Charlie ditches the Seventies…

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

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

Image result for margo the good life

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


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

Such hilarity in my hedge?!

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

Channeling 70’s shampoo commercial, wont lie…

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

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

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

Darts in there somewhere!

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

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



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

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

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

I will also make the damn ties!

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

Kristina x






Another round with Lenox


Singin’ in the rain on my grubby deck!

Why yes I have been doing silly poses in my garden this weekend, what have you been up to?

I think I’m giddy with the joy of actually finishing this make. I suspect sewing a shirtdress is rather like decorating a wedding cake or tiling a bathroom. You forget how complicated and time consuming it is until you start another one?

It’s finished!!!!!!!!

This isn’t my first Lenox shirtdress. I’m actually surprised it took me so long to make another , its a lovely pattern. This time around I used a crisp cotton poplin from Spotlight. So much easier to sew than rayon, so stable! But boy did I use some poplin. Disclaimer: complete operator error. I managed to cut the sleeves pieces all the same way (hint, if your cutting multiple pieces on a single layer of fabric, follow the instructions and turn your pattern piece over hey?)

So after quick trip to Spotlight (thankfully only a 10 minute drive), I purchased another meter and away we go. Or not. In the flurry of pattern pieces (there are a lot of pattern pieces, especially as I had traced some off to grade between sizes) I managed to completely miss cutting out my button band. Naturally that needed 1.25 meters of length, not the extra meter I had. Cue another trip to Spotlight. Do they do a frequent flyer card I wonder?

The “don’t make me go back for more fabric” face right there…

This Lenox is version A, with a full collar, and pleats rather than gathers. I thought this would work better with the stiffer poplin. Now I’m pretty loose goose with pattern matching , but did I think about the fact the small “flags” on the print are directional. Um, did I go to the gym today? Of course not.

So naturally when I realized I had cut my button bands with the print facing the wrong way I briefly considered buying yet MORE fabric & re-cutting them. Then I had a Chardonnay & gave myself a talking too. Only my Mother would notice. Hopefully?

Yep, Mum noticed…

I did however re-cut my waistband, I’m think it’s an issue with my grading, but once again I was about 2.5 cm short when I came to attach my waistband. This time I measured before attaching, added that extra inch & re-cut, which I’m glad I did. My seams don’t exactly match my pleats because of the grading, so it that kind of thing will keep you awake at night, check & adjust before you attach the waistband.

I have lost a few kilos since my last Lenox, so I cut a 16 C/D Bust grading to an 18 waist & hips. The waist & hips are spot on, but I think next time I would go for an E/F cup, I have some pulling lines on the bodice which I think are due to a lack of space for the girls up front. I’d also like a little extra room to put another button on the band at the top.


A full sleeve & bicep extension pack for this pattern had been released, I used the full bicep piece for this one (I did a full bicep adjustment myself last time, I’ve managed to misfile/lose that piece so being able to just print off the new sleeve & cut it out was rather handy!)

I wasn’t sure the pleats would be the go for me, sometimes they skim, sometimes they balloon out & give you an arse the size of Australia. I think we prefer skim yes? Of course pockets are always on point.

Skim skim skim…

Now, shirtdress means buttons. Lots & lots of buttons. My Janome does a nifty job of button holes (such a step up from my old Toyota, 4 step manual process!!) but you’ve still got to sew those buttons on. I thought I was terribly clever figuring out a bodge job on my machine to do it , rather than my labored hand stitching. I know, it ridiculous, but like peeling potatoes, there are just some minor tasks I really don’t enjoy. Button sewing is one of those.

I think we can say that’s a fail?

Well button sewing can be hazardous! This is even more ridiculous when you consider I actually have a button foot, I just didn’t know how to use it. Then I went to my sisters for lunch today & found a tutorial for just that in her Threads magazine. I really needed it yesterday, but hey, I’m sure I’ll make more shirt dresses.

I’d like to make one with the long sleeve option, perversely so I can roll the sleeves up. Nothing says “I mean business, let’s crack on & you can also admire my watch/bracelet/handsome forearm while I’m at it” like a rolled up sleeve. I love the contrast between feminine dress & masculine sleeve.

I spend so much time sewing, I have no time to garden…honest.

