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!

Sydney Jacket | twice as nice

One of my greatest sources of sewing inspiration is undoubtedly Instagram. The power of the hashtag to collate thousands of photos of the same pattern made up a thousand different ways is an immense resource. It’s how I often come across new patterns and bloggers. And it’s where I first came across Tessuti’s Sydney Jacket. 
The thing that drew me in to making this pattern was the soft drape of the design, creating a sculptural shape without being boxy or bulky. The thing that sealed the deal was the the fact it had pockets. 


Not sure why I look so confused in this photo! Perhaps it was the construction. I found it quite confusing. For one thing most of the seams sit on top of one another rather than face-to-face inside the garment. This was strange but things were going ok until I got to attaching the collar. I made the fatal mistake of overthinking it – the collar folds outward so the inside will become the outside so it needs to be attached backwards. Rather than following the instructions and I ended up attaching it the wrong way around. However because of the overlapping seams it didn’t really matter, it’s just not as neat as I’d like. 


Surely the test of a pattern is whether you  want to make it again straight away? Well I did with this one. My second Sydney Jacket is made out of much nicer fabric than my first – coffee coloured cashmere – delish. Yes it is the $13/m on special from The Fabric Store, no it hasn’t pilled yet.  


I’m pretty in love with my new Tessuti jackets, they’ve already made their debuts at #NISM2015 and my work winter ball – casual and chic FTW. Have you made this jacket? I’d love to see yours!

A reminder to always mark the notches – my Davie dress

I made a Davie dress last week and I’ve already worn it three times… I think I might be in love.  


The dress is very easy to put together and would have been even quicker for me if I had just marked my notches. I was racing along very happily and my hems weren’t quite matching up. This isn’t too weird for me. I usually need to take a couple of centimetres off the bottom of my dresses so I can be a bit carefree when cutting the pattern pieces at the hem. So I sewed the next front and side front pieces together. Except this time they were even more off than the first side. Something was afoot. I unpicked the pieces and got my pattern out again. I had stitched my pieces in such a crazy way with my centre front backwards 😣. What a goose. I recovered quickly and raced to try it on. I liked it from the first glance… But lesson learnt. 


I made this dress in a pont knit from The Fabric Store. I love that indie designers are getting on board this knit fabric trend! This dress is super comfy and very easy to wear. I made the size suggested for my figures but ended up taking it in 1cm on each side. I wanted this to be a fairly fitted dress… I know this isn’t the correct way of doing things but I didn’t have the heart to undo all my careful top stitching. 

I made my Davie dress all in one size, not adjusting for pear-shaped-ness of Sewaholic patterns, despite being me more of an hourglass figure. I really like the shape of the skirt so I don’t think I’d grade it down for my next Davie. 

  Question: Bizarrely my thread kept snapping as I was sewing – sewists: what am I doing wrong?! It was like the fibres in the thread were twisting the wrong way, unravelling itself and becoming very thin. This was super annoying especially when I was top stitching (and there is a lot of top stitching in this dress) Muy extraño…

London-Auckland Charlotte Skirt Experience

Once I met the real Charlotte in person. It was great. I was staying in London with my sister, Kim, and thought I’d save on postage by ordering the patterns to her house. However Charlotte kindly offered to let me pick the patterns up from her appartment. I stayed for over an hour, we drank tea and chatted about indie patterns. It was a lovely afternoon. She really is a kind and generous person.


This is of course, the Charlotte Skirt by By Hand London. I’d be lying if I said that *just* made this. I actually began it when I was in London, not long after I picked up the patterns from Charlotte, but I did just finish hemming and fastening it this week. Even though I wasn’t going to sewing anything for ages I was still buying fabric… Once an addict, always an addict… I bought this fabric from a shop on the famous Goldhawk Road which is basically the sewing lover’s Mecca. It is a stretch with approx 500 fabric stores all side by side (only a small exaggeration). For an Aucklander like me this just about took my breath away. I mean a garment district in Auckland? Please, we can barely string together a few fabric shops in the same suburb!

I really like the fit of this skirt. It sits perfectly on my waist and hips but (because I’m only 5′ 2″) I did need to take 12cm of the hem. However, now that I look at it I think I would like it to hit *at* the knee. But that’s just being pedantic and I like to think I’m a bigger picture kinda person.


So will I make another Charlotte? I sure will! I’ve got it lined up in both a coffee-caramel wool and a black, red and yellow plaid wool. The only adjustment I’ll make for my next Charlotte is to add a vent in the back. This skirt is perfect for a night out but when I’m at uni or work I need to be able to hoof it up the stairs or run to something that I’m late to. Practicality prevails.


So if I was in London without my sewing machine, where did I make this skirt? At Sew Over It sewing cafe. It’s a sweet little store with sewing supplies, their own pattern range, sewing machines that you can hire and, of course, endless tea and coffee. I had my pattern all cut out and ready to go, with tailor’s tacks and everything, when I arrived so I go this skirt most done in two hours. This includes inserting the invisible zipper into the hem of this skirt, unpicking it and re-inserting it into the waistline … Sometimes I wonder how I exist.

So, my questions for the day:
1. Where are they best sewing cafes in the world?
2. Are there any sewing cafes in Auckland? Or even in New Zealand? I’m very interested to know.