Do you guys Pin?

I have to admit that I don’t. Well actually I used too, then I got all a bit weirded out by the thinspiration that kept cropping up in my search so I stopped doing it…then I deleted my account because I just didn’t use it and I kind of like to keep a handle on how many internet identities I have randomly floating around.

I prefer to use Evernote plus I tend to be stuck in the habit of saving a ridiculous amount of images in folders on my hard drive so I can flick through them at my leisure when I need inspiration.

Then I discovered in my referrer sats that despite not pinning personally people are pinning me, which is pretty cool:

Pinterest is a good way to easily remember that tutorial you spotted, and it’s visual, which is how most creative types learn and retain knowledge. Did you ever do that test at school, the VAK (visual/audio/kinesthetic) learning test? I was mostly a visual chicky, with a bit of kinesthetic thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, if you’ve pinned me in the past thanks heaps, I love new visitors and comments and sharing the love.

Happy Monday everyone xx


Hello 2012!

Considering January is almost over I should really do the “reflect back on my 2011 sewing year” thing. I posted 2010’s round up late on Feb 1st 2011 so why break with tradition? 😉

By the way, it’s not my calendar that reminds me it’s almost February, it’s Nerdy Husband as he begins to count down the sleeps until his birthday.

Lots of the blogs I follow have done a 2011 roundup and I’ve really enjoyed reading them all (especially the newly discovered blogs). Even if you don’t blog it’s actually a really good idea to look back at your sewing year. I find it really positive because it’s easy to forget all the things you’ve achieved over the last 12 months. Reflecting on your newest skills and older projects can be inspirational for your future sewing.

Farewell 2011:

 My main “resolution” for 2011 was to just sew and blog more.

I wrote 87 posts last year compared to 53 in 2010, but then I only started blogging in May of that year so that was an easy win.

The funky little email WordPress sent me at the start of the year said, “The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed 70, 000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it”…well that is one way to look at it I guess!!

Most of my visitors were from The United States, with Australia and Germany not far behind.



As for more sewing, that was not so successful. You might remember my life was seriously interrupted so the number of items I made was definitely less than last year. You can check out the count on my Wardrobe page (2009 was still my most productive full year of sewing) but here’s a fun little thumbnail shot of 2011’s creations.

So what about the rest of my resolutions?:

Drafting my own pattern – Check! The 1930s Dress (yes I know, still no finished photos yet…) showed me I can do that and I enjoyed the technical challenge. I have since explored more of my sewing books that I own and found a couple of other techniques I’d like to try.

Increasing my fabric knowledge – Check! Despite only containing two finished entries the fabric book is alive and kicking. I have added two other entries that are just pencilled in for now and awaiting beautification. I have been exceptionally good at writing down the fabrics that I buy at the checkout so that when I pull them out of my stash later on I know exactly what they are.

Eating into the stash – Check! I did do a little of this (evidence 1, 23!) but I also added to my stash, not that I ever promised not to 😉

Sewing for Mr Kiwi – Fail! I promised my Nerdy Husband some me-made items which didn’t eventuate. He has gotten a bit more specific about what he wants me to make him this year which helps and I have started investigating patterns for this request. I might even be able to drag him to the fabric store to choose the material.

Lastly, I said I wanted to learn to love my body and I have to say while I am not yet 100% there I have definitely made a better effort to learn which silhouettes and colours will look best for my body type/complexion and my fabric and pattern purchases of 2010 have definitely reflected this. I also joined the gym just for added good measure and it’s amazing the mental lift that can give you. My next step is to make one of those mini-me croquis that have been popping up on some of the blogs I follow. They are excellent for re-drawing the envelope pattern line art on a more realistic figure, yours! So in the next weekend or so I’ll be doing some fun posing and creating my own personal croquis.

So, wrapping up the 2011 blogging:

My favourite Blog Post – The (Belated) Birthday Dress – I think I liked this one the most due to the photography location. It was quite fun to visit somewhere specifically to photograph a new item (and a special one at that) and it inspired me to make more of an effort to get photos done in different locations around Wellington/New Zealand. I haven’t yet but I’ll get there. I also posted this on the day I received my most hits, 512 on October 21st, thanks to a lot of help from Peter at Male Pattern Boldness after I mentioned my mothers Cub clone on his site and received my now infamous mention in his next post 😉

Most popular blog post/ Favourite project/Most Popular Project – In 2010 I did these three categories separately but for 2011 they are dominated by one project, My Wedding Dress.

