My Assembly Line finally gets moving…

The sun is out!

Winter has well & truly arrived. Yes I did have to scrape ice off the windscreen the other morning. Mr PK & I have already had our annual “how to operate the heat pump” argument. I favor leaving it on all the time at a lower temp (also recommended by the installer), he is all about turning it off & on as required. So basically it will be operated with passive aggressive turning off and on in an extremely inefficient manner until September. Happy days!

So why am I wearing a relatively summery style dress then?

I cut this Assembly Line Box Please dress out about 10 Degrees ago, but never got around to making it up. My sewjo has been somewhat lacking recently, the pieces sat in my To Be Done basket making me feel bad before we had a really wet weekend & I finally got around to some sewing. It is quite a quick sew, even for me.

This dress is a winner. I choose a rayon from Spotlight , it has the prefect drape for this style. The shape is simple, but as with other Assembly Line patterns, it’s all about the details. I love the box pleat feature, which gives the dress wonderful movement, and the split hem. Pockets of course, and the sleeves are a really nice shape, loose enough I can layer with a merino top underneath. Boots & tights make this perfect for work, but when the weather warms up it will work equally well with sandals or sneakers, and a denim jacket .

I made a size XL with no alterations, next time I would do a small forward shoulder adjustment, but other than that I’m happy, another winner from The Assembly Line. The patterns are not cheap, but the aesthetic is definitely me,  I got this one & The Oversized Shirt from Miss Maude  which I’m really keen to make next (yay for sewjo!) 

I’ve gone a bit mad planting onions apparently…

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

Wife of the Year Award…

I FINALLY made up the Pajamas I promised Mr PK approx. four years ago. These are the Eastwood Pajamas by Thread Theory in beautiful soft Double Gauze also from Miss Maude. They are a huge hit, so much so I have now been asked to make a linen pair for Summer. He’s given me months of warning, wise man.

I saw this book Modern Quilting on the Merchant & Mills social media feed , they have provided offcuts of linen for the author Julius Arthur to use in his quilts for the book. I love the style & colours, I’ve never tried quilting before, quilting cotton always seemed a bit “in your face” for me, but these quilts are much more subdued. I enjoy listening to the Haptic & Hue podcast on my commute, this episode, talking about the Gee’s Bend quilters in Alabama was particularly interesting. 

Don’t laugh, its my first attempt!

My first attempt is a quilt for my cat to sit on, I figure start small while I figure out the techniques! Yes, I have much to learn. Tuppence is trying to be encouraging but not sure she is fully convinced her new rug will be a match for the hideous fleece number currently on the end of the spare bed.

Tuppence not sure about my quilting abilities.

We had a lovely time a few weeks back celebrating my Mother in Laws 80th birthday with a family lunch followed by tea & cake. No pressure making the cake then. I was really pleased with how it came out, a vanilla cake sandwiched with fresh passionfruit curd & passionfruit buttercream, yum. Our passionfruit vine was prolific over summer so I had the pulp in my freezer, I know, very Martha Stewart of me.

I spent a whole weekend sorting & moving my cookbooks onto one big bookcase (which I had to paint first). It was hard yakka but deeply satisfying, I love my little reading nook, and the book covers won’t fade in the corner of the lounge. Such a treat being able to find a recipe book without searching three different bookcases in different parts of the house. And yes, I may well have a few too many cookbooks.

I’m especially pleased as this is a very personal little spot. The couch & chairs came from my husbands parents Bach, I had them recovered . The lamp was also from the Bach, I’m still deciding on a cover for the shade. My sister gave me the wonderful French print on the wall, and made the applique cushion on the couch. I made the cushion on the chair from a tea towel Glenn’s Grandmother brought for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953 . The crochet blanket is from a charity shop. Nothing matched or particularly expensive but it’s comfortable & I love it.

I hope you are staying warm (or cool!) wherever you are, in the meantime I’d like to give a special shout out to the genius that invented heated seats in cars.

Sir or Madam, I salute you!

Kristina xxx

Getting Shirty with Waikerie (and maybe a tiny bit sweary)

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Hello from the jungle that is my vege garden. As you can see the caterpillars are making a feast of my cauliflower plants, the caulis themselves have been a bit of a disaster so I’m leaving them to it. The cabbages however are going great guns, if you like coleslaw & wind, my house is the place to be!

It’s been a quiet few weeks here at Plum Towers, perfect for tackling what must be one of my most challenging projects yet, the Waikerie Dress  , from Muna & Broad. This is an extension to their Waikerie Shirt pattern, and I should note, not an especially complicated pattern, particularly given the excellent instructions & the You Tube sewalong .

So why so challenging? Well friends, I had a vision. Not a “Joan of Arc” type vision (although given the state of 2020 so far, quite frankly ANYTHING is possible), but a very particular idea of a dress I wanted, inspired in part by a dress a colleague has been wearing. It’s a brown animal print chiffon number, not to fitted but not super loose, midi length with long sleeves. I found the following pics as inspiration on Pinterest, I think they are Zara.

 

I knew the right fabric would be critical to stop me veering into “she’s wearing her nightie” territory, so I was VERY pleased to come across the perfect animal print chiffon on the bargain table at Spotlight. I’m a sucker for animal print, but I don’t normally love polyester (Sweaty Betty raise your hand…) I figured the print was spot on and the price even better ($8 a metre, whoop), so even if it ended up being a total disaster I wouldn’t feel too aggrieved.

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Sooo lovely to wear 🙂

So was it a total disaster ? Absolutely not, I’m thrilled with this dress, and how close it is to what I originally had in mind. Did I love the process? Mostly. Did I make a couple of absolute clangers that had me reaching for a bucket of Chardonnay? Dear reader, would you expect anything less?

