Scribble Flower Named Kielo Dress


Hello hello, how’re we all doing? Another inadvertent break from blogging, but I’m back with a new dress – the Named Kielo wrap dress. I’ve been aware of this pattern for ages, but I didn’t think it would suit me, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But after a few failed projects that I *did* think would suit me and ended up being swiftly donated, I threw caution to the winds and decided to go in a different direction. And you know, I’m so glad I did, because I love this dress!


I hesitated over what size to make – my measurements put me at a size 44 in the bust, but my fabric was quite stretchy and I wanted a flattering fit, so I went with a 42 in the end. Speaking of the fabric, I really struggle finding nice knits in NZ, but I liked this scribbly flower one I found on Trademe because it’s not your typical floral. It’s polyester, but it does drape nicely and that was my main concern. Unfortunately it’s also a little sheer, so I have to wear tights and a camisole underneath (or a slip, if I owned one) for modesty.


I didn’t want a maxi dress, so I cut a whole heap off the length. I don’t even know how much, even if I’d wanted a maxi dress I would have had to cut heaps off as it’s drafted for tall people and I’m 155cm. I also cut length off the sleeves, as I wanted them elbow length rather than full length. I sewed the entire thing on my overlocker, because I got a new one that I can actually use! I was using some janky old Babylock previously that was a bitch to thread and frequently snapped threads and other business, so I sold it and bought a Brother 1034D second hand (which came with an instructional VHS!) that I love. I paused when it came to finishing the neckline and the hems though, as it’s quite a drapy knit and not very stable. I didn’t want it to stretch out, and I was out of that fusible knit tape everyone thinks is so great. I came across a blog post somewhere about making your own out of fusible interfacing cut on the bias, so I overlocked all the raw edges and applied the interfacing to the hem, turned it under and tried sewing it with a twin needle, but just as I was thinking it was going well, my machine had a fit and refused to deal with it any longer. I tried rethreading it several times, but nothing worked, so I unpicked it all and peeled off the interfacing and just left it as an overlocked hem – the same with the sleeves. I kind of like it, honestly, so I’m leaving it that way.

I just made a binding for the neck from self-fabric, and made it 3/4 of the length of the neckline and attached it with my overlocker, gently stretching it the whole way. I’m very happy with that finish!


I think my style is changing a bit. Before this I tried making another Colette Moneta out of a purple jersey from The Fabric Store, but I forgot how wide the neckline is on that dress and hated it the minute I put it on, and it was way too purple. Before that I made a Sewaholic Granville shirt from a grey linen with contrast orange birds, and I hated that too because it looked stupid and didn’t flatter my figure at all. It can be hard to find motivation to keep sewing when everything turns out badly and you start to wonder if you can even sew properly or make trustworthy decisions about your wardrobe, so thank goodness for this dress – a much needed win.


It’s perfect for hugging the neighbour’s cat, too!

clothing, sewing

Cherry Pie wool skirt

Hey ho, it’s been a wee while, hasn’t it? Never mind though, I’m back with a finished skirt that’s only been a work in progress for 4 years!


When I was living in Berkeley, back in the days when I still used Pinterest, a stylish friend of mine pinned a skirt by a French clothing designer that I fell head over heels for. It was a circle skirt, made of woollen fabric, with two velvet bows on the front. It was also about €300 and not anywhere near my size, not that I would have bought it anyway. So I set about making my own. I bought some red Melton wool from, and used the Circle Skirt App by By Hand London to make the pattern. I “pre-washed” the wool by taking it to the laundromat and tumble drying it with a damp towel – not having my own washing machine in the States was infinitely annoying when it came to pre-washing fabric! I cut out the skirt and the waistband, and then it got set aside and suddenly we were moving to New Zealand!


(I pressed it, I promise – it got crumpled in the moving process and is being stubborn about unwrinkling)

Of course, I had to bring my unfinished skirt with me, so I packed it into a ziplock bag in my suitcase and once I got a sewing machine here in Auckland, I took it out again and assessed. I wanted to interface the waistband, but I was unsure what to use, so I went to the local fabric shop and they sold me some quite expensive interfacing that worked beautifully, and in fact I only used the last of it up recently! I wish I knew what kind it was but the fabric store employee was unfriendly and I just wanted to leave, so I didn’t ask. It was very soft, and grey in colour, and fusible. After that, I attached the waistband and inserted a lapped zip from my newly acquired op shop stash.


For the hem, I knew I wanted it full and swingy. I had bought horsehair braid from the now-defunct online shop run by Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch and knew I wanted to use that. I used Gertie’s tutorial on how to attach it and shape the hem, and after folding it up I did a catch-stitch by hand to secure it.