My How To Sew Your Own Wedding Dress post was the most visited in 2011 and I regularly see that as an exact search term popping up in my stats counter. It’s much more researched than I thought it would be and it’s awesome how many other talented girls are taking on the challenge!

Of course it is also my favourite project, there is nothing else that can top it really. It was by far the biggest and most rewarding project and ended up being a huge boost to my sewing confidence.

While most of the sewing happened in 2010 I did technically finish hemming it in early January 2011.

My second favourite project was the BurdaStyle Book Blouse which I completed in a weekend and sent off all the way to America for the big photoshoot.

In terms of BurdaStyle project hits “A Wedding in Wellington” received 1262 views and second place goes to the NSFW Dress that almost killed me with 793 views.  It’s another of my favourite projects, completed while I was living in Perth and it ended up being one of those “ah ha!” moments when I learnt that if I stick with it through all the difficulties it throws at me and nut out the solutions (instead of throwing it in the corner and giving up) then I get a pretty awesome reward…it was good lesson and has probably helped my with the next category…

Current UFO Count – Hrmm, let’s see, in 2010 it was six…How about 2011? I’m not counting items that are cut and about to be sewn (because I always have at least two of those on my table) or the Gok Coat because it did technically get finished. There’s my jeans of course and a couple of others that I’ve put aside for the longer term (mentally counting in my head)…four! It’s ok if you don’t believe me 😉 All four are from 2010 so I guess I managed to finish two which isn’t bad and there are no new ones, yay!

Biggest Sewing Fail – No major fails for 2011 that are worth mentioning, yay!

Best New Sewing Item – Isn’t new at all, well, she is to me, of course it’s my beautiful Singer!

Hello 2012:

Ok, so how about some goals for this year? I guess you could call them “resolutions” if you must.

Better garment pressing during construction – We’ve talked about this already and now I have some fancy new tools to help me  🙂

Finally finish the Forever (and ever) jeans – this Winter

Rescue the Gok Coat of Doom – also this Winter

Make my 2012 birthday dress – on time this time, so I should start in May

Keep filling in my fabric book

No more blouses – (ok, maybe one more JJ…just kidding!) I rely on the trusty blouse too often and I need to expand my wardrobe toinclude a top selections other than just


Make some pants – As I have previously threatened.

Learn to do an FBA and use it to adjust my future patterns – I wear a D cup and since most sewing patterns are drafted for a B I have pretty much been relying on luck so far for fit. I know that my tops and dresses would fit better and my blouses wouldn’t do that peek-a-boo bra show between the buttons (solved, lazily, with a snap for now) if I could achieve the correct bust fit.

Give up on trying to sew basics, just buy these and have fun sewing the rest – I have an un-written goal of not really buying any rtw clothing (shoes and underwear excluded) and I once lamented about my lack of “basics” to match in with my colourful fabric choices so for the last two years I have endeavoured to sew more basics but I find it so BORING! And hence I have pretty much sewed zero basics. There is no use fighting it: I am simply incapable of buying plain coloured fabrics and then using them. So, new strategy: I will buy those rtw basics, the blacks, browns, greys, whites etc, to match in with my colourful sewing tendencies. Problem solved.

Clean out my wardrobe – I have stitched many really nice clothes, but they get lost in the jumble of bad rtw clothes I own. I know this, and still I stand at my closet uttering the phrase we all know, “I have nothing to wear!” So, in order to see the trees from the forest it’s time to be brutal. Then I can really see the holes in my wardrobe and sew accordingly. I don’t think I’ll be documenting this for you guys, there are some pretty awful items in my closet.

Get my new toy working – I’m talking about the Singer of course, oh and give her a name, when inspiration strikes. This may not happen for 2012 and it is looking like the most economical solution might be to acquire another half-working machine and swapping out the broken bits but I’ll keep you posted.

