Rigel Bomber Update

January is sneaking away…we’re 1/12th of the way through 2015 already, eek! 🙂

How are your bomber jackets going?

Don’t forget to get them added to our Flickr group page by the end of the month so that we can drool over your sweet jackets AND so we can pick our three favourites.

We chose Flickr because it’s easy to see the details of your makes in the bigger images however we know not everyone has an account or likes Flickr so we’ll also be looking for our favourite makes on Instagram. So, if you prefer, make sure you get your picture on there using #rigelbomberjanuary and you’re still in with a chance 🙂

I’ve been chipping away at my jacket during a busy month, with Harri’s help – it’s such tiring work for her 😉


A miniature tiger in my garden

Harri is almost 5 months old now and her growth appears to have slowed a little. She’s still not that big, about 2kgs maybe, she’s getting too big for my pasta scales! Scottish Folds only get to about 4kgs anyway and my vet told me that as soon as the weather begins to improve (southern hemisphere = winter right now) it would be OK to begin supervised outside excursions.

She needs it too, the little zoomer, loves a good run through the house! She can make the jump to any of the window sils, was climbing my bookcase just last night and in the time it takes me to climb the stairs when I get home she’s already been up, down and back up again!

Hurry up Mum-human, my food bowl is empty!

Our new favourite foods include warmed wheetbix with milk, mashed potato, and overlocker thread hoki fish.

I feed her biscuits too, human food is an occasional treat, tell me off all you want, I am sure my vet would too if I told him 😉 but how boring must biscuits be all day, every day? Our family cat ate rice risotto, Watties spaghetti, pretty much whatever we ate and lived to be 18 😀

Her new thing (there is always a new thing added to the ever growing list) is to wait for one of her humans behind the door way and when they walk past, leap at the back of their legs to mock hamstring them.

My little indoor tiger!

Lucky for Harri we had always decided that our cat would be an outdoor kitty. Lucky for us she can run off all that energy exploring outside while we are at work during the day. We have her micro-chipped and as soon as our kitchen renovation gets underway our new back door will get a micro-chip controlled cat flap.

Until then I want to introduce her to our backyard slowly, so she gets to know her way around. I still remember the night we bought her home and she got lost just by going round the other side of the couch!

You can snigger at my kitten-babying all you want but I love my Harriet. I haven’t really heard any cat fights since living at our new place but I do see other cats using our backyard as their own personal short-cut so Harri needs to know exactly how to get back inside if she needs to.

So the plan was to buy Harri a harness and take her for little walks to familiarise her with the back yard and surrounds but then I saw this:

I thought. “I could do that!”, and left the idea floating inside my head.

During the failed WSBN Levana trip a brilliant idea struck me, you might remember this photo:

On the right is 40cm of faux tiger fur that I bought for a total of $6.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

I’ll just wait for the laughter to settle down.

Are you done? Good 😉

I printed off Veanna’s pattern and held it up to Harri…hmmm… Harri is much smaller than Boffi.

So I made some modifications: one SKA (short kitten adjustment) and an LTBA (less tubby belly adjustment) later and we were away:

The inside is plain calico and I had the webbing and other bits and bobs in my stash.

Curious Kiwi Top Tip: Never throw away an old bag without cutting off the hardware!

“What is this green stuff?”

“Why are you laughing human?”

Harri was not a fan of her harness at first but after we got outside she was sufficiently distracted by grass, wet feet, birds and bushes to almost forget about it.

I say almost because sometimes she would walk a bit funny and twice she just sort of fell over like the fainting goats.

It fits her better than I thought but I still watched her like a hawk just in case.

“Grrr! Queen of the…Backyard!”

“Ugh, this green stuff is making my paws wet!”

We spent about 20 minutes outside, exploring half the garden and smelling each individual blade of grass, and then my smart little mini-tiger led me back to the door and inside again all by herself.


I think she enjoyed her excursion. The breeder did tell me when we picked her up that the mother wasn’t big on spending time outside but I think it’s only fair that Harri has a choice. I hope after a few more outings I can get her to follow me out un-harnessed and see what happens.


It’s black and fuzzy and being dragged away by a black fuzzy thing

Wow so June is done and dusted and July is speeding by, I’ve seriously struggled to find sewing time this month. I did complete my top-secret project that I’ll post as soon as I am allowed to but for now, here is some Lady Grey progress.

