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 :o

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.



Sewing as Art: World of WearableArt

The 24th annual World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards kicked off on Wednesday here in Wellington.

Tickets to the shows are pretty exxy and sell out really early so I’ve never managed to go but luckily the local news website has a little slide show up for us all to enjoy ;)

Click on the picture to see more:

Event’s like WOW are one of the many reasons why I love living in Wellington.

You can read more about the WOW story here and there are more pictures on the official Facebook page.

A few of the shops in town have also been getting in on the fun by entering the WOW Window Dressing competition by displaying their own WearableArt in their windows.

Here are a few that I managed to get snaps of while rushing between meetings:

New World Metro, Willis street

Damn it, that’s what I should have made my wedding dress out of…chocolate! :)

Somerfields , Lambton Quay

Plimmer Shoes, Lambton Quay

The next four are from the windows of Kirkcaldie & Stains (Brandon Street Windows) and I think they are by Fashion Design Students but I was running late and didn’t get a chance to read the the signs:


Probably saved the best until last:

Te Papa Store, Brandon Street


Did you like this post? You may enjoy one of these:

Sewing as Art – Berber Soepboer Dresses

Sewing as Art – Architectural Fabric Art Installation

Sewing as Art

When husbands come fabric shopping…

On Saturday there was an unplanned day trip to Palmerston North. Due to an apparent miscommunication (which was not in my opinion but that’s another story) there was required 3 hours of time killing after we arrived. This involved lunch, a trip to a botanic garden, browsing at a bicycle store (Nerdy Husband’s choice) and finally, of course, a fabric store, because that would only be fair.

By then we were both bored and distracted and wanting to get on with the reason for our day-trip. After a 2-hour drive that he does at least once a week for work anyway, Nerdy Husband didn’t feel like sitting in the car as per usual. He dutifully followed me through the forest of fabric bolts at Moreland’s occasionally commenting helpfully on the items I draped over myself.

Despite the bright pink “sale” signs I didn’t really see anything worth buying, the mood just wasn’t there.

Down the back of the shop are more bolts stacked flat in shelving, they require a bit more digging and effort so I passed them by.

Then, from over my shoulder, I heard Nerdy Husband decisively announce, “You should make me a rugby jersey!”

I turned around to find him enthusiastically digging through a pile of stripey bolts labelled “Rugby Jersey” Knit.

I wandered back to help and here is his final selection:

100% Cotton “Rugby Jersey” Knit – NZD$12.99/m

There were quite a few colour & stripe options to choose from, mostly North Island colour combos, and the astute Kiwi readers will note that his choice is not very “Wellington”.

No, it is not.

Nerdy Husband partly grew up in Auckland and that’s where he played rugby as a boy. Therefore he still possesses some affiliation for the Blue & White (usually when the Hurricanes or Lions are playing poorly), but I love him and therefore I forgive him the occasional rugby loyalty indiscretion.

Nerdy husband rarely asks for something so directly (including finding his own fabric) so I usually push his projects up the queue. His last request is currently drying after being pre-washed, some black merino, to become a warm light-weight pullover for wearing under his riding clothes. Have you seen how much those things cost in the shops? Ridiculous! And that’s if you can find them in your size! So I grabbed a couple of meters from Global Fabrics during their last sale. I should be able to get a long sleeved version out of about $15 worth of high quality NZ merino. It’ll be a quick project, slotted in between my own sewing, and then I can consider how to tackle a “rugby jersey”

See what I did there? ;)

Did you like this post? You may enjoy one of these:

I’ve been bad…

Wonderfully Creative Wellington ♥

Craving Coffee & Fabric

Stashaholics need not apply…

If you are in Wellington, this is for you…unless you made a New Years Resolution this year to reduce your stash and not buy any more fabrics…then I suggest you look away now.

I warned you OK?

I had to get down there for a lookie first before I posted this…but I don’t want you guys to accuse me of not loving you enough to share so I promise that I did leave some fabric behind.

