Sub 2-hour cardigan – “Look Mum, no sewing machine!”

Do you like my new cardi?


Please excuse the fact that it was a very bright day and also I have managed to chop my feet off in almost every photo.

On Saturday, after a long (and not entirely abusive) life, my computer finally kacked it (that’s the technical term, trust me). There was much swearing and gnashing of teeth but no tears since I’d just backed up the most important stuff the previous day.

Am I psychic? Possibly.

I was thinking about throwing the thing out the window when Husband came in to see what all the fuss was about and promptly left again. Lucky for me (or perhaps more for the computer) he returned, just as I was picking it up, with a set of small screw drivers and other computery thingees (more technical terms, I’m on a role here). After a ridiculously short amount of time plugging, button pushing and screw drivering he had coaxed it back from the brink long enough for me to save the rest of the hard drive. Nerdy husbands are so useful.


So on Sunday I got taken computer shopping because while we could probably scrape together enough items from his nerdy room it really is time I bit the bullet and shouted myself a new computer. Well I said shopping but it was really just browsing and investigating and the purchase will take place next week. After we finished telling sales people to leave us alone for about an hour I got dropped back home and then Husband left to give his sister H a long ago promised driving lesson.

With my room still strewn with previously mentioned computery bits and a PC I dare not turn on without help close at hand I decided I needed a quick sewing pick me up.

After Knitting and I had a few words and decided that just right now we are not getting along I cut the BurdaStyle Esther pattern out of a black and silver/grey striped knit that I got from the Joveeba relocation sale in Perth. I picked up this piece, 152cm wide and 2.20m long, for AUD$16.00. I cut a size 40 but my fabric wasn’t quite long enough for the pattern, however since I had extra width I was able to add a join in the collar piece which ends up at the back of my neck. I chose to do this on a black stripe with the hope of it being less obvious.

Then I decided to try a little experiment: I re-threaded all 4 threads of my overlocker in black and challenged myself to make the whole thing without my sewing machine and started the timer. Give or take I finished the whole thing in about 1 hour 40 minutes and that includes pressing, adjusting the tension on the Bernina, getting a little distracted with making a cup of tea and sending a couple of text messages.

4 spools of goodness

Ok, I admit I did use the Elna just to baste the open edges of the crazy super loooong collar together but as you can see my concession did not include re-threading it to black (the white got chopped off by the overlocker knife anyway!).

No quick thread changes here!

But then baby got put back in the corner to keep the side of my PC case company.

Baby in the corner

So I am quite pleased with my effort and it certainly put a smile on my face when I went to open the door for Husband wearing my new cardi.


The Esther pattern used to be free back in ancient BurdaStyle history but for $2.50 it’s still a steal of a pattern. I will say however that the instructions are rubbish, don’t even bother to read the words, they make no sense whatsoever, just follow the pictures. As a pattern however it simple, quick (even if you do use a sewing machine) and an easy fit. It lends itself to knits and even jersey for a more light weight look, you could mix up the colours on the collar, sleeves and cuffs for a bit of fun, why don’t you go check it out all the other versions online?


Buttons & buckles!

I am hoping the weather clears up later today so I can take some photos of my newest items but, for now I can share with you that finally (!), I have solved the lack of buttons and buckles for the Gok coat!

I love eBay, don’t you? Who doesn’t?! It all started with this great find last week:

18 vintage buttons in grey and black and in the two sizes I wanted. They look a little brownish in the picture but I am willing to put that down to poor lighting and chucked a bid on them.

Then I saw these as well:

Oh, 250+ vintage buttons in grey tones…do I really need 250 buttons? But I love the black and grey set second in from the left…so I put a bid on them as well, they were a great price so why not? Plus they were from the same seller who was offering combined postage. Have I said I love eBay yet? I won both auctions by default since no one else was bidding, yay me, I’ve had some crap online auction luck lately.

No luck with buckles however, just pages and pages of these crazy massive buckle things that make me think of Hulk Hogan, I don’t know why…

…but not quite what I am looking for. So I gave that up on them for a while, my buttons are on their way from America so that cheered me up.

Do not let this image fool you - you will not find all these threads at Spotlight

Then today I went out fabric shopping, I needed lining and a contrast fabric for my next two projects. I swung past Spotlight for another fun visit, the top-stitching thread for my forever (and ever!) jeans remains elusive. I was hoping that since my last visit the Gutermann rep might have made a visit to re-stock and you won’t believe who I bumped into at the Gutermann stand, the Gutermann rep! But before you cheer out aloud he was about as helpful as the staff were during my last visit. The top-stitching threads were mostly empty so I asked him if he had any of them in his box because I was looking for a particular colour that had been out of stock for a while. He told me he had a lot of threads to re-stock and had no idea what was in those boxes until he opened them, then he suggested I come back in an hour to see if he’d re-supplied them. I think it was all a ploy to get rid of me because when I did swing back past on my way home he was nowhere to be seen and neither was my thread.

