My Assembly Line finally gets moving…

The sun is out!

Winter has well & truly arrived. Yes I did have to scrape ice off the windscreen the other morning. Mr PK & I have already had our annual “how to operate the heat pump” argument. I favor leaving it on all the time at a lower temp (also recommended by the installer), he is all about turning it off & on as required. So basically it will be operated with passive aggressive turning off and on in an extremely inefficient manner until September. Happy days!

So why am I wearing a relatively summery style dress then?

I cut this Assembly Line Box Please dress out about 10 Degrees ago, but never got around to making it up. My sewjo has been somewhat lacking recently, the pieces sat in my To Be Done basket making me feel bad before we had a really wet weekend & I finally got around to some sewing. It is quite a quick sew, even for me.

This dress is a winner. I choose a rayon from Spotlight , it has the prefect drape for this style. The shape is simple, but as with other Assembly Line patterns, it’s all about the details. I love the box pleat feature, which gives the dress wonderful movement, and the split hem. Pockets of course, and the sleeves are a really nice shape, loose enough I can layer with a merino top underneath. Boots & tights make this perfect for work, but when the weather warms up it will work equally well with sandals or sneakers, and a denim jacket .

I made a size XL with no alterations, next time I would do a small forward shoulder adjustment, but other than that I’m happy, another winner from The Assembly Line. The patterns are not cheap, but the aesthetic is definitely me,  I got this one & The Oversized Shirt from Miss Maude  which I’m really keen to make next (yay for sewjo!) 

I’ve gone a bit mad planting onions apparently…

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

Wife of the Year Award…

I FINALLY made up the Pajamas I promised Mr PK approx. four years ago. These are the Eastwood Pajamas by Thread Theory in beautiful soft Double Gauze also from Miss Maude. They are a huge hit, so much so I have now been asked to make a linen pair for Summer. He’s given me months of warning, wise man.

I saw this book Modern Quilting on the Merchant & Mills social media feed , they have provided offcuts of linen for the author Julius Arthur to use in his quilts for the book. I love the style & colours, I’ve never tried quilting before, quilting cotton always seemed a bit “in your face” for me, but these quilts are much more subdued. I enjoy listening to the Haptic & Hue podcast on my commute, this episode, talking about the Gee’s Bend quilters in Alabama was particularly interesting. 

Don’t laugh, its my first attempt!

My first attempt is a quilt for my cat to sit on, I figure start small while I figure out the techniques! Yes, I have much to learn. Tuppence is trying to be encouraging but not sure she is fully convinced her new rug will be a match for the hideous fleece number currently on the end of the spare bed.

Tuppence not sure about my quilting abilities.

We had a lovely time a few weeks back celebrating my Mother in Laws 80th birthday with a family lunch followed by tea & cake. No pressure making the cake then. I was really pleased with how it came out, a vanilla cake sandwiched with fresh passionfruit curd & passionfruit buttercream, yum. Our passionfruit vine was prolific over summer so I had the pulp in my freezer, I know, very Martha Stewart of me.

I spent a whole weekend sorting & moving my cookbooks onto one big bookcase (which I had to paint first). It was hard yakka but deeply satisfying, I love my little reading nook, and the book covers won’t fade in the corner of the lounge. Such a treat being able to find a recipe book without searching three different bookcases in different parts of the house. And yes, I may well have a few too many cookbooks.

I’m especially pleased as this is a very personal little spot. The couch & chairs came from my husbands parents Bach, I had them recovered . The lamp was also from the Bach, I’m still deciding on a cover for the shade. My sister gave me the wonderful French print on the wall, and made the applique cushion on the couch. I made the cushion on the chair from a tea towel Glenn’s Grandmother brought for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953 . The crochet blanket is from a charity shop. Nothing matched or particularly expensive but it’s comfortable & I love it.

I hope you are staying warm (or cool!) wherever you are, in the meantime I’d like to give a special shout out to the genius that invented heated seats in cars.

Sir or Madam, I salute you!

Kristina xxx

Twin Fielders for my hols…kinda

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More birds. I just cant seem to help myself can I? After my Lenox I thought I’d cured my avian obsession, but hey ho, here we are again. So lets step back a minute, and I’ll explain…

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Bliss 🙂

It was the rib that got me. Merchant & Mills released the most fabulous striped rib, perfect for a Fielder  dress , in such cool colour combos. I do love me some colour. Miss Maude  had all the variations, I couldn’t decide between the brown & the blue to match the Pine linen I’d already realized I absolutely had to have (I’m blaming the Irish in me…also responsible for the fact I sunburn in two minutes & I’m in capable of telling a story in less than ten: )

When my lovely parcel arrived I knew immediately the brown & green were a delicious match, but the blue would actually work perfectly with the birds rayon I picked up on sale at Spotlight. If I love colour, I LOVE a sale!

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Well I think it works anyway!

 

It’s a pretty bold print, and I was worried it could look a bit OTT if I wasn’t careful (not that I mind OTT, but it has to make me feel comfortable or it just doesn’t work) . The simple shape of the Fielder, combined with the casual sporty note the rib brings was too good to resist. I think it works perfectly…and lets be honest, its the closest I’m getting to ‘active wear” hey?

