Happy New Year Auckland Holiday View from Waiheke Island Ferry

What is 2017 going to bring? + Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Nina Makes!

We had a lovely family holiday in Auckland this year.  Nearly all the photos in this post are from our trip, all taken on my trusty Samsung Galaxy S5 (not an ad!).  It was great to experience a city environment it had sure been a while!  The kids had a blast checking out the Auckland Zoo, Kelly Tarlton’s and Butterfly Creek.  My highlight would have to be the day spent at Waiheke Island catching up with friends, and ferries are lots of fun too.

Continue reading “What is 2017 going to bring? + Happy New Year!”

Work/Life Balance + Mother’s Day!


I have been thinking a lot lately about work/life balance.  Trying to get enough done to keep things rolling but still have enough quality time with my family.  I made a conscious decision to let the blogging slow down during the school holidays to live in the moment while I had the chance.  During this time my Oma (grandma) passed away at 89 years old, that’s a pretty good run but still you’re never ready to let them go!  I guess it has all made me question what is really important in life.


But before I get all deep and meaningful…I hope all you Mother’s out there had a lovely Mother’s Day!  I had a nice quiet day with the kids, riding their bikes on the school courts and finished off with dinner at the beach.  I had to go solo this Mother’s day as Robert (the other half) was away for the opening of the duck shooting season.  Whoever timed that to coincide with Mother’s day needs their head read!


But we made the most of it enjoying the lovely autumn weather outside, I have to say I have really appreciated autumn this year!  We have had lovely mild weather where you can spend time outside without fear of being sunburned to a crisp or being too cold.  It’s been bliss!  We had pizzas with the best view, and the best bit was no dishes!


I can’t believe how fast these little people of mine are growing, Hannah is going to be 8 in four months’ time and Harry will be 6 in two months’.  I miss these innocent little ones but am very proud of the people they are growing into…most of the time!  For my work/life balance I have decided post a little less often than I was, I think once a week will be about right.  For those of you who blog you will already know it isn’t just the posts that take up the time but the behind scenes work (social media, promoting posts, planning posts etc. etc.) which can get quite overwhelming.  This is a hobby and I am going to start treating more as such.  I do this for fun because I enjoy it and love making things and sharing the details with everyone.


So more beaches and less laptop for a while!

How do you keep your work/life balance in check?

Any great pointers for me???

Trip to the Tairawhiti Museum Gisborne NZ

Tairawhiti Museum Visit
My sister rang this morning while I was taking the kids grocery shopping (ugh!) thought I would get in early before it got hot and busy!  She wanted to go to the Tairawhiti Museum today, she had heard that local children were free on Monday’s (maybe just in the school holidays) and it turns out adults are free too.  Since I have only ever been to the cafe there I jumped at the chance.
There was a whole room dedicated to cameras and photography.  Including a cute backdrop with ‘olden day’ dress ups you could put on.  I love how interactive museums are becoming, so much more fun especially for the kids.

It really makes you appreciate the smart phone rather than having to lug around one of these beauties.
There were some great shots of our main street from just a few years ago.  I think Harry was in a face pulling mood today!
This gorgeous replica is of the ‘Star of Canada’ part of which has been rebuilt as part of the museum.  The details in these models is amazing the photo just doesn’t do them justice!
There are even the gorgeous plaques of the original shipbuilders.   So I guess the Star of Canada was built in Belfast Ireland…wouldn’t have guessed!
Captain Harry sure was keen on taking charge!
But what really got me was the attention to detail on the Captain’s deck of the boat.  Image how much work this would have been before modern tools were invented!
Oh you just have to love a port hole!  Esepecially with a gorgeous view of the Taruheru river!  It always reminds me of those childhood day dreams of being at sea…
Tairawhiti Museum Visit a 
Now for the more sewing related find…check out these two beauties I found in a very dark room.  The lighting made them stand out beautifully!
This really was only a taste, and a great morning was had by all.  I would like to go again without the rugrats so I can actually read a little more about the pieces!  If you’re ever in this neck of the woods check it out.

