Friday, March 21, 2008

Modest Swimwear Solutions

Summer is just around the corner for the northern hemisphere, and here in the south we've been reminded again what midsummer heat can be like, so here are some more swimwear options for you.

I'm delighted to have discovered Modest Swimwear Solutions, a Canadian company offering a colourful range of ready-made swimsuits, custom-made versions made your specifications, or if you've got the needle but not the $$, you can purchase a ready-to-sew fabric and pattern kit.

I'm intrigued by the Burqini, a curious term for a thoughtfully, professionally crafted garment that has opened a new world to many women previously restricted from water exercise. It can be worn with or without the headpiece.

The Daily Mail featured an article about it here, and so did the Sydney Morning Herald -- here.

The Burqini and Bodykini (below) are ideal for women who want to limit their exposure to the sun. They provide good coverage whilst still allowing freedom of movement. The Bodykini website states the garment is suitable for swimmer athletes. Try it and let us know what you think!

Bodykini swimwear isn't exclusive to Muslim women. Women cover their bodies for cultural, religious and even medical reasons. These suits are handy because they allow women to enjoy swimming without the hassles of wearing leggings, bigshirts and the like.

UK variations can be found at -- see the following 5 images for examples --

and Brazil's AquaGym offers the following styles here -- tip: check the hem of the trousers.

Remember that buying swimsuits at the close of the summer season will often reap a significant discount from the regular selling price. This works well for southerners buying from the northern hemisphere, as Autumn Sales in the north coincide with the south's pre-summer thoughts on water wear options, and vice versa for the northerners.

Tuning in to the Tunic Suit

My Discovery
By B'Ethel Williams

We see many degrees of modesty, Christian women all walking in the light they have presently received from our Heavenly Father. Some may not know inwardly why they do it, simply honouring or respecting the wishes of their husband or parents. No matter the reason modest clothing is worn, it will be helping our Christian brothers not to stumble.

My degree of modesty happens to not include trousers in my wardrobe. Kind of a shock to some people who hear it, but it’s true. I haven’t owned trousers until recently because of 3 reasons.

1. I know my dad doesn’t like me to wear them. He doesn’t consider them to be modest and I wish to honour my dad. By choosing to follow my dad’s wishes I’m not just honouring him but my Heavenly Father, as He is the one who’s put me under my parents’ direction and protection.

2. I cannot wear trousers with good conscience. If I were to wear them against my dad’s wishes, I would feel self-conscious and uncomfortable, as though I was walking around naked!

3. I would hate to find out that my going against what I’ve been taught is modest is causing a man to struggle with impure thoughts.

I’ve often experienced wanting to do things that in a skirt would be immodest or simply difficult, but sometimes I’ve managed to do them in a lesser degree and still enjoy the fun. And sometimes I’ve not been able to do them at all.

Recently my good friend and cousin hosted his 21st party at a climbing centre where the climbing apparatus was constructed of things like tow-bars, short ropes, door handles, and drain pipes. I really wanted to go as I’d opted out a few months earlier when another friend had gone to this same place for her Going Away Party.

Stock photo of The Roxx Climbing Centre, Christchurch, NZ

My dad had no problem with me joining in the fun as long as I could find a modest way to climb. Well, obviously a skirt or a dress was out of the question, so with a lot of prayer I set out to find an outfit that would be both practical and modest, and I’m writing to tell those of you on the more conservative side of dress and those wishing to be conservative but not able to see the practical side of it, that climbing can be done in a short dress/long shirt, also known as a tunic, with a matching pair of trousers.

My tunic dress has cap sleeves, darts under the bust, and just enough flare to allow movement. It can be worn with or without a belt, and took a matter of hours to make as it’s such a simple design. God truly showed His approval because I had no pattern for suitable trousers and no fabric directly at hand, and only two days till the party. I went into a Salvation Army second-hand shop and to my amazement found a pair of matching trousers my size with a certain amount of stretch making them perfect for climbing! The price? $4.80 for trousers in near perfect condition and all I had to do was take about three inches off the hem!

When climbing there is an amount of modesty that’s kind of hard to keep, but not getting my tunic caught up in the climbing harness meant it still hung over my backside to some degree and when I was on the ground the tunic could slip down naturally so I didn’t look like I was even wearing a harness.
When I found that matching pair of trousers I truly felt that God was showing His approval for my seeking His help and choosing to honour my Dad. It also gave me a day in which I could help my younger sister by making her a tunic. Hers was a little different to mine – sleeveless, with darts front and back, and I added a pleat at the back for extra movement. While my tunic and trousers almost looked like an outfit from India, my sister’s looked very fashionable and she has since been asked by friends can they can have it if she doesn’t want it!
I hope and pray that even if your parents have no problem with you wearing trousers, you will be encouraged by this article to honour your parents' wishes in dress even when they aren’t what you’d hoped to hear, and I’m sure you to will see our Heavenly Father’s stamp of approval in very real ways!

Ed: Boutique Narelle features other examples of the tunic suit which can be viewed here and here. More coming.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Skirt Portfolio 2

Most of the skirts featured here are available from online stores. If the styles are too short or buying from overseas is not for you, let them serve as inspiration for what you can create yourself. Remember to click on the picture to enlarge it. This is by no means the limit of what is available. More Skirt Portfolios coming soon to Boutique Narelle.

The first batch are from

Above and below are examples of how a simple trim in coordinating or contrasting colour can lift a pretty fabric into a stunning creation.

If your skirt is made of a light-weight fabric but isn't lined, you need a slip. SkirtSpot has two designs (below) to suit either a straight or a full skirt. Boutique Narelle will be providing specialist posts on slips and linings.

