Category Archives: My house

The Great WSBN Sewing Room Tour

Yikes. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but all of a sudden pretty much all the members of the WSBN (Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network) have been convinced to give ‘tours’ of our sewing rooms! Including me. *gulp*

The idea came courtesy of Gemma, who somehow managed to sell it to us all as a way to beat the ‘winter slump’. Yeah. Seemed like a good idea at the time. And then I had to take photos. Which I am horribly embarrassed to show, but in the interests of full disclosure, here we go…..

(Can I pretty please add a disclaimer? My sewing corner is in worse state than usual, due to all the crazy sewing I’ve been doing getting the Jenna Cardi ready for release.) (Although to be completely honest, it’s usually pretty bad anyway. Because I’d far rather sew than tidy up. Hah! *sigh*)

Firstly, meet my sewing corner. This is a corner of my bedroom. (Yes, I do live with my partner, despite the complete lack of anything showing any signs of his existance in the bedroom. He has a man-cave upstairs, complete with multiple computers and skateboards to assist in him expresssing his inner geek.) The desk came from the op shop down the road – I dragged it home when I found it, as it’s so nice and wide, it’s good for cutting fabric on. (If it’s ever cleared off. Which is never these days, hence why I take over the dining table for fabric cutting. Or my drafting table. Hah. Yes, I sometimes am using three tables in the house at once. Greedy, me? ;-)


The desk is a bit low for me though, so my partner jacked it up a bit with some pieces of wood. On the desk lives an assortment of things – usually whatever project I’m working on, my sewing machine and overlocker, and some other assorted sewing paraphanalia such as tailors chalk and a chopstick for turning corners (I do have a point turner. It’s on that desk somewhere. I haven’t been able to find it for a couple of months now….) To borrow Joy’s description, the rest is somewhat ‘tidal’ – various paperwork that needs to be dealt with migrates it’s way here, to languish until I feel guilty enough for neglecting it that I actually do something about it. In the meantime, those piles get transferred to the bed when I want to sew, and back to the sewing table again when I want to sleep. And the other piles on there? Well, let’s just say – the Little Guy is nearly two, and very curious. Things often need to be lifted out of reach suddenly. Which is why the rubbish bin is balanced on my sewing desk, instead of on the floor where it should live.

On the desk, live my two girls – both Elna’s. I got the sewing machine for my 20th birthday (I think?) and saved up for the overlocker (it’s a four-thread, coverstitch-cabable machine – woo hoo!) in my early 20’s and went halves on it with my mother for another birthday. I love these machines – we’ve done a lot together, we have. (Shame they don’t hug back very well….)


Over the side you can see some of my sewing books, all lined up, with a current project-thats-on-hold sitting on top of them. Under the desk is a set of drawers containing my basic self-drafted pattern blocks, buttons, lace, and ribbon. And some boxes stacked next to those containing things like elastic and bias binding. The box on top of the drawers next to the desk holds my sewing cottons and overlocking threads (it used to be a  lot more square and with a lid, pre-Little Guy) – the cottons are grouped into plastic bags by colour, like so:


I kinda have a large stash. It’s dotted all over the house – some in the cupboard under the stairs, a whole lot in the spare bedroom upstairs (which I’m currently trying to figure out what to do with, as it’s taking up a large part of that room and we need to convert the room into a bedroom for the Little Guy pretty soon, since the Next Little One is on it’s way – eek!), and in various corners of my bedroom. I’ve got a wall of storage crates at the end of the bed, giving a nice visual separation between the ‘sewing space’ and the ‘sleeping space’ (or at least that’s what I tell myself, haha!), with fabric in all of them and a throw over the top to make them look a bit tidier. (And to accidently give me somewhere else to put random stuff that’s looking for a home. Seriously, my life is kinda like me vs. ‘stuff’. And the stuff usually wins. Argh!)


There are vintage suitcases filled of fabric, with tags on them saying what’s inside. (I do love me some vintage suitcases.)


One of the bedside tables is actually a 1970’s cabinet, filled with fabric and patterns.


Each of those boxes on the top shelf is filled with patterns, stored in plastic zip-lock bags, and grouped by era – pre-New Look, New Look, late 1950’s – 1960’s. (The 1970’s patterns are in a box on top of a bookcase in the spare room. Others are stored all over the place, waiting to be categorised.)


In the wardrobe, about 1/3 of the shelves have been taken over with sewing storage – fabric, lining and interfacing, and patterns. (Yes, I own a lot of Papercut patterns. They make me happy, as they tend to fit me really well and the amount of thought that’s gone into the overall package fills my heart with joy – I’m a sucker for well thought out experiences. It kinda goes with the territory for what I do for a job.) The pile of papers under the fabric on the bottom shelf are PDF patterns that are all printed out and in clear files.