And then, I was stumped. I had bought some velvet ribbon to try and mimic the original skirt, but it was only velvet on one side and I couldn’t figure out a way of forming the bow where none of the non-velvet side was showing. The skirt ended up getting put to the side again after I got a job, and for a while I thought about it and toyed with the idea of embroidering something around the hem. For two years.


I wish you couldn’t see the outline of my top under the skirt – the photographer should tell you such things!

Finally, last Monday was Luke’s birthday, and he wanted to take some photos of me (among other things), and I wanted to look nice. I came across the skirt again, and decided to try it on. I wasn’t even sure if it would fit – I hadn’t ever tried it on! Thankfully, it did – but it didn’t have a button. Ever resourceful, I found a brooch Luke’s mum had given me a while back and used that to pin the waistband closed – you can see it in the side-on shot above.

Oh, and the top I’m wearing? I made that, too! It’s the Ensis Tee by Papercut Patterns, made out of black merino from The Fabric Store for our Iceland trip last year. A black long-sleeved top is a must for me, and this one is really comfy. I have fabric to make a few more, just need to find the time!


Silky Asaka for MIL

As we all know, it was Mother’s Day recently in the southern hemisphere, and for the first time in about 5 years, Luke and I were actually in a position to see our mothers on the day! I figured the occasion deserved something a little better than flowers or chocolates, so I decided to make each of our mothers a handmade garment as a gift.

For my mother, I chose the Oslo cardigan from Seamwork. Unfortunately, I have no photos to show you because I was working on it right up until the night before our flight to Australia, and my mother is extremely photo-shy, and wouldn’t allow me to take any pictures of her wearing it. I’ll tell you, though, that it was in a black boiled wool knit with handmade buttonholes (because my machine refused to even contemplate stitching them for me) and bronze walnut buttons, and she absolutely loved it and it fit perfectly.

For my mother-in-law, Kim, I decided on the Asaka robe from Named, which I bought a year or so ago and hadn’t used yet. I wanted something pretty, and also something that was forgiving when it comes to fitting, as I wasn’t sure of Kim’s actual measurements and didn’t want to spoil the surprise by asking. I cut out a size 44 with no adjustments and traced them off, as this was sadly just before their announcement that they had converted it into their new layered sizing PDF format😦

20160515_103326Kim was more than happy to pose for blog photos!



The fabric I used I have been hoarding for quite some time. I bought it in an op shop in Hahndorf, a lovely little Germanic town in the Adelaide Hills – it was on a bolt, and it was only $5! I liked the pattern, so I bought it. When I got it home and unrolled it, there was about 10 metres of it there…and it was by John Kaldor! What a bargain! It’s very light and silky, but not see-through. I’m not sure if it’s a silk blend or what it is, as I haven’t done a burn test, but it feels delightful on the skin so I knew it would be perfect for this robe. I prewashed it in warm water in the machine and it held up just fine (I didn’t want to give Kim something she would have to hand wash all the time).

Construction was fairly straightforward. I French seamed everything I could so there were no raw edges visible, and I hand stitched the collar down on the inside for a clean, neat finish. That took forever, but it was well worth it! I also used a starch stabiliser to stop the fabric from shifting to make sure everything was neat and straight, particularly for the belt and the sleeve vents. Then I just washed the completed garment at the end to remove any traces of starch, and it was good to go!


Kim really loves it, and it fits her perfectly, so I’m pretty happy it turned out so well, and I was able to give both our mothers gifts they love and will hopefully use for a long time to come!


My 2016 Vintage Pledge

I watched last year’s Vintage Sewing Pledge unfold with interest, but didn’t get involved because I was too busy, and because I became aware of it a little too late in the year. Not that I’m exactly onto it early this year, but I figure I still have time.

So, here’s me joining the Vintage Pledge for 2016. I, Kirsty from Tea & Rainbows, pledge to make at least six vintage garments this year, possibly 7.

Ambitious? Yes. But I have a sewing plan this year, and all of these patterns feature on it, so we’ll see how I go!

I have quite a lot of vintage sewing patterns. I’ve pared them down over the years, but almost every time I go to an op shop, I walk away with another one! I rarely sew with them though, so I’m hoping this pledge will spur me on to get some of them made up!



First up we have McCall’s 2054, a trench coat from 1969. I’m planning on making view A into a rain coat, with this waterproof bird-print fabric from The Fabric Store. I’m pretty excited about it!


