Let’s Partee with Tarlee…

Business at the front…

Hello friends! Hello little blog, I’ve missed you. It’s been Covid (both of us, boo!), several colds, a dodgy haircut , zero overseas adventures and many sewing fails long, and here we are. Nice to be back.

So to celebrate, a new top that is all business at the front…but lots of fun at the back. After seemingly endless rain and cold any party attitude is most welcome.

Some fun at the back.

The pattern I started with is the Tarlee tee by Muna and Broad  , a great versatile pattern I have made before . I really like the fit of this pattern, especially the curve over the back into the neckline, perfect for my terrible posture (I blame years of desk/computer work and an aversion to yoga)  


The fabric is a gorgeous merino from The Fabric Store , the back fabric is a lovely swishy Liberty print, the drape is perfect for the style and feels really nice to wear.

I made View A with long sleeves in size E, cutting across the back piece of the pattern approx. 3.5cm/1.5 inches below the armhole. I then cut the piece of Liberty the same length as the remaining length on the pattern, adding a seam allowance for adding to the top. The fabric is very soft and I knew it would gather well. I also knew I wanted plenty of volume at the back so the piece of fabric I cut and gathered was around 120 cm/47 inches wide. It felt way too much but once gathered up it is just right.

Just right …

Great with jeans and sneakers but I have worn this one to work with slim navy pants and my navy velvet ballet flats (only one person asked if I was wearing my slippers so that’s a win I guess…?)

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers ? My lovely neighbour turned up with a large bag of oranges from her tree. Obviously when life gives you citrus you pour a gin. But AFTER that, you make Marmalade .

Where are you Paddington??

I use Ina Garten’s recipe  , instead of lemons I used three limes from our garden, so it’s a totally homegrown fruit situation. I didn’t have quite enough white sugar so I added some demuera sugar , its made the marmalade slightly darker, but I still think it looks delicious. It certainly tastes good, even if my peel is slightly thicker than some (my mother) might prefer!

Good enough for a royal sandwich , just sayin…

Given the season in Tamaki Makaurau, July often feels like a bit of a grind and this one is no different. But it IS perfect weather for TV/Movie/Books.

I’ve recently enjoyed two quite different reads. The first is The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand. It’s the first of her books I’ve read, I LOVE the Nantucket setting, plus a good mystery is right up my alley. Mr PK & I visited Nantucket a few years back, honestly, its like a film set! FYI they make amazing Bloody Mary’s on the ferry over from Hyannis 🙂


Completely different is The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan, set in Mumbai. This is a charming mystery, with a lovely protagonist, the setting is so well described and who wouldn’t want a baby elephant as a side kick? 

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For viewing, we’ve also gone a bit eclectic…

I came to Stranger Things late, but oh my goodness, what a cracking show. The characters, the brilliant story, the CLOTHES, the MUSIC! the latest series is set in 1986, and some of the characters are exactly the same age I was in 1986, I’m certainly feeling the vibe. Also, Kate Bush people (I have a very soft spot for Wuthering Heights, won’t lie) 

I was so excited to find A Stitch in Time on Amazon Prime, I’ve been wanting to watch this for ages. Amber Butchart is often quoted on The Great British Sewing Bee so I was keen to see her own show. It’s a brilliant look at historic costuming and art history, plus Ambers fab outfits each week are worth a watch by themselves.

I think of mentioned this before but a new season of the Haptic & Hue podcast dropped in April, I so enjoy this one, Jo Andrews’ research is fantastic, and I always finish listening wanting to find out more.

Now before I go I must introduce you to the latest member of our whanau, friends meet Miss Lemon.  She is a delicate old lady whose owners cannot take care of her anymore. So she will live out her days in some comfort  with Tommy, Tuppence, and as many cuddles as she can handle. As you can see, its highly exciting…


Right, off to make Butter Chicken for dinner, Sunday night curry night,  get in!

Have a fabulous week 

Kristina x

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

You silky minx Waikerie…

Well, back into Level 3 lockdown here is Auckland. Three cases in the community, a family including a border worker who thankfully, as soon as she felt unwell,  got tested. Fingers crossed with some pretty epic test & tracing going on it will be nipped in the bud. I spent today working at home in my “lounge wear” under the supervision of Tommy & Tuppence. Many treats & cuddles were administered, cats love lockdown! 

