Another round with Lenox


Singin’ in the rain on my grubby deck!

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

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

It’s finished!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Yep, Mum noticed…

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

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


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

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

Skim skim skim…

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

I think we can say that’s a fail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal whisperer x

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

Kristina x


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




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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?









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

Springfield for Autumn

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I didn’t intend to make a sleeveless top for Autumn. I didn’t intend to make one for Summer either if I’m honest. Like my mother, her mother, and doubtless many of my ancestors I have “sturdy” arms. The kind that render much of what is on offer on the High Street unwearable (or in some memorable cases, “untryonable”. Oh friends, the indignity of being stuck in the changing rooms at Gap, in a misguided shirt-dress moment, my arms stuck in the air like some tragic 90’s throwback, unable to free myself because of a skimpy bicep allowance!)

So when Jenny at Cashmerette patterns released her Springfield top last year, I was less than excited. Or so I thought…

I’ve worked in many interesting buildings in my time, the one thing they have in common?* Terrible Air Conditioning. To pay for my fabric habit, I’m an accountant for a law firm in a rather swish building in the Auckland CBD. On any given day at my desk I can be freezing, sweltering or pleasantly temperate…

How does one dress for this, in Auckland’s already notoriously changeable weather? I like to call it Cautiously Optimistic. I’m cautiously optimistic I’m dressed appropriately, just in case I’ll take a cardigan/jacket/umbrella/socks/sunscreen…

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My solution? layers . Its a bit of a uniform, pants (in the non-knickers sense of the word UK readers), a pretty top/blouse and a cardigan, often topped off with a scarf of some sort. I tend to avoid jackets , they are usually made from woven fabric and often the arms end up being so tight I cant lift my coffee cup….and I really need that coffee ok?

After reading Jules’ post about Planning to Sew , and realizing I couldn’t even begin to plan without organizing my stash , I had a big sort out. Several things I learnt (besides I need to stop buying fabric & patterns for  while?)

One, throwing out all the UFO/Disaster projects I’ve been holding on too because I like the fabric, is good juju…

Two, almost all of my disasters are in rayon

Three….I need to get better at sewing rayon before I commit even more fabric carnage…

A simple pattern I could make in rayon, in my size, which would look great under layers? Why hello Springfield…

IMG_20170421_194949_305 (1)

First up a toile. In my wisdom I decided to ignore what I learnt making my Dartmouth top, and instead cut a straight size 18. Nope, no idea what I was thinking either.

As my toile ended up a little big around the bust (surprise!), I followed the instructions from the Cashmerette sew along here , and graded the pattern at the bust & waist for a much better fit.

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80’s power ballad moment…

For this version I didn’t do the Princess seams at the back, the fabric is so drapey I thought the looser flowing cut would work better.

Its a simple sew, although I did take the time to do French Seams, and I was super careful with my binding (hint, stay stitching and LOADS of pins are really important when binding slippery fabric!)

“The inside should be as pretty as outside” – my Mother

I’m really happy with this top, I love it with jeans as per the pics, for work I have navy blue pants & nude patent heels that will work a treat. It feels lovely to wear, and the floral print elevates a super simple shape into something a little more special.

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Jenny has released a Pattern Hack course for this top, I already have a V neck faced version lined up, and that’s just the start…

Open kimono: I wont lie, I agonized over these pictures, do I really want my bare arms online?? Arms quite frankly I wish looked better/firmer/more tanned…. Talking the talk about body positively is one thing, walking the walk, online, bare biceps banging in the breeze, is quite another. It feels a bit weird, but the reality is, while I still covet Michelle Obama biceps, they are never going to be mine. Accept and move on…

Gap moment recreation/flashback!?

Kristina xxx

* One of my first jobs in London was in an old building (that’s UK old, like properly old!), the Air Con consisted of opening the windows. The older gentleman who managed the office liked the blinds down, some issue with light on his screen apparently….but one day, in a fit of heat induced rebellion I opened a blind, and guess what was out the window? The most glorious view of St Paul’s Cathedral, the dome was literally glistening in the sunshine. I gasped, it was the most fabulous sight, which I enjoyed it for a full forty five seconds until I was politely asked to please lower the blind…

Another day, another Dartmouth

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I’ve just realized I dont need to iron this top….oh yeah!

In what could well be a first, I not only made a muslin, I then took onboard some advice & altered my pattern for the next make. What a difference it makes!

