Lockdown with Eleanor

Nice & easy like Sunday morning

Well hello there, it’s been a while.* After 50 some days of Lockdown here in Tamaki Makarau I’m not quite sure how long, so let’s stick with a while. September came and went in a carb fueled haze, October does appear to be shaping up to be the same but with less rain, so that’s something at least!

I’ve not been completely idle on the sewing front , if anything I’m glad to have an absorbing hobby that sees me through some rather anxious times. Even if some days it’s just folding beautiful pieces of fabric in my stash & thinking about what I might make. Stash Management is basically a hobby on its own really.

 

No idea what I’m doing either..

The Eleanor shirt completely passed me by on release (to be fair I was probably busy doomscrolling Twitter & wondering how to spend the Airmiles I wasn’t getting on a plane with anytime this decade). I have made several Sew Me Something patterns, including this wonderful dress , and when I first saw Jules’ fab gingham version I immediately loved the vintage feel of the shawl collar. It actually reminds me of a shirt my eldest sister had back in the day I may or may not have borrowed & never gave back…

Was this a tricky sew? Not really. Did I still manage to make some dumb mistakes? Of course dear reader, would you expect anything less? For starters, that back please detail…

Inverted, extroverted, who is to know…

Ok, that’s supposed to be an INVERTED back pleat. How I turned it into a Box pleat is one of life’s mysteries. I even remember thinking “oh yes, that looks great” when I was fiddling with the selvedge to go across the back yoke. 

What I was aiming for…

After a really fun post from Wanda Brown, talking about using the fabric selvedge in interesting ways I thought I would do the same. I love it & at least it’s a distraction from my pleat error yes?

From experience the ease on Sew Me Something patterns is generous, but I sized down from a 22 to an 18, I think a 20 might have been a smarter option, I feel like the bodice is lifting at the front .

The pattern also calls for five buttons & I realised after sewing my buttonholes the top one was far too high . I think I needed to overlap the button band further but because I’d sized down the ease was more restricted across my bust than it should have been, and I ended up with a buttonhole on the road to nowhere.  We live and learn.

 

We’re on the road to nowhere…

The fabric is a chambray linen from Spotlight  I brought on sale, it has a lovely drape & was really nice to sew. The shell buttons from Miss Maude are a real pleasure. Both lovely to look at, and after six weeks in lockdown, it’s always nice to see our courier driver delivering treats & a cheery wave. Those guys & gals are doing the mahi right now! 

The size range on this pattern is great , size 8-30, I’d highly recommend for a comfortable shirt with some cute vintage style. I’d like one in a pretty rayon, and I was very chuffed when my BFF 13 year old daughter decided she wanted one to!

So what else is keeping us occupied here at Plum Towers?

If you haven’t already, check out Vigil, oh my goodness, every episode I go to bed with a real sense of unease (in a good way!) And yes, we are watching old school, one episode a week on Sunday night. I can catch up with my Mum & my bestie on Monday to discuss, remember when TV was like that? I love the convenience of On Demand & Streaming but I do love that “water cooler” TV discussion that we seem to have lost now .

Just finished reading The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman, I thought I loved the Thursday Murder Club, but this one is even better, clever mystery with a cast of characters you don’t want to leave (I adore Joyce , even if her Instagram handle is a tad ropey…) 

Right, off to bed here , my sister has arranged a (contactless!) drop off Eight Detectives and I’m rather excited, how good does this look?

Keep safe friends, and when in doubt…eat Carbs 

Kristina xxx

*”Not much, how about you?” Thanks England Dan & John Ford Coley…

My Assembly Line finally gets moving…

The sun is out!

Winter has well & truly arrived. Yes I did have to scrape ice off the windscreen the other morning. Mr PK & I have already had our annual “how to operate the heat pump” argument. I favor leaving it on all the time at a lower temp (also recommended by the installer), he is all about turning it off & on as required. So basically it will be operated with passive aggressive turning off and on in an extremely inefficient manner until September. Happy days!

So why am I wearing a relatively summery style dress then?

I cut this Assembly Line Box Please dress out about 10 Degrees ago, but never got around to making it up. My sewjo has been somewhat lacking recently, the pieces sat in my To Be Done basket making me feel bad before we had a really wet weekend & I finally got around to some sewing. It is quite a quick sew, even for me.

This dress is a winner. I choose a rayon from Spotlight , it has the prefect drape for this style. The shape is simple, but as with other Assembly Line patterns, it’s all about the details. I love the box pleat feature, which gives the dress wonderful movement, and the split hem. Pockets of course, and the sleeves are a really nice shape, loose enough I can layer with a merino top underneath. Boots & tights make this perfect for work, but when the weather warms up it will work equally well with sandals or sneakers, and a denim jacket .

I made a size XL with no alterations, next time I would do a small forward shoulder adjustment, but other than that I’m happy, another winner from The Assembly Line. The patterns are not cheap, but the aesthetic is definitely me,  I got this one & The Oversized Shirt from Miss Maude  which I’m really keen to make next (yay for sewjo!) 

I’ve gone a bit mad planting onions apparently…

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

Wife of the Year Award…

I FINALLY made up the Pajamas I promised Mr PK approx. four years ago. These are the Eastwood Pajamas by Thread Theory in beautiful soft Double Gauze also from Miss Maude. They are a huge hit, so much so I have now been asked to make a linen pair for Summer. He’s given me months of warning, wise man.