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In my defence, chiffon is tricky! Poly chiffon has a bounce that makes it harder to deal with than say silk, but with all the slippery minx qualities of both silk & satin. The edges fray into annoying little bits , plus it’s rather sensitive to heat , but more on that later (sensitive readers be warned, it’s really quite terrible…)

BUT, it has a fab drape, a super fun design, and is inexpensive. Given I was making View A with long sleeves, and needed a generous 4 metres of fabric, cheap was good, if it all ended up a terrible mess I hadn’t emptied my sewing account for naught (don’t laugh, I really do have a separate savings account called the Fabric Fund:)

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The first drama was cutting out. Lets just say cats, a slightly blunt pair of scissors & metres of slippery fabric are NOT the ideal combination. I did use a new technique to me, and interfaced my piece of fabric BEFORE cutting out my facings & collar, the interfacing made the fabric so much easier to deal with, and saved time. I can highly recommend  The Fabric Store iron on interfacing, various weights, sold by the metre and it doesn’t come away from the fabric .

I’ve used Muna & Broad patterns before , including a wonderful cami & pants combo and their fab Torrens top, so I knew roughly where I should be size wise. I made the Size C, which I knew to be a few inches smaller than my hip measurement, but the final garment measurements indicated plenty of ease through the hips so I went for it. I also drove to work on Friday with the petrol light on, and didn’t fill up until I was half way home Friday night. I live life on the edge hey!

The bodice & collar came together much more easily than I anticipated, I did take my time, using French seams where I could. A reader on Instagram suggested using starch & water to stiffen the fabric when sewing & I will definitely try that next time. But if there is one thing I’d recommend to a newbie when sewing this kind of fabric it’s use a busy print, way more forgiving then a sheer plain that shows every flaw!

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I originally intended to have long cuffed sleeves, but when the dress was made up it just felt a bit “much”. So I took inspiration from my colleagues dress & used an elastic hem, but on shortened sleeves. The elastic draws the volume of fabric gently in, I think its a better silhouette given the volume in the dress itself.

Things started to get hairy when I attached the dress to the bodice, that is a LOT of gathered chiffon. The bottom of the bodice was also fraying terribly, next time I would add a narrow line of interfacing as soon as I cut the pieces out, by the time I added it there was already a lot of hairy fabric . Sewing the dress to the bodice went reasonably well until I then went to overlock the seam (French seams had gone out the window by then!) I discovered a small area where I had caught the seam with the overlocker. Out came the unpicker, surely my most used sewing tool. Sigh.

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My superpower.

All was going well. Then it wasn’t. A small rip had appeared right where the bodice meet the dress. Not ideal, but not a total disaster. I thought I would add a small piece of interfacing, then hand sew the tear together. So what do you think happens when you add a too hot iron (I swear it was on the wool setting but apparently not…) to a polyester fabric, when you are so busy focusing on a small area, oblivious to what else your lovely iron is currently singeing? This.

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No (repeatable) words.

I was surprisingly calm. A couple of fairly heavy duty swear words, and then somewhere a few synapses fired and I remembered we were dealing with a bodice here. I had omitted the side seam pockets from the original pattern, thinking chiffon was just too light , but maybe Cinderella would go to the Pocket Ball after all…

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Camouflage pocket…literally!

It was a pain in the butt to sew, but I’m so glad I did! I reinforced both sides of the hole with interfacing so it wouldn’t get any bigger, then covered with a square pocket. Discovering the rolled hem function on my overlocker was another win, not only did I edge the pockets before sewing onto my bodice, but it was a lovely finish on my hem , approximately three miles of it.

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Hiding under the seat…

I’m so pleased with this project, I used a fabric that I knew would challenge me, produced something that, while no means perfect, I’m actually really happy with and learnt some new techniques for next time, that is a win surely? Just don’t let me stand anywhere near an open flame…

Just incase you think I’m a totally rubbish gardener, may I present my cabbage. Don’t hear that every day do you?

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I think this was taco night (so many cabbage nights…)

Next project? I found this glorious linen at The Fabric Store, its a vintage wash so quite soft, and how about that colour (called Marmalade)  They have recently released a robe pattern, so in an effort to up my tragic nightwear game (scrubby tees & pants for the win? No…) I have downloaded the Lucie Robe  , perfect shape & generous sizing. I was heading to the counter (honest!) when I spied 20% off on Liberty , so thought maybe a lovely tana lawn for a nightie/PJ situation? I’ve never sewn tana lawn , but gosh it feels beautiful, most important for night wear (there’s a reason so many of us wear those worn tees, they are so soft) This fabric jumped out at me, doesn’t that just say Spring?

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Gorgeous !

Lounge wear fabulous here I come…

Have a lovely week friends, stay safe xxx

Kristina

 

 

Snaking through summer with Wiksten

 

 

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Ok, despite the evidence to the contrary it really is summer here. Yes, my legs are capable of inducing snow blindness (“milk bottles” my friends charming Dad used to call them) but with a UV rating hitting 12 today, which indicates a burn time of approx. 12 minutes, pink is about the best I’m ever likely to manage. I’ll be moaning when it cools down of course… #neverhappy

Anyway, it’s hot, so a lovely cool rayon dress is just the ticket. Even better,  I’ve discovered a new form of animal print, snake! While it would be some peoples worst nightmare (including a dear friend who cant even watch the slithery reptiles on TV with cringing), I’m quite taken with this print.  Spotlight has really upped their game with prints, plus I picked this up on sale, yay.

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The pattern is the tunic version of the Wiksten top I made recently. After looking at the finished measurements & reading a few reviews the dress version has more ease than the top. I debated sizing down, but decided a loose fit would really work with this light fabric, so I cut another straight size 20.

