Will This Work?


hi everyone! How’s your week going? Well I hope! Well in my corner of the world I’m sewing a Georgia Dress for the Monthly Stitch’s March theme – Miss Bossy Pants. And you may have noticed that I posted the photo above on my Instagram earlier this week. I had a lot of compliments on my fabric choice and a lot of people who couldn’t believe I’d make a muslin out of such great fabric. The truth is that I bought it for $1.50 at The Vintage Store in Papatoetoe. So this was my practice and if you look closely you can see its not quite right. The cups finish a bit too high (see the arrows?) I need them to sit about 3cm lower but I don’t want to go up a size as I like the way the rest of the dress looks as well as the fit.

Solution? Some pattern editing. By Hand London HQ has some great posts on how to adjust the Georgia Dress for a full bust adjustment and a small bust adjustment. Because there are several pieces in the bodice of this dress the adjustments are a bit different to your normal FBA/ SBA. But I just want to add 3cm to the middle of my pattern pieces and move the whole thing down.


So how do I adjust my patterns? I go straight to the kitchen … For some lunch paper. I traced the three main bodice pieces, drew a line 1.5cm from the bottom (this is the seam allowance) and cut. I then taped the top half of the pattern to more lunch paper, measured a 3cm gap and taped the bottom section to the lunch paper. Et voila! New bodice pieces. But now this is the real question – Will this even work? This is not the suggested way to adjust the bodice. So tell me – is this a good strategy for making a bodice that will fit?


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?

Pantone Colour of the Year

pantone colour 2014

It is 2014 and Pantone has declared, as it does every year, the Colour of the Year. This year’s it is Radiant Orchid. If I’m quite honest I’ve got to say this colour doesn’t do much for me – either when I think about clothes on me or for home interiors. I think I’m much more attracted to ‘strong’ colours, if I could call them that. I mean jewel tones and dramatic bold colours. Just me…?

What do you think?

Radiant Orchid Examples

Images courtesy of Pantone: http://www.pantone.com/

In 2014 I Will

I once went to a course on goal setting. The speaker told us that in order to achieve our goals we must start the sentence by saying “I will”. Apparently by stating that something is going to happen it is more likely to happen. So, what would I like to do this year?


Build a wardrobe – I flit and float between different garments without really working on building a wardrobe which means I end up buying clothes to fill the gaps and buying fabric anyway. I will find the gaps in my wardrobe and fill them with my own sewed clothes.

Blog more, blog smarter – I really enjoy blogging and being part of a community of likeminded people. In 2014 I will blog more.

Work with difficult fabrics – this will mean I’ll have to get to grips with working with difficult fabrics. Kristiann had some great tips which I will have another look at before beginning. I will be brave and work with light floaty fabrics.

Expand the pattern shop – I’ve really enjoyed running dresses & me and this year I’d love to see it grow. This year I will bring in three *big* indie companies.

Knit something interesting – I know I said this last year but I’d love to knit. In 2013 learnt to knit four purl four but to be honest I found this too super boring to make a whole scarf! In 2014 I will make a jumper.

Increase my lung capacity – I know this sounds a bit bizarre but I have asthma and end up in A&E almost every winter with horrendous asthma. It’s disempowering and expensive. I will to increase my lung capacity by swimming twice a week.

Learn to tailor trousers – I almost learnt to do this last year. I made a great pair of pleated shorts but the fit isn’t quite 100% right. In 2014 I will make this pattern again as tailored trousers.

Design a sewing pattern – no spoilers here but I have some ideas of patterns I’d like to release. I will design and release a pattern in 2014.

What are your re-sew-lutions?

Favourite Moments of 2013

S0 I showed you my favourite garments for 2013 and now here are my favourite moments, more generally speaking …

1. Alice Joining Me

Having Alice join me at Dresses & Me has been great! It’s a bit strange working by yourself so it has been lovely having Alice helping both on the blog and with the running of the pattern store. Alice and I have known each other since kindy!

alice and penny kindy

2. Launching dressesandme.com 

Launching my own online business has been quite an adventure. I have, for the most part, really enjoyed running my own online indie pattern store. We continue to be New Zealand’s only supplier of By Hand London, Cake and Victory Patterns! Yay for us! It has been amazing to have so much support from the New Zealand sewing blogging community so I really want to thank you for everything!

photo 1

3. Doing my OE

I quite spontaneously decided to do my OE this year, quite soon after also deciding to open the dresses & me pattern store. I have to say that the timing did make it a bit difficult to keep the store up and running however I had lots of support from my family, the bf and of course Alice. I have had a whirlwind adventure trekking from Edinburgh to Marrakech and the Greek Islands. But don’t worry guys – I’ll be back in February! Also – you can follow my adventure on Instagram @dressesandme


4. Hosting the Auckland Sewing Bloggers Meet Up

Starting up and hosting the Auckland Sewing Bloggers’ meet up was pretty daunting – Would anyone show up? Would it be weird? Would we have anything in common? But you know what? I was great! We had a great chat – mostly about sewing obviously! I can’t wait to have the next one! One day we’ll even rival the mighty-ness of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers’ Network!


