Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Voila: Pinky Space Explosion Skirt

Yay, I made a skirt! Haha, imagine if I returned to the sewing blog world and didn't make anything? Let's hope I can keep it going, right!

Last year, I took myself on a little tour of the fabric market in Dongmen Lu (Lu is 'road' in Mandarin/Chinese and was the first thing I learnt living here) because I mainly wanted to sew cotton cushion covers (I had a project in mind using some vintage tea towels I'd brought over) but didn't have any cotton. So I was having a stickybeak around and found this hefty knit that I think is called 'neoprene', but now I'm looking at that (at the Mood Fabric's link) it looks too hefty... this is lighter, and obviously with the print explosions of space. Please let me know if you know the fabric, one thing shopping in the markets here, I don't know the names of anything, plus they have Chinese names. So, tricky!

But, it was cheap, and I got a metre for maybe 60RMB, which might have been 10 dollars Australian at the time, as it was really wide. I made a pattern from newspaper, thinking it'd be a tight-isn dress with floppy arms/sleeves built in, and then ... I cut it too short:

As you see above wearing my yoga pants underneath ^^^ EEP. I thought about adding a band, but then I actually didn't like how it felt around the arms, and the neckline felt weird. The fabric sews well, but it doesn't sit well unless it's totally stretched out. So I put it away for a while to think and last week thought I'd make a pencil skirt from it, and it worked out fine.

So it's a refashion or a Handmade Save, instead of an unfinished object. Being without a stash and with no 'To Do' pile of mending or anything, I've decided to use up all the fabric and finish all the sewing projects. We'll see how long that lasts!

So this time I used an existing pencil stretchy skirt from H&M that fits really well to shape it properly, and did thick elastic in the waistband, folded, basted to the skirt then overlocked together. I tried it on and I was like, wow, fits well, took 2 podcast episodes of 'Reply All' (they're short!) and then overlocked the hem because I just don't think this fabric would hem well, it'd just be like a bubble hem or something.

And so my 'fancy' outing wearing my Pinky Space Explosion Skirt was with this guy:

Two Year Old Felix! He's not really a Baby Darling anymore!

To this 'fancy' place:

The sandpit playground in a shopping centre.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Why Am I Here? Who Am I?

Now we're in Shanghai, my wonderfully talented photographer Husband (not his real job) is working. A LOT. That's why we are here, and it's only for a while, not forever. So I'm stuck taking self timer photos in my apartment while the weather is rainy. Stuck inside and pondering:

Why Am I Here? What am I doing here? Who am I? Why am I? (my Mandarin Teacher taught me ‘Who Am I’ in Chinese the other day and we just giggled)

I’m back blogging for a few reasons (all that other philosophical stuff will forever be questioned, but another time), and because we’re sewing friends, and craft stuff for ourselves and take photos of ourselves (most of us do these days, right?) and write about it… there's an overwhelming sense of joy.... I think you might know a bit about my thoughts here… 


So I wanna sew and create again to feel good all the time! I felt VERY VERY VERY happy sewing all the time and writing about it! I loved the way my clothes looked and I looked wearing them. I loved wearing stuff I made. I still do. So I’m after my happy sewing buzz again. 

But also, wearing my own clothes and making things fit right, usually always helped me:


Body-wise: I feel quite plain right now. So I’m hoping sewing & blogging will help me take some action! There’s nothing more motivating than seeing photos of yourself online in a public space to get a new spark or new ideas on body image! I need to be a bit more Posi-Tina Turner again. But I also want to put my image out there as ‘real woman’ image as well. I know it’s going to shock you, but I’ve NEVER been a model! I KNOW RIGHT. I was on telly a few times with my old job, in the BACKGROUND. But I’m a real woman and I want my clothes to fit me for my body and shape (and to show that off to the world) and if you can’t remember:

I’m 4 foot 11 and that’s 150 cm tall. SHORT PETITE

Real woman size right here. I started sewing because shop-bought clothing did not fit me properly! And right now, after almost 2 years of breastfeeding I have 10E bras instead of 10C bras. What a weird proportioned unique body! However, I am 36 years old and just moved to China and clothing fits me for the first time! I have to find stretchy tops to fit the bust, but clothing fits perfectly well! But I’ll get to that abundance of clothing choice in a minute.

