Away with the birds, Lenox…

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Pockets of fun!

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

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

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My usual approach to pattern placement…

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

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

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Feeling pretty good, wont lie….

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

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

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

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How??? Why???

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

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

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

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

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Photobomb! Love that skirt swish…

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

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

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

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

 

Kristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afternoon tea with Mrs D

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Howdy neighbor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Watching my idiot cat teetering along the fence….

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

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

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

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

Mr D: Are you seriously buying more fabric??

Me: Of course not, I’m browsing…

Mr D: “side eye”

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

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

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

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

Me: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Breezy in the garden!

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

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

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

Kristina xxx

 

Leaving on a jet plane…

 

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More birds! Imogen loves birds…

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

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

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Yes, that is a prison wall behind me…

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

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

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

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

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

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Tea & homemade lemon drizzle cake to keep us fortified!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doesn’t that look inviting?

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

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

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I’m innocent , I swear it Guv!

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

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Oxford at night, bewitching…

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

Kristina xxx

 

 

Kalle in the rain

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Singing Smiling in the rain!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Its not that wet, honest!

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

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How cute??

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

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

 

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Wellington hair….

Hope you have a lovely week, stay dry folks!

Kristina xxx

Turner for the weekend

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‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Never really got a handle on pattern matching then….

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

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My photographer playing silly buggers!

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

Kristina xxx

Dancing with Helena

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Those colours!

That thing when you make something you are really pleased with, and have several strangers stop you in public & ask where you brought your dress, and you try and be all modest/cool saying “oh I made it myself”, when really your doing a deeply uncool “whoop whoop/solo high five” inside and feeling like a sewing ninja/fabric whisperer/superstar. Yep that thing.

So after the success of my last Helena , I intended to make a plain shorter version to wear with jeans or skinny pants. Then I saw this amazing fabric by Karen Walker , (a designer I can neither fit nor afford) AND it was 50% off. I was so taken with the colours  I brought it despite being polyester. I didn’t actually notice the wonderful ladies until I got it home. We were in Drapers Fabric and while my husband was being chatted up by all the females in the shop, in about 10 minutes I managed to purchase three knits, a cotton and the most lovely silk you will be seeing here soon! Thanks ladies, diversion tactics!

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All the single pretty ladies!

Now I’ll be honest, I would never normally buy polyester. It makes me sweat. Actually , when we were kids in the 70’s here in the Antipodes, we were taught females didn’t sweat, they “glowed”. Either way, given I live in a city that has a mean humidity in Summer of about 98%, my purchase was probably more a triumph of hope over experience, but whatever, I’m a (glowing!) optimist.

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Oh hi you lovely boots.

I left the pockets off this time, the fabric is stiffer than linen, and given the busy print, kept the sleeves simple. Have I mentioned how much I love I dont need to do a bicep adjustment for this pattern. If not, consider it mentioned.

I did find the neckline does not sit as flat as the linen version, I’m not used to sewing a polyester fabric like this (its quite thick & slightly slippery), it also has zero natural stretch.

Despite this, I think it looks fab, and huzzah, wearing it with leggings and boots I can avoid the dreaded “chubb rub” (goodness, we’re all about the sharing today kids!) I have chunky calves, so boot buying was always an epic fail, until I came across this UK company . They are not cheap, but they are really comfy and the quality is fantastic, I have pairs over five years old that just require resoling every now and again. It opens up a whole world of winter dress wearing , and I can run for the train, result!

 

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Spotted the snafu yet…?

Now, the elephant in the room. The sleeves. Continuing my longstanding habit of making the simple into something ridiculously difficult, I managed to cut my sleeves upside down. Yes, really. I then compounded the issue by being completely clueless of this fact until AFTER the sleeves were not only inserted, but hemmed, ironed & being admired by yours truly. After consulting the lovely ladies on the rather awesome Curvy Sewing Collective, we decided to consider it a design choice, which would also have potential for fabulous hands in the air dancing. I fully approve obviously.

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Throw ya hands in the air, like ya just dont care…(with apologies to the neighbors, and passing birds temporarily snow blinded by my milky white arms…)

Apparently black is “slimming” . Possibly, but I’ve decided I’m just fine with the amount of space I occupy (and quite frankly, I wear lovely perfume, clean clothing & have few sharp angles, if only every commuter on public transport was as considerate!). Some days a loud print just makes you smile. Now, I feel an interpretive dance coming on…

Kristina xxx

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I’m calling this one “Have I left the oven on?”

