Elbows out!


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?

Social sewing, the best kind of sewing

On Sunday I hung out with the Wellington Fabric Hoarders crew again. It’s been a couple of months since my last visit, not only did I have a great time I was also very productive.

I hemmed my (belated) birthday dress, cut out a new JJ blouse & Esther cardi. We also gossiped about sewing and discussed who we thought would win versus who we would rather win (in order to give the mighty All Blacks the easiest road to the finals) in the Australia versus South Africa* quarter-final rugby game.

So I completely forgot to take any photos during the day since we were using my phone to play music (yay) but here is a picture of all my sewing items ready to go. I am quite proud of my compactness, there was a time when I used to try to bring most of my sewing room with me!

Inside these two bags are my sewing machine, overlocker, 4 cones of black thread, 3 cones of grey thread, power cords (which I almost forgot) and a double plug , two sewing patterns and fabric for the Esther and JJ, two Manequim magazines for show-and-tell, (belated) birthday dress ready for hemming, two pairs of scissors (fabric scissors and, of course, paper scissors) and a plastic box full of bits and bobs (pen, pencil, chalk, unpickers, spare bobbin, white and grey thread, spare needles and extra sewing feet etc). For this meet I knew exactly what I wanted to do so it was quite easy to be prepared. (Also I totally need to make a copy of my Bernina bag that fits my Elna!)

And here is a picture of a kitty I saw as I was leaving, he was enjoying the sunshine in the Massey atrium.

On the way home I happened to drive by the Fabric Warehouse’s new location with the intention of taking a new photo of the front but what’s the point of driving past if you don’t go inside? 😉

The store is amazing, bigger than their old premises with lots of new fabrics and really cool vintage sewing items on display. Parking is heaps better and it is much easier to get back on to the main road. I’d like to say that I came away with some amazing new fabric purchases but all I have to show for my visit is $100 worth of interfacing. I know that sounds like a lot of interfacing but I really have none left in my stash, I have slowly used is ALL up. So I got some special wool interfacing (the black stuff) for a coat I currently have cut out (but I’m not sure if I’ll get it done before Summer arrives) and just some plain white in two weights.

So that was my weekend. I did intend to photograph the (belated) birthday dress when I got home but I decided that you’ve seen enough of the view from my verandah and Curious Husband suggested a very good location to take the pics at next weekend. Maybe I’ll try to give you guys a little tour of Wellington with a new location for each new item I sew. Maybe, lets see how long that lasts shall we? Hehe, hey it might get me out of my “ugh, photos” slump and I think you’ll enjoy it too. Here is a sneak peek for now 😉

*For those who are playing along we decided that South Africa would probably win (we were wrong) but we would rather Australia win since they would be an easier beat in the upcoming semi-final. Although the counter argument was raised that if Australia did win and then beat us in the semis and went on to win The Cup then that would be bad since they are so close to us and would rub it in out faces ALL. THE. TIME. Where as South Africa is farther away and we could almost ignore their gloating. The counter counter argument to this was that if South Africa win, beat us in the semis and ultimately win The Cup then they will be the first team to win two Cups in a row and their gloating will be x1000 which will be bad x1000.

Ahh, sewing and Rugby, I am so home!

Accidental Fabric Shopping Wednesday

I had a headache all day at work yesterday, you know the kind that continues to over stay its welcome even after your second set of panadol for the morning? Yeah, one of those. So by lunchtime I was dying to get out for some fresh air and Wellington put on a beautiful day hinting at an amazing soon-to-arrive summer.

There are two things I absolutely love about the lead up to summer in Wellington. Firstly we get days like yesterday, secondly (and most importantly) all the winter fabric goes on special 😉

So I only intended to wander down to the end of Lambton Quay and back but before I knew it I was standing outside Arthur Toye and their ‘5 – 50% off sale’ sign.

Well, when you’ve made it that far you may as well go the rest of the distance and here’s what I took back to the office.


This wool stripe (80% wool/20% polyester) is warm but light weight and will be perfect for another Esther or similar to see me to the end of spring.

I’ve been thinking of making another JJ blouse and this 100% cotton will be perfect, blue and pink is such a sweet colour combination!

Curious Husband recently suggested that I take a good look at the items I’ve made that I love to wear often and recreate new versions of those. I hardly ever make more than one of any pattern, JJ, Kasia and Jenny are probably the only exceptions, yet I often think after finishing a successful item that I would like to re-make it. Sometimes you don’t know until you’ve had to live with it for a few months, do you?

