Sewing, What I wear

And a parakeet in a pohutakawa tree

A Parakeet sundress

As we do most years, Mr Dreamy & I are spending Christmas in sunny Nelson with his parents.  Nelson is famous for its good weather (though, ironically, every time  we spend Christmas in Nelson  it is  even hotter and nicer in Wellington than in Nelson), so that means I need lots of shorts and light tops and little summer frocks.  With a little free time before the holidays, I’ve been giving my summer wardrobe a refresh.

Mostly I’ve been making not-very-exciting T-shirts and other basics, but high on the to-sew list was a dress made from a meter of  amazing parakeet* patterned silk-cotton I found at the most recent Fabric-a-Brac fair in Wellington.

A Parakeet Christmas dress

My father used to breed parakeets, and, while I’ve never owned one, I’ve definitely inherited an affinity for them.  The sound of a chatter of parakeets is one of the happiest, most restful sounds I know.  It’s just impossible to be stressed listening to them!

A Parakeet sundress

Sadly, I’m unlikely to every have parakeets of my own.  Mr D dislikes birds and there is Felicity to worry about…

So I’ll just have to content myself with occasional happy moments with other people’s birds, and with making parakeet patterned frocks!

A Parakeet sundress

This one gave me a bit of trouble in the design stage – I only had a meter, and the silk cotton is too delicate to make anything fitted out of, and isn’t drapey enough to make anything that would cling on its own out of.  The obvious choice was a Henrietta Maria, but there wasn’t enough fabric, and I didn’t want the design of the dress to take away from the print at all.  So I settled on the simplest possible design: a halter shift-dress (essentially, a pillowcase dress for an adult).

A Parakeet sundress

I picked up a bit of dark coral silk crepe from The Fabric Store (where 20cm of it cost me as much as the entire piece of silk-cotton!) for the neck tie, and rummaged up a length of white silk-cotton I’d found at an op-shop only a few weeks before (whoop whoop!) for a lining.

The whole thing only took a few hours to put together (whoop whoop!) and I’m pretty pleased with the result.  If I lived in a warm-for-more-than-11-days-of-the-year climate I could see myself making a lot of these.

It made the perfect relaxed Christmas day dress: dressy and celebratory without being fussy (something I could not say for the fitted silk charmeuse dress I’m also working on at the moment).  It worked for sitting on the porch swing in the morning shelling peas, making the Christmas salad, and eating just a wee bit too much (only by a teeny little bit…) at the family lunch.

A Parakeet sundress

It was also comfortable enough to play the traditional post-lunch games of petanque.  We play by a set of house rules that allows my trademark one-foot-fling, and that requires that disputes as to the nearest ball to the piggy be settled with the use of my ever-handy measuring tape.

A Parakeet sundress note: this is not a posed picture!)

A very satisfying sew, and it will get lots of use this year as we’re going home to Hawaii at the start of winter (YAY!) and I’ll be in LA for CoCo (double YAY!).

The only tiny hesitation I have about it is the length.  I’m not used to skirts that end above my knee!  I think I’m beginning to realise that the days of my being able to wear short skirts are definitely numbered, and I’d better take advantage while I can.  😉

A Parakeet sundress


In other news, I’m giving  the ‘statement brow’ trend  a try.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  My brows are naturally quite thin and delicate, and the same unusual caramel colour of my hair, so when I catch a glimpse of my face and they are so BOLD (well, even visible at all) it feels weird – like I’m wearing clown makeup.  What do you think?

A Parakeet Sunfrock

I hope everyone else had a peaceful and happy Christmas!

A Parakeet sundress

* Even though it is a more precise and accurate term, I just can’t make myself call them budgerigars.  It’s such an ugly word, and even the otherwise adorable ‘budgie’ has been ruined for me by ‘budgie smugglers.’


  1. Tegan says

    A) The dress is gorgeous — I’m not sure I would’ve done anything other than a blouse with that little fabric!
    B) The brows are great. Being of Ukrainian stock, I’ve got dark dark bold eyebrows myself, and I often find myself confused when someone has (what I consider) no eyebrows. 😛 So if you hadn’t pointed it out, I wouldn’t have noticed your change. It was only upon reflection that yes, I did tend to think you needed a little oomph 😉

    That being said, you do you. How do you feel about them, seeing them in the pics?

