LBD and other acronyms


I find it quite funny, sometimes, moving between medical specialties and having to learn all of the different acronyms; used as shorthand within specialties, lots of them overlap and are used throughout the hospital/medical world. Others are specialty specific (or even specific within a specialty). Sometimes they’re funny (like a medical students saying “peacocks” in an exam instead of PCOS), sometimes just different (IVF is both intravenous fluids, and in-vitro fertilisation), sometimes terrible – please don’t use IUD (which usually means an intra-uterine (contraceptive) device) when you mean an in-utero death.

In a similar vein, is the term “LBD”, or “little black dress”. Is it even a thing? I don’t think I would ever say “El-Bee-Dee” out loud (I am not a big fan of using acronyms when it doesn’t actually save time, like saying “Bee-Are-Bee” IRL), or even “little black dress”. Is this just some sort of crazy marketing tool? Wikipedia doesn’t enlighten us with any other real uses for the acronym, merely tagging it as a “wardrobe staple”.

I’ve never been one for the “fashion rules”. Did you know that people say pear shapes shouldn’t wear pencil skirts? That we should wear a-line skirts because it evens out the hips or some such rubbish? Boo. The same people would probably tell me not to take fashion ideas from Sabrina the Teenage Witch – but I got a lot of compliments when I wore blue tights with a blue dress. Speaking of Sabrina – check out what Harvey looks like now, Phew!

However, despite me so often shying away from what’s “fashionable”, I did decide to make what could be described as a (an?) LBD when I was invited to a formal party in Nelson. This also gave us an excuse to spend some time at my parents house in Nelson – goodness it’s nice to go back there. All the photos are taken by one end of the pool (Nelson, unlike Wellington, seems to know that it’s summer).


Obviously should have ironed the dress after pulling it out of my suitcase. Duh.

I made this from two separate patterns; the skirt is, of course, Gertie’s pencil skirt; and the bodice is Simplicity 4070. I kept the waistband on the skirt and oof, I didn’t need to. After making a quick muslin of the bodice (in a size 14, straight) in some light cotton drill scrap fabric, I took out a bit of fabric at the top of the front seams (above the bust) I went ahead and cut out my fabric (a cotton silk twill from The Fabric Store). I then had to take out a big chunk of the waist band to fit it to the bodice – and forgot to take out fabric from the top of the skirt. The fabric easily frayed, so after two unsuccessful trying-to-just-ease-the-damned-skirt-in, I ended up just making the darts slightly larger at the top.


Consequently, the waist is TIGHT. Too tight. And, in retrospect, the waist is way too long (whatever that really means); I should have left the waistband out completely. By the end of the evening it just folded up and got eaten up by the rest of the dress. Um. Otherwise, I think the front skirt darts need to be a bit longer; the bodice was a bit too tight; and there is some puckering at the neckline. The latter is probably because I made the shell piece a touch bigger than the lining piece (after realising it was going to be too small) then eased in to help the neckline not gape.


Construction: all is sewn and then overlocked. Tucked away seams (waist band and neckline) are pinked with shears to reduce bulk. I moved the top of the waist dart so they met up with the bodice seams, but they ended up so angled it doesn’t really matter anyway. The zip is lapped (can you tell how much I’m loving these? They really are a lot easier than I thought they were!)

So what about you all – do you fly in the face of the fasion do’s and don’ts? Who writes those anyway? This great article on stuff.co.nz promoting Meagan Kerr’s body-positive blog provoked a mini-discussion on the topic between the WSBN – if interested, the girls recommend the following blogs: Dancing With Fat (after reading her hate mail page, I finally really understand the need for trigger warnings), The Militant Baker, and Wellingtonian I Like Pretty Clothes (no wonder she was titled Wellington’s bessed dressed! Flipping heck)


Pattern: Gertie’s pencil skirt + Simplicity 4070

Fabric: cotton silk twill from The Fabric Store, (originally $26/m with 30% off, and free end-of-bolt 30cm), 1.5m = $27.30

Notions: thread, stash, and zip, $4

Total: $31.30

Now some super awesome photos that happen when both your co-model and photographer have had a few beers around the pool, in the sun.




I love Movember!!


Sewing with family

Earlier this weekone of my brothers asked if I could help him make some shorts. I initially thought he meant “proper” shorts (like I have lined up for Mr. Guy out of Thread Theory’s Jedediah Trousers), but he actually meant elastic waist band, comfortable summer shorts. Sigh of relief!

