Lockdown with Eleanor

Nice & easy like Sunday morning

Well hello there, it’s been a while.* After 50 some days of Lockdown here in Tamaki Makarau I’m not quite sure how long, so let’s stick with a while. September came and went in a carb fueled haze, October does appear to be shaping up to be the same but with less rain, so that’s something at least!

I’ve not been completely idle on the sewing front , if anything I’m glad to have an absorbing hobby that sees me through some rather anxious times. Even if some days it’s just folding beautiful pieces of fabric in my stash & thinking about what I might make. Stash Management is basically a hobby on its own really.

 

No idea what I’m doing either..

The Eleanor shirt completely passed me by on release (to be fair I was probably busy doomscrolling Twitter & wondering how to spend the Airmiles I wasn’t getting on a plane with anytime this decade). I have made several Sew Me Something patterns, including this wonderful dress , and when I first saw Jules’ fab gingham version I immediately loved the vintage feel of the shawl collar. It actually reminds me of a shirt my eldest sister had back in the day I may or may not have borrowed & never gave back…

Was this a tricky sew? Not really. Did I still manage to make some dumb mistakes? Of course dear reader, would you expect anything less? For starters, that back please detail…

Inverted, extroverted, who is to know…

Ok, that’s supposed to be an INVERTED back pleat. How I turned it into a Box pleat is one of life’s mysteries. I even remember thinking “oh yes, that looks great” when I was fiddling with the selvedge to go across the back yoke. 

What I was aiming for…

After a really fun post from Wanda Brown, talking about using the fabric selvedge in interesting ways I thought I would do the same. I love it & at least it’s a distraction from my pleat error yes?

From experience the ease on Sew Me Something patterns is generous, but I sized down from a 22 to an 18, I think a 20 might have been a smarter option, I feel like the bodice is lifting at the front .

The pattern also calls for five buttons & I realised after sewing my buttonholes the top one was far too high . I think I needed to overlap the button band further but because I’d sized down the ease was more restricted across my bust than it should have been, and I ended up with a buttonhole on the road to nowhere.  We live and learn.

 

We’re on the road to nowhere…

The fabric is a chambray linen from Spotlight  I brought on sale, it has a lovely drape & was really nice to sew. The shell buttons from Miss Maude are a real pleasure. Both lovely to look at, and after six weeks in lockdown, it’s always nice to see our courier driver delivering treats & a cheery wave. Those guys & gals are doing the mahi right now! 

The size range on this pattern is great , size 8-30, I’d highly recommend for a comfortable shirt with some cute vintage style. I’d like one in a pretty rayon, and I was very chuffed when my BFF 13 year old daughter decided she wanted one to!

So what else is keeping us occupied here at Plum Towers?

If you haven’t already, check out Vigil, oh my goodness, every episode I go to bed with a real sense of unease (in a good way!) And yes, we are watching old school, one episode a week on Sunday night. I can catch up with my Mum & my bestie on Monday to discuss, remember when TV was like that? I love the convenience of On Demand & Streaming but I do love that “water cooler” TV discussion that we seem to have lost now .

Just finished reading The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman, I thought I loved the Thursday Murder Club, but this one is even better, clever mystery with a cast of characters you don’t want to leave (I adore Joyce , even if her Instagram handle is a tad ropey…) 

Right, off to bed here , my sister has arranged a (contactless!) drop off Eight Detectives and I’m rather excited, how good does this look?

