Concord my way (no highway involved)…

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SO, the question. Why would you bother making a tee shirt? Surely if there is one item of clothing that can be found anywhere, in most sizes, its the humble tee?

Well, yes & no. You can find inexpensive tee shirts all over the place, but lets be honest, a $5 tee might seem cheap, but its costing somewhere. Be it child labour in back street sweat shops, cotton made in factories spewing crap into the environment, you get the picture.

Conversely, on of my sisters recently paid $140 for a tee shirt. Yes it was lovely ethically produced cotton, and yes, it looked fab, but my inner sewer couldn’t help but think wow, that’s a VERY simple shape!

Also tee shirts are very personal things. For me, the perfect version is “long enough”, which can vary, but never so short I feel like I need to pull it down to avoid muffin top flash (and God forbid never cropped, that ship sailed the same time my 501’s left town.) Sleeves should be elbow length, and snug but not so tight my arms look like strangled sausages. Because I have a larger bust, the necklines I prefer are a scoop, V or a nice boat neck. A high neck tee on me can look “mammaryish” for want of a better phrase!

 

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Love these colours

Enter the Cashmerette Concord, a pattern I have had for ages, but never quite got around to making (I have to be in the mood for knits). It has a variety of options, from neckline, sleeve & length, which means I can have exactly the tee I want, every time.

This is actually the first make I have lined up for my Make Nine challenge for 2019 , check out mine & other fab sewists over on the Curvy Sewing Collective .

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Yes, the lawn does need work, I don’t need reminding…

I chose View C, which is the longest tunic length, with a curved hem, elbow sleeves, and cute sleeve tabs. As I imagine all those Chefs on Food Network would put it, its “a tee, but with the volume turned up”!*

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I’m actually admiring my new clothes line. I haven’t had one for FIVE years!

The fabric is a reasonably thick stretch cotton, next time I would probably go with something slightly lighter, I feel like it clings a little more than I like. I THINK it’s from Spotlight, but to be honest its been in my stash for yonks, so I’m not 100% sure. But I love the cute print, which is why I brought it !

This is a nice easy sew, even with the curved hem & the sleeve tabs. As usual with Cashmerette patterns the instructions & size range are excellent. I cut a 18 C/D bust, grading to a 20 waist and hip, mainly due to the “cling” factor of my fabric . My last Cashmerette  make, the Pembroke was a 16 C/D in a much more stretchy fabric.

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No strangled sausage happening here thank you very much…

The only alteration I made was to add approx. 5 cm (2 ‘ ) to the sleeve, using this method. Jenny now adds full bicep sleeves to some of her patterns but this one is a few years old. I have 16 ‘ biceps so it’s one I do often!

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My twin stitching needs work, but I feel my neckline binding game is strong?

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I actually really like the length, but I think it would work better in a lighter, slightly less clinging fabric, I’m ok with my lumps & bumps (or should I say curves & gradients, sounds better?!), but I don’t like to feel like an over stuffed sofa hey?

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I already have my next Concord lined up, this time a striped version, with gold sparkles from Spotlight, who doesn’t need a bit of gold sparkle in their life, seriously?

It’s been an interesting week in the sewing community. A conversation blew up on Instagram (as things are wont to do on Social Media), about inclusive in patterns & pattern companies, the difficulties involved with plus size” patterns & it would seem, in plus size bodies…?

I made a short comment about my thoughts on Instagram here (ok, it was short because Instagram has a word limit on their posts.). I have a lot more thoughts on this one, but I’ve learnt from past experience sometimes its good to step back, let it all percolate & write from the informed perspective…as opposed the ragey Oh FFS give me a break one. I also cleaned & oiled my sewing machine & overlocker yesterday, so I clearly have some peak level adulting thing going on…

In the meantime, please check out Megan’s awesome post which has lots of food for thought and a great list of inclusive pattern companies**. Lets make our $$$ talk.

Now, I’ll leave you with this pic of my husband, we went shopping recently for outdoor furniture for our new deck. He LOVES watching movies, and decided this would be the perfect indoor lounging chair for his new 55″ TV. . I thought it was a bit big.

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Please bear in mind he is 6″ 3″…

We didn’t buy the chair.

Have a lovely week! Its Auckland Anniversary day here so I’ve had a whole day off, and a four day week to follow, huzzah!

 

Kristina xxx

 

* My personal fav is Ina Garten. I want her house. And her Barn. And her life, basically.

**I intend to put this list on my blog permanently, I just need to consult a willing tech savvy young person to help me & ensure I don’t actually lose my mind doing so.

 

 

Well, Pembroke almost made Christmas…

 

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Still staggered how much screws costs (says new deck owner)

Hello, Miri Kirihimete and almost Happy New Year to you. I’d like to pretend this is me swanning about on my new deck on Christmas Day.

Alas, firstly Christmas Day 2018 was WET here in Auckland. Despite the fancy new pergola our amazing builders worked like demons to get up in time for the 25th, the horizontal precipitation defeated us. Watching my husband & brother in law play Jenga with three sun umbrellas trying to provide additional shelter was pretty entertaining however…

 

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Go West! Or North, in this case…

Secondly I hadn’t actually finished my Christmas Day dress. Or indeed started it (although I did pre-washed my fabric, does that count?) As per usual, my ambition far exceeded my time, skills & motivation.

