A quick pair of earrings

So I’m totally in love with the new series ‘Penny Dreadful’.   In particular, the character Vanessa Ives – all dark, sexy and poised.  Exquisite.  And those earrings she wore.

Episode 101

I was inspired to make a pair like them after finding an antique onyx pendant at Rozelle Markets in Sydney.

It’s been quite some time since I learned the basics of jewellery making – but nonetheless decided to make these earrings.  I found some Onyx beads at a small beading store on Parramatta Rd, Stanmore and used some existing bits and pieces from my previous dabblings in jewellery.

I was quite rusty, especially with the learned art of hand/wrist action when twisting jewellery wire.    However, I’m pleased to report that the muscle memory came good and I now have a lovely new pair of Vanessa Ives earrings to match my new pendant.



Fishtail Skirt

A recent event had me a busily sewing a skirt which I could wear with my new corset.   Much deliberation with a friend had me finally decide to make something inspired by this long fishtail skirt

fishtail skirt inspiration

I started out with dress pattern Simplicity 1541 to give me the fit I required for the top of the skirt.    I made a calico mock up of the longer skirt and then extended each gore of the skirt with more fabric to add the floor length fishtail.    I also tapered in the original pattern substantially around my knees to create a figure hugging style.


It all came along rather well until I realised that the amount I’d taken the skirt in around my knees meant that I couldn’t pull my skirt up to attend calls of nature.    I remedied this by widening the black layer a little and by ending the seam of the red top layer a couple of inches higher.   It could also be fixed by sewing with stretch fabrics in the first place.

The skirt is made of two layers, the hip area of each layer being identical.     This will fit together when the skirt is complete.

The top layer is shorter than the bottom one and not flared to the same degree.  I have split it up the back and added a satin bias binding around the bottom.   Hemming flared fabric is just too difficult for me to contemplate.

The bottom layer started out with the same cut as the top, but longer.    I then added large wedge shaped fabric pieces in the lower side seams of the skirt to add volume.    The layers of ruffled lace at the back have been sewn onto another large wedge and fitted into the back seam.    I also finished the lower edge of the bottom layer with ruffled lace.   The lace I chose was 5 1/2″ wide and I gathered it using a ruffler foot.  I worked using 3:1 ratio of gathering.   I’m so in love with my ruffler foot!  Makes gathering a breeze.



Apologies for my dodgy drawings, but hopefully they make sense of how I described the construction of each layer.

Once the two layers were complete I basted them together and attached to a waistband.  I then inserted corset grommets for the lacing down the back.     There is no zip on the skirt – I have to lace myself in and out of the skirt.    The lacing is open at both the top and bottom.

IMG_4418 IMG_4411IMG_4427IMG_4432


All in all, I’m very happy with the result.   And had a fabulous night out with the girls while wearing it.

Steampunk Utility Belt

This backpack was given to me by my hubby about 20 years ago.   It had become very worn out and should probably have been retired, but the emotional attachments were strong.  I decided that rather than living all sad and unused in the bottom of my wardrobe, I would be better off giving it a new lease of life.


I started by unpicking the seams and removing the pockets from the outside.   These pockets will become the core pieces for the utility belt.   I cut leather from the back and bottom of the bag to make backs for the pockets and also wide belt loops on the back of the pockets.



Putting the leather pockets together was a bit tricky.  The sewing machine struggled, but we got through.   And I cut the pocket backs a little small by mistake, so put a few extra darts in the front sections to make them fit.

The buckle on the front pocket (see below) was cut from one of the backpack’s straps.   I sewed the top of the strap into the top of the pocket and super-glued the bottom to the pocket.   I would have preferred to sew it on, but it was an afterthought and superglue was my best remaining option.

Anyway, here is the final work.   Because of the belt loops, I can move the pockets on or off my belt or position differently as required.   Now, all I need is a Steampunk event!