before cutting it out.
To make the pockets, measure a square by eye and cut it on the fold so that makes a rectangle. Turn it wrong sides out and stitch around leaving a gap to turn it out. Sew straight stitch about an inch from the fold. This will be the top of the pocket. The double layer of fabric will give it added structure and strengthen it. Last I sewed on a lace embellishment with zig zag stitch. Top stitched the pockets into place on the front panel. I sewed the pockets to the front before sewing up the seams because it was easiest that way.
Also on the front panel I hand stitched a gathering thread under the bust and pulled it in. I sewed a thick panel of lace over it. However, when I tried it on after the dress was made up, it wasn't gathered enough so I put it on the sewing machine and bunched the lace up as I sewed straight stitch at the top and bottom of the lace panel. This gave it the look I was after. You could instead treat the front the same way as the back, sewing a length of elastic on the wrong side, if you don't want lace. Instructions are following.
I sewed a piece of elastic to the back panel to pull it in like the original dress does which gives the dress shape. Work out where to place the start of the elastic by stretching it out and centering it over the back panel. Keep holding the left edge in place and let go of the other end. Pin the left edge to the fabric. This is where you'll begin stitching.
Start sewing the elastic and then stretch it as you sew to create the gathers.
Sewing the front and back panels together can be done in any order but I like to sew the same direction for each seam. Start under the armhole and stitch down to the hem. I don't flick it over and sew up, but start at the other arm hole and sew down so that the dress falls evenly. I used quilting clips to hold the seams together until they were sewn but pins work great too.
As this is a pull over your head style of dress you don't have to worry about buttons or zips however I did add lace for interest and to bind the neckline. I sewed the lace to the wrong side and flipped it over to the right side and top stitched it down. You could sew it to the right side and fold it inward and stitch if you don't want lace to show or use bias binding.
I hemmed the dress turning it over about 2cm and then another 2cm and stitching it down on the machine using straight stitch. The arm holes were hemmed the same way but turning it over half a cm twice and stitching down.
After trying it on it felt too plain at the hem and too long, so I added interest by sewing two bands of folded over fabric, parallel with the hemline. I made them the about the same width as the hem and the top stitching on the pocket so that elements were repeated and made the design cohesive.
Here's the finished dress. I added lace because felt the all over small print needed something to lift it. I also like to accessorize with a strand of pearls.
I've worn this dress quite a bit since I made it a couple of weeks ago. It's so comfortable and roomy. Being cotton, it's cool and breathes in the hot weather. Anyone could make a version of this dress, the lace could be left off. It would be beautiful with a matching bias binding around the neck and sleeves.
Because you make it from a dress you already own, it will fit any size. Use a shift or caftan style dress already in your wardrobe that you can pull on over your head. If you'd like it more fitted, elastic can be added all the way around under the bust line or at the waistline, whichever suits you best. The hemline detail required measuring and careful pinning to keep the lines accurate but this feature and for that matter, the lace wouldn't be needed on a larger print.
A short stint working in the office of a fashion house was part of the inspiration for the book I have recently finished revising. Ruby is a fashion designer and, like me, grew up making her own clothes. I hope to have her story for sale this year.
If you haven't read the Katrina or Natalie's stories you can find them here.
Heart melting, passionate romance.
My current work in progress is set in the music industry. It's a story that is partly inspired by my time working in administration for a rock music venue. I met some famous people, which was wonderful but most interesting was learning what when on behind the glamour. I've always loved being where music is playing, so it seemed a good fit when I was invited to work there.
I'm not surprised that I was drawn to work in the music industry, having grown up with music playing much of the time. Besides my father playing classical records on Sunday mornings, my older sister played records like the Bee Gees and the Beatles every day. But live music was also a huge part of my early life, performed by friends and family on our heirloom piano in our modest lounge room.
I can still smell the Mr Sheen as I polished my great grandmother’s piano. The carved scrolls enchanted me with their fairyland quality, as I revealed warm glossy hued timber swirls from beneath their coat of dust. For me it was the magical center of our house. Not only did it look majestic and beautiful, from it came sounds that transported me to another world.
Aunty Bev, Dad's sister, played by ear. She would say, "Sing the tune for me," and then she could play it straight away. Family gatherings were common, a highlight would be when she'd sit at the piano and begin playing the songs we all loved. Her brothers would gather around with their wives and all my cousins and we'd sing together. I was aware of belonging to a warm and loving family and felt happy, oh so happy.
I also loved it when my sister played for me. Mostly she had to practice her lessons but sometimes she play for fun and I’d sing along standing next to her. I wanted to learn but couldn’t make my hands work independently of each other. I learned guitar instead and could play and sing as often as I wanted.
As time went by, I developed thick calluses on the end of my fingers from playing so much, but I didn’t mind. I did very well at playing beginner chords and even achieved a first place certificate for best in the class. However as soon as I needed to play the more advanced bar chords it got too hard for me. My wrists weren’t strong and they didn’t toughen up. But I continued to play adapting songs and fudging the chords a bit. I enjoy the guitar sound so much, because like the piano, it is the strings vibrating that makes the sound.
Dad’s best friend loved creating beauty around him, gardening and painting, but particularly music. He was a concert pianist during the second world war and played many famous classical pieces on that old piano in our lounge room. His music somehow became a part of my soul. I can recall, all these years later, how it felt, how it sounded as if it were yesterday.
I’d stand at the end of the keyboard and watch his fingers move incredibly fast across the ebony and ivory. How was he able to strike so many correct notes in perfectly timed succession? The sound waves vibrated inside my lungs as I breathed the music in, closing my eyes. I’d think only of the sound and let it become a tangible living thing inside, transporting me to another dimension where only beauty exists.
I hear those tunes now when my father plays his recordings, and it uplifts me as only something loved and familiar from childhood can do. It can’t be the same experience I had as small child, standing beside Uncle Keith, with the sound waves of uplifting beauty reverberating through my body and flooding my senses. But music still transports me to a world of magic and beauty.
I'm so fortunate to have had that experience at a young age, and while we lacked some things, in regards to music our family had an abundance. It had a healing effect, soothing worries away and bringing joy. In the novel I'm currently writing, music is the hero. Helping to bring a woman home to where she remembers the joy music brought her in childhood and into the arms of a Country/Rock-star that needs her to love him.
While I write I'm drawing on the memories of my child self, listening in wonder to the magic of music and the strong family connection it holds for me.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, recusing roses and planting new ones.