Right now, another reason why I feel plain, is because my hair is a bit drab. Or I think so. My hair changed so much last year, post pregnancy & post breastfeeding, so I had to chop it off. Then coming to Shanghai it immediately dried out from the humidity, so I met up with a new hairdresser here and whilst I’m happy with the condition of my hair, it’s still not the boldest it’s been. Oh well, I think I’ll ALWAYS have some problem with my hair! 

Anyways I’m not sure about you, but when I’ve sewn for myself, I’ve always felt in tune with my body, happy with my body and how to look after it. And I’ve also worked (and maybe been a bit younger) so keep trim enough and all that… But I feel that for the few years where I’ve not been motivated to sew & create for myself, I didn’t have as much focus or pride in myself… and I’m not sure if I feel frumpy so therefore I am frumpy or the other way around… but having a baby and then breastfeeding (for close to 3 years my body wasn’t really mine) took a lot of energy for me so my priorities shifted a lot. 

Which leads me into another reason why I wanna sew and blog again... for slow fashion.


I found fast fashion (the kind where you are just walking around near the shops so you go into the shops and you buy the Ready To Wear stuff that’s in the shops, without any thinking about whether you need the clothes or not) when I moved to Shanghai. I dabbled a bit here and there before moving to China, with things I needed from the op shop & couldn't make quickly, then things I couldn’t find at the op shop I started to look in real life shopping centres. When we got to Shanghai, that’s all people do! Hang out in shopping centres! We did too... to escape the heat and now the cold, and because there are nice playgrounds for our boy to play in. And then you go shopping! And buy shit you don't need. I DON’T USUALLY DO THIS.

So! Fast fashion is everywhere because it’s CHINA! There's heaps more to say about this, but you can see what I'm on about right (!?)... I’m back is to keep writing about all this again, and to motivate myself to slow down with my clothing choices and I want be reminded about my thrifty and secondhandness and reuse, recycle and redo mantra….

Here I am, back in blogging, being a dork in front of the camera to feel happy and creative and shift my world again. I don’t want to be wishy washy with my ethics and values, I want to be true & have conviction. 

Hello again and can’t wait to sew along with you all again!*


*and not be pictured in entirely store bought clothing that fits very well, but is still from a Global Chain Store that says it's all about sustainability, but I don't know. I'm here to find out more about where clothing and fabric is made, so I can make good clothing choices! Hurray!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

How Did We Get Here?

In May 2014 my Husbie visited China for work. In July we decided he should take the new job, by September we were on the plane to Shanghai.

We packed up and ordered things, and moved things and sold things. We gave things away and we put things in storage. We laughed a lot, and hurried a lot, we stressed a lot and cried a bit. Sometimes (and even a bit now) we wished that other people helped us decide things. Made choices for us. Mapped our lives out and just did the things that were hard to do. But, after lots of talks & debate & discussions (and still that now), we are the makers. We make our lives, we decide and do and enjoy it.

It's thrilling and fucking scary moving countries. I still cannot believe we have done it. We did it.

So! Yes, I brought both my sewing machines to Shanghai, but hardly any supplies!

Here's what sewing supplies did come with me, and currently hang out in my Shanghai Sewing Studio (AKA the spare room for my parents to stay in - or any friend who cares to stop over!):

- Straight Stitch Sewing Machine
- Overlocker - DUR - I would die without this machine
- A Handmade for Kids Vintage book my friend Cat gave me
- A By Hand London Anna Pattern
- A McCalls Pattern Dress, for some reason, as I've never sewn it
- Oliver + S patterns for children - same reason as above
- A Sew Liberated book
- My pins because they remind me of my Grandmother
- A half knitted cowl-scarf
- A half knitted baby cardigan
- Some crochet hooks that are the same size I thing - oops!
- My computer, so I can podcast & blog (well try to - I've been fixing up the site these last few days - oops, I can't remember as much html anymore! I tried a few new templates, but the code just kept stuffing up!)
- An unstitcher - of course!

