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 #2: Show Me the Moneta’s!

This is my second 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 

Welcome to my second post for the Curvy Colette blog tour. This time, I’m here with their new dress pattern, the Moneta. This is a simple, but cleverly designed knit dress but 5 extra collar options. Readers, this dress is rad.

When I got the Tiramisu dress by Cake Patterns, I thought “this is it! Comfortable dress that looks good” and planned to make a heap. After making it twice (the first had poor fabric choice, the second got stained somehow on the first day I wore it) I realised that the shape/design didn’t really suit me – the bias skirt made my hips cu-razy (especially with the pockets) and for the seams to sit in the right place the mid panel would have to be 15cm long, which looks odd. So without a pattern, I’ve been sewing purely woven dresses. Until the Moneta.
The pattern has a fitted bodice, shaped quite differently from other knit bodices I’ve seen, short- or long- sleeves, and a gathered skirt with in-seam pockets, which because of the fuller skirt are hidden well.
This version is made from a knit I bought at last years Fabric-a-Brac, I’m not sure of the content but it feels like a viscose, heavy but quite thin. I had just enough of the fabric and couldn’t fit on sleeves, and thought a collar would be too busy so I went with the plain sleeveless version. It’s lined with leftover “ponti” from my Mabel skirt (which is, in fact, the perfect weight for a bodice lining, go figure).
Size cut: I cut the size L in the bust and waist and an XL in the hips.
Changes made: Thinking this might be a bit short on me, I added 10cm to the length. This was TOO much length to add, when I tried it on before hemming it looked… weird. I did a 3cm hem (just zig-a-zag ahh’d) but it could be a couple of cm shorter.
Things to change next time: Because the bodice is drafted for sleeves, when I made it sleeveless the shoulder seams are a bit too far over – which I think is the reason why I have some gape at the front. Next time I make it sleeveless I’ll narrow the shoulder a bit and see if that helps. I also felt that the waist seam was a touch too high so I lengthened the bodice 1.5cm.
Now because I had so much success with this first one, and only kind of because The Monthly Stitch’s April challenge is “Sew Double”, I quickly made up another version, this time with my favourite collar:
This version is made from a merino-viscose blend from The Fabric Store. I had initially bought it to make another Sew Over It Wrap Dress, but I hadn’t got around to it yet, and my stash knows that my plans are only solid until another plan comes to mind. Annoyingly, the stripes are completely off-grain (by about 20-30 degrees) – when cutting the skirts I had thought I made them straight, but they shifted (silly for cutting on the fold). Luckily it’s not very obvious (small stripes and gathered skirt) but I had to be a lot more careful when cutting the bodice/sleeves/collar.
This version has the added 1.5cm length to the bodice, so I don’t know if that was too much fabric (amazing how 8mm will make such a difference with comfort) or if it’s because the fabric seems to have stretched vertically a bit – the hem feels a bit longer than it did when I first made it.
Other than that, this dress is so good. The collar is cute as, even if Jessie-Dog got excited when we were playing and somehow bit a hole in it, meaning I have to tie it weirdly. It’s a thin merino wool which means it’s appropriate for all seasons. Because it’s thin and extra stretchy it does show bra straps etc which is annoying but I can live with that.
What else to say? These photos were taken on our anniversary weekend again (this time with crappy weather) – the first is in the harbour of Okiato, a tiny town that was New Zealand’s first ever capital before it was shifted to Auckland in 1841 (later moved to our current capital, Wellington, for political reasons). There was also some FLASH houses there. The second dress was photographed at Flagstaff, where the British flag was cut down 4 times in protest against colonisation. We also got to see where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, which was cool.
Fabric: Houndstooth knit from Fabric-a-brac, $5, leftover knit for lining. Merino-viscose knit from The Fabric Store, $45
Notions: Thread, interfacing and elastic from stash (I used picot elastic because it’s all I had but I don’t think it’s quite strong enough)
Total: $5 and $45

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!


Birds of a feather: the Ultimate Wrap Dress by Sew Over It

This is me, SO not over the ‘Sew Over It’ patterns.

ImageDuring an unprecedentedly spectacular week of sewing (not sure if that is a word, but I finished four dresses!), I made the “Ultimate Wrap Dress” from the UK company, in a cotton-viscose knit from Girl Charlee, a really lovely feeling fabric.

