Another Fielder in the garden

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Do I look like I’m getting better at standing around posing in the garden? No, I didn’t think so either. Oh well, at least the sun is out and I have something new to wear while I’m doing it.

I’ve made several Merchant & Mills Fielder dresses, I like the easy style and it’s a reasonably quick sew, even for me. I didn’t have enough of this brown spotty rayon from Spotlight to make the dress , I can’t remember what I brought this for (I do recall I was with my BFF and she commented “oh that’s very you…I don’t really like it to be honest”…) but it reminded me of animal print, of which I am QUITE the fan (yes, especially on shoes!)

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Hi neighbor…again

This is the top version, it was originally going to be another Fantail , but I remembered I had a whole bottom row of ribbing from the Great Bomber Jacket disaster of 2018, the cuffs & sleeves of which also went into a Fielder.  Unfortunately I had to unpick the remnants of its previous short-lived life first. If their were a World Cup of unpicking I would surely be on Team NZ! But worth the effort, it wasn’t cheap and such a waste not to be used.

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One of my Superpowers…unpicking!

The last few Fielders I made I’ve used the striped Merchant & Mills rib, it’s lovely, but quite a bit stiffer than the rib knit I had. I can see the neckline needed to be a few cm shorter using this rib, its slightly too loose. I wished I’d seen that before I overlocked it on of course!

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I was concerned after cutting out the top would end up being too short, & I think for next time I will add a couple of cm to the length. I’ve possibly put on a couple of kg since last time I used this pattern , the upper arm area feels slightly snugger than I’d like , and with a singlet underneath its a wee bit tight across my bust. I may try to eat slightly less than my body weight in mashed potato & pasta this winter…or I may cut a bigger size next time?

For reference, as per my first Fielder, I very inexpertly graded the pattern up myself, happily Merchant & Mills are currently working on a whole new block in a bigger size range, up to a size 28 or 30, no doubt much more accurately than I.  If you want to read further details see this post.

Im pretty excited by this news, I love the style of their patterns, not to everyone’s taste but I feel put together & grown up in their designs, not to fussy but nice detailing. Plus so many of them work perfectly with linen, my most favorite fabric ! I just need to live somewhere a tad warmer…

So, whats next?

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All the pretty things…

 

I’m consciously trying to use up fabrics & patterns from my stash, rather than being blinded by all the pretty things & purchasing yet more. Not only is this better for the environment, its better for the state of my marriage, not listening to the Minister of Finance wandering through the kitchen waving the Visa statement around exclaiming “HOW MUCH??!” is really quite nice. Not that I was actually listening anyway…

I’ve made a couple of Montrose tops already, this fabric was quite spendy so I want to make something I know I like, fits me & I will wear. The chestnut double gauze will have a cute frill around the bottom hem, the delicious white fabric will have some pretty pin-tucks on the front bodice, french seams & binding around the sleeve hem.

I’m hoping to get 30-60 mins sewing done each evening, I struggle with sewing dark colours at night (yes, I’ve booked an optometrist appointment) but lighter fabric is easier. Oh the joys of powering into middle age!

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This was AFTER picking 99 limes…yes, we counted

Other weekend fun? When the universe gives you an abundant lime tree , you make lime pickle!

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Jars of sour joy…

I’m looking forward to curry nights in a few months time when jars of these beauties will be ready to eat. A work colleague told me how to make them, she knows her stuff when it comes to food (her Tomato Kasundi recipe I’ve been using for years) , apparently she eats this on toast, crumpets, the works. I love it involves opening a packet of Achar Masala spice mix and adding to sterilized jars filled with limes, salt & sugar. We don’t use any chemicals on our fruit (or much attention to be honest, Tough Love Gardening according to Mr D) I cant wait to taste them!

Have a fabulous week

Kristina xxx

 

The cat that got the Fantail…

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So, what’s occurring? Me? Oh I’m great, I’ve discovered a fab chicken recipe, seen a great movie, and gone full crazy cat lady. In just a couple of weeks!

