Saturday, 12 July 2014

Gatsby Inspired handkerchief, tango dress!

My lovely husband and I have just celebrated our 50th birthdays with a big Gatsby Party.  We decorated the house in 1920s things and all our guest came dressed for the part.

So what to wear for me was the big question.  I did lots of internet searching and decided I liked the look of this tango dress.
I liked the hemline and also the bit of fabric that falls from the shoulders so when you accelerate across the floor it trails behind you!  So essentially I measured up a block for myself and went from there.  It was not smooth sailing and it was more of an engineering project than a straight up sewing project! I added and subtracted bits as I went and sewed and unpicked and re-sewed and unpicked and so on and so forth!  I made the bodice out of upholstery fabric (I have always loved jacquard fabric) and polyester satin for the handkerchief and I bought an organza shawl (scarf) with lace ends which I draped under the armpits. (Just a touch of upper arm camouflage)  And you will all be proud of me for not choosing BLACK!

Here it is on model....

You can see it is shorter at the front and longer at the back.  The neckline is very low and it the end to get the right silouette I decided to go 'bra-less" but had a tight lycra camisole on.  My fabulous mother lent me her long strings of pearls and gave me her marcasite broach.  Perfect!

Here's us all on the fabulous night!  And the highlight for me was the champagne fountain (hired here in Christchurch from the China Cabinet -contact the lovely Maureen).  If you have never had one of these then go for it.  Everyone was thinking it was going to fall over but no it was marvellous and not much spillage.  It's the middle of winter here so it was so nice to have a wonderful celebration in the middle of the dull days.

And I must mention that Megan my neighbour did my hair in true 1920s style. I think I should have been born in that era!

Hubby with someones 'fox-fur'

Yes, I know I look too young to be 50!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Note to self - Winter Pinafore

I really like the idea of a pinafore for winter, but last winter I couldn't find a pattern I liked.  Today I came across this gem of a pinafore, so I'm blogging about it so I have a record of it and can recall it for winter! The only thing is that the neckline could do with a bit more shape :)  I'd probably better buy it before it is discontinued!!!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Springtime - Frocktober!

Hi Bloggers

Spring is here at last and with it my garden turns into a wee piece of paradise.  

The weather is still changeable with some days being summer-hot and some days being winter-cold.

I have been busy sewing but haven't got to share it so here are my last two months projects.

Firstly, this skirt which is made from cotton sateen (stretch) - beautiful to sew but you have to be careful not to stretch it too much when sewing it.  I finished it with a black tape on the hem.  Here's the pattern Simplicity 2766 and I made it shorter for summer.  Love the way the 6-gore skirt falls.

The real excitement of course is the frocks that come with warmer weather.  

  The grey dress which I made back in August out of very stretchy  lacey textured fabric had the potential to go terribly wrong or beautifully right.  I admit to having the material and the pattern NEWLOOK 6802 for many months before plucking up the courage to cut into this delicate piece of stash. It's always the fit that worries me and with different amounts of stretchiness comes the potential for disaster. Luckily for me I did lots of measuring and it fits like a glove.  

I put in the sleeves and then took them out again. It looked a bit too baby doll for me (for a women of my vintage!)  I like the tops of my arms covered now adays (I've seen some photos that made me think this!) so I will wear a touch of a shrug or short sleeved cardi with it.

I looked at other people's attempts at this pattern on and many were were fabulous but some were very disappointing and showed the overtop not covering the undertop.  I can never get cheap stretch toile material that has exactly the same stretch and I think some of the dresses that have been trialled on an alternative piece of fabric aren't right because the fabric is totally wrong.  I don't think you can get a good indication of fit with muslin/calico when you need to be using stretch - and some fabrics are like elastic and other just have a nice give in them like my favourite cotton sateen. If you have some ideas on this one, please share:).