Sigh…they also had no grey invisible zippers, and not just the 40cm one I needed, none at all…

In between the then and after that is the joy of shopping at Spotlight  I went to one of my favourite Wellington fabric stores, the Fabric Warehouse, and lamented to one of the shop assistants there about the difficulty in finding good notions in Wellington. She suggested I go to Golding Handcrafts in Marion Street because she had seen they had quite a few buckles there and did they?! It’s a good thing I only had 90 cents to  feed the meter or I would have been there all day! As soon as I saw the bucket of buckles I plopped myself down on the floor in front of them and promptly began digging. Oblivious to all that was going on around me I have a nice little pile of about 20 buckles laid out on the floor beside me when the shop assistant offered me a bowl for my selections. I gave her an impish smile and explained (or tried to) that I’d been looking for buckles for quite some time and was excited to see so many. Here is what I dug out of their buckle bin:

I needed a big (5cm bar) buckle and two smaller one (4cm bars) but I couldn’t decide which I liked better. Actually that’s a lie, I like the ones on the left better but I just couldn’t leave the other set behind…I did put back the 15 or so others I had in my greedy little fists firmly telling myself that they’ll be here when I need them later, and there was no need to take them ALL home now 🙂 And the best part is they were only $2.00 each, sweet!

They have a lot of other awesome crafting stuff and plenty of books, so, adding to my Wellington list of resources:

Golding Handcrafts
17 Marion Street
04 801 5850
Mon – Fri  9am – 5pm, Sat 10am – 4pm




I’ll leave you with a sneak peek of my fabric purchases for the next two mystery items (ok, so they aren’t so mysterious…)

Black wool from my stash with new cotton lining fabric

Rose printed linen from my stash with new cotton contrast fabric

Winners & WIPs

Congratulations to Tineke and Natasha who were the winners of my Silly Sewing Mistake giveaway. Because their answers both came in within 2 hours of each other while I was offline (read: outside taking more photos of snow!), and being first time commentors ended up being held for moderation I decided to be a Generous Kiwi and give two Manequim issues away.

Tineke will be enjoying issue 625 and Natasha will love my second spare Manequim issue 624 which is also super amazing. I hope you girls enjoy the goodness that is Manequim and thank you so much for reading 🙂

The answer was that, despite checking and checking again, I managed put my buttons on the “wrong” side!

I’ve heard two theories as to why women’s tops button right-over-left and men’s left-over-right. The first is that in ancient times wealthy ladies (who could afford buttoned items which were quite expensive) would have maids to dress them and it is easier to button a shirt up from the outside in that manner if you are right-handed, but men tended to dress themselves. The second is also from ancient times when men wore swords but of course, women didn’t. The majority being right-handed would belt their sword to the left hip, buttons are placed on the opposite side so that as they drew their sword it wouldn’t catch on the overlap. Either way it’s all a bit old fashioned isn’t it and as Natasha pointed out to me in an email, no one will pick my mistake unless they try my blouse on. It does feel a little weird buttoning it up the “wrong” way though 😉

What do you think? Have you heard these anecdotes or have you heard a different one?

It has been absolutely freezing in my sewing room the last two days so yesterday I set myself up in the lounge with a laptop, some machine-less sewing tasks and the fire.

I did a little of this:

This may be previously mentioned “belated birthday dress”…

…and a little of this:

So warm…

Here is a sneak peak of my current WIP that is awaiting a last little bit of sewing. There isn’t a lot left to do but it’s way to cold to be whipping off the clothes for the final alterations before completing but hopefully I can share it with you this weekend. The fabric is from Potter’s in Perth, it’s a silk crepe that I picked up off of the “Remnant Table of Endless Inspiration”, I got the 149cm x 1.1m length for $10, bargain.


Forgotten celebrations (and a giveaway!)

Well we had a bit of excitment here in Wellington yesterday afternoon/evening!


I mean, it snowed the other day, well not really, just in the hills and a little bit on our car when we were driving but I wouldn’t say anything turned white for very long, but tonight it really DID snow! So of course we had to go outside and get quite wet and cold but we got some neat photos. If you’re a little confused let me explain that it doesn’t normally snow in Wellington. Husband and I have been talking about trying snow boarding this season, I wish we’d bought boards, I could have had my first go down our driveway! But perhaps that’s a good thing, there isn’t exactly a soft landing at the bottom.

