A Wiksten (or two) for the holidays

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Merry Christmas, Miri Kirihimete, Happy Holidays to you. ‘Tis the season to be exhausted! For various reasons it’s been a hectic month or so at Plum Towers. After hosting 21 lovely whanau for Christmas day (thankfully it didn’t rain so we could fit everyone on the new deck, avoiding the need for a ticketing system for the  dining table…yessss!) , a fab Boxing Day lunch at my sisters around the corner, AND a sisters sewing bee on the 27th, it’s been all go here.

As per tradition I didn’t manage to get a Christmas day outfit organised (I suspect those who do should really be given control of the universe, they can clearly do anything). But we have a family holiday to the Hawkes Bay this week & I thought a few loose summer tops would be perfect. My bestie recently made a Wiksten top & dress & when she sent me some pics I was intrigued. Up until then I really couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Being “bigger of boobage” a top without darts always feels like we could easily veer into box territory. Actually that’s the point, and when done well, it’s a great easy shape.

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Certainly a deceptively simple shape. Actually this pattern is an absolute winner. I’ve made two so far, there will be more. In fact my eldest sister Dette used my pattern to cut out a Wiksten for my younger sister Wou (I talk with a cast of thousands when it comes to sisters…) and she looks great in this. Bearing in mind I’m a 5’6″. pear with a 44″ bust & Wou is 5′ nothing on tippy toes & is definitely apple shaped (Braeburn for preference) . This is a crazy good pattern.

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My first version is in a fab soft double gauze from Drapers Fabric , I couldn’t resist the feel of the fabric or the pattern. I cut the pockets on the bias to create interest. Possibly not the easiest choice with a soft fabric like double gauze, but my pattern matching skills are weak, so better to go completely the opposite I say. My mother didn’t call me out so as far as I’m concerned that’s win .

I made the top version of the pattern, with the 3/4 sleeve, and also added approx 4 inches/10 cm to the hem, I figured I could cut it off later if needed, but I actually really like the length. Most excellent butt coverage yes? I cut a straight size 20, so pretty close to my actual measurements of 44/40/50

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Snow Blindness ?

My second Wiksten is in a linen cotton blend, a Xmas gift from Dette with a rather bold print I happen to love. As my husband also helpfully pointed out “I’ll never lose you in Bunnings” *

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The sleeve add on is genius, I definitely refer a longer sleeve, in NZ sun with my Irish “colouring” (or complete LACK of of colouring save for freckles!) a longer sleeve is a real bonus. Plus, excellent arm movement achieved!

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Party like its 2020…!

All up, an excellent pattern that would suit a variety of shapes, quick to sew (even for me!) and so easy to wear.

In other news , what’s been occurring since November & the Xmas silly kicked in?

Check out my back garden , a little cottage garden type situation…(what you say when everything has gone completely feral & you don’t even know where to start)

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This Triffid disguised itself as a tomato & is currently taking over my garden. We will eat nothing that doesn’t contain tomato for approximately the next six months.

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Triffid…

 

But at least I got my spice drawer organised . It’s possibly a bit sad how happy that makes me, but I like to feel if I’m facing all the trials, tribulations and elections that 2020 will bring , I want to do it fully spiced up  ready to go.

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I hope 2019 has been kind to you, if not, I hope you have the opportunity  to give it a massive kick into touch & head into 2020 feeling you will prevail. There is a lot of pressure this time of year, resolutions, to do lists, well meaning suggestions of ways we can make ourselves better/more successful/richer/ for the coming year.

I’ll leave you with a Xmas card that keeps it real…

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Watch out 2020, we’re coming for you xxx

Kristina

* Bunnings is a huge DIY store (aka Man Cave) , I’ve lost Mr PK there more than once…

 

With my Heart on my Sleeve, Cedar

 

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This pose is called “I can’t find my sunglasses”…

Exercise. I love it in theory. I’ve even dabbled in it from time to time. Cycling at school (I wasn’t very good but I liked the outfits), a couple of Triathlons , where I discovered swimming laps is possibly the most boring thing in the world. A brief ill advised attempt at Step aerobic classes. It was a very fancy gym, there’s me smack in the middle of a huge room of Lycra clad zealots grapevining our hearts out. Sadly I lost control of my new Reeboks momentarily & lurched off the edge of my box, taking out the poor woman next to me. Obviously I never went back.

Fast forward many years and theirs me struggling over the Auckland Harbor bridge (OMG that thing goes on for ever) running 21 km despite having a perfectly good car. Why??! Even when reasonably fit I run like a woman two steps away from a full cardiac event. Add to that I foolishly decided to wear the event sponsor tee shirt, which was a smudge too short, so I spent 20.5 km pulling my top down, arrggh!

