A Japanese Miette Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aprony is a word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pattern – Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt, size 5

Omitted the ties, extended waistband 4cm both sides.

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

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


The North Island Sewing Meet…is on!

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Four-leaf Clover in Rayon

When I saw Kat’s Hummingbirds Clover dress my “err, I like this pattern but not sure if it’s for me” changed to “Ok, I HAVE to make this…like right now!”

Later in the week we caught up in person and I actually got to try her dress on.

Kat cut a small and I squeezed into it no trouble and with a lot less excess fabric at the waist than I expected. So I pushed the pattern up my list and had a dig through my stash. Kat used a Rayon (you need a fabric with good drape) and I had a few options but nothing that was whispering “Clover” to me.

When I popped into Spotlight to buy contrast for the 0 Degrees Bleuet I saw that all the Rayon was discounted.

Good luck right?

Absolutely! So I grabbed this black and white dot print for 30% off.

My lace is from a bag of scraps I bought a while ago from Alison Blane’s studio sale.

I’ll always remember going to that sale because it was only a few days after Wellington was rocked by a several strong earthquakes. Everyone was on edge and fabric shopping seemed like an excellent distraction but the old building she is located in scared me. The elevator was so ancient looking that climbing the stairs to level 3 seemed the safest option and I arrived out of breath but happy to see so much pretty fabric and lace.

I know that sounds totally crazy but it’s funny the things that stay with you right? I always think of that lunchtime shopping mission whenever I look through my bag of pretty lace.

Anyway, back to the dress…I added 20cms to the length and then cut it out during an epic mad “must cut out ALL THE THINGS” session one weekend when I discovered the joys of rotary cutting.

I used to cut out with my scissors and pins and because I find cutting out the most tedious of all sewing tasks I tend to do a big whack of it all in one go. I do love seeing the neat piles of cut projects ready to be sewn and then picking one up to start.

So this was the first time I’d cut out an entire garment with just my rotary cutter. I loved how easy it was and I ended up cutting out six projects all in one go and now you’ll never pry the rotary cutter out of my hands!

Later, when I grabbed the folded fabric to start sewing, I discovered that sometime during my epic cutting session I had managed to chop the point off the top of one of the front pieces.

I really have no idea how it happened! Maybe the fabric was already cut from another piece and I didn’t see the overlap when I refolded or maybe I just cut it off in a moment of distraction.  Anyway, I had no more fabric to re-cut it and no inclination to go out to get more so I ended up piecing it on from some of the scraps…

You totally can’t tell! ;)

After that minor mishap the rest of the dress sewed up no problems at all with typically excellent Papercut instructions and well drafted pieces that lined up perfectly.

I copied Kat and used “Hug Snug” seam binding for my lace seams. It’s kind of like lightweight ribbon that you bind the raw seam edge with. It adds almost no extra bulk, feels silky smooth and adds a pretty pop of colour inside. You can also curve it with steam, just like bias.

My “Hug Snug” is the same colour as Kat’s because that’s where I got it ;) She bought quite a lot of it and gave me a nice long length to try out.

After my dress was mostly finished I tried it on and was a bit disappointed by how it looked. I didn’t own any belts that suited it so I made myself hang it back up and reserved judgement until I went shopping.

I’m happy to say that I felt much better wearing it with a belt but even more so after I chopped the bottom off.

If it’s too long this dress can easily turn frumpy so I chopped off most of the extra length I added in two steps, firstly aiming for knee length by cutting just below the knee.

When you remove a lot of extra fabric weight in a bias skirt the hem will often bounce up higher than expected. Once it was settled I cut a second smaller section off to my final length.

I haven’t been feeling particularly photogenic lately and so I’ve not really liked any photos of my new makes. However since I made poor Sandra take photos of me in the same dress on two separate occasions I decided I’d just get a little funky with the photos and get this blog draft finally posted!

I still wasn’t sure about the dress after the first couple of wears and I came pretty close to taking it right in and sticking an invisible zipper in the side but now after several wears I do really love it. It’s very comfy but also flattering and a fun dress to wear during winter with some coloured tights to cheer you up ;)

Here it is sans crazy legs for comparison:


Pattern – Papercut Clover Dress by Brooke Tyson, size S

Added 20cms to the length, then chopped most of it back off ;)

Fabrics – Rayon from Spotlight Porirua, lace off-cut from Alison Blane.

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Let’s all meet up in Rotorua and sew!

I have been busy scheming with fellow Wellington Sewing Blogger Sandra, planning big things…like a mega sewing meet in the central North Island!

Are you a sewist in NZ and wanna come hang out with us for a weekend?

Great, let’s do it!

