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T.G.I.F. + More Croquis

20 Jan

Just wanted to pop in to say hi and a humongous thank you for all the encouragement too. Things have been plenty better this week with several interviews. The positions are mostly a step down from what I was doing but with good companies so keep your fingers crossed. Unfortunately, the whole process has kept me off the internet for the most part but here are a couple of things entertaining me this week:

Personalised croquis are popping up all over – I think the Colette Sewing Handbook was a popular present this Christmas! The one above is from one of my favourite new discoveries – Shona Stitches.

And Lauren from Lladybird has a great tutorial for creating a digital version.

Other Mini-versions of your favourite bloggers:


{source} Handmade Mess

  • Handmade Mess has a hilarious pictorial description of the trials of making your own wardrobe.


  • Bernie and I makes great Detail Inspiration posts like the collars one above.

I’m off to the Crafters Ceilidh first thing tomorrow so it’s early to bed with me. I’ll leave you with this gorgeous sunrise at my Aunty’s place north of Auckland and the playlist I’ve been listening to all week. Have a peaceful weekend and if you’re off to Edinburgh too – See You Soon!

Breathe Me from Shannonigans37 on 8tracks.


Personal Post

10 Jan

I almost accidently uploaded my CV instead of an image, which is why I’m taking a wee break.

Hey guys,

The job hunting situation in London has me a little consumed at the moment so I’m going to take a blogging break for a couple of weeks. I appreciate all the support you guys give me and I didn’t want to just drop off the face of the earth. Hopefully I can manage a post here or there and I’ll be checking in on twitter but I need to be head down, bum up right now or there’ll be no money for sewing at all.

xo Alana

T.G.I.F + Foreign Language Blogs

6 Jan

And what a Friday it has been! I’ve spent a lovely day on Goldhawk Road with Handmade Jane, Su-Sews-So-So and Myfabrication and as per usual I forgot to bring a camera. Question: if there are no images of the purchases made, do they really count?

Meanwhile, here’s another question for you:

Do you read sewing blogs in  languages you don’t speak?

It may just be my Fear of Missing Out (FOMO if you will) talking but I feel like there’s a whole lot of sewing action I’m missing out on. Plus, when you use Google Translate to decipher them, it has it’s own entertainment value ( no really, try reading the garment descriptions on

Here are some that I have stumbled across: Lesno Marchewkowej in Polish

Can you believe this is the same coat as the one on the cover of the December Burda Magazine?

pachi-pachi in French.

Madame Palagie in Greek.

And finally, because I am un-employed, I have time to scour the internet just for you*. Here are my favourite things this week.

"Make it work!* (*After you have lost an arbitrary amount of weight.)" - Caption from Lesley @

  • “Criticizing Tim Gunn is like calling Kermit the Frog an asshole: Not only is nobody going to take your side, the odds are good that many people will be actively offended by your sharing this minority opinion.” From My Big Fat Problem with Tim Gunn on xoJane. Keep reading down to the comments because there’s some interesting discussions going on.
  • “There were all sorts of choices, of course. I could buy thongs, hipsters, bikinis, and even something called a cheeky panty. (That last, I can only guess is some sort of insolent, but loveable, undergarment. Perhaps it has Oscar Wilde quotes on the tag?)” From The Case of the Tiny Knickers on A Confederacy of Spinsters.
  • “I was pondering why an old story about a delicate, emotional, drug addled actress from the 50s is so much more romantic than hearing about a supermodel hitting the runway with half a bag of coke littered around her nose. Easy. Photographic evidence. “ From How the Internet Has Taken the Glamour Out of Behaving Badly on Smaggle.
  •  “Resist the urge to over-design: Chevron squiggles and textures and shadowed fonts, oh my!  Once you discover the wonderful world of templates and photo editing it can be a slippery slope down to this.  Resist the urge, my friends!  You are stronger than the gif!” From Making Your Blog Look Like A Million Bucks on Yes and Yes. Guilty as charged, especially while I’m working on the move to my .com address. I need this tattooed on my hand.

*No way near as glamorous as it sounds. 

Victory Patterns Follow-Up

5 Jan

This post proved mighty popular so I thought you might be interested (if you haven’t seen it already!) …

Gorgeous Anna from Paunnet has an interview with Kristiann from Victory Patterns.