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I love this ribbing. You may call me Sportyish Spice. Or Pale Freckled Spice, as is your wont.

The soft rayon is so comfortable to wear, now I hesitate to even SUGGEST a secret PJ thing, but it’s certainly easy frock to throw on and go. The rib comes as a long strip, I found it too wide & stiff for the neckline as is, so I trimmed about a cm off the side before attaching to the neck, it sits beautifully flat. I left the width on the cuff, which hugs the arm nicely.

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I’m so happy my toes nails are done. Sad, but honestly I am.

I think next time I’d take the bust darts back an inch or so (and be a bit more attentive with the iron maybe?!) I didn’t include the pockets for the green version, I thought it would add a bit of width I didn’t really need, the rayon is so drapey the pockets effectively disappear.

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Not quite perfect rib seam matching…must grow my hair a bit!

The linen gives more structure than the rayon, a slightly more casual dress, prefect for the weekend . I’d like to imagine sitting somewhere fab in the sun, drinking wine with my pals & being terribly funny …more likely zipping around New World then home to drink wine & watch Midsomer Murders with the cats…either way it works.

 

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Flat neckline, get me eh?!

 

Mr D & I are off to Fiji for ten days on hols tomorrow, I have both Fielders in my suitcase (along with 400 pairs of shoes & three swim suits I’d rather not wear…) and I’m looking forward to wearing both. Depending on accessories & shoe choice they are actually also suitable for my office wardrobe, versatile much?

I hope you’ve had a great week, I’ve been like a like a headless chook. How is it when I go on holiday the preparation has to start so far in advance? Hairdresser, nails, shrub maintenance (wax, ugg!) , packing an outfit for every possible eventuality (with matching footwear), not to mention snacks, sunscreen, wine…my husband throws bathers, ten boxer shorts  & tees shirts into a suitcase & calls it a day…?

Anyway, Bula!

Kristina x

 

 

 

It’s a top, no it’s a dress…..

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I actually love this dress. A Fielder pattern from UK firm Merchant & Mills, its super comfy , quick to sew, I think looks fab and the pattern also contains a sweat-shirt style sweater version, nice! So why do I look so miserable?

Yes, that face. In a moment of inspiration I thought I’d recreate the pose of the girl on the Fielder pattern envelope*. I feel like a bit of a plonker standing in my front garden while my husband takes 400 photos of his wife as quickly as possible (including on this occasion a selection with a branch in front of her face…?) complaining the whole time…..so I figure as I’m using exactly the same fabric as the version on the website I’d go full model. No, I hadn’t been drinking…

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Yes, what was I thinking??

Anyway, about the pattern. I had the grade it up, but as the fit is pretty easy I figured it only really mattered for the sleeves. Now I wont pretend I have much experience grading patterns. Actually I have none, so it was a You Tube/Bodge it special, which turned out pretty well I think?

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Scientific….not!

I have previously made a Merchant & Mills Trapeze dress, which has a good amount of ease, so I calculated my size as best I could, and hoped for the best. If you’re a sewing professional please look away now. I literally traced the largest size pattern pieces onto tracing paper, then added the additional cm’s required (divided by two) , grading as I went, and cut out.  I told you it wasn’t scientific.

For the sleeves, always my Waterloo, I turned to the Curvy Sewing Collective, and their excellent sleeve fitting tutorial. I added the extra width nessesary to my traced off sleeve piece , then actually sewed my sleeve seam together, to make sure it fitted. This is the beauty of Swedish tracing paper !

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Hack that sleeve. Literally.

There are many far more correct ways to do this, but until I learn them, I  figure I will do what seems most logical (I’m an Accountant remember) and see if it works. The sleeves on the top version of the pattern, which I made first, are to long, and the ribbing too loose. Ditto both versions around the neckline. I have not used ribbing before, and I cut it far to long. Naturally I only realized this when I had sewed it in….and serged. Sigh…

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Longer & looser sleeves than I wanted

Its still perfectly wearable, and so comfortable, made from a delicious soft double cotton, from my most favorite sewing store here in New Zealand Miss Maude There is a nifty little dart in the shoulder, which works well for rather sloping shoulders like mine, and the ribbing gives shape. I have visions of the pink Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt I had in the 80’s….ok, maybe not.

The dress version is made using a delicious Merchant & Mills laundered linen. I love linen, yes it creases, but I think  that just adds to the appeal, especially in a casual dress like this.I love the swish & feel , and the fact it just gets better with age. I hanker after gorgeous linen sheets.One day Grasshopper, one day……..

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Much better…

The instructions are simple, and clearly written. To be honest , while I love the  industrial, utilitarian style of this brand so much, as a beginner I do prefer clearer , less “hand drawn” illustrations, but they were actually ok for a simple garment like this.

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So, while the size range isn’t as big as it could be, this is a relatively easy dress to grade , and the results, a cool casual top/dress that works for so many situations,  is worth the effort.

What do you think? What’s your go to dress?

Kristina x