Black White Russian


Truly, I am addicted to this pattern. I’ve made pink and the blue White Russians from Capital Chic Patterns, and I had to add this black one.


I’ve had this boiled wool in my stash for ages and it reminds me of the “poodle” wool we used to wear in the ’50s, which I see can still be bought at places like Mood Fabrics. This piece had a rather large flaw in it which I had to navigate around, but I managed it because the pattern is really only three pieces. Because there’s not a lot of stretch to the fabric I decided to use a ribbed knit for the bands, but couldn’t find the piece I wanted to use even though I knew it was in my cupboard – somewhere! In the end I went for a thicker ribbed knit and it worked ok.


This pattern is such a quick make that I knocked it out whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Umm not really, but who let’s truth get in the way of a good story? Actually, it took as long as the kettle to boil, the tea to brew and be slowly consumed. Truly! I adore this pattern. As winter slips away I know that I probably won’t make too many more for a while, but I have one more that I want to make.

My hair looks such a mess in the above photos that I had to include this out of focus shot just to show that I do brush it occasionally. I also always seem to prefer back shots to front shots.


The details:

White Russian pattern from Capital Chick Patterns, made from black boiled wool from Knitwit. Teamed with StyleArc Elle pants and Paul Green boots.


Twenty minute transformation


Oh I do love me a bit of alliteration! As it happens, this took slightly longer than twenty minutes – but I decided that poetic license was in order.

Gabrielle from Heaven Wrapped gave me this scarf to refashion/repurpose and I decided that I would not do another Coco, but would try something a bit more original.


The scarf is made from shirred wool just like the other two – here and here


I draped this scarf on Doris the dummy and began to plan how it would look


It is more of a sleeveless tunic. All I really needed to do was to draft a pattern for the shoulders and neckline.

A couple of French seams, a bit of binding round the neck, and a line of stitching from hip to underarm, and hey presto! I was done. Easiest transformation ever.


I chose to keep the edge frill which finished up as part of the side seam. I like this feature but it does make me look even more rectangular than usual!


The fringing at the bottom gives it a bit of a boho look, and the ends of the scarf that had heavier shirring causes the top to be really fitted on the hip, meaning that I could let the top blouse over a little.


I can use this tighter shirring to make the top longer or shorter depending on how I am feeling.

To wear this top in the winter I needed a long sleeved t shirt to wear under it, and I found this khaki wool knit in my deepest stash. I used a combination of different tops to create the shape that I wanted. In the spring I shall wear the top with a camisole and enjoy the frilled sleeves.


The details: Tunic top is self drafted and made from a scarf donated by Gabrielle from Heaven Wrapped. I have to say that I absolutely love the colour combination. Raspberry and khaki, who would have thought?

The pants are Elle pants from Style Arc, and the t-shirt is made from a piece of wool/spandex from Potter’s.

Top to skirt refashion


As part of the Repurpose, Reuse, and Refashion month I thought I would dig around in the Tom and Bridgette reject basket and see what I could come up with to play with. I found this top of Bridgette’s and thought it might make a nice skirt. I really like the caramel coloured band at the bottom of the front – the back is plain.


I set about cutting it up without trying it on – this was a bit of a mistake as the bottom of it has a very top like shape. Anyway, I cut it into a few component parts. First of all I cut off the bodice from under the arms.


then I needed a skirt yoke so I cut a rectangle out of the top of the bodice and a rectangle from the back. The back had a split secured by a button and loop. I cut below the button but got a bit of the split.


This is what I was left with


Two white sleeves (now not quite white because the black body has obviously discoloured them) and a bit of the neckline.

This is how it finished up – the front – ok, but the shaping of that caramel band bothers me a little, and I had to run in the bottom at the sides as it flared out. It dips in the front and I might need to reshape the top of the skirt where it joins the waistband. Of course it will make the skirt a bit shorter…


and the back.



For some reason I didn’t photograph the yoke. I had to sew up the split because it gaped unattractively and I repositioned the button and loop at the top – no reason, just because I could.

