Torrens Times Two



So when life gives you lemons, the accepted wisdom is to whip up a batch of lemonade yes? (or in my case, slice one & add to a G&T). Here in Auckland life is giving us day after day of blue sky, heat & humidity. While it’s churlish to complain (you can totally throw this back at me when I’m moaning about the cold and rain in July) , over 40 days without rain is a national record. I draw the line at watering grass , but I have been out watering our new garden, those plants costs a fortune, it would be to awful to watch them all die. Lets see if I’m still thinking that when the next water bill comes in shall we…

Anyway, the coolest room in our house is my sewing room, so guess where I’ve been holed up?


Behold, a couple of new tops. I was so pleased with my first Torrens Box Top that I decided to make a couple more, adding a contrast sleeve detail, inspired by this RTW top of my sisters.


I cut out same size as my previous Torrens top, just changing out the fabric for the sleeve piece, cutting on the selvage as per the pattern.

The fabric is gorgeous linen from The Fabric Store, I think the colour is Brick? It’s a lovely rich red with a brown base. The sleeve detail is a mystery vintage fabric I got from my sister’s deep, or in her case, endless, stash. I love the colour and print, but it feels very poly, (I wouldn’t stand anywhere near a naked flame!) Not something I would wear as a full garment, especially in the heat, but perfect for adding an accent. The linen was giving a slightly more structured feel than my previous rayon version, so the floppy sleeve is a nice contrast.


Because it was so slippery, not the most fun to attach, thankfully the linen at least was nice & stable. And wine.

It was basically a race to see who would win, me attaching the sleeve, or the sleeve fraying into nothingness. I won, yessss! The method of sleeve attachment is pretty different, but having done it a couple of time, I can see how well it works. I’m not a speedy sewist but even I can make one of these tops in an afternoon.

This was the beginning, you can imagine what the fray was like at the end…

The neckline facing has a couple of small ripples, I’ve run out of my favorite interfacing and the shop that stocked it has closed, boo. So I’m using a very much inferior version that does not stay ironed onto the fabric (despite having the iron at just under nuclear). To be honest, while it’s annoying, I’m not going to lose sleep, hopefully your looking at the sleeves instead?

Photobomb central…

My other version is in a sunny Tangerine crepe from Miss Maude, sadly this colour has sold out, but there are several others I have my eye on (the Ochre for Autumn is calling to me). The softness of the fabric gives a different silhouette to this one, so for the contrast sleeve I used a rayon from Spotlight . I made a second Springfield top from this fabric, it’s heavier than the standard rayon, with a lovely sheen, I couldn’t bear to throw my scraps out. The weight of the sleeve was a nice contrast to the drape of the crepe.


Two tops, one I can’t wait to wear to work, one that is perfect for the weekend, result! Such a good pattern , I’m already thinking a contrast hem band would be really cute too.

Winning at life & sleeves…

I’m not sure Tuppence fully approves however…

Little Miss Judgey 

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

When not in my sewing room I’ve been sitting under the air con glued to The Stranger on Netflix. Have you seen it? If not please immediately move away from this blog & watch, its FAB! And Richard Armitage…need I say more?

Also enjoying the air con at the cinema watching Emma, what a delight. The costumes are glorious, and Johnny Flynns Mr Knightly is a hero we all need. I had thought Toby Stephens’ Mr Rochester was my favorite Austin bloke but I think his crown has been challenged…

I’ve just finished The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, great read, a modern Agatha Christie locked room mystery, she has a new book coming out on my birthday, guess what will be on my gift list

So it seems even when I’m not sewing I spend a lot of time sitting around on my backside?!

Hopefully where ever you are the weather is amenable, if not, treat it as a perfect excuse to get into your sewing space. I can recommend it , especially with a G&T 🙂

Have a great week

Kristina x


Snaking through summer with Wiksten




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.


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.

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.

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…

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…?


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…?

Image may contain: 2 people, including Kristina Douglas, people smiling
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?