Its been a slow process but I’m happy with my dress, although sadly given the arctic air con in my office I need to find a wee cardigan to match.

Hope you have had a fabulous week, I’ll leave you with Yorkshire puddings I’m very pleased with (although I showed my Mum & all she could say was “ewwww look at that bloody meat”! Sigh…) Edit: A few people have asked me for the recipe for my Yorkshire puds, so here it is !

In a jug whick together 3 eggs & 300 ml of whole milk with a good pinch of salt & pepper. Leave to rest for approx 30 mins, then whisk in 1 cup (150 grams) of plain flour. The consistancy should be like single cream, if its to thick add a bit more milk. Heat your roasting dish/muffin pan in a good hot 220C/430F oven, with a bit of oil (or better still, beef dripping!)  in each dish. When its really hot, quickly take out of the oven & pour in your batter, it should sizzle when it hits the fat. Put straight back in the oven & cook for approx 30 mins until puffed & golden. DROWN in good gravy!

Perfect rugby watching supper (don’t worry, there was gravy too!)

And my husband being deeply disloyal to Tommy & Tuppence, fraternizing with George, who my sister is currently dog sitting:)

Animal whisperer x

Have a fab week, apparently Spring is approaching in my neck of the woods, despite the fact the wind is currently rolling straight off the snow!

Kristina x


Winter in Sapporo…


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

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


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

“Chic & Mysterious “

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

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

These fabrics!

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

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

Why yes that is a proper lining thanks…

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


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

I do love those seams…

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

Lush silk

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

Trying to make it look colder than it actually is…

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

Coat making? Do it.

Kristina x



Pippi is no school girl now…


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

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


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

Eyes on me not the deck thanks!!!

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

I like this silhouette

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

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

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

Crazy cat lady lives here…

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

I do love pretty lining!

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


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

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

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

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

Kristina x

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

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




I heart Ngaio…


After the unpicking shenanigans of last weekend, I really needed a reliable pattern I knew would turn out , fit well & not drive me to drink. The universe was clearly listening, and when my favorite blouse  finally bit the dust*, I knew what I needed to do.

Hello again the Ngaio blouse from Scroop patterns. I love the drape around my bust, I love those gathers, I love that this looks way more complicated than it actually is to sew, I love that it has a 30’s vibe, I could be in one of the magnificent Dame’s books surely?


Also timely perhaps, after some of the images we’ve probably all seen recently , is this love heart scattered fabric from Drapers Fabrics. As the lady sang we really do need a lot more love in this world (and I’d add a whole heap of empathy & a big splash of common sense…)

Where is the love, the love, the love…

Anyways, while the rain poured down outside I sewed. Our neighbor two doors down is working on a large boat on his front yard, (by large I mean it was craned onto the property…!) I swear if this rain keeps up I’ll wake up one morning to Sal waving as Lynn & him sail past my window… But I stayed toasty warm indoors & soothed myself with seams that matched, clear instructions & not ONE SINGLE unpicked stitch. Boo yah!


I added a couple of cm to the sleeves , as I did when I made created the dress version of this pattern , but otherwise no alterations required, the pattern comes in various cup sizes A/B, C/D & E/F  (believe it or not I’m a A/B cup), and comes together beautifully.

Yes that is a lot of cookbooks…there are many more!

The pattern has small darts at the upper neckline & the lower back, for a vintage feel. I have a sway back so it is exaggerated here, but I like the finish.

Close up of the ladies

But it’s the finish around the bust I really like, its soft but feels quite elegant, and much more complicated than it actually is (have I said that already…?)


Perfect with this new merino cardigan I picked up at Ezibuy recently, for work this week in my chilly office !

I hope you are staying warm (or keeping cool if you are in the NH, like one of my dear friends in the UK who emailed me recently to complain about the 29 C she was “suffering” in…I took a minute off filling my hot water bottle to suggest she ENJOY it!!!???)

