Monday, 29 December 2014

New Year's Predictions/Resolutions

As we approach the end of the year I can now reflect on all the projects I intended to do but never got around to.  Firstly, I would like to say that as a collector of vintage patterns I’m fairly satisfied with the amount of vintage patterns I actually used in 2014.  However, when I do sit down in my spare room to go through the piles of patterns I discover ones I completely forgot that I even bought. Some of them are really lovely patterns too and I can’t believe my enthusiasm for them waned after the initial purchase.  But I am the type of person who sometimes has trouble focusing on just one project. I tend to have several projects on the go at the same time.  I get all enthused by the latest thing I’ve purchased and then put aside a frock that is maybe ¾ of the way finished.  My hat is off to you fellow sewers who start one project at a time and just work on that one. Also if you don’t have a penchant for buying new patterns all the time then it must be easier to focus on the job at hand. 

So if I believed in making New Year’s resolutions then I guess here are my picks for things I intend to make this coming year – 2015. 

Japanese Sewing Books

At least 3 years ago now one of my good friends bought me my first Japanese sewing book.  What a great idea thought I.  A lovely little book with a reasonable number of patterns that would be easy to make up.  I hit a stumbling block initially because this book required you to buy pattern paper and draft your own pattern pieces using the instructions which provided the basic measurements for each piece.  It seemed a little daunting but I went ahead and found my pattern paper. Then I simply put it away somewhere.  In the next few years I was to find a website where one lady had actually made up a number of projects from various Japanese sewing books. So I went through all her recommendations printing out various projects. Also this meant finding some new books to work with.  So now in total I have 4 books.  Still haven’t made a one little ol thing from any of these books. Though I do so enjoy just perusing their contents every now and again.  One book is actually in Japanese which isn’t exactly helpful. Should have checked the details more carefully before purchasing, like perhaps that it was an English translation. 

So 2015 I vow to attempt at least 1 item from this collection. Heck I should aim for the stars and say 3 items.

Vintage patterns

I absolutely love both of these patterns. It is just the usual problem of finding the right fabric. Also as far as the Butterick pattern goes, The white contrast wouldn't work for me so it's finding contrasting material that will suit this one. 

I actually found pink material for the Simplicity 7193 at Skafs about a year and a half ago. I have no excuse for not making this up. Boo for me. 

Now for the Style pattern I bought the perfect vintage style fabric for the short sleeve version of this top.  I intend to make this up in the  next few months, seriously I do.  As for the Vogue pattern I attempted to make this up a few years ago. My mum even told me she had the exact same pattern in the 70's.  I almost finished it too, only to discover that it was just far too tight under the arms and across the back.  Such a shame, perfect summer dress. A goal for this summer, give this pattern another go with some slight tweaking to the sizing. 

Other goals for the year should be to finish off the projects in the half made, or almost finished category.  It’s not rocket science I know but I guess I just need to knuckle down and try to finish them. Pretty sure I’ll be satisfied if I finish some in the first half of the year.

And amongst all the resolutions will be my usual inclusion from the good intentions file. Try to sell some of my handmade jewellery on line.  I just need to finish off my half made projects. 

Happy New Year to everyone.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Festive feline

From the non-sewing related file, and because it's nearly Christmas, here is a little pictorial of my fur child getting in the festive spirit .

Camouflage cat 

Glamour Puss

My favourite toy, a "Cat in a Box"

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Summer halter

Simplicity 2176.  At the end of last summer I made this easy halter style dress.  I was after more of a real halter style top but couldn't get my hands on the right pattern.  This will do for now and brilliant on a hot day.  I got the pattern on sale for $5 and the fabric was all pretty well priced as well. It's an easy pattern to make. It's just getting the top section of the bodice right. Not too tight, no too loose.  Because the check fabric has a bit of stretch to it, I will need to adjust the halter strap. I already did this once but since wearing it it appears to need a further adjustment. Just one of those projects that will take 2 seconds to fix but I haven't got around to it yet.  This is a perfect cool summer dress pattern with the variations for the bodice. I added the contrast myself. I wanted the skirt to be longer and so added a border and then decided that the bodice band would be a good option also.   



