A Lady Skater in Merino

Before I tell you about my newest dress (read: newly photographed!) can I please direct your attention over to the Sewing Indie Month website where voting is now open for all three categories: Dresses to the NinesEveryday Casual, and Pattern Hacking.

I don’t like to enter this style of popularity contest but I worked really hard on my Betty dress so I’ve entered it into Dressed to the Nines. I’d love it if you popped over for a look and if you like my dress the most, please vote for me by clicking on the little heart in the top right of the image :)

Then go check out the other two competitions because there’s some great sewing there too.

Ok, on to a tale about a summer…last summer…NH and I went for lunch on the waterfront. It was a good summer, actually we went to the waterfront for lunch several times, but this one time (at band camp) while waiting to cross the road I was admiring the dress of the girl in front of us. Nothing crazy special, just a pretty striped jersey dress. NH saw me looking and commented that I would look good in a dress like that and so I looked a bit closer, realised it was actually just a Lady Skater and decided I would make one.

It’s taken me a while but here it is.

I have a lot of stripes in my stash, most of them from various trips to Levana’s Factory Outlet in Levin. I chose this merino and went with the 3/4 sleeves because it was almost winter when I cut it out. Merino is so warm and lightweight. I love this colour combination which I thought would also look wicked with tights and boots.

The hardest part of this project was lining up the stripes as I cut. They were a little uncooperative and quite off grain but I wrangled them in line with the overlocker as I stitched.

I finally got around to sewing all the pieces together at this year’s inaugural NISM. It was so fast and now I need to make some summery versions quick smart.

This pattern come with two sets of instructions: A six page “Full photo tutorial for visual learners” and a one and a half page, text-only  “Crib sheet for Advanced Bad*sses”. It’s nice that you have two options and you can select which set matches your own skill level, or swap between them.

In reality I found the photographic instructions really drawn out and distracting – a clear sign that I should use the other instruction set instead.

I think the patterned fabric with white back was a good visual choice (right side/wrong side was very clear) but then it was often shown on an equally patterned background which I thought was a poor choice and confusing at first glance. 

I worked with the “crib sheet” for almost all of the construction. I used my sewing machine to secure the elastic to the neck and shoulders, then 4-thread overlocking all the seams.

I did have to check the photographic instructions when attaching the neck band. There is no instruction regarding which side the front notch at the neck should be marked on, or which shoulder to sew first. So I got myself a bit confused because I had marked my notch on the left and when the instructions said to sew one shoulder, I stitched the right shoulder.

It doesn’t matter which side you mark the notch (indicating CF of the neck band) or which shoulder you sew first, they just need to both be on the same side. So I moved my notch (read: pin) to the opposite side and then everything made sense again. 

If you are wondering how that works out, the ends of the neck band are then caught in the opposite shoulder for a tidy finish.

So apart from that the rest of the dress was quick. I improvised on what colour to use for the overlocking by using ALL THE COLOURS.

My awesome diagonal pattern matching in action!

We took these photos in Nina’s garden after a delicious high tea.

I need to make about 3 more of these, so comfy to wear and easy to throw on.


Pattern – Kitschy Koo Lady Skater, 3/4 length sleeve variation, size 5

No changes, no changes for next time, easy :)

Fabric – 100% Merino, Levana, $18.00/m bought 29.11.2014

Heeeere’s Nikki!

Paparazzi Fascinator

This post covers the making of my fascinator for my Betty WOW dress.

The initial concept was simple – make some miniature cardboard cameras and attach them to a base. I bought heaps of coloured cardboard, some foam board and began by making boxes of various sizes.

I also picked up a white fascinator base from Made Marion, some blue tulle and battery power fairy lights.

I planned for 5 cameras and spent a bit of time each night after dinner decorating them to match cameras from the fabric. I made sure one of the cameras was big enough to accommodate the fairy light battery pack.

The Polaroid camera is my absolute favourite! I liked the “modern” green camera the least but I wanted some variety.