My New Year’s Resolutions

I have never really been a New Year’s resolution kind of person.  I have goals and things I would like to achieve but never really got into making a proper resolution.  I guess by proper I mean write it down, or make it official.
So here goes…

1. Be Healthier

 Easiest Banana Cake Ever
I guess this will be on most peoples resolutions list!  I don’t want to go on a health crazed rampage or eliminate whole food groups…CAKE!  My parents are vegetarians and I was raised one from age 2.  So I have enough hang ups about eating meat as it is, I do eat meat now just not the kind that is good for you!  The less like meat it is the more I like it, think burgers, hot dogs, pepperoni pizza…I do like chicken breast I guess that is a healthy one.  As long as there is no skin or bones involved.
Anyway back to the resolution part, I just want to make the best choice in that instance.  Say a family visit to a restaurant was on the cards I will order a small meal rather than a large one, or take the healthier option on the menu.  I will try to eat more like the lunch boxes I pack the kids LOL!


2. Spend more quality time with my family and friends

I would like to spend more quality time as a family.  Where we actually put down the laptop, phone, ereader, tablet…you get my drift!  My kids have taken quite an interest in board games and card games so I think a games night might be an excellent idea.
A few more beach trips and BBQ dinners with a few friends over sounds like fun too.


3. Take more short breaks

I would like to take a few more short breaks throughout the year.  Robert has a few set ones he goes on every year but the kids and I don’t go along on those, they are mainly hunting/fishing trips…we are not invited!  On the upside in about 10 years time Harry will be allowed to go too, Hannah and I will have to start a Girl’s weeks at the same time.
I think a long weekend away every now and then would be great to get away from the mundane and see some new sights.  Well the blog/social media will be the teller on this one…you’ll all see if I kept my resolution!
Day trips around our region would also be great.  It’s funny how it feels like you have to go far away to see new things but often you haven’t explored your own surroundings very well.  I’ll look into it! 


4. Blog!!!

I have now been blogging for 6 months and  I am loving it!  I have finally found what my thing is.  I have never been able to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up (I’m 34!) but blogging is just the thing for me.  I love researching and learning new things, learning to use coding to alter my own site has been very rewarding.  Sewing is my favourite way to relax and wind down, doing absolutely nothing has never been my strong point.
Writing Nina Makes has given me the opportunity to combine my interests into a hobby (and hopefully business one day).  I love that sewing is useful, not that craft isn’t but I can really see the value in a pair of shorts that I would otherwise have had to go and buy.  Luckily for me my kids love homemade clothes, I dread the day that they aren’t ‘cool’ anymore!
My resolution is to stay focussed and keep working at it.  I have so many ideas that I have to keep a spreadsheet to keep track of them all.  It’s only early days but think writers block will be a wee way of yet!  I have read in many places that most bloggers only last 9 months…but that it takes 18 months for a blog to properly take off.  Nina Makes will be exactly 18 months old this time next year, so I’ll let you know if there is any truth to that!



Is there a set number of resolutions you are meant to make?  Well four quite broad ones it is for me this year!  Going by my photos there has been a lot of beaches involved in 2015, I would like to see some snow in 2016.  Short break to the mountains in winter anyone…

Have you made resolutions before?  Did you manage to keep them?

Best Wishes for the New Year!

Christmas Holiday Take 1 – Lottin Point & Waihau Bay

This stunningly beautiful spot was the first stop for the (pre)Christmas holidays.  This is Lottin Point on the top of the East Coast of New Zealand.  This is Robert and his families regular Christmas destination, and if you’re into diving or fishing it doesn’t get much better than this!   It is a private camp and my in-laws are the members so we camp with them. 
This is our tent, what a view!  I enjoy a bit of fishing but not too keen on diving (trusting equipment with my life is not my strong point!).  So as much as this place is absolutely stunning, dare I say it find it boring…I just find relaxing while doing absolutely nothing difficult!  The kids and Robert absolutely love it here so I put my brave face on and do my best to enjoy it too!