Cedar Dolman Top PDF pattern

But exercise does make us feel better. Well it does after you’ve done it anyway. Great for the heart, skin, muscles, mind, it’s all good. I just want to do it in such a way it doesn’t actually appear I’m doing it. A nice brisk walk, maybe a cheeky 20 mins on the stationery cycle , a few stretches to keep everything from getting too creaky. I want to be comfortable, but also look good , and not go anywhere near a Lululemon store.

Enter the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman  top. This deceptively simple wee number can be made either in woven or knit fabrics. It has dolman sleeves (surprise) , a facing on the neckline & hem, with the option of a cute tie detail.

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Literally watching grass grow…

Now clearly I’m not a woman about to head out the door for a brisk 5 km. In fact I was off to lunch (now that’s something I’ll run for) , when I brought the pattern I didn’t have any suitable knit fabric, I did however have this lovely light cotton from Drapers Fabrics. Perfect for a light casual top to throw over jeans, it would also give me the chance to test the sizing before I embarked on my active wear adventure.

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I cut a size 18 Bust grading out to size 20 at the waist & hips. The pattern was a breeze to put together, the only alteration I made was to add an additional 4 “/10 cm to the sleeve, I wasn’t sure where it would hit my arm, but I’m really happy with the additional coverage, and will add the extra to my knit version also.

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Slightly fitted but not tight

I cut a straight hem, for my knit version I’m going to try the cute tie detail. Actually it would also work with a woven, so watch this space. I’d also like to add width to the woven sleeves & insert some elastic for a cuff effect, like the Montrose this is a simple top that can carry plenty of creative alterations.

For NZ peeps, Spotlight are having a cracking sale at the moment, behold this pile of beauties!

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Lovely soft knits

These two are knits, the bottom will be a Cedar for wearing with my black leggings for walking, the top one, I’m not sure yet, but isn’t it cute!

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Rayon for the win!

I love sewing rayon. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but these bold prints & colours really caught my eye. At least one will be another Fringe dress, the orange I’m thinking a Montrose for work with black pants & wedges, comfy but still fun.

It’s been super hectic few months so I’ve enjoyed getting back into my sewing room. That is the beauty of a nice quick project, sometimes you just want to do something simple and get it finished. When not sewing I’ve been out in the garden, with plenty of rain & sunshine everything is growing incredibly fast.

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Rosa “St Pretty Sure it Was a Church”

Sadly I’m terrible at remembering plant names, I kept the label for this glorious rose in a very safe place…so safe I still can’t find it, but it was definitely a church of some kind…

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Hmmm, this looks interesting…

 

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Just hangin…

Oh to be as relaxed as a cat! 🙂

 

Have a great week, I’m off to water the garden. Again.

Kristina x

Changing up with Montrose…

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I’m laughing in the face of a cold , can you tell? Between Mr D putting his back out & my almost-but-not-quite Manflu it’s been a symphony of sniffling & shuffling at Plum Towers this week. Sewing has taken a back seat to sitting on the couch with Netflix , a box of tissues & a LemSip. I don’t often get colds, which is good , I’m a moaning Minnie when I do (apparently…!)

I cut a couple of Cashmerette Montrose tops out a few weeks ago, and finally got around to finishing them over the weekend. I’ve made the pattern several times before, this time I had a couple of pieces of precious fabric to use, always good to start with a tried & tested pattern adding a couple of details to change it up.

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Love me a cute frill…and animal print. And gold!

First up some Atelier Brunette dreamy double gauze from  Miss Maude, this fabric is just so lovely to sew and to wear. It’s soft, light yet warm and the gold dots add a gorgeous detail on the rich chestnut colour, perfect for a grey Auckland day. It isn’t cheap, so I wanted make something I could wear with jeans on the weekend, but also for work.

I cut my usual Size 16 C/D bust, grading to an 18 at the waist & a 20 at the hip. So what changes did I make to the basic Montrose pattern?

First up, a frill all around the hem. I cut two rectangles of fabric on the fold, each one 29 x 54 cm (8″ x 21″) . I ran two rows of gathering stitches along one long edge of each piece, stopping 2-3 cm from the edge to allow for joining together (you don’t want to sew over your gathering stitches ) Join the two pieces together at the short edge to form a large circle, finish your seams, then begin gathering until the loop fits the lower hem of your bodice. It doesn’t actually take as long as you would think, trust me, the double gauze is quite stable, so the gathers tend to stay in place as you work. I trimmed about 10 cm/4 ” off my bodice, you might want to pin/baste the frill in place while you decide where you want it to sit on your body. Hem to finish (ok it’s a VERY long hem, won’t lie.)

