I heart Ngaio…


After the unpicking shenanigans of last weekend, I really needed a reliable pattern I knew would turn out , fit well & not drive me to drink. The universe was clearly listening, and when my favorite blouse  finally bit the dust*, I knew what I needed to do.

Hello again the Ngaio blouse from Scroop patterns. I love the drape around my bust, I love those gathers, I love that this looks way more complicated than it actually is to sew, I love that it has a 30’s vibe, I could be in one of the magnificent Dame’s books surely?


Also timely perhaps, after some of the images we’ve probably all seen recently , is this love heart scattered fabric from Drapers Fabrics. As the lady sang we really do need a lot more love in this world (and I’d add a whole heap of empathy & a big splash of common sense…)

Where is the love, the love, the love…

Anyways, while the rain poured down outside I sewed. Our neighbor two doors down is working on a large boat on his front yard, (by large I mean it was craned onto the property…!) I swear if this rain keeps up I’ll wake up one morning to Sal waving as Lynn & him sail past my window… But I stayed toasty warm indoors & soothed myself with seams that matched, clear instructions & not ONE SINGLE unpicked stitch. Boo yah!


I added a couple of cm to the sleeves , as I did when I made created the dress version of this pattern , but otherwise no alterations required, the pattern comes in various cup sizes A/B, C/D & E/F  (believe it or not I’m a A/B cup), and comes together beautifully.

Yes that is a lot of cookbooks…there are many more!

The pattern has small darts at the upper neckline & the lower back, for a vintage feel. I have a sway back so it is exaggerated here, but I like the finish.

Close up of the ladies

But it’s the finish around the bust I really like, its soft but feels quite elegant, and much more complicated than it actually is (have I said that already…?)


Perfect with this new merino cardigan I picked up at Ezibuy recently, for work this week in my chilly office !

I hope you are staying warm (or keeping cool if you are in the NH, like one of my dear friends in the UK who emailed me recently to complain about the 29 C she was “suffering” in…I took a minute off filling my hot water bottle to suggest she ENJOY it!!!???)

Yours in frost

Kristina x


*My favorite blouse came apart at the seam under the arm…but I’d ironed it, and I knew I’d keep my cardi on all day, so dear reader, I wore it anyway…



A Shirt Dress (or, Ode to my Unpicker)


I love linen. Like, really love linen. My fantasy house has billowing linen curtains, linen sheets (changed daily by my fantasy help), me wearing linen Pajamas (ironed by my fantasy help naturally…). My fantasy life has me getting off a plane in only very slightly crumpled linen, looking cool & effortless. Anyone who has seen me roll off long haul knows just how fantastical that one is (hint, wear dark colours  take a sense of humor & at least two changes of top…)

So when I came across Merchant & Mills pattern The Shirt Dress I was tempted. Maybe I could nail me some crumpled effortless vibe after all, and it would fit! I was concerned initially as the size range only goes up to (a small!) 18, which is 41, 35, 44. But previous experience making Merchant & Mills patterns, I know they have a lot of ease built in.



I really like this style. We have sleeves (as you may know, I’m still in discussion with my biceps about the state of themselves), a decent length, and an easy, but not tent like fit. Perfect for work, or the weekend. The bib front is an interesting style point which feels a bit old fashioned to me. In my universe that’s a good thing hey. The top stitching finishes everything off nicely

Freezing, take the darn photo!

Its cold here in Auckland. By that I man to a soft Aucklander like moi, its COLD. 4 C here overnight. Naturally to any readers in places that get ACTUALLY cold (Canada in winter anyone? Anyone living in the Deep South here in NZ , currently a balmy -2…) you’ve possibly misplaced an eyeball rolling in the back of your head, but please bear with. Like many Kiwis I grew up in a woefully heated house (one fire for a five bed one level bungalow), where complaining of being cold got you a quick “put another jersey on” and one of Mums evening routines in winter was filling five hot water bottles ! I crave warmth, so linen isn’t an immediate choice for winter dressing.


But introduce merino cardigan and long boots and we may be talking? I’m a little obsessed with this Uniglo mustard cardigan. This colour is everything, if I have it in my wardrobe, chances are mustard will go with it. Polarizing yes (one friend commented “its the colour of poo basically” , but I love it! Mustard & Navy? Oh yes please…

The linen is from The Fabric Store, it’s crisp, the colour is rich, everything linen should be. Isn’t navy blue & brown just the best combination?


The pattern is great quality, printed on heavy paper, with a clear instruction sheet. The only quibble I would have with M&M patterns is their styling. On the one hand I love the ” industrial 40’s workman” vibe, but I do wish they details on the clothing were easier to actually see. And why do the models always look so miserable?

Now, the details. A nifty pattern than came together effortless, with nary a swear word or wine consumed?

It came together perfectly….yeah right!