Hopes for 2012, Baby!

1 Jan

I know, don’t I look all festive and celebratory?

In actual fact, I’m having a quiet new years more along these lines but I hope whatever you’re doing you are having a lovely time!

2011 was a bit of a write-off for me personally, the first 6 moths were spent working extremely hard and reaching the decision to leave the company I had spent all my adult working life with. The last 6 months were spent relocating from New Zealand to the other side of the world and reconnecting with family.

For 2012 I don’t have any big plans other than settling into a comfortable routine, starting with a job. I’m rather out of practice with the whole job hunting process so it’s a steep learning curve (not to mention the fact that I hate trying to sell myself) but, in order to make this London thing work, it’s a necessity. My background is in hospitality Training and Development and if I can find a position in a company with a solid positive work culture I’d love to continue doing that but if not I’m happy to find something else. All I want is an engaging job, paying enough to cover rent, bills, and fabric, and most importantly for me – working with and for good people. Hopefully it isn’t a pipe dream.

This is also the year I turn 30, if I’m happy, calm and content at the end of it, it will have been a good one.

Sewing wise I have bigger plans. I feel like I coasted a bit this year and didn’t really go out of the way to learn or progress my skills; this year I’d like to focus on challenging myself more.

  • Move to Last year I purchased my own domain name (how grown-up!) and I want to have moved to the new address by the end of February. The hold up is that I’m determined to teach myself html/css so I can design it myself, which ties in nicely with my belief that the internet can teach me anything. It’s actually really fun and I’m using a series of online tutorials called Don’t Fear the Internet as well as resources from Pugly Pixel.

Don’t Fear HTML from Jessica Hische on Vimeo.

  • Fit a perfect sloper: For Christmas this year, I finally got my hands on Palmer/Pletsch’s Fit for Real People from Mum + Dad. Their Full Busted DVD is one of my favourite resources and this book has a lot of love in the sewing community. The graphic design may be dated but the content is irresistible so much so that I can’t imagine sewing anything else until I make the fitting shell I’ve had in my stash for the last 6 months.

  • Take a pattern drafting course/Buy a mannequin: After drafting a few Sorbetto variations, I’d really like to learn more about pattern-making. Tilly and Suzy have both used courses with the London College of Fashion and that’s all the endorsement I need. So, provided I’m in a position financially, I’d like to do at least one course. Also related and reliant on moolah, is the hope to attain a dress form.

  • Make a pair of jeans + a winter coat: I want to up my skill level by tackling some of the techniques and garments I’ve been putting off for most of the time I’ve been sewing. Namely, fly-front pants, bound button holes, and bagged lining. All of which are used to make two wardrobe essentials – jeans and a winter coat. In the BMV sale, I’ve ordered a McCall’s Palmer/Pletsch jeans pattern and Simplicity 2508.

  • Sew more vintage patterns/Create side project: After making my first dress from a Vintage Pattern a few weeks back, I’m determined to make more use of vintage patterns in 2012. This ties in too, to a little monthly side project I have in the works. It sounds very secret squirrel but it’s not –  I’m just working on the details still so watch this space.
  • Attend V&A talks: Mela has written a couple of great posts on expat guilt on her Sifting Through blog and I can appreciate where she’s coming from. I often feel guilty about not making the most of London and I’m in a city where I don’t really know anyone – making new friends as an adult is challenging, y’all! It makes me miss my friends back home even more. I think the answer is just to say yes to as many opportunities as you can – you never know what will happen. One of those things is to attend more of the museum events that London specialises in. In particular the V&A often has talks by well-known fashion designers so I’d love to catch one of these.

Balenciaga: The Work of a Master - V&A, 19:00, Jan 23 2012

  • Buy better quality fabrics: My secret shame is the amount of polyester in my wardrobe. Being in a big city provides access to better quality materials at a range of prices so I’d like to step up the quality of the fabrics I’m using.
  • Have a go at some “advanced” patterns: I feel like I was more fearless when I first started sewing – I made a boned corset top for my 6th form school ball – and I scoffed at pattern difficulty ratings. Now I worry about making  mistakes and wasting fabric instead of just having a go so I have a couple of designer Vogue patterns heading my way.
  • Utilise more pins from Pinterest: Lastly, something I’m sure anyone on pinterest is guilty of , I’d like to make better use of the inspiration photos pinned to my boards. It’s so easy to put them there and forget about it, but maybe once every 2-3 months a pinterest challenge wouldn’t be a bad thing.

