Old and new

It is getting cold here! I know those of you who live in the deep south or the far north will be laughing at me, but if it gets below 10 degrees celcius I think its cold. So I am making some warm clothes to get me through the next few months. To kick things off, I’ve made a Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit in a merino/polyprop blend to wear as a base layer. I really hate it when my top comes untucked from my jeans or skirts, so the idea of something which will stay put is appealing!

I made a few stupid mistakes with my choice of materials here, the biggest one being that the merino has virtually no vertical stretch. I’m really short through my torso, so its actually ok, but it does mean I have some excess fabric hanging around when my arms are down by my sides (or in my pockets). I also used seriously sub-standard press studs for the crotch fastenings, and they have a tendancy to ping apart at random moments. It can be somewhat alarming! I’m going to replace them with some industrial strength ones for added security.

Next time I’ll make a few changes, including shortening the waist and using stretchier fabric. I’m also going to raise the neckline by about an inch, because I do find this quite low cut! I think I’ll also use either the high neckline or high back, rather than the scoop neck and back, as I find it falls off my shoulders. I’ve added bra strap loops to this one, but if I’m going to be wearing them predominantly as a base layer under other things then a high back neckline makes sense. I’ll also shorten the 3/4 length sleeves by a couple of inches, as I keep pushing these ones up.

This is a rather unflattering shot of my back, but you get the idea! I do really like the scoop back, its quite glamourous! 

I wore this outfit out for high tea with the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network yesterday, and felt rather swish. The skirt is a wool Hollyburn skirt which I made last winter, but hardly wore because I was so horrified by my zipper insertion technique. I had so much trouble getting the zip to go it neatly with the piping that I ended up hand picking it, but it always looked really shitty and I just couldn’t bring myslef to wear it. Last week I found a pink invisible zip in my box of findings (I have no idea when or why I bought it, but it was somewhat serendipitous), and decided to have a crack at putting it in with my invisible zipper foot. I also trimmed down the piping cord inside the bias tape to make things a bit flatter. And it worked really well! Look at how much better it looks… 


See? So much better! Doesn’t look like I’ve chewed on it anymore šŸ™‚ 

So thats my Nettie. Bit of a boring post I’m afraid, but there we go. Look out for several more, its a pattern which is perfect for hacking! I’m looking forward to making some short sleeved ones for summer too, andmaybe a swimsuit…

1930s (ish) Beach Pyjamas

After my last (whiney) post about not being motivated to finish anything (thanks for your advice and kind words!), I put my head down and got to work on my main outfit for Art Deco weekend. I’ve been wanting a set of beach pyjamas for ages, they just look like such comfortable clothes! Then i saw the amazing set that Anna made last year, and I was sold. I had a look around for some vintage patterns, but they were all unbelievably expensive! So I looked up some inspiration pictures, and fell in love with this photo…


How awesome are those hats? The set I particularly like are the white trousers and the chevron halter top. I wanted a two piece set, even though a lot of them seem to be one pieces, mostly for practical reasons, but also because a set of wide legged cream trousers will be a good addition to my dancing wardrobe! In the end, I decided to go with the By Hand London Holly trousers and the Sewholic Lonsdale dress bodice. Happily, both patterns were already in my stash!


After all of my procrastination, I’m really pleased with the result! Especially the top, I think its super cute. I haven’t made the Lonsdale up as a dress (mostly because I don’t like wearing things I need special underwear for…I need to get over that) but I might have a go at it next summer, because I really like it as a top! I cut the striped fabric on the bias, because I wanted the chevron effect up the front, but the lining is cut on grain to make it all a bit more stable. I pieced the lining with some of the striped fabric for the straps, so that they were striped on both sides.



I swapped the zip for buttons up the back, mostly because I think it looks cute, but also because I couldn’t find a separating invisible zip. It does make it more difficult to get into it on my own, but I managed! I shortened the bodice by almost an inch, because I have a really short torso, but it could probably do with being a bit shorter. This was also pointed out by monsieur, so it must be quite noticible! (Honestly, he watches one episode of the Great British Sewing Bee with me and now he’s an expert…)


The Holly Trousers were really simple to put together after the top, I knew they would fit after making my Flolly Playsuit last year. The cream linen/cotton blend I used was beautiful to sew with, and presses really well, but doesn’t stay wrinkle free for long! I’ll try to press some nice sharp creases down the fronts of each leg, but I’m not sure how long they’ll last. I used my invisible zipper foot for the first time to put the side zip in, it looks so neat and was so easy! It looks like the foot will be a good investment.