While I was actually pretty happy with my first Dartmouth ,  it was a wee bit loose around the bust. I am often bang on pattern waist & hip measurements, but slightly smaller in the bust. In this instance the difference was exactly one size, so I put my big girl pants on & bravely graded between the bust & waist. Actually it wasn’t particularly tricky, I just drew a (hopefully curvy not wobbly ?) line between size 16 down to 18 at the waist. I think it worked a treat!

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Well it made sense to me…

The fabric is a sumptuous drape  Liberty jersey in a wonderful “splatter” print. Now I wont lie, this fabric is pricey. Enough to make me take the trouble to get my fit right before I cut into it, even then I had to have a few sips of Chardonnay to get me on my way (just a few sips, sewing while lashed will generally always end in tears/lacerations)

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Just standing around in heels in the garden as you do…

I’m thrilled with the result. Ironing? In my house that’s Mr PK on his special ultra tall & wide American ironing board  , slowing (glacially!!) doing his shirts watching NRL on a Sunday (you should have seen his face when I slipped my new fav dress onto the ironing pile) . Me at 7 am? Jersey please. A perfect top for work with nice pants , or the weekend with jeans. I love the higher neckline, flattering but totally work appropriate for a law firm. I like the length,  long enough for no ride up issues as I  dont tend to tuck, but with skirts it might work a little shorter.

More jersey please!?

Kristina xxx


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P.S What I do when I’m not sewing/baking/dodging housework? Make headboards of course. This weekends project, a one day workshop with my BFF, so much fun! If your in NZ check out Mollies Make & Create for details.



Dartmouth for Wonder Woman…

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Sparkle in the garden…as you do

Its been a tricky sewing week, after a  couple of misses earlier on I finally listened to those much smarter than I and made a muslin! Impatience, combined with a certain amount of “she’ll be right” have previously ensured I throw caution (and in some cases rather lovely fabric) to the wind. Then I brought some delicious Liberty jersey from my favorite fabric store and realized if I mucked this up I would actually cry . Or swear. Or both.

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How cute??!!

When I saw Cashmerette’s latest pattern Dartmouth, a stylish crossover knit top with three sleeve options, I knew I needed to get back on the knit wagon. I’ve had two previous attempts and made a complete mess of both, mainly due to bad fabric choices. Confident the Liberty would be gorgeous, but less confident in my ability not to make a complete Horlicks of the whole sew I turned to some cheap but cute Spotlight knit. Not quite the same stretch as the jersey, but at least I would have an idea of the fit.

And most importantly? GOLD STARS! Who doesn’t want a gold star? Or a whole heap in my case.

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I’m wearing gold stars,  from now on I shall be known as Wonder Woman  x

I recently went on a weekend Overlocking (Serging) workshop at my local sewing store, it was brilliant, and gave me the confidence to actually know what adjusting the tension, stitch length etc will do…….rather than fiddling around with various knobs and hoping for the best. That said, its still very much a learning curve…

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Pick a width, any width…

It certainly isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty happy with the size and  shape. The neckline certainly isn’t as snug as it should be, and I possibly need to adjust the bust size .

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Neck not quite right

I love a three quarter sleeve, although my twin needle stitching needs (much) work. But its a lovely comfy style, great with jeans or dressed up for work. Ok maybe not the gold stars for work…

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Just a hint of an Elvis style cape, circa 1976!

Cant wait to get cracking with my Liberty! How about you, can you see Dartmouth’s in your wardrobe?

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Kristina xxx

Birthday lovely…


Now you’re probably wondering, does this woman make anything but shirts & shirt dresses? I do! But this particular make was for my sisters birthday (in December, so I’m only two months late…). It was originally going to be this pattern, but when Cashmerette  released an extension to their popular Harrison shirt (see my version here), I decided to give that a crack instead. I think it turned out pretty well!

The pattern was released as a sleeveless dress, but the birthday girl definitely wanted sleeves. A sleeve guide to insert the original long sleeve was later released , but as its the middle of summer here in New Zealand, we decided to do short sleeves instead.


Oh sleeves. I do sound like a woman obsessed , but upper arm coverage is a serious business people! I’m still learning the ins and outs of arm syncs & such things, so I decided to use the Harrison shirt sleeve but make my own hack from this pattern , cutting it at elbow length and adding the faux cuff. Wrinkly elbow optional obviously.


Now buttons. Buttons , buttons and more buttons. While I dont mind doing 16 buttons holes, I do appreciate doing it with my lovely wizz bang Janome, the old Toyota might have sent me over the edge….! The cute wooden buttons are from Spotlight, at first I balked at so many small buttons, but actually the quantity meant no annoying gaping.

The princess seams give a nice fit over the bust, although I did trim some excess fabric off the hips , I think over all the sizing is true to the pattern measurements.


