Reflections on 2013

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. Or, actually, since I did any sewing. Initially I was just feeling guilty about a couple of unfinished dresses in my cupboard and kept trying to finish those (unsuccessfully). Then, we were in Christchurch for Christmas with my family-in-law, and now I’m on night shift (7 nights in a row is awful, trust me).

So in lieu of presenting an actual garment, I thought I would take some time to reflect on my sewing for 2013 and what my goals are for 2014. Warning: text heavy post, so I’ll start off with a picture of our cat (Travis) with string stuck in his teeth.


This year my sewing has come such a long way. I’m never sure what to say when people ask when I started sewing; I did a sewing class in 3rd form where I made a windsock which I made a hole in with the overlocker, a gypsy skirt that I shortened a lot and wore all the time, and a disgusting straight skirt that I shudder to think about (shiny teal stretch fabric with beaded trim around the hem) and didn’t even like back then. Then I must have dabbled for a while with my mothers sewing machine as I seem to recall making a pretty awesome pair of tartan shorts for my brothers (which pulled apart at the seams because the fabric was such poor quality).

I got my current sewing machine on my 18th birthday, and since then dabbled, making maybe 3-4 garments per year. Construction and fit were not ideal but damn did I wear those items a lot!!! In 2014 my now-husband and I moved into a flat of our own and I got my own sewing room, so churned out a few more, mainly dresses. I got a sewing mannequin (since sold because I didn’t actually use it that much and I needed the money) which helped my fitting. I graduated from med school.

ImageDresses I made in 2012 and still wear/own.

Then, after moving to Wellington, something changed and I started sewing a lot. Maybe it was starting work full time and having money to spend on fabric; or just needing a creative distraction when not at work. Either way, I really stepped up my game and have improved so much from last year. I still make some terrible things but my knowledge and appreciation for what works has really grown; and I now only sew things that are the proper length!!. Since June I haven’t bought a single RTW item which has forced me to really sew for my style, get better at basic items that I can wear to work


Luckily, I never get the feeling that I’ve failed when sewing; I guess because I tell myself that I always learn from a garment, and it’s just a hobby so money spent on materials is fine (especially when compared to other hobbies like water sports, and amount people spend on booze). However, I do get really disappointed in garments that don’t turn out well – and I have realised the two main issues are fit, and doing a rushed job which compromises the craftmanship.

Most of my “failed” items are actually from before I started the blog, so don’t have any photos. Many have gone to my sister-in-law. Some other things have gone in the bin or to the op shops. They’re mainly items that just don’t fit properly or that I don’t feel good in – it’s amazing how we will still wear items that make us feel bad, for whatever reason. I decided late last year to only wear clothes I feel fabulous in which has done wonders for my self-esteem, although it did mean culling a LOT of clothing.

In the interest of staying fabulous, I am making myself look hard at what clothes I don’t tend to reach for, and don’t enjoy wearing, so I can kind of start afresh for 2014.

ImageI had such high hops for this dress. I was so stoked with the fabric when I bought it – the kind of thing I used to overlook but would be common to see in RTW. But, it’s a fail. The collar is botched (the two points are waaay too far apart), I don’t like my button choice, and the skirt was such a disappointment (it really should be a full skirt rather than a-line). The fit is okay and I love the sleeves, but I just don’t enjoy wearing this one.

This one is a case of wrong fabric for the wrong dress. Again, I wated the skirt to be fuller, but mainly it’s a fail because the fabric is way too heavy for a dress, particularly one with sleeves. I love the collar and the buttons, and maybe I’ll like it again in the winter when it gets cold again, but I haven’t ever enjoyed wearing it. The fit is pretty good though, I guess.


After how well my first Ginger went, I quickly made these two repeats. Again, not exactly sure why I don’t like these, but they just don’t sit well on my hips. Additionally, because the linen obviously creases when I sit down, but the lining doesn’t, it ends up with a crazy yellow bottom. The tartan wool one I tried matching the tartan after cutting, so obviously it ended up being a bit squiffy.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/annas.jpg

These two Anna’s have mixed feelings. For one, they look awesome – but, the necklines are way too high and are almost uncomfortable. The polka dot one in particular sits half way up my neck! After making this pattern four times, I finally clicked that the shoulder seam sits too far back, so the back neckline is too low while the front neckline is too high. I feel like an idiot for not fixing it first, and it kind of teaches me to not make a muslin, and to go after “quick projects” which are inevitably a disappointment. I think I’ll still wear these and the red one at least I can fix by lowering the neckline.

