A denim jacket and a shirt dress

After a long blog hiatus, I’m back!


My interest in making a denim jacket/dress started with wardrobe planning for an upcoming trip. I saw this Steven Alan dress/jacket (is it a dress? Is it a jacket?!) and was smitten.

I quickly set about making my own version. After scouring the internet for a shirt dress pattern with a two-piece sleeve I settled on the Mara pattern from Style Arc. As well as the ideal sleeve situation I really liked the relaxed lines of this pattern. For once – gasp – I made a toile! From there I made the following changes:

  • Straightened the side seams and CB seam (ultimately cutting the back on the fold)
  • Adjusted the CF to remove the hidden button placket
  • Replaced the pleated pockets with oversized patch pockets
  • Omitted the side seam pockets
  • Added a back yoke
  • Slashed and spread the front and back pieces for slightly more swing
  • Shortened and straightened the sleeve pieces
  • Made allowances for vents at the hem (side seams)
  • Added extra depth to the collar pieces and allowed for turn-of-the-cloth on the under collar (learned this the hard way)
  • Added a welt pocket on the back (used the Tamarack instructions).

Basically, I tried to copy the inspiration garment as faithfully as I could. Here are some pics of my sneaky back welt pocket in action:

I used some very yummy Cone Mills stretch denim that I received in a Ginger Jeans kit a couple of years ago. I have since learned that I have quite the aversion to making jeans, at least for now, so a jacket it has become! I am so grateful for the stretch in this denim. It makes what could otherwise be a somewhat restrictive garment very comfortable. I am a bit fussy when it comes to shoulder range of motion and I have no trouble here.


I used navy blue topstitching thread throughout and chose horn buttons. These are particularly good as they came in a small and a large size: large down the front and on the cuffs, with small ones at the CF neck and back collar. All of the seams are flat felled.


And now, a quick mention about the dress on underneath. I made this at the end of last summer. This time I was inspired by this dress from NZ designer Juliette Hogan:

For my version I started with the Grainline Archer pattern, cropping it somewhere around the waist and adding a gathered skirt with inseam pockets. I also cut the sleeves to elbow length and added a hidden button placket, which I think gives a really nice polished look.



All in all I’m really pleased with both of these items. I take extra pleasure in being able to make something just like a garment I covet in the shops. Sewing is so fun!


Are you excited to sew for the new season? Do you ever try to replicate something you’ve seen in the shops or online? I’d love to hear about it!

Three new things

I’ve been working on building up my wardrobe of winter clothes, as well as sewing some distraction projects – the ones that I feel like sewing as opposed to actually needing!


I’ll start with the things in the ‘need’ category. This Grainline Studio Driftless cardigan is so cozy!! I made it with the same merino blend fabric as this dress. It was heavily inspired by Lisa’s version, posted on the Tessuti blog, where she used the wrong side of a thickish knit. I wasn’t brave enough to go all-in with the wrong side so instead I just used it for the hem, cuff and front bands. It’s very warm and each time I wear it I feel like I’m wearing a big hug. What could be better?


The cowl is another essential item, but I knitted it way back in March. At the time I had a major obsession with this colour, rusty red, which admittedly I’m still in love with. I found my dream pattern/yarn combo with the Elena cowl and Quince and Co Chickadee. The cables look impressive but they were simple and fun to knit. The colour is bold but seems to go with everything in my wardrobe.

Now for the top that I probably didn’t need but that I really love!


This is a Rachel Comey for Vogue pattern. I’ve probably said this here before but I LOVE Rachel Comey. I want to own/wear pretty much everything she designs. This pattern (Vogue 1503) came out in the most recent release from Vogue, along with some other beauties, all of which I snapped up in a hurry. Recently I made my first version of this pattern out of some linen scraps (posted on Instagram) and pretty soon I decided to made a second one.


The coolest feature of this design is probably the shoulder, where the back overlaps to the front. It’s very simple to construct but is a really great detail. The sleeve cuffs and front ruffle are also bonuses in my book.

For this version I used some Marimekko linen that I had been coveting for some time. It was pricey so I only bought 0.8m! Pattern matching was out of the question, and I had to use the selvedge at the CB and the sides of the ruffle. One of the sleeves is cut on the cross grain, and due to fabric shortages I used a black linen from my stash for the lower back and the cuffs. The scraps from this top are non existent.


