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For Jo-Anne: colleague, mentor, friend, inspiration

I know many of you follow Jo-Anne’s fabulous museum and textile blog: Zho Zho’s Textile Adventures.  It’s been featured in my side bar for the last month.  It’s time to change it for my October feature, but right now I can’t.

Jo-Anne never mentioned it on her blog, or to any of her followers and online friends, but she has been fighting cancer for well over a decade.  She wanted her life, and her blog, to be about the things she loved, and enjoyed: fabric and history, colour and design, the wonderful minutiae of a thousand lives well lived in museum objects, and the joy of new creations.  She didn’t want it to be about her illness: the long slog, yet another test or treatment or trip to the doctor.  That wasn’t her life, that was something that was thrust on her.  Her life was her family and friends and art and fabric and discovery.

Jo was so full of life in herself, and had fought so long, and defied so many expectations, that I just thought she would keep miraculously winning every battle.  Not this time.  Jo is in the hospital under sedation, and she doesn’t have long left.

If you want to leave a message for Jo here or on her blog her son will try to read it for her.  I’m sure her family would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

The photographs in this post are from a visit Jo-Anne in June.  We walked around the waterfront hill in Tauranga and watched the waves crash against the rocks, and the light break through the winter stormclouds.  She told me then about her health, and I think she tried to warn me then that she didn’t have much time, but so gently that it didn’t cast a shadow on our time together.  The last time I talked to her she told me not to worry about housework: better to have an untidy house and a gorgeous dress than a perfect house with no sewing!  That’s Jo through and through: facing reality, but focusing on the really important things: friends and family, creativity and creation, learning and discovery, all with a bit of humour.

I am so privileged to have known Jo, and so grateful for every moment I spent with her.  There are a thousand more things I could say about how she inspired me, and taught me in person and through her blog.  I wish I could have more time with her, more posts on her blog, more trips to see her, more photographs, more everything, but that’s not Jo: you have to enjoy what you have.  I am so blessed that I have had her in my life.

Emile/Neil the Zombie killer

I don’t have nearly as many pictures of Emile as Elizabeth, but I did get a great series from an acting session of total awesomeness.

Emile was practicing the scene where he confronts the zombies and Murder Legendre, and they got a bunch of people to stand around him and yell “GRRrarrr!” and he turned and “shot’ the person as they yelled.  I got 20 photos in under a minute as he jumped from side to side.

Emile in his jacket, on the alert for zombies




Along with the 3 hour jacket Emile is wearing a pair of jodhpurs from a costume shop that I altered slightly, dreadful riding boot patterned gumboots (rubber wellys), and a linen shirt.


White Zombie and the 3 hour jacket

Originally I was only contracted to make Elizabeth/Madge’s shroud dress for the PorcelainToy White Zombie music video, but a few days before shooting began it became clear that the jacket they had found for Emile to wear as Neil just wasn’t cutting it, so I said I would whip up something.

Bela Lugosi as Murder Legendre and John Harron as Neil Parker in his tropical jacket & jodhpurs

And whip up something was right:  I was still making last minute adjustments to the dress and embroidering pearls on it at every opportunity, so I didn’t have a lot of spare time.  The jacket was going to have to be fast and easy, and adjustable: I had no time for a fitting!

So I had a mad rummage through my fabric stash, came up with some calico/muslin* that was the right colour and handle, and then found a jacket pattern I have used for Mr Dreamy.  Luckily Emile of PorcelainToy is almost exactly the same size, so I could be a little less concerned about fit.

Even with a good pattern I didn’t have enough time to make a jacket by myself, so I called in a favour from Shell, and she came over to my place and we got to work.

She cut the muslin while I sewed pearls on the dress, and then I pinned a few jacket pieces together, handed them to her at the sewing machine, pinned the next pieces while she sewed, and pressed the sewn pieces as they came off the machine and pinned them to the next pieces.

With both of us working on it full speed the jacket just came together in just a few hours.  We started at 3, and by 6 we had a jacket.

I had to do the sleeve-setting in, the buttons, and the collar by myself as that was a bit above Shell’s comfort zone, but really the whole tandem sewing thing is an awesome time saver: you don’t waste anything walking from your machine to the iron!

When the jacket was finished Shell looked at it and said “You tricked me!  I don’t know how to make a jacket, and you got me to do it!”  Now I just need to trick Shell into making her wedding dress (spoilers!)

The jacket is just simple calico/muslin, flat lined with a crisp calico/muslin.  It’s unlined, so that I could adjust the size if I needed to.  For three hours I’m super happy with it.  The collar is a bit weak and wonky, but it’s been years since I did one and I didn’t have a direction sheet, so I still call it a win.

Emile and Elizabeth share a moment

Elizabeth watches Emile kill zombies

Rescuing Elizabeth

Tomorrow I’ll show you images of Emile in the jacket from a seriously awesome photoshoot.


* See this post if you wonder why I am using both terms