Sadly however, I did not get the chance to wear my swanky new SILK shirt to work. Boo! Yes, you heard me, I tackled silk. There were no tears, barely any swearing (honest), I only used my unpicker twice. I know, these are indeed crazy times.

The Waikerie shirt from Muna & Broad. I made View B with short sleeves, I would probably never wear a long sleeve shirt without rolling the sleeves up, I thought the soft fabric would not stay rolled for long.

Oh hey there…

Because I have previously made this Waikerie dress (an extension of the original pattern), I already had some pattern pieces cut out, and I knew the yoke and collar was the right size for me. The fabric I picked up on sale from The Fabric Store a wee while ago, I LOVE the sequin print , but was always a little hesitant to use it, a) not being experienced sewing silk (not sure how I thought that would change NOT sewing with it?) and b) I was never sure the colour worked for me. Now I’m a foxy silver its practically camouflage yes?

Isn’t it fun

The only thing I did to compensate for sewing silk was use a finer gauge needle, and as far as I could, use French seams. The sleeve band method is the same as the Torrens top, I really like it but wish I’d finished the seams on this one with binding rather than overlocking , I can feel it slightly rubbing on my skin (Five minutes sewing silk & suddenly a delicate wee thing I am…)

Love a good box pleat

I really like the slightly sporty style of the shirt, with a slightly boxy fit, dropped back hem & shorter sleeves, combined with a really luxe fabric. I love it with my jeans & sneakers for the weekend, but it works equally well with pants & heels for the day job (well, when I’m in the office and not sitting at the dining table in my slippers covered in cat fur hey…)

Is there a ship ahoy or what?

As with other Muna & Broad patterns, the instructions are nice & clear and the drafting is great, I’m already planning a cute linen version. Or silk satin, now I’m a bit of an expert…? Yeah, nah.

Contemplating life…or trying not to put dents in the wooden floor?

So what else has been happening around these parts?

Watched a fab movie on Netflix The Dig recently, not only a lovely film (based on a true story) but some really fabulous costumes too! I received the The Foldline newsletter last week, which did a wee rundown of patterns if you wanted to recreate the look. I personally adore the whole 40’s Industrial Land Girl aesthetic so this was right up my alley. I also wear silver shoes & animal print so I’m clearly also slightly confused on this point…

Actually if this is your vibe too, check out Old Town clothing and of course one of my favorite pattern designers Merchant & Mills

On a completely different tangent, Series 2 of Blown Away has just dropped on Netflix & I’m very excited. Mr D & I loved series one, a show about glassblowing doesn’t sound like everyone’s bag but trust me, it’s fab. So much artistry, so many different personalities, by the final we were really invested!

On the bedside table, The Marlow Murder Club, really enjoying this one, in the vein of The Thursday Murder Club, it’s a fun whodunnit in the classic Golden Age style, with a spunky older sleuth, lots of fun

I hope where ever you are it’s been a good start to the week, I’m currently having a G & T because from memory that’s what ones does in lockdown on a Monday night, or is that just me?

Kristina x

Tarlee babeee…


Stardate Year 2021 day 4572….no wait, what? We made it to February? Yeow, whoop whoop , kiss me a kitten! Holidays done & dusted here, back at work, although thanks to Auckland Anniversary day and Waitangi day we have two long weekends on the trot, perfect. As you can see I need to spend at least one of those days in the jungle of my garden… 

So what has been occurring at Plum Towers? Well for starters please do admire my fancy new tee. This is the new Muna & Broad Tarlee tee.


Now, you might ask myself does the world need another tee pattern? Such a simple garment yes? Um no. From the perfect neckline (my sister & I have bored for England on this very topic, as only siblings can, she is V neck or die, I’m more flexible) to the perfect sleeve. I love an elbow length, which can be surprising hard to find in RTW. Fit is another can of worms altogether. I want a snug fit around my shoulders & bust, so it doesn’t look sloppy. I want a less snug fit around my waist & hips…



I love this pattern. I know not what drafting wizardry was involved, but I have a great fit through my shoulders & bust, with just the right “loose but not sloppy” fit through my lower torso. The curved hem is a cute finish, elevating this from a basic tee. I made the Size C, grading out to Size D at the waist & hips.

