“There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending on how far beyond zebra you go.”*

You might have worked out by now that I quite like the Papercut La Sylphide pattern.


(La Sylphide the first, second, third)

Hey guess what?

I made another one!😉

I was in The Fabric Store when I really shouldn’t have been (my meeting up that end of town finished early so actually it’s my clients fault…) when I saw this cute bolt of zebra printed silk. I picked it up and carried it around for a bit and by my second store lap the chubby little zebras had convinced me I wasn’t leaving without them.

I bought 2 meters along with some dark blue poly-cotton blend. I already knew this was going to be my 4th La Sylphide.

I underlined the dress bodice and lined the skirt with the blue poly-cotton. I kept the side seams free below the waist and hemmed both skirts separately but caught the lining into the button packet at center front.

I “Frenched” the skirt side seams (that’s a sewing term) and we all know French seaming on silk goes better when paired with white wine.

I don’t really need the instructions anymore but I still find hemming is the worst part of this pattern for me, especially with naughty fabric and ALL my versions have been made with naughty fabric! To make it even worse this time I had to do two hems.


So I hung the dress for several weeks before I could be bothered to be extra sure it had fully dropped. Then I had an epiphany and decided to hem the silk with hug-snug.

Then I just turned the dress inside out and pressed the lining hem up just a little bit shorter than the silk and stitched a simple double-fold hem.

I’m really glad I underlined/lined the silk. The poly-cotton is nice and soft to wear and it should help the dress last longer.

I had a lot of help from Harriet for my photoshoot.

She loves being outside with her humans and the Kowhai tree was just starting to flower so that means lots of birds to watch and unsuccessfully stalk.

I chose simple black buttons from Spotlight.

Spot my creepy stalker cat…and I’ll leave you with my failed twirly pictures.


Pattern – Papercut La Sylphide, size S

Fabric – Chubby zebra silk and blue poly-cotton from The Fabric Store, Wellington. Buttons from Spotlight, Porirua.

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

*Dr Seuss

99 Hot Air Balloons

I recently completed my first Singer Australia/New Zealand Blog post – I’d love it if you popped over and read that post here, maybe leave a comment🙂

You might remember seeing me cut this dress out when I reviewed my new Singer scissors.

I’m sharing it here too (because blog) but in the interests of not repeating myself entirely and this being my first Pauline Alice make I thought I’d make this post more of a pattern review.

The Cami Dress has a fitted bodice with front and back waist darts, a classic shirt collar and buttons on the front from the waist up. The high-waisted full skirt is gathered and has inseam pockets and a side zipper (“for comfort”?).

My pattern was bought some time ago and I noticed that the line art on the front page of the instructions pdf incorrectly shows a view of the dress with a waistband.

It’s cute with a waistband, so perhaps my next version will have one…

I bought my pattern as a pdf and the nice thing about this particular pdf pattern is that you only have to print and assemble the bodice, sleeves and collar. The skirt is a simple drindle rectangle gathered to the width of the bodice. The dimensions for this are given in the instructions for the overall size and where to place the notches for the CF, pockets and zipper placement.

It’s great that we don’t have to waste a heap of paper printing a simple rectangle (Burda I’m looking at you!) and, although it’s a simple thing, I appreciate that I can be trusted with some measurements and then left to get on with it.

Instructions are given for both regular and invisible zipper insertion. I made version A with the short sleeves and I used an invisible zipper.

I was expecting the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me and I always need a bit more over my bottom. To get the longest possible skirt out of my fabric I cut out all my patterned pieces first and then I divided the left over fabric length in half. This was 140cm so I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. When I hemmed the dress I cut off 9cm so next time I know I’ll need to cut the skirt rectangle 61cm long.

In general the instructions are quite thorough with good diagrams except for when we get to the collar where they become confused and a little convoluted while including the dubious suggestion to clip all the way around the neckline.

It had been a while since I’d sewn this type of collar so I decided to ignore the instructions and consulted my Reader Digest Complete Book of Sewing instead. It’s not the first time I’ve resorted to this page while sewing a collar using Indie pattern directions…

If you’re looking for a general sewing book to supplement your sewing knowledge this is my number one recommendation. I bought my older copy second-hand but you can also still buy this book brand new, it’s all the same great content in a new dust jacket.