There are still some details to iron out (hehe, iron, see what I did there?) but the general idea is that we’ll hire a suitable venue in Rotorua to meet up on the first weekend in August 2015 – that’s Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd.

We’ll sew, gossip, swap fabric/patterns/knowledge, go fabric shopping, eat food and have a fun weekend making lots of new sewing friends…and hopefully some clothes too ;)

We’ve created a form to aid us in our planning, please follow this link for more details and to register your interest.

The WSBN are very keen and already planning mini buses full of sewing machines cruising up SH1.

Hopefully you are as excited as us and maybe we could even make this an annual event.


0 Degrees Bleuet

You guys have heard of 6 Degrees of Separation right?

New Zealand has a bit of an inside joke regarding that saying (we even have a mobile phone company named for it), but in Wellington it seems even less and we often joke that it’s actually 0 Degrees.We know this is technically not possible but live in Wellington for even a short period of time and you’ll quickly realise the exaggeration is no understatement. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve met someone new and we’ve discovered some way we are linked through circumstance or mutual friend/s.

So, moving on to the point of this post: The Wellington Sewing Bloggers now number more than 30 lovely ladies with a passion for sewing and blogging and Wellington.  With a group this size you won’t be surprised to learn that several of us own the same patterns and we also often buy the same fabric.

Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes deliberately.

This is what spawned Leimomi’s idea for the 0 Degrees of Sewing Separation Challenge. We would all link up by pattern or fabric and create a branching chain of fabulous clothes that  all link us together.

This is my link in the chain, a second Deer and Doe Bleuet:

Excuse the wrinkles, I wore it all day at Fabric-a-brac :)

It links to Kat who has made the same dress in a cute mushroom fabric and Jenna who used the same mushroom fabric to make a Pauline Alice Alameda…and that’s how it goes. Check out all the links in the chain as they are published on Leimomi’s post.

The main fabric from Cotton and Steel and it is AMAZING (capital letters required). It was beautiful to sew and feels great even after a few washes. Japanese fabric is like that.

I had 2.5 yards but due to the narrow width I didn’t have enough to cut all the final small pieces. So I picked up some matching pink broadcloth of similar weight and weave from Spotlight.

Spot my new sewing toy – an ElnaPress – Squee! Perfect interfacing.

I initially thought I would cut the button band (which I cut off last time), collar, bow and sleeve bands from the pink but I was worried it would become too bitsy and the beautiful main fabric would be less special. In the end I squeezed the button band and upper collar (by piecing the under side) onto the Tangrams and only cut the collar upstand, bow and cuffs from the pink.

Kat helped me alter the sleeves because I didn’t want the gathers and puffiness and then I decided I wouldn’t use the chunky cuffs.

I stitched most of this on a Sunday and I had the dress about 80% finished (just needing collar, sleeves and hemming) when I put it on my dress form at the end of the day.

I felt so happy with my fabric choice and I decided that, although I normally prefer dresses with sleeves, I actually quite liked this one without. I consulted with members of the WSBN who mostly agreed with me but suggested I make up one sleeve and baste it on to check.

I tested the altered sleeve in calico first and it was pretty close. There was still a bit too much width so I folded that out and cut the first sleeve from the tangrams. I basted it in place and then I decided it needed more pink. I cut one of the cuffs down to bias width, folded it up and pinned it in place. It looked so good that I just went ahead and attached the second cuff and didn’t bother asking any more opinions ;)

I’m not very good at inserting sleeves. I usually catch each side three or fours times and have to do a lot of unpicking so this time I tried something new. I can’t remember where I first saw it or if it has a technical term other than Use All The Pins but it worked really well.

My only real hiccup with this make was running out of thread while sewing the hem the night before our meet. I had to steal some off the bobbin and even then I only just made it.

We celebrated our challenge with Yum Cha:

Mango Pudding!
Me, Kirsten, Kristina, Jenna and Kat

And then we wandered over to Te Papa for some fun group photos:

Leimomi, Me, Jenna, Marta, Zara, Kirsten and Nina


Pattern – Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, straight size 42

Altered sleeves, removed self button placket and reattached.

Fabrics – Cotton and Steel Moonlit Tangrams Navy, pink broadcloth from Spotlight Kaiwharawhara.



My sew-jo has been a bit low lately, if you can’t tell from the lack of blog posts :)

But this is not a post to apologise for that, we all have our sewing ups and downs…this is a post about actually sewing.

It all started with a phone call from Kat at 4pm on a Saturday. We chatted about a lot of things and, of course, sewing. I complained about my low sew-jo and how I really just couldn’t be bothered right now…even though I have 4 projects already cut out. We talked about what inspires us to sew and I mentioned how I had a lot of fun sewing the dresses for TMS Frocktober 2014  because I was actively photographing them to share later. Kat said just recently she had really enjoyed Instagramming her Hummingbirds Clover dress progress and got a lot of fun and encouraging comments along the way…and that’s how #MuseJennaB42mrw started.

