Georgia Comes Out On Top!

The results are in and after a late *serge* you guys have voted for me to make the Georgia dress by British designers By Hand London! So watch this space! A bombshell Georgia dress is on its way …. We hope … This is a somewhat daunting dress due I all the pieces that it includes and the fitted nature of the bodice – and whole dress come to that! Wish me luck mes amies!


Are YOU sewing in the monthly stitch? What are you making?

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 

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?

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?

Better Late Than Never?! Right?!

A long, long time ago Melissa, Kat and Juliet – the lovely women who coordinate The Monthly Stitch announced their first theme – Capes. This was perfect for me – I had a cape crying out to be finished. I began sewing it way back when Adam ways in shorts … At least 18 months ago. I finished it in the nick of time – the night before I hopped on the plane to the UK. It’s taken me an embarrassingly long amount of time to get round to post this! Here we are:


From the top picture you can see me demonstrating, in a 1970s catalogue sort of way, the armholes and the pockets. These were by far the hardest parts for me to sew. I began sewing these when I was still using my grandmothers WWII-esque Elna Grasshopper. Whilst this machine looks like a tank it struggled to get through the four layers of felted wool required to make those seams lay flat. Many needles were broken. Much colourful language was used.


This pattern is a nice combination of fitted and loose. The front is fitted in the bust when the dome is fastened whilst the rest if the cape has plenty of easy to move about in. I didn’t get around to sewing all the domes on, just the one at the bust so I could demonstrate the shape.


This is Vogue 8776, surely out of print by now. I’ve probably said it before but I was inspired by Erica Bunker’s camel cape from a few years ago – so sassy and classy – typically Erica. I’m a pretty big fan girl! The fabric is (looks down in shame) from the (coughs) remnants basket at The Fabric Store, Newton. I was super lucky and found two bundles of this off white felted wool. Enough to make this cape and some left over.


I’ll be the first I admit that I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually wear this garment. Capes can certainly seem costume-y. It I’ve seen tonnes in the shops here in London (like this one and this one) so I reckon they’re gonna be a big thing in the next New Zealand winter.


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!!)

Winter Meet Up – This Sunday!

Just a quick note to say that we are having our winter meet up this Sunday 9 June at 10.30am. Frances, of Frankly Sew, suggested we meet at a cafe called Circus Circus on Mt Eden Road and I think that’s a great idea. Caroline and Michelle will also be there as well as all the non-bloggy sewing lovers.

Winter Meet Up

Keen to come but you’re a bit shy? Never fear! We are super friendly! Send me an email penny[at]dressesandme[dot]com and find out more.