Hell no! I fell like this dress was sponsored by my unpicker (seam ripper to NH friends), it was certainly the most used tool in the whole operation. Everything was going seamlessly (like what I did there?), until it came to the yoke. Not only did the wheels fall off at that point, they caught a flight & moved continents. I sewed & unpicked that thing FIVE times. In fact I unpicked the yoke so many times it disintegrated, thankfully I had enough surplus fabric to cut two new ones. Honestly.

The worst thing is I’m still not 100% sure what I did wrong or how I fixed it. Which is a fat lot of good if you’ve come here for useful sewing info like how to sew the yoke on the Shirt Dress pattern. For that I apologize. It isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with a yoke, and as you can see it’s far from perfect, but we got there in the end…

Booty call…or “look at the state of that fence” call?

I can tell you I added 2.5 cm to to the sleeve, to accommodate my generous biceps. Other that that, I made no alterations to the pattern (as I said, the sizing is generous!). After unpicking the yoke numerous times, I then thought I’d add to the fun by sewing my sleeves on without changing the stitch selection from a long gathering stitch. Well my did those sleeves have some lovely gathers (puckers!) in them. After Mr D had grudgingly dragged himself away from the football for 3 minutes (I curse you FIFA!) to take some pics in the gloom (in Scotland it would be gloaming, that time between day & night, isn’t that the best word?)I realized how bad those sleeves were. A calming Chardonnay later, I took both sleeves out & re sewed them, but my photographer refused to play ball…

Despite my unpicker shenanigans, I love this pattern. So easy to wear, I have several colours of this pegged with boots & a cardi for winter. In summer I’m looking fwd to the longer sleeve version turned up, with sandals & a pretty necklace for casual but cute dining…or walking off planes looking fancy. As you do.

In between blog posts, whats been occurring at Plum Towers? Sorting fabric with my trusty “helper” Tuppence.


Making cakes. This is for my Mother in Law Florence, really pretty, I’m happy to say she loved it. Which given she’s my MIL is a good thing yes?


Chocolate drip cake for a friend to take to a 50th birthday…notice not actual “50” on the cake. Yes.



It’s been lovely to get back into the sewing room, here’s to a lot more fun stitching. Maybe with a tad less unpicking….



The Jacket that became a dress…


Do you like my jacket? It’s looks more like a dress you say? Well, yes, there is that…

So I actually set out to make a jacket. A Burda 6489 to be precise. I’ve been seeing cute floral bomber jackets all over the place recently, what could be better than to make my own and know it would actually fit. A grand idea in theory anyway…

*I’ll get to the good stuff, but if you don’t want to see sewing carnage, please scroll down now…


The pattern, zips and fabric, a rayon, came from Spotlight, brought on sale. The ribbing is from Miss Maude, even though it was a bit pricier I’ve used it before & really like how comfy it is, and it had good recovery, wash after wash. So I could have a super cute well fitting jacket for under $60? Yes please!

Um….no, I don’t know what I did either.

Or not, as the case may be. Things were going fine for the first half of the sew. Actually I lie, I tried to put the front zip in for the first front pocket, only to discover I’d made the gap for the zip just a bit too big. Trying to cover this might have been easier in a more stable fabric, but in slippery rayon it just snowballed into a puckered mess. Goodbye front pockets (I wouldn’t use them anyway so figured it wasn’t such a big deal.)

I had enough fabric to cut another two front pieces (My Mum always asks why I buy so much extra fabric for each pattern I make, uh hello, here’s why!), so onward and upward.


Things really started to go pear shaped when I added the knit collar, cuffs and ribbed hem. For starters the sleeves. I may being on the slightly larger end of the size continuum, but that does not mean I have freakishly long arms. I had to take a good SEVEN cm off the sleeve, and reattach my cuffs to get something, while still long, meant I could still use my hands.

The knit collar looked fine until I added the lining. That lining. I had enough fabric to double as a parachute in the body  of the jacket, but when attached to the collar, it became a pulled up puckered mess.

I was unpicking the collar for the second time when poor Mr D asked what I was doing. “I’m *%!!**&!? relaxing ok!!!”….He ventured back inside an hour later dripping in sweat………apparently even with a stinking cold, heading outside to trim the hedge is preferable to being around your wife when she is relaxing. Indeed.

That $$!*&&%??! collar….

To be honest, I’d lost my mojo by the time I got to the ribbed hem. I didn’t really understand the instructions showing how it was attached to the lining, which was so voluminous it came down past the bottom?

I hate giving up on a project, especially one I’ve spent THREE weekends on, (until a new pair of glasses, sewing black fabric at night is like sewing with my eyes closed…) but Catholic or no I’m not one for self flagellation…

However I’m also not one for waste. To quote the inimitable Nigella Lawson  “I may be extravagant, but I’m not wasteful” . I’m happy to buy the goodies, but the thought of ditching all that fabric was really annoying, especially the ribbing, which cost more than the fabric! I also liked the way the fabric & ribbing looked together.