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Gardening, my style…

I came across this beauty at Drapers Fabrics . Look closely at the pattern. To be honest I didn’t click at first, I just liked the feel of the viscose, a bit more weighty than usual, plus the colours & pattern felt quite 30’s in style. Naturally once I realized, I HAD to buy it!

So what to make? I thought a top of some sort maybe…( yes my name is Kristina & I do buy fabric without the first clue what I’m going to us it for)  I wish I were more focused. I also wish I talked a bit less & had bigger lips. Sometimes we just need to live with our flaws yes?

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The pattern I eventually settled on was the Fantail Shirt by NZ company The Sewing Revival. I really liked the simple lines, with the cute gathered detail at the front. I also liked the low gathered back hem, right up until I actually tried it on. I had exactly the same issue with this make, I’m super conscious of fabric clinging to my butt , while the poplin had a bit of heft, the viscose REALLY clung, hmmmm.

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Perfect length for me

In the end I trimmed off the scooped hem & leveled it up, for me this just felt like something I’d be much more inclined to wear.

I made the 2XL of this pattern, some of the other patterns in the range go up to 4XL, but this one doesn’t, which is a shame as it’s a great shape & so easy to sew and wear. I have contacted the designer to see if the size range will be expanded but haven’t heard back yet.

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I found the instructions and photo really easy to follow. In fact I would definitely recommend this pattern for beginners, there is a lot of instruction, (for me  possibly overkill,)  but for a less experienced sewer it would be really helpful. The cuffed sleeve & front gather detail make this appear a more complicated sew than it actually is, for a beginner with great instructions that can’t be a bad thing.

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It’s hard to see the front gather in photos on such a busy fabric, but it is really effective. Stopping the top from becoming really large & loose around the hem, while still keeping it relaxed and comfortable.

So comfortable in fact, that when your husband suggests you pose like the front of a 70’s knitting pattern, you agree! What was it with the crotch shots?

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why do I listen to him….?

You might notice a few of these pics in front of a garden that looks like it been taken over with bamboo?

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I cant see us at Chelsea to be honest…

Tuppence has made it her mission in life to dig up all the soil in this new planter bed, will she be dissuaded by a bit of bamboo? Hmmm….at least in the meantime we have some herbs & salad hey?

Next project? I’m using this rib, cut off the great Bomber Jacket Disaster of 2018.

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Waste not, just waste not…

Another Fielder top,  in rayon, I couldn’t resist this combo. Despite my BFF telling me “I don’t really love that”. I’m all over anything that says animal print, how could I resist?

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Grrrrrr!

So the movie? I saw Little Woods with my pal Vanessa (yes, she of the critical fabric review). It’s a modern Western Crime film, typically miserable (we have extremely divergent taste in films & books), but I actually enjoyed this one. If there is anything to remind you how lucky we have it in NZ with nationalized health care, it’s seeing the consequences for those that don’t. Sobering, if entertaining viewing.

I’ll leave you with Tommy living his best life, precariously balanced on a chair, under the heat pump, looking out the window. Cats are clearly not crazy, never mind their owners (or staff, as it were )

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Have a great week!

UPDATED TO INCLUDE CHICKEN RECIPE! ( which I forgot but is most delicious!)

Chop 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite sized chunks, and marinate in ¼ cup of soya sauce, a ¼ tsp of sesame oil, a glove or two of garlic , grated & a thumb sized piece of ginger peeled & grated.  After approx. 30 mins (or as long as you like) stir in a couple of tbsp of cornflour & a good grind of black pepper. Fry over medium heat in canola or sunflower oil until crispy, golden & cooked through

While chicken is cooking, steam some rice & broccoli (or any other green you like). Serve cooked chicken over the rice with the broccoli, some finely sliced cabbage, & a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Top with a drizzle of Kwepie mayonnaise & a drizzle of sesame dressing (or hoisin or teriyaki sauce would also work). Some Japanese pickled ginger would be nice to.

