Jumping for joy Cressida

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Goodness, it’s been a month since I last posted, how time flies when you get the front of your house ripped apart. You’d think, given my sewing room is at the back of the house I could continue unabated. But constantly wiping dust off EVERYTHING, deciding on things like door furniture (yes, it’s a thing) and secretly bitching about having to spend a couple of grand replacing the circuit board (alright yes I know it means the house is about 98% less likely to burn down but still, that’s a LOT of fabric people!) Most problematic of all? WHERE TO PUT THE CAT DOOR???*

So we can confidently say first world problem Kristina, build a bridge love. In my defense we are having Christmas at ours this year, my sister & her partner will be coming from Oz, hopefully my nephew from the UK so I want everything to be lovely . We were supposed to be visiting the UK over Summer, but as with most home reno’s the “nice bit of decking off the lounge” has morphed into “well I need feature lighting for the sculpture area & did we really spend over a thousand dollars on screws for the deck???”*

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So how on earth does all this relate to a woman standing in her garden wearing a snake print jumpsuit you may ask? When I was contacted by Jules at Sew Me Something asking if I’d like to write a review of her new pattern I was torn. A jumpsuit? Me? Really? I wont lie I was tempted by the Zadie jumpsuit that’s all over social media, but the idea of a wrap top made me nervous. Could a button front be the way to go?

 

After several weeks of chaos I just thought bugger it, if I can survive inhaling my body weight in wood dust every day, I can certainly manage a jumpsuit!

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Averting my eyes from those mucky pavers (thanks Tuppence…)

Very pleased I did. This is a great pattern! Not too complicated to sew (I’ve made several  of Jule’s patterns before, her instructions are excellent), so easy to wear. I decided to go with a slightly more formal version I could wear to work, using a drapey rayon from Spotlight. The pattern is for a pant that hits above the ankle,  but there are lengthen lines so I added 4 cm/2 incs to the leg. Because I have a VERY short waist I chopped the same amount off the bottom of the bodice that attaches to the pants. As you can see Im still belting higher than the waistline, so next time I would shave off another couple of cm. I’ve done this with other patterns, if something is going to sit on my waist, I need to adjust for the fact my waist is darn high!

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I will raise the bodice up another couple of cm next time…

The buttons make for an easy in & out when necessary (the bane of many a jumpsuit). The pockets are magnificent, nice & deep. I didn’t turn the sleeve cuffs over, I was happy with the sleeve length and I think the plain hem is a little more dressy. Because my belt is made from flimsy rayon it twists up very easily, next time I would add some interfacing for a bit of body. I made the size 20 but I think I could size down to an 18 next time.

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Me wondering why some woman can wear heels all day & I’m moaning after five minutes…

So despite my reservations, a perfect work/going out outfit , ideal with the cropped black leather jacket I have in a cupboard somewhere just waiting for me to find it again…

I will definitely make this pattern again, I’d like a gorgeous linen version to wear with sneakers of sandals when it warms up , linen for the winnin!

In the meantime, according to my husband I look “great… and also if I need to parachute into Western Europe on a moments notice I’m perfectly dressed!”

Thanks hon…

So when I haven’t been whipping up jumpsuits or dusting what else has been occurring?

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Little jars of sparkling fruity goodness

When your Mum comes to visit bearing oranges from her neighbor & a bag of sugar? You make marmalade of course, I don’t have Seville oranges so this one also includes limes from our tree for some bite,  delicious. Mum can’t have grapefruit, so this marmalade is a wonderful alternative, how pretty does it look?

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I wish you could feel how soft this is…

We had a crafters lunch last weekend and lovely Lesley turned up with this gorgeous hottie cover for me, isn’t that colour magic! The wool is alpaca, I can confirm it is one of life’s joys to slip into cool cotton sheets in winter & have this beauty to warm your feet on (I cant abide electric blankets!), bliss!

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Um…??!

Apparently some crafters take it next level…!

Have a fabulous week

Kristina xxx

*Yes, we got a fancy new front door & put a big hole in it to install a cat door. My Mother was almost as appalled as my builder 🙂

*Yes, that really is how much we spent on screws. Yes, I needed a lie down.

 

Another Fielder in the garden

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Do I look like I’m getting better at standing around posing in the garden? No, I didn’t think so either. Oh well, at least the sun is out and I have something new to wear while I’m doing it.

I’ve made several Merchant & Mills Fielder dresses, I like the easy style and it’s a reasonably quick sew, even for me. I didn’t have enough of this brown spotty rayon from Spotlight to make the dress , I can’t remember what I brought this for (I do recall I was with my BFF and she commented “oh that’s very you…I don’t really like it to be honest”…) but it reminded me of animal print, of which I am QUITE the fan (yes, especially on shoes!)

