Pietra’s (part one)

Wow, its been a few weeks! I’ve been sewing a whole bunch, but finding the motivation (and the time) to take photos has been a bit tough. But this weekend was sunny, and I managed to get photos of a few things that have been waiting for a while, as well as a few queue jumpers!

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First up is a pair of Closet Case Patterns Pietra Pants, fresh off the sewing machine! This is view B, the pegged version, made up in a striped cotton twill from my stash. First things first: they haven’t photographed very well! I couldn’t get the narrow stripes on this fabric to come up in a way that wasn’t hypnotic, so I’m sorry if you can’t see them very clearly…

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Bamboozling as the fabric looks on screen, I think they look pretty great in real life! I’ve got metres of this fabric, it was from one of The Fabric Warehouse’s Pop Up sales a few years ago and I’m glad I’ve started making a dent in it. I considered playing with the direction of the stripes on the pockets and waistband, but decided to keep it simple and have all of the stripes horizontal. This twill is a lovely weight for this pattern, its not too crisp or bulky with the elastic in the back, but still feels heavy enough for Spring trousers.

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Now, to the pattern! I sewed this version as a toile, before I cut into the lush viscose/linen blend I have from Blackbird Fabrics, and the fit is so great. I took 1/4” off the rise at the CF, and that is all. Everything else is as drafted! I’ve got a couple of wrinkles under the bum, and I could take a little bit more length off the centre front seam, but other than that I think they’re pretty perfect. Even the length is as drafted, surprisingly! I may actually add an inch or so to my next pair, just so that I can cuff them if I want to.

 

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The waist is super high, and I love it! The lack of waistband paired with the interfaced facing at the front make them really comfortable, and the pockets aren’t too bulky and are nice and deep. They’re just a really comfy, easy to wear pair of trousers, exactly what I’ve been looking for! I was a bit worried that the 2 inch elastic in the back waist would be too wide, but it feels fine and I actually like the way it looks when it’s all topstitched. I did have to steam it pretty heavily once I had finished sewing over it to get it to spring back to its original length, but that seems to have been successful!

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I’ve also got a new tee shirt! This is a knit Scout Tee, made up in a linen knit from The Fabric Store. I’ve never sewn linen knit before, and once I managed to figure out how to straighten the grain on my piece of fabric (it came out of the wash like a parallelogram)  it was pretty easy going. I definitely made sure to stabilised the shoulder seams, and used wash away stabiliser to ensure the hems didn’t get stretched or tunneled as I ran it through the cover-stitch, but other than that… For the pattern I did the same thing I did for my first knit Scout, and sized right down to the smallest size in the pattern. I really like the length and shape of the sleeves on the Scout pattern, they’re a super cute length!

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I’m really happy with both of these garments, and I’m even happier that its getting warm enough to wear them! You’ll definitely be seeing more of both patterns around here this summer…

Wedding Sewing

It’s been six months (six!) since Hamish and I got married, so I figured it was about time I posted about the wedding sewing I did before I forget completely! I started out at the beginning of last year thinking that I would make not only my dress, but also dresses for my three bridesmaids. Once I started working on my Masters research project I dropped the idea of making any dresses pretty quickly, between my project and working I didn’t have masses of free time! I wanted to make something to wear though, and once I picked out my dress (from local bridal designer Sally Eagle), I started to have a think about what I could make to complement it.

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I decided I would make a top to wear over my dress, as it was pretty much backless and I thought I would want some coverage for post-dinner dancing at the least. But I has also tried on a lace over-bodice when I tried on the dress, and that looked so pretty…So I ended up making two tops, obviously!

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For the first top (what I started to jokingly call my “ceremony look”) I used some beautiful chantilly lace, which I first saw at Silk World when we were in Melbourne last year. Unfortunately, they only sold it in 3m lengths, and I really only wanted a small bit because it turns out lace is pretty expensive! Luckily I found the exact same lace the next day at Tessuti, and they were quite happy to sell me a 1.2m length (though it doesn’t seem to be on their website anymore).