Keep safe friends, and when in doubt…eat Carbs 

Kristina xxx

*”Not much, how about you?” Thanks England Dan & John Ford Coley…

Keeping cool with Hippolyta

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I’m a child of the 80’s. Perched on the couch in my Pick-a-berry tee shirt and toweling shorts (I remember a lot of toweling clothing in the 80’s?), watching The Dukes of Hazzard and Magnum P.I (Tom Selleck is still one of the most aesthetically pleasing men to ever don a pair of high waisted jeans ).  I was so excited watching Dynasty when Blake & Krystle Carrington named their daughter Kristina , spelt correctly!  Smurfs and Scooby Doo were Saturday morning cartoon high points. It was the glorious hey day of the Mini series , Saturday night watching Lace , wholly inappropriate for an 11 year old but hey, in a big family if you stayed very quiet Mum would forget she hadn’t ordered you to bed. Who didn’t love Against the Wind and The Man from Snowy River, ? What a time to be alive! *

So when Sew Me Something  released their new pattern, the Hippolyta, I had a few nostalgia flashbacks, won’t lie. Batwing sleeves!! Whose Mum didn’t have a batwing sleeve sweatshirt, preferably very bright with some kind of loud floral print on the front? Actually I remember Mum making my sister a pale blue batwing dress with a mesh overlay for work. Yeow!

While I really like the details on this one I wasn’t sure how it be look made up, would I be swamped in fabric & ready to bust out some Culture Club at a moments notice?? Which thinking about it wouldn’t be a bad thing really. Resisting the urge to whip out the toweling, I instead forged ahead with a lovely light linen from Drapers Fabrics and I’m so glad I did, this dress is ace!

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Yes alright, but how could I resist ?

It’s hard to tell on such busy fabric, but there are interesting seam lines & pockets on the front and back. I actually cut this out several weeks ago, but sadly halfway through top stitching the yoke my machine went on the fritz , gahhh!

I got her back yesterday (although there is still getting knotted bobbin thread so back to the shop this week, boo!) and managed to finish my dress. Okay the hem is wonder webbed, please don’t judge, I will stitch it when I have my machine back to full health, promise.

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Checking out a not tight sleeve…or another weed?

I cut a straight size 20, I could probably go down a size but the whole point of this style is the loose fit. I really like how the hem tapers in , which stops it veering into sack territory. This is a great pattern for a beginner, the sleeves are not set in, and there are clear instructions for how to make the collar, so you end up with a garment that looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, win!

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So roomy!

As expected with a bat wing, there is plenty of room through the bicep , and the cuff is a really nice touch.

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As usual with her patterns, Jules adds really nice details , I love this loop on the back yoke.

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I’m a rebel & I’ll never be any good

Now I will admit I did cheat a little here. The placket has three buttons, but to be honest I will NEVER button a shirt right up, I have a generous bust which looks much more proportional with some decolletage on show, buttoned up I ain’t baby! I was already getting bad vibes from my machine & thought buttonholes would push it over the edge so I simply added the single button for interest. Just don’t tell Jules ‘kay?

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Plenty of room through the back and no annoying butt cling, yay!

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Walking somewhere with purpose…? (the fridge probably!)

I really like this pattern, perfect in  linen for over jeans or leggings, and I’m already thinking something even more drapey like silk or rayon would be fab with sandals for work. Or if I need to break out some Mel & Kim moves…

It turns out I’m not the only one hanging in the garden, Tommy is admiring the new plinth, I think he suspects it would be a much better posing plinth for him than a silly place to put a sun dial…

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Stupid sundial…

 

Off to make dinner now, have a lovely week & remember, keep cool ’til after school kids!

 

Kristina (correctly spelt) xxx

*It’s hard now in the age of TV on demand, streaming services, & the ability to watch TV almost anywhere to remember what it was like to have TWO channels, which stopped screening around midnight. My aunts & uncles were early adopters of VHS (complete with a corded remote control), but even that had its limits. I remember one particularly fiery exchange of views when a crucial episode of Coronation Street had been taped over…

 

Emelia for Spring

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New pattern, new dress, new season

Hello again, and for those of us in the South, happy first day of Spring! It’s been the wettest August on record here in Auckland, while I love hunkering down in my sewing room when it’s wet & wild out even I’m ready for some sunshine. Coupled with the worst cold I’ve had in years (now morphed into bronchitis, yay) it feels like a veeeery long Winter.

