Sunday, 25 January 2015

{Operation Handmade Wardrobe} A Vintage Tea Dress

my summer dress 3Summer dressMy Summer dressSummer dress

I’m pretty sure this is my first make for the year… yup, in fact it is. With plans to sew a few more things for my wardrobe this year (including, but not limited to this list), I thought that it was fitting that I start with something for me.

I originally planned to use this this gorgeous Joel Dewberry Bungalow Rayon Challis fabric for a different dress. But I really love the vintage style and instead decided to make New Look 6262, (my first paper/ non-PDF pattern in quite a while); which I purchased from Pattern Postie. I liked that it was a simple pattern with many different sleeve and neckline variations, and I also liked the versions others had made that I discovered when I did a Google image search of the pattern.

After mulling over a few pre-sewing concerns I had about fit/ cutting the right size, I chose to make the size 12 Misses based on my measurements and I’m pretty happy with how the fit turned out. The front is perfect, I’m so happy with my darts and invisible zipper installation and hot pink binding around the arm holes; but I do have a slight gape at the top of the back neckline, which only became obvious after I’d completed the dress. (It turns out that I should have done a narrow shoulders adjustment.) Ah well, live and learn – and I’m going to try and put some small darts in the back to rectify this (I’m not taking that zip out for anyone!)

I can’t wait to make more of these dresses. Next time I might shorten the torso a touch to make the waist a little higher, and of course I’ll do a narrow back adjustment.

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6262

Have you been doing any sewing so far this year? What are your sewing plans? I’d love to know!

Jen x

Thursday, 8 January 2015

2014: A Year of Sewing in Review

2014 sewing

Happy New Year to you all!

I have just been reflecting back on all the sewing I’ve done during 2014. A quick browse through my blog archives over the last year made me almost put me off writing this post – there was just so much sewing! Argghhh the hyperlinks! (Lame blogger joke.)

If 2013 was the year of baby sewing, then 2014 was one of much pattern testing and blog tours for me. (See collage above!)

My first leap into the world of pattern testing was in April, when I made the Lua Sleep Sack, a pattern designed by An of Straight Grain, (this and other Straight Grain patterns can be found here.)

July was a bumper sewing month for me, during which I began pattern testing for my friend and fellow Kiwi, Lydia of Little Kiwis Closet – first with the Street Smart Sweatshirt Collection, then the Hip Hop Harems, and more recently I tested the updated peekaboo pocket vest pattern, making this Bambi inspired version … oh and I also joined in with a few of Lydia’s blog tours; for the Scalloped Princess Dress, Woollen Vest and Playsuit, to be exact. … Plus during that month I wrapped up the Handmade Kid's Clothing Swap which I had hosted (maybe another this year, if there is enough interest?) … aaannd I went pretty hard out at the July Kid's Clothes Week (see below!!)

KCW-wrap-up July

Having become hooked to pattern testing (gosh it makes you get stuff done) I also started testing for another Kiwi designer, Lisa from Big Little Handmade – and so far have tested her Pixie Shorts, Anna Cape and Fleur - 'a handmade doll' patterns. (These and other Big Little Patterns are available here.)

Sewing Fleur was enjoyable for many reasons, but especially because it was something a bit different and taught me new skills. Near the beginning of last year I expressed a desire to make more handmade, meaningful gifts. While I managed a couple, including Fleur and the things below; I’d really love to up my game in this area, this year.

Handmade Gifts

It is quite satisfying being able to (provided you have the time and stash), make a gift, decorate your house (eg: new cushions, recovered furniture, wall hangings, bedding, bunting), and put clothes on yours and your children’s backs.

map wall artcushions

Speaking of clothing one’s self, apart from a pair of jeans, I didn’t buy any new clothing for myself or the kids all year. That is until I was doing some Christmas shopping at Kmart and I shouted myself a cute $12 T-shirt dress, which promptly shrunk to more of a T-shirt on it’s first (cold) wash!

Moral of the story? Generally speaking, if I want nice, good quality clothes that fit me well I either need to pay top dollar, OR make them myself … and I don’t know about you, but (I hope) 2015 is going to be a year of more sewing for meee!