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I wanted a princess seamed bodice with a high front neckline and an open back and capped sleeves. I decided to start with the By Hand London Elisalex bodice, because I knew it fit, and I’m much happier hacking a neckline than trying to fluff around with sleeves! I traced on the front neckline from the By Hand London Anna dress, and slashed the back neckline from the shoulder to the waist. After a muslin, I took a bit of extra length off the long edge of the open back, as it was gaping a bit, and I widened the neckline a touch. And then, I took a deep breath and cut into my beautiful lace…

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I spent a long time trying to maximize the pattern placement on the bodice. I especially loved this lace for its delicate floral motif, but also because it had two scalloped selvages. One was a small regular scallop, the other was a more ornate, eyelash-y edge. I decided to use the large scallop along the sleeve hems, and I trimmed the small scalloped selvage off completely so that I could hand sew it around the neckline once it was sewn together. That left me with a pretty big amount of fabric to fit my pretty small pattern pieces onto, and I managed to match the floral motifs across the princess seams front and back pretty well! To finish the hem I sewed a strip of bias tape I made from the same silk crepe de chine as my dress, so that I could tie it closed and it would hopefully blend into the waistline of my dress.

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Because lace doesn’t fray, I was able to get away with some pretty dodgy sewing techniques when I was sewing this! I used a microtex needle and standard thread, and the sewing was easy enough. The reason I wanted princess seams was so that I didn’t need to have the large triangles of the dart showing through the lace, and to make all the seams as unobtrusive as possible in a sheer fabric. I ended up sewing the seams as usual, then topstitching the seam allowances to one side at 1/8”and trimming the rest of the seam allowance right back to the topstitched line.

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In the end you could barely see the pattern matching against the ivory of my dress, but I’m still glad I went to the effort! I really love how delicate and ethereal the lace turned out, it definitely added a bit of romance to my otherwise plain dress (which I love! I wanted something minimalist, and I definitely got it!). As pretty as this top turned out, it didn’t really solve my original problem of having a bare back for dancing and partying later on… Which is where the second top came in!

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This simple little shell top was inspired by this two piece Anthropologie wedding dress which kept popping up on Pinterest when I was obsessively looking for ideas. We don’t have Anthropologie here, but I was pretty sure I could make something close enough! I was lucky to be able to buy a length of the same ivory crepe de chine as the rest of my dress from Sally Eagle, so that was a great start. I started with the cropped version of the Grainline Willow tank, and traced on a boat neckline similar to the shape of the first top. Because the silk is so fine and floaty, I ended up lining it completely with self fabric. This took away the problem of finishing the neckline and armscyes with facings or bindings, both of which would show through. Instead I trimmed the seam allowances pretty short with pinking shears to reduce their bulk, and then they were all enclosed in the lining. I finished the bottom with a machine rolled hem, incorporating both layers.

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You know I can’t resist a button up back! I found these gorgeous wee vintage glass buttons at Miss Maude, and I had to get them. They’re possibly a bit heavy for this fine silk, but I reinforced the centre backs with strips of organza to help stop the back from buckling. The roleau loops were actually easy to make, the lightweight silk was pretty easy to turn into little loops! One thing I really wish i had thought to do is add strap-holders to the inside shoulders, so that I could hook the shoestring straps of my dress into them and stop them slipping down my arms all evening!

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This little top was exactly what I wanted! It’s a much more modern and minimalist look than the lace, and I liked having the chance to change it up for the two halves of the day. I’m still impressed that I didn’t spill anything on either top (or my dress) all day, though the hem of my dress is pretty covered in grass and other farm-adjacent stains… I think I’ll be able to wear my reception top again with a bunch of things in my wardrobe next summer.

So this post has ended up being really long, thanks for reading all the way to the end! I’m definitely not a bridal seamstress, and I’m still not really sure if I approached these two projects in the most traditional way (especially the lace), but I’m really happy with how they both turned out, and I’m glad I was able to make something for my wedding day! I’m equally glad I opted not to make the actual dress, I would have stressed myself right out trying to get that done in time… Instead it was a pretty relaxed lead up to a lovely, easy, fun day with our favourite people, can’t ask for better than that!

