On the move…

Hi all,

Just popping in after a month long hiatus. Nearest the pin is on the move – woo hoooo!! Our new home is at nearestthepin.com.au – hope to see your there (or more correctly, I hope Blogloving and/or WordPress will automatically take you there…… soon……when I have something new to show you…….I’m working on it……..)

Thanks so much for all your support and sweet comments, it’s been such a fun year and I can’t wait to get back into the sewing/blogging swing. I’ve missed it this last month and I’ve missed you guys🙂

Renee x


Selfish Sewing Week: Belcarra Blouse

Argh! Selfish Sewing Week was last week – yes I realise! I did sew this top last week, I just couldn’t manage to get it photographed and blogged until today.

It’s the Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse – a pretty straightforward raglan sleeve top for woven fabrics. I used rayon for this version – I’m a big rayon fan, it’s not difficult to sew with, feels nice to wear and is easy to look after.

Belcarra 2

Belcarra 4

I made a few small changes to the pattern. I left off the sleeve cuff that comes with the pattern and instead used my narrow hem foot to finish. The pattern calls for a deep hem, but given my height (5’10”), I used a smaller 2cm hem. I also added about 3cms in length to the pattern when I cut it out – just to make sure it wouldn’t be too short.

This is a size 8 graded out to a 10 at the hips. I could have gone more fitted than this and I may do in future, especially for work tops. The floral fabric in this top makes it casual or dressy, so I think the looser fit is ok. There is a great sew-along on the Sewaholic website, including options to narrow the neckline if you don’t want to be worrying about your bra straps peeping out. If I was making this top purely for work, I think I would definitely go that route.

Belcarra 1

Belcarra 3

I love this fabric sooooo much! In fact I may have gone back to the fabric store and bought the rest of the bolt (another 3.5m). A whole wardrobe of floral on navy….. why not??!

Some outtakes with my trusty assistant.

Belcarra 7

Belcarra 5


Did you manage to blitz Selfish Sewing Week? I hope yours was more productive than mine!


Make It Perfect Joey Dress

I tested a fantastic new pattern recently – you may have seen a few popping up in blog land, it’s the Joey dress by Make It Perfect.



The Joey Dress is a super comfy (so Miss A tells me) and super easy to put together knit dress. The cute kangaroo pocket is a big hit and I love how the ribbing adds a pop of colour.

This cute little pocket, for keeping little hands warm and storing dandelions. Embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t know, until I started reading sewing blogs, that this pocket was called a kangaroo pocket. And I live in Australia….

is it just me? is this a term that is more common in the US than here? Aussies – help me out here?!!?

Ha ha, anyway, cute pocket🙂



I used a knit with a small wool percentage for the dress, so it’s great for the cooler weather. It also has great layering potential. Having said that, the pattern also has a short sleeve option and this, paired with a lighter knit, would make a fantastic warm weather version. For proof, check out Teresa’s cute Joey dress.

Toni’s kids patterns come in two size ranges 0-5 years and 6-10 years. This is the first kids pattern of hers that I have made. I found the layout and instructions to be up there with the best of them. I sent about one line of feedback during the test – not because I’m a lazy tester, I was doing my best to find issues, but seriously, there were hardly any. This lady knows how to put a pattern together.

I love the simplicity of the pattern – it’s super quick and would make a great beginner project.



Spring has arrived here in Australia and it was so great to be able to get out and about again for photos

and to make some wishes😉

Around the World Blog Hop

My sewing buddy Jenya invited me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. It’s a fun way to get to know each other a bit better and hopefully find some great new blogs to follow too.  I’ve invited two of my favourite international bloggers to join the blog hop – read on to see who they are. Nearest the Pin is turning one and I have to say, it’s been a blast! Starting a blog is scary – putting yourself out there is scary. Being part of a community is great though, especially when your hobby involves long periods of sitting by yourself late at night.

The blog hop challenge, involves a few questions, so read on friends.

What am I working on?

