Kingfisher tunic

It’s taken ages to get photos of this tunic.

I actually made it last December before we went off to the UK. It was for travel and I’ve worn it a lot since. The pattern is actually from the UK magazine Prima. I have a lot of Prima patterns which I collected in the UK and quite like them. I’ve made quite a few Prima designs over the years and am used to their instructions and drafting.

The fabric came from Spotlight, but can’t remember rightly when I bought it. The bright pink fine cotton with the kingfishers told me I had to buy it!

This tunic shape is very simple, but has short sleeves and I like the pleated neckline. It also has darts in the back to give some more shape.

The pattern was not difficult and I made it up really quickly. I think it was finished in one afternoon! I have to admit, I have very little to say, simply because it was a quick and easy make, I found the instructions clear and easy to follow, not that I used them much! All seams are finished on my overlocker and the hems are just finished on the machine.

The drafting is great, I made a size 16 with no changes. The sleeves are a wee bit tighter than I’d ideally like, but I don’t really notice it when I’m wearing it.

The deets
Fabric:  Bright pink cotton lawn with kingfishers from Spotlight
Notions:  Thread
Pattern:  Prima magazine pattern from May 2010, size 16
Changes made:  None!

Another one/recommendations:  I’m happy with my tunic. I would recommend Prima patterns. This was a quick make and one that’s been a great addition to my wardrobe. It was perfect for the travel with leggings and this top underneath for layering. I think the dress version would be great made up in a soft stable knit and a belt, or combine it somehow with a lady skater skirt. Mm, thinks, what’s in my stash!




The Aurora Australis dress

I dream of seeing either of the auroras and although sometimes the Southern Lights can be seen from here in Wellington, they are difficult to view with the naked eye and so I will make do with this dress.

The pattern is Vogue 1499, an Anne Klein design. It’s described as a cap sleeve dress with a full pleated skirt, with some pieces cut on the cross-wise grain. I decided with this fabric I couldn’t cut it on the cross-wise and so those pieces I cut on the grain. The side pieces are still on the bias to show the design.

The fabric is a cotton from Made Marion Craft here in Wellington. It was a wee bit narrow for the front skirt pieces, but I managed to piece the skirt corners so it’s not really visible. Check out this, I am the master of pattern matching!

I had to make some changes to the bodice. I thought they would be easy to deal with but actually caused a fair amount of frustration! There is a small bust dart on the seam down the side fronts. This dart I needed to lower. Then it was too big around the waist and had to take it in at the waist. I’d already graded in at the waist, but it still needed taking in, it also needed lengthening. Then obviously this meant the skirt pleats needed a bit of adjustment.

The skirt doesn’t have pockets, so I used my in seam pocket pattern piece which I use for such occasions! I now has pockets!

I umm-ed and ahh-ed whether to line the dress. I rarely bother when it’s a beautiful cotton like this, but I had this fine cotton voile (bought sometime in the dim and distant past) in my stash, it’s perfect for lining this. I still need a slip in the winter, cotton clings to tights! The pattern instructions state to line the sleeves, then attach them to the shell of the bodice. The bodice lining then has to be slip stitched at the armhole. I think if the sleeves are left unlined and attached to the shell/lining, then it would be possible to stitch the whole thing and turn it the right way. It was too late for me to try this. Fortunately I don’t mind hand sewing…

The pattern also asks for an invisible zipper. I didn’t have one in stash, so I’ve inserted a lapped zip and added a hook and eye at the top.

The deets
Fabric:  Shell – cotton from Made Marion Craft, Dec 2016; Lining – cotton voile from stash 🙂
Notions:  Thread, dress zip and hook and eye, and tape for the neckline.
Pattern:  Vogue 1499, an Anne Klein design, size 18 for bust, graded to 14/16 at the waist
Changes made:  Lowered the darts, took in the waist more, added pockets, used a lapped zip and lengthened the skirt by about an inch. I also added tape to the neckline since it gaped somewhat (not really a change, but…)

Another one/recommendations:  It’s actually a really nice pattern. I love this dress and it’s going to get a lot of wear. The fabric means that it doesn’t look out of place in the winter with tights and boots. It’s actually a relatively quick make, it’s just because I made changes with the bodice that my make took more time. I would definitely recommend adding pockets, why would you not? They certainly don’t take a lot to put in and this pattern can take them. I need to add a waist stay now, that . Those side panels are not quite on the bias, but enough to mean they stretch and make that waistline bigger. Mine has already stretched after a couple of wears.

Sandra took these photos at Waiterere Beach, about an hour and a half north of Wellington, just this last weekend. It’s winter, but the sun was shining and it was beautiful out, but that sea was cold!! Brr!