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I used the large bicep sleeve piece (worth the price of the pattern alone, seriously) , and added a small amount of gathering around the sleeve to make it sit closer in to my elbow, before using binding to finish the hem. I almost always forget I only need one piece of binding when cutting out pattern that uses it around a neckline, and usually end up cutting two on the folded fabric,  so I often finish my sleeves with it also.

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Yeah, it is gonna rain again…

All up I’m really happy with this top, next time I would gather the sleeves in a little more, and use visible binding around the neckline . Perfect with jeans & some subtle animal print/gold espadrilles, roll on Summer!

So from the ease of wonderful stable double gauze to the slinky headache that is viscose.

 

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Yep, this is what I intended all along…

Ok how gorgeous is this fabric! Thanks to birthday vouchers, I treated myself, the colour combination is very me ( I’ve made my feelings on mustard very clear) , I rarely wear plain white. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of disturbance in the Force or what but as soon as I put on a white top whatever I happen to be eating has an immediate gravitational pull right down my front, a bowl of spaghetti & I look like an extra from CSI. But print, oh it hides a multitude of sins!

So back to me on my sickbed. What shouldn’t you do with a stinking cold? Ok besides going into work and coughing all over everyone while moaning about how bad you feel? DON’T BIND ANYTHING. EVER. IT WILL LOOK LIKE THIS.

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Oh dear…

More ripples than a bag of chips. Also what is going on with those clumsy pin tucks you may ask. Indeed. I had an idea, the execution left much to be desired, lets leave it at that shall we?

So my bright idea was to add cute little pin tucks at the front of my Montrose, visible binding around the neckline, with small tucks at the sleeve hem, also bound. I thought the light viscose would lend itself to the tucks, while still allowing the lovely print to shine.

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A face that says yes I have a cold…but look at my new top hey!

To achieve my modifications on this one I wanted three tucks ether side of the center front. I ended up adding 10 cm/4″ to the middle of the front bodice, to allow for this. I also cut the extra piece of binding to use on my sleeves. So as you can see, I have an inverted pleat on my fabulous fabric, what happened? Well those pin tucks were not easy , or successful, the fabric is soft with a wee bit of bounce , it really didn’t want to hold those pleats at all. Trying to sew them maxed out on Panadol & Robitussin probably didn’t help to be fair… I then compounded the situation by adding my neckline binding. No, I don’t know what I was thinking except that clearly I wasn’t thinking.

After much faffing and unpicking (my Superpower remember!) I removed the binding, and unpicked all the tucks. In the end an inverted pleat seemed the best way to gather the fabric while still providing an interesting visual detail. I did the same on the sleeves, which I actually really like.

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A little obsessed with sleeve details…

The neckline binding isn’t ideal, but I’d given the binding and neckline such a hard time already I’m thankful it’s at least wearable. Next time perhaps a visible but smooth binding, inserted with a clear head , yes?

 

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Its still a lovely top , perfect for work with my mustard cardi.

If anything , besides not sewing with a cold, this exercise has taught me I need to be more considerate of the properties of my fabric before I just go for it with a cunning plan. I’ve sewn pin tucks before, on linen, which is a whole different ball game. Actually a linen pin tuck Montrose would be very cute…

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Stop & think before you bind people!

I hope you have had a fabulous week, it stopped raining long enough this morning for Mr D to get out in the garden weeding. No doubt he will be complaining of a sore back later, sadly drowned out by the sound of me coughing…

Take your Vitamin C kids!

Kristina x

 

Another Fielder in the garden

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Do I look like I’m getting better at standing around posing in the garden? No, I didn’t think so either. Oh well, at least the sun is out and I have something new to wear while I’m doing it.

I’ve made several Merchant & Mills Fielder dresses, I like the easy style and it’s a reasonably quick sew, even for me. I didn’t have enough of this brown spotty rayon from Spotlight to make the dress , I can’t remember what I brought this for (I do recall I was with my BFF and she commented “oh that’s very you…I don’t really like it to be honest”…) but it reminded me of animal print, of which I am QUITE the fan (yes, especially on shoes!)

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Hi neighbor…again

This is the top version, it was originally going to be another Fantail , but I remembered I had a whole bottom row of ribbing from the Great Bomber Jacket disaster of 2018, the cuffs & sleeves of which also went into a Fielder.  Unfortunately I had to unpick the remnants of its previous short-lived life first. If their were a World Cup of unpicking I would surely be on Team NZ! But worth the effort, it wasn’t cheap and such a waste not to be used.

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One of my Superpowers…unpicking!

The last few Fielders I made I’ve used the striped Merchant & Mills rib, it’s lovely, but quite a bit stiffer than the rib knit I had. I can see the neckline needed to be a few cm shorter using this rib, its slightly too loose. I wished I’d seen that before I overlocked it on of course!