Last time I made this I marinated twice as much chicken & cooked double the rice, then frozen half in the marinade & half the rice in a freezer bag, so its ready to defrost & cook for a quick dinner

Kristina x

 

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

 

Getting my match on with Tania

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So, I made a pair of pants. And a skirt. At the same time. While perfectly matching my cardi to my shoes. IS THERE NO END TO THIS WOMAN’S SUPERPOWERS???!!!*

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Ok, it isn’t strictly a skirt, but my latest make, the Tania culottes from Megan Neilson Patterns have all the lovely swish of a skirt, with the security of knowing should I need to break out some interpretative dance moves (or ok, more likely,  walk through a stiff breeze) I’m sparing the universe the sight of my knickers. In the words of lovely work colleague from my London days, “it’s always good to keep yourself nice” .*

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The fabric is a rayon from Spotlight , I wanted something really soft and drapey, but I didn’t want to use anything too expensive, I haven’t used Megan Neilson patterns before and I do have a history of messing up pants. This pattern uses a LOT of fabric! I made View C in size 22, so I used up all of the 4 meters /4.25 yards of fabric I had. Thankfully it was on sale.

Now, these puppies are not perfect. I used the wrong iron on interfacing for my waistband. By the time I came to finishing up it had almost completely come away from my fabric. I find knit interfacing seems to be much more stable when using rayon, but I’d run out so used the standard version. Lesson learned.

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I only pull this pose out for special occasions,  honest..

Because the waistband isn’t as stiff as it should be, and is possibly a tad too big it does tend to slip down. It isn’t a major , but next time I will be probably go down a size so the waistband sits up on my natural waist (which is high!).

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That face …”Pockets so deep Im actually concerned I’ve lost a hand…”

 

Now, shall we talk pockets? These beauties are deep! Full hand coverage, nice shape & sitting at just the right height (unlike my last make, which involved moving the pockets 10 cm/ 5 inches???)

The instructions are good, but I would also HIGHLY recommend the sew along on the Megan Neilson website, I’m quite a visual learner so I love me a good sew along. Lets be honest, Indie patterns are expensive (although here in NZ even Big 4 patterns are usually $15-18 so not cheap) . But the accountant in me also factors in things like this. I’m a confident sewer, and yes, I could trawl You Tube for the right tutorial for any given situation. Or ask my Mum! But when I can open the tablet, and find exactly the tips & tricks I need for what I’m making right now? Added value.

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Easy peezy…

I did my first invisible zipper on these culottes and it was a breeze!

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Actually on the subject I should say this garment is both Mum & Mum in Law certified. Mum was well impressed , she actually brought the same fabric , and one my best friend also purchased on a recent Spotlight outing. I mentioned this to Vanessa & commented we really are turning into our Mums. She did point out they dress really well, which is good since we got their bingo wing arms…they owe us good dress sense at least. That’s my Mum in an outfit she made which I love, so chic! And my goodness how tiny is that waist (pre five daughters…)

Mum

I didn’t make any alterations to this pattern, and to be honest other than sizing down I don’t think I will, which is praise indeed! I made the PDF version, which came together nicely, and in the interests of open kimono I got this pattern gratis in exchange for a review on the Curvy Sewing Collective website , I’d like to think you know me well enough to know I’ll tell it how it is regardless, but if in doubt, I’m wearing this outfit to work tomorrow feeling very pleased with myself, I cant say higher than that!

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I’m calling this one “crazy cat woman in the wind” 

 

Because Tommy is such a photo hog I’m sharing Tuppence, doing what she does best…

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Tuppence living her best life 

He isn’t happy..

