Kitsch Bitsch Sydney Store Grand Opening

Please join us for champagne, nibbles and finger-snapping music at our new store opening!

Where: 258 Stanmore Rd, Stanmore, Sydney
When: From 6pm, Thursday 1st May 2014

Sydney bridal store shop opening vintage lace wedding dresses

We have been busily stitching our latest collection of one-of-a-kind dresses made from antique lace. We are now ready for  world domination  saving the world, one vintage dress at a time.

A big thank-you to my friends and family who have helped to get the store up and running. Special thanks go to my parents who paid for 12 years of private school education which allows me to play dress-ups for a living.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Free tutorial: DIY Clothes Rack

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

Working from home was no longer working. I had outgrown my tiny home studio and began to fear that police would find my body buried beneath a collapsed, 3-tonne pile of antique lace. Additionally, I was struggling to juggle a home-based business with three young children (NO YOU CAN’T TAKE MUMMY’S DRESSMAKING SCISSORS ONTO THE TRAMPOLINE).

I began to search for a larger studio space or ideally, a volcano lair. I stumbled upon a cute little shop for lease in my favourite part of town. Next door I discovered the most adorable shop, The Vintage Kitchen. My heart skipped a beat.

I excitedly texted my husband. He replied with the best sext I have ever received:

“I support your dream”.

Next came the colossal task of fitting-out a shop on a shoestring budget. I made some garment racks from recycled 15mm galvanised steel plumbing pipe. The pipe fittings were purchased new from a hardware store.  I painted the racks gloss black, but for a more industrial look, you could leave your rack unpainted.

The finished size of my rack is 1.8m tall, which is the perfect length to hang our antique lace maxi wedding dresses in our store.

You are all invited to our champagne opening very soon. Stay tuned for details!

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

You will need:

  • 4 x pipes 120cm long
  • 2 x pipes 40cm long
  • 4 x pipes 20cm long
  • 6 x tee fittings
  • 4 x elbows
  • 4 x nipples (!)
  • 2 x sockets
  • 2 x end caps
  • wrench
  • plumbing glue
  • undercoat and black enamel paint (optional)

diy garment clothes rack shop fittout galvanised plumbing pipe furniture how to free tutorial instructions

1. Assemble the bases

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

2. Assemble the top corners

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

3. Vertical post: Join a 120cm long pipe and a 40cm long pipe together with a socket

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

4. Join the two bases together with a 120cm long pipe. Screw the vertical posts into the bases.

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

5. Finally, screw in the horizontal top pipe. You will find that as you screw in one corner, the other corner will un-screw. You can solve this problem by applying some plumbing glue to the thread at each end of your horizontal top pipe.  Screw the pipe in half-way at each end.

DIY garment clothes rack how to instructions free tutorial galvanised steel plumbing pipe

Are you a DIY kind of gal? Subscribe to The Kitsch List for access to our library of free tutorials.

A Most Beautiful Word

black and white pregnant belly with Eli toddler

A survey of 40,000 people from non-English-speaking countries has voted the word mother as the most beautiful word in the English language. I don’t find mother a particularly beautiful-sounding word, I prefer epiphany or quintessence for the way they roll lyrically off the tongue.

The first word we speak. The first person to comfort us. Mother is love. Mother is home.

If mother has intrinsic beauty then why don’t I feel beautiful? I am mother to a son and two daughters. To them I am beautiful; they see what I can’t see. To them I am tickles and cupcakes and morning cuddles, my squishy belly a pillow. My daughters brush my hair and choose a vintage dress for me to wear each morning. They aspire to be like their mother.

It is not hard to see their beauty. They giggle and dance and sing. I stare at their cherubic faces as they lay sleeping. I kiss their velvety skin and breathe them deep into my lungs.

They marvel at what their bodies can do, how their legs can run and jump. They remind me of a time when legs were just legs. Before they were dimpled legs or hairy legs or jiggly legs. Before the lens of judgement. Before the term post baby body was even invented.

Mother. Inadequacy. Self-loathing.

My skin is creased and stretched, my hair is turning silver. Gravity is pulling at my breasts and they are past the point where they could get me into a nightclub for free.

I am overweight. I am tired. I am broken. How could I possibly be beautiful? Could I learn to see myself again with young eyes? As others see me?

I recognise beauty in my friends. They are smart and funny and gracious. We laugh out loud, our mouths full of cheese and wine, as we debate whether vertical stretch marks are more slimming than horizontal ones.  We discuss whether we should get pregnant again, just so we can stop trying to lose the baby weight. Together we turn the drudgery of motherhood into melodious laughter.  Like a Bordeaux, my friends have become more beautiful with age.

