Teal Shift Dress

A few posts ago I mentioned that I was trying to sew more for others, as my wardrobe is rapidly reaching bursting point. I made linen shorts for Hamish, and at the same time I made a Pauline Alice Xerea shift dress for my lovely Mum. She was looking for a nice breezy dress to combat the hot weather we were having, but something that was still stylish and nice enough for the office. I’ve got a few sack and shift dress patterns in my pattern library, so I got her over to have a look, but  wasn’t surprised when she picked Xerea! I thought she would like the pockets and the shape of the dress, and she did. Then she picked out a lovely teal milled linen from The Fabric Store, and I got sewing!

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The first thing I did was lengthen it by about 30cm. As drafted the pattern is really short, and Mum is several inches taller than me, so I thought I would hedge my bets and add loads of length that I could trim back later! It turned out to be about the right length, I trimmed off 2cm and then turned up a 3cm hem to get it sitting just at the knee.

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We also opted not to add the short sleeves on, so I trimmed the armscye back a centimetre or so and then hemmed them with the same bias tape I used around the neckline. This is the third time I’ve made this pattern, and it always comes together really quickly and neatly! I love the princess seams/dior darts/curved pocket combo (not that you can see any of those details particularly well in this plain linen, but they’re there and are really nice), and the V neck at the back is also a lovely detail.

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The only thing I’d change for next time would be to scoop the front neckline out slightly, as Mum finds it slips backwards a bit and can become a bit restrictive, depending on how she’s sitting! She’s worn it heaps, which is gratifying, and we’re talking about trying out a long sleeved woolen version for winter. I think I’d change the back neckline to be a standard high curve, drop the front neckline, and add a centre back seam with an invisible zip for a winter version. Or maybe put a keyhole and button in the back yoke? I’ll need to have a think about it!

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Maybe I’m coming around to sewing for other people, it is nice when you can make something for someone who really appreciates it! It’s a chance to make stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily make for myself either, which can be fun. Though I think my sewing time this year is going to be a bit limited now that I’m back to studying, so it might be a while between sewing projects for other people…

Thanks for modeling for me Mum, I’m glad you like your dress! xx

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Squeezing in one last sundress

When the latest Tessuti pattern popped up on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago I bought it before I even considered that the end of February might not be the best time to be making sundresses! Our summer has been absolutely spectacular though (best one in Wellington for 60 years, apparently), so I thought I would bump it up to the top of my queue and hope I’d get the chance to wear it.


I used a length of milled linen from The Fabric Store (I’m sure you’re all shocked by that choice) which has been in my stash since last summer, just waiting for the right pattern. I love the colour, but I was slightly alarmed when I tried the dress on to check the strap length and realised that it was almost an exact match for my skin! I didn’t realise that I was ‘vintage blush’… Hopefully it doesn’t disappear too much against my torso.


There are some lovely details in this pattern, the top-stitched pockets are very neatly finished, and I love the split hem with its mitred corners! I shortened this pattern in a couple of places, I took an inch off at the waist and another inch half way down the side splits, and then I ended up taking an inch off the upper edge of the front neckline too to compensate for my short upper torso. I also shortened the straps, but I did that by pinning them while I was wearing it so I’m not sure how much I took off them.


I also took it in 1/2” at the top of each of the side seams, but I still have a bit of gaping under the arms. If it fitted any closer I think I would need to add a zip to get in and out of it and I like that it’s an easy pull on style, so I’m just ignoring it! I might try taking a narrow wedge out of the CF on the fold next time too, to see if that helps it sit more snugly in the upper chest.



I made a long skinny fabric tie for a belt, I just cut a 2” length right along the selvage and sewed it into a tube. I was very glad to have my loop tuner when I was trying to get that right side out! Even then it was a bit of a struggle getting all 2m onto the length of the turner, I should have left the opening half way along rather than at the end. I really like it belted, but I’m surprised how much I like it just hanging straight too. I thought it might be too shapeless, especially with the length, but I think it looks pretty stylish really!


