About Rivergum

Fashion is for the young, tall and skinny, right? I am none of those, but see if I care. I am the insouciant stitcher, untroubled by the meagre offerings of the garment industry for women of a certain age, weight and height, women like me. I want to express my individuality and creativity in the way I present myself to the outside world, not look like everyone else. Sewing my own clothes is fun and the way I go about it means it doesn’t take up any more time than shopping, everything fits me nicely and caters to my preferences.

In my off-line life I was born in Germany, into a family of expat Austrians, but I went to Australia for a working holiday 40 years ago and never left. I live on the sunny Central Coast of New South Wales with my husband and my cat.


My son and daughter are both grown up and married, and I have two little grandsons and a granddaughter, all of them gorgeous, and another on the way. I am an ex-teacher turned teaching technology specialist, and then director of technology at a private girls college. In 2011 I was retired for a full 5 minutes, before DH asked me to manage a project for his business. That was the end of my retirement, I have been working with him full-time ever since. Stopping work is not even a blip on the horizon, and I very much like it that way.

I am sad to say that in reality I am not at all insouciant. I am nervy, highly strung and intense, even a tad obsessive. That’s why I need to create things with my hands, because when I do I am ‘in the zone’. Time stops. I don’t even think of food. I never fret about all the things I haven’t done, or still have to do, or might have to do. I just am….  … the insouciant stitcher…


41 thoughts on “About Rivergum”

  1. Philippa said:

    Love your style, and LOVE this blog!! So grateful you started one. You have inspired me to stop dreaming and get sewing. More, more, more please!!


    • I’m so glad this is of use to you. I will write more posts soon.


      • Sandra Garnett said:

        I’ve just subscribed to your blog – such wonderful and creative ideas. I’ve just started sewing (4th week into lessons) – nevertheless I have managed to make a couple of Eva dresses – tweaked slightly to my mature shape (65 years young). I would appreciate you advice on the attached design – do you think I could convert a Tessuti Lily pattern to this: https://shonmodern.com/products/emdd001

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I woman after my own heart! I love Kaliyana’s designs too and nothing better than a plucky beginner going after what she likes!

        I think the Lily would be very suitable, with elastic in the bottom like in the pic. One thing to be careful of is that the Lily has cutaway shoulders. If you have little rolls of fat at the bottom of your armpit like me and most other mature people, you may or may not want that look. I overlay the Lily pattern with the upper bodice and armscyes from a pattern where I know that the cut suits me. If you need help doing that, don’t hesitate to ask.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hello! I’ve just been reading your blog regarding your adaption of the Fave Top into a LL jacket. Do you think I could shorten the Fave Top pattern to make a lightweight jacket to go with the Eva dress?


      • Hmm, I’m really not sure. The Fave top is very loose in the shoulders and this over the Eva may look a bit sloppy. Then again, I have made a lined cooler season jacket using the Fave top pattern and I have worn it over all sorts of loose clothing, including long sleeve Ponte versions of the Eva. It all depends how much volume you like.

        If you have made the Fave as a top before, I would try it on over the Eva to get an idea of the silhouette and make a decision from there. I think the length of the jacket might matter in how good it looks, so leave your options as open as you can. I suspect very short (waist or shorter) might work, or very long, above the knee, past the widest part of the Eva, but not a length in between.

        Good luck with it!


  2. Ilse Moore said:

    I just discovered your blog. Love your style. I will copy some of your ideas. I am German and have been living in the USA for almost 50 years. Still have siblings in the “old country”. Thanks for sharing your style ideas on your blog


  3. Karin Carter said:

    I stumpled upon your site and am thrilled I did! Your style is exactly what my thoughts are playing with and it is a great inspirationto see other women not playing by the fashion industry rule books! Thank you for sharing and like Philippa said: I am now more than ever inspired to start sewing my “own fashion line”
    Greetings from Colorado!


  4. Margaret Baylis said:

    I just discovered this from pattern review. I love it and more so because living in NZ our seasons are in sync and yes we are gearing up for El Nino too. I still remember the last one. Thank you for your inspiration.


  5. … you’re welcome to run into another expat down here in the Melbourne surrounds; please yell out if down here one day – I’ll try to do the same the other way round.
    Aeh, ja: just found you via ‘Rums’ and sorry, I’m still better with German.

    Loving greetings,

    Hi Gerlinde,

    I have only just found your comment. Nice to hear from you. I dont come to Melbourne often, but next time I do I will try and get in contact. The fabric shopping is sooo much better down your way than here.



  6. Valerie Strunk said:

    I love your style! I am so glad to have found an advanced sewing blog! Looking forward to hearing more from you! Valerie


    • Thanks for your kind comment, Valerie. I’m doing a lot of blogging right now as I am on holidays, but it probably will slow up again when I am back at work.


  7. Cathy T from Austin Tx said:

    Love your fashion taste. I am a 3X and need some basic classic items. Nothing in the stores look worth wearing. I have a large stomach and smaller legs, but my upper arms are large. Arms look like turkey legs. I so need help with making some classic pieces for my wardrobe. I work in a professional office and what to look nice. Thanks for the inspiration. I don’t know if I sew as good as you, but I hope I can make something that is attractive and fits as well as yours fits you!


