Chataigne shorts for a tall lady

Guys, it's summer! 

All of a sudden (read: for the last two months), I'm living in this weird, alternate universe known as New Zealand where Christmas means barbecue, and December means sunburn. As someone who has forever bemoaned her December birthday, these are exciting times.

One of the many great things about my latest life transition is how many miles I can get out of my summer wardrobe this year. Like these Deer and Doe Chataigne shorts that I finished back in the Canadian spring.   

I made these after I sadly had to put my favourite pair of black high waisted shorts down. I'm pretty sure I replaced the zipper in those shorts at least three times! I had been looking for the right shorts sewing pattern for a long time. In fact, I have a pair of Colette patterns Iris shorts that I completely finished and never wore once!

What I like about these shorts is that they look great with tights, but you could still wear them with bare legs in the summer (as long as you shave your legs all the way up. These babies are short!). I also love the tiny pleats below the waistline. I think this garment has a couple little design details that allow for maximum cuteness, and I'd like to try the scalloped hem version if I make these again. So many cute details! 

This is the thing with Deer and Doe patterns. Everything looks cute as hell, until you go to make them. I've made a couple of their patterns, and I often find myself shaking my head at the way things are constructed or explained. After I made the Reglisse dress, I had lots of people coming to me for advice with theirs because they couldn't make sense of the pattern. 

In making these, I added about an inch to the waist of version A to make them higher-waisted. If you've had a look at the pattern, you're probably wondering why I didn't just make the high-waisted version of these shorts. The reason is this: the high-waisted version of these shorts is freaky. I am a big fan of high-waisted garments, but I think they got carried away with this one and the result is super weird to me. And, I don't know why you would have a sample garment on your website that is not photographed from the front, but that also seems like a bad sign!

Did you expect this to be a rant about shorts? Neither did I. 

Anyway, weirdness aside, I think I would still make these shorts again, with modifications. They are a touch too big in the waist, which is something I always find annoying to fix with side-zippered garments. I will reiterate that these shorts are mighty short, so if you're shy about these things, you might want to increase the length a bit. 

A series of Alders

When I fall in love, I fall hard. Such has been the case in my relationship with Grainline Studio's Alder Shirtdress pattern. I made my first Alder last summer shortly after the pattern was released, and I've been making it rain shirtdresses ever since.


What I love about this pattern is that it's the perfect trifecta of fashion forward, fancy, and comfortable. I've worn it traipsing around the sweaty streets of New York City, and I've worn it to job interviews. I can rock it with jeans; I can rock it with a pencil skirt; I can rock it with leggings. (Note: Some combination of the curved hem and my very long legs makes this not that suitable as a standalone dress. I really tried.) I've stopped keeping track, but I feel confident that I've received a compliment on my outfit almost every time I've worn an Alder out in the world.  

Without further ado.... 


I made my first Alder out of Robert Kaufman Essex in Olive. I could write an entire blog post on the many great things I've done and want to do with Essex, so I'll just say that I really like the look of this top in chambray. A small challenge I've had with this one is that the stiffness of this fabric isn't great for an interfaced collar. If you're making an Alder from Essex, I might suggest skipping the interfacing on the collar and placket. 


My second Alder is extra special, because I made it from fabric that I dyed myself. I was lucky enough to get access to an indigo vat at the workroom, which has resulted in this great shirt, and also about a hundred pairs of indigo underwear.  I found the very perfect buttons from the workroom's button dept., which I thank the vintage gods for every time I put this thing on.  

This is one of my favourite pieces of clothing.

Photo taken on National Matching Dress and Water Bottle Day, with the loveliest Lizzy House. Clearly, no irons were used in the making of this photo. 

Photo taken on National Matching Dress and Water Bottle Day, with the loveliest Lizzy House. Clearly, no irons were used in the making of this photo. 

My Alder fever doesn't stop there. I also made one from nani IRO painter's check. I put a lot of thought into the cutting with this one, to make the most of the ombre effect of the fabric. I love how this print has random bits of blue check scattered about, and I used as many of those bits--on the yoke, on the skirt--as I could. 

This one also has the benefit of being the coziest, because it's made out of double gauze. The nature of the fabric also means that this one fits a bit differently than the others, and I'm okay with that. I'm not sure why this is the one I have the least photos of, because I think I wear it once a week.

Most recently, I decided to make the Alder as a shirt. I wanted a simple sleeveless top in a chambray that would be really easy to wear. Since I already knew how the Alder would fit, and it is one of exactly three sewing patterns I brought with me to New Zealand, it seemed like an obvious choice. I can already tell that this garment is gonna be one of those, "will anyone notice if I wear it two days in a row?" situations. 

To make this into a shirt, I retraced the pattern from View A. I got a bit creative with where the hem should fall, and how curved it should be. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but I might make it a bit more A lined, and with a more dramatic curve if I made another shirt version. I debated over whether to include the pockets (how nice it is to have flatmates who are available for second opinions on my sewing projects now!), but in the end I (we) decided that they are a design detail that I really like, so they got to stay!

Modifications: after all these versions and a wardrobe malfunction or two, I've finally learned my lesson and added a bit to the bust. If I was going to try and wear this as a standalone dress, I might try a straight hem, but after much consideration, I've decided that modification messes too much with the original pattern, and is not for me! 

Erin's first New Zealand sewing date!

So, I guess I live in New Zealand now. That feels weird to say, but I'm working on it. 

I'll save my thoughts on that for another day (or maybe never), but I will say that I'm making new friends and they are all either animals, or ladies who sew. Moving to a new country, where I knew almost no one, you can imagine how excited I was to make a new human friend! 

This is Adrianne. She not only sews cool things, but she explains things to me that are not obvious to my Canadian brain. Today, she told me how to use area codes when making phone calls! And, this weekend, Adrianne and I got together for my first New Zealand sewing date. I'm still super sad about leaving my Bernina and my stash (and obviously my peeps) behind, but I'm working through it. We stayed indoors on a not-that-common Wellington sunny day this weekend and made Colette patterns' Moneta dresses.

Here's mine:

Moneta dress, version 2.

Moneta dress, version 2.

As you may recall, I already have a Moneta dress in my wardrobe (actually, it's in a box in my mother's basement). But, I think with cozy, knit dresses, you can always stand to have more. And, I had to leave most of my clothes behind when I left home, so I am running out of things to wear. Sad face. 

I decided to go with sleeves this time. But, since I'm never one to leave a pattern unmodified, I lengthened the sleeves by three inches. I could've gone for another half inch, I think. After looking at approximately one thousand Monetas online, I also decided to lengthen the skirt by six inches to go for more of a midi length. I'm really happy with the length. The fabric I used was some Marc Jacobs jersey that I got at The Fabric Store, and I basically want to sleep in it because it's so comfortable. I'm mostly kidding. (She's kidding, right?) You can read about Adrianne's Moneta on her blog

The ladies of Wellington have been kind enough to offer me their guest rooms, and invite me along to quilt guild meetings and even another sewing date next month. What's that thing about quilters having friends wherever they go?