Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hong Kong trip

I have spent the last week booking a trip to Hong Kong for 10 days over Boxing Day- New Year. Aren't airpoints great! I'm going to the World Shibori Symposium in Hong Kong from 28th Dec to 3rd Jan. The tickets were easy, it was finding accomodation at that time of year that was difficult. Who would have thought that backpacker hostels would put their prices up by 80% over New Year's night and the 1st of Jan! It isn't as if it is Chinese New Year or anything.

Last year I spent a lot of time learning how to dye wool and playing with wool shrinkage and shibori on merino knit fabrics. Then I had this year off for the costume course but now I seem to be going back to wool. I'm nearly ready to combine the two.

Yesterday I finished the capes for the pre-school circus class. The first two I made had a certain wizardish look about them. I discovered that screenprinted random stars makes a cape look like it is for a wizard and that circus has organised stars instead. They are stars in rows. Not something I had ever thought of before.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Extreme Craft

A favourite new blog called Extreme Craft. Learn about how food photographers build catapults to fling the food in the air for ads or consider glazing pottery plates with the aid of a paintball gun.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


While I am researching websites and blogs for the Websearch article I write for New Zealand Quilter I often find things that aren't appropriate for a quilting magazine but are still amazing.

This is from an exhibition called Japanese Suppleness
Then Deb Donnelly sent me a link to another website which had indigo dyed clothing. Called

Above is an installation called 'Universal Blue' which was at a shop in Paris.

Hand Eye magazine has had some great articles in Indigo. Here is an article on their blog which I subscribe to. Hand Eye. 
Hand Eye is a great magazine and I used to subscribe to it but unfortunately the price for a subscription has gone up a lot since the beginning so now I just buy the individual magazines from Minerva Gallery.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This saturday

10-4pm Horticultural hall, Lower Hutt.
30 Exhibitors/vendors, craft and textile supplies, exhibits of works, classes ,  cafĂ©, lots to do, buy and see.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Costumier and textile Artist!

I found the little quilt above while tidying up my sewing room. It won a prize at Coast to Coast Open day last year and is called ' Going to Nana's at Christmas'. In New Zealand we leave for our summer holidays at Christmas and it is always sad to have to leave the Christmas tree, presents and decorations and go off to some other part of the country. I have made Christmas cards using this image on Snapfish.

So I've graduated from the Drama School costume course. I feel like I only went through orientation week a few weeks ago but I started  in March and finished last week and the year has flown by.

So now of course I am looking for work and I have my first little costume job. I am  making some little  capes for  pre-schoolers.

So now I have to make decisions like - do I gather the cloak at the neck or make a half circle cloak and what fabrics can the client afford while still paying me actual money to make them?

Whew, so many decisions...

And then I am designing some quilts for exhibitions and writing my Websearch article for New Zealand Quilter for the next edition.

One of my quilts is on the cover of the last edition. I can't find a picture of the magazine online so here is a picture of the whole quilt. On the magazine cover they have the quilt on the table as a table cloth.
It is called Granny Smith's Airing Cupboard and is made of doileys and placemats.

I have also spent the last 3 days tidying up my sewing room. There is a big wide bench in there which I haven't seen in a couple of years. I usually end up working on about a 30 cm square area because I can't find any more space. The photo makes it look quite cluttered but there is enough space to actually make something now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Whats On - quilts and Textiles in NZ

Auckland Patchworkers Quiltfest 2011. A Nautical Calico Christmas. It is this weekend 4,5,6th November at North Harbour Stadium, Albany, Friday 10-5, sat 10-5, sunday 10-4pm. Merchants , show etc. Free parking.
5th November
St Anne's Hall, Newtown

