True Bias Southport dress

This was another last minute make for our holiday. Strangely I only have one maxi dress (a BHL Anna) and the need for another was calling me.

This is the Southport Dress from True Bias. I was a bit skeptical at first. I thought the tie in the middle would make me look like a sack of potatoes tied up. I’m not a big fan of blousy things, so there was a quick discussion with the girls first.

The fabric is a border print which came from Fabric Vision in Christchurch. It’s a really fine cotton with a beautiful drape and is so soft. It took a bit of cogitating and ruminating to decide how I might lay out the fabric.


As always when making something new, I searched around to find reviews. What did we do before this? Oh and there’s a few of these around – be warned! I made a number of changes following the reviews. I raised the front neckline by around an inch, I also raised the underarm by around an inch and then trimmed it back by around ⅜”. I lengthened the bodice by around 1.5 inches and shortened the skirt by the same amount. I omitted the buttonholes and stitched the buttons through both plackets. There’s no need for those buttons to open! The buttons are from stash. I rarely need green buttons, so was definitely happy to find these. Oh and note I pattern matched on the front button placket! 🙂

I also removed the drawstring waist, added a casing to the inside and inserted elastic. So much more comfortable and I can add a belt that way if I want to. I shifted it to the inside mainly because an additional casing on the front with this already busy print didn’t look good.

The final change I made was to move the front slit to the side seams, so that I could cut the front skirt on the fold and eliminate that centre front seam. I actually prefer these two side splits. It was this version by Jenny which convinced me this was the way forward.

The deets
Fabric:  A border print cotton voile from Fabric Vision in Christchurch
Notions:  Thread, buttons, interfacing and elastic
Pattern:  True Bias Southport dress, size 14
Changes made:  Lots! Raised the front neckline, shortened the armscye to make the underarm higher, lengthened the bodice, shortened the skirt, omitted the button holes, moved the waist casing to the inside and inserted elastic, shifted the front slit to the side seams and cut the front skirt on the fold.

Another one/Recommendations:  Definitely recommended, but with some reservations. I would check the following before making up: the armscye, the front neckline, the bodice length and skirt length. I often have to lengthen the waist, but this I lengthened considerably. I’m also 5’6” and the skirt was way too long for me!

Saying all that, I love this dress. I lived in it while we were away. So comfy with the elasticated waist, I felt so girly and even dressed up in it. I think this is going to get a lot of wear when our summer comes. Thinks, what can I make another in? Not sure yet whether to make another maxi or the shorter version. Oh and it has pockets – big pockets! 🙂

These photos were taken at our hotel in Fiji. There was a bridge to some fancy overwater bures (no we didn’t stay in one!)


Simplicity 2176 – Ohia Lehua

Summer is coming and I’m prepared. 🙂 In all honesty, we’ve just got back from a holiday in Fiji and I wanted a sundress (my previous version being a wee bit tight currently).

This is Simplicity 2176 which I first made a couple of years ago. I love this pattern, such a simple pattern which is easy to wear. This second version is around half inch bigger in the waist and hips, since I’ve put on a bit of weight (oops). This is a Project Runway pattern which now seems to be out of print (or unavailable on the Simplicity site). The front bodice has princess seams. There are a couple of different options, for an overlay at the top of the bodice and also for a halterneck.

The fabric I bought from Fabric Mart in Honolulu, Hawai’i a couple of years ago. When I bought it, I knew then I wanted to make this pattern up. The border print runs along both selvedges, so I used one and a half lengths for the skirt and used the remainder to cut the bodice and straps. The flower is actually a Ohia Lehua, a hardy plant appearing in many Hawai’ian legends. It reminded me of our Pohutukawa trees, sometimes known as a New Zealand Christmas tree.

The drafted skirt is actually curved which wasn’t going to work with this border print, so I just cut it straight and decided to pleat it. I considered a dirndl, but I’m not really a fan of gathers and went for the pleats, which took ages since I had to work them out having deviated from the pattern. There is an inverted pleat at the centre front and the centre back. The pleats then go out to the side seams.

I lined the whole dress. The pattern is actually unlined, but I prefer it lined. The bodice is lined with the plain green shell fabric, the skirt is lined with a white cotton voile. I love cotton voile as lining, particularly for summer clothes. It’s that much lighter and softer.

I deviated from the pattern by attaching the straps at the back first and then the front to get the length correct. They are not great at the back, I don’t think I put them at the right angle, but I can’t see them when I’m wearing it!

The other thing I did was to add in seam pockets to the side seams because pockets! 🙂

The deets
Fabric:  Green poly cotton border print from Fabric Mart in Hawai’i and a white cotton voile for the skirt lining, which I think came from Evans in Masterton.
 Thread, an invisible zip and some interfacing for the top of the bodice
Simplicity 2176 Project Runway sun dress, size 16
Changes made:  
Lengthened the bodice by around 3/4″, added pockets to the side seams, changed the skirt from the pattern to basic pleated rectangles and lined the whole dress. I think I changed the princess seam on the front slightly to fit my bust better, but can’t remember exactly what I did! I also hemmed the skirt by hand. I love a handsewn hem, when I learned to sew, Mum always taught me to hem everything by hand. They take time, particularly when this full, but it means I can have a deep hem and add weight to the skirt. I was tempted with leaving the selvedge, so pretty with the style number, but it was too long really.

Another one/recommendations:  I recommend this pattern completely. It’s a relatively quick and easy pattern to make up. It’s also easy to fit if you need to make any changes. The dress is easy to wear and looks great on and I feel great in it too!

These photos were taken on holiday in Fiji at our hotel. I reckon my Muse Tahi shrug works well to keep the chill off my shoulders 🙂 Only wishing I had my red heels with me too!

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