There is also some confusion around button placement. One image shows the buttons on the left, then later they are shown on the right. Even the finished garment photos on the website show dresses with buttons on differing sides.

I’ve accidentally sewn buttons on to the “wrong” side of a blouse before and my brain did not like it. So I made sure to place mine on the traditional side and while it might not matter to some once the buttons are done up I find this dress tricky to get on and off unless I undo the buttons as well as the zipper.

Speaking of buttons, mine are abalone with a brass surround and I think they were a Fabric-a-Brac find. I’ve been dying to use these so I’m very happy that they suit this fabric. I tried out several top-stitching colours (yellow, dark green, coral and orange) before I settled on the light green.

This dress was stitched 95% on my 1946 Singer 99k – the remaining 5% is these buttons and their respective button holes.

I couldn’t get my vintage button-hole attachment to work correctly so I used my modern Elna instead and while I was at it I stitched the buttons on too because I hate hand stitching and I’ve not lost a machine stitched button yet.

So that’s it!

I really like my finished dress, there are a few modifications I would make if I did sew it again (the pockets feel a tad low, it’s a bit tight across the ladies), but I wore it to work last week with a belt and got several unsolicited compliments. Yay.

Contrast pockets!


Pattern – Pauline Alice Cami Dress, size 42 graded to 44 at the waist.

Fabric – Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

Next time I will lengthen the bodice by 2 – 3cms, do an FBA, insert the pockets a little higher and make them slightly deeper. The skirt needs to be cut 61cm in length.


Time Machine Sewing, episode 4: Summer Robes

It’s baaaaack!

Because if I don’t blog it, then it never happened.

I made Nerdy Husband a summer robe for his birthday at the start of the year and because unselfish sewing must be balanced I also made myself one.

Then we wore them all summer long…and last summer, it was loooong…don’t worry, I washed them occasionally. But basically unless we were at work or sleeping, or they were in the wash, we were in our new summer robes. So I just never got around to photographing them.

When winter finally showed up we swapped back to our winter robes, fluffy warm rtw robes that are next on the sewing hit-list…it’s long list, don’t hold your breath…and so I gave our summer robes a final wash, pressed them, hung them in my sewing room to be finally photographed and blogged about and then promptly forgot.

Winter is on its way out again, Spring is here (well, it will fade in and out for a few more weeks yet) so I thought I’d better get these on the blog before we start to live in them again!

So, NH requested his robe and we went to Spotlight where he picked out some dinosaur cotton that was on special and I also grabbed McCall’s 6231 – the first envelope pattern I’ve purchased from Spotlight in a looooong time.

I cut out view B minus the shorts and because the robe is unlined I decided to flat fell the shoulder seams and then I used Hug Snug seam binding on all other seams and hems.

I also used Hug Snug to finish the inside edge of the collar.

And that’s about it – here are some finished photos, courtesy of Scarlett:

It has pockets, remember this for later…

The sleeve pattern piece looked really short and I couldn’t find any finished measurements either in the instructions or on the pattern tissue. From the line art the sleeve looks like it sits right at the edge of the shoulder so I was convinced there was an error in the pattern.

So to be safe I added some ridiculous amount of length (I can’t remember how much) and as you can see in the photo below the excessive shoulder width means that the sleeve ends up halfway down the upper arm. I checked my pattern and I’ve removed the yellow paper and stuck the pattern piece back together as per normal so I’m guessing I must have chopped all that extra length off during the first fitting!

Anyway, I’m pretty proud of it and Nerdy Husband loves his robe so here are some close ups:

The only pattern modification: a handy hanging loop at the back of the neck🙂

My robe is the Named Asaka Kimono and I shopped my stash for fabric. I bought some Michael Miller “Children at Play” cotton in July last year and instantly regretted it. I mean, I love it, but it’s far too light for me to wear everyday, I’m such a grub!