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Hi neighbor…again

This is the top version, it was originally going to be another Fantail , but I remembered I had a whole bottom row of ribbing from the Great Bomber Jacket disaster of 2018, the cuffs & sleeves of which also went into a Fielder.  Unfortunately I had to unpick the remnants of its previous short-lived life first. If their were a World Cup of unpicking I would surely be on Team NZ! But worth the effort, it wasn’t cheap and such a waste not to be used.

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One of my Superpowers…unpicking!

The last few Fielders I made I’ve used the striped Merchant & Mills rib, it’s lovely, but quite a bit stiffer than the rib knit I had. I can see the neckline needed to be a few cm shorter using this rib, its slightly too loose. I wished I’d seen that before I overlocked it on of course!

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I was concerned after cutting out the top would end up being too short, & I think for next time I will add a couple of cm to the length. I’ve possibly put on a couple of kg since last time I used this pattern , the upper arm area feels slightly snugger than I’d like , and with a singlet underneath its a wee bit tight across my bust. I may try to eat slightly less than my body weight in mashed potato & pasta this winter…or I may cut a bigger size next time?

For reference, as per my first Fielder, I very inexpertly graded the pattern up myself, happily Merchant & Mills are currently working on a whole new block in a bigger size range, up to a size 28 or 30, no doubt much more accurately than I.  If you want to read further details see this post.

Im pretty excited by this news, I love the style of their patterns, not to everyone’s taste but I feel put together & grown up in their designs, not to fussy but nice detailing. Plus so many of them work perfectly with linen, my most favorite fabric ! I just need to live somewhere a tad warmer…

So, whats next?

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All the pretty things…

 

I’m consciously trying to use up fabrics & patterns from my stash, rather than being blinded by all the pretty things & purchasing yet more. Not only is this better for the environment, its better for the state of my marriage, not listening to the Minister of Finance wandering through the kitchen waving the Visa statement around exclaiming “HOW MUCH??!” is really quite nice. Not that I was actually listening anyway…

I’ve made a couple of Montrose tops already, this fabric was quite spendy so I want to make something I know I like, fits me & I will wear. The chestnut double gauze will have a cute frill around the bottom hem, the delicious white fabric will have some pretty pin-tucks on the front bodice, french seams & binding around the sleeve hem.

I’m hoping to get 30-60 mins sewing done each evening, I struggle with sewing dark colours at night (yes, I’ve booked an optometrist appointment) but lighter fabric is easier. Oh the joys of powering into middle age!

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This was AFTER picking 99 limes…yes, we counted

Other weekend fun? When the universe gives you an abundant lime tree , you make lime pickle!

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Jars of sour joy…

I’m looking forward to curry nights in a few months time when jars of these beauties will be ready to eat. A work colleague told me how to make them, she knows her stuff when it comes to food (her Tomato Kasundi recipe I’ve been using for years) , apparently she eats this on toast, crumpets, the works. I love it involves opening a packet of Achar Masala spice mix and adding to sterilized jars filled with limes, salt & sugar. We don’t use any chemicals on our fruit (or much attention to be honest, Tough Love Gardening according to Mr D) I cant wait to taste them!

Have a fabulous week

Kristina xxx

 

The cat that got the Fantail…

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So, what’s occurring? Me? Oh I’m great, I’ve discovered a fab chicken recipe, seen a great movie, and gone full crazy cat lady. In just a couple of weeks!

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Gardening, my style…

I came across this beauty at Drapers Fabrics . Look closely at the pattern. To be honest I didn’t click at first, I just liked the feel of the viscose, a bit more weighty than usual, plus the colours & pattern felt quite 30’s in style. Naturally once I realized, I HAD to buy it!

So what to make? I thought a top of some sort maybe…( yes my name is Kristina & I do buy fabric without the first clue what I’m going to us it for)  I wish I were more focused. I also wish I talked a bit less & had bigger lips. Sometimes we just need to live with our flaws yes?

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The pattern I eventually settled on was the Fantail Shirt by NZ company The Sewing Revival. I really liked the simple lines, with the cute gathered detail at the front. I also liked the low gathered back hem, right up until I actually tried it on. I had exactly the same issue with this make, I’m super conscious of fabric clinging to my butt , while the poplin had a bit of heft, the viscose REALLY clung, hmmmm.

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Perfect length for me

In the end I trimmed off the scooped hem & leveled it up, for me this just felt like something I’d be much more inclined to wear.

I made the 2XL of this pattern, some of the other patterns in the range go up to 4XL, but this one doesn’t, which is a shame as it’s a great shape & so easy to sew and wear. I have contacted the designer to see if the size range will be expanded but haven’t heard back yet.

