Frocktails Flora

Sew Social NZ arranged the first ever Frocktails Wellington at the end of June. I had to have a new dress! OK, so I cheated slightly, I was invited to a conference dinner back at the beginning of May with a theme of “Dress to Impress”, so I had to make something new for that! It was conveniently the perfect outfit for Frocktails 🙂 I ended up wearing it with my Muse Tahi shrug I made ages ago. It’s my go to cover up for occasions and looks great with this dress.

We’ve not long moved house and I really needed something relatively simple to make up, which wouldn’t tax my poor brain too much, or take up too much sewing time when Mr N was expecting me to unpack boxes! I found the fabric first, then decided on the pattern (as you do!) By Hand London Flora was the perfect choice. A pattern I’ve had for a while (it’s a printed version), but never made up! The fabric came from Whanganui where I had gone conveniently for work. 🙂

I did make up a quick muslin of the bodice. I often do this for patterns I’ve never made up. Skirts can fit, but bodices often require a bit more work. As usual, I needed to lower the darts and also lengthen the bodice. I also made some other changes, I lowered the front neckline and lengthened the straps. I also raised the armscye, since this sat very low. The skirt was also going to be too short if I’d have kept it the length of the pattern.

The pattern asks for 60″ (150cm) wide fabric only. That’s not going to happen with silk taffeta, which meant I had to put a centre seam down the front of the skirt. To be honest, I don’t think it looks bad with that seam.

I lined the bodice with this purple lining from stash. This taffeta is an orange shot with purple, so it’s a perfect match 🙂 I wasn’t going to ruin the seam finishes with my overlocker, so I used this purple hug snug to give a Hong Kong finish to the seams. The hem is not deep, and I also used the hug snug to hem the skirt too, which I did by hand. Yes, I hemmed this skirt by hand, it took forever, but gives a beautiful finish. I love the way the hug snug shows when I’m wearing it.

I inserted an invisible zip, even though I hate them. It’s not perfect, but OK. I also added a hook and eye at the top of the zip to make sure the back of the neck had a proper closure.

The deets
Fabric:  Orange silk taffeta shot with purple from Philp-Wright’s in Whanganui. Purple lining from stash.
 Thread, invisible zip, purple hug snug, oh and the By Hand London and Me label which came with the pattern. Yes, in the days they sold print patterns these labels came with them.
By Hand London Flora dress, variation 2 with a square neck and high-low hemmed skirt, size 17. The 17 doesn’t exist, but I made up between a 16 and 18.
Changes made:  
Lots! Lowered the front neckline by 1.25″, lengthened the straps by 1″, raised the armscye by 5/8″, moved the front darts 1″ to the centre and lowered by 1.5″, lengthened the bodice by 1″, graded the skirt from the 16 to a size 10 at the bottom to account for the narrow width fabric, lengthened the front skirt by 3″ and lengthened the back skirt by 2″. Phew! I think that’s it! I could have cut a smaller size in the waist after all that, but I think I’ve done enough!

Another one/recommendations:  I really love this pattern. I don’t know why I’ve left it so long to make up. It’s not a difficult pattern to make, the changes were the most difficult part! It’s simple and the instructions are very clear anyway.

The skirt is a great shape and works really well with this fabric. I’m very tempted to make up another. I have some sateen in stash which is going to work like a dream for this pattern. There’s definitely another Flora dress in my future. I don’t have many things with a square neck and I’m actually really liking how it looks.

This skirt is perfect for twirling 🙂 And to end a photo from the Frocktails evening.






Papercut Aomori Twists

So many things I need to blog and photograph if I’m going to have a record on here of my makes! Oh well, one step at a time!

My love affair with Papercut Patterns continues. I bought the Aomori Twist Top when the Sakura Collection was released last year. This pattern was calling to me.

I’ve now made two of these and they both get so much wear. The oversize look may not be perfect for my shape, but I love these tops. The first one I made was in a rust coloured merino from stash. I made this in January before we headed off to the UK and Tokyo. The second one I made from the pink merino knit (also from stash) about a month ago.

The first version I cut my standard halfway between M and L for Papercut. It was so big! The sleeves were about two inches too long as well (the depth of the cuff). I ended up taking in the sleeves and the side seams by around an inch and a half (~4 cm).

