A Trapeze in the garden


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…


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I originally made the dress in a dark green wool, which gave the garment a vaguely “monastic” look.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.


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.

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!


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.


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…

Amazingly, this was BEFORE the Chardonnay…

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

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



It’s all crepes and peaches around here…


Do you have a weekend “thing” in your house? A ritual, a treat, something that reminds you, at least for the day, you’re not workin for the man?

We have two fur babies who insist (i.e tear up the bedroom/beat the crap out of each other) on breakfast around 6.30- 7 am , so sleep-ins at Plum Towers involve an early start. Their follows a war of attrition , more intense even than the nightly fight for the duvet. Ok, who will make the coffee?? Just the coffee mind. The idea of getting myself organised enough to provide “brunch” is just a PJ wearing step too far. So how we ended up talking crepes & peaches really is beyond me.

Mr D: So when are you making the crepes? *looks hopeful*

Me: I’m sorry? *inhales coffee* (hint. I need to ease myself into the morning…)

Mr D: Crepes. You said you were making crepes . With sauce. Like fruit sauce or something.

Me: I have no idea what you are on about but please help yourself to some Weetbix. We have milk.

Mr D: But you said you were making crepes. *looks crestfallen*

Me: About six months ago. I have no recollection of any mention of crepes after this. Now please pour me another coffee &s stop talking.

After the kind of inane discussion only people who have been married 400 years can have , I figured out me mentioning crepe (fabric) & peachskin (fabric), was somehow mangled by the beauty of both dodgy AND selective hearing into me making crepes in fruit sauce for breakfast. I know.

Photo-bomber wandering off for a snooze after an early start…

So while I wasn’t whipping up a breakfast treat, I was in my sewing room, making a new top & scarf combo.

The crepe? A lovely soft number I brought from Miss Maude a while back. To be honest I’m not sure what I had in mind to make, not least as I don’t tend to wear a lot of black? I had two meters, enough for a top or blouse, but not a dress . So naturally I wanted to make a dress.



After realizing I definitely didn’t have enough for a dress (doh!), I thought a top in the style of the Kate dress would be a good start. While I may not wear many black tops, it would be a handy wardrobe addition, and an excellent toile for the most delicious chestnut crepe I somehow seem to have also purchased…

Those colours!

I haven’t sewn crepe since the great pants disaster , while it doesn’t have the slip factor of my nemesis rayon, it is still quite mobile. I also now know why my mother refuses to sew black (or dark navy) fabric any more. What a pain! Even when I put my “I don’t need glasses” $30 glasses from the pharmacy on, it was still a rather tricky sew , and an absolute no go at night.

Possibly my best self made binding ever. Just sayin’…..

However. I’m actually really pleased with the sew, the binding around the neckline & sleeves is lovely. The shoulders are a bit wide for me, given my 44 bust I need to address the discrepancy between my bust & narrow shoulders, as it feels like the sleeves are falling off and a bit wide on my arms. A narrow shoulder adjustment next time I think.

But the sleeves fit well (no bicep adjustments, epic win right there), I will probably shorten & gather a bit more for the next version, and may even go down a size ( I cut a straight size 20) as Sew Me Something patterns tend to have a lot of ease .

So I’ve made a black top. Already my inner colour/pattern loving self is saying whaaaa??

The solution? An Infinity scarf, in yellow fabric with black flamingos and maybe a pompom fringe per chance? Obviously.

Go West! …or actually East in this case…..

This is a peachskin fabric, also from Miss Maude, that caught my eye. Hello, sunny yellow, hello birds…and peachskin! Actually I had no idea what peachskin was when I brought this but doesn’t it sound lovely?

Well I can tell you it feels even better, soft , with just enough heft for a scarf like this. I realize I’ve managed to wear my scarf upside down in these pics (a theme? At least I haven’t sewn it that way, unlike these sleeves…).

The inspiration came from Simply Sewing , although I must be honest , after sewing in the pom pom trim, the tutorial in the mag lost me somewhat, so I followed this tutorial, which made a bit more sense (I’m a very visual learner).

I like my birds doing headstands ‘kay…

I feel many more infinity (and beyond?!)  scarves in my future, I cant stand wearing clothing that needs adjusting, so a scarf that will stay wrapped & “scarfed” all day is a joy, plus a pop of colour & print is always on my radar.

So what else was happening in my garden today?

Exceedingly helpful Tommy

My kind of gardening actually, its all about the reflection….and nice tools.

Get lost with the camera…!

Temperamental much?

Sunday afternoon for Tuppence…

The cushion Tuppence is snoozing against I made from my husband’s Nana Sadie ‘s commemorative tee towel from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. I love this, she kept it with her things & when she passed various precious items were given  to her whanau.

I treasure these kind of connections, and I love how being able to sew means these everyday items get a new life (which I’m sure a woman of her skills and generation would appreciate). I only met her a few times but she was still in her own home at 94, with the same gorgeous Irish accent she took with her as a young woman leaving,  with some of her family,  for the other side of the world, knowing going back wasn’t an option. Can you even imagine what that must have felt like?

Have a lovely week where ever you are

Kristina xxx