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Tommy plotting Dad’s downfall…

I cant leave this post without addressing whats been happening in my country over the last few weeks. This is a fun, generally happy mostly sewing and cats space, but in reality I’ve been neither happy nor inclined to sew. A man with gun walked into a Mosque, a place of worship,  & gunned down innocent people at prayer. He killed 50, injured many more, shattered families & irrevocably changed how we feel about our country.

I’ve many thoughts & feels on this, but to be honest as a white woman of relative privilege I don’t think my reckons are the one that need to be heard or listened to right now. Instead, the voices of those actually dealing with this , both the immediate atrocity, and the underlying issues. The hash tag #thisisntus kinda irked me, I wont lie. It is us. I grew up in South Auckland, my best friend is Maori, there IS racism, everyday, to say it isn’t us is nonsense, and until we address it, it will continue to be us. If I can say nothing else this week it would be to call it out. Call out all those crappy comments, the snide remarks, the outright bullshit & maybe, we can make a change. Don’t enable crap. Call it out. And back up your friends/whanau/colleagues/strangers calling it out.

Have a better week lovely people

Kristina x

 

* I can also thread an overlocker, and whip up a roast dinner with my eyes closed. I can’t tell left from right however, so if your superhero needs to travel, don’t call me….

* Said colleague went to Canada on a rodeo holiday & ended up having a torrid affair with a cowboy. Don’t keep yourself TOO nice kids! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the wild…my way

 

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Hello again, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend! Mine started well, picking Mum’s overlocker off after a full service, she’s been itching to get it back so I was happy to oblige. Sadly the key fob for our car finally bit the dust, refusing to open the door, instead setting the immobilizer AND the alarm off. I spent two hours sitting by the car with an overlocker waiting for the AA, looking a bit grumpy  ( and probably slightly odd…)

Anyway, after a bit of a knit fest it was nice to get back to some wovens, and I must say I picked a goodin. A trip to Spotlight with a fellow sewing pal last weekend was a real treat, so many lovely new fabrics, including a fab white spotty cotton sateen that reminded me of animal print…which I seem to be extremely fond of yes? . I’ve never sewn with it before, what a joy, so stable, both to cut out and to sew. Plus it was 40% off, yeow!

I talked in my last post about the discussions going on in the sewing community concerning inclusivity, and one of those things was buying and using patterns from designers with size ranges that don’t really accommodate larger sizes. I’m on the cusp (my sister has a slight lisp and hearing her say that word is one of life’s small joys) of many pattern companies, often squeaking in at the top end of their size range. But for some designers, I’m WAY off the chart, and to be honest, if I’m going to pay top dollar , I don’t fancy then having to grade a pattern to actually get it in the ballpark of fitting me. NZ is a looooong way from anywhere* really so we tend to pay more for goods from anywhere outside the Pacific due to transport & FX costs.

Instead of buying a pattern for a super cute top I spotted recently (a good 4-5 inches outside my size, boo!), I thought I’d work with a couple of patterns I already have.

 

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So chic!

The Cuff Top by Assembly Line patterns, perfect for work with nice pants, equally appropriate for the weekend. So how to make a perfect version for me?

First, the cuff detail is the feature, and I have just the pattern.

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The Asymmetric Dress  from The Makers Atelier has the perfect cuff detail, so now I need the top to attach them to…

Step up…

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One of my fav patterns, I’ve made the Montrose several times before, and I love that I can create something I really want without recreating the wheel.

First step was to use some of my fabric to create a mock up of the sleeve detail, this was the unknown, and the bit I wanted to get spot on, its the “star of the dish” …if I were a slightly annoying TV cooking show…

I took the Montrose sleeve I’ve use before (all hail the full bicep sleeve!) and added width to allow for the gathering of the cuff. I then followed the instructions for inserting the elastic as per the Makers Atelier pattern, although of course I forgot to add length to allow for folding up the fabric to create the channel for the elastic, doh!

