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.


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



Welcome to the family, little Lotus

Let me begin by putting this on the record: I am not a sewing machine collector, nor do I want to be a sewing machine collector. I’ve seen how easily it can happen: you start with a gateway sewing machine like the one I’m about to show you, and before you know it you have a regular habit, you spend all your free time trying to find your next hit, and you have no money. You do have awesome clothes, though.

lotus blog

I found this beautiful little darling on Trademe, which is like Ebay for New Zealanders, but better because the population is so small there’s less competition. Closed, she measures 30 x 24 x 12cm. For those who use imperial units, that’s equivalent to tiny.

lotus open blog

Isn’t she the loveliest thing you’ve ever seen? She weighs just 6kg. That’s less than half the weight of my trusty Bernina, and it means that Bernina never has to travel again.

She’s a marvel of design, with her accessories case tucked under her lid.

accessories lotus

In fact she’s so famous for her design that her cousin’s in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (truly!). This model is the SP, which does a straight stitch, zig-zag and a buttonhole.

controls lotus

foot lotus

My little Lotus doesn’t know it yet, but she’s about to become a well-travelled young lady, as there are several sewing events coming up. I’d hate to damage her, so I decided she needed a nice case to take travelling.

I had just the thing in the stash, a length of heavy Ikea cotton from when I decided to make shoes a few years ago (I never did make shoes). I couldn’t find the right pattern online, so I made it up, and it was actually pretty easy. I’ll put directions below, in case anyone’s interested, but here’s the final product.

front lotus

end lotus

It has a pocket for the cables and pedal:

pocket lotus

And D-rings at each end for a shoulder strap (I used a strap from an old handbag):

d-ring lotus

And a pocket inside for its little manuals:

lining lotus

I’m so pleased with it! I can’t wait to take little Lotus on an outing.

Here’s how I made it, in case you want to make your own version. The measurements below fit a machine measuring 30cm wide, 24cm high and 12cm deep. They can easily be adapted.

I cut out:

  • Two pieces for front and back, adding 2cm ease plus 1cm seam allowance to each (so, 34 x 28cm each) – cut two in lining also.
  • One long piece to wrap around the bottom and about halfway up each side, plus ease and seam allowance (16 x 60cm) – cut one in lining also.
  • Two narrow pieces to go on each side of the top zipper. These extend across the top and halfway down each side, plus ease and seam allowance (9 x 60cm each) – cut two in lining also.
  • One outer pocket piece, the width of the front piece and about two thirds the height (34 x 17cm)
  • Two straps (9 x 46cm, then folded into three lengthways and topstitched)
  • Two pairs of little triangles, for the triangular flaps at each end of the zipper. Mine were about 6cm along the longest side
  • Optional interior pocket in lining fabric, mine was about 20cm square


  • Top zip, 58cm. You’ll want a top zip that extends a good way down each side, otherwise you won’t be able to get the machine in and out. Use a plastic zip, because a metal one will scratch.
  • Front pocket zip, 32cm
  • Old blanket for batting (optional)
  • Two D-rings (optional)
side and bottom construction

The back piece, and the long bottom piece

Cut out all the pieces. If you’re using batting, cut batting pieces that are 1cm smaller than each of the outer pieces, and quilt them on, before assembling.

quilting lotus

Attach the pocket (with front zip) to the front piece. Sew the top zip between the two top pieces. Attach the little triangles at each end of the top zip.

front and top construction

the top pieces (with zip inserted) and front piece (with pocket applied)

You can probably work out the rest: sew the shell together in the way that feels right to you. I sewed the ends of the long top and bottom pieces together, forming a giant loop, and then sewed the front and back pieces in place. Don’t forget to insert the D-rings below the little triangles, if you’re using them. I used a doubled-up piece of green ribbon to attach the D-rings but you could use a piece of heavy fabric, or whatever you have to hand. Once the outer shell is all together, sew on the handles.

Then sew the lining the same way as the shell, but leave out the zip: instead, fold and press 1cm along the long side of each top piece (you’ll handstitch it to the inside of the zip at the end). Sew the interior pocket to the right side of the lining, if you want one. Put the lining inside the shell, wrong sides together, and handstitch the lining to the inside of the zip. Enjoy!

Bag lady

One of my bucket-list items was selling something handmade at a Christmas market. Check! Now I’ve done it.


I made these little fruit-and-veggie bags out of some mesh curtains from Spotlight, and some cotton cord. There were three sizes, and each pack had one biggie, two middle-sized ones, and one littlie.







I’m pleased to report that all 20 sets sold out by midday. It’s kind of boring sewing, but all the same I love that they’re out in the world preventing plastic bag usage. I haven’t spotted any at the farmers’ markets yet, but I’m keeping a look out…


We’re lucky in Wellington to have several weekend farmers’ markets, with great seasonal produce at a bargain price. Lately I’ve been eating so much corn that I’m expecting to turn into a giant corn cob at any moment. Or possibly a giant cherry, it could go either way.