Crushing on Helena…

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Hangin’ in the garden with my new pal Helena…

As soon as I saw her I knew it was meant to be. You know when you see a pattern and just KNOW you are going to love it. Everything about it says yes , that is my style. Not just linen, but a gorgeous rust colored linen. Cute little pin tucks, tick. Excellent sleeve coverage with button action, tick tick. Stylish, but not really trying too hard,  BOOM tick!

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Just like the one on the packet!

This is the Helena dress, from UK based Sew Me Something. The pattern comes as a paper & PDF pattern, in sizes UK 8-22. For reference I made a 20, the fit is definitely relaxed, even the sleeves, which as you darlings know, is my nemesis!

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Relaxed pose for a relaxed frock (yep I used the F word, love it)

I brought this gorgeous Merchant & Mills linen a wee while ago, intending to make a pair of pants to go with this top. The pants pattern I ordered took an AGE to arrive, and in the meantime that minx Helena caught my eye!

I have a long standing love affair with linen, particularly in “autumnal” hues. When I met my now husband, my absolute fav item of clothing was a forest green linen shirt, which I liked to wear with dark brown cords. It was the mid 90’s and I was channeling a slightly grunge (only very slightly mind, ’cause otherwise ewww?!) Seattle look…. (never having actually been outside New Zealand )  My intended described it as “your dressing like a tree phase”. Yes dear reader, astonishingly I did still marry him.

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Brown Steel!

This is a pretty easy sew, I cut out and made up in a weekend (with all the usual mundane weekend “stuff” fitted in comfortably) There is short & long sleeve options, I think the placket and button is really cute and makes the dress slightly different. The instructions are excellent, Jules  who designs these patterns also runs sewing workshops, I think her teaching experience shows.

While the fit is relaxed, the darts and gathers mean this doesn’t feel “sack” like, I want to be comfortable, without appearing to drown in fabric. I wont bother with the pockets next time, I never actually put anything (besides hands) in them anyway. I like this with leggings & sandals, in winter jeans and boots will step up. Jules has great personal style, she wears this dress a lot, check out her Instagram feed here

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So is this a lasting relationship? Will I make more Helena’s? Absolutely! Next up is a tunic version with shorter sleeves and some pretty stitching around the neckline.

So, are you tempted??

Kristina xxx

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Ok, give me that!

Birthday lovely…

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

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

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

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

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

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So, the curvy:

Harrison shirt dress by Cashmerette

Size: 20- true to size

Fabric: Chambray from Miss Maude

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

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

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

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

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

Kristina xxx

Getting shirty….again

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Here I am, back posing in the garden. At least now the garden has a floral theme right? This fabric caught my eye leaving a local (sadly closing down) fabric shop. I very nearly made it out the door with just what I went in for. Nearly. But it was so pretty, and I kept seeing fabulous dresses all over Pinterest, and it was 25 % off the sale price…what could I do?

I chose Simplicity 8014 for my first foray into Shirt dressing, and I’m pretty happy with it.

Simplicity Pattern 8014 Misses' Shirt Dress

I made view D, but with view C hem. Well that was the plan. I actually got thoroughly confused and cut the hem for D, which meant when I tried to straighten it up, I ended up with a hem shorter than I intended (I generally consider my knees are for private consumption only) oh well! I chose not to add the pockets , I never actually put anything in them and feel like my hips are one area that probably does not need any additional fabric.

As I did with my Fielder dress I enlarged the sleeve for a comfortable fit, oh the thrill of being to raise my arms easily , often an issue for me with RTW shirts and dresses. I really like the faux cuff detail which I will use again .

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Looks terrible, but it worked…

The one thing I wasn’t so thrilled with was the fit at the back, the gathers were fine, but I ended up with a balloon of fabric underneath. No doubt this would be gathered in with the belt, but I felt the dress looked better on me without the belt.

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Hmmm, what is going on under there???

The collar and pockets were fine, the instructions clear and it all came together well. Because the fabric is so busy I chose not to use a contrasting topstich colour, does make for a slightly easier life. It looks mostly like the one on the packet!

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Sharp….ish.

My next project is an extension of the Harrison shirt, I’m hoping the princess seaming will eliminate the bagging effect at the back. I’m going to add similar sleeves to this one though, I wish I could just throw caution to the wind and go sleeveless but I really feel more comfortable with upper arm coverage. Am I obsessed with sleeves??

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I need to talk to my photographer about unfortunate reflections on my hair….eyes on the dress people

 

Have you made a shirt dress? Any tips and tricks gratefully received!

 

Kristina xxx