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I found the instructions and photo really easy to follow. In fact I would definitely recommend this pattern for beginners, there is a lot of instruction, (for me  possibly overkill,)  but for a less experienced sewer it would be really helpful. The cuffed sleeve & front gather detail make this appear a more complicated sew than it actually is, for a beginner with great instructions that can’t be a bad thing.

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It’s hard to see the front gather in photos on such a busy fabric, but it is really effective. Stopping the top from becoming really large & loose around the hem, while still keeping it relaxed and comfortable.

So comfortable in fact, that when your husband suggests you pose like the front of a 70’s knitting pattern, you agree! What was it with the crotch shots?

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why do I listen to him….?

You might notice a few of these pics in front of a garden that looks like it been taken over with bamboo?

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I cant see us at Chelsea to be honest…

Tuppence has made it her mission in life to dig up all the soil in this new planter bed, will she be dissuaded by a bit of bamboo? Hmmm….at least in the meantime we have some herbs & salad hey?

Next project? I’m using this rib, cut off the great Bomber Jacket Disaster of 2018.

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Waste not, just waste not…

Another Fielder top,  in rayon, I couldn’t resist this combo. Despite my BFF telling me “I don’t really love that”. I’m all over anything that says animal print, how could I resist?

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Grrrrrr!

So the movie? I saw Little Woods with my pal Vanessa (yes, she of the critical fabric review). It’s a modern Western Crime film, typically miserable (we have extremely divergent taste in films & books), but I actually enjoyed this one. If there is anything to remind you how lucky we have it in NZ with nationalized health care, it’s seeing the consequences for those that don’t. Sobering, if entertaining viewing.

I’ll leave you with Tommy living his best life, precariously balanced on a chair, under the heat pump, looking out the window. Cats are clearly not crazy, never mind their owners (or staff, as it were )

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Have a great week!

UPDATED TO INCLUDE CHICKEN RECIPE! ( which I forgot but is most delicious!)

Chop 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite sized chunks, and marinate in ¼ cup of soya sauce, a ¼ tsp of sesame oil, a glove or two of garlic , grated & a thumb sized piece of ginger peeled & grated.  After approx. 30 mins (or as long as you like) stir in a couple of tbsp of cornflour & a good grind of black pepper. Fry over medium heat in canola or sunflower oil until crispy, golden & cooked through

While chicken is cooking, steam some rice & broccoli (or any other green you like). Serve cooked chicken over the rice with the broccoli, some finely sliced cabbage, & a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Top with a drizzle of Kwepie mayonnaise & a drizzle of sesame dressing (or hoisin or teriyaki sauce would also work). Some Japanese pickled ginger would be nice to.

Last time I made this I marinated twice as much chicken & cooked double the rice, then frozen half in the marinade & half the rice in a freezer bag, so its ready to defrost & cook for a quick dinner

Kristina x

 

A dress shirt to cheer…

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Hello friends, it’s been a sad few weeks here , but I have at least made a dress that makes me happy.

This is my second Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt, and unlike last time,  I made with hardly any unpicking, go me. Yes alright, I did have to insert one of the sleeves twice, but compared to last time (is it possible to get a blister from using your unpicker….sadly yes.) she came together like a dream. I’ve actually worked out what I did wrong, the key is to have the front of the dress , which is sandwiched between the yoke & yoke lining, about 1 cm in from the edge of the two yoke pieces. In fact all you need to do is ignore me & look at the picture, it shows exactly that! Why I didn’t do that first time around is anyone’s guess.

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Bloody cat digging the garden…

For this version I made the same Size 18 but lengthened by 2 “/4 cm, which I’m really happy with. I used the same sleeve piece (with a full bicep adjustment of 2.5 cm) but I made the longer length to turn up, which I love. There is something wonderfully chic about a turned up sleeve on a linen shirt, casual but not too casual.

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I LOVE top stiching

The top stitching detail is lovely, despite the fact my thread matching was so on point it’s almost impossible to see. It still creates a great crisp edge to seams which is such a nice finishing touch. But I am toying with another version, using contrasting top stitching (you can never have to many dress shirts, am I right? Indeed.)

The fabric is glorious Paprika linen from The Fabric Store, how lush ? It’s cold, it’s gray, and quite frankly its been a shitty week, but at least I don’t look cold, or grey. Which helps really.

The Merchant & Mills aesthetic isn’t for everyone, and I do sometimes wonder if the models realize how much fabulous expensive linen they are casually scowling at,  but I like the style lines, and I feel great wearing the patterns I have made so far.