The kids have been body boarding, snorkelling and mainly crab hunting.  The beach is very rocky and we’re going to need to get Harry a long leg wetsuit his shins are scraped to bits!  Lottin is about 3 hours drive from home and there are only small settlements in between.  They do have well stocked local shops which is handy when you forget a stretcher and blanket!
On one of the days we went for an afternoon trip to Waihau Bay (for the Kiwi’s this is where the movie ‘Boy’ was set).   Hannah just had to have her photo taken on the little pier!
The locals were very friendly as we had some hot chips and cool drinks at the pub, they were eating the chips right off the table!  You can see the cute little pier in the background.

Even Harry found something to drool over!  Four Norton motorcycles (and their riders!) heading away after finishing their stop.

Then down to the stones we went for the kids new favourite hobby…crab hunting!  No we don’t eat them they are too teeny but the kids love collecting them up and letting them go at the end.  If you think this one is little check out Hannah’s find…
Yes that is a 7 year old’s hand!  So small I think even I might be brave enough to hold that one!
I loved our trip to Waihau Bay but after a bit more walking around, well it is a very small settlement half of which is on top of the hill behind it., so not too much walking!  It was time to head back to Lottin.
And off course no Lottin trip would be complete without a fishing trip on Grandad’s boat, and man they had a great trip!  They saw a blue shark, two sun fish and caught various species of fish including quite a few Tarakihi for a delicious dinner too!
These two beautiful fish are called pigfish…hmmm I don’t see the resemblance!  Hannah is holding a female and Harry a male.
Here is Harry with his Tarakihi the best tasting fish ever in my opinion!  Hannah has a NZ Scorpion Fish (a.k.a Grandaddy Hapuku or NZ Red Rock Cod).
It was great but it is also great to be home!  Will be back soon…

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Fancy Dress Here We Come!

The kids have been rehearsing flat out at school and are rearing to go!  Hannah’s theme is ‘Fluoro Dance Party’ and Harry’s is ‘Country’.  All dressed and ready to roll!


I have shown you a few pieces of Hannah’s as I have been making them, and there are always a few extra photos on my Instagram so Follow me on Instagram too!

Freezer Paper Stencils (30)Freezer Paper Stencils (29)

I finally got around to making Harry a cowboy vest, thought it probably wasn’t fair to send him in a cowboy hat and a check shirt when I’d gone to the effort of making Hannah’s!



All it’s missing is a gold star…but Harry doesn’t want one of those! His reasoning “the girls will have stars on them”, got to love 5 year old logic.  Those icky girls!!!  I vaguely used a Frontier Pattern from Made.  Since Harry is definitely a little larger than a size 2-4 I added extra width and made it a lot shorter.  I also added a bias tape edge and lightweight jersey fringe at the bottom.


Check out that dodge cowboy face!!  Loving the beard although he has already rubbed most of it off, had to reapply before we left home.  Added a LOT of bronzer underneath so it was a little more obvious in the end.

Fancy Dress 2015 c

And here is Miss Hannah with attitude to burn!  What happened to that sweet little girl?  Seven going on seventeen!

Fancy Dress 2015 a

Oh look there she is!  Luckily the sweet little girl still comes out sometimes ♥  Growing way too fast!

Fancy Dress 2015 b

The kids school is quite large (for our neck of the woods anyway!) so they have performances over two nights.  So this is the junior half of the school, all the year 2 fluoro cuteness!


And the year 1 little cowboys and girls.


Was an awesome evening and they all did a great job, especially the teachers!  I love that they have these great events, it really brings the school community together.  Can’t wait for next year!

New Dress Tutorial Coming Soon!

I have been busy working away at a new dress tutorial.  It will be another series like the All About Skirts Series I did in July.  The skirts are all on my Tutorial Page!


I have been drawing, and cutting and planning my way through this.  With the help of one of my favourite accessories…clothing pegs!  I use those little gems everywhere, paper clips, fabric clips, every open packet in the freezer/pantry and sometimes I even use them to hang the washing!

I will be making this dress in a Size 8 for Hannah this summer, but hope to create a multi sized pattern for other sizes in the near future!


This one is the first trial and still needs a little tweaking.  I love the little gathered and bias bound capped sleeves.  Great for protecting that fair delicate skin this summer.  And importantly one less place to smear sunblock before school, always a plus in my book!