But come these delicious quiet days between Christmas & New Year, where you have to consult a calendar to figure out what day it is, I figured I could get busy. Half of Auckland has left town, the fridge is full of leftovers & I can can sew my heart out.

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Just hangin’ on my deck, as you do. Actually we have no deck furniture so standing is obligatory.

After the success of my Pembroke trial run,  I knew a dress version in the rayon knit I picked up from Spotlight was perfect. Festive, without actually being covered in elf’s & holly (not that I would object to that AT ALL), stretchy (always a bonus when contemplating that 5th mince pie), and quick to sew. Ok, not quick enough for me to get it done in time for Christmas day, but still pretty darn speedy eh?

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Tommy being ultra cute off camera

I love this pattern. The scoop neckline is perfect for me (the pattern also comes with a higher jewel neckline that would be great for cooler weather), and the method of binding is wonderfully non tear inducing.  I personally really like the waist ties, being short waisted they pull me in at my slimmest part, so I don’t feel frumpy, but I’ve seen some really cute versions without.

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Ties call for fiddling…

 

Please excuse the slightly wobbly hemming, lordy I hate hemming knits. I hate hemming in general but knits, with a side split? Ekk! So worth it though, with such a simple shape it’s the details that make the difference, even if I do need a glass of Chardonnay each time I use my twin needles.

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Well, that would be a booty call I believe…?

Once again I took approx. 5 cm off the sleeves before adding the cuffs, I prefer the length just below my elbows.

All in all, the prefect summer Xmas/Festive frock.

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I look like I’m “up to mischief” according to my husband?!

So, my last make for 2018. Its been a busy year, both in the sewing room & out. While I’m pretty happy with progress, there is a lot to learn in 2019. Without turning into a whole “lets lose weight, learn a language & discover yoga” type of conversation, a couple of thoughts:

Learn to use the myriad of special feet I brought when I brought my Janome. No, the button hole foot does not count.

Properly measure and label my fabric stash. All of it, not just the top six pieces…before wandering off to watch Food Network.

Use at least two of the patterns in my stash before buying another one. At least. Or at least one. Or none but only on VERY special occasions. Ditto fabric .

Remember, if I like it, make it. Bugger “flattering”.

Finish the bloody novel!

Other thoughts ?

Favorite make of 2018:  I’ve made lots of things I’m really happy with this year, but I do really love these frocks!

Best TV Show of 2018 (nothing to do with sewing but hey ho , it’s my blog kids): The Casketeers, a NZ show now on Netflix. It’s a reality documentary following a funeral home in South Auckland. I realize probably none of that sounds completely endearing, but trust me, this is TV gold. I have literally cried buckets & laughed my arse off in the space of five minutes. Note the show is in English, with few subtitles.

Fav pic of the year not including me standing like a dork: This is two of my sisters when we were on holiday in Australia at Easter. This is everything really 🙂

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Cheers!

 

Best book of 2018: Jane Harper’s The Dry kept me absolutely turn the pages  (or flicking the Kindle, as it were). SUCH a great book (as are her two others).

Best cat pic of the year: Yep, this really is my blog kids! Check out Tommy, roaring his way into 2019!

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Now, let’s you & I do the same!

Kristina x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pembroke into Christmas…

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Hello! Why yes it is me standing in front of my Christmas tree posing like a dork again. It’s pouring with rain here today. Big, fat rain, warm & very very wet. Mother Nature put my Xmas lights to shame on Friday, lightening & thunder for ages, sun yesterday, precipitation today. Welcome to an Auckland summer yes?

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I absolutely should be out Christmas shopping, but just the thought of trying to park makes me want to lie down in a darkened room, let alone the actual shops. I did manage to get myself to Spotlight last week, I’m pretty sure it was to buy something on my list? Who knows. What I DID buy was some rather delicious rayon knit. 40% off no less! Plus I had a spend $100 get $40 off voucher. Honestly, its surely some kind of crime not to use those kind of discounts. If not , it certainly should be.

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For once I did actually have a pattern in mind when I brought my fabric. I tested the Pembroke pattern from Cashmerette , to be honest I didn’t make a great fabric choice, and the pattern needing tweaking, my resulting garment was not as fabulous as it could have been.

It was yonks ago ( which is encouraging to be honest, if I’m going to the expense & time of testing a pattern, its nice to know the feedback is actually being used and if necessary, acted on) Jenny sends a complimentary final pattern to her testers when it’s released (yay !) , mine was a lovely surprise and arrived coming into Summer. I’ve been seeing lots of fab Northern Hemisphere versions in really snugly cosy knits , but I knew I needed something much lighter & with way more stretch (it’s Xmas, I’m eating mince pies for breakfast hey!?)

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I cant even remember how many lists I have on the go right now…

I’ve not had huge success sewing knits, I think I peaked with my Turner dress, but for some reason I tend to stick to wovens. Nothing like a bargain to change my mind!

