Sailing – Vogue Donna Karan 1116

It’s been a while since I have had any time at all to work on my dear sewing blog. Since starting full time Interior Design studies at the beginning of this year, I haven’t had time to do anything but concentrate on my course, which I love and am fully committed to, but at the same time, I really miss having the time to sew and blog.

During mid semester break, I decided it was time to at least partially revive my blog. So here is a short post that has been sitting in the pipeline for over 6 months about a dress that I made a long time ago and never posted. The photos were taken during our Whitsunday sailing holiday last September!

The pattern is a casual Donna Karan dress by Vogue 1116. I like all three dress patterns and would like to have the time to make the other two one day. But for the first one, I chose the strappy backed dress.  The fabric is a nice navy cotton with some spandex in it to give it a good amount of stretch, making it very comfortable and wearable on hot summer days or while sailing! The stretch in the fabric allows for a good amount of movement, even when doing sailing manoeuvres!

                       

You can easily make this dress up in a day. It only has the front, the back and the straps with elastic inside to fit your size and shape. Making up the straps can be a bit fiddly, but the rest is a piece of cake.

I’ve worn this dress on numerous summer holidays and because it’s cotton jersey with spandex, you really don’t need to iron it if you are living out of a suitcase. It will just stretch on your body and iron itself out!

You could probably line the front of the dress if you are using a very thin stretchy fabric, but I didn’t. I just wanted to keep it light and airy for hot days. There is the issue of wearing a bra or not with the back being so low cut. If not, I would suggest to line the front!

I had no problems making this dress. A very easy and quick pattern to sew up. The only thing while wearing it, is make sure you can ask someone to set the straps straight once you have it on, otherwise they will twist around a bit and look untidy.

The dresses in this pattern set are all only for stretch fabrics. I think they would all look great in stretch striped fabrics too!

Couldn’t help myself and not do the Titanic pose!!

Happy sewing and hope to be back soon with another blog post in the very near future!

xx

LOCATION: Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia.

STYLING: hat – Borsalino, Rome, sunglasses – Tom Ford, Margot, ring – Apart Fashion

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Red on Whitehaven – Self drafted Maxi

Hi everyone and happy Australia Day (or Straya Day as some say 😀) to everyone at home and all you expats around the world! I hope you have all had a great start to the new year! Being a working mum, things have started off very busy for me after a short Christmas and New Year’s break. I didn’t get to anywhere near as much sewing or blogging as I would have liked to last year. I hope this year won’t be a repetition of that… I have become too smart to make any new year’s resolutions for this sewing year, because I know myself and never really keep them. So I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens…

I had this blog post flying around cyber space, almost ready to go and since it’s Australia Day, I thought it would be perfect for our national day, photographed on Australia’s most beautiful and iconic Whitehaven Beach.

We were about to leave on our sailing holiday around the magical Whitsunday Islands and me being me, had to make something special for the holiday. All I knew was that the something had to be red and BIG to stand out on the pure white sand at Whitehaven. So I was looking for inspirational photos of maxi dresses. You really can’t get any bigger than a maxi dress, right? I found this one in red on Pinterest and it was a winner for me.

Unfortunately I had no idea who the designer was and what the front looked like. I was having a total creative blank and had no ideas on how to make the front work with such a low cut back. I had also left it so late, until we only had a few days before leaving on the holiday, that I just decided to do the first thing that came to mind. In retrospect, not a good idea.

I cut the back of the dress to the lowest cut possible without showing too much and thought I needed to compensate the front by cutting it as high as possible without it being in my face!

In order to make the dress as big and flowy as possible, I used the full width of the fabric for the front and back.

First thought was to make the back gathered and the front more fitted. But I had bought a lot of beautiful red cotton voile from The Fabric Store and decided to make a gathered front as well. I wasn’t exactly sure how to cut a wide and deep enough back, so this is the very archaic method I used:

First I machine sewed along the width of the fabric in four rows, very unevenly as you can see… and gathered the fabric as evenly as I could. Then I made a paper template for the back cut out, lay it on the gathered back and used soap to mark the curve on the gathering.