Details: Cotton On top refashioned to a skirt teamed with my Bronte top

Blue White Russian


Having made the pink White Russian, I immediately wanted to make another one. I had a piece of lovely blue knit fabric in my stash that my friend Thelma donated to me last year. I’ve been really keen to make this fabric into something, but it was too small to make anything appropriate until I looked at the leftover fabric from my memory dress and realised that it was a pretty good match. Enter the blue White Russian!


So the sleeves and hem band are from the merino knit and the rest seems to be a cotton textured knit.


I do love this pattern. This time I just whipped 3 inches off the hem band and stretched it onto the body of the top. This worked well. I also felt that the neck band was a bit long, so unpicked it all and took an inch off and the neck sits so much better. It may have been the amount of stretch that made it sit badly.

So this is a perfect weekend top. I can go to the shops in it and not feel like a complete scruff, I can walk round the neighbourhood with head held high, and of course it will be perfect for glamping purposes.

I see more of these tops in my future!

Finally, a shot proving that I have worn it shopping. Here I am in Heaven Wrapped with Gabrielle, and she is modelling a scarf that I refashioned into a Coco for her. I am also wearing one of these scarves that she gave to me.

photo 4

The details: Pattern is the White Russian from Capital Chic Patterns. Fabric is a piece of textured cotton donated by Thelma and paired with leftover Merino knit. Gabrielle wears a Coco top made from a scarf from Heaven Wrapped, Old Theatre Lane, Claremont.

New trousers in a hurry


Mark just visited Sri Lanka and a couple of days before he left he asked if I could make him some light, summery trousers for the non-work component of the trip. Enter deep stash! We ventured into uncharted territory and I had to ‘fess up that I had a large trunk of “secret” fabric,  and in there I thought I might have something suitable. A bit of burrowing revealed this lovely grey/khaki coloured cotton/linen combo from which I just squeezed a pair of trousers. I was so short of fabric that I had to cut the pockets out of an old sheet


I then lined the visible bit with a strip of fabric left over from the crotch section of the trousers so it looked like I had cut the inner pocket out of the fashion fabric. Worked a treat. My pressing skills are clearly not up to much though :)


I sent him off with strict instructions to send me photographs of said trousers in exotic locales – this is what I got – honestly, what sort of background is this?

photo 1

The trousers weren’t looking too bad really. The shirt is one that I made for Archie when he was in his floral shirt phase, but then he outgrew it. It now sits in Mark’s wardrobe and goes brilliantly with these trousers. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged this shirt – all the facings are made from offcuts of Archie’s Christening gown, which is another reason that I could not bear to give it away. photo 2As I said, I am a tad disappointed that he couldn’t find somewhere a bit more interesting to take these photos – he even went to Galle, an old fort town and took no photos, but just to prove he’s somewhere exotic, here is a photo of a mango that he had for breakfast.

photo 3

Impressive or what?

I need to report that he liked these trousers so much that he visited fabric stores (without coercion) to try and find similar fabric so that I could make him some more. I am enabling fabric shopping remotely, it appears :).

He’s home now and had bought so much fabric that he had to send it home in a colleagues suitcase so I haven’t seen it yet – wailing and gnashing of teeth here!

A few people have asked me how I can make so many things whilst working full time and I have to explain that Mark cooks all the meals and probably does most of the house cleaning. When he went to Sri Lanka he left me meals in the fridge and when he got home the first question he asked was what I wanted to eat. I suggested an omelette would be nice and this is what I got.


I have to report that a souffle omelette tricked up to look like pizza, tastes divine!

The details:

Trousers pattern is Kwik Sew 3663 made up in a cotton linen blend and I have no idea where I bought it! Shirt was originally made for Archie using Vogue 8800 from fabric that I had had for years, with facings made from remnants of his Christening robe.  Setting is Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Memory dress


A very dear friend passed away recently and I wanted to make a dress for her funeral as a way of honouring her, but also to give me an opportunity to spend some time in quiet contemplation of our friendship.