The second version I sized down. The fit is generally better, but this fabric is very loosely woven and has still come up big! I ended up taking in this version at the waist to give it a bit more definition. The sleeves I also shortened by the depth of the cuff.

From the photos on the website, I think the sleeves are meant to be long and big around the wrist. I’m not a fan of this and so I made changes. The rust coloured cuffs were really big, so I decided I’d pleat the bottom of the sleeve into the cuff, so that the cuff was small enough for me. The second version, I decided to grade in the sleeves and then stretch the cuff slightly to fit.

For both versions I attached cotton tape to the shoulder seams. I do this with all knit items. I’ve tried clear elastic but it just didn’t work. With the pink version I also added tape to the back of the neck, although you can’t see this since it’s enclosed in the binding.

Don’t look at the binding on the inside. It’s a mess on both versions! I had a nightmare making it neat and tidy on both, so it looks fine on the outside, it’s the inside which looks a mess!

The deets
Fabric:  Rust coloured merino from stash, not sure how long it’s been there and I don’t know where it came from! Pink merino also from stash. If memory serves me right on this one, I think it came from Levana some time ago. 
 Thread and tape for the shoulder seams.
Papercut Patterns Aomori Twist top, size M/L for one and S/M for the other.
Changes made:  
Shortened the sleeves by the cuff length – around 4-5 cm. Took in the side seams and sleeve seams. Pleated the sleeve into the cuff on one version to fit cuff around wrist.

Recommendation/Make again:  These two jumpers are in permanent rotation. I love them. They are not fitted and don’t show my curves off, but I’m loving this pattern. It’s easy to wear and easy to put together. I’m tempted to try a sleeveless version for the summer in a woven fabric. This pattern will work really well in a woven with drape. I might even be able to get the binding neater! 🙂

Driftless cardigan

When we headed to the UK and Japan in January, I felt the need for a warm cardigan with pockets. Enter the Grainline Driftless cardigan.

It was fellow WSBN member Kirsten who has made a number of these and convinced me that I needed one in my wardrobe. I bought the pattern and then went to shop my stash to find suitable fabric.

This pink rib knit, I think came from Levana some time ago. It is quite a bright pink, but I love it. Kirsten gave me some tips on sizing and I’m glad I took note. Those sleeves are really quite fitted and if you’re wanting to layer up, I’d recommend cutting them larger so there’s room for another layer underneath.

This is view A with the straight hem across the bottom. I have to say, this was not a difficult make. The only thing I initially got a bit confused with was the pocket, but mainly because I just looked at the picture rather than read the text!

I was very careful with this fabric which was great to sew with, but I still managed to stretch the back waist seam slightly and so that’s quite obvious in this fabric. I possibly tried too hard trying to match the rib knit too! This fabric has a reasonable stretch in one direction, it has very little in the other.

It’s a while since I made this up, but I don’t remember anything strange or odd about this pattern. The instructions as always for Grainline patterns were clear and easy to follow. I didn’t even deviate – wonders will never cease! The only think I decided against was adding the buttons and buttonholes. To be honest, I don’t think I would need them and so left them off – it’s not been an issue so far!

I have two main gripes with Grainline patterns. They are all completely in Imperial measurements. I work with both, but there are so many countries now which are completely metric, both measurements really need to be included now. Secondly, the seam allowance. Their print patterns are all 1/2″, their knit patterns are all 1/4″. Why, why are they an 1/8″ less than the rest of the pattern making community?

The deets
Fabric:  Bright pink wide rib knit from Levana (I think). It’s been in my stash for 2-3 years. 
 Thread and tape for the shoulder seams.
Grainline Driftless cardigan, view A, size 10, but size 12+ for the sleeves.
Changes made:  
I didn’t add the buttons. I also made the sleeves bigger and shortened them by around 2 inches. These are pretty fitted long sleeves.

Recommendation/Make again:  I like this cardigan. I have some great fabric in stash which would make another, that’s if I have enough of it! This needs over 2m of 115cm wide. There’s also a lot of pattern pieces! It was pretty easy to put together. My fabric didn’t want to press really and so my pockets don’t sit well. There’s a nice video tutorial for the thread loops for the pockets, which I’d recommend making so the pockets don’t flap around. But pockets! Have I mentioned this cardigan has pockets!

