WOW Betty, why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer…

The spectacular World of WearableArt (aka WOW) started in Nelson in 1987 and moved to Wellington in 2005. The 2 hour long show features music, dance, and wearable art from New Zealand and all over the world. It’s something I’ve always longed to go to but I’ve never actually made it for various reasons. So when I was invited along to a VIP table for the awards night of course I said, “YES!”

Can you see it?

The perfect excuse to make a ridiculous dress and enter the Sewing Indie Month Dressed to the Nines competition.


Now WOW is all about the WOW so a simple pretty dress just won’t cut it. There needs to be an extra level of, well, WOW!

I though hard about what I could make, I didn’t want to put a heap of effort into a dress I could never wear again and I only had 2 weeks!

While I was hunting through patterns and fabric stash I picked up the Sew Over It Betty dress pattern that was sitting in my sewing queue. I had already paired it with the retrotastic Riley Blake Geekly Chic Cameras. I realised it would be perfect as a start – cameras and fashion and all that – and I decided the extra WOW could be achieved with some sort of fascinator…perhaps with little cameras all over it to match the dress.

I don’t a have a link to the fabric because apparently this is all sold out…everywhere 😦


I started with the dress first – this was my first Sew Over It pattern and I really love the instruction illustrations. They have a sweet hand-drawn look but are really clear. I especially like the use of pattern and shading to show the different sides of the fabric.

After I traced the pattern I reduced the fullness of the skirt, checking it against my Colette Hawthorn pattern piece as a guide. I folded the extra fullness out of the center then corrected the waist line, flat pattern measuring to check it still matched the bodice.

This was another dress requiring a corner piecing job on the skirt due to the narrow quilting cotton width so more fun selvedges hidden inside 😉

Betty is a pretty simple pattern, a 4 dart bodice with a full circle skirt, neck/armhole facings and CB invisible zipper so the instructions don’t need a lot of extra detail. I followed along, only changing the order of a few steps.

I used my new favourite sewing notion, fusible stay tape, on the front and back neck opening. This stuff is seriously great! I have 4 rolls all half inch, a black and white in knit and a black and white in woven. It’s perfect for stabilising the fabric edge before inserting zippers too, you should go buy some.

I assembled the front and back of the dress first, then I stitched the side seams so I could adjust the fit later. The facing went on last and I like the clean finish on the armholes/shoulders.

It stitched up really quickly and the only other change I made was to machine sew the facing along the zipper to avoid hand sewing.

I almost always do this, for a stronger finish and, honestly, to avoid hand sewing. I’m not sure why so many patterns insist on hand sewing the facings down. My hand stitched facings always come undone eventually. Perhaps in this case is it a nod the vintage inspiration of this pattern.

I under-stitched the facing but I still found it liked to flip out at the bottom of the armhole. This was solved by pinning it in place and sewing a short line of stitching in the ditch of the side seam. I think next time I will fully line the bodice.

Next, hemming!

A week before the show and my dress almost finished I decided I would need more floof and went on the hunt for a petticoat. Long story short, I bought the “Value Swing Petticoat” from Let’s Jive in light blue because the price was right, I liked all the colour options and they are located just up the island so promised I would receive it in 1 day by courier. It did arrive as quickly as promised and while it’s not the softest most luxurious petticoat the floof-per-$ factor is impressive…photos later in this post…

The petticoat is a little bit long for my liking but it’s easy to roll up at the waist. I pinned the dress hem where I thought it looked right while I was wearing it. This turned out to be 17cms from the bottom of the skirt and I marked this all the way around, changing to 15cms at the back to allow extra length over my bottom.

After I pressed this up I trimmed off some excess and tired it on again discovering that it was a bit too short…ok, a lot too short! I’d only left about 4.5cms to play with so I re-trimmed the hem neatly at what was now 12.5cm/10.5cm from the bottom of the skirt and to maintain as much of that length as possible I had the brilliant idea to use bias on the hem…then I spotted the rest of the Hug Snug Seam Binding that Kat gave me. I told her at the time she’d given me way too much but I’m not complaining now, let’s just say it saved the day!

(Remind me that I owe you a Bohemian hot chocolate as thanks Kat!)

I stitched this on as close to the edge as I dared, pressed up and stitched the hem. Hug snug is perfect because it’s so light weight and the woven edge won’t unravel. I also get a sneaky bit of yellow hidden inside, it totally matches. I need to buy more, all the colours!

OK this post is long enough now and I haven’t even show you the final photos. I’ll write about making the fascinator in a separate post (here!).


These photos were taken at Aotea Lagoon where there are lots of great photos spots.