I’ve previously made a Merchant & Mills Fielder dress, which has a knit collar & sleeves, and had the idea I could recover both the cuffs & hem, and enough fabric from the lining & outer backs (which was cut on the fold so in one piece) to make sleeves. I’d just need enough for the front and back of the dress. A quick trip to Spotlight got me the last 2 meters (still on sale, whoop!) and I was good to go.

Ok, not what I intended, but eminently wearable hey?

I’m pretty pleased with this, besides feeling all WI* reusing my disaster, the fabric makes it a little more dressy than the washed linen version, so I could wear to work. I also adjusted the neckline to be slightly higher, I thought the first version looked a bit wide on my deeply unfashionable narrow sloping  shoulders.


While I’m disappointed I don’t have a cool jacket to wear, I’m happy I do at least have a new dress, rather than yet another entry to my wadder collection. I can add a nice scarf, and when it gets cooler, my long black leather boots & a cute leather jacket will be just the ticket. And no, for the sake of my marriage I wont be trying to make a leather jacket anytime soon (although….one day grasshopper, one day)

I hope you’ve had a lovely week, and if you were attempting a jacket , it was far more fabulous than mine!

Kristina xxx

  • Ok, let’s be honest, as if anyone in the WI would make such a Horlicks of a sewing project in the first place, but still…:)


This fabric is not easy to photograph I’m told!


On the hunt in Montrose


“I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti…”

Oh Toto, I do love you! No, not the dog (although I do adore small spunky dogs,  so in Kansas with time on my hands, I would surely give the wee guy a cuddle…). Toto the band, surely winners of the “three most implausible yet brilliant words in one line of a song ever” award?

I’m celebrating my affection in the best way I know. That’s right, animal print baby! * Difficult to photograph, easy to wear. Well, I think so anyway. I love brown in all its glorious shades (IMHO a better neutral than black any day), so if I want to wear something bold in print, this is the way I go…


I’m counting the seconds until photo shoot finish & I can go & buy some eye cream…

Inspired by the sleeves on my Celia top, but wanting a higher neckline, I have made alterations to the Montrose top by Cashmerette.

Yes, you read that correctly, Standard AND Full Bicep Sleeves!!!

Now friends, I was a tester for this pattern, and I would LOVE to show you my tester version, which, despite it being my first attempt sewing silk, I was pretty happy with. Right up to the point my other half (and boy, that was tenuous for an hour or two after kids…) bunged it in the washing machine with his manky cycling kit & power washed it to death. Stern words were exchanged. And please don’t tell me I should be grateful he knows how to use the washing machine. Please.

This is a deceptively simple pattern. The one you go “hmm, do I really need that?”. Then buy & proceed to make four million variations. Yes, that one.

Strike a pose.

I made view B, which has the higher neckline, and elbow length sleeves. I used the hem frill pattern piece from my Celia pattern for my sleeve frill. Basically a piece of fabric approx 10-12 cm in width, gathered and hemmed, then attached to the bottom of the sleeve. I decided not to add a frill at the bottom in case it was a bit much . Says the woamn wearing silk leopard print…

I omitted the keyhole at the back. I also decided not to bind my neckline. The thought of binding bouncy silk made me feel slightly queasy, instead I made a simple neckline facing, using a technique from this great addition to your sewing Library.

If you only get one sewing book…

The bust darts give a nice shape, but the feel is still relaxed. The choice of sleeve length variations, and a standard or full bicep sleeve option make for a much easier life. To be honest I can’t understand why more pattern designers don’t offer this option, bingo wings are a nemesis for many of us, fact.

My sloping shoulders were fashionable once…about 400 years ago. #lateagain

I have narrow & rounded shoulders (thanks genes & years hunched over a computer !) , so I made both a narrow & forward shoulder adjustment. I used techniques from the Cashmerette Fitting for Curves online class. I’m sounding a bit fan girl today, but learning techniques from someone who has to make similar adjustments just makes sense. It took all of ten minutes & I now have a top that doesn’t slip back on my neck or flash my bra strap. Result.

Because I’m “curvy” I assume I’m going to be adjusting patterns from the off. I figure my bust and biceps are going to be problematic , and am pleasantly amazed surprised if I don’t have to make adjustments. My BFF is a good three inches taller than I, and about a standard 12-14. She has very broad shoulders , a small bust, and a very long torso with comparably short legs (I gave her some jeans that no longer fit me and no shortening was required) Despite a much more “standard” shape, she also needs to make adjustments , at least an inch or two in length on any bodice just for starters. Thank crunchie for sewing eh!?

I used a fabulous silk from The Fabric Store for this , oh my this place to a joy, a cornucopia of fabric bliss & lovely staff to boot. Silk is a joy to wear, maybe not quite so easy to sew, this puppy frayed like a …..fraying thing. In fact Mr D asked me if I was sewing my top, or wandering around the house just peeling off bits of thread and throwing them around…?

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently, here’s why.

