It’s rhubarb, fool

I always forget both how busy Moore Wilson’s is on a Saturday morning; and also that they have tastings (yum)! Husband and I went down to get some things and headed into the Fresh department, without actually having anything in mind to buy (whoops – and ended up spending $20 on salami).

And, doing tastings was Totara Cottage – a complany who I haven’t come across before but whose Brownie Dessert Cups caught my eye… after tasting one (or two) mouthfulls of that and the rhubarb fool they served it with (she reassured me that the recipe would be going on her website that afternoon), I thought “hey, I could do that”! Spoiler alert: I can’t.

I used my trusty chocolate brownie recipe, scooped into pattie tins. Then I, Mrs 8 Wire, used my pattern weights (which are just heavy nuts from Bunnings) wrapped in baking paper, to create the hollow. Having only 6 weights and 12 spaces in the tin, we improvised and also used halved lemons, and just plain baking paper. Can you see where this is going?

Badness. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo, but they were damn ugly. The spilled over, the insides didn’t cook, etc. I would now wholeheartedly recommend just buying the damn things, especially if you’re wanting to impress. But the filling… oh lord. It was quite an effort to get the rhubarb (including a produce worker who didn’t know what rhubarb was, and who later chased me down triumphantly brandishing a stick), but the outcome was so worth it.

So good, in fact, that last night I made a whole batch of brownie (regular shaped this time!) and this evening made another batch of the fool, this time with berries from my freezer.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040569.jpgYou should make this.

Rhubarb Fool Recipe (adapted from Totara Cottage)

  • 300 – 400 gm rhubarb, or berries
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (less if using berries, trust me!)
  • 1/2 packet raspberry or strawberry jelly crystals
  • 150 ml cream, whipped
  1. Wash the rhubarb and cut into 2-3cm chunks, discarding the very tips.
  2. Put the rubarb in a pot, add ~1 tsp and stew over a low heat until mushy (just pop berries straight in without the water).
  3. While hot, add the sugar and jelly crystals and stir to dissolve.
  4. Cool till almost setting and stir in whipped cream.  Chill till set, or go for it like this if you can’t wait.



Asstronaut t-shirt

Back in 2005 (my 6th form) I was lucky enough to go on a school trip to Space Camp, in Alabama. It was, as you can imagine, pretty darned awesome – except that we had to wake up at 6am, eat sugar-laden breakfasts (the cereal with the least sugar was Lucky Charms, and I had to pick all the goddamn marshmellows out), and we didn’t go to bed until 11pm. This meant that I was too tired to listen to all the actually interesting lectures, and I fell asleep while we were listening to the sun.

Photo is mid-2012 at a friends Space themed party. I love any excuse to wear my NASA jumpsuit

We had a gang of us that roamed around the campus making trouble; Paris, Jamie, Will and I. We were Team Felch (please don’t look up what that means; it’s gross and we were teenagers who thought it was hilarious). We got velcro badges made up to stick on our space jumpsuits (pictured above); I can’t remember what the others were, but I was the Ass-tronaut.

Which takes us to this top – made from New Look 6808, a basic woven t-shirt with several variations.


I made a muslin of this top and only had to change a few things – and I still need to give myself a bit more room in the behind. I’m still not 100% sure how to do this without everything looking like a peplum, but hey, I’ll work it out.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040489.jpgMy bum isn’t that bumpy IRL; I have elastic and a double needle in my pocket.

Not much else to say about the pattern – it’s nice, easy, and will be my go-to woven shirt pattern. I have some red drapey polyester that I bought to make sleeves like variation D, before I even knew this pattern existed.


I’ll leave you with this wonderful picture, provoked by my husband telling me to stop having so much fun:



Papercut’s Watson Jacket; a difficult beginning, but a lasting friendship

I can’t remember when I first saw this pattern, but I do know I fell in love with it instantly. Papercut is designed in Richmond, only half an hours drive from my home town of Nelson. Most of her pattern’s are not quite my kind of thing (designed for waifs, or at least styled that way) and are a tad expensive for indie patterns (priced, I think, for the international market? Or because it’s expensive to create/live in NZ). It took me a while to get around to actually buying it and buying the fabric – and then tracing all 15 pieces – and then a bit longer to build the courage to start making it.


It’s classed as an “expert” level, which I’m not sure I agree with – I’m no expert, and I found it fine EXCEPT for two places. Firstly, there was an issue with the notches not being plentiful enough, and some in the wrong place (although this may partly be due to my tracing). Then, the instructions. I had a full blown tnatrum when making this jacket – I’m going to leave the bulk of explanations for another post where I explain what to do so you don’t spend an hour wailing to your husband and sister in law; but know that there was tears, and uncalled-for yelling at my husband. This post will just be about the jacket.


And, what a jacket.