Anyway my next bucket list item is staying in an over-water bungalow on a tropical island. Bring it on!

Vintage sheet quilt

“Oh Pinterest,” I cried at 11pm the week before Christmas, “Pinterest, you are a tease and a heartbreaker. Year after year I am lured in by a pixellated promise of a stylish frock, a delicious meal or a piece of homeware that will take no more than a single hour to construct! Yet every year I am left toiling into the wee hours. How short our memories and fickle our desires.”

I give you, a quilt.

sheet quilt 1

The inspiration for this was this gorgeous thing, as seen on Pinterest. All year I’ve been collecting old cotton sheets from op-shops (and honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop, I love them so).

sheet quilt 3

The batting is an old woollen blanket, also from an op shop. And the backing is a stripy sheet which must be like one my grandmother had, because it sure seems familiar.

sheet quilt 5

sheet quilt 6

The only new materials are the mouse-coloured squares used for contrast, and the thread used to quilt it. (Maryanne told me it was important to use cotton thread, so I did).

I pieced the binding from leftover bits of sheets, and used this method to machine bind it (because it’s a lot quicker than nearly nine metres of hand stitching, it looks perfectly good, and honestly, it was nearly midnight). If you are using this method, I do think it’s worth using an edge-stitch foot to get the line of stitching perfectly even.

sheet quilt 7


sheet quilt 2

The Great WSBN sewing room tour – and we’re off!

Well here we go! It’s spring in New Zealand and the WSBN is going to show you where it all happens… with a little peek at our pretty city, too.

I’m the first stop on this blog tour, then tomorrow you’re off to visit Laura at Laulipop NZ.

My sewing space

Technically, my “sewing room” is a little bedroom on the southern side of the house, which is always dark. So I usually relocate to the dining room table. Much nicer.


Here’s the back bedroom, where the stash still lives (I’m sure it grows better in cool dark conditions)…

other room
And these are my workhorses.

My sewing machine is a Bernina 1008, and my overlocker is a Bernette Funlock. The sewing machine was a 21st birthday present, when I lived in a hall of residence at university. I have fond memories of whipping up dresses for fancy-dress parties (including an emerald green flapper dress with black fringing, and a white one for a friend… someone throw another 20s party, please). The overlocker was a later arrival, but I was overwhelmed by the threading instructions, and it sat unused for a good five years before I finally did a course last year. Now I couldn’t live without it.

What I’m working on

My good friend New Look 6097 appears again. I’m making another dress for a gift, with leftovers into a t-shirt (sound familiar)?


WIP t-shirt
All that’s left is to hem them, and I’m using Wonder Tape. This stuff is magic for hemming knits, it means many fewer pins and no rippling. I only discovered it this year and can’t live without it.

wonder tape

Next project in line

Ahem. My queue is literally in a queue, lined up on chairs by the wall.

From top to bottom:

I’ve borrowed McCalls 5974 from Johanna and I’m going to make a dress out of this raspberry knit, lined with some pinkish stuff from the Fabric Warehouse sale. Spring’s virtually here but I’ve got one more winter dress in me.

McCalls 5974

queue 1 fabrics

Then I’m going to make some baby sunbonnets, using a pattern from the Purl Bee. Cute overload. The plan is for them to use up all my scrappy bits but in reality they’ll use up about four fat quarters’ worth.

purl bee sunbonnetqueue 2 hats



Then I’ll be sittin’ knittin’ for a bit, to finish some socks. Every three or four years I get a burst of enthusiasm about knitting and make a couple of things, then swear that I hate knitting and will never do it again. It takes about three or four years to forget everything I’ve learned, and the cycle repeats. This time I decided to learn to make socks. I’ve been using this basic toe-up sock pattern (link on the left), and have a couple of pairs to show you soon.

easy peasy socks for first timersqueue 3 socks

Show off your stash

Go and boil the kettle, this could take a while. First I’ll show you around my official sewing room.
hanging space
Here on the left is hanging space with some overload from the bedroom, as well as some things that need mending and also my pdf pattern collection.

I’m still not 100% happy with this system (hung from bulldog clips on a coathanger), but it’s better than the previous one (jammed into the cupboard).


