Muse patterns: Jenna Cardi. I am in love!

Disclaimer: I was a tester for this pattern. The final pattern was provided to me free of charge and I also know the designer in real life. All opinions expressed are my own.

So, I’ve been wanting to learn how to knit for a while. I tried doing it last winter, kind of enjoyed it, then got side tracked. To be honest, I’m a really impatient person – I constantly have to remember to slow down, be patient etc. So with knitting, I wanted all these cute cropped cardigans sooo badly, but the thought of it taking 50 hours to make one, or even longer because I’m a beginner, was just really off-putting. I couldn’t find any good sewing patterns for what I wanted – I tried making my own but it didn’t work. So I resigned myself to actually learning to knit, or paying someone to knit for me.

And then… Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes designed this pattern. Probably because she was sick of all my whining on the WSBN facebook group, she asked me to test it out for her.

And this is it, guys: true love.

Oh, and I dyed my hair pink.

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Curvy Colette: My Mabel Skirts

This is my first post for the Curvy Colette Blog Tour. When you’ve finished reading, why not check out the rest of the posts:

Wednesday, April 16th: Jenny at Cashmerette
Thursday, April 17th: Mary at Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 19th & Sunday April 20th: Laurence at QuirkyPrettyCute
Monday, April 21st:  Tanya at Mrs Hughes
Tuesday, April 22nd and Wednesday, April 23rd: T at UandMii
Thursday, April 24th: Jenny at Cashmerette
Friday, April 25th: Mary and Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 26th and Sunday, April 27th: Sophie-Lee at Two Random Words (me!)
Monday, April 28th: Mary at Young, Broke and Fabulous 

There are some patterns that as soon as you make and try on, you laugh. Why on Earth haven’t I made one before??


Colette Mabel is one of those patterns. I used to have a black knit, princess seamed skirt that I loved, and wore all the time. At least once a week. One day a year or so ago it went missing and ever since I’ve thought “I should really make one of those”. I’ve half-heartedly tried a couple of times, using this pattern from Burdastyle, but they ended up going to my sister-in-law Tough Chick.

When Colette Patterns released their two new patterns, the Mabel skirt and Moneta dress, it took a bit of time to sink in. “Oh, some basic knit stuff, how nice” and on I continued with my day. Then I realised – this is EXACTLY the sort of stuff that’s missing in my hand-made wardrobe. With Me-Made-May coming up, I’ve really had to think about which garments I reach for more than others, and what kind of things I’m missing.


This pattern has definitely filled a gap in my wardrobe. It’s quick to make, quick to pull on and sooo comfortable. I would warn you though: be very careful what kind of fabric you use! Being so far away from any fabric stores, I bought this online and while it was described as a Ponti de Roma “knit wear, tops, skirts and pants”, it’s a bit thin for this kind of thing. I cut the XL size, grading to a size L at the hips, and it’s a bit clingier than I would like.

At first I thought I would have to give it away as it was showing all sorts of bumps and VPL’s, but I’ve found myself reaching for it quite a lot. Unfortunately the fabric has already started to pill, only a week after making it (and wearing it about 4 times since making it).


Thinking that the clinginess was a combination of the fabric choice and the pattern being slightly too small, I quickly made another one to test out the theory. Luckily I had just cut out a jumper for Mr. Guy and had easily enough of this wool blend leftover:


This second time I traced off the 2XL for the front side panels, giving me more room all around. I chose only that panel to trace bigger as I wanted the princess seams to sit further towards the middle, so they sit over the “fullest” part of my puku (stomach). You’ll also note this version is longer – while my black one has 2cm added to the length, when I walk it rides up to sit at mid-thigh. This version has a total or 12cm added to the length, and a 1.5cm seam allowance (for reference, I’m 178cm or 5’10”)


This is a much more “work appropriate” length, and is what I usually wear, although the shorter black version is nice to make me feel a bit like a babe (and it’s nice to finally have clothes that I can only wear out of work, rather than everything being work-appropriate – I don’t feel I can wear my ships or lobster dresses to work, for example).http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070615.jpg

You’ll see that this thicker fabric still shows a lot of lumps and bumps, so it’s nicest with a cardigan over it. It’s quite thick so I can’t really wear a top over it (plus I don’t have many tops that are for wearing untucked). This is the main thing to be aware of when choosing fabric for this skirt – the more stretch the fabric has, the more it’ll show what’s underneath (because the fabric will “stretch” over the lumps/seams rather than sitting flat over them). Thicker fabric will help alleviate that, as would a fabric with two “layers” such as a terry knit. http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070599.jpg

 I just love my facial expression in this photo.