It’s made from a 100% wool from The Fabric Store, which I bought under pressure (the last day I could go to their 50% off sale) and I hated as soon as I left the store. I think Mrs. C hears me complaining about stuff a lot more than I would like, and she heard me lamenting straight after. Woe is me. But once made up, it’s actually rather nice – think school blazer texture. And the colour is a lovely… raspberry red colour, maybe? Not BRIGHT bright red, but red.


It’s lined from 100% silk lining, also from The Fabric Store. It was weird, but good to work with – very stringy, and because I used my rotary cutter (for the first real time) the strings got stuck in my self-healing mat.


The only fitting I did was take some room out of each side seam – but I think I took out too much, forgetting that it was a coat and so shouldn’t be fitted. Next time I’ll put some of that back in and would probably have the buttons as decoration only – as you can see it pulls a bit over the bust even though there’s definitely enough room in there.


I’ve worn this twice in public (not counting walking to work) and got several comments on it each time, woot! It is rather stunning, and an awesome unusual design. The capelet is rad.


The design of the pattern is really good, and other than a couple of issues that I’ll detail in another post, well drafted. It has two collar pieces, one slightly smaller than the other so the undercollar rolls under; the back lining has pleats instead of darts so it has more room to move; it has a hem facing; and it has a bum flap which is flattering and comfortable!


The wool is a lot drapier than the lining, so it bags a bit. I’ve been advised that this is one of those “noone will know, ignore it but improve next time” elements, and I should have made an overlay at the bottom before topstitching (so the shell fabric rolls under by 1cm or so)



Pattern: Watson Jacket by Papercut Patterns, $39.95 from The Fabric Store ($35 from her website with free shipping)

Fabric: Red wool, $16/m (originally $32 with 50% off), 2.8m = $44.80

Silk lining, $6/m, 1.7m = $10.20

Notions: Interfacing, $12/m = $12. Thread 2x $3.8 = $7.60. Buttons, self-covered, 2x $5.90 for 3 = $11.80

Total = $126.30

Yikes! Here’s when it’s good to add up all the costs, not just the shell fabric which I would have done. I never would have started out being happy to pay that much for a coat – but I think it’s worth it. The cheapest RTW coats you could get would be >$100, and they wont be wool and silk!!



Self-less sewing

Thank goodness for Thread Theory. Finally, an indie company that makes classy, well drafted patterns for men. It’s especially good for those men who are in to a more traditional/RTW wear look – as much as I love the shirts Mrs C makes for her husband and Malepatternbaldness makes himself, my husband would not go for them. I made him the Newcastle Cardigan in August, and had planned on making August a month to sew for my husband, but it didn’t work very well. I had planned to make him several pairs of undies from Jalie 3242 (isn’t the styling amazing) but didn’t have the fabric until last weekend, and so August ended up being (like most months) dedicated to completely selfish sewing.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040475.jpg

Since I started sewing I have pretty much only ever made clothes for me (plus one outfit for my niece which I think was worn once D: and my sister-in-laws bridesmaid dress ). I just don’t find it particularly rewarding – all that hard work for someone ELSE to wear it? Plus I always get a lot more concerned about the construction, which can be stressful. I have some lovely merino-lycra waiting to become a pair of leggings for my mum and I’m too scared that I’ll f*** it up, that I haven’t cut in to it.

But, sewing for my husband is surely like sewing for ones children – what they wear reflects on you (sort of. That sounds very old-fashioned). So far I’ve made him three t-shirts, all disappointingly not-quite-right in some way or another.


The pattern is Thread Theory’s Newcastle Cardigan in a black textured merino-lycra-spandex blend from The Fabric Store. It was $8/m and I got 2m – which ended up being way too much, perhaps again because their bolts are so wide (ONE of the reasons why I love The Fabric Store and Fabric Warehouse). This means that I get to make myself a matching cardigan, woohoo!

The pattern (once assembled from about 33 different pages) was lovely to use – well drafted, and the instructions were a breeze. I cut and sewed up the bulk of it in 2-3 hours, then the finishing took me another couple of hours. Up until the point where I realised I had no buttons, so had to wait until the next day to buy some. It’s sewn mostly with my overlocker, with a double needle on my regular machine for the hems. After this experience I HIGHLY recommend Thread Theory’s patterns!! I am also wanting to make the Jedediah trousers, once I get some suitable fabric – he needs some more black pants and I’d like a lighter tan colour too.