So if I had to pick a top 3, items that I LOVE and wear over and over they would be:

  • My JJboth of them actually, the fit of this pattern is amazing and with or without the ruffles it’s a great blouse pattern…and it’s free, go get it!
  • My Jenny skirt – this one usually, this one less often, I think because the first one is more neutral and goes with everything, it also fits really well and I think it’s quite flattering.
  • My Stitches Asymmetrical Folds Skirt always attracts a compliment and the a-line shape makes it comfy to sit in all day long. I can wear it with boots and tights or heeled sandals in warmer weather.

So that’s a pretty good list to start with and these items that I am familiar with and can probably make pretty quickly while tackling the longer term projects.

So curious readers, tell me, what are your top three patterns that you make over and over again, why do you like them so much?

There will be a post involving sewing this weekend, promise…

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

Craving Coffee & Fabric

I have some more fabric shops to share with you that I didn’t get a chance to visit before I got impatient and published my draft of the first three, I didn’t want you guys to think I’d forgotten about you 😉

A few more days after my last fabric shopping trip I headed up to Palmerston North to visit my Dad and help him with his tux selection. Of course a google search turned up another Morelands store and I figure if I’m going to be driving for 1.5 hours I may as well indulge myself and see how this shop stacked up against their Lower Hutt outlet before the return trip back to ‘Welly’. Most Kiwis might consider a day trip to ‘Palmy’ North a tad too far but having lived in WA for so long (where everything is a minimum 30 minute drive away) it’s really quite a short trip for me. It’s interesting how your perceptions can change no? Palmerston North is a short deviation off SH1 via SH57, you can drop by on your way north for a lunch break and quick fabric fix.

Morelands Fabric Outlet Palmerston North
517A Main Street
Palmerston North 4410


Well I was a bit disappointed to find a note on the door announcing that the shop wouldn’t be open until 1:30pm that day since this store is twice the size of their Upper Hutt version. I couldn’t hang around until then but that didn’t stop me fogging up the glass as I gazed through the windows. I’d like to go back but I probably won’t get the chance this trip. The selection looked very good and the half-price sale signs called to me but I really had to get back to Wellington and lodge our “Intention of Marriage” form.

With two weeks to go until the big day the nerves were building and I was seriously craving a good Wellington coffee…oh and some more fabric 🙂 With a bit if spare time after visiting the florist in the city I popped by another store I was already familiar with. They have relocated since my visit here last year and there was a small moment of panic as I walked up to their very empty old tenancy but a relocation sign sent me a bit further down Willis street and into their new larger shop:

Arthur Toye
The Grand Arcade
16 Willis Street
04 473 6942
Mon – Thurs 9am – 5.30pm, Fri 9am – 7pm, Sat 10am – 5pm


My previous experiences at Arthur Toye have been a bit hit and miss but their new store is absolutely brimming with fabric and another 50% off all stock sale! Their selection was huge and interesting, well laid out and well labelled.

A quick duck into the BNZ Centre (famous for being Wellington’s ugliest building) for some lunch and I stumbled upon Sherazad.

BNZ Centre
B1 No. 1 Willis Street
0508 333 333 (toll free)

Map (ignore the photo on the google map, that’s the Old Bank Arcade, not the BNZ Centre)

What a find! Specialising in all kinds of silks from bridal to the exotic this store is amazing. Prices varied but the quality was excellent. There were a few cottons and other blends but mostly you’ll have your breath taken away by the absolute beauty of  the fabrics and whether you can afford them or not it’s worth a visit.

Fabrics Direct
97 Ghuznee Street
04 385 6767


I’m afraid I can’t say much about this store as I only spotted it as I was heading home and went for a quick look but unfortunately they were closed. Google seems to think they are in Newtown so perhaps they have moved or have opened this CBD store aswell. I did peak in the window though and there seemed to be an interesting collection of fabric bolts, I will definitely have to go back for a better look. If anyone else has been in please let me know what you thought.

I have decided that not only does Wellington have great coffee, they have great fabric stores too! This is by no means a complete list of fabric shops in Wellington, there are also two quite good Spotlights and plenty of other smaller independent stores which I have yet to discover but based on the above I think Wellington sewers can count themselves very lucky.