Yours in frost

Kristina x


*My favorite blouse came apart at the seam under the arm…but I’d ironed it, and I knew I’d keep my cardi on all day, so dear reader, I wore it anyway…



The Jacket that became a dress…


Do you like my jacket? It’s looks more like a dress you say? Well, yes, there is that…

So I actually set out to make a jacket. A Burda 6489 to be precise. I’ve been seeing cute floral bomber jackets all over the place recently, what could be better than to make my own and know it would actually fit. A grand idea in theory anyway…

*I’ll get to the good stuff, but if you don’t want to see sewing carnage, please scroll down now…


The pattern, zips and fabric, a rayon, came from Spotlight, brought on sale. The ribbing is from Miss Maude, even though it was a bit pricier I’ve used it before & really like how comfy it is, and it had good recovery, wash after wash. So I could have a super cute well fitting jacket for under $60? Yes please!

Um….no, I don’t know what I did either.

Or not, as the case may be. Things were going fine for the first half of the sew. Actually I lie, I tried to put the front zip in for the first front pocket, only to discover I’d made the gap for the zip just a bit too big. Trying to cover this might have been easier in a more stable fabric, but in slippery rayon it just snowballed into a puckered mess. Goodbye front pockets (I wouldn’t use them anyway so figured it wasn’t such a big deal.)

I had enough fabric to cut another two front pieces (My Mum always asks why I buy so much extra fabric for each pattern I make, uh hello, here’s why!), so onward and upward.


Things really started to go pear shaped when I added the knit collar, cuffs and ribbed hem. For starters the sleeves. I may being on the slightly larger end of the size continuum, but that does not mean I have freakishly long arms. I had to take a good SEVEN cm off the sleeve, and reattach my cuffs to get something, while still long, meant I could still use my hands.

The knit collar looked fine until I added the lining. That lining. I had enough fabric to double as a parachute in the body  of the jacket, but when attached to the collar, it became a pulled up puckered mess.

I was unpicking the collar for the second time when poor Mr D asked what I was doing. “I’m *%!!**&!? relaxing ok!!!”….He ventured back inside an hour later dripping in sweat………apparently even with a stinking cold, heading outside to trim the hedge is preferable to being around your wife when she is relaxing. Indeed.

That $$!*&&%??! collar….

To be honest, I’d lost my mojo by the time I got to the ribbed hem. I didn’t really understand the instructions showing how it was attached to the lining, which was so voluminous it came down past the bottom?

I hate giving up on a project, especially one I’ve spent THREE weekends on, (until a new pair of glasses, sewing black fabric at night is like sewing with my eyes closed…) but Catholic or no I’m not one for self flagellation…

However I’m also not one for waste. To quote the inimitable Nigella Lawson  “I may be extravagant, but I’m not wasteful” . I’m happy to buy the goodies, but the thought of ditching all that fabric was really annoying, especially the ribbing, which cost more than the fabric! I also liked the way the fabric & ribbing looked together.

I’ve previously made a Merchant & Mills Fielder dress, which has a knit collar & sleeves, and had the idea I could recover both the cuffs & hem, and enough fabric from the lining & outer backs (which was cut on the fold so in one piece) to make sleeves. I’d just need enough for the front and back of the dress. A quick trip to Spotlight got me the last 2 meters (still on sale, whoop!) and I was good to go.

Ok, not what I intended, but eminently wearable hey?

I’m pretty pleased with this, besides feeling all WI* reusing my disaster, the fabric makes it a little more dressy than the washed linen version, so I could wear to work. I also adjusted the neckline to be slightly higher, I thought the first version looked a bit wide on my deeply unfashionable narrow sloping  shoulders.


While I’m disappointed I don’t have a cool jacket to wear, I’m happy I do at least have a new dress, rather than yet another entry to my wadder collection. I can add a nice scarf, and when it gets cooler, my long black leather boots & a cute leather jacket will be just the ticket. And no, for the sake of my marriage I wont be trying to make a leather jacket anytime soon (although….one day grasshopper, one day)

I hope you’ve had a lovely week, and if you were attempting a jacket , it was far more fabulous than mine!

Kristina xxx

  • Ok, let’s be honest, as if anyone in the WI would make such a Horlicks of a sewing project in the first place, but still…:)


This fabric is not easy to photograph I’m told!


On the hunt in Montrose


“I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti…”

Oh Toto, I do love you! No, not the dog (although I do adore small spunky dogs,  so in Kansas with time on my hands, I would surely give the wee guy a cuddle…). Toto the band, surely winners of the “three most implausible yet brilliant words in one line of a song ever” award?