How was I going to make it work? My trick was to use plain grey stretchknit (like thickish t-shirt) fabric underneath and then pull up the feature fabric a lot (2 inches!!!) at the front shoulder seams on both sides.  I am very pleased with the result and the dress part  falls elegantly. I do have to wear a slip underneath since it is quite see through.

To make things easier I used wide grey bias binding to face the back neck and arm holes.

Notice the swirling of the stripes in the top front and then the stripes fall vertically from under the bustline.  (Selfies are quite hard to take - if you would like to see a better photo just say and I will arrange it. I did try to get the dress on my mannequuin tonight but I started wrestling with it and we were both nearly on the floor so I gave up and slipped gracefully into it to take this shot.


Last year's Christmas dress didn't get finished until February but this year I am onto it and have nearly completed it.  I bought the red white and black cotton sateen as soon as this year's summer fabrics arrived at Fabric Vision. 
After much pawing over the patterns on the internet I kept going back to Vogue8685.  I saw a blog which was mad on Mad Men vintage fashion and it had the same bust fitting which was three pleats under each boob to give the shaping.  Then when I found out the cost of vogue patterns there was more procrastination  I've never sewn vogue before.  Last summer I even drafted my own pattern and borrowed Burdastyle from the library, but in the end I decided this one was very nice and I had to have it. 

The stretch on this fabric exactly matched the recommended  stretch as given on the back of the envelope for moderate stretch fabrics.

 Seam allowance is included in this pattern but not being sure which size would fit I added half an inch on the side seams.  I chose to cut out the short version of the skirt but I added 2.5 inches to make it a bit longer.

 Pleats - Three darling pleats - you can see them below as pinned in place. (Note they are not all the same size so it is worth spending time to sew these in place accurately for a great fit.) 

 I decided to put in some black piping so went and bought some satin black but then I realised the piping is not stretch but the fabric is, so I just put it in the front so the back still has give.

I decided to construct my dress in a different order - I did all the front pieces and all the back pices and then I was able to fit it on me for the right fit at the side seams.

The sleeve pieces give a lovely shape and I piped the sleeve as well.


The facing of the neck and sleeves will have to wait for another day!  I am very pleased and it fits like a glove! Love those boob pleats.  I'll take a photo of me in it when it's all finished.  It's a little vintage! And a special frock for Frocktober!

THE REAL VINTAGE STYLE: Here's my fabulous mother in 1950 something with her brother at his wedding.  She made the dress herself of course.

Thanks for reading.  I love to receive comments so feel free to comment and also to ask questions.  I am happy to let you know more about these patterns.  It' one big learning curve this sewing caper!


Since many readers loved my fabulous mother's dress in my last post, I thought I would post this gem from 1960 of Mum, my Dad's cousin Christine and another young lady unknown, in the summer of 1960 sitting on Dad's jaguar! A day at the beach. You can imagine the fun they had in this with the top down. Classic!

Thanks for all your lovely comments. Really appreciate the support from the Monthly Stitchers! 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sewing Knitted Fabric

During June I did put together this little number.  The pattern was from a favourite top which I cut up to use the pattern but becasue this knitted fabric was more stretchy it ended up being a wrap around with a ribbon tie. I added lace trim on the edge.  I did have to hand sew it on becasue the sewing machine kept missing the edge.  I gathered around the bottom of the garment so it has a ballooning effect.  It's very warm and quite elegant.

If I made it again I would cut the waist slightly lower.  I didn't allow for the seam allowance so it sits just a little bit too high - not much but I would have liked the waist to be down an inch.

I got the knitted material  at Sakaguchi's annual sale. I thought it would be hard to sew but it wasn't and it didn't unravel.  It behaved itself admirably.

I found a good tip on making sure that the overlocking doesn't unravel.  You leave a rats tail on the end of the stiching and then thread a needle and sew it in like you would when you put together an actual  knitted garment.

