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?

Ginger Lovin’


Woop I made the Colette Ginger skirt. I can’t remember who’s I saw first but I love both Lladybird and Stitch n Bitch’s versions of the Ginger. I think this pattern is made for denim. I made my version out of a really stiff denim that it holds the shape in a very assertive A-Line. I prewashed this fabric twice and it still looks like this. I’m not complaining. It’s awesome.


This skirt was ridiculously quick and easy to put together. Because the denim was so stiff it was super easy to cut out and sew together and required minimal pinning. There was no slip-age or fussing around with this fabric!


Oddly, or perhaps not, the skirt only flares outwards, not forward and back so it is still flattering despite the exaggerated shape.


I made this skirt in a straight six which to me sounds WAY too small to be a grown up size. I haven’t worn a six in years but I’m all for the affirmation of wearing a smaller size. The only changes I made to the pattern were minimal – I took 6cm off the bottom, decided against interfacing the waistband and inserted a normal metal zipper. I figured the heavier material would need a stronger zip.


I also decided to make the waistband facing in this cute polka dot. I LOVE this pattern. It’s great for the long humid summer were having here.


Have you made the Ginger before? Did you love it?

Colette Jasmine – LOVING IT



The Jasmine pattern is a loose fitting blouse-y top with a faux tie collar. I thought this top was a tad costume-y when I first saw it and wondered if it would be easy to wear on a day to day basis. FEARS AVERTED. What was I worrying about? Now that I’ve finished this top now I think it’s casual and feminine.


I found the sleeves on the on the Jasmine to be quite a lot of work. They’re made from three pieces (sleeve, cuff and the cuff facing) which all need to be trimmed and pressed after being sewn together. But the look created is highly satisfying so it was worth it!

Will not apologise for the crinkles on the back. Yes I have been wearing this top all day because I love it.

I made this top out of a silk cotton, which in case, like me, you hadn’t previously heard of this, it is a blend of silk and cotton. It is a very lightweight fabric that is actually see though when held up to the light. I was a tad worried that this top would be translucent but that fear appears to be unfounded.


Will I be making this pattern again? Hells yes! This version is a size 4 straight of the envelope. I think if when I do I’ll add about an inch or two to the length. I think it looks alright in these pictures but when I sit down it finishes just above my jean’s waistband. I may shorten the sleeves a touch and perhaps make the view A sleeves (gathered at the shoulder) instead but keep the view b collar.


This is the first Colette pattern that I’ve sewn. I’m looking forward to making the next one!


I have a thing about New Years Resolutions

First, whilst I think it is a good idea to set goals and work towards making dreams a reality etc etc I really hate the phrase new years resolutions. It’s just so negative. If you think about the most popular types of NYRs they are nearly always negatively framed. Eg to quit smoking. Why don’t people say I’d like to improve my health and prolong my life therefore I’ll refrain from smoking this year? Answer: probably because it’s a lot quicker to say it the first way! So I prefer to have aspirations rather than resolutions if you follow my train of thought here.

Second, in New Zealand a lot of people, including myself, are on summer holiday over the new year so I don’t personally start thinking about things I want to achieve until about halfway through January.

So forgive me for being late to the party on this one, but I’d like to put my oar in and tell you about My New Year’s Aspirations.


This year I’d love to learn how to make a pair of pants. I’ve really only been a committed sew-er for about a year and thus far I’ve stuck to making skirts and dresses as they require a great deal less fitting than pants. In fairness I’m far more of a skirt person, which may also be a reflection of how hard it is for me to find pants I like. But like with any clothing, if it fits properly, it’s a good place to start.  

I really like Colette’s Clover pants, and they look simple enough (to the untrained eye) but I have since been put off by reviewers saying they had a lot of trouble with fitting. I’ll need to keep looking for a simple beginner pattern.

Blouses and Tops

I started this year off with a bang, completing my first ever blouse! And whilst I was very pleased with myself this is just the beginning. I would like to get the fitting a bit more accurate and a bit more feminine. In order to accomplish this I will probably need to investigate how to do a full bust adjustment or FBA as I always seem to see it written. I’ll also need to conquer the softer, floaty shirt fabrics that I have been avoiding (ever since the horror that was Pattern Runway 1302)



I know were in the middle of summer here but I’m keen to learn how to knit this year. I’ve been practicing a bit with the encouragement of two friends and the use of Phoebe’s knitting needles. Apparently practice and getting the tension right is the key (I am clearly a novice). I think I need to do a lot of research on this topic. It’s a whole new area for me but I’ve already decided that I’ll be making a cardigan for myself this winter and unsurprisingly you can probably guess that it’ll be navy blue. More on this later…

I hope your aspirations/ resolutions are going well too!