Now there was also method to my madness. I picked up another gorgeous knit, in what I thought was rather festive colours. Now who doesn’t want a new Christmas Day dress? We have the whaneu to ours on Xmas day, so I want something cute but also practical, I have turkey, beef, ham & a cocktail to wrangle after all…

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Yes, I do pre-wash my fabric!

Being a wonderful combination of lazy but also stubborn (yes, I am a Taurus actually) , I was determined to have a fab Xmas day frock, without spending too much time making it. The Pembroke was an experiment, it was actually meant to be a dress , but I didn’t have quite enough fabric.

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Yep, my cats do have their own stockings “kay…

A tunic is fun, and also adaptable. With leggings & sneakers , perfect for the supermarket run. With jeans & sandals great for the pub/shopping/lunch.

I cut a 16 Bust, grading to a 20 waist & hips, with no alteration to the bicep (yess!). I made the scoop neck, with mid length cuffed sleeves. The neckline is probably more scooped than it should be as I had a major brain fart attaching the neckline binding & did it around the wrong way. Rather than unpick (??!), I cut the offending binding off & attached a new one. Boom!

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Cuff love…

I chopped about 2 cm off the sleeve before adding the cuff, I think its a good length.

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Binding love…

The ties are optional. but I like the shape they give in a lighter knit.

So, Xmas sewing for me, anyone else?

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For my brother in law, a tee shirt in cool pale blue linen. I’ve had to buy the navy shorts to go with, expectations meet reality , that Christmas Feeling!

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Laundered linen with rib

For my sister, after seeing my linen Fielder she decided  she wanted one to, I brought the fabric for her birthday, now I have a deadline, Xmas Day dress!

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My photographer telling me “do something with your mouth & eyes”…

Whatever you celebrate , I hope you are having a great run into the season. If this time of year is harder I hope you are doing ok too. My Dad was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in October of 2010. He LOVED Christmas, and while we didn’t have huge means financially (five kids will do that to you Dad!) we have always celebrated royally. He got very sick very fast & passed away in January 2011. Xmas is a always tinged with that “gap”, but as I was once told, “missing someone special means lucky you, you had someone special to miss”. Sure did .

Now, whats it to be?  Turner or Pembroke for Xmas Day???

Kristina x

 

 

 

Montrose and the builders…

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Hello again! I’ve returned from a lovely relaxing holiday in Fiji

Apparently. It was three weeks ago but feels like an age. Impending Christmas will do that to you hey?

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Was I really here…?

To counteract the holiday “arrgh” a new top maybe? I’ve worn and worn my previous Montrose top, so why not another version. I missed my sewing room when I was away (yes, ten whole days), so a relatively simple sew to get me back into the swing of things was perfect. Also I need to start using some of my “*how much fabric do you need???!!” (*husband) stash. Indeed.

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Hangin on my new deck…

I brought this delicious Atelier Brunette double gauze from Miss Maude a month or two back. Its pricey, but I’m an absolute sucker for anything in this mustard/orange/rust/brown colour palette. If it goes with animal print you can count me in. Add the sparkle of the embroidered circle (dots?) , combined with the softness of a double gauze and I’m sold. But if you’re a lazy toile type (like me) then special fabric is best used with a pattern you trust.

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Staring at the wall…as you do.

I love the curved back yoke detail on the Montrose, it adds interest, and creates a nice shape. But of course the big bonus is sleeves. That fit. Sing along with me now Hallelujah!

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Sleeve tuck…and check out that tan.:)

I went off piste with the sleeves and bound the hem, to mirror the neckline binding , rather than simply folding up.  I also added three small tucks to bring the sleeve in at the elbow. I have generous biceps, but I think a looser top (and my forearms!)  look better with a tapered sleeve.

Result? A super cute super comfy top that works perfectly for the office, or with jeans on the weekend. In fact these pics are after a day at work, so if I look a tad crumpled that’s why.

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Before shot!

If you look closely you can see I’m standing somewhat in a building site. Am I ever! We are currently adding a large deck , boardwalk, pergola & the great wall of China between us & the neighbors. Actually our neighbors are FABULOUS & have put up with noise, dirt & a digger in their back garden like champs. Fences are so invasive! Not assisted by the fact Ellerslie is basically one big volcano. The digger that was suppose to stay one day stayed three. I can tell you that’s eaten into my fabric buying budget!

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First world problems.

Experience tells me its always gets worse before it gets better. Coming home to see nothing but destruction wasn’t exactly thrilling, but I trust Ben & I know when I said we were having Christmas at our place this year he was fully confident he could deliver. Or he was terrified but figured he could make it work. Either way I’m good with that!

So in the spirit of Christmas, a slightly terrifying festive shot . Your welcome.

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Miri Kirihimete !

Up next, a festive Turner dress, a fab red , white & blue rayon knit. Because every girl needs a new frock for Xmas day.