As an aside, the cardigan is another Liola Patterns Molly Cardigan. Black cardigans are so useful and I love my brown version, so decided to make another using some merino which was in my stash. I made this black version exactly like the brown one here, so cutting a size XL and shortening the sleeves by about an inch and a half. I certainly love this cardigan and the shape. I wonder if I should make some more? 😉





Linen Quart Coat

I’m so original with my titles! This coat is the first proper coat I’ve made and was a labour of love, but I’m really happy with the finished item. I have so many photos, this could be picture heavy…

So if you haven’t realised and you haven’t been following my Instagram feed with lots of photos, this is the Pauline Alice Quart Coat, a pattern I purchased as soon as it was released I loved it that much. It’s just taken a wee while to make it up. The coat has princess seams, pleats at the bottom of the side panels and a zipper fastening for the sleeves. So much to take your interest.

I finally found some fabric I was happy with to make this coat around 18 months ago. At the same time I got the pattern pieces ready and put together a muslin. That was where it ended up going in the too hard bracket and sat in the naughty corner for about 12 months!. The front armscye seemed so big, it was sticking out and really looked odd. So much excess fabric.

I finally started in earnest to fix it back in March this year. I took in the armscye and then had to make alterations to the princess seam. I ended up having to do a lazy FBA – I just extended the bust seam rather than use a slash and spread method.

After about three iterations of the front bodice and armscye, I finally felt happy to cut into my precious linen (after deciding which way round I wanted the fabric). I’d also finally bought some lining by this time too!

Next job – to apply interfacing to so many pieces, the sleeve heads, the hems, the whole front pieces, etc, etc. I recommend you do this to ensure it keeps shape when making up and wearing.

You’d have thought that once I’d got the fit sorted, all would be plain sailing. Nope! I think I must have unpicked and re-sewn nearly every seam on this coat. It took forever! So much unpicking! Even though I’d made so many muslins I still ended up making changes to the fit.

The pleats all say to face to the back in the instructions, this is fine until it gets to the lining. The instructions say to face the back, just like the shell, but this is not going to work if you’re going to attach the pleats to the shell. They need to be opposite. More unpicking. Plus also the pleats for the lining were too long, perhaps I didn’t cut the lining version shorter. Even so, they look longer on the Pauline Alice site than on my version.

The pattern also says to bag as little as possible, namely the fronts and including the neck, hand stitching the pleats and back. I decided to bag more having checked out Sewmanju‘s blog (who did the same), ie including the pleats and some of the back, leaving just a small amount to catch-stitch. The sleeve linings are catch-stitched to the sleeves.

This coat has both shoulder pads and sleeve heads. The latter stops the top of the sleeve collapsing below the shoulder pad. Sleeve heads were a new thing for me, so thankfully on Uncle Google and in a book in my own sewing library I found suggestions to make these using thick felt.

Somehow my lining wasn’t as big as it should have been and I didn’t have enough around to create the pleats at the neck, waist and hem. I don’t notice it.

I also had to shorten the sleeves, so adding the zip to the sleeves I had to adjust this too. I ended up misunderstanding how to add the lining bit for this and ended up unpicking – again! However, you can’t see that, the zip placement looks perfect with no problems!

Even though the coat is lined, all the seams are finished with my overlocker to keep it even eater inside.

The details
Fabric:  Shell – linen from The Fabric Store, Dec 2015?; Lining – polyester from The Fabric Warehouse, Mar 2017
Notions:  Thread (lots), interfacing, felt wadding, shoulder pads, antique brass zips (from The Fabric Warehouse), antique brass buttons (from Made Marion Craft), brown ribbon for a coat hook.
Pattern:  Pauline Alice Quart Coat, size 44
Changes made:  cheats FBA, took in the front armscye, shortened the sleeves.

Another one/recommendations:  Phew! Well after that, I love this coat and would recommend it as a coat pattern which stands out from the crowd, it has some great features such as the pleats, etc, I’m just not sure if I’m up to making another! Well not yet anyway but I do want to make another coat… My linen was possibly easier in some ways to make this, it pressed well well and it also meant seams were not too thick. I think using a wool it would be quite a different experience. My coat seems to have ended up bigger than my muslin making it look big, but hey, there’s room for layers underneath!

It was cold when Mel took these and I was glad for my coat and layers. She had a sleeveless dress needing photos!









Stripy Toaster

Photos in the winter – yeah, nah! Stay inside in the warm in a toasty sweater – much better, unless you have a Toaster Sweater that is…

I actually made this sweater last December before we went trekking off to the UK for a family wedding. Being winter in the UK, I needed warm clothes which would pack up small in the suitcase. Cue this boiled wool from The Fabric Store. The colours just jumped out at me, perfect for cheering you up on a winter’s day. Not quite so fun sewing during the summer, but hey, needs must!