However it is perfect for this and Harri agreed. She has such good taste.

I only had 3 yards and the pattern called for 3.9 but I love a good challenge…and yeah it didn’t fit! That’s ok, I managed to piece the collar front on the outside and for the inside collar I use a contrasting colour, left overs from my Tangram Bleuet which made me very happy.

I might have managed it if my fabric didn’t have such an obvious print direction and what annoys me is that the cutting layout shows the two piece sleeve cut upside down and yet in the website sample photo they clearly have been cut right way up with the pattern…

Anyway, I really shouldn’t complain, I managed to get my robe out of 25% less fabric than recommended😉

I didn’t lengthen the pattern at all despite reading a few comments online about it being super short. It looks pretty short on the Named model but a quick tissue fit check and then with the fabric and I thought it looked ok.

I really liked the long sleeves with the split so I made them up as per the pattern to begin with and then I realised they were going to be a pain. I run around in my robe after I get home from work so I’d probably catch myself on fire while making dinner or something equally unbelievable but highly likely. As well as being a grub I am also a klutz! I tried sewing the split shut but the end of the sleeve is huge…so finally I lopped them off just below my elbow and sewed the split shut up to the crook of my elbow. Now I have the best of both worlds: shorter sleeves that I won’t set on fire and sexy arm split😉

Scarlett’s turn!:

More flat felled shoulder seams and Hug Snug on the other seams and hems. I own many colours of Hug Snug🙂

I also got hanging loop at the back of the neck and remember those pockets? I used the McCall’s pattern piece and added them to my robe too. They hold a surprising number of clothes pegs.

Pockets on everything.

What’s that Nikki? Oh you want to see me wearing it?

Oh alright then!😉

Dirty cell phone pics but at least my toenails match…


Patterns –

Fabric –

Other notions – Hug Snug seam binding

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Honeymoon Vogue 1353

Recently, Finished Items have been far and few between, as have blog posts about them. A little while ago I tried to concentrate on Works In Progress but two in a row turned into big fails so one weekend I exclaimed “harumpfh!” and clean slated my cutting table.

Then I picked out a new dress pattern, paired it with the fabric I bought with my Sewing Indie Month prize and got to work.

Crappy night-time cellphone photo, sorry

I still have WIPs but most of them can wait. I’ll just pick them up when the mood strikes and there is no guilt.


So, my new dress: I love it so much I immediately cut out a second one in a fabric I’m calling “hidden tigers“. I can’t wait to wear it and see if anyone notices.


This is a Vogue 1353 Kay Unger in Cotton and Steel Honeymoon by Sarah Watts – Morning Dew (black) that I bought it from Blackbird Fabrics.

I love Cotton and Steel fabric.

The dress pattern features a scooped neckline with small pleats in the front, a princess seamed bodice, pleated skirt, invisible back zipper and is fully lined with a deep hem facing.

I have an extensive collection of “Big 4” patterns but it’s been a while since I’ve shuffled through them. I actually grabbed this out of the drawers after seeing Nikki’s and both of Sandra’s versions (1 and 2).

I underlined in a black cotton/silk blend.

My only regret is that I intended to ignore the instructions, which leave you hand stitching the lining at the shoulder seam, and use the “burrito” method to attach the lining. It’s a neat sewing magic trick I learnt courtesy of Colette Patterns while I was making my Birthday Rooibos. Google it😉

Unfortunately after I tried the dress on for the first time I was so excited about how great it made me feel after a couple of sewing bombs that I just zoomed ahead until it was too late to turn back. Next time…

What I love most about this pattern is the deep hem facing, it’s about 14cm deep when finished.

This is the first time I’ve hemmed this way and it’s great! It adds weight extra and body to the bottom of this dress which really helps flare the skirt out below the pleats.

You are supposed to hand stitch the top of the hem facing with fancy thread but…bahahahahaha!