I kind of like how you can see the designer’s name on the CB join. The laundering instructions from the selvedge are visible on one of the side seams but I’m just rolling with it.


The only drawback to this pattern is that the armholes are cut quite low, so range of motion is slightly impaired, but only if you want to do some arm swings. I like the way that it fits with my arms down and it’s still very comfortable, so I didn’t make any adjustments. I’d guess that raising the armhole would not have helped my range of motion issues considering how loose this is under the arms anyway. This is a Vogue size 12 which is the size that corresponds to my measurements. I’m happy with the fit but some people might want to size down depending on ease preferences.

So there you have it! Two cozy things and one thing that I just felt like sewing. Now back to sewing the pile of merino tees that I actually need 🙂


A Penguin Sweater

My latest knitting project is the Humboldt Sweater from Anna Maltz’s incredible book of knitting patterns, Penguin. As soon as I first laid eyes on this book I was in love! Every project is unique and interesting. I immediately coveted a Humboldt of my own and got to work finding some local Kiwi wool.


NZ has a lot of sheep. I was on the plane recently and during an idle moment took part in the quiz that they play on the inflight TV screens. I learned that we have roughly six sheep per person (30 million sheep). I’ve been on a real NZ-made kick lately, seeking out shoes and knitwear that’s been made locally. It made sense that I should also find local knitting yarn given the high ruminant population around here! Pretty quickly I found Ashford Tekapo, a hardworking yarn that’s been around for ages and is named for the very beautiful Lake Tekapo. Colour choice was extremely tricky and a lot of dithering took place before I settled on the colours that Anna used in her sample, white and charcoal. Not very original! But why mess with perfection?!



Humboldt is named for a type of penguin, and given the fact that I saw a Little Blue Penguin while swimming at this beach last summer (smallest penguin in the world!) it was a good excuse to take photos here. Also, a nice day for a walk.


Humboldt features a technique called Marlisle. It’s a cross between marled and Fair Isle. Two yarn weights/colours are held together the majority of the time, and occasionally only the heavier yarn is used, in this case white, to create the pattern on the front and the decorative raglan sleeves. Anna puts it much better, and more eloquently, here. The whole garment is knit in garter stitch, resulting in a very cozy fabric with lots of body. I love the way that this sweater holds its shape. I think that this thick fabric works especially well in a cropped, boxy design like this.



For now I’m wearing it over jeans and a Marthe top, but am seeking ideas for an appropriate dress pattern to go under it. I like the idea of a gathered skirt coming out from underneath and I might do another Simplicity 1366 bodice with a gathered skirt in some sort of winter weight fabric. I am finding winter dress-wearing quite tricky as I refuse to wear a slip and skirts keep sticking to my tights! I should probably just get over my slip phobia and get on with it 🙂

Anybody else knitting at the moment? Any exciting projects on the go?


Pattern Fantastique Falda Jacket

Hi! I’m here to show you my Falda Jacket by Pattern Fantastique.


I was a tester for this pattern back in November/December and what a fun make this was! As other people have commented, the pattern pieces don’t look much like shapes you’d usually associate with a jacket, and putting this together was so much fun.

Being the end of the year I had a lot going on so went for the easier, unlined Style A. I used a mid-weight black denim which I chose for its rigidity – I really wanted a fabric that would hold the shape of those fantastic sleeves. Now that I’ve made this view up I am very keen to try this in a thick winter wool with welt pockets and a full lining. There’s plenty of room in those sleeves for a thick jersey, perfect for the coldest days!


Unfortunately due to my black fabric it’s quite hard to make out the details, but there’s a lot of fun topstitching on this jacket, including on the front patch pockets, the sleeve facings, and also on the back. Most of the seam allowances on this pattern are a hefty three cm which I think is a really nice detail.


I highly recommend this wonderful pattern if you’re looking for an interesting and original jacket design this winter!

Meanwhile I have plenty of un-blogged projects to share, including a Jac shirt and an Archer dress that I’m particularly partial to. Me-Made-May is here already so maybe that’ll be my push to get those photographed.