Currently I’m working on a blog re-vamp. It’s exciting, but also a challenge as I’m not the most tech savvy. Thankfully I’m getting some professional advice as left to my own devices I’d probably break the blog all together.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming and planning and not a lot of actual sewing. I’m planning a few more Staple Dresses.

staple dress 1

and some spring weather sewing

soleil 1



How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I guess the main difference between Nearest the Pin and lots of other sewing blogs, is that it’s almost 50:50 between women’s sewing and kids sewing. This is not totally unique by any stretch, but it’s certainly not as common as sticking to one type or another.

Why do I write / create what I do?

Who can tell really?! I create because I love it and I think most bloggers would answer the same way. I create the things I do for many reasons – because I’ve been influenced by something I’ve seen, because I see a pattern or fabric I have to try, but basically because I can – or I want to see if I can.

Striped Blazer 2

How does the writing / creating process work?

Sometimes it’s a pattern that sparks my interest, sometimes it’s fabric. Sometimes the process is really quick – like this tunic below, that had no pre-planning. I went into the sewing room pattern in hand and looked through the stash – worked all day and finished with this (you’ve got to love how quick and easy little girl’s summer dresses are).


Other times the process is really looooong – like this jacket. I bought the dressing gown a year ago with the idea to make a jacket – it took 12 months for the idea to take proper shape and for me to decide on the right pattern.

Rigel Before & After

Photography, writing and blogging are harder for me than sewing. I’m on a learning curve and I’m determined to keep improving, particularly (ahem) the photography. I get frustrated at times that I’m not as good as I want to be, but on the other hand, I love that there is so much to learn.

And now comes the super fun part where I get to introduce you to two really fun sewing bloggers who I love to follow. Given this is an international blog hop, I decided to go well and truly international. Firstly I’m passing the blog hop over to Shino at Nutta! Shino has just moved home to her native Japan after living in the US for a few years. Her blog is great and she is about to host a Japanese Sewing Book series which will be invaluable to sewers like me who love Japanese patterns but can’t read Japanese. I thought that Nutta was a strange name for a blog, as a ‘nutter’ in Australia is a slang word for a crazy person, but it turns out that nutta is Japanese for ‘I sewed it’. Ha, so it’s actually a perfect name for a blog. Apologies Shino!!


Secondly, I’m inviting Olu of Needle and Ted to join the Blog Hop. Olu sews and blogs from London – she took on the amazing goal of making all her daughter’s clothes for a year and I think it’s fair to say she is smashing that goal! The clothes she makes are seriously amazing and her photography is fresh and interesting – you have to check out her blog if you haven’t already.


Thanks so much Jenya for inviting me to participate – a chance to reflect is always fun. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Shino and Olu soon x


Willow and Co. Persimmon Tunic

I’m sure you’ve seen that the ladies at Willow and Co. are running a Back to School sewing competition. It finishes today…. I seem to be good at being motivated by deadlines😉

I still have a couple of Willow and Co patterns from their first collection that I am yet to blog. One of these is the Persimmon Dress and Tunic – honestly, I was waiting for the weather to improve here before making this super summery pattern. You could say I got a little excited with the lovely spring-like weather we had this past week, winter was all but forgotten as we swapped coats for tees. Unfortunately it was a little hasty as the rain has returned – bleuh. So please excuse the indoor photos, I’m seriously a novice at indoor pics.




I’m loving this pattern – it’s by the super talented Hayley of Welcome to the Mouse House. I made a size 4 tunic length for my just turned 3 year old. She is broad in the chest and I was also hoping to make something that will fit through summer. There are options for a facing or full lining. I chose a full lining, using plain white cotton, as the navy fabric is a bit see-through. The only change I made to the pattern was to make the straps a continuous piece, instead of having them tie at the shoulders.



This was one of those project where I readily wasn’t sure that this fabric combination was going to work. I had my doubts right up until the end – but now it’s finished, I really like it. The bird fabric is “Wing Song” Garden Wall Collection by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller. I happened to come by some small pieces of this fabric – none more than 40cms wide. There was not enough for any garment that required cutting on the fold, but the Persimmon’s design is perfect for using up smaller pieces of your special fabrics. The navy spot was left over from the Mara blouse I made recently.



Phew, just made another deadline.

There are some beautiful creations already entered into the competition, you can check them out here. I hear the Willow and Co. ladies are working on a new collection – so right there is my motivation to get the rest of the collection sewn up already.