The pattern comes with notches for applying the neckline finish. This seems a much more sensible application than the quartering method, works much better for me anyway. Sadly my twin needle & I had a parting of ways, so the neckline isn’t finished perfectly…I need to get another needle, but I think I can zigzag this one to finish . My photographer was getting rather impatient so perfectly imperfect it is.

There is an option of a turtleneck , in various sizes, which when it cools down here, I shall definitely be making. Actually when I was growing up a turtleneck was called a skivvy, “it’s cold , put your skivvy on under your jumper”! Unlike the pattern, a turtleneck then came in one size only , tight! Many a neck was slightly strangled in the name of warmth (given the terrible heating most homes had it was probably a good thing!) 


I was gifted some beautiful merino from A & R Fabrics , the colour is Whiskey , appropriate for a Douglas. The softness (& lack of scratch) combined with a good “drape but not cling” are great for this tee. I thought the Whiskey would match perfectly with the mustard dots on my Willandra pants. If I’m standing around in the garden grinning inanely at the fence I want to be colour coordinated ok. Actually this is a perfect weekend outfit, comfy but smart enough for a casual lunch or BBQ (elastic waist for the win too) 

So other than tee shirt fun, what’s been going on?



My tomato plants have gone into high gear, as have the passionfruit. The limes are not far off either . I have “fond” memories of mid summer when I was a kid. I grew up in the burbs , Dad was a nurse & Mum looked after five of us & did a bit of cleaning work. As you can imagine money was tight, but we had the classic Kiwi Quarter acre section, and both my parents grew up knowing how to stretch a buck. Despite Mums best efforts to cover the whole section in flowers, Dad did carve out a vege garden, and we had prolific fruit trees. Which meant acres of Beef Steak tomatoes & Golden Queen peaches in summer. If there is a more thankless task than canning peaches or making tomato sauce in Auckland in January even now, I know not what it is, but back then?? Humidity in the high 90’s, no air con & ingrate children who wanted Watties like everyone else, I’m surprised Mum didn’t lose it completely. I do remember some frayed nerves…


I took the easy route & roasted my tomatoes with basil, oregano & thyme from the garden, a good splash of Olive oil, a few cloves of garlic & plenty of salt & pepper. 180C for about an hour


Push the whole lot through a mouli (or a sieve) & you have the most delicious roasted tomato passata, I popped mine in the freezer in small pottles, perfect for pizza sauce, pasta, and tomorrow nights patatas bravas, using potato’s I didn’t realize had actually survived the Auckland hose pipe ban! 


I hope January has been kind, or at least not too crappy My nephew and his lovely girlfriend in the UK contracted Covid over Xmas but have thankfully recovered. We are enjoying enormous freedom here in NZ, but I’m very aware we don’t have real freedom until everyone can be vaccinated & we can rid ourselves of this horrible disease.
So I’ll leave you with this. It was a joy to see President Biden and Vice President Harris enter the White House, but oh golly we were excited to see Major Biden , the first rescue dog to live at the White House! Here is his Indoguration, it’s all lovely, but especially at 15 mins in, Josh Grobin singing a lovely wee song. The best breed? Rescue every day (Tommy & Tuppence insist!)

We made it to February, have a fab week friends

Kristina xxx 

A new skirt for the new year…


Ok, I was going to start with a hearty Happy New Year, but honestly, how about We Made It, Go Us instead? Crawling into 2021, doom scrolling Twitter, and wondering, between the shocking events unfolding in the US and the terrible Covid situation what the heck is next. If this were a Gerard Butler film I’d be yelling at the TV “no, its too much, so unbelievable”!

Retreating to my sewing room, I spent an inordinate amount of time rearranging fabric (almost like a completely separate hobby from actual sewing, and so relaxing ), finding a lovely piece of Spotlight rayon left over from a previous project. I had just on one meter, enough for another Muna & Broad Nullarbor camisole, I think my fourth now?