Pattern – Vogue 1353 Kay Unger, size 14 graded to 16 at the waist

Fabric – Cotton and Steel Honeymoon by Sarah Watts – Morning Dew (black) from Blackbird Fabrics and black cotton/silk blend from The Fabric Store, Wellington

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing


Shiny sharp scissors, snick, snick, snick! (and a giveaway)

I’m excited to share with you guys that I am going to be working with Singer Sewing Company, blogging on their Australian/New Zealand website.


I’m being joined by Christina of Little Pickers who is based in Tasmania. We’ll both be blogging about our sewing over on the Singer site with a new post every three months so I hope you’ll pop over and see what we’re up to.

To kick things off here on my blog I’ve got a little goodie to share with you all and two more to give away, one each to a lucky Kiwi and Aussie follower🙂

New scissors!

Singer scissors (of course!) in a beautiful heritage tin.

We’ll get to the scissors in a moment because initially I was more excited about the tin! It came protected in a cardboard sleeve and it matches all my vintage Singer accessory boxes🙂

Squee! Clever packaging makes me super happy.

But we are here to talk about scissors. Here is my current fabric cutting arsenal, it consists of a pair of Mundial scissors and a 28mm rotary cutter which I use with pattern weights and various rulers.

Rotary cutting is a fairly new revelation for me. I use it for all the naughty fabrics. You know the ones. They’re slinky and/or stretchy and just looking a them moves them off-grain. Rotary cutters on a big cutting mat are perfect for zipping around naughty fabrics without disturbing them.

For fabrics that behave, stable ones such as cotton, I still prefer the satisfying snick snick of a nice heavy pair of sharp, all-metal scissors.

The Singer scissors are similar in size to my Mundials with nice sharp tips and maybe the teensiest bit heavier. I like the weight, I think it gives you more control.

So to give these shiny new scissors a thorough review I used them to cut out the project that I’ll be sewing up for my first Singer blog post – it’s the Pauline Alice Cami Dress in the Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons that I mentioned in my last post.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to make scissor action shots sexy but I set up my tripod and got to work.

The dress pattern includes only the bodice, collar and sleeve pieces. The skirt piece is drafted from the instructions. It’s basically a drindl, a rectangle that you gather to fit the bodice width. There are measurements included in the instructions including where to place your notches for center front, zipper and pocket placement.

I actually really like that there isn’t a huge waste of paper just for a rectangle. It also makes me feel like Pauline Alice takes me seriously as a home sewist. I can work out a little bit of maths (or in this case, follow simple directions) and mark straight onto my fabric.

I think the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me plus I always need a bit more over my bottom so I pinned all my pieces in place and then just divided my left over fabric length in half. I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. After I hem this dress I’ll make a note of how tall my rectangles need to be for next time.Cutting out is one of the sewing tasks I find most tiresome. That’s why I usually cut out 3 or 4 projects in one go but only having to cut out the bodice pieces and with shiny new scissors made this feel really quick.

As you would expect, the scissors were super sharp and made that satisfying snick snick I love. My only complaint would be that they were a little stiff at first but I cut out two more projects after this and they have loosened up.

They are a great pair of scissors and if you’re looking for a decent pair for your fabric cutting needs I highly recommend them. Good quality sewing scissors are an investment and if you look after them (read: they don’t go near a piece of paper. Ever.) all-metal scissors last practically forever.

Oh hey, do you need some new scissors?😉 Would you like to win your own pair of sharp and shiny Singer scissors?

Yeah you would…so here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Share a photo of yourself using your sad sewing scissors on Instagram – maybe they are blunt, maybe they are cheap, or maybe they don’t exist at all!
  • Hashtag #ineedsingerscissors and tell us in a few words why you need your own pair of Singer sewing scissors
  • Tag @thecuriouskiwi and @singer_sewing_aus_nz
  • Don’t forget to mention where you live (Australia/New Zealand)

You have until 4th July then we’ll pick one Kiwi and one Aussie to win their own pair and then we can snick snick away together and sew. All. The. Things.

Sorry this competition is only open to New Zealand and Australian readers.

Happy cutting


* I was given the set of Singer Dressmaking Scissors you see me using in this post to review as part of my work with Singer Sewing Company Australia New Zealand. All opinions expressed is this post are honest and my own. I freely chose to review this product because I genuinely believe it is a good product, I enjoyed using it and will continue to use it in the future.


