Kiddie catch-up

Kids’ clothes are so small and quick, I don’t realise I’ve made so many until it’s time for a round-up post like this. This isn’t a post about awesome patterns or sewing skills, because most of these patterns are repeats on a theme, and the garments themselves are a serious case of done being better than perfect. But it IS a post about how great life is when you’re a kid!

These two. They’re the best. Where do I start?

butterick 6678 1 edited.jpg

I’m going to start with (a rather blurry) Butterick 6678, because I’ve made this dress seven times over the last 18 months. It’s a lovely simple dress to show off a nice fabric – this one’s part of my loot from Japan.

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Note the fearless pattern matching and backwards gumboots. Look out, world.

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This next one was a third birthday present, made out of an old silk skirt and a bit of trim from the deep stash.


3rd birthday 2

Next, swimwear. My work colleague asked me to make a leotard for her little boy, and said I could keep the leftover fabric (and the pattern, Jalie 2912). Best. Fabric. Ever. I made the girls some swimmers.

swimmers 1

It was my first try making swimmers, and I made the arms too loose and the legs a bit tight. I think the take-home message is to just sew the unstretched elastic to the unstretched fabric, rather than cutting the elastic to size and then trying to fit it to the openings.

But, perfectly wearable.

swimmers both

swimmers abbie

swimmers ella

While we’re doing bright, I’ll show you some rainbow leggings, which may well have been the clothing hit of 2017. Fabric from Spotlight. Pattern from Love Notions. I had to hold myself back from going back to buy more fabric, because seriously, if I had a pair of these I’d never take them off.

stripy 1

stripy 2

Tell me you don’t want some too.

stripy 3

Gosh this next photo makes me laugh.

stripy 4

Not one, but two long-suffering dogs.

stripy 5

I’m going to sneak in a sewing fail here. I used the rest of this green merino to make a matching t-shirt and skirt, but the skirt was way too big. I’ve since found these handy reference charts for elastic waist measurements and skirt lengths. Both very useful for long-distance aunties.



Similarly, these giraffe pants were too small in the waist, though they can easily be fixed. Isn’t this terrific fabric!? Thank you, Made Marion. The pattern is Oliver & S sunny day shorts, with in-seam pockets added and extended into trousers.



Still good to ride a bike in.


Or, y’know, for sitting in a bucket.


Some stash-busting PJ pants, from the same pattern…


And, an assortment of t-shirts. Fabric from Fabric-a-brac and pattern from Peek-a-boo patterns. (Modelled with backwards gumboots, once again).

Now some winter wear. I saw a dinosaur hoodie somewhere, and had to copy it. These are adapted from this pattern. The spines are stuffed with a little bit of craft wadding.

Last but not least, winter coats. During a Fabric Hoarders sewing retreat the lovely Margaret was giving away the makings for two lined wool coats, that she’d started. The intended recipients had grown too big before she could finish them. I swooped in and finished them off for these two ragamuffins, and they couldn’t be more perfect. They’re a Burda pattern. Sensibly they have a zip front (and wind guard) as well as the toggles.



And that’s it! Well, nearly. Two more cute photos. The girls have already started “sewing”, enabled encouraged by their doting auntie.

kids sewing 1 edited

kids sewing 2 edited


The emperor has too many clothes, and Burda 08/2011

Do all sewers have enough clothes, or is it just me? I’m not a speedy seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, but my cupboard is pretty much full. Handmade clothes just don’t wear out! I suppose I’m also less likely to get rid of them, for two reasons. Firstly, I like everything about them, unlike a bought item where I might like the style but not so much the fabric, or vice versa. And secondly, the time investment makes them more valuable than something ready-made. The internet tells me this is the sunk cost fallacy – but the insight doesn’t really help, I still want to hang on to it all.

One solution is to sew for others. There is clearly an increasing amount of this on this blog. I really like doing it. It’s hard to be sure what the recipients really think, but I think it’s appreciated, on the whole. When I was small my grandmother used to knit a lot of jumpers. Often the neck hole was too small, and my mother didn’t want to disappoint her by telling her. Most of the people I sew for are considerably less polite, and I trust that they’ll give me honest feedback!

Anyway, this is a blouse I made for my sister. It’s this one from Burda 08/2011. I used to have a hemp blouse in a similar style, which I wore to pieces, and so I was thrilled to come across this Burda pattern.

Burda blouse 08/2011

The fabric is a fairly heavy crepe, possibly rayon I think. It’s a gorgeous fabric and a stunning colour that always makes me think of my sister, for some reason. It definitely suits her. Another benefit of sewing for others: making things in colours you love but don’t love to wear.

Burda 08/2011

The only modification was to omit the side slits, and shape the hem up at the sides. I do this a lot and don’t know why so many patterns are cut straight across – I think a shaped hem looks a lot nicer.

burda shirt 4 edited

Anyway the main lesson from this pattern was to check the finished measurements – this could easily have gone down one size, maybe two. It’s not just too loose, but too big all over – the back opening looks too long, the sleeves are bracelet length rather than three-quarter, the hem’s probably too long… But it’s definitely wearable, and I suppose it’s better than being too small.

It’s one to make again… maybe even for myself. I would like another blue hemp top like this.


17351.JPGTwo babies, two kangaroos.



These were baby shower gifts; I thought even Kiwi babies could do with a toy kangaroo.