The scene this morning

Right, back to sewing. I think I may have finished* mucking around with my new blog theme. I can’t justify buying a domain or paying for the flash super-customise-able software and if I did that I’d probably have to give up one of my magazine subscriptions and that’s about as likely to happen as me using up my entire fabric hoard. Still, I think with a little kiwi ingenuity (kiwi readers are smiling and thinking about no. 8 wire) I’ve done ok and I’m pretty proud of the new look. I have a revised header now as well, a background and these neat little menu page things on the right to reduce the clutter. On top of all that I got my pages all fixed up (which was what finally pushed me over the “hrm, shall I have a go at my blog design or not?” edge) see them up the top there? Why don’t you click on over and see what you can learn? 😉


So let’s celebrate shall we? With all the excitement and stress of moving countries I managed to completely miss one exciting event and successfully forget another. The first was my blogging birthday, which I was quite excited about, and the second was my 30th birthday, which I was not so excited about. Actually that’s not entirely true. I love birthdays, just not the idea of hitting such a milestone. But I’ve been 30 now for almost 3 months and nothing bad has happened, I still feel how I felt when I was 29, which is how I felt when I was 28, and 27, and 26 so I guess I’ll cope 😉

This year I wanted to start a new birthday tradition of making a birthday dress each year. Some of the wonderful sewing bloggers that I follow do this and I really like the concept. I started thinking about it 2 months before it was thwarted by my life getting stuffed into some boxes. The plan was to start it in May each year, ready for my birthday in June.

I have plenty of pretty dresses in my “to sew list”. So, what would make a good (if a little belated, ok, a lot belated) birthday dress project?

First up is the everyone-else-has-made-it-but-me Vogue 8280 (aka Rouland Mouret Galaxy Dress) and I even bought fabric for it from Tessuti online and made up a Photoshop image to get me all excited. Also in my queue from Colette Patterns is the Parfait and Rooibos patterns and Simplicity’s 2724 ever since I saw Sunni’s Naughty Secretary Dress version.

Possible "birthday" dresses

My last mega-pattern purchase included Buttericks 5455, because who doesn’t love piping AND pockets? And several Vogues including 1190, 1161 and 1174, the last two because of Tasia’s amazing versions seen here and here.

More possible "birthday" dresses

For all of these dresses I could easily find an appropriate fabric in my stash so I’d still like to start this year but it may end up being a “Welcome Back Summer” or perhaps a Christmas dress instead. Life is busy at the moment so Christmas is an easy goal. Keep your eyes open, a dress labelled “birthday” might appear in a post sometime soon 😉

Now back to my blogoversary…it’s been a fun year and I’ve learnt a lot about my sewing. I’m not going to go over it all since I covered most of my last year in my new years post, but I’ve discovered a heap of new online and offline sewing friends with all their delicious inspirational blogs and knowledge and I’m really glad I started blogging.

So to celebrate just a wee bit and to make my blog feel all grown up I’m going to do a little giveaway. I’ve got something super amazing too, it’s a spare copy of one of my favourite Manequim issues!

Manequim 625

Isn’t that a really cool prize?! If you haven’t seen this incredible  issue then take a look at my post here, you’ll have to scroll down a bit past the Patrones review. But you’re not going to get it easily, you’ll have to work for it 😉 Here’s how:

Patrones 290 - Blouse #9

In my Patrones blouse post I mentioned a few mistakes I made during the sans-instruction construction process, like having to un-pick my topstitching to sew the neck facings. I also have no idea if I finished the arm holes correctly but they work anyway. There was one other mistake, something that I didn’t mention in my post let alone spot until I was all but finished and it embarrasses me that I made it. It’s an elementary super basic mistake that only another seamstress would probably notice. It doesn’t affect me wearing the blouse and indeed I wear this blouse all the time regardless but I know the mistake is there. It’s something technical, maybe even a little old fashioned and I notice it every time I put this blouse on.

Did you spot it?

It’s most visible on the finished item images. The first reader (and this excludes the two sewing friends I have disclosed this sewing secret to, you know who you are) to tell me what my silly little beginner mistake was in the comments on this post will win the super amazing Manequim issue above.

Then we can all giggle (and learn) from my mistake.

Now I think you chickies are all really smart so I’ll give you a week and then I’ll give up a clue if no-one gets. If you are the winner I will contact you for postage details and then let everyone know how lucky you are.

Good luck! 🙂

*That is a complete lie, I’ll probably tweak and re-tweak it forever and ever ad infinitum until I decide change it drastically again

Manequim 623 (May 2011)

It took Manequim and Burda a little longer than Patrones to re-route my subscriptions when I moved country. Luckily all my magazines were sent to my old workplace where my wonderful friend and colleague K gathered them up and forwarded them on to me. Since neither of my August magazines have shown up yet here is May’s issue of Manequim with bonus Burda picks.



