A good week for secret pyjamas

Well, this has been a bit of a rubbish week. You’re probably mostly aware of what’s been going on in New Zealand, but if you aren’t, just after midnight last Sunday (literally 5 minutes after we got off our flight home from Melbourne!) a pretty massive earthquake hit the northern half of the South Island. It was a magnitude 7.8, which makes it the same size as the Napier earthquake in 1931, which killed hundreds of people and remains NZ’s worst natural disaster (in modern times, anyway). It seems to have nearly flattened the small town of Waiau which was closest to the epicentre of the quake, and has caused major damage to the surrounding area, including closing state highway 1 which is the main route down the country. It also rolled across Cook Strait and hit Wellington pretty hard, we’ve got lots of cordoned off and evacuated sections of town where engineers are trying to decide if damaged buildings are stable enough to survive if another serious shake happens, or if they need to be demolished. We’re still getting hundreds of aftershocks a day (there have been over 2000 since the initial quake), though thankfully they seem to be spreading out and becoming less strong as the week goes on.

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A map of severe (red) and strong earthquakes in the North Canterbury and lower Wellington region recently. A Geonet forecast shows the chance of a large quake striking the region in the next 30 days has reduced. Image credit: GeoNet.org.nz

We also had a tsunami warning sometime after the initial quake, so everyone living in the tsunami zone in Wellington had to decamp to higher ground at 2am Monday! Thankfully we live up a mountain, so no way we were getting hit. Then, if all of that wasn’t bad enough, Wellington got hit by a pretty severe storm on Monday and Tuesday, which caused flooding and landslides (not helped by sections of hillside that had already been loosened by the shake), accompanied by gale force winds which blew broken glass and bits of broken masonry around the city, and which meant we got to play that traditional Wellington game of ‘earthquake or gust of wind?’ We were effectively cut off from the rest of the North Island on Tuesday, the two major routes out of Wellington were closed by flooding and landslides. It was an eventful, stressful few days, and there were some seriously fraying nerves around the city! There is a really good summary of the events of the last week here, if you’re interested in reading more.

Anyway, onto some sewing! I made this dress up the same weekend which I made my Helmi dress, and it’s proved to be a perfect thing to wear this last week when  I just wanted to be comfortable! It was one of the first things which went into my suitcase for Melbourne (more about that another time, but I had a good week away and had a lovely time meeting some of the Melbourne sewing crew, who took me out for dinner and cocktails. Thanks for a lovely evening Sarah, Helen, Jane and Libby!), and it served me well when I was walking all over Melbourne looking for a brewery which the boys wanted to visit, which turned out to be closed once we finally found it. Sigh!

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This is the latest Sew Over It Pattern, the Heather Dress. I bought it as soon as I saw it pop up on Bloglovin, and I had it printed out and assembled before I realised that I had essentially the same pattern already in my library, the Muse Patterns Philippa. The princess seams end in a different place, and the Heather has sleeves, but other than that they’re very similar. I felt pretty stupid, I really need to start thinking more before I hit buy! I persevered with the Heather pattern as I had it printed out (I only printed out the Philippa skirt variation last time), and I am really happy with the final dress.

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I used a dark green ponte from The Fabric Warehouse, which I really like. It’s lovely and soft, and I think is just the right weight for this type of dress. It isn’t clingy, and it holds the shape of the pockets without them collapsing. I’m particularly in love with this dark green colour at the moment too, even though it’s so hard to photograph! I feel like for ages I’ve been all about navy and mustard, but recently I’ve found myself being drawn to deep greens and blush pink colours, as evidenced by the awesome green Funki clogs which I bought in Melbourne. I’ve been looking for some clogs for ages, they just don’t seem to be in the shops in Wellington!

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Next time I make this dress I’ll take in the princess seams at the back waist to combat that sway back wrinkling, and I’ll make it short sleeved. This version has the 3/4 length sleeves, though I had them rolled up yesterday when we were taking these photos and I forgot to get any with them uncuffed. I’ll also fiddle with the armhole/sleeve head slightly to see if I can get rid of that over-boob wrinkle…

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Thanks to Kat for taking these photos! It was particularly bright and sunny yesterday, and she did an awesome job finding places for me to stand which didn’t get washed out in the glare.

I’m a little in denial that it’s almost the end of November, I’m going to need to hustle if I want to get all of the sewing I have planned done before Christmas! Hopefully the country settles down now and we can just have a smooth run for the rest of the year…

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Two Skirts, Three Hours

I have been sewing up a storm this long weekend (possibly literally, there is a torrential downpour occuring outside as I type), which is just as well because I was feeling a bit on the out with my sewing machine after a few recent mishaps. I recieved my parcel of Deer and Doe patterns in the mail last week (sewing mail is the best!), and I decided that the Brume Skirt looked like just what I needed to get my sewing enthusiasm back.

  
I was uncharacteristically well behaved this weekend, I actually traced my pattern! I’ve never done that before, but I was a bit worried about getting the size right on such a close fitting skirt. And then I made a muslin! Also very out of character. But I had this mustard ponte in my stash, so I thought I’d use it for a trial run before I cut into my lovely Tessuti ponte which I got as part of my Pajama Party prize. 

 
This is view A, the mini length. I’m pretty short, only 158cm tall, so its not really a mini on me! Its a good length though. I really love the lines in this pattern, the curved yoke is especially flattering! Sewing it was quite unlike any other pattern I’ve tried in a knit, but it was fun and very satisfying to see all those curved panels come together. I only needed to make one fitting adjustement, and that was to straighten out the seams down the front. 