The decoration took a lot longer than expected so it wasn’t until Saturday morning, the day of the WOW show, that I began to assemble them. Keep in mind I also still needed to under-stitch my dress facings and hem it but I was sure this would only take me an hour and the fascinator wouldn’t take much longer, hot glue gun at the ready!

The previous night NH suggested I include some film negatives in my fascinator which was a brilliant idea and sent me digging through my boxes full of old uni projects until I found some.

I got to work nice and early:

Harri helped…a lot…

I started by covering the plain white base with some left over fabric and I stitched bias to the exposed edge. Then I attached the comb by hand stitching through all layers.

I played with adding the cameras in different configurations as well as some blue tulle and lengths of film. I used masking tape to mock up the positions. I spent over an hour playing around and taping bits together but I was getting really frustrated, nothing was working.

So I stopped for a bit and finished off my dress instead.

Sometimes when you have a problem that needs solving the best solution is to stop actively thinking about it and do something else. Your brain will continue to work at it in the background. This is called passive thinking and if you feel like you’ve been hitting a brick wall while working on a problem it can really help you find a solution.

So I returned to my fascinator and instantly realised that I was just trying to cram way too many ideas into one small thing. My base was too large, the camera fabric made it too busy and the blue tulle made me grumpy.

I cut a smaller circle from some spare corrugated cardboard and used my remaining bias to finish the edges. I pulled out my hot glue gun to attach the comb but I also stitched it as back up.

Next I picked my three favourite cameras and played around with the film, creating loops inside loops and attached them like feathers.

Things went much smoother after this stripping back. It was a hard call, the biggest camera that I sized to hold a battery pack for the fairy lights got ditched along with my least favourite green camera.

Here are some close ups of the remaining cameras and the fabric cameras they were based on:

And a final close up:

I added some film curls and strips to fill in the gaps between the cameras and to soften the edges. It stayed in place all night long and was nice and light on my head.

I still wish I could have incorporated the fairy lights but that’s ok, I’ll keep them up my sleeve for another time ;)

If you missed the dress post you can find it here.

Supervising is such hard work!

footer_kiwi walking love copy

WOW Betty, why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer…

The spectacular World of WearableArt (aka WOW) started in Nelson in 1987 and moved to Wellington in 2005. The 2 hour long show features music, dance, and wearable art from New Zealand and all over the world. It’s something I’ve always longed to go to but I’ve never actually made it for various reasons. So when I was invited along to a VIP table for the awards night of course I said, “YES!”

Can you see it?

The perfect excuse to make a ridiculous dress and enter the Sewing Indie Month Dressed to the Nines competition.


Now WOW is all about the WOW so a simple pretty dress just won’t cut it. There needs to be an extra level of, well, WOW!

I though hard about what I could make, I didn’t want to put a heap of effort into a dress I could never wear again and I only had 2 weeks!

While I was hunting through patterns and fabric stash I picked up the Sew Over It Betty dress pattern that was sitting in my sewing queue. I had already paired it with the retrotastic Riley Blake Geekly Chic Cameras. I realised it would be perfect as a start – cameras and fashion and all that – and I decided the extra WOW could be achieved with some sort of fascinator…perhaps with little cameras all over it to match the dress.

I don’t a have a link to the fabric because apparently this is all sold out…everywhere :(


I started with the dress first – this was my first Sew Over It pattern and I really love the instruction illustrations. They have a sweet hand-drawn look but are really clear. I especially like the use of pattern and shading to show the different sides of the fabric.

After I traced the pattern I reduced the fullness of the skirt, checking it against my Colette Hawthorn pattern piece as a guide. I folded the extra fullness out of the center then corrected the waist line, flat pattern measuring to check it still matched the bodice.

This was another dress requiring a corner piecing job on the skirt due to the narrow quilting cotton width so more fun selvedges hidden inside ;)

Betty is a pretty simple pattern, a 4 dart bodice with a full circle skirt, neck/armhole facings and CB invisible zipper so the instructions don’t need a lot of extra detail. I followed along, only changing the order of a few steps.