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I really like the back of this dress

Unlike the top, the Wiksten dress has a yoke & gathering on the back, this is ideal for me as my butt sticks out, so anything longer than hip length needs that bit of extra fabric to avoid cling.

Now, the one part of this fab pattern that did give me pause for thought? Pockets.

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No hair clips here , move along…

Despite the fact I don’t often put anything other than hands in my pockets, I like to have them. Actually I do have a history carrying hair clips. This led to an expensive plumbing bill when I forgot to take them out of my pants , buggering up the washing machine. From memory there was a very grumpy husband involved…

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Embrace the flop!

I wasn’t sure how such a soft fabric would work in pocket form. So you’d think I would have the sense to at least interface the pieces yes? Well, no actually. This led to much “pocket flop” angst. I asked the considered opinions of the folks on Instagram (my most favorite social media platform, I don’t care what anyone says) and the general consensus was either attach a button or go with it. When I attempted adding a button the weight was too much for the fabric, so instead, I’m embracing the flop. Not often you hear that eh…?

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This is a great summer dress, loose but not TOO loose, it’s really comfortable to wear, either to the supermarket with sneakers, or thrown over a pair of togs at the beach. If I went to the beach, which to be honest I don’t often do. The sand, the heat, the midges…sometimes I wonder if I’m actually a proper Kiwi. I don’t even like jandals?!

Then I remember how ridiculously proud I’ve been when travelling if literally anything NZ comes up . I’m sure it isn’t unique to New Zealanders, but that thing when you’re from a smaller nation & something pops up that makes you think of home. When Mr PK & I went to live in the UK literally the first thing we did after getting off the plane at Heathrow was get to our hotel, dump the bags & jump on the Tube (the Tube, I was so excited!) to Wembley stadium for Wales v the All Blacks . Actually is that not peak New Zealand, getting off a plane in a new country & going straight to a rugby game…?

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Me in the DHL corporate box , right on the half way line at Eden Park, watching the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup with Tana Umaga. Yep, I’d peaked!

 

Anyway,  the national anthems played & I managed about two lines of God of Nations before getting all chocked up. This was 1997 so singing the anthems first in Te Reo & then English was quite new. I went to Manurewa East primary school in South Auckland and we always sung the national anthem that way, so despite my limited knowledge of the Maori language I could actually sing this.

To be honest my emotional response was great for anyone sitting around me, I might know the words but even my cats sound better, howling at the dog next door.

What makes you think of home when you are travelling?

 

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In other news, it’s the summer of tomatoes! This is an heirloom variety called Black Krim Very delicious but be warned, the plants grow large. This one took over the garden.

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Perfect for this super simple tart. Take a square of puff pastry & cut 2-3 cm strips off another square , the length of your sides. Place one on each side of your large square to form a border. I used a little bit of water brushed underneath to make the pieces stick.

Spread over some pesto, then thinly sliced courgette (zucchini) and tomato. Season well, then dot over little chunks of goat cheese & a grating of Parmesan . Bake at 200 C for approx 15 mins until the pastry is crisp & golden . Delicious with a green salad & a cheeky glass of white wine. I had intended to sprinkle on some pine nuts before baking but I forgot them.  Feta would also work well if you don’t like goat cheese.

Right , off to cook dinner , otherwise known as throw a slab of protein on the BBQ & compose a salad. Pour a glass of chilled Chard. Summer!

Kristina x

 

 

A dress shirt on holiday in Nantucket…

 

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My Father had the slightly unusual habit of naming some of his clothes. Especially if they came from far flung destinations. The purple shirt I sent back from the UK was forever his “Chelsea shirt” (I’m not actually sure where I brought it but he knew the footie team!) . The green number my sister picked up when she worked in Aussie was of course his “Sydney”, occasionally paired with the tartan cheese-cutter (NZ speak for a flat cap) sent all the way from Scotland . He may well have been drinking some of the same. Anyway, in the spirit of my dear Dad & his wonderful eccentricities I give you my Nantucket dress.

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Now despite having no actual connection to Nantucket , I think its a perfectly appropriate name. But first the details . If you are a regular reader (thanks!) , you will recognize this as the marvelous Merchant & Mills Dress shirt, which I have made several times before, here in paprika linen and here in navy blue linen. Can we see a theme?

Linen. My most favorite fabric. I know for a lot of people the wrinkles are a problem, but I love it in all it’s forms. Crisp Irish linen, lovely soft laundered linen, creases & all.  The simplicity of a white linen shirt . Ok I don’t actually wear white linen shirts (except when I’m in an Italian restaurant about to eat some drippy & loaded with tomato, when it’s weirdly inevitable) but I love the look.

So when I saw this glorious soft striped linen at Marthas I knew immediately it would be perfect for a summer garment. It wasn’t cheap, but because its curtain fabric, it is 2.7m wide. Yes, unlike this  garment, where I was accused of cutting up the curtains, in this case I really AM wearing the curtains. I’m fine with that thanks.

I had originally intended to make the Caroline PJ’s, but rather than looking like an extra from Prison Break (“pass me the mint sauce kids,  I’m on the lam!”) I figured a gorgeous shirt dress would be prefect.

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Me wishing I was on hols right now…

So why Nantucket? Mr PK & I spent a blissful few weeks in the USA a couple of years ago driving from Providence , Rhode Island to Boston, with stops in Newport & Hyannis along the way. We’d celebrated a friends 40th birthday in New York, then my sister traveled with us to Washington for a fabulous few days visiting museums, eating & drinking. She left us at Dulles, (after realizing she was actually flying out of Ronald Reagan airport , whoops) & we flew to Rhode Island. Like many I’ve always been fascinated by the Kennedy’s, Jackie O and the whole Camelot story. Hyannis was a must stop. I’d heard about Nantucket, it sounded a bit like visiting Waiheke Island here in Auckland, good food & wine, nice scenery , so we rocked up for the 10 am ferry on a gorgeous September Sunday.