ImageI took him to spotlight as I knew we would find the novelty fabric he was after at the nicer fabric shops. We found this cotton duck with the drills and were sold. I actually have enough for a matching skirt – we will be so cool.

ImageWe made these out of Simplicity 7073, and old pattern I must have got at an op shop aaages ago, an “easy essentials” pattern with some awesome styling on the cover. We made it all up in one go then found that the crotch was remarkably low, and he had wanted shorty shorts; in the end I had to remove the waist band, un-stitch the pockets, and take 9cm off the top of the pattern in order to lift up the crotch; this made the legs the right length as well.


A warning about elastic waistbands: when removing the elastic from the casing in a hurry, wear safety goggles or at least avert your eyes. Yes, I got hit right in the eye with elastic, probably with a similar force to someone punching me in the face. This, added to the devastation I felt hearing that The Fabric Store had sold all of the lace I had been planning to buy (I only wanted half a metre!!!), meant for a grumpy Sophie.


We didn’t think too much (at all) about the pencil placement, but I’m not too worried. Ollie did the majority of the construction himself (I did the curved seams of the pockets, and all the overlocking) which is pretty darned good for a total beginner!


Pattern: Simplicity “easy essentials” 7073

Fabric: Cotton duck from Spotlight, 1.5m at $11.89/m (after 30% off) = $17.80

Notions: thread and elastic, stash

Total: $17.80

At the same time we were sewing, Ollie and Mr. Guy were making a brew of beer. Ollie has recently gotten really into it, which is good for the rest of us. This brew is a nutty brown ale, and should be ready for drinking in 6 weeks. Hopefully in two weeks (after it goes into bottles) “the boys” (Mr Guy, Ollie and another brother Jack) will make another brew.



Gertie’s pencil skirt #2

Aaand, I’ve made this skirt again.

ImageI’m even wearing the same top as last time.

This Gertie high waisted pencil skirt is made from a stretch denim with leopard print (obviously). To be honest the denim is not the best quality (although you wouldn’t guess that when the original price was $39.95/m!! What the hang, Arthur Toye), but I loved it at the AT 50% sale and wanted another skirt.


The details are all similar to last time; I used the same base size (12 waist to 14 hips, I think) that I traced last time. This time around I actually cut the excess fabric from the side seams from my pattern pieces. Interestingly, although I feel like it fits quite well and definitely isn’t too small, I can see some diagnonal pulling lines at the back. Maybe it’s something I’ll never get rid of while I have curves (mainly my pansita) and a bootay. Although it might partly be the fabric, as my sateen one didn’t do it so much.


It’s as if all the lines are pointing at my bum

I also took in the waistband a touch; last time I had to remove about an inch from the top of the waistband by angling the side seams. I wanted to keep the side seams at a 90 degree angle though, so snipped through the waistband piece from top to almost-bottom three times, and overlapped each piece by 5mm – so I ended up with 3cm less in total at the top of the waistband without removing any from the bottom. Perfect.

ImageWore it to work today and it’s comfortable for all the stand-sit-stand-walk-sit-standing I have to do.


ImageConstruction wise, it’s sewn with machine and finished with my overlocker. I did a lapped zipper using Scruffy Badger Time’s tutorial which I love, and it finishes with a button. Vent added like last time – see this post if you’re interested in how. This time I did no hand-stitching, instead using my MOST AMAZING NEW SEWING MACHINE FOOT, a stitch-in-the-ditch/edge stitching foot, which I picked up for $12 (I was expecting to pay $20-25) at fabric-a-brac. The stitching is perfectly invisible from the outside and just leaves a (very) straight stitchline on the bottom inside waistband.




Pattern: Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Leopard print denim from Arthur Toye’s sale, $20/m. 1.5m bought (1m used) = $30

Notions: Thread $2, button and zip, stash

Total: $32



Adding a vent is safe and easy!