I saw this book Modern Quilting on the Merchant & Mills social media feed , they have provided offcuts of linen for the author Julius Arthur to use in his quilts for the book. I love the style & colours, I’ve never tried quilting before, quilting cotton always seemed a bit “in your face” for me, but these quilts are much more subdued. I enjoy listening to the Haptic & Hue podcast on my commute, this episode, talking about the Gee’s Bend quilters in Alabama was particularly interesting. 

Don’t laugh, its my first attempt!

My first attempt is a quilt for my cat to sit on, I figure start small while I figure out the techniques! Yes, I have much to learn. Tuppence is trying to be encouraging but not sure she is fully convinced her new rug will be a match for the hideous fleece number currently on the end of the spare bed.

Tuppence not sure about my quilting abilities.

We had a lovely time a few weeks back celebrating my Mother in Laws 80th birthday with a family lunch followed by tea & cake. No pressure making the cake then. I was really pleased with how it came out, a vanilla cake sandwiched with fresh passionfruit curd & passionfruit buttercream, yum. Our passionfruit vine was prolific over summer so I had the pulp in my freezer, I know, very Martha Stewart of me.

I spent a whole weekend sorting & moving my cookbooks onto one big bookcase (which I had to paint first). It was hard yakka but deeply satisfying, I love my little reading nook, and the book covers won’t fade in the corner of the lounge. Such a treat being able to find a recipe book without searching three different bookcases in different parts of the house. And yes, I may well have a few too many cookbooks.

I’m especially pleased as this is a very personal little spot. The couch & chairs came from my husbands parents Bach, I had them recovered . The lamp was also from the Bach, I’m still deciding on a cover for the shade. My sister gave me the wonderful French print on the wall, and made the applique cushion on the couch. I made the cushion on the chair from a tea towel Glenn’s Grandmother brought for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953 . The crochet blanket is from a charity shop. Nothing matched or particularly expensive but it’s comfortable & I love it.

I hope you are staying warm (or cool!) wherever you are, in the meantime I’d like to give a special shout out to the genius that invented heated seats in cars.

Sir or Madam, I salute you!

Kristina xxx

Easter off the Cuff

Wondering how much chocolate we have left…

And just like that its autumn. The clocks went back over the weekend and I now have the correct time on my oven for the first time in six months, yay! Sadly we’ve just brought a new car, never mind the clock, I’ve only just located the handbrake , a button for goodness sake? We had our previous car 16 years, so technology has moved on quite a bit (goodbye CD player…) My husband picked it up from the dealership with the aircon on full, couldn’t work out how to turn it off & was slightly hypothermic by the time he got home so apparently we’re a family of Luddites. I am however hanging out for cold weather so I can turn on the heated seats (yes it’s a thing, I have located that button!)

It’s been a lovely relaxing Easter weekend here, we were in Level 4 lockdown for Easter last year, its been great to celebrate freely once again. I hope where ever you are if you celebrate the holiday you’ve managed to do so with some normality. We had our traditional whanau Good Friday lunch , my husband won the poker , not sure Mum was totally impressed…

Can’t choose your Son in Law’s Mum, sorry…

I had intended to make myself a new top for the day, but of course I wasn’t organized. My sew-jo has been a bit hit & miss lately, ridiculous as it sounds I have so many patterns & so much fabric I end up paralyzed with choice. Yes that is ENTIRELY a first world problem, I am making a conscious effort to use what I have.

Enter the Assembly Line Cuff Top. In beautiful Merchant & Mills linen from Miss Maude which I had in my stash.

CUFF TOP PATTERN - The Assembly Line shop

I’ve admired so many of these popping up on social media, then my bestie made a version and obviously I had to have that pattern too. Happily The Assembly Line have extended their size range so you can now get this wee gem up to a 4XL. The curvier range has a dart added, which I actually really like, added fabric through the bust without being swamped in fabric around the waist & hips.

Admiring my first Feijoa tree, I feel so grown up! (it’s a NZ thing…)

Having said that I think next time I’ll add a couple of cm length, and grade out the same at the hips. The neckline is the boat neck variation, I’m all over boat necks at the moment, for some reason they feel dressier to me than a crew neck. Using the boat neck also meant I didn’t need to make the button loop or attach a button, the neckline is sufficiently roomy to just slide overhead. I whipped this top up in a day, which for a slow sewer like me is pretty good. Just bear in mind the instructions for the facing will change, and you need to fully sew up the back seam.

Animal print & gold as a look? Why yes please

I first met my husband back in the 90’s, he still refers to my “dressing as a tree” phase. I had a much loved (meaning flippin expensive so I wore it everywhere) Working Style linen shirt in the most fabulous deep forest green. I was also deeply wedded to my brown straight leg cords (corduroy is so much more comfortable than denim, seriously) , so the two combined were a fav outfit. I’m happy to recreate the glory here . The pants are the Muna & Broad Sculthorpe, in heavy linen from The Fabric Store , that top stitching brings me joy.