An Easter visit to see my sister in Harrington, NSW. If you are in the area, stay here, its fab!

Crowdy Head beach, near my sister in NSW, Australia.


A busy weekend making a first birthday cake, is there anything cuter than a first birthday cake for a little girl 🙂



If you celebrate it, I hope you had a lovely Easter, I have lots more sewing lined up, will be nice to have a quite few days soon holed up in my sewing room, apparently its raining this weekend so not like I could be in the garden anyway…


Kristina x


* Obviously NO animals were harmed in the making of this top!




This is how we do fit….


Team Awesome. x

Hello again. It’s been all go here at Plum Towers, starting with a VERY flying visit to Sydney , to sew no less. Get me eh? It made me feel terribly fabulous at work Friday night drinks, for once instead of “oh you know, chores, sewing, some TV, talking to the cats” I got to throw out a casual “oh me? Off to Sydney in the morning…as you do”. Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

The reason for this little slice of glam? Jenny bringing her Cashmerette  awesomeness Down Under, in the form of three weekend sewing retreats. Sewing can be a solitary affair, and for the most part being holed up in my sewing room is a lovely break from my day job in a busy corporate office (wont lie, some of that is me getting the low down on Married at First Sight #dontjudge).

But after learning the basics over four Saturdays with a small group of fellow novices a few years back, and having so much fun sharing the experience (talking and laughing being mandatory to any learning experience surely? Ok, except in an exam situation maybe…), I’m all for group learning. After enjoying myself immensely last year at Jules pattern drafting course, I was all for something similar minus the 24 hours plane ride.


So off I went! Now, I wont lie, I haven’t done a great deal of solo travel. My first overseas flight (“Whooo, big plane”) was to leave NZ with my boyfriend/now husband to live in the UK at 24 years old. At that age my nephew had been around the world about four times! I had a wonderful week at Ballymaloe hotel and cooking school for my 30th birthday present, but even then my Achilles heel showed itself….driving 30 minutes out of Cork airport in entirely the wrong direction.  Friends, I have NO sense of direction. I feel like I’m perpetuating such a cliche, and please know I have MANY female friends who would find their way out of the jungle with a broken compass. I’m just so not one of them. Solo travel is always a bit scary for me.

Despite my evident limitations I did manage to find the Taxi stand at Kingsford Smith, and I was off. The workshop was held at Bobbin & Ink  on Parramatta Rd, a convenient twenty five minute ride , without having to go into the middle of town. So I’m feeling very smug sitting in my cab with a coffee, and I get my first taste of Sydney traffic. Or should I say Sydney road rage (on a Saturday morning no less). My driver, and a small man in a large ute had a frank exchange of views out the window & it was salty! Both parentage AND appendage size were called into question, while I sat in the back with the most horrified middle class white chick face you can conjure. Actually it was less offended and more “don’t make me late. Or lost”! He capped it off with dropping me outside Bobbin & Ink with such a surprising brake maneuver we nearly got mowed down by a bus. Thank goodness for that glass of bubbles on the plane eh?

So I was a slightly highly strung mess when I rocked into Bobbin & Ink, to be met by the pleasant hub bub of activity.


Now,  down to work. The premise of the weekend was fitting, something that really does make a difference in the look & feel of a garment, but also something that comes with experience. When I first started sewing with professional patterns, I expected to follow the instructions carefully , based on the measurements on the pattern sleeve, and hey, it would fit. Yes? I’m an accountant remember.

One of the many benefits of a “curvy” sewing weekend? A curvy girl knows fitting is a superpower, and she isn’t afraid to use it! Find those patterns that work for you. So then you don’t have to fanny around apologizing for your D/F/H cup & bootaylicious waist/hips/any damn bit you like, and can crack on to dealing with “lets make this look fabulous hey”.


Seriously, that fabric. That smile. Emma nailing her Webster top. And swans!!

We had all brought different patterns to work on, so beavered away, stopping periodically for Jenny to demonstrate various techniques. We covered plenty. FBA’s, check. Bicep adjustments,check. Rotating darts , check. Making a pattern I wasn’t sure about look A, check. Take swan fabric & rock it, check (that’s the Webster, which I wasn’t sure about when it was released, but actually really like after seeing it made up) . Take the bodice I made in the wrong size, and show me how fab it will be, check. Be very cool to have lunch with & completely hilarious , check check check.

Honestly, if my Ames jeans MUSLIN (yes!!!) looked like this? People being knocked out by high fives, just sayin….

Actually on the fan girl vibe, does one turn up at a workshop in their own made efforts? Kinda cute, or ” Jeesus wept, what in Janome has she done to our pattern:”…?  It’s a dilemma yes? I went there.

Yep, I went there. And apparently I have rictus in my jaw?

This is my Lenox , birds ahoy.

Annette, Chloe & Cassiy being interrupted by an irritating Kiwi…They took it well.
Amanda going in (wearing the most lovely Trelise shift she was lucky to leave with …I was skipping the country after all)
There was cake! Cake!!! Shout out to Gillian x


Carrie, fitting maven & all round superstar .