    • Hi Cathy, glad my blog has been of use to you. I don’t have any concrete suggestions as My figure is a pronounced pear and yours sounds more like an apple. But taking photos of what you look like in certain clothes can be very revealing and a big help in getting the right clothes. Sewing is all about being able to make clothes that flatter your figure in the colours that are best for you. Good luck with your sewing, Rivergum


  8. Add me to the chorus! I love this blog – your many photos, explanations, commentary, and style. I just discovered the Tina Givens patterns. One thing led to another, and I landed on your blog. I read all of your pages – just about all of your posts resonated with a project I have on my TO DO list, even the portable washing machine (to felt knit wool purses in my classroom?). Thank you all the work you do for this blog!!!


  9. Janet Rodgers said:

    I just discovered your blog and as its almost midnight in Northern Ireland, I forsee me having a late night to catch up on all your blogs……


  10. Just discovered your blog from Pattern Review, after looking at all the items you have made – love seeing them and reading how they came together. Also learned quite a bit from you and especially the Vogue and other patterns. I have bought a few of them on sale but haven’t tried to make them yet as I wasn’t sure how they would actually look. But your blog has inspired me to try making one – as I wear leggings quite a bit here in Arizona (they come in differing fabric weights so are useable for different weathers and comfy) I think the tops will be perfect with them. I too like to be comfortable in my clothes and need to use up my fabric stashes. Also enjoy the dying projects and yours are so beautiful. Thanks; just wish I could “follow” your blog and/or “subscribe” to be sure I get your postings as I am afraid I will forget to look at it….getting older and more forgetful ugh. Am checking the “notify me….” box. Mary Noble in Arizona http://www.doggandponyshow.blogspot.com


    • Thanks for your kind words, Mary. There must be a way of following my blog as I do get notifications from time to time that someone is following it. Not sure how. Maybe you can google it?


  11. I have a challenge for you – your suggestions/deas on how to draft something similar to Lotta Jansdotter’s Everyday Style Pilvi coat – I love the simplicity and raglan sleeves of this coat.


    • Could you send me a link?


    • I found some pics. I really love that style of coat, round neck, no collar, edge to edge. I have wanted to make one of those for a while. Burda has a pattern, from memory, but there will be others.

      But the print on the original is far to large for block printing and the motifs are not really suitable. You need a large silk screen, or a large stencil I would think. I am contemplating both methods for the future, but haven’t got into them as yet.


  12. Anonymous said:

    Thought you might be interested in this Indian designer – her style is relaxed but the embroidery is amazing. Love the wee boxey jacket – an Eva bodice with tiny closures perhaps?


  13. Which Indian designer? Can you post a link?


  14. Just found your blog and stayed up very late reading all your posts. I’m a Canadian expat working in Canberra and I love Australia! Love your style – I like Lagenlook but have had to adapt it to my short round shape and conservative office. You’ve given me some wonderful new ideas to try. Thanks!


  15. billingebabe said:

    How great to find you! I love your style. I’m older, grey and plumper than you but my go to garment, especially in the summer, is the Athina top. Is that the one you refer to as ‘my fave top’? It’s a great idea sticking to just a few patterns. I’ve recently sent the downloaded ones I like to a specialist pattern printing form for longevity. So having a good rummage round your makes for inspiration. Thanks.


    • Oh dear, I replied to this comment, but it seems to have disappeared. Sorry about that, and thanks for writing such nice things about my makes.

      The Athina is a later pattern, the fave top is one of their very earliest. I already had a wardrobe of fave tops by the time the Athina came out, so I haven’t used it, but it is a nice pattern and I may use it in future. For now I have gone a bit opposite, making the Mandy in lots of variations. Once I am done with short tops I may return to tunics. Fashion tastes are fickle, as we all know.

      Good luck with your sewing, using patterns you know well and that suit you is a good way of avoiding disappointment. Non-sewists never notice, they just see it as personal style.


      • I’m in the UK and buy my clothes from Sahara. – but they are pricey so make my own every day ones. (Good website for inspiration) A lot of their tops are based on Athina. I’ve got the pattern and fabric to make up my first Mandy top. The other Tessuti pattern I like is the Laura trousers. I did make the Florence coat last year. Two pockets so ideal for dog walking. I loved doing the overlapping seams and used my hem rule which made them very easy.

        I used to sew lots when I was younger and looked at some photos of my daughter and all her dresses, until she was about 5, were made by me. And then life, including a career took over and 40 years later I started sewing again. Now for me and my granddaughter.

        Thank you for responding.


      • Careful with the Mandy’s sleeve width, depending which version you downloaded. I have the original version and the sleeves are very narrow. The stretch factor of your knit fabric will make a difference. Thanks for the tip re Sahara, off to have a look.


  16. I would so love to follow your blog – how do I subscribe? I can’t even find you on Facebook under The Insouciant Stitcher. Where are you???!


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