I had a look in my stash and found a wonderful merino knit that I bought in Dunedin many moons ago. I decided that I would make Vogue 1338V1338

I laid the pattern on the fabric but no matter what I did I couldn’t fit it all in. The top pattern pieces are enormous as the front and back are each cut in one piece. I gave up, but had a midnight lightbulb moment that I could have cut the sleeves out separately and joined them. However, it was too late, I was working to a timeline, so had already moved on to Butterick 5559.

B5559 (1)


I’ve made this before and it worked well, so I felt fairly safe.


This dress does present some challenges – lining up all those tucks being one of them. Looking at these photos, I think I should cut the armscye deeper next time I make this dress.


The fabric is interesting to say the least. It has the consistency of foam rubber which makes getting sharp creases impossible.


The photos are a bit grainy – sorry. I was posing in front of the only blank wall in the house, except it’s no longer blank, Archie has put a chin up bar on it; not that I will ever be doing a chin up as I can’t even reach it!


Although the dress was made for a sad occasion, I did focus on our friend the whole time I was making it, and know that I will forever associate it with a warm, witty, vibrant and generous person who greatly enriched our lives.

Details: Pattern is Butterick 5559 made from a smoky blue merino knit bought at Global Fabrics, Dunedin, NZ. Shoes are Arche, and the rather fabulous Keishi pearl necklace is courtesy of Heaven Wrapped, Claremont.

In loving memory of our dear friend Pauline who died on a Kimberley cruise on 18 July, 2014. She will be forever missed.



A skirt for all seasons


Having had a bit of a play with self-drafting of late, I thought I would explain that I am doing it as a result of finding this drafting system in my mother’s stash and deciding that it looked too good to waste. I found the receipt and it appears that she bought all the kits (including men’s, children’s and shirts), but I only found these two. I can’t watch the video as we no longer have a player, but I might see if I can get it converted to a DVD.


Anyway, I was keen to give it a go. I drafted the bodice of the Chrysanthemum dress using the dress kit. It’s pretty simple really. In the box is a neat armscye template which really helped. I haven’t tackled pants or an actual dress, or sleeves, but I did draft this skirt, which, to be honest, I think I could have done without this system.



Yes, it’s basically a square, slightly shaped over the hips, with a waistband. I stole the idea for the skirt from a local shop where they were selling identical skirts, on sale, for $99. I figured I could do this and used a remnant of stretch denim that I had originally bought to make a pair of Vogue 8859 pants only to find that the label was wrong and I didn’t have enough fabric. I felt totally ripped off, but got over myself and took the opportunity to try out this skirt. I was amazed that everything lined up – it was so difficult – two identical squares and two identical waistband strips, but still, I was amazed as I am not the most precise person in the world. I knotted my shirt for this photo – very 1970s style, but it does give me a very bulky waist.


The skirt is designed with a two part waistband, sewn together on the long edge and then a strip of elastic (I recycled some out of my stash, which is why you can see stitches at the top) sewn on the top inside edge and then it’s folded down so that the elastic is enclosed so that it looks very neat.


I did wonder if it was going to be a bit nursing home-like, but it is really comfortable and the waistband sits flat.


This was the first of these skirts I made and I was using it to test the pattern. I have already blogged the second skirt, which I have worn quite a bit since I made it (this skirt is slightly narrower at the hem as I didn’t have quite enough material). My only change to the pattern will be to add pockets. I can’t think why I didn’t do this, it might have been to do with the fact that I was focusing hard on the skirt. Anyway, I think a couple of jeans style back pockets might be a useful addition and I might retrospectively add them to this skirt. This will give me a chance to refine the placement and mark it on the pattern.


This is going to be a really handy skirt. I can wear it in the winter with tights and boots, and through spring and autumn with lighter clothing, and maybe even in summer. I have now got lots of tops that will team really well with it, but I am still missing winter style blue shoes. Perhaps this is something I can remedy quite soon…

I started taking the photos in our new home gym (read recycled bedroom) but Archie was busy putting up a chin up bar and inadvertently photobombed me – forcing me into the garden and dubious lighting.

DSC00008The details: pattern is a self-drafted skirt made from stretch denim from Knitwit. Shirt is one I made as part of the vintage challenge and shoes are Arche in black suede from Secret Closet, Shenton Park.

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