Sewing as Art: World of WearableArt

The 24th annual World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards kicked off on Wednesday here in Wellington.

Tickets to the shows are pretty exxy and sell out really early so I’ve never managed to go but luckily the local news website has a little slide show up for us all to enjoy 😉 Sorry link is broken 😦

Event’s like WOW are one of the many reasons why I love living in Wellington.

You can read more about the WOW story here and there are more pictures on the official Facebook page.

A few of the shops in town have also been getting in on the fun by entering the WOW Window Dressing competition by displaying their own WearableArt in their windows.

Here are a few that I managed to get snaps of while rushing between meetings:

New World Metro, Willis street

Damn it, that’s what I should have made my wedding dress out of…chocolate! 🙂

Somerfields , Lambton Quay 

Plimmer Shoes, Lambton Quay

The next four are from the windows of Kirkcaldie & Stains (Brandon Street Windows) and I think they are by Fashion Design Students but I was running late and didn’t get a chance to read the the signs:


Probably saved the best until last:

Te Papa Store, Brandon Street



Edible Garden – Stage One progress

Caution: The following is not sewing 😉

Has anyone else noticed that us creative types often share other similar hobbies? I know a lot of you are also into knitting or crochet, which doesn’t seem like too much of a leap. Or cooking, but then who doesn’t love food, huh?!

The biggest leap I’ve noticed is running. There are several blogger’s I follow that I have discovered also run. I do too, but I’ve never mentioned it here. I am a new runner, just mastered the 5k and feeling strong, never thought I’d ever write that sentence!

Or maybe we all just like to collect hobbies, just like our fabric and patterns.

Ok, maybe I am reading too much into it, no one base any important social research on my blogging musings ok?  🙂

Anyway, the other hobby/activity I have noticed a few other sewing bloggers share is gardening. Me too! So I thought I would share.

The previous weekend was amazing weather here in Wellington. On Saturday I did a bit of sewing but on Sunday I decided it was time to go outside and finally enjoy my garden.

Nerdy Hubby got dragged to Bunnings where I acquired a big garden fork, some new gloves,  a hand trowel and hand fork. On the way to the plant section four 40L bags of compost was also added to the trolley. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one with grand gardening plans and the selection of greenery left a little to be desired.

The plan was for strawberries and herbs and I did manage to snag two new strawberry plants whose tags promise much award-winning fruit. The herb selection however was dire and as we headed for the checkout sans-herbs I did spot a small selection of plants from Awapuni Nurseries (Palmerston North).

I had seen these guys on-line but was hesitant to buy until I saw the actual product. The Bunnings selection was sparse but from what I saw I resolved to go home and order from them online.  Clearing my new patch of ground and digging in the compost would probably be enough of a mission for Sunday anyway so I’d get it all ready for when my new herbs arrived mid-week.

This is the patch of ground in question:

It is a small existing raised bed, if a little sad in structure, on the south side of our section and gets plenty of sun. This side also drains well and the fence will protect taller plants from the occasional gentle breath of Wellington’s famous breeze. The house is to the right, out-of-frame, and with access from my kitchen via the back door this makes it the perfect location.

So Stage One is to start my garden here and if I am any good (i.e. plants are still green and edible in a month or two) I will expand. The grand plan (Stage Two and beyond) is to re-do this raised bed with macrocarpa sleepers or similar and continue down the section to the corner where a second, and much larger, raised bed exists in similar overgrown fashion.

So, first I set to work clearing the scruddy plants away. Don’t worry about that camellia, I rescued it as best I could and relocated it. I give it maybe a 70% chance of survival but if it does die off I do have like 20 more of them dotted around the place! 😉 I also found a raggedy old strawberry plant that I put aside to divide and re-plant.

I broke up the soil with my big fork and then dug in my compost. I disturbed many very fat worms (which are great for the soil) but I didn’t encounter any weta, which is very good because those guys creep me out! It was lucky I got four bags of the compost as the soil level was very low, dried out and generally sad looking.

Here is the lovely black soil waiting to give life to some yummy delights. That green bush above it is coming through from the neighbours side and when I find the saw it will be lopped off before it does any more damage to the fence!

Strawberries are planted and looking very happy:

The left row and bottom plant in the right row is the divided scraggy plant I rescued, I am hoping it will pick up now that it has some space and plenty of light. The two top plants in the right row are my new strawberries, it will be interesting to see how different the fruits are compared to the other variety (assuming they are different and the rescued plant isn’t too old for fruiting).

