The Good Oil from Christine on sewing stretch hems

Christine FHi Sewing Connection Auckland,

Diane has asked me to pass on to you for the blog, the Heaven I have found in sewing stretch hems.
After years of being frustrated with trying to sew hems etc on stretch garments with a twin needle, only to find that ‘tunnel’ between the stitching and other problems, I have found the perfect answer!

No, not a coverstitch machine (though the end result looks like it) – I had one of these but we never bonded and I sold it – but simple steps to follow:

  • Turn the hem width to the wrong side of the garment.
  • Working from the right side topstitch with a STRETCH twin needle. You can use woolly nylon in the bobbin for extra stretch if you like. LOOSEN the top thread tension.

Its that easy! My, what a difference! The best answers are always the easy ones and I wish I’d discovered stretch twin needles years ago.

Happy sewing


Raindrops on roses…a few of our favourite (sewing) things

Talk about a “needle pulling thread”, here is a summary of things that members who came along to the last October meeting deemed their favs.


Beth’s favourite blog is, of course, this one that you’re reading!  Sign up to follow it if you’re not already.  Shameless plug, I know!


Trade Me and Etsy (Jason) to find all sorts of weird and wonderful things for his sewing machine.

The New Zealand Fashion Museum is an online museum and is therefore a virtual resource of New Zealand fashion (including sewing) for us all to enjoy.  Currently there is an exhibition called “At the Beach” and check out what else they are doing that might interest you. see website.  (Mary).

Pattern Review is a long time favourite of a number of members including Rosemary M and Leslie. In fact, we hear that Jason may have connected up to the group in a round-about way through this website (I stand to be corrected, of course!).   It’s a mega site of information but beware … you could spend longer there than actually at your sewing machine.  You’ve been warned!

Now, hands up who hasn’t gone to YouTube here in moments of desperation to figure out how to do that invisible zip installation, welt pocket or flat felled seam.  We know it’s there so just use it. (Cecile and Linda S.)

Also mentioned in passing was Pinterest (swoon) for inspiration and sucking up hours of your life you’ll never get back. You can pin great photos and ideas from others or upload yourself, follow (rather than stalk) cool people with style and imagination and also create your own boards of images that will help with a sewing project.  Images for many of the pattern companies are there too.  Great source of free tutorials, patterns, eye-candy etc.  Love it!


If you don’t know about the extensive range of Craftsy online classes yet, you will soon.  Michelle B. completed a couture sewing class while new member, Vicki recommended the tailored shirt class with Pam Howard.  The Classic Tailored Shirt class link here.

Here’s one of the shirts that she made for her partner.

McCall 6044 shirt

McCall 6044 shirt pattern

Books & magazines

PowerSewing Sandra Betzina Book cover

Sheila, Rosemary M. and Leslie all heartily recommend “Power Sewing” by Sandra Betzina for tried and true construction techniques.  Link to Sandra’s website for details here.

Also favoured by Sheila is Nancy Zeiman’s ” Pattern Fitting with confidence” book.

Pattern-Fitting Nancy Zieman book cover

Find this and Nancy’s other books on the Auckland Libraries website catalogue here.

Mary had two go-to book references – Susan Khalje’s Sewing with Linen and Cotton.

Khalje linen and cotton book cover 077752

and “Fabric Savvy” also by Sandra Betzina. There is also a second volume called “More Fabric Savvy”  for the complete glossary of fabric types.


Threads magazine published by Taunton Press is a fantastic resource that many members endorsed, Mary and Diane specifically.  th-cover-toc

The magazine now comes in both paper and digital formats and there is an online offering of invaluable extras for the subscriber.  Threads Magazine website here.  Ask around the group to see where to buy it if you don’t want to subscribe.  The Auckland Libraries also has holdings.

Cecile is currently taken with the books of the television series, The Great British Sewing Bee info on the GBSB here– books one and two.GBSB1 book coverGBSB2 book cover

This has great visuals on techniques and helped Cecile sew some curtains.  You can download many of the patterns in book two here. There is also a new third book (Below) to enjoy.GBSB3 book cover

New member, Rosemary H, whom has a special interest in couture garments and techniques mentioned the Claire B. Shaeffer books, specifically these two.

shaeffer couture book cover


“Fit for Real People” by Palmer/Pletsch is a favourite resource for Leslie. Now in a revised 2014 edition


Beth is currently making good use out of a new book on knits also published by Palmer/Pletsch. Co-authored by Sue Neall of the Australian Sewing Guild, it is pretty comprehensive on the subject.