I stand in front of the mirror, frowning as I squeeze into my spanx. My daughter watches me, confused. Then she asks, “What are carbs?” She has overheard a conversation with a friend, not meant for her ears. It is in that moment that I decide to be beautiful.

I don’t want my children to learn that beauty is confined to the young, thin, taught and hairless. I want them to question an advertising industry which demands, “What is wrong with your body? EVERYTHING. How can you fix it? BUY OUR PRODUCT.”

I will allow myself to be beautiful. For my daughters. For me.

Oh, and in my opinion, the most beautiful non-English word? Fromage.

Dyeing Fabric with Mulberries

mulberry blackberry dye dyeing mulberries

There is such a thing as too many mulberries. Today my kids are moaning because once again I am cooking mulberry crumble. It breaks my heart to watch the glut of berries falling to waste on the ground.

My kids enjoy picking the mulberries more than they enjoy eating them. (David Attenborough voice) Left unattended, a 5 year old can cover her entire body in mulberries in just 3 minutes.

 

mulberries

 

I am reminded of the old mulberry tree at my grandmother’s house, the gnarly limbs heavy with fruit. My childhood holidays were spent scaling the trellis on my grandmother’s shed to reach the fruit, our purple-stained feet dangling from the tin roof as we filled our bellies with mulberries. For dessert we enjoyed mulberries with cream or icecream, back in the days when everything tasted delicious and nothing tasted of guilt.

 

mulberry tree

 

Countless times I have cursed our mulberry tree, as hungry birds feast on the fruit then roost above my clothes line, their droppings staining my white sheets purple.

Recalling my tea-dyeing experiment, I decided that the problem was the solution and collected a bucketful of fallen fruit, with the intention of dyeing some white cotton lace a lovely shade of purple.

My experiments with small swatches of lace produced colours varying from eggplant to lavender.

mulberry blackberry dye dyeing mulberries

dyeing with mulberries

 

Mulberry Fabric Dye

You will need:

  • 10 cups mulberries (you may substitute blackberries)
  • 500g salt
  • A pot large enough for the fabric to move freely
  • Large spoon or tongs to stir
  • Up to 500g dry fabric, natural fibers work best eg. cotton, wool, silk

Instructions:

  1. Wash the fabric first to remove any manufacturer’s chemicals which may interfere with the dyeing process. I recommend experimenting with small swatches first.
  2. Fill pot with water.
  3. Simmer mulberries with salt for 30 mins.
  4. Turn off the heat.
  5. Strain the liquid and discard mulberries.
  6. Add fabric to the pot. The fabric must be damp first, to eliminate air pockets.
  7. Soak fabric for up to one hour, depending on the desired shade. Stir every few minutes so the fabric takes the colour evenly.
  8. Rinse in cold water.

It is important that you wash your mulberry-dyed garments separately in cold water. Use a mild soap, as modern detergents are designed to remove stains such as mulberries.

 

Alyssa Devanny

tired mum drinking mulberry wine from a mug

Tonight my kids are having mulberry crumble and icecream for dinner because mummy is having mulberry wine for dinner.

 

World’s Easiest Mulberry Crumble Recipe:

  • 2/3 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 100g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1kg mulberries (or blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c
  2. Grind the almonds
  3. Mix the flour, sugar and ground almonds together.
  4. Add the diced butter and rub between your fingers until the texture resembles breadcrumbs.
  5. Divide the berries between 6 mugs or ramekins.
  6. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.
  7. Bake for 20 mins until the crumble is brown.
  8. Serve with icecream or double cream.

 

mulberry crumble recipe

Free pattern: 20 minute crochet lace gypsy skirt

free pattern DIY how to make a crochet skirt dress

 

Learn this simple technique to make a gypsy skirt using a round vintage crochet tablecloth. This pattern is so easy that my 9 year old daughter helped me to make it.

(Is it nepotism if I only hire my own children to work in my sweatshop?)

 

crochet skirt dress free instructions tutorial

 

This skirt takes only minutes to make, so you will have time for more important things like twirling.  You can even wear this skirt as a dress!

 

free pattern recycled lace tablecloth crochet circle skirt

 

Subscribe to The Kitsch List for exclusive access to our free crochet skirt tutorial and our library of free tutorials. Plus we will email you more free tutorials as we create them.