I used my new favourite sewing notion, fusible stay tape, on the front and back neck opening. This stuff is seriously great! I have 4 rolls all half inch, a black and white in knit and a black and white in woven. It’s perfect for stabilising the fabric edge before inserting zippers too, you should go buy some.

I assembled the front and back of the dress first, then I stitched the side seams so I could adjust the fit later. The facing went on last and I like the clean finish on the armholes/shoulders.

It stitched up really quickly and the only other change I made was to machine sew the facing along the zipper to avoid hand sewing.

I almost always do this, for a stronger finish and, honestly, to avoid hand sewing. I’m not sure why so many patterns insist on hand sewing the facings down. My hand stitched facings always come undone eventually. Perhaps in this case is it a nod the vintage inspiration of this pattern.

I under-stitched the facing but I still found it liked to flip out at the bottom of the armhole. This was solved by pinning it in place and sewing a short line of stitching in the ditch of the side seam. I think next time I will fully line the bodice.

Next, hemming!

A week before the show and my dress almost finished I decided I would need more floof and went on the hunt for a petticoat. Long story short, I bought the “Value Swing Petticoat” from Let’s Jive in light blue because the price was right, I liked all the colour options and they are located just up the island so promised I would receive it in 1 day by courier. It did arrive as quickly as promised and while it’s not the softest most luxurious petticoat the floof-per-$ factor is impressive…photos later in this post…

The petticoat is a little bit long for my liking but it’s easy to roll up at the waist. I pinned the dress hem where I thought it looked right while I was wearing it. This turned out to be 17cms from the bottom of the skirt and I marked this all the way around, changing to 15cms at the back to allow extra length over my bottom.

After I pressed this up I trimmed off some excess and tired it on again discovering that it was a bit too short…ok, a lot too short! I’d only left about 4.5cms to play with so I re-trimmed the hem neatly at what was now 12.5cm/10.5cm from the bottom of the skirt and to maintain as much of that length as possible I had the brilliant idea to use bias on the hem…then I spotted the rest of the Hug Snug Seam Binding that Kat gave me. I told her at the time she’d given me way too much but I’m not complaining now, let’s just say it saved the day!

(Remind me that I owe you a Bohemian hot chocolate as thanks Kat!)

I stitched this on as close to the edge as I dared, pressed up and stitched the hem. Hug snug is perfect because it’s so light weight and the woven edge won’t unravel. I also get a sneaky bit of yellow hidden inside, it totally matches. I need to buy more, all the colours!

OK this post is long enough now and I haven’t even show you the final photos. I’ll write about making the fascinator in a separate post (here!).


These photos were taken at Aotea Lagoon where there are lots of great photos spots.

Getting in the car was super fun. I’ve never worn anything remotely and poofy as this so I was unprepared for a face full of skirt when I sat down. NH was well entertained.

Here is a before and after floof shot:

The whole time I was working on this dress and the fascinator I was really excited. About going to WOW but also about dressing up. Who doesn’t love dress ups?! I’m pretty sold now that the 1950s is my favourite dress ups era.  

Despite my excitement I was a little nervous that I was overdoing things. After I arrived at the bar I noticed everyone else was definitely dressed fancy-pants with lots of sparkles and slinky fabrics but there was nothing else remotely costumey. This didn’t ease my nerves until a random group of ladies called me over to tell me how much they loved my dress. I felt much better then and went to join my VIP group.  I didn’t know anyone else that was invited but I got a lots of compliments so I settled in for a fun night.

More fascinator photos next post, promise.

Just before we headed off to the show they announced the prizes and I won Best Dressed! It was awesome, plus the prize was shoe vouchers! SHOE VOUCHERS!

I got more compliments before we went in to the show and I also met this awesome chicky called Michelle who was dressed 1950s as well. We got a quick selfie at the end of the night – isn’t her hair amazing?! Michelle’s dress is from Amazengarb in Paraparaumu.

We look fabulous!