Plenty of room left for the herbs so after I gave them a nice water I went inside and internetted myself some herbs from the Awapuni Nursery website.

And here they are! They arrived on Wednesday (they dispatch on Tuesdays from Palmerston North, how quick it that?!)

I ordered:

  • Coriander
  • Parsley – Italian Flatleaf
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sage

…and because you get free postage when you order 6 or more items and they didn’t have any basil I also added:

  • Tomato – Moneymaker

On the Sunday night I dreamt about lovely big heads of broccoli and lush green silver beet and by Monday morning I had quite convinced myself I was going to be an amazing gardener so during my lunch break I ordered some vegetable seeds from Garden Stuff in Prebbleton (near Christchurch).

Oohh! They also arrived on Wednesday, posted on Tuesday!


I kept to things I know think are easy to grow and that we eat regularly:

  • Carrot (Imperator 58, 1g of seeds)
  • Celery (Utah 52-70, 1000+ seeds)
  • Leek (Musselburgh, 200+ seeds)
  • Pak Choi (Extra Dwarf, 350+ seeds)
  • Spinach (Chivas F1, 100 seeds)
  • Spring Onion (Ishikura, 2g of seeds)
  • Mesclun (Original, 2g of seeds)
  • Mesclun (Oriental, 2g of seeds)
  • Sweet Pepper (California Wonder, 50 seeds)
  • Chili Pepper (Cayenne Long Red, 50 seeds)
  • Free Gift: 30cm Pot Plant Tomato (5 seeds) Awesome!

Now I am not really doing this as a money saving exercise (much like my sewing!) but more for my fun and our health. Gardening is very good for you I have read, both as a stress reliever and also you tend to eat more green stuff if it’s available in your garden. However, let’s back up a bit here, each of these seed packets only cost me $2 and the seedlings above were just over $4 each bunch so even if I am moderately successful that is a lot of food for very little money!

Not all of these seeds can be planted straight away but this weekend I will add to my growing gardening arsenal some seed raising mix and trays and plant what I can. Some can go direct into the ground so depending on how much room I have left after the herbs go in I may need to clear part of that second bed this weekend, weather permitting.

But, there will be sewing too 😉

True Story: Simplicity 2656

Oh my gosh! Actual sewing on a sewing blog! Oh yes, I’m back baby! 🙂

The following is a true story:

While waiting outside work at the end of the day for Nerdy Husband to pick me up a lady walking towards me on the street gave me big smile and began to veer my way.

I smiled back a little bit, how could I not?

Meanwhile, inside my head frantic thoughts are flying around:

Is she smiling at me? I think she is, oh, she’s definitely coming this way… Do I know her?

Oh no, am I supposed to know her?

Is she a client? Ummm, no, I don’t think so…

Property developer/owner? No.

Product rep? No.

Nerdy Husband’s work colleague’s wife’s best friend that I met at a function when I was a bit tipsy?


Uh oh, out of time, she’s too close now, you’ll have to just fake it…

Then she simply said, “I love your skirt!”

“Thanks”, I quickly stammered back with an even bigger smile, and she kept on walking past me.

Phew! Wait…what?

Did that really just happen?

That is so going on the blog!

Now I’m not usually one to gloat but when a complete stranger goes out of their way to compliment your clothing choice, it’s always nice. When that item also happens to be one made by you and being worn for the first time in public I think I’m allowed to feel a bit proud of myself.

The above happened quite a while ago, I feel like lately all I’ve been doing is constantly promising to get photos of my completed pieces. The story with this skirt is I loved it so much I was always wearing it and when I thought about photographing it was in the wash. Then I needed to repair the centre back seam under the zipper just as we were packing up to move and it went in to the too hard box, literally!

So finally, here are some photos of  Simplicity 2656, view A, in an Ikea canvas print from my stash.

Sudden thought: Maybe that nice lady was a seamstress too and recognised the Ikea canvas?

Anyway, I fell in love with this fabric about 2 years ago when I saw it used in a project on BurdaStyle and went straight out to buy some. I knew I wanted it to be a skirt but the right pattern didn’t show up for a while. So I left it to mature in the stash until I bought the Simplicity pattern just before Christmas as a download from

It is made up as per the instructions in a size 16 (even thought the size chart tells me I should cut an 18).


