Sewaholic Hollyburn in Viscose Crepe

I’m not really the “plan ahead” type of sewer, nor am I particular meticulous. I’d describe myself as more “slap dash”, though with experience I’m really improving on this front and am making sure I pay more attention to detail. Occasionally, though, I still get the mad desire to make something NOW and grab out some fabric and a pattern and have at ‘er. Often this works well, but sometimes it ends badly, with me throwing the finished garment in a heap, burnt out from such a quick release of sewing energy. Luckily this is happening less and less often, as I learn to recognise the dangers. But the other night I found myself cutting out fabric (badly) at 10pm and starting sewing – always a bad idea. It’s like Gremlins – do not give fabric scissors to Sophie after bedtime.

Luckily, this time it worked out well and I ended up with a pattern/fabric combination I wouldn’t have otherwise gone for.

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Sewaholic Rae skirt

Disclaimer: this pattern was given to me to review. All opinions expressed are my own and I aim to be be unbiased. For a full review see my post up on the Curvy Sewing Collective in a few days.

Hot on the heels of the Yaletown dress (my version here), Sewaholic released the Rae skirt. The pattern was designed together with a beginners sewing teacher, to be “a skirt for true beginners, designed to meet the needs of a brand-new sewer making their first garment project”. I’m going to keep my thoughts on the pattern brief here, as I’ll be doing a full review over on the Curvy Sewing Collective this coming week. I’d also like to apologise for my photos: sunny day + occasional heavy cloud cover + 10 second delay on photos…. well, these is all I got before my camera ran out of battery.

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A do-er upper

In October last year I made this skirt, a houndstooth Hollyburn skirt. I wore it to take pictures, then never even pulled it out of the wardrobe – in fact, I think it went striaght into my sewing room cupboard which is not a good place for finished garments (or even half-made garments) to be. The nylon horsehair braid didn’t work at all and it just didn’t look good.

I’m happy to say that I actually re-did it, which is something I very rarely do. I hate alterations and would almost rather start a whole new project from scratch rather than unpick a waistband, for example.

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The Johanna Skirt

Hello friends! My goodness, I have been absent. What with the move from Northland to the Wairarapa, not having internet for 3+ weeks, and starting work back at the hospital, I haven’t been doing any blogging. In fact, when we (finally) got the internet hooked up yesterday I had 320 blog posts to read on feedly, so I’ve been down on all fronts. . Suffice to say despite trying, I couldn’t handle it so just emptied my feed and started fresh.

I also have to admit that I just stopped documenting Me Made May – having to leave for work before the sun rises and only getting home after it sets plus being too embarrassed to take selfies at work (particularly in the tiny bathrooms) meant the few photos we got were dark/grainy. So while I did wear almost completely me-made for all of May, I don’t have much to show for it – and I’m really sorry to those who were looking forward to seeing more. I feel like this: somewhat over committed.

But most sad of all, is how little sewing I’ve been doing – my sewjo has almost completely disappeared. I knew my Northland Bubble had to collapse at some point, but really – even though I’ve largely got my sewing room up and running (with a new toy – an Elna Press, which is amazing), all I do is walk in there and unpack some fabric, only to stare at it and put it away again, thinking “I’ll only ruin it”. I think it’s largely a dissatisfaction with my fitting rather than construction, and is probably largely to do with the lack of storage in the sewing room meaning everything is piled on top of itself. Plus, in my mind my fabric is separated into two catagories “I totally don’t want to sew with that maybe I should give it away” and “I don’t want to make a failed garment from that” (bonus third catagory: “I need to pre-wash that”).

In the last few weeks, I’ve made a total of four things. Which is still pretty good, except I don’t like two of them (the other two are worn constantly) and I had plans for so many more – especially considering it’s Indie Pattern Month!

But enough of all that – may I present my Johanna Skirt.

I call it my Johanna Skirt because the fabric was bought on my behalf from Jo from Making It Well, and because I chose this pattern after admiring her version for months. In case you didn’t recognise it, it’s the La Sylphide Skirt from Papercut Patterns, making it the fourth item I’ve made from the pattern (dress, top and top).