Spoiler alert: It’s not finished…yet.

These photos are from Monday night, Harri and I had the house to ourselves and I seriously thought I might get to at least 95% done. I dreamt about my rainbow swallows dress on Sunday night but I HAVE to finish Lady Grey first and when I am done my machines are going to need one heck of a vacuum out. This wool makes its own fuzz babies everywhere!

Normally when I have a day of sewing I can convince Harri to take a nap in her bed, which I move into my sewing room. Her bed has had an extra incentive added recently, a hot water bottle.

Yes I spoil her, I’m allowed 😉

This is an example of situation normal, taken a week or so ago:

But on Monday night it just wasn’t happening. Instead we had this:

And then this:

And this:

There was not going to be any situation normal this night. Harri LOVES this wool. At one point I turned around from stitching a sleeve seam and she was on the cutting table dragging the WHOLE coat shell towards the edge. I have no idea where she was planning to go with it but she was giving it her best shot.

So she’s not the best helper but I guess when only one of your humans is home you have to apply all your love to that human even if they really just wish you’d curl up in their lap.

I did achieve quite a lot, in-between plonking Harri back on the ground every 10 minutes but when she decided she liked the look of the iron (which was HOT), I called it a night.

Sorry in advance for these absolutely terrible night time photos but we’ve been over this: It’s WINTER!

The shell front and back, is all assembled and top stitched, just the collar left to go on:

The lining is 80% there, I have to pre-hem the bottom then facings are next followed by the sleeves and then I can attach it to the shell.

I am debating if I want to try my hand at a pair of bound button holes (and that reminds me that I don’t even have any buttons picked out yet!). I think a bound button hole would look better than a machine stitched one with this fabric and look infinitely more professional and “RTW”.

Colette has a beautifully photographed tutorial and they look like miniature welt pockets to me, which I have made successfully before. I think I just convinced myself…

So yes, that’s as far as I have gotten. Indie month is officially over and I am dragging my heels on my second item but I’ll get there this week and I am really excited to finish this coat.

Over the next few days Kat and I will be winding up the month with some posts featuring a few of our participants.

Did you enjoy Indie pattern month? I hope so. I found it motivational and a great way to show our love for the independent pattern designers. I definitely spotted a few new patterns I hadn’t considered before! I also enjoyed Burda month because both themes left the sewing open to suit everyone’s individual skill level and it also meant I could pick a project that suited my sewing mood the current season. How about you?



Sometimes, like when you are frantically trying to finish a dress to wear to a mid-Winter Christmas afternoon/dinner with lots of sewing friends at which you have promised to wear said dress, it is easier to leave the kitten blissfully playing with whatever* it is that has distracted her long enough away from attacking your hands for you to continue the painstaking slow and careful hand-stitched hemming:

And when she got tired of that there was a handy bag of fabric scraps hanging under the cutting table, pre-warmed by the morning sun, to curl up inside. She seemed to know exactly the best time to hop inside and judging by the perfect kitty circle she settled into I suspect this is not the first time she has discovered this sleeping spot:

*No actually important sewing patterns were harmed in the taking of these photos. This particular pattern sheet is for present wrapping…and now, apparently, kitten distraction. Also yes I know I shouldn’t be teaching her that it’s ok to play in pattern tissue but she was having so much fun. Don’t you worry, this is the only pattern tissue she’ll get her paws on…touch wood…

And since you have all been so patient while I selfishly indulge myself with cat photos here is a sneak peak of me putting the final touches on my completed secret Indie project…the Lady Grey coat will now resume…


“In which aisle can I find your kitten-proof rubbish bins?”

indie badgeI had a super busy weekend but I did get to do some sewing…and some of it was even for me!

Nerdy Husband is so happy with his merino top that he has requested more. At the moment he is working outside for his job and since it is winter it means he is wearing it everyday. I made him a second one in charcoal grey last month but that still means I have to wash them both every 2 days so on Saturday I was taken fabric shopping (squeee!) and more merino was bought. Global Fabrics had it on special at $20 a meter which means I can make his merinos for about $30 each, that is super cheap!

Then we went rubbish bin shopping.

