Away with the birds, Lenox…

Pockets of fun!

I know, I’m back on the birds. Its been a topsy turvy few weeks here at Plum Towers, and I’ve had several projects on the go (including a rather fabulous cardi for Mr PK!). He was away at his parents so I had a whole weekend to actually get things finished. Like this beauty for instance.


This isn’t my first shirtdress, but its the first one I’m excited to wear. The Lenox Shirtdress from Cashmerette is a princess seamed beauty, with pockets, and several collar & skirt options that, in my not so humble opinion at least, looks pretty darn fab!

My usual approach to pattern placement…

Now first up let me be clear. This started life as my second muslin (or toile, or “be sensible for once in your life & do a practice run”) The fabric is from Spotlight, found at the bottom of a pile of rayon looking rather worse for wear. It was super cheap on sale plus I had a voucher to use. Its a nice dark navy, which I’ve noticed when it comes to cheaper fabrics, is so much nicer than black, which can look a bit faded.

Why a muslin? Because with princess seams, skirt gathering, my chunky arms and actually getting a tad sensible in my dotage, it seemed like a good idea. There was a lot that could go wrong., hoping for the best probably wasn’t going to cut it…

Feeling pretty good, wont lie….

I initially cut up a stained linen table cloth and mocked up just the bodice & one sleeve. There is plenty of ease through the hips of this pattern, so I knew the skirt would be fine. In the bust I cut a size 16 , I’ve learnt through experience using other Cashmerette pattern to go with a 16 for my 44′ bust. I’m quite narrow through the shoulders & don’t have a big difference between my high & full bust, so an 18 is just to generous. Oh the beauty of knowing a particular pattern company!

I added approx 1.5 cm to the sleeve using the cut & spread method from the Curvy Sewing Collective tutorial , I’m extremely conscious of a tight sleeve (overstuffed sausage casing always springs to mind…??) and have 16 ” biceps, if your arms are less generous I wouldn’t bother. Also note I didn’t change the size of the sleeve cuff pieces, and they were fine.

I graded from a 16 bust through to a 20 waist & hips. It wasn’t complicated, and I’m so glad I did, the waist feels comfortable without lots of baggy fabric around my bust. Even on my best body positive day baggy & bust are two words I never want to hear in the same sentence hey…

How??? Why???

I’ve no idea what I did cutting out the waistband, but one ended up about 3 cm shorter than the other, which wasn’t ideal. I ended up making the seam allowance on the button band wider to hide it….which in hindsight (oh you clever minx hindsight!) wasn’t that clever, I should have just not been a lazy cow & cut a new waistband.


What did I learn? When using rayon pins, pins , pins & then maybe just a few more pins for good luck. It really did make life easier. Gosh I’m sounding so grown up, two muslin’s, extra pins…?!

Ok, this puppy isn’t perfect. The waistband issue aside, I also seem to be showing way more cleavage than the pattern pics . I’m ok with the girls on show, but I still don’t know what I did to make my neckline so much lower? Also the collar band is a bit floppy, but I suspect that’s my choice of interfacing…I’ve only just learned there is more than one kind.

But , my Mother non-withstanding, who will pick it in a heartbeat, (she has form, she picked sleevegate straight away), can you see the big difference? My shirtdress buttons on the opposite side. I don’t know why men & woman are supposed to button their shirts differently, but after my waistband snafu my button band was a bit narrow, so I thought I’d put the most attractive one in front. Naturally Sod’s Law indicated this would be the incorrect one. I’m a rebel & I’ll possibly never be any good (although Im trying…)

Photobomb! Love that skirt swish…

It’s a bit chilly still in Auckland, despite being nearly summer, so tights were welcome, along with my fav pink suede shoes (Jigsaw, from about 15 years ago…) I love opaque tights & coloured shoes, despite not being at my most elegant walking in heels. Who didn’t watch Sarah Jessica Parker in SATC walking (running??!)  New York City’s uneven pavements & think WTF?  I’d have spent the entire series at physio wearing trainers…


The final accessory? An Erstwilder brooch from my sister, what could be more perfect than a cat with attitude on a sea of birds…???

Will I being making more Lenox dresses? Oh yes, so comfortable to wear, I love the look & now I’ve made one I know what tweaks I need to make going forward. Nice.


Hope you have had a lovely weekend, did you manage to get any sewing done?









It’s all crepes and peaches around here…


Do you have a weekend “thing” in your house? A ritual, a treat, something that reminds you, at least for the day, you’re not workin for the man?

We have two fur babies who insist (i.e tear up the bedroom/beat the crap out of each other) on breakfast around 6.30- 7 am , so sleep-ins at Plum Towers involve an early start. Their follows a war of attrition , more intense even than the nightly fight for the duvet. Ok, who will make the coffee?? Just the coffee mind. The idea of getting myself organised enough to provide “brunch” is just a PJ wearing step too far. So how we ended up talking crepes & peaches really is beyond me.

