Pattern Hack | Sewaholic’s Renfrew top as a dress

The great thing about sewing with knit fabrics is that you can be a little loose on the specifics. Recently I made this Renfrew Top hack and ended up doing a lot of running up the sides with the serger to ‘adjust’ or, more accurately, hack away at the side seams. You have probably figured out by now that I don’t like to get too worried about the specifics with loose fitting garments.

I realise this hack is probably not the most exciting piece of sewing you’ve ever seen, far from it in fact. However it’s taken me an awfully long time to get back into sewing so I’m taking it easy, and taking on board your advice from this blog. I’m choosing to sew some things that come together quickly and are therefore immensely satisfying. I’ve seen many, many Renfrew hacks over the years – Amanda from Sewaholic and Jo from Make it Well have compiled extensive lists of their favourites. I was delighted to see the number of ways that the Renfrew has been interpreted, and in some cases, almost redesigned.

I’ll keep this post short and sweet and I won’t bore you with my construction details – essentially all I did was lengthen the pattern from the hips, create a waist and tapper at the knees. And yes this is merino from The Fabric Store. Have you made a Renfrew hack? Link it to me in the comments!

And that’s the shortest blog post I’ve ever written!

Brand Spanking New


I’m super excited to announce that Dresses & Me Shop has a brand spanking new site AND we have some lovely new patterns in store! The store is still at the same address – – but I’ve changed hosts so that the site looks more slick and professional – would you agree? In case you were wondering, I was with BigCartel before and now I’m with Weebly.


These new patterns are by British Designer Simple Sews, and Claire is her real name if you were curious! Dresses & Me has all four of her printed patterns – The Peter Pan Collar Blouse (check out A Stitching Odysseys’ version), the Classic Trouser, the Pleated Back Pencil Skirt and – MY FAVOURITE – the Batwing Dress. The rest of her designs are in PDF download format, and will be in printed format in a few months. Go to her site and check them out 🙂


On the new site you can view patterns by type, such as dresses and tops, as well as by their designers, such as Sewaholic and Victory Patterns.


But perhaps the best new feature of the site is the free patterns page! Everybody loves freebies and my number one goal is to get people excited about sewing – so let’s make it easy for new people to get into sewing and get excited about it! Do you know of any more free patterns out there that I should add to this page?


So…. What do you think of the new site? Would you like any additions? Modifications? Just let me know…

Winter Swap – Partners Announced!

Winter Swap Button

Alrighty let’s get the inaugural Winter Swap 2013 underway!! So without further ado here are your partners:

Modern Vintage Cupcakes – with – Every Stitch
Sew Love Tea Do – with – Zoe
Juanita Tortilla – with – Jellyfish Crafts
Sewing for Me – with – Curls n Skirls
Beth Butcher Designs – with – Thimble & Threads
Disaster in a Dress – with – My Craft House
Tropical Threads – with – My Hand-Made Home Life
Marguerite Designs – with – Mrs Hughes
Sewist Stitch – with – Adventures of a Girl from the Naki
Dresses & Me – with – Crazy Gypsy Chronicals – with – Flossie FT 

(Sorry team – I really wanted to join in but we had an uneven number of swappers so I had to put myself in a group of three – we’re all intellegent ladies so I’m sure we can work it out between us!)

So what now? Get your stalk on! Find out what your partner is into and start thinking about what you might like to send them. Are they into vintage patterns or do they prefer modern indie designs? Do they like to wear brightly coloured fabrics or are they more of a ‘black wardrobe’ sort of gal? What have they sewn previously and what great treasures does your stash have to offer for new garments?

This is the perfect opportunity to pass on those great notions, fabrics, patterns, fasteners, trims and embellishments that you LOVED at the time of purchase and have been sitting their waiting to be used. So go on – pass them on and give them a nice, warm home where they’ll be loved!

Reminder: Parcels must be sent by Sunday 4th August – that’s three weekends to get organised – heaps of time, right?! I’d love to see what you send so let me know when you post about your parcel!

So swappers – what are you sending? Any clues?

Super Sweet Blogger Award

Wow I’ve been nominated for the Super Sweet Blogger Award twice in the last two days! Firstly by Danielle from Enchanted by Books and then this morning again by Montana from Montana Designs – thanks ladies!