Fabrics, buttons, beads, lace, scissor sharpening, Mary Potter Hospice stall selling donated fabrics.
Wine Country Quilts 2012 exhibition. 23-25th march 2012. Pukeora Estate, Waipukurau Open 10-4pm daily. $5 entry. You can enter the exhibition if you live on the east Coast from Hicks Bay to Cape Palliser.
Other stuff that has arrived
Fibre and Fleece exhibition Opotiki. 6-8th July 2012.Anyone can enter the exhibition and fashion show, $20 entry. Lots of categories but everything has to be 90% natural materials (wool, cotton, stone, fur etc). For further information or to get an entry form contact Opotiki Information centre infocentre@odc.govt.nz or 073153031
The Great Kiwi Icon Challenge.
Create a wall hanging of kiwi icons.
A2 sized quilt, feltwork, embroidery or other textile. Must be original. Entries to your local Bernina shop by 15th January. Forms at Bernina shops.
2 entries will be chosen by each Bernina shop to go forward to the main competition. Prizes are sewing machines for Best of show and Most humorous.
Mini Symposium
Patches of Tasman

I really enjoy the mini symposium  as it is much easier to keep track of friends as they are so much smaller than the main symposium.

There are lots of classes by NZ tutors. Dates are 12th - 16th April 2012

There is also a competition 'Patches of Tasman'. Maximum size is 1m in any direction. See the website for details of how to enter.
If you would like to see some of the costumes the Costume Construction class at Drama school made this year, they are up on display in the foyer of the drama school this week and next week along with the models made by the student designers. We also made costumes for 'Love's Labours Lost' which is the graduation show for the 3rd year actors. On till friday. $5 for students and $25 for adults.
Beneath the Southern Skies
Beneath the Southern Sky
Deadline: 25 January 2012 (ONLINE)

Beneath the Southern Sky
A traveling exhibition of contemporary textile art
Curator: Brenda Gael Smith
Confirmed venues:
Craft and Sewing Show, Auckland: 15-18 March 2012
Australasian Quilt Convention: 12-15 April 2012
Textile Art Festival: 9-11 June 2012

Size is 40X100cm banner shape.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

cherry blossom in NZ

Check out the incredibly blue sky behind the blossom. We get beautiful days at this time of year interspersed with horribly cold days like yesterday. In Japan the cherry blossom was incredible but the sky was usually grey in the background which I only realised when I took these photos.

I got my latest copy of new Zealand quilter and I'm very excited because one of my quilts is on the cover. It is very different from the dyed and painted quilts that I usually make - this one is made of lace doileys.


In between making costumes for the two plays which are coming up for Toi Whakaari, I have also been helping out a bit with the costumes for a show called Arohanui. It is a Maori musical with dancing, singing, traditional martial arts and poi. It is a great show, I really recommend it and I really enjoyed the chance to see the final tech rehearsal, dress rehearsal and opening night as it gave me a chance to see how changes to the lighting made a real difference to the mood of the show.

I don't have any photos of the costumes which I was helping with,  but here is a Youtube 'taster' from the rehearsals and if you get a chance to see this show I encourage you to go and take any visitors you have staying, with you.

Arohanui  and Youtube clip

There is one more show in Wellington then it moves to Auckland for a week.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Textile Whats on in Wellington

I am going to have a stall at
Tawa Art and Craft Expo 9-3pm, Saturday 8th October

Tawa Comunity Centre to show some of my costume work and quilts. I will also have some merino wool scarves and cards for sale.


Minerva gallery - a selection of small quilts inspired by New Zealand landscapes.

Kapiti Coast Quilters Spring Show in the Memorial Hall, Pehi Kupa Street (turn right at the lights by the railway crossing into Elizabeth Street, and Pehi Kupa Street is next left.  Open from 9.00 am - 5pm Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd Oxtober as part of the Arts Trail.

19th November - Fabrications- Horticultural Hall, lower Hutt

Quiltfest Levin 9-4pm.

Maori Art Market, Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua
6 — 9 October, 2011.
Thursday 6 October, 2011: 9.30am - 6.30pm
Friday 7 October, 2011: 9.30am - 6.30pm
Saturday 8 October, 2011: 9.30am - 7.00pm
Sunday 9 October, 2011: 9.30am - 4.30pm

Pataka art and craft market
 10-4pm on Saturday 8th October

Tawa Art and Craft Expo 9-3pm, Saturday 8th October
Tawa Comunity Centre

Reticella Lace

Costume Showcase is over and it is less than 8 weeks till the course is over for me. It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride and it seems like I only started yesterday. We have 2 shows to complete costumes for in the next few weeks. They are 'The Putnam County Spelling Bee' and 'Love's Labours Lost' then it is all over and we all need to look for work.