 

free pattern crocheted lace skirt upcycle tablecloth dress

 

Vintage lace bridesmaid dresses and wedding etiquette

Vintage crochet antique lace mini bridesmaid dress

Custom antique lace bridesmaid shift dress $387.00

 

antique tablecloth lace

 

I was tidying my studio and stumbled upon a long-forgotten box of scraps of antique cotton lace. I hate to refer to them as scraps, as some of the pieces were meticulously hand-made and over 100 years old. This lace was salvaged from damaged tablecloths, and from small pieces of lace left over from other projects. I couldn’t bear to throw the scraps away, so for years I hoarded them, confident that inspiration would eventually set them free, and they could continue their journey reborn as something new. This is what I do best; turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Then I remembered the Mexican dresses from the 1960′s, and the resourcefulness of the Mexican women, who created inexpensive but beautiful wedding dresses from small pieces of lace and embroidery, stitched together.

vintage mexican lace embroidered wedding dress

 

I began to experiment, mixing different pieces of lace together, and the result is a sweet little shift dress which features in this month’s issue of White magazine. This bohemian 60′s-style dress has turned out to be a popular choice for bridesmaids.

Gone are the days of the traditional bridesmaid dress, of formal wedding photographs and throwing confetti. As a brideslave, you may be asked to instead blow bubbles or throw glitter or butterflies at the bride and groom. Try to resist the urge to throw cake. Or ninja stars. Or a tantrum.

Crying at weddings is still in fashion, with the added benefit that by the end of the day, your lips will resemble Angelina Jolie’s.

At every wedding, there’s always one drunk bridesmaid who cry-sings to the music, tells everyone she loves them, then throws up in the toilet (has anyone seen my dress?).

 

vintage crochet lace antique bridesmaid dress

Custom antique lace bridesmaid shift dress $387.00

This dress can be custom-made to your bridesmaid’s measurements . Email me at alyssa@kitschbitsch.com.au  for free lace samples.

How to make a crochet granny square jacket

hooded crocheted granny square jacket coat pattern

Over the years, I have made hundreds of woollen granny square jackets from recycled crochet blankets, and have received even more requests to share the pattern.

I no longer like doing things unless they involve crochet, red wine or direct deposits into my bank account, so I have written a pattern which satisfies all three. Hooray!

The Hooded Crochet Granny Square Jacket Pattern is now available for download in our store!

Learn the techniques required to make your own one-of-a-kind jacket, in your desired size and colours.

This pattern is tailored to accommodate beginners, and is a great way to utilise scraps of woollen yarn left over from other projects. There is no complicated increasing or decreasing crochet stitches, this jacket is made up entirely of whole squares stitched together.

This jacket is so comfortable and warm, once you put it on you will never want to take it off.

What’s in the pattern?

Once you download this pdf pattern, you will find 37 pages of easy, step-by-step instructions with colour photographs. You will learn:

  • how to make a granny square
  • how to assemble your granny squares into a jacket
  • how to recycle a vintage granny square blanket into a jacket

How much does the pattern cost?

$15.00 AUD will get you started on your one-of-a-kind jacket.

This pattern is available for instant download in our store. You will receive a digital pdf file, you will not receive a paper pattern in the post.

Here’s how to get started:

Click on the picture below to download the pdf pattern from our store.

crochet granny square jacket coat free pattern

And watch for me on the next episode of Hoarders: Granny Square Blankets. I’m the girl who looks like she’s wearing your Gran’s couch.

 

How to make a coat from recycled jumpers

 

Katwise sweater coat

Katwise sweater coat

Katwise sweater coat

Katwise sweater coat

For sometime now I have been stalking the Etsy store belonging to the eccentric Katwise. I have fallen irretrievably in love with Kat and her intoxicatingly colourful twirly patchwork coats, handmade from recycled jumpers. Mind. Completely. Blown.

The quirky Katwise label is the antithesis of fast, disposable fashion, and has sparked a new trend on Etsy. Put on one of these whimsical works of art and your sadness will instantly evaporate. Her elf coats are highly sought after so thankfully, Katwise has put together a pattern so we can all make our own. Most excellent. There is also a video here. (How many times is it okay to watch this? Because I can’t stop).

Inspired by Katwise, I have made my own version of the patchwork jumper coat. It feels like wearing a large cosy blanket. Every time I put on this coat I wonder, “Does this make me look like a crazy old vagrant lady?” And then I whisper, “Who said that?”

how to make a felted sweater coat

Kitsch Bitsch recycled reversible jumper coat

free pattern felted wool hooded coat How to sew a reversible wool jacket from recycled sweaters

This coat is a great way to recycle any jumpers you own with holes or which you have accidentally shrunk in the wash. You will need around 6 woollen jumpers, which you can find for a few dollars at any charity store.  If you’re clumsy like me, buy the jumpers the same colour as the wine you drink.

Subscribe to The Kitsch List for exclusive access to our free patchwork coat tutorial and our library of free tutorials. Plus we will email you more free tutorials as we create them.

She Who Only Wears Pink Things

vintage embroidered tablecloth antique wedding dress

“Sleeping Beauty” antique embroidered wedding dress

I have a dress-up box in my daughters’ bedroom, full of treasures collected from my second-hand shopping adventures. There are silk scarves, fur stoles, antique clip-on earrings, hats, gloves and glomesh handbags. The kinds of things I adored as a child and still do.