I’m celebrating my affection in the best way I know. That’s right, animal print baby! * Difficult to photograph, easy to wear. Well, I think so anyway. I love brown in all its glorious shades (IMHO a better neutral than black any day), so if I want to wear something bold in print, this is the way I go…


I’m counting the seconds until photo shoot finish & I can go & buy some eye cream…

Inspired by the sleeves on my Celia top, but wanting a higher neckline, I have made alterations to the Montrose top by Cashmerette.

Yes, you read that correctly, Standard AND Full Bicep Sleeves!!!

Now friends, I was a tester for this pattern, and I would LOVE to show you my tester version, which, despite it being my first attempt sewing silk, I was pretty happy with. Right up to the point my other half (and boy, that was tenuous for an hour or two after kids…) bunged it in the washing machine with his manky cycling kit & power washed it to death. Stern words were exchanged. And please don’t tell me I should be grateful he knows how to use the washing machine. Please.

This is a deceptively simple pattern. The one you go “hmm, do I really need that?”. Then buy & proceed to make four million variations. Yes, that one.

Strike a pose.

I made view B, which has the higher neckline, and elbow length sleeves. I used the hem frill pattern piece from my Celia pattern for my sleeve frill. Basically a piece of fabric approx 10-12 cm in width, gathered and hemmed, then attached to the bottom of the sleeve. I decided not to add a frill at the bottom in case it was a bit much . Says the woamn wearing silk leopard print…

I omitted the keyhole at the back. I also decided not to bind my neckline. The thought of binding bouncy silk made me feel slightly queasy, instead I made a simple neckline facing, using a technique from this great addition to your sewing Library.

If you only get one sewing book…

The bust darts give a nice shape, but the feel is still relaxed. The choice of sleeve length variations, and a standard or full bicep sleeve option make for a much easier life. To be honest I can’t understand why more pattern designers don’t offer this option, bingo wings are a nemesis for many of us, fact.

My sloping shoulders were fashionable once…about 400 years ago. #lateagain

I have narrow & rounded shoulders (thanks genes & years hunched over a computer !) , so I made both a narrow & forward shoulder adjustment. I used techniques from the Cashmerette Fitting for Curves online class. I’m sounding a bit fan girl today, but learning techniques from someone who has to make similar adjustments just makes sense. It took all of ten minutes & I now have a top that doesn’t slip back on my neck or flash my bra strap. Result.

Because I’m “curvy” I assume I’m going to be adjusting patterns from the off. I figure my bust and biceps are going to be problematic , and am pleasantly amazed surprised if I don’t have to make adjustments. My BFF is a good three inches taller than I, and about a standard 12-14. She has very broad shoulders , a small bust, and a very long torso with comparably short legs (I gave her some jeans that no longer fit me and no shortening was required) Despite a much more “standard” shape, she also needs to make adjustments , at least an inch or two in length on any bodice just for starters. Thank crunchie for sewing eh!?

I used a fabulous silk from The Fabric Store for this , oh my this place to a joy, a cornucopia of fabric bliss & lovely staff to boot. Silk is a joy to wear, maybe not quite so easy to sew, this puppy frayed like a …..fraying thing. In fact Mr D asked me if I was sewing my top, or wandering around the house just peeling off bits of thread and throwing them around…?

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently, here’s why.

An Easter visit to see my sister in Harrington, NSW. If you are in the area, stay here, its fab!

Crowdy Head beach, near my sister in NSW, Australia.


A busy weekend making a first birthday cake, is there anything cuter than a first birthday cake for a little girl 🙂



If you celebrate it, I hope you had a lovely Easter, I have lots more sewing lined up, will be nice to have a quite few days soon holed up in my sewing room, apparently its raining this weekend so not like I could be in the garden anyway…


Kristina x


* Obviously NO animals were harmed in the making of this top!




This is how we do fit….