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.


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



Fun with Glebe & Torrens…


So , summer proper has finally arrived in Auckland. It’s approximately 107% humidity today, with zero breeze. My husband is sitting in boxer shorts in front of the computer, valiantly fending off Tommy’s best efforts to sit on his lap. I’m sitting under the heat pump , set to just a smidgen over “Arctic”. Like many peeps with curly hair humidity can makes things a little wild, in my case I get an interesting combination of fluff & frizz. Gorgeous. Needless to say in my imagination this is what my hair actually looks like.

Image result for miss fisher

The glorious Miss Fisher, which is fitting as it was her marvelous wardrobe that got me thinking about my latest makes. If you haven’t already , please check out the wonderful books and TV series featuring 1920’s Melbourne’s most fabulous lady detective. She drives a cool sports car, has various lovers but takes orders from no man and generally kicks butt.

Image result for miss fisher car

Phryne’s wardrobe is literally the stuff of my dreams. I was lucky enough to visit an exhibition of Marion Boyce’s amazing costumes from the series in Sydney a few years back , it was truly awesome. So much attention to the style of the period, exquisite fabrics & details, yet still something you would want to wear tomorrow.

Many periods in history have marvelous fashions, but while say I love the tight waisted full skirted styles of the 50’s in theory, are they something I would actually want to wear? (well doing the hoovering in heels would be an issue to start with…) Cute Mary Quant dresses are so fabulous , but on a woman with more than her share of boobs & butt, not quite so much (only my opinion of course, if you want to rock that look, rock on!).


But wide leg pants with fabulous patterned tops & duster coats? Now that’s a look I can get on board with (although I’m sure Phryne wouldn’t wear hers with sneakers. I’m also sure she wouldn’t be schlepping around New World for bog rolls so I think we’ll let that one slide…)

This wee ensemble is from Muna & Broad.  Simple yet exceedingly functional patterns for the Plus Sized sewist. I was initially out side the size range of these, but the lovely Leila & Jess have extended the size range to include as many sewists as possible, which is ALWAYS a good thing.



First up is the Glebe, a wide leg pant with cool slash pockets, and a choice of flat front or full elastic waist.  I’m going to do a whole separate post on these, as this is actually my wearable muslin. I used an inexpensive lightweight linen, cutting a straight size iii which ended up being too big around the front & waist. With some jiggery pokery I still have a great pair of pants, but next time I will size down, and probably have to make a small adjustment around the crotch curve. I have a shallow crotch curve but a sticky out butt. You probably didn’t need to know that but hey, we’re all friends here.



To go with is the Torrens Box Top. As discussed in my previous post, I wasn’t fully sure about a boxy shape, but after the success of the Wiksten I was prepared to give it a go.



I REALLY like this top. I cut a size i, with no alterations, and I’m super happy with the fit. The sleeves are spot on, and the neckline is a really nice shape. If you look very closely you will see I’ve stretched the rayon ever so slightly. But you’re not my Mum so you wont look that close, yes?

I really need to dust that Ficus…what is my life now, I dust plants!?

The fabric is a cute rayon from Spotlight (currently on special!!!) Who can resist orange animal print? Not I.

It was interesting, when I showed my sister the top & pants while I was making them she commented “but you wouldn’t wear them together”? Apparently the perceived wisdom is a loose top with fitted pants, or vice versa. Now I agree,  wide pants and a baggy top can look like you’ve just rolled out of bed … (and not in the Rod Stewart “I’m out of milk & coffee but lets watch the early movie & do you think I’m sexy” kinda way).

But I think it’s all about fabric choice, proportions and attitude. Without wishing to go full Trinny & Susanna, I think a loose pant & top, with sneakers is casual, comfy but still smart . The fabric is drapy , but not TOO long & not TOO baggy, I’m not swamped. A fun bright print says while I’m not trying to hug every curve, I’m also not trying to hide my curves. According to my husband you can see me coming from a mile away. Never a bad thing (especially in fog or rain, think of the safety aspect alone.)