Wonderfully Creative Wellington ♥

Tucked down in the bottom corner of the globe sit two islands inventively named ‘North’ and ‘South’ which make up New Zealand. Don’t let the simple names fool you, New Zealand is a country rich in culture, creativity and immense beauty.

I am biased of course. For those of you who are new around here I currently live in Perth, Western Australia but originally come from Wellington.

Wellington is the creative capital (and the actual capital) of New Zealand and I love my city. That’s where I am right now, organising the final preparations for my wedding and enjoying spending time with my family and friends. While I enjoy living in Perth it isn’t home and in the near future (we’re talking a couple of years away) I hope to return to New Zealand. I have mixed emotions about the shift, I know it’s going to be quite stressful and emotional and I’ve made so many wonderful friends in Perth. But home is where the heart is and my heart never really left Wellington. An added bonus (if I do end up in Wellington) is that there is not yet a Burda Style Sewing Club set up there and I am more than happy to put my effort into starting another one of those and slip right back into Wellington’s cultural heartbeat.

Righty oh, enough ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’, on to some sewing: After a busy first week I took a half day off as a reward and did a little recon of some fabric stores. Perth does OK in terms of fabric shopping* (they do pretty well actually, but you know, ‘the grass is always greener’ and all that) and I’ve done the Melbourne CBD rounds so I thought I’d see how Wellington stacks up in a little trans-Tasman Battle of the Fabric Stores.

(*I’ll do a post on Perth shops when I get back on 2011)

You might be surprised at how limited my Wellington fabric shopping knowledge is but I’ve been away for 6 years and previously I experienced the streets of Wellington as a poor design student so for this trip home I am enjoying looking through very different eyes.

In my crappy little Toyota Echo/Yaris hire car first up I gunned it out of Lower Hutt:

Morelands Fabric Outlet/Fabric Barn Lower Hutt

195 High Street,
Lower Hutt


I’ve never been to this shop ever, I don’t even know if it existed in my Wellington sewing days but it’s a nice sized shop with some interesting fabrics of reasonable quality although a bit lacking in the labelling department. Down the back I found discounted wools (some really nice weaves) and some cute printed flannelette, obviously winter stock they want to move on for Summer, but the entire store was also on sale with 50% off all fabrics and trims. Speaking of trims there was a nice little selection of them too. Don’t let my lack of purchase put you off, I am trying to keep a firm handle on my fabric shopping until I use up some of my stash in 2011. This shop is definitely worth a drive out to see with plenty of free 2 hour street parking (but please check the signs).

The Fabric Warehouse

25 Hutt Road
Pipitea 6035
04 473 8150


Now I know this store has been around a while and I made a couple of purchases during my visit last year. If I return to Wellington this store will definitely be one of my regulars and a favourite along with Global Fabrics (see below). The parking is limited and getting back out onto the main road is a bit of a headache at the wrong time of day but their fabric selection is impressive, all well labelled and of excellent quality. When I was there last year they were having a secret 2 day only sale so I’ll have to work out how to get on that mailing list! I let my guard down and came away with a beautiful 100% printed silk, 2 meters will either make a nice dress or skirt and something else. There were plenty of other fabrics that I’d have happily splurged on (and may go back for) but I had one more stop in mind to finish off my afternoon.

Global Fabrics

15 Garrett Street
Te Aro 6011
04 801 8887
Mon-Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri 10am-5:30pm, Sat & Sun 10am-4:30pm



When I got back from my Melbourne trip and started writing a blog post about their shops I visited the Fabric Stores website and was really excited to see they had links to their NZ stores which are known as Global Fabrics. So this was my first visit to this store and on first impressions as I parked outside it didn’t look very big but inside the store is actually a ‘u’ shape which hugs a coffee shop that you can access from the fabric store. Wellingtonians love their coffee. This shop is on par and perhaps even slightly better than their Melbourne counterpart. With two whole tables devoted to NZ Merino wools and a small selection of beautifully printed swimsuit lycra the staff are friendly and knowledgable and all the fabrics (of which there are plenty) are well labelled and beautifully laid out. I accidentally bought 1.5m of a really cute lycra which was labelled as Zimmerman and a stripped knit just because…and another visit is probably on the cards aswell 😉

Accidental fabric purchases: 100% silk, striped knit and 'Zimmerman' lycra

There are a couple of other stores I didn’t get to but I’ll be sure to catch those next time I am out and about and needing a fabric hit, keep your eyes open for another post.

UPDATE: Check out part two of this post here.