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I like ferry’s. I’m not a sailor, I like my boats BIG, preferably so big I don’t really realize I’m on the water but ferry’s are usually not going too far, not going too fast, and they often have a cafe/bar. Nice. So very soon after the ferry left the dock & I saw an orderly queue forming I figured that must be the cafe, we could enjoy a coffee* & watch the sights. I was a tad slow, there were already 10-12 people ahead of me. I didn’t notice immediately but after about the fifth person ordered a Bloody Mary, I began to wonder. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no judgy judgy type when it comes to booze, I like my tipple (or ten) as much as the next girl. It just wouldn’t have ever occurred to me to order a cocktail on a 10 am ferry anywhere. Naturally my FOMO* kicked in, when I got to the front of the queue of course I forgot the coffee and ordered a Bloody Mary.

Well! How often in the average bar to you get asked what vodka you’d like in your cocktail? Because you do on fancy pants ferry’s down Nantucket way. Each cocktail was made from scratch, customized & delivered to your hot little hand pronto. I was MOST impressed. Of course when I got back to our seat Mr PK was most perplexed. Not just because there was no coffee forthcoming, but also because I don’t actually like Bloody Marys. But if I did, I’d get on that damn ferry every weekend!

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I know, those stripes…I tried ok!

Nantucket was glorious. In fact if someone had popped out from behind a hydrangea & yelled “cut” I would not have been surprised , it does feel almost like a movie set. The church was setting up for a wedding, flowers everywhere , but we were allowed to go in & wander around. The organist was finishing his practice & stopped to say hello, as soon as he heard our accent he asked if we were from New Zealand. He had traveled there as a student & had a lovely time. I brought the church fundraising cookbook (I LOVE them, and pick them up wherever we go, such interesting social history as much as anything) . Now I won’t lie, it sure isn’t diversity central, and to be honest I’m not sure I’d actually want to live there (as I’ve said about many wonderful spots we visited), but for a fun day looking at houses & a Ralph Lauren fantasy lifestyle I would never afford it was fascinating.

So in her honor, my lovely frock is the Nantucket, to be worn while riding a bike past ridiculously lovely houses (we did hire bikes & rode around the Island, wow!) , down to the water & to sip wine & eat seafood , oh yes.

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Me riding around Nantucket!

I made the same adjustments to this one as my paprika version, I was worried the extra length could get me into night dress territory but I think it’s ok. Instead of a front pleat I gathered the fabric, I wasn’t sure how the stripe matching would work on the front bib with a pleat. As we can see it didn’t work anyway, stripe matching ISN’T my forte and lets just move along shall we? I thought it would bother me more, but the casual style of the fabric & the dress means I don’t think its a huge problem. If it is making your eye twitch just looking I apologize profusely.

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Tommy on his fav spot on the pizza oven…

I’m really looking forward to swanning around in my dress this summer, in my head I’m visiting a cute farmers market before picking up a bottle of something delicious & wandering home to throw together a simple yet exquisite lunch, which we eat in the garden over witty yet relevant conversation.

In reality I’ll be trawling the aisle at my local New World & sitting in a humid heap on my deck eating yet more bloody ham with a not very worthy book (and a glass of Rose) but hey, we can dream yes?

Have a marvelous week, and remember, if you cant be bothered ironing don’t. Own those creases!

Kristina x

P.S If you love linen as much as me & you have little people to buy for do check out this GLORIOUS site, Heidi has exquisite taste, and uses the most delicious fabrics, makes me wish I were a child !

* I don’t want to cause a diplomatic incident, and I think things have improved dramatically but I drank some pretty terrible coffee in America. Like, really bad, and I’m not even that picky?

 

 

 

Keeping cool with Hippolyta

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I’m a child of the 80’s. Perched on the couch in my Pick-a-berry tee shirt and toweling shorts (I remember a lot of toweling clothing in the 80’s?), watching The Dukes of Hazzard and Magnum P.I (Tom Selleck is still one of the most aesthetically pleasing men to ever don a pair of high waisted jeans ).  I was so excited watching Dynasty when Blake & Krystle Carrington named their daughter Kristina , spelt correctly!  Smurfs and Scooby Doo were Saturday morning cartoon high points. It was the glorious hey day of the Mini series , Saturday night watching Lace , wholly inappropriate for an 11 year old but hey, in a big family if you stayed very quiet Mum would forget she hadn’t ordered you to bed. Who didn’t love Against the Wind and The Man from Snowy River, ? What a time to be alive! *

So when Sew Me Something  released their new pattern, the Hippolyta, I had a few nostalgia flashbacks, won’t lie. Batwing sleeves!! Whose Mum didn’t have a batwing sleeve sweatshirt, preferably very bright with some kind of loud floral print on the front? Actually I remember Mum making my sister a pale blue batwing dress with a mesh overlay for work. Yeow!

While I really like the details on this one I wasn’t sure how it be look made up, would I be swamped in fabric & ready to bust out some Culture Club at a moments notice?? Which thinking about it wouldn’t be a bad thing really. Resisting the urge to whip out the toweling, I instead forged ahead with a lovely light linen from Drapers Fabrics and I’m so glad I did, this dress is ace!

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Yes alright, but how could I resist ?

