Thursday 24 December 2015

New year, new platform - I'm moving...

OK, so it's not quite the new year, it's about a week early, but I felt it was time to make the move and the new platform is about as ready to go as it can be. It kinda makes sense to move at this time of year.

So, Nikki's Stitches is now on WordPress. There's not a great difference in the name, the new blog can be found at

You'll need to update your blog platform, feedly, bloglovin', etc. All comments so far have been imported across, but from now on, won't be, so if you comment on this page, it won't show in WordPress - mainly because this page won't be on the new platform :-)

I think all the remains now is for me to wish you all a fabulous Christmas and a fantastic 2016!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Natalie and Nina

This is another of Kat's fabulous patterns teamed up with my fave cardigan, Muse Natalie dress and Style Arc Nina cardigan.

I'll not say much about the cardigan, I've said it all before, it is so easy to cut and make up. I love them. I know the draped look might not be for everyone, but I get so much wear out of these.

I think I bought the fabric for this one, intending to make something else and it was definitely pattern tetris cutting this out. I think the bottom piece is actually cut across the grain, but hey, it works and the cardigan has been washed a couple of times since making up and it's made no difference. This merino is quite closely woven and keeps it's shape really well. Unlike my black merino Nina cardi which has gone a tad baggy now!

The details
Fabric:  Fuchsia pink merino from Levana, Levin, June 2015.
Notions:  Thread and some cotton tape to stabilise the shoulders and neck.
Pattern:  Style Arc Nina cardigan, size 14
Changes made:  None
Another one/recommendations:  I've made four of these cardigans. I love them. They are great for slobbing around in and are smart enough for work. I know the look isn't for everyone, but for me, I love them!

And so to the Natalie dress. I was intrigued by this dress from the start. I was over at Kat's one weekend for a knitting afternoon and she suggested I try on one of her sample versions. I loved it, the fit, the style, etc. I knew I needed one in my wardrobe. And so, I used this pale grey knit I got from Levana back in April. It was intended to be another Gillian, but I decided it would be perfect for this dress.

I went for the version with the gathers under the bust. I didn't intend to, but this fit was actually much better for me. I had to be careful with pattern placement, I could have had flowers in the wrong places - as it were!

The pattern, like all of Kat's patterns, is drafted perfectly. This is a size 38 and fit me straight out of the box. I've made no alterations to the pattern at all. I followed the instructions to the letter, they didn't need any changing. It's really easy to put together and sews up so quickly. The sleeves are the perfect length for me - I love 3/4 length sleeves.

I honestly have no complaints about this pattern. OK, the ties are really long and that's possibly because they are intended to come round the front, but I'd rather leave the front free. Hang on, is that my only gripe - what am I saying? Nope I've no gripes or groans at all and I get so many compliments when I wear this dress. It's a real keeper and very tempting to make another...

The details
Fabric:  Pale grey polyester knit from Levana, Levin, April 2015
Notions:  Thread, interfacing and some cotton tape to stabilise the shoulders.
Pattern:  Muse Patterns Natalie dress, size 38
Changes made:  None
Another one/recommendations:  I'm actually really tempted to make another, this dress is great, it fits well and I really love it. I certainly recommend the pattern, it's so easy to make up and the fit is fab. Oh and what's more you can make a top or a maxi dress too.

Excuse the hair everywhere, we'd done photos the day before and the exposure was all wrong and this day is one of Wellington's lovely windy days. You'd have thought by now I'd learn to put my hair back!

Sunday 25 October 2015

Muse Tahi

Happy first birthday to Muse Patterns!

I've been testing again! When Kat first mentioned this pattern combo to me, I was there. I love shrugs and I thought this one would be great to go over my concert dress to replace the very old tie front cardi I was using. As for the seam detail on the skirt, I was sold, please let me test, please, please!

The shrug
This is great for stash busting, it uses such little fabric and is so easy to put together too. That easy that I forgot I was testing and completely forgot to read the instructions - oops!

I made the version with 3/4 sleeves. Honestly it is the simplest thing to make. Stitch the shoulder seams, insert the sleeves, sew up the side seam and sleeve seam in one go, hem the sleeve cuffs an then attach the binding around the raw edges and away you go!