If you wonder if I have disasters.  Yes I do!  I have a half assembled blouse.  The fabric is so flimsy and hard to sew and it doesn't fit and it's not doing what it is supposed to. I think it is going on the scrapheap!  Lesson learned.  Just becasue you like the material, doesn't mean it will be easy to sew!  Be fussy about what you choose.  Getting ambitious is when I am often faced with disaster but then again, I'm not going to get good at sewing if I don't take a few risks now and again.

Lace Skirt - Burda Easy 8155

It wasn't until I joined the sewing bloggers fraternity that I realised that it is perfectly normal behaviour to be a fabric stroker.  I can spend my whole lunch hour stroking divine fabrics - I suppose it is my equivalent of window shopping.  I find the feel of beautiful fabrics therapaeutic - more so than even the colour or pattern.   I feel rather wonderful after such an outing.  I go alone so there is no discussion needed and the lovely people at Fabric Vision - well I guess they know it is all part of the joy and eventually I will buy something.

Remember this lovely image - it's actually a burda pattern for the cardi but I loved the lace skirt.  So I had my eyes pealed and  saw a  similar fabric in Spotlight, and grabbed it.  It is such a  lovely piece of fabric that I was afraid to cut into it and so spent the month of July procrastinating and getting it out and putting it awayt!

But yesterday I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway!

I used
Burda Easy 8155 - it's my third skirt in this pattern and they have all come out quite different!

Look - it's turned out just fine.  I lined it with grey coloured synthetic fabric so that I was sewing a double layer.  I didn't want the seams to show and the lace was slightly stretchyt and the lining was not!  I also decided to do a wee embellishment on the waistband - a grey strip to break it up.

 Mine rides up a bit more than hers!  But love it standing up - I'm imagining myself at a wine and nibbles event where I will be standing and socialising.  Just note that when I first put the lining in I made it perfectly meeting the bottom of the lace.  But when I sast down the lace rode up more and you could see an inch of the lining.  So I redid it so that the lining comes to about 1.5 inches above the hem.


Lovely scalloped edge which graced the hem.

 Detail at waistband. 

Another invisible, invisible zip - now that I know to unzip the zip iron out the curl I can get it oh so invisible!

It's still winter here so I am putting it away so that I have something to wear for when it's gets warmer.  

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Cape Crusade

Suggestions for the Front Closing

The only bit to finish is the front closing.  Do I use hooks and eyes, buttons velcro or what?  I've turned down one side at the front  collar and put a brooch on to make it more modern and less Sherlock Holmes.  My youngest son (13) said he didn't like the cape- but I was in slippers so I changed into boots and jeans and he then said, "Now that looks good!" and I agree.  Let me have some suggestions on how I might close the front.  Vote using the Poll on the right.  Then I will finish it and will take a photo of me in it so you can see how styley it is.  I'm now thinking it will be good for Sunday walks in the Botanical Gardens and to wear to photography club where we sit in a big hall and I often wish I could wear a peggy square rug!

Destruction (Poor Instructions)

BurdaStyle magazine really is doing itself an injustice  by having inadequate instructions. It has not been until I have actually made one of their patterns up that the problem is evident.  There is a lot of clues on the internet though, but I thought, how bad could they really be! It's not like I always follow the instructions, but seriously what are they thinking or not thinking.  It's not fair on the sewing community to assume we instinctively know what they mean. (Yes, I am a bit grumpy about this!)


Apparently the cape is meant to have a vent!  This is me venting about the vent.  What vent? in the back seam, in the side back seams? where?  My cape does not have vents! Vents optional!

The Collar

You know those geometric puzzles - this cape has one of those in the three collar pieces ...and I'm normally good at those sorts of puzzles, but this was infuriating.  In the end I made my own one piece collar (double sided) and put iron on interfacing on one side.

Incredible Hulk Shoulders

My shoulders are not the same as this pattern shape which are more incredible hulk than damzel on a bicycle (like the picture suggests), so I  trimmed down  the sides seam only which turned me into more of an urban batwomen shape.