  
I had a bit of fabric pooling where the points of the yoke met the centre panel, but that mostly disappeared once I shaved some of the curve off the panel. I really like this version, its incredibly confortable! Unfortunately, the ponte I used has started to stretch out already, after only a day. I think I’ll need some reinforcing elasting in the waistband before long…

 
See the difference in size?! It hasn’t stopped me from wearing it pretty much constantly since I finished it yesterday though… 

 After trying on the first version in its finished state I immediately moved on to number two. I made it up exactly the same way, without flattening out the curve in the front as the fabric felt firmer than the mustard version (and it was an easy adjustment to make after it was assembled anyway). I used the reverse of the fabric for the yoke, just because I thought it looked cool.

 

 This ponte is lovely, quite thick and firm feeling. The skirt is definitely closer fitting than the mustard version, and I get the feeling it won’t bag out around the waistband in the same way. I didn’t need to change the curve of the front panel, as there is enough tension around my hips to pull the fabric flat and stop any pooling, so that was good! I think this one looks dressier than the other one, more like something I could wear out in the evening. Still feels like pyjamas though!

 
Monsieur likes this version best. I thought it would be because its the most figure hugging (he thinks I always sew shapeless things), but apparently its because the contrast yoke looks like the batman symbol. Boys are weird…I do like the way the contrasting colour on the yoke highlights those awesome curved seams though!

 
So there we go, two skirts in just over three hours! I really loved sewing these, and I know they’ll get a tonne of wear. I would definitely recommend this pattern! Now I think I might need some merino Nettie bodysuits to wear under them, to stop any bunching up…
 

Stripes for Summer

I had a bit of angst about what I should make out of this wonderful striped rayon blend knit (from the Fabric Store, of course), so I asked the internet via Instagram. Colette Moneta? Or a modified version of a Megan Nielsen Briar? Both are patterns I have made before, and I’m planning to make both again anyway, I was just waffling over fabric! The majority vote was for a Moneta, so I dutifully obliged. Sometimes its wonderful not to have to make decisions for myself!

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I made the short sleeved version, obviously, with a few changes after my last attempt. I shortened the bodice by about an inch, since the weight of the skirt pulls it down to an unflattering point on my short torso, and took the bodice in under the arms, tapering to the waist. I also took about an inch off the length of the sleeves, to make them more capped. I just think the length suits my proportions better!

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I also dropped the back lower, I’m a bit obsessed with scooped back necklines at the moment! I think its sexy, but not obviously so. Not that there’s anything wrong with cleavage, of course…Thats my biggest worry with this dress, actually. I feel that the high neckline combined with the stripes makes me look a bit Dolly Parton-esque!

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Mono-boob aside (what?), I do really like this dress. I love the stripes, and the swishiness of the skirt, and the fact that it is just really really comfortable! It looks just as good with black or brown, and I think it works equally well with my red Keds, ballet flats, sandals or heels. Yay for a dress for pretty much any occasion! It does look best with a belt, I think I need to look into doing a sway back adjustment if I make it again. I also love the lining! I’ve never tried lining a knit bodice before, but it works really well, especially with this thin, clingy knit. I used a remnant on Lyocell knit that i had in my stash. The lining also gives a really nice clean neckline, so I didn’t have any problems with it stretching out as I tried to hem it with my twin needle. I do think I should have maybe reinforced the neckline with some clear elastic, just to stop it sagging over time. It didn’t seem to stretch out when I wore it the other day though, so hopefully it’ll be ok!

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And here is one last gratuitous shot, purely to get my favourite shoes in! Can’t believe that I didn’t get them in any other photos, rubbish photography!

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Summer dresses in Autumn

Well, its been a very wet and windy week here, but I’ve been busy sewing sun dresses! My mum jets off to the beautiful Cook islands at the end of the month, and she asked me to whip her up some dresses to take with her based on one she got in H&M last year. Its a really simple dress, just a long tank top with some elastic sewn into the waist, but I still managed to make nearly everything quite complicated. Its a talent!

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This is the dress I started off with…

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…and these are the copies I made. I fudged a lot of the ‘pattern making’ (I lay the dress out on some paper and drew around it, not sure if that counts as pattern making), and had to change quite a lot of the construction techniques to suit the tools at hand, but I think I managed ok.

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On the blue striped dress I made a neck binding, which is my preferred technique, but the black and white fabric is a really stretchy jersey knit, and I just couldn’t get the binding to sit flat! In the end I had to trim it off and sew a neck band on, the first one I’ve ever done. I think it turned out ok, though I made it a bit wider than average to compensate for the overlocking I cut off when I cut the binding off. Yay for new skills, even if they are borne out of desperation! For the arm hole and hem finishing on both I just overlocked the raw edges, turned them under and stitched with my twin needle.

I haven’t given them to mum to try on yet, so I hope the elastic hits at her waist! I really struggled with how to attach the elastic without adding the bulk of a casing, and in the end I just sewed it on with a long straight stitch, stretching the elastic out as I went. At least this will be easy to undo/redo if its too low! The other thing I noticed when I tried them on to check length was how low the armscye dips, though its like that on the original so hopefully she doesn’t mind…Mum is a good 4 inches taller than me, so maybe it isn’t so bad on her.

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This is a photo I took when I was visiting the Cook Islands, it really is paradise! I’m very jealous…