 While working on the costume for Showcase I have become interested in lacemaking. I have been taking lessons with a local teacher and have completed several very very small and very simple samples of bobbin lace. Unfortunately I don't own any bobbins or a cushion so it makes it difficult to actually finish anything larger than a half a book mark but I am finally getting the hang of the basic stitches. I wonder if I could get a few people and make lace with rope and use people as the bobbins? Sounds like the perfect drama school collaborative project :-)

Although I am learning bobbin lacemaking I keep finding photos of reticella lace which I really like.
Reticella lace is made by stitching over linen threads. The Duchess of Dunfermline's ruff was probably made this way.

Pattern for Reticella Lace from pattern book of Cesare Vecellio, 1591

In her Ballyhoo Blog,  Carlyn Beccia gives a Adobe Illustrator tutorial on ruffs.

Here Cal Lane shows his lace sculptures

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Countess of Dunfermline final photos

This is Crystalyne Willis, a design student at Toi Whakaari who was the model for my costume.
This is the original picture which is held in the Dunedin art gallery. The photographer was taking pictures in the foyer and I managed to sneak in a shot, unfortunately the only shot was with the model facing the opposite direction to the original portrait, maybe I can flip it in photoshop some time.

Onstage it looked like this. The background is Dunfermline Abbey and the music was a Northumbrian small pipes tune with a walking rythmn which I liked.

I was very pleased with the background, lighting and how the costume looked. It was a great night.

Above, the Countess uses her cellphone whilst waiting for her cue and  with the Kings Guard. Outfit  by Oliver Black. The model is Leroy who is a drama student at Toi.

Costume Showcase, Toi Whakaari

Yesterday was Costume Showcase, thank-you to all the family and friends who came along. The 2 shows were sold out by Tuesday which is great (although not so great if anyone left it too long to buy a ticket). This post is a photo essay of the order which the garments are put on.

 The above item is the shift or chemise. It would have been worn to keep sweat off the more expensive dress. It is easily washable. It is a very basic shape with a gusset under the arm and a drawstring at the neck.
 This is the corset from the front and back. I made it out of some fabric I found in Warehouse Fabrics in Wellington ages ago. I don't really know the fibre content.

 Then the bumroll gets put on and this holds up the back of the farthingale which holds the skirt out and slightly tilted. In the photo the skirt is very tilted up at the back but this maybe because the Countess is sitting.
 Then the farthingale which is made of mattress ticking fabric. The Farthingale is the predecessor of the ballet tutu I'm told.
 Then the petticoat which is made of 2 layers. The top layer has gathers and the bottom layer has box pleats. It is really heavy and stops the skirt from caving in when the wearer walks around.
 The dress. This was made as separate bodice and skirt. I started with the skirt because that seemed easiest and then did the bodice when I had learned a few more techniques (such as boning a bodice and making the pattern fir the wearer!) The patterns are all screenprinted with 'Bright Gold' ink from CCG in Auckland. Bright gold is a metallic gold and this glittered in the theatre lights. The sleeves were the hardest bit. They have an under sleeve which is slit at the front so the chemise shows through, then they have a pleated puffed top part with a narrow ribbon like hanging sleeve and epaulettes. I had to do some incredibly carefully placed screenprinting to get the patterns in the right place.

 Then the ruff and cuffs. The ruff is made of very fine  screenprinting mesh which is printed with cream opaque screenprinting ink.  The cuffs and lace around the decolletage is printed onto silk organza. The reason for the different fabric is that the ruff needs to be washable as theatre makeup gets onto it and it is the wrong shape to wash and iron easily. Tudor/Jacobean washer-women used to unpick the stitching them wash them and remake them. The cuffs are organza to be more see through and can be more easily washed and ironed.