I love the colour combination on this fabric, and realized it would work really well with this linen I also found in my stash. I clearly had something in mind when I brought over FOUR meters of it…but have no idea what. I know, ridiculous…and gosh I hope it was on sale. Anyway it turns out it is perfect for the Peppermint Pocket Skirt , a collaboration between Peppermint Magazine & Paper Theory pattern

POCKET SKIRT - peppermint magazine

While I love the shape of the skirt, I wont lie, I was a tiny bit concerned about pockets you could fit a small child in. But given the way the year is shaping up we could get hit by a zombie invasion next week, so it seemed like a good time to try something new! This is a really quick & easy sew, the pocket construction is clever, I was quite intrigued to see how it looked on.



I tried it on for Mr PK, his face was a picture. “those are some big pockets…they sort of sit on a wide bit” *makes hand motions indicating the not ungenerous width of his loving wife’s hips* Then in a moment of clarity regarding just how terrible his 2021 was about to get, he followed up with the immortal “if you like it, that’s what counts”. Indeed.

I think in a softer fabric the pocket would have a softer drape but in the heavyweight linen the effect is a bit exaggerated for me. Because of the way the skirt is constructed taking the pocket off wasn’t really an option, but a wee pleat? Now were talking.


I ended up doing an inverted pleat, then embellished with a simple embroidery cross in green thread as a wee detail. I think the effect is charming, and I’m aerodynamically safe to go out in strong winds. The skirt as per the pattern is very long, I took a good 7″/15 cm off , I would probably leave the hem a little longer next time.


I had actually intended the skirt to be a new years day lunch outfit with this top, a new pattern from The Fabric Store

Sparkle sparkle…

I love that neckline! It’s a quick make, I made the 3/4 sleeve but took about 2″/5 cm off to make it more elbow length. I like the fit, not to tight, but not baggy. The cotton is from Spotlight, it it probably slightly thick for this time of year but I couldn’t resist that print.

Apparently I can only look one way in a photo…

The elastic waistband is comfortable, I would not wear it sitting as high as the pattern pics, I’ve tried but it feels very odd to me!

Hysterical 2021 style laugh…

So how about a few other fun distractions to stop, or at least reduce, daytime drinking?

On Netflix, the brilliant Bridgerton, this is so much fun! Romance, gorgeous costumes, wit, charm, did I mention gorgeous costumes? You can read all about them here

I went to the cinema last week with a pal & saw The Dry, so good! I really enjoyed the book, the movie adaptation is very true to the novel. Eric Bana is brilliant in the lead and lets be honest, brilliantly attractive also!

Speaking of daytime drinking, water definitely tastes better off a hydrangea leaf…

Why use the three water bowls you already have…

I hope where ever you are you’re safe and able to squeeze some joy out of the coming year, we deserve it!

Kristina x

Knits for the win…

Hello from Spring in Auckland. Despite this year feeling literally 5,000 days long, I’m thrilled to say we have enjoyed saying goodbye to Lockdown Mark 2, The Auckland Episode (less sourdough, more sour grapes ), and it’s rained! Not sure if the dams are full but my wee garden is looking lush.

Tommy looking very underwhelmed…

A visit to my lovely GP post lockdown has turned up a few surprises. Firstly, my liver is still intact (whoop, amazing!) Secondly , I could do with losing a few pounds. OK that one was probably a surprise to none but still. How boring. But given Diabetes runs rife in my Whanau, needs must . Getting old might be sometime be a drag, but not getting old is infinitely worse yes?

So I’m following Doctors orders and am dropping the pounds . I do intermittent fasting & that’s about as much as I need to say about that (I’m pretty sure hearing about my diet is about as dreary as hearing about my tax return , I’m an accountant, I should know…)

Any ho, it does mean sewing has been a little uninspiring. Do I want to spend ages making something I know won’t fit me in a few weeks/months? Enter knits , in all their lovely stretchy forgiving fabulousness.