The Lining

I ended up lining the cape - my fabulous mother says "You are going to line it aren't you!" so that helped with that piece of procrastination.  But since I had changed the shape of the incredible hulk shoulders, it was quite hard to get the lining right but it has turned out fine.  I pressed open seams on the slits for the hands seams and was able to sew the lining seam allowance for a nice finish.  I overlocked the other seams which took out lots of bulk (rhymes with Hulk!)

UPDATE: I'm very pleased with my cape and wore it out shopping at Ballies (Ballantyne's Department Store).  It's like Selfridge's and I always feel posh shopping there! The only disadvantage with the cape in this modern world is the need to wear a lap and diagonal seat belt in the car.  You can hitch it up if you are a passenger but if you are driving then it is a bit tricky so fling it off into the back seat (if there are no kids there of course ) and put it on for your jaunty walk out or shopping escapade!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Let the Cape Commence!

I'm surrounded by capes.  The boys are watching the Dark Knight on telly tonight and since it's Mother's Day my boys have made me feel like a super hero!  My youngest son baked biscuits and made cucumber sandwiches and organised savouries all while the rest of us were at the hockey.  I arrived home to  High Tea all laid out nicely with my fabulous mother also joining us.
I cut out the cape Pattern 112 from Burda Style Magazine 08/2011 size 42.  I gave a generous seam allowance of just under an inch (just in case).   Piece 1 is actually the centre front and the facing section.  Watch out for the straight grain lines: pieces 2 and 4 seem wonky but that's because they drape on an angle.  I gave the hem a little bit extra (2 inches) so I can decide the length I prefer.

I will leave the cape on my model for a few days to see if the shoulders drop.  Perhaps they are a different shape than mine so I might get hubby to pin it on me inside out to get a better falling line.  My shoulders are squarer not so curved.

I have decided to line the cape even though the instructions aren't for a lined cape.  (I'll work it out!)  I imagine myself going out for brunch and flinging it over the back of a chair and it would be nice for some nice black shiney lining to show! And I am going to get some bobbincat labels made just to give it the professional touch. lol

See the fraying !
With the loose weave fabric I would in future zigzag or overloack immediately because as you can see in the photo above they unravel easily.  That got me thinking about button holes and how they could be tricky on this fabric. And then the sewing god spoke. She said go forth and look in Fabric Vision while the boys are warming up for an hour before their hockey game. How could I refuse? After about half an hour of dreaming up creations I nearly fell over a stand adorned in a sewn simplicity garment showing an example of how tape can be used over knit fabric as a firm base for the buttons and button holes.  I whipped out my iphone and took the shot. There is a sewing god - the  universe is talking to me. lol. My tape and buttons will be hidden but they will be better on this as opposed to relying on interfacing for stability.

This is my wonderful machine.  

Who knows the words?  

Bernina, Bernina so easy, simple and versatile,
Bernina, Bernina gets all your sewing done in style,
Bernina, Bernina the experts all agree,
no other sewing machine today is more versatile in every way,
just try it once and you'll agree
what a wonderful machine,

That jingle has been in my head since I was 6 or 7 years old!  (So this machine was the first thing I bought when I started work and it's been going strong ever since - It even got thrown  off a shelf and fell 1.5 m onto a tile floor in the February 22, 2011 earthquake and it still hasn't missed a stitch!

Vintage SINGER Teenage Dress Making Contest Qualifier's Award Pin Broach

I have been growing fond of wearing broaches lately so just out of curiosity I decided to browse ebay.  There's some pretty uuuggggly looking broaches out there, but there is also some exquisite ones. I came across this wonderful keepsake. Some teenager in Ohio, USA earned this badge and as a dressmaker  I am now going to proudly wear it.  Isn't it cute!  Can't wait til it arrives!

Vintage SINGER Teenage Dress Making Contest Qualifier's Award Pin Broach
Happy sewing this week!