  

I used the bias cut fabric strip I had prepared, pinned it onto the soap marking and then hand sewed the bias strip to keep it in place before sewing it with the machine. After it was machine sewed, I cut away the inside of the back as close as possible to the bias strip, folded the bias cut strip to cover the edges of the low cut back and sewed it in place on the inside of the dress.

  

After the back was done, it was time to get onto the front. All I did was fold over the top of the fabric to fit the bust in, about 30 cm. So the front bodice is made of a double layer of the cotton voile. For the front top edge, I made a tunnel about 5 cm from the very top to fit in a narrow elastic. Then I measured how far down I would need to go to make the second tunnel for the elastic just under the bust line.

I pulled the elastic through both the tunnels to a comfortable fit and then fixed the elastic ends so that they wouldn’t slip away. Then I joined the front and back together, leaving enough of a slit for the arms.

Next up was making the straps using the bias cut strip that I had attached to the back. I simply measured a comfortable fit and hand sewed the narrow strips in place.

The fabric is beautiful and perfect for a summer dress. It’s quite thin but not see through, so there is no need for lining.

After the dress was completely finished, I decided that the back was so wide with it’s low cut that it would be good to have some versatility to it by either wearing it completely open or using a corset effect to tighten it and give it a different look.

For this, I bought some very narrow red ribbon and sewed it on the inside of the back cut out bias strip. I left a gap of about 1 cm every few centimetres to pull the ribbon through in a zig zag. I used the same ribbon for the loops as the ribbon to zig zag through it. If I decide not to wear the ribbon in the back, the loops are well hidden and not visible from the outside.

Finally, it was time to hem. The hem on this dress is extremely wide. Only because I had enough fabric to make it that wide and I love a huge hem. Sometimes it gives the garment a more generous look than a minimal, narrow hem.

This is one garment that I am not entirely happy about. The back is great and a real eye catcher. It’s also nice ventilation on a hot day. But I don’t like the front at all. It was a very rushed job and will have to be redone to something that I like and will end up wearing.

I’m someone who will often make a garment for the sake of making it, but the full intention is to be able to wear the garment and not have it hanging in the wardrobe, taking up space. While I really dislike redoing things I thought were finished – and that is putting it mildly – I will redo this one! Just to have the self satisfaction of having a wearable dress in a beautiful fabric.

Despite this dress being a flop in my books, it really is about the back view and at least that part worked!

 

It will be back to the drawing board to brainstorm some new ideas on how to save this maxi. I already have one idea that I may utilise. When that finally happens, I will blog the revamped dress!

All in all, a lesson learned: don’t make things in a rush and especially not when you have no plan!

Magical Whitehaven Inlet with it’s pure white silica shifting sands

 

 

Scenes of Whitehaven Beach

Wandering red lips on Whitehaven

 

STYLING: hat – Myer (no name brand), sunglasses – Chloe, ring – Apart Fashion, red lips float – funboy

LOCATION: Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

Tropical Bliss

 

When I think of the tropics as a holiday destination, I automatically think of floating maxi dresses. So when we were packing for our two week trip to Queensland last month, this self-drafted maxi found its way into my suitcase. I made it a while ago, but still love the print on it and love to wear it on a warm sunny day.

Every time we go somewhere nice, I try to use the opportunity and pack something I have made so that I can have it photographed in a nice location and also wear it during my holiday.

The fabric from this dress came from Spotlight. It’s a cotton sateen with a bold green and brown flower print on it. When I first saw it, I knew it would become a maxi dress with a bit of a 70s look to it. I only bought about 1.5 metres of the fabric without any specific pattern in mind. The dress turned out the way it did because I ran out of fabric to make it almost any other way!

This was going to be a high-waisted maxi from the start. I first made the skirt using the complete width of the fabric, pretty much down to the ground. I pleated it in even pleats that folded in towards the centre front where there was an inverted centre pleat and the same at the back.