And yes, this is one of the garments I dislike. The fact that I don’t want to keep it has NOTHING to do with Jo, and in fact I’m trying to channel her a bit more to improve my satisfaction with my sewing. The fabric (the same as my last pencil skirt) didn’t pose as much of a problem this time around (although there is some weird pulling on the waistband facing) and so it’s made relatively well – it just don’t look good on me! I guess I’ve discovered that circle skirts and almost-circle skirts don’t look good on me, even though I always thought they would – they just widen me out everywhere. It’s also a bit shorter than I would like, which doesn’t help. YAY FOR LEARNING, RIGHT?

My body confidence has actually been a bit low recently, and this kind of skirt (and choice of cardi, I guess) just widens me out everywhere. I need to show off my WAIST, and can’t walk around like this all day:

The skirt itself is a ~3/4 circle skirt with button up front and fold-over button placket, and an awesome shaped waistband – I stitched up the waistband as is and it fits me perfectly (high on my waist compared to Jo’s version which sat low), and is cleverly designed to be longer at the back than the front, so your skirt hem is more likely to be even all around, even after covering your behind. I finished the skirt with a narrow hem and some sweet golden anchor buttons (no close-up, sorry) that I bought for 10c each at my First Ever Visit To An Emporium (in Whangarei, if anyone’s wondering).

I actually love the skirt and so wish it looked good, but it doesn’t. And that’s a Mum-Confirmed fact rather than me just being hard on myself. The skirt is currently hanging in my wardrobe feeling sad, until I can give her a new home (friend or op shop) – it feels hard giving away something that cost so much to make but hey, at least it’ll make someone else happy.


Pattern: La Sylphide from Papercut Patterns

Fabric: Wool/Lycra from The Fabric Store, ~$50 and waistband facing from stash

Notions: Thread and interfacing, stash; buttons 10c each = 80c

Total: $50.80

In other news, in case you didn’t know, Craftsy is having a sale until 9th June with “up to 50% off all classes”. If you click on the following link then buy a class, I get a small commission (it doesn’t cost you anything extra).

Craftsy Gallery

Also, do you follow The Monthly Stitch? It’s the annual Indie Pattern Month and Mel, Kat and Juliet have organised a crazy month with competitions and heaps of prizes – this weeks competition is “Dresses” so nice and easy to start off with! Next week is “New To Me” – sewing a pattern from an Indie company you’ve never used before – I’m thinking of making the new skirt from Blue Ginger Doll. Week 3 is “Frankenindie” (considering my options) and Week 4 is “Indie Fan Girl” for which I have an outfit planned. So hopefully all goes to plan and I have some successful garments to show for the month!



7th Heaven Straight Skirt

Olll’ plain and boring straight skirt again!

This is, what, the seventh time I’ve made this skirt? I have fabric for another, and no real plans to stop. It just suits me, okay?

This time I tried it with a facing rather than a waist band – I wondered if it would be more comfortable than the waist band which tends to fold in half when sitting for any length of time. I drafted my own by pinning shut the darts on my pattern and tracing it off, then I made the facing from interfaced self-fabric. I also understitched it (erm, very messily – I unfairly blame the fabric/feed dog relationship) but it still wants to stick straight up when I’m not wearing it (explained below).

I think it probably is as comfortable as my other versions, but because it doesn’t have the waistband at my natural waist I probably need to be careful what I wear it with – my other versions look great with a blousy top, but this one probably needs more definition at the waistband:

It’s made from a wool-lycra blend from The Fabric Store. I fell in love with the colour and, being so far away from an actual fabric shop, asked Johanna to pick some up for me. I love sewing with wool and usually lycra is a good thing but my goodness, this fabric was hard to work with!

Although it feels lovely and spongey, almost like a wool crepe, it was a difficult sew. The fabric WILL not press cleanly (I got only a hint of a crease on the hem by applying steam ++ and pressure). So the hem looks a bit fluffy, and the side seams/facing won’t lay flat. I didn’t have a red zip so I used this light pink one, which looks stupid. Grumble. Looking forward to being near a place to buy notions again! I might even unpick a whole heap and replace the zip.

Because it’s a scratchy wool, I knew it would have to be lined. And because I still don’t want to have to deal with lining a vent, I decided to underline it – according to Susan Khalje, for some reason “couture dress are underlined, not lined”. I had just enough polyester “silky faille” from Spotlight leftover from what is halfway to becoming another Watson coat.