This month begins with the production chic stylings of actress and former fashion model Camila Pitanga. It’s a nice mix of formal and casual starting with a really sweet white dress, love the bodice shape, you could easily pull this off in two-tone or a print. Next up is a long sleeveless blouse or perhaps more of a casual vest. I like the length and how it is shown over a dress with belt. From the formal end we have this smoking red dress with pleated panels to the skirt. Pleated skirts seem to be all the rage right now so would be neat to use these panels on just a skirt pattern.

In the Beautiful and Feminine section, actress Palmora Bernadi, who is inspired by romantic 1950’s fashion, gives us a couple of cute skirts and some beautiful blouses with pretty collars and really interesting pleated sleeve details (I’m really getting into my sleeves lately, wait until you see the item I am working on now).

Always Well Dressed brings us inspiration from Isabel Marant but we only get three patterns out of this section. I quite like this dress, well, actually I’m not sure, but look at the suede jacket!! I’ve included three views of it, fierce! Oh and it’s a size 44, perfect!

A little later on we have this flowy top with singlet, it appeals to me because I love playing with the rolled hem and differential feed on my overlocker. There is a big skirt section but nothing to my taste however there is another nice vest, this one is more drapey and there is something interesting happening in the back, I think maybe a panel similar to the skirt material.

And then we have the Oscar looks, here are my two favourites, maybe one day I’ll have need for a dress like these! 😉

I found an online preview of August which should be arriving shortly, you can’t really see much but there is a plus sized special and Manequim usually gives us some really nice items is sizes 50 – 62.

Manequim August 2011 Preview

If you are interested in how the Manequim sizing stacks up I’ve just added scanned size charts from all the magazines to my Downloads & Tutorials page under the Goodies menu at the top and I’ve also made up a comparison chart between the four.

Here are my picks from the May Burda magazine. There’s not a lot to rave about, a lot of flowy stuff and very little structure (apart from the bustier and ruched style dresses but we’ve seen them in previous issues) but I do like the jacket and the 50s style dress in two lengths. Not too sure about the pink dress, I like the shape and the back ‘v’, it might not flatter me but I can see me giving it a go.

BurdaStyle May 2011

No sewing here…but I did get a feature!

As I am sure you have managed to work out based on this posts title I haven’t been doing any sewing this week.

I have finally found the motivation to work consistently on my CV and portfolio. You see I haven’t been fabric shopping in weeks, WEEKS I tell you, so I need to get out there and find myself a job 🙂

The sewing has lacked for other reasons too, my main problem at the moment is that out of the 150 boxes of stuff we managed to successfully bring over from Perth the single item* I have discovered missing is the top stitching thread for my Forever Jeans. Argh! A trip to Spotlight in Porirua didn’t help last weekend since that was the one and only color they were out of, typical of my luck, and I just know that as soon as I purchase a new spool my currently-absent-and-almost-full-spool will magically re-appear. So, there will be a trip to the Ngauranga Spotlight this weekend and we shall see if they have the correct coloured thread.

Remember my post extolling the oft-overlooked virtues of Spotlight that I wrote while in Australia? Current experience so far tells me that post is N/A for the Spotlight stores in Wellington. I went to the Ngauranga store for more thread for my Gok Coat last week and the single colour they were out of was that spool as well! And the staff were less than helpful in being able to tell me when the Gutterman rep/stockist was due to visit next. Now before you tell me to just go to another store, I did, but every other fabric store in the city stocks Mettler thread only, which I have no problems using it’s just that I needed that particular colour from Gutterman that I had already started using for top-stitching. Don’t get me started on the buckles and buttons selections either. Perhaps it’s just me and I’ve just had a string (or should that be thread? Hehe) of bad luck visits. Although if there is one thing Spotlight New Zealand have going for them is that they do give you a nice little card that they sign everytime you bring your own shopping bag and after 5 trips you get 20% off 1 item, that’s kind of cool.

Spotlight's 'Bag A Discount' Card

My Gok Coat is fairing much better, I did eventually get thread, in Palmerston North of all places, but I didn’t drive all that was for just thread, I was up there for other reasons and you drive past their huge Spotlight on the way out to the highway, so now I am on my fourth spool of Gutterman colour #512 but that should be the last one. The coat itself is 99.99% completed sewing-wise but 0% complete for buttons and buckles, still no luck there but this weekend I will turn to my old friend the internets and see what it can discover for me.

Then I am at a bit of a loss as to what to make next, I have plenty of ideas it’s just deciding which one to do first!

In other news I got featured on the BurdaStyle sites DIY Wedding article, so exciting, click on the pic below to go check it out 🙂 If you’d like to see more of how I made my dress you can check out my wedding dress posts here.

*excluding the chunky length of dowel that I used to dry my homemade pasta on, which is no biggie, I’ll get another, maybe someone will eventually discover it in the corner of the pantry in Perth where I accidentally left it…