So when I was contacted by Katy from one of my fav pattern companies Sew me Something  asking if I wanted to review their latest pattern I coughed a hearty “yes please!”

The Emelia has a similar vibe to another of their patterns, the Helena , retaining the same casual feel, with interesting details. I had some gorgeous Paprika linen in my stash (love me a Fabric Store sale) that I knew would drape perfectly and highlight the design details beautifully . Plus, that colour! Its deeply unscientific but I definitely find my mood improves in dull weather if I wear colour. While black on black can look very chic, and is no doubt “slimming” (yawn) , it just makes me feel invisible. Fabulous jewel and autumnal colours are much more fun, plus they work together , this colour looks amazing with deep rich green, chocolate and navy.

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Apparently I need to dust my plants. Who even knew that was a thing??

So, the details. Jules has expanded her size range for this pattern (and her back catalogue is also being updated!) so the Emelia goes from size 8 to 26. Bear in mind Sew Me Something patterns have a generous amount of ease. I made a straight size 20, I knew I would want to layer this one with a merino underneath, my measurements are 45/39/49 so I’m still a few inches outside the size but I’m really happy with the fit. For a warmer weather version (oh I cannot wait to wear with sneakers & bare legs!) I may even size down to 18.

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This dress is all about the detail. The back inverted pleat gives lovely movement through the back (no clinging butt here hey). I was concerned the front pleat over my generous bust (or big boobige as its know in these parts…) could look a tad matronly, but the clever V shape at the front stops that happening.

How about those sleeves?? I’ve mentioned before how I like a sleeve to taper in to my elbow, I have large biceps so I often have to do a large bicep adjustment to sleeves (if this is you too, see here) This results in a wider sleeve hem, which can end up looking weird and unbalanced. Something that pulls that sleeve hem in is always welcome. I’m happy to say NO bicep adjustment needed with this pattern, you can raise that glass of wine with nary a wrinkle.

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See, no tight sleeve here people. Don’t be alarmed…

As you can see I made Version 1, with a collar. Interestingly when Jules asked the question on the Sew Me Something Pattern Facebook group the majority preferred the non collar version. I love the collar! I have quite narrow shoulders, especially in relation to my bust, I think a collar provides balance, and frames the face perfectly. If you’re concerned about complicated construction, don’t be, you are in good hands. Follow the instructions and most importantly , make the notches & dots on the pattern. Seriously.

I’m often a bit casual about that, but this time I was really careful and gosh it paid off. The collar, the front pleat, the top stitching, everything is where it should be because I was 1000% more patient than I normally am.

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Apparently this ficus is most hilarious…

Will there be more Emelias? Definitely, I have some amazing plum coloured double gauze which I want to use for Version 2, it will be fabulous over jeans. Some striped linen is also calling out to me…

Have a lovely week people. Its Fathers day here in NZ today, I’d love to spend the day with my father Bernie, he passed away in 2011, I think of him often. Sometimes when I’m wearing jeans. Dad hated jeans, he grew up poor in a different generation (Dad was 40 when I was born) & jeans were something you wore when you couldn’t afford anything else, the irony of course being by the time I was a teen a pair of 501’s were not cheap. Oh the arguments…

When I see anything related to Westerns. Dad loved reading & watching Westerns, we would have to collect his Louie Lamour books from the library with our Trixie Beldons , the shame!! He used to talk about Mountain Man breakfasts, not sure what Mum was supposed to whip up or even if they existed in suburban South Auckland but I love the idea.