A little Erdem from my pinterest board

Heres to a exciting and rewarding year!

Pattern Purchase Decision-making for Nerds

29 Dec

It’s just too easy to get caught up in the razzle-dazzle excitement of pattern shopping in a sale. So, in an effort to keep myself on track whilst narrowing down my choices in the big 4 sales today I found myself running through the same questions over and over.

Being the nerd that I am, here they are on a flow chart:

Here’s how it works for me.

  • It supports my sewing goals for the year (more on that tomorrow)
  • It keeps me focussed on what I need
  • Helps avoid those impulse purchases

And here’s some examples in action:

McCall’s 6519: This one ticked all the boxes and was first in the cart.

McCall’s 6511: This is an example of where I got distracted by the fabric. Realistically, just trying to find that many different types of jersey would drive me nuts so this was a no buy.

McCall’s 6506: I love this dress but realistically I think I’d enjoy the challenge of trying to draft this myself.

Gertie’s Bombshell Dress: Craftsy had the course on sale, I didn’t have a similar pattern, Gertie’s fabric choices were stunning but that wasn’t the main draw. I don’t really have anywhere to wear a bombshell dress, but, I know I’ll learn so much from making the dress and Gertie’s tutorials so I bought it.

How do you decide?

If you’re nerdy like me you can get a pdf of the flow chart here.

2011 Reflections

23 Dec

End to another crazy year and time for some silly reflection!

Here are a few statistics and superlatives.

Whether it’s people looking for fancy dress costumes or the popularity of Simplicity 2692, The Mermaid Dress was the most viewed post for the second year in a row.

The piece I’ve worn to death over the summer has been this Sloppy Striped Sorbetto. With leggings around the house or with skinny jeans and a cardigan something about those black and white stripes just works with everything.

Speaking of Colette Pattern’s Sorbetto… here’s 5 more. Definitely my most used pattern. I loved the opportunity to experiment with pattern alterations off of the basic block.

The post with the most comments was this experiment in drawing a personalised croquis from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I’m really interested in seeing who else has done this exercise – maybe we can start a croquis gallery (maybe anonymous if preferred). It could be linked with different fitting adjustments, e.g. different examples of sway back. Just throwing it out there.

Hmm, I’m not sure which random google algorithm lead the most amount of people here using the term “elbise çizimleri”. Google translate tells me it is Turkish for “dress drawing”, so hoşgeldiniz to any readers from Turkey.  Interestingly also in the top 10 are kıyafet çizimleri (costume drawing), dress drawings, drawings of dresses.

523 people found their way onto this post via wordpress and were bitterly dissapointed to find a post on Burda Magazine’s questionable styling after I accidentally used the term n * k e d lady.

I was absent for the first few months of the year due to travel for work and procrastination over sorting a proper sewing space. However, one good thing that came out of it is this tutorial on how to re-cover an office chair.

In which I talk on video (Pendrell Blouse Part one + two)

Ugghh, no one should ever watch themselves on video.

The most incoming links this year came from the superb Snug Bug. Here’s a big bouquet to say thanks, Patty!

Thank You flowers to Amy from Sewing Through the Motions and Karen from Did You Make That? for the vintage patterns and lucky dip I won in your give-aways this year.

My absolute favourite sewing moments this year have been meeting up with lots of lovely ladies for cocktails, shopping and, of course, stitching. It’s been just awesome.

So there it is 2011, done and dusted. Here’s to a smoother 2012!


First Column (top to bottom): 2 Double-knit Jennys, Brumby-Blue Dress, Sew Grateful Dress, White Lace Tee.

Second Column (top to bottom): Sunshine Blouse (fail), Christmas Macaron, Colour-blocked Blouse.

Third Column (top to bottom): Floral Skirt, Liberty Tee, Minoru Sweater Dress.

Fourth Column (top to bottom): Pendrell, Silk Sorbetto, English Summer Sorbetto.

Last Column (top to bottom): Colette Rooibos, Striped Sorbetto, Ugly Pants.

2010 Round-Up.

Lastly but by far not leastly, thanks to all of you for your support this year!