So was it worth the effort ? Hell yes. What did I actually make? I choose to go with the Upton dress, I’ve had the pattern for a while, but I have never made anything so fitted, or anything lined.

Sorta close but no cigar…

Did it fit? Um, no. What have I learnt? Measure. Measure. Oh did I say measure? I have a 1.5 inch difference between the last time I measured my bust and when I cut the pattern . In that tight fitting bodice? Houston we have a big problem. Actually I’m ok with that, I’ve learnt some good lessons, not least for pity’s sake don’t assume. Also that silk is a lovely fabric but a bit of a cow to sew. What should it look like? Hello Ange, and This. Really, how lovely is that fit. Needless to say I have retraced the pattern to actually fit me, and making another attempt, wish me luck.

Also I have to share the delicious breakfast I enjoyed Sunday morning. A good corn fritter is hard to find, so shout out to the Wellco café on Norton Street.

Sewing requires sustenance…


Have you been a sewing retreat/workshop? If not, give it a go. Just be careful of taxi rides…

Kristina x

* Did I survive the whole weekend without getting lost? Not quite. Apparently Parramatta Rd is VERY long, so the 17 Parramatta Rd I walked a km with my suitcase in the blazing sunshine too, is not the SAME 17 Parramatta Rd my hotel was actually located at. In fact it was 5 km in the other direction. Ho hum…



















































































































































































I’ve just old Jenny how much fabric costs in this part of the word (no worries, she came right after a few minutes…)

Sewing retreats. Would you go there?

Now back to reality……….ho hum

Kristina x




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Celia in the almost tropics…


Ok, ready for a cocktail….something in a coconut shell…or at least some ice…?

Hello from steamy Auckland. By steamy I mean 99% humidity steamy. That’s not a joke, in fact it was leading news on the main daily’s website this morning (to be fair, you’d be surprised what makes a headline on the NZ Herald). Thank goodness I have the news to tell me its hellish humid, in case my frizzy hair, “glowing” brow (ladies don’t sweat, they glow according to my Mother!)  & fetchingly melting makeup wasn’t enough of a giveaway, huzzah!

Which makes my life somewhat difficult. Steamy outside, freezing air-con all day at work. Actually in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that difficult, it just makes me a bit of a grumpy cow. Sitting by the pool in a kaftan,  slurping a ludicrously coloured beverage out of a coconut shell and discussing where to go for Happy Hour* is one thing , trying to get from the car park to your office without actually needing another shower is quite another.



I’ve made several Sew Me Something patterns before, I really like the style and fit of Jules’ designs. However I’ll be totally honest I wasn’t completely convinced when I first saw the Celia pattern. While I immediately loved the sleeves, I think it was the frill around the hip that gave me pause. Then I saw a linen version made up on Instagram , minus the frill, and I immediately saw the potential.

Hi neighbor…yep, on the posing porch again.

I’m slightly obsessed with linen, this beauty came from The Fabric Store AND it was on sale…so I brought four different colours. I know. I just adore this particular mustard shade, which goes perfectly with my leopard print loafers. Animal print is another favorite* , I’m onto about my seventh pair of leopard print shoes…

Watching Tommy try & find some relief (note, the clown has air-con inside…!). And yes, that is a wee glow on my lower back. Reality blogging people.

The Celia is a lovely pattern to sew. Without any zips or buttons to worry about , it’s relatively quick to put together . I took my time carefully finishing the seams, and top stitching. I took a course with Jules last year, and one of the many things that struck me was her attention to detail. Top-stitching around the neckline and the sleeves really does make for a smarter finish.

Dancing Stitching Queen!


The sleeves are a joy, a stylish feature, without being long enough to be annoying. However do bear in mind the width of the sleeves when you think about your finishing. If you are lucky enough to have an over-locker (serger), its certainly worth colour matching your thread, as it may occasionally be visible when you lift your arms .

Oh Hail, Checker of the Inner Seam (actually my frizz bomb hair was sticking to my face….I’m so not built for summer)

I cut a size 20 around my bust & waist, grading to a 22 at the hip, to ensure no snugness. I made the sleeves, often a pain in the bicep for me, to size and they fit just fine, yay! The frill detail is so lovely, when I wore this top for the first time several people commented on the sleeves. In this rich linen it feels elegant to wear, while still being fun and not to fussy. A total win for a busy working day!

Oh lala fancy lady!

The Celia would also work perfectly in a lighter cotton, crepe, silk (fancy!!), or a heavier fabric such as denim or wool for cooler weather (oh cooler weather, I miss you!!) I shall be making another in linen. Because I can.

Are you sweating it out with me. Or freezing and secretly thinking I’m an ingrate & need to get a dose of hail right on my doorstep? Actually we have a cyclone heading this way so I may be getting a bit of both. Thankfully I shall feel fabulously dressed whatever the weather…!