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The photos in this post of me (and Hamish) were taken by the lovely Billie Brook out at Ohariu Farm, and I would really recommend both if you’re getting married in the Wellington region!

 

 

 

York Pinafore

I often buy patterns when they’re first released, intending to make them up pretty quickly, and then my tendency to procrastinate and inability to settle on a fabric kick in and I rarely make them up as rapidly as I intended. The York Pinafore by Helen’s Closet is one of the few which I printed and made up within a week of buying the pattern! I think it helped that I was primed for it’s release, I had seen Emma’s tester version and loved it immediately, and I knew it would be perfect in a few fabrics I had in my stash.

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I was a little bit wary of the cocoon shaped skirt on the York, so I decided to make it up in some fabric that I wouldn’t mind losing if it didn’t work out. This is a lightweight stretch denim from the Fabric Store that they were selling cheap because it was massively overdyed. I washed it a couple of times, and it came right though! It’s indigo on one side and black on the other, and I used the black side (which I think is the wrong side, but I wanted it to be really neutral so I used it anyway!). Because it’s winter, and I wanted to be able to wear it comfortably with tights, I lined it with a stretch poly lining from my stash. I have no idea where that came from, but it was perfect for this project! I used some vintage turquoise bias tape around the arms and neckline, and had just enough to do the hem as well. So satisfying to use up so many bits from the stash in one project!

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I cut a size small, which was a little smaller than my measurements but I thought there was enough ease that it’d be ok, and would tone down the cocoon shape that I was a bit worried about! I shortened it an inch at the lower lengthen shorten line, and and half an inch at the upper lengthen/shorten line on both the front and back. I wanted the bottom of the scooped sides to hit at the smallest part of my waist, as I thought that would look best. I cut the length half way  between the long and short hem lengths, and I love where it’s sitting.

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Initially I was a bit worried that the bib was too narrow, I was concerned that it would look like my boobs were making a break for it out either side! I think the proportions are just right though, now that I’ve worn it a couple of times. If I widened it I think I would need to add a little dart to stop it gaping over my bust, and I think that would start to look a bit fussy…

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I used the patch pockets, which are awesomely huge and deep! I saw a version where the patch pockets had been turned into welt pockets, and I would love to try that on another version. They looked really sleek and modern with the rest of the silhouette. And it turns out I really like the silhouette! The cocoon shape is way more flattering than I thought it would be, and its a really easy and comfortable dress to wear. I can imagine wearing it over nearly all of the tee shirts in my wardrobe (I love it over all my stripes!), and I think it would look cute over my shirts as well. I’m wearing it here with my latest Lark Tee, a boat neck version made up in a rayon stripe that I bought at Fabricabrac a few weeks ago. Its lovely and soft, and I love the navy and white! I do need to go back and add a label into the back neckline though, I thought I would be able to tell them apart but I’ve just realised that I put it on back to front when I was getting dressed this afternoon (after trying on some wedding dresses, so much fun!). Clearly not so easy to tell the back from the front as I thought!

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I’m leaving you with this gem of a picture, because I think it shows the outfit really well, but it also shows what happens when I ask my sister to take some pictures for me and I just talk the whole way through the ‘shoot’! Thanks for thanks for taking the photos Abby, and for dodging the group of tweens who wanted to take photos against the same patch of wall…

Fancy Pants

It’s party season! I seem to have more invitations this year than usual (that’s not to say I have hundreds, but as a card-carrying introvert I find having something on most weekends is quite a lot of socialising!), so I’ve been looking to make some separates which can do double duty as party wear and for every day. With excellent timing, Drapers Fabrics in Auckland contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to collaborate with them on a project. I’m usually pretty reluctant to do sponsored content on my blog, but I’ve bought from Drapers in the past and I love the quality and variety of their fabrics, so I felt confident about teaming up with them! The usual disclaimer then: The fabrics used in this post were kindly supplied by Drapers Fabrics, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