I like the longline slouchiness of this, but the sleeves are still long and so I try to push them up which means I don’t find it as comfy as I might. I think I’m going to have to shorten those sleeves so at least they are more comfortable length-wise.

I carried a watermelon…

For years I wanted to be Frances (Baby) Houseman,and now I can! [With thanks to a good friend who edited this photo to give me a watermelon!] (I’m sure it wasn’t just the chance to be close to Patrick Swayze.)  🙂

A dress made for the last few days of summer. It’s mid-March and the summer won’t last that much longer, but hey, I reckon this will work with a cardigan and tights to brighten up those winter days!

I got this fabric from Spotlight in Nelson back in February when I had a work trip across to the top of South Island. I went in to have a look out of curiosity. (Well these stores are never the same and have different stuff in them, so it had to be done!) By the time I’d flown home that evening, I’d decided exactly which pattern to make with it.

I first made Vogue 1353, a Kay Unger pattern back in 2014. It felt time to dig the pattern out of storage and give it another go.

I lowered the bust dart on the Princess seam as before. I thought I’d lengthened the bodice, but it still felt short, so I added in a waistband. The waist line is meant to be above the waist and I am long in the waist anyway, so as well as lengthening the bodice by around half inch, I added a waistband which is 1.5 inches wide, since I’m not keen on high waists on me. The skirt pleats are meant to be stitched down, I haven’t done this, but I think the waistband addition actually helps to lengthen the waist and means those pleats don’t need to be stitched down.

The lining is a bright pink cotton voile which I’ve had in stash for some time. I actually used it to line this dress (strangely that fabric has been in stash since 2014!) I lowered the bust darts again and also added a waist band to the lining.

I changed the hem from the pattern. Last time I did as the pattern said, by cutting the hem facing and hand stitched it using embroidery thread. This time, I deliberately cut the skirt longer and finished it using the method Mum taught me when I learned to sew – a deep hand stitched hem. So simple, but adds weight to hems so they can hang beautifully.

I added pockets into the side seams and the other change I made was to change the invisible zipper to a lapped zip. One, I hate inserting invisible zips and secondly, I didn’t have one in stash. Anyway, I quite like this bright pink zip!

The deets
Fabric:  Watermelon printed poly-cotton from Spotlight in Nelson, bought February 2018, pink cotton voile from the Fabric Warehouse in 2014.
 Thread, zip and some interfacing for the front neckline.
Vogue 1353 Kay Unger design, size 16
Changes made:  
Lengthened the bodice, lowered the bust darts, added a waistband, changed to a lapped zipper, changed hem to remove facing and lengthened skirt for a standard hand stitched hem. Added in seam pockets in the skirt. Oh and didn’t add the thread loops for the belt. Phew! I think that’s all.

Another one/recommendations:  
I do love this pattern. I think I actually prefer this second version to my first one. I prefer the fit with the waistband. I love pleats so much more than gathers and the pleats around the neck add to the fit of this pattern.

As with the first time I made this, I will add that the pattern is described as easy. Well yes, it may be if you are a competent sewer and have a few years of practice under your belt. I find this dress easy, but I’ve been sewing for nearly 30 years! If you are a beginner, I think it will be possible to make, but you may need some guidance and take your time. There are a lot of trips for young players and with all the pleats, darts, etc, it’s not what I’d describe as easy. Looking at the ratings on the BMV site, I would suggest this is classed as Average, but with another rating between Average and Advanced. That’s my two penneth worth anyway.

Muse Natalie and Lady Skater

These two dresses are remakes of previous patterns.

Muse Natalie

I love my other Natalie dress and really wanted to make another since the pale grey one is worn loads during the cooler months.

This fabric came from Levana and was a complete and utter nightmare to cut on the grain. It was seriously off grain and twisted throughout. I had to cut everything on a single layer, rather than on the fold or two sleeves at once. Consequently I did wonder if this would be a disaster, but it has actually worked out well and gets as much wear as the grey version.

The details
Fabric:  Pale green-blue polyester knit from Levana, Levin, I think bought at the end of 2016.
Notions:  Thread, interfacing and some cotton tape to stabilise the shoulders.
Pattern:  Muse Patterns Natalie dress, size 38
Changes made:  None

Another one/recommendations:  I would recommend this as a quick comfy make. The style lines are great, and makes it that little bit different. I made this one nearly a year ago and that I makes two which are both in constant wear.