In my head I thought I did a lot more ‘selfish sewing’ in 2014, but in reality, not quite so much. Still, two pairs of shorts some leggings, a dress, a kimono top and a sweatshirt (not pictured), is nothing to sneeze at! And this Summer I’ve basically been living in my handmade clothes (especially those shorts!)

liberty-shorts9

leggingsColette MonetaFloral Kimono[4]

What were your sewing highlights of 2014 and do you have any grand sewing plans for 2015?

Thanks for following along with me on my sewing journey, your encouraging comments and inspiration. I wish you a happy and safe 2015 with perfect machine tension, beautiful fabrics and perfect piles of handmade clothes.

Jen x

a pile of tees

Monday, 22 December 2014

December (… so far)

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It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas around here and it seems as if some Christmas traditions are beginning to develop. Each year we do things like go strawberry picking and and make gingerbread together (both real and for decorative purposes only – the decorative ones being made of felt). We also watched Isabelle’s Preschool Nativity play (with a realisation for me that she wont be in it next year – she turns 5 next November!!) We also had fish and chips at the park and the kid’s had a photo with Santa on Saturday. Santa seems to get around, because the very next day, they saw the man in the red suit again at “Super” Nana’s (Andrew’s Nana’s) Christmas party at her retirement village. It was such a sweet party – all the (mostly great) Grandparents had bought all the children gifts and Santa handed them out to them all. I have never seen Noah move so fast when he heard his name called. They also had a ‘Mr Whippy’ type ice cream truck come and give everyone ice creams!

Of course, December was also the month of Mr Noah’s 6th birthday and we enjoyed a visit from my Mum and step Dad. There was no big party this year – we simply had too much on, but perhaps next year we will!

The second realisation I had while watching Isabelle’s Nativity play was to wonder what it was like to be Mary, mother of Jesus. I have been thinking about my birth stories recently (the first two are here and Pipi’s is here) and through the lens of motherhood I have new thoughts about the Christmas Story … I mean, how stressful would that have been … on the verge of giving birth but having to travel to another town not knowing where you were going to give birth … only to end up in a manger! (Talk about throwing the birth plan out the window!) (And of course, that doesn’t even get into the unexpected pregnancy or the fact that she was carrying the Saviour of the world!) Mary must have really had to trust in God!

I’m finding that as my children get older I need to rely on Him more and more. It’s not something usually evident in my blog posts (or these happy photos) as I like to use this blog to focus on the positive of this sometimes arduous parenting journey – but parenting is a tough gig and not something I can do on my own. Case in point was an interesting outing this morning. I was at a busy supermarket with the kids. The older two were fighting and Pipi sitting in the trolley, pulled my top towards her as if going in for a hug. Instead I got a mouthful of luncheon sausage (thanks lady at the deli!) spat right down my top, and quite a few sideways glances from other shoppers! De-lightful! … And then I had to go to the post shop! Yay! (I just kept saying in my head… ‘It’s a teaching moment, it’s a teaching moment!’)

My prayer for 2015 is that I will be able to live out Proverbs 3:5 more closely:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
  in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight”

Merry Christmas everyone and wishing you a happy and blessed 2015!

Jen x

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fleur : a handmade doll

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Recently I have enjoyed a little foray into doll making. The reason for this little dabble was Lisa from Big Little's call for pattern testers. If it had been anything else I probably would have resisted the call. These last couple of months have just been too busy. But, I saw Lisa’s photos and I was captivated – Fleur was beautiful!

When I got the email saying I’d been accepted as a tester I was excited yet a tad nervous; particularly about get the embroidered face (and especially the eyes) right!

But having pattern tested for Lisa before, I knew I was in good hands. And I was right – in this pattern Lisa guides you through a step by step process to achieve the end result. She includes lots of helpful tips and tricks and useful photos to help you along the way.

If you are thinking of giving this pattern a go, but are a little concerned about whether you have the adequate skills required, I think this description from Lisa (in her initial tester call) is helpful and accurate:


“She is suitable for someone who has used a sewing machine before and is willing to pay careful attention to details such as lining things up perfectly and taking the time to enjoy making her.  Embroidery experience is not required as everything is covered in the tutorial.  She is not a whip-it-up-in-an-evening project, although there are lots of elements which can be done in a spare fifteen minutes here and there so she does come together nicely.”