What do you think of the new Colette patterns? I’m absolutely stoked that they’ve graded their patterns up – yes, I fit their standard block (although I would grade up in the hips) but so many women are stuck using Big 4 patterns because the indie patterns don’t go big enough. When looking at the patterns you can tell they actually did a fair amount of work getting a good “plus sized” sloper, as there’s some extra shaping in the 2 and 3XL sizes, to keep the proportions right. Well done Colette!http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1070576.jpg

This is how short it actually wears.


Pattern: Mabel by Colette Patterns

Fabric: Black ponti, $14 incl. postage. Grey and black wool, ~$15

Notions: Thread, stash

Total: $14 and $15

In case you were wondering, the photos were taken in Russel in the Bay of Islands, where Mr. Guy and I went for a few nights over this ANZAC weekend, for our first wedding anniversary. Damn but I love that man. You’ll see a couple more Bay of Islands photos in my next post for the Curvy Colette Blgo Tour – tomorrow!


Plantain t-shirt and cardigan

Sewing basics… So boring, amirite! But so useful, and really necessary when you’re trying to go RTW free (I’m about 11 months in. I would have broken it recently, had a certain shop sold jeans in my size). Contrary to what you’d think if you looked in my wardrobe, I do actually really like wearing casual outfits – tshirts and pants. Unfortunately I only have ONE pair of pants (it’s reeeaally hard to find pants that fit me) and they are polka dot. So they don’t go with many outfits. I am going to change the no-pants thing soon, just waiting for the pattern to arrive :)

In the meantime, I decided to make a super-boring-but-versatile black t-shirt. Yawn, I know – but I have ONE black t-shirt (one of the 3 black items I have) and I wear it quite a lot – it’s becoming grossly pilled. And I’m sure you all know how much one needs at least one black t-shirt.

ImageI used the Deer & Doe pattern, plantain. Dang, this is a good pattern for a pear – this is size 44 graded to a 46 in the hips, and it’s perfect: a slumpy/loose t-shirt that doesn’t cling (or wouldn’t if the fabric was less drapey) but is still shaped/flattering. I love the deep scoop neck and that it’s a free pattern.

ImageThe fabric is an absolute dream in viscose jersey. I spent about 20 minutes in the fabric store stroking two different bolts of black jersey, trying to decide which was more lush and which would be better in a t-shirt. It’s not uncommon to see me in the fabric store, stroking bolts of fabric.


The whole thing didn’t take very long either, only a couple of hours which includes taping and tracing the pattern. I overlocked all the seams and top-stitched with a twin needle. I had to loosen the bobbin tension because there was a wee mountain forming in the middle – something else happened to the bobbin thread though (maybe I loosened too much) so it doesn’t want to stretch quite as much as it should.

Just so it wasn’t 100% boring, I top-stitched with blue thread rather than invisible black. This caused Mr. Guy to ask if the t-shirt was “sportswear”, but I quite like it.

ImageYou all know by now that I like to give my clothes a bit o’ sparkle.


The top worked so well that I thought “hey, this pattern is PERFECT to make a cardigan”. I bought some navy merino a month or so ago with the thoughts of making a cardigan, but have been waiting until I had the motivation to alter an existing t-shirt pattern.

All I did was add 2cm to the CB to give it a bit more ease, and added 6cm to the centre front (which wasn’t cut on the fold), so when I folded it back it made a 3cm button placket, which I interfaced. I also lengthened the binding by a couple of cm, and was able to enclose it all nicely at the top of the button placket.