Mr D: So when are you making the crepes? *looks hopeful*

Me: I’m sorry? *inhales coffee* (hint. I need to ease myself into the morning…)

Mr D: Crepes. You said you were making crepes . With sauce. Like fruit sauce or something.

Me: I have no idea what you are on about but please help yourself to some Weetbix. We have milk.

Mr D: But you said you were making crepes. *looks crestfallen*

Me: About six months ago. I have no recollection of any mention of crepes after this. Now please pour me another coffee &s stop talking.

After the kind of inane discussion only people who have been married 400 years can have , I figured out me mentioning crepe (fabric) & peachskin (fabric), was somehow mangled by the beauty of both dodgy AND selective hearing into me making crepes in fruit sauce for breakfast. I know.

Photo-bomber wandering off for a snooze after an early start…

So while I wasn’t whipping up a breakfast treat, I was in my sewing room, making a new top & scarf combo.

The crepe? A lovely soft number I brought from Miss Maude a while back. To be honest I’m not sure what I had in mind to make, not least as I don’t tend to wear a lot of black? I had two meters, enough for a top or blouse, but not a dress . So naturally I wanted to make a dress.



After realizing I definitely didn’t have enough for a dress (doh!), I thought a top in the style of the Kate dress would be a good start. While I may not wear many black tops, it would be a handy wardrobe addition, and an excellent toile for the most delicious chestnut crepe I somehow seem to have also purchased…

Those colours!

I haven’t sewn crepe since the great pants disaster , while it doesn’t have the slip factor of my nemesis rayon, it is still quite mobile. I also now know why my mother refuses to sew black (or dark navy) fabric any more. What a pain! Even when I put my “I don’t need glasses” $30 glasses from the pharmacy on, it was still a rather tricky sew , and an absolute no go at night.

Possibly my best self made binding ever. Just sayin’…..

However. I’m actually really pleased with the sew, the binding around the neckline & sleeves is lovely. The shoulders are a bit wide for me, given my 44 bust I need to address the discrepancy between my bust & narrow shoulders, as it feels like the sleeves are falling off and a bit wide on my arms. A narrow shoulder adjustment next time I think.

But the sleeves fit well (no bicep adjustments, epic win right there), I will probably shorten & gather a bit more for the next version, and may even go down a size ( I cut a straight size 20) as Sew Me Something patterns tend to have a lot of ease .

So I’ve made a black top. Already my inner colour/pattern loving self is saying whaaaa??

The solution? An Infinity scarf, in yellow fabric with black flamingos and maybe a pompom fringe per chance? Obviously.

Go West! …or actually East in this case…..

This is a peachskin fabric, also from Miss Maude, that caught my eye. Hello, sunny yellow, hello birds…and peachskin! Actually I had no idea what peachskin was when I brought this but doesn’t it sound lovely?

Well I can tell you it feels even better, soft , with just enough heft for a scarf like this. I realize I’ve managed to wear my scarf upside down in these pics (a theme? At least I haven’t sewn it that way, unlike these sleeves…).

The inspiration came from Simply Sewing , although I must be honest , after sewing in the pom pom trim, the tutorial in the mag lost me somewhat, so I followed this tutorial, which made a bit more sense (I’m a very visual learner).

I like my birds doing headstands ‘kay…

I feel many more infinity (and beyond?!)  scarves in my future, I cant stand wearing clothing that needs adjusting, so a scarf that will stay wrapped & “scarfed” all day is a joy, plus a pop of colour & print is always on my radar.

So what else was happening in my garden today?

Exceedingly helpful Tommy

My kind of gardening actually, its all about the reflection….and nice tools.

Get lost with the camera…!

Temperamental much?

Sunday afternoon for Tuppence…

The cushion Tuppence is snoozing against I made from my husband’s Nana Sadie ‘s commemorative tee towel from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. I love this, she kept it with her things & when she passed various precious items were given  to her whanau.

I treasure these kind of connections, and I love how being able to sew means these everyday items get a new life (which I’m sure a woman of her skills and generation would appreciate). I only met her a few times but she was still in her own home at 94, with the same gorgeous Irish accent she took with her as a young woman leaving,  with some of her family,  for the other side of the world, knowing going back wasn’t an option. Can you even imagine what that must have felt like?

Have a lovely week where ever you are

Kristina xxx





Afternoon tea with Mrs D

Howdy neighbor!

In our house Mr Douglas is the one with the sweet tooth, and I mean sweet. If it has sugar, he likes it. If it has more sugar, perhaps with a side of carbs and possibly a fried involvement, he REALLY likes it. As you can imagine , Afternoon Tea is pretty much his favorite meal (after dessert of course).

I’m much more of a savory girl. Afternoon tea generally leaves me wanting. The texture of sandwich bread has always grossed me out, so dinky club sarnies don’t get me excited. I’ve been accused of jumping on the gluten free bandwagon, but given I embrace pastry in all its forms, and ate my last plastic sandwich in Room 7 at primary school (it was corned beef on white, ewwww!) , I think that’s rather unfair. Or was I the only hipster in Manurewa in 1980 and just didn’t realize it?