Only one of these items was $5m (pure silk), the rest were just $3m!


Now: Go, buy, stash & sew!

Somewhere in the Tasman Sea…

It’s been a chaotic and busy week but for those of you following along we made it safely to New Zealand last Tuesday, I can hardly believe we’ve been home a week already. My internet opportunities at the moment are few and limited so please excuse the absence of posts, but here’s a quick update:

We spent the last weekend in our rental property in Perth surrounded by boxes with nothing more than our 2 suitcases, bed, single couch, the tv and fridge. I managed to fish out of one box a pot to boil water for tea/coffee, my “keep cup” and the top off the thermos flask to drink from. It was kind of like camping indoors, they really did pack EVERYTHING for us.

Boxed in!

On Monday they bravely backed a 20ft shipping container right down our driveway. It was going to be tight, they told us, and we selected a few items the night before that would be left behind if it all went pear shaped. I’m not sure who had it worse: Me, sitting at work chewing my nails and wondering how it was all going or Husband, watching the men playing Container Tetris with our every belongings. It was close, Husband says there was just 1cm left in front of the doors when they closed it up…with everything inside and suddenly a big weight lifted off of us. We moved into a hotel that night for our final week in Perth, leaving the same way we arrived: with a lot of tears from sad goodbyes, 2 suitcases and a bunch of nerves.

Biggest sewing machine carry case ever ;)

We had an amazing flight. I’ve flown into Wellington a few times from various locations but I’ve never arrived in the direction we did last week. We flew low right over my home suburb (I would have waved to my Mum’s house if I’d been fast enough to get my orientation) then I spotted the local shopping centre and we zipped past that and over the motorway, right past the rugby stadium (affectionately called the “Cake Tin” because that’s exactly what it looks like) then a lazy right hand turn over Oriental Parade lined us up for the smoothest ever recorded, and likely never to be repeated, landing at Wellington airport.

We are staying with family at the moment and I’ve been busy organising all the necessaries – bank accounts, driver’s licences, that sort of thing. I also found time to spot a Burda magazine at my local newsagent ;)

It’s been pretty emotional so far, a lot of good emotions, but a few unexpected ones as well. It’s quite disarming, feeling like you have nothing, starting again, back to living out of a suitcase in someone else’s house. I’ve gotten used to being independent and I have to constantly remind myself that it’s only temporary. Then I think of all the people who really have lost their entire lives to earthquakes and floods and I chastise myself for being so selfish.

If the Australians were confused at why were we’re returning to NZ then the Kiwis are absolutely perplexed. Apparently “because we wanted to” is not a sufficient enough reason. I’ve given up trying to explain and instead I am concentrating on settling us in.

Right, enough moping, did you ever play the unfortunately/fortunately game in school? You take turns making up a story where the beginning of each line alternates between “unfortunately” and “fortunately”, it goes something like this:

Unfortunately Mel had to pack up her sewing machines and she had no idea how long they’d be apart…

Fortunately the shipping company takes a quick route and told her it would only be 2 weeks shipping time, yay…

Unfortunately the ship they were supposed to be on was running 5 days late due to bad weather so it booted the only Wellington-bound container off the manifest so it could skip Wellington to make up time…

Fortunately there was another ship after it…

Unfortunately it wasn’t scheduled to depart until the end of May…

Fortunately the Fremantle “warfies” decided to strike…

Unfortunately the strike meant yet another ship was 2 days late…

Fortunately it meant the sewing machines could get on that ship and leave even earlier than expected.

So our luck has been good and floating somewhere in theTasman Sea is (I hope) the 20ft sea container containing pretty much our entire lives…oh and my sewing machines :) I’m only guessing where it actually is but I do know it’ll be popping into Lyttleton and Port Chalmers before wallowing (if the current weather system heading our way is anything to go by) it’s way up to us here in Wellington around the 25th of May. Fingers are crossed that customs gives the immediate tick and now the hunt is on for a new home and rediscovered independence…

So I’ll leave you with a few pics from my walk yesterday xx