My only change was to make the inner facings and all the pocket pieces in a contrasting lightweight cotton since the canvas was too thick. I also omitted the interfacing at the waistband but I did stay-stitch it.

I did my best to match the centre back seam and it looked perfect until I had to have a second crack at the zipper which moved one side up by about half a millimetre. Still, I’m pretty happy that I even thought to try matching it at all and that I had enough fabric to do so.

This is a great a-line skirt pattern, flattering, nicely fitted at the waist and the pleat makes it super comfortable to wear plus it has pockets!  The best kind of pockets: Useful ones! The other envelope variations look good too so I highly recommend it.

I’ll leave you with some funny out-takes:

It’s been a while since I’ve used my remote for my camera so I forget what settings I liked to use, plus I think the batteries are dying as it took a bit of waving around and holding the mouth just right to get it to work 😉

Manequim 640 (September 2012)

There was a little bit of sewing on the weekend but I have to admit, we had such a beautiful weekend here in Wellington, instead of photographing my Simplicity skirt to share with you I went outside and got dirty in my garden instead!

Stage One of my Edible Garden has begun and I’ll share a bit of that with you later because I am sure there are a few of you who will be interested 🙂

For now I have a fantastic issue of Manequim to show you. I know I often say “this is an amazing issue” about Manequim but this issue really is amazing. I like so many items! After the disappointing last Patrones issue it really cheered me up.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a lookie shall we?

We start with four formal maternity dress patterns. I don’t have any experience with maternity sewing but Melissa of Fehr Trade points out an interesting observation regarding the hems on the pattern sheets, being straight they may not be a true maternity draft. Still, nice to see some glamorous gowns for mums-to-be.

I love all the dresses in the celebrity style section. Gorgeous colours and cut-outs and nice detailing.

Dress 400 is probably my absolute favourite, princess seamed bodice with seams that run down the skirt and little cap sleeves with detail at the hip to mimic them.

Marni is the designer section this month and we are back to just three patterns but Blusa 398 is a definite favourite and multi-sized.

In the sporty section I can’t stop looking at these shorts. They have a cute retro look about them and piping! Who doesn’t like piping?!

The jacket is also great and the dress (multi-sized) is interesting in it’s details- It has some ties at the back and what looked like some sort of partial wrap apron style skirt.

I had a closer look at the flat pattern and sort of tried to assemble it in my head.

Dress 390 pattern layout to fabric

So I think this is how it goes together, and it looks like just piece 11 is the wrap bit. You catch the inner edge of 11 in the side seam between the front skirt (8 & 9) and the back skirt (10/10a), then it has ties on the outer finished edge that you tie around the back, this pulls the upper part of the side seam around to the back creating a small fold at either side and cinching in the waist. I quite like it and have added it to the queue.

Front & Back assembly of Dress 390

I love the caption for the “Chic 24hour” section, “In the rush of the day, it is not difficult to maintain elegance all the time. Manequim reveals the tricks and practical pieces you have to have to be always beautiful”

All these pieces are great, two jackets, two skirts and a top!

I am a bit miffed that for this jacket with interesting shoulder detail they stuck the models arms in the air!

We had the usual plus sized pattern at the beginning of the issue:

And an entire section aimed at the petite (under 150cm tall) but I am not sure if these items are petite in sizing or just recommended as flattering to the shorter woman.

It’s too early in the month to get next month’s preview but I think this issue will keep me busy for a while! 😀

Patrones 318 (August 2012)

I’ll keep this short because I was a bit underwhelmed by this issue if I am honest…

Even the model doesn’t look convinced:

This jacket is nice but I feel like I’ve seen it before in both Burda & Manequim…I still like it, I should really make one of them up! 🙂

The leather skirt is cute but super short and I’m not convinced of the strangely striped furry 3/4 sleeved jacket over poofy sleeves:

The skirt section was good, here are 4 of my favourites, lots to choose from:

The plus section was nice as usual:

Next month is the Autumn Special:

When husbands come fabric shopping…

On Saturday there was an unplanned day trip to Palmerston North. Due to an apparent miscommunication (which was not in my opinion but that’s another story) there was required 3 hours of time killing after we arrived. This involved lunch, a trip to a botanic garden, browsing at a bicycle store (Nerdy Husband’s choice) and finally, of course, a fabric store, because that would only be fair.