Then I got a bit stuck with trying to make the bodice because there wasn’t much fabric left. I cut the waistband and front halterneck part as a sort of scarf that just gathered around the neck. But still wasn’t sure about how to do the back part of the bodice.

I decided to cover up the back as much as I could with what I had left of the fabric. I found that when I had joined the front to the back, the front part of the halterneck was sagging somewhat in the cleavage area, because I had made it slightly too long. So I tried the dress on and was contemplating on how to fix the problem in front of the mirror. I was pulling the part around the back of my neck down with my hand and suddenly had an idea!

I would just loop a small strip of fabric down the centre back to pull down the excess fabric that was too loose and give the bodice a good pull and at the same time a perfect fit. I thought that was a pretty good invention to solve the problem! Well, it worked and the front part of the bodice sits and fits perfectly.

I only lined the bodice front and back of the dress and didn’t bother with the skirt or the halterneck part. It doesn’t appear to be see-through, even in stronger light, so it was a relatively quick sew. I inserted an invisible zip on the left side to keep the back in one piece and that was about it.

Originally, I thought to sew a few green and brown sequins and tiny beads in the centre of each flower pattern but abandoned this idea when I realised they could possibly cause staining during washing. In the end I decided to keep the dress more simple without the glitz. Sometimes more is more but in this case it was less is more :-)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a completely self-drafted dress, I am really happy with the outcome. I think maxi dresses are something that most seamstresses can make without a pattern. Of course that requires a lot of fittings to get the right fit. But I know that I try my self-made garments on many, many times in front of the mirror and tweak here and there even when I use a pattern, until the fit is perfect for my body shape.

Apart from wearing this maxi for collecting sea shells and corals at the beach (!), I’ve worn it to family gatherings, events and a Christmas get-together with friends. I hope to wear it more often this summer.

I think it can be both more casual and relaxed or dressier with the right accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day we took these photos, we spent the day at Horseshoe Bay in Queensland picnicking, swimming, walking and just enjoying the magical view from under the shade of one of the trees on the beach. We also found some beautiful washed-up sea shells and coral. What a beautiful little gem of a beach!

LOCATION: Horseshoe Bay, Queensland, Australia

OUTFIT: sunglasses – Margot by Tom Ford, ring – Apart Fashion

PHOTOGRAPHY: meggi-design

Pink Ruffles

Pink doesn’t really stand out in my wardrobe. But that’s not to say that I don’t love the colour. Especially a dusty, soft coloured pink. Add ruffles, and I’m in love! So when I saw this dress by Brandon Maxwell from one of his last collections, I knew I had to make a knock-off version of my own. Especially after having seen the price of it at over $3000!!

I already had the perfect fabric in my stash, which happened to be a beautiful blush pink wool with a tiny bit of stretch in it from The Fabric Store in Melbourne. It needed underlining because it was a little thin and could have potentially been see through with the wrong coloured underwear!

  

The next step was to find the best pattern for this frilly little lollypop. I searched deep and wide and then found this Cynthia Rowley pattern on the internet that I had planned on buying anyway. It seemed perfect for this dress with a few hacks. I left the collar plain, without ruffles and decided where the best place was to add the ruffles to the skirt and the sleeves. So I basically only used the pattern for the bodice and the sleeves.

I had read a not-so-good review about this dress pattern and it turning out much larger than it should be for size and fit, so I was a bit sceptical about how it would fit me. But again, I couldn’t be bothered making a muslin and went by the sizing on the pattern envelope. I played it safe and cut size 10, just to make sure it would fit me in the hip area.

Luckily I had a perfectly matched cotton sateen to use for underlining in my stash and light pink thread, so I was able to use up two fabrics without having to buy anything but a zip for this make. Unfortunately, even though I practically used up two fabrics to make this dress, there is no noticeable decline in my stash! That should give you an idea about the size of it! I am trying my hardest to stay away from fabric stores and not add to the stash, but am not always successful if I think there is some kind of fabric I just can’t live without! Still need to work on my restraint because I just don’t have the time to sew as fast as I can buy!