This was the pattern. If you make it, be careful because the two pages aren’t to scale (the printing directions are on the pattern, but did I pay attention, oh no, why would I do a silly thing like that when they had to be finished the same day?).

Also be careful stuffing it, you really have to get the stuffing right down into the arms and tail.



I thought they were adorable. I hope the babies like them. I’d like to try making a bigger one sometime. Or a huge one! Maybe I could stuff it with fabric scraps and see how long it takes to fill.


Ginger jeans, kind of, sort of

This is one of those Very Exciting Makes. You know the ones you’re extra proud of? Often they took extra time or used special fabric or were for a particular occasion. These are the first jeans I’ve made, and sneakily I decided to make them for my sister so I wasn’t forced to deal with them if they didn’t fit. Spoiler alert, they did!

I did a class with Maryanne at Made on Marion, called something like ‘copying a ready-to-wear garment’. I could probably have found enough online to work out how to do it, but WOULD I have? Probably not. It was great to block out a whole day to get it done.

jeans class 2

jeans class

There were four of us, each copying a completely different garment. I used some worn-out jeans of my sister’s, and it was interesting to see how three-dimensional the pieces had become, as they’d moulded to the shape of her body. I did my best, but probably most importantly, I sewed it up in a mystery denim with a fair bit of stretch.

jeans 4

jeans 5

I used the Ginger jeans pattern for the construction, and it was fascinating to see how much work is in a pair of jeans. It’s pretty worrying that they can be sold at such a low price. I threaded the Lotus with topstitching thread, but she didn’t like all the layers for the bar-tacks, so I ended up doing those on the Bernina. There were two things I wasn’t really happy with: firstly, it’s hard to work out pocket placement without the intended owner around to model them. Secondly, I don’t think I did the rivets right. They were supposed to just click into place (no hammering needed), but maybe mine were too long, or my denim was too thin? There was a lot of empty space and they stick out a bit. Admittedly I’m probably the only one who’ll notice.

jeans 6

It was really fun to see them start to look like proper jeans! And you already know this, but they fit pretty well. I’m keen to try them again in a denim with a bit less stretch, to see how that works.




Merino cowl dress (for the win)

Don’t you love it when you do an experiment and it isn’t a Pinterest Fail? I impulse-bought some green merino from Levana, with an interesting chevron pattern, to make a cowl neck dress. Not having a cowl pattern, and having already done a significant amount of internet shopping that week, I scoured the web for a free pattern, and found this one.

cowl dress

Happily for size 36 people, but sadly for me, it’s only in one size. I thought, ‘oh well, I’ll just add the extra inches at the centre seam’. In my experience, this sort of blind optimism often leads to disaster, but not this time. It meant that the cowl was deeper than planned, and the back neck was a lot wider than it should be. I added a box pleat at the centre back neckline, and it draped beautifully. Actually this pattern was released a couple of weeks later, also with a draped back, and I felt very on-trend.

cowl dress 3

I find that having an unexpected success like this really motivates me to sew more. Or maybe it’s just the time of year, now the days are getting shorter and there’s more inside time. Either way, there’s more to come…




Cross-stitched bookmark

Lots of catching up to do here, but I really do want this to serve as a journal, so here goes… This was a birthday present to serve as a reminder of a Wellington trip (specifically, a direct seagull-bomb by one of the giant birds in Oriental Bay). I bought the kit at Made on Marion, but it’s also sold online. I’m not much of a cross-stitcher so the back looked shocking. I ironed on some heavy interfacing to hide the mess. It was fun but I think it’s a one-off. I’m too impatient for cross-stitch!

bookmark 2




Denim Butterick 5984

What’s this?! A work dress that isn’t New Look 6968? Yes it’s true.

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This is Butterick 5984. The picture on the pattern envelope isn’t my cup of tea, but the line drawing has potential. This is view B, shortened to the view A length (and I’m tall, so if you want an above-knee dress you’ll need to shorten it further).


Some wrinkly, post-brunch photos. Thanks Marta, Kirsten and Kat.

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butterick 5984 3

The dress has a lined bodice but I used a stretch denim fabric that was fairly heavy, so I skipped the lining and flat-felled the seams, to go with the denim aesthetic.

inside out

To finish the neckline I used bias tape, and just machine-stitched across the front to finish. The stitching is nearly all hidden by the collar anyway.

inside neck

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I found the bodice sizing to be way off (too big), but it’s princess-seamed so reasonably easy to adjust. I might have overfitted it a little, looking at those drag lines across the bust.  The sleeves were also a problem; since the photos I’ve ripped them out and redone them, reducing the height of the sleeve cap to get rid of the puffed sleeve effect.

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I also raised the back (by 6cm!) to make it more work-appropriate. If you look at pictures online, this dress has a pretty low back. The front isn’t low-cut at all; I didn’t change it.

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The denim has a subtle pattern, and I’m really interested to see how it’s going to wear and fade over time. I loved reading very purple person’s discussion about ageing of jeans.  Sewing this dress gave me blue hands, so obviously the dye’s already trying to escape!

blue hand

  • Pattern: Butterick 5984
  • Fabric: stretch denim from the Fabric Warehouse
  • Alterations: lots. Raised back by 6cm, adjusted bodice fit, lengthened bodice 1cm. Didn’t line it. Changed back vent to a kick pleat.
  • Next time: make bodice size according to high bust measurement; grade out to waist if needed.
  • More versions: here, PatternReview.