Take photos of my finished items!! – I currently have 3 items waiting to be photographed: the 1930s dress, my last JJ and the skirt I finished last weekend. I have to stop letting them pile up like that. I used to love dressing up straight away and photographing my items, I’m not sure what happened to that enthusiasm. Actually I kind of do, my new house is tiny and we have nowhere for me to photograph them apart from the balcony, where everyone in our street can see me. I’d love to take photos of more items “in action” out and about when appropriate.

Ok, enough of that – I can’t type and sew at the same time 😉

I’ve been bad…

I accidentally went fabric shopping yesterday:


…actually that is a shameless lie…

I went out at lunchtime yesterday specifically to check out Arthur Toye‘s 50% off everything (EVERYTHING!) fabric sale and spent a bit more than I intended to.

I would have spent even more if it weren’t for the fact that I only get 30 minutes for lunch.

But aren’t they so pretty?!

 Still, when they halve the total at the checkout you can’t complain right?

Mission! Complete: Pressing Equipment

Nerdy Husband and I share a love of excursions, any excuse to get out of the house is always welcomed. Generally these excursions fall under some common categories you will be familiar with, such as “Lovey-Dovey-Couple-Stuff” (movies, dinners and the like) and “Boring-Everyday-Stuff” (food shopping, going to work etc) but by far our favourite excursion types are “Adventures!” and “Missions!”. These are pronounced with the exclamation mark on the end and while sometimes planned and sometimes spontaneous they don’t always pan out as expected.

Adventures! are pretty obvious: we go out for the day somewhere we haven’t been before or for a long time, not difficult when you have been living elsewhere for 6 years, and explore. We had several Adventures! these holidays, my favourite being our walk on the eastern side of Wellington Harbour from Eastbourne towards Pencarrow Head.

As you can see it was an amazing day. We didn’t quite make it as far as the lighthouse but next time we will take our bikes and get there for sure. We returned to Days Bay for the obligatory Fish and Chips lunch on the beach.

Now on the other hand Missions! are a bit more random and generally involve some sort of DIY. They have a higher failure rate than Adventures! but we enjoy them all the same. We do pull off some good ones occasionally though, evidence A and evidence B, of two recent sewing related Missions!

Near the end of our holidays I decided it was time for another me-initiated Mission! and I knew Nerdy Husband would enjoy this one since it would involve multiple power tools.

But first some background: I don’t tend to make official New Years Resolutions, why add all that pressure to the year ahead? (I will be looking back on my 2011 Sewing Year as I did last year for our mutual amusement soon – we’ll see how my 2011 “resolutions” went). This year I do want to spend more effort in the finishing of my garments in order to finally crack that elusive rtw look, which we all know is the antithesis of the “home-made” look. A big part of achieving this is good pressing, something I am pretty good at but I still need a bit of help in the form of some sewing gadgets and I love a good sewing gadget!

The first of these new gadgets was to be a sleeve board. I discovered while making my Gok coat the difficulty of pressing long sleeve seams without one means I am always creating two outer creases that can be hard to remove later on. A rolled up towel will only suffice for so long therefore a sleeve board has been on the menu since then.

The other item I am not so sure about but since I was going to the effort of making a sleeve board I figured I would make one of these at the same time.

It’s this:

Weird looking huh? It’s called a Pressing Board. You know those odd times when you can’t quite get to an area to press? Or when you are pressing a curved seam on your flat ironing board and it just doesn’t work? That’s what one of these is for and there has been the odd time when I’ve thought I could really use it.

So, let’s get on with it:

Pressing Equipment Tutorial


  • Length of timber

I am using 1800 x 300 x 18mm (180 x 30 x 1.8cm or about 71 x 12 x 3/4 inches) thick Hardy Panel MDF acquired from Bunnings Warehouse . I should really be using a 25mm thick hard wood but since this is my first attempt I am going for cheap and then if it all works out and I use these items enough I will remake in a more suitable material – Total $11.18*

Take along your template pieces to test out which sized board is good for you, I ended up only using 2/3 of this board so the real cost is actually $7.45

  • Felt Ironing Board Underlay

From my “favourite” store: Spotlight, $14.99 but I got a 20% discount so only paid $12.00

  • Fabric for covering the sleeve board

I used scraps of Ikea Canvas from this skirt project: FREE PATTERN ALERT! Ikea canvas is an excellent hard wearing choice for ironing board and chair covers.

