Easter off the Cuff

Wondering how much chocolate we have left…

And just like that its autumn. The clocks went back over the weekend and I now have the correct time on my oven for the first time in six months, yay! Sadly we’ve just brought a new car, never mind the clock, I’ve only just located the handbrake , a button for goodness sake? We had our previous car 16 years, so technology has moved on quite a bit (goodbye CD player…) My husband picked it up from the dealership with the aircon on full, couldn’t work out how to turn it off & was slightly hypothermic by the time he got home so apparently we’re a family of Luddites. I am however hanging out for cold weather so I can turn on the heated seats (yes it’s a thing, I have located that button!)

It’s been a lovely relaxing Easter weekend here, we were in Level 4 lockdown for Easter last year, its been great to celebrate freely once again. I hope where ever you are if you celebrate the holiday you’ve managed to do so with some normality. We had our traditional whanau Good Friday lunch , my husband won the poker , not sure Mum was totally impressed…

Can’t choose your Son in Law’s Mum, sorry…

I had intended to make myself a new top for the day, but of course I wasn’t organized. My sew-jo has been a bit hit & miss lately, ridiculous as it sounds I have so many patterns & so much fabric I end up paralyzed with choice. Yes that is ENTIRELY a first world problem, I am making a conscious effort to use what I have.

Enter the Assembly Line Cuff Top. In beautiful Merchant & Mills linen from Miss Maude which I had in my stash.

CUFF TOP PATTERN - The Assembly Line shop

I’ve admired so many of these popping up on social media, then my bestie made a version and obviously I had to have that pattern too. Happily The Assembly Line have extended their size range so you can now get this wee gem up to a 4XL. The curvier range has a dart added, which I actually really like, added fabric through the bust without being swamped in fabric around the waist & hips.

Admiring my first Feijoa tree, I feel so grown up! (it’s a NZ thing…)

Having said that I think next time I’ll add a couple of cm length, and grade out the same at the hips. The neckline is the boat neck variation, I’m all over boat necks at the moment, for some reason they feel dressier to me than a crew neck. Using the boat neck also meant I didn’t need to make the button loop or attach a button, the neckline is sufficiently roomy to just slide overhead. I whipped this top up in a day, which for a slow sewer like me is pretty good. Just bear in mind the instructions for the facing will change, and you need to fully sew up the back seam.

Animal print & gold as a look? Why yes please

I first met my husband back in the 90’s, he still refers to my “dressing as a tree” phase. I had a much loved (meaning flippin expensive so I wore it everywhere) Working Style linen shirt in the most fabulous deep forest green. I was also deeply wedded to my brown straight leg cords (corduroy is so much more comfortable than denim, seriously) , so the two combined were a fav outfit. I’m happy to recreate the glory here . The pants are the Muna & Broad Sculthorpe, in heavy linen from The Fabric Store , that top stitching brings me joy.

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

Woman on a mission

Mum stayed for a couple of days over Easter so we hit the garden center on Saturday. There isn’t a plant, garden or nursery my Mother doesn’t appreciate, so after I picked various winter vege & herbs for my raised beds & plants for my hanging baskets she lasted all of 24 hours before suggesting she could plant them out . I bow down to both superior knowledge & enthusiasm! I wont pretend to be any kind of botanist, but there is something really soothing about being in a garden. And I wont lie, watching someone else make that garden is pretty satisfyingly lazy. I know, I’m terrible.

Eggcellent! Sorry…

My youngest sister has fully embraced the Jellyologist, we had the most marvelous Xmas trees in December, but she brought it next level for Easter. That’s layers of different flavors of jelly in real egg shells, the eggs themselves made their way into chocolate pavlova with crème patisserie filling. Spoilt yes?

Ok one thing I am excited about with a new car is the ease of listening to podcasts. Years after everyone else discovered them of course, but the glory of not wrestling with cords is really quite thrilling. My current fav is Shedunnit by Caroline Crampton. As an avowed aficionado of Golden Age detective fiction this is such a great listen. If you don’t like Agatha Christie, Ngaio March & the rest of the band…give yourself a talking too & have a listen. You might learn something.

Words to live by…

Lastly, super cute pencils from Miss Maude , I have been a stationery fiend from way back, the beginning of the school year was such a thrill, a new pencil case is still a thing of joy. What plans I shall make with these beauties…

Have a lovely week team, hopefully next time we meet I’ve sorted the clock in the car…wish me luck

Kristina x

A dress shirt on holiday in Nantucket…

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Me wishing I was on hols right now…

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

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

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

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I know, those stripes…I tried ok!

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

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

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Me riding around Nantucket!

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

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Tommy on his fav spot on the pizza oven…

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

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

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

Kristina x

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

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

 

 

 

Is it Claude or Nenuphar?

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

Nénuphar Jacket

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

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Pockets!

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

MEASUREMENTS

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

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

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

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

 

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I love this back gather detail!

Did I mention pockets?

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

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

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Cute labels from Kylie and the Machine 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Kristina (with a K) x

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

 

A dress shirt to cheer…

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

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

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Bloody cat digging the garden…

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

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I LOVE top stiching

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

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

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

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

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

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Not perfect, but we got there…

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

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

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

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Lunch in the garden, so much chat!