Once the body of the dress was underlined and sewn together, I overlocked the edges and put the invisible zip in the centre back. Then it was time to ruffle! This was the hardest part of the whole project  because I had a limited amount of fabric left over for the ruffles. I was sort of guessing the height of the ruffles by looking at every single picture of the Maxwell Brandon dress I could find on the internet. I decided with the amount of fabric I had left, I could afford to make the ruffles 15cm tall each. This meant cutting the fabric into 30cm strips, using the whole width of the fabric and folding it in half. The next step was to figure out the width and depth of each pleat. The problem was, the side seams and back seam all had to have a pleat aligned to them and they all had to be evenly spaced out. So I sat there for quite some time thinking about the mathematics of spacing the pleats out evenly.

 

After several attempts at making the ruffles and then having to unpick them, I finally got it right and just needed to decide on the level of ruffle tiers for the skirt and sleeves. I wanted the dress to have a similar length as the original.

The last thing I added to the dress was the stand up collar, which I simply cut on the bias in two layers using the tiny bit of remnant fabric I had.

Now that the dress is finished, I think I will try to take the sides in a bit, as it is a bit roomier than the original and I would prefer it to have a slightly smaller waist than it has.

I didn’t iron the ruffles because I thought they would be more voluminous if they weren’t ironed flat. I know they won’t stay that way forever when the dress is dry cleaned or washed, but at least they are nice and fluffy for now!

 

 

 

 

I am happy with the way the dress has turned out but have to agree with that review on this Cynthia Rowley pattern. It is slightly too large and boxy and I will end up taking in the sides a bit and possibly narrowing the shoulders a little as well.

 

 

I will definitely be using this pattern again to make the two garments that it was designed for but may need to go down a size for a more fitted look in the dress. I like to be able to move comfortably in my clothing, but I also prefer it to have a more fitted than loose appearance.

Thank you to my dear friend Meg for spending her day off taking these amazing photos for me!

STYLING: boots – Zara, sunglasses – Margot by Tom Ford, ring – Apart Fashion.

LOCATION: Luna Park, Melbourne.

PHOTOGRAPHY: meggi-design.

 

Black Tweed Shorts

These tweed shorts are ancient! But since winter is upon us in the Southern Hemisphere, I had to blog them because they are my winter go-to item that I wear quite often with black opaque stockings.

Before having lived in Europe, I had never seen or heard of winter shorts worn with stockings. I only knew summer shorts! So when I discovered them, I jumped on the bandwagon and made myself a pair. I also thought they were warmer than a short skirt in the cold and looked kinda chic with boots. They were quite trendy amongst girls and women in the colder seasons.

I made these out of the fabric remnants of a jacket I made a long, long time ago when we still lived in Germany. The fabric is a black wool and silk tweed.

 

There wasn’t much fabric left to use for anything much but I managed to squeeze out these guys. They ended up being a little too short for my taste, so I had to use small pieces to lengthen them with strips of fabric on the bottom of each leg as much as I could. It came down to every centimetre!

For the pattern, I just used another pair of pants I had that fit me well, lay them flat on top of the fabric and cut around the edges, leaving enough for the seams. To be honest, I don’t even know which pants I used for the pattern. That says a lot about their age!

They are loose fitting, totally comfy and sort of just sit on the hip. And…they are quick and easy to make!

The shorts have two darts each front and back and are lined edge to edge with a simple black lining fabric. There is no waistband and a dress zip closes them off at the back.

I like to wear these shorts with boots. Heeled or flat ones. And of course opaque stockings, (which I coincidentally didn’t in these photos😬).

Sometimes an outfit in one colour looks great and I do like an all black look. But I also like to throw in a splash of colour to pep things up. So that was the red coat’s job here. And also sticking to the autumn colour scheme, as it was when we took the photos.

There are some more winter shorts planned for this season in thicker, wintery fabrics. They are a nice alternative to skirts when it gets cold. Worn with tall or ankle boots. Maybe even a winter playsuit? Let’s see what the stash has to offer in suitable fabrics!

Do you have an older clothing piece that is your favourite or go-to in a particular season?