    • A) Thank you! It’s amazing how far a meter of fabric goes if you get rid of the sleeves. I’ve actually got enough left to make the yoke of a simple T-shirt blouse.

      B) Funny, I’ve got a friend who is Ukrainian with blond hair and very dark brows, and she comments on my lack-of-brow! I like them in pictures, I’m just not sure about them IRL. I think I should play with the brow colour just a little. They aren’t permanent though, so I can pick and choose on any given day.

  2. Ann Seabolt says

    I think your brows look quite lovely. They really give your face some oomph factor.

  3. What a lovely time! You look pretty and happy.

    I’m a blond and have barely visible brows and invisible eyelashes so I get the shock factor – I had that when I dyed my lashes/brows. That said I think they look great and I never would have known if you hadn’t mentioned them.

    How wonderful you’re coming to Costume College and I’ll get a chance to meet you! 🙂

    • Thank you! For me, looking happy and looking beautiful are almost the same thing. I have trouble reading blogs where the blogger never smiles.

      Yay about CoCo! It’s going to be so exciting to meet so many costumers whose blogs I read all the time!

  4. The dress looks great, and as for the brows, they really emphasise your eyes. I THOUGHT you’d done something new with your makeup, but couldn’t put my finger on precisely what until you mentioned it! x

  5. I, too, wondered if you’d done something different with your makeup — love the brows. They don’t look too bold at all, just natural and nice (says someone who’s owned a brow pencil since the 90s, and is now in love with brow mascara). I think you have a new go-to look for whenever you want to get a bit more gussied up.

    The dress is totes cute, and you should totally rock the shorter skirts as long as your heart desires!

    • Thank you!

      I seem to remember a not-particularly-successful attempt to shape my eyebrows at a Pretty Pretty Party that culminated in you saying “There is nothing here to shape!” 😉

      I too have owned a brow pencil since the 90s – I just buy them, use them once, forget they exist, find them and toss them! 😉 I shall have a look into brow mascara.

  6. I love the dress – so simple.
    And your brows look great. I know what you mean about the shock of seeing them though. I have golden-red hair, which is wonderful, but the downside is that my eyebrows and eyelashes are practically transparent. I’ve had them dyed before but that was a little bit too much of a shock for me. In the UK at the moment though, brow palettes seem to be the latest craze for cosmetics and I gave one a try in order to create a more 1940s/50s look to go with some of my outfits. It was definitely weird at first because I’m not used to it but I love the way it looks in photographs. I find it defines the face much more just like yours. Although if you hadn’t have mentioned it I wouldn’t have known you’d done anything – I just thought you looked beautiful in your pictures.

    • Thank you! Sometimes simple is definitely best.

      I agree that the brow thing looks good in photos. I’m still a little undecided about how I feel about it IRL, but you guys are certainly convincing me!

  7. Bird!!!! 😀 I have two crazy parakeets and one conure so this dress makes me happy! There really is nothing quite as lovely as the sound of little parakeets singing and playing.

  8. Love the dress – sophisticated and easy-to-wear at the same time! And I really like your eyebrows like that – I noticed them right away. They frame your face and bring out your lovely eyes more.

  9. I like the “statement brow”. It suits you well, and doesn’t look a bit clownish in these photos.

    And the dress, as you said, is a lovely one for a relaxed Christmas day, with a big red bow for the season.

  10. Simple and effective! The dress, I mean. The silk tie/shawl is awesome.
    I can’t really comment on the brows, because I fall into the group that, for “cultural” reasons, didn’t even notice! I guess Czechs (or my breed of Czech with Moravian Wallachian roots) and Ukrainians do have as much in common. 😀
    Parakeets, especially green-and-yellow ones, put me in mind of my grandma and grandpa, who have had a number of such in succession, so: happy times, too. There is, indeed, something very, say, soothing in their chatter.
    Also: peas! I would have been tempted to eat about half of that as is on my own… What kind of Christmas salad do you make? I am intrigued, since the traditional Czech Christmas meal is potato salad. Peas optional; many people put them in, I happen not to, but not for lack of liking, mostly because I always forget about them.