So why so blue. A dear friend & member of my craft group passed away last week, a fabulous, sparky , fun filled woman of just 56 years old. Cancer sucks. I wish it were like the movies. People fighting valiantly, never looking TOO sick, often recovering, or at least muttering something profound before they slip gently off this mortal coil.

The reality, or mine anyway, is anything but. I lost my Father to cancer, I’ve been to the funerals of friend’s parents, friends of my own, just a few weeks ago a lovely work colleague. It’s a shitty, soul destroying, smelly, horrible disease. It strips dignity, privacy, and leave carnage in its wake. If you are suffering you have every molecule of sympathy & rage I can muster. You, she, we deserve so much better.

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Not perfect, but we got there…

But I’m trying to think of the fun positive things so I shall leave you with the tea cosy Susie helped me knit. Including memorably pointing out , when I proudly showed off the fruits of MANY hours labour ,  that I still needed to knit the other half. And I made it too short. Doh!

Our group was fostered at work, many lunch times were spent knitting, crocheting, talking (a lot in my case), 2013 will forever be known as the year of the Hot water bottle cover. Lesley is currently working on one for me which we think Susie would have approved of. I tried to knit one of my own but after four years I still only have one half (I seem to lose puff at that point…) And cold toes.

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We had “thimble teas” at each others houses, this is one of the first, in my garden in summer. As you can see, a lack of craft on show, but plenty of wine & yummy food, such good fun! We learnt we needed to craft first, then introduce the bubbly & canapes…

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Lunch in the garden, so much chat!

It’s awful to lose a friend, but I’m glad we had so much fun over the years. Vale Susie, you were a pearler!

Have a lovely week

Kristina xxx

 

I went with the dress, Cap Sleeve please…

 

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My photographer was telling me to get my foot out of the garden…

Now, this dress actually started life as a jumpsuit. Or the fabric did at least. The Zadie jumpsuit has been all over my Insta feed for a while now, and I’m intrigued, could I pull off a jumpsuit?* Despite the advice of my dear BFF “you need to think of bathroom issues”  (ok , actually quite relevant to me, I have a total Woolworth’s bladder) I was determined. Off to The Fabric Store , which conveniently I can get too on my lunch break (I know, lets stop to consider for a moment how dangerous THAT is!) with my pal to purchase Liberty jersey (her) & foxy linen (me).

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Yeah hi there…

There was a made-up Zadie hanging on the wall, in the most amazing berry linen and I was sorely tempted. Fabric stores,  if you are listening, this is a great idea. Being able to see & feel a made up sample is always going to help purchasing decisions. Even my pal, who I could tell was not completely sold on the jumpsuit bandwagon was impressed.

So how did I end up in a clearly not jumpsuit, dress??

That pesky linen. I saw this colour & was immediately drawn. Anyone on my social media for longer than ten seconds can tell I love (besides cats,  food & Chardonnay) orange, mustard, brown, tan, green, navy and any variations of those . The extra weight of the linen made it even more attractive.  It’s a Khaki/brown/slightly mustard mix, perfect with my brown boots. Unfortunately when I showed Mr PK my proud purchase, and my perfect pattern match the words “boiler suit?” did come into play. Then the word “plumber”. And something along the lines of “the gutters do need a wee clear out since your dressed for it”. Then a few other words probably best not to share here (mine) but how annoying is it when someone verbalizes what you may have fleetingly thought but just decided to ignore?

In hindsight I’m glad I went with a change of plan. I brought this The Assembly Line pattern a while ago from Miss Maude Sewing, love the neckline, love the sleeves, all the top stitching, yes!

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I’d not sewn anything from this pattern line before, but colour me impressed. The instructions are great, very thorough and clear. I brought the paper pattern, which comes with a full instruction booklet & the pattern printed on nice heavy paper. I trace my patterns so having them on decent weight paper makes life a lot easier.

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I cut the XL, my measurements are 112 cm/44 inches, 99/39 & 123/49. For me the dress has the right amount of ease, not too large through the bust, but reasonable volume & shape through the waist and hips. The size range is more inclusive than some, although not all their patterns go up to an XXL. I’ve actually emailed the company to ask if/when the other patterns will be included hey?

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Pocket joy!

Yes, its a tad monastic. But the real interest comes with the cool raised neckline, the side panels and the top stitching, I just love the detail, even if it is a bit hard to see in pics!

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Nosy at the neighbors…

I made no adjustments to the pattern, and to be honest I don’t think I would going forward either, shall we call this a very lucky muslin? I thought the neckline might be a bit much but actually I really like the width, it balances the volume of the dress.

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For me it works over jeans & a tee as a casual yet comfortable weekend outfit, but I really love that depending on fabric choice, you can also wear it to work, let’s be honest, that much top stitching effort deserves a wide audience, yes?

