In the wild…my way



Hello again, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend! Mine started well, picking Mum’s overlocker off after a full service, she’s been itching to get it back so I was happy to oblige. Sadly the key fob for our car finally bit the dust, refusing to open the door, instead setting the immobilizer AND the alarm off. I spent two hours sitting by the car with an overlocker waiting for the AA, looking a bit grumpy  ( and probably slightly odd…)

Anyway, after a bit of a knit fest it was nice to get back to some wovens, and I must say I picked a goodin. A trip to Spotlight with a fellow sewing pal last weekend was a real treat, so many lovely new fabrics, including a fab white spotty cotton sateen that reminded me of animal print…which I seem to be extremely fond of yes? . I’ve never sewn with it before, what a joy, so stable, both to cut out and to sew. Plus it was 40% off, yeow!

I talked in my last post about the discussions going on in the sewing community concerning inclusivity, and one of those things was buying and using patterns from designers with size ranges that don’t really accommodate larger sizes. I’m on the cusp (my sister has a slight lisp and hearing her say that word is one of life’s small joys) of many pattern companies, often squeaking in at the top end of their size range. But for some designers, I’m WAY off the chart, and to be honest, if I’m going to pay top dollar , I don’t fancy then having to grade a pattern to actually get it in the ballpark of fitting me. NZ is a looooong way from anywhere* really so we tend to pay more for goods from anywhere outside the Pacific due to transport & FX costs.

Instead of buying a pattern for a super cute top I spotted recently (a good 4-5 inches outside my size, boo!), I thought I’d work with a couple of patterns I already have.


So chic!

The Cuff Top by Assembly Line patterns, perfect for work with nice pants, equally appropriate for the weekend. So how to make a perfect version for me?

First, the cuff detail is the feature, and I have just the pattern.


The Asymmetric Dress  from The Makers Atelier has the perfect cuff detail, so now I need the top to attach them to…

Step up…


One of my fav patterns, I’ve made the Montrose several times before, and I love that I can create something I really want without recreating the wheel.

First step was to use some of my fabric to create a mock up of the sleeve detail, this was the unknown, and the bit I wanted to get spot on, its the “star of the dish” …if I were a slightly annoying TV cooking show…

I took the Montrose sleeve I’ve use before (all hail the full bicep sleeve!) and added width to allow for the gathering of the cuff. I then followed the instructions for inserting the elastic as per the Makers Atelier pattern, although of course I forgot to add length to allow for folding up the fabric to create the channel for the elastic, doh!


Not a bad first attempt, although too short…

Using the fabric I intended for the whole garment allowed me to get a good idea for the feel and how it worked with the elastic, it was surprisingly easy and I love the effect of the gathered cuff. Next steps…

Taking my pattern piece and adding length as well as width. In my case I squared off the size 16 full bicep piece, which added approx 3-4 cm (1.5-2 inches) to each side, plus an additional 5 cm to the length of the sleeve.



To make up the cuff, sew your sleeve together at the side seam, then fold a 1 cm (1/2 inch) hem.


Measure your elastic & sew the short ends together. I used 4 cm (2 inch) elastic, which I stretched around my arm to give a firm but not tight band.


Next, I folded my sleeve hem up another 5 cm (2.5 inches) and ironed it to create a hem to follow (this is exponentially easier with a nice firm fabric like sateen!)


Now, take your elastic, and line the seam up with the seam on your sleeve hem, slipping it inside the fabric channel. Yes, it will feel weird as there is way more fabric than elastic but bear with me caller!

Now on your machine & working from the wrong side, line up the top of your sleeve hem fold with your needle, you want to encase the elastic but not stitch into it. Lower the needle & off you go. Honestly, its not as terrible as it looks!


The trick is to stretch the elastic, but be careful not to sew into it. Once you reach the end you will have fabric you can straighten out so your gather is nice & even , with elastic that hugs your arm without cutting off circulation. If your fingers turn blue please take off your top & have another crack!


I can do it! And smile like a loon while I do..

The Montrose has darts, which are not included in my inspiration pattern, but to be honest I think for those of us with a fuller bust a bit of shaping is essential , while still maintaining a reasonably boxy look. It’s all in the proportions. Like many things really.


Now please admire my lovely flat neckline binding, after the horrors of stretched out knit necklines it  was rather heartening to make something that actually lay nice & flat!

Me about to tell Tuppence not to jump on the table! Tuppence jumped on the table.

To complete the look?

I do seem to have a thing going on…


So, not a perfect re-creation, but I think a great homage to a pattern I admire, while keeping my own values & aesthetic….and actually not spending any money on a new pattern, huzzah!

Kristina x

*If you’ve never been to this neck of the woods, imagine getting on a plane & taking off from Auckland due North West,  out over the huge dark Pacific ocean. A few hours later you’ve had pre-dinner drinks, dinner, maybe a movie, possibly an argument with your husband, but guess what? You’re still in the middle of nowhere. It’s literally nothing but ocean the whole time you look out the window. A few fitful hours sleep, and after eight hours you can wave at Hawaii as you pass a few tiny spots of light in the distance. After that,  settle back for another fours hours or so of nothing but water before the bright lights of LA come into view. Its a bloody big ocean!



  1. catkins13 says:

    Looks great – I just need to find my starting pattern! I have a couple of ottobre ones I might fiddle with 😊


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thanks! Yes the key is having a good base pattern, makes life SO much easier! Ive not sewn any Ottobre patterns before, I must see if the library has the mags…


      1. catkins13 says:

        I haven’t seen them at the onehunga library – only burda –


  2. Megan says:

    Great hack! This really elevates a basic top design. I need to go ahead and try out the montrose pattern so that I can use it for hacking!


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thanks! I’ve been using knits recently with very mixed results so going back to a pattern I know works for me, while still making something new is JUST what I needed:)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sonia Hinson says:

    Good Job. I love it and its so flattering. Will definitely try and copy it. Yesterday I bought an Ottobre magazine. Never used one before but it looks really good. I also live in Auckland so know exactly what you mean about just how far away we are.


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Hi Sonia, thank you! I’ve never used Ottobre either actually, but I’ve heard good things. My local stationer is stocking La Maison Victor mag, some really nice patterns in the first one I brought!


  4. Rhonda says:

    Love it! Everything from the fabric to the inspiration to the finished top.


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thanks Rhonda! x


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