Earlier this month I saw an advert for Armageddon returning to Wellington. That means it’s been almost a year since I first wore my still unblogged #AnnaforArmageddon…so I thought I better get some photos🙂

In late July last year Armageddon was on in Wellington and for the first time NH and I decided we would go…it was the perfect excuse to finally sew up my Dr Who printed fabric from Spoonflower. I had already decided it would make a great Anna dress and, having made two previously, I knew I could whip one up really quickly…we decided we would go on to Armageddon on the Saturday morning, nice and early before it got too crazy so of course I started sewing my dress on Friday night.

Now I’m just going to pause and talk about my fabric for a bit: It’s called “The Doctor’s Favourite Things” and I ordered it on Kona cotton.

I love that the Dr Who references are designed into a damask pattern so that the symbols aren’t immediately obvious to the uninitiated. I bought it exactly one year previously (July 2014) and I remember when it arrived I was disappointed at the colour vibrancy. To the point that I thought I had ordered the wrong colour combination. I am in design so I know that the computer screen can easily misrepresent true colour but all the photos on the Spoonflower site look much more intense.

Nighttime photos of unimpressed black cats require heavy Instagram filtering – keep reading for more colour-accurate fabric photos😉

So I shrugged that off and put it into my stash for a future project. I pre-washed it on the Thursday (I am not usually a wash-as-I-buy seamstress) and as I was cutting out I noticed little white dots on the fabric.

On closer inspection these were areas where there was no ink. It looked like the fabric had pilling on it before printing and the pills had come off in the wash, along with the ink that was printed on them. I didn’t notice this when the fabric first arrived or before prewashing. There are quite a lot of them and it was really disappointing to discover these flaws halfway through cutting out. I was working quickly and concentrating on keeping the print mirrored while capturing my favourite parts without any accidental Seal-of-Rassilon-beewbs or a poorly placed Tardis.

I kept sewing and never contacted Spoonflower about my experience because I assumed that after having owned the fabric for a whole year, then already washing and cutting it they probably wouldn’t be interested in hearing my issues. However as I was drafting this post I decided that it would be unfair for me to not give them a chance to respond, in particular to the white dots.

Here’s what they had to say (click to enlarge):

So I sent some photos, lots of photos, like these:

And the reply:

Which I am sure you will agree is a great outcome. Lesson learnt: Wash and inspect Spoonflower fabric as soon as you receive it, contact them within 60 days if there are any issues.

I didn’t buy the Dr Who print again as my dress was all finished. I bought Hot Air Balloons instead, inspired by a dress i saw in a window:

I chose the cotton poplin this time and I washed my new fabric immediately. No white dots this time. Still not impressed with the colour vibrancy but free fabric is free fabric.

So anyway, back to the dress, which sewed up the same as my previous two and I wore it to Armageddon with sneakers because the Tenth Doctor is my favourite.

I even found a friendly Darlek.

These more recent photos were taken at Aotea Lagoon, I saw the phone booth on a previous visit and it seemed appropriate.

And in this image we can see that the photographer failed to notice that I didn’t quite get the zipper all the way up but if you squint you can see my label on a purple cotton rectangle that I attached to the facing…oh and slightly below average pattern matching on the CB zipper seam…

The problem with telephone booths and Dr Who themed dresses is that they are begging to be Photoshopped…

Wouldn’t you agree?

Too far?😉

We didn’t go back to Armageddon this year. I found last years event pretty unimpressive. It was held in the concourse of Westpac Stadium, that’s the area immediately inside that you walk around while you try to find the right entrance to your seats.

Concourses are not event spaces, they are circulation.

We arrived just before doors opened and it was ridiculously busy. We were herded clockwise around the concourse past all the various stands, 20% of which were interesting but we couldn’t get to because of the crowds. The other 80% were stalls selling cheap knockoffs of nerdy toys. We decided to do one lap and then head back to the stalls that had caught our eye. At the end of our circuit we found the way back to the start was blocked off for the zombie run so the only option for another lap was to turn around and fight our way back against the flow or exit completely and queue back up outside in the rain.