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Wondering anew how paving could be so damn expensive…

I’d like to think it’s Tommy approved.

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Like Pride Rock. Except it’s a compost bin & he’s not a Lion. 

So good I may be induced to wink at the neighbors even…

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Nope, no idea what I was doing either…

Be warned, these patterns are not cheap, but I love the design and the quality product. Will I make another? Definitely, I’d love a denim version, with cool contrasting top stitching. Or maybe another linen? Or maybe both…

Have a great week!

Kristina x

 

My new pal Ellis

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Hello from a rather damp & windy Auckland! We are in the midst of a large landscaping/decking/gardening extravaganza at the moment so OF COURSE it’s raining cats & canines. After literally months of dry weather. Sigh.

To remind myself of sunnier days , I’m sharing not just my lily white legs but a new skirt, huzzah! I seem to have all sorts of problems finding great skirt patterns, maybe I’m very particular (ok, no maybe about it), but for something relatively simple, I struggle.

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So when I saw the Ellis Skirt from Cashmerette I was definitely interested. Who doesn’t want a perfect denim skirt? I know I’ll never again achieve the sartorial perfection that was 11 year old me, rockin’ my blue denim skirt with a yellow Pickaberry tee shirt & Bata bullet sneakers but still , I can give it a crack right?

Somehow the denim skirt morphed into something a little more formal. I work full time in a law firm (I’m the accountant, they don’t let me loose on clients but I still need to look reasonably smart, no casual Fridays for me) so the reality is I’m in work wear for the majority of the week . Except when I get home & change. I remember reading one of those “french woman” articles, where basically you are reminded that no matter what you do you will never be as chic as a French woman, because for starters you’re not French (or thin, you don’t smoke or wear high heels or have a lover. Or two.) and one of the woman interviewed commented how much she enjoyed coming home & changing out of her formal work suit, into something casual. So not yoga pants a ratty tee & slippers then, oui? Non. The casual was a pair of wool pants, a cashmere sweater & loafers. I did at least chuck out a pair of legging with a hole & several rather dubious tees…

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Striking a pose, or did I drop an earring down there?

Anyway, after looking at my work wardrobe ,and trying to bring some semblance of sense to my sewing I thought the pattern would work perfectly with some stretch cotton sateen I’d picked up at Spotlight. The stretch would give the comfort & recovery of denim, while being work appropriate, win!

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I really love the colours in this fabric, and some leftover green linen from this wee dress worked perfectly for my pocket lining.

The cotton sateen is a dream to sew, stable & robust, but I felt like some of the traditional denim skirt top stitching details, particularly on back pockets would have been lost on such a busy pattern. In fact I ditched the back pockets all together , what the heck am I ever putting in those?

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Yeah, booty call …

But I did top stitch around the pockets , back yoke & down the front , it does give a nice crisp finish.

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How cool is this fabric???

I cut a straight Size 20, its a wee bit loose around the waist because the fabric is a little more forgiving than denim , but this was fine, and given we’ve had morning tea four mornings out of five this week at work possibly a very good idea? I made View B, lengthened to view A Length, without belt loops or back pockets.

The skirt works well with a tee & cardi, to make it cooler weather appropriate I’ve also teamed it with a sweater & boots, I think it works!

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I spend a lot of time looking for lost earrings apparently?

Like other Cashmerette patterns, the PDF came together well, instructions are clear, and I want to make another. I have an amazing stretch corduroy cut out (I know, naughty starting another project after cutting out, I’m a rebel, what can I say?) and some cool black denim that says make me. I wish work didn’t cut into my sewing day so much?!

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Sheila Ryan x

It’s Mothers Day here in NZ, I’m very lucky to still have my Mum around, she’s 83, took her first plane ride at 80, has recently learnt to play Mah Jong & theirs no stopping her. Mum has sewn all her life , we had plenty of home made clothing growing up , it’s only now I sew myself I realize how much effort she put into our wardrobe. She’s still amazed I have finally taken to sewing , only about 30 years after she hoped? We gave Mum tickets to the Mousetrap (I got my LOVE of books, reading & Agatha Christie from my mother & I will thank her till the day I die for that) and a lovely infinity scarf I made in Liberty jersey. In true Ryan style we forgot to take a picture.

I’ll leave you with Tuppence, I suspect she wants to be painted like those French girls (what is the French thing this week?)

Tuppence

And Tommy mid photo bomb!

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Have a fab week people 🙂

Kristina xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

A Trapeze in the garden

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Now, I wont lie, I’ve had mixed reviews on this dress. I love it , but my husband wasn’t quite so impressed.