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

Woman on a mission

Mum stayed for a couple of days over Easter so we hit the garden center on Saturday. There isn’t a plant, garden or nursery my Mother doesn’t appreciate, so after I picked various winter vege & herbs for my raised beds & plants for my hanging baskets she lasted all of 24 hours before suggesting she could plant them out . I bow down to both superior knowledge & enthusiasm! I wont pretend to be any kind of botanist, but there is something really soothing about being in a garden. And I wont lie, watching someone else make that garden is pretty satisfyingly lazy. I know, I’m terrible.

Eggcellent! Sorry…

My youngest sister has fully embraced the Jellyologist, we had the most marvelous Xmas trees in December, but she brought it next level for Easter. That’s layers of different flavors of jelly in real egg shells, the eggs themselves made their way into chocolate pavlova with crème patisserie filling. Spoilt yes?

Ok one thing I am excited about with a new car is the ease of listening to podcasts. Years after everyone else discovered them of course, but the glory of not wrestling with cords is really quite thrilling. My current fav is Shedunnit by Caroline Crampton. As an avowed aficionado of Golden Age detective fiction this is such a great listen. If you don’t like Agatha Christie, Ngaio March & the rest of the band…give yourself a talking too & have a listen. You might learn something.

Words to live by…

Lastly, super cute pencils from Miss Maude , I have been a stationery fiend from way back, the beginning of the school year was such a thrill, a new pencil case is still a thing of joy. What plans I shall make with these beauties…

Have a lovely week team, hopefully next time we meet I’ve sorted the clock in the car…wish me luck

Kristina x

You silky minx Waikerie…

Well, back into Level 3 lockdown here is Auckland. Three cases in the community, a family including a border worker who thankfully, as soon as she felt unwell,  got tested. Fingers crossed with some pretty epic test & tracing going on it will be nipped in the bud. I spent today working at home in my “lounge wear” under the supervision of Tommy & Tuppence. Many treats & cuddles were administered, cats love lockdown! 

Sadly however, I did not get the chance to wear my swanky new SILK shirt to work. Boo! Yes, you heard me, I tackled silk. There were no tears, barely any swearing (honest), I only used my unpicker twice. I know, these are indeed crazy times.

The Waikerie shirt from Muna & Broad. I made View B with short sleeves, I would probably never wear a long sleeve shirt without rolling the sleeves up, I thought the soft fabric would not stay rolled for long.

Oh hey there…

Because I have previously made this Waikerie dress (an extension of the original pattern), I already had some pattern pieces cut out, and I knew the yoke and collar was the right size for me. The fabric I picked up on sale from The Fabric Store a wee while ago, I LOVE the sequin print , but was always a little hesitant to use it, a) not being experienced sewing silk (not sure how I thought that would change NOT sewing with it?) and b) I was never sure the colour worked for me. Now I’m a foxy silver its practically camouflage yes?

Isn’t it fun

The only thing I did to compensate for sewing silk was use a finer gauge needle, and as far as I could, use French seams. The sleeve band method is the same as the Torrens top, I really like it but wish I’d finished the seams on this one with binding rather than overlocking , I can feel it slightly rubbing on my skin (Five minutes sewing silk & suddenly a delicate wee thing I am…)

Love a good box pleat

I really like the slightly sporty style of the shirt, with a slightly boxy fit, dropped back hem & shorter sleeves, combined with a really luxe fabric. I love it with my jeans & sneakers for the weekend, but it works equally well with pants & heels for the day job (well, when I’m in the office and not sitting at the dining table in my slippers covered in cat fur hey…)

Is there a ship ahoy or what?

As with other Muna & Broad patterns, the instructions are nice & clear and the drafting is great, I’m already planning a cute linen version. Or silk satin, now I’m a bit of an expert…? Yeah, nah.

Contemplating life…or trying not to put dents in the wooden floor?

So what else has been happening around these parts?

Watched a fab movie on Netflix The Dig recently, not only a lovely film (based on a true story) but some really fabulous costumes too! I received the The Foldline newsletter last week, which did a wee rundown of patterns if you wanted to recreate the look. I personally adore the whole 40’s Industrial Land Girl aesthetic so this was right up my alley. I also wear silver shoes & animal print so I’m clearly also slightly confused on this point…

Actually if this is your vibe too, check out Old Town clothing and of course one of my favorite pattern designers Merchant & Mills

On a completely different tangent, Series 2 of Blown Away has just dropped on Netflix & I’m very excited. Mr D & I loved series one, a show about glassblowing doesn’t sound like everyone’s bag but trust me, it’s fab. So much artistry, so many different personalities, by the final we were really invested!

On the bedside table, The Marlow Murder Club, really enjoying this one, in the vein of The Thursday Murder Club, it’s a fun whodunnit in the classic Golden Age style, with a spunky older sleuth, lots of fun

I hope where ever you are it’s been a good start to the week, I’m currently having a G & T because from memory that’s what ones does in lockdown on a Monday night, or is that just me?

Kristina x

Tarlee babeee…

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Stardate Year 2021 day 4572….no wait, what? We made it to February? Yeow, whoop whoop , kiss me a kitten! Holidays done & dusted here, back at work, although thanks to Auckland Anniversary day and Waitangi day we have two long weekends on the trot, perfect. As you can see I need to spend at least one of those days in the jungle of my garden… 

So what has been occurring at Plum Towers? Well for starters please do admire my fancy new tee. This is the new Muna & Broad Tarlee tee.