This is a new pattern for me, which was sent through to me last July time when I offered to pattern test for Sew House Seven. Unfortunately I never got to make it up quickly and have only just got photos, so I’ve been a very bad possible tester. I’m sorry all, and especially Peggy at Sew House Seven.

I made up version 2 with the slash neck and standard set in sleeves. The boiled wool was so nice to cut and sew, it’s really stable as knits go and matching the seams was a complete doddle.

I spent time deciding whether to have the purple by my face or black. In discussion with some WSBN friends, we decided on the purple. Going by the finished measurements, I actually cut a Large. As lovely as the boiled wool is, I found that I needed to straighten the sides since the fabric just stuck out too much for my liking. So I took in the hips by around an inch on each side.

I also shortened the sleeves. This is a standard adjustment for me, I have short arms!

I stitched most of the seams using my overlocker, but finished the hem using the double needle on my machine. Check out these corners with my double needle. I stitch to the inside corner, then lift the needle. Pull both the needle and bobbin threads to give enough to thread through to the back, then place the fabric down under the foot, so that the inside needle goes down where you finished. I snip the the threads in the middle and then take them through to the back and finish them off on the wrong side. Hopefully the photos below will help!

This was the second Sew House Seven pattern I’ve made up and the instructions didn’t disappoint again. They were clear, made different suggestions to how things might be sewn, had clear images as well as a great glossary. I admit this pattern is not difficult, but I think anyone can make this up since the instructions are so clear and easy to follow.

As you can probably guess from my photos, I love this sweater. I’m actually really wanting to make another, but haven’t found the ideal fabric yet.

The details
Fabric:  Striped boiled wool from The Fabric Store, November 2016.
Notions:  Thread.
Pattern:  Sew House Seven Toaster sweater, version 2, size L
Changes made:  Straightened the sides down and shortened the sleeves by about 2 inches!
Another one/recommendations:  I would definitely recommend this one. I’m really wanting to make another up and will possibly lengthen it a bit more and keep those sides straightened.

I’ve realised this is a bit of a Sew House Seven outfit, I’m wearing my denim Alberta skirt with this jumper! 🙂 It was a chilly day when Mel took these photos for me in town. I was grateful for my toasty sweater! She had a sleeveless dress needing photos!



Rose scout and circular tahi

I have so many things to blog about. I’ve been sewing up a storm, but not taking the time to photograph or blog. Yes, I could leave them unblogged, but I find it really helpful to make a record of my makes and where best but on here – one of the prime reasons for this site…

This time, more wardrobe staples: a Muse Tahi skirt and a Grainline Scout tee. Made last year and photographed in November just after the Kaikoura earthquake. Some of us met up in town and had tea and cakes at Louis Sargent where they make the most amazing cakes…

Muse Tahi Skirt

This is my third Tahi skirt. The others here and here. Consequently the pattern needs little description.

I always said I wanted to make a long floaty version, so this a long flared version (not a maxi length) using this black patterned fabric I think from The Fabric Warehouse. It’s not floating, this was quite a stiff fabric until I washed it. The big black circles are felted. It’s slightly see-through and so I lined the skirt with a grey polyester lining. The lining is cut to the straight A-line version.

I made no changes to the pattern at all. The feature piece is cut 90 degrees to the grain. I don’t think it’s obvious really unless you look up close since there is a slight stripe to the fabric background.

The details
Fabric:  Black patterned cotton with a felt flower from The Fabric Warehouse and a grey lining from stash.
Notions:  Thread, dress zip, waistband stiffening
 and a skirt hook and eye for the waistback
Pattern:  Muse Patterns, Tahi skirt, size 40, again taken in a bit, but possibly not to a 38!
Changes made:  None, unless you count shortening the maxi version or lengthening the short version!
Another one/recommendations:  If you haven’t made this, why not? I’ve two this length now and they are constantly being worn. This black version is great for those grotty wet summer days, it’s also perfect with tights for the winter. It’s a quick make and that feature panel is a great touch.

Grainline Scout Tee

I made this pattern for the first time last June copying a RTW top I had. I thought it was time to try the pattern for real, since the RTW knock-off had a knit back and woven front.

I got this red silk from Zara at a Fabric-a-Brac one year (too long ago to remember!) Just enough to make up this top. I cut the same size front and back, a 12, and also straightened the sides. This pattern really flares out at the hip. I think the hips are cut to a size 8! The sleeves have also been lengthened by about an inch. The neckline is also raised by about an inch on the front.