I know right! Fabric shopping AND rubbish bin shopping in one day? I am a lucky woman 😉

The problem is that Harri thinks it’s hilarious to jump into my open-topped rubbish bin in my sewing room and then play in it. Sometimes she just tips it over to play with the contents. Just that morning we were in the kitchen eating brekkie and she trotted in with a paper scrap in her mouth that looked distinctly sewing related.

This is OK if it’s just paper but, as we have already discovered, she really likes thread. She munches on the offcuts and scraps from my overlocker catch bin and I worry she will swallow some and that would be bad. It also means I have nowhere to throw away sharp things like bent pins and old rotary blades. I’ve been putting them in the kitchen bin but one day I’ll forget and she will jab or cut her paw when she jumps in! So the kitten-proofing of the sewing room continues and a pedal bin (green with white polka dots) was purchased and success! It is kitten proof…but not the box it came in 😉

Rubbish bin box, not very kitten proof!

I swear I did not put her there. I turned around from unwrapping the bin and she was looking out at me, true to the Scottish Fold breed, she loves her boxes!

I spent the rest of Saturday cutting out my top secret project:

Then on Sunday the merino tops began, I bought enough fabric for three of them and whipped them up production-line style because I knew that if I made them one at a time I would get halfway through the second one and be super bored and want to stop. So instead I cut all three out first, then attached all the arms.

Next came the decorative top stitching (faux-coverstitch). This is the part that takes the longest, after racing along on the overlocker, switching to the Elna feels so slooooow! To make that stitch formation it feels like 1 stitch forward, 2 stitches back! But I did it!

Then arm/side seams followed by collars and finally hemming, phew!

NH was impressed with his instant merino wardrobe, his next request?

Hey you know this hoodie I’m wearing…

Sigh! 😉

Before I could move onto some me-sewing I had to give my cutting table a good clean:

Argh, Merino fluff! Everywhere!

And then finally! I got to work on my Lady Grey, with Harri’s help of course.

This is actually a really good photo of the wool which is black but with a chunky weave that’s hard to photograph:

We loves watching the bit that goes up and down

So this is as far as I got before it became too dark to sew black (must address the lighting in my sewing room!)

Look at all that fraying!

The shell is assembled, seams top-stitched. No sleeves yet but I am already really excited for the final garment. I love the vintage feel to this pattern and I think it will be super flattering and girly with the big lapels and twirly bottom.

Tonight I will make dent in the top secret sewing project stitching. I have to dig out the appropriate coloured thread and then remember how to set my overlocker up for rolled hems. I want to get some tricky and potentially monotonous finishing done first, then I’ll begin to assemble the rest.

Make sure you pop over to Kat’s blog next and check out her interview with indie pattern label Sinbad and Sailor.


All those spools of thread, you’re just asking for trouble really!

On Friday evening I came home from work to find a length of grey thread at the top of the stairs. I thought, “that’s odd” and went to pick it up only to realise that it wasn’t just a small length of thread. One end went to the left, the other to the right. I followed the path to the right first. It went into the kitchen, in and around the table legs, under a chair and into a certain kitten’s bed where is stopped.

The trail to the left, as you might have already guessed, went into my sewing studio. It also took a scenic route, around the ironing board legs, cutting table legs, sewing chair, along behind my fabric shelves, and eventually ended back where it began…at the overlocker.

You know how sometimes when you are telling a story you embellish just a little bit to increase the LOL factor? I swear on my kittens soggy thread trail that there is no exaggeration in the above words. I’m actually quite impressed with her agility but less impressed with the 20 meters or so of overlocker thread I had to untangle and bin.

It’s useless to try and punish a kitten for being a kitten. As far as Harri is concerned everything is a toy…except for the actual toys, she doesn’t play with those. Scrunched up newspaper, plastic bags, a beer box (we are awesome role models) and a plastic Tim Tam (biscuit) tray are the current favourites. So far, the solution for anything that Harri has decided could be a ‘toy’ but that I do not want to be a ‘toy’ has been to remove it from sight. Obviously this strategy will not work for sewing machines and now that Harri can make the jump onto my sewing table the new defence will have to be invisibility.

On Friday night I went on the hunt for my overlocker dust cover. Both my machines came with ugly plastic covers and one day I cut one of them up with the intention to take a pattern from it. I imagined a pretty pair of covers but then I realised that spending valuable garment sewing time on a new dust cover for my machines was a stupid idea since my machines never sit idle long enough to gather any dust…but now…well, I needed some Sewing Machine Invisibility Cloaks.