Next up, Simplicity 6446 from 1966. I think this one is super cute with the little tie collar! Especially loving the polka-dot one to the far right. I’ll probably make this with longer sleeves.


This one is my most recent acquisition, from a rather odd junk shop down the road from me that’s only open on Sundays. Simplicity 6912, also from 1966. The only thing that worries me is it’s a teen pattern, but I’m hoping I can just grade up without too much trouble as it’s a very simple pattern.


How gorgeous is this one? Vogue 9976, from 1960. A wrap-back blouse and skirt that looks really elegant and easy to wear. And I need more separates in my wardrobe!


Simplicity 3559 is a reproduction of an original 60s Simplicity pattern (I’m pretty sure this is allowed, but correct me if I’m wrong) that I think is simple and cute. I like the teal version with the bow!


I’ve already cut this one out – it’s originally from 1969, and is now in the Autumn/Winter Burda Vintage magazine. I’m not doing mine in chiffon though – I’m hoping to use a border print cotton I got in Mood a while back, but if not, I have other options.

Are you joining the Vintage Pledge this year?


Tropical Summer Gabriola

Front Untucked

So, I made a maxi skirt. To be more precise, I made the Gabriola skirt by Sewaholic. I don’t know when or where I bought it, but I had the paper pattern – which is now out of stock on their website. This was quite the queue jumper, to be honest. I’d found the pattern during a reorganisation of my sewing space, and a few days later I was in Geoff’s Emporium and found this lovely, summery rayon fabric for $7 a metre. Since this skirt is a huge fabric hog (4.8 metres for version A at 115cm wide fabric), the price was right! As it turned out, I easily had 1.5m of fabric left, despite making the largest size. Slightly annoying, but I guess I’ll make a top or something out of the rest.

Side Untucked

I made a size 16. This was a mistake. My waist measurement, on a good day, hovers around 88cm. Since the size 14 finished measurement was exactly 88cm, I thought by making the 16 I’d give myself room to breathe, eat and be comfortable. Instead, I ended up having to take the waist in by 6cm, in the form of 4 1.5cm darts. It was huge. And even now, it’s looser than I would ideally like. I cut the length at the smallest size, because I am short (154cm), and I still needed to take it up by 6 inches. I was going to do this at the lengthen/shorten line, but it didn’t look quite right to me and luckily Mel and Nikki advised against it, and I took it from the bottom, to preserve the hip shaping.

Back Tucked

Making the skirt was pretty straightforward. The fabric didn’t shift too much, and it pressed nicely. I did French seams wherever possible for neat insides, and pinked the ones where I thought French seaming wouldn’t have worked very well. Well, I say it was straightforward – until I got to the zipper, that is. I had the perfect colour zipper in my stash (I have a huge vintage zip collection of all colours and sizes), but inserting it was like pulling teeth. I interfaced the zipper opening, I basted it in first…and it still took me 4 tries before I was satisfied with it. And even now, I’m not sure satisfied is the right word. More like resigned. I didn’t realise until I got to that step that the zip didn’t go all the way up to the top of the waistband. I hate hooks and eyes, so that didn’t thrill me. I ended up using some small nickel snaps I had from god knows where.


I let it hang for about 4 days before I hemmed it – I didn’t plan for it to be that long, but life got in the way. I ended up cutting another 2 inches off the bottom before finally hemming it the recommended amount. Luke kindly got on his knees and helped me pin it – I didn’t enjoy any of the hemming process, it’s a huge hem and I was worried the whole time it was going to be wonky. I did use hot pink bias binding though, because why not?


Can I confess that I’m not really loving the skirt? I don’t know how to wear it! I imagined I would wear it with a tucked-in top, but it turns out I hate the way that looks (you can see what I mean at the bottom of this post). It’s so much brighter than anything I usually wear, and while I love how flowy and light it feels when I’m wearing it, I feel like I have no suitable tops to pair with it. I’m wondering if a looser fitting top, tucked in, would look okay. I’m desperate for open to suggestions.


When twirling photos go bad…


McCall’s 9125

Do you ever finish sewing something, try it on and just feel…blah about it? This is one of those.


This skirt is McCall’s 9125, a vintage pattern for a skirt or culottes, jacket and shirt. I am having trouble finding a picture of the pattern online to show you, but the envelope says it’s from 1967. To be honest, this is the kind of skirt that doesn’t even need a pattern – it’s literally two rectangles, gathered and sewn onto a tabbed waistband. But hey, I had the pattern and it’s actually the perfect length for me. This is my second time making it – I don’t think I’ve blogged the first one, only Instagrammed it a while back. I do wear the first one on occasion – it has chartreuse foxes on it, after all – but I’m just not feeling this one.