Construction wise it worked well, but it didn’t quite end up how I had envisioned. I asked Mum if she wanted it, and even though I now look at the photos and thing “it isn’t so bad”, I think it will be better on her, and no take backs, right?ImageI think it’s just something to do with the scoop neck. The look in the above photo is actually exactly what I wanted; a drapey cardigan that just fell from the shoulders, and that’s what I had in mine when I picked the fabric. Unfortunately I kind of forgot that when I was making it, and I was looking at four square wall’s ponte renfrew cardigan, and had it in my mind that the fabric would hold the shape I was sewing crisply. Had I remembered, I would have just altered the way I sewed the front (particularly the neck/placket corner).

Instead, this is what it would look like it was done up:


Odd. And don’t try and tell me otherwise! It’s much nicer undone.


And of course it’s not a total disaster – Mum loved this fabric when she was up, and was trying to think of something I could make her out of it. I just hope it suits her!


PatternDeer & Doe Plantain, free

Fabric – Black viscose knit, $24, and French navy merino knit, 1.5m at $34/m and 30% off = ~$36

Notions: Thread and interfacing from stash

Total: $24 and $36


Gertie’s pencil skirt #2

Aaand, I’ve made this skirt again.

ImageI’m even wearing the same top as last time.

This Gertie high waisted pencil skirt is made from a stretch denim with leopard print (obviously). To be honest the denim is not the best quality (although you wouldn’t guess that when the original price was $39.95/m!! What the hang, Arthur Toye), but I loved it at the AT 50% sale and wanted another skirt.


The details are all similar to last time; I used the same base size (12 waist to 14 hips, I think) that I traced last time. This time around I actually cut the excess fabric from the side seams from my pattern pieces. Interestingly, although I feel like it fits quite well and definitely isn’t too small, I can see some diagnonal pulling lines at the back. Maybe it’s something I’ll never get rid of while I have curves (mainly my pansita) and a bootay. Although it might partly be the fabric, as my sateen one didn’t do it so much.


It’s as if all the lines are pointing at my bum

I also took in the waistband a touch; last time I had to remove about an inch from the top of the waistband by angling the side seams. I wanted to keep the side seams at a 90 degree angle though, so snipped through the waistband piece from top to almost-bottom three times, and overlapped each piece by 5mm – so I ended up with 3cm less in total at the top of the waistband without removing any from the bottom. Perfect.

ImageWore it to work today and it’s comfortable for all the stand-sit-stand-walk-sit-standing I have to do.


ImageConstruction wise, it’s sewn with machine and finished with my overlocker. I did a lapped zipper using Scruffy Badger Time’s tutorial which I love, and it finishes with a button. Vent added like last time – see this post if you’re interested in how. This time I did no hand-stitching, instead using my MOST AMAZING NEW SEWING MACHINE FOOT, a stitch-in-the-ditch/edge stitching foot, which I picked up for $12 (I was expecting to pay $20-25) at fabric-a-brac. The stitching is perfectly invisible from the outside and just leaves a (very) straight stitchline on the bottom inside waistband.




Pattern: Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Leopard print denim from Arthur Toye’s sale, $20/m. 1.5m bought (1m used) = $30

Notions: Thread $2, button and zip, stash

Total: $32



First of many pencil skirts

I. Love. This. Skirt!

http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1040948.jpgI’d been meaning to make this skirt for a wee while now, and had the fabric in my stash to do so (a black twill/denim – more on that one to come). Then, when I had leftover fabric from this dress I decided to make a polka-dot pencil skirt (ohhhhh yes). The pattern is Gertie’s high waisted skirt from her book – so it meets my November challenge for The Monthly Stitch to “sew from a book” – which, if I’m honest, is the main reason why I actually got around to making the skirt.


I didn’t have to do very much fitting; I traced off the pattern, grading between size 12 in the waist and size 14 in the hips (I think. I’ve leant my book to Jo from Making It Well so can’t be sure which sizes I did). I had to take a touch more out of the waistband, and took off about 1.5cm off each side seam, all the way down – so maybe I could have done a size 12 for the whole thing and stuff the measurements.


