Holiday Planning (help me out!)

Hi all! So my laptop had a meltdown last week (the tracking pad was malfunctioning in a way that made it pretty well unusable), and now it’s away being fixed so I’ll need to wait until it’s back before I can edit or post any pictures of finished garments. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I’m underway again… In the meantime, I’m still sewing and planning for our upcoming trip to the UK. It’s only 5 weeks away now, eek! I might have to cull my ‘to sew’ list, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that it’s a bit ambitious.


We’ll be in the UK for 5 weeks all up, and we’ll be driving through England, Wales and Scotland. We fly in and out of London, and we have to be down on the South Coast for the Goodwood Revival, but other than that we’ve got a pretty blank schedule! I want to go to Brighton, Glastonbury, Bath, Stonehenge, Cardiff, the Brecon Beacons and the Lake District as we drive up to my family in Glasgow, and once we’re in Scotland I’d like to go to the Outer Hebrides (going to see some tweed and some puffins!). Then we’ll head back down through the highlands, via a few distilleries for Hamish (though his favourites are the peaty whiskys from the islands, so I suppose we’ll do some there too) to Edinburgh, and back down through England to London. Looks like quite a lot when I write it out like that, but hopefully we’ll manage! 

So, I was hoping those of you in the UK could give me some suggestions of where to go? What are your local fabric/yarn shops and markets? What about your favourite pubs and cafes, and your recommended  local highlights? Local delicacies we have to try? I’m so excited to be heading back, I never meant to leave it 6 years between visits…

Winter Favourite

It’s been so cold here for the past few weeks! We’ve had a (pretty low key) cyclone sitting over the country, and so it’s been all 130 kph southerly gales and torrential rain and hail. We’ve had a few good landslides around Wellington too, as well as the usual airborne trampolines and bits of flying roofing iron. In the middle of all of that wildness, I decided I needed to make myself a new winter dress, obviously.


The pattern is McCalls 6886, which I initially overlooked as it’s a pretty basic tee dress. I’m really glad I picked it up during one of the Club BMV sales though, because it’s a nice wee pattern. I love the shaping in the side seams, and the neckline has also turned out really nicely. I probably could have lengthened a tee shirt pattern to get a similar effect, but I’m lazy and this pattern has turned out well enough that I’m glad I didn’t try!

I took an inch out of the bodice length at the top lengthen/shorten line, which I think was a good move. I’ve got a little bit of pooling above my butt, but not enough to bother me. The only other change I made was to slim the sleeves by about an inch at the wrist, tapering back to the seam allowance above the elbow. It’s pretty slim fitting through the body, I think I’d sew a narrower seam allowance through the hips if I was using a thinner or clingier fabric. This stuff is heavy enough to skim rather than get caught up on the waistband of my tights!

I cut the crew neckline, with the intention to modify it once I could try it on, but I actually really like the higher neckline. It’s much cosier than a scoop or a boatneck! I followed the instructions to turn and stitch the seam allowance to finish the neck, which I’m usually a bit leery of (I’ve had necklines stretch out really quickly when they’re finished like that), but it seems to be holding up nicely.

The fabric is a loop-back merino sweatshirting that I bought last winter from The Fabric Store. I had planned to make it into a SOI Heather dress, but the idea of having to match the stripes across those princess seams kept putting me off. I’m actually really glad I kept it for this super simple pattern, I love the way it looks and it’s really warm and comfortable!

I’m so happy with this dress, it’s got everything I like! Stripes, long sleeves, cuddly merino… I’ve been wearing it as often as I can get away with! Obviously I should make another one… I recently picked up a length of seconded fleece backed merino sweatshirting which would be lovely. It’s bright red though, so I might try dyeing it. I also think that this would be a good pattern for the printed scuba I got from Mood ages ago, it would show off that busy fabric perfectly!