Thursday, 11 December 2014

Vogue 8645

A search of one section of my wardrobe(s) revealed a frock I had quite forgotten about. This is a very easy Vogue pattern. No zips no buttons, always a nice change.  The only real problem with this pattern was that I used a heavy lining. It's 100% cotton but it is quite a heavy cotton (I want to say poplin) compared to the a voile.  Also in the end I found I had to wear the dress back to front. The front V section in the front was a tad low cut for me. And my penchant for not showing off cleavage necessitates a more modest frontage.  I don't think you can tell that it is backwards.  It is an easy pattern to make though it does take quite a bit of fabric - 3.5m for the longer version (plus your lining).  I've got another couple of Vogue patterns in a slightly similar style but I balk at making them up due to the amount of fabric required.  Would recommend if you want a quick and easy summer dress. Obviously if you make the shorter version you won't be needing the oodles of fabrics.

My front section that is now the back.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

New Look 6224

It was love at first sight for me and this pattern. It has several variations so it will be a pattern I will return to.  I chose this cotton drill fabric which is quite heavy. Alas I shan't get to wear this dress until the weather cools down again. The only adjustment I made to this pattern was to the skirt section. The pieces looked a wee bit narrow for my belly so I extended the pieces by a few centimetres. The only major complication I had with this pattern was attaching the yoke. For some reason you attached the facing section to the inside first and were meant to finish it off on the outside.  When you are working with a curve you can guarantee it is not going to be smooth. Usually this is done inside and when you hand sew it it will look a little uneven but who cares no-one can see it. I mean you turn over a seam allowance as accurately as you can (but who is going to get an accurate 1cm) and then press it, but it definitely never looks even and smooth.

So I went ahead and did it the way the pattern instructions said, and even finished it off on the outside with a top stitch. It looked terrible.  I unpicked it all and went back to the way that made sense attaching the right sides together, turning it over and finishing it off on  the inside of the garment - voila. I had done the version with a bow for the front, but because of the busy fabric the bow was a little over the top. 

It would be interesting to try this dress with a softer fabric and the variation on the sleeve. Though I don't really like the version with the skinny neck piece as much.  

Monday, 1 December 2014

2014 Party Frock

It's that time of the year again to be thinking about Christmas party wear.  Although I don't go to too many actual parties, there is always a frock to be made at least for the work do. So I set out for the 2014 venture with the idea of finishing off a maxi style dress that I started last year. However, try as I may I couldn't find the pattern or the remaining bits of fabric. I'm sure they will turn up.  After going through my cache of fabrics I found some fabric and a Simplicity pattern I had been keen to make for the right event.  My idea was to use a cotton fabric with a brown and pink pattern for the bodice and team it with a silk style magenta for the skirt. 

So I got stuck into making up the bodice. All was going well. Then when I looked at cutting out the skirt section with the magenta I just couldn't bring myself to use this fabric for this particular dress. Instead I decided it would be perfect for a dress all on its own. I quite literally have hardly any me made items that are in a plain colour. And for some reason after seeing an episode of Masters of Sex I was quite taken with a green necklace one of the characters was wearing and I was keen to make a version of this necklace when I found the right type of fabric.  This is how some of sewing projects come to be. They start with an idea from some buttons I bought or some jewellery I am wanting to make.

So here it is the 2014 party frock. Using my trusty New Look 6223.

I know the fabric looks a bit crumpled but it is the way the actual fabric is. One of those crushed look fabrics.

I was happy with the necklace though I think a third string of beads would have been better. Can always add later I guess.

