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New Sponsor - Indie Stitches

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tomorrow is moving day (one of at least two...and thank you all so much for your congratulations!) and today we are packing, but I wanted to quickly let you know that I've just taken on my first official sponsor.

Without further ado, I'd like to welcome Indie Stitches!

I'm so happy and excited to have Caitlan on board and we have some pretty cool giveaways coming up in the next few months for you, so make sure you keep an eye out.

You'll also notice on Caitlan's button (to the right!) that you get a sweet 10% off all patterns at Indie Stitches if you quote JLV at the check out! So many goodies to choose from...

Don't forget to enter to win your very own copy of the Emery Dress pattern courtesy of Indie Stitches either. You can enter here, but do it toot sweet as entries close on Monday 3rd March (that's NZ time - a whole day ahead of a lot of you! Don't worry, the future is good...)


Honey, We Bought A Home!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yes. Finally. After years and years of dreaming about owning our own home, we gosh darn gone bought us a house!

  • We move in next Friday (28th February).
  • It's a 1940's three bedroom home with gorgeous ceilings.
  • It comes with three chickens who give us three eggs a day (I'm going to be baking and eating omelettes like there's no tomorrow). 
  • I'll have my own, very first ever, dedicated sewing room/office.
  • It has an established garden with 3 apple trees, 2 plum trees, 3 hazelnut trees, blackberries, black currents, red currents, raspberries, strawberries, alpine strawberries, blueberries, a huge vege patch, 2 glasshouses, a grape vine, rhubarb everywhere, 2 Feijoa trees, a fig tree, a cherry blossom, herbs...weeds. So many weeds.
  • The garden isn't even really that big. 
  • There's a bit of work to do.
  • I couldn't be happier!

David and I are going to be starting a blog following our renovation of the house. It's going to be a long process as we figure out just what exactly we want to do with it. But it's exciting. No more sewing in a room surrounded by unpacked boxes of our things from when we left Sydney.

I'll let you know when we've set up the blog if you want to follow along...


An Emery and a Give Away...

Monday, February 17, 2014
I'm pretty sure most of the internet knows about the Emery Dress by now, right? It's Christine Hayne's latest pattern release and it's such a lovely design that really lets you get creative with finishing touches and construction techniques.

Oh, and you know it has pockets right? I think pockets will forever be the thing that seals the deal with seamstresses all over the world.

A few weeks ago I had a lovely email in my inbox from Caitlan who runs Indie Stitches. She was letting me know that she had just started stocking Christine's patterns and wanted to know if I'd like to help her celebrate by running a giveaway of the Emery Dress pattern on my blog for you guys. Well, of course I said yes (because I'm not silly you know!), so make sure you read on for your chance to win!

My Emery is made from a denim blue cotton plaid, perfect for the cooler seasons ahead - although on the day we took these photos, it was a bit less summery than I would have liked!

I did my usual grading at the bodice, from a 6 to an 8 and found that although it (would) fit perfectly, the shaping darts were about half an inch too low. Nobody else has seemed to have this problem with the pattern however and it's an easy fix. I must have had a moment when tracing the pattern and accidentally used the wrong sized darts. Duh!

Monty photobomb!

I constructed my bodice a bit differently than Christine instructs as I was using a standard vintage zip and not an invisible one. I also made my bow belt instead of using the attached bow pattern because I thought the dress would be a little more versatile sans bow.

The lining I used was left over floral fabric from my Faux Liberty Macaron. And I also kinda wish I had made floral inseam piping for the neckline after seeing it peeping out once it was sewn in. But in all honesty, I couldn't really be bothered unpicking it, so instead settled for ironing up the lining a smidge so you can just see it.

Hey, it works!

Over all, I really love my Emery - the colour, the full skirt with pockets and that lovely neckline. I think a sleeveless version is in order, no?

Now, let's get to the fun part and do a give away shall we?

To enter to win, all you need to do is pop on over to the Indie Stitches Facebook page and like it. Then come back here, let me know you've entered in the comments and you're done.

If you already like Indie Stitches on Facebook, don't worry, you can still enter too!  Just share the page with your friends on Facebook and leave me a comment letting me know you've done it.

The competition is open internationally for two weeks (entries close on Monday 3rd March) and the winner will be notified via email by Friday 7th March.

Indie Stitches also posts worldwide, so if you can't wait to win a copy of the Emery dress pattern, you can buy it here.

So, let's help Caitlan celebrate stocking Christine's patterns!! It's par-tay time guys!


The Easiest Peplum Top - A Tutorial

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This little peplum top is so easy to make. I made mine with the free Colette Patterns Sorbetto top, but I think this would look equally cute with any top that is relatively blouse-y and non-fitted. You could also easily update a mens shirt using this method as well!