The construction went well. The insides are all overlocked, the hem is done using my coverstitch machine, and I followed her instructions for the majority, including inserting a lapped zipper (using her tutorial). I understand now why so many people like these! It’s actually way easier to do than a standard centered zipper (no basting involved), is easier to keep tidy, and hides the zip better. I’m pretty sure this is how my mother first taught me to do zips but I obviously forgot. Now I have the choice of lapped or invisible zips which have been my favourite ever since I got the foot for my machine.


Speaking of things I’ve forgotten; how is it that I forget really crucial skills that I had once learned – and have to have an “ah ha” moment all over again. Take this example:


This tangle of threads happens when you don’t pull the loose threads taut before starting stitching; the bobbin thread gets all caught up with itself and gets stuck. I learned this about a year ago (after years of having unexplained messes) and yet I still occasionally get lazy.

This top is not one of my own; it’s a poly chiffon thing I bought on sale several years ago. Rather shapeless number with one dart and kimono sleeves but looks good tucked in and I wear it quite a lot.


Silly sausage

As mentioned above, I followed most of Gertie’s construction steps, but I sewed curved darts and added a vent – I’m not a fan of slits, I feel they’re more dangerous.. that is, more likely to rip up the back seam, and more likely to show too much leg. I didn’t have any black zips so it has a pink zip which occasionally peeks its head out from behind the lap.


All in all, this is one hellovah skirt. It’s very fitted in the waist (tick), fits nicely over the hips (tick) and is an excellent length for me (tick tick) – I’m reasonably tall and have problems with almost all RTW being too short. My preferred skirt length is right below my knees. The one (one!) problem I have is that it’s a bit baggy under the bum (probably partly due to the sateen, after sitting for a while) which can… accentuate my generous behind, but not enough to worry about.


Pattern: Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Polka-dot cotton sateen (3% lycra) from The Fabric Warehouse/leftover from other dress. Approx $10

Notions: Thread, button and zip, stash

Total: $10! Suck it!



Renfrew tie-neck top

ImageOur cat, Travis. Chickens in the background.

ImageHe’s a dumb little man who over grooms himself, resulting in hair loss and scabs. But he’s still pretty cute and knows a couple of tricks.

I’d had my eye on the Jalie Scarf Collar Top for a while (I’m a fan of collars of almost any kind), but held off spending $20 on what seemed like a rather simple pattern. One day I decided to just use my Renfrew pattern and make up the scarf tie.


I was originally just going to overlock the tie directly to the top, but worried about the overlocked edge rolling out and showing itself. Plus, Lladybird’s review on the top suggested that the seam was enclosed inside the scarf. I found this post by Sharon Sews that gave me the secret – you sew the shoulder seams (I reinforced with elastic), attach one edge of the “scarf” to the entire neckline, with the overhang  at the front. You roll the whole top up and wrap the scarf around it, so you end up with a long sausage. You sew from one end of the tie right to the end, making sure you don’t catch any top in the machine; then pull out the top through one end and wa-la! I didn’t take photos during construction, but her blog has great pictures if you’re confused.

After all that and feeling so clever about (sort-of) figuring it out, turns out you can just download the instructions from the Jalie website.

To make it work from my Renfrew pattern (or any t-shirt pattern you have), I cut the back piece on the fold, cut the front with a v-neck and put a seam in the center front (adding a seam allowance) and leaving 2 inches at the top edge unsewn, so that you can actually tie the bow at the end. I then turned the edges under and top stitched – not very prettily but noone can see it.


The whole thing is sewn with my overlocker, then the sleeves and hem is turned and stitched with a double needle. All in all I think it took maybe 2 hours, including cutting.


Unfortunately I didn’t think lining up the polka-dots would be important because they’re so small – but they’re mismatched horizontally by about 2mm, which is surprisingly obvious.

http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/p1040583.jpgThis fabric is really clingy, without the top being clingy. I’m conscious all day that it shows my belly rolls even standing up; and I didn’t think they were that prominent. It also sticks to my bra in an odd way. So I’m not sure how much I like this top – I do like it, I do wear it, but I don’t feel the absolute greatest in it.



Pattern: Renfrew + ?self-drafted tie – $0

Fabric – 1m polkadot fabric from The Fabric Warehouse, $16

Notions – thread and double needle, stash

Total – $16