LOCATION: Mt. Buffalo, Victorian High Country

STYLING: coat – Zara, boots – Zara, hat – FCUK, sunglasses – Agenda, top – Zara

The Ladies Tux

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I made this black lace jumpsuit, which is my version of a ladies tux for the Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition late last year. Unfortunately I didn’t win any of the prizes with it, but taking part in the competition was a lot of fun and I got a nice evening style jumpsuit out of it.

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The lace fabric is from Tessuti in Melbourne. It’s a cotton/polyester blend and despite the pattern going through it, easy to sew. The fabric came in panels. I bought 3 panels for this jumpsuit just to be sure I would have enough to match and mirror the pattern where needed.

 

My inspiration for the sleeves of the jumpsuit was a jacket I saw by Carolina Herrera in black lace. The sleeves were just the thing I was looking for! Although the sleeves on her jacket are quite a lot more voluminous and longer than mine. I wanted mine be somewhere between three quarters and seven eighths long.

  

I used Vogue V1471 by Nicola Finetti for the top of the jumpsuit. I had no idea whether the plunge in the front was too deep or not because I didn’t bother making a muslin to try it out before cutting into the limited amount of lace I had.

  

I used Simplicity 1665 for the pants and extended them by about 5cm to make sure they went down to my ankles. I measured  the length I thought the pants should be but was still risking it a bit because I wanted the edge to be on point in length, as I was using the selvage with the dotted pattern as my hem. I measured and remeasured and remeasured again until I was 100% sure it was the right length before cutting. There was no room for error! It just wouldn’t have looked nice if the edging had been sewn on. It had to be in one piece.

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Cutting the pattern out was pretty scary because I could not afford for any mistakes to happen. I only had the three panels to use very cautiously and didn’t want to end up buying more.

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I was tossing up between lining the whole thing in skin coloured dance fabric or just lining the bodice in skin coloured fabric and the legs in black. I opted for black legs because I thought it would look too risqué if it looked like it was skin coloured everywhere. I think I made the right decision in hindsight, especially if I really plan to wear it anywhere!

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So for the legs, I used black taffeta as lining and beautifully soft skin coloured dance fabric for the bodice as lining. I didn’t line the sleeves to save time and felt it wasn’t necessary.

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To make the bell sleeves, I sewed the bottom part of the bell sleeve with the dotted pattern to the top gathered part and then attached them to the main sleeve. To give the sleeves a rounded shape and make them stand out a bit, I used black boning that I encased into the seam of the top and bottom of the ruffled sleeve by hand stitching it in place.

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The decollete did end up being somewhat more revealing than I would have liked it to be, so I used the dotted pattern in the lace to cover up a bit of exposed flesh (!) by sewing it into the seam in the front and around the back. Even though it is quite narrow, I do find it helps to cover up at least a little and adds more to the overall look by repeating the dotted pattern on the sleeve and pant edges.

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The most challenging thing about making this jumpsuit, was to make sure the pattern matched up perfectly where it should and having enough of the fabric to do so. I was always playing around with the pattern pieces before cutting to make sure I was getting the best part of the pattern on each piece.

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I pretty much used up most of the fabric and only have bits and pieces left that I still hope to utilise in some way for a small something.

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When I was sewing this jumpsuit, I was very unsure of whether I would like it or not. Every time I tried it on to check for fit and adjustments, I thought: I am either going to love it or hate it when it’s finished. Well, I have to say I do love it, which surprised me because I really thought it would be the opposite. I just have to have an event to wear it to now!

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I am happy with the matching up of the lace pattern in the front and back. I put in a very long invisible zip to make sure I could get in and out of the jumpsuit comfortably and also to keep the pattern in the lace as undisturbed as possible when zipped up.

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To neaten up the inside, I used a skin coloured dance fabric to line the bodice. It’s very soft, stretchy and comfortable to wear. The inside of the arm holes are finished off with black bias binding.

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I have to admit, I am in a kind of jumpsuit phase at the moment! I am loving all kinds of jumpsuits: long legged, short, strapless, casual, formal. Anything jumpsuit style! I do hope the fashion sticks around for a while. Do you like jumpsuits too?

