Show & Tell at the November morning meeting…

Sewing was certainly on a few people’s minds over the weekend of 6 – 7 November.  There was, of course, the group’s presence at the Festival of Quilts show.  But, there was also action back at Highbury House.  It was another good turnout as well as Mary Ann, a visitor from Wellington.

Most people brought their sewing projects – several had hand-sewing to attend to – and there was a friendly atmosphere of catching up, sharing tips and troubleshooting etc.

The main event was the show & tell segment with a number of stunning garments on display.

IMG_6003IMG_5995Mary Anna’s self-confessed penchant for coats was evident with her Burda trench coat made from a fuschia coloured cotton gabardine and lined with a luxurious silk satin (which she recommends highly for warmth).

Jane wore a top based on a Grainline Studio IMG_6006pattern (Linden sweatshirt).  The front patterned fabric was repurposed from a silk shirt and the rest was a comfortable and versatile black knit.IMG_6017

This summer weight shift dress was modified from a Vogue pattern but was interesting because it was constructed economically from two panel lengths with the red striped border print as a feature on the hem.  Mary Ann also added a little more of the stripe along the shoulders as a clever feature and the sleeve and neckline edges are piped.  A simple classic piece, beautifully executed.

IMG_6022Diane modelled her flattering and ingenious upcycled tunic based on the design concept of Diane Dynes, a designer from the South Island. Comprised of two woollen jerseys, brown denim from some jeans and some pieces of knit fabric, Diane made this garment at one of Diane Dynes’ workshops and encouraged our members to invite Diane Dynes to be a tutor next year and teach her fast assembly construction.  There was a good show of hands to support this workshop going ahead.

IMG_6012IMG_6011Liz showed us her leather skirt and silk corset (not shown) that she had made with the expert guidance of Annette Gebbie, an outstanding local sewing tutor.  This seemingly-simple lined pencil skirt was made using numerous special techniques as the soft calf skin needed professional fusing and could not be pinned.  Precision zip installation, machine and hand sewing, and careful pressing were involved as well as tailoring methods of hidden support which made for a robust and beautiful garment.


Only two members brought their dresses made for Frocktober.  These were Joanne, with her 1920s “flapper” satin shift (pictured left), rescued and repurposed from a school costume box, and (pictured right) Jill’s knit dress (Style Arc pattern Laura), made with $5 sale fabric from the Centrepoint pop-up store and with a funky raw edge.  Jill wins the best quote of the morning…

Made in 10 minutes with a knife and fork kind of dress

All were winners on the day…except perhaps for the chocolate fish…

eaten choc fish2



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.


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!

The Unusual Fabrics Sewing Challenge Winner is…

The 3rd and final Sewing Challenge for this year was taken up by a surprising number of people and it was another high quality contest with a diverse range of garments, fabrics and techniques. The challenge was to make something from unusual or difficult to deal with fabrics and was judged by popular vote.

Taking out the most popular choice and the prize of a $50 gift voucher (a great big thanks to the Fabric Store in Auckland) was new member, Rosemary H for her stunningly gorgeous sequinned Chanel-style jacket.



Lined with Duchesse silk, which was lightly quilted to the sequinned fashion fabric in places to hold it together, this jacket was a triumph of technical difficulty and utilised high-end couture sewing techniques including hand stitching, a custom-made plaited braid and was fitted beautifully to Rosemary’s figure.

We just loved the bling...

We just loved the bling…

Rosemary’s comment that she hadn’t known to cut away the sequins from the seamline prior to sewing created a laugh all around as she “only” broke 4 machine needles in the process. An intrepid and fearless sewist indeed!

A close second in the popular vote was a garment from another new-ish member, Cecile.  Her fun fur jerkin vest was very soft and smooth like a long-haired animal (although it was actually PETA safe thankfully).  This was a fashionable look suitable to wear with jeans or even smart casual.

Fun fur jerkin by Cecile


Congratulations to Rosemary and Cecile, but everyone was a winner on the day in this challenge.

Here are the some of the other contenders.

Rosemary M. did a fantastic job with a wool poodle cloth which had a high degree of stretch to tame. Originally styled for sweatshirts - this has become a stylish and comfortable winter jacket. Rosemary M. did a fantastic job with a wool poodle cloth which had a high degree of stretch to tame. Originally styled for sweatshirts, Rosemary modified the pattern for fit and style.  This is set to become a stylish and comfortable winter jacket with the navy contrast bands giving it all the features that she wanted. Another bonus was that the fabric was sourced from one of our group swap days!




Joanne created two tops for this challenge. This IMG_6441stunning green coloured velour type fabric had the perfect drape to catch the light and was sewn with a 3-step machine stitch suitable for knits.

Jill custom made a contrast fringed trim detail on this jacket adding flair and style to this Style Arc pattern


Jill custom made a contrast fringed trim detail on this jacket adding flair and style to this Style Arc pattern.



Here’s a stunning family “Clan Ross” tartan pencil skirt by Mary P.Family tartan pencil skirt by Mary P. Tricky matching that plaid lines.  Deceptively simple but it is always tricky matching those plaid lines but this was perfectly executed, and the result will be a wardrobe staple for years to come.  Can’t beat quality, can you.



A drapy silk and lace blouse by Joanne. Slippery lace can always be challenging but the perfectly colour matched lace added wonderful texture to the garment Another entry by Joanne was a drapey silk and lace blouse. Slippery lace can always be challenging but the perfectly colour-matched lace added wonderful texture to the garment.  Joanne added some additional embroidery to the front neck opening to give it added stability.


Thanks to all who worked so hard to get their garments ready for the meeting and for showing them off for close inspection.

Coming soon will be our ***NEW*** Photo Gallery page for other images from our October 2015 group meeting including our regular “Show & Tell” session for garments finished during the past month.

What you missed at the August evening meeting…

It was a hive of activity and conversations at last Thursday’s evening meeting. We had nine people attending, including one for whom it was their first time, which made for a nice full room, with everyone working away on their varying projects. At one point we took a short break from our busyness to each introduce ourselves and talk about what we were working on, and we found there was quite a wide variety of things being made.

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Mary’s day at the Tailoring Workshop

I found it very rewarding – no pictures though as it was full-on the entire day.

It was beneficial to actually put into practice methods I had seen in sewing magazines – the technique for sewing lapels expertly the first time for instance with precision where the pieces meet.

We did welt pockets with a flap – I normally use the Palmer Pletsch method but this was quicker and not so bulky.

The methods taught were industry standard practices.

Margaret (the teacher) has good quality sewing machines (Pfaff) and the small class size enabled all of us to get individual attention.