Team Awesome. x

Hello again. It’s been all go here at Plum Towers, starting with a VERY flying visit to Sydney , to sew no less. Get me eh? It made me feel terribly fabulous at work Friday night drinks, for once instead of “oh you know, chores, sewing, some TV, talking to the cats” I got to throw out a casual “oh me? Off to Sydney in the morning…as you do”. Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

The reason for this little slice of glam? Jenny bringing her Cashmerette  awesomeness Down Under, in the form of three weekend sewing retreats. Sewing can be a solitary affair, and for the most part being holed up in my sewing room is a lovely break from my day job in a busy corporate office (wont lie, some of that is me getting the low down on Married at First Sight #dontjudge).

But after learning the basics over four Saturdays with a small group of fellow novices a few years back, and having so much fun sharing the experience (talking and laughing being mandatory to any learning experience surely? Ok, except in an exam situation maybe…), I’m all for group learning. After enjoying myself immensely last year at Jules pattern drafting course, I was all for something similar minus the 24 hours plane ride.


So off I went! Now, I wont lie, I haven’t done a great deal of solo travel. My first overseas flight (“Whooo, big plane”) was to leave NZ with my boyfriend/now husband to live in the UK at 24 years old. At that age my nephew had been around the world about four times! I had a wonderful week at Ballymaloe hotel and cooking school for my 30th birthday present, but even then my Achilles heel showed itself….driving 30 minutes out of Cork airport in entirely the wrong direction.  Friends, I have NO sense of direction. I feel like I’m perpetuating such a cliche, and please know I have MANY female friends who would find their way out of the jungle with a broken compass. I’m just so not one of them. Solo travel is always a bit scary for me.

Despite my evident limitations I did manage to find the Taxi stand at Kingsford Smith, and I was off. The workshop was held at Bobbin & Ink  on Parramatta Rd, a convenient twenty five minute ride , without having to go into the middle of town. So I’m feeling very smug sitting in my cab with a coffee, and I get my first taste of Sydney traffic. Or should I say Sydney road rage (on a Saturday morning no less). My driver, and a small man in a large ute had a frank exchange of views out the window & it was salty! Both parentage AND appendage size were called into question, while I sat in the back with the most horrified middle class white chick face you can conjure. Actually it was less offended and more “don’t make me late. Or lost”! He capped it off with dropping me outside Bobbin & Ink with such a surprising brake maneuver we nearly got mowed down by a bus. Thank goodness for that glass of bubbles on the plane eh?

So I was a slightly highly strung mess when I rocked into Bobbin & Ink, to be met by the pleasant hub bub of activity.


Now,  down to work. The premise of the weekend was fitting, something that really does make a difference in the look & feel of a garment, but also something that comes with experience. When I first started sewing with professional patterns, I expected to follow the instructions carefully , based on the measurements on the pattern sleeve, and hey, it would fit. Yes? I’m an accountant remember.

One of the many benefits of a “curvy” sewing weekend? A curvy girl knows fitting is a superpower, and she isn’t afraid to use it! Find those patterns that work for you. So then you don’t have to fanny around apologizing for your D/F/H cup & bootaylicious waist/hips/any damn bit you like, and can crack on to dealing with “lets make this look fabulous hey”.


Seriously, that fabric. That smile. Emma nailing her Webster top. And swans!!

We had all brought different patterns to work on, so beavered away, stopping periodically for Jenny to demonstrate various techniques. We covered plenty. FBA’s, check. Bicep adjustments,check. Rotating darts , check. Making a pattern I wasn’t sure about look A, check. Take swan fabric & rock it, check (that’s the Webster, which I wasn’t sure about when it was released, but actually really like after seeing it made up) . Take the bodice I made in the wrong size, and show me how fab it will be, check. Be very cool to have lunch with & completely hilarious , check check check.

Honestly, if my Ames jeans MUSLIN (yes!!!) looked like this? People being knocked out by high fives, just sayin….

Actually on the fan girl vibe, does one turn up at a workshop in their own made efforts? Kinda cute, or ” Jeesus wept, what in Janome has she done to our pattern:”…?  It’s a dilemma yes? I went there.

Yep, I went there. And apparently I have rictus in my jaw?

This is my Lenox , birds ahoy.

Annette, Chloe & Cassiy being interrupted by an irritating Kiwi…They took it well.
Amanda going in (wearing the most lovely Trelise shift she was lucky to leave with …I was skipping the country after all)
There was cake! Cake!!! Shout out to Gillian x


Carrie, fitting maven & all round superstar .