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

Have a lovely week

Kristina xxx

 

A Trapeze in the garden

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Such beautiful lush colours & texture 

 

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

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

 

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Bloody noisy planes…

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

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

 

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My cat being a twit off camera!

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

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

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Amazingly, this was BEFORE the Chardonnay…

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

Kristina x

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

 

 

 

A Shirt Dress (or, Ode to my Unpicker)

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I love linen. Like, really love linen. My fantasy house has billowing linen curtains, linen sheets (changed daily by my fantasy help), me wearing linen Pajamas (ironed by my fantasy help naturally…). My fantasy life has me getting off a plane in only very slightly crumpled linen, looking cool & effortless. Anyone who has seen me roll off long haul knows just how fantastical that one is (hint, wear dark colours  take a sense of humor & at least two changes of top…)

So when I came across Merchant & Mills pattern The Shirt Dress I was tempted. Maybe I could nail me some crumpled effortless vibe after all, and it would fit! I was concerned initially as the size range only goes up to (a small!) 18, which is 41, 35, 44. But previous experience making Merchant & Mills patterns, I know they have a lot of ease built in.

 

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I really like this style. We have sleeves (as you may know, I’m still in discussion with my biceps about the state of themselves), a decent length, and an easy, but not tent like fit. Perfect for work, or the weekend. The bib front is an interesting style point which feels a bit old fashioned to me. In my universe that’s a good thing hey. The top stitching finishes everything off nicely

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Freezing, take the darn photo!

Its cold here in Auckland. By that I man to a soft Aucklander like moi, its COLD. 4 C here overnight. Naturally to any readers in places that get ACTUALLY cold (Canada in winter anyone? Anyone living in the Deep South here in NZ , currently a balmy -2…) you’ve possibly misplaced an eyeball rolling in the back of your head, but please bear with. Like many Kiwis I grew up in a woefully heated house (one fire for a five bed one level bungalow), where complaining of being cold got you a quick “put another jersey on” and one of Mums evening routines in winter was filling five hot water bottles ! I crave warmth, so linen isn’t an immediate choice for winter dressing.

 

But introduce merino cardigan and long boots and we may be talking? I’m a little obsessed with this Uniglo mustard cardigan. This colour is everything, if I have it in my wardrobe, chances are mustard will go with it. Polarizing yes (one friend commented “its the colour of poo basically” , but I love it! Mustard & Navy? Oh yes please…

The linen is from The Fabric Store, it’s crisp, the colour is rich, everything linen should be. Isn’t navy blue & brown just the best combination?

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The pattern is great quality, printed on heavy paper, with a clear instruction sheet. The only quibble I would have with M&M patterns is their styling. On the one hand I love the ” industrial 40’s workman” vibe, but I do wish they details on the clothing were easier to actually see. And why do the models always look so miserable?

Now, the details. A nifty pattern than came together effortless, with nary a swear word or wine consumed?

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It came together perfectly….yeah right!

Hell no! I fell like this dress was sponsored by my unpicker (seam ripper to NH friends), it was certainly the most used tool in the whole operation. Everything was going seamlessly (like what I did there?), until it came to the yoke. Not only did the wheels fall off at that point, they caught a flight & moved continents. I sewed & unpicked that thing FIVE times. In fact I unpicked the yoke so many times it disintegrated, thankfully I had enough surplus fabric to cut two new ones. Honestly.

The worst thing is I’m still not 100% sure what I did wrong or how I fixed it. Which is a fat lot of good if you’ve come here for useful sewing info like how to sew the yoke on the Shirt Dress pattern. For that I apologize. It isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with a yoke, and as you can see it’s far from perfect, but we got there in the end…

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Booty call…or “look at the state of that fence” call?

I can tell you I added 2.5 cm to to the sleeve, to accommodate my generous biceps. Other that that, I made no alterations to the pattern (as I said, the sizing is generous!). After unpicking the yoke numerous times, I then thought I’d add to the fun by sewing my sleeves on without changing the stitch selection from a long gathering stitch. Well my did those sleeves have some lovely gathers (puckers!) in them. After Mr D had grudgingly dragged himself away from the football for 3 minutes (I curse you FIFA!) to take some pics in the gloom (in Scotland it would be gloaming, that time between day & night, isn’t that the best word?)I realized how bad those sleeves were. A calming Chardonnay later, I took both sleeves out & re sewed them, but my photographer refused to play ball…

Despite my unpicker shenanigans, I love this pattern. So easy to wear, I have several colours of this pegged with boots & a cardi for winter. In summer I’m looking fwd to the longer sleeve version turned up, with sandals & a pretty necklace for casual but cute dining…or walking off planes looking fancy. As you do.

In between blog posts, whats been occurring at Plum Towers? Sorting fabric with my trusty “helper” Tuppence.

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Making cakes. This is for my Mother in Law Florence, really pretty, I’m happy to say she loved it. Which given she’s my MIL is a good thing yes?

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Chocolate drip cake for a friend to take to a 50th birthday…notice not actual “50” on the cake. Yes.

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It’s been lovely to get back into the sewing room, here’s to a lot more fun stitching. Maybe with a tad less unpicking….