Getting in the car was super fun. I’ve never worn anything remotely and poofy as this so I was unprepared for a face full of skirt when I sat down. NH was well entertained.

Here is a before and after floof shot:

The whole time I was working on this dress and the fascinator I was really excited. About going to WOW but also about dressing up. Who doesn’t love dress ups?! I’m pretty sold now that the 1950s is my favourite dress ups era.  

Despite my excitement I was a little nervous that I was overdoing things. After I arrived at the bar I noticed everyone else was definitely dressed fancy-pants with lots of sparkles and slinky fabrics but there was nothing else remotely costumey. This didn’t ease my nerves until a random group of ladies called me over to tell me how much they loved my dress. I felt much better then and went to join my VIP group.  I didn’t know anyone else that was invited but I got a lots of compliments so I settled in for a fun night.

More fascinator photos next post, promise.

Just before we headed off to the show they announced the prizes and I won Best Dressed! It was awesome, plus the prize was shoe vouchers! SHOE VOUCHERS!

I got more compliments before we went in to the show and I also met this awesome chicky called Michelle who was dressed 1950s as well. We got a quick selfie at the end of the night – isn’t her hair amazing?! Michelle’s dress is from Amazengarb in Paraparaumu.

We look fabulous!


Obviously WOW was AMAZING! The music and dancing were both incredible and of course all the entries! We weren’t allowed to take photos or video but you can see some of them behind us in the photo above and there are some great shots on the WOW Facebook page here.  The volcano projection on the tent for the Aotearoa Section was my favourite part (the drums rattled my chest the model dance routines were perfect). My favourite entries were Neptune’s Bride in the Open Section and Celcus in the Other Worlds Section.

I was completely exhausted at the end of the night from trying to take everything in!


Pattern – Sew Over It Betty dress, size 14.

Removed fullness from the skirt to match Colette Hawthorne.

Next time I will lengthen the bodice approx. 2cm and fully line to the waist. I also need to add some bra strap keepers!

Fabrics – Riley Blake Geekly Chic Returns (Geekly Chic 2) Cameras in Blue by Amy Adams, Hawthrone Threads, USD$27.00/m, purchased 04 August 2014.

Refracted La Sylphide

I haven’t spent a lot of time online these holidays (I don’t even want to look at my unread count in Feedly!) but I have done quite a lot of sewing and acquired some new “toys”.

Yay 🙂

I’ll share these with you soon and round up my 2013 sewing year but first I have my last two projects to share.

Late last year I made a rule for myself that I wouldn’t put a new item into my wardrobe rotation until I had posted about it. This was supposed to encourage me to get out of my photography slump and take some great photos – and it actually worked! I’m enjoying taking photos of my items more and I feel like my creations are getting better and better. I am particularly proud of the last two makes of 2013 so I really need to get them posted and into my wardrobe 🙂

First up, another La Sylphide – sort of sewn-along with Lauren but mostly sewn along with Kat. Oh yes, it’s another “Twinsies” photo shoot, our favourite kind 🙂

We found a great new photo location too: Hello Wellington, you’re looking gorgeous!

These photos were taken up on a hill in the suburb of Maupuia. That morning it rained so much I thought we would have to cancel our plans. I’m glad we were patient, Wellington weather has been tricky these holidays and we were eventually rewarded with sunshine and 360 degree views of Wellington!

You can see the transmitter mast of Mount Victoria on the left, the location of our last twinsie shoot.

Water storage towers with amazing graffiti – perfect for amazing sewing photos 🙂

I don’t have a lot to add to my previous comments about this pattern – it’s just great and you should make one too!

I made this version to wear on Christmas day, the cotton is bluey-green and pink stripes, a twist on the traditional Christmas green and red.


Ok, maybe that is pushing it.

I can tell this dress will get a lot of wear, it’s prefect for work and I think it will be great in winter with a blazer, tights and boots.

Excuse the back wrinkles, I drove us to our location and it was hot sitting in the car.

I did things a little different for this version – my fabric stripe ran diagonally from selvedge to selvedge so I thought it would be fun to cut the back panels to create a chevron effect.

To do this I added seam allowances to the pieces that are normally cut on the fold. I also cut off the button placket so that I could cut them with the stripe running vertically, then I interfaced the life out of them to prevent any warping.

I made a quick little tutorial on my pattern alterations, it’s not very complicated but I know sometimes just visualising the changes can help, you can find it here.

The La Sylphide dress is from Papercut’s Covent Garden collection so dancing seemed appropriate.

But watch out for that cheeky Wellington wind – I had several knicker shots to delete out of the 400+ photos we took!