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Or, as I would say – give it a go! You wont just make a doll you’ll make an heirloom and you’ll learn some awesome new skills along the way. I, personally really enjoyed stretching myself a bit and am really happy with my end result. As you can see so is Isabelle! (It looks like I’m going to have to make another doll, because this one is heading to a dear wee girl turning one soon).


Thanks Lisa for letting me test this beautiful pattern… and make sure you pick up your own copy here. This PDF pattern has just been released and to celebrate that Lisa is offering at with a special discount of  15% off until Saturday 20 Dec with code FLEUR15.  Go on, add doll maker to your list of skills :) ... Or perhaps buy the pattern for a crafty friend for Christmas?

I’m joining in with the Big Little Blog hop – make sure you check out everyone else’s interpretation of this awesome pattern. Here's the line up:

Wed   Jenny @ Mend and Make New (Hey, that's me!)
          Kara @ Kara McMurray
Thu   Aimee @ Small Steps Big Noises
Fri     Leanne @ Paper Moon
          Sarah @ Squiggling About
Sat     Christine @ Beanniequilts
Sat    Imogen @ Imogen Eve

Also, Aimee has made a second doll and is donating it to a deserving child for Christmas! (How awesome is that?!) If you know of deserving child then you can nominate them here.

Also Joining in with Show & Tell and Sew & Show

Jen x

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Friday Faves (Pineapples)

So… a while back (cough, cough…pretty much at the beginning of this year) I started a ‘thing’ here on this little ‘ol blog… that I like to call ‘Friday Faves’ … but you can’t really call it ‘a thing’ if you do it once but never do it again, right?

Here’s what I said the last time (and the only time) I did a ‘Friday Faves’ feature …

“I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog. It’s not an original idea, but I keep seeing things on the internet that I want to share with you. So instead of spamming your facebook feed all the time .. with ‘look at this’ , ‘check this out’; I’ve decided to make a new ‘Friday Faves’ feature. I can’t promise that it will happen every Friday, but I can promise that it will be on (some) Fridays and it will be fabulous.”

Well I guess that’s not totally incorrect because since this is the second instalment, that qualifies as some Fridays, right?

I also mentioned in that post, that I’d like ‘Friday Faves’ to have an emphasis on accessible and affordable items as well as handmade and kiwi businesses. (Because there’s nothing worse than finding just what you want on Pinterest only to discover that it costs an arm and a leg… and it doesn’t ship to little old NZ.) I think I’ve achieved a bit of that, this time …

But first, the pretty pictures…

pineapple collage

ONE: Ceramic Pineapple Jar from Kmart (Spotlight also sell a similar product too)

TWO: FREE Pineapple Print download by Maiko Nagao!

THREE: Pineapple dress by Minti

FOUR: DIY FREE printable pineapple wrapping paper from Whimsey Box

FIVE: Pineapple Heads - Natural hairstyling and skin care products for kids

SIX:  It wouldn’t be a true (Kiwi) pineapple round-up without featuring ‘Pineapple Lumps’ – found at a local dairy or supermarket near you… and (in my opinion) best served straight from the freezer!

The list includes 2 freebies, awesome aye? And why pineapple’s did you ask? Well, obviously you missed this post!

Have you spotted any pineapples recently? Or watermelons – they seem to be a bit of in thing too!

Jen x

Sunday, 7 December 2014

November …

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From looking at these photos, you’d be forgiven for thinking that November was ‘the month of Isabelle!’ – well since her birthday fell in the middle of that month, and she’s inherited her Mother’s tendency to enjoy her own birthday for as long as possibly … November pretty much was the month of Isabelle. It also was the month of visiting family, visits to the hot pools, lots of icecreams and moustaches and a Baby Shower (see Isabelle’s toast moustache above!) Oh, and a market and our wedding (11th) anniversary!

We enjoyed a lovely visit from my Mum when it was Isabelle’s birthday and the following week we enjoyed a lovely few days with the 2 clowns below – Poppa and Granny Lynn … who felt the need to cool off from the hot Hawkes Bay sun with a water fight! (Yes, that’s what they’re doing below!)

f1b3p

So far, December is feeling like the month of end of year breakups and Noah’s birthday and Christmas of course! I’m hoping January will be a nice relaxing time!

I hope you are enjoying a lovely December too!

Jenny x