I couldn’t find them, instead I got distracted and began a big tidy of my sewing room and forgot that I was actually meant to be looking for.

On Saturday morning I got up, fed Harri and then let her out to roam (during the day she has the whole house, except for our bedroom, and at night she is confined to lounge/dining/ kitchen). I went back to bed with a coffee and read for a little bit. About 30 minutes later I got up, showered, ate brekkie and decided to finish off my tidying and then do some sewing.

That’s when I noticed a guilty looking kitten in the hall chewing on a tangle of grey thread and watching me while doing it.

Like she knew!

The new thread trail was not as long as the first but this new game was going to have to be stopped immediately so my tidying continued with more focus and eventually I found the dust covers.

Ugh, not very pretty huh?

After just 5 seconds I couldn’t looking at it any longer. Fabric was chosen, machines were threaded and this appeared:

I looked at my Elna…hmm, if I was a kitten and my new favourite ‘toy’ had just vanished, that other spool of thread is looking pretty tangle-rrific right now!

So then this happened:


And now I am happy. Oh wait…this post still requires at least one Harri photo, just so you know I’m not totally mad at her, here’s one:

Where did they go?


Tracing Burda patterns is like eating peas…

Burda Sew Along I don’t like to eat peas.

Apparently I used to although I was too young to remember the day I decided to stop.

Of course my Mum remembers.

One day my Uncle R visited from Australia and when Mum was dishing up dinner for everyone he asked to not have any peas. I guess I realised at that point that eating some foods must be voluntarily and I asked for no peas too and decided that I didn’t like them from then on and never ate them again. Well, that’s not entirely true, I am sure there is more to the story, probably an argument with a stubborn child who believed they had some new and fantastic knowledge about food choice and was keen to exercise it.

I have occasionally eaten peas since “growing-up”. NH eats them and sometimes I cook them for him so I eat them too. I don’t really dislike them but they are a take-it-or-leave-it vegetable option for me. I think it’s the chasing them around the plate bit that I don’t like more than the taste. If they are mixed into a meal (Chicken Fried Rice for example) or if I am given them as a guest at someone’s house I will eat them and not say anything but if I can fill my own plate I am more than likely to leave them behind.

I guess that story is a long way of illustrating my point that in life I think we often make a snap decision about something based on the opinion of others. These decisions mean we might not give something a try or when we do, we do so with the expectation of failure and a closed mind. Sometimes we just need to give something a go and make up our own mind.

Perhaps that’s a bit deep.

What I am trying to poke my unpicker at is that many people give Burda a lot of cr*p for their pattern sheets. I think the lack of love they receive online puts a lot of would-be Burda converts off.

A whole fashion magazine of sewing patterns? There must be a catch, oh yeah, you have to trace from this crazy looking sheet.

But how else do you expect them to produce a full magazine of patterns each month for just NZD$13.00?

Sorry if you think tracing is hard work, I don’t agree, and Burda isn’t really that bad.

As a member of Team Trace All My Patterns, I’ve been tracing from them for years. Obviously, even if you are on Team Cut The Patterns, you cannot, since they overlap lots of other pattern pieces.

And yes, I completely agree when they have halved the number of sheets recently to cram more patterns on each one it did make it a little bit more difficult but still, you get an edge index, 4 colours and different line types to follow. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. There is a method to the madness, a way to find your pattern piece within the scribbley mess of lines and after a while your eyes start following the right line and you sort of blur out the rest of the pattern sheet. I call this phenomenon “Burda Vision”, it’s magic!

Argh! Where is that sleeve piece?!

Ah ha! Same sheet, but through the eyes of a practised Burda Tracer – believe it or not you too can acquire the magic Burda Vision with patience and practise.

I’ve even got black and white large format copies of Burda pattern sheets and I still manage to trace from them.

Ok, I’m a visual person, I admit it is possible that I might find it easier than others but, before you judge, take a patience pill and give it a go with an open mind.

There are lots of tutorials out there on “How to trace Burda” or any pattern really, I’m not reinventing anything here, we all know how to trace. I just thought I’d show you how I deal with Burda in particular, the following works for me, it’s efficient, take from this what you need and jump right in.