Wanna see Kat’s dress too? Her post will be up soon but here are a few of our twinsie photos – there were far too many fun shots to choose from:

Papercut Love

Kat’s dress looked great against the blue graffiti – graffiti fight!

Just kidding!

Looking towards the Hutt Valley

Can you see any more twinsie photo shoots on the horizon?


Pattern – Papercut Patterns La Sylphide (Covent Garden Collection), dress, straight size S, skirt lengthened approx 16cms. Other pattern alterations as per this tutorial.

Next time I would like to lengthen the bodice by 1 or 2 cms, and lengthen the neck ties.

Fabric – 100% cotton (but I suspect may contain some silk) from The Fabric Store (formerly Global Fabrics), Wellington, $8/m

Other notions – 12 plastic buttons from Pete’s Emporium, Porirua

Credits – Big thank you to Kat’s sister Jenna, for taking some great twinsie photos and giving us a break from the tripod/remote set up 🙂

Shakes and Stash Sharing

Ahh wibbly wobbly Wellington, I love you so much, but please (!) enough with the earthquakes already 😮

On Friday afternoon at 2:31pm central New Zealand experienced another good shake, a 6.6 centred about 72 kilometres from Wellington at a depth of 8kms.

A second quake of 5.4 followed 6 minutes later, I was still cowering in the doorway with 2 of my work colleagues.

If I could pick where I am when we do get “the big one” our office building, at just 34% of current code (strengthening work has begun, we are supposed to achieve 70% by early next year), would not be it.

We are only on the first floor but it swayed and swayed, the two earthquakes felt like a single really long quake.

Nerdy Husband, who was home ill, rung me immediately and after a quickly exchanged “I’m OK” we were cut off, the mobile network was overloaded.

From our boardroom we watched people empty out of buildings on to the streets. There was more shaking and our 4th staff member arrived back at the office, we all agreed we should shut up and go home.

The Terrace was gridlocked with cars as most of Wellington’s CBD decided to do the same. I had trained in that morning and I correctly guessed that, like last time, the trains would all be cancelled. I finally got through to NH using a combination of text messaging, Facebook chat, Google chat and Voxer,”My work colleague R is giving me a ride home”

“Get home now as fast as you can!” was the reply.

Our office is close to the motorway on-ramp but first we had to battle our way down The Terrace giving way to fire engines that were flooring it up the street, sirens blaring, horns blasting, squeezing between the cars in the smallest of gaps.

It sounds frantic but things moved slowly, I thought we’d be stuck in traffic until dark but we finally got on to the motorway and the rest of the trip was fast, we were very lucky to beat the worst of the rush.

Image from

At home things were better, I was with my husband, I cuddled my kitten, all our family had finally checked in, everyone was either home, or on their way. We watched the news, braced for each new rumble, absorbing all the aftermath images of Seddon and Wellington.

It’s taken me a while to get this post written, I didn’t go online at all during the weekend. On Monday, back at work, I was overwhelmed from the emails and messages from my readers, thank you so much for thinking of me, for thinking NZ, and for taking the time to even just simply ask, “Are you OK?”

“I’m OK”

As I said in my last earthquake post, Wellingtonians are used to the threat of earthquakes, but ever since Christchurch it’s been different.

We had Pizza for dinner on Friday night, then on Saturday I re-checked our emergency supplies* and then I did my usual grocery shop. Going about life like normal is the best way to feel, well, normal. I even made scones on Saturday, post-earthquake scones are a new tradition in our house. This time around I made two batches but if we get another 6+ then I think I may have to upgrade to muffins!

It feels settled now, we had a few more notable aftershocks over the weekend but that’s about it. There is a lot of statistics being thrown around, probabilities of more quakes and their possible magnitudes but I prefer not to listen. NH, who is a geologist, likes to grumble at the seismologists on TV, they make him grumpy with their numbers. They are trying to give people answers to very difficult questions but really there isn’t anything they can tell us with absolute certainty. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, be as prepared as possible and have a plan.

On the radio this morning, in response to another caller claiming that little quakes are “good” because they relieve stress on the fault lines (they don’t necessarily, they might just move it elsewhere) another caller angrily rebuked them stating that there is absolutely nothing good about any earthquake. What I saw at the supermarket was the cleared bottled water shelves, as well as first aid kits and lots of canned food in peoples trolleys.

People are preparing themselves, that is one good thing.

OK, back to sewing – I had a BIG list of sewing tasks to complete on the weekend and with NH sick with the flu, poor darling, it meant he’d probably be comatose on the couch most of the weekend and I’d get to sew ALL. WEEKEND. LONG.

So that didn’t happen, I just didn’t feel like sitting at my machines. Instead I tidied my room (it didn’t really need it but I like doing it) and a few other little tasks.