I had enough fabric to piece together the binding for the neck, so the main fabric was used for the bias binding too. All seams are French seamed, apart from the armhole seam which I finished with my overlocker. It does mean that instead of the 1/2″ seams on pattern, I actually took 5/8″ seams. I think the fit works well now, although it is still quite big on the back.

The details
Fabric:  A red silk crepe with a textured finish from Zara at Fabric-a-Brac
Notions:  Thread.
Pattern:  Grainline Scout Tee, size 12 and grading to an 8 at the hips. Last time I made up a size 10, but had a knit back.
Changes made:  Straightened the side seams, raised the neckline and lengthened the sleeve.
Another one/recommendations:  Well I have to say that more are in the making, so yes I definitely recommend this pattern. It’s not difficult to make up and gives a great woven tee to wear. I will however recommend you check the finished hip measurement. I’m not sure how low the front neck would be following the pattern. Perhaps I ought to make up one as per the proper pattern!


Liola Patterns Molly Cardigan

I made this cardigan last August and have finally managed to get photos when Kat and I went for a walk one lunchtime. Taken in a very windy Wellington day up by Brooklyn windmill…

This is the Molly cardigan from Liola Patterns, which I discovered by chance when I was looking at cardigans on It has some structure and also looks jacket like. I also really liked the collar detail. Even though I could find no others in the wild, I decided it was worth a risk!

I think the recommended fabric is for something with a bit more drape than the merino double knit I used. However it works well and is so warm and cosy for the winter!

Casting my mind back… I cut an XL based on my bust size. Since my fabric was really quite thick, I ended up sewing much of this on my machine with a walking foot and finishing seams using my overlocker. My overlocker doesn’t really like thick seams, even if I set the feed dogs with a little pressure as possible, and this certainly does end up with thick seams with the collar double thickness.

The pattern was really very simple to make up. The collar is dealt with first. They are big pieces cut on the fold and certainly with my fabric they took quite a bit of dealing with. the collar is attached right down to the side seam to give the curved front. The back piece is then hemmed up level with the collar pieces.

The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with good images attached. I have to say it was an enjoyable make. I didn’t have to make any changes, I just made it up as is, even following the instructions!

The deets
Fabrics:  Brown merino double knit from The Fabric Store, August 2016
Notions:  Thread and tape for the shoulders.
Pattern:  Liola Patterns Molly Cardigan, size XL, available from
Changes made:  None
Another one/recommendations:  I’m happy with this. It got a lot of wear in the winter after I made it. I love the colour and it goes with so many things. It’s warm and toasty particularly for a cold day. The fit is great, I love the length of this one. I also like the collar. It’s a quick and easy make and definitely makes a change from my four Style Arc Nina cardigans! I think there might just be another one in the making.

Oh and you wanna see a really funny photo… Check out this windswept look 🙂

Here’s the view from the top


Copying and proud of it

Before Christmas I was in Whanganui (about 3-4 hours north of here) and discovered two sewing/craft shops. Philp-Wrights is really known as a curtain upholstery fabric store, however down the back are lots of lovely dress-making fabrics, along with some samples on manikins. This one in particular took my fancy…

As you can imagine the rest is history, the fabric and the pattern came back home with me! It’s very rare nowadays that I buy a pattern on a whim too!

This is Burda 7031. It’s a while since I’ve made anything Burda for me, and so made up a muslin. It’s the first time I’ve sewn anything with French darts too. The were pretty much in the right place, but needed flattening out at the top slightly. These have quite a curve in them too. These darts are trimmed before stitching them.

As I’ve said, I completely copied the version in the shop! The fabric is a lovely quality cotton sateen and was really lovely to sew up.

I had to make a few changes, since the short sleeve version is lace with a lining. Obviously I didn’t line this dress, and so I just used a single layer and gave them a small hem. The sleeves are made up of a front and back. I also drafted some neck facings.

My invisible zip is not perfect, what also makes it more difficult is that the centre back seam is shaped. I’m not the best at sewing in zips in shaped seams. Once I’d sewn in the zip, the back was still too big, I ended up putting in darts. I might have done better to have sewn in the zip with straight seams and then adding the darts afterwards.

I actually think the front is possibly too big, but I can’t think at the moment how to shape it and make it a better fit.

The deets
Fabrics:  Cotton sateen from Philp-Wrights in Whanganui, December 2016
Notions:  Thread, invisible zip, some interfacing for neck facings.
Pattern:  Burda 7031, size 16
Changes made:  Darts lowered slightly, long back darts added and neck facings drafted.
Another one/recommendations:  I love this dress, it’s really comfortable and summery. There are very few out in the wild, but those French darts make for a great fit. I still think I could do a lot more to the fitting in the front. Whether I make another I’m unsure. I’m glad I saw the version in the shop and made it up though. It’s had a lot of wear already 🙂