Have a good week 🙂

Tessuti Annie Dress

Summer is coming to a close here, with cooler temperatures creeping into the mornings and evenings. It’s such a lovely time of year, the humidity has mostly gone (fingers crossed!) but the days are still sunny and warm. Today we ventured out to the Domain to hear some music and stopped by the Wintergardens to check out the amazing plants.



I’ve been working on a Tessuti Annie Dress and finished it this morning, so wore it on our outing. I love this pattern!! This one is my second version, and is the product of a daydream where I imagined layering an Annie dress over a Lark tee for Autumn. I did actually make a Lark for this exact purpose but it didn’t sit quite right (I think I need to work more on the fit) so I ended up just wearing a tshirt I already had. I’m still happy with my layering hypothesis! Although this dress looks great on its own, it’s nice to have options.



My obsession with linen is still going strong. I recently replenished my supplies with this gorgeous check linen, which I love so much. The linen that I used for my first Annie was a bit scratchy and this is nice and soft. Not all linens are created equal, I guess.

This time around I made a couple of changes, based on my first version. I had a realisation recently, and that is that I’m just not a maxi dress person. I’m ok with a long dress for formal occasions but for everyday I’m more of a midi wearer. So before cutting my fabric I lopped several inches off the pattern and allowed for a big wide folded hem. The other change that I made was to overlock the pocket piece edges instead of stitching and turning, as I can feel the fabric fraying when I put my hands in the pockets of my other dress.



For the first time I made a wee label and sewed it into the back yoke facing, It’s just a square of ikat cotton cut on the bias and embroidered with a flower-like motif. I really like it in this dress and might put similar things in future makes if I feel like it. I used a black linen to face the bodice as I’m conserving every last scrap of the check linen, and I think I might have enough left over to make something else. Taking suggestions if anybody has any ideas?

Here’s a photo of a carnivorous plant. Have a lovely week 🙂






Billowy goodness

Ever since coming home from holiday, all I have wanted to wear is this billowy dress, posted a few weeks back. So I took my cue and made three more (more is more, right…?!), based on the same idea: take an existing bodice pattern, crop it, and attach a gathered skirt.


This version was made using the top from Simplicy 1366, a very popular pattern in blog land. I like it for the cool easy fit and fashionable dropped shoulder seams. I have already made another gathered dress from it, in my all time favourite Marimekko linen. I haven’t blogged about it but I did post it to Instagram. Back to this dress though: 


For this version I used a Nani Iro double gauze from my stash. I think this print is called Jewel Song. Double gauze is so soft and perfect for hot weather so I know I’ll get a ton of wear out of this one. The only modification I made was to scoop out the neckline a bit and finish it with a top-stitched facing. Facings seem to get a bad reputation but I really enjoy sewing them!

This type of dress gets to the core of what I enjoy about sewing: find a beautiful fabric and parade about in it! In fact, making this dress has cured me of the sewing doldrums so it must be good.  You’ll find me swishing around in these dresses until the weather cools down – my latest version is made from a large scale peach and white gingham linen. If you see someone looking like a giant picnic blanket, that’s me!  


Alice and Alexandria

Whoo it’s hot here!! We’ve just spent five weeks in the (non-humid) South Island and I got used to the drier heat. Now we are back in Auckland and it’s sweat central! Luckily I got some summer sewing under my belt before Christmas, the last-minute, pre-holiday kind that has totally paid off. 


Linen is my absolute favourite in the summer, and I made these Named Alexandria pants out of a cool double faced linen/cotton. It has the appearance of a loose weave linen but without the transparency, thanks to the bonded cotton under layer. (I got it at Drapers Fabrics on Teed St in Newmarket, for anyone interested in Akl fabric shops.) I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on the blog but I’ve made this pattern FIVE times! Talk about a TNT! Two pairs in black dress fabrics for work, and three in linen. This pair is my favourite though, and get the most wear. A few things that I love about this pattern:

  • Elastic waist
  • Useful pockets that are neatly integrated with the front pleats
  • Back patch pockets
  • Tapered leg
  • Comfy!