Sadly this is a one wear party frock.  I noticed a flaw in the fabric behind one of the arms before I left for the function. When I got home it had become an actual tear. Plus I really made a hash job of the zip. After 2 attempts it was probably one of the worst zips I've ever done. I think maybe it was the fabric. So as luck would have it I can at least use the skirt section for the original project. Just a bummer because I did quite like this item.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Frocks of festive past (part II)

New Look 6749

I bought the fabric I used for this dress originally for a skirt. I think sometimes I see fabric on sale and then just want to buy some. The first amount of fabric that used to come to mind is 1.5m. However 1.5m isn’t usually enough for most projects, apart from an A-line skirt or maybe a basic top.  Even 2m doesn’t seem nearly enough for most patterns. I think that’s why I have so much fabric lying around. So, it was time to think about party frocks this particular year and I picked up this pattern with the idea of making something up with the fan style strap. And as luck would have it, the pattern only required 1.5m of fabric so I was able to use this beautiful red and black cotton sateen. 

The pattern was pretty straightforward, however, I think I fudged it a bit where the strap attached to the bodice. It was a bit messy on one side so I went out and bought a nice big flower to cover it.  I’m not sure though whether I attached the straps the wrong way around because I remember the night I wore it the straps kept slipping down my shoulders.  Now I have quite broad shoulders so this was not I problem I usually encounter.  Anyways I’ve worn this dress since and the slippage doesn’t seem to happen now.  I have earmarked some cotton drill I’ve had lying around for about 4 years to make a more casual frock for this summer. I even have a zip so the dress should be ready to go any time now. 

Vogue wrap dress

I had this Vogue pattern lying around with a half made brown crepe dress, which I intended to make up with contrast colour in the inner sleeve.  I think part the way through making it I couldn’t see where exactly I would wear it and given our climate there isn’t much of the year you would wear longer sleeve dresses.  I remember having a lot of crepe fabric outfits when I was younger, before global warming when you could actually wear proper winter clothes in Queensland. These days I get through winter with ¾ length sleeves most days. Anyways it was a friend’s wedding coming up so I decided to give this pattern a go again as I really liked the style.  Like a previous blog entry I bought this red (silk look) fabric from Lincraft.  The pattern was pretty straight forward, though the fabric was maybe a little stiff for this particular style of dress.  I am not overly happy with the result. The fit is fine but I think it just looks a little stiff. It was from this pattern that I drafted my first ever belt.  I bought the fabric from the quilting section at Spotlight. And I do wear this belt quite regularly with other outfits.  So a couple of years ago now, out came this frock again, this time for festive celebrations.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Frocks of festives past

As I am currently making up my festive party frock for this year's work do and thought  it would be a good time to take a look back at my past party frocks.

Last year's themed Christmas party was the 60's.  As luck would have it I had oh roughly about 30 vintage 60's patterns lying around, so the only difficulty was choosing which one to use. I had been keen to make this shift dress pattern up for a work dress, however, it seemed more than suitable for a party frock. 

The version I was doing of this pattern involved creating a loose tie at the back. The problem was that I used a cotton sateen and when you tied the pieces together they stuck out in awkward directions.  So instead I crossed the pieces over and then just attached them with a bronze button, which seemed to work.  I teamed it with some sheer pink pantyhose (too hot to wear tights in Qld summer alas) and made some dangly earrings.

The year before that we had a Mad Hatter themed party for work. Some people went all out with Alice in Wonderland theme but I just decided on a hat as far as theme went. I just fashioned my hat from an existing one I had and put tulle around it and placed some decorative birds in my hat.  I'm sure I'd seen something similar in an old movie once and I just wanted my hat to look a little demented. Alas I forgot to get a photo of the hat which is a shame. I don't think anyone at work got it.  One other year the work party theme was something starting with B or N and I decided to go as a bride, obviously, but all in black. I even had an excellent proper wig my friend Michael did up for me and theatre make up to look a bit gruesome. No-one got that ensemble at all. I thought it was pretty excellent myself. I kept telling people, "black it's the new white".