 

Now, you might ask myself does the world need another tee pattern? Such a simple garment yes? Um no. From the perfect neckline (my sister & I have bored for England on this very topic, as only siblings can, she is V neck or die, I’m more flexible) to the perfect sleeve. I love an elbow length, which can be surprising hard to find in RTW. Fit is another can of worms altogether. I want a snug fit around my shoulders & bust, so it doesn’t look sloppy. I want a less snug fit around my waist & hips…

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I love this pattern. I know not what drafting wizardry was involved, but I have a great fit through my shoulders & bust, with just the right “loose but not sloppy” fit through my lower torso. The curved hem is a cute finish, elevating this from a basic tee. I made the Size C, grading out to Size D at the waist & hips.

The pattern comes with notches for applying the neckline finish. This seems a much more sensible application than the quartering method, works much better for me anyway. Sadly my twin needle & I had a parting of ways, so the neckline isn’t finished perfectly…I need to get another needle, but I think I can zigzag this one to finish . My photographer was getting rather impatient so perfectly imperfect it is.

There is an option of a turtleneck , in various sizes, which when it cools down here, I shall definitely be making. Actually when I was growing up a turtleneck was called a skivvy, “it’s cold , put your skivvy on under your jumper”! Unlike the pattern, a turtleneck then came in one size only , tight! Many a neck was slightly strangled in the name of warmth (given the terrible heating most homes had it was probably a good thing!) 

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I was gifted some beautiful merino from A & R Fabrics , the colour is Whiskey , appropriate for a Douglas. The softness (& lack of scratch) combined with a good “drape but not cling” are great for this tee. I thought the Whiskey would match perfectly with the mustard dots on my Willandra pants. If I’m standing around in the garden grinning inanely at the fence I want to be colour coordinated ok. Actually this is a perfect weekend outfit, comfy but smart enough for a casual lunch or BBQ (elastic waist for the win too) 

So other than tee shirt fun, what’s been going on?

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My tomato plants have gone into high gear, as have the passionfruit. The limes are not far off either . I have “fond” memories of mid summer when I was a kid. I grew up in the burbs , Dad was a nurse & Mum looked after five of us & did a bit of cleaning work. As you can imagine money was tight, but we had the classic Kiwi Quarter acre section, and both my parents grew up knowing how to stretch a buck. Despite Mums best efforts to cover the whole section in flowers, Dad did carve out a vege garden, and we had prolific fruit trees. Which meant acres of Beef Steak tomatoes & Golden Queen peaches in summer. If there is a more thankless task than canning peaches or making tomato sauce in Auckland in January even now, I know not what it is, but back then?? Humidity in the high 90’s, no air con & ingrate children who wanted Watties like everyone else, I’m surprised Mum didn’t lose it completely. I do remember some frayed nerves…

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I took the easy route & roasted my tomatoes with basil, oregano & thyme from the garden, a good splash of Olive oil, a few cloves of garlic & plenty of salt & pepper. 180C for about an hour

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Push the whole lot through a mouli (or a sieve) & you have the most delicious roasted tomato passata, I popped mine in the freezer in small pottles, perfect for pizza sauce, pasta, and tomorrow nights patatas bravas, using potato’s I didn’t realize had actually survived the Auckland hose pipe ban! 

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I hope January has been kind, or at least not too crappy My nephew and his lovely girlfriend in the UK contracted Covid over Xmas but have thankfully recovered. We are enjoying enormous freedom here in NZ, but I’m very aware we don’t have real freedom until everyone can be vaccinated & we can rid ourselves of this horrible disease.
So I’ll leave you with this. It was a joy to see President Biden and Vice President Harris enter the White House, but oh golly we were excited to see Major Biden , the first rescue dog to live at the White House! Here is his Indoguration, it’s all lovely, but especially at 15 mins in, Josh Grobin singing a lovely wee song. The best breed? Rescue every day (Tommy & Tuppence insist!)

We made it to February, have a fab week friends

Kristina xxx 

A new skirt for the new year…

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Ok, I was going to start with a hearty Happy New Year, but honestly, how about We Made It, Go Us instead? Crawling into 2021, doom scrolling Twitter, and wondering, between the shocking events unfolding in the US and the terrible Covid situation what the heck is next. If this were a Gerard Butler film I’d be yelling at the TV “no, its too much, so unbelievable”!

Retreating to my sewing room, I spent an inordinate amount of time rearranging fabric (almost like a completely separate hobby from actual sewing, and so relaxing ), finding a lovely piece of Spotlight rayon left over from a previous project. I had just on one meter, enough for another Muna & Broad Nullarbor camisole, I think my fourth now?

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I love the colour combination on this fabric, and realized it would work really well with this linen I also found in my stash. I clearly had something in mind when I brought over FOUR meters of it…but have no idea what. I know, ridiculous…and gosh I hope it was on sale. Anyway it turns out it is perfect for the Peppermint Pocket Skirt , a collaboration between Peppermint Magazine & Paper Theory pattern

POCKET SKIRT - peppermint magazine

While I love the shape of the skirt, I wont lie, I was a tiny bit concerned about pockets you could fit a small child in. But given the way the year is shaping up we could get hit by a zombie invasion next week, so it seemed like a good time to try something new! This is a really quick & easy sew, the pocket construction is clever, I was quite intrigued to see how it looked on.