So was it worth the effort ? Hell yes. What did I actually make? I choose to go with the Upton dress, I’ve had the pattern for a while, but I have never made anything so fitted, or anything lined.

Sorta close but no cigar…

Did it fit? Um, no. What have I learnt? Measure. Measure. Oh did I say measure? I have a 1.5 inch difference between the last time I measured my bust and when I cut the pattern . In that tight fitting bodice? Houston we have a big problem. Actually I’m ok with that, I’ve learnt some good lessons, not least for pity’s sake don’t assume. Also that silk is a lovely fabric but a bit of a cow to sew. What should it look like? Hello Ange, and This. Really, how lovely is that fit. Needless to say I have retraced the pattern to actually fit me, and making another attempt, wish me luck.

Also I have to share the delicious breakfast I enjoyed Sunday morning. A good corn fritter is hard to find, so shout out to the Wellco café on Norton Street.

Sewing requires sustenance…


Have you been a sewing retreat/workshop? If not, give it a go. Just be careful of taxi rides…

Kristina x

* Did I survive the whole weekend without getting lost? Not quite. Apparently Parramatta Rd is VERY long, so the 17 Parramatta Rd I walked a km with my suitcase in the blazing sunshine too, is not the SAME 17 Parramatta Rd my hotel was actually located at. In fact it was 5 km in the other direction. Ho hum…



















































































































































































I’ve just old Jenny how much fabric costs in this part of the word (no worries, she came right after a few minutes…)

Sewing retreats. Would you go there?

Now back to reality……….ho hum

Kristina x




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Celia in the almost tropics…


Ok, ready for a cocktail….something in a coconut shell…or at least some ice…?

Hello from steamy Auckland. By steamy I mean 99% humidity steamy. That’s not a joke, in fact it was leading news on the main daily’s website this morning (to be fair, you’d be surprised what makes a headline on the NZ Herald). Thank goodness I have the news to tell me its hellish humid, in case my frizzy hair, “glowing” brow (ladies don’t sweat, they glow according to my Mother!)  & fetchingly melting makeup wasn’t enough of a giveaway, huzzah!

Which makes my life somewhat difficult. Steamy outside, freezing air-con all day at work. Actually in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that difficult, it just makes me a bit of a grumpy cow. Sitting by the pool in a kaftan,  slurping a ludicrously coloured beverage out of a coconut shell and discussing where to go for Happy Hour* is one thing , trying to get from the car park to your office without actually needing another shower is quite another.



I’ve made several Sew Me Something patterns before, I really like the style and fit of Jules’ designs. However I’ll be totally honest I wasn’t completely convinced when I first saw the Celia pattern. While I immediately loved the sleeves, I think it was the frill around the hip that gave me pause. Then I saw a linen version made up on Instagram , minus the frill, and I immediately saw the potential.

Hi neighbor…yep, on the posing porch again.

I’m slightly obsessed with linen, this beauty came from The Fabric Store AND it was on sale…so I brought four different colours. I know. I just adore this particular mustard shade, which goes perfectly with my leopard print loafers. Animal print is another favorite* , I’m onto about my seventh pair of leopard print shoes…

Watching Tommy try & find some relief (note, the clown has air-con inside…!). And yes, that is a wee glow on my lower back. Reality blogging people.

The Celia is a lovely pattern to sew. Without any zips or buttons to worry about , it’s relatively quick to put together . I took my time carefully finishing the seams, and top stitching. I took a course with Jules last year, and one of the many things that struck me was her attention to detail. Top-stitching around the neckline and the sleeves really does make for a smarter finish.

Dancing Stitching Queen!


The sleeves are a joy, a stylish feature, without being long enough to be annoying. However do bear in mind the width of the sleeves when you think about your finishing. If you are lucky enough to have an over-locker (serger), its certainly worth colour matching your thread, as it may occasionally be visible when you lift your arms .

Oh Hail, Checker of the Inner Seam (actually my frizz bomb hair was sticking to my face….I’m so not built for summer)

I cut a size 20 around my bust & waist, grading to a 22 at the hip, to ensure no snugness. I made the sleeves, often a pain in the bicep for me, to size and they fit just fine, yay! The frill detail is so lovely, when I wore this top for the first time several people commented on the sleeves. In this rich linen it feels elegant to wear, while still being fun and not to fussy. A total win for a busy working day!