  • Elastic or cord to secure the cover
  • 8 Wood Screws

I used a brass 8G x 50mm – about $10

  • Handy Husband (or similar) preferably who enjoys power tools (this shouldn’t be a difficult find)
  • Jigsaw with wood blade (or coping saw but that will take you ages and be quite painful!)

  • Power/detail/palm/mouse sander (or old fashion sand paper and sanding block, see note re: Jigsaw)

  • Drill & drill bits, counter sink bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Eye protection and dust mask

You should always protect your eyes when using any kind of power tool (even if you wear glasses normally) and to prevent breathing in any dusk while cutting and sanding wear an appropriate dust mask over your mouth and nose

*These prices are in NZD$


For the Pressing Board I started to make my own based on one I saw in a shop but then I found this pattern. Go grab it and print it out at 200%.

For the Sleeve Board I started from scratch based on images online, it is 8 A4 pages that you need to print (no scaling) and tape together. The last page contains a 10cm x 10cm scaled square for you to check your printers settings, I suggest you print this page first and adjust your printer accordingly.

thecuriouskiwi_sleeve board template

This is how I made my original pattern, old school, but don’t worry, I got AutoCAD working and you’ll find a much prettier pattern in the link above.

Method (to the madness):

Print out your patterns and transfer the outlines to your board. Because I was making it up as I went along I drew my sleeve board directly onto my timber using my trusty high-school compass set and a really long ruler. For the pressing board I used carbon paper underneath and drew over the top but you could also just scribble on the back with a heavy pencil (4B?) then draw over the top to transfer the lead to your timber.

Keep in mind that holes marked on the pressing board pattern are for 1 inch/25mm/2.5cm thick board so you should adjust these to suit if your board is thinner like mine.

Now, grab your jigsaw or coping saw and cut them all out.

Remember to wear your eye protection and dust mask for all cutting and sanding.

Some of the curves and vertices are quite tight and you may need to approach them in different ways and from several angles to get the final shape.

Helpful-powertool-Husband did an excellent job of following my lines, I suspect he was also very good at colouring in when he was younger, so I did not need to do very much corrective sanding. Mostly I just took of the sharpness of edges and the slight burning that can appear on the tighter curves due to the heat of the blade.

Sanding was the part of this Mission! that I was dreading, I hate hand sanding! But lucky for me power tools and the like materialise in Nerdy Husband’s garage in much the same way as fabric and patterns appear in my sewing room, by magic. Ours is not to question how, instead we acquire them for our own purposes.

Once you have taken off all the sharp edges and have the pieces to your liking it’s time to mark your drill holes.

To limit the risk of splitting the wood and also to make sure we can keep the screws straight we are going to drill pilot holes first and then hand screw our pieces together. You should also counter sink the holes so that the screw head will sit flush with the wood.

If you don’t have a specialised counter-sinking bit you can also use a drill bit that is the same size as your screw head and just drill and very shallow hole on top of your pilot hole.

Drilling the pilot holes – use a bit slightly smaller than your actual screw diameter

Pilot holes and counter-sinking done

Assemble your sleeve board by attaching the upper board to the support and then attach the lower board next. Assemble your pressing board as per the pdf instructions. Scroll down to the next two images to see the finished products for more guidance.


The pressing board is complete now, except that as I write this I realise I was supposed to bring the two pointy ends to a real point, on all 3 sides, like in this image. Ok, I’ll do that next weekend 😉 You can use this board on either side and at either end to achieve the perfect press. You can also press tighter curves on the support piece.

You use both sides of the sleeve board also, the pointy side for sleeves and the squarer side for trousers, but it still needs a little bit more work. Next we will cut the felt and make a cover for both sides.

To cut out the felt I drew around both sides of my sleeve board, then I added 2cm to allow for the thickness of the wood because I want the felt to wrap over the edge.

Do the same to make your cover but this time add 8cm all around.

If you are wondering how I got 8cm, well, I just made it up, but you might need to adjust this number if your wood is a different thickness to mine so here is what I based it on:

  • Thickness of the board: 2cm (rounded up)
  • Thickness of the felt: 0.5cm
  • Elastic/drawstring casing: 1cm + 1cm
  • A bit to wrap underneath: 3.5cm (I could have said 4cm but I like a nice round total)
2 + 0.5 + 1 + 1 + 3.5 = 8cm

Next we create the casing to thread our elastic or cord through so we can gather the cover over our felt and timber. It’s pretty simple, simply fold the outside edge, all the way around, over by 1cm, then repeat.