So when Jennifer Lauren put out a call for reviewers for her Afternoon Tea blouse & shift dress pattern I was intrigued. Not only did the simple, vintage style appeal, maybe here was my chance to actually embrace afternoon tea?

Yep, cool enough for a cat button, that’s me….

The pattern is a cute blouse/dress with a kimono sleeve, elegant neckline, and two versions of an interesting cross over facing giving, best of all, the potential for awesome button placement. I love buttons! My sister Dette, a crafty minx if ever there was one, sent me a lovely stash of buttons for my birthday, one of which was a cute cat. As a fully certified crazy cat lady I knew this needed to be front & center.

Purrfect! (sorry, couldn’t help myself…)

The pattern is in a PDF version, I found it very easy to put together, particularly as you are told which pages are required depending on which view you are making, so I didn’t need to tape everything together at once.


First up I made View 2, a blouse in a pretty floral cotton poplin. I wasn’t sure if the fabric would have enough drape, but to be honest I don’t tend to wear my blouse tops tucked in, so figured the crispness wouldn’t be an issue. I actually quite like the structure, its simple but has a nice shape which works well given the bold print.

Watching my idiot cat teetering along the fence….

My sewing isn’t perfect, the bulk of the cotton meant it was a little tricky to get the facing sitting perfectly around the shoulder and neckline, (yes, I should have followed the instructions and trimmed the seams a little more carefully!)

But I’m actually really happy with the garment, I made no alterations to the pattern, cutting a straight size 20. It was super quick to put together, the only fiddly bits being sewing on the facing, and button placement. The button is fixed, so no faffing with button holes yay.I was apprehensive the sleeves wouldn’t be long enough & I’d veer into cap sleeve territory. If you can explain to me the appeal of cap sleeves on anything but a twiglet there’s possibly a Nobel prize with your name on it…or at least a glass of Chardonnay. But happily they are not only an acceptable length, they require NO BICEP ADJUSTMENT. Yes, you heard me right kids!

Naturally I couldn’t resist making the dress version. and a visit to Drapers Fabrics sealed the deal. Of course I had company.

Me: I thought I’d check out the new Drapers Fabrics on Khyber Pass on Saturday.

Mr D: Are you seriously buying more fabric??

Me: Of course not, I’m browsing…

Mr D: “side eye”

Me: Ok, yes I might be, I think they have a sale…

Mr D: I’m coming with you , you’re not safe alone in a fabric shop…

Me: Ok…we can go to Little & Friday for doughnuts after.

Mr D: Do you think a doughnut will make me forget how much fabric you are buying?

Me: Yes.

Mr D: I can’t be brought with doughnuts.

Yes dear reader, he can. In fact this is exactly how Saturday transpired. Such is a happy marriage.

So into my lap fell a gorgeous silk linen mix, in my most favorite colours , orange, brown and green. Lovely drape, but the linen gave enough structure to ensure it didn’t feel “nightwearish”.

Once again, a cavalier approach to pattern placement…and lawn care apparently?

For the dress, concerned about tightness around my waist & hips, I graded between sizes from 20 to 22. The size range is 6-24 which equates to 31/24/35 to 49/42/53

I made View 3, which has a box pleat at the back for some shape. There is a sensible amount of ease, I was bang on the measurements for the waist & hips of the 22 and the sizing is spot one, nice & comfortable but not crazy big.

One thing I would note is the cup size. While I’m a 44 bust I don’t have a big difference between my full & high bust, so generally don’t have to do FBA’s. While the sizing was fine for me, I wouldn’t have wanted the bust to be much smaller. For later patterns Jennifer has introduced multiple cup sizes.

Breezy in the garden!

I love this dress, so easy to wear, so easy to put together. The instructions are clear, with good line drawings. The fabric was quite different to sew than the cotton, definitely more slippery , with a bit of bounce from the linen. I found the facing wanted to flip out more than the cotton, and I was a bit nervous with my iron (I learnt the hard way maxi linen temperature doesn’t work for every fabric, despite all that satisfying steam..), so a few extra hand stitches were necessary, but worth the effort for something comfortable to wear, with swish (and pockets!), that isn’t a sack and can be whipped up in an afternoon. Indeed the Afternoon Tea frock!

Open Kimono. Jennifer put a call out for reviews & I liked the pattern. I received it in exchange for an honest review. The only kind I do actually 🙂

Now, whose for tea? And cake. Or cheese?

Kristina xxx


Open Kimono….several looks

Um…..where’s my cocktail?

Now I will fess up, when I first imagined this in my head, I was sipping a cocktail on the deck of a cruise ship. Something about the print, and drape , the whole “kimonoesqueness” screamed resort wear (not that I’ve ever actually brought resort wear, but if I was going to I imagine it looks like this…?). Anyway, as per usual I left it far to late before we we were off to the airport to actually finish my lovely holiday outfit.