Obviously WOW was AMAZING! The music and dancing were both incredible and of course all the entries! We weren’t allowed to take photos or video but you can see some of them behind us in the photo above and there are some great shots on the WOW Facebook page here.  The volcano projection on the tent for the Aotearoa Section was my favourite part (the drums rattled my chest the model dance routines were perfect). My favourite entries were Neptune’s Bride in the Open Section and Celcus in the Other Worlds Section.

I was completely exhausted at the end of the night from trying to take everything in!


Pattern – Sew Over It Betty dress, size 14.

Removed fullness from the skirt to match Colette Hawthorne.

Next time I will lengthen the bodice approx. 2cm and fully line to the waist. I also need to add some bra strap keepers!

Fabrics – Riley Blake Geekly Chic Returns (Geekly Chic 2) Cameras in Blue by Amy Adams, Hawthrone Threads, USD$27.00/m, purchased 04 August 2014.

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

I have at least six new items to blog about but I have been very slack with photos. I could blame the weather or the fact that a cabin fevered NH disassembled my computer after a boring week at home sick but instead I’ll just write a post about a dress. It’s not the newest of my unblogged makes or the oldest, it’s the first one that I managed to get photos of one lunchtime ;)

In August The Monthly Stitched turned two years old and to celebrate we challenged The Collective to sew incorporating the number 2 in some way or another.

Kat and I had already decided it was time for another Twinsies make so this fitted in nicely with one of the suggest theme options: two sewists using the same pattern. We selected the Hawthorn by Colette Patterns.

But you know us, one layer of “2” just wasn’t enough!

Fabric discussions reminded us that we both had fabric from the same Camelot range – What A Gem. I had the gems in navy and Kat had the arrows in navy. An extra layer: two fabrics from the same collection.

Then we added another layer: We both used two different fabrics – Kat used a contrast for the bodice facings (navy blue with little daisies and cartoon turtles on it), and I used a grey cotton as contrast for the collar.

Two dresses from the same pattern, with two fabrics, and the main fabrics are two different designs from the same range.

2 x 2 x 2!

Serious business!

But wait, there’s one more level to take this even further down the rabbit hole: we also used a remnant of the other’s main fabric for backing on our labels.

I lament the loss of the early Colette days when their patterns were vintage inspired with clever details and so I wasn’t really excited about this pattern when it first came out.

More recently I’ve seen some nice versions around online and by some of the WSBN.
I can only make the Bleuet and La Sylphide so many times and you can never have enough shirt dresses right?

What sets this pattern apart is the collar, a nice unique detail and different from the usual shirt-style you see on most shirt dress patterns.

It is typically Colette in terms of great instructions and I’ve always found their fit right for me so I didn’t make any adjustments. It felt a tiny bit big in the waist after wearing it a few times so since these photos I’ve taken in the side seams a little.

Keep an eye on the seam allowances, they change when you add the button placket from (going on memory) 5/8th to 1/4th…I’m not saying that I had to unpick the whole bodice length of the button placket on both sides but…just keep that in mind ;)

Speaking of button plackets – I found it interesting that the bodice placket is a separate piece where as on the skirt it is a self placket folded over. Everything lined up internally perfectly (after I used the correct seam allowance). I think this is to save on fabric and I did briefly consider chopping the folded placket off the skirt pattern piece and joining it to the one for the front bodice but I didn’t have enough fabric.

It’s not shown on the line drawings but the skirt has a centre back seam which surprised me when I was laying out.

I’m guessing it’s also to save fabric and help with laying out on narrow fabric widths but it should really be shown on the line drawings.

I decided to eliminate that seam by cutting on the fold instead. I just folded the 5/8th seam allowance over and out of the way. However my fabric wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the whole width of the back skirt so I used my new favorite trick and pieced the corners on.

I cut these extra pieces from the selvedge so that I wouldn’t need to finish them. This helps reduce seam bulk but it’s also a bit fun to have them there, don’t you think? You wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you ;)

One of my selvedge pieces has the pretty coloured dots and the other has the designers details. I managed to avoid the bit that warned “not intended for children’s sleepwear”.