Lady Skater

Another secret pyjama dress! This is my third lady skater. Actually I’ve noticed that the second was never blogged. Mm, OK, I’ll add that in here too!

The second was made straight after finishing my first I loved it that much. I made this second one from a plain black merino which came from Levana. I made a couple of changes from the first one, I raised the back neckline by about half inch and again raised the front by around an inch. It meant I needed to shorten the neck binding. Fortunately that worked really easily.

I also shortened the bodice again by around half inch. I only lengthened the skirt by around an inch. The other change was to remove the cuffs and finish the sleeves with a plain hem and double needle.

The third version I just wanted to make something quick and easy for instant gratification and when I didn’t have much time available. I’d gone to the Fabric Warehouse to buy fabric specifically with something in mind and saw this beautiful blossom print. I thought initially it was a woven chambray, but it was a beautiful terry knit! It didn’t take a lot of umming and ahhing for me to decide I needed this fabric and I knew exactly what to make up. I bought way too much, but have plans for this…

So for this version I decided with the summery fabric to make it with short sleeves. The neckline is the same as the black version, so the back raised by half inch and the front by an inch. Looking at it I could have shortened the bodice by a bit more. I think this knit is weighing it down, but hey, I’m not intending to change it now!

The deets
Fabric:  Pale blue terry knit with blossom from the Fabric Warehouse and black merino from Levana.
Notions:  Thread, tape for shoulders and clear elastic for waist.
Pattern:  Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress, size 6 with short sleeves for the blue version and 3/4 sleeves for the black version
Changes made:  Raised the front neckline by an inch, raised the back neckline by half inch, shortened the bodice by 1/2 inch and lengthened the skirt by about 1.5 inches.

Recommendations:  I love this dress so much. both the blue and the black merino one have had so much wear. They are easy to style and easy to wear. The blue blossom version has been worn for evenings out too. I don’t follow the instructions at all. There are two sets, some for those who require lots of help and those who think they know it all, but may need some guidance. Of course, then there are the daft people like me who just go it alone! 🙂 #iliketosewdangerously

Designer Stitch Synthia

I’ve made a thing and a beautiful thing! This pattern by Designer Stitch was released while I was on holiday in February. I saw all these stunning photos on Instagram and saved it to remember to buy it! I could have bought it then, but left it until I got home. I think it was about two weeks after release when finally I clicked buy!

It still took me a while to actually print and get this cut out and made – so much going on! I was so excited I printed the whole thing out (48 pages) before realising I could have left off printing some pages as well as using layers to remove sizes if I’d have read the pattern first and decided on a size!

Next to decide on the size. This pattern has so many measurements to check the fit is correct, bust size, bust depth, bust separation, hips, etc. It is drafted for different cup sizes, from a B to DD cup. Now, my girls are no way a B cup, but the difference between my high and full bust is just under 2 inches. I decided to go with the size 5 and a C cup. My full bust is 42″. I then graded out the hips to a size 6.

I only made a couple of changes. I shifted the bust dart down by half inch and also removed the zip from the back and changed it to a small button and loop at the top. This fabric is a fine crepe and no way was I battling with a zip, so I tried it on and decided I could get away with a button and loop. I stitched the back seam to the bottom of the ruffle and then finished the edges and added a button and loop at the neck on the back. I’m happy with this choice and really love how it turned out.

I haven’t a clue where this fabric came from. I honestly can’t remember, and it’s not even been in my stash for long! However, it frayed like anything! So, the side seams are French seamed. Due to the way I decided to do the back, I used my overlocker to finish the seams ( I guess I could have just folded over the raw edge and stitched them). I didn’t even use my rolled hem foot for the ruffle, I stitched a 1/2″ hem close to the fold, trimmed it, and folded over stitching on the same line. It gives a great finish and works on curves really well, which I find difficult with the rolled hem foot.

This was my first Designer Stitch pattern, but I was very happy with the pattern, both the drafting and the instructions. When I first read the instructions to attach the ruffle I was confused, but a second read along with the images, it all made sense.