See, Resort Wear for sure…

The pattern in question, Simplicity 1318, has a couple of variations, I went with View B, a high low jacket (flattering at the front with good butt coverage from the rear, nice…) with longer sleeves and supposedly a contrast band. I ignored the contrast option, and pattern matching was approached with my usual “hope for the best” attitude (to be fair, that’s a pretty but quite busy fabric, who expect my Mum would actually notice the lack of match??)

I did say it was pretty, busy fabric…

The fabric is a rayon from Spotlight , happily purchased on sale and just waiting for the right project. If you have been reading PK for a while now you will notice how much rayon I buy….and how much I complain about sewing slippery rayon. I know, I have no idea why I do it to myself either.

Anyway, I finished sewing this last weekend, its a very quick sew (even a relative newbie could make this in a day no problem, complete with time for lunch/doing the laundry/having a moan about what a pain rayon is to sew). I did take a wee shortcut by ignoring the instructions to hand stitch the band to the inner, instead preferring to top stitch. I love me some top stitching!


After I finished sewing I hung my new jacket on Diana & spent several days wondering “is this something I would actually wear?”

To much….?

It seemed very bold, like something that’s a grand idea on holiday, not so brilliant back in the cold , not much light of day (I put Retsina, location tee shirts & Egyptian rings with your name spelled in hieroglyphics into that category also…)*

But after some fun playing around with bits & bobs in my wardrobe, I realized not only was my wee kimono jacket just fine for a sea deck, it would work very well for more mundane activities back in the real world!

Off for dinner…I’m clearly worried about whether I’ll make it to the taxi in these heels…

Perfect with jeans & sandals for brunch with pals, or gussied up with heels and nice pants for dinner, versatile much?

Obligatory Kimono jacket pose….I defy anyone not to

While I’m still a bit grumpy with myself for not getting it made up before my trip, I’m so glad I bothered  after, its super comfy to wear, and as my girlfriend so helpfully pointed out “the high low hem stops it looking like you’ve just forgotten to take your bathrobe off”…so true.

In lieu of any pic’s of me actually wearing this on our cruise, I thought I’d share a few images of the trip anyway, we spent a lovely 10 nights cruising from Southampton to Copenhagen on-board the Marina, and I’ll admit I was sad to get off (despite missing my cats & my sewing room!)

Pass me my book & beer thanks…

So much to do , besides all the fabulous shore adventures, on board can be just as busy. I do love a quiz & we went to a few , (Hi Patty & the rest to the Fryday team!), a library on board, lectures, music, games (the Marina Open Paddle Tennis was declared a tie with Mr D & I tied at 4 sets all before high winds & Happy Hour stopped play…), fabulous people watching, but best off all, on this cruise line at least, really excellent food & drink. And only unpacking once. Seriously, whats not to love?

Home from home. Believe it or not the bathroom has a full bath & a separate shower…!

My favorite thing? The balcony, how can you beat waking up to this (just remember to have more than your knickers & bra on when you pull the curtains heh?)

Good Morning Oslo!

I also wanted to share this fab Bill Skinner necklace I picked up in Bath shopping with my dear pal Tiffany, she brought me the bee necklace I’m wearing with jeans in the top picture. We went back to the shop when we were staying & the first thing I picked up was this cat playing with a ball of wool….crazy cat lady from way back kids! She immediately started laughing as that was the necklace she had picked out with bees & had to decide which to buy!


I’ll leave you with my favorite pic of the trip, my dear husband beer tasting in Antwerp, having a great time despite the airline losing his suitcase & his wife making him carry her bag #keeper


Have a lovely week , thoughts & prayers to all those, human & animal, suffering Irma’s wrath, I hope you find safety, refuge and kindness xxx

Kristina xxx

*I have brought all of those things on hols….sigh.

Leaving on a jet plane…


More birds! Imogen loves birds…

If you’re anything like me, nothing says going on your hols like last minute sewing plans, especially the wildly unrealistic kind. Three tops and a shirt-dress in a week, no problem. Trousers hemmed, shirt started (and finished) by Saturday, I’m on it….and really, why can’t I make my own swimsuit in an evening?

In my imagination I get on flights dressed in linen & silk,  looking cool & effortless, with just my carry on bag , sunglasses & and a knowing smile to see me on my adventures. Naturally the reality is actually me in active wear pants & sneakers struggling with a ludicrous amount of luggage which I heave onto the baggage counter with a grimace , in an unseemly rush to get to the lounge & chugg down a nerve soothing Chardonnay. Oh well. 

Yes, that is a prison wall behind me…

So it was probably no surprise to find me rushing to finish my second Imogen top the day we flew out from Auckland to the UK. In between packing, buying cat food, finding my passport and all the other things sensible people do in the days & weeks before they actually fly ( *cough cough* it’s only 23 odd hours flying time, so not like long haul or anything right…..?)