  • A Non-fitted Blouse Pattern
  • 1/2inch (13mm) Bias Binding (Learn to make your own here)
  • 1/4inch (7mm) Elastic or Ribbon
  • Measuring Tape
  • Scissors


1. Trace out your blouse from the pattern and make any necessary changes. At this stage, you should add length if you want it, and if you are wanting a bigger peplum, grade your pattern out a size or two at the waist and hips.

2. Make up your pattern according to the instructions.

3. Find and mark where your waist is on the blouse. Turn it inside out and with your blouse flat, measure along the marked waist line all the way around. This is the waist circumference measurement of the blouse.

Tip: To get your accurate waist placement, put your blouse on and then put a skinny belt or loop of elastic on over the top. The belt/elastic will sit naturally where your waist is smallest, mark this placement using a pin or fabric marker.

4. Measure out a length of bias binding using the blouse's waist circumference measurement and add on  two inches for the bias binding seam allowance.

5. Fold under the bias binding seam allowance, 1 inch each end, wrong sides together and iron.

6. With your blouse still inside out, line up one edge of your bias binding with a side seam of your blouse. Pin your bias binding, wrong-side down, along your marked blouse waist circumference.

7. Sew your bias binding down on each side as close to the edge as you can get starting at one end of the bias binding. Do this on both edges.

8. Cut out a length of elastic that is comfortable for you. A general rule is to take your waist measurement and minus 3 inches to get a comfortable amount of elastic for your blouse. However, this is dependent on how stretchy your elastic is. Another way you could measure your elastic is to put it around your waist and stretch it until you are happy with the fit. Add an extra 2 inches to this measurement for seam allowance.

9. Attach a small safety pin to one end of your elastic and pull through the bias binding casing from the side opening. It should fit nice and snuggly into the bias casing, but make sure there are no twists in your elastic as you go.

10. Before you secure your elastic ends permanently, safety pin the elastic together and try the blouse on to make sure you are happy with the amount of elastic you are using. Make any adjustments to the elastic length at this stage and then secure the elastic ends either using a hand or machine stitch.

Et voila! You have now made a super cute (and easy) little peplum blouse!

As I was making this, I realised how cute the contrast bias binding would look if placed on the right side of the blouse as well, so I took some photos to show you. I've used a piece of white ribbon here to demonstrate how you could use a cord or ribbon and tie them at the side of your blouse if you chose to put your binding on the outside of your blouse. (And, yes, this is the blouse inside out! Love french seams for making it look otherwise!).

Do let me know if you make your own Easy Peplum Blouse. I'd love to see them and hear how they worked out!

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Building & Wearing a Hand-Made Wardrobe - Back to Basics

Friday, February 7, 2014

I'm so glad so many of you enjoyed my first post in this series of Building & Wearing a 
Hand-made Wardrobe!

Today I wanted to talk about going back to basics in our hand-made wardrobes, to talk about those items that we can make in a few hours that can form a base for several hand-made outfits.

Basics are pretty amazing things when you actually think about them. They take very little of our precious sewing time to make up, but open up a whole host of different hand-made outfits that can then be worn because of them.

Today I'm wearing a Colette Patterns Sorbetto (free to download!) that I've turned into a little peplum blouse. There are so many free basic patterns out there that are easy to sew up, to adapt and that can provide the means to wear some of the more outrageous items in our hand-made wardrobes that may otherwise never get worn because nothing else goes with them. 

As I discussed in my first post in this series, sewing basics doesn't have to be boring or mean doing the same techniques over and over. Basics provide the amazing opportunity of interpretation, customisation and personalisation of a garment. They also provide the perfect platform to try more complicated construction techniques and to test out different design ideas, while also letting you try out new styles without too much heartbreak if they just don't work out.

This little Sorbetto took me about 3 hours to make all up (if that), has french seams and the obvious addition of the peplum. I can wear the peplum out as I've done here or tucked in (and I've found that tucking in the peplum means I have a perfect distribution of 'pouff' out of the top of my skirt, which means I'm not forever adjusting my blouse). This little blouse also goes with so many things in my hand-made wardrobe and is the perfect summer staple being made up in a navy gingham cotton which is both affordable and easy to wash and wear.

Throughout the year I'm going to be showing you a few different things you can do to jazz up basics, including how to make your very own Peplum Sorbetto coming next week (it is so easy)!

So, if you're one of those people who loves sewing bright, complicated garments that never get worn, then maybe try sewing up a basic to go with it! You never know, it might get worn a whole lot more and become a staple go-to outfit.


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