Press and pin and then stitch close to the inside edge of the fold, remember to leave a small opening at one end so you can thread in your elastic or cord.

Now take your elastic or cord the thread it through using a bodkin or safety pin. I am using cord because the Ikea canvas is too thick for elastic.

Actually what I am really using is called “fancy twine”, funny, but it’s strong and this puppy is going to need some serious gathering if I want it to sit flat and tight to my board.

Place your sleeve board centred on top of your felt, then onto your cover.

If you are using elastic you will need to stitch one end in place then stretch your elastic to get the right fit before stitching the other end secure. It might take you a couple of goes to get the right fit so secure the free end with a safety pin as you test it to save you unpicking it 5 times 😉

For using cord just start pulling and gathering the cover over the board until you are happy with the fit, then tie off and cut the ends, tuck them under out of sight.

Repeat for the other side 🙂

In the end I think my canvas choice was a little too thick for such a small object so I had to give it some help to achieve a better fit. But, hey, first attempt right? I am really happy with how they turned out! 🙂

If you make one too based on my tutorial please link back here and let me know how it went, I’d love to see your versions.

Approximate cost:

Timber: $7.45
Felt: $12.00
Screws $10.00
Fabric $0.00 (scraps)
Cord $0.00 (scraps)
Husband’s help: Roast chicken dinner

Total: $29.45

IMPORTANT: This work is my creation and my intellectual property, protected under a Creative Commons license. You may not use it for any commercial purposes, claim it as your own, or resell it.

Creative Commons License
The Curious Kiwi Sleeve Board Template by thecuriouskiwi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Quick Update on the Singer’s identity

My new ‘baby’

(and I’ve decided she needs a name…one will come to me eventually, just like Scarlett’s did)

Thank you for all your tips on locating the model number. I used the Singer Machine Serial Numbers page first to discover that she was made in 1954.

I also found the Singer 160th Anniversary site where you can also enter our machines serial number and get a cute commemorative  certificate.

Next I worked through the questions in this Singer ID website to discover it is a 201K, but I wasn’t 100% convinced becasue my machine looks slightly different to the one shown on their website.

Singer Model 201K

Then I discovered ISMACS International (International Sewing Machine Collectors Society)  and their Singer Sewing Machine Serial Number Database, which not only confirmed her as 201K  but also told me she was one of 60, 000 made 26 February 1954.

Wow, she’ll turn 58 this year!

A little bit more online snooping taught me that the ‘K’ stands for Singer’s Kilbowie factory in Scotland but mechanically all 201’s are more or less the same and the picture I saw above is most likely a post-1954 model which got a re-styled body and new paint job.

The sub-models for those who are interested are:

  • 201-1 (treadle)
  • 201-2 (geared machine with potted motor, mostly made in USA),
  • 201-3 (external motor and belt)
  • 201-4 (hand-crank)

So I think that means my machine is a 201K-3 (because it definitely has an external motor and belt drive) but the good thing is I managed to find a free pdf manual and even a wiring diagram which means her days of sitting in the corner and gathering dust are numbered.

Keep your fingers crossed, one day she will sew again!

PS: all the above links have been added to my Online Resources page for future reference

14/04/2016 Update: All vintage sewing machine related links are now here.

PPS: If you missed this sweetie’s story or want to see more photos you can check out my previous post here.

Manequim 629 (November 2011)

I have to confess, despite the best intentions, I haven’t gotten very much sewing done these holidays, or blogging. This was my last week off work before I go back (yes, I got an extra week, not my idea, I think the boss secretly wanted an extra week so we all got given one. It has been fun reading all my friends Facebook status updates about struggling through the first week back…but that will be me on Monday).

I managed to finish my JJ (yet to be photographed along with the 1930s dress, I know, I know), had a brief go at my forever (and ever) jeans and cut out this skirt (view A).

I did make it to the January Fabric Hoarders Meet, see?

Evidence & plenty of room for more friends - you should join us!