 

Kristina x

 

 

Twin Fielders for my hols…kinda

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More birds. I just cant seem to help myself can I? After my Lenox I thought I’d cured my avian obsession, but hey ho, here we are again. So lets step back a minute, and I’ll explain…

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Bliss 🙂

It was the rib that got me. Merchant & Mills released the most fabulous striped rib, perfect for a Fielder  dress , in such cool colour combos. I do love me some colour. Miss Maude  had all the variations, I couldn’t decide between the brown & the blue to match the Pine linen I’d already realized I absolutely had to have (I’m blaming the Irish in me…also responsible for the fact I sunburn in two minutes & I’m in capable of telling a story in less than ten: )

When my lovely parcel arrived I knew immediately the brown & green were a delicious match, but the blue would actually work perfectly with the birds rayon I picked up on sale at Spotlight. If I love colour, I LOVE a sale!

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Well I think it works anyway!

 

It’s a pretty bold print, and I was worried it could look a bit OTT if I wasn’t careful (not that I mind OTT, but it has to make me feel comfortable or it just doesn’t work) . The simple shape of the Fielder, combined with the casual sporty note the rib brings was too good to resist. I think it works perfectly…and lets be honest, its the closest I’m getting to ‘active wear” hey?

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I love this ribbing. You may call me Sportyish Spice. Or Pale Freckled Spice, as is your wont.

The soft rayon is so comfortable to wear, now I hesitate to even SUGGEST a secret PJ thing, but it’s certainly easy frock to throw on and go. The rib comes as a long strip, I found it too wide & stiff for the neckline as is, so I trimmed about a cm off the side before attaching to the neck, it sits beautifully flat. I left the width on the cuff, which hugs the arm nicely.

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I’m so happy my toes nails are done. Sad, but honestly I am.

I think next time I’d take the bust darts back an inch or so (and be a bit more attentive with the iron maybe?!) I didn’t include the pockets for the green version, I thought it would add a bit of width I didn’t really need, the rayon is so drapey the pockets effectively disappear.

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Not quite perfect rib seam matching…must grow my hair a bit!

The linen gives more structure than the rayon, a slightly more casual dress, prefect for the weekend . I’d like to imagine sitting somewhere fab in the sun, drinking wine with my pals & being terribly funny …more likely zipping around New World then home to drink wine & watch Midsomer Murders with the cats…either way it works.

 

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Flat neckline, get me eh?!

 

Mr D & I are off to Fiji for ten days on hols tomorrow, I have both Fielders in my suitcase (along with 400 pairs of shoes & three swim suits I’d rather not wear…) and I’m looking forward to wearing both. Depending on accessories & shoe choice they are actually also suitable for my office wardrobe, versatile much?

I hope you’ve had a great week, I’ve been like a like a headless chook. How is it when I go on holiday the preparation has to start so far in advance? Hairdresser, nails, shrub maintenance (wax, ugg!) , packing an outfit for every possible eventuality (with matching footwear), not to mention snacks, sunscreen, wine…my husband throws bathers, ten boxer shorts  & tees shirts into a suitcase & calls it a day…?

Anyway, Bula!

Kristina x

 

 

 

Linen for the winnin’ Eva

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I must say I’m hanging out for my holiday in a few weeks. This time of year always feels quite long to me. Winter is supposedly over, daylight saving has kicked in. I’m slightly panicked about the thought of summer clothes (tights hide a multitude of “no I haven’t shaved my legs since May” shame…) but still a few weeks away from my annual “holy crap its nearly Xmas” melt down . Auckland weather is changeable at best, so dressing becomes a “let’s just take one of everything & we’ll be ok” affair. The back seat of my car currently has two coats, a spare umbrella , two cardies & a pair of sunglasses.  Sometimes a girl just wants reliable, (in so many things…) I’d like a nice constant mid to high 20 degrees, no rain & maybe a cocktail. Or two. Roll on Fiji!

So I’m planning my holiday wardrobe accordingly. When this dress, the Eva from Tessuti patterns popped up on my radar, I knew it was a contender. It’s not actually a new pattern, but Tessuti have extended their pattern sizes so no pesky grading necessary.

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The shape is simple yet distinctive. ( a friend & work colleague of mine has a similar dress she calls her First Day of a Trial dress, it makes her feel so good).  Fitted around the bodice but not too fitted.  Wonderful “swish” potential in the skirt, without the actual risk of taking flight in a stiff breeze.  Top stitching details to make it just that bit more special. All good things (thanks Martha)

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Full arm movement possible!

I made version A, I actually extended the sleeves by about 3 cm, and did a full bicep adjustment, adding an additional 2 cm to the sleeve for my upper arms. No one likes a tight sleeve!

The neckline, sleeve & hem are finished with bias binding. I was really pleased with the finish on my neckline, the binding is sitting nice & flat (for once, whoop!). Sadly things went rather astray with my sleeve binding, so much so I didn’t have enough fabric left to make more, so I ended up doing a hem instead. I think the bias binding would have given a nicer finish, I’ll know for next time! I’m not entirely happy with my sleeve insertion, I thought I could iron out a couple of tiny tucks…I know, really Kristina?! There is also a wee bit of fabric pooling above my bust, next time I will do a small FBA, Tessuti patterns are graded for a C cup, I’m a DD.