 

LOCATION: the backyard!

STYLING: necklace and bracelet: Zara, sunglasses: Margot by Tom Ford, shoes: Zara.

Striped Set

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while now will have very quickly realised that I am definitely a dress person when it comes to sewing. But in everyday life, I DO wear pants, shorts and jeans and not very often, but sometimes I actually do make these too! I haven’t had much luck in sewing well fitted pants in the past, so I am a bit wary of making them. Nevertheless, after a whole lot of dresses, it was time to make and blog something a little different.

Even though I am not your tallest person, I absolutely adore wide legged, palazzo and flared pants. Especially the 70s type.  I know they look better on taller people than myself, but I still love them! I tried to elongate the legs of these as much as possible by making them almost down to the ground.

For this set, I used an original 70s pattern by Teal Traina for the pants and matched them with a strapless top using a modern strapless dress pattern by Kwik Sew, cutting it off about 25 cm below the waist.

    

    

My fabric comes from Tessuti in Melbourne – a beautiful linen/cotton blend in a navy denim look and white stripe. It has a great thickness and drape to it. The stripes are horizontal on the fabric. But I wanted vertical stripes on my pants, so I risked it and cut them out against the grain. I was afraid that the fabric would stretch or go out of shape while wearing the pants because I had cut it against the grain, but luckily, it seems to be holding it’s shape.

The pants were very easy and quick to make. They are darted into an inside ribbon waistband and I used an 18cm invisible zip in the back to close them off. No fussing around.

When it came to the top, I didn’t want the it to have all the stripes going in one direction and definitely not all vertical, because it would just be too boring. I thought it would make it visually more interesting if the stripes middle front and centre back were horizontal and the rest vertical.

The strapless top took a bit more time to make up than the pants. I cut the top using size S and should have known that it was too big for me from the last time when I used this same pattern for my Capri dress. But I was in a rush and thought better be safe than sorry if XS ended up being too small. I will know better next time!

To underline the top, I used a nice, old cotton bed sheet that I had put aside for lining. It had outlived its use as bed linen, but was still very good quality, fine cotton and a shame to throw away. I used two layers of the cotton bed linen as underlining and at first thought it would be too much, but two layers turned out to be a good amount to give the top a good shape and thickness.

I took in each seam until the top fit me in a snug way. Then I contemplated which type of zip to use. I couldn’t use an invisible one, because I wouldn’t be able to get a fitted top on and off without an open end zip. So I bought the shortest open end zip in navy blue I could find and was going to put it in the centre back. But the zip was too long for the back and I didn’t want to cut it and potentially ruin it. I was playing around with it in front of the mirror and by pure stroke of genius found that it had the perfect length to go in the front side seam. I hadn’t seen that before, so why not be different?

The zip was a perfect fit and even though I didn’t put in a hook and eye or button in at the top, it stays in place very well without opening.

To finish off the top on the inside, I didn’t line it but used bias binding to finish off the edges neatly. I thought there were enough layers of fabric in it already with the underlining and it didn’t need any more thickness to it.

After having a look at these photos, I realised that I would need to put some boning in the back of the top to keep any folds from forming. Sometimes you see things in your finished product that need improving after you think the job has been done! Not my favourite thing to do…

 

I think my new matchy matchy set has worked out well. It really was a very rushed job, but the fit is perfect and also very comfortable to wear.

I don’t know about you, but I really like matching tops and bottoms. They are a bit like twin sets of a different kind. I definitely have plans to make some more matching sets of tops and pants and also tops and shorts.

Now that the evenings are very long here in Melbourne after our winter time change, I plan to do lots of sewing. Reality is  that after work and my regular running during the week, I am so tired that don’t get much done at all!

Keep smiling and sewing until next time (hopefully very soon)!

STYLING: hat – Borsalino, Rome, shoes – Windsor Smith, sunglasses – Carlina Square by Chloe, ring – Apart Fashion

LOCATION: Elmore, Victoria