How about you, are you a deadline driven person like me?


Rigel Before & After

Refashioned Rigel Bomber

I’ve been dreaming and scheming up Rigel Bomber Jackets since the pattern was released earlier this year. Finally I’ve got one to show!

This make was inspired by Amy of Sew Amy Sew. She is hosting a fun ‘Repurpose, Reuse, Rafashion’ challenge during August. I love a good refashion – although I’m still quite a novice. I’ve just managed to sneak this entry in before the August 31st deadline.

Rigel Before & After


So, I started with the very stylish old lady dressing gown on the left and ended up with the bomber jacket on the right (above). I found the wool dressing gown at a local op-shop (thrift store) for $8 sometime last year. I had a jacket in mind when I bought it – but I was kinda waiting for my sewing skills to catch up with my ambitions a bit more before I attempted it. Amy’s competition was the motivation I needed to get busy.



This is the first Papercut Pattern that I’ve sewn.  I JUST managed to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the dressing gown – raglan sleeves take a lot more fabric than you think. I didn’t have the luxury of pattern matching, although I did match the lines across the zipper….mostly….😉 As I’m pretty sensitive to itchy woollen fabrics, lining the jacket was a must. I am a little perplexed that a $30 pattern comes without pattern pieces or instructions for lining, but fortunately for us, other sewers have already blogged instructions for how to line your Rigel bomber (see Liz’s post here). Given I had already made a lined jacket, albeit a tiny one, I pretty much just winged it. Fortunately it all turned out ok.



Given this is a Reusing challenge – the lining is cotton drill left over from this bag. The only thing I purchased specifically to make the jacket was the zip.

On to the pattern: I made the jacket in a small after reading online reviews and I’m happy with the fit. I read that others had lengthened the sleeves and I should have followed this advice too. Other than that (and the fact that it’s not lined), it’s all good! The instructions are adequate and if you’ve made a jacket before, or have some experience with welt pockets and zips, you’ll have no troubles.



Amy has a Flickr group for all the lovely entries that are part of the competition. Head on over there to see more refashioned creations. In the meantime, I’ll be getting as much wear as I can out of this super warm jacket before it’s too hot to wear it.

How about you, do you like to refashion things?



A Polka Dot Mara Blouse

Hi all. Today I’m over at Compagnie M as part of the Mara Blog Action Tour. Compagnie M is a Belgian pattern company/sewing blog, run by the super talented Marte (she’s about to compete in the next season of Project Run and Play!!). Marte’s Mara Blouse pattern has been a super successful and very highly regarded pattern, but for some unknown reason, I hadn’t gotten around to sewing one until now.


Come on over to Compagnie M to read more and see more photos of my winter version of the Mara.

The Desert Rose and the tale of three photo shoots

Desert Rose 14

Desert Rose 12

This gorgeous dress pattern is the debut release from Caila Made – The Desert Rose. I was part of Caila’s testing group for this pattern a few months ago and since testing finished, she has been painstakingly perfecting the fit and finish of the pattern. 

Desert Rose 11

I just love the design of this dress – the simplicity and the impact are perfect. If you’ve seen the beautiful versions of the Desert Rose that Caila has made, the dress has a very summery look. However, with a bit of layering, like we’ve done here, this dress can definitely be worn in all four seasons.

Desert Rose 15Desert Rose 13

Caila has really taken her time to produce a high quality pattern. If you read her blog, you would know not to expect anything less. As the pattern goes up to size 8, I can see many more versions of the Desert Rose in Miss A’s closet. 

I can honestly say that this has been one of my favourite makes of the year so far. 

When a pattern designer is gracious enough to invite me to test, ask me to review a pattern or be part of a series, I want to do my absolute best to show my work and theirs in the best possible light. Good photos really make a blog. As a beginner photographer – I’m at that frustrating stage where how I want the photos to look is often beyond where my current ability lies. My first attempt at photographing this dress was on our recent holiday in Indonesia – perfect weather and location. Not sure where I went wrong with the camera settings, but everything was looking very washed out.