The Rules

  1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.
  2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions.
  3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post
  4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers.
  5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog.

The 5 Super Sweet Questions

  1. Cookies or Cake? Definitely cake!
  2. Chocolate or Vanilla?  Always chocolate
  3. Favorite Sweet Treat?  Probably the chocolate marble brownie sold at the cafe nextdoor to my workplace. The slices are massive and delicious. Yesterday I just had that for lunch and it was amazing.
  4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? Probably when I’m studying. I used to buy a packet of snakes and some energy drinks and write my essays. There was no other motivator quite like it.
  5. Sweet Nickname?  I don’t think I have one. My family and some friends call me Pen, short for Penelope, but that’s not really what this question is asking!

My nominees are….

The Emotional Bake DownSew Biased – Sew Love Tea Do
Adventures of a Girl from the NakiThe Curious KiwiCalico Stretch
Every Stitch I Make – Modern Vintage CupcakesSewing in AthensSewist Stitch
Crazy Gypsy Chronicles – Nikki StitchesA Charm of Magpies

So check out these lovely ladies’ blogs today!

Winter Meet Up

On Sunday we – the Auckland Sewing Bloggers – had our Winter Meet Up. It was super fun and had a great time talking about sewing, sewing and sewing oh and a bit of blogging. There is something pretty cool about meeting up with people who you know you’ll have heaps in common with, especially if, like me, you don’t know many people who sew. CarolineFrancesMichelle, Jason and Claire joined us (we are still convincing them to get blogs!)

Photo shamelessly stolen from Caroline. You may notice we are mostly looking to the right – When Caroline asked the people at the table next to us to take a photo they thought we wanted a photo with them. Apparently they were famous rugby players. Awkward and hilarious.

Want to join us next time? Email me at penny[at]dressesandme[dot]com!

Giveaway Time


I have these two lovely Vintage patterns up for grabs. All you have to do is “like” my Facebook page and comment with your blogger name and which patterns you’d like (otherwise I won’t know who’s who!) The patterns are Maudella 5397 (bust 46″) and McCalls 6944 (bust 36″).

I’ll draw two winners in a weeks time on Sunday 2 June.

Dont forget the Auckland Sewing Blggers Winter Meet Up is happening on Sunday 9 June. Comment with your email address if you’re keen!


What I Do: Metric v Imperial Measurements

I realised the other day that I do something very odd. I use both inches and centimeters when sewing. I don’t used them interchangeably, they are each used for measuring different things, and only those things. I’m quite clear in my mind about when to use metric measurements and when to use the imperial system.

Background of tangled and entwined tapemeasures


For example when I’m looking at the back of a pattern envelope for body or finished garment measurements I’ll only read the inches and I actually have no idea what my metric measurements are. However, if I’m adjusting a garment, mid- or post-construction I will always note this in centimeters. Also, I think of my height in feet and inches, but of the width of a bolt of fabric in meters and centimeters.

I’m not entirely sure why I do what I do. Perhaps, for me, it’s the most logical way. I guess it could have something to do with working with vintage patterns when I first started sewing, or perhaps because my mum talks in imperial measures so it’s easier to fall in line.

Do you work in metric, imperial measures or both?


After getting off to a flying start with Me Made May I have to admit that I’ve FAILED (it got a bit obvious when I didn’t post any photos to Instragram yesterday…) I know I shouldn’t feel too bad about it but I do feel a bit bummed. The truth is that I couldn’t bring myself to wear another work skirt. I really wanted to wear pants. Which is kinda strange because I’m quite a skirt and dresses kind of person. Solution: Papercut Patterns’ Pleated Pants that’s a whole lot of alliteration!


This will be my first pair of pants EVER.

I think there’s a second glaring whole in my wardrobe – casual-ish wear. Like dresses that I can wear to work and then out that night and not have to go home and change in between – know what I mean? So I immediately had a look at my patterns and found two that I thought fit the bill – Vogue 1338 and Very Easy Vogue 8742 (now out of print) and cut them both last night. I don’t know what came over me but it must have been desperate because I usually take forever to cut out a pattern!


I even started sewing one of them. Gathers look so pretty.


Next up – some delicious merino Renfrews and maybe even a Hollyburn. I never know where my mind will take me next!