I used less than a metre of fabric. My version gapes a bit at the back of the neck and the binding seems to be tight at the bottom of the back. I think this is really my fabric choice, trust me, trying to find notches cut in this fabric is nigh on impossible!

Now wearing this over my concert dress, I ideally would need to pin the front of the shrug to the straps on my dress, since it's a strappy dress. I can't be showing skin to all and sundry in concerts. I don't have a photo of this yet. However, with anything else I love the shape. I think it looks great over everything else. At most, an additional inch on the front would be good, but anything more than that is getting in the realms of FBAs and SBAs. As it is, this style suits everyone.

The details

Fabric:  Black fluffy fabric received from a swap from A Charm of Magpies, one of our WSNB-ers
Notions:  Thread and some cotton tape to stabilise the back of the neck.
Pattern:  Muse Patterns, Tahi Shrug, size 40
Changes made:  None
First worn:  For photos here at Truby King Gardens in Wellington with the Tahi Skirt and a Belcarra made in June.

Another one/recommendations:  This is a great pattern, definitely recommended even if you just want something quick and easy to make up. I've a feeling more could be on the cards for me. It comes with four different sleeve options, to cover all seasons. I've just taken mine away on holiday and it was worn every evening out!

The skirt

Ok, so the skirt. Those seam lines on the front, they were what drew me to this pattern. Just look how simple yet effective they are. I made this out of minimal fabric and even my pattern placement required quite a bit of pattern Tetris. I had to place the centre seamed piece at 90 degrees to the grain. It was just not possible any other way. Oh, and before you ask, the plain simple A-line skirt just wasn't an option!

To be honest I love how this shows on the final skirt. I reckon it was an inspired choice!

I thought the corner seaming detail on the front would also be really difficult but no, follow Kat's instructions and you'll be fine and dandy. Honestly, they are so easy, it's frightening just how easy they are.

The problem I had was with the zip... Due to the lack of fabric I decided to omit the centre back seam and use a side seam zip. Silly girl I forgot Kat has said all seams bar that centre back seam are 3/8ths. You try putting in a lapped zip with 3/8th seam allowance! Fortunately after ripping the zip out I realised that I'd cut too large a size and could easily take in 5/8ths seam allowance. Zip woes averted! It's still not perfect because I played around with the seam afterwards to get the skirt to fit but I was testing the pattern and was uncertain of my size. I cut a size 40 if that helps, since I'm between sizes. So I went up a size as I thought it would be quite fitted.

The instructions are really clear, I even followed the instructions to the letter for the zip. This is something I'd normally just go, lapped zipper, ok I know what to do!

I'm also shorter than Kat and ended up cutting about an inch and a half off the bottom. Personal preference for length also intervened.

This is going to make a great casual skirt in my wardrobe. I'm working out what I could use to make a fancy posh one, perhaps something floaty which needs lining in the long flared version?

The details

Fabric:  Tan coloured cotton drill, a remnant from Evans of Masterton, April 2015, I had 90cm of 150 wide!

Notions:  Thread, metal dress zip and waistband stiffening

Pattern:  Muse Patterns, Tahi skirt, size 40, which I took in.
Changes made:  I removed the centre back seam and put the zip in the side seam, and shortened it. 

First worn:  To Fabric-a-Brac here in Wellington, with my Belcarra, made in June. Photos here in Truby King Gardens

Another one/recommendations:  Like the shrug, this is another great pattern from Kat. The drafting and the instructions are really great. The corner seaming is so much easier than it looks and it's just so effective. I certainly quite like the idea of something long and floaty... Just check out that maxi floaty version on the website.

Kat gave me this pattern for testing purposes. All comments and opinions are my own.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Rosie ESP

This is another of my pattern swaps from Indie Pattern Month from The Monthly Stitch. This second swap was for a printed pattern.

As the rules stated the pattern had to be from a company I'd never tried before and certainly Decades of Style are new to me. At the time, I didn't really know what I was going to make it out of, until I went shopping with Mel, Kat and Jenna, at the beginning of July and the rest they say is history!

So having never made one of these patterns before, I thought it best to make up a muslin of the bodice. Good plan - bust darts too high, front waist darts too long, bodice about 1/2 inch too short and with this, personally I found the front neck too high and the back neck too low - what a lot of changes!