At least I feel rather fabulous and holiday ready in this wee number. Its made up in a light cotton lawn from Monaluna from Miss Maude Sewing, light & breezy, perfect for a summer holiday (it’s pouring with rain as we speak….but it also looks lovely with a cardi over ok)

I was particularly brave taking this wee top on my adventures, as the first week of my hols was to be spent with the lovely Jules at Sew Me Something in Stratford-upon-Avon (yes, this is one of her patterns.) I was attending the Pattern Cutting Summer School, which I can HIGHLY recommend , what a confidence builder!

Team Pattern Cutting, that’s Jules our tutor/sewing guru in the fab teal flamingos

As you can see from the pic, we are a diverse group size wise, and it was completely irrelevant for the purposes of the workshop. After a very through measuring session done in pairs (all clothed), we set to work on our own individual block (sloper), either a fitted bodice, or a looser version. I went looser as that’s generally the shape I prefer to wear, but the choice is yours.

Tea & homemade lemon drizzle cake to keep us fortified!

Working at your own pace , the goal is to make a finished bodice & sleeve block to your own measurements, which is then traced onto calico , sewn up & tried on for size. Jules gets out her magic pins & shows you where adjustments are required. I have narrow shoulders & wider hips with large biceps so we took a good amount off around the shoulder , added width around the hips & cut & spread (which I’ve never been able to do successfully) around the upper arm.

These adjustments are then transferred to your basic block, a new tracing is made which is cut out & sewn up for fitting. Amazingly my sleeve fit a treat first time. So I now have a perfectly fitting bodice, which I can create all sorts of variations with.

Hard at work, plenty of light, bright workspace to spread out!

Our next challenge was to create an actual garment with our block, exciting! I choose a simple A line style shape with a stand up collar, elbow sleeves with a frill detail and an inverted back pleat for a bit of “walking away” drama (I do love a bit of drama.)

The front of my calico dress, I’m so in love with that collar…

Everyone did something different which was interesting, from Karen’s amazing 50’s style shirtwaister, to Mary’s gorgeous princess seamed dress with TEN tuckpleats ( I can neither confirm nor deny she may have doubted the wisdom of that decision at one or two points during the day…) . Carole did a beautifully elegant fitted shift dress (both Karen & Carole did the fitted block). Marion made a gorgeous princess seamed bodice with the cutest swing skirt, while Penny was working on a COAT no less! As you can see, plenty of creative choice.

The back, which I envisage in a drapy crepe fabric…

I managed to finish my dress calico by the end of day three, so on day four I worked on a pants block, which I have finished and ready to make up on my return to NZ, will make the end of the hols slightly less depressing, knowing I have so many new projects to work on. Especially since I have actually brought the teal crepe to make my beautiful frock in!

Doesn’t that look inviting?

Have you ever considered a sewing workshop? Some things do go through your mind, “will I keep up”, “will everyone be a much better sewer than me” etc, but to be honest it made zero difference (Most of the ladies in that room would blow me out of the water for sewing skills!), you just work at your own pace, and actually learn so much just from watching others be fitted, and sharing tips and tricks (or even the odd “high waisted flood pants” look)  which gives you a giggle and keeps it real (I’m looking at you Mary!) So if you are thinking about one, I’d say go for it!

After a fab week in Stratford upon Avon (despite Mr D’s bag being lost somewhere between the UK and LA, nice work Virgin Atlantic…), we have had a few relaxing days in Oxford, staying at a hotel that was formally a prison, interesting!

I’m innocent , I swear it Guv!

Lovers of UK detective series may recognize this from an episode of Lewis. Naturally we also went to the Turf Tavern and tipped our hats to Inspector Morse. Sadly Colin Dexter, the author of the wonderful Morse series passed away earlier this year, I hope him & John Thaw are enjoying a real beer together.

Oxford at night, bewitching…

We are now off to the Cotswolds for a few sdays with friends, to stay by the water, then on to the beautiful city of Bath, where I will no doubt find a few treaures to share…

Kristina xxx



Same same …but different

I really wanted to click my heels together…..photographer not so keen

After the success ( I thought anyway) of my first Kalle shirt-dress , I wanted to make the shorter tunic version for wearing with jeans and my new RED sandals! I’m a girl who loves red shoes from way back. Despite my pal/colleague/fellow crafter telling me her Mum always referred to “red shoes, no knickers’. For clarity, I was fully knickered up for all pics shown.

Anyway, I brought this gorgeous Monaluna poplin from Miss Maude a few months back. I’ve never sewn poplin before, but I just couldn’t resist the lovely colour and cheerful print. I knew the crisp finish would be perfect for a shirt, then I walked past Made & saw some Hasbeens calling my name* and…..I’m resisting the urge. My husband was in a meeting recently (he works for a large bank, he goes to A LOT of meetings…) and  someone (I wont name & shame) actually did that joining of two hands together while using the word “simpatico”….with a straight face. So lets just say the moons aligned & I saw red sandals & a new red shirt. No weird hand thing involved….

That’s me watching my little punk of a cat heading over to the neighbors to torment their dog…

I wasn’t sure the long back would be particularly flattering over my butt ( I was going to say “junk in the trunk”, but in my neck of the woods a trunk is a boot….so “loot in the boot” baby!), but I think its fine.