First up is the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee, which I love (and it’s FREE!) I fiddled a bit with the neckline on this one, its wider than I intended, but a great casual top with my Muna & Broad Willandra pants. I was off to lunch at my sisters so elastic waist pants & a great stretchy top for the win. The fabric is a linen cotton mix from Miss Maude, so delicious to sew and wear.


Next, a Cashmerette Saybrook Tank , (complete with apparently confused middle aged woman’s attempt to use the timer on her phone…) while it isn’t something I’d wear without some arm coverage , I love a tank under a cardigan. I have made several Springfield tops, perfect for matching fun patterns with knits, and great for my office , which veers between “a bit chilly” and “OMG turn the heater on” .  A knit version was too hard to resist! 


If you are not loving the idea of sewing knits, I can recommend the Saybrook sewalong , putting tissue , or in my case, tracing paper, under my fabric when stitching was an absolute gamechanger, behold that flat neckline binding! Continue reading “Knits for the win…”

Getting Shirty with Waikerie (and maybe a tiny bit sweary)


Hello from the jungle that is my vege garden. As you can see the caterpillars are making a feast of my cauliflower plants, the caulis themselves have been a bit of a disaster so I’m leaving them to it. The cabbages however are going great guns, if you like coleslaw & wind, my house is the place to be!

It’s been a quiet few weeks here at Plum Towers, perfect for tackling what must be one of my most challenging projects yet, the Waikerie Dress  , from Muna & Broad. This is an extension to their Waikerie Shirt pattern, and I should note, not an especially complicated pattern, particularly given the excellent instructions & the You Tube sewalong .

So why so challenging? Well friends, I had a vision. Not a “Joan of Arc” type vision (although given the state of 2020 so far, quite frankly ANYTHING is possible), but a very particular idea of a dress I wanted, inspired in part by a dress a colleague has been wearing. It’s a brown animal print chiffon number, not to fitted but not super loose, midi length with long sleeves. I found the following pics as inspiration on Pinterest, I think they are Zara.


I knew the right fabric would be critical to stop me veering into “she’s wearing her nightie” territory, so I was VERY pleased to come across the perfect animal print chiffon on the bargain table at Spotlight. I’m a sucker for animal print, but I don’t normally love polyester (Sweaty Betty raise your hand…) I figured the print was spot on and the price even better ($8 a metre, whoop), so even if it ended up being a total disaster I wouldn’t feel too aggrieved.

Sooo lovely to wear 🙂

So was it a total disaster ? Absolutely not, I’m thrilled with this dress, and how close it is to what I originally had in mind. Did I love the process? Mostly. Did I make a couple of absolute clangers that had me reaching for a bucket of Chardonnay? Dear reader, would you expect anything less?


In my defence, chiffon is tricky! Poly chiffon has a bounce that makes it harder to deal with than say silk, but with all the slippery minx qualities of both silk & satin. The edges fray into annoying little bits , plus it’s rather sensitive to heat , but more on that later (sensitive readers be warned, it’s really quite terrible…)

BUT, it has a fab drape, a super fun design, and is inexpensive. Given I was making View A with long sleeves, and needed a generous 4 metres of fabric, cheap was good, if it all ended up a terrible mess I hadn’t emptied my sewing account for naught (don’t laugh, I really do have a separate savings account called the Fabric Fund:)


The first drama was cutting out. Lets just say cats, a slightly blunt pair of scissors & metres of slippery fabric are NOT the ideal combination. I did use a new technique to me, and interfaced my piece of fabric BEFORE cutting out my facings & collar, the interfacing made the fabric so much easier to deal with, and saved time. I can highly recommend  The Fabric Store iron on interfacing, various weights, sold by the metre and it doesn’t come away from the fabric .

I’ve used Muna & Broad patterns before , including a wonderful cami & pants combo and their fab Torrens top, so I knew roughly where I should be size wise. I made the Size C, which I knew to be a few inches smaller than my hip measurement, but the final garment measurements indicated plenty of ease through the hips so I went for it. I also drove to work on Friday with the petrol light on, and didn’t fill up until I was half way home Friday night. I live life on the edge hey!