It’s hard to tell on such busy fabric, but there are interesting seam lines & pockets on the front and back. I actually cut this out several weeks ago, but sadly halfway through top stitching the yoke my machine went on the fritz , gahhh!

I got her back yesterday (although there is still getting knotted bobbin thread so back to the shop this week, boo!) and managed to finish my dress. Okay the hem is wonder webbed, please don’t judge, I will stitch it when I have my machine back to full health, promise.

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Checking out a not tight sleeve…or another weed?

I cut a straight size 20, I could probably go down a size but the whole point of this style is the loose fit. I really like how the hem tapers in , which stops it veering into sack territory. This is a great pattern for a beginner, the sleeves are not set in, and there are clear instructions for how to make the collar, so you end up with a garment that looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, win!

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So roomy!

As expected with a bat wing, there is plenty of room through the bicep , and the cuff is a really nice touch.

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As usual with her patterns, Jules adds really nice details , I love this loop on the back yoke.

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I’m a rebel & I’ll never be any good

Now I will admit I did cheat a little here. The placket has three buttons, but to be honest I will NEVER button a shirt right up, I have a generous bust which looks much more proportional with some decolletage on show, buttoned up I ain’t baby! I was already getting bad vibes from my machine & thought buttonholes would push it over the edge so I simply added the single button for interest. Just don’t tell Jules ‘kay?

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Plenty of room through the back and no annoying butt cling, yay!

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Walking somewhere with purpose…? (the fridge probably!)

I really like this pattern, perfect in  linen for over jeans or leggings, and I’m already thinking something even more drapey like silk or rayon would be fab with sandals for work. Or if I need to break out some Mel & Kim moves…

It turns out I’m not the only one hanging in the garden, Tommy is admiring the new plinth, I think he suspects it would be a much better posing plinth for him than a silly place to put a sun dial…

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Stupid sundial…

 

Off to make dinner now, have a lovely week & remember, keep cool ’til after school kids!

 

Kristina (correctly spelt) xxx

*It’s hard now in the age of TV on demand, streaming services, & the ability to watch TV almost anywhere to remember what it was like to have TWO channels, which stopped screening around midnight. My aunts & uncles were early adopters of VHS (complete with a corded remote control), but even that had its limits. I remember one particularly fiery exchange of views when a crucial episode of Coronation Street had been taped over…

 

Emelia for Spring

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New pattern, new dress, new season

Hello again, and for those of us in the South, happy first day of Spring! It’s been the wettest August on record here in Auckland, while I love hunkering down in my sewing room when it’s wet & wild out even I’m ready for some sunshine. Coupled with the worst cold I’ve had in years (now morphed into bronchitis, yay) it feels like a veeeery long Winter.

So when I was contacted by Katy from one of my fav pattern companies Sew me Something  asking if I wanted to review their latest pattern I coughed a hearty “yes please!”

The Emelia has a similar vibe to another of their patterns, the Helena , retaining the same casual feel, with interesting details. I had some gorgeous Paprika linen in my stash (love me a Fabric Store sale) that I knew would drape perfectly and highlight the design details beautifully . Plus, that colour! Its deeply unscientific but I definitely find my mood improves in dull weather if I wear colour. While black on black can look very chic, and is no doubt “slimming” (yawn) , it just makes me feel invisible. Fabulous jewel and autumnal colours are much more fun, plus they work together , this colour looks amazing with deep rich green, chocolate and navy.

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Apparently I need to dust my plants. Who even knew that was a thing??

So, the details. Jules has expanded her size range for this pattern (and her back catalogue is also being updated!) so the Emelia goes from size 8 to 26. Bear in mind Sew Me Something patterns have a generous amount of ease. I made a straight size 20, I knew I would want to layer this one with a merino underneath, my measurements are 45/39/49 so I’m still a few inches outside the size but I’m really happy with the fit. For a warmer weather version (oh I cannot wait to wear with sneakers & bare legs!) I may even size down to 18.

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This dress is all about the detail. The back inverted pleat gives lovely movement through the back (no clinging butt here hey). I was concerned the front pleat over my generous bust (or big boobige as its know in these parts…) could look a tad matronly, but the clever V shape at the front stops that happening.

How about those sleeves?? I’ve mentioned before how I like a sleeve to taper in to my elbow, I have large biceps so I often have to do a large bicep adjustment to sleeves (if this is you too, see here) This results in a wider sleeve hem, which can end up looking weird and unbalanced. Something that pulls that sleeve hem in is always welcome. I’m happy to say NO bicep adjustment needed with this pattern, you can raise that glass of wine with nary a wrinkle.

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See, no tight sleeve here people. Don’t be alarmed…

As you can see I made Version 1, with a collar. Interestingly when Jules asked the question on the Sew Me Something Pattern Facebook group the majority preferred the non collar version. I love the collar! I have quite narrow shoulders, especially in relation to my bust, I think a collar provides balance, and frames the face perfectly. If you’re concerned about complicated construction, don’t be, you are in good hands. Follow the instructions and most importantly , make the notches & dots on the pattern. Seriously.

I’m often a bit casual about that, but this time I was really careful and gosh it paid off. The collar, the front pleat, the top stitching, everything is where it should be because I was 1000% more patient than I normally am.

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Apparently this ficus is most hilarious…

Will there be more Emelias? Definitely, I have some amazing plum coloured double gauze which I want to use for Version 2, it will be fabulous over jeans. Some striped linen is also calling out to me…

Have a lovely week people. Its Fathers day here in NZ today, I’d love to spend the day with my father Bernie, he passed away in 2011, I think of him often. Sometimes when I’m wearing jeans. Dad hated jeans, he grew up poor in a different generation (Dad was 40 when I was born) & jeans were something you wore when you couldn’t afford anything else, the irony of course being by the time I was a teen a pair of 501’s were not cheap. Oh the arguments…

When I see anything related to Westerns. Dad loved reading & watching Westerns, we would have to collect his Louie Lamour books from the library with our Trixie Beldons , the shame!! He used to talk about Mountain Man breakfasts, not sure what Mum was supposed to whip up or even if they existed in suburban South Auckland but I love the idea.