I picked a grey cotton to match the darker grey gems for my collar – I almost went for pink or bright blue but I was restrained. The pearly grey buttons came from Pete’s Emporium, my favourite button heaven.

I used a scrap from Kat’s dress under my label.

So after not being immediately interested in this pattern I do quite like my version. It was quite quick to make and is easy to wear. I got a nice reminder of Colette’s excellent pattern drafting, thorough instructions and sizing that suits my body.

I particularly love the fullness of this skirt. In fact I love it so much I’ve used it as a template to cut down the skirt piece of the dress I’m currently working on. I was sure this dresses skirt would be waaaayyyy too full for me but I just had no idea by how much to reduce it by.

Of course, birthdays require cake and we celebrated at our favourite girly high tea venue, Martha’s Pantry.

Kat’s post will be up soon so check it out on her blog.


Pattern – Colette Hawthorn, size 12, version 3.

Cut back skirt on the fold, pieced corners. Next time cut the same size overall but grade the waist down to size 10.

Fabrics – Camelot What A GemGems in Navy, Spotlight Kaiwharawhara, NZD$16.99/m, purchased 23 October 2014.

If you are interested in the sculpture where these photos were taken you can find out more here: Subject To Change by Regan Gentry.

North Island Sewing Meet 2015 in pictures…mostly

Last weekend was the first ever North Island Sewing Meet (that I know of anyway ;) ) so I cruised up SH1 to Rotorua with a few of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers to make some new friends and sew up a storm.

In short, it was AWESOME!

We got home on Sunday night absolutely shattered…I took way too many projects but that turned out to be a great plan. I hopped between about 4 of them while chatting, helping, visiting Spotlight and eating…I’ll post those items in full as I finish each of them.

The best way to sum up the weekend is in pictures with only a few words so here are some from me and quite a few I stole from the #NISM tag on Instagram (click on each image to see the original).

My 82 litre container full of two sewing machines and an excessively optimistic amount of sewing projects. With 4 ladies and 7 sewing machines it was a very full Outback boot…and a slightly slower trip up than anticipated ;)

The Desert Road with Mount Ngauruhoe peeking through the clouds.

Our venue was the The Arts Village – the home of an amazing community arts organisation run by volunteers with several rooms and large bright studios for short-term hire. I completely forgot to get an overall shot of the building but you know you’ve hired the right place for a creative sewing weekend away when they have a huge yarn bombed tree out front, right?

Setting up in Studio One

We organised surprise goodie bags for everyone. Spotlight Rotorua hooked us up with the bag bags and threw in some sewing machine needles, a fat flat, some ribbon and a lint roller. We also added in discount vouchers from The Fabric Store, Muse Patterns, Cottage Flair, Polynesia Spa and an assortment of cute little pin cushions that Sandra made.

We had a big group dinner on Saturday night…drinks and dessert of course.


On Sunday Toni finished her altered muslin and bravely cut into her shot silk.

Then Nikki treated us to a dance in her newly finished skirt – plenty of time for photos before home time.

We actually did a lot of sewing!

Oh and there was of food, including cake ;)

Huge thanks to Penny, Carolyne, Sandra, Sara, Trish, Toni, JacquiJuliet, Robyn, Helen, Kate, Kate, Kirsty and Nikki for joining myself and Sandra for an amazing weekend.

See you girls next time!


A Japanese Miette Surprise

Let’s just get this out of the way first up shall we? I am not a Tilly fan but her Miette wrap skirt pattern is cute, if not very original, and it was easier (and faster and cheaper and…well you get my point) to print off a copy then try to draft my own, or to obtain or grade any of the many similar vintage patterns that eBay wanted to sell me.

So, I bit the bobbin…and here is my Miette made from birdie printed linen of surprisingly high quality from Spotlight. It does say “Made in Japan” on the selvedge so there you go.

I grabbed this bolt from the sale table and while waiting in line the fabric whispered to me.

There is often a lot of waiting in line time when shopping at Spotlight, I usually spend it dream sewing.