In case I was missing something, I also wore my top to work, with a slimmer pant , and just to be doubly safe, orange loafers.

Safety shoes!

Well, I think it works both ways. While I’m not sure how my Official Photographer has managed to make my very average length legs look 3 inches long (actually he’s 6′ 3″ so often ends up taking pics looking down on me rather than front on, also he was watching this weirdly compelling doco while we were taking pics & was clearly thoroughly distracted! I can’t compete with Sunderland) I’m very happy with this for a workday.


After a day at work I know I need a forward shoulder adjustment, it’s something I have found on almost every top & dress I make, because I have a slight roundness on my upper shoulder common to many of us hunched over a computer all day . It is sometimes called a Dowagers Hump, but frankly the only thing a terrible moniker like that gives me IS the hump!*

So future plans include another pair of Glebes, I’m thinking a coloured linen, because can you ever have to many wide leg linen pants? No, of course not.

Top wise, I’m thinking a cute contrast sleeve band, my sister had a lovely RTW version on holiday I shall be shamelessly copying!

I love this fabric combo

I hope you are having a fab week, keeping cool, warm or in-between, I’m off to water the garden, I have approx 4000 tomatoes on the cusp of ripe, so I’m looking forward to a sauce making session this weekend. Surely nothing says summer like being drenched in sweat while it’s 30 C in the kitchen and the house minging of vinegar, huzzah!


Kristina x

*For my overseas readers, a saying from my parents/aunties generation, if you don’t like something , eg “she had the hump with me”, or alternatively, if you are in a mood “she had the pip” . I personally also like “she had a face on”. Naturally I have been described as all of these at one time or other. More than one time if I’m honest.





















































































































A Wiksten (or two) for the holidays


Merry Christmas, Miri Kirihimete, Happy Holidays to you. ‘Tis the season to be exhausted! For various reasons it’s been a hectic month or so at Plum Towers. After hosting 21 lovely whanau for Christmas day (thankfully it didn’t rain so we could fit everyone on the new deck, avoiding the need for a ticketing system for the  dining table…yessss!) , a fab Boxing Day lunch at my sisters around the corner, AND a sisters sewing bee on the 27th, it’s been all go here.

As per tradition I didn’t manage to get a Christmas day outfit organised (I suspect those who do should really be given control of the universe, they can clearly do anything). But we have a family holiday to the Hawkes Bay this week & I thought a few loose summer tops would be perfect. My bestie recently made a Wiksten top & dress & when she sent me some pics I was intrigued. Up until then I really couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Being “bigger of boobage” a top without darts always feels like we could easily veer into box territory. Actually that’s the point, and when done well, it’s a great easy shape.


Certainly a deceptively simple shape. Actually this pattern is an absolute winner. I’ve made two so far, there will be more. In fact my eldest sister Dette used my pattern to cut out a Wiksten for my younger sister Wou (I talk with a cast of thousands when it comes to sisters…) and she looks great in this. Bearing in mind I’m a 5’6″. pear with a 44″ bust & Wou is 5′ nothing on tippy toes & is definitely apple shaped (Braeburn for preference) . This is a crazy good pattern.


My first version is in a fab soft double gauze from Drapers Fabric , I couldn’t resist the feel of the fabric or the pattern. I cut the pockets on the bias to create interest. Possibly not the easiest choice with a soft fabric like double gauze, but my pattern matching skills are weak, so better to go completely the opposite I say. My mother didn’t call me out so as far as I’m concerned that’s win .

I made the top version of the pattern, with the 3/4 sleeve, and also added approx 4 inches/10 cm to the hem, I figured I could cut it off later if needed, but I actually really like the length. Most excellent butt coverage yes? I cut a straight size 20, so pretty close to my actual measurements of 44/40/50

Snow Blindness ?