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I was concerned after cutting out the top would end up being too short, & I think for next time I will add a couple of cm to the length. I’ve possibly put on a couple of kg since last time I used this pattern , the upper arm area feels slightly snugger than I’d like , and with a singlet underneath its a wee bit tight across my bust. I may try to eat slightly less than my body weight in mashed potato & pasta this winter…or I may cut a bigger size next time?

For reference, as per my first Fielder, I very inexpertly graded the pattern up myself, happily Merchant & Mills are currently working on a whole new block in a bigger size range, up to a size 28 or 30, no doubt much more accurately than I.  If you want to read further details see this post.

Im pretty excited by this news, I love the style of their patterns, not to everyone’s taste but I feel put together & grown up in their designs, not to fussy but nice detailing. Plus so many of them work perfectly with linen, my most favorite fabric ! I just need to live somewhere a tad warmer…

So, whats next?

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All the pretty things…

 

I’m consciously trying to use up fabrics & patterns from my stash, rather than being blinded by all the pretty things & purchasing yet more. Not only is this better for the environment, its better for the state of my marriage, not listening to the Minister of Finance wandering through the kitchen waving the Visa statement around exclaiming “HOW MUCH??!” is really quite nice. Not that I was actually listening anyway…

I’ve made a couple of Montrose tops already, this fabric was quite spendy so I want to make something I know I like, fits me & I will wear. The chestnut double gauze will have a cute frill around the bottom hem, the delicious white fabric will have some pretty pin-tucks on the front bodice, french seams & binding around the sleeve hem.

I’m hoping to get 30-60 mins sewing done each evening, I struggle with sewing dark colours at night (yes, I’ve booked an optometrist appointment) but lighter fabric is easier. Oh the joys of powering into middle age!

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This was AFTER picking 99 limes…yes, we counted

Other weekend fun? When the universe gives you an abundant lime tree , you make lime pickle!

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Jars of sour joy…

I’m looking forward to curry nights in a few months time when jars of these beauties will be ready to eat. A work colleague told me how to make them, she knows her stuff when it comes to food (her Tomato Kasundi recipe I’ve been using for years) , apparently she eats this on toast, crumpets, the works. I love it involves opening a packet of Achar Masala spice mix and adding to sterilized jars filled with limes, salt & sugar. We don’t use any chemicals on our fruit (or much attention to be honest, Tough Love Gardening according to Mr D) I cant wait to taste them!

Have a fabulous week

Kristina xxx

 

The cat that got the Fantail…

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So, what’s occurring? Me? Oh I’m great, I’ve discovered a fab chicken recipe, seen a great movie, and gone full crazy cat lady. In just a couple of weeks!

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Gardening, my style…

I came across this beauty at Drapers Fabrics . Look closely at the pattern. To be honest I didn’t click at first, I just liked the feel of the viscose, a bit more weighty than usual, plus the colours & pattern felt quite 30’s in style. Naturally once I realized, I HAD to buy it!

So what to make? I thought a top of some sort maybe…( yes my name is Kristina & I do buy fabric without the first clue what I’m going to us it for)  I wish I were more focused. I also wish I talked a bit less & had bigger lips. Sometimes we just need to live with our flaws yes?

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The pattern I eventually settled on was the Fantail Shirt by NZ company The Sewing Revival. I really liked the simple lines, with the cute gathered detail at the front. I also liked the low gathered back hem, right up until I actually tried it on. I had exactly the same issue with this make, I’m super conscious of fabric clinging to my butt , while the poplin had a bit of heft, the viscose REALLY clung, hmmmm.

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Perfect length for me

In the end I trimmed off the scooped hem & leveled it up, for me this just felt like something I’d be much more inclined to wear.

I made the 2XL of this pattern, some of the other patterns in the range go up to 4XL, but this one doesn’t, which is a shame as it’s a great shape & so easy to sew and wear. I have contacted the designer to see if the size range will be expanded but haven’t heard back yet.

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I found the instructions and photo really easy to follow. In fact I would definitely recommend this pattern for beginners, there is a lot of instruction, (for me  possibly overkill,)  but for a less experienced sewer it would be really helpful. The cuffed sleeve & front gather detail make this appear a more complicated sew than it actually is, for a beginner with great instructions that can’t be a bad thing.

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It’s hard to see the front gather in photos on such a busy fabric, but it is really effective. Stopping the top from becoming really large & loose around the hem, while still keeping it relaxed and comfortable.

So comfortable in fact, that when your husband suggests you pose like the front of a 70’s knitting pattern, you agree! What was it with the crotch shots?

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why do I listen to him….?