Visit the above website to view the following garments in greater detail.

Tweed, pin-stripe, suede, cotton, linen, viscose, polyester... newCreation Women's Apparel offers a range of tailored, feminine designs in hardwearing fabrics.

If you don't have a pattern for an asymmetrical design, top-stitching fringe or cord onto an A-line skirt is an easy way to achieve the same look.newCreation Women's Apparel stock a charming range of jackets that coordinate beautifully with the skirts.

Visit the above website to view the following garments in greater detail.

If you would enjoy doing clothing reviews like this, visit here to see job details.

Prevent Ribbon Fraying

If you like to use hair ribbons, create hair bows, or add ribbon to the garments you sew, you may appreciate some tips on how to prevent ribbon from fraying.

Fray Check is a USA product which can be purchased in the fabric/craft department of most superstores or at any fabric store. A little bit does the trick. Spotlight (NZ and Australia) has a product called Fray Stopper which comes in a 50ml bottle. Current price NZ$5.99.

Clear nail polish can be used to seal ribbon ends and keep them from fraying.

Heat sealing is another method you can use to finish your ribbon ends. Use a candle, match, or lighter and hold the flame close to the ribbon end to achieve an evenly fused end. Do not actually touch the flame to the material.

Heat Sealing Tool
Sold by Ribbons and Bows Oh My! here.

"Perfect End Thread Burner is your perfect weapon against frayed edges. Works with 1 AA Battery(included). Cuts and Cauterizes ribbon, synthetic threads and silk so they don’t unravel. With a touch of a button the tip heats to red hot and cools down in less than 10 seconds. Unlike wood burning tools the Thread Burner is Easy to use as a pen with no cords attached. Won’t burn ribbon and leave ugly brown edges Safer to use around children Perfect for QUICK touch ups Portable so you can work anywhere (craft fairs, boutiques, outside) For High volume ribbon crafters, this is not a replacement for your wood burner, but an excellent addition to your tool chest for quick touch ups." Price US$18.95. You can also purchase replacement tips (nibs) for the tool.

Many people have also found much success using a wood-burning tool to seal ends. In this case, you could lay the ribbon flat on a heat-resistant surface, use a metal ruler to mark your line and run the tip of the tool against the ruler edge.

When applying satin ribbon to a garment, the friction of wash and wear tends to cause folded ends to start a surface fraying if they have not been machine stitched.

The above example shows ribbon that is folded over the placket and stitched into the seam inside the garment. After only two launderings, the fold had produced this unsightly fuzz.

This example shows ribbon that had been stitched along its edges, but the fold of the tucked-under ends was left unstitched. The fold quickly produced a surface fray which has now been prevented from further damage by machine top-stitching, as below.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Winter Wedding

This week it is my privilege to share with you wedding pictures of my darling sister Katrina. She will tell you all the details herself.

Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Peake

"First, I took my mum to a bridal shop and tried on 2 very different dresses to get an idea of what they felt like, then I searched Auckland for something with sleeves. All I found was a Bolero jacket which went on top of the dress and was very uncomfortable. I tried on as many different styles as I could for free, and finally found one I really liked.

"To my delight, the following week I found a pattern in a pattern book at Spotlight that was so similar it could have been the same one. I bought the pattern and asked my mother-in-law Karen if it was possible to add sleeves, for which I’d found some light material.

"Karen did a wonderful job, it was just beautiful. One of her clever additions was little tabs with tiny domes, stitched under the shoulder straps to keep my slip and bra straps from showing.

"I wore a full length slip, because my petticoat was a little scratchy, and I found it cooler and more comfortable than fully lining the dress. To get the dress to boof out, Karen made a basic petticoat of net, and then starting at the bottom added a single layer, and then one about 4 inches higher but over lapping, and then another one a bit higher covering the other two – this way you can test after each layer to see how boofy it is, and add as much as desired.

"The dress cost NZ$300 apart from the beads which Karen bought. That was $200 for the fabric, and I splashed out on a metre of lace for $100, then discovered that the border had been incorrectly measured by the material shop assistant, and wasn't long enough. So, we cut out the lace motifs that covered the metre above the border, and I arranged them up the back to the base of the buttons – it looked like it was meant!!! And then a few extra for sleeve and neck edges. Sometimes penny-pinching and having to dream can be more stunning than spending loads on a designer dress off the hanger.

Bridesmaids Magdala and B’Ethel Williams with Katrina

"For my two bridesmaids outfits, B'Ethel looked online and I looked through books, and we came up with the same one (see image below). I wanted something that would cover them, suit both their figures and make them feel comfortable AND beautiful, and hopefully be usable again, as it seemed a waste to spend time and money on a beautiful dress that would never be used again! It also worked with them buying black boots, as I didn't want them wasting their money on something that would be uncomfortable (that was my privilege!) and never be used again. The long skirts partly covered them, but they were stylish boots that they needed and loved and would wear a lot next winter and the next. "Practical but beautiful and stylish, and didn't cost a fortune" was my motto!!!

"I got the idea for the cloak from a friend who was married in England in winter – rather chilly! Her cloak was warm and black and it looked stunning on the white, although she only wore it to and from the church. Mine was made for a concert performance. I had it with me in case I got cold – it fit better than my husband’s jacket! It was purely fun value; it’s a day for dressing up, feeling beautiful, and giving yourself and others a glimpse of the beauty, love, and joy of the Bride of Christ, which we will be part of."

Another Kiwi bride used cloak and boots to cope with chill airs and wintry winds.

NZ couturiere Robyn Cliffe created this Edwardian design for the cooler clime.

What did you do for your wedding? Email us your pictures and story!
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