I love this jumper, and I think I’ve made it really well. One issue with the fit is that Guy has rather broad back/shoulders, so when it’s unbuttoned it swings back a bit (the balance is off, Thanks British sewing bee), so I’ll have to figure that out if I make it again – Mrs. C is going to make one with leather accents on the shoulders, and I’m going to copy her. Also note to self – do not use white interfacing with black fabric. Even if it’s the only thing you’ve got and you really want to get on with it, you will regret it. It doesn’t show through, but when the jumper is open the facing sometimes swings around and you can see the white.
Silly man didn’t come and check the button placement like I asked him, before I made the button holes – and consequently he doesn’t like them. I think 5 buttons is definitely the right number, as the pattern suggested – but there weren’t any suitable buttons big enough at Made on Marion and Mrs. C’s husband convinced me against plain black (Guy’s lucky he didn’t end up with floral, or some absolutely gorgeous pegasus pewter buttons – but that’s probably more because they were $7.50 each and I only had $9).



Pattern: Thread Theory’s Newcastle Cardigan, $8.50 CAD = $10 NZD

Fabric: Merino blend of some sort, Global Fabrics, $8/m = $16

Notions: Interfacing ~$5, buttons $12.60 (Made Marion), Thread (stash) = $17.60

Total = $43.60

including the pattern, which I will make again, and enough fabric spare to make myself a cardigan.


Almost forgot my FAVOURITE bit, the tag:     https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040478.jpg


A mashed shirt dress

Kia Ora!

After my success with the green shirtwaist dress, I wasted no time in making another – in fact, I had started cutting this bad boy out the same day I wore the green one.


Those lines at my hip is only because my hands are pulling it all down, I swear 🙂

The bodice is based on my princess seam bodice, and the collared bits from the Gertie’s shirtwaist dress. I have NO IDEA why the collar lines up so weirdly, considering I traced the neckline and collar exactly from the other pattern – but as it is, you’ll see there is a huge gap between where the bodice folds and where the actual collar starts. Mrs C and The Dreamstress helped me pick out a couple of buttons to put on the lapel to make it look intentional, which I haven’t added yet – will do it soon though as the left lapel keeps unfolding (possibly because of the shoulder bag I wear all day at work).

The main buttons are also from Made Marion (I love the triple pun of that name, although until now I have been calling it MAde on Marion).


The fabric is a cotton sateen from The Fabric Warehouse – 102cm wide (boo) at $12/m so ended up being the same price to buy 3m as 2m of full priced sateen. I walked out of the shop, looked at it again and smiled – good choice Sophie! I’m getting better at choosing fabrics that should be made in to clothing, similar to those you’d find in RTW.

The sleeves are, again, a mix of the Gertie dress and my own sleeves – wanted to get them fitting properly in to the armscyth while being the same length as the previous dress; and I kept the bands cause I quite liked them. I “stitched in the ditch” rather than hand sewing this time (in quotations because I can’t really do it in the ditch, just near and either side)


Poppin’ my collar. My hair looks like a helmet.

I am very happy with this dress. I think the fabric choice was great, it fits well and is comfy. The waist seam hits exactly at my waist, and the length is perfect for work (at the knee). There is some pulling of fabric in the bodice but hey, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of all lines – only if I was half my size.


Cons: I need to get around to making a pressing ham, those darts are pointy! The collar is a bit odd. And I forgot to make sure the darts met up with the princess seams, so they don’t. Whoops. Also, the bodice back was a bit bigger than the skirt, so I added tiny pleats which adds to the ease in the shoulders.



  Inside: the seams are all overlocked. The tiny bobby pin (busted!) is because the lapel kept unfolding, as mentioned earlier.

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/p1040458.jpgThe hem is done with some nice crisp bias binding from (I’m sure you can guess) Made Marion.


Invisible zipper in the side seam. I put it in upside down thinking if it was the right way up the zipper tag would annoy me, but I don’t think it actually would – and this way you can see it on my hip! The seams are pulling a bit despite being stabilised, but look at that seam matching!

And a bonus today: a picture of our chicken licken’s, eating up some malt left over from beer brewing, and some lettuce leaves – we get them from the bin in the produce department where people have stripped off the outer leaves, I always feel grotty rummaging around in there.



Last one: old skirts of 2013

This should be the last post like this – I’m sure I have more home-made stuff but couldn’t find it on the day Tough Chick and I did the photos. There are a reasonable number of clothes that I’ve made that I no longer have – almost all have gone to Tough Chick herself, and I’m hoping to put together a post dedicated to my exclusive client.

This first skirt is made from the Cambie skirt, pockets included, out of a veeery stretchy cotton (+lycra?) blend from The Fabric Warehouse. It was supposed to be a dress but… I don’t know, I decided to make a skirt instead. https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dscn5415.jpg

Good bits: this skirt is super comfortable because of the super stretchiness. The pockets are good.

Bad bits: it sits funny? More like a straight skirt than a-line. Not sure if this is because of the fabric or the skirt sitting lower on the hips than when attached to a bodice. I don’t think I interfaced the waistband (I thought it would be comfortable without it?) so it stretches too much. The colour means I can only wear a plain t-shirt – and I only own ONE plain t-shirt!

  https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dscn5416.jpgI think it sits funny because of the stretch of the fabric, to be honest.