And I think that's about it!

Have you moved countries? What did you take? I forgot fabric scissors! OOPS, I bought some here instead, snippy snip!

Photos: Sewing Room packed up in Melbourne, and freshly cut flowers from Shanghai flower shop on our first day in town.

Saturday, 21 February 2015



It's been a while, right? I'm so glad I actually told you what was coming up, because otherwise it'd be a bit DUR what happened to Veronica Darling and her little darlings Husbie & Baby and all the sewing? The SEWING?! What happened to all the stash!? Time has gone so uncontrollably fast!

Well, the greatest thing is that we are A-OK and living in Shanghai, China, not Melbourne, Australia as last year. We moved in September and are SLOWLY settling in... there are a million reasons, but it takes a long time to get into daily life (for me, anyways) in China. It's amazing, crazy, sad without friends and family, but happy to make new friends, and all those other things... like getting lost without knowing the usual places to go but then amazed by other places that you accidentally stumble upon. The whole world as you know it is upside down. (We did not speak ANY Mandarin before we got to China - only Thank You = Xie Xie) (It's really hard moving to a new city without speaking the native language - well done to you if you've done it, WHAT! It's such crazy & scary thing.)

But, we are living our lives, right?

The challenges are very rewarding, and I'm high-fiving myself for the most simplest things... every day.

SO, hello again, I've missed writing here, and I've missed reading about your own creative selves, and while my life starts to settle Gretel, I'll start to split up my writing into different areas for different themes... more on that soon...

I started this blog as Veronica Darling to find a writing voice and to document what I sew and create. I've been doing this for a while now, and I'd like to keep going, because it's really still important to me to be ethical, sustainable, to reuse, recycle and redo where I can in this regard. Circumstances have changed in my life (new jobs, new roles, new houses, new countries) but of course, I'm still a creative-type that needs to keep going and doing and being.

There's a whole lot more I wanna talk about here, but for now, I'll say HELLO again, and see you around soon!

xoxo Veronica Darling

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Something Big


I haven't posted here for a while, because something big came up. Not a second pregnancy, like some of my friends have suspected. A big move.


Us little old Darlings are currently packing up, putting things in storage, selling stuff and giving stuff away ... and we'll be in China, in one of the largest cities, in less than 2 weeks.


I don't think it'll sink in until I'm there, or on the plane maybe.... ? Husbie's got a great job, and it all seemed like a perfect chance for a big challenge and a big adventure and yep... something big for all of us. Our boy turns 2 next month, and why not take in all these great adventures before you turn two?

So! I'm not 100% sure what I'll be doing yet. . . I know I'll be managing the family and helping and supporting us settle in to Shanghai! I'm still not 100% sure of my blog here, because there's a strong part of me that longs to write more than just sewing projects. So I'll see if I stay here or grow somewhere else. But I do know that there are so many of you I want to keep in touch with... and I'll either read your blogs, look at your facebook or your instagrams and many ways for us to keep in touch!

THANK YOU for being a blog friend, a supporter of DIY fashion and a general awesome person in the world! I really appreciate your comments and your emails and all the fun things about the sewing blogging world here online... it has grown SO much since I started writing here. We've all grown so much I reckon! LIFE, HEY?! xoxo

Talk soon,
Best, Veronica Darling xoxoxo

(P.S. these photos are from a good - and patient - friend's wedding in 2012 and you might see a little baby bump as I'm about 4 months pregs here too - taking test shots for Husbie to get the light right. I've packed up all my computer and these photos were my last collection to send off. It's really happening.)

