“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.


Fabric: Studies prove more effective than pain killers

This is a short and apologetic post. I do not have a Burda tracing post ready to share with you.

Instead I narrowly avoided a migraine yesterday which left me sitting quietly on the couch for about 4 hours waiting for my vision to return to normal. Migraines for me are rare but I am lucky that I get an “aura”  warning. As much as partially losing my sight freaks me out (I call it “sparkly vision” but actually it’s called scintillating scotoma if you are interested) the upside is that it gives me forewarning to take whatever I need to avoid the actual migraine.

Enough depressing health stuff, don’t you worry about me, I know what to do with these things. Today I will move about slowly, drink lots of water and eat well, I’ll be back to myself by this evening.

Squinting through a receding spangled blur I still managed to buy some fabric from the internetz and I am pretty sure it helped more than the special blue pills I swallowed earlier.

I have been obsessed with Dolly Clackett’s Meta Dress since one of the WSBN girls pointed her blog out to me. I wanted that fabric baaaadly, I search a bit half-arsed for it initially before getting distracted by something else and temporarily forgetting about it.

Then yesterday afternoon Pinterest delivered. Someone pinned it from an online UK store and I jumped on that woven gold so fast I think my credit card got whiplash.

I didn’t buy exactly the same colour-way as Ms Clackett, I almost did, then I saw this one instead and decided I liked the colours more:


It is from Minerva Crafts and you should go get some too 😉

Now, allow me to distract you with too many gratuitous pictures of Harry’s first venture into my Sewing Studio on Sunday afternoon. He moves fast, so they are all a bit blurry!

Like all cats I have ever known when he sees a camera he runs straight at it.

So many good hiding places to practise our new favourite thing: Jumping out at the unsuspecting humans! Also my cat photography skills need upgrading, bear with…

No lace was harmed during this adventure.

Forewarning for all who are interested: On Friday Harry goes to the vet for 1st vaccinations, micro-chipping and a “special” operation (you know what I mean). After said visit you may notice I refer to Harry as Harri (short for Harriet) because if the YouTube video I watched on the weekend has any truth to it, he is more likely a she. The vet will obviously have the final say, stay tuned…

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