“Wow, I can’t even remember where that curtain was hanging before you took it down to make a frock!?” Boom boom. It’s amazing how quickly he forgets I’ll get mates rates on the divorce lawyer…

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This is the Trapeze Dress by Merchant & Mills. It’s one of the first patterns I brought when I got into sewing properly. I loved the simple lines, and yes, the stylish industrial packaging (come on, I think we’ve all been sucked in by nice wrapping some time?) I’ve since made a couple of other great Merchant & Mills patterns, I actually find the drafting really works for me, although I do wish the size range was more inclusive.

I originally made the dress in a dark green wool, which gave the garment a vaguely “monastic” look. This turned out to be entirely appropriate, I realized after about an hours wear I really needed to line SUCH a scratchy fabric, it felt like wearing a hair shirt. If you’ve seen the Da Vinci Code movie (don’t be judgy, I was on a plane)  , the bloke that self flagellates with a price of rope ? He could have saved energy & just worn my dress all day.

At that point I had no idea how to line a dress, so it ended up languishing in my wardrobe. Given the horrific state of my first attempt at a full bicep adjustment (hint, just adding 2 cm around the whole sleeve doesn’t work, the sleeve becomes impossible to ease in without mighty puckers all around!) it’s probably not a bad thing. I don’t know why its taken me so long to revisit the pattern but I’m really glad I have.

 

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Do you like the toe point (I always wanted to do ballet…)?

The fabric is a glorious soft drapy corduroy (yes, corduroy!) from Miss Maude , as soon as I saw the colours I knew I had to have it. But I thought such a busy print needed a really simple shape to highlight the wonderful colours. Its a very light cord, the drape highlights the Trapeze shape without looking too stiff.

I adore corduroy, I love the look & feel of wearing it, and the colours! I had quite a long stretch in hospital as a child, and I remember Mum & Dad bringing my younger sister in to visit, wearing a corduroy jacket & skirt Mum had made her, it was a deep red colour , I was SO jealous! Dad called it “the burgundy” , among his many eccentricities he liked to name clothes, the purple linen shirt I sent from the UK for Fathers Day was forever after his “London” shirt”. He was also a deeply kind, thoughtful, very funny man, most of us are lucky enough to love our parents, some of us are VERY lucky, and like them very much too. We miss him.

In his honour I shall call this my “Front room drapes” dress.

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Such beautiful lush colours & texture 

 

So, modifications. First, I added pockets. I don’t tend to actually carry anything in my pockets ( I once left a hair clip in my jeans which went straight into the wash & completely buggered our washing machine…boy did I hear about that from Mr D) but I like to have them just in case I want to. Or I need to warm up my hands. Or I just want to stand around nonchalantly and really , in the absence of a ciggy (I don’t smoke) pockets are really essential. I used the pocket piece from my Feilder , which worked perfectly.

I also did my usual Full Bicep Adjustment , using the very handy tutorial from the Curvy Sewing Collective , this time I did manage to get the sleeves inserted without huge gathers. I did however, have a couple of small tiny gathers, Mum came for Good Friday lunch yesterday & complimented me on my “lovely dress”. She then went on “but you need a to learn better sleeve insertion, you didn’t ease those in very well”. No really Mum, don’t sugar coat it hey? I have put those bloody sleeves in about three times, if there are puckers now its purely a design choice. Tough crowd!

 

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Bloody noisy planes…

So, styling choices? I thought boots would tone down the overly floral “pretty” look, and make it a little more edgy. I love the neckline on this dress, its quite high but nicely proportioned. However I work in a very chilly office so a scarf is a must. With so much going on, I wanted something plain, so the amazing merino at The Fabric Store was perfect.

I used Ochre merino, and the Infinity scarf tutorial from Miss Maude to make a simple scarf that is warm, practical, and looks great with my dress. I brought 1.5 m of fabric, so I’ve also got enough fabric left to make another scarf, they make great gifts.

 

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My cat being a twit off camera!

Four days off here for Easter, we had the traditional lovely family lunch for Good Friday, today has been sewing & mooching around, catching up with a friend tomorrow and more sewing, the weather is supposed to turn (it’s been glorious here so far) so I shall feel very cosy in my sewing room, I have a Wattle skirt that needs finishing.