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No rear cling, we like that…

The bodice is constructed first, then the center panel, which is attached to it. Lastly the bottom panel is made & hemmed, then attached to the rest of the dress. I loath hemming, so this method pleased me, I knew once I finished sewing the bottom panel seam, I only had finishing & top stitching to go. Purely psychological I know (I still had to do the hem!), but there you go.

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Guardedly optimistic my hair is still under control…

Now. a few caveats. I made this dress in a delicious chocolate linen from The Fabric Store, its really lovely to sew & to wear, but it does fray a bit while you are working. There are a lot of relatively long seams in the dress, particularly the bottom piece , which quite frankly felt about two miles long. I LOVED my overlocker on this project even more than usual. There is something deeply satisfying about trimming off all those loose threads & having a nice clean seam. It absolutely could be done with a zig zag stitch, or you could do French seams, just bear in mind it will be quite time consuming, despite the apparently simplicity of the dress.

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Approx 473 miles of seams & top stitching 🙂

On that theme, it would also really help if , like me, you enjoy top stitching. It really makes the garment feel expensive & finished, again a simple shape but done with attention to detail. Or it will be once I get new glasses, chocolate brown fabric & thread is something of a challenge at the moment!

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Just hangin’ with my pockets as you do

Now the pockets. I do love a nice pocket, although I’ll be honest, very little other than my hands ever actually goes in them. Except for one memorable occasion I left a hair clip in my jeans, which then managed to completely bugger up our washing machine…

The method for the pocket insertion in this pattern is one I haven’t used before, but certainly will be again, its fab! The pocket stays at the front of the frock, and the finish looks really professional, win.

 

The thing I like most about this dress? It makes me feel grown up, in the best way. I may be on the cusp of a mid life crisis (sports car pending) , or possibly just having a moment, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about age, both my own, and those around me. If you follow Instagram you may have seen lovely Judith’s hashtag #sewover50 which she started recently, and has really taken off. Like the Curvy Sewing hashtag  #CSCmakes among others, it creates a point of reference which isn’t necessarily the standard norm. I realize for many people this has been much, or indeed all of their entire existence, invisible on TV, magazines, mainstream media. I grew up in a very working class environment , Dad was a psychiatric nurse, Mum raised five kids & later did some cleaning for a bit of extra money. New Zealand in the 1970’s & 80’s was probably a good place to do that, no one I hung out with thought we missed out on much (except when that one person in your class got to go on a plane to Australia for the hols to visit the rellies, envy!). Certainly the internet has provided both a wonderful vehicle for inspiration, and in other cases a vehicle for comparison (and very much worse), which often has a very unrealistic reality. I can’t Photoshop my white legs or chunky biceps, despite all the will in the world!

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Feeling young…and trying to remember if I turned the iron off. 

So while I reconcile the reality of me as a 45 year old woman “built for luxury but perhaps not speed’ (thanks hun!) , and the memory of my young whippersnapper self , which I swear wasn’t that long ago, I want to wear clothes that make me feel like this. With red shoes of course.

Naturally I have yet more linen lined up, check out this wee combo 🙂

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I hope you have a fab week, I’ll leave you with Tuppence, explaining to me with just a glance, no amount of sewing fancy frocks is worth making her wait for dinner. Nothing.

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Food. Now.

Kristina x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie ditches the Seventies…

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Imagine it’s warm (it isn’t), and that lime tree is actually a palm (it isn’t)…

As a child of the 70’s, hearing a pattern released with the word caftan in the title just didn’t send me. Don’t get me wrong, the seventies gave us some wonderful things. Fondue, thankfully enjoying the revival melted cheese deserves. Brown and orange , one of my favorite colour combinations ever…for clothing. Approach with caution for walls & carpet? Margo’s amazing wardrobe in The Good Life (including marvelous caftans of course!)

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FAB.U.LOUS

Sadly it’s not Margo I think of when I hear caftan. Instead, it’s possibly one of the more unlikely sex symbols to emerge from the decade restraint forgot. Sadly I can still see the cover of Mum’s Demis Roussos album now. Demis, resplendent in a caftan with a woman in a slinky gold dress sprawled on an animal print rug at his feet. Indeed.  To be fair, it was the Seventies, and he had an amazing voice, with some catchy tunes…*

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Clearly caftans have moved on, as this nifty number from Closet Case Patterns would attest. I saw lots of nice versions of this when the Charlie caftan pattern was first released. I trying now to wait & see how patterns look on a variety of sewers before jumping in (oh such maturity Kristina!) When I won a free pattern from the lovely Miss Maude Sewing recently, I figured with a trip to Fiji for a warm weather break approaching  I’d take the plunge. Much nicer than the thought of buying bathers anyway…

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Such hilarity in my hedge?!

I chose to make the maxi Version C, but with the higher sleeve of the other two.   As you can see I am not in a maxi. I had two choices, call this blog post “Mrs D goes to Fiji in her Curtains” or chop some fabric off & create something rather more wearable! I made a size 18 grading to a size 20 at the hips. This pattern has a lot of ease, I could def have done a straight 18, if not possibly a 16.