So, the curvy:

Harrison shirt dress by Cashmerette

Size: 20- true to size

Fabric: Chambray from Miss Maude

Difficulty: Just be careful tracing off the arm sync, all the matchy matchy stuff matters when it comes to arm holes/sleeves

Next time: I would again trim the hip seams, as they were a touch wide across, and make the collar a little smaller

Fuel: This make was fueled by Chardonnay & sister hustle!.

Will there be a sequel? I’m already planning one for myself…

So, shirt dress yes? Have I convinced you??

Kristina xxx

A Harrison shirt to begin…

Just proving I really can lift my arm, the sleeve fits!

Well look at me, a new shirt and a new blog, all in one week! Now I will fess up, this isn’t technically my first shirt make. I made a Colette Negroni shirt for Mr PK a few months ago (post to come). While it’s far from perfect (unless twisted plackets become a “thing”, in which case I’m ahead of the game) it has proved a hit , worn regularly through winter.

But here’s the thing, my man is basically a walking mannequin. By that I mean he is such a standard menswear shape he can wear almost any RTW item with no alteration required. Tall and  lean, I didn’t really have any fit challenges with his shirt. My shape? Now that’s a whole new ball game kids…curves, bumps, squishy bits, flatter bits, its a virtual Himalayas for what is already a complicated piece of clothing to negotiate!

Hence, I haven’t actually worn shirts for years. A combination of generous chest , narrow shoulders and shall we say “lush” biceps mean unless I’m happy to flash my bra through a gaping bust or risk my arms falling off from lack of oxygen , they are a no go.

No gaping here thanks…

But no longer *insert wobbly but awesome arm fist-pump here,  yeow!!*. The very clever Jenny at the curvy girl nirvana that is  Cashmerette has come up with a gorgeous shirt that uses princess seams to create fit and room where its needed, without billows of fabric everywhere you dont.

I used the paper pattern (it also comes as a PDF) , which I traced off onto Swedish tracing paper. Currently I get this sent from the UK, but hopefully I can find a New Zealand supplier soon. It is so easy to use, I cut the pattern a size 18, but graded up to a size 20 for the sleeves. While its does look like a lot of pieces, it comes together quite easily, not least because of the GREAT instruction booklet.

Clear instructions

For less experienced sewers like me, clear precise instructions, both written and pictorial are essential. I have spent many years cooking and baking, including writing a food blog and teaching cooking classes, and one thing I’ve noticed is how a newbie will almost always blame themselves if a recipe fails. Now forgetting the eggs is going to make a cake a challenge to rise (??!) but I’ve also seen some seriously crapola recipes, with missing ingredients, confused or missing instructions and incorrect proportions that would be a challenge for anyone, experienced or not, to create successfully. Something as complex as a shirt needs a darn fine recipe, and the Harrison is a cracker.

The princess seams come together without too much drama *, as does the collar and stand, even the placket instructions are simple (I’ve ditched the twisted look for Summer 17). I used a soft cotton voile, which was nice and easy to sew, overlocking (serging) my seams . Obviously I made no attempt at pattern matching , I’m more wild flower meadow kind of girl anyway ….

So, the curvy:

Harrison shirt by Cashmerette

Size: 18, but I cut out size 20 sleeves

Fabric: Cotton voile from Spotlight

Difficulty: This wasn’t actually that difficult, the instructions are good, I think its a case of taking things slowly and not rushing the process. I hardly used my quick unpick, aside from a missed bit of the cuff seam when top stitching, which is great.

Next time: I would make the sleeve approx 2 cm shorter, they feel a wee bit long, and I would tighten the cuffs up.

Hmmm, a wee bit long, a wee bit loose

Fuel: This make was fueled by coffee (my sister left her Nespresso with us for a few weeks after Xmas!) , Xmas ham and episodes of Foyles War , those fabulous 40’s dresses…..

Will there be a sequel? Heck yes, I’m thinking rayon and linen versions….for starters…AND there is now also a shirtdress version , happy dance!

*** Open Kimono***

Ok, in the interests of full disclosure , I can confirm I made a load of absolute cock ups on this sew, all fully operator error (actually I blame my cat Tommy for distracting me constantly……)

Cutting out the wrong sized sleeve, despite having measured myself carefully

Stitching my seam on the outside of two of my front panels

Running out of fabric after above….

Ironing my interfacing on the right side of one of my collar pieces (really!!)

Cutting the bottom off my button front an inch too short

Hmmm, sewing impediment Numero Uno

Are you a shirt maker? What works for you, I’d love to hear!

Kristina xxx