I wore it out to the Newtown Festival yesterday, hot off the machine! I stuck a tee shirt under it as it was so sunny and I didn’t want to worry about reapplying that much sunblock, and I think it looks ok layered too. I should maybe stick to plain white tee shirts though, as the striped one definitely shows through the linen. I have plans to make another one (with a few changes) for layering in autumn out of some gingham linen, and I’d love to make a fancy version out of some lush mustard silk CDC that I’ve been hoarding. And maybe another one for next summer, in Caper linen from TFS…

Jedediah Shorts (sharing the linen love around)

Even though I do a fairly brutal wardrobe clear out every 6 months, I’m still reaching the point where my handmade wardrobe is well stocked with the sort of every day basics that I live in, and enough ‘special occasion’ outfits to last me several years (maybe I need to get out more?). Instead of sewing less (ridiculous idea), I’m trying to sew more for others. So far this year I’ve made a shift dress for my Mum, and another pair of Jedediah Shorts for Hamish, both in linen from The Fabric Store.

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This is the third time I’ve made the Jedediah pattern (first and second here), though its the first time for a few years. The notes I made in my other blog posts were okay, but I hadn’t altered the pattern or anything helpful at the time so I was a bit sketchy about exactly what I needed to do. I took a wedge off the side seams at the top, tapering to nothing at mid thigh, and then I added half an inch to the width at the hem front and back (so an extra inch in width for each leg). I also remembered having some weird problems with too much fabric between the pockets and the fly on the trousers that I made, so I took a tiny sliver of fabric out there too.

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I basted them all together and got him to try them on, and they were skin tight. I probably should have remeasured him, rather than going off the numbers I had from years ago…I’ve learned my lesson there! Luckily I was able to let the side seams out all the way down the leg to get the fit he was looking for. I’ll need to go back and add that wedge I initially removed back into the pattern, along with a bit more width down the side seam…the adjustment I made across the front hip worked nicely though, so I’ll keep that!

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In some ways it’s good that these started out a bit snug, as the heavyweight linen I used has relaxed significantly, as linen does. The bum does get a bit baggy in these shorts, but it seems to return to its original shape after a wash! This is the same stuff that I backed my cushions in, but in the gravel colourway, and it’s really nice. It’s smooth and soft, and nicely opaque. No underpants on show here! I sewed these as I would a pair of jeans, with flat felled seams and top-stitching and bar tacks. I was going to put silver rivets at the pockets, but that idea was vetoed before I got the hammer out. The pockets are a striped grey and white stretch cotton that I fished out of the scrap bin. At Hamish’s request, I increased the depth of the pocket by 2”, he wanted them to be deep enough for his iPhone to fit in without it peeking out of the pocket opening. The linen definitely develops stretched points where the corners of his phone put pressure on the fabric, but he doesn’t seem to mind about that!

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The tee shirt he’s wearing here is another one of the GBSB Fashion with Fabric tees that I’ve made (and blogged about) before. This one is also merino, but it’s a super lightweight loop-backed merino/lycra blend remnant that I picked up somewhere. Initially I was going to make myself leggings out of it, but it had a flaw that I couldn’t figure out how to cut around, to Hamish’s gain! He wears the three tee shirts I’ve made from this pattern constantly, it’s rather gratifying. I’m going to make some long sleeved tops for him for winter, I just need to get around to printing out the Strathcona Henley pattern…

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He seems pretty happy with them, he’s certainly been wearing them lots in this hot weather! Zelda was in peak fiend mode the morning we took these pictures, she was just determined to get involved! She’s always worried about missing out on something…

Landers in Linen

Oh look, more linen! It really has been the star of my sewing this summer, and I’m not done with it yet… I’m sure you probably recognise the pattern I used for these trousers, they’re the True Bias Lander Pants and they’ve been everywhere since they were released last year! I was immediately drawn to the shape of the cropped version, and since I’ve had such good wear out of my Flint Trousers I was keen to give the Landers a go.

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I used a length of cotton/linen twill that has been in my stash for a few years, I bought it from a designer ends sale for cheap. I really liked the pale grey colour, and the texture of the twill, and the cotton/linen fibre blend is really nice to wear in the heat. Its a pretty soft fabric though, and is possibly a bit lightweight for these trousers. I’m not too happy with how the linen pulls out of shape, especially around the button fly. I’ve combated the worst of the pulling (just below the waistband) by sewing a hook and eye to the fly shield, and that’s solved the worst of it, but I think if I make them in a lightweight fabric again I’ll use a more sturdy interfacing, and I’ll interface the front of the trousers where the buttonholes are sewn as well as the fly shield! Next time I’ll have a fiddle with the crotch curve in the front pattern piece too, I could do with a little bit more room there and hopefully that’ll help with the pulling around the button fly too.