They’re super long trousers (even taking my lack of height into account), I’ve already taken a 4″ hem up on them! I’m trying to decide if I should hem them to the right length, or turn them up and cuff them like oxford bags. What do you think?



So there we go! I’m glad they’re finished in time, they’ll be nice and cool to wear on a hot day in Napier! I think I’ll make a navy and cream headscarf to wear with them, rather than a hat, since I’ll have my parasol with me. Such a shame that they’ve gone out of fashion!

Now for something completely different!


…just kidding, it’s another Sewaholic Renfrew! I hope you aren’t sick of seeing me in this pattern yet, cos I’m not sick of making or wearing them! I’m a tee shirt sort of girl at heart, and its hard to get too worked up about dressing nicely for the trip to and from work (I wear scrubs when I’m actually working). The fabric may be familiar, its made out of the scraps of Lyocell from my last Renfrew, and the stripy cotton knit from my first Grainline Hemlock tee. I’ve been hoarding the stripes for ages because I love the fabric so much, but I didn’t have enough to make a whole other top out of it. When I realised that it matched the grey Lyocell knit almost exactly, I decided to chop my (traced!) Renfrew pattern in half and use the two fabrics together. This version follows the pattern pretty closely, with my standard adjustments. I cut a size 6 with 2″ of length taken out of the body because of my short torso. I drew a line two inches under the armscye across the front and back pieces of the pattern, and added 3/4″ seam allowance before overlocking them together. I also added a pocket, to break up the stripes a bit (no pattern piece used, just cut it out freehand). I also skipped the hem and sleeve cuff bands, as the striped knit hems nicely with my twin needle, and nothing I did worked at all on the lyocell, so I left it raw! (Hah, I’ve just looked back over the post I wrote about my hemlock made in this fabric, and I complained about how hard it was to hem with my twin needle! Am I more practiced now, or is it just the way I was holding my mouth..?)


I like it! Its not spectacularly adventurous, but its comfy and cute, and it fits well into my wardrobe. Its also not my best piece of sewing, I realised yesterday when I was wearing it that I somehow managed to cut the grey lyocell on the cross grain, so the stretch is going up and down instead of around! Happily it has some stretch on the cross grain as well, which is probably why I didn’t notice when I was sewing it… I think that might be why I’m getting those diagonal pull lines between my bust and waist in this version. The only thing I’m wondering about is making the sleeves one stripe shorter, so that they end at the same point as the transition line between fabrics on the body. Would that make it look more cohesive, or does it not matter? Overthinking it, maybe? I’ll ask you, internet oracle, for your thoughts!


I love both of these fabrics, so putting them together has made me happy! I didn’t realise I had my sunglasses still perched on my head until I looked at these photos, it was really sunny on Saturday when I took them. Too sunny for me to take them outside, I was just getting glare and pictures of me squinting in a very attractive way! This week is my final week of university, only one more assignment to hand in, and I’m done for the year! Bring on Sunday…or earlier, if I get my arse into gear and finish my essay earlier. I have so many large-ish sewing projects i want to get started on, it’ll be nice not feeling guilty for sewing instead of studying.


Summer daisy Belcarra

Another week, another tee shirt! Though this one is more of a blouse, I suppose…


Its a Sewaholic Belcarra, to be exact! I’ve been eyeing this pattern since it was released, but was a bit unsure about the style on me. But then Sewaholic had a 20% off sale, so I grabbed the PDF and headed to The Fabric Store for a wee look around. I was originally after a soft, drapey (thanks to everyone who offered opinions about the correct way to spell drapey, by the way!) fabric, preferably self patterned and white. I also wanted something easy to look after, cotton or a poly blend. Instead, I ended up with this pretty silk border print. Its soft and mostly white, but thats about all it has in common with my original list of requiments! I thought it was too pretty to pass up on though, so I bought two panels in the hope that I could squeeze my pattern onto it.

