Ngā Tui ō taku Kahu


I love everything about this dress. In particular, I am so fond of the fabric – it is gorgeous! And native! I feel like a real New Zealander wearing this. On the other hand, I like almost none of the photos, but in the interests of honesty and not having to find another time to take photos, I’m going to post them anyway.

Also, since it’s native I named the post in Māori – what it means is “the tui (birds) of my dress”. I’m learning Māori this year and absolutely loving it. I think it’s pretty important to acknowledge and honour the Māori people as the original people to live in this land, who were pretty hard done by in the European settlement, and a part of honouring the people is to learn the language. I can also trace Māori ancestry myself, but it’s pretty far back and I think anyone who’s a fifth or sixth generation New Zealander has some Māori ancestry there.


The bird on this is the tui, one of the more common and more recognisable NZ native birds. They sing pretty gorgeously, and are also fairly clever – they can learn to mimic humans (though they’re not nearly as clever as kea, which are our own crazy parrot). The tree is the pohutukawa, which is referred to as NZ’s Christmas tree, because it blooms with these bright red flowers during December. For me, it doesn’t feel like summer until the pohutukawa are blooming, which was weird this last summer – I spent it in Dunedin for the first time, which has a lot less pohutukawa than Wellington (my home city). I wish I’d had this dress then, to force the summer mood!


I picked up the fabric in awareness of the Monthly Stitch birds month, but not precisely because of it – I’d just bought some other birdy fabric (which is awaiting pattern adjustments and lining fabric before being made up), so I didn’t need more, but Spotlight had a big sale, and I’d gone there with $60 and only spent $20, so I thought I might as well buy something else, and this is what I walked away with. And promptly got super excited about. So naturally it jumped to the top of my sewing list, and then it took only a day or two to sew up (including I was working a full time job at the time).

The pattern is my standard altered BurdaStyle pattern (although it’s only actually that pattern from about bust line to waist, everything else is changed). I’ve got a pretty good fit now, I just need to lower the bust darts slightly. There’s also some gaping going on at the back armholes, but I can’t see it so it doesn’t matter to me – I am a very superficial sewer sometimes. The skirt is a half-circle skirt – I love that silhouette with a passion – which I ended up using the Hawthorn dress pattern for instead of drawing my own, because it made it easier to get the birds the right way up – I didn’t really want sideways birds near my seams (a friend made a comment that “you could hide in the bush and pretend to be a very bird-filled area in the summer, except with some of the birds upside down”, at which I pointed out that I put quite a bit of effort into them not actually being upside down). I did have to do a centre front seam for that, which was not ideal, and I didn’t try at all to pattern match – directionality is about the limit of my care in cutting, plus I didn’t have enough fabric to pattern match – with the result of several birds cut in half, as seen:


I ended up stretching out the skirt top edges quite a lot, because I forgot to staystitch and I also had to unpick the side seams to put in the pockets, but copious quantities of steam got it back into shape (and I really do mean copious. I’ve never steamed something like that before).

Because I generally hate facings and can only sometimes be bothered with linings, the neck and arm holes are finished with bias binding, my current favourite finish, and the hem is done with lace (I neglected to photograph this. It wasn’t especially well done, but it does make it feel more fancy).


And I’m pretty proud of my zip, so have a photo of that.


I also have an umbrella with pohutukawa flowers on it, so I couldn’t resist posing with it.




In other news, I’ve picked up some fantastic reading matter from the library, and am very excited to sit down with a cup of tea and a book. The top of my stack is Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey, which I’ve started and am finding to be amazing (and exactly my jam) and it’s followed by three different Tolkien/Lord of the Ring commentaries. Books are what winter is for. Also merino and wool are what winter is for. I’m dreaming of wool coats, knitted sweaters, merino thermals… of a winter of warmth in me-mades.

That’s all! Good luck to everyone participating in Me-Made-May, I look forward to seeing everyone’s outfits.

9 thoughts on “Ngā Tui ō taku Kahu

  1. I think that fabric is absolutely gorgeous- and perfect for the dress you made. That’s how i want dresses to look on me, but they so rarely do 😦 I’m going to keep trying tho, cause I love dresses – I can’t be the only person who doesn’t have a great dress pattern. 🙂 Enjoy your day!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I think what it takes is keeping trying, it took me a year to realise that half-circle skirts are my perfect skirt. But I’m so happy now with them!

    • Thanks! I’d never even considered them before, and just happened to see them when I had a little extra money to spend, but it worked out super well 🙂

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