Most of all when I’m sitting here typing this blog. Dad was a consummate story teller. I don’t really remember him telling jokes as such (I’m def his daughter in that respect, I cant tell a joke to save my life) but he often had a funny remark, and told wonderful stories. He was a kind man, maybe a rather underrated commodity nowadays. Nothing made him happier than big family gatherings , lots of good food, drink & stories. I sometimes think he should’ve been Italian, but that red hair, those freckles, that amount of talk?? Dad was the most perfect Irish NZ combo I can imagine, sláinte  x

Kristina x

Jumping for joy Cressida

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Goodness, it’s been a month since I last posted, how time flies when you get the front of your house ripped apart. You’d think, given my sewing room is at the back of the house I could continue unabated. But constantly wiping dust off EVERYTHING, deciding on things like door furniture (yes, it’s a thing) and secretly bitching about having to spend a couple of grand replacing the circuit board (alright yes I know it means the house is about 98% less likely to burn down but still, that’s a LOT of fabric people!) Most problematic of all? WHERE TO PUT THE CAT DOOR???*

So we can confidently say first world problem Kristina, build a bridge love. In my defense we are having Christmas at ours this year, my sister & her partner will be coming from Oz, hopefully my nephew from the UK so I want everything to be lovely . We were supposed to be visiting the UK over Summer, but as with most home reno’s the “nice bit of decking off the lounge” has morphed into “well I need feature lighting for the sculpture area & did we really spend over a thousand dollars on screws for the deck???”*

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So how on earth does all this relate to a woman standing in her garden wearing a snake print jumpsuit you may ask? When I was contacted by Jules at Sew Me Something asking if I’d like to write a review of her new pattern I was torn. A jumpsuit? Me? Really? I wont lie I was tempted by the Zadie jumpsuit that’s all over social media, but the idea of a wrap top made me nervous. Could a button front be the way to go?

 

After several weeks of chaos I just thought bugger it, if I can survive inhaling my body weight in wood dust every day, I can certainly manage a jumpsuit!

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Averting my eyes from those mucky pavers (thanks Tuppence…)

Very pleased I did. This is a great pattern! Not too complicated to sew (I’ve made several  of Jule’s patterns before, her instructions are excellent), so easy to wear. I decided to go with a slightly more formal version I could wear to work, using a drapey rayon from Spotlight. The pattern is for a pant that hits above the ankle,  but there are lengthen lines so I added 4 cm/2 incs to the leg. Because I have a VERY short waist I chopped the same amount off the bottom of the bodice that attaches to the pants. As you can see Im still belting higher than the waistline, so next time I would shave off another couple of cm. I’ve done this with other patterns, if something is going to sit on my waist, I need to adjust for the fact my waist is darn high!

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I will raise the bodice up another couple of cm next time…

The buttons make for an easy in & out when necessary (the bane of many a jumpsuit). The pockets are magnificent, nice & deep. I didn’t turn the sleeve cuffs over, I was happy with the sleeve length and I think the plain hem is a little more dressy. Because my belt is made from flimsy rayon it twists up very easily, next time I would add some interfacing for a bit of body. I made the size 20 but I think I could size down to an 18 next time.

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Me wondering why some woman can wear heels all day & I’m moaning after five minutes…

So despite my reservations, a perfect work/going out outfit , ideal with the cropped black leather jacket I have in a cupboard somewhere just waiting for me to find it again…

I will definitely make this pattern again, I’d like a gorgeous linen version to wear with sneakers of sandals when it warms up , linen for the winnin!

In the meantime, according to my husband I look “great… and also if I need to parachute into Western Europe on a moments notice I’m perfectly dressed!”

Thanks hon…

So when I haven’t been whipping up jumpsuits or dusting what else has been occurring?

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Little jars of sparkling fruity goodness

When your Mum comes to visit bearing oranges from her neighbor & a bag of sugar? You make marmalade of course, I don’t have Seville oranges so this one also includes limes from our tree for some bite,  delicious. Mum can’t have grapefruit, so this marmalade is a wonderful alternative, how pretty does it look?

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I wish you could feel how soft this is…

We had a crafters lunch last weekend and lovely Lesley turned up with this gorgeous hottie cover for me, isn’t that colour magic! The wool is alpaca, I can confirm it is one of life’s joys to slip into cool cotton sheets in winter & have this beauty to warm your feet on (I cant abide electric blankets!), bliss!