So back to the Mad Hatter party. I used New Look 2444. Now this pattern seems to be a much loved one from what I’ve seen on sewing blogs. It’s not a bad pattern it just isn’t a great pattern for me personally.  While I’ve only made up two versions of this dress one with sleeves and one sleeveless I just felt the pattern lacked something.  I decided to make up this two tone version for the party.  The material I bought from Lincraft looks a bit like shot silk but is simply a nice cheap synthetic around $10 per metre if I remember correctly.  This is a basic pattern so it comes together very easily.  I decided to embellish it with my own creation of a flower.  This is pretty easy to do. I just cut out leaf shapes and a circle, then ran around the outside with a zig zag stitch. Even though I’m quite proud of this dress I’m not sure it’s one of my better creations.    

The bodice material was more of a teal but has come up as blue in the photos.

I guess in some respects it looks like I am missing a petal on my flower - oh well.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

McCall's 5137

Maybe it was 6 years ago now, I was after a nice summer frock for a friend's wedding.  I loved this pattern when I saw it and I knew I wanted to do the version with contrasting colours.  Of course this became a chore finding the right principal fabric.  In the end I found  this beautiful 100% cotton fabric at Gardams.  I then just had to decide on the contrast pieces.  If memory serves me this pattern wasn't too complicated to make up. It was a time consuming given the number of individual pieces, including the front placard, waistband and sash, plus skirt border.   I was so very happy with the result. Needless to say I felt very stylish for the wedding I was attending. I also made my own accessories using some cheap strands of beads I purchased and mixing them to suit my colour combo. 

Post wedding I let this frock sit in my cupboard for maybe a year. For some reason I think my special frocks should be left at just that, special occasions only. But after awhile you realize a perfectly good dress is just sitting in statis.  Eventually out she comes and becomes part of the work wardrobe. Unless of course it's all a bit too much like evening wear, but I don’t have too many of those. This is probably the most commented on from my wardrobe.  I think because it resembles dresses from a nice, but expensive shop in Brisbane.  And once again another pattern I so wanted to make up again but haven't.  It’s much easier to remake the super easy dress patterns than it is to get motivated to make up one that was time consuming, even if the result was very satisfactory. 

I also changed the bow at the back option for the wrap around bow. It is more comfortable to sit in. I haven't lined the dress so have to wear a half slip with it. I'm a bit lazy with lining things and should make more of an effort especially for good dresses.  And at least  the skirt portion

The necklace is one of my own creations.  The design is one which I have repeated numerous times with slight variations depending on the beads. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

More vintage 70's

And now for something completely different, a 70's frock.  The pattern is Style 1583 from 1976.  The material is a lightweight denim and I used red drill for the contrast pieces. Quite a simple pattern to make up. There was no instruction for interfacing for the facing section of the bodice, which was a bit peculiar given that the front bodice is open down the middle I think for a softer fabric you would want to interface it to keep the open from from dropping down. Mine already does slightly as the denim is very soft. I know I'll get plenty of wear out of this for summer as it's so loose fitting and cool. 

The original pattern had ties at the front. Unfortunately the contrast material I was using was too heavy and the ties just didn't sit right

I hardly ever do pockets but here I've done it 2 posts in a row.

Sunday, 9 November 2014


This story begins with at pattern known as Style 2702.  A pattern left sitting in a drawer for a year or so, but I could definitely see some potential for a work frock. After a recent purchase of some red fabric I decided to finally tackle this pattern. Maybe subconsciously I knew this pattern might cause some angst. Or maybe this neglected pattern was going to have its revenge on me. I set out one fine Sunday to begin sewing.  All was going well, I even seemed to ace the pockets early on. Front pleating, no worries.  Making up the neck facing/placard all went well. Then disaster. I attempted to attach the neck facing to the front of the tunic. Ba-baaam, epic fail.  No matter what I did it looked messy.  After checking out people's comments on the interweb I found this pattern hasn't worked out for most people. Sorry 2702 I guess we just weren't to be.

