Pembroke into Christmas…


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I do pre-wash my fabric!

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

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

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

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

Cuff love…

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

Binding love…

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

So, Xmas sewing for me, anyone else?


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

Laundered linen with rib

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

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

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

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

Kristina x




Montrose and the builders…


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

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

Was I really here…?

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

Hangin on my new deck…

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

Staring at the wall…as you do.

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

Sleeve tuck…and check out that tan.:)

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

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

Before shot!

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

First world problems.

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

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

Miri Kirihimete !

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


Kristina x



Twin Fielders for my hols…kinda


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

Bliss 🙂

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

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

Well I think it works anyway!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Flat neckline, get me eh?!


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

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

Anyway, Bula!

Kristina x




Linen for the winnin’ Eva


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

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


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

Full arm movement possible!

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

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

No rear cling, we like that…

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

Guardedly optimistic my hair is still under control…

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

Approx 473 miles of seams & top stitching 🙂

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

Just hangin’ with my pockets as you do

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Food. Now.

Kristina x







Charlie ditches the Seventies…

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

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

Image result for margo the good life

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


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

Such hilarity in my hedge?!

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

Channeling 70’s shampoo commercial, wont lie…

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

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

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

Darts in there somewhere!

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

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



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

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

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

I will also make the damn ties!

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

Kristina x






Winter in Sapporo…


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

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


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

“Chic & Mysterious “

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

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

These fabrics!

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

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

Why yes that is a proper lining thanks…

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


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

I do love those seams…

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

Lush silk

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

Trying to make it look colder than it actually is…

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

Coat making? Do it.

Kristina x



Pippi is no school girl now…


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

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


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

Eyes on me not the deck thanks!!!

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

I like this silhouette

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

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

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

Crazy cat lady lives here…

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

I do love pretty lining!

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


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

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

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

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

Kristina x

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

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




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…



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!


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