I started the hand stitching for the hem of my Lady Grey, it’s all I have left to do but after I put it down to go make some lunch I came back to this:

I think I’ve mentioned already, Harri loves this wool. I have a 1.0 meter scrap that I leave out for her but the sun was shining on THIS bit 😉

So I moved on to the Rainbow Swallows dress. I unpicked the casing for the elastic at the back, it’s just not working, the elastic distorts the side seams and it’s puffy at my upper back.

I took in all the seams 1cm then realised I still need to take out some extra fabric at he back so I added two long darts. It looks better now, next I will baste all these seams and try it on to make any final tweaks from adding the buttons, collar and sleeves.

Then I  moved on to Vogue 1250, it is currently un-hemmed and needs to have the sleeves finished. I also had this weird transition between the stitched upper side seam to the folded lower side seam. It was an easy fix, I just pinned out the stitching line for a more shallow intersection. Then I turned over the sleeve edges twice and pinned them. The hem also got pinned up but I need to check the length…I was also not in the mood for trying things on 😉

Now I was running out of things that didn’t need sewing so I decided to do some tracing.

I’ve had McCall’s 2718 for a while now, intending to make up a proper fitting shell to compare with new patterns in the hope that I can use it to better pick the correct size and solve the more obvious fitting issues before beginning to sew.

I despise making muslins/trial garment/ toiles, whatever it is you prefer to all them, unless it’s a super important project, I just don’t have the time, the inclination or the patience.

I traced the front bodice piece and then I noticed how many other pattern pieces seemed to be included in the envelope.

I decided to read the instructions.

Basically, to make the fitting shell, you only need about 5 pieces. The idea is that you fit the tissue by pinning it on yourself and make some alterations then stitch the shell up in a gingham (the grid helps you identify any additional fitting issues) and complete any additional alterations before transferring then back to paper and creating the master pattern.  After you finish that process you learn to apply your personal fitting changes to the additional included pattern pieces to make a basic dress, shirt and skirt.

I could see all kinds of problems doing a “tissue fit” with my traced pattern pieces (like ripping!) so I decided to stop until I could acquire some of that brilliant tracing fabric from Made Marion. Kat introduced me to it and once I get my hands on some, I’ll introduce it to you too, you’ll be best of friends, I promise.

Then I started looking through my stash and I remembered a little idea I had a while ago but never got around to starting.

You already know I love my stash, I say it often enough, every single piece, and I have no guilt 😉 I often sift through it linking fabric to patterns, changing my mind, re-discovering pieces I had forgotten about.

I don’t sew fast enough for my imagination!

the curious kiwi stash – August 2013 – excludes interfacing, linings and “novelty” fabrics

I was thinking that each time I go through my stash I should pull out a few pieces to share with you, tell you how long I’ve had them and what plans, if any, are currently tacked to them. Regular stash sharing posts for inspiration and to remind me of all the pretties I have at my disposal.

What do you think?

Here are three that I dug out on Sunday:

Italian silk | April 2010 | Joveeba relocation sale | 112cm x 2.3 meters | for AUD$30.00

It’s so pretty with a slight crepe feel to it and I love the combination of purple and black on white. I was thinking this could be a gorgeous La Sylphide.

Printed Satin | 2009 | Spotlight Innaloo | 114cm x 2.0 meters | for AUD$10.35/m

I don’t currently have any plans for this fabric. I loved it when I picked it up but now I am not so sure about the champagne colour with my complexion. I am thinking about trying to find a solid to match that blue-green to break it up…and bring out my eyes *flutters lashes*

100% cotton | February 2010 | Tessuti online | 110cm x 2.5 meters | for AUD$24.00/m

This piece has always been marked for the Vogue 8280 “Galaxy Dress” if I ever get up the courage to try it…but really it will look stunning as any dress, maybe even as a Belladone?

Ok, last photo, of Harri “helping” me hold down the slipper fabric for photographing 😉


*If you’d like some more information about preparing for a disaster, the New Zealand Civil Defence “Get Ready – Get Thru” website has some excellent advice on what to do in each situation, tips for making a survival plan and emergency kit contents.

The Craft & Textile Lover’s Guide to Wellington

(click for larger images)

I picked up this pamphlet when I was in Made on Marion the other day. I was trying to find a digital link to share with all my Wellington readers and potential Wellington visitors but there doesn’t seem to be one online…so I scanned it in for you guys instead.

I’m pretty sure that’s OK, it’s available for free in several stores around town.

We have some great fabric and crafty shops and the more that know the merrier I think.

I’ve also made a list with a few others that aren’t on this map.