Rather than just throw out the offending frock I decided to get creative and still use what I had already made, turn the tunic into a skirt and create a bodice to attach it too.  Taking the bodice pattern from my vintage Style 1600 I finished up with this creation.  So dear readers I present my frackenfrock.

I don't really bother with pockets usually unless they are going to be visible.

I bough this 100% cotton fabric on line. I think it works really well with the red.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Kitty Simplicity 1419

I ordered this fabric before there was mention of a cat lady sewing challenge from Miss Crayola Creepy.  I have been known to spend a fair amount of time on the interweb searching for cat fabric.  And I can tell you it's not easy to find a decent looking non-cutesy fabric. I already have my here kitty kitty shift dress for the cooler months and now I have my summer feline feature frock. 

The colour of the fabric had more of a yellowy hue than I expected so I needed to break it up with a contrast collar.  I chose black because I thought it was fairly dramatic.  I also did a black border for the skirt. Then the wheels fell off when I went a tad too far and tried black capped sleeves. That was a a bridge too far. So after some unpicking and the application of some bias binding to the armholes I am now very chuffed with the result.  And a girl can't have too many cat themed ensembles in the old wardrobe.  The pattern was very easy to work with and I would definitely recommend it.

Lurking under my skirt is my cat PJ and her good mate the terracotta cat planter.
I really should have tried to get them both in the photo.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Jasmine Blouse

I really wanted this lovely pattern to work out. I found this vintage style craft fabric at Lincraft which may be a bit busy considering the design of the top. The pattern itself came together easily. Though there are quite a few steps and I do tend to lose interest part the way through.  I was happy however to be making a top sans buttons and zip. 

Alas the sizing was way too big and the end product looks like I am wearing 1-2 sizes too big.  I took the seams in as much as I could. Though there wasn’t much I could do about the collar and sleeves. I was surprised how oversized the sleeves were to be honest. You could definitely take up the length of them by a couple of inches.   I have since washed the top a couple of times in hot water. Not sure if that made much of a difference.  I am in the process of making a black full skirt and see if the tops benefits from being tucked into something.  I’m not much of a top tucker but hopefully with a belt it might look less baggy. Such a shame because I absolutely love the fabric and the way the top looks.  It just needs a dash of the “drink me” shrinking potion from Alice in Wonderland and it would be a perfect piece.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Butterick 5316

I've had two successes with this pattern.  Firstly in a red version and then the combo black and white top with navy skirt.  This is one of those patterns I bought and then wasn't overly fussed on, so it sat in the cupboard for a time.   When I finally decided to make up a work dress in my bestest colour friend red, I was really happy with the results and this one always gets me nice comments.  It's also a change to have a plain coloured dress that can be jazzied up with accessories. They are both fully lined which is not always my favourite thing to do, but for work frocks this is probably wise. Overall this is a very good pattern for a tailored dress.

The brooch is from my handmade collection.  

I made up this contrasting version from material which I had lying around. Very happy with the result. I like to pair it with red shoes for some more contrast. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Scalloped edge tops

I found this lovely pattern amongst my vintage patterns and it was an easy top to put together. I was slightly intimidated about the scalloping feature but it turned out to be fairly simple. I sometimes can't get my curved edges as nice and rounded as I would like but both of these tops turned our really well. The neck is little more snug than I would usually like, but I'm getting used to this feature of a lot of 60's patterns. Obviously everyone had a swan like neck back then. There is a back zip and I just used bias binding for the arms instead of facing.

I bought this lovely vintage style fabric on line after seeing it on etsy.
It's 100% cotton but has the look of a linen
I love the colour. I love the design with the elegant teacups.

Surprisingly I found the scalloped edge actually suits a full skirt.

Here's another seersucker fabric that I purchased from Spotlight.
I haven't actually worn this one yet but will no doubt be a summer staple.