Kristina x

*I suspect i have a touch of the Bet Lynch in me somewhere…(if you are not a NZ/UK reader see here)

Image result for bet lynch

** Don’t you love that on holiday, spending ridiculous amounts of time discussing where to have dinner/drinks/cocktails/deck chairs/wi-fi…so much time!!:)

Portia & her big girl pants…

Just hangin’ in my cool pants…

When the Curvy Sewing Collective announced the first make of their year of sewing, I must admit I was slightly less than excited. My last few attempts at pants had been very much that, was I ready to get back on the particular grump inducing horse??


Then I remembered a pattern I had picked up in the UK, on my wonderful sewing adventure to Sew Me Something last year. The Portia pant, I really like this style , wide leg & casual but still smart,  and I thought it might be a reasonably easy pattern to start with. Or at least not have me reaching for the Chard after ten minutes. Also I have used several of Jules patterns before, & know her drafting and instructions are excellent.

Hi. Oh yeah I know, cool pants…:)

I had some rather lovely soft washed Merchant & Mills linen from Miss Maude in my stash, loose swishy wide leg pants, very cool & elegant for walks on the beach, trawling a fabulous museum…or in my case, the aisles of New World.

To tuck or not to tuck, that is the question…

Now I’ll fess up , these are too big. This isn’t a problem I normally have , but there you go! I made up a size 22, next time I will sew an 18 waist grading to 20 hip. I don’t wear my tops tucked into my pants anyway, so I can easily wear a belt , but they do feel quite loose.


Second confession? What on earth was I thinking when I put those back pockets on? I clearly buggered up the markings when I cut the pattern out. Seriously, are they supposed to be on my butt? On my hip? Cargo style on my thigh?? Who knows, when I can face it, I’ll definitely unpick & re-position. I’m really cross about it actually, as I really nailed the stitching (I take every small victory ok)

I was so careful too…

I like the details on these pants, the front pockets, the belt loops, the generous width of the leg. It’s a reasonably easy sew, and following the instructions made even inserting a fly zip really straightforward. Yes, honestly! I’m really chuffed with that zip & it wasn’t a big deal at all!

Vintage button love.

I’ve seen other versions made in heavy cotton, and even denim, which look fab, but for me it’s some slightly lighter weight crisp navy blue linen for my next pair. I made a trip (only my second, honest…this week) to The Fabric Store and was blown away by the gorgeous linens. Yes, it creases, but as I memorably overheard one day “it’s expensive looking creases”. Actually not so much with 20% off, yeow!

Tommy & I coordinating poses.

I’m seeing these with my navy blue & white striped boat neck (in the wash), a cute floral shirt (like this Harrison), or as per the pics, my Liberty print Dartmouth, which is so easy to wear, but just that bit more interesting than a plain tee.


They would be gorgeous with some pretty sandals, but after a particularly aggressive pedicure, I have a wee toe infection at the moment (sorry, but this is an open kimono blog!), so I’m all about the sneaker. According to my husband/photographer/not fashion guru, these are rather heinous sneakers. To quote,  “they look like Mums nursing shoes. Even worse, ’cause you’ve taped them together with elastic”. Harsh.

Not Nurses Shoes.

Needless to say, I laughed & ignored him completely. Such is marital harmony.

You don’t like my shoes?? Yes, I totally care….not!

Anyway, not a bad job, and I look forward to the next pair. Have you made pants? Any fav patterns, do share. And if you want to tell me how ugly my sneakers are, please feel free, I can take it. Seriously.

Kristina x

P.S Check out the poseur photo-bomber behind me. He’s called this “swimsuit edition, sultry look back over shoulder”.

Oh Tommy….



On the Fringe & lovin’ it…


Hello & Happy 2018!

I hope if/how ever you celebrate the new year you enjoyed it immensely. My rock ‘n roll evening consisted of cooking a delicious roast beef dinner for my husband and sisters,  then falling asleep on the couch watching Lord of the Rings (in fairness I suspect it was the directors cut, it seemed to go on for HOURS!).There is an unsubstantiated report I may have been snoring at midnight. I’ve since spent some quiet time reading, hanging out with the whanau & trying to think of new ways to serve the vast ham which is taking up half my fridge.

All of which has brought my sewing mojo back, hooray! December was a busy one, with a trip to Australia for a beautiful wedding , where I got to wear the Ngaio dress I made last month.



Work was crazy busy, and as we were hosting Christmas day lunch , I did at least attempt to make my garden look slightly less tragic . Apparently hanging baskets filled with long dead flowers are not especially festive. Somehow every weekend in December was full and it was 2018 already!