My second Wiksten is in a linen cotton blend, a Xmas gift from Dette with a rather bold print I happen to love. As my husband also helpfully pointed out “I’ll never lose you in Bunnings” *


The sleeve add on is genius, I definitely refer a longer sleeve, in NZ sun with my Irish “colouring” (or complete LACK of of colouring save for freckles!) a longer sleeve is a real bonus. Plus, excellent arm movement achieved!

Party like its 2020…!

All up, an excellent pattern that would suit a variety of shapes, quick to sew (even for me!) and so easy to wear.

In other news , what’s been occurring since November & the Xmas silly kicked in?

Check out my back garden , a little cottage garden type situation…(what you say when everything has gone completely feral & you don’t even know where to start)


This Triffid disguised itself as a tomato & is currently taking over my garden. We will eat nothing that doesn’t contain tomato for approximately the next six months.



But at least I got my spice drawer organised . It’s possibly a bit sad how happy that makes me, but I like to feel if I’m facing all the trials, tribulations and elections that 2020 will bring , I want to do it fully spiced up  ready to go.


I hope 2019 has been kind to you, if not, I hope you have the opportunity  to give it a massive kick into touch & head into 2020 feeling you will prevail. There is a lot of pressure this time of year, resolutions, to do lists, well meaning suggestions of ways we can make ourselves better/more successful/richer/ for the coming year.

I’ll leave you with a Xmas card that keeps it real…


Watch out 2020, we’re coming for you xxx


* Bunnings is a huge DIY store (aka Man Cave) , I’ve lost Mr PK there more than once…


A dress shirt on holiday in Nantucket…




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.



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.

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.


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!

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.

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.

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?




With my Heart on my Sleeve, Cedar


This pose is called “I can’t find my sunglasses”…

Exercise. I love it in theory. I’ve even dabbled in it from time to time. Cycling at school (I wasn’t very good but I liked the outfits), a couple of Triathlons , where I discovered swimming laps is possibly the most boring thing in the world. A brief ill advised attempt at Step aerobic classes. It was a very fancy gym, there’s me smack in the middle of a huge room of Lycra clad zealots grapevining our hearts out. Sadly I lost control of my new Reeboks momentarily & lurched off the edge of my box, taking out the poor woman next to me. Obviously I never went back.

Fast forward many years and theirs me struggling over the Auckland Harbor bridge (OMG that thing goes on for ever) running 21 km despite having a perfectly good car. Why??! Even when reasonably fit I run like a woman two steps away from a full cardiac event. Add to that I foolishly decided to wear the event sponsor tee shirt, which was a smudge too short, so I spent 20.5 km pulling my top down, arrggh!

Cedar Dolman Top PDF pattern

But exercise does make us feel better. Well it does after you’ve done it anyway. Great for the heart, skin, muscles, mind, it’s all good. I just want to do it in such a way it doesn’t actually appear I’m doing it. A nice brisk walk, maybe a cheeky 20 mins on the stationery cycle , a few stretches to keep everything from getting too creaky. I want to be comfortable, but also look good , and not go anywhere near a Lululemon store.

Enter the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman  top. This deceptively simple wee number can be made either in woven or knit fabrics. It has dolman sleeves (surprise) , a facing on the neckline & hem, with the option of a cute tie detail.

Literally watching grass grow…

Now clearly I’m not a woman about to head out the door for a brisk 5 km. In fact I was off to lunch (now that’s something I’ll run for) , when I brought the pattern I didn’t have any suitable knit fabric, I did however have this lovely light cotton from Drapers Fabrics. Perfect for a light casual top to throw over jeans, it would also give me the chance to test the sizing before I embarked on my active wear adventure.


I cut a size 18 Bust grading out to size 20 at the waist & hips. The pattern was a breeze to put together, the only alteration I made was to add an additional 4 “/10 cm to the sleeve, I wasn’t sure where it would hit my arm, but I’m really happy with the additional coverage, and will add the extra to my knit version also.