 

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Not a bad first attempt, although too short…

Using the fabric I intended for the whole garment allowed me to get a good idea for the feel and how it worked with the elastic, it was surprisingly easy and I love the effect of the gathered cuff. Next steps…

Taking my pattern piece and adding length as well as width. In my case I squared off the size 16 full bicep piece, which added approx 3-4 cm (1.5-2 inches) to each side, plus an additional 5 cm to the length of the sleeve.

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To make up the cuff, sew your sleeve together at the side seam, then fold a 1 cm (1/2 inch) hem.

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Measure your elastic & sew the short ends together. I used 4 cm (2 inch) elastic, which I stretched around my arm to give a firm but not tight band.

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Next, I folded my sleeve hem up another 5 cm (2.5 inches) and ironed it to create a hem to follow (this is exponentially easier with a nice firm fabric like sateen!)

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Now, take your elastic, and line the seam up with the seam on your sleeve hem, slipping it inside the fabric channel. Yes, it will feel weird as there is way more fabric than elastic but bear with me caller!

Now on your machine & working from the wrong side, line up the top of your sleeve hem fold with your needle, you want to encase the elastic but not stitch into it. Lower the needle & off you go. Honestly, its not as terrible as it looks!

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The trick is to stretch the elastic, but be careful not to sew into it. Once you reach the end you will have fabric you can straighten out so your gather is nice & even , with elastic that hugs your arm without cutting off circulation. If your fingers turn blue please take off your top & have another crack!

 

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I can do it! And smile like a loon while I do..

The Montrose has darts, which are not included in my inspiration pattern, but to be honest I think for those of us with a fuller bust a bit of shaping is essential , while still maintaining a reasonably boxy look. It’s all in the proportions. Like many things really.

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Now please admire my lovely flat neckline binding, after the horrors of stretched out knit necklines it  was rather heartening to make something that actually lay nice & flat!

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Me about to tell Tuppence not to jump on the table! Tuppence jumped on the table.

To complete the look?

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I do seem to have a thing going on…

 

So, not a perfect re-creation, but I think a great homage to a pattern I admire, while keeping my own values & aesthetic….and actually not spending any money on a new pattern, huzzah!

Kristina x

*If you’ve never been to this neck of the woods, imagine getting on a plane & taking off from Auckland due North West,  out over the huge dark Pacific ocean. A few hours later you’ve had pre-dinner drinks, dinner, maybe a movie, possibly an argument with your husband, but guess what? You’re still in the middle of nowhere. It’s literally nothing but ocean the whole time you look out the window. A few fitful hours sleep, and after eight hours you can wave at Hawaii as you pass a few tiny spots of light in the distance. After that,  settle back for another fours hours or so of nothing but water before the bright lights of LA come into view. Its a bloody big ocean!

 

Concord my way (no highway involved)…

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SO, the question. Why would you bother making a tee shirt? Surely if there is one item of clothing that can be found anywhere, in most sizes, its the humble tee?

Well, yes & no. You can find inexpensive tee shirts all over the place, but lets be honest, a $5 tee might seem cheap, but its costing somewhere. Be it child labour in back street sweat shops, cotton made in factories spewing crap into the environment, you get the picture.

Conversely, on of my sisters recently paid $140 for a tee shirt. Yes it was lovely ethically produced cotton, and yes, it looked fab, but my inner sewer couldn’t help but think wow, that’s a VERY simple shape!

Also tee shirts are very personal things. For me, the perfect version is “long enough”, which can vary, but never so short I feel like I need to pull it down to avoid muffin top flash (and God forbid never cropped, that ship sailed the same time my 501’s left town.) Sleeves should be elbow length, and snug but not so tight my arms look like strangled sausages. Because I have a larger bust, the necklines I prefer are a scoop, V or a nice boat neck. A high neck tee on me can look “mammaryish” for want of a better phrase!

 

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Love these colours

Enter the Cashmerette Concord, a pattern I have had for ages, but never quite got around to making (I have to be in the mood for knits). It has a variety of options, from neckline, sleeve & length, which means I can have exactly the tee I want, every time.