So much to love. Over my various pairs I have: raised the crotch, so that I can wear these low on my hips; lengthened the leg a little; put a smidge more width in the calf to account for non-stretch fabrics. Beware that if your calves are on the muscular side you might need to take this into consideration as they are quite pegged. 


Ok moving on to the more colourful part. This is of course the Tessuti Alice top, another winner of a pattern. This is my second go – the first time I made it in size XS, which came out too big for me. For this version I made an XXS and it’s a better fit. For reference, my bust measures 84cm/33″. I used the Liberty print Felix and Isabelle, and I chose to interface the arm wings as per the pattern.  


It’s lovely to have the use of my sewing machine after such a long time away, but unusually for me I’m feeling a bit low in the inspiration department. I have plenty of lovely fabrics but am feeling so indecisive! Let’s hope that a bolt of sewjo hits me soon.

Anyone else suffering from a sewing malaise? Got any tips to escape the sewing doldrums?

Summer Stripes

Despite my admittedly irregular blogging schedule, 2015 has been a bumper year for sewing. With the exception of one or two things, I think I’ve finally achieved a fully handmade wardrobe and I’m so happy about it! Nothing beats the satisfaction that comes from being able to execute ideas with a wearable and maybe even stylish result. Hooray sewing. 



I wanted to squeeze in one last post for 2015, and it seemed appropriate to share this striped number in my new favourite summer silhouette. This dress is an Inari hack using a linen/cotton blend that was all over the sewing blogs a little while back. I ordered it from fabric.com a few months ago and it marinated in my stash before I settled on this shape.  


The fabric is perfect for this breezy dress,  and the soft drape means that the very much undefined waist doesn’t get overly unflattering. I really love the way that it swishes around, and the low-cut armholes on the Inari pattern keep it breezy around the arms, too. 


In terms of pattern modifications, I simply cut the Inari tee off at about 35cm below the CB neck and attached a gathered skirt. Easy peasy! Because I only had two yards of this fabric there was some creative cutting involved, including placing a seam down the centre of the back bodice. I also originally wanted the stripes on the skirt to be horizontal like the bodice, but to get the gathering I wanted I had to place them vertically, which I actually really like now. In a perfect world where I had more fabric the skirt would be a bit longer, but that’s ok.

As always, the online sewing world has been incredibly inspirational and I’ve loved being a part of it. I’ve made some great new friends both online and off and I’m so grateful to this amazing community. Happy holidays to you all and see you in 2016!

Finished: Tamarack Jacket and Lark Tee

Hello readers!

Today I have a project that I’ve been obsessed with ever since Jen of Grainline started hinting at her new pattern on Instagram. I’ve always been a bit partial to a quilted jacket (not so much the puffer jacket variety although they have their place), but the perfect pattern had never presented itself. Until now, that is.

I finished my Tamarack a few days ago, and yesterday I convinced Ben to join me on a walk around our neighbourhood  to take some photos. Our blog photography is still firmly embedded in the experimental stage (i.e.  no idea what we are doing) but I think we got some cool shots.

Tamarack jacket

Tamarack jacket

Lately my sewing has been pretty frenetic, with a lot of quick projects being pushed through my machine. Which is great, lots of new clothes and all, but I really enjoyed slowing down and taking my time on this jacket. I’ve had a bit of spare time over the last week so I was able to take my time with the quilting and binding that this pattern requires.

For my fabric I looked to my stash, which I must admit has become a bit overwhelming. I’m making a concerted effort to sew from it instead of buying more fabric (not entirely successful) but I did find the fabric for this jacket in my existing collection (do I get a gold medal?). For the outer I used a really beautiful linen/silk blend. It has a subtle irregular woven stripe parallel to the selvedge, and going the other way are lovely silk slubs, raw silk style. I had been hoarding it for who-knows-what and I’m so happy I used it for this. For the inner I used a gorgeous silky Liberty lawn that I ordered from Shaukat a few months ago. I think that these photos show the colours the best:

Tamarack jacket

Tamarack jacket

I went to Spotlight to find batting, and ended up getting both wool and cotton batting because I couldn’t decide. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up making another of these jackets so I don’t mind having extra on hand. After quilting a couple of samples I chose the wool batting, as my outer fabric has some body and I felt like the wool batting had more drape and softness. I didn’t find it puffy to work with but it probably depends on what thickness you get, not sure if there are thickness options but mine was reasonably thin. Some of the loft flattened out with pressing, too. I quilted straight lines about  2″ apart, using my *new and amazing* walking foot. The guide that it came with meant that I didn’t need to chalk many lines on my fabric – I just set the guide to my quilting width and used that for each new line.