By then we were both bored and distracted and wanting to get on with the reason for our day-trip. After a 2-hour drive that he does at least once a week for work anyway, Nerdy Husband didn’t feel like sitting in the car as per usual. He dutifully followed me through the forest of fabric bolts at Moreland’s occasionally commenting helpfully on the items I draped over myself.

Despite the bright pink “sale” signs I didn’t really see anything worth buying, the mood just wasn’t there.

Down the back of the shop are more bolts stacked flat in shelving, they require a bit more digging and effort so I passed them by.

Then, from over my shoulder, I heard Nerdy Husband decisively announce, “You should make me a rugby jersey!”

I turned around to find him enthusiastically digging through a pile of stripey bolts labelled “Rugby Jersey” Knit.

I wandered back to help and here is his final selection:

100% Cotton “Rugby Jersey” Knit – NZD$12.99/m

There were quite a few colour & stripe options to choose from, mostly North Island colour combos, and the astute Kiwi readers will note that his choice is not very “Wellington”.

No, it is not.

Nerdy Husband partly grew up in Auckland and that’s where he played rugby as a boy. Therefore he still possesses some affiliation for the Blue & White (usually when the Hurricanes or Lions are playing poorly), but I love him and therefore I forgive him the occasional rugby loyalty indiscretion.

Nerdy husband rarely asks for something so directly (including finding his own fabric) so I usually push his projects up the queue. His last request is currently drying after being pre-washed, some black merino, to become a warm light-weight pullover for wearing under his riding clothes. Have you seen how much those things cost in the shops? Ridiculous! And that’s if you can find them in your size! So I grabbed a couple of meters from Global Fabrics during their last sale. I should be able to get a long sleeved version out of about $15 worth of high quality NZ merino. It’ll be a quick project, slotted in between my own sewing, and then I can consider how to tackle a “rugby jersey”

See what I did there? 😉

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Wonderfully Creative Wellington ♥

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The Official Sewing Studio Tour!

Right, it must be time for a tour, yes? Hold on tight then, here we go!

First up, a couple of panoramas to give you an idea of the space overall.

I mentioned previously (without trying to sound spoilt) that this is the biggest space I have had for sewing. It is also the fourth iteration of my room, so I am now quite settled in my working methods and know how I like things set up. Here is the plan I drew previously if you missed it.

If you are interested in my previous sewing rooms I have photos here of my second room in Perth. I consider this my first “proper” sewing room and I sewed in here for almost 2 years. The third version of my room was in our rental back here in NZ. It was a tiny room with no space for my layout board. We were there for just under a year and the last 3 months resulted in pretty much no sewing due to it being on the market and the numerous open homes. Thank goodness that is all behind us!

Now please step inside and follow me as we cruise around in a generally clockwise direction.

Let me show you my toys:

My machines: I sew on an Elna 2130 and I love it. I bought this machine after I graduated University as a congratulations gift to myself. I remember doing a lot of careful research before settling on this one and I “lay-buyed” it (gosh, does anyone actually do that anymore?!). It cost me NZD$495 back in late 2003 but I moved to Australia in January 2005 and it went into storage until my Mum brought it over (in her suitcase!!) in 2008. Needless to say it survived the trip intact and it still stitches perfectly.

In 2009 I decided to buy an overlocker and after more careful investigation I chose a Bernina 1150MDA which cost me AUD$995 – I’ll admit I was pretty lucky, the Australian government introduced their economic stimulus package earlier that year, which included giving all eligible Australian citizens (or in our case – registered tax paying residents) a one-off bonus payment of AUD$900 and they encouraged us to spend it, so, adding $95 to it, I did just that 😉 I’ve never looked back – Best. Purchase. Ever!

You can see my computer in this photo too and a couple of drawer sets holding various sewing and crafty items and on top is my Silkstone barbie who has yet to get some new clothes.

Some of you may have noticed the absence of my “fancy red chair” which I am currently sitting on at work, it’s really comfy! I considered keeping it at work but my Ikea chair really is stuffed. I’m actually just waiting to get a chair mat to protect the new carpet.

I also have a new long mirror, very important for fittings…and no, you cannot see inside the wardrobe 😉

My new bookshelf that you saw me building the other day is a bit messy right now, I kind of just shoved everything in there 😉 You can see all the jars that I keep all my little bits and bobs in, my sewing books, a crazy cat soft toy that just cracks me up (surprised kitty is very surprised), sewing magazines and then some junk I have to sort through at the bottom.