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I do love the details on this pattern, between the big patch pockets front and back and the exposed button fly they definitely don’t look like anything else in my wardrobe! They were really fun to sew up, and the button fly meant that they were a pretty quick project too. They were pretty snug through the hip and around my bum when I basted the side seams together, but I let them out to a 5/8” seam allowance (rather than the 1” allowance that the pattern gives to allow for adjustments) around the hip, which helped. To be honest, I think I could have left them at the original seam allowance, as the cotton/linen blend relaxes quite a bit with wear, but hopefully they won’t get too baggy around the bum…

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When I finished these, I really wasn’t sure about them. I think it was mainly the colour, I never wear such pale colours on my bottom half! I was also a bit stuck with how to wear them, but after paring them with the range of cropped tops I’ve sewn this summer I’m feeling better about them. I thought I’d be wearing them with all of my striped tee shirts, but I didn’t think about the fact that most of my black and white stripes look like plain grey tee shirts from a distance, and it was all a bit monochromatic for me! I clearly need some tee shirts in more definite colours. I’m really keen to make another pair in some non-stretch denim I have in my stash, which I think I’ll find much easier to wear. I’m looking forward to going full 1970’s with them!

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Speaking of cropped tops, this is my latest one! I was thinking of just making another cropped Willow Tank with this lush paprika milled linen from The Fabric Store, but I decided to branch out after I saw Emma from Emma’s Atelier make the free Harvest Top pattern from Peppermint Magazine. I made a few changes to the pattern, but I’m really happy with how it’s turned out! I didn’t add on the bottom panel to the tee to make it cropped, and then I used a 1 1/4” hem on it. I also shortened the armscye and sleeve cuffs by 2”, when I sewed them up as drafted I could see my entire bra through the armhole when I lifted up my arms. Not quite the look I was going for! I used the bamboo flower buttons from Arrow Mountain down the back, which I love. They’re just sewn through both layers of the placket, there’s enough room in the top and neckline for me to just pull it over my head. The buttons were initially on a chambray Southport Dress which I made to take to the UK last year, but I must have graded the seams around the bias facings too harshly and it’s started to come apart in the wash. I didn’t love it enough to try mending it, so I was happy to rescue the buttons for this! I’m considering cutting the bodice off the dress and just keeping the skirt, otherwise I’ll just recycle the fabric into a tank top or something little. I think the Harvest tee is a good wee pattern, it took less than 1m of fabric to make this cropped version, and I can think of a few other versions I could make with various modifications. No button back, shaped cuffs (get rid of those wings!), colour blocking, changing the neckline…

Not-quite-basics

I made this outfit up in that weird, limbo-ish period between Christmas and New Year, when I wasn’t reading my Christmas books or watching the cricket. Historically, I’ve been productive in the last week of December, but I’ve also made a bunch of stuff that has been ill-judged or that have just been total wadders (most haven’t made it to the blog). Fortunately, this Christmas I made two things which I’m totally in love with!

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This is the Kalle shirt from Closet Case Patterns, made up in linen from The Fabric Store (second item in my Summer of Linen series!). This is technically the second time I’ve used this pattern, but it’s the first time I’ve used it as drafted. I picked the cropped version (obviously), with the full length exposed button band and the full collar. there are a lot of options with this pattern, I love it! This linen has a much crisper hand than the rayon crepe I used for my first tee shirt version, so it holds the shape of the body and hem much better.

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I love that back pleat and the kimono sleeves and cuffs! I’m also really pleased with the length at the front, I think its perfect to wear with anything which sits at my natural waist. I’m slightly terrified to wear this shirt anywhere that I might come into contact with any food or drink or anything else which might stain it…I’ll need to get over it though, because it’s an excellent top to wear when it’s all hot and sticky and I don’t want anything to touch my skin.

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I think this is one of the neatest collars I’ve ever sewn, mostly due to the linen I think! It just holds a press so beautifully, and is such a lovely stable fabric. I was surprised by how high the collar stand was though, it’s almost twice as high as the one from the Melilot shirt. I don’t mind the way it looks, but it feels like a more formal collar. It definitely sits up a lot more! Irritatingly, I managed to get that top button hole slightly too far from the edge of the stand, and the top button looks really off centre. I never manage to get that one in the right place! I extended it as much as I thought I could get away with (after I had sewn and opened the original buttonhole), but it still isn’t where it should be. I used my favourite 1/2″ shell buttons, I like the subtle shine against the linen. It’s also just long enough to tuck in, if I ever want to go totally preppy!