I had a major rethink on buttons. After consulting the hive mind at the awesome Curvy Sewing Collective  I realized the lovely cream vintage buttons I was so desperate to use, while being completely delicious, were actually not the go for this shirt. The el cheapo navy ones from Spotlight, totally were.

“Yes I know its freezing, but hello, curved hem matching ninja!??”

In all, I’m really happy with this shirt, patterns, fabric (& time!) are expensive, so finding something I love, that fits well, AND I know I can get multiple looks out of is a win!

It was a balmy 13 C when we took these pics, but we’ve a holiday approaching so lets just pretend that the sun had some actual warmth. I’m loath to complain too much given half the country is covered in snow …

Its a box, I’m a cat….really??

Stay warm (or cool, wherever you are )

Kristina xxx

* The pair of shoes I brought were $290 full price, discounted to $140 because there was a tiny rip in the leather on the strap. I took them to my trusty cobbler (I don’t mind buying expensive shoes but I expect them to last, a cobbler is your best friend for this)….anyway for $5 he glued and hammered the tear, its almost invisible (& who is going to get that close to my shoe???)…. I call that a bargain.



Kalle in the rain

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Singing Smiling in the rain!

Hello again! Its been a busy few weeks, but I have finally finished my lovely new frock and I couldn’t be more pleased. So pleased I braved Auckland drizzle to stand in my incredibly sad looking garden & listen to my husband complain about getting wet. The things I do for a picture…

My dress is the Kalle Shirt-dress,  a recent pattern from Closet Case Patterns.


I’ll be honest, when it first started popping up on my radar I wasn’t fully convinced. The cropped version would do me no favors at all, and the front of the dress seemed to short to be flattering for me. I haven’t made any of their patterns before , and being at the top end of the size range I was wary of sizing.

However after seeing a particularly nice version on my Facebook feed, with comments about how much ease the pattern has,  I decided to be brave & use some gorgeous Merchant & Mills linen from my stash. I know, most sensible people would make a toile in a cheaper fabric. Its something I’ve been thinking about after my recent “very pants pants” disasters! So what did I learn apart from “next time I think about trousers I’ll talk myself down and make another frock instead”? That I have limited sewing time. I work full time, and am married to someone who works even longer hours, if I spent evenings in my sewing room we would never see each other! So weekends it is, and the thought of spending a whole weekend making tester versions of something I cant then wear immediately makes me shudder. Maybe when I grow up and learn some patience….

As you can see, I added length , approx 5 cm back and front. And no, I haven’t got around to cleaning the deck yet, but as you can see I am thinking about it…

I’m so pleased I did, I love this dress! It super comfortable without drowning me in fabric, and despite my initial misgivings, I’m really pleased with the scooped hem. This was surprisingly easy to sew, I made bias tape for binding the hem from the same linen, I suspect using a more draped fabric might be slightly trickier but the effect is lovely.

I also really like the back pleat detail. There are two options, a box or inverted pleat, I went inverted and I’m really happy with it.


The sleeves have a flattering “kimono” shape, with a cuff . I was worried they would be too short but they actually hit lower down my arm, I can wear with a sweater underneath for the cold weather but I’d be comfortable wearing this in warmer weather without a cardigan or jacket. (I have a thing about sleeves!)

The pattern goes up to a size 20 (46/39/48) , I made an 18 & its fits really nicely, with plenty of ease. There are various placket options, I made the popover version, there is also a hidden and full button version. Best of all, there is a sewalong, which I found really helpful when I did the collar & placket.

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Its not that wet, honest!

So will I be making more Kalle’s? Definitely, I have plans for a shorter tunic version, I have a pretty red poplin that would look fabulous over jeans . I will be interested to see the effect a more sturdy fabric has.

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How cute??

As you can see, it rains a bit here in Auckland (its pouring as I type this). So I treated myself to a lovely orange Blunt umbrella, to brighten up a grey winter. It’s even been “Wellington” tested, and preformed admirably!*


*For overseas readers, our Capital city is known as Windy Wellington for VERY good reason….


Wellington hair….

Hope you have a lovely week, stay dry folks!

Kristina xxx

Turner for the weekend

‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now…

Well who could resist those feathers? After the debacle that was my attempt at pants, I really needed a successful sew to get me back on track. Something I could whip up in a weekend, wear to work Monday & not mess up . Or mess up much anyway…


Hello Turner dress! Now I’ll be totally honest, I brought this pattern on a whim. I was re watching a movie about the life of the British artist J M Turner, after a lovely day fabric shopping and lunching with a girlfriend. This perfect feather print knit was too good to resist ,clearly some random synapse fired somewhere in my pea brain & I remembered one of my fav pattern companies Cashmerette  had a pattern that would make the most of my purchase. Turns out I was actually thinking of the Upton, which is made with woven fabric but there you go…!