In the meantime me posing/looking startled while my sister ineptly tries to take photos. We retired to the lounge for a Chardonnay shorty after…

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Amazingly, this was BEFORE the Chardonnay…

Have a great weekend, and if you celebrate,  have a lovely peace filled Easter

Kristina x

Getting my match on with Tania

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So, I made a pair of pants. And a skirt. At the same time. While perfectly matching my cardi to my shoes. IS THERE NO END TO THIS WOMAN’S SUPERPOWERS???!!!*

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Ok, it isn’t strictly a skirt, but my latest make, the Tania culottes from Megan Neilson Patterns have all the lovely swish of a skirt, with the security of knowing should I need to break out some interpretative dance moves (or ok, more likely,  walk through a stiff breeze) I’m sparing the universe the sight of my knickers. In the words of lovely work colleague from my London days, “it’s always good to keep yourself nice” .*

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The fabric is a rayon from Spotlight , I wanted something really soft and drapey, but I didn’t want to use anything too expensive, I haven’t used Megan Neilson patterns before and I do have a history of messing up pants. This pattern uses a LOT of fabric! I made View C in size 22, so I used up all of the 4 meters /4.25 yards of fabric I had. Thankfully it was on sale.

Now, these puppies are not perfect. I used the wrong iron on interfacing for my waistband. By the time I came to finishing up it had almost completely come away from my fabric. I find knit interfacing seems to be much more stable when using rayon, but I’d run out so used the standard version. Lesson learned.

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I only pull this pose out for special occasions,  honest..

Because the waistband isn’t as stiff as it should be, and is possibly a tad too big it does tend to slip down. It isn’t a major , but next time I will be probably go down a size so the waistband sits up on my natural waist (which is high!).

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That face …”Pockets so deep Im actually concerned I’ve lost a hand…”

 

Now, shall we talk pockets? These beauties are deep! Full hand coverage, nice shape & sitting at just the right height (unlike my last make, which involved moving the pockets 10 cm/ 5 inches???)

The instructions are good, but I would also HIGHLY recommend the sew along on the Megan Neilson website, I’m quite a visual learner so I love me a good sew along. Lets be honest, Indie patterns are expensive (although here in NZ even Big 4 patterns are usually $15-18 so not cheap) . But the accountant in me also factors in things like this. I’m a confident sewer, and yes, I could trawl You Tube for the right tutorial for any given situation. Or ask my Mum! But when I can open the tablet, and find exactly the tips & tricks I need for what I’m making right now? Added value.

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Easy peezy…

I did my first invisible zipper on these culottes and it was a breeze!

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Actually on the subject I should say this garment is both Mum & Mum in Law certified. Mum was well impressed , she actually brought the same fabric , and one my best friend also purchased on a recent Spotlight outing. I mentioned this to Vanessa & commented we really are turning into our Mums. She did point out they dress really well, which is good since we got their bingo wing arms…they owe us good dress sense at least. That’s my Mum in an outfit she made which I love, so chic! And my goodness how tiny is that waist (pre five daughters…)

Mum

I didn’t make any alterations to this pattern, and to be honest other than sizing down I don’t think I will, which is praise indeed! I made the PDF version, which came together nicely, and in the interests of open kimono I got this pattern gratis in exchange for a review on the Curvy Sewing Collective website , I’d like to think you know me well enough to know I’ll tell it how it is regardless, but if in doubt, I’m wearing this outfit to work tomorrow feeling very pleased with myself, I cant say higher than that!

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I’m calling this one “crazy cat woman in the wind” 

 

Because Tommy is such a photo hog I’m sharing Tuppence, doing what she does best…

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Tuppence living her best life 

He isn’t happy..

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Tommy plotting Dad’s downfall…

I cant leave this post without addressing whats been happening in my country over the last few weeks. This is a fun, generally happy mostly sewing and cats space, but in reality I’ve been neither happy nor inclined to sew. A man with gun walked into a Mosque, a place of worship,  & gunned down innocent people at prayer. He killed 50, injured many more, shattered families & irrevocably changed how we feel about our country.

I’ve many thoughts & feels on this, but to be honest as a white woman of relative privilege I don’t think my reckons are the one that need to be heard or listened to right now. Instead, the voices of those actually dealing with this , both the immediate atrocity, and the underlying issues. The hash tag #thisisntus kinda irked me, I wont lie. It is us. I grew up in South Auckland, my best friend is Maori, there IS racism, everyday, to say it isn’t us is nonsense, and until we address it, it will continue to be us. If I can say nothing else this week it would be to call it out. Call out all those crappy comments, the snide remarks, the outright bullshit & maybe, we can make a change. Don’t enable crap. Call it out. And back up your friends/whanau/colleagues/strangers calling it out.

Have a better week lovely people

Kristina x

 

* I can also thread an overlocker, and whip up a roast dinner with my eyes closed. I can’t tell left from right however, so if your superhero needs to travel, don’t call me….