Tamarack jacket

In keeping with my relaxed sewing pace I chose to bind all of the inside seams using bias binding cut from my inner fabric, including the pockets. This pattern calls for lots of binding and I would recommend practicing on some quilted scraps, which I didn’t, because it tested my skills at times. The instructions are great but when binding two layers of quilted fabric, as I did on the inside, there are some serious turn-of-the-cloth issues to contend with. You’ve been warned! Here’s an inside shot, although the colours were hard to capture indoors:

Tamarack jacket

While I’m here I might as well show you another Grainline project I sewed up recently, which is the Lark tee. Now that I’m not buying any RTW clothing, making tshirts is a necessity even though knits aren’t my favourite thing to sew. This was relatively pain-free though, and as usual I am a mega fan of the fit of Jen’s patterns. I used a cotton knit for this tshirt and chose the boat neck + 3/4 sleeve combo. It’s super comfy! My overlocker and I are not best friends right now but once we’re back on good terms I’ll definitely be making more. My one comment would be that this pattern is longer in the body than I expected, which is great for tucking in, but next time I’ll shorten it a smidge. I am about 166cm/5ft 4″ for reference.

Grainline Lark Tee

Grainline Lark Tee

 So there you have it, two Grainline slam dunks that I am super pleased with!

Do you have any plans to make a Tamarack? And how many quilted jackets is too many? Because I know I’ll be making more….

Have a good week!

Alders for Spring

Hi everyone!

Lately I’ve been churning out Spring appropriate clothes in anticipation of warmer weather. Today was one of the first bare-legs days so far, so I twisted Ben’s elbow and we hit the streets to get pics of two of my newest Grainline Alder dresses.

Grainline Alder

This first one seemed quite popular when I posted an in-progress shot to Instagram and I think that’s all down to the amazing fabric, which is a gorgeous medium-weight cotton that I bought at Tessuti on a visit to Melbourne last month. It has a fantastic geometric pattern that I think looks quite cool broken up across the Alder style lines. With a full-on print like this I don’t think you can go past self covered buttons, so I had some made at Hawes and Freer. I like the way they blend in while still providing an opportunity for some extra print placement fun.

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

For this view B version I cut a size four and lengthened the hem by about an inch, as well as raising the bust darts a little as they sit a bit low on me. Originally I sewed the pockets on but removed them after determining that too much was going on. I’ve been wearing this with my favourite new cardi, which has proved to be super versatile and is featuring in most of my outfits at the moment!

Grainline alder

My view A denim Alder came about on a bit of a whim, as its my belief that since sewing is my favourite hobby I’ll sew what I want, when I want, otherwise the fun might diminish! Anyway it was very enjoyable to make and I am surprised by how much I love the finished dress – I thought that I preferred the view A gathered style but I’ve really fallen for this one.

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

The denim that I used for this is a lovely medium weight. I’m not sure if it’s technically denim or more of a thick chambray, but either way I’m into it. I used some nice black metal buttons that I got from a wholesaler, and I really like the way that they look with this fabric. Looking at the photo below I wonder if I should have played with the shoulder slope a bit, but I’m not too worried about it – I’ll definitely wear it even if it has some shoulder wrinkles.

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

I used a scrap of Japanese quilting cotton for the inner yoke and the armhole bias binding. I love the way it looks!

Grainline Alder

I’m so happy with how these two dresses are fitting into my wardrobe, they seem to go with everything. Right before I made these I sewed up another view B Alder in a gorgeous dark navy cotton with a textured stripe, and it’s been on high rotation. I would show it here on the blog but I’m not sure that photos would accurately depict the fabric, and at this point I don’t think I need to blog a fifth Alder! You can see my previous two versions from last year here and here.

How about you guys, are you sewing for the new season?