This is actually the first make I have lined up for my Make Nine challenge for 2019 , check out mine & other fab sewists over on the Curvy Sewing Collective .

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Yes, the lawn does need work, I don’t need reminding…

I chose View C, which is the longest tunic length, with a curved hem, elbow sleeves, and cute sleeve tabs. As I imagine all those Chefs on Food Network would put it, its “a tee, but with the volume turned up”!*

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I’m actually admiring my new clothes line. I haven’t had one for FIVE years!

The fabric is a reasonably thick stretch cotton, next time I would probably go with something slightly lighter, I feel like it clings a little more than I like. I THINK it’s from Spotlight, but to be honest its been in my stash for yonks, so I’m not 100% sure. But I love the cute print, which is why I brought it !

This is a nice easy sew, even with the curved hem & the sleeve tabs. As usual with Cashmerette patterns the instructions & size range are excellent. I cut a 18 C/D bust, grading to a 20 waist and hip, mainly due to the “cling” factor of my fabric . My last Cashmerette  make, the Pembroke was a 16 C/D in a much more stretchy fabric.

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No strangled sausage happening here thank you very much…

The only alteration I made was to add approx. 5 cm (2 ‘ ) to the sleeve, using this method. Jenny now adds full bicep sleeves to some of her patterns but this one is a few years old. I have 16 ‘ biceps so it’s one I do often!

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My twin stitching needs work, but I feel my neckline binding game is strong?

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I actually really like the length, but I think it would work better in a lighter, slightly less clinging fabric, I’m ok with my lumps & bumps (or should I say curves & gradients, sounds better?!), but I don’t like to feel like an over stuffed sofa hey?

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I already have my next Concord lined up, this time a striped version, with gold sparkles from Spotlight, who doesn’t need a bit of gold sparkle in their life, seriously?

It’s been an interesting week in the sewing community. A conversation blew up on Instagram (as things are wont to do on Social Media), about inclusive in patterns & pattern companies, the difficulties involved with plus size” patterns & it would seem, in plus size bodies…?

I made a short comment about my thoughts on Instagram here (ok, it was short because Instagram has a word limit on their posts.). I have a lot more thoughts on this one, but I’ve learnt from past experience sometimes its good to step back, let it all percolate & write from the informed perspective…as opposed the ragey Oh FFS give me a break one. I also cleaned & oiled my sewing machine & overlocker yesterday, so I clearly have some peak level adulting thing going on…

In the meantime, please check out Megan’s awesome post which has lots of food for thought and a great list of inclusive pattern companies**. Lets make our $$$ talk.

Now, I’ll leave you with this pic of my husband, we went shopping recently for outdoor furniture for our new deck. He LOVES watching movies, and decided this would be the perfect indoor lounging chair for his new 55″ TV. . I thought it was a bit big.

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Please bear in mind he is 6″ 3″…

We didn’t buy the chair.

Have a lovely week! Its Auckland Anniversary day here so I’ve had a whole day off, and a four day week to follow, huzzah!

 

Kristina xxx

 

* My personal fav is Ina Garten. I want her house. And her Barn. And her life, basically.

**I intend to put this list on my blog permanently, I just need to consult a willing tech savvy young person to help me & ensure I don’t actually lose my mind doing so.

 

 

Well, Pembroke almost made Christmas…

 

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Still staggered how much screws costs (says new deck owner)

Hello, Miri Kirihimete and almost Happy New Year to you. I’d like to pretend this is me swanning about on my new deck on Christmas Day.

Alas, firstly Christmas Day 2018 was WET here in Auckland. Despite the fancy new pergola our amazing builders worked like demons to get up in time for the 25th, the horizontal precipitation defeated us. Watching my husband & brother in law play Jenga with three sun umbrellas trying to provide additional shelter was pretty entertaining however…

 

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Go West! Or North, in this case…

Secondly I hadn’t actually finished my Christmas Day dress. Or indeed started it (although I did pre-washed my fabric, does that count?) As per usual, my ambition far exceeded my time, skills & motivation.