I’ve resisted the urge to make wildly optimistic resolutions, it would seem I’m not terribly good at giving things up (sugar, salt, fat, wine, fun…), instead I’ve decided to add things in. My first was a hashtag I came across on Instagram, #2018makenine, a list of nine patterns I’m planning on making in 2018. I chose patterns I already have, but haven’t sewn yet ( while being quietly shocked at just how many I had to choose from…)


First on my list, the Fringe dress by Chalk & Notch , but a MAXI version. I know, get me eh! I’ve never actually worn a maxi, let alone sewn one, but my other 2018 “add in” is being a bit more adventurous with my styling. And lets be honest, with legs as pale as mine, a maxi is also practically a “snow blindness prevention” public service.

Helpfully, Gabriela has a tutorial for altering the pattern to a maxi one her blog, it was actually really easy. I added 45 cm to the skirt which was about 3 cm too long for my height of 5 ft 6 or 166 cm.

Just a peek of ankle…

This is the first Chalk & Notch pattern I’ve made and I’m really impressed. The instructions are clear and thorough, with excellent illustrations. This is a relatively complicated pattern, with waist darts & ties, buttonholes, plenty of top-stitching & my nemesis, a curved hem. But it actually felt quite straightforward because of such comprehensive instructions.

The fabric is a modal from Atelier Brunette , purchased from Miss Maude & squirreled away for the right pattern. It’s really soft & silky, which probably did make my life slightly more difficult for sewing, but so lovely to wear, especially as a maxi.

As comfy as going out in your nighty (in the best possible way!)

The buttons are pretty vintage numbers, courtesy of my very own button magpie, my sister Dette. I made view A, which actually also has buttons on the sleeves, but I decided I liked the sleeve length without them. The sleeves are not set in, so were quite quick to sew, and they fit with no bicep adjustment required, yay!

I made the ties to sit around the back (they can be either front or back)

I wore this to a lovely summer wedding, and felt really comfortable all day. Dancing was a breeze, thanks to the side splits (I only took mine up to my knee but if you’re more daring they could be J Lo style thigh length!


I’m planning my next fringe dress , just below the knee & perfect for work with sandals & a pretty cardigan.

I’ll leave you this week with one of my exhausted sewing assistants, clearly I work him to hard…

Tommy tuckered out…

Kristina x





Off to a wedding with Ngaio

Get me to the church on time…

Weddings. Besides the obvious, love, lifetime commitment, joining two people together blah blah blah….what’s it really all about Alfie? Well, the dress of course. Firstly the bride’s, if there is one day you can go all out its your wedding day right?

My first real wedding frock memory, I suspect like many of my vintage, was Princess Diana, getting out of her glass carriage (talk about travelling in style…) in that massive frock with the 700 foot train. My Mum sews, and literally the first thing she said was “why didn’t they iron it??”

So young, so slim, so tanned …and she looks alright too?

My own dress was rather more simple. I adored Caroline Bessette’s look when she married JFK Junior, so simple but stunning. As I married in a registry office in London, turning up in a glass carriage in a dress needing 25 m of fabric seemed just a tad excessive. Instead I rocked up in a Ford Focus wearing the perfect silk sheath dress & jacket I’d found in my lunch hour from work, in a non bridal shop, so at about 10% the price of an actual wedding dress. I’ve never found it so easy to dress for a wedding since. Friends, I had peaked.

Since then there have been many low points. The silver 5 inch heels I wore to a wedding I didn’t realize was being held on a soft uneven grass lawn, with no seating. The swelling in my feet took several days to subside. The tight spanx that left me essentially unable to sit & eat….but I could still drink, and it was a VERY hot day. You can imagine how well that turned out…

Hi neighbor…why yes, I did make this myself.

So when an invite to a wedding in December , in the Hunter Valley popped into my calendar I decided to take action . I knew it would be warm, and I knew I wanted to wear a dress. I remembered how much I loved the style of my Ngaio blouse, and how I had thought at the time what a pretty vintage style tea dress it would make. Would I be up to hacking a pattern? Dare I?

Well, apparently yes! I have really enjoyed making this dress. I’m ridiculously pleased with myself actually. First I found some rayon on sale at Spotlight. I honestly wasn’t sure about the colour but it had the right drape for the fabric I had in mind for the dress, and there was plenty available ( I always buy extra for my inevitable mistakes…) I put a call out to the Scroop Patterns Facebook group to see if anyone had done it before, and Leimomi kindly responded, advising me to lengthen the bodice panels, adding as much width as required for the kind of skirt I wanted. I knew I wanted a gentle tea dress style, with just enough fabric for a bit of swoosh.

I just love the swoosh, can you tell?

Having made the pattern already certainly helped. I felt confident in my size choice, and simply traced off the relevant pattern pieces (only two, the back & lower bodice) onto some Swedish Tracing paper, then extended them out to the approximate length I wanted. Sounds too simple right? Well, it isn’t actually that complicated (even for me which is saying something!). I measured around my widest part (hips/butt) so I knew my dress had to be wide enough to skim over with some ease. For the nice swish I wanted I knew I would need to make an A line shape, without going crazy wide.

Swedish tracing paper is quite robust thankfully!