As mentioned in my polka dot skirt post, I’m not a fan of skirt slits, much preferring a vent. I’ve had incidents where a split.. well, continued to split, to an indecent height. I also feel like the reveal more leg than I would like when walking – with skirts the length I’m making it’s not such an issue, but still. Vent is classier. The Gertie pencil skirt is drafted with a slit, rather than a vent; so for my last version, and another i’ve made but not photographed, I added my own vent. There is another skirt in the middle that I forgot to add the vent to; and not photographed because… it doesn’t fit. Not sure if y’all already know how to do this, but in case you don’t here’s a quick tutorial. Basically, it’s this easy:https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p10500601.jpg Just add a piece to the center back seam at the bottom. I tend to add about 5cm in width and 15cm length; make sure it joins the center back seam with a 45 degree angle. Start by finishing each edge; I usually just overlock, press and sew. https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1050046.jpg https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1050047.jpg When ready to sew the center back seam, sew out to the vent at a 45 degree angle following the cut line. https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1050048.jpg Next, clip the obtuse angle to (but not through) the stitches. I then finish the top of the vent with pieces together, and the pieces of the center back separately, pressing them apart. https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1050050.jpg You now need to sew along that same 45 degree angle, but through the main/shell fabric too, so you’ll end up with some top-stitching; make sure the bobbin thread matches the shell fabric. https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1050054.jpg

(These photos are all upside down because I was taking photos on my desk, don’t be weirded out)

And, that’s basically it. Finish the skirt bottom as you would otherwise.






NB: No finished item today as I have a dress needing hemming and neckline finishing; and have lost a bit of my mojo. It might be a tracing day today.


I was as excited for this years fabric-a-brac, as I was for Christmas when I was 15 (which is not as excited as when you’re a child, lets be honest). Unfortunately I was busy for the April FAB (not so unfortunate, because it was the same day as my wedding) but this time I cleared my schedule. I do have enough stash to have my own stall, but my sister-in-law has decided she’s going to get back in to sewing when she comes back to town so wants ALL of it. Which is good (another sewing buddy!) and bad (could have made money – easily enough to off-set my purchaces; or I could have given it all to the hospice shop)

I was, however, lucky enough to be asked to volunteer at the Hospice Stall (lucky because I love handling money) – which meant I could come half an hour early to look through all the stalls. This year there was only three (I think) stalls selling new items – Made on Marion (she only had 45 minutes notice!), Whirlwind Designs, and The Sewing Depot. The rest were all stash-busters.

And those of us who were stash-growers:

ImageClockwise from left:

  • a thick-ish floral fabric, $2. Will become a mini skirt
  • Pale floral cotton with TINY birds, 4m for $20
  • Paisley cotton, 250x109cm, $4, will likely become Tania Coulotts
  • Blue cotton, the exact same as the green my shirtwaist is made from. 250x170cm for $5; a Colette Crepe
  • Owl jersey (according to The Dreamstress who bought the same last year, it’s polyester and ended up pilling like craaaazy). 200x165cm $10
  • Polyester with tiny umbrellas 90x240cm, $2. No idea, will probably be given to my sister-in-law.
  • ImageTaupe with white polka dots, ?rayon, 150×110, $7. Very drapey – maybe a La Sylphide if I have enough?
  • Navy and red cotton shirting, 90x490cm, $15. NO IDEA, perhaps a bleuet? I don’t know how well the bow would show up though; I would love a contrast but would not want to do a red contrast.
  • Marroon cotton rayon blend with leaves. My ABSOLUTE favourite and I probably would be happy if this was all I bought. 3 yards ?width, $4!
  • Red checked cotton with daisies, no idea. It was only a couple of dollars.
  • Black and red houndstooth check knit, 212×140 $5. A dress of some sort.

I know almost every Wellingtonian sewist was at Fabric-a-Brac if they could make it. Wouldn’t it be great if there were more opportunities to stash bust like this? Next time I’ll be getting in early to have a WSBN table (I know we’ll all have stuff to stash by then!).

Anyone got any clever ideas for my fabrics I haven’t thought of?




A spotted resurrection

When idly thumbing through the few garments hanging up in my “WIP closet” (most aren’t actually WIP’s, they’re things I’ve made and don’t fit, hoping to sell to recover costs of materials but have no avenue to do so; or they’re things that need some minor adjustments, e.g. shortening) my eye was caught on a certain blue polka dot dress.

Hmm, I thought, what’s this doing here…


(the dress in question is no longer in there, because I’m wearing it right now. You may notice two other blue polka dot dresses – one I’m giving to a friend once I put a zip in it, the other just needs re-hemming)

I made this dress a few years ago, to wear to a gig up in Auckland (No Sleep Til Auckland – a weird mix of punk (NOFX – who were awesome as always – Dropkick Murpheys, Alkaline Trio, Frenzal Rhomb – who were extremely disappointing as they were playing “metal” to make fun of the rest of the crowd, rather than playing their cool upbeat Aussie punk) and metal (Megadeath, GWAR – interesting, to say the least – 3 Inches of Blood etc)). At the time it fit well although the sleeves kept falling off; and after my weight loss in 2011 it became too large.