Unfortunately, both of my daughters are only interested in wearing Disney princess costumes in various shades of glittery pink. Even more worrisome is their tendency to argue over which of them is the prettiest princess. It is going to be a long rest of my life.

I have tried explaining to my girls that in a constitutional monarchy, it is parliment which has the real power. I have told them that in the original version of “The Little Mermaid”, Ariel got her legs, forgot about the prince and walked straight to Just Jeans to buy jorts. I have told them that Sleeping Beauty took the boning out of her corset and used it to make man. However my protests are ignored, and they continue to role-play rescues by a handsome prince, followed by an elaborate, pink fairytale wedding.

Perhaps I am to blame because I make wedding dresses for a living. Perhaps I am to blame for letting my daughters inhale too much nail polish. Perhaps Disney is to blame for continuing to fantasise about an era that never really existed. Is there some kind of support group for parents of princesses?

Recently my daughter Keira, begged me to sew her a Snow White costume. My older daughter Nina, was busy drawing lace-up, princess-style dresses. I then had the idea of designing a wedding dress together.

Based on Nina’s drawings, I made a few dresses from salvaged antique embroidered tablecloths and doilies. Often the centre of the cloth is worn or stained but the embroidery around the edge is pristine. There are countless hours worth of hand-embroidery in these dresses.

antique embroidered vintage tablecloth doily wedding dress

“Sleeping “Beauty” antique embroidered wedding dress

antique embroidered doily tablecloth lace vintage wedding dress

“Sleeping Beauty” hand-embroidered antique wedding dress

 

Antique embroidered tablecloth doily vintage wedding dress

Antique embroidered tablecloth wedding dress

vintage hand embroidery cross stitch antique tablecloth wedding dress

“Sleeping Beauty” antique hand cross-stitch wedding dress

Like the idea of a wedding dress with a history? I have a pile of hand-embroidered tablecloths and doilies, some of which are over 100 years old. Email me at alyssa@kitschbitsch.com.au for a custom order.

Reminder: If you accidentally fart during your wedding ceremony, follow it up with a royal wave, because you are a princess.

That Dolce Gabbana Silk Scarf Dress

Dolce and Gabbana silk scarf maxi dress Spring Summer 2012

Kitsch Bitsch vintage silk scarf maxi dress $387.00

 

It has been the hottest summer on record in Australia so I have been wearing lightweight, floaty maxi dresses made from natural fibres. I like to wear maxi dresses because it means I don’t have to shave my legs as often. Fellas?

After reading our free DIY silk scarf tunic tutorial, one of my readers sent me a photo of a Dolce & Gabbana scarf dress from their Summer Spring 2012 collection. She asked me to make her a dress from my stash of vintage silk scarves. I excitedly agreed.

I love the clash of vivid colours and bold patterns in this collection:

Dolce Gabbana silk scarf maxi dress Summer Spring 2012

Dolce Gabbana silk scarf maxi Summer Spring 2012

(Why do the models look so sad? Can I give them a glass of full cream milk? Why is everybody wearing sunglasses? Sorry, this is my first fashion show.)

Since I began my scarf-dress project, every night I have been dreaming in technicolour scarves. Sometimes while I am working with the scarves, two colours unite in a fiery moment which makes my heart skip a beat.

Dolce Gabbana strapless silk scarf maxi dress

Kitsch Bitsch custom strapless vintage silk scarf maxi dress $357.00

 

Dolce Gabbana off the shoulder silk scarf maxi dress

Kitsch Bitsch custom vintage silk scarf maxi dress $387.00

 

dolce Gabbana vintage silk scarf dress

Kitsch Bitsch custom vintage silk scarf dress $387.00

 

dolce Gabanna silk scarf dress

Kitsch Bitsch custom silk scarf dress $387.00

 

dolce and Gabbana silk scarf maxi dress

Kitsch Bitsch custom silk scarf dress $357.00

 

I have about 30 vintage silk scarves left in my vault, which is only enough to make a few more dresses. So if you missed out on a dress in our store, quickly email me at alyssa@kitschbitsch.com.au for a custom order.

 

Below are some more Dolce & Gabbana scarf dresses (season must-have: bulimia)

Dolce & Gabbana silk scarf dress Summer Spring 2012

Dolce & Gabbana silk scarf dresses Summer Spring 2012

 

Dolce Gabanna silk scarf dress Spring Summer 2012

Dolce Gabanna silk scarf dress Spring Summer 2012

 

Dolce & Gabbana silk scarf maxi dress

Dolce Gabbana silk scarf maxi dress Summer Spring 2012

 

I’m off to pick up my kids from school now, wearing my silk scarf dress and lipstick, because this is about as fancy as my life gets.