  11. Thank you! Nothing like an enormous bow to dress up a frock 😉

    My sisters who look like more the Croatian & Slovenian side of the family definitely have more eyebrows than me, so it must extend all the way to the coast! I mostly got the northern looks though (except for the legs – I have Croatian legs not Scandinavian legs, le sigh), so no eyebrows.

    I don’t love raw peas, but I certainly do notice the difference in taste between homegrown ones and commercial – it’s amazing! These ones were all straight out of grandpas garden.

    There are a lot of options for a traditional Christmas dinner in NZ: ham, turkey, a barbecue with lots of seafood. The only thing that is practically mandatory is a pavlova (a kind of meringue served with cream and berries) for dessert.

    Mr D’s family usually goes with ham, with lots of side salads to lighten it up (and for me). None of the salads are ‘traditional’ per se, though his family makes a rice salad with cashews and cranberries and capsicum for so many celebrations it’s practically a tradition. This Christmas I made a simple green salad with lettuce from my garden, cucumber, tomato, avocado, and a bit of basil for zing, and an Israeli salad with spinach, pita croutons, dates, almonds, and pickled onion.

    Growing up, my family often made a salted and pickled cucumber salad for holiday meals, and I think it was something my grandfather made, so it may be of Slovenian origin.

    • Cucumber salad does put me in mind of the Balkans, although whether that impression has basis in fact, who knows!
      And guess what, I had no idea that capsisum was another name for bell peppers. I always learn something new from you! 🙂

      The traditional Czech dish is carp (most often fried, or with black sauce, which is more traditional, but I don’t think may people make it that way). Many people go for some other type of fish altogether, though, because carp has a lot of sharp bones, so that’s not so good especially with small children! Or you can have the potato salad with schnitzels, or with wine sausage – which is what we most often go for. There are definite German influences on all this, I think.
      Plus gingerbread and other cookies (Lintzer cookies are another nearly indispensable kind).
      And pea soup for lunch at Christmas Eve. Again, not all people make it, but for us, it is almost traditional. I made it for the first time this year, and it turned out very good, if I say so myself. 😀

      • Tegan says

        There’s a Ukrainian Catholic tradition that has the feast on Christmas Eve, when a good Catholic is still fasting. So most of the tasties that make a feast delightful are missing. 🙁 Pea soup is one of the courses, mushroom soup another, sauerkraut, pierogi, unleavened bread with honey, stewed prunes, and boiled potatoes as far as the eye can see. Although you’re not supposed to have dairy or fat (or meat) in the meal, we make the pierogi like normal as it’s not worth bland boring pierogi if you’re putting that much effort in.

        Eastern Europeans unite in food 😀

        • We also have the dinner or Christmas Eve – thus the fish, I believe. Of course, most Czechs are not good Catholics, so they no longer care. 😀 And since the Czech lands are most definitively Central Europe, with all the cultural crossroads that suggests… a lot of German influences on the food, as I said.
          Dried fruits are another favourite treat, though! You can, of course, get figs and dates, but there are also more local things. Like dried apple slices – nom. And yes, prunes. Originally, when fruit needed to be preserved as one’s own produce, Czechs went a lot for dried pears, too, although these days, when pears in a shop are quite expensive… I think this was the first year anyone in my family made dried pears.

  12. Elise says

    Lovely dress! I love birds, too–especially on little girls. (My obsession with Boden started because their prints always featured birds!) Sadly, this puts me in mind of my beloved grandmother, who died last week. She adored birds, and now when I dress my daughter (or see a picture like the above), I send a little smile up for her.

    Looks like you had a lovely time over Christmas, and I hope that you have a swell time in HI and in LA. You know, a tunic like that would look great over long palazzo-style pants.

  13. bovine queen says

    Hey, what is happening to my posts??? They are not getting published or else are being shown for just a few minutes.

    • I suspect it is because you’re using what is either a fake email address, or an email that my spam blocker thinks is spam because it links to a large commercial website, so my spam guard tags your posts and spams them. If I find your comments in my spam, I dig them out and rescue them, but I don’t always check the spam folder before it clears itself. Try using a persona email address and that should help.

  14. In love with your little frock! I love birds, and I especially love bird-printed silk 🙂
    Your brows look lovely! Great shade of brown for your complexion and hair. You can play around with brown eyeshadows and an eyeliner brush if you want to experiment with different shades and looks!

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