Next is a big wardrobe full of my stash. I gave it a big tidy-up a couple of months ago and it’s still in pretty good shape. From top to bottom:

  • Top shelf: Patterns, thread.
  • Second shelf: Ice cream tub full of some coasters I started making in 2008 and haven’t finished yet. Old pile of Ladies’ Home journal mags. All the accessories (zippers, ribbons, tray with all those little bits and bobs we need).
  • Third shelf: Slinky stuff (silks, laces, also interfacing is here). Big pile of pieces big enough to make a top or skirt: 22 at last count. Pile of UFOs (3 at last count).
  • Fourth shelf (the big one): lengths big enough to make a dress from: 19 at last count. I’m sure there are more than 19 now.
  • Bottom shelf: box of bits maybe big enough for baby clothes, or craft projects. Pile of clothes I may or may not refashion one day. Pile of fabric to use for muslins.

sewing cabinet
Then there’s a box of old photos I mean to digitalise one day, then some rolls of calico and tracing paper (as well as my bolt-end of blue merino). And the sewing machine cabinet where I really should be sewing.

ironing board and buttons

Lastly, here’s the ironing board desperate for a re-cover, a seldom-used yoga mat and the Buttons of Shame. These fell off a winter coat quite a number of years ago and I still haven’t put them on. Though last year I pulled out some matching thread and a needle, so some time in the next decade it may yet happen. 

OK, now I’ll show you my favourites from the stash. All of these are short-listed for summer sewing this year.

1. Burdastyle Kristen Plus, and some blue stripy fabric I picked up last week from TFW sale:
burdastyle kristen plus

blue TFW


2. Burdastyle Alberta Ferretti dress, and some blue silk that my aunt sent me from Hong Kong. This dress has Christmas party written all over it, don’t you think?

burdastyle alberta ferrettiblue silk



3. Shirt dresses. Goldfish cotton from Ikea, and navy broderie anglaise. Maybe a Colette Hawthorn?


broderie anglaise

4. New Look 6557 maxi dress, using this floral cotton.

u.1 new look 6557floral maxi




5. And my favourite. This silk is from Fabric-a-brac late last year, and I’m planning to make a Victory Patterns Nicola dress with it.  Then I will just look at it every day.

q.1 victory patterns nicolagreen silk



Favourite thing I’ve made

This would be a toss-up between two dresses. One is a royal-blue version of New Look 6000, which I made about three years ago.

y new look 6000

The other is a green corduroy version of the Burdastyle Heidi dress. I wore this one until it fell apart, but plans are afoot to make another one, and I have the emerald-green yardage to prove it.

p.1 burdastyle heidi

green corduroy


Snapshot of Wellington

I’ll leave you with some photos of Island Bay in Wellington. I walk here most mornings.

island bay

It’s different every day.

island bay

There are lots of fishing boats, and you can see the ferries going to-and-fro between the North and South Islands. In summer during the Island Bay festival, there’s a “blessing of the boats” festival, and the fishing boats go round and round the island.

island bay

I am so lucky to live here.

island bay

Thanks for reading. Over to you, Laura!

Under the wire

Happy new year, all. I really hope 2014 is a good one and brings growth and happiness.

On a personal level, 2013 has been quite an adventurous one for me, with an international move. But then, I am kind of a floozy with removal companies. I sleep around. This is the ninth city I’ve lived in, so far, and the third country. No wonder I don’t form a sentimental attachment to heavy items. But Wellington, you sure do make a good first impression. Maybe you’re the one.

Thanks to those tireless WSBN ladies, I’ve been sewing my little fingers off,  trying to keep up. The biggest project has been a mini maternity wardrobe for my sister, who’s expecting in early May. I made her three tops and the comfiest pair of lounge pants I have ever tried on and been tempted to keep for myself. Stretchy wide waistbands for all! But photos will have to wait til she gets around to taking some.

I also sewed a couple of things for a fundraiser day at the races in November. My horse is still running but it was an otherwise perfect day. They held a giant raffle and I donated a Christmas table runner and napkin set, and a baby quilt. The back of the quilt was a mixture of blue spots and hungry caterpillar. It kind of defeated the purpose of using up my scraps, as I had to buy a whole lot of extra linen and calico, but at least it’s for a good cause. And after eight napkins and two quilts, I’m ace at mitred corners.

RA fundraiser

A work trip to Palmerston North meant a quick detour to the Arthur Toye closing down sale, and two lovely cotton sateens and a cotton/linen stripe. None made it into the stash! They are all summer dresses. I only have photos of the striped dress so far, modelled on my Christmas break.

linen dress 1

This is Simplicity 2591, which is possibly the pattern most let down by its cover art, of all time. (Actually, wouldn’t that be a sensational competition? Please enter below! Winner gets a great dress and a big laugh). Here it is, in all its shiny mustardy glory:


It is great for lots of reasons. Three neckline variations, including raglan cap sleeves, which I love. Princess bodice = a good fit. Gathers in front and back, to make room for the Christmas pudding. POCKETS (great big ones).

linen dress 2

It’s a fantastic pattern for stripes, as the side panels are on the bias.

linen dress 3

A couple of years ago I made the sleeveless V-neck version. Totally different dress. I love that.

Three hours of 2013 to go! Have fun, everyone!