Favourite Garments

So, for my favourites.


Gosh darnit but I love these skirts, I end up reaching for them most days. They fit well and I feel like I finally have a proper TNT pattern; I know it will fit without any alterations and all I need to take into account is how much stretch is in the fabric.


Every time I put on this jacket, I get all excited. I made this – I MADE THIS! Good fabric choice (wool and silk), cool design, well fitting (despite not doing a muslin, oops). When I make it again I’ll shorten the shoulders a touch, maybe do bound buttonholes and/or use snaps rather than buttons to close it. I’d love to make it without the double breasting, too.


Another one that I’m so proud of making myself. I’m not sure exactly why, as the fitting isn’t the greatest, but it’s really comfortable, looks good, and always gets comments. I love the pleating in the front, and while the shirring is comfortable it looks a bit odd over my bottom so will probably do a pleated skirt on the back next time.


So, 2013 has been a pretty awesome sewing year for me. My skills have improved hugely, I started a blog, and thanks to Mrs C (who I met at her shop, gossiping), met a whole heap of awesome sewing ladies (through the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network). I’ve become more discerning in my fabric choices (and have recently culled a huge amount of fabric from my stash, so I only sew with things I actually want to sew with/wear – this largely means no polyester!).

My main goals for 2014 are non-specific, mainly around spending time to perfect the little details as they make me the most happy with a finished garment. No more “fast-sewing” or “quick projects”!! I’m continuing with my RTW ban (although I haven’t even been tempted to buy anything yet), and so will try to encourage myself to be less stingy with fabric, buying good quality fabric with enough yardage (!) to make what I will actually want to be wearing in 5 years.


Lobster lips

Sooo, guess what I made??

Yep, another pencil/straight skirt. ImageI’ve really gotten into this “tried and true pattern” business – I know this pattern fits well, and it’s such a daily wardrobe staple I could easily make and wear 20 of these. It’s flattering (I’m pretty sure 😀 ) and comfortable, with enough room for my badonkadonk when I go from sitting to standing all the time at work. Image This version is made from a cotton-polyester drill from The Fabril Warehouse. Medium-weight with a teensy bit of drill. Unfortunately it wrinkles a bit and does sit kind of weirdly, but meh. Don’t care.

In terms of construction, I trimmed the interfacing back to the seam allowances before fusing:

ImagePinked then trimmed the top waistband seam (the clippings look like little love hearts):

ImageI added my usual vent (next time I will try doing a kick pleat, for fun):


And, the best part, I added piping!


Green tartan piping.

ImageI love piping – such an easy way to add pizazz to an otherwise simple garment. And look how well it lines up at the back!


Lapped zipper, baby.

It, erm, may not have a button yet and is currently done up with a small safety pin. The button I bought (which matches the colour perfectly) is too big for the tiny flap I kept on the waistband. I’ve been thinking I might just put on one of those huge hook-eye-tab things like you get on pants.


Not much else to say, really. I promise I’ll put some more interesting stuff on here instead of copy pastas. But really, I could make and wear 20 of these.


Pattern: Pencil skirt from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

Fabric: 1.5m of cotton-polyester drill, $24 (could have gotten away with 1m)

Notions: Zip, $4, thread and interfacing, stash

Total: $28

Mr. Guy took me up the hill for photos, rather than having them always in the back- or front yard. It also involved swings!https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/p1050220.jpg

.Location shots FTW


So – do you guys tend to stick to one pattern you know well or continue to challenge yourselves?

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Scout leader

So apparently it was Thanksgiving in the USA this week (I did actually know that this year, after attending a thanksgiving “dinner” at my brother and his American fiancé’s (“Tough Chick”) place last weekend), and, as I have just found out, the next day is called “black Friday”. I always just thought that was Friday the 13th, but according to Wikipedia, the term have been used as such since before 1961. Since ages ago, in the USA this means crazy assed sales, sometimes involving violence.