Gemma, instigator of this embarrasing sewing room round-up, also challenged us to answer a few other questions in our blog posts. So, here goes….

What I’m working on at the moment.

I could show you, but then I’d have to kill you.

Well, not really. But since my current work-in-progress happens to be my next pattern for Muse, it’s kinda secret. Sorry! Hopefully I’ll get to show it to you in about a month. ;-)

Instead, let’s move on to the next projects I have planned, once I’ve finished sewing up a bunch of samples.

Firstly, the Meissa blouse from Papercut. I started this back in June for Indie Pattern Month, and it got put on hold. I really wanna get it finished! I’m making it in a coral coloured, fine, cotton-silk blend with a subtle textured stripe going through it.


The top from this vintage maternity pattern (thanks, Anne!) has been calling out to me to be made. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to make it up in, but this navy with white polka dots keeps coming to mind when I think about it.


And the Dakota dress from Named, for Frocktober over on The Monthly Stitch. I’m really looking forward to this one – I think with the deep vee neck and the looser fitting waist, it should be good for when the Next Little One arrives. I haven’t figured out yet what I’m going to make it in, but it’ll be some summer-suitable fabric, and I’ll cut the sleeves back and make them short instead.

(Also, this is what happens when I attempt to take photos of sewing things. Cameras are very interesting things, apparently.)


In theory I’m meant to show you some of my favourites from my stash, but this post is getting kinda long, so instead I’ll just show off this length of gorgeous sequin-covered silk chiffon that I bought in a Karen Walker designer fabric sale a few years back. It terrifies me, so it’s been turned into a wall hanging instead.


Want to see inside some of the sewing rooms of the other WSBN girls? So far on the tour we’ve seen the spaces of Gemma, Juliet, Nikki, Sophie-Lee, Sandra, and Laura. Between us all, we’ve pretty much got the month covered with a tour happening every day. Crazy, but true!

How about you? Are any of you brave enough to show your space in all it’s glory/chaos?

A lot of things can be destroyed in a week….

So, we’re now just over one week into the renovations I’m doing on my house. The house is chaos – stuff in boxes everywhere, and a lovely layer of dust in many areas from the builders carting bricks and timber and all sorts of other things through the house to the skip bins out the front and back doors. I’m trying to pretend the dust isn’t there – not much point in sweeping it up in the evening when it’ll appear again immediately once they start work the next day. I’m looking forward to doing a huge clean of the house once the removing-of-old-parts is over and there isn’t much more dust to appear!

They’ve done a lot in the past week – it’s going faster than I expected, actually! (Although since I’ve never done any renovations before, I didn’t really know what to expect other than everyone telling me it’ll take longer and cost more than I’d planned.) Here’s a brief summary of what’s been done so far, with some key photos from along the way….

They’ve taken down the chimney and covered over where it was.

Chimney - one third left

Chimney - one third left

Chimney - all gone

Chimney - all gone

They’ve uncovered the old brick fireplace in my bedroom, and removed it.

The walled-over fireplace in my room, before renovations

The walled-over fireplace in my room, before renovations

My room - fireplace revealed from behind the wall

My room - fireplace revealed from behind the wall

Front bedroom walled-over fireplace revealed from behind the brick fireplace

Front bedroom walled-over fireplace revealed from behind the brick fireplace

No more fireplaces

No more fireplaces

And they’ve taken off the coverings and the sarking on the walls in my room, all ready to put in insulation.

My bedbroom walls before renovations

My bedroom walls before renovations

My bedroom walls, laid bare for insulation

My bedroom walls, laid bare for insulation

The builders are back on the job tomorrow, so we’re getting ready for some more destruction! Next things that are being done – taking the wet walls off from around the shower to fix the broken mixer; removing the wall between the two downstairs bedrooms in preparation for putting in the walk-in wardrobes; replacing one of the upstairs windows with a timber-framed double-glazed window (since the one in there at the moment isn’t suitable for the room and doesn’t open).

Let the chaos begin…..

It’s official – my very first attempt at home renovations is about to begin! And I admit it – I’m slightly scared…..

For those who don’t know, I bought myself a lovely old house about a year and a half ago. The original section of it dates from the 1890’s or thereabouts (no one knows for sure) and it’s been added onto at various times (once again, no one quite knows when). So it’s a bit of a hodge-podge, sprawling cottage. Which gives it lots of character, in my opinion. :-)

However, it has four main issues with it, all of which I intend to deal with.