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Channeling 70’s shampoo commercial, wont lie…

My fabric is a cheapie cotton/linen blend from Spotlight. I thought I might like to make a version in some glorious double gauze I have stashed away, I figured if the fit wasn’t right I wouldn’t be too upset, and would still have something I could throw over my bathers in the Islands. Maximum adulting happening here all week folks!

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Not perfect, but better than it was pre darts…with apologies for the milk bottle legs!

Alterations, there were a few. I had a mare trying to turn the ties through to the right side. After literally half an hour poking my fingers with all manner of knitting needles I gave up & left the waist ties out. I found the fabric a bit “billowy” at the back, without a tie to bring it under control. After seeing the same issue on this lovely blog, I shamelessly copied was inspired by, adding two darts at the center back to bring the fabric in & give me some shape, while allowing some nice skim over my hips & butt.

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Darts in there somewhere!

I also added 5 cm (approx 2 inches) to the sleeve length, I like a little more coverage in the sun, I can burn in nano seconds (thank my Father with his red hair & Irish skin hey). It was super easy, tutorial here. I also slightly raised the sleeve , to avoid any bra flash, which is also covered .

After hacking off some of the length I was still left with a small split at the hem, I kept it as a cute design feature. I remember my older sisters having dresses with curved hems & splits, they seemed terribly grown up to me.

 

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Hmmmmm…..

Well, lets just say that front panel wasn’t my finest hour. If you have a sensitive disposition please don’t zoom in on the top stitching. Or anything about it actually. At least I know what I did wrong (um, reading the instructions for one?) , thankfully my hyper busy fabric at least hides the ineptitude SLIGHTLY…its a worry when your interior looks better than your exterior maybe?

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Hand stitch cover on the interior. I should have put it on the outside?

I love the way the neckline sits, the tutorial on the website is great, and I will use it for other necklines going  forward. But it is certainly too low for me, I’m happy to have a bit of cleavage action  but without a singlet this is full bra flash. In one of fashions complete contradictions I will wear it happily in Fiji , because flashing your bathers isn’t the same as flashing your bra. No, I don’t get it either…

I will also make the damn ties!

*I’ll leave you with Demis, while I don’t dig his fashion sense, I do have fond memories of this song…although I have no recollection of mastering those lyrics!

Kristina x

 

 

 

 

 

Another round with Lenox

 

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Singin’ in the rain on my grubby deck!

Why yes I have been doing silly poses in my garden this weekend, what have you been up to?

I think I’m giddy with the joy of actually finishing this make. I suspect sewing a shirtdress is rather like decorating a wedding cake or tiling a bathroom. You forget how complicated and time consuming it is until you start another one?

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It’s finished!!!!!!!!

This isn’t my first Lenox shirtdress. I’m actually surprised it took me so long to make another , its a lovely pattern. This time around I used a crisp cotton poplin from Spotlight. So much easier to sew than rayon, so stable! But boy did I use some poplin. Disclaimer: complete operator error. I managed to cut the sleeves pieces all the same way (hint, if your cutting multiple pieces on a single layer of fabric, follow the instructions and turn your pattern piece over hey?)

So after quick trip to Spotlight (thankfully only a 10 minute drive), I purchased another meter and away we go. Or not. In the flurry of pattern pieces (there are a lot of pattern pieces, especially as I had traced some off to grade between sizes) I managed to completely miss cutting out my button band. Naturally that needed 1.25 meters of length, not the extra meter I had. Cue another trip to Spotlight. Do they do a frequent flyer card I wonder?

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The “don’t make me go back for more fabric” face right there…

This Lenox is version A, with a full collar, and pleats rather than gathers. I thought this would work better with the stiffer poplin. Now I’m pretty loose goose with pattern matching , but did I think about the fact the small “flags” on the print are directional. Um, did I go to the gym today? Of course not.

So naturally when I realized I had cut my button bands with the print facing the wrong way I briefly considered buying yet MORE fabric & re-cutting them. Then I had a Chardonnay & gave myself a talking too. Only my Mother would notice. Hopefully?

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Yep, Mum noticed…

I did however re-cut my waistband, I’m think it’s an issue with my grading, but once again I was about 2.5 cm short when I came to attach my waistband. This time I measured before attaching, added that extra inch & re-cut, which I’m glad I did. My seams don’t exactly match my pleats because of the grading, so it that kind of thing will keep you awake at night, check & adjust before you attach the waistband.

I have lost a few kilos since my last Lenox, so I cut a 16 C/D Bust grading to an 18 waist & hips. The waist & hips are spot on, but I think next time I would go for an E/F cup, I have some pulling lines on the bodice which I think are due to a lack of space for the girls up front. I’d also like a little extra room to put another button on the band at the top.

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A full sleeve & bicep extension pack for this pattern had been released, I used the full bicep piece for this one (I did a full bicep adjustment myself last time, I’ve managed to misfile/lose that piece so being able to just print off the new sleeve & cut it out was rather handy!)

I wasn’t sure the pleats would be the go for me, sometimes they skim, sometimes they balloon out & give you an arse the size of Australia. I think we prefer skim yes? Of course pockets are always on point.