Hmmmm.

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I tried it on for Mr PK, his face was a picture. “those are some big pockets…they sort of sit on a wide bit” *makes hand motions indicating the not ungenerous width of his loving wife’s hips* Then in a moment of clarity regarding just how terrible his 2021 was about to get, he followed up with the immortal “if you like it, that’s what counts”. Indeed.

I think in a softer fabric the pocket would have a softer drape but in the heavyweight linen the effect is a bit exaggerated for me. Because of the way the skirt is constructed taking the pocket off wasn’t really an option, but a wee pleat? Now were talking.

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I ended up doing an inverted pleat, then embellished with a simple embroidery cross in green thread as a wee detail. I think the effect is charming, and I’m aerodynamically safe to go out in strong winds. The skirt as per the pattern is very long, I took a good 7″/15 cm off , I would probably leave the hem a little longer next time.

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I had actually intended the skirt to be a new years day lunch outfit with this top, a new pattern from The Fabric Store

Sparkle sparkle…

I love that neckline! It’s a quick make, I made the 3/4 sleeve but took about 2″/5 cm off to make it more elbow length. I like the fit, not to tight, but not baggy. The cotton is from Spotlight, it it probably slightly thick for this time of year but I couldn’t resist that print.

Apparently I can only look one way in a photo…

The elastic waistband is comfortable, I would not wear it sitting as high as the pattern pics, I’ve tried but it feels very odd to me!

Hysterical 2021 style laugh…

So how about a few other fun distractions to stop, or at least reduce, daytime drinking?

On Netflix, the brilliant Bridgerton, this is so much fun! Romance, gorgeous costumes, wit, charm, did I mention gorgeous costumes? You can read all about them here

I went to the cinema last week with a pal & saw The Dry, so good! I really enjoyed the book, the movie adaptation is very true to the novel. Eric Bana is brilliant in the lead and lets be honest, brilliantly attractive also!

Speaking of daytime drinking, water definitely tastes better off a hydrangea leaf…

Why use the three water bowls you already have…

I hope where ever you are you’re safe and able to squeeze some joy out of the coming year, we deserve it!

Kristina x

Knits for the win…

Hello from Spring in Auckland. Despite this year feeling literally 5,000 days long, I’m thrilled to say we have enjoyed saying goodbye to Lockdown Mark 2, The Auckland Episode (less sourdough, more sour grapes ), and it’s rained! Not sure if the dams are full but my wee garden is looking lush.

Tommy looking very underwhelmed…

A visit to my lovely GP post lockdown has turned up a few surprises. Firstly, my liver is still intact (whoop, amazing!) Secondly , I could do with losing a few pounds. OK that one was probably a surprise to none but still. How boring. But given Diabetes runs rife in my Whanau, needs must . Getting old might be sometime be a drag, but not getting old is infinitely worse yes?

So I’m following Doctors orders and am dropping the pounds . I do intermittent fasting & that’s about as much as I need to say about that (I’m pretty sure hearing about my diet is about as dreary as hearing about my tax return , I’m an accountant, I should know…)

Any ho, it does mean sewing has been a little uninspiring. Do I want to spend ages making something I know won’t fit me in a few weeks/months? Enter knits , in all their lovely stretchy forgiving fabulousness.

First up is the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee, which I love (and it’s FREE!) I fiddled a bit with the neckline on this one, its wider than I intended, but a great casual top with my Muna & Broad Willandra pants. I was off to lunch at my sisters so elastic waist pants & a great stretchy top for the win. The fabric is a linen cotton mix from Miss Maude, so delicious to sew and wear.

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Next, a Cashmerette Saybrook Tank , (complete with apparently confused middle aged woman’s attempt to use the timer on her phone…) while it isn’t something I’d wear without some arm coverage , I love a tank under a cardigan. I have made several Springfield tops, perfect for matching fun patterns with knits, and great for my office , which veers between “a bit chilly” and “OMG turn the heater on” .  A knit version was too hard to resist! 

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If you are not loving the idea of sewing knits, I can recommend the Saybrook sewalong , putting tissue , or in my case, tracing paper, under my fabric when stitching was an absolute gamechanger, behold that flat neckline binding! Continue reading “Knits for the win…”

Getting Shirty with Waikerie (and maybe a tiny bit sweary)

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Hello from the jungle that is my vege garden. As you can see the caterpillars are making a feast of my cauliflower plants, the caulis themselves have been a bit of a disaster so I’m leaving them to it. The cabbages however are going great guns, if you like coleslaw & wind, my house is the place to be!

It’s been a quiet few weeks here at Plum Towers, perfect for tackling what must be one of my most challenging projects yet, the Waikerie Dress  , from Muna & Broad. This is an extension to their Waikerie Shirt pattern, and I should note, not an especially complicated pattern, particularly given the excellent instructions & the You Tube sewalong .

So why so challenging? Well friends, I had a vision. Not a “Joan of Arc” type vision (although given the state of 2020 so far, quite frankly ANYTHING is possible), but a very particular idea of a dress I wanted, inspired in part by a dress a colleague has been wearing. It’s a brown animal print chiffon number, not to fitted but not super loose, midi length with long sleeves. I found the following pics as inspiration on Pinterest, I think they are Zara.