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Um…??!

Apparently some crafters take it next level…!

Have a fabulous week

Kristina xxx

*Yes, we got a fancy new front door & put a big hole in it to install a cat door. My Mother was almost as appalled as my builder 🙂

*Yes, that really is how much we spent on screws. Yes, I needed a lie down.

 

Celia in the almost tropics…

 

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

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

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

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

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Hi neighbor…yep, on the posing porch again.

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

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

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

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Dancing Stitching Queen!

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

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

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

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Oh lala fancy lady!

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

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

Kristina x

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

Image result for bet lynch

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

Portia & her big girl pants…

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Just hangin’ in my cool pants…

When the Curvy Sewing Collective announced the first make of their year of sewing, I must admit I was slightly less than excited. My last few attempts at pants had been very much that, was I ready to get back on the particular grump inducing horse??

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Then I remembered a pattern I had picked up in the UK, on my wonderful sewing adventure to Sew Me Something last year. The Portia pant, I really like this style , wide leg & casual but still smart,  and I thought it might be a reasonably easy pattern to start with. Or at least not have me reaching for the Chard after ten minutes. Also I have used several of Jules patterns before, & know her drafting and instructions are excellent.

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Hi. Oh yeah I know, cool pants…:)

I had some rather lovely soft washed Merchant & Mills linen from Miss Maude in my stash, loose swishy wide leg pants, very cool & elegant for walks on the beach, trawling a fabulous museum…or in my case, the aisles of New World.

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To tuck or not to tuck, that is the question…

Now I’ll fess up , these are too big. This isn’t a problem I normally have , but there you go! I made up a size 22, next time I will sew an 18 waist grading to 20 hip. I don’t wear my tops tucked into my pants anyway, so I can easily wear a belt , but they do feel quite loose.

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Why???? 

Second confession? What on earth was I thinking when I put those back pockets on? I clearly buggered up the markings when I cut the pattern out. Seriously, are they supposed to be on my butt? On my hip? Cargo style on my thigh?? Who knows, when I can face it, I’ll definitely unpick & re-position. I’m really cross about it actually, as I really nailed the stitching (I take every small victory ok)

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I was so careful too…

I like the details on these pants, the front pockets, the belt loops, the generous width of the leg. It’s a reasonably easy sew, and following the instructions made even inserting a fly zip really straightforward. Yes, honestly! I’m really chuffed with that zip & it wasn’t a big deal at all!

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Vintage button love.

I’ve seen other versions made in heavy cotton, and even denim, which look fab, but for me it’s some slightly lighter weight crisp navy blue linen for my next pair. I made a trip (only my second, honest…this week) to The Fabric Store and was blown away by the gorgeous linens. Yes, it creases, but as I memorably overheard one day “it’s expensive looking creases”. Actually not so much with 20% off, yeow!

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Tommy & I coordinating poses.

I’m seeing these with my navy blue & white striped boat neck (in the wash), a cute floral shirt (like this Harrison), or as per the pics, my Liberty print Dartmouth, which is so easy to wear, but just that bit more interesting than a plain tee.

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They would be gorgeous with some pretty sandals, but after a particularly aggressive pedicure, I have a wee toe infection at the moment (sorry, but this is an open kimono blog!), so I’m all about the sneaker. According to my husband/photographer/not fashion guru, these are rather heinous sneakers. To quote,  “they look like Mums nursing shoes. Even worse, ’cause you’ve taped them together with elastic”. Harsh.

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Not Nurses Shoes.

Needless to say, I laughed & ignored him completely. Such is marital harmony.

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You don’t like my shoes?? Yes, I totally care….not!

Anyway, not a bad job, and I look forward to the next pair. Have you made pants? Any fav patterns, do share. And if you want to tell me how ugly my sneakers are, please feel free, I can take it. Seriously.