All in all not too bad for a first trial!  I do think the bodice needs to be a little longer and more fitting, but I need to work out the getting it on and off logistics for that…the skirt also needs a little less length!  But I do love the tie at the back rather than my usual domes or buttons.

Betty Bodice Dress T1 a

My brain is ticking away with a multitude of variations for this one!  Short sleeves, A-Line skirt, Collar, Pleats…More coming soon!


Why is it that the cutest photo is always out of focus???  It’s getting more and more difficult to get a decent photo out of Hannah, all her posing is hilarious but a little frustrating at the same time!  Think I will have to start catching her off-guard!

Any great photo tips with little posers?

What drives you to Upcycle/Refashion?

I have been asked why upcycle with all the great fabrics available?  To be completely honest I prefer to upcycle than to use newly purchased fabric.  Of course I make an exception for fabric finds at the charity shop!  I find I feel more satisfied with an item knowing I created it out of something that would have otherwise gone to waste.  Looking at an item for upcycling and thinking about what I might do with it is a nice little challenge.  It’s also great for seeing how things are put together, by pulling them apart!

Why I Upcycle a

I like to keep things simple and fun!  I do enjoy intricate works but for me the bulk of the pleasure is in finishing and enjoying wearing the item.  I am also budget conscious and realise that for a lot of people (me included) it just isn’t feasible to purchase designer fabric and a new pattern every time we want to sew something.  Don’t get me wrong I do occasionally purchase new fabric if I need something specific, the designs available are just gorgeous. But the fair majority of my fabric stash has been given to me or found at my local charity shop.  Not to mention the pile of unwanted clothing stacked on the filing cabinet to be turned into something new.


This skirt came from a dress on said filing cabinet!  And as for patterns I have very little.  I was amazed by some of the collections I saw on the #sewphotohop I took part in on Instagram (see my post here).  I mostly don’t use a pattern, I make it up as I go along.  Then adjust or alter it till it’s right, then share it with you on the blog!  Another great way to get started is to use an item you already have as a pattern.  My friends and family are more than happy to lend me items to take a pattern off…and in return I do sewing for them. 

Why I Upcycle b

As you can see the three above were all made this way.  From Left to Right, Upcycled Girl’s Tank, Upcycled Girl’s Print T-Shirt and Contrast Baby Pants.  There are tutorials for all of them too!

I have always been a just give it a go and see what happens type when it comes to sewing, if I get stuck there is a wealth of information available online to help me sort it out.  But you learn so much from making those mistakes, and sorting them out, much more I feel then taking a class and being told how to do it.  I have never been overly fond of being told how to do things…what if there is a better way?  You will never find out if you do things the same way just because that’s how they’ve always been done!  That’s the great thing about upcycling you don’t have that feeling of having to justify what you paid for the fabric by making something great.  What’s the worst that could happen?  You ruined a T-shirt that didn’t fit right and you weren’t wearing anyway?

Brindille & Twig Hoodie a

I love telling people when they comment on something I’ve made, that it used to be a Men’s Polo (Brindille & Twig Hoodie).  Quite a few give you the raised eyebrow the first time!

Why I Upcycle c

The shorts above are made from charity shop farbic at NZ$2 a piece, and there’s enough for at least two more pairs of the black and white.  Bargains are great, I mean who doesn’t love a bargain???  As long as it’s a bargain you will actually use/wear than it’s great by me.  The need to buy everything on sale is a whole other can of worms, you  still need to need it! 

I have received a bag of unwanted clothing with some absolutely massive Men’s items (my favourite!!), the amount of fabric in a 5XL dress shirt is unbelievable.  This same bag also had some seriously out of style dress pants, which are going to make great dress pants for the kids.  Not to mention there will be plenty left over for a few pairs of my favourite kid shorts!

Why I Upcycle d

So I guess I am also a bit of a closet greenie, I have a problem with reusable containers (Especially kids lunch boxes. They keep making better and cuter ones ♥).  I buy eco dishwasher tablets and dishwash liquid, I dislike using plastic wrap where ever possible (hence the reusable container addiction).  The upcycling slots in with this view nicely.  But I always have that nagging feeling I should be doing more…

In what ways do you upcycle?