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While most of this post is about the shirt, this skirt is one of my favourite things that I’ve made recently! It’s my favourite skirt pattern, v1247, and the fabric is a gorgeous indigo dyed Japanese cotton that I bought at Ray Stitch in London when Katie took me shopping last year. I bought it intending to make a Kochi Kimono out of it, but I once again forgot how narrow Japanese fabrics are and I couldn’t tetris my way out of not having enough fabric this time. I’m slightly sad about not getting my indigo kimono, but I’m so happy that I thought to make it up as this skirt instead! I lengthened it the same amount as I did  for my denim version, 4″ in length with a 1” hem, which I think puts it at the perfect length.

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I bound all of the seams with some vintage turquoise bias tape, and blind hemmed it. I felt like I should pull all of the stops for this gorgeous fabric! I have another length of the same fabric, but with crosses woven into it rather than the dashes on this fabric. I bought it to make a pair of trousers, but maybe it’ll become the kimono/lightweight jacket I wanted this piece to become…

I’m really happy with both of these garments, I think they fit really well into my summer wardrobe, and both are things I really want to wear! I’m planning so many versions of the Kalle shirt, I want to make another cropped version but with the hem straightened off, and a version of the shirt dress inspired by this stunning version made by Sasha from Secondo Piano (ok, it might just be a straight copy). I’d also be really keen to make a long sleeved version of the tunic length one if I could find some wool flannel or something for winter…

All the linen over here please!

It’s so hot. So muggy. So unlike Wellington. We’re all wandering around in a sticky, grouchy, slightly stunned sort of way, totally not used to weather like this (we’d move to Auckland if we wanted humidity!). Obviously this is the perfect weather for a Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan in crisp linen from The Fabric Store.

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I picked up this 1.5m remnant of linen last time I was at TFS (I can never help myself, their remnant bins are so good), and decided I would use it to make a test run of the Charlie before I used the gorgeous piece of Japanese double gauze which I bought specifically to make view B of the pattern. I opted for view A for this linen, as I thought the architectural pleats would work better with it’s crisp hand than the gathers.

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Charlie was an enjoyable dress to sew! I love the kimono sleeves, and the faced neckline. The waistband insert was enjoyably fiddly to sew, I think sometimes I sew too many basic-straight-line garments so I should push myself more. I used the higher armholes, though you can still see my bra through them. I’ll just make sure I’m wearing a black bra with it, I’m not overly bothered! I also added the waist ties from view B, which I’m glad about. The dress itself is pretty straight up and down, and I like the hint of shape that the ties give. I also like that they’re long enough to tie in the front, the linen ties into a lovely crisp bow which I think looks really cute with the insert and the pleats.

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to tie it, I quite like it tied together in a bow at the front without wrapping around my waist. It gives the dress a little bit more shape than not being tied up at all, but is more cocoon shaped (which is great in this heat!). I don’t think I’ll ever wear it untied, simply because I don’t know what I’d do with the ties! Maybe when I make my double gauze version I’ll make the ties separate, or figure out a way to make them removable.

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Tied in front
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untied (with tails)

I’m really liking deep V necklines at the moment, surprisingly enough! I’ve always preferred a scoop neck, but I’ve sewn a couple of things with this shape neckline lately and I think its really pretty. Good for showing off some of my shorter necklaces too!

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The only issue I have with this one is that it’s a touch snug at around my hips, but luckily linen is pretty forgiving and it’s already relaxed and become more comfortable! I could have let the seams out a touch, but then I would have had to mess with the pockets, and I was too lazy. it isn’t that bad, I’ll just need to remember for next time!

Linen is having a definite moment in my summer sewing, I’ve made 3 garments in it so far with two more in the pipeline. I could have more, but I’ve put a few restrictions of my fabric buying for the next wee while, and I don’t have any more in my stash! I’m going to try to sew 3 pieces of fabric from my stash before I’m allowed to add a metre, so we’ll see how that goes. If I start counting from the beginning of my christmas break, that gives me 1.5m of new fabric owing…I’ll just avoid the Fabric Store for a little while!