The darts were an easy job, but the neckline was going to bit that bit more difficult with raglan sleeves and the facing. I didn't work it out mathematically, I just extended the back neckline and shortened the front. I think the tops of sleeves ended up being diagonal, but hey, can you see it when it on? Nope. I've not changed it drastically, just enough to make the neckline more comfortable for me. To be honest, it probably amounts to about half an inch off the front and added to the back (not a great deal). There are darts at the neck for the sleeves which give the shoulder shape. As for the facing, I didn't actually cut that until I'd got the neck as I wanted it.

To be honest, I hardly followed the instructions at all. The instructions tell you to attach the front skirt to the front bodice and same with the back and then stitch the whole side seam. Nope, I made up the bodice, then attached the skirt in one piece.

My invisible zipper was a nightmare. For some reason the second side all puckered and I had to redo the zip - I hate unpicking zips! It's not perfect now, but with this fabric, you can't see it. Oh and then when I put it on, the top of the back was gaping! ARGH! So I ended up unpicking 3-4 inches at the top of the zip so that I could take in the excess which was about 3/4 inch each side! I am aware that my head tends to sit forward, but this was more to take in than usual. However, it now lays flat!

Troubles and issues aside, I bumbled through them as usual. If you want someone who redrafts something from scratch because the fit isn't perfect - don't look to me. A bit of adjustment here and there never hurt anyone! Famous last words! :-) I'm not sure if the bodice is intended to a bit more fitted, but I actually like this as it is and I reckon I've got a great dress which also has pockets!

I finished the seams using my overlocker and was really lazy and even finished the hem using the blind hem stitch on my machine! I know shock horror, I didn't hem it by hand! :-)

The details
Fabric:  Orange and red rose cotton and rayon (I think) from the Fabric Warehouse, July 2015.
Notions:  Thread, an invisible zip and interacing for the facings.
Pattern:  Decades of Style, ESP dress from the Decades Everyday Collection, size 40 which was actually too big once I'd made it up.
Changes made:  Bust darts lowered by 3/4 inch, bodice lengthened by 3/4 inch. I kept the front waist darts the same length, so the top end of these were lowered. The front neckline was lowered by half inch, and the back neckline raised by the same.
First worn:  For these photos after Fabric-a-Brac, in Truby King Gardens.

Another one/Recommend:  Once I had sorted out my fitting, I actually found this dress really quick to make. My fabric choice is perfect, the dress feels floaty and girly. Once the warmer weather comes, I suspect this dress will got a lot of wear. I would certainly recommend it. The pattern itself comes in a zip lock bag and is made with really nice thick paper. I don't know if I'll make another yet. The pattern is great and the raglan sleeves are a really nice different touch. I might be tempted! Bother, perhaps I should have redrafted that neck properly... Oh well.

Oh and you wanna know what happens when you take photos of a couple of outfits at a time...

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Jo Sharp fitted cardigan

So, I knitted a thing. This took for ever, but hey, I finished it and I love it!

I first saw this cardigan on Carolyn's blog and whenever I saw it it kept saying to me, make me, make me, you can do it, nothing really fancy to do, it's mainly stocking stitch. The more I thought about it, and having got two berets and a baby blanket under my belt in recent months, I took the plunge.
I think it was just over a year ago when I bought the wool from Mrs C's shop, splashed out on some KnitPro needles and went for it!

To be honest it was pretty simple to make up, I'm just a slow knitter and sewing still takes priority! I didn't knit a swatch. The baby blanket was actually really good for me to really test how my tension is and I'm proud modest enough to say that it's pretty good and KnitPro needles are great for maintaining your tension.

I tended to knit it in fits and starts. I'd get loads done and then I'd want to sew something which then took priority. I did have a couple of moments when I realised I'd somehow managed to decrease too many stitches and had to unpick loads of it to get back to where I could count the stitches again. (I've not had enough knitting practice to be able to count and pick up stuff easily.) I constantly forget how to increase stitches and I found the Twist Collective really helpful for this. I tried to make one right and left for the back, but I have to say one of them I got holes, so I didn't use that method for the front.