You might notice a few of these pics in front of a garden that looks like it been taken over with bamboo?

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I cant see us at Chelsea to be honest…

Tuppence has made it her mission in life to dig up all the soil in this new planter bed, will she be dissuaded by a bit of bamboo? Hmmm….at least in the meantime we have some herbs & salad hey?

Next project? I’m using this rib, cut off the great Bomber Jacket Disaster of 2018.

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Waste not, just waste not…

Another Fielder top,  in rayon, I couldn’t resist this combo. Despite my BFF telling me “I don’t really love that”. I’m all over anything that says animal print, how could I resist?

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Grrrrrr!

So the movie? I saw Little Woods with my pal Vanessa (yes, she of the critical fabric review). It’s a modern Western Crime film, typically miserable (we have extremely divergent taste in films & books), but I actually enjoyed this one. If there is anything to remind you how lucky we have it in NZ with nationalized health care, it’s seeing the consequences for those that don’t. Sobering, if entertaining viewing.

I’ll leave you with Tommy living his best life, precariously balanced on a chair, under the heat pump, looking out the window. Cats are clearly not crazy, never mind their owners (or staff, as it were )

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Have a great week!

UPDATED TO INCLUDE CHICKEN RECIPE! ( which I forgot but is most delicious!)

Chop 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite sized chunks, and marinate in ¼ cup of soya sauce, a ¼ tsp of sesame oil, a glove or two of garlic , grated & a thumb sized piece of ginger peeled & grated.  After approx. 30 mins (or as long as you like) stir in a couple of tbsp of cornflour & a good grind of black pepper. Fry over medium heat in canola or sunflower oil until crispy, golden & cooked through

While chicken is cooking, steam some rice & broccoli (or any other green you like). Serve cooked chicken over the rice with the broccoli, some finely sliced cabbage, & a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Top with a drizzle of Kwepie mayonnaise & a drizzle of sesame dressing (or hoisin or teriyaki sauce would also work). Some Japanese pickled ginger would be nice to.

Last time I made this I marinated twice as much chicken & cooked double the rice, then frozen half in the marinade & half the rice in a freezer bag, so its ready to defrost & cook for a quick dinner

Kristina x

 

In the wild…my way

 

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Hello again, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend! Mine started well, picking Mum’s overlocker off after a full service, she’s been itching to get it back so I was happy to oblige. Sadly the key fob for our car finally bit the dust, refusing to open the door, instead setting the immobilizer AND the alarm off. I spent two hours sitting by the car with an overlocker waiting for the AA, looking a bit grumpy  ( and probably slightly odd…)

Anyway, after a bit of a knit fest it was nice to get back to some wovens, and I must say I picked a goodin. A trip to Spotlight with a fellow sewing pal last weekend was a real treat, so many lovely new fabrics, including a fab white spotty cotton sateen that reminded me of animal print…which I seem to be extremely fond of yes? . I’ve never sewn with it before, what a joy, so stable, both to cut out and to sew. Plus it was 40% off, yeow!

I talked in my last post about the discussions going on in the sewing community concerning inclusivity, and one of those things was buying and using patterns from designers with size ranges that don’t really accommodate larger sizes. I’m on the cusp (my sister has a slight lisp and hearing her say that word is one of life’s small joys) of many pattern companies, often squeaking in at the top end of their size range. But for some designers, I’m WAY off the chart, and to be honest, if I’m going to pay top dollar , I don’t fancy then having to grade a pattern to actually get it in the ballpark of fitting me. NZ is a looooong way from anywhere* really so we tend to pay more for goods from anywhere outside the Pacific due to transport & FX costs.

Instead of buying a pattern for a super cute top I spotted recently (a good 4-5 inches outside my size, boo!), I thought I’d work with a couple of patterns I already have.

 

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So chic!

The Cuff Top by Assembly Line patterns, perfect for work with nice pants, equally appropriate for the weekend. So how to make a perfect version for me?

First, the cuff detail is the feature, and I have just the pattern.

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The Asymmetric Dress  from The Makers Atelier has the perfect cuff detail, so now I need the top to attach them to…

Step up…

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One of my fav patterns, I’ve made the Montrose several times before, and I love that I can create something I really want without recreating the wheel.

First step was to use some of my fabric to create a mock up of the sleeve detail, this was the unknown, and the bit I wanted to get spot on, its the “star of the dish” …if I were a slightly annoying TV cooking show…

I took the Montrose sleeve I’ve use before (all hail the full bicep sleeve!) and added width to allow for the gathering of the cuff. I then followed the instructions for inserting the elastic as per the Makers Atelier pattern, although of course I forgot to add length to allow for folding up the fabric to create the channel for the elastic, doh!