The bodice & collar came together much more easily than I anticipated, I did take my time, using French seams where I could. A reader on Instagram suggested using starch & water to stiffen the fabric when sewing & I will definitely try that next time. But if there is one thing I’d recommend to a newbie when sewing this kind of fabric it’s use a busy print, way more forgiving then a sheer plain that shows every flaw!


I originally intended to have long cuffed sleeves, but when the dress was made up it just felt a bit “much”. So I took inspiration from my colleagues dress & used an elastic hem, but on shortened sleeves. The elastic draws the volume of fabric gently in, I think its a better silhouette given the volume in the dress itself.

Things started to get hairy when I attached the dress to the bodice, that is a LOT of gathered chiffon. The bottom of the bodice was also fraying terribly, next time I would add a narrow line of interfacing as soon as I cut the pieces out, by the time I added it there was already a lot of hairy fabric . Sewing the dress to the bodice went reasonably well until I then went to overlock the seam (French seams had gone out the window by then!) I discovered a small area where I had caught the seam with the overlocker. Out came the unpicker, surely my most used sewing tool. Sigh.

My superpower.

All was going well. Then it wasn’t. A small rip had appeared right where the bodice meet the dress. Not ideal, but not a total disaster. I thought I would add a small piece of interfacing, then hand sew the tear together. So what do you think happens when you add a too hot iron (I swear it was on the wool setting but apparently not…) to a polyester fabric, when you are so busy focusing on a small area, oblivious to what else your lovely iron is currently singeing? This.

No (repeatable) words.

I was surprisingly calm. A couple of fairly heavy duty swear words, and then somewhere a few synapses fired and I remembered we were dealing with a bodice here. I had omitted the side seam pockets from the original pattern, thinking chiffon was just too light , but maybe Cinderella would go to the Pocket Ball after all…

Camouflage pocket…literally!

It was a pain in the butt to sew, but I’m so glad I did! I reinforced both sides of the hole with interfacing so it wouldn’t get any bigger, then covered with a square pocket. Discovering the rolled hem function on my overlocker was another win, not only did I edge the pockets before sewing onto my bodice, but it was a lovely finish on my hem , approximately three miles of it.

Hiding under the seat…

I’m so pleased with this project, I used a fabric that I knew would challenge me, produced something that, while no means perfect, I’m actually really happy with and learnt some new techniques for next time, that is a win surely? Just don’t let me stand anywhere near an open flame…

Just incase you think I’m a totally rubbish gardener, may I present my cabbage. Don’t hear that every day do you?

I think this was taco night (so many cabbage nights…)

Next project? I found this glorious linen at The Fabric Store, its a vintage wash so quite soft, and how about that colour (called Marmalade)  They have recently released a robe pattern, so in an effort to up my tragic nightwear game (scrubby tees & pants for the win? No…) I have downloaded the Lucie Robe  , perfect shape & generous sizing. I was heading to the counter (honest!) when I spied 20% off on Liberty , so thought maybe a lovely tana lawn for a nightie/PJ situation? I’ve never sewn tana lawn , but gosh it feels beautiful, most important for night wear (there’s a reason so many of us wear those worn tees, they are so soft) This fabric jumped out at me, doesn’t that just say Spring?

Gorgeous !

Lounge wear fabulous here I come…

Have a lovely week friends, stay safe xxx




So many outfits, Nullarbor & Willandra…



What a surreal three months it has been since my last post.

I’ll be honest, when I see the terrible suffering this horrible disease is causing all around the world I do feel a mixture of amazement at our Team of 5 million dodging a real disaster, (although cold comfort sadly for the 22 people who lost their lives, their friends and whanau)  and guilt,  that aside from being able to see my sister in Oz or visit my friends in the UK, my life is pretty much back to “normal”, when so many are living anything but.

It was interesting hearing people talking about how much they thought they would do over lockdown, versus what they actually did. When I realised I would be working from home & literally going nowhere for weeks I thought I would get ALL the sewing done, read ALL the books, cook ALL the meals. Well I did end up cooking all the meals (Mr D can make toast & fairly average coffee, it ends there…) and thanks to a healthy supply of yeast & flour, baking all the goodies. But sewing , even reading proved more difficult. I don’t think I realised at the time how anxious I actually was.