5. Getting Engaged

This has nothing to do with sewing! Getting engaged was pretty spesh. Shayne proposed in Florence. It was lovely. Need I say more?


What were your Top 5 Moments this year?

Best of Makes of 2013


2013 has been a great year for me. Full of unexpected adventures and lots of sewing! So without further ado here are my top 5 garments for this year:

5. My Little Black Dress


This is one of my top picks for the year for several reasons. Because I think the shape works well with my figure. Because I was working with a knit fabric for one of the first times and it wasn’t a disaster. And because I can wear it casual or formal. Perfect for me!

4. My Papercut Patterns’ Pleated Pants


I love these shorts! They were a particularly big triumph for me because I inserted my first fly zipper with no drama. I was, and still am tbh, super proud of myself! These shorts are one of my favourite things I’ve sewn this year partly because I think the pleats make them super cute and partly because they are so wearable! What’s not to love?!

3. My Demin Ginger Skirt


This skirt was a dream to make. It was super easy to put together and required no alternations (except the hem, obv). Great for work and the weekend. Summer or winter. Done.

2. Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men Dress Challenge


Ok this dress was not the most fun to make but I am pretty pleased with the results. This was the first sew along that took part in. Although it was a bit of a drama *having* to work to a time schedule. However I am pleased this the result. The brocade is kinda my favourite part of it!

1. My Very Yellow Minoru


My absolute favourite thing I made this year has got to me by bright yellow Minoru jacket. I am so proud of myself for making this! Sewing with this heavy, stretchy material was difficult but I am so proud of the results. I adore this coat and wear it tonnes. It’s particularly great in spring and autumn. Delightful.

What are your greatest sewing achievements from 2013?

Plough On or Give Up?

In my last post I showed you my Vogue 8776 cape – an item that I started nearly two years ago, and only finished in August.


The truth is that I hit a road block when I was sewing it. I felt it was far too big in the neck and shoulders. So I took it in along the should seams and shortened the collar accordingly. It was only when I tried it on again that I realised that I could no longer fasten it all the way up – it was too short to reach. Imagine a REALLY BIG Nehru collar. Facepalm.

So my question to you is – when you make massive mistakes do you plough on? Or throw in the towel?

Sewing on the Move

As everyone who reads this blog surely knows by now – I’m not actually sewing anything at the moment. Well not in an intentional pattern + fabric + time + inspiration kind of way. But I have been sewing – on the move. Specifically on the train from Edinburgh back to London. I sewed a button back onto my cost whilst wearing it. It was very cold. No judgement please. It was quite a feat.


Do you sew on the move?

Nothing to do with Sewing

I’m ashamed to be writing one of those blog posts. You know the ones. “I’m the worst blogger ever lol!” … Not having written a post in SO LONG.

Just me at the winery in Santorini

Well we’re all friends here right?! So I’m sure you can forgive me and we can move on without too much self-flagellation. So what have I been up to? WELL! I’ve been having the time of my life (mostly). Gallivanting across Europe without too much in the way of responsibilities which has been pretty SWEET. Where have I been? Greece mostly. I’m quite the Classical Studies nerd so I spent three weeks absorbing the (party) culture and seeing the occasional historical site. Just kidding. Or am I?!

Just me riding a donkey up to the Acropolis at Lindos

I’ve just come back from week in Ireland mostly spent getting saturated. I went to Dublin, Galway and Cork and had a great time learning about the history. I even tried some Guinness. And before that I was having a ball in Edinburgh. I loved seeing the ruins of Holyrood Abbey – they were just stunning.

Just me at the Cliffs of Moher getting saturated

My sister and I visited a wee place called Hankelow in Cheshire where?? I hear you ask I know I’m thinking – but as my dad was born there it was nice to see some family history. [Side Note: my dad’s sister’s friend’s childhood penpal showed us around Hankelow and Chester – the kindness of strangers is truly heartwarming!]

Just my sister at my grandfather, Donald Arrowsmith’s farm “The Wems”

So what’s new with Dresses & Me? LOTS! All will be revealed soon but for now I’ll just say THANK YOU to all the people who have supported my new business. Thank you to all my great customers and all those who email me with suggestions and enquiries for how to expand. Its so great getting your feedback and I hope that I’m approachable enough that you could flick me an email if you have any enquiries!

Did you do an OE? Was it awesome fun?