What it means for us NZ sewists, is that sewing patterns also go on sale, woot! Only a few of the active members of the WSBN came out unscathed… I did not.

Scout woven tee

I took advantage of 20% off at Grainline Studio to buy the Scout Woven Tee and the Archer Shirt; and decided to buy the Riger Bomber by Papercut Patterns after seeing Sophie from Cirque-du-Bebe’s polka dot version (after pretty much reading her entire blog while having a rare breather at my 15 hour day at work, I have a huge girl crush on her right now).

Scout woven tee

I wouldn’t usually pick a pattern like the Scout Tee; it’s not really my style at all, having absolutely no waist definition. However, I am in desperate need of some simple tops to wear tucked in to the high waisted skirts I favour; and as much as I’d like them all to be delicate blouses, I’m just not ready/skilled enough to make them.

Scout woven tee

This top is perfect. I started by tracing a size 14 and grading out to an 18 in the hips; however, there must be some crazy ease in this pattern because it was humongous, as if I had put a sheet over my head and tried to tuck it in. I ended up taking 1″ off each side seam at the underarms, and 2.5″ at the waist, leaving the hips as they are. Next time I’ll also raise the sleeves by 1cm as they’re sitting a little too lateral.

Scout woven tee

I really like the scooped neckline on me, too – I think I’ll be using this to alter a few of my other patterns. I accidentally sewed the bias binding (stash) on the wrong side first, so ran with it and used it as a “design feature”, which I quite like – it helps break up the dots a bit (which were really hard to look at when the fabric was unrolled at the counter).

Scout woven tee

Warning: the yardage guidelines on the pattern are really generous. I cut mine out as a single layer and used less than 1m, whereas the pattern calls for 1.7m (I traced the pattern out double so I could just lay it out; otherwise I would have folded the fabric so the selvage met in the middle, as both pieces easily sat side by side).

This isn’t a terrible thing, especially as I ended up getting about 50cm free (because there was a fault on the fabric, which I’m almost certain isn’t on the top… I forgot to check before I cut), and now I have extra to use as lining.

Scout woven tee

The whole thing took hardly any time to make up – I cellotaped and traced the pattern Sunday morning; cut out the fabric at 1; started sewing at 2.30 and was taking photos at 4 (okay, okay, that was before I hemmed it though – it was to catch the light, I swear!).

All the while I was helping Mr. Guy and two brothers make halloumi:

Homemade halloumi

Yuuuuum. Homemade halloumi is easy, cheaper and tastier than most bought-stuff, at least the type you get in NZ. I use this recipe by Ted (also from Wellingtonian), video here. All you need is 4L of milk, some rennet which is easily found, but you may have to order online if you want vegetarian rennet – within NZ I use Cottage Crafts for all my cheesemaking supplies.

Mr. Guy and Brother Ollie were also bottling some homemade beer

Bottling beer

Back to the top. The fabric is a very lightweight, almost see-through cotton polka-dot. It will be oh-so-nice for summer, although it was so fragile my machines wanted to gather it right up:

Scout Woven Tee

Good for the sleeves, not so good everywhere else. I used a sharp micro needle which was a good idea that I’d usually forget to do. The internal seams are all overlocked, and I’ve done a narrow hem on my overlocker. Next one I do (as I know how it should fit) I might try french seams. And the bias binding will be on the inside.

Scout woven tee

Speaking of bias binding necklines – I, like many others, can’t seem to make it stay flat and not roll outwards (or inwards in this case). I know you’re supposed to pretty the binding into a curve before applying it (thanks to Mrs. C), but it still happens to me. Anyone got any other tips?

Pattern: Scout Woven Tee by Grainline Studio, $6.60 NZD
Fabric: Lightweight cotton from The Fabric Store, $18/m, 1.6m (extra due to a flaw) = $18
Notions: Bias binding and thread, stash.
Total: $24.60

Scout Woven Tee

Disclaimer: this post was entirely written in html, because the wordpress online editor wasn’t working for me last night or this morning. Reminds me of lunchtimes and IT classes in 4th form, spent collating every Dragon Ball Z picture I could find online, on to a website using html. I also had DBZ pictures plastered all over my walls, in black and white using my school printing allowance. Anyone else LOVE Dragon Ball Z?