 

I knew the right fabric would be critical to stop me veering into “she’s wearing her nightie” territory, so I was VERY pleased to come across the perfect animal print chiffon on the bargain table at Spotlight. I’m a sucker for animal print, but I don’t normally love polyester (Sweaty Betty raise your hand…) I figured the print was spot on and the price even better ($8 a metre, whoop), so even if it ended up being a total disaster I wouldn’t feel too aggrieved.

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Sooo lovely to wear 🙂

So was it a total disaster ? Absolutely not, I’m thrilled with this dress, and how close it is to what I originally had in mind. Did I love the process? Mostly. Did I make a couple of absolute clangers that had me reaching for a bucket of Chardonnay? Dear reader, would you expect anything less?

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In my defence, chiffon is tricky! Poly chiffon has a bounce that makes it harder to deal with than say silk, but with all the slippery minx qualities of both silk & satin. The edges fray into annoying little bits , plus it’s rather sensitive to heat , but more on that later (sensitive readers be warned, it’s really quite terrible…)

BUT, it has a fab drape, a super fun design, and is inexpensive. Given I was making View A with long sleeves, and needed a generous 4 metres of fabric, cheap was good, if it all ended up a terrible mess I hadn’t emptied my sewing account for naught (don’t laugh, I really do have a separate savings account called the Fabric Fund:)

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The first drama was cutting out. Lets just say cats, a slightly blunt pair of scissors & metres of slippery fabric are NOT the ideal combination. I did use a new technique to me, and interfaced my piece of fabric BEFORE cutting out my facings & collar, the interfacing made the fabric so much easier to deal with, and saved time. I can highly recommend  The Fabric Store iron on interfacing, various weights, sold by the metre and it doesn’t come away from the fabric .

I’ve used Muna & Broad patterns before , including a wonderful cami & pants combo and their fab Torrens top, so I knew roughly where I should be size wise. I made the Size C, which I knew to be a few inches smaller than my hip measurement, but the final garment measurements indicated plenty of ease through the hips so I went for it. I also drove to work on Friday with the petrol light on, and didn’t fill up until I was half way home Friday night. I live life on the edge hey!

The bodice & collar came together much more easily than I anticipated, I did take my time, using French seams where I could. A reader on Instagram suggested using starch & water to stiffen the fabric when sewing & I will definitely try that next time. But if there is one thing I’d recommend to a newbie when sewing this kind of fabric it’s use a busy print, way more forgiving then a sheer plain that shows every flaw!

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I originally intended to have long cuffed sleeves, but when the dress was made up it just felt a bit “much”. So I took inspiration from my colleagues dress & used an elastic hem, but on shortened sleeves. The elastic draws the volume of fabric gently in, I think its a better silhouette given the volume in the dress itself.

Things started to get hairy when I attached the dress to the bodice, that is a LOT of gathered chiffon. The bottom of the bodice was also fraying terribly, next time I would add a narrow line of interfacing as soon as I cut the pieces out, by the time I added it there was already a lot of hairy fabric . Sewing the dress to the bodice went reasonably well until I then went to overlock the seam (French seams had gone out the window by then!) I discovered a small area where I had caught the seam with the overlocker. Out came the unpicker, surely my most used sewing tool. Sigh.

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My superpower.

All was going well. Then it wasn’t. A small rip had appeared right where the bodice meet the dress. Not ideal, but not a total disaster. I thought I would add a small piece of interfacing, then hand sew the tear together. So what do you think happens when you add a too hot iron (I swear it was on the wool setting but apparently not…) to a polyester fabric, when you are so busy focusing on a small area, oblivious to what else your lovely iron is currently singeing? This.

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No (repeatable) words.

I was surprisingly calm. A couple of fairly heavy duty swear words, and then somewhere a few synapses fired and I remembered we were dealing with a bodice here. I had omitted the side seam pockets from the original pattern, thinking chiffon was just too light , but maybe Cinderella would go to the Pocket Ball after all…

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Camouflage pocket…literally!

It was a pain in the butt to sew, but I’m so glad I did! I reinforced both sides of the hole with interfacing so it wouldn’t get any bigger, then covered with a square pocket. Discovering the rolled hem function on my overlocker was another win, not only did I edge the pockets before sewing onto my bodice, but it was a lovely finish on my hem , approximately three miles of it.

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Hiding under the seat…

I’m so pleased with this project, I used a fabric that I knew would challenge me, produced something that, while no means perfect, I’m actually really happy with and learnt some new techniques for next time, that is a win surely? Just don’t let me stand anywhere near an open flame…

Just incase you think I’m a totally rubbish gardener, may I present my cabbage. Don’t hear that every day do you?

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I think this was taco night (so many cabbage nights…)

Next project? I found this glorious linen at The Fabric Store, its a vintage wash so quite soft, and how about that colour (called Marmalade)  They have recently released a robe pattern, so in an effort to up my tragic nightwear game (scrubby tees & pants for the win? No…) I have downloaded the Lucie Robe  , perfect shape & generous sizing. I was heading to the counter (honest!) when I spied 20% off on Liberty , so thought maybe a lovely tana lawn for a nightie/PJ situation? I’ve never sewn tana lawn , but gosh it feels beautiful, most important for night wear (there’s a reason so many of us wear those worn tees, they are so soft) This fabric jumped out at me, doesn’t that just say Spring?