Kristina x

P.S Check out the poseur photo-bomber behind me. He’s called this “swimsuit edition, sultry look back over shoulder”.

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Oh Tommy….

 

 

It’s all crepes and peaches around here…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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?

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Exceedingly helpful Tommy

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

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Get lost with the camera…!

Temperamental much?

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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

 

 

 

 

Leaving on a jet plane…

 

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More birds! Imogen loves birds…

If you’re anything like me, nothing says going on your hols like last minute sewing plans, especially the wildly unrealistic kind. Three tops and a shirt-dress in a week, no problem. Trousers hemmed, shirt started (and finished) by Saturday, I’m on it….and really, why can’t I make my own swimsuit in an evening?

In my imagination I get on flights dressed in linen & silk,  looking cool & effortless, with just my carry on bag , sunglasses & and a knowing smile to see me on my adventures. Naturally the reality is actually me in active wear pants & sneakers struggling with a ludicrous amount of luggage which I heave onto the baggage counter with a grimace , in an unseemly rush to get to the lounge & chugg down a nerve soothing Chardonnay. Oh well. 

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Yes, that is a prison wall behind me…

So it was probably no surprise to find me rushing to finish my second Imogen top the day we flew out from Auckland to the UK. In between packing, buying cat food, finding my passport and all the other things sensible people do in the days & weeks before they actually fly ( *cough cough* it’s only 23 odd hours flying time, so not like long haul or anything right…..?)

At least I feel rather fabulous and holiday ready in this wee number. Its made up in a light cotton lawn from Monaluna from Miss Maude Sewing, light & breezy, perfect for a summer holiday (it’s pouring with rain as we speak….but it also looks lovely with a cardi over ok)

I was particularly brave taking this wee top on my adventures, as the first week of my hols was to be spent with the lovely Jules at Sew Me Something in Stratford-upon-Avon (yes, this is one of her patterns.) I was attending the Pattern Cutting Summer School, which I can HIGHLY recommend , what a confidence builder!

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Team Pattern Cutting, that’s Jules our tutor/sewing guru in the fab teal flamingos

As you can see from the pic, we are a diverse group size wise, and it was completely irrelevant for the purposes of the workshop. After a very through measuring session done in pairs (all clothed), we set to work on our own individual block (sloper), either a fitted bodice, or a looser version. I went looser as that’s generally the shape I prefer to wear, but the choice is yours.

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Tea & homemade lemon drizzle cake to keep us fortified!

Working at your own pace , the goal is to make a finished bodice & sleeve block to your own measurements, which is then traced onto calico , sewn up & tried on for size. Jules gets out her magic pins & shows you where adjustments are required. I have narrow shoulders & wider hips with large biceps so we took a good amount off around the shoulder , added width around the hips & cut & spread (which I’ve never been able to do successfully) around the upper arm.

These adjustments are then transferred to your basic block, a new tracing is made which is cut out & sewn up for fitting. Amazingly my sleeve fit a treat first time. So I now have a perfectly fitting bodice, which I can create all sorts of variations with.

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Hard at work, plenty of light, bright workspace to spread out!

Our next challenge was to create an actual garment with our block, exciting! I choose a simple A line style shape with a stand up collar, elbow sleeves with a frill detail and an inverted back pleat for a bit of “walking away” drama (I do love a bit of drama.)

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The front of my calico dress, I’m so in love with that collar…

Everyone did something different which was interesting, from Karen’s amazing 50’s style shirtwaister, to Mary’s gorgeous princess seamed dress with TEN tuckpleats ( I can neither confirm nor deny she may have doubted the wisdom of that decision at one or two points during the day…) . Carole did a beautifully elegant fitted shift dress (both Karen & Carole did the fitted block). Marion made a gorgeous princess seamed bodice with the cutest swing skirt, while Penny was working on a COAT no less! As you can see, plenty of creative choice.