 

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Not a bad first attempt, although too short…

Using the fabric I intended for the whole garment allowed me to get a good idea for the feel and how it worked with the elastic, it was surprisingly easy and I love the effect of the gathered cuff. Next steps…

Taking my pattern piece and adding length as well as width. In my case I squared off the size 16 full bicep piece, which added approx 3-4 cm (1.5-2 inches) to each side, plus an additional 5 cm to the length of the sleeve.

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To make up the cuff, sew your sleeve together at the side seam, then fold a 1 cm (1/2 inch) hem.

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Measure your elastic & sew the short ends together. I used 4 cm (2 inch) elastic, which I stretched around my arm to give a firm but not tight band.

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Next, I folded my sleeve hem up another 5 cm (2.5 inches) and ironed it to create a hem to follow (this is exponentially easier with a nice firm fabric like sateen!)

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Now, take your elastic, and line the seam up with the seam on your sleeve hem, slipping it inside the fabric channel. Yes, it will feel weird as there is way more fabric than elastic but bear with me caller!

Now on your machine & working from the wrong side, line up the top of your sleeve hem fold with your needle, you want to encase the elastic but not stitch into it. Lower the needle & off you go. Honestly, its not as terrible as it looks!

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The trick is to stretch the elastic, but be careful not to sew into it. Once you reach the end you will have fabric you can straighten out so your gather is nice & even , with elastic that hugs your arm without cutting off circulation. If your fingers turn blue please take off your top & have another crack!

 

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I can do it! And smile like a loon while I do..

The Montrose has darts, which are not included in my inspiration pattern, but to be honest I think for those of us with a fuller bust a bit of shaping is essential , while still maintaining a reasonably boxy look. It’s all in the proportions. Like many things really.

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Now please admire my lovely flat neckline binding, after the horrors of stretched out knit necklines it  was rather heartening to make something that actually lay nice & flat!

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Me about to tell Tuppence not to jump on the table! Tuppence jumped on the table.

To complete the look?

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I do seem to have a thing going on…

 

So, not a perfect re-creation, but I think a great homage to a pattern I admire, while keeping my own values & aesthetic….and actually not spending any money on a new pattern, huzzah!

Kristina x

*If you’ve never been to this neck of the woods, imagine getting on a plane & taking off from Auckland due North West,  out over the huge dark Pacific ocean. A few hours later you’ve had pre-dinner drinks, dinner, maybe a movie, possibly an argument with your husband, but guess what? You’re still in the middle of nowhere. It’s literally nothing but ocean the whole time you look out the window. A few fitful hours sleep, and after eight hours you can wave at Hawaii as you pass a few tiny spots of light in the distance. After that,  settle back for another fours hours or so of nothing but water before the bright lights of LA come into view. Its a bloody big ocean!

 

Concord my way (no highway involved)…

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SO, the question. Why would you bother making a tee shirt? Surely if there is one item of clothing that can be found anywhere, in most sizes, its the humble tee?

Well, yes & no. You can find inexpensive tee shirts all over the place, but lets be honest, a $5 tee might seem cheap, but its costing somewhere. Be it child labour in back street sweat shops, cotton made in factories spewing crap into the environment, you get the picture.

Conversely, on of my sisters recently paid $140 for a tee shirt. Yes it was lovely ethically produced cotton, and yes, it looked fab, but my inner sewer couldn’t help but think wow, that’s a VERY simple shape!

Also tee shirts are very personal things. For me, the perfect version is “long enough”, which can vary, but never so short I feel like I need to pull it down to avoid muffin top flash (and God forbid never cropped, that ship sailed the same time my 501’s left town.) Sleeves should be elbow length, and snug but not so tight my arms look like strangled sausages. Because I have a larger bust, the necklines I prefer are a scoop, V or a nice boat neck. A high neck tee on me can look “mammaryish” for want of a better phrase!

 

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Love these colours

Enter the Cashmerette Concord, a pattern I have had for ages, but never quite got around to making (I have to be in the mood for knits). It has a variety of options, from neckline, sleeve & length, which means I can have exactly the tee I want, every time.

This is actually the first make I have lined up for my Make Nine challenge for 2019 , check out mine & other fab sewists over on the Curvy Sewing Collective .

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Yes, the lawn does need work, I don’t need reminding…

I chose View C, which is the longest tunic length, with a curved hem, elbow sleeves, and cute sleeve tabs. As I imagine all those Chefs on Food Network would put it, its “a tee, but with the volume turned up”!*

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I’m actually admiring my new clothes line. I haven’t had one for FIVE years!

The fabric is a reasonably thick stretch cotton, next time I would probably go with something slightly lighter, I feel like it clings a little more than I like. I THINK it’s from Spotlight, but to be honest its been in my stash for yonks, so I’m not 100% sure. But I love the cute print, which is why I brought it !