I have checked, and of all the skirts in my wardrobe (about 8), only two are store-bought – and one I haven’t worn in years and should probably give away already. And this one is one of my two favourites (the other being my boring old brown Ginger). The pattern is Sewaholic Cambie, and the fabric is a silk twill from the-store-formally-known-as- Global Fabrics. When I made this I did know about pre-washing fabric (only just) but didn’t know not to wash this kind of silk – I think this went through the machine, and consequently lost a lot of its lustre. You also can’t really see the subtle wood-grain pattern that made me fall in love with it.


The skirt is comfortable and nicely swishy when I walk – I feel rather fancy.  I didn’t want to hem it properly so the bottom hem is enclosed in pale pink bias binding….. um, except for a 6″ bit at the back where I ran out, and used white. D’oh. I really should turn the hem up, especially as a bit of the binding now inexplicably has a rip in it, but I don’t see those bits so keep forgetting.




The front part of the pockets are cut from the same fabric as the piping from my Rooibos – I didn’t have enough silk for the entire pockets, and I love this fabric.

For those who are interested, while I write this post I’m making this recipe – brown butter chocolate chip cookies. And holy moly these are GOOD, caramel flavour without having to make caramel. I only had a tiny amount of chocolate so one-third is plain (and overcooked, dumb oven – had to put it down to 150), one-third is pecans (suckers who eat those ones, amiright?) and the rest dark chocolate.


(Picture courtesy of Joy the Baker – mine are not this pretty)


More: dresses of 2013

More dresses that I made earlier this year. Apologies for the photos being a different size, wordpress is being a bitch.

Firstly, a dress in aubergine bengaline. Apparently the bengaline we have in NZ and Australia is different from that you get elsewhere – think cheap stretch trousers from The Warehouse or Shanton. Gross. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I was buying from trademe – me careful what you buy online!! It’s not actually terrible to wear when made in something a bit nicer than what I’ve seen it in, feels a bit odd but is super stretchy and comfortable.

The pattern is Simplicity 1882 which was rather nice to work with. I did have to dick around with the under-bust seam and you can see I still had trouble with it being in the wrong place. I’ve just had a google look and seen some really cool versions (like this one!) that make me want to try it again. I used this rad green tartan piping which, although makes the dress that much better, does not stretch. Something I thought I had learnt but keep finding myself wanting to do anyway: do not use piping (which is meant to reinforce a seam) for stretch material. This makes the whole thing a bit too tight, mainly under the bust/ribcage area. I think this is why I haven’t worn this dress much, despite thinking it looks pretty nice on me – I like to be able to move comfortably.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dscn5428.jpg

My other issue with it is that I hand-tacked down the facing a bit too obviously (did not know how to invisible stitch properly, and used black thread!), so there is a diagonal V of handstitching under the neckline. It also has a hand-picked zipper, and the piping matches up perfectly at the back (that took several tries)https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dscn5427.jpg

The next is a cheapo dress made from pink cotton broadcloth from Spotlight – I think it cost me about $5/m, so $10 dress. The bodice is made from an old princess seam sloper I had tried making, which had too much gape so ended up with three darts at the neckline. The skirt is from the Cambie.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dscn5453.jpghttps://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dscn5455.jpg

This is when my sister-in-law Sally (aka Tough Chick) reminded me that the dress is see-through and I’m wearing black underpants.


I usually wear this with a full petticoat

Next is my Tiramisu Cake. I took inspiration from this version, and used contrasting bands for the neckline and sleeves. I bought all the fabric at Global Fabrics so it ended up costing quite a lot – the black is a “double layer” knit that I thought meant double-knit. Wrong. It’s two layers of thin knit “stuck” together with pin holes… it that makes sense. Apparently it’s from some high-end NZ designer but it’s actually pretty horrible – because of the drape the fabric gets these vertico-diagonal lines that look messy. Will try and get a good photo to explain this.


It’s also very stretchy without much recovery, so I ended up taking HEAPS out of the side seams (I like how this dress is sewn in the flat, and have been doing that with some of my wovens recently). When it’s first washed it’s nice and snug but stretches out quickly after an hour or two of wearing.

Unfortunately the pockets are heinous. I now know better (after several attempts in different garments) – in seam pockets are bad on me, especially in a bias skirt, especially in a knit! They stick out like crazy, look like weird lips (or something ruder), and are extremely unflattering. I am going to go back and remove them but in the meantime this dress is inside-only.


I do like the idea of the pattern though – it is crazy comfortable and awesome to have something nice that you can just “slip on” like you can jeans or trackpants (the latter of which I never leave the home wearing). I have another version in a pinkish double knit/ponte which has somehow ended up with lots of stains on it so will not be shown. Same issues with the pockets, though.


I will make this dress again, when I get around do finding some nice knit fabric.