Print Envy

Top: Variety Hour

Skirt: Modcloth

Belt: Sportscraft

Shoes: Chie Mihara

Since 2008 (!) when I first started Frocks and Frou Frou, the offerings available for plus size women has just grown and grown and grown, but there’s still some glaring gaps in the market.

I love local indie designers Obus and Gorman (and Miranda Murphy, and Wolf and Mishka, and about eleventy hundred more hipster-cool brands that pop up at design markets) but one of the main things that they seem to share – apart from great prints and contemporary cuts – is the inability to go above a size 14.

Guy, I love prints, but I’ve reached a point where I need more than polkadots, stripes, and florals. I want abstract shapes, and geometric lines, and textile designs not just prints, and honestly, I’m finding them very few and far between.

There’s a girl who works in my office (with the most magnificent tumble-down, golden-red curls you’ve ever seen – if you know her, her you’ll know who I’m talking about). She’s absolutely lovely, and wears all the amazing kinds of cool prints and cuts that I wish I could squeeze myself into. There’s one particular top that she wears with some regularity, and when I told her how much I admired it she told me it was from Melbourne-based textile designer Cassie Byrne. The name rang a bell a few weeks later when I stumbled across Cassie herself at the Finders Keepers Market.

Cassie graduated RMIT in 2014, and has since worked as a freelance designer for clients including Beci Orpin, Milk and Sugar and Kuwaii. Her own brand, Variety Hour, offers cushions, bags, scarves and clothing printed with her bold and beautiful artwork which is often inspired by rock formations and natural fauna and flora.

I couldn’t resist trying one of the tops on… just in case… and was totally delighted to discover that the XL was forgiving enough to fit the Rack of Doom. It’s a boxy, flowing fit with a tapered waist and cuffed dolman sleeves and I wanted it in all of the prints, but limited myself to one – the Tropica.

Inspired by the sub-tropical rainforest of Gondwana, the print was hand painted using pigment inks, then printed in Melbourne on a lovely silk crepe de chine that drapes beautifully, and has held its colour and shape brilliantly over repeated wears and washes.

It’s has the colour and print that I’ve always loved, but with a bit of uniqueness and maturity that late-thirties-me appreciates. It’s definitely one of the more expensive pieces in my wardrobe, but has already proven itself worth the investment.

It was pretty exciting to see that earlier this year Variety Hour was picked up by US cult favourites, Anthropologie (including this top!), and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for this wonderful, local designer.




  Top: Uniqlo, remixed

Sweater: Uniqlo

Jeans: Levi’s Plus

Shoes: Novo

What’s this? A new post, and not even six weeks after the last one?

It’s cold, grey, wet day in Melbourne today, and I’m procrastinating a few other jobs on my list by doing that embroidered collar tutorial that I promised you. Behold! the first DIY post I’ve done in over a year (the last one was that heart tee remix from the start of 2016, yikes!)

I got the idea for this shirt after seeing a photo of the wonderful Stephanie Beatriz (the actor who plays Det. Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine) wearing a shirt with the words “fuck” and “off” embroidered on the collar. She pulls it off magnificently, but she’s about 193 levels of sass above me, so I thought I’d have a go and DIY myself something similar… but with a slightly less provocative catch phrase.

I chose “Feminist Killjoy” because, well, because I freaking love the phrase, and Stephanie Beatriz may be 193 levels of sass above me, but that doesn’t mean I have zero sass. I wore it and felt fierce and spent the whole day exchanging grins with women on the street and on public transport.

For the tutorial I’ve chosen a very Australian phrase: “Yeah, nah” (International readers – it means no. As opposed to “nah, yeah” which means yes).

For this project you just need a collared shirt, some embroidery thread, and a pencil or a disappearing ink fabric pen.

You can freehand the text straight onto the shirt, but my handwriting is atrocious so instead I used a font generator online and printed out the words to create a template to work from.

If you’re doing it this way the first thing you’ll have to do is position the template on the underside of the collar – make sure you’re using the correct word for each side, I feel like “Off Fuck” would have had a lot less impact!

Once you’re happy with the size and placement of the templates pin them in place (printed side to the fabric)

If you hold the collar up against the window you should be able to see the template through the fabric and you can trace the words on to the right side of the collar. I tend to do little dots, so the fabric doesn’t shift as I drag the pen around.

(Once you’ve got the template inscribed it’s worth going over it again on a flat surface.)

Embroidery floss is usually made up of six strands, which is probably too much for the kind of delicate work that you’re going to sew, so I cut a length and separate the threads so that the line that I sew will be made out of four strands.

Starting at the very beginning of one of the letters (and with the knot on the underside of the collar, but you guys probably could figure that out by yourselves) sew a stitch along the line of the template.

You’re going to be sewing a split-stitch, which is exactly what it sounds like. When you bring your needle back up from the underside, feed it halfway through the first stitch that you did.

Then the next stitch further along the line, and the next one halfway through the previous one. And so on, and so forth. You might have to make slightly smaller stitches around the tight curves.

And voila!

Super easy, and a really great way of fancying up a plain button-down shirt.

If you’re stumped for what to sew, here’s a couple of ideas I’m thinking of for next time:

  • Shine Bright
  • She Persisted
  • Read More
  • Love Thyself
  • Bite Me
  • What. Ever.

Any more ideas? Leave a comment!