It works surprisingly well. I followed the pattern and after trying on the dress once I had sewn up the side seams realized the darts at the back, while lovely on the blouse, were too low for me on the dress, essentially pulling the fabric in right above my butt, the last place I needed it. So I simply unpicked them and raised them up 8 cm. I have a sway back so it pulled the fabric in nicely, while leaving plenty to skim over my booty…

Nice back darts…and something exciting across the road apparently.

I lengthened the sleeves to the elbow, I’d really like to make a version with a more kimono sleeve style, I just need to figure out how!

The ladies are pleased…

I love the neckline, so pretty, and actually really easy to do. Follow the pattern carefully, stopping your seams as instructed (can you tell I didn’t the first time I made this pattern?), then the gathering is done by hand, which I found really simple, despite not being a very accomplished hand sewer. I think the effect is wonderful.

The one thing I would change? Pattern matching, or rather the lack of. My BFF is a Virgo & tells me the haphazard pattern (non!) matching down that centre front gives her a migraine.  Next time I will make an effort, promise…….

Hmmm, yes, pattern matching would have been a plan…


So something that was only meant as a muslin I MIGHT be able to wear , has turned into a pretty dress I’m thrilled with. I call that a good weekends work. I hope your weekend has been as fun/productive/relaxing!


Kristina xxx




Meet my new man Auden…


I do love a good cardie. More comfortable than a jacket, loads of colours to choose from, and best of all, no potential for me to be cold. I hate being cold. While several members of my family were definitely born in tents (or yurts, for the hipper among us?), I’m the one shutting doors & cranking up the heat pump , like the Nana I essentially am…


So when Jen at Jennifer Lauren Handmade put out a call for reviews of her Auden men’s cardigan I was intrigued. Could I drag Mr D away from his beloved sweaters & hoodies, and convert him to the joys of a nice cardie?

Just hangin’ in the garden…as you do

The Auden is designed to be made with a low stretch sweatshirt knit ( as opposed to wool, in which case you’d need to wait about five years for this post …..slowwww knitter!). That, and the retro style, was what caught my eye. Like his wonderful (?) wife, Mr D is wedded to weekend comfort. Suited and booted daily (with a magnificent cuff link collection I must remember to share actually), he loves to relax on downtime in comfort, while not “looking like an old fart”.

Flatulence aside, the relaxed, yet still slim line shape was really appealing. Also the contrast band & elbow patches. In fact when I showed him the pics & said “would you wear this”, his first response? “Yep, I really like the tartan detail at the front”. Ok then Douglas.

Apparently this is a Western , he’s ready to draw…!

The pattern sizing covers S-XXL, I made M , which is a 39 1/4 chest, and a 36 waist. Mr D is 6 ft 3″ so I added 1 ” to the sleeve. Next time I would also add about 2 ” to the torso, as he like his tops a bit longer. For his reason, I did a very short hem on this version, which doesn’t look great!

The pattern came as a PDF, I know a lot of people loath PDFs, but I actually find the cutting & taping quite relaxing. I do it with a glass of wine & something good on the TV. The PDF came together easily, and both views , with and without contrast bands , came as separate pieces, so you only had to cut & tape what is required. After 70 years of sewing , my 82 year old Mum has recently discovered PDF patterns, seriously anyone can do it!

The main fabric is a sweatshirt knit from Centrepoint Fabrics, with a lovely trim of the most delicious Irish Linen from Miss Maude. Who wouldn’t want to wear Dandy linen, seriously?

The raglan sleeves attach to the body of the cardie with a cool curved seam . I used plenty of pins and took my time, it was actually quite simple to do, and I love the retro effect the give.

Tommy posing on the pizza oven…

As you can see the front neckline is gaping slightly, I managed to stretch it out and only realized when I had already done my buttonholes & attached my buttons I was a wee bit off…bit late then!


This is a relatively easy sew. I say that because I didn’t find anything particularly challenging….but I did make a few mistakes. So basically, at a first run, you will still end up with something entirely wearable, and depending on the shape of your model, and your own skill level, possibly pretty darn fabulous. I should have factored in Glenn’s long torso (doh!), and not managed to put my twin needle in a very safe place (i.e lost), so I had to stitch the (too skinny) hem twice .

Next time I would also do the Narrow Arm Adjustment  Jen details on her blog ,the arms just feel a wee bit wide around the cuff area.


Will I be making more cardies for Mr D? Yep, I’ve already cut out a purple version , not my colour choice, but with black denim elbow patches, and a band going around the hem, as per my models request. It’s a lot of fun to make clothing for others, and I enjoy Glenn being involved in the process. If you were thinking about some sewing for a bloke in your life, this would be an excellent place to start!

Open Kimono. Jennifer put a call out for reviews & Mr D really liked the pattern. I received it in exchange for an honest review. Believe me, if the man of the house had complaints you’d be hearing them. Whether you wanted to or not…

Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend!

Kristina xxx