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The back, which I envisage in a drapy crepe fabric…

I managed to finish my dress calico by the end of day three, so on day four I worked on a pants block, which I have finished and ready to make up on my return to NZ, will make the end of the hols slightly less depressing, knowing I have so many new projects to work on. Especially since I have actually brought the teal crepe to make my beautiful frock in!

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Doesn’t that look inviting?

Have you ever considered a sewing workshop? Some things do go through your mind, “will I keep up”, “will everyone be a much better sewer than me” etc, but to be honest it made zero difference (Most of the ladies in that room would blow me out of the water for sewing skills!), you just work at your own pace, and actually learn so much just from watching others be fitted, and sharing tips and tricks (or even the odd “high waisted flood pants” look)  which gives you a giggle and keeps it real (I’m looking at you Mary!) So if you are thinking about one, I’d say go for it!

After a fab week in Stratford upon Avon (despite Mr D’s bag being lost somewhere between the UK and LA, nice work Virgin Atlantic…), we have had a few relaxing days in Oxford, staying at a hotel that was formally a prison, interesting!

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I’m innocent , I swear it Guv!

Lovers of UK detective series may recognize this from an episode of Lewis. Naturally we also went to the Turf Tavern and tipped our hats to Inspector Morse. Sadly Colin Dexter, the author of the wonderful Morse series passed away earlier this year, I hope him & John Thaw are enjoying a real beer together.

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Oxford at night, bewitching…

We are now off to the Cotswolds for a few sdays with friends, to stay by the water, then on to the beautiful city of Bath, where I will no doubt find a few treaures to share…

Kristina xxx

 

 

Lunching with Imogen

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Lovely Imogen, how delightful you are! Described on the packet as a Shakespearean heroine “steadfast, loyal and an all round good egg’, I feel much the same about this top. She isn’t a show pony. No crazy bells & whistles here kids. Just a lovely drape, a flattering neckline, and that most wonderful of things for this fair maiden, sleeves!

The fabric is a rayon from Spotlight (on sale!), despite my previous issues sewing this slippery minx of a fabric, the birds were irresistible. I was concerned the pink wasn’t really me, but, you know,  birds. The very next week I noticed a work colleague in a shirt made of the same fabric, purchased from Zara in Melbourne. After that, two separate TV presenters , also wearing the same fabric. Birds are popular it would seem!

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Hustle, I want my lunch!!

This is my second make from Sew Me Something, and I wont deny it, I have a pattern company lady crush going on here. Pattern companies design based on a particular shape (their “block”) , grading up and down from that basic shape to create different sizes. Finding a company that works for your shape is gold. I realized recently that while I love for instance Tilly & the Buttons styling, the patterns are simply not designed for my shape. Tilly is a wee wisp of a thing, and her patterns look amazing on her shape. I made a Bettine & looked quite frankly, dumpy.

Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear shaped woman with smaller busts, again, not everything is going to work on my DD’s! Don’t get me wrong, of course you’re going to design for your shape, why wouldn’t you? But having the time/patience to find what works is worth it, however tricky.

I made a straight size 20, with no alterations required (hooray!). The fit is loose, without being baggy, gathering around the neckline with a nice placket detail at the front, and shaped hem. Their is the option of short or long sleeves, I went long, which has elastic gathering at the cuff. It looks cute and makes the top feel a little more streamlined.

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Excellent butt coverage!

The only tricky bit for me was, as usual, dealing with the fabric. By the time I got to sewing the neckline my interfacing (despite nuclear amounts of iron heat) had managed to completely un-attach itself from the facing fabric. I was already having issues with my bobbin thread tension, so decided to just solider on, the “she’ll be right attitude” I continue to persevere with despite no evidence of success thus far…

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Kinky Boots Top!