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Skim skim skim…

Now, shirtdress means buttons. Lots & lots of buttons. My Janome does a nifty job of button holes (such a step up from my old Toyota, 4 step manual process!!) but you’ve still got to sew those buttons on. I thought I was terribly clever figuring out a bodge job on my machine to do it , rather than my labored hand stitching. I know, it ridiculous, but like peeling potatoes, there are just some minor tasks I really don’t enjoy. Button sewing is one of those.

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I think we can say that’s a fail?

Well button sewing can be hazardous! This is even more ridiculous when you consider I actually have a button foot, I just didn’t know how to use it. Then I went to my sisters for lunch today & found a tutorial for just that in her Threads magazine. I really needed it yesterday, but hey, I’m sure I’ll make more shirt dresses.

I’d like to make one with the long sleeve option, perversely so I can roll the sleeves up. Nothing says “I mean business, let’s crack on & you can also admire my watch/bracelet/handsome forearm while I’m at it” like a rolled up sleeve. I love the contrast between feminine dress & masculine sleeve.

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I spend so much time sewing, I have no time to garden…honest.

Its been a slow process but I’m happy with my dress, although sadly given the arctic air con in my office I need to find a wee cardigan to match.

Hope you have had a fabulous week, I’ll leave you with Yorkshire puddings I’m very pleased with (although I showed my Mum & all she could say was “ewwww look at that bloody meat”! Sigh…) Edit: A few people have asked me for the recipe for my Yorkshire puds, so here it is !

In a jug whick together 3 eggs & 300 ml of whole milk with a good pinch of salt & pepper. Leave to rest for approx 30 mins, then whisk in 1 cup (150 grams) of plain flour. The consistancy should be like single cream, if its to thick add a bit more milk. Heat your roasting dish/muffin pan in a good hot 220C/430F oven, with a bit of oil (or better still, beef dripping!)  in each dish. When its really hot, quickly take out of the oven & pour in your batter, it should sizzle when it hits the fat. Put straight back in the oven & cook for approx 30 mins until puffed & golden. DROWN in good gravy!

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Perfect rugby watching supper (don’t worry, there was gravy too!)

And my husband being deeply disloyal to Tommy & Tuppence, fraternizing with George, who my sister is currently dog sitting:)

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Animal whisperer x

Have a fab week, apparently Spring is approaching in my neck of the woods, despite the fact the wind is currently rolling straight off the snow!

Kristina x

 

Winter in Sapporo…

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I made a coat. A real, proper, grown up coat. So naturally all of a sudden the temperature rises and it almost feels like Spring around here, typical!

When I first spied the Sapporo pattern by New Zealand independent company Papercut Patterns I really liked the style, but assumed as I was out of their size range I would just have to keep admiring all the lovely versions I was seeing on the Time Sucking Vampire Pintrest. As a first time coat maker I feared for Auckland’s Chardonnay stocks should I attempt to grade up a coat pattern…

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But after reading the experiences of other makers,  I realized just how much ease is built into the pattern. I had purchased some seriously delicious wool coating from Miss  Maude  a few months ago, and , after much prevaricating, put my big girl pants on & steeled myself to cut into it!

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“Chic & Mysterious “

The pattern comes in three sizes, XXS/XS S/M & L/XL. My measurements put me just over the XL size so I made L/XL. As you can see, there is PLENTY of ease. At one point I was concerned I’d look like I was wearing an oversize blanket, but the cocoon shape becomes more obvious once the lining is attached & the hem turned up.

I have only attempted lining once, and it was a disaster , so I was really pleased this one came off! I used a pretty Japanese lawn, because the coat has no fastenings I think the lining is more visible than in other styles, so it had to be worth seeing. I love an unexpected lining. I used to work with an Insurance broker who had a bespoke suit maker for a client. His suits were always lined with the most amazing fabrics, beautiful bold colours & prints. So you can imagine how disappointing it was when he turned up on casual Friday in Dad jeans & running shoes…!

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These fabrics!

I’m particularly proud of the fact that although I ran out of wool fabric when cutting my last two sleeve pieces (I know, how do I do these things??), I didn’t immediately give up & reach for the Gin bottle. Instead, after much rumination (basically missing the entire plot of a movie I had paid good money to see) I came up with a solution. I cut two facing pieces for the sleeves, and lined the rest in my lawn, it worked a treat , no tonic required.

Rather like my Ngaio blouse, with its lovely drape around the bust, this is one of those garments that looks much more complicated to achieve than it actually is. The instructions are clear, and there a several tutorials on the Papercut website to help. I also found this tutorial really helpful (because this was my first coat, and the fabric was rather precious I looked for multiple instruction sources, anyone who had previously made a coat would find this pattern a breeze). The in seam pockets are just lovely, so chic!

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Why yes that is a proper lining thanks…

The lining was very quick to insert…although I did completely forget to sew up the gap you leave to pull the outer fabric through once its attached…!

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Whoops!

The curved seams are so striking, but not difficult to achieve at all. It is like wearing a blanket…just not on the couch with a Netflix marathon thank you. It’s much cooler than that. Or warmer, as the case may be.

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I do love those seams…

I think this style of coat works best with a slimmer pant, I tried it on over a dress & looked like Mrs Tubby, but it could work if the hem of the coat and the dress were the same length?