Most of all when I’m sitting here typing this blog. Dad was a consummate story teller. I don’t really remember him telling jokes as such (I’m def his daughter in that respect, I cant tell a joke to save my life) but he often had a funny remark, and told wonderful stories. He was a kind man, maybe a rather underrated commodity nowadays. Nothing made him happier than big family gatherings , lots of good food, drink & stories. I sometimes think he should’ve been Italian, but that red hair, those freckles, that amount of talk?? Dad was the most perfect Irish NZ combo I can imagine, sláinte  x

Kristina x

A dress shirt to cheer…

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Hello friends, it’s been a sad few weeks here , but I have at least made a dress that makes me happy.

This is my second Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt, and unlike last time,  I made with hardly any unpicking, go me. Yes alright, I did have to insert one of the sleeves twice, but compared to last time (is it possible to get a blister from using your unpicker….sadly yes.) she came together like a dream. I’ve actually worked out what I did wrong, the key is to have the front of the dress , which is sandwiched between the yoke & yoke lining, about 1 cm in from the edge of the two yoke pieces. In fact all you need to do is ignore me & look at the picture, it shows exactly that! Why I didn’t do that first time around is anyone’s guess.

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Bloody cat digging the garden…

For this version I made the same Size 18 but lengthened by 2 “/4 cm, which I’m really happy with. I used the same sleeve piece (with a full bicep adjustment of 2.5 cm) but I made the longer length to turn up, which I love. There is something wonderfully chic about a turned up sleeve on a linen shirt, casual but not too casual.

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I LOVE top stiching

The top stitching detail is lovely, despite the fact my thread matching was so on point it’s almost impossible to see. It still creates a great crisp edge to seams which is such a nice finishing touch. But I am toying with another version, using contrasting top stitching (you can never have to many dress shirts, am I right? Indeed.)

The fabric is glorious Paprika linen from The Fabric Store, how lush ? It’s cold, it’s gray, and quite frankly its been a shitty week, but at least I don’t look cold, or grey. Which helps really.

The Merchant & Mills aesthetic isn’t for everyone, and I do sometimes wonder if the models realize how much fabulous expensive linen they are casually scowling at,  but I like the style lines, and I feel great wearing the patterns I have made so far.

So why so blue. A dear friend & member of my craft group passed away last week, a fabulous, sparky , fun filled woman of just 56 years old. Cancer sucks. I wish it were like the movies. People fighting valiantly, never looking TOO sick, often recovering, or at least muttering something profound before they slip gently off this mortal coil.

The reality, or mine anyway, is anything but. I lost my Father to cancer, I’ve been to the funerals of friend’s parents, friends of my own, just a few weeks ago a lovely work colleague. It’s a shitty, soul destroying, smelly, horrible disease. It strips dignity, privacy, and leave carnage in its wake. If you are suffering you have every molecule of sympathy & rage I can muster. You, she, we deserve so much better.

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Not perfect, but we got there…

But I’m trying to think of the fun positive things so I shall leave you with the tea cosy Susie helped me knit. Including memorably pointing out , when I proudly showed off the fruits of MANY hours labour ,  that I still needed to knit the other half. And I made it too short. Doh!

Our group was fostered at work, many lunch times were spent knitting, crocheting, talking (a lot in my case), 2013 will forever be known as the year of the Hot water bottle cover. Lesley is currently working on one for me which we think Susie would have approved of. I tried to knit one of my own but after four years I still only have one half (I seem to lose puff at that point…) And cold toes.

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We had “thimble teas” at each others houses, this is one of the first, in my garden in summer. As you can see, a lack of craft on show, but plenty of wine & yummy food, such good fun! We learnt we needed to craft first, then introduce the bubbly & canapes…

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Lunch in the garden, so much chat!

It’s awful to lose a friend, but I’m glad we had so much fun over the years. Vale Susie, you were a pearler!

Have a lovely week

Kristina xxx

 

I went with the dress, Cap Sleeve please…

 

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My photographer was telling me to get my foot out of the garden…

Now, this dress actually started life as a jumpsuit. Or the fabric did at least. The Zadie jumpsuit has been all over my Insta feed for a while now, and I’m intrigued, could I pull off a jumpsuit?* Despite the advice of my dear BFF “you need to think of bathroom issues”  (ok , actually quite relevant to me, I have a total Woolworth’s bladder) I was determined. Off to The Fabric Store , which conveniently I can get too on my lunch break (I know, lets stop to consider for a moment how dangerous THAT is!) with my pal to purchase Liberty jersey (her) & foxy linen (me).

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Yeah hi there…

There was a made-up Zadie hanging on the wall, in the most amazing berry linen and I was sorely tempted. Fabric stores,  if you are listening, this is a great idea. Being able to see & feel a made up sample is always going to help purchasing decisions. Even my pal, who I could tell was not completely sold on the jumpsuit bandwagon was impressed.

So how did I end up in a clearly not jumpsuit, dress??

That pesky linen. I saw this colour & was immediately drawn. Anyone on my social media for longer than ten seconds can tell I love (besides cats,  food & Chardonnay) orange, mustard, brown, tan, green, navy and any variations of those . The extra weight of the linen made it even more attractive.  It’s a Khaki/brown/slightly mustard mix, perfect with my brown boots. Unfortunately when I showed Mr PK my proud purchase, and my perfect pattern match the words “boiler suit?” did come into play. Then the word “plumber”. And something along the lines of “the gutters do need a wee clear out since your dressed for it”. Then a few other words probably best not to share here (mine) but how annoying is it when someone verbalizes what you may have fleetingly thought but just decided to ignore?