(also, my image editing program gave up the ghost mid way through these pictures, which is why I have randomly appearing and disappearing power points…)

A clutch of Ida’s

A couple of months ago Kylie from Kylie and the Machine got in touch via Instagram and asked if I’d like to test her first pattern, a fold-over clutch bag she was releasing just in time for Mothers Day. I’ve never tested a pattern before, and I’d be pretty wary of testing a garment (I feel like there would be a lot of pressure involved in that, rightly or wrongly!), but a bag I could manage. The Ida Clutch is a simple sew, with nice clear instructions, and can be made in a variety of materials. I’ve used leather for all of mine, but there are some really cute versions in canvas and linen on Instagram, and Kylie has made an awesome version out of a coffee sack and some clear vinyl. Best of all, its a free pattern!

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I made my first clutch out of a piece of gorgeous cornflower blue Tory Burch leather which I got at The Fabric Store. I really love the leather pieces they have at TFS, I’ve amassed quite a collection of smaller pieces so it’s nice to have something to make out of them! I used some of that never-ending Liberty poplin remnant that has been showing up in all of my posts for the lining, I thought it was a good match. I made a couple of modifications to the pattern (bad tester!), to accommodate the thickness of this piece of leather. I trimmed the seam allowance off the top edge and just top-stitched the raw edge to the zip rather than folding it under as you would if using a thinner material, and I also cut the bulk of the darts out after I sewed them. I didn’t interface the leather, but I did use a lightweight fusible on the lining. Finally, I added a loop of leather with a D ring through it to the side seam just below the fold line, so that I could add a wrist strap. I love the idea of a clutch bag, but realistically I know that I’d never keep hold of a bag without a handle of some description!

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The second bag I made was a birthday present for a friend. I used some super soft and lightweight leather, again from TFS. This one I sewed up exactly as the instructions suggest, since the leather was so thin, including using both interfacing pieces on the leather. The lining is some cotton duck from Spotlight, which is probably a bit heavy for lining such a thin piece of leather, but I liked the way it looked with the gold hardware! I really like the metal zip and magnetic closure with the gold toned G-hooks and rivets, I think that everything matching helps to make the bags look more professional. I made a wrist strap for this one too, but somehow managed to not take any photos of it. Its just the same as the one on the blue bag though!

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For my third version I decided to do some very mild pattern hacking. I had this piece of nude patent leather (again from The Fabric Store, try to hide your surprise), and I had been wanting a small cross-body bag. The patent leather is thicker than the blue leather I used first, so I made the same modifications. My machine was deeply unhappy about sewing through more than two layers of this leather (even two was a struggle some times), but we managed. I ended up hand sewing the corner seams at the darts, because I couldn’t get my poor machine to punch through four layers of leather! I used leather needles in my machine, and used upholstery thread to sew the whole bag. The patent side of the leather was sticky enough that the feed dogs couldn’t move it under my presser foot, so I followed the advice of the internet and stuck some sellotape to the underside of the foot which fixed that issue!

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Initially I was going to have this bag fold over like the clutch versions, but the leather was just too thick for it to fold nicely, and I decided that it would probably be a more useful size if I left it upright! The lining is the same pink and gold flamingo cotton that I lined my Genoa Tote with, I still really like it! I do wish I had added a pocket though…

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I added a D ring to either side, just below the zip, to attach the shoulder strap. Cutting the strap was probably the hardest part of all, I had to cut six lengths of leather the same size, as my piece of leather wasn’t long enough for a single strap. I sewed the strips wrong sides together to make the strap stronger, and because it looks better not to have the napped side of the leather showing. I couldn’t decide how long I wanted the strap to end up, so I cut it 1/3 of the way along, and added the buckle so that I could adjust the length. It took me a wee while to figure out how I was going to secure the buckle and the loop of leather that holds the strap down, but in the end I decided to fold the whole lot into a sandwich and hammer a rivet through it! It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s covered by the strap so I figured I could live with it. I also added two rivets to the join in the strap, just to add a bit of strength to it. I tend to be quite hard on my bags!

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I’ve decided I like sewing bags, they’re useful and there’s no fitting issues to trip me up! This one is big enough to fit my sunglasses and my phone and the handful of lipsticks/balms which I seem to need to have on me at all times, so I feel like it’ll be a useful bag for running around town. It’ll be perfect to take to the UK in a few months!