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I decided I really wanted a pair of swishy Flint trousers, in a lighter weight fabric than my heavy grey crepe pair, and some cami tops to wear with them. I had been looking for some tencel twill, as I keep reading such glowing reviews of it online, but I’ve been unable to lay my hands on any in stores here. Luckily, Drapers Fabrics stocks a beautiful viscose twill (called Vivi), which sounded perfect. I asked for some advice from Lulu, who was very helpful when communicating with me for the collaboration, and she agreed that it would be the perfect drape and weight for a pair of swishy trousers. It’s so lovely and soft!

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This is actually my 4th time using the Flint Trouser pattern, but it’s only the second pair which has made it to the blog (bad blogger!). I made a pair of chambray shorts to take to the UK, and I’ve also made a pair in cotton sateen which I’ll post about later. This is the first pair I’ve made with the tie at the waistband though, I thought it would be a nice touch with this fluid fabric. I really like the way it looks, especially with a tucked-in top! Even with a cropped top like this, the tie isn’t lumpy or weird underneath it, which is nice. I was worried it would only work with something fitted up top.

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The top is a cropped version of the Grainline Willow Tank, the same as my striped version in this post. I was trying to pick between a few printed woven options on the Drapers Fabrics online store for another Ogden Cami, but when I saw Sheena, a linen/rayon blend, I decided it would make an excellent Willow Tank instead. It’s crisp and fairly stiff, so it holds the flared silhouette of the Willow perfectly, and I love the texture that the blend of fibers gives the fabric. It has a pattern of sheer and opaque lines making up a subtle plaid pattern, but the bubbly texture looks more like giant seersucker. I wondered if I would have to wear a top underneath it, but it isn’t so sheer that I’m worried about it! It makes the pattern more obvious when there is a different colour underneath it too, of course. I’ve made the Willow tank several times now, but this is the first time that I’ve made it with the bindings rather than my ‘self-drafted’ facing pieces. Because of the sheerness of the fabric I thought the bindings would look better! I used bias strips of the viscose twill that I had left over from my trousers, as I thought Sheena was probably a bit crisp to bend around the neckline and arm holes nicely. Vivi behaved beautifully on the bias, and ironed nicely, so it was a good choice!

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I’m so happy with both of these garments, I think they fill my brief of separates which can be worn to parties or casually with other pieces perfectly! I think they look dressy and elegant worn together, especially with heels and fancy jewellery as I’m wearing them here, but I can easily imagine the trousers with a striped tee shirt and some flats, or the top with my high waisted jeans or with shorts. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn an all-black outfit, but I think the mix of textures and the drape of the trousers softens the severity of so much black.  I’m looking forward to wearing this outfit out somewhere fancy.

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(pity me for my terrible sun burn tee shirt lines…)

So! I would definitely recommend either of these fabrics, as well as Drapers Fabrics online store. Drapers Fabrics have been generous enough to give me a discount code for my readers as well, use FIFTYTWOFANCIES at checkout for 15% off all full priced fabrics. They offer an online swatch service, which is awesome for buying fabric online when you’ve never seen it before, and I’ve found them really helpful and responsive to emails and direct messages over Instagram. They’ll also respond to queries through their Facebook page, if that’s your thing! Drapers Fabrics also offer a layby service, where you can spread the cost of your purchase over 6 payments. I’m going to shamelessly take advantage of my own discount code and order some more of the viscose twill, as my mum wants a pair of matching Flint Trousers, and I’d love a dress out of it too. I’m also eyeing up some of their striped Japanese knit fabric (probably Wonda, but they also have Nadia. Tough choice…), because you know I can never have too many striped tee shirts…

Travel Basics

I had a ridiculous list of things to sew before our big trip (and I managed to get pretty much everything done!), but I had a few basic things which I knew I really had to take. A white tee shirt, some merino leggings and a new cardigan were all things that I knew would fill holes in both my travel wardrobe (sounds so fancy) and back home for our awkward spring weather. They aren’t really exciting garments, but they’ve been really useful and I’ve taken photos in a pretty spectacular location so hopefully that makes up for it!