Desert Rose 21

Secondly we attempted a late afternoon shoot in a beautiful setting at the edge of a local forest. Some of these photos show promise, but after taking about 5 or 6, the camera ran out of batteries and apparently I had forgotten to charge the spare one -arrrrgh #rookiemistakes

Desert Rose 4

For those of you who regularly take photos of your kids, you will appreciate that it’s hard enough getting them out once to get photos of an outfit – but three times! Yes, I’m going to have to lift my game big time. Anyone empathise?

Desert Rose 22

Continuing the (Fun) Work Wardrobe: A Floaty Skirt

Floaty Skirt 2

Ha, sorry for the super serious face – I was pretty cold, taking these pics🙂

Floaty Skirt 1

Todays make was so simple – but I love it!! Mostly because of the fabric – rayon (I think!) and it’s from Tessuti, but sorry folks, it’s all gone😦 I bought the fabric with the intention of making a Belcarra blouse, but somehow it became a skirt.

Floaty Skirt 6

I used the free Easy Gathered Skirt pattern from Pattern Runway. There’s not too much that can go wrong with such a simple pattern. It’s super easy and well explained. I haven’t tried a Pattern Runway pattern before, but I was impressed with the layout and instructions provided with this pattern. The only changes I made to the pattern were (1) to add a lining due to the light weight of the fabric and (2) using a narrow hem, which is just a personal preference of mine.

Floaty Skirt 5

My shirt is RTW – to be honest, I’m not sure I’m motivated enough to sew staples like shirts. My automatic buttonhole function and I are not friends. Anyway, back to the skirt,

Fun: 5/5

Cross-Functional: Yes, I’ve worn this skirt to social sewing and out to dinner 5/5

Wearability: 4/5 (only because it’s a skirt and requires me to make my legs presentable before leaving the house)

Does It Fit In?: Yes, a very welcome addition to my work and general wardrobe 5/5

Floaty Skirt 3

If you are keen to make yourself a skirt but don’t want to print out a PDF, there is a tutorial over on Gertie’s blog to make a similar skirt by using your measurements. I’ve seen two cute versions recently, Jess used Gertie’s tutorial and Liz just made up her own pattern (clever lady!).

I’m soon going to have to move beyond my love of sewing prints, otherwise nothing in my wardrobe will match – but I’m not sure I’m ready yet🙂

Sewing a (fun) work wardrobe

I recently headed back to the workforce and I’m pretty darn happy about it. Not so happy about the state of my work wardrobe though. After 3 years at home with kids, the closet is full of jeans and sloppy tees. All very well for cleaning and finger painting, but no so professional. Soooo, I’m finding myself in need of some respectable duds. As my work is not corporate, there is some flexibility in said work attire – still no jeans and sloppy tees😦 – but I’m hoping to create some work outfits that still retain an element of fun, can still be incorporated into non-work life and are appealing to wear.

This is going to be a journey, due to sad state of my current wardrobe. So I’ll hope you’ll join me, leave some feedback, suggest patterns and the like.

staple dress 1

Piece one in my wardrobe’s road to recovery is the much sewn and loved Staple Dress pattern by April Rhodes. I know you’ve seen this dress all over blogland, but there’s always room for one more.

Staple Dress 9Staple Dress 3Staple Dress 8

Yep, ha ha finally got myself a camera remote! 

And so, how does the Staple Dress go in my work wardrobe?

Fun: yes, definitely. I’m loving the dress in Amy Butler voile, the fabric is light, breathable and beautiful to wear 5/5

Cross-functional: yes. I wore this dress out to dinner with heels, so it will fit into both the work and non-work requirements 5/5

Wearability: although I do prefer pants, this dress is pretty darn comfortable 4/5

Does it fit in?: given the sparsity of my work wardrobe, it does fit in. Having said that, the print I chose doesn’t make it a mix and match piece or a wear to work 3 times a week and no-one will notice piece 3/5

Here’s how I styled it for work:

Staple Dress 5Staple Dress 6

Staple dresses all over the internet inspired this make, but here are my picks if you’re after some more Staple Dress inspiration:

Staple Dresses Inspiration

1. Staple Dress is Denim by While She Was Sleeping 2. Polka Dot Staple by Shona Stitches

I’m loving these blue versions – please click over to their blogs for more info and pics.

So tell me, do you have a ‘go to’ pattern you love for work wear?