Winter Swap

Changes are afoot. But before they happen I’d like to organise one last meet up, but as time is running short this will be an internet meet up. YES I’M TALKING ABOUT THE INAUGURAL WINTER SWAP 2013… unless someone has done this in winter previously… then disregard the “inaugural” part.

Winter Swap Button

So you’re wondering what a Sewing Swap is then? A great opportunity to swap sewing related items and get to know another sewing enthusiast.

But how does it work? I will match you with another sewing enthusiast and you will swap sewing patterns (printed and PDFs), fabric, notions, trims and other sewing paraphernalia! Sound great already, right? I’m putting a cap on spending so taking part doesn’t become a ‘mare at a maximum of NZ$30 (not including postage). Get creative and feel free to include all sorts of sewing items! Items don’t have to be new either – vintage and retro are awesome! Be generous – as a guideline, try to find 3ish items (or more) that you think your pair would like.

Can I take part? Yes! (but) it’s important that you have a blog so that your partner can see what you’re interested in and so you can post about the wonderful things she sent you. Just leave a comment on this post saying you’re interested and including your email address – VERY IMPORTANT. It’s also good if you say which country your living in so I can endeavor to match you with someone who lives close by. I can’t promise anything, but I can try. Everyone is welcome to get involved – you just need to be keen on sewing, have a blog and be willing to actually put your parcel in the post box.

So how much time do I have to get organised? Sign ups are now open! Just comment below. I will make matches next week and you will be expected to put your items in the post by the end of July.

PS. In case you were wondering what the changes were: I decided somewhat on a whim last week that I would be doing my OE (overseas experience, for those not familiar with NZ slang). So I am heading to London at the beginning of August and yes I have already bought my plane tickets. Also I’m doing a Contiki. I know – this is very unlike me. I like to think I’m quite a moderate sort of person who is pretty contented with how things are and will be. The truth is that I’m underemployed in a precarious job and need a change (never work for a charity!!)

Absolute Devastation

I AM NOT BEING DRAMATIC AM I? I got home from work last week to find that my favourite, first work shirt that I ever made was torn up the back.


Not only was this just a tad embarrassing (I didn’t hear any ripping so it’s likely that I’ve been worn this skirt more than once with it’s rip before realising!) but it’s doubly devastating because I made it. I’m pretty sure it’s non-repairable because the rip goes through the middle of the centre back piece. Unless you have any advice?

Have you ever ruined something that you made? Was it repairable?

Not Knitting ‘Nough

About a wee while ago I post this photo to my Instagram. I’m making a knit 4 purl 4 scarf that I’m embarrassed to say I’m using a Patons pattern for. It merely says cast on 72, k4, p4, continue for two metres, cast off. In truth I, somewhat ambitiously bought the pattern book in the hope of making a jumper. As with many things in life, as I have discovered, you need to start simple. So I’m making a scarf instead.


I was so proud of myself racing along with my new found interest. But the truth is that after we came back from holiday … well I haven’t made much progress at all.


It think in a lot of ways I see sewing and knitting quite differently. I set time aside for sewing, I sew in my sewing room and it’s almost entirely solitary. Knitting, on the other hand, I expect to be able to do whilst doing something else, chatting to my sister, watching TV, eating breakfast.

How do you knit? Are you a social or solitary knitter?

PS. Don’t forget to vote on my facebook poll – what colour do you think would make a good Minoru?

Mad Men Dress Challenge: Reflections

Last Friday I crawled across the finish line completing my Mad Men Dress on the day it was due in an episode that was quite reminiscent of my university days (I know Julia gave an extension but I was going on holiday on the same Friday – so no extension for Penny). I’ve posted a few photos of the finished product as well as some progress posts along the way.


In case you were wondering I made McCall’s 6454 circa 1964 in a navy, teal and gold brocade. I made a muslin in some shocking pink nylon-y material which I used as the lining.


This is the first sewalong that I’ve gone in on. I’ve really enjoyed being part of a community of people all working on their sewalong projects. However I found working under the time pressure of a deadline quite deflating. I really enjoy sewing. It’s something I do because simply because I like it. So the notion of having to time pressure was a bit unwelcome. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed the sewalong experience. It’s been great to see everyone’s dresses and how they interpreted the brief. Perhaps I was a bit literal with my dress – I don’t think 1960s when I first look at it. Instead it’s more of a copy of Betty’s dress – brocade and a high neckline.


The plunging back was really a guess. I partly chose this design because I thought the high neckline on Betty’s dress front would need the low back to balance it out if you know what I mean, and partly because I already had this pattern perhaps being a cheap….


Overall I enjoyed the sewalong experience but it might be a while before I enter another!