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Gorgeous !

Lounge wear fabulous here I come…

Have a lovely week friends, stay safe xxx

Kristina

 

 

So many outfits, Nullarbor & Willandra…

 

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What a surreal three months it has been since my last post.

I’ll be honest, when I see the terrible suffering this horrible disease is causing all around the world I do feel a mixture of amazement at our Team of 5 million dodging a real disaster, (although cold comfort sadly for the 22 people who lost their lives, their friends and whanau)  and guilt,  that aside from being able to see my sister in Oz or visit my friends in the UK, my life is pretty much back to “normal”, when so many are living anything but.

It was interesting hearing people talking about how much they thought they would do over lockdown, versus what they actually did. When I realised I would be working from home & literally going nowhere for weeks I thought I would get ALL the sewing done, read ALL the books, cook ALL the meals. Well I did end up cooking all the meals (Mr D can make toast & fairly average coffee, it ends there…) and thanks to a healthy supply of yeast & flour, baking all the goodies. But sewing , even reading proved more difficult. I don’t think I realised at the time how anxious I actually was.

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So besides eating my body weight in carbs , discovering what a Zoom meeting is (if I never hear “no, turn the mute off, I still can’t hear you…!” again, it will be a good thing) & emptying our stocks of gin completely have I done anything actually productive in the last few months?

So a cute cami top, fab trousers,  two “jumpsuits” and a “dress” sound impressive? I know, get me! Ok, not QUITE accurate, but I’m congratulating past Kristina on having the sense to buy up Spotlight fabric she really liked when it was on sale.

I made my first Nullarbor Cami using rayon I had leftover after making these Tania culottes. Version A of the cami can be squeezed out of a metre of fabic, perfect stash busting, and also an oppourtunity for a faux jumpsuit, all the cute but with bathroom benefits. Plus, even for a slow sewer, more distracted than usual , this was a speedy make.

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Because of the width of the culottes, it actually looks like a pretty dress. However on a windy Auckland day the benefits of culottes over a skirt become apparent.

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Swish!

 

The cami is also really cute with jeans and a cardigan, casual but a bit more dressed up than a tee shirt.

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Clearly I’m a fan of Muna & Broad patterns, these Torrens tops are favs, and I still have to blog my fab Sculthorpe pants. The instructions are good, the shapes are lovely, and I admire Leila & Jess for their authenticity & lets be honest, fabulous wardrobes. I’ve already cut out another Nullarbor, so perfect for work with coordinating cardigans (you know I love me a good cardi) , but it has been pushed out by yet another awesome pant pattern, the Willandra. I’m going to bore for England about this one, its FAB.

 

Flat front, elastic gathered waist back for veeeery comfortable pants, with voluminous pockets and a cool side seam which wraps around the leg. It’s rather hard to see in my spotty fabric (wont lie, ironing it gives me optical illusions) but it’s the nice details I like with these patterns.

 

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Resting B*tch Face, I’m actually loving this outfit.

 

Best of all, ZERO adjustments. Yep, straight out of the packet, size ii, not a thing changed. It’s a unicorn I tell you.

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I topstitched the elastic, I cannot stand twisted elastic, plus it looks nice. Even with rogue cat hairs…

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Spotty butt, it’s a good thing…

I love the fit over my hips & butt, not clinging, not tight, just a nice skim of fabric. Did I mention the elastic around the waist? I think the flat front is a really nice detail, makes the pants slightly more formal , but not too much.

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Please don’t let the hair distract you from the marvelous spotty top & pants!

Mum came over last night for a slumber party as Mr D is away, when I showed her my new makes she was all over these pants. No Mum, you’ll have to make your own. She did get out & prune my roses so I shouldn’t be so mean. Watching a proper gardener prune roses is quite something, she considered every cut carefully, I would have gone in with my lopers & hoped for the best, which is why her garden is glorious & mine is…mine.

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Brutal.

Although my vege garden at least is going great guns. I ordered seedings from Awapuni Nurseries over lockdown & they have thrived.

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April 2020

 

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July 2020 (Tommy not convinced about Winter gardening)

Its Brassica Central , or as my husband so kindly called it, the Garden of Many Farts.

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Tommy helping out squashing some lilies…

I’m not sure what it says about my priorities, but the most exciting thing about coming out of Level 3 was being able to reschedule my Loven appointment, I know everyone was going crazy at being able to get to the hairdressers, but a clean oven, that is a thing of joy. Best not look at my hair.

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I may look like Miss Havisham but check out that oven!

Another lockdown treat was this gem, from Scottish sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter, and his gorgeous Labs Olive & Mable, this is Episode 1, but watch them all. Episode 2, Game of Bones is my favorite, utterly hilarious!

I hope wherever you are , you & yours are safe & well, we’ve made it halfway through 2020, that deserves a medal, gold star, champagne & probably a blessing from the Pope, onwards!

Kristina xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because we need some comfort right now…

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How are you doing? I wondered if it would seem rather ridiculous talking about a cardigan when the world is going to hell in  handcart. But I know, for me anyway, a little normality in the chaos, is absolutely what I need. And wine. Lotsa wine.