(I tried really hard to get a shot of the back, but this was as much of me as I managed to fit in the frame for some reason. After 5 similar shots, I gave up…)

The blouse was really easy to make up, I just made the plain version without the pintucks or pocket. It would have gone together in a few hours, except it was a nightmare to cut out! This is the first think I’ve made in a slippery silk, and I thought it would be ok as it was quite crisp feeling, but it still slipped and slithered and warped and just generally gave me hives as I was trying to lay out the pattern! I ended up weighing the pattern down as I usually do, then pinning it as well. I originally planned to cut it in a single layer, to minimise my fabric use, but this ended up helping me to keep everything square as well. It was with great relief that I cut out the final cuff band!

After that nightmare, I waited a few days to start sewing it together. I decided I would try to use french seams, since they always look so lovely, so it took a bit of number crunching to figure out how I should divide up my seam allowances! I’m rubbish at fractions, using imperial measurements makes my head hurt. Eventually I figured out that 1/4″ and 3/8″ made up 5/8″, so thats what I went with. Later I found the tutorial on The Grainline blog which spelt all of that out, so It was good to have my numbers confirmed! Then there was getting the general orientation of the pattern pieces right, wrong sides together first, then right sides…the only time I got it wrong was sewing up the shoulder seams, so at least they were only short lengths of stitching to unpick! I make it sound really difficult, but once I got my head around it it was all fine, and it looks lovely on the inside!


I also had a minor wrestle with the neck band, for some reason it ended up about an inch longer than the neckline. i think I must have stretched out the bias strip as I basted it together. In the end, I just trimmed it down and re-stitched it. I also decided to hand stitch the binding down, rather than top stitch it, which I think looks better on the silk.


I made two very minor changes to the instructions, otherwise its exactly as the pattern intended! I cut the cuff bands on grain instead of in the bias, as I wanted to use the border print, and I used a narrow rolled hem instead of folding and topstitching it up.


I really like the pattern, but I am slightly worried that this fabric (pretty as it is) makes it a bit…mature for me. I’m considering giving it to my mum, as it might be more age appropriate for her! What do you think? Or do you think it’ll look ok with shorts and sandals and bright jewellery for summer?

Back to Basics

To kick off my spring sewing, I’ve started super simple (how’s that for alliteration?). This is my third Sewaholic Renfrew tee (the first two are here), and this time I made a few modifications…


I made this up in the most deliciously soft and drapey Lyocell knit from the Fabric Store. I had to look Lyocell up, its a natural fibre made from wood pulp, like rayon. Anyway, its amazingly silky and I pretty much just want to wear it against my skin all the time! I also bought it in pale pink, and then when I was back at the Fabric Store the next time I snagged some out of the remnants bin, so expect to see more of it! (Also, if anyone can tell me the correct spelling for drapey I would be appreciative. Drapy? Drapey? Both look weird)


I wanted a bit of a looser look for this fabric, so I traced out the renfrew pattern, and then measured about 7″ down the side seam to the narrowest part of the waist. I then drew a straight line out from there at about a 15 degree angle (I just eyeballed it, there was no protractor involved!), and drew in a curved hem. I sewed the whole thing up as per the instructions, except for the cuff bands, which I halved in width, and the hem band, which I left off entirely. In fact, I haven’t hemmed it at all, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it without the hem becoming all wavy or bulky. Looking at these photos now, it looks like a very similar shape to a Deer and Doe Plantain. I should just have used that pattern!


I really like it, but it is a bit thin and clingy! I’m wearing a tank top under it for these photos, but I’ll need to get a nude seamless bra if I’m going to wear it without a singlet. Otherwise, I like that its fitted but not tight over my tummy, and I really like how the curved hem turned out.

So there we go, a very basic basic tee to start my spring wardrobe! I was going to add some embellishment, using some of the leather left over from my merino and leather Briar or something, but in the end I decided that plain was good. It works with jeans or shorts (I think it’ll look cute with shorts, actually) and it will work tucked into skirts too. I also like how it looks with my braided beads necklace!


Also, I’ve finally figured out how to use Instagram properly! Im kirsten52fancies, if anyone is interested. I think I almost understand what hashtags are about…

Hurrah for Hollyburn!


Well, apparently I do remember how to use my sewing machine for sewing woven garments! I made up this skirt over a few evenings after work last week, and I’m actually really happy with it.