This is a nice easy sew, even with the curved hem & the sleeve tabs. As usual with Cashmerette patterns the instructions & size range are excellent. I cut a 18 C/D bust, grading to a 20 waist and hip, mainly due to the “cling” factor of my fabric . My last Cashmerette  make, the Pembroke was a 16 C/D in a much more stretchy fabric.

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No strangled sausage happening here thank you very much…

The only alteration I made was to add approx. 5 cm (2 ‘ ) to the sleeve, using this method. Jenny now adds full bicep sleeves to some of her patterns but this one is a few years old. I have 16 ‘ biceps so it’s one I do often!

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My twin stitching needs work, but I feel my neckline binding game is strong?

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I actually really like the length, but I think it would work better in a lighter, slightly less clinging fabric, I’m ok with my lumps & bumps (or should I say curves & gradients, sounds better?!), but I don’t like to feel like an over stuffed sofa hey?

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I already have my next Concord lined up, this time a striped version, with gold sparkles from Spotlight, who doesn’t need a bit of gold sparkle in their life, seriously?

It’s been an interesting week in the sewing community. A conversation blew up on Instagram (as things are wont to do on Social Media), about inclusive in patterns & pattern companies, the difficulties involved with plus size” patterns & it would seem, in plus size bodies…?

I made a short comment about my thoughts on Instagram here (ok, it was short because Instagram has a word limit on their posts.). I have a lot more thoughts on this one, but I’ve learnt from past experience sometimes its good to step back, let it all percolate & write from the informed perspective…as opposed the ragey Oh FFS give me a break one. I also cleaned & oiled my sewing machine & overlocker yesterday, so I clearly have some peak level adulting thing going on…

In the meantime, please check out Megan’s awesome post which has lots of food for thought and a great list of inclusive pattern companies**. Lets make our $$$ talk.

Now, I’ll leave you with this pic of my husband, we went shopping recently for outdoor furniture for our new deck. He LOVES watching movies, and decided this would be the perfect indoor lounging chair for his new 55″ TV. . I thought it was a bit big.

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Please bear in mind he is 6″ 3″…

We didn’t buy the chair.

Have a lovely week! Its Auckland Anniversary day here so I’ve had a whole day off, and a four day week to follow, huzzah!

 

Kristina xxx

 

* My personal fav is Ina Garten. I want her house. And her Barn. And her life, basically.

**I intend to put this list on my blog permanently, I just need to consult a willing tech savvy young person to help me & ensure I don’t actually lose my mind doing so.

 

 

Pembroke into Christmas…

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Hello! Why yes it is me standing in front of my Christmas tree posing like a dork again. It’s pouring with rain here today. Big, fat rain, warm & very very wet. Mother Nature put my Xmas lights to shame on Friday, lightening & thunder for ages, sun yesterday, precipitation today. Welcome to an Auckland summer yes?

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I absolutely should be out Christmas shopping, but just the thought of trying to park makes me want to lie down in a darkened room, let alone the actual shops. I did manage to get myself to Spotlight last week, I’m pretty sure it was to buy something on my list? Who knows. What I DID buy was some rather delicious rayon knit. 40% off no less! Plus I had a spend $100 get $40 off voucher. Honestly, its surely some kind of crime not to use those kind of discounts. If not , it certainly should be.

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For once I did actually have a pattern in mind when I brought my fabric. I tested the Pembroke pattern from Cashmerette , to be honest I didn’t make a great fabric choice, and the pattern needing tweaking, my resulting garment was not as fabulous as it could have been.

It was yonks ago ( which is encouraging to be honest, if I’m going to the expense & time of testing a pattern, its nice to know the feedback is actually being used and if necessary, acted on) Jenny sends a complimentary final pattern to her testers when it’s released (yay !) , mine was a lovely surprise and arrived coming into Summer. I’ve been seeing lots of fab Northern Hemisphere versions in really snugly cosy knits , but I knew I needed something much lighter & with way more stretch (it’s Xmas, I’m eating mince pies for breakfast hey!?)

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I cant even remember how many lists I have on the go right now…

I’ve not had huge success sewing knits, I think I peaked with my Turner dress, but for some reason I tend to stick to wovens. Nothing like a bargain to change my mind!

Now there was also method to my madness. I picked up another gorgeous knit, in what I thought was rather festive colours. Now who doesn’t want a new Christmas Day dress? We have the whaneu to ours on Xmas day, so I want something cute but also practical, I have turkey, beef, ham & a cocktail to wrangle after all…

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Yes, I do pre-wash my fabric!