Kat’s challenge to me was to sew up one of my cut projects (specifically the Muse Jenna) before our planned afternoon tea on Sunday afternoon…the next day…

So I put the chicken in the oven for dinner, threaded my overlocker up with black and got to work, ‘gramming along the way ;)

I got as far as neckband before I stopped for dinner.

Then I finished up to the cuffs before I realised that I better choose some buttons. Nothing in my stash did the trick so I decided to go with pearl snaps. They play in with the slightly vintage vibe of the pattern and my fabric choice however by the time I dug them out it was dark and a little bit too late to be outside sewing with a hammer.

On Sunday morning I attached the snaps and then I was all done.

Apologies for boring inside photos…it’s taken me way too long to get around to taking these and the wind was not cooperating…so you get my soon-to-be-painted hallway wall ;)

The arms are a teeny bit long so I’ll adjust those next time my overlocker is threaded up black…and it’s just as comfy when buttoned up.

It’s such a fast make because I stitched about 90% of it on my overlocker, only using my sewing machine for the shoulder yoke gathers and the top stitching.

Muse has 4 patterns published now and considering it’s the creative child of one of my BSFF (Best Sewing Friends Forever) I’m a little embarrassed about how long it’s taken me to actually stitch something up.

I wanted this post to be a bit of a review of the experience…except that hasn’t happened!

I was skim reading and sewing so fast that I accidentally skipped a whole section and as I was interfacing the button band I thought, “whoa, shouldn’t I have attached the bottom band already?” And then I saw the ENTIRE page that I just flipped past in my haste ;)

But it’s ok, you don’t really need to hear what I think of the instructions because I know Kat and therefore I know they are awesome…this is the perfect wardrobe builder with lots of options, opportunity to personalise and to top it all off it’s an easy pattern to whip up in an afternoon…or you can take your time if you prefer ;)

You should check out her latest pattern, the Melissa…great name huh? ;)

The hearts are some sort of poly knit from The Fabric Warehouse but the black contrast is merino from my stash.

So this is a good time to mention that my favourite merino source is now online. Levana is merino heaven! So if you’ve been coveting some soft and warm NZ Merino then you’re in luck. Shipping within NZ is pretty reasonable and they will ship internationally, you just need to email them for a rate first. They will be adding more of their fabric range to the online store shortly.


Pattern – Muse Patterns Jenna Cardi, Size 38, variation B (hip length with long sleeves)

Next time I will shorten the arms about 2cm.

Fabrics – Poly knit: The Fabric Warehouse, $16/m. Black contrast: merino from stash.

I’m not normally a fan of cropped…anything…but I think I need to make the waist length version next to wear over some of my dresses come winter…but first I’ll sew up the Gillian dress, one of the other projects I already have cut out.

I learn’t a new NZSL sign on Valentines day…and the translation on the right ;)


Rigel Bomber January Round Up and a winner!

It’s time to say goodbye to January and Rigel Bomber month :( Thank you to everyone who sewed along with us, we really enjoyed seeing all your fabulous jackets :)

Sonja, Kat and I have each picked a winner from the Instagram and Flickr group photos. There were so many amazing bombers it was really hard to choose so before I tell you my pick, I thought I’d share some of the great jackets you all made.

Click on the images for links:

Loving the colour combo of Sonja’s Rigel…check out her blog post to see the fabulous lining too…and also SNOW…JEALOUS! 

Carly made two fabulous Rigels – this one features the perfect fabric combo for the shoulder triangles. Check out her blog post for some great detail photos.

Rose’s Liberty Rigel is a nice twist on floral.

Sandra’s Rigel is covered in dragonflies! :) 

One word: Rawr!

Chloe isn’t sure about her quilted Rigel. I think it’s fab so why don’t you go and tell her how much you love it too?

And now….

(drum roll…)

My pick for Rigel Bomber January is…

Katie from Handmade Thread’s Bomb Bomber quilted Rigel! 

I need Katie to take me fabric shopping because I LOVE this print…not content to just let the fabric rock it alone she also quilted it. Great ribbing colour choice too. Check out more gorgeous photos on her blog!

Congrats Katie, Kat will be in touch soon :)

Check out Kat and Sonja‘s Rigel round ups on their blogs.

It’s all over now but we had so much fun. A big shout out to Kat and Sonja for dragging me into this, it was the perfect push to finally make the Rigel and take you all along with us.

Have we convinced you to get this pattern into your life? It’s available as PDF download too.

Happy sewing, I’ll leave you with a shot of all the Instagram #rigelbomberjanuary tags :) xx

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