Slightly fitted but not tight

I cut a straight hem, for my knit version I’m going to try the cute tie detail. Actually it would also work with a woven, so watch this space. I’d also like to add width to the woven sleeves & insert some elastic for a cuff effect, like the Montrose this is a simple top that can carry plenty of creative alterations.

For NZ peeps, Spotlight are having a cracking sale at the moment, behold this pile of beauties!

Lovely soft knits

These two are knits, the bottom will be a Cedar for wearing with my black leggings for walking, the top one, I’m not sure yet, but isn’t it cute!

Rayon for the win!

I love sewing rayon. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but these bold prints & colours really caught my eye. At least one will be another Fringe dress, the orange I’m thinking a Montrose for work with black pants & wedges, comfy but still fun.

It’s been super hectic few months so I’ve enjoyed getting back into my sewing room. That is the beauty of a nice quick project, sometimes you just want to do something simple and get it finished. When not sewing I’ve been out in the garden, with plenty of rain & sunshine everything is growing incredibly fast.

Rosa “St Pretty Sure it Was a Church”

Sadly I’m terrible at remembering plant names, I kept the label for this glorious rose in a very safe place…so safe I still can’t find it, but it was definitely a church of some kind…

Hmmm, this looks interesting…


Just hangin…

Oh to be as relaxed as a cat! 🙂


Have a great week, I’m off to water the garden. Again.

Kristina x

Keeping cool with Hippolyta


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!

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.

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!

So roomy!

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


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

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?


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

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…

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…


Is it Claude or Nenuphar?


What’s in a name? I read recently that Margaret Mitchel’s original choice of name for the flawed and rather magnificent Scarlett O’Hara was…Pansy. I kid you not. A very pretty name, but can you think of any character less “Pansy” than Scarlett? Would we buy into the myth of the travelling loner Jack Reacher if our 6 ‘5″ 205 lb hero introduced himself as Gerald Ramsbottom? Closer to home what was my father thinking when he decided Kristina , ensuring for the rest of her life most anything with his daughters name written by hand would begin with a “Ch” clumsily changed into a K . He then played a blinder and gave me the second name Catherine…not with a K (cue more correcting!).

Nénuphar Jacket

I came across the Deer & Doe Nenuphar jacket when a friend of mine sent me the link to a pattern she was keen to make, the Mysostis dress. It looked super cute , but the name?? Who names a dress after a skin condition? Ok, it ISNT a skin condition…but it does bring one to mind yes? When I actually looked it up the name relates to a branch of plants including Forget Me Nots. ( but we’ve still renamed it the Psoriasis dress…) The Nenuphar is a water lily, so in honour of the finest I’ve ever seen let me introduce you to my Monet jacket.


Its a simple unlined jacket with no fastenings, a cute back gather detail & two sleeve variations. Oh and pockets. I knew I had some soft laundered linen in my stash from my fav store Miss Maude that would be perfect, this colour is Oxblood from Merchant & Mills.


Size 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48* 50* 52*
Bust (inches) 31½ 33 34½ 36¼ 37¾ 39½ 41 42½ 44⅛ 45⅝
Waist (inches) 23½ 25¼ 26¾ 28½ 30 31½ 33 34⅝ 36¼ 37¾
Hip (inches) 33¾ 35½ 37 38½ 40¼ 41¾ 43¼ 44⅞ 46½ 48
Finished garment 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48* 50* 52*
Bust (inches) 38⅝ 40⅛ 41¾ 43¼ 44⅞ 46½ 48 49⅝ 51⅛ 52¾
Hip (inches) 47¼ 48⅞ 50⅜ 52 53½ 55⅛ 56¾ 58¼ 59⅞ 61⅜
Length A (inches) 23⅛ 23⅜ 23⅝ 23⅞ 24⅛ 24⅜ 24⅝ 24¾ 25 25¼
Length B (inches) 24¾ 25 25¼ 25⅜ 25⅝ 25⅞ 26⅛ 26⅜ 26⅝ 26⅞

I cut a size 52, I’m an inch or two outside the size range but as you can see there is plenty of ease. The PDF came together really easily, I made Version A, which is shorter & does not have the sleeve frill. I actually cut 3 inches/6 cm off the sleeve as I felt they were too “flappy” alongside the loose fit of the jacket. I’m very happy to report no full bicep adjustment required!

