Dressed in Leather

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I got given this dress a while ago. It’s a beautiful leather dress with tassels and a sort of scaly luminescent leather insert. I absolutely love it, however it didn’t quite fit right. A little too short for my liking, the straps needed to be altered and the lining was puckering funny at the back where it connected to the leather. Nothing  major, but just enough that it stopped me from wearing it. I think I put off fixing it for so long because I was a bit scared of sewing leather.

I have a wedding to go to so I have finally motivated myself to ‘make it work’. I got a leather needle for my sewing machine and put my head down.


Its a bit of a mashed job. The lining doesn’t quite make it. But the skirt is now a tad longer.


The finished product… A dress for the wedding.

Who else has that perfect garment in their wardrobe they just haven’t renovated yet?

Fashion at the Museum

I went to  ‘Selling Dreams – 100 Years of Fashion Photography’ at the Auckland Museum yesterday. A very good exhibition. Most of the images I had never seen before so it was great to be exposed to something new. I don’t usually read the blurbs next to the art when I am wondering through, I prefer just to take in the image. But the written information in this exhibition was historical, succinct and interesting – I read every word! Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.


I couldn’t take any photos in the exhibition but this quote appeared at the very end… I couldn’t agree more Vidal. Well said! These words completely sum up for me why I continue to make my own clothes and get so much joy and satisfaction out of it!


Why do you sew and make your own clothes?

2nd Secret Santa – Squared

I decided it was easiest to give my Secret Santa recipients  a slip dress each. That way I could tailor it to their tastes so that hopefully they were really unique gifts. This is my second dress – made for my brother’s girlfriend, Steph.

My Mum showed me this top, basically a square with some arm holes and a neck hole. Simplest style I have ever seen! I traced a quick pattern, with a few alterations and cut the fabric out, a lovely light fabric with mini hearts all over it which I got from Centrepoint Fabrics in Auckland.

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Again I didn’t know what size my SS recipient was so I made the pattern quite big and added ties at the back so it could be worn tight around the waist, for a more fitted look. Or alternatively loose and draping.

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This was honestly the quickest and easiest pattern I have ever sewn. The hardest part was sewing the facing around the collar. And the best part, it doesn’t actually look like a square sack once it’s on the figure.








Has anyone else sewn one of these square dresses or tops before? Or a pattern of equal simplicity?

I am very keen to keep making this pattern. I can churn new outfits out in 2 hours tops (including the trip to the fabric store)!!




Secret Santa

I made this pattern for a simple shift dress for secret santa at my work. IMG_2672








Does anyone else make their own patterns?

I had to guess what size my boss was. It would have been pretty obvious if I started measuring her up during morning tea! She tried it on straight away and it fit! Phew. Here is the outcome.

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The fabric was what really made this dress. A cotton/silk blend from The Fabric Shop. I think the most important thing to consider when making something is what fabric to use. As my pattern making skills are not amazing, the beautiful fabric covered up all the indiscrepancies. I have definitely chosen the wrong fabric for a garment many times before. Luckily this time it worked out.

Cake for all New Zealanders!

Thinking about sewing the Hummingbird from Cake Patterns? Dresses & Me are now the exclusive supplier of Cake in New Zealand!

I personally love the Hummingbird after just having finished my own skirt from that pattern set. Our other favorite pattern at the moment is the Tiramisu knit dress. This easy-to-wear dress would make for a perfect summer sewing project. If you have never sewn knit fabric before, give it a go!

Tiramisu in Red Stripes
Tiramisu Dress

Don’t forget – buy 2 or more patterns, from any of our brands and your shipping is free!

Finished the Hummingbird!


I have finished the Hummingbird skirt. Very pleased with the outcome. I got a little confused with the pockets at the start. But only as I had never come across them being done that way before. They are actually quite cleaver once I figured them out. They are constructed in a way that minimises that potential threat of VPL (in this instance – visible pocket line)

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A great thing about the instructions that go along with this Cake pattern is that there is a link to a video on how the sew an invisible zip in. sewingcake.com/invisiblezipperinsertion Admittedly I have always been scared of invisible zips. The rule in theatre is to never use them in costumes incase they get stuck backstage in the panic of getting ready to go on. But now I am going to bring this video up every time I pop a zip into one of my garments.


Cleanest zip insertion I have ever done!


Changed the pattern a bit. I lengthened the skirt and changed the pleat at the back.

What do you guys think? Anyone else scared of invisible zips?


Darting Around

I am at dart sewing time. I learnt a really awesome trick not so long ago that helps finish darts off really nicely. I used to just sew back and forth to finish them off like a normal seam. Not a great outcome.

Here’s how to get a good clean finish.

Sew dart normally, once your stitching gets close to the tip of the dart stop using the foot pedal and start doing slow stitches, cranking the wheel by hand. Let the needle finish right on the last fibre of fabric before raising the foot and pulling the garment out.










Leave the lengths of thread long enough to tie into a knot. You can even attempt a reef knot if you are feeling fancy. Snip the ends and you’re ready to iron that sucker into shape!

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The result: a beautiful dart with no lumps and bumps.

How does everyone else do their darts? It’s always good to learn these little tricks. It definitely makes the overall finish of the garment so much cleaner!

New kid on the block

While Penny is away gallivanting the world I’m taking over people! Some of you may have seen a cute little photo of Penny and I on the Dresses & Me Facebook page. We have known each other for over 20 years and I have been sewing for pretty much just as long. I did sewing at high school where I got a Certificate in pattern making and went on to study costume and set design for theatre and film at University. It has been great to see Penny teach herself from scratch how to sew and share her experiences with us all. I am super excited about doing the same!

Penny and Alice - in art history class -  few years ago now
Penny and Alice – in art history class – few years ago now

One of my current goals… attend to my mega pile of mending! Who has a pile like this one at home?