Now before you think it’s all books, these are merely some of our favs.  To find more, check out the Auckland Libraries website for print and digital collections without which Beth would die like the Wicked Witch of the East after that naughty Dorothy poured water on her.  Smartphone users can download the Auckland Libraries app which is super convenient when you see a book you want in Whitcoulls and want to reserve it immediately.

Now if you want to actually OWN the books and not merely read it at the Auckland ratepayers’ expense, go to or (although at time of writing, this seems to have disappeared into the ether) to do a price and availability comparison for the book you really really want to have.

So, that’s what we put out there at the meeting.  Comments are always welcome.


Sheers Workshop – Cancelled

This workshop has had to be cancelled this year.  Check in next year to see if it will be run at a future time.

Venue: Vogue School of Sewing, Epsom, Auckland

Time: 12.30p.m. – 3.00p.m

Learn lots of tips and techniques on how to to sew these gorgeous fabrics.

Our tutor, Margaret, has owned and tutored at the Vogue School of Sewing since 1997. She is a lovely person and a highly experienced teacher. The workshop is held in Margaret’s Studio in Epsom.

The class is small (maximum of 7) to ensure everyone gets plenty of help.

The cost is $85 per person, which includes for each student:

  • the use of a sewing machine (one per student)
  • a prepared kit
  • set of notes
  • tea and coffee.

Expressions of interest should be made to Diane, email her at and we will send out a registration form closer to the date of the workshop.

Sewing time will still be on at Highbury House (9.30am-12) for those not involved in this Workshop.

Our sewing evening is tomorrow

Hi Everyone,

Our next meeting will be Thursday evening 15th October 7 – 9p.m. at Highbury House Community Centre, 110 Hinemoa St. Birkenhead.


Bring your sewing machines and projects and enjoy a 2 hour sewing session.

Can those who want to drop off items for the quilt show booth bring them along.  Linda has offered to collect items from those who cannot attend the quilt show in November.

Hope you can make it.



14SH754 (edit)

Joanne has emailed in a Snippet about her favourite Overlocker service and repair person that she is recommending.  He services all brands of over-lockers and sewing machines.

Rudie Gouws
145 Upper Harbour Drive
Ph 09 950 3914
M: 021 1484 990

Please phone for an appointment.
Joanne recommends looking up his address on Google Earth as his sign is small and the road has a 70 kph limit.


Sewing Connection Auckland has heard that it is Frocktober …


How about we have a challenge to see which of our members can make the most number of frocks to bring to our next meeting in November?  Or, if this is too tight a time frame, just bring in frocks that you’ve made this year.

This is optional, of course, and the prize is probably just bragging rights and HUGE self esteem amongst your humble peers.  There may also be a chocolate fish or two250px-Twochocolatefish

in it as an added incentive.
Leave a comment below if you think you’ll be in.





There’s a Sale on now at a local online sewing retailer, Pattern Postie.  Check out Pattern Postie sale here

Pattern Postie Sale Oct 2015


Remember that we welcome any photos or commentary that you may wish to share with us about your sewing experiences with other group members. Perhaps you have a favourite sewing resource such as a shop or  product or you’ve happened upon a newly discovered supplier of sewing-related stuff to share too.  Remember that this is a forum for you and we’d all love to see what’s going on with your sewing life, particularly if you haven’t been able to get to the face-to-face sessions lately.

Add a comment below if you wish to contribute and we’ll get in touch with you to put it up on this Blog.  Thanks!




Show and Tell in photos at the October meeting





More feedback on the Te Aroha sewing retreat

20150906_124648 (Alison & Graham's home)

The weekend was fantastic! It was so fabulous to spend time with other like minded people (love to sew) and dedicate ourselves to our own projects as well as help each other. No need to worry about other people’s timetables, preparing meals etc etc. Just sew and socialise.


Personally I managed to make a skirt, a tee shirt, and a long (duster) shirt. They were all cut out and prepared beforehand but it was amazing how much I achieved. I have never dedicated a few days to sewing only, and am a convert to do it more often!

The venue was great, as were our hosts, and we all left there with plans to return at a later date to enjoy their hospitality.


Here are a few photos that Christine took at the retreat…


Diane is such a tireless worker, even on retreat!

Diane is such a tireless worker, even on retreat!