Above is a detail shot of the bodice showing the buttons which I made by hand. They are thread wrapped around a single bead. Then they have plexi glue on the spines and gold foiling on that and a single rhinestone in the centre to make them glitter.
 This is a nice shot of the ruff showing the screenprinted 'lace'. This didn't show very well on stage but looks good close up.

Then all the jewellery. I used bead caps, op shop brooches, $2 shop pearls, wire, beads (thanks to my cousin Sue for quite a lot of these). There is a lot of glue involved in making these jewels.

Lastly she gets her fan which is made of a wooden spoon handle, a base which I cut from customwood and the design was cast in a mold I made in the Special Effects class.

The next post has the final costume

Friday, September 2, 2011

Toi Whakaari Costume Showcase

Here is the poster for Costume Showcase. The dress was made by Marly Doyle who graduated last year.

I have been working the last two days on costumes with the Monster Burlesque team and next week make the last push to finish my costume for Costume Showcase. Monster Burlesque has it's final dress rehearsal on Wednesday and starts on Thursday.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Costume Showcase, WOW, Minerva gallery

Costume Showcase
Showcases the graduating costumiers' major works and other exciting projects including millinery, corsetry, masks and a variety of costumes from recent Toi Whakaari productions.

Te Whaea Theatre, Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington
Thu 22 September
6.30pm & 8pm
$15 full, $10 concessions (includes drink and light refreshment)

Click here for 
  WOW - World of Wearable Art. Currently on in Wellington.

To see the costumes have a look on the Dompost website

Minerva Gallery
237 Cuba Street
Quilted coats by Katherine Morrison
Jewellery by Elsie Fourie
Monster Burlesque
Starts on September the 8th.
It's getting really close and I am part of a group working on getting the costumes ready for the performers to rehearse in. This weekend I am making wolf suspenders and girdles!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Snowing in wellington

Last night it started snowing in Wellington about 5pm while I was at the Drama School in Newtown. I packed up quickly, dropped a couple of people home and drove home to tawa and it was a pretty freaky experience. We are not accustomed to snow in Wellington and people were taking it very carefully but it was pretty slushy and icy. I didn't realise that the mudguards on the car had built up a lot of slush behind them and nearly flooded the floor of the garage with melting ice and snow. I didn't get any photos last night because I was driving and when I got home it was dark but here re some photos from this morning.

Above are pictures of Porirua Harbour and below is a picture of my broccoli garden.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monster Burlesque

For the last few weeks I have been spending one day a week working on costumes for a show called Monster Burlesque which is on in Wellington at the same time as the Rugby World Cup. Monster BurlesqueThis is Vaune who designed the costumes and also performs in the show. She gives me bags of fur and spandex and scraps of paper with instructions and says "go make a girdle for a wolf". It is great fun even if it means I end up staying up late to get things done. One day a week a group of us have been getting together at the Wellington Arts Centre to form a sewing circle to work on the costumes. There are people dotted across wellington working on bears and wolves and monsters.

Here is one of the rooster heads which I was making last week
As well as the costumes for Monster Burlesque I am also continuing with the costume for the Duches of Dunfermline and yesterday I completed the sleeves which were the part of the dress I was most worried about. They are very tight and have a slit at the front and a puff at the top with ribbons and the braid carries on up the arm and onto the puffed top area. It took a lot to work out which bit went underneath or over the top of another bit. I am really pleased with the way they turned out and will post a picture of the finished item when I find my camera.

Here is a picture again of Margaret Hay, Duchess of Dunfermline. I am now working on the epaulettes and cuffs.

If anyone would like to come to Costume Showcase which is where the Costume students show what they have made this year - here is a link to the drama school booking page.


This annual event showcases the graduating costumiers' major works and other exciting projects including millinery, corsetry, masks and a variety of costumes from recent Toi Whakaari productions.

Where: Te Whaea Theatre, Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington
When: Thu 22 September
6.30pm & 8pm

$15 full, $10 concessions (includes drink and light refreshment)

We are also doing classes in historic undergarments and in special effects.