Hence going into my closet, in the hope that I may get around to taking it in. Which I haven’t done (I hate alterations).


Until the other day – when I tried it on again. I am somewhat pleased to say that it is still too big


Although luckily I can get away with wearing it as a skirt, with a jersey over top.


I think I’ve almost gotten more compliments on this “skirt” today than any other item! Including from patients.


The pattern is McCall’s 5292 (easy stitch ‘n save), the fabric is a medium weight cotton ?drill from Christchurch’s Spotlight (a horrible store because it’s soooooo busy and the staff are unable to help you, either because of how busy they are, or because of lack of knowledge).


Please excuse the stain, I… don’t know how it got there.

Not much else to say, except that this will get a lot of wear (again), and I’ll probably look at making this pattern again. I should probably try fitting this one down, but I really do hate alterations.


Mr. Guy is not the best photographer. Sure, he takes heaps of photos, but doesn’t seem to realise that stupid faces, dappling light/shadow over half my face, unflattering shots are not what I want; and if they are the majority he will get dragged back off the computer to take some more. You know I find myself sounding more and more like my mother these days – “in the time you’ve spent arguing you could have done [the chore] twice by now!”



First of many pencil skirts

I. Love. This. Skirt!

https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/p1040948.jpgI’d been meaning to make this skirt for a wee while now, and had the fabric in my stash to do so (a black twill/denim – more on that one to come). Then, when I had leftover fabric from this dress I decided to make a polka-dot pencil skirt (ohhhhh yes). The pattern is Gertie’s high waisted skirt from her book – so it meets my November challenge for The Monthly Stitch to “sew from a book” – which, if I’m honest, is the main reason why I actually got around to making the skirt.


I didn’t have to do very much fitting; I traced off the pattern, grading between size 12 in the waist and size 14 in the hips (I think. I’ve leant my book to Jo from Making It Well so can’t be sure which sizes I did). I had to take a touch more out of the waistband, and took off about 1.5cm off each side seam, all the way down – so maybe I could have done a size 12 for the whole thing and stuff the measurements.


The construction went well. The insides are all overlocked, the hem is done using my coverstitch machine, and I followed her instructions for the majority, including inserting a lapped zipper (using her tutorial). I understand now why so many people like these! It’s actually way easier to do than a standard centered zipper (no basting involved), is easier to keep tidy, and hides the zip better. I’m pretty sure this is how my mother first taught me to do zips but I obviously forgot. Now I have the choice of lapped or invisible zips which have been my favourite ever since I got the foot for my machine.


Speaking of things I’ve forgotten; how is it that I forget really crucial skills that I had once learned – and have to have an “ah ha” moment all over again. Take this example:


This tangle of threads happens when you don’t pull the loose threads taut before starting stitching; the bobbin thread gets all caught up with itself and gets stuck. I learned this about a year ago (after years of having unexplained messes) and yet I still occasionally get lazy.

This top is not one of my own; it’s a poly chiffon thing I bought on sale several years ago. Rather shapeless number with one dart and kimono sleeves but looks good tucked in and I wear it quite a lot.


Silly sausage

As mentioned above, I followed most of Gertie’s construction steps, but I sewed curved darts and added a vent – I’m not a fan of slits, I feel they’re more dangerous.. that is, more likely to rip up the back seam, and more likely to show too much leg. I didn’t have any black zips so it has a pink zip which occasionally peeks its head out from behind the lap.


All in all, this is one hellovah skirt. It’s very fitted in the waist (tick), fits nicely over the hips (tick) and is an excellent length for me (tick tick) – I’m reasonably tall and have problems with almost all RTW being too short. My preferred skirt length is right below my knees. The one (one!) problem I have is that it’s a bit baggy under the bum (probably partly due to the sateen, after sitting for a while) which can… accentuate my generous behind, but not enough to worry about.


Pattern: Gertie’s high waisted skirt

Fabric: Polka-dot cotton sateen (3% lycra) from The Fabric Warehouse/leftover from other dress. Approx $10

Notions: Thread, button and zip, stash

Total: $10! Suck it!