I really like the underlining! It’s silky smooth but doesn’t ride up like linings sometimes do. Also, it was all way quicker to make. I cut out the pieces in both shell fabric and lining, then overlocked the edges together. This means I could just sew it up and (try to) press the seams open. The hem is (not) pressed up and sewn with a machine blind hem.

You can see we caught the last sliver of light at the house – this was at about 3.30-4pm!


Pattern: Straight skirt, originally from Gertie’s Pencil Skirt

Fabric: Wool-lycra blend from The Fabric Store, $38 and Polyester Silky Faille from Spoonflower, $20

Notions: Interfacing, thread and zip, stash

Total: $58

I’m in a so-so mood about my sewing again – I think it’s the upcoming move that’s unsettling me. I do like this skirt but it’s not sewn as well as I could do. Partly that’s the fabric not behaving, but it’s also me letting my frustration with that get on top of me. And just wanting to FINISH something rather than wait for the zip to arrive (I have three WIP’s waiting for various notions/tools). I’m going to try and set up my Featherston Sewing Room really well so I can get in the zone and do GOOD SEWING.

You may also notice that I got rid of the Disqus comment system – I had installed it because I liked you all knowing that I reply to every comment, but it ended up just being annoying – I was limited in what I could do with it, it’s slow to load, and it seems like a reasonable amount of people don’t like it. I’m trying a new plugin that will email you if I (or someone else) responds, please let me know if it’s annoying too!


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!


The “One Day” outfit featuring The Afternoon Blouse

For a while now I’ve been complaining (in my head) about two things: I’m desparately lacking in nice blouses to wear, and I need some more plain skirts. I’m attracted to bright colours and patterns which sometimes mean that my wardrobe looks like a higgeldy mess of colours and I have to pick through everything to find things that match. I am quite happy mixing patterns but sometimes it just gets a bit much, you know?


So we’ve established that I can’t say no to brights. I’m also not to good at buying blouse fabrics – no idea why, but I think part of it is that lots of patterns call for almost 2m, and I figure if I’m going to buy 2m (and the fabric is usually in some way expensive), I might as well get a WHOLE outfit out of it. I can get a bit stingy with fabric, so I’ve been trying to get hold of cute patterns that use not-so-much fabric and don’t have lots of details that I’m not ready to tackly in delicate blouse fabric.

The Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren Vintage (from Dunedin, NZ, where I went to university) kind of meets both of those criteria.

ImageAlthough the “required yardage” is about 1.5m, I used vastly less than that – I had a 140x60cm piece and a much smaller piece that I was able to just fit the facing onto, so you should easily be able to get it out of ~90cm. The fabric itself is a rayon from one of the members of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (erm, I can’t quite remember who it was, sorry and thanks!). I’m not sure if it’s vintage or not, but it has a few small stains on it that look like the ones you get on vintage tablecloths. All I know is I snapped it up as soon as my beady eyes caught sight of it, and didn’t ask any questions.ImageThe fabric is looovely and drapey and feels really nice to wear, and I love how it blouses over the skirt. I feel like I’m wearing a vintage grandma blouse and I love it.


This photo is for Mary – this was the first photo we took! It’s damn windy here…

The blouse was SO quick to make. I even timed myself, and it took 90 minutes all up. In terms of construction, I basically followed the instructions (mainly I just glanced at the diagrams). The inside seams are finished with the overlocker and the hem and sleeves are all finished with a narrow hem. For the facing, instead of fusing the interfacing on and then finishing the edges, I sewed right sides together (using the glue side as the wrong side), trimmed the seam with pinking shears, then turned and pressed the interfacing down. This gives the facing a really nice finish without any extra stitching.

ImageFor some reason the only good photos from today were crazy photos.

In case you’re wondering about the skirt; yep, I made that as well. In the same evening as the top. Hence the “one day outfit”.

It’s from the Gertie’s high waisted skirt (previously made here, here, here and here). When I tried it on halfway through I decided I wanted it to be a bit more pegged than my other versions, so I took it in at the bottom of the side seams, and the bottom center back seam. BIG MISTAKE. I think that really needs to be a flat-pattern adjustment, because I can feel some weird pulling around the bottom. I was also left with a much shorter vent, which combined with the peggings makes it VERY difficult to get on (getting dressed may remind my husband of my pantihose dance). I also got some excess pooling at the bum:

ImageThis photo makes me wonder if there’s a fitting issue that needs fixing at the hips on my sloper, or if it’s just because I changed the bottom of the skirt. It’s not tooo bad but I do end up tugging it a bit during the day (and apologies about the wrinkles, I can only take photos after work and I do a lot of sitting-to-standing and back).