Picture number 467…I’m having fun, can you tell?

I particularly like the back gather detail, it makes the jacket feel a bit more special. I’ve also seen a fab version online with the gathering replaced by an inverted pleat, you know I love those.


I love this back gather detail!

Did I mention pockets?


I’ve not made Deer & Doe patterns before, the instructions were great, really clear, and everything came together easily , not something I often say when making a jacket, however simple!  I certainly made life easier using a stable linen, but I do think a rayon or double gauze version for Summer would be lovely.

There is something about a soft crumpled linen jacket, I feel like I should make one in navy linen, after my most fav gardener, Monty Don.

Cute labels from Kylie and the Machine 

I showed my Mum and she was most impressed (that isn’t easy, trust me!) We visited the garden center today. Since November last year we have been working on the outside of our little house, replacing the fence, adding approx 2000 sq meters of decking & landscaping. When I say “we” I mean people who actually know what they are doing. Which isn’t Glenn & I. I know that makes us sound like insufferable wankers, but honestly, paying the coin if you can and letting people who know what they are doing, do, is a great way to get a decent result. And stay married.

I was most pleased with our landscape designer, and am waiting with anticipation for Spring to really kick in & everything to come to life. Not so my darling Mum, who certainly does know a thing or two about gardening. I’ve been told multiple time I “need a bit more colour”. Given my instruction to lovely Melissa our designer was “I like white & green…and may a bit of cream but don’t go silly” you can anticipate why my garden isn’t exactly technicolor . This is my mother’s. She is now in a retirement village but our house growing up was on a 1/4 acre with the most FAB garden, all done on the smell of an oily garden glove. She is the real deal.

You can see where I get my love of mustard clothing…

So you can imagine the discussions that took place at the garden center today, when we went to have lunch & pick up a “couple of Lavenders” (me attempting to add a splash of colour…)



As am I in a fabric shop, is my Mother in a garden center. Isn’t it great to have a passion!

Have a fab week (in the garden, the sewing room or all points in between)

Kristina (with a K) x

Emelia for Spring

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.

20190831_110939 (2)
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.

20190831_111225 (2)

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.

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.

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

Changing up with Montrose…


I’m laughing in the face of a cold , can you tell? Between Mr D putting his back out & my almost-but-not-quite Manflu it’s been a symphony of sniffling & shuffling at Plum Towers this week. Sewing has taken a back seat to sitting on the couch with Netflix , a box of tissues & a LemSip. I don’t often get colds, which is good , I’m a moaning Minnie when I do (apparently…!)

I cut a couple of Cashmerette Montrose tops out a few weeks ago, and finally got around to finishing them over the weekend. I’ve made the pattern several times before, this time I had a couple of pieces of precious fabric to use, always good to start with a tried & tested pattern adding a couple of details to change it up.

Love me a cute frill…and animal print. And gold!

First up some Atelier Brunette dreamy double gauze from  Miss Maude, this fabric is just so lovely to sew and to wear. It’s soft, light yet warm and the gold dots add a gorgeous detail on the rich chestnut colour, perfect for a grey Auckland day. It isn’t cheap, so I wanted make something I could wear with jeans on the weekend, but also for work.

I cut my usual Size 16 C/D bust, grading to an 18 at the waist & a 20 at the hip. So what changes did I make to the basic Montrose pattern?