We exited and went home.

But I got an amazing dress and yes I do wear it to work. You never know when Darleks might show up unannounced😉


Pattern – By Hand London Anna Dress, variation 3, straight size 12

Fabric –The Doctor’s Favourite Things” on Kona cotton from Spoonflower

Other notions – Invisible zipper, a smidge of fusible interfacing

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Posh as Cushions

Hello readers🙂

Well I haven’t managed to photograph any of my most recent dresses but I have acquired another vintage machine…or two. The “or two” will most likely get repaired and flicked on as it was only $1.00 and not at all what I thought it was when I picked it up. The other comes close to ticking all the boxes on a list for a machine that I thought unlikely to ever find in NZ, let alone at a price I could afford/justify.

I wanted a late 1800s hand-cranked vibrating shuttle machine, perhaps a Frister and Rossmann and what I got was a late 1800s hand-cranked vibrating shuttle Frister and Rossmann machine re-badged by Beale and Company (Australia) because…well in the late 1800s let’s just say we weren’t too pleased with Germany so other companies re-badge their machines to keep sales going.

I spent way too much to get her and she’s definitely got some history – which is a polite way of saying she’s old and she looks it!

I have no year of manufacture but she does sew. She also needs a new bobbin winder bumper and a replacement key for the case which is possibly oak. The machine base is also oak and needing some preemptive borer treatment. Ugh, borer, why do you eat all the pretty timber?!

The case has the the most beautiful mixed timber inlay which makes up for the extremely worn gold leaf decoration on the machine body and distinct lack of pearl inlay that I’ve seen on other models.

And in other exciting news…#vintagesewingmachine #newoldsewingmachine #sewcialist

A photo posted by Melissa (@thecuriouskiwi) on

I want to catch up by posting all my vintage machines in the order that I acquired them but this gorgeous girl makes me want to just drop everything…but I will be good, do my research, buy my parts, get her sewing smoothly and enjoy the journey🙂

Also I sewed some cushion covers!

If you follow me on Instagram then you would have seen these photos already:

I bought several different fabrics a while ago from fabric.com after going shopping and not finding a single cushion cover I liked (and just as an aside, curtains will be next…, ugh, home dec sewing, why do you mock me?!)

I cut them all out the weekend after the fabric arrived and bought zippers the following week but I put off sewing them up, well, because I find straight line sewing so BORING!

Last weekend, after some not-so-subtle hints from NH, I sucked it up and tackled them production line style. I knew if I sewed them up individually I’d finish two, maybe three, then give up and find an excuse to sew a dress instead. So I did all the pressing, then the overlocking, then zippers and finally outside seams and in about 2 hours (with dinner and wine drinks breaks) they were done!

#DONE! #homedecsewing #timeforadrink 🍷

A photo posted by Melissa (@thecuriouskiwi) on


They look super chubby because the inserts I bought were a little flat so I double stuffed them🙂 They look great on the couch but will look even better on the new couch scheduled for purchase after the kitchen reno.

So that’s a little update. I’ve been trying to get back into my blogging, I enjoy writing about my sewing and my machines and while I’ve never been a post-a-day kind of blogger I do miss writing here.

I should also mention that Kat and I have been super busy over on The Monthly Stitch gearing up for Indie Pattern Month. It’s a lot of work but it always gives me a sew-jo boost and it’s a lot of fun to give away so many prizes.

As with previous years we’ve got four contests running during June with lots of great prizes from 29 fabulous sponsors. Everything you need to know is here.

This year we’ve also been working hard to try something new- we’re launching three different PDF pattern bundles for sale, one every two weeks, so that you can get lots of indie inspiration and patterns at a heavily discounted price. We launched the first bundle yesterday, you can check it out here. We also have an FAQ post that explains how the bundles work (launch dates etc) and how you can get some sneak peeks of what will be in each bundle.

We’re really looking forward to seeing all the great Indie Pattern Month entries this year and we hope you love the bundle sales too.

Happy sewing🙂