Let’s Have a Meet Up

I’ve been having a think – wouldn’t it be nice to have a meet up of all the Auckland sewing bloggers? I love blogging and blogging about sewing and sewing in general so wouldn’t it be great if we could talk about sewing but in person? We could even have a pattern and stash swap too if we wanted? I’ve been doing some Meet Up stalking and the lovely ladies of Wellington, New Zealand, had a great meet up the other day and I’m pretty jealous. The Curious Kiwi blogged about their amazingness.

So… If you live in Auckland or if you’re going to be in Auckland on the weekend of 27 -28 April the let me know and we can arrange something. I’m flexible about the actual meet up destination. It’ll be fun, I promise!

ALSO did you see that Colette has released a new pattern this morning??? It called Laurel and its a super versatile shift dress or top. This is my favourite version:

And of course you’ve probably already seen the new Sewaholic pattern the Robson Coat. Gorgeous, simple elegant.Love it.

So if you’re in Aucklad let’s have a meet up! Either comment on this post or email me dressesandme[at]

Pattern Pyramid Winner & MORE


Earlier this week I posted about the Pattern Pyramid I hosted. BUT THAT WAS ONLY HALF THE STORY – I received another, very thoughtful gift from Sew Biased, a copy of the original handbook that would have come with the Elna Grasshopper. Sew Biased noticed that I had previously blogged about My Grasshopper which was my grandmothers 1950s (or ’60s?) sewing machine. I used it for many years and even though I now have a computerised Janome my Grasshopper still keeps me company in my sewing room.

The manual has many pearls of wisdom…

Turns out there are 17(!!!!!) place that you’re meant to oil

And that I’ve been refilling the bobbin incorrectly all this time…awkward

There’s also five whole pages on what to do when things go wrong. Very handy indeed.

Now on to the thing you’re actually wanting from this post … The winner of the Pattern Pyramid … AND THE WINNER IS Country Girl Couture – WELL DONE! Send me an email and I’ll send this package your way!

New Picture (2)

For now I’ll leave you with this slightly weird video of someone demonstrating the Grasshopper’s functions…

Planning: Buttons

In line with my new commitment to planning before beginning making a garment (a new years aspiration) I have decided to put more thought into smaller decision making too.

When I was putting the buttons on the first button down blouse I made I realised I would have no idea what with go with the gingham fabric I chose. So I did this:


I lined them all up on the garment.

How do you make important decisions?



WordPress tells me that this week it was my one year anniversary with the blogging world – what an auspicious occasion! To mark this milestone I’m going to tell you one thing that I’m really proud of making and I want to hear from you too! What have you sewn that you’re just bursting with pride over?

Post a link too if you like! It can be anything, big or small! I’ll go first:

Im pleased as punch with my Lady In Red Dress


Affirmations are great, right?

Go on! Get your BRAG ON

What I Do: Patterns

It occured to me the other day as I was reading The Slapdash Sewist that perhaps I am not normal.

As the love of sewing skipped a generation in my family I spend a huge amount of my sewing time guessing, experimenting, making it up and when all else fails reading the instructions or googling. However there is at least one piece of information about sewing that I distinctly remember coming from my mum: Don’t cut through the pattern, fold the sides under at the correct size and cut around that.

Like so:


And when the pattern piece goes in, for example at the neckline, I cut through the pattern in wedges and fold them under:


By comparison, from what I can remember, The Slapdash Sewist seemed to cut her pattern pieces twice. Once around the largest size on the pattern piece, and then a second time, under the pattern piece. I guess she must have her pins lined up right next to the correct sizing and hold the paper pattern up with one hand and cut with the other.

The way I do it is almost definately the way that my grandmother, the original owner of the Grasshopper, would have cut her patterns. And whilst I realise that I nolonger need to ration my patterns in a WWII kind of way, I quite like doing it the way I do.

So, how do you do it? I am strange!?

Nostalgia: Plaid Apron

Often, in this blog, I talk about how I’m very new to sewing. I appologise, but that’s not strictly accurate. While it is true that I’ve only really taken sewing seriously for about a year I had actually been sewing for a long time before that. I sewed badges on my Girl Guide and Brownie sashes, did small cross-stitches and learned to knit very badly too. And before you think I’ve been leading you horribly astray I’d like to mention that before January 2012 I hadn’t used a sewing machine in at least 6-ish years.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to share with you one of the first things I ever sewed:


This blue plaid apron was probably made circa January 2004, when I was about 14 or 15. I’m guessing that it was made in January, because this is when we have the long school holidays in New Zealand.


I used newpaper to trace around an apron that we had in the cupboard at home and added an abritrary amount on the edges for a seam allowance. Unbeknowest to me, I made a pattern!

It looks to be made out of plain old quilting cotton. Check out that topstitching! There was definately something wrong with the tension here…


I even included a facing! Go 14 year old me!


I clearly wasn’t too hung up on things like accuracy and neatness…


In case you’re wondering why this looks so worn out, it’s because it is. To this day my dad still proudly wears this apron when cooking.

What was the first thing you ever sewed? How did it turn out?