First thing you need to do is grab some supplies:

  • My tracing medium of choice is “butter paper”, A1 sheets specifically – It’s a designer thing so don’t stress if you have no idea what that is. You can buy anything that is slightly see-through, a large stationary shop should sell rolls or large sheets of tracing paper, velum, film, they may even have butter paper too. I used to trace on cheap cooking paper from the $2 shop.
  • A pencil and a couple of pens – I like to trace the outlines in pencil and mark on darts and other pattern information with pen
  • Rulers for the straight lines, circle template and curves if you can be bothered
  • Some scrap paper for notes
  • Pattern weights (optional) can come in handy for keeping things still. Bluetack or masking tape work great too. Kittens are not recommended.
  • Scissors and sticky tape, sometimes you need to stick tracing sheets together for larger pattern pieces

I’m guessing you’ve already worked out your Burda size and if not go do that now:

Taking Measurements & Burda Size Charts

“Tall” Size Chart

First we need to work out what sheet our pattern is on and which pieces we need to trace. Remember this example from my earlier post?

Burda Instructions 01a

It was my intention to make just one item this month, the dress version of this skirt above, but I changed my mind, because I can 😉

Cardigan 117, Burda 04/2010

Then I was going to trace this cardigan but I realised it is one of the “extra” patterns that is shaded in red, not the best for this example, but good for you all to know that in each issue there is an “extra” pattern that is all shaded red with no overlaps so if you want you can cut it out or better yet, photocopy it , then cut it out to preserve the other patterns it overlaps.

“Extra” patterns are coloured in red and do not overlap each other – they are often spread across several sheets

I am going to make this cardigan (in this cute knit) but for this example I’ll trace another pattern that I’ll also try and make instead.

Skirt 111, Burda 07/2009

My pattern is on Sheet H and I am following the red lines for size 42. I usually trace a size 40 or 42 and take in the waist as needed. I need to trace pieces 1 through 4 and piece number 8.

On my scrap paper I write all this down for quick reference and checking off. I don’t generally trace in numerical order plus and as you can see, you don’t always get a simple list of pieces numbered 1 through 8, sometimes the pattern calls for pieces 22-26 & 32. It could get confusing so I cross them off as I go.

Now that I have my pattern pieces listed and the right pattern sheet in front of me the only thing left to do is actually find each piece to trace within the mess of lines. Burda has a system, basically you find your coloured pattern pieces number along what I call the “edge index” then trace a line perpendicular across and you will hit that piece.

I might run my finger around the shape to familiarise myself with it and then I lay my butter paper over and get tracing. I refer to the mini pattern pieces in the description as I go so that I pick up all the markings and grain lines.

Don’t forget to write on those little numbers (circled in purple above) when you are disoriented by the bewildering labyrinth of Burda “instructions” they will be your map for seam construction: 1 joins to 1, 2 joins to 2 and so on…

That’s it!

Now we start tracing.

Bonus Curious Kiwi Tip: I always trace the largest and most complicated piece first then work backwards towards the more simple and smaller pieces, that way it gets easier and faster as you go.

You’re welcome 😉

To prove that it isn’t as hard as you think I am going to show you in real-time me tracing this Burda pattern, but in fast forward, otherwise that would be super boring, and fast forward is much more entertaining.

I was going to try to make this more LOL funny but really once I got started I just kind of got on with the tracing 😉 Also I don’t do any talking so I tried to add some great Kiwi tunes instead but YouTube doesn’t like that *sad face! Anyway, I managed to add some random instrumental track from AudioSwap (which should actually be called AudioLame)…enjoy:

12 minutes, 26 seconds

…aaaand we’re done. Now I am ready to cut it out and start sewing…finally 😉

Sewing helper update: Harry is officially Harriet, or Harri for short and my little “runt” is now 10 weeks old and weighs 900 grams. She’s put on over 300 grams in 3 weeks since leaving her litter mates who were hogging all the food!

If you are wondering where my little furry helper was during all of the above, well I was hoping to get her into the video but Friday was a big day for her. Most of Saturday was spent underneath my cutting table snuggling in my scrap box.

More kitten pictures I hear you cry? Why I thought you’d never ask!

“Ohh wool remnants, my favourite!”

“No more tracing Mummy, attentions please!”

Sick of kitten pictures? Sorry, not sorry 😉 Now go eat some peas trace your Burda patterns.