In hindsight I’m glad I went with a change of plan. I brought this The Assembly Line pattern a while ago from Miss Maude Sewing, love the neckline, love the sleeves, all the top stitching, yes!

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I’d not sewn anything from this pattern line before, but colour me impressed. The instructions are great, very thorough and clear. I brought the paper pattern, which comes with a full instruction booklet & the pattern printed on nice heavy paper. I trace my patterns so having them on decent weight paper makes life a lot easier.

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I cut the XL, my measurements are 112 cm/44 inches, 99/39 & 123/49. For me the dress has the right amount of ease, not too large through the bust, but reasonable volume & shape through the waist and hips. The size range is more inclusive than some, although not all their patterns go up to an XXL. I’ve actually emailed the company to ask if/when the other patterns will be included hey?

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Pocket joy!

Yes, its a tad monastic. But the real interest comes with the cool raised neckline, the side panels and the top stitching, I just love the detail, even if it is a bit hard to see in pics!

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Nosy at the neighbors…

I made no adjustments to the pattern, and to be honest I don’t think I would going forward either, shall we call this a very lucky muslin? I thought the neckline might be a bit much but actually I really like the width, it balances the volume of the dress.

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For me it works over jeans & a tee as a casual yet comfortable weekend outfit, but I really love that depending on fabric choice, you can also wear it to work, let’s be honest, that much top stitching effort deserves a wide audience, yes?

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Wondering anew how paving could be so damn expensive…

I’d like to think it’s Tommy approved.

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Like Pride Rock. Except it’s a compost bin & he’s not a Lion. 

So good I may be induced to wink at the neighbors even…

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Nope, no idea what I was doing either…

Be warned, these patterns are not cheap, but I love the design and the quality product. Will I make another? Definitely, I’d love a denim version, with cool contrasting top stitching. Or maybe another linen? Or maybe both…

Have a great week!

Kristina x

 

A Trapeze in the garden

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Now, I wont lie, I’ve had mixed reviews on this dress. I love it , but my husband wasn’t quite so impressed.

“Wow, I can’t even remember where that curtain was hanging before you took it down to make a frock!?” Boom boom. It’s amazing how quickly he forgets I’ll get mates rates on the divorce lawyer…

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This is the Trapeze Dress by Merchant & Mills. It’s one of the first patterns I brought when I got into sewing properly. I loved the simple lines, and yes, the stylish industrial packaging (come on, I think we’ve all been sucked in by nice wrapping some time?) I’ve since made a couple of other great Merchant & Mills patterns, I actually find the drafting really works for me, although I do wish the size range was more inclusive.

I originally made the dress in a dark green wool, which gave the garment a vaguely “monastic” look. This turned out to be entirely appropriate, I realized after about an hours wear I really needed to line SUCH a scratchy fabric, it felt like wearing a hair shirt. If you’ve seen the Da Vinci Code movie (don’t be judgy, I was on a plane)  , the bloke that self flagellates with a price of rope ? He could have saved energy & just worn my dress all day.

At that point I had no idea how to line a dress, so it ended up languishing in my wardrobe. Given the horrific state of my first attempt at a full bicep adjustment (hint, just adding 2 cm around the whole sleeve doesn’t work, the sleeve becomes impossible to ease in without mighty puckers all around!) it’s probably not a bad thing. I don’t know why its taken me so long to revisit the pattern but I’m really glad I have.

 

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Do you like the toe point (I always wanted to do ballet…)?

The fabric is a glorious soft drapy corduroy (yes, corduroy!) from Miss Maude , as soon as I saw the colours I knew I had to have it. But I thought such a busy print needed a really simple shape to highlight the wonderful colours. Its a very light cord, the drape highlights the Trapeze shape without looking too stiff.

I adore corduroy, I love the look & feel of wearing it, and the colours! I had quite a long stretch in hospital as a child, and I remember Mum & Dad bringing my younger sister in to visit, wearing a corduroy jacket & skirt Mum had made her, it was a deep red colour , I was SO jealous! Dad called it “the burgundy” , among his many eccentricities he liked to name clothes, the purple linen shirt I sent from the UK for Fathers Day was forever after his “London” shirt”. He was also a deeply kind, thoughtful, very funny man, most of us are lucky enough to love our parents, some of us are VERY lucky, and like them very much too. We miss him.

In his honour I shall call this my “Front room drapes” dress.

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Such beautiful lush colours & texture 

 

So, modifications. First, I added pockets. I don’t tend to actually carry anything in my pockets ( I once left a hair clip in my jeans which went straight into the wash & completely buggered our washing machine…boy did I hear about that from Mr D) but I like to have them just in case I want to. Or I need to warm up my hands. Or I just want to stand around nonchalantly and really , in the absence of a ciggy (I don’t smoke) pockets are really essential. I used the pocket piece from my Feilder , which worked perfectly.

I also did my usual Full Bicep Adjustment , using the very handy tutorial from the Curvy Sewing Collective , this time I did manage to get the sleeves inserted without huge gathers. I did however, have a couple of small tiny gathers, Mum came for Good Friday lunch yesterday & complimented me on my “lovely dress”. She then went on “but you need a to learn better sleeve insertion, you didn’t ease those in very well”. No really Mum, don’t sugar coat it hey? I have put those bloody sleeves in about three times, if there are puckers now its purely a design choice. Tough crowd!