ImageI decided to straighten out the waistband, rather than using the curved one that I’ve done with all my other versions.

ImageI did an invisible hem and decided that it’s not the best idea on a vented skirt – at least, if you’re going to do it, do it before you sew up the center back seam! So it’s not the greatest black skirt, but it’ll do and I always have to remind myself that it still fits better than ready-to-wear.

ImageWhat am I doing here?

I actually really like the blouse – the funny fold-over front is cute although I will need to sort out some way to make it stay in place (it’ll help when I have hand-needles…I had to sew the waistband button with a sewing machine needle). It uses very little fabric and is quick, and the kimono sleeves give it a classy/casual look. I may use this pattern to make a plain v-neck kimono blouse for even more versions.

The black skirt I’m 50% happy about – I will wear it a lot because it’s so plain it will go with anything else in my wardrobe (and is one of only 4 black items in my whole place), but the fit is a bit off.


Patterns: The Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren Vint
age, $14 NZD, and Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Black stretch cotton twill, $8,60 and rayon, free

Notions: Pale blue button and white and gold button (skirt), zip, thread and interfacing all from stash. Thread, $4

Total: $26.60 all up


It’s a zoo out there!

Late last year Juliet had an idea for the January Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN) meet up: zoo at the zoo. The idea was to make clothes with animal fabric/animal themed, and visit the zoo to celebrate. Apparently it’s also Jungle January, although I’m not so sure what that even is.


January worked out well because there was two-for-one tickets at Wellington Zoo, and the day worked well because my sister-in-law was working and I was able to watch her try to excite kids in games about Australian animals (it was Australian day… Jo was not impressed with all the pro-Australian greetings from staff!)


My skirt is, of course, Gertie’s high-waisted skirt, made in a bottom-weight Zebra-printed cotton from The Fabric Store. I bought it on another WSBN outing (the Craft Crawl run by The Dreamstress) – Zara grabbed the bolt from a part of the store I rarely look at, and I immediately rushed over and nabbed some for myself. This type of fabric is one of my favourites – it’s not obviously crazy patterned from far away but when you get close you see how awesome it is.


(I hate this Glassons t-shirt; the seams twists like crazy which is uncomfortable and not nice aesthetically, but the slouchy yet fitted shape is exactly what I want to wear with skirts.)

Construction wise, the skirt has no surprises. I used my already-altered pattern (and have realised that I need to take about 2cm out of the front panel, as it’s a touch loose and the side seams sit a touch further back than they should). Everything is sewn then overlocked, with an enclosed waistband using my stich-in-the-ditch foot (I love this thing!). The zip is lapped and I used the last black button from my stash (my red Gertie skirt is still lacking a button and I have to safety pin it up).


I got clothing tags! The quality is so-so (they’re polyester and unravel so bad at the sides that I have to burn each edge) but it’s really cool having labels in my hand-made clothes – seems so much more professional. I’ve been adding them to newly made stuff but should go back and add them to clothes I made a while ago.


I only bought 0.8m of it (the PERFECT amount for the skirt – I usually end up rounding up how much I need but end up having annoying 20cm scraps left over, so luckily Leimomi convinced me I didn’t need more than 80cm). I therefore didn’t bother pattern matching (too busy to need it, I figure) but I did end up with a lovely two-headed zebra over the zip (the magic of fusible stay tape. I would also like to point out how nice my darts are sitting – a combination of using my tailors ham and starting the dark from the top and sewing off the edge (of the point) means they don’t bubble.


My husband tells me this is not what Zebra’s do.


Pattern: Gertie’s high-waisted skirt (from her book), used for the 6th time

Fabric: 0.8m or heavy cotton from The Fabric Store, I-don’t-remember-how-much, approx $16. Black fabric (for waistband) is leftover from another skirt.

Notions: zip, thread and button, stash

Total: about $16. Frick yes! This is why we sew, ladies and gents.


And, a WSBN group photo:

http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/e54c7-dsc05336.jpgClockwise from top-left: Jo, Juliet, Joy, Zara, Gemma, Sandra, Kat and Myself.