Despite the weather looking like this:

My sewing room also gained two new friends, courtesy of my Mum who took over all my indoor plants when I moved overseas. These two are “babies” she took off the ones that are growing a bit too large.

I promise the Zygo is actually alive, it has two teeny tiny pink nubbins that you might not be able to spot in the photo but they are there.

I also finally upgraded myself to an Android phone, (Thank you Santa! xx) so now I am an annoying droid-nerd, and the first App I downloaded (after Angry Birds & Cut the Rope – love you Om Nom!) was Evernote for Android.

So then I spent a bit of time tidying up my Evernote database to make it more useable when I am both purposefully fabric shopping and also when I am surprise fabric shopping.

If you haven’t read my super epically nerdy love post about Evernote yet you can find it here.

Here is what the Android app looks like (I am guessing the iPhone app is similar):

You swipe sideways to see each image or text block in the “note”:

(click to enlarge)

Basically I added in more pattern info (line drawing, fabric allowances, notions etc…) which wasn’t difficult. Using the Evernote programme on my PC I dragged it all off the pattern company websites, easy peasy, sync it up, and all within hand when I find that PERFECT bolt of fabric and need to know how much to buy, plus zipper, I always forget the zipper!

Incidentally I also keep a Pattern Wishlist Notebook, so that when the amazing BMW or sale comes up I am ready to pounce.

I have been working on two pretty cool sewing related items with the help of Nerdy Husband, it’s not difficult to convince him to help me when it involves power tools. I’m quite proud of our result but when I show it off I also want to include the pattern. Unfortunately AutoCAD and Windows 7 are currently having a big glitch fight, so I’ll have to knock their heads together and sort them out, but for now, here is a sneak peak:

So instead of sewing I enjoyed quite a bit of extra napping and reading, which has been great – 2011 was a big year for Hubby and I: We got married (just celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary btw, yay us), honeymooned, quit two perfectly good jobs, moved our entire life back across the Tasman Sea, said goodbye to far too many amazing friends, found new jobs each and basically tried to settle back into life making new friends and catching up with our families. Couple that with a few family health crises and it’s no wonder it’s all just caught up with me!

OK, enough of that, here is Manequim 629, yes it did finally arrive, out of order but fabulous as always just the same:

The first time I saw a blouse with knickers attached was in a La Mia Boutique magazine. I made that blouse but left of the knickers (knickers? I guess it is more of a mini-jumpsuit, no?) and made just the blouse part but I can see the benefits when wearing it tucked in to a pencil skirt. I was just concerned about getting the torso length correct, being my first LMB pattern ever I could see it ending up quite uncomfortable (as it was the arms we so tight I had to alter the button holes to button loops). Have you ever made or purchased a top that is more like a mini jumpsuit like this pattern 438 above?

The pink dress has an interesting back with pleat detail, I’m really not sure how it works, There are gaps at the back of the neck but I am guessing there are joins at the shoulder which the model’s hair conveniently covers up.

I also like the blue top, another interesting back detail, the pants fit is pretty terrible, I think she’s standing like that hoping we won’t notice.

Halston is our fashion house for this month and I think they’ve done a good job capturing the style, very draped and Grecian but for all the pretty styles we only get three patterns. The long black dress, the gold top/tunic/dress and the blue draped top. I really like the gold tunic even though I am 90% sure it wouldn’t suit me, the different styling make it look really versatile.

I think these two above are in the section called “Devastate the Party” (love Google translate), my favourite is this gown (excusing the zipper) and my elusive bow blouse is finally patterned, yay.

In “Mix of Colours” I love the blue and black combination (pink belt!) of this dress but not the one-shouldered half sleeve thing, Burda tried to do it in the last issue I received in my subscription but I’m not a fan. The coral dress I completely missed on my first look through, it wasn’t until I saw the front on image in the back that I re-scanned it because the lines and details are really nice.

And just in case you were worried there is a jumpsuit in this issue 😉 and a few celebrity styles to copy, the only people I recognised were Drew Barrymore, Pippa Middleton and Katie Holmes,  I’m not a Katie fan but the top is cute.

Next month looks good, lots of colour, love the look of that dress and black/white top in the Céline section.

I have Patrones 310 & 311 to share with you next so stay tuned 🙂