 

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Bloody noisy planes…

So, styling choices? I thought boots would tone down the overly floral “pretty” look, and make it a little more edgy. I love the neckline on this dress, its quite high but nicely proportioned. However I work in a very chilly office so a scarf is a must. With so much going on, I wanted something plain, so the amazing merino at The Fabric Store was perfect.

I used Ochre merino, and the Infinity scarf tutorial from Miss Maude to make a simple scarf that is warm, practical, and looks great with my dress. I brought 1.5 m of fabric, so I’ve also got enough fabric left to make another scarf, they make great gifts.

 

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My cat being a twit off camera!

Four days off here for Easter, we had the traditional lovely family lunch for Good Friday, today has been sewing & mooching around, catching up with a friend tomorrow and more sewing, the weather is supposed to turn (it’s been glorious here so far) so I shall feel very cosy in my sewing room, I have a Wattle skirt that needs finishing.

In the meantime me posing/looking startled while my sister ineptly tries to take photos. We retired to the lounge for a Chardonnay shorty after…

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Amazingly, this was BEFORE the Chardonnay…

Have a great weekend, and if you celebrate,  have a lovely peace filled Easter

Kristina x

We got there in the end Tacara…

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Just hangin’ on my deck…

Now why , you may ask, am I standing on my deck on a very warm sunny evening in wool, boots AND a scarf. Other than “because I can” and “I’m still in love with my new fence” obviously.

The Seamwork Tacara first came to my attention when it was discussed in the Curvy Sewing Collective as a good candidate for the Same Pattern Different Body  post. I love these posts, it’s so helpful to see how a pattern works on a variety of shapes, what adjustments are made and also how each person styles their look.

I promptly went online , but while I loved the cocoon shape, and the myriad of ways it could be worn, there wasn’t actually a lot of pics of curvier sewers wearing a Tacara. Naturally I needed about two nano seconds to realize I wanted one of my own. Even better there is a SPDB post coming up at the CSC so if you are a curvy sewer be ready for plenty of inspiration!

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What hem, I have no idea what you’re talking about…

 

So, how did it work out? Well, lets just say this garment is now known as the Dress of a Hundred Alterations. At least I had the sense to make a muslin for once!

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Hmmm, not perfect 

I made my first Tacara in a light rayon knit from Spotlight (good spotting, I have used it before ) While I ended up with a perfectly wearable dress, I felt like a bit of adjustment would make it much better.

The general consensus looking online is it comes up quite large, so I cut a size 16, adding 2 cm/1 inch to each sleeve as I was worried about cutting off circulation to my fingers! For reference my measurements are 44″/112 cm, 38″/99 cm & 48″/124 cm

Now, the pockets. Oh those pockets. I can only surmise this pattern was developed for someone with arms like my husband, loooong. Only he’s 6 ‘ 3″ and I’m not. They are crazy low. I literally had to stretch to get my mitts into them?

It all just felt (and looked) too big.

So, iteration two, this time in a gorgeous merino wool from The Fabric Store. I wont lie, I feel very spoilt having so many amazing fabric stores within easy reach, and to be able to treat myself occasionally.

Merino is a wonderful fabric, it breaths, drapes, keeps you warm & comes in the most glorious colours. It’s also quite spendy, so I didn’t want to mess this one up!

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But it IS cocoon shaped, seriously!

Alterations, I’ve made a few (in my head I’m hearing Frank singing My Way!) . First up, I sized down , cutting out a 14 ( I’m an accountant, I’m used to manipulating figures, but me a 14, really???) . I reduced the bicep adjustment to 1 cm/1/2 “, and raised the pockets by a whopping 10 cm/4.5 “. Then I got a bit trigger happy and shaved another 4 cm off the length. Which I then realized was a tad to much to achieve a nice chunky hem. I didn’t want to sacrifice too much length so we have a lovely knee grazing dress with an ABOMINATION of a hem. More waves than a day at the beach, I apologize profusely.

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Yep, no blue fingers here folks, complete ease of arm movement…

The sleeve actually needs to be reasonably snug, to balance the volume of the dress, but as someone who has suffered from the dreaded sausage arm syndrome, its a fine line, very dependent on your fabric. Make the muslin kids. Honestly.

Now, back to those bloody pockets (yes, I’d got a bit sweary by this stage). I was quite tempted to ditch them altogether. I’ve realized with the benefit of hindsight & a few wines the method described is probably perfect for use with a sewing machine, but for an overlocker (serger)? Not so much. After making an absolute Horlicks of my pockets, and unpicking them in a state of deeply bad karma, I found an online tutorial that made far more sense. Please save yourself the wine & do it this way.

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Just shut up about the hem & keep taking the photo’s thanks …

 

I feel like this dress is a fabric version of Granddad’s hammer, new head, new handle, but it’s still his hammer right? I’ve altered so much of the pattern , but really to make it look like the picture & line drawings on the pattern which is what I liked so much in the first place!

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While not without it’s tribulations, I’m actually really happy with the finished dress, its perfect for me at work, with boots & a cool scarf/necklace. It also works at the weekend over jeans , and I’ve realized with leggings, a big pashmina  and slip on shoes this is THE travel outfit (when you live in NZ you travel LONG haul, it  takes on a whole new meaning when you’re wearing something  for over 24 hours to get to Europe)

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This fabric 🙂

Next up, a gorgeous Infinity scarf in this amazing Liberty  jersey , I adore the colours and I love a scarf that doesn’t need lots of fiddling. I know it’s none of my beeswax but why do so many people wear black in winter when we have all these glorious colours & prints to wear??

Now, has anyone seen Tommy?

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Hmm, did I shut the cat door down…?

 

Have a great week!

Kristina X