* Said colleague went to Canada on a rodeo holiday & ended up having a torrid affair with a cowboy. Don’t keep yourself TOO nice kids! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

We got there in the end Tacara…

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Just hangin’ on my deck…

Now why , you may ask, am I standing on my deck on a very warm sunny evening in wool, boots AND a scarf. Other than “because I can” and “I’m still in love with my new fence” obviously.

The Seamwork Tacara first came to my attention when it was discussed in the Curvy Sewing Collective as a good candidate for the Same Pattern Different Body  post. I love these posts, it’s so helpful to see how a pattern works on a variety of shapes, what adjustments are made and also how each person styles their look.

I promptly went online , but while I loved the cocoon shape, and the myriad of ways it could be worn, there wasn’t actually a lot of pics of curvier sewers wearing a Tacara. Naturally I needed about two nano seconds to realize I wanted one of my own. Even better there is a SPDB post coming up at the CSC so if you are a curvy sewer be ready for plenty of inspiration!

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What hem, I have no idea what you’re talking about…

 

So, how did it work out? Well, lets just say this garment is now known as the Dress of a Hundred Alterations. At least I had the sense to make a muslin for once!

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Hmmm, not perfect 

I made my first Tacara in a light rayon knit from Spotlight (good spotting, I have used it before ) While I ended up with a perfectly wearable dress, I felt like a bit of adjustment would make it much better.

The general consensus looking online is it comes up quite large, so I cut a size 16, adding 2 cm/1 inch to each sleeve as I was worried about cutting off circulation to my fingers! For reference my measurements are 44″/112 cm, 38″/99 cm & 48″/124 cm

Now, the pockets. Oh those pockets. I can only surmise this pattern was developed for someone with arms like my husband, loooong. Only he’s 6 ‘ 3″ and I’m not. They are crazy low. I literally had to stretch to get my mitts into them?

It all just felt (and looked) too big.

So, iteration two, this time in a gorgeous merino wool from The Fabric Store. I wont lie, I feel very spoilt having so many amazing fabric stores within easy reach, and to be able to treat myself occasionally.

Merino is a wonderful fabric, it breaths, drapes, keeps you warm & comes in the most glorious colours. It’s also quite spendy, so I didn’t want to mess this one up!

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But it IS cocoon shaped, seriously!

Alterations, I’ve made a few (in my head I’m hearing Frank singing My Way!) . First up, I sized down , cutting out a 14 ( I’m an accountant, I’m used to manipulating figures, but me a 14, really???) . I reduced the bicep adjustment to 1 cm/1/2 “, and raised the pockets by a whopping 10 cm/4.5 “. Then I got a bit trigger happy and shaved another 4 cm off the length. Which I then realized was a tad to much to achieve a nice chunky hem. I didn’t want to sacrifice too much length so we have a lovely knee grazing dress with an ABOMINATION of a hem. More waves than a day at the beach, I apologize profusely.

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Yep, no blue fingers here folks, complete ease of arm movement…

The sleeve actually needs to be reasonably snug, to balance the volume of the dress, but as someone who has suffered from the dreaded sausage arm syndrome, its a fine line, very dependent on your fabric. Make the muslin kids. Honestly.

Now, back to those bloody pockets (yes, I’d got a bit sweary by this stage). I was quite tempted to ditch them altogether. I’ve realized with the benefit of hindsight & a few wines the method described is probably perfect for use with a sewing machine, but for an overlocker (serger)? Not so much. After making an absolute Horlicks of my pockets, and unpicking them in a state of deeply bad karma, I found an online tutorial that made far more sense. Please save yourself the wine & do it this way.

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Just shut up about the hem & keep taking the photo’s thanks …

 

I feel like this dress is a fabric version of Granddad’s hammer, new head, new handle, but it’s still his hammer right? I’ve altered so much of the pattern , but really to make it look like the picture & line drawings on the pattern which is what I liked so much in the first place!

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While not without it’s tribulations, I’m actually really happy with the finished dress, its perfect for me at work, with boots & a cool scarf/necklace. It also works at the weekend over jeans , and I’ve realized with leggings, a big pashmina  and slip on shoes this is THE travel outfit (when you live in NZ you travel LONG haul, it  takes on a whole new meaning when you’re wearing something  for over 24 hours to get to Europe)

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This fabric 🙂

Next up, a gorgeous Infinity scarf in this amazing Liberty  jersey , I adore the colours and I love a scarf that doesn’t need lots of fiddling. I know it’s none of my beeswax but why do so many people wear black in winter when we have all these glorious colours & prints to wear??

Now, has anyone seen Tommy?

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Hmm, did I shut the cat door down…?

 

Have a great week!

Kristina X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the wild…my way

 

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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.

 

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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.

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

Step up…

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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!

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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!)

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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!

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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!

 

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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.

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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!

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

To complete the look?

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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!