The first issue is – it’s all white! All of it!!! (Well, except the bathroom walls, which are a pale lemon yellow.) Every single other wall in this house is painted off white. Including the outside walls. And as anyone who knows me will tell you – I’m far more of a colour girl. I’ve actually become accustomed to the off-white walls in the hallway, lounge and kitchen (for two reasons – they’re great for hanging artwork, and my purple lounge suite looks fab against them. Woo hoo!), but the rest of the place is, well, bland. Or I think it is, anyway. Especially my bedroom. (I’ve even had friends tell me they were surprised the first time they went into my room and saw white walls.) So, clearly some more colour needs to be added!

The second issue is one common to pretty much all old, wooden houses in New Zealand. They aren’t insulated. Crazy, but true. Brrrrr! So, that also needs to be changed!

The third issue is the chimney. The cottage used to have a back-to-back fireplace in the wall of two of the bedrooms, which has been completely boarded over. However, the brick chimney is still raised up proudly a good 1.5 metres above the roof. And Wellington is in quite a major earthquake zone, so having a chimney looming over two of the bedrooms makes me nervous. Very nervous at times.

The fourth issue is the kitchen. Half 1980’s, half 1950’s, it’s an impractical mess. So much room for bench space, and someone (or a succession of past-owner-someones) has done a variety of odd things resulting in virtually no bench space. Not ideal for someone who likes to bake!

So, I’ve been a good little girl and been saving my pennies, and I’m about to get my first lot of fixes done! Exciting!

Since some of them require quite a bit of technical skill, I’ve gone with the safe (although admittedly less fun) option and hired someone to take care of it all for me. They were around today to put up the scaffolding, and the work starts on Wednesday.

So, what am I getting done first? (Not all of it, sadly, as my budget doesn’t extend anywhere near that far!) It’s focused around the two downstairs bedrooms to begin with. That scary looming chimney is coming down, the walled-over fireplaces are being taken out and nice, big, walk-in wardrobes are being added. (More storage space! More space for fabric! Yippieeeeee!!!!) The ceiling in my room is getting insulated, as are the two outside walls, and both rooms are getting painted. My room will be a nice, sunny yellow and the front bedroom (where my flatmate Sam lives at the moment) will be a deep, bright green.

All quite exciting stuff, really. :-) I’m rather looking forward to seeing the end result, especially with the warmer, more colourful rooms with the added storage!

However, the amount of work being done in my room means I somehow have to move everything out of there. And I mean *everything*. Which is quite a bit, since my bedroom is also my sewing room. Naturally, the first priority is finding a new home for my sewing machines for 2-3 weeks, as I go a bit stir-crazy when I’m separated from them for too long!

The sewing must go on, even if the house is in complete and utter chaos!!!!

Ugly Duckling houses

I’m feeling somewhat grown-up (well, it’s actually more that I feel like playing grown-ups than actually feeling like I *am* grown up). Which means that I am doing the grown-up type thing of house hunting. Yay!! Very very exciting. :-) It’s kinda like the grown-up version of playing with dolls houses, I reckon. And heaps of fun! :-)

I’ve been looking around for the past month now. Seen some lovely places, seen some not-so-lovely places. I’ve discovered that I tend to always gravitate towards places built in the early 1900’s (or even earlier, in the case of the utterly gorgeous 150-year-old orange-with-purple-trim little farm cottage that I put my very first offer in on. And sadly missed out on. :-( But that’s ok, coz I am of the opinion that there is always going to be something better around the corner if you miss out on a house. And besides, the kitchen was really just far too tiny. So.).

Spotted a house online last weekend, and went to have a look at it on Monday. Liked it enough, my lovely friend Teresa has helped me out by checking out the title for me (not only a lovely person, but a lovely person who knows stuff about property law, which is rather awesome at times like this). Went back and had a second look around it today. Have decided that I’m gonna get a builders report done, have a chat to a solicitor, and put an offer in when the tender comes up in early June. Fingers crossed I get it, coz I rather likes it!!

It’s very much an ugly-duckling cottage, though. Two bedrooms, built pre-1914. Looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 1960’s or 70’s. The kitchen has retro green-yellow-and-orange floral wallpaper, and fake wood veneer on the cupboard doors. Hideous combination. (Although I’m planning on keeping the wallpaper, coz I rather like it. Typical.) The bathroom is particularly stunning in it’s retro styles – blue bath, blue sink, blue-green-white floral wallpaper, and even a blue toilet! (Yep, also gonna keep most of that the same.)

The outside, though, is rather hideous. Looks like a faded blue-grey box in need of a paint job. In memory of the cottage I missed out on, if I get this place, I am seriously considering painting the outside a sunny yellow-orange, with plum coloured trim. And putting window boxes on the front windows. Yay!!

(Needless to say, it seems that ugly-duckling houses capture my imagination rather well. Figure. This probably says quite a lot about my personality, and why I never seem to have any free time….)

Anyways, stay tuned to see the outcome….!