Ok, not fully convinced when the pattern arrived. I just wasn’t sure the “skater” style dress was right for me. After making a Tilly & the Buttons Bettine dress with its elastic gathering around the middle, I swore off anything that drew attention to my waist. Not only did I feel like Mrs Frumpy, the elastic kept riding up, causing me to adjust….I abhor wearing anything that requires “adjust”.

I love feathers, look, I can do them with my hands…!

But a long weekend (a extra day to sew direct from the Queen, whoop!) , my husband taking the car to visit his parents and a lather of indecision from moi meant I ended up sewing by default . Suitable Blue thread in the over-locker?  tick. No zips, button etc I need to purchase?  tick. Surely even I cant bugger up a pattern with four pieces? tick. Um….

So maybe pinning your sleeve at 9.30 pm after a couple of wines isn’t such a great idea…?

I managed to sew my sleeve on inside out (there may have been Chardonnay involved…), luckily for me I cut the sleeve a size 18, so trimming off the overlocking (if I ever meet the person who can actually unpick overlocking I’ll suggest they do do something easier like cure the common cold) still left me enough fabric to play with. Phew!

Swing! And I really must clean that deck…(its Winter here ‘kay!?)

Silly mistakes aside, this was actually a pretty easy sew. The Turner sewalong on the Cashmerette site is a real help. I haven’t done a lot of knit sewing, so any advice is always welcome particularly if, like me, you like a visual reference.

The pattern booklet is nice & clear, combined with the sewalong its hard to go wrong . I particularly appreciated the advice on grading, I ended up making a 16 bust, graded to a 20 waist & hips, with size 18 sleeves. Try finding that in RTW!??

This is effectively a wearable muslin. I totally admire sewists who make multiple muslin’s of patterns to get the fit just so. I also have enough self awareness to realize I’m not that person. Two muslin’s in & I’d be biffing that garment as far as I could, no matter how much I loved the pattern.

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Sneaky waist darts, because I’m the Rebel of the Sewing Room….

So when I attached the bodice to the skirt, with elastic to stabilize the knit I knew I had to go a little off piste. The waist was a good 3 cm too low (I’m very short waisted ) and about 2 cm to big. Also the elastic I used, a thicker woven because I’ve never seen clear elastic here in NZ, made the waist line all bobbly , even after ironing.

So once again I hacked off the overlocked elastic (seeing a theme here?), took a concrete pill & chopped a good 2 cm off the bodice. I knew I had to finish up with the feather over my right boob about a cm above the waist seam. Yep, that scientific…

After doing that I realized I would like to pinch the fabric in under my bust a little for a nice shape. I thought maybe a couple of small darts to pull the excess fabric in? Dear reader I actually googled “are darts done on knit fabric”. Even though I thought my dress looked nicer with the fabric pulled in, I still had to check with the internet brains to check it was actually acceptable….?! Thankfully I gave myself a good talking too & went ahead & did it anyway! Yep, I’m a rebel & I really never will be any good ….I think I could go down a size to 18 in my grading next time which would eliminate this issue going fwd. Possibly also with a narrow shoulder adjustment. Thank goodness for tracing patterns…

Never really got a handle on pattern matching then….

Would I recommend this pattern? Heck yeah, it’s an easy sew, the dress is so comfortable, the sleeve variation is great (hello holiday to the USA late this year…), its a keeper. The V neck may be a little low for some, I personally am fine with a hint of cleavage!

My photographer playing silly buggers!

Have you sewn a Turner? I shall be making more…

Kristina xxx

When pants really are…pants

Well, as I said in my previous post, this is a two part story. But be warned, it’s no fairy tale. In fact the sensitive reader may wish to avert their eyes at some of the more graphic images , in case sewing nightmares should ensue.

So what was I trying to achieve? Two pairs of crepe pants (in the trouser rather than undies sense) for my capsule wardrobe, a wide leg high waist navy blue version, and a simpler elastic waist version in a pretty plum colour. Sounds reasonable yes? Yeah……right.*

What I was aiming for (with a Tommy photobomb for good measure)

My first effort, Simplicity 8177. I haven’t made any Mimi G patterns before, but I really liked the idea of the You Tube tutorial for my first attempt at pants. I thought these would look fantastic in navy blue with the Ngaio blouse I (successfully) managed to make previously. The fabric was half price, and has the most wonderful drape, I could just see me rockin’ Katharine Hepburn minus the ciggy. I got this far.

This is my third attempt at zip insertion. Seriously.

I even watched the zip tutorial multiple times and still messed it up! Now I probably would have soldiered on, except for the fact these pants are HUGE. I means seriously wide, and far too big around the waist. I could wear these for a weekend away and carry all my additional luggage in each leg. With room for duty free. I’m baffled as I measured myself multiple times, and have used those measurements successfully on other patterns?

Now a saner person may have decided to leave the pants making and sew themselves a nice simple skirt, or a simple knit top maybe? Not I, instead, hey, lets throw a bit more fabric to the wind & make pants again. Pattern from a company I’ve never used before? Yes. Lovely expensive fabric I’ll be gutted to mess up? Yes. Already suspicious said fabric might be too flimsy & will make life difficult? Hell yes! What could go wrong?