But come these delicious quiet days between Christmas & New Year, where you have to consult a calendar to figure out what day it is, I figured I could get busy. Half of Auckland has left town, the fridge is full of leftovers & I can can sew my heart out.

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Just hangin’ on my deck, as you do. Actually we have no deck furniture so standing is obligatory.

After the success of my Pembroke trial run,  I knew a dress version in the rayon knit I picked up from Spotlight was perfect. Festive, without actually being covered in elf’s & holly (not that I would object to that AT ALL), stretchy (always a bonus when contemplating that 5th mince pie), and quick to sew. Ok, not quick enough for me to get it done in time for Christmas day, but still pretty darn speedy eh?

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Tommy being ultra cute off camera

I love this pattern. The scoop neckline is perfect for me (the pattern also comes with a higher jewel neckline that would be great for cooler weather), and the method of binding is wonderfully non tear inducing.  I personally really like the waist ties, being short waisted they pull me in at my slimmest part, so I don’t feel frumpy, but I’ve seen some really cute versions without.

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Ties call for fiddling…

 

Please excuse the slightly wobbly hemming, lordy I hate hemming knits. I hate hemming in general but knits, with a side split? Ekk! So worth it though, with such a simple shape it’s the details that make the difference, even if I do need a glass of Chardonnay each time I use my twin needles.

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Well, that would be a booty call I believe…?

Once again I took approx. 5 cm off the sleeves before adding the cuffs, I prefer the length just below my elbows.

All in all, the prefect summer Xmas/Festive frock.

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I look like I’m “up to mischief” according to my husband?!

So, my last make for 2018. Its been a busy year, both in the sewing room & out. While I’m pretty happy with progress, there is a lot to learn in 2019. Without turning into a whole “lets lose weight, learn a language & discover yoga” type of conversation, a couple of thoughts:

Learn to use the myriad of special feet I brought when I brought my Janome. No, the button hole foot does not count.

Properly measure and label my fabric stash. All of it, not just the top six pieces…before wandering off to watch Food Network.

Use at least two of the patterns in my stash before buying another one. At least. Or at least one. Or none but only on VERY special occasions. Ditto fabric .

Remember, if I like it, make it. Bugger “flattering”.

Finish the bloody novel!

Other thoughts ?

Favorite make of 2018:  I’ve made lots of things I’m really happy with this year, but I do really love these frocks!

Best TV Show of 2018 (nothing to do with sewing but hey ho , it’s my blog kids): The Casketeers, a NZ show now on Netflix. It’s a reality documentary following a funeral home in South Auckland. I realize probably none of that sounds completely endearing, but trust me, this is TV gold. I have literally cried buckets & laughed my arse off in the space of five minutes. Note the show is in English, with few subtitles.

Fav pic of the year not including me standing like a dork: This is two of my sisters when we were on holiday in Australia at Easter. This is everything really 🙂

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Cheers!

 

Best book of 2018: Jane Harper’s The Dry kept me absolutely turn the pages  (or flicking the Kindle, as it were). SUCH a great book (as are her two others).

Best cat pic of the year: Yep, this really is my blog kids! Check out Tommy, roaring his way into 2019!

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Now, let’s you & I do the same!

Kristina x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Fielders for my hols…kinda

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

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Bliss 🙂

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

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

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Well I think it works anyway!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Flat neckline, get me eh?!

 

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

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

Anyway, Bula!

Kristina x

 

 

 

Linen for the winnin’ Eva

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

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

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

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Full arm movement possible!

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

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

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No rear cling, we like that…

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

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Guardedly optimistic my hair is still under control…

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

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Approx 473 miles of seams & top stitching 🙂

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

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Just hangin’ with my pockets as you do

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Food. Now.

Kristina x