Being a wonderful combination of lazy but also stubborn (yes, I am a Taurus actually) , I was determined to have a fab Xmas day frock, without spending too much time making it. The Pembroke was an experiment, it was actually meant to be a dress , but I didn’t have quite enough fabric.

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Yep, my cats do have their own stockings “kay…

A tunic is fun, and also adaptable. With leggings & sneakers , perfect for the supermarket run. With jeans & sandals great for the pub/shopping/lunch.

I cut a 16 Bust, grading to a 20 waist & hips, with no alteration to the bicep (yess!). I made the scoop neck, with mid length cuffed sleeves. The neckline is probably more scooped than it should be as I had a major brain fart attaching the neckline binding & did it around the wrong way. Rather than unpick (??!), I cut the offending binding off & attached a new one. Boom!

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Cuff love…

I chopped about 2 cm off the sleeve before adding the cuff, I think its a good length.

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Binding love…

The ties are optional. but I like the shape they give in a lighter knit.

So, Xmas sewing for me, anyone else?

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For my brother in law, a tee shirt in cool pale blue linen. I’ve had to buy the navy shorts to go with, expectations meet reality , that Christmas Feeling!

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Laundered linen with rib

For my sister, after seeing my linen Fielder she decided  she wanted one to, I brought the fabric for her birthday, now I have a deadline, Xmas Day dress!

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My photographer telling me “do something with your mouth & eyes”…

Whatever you celebrate , I hope you are having a great run into the season. If this time of year is harder I hope you are doing ok too. My Dad was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in October of 2010. He LOVED Christmas, and while we didn’t have huge means financially (five kids will do that to you Dad!) we have always celebrated royally. He got very sick very fast & passed away in January 2011. Xmas is a always tinged with that “gap”, but as I was once told, “missing someone special means lucky you, you had someone special to miss”. Sure did .

Now, whats it to be?  Turner or Pembroke for Xmas Day???

Kristina x

 

 

 

Montrose and the builders…

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Hello again! I’ve returned from a lovely relaxing holiday in Fiji

Apparently. It was three weeks ago but feels like an age. Impending Christmas will do that to you hey?

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Was I really here…?

To counteract the holiday “arrgh” a new top maybe? I’ve worn and worn my previous Montrose top, so why not another version. I missed my sewing room when I was away (yes, ten whole days), so a relatively simple sew to get me back into the swing of things was perfect. Also I need to start using some of my “*how much fabric do you need???!!” (*husband) stash. Indeed.

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Hangin on my new deck…

I brought this delicious Atelier Brunette double gauze from Miss Maude a month or two back. Its pricey, but I’m an absolute sucker for anything in this mustard/orange/rust/brown colour palette. If it goes with animal print you can count me in. Add the sparkle of the embroidered circle (dots?) , combined with the softness of a double gauze and I’m sold. But if you’re a lazy toile type (like me) then special fabric is best used with a pattern you trust.

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Staring at the wall…as you do.

I love the curved back yoke detail on the Montrose, it adds interest, and creates a nice shape. But of course the big bonus is sleeves. That fit. Sing along with me now Hallelujah!

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Sleeve tuck…and check out that tan.:)

I went off piste with the sleeves and bound the hem, to mirror the neckline binding , rather than simply folding up.  I also added three small tucks to bring the sleeve in at the elbow. I have generous biceps, but I think a looser top (and my forearms!)  look better with a tapered sleeve.

Result? A super cute super comfy top that works perfectly for the office, or with jeans on the weekend. In fact these pics are after a day at work, so if I look a tad crumpled that’s why.

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Before shot!

If you look closely you can see I’m standing somewhat in a building site. Am I ever! We are currently adding a large deck , boardwalk, pergola & the great wall of China between us & the neighbors. Actually our neighbors are FABULOUS & have put up with noise, dirt & a digger in their back garden like champs. Fences are so invasive! Not assisted by the fact Ellerslie is basically one big volcano. The digger that was suppose to stay one day stayed three. I can tell you that’s eaten into my fabric buying budget!

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First world problems.

Experience tells me its always gets worse before it gets better. Coming home to see nothing but destruction wasn’t exactly thrilling, but I trust Ben & I know when I said we were having Christmas at our place this year he was fully confident he could deliver. Or he was terrified but figured he could make it work. Either way I’m good with that!

So in the spirit of Christmas, a slightly terrifying festive shot . Your welcome.

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Miri Kirihimete !

Up next, a festive Turner dress, a fab red , white & blue rayon knit. Because every girl needs a new frock for Xmas day.

 

Kristina x

 

 

I heart Ngaio…

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

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

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

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Where is the love, the love, the love…

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

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

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

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

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Close up of the ladies

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

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

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

Yours in frost

Kristina x

 

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