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Lush silk

I wouldn’t normally wear black pants with a black top, but I wanted the coat to be the “star of the dish” (sorry, too many cooking shows ), so I kept it simple. To break up the block colours, a pretty silk scarf from Pearson & Brown , this one is “beehives” on the road from Oxford along the foothills of the Southern Alps. It was a birthday gift from the whanau a couple of years ago, I love the mix of colour.

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Trying to make it look colder than it actually is…

In all, I’m super pleased with my first coat. I love the shape, I’m really happy with the fabric choices and the finish (well, when I finish it eh!). I’m already thinking of one in a lighter fabric for Spring. We went on a cruise last year and one night at dinner we sat next to a lovely lady from Savannah (her manners! her accent!), she was wearing the most divine teal silk evening coat, which was very Sapporo in shape. My first thought when I saw her? “I want to be like that when I grow up..”

Coat making? Do it.

Kristina x

 

 

Pippi is no school girl now…

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Winter. It’s the end of July here at Plum Towers & feels like Spring is a looong way off. However seeing the images of those poor people in Greece & California struggling with wild fires it would be rather churlish to complain about a bit (or a lot) of rain. It might make my deck look pretty terrible, but it isn’t going to hurt me or mine.

Instead, I shall embrace some winter dressing! When Jennifer Lauren asked for reviewers for her Pippi Pinafore I was tempted, but torn. Tempted because I’ve made her patterns before, and know her fit for me is spot on , and her instructions are clear & through. Torn because I’m a woman in her *cough cough* early (ish) forties, is a pinafore really the go?  Or will it bring back terrible memories of my high school uniform, a pinafore symphony of green & gold plaid. Australian Olympians can get away with green & gold, spotty gangly 14 year olds not so much…

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Also it’s cold right now. While a linen version with a cute Breton style stripe top underneath is very appealing, I’m a soft Aucklander, in my world anything below 10 C is actually freezing.  So I spent a few minutes* on Pintrest & was intrigued. Could I take what I think of as quite a summery look, and make it drizzle & cold appropriate? Im happy to say I took the plunge , spending a pleasant half an hour cutting and taping the PDF together . I know many people loath this task (I actually find it quite relaxing to do with UKTV on & a glass of wine to hand), but I’m happy to say the notches match up & it all comes together very easily.

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Eyes on me not the deck thanks!!!

First stop, fabric. I had a lovely wool crepe in my stash, brought yonks ago at Drapers Fabric . Even after making the worlds crappiest pants, I still enough left for a dress, yay! Light enough to sew with a lining, and still wear a jersey underneath, yet with  more weight & warmth than a linen or cotton, perfect. I also though the navy colour would make the dress look a little more grown up & season appropriate. It would work a treat with my  pink Uniqlo jersey.

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I like this silhouette

The pattern is reasonably simple, there are quite  few pieces once you have your lining & interfacing  cut out, but the pattern directions are really clear, a competent beginner could make this with time & attention.

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I did my best getting all the cat hair off okay…

The pockets are lined, and plenty big enough for cold hands (or car keys & a hanky?). I was concerned the pocket size and placement may not be a great look for me, but they are actually a nice design feature.

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Crazy cat lady lives here…

The patterns comes in multiple cup sizes A-D and sizes 6-24. I cut a straight size 20, with no alterations. The skirt part of the dress is really nice, the pleats at the front & darts at the back give a nice skim of tum & butt, without acres of fabric adding bulk. If I want bulk I’ll eat it thanks! I couldn’t find buckles that worked so I used the button option instead on the straps. So much potential for fabric/button combinations. Please don’t look too closely at my buttonholes however…

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I do love pretty lining!

The lining keeps everything look pretty on the inside, I use a sweet Japanese Lawn , I love the idea of this somber navy, with such a pop of colour & print inside. The pockets are also lined.

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You may notice the lack of buttons on the side of the pocket. My machine absolutely refused to deal with so many layers of fabric, and asserted her authority in no uncertain terms. After the fifth attempt sanity prevailed & my frock is still quite lovely thank you very much. Please also forgive the overlocked hem. I was running out of daylight & my photographer was very firm “I’ll take the pics during halftime”. Well, he is very patient, so I like to be flexible.

Would I make this again? Absolutely. I really want a gorgeous linen version for spring, to wear with a stripey top (of course!) and sneakers. I also intend to make a skirt from this pattern. I’ve struggled to find great skirt patterns, a pencil skirt is too slim for my hips, and as I usually wear flats, can just look frumpy. But I don’t want the loads of fabric around my hips & butt a gathered style can bring. This is a great combination, ease from the darts at the back, interest from the pockets  , a couple of cheeky pleats around my tum for less cling & jobs a goodin!

Thoughts on pinafores? If, like me, you were on the fence , I’d give this pattern a go, you wont have high school flashbacks, I promise!

Have a fab week, I hope where ever you are the temperature, as Goldilocks so famously put it, is just right!

Kristina x

*Has anyone ever spent “a few minutes” on Pintrest? Yeah, right!

** Jen offered this pattern for free in exchange for a fair & honest review, the only kind worth reading obviously