For the underwear class we had to make an 1870's petticoat which has approximately 12 metres of ruffles. Because it is such a lot of fabric we could only use calico,  so I screenprinted mine to make it more interesting. Here is a picture of the petticoat frill drying in my garage - note the use of garage 'props' .
When the frill was laid out across the garage. it looked a bit like snake skin. The pattern is actually the lace design on the Ruff I made for the Jacobean costume.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Catch up and jacobean sleeves

Long time no blog...

Since I last checked in, I have spent 2 weeks doing work experience in Wardrobe at the South Australian State Theatre in Adelaide which was great, even if I did do an awful lot of unpicking. They are working on the costumes for Checkhov's 3 sisters. It was great to see the staff working on the first stages of the process from getting the designs from the costume designer, ordering materials, pulling costumes from the store, and watching the cutters start to draft patterns etc. I wish I had been able to stay for the whole time to see how it all comes together.

Now I am back at the course and working on my outfit for costume showcase. I have completed most of the jewellery and most of the bodice and am working on the sleeves. So far I have made 3 toile versions of the top part of the sleeve. Tomorrow I think I should make the definitive version :-) Basically the top of the sleeve is like a puffed sleeve except that it has  'panes' (like strips of ribbon) and tucks in between with fabric showing through. The sleeve is very tight under the armhole and shaped differently to modern sleeves. There is also a hanging sleeve and tabs (not sure what they are called) at the top of the shoulder seam. All that, plus I have to get the patterns in line with each other - wonder whether I can just screenprint the design in the right place on the fabric. I will explore that tomorrow.

Yesterday I spent the day doing work experience making costumes for a burlesque show which was great fun and today I  had a 2 hour lacemaking lesson - quite a contrast...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Photos of progress

Here are a few details of the things I am working on at the moment. Unfortunately the mannekin is a bit bigger than the actual model I have made the garments for so the corset doesn't lace up correctly.
The top photo shows chemise, corset, bumroll and farthingale, the middle one just shows the detail of the skirt showing the cartridge pleating and the bottom photo shows the back of the corset. I'm saving the rest for the actual show.

I was very pleased with the way the screen-printing came out on the skirt so here is a detail of the front.
I am about to start on the jewellery and have been trying to get better detailed pictures of it. The painting is part of the collection of the Dunedin Art Gallery and the staff there have been extremely helpful and have sent me extra photos and descriptions of some of the dark areas such as the head dress.  Ultimately this is a theatre costume not a replica thank goodness. The jewellery is completely over the top, hundreds of precious stones. I had  trouble seeing what the brooch was and was excited to find a picture of a similar item in a book called 7000 years of Jewellery edited by Hugh Tait. A locket called the Lyte jewel is very similar although it has different initials. Heaven only knows how to go about making this!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The jewels of the duchess.

I managed to blow the picture up a bit and discovered the big brooch on the right is a giant locket with jewels all around the outside. I reckon I need about 200 fake gem stones For the locket, head dress and pendant and chains. More pics of everything tomorrow when I have a photo session planned.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Catching up

It has been a long time since I last wrote anything on this occasional blog. I'm at Drama school doing the costume construction course.  At the moment I am spending pretty much all my spare time working on making the costume for my 'Major Work' for the Costume Showcase on 22nd of September.
Costume showcase shows all the costumes that the students have completed this year. For the graduating students it is a chance to really show off.

I am trying to reproduce the costume worn by this lady below.

This is a portrait of Margaret Hay, the Duchess of Dunfermline in the 1600's.  It was painted by Marcus Gheerarts the younger, in 1611 and the portrait is held in the Dunedin Art Gallery. A very potted history - Margaret and her husband were left in charge of Dunfermline castle when James 6th of Scotland became King of England and Scotland after Elizabeth the 1st died. Evidently they were extremely rich. Margaret is wearing a silk satin dress embroidered with gold thread, a bobbin lace ruff, cuffs and partlett, she is dripping with jewels including a big pendant, a huge brooch and a jewelled coronet in her hair.