On the left of my shelves I keep rolled up paper that includes copied patterns and spare butter paper. I found huge stash of it from my University days, back when I could buy it for like 2 cents an A1 sheet, and it is perfect for tracing patterns and drafting.

This is my garment hanger. It is meant to be taller but I bought a cheap one and the plastic locking thingees on the telescopic bits (so technical!) don’t really work if you hang more than one garment on it, it just slides down to the stops.

Nerdy husband will be instructed to drill holes in it this weekend. I will fix it, I will fix it good!

This is meant for holding items in progress but right now it’s mostly things needing repairs and alterations. The skirt at the front you would not have seen before and it is waiting for a zipper repair.

Why are these things not in the wardrobe? Hah, you almost got me there, but I’m still not showing you inside. A girl’s got to have some secrets 😉 No, actually I just like having them out on display, so I don’t forget about them.

My layout board: This is a piece of pre-finished MDF board from Bunnings. I originally shared my first sewing room with the Guest Room and a queen sized bed. So that I could layout my patterns we bought this board and I used it on top of the bed. However this was way too low and really bad for my back so when we moved we sold the bed and I attached the board to the top of a drafting table frame.

It’s great because I still have room under for storage but it is still a tad too high. I have drawn up a replacement frame and one day I will convince Nerdy Husband and Mechanical Brother-in-Law (who owns a welding device) to make it up for me 🙂

For now I am very happy because this is the first time I can walk around three sides of my layout. I have found I can really only cut curves well in one direction, then to get the other way I need to contort my arm or rotate the fabric, which just messes everything up. I’m not the only one right?

I use a set of Ikea Gorm baskets to keep my scissors, pens and pattern weights etc close at hand. They can’t slide all the way on at the moment but they will with the new frame.

I can also slide my ironing board underneath when it’s not in use which is a big space saver and saves me from having to constantly fold it up. You can just spot my sleeve board underneath the table and in the photo below, hiding on the filing cabinet is my pressing board, if you are interested check out my post on how I made them. For the brave (and power tool happy) among you there is a bonus photo tutorial and patterns included 😉

I bought my filing cabinet from a recycling centre a couple of years ago. It cost me AUD$40 and it was a sad grey colour but I fixed that with a bit of paint. It’s perfect for holding my envelope patterns and magazine pattern inserts and takes up very little space.

My fabric stash is a bit messy right now, as I stacked it away I spread it out and kind of organised it by type. In the basket are fat quarters, I don’t know why I can’t stop buying those things, they are too darn cute.

I like having my fabric out where I can see it, it keeps the stash in check and allows me to be constantly inspired. Also, don’t worry, the filing cabinet shields it from the sun.

I have also realised that the reason I love having so much fabric (and I am aware that this is not a lot of fabric by some people’s standards) is because it is like having a personal fabric shop in my home. I love looking through fabric shops just like I love looking through my stash and re-discovering pieces I fell in love with at the shop and brought home, it’s great, don’t you agree? 😀

Birthday Dress pattern contenders hang in the background too, more on that in a later post.

Pride of place on top goes to my Singer 201K-3, gifted to me by The Amazing J, awaiting repairs, you can read her story here. My collection of miniature sewing machines will join her soon, I just need to find them all!

My thread holder is attached to the bottom of my pin board, you can see how I made it here. I have since added another row and I’ll be doing the same to pin board number two!

Also on top is a fairly major project I cut out last Winter, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog yet. Can you have a guess what it is? I think the fabric selection will at least give away the type of garment. Also I went to the library last week, I LOVE the library!

Scarlett guards the doorway (you never know when someone might sneak in looking for some scissors!) and models the current WIP which was interrupted by the packing, Simplicity 2364.

Behind her are my pin boards, I hung them myself, thank you very much, and I am pretty sure they are level. A bit sparse of inspiration right now but I’ll fit that soon. Do you like my very special bunting?

And that’s it, we are back at the door, now, shoo, off you go, do some sewing or something! 😉

Phew! Sorry, that was a really long post. So as you can see I am 100% ready to go but I have to be honest, I am almost frozen by the overwhelming list of things I want and need to sew! Sigh! My plan for the minute is to just START SEWING! Hence the machines are threaded pink so first up, the WIP must be finished.