First up, a frill all around the hem. I cut two rectangles of fabric on the fold, each one 29 x 54 cm (8″ x 21″) . I ran two rows of gathering stitches along one long edge of each piece, stopping 2-3 cm from the edge to allow for joining together (you don’t want to sew over your gathering stitches ) Join the two pieces together at the short edge to form a large circle, finish your seams, then begin gathering until the loop fits the lower hem of your bodice. It doesn’t actually take as long as you would think, trust me, the double gauze is quite stable, so the gathers tend to stay in place as you work. I trimmed about 10 cm/4 ” off my bodice, you might want to pin/baste the frill in place while you decide where you want it to sit on your body. Hem to finish (ok it’s a VERY long hem, won’t lie.)


I used the large bicep sleeve piece (worth the price of the pattern alone, seriously) , and added a small amount of gathering around the sleeve to make it sit closer in to my elbow, before using binding to finish the hem. I almost always forget I only need one piece of binding when cutting out pattern that uses it around a neckline, and usually end up cutting two on the folded fabric,  so I often finish my sleeves with it also.

Yeah, it is gonna rain again…

All up I’m really happy with this top, next time I would gather the sleeves in a little more, and use visible binding around the neckline . Perfect with jeans & some subtle animal print/gold espadrilles, roll on Summer!

So from the ease of wonderful stable double gauze to the slinky headache that is viscose.


Yep, this is what I intended all along…

Ok how gorgeous is this fabric! Thanks to birthday vouchers, I treated myself, the colour combination is very me ( I’ve made my feelings on mustard very clear) , I rarely wear plain white. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of disturbance in the Force or what but as soon as I put on a white top whatever I happen to be eating has an immediate gravitational pull right down my front, a bowl of spaghetti & I look like an extra from CSI. But print, oh it hides a multitude of sins!

So back to me on my sickbed. What shouldn’t you do with a stinking cold? Ok besides going into work and coughing all over everyone while moaning about how bad you feel? DON’T BIND ANYTHING. EVER. IT WILL LOOK LIKE THIS.

Oh dear…

More ripples than a bag of chips. Also what is going on with those clumsy pin tucks you may ask. Indeed. I had an idea, the execution left much to be desired, lets leave it at that shall we?

So my bright idea was to add cute little pin tucks at the front of my Montrose, visible binding around the neckline, with small tucks at the sleeve hem, also bound. I thought the light viscose would lend itself to the tucks, while still allowing the lovely print to shine.

A face that says yes I have a cold…but look at my new top hey!

To achieve my modifications on this one I wanted three tucks ether side of the center front. I ended up adding 10 cm/4″ to the middle of the front bodice, to allow for this. I also cut the extra piece of binding to use on my sleeves. So as you can see, I have an inverted pleat on my fabulous fabric, what happened? Well those pin tucks were not easy , or successful, the fabric is soft with a wee bit of bounce , it really didn’t want to hold those pleats at all. Trying to sew them maxed out on Panadol & Robitussin probably didn’t help to be fair… I then compounded the situation by adding my neckline binding. No, I don’t know what I was thinking except that clearly I wasn’t thinking.

After much faffing and unpicking (my Superpower remember!) I removed the binding, and unpicked all the tucks. In the end an inverted pleat seemed the best way to gather the fabric while still providing an interesting visual detail. I did the same on the sleeves, which I actually really like.

A little obsessed with sleeve details…

The neckline binding isn’t ideal, but I’d given the binding and neckline such a hard time already I’m thankful it’s at least wearable. Next time perhaps a visible but smooth binding, inserted with a clear head , yes?



Its still a lovely top , perfect for work with my mustard cardi.

If anything , besides not sewing with a cold, this exercise has taught me I need to be more considerate of the properties of my fabric before I just go for it with a cunning plan. I’ve sewn pin tucks before, on linen, which is a whole different ball game. Actually a linen pin tuck Montrose would be very cute…

Stop & think before you bind people!

I hope you have had a fabulous week, it stopped raining long enough this morning for Mr D to get out in the garden weeding. No doubt he will be complaining of a sore back later, sadly drowned out by the sound of me coughing…

Take your Vitamin C kids!

Kristina x