The fabric is a rayon challis from Backstreet Bargains (I think) that I’ve had for a while. I love the teal colour, and it’s so flowy and soft. I thought it would work well for this pattern, but now I’m not so sure. It does feel summery to wear, but I don’t feel like it’s very flattering?


Especially not from the back…geez. Excuse the odd poses, I was wearing a longish cardigan and instead of taking it off, I just hitched it up and held it there. It has a handpicked lapped zipper, done following the instructions on an old vintage zip, and it has a snap fastening at the waistband with a decorative button on the tab.


It even has self-made matching bias tape on the hem! Why did I go to so much trouble for a skirt I had my doubts about? Who knows. At least it’s well made. But I think I’ll be donating it, sadly, as I just don’t see myself wearing it.

Do you keep your dud makes, or do you get rid of them as soon as you can?


Sewing for the husband: Thread Theory Jutland

Whee, it’s not even the end of January and I have another finished project to blog! Look at me go.



Yes, it’s more sewing for Luke – this time a pair of shorts to go with his new short-sleeved shirt. After my failure with the Jedediah shorts, I was neither keen to use a Thread Theory pattern nor make shorts again. But, the weather in Auckland is humid and gross and warm, and Luke walks to work and back and was not digging it in jeans, so I relented. After trying and failing to find a suitable shorts pattern elsewhere, I gave in and bought the Thread Theory Jutland Pants pattern. The Jutland Pants are really more up Luke’s alley than the Jedediah – Luke is a no-nonsense, practical kind of guy, and these are no-nonsense, practical pants/shorts. He was especially keen on the cargo pockets! I used the instructions as a vague guide and I think they’re a bit better than the Jedediah ones. Or maybe I’ve just had more practice now. Either way, these weren’t a difficult make, just time consuming with all the topstitching and flat-felled seams.


I made a quick and dirty muslin in a size 39, which is what Luke’s measurements put him at. They were MASSIVE on him, and so after pinning and re-measuring, I went down to a 36. In actuality, I think he’s probably a 37, but that size doesn’t exist on the pattern. It’s a bit odd there’s a 3″ difference between the sizes, really. I could have blended between the sizes, but Luke was impatient for shorts and so I didn’t bother. Between that and festive eating, when Luke tried on the finished shorts, they fit…just. With a helping of muffins over the side. No matter though, because one of our goals this year is to eat healthily and be more active, and I’m pleased to say that after some effort in that department, they fit him quite well! He does say the pockets are a tiiiny bit snug (and you can see kind of a weird fold where the pocket meets the side seam where the pocket lining bunches up if he doesn’t straighten it out), so when I make another pair (because of course he wants another pair) I will make them just a tad larger through the hips.


The Jutland Pants don’t have any indication of where to cut them off for shorts (that I could see) so Luke indicated to me where he wanted them to sit, and we did it that way. I then carefully moved the cargo pocket markings up the requisite amount to fit them onto the shorts – I could not find anyone else in the sewing blogging world who had done the shorts with the cargo pockets, and believe me I tried, so I was a bit worried maybe it couldn’t be done for some reason, but they turned out great! They look uneven in the photo above, but they’re not – it’s just the way Luke was standing/the way the shorts are sitting with his belt. I did patch pockets on the back, and somehow fudged up the instructions for sewing, folding and turning with the tops of them, but I actually like the way they turned out – a design feature, if you will😉 He declined any kind of decorative stitching on the pockets. All the seams are flat felled except the crotch seam, which is double stitched and then bound with store-bought grey bias binding, and the waistband, which is finished the way I like it – seam allowance folded in and stitched in the ditch to secure.


One thing Luke requested was a coin pocket. It was pretty easy to make one – I just measured one on his existing jeans, added seam allowance, positioned it and sewed it on. Done. He wanted it deep enough to put his flashlight in (as seen above), so I added a little bit of depth to it to accommodate that. The inside of the pockets is just plain calico – Luke rejected all offerings of even slightly whimsical fabric from my stash.


I’m pretty proud of the cargo pockets – I think they look pretty good! Luke chose the buttons from Masco Wools. The fabric for the shorts came from my local Red Cross op shop – they often have a basket out the front of fabric, and all lengths are $3. I brought home 5m of this blue drill fabric, so there’s enough to make some shorts for me if I so desire. Not bad for $3! It’s the perfect weight for these shorts. Zip came from my massive bag of zips from the Salvation Army I scored last year. All in all, a cheap, successful make!