My challenge is to try and make her whole outfit with a budget of a bit over NZ$200. I spent weeks going into every fabric shop in Wellington trying to find suitable red fabric within my budget which also had to include money for lining fabric and all the other layers she is wearing. In the end I had to use cotton drill and overdye it to get the right colour. Then I screenprinted in on the table tennis table in my garage. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Luckily we are also allowed to use stuff that is in our own personal stash (like lace and stuffing and beads).

The photo above shows the cotton chemise I made for underneath, (this is an item which can be washed easily and keeps sweat off the main outfit)
The corset (next time I might choose to use a smaller print fabric)
A drum farthingale
A bumroll (hidden)
The petticoat in the photo is a borrowed one but mine is similar.

I have also made
The ruff- an 8 metre length of printed mesh in his case instead of real bobbin lace
A petticoat (made of 10 metres of calico in two layers. In my opinion making this was about the equivalent of machine quilting a king size bed quilt.
The skirt - 4.5 metres of fabric which I have hand dyed and screenprinted with gold ink

I'm in the middle of completing the buttons which I am making by hand by embroidering around beads. I got the instructions from a website but can't find the address right now.

I don't want to show all the pieces until after the show but will try to put some detail shots up of the printing and beading.

Next I have to start on the bodice and sleeves but they may have to wait till next term. During the next holidays which start this Friday 17th June, I am off to Adelaide to do work experience in the costume room at the State Theatre. I'm hoping to work on some of the jewellery while I am over there staying with my cousin.

If you are having a clearout and want to get rid of lace, ribbons, beads, feathers (particularly ostrich feathers) and costume jewellery please consider sending them my way :-), I'll refund postage. I am also looking for hat-making blocks and will swap for hand dyed fabric.

Housework has been a bit neglected recently and today is the first non-rainy day for quite a while. I think I had better go and wash 4 loads of washing. Tune in for more costume making catch-up over the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Textile Events In New Zealand

The next New Zealand Quilt Symposium is in Taupo which is in the centre of the North Island of new Zealand. The dates are 18-23rd July 2013. Click here if you would like to register to receive information about Taupo symposium. 

There is also a mini symposium to be held in Nelson in 2012. Patches of Tasman will be held from 12th - 16th April 2012. I will be teaching my 'Modern Wagga', 'Fabric Painting & Printing' and 'Putting it into Perspective' classes there.

Queenstown Quilt Symposium

I have just got back to Wellington after a week as a tutor at the Remarkable Symposium in Queenstown. We all had a lovely time and it was nice to catch up with old friends (and new) in such a beautiful place. The autumn colours were really beautiful.

I arrived 15 mins before the tutors meeting on Monday because the plane was delayed  due to high winds in Wellington. There was snow on the mountains as we flew over the South Island.   I then worked 5 days without a day off to look around. There was an exhibition at a church that I never even managed to see because by the time I finished in the evening it was usually too late to get to it. It was very frustrating to not be able to see all the exhibitions but the quilts I did see were pretty amazing.

This morning I managed 1.5 hours looking in the Queenstown shops so I feel like I've done more than teach, eat, talk and stay at the hotel.

My students did amazing work in the 'Next Step' class which was on Tuesday and Wednesday.  My class sample for them looked like this
and the students were warned beforehand that their designs would not look anything like mine because of the process we would be following.

Here are some of their designs, published on this blog with the students permission. NB. If you made one of these quilts please email me you name so I can put it beside your quilt.

I was blown away by how different they all are. Thank-you to the Remarkable symposium 'Next step' class for letting me share these photos on my blog.

On Wednesday I taught the class' Modern Wagga'. A wagga is a 'utility quilt' often made with old clothes, tailors samples or whatever is to hand.  Here are some examples of quilts made in my class.

 We were lucky to have a small class and a large classroom so each student was able to use 3 or 4 tables to construct their 'wagga' and each was at least single bed sized which made them hard to photograph even when standing on a chair. Again, if your quilt is here tell me the colour and your name and I will attribute your work.

Here are some images from the flight home