I wasn’t careful enough keeping a consistent distance sewing my neckline facing (a cavalier approach to seam allowances is coming back to haunt me!), so its a bit wider at one end. I need longer hair to cover it obviously!

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Well one side is fine at least…

Despite all of this, I wore my lovely top out today with jeans & long boots to a fab birthday lunch with friends, it felt great to wear & I could happily consume three delicious courses with ease, Happy Birthday to me!

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“I’m as free as a bird now…”

I had this amazing cake made by the super talented Gourmet Gannet for my work morning tea , Tropical cake, made with passionfruit, pineapple & lemon, light , delicious and full of fruit so probably quite healthy…

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Nom nom nom!

Obviously my next make will be some form of stretchy waist yoga pant (yes alright, it should probably should be some form of “active wear”……..ok, lets not get silly shall we?)

Kristina xxx

 

Dancing with Helena

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Those colours!

That thing when you make something you are really pleased with, and have several strangers stop you in public & ask where you brought your dress, and you try and be all modest/cool saying “oh I made it myself”, when really your doing a deeply uncool “whoop whoop/solo high five” inside and feeling like a sewing ninja/fabric whisperer/superstar. Yep that thing.

So after the success of my last Helena , I intended to make a plain shorter version to wear with jeans or skinny pants. Then I saw this amazing fabric by Karen Walker , (a designer I can neither fit nor afford) AND it was 50% off. I was so taken with the colours  I brought it despite being polyester. I didn’t actually notice the wonderful ladies until I got it home. We were in Drapers Fabric and while my husband was being chatted up by all the females in the shop, in about 10 minutes I managed to purchase three knits, a cotton and the most lovely silk you will be seeing here soon! Thanks ladies, diversion tactics!

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All the single pretty ladies!

Now I’ll be honest, I would never normally buy polyester. It makes me sweat. Actually , when we were kids in the 70’s here in the Antipodes, we were taught females didn’t sweat, they “glowed”. Either way, given I live in a city that has a mean humidity in Summer of about 98%, my purchase was probably more a triumph of hope over experience, but whatever, I’m a (glowing!) optimist.

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Oh hi you lovely boots.

I left the pockets off this time, the fabric is stiffer than linen, and given the busy print, kept the sleeves simple. Have I mentioned how much I love I dont need to do a bicep adjustment for this pattern. If not, consider it mentioned.

I did find the neckline does not sit as flat as the linen version, I’m not used to sewing a polyester fabric like this (its quite thick & slightly slippery), it also has zero natural stretch.

Despite this, I think it looks fab, and huzzah, wearing it with leggings and boots I can avoid the dreaded “chubb rub” (goodness, we’re all about the sharing today kids!) I have chunky calves, so boot buying was always an epic fail, until I came across this UK company . They are not cheap, but they are really comfy and the quality is fantastic, I have pairs over five years old that just require resoling every now and again. It opens up a whole world of winter dress wearing , and I can run for the train, result!

 

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Spotted the snafu yet…?

Now, the elephant in the room. The sleeves. Continuing my longstanding habit of making the simple into something ridiculously difficult, I managed to cut my sleeves upside down. Yes, really. I then compounded the issue by being completely clueless of this fact until AFTER the sleeves were not only inserted, but hemmed, ironed & being admired by yours truly. After consulting the lovely ladies on the rather awesome Curvy Sewing Collective, we decided to consider it a design choice, which would also have potential for fabulous hands in the air dancing. I fully approve obviously.

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Throw ya hands in the air, like ya just dont care…(with apologies to the neighbors, and passing birds temporarily snow blinded by my milky white arms…)

Apparently black is “slimming” . Possibly, but I’ve decided I’m just fine with the amount of space I occupy (and quite frankly, I wear lovely perfume, clean clothing & have few sharp angles, if only every commuter on public transport was as considerate!). Some days a loud print just makes you smile. Now, I feel an interpretive dance coming on…

Kristina xxx

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I’m calling this one “Have I left the oven on?”