Sailing perilously close to camel toe…you can almost hear my teeth grinding…

Style Arc  Daisy pants, or at least a bad version of. I wont show you the waist , there are enough horrors on the internet already, but suffice to say it ain’t pretty. The rise was a little short for me, particularly at the back, and I struggled to make the fold wide enough to cover all the elastic. The hem has move waves than my hair, not least because the pants were not long enough, and I thought adding the hem band as per the pattern would make matters worse. As if they could get much worse?

Enter a caption…maybe “delete please”

The pockets were not necessary, and difficult to sew with the fabric. They are also really low, which felt a bit odd. But I don’t think this is a particularly bad pattern, more a bad fabric choice and lack of some skills (Style Arc pattern instructions are sparse, to put it mildly). In linen, I suspect these would rock.

I finished the weekend feeling very deflated. In the grand scheme of things of course its no more than a couple of days and a few bucks of fabric, but I must admit to be decidedly grumpy on Sunday night. Quite why I thought I’d just rock into pants making without a toile or a care is unclear, but hubris is a harsh teacher!

O.M.G. I think my face sums it up nicely.

So my mini minuscule capsule wardrobe so far consists of one blouse. A wee way to go then…

In the interests of not being a complete Debbie Downer I thought I’d share the fabulous stash my lovely sister Dette sent me for my birthday. A magpie with the best taste, who does not need more fabric and more buttons? Who??

Yes, that is a cat button. Squeeeeeee!!!!

You may be wondering why I’d actually post this hot mess, but if I’m going to have a blog, it will be an honest one. I’d love you to think I’m someone who has it all down, but the reality is hits, misses and something in between. The good, the bad , the ugly….and the truly uncomfortable!

And you? Any disasters recently? If so, I hope this post makes you feel better , let some good come of this!

Kristina x


  • “Yeah, …..right” When something clearly hasn’t/didn’t/will never work. From a New Zealand ad a few years back, has to be uttered deadpan, preferably while looking both deeply skeptical and knowing at the same time, bonus points if you can simultaneously raise an eyebrow . Its almost an art form.



The 30’s are calling Ngaio…


Well its been a busy few weeks so I’ve actually split this rather looong post into two. I cant be responsible for my precious readers suffering DVT, so gripped by my sewing shenanigans they forget to move. Yeah right, anyway I celebrated my birthday weekend (because why a day when you can have three??), and have been working on my capsule wardrobe….with very mixed results. Very with a capital V.

As per my previous  post , I have selected fabrics to make up a mini capsule wardrobe for work. I’m an accountant for a city law firm, so while I have to be smart, I don’t need to go “full corporate” and wear a suit . I catch a train to work, so between walking to and from the station, home and my desk, high heels are not really my favorite option. The air con in the office is erratic at best, so even if its balmy outside, I may well have a cardigan (or my heater!) on, therefore layers are a plus. Needy much?

Talkin’ to me friend?

So, after all those considerations, and the fact we are heading into Winter here, what to sew? I played around with fabric combinations, and came up with some I liked. Then I needed to think about what actual patterns to make up. I have quite a few patterns, but some were brought more in the spirit of enthusiasm than any actual consideration for what I want/like to wear, and what makes me feel good. So what did I come up with?

How could I resist , seriously

I loved the style of the Ngaio  blouse as soon as I saw it. That bust line is so flattering, and the pattern has a sleeve option. I was also taken with the name! Dame Ngaio Marsh was a NZ born crime writer , one of the four “Queens of Crime, along side Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers and of course, Agatha Christie. I am an avid fan of Golden Age crime (and crime writing in general) so how could I resist? I’ve made Scroop patterns before, I personally love the aesthetic, just a little bit different.

I ADORE this pattern! The bust is so well fitted, the sleeves required NO adjustment (yes, really), and the drape over the hips and tum is really comfortable. I used a polyester fabric, which feels surprising nice to wear. I’m not normally a fan of synthetics but I just loved the floral print , it feels very vintage to me.

Flowers & sleeves for Autumn


The Girls are lookin’ fine…but yes I really must buy eye cream…

On the advice of Leimomi on the website I actually made up a small A-B bust, and I’m so glad I did, the fit is spot on. Naturally I was apprehensive, just because she designed the pattern I know my cup size better right? Um, no. The pattern has three cup sizes, up to F+. The size range is broad, the largest being 50-44-54, with plenty of ease in the fit (and no bicep adjustment required, have I mentioned that?)

I love the 30’s vibe of this blouse, so I thought Id combine it with a wide leg pant, very “episode of Poirot” (I told you I love Golden age crime). And dear reader, that’s where things get complicated…

In the next installment we shall talk wide leg pants, and the emotional involvement a great pair of pants entails…

Bear with folks x

We, of my generation anyway, lost part of our soundtrack this week, I’ll leave you with my personal favorite , RIP Chris Cornell, you will be missed xxx