Oh lala fancy lady!

The Celia would also work perfectly in a lighter cotton, crepe, silk (fancy!!), or a heavier fabric such as denim or wool for cooler weather (oh cooler weather, I miss you!!) I shall be making another in linen. Because I can.

Are you sweating it out with me. Or freezing and secretly thinking I’m an ingrate & need to get a dose of hail right on my doorstep? Actually we have a cyclone heading this way so I may be getting a bit of both. Thankfully I shall feel fabulously dressed whatever the weather…!

Kristina x

*I suspect i have a touch of the Bet Lynch in me somewhere…(if you are not a NZ/UK reader see here)

Image result for bet lynch

** Don’t you love that on holiday, spending ridiculous amounts of time discussing where to have dinner/drinks/cocktails/deck chairs/wi-fi…so much time!!:)

On the Fringe & lovin’ it…


Hello & Happy 2018!

I hope if/how ever you celebrate the new year you enjoyed it immensely. My rock ‘n roll evening consisted of cooking a delicious roast beef dinner for my husband and sisters,  then falling asleep on the couch watching Lord of the Rings (in fairness I suspect it was the directors cut, it seemed to go on for HOURS!).There is an unsubstantiated report I may have been snoring at midnight. I’ve since spent some quiet time reading, hanging out with the whanau & trying to think of new ways to serve the vast ham which is taking up half my fridge.

All of which has brought my sewing mojo back, hooray! December was a busy one, with a trip to Australia for a beautiful wedding , where I got to wear the Ngaio dress I made last month.



Work was crazy busy, and as we were hosting Christmas day lunch , I did at least attempt to make my garden look slightly less tragic . Apparently hanging baskets filled with long dead flowers are not especially festive. Somehow every weekend in December was full and it was 2018 already!

I’ve resisted the urge to make wildly optimistic resolutions, it would seem I’m not terribly good at giving things up (sugar, salt, fat, wine, fun…), instead I’ve decided to add things in. My first was a hashtag I came across on Instagram, #2018makenine, a list of nine patterns I’m planning on making in 2018. I chose patterns I already have, but haven’t sewn yet ( while being quietly shocked at just how many I had to choose from…)


First on my list, the Fringe dress by Chalk & Notch , but a MAXI version. I know, get me eh! I’ve never actually worn a maxi, let alone sewn one, but my other 2018 “add in” is being a bit more adventurous with my styling. And lets be honest, with legs as pale as mine, a maxi is also practically a “snow blindness prevention” public service.

Helpfully, Gabriela has a tutorial for altering the pattern to a maxi one her blog, it was actually really easy. I added 45 cm to the skirt which was about 3 cm too long for my height of 5 ft 6 or 166 cm.

Just a peek of ankle…

This is the first Chalk & Notch pattern I’ve made and I’m really impressed. The instructions are clear and thorough, with excellent illustrations. This is a relatively complicated pattern, with waist darts & ties, buttonholes, plenty of top-stitching & my nemesis, a curved hem. But it actually felt quite straightforward because of such comprehensive instructions.

The fabric is a modal from Atelier Brunette , purchased from Miss Maude & squirreled away for the right pattern. It’s really soft & silky, which probably did make my life slightly more difficult for sewing, but so lovely to wear, especially as a maxi.

As comfy as going out in your nighty (in the best possible way!)

The buttons are pretty vintage numbers, courtesy of my very own button magpie, my sister Dette. I made view A, which actually also has buttons on the sleeves, but I decided I liked the sleeve length without them. The sleeves are not set in, so were quite quick to sew, and they fit with no bicep adjustment required, yay!

I made the ties to sit around the back (they can be either front or back)

I wore this to a lovely summer wedding, and felt really comfortable all day. Dancing was a breeze, thanks to the side splits (I only took mine up to my knee but if you’re more daring they could be J Lo style thigh length!


I’m planning my next fringe dress , just below the knee & perfect for work with sandals & a pretty cardigan.

I’ll leave you this week with one of my exhausted sewing assistants, clearly I work him to hard…

Tommy tuckered out…

Kristina x