Apart from the ruffle, I had no problems with the instructions at all, my only problem was I’d had five weeks of no sewing and decided to make this top with rolled hems and from a fine crepe! And from that you’re waiting for me to say I had to unpick this seam and this because it went wrong, I hate to say it, but I took my time and I had no problems and I’m now in love with my new top. Ha!

The details
Fabric:  Black crepe with burgundy spots, I haven’t a clue where from though!
Notions:  Thread and a button for the neck
Pattern:  Designer Stitch Synthia Ruffled top, size 5, C cup, grading to a 6 at the hips.
Changes made:  Shifted the darts down half inch and changed the zip to a button on the back.
Another one/recommendations:  Oh my, I love this top. The neckline with the ruffles I love. I was concerned they might be OTT, but with this fabric choice they are perfect. I’m also really happy with the fit overall and I honestly think I could make this again without any further changes. I love how the back turned out with the button rather than the zip, although if I made it again, I might just cut the back on the fold, since I can get it over my head and on really easily.

Hang on, did I just say, if I make another one? Mm, I think with all my gushing, it’s pretty certain I will make another one. Not sure when just yet, I have a busy few weeks coming up, but something tried and true might be just what I need and I have some perfect fabric in stash waiting to be made up!


Katy and Laney meets Colette

Last year I was in desperate need of some more shorts plus a tank top. We didn’t get much of a summer, but there was enough to create a need, so I went diving in my pattern and fabric stash.

Katy and Laney Tap Shorts

My first pair were such a success I decided to use the pattern again. I made front view A with back view 2 as previously. I love that piped trim and pockets are always useful! I lengthened them by an inch and also let out the waist by about half inch. I’ve put on a wee bit of weight since I made the first pair and the original waist is a bit tight.

The fabric is a blue viscose which as been in my stash since forever. I honestly cannot remember when and where I got it! I didn’t use piping, but just some left over fabric to make a bias strip. It’s actually fabric left over from the first version of this blouse. I didn’t add any trim to the waistband, I rarely if ever wear anything tucked in so it seemed a pointless exercise.

I used some checked cotton which I’d found in Mum’s stash when she died to make the welt pockets on the back. I also added an in seam pocket to the right seam. (A girl can never have enough pockets!) The left seam has an invisible zip. I finished the hems using purple hug snug. Lots of colours! 🙂

The details
Fabric:  Blue viscose from stash, pale blue check from Mum’s stash for the pockets and a floral fabric for the bias strips
Notions:  Thread, interfacing, hug snug and an invisible zip
Pattern:  Katy & Laney Tap Shorts, front view A, back view 2, size 12.
Changes made:  Lengthened them by an inch and added half inch to the waist
Another one/recommendations:  This is a great shorts pattern. The instructions for the welt pockets are really clear and easy to follow. I have to say I didn’t really follow the other instructions. I have worn these so much this summer, particularly when I go for a walk in the bush and hills near home.

Colette Sorbetto

I first made the Sorbetto years ago when it was first launched, I think it was the first ever Indie pattern I made and was a muslin. The fit wasn’t great and it was a bit short and I went off the fabric. It didn’t get worn much, then I decided I liked it again and it got worn more. The pattern was re-released last March. I decided to use the pattern I had already and alter it to my liking, rather than download the new version.

I lowered the bust darts, lengthened it and added darts to the back to add some more shape. As you can tell I also removed the front pleat. I guess it’s basically unrecognisable as a Sorbetto, but I’m happy with it.

The fabric is a cotton which I think was either a remnant or I got from Fabric-a-Brac. It was great to sew with. The fabric of dreams basically. I made the bias binding from the same fabric.

The details
Fabric:  A cream with brown flowers from stash
Notions:  Thread.
Pattern:  Colette Sorbetto, the original pattern from 2011, size 12
Changes made:  Lowered the bust darts, removed the front pleat, lengthened the top and added darts to the back.
Another one/recommendations:  If you want a quick tank top and free pattern you could do a lot worse. This is easy and quick to put together. The fit is a little boxy, but nothing that can’t be fixed from adding darts in the back. I don’t know how the new version shapes up, but certainly the darts for me are way too high in the original. And why haven’t I downloaded the updated version? I’m lazy and saving on paper! 🙂

These photos? They were taken a couple of weeks ago on the hill behind our house. Te Ahumairangi Hill. It was very hot and sunny and hard work to walk up there! 🙂