This pink wool has been in my fabric stash the longest of any uncut length I have. I bought it on a bit of a whim, because I liked the colour (and it was on sale, I think), but I’ve never really had any plans for it. I think at one point I had aspirations to turn it into a Colette Anise jacket, but after struggling through a couple of Colette makes I just couldn’t face the fitting marathon! Maybe one day I’ll take on the challenge. But for now, I thought I would stick to something simple, and the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt definitely fit the bill. Because it was such a nice simple shape, and there are relatively few pattern pieces, I decided to try adding in some piping detail around the waistband and pockets.


Piping is fun! I wanted to cut down on the pink a bit, so I chose a dark charcoal cotton bias binding. I tried to finish everything as cleanly as possible. Finishing has always been something I’ve been pretty slack about, I’m ashamed to say! Originally i considered binding all of my seams with the same bias binding I used for the piping, but I was worried about adding too much bulk. So I overlocked all of my edges instead, and used the binding around the bottom of the pockets and to hem the skirt.


Everything was moving along very smoothly, until I tried to put in the zip! I’ve never put in anything but an invisible zip, which in hindsight I should have used for this skirt as well, but the pattern didn’t expressly call for one and I just didn’t think about it. After my fourth disastrous attempt to put it in using my machine, the zipper tape was looking a bit ratty (and so was I, after unpicking it so many times), so I decided to attempt putting it in by hand.


Its…ok. I can’t seem to get the piping at the waistband to stop pulling away from the zipper teeth, which is annoying. I’m considering going and buying an invisible zip, but I’m a bit worried that the piping would interfere with that too…Any suggestions about how to fix my current zip (or tutorials for how to sew a normal zip in by machine) would be greatly appreciated!

Problems with the zip aside, I really like this skirt. This is the shortest, fullest version (i think its supposed to be mini-length, but I’m short!). I would like to make another one up in the midi-length, maybe in some swishy black wool. This skirt is excellent for swishing…



Double Feature: a pair of Renfrews

Continuing on last weeks’ theme of comfy long sleeved tops (in grey and white stripes, no less) , I made myself a Sewaholic Renfrew out of a lovely thick cotton knit. I bought the 2 yards (2.2m) of fabric recommended on the pattern, and I have so much left over that I think I can probably get a short sleeved version out of the same fabric for summer! Which is not at all a bad thing.


I was in between sizes, so I made the 8, which turned out to be a bit big. It fits more like a sweater than a tee shirt! I cut the hem and cuff bands with the stripes going the other way to the body of the top (is it called the cross grain if its a four way stretch knit?) just for a bit of variety. I usually like the way this looks, but I’m not 100% convinced in this instance…


The top came together really quickly, my only catastrophe came when I cut the sleeves too short! I initially thought it would be ok, but when I wore it the other day they really annoyed me. I’ve decided that this version can be an almost-wearable muslin. I may take the bands off the hem and cuffs, take it in a bit, and maybe replace the bands with a solid grey rather than the stripes. I really like the fabric, so it would be a shame not to make it wearable! I’m also not entirely pleased with the neck band, looking at these photos made me realise how wavy it is. I wonder if a good iron would fix it?

Since I was on such a roll, and had just pre-washed and dried a load of merino fabric, I decided to cut out a short sleeved version in a size 6 and see how it turned out.

20140520-131724.jpg(This is what I look like when I need to sneeze just as the photo is taken. Not a good look!)

Pretty damn well, I think! The fit is much better, more what I was looking for with version one. I was so excited when I put it on that I did a happy dance in the bathroom :). I love tee shirts, they’re my main wardrobe staple (those and cardigans), and I’m so happy to be able to whip up one that fits and is such a lovely shape in a few hours! I’m also really happy with the way the neck band turned out on this one, I gave it a decent burst of steam when I ironed it and that seems to have done the trick.


The only changes I made to the construction of this one was to shorten it an inch (at the shorten/lengthen line, I normally never remember to do that!) and to sew the sleeve band to the inside of the sleeve, turning it up like a cuff. I like my tee shirt sleeves to be shorter! I’m considering adding a tab and button, just for visual interest.


I got the job I was interviewed for last week, so clearly my lack of adult trousers didn’t cost me too badly (I wore a dress, I was fairly respectable looking!). As a reward, I bought myself two new patterns, the By Hand London Flora, and the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt. I’ll need to remember how to sew wovens…once I’ve finished my merino Moneta of course…