Anyway, fabric doesn’t always have a strong opinion on the subject of pattern selection but these birds were most insistent, they would be a wrap skirt.

I bought the last 1.9 meters left on the bolt but I managed to cut the skirt out of that easy. The instructions I printed off didn’t have a cutting layout and I didn’t bother to look up the online tutorial but I had enough left over to have cut out the ties that I omitted if I’d wanted to.

I cut a size 5, the second-to-largest size (!), and as mentioned I left off the ties because, while they add more cuteness, they also limit the skirt to tucked in tops and I have only seen a few versions where the ties didn’t stick out awkwardly.

You are meant to cut three sets of the waistband piece. So I cut one set of waistbands as patterned, for the centre, then 2 more sets with an extra 4cms of length added, for the side/back. This extends the tabs each side, leaving me more room for two buttonholes.

I stitched my button holes first and then tried the skirt on to mark where the buttons should go.

I also intended to omit the front pocket because I thought combined with the wrap skirt they might make the whole thing a bit aprony.

Aprony is a word.

I knew I’d end up decapitating some birds while cutting out as it was impossible to run all the seam lines between them. What I didn’t count on was accidentally decapitating TWO sets of birds each side of the centre front seam in such a way as to make them look like they’d flow right into each other.

This produced one small white star shape directly over my navel…and another larger white star, err, slightly lower…you get my drift.

So there was some unpicking and the pocket pattern piece was located and cut and attached to hide my cutting sins.

It’s useful so we’ll say that I did it on purpose, ok?

After that little mishap it stitched up really quickly, all overlocked on the inside with the vertical seams pressed open and top stitched down either side. I applied fusible stay tape to the open back edges of the skirt to stop any potential wavy edges and also to the pocket openings to prevent stretch induced gape.

I really only glanced at the instructions but there are a couple of things to note that I did differently:

  • I pressed the bottom edge of my waistband up before attaching it to the skirt at step 7, this just makes it easier later on.
  • When attaching the waistband I ignored “roll in a couple of mm so it doesn’t show in the outside” and I under-stitched the seam allowance at the top of the waistband to the facing instead. Pulling the inside edge of the waistband down will distort the top edge and what happens at the bottom outside edges where you joined the waistband to the facing before turning it? It’s going to get puckered. Under-stitching is the correct technique and will permanently stop it from rolling out and it’s also a good trick to keep up your sleeve for all facings and flappy bits.

I top stitched either side of the waistband opening to close it off so that it’s easier to thread the waistband end through.

I can’t remember what I did with the length – I think I trimmed some off and then did a simple 1cm-1cm double fold hem, top stitched.

Big thanks to Kat for playing photographer and helping me get my photo-mojo back. We were in the city for a scrummy ladies lunch in Oriental Parade and afterwards we waddled over to the boat sheds at Clyde Quay for pics.

Considering I’d been driving in the car, then sitting at lunch, I was surprised that these photos weren’t more wrinkly.

Here’s a sneaky peek at Nikki’s photo shoot ;)

So, back to the skirt: I really like the A-line silhouette, the pockets turned out to be very useful so I’m glad I added them and it’s a really easy make with minimal fitting .

I’ll probably make it again…with less decapitation.


Pattern – Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt, size 5

Omitted the ties, extended waistband 4cm both sides.

Next time I’ll extend an extra 4cms (8cms total) as it’s a tiny bit tight.

Fabrics – 1.9m printed Japanese cotton linen from Spotlight, $8.00/m


The North Island Sewing Meet…is on!

Thank you to everyone who showed interest in the North Island Sewing Meet – we’re excited to say that we had enough responses to make it an official event! Yay!

All the details are on the Eventbrite page waiting for you to sign up :)

If you indicated yes on the Google form then you should already have received an invite.

Please sign up as soon as possible, the sooner we can confirm numbers the better the meet will be.

It’s not too late to join us, just jump on over and register!

Don’t forget to help us spread the word by blog, instagram and twitter – see you soon :)