To be honest this is a rather “rough” version and a bit unfinished – I squeezed the whole thing out of 2 yards of fabric (not even metres) and had to choose between the sleeves and the neck facing; I chose sleeves.

ImageYou can see I JUST fit it on after shortening the sleeves (the last bit at the end is for the second tie), and you can see the facing piece on there competing with the sleeve piece. I’d also like to point out that my fabric almost completely matches the fabric drawn in the instructions! Woot.

I did have just enough fabric to make some binding for the neckline, which saved my bacon. Because the pattern was designed for a facing, the ties aren’t all neatly tucked away and are just sewn on. This is partly the reason why the whole thing has been left unhemmed – as well as laziness, and because I was nervous to try a knit hem on the curved hemline. Because it’s a knit I can get away with not hemming it, and I may just be trying to convince myself here but I think I like it better without the bulk of a hem.

Also, because when I tried the dress on for fit, I didn’t want to take it off again! Srsly, for four nights last week as soon as I got home I took off my work clothes to put this on. I know a lot of people say this, but knit dresses really are like wearing pyjamas, that you can wear outside.


This was an extremely quick make – it took me about 2.5 hours all up from laying out the fabric (and, obviously, excluding hemming), and next time I imagine it’ll be even quicker It fits remarkably well – I merely did my usual trick of grading out at the hips, and the only changes I’ll make next time is to take a tuck out of the front neckline, shortening the wrap bit as it’s a touch gapey, and I’ll  try to adjust the lower back a bit for my “sway-back” (I do have a true sway back but it’s accentuated on my clothing by my large bottom) using this excellent tutorial.

ImageThe lower back pooling isn’t too obvious, particularly with the tie wrapping around the waist.

Speaking of the tie – be warned that there is a mistake in the pattern: the grainline on the waist-tie piece (which runs along its length) is perpendicular to what’s shown on the cutting layout (across the grain). I cut it out across the grain (as in the photo above) so that it would have the stretch but THIS WAS WRONG – the waist ties have now stretched out so they can lay on the ground if I undo them!! It also means I occasionally need to tighten them during the day – I think this would be avoided if the tie was turned the other way (grainline running the length of it), although this may use more fabric. I’ve emailed Kate about this and she was very gracious.ImageIn terms of a review:

  • Design: like the 1940s Tea Dress, the packaging is cute. The tissue paper is the thin stuff that the Big 4 companies use. The instructions are clear and nicely illustrated.
  • Sizing: good for me. I found it a bit odd that there was a few inches of positive ease in the waist and negative ease in the hips (based on the finish garment measurements) but decided to go with it (after giving myself more room in the hips, something I do every time) and it worked well.
  • Instructions: clean and good for beginners. They are written for use with a regular sewing machine so those without an overlocker don’t have to worry – however they don’t include instructions for sewing it with an overlocker – on one side of the dress, you leave a hole for the tie to pass through, and I had to fudge that a bit as I used my overlocker to do the whole thing. I’m somewhat nervous to do a facing on a knit garment but next time I’ll try it out, as it’ll at least give me a clean finish at the waist.
  • She suggests gathering the sleeve heads in order to ease them into the armholes, but when using knits I just stretch the armhole to fit. There is also no mention of stabilising the shoulder seams which is a good idea in knit garments: I used a piece of leftover gingham fabric, sewn into the seam.
  • I also lengthened the skirt by 10cm (again, I lengthen every new pattern I use as I’m tall (178cm) and like at- or below-the-knee)

Overall, I highly recommend this pattern, including for beginners. It was quick, it’s comfortable and it looks great (I think, anyway).


Pattern: Ultimate Wrap Dress by Sew Over It (sizes 8-20)

Fabric: 2 yards of cotton-rayon, about $30 after all shipping costs

Notions: Thread, stash

Total: $30 as is, $55 with pattern.

ImageThis is me, showing off my unhemmed skirt. And is also just after I realised I haven’t hemmed the sleeves, either.

So, have any of you sewn with these patterns, or are you tempted to? I’m still trying to decide about the shift dress – after using these two patterns I’m tempted to try it, but just don’t think the shape would work very easily on me.

ImageBonus puppy photo, because Mr. Guy took way more photos of her than of my dress.