This pattern is knitted flat and bottom up and then the seams sewn up. I didn't mind the sewing up, but then I don't mind hand sewing anyway! I found picking up the stitches around the neck frustrating, more due to inexperience than anything else. As for the lace trim, I thought I'd never finish it! It's knitted sideways, so that the rows are actually perpendicular to the rows on the main cardigan. It wasn't difficult, but it was hard if a stitch was missed or I'd made a mistake. I got there though and I attached it to the cardigan and happily sewed these lovely buttons on to reach the finish line!

The details
Yarn:  Turquoise Rare Essentials yarn Double knitting/8ply from Made Marion, August 2014 I think! It's 80% alpaca and 20% merino and really love to knit with. I used 11.5 50g balls for size 39.5".
Notions:  Thread and buttons, also from Made Marion
Pattern:  Jo Sharp fitted cardigan, view
Changes made:  None, I'm not clever enough for that!
First worn:  Probably at home one day, but here for photos in Rotoura at the North Island Sewing Meet by an appropriate tree!

Another one/recommendations:  I certainly recommend the pattern. Even if you're a beginner knitter, it's really easy to knit up and the fit is great. I love the length of the cardigan and the 3/4 sleeves. This has had a fair bit of wear already. I love it. 

Sunday 6 September 2015

A leafy Salme flounce

OK, so I'm two months late in blogging about this dress and even though Mel gave you a taster, I still didn't get the post written. Sorry, not sorry. Life is life and sometimes it just takes you by surprise.

And so, for Indie Pattern Month, The Monthly Stitch did a pattern swap/round robin. Another member of The Monthly Stitch Collective was given my details and they would buy me a pattern from an Indie Pattern company I'd never used before, I in turn would buy patterns for someone else. I received both a PDF and packaged pattern. This is the PDF pattern. It's the flounced dress from Salme, something I'd never ever thought of buying. It's obvious that others see more in patterns than I do!

I made up the muslin of the bodice quite quickly, but it needed some alterations and by the time I'd fixed it, and made those alterations, it was way past New To Me week of IPM. I did actually finish the dress in time for the catch up week at the end of July, but getting around to writing the blog post - yeah well. I've made far to many excuses and I really don't need to.

The fabric I bought from the Fabric Warehouse here in Wellington some time ago. It was bought with the intention of making a Pauline Alice Alameda dress, but when I received this pattern, this fabric was just perfect. The Alameda will need to wait and can be made in something else. :-) 

So the muslin, the bust darts were too high (this is usual) and the hips were too tight. So I moved the darts down, about an inch and a quarter. Seriously they were really high up. For the hips I think I initially added about two and a half inches, but took this in once I'd made up the bodice and tried it on.

This is where I deviated from the instructions. The skirt is a circle skirt and the instructions say to attach the front skirt to the front bodice and the same to the back. Then to sew up the side seams. I made up the bodice, took in the side seams around the hip, then cut the skirt pieces after. So I stitched the side seams on the skirt and attached the skirt to the bodice that way.

The skirt hem is actually finished on the machine. I love deep hand-stitched hems, but on a short circle skirt they just don't work. It was easier to add a short hem and machine sew it. All other seams have been finished on my overlocker.

So this is my first Salme pattern and although I had a couple of fitting issues (to be expected) I really enjoyed the make. The pattern and instructions were clear and easy to follow. There were pictures to keep me happy. Admittedly it's not really a difficult make, but even so, I felt it was clear and easy to follow.

The details
Fabric:  Linen with orange leaves from Fabric Warehouse, I think bought at the end of January 2015. I used a fine white cotton for the facings.
Notions:  Thread and an invisible zip.


Pattern:  Salme Flounced Hem dress # 156
Changes made:  The bust darts were shifted own by about an inch an a half and the hips graded out by about half inch each side altogether.
First worn:  For afternoon tea with a view at One80 (a hotel restaurant) with Mel, Kat and Jenna ( as a possibly unimpressed young Fox!) Photos here after across the road at the boat sheds.

Another one/recommendations:  I certainly recommend the pattern. The dress is a great make and really easy to wear. I don't know if I'll make another - too many other fab patterns to make up. But I am certainly happy with the dress. I feels really girlie, but it's great for wearing out to dinner, there's room to eat! :-) 


As usual when a friend takes your photos there are always some which wouldn't normally make it to a bog post :-)