(P.P.S. I am currently writing this in my sewing room, and you can't really call it a sewing room... there's only one dressmakers model here now ... no fabric, new machines, no iron... a room where lots of things once got made. A Room of One's Own - for sewing in this case - really is important.)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Why Hullo My Foxy Friend

How are you?! It's been a while, but like I mentioned when I was last here, I'm making things, but just haven't got space in my day to photograph and blog as well. You just do stuff and there's no time to stop and reflect.

Here's a foxy little friend I made for a new little human... she was born in September but for some reason with her I was DETERMINED to make her something by hand, so I finished it early this year, and popped it in the post a few weeks back. Or was it months back? CAN'T REMEMBER!

She's just a lovely little fox, this one!

The fabric is a piece from an all recycled stash from my mother's friend Chris who has oodles of scraps after lots of successful quilt-making. I drew up a pattern on butcher's paper, and then kinda winged it! It worked! It was so nice just pottering around here and there in the sewing room with toymaking... I wanted to get a friendly face, so googled a lot of toys and tried to get a little curious happy expression... what do you think?


I'm keen to make more... I've already started a green dinosaur! They're so easy really and a great scrap buster!

Hope you've been having a lovely year so far... I can't believe how quickly time flies! We've just got back from a quick family holiday in Auckland, which was lovely! I might get some photos together soon! My Husbie was also away in Shanghai for work, and we also got to have a wonderful brunch with sewing & blogging bestie Adey and her family. My baby is now a little boy, and we wrapped up breastfeeding recently, so he's extremely independent now! Work has been great, and I've been doing lots of on air projects and events this year already. We're so lucky and lovely right now at this stage in our lives...  and I would hashtag BLESSED but I find it creepy... and saccharine and sappy. LIVIN' is much better.


Love Veronica Darling xoxo

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Little Leftover Boy Jumper

You sew and you make and you sew and you make and you wear and you sometimes wear and you sometimes don't wear. And you don't take any photos. None! And then other times you take a photo of something you made before it gets worn. Rarely!

My boy is wearing this now, but I'll have to update my tshirt template (a cut up tshirt) for him because he's kinda getting too big for this already! Especially the sleeves! His baby arm rolls are still there, little cutie! The fabrics are all knits from the stash, I did start a dress from the mustard fabric, but it's kinda dorky and I might just make it a top ... haven't decided yet. This is the leftover bits for a nice warm jumper!

His face when he realised the pocket was amazing... my friend popped his toy car in there, and he was like "WHAT I CAN CARRY A CAR"! I love how much they're learning about the world at this age... soaking it all up!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Photographic Study of a Mama Darling (With Words)


Missed you! Oh my Darling Blog, I've been thinking of you! It's been busy for us here in the Darling World...

In the past week alone I:

  1. Made Hot Kissed Buns
  2. Produced a national radio comedy show for Good Friday, with 1500 audience members and countless radio listeners - a success!
  3. Saw over 15 comedians at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
  4. Made Rice-Almond Milk twice 
  5. Made Peanut Butter for a cutie bestie
  6. Worked my normal 2 day a week job
  7. Re-arranged the lounge room
  8. Built TWO IKEA sets of drawers for the boy's room
  9. Built an IKEA table & chairs for little boy to draw
  10. Built an IKEA chair for the lounge room
  11. Changed the lightbulb in the lounge room
  12. Took the boy to play with his friends on a rainy day play centre
  13. Made gold leggings to DIE for (or DIY for - LOL)
  14. Made a gold mini skirt for my friend to wear at the radio event
  15. Got drunk at a party (!)
  16. Had a hangover (first time in over 2 and a half years)
  17. Made date & macadamia nut bliss balls for a dinner party 
  18. Took the boy to playgroup in the Gardens
  19. Took the boy to his 18 month old immunisations (even though he's 19 months - we've been sick; ear infection, sinusitis, chest infection and pneumonia!)
  20. Made gozleme for tea for the first time!
Twenty things, that were significant for me in the past week! Now I'm listening to Future Islands & Hall & Oates and freezing the rest of the gozleme dough for next time. I have one more chair to build... might try and tackle that after the boy is asleep. 

Hope you've been well!