First up is the tee shirt. I abandoned my much loved Grainline Lark pattern to try the Deer and Doe Plantain (free download!), and I really like the shape of it. It’s apparently been slimmed down from its original iteration, but it’s still loose enough to skim my hips and tummy rather than being tight. I like the shape of the scoop neck too, it’s nice and deep but not so deep that I’m worried about leaning forward!


I’ve managed to pull it weirdly against my body here, I’m not sure why I’ve trapped it under my arm like that! 

I used a cream merino from The Fabric Store. I don’t have a white tee shirt, but when I held up various white knits to my face in the shop they all made me look a bit grey and sick, so I went with a warmer cream. It’s a lovely fabric, as merino always is, but it is a wee bit see through. I’ll need to be careful to always wear a nude bra with it!


Right, second woollen basic is another Driftless Cardigan! This is my third time making this pattern, and I desperately needed another one because I’ve nearly worn through the elbows of my second (and the first isn’t really something I wear out of the house, it’s more like a dressing gown!)


I love this pattern, it’s so comfortable and I find it a really practical and easy shape to wear. The pockets are especially good! This time I used a beautiful grey Japanese wool (also from TFS). It has less stretch than merino, which makes for a sturdier feeling cardigan and stops the dreaded saggy pocket problem. I used the plain hem band pattern pieces rather than the high-low version, but I sewed them so that they have a split at the side seam rather than as a continuous band.


I don’t have any pictures of my merino leggings, but they’re plain black Papercut Patterns Ooh La leggings. I used a merino/Lycra blend to hopefully combat saggy knees! I’ll get some pictures in conjunction with something more exiting, because they are really dull photographically. I love them though!


These photos were taken at Dun Carloway, on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was such a cool place, and there was no one there! We just wandered into the paddock and up to this Neolithic building, then went inside and crawled through that little door and up a 2000 year old staircase to where the first floor would have been. So much history blows my mind a bit, coming from somewhere where our history is pretty recent (Māori settled in New Zealand about 700 years ago and there aren’t any structures even close to that old left), and being allowed to get up so close was awesome. All of the scenery on Lewis and Harris was breathtaking, I’m so glad we got out there. I’ll put my pictures from the Harris Tweed shop in another post!

Waverly and Lark

Well, I’m still without my laptop! It’s such a pain, I’ve got three biggish projects photographed and ready to blog, but I can’t edit my photos until I get it back. First world blogging issues for sure! In the meantime, here is a quick little post to show off a recently finished knitting project and (another) Lark tee.


Apparently I was feeling very stern when I took these photos…

Knitting first! This is the Waverly Scarf pattern from Knitbot, which came as a free download with her latest book, Texture (though I see you can now buy it on Ravelry). I really love a lot of the patterns in Texture, I’m currently knitting the Eventide Cardi, but I was especially taken with the basket weave texture of this scarf so I knitted it first!


I used Quince and Co Osprey in the Canvas colourway, which is exactly the same as the sample. Such originality! I wanted another neutral scarf that wasn’t grey, and this cream/beige/nude colour is perfect. It goes with everything, but I think it looks especially nice with navy! Because it’s a 12 ply yarn it knitted up pretty quickly, though I have found that the resulting fabric is really dense and sometimes sits away from my neck if I don’t get it sitting just right when I put it on. I haven’t blocked it yet, because it’s been cold and I’ve been wearing it, but once the weather warms up I’ll wet block it and hopefully that’ll relax the stitches a bit.


Another thing that I think adds to it’s stiffness is the way the edges roll in, it just makes it a bit more bulky instead of draping around my neck. Again, hopefully blocking will sort that out! Regardless, it’s a lovely scarf and it’s kept me super warm this winter. I find that the loose ends of my Guernsey Wrap blow around (and off, sometimes), but obviously that isn’t a problem with Waverly!