So we went to Level 3 here in NZ on Monday, with the directive we would be at Level 4 in 48 hours. That is basically STAY AT HOME & isolated with your “bubble” for all but essential workers. I’ve never worked from home before, but I managed to get a work PC & printer (because my own PC decided it would be a good time to sh*t itself, and I couldn’t get it fixed in time, yay!) & have a nice wee set up at home.

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Health & Safety issue you say?

Mr D is also working from home, thankfully he has his own PC & laptop set up in his Man Lounge, so we are able to separate to work, meeting for lunch on the deck. Somehow I’ve ended up being barista, tea lady, lunch lady, chef & baker. At least I don’t have to empty the dishwasher (I draw the line!) I realize how incredibly lucky we both are to have our jobs & the opportunity to work at home comfortably. I have friends doing the mahi with kids at home, I don’t know how they do it!

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My sister on her walk around the block yelling at me from the other side of the hedge! 

So one of the pieces of advice I read for those new to working from home is to have a routine, and finds ways of separating home distractions & work. My usual morning routine is me charging around the house, shower, dress, grab lunch & go. No breakfast (I’m not remotely hungry first thing) not even coffee until I get to work.

I saw the movie The Post  a while back (worth watching) , and there is a lovely scene where Meryl Streep’s character is sitting in her glorious home in Washington DC, wearing a lovely nightgown,  enjoying a coffee and reading a paper early in the morning, preparing for the day. I thought why do I not start the day like that,  instead of me looking confused in a scrubby tee & pants trying to find something to wear that doesn’t need ironing?

While I still don’t look as glam as Meryl, at least my new routine is preparing coffees (I love you Nespresso) & sitting on the deck in the sunshine before logging on for the day. I’m planning on making some Carolyn PJ’s to get rid of the manky tees once and for all. I feel Meryl would  approve.

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Oh a headscarf you say…?

So dressing for work, when it involves a five second walk through the kitchen and sitting at the dining table all day?

I made my first Cashmerette Springfield top a few years ago now, perfect for using pretty fabric & ideal for wearing under another fav item, a nice cardigan. Now I know a cardi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea ( I’ve even heard “cardigan wearer” used as a term of derision) but I personally love them. Softer & more comfortable than a jacket, they can be chunky, pretty with embroidery, soft & snugly or cool in cotton.

So when Cashmerette brought out the Fuller Cardigan recently, I was very pleased. I had picked up some gorgeous merino from The Fabric Store recently (on sale) and some fab rayon in my favorite autumn colours from Spotlight, a whole outfit was forming.

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The cardigan came together pretty quickly. Now I think we can see it isn’t perfect! My knit game is not as strong as it could be, and I’m continuing a hate hate relationship with my interfacing, but its still perfectly wearable (for me anyway) . I made View A, with a deep V, I don’t actually have any suitable buttons (and won’t be shopping for any in the near future) but to be honest I probably wouldn’t use them anyway.

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The merino is quite lightweight, perfect for this time of year, when it’s just not quite warm enough (who am I kidding, it’s never hot enough for me until it’s too hot, I have about a 5 C margin of error 🙂 . The rayon in the singlet is also lightweight, the perfect layering outfit for Autumn or Spring. Or whatever temp you might be sitting inside in right now!

So if, like us here Downunder you are confined to barracks, what would be good to do while relaxing in your gorgeous knitwear? Whether you’re on your own & looking for something fun, or desperately trying to hide from the rest of your bubble before you throttle them? Or coming home exhausted working the front lines of the local Hospital/Supermarket/Pharmacy/Bus/Rubbish Truck?

Baking is always good (although we have a bit of a flour shortage her, clearly many internal domestic goddesses are being embraced) If you can get your hands on the white stuff, how about these Spinach & Cheese scones? The super easy DELICIOUS recipe is from a fabulous local bakery here in Auckland, get it here

Scone

 

If you are more of a sweet tooth, how about these? I used cranberries, pecans & dark chocolate, but I’d say the options are endless. Recipe by David Lebovitz here

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So you’ve got your scone or cookie (actually we’d call that a biscuit here in NZ, but cookie does sound comforting doesn’t it?), now something to read?

I’ve just finished this fabulous book by Peter Swanson, it seems to have different titles in the UK or US, but either way, its a great twisty read, perfect if you like murder mysteries & that smug feeling when an author drops a sneaky reference to book you love…and you nod knowingly. Yes you do, don’t deny it…

Maybe watching is more you thing? If you are a mystery lover you might also like Knives Out, a film I saw about four months ago, and LOVED. A clever closed room murder mystery,  and Daniel Craig, need I say more?

Not a mystery buff? A show playing on UK television, that’s also been picked up here by TVNZ called The Repair Shop is bringing me (and my husband and I expect many others) so much joy . It’s TV the British do best, clever, low key & yet completely lovely & quietly emotional . If you can get through an episode with a quite happy tear or three you’re a better woman than I.

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So much for natural colour…

Lastly, can I suggest embracing the headscarf? I don’t know about you but my lovely hairdresser is just a mirage in the distance, my current reality is a skunk stripe growing more noticeable by the day. I predict headscarves will be VERY in this season!

Hope where ever you are you are ok, managing what is a super anxious time & looking after yourself (or someone is looking after you!). I think our Prime Minister , definitely a woman you want to have in charge during a crisis, said it best…

Be Kind

Kristina x