So besides eating my body weight in carbs , discovering what a Zoom meeting is (if I never hear “no, turn the mute off, I still can’t hear you…!” again, it will be a good thing) & emptying our stocks of gin completely have I done anything actually productive in the last few months?

So a cute cami top, fab trousers,  two “jumpsuits” and a “dress” sound impressive? I know, get me! Ok, not QUITE accurate, but I’m congratulating past Kristina on having the sense to buy up Spotlight fabric she really liked when it was on sale.

I made my first Nullarbor Cami using rayon I had leftover after making these Tania culottes. Version A of the cami can be squeezed out of a metre of fabic, perfect stash busting, and also an oppourtunity for a faux jumpsuit, all the cute but with bathroom benefits. Plus, even for a slow sewer, more distracted than usual , this was a speedy make.



Because of the width of the culottes, it actually looks like a pretty dress. However on a windy Auckland day the benefits of culottes over a skirt become apparent.



The cami is also really cute with jeans and a cardigan, casual but a bit more dressed up than a tee shirt.


Clearly I’m a fan of Muna & Broad patterns, these Torrens tops are favs, and I still have to blog my fab Sculthorpe pants. The instructions are good, the shapes are lovely, and I admire Leila & Jess for their authenticity & lets be honest, fabulous wardrobes. I’ve already cut out another Nullarbor, so perfect for work with coordinating cardigans (you know I love me a good cardi) , but it has been pushed out by yet another awesome pant pattern, the Willandra. I’m going to bore for England about this one, its FAB.


Flat front, elastic gathered waist back for veeeery comfortable pants, with voluminous pockets and a cool side seam which wraps around the leg. It’s rather hard to see in my spotty fabric (wont lie, ironing it gives me optical illusions) but it’s the nice details I like with these patterns.


Resting B*tch Face, I’m actually loving this outfit.


Best of all, ZERO adjustments. Yep, straight out of the packet, size ii, not a thing changed. It’s a unicorn I tell you.


I topstitched the elastic, I cannot stand twisted elastic, plus it looks nice. Even with rogue cat hairs…

Spotty butt, it’s a good thing…

I love the fit over my hips & butt, not clinging, not tight, just a nice skim of fabric. Did I mention the elastic around the waist? I think the flat front is a really nice detail, makes the pants slightly more formal , but not too much.

Please don’t let the hair distract you from the marvelous spotty top & pants!

Mum came over last night for a slumber party as Mr D is away, when I showed her my new makes she was all over these pants. No Mum, you’ll have to make your own. She did get out & prune my roses so I shouldn’t be so mean. Watching a proper gardener prune roses is quite something, she considered every cut carefully, I would have gone in with my lopers & hoped for the best, which is why her garden is glorious & mine is…mine.


Although my vege garden at least is going great guns. I ordered seedings from Awapuni Nurseries over lockdown & they have thrived.

April 2020


July 2020 (Tommy not convinced about Winter gardening)

Its Brassica Central , or as my husband so kindly called it, the Garden of Many Farts.

Tommy helping out squashing some lilies…

I’m not sure what it says about my priorities, but the most exciting thing about coming out of Level 3 was being able to reschedule my Loven appointment, I know everyone was going crazy at being able to get to the hairdressers, but a clean oven, that is a thing of joy. Best not look at my hair.

I may look like Miss Havisham but check out that oven!

Another lockdown treat was this gem, from Scottish sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter, and his gorgeous Labs Olive & Mable, this is Episode 1, but watch them all. Episode 2, Game of Bones is my favorite, utterly hilarious!

I hope wherever you are , you & yours are safe & well, we’ve made it halfway through 2020, that deserves a medal, gold star, champagne & probably a blessing from the Pope, onwards!

Kristina xxx










Torrens Times Two



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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Photobomb central…

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


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

Winning at life & sleeves…

I’m not sure Tuppence fully approves however…

Little Miss Judgey 

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week

Kristina x


Fun with Glebe & Torrens…


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

Image result for miss fisher

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

Image result for miss fisher car

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

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


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

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



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



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



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

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

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

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

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


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

Safety shoes!

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


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

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

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

I love this fabric combo

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


Kristina x

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