I’ve finally photographed this merino Lark tee! Instagram tells me I made it last August, and I’ve worn it lots in the last year. It’s the long sleeved boat neck version, obviously. Because I had a bit of trouble with the neckline sagging on my previous version, I used a self fabric facing instead of turning and stitching. It’s worked really well, the neckline is still sitting perfectly.


The Fabric is a lovely fine merino from Drapers Fabrics in Auckland, I was so happy to see a nice striped merino! I’ve found that a lot of the striped merino around tends to be light colours or really narrow stripes, but this one is perfect. 


Hopefully I won’t be needing all of my winter woolies for too much longer, but I’m glad to have these ones in my wardrobe!

Rocky Bottoms

I often buy patterns that take my fancy as soon as I see them, but I don’t often bump them up to the top of my sewing queue. The Named Minttu Swing Top was one example of a pattern I bought and made immediately, and apparently the Megan Nielsen Flint Pants are another!

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I have to admit, these trousers are pretty far outside my usual comfort zone! I tend to go for close fitting garments on my bottom half, skinny jeans and pegged trousers are my standard fare. Cropped wide leg trousers are definitely an anomaly in my wardrobe, I still think they’re probably too fashionable and “cool girl” for me! I loved the samples and the line drawings though, and then I found this slate grey crepe for $3 p/m at The Fabric Warehouse sale and thought I should push myself and give them a go (also, slate+flint=rocky bottoms! Terrible pun, but I’m not deleting it…).

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The pattern sewed up really quickly and easily, the lack of zipper or complicated closure definitely helped to speed things up! Instead, the waistband opens at the left pocket, with the pocket itself acting as a kind of gusset to let you in and out of the trousers, and is held closed by two buttons (or by really cute ties, which I am definitely going to try when I make the shorts version next summer!). I made up a straight size small, and I think the fit is really good. I did have to take an inch off the bottom, and I used a 2 inch hem allowance, but I’m only 158cm tall (5’2″ ish), so that’s to be expected. I considered taking a bit more off the hem, but I couldn’t decide if they looked funny shorter or not. What do you think of the length?

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This crepe fabric was a pretty good pick for these trousers I think! Its lovely and heavy and swishy, which I think helps them not look too overwhelming or clownish. It’s pretty thick, so I did have to grade the seams at the waistband pretty enthusiastically, especially around the pleats and pockets. It’s also polyester (I know, I know, but it’s so drapey and nice, and it was so cheap!), so it doesn’t crease or press very well, so the front pleats aren’t exactly crisp, but that’s ok. it also means they won’t wrinkle with wear, which is a win!

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As usual, I didn’t exactly make things easy for myself. I somehow managed to snip a hole right in the middle of the right front piece as I was cutting it out. I don’t know how I managed it, I must have been waving my scissors around like a maniac, but it was instant panic stations because I definitely didn’t have enough fabric to cut out another leg! In the end, I fused a scrap of interfacing to the hole, and then hand mended it. Thank god it’s mostly hidden in the pleat, because it’s far from an invisible mend! Hopefully most people shouldn’t be looking too closely at my pleats…

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Realistically this is probably how I’ll be wearing my Flint Trousers most of the time, with a tee shirt and flats (the tee shirt is a long sleeved Lark Tee, in a lovely cotton/lycra from Tessuti. I’ve made a few Larks which haven’t made it to the blog yet, I’ll try to sneak them into other posts!), but I think they look nice dressed up with heels and a cami or other fancy top too. Once I have a job which requires grown up clothing rather than pyjamas scrubs, I think they’d be a good addition to a work wardrobe! I think I’ll make another Nettie Bodysuit to wear with these, anything to stop my top wrinkling up underneath them.

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Apologies for these pictures being a bit dark, it’s so gloomy today! The clocks went back for winter in New Zealand overnight, so while I was pleased to get a bonus hour, I’m also bummed that now its going to be getting dark by 5.30-6pm! I need to get a brighter lightbulb for the lamp in my sewing room so that I can do stuff in the evenings…