A strange custom has been taking hold of Australia. We call it 'Christmas in July'. Beleaguered by glorious sunshine in December, when we are guaranteed of perfect outdoor entertaining weather in which to share barbequed prawns, luscious salads, ice-cream cakes and pavlovas piled high with whipped cream and farm fresh fruit, we've taken to holding a second, entirely secular Christmas in July. The sole purpose of this indulgence is to pretend it's snowing (again) and to eat a hot roast dinner and plum pudding smothered in custard and brandy sauce without collapsing in a hot slimy sweat which is what happens if we choose to eat such food on December 25th.
Summer Christmas complete with short sleeves, salad, memade Christmas hats and plastic snowflakes.
Christmas in July is not what you'd call a widespread celebration and I've never been a participant myself* but the poster on the butcher's window suggesting the purchase of a turkey caught my eye last week and then, overcome with shivers during our frosty cold snap yesterday (which when you read this was last week), I was motivated to go hunting for plum pudding. Too lazy to actually make one, I found some very cute miniature ones (and an almond topped Christmas fruit cake) in the supermarket, teamed them up with some custard and cream and voila - Christmas in July! Suddenly I'm a convert!
Christmas in July: fruit cake, mini plum pudding and coffee, alongside my faux suede Songlines hat.
To be perfectly honest, I don't need something like Christmas in July to enjoy this time of year - it's been one of my favourite months for ever. It is my birthday month afterall! A nose freezing wind, icy rain and a cosy heater or roaring fire to return to is my idea of a good time. I love rugging up in boots, coat, gloves and hat and heading out. Right in the middle of this current cold snap** we headed down to Rickett's Point beach where we often throw the ball to Melon while slurping down a hot take-away coffee from the beachside teahouse.
Rugged up against the cold at the Rickett's Point beach park on Port Phillip Bay
The Winter version of my Songlines hat, photos of which are up on my Instagram, was actually made in Summer so I'd never tried it out as a proper Winter hat. That is till last week, and I'm happy to say it really made the difference needed to keep the ice cold wind at bay (this photo is a lie, the cold actually mandated a heavy PVC coat, temporarily removed for the camera). The hat is made of faux suede - an upholstery fabric which was SO easy to sew. I totally recommend it. The skirt, another memade item, has a longer and fairly significant history.
Although I have a stash I'm not a collector of fabric and that's because of this skirt. Way back in the late 1970s I'd started uni and would often find myself scouring the nearby Queen Victoria Market. It was a great place to buy donuts, shoes and fabric! This green, grey, black and beige cotton caught my eye and I bought a couple of metres, without having a clue what I would do with it. A year later I'd still not made anything and found myself quite annoyed that I'd wasted my meagre student income. This is when I learnt that if I was ever to buy fabric I had to have a clear purpose for it, otherwise I should just NOT buy it, no matter how nice. I stick to that rule to this day!
Fabric that became vintage while sitting in my stash
So my stash only has leftovers in it. As the decades rolled by I'd keep on coming across this fabric, liking it, but never making it up - until just a couple of years ago when the right idea finally landed in my head. Why it was so difficult I do not know. But here it is - an simple A-line skirt with an exposed vintage zip and button back. I wear it frequently.
So this fabric taught me a couple of important life lessons. Lesson 1 - buy only what you know you need. Lesson 2 - sometimes you don't know how long it will be before you really need it, but if you love it, buy it. What life lessons has sewing taught you?
*But I'm desperate to get up to Ballarat, a couple of hours out of Melbourne, to Sovereign Hill's Christmas in July Winter Wonderlights - fake snow, decorations, and all round fun for everyone!
** A Melbourne cold snap is, of course, nothing like a European or Canadian cold snap - we complain if our maximum is less that 14 C - but everything is relative.
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