Apples and turtles for Dolly

Getting in right at the last minute for Sew Dolly Clackett, I made a dress this weekend!

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, I had big plans for the Dolly Clackett sew-along. I love dresses, and I love quirky prints, and cottons. (And I love Roisin’s style.) So this sew-along? Pretty much perfect, really.

Fabric was chosen, as was the pattern (to start with, making two Cambie dresses). And then, it happened.

The lack of sew-jo.

For a month.

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And not only that, exhaustion set in as well. I was just too darn tired to do anything except fall into bed at a crazy early hour every night.

My sewing machine was gathering dust. The fabric was sitting in it’s pile, untouched and ignored.

What happened?!?!



Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Yep, that’s a 13-week baby bump, folks. :-)

(Which also means there was no way I was gonna be able to squeeze into any Cambie dresses anytime soon. Or anything else with a fitted waist, for that matter.)

And then it was Easter. A 4-day weekend. And the end of the first trimester. The exhaustion lifted slightly, I was rapidly running out of things to wear. Gloriously, the sew-jo returned!

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I dug out Butterick 4513, a re-released 1950′s pattern that I’ve made once before, way back in 2010. It’s a crazy-easy pattern to make, with a total of four pieces – front and back skirt, front and back bodice. Four darts, some elastic at the back, and you’re done. Voila!

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

It’s super-easy to wear, as well. A pull-on style, with elastic at the back so it looks fitted around the waist but that fitted-ness can stretch as required as a baby bump grows. Then spring back into shape for post-baby wear! Win!

Now, I was going to show you a photo of the first time I made this pattern, way back when. I know I did a blog post about it. But can I find it, anywhere?!?! No, I can’t. Argh! Instead, I’ve trawled through the archives and dug out a rather terrible image from Me-Made-June 2011. Here ’tis:

(What you can’t see here is that the top and armholes of the bodice are edged in red bias binding, which extends to tie in bows at the shoulders, just like on the pattern envelope. You’ll just have to imagine that part, I’m afraid.)

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I decided to make a couple of changes this time around. Firstly, I moved the darts, as they were in the wrong place for me. I moved the side bust darts down a couple of centimetres, and moved the bust darts across as well as lowering the point by a good inch. (Can’t remember the exact amounts – I wrote ‘em down, but the paper has gone walk-abouts.) I also shortened the bodice by 2cm as I found the waist of the first dress I made from this pattern was a bit too low. (In hindsight, 1.6cm would have been about perfect for shortening. Next time.) And I shortened the skirt by about 16cm or thereabouts.

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The other change I made was to the shoulder straps. While I like the bias binding finish and the little bows of the pattern, I’m planning to wear this quite a bit over winter with a long-sleeved merino top and tights underneath, and little bows on the shoulder look kinda bulky under cardigans. (Plus, I’m trying to channel Roisin’s style a bit here, and she goes for wider shoulder straps.) So instead, I just made some wide, flat straps and attached them at front and back.

(I reckon the result looks a little bit like this dress of Roisin’s. Only with little wee turtles and fruit on it, instead of floral.)

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m pretty happy with how this came out. It’s super comfy to wear, is gonna work for the next month or two of pregnancy, and will be all good to wear after the baby arrives as well. (In fact, I’ve been wearing it quite a bit the last few days. I’m seriously thinking about making another one with the same adjustments. And pockets, which I forgot to add to this one. And we all know pockets make things awesome-er.)

As to how it’s channeling Roisin’s style? Well, here’s what I was using for inspiration/ideas:

  • It’s a vivid colour (she is rather fond of blue)
  • It’s a cotton in a quirky print (little turtles! Apples and pears!!) (even though it’s a smaller print than she goes for usually)
  • It’s a 1950′s inspired style, with a fitted waist (plus elastic, woo hoo!)
  • It’s got a reasonably high square neckline and wide straps, like the Flora dress she’s been making a lot lately
  • Plus, it works well with brightly coloured shoes and a cardigan. And we all know Roisin’s about the shoes and cardigans. ;-)

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So there we have it – Sew Dolly Clackett, maternity style! (And our front door is even blue, so I could attempt to mimic’s Roisin’s photo shoot style. Hah.)

Dolly Turtles dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The Autumn Playground Miette


Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Seriously folks, this is like MAJOR for me. I’ve always been kinda scared of knitting – fearing it would take ages (coz it does) and I’d get bored and give up not far through (I didn’t!) and that it’d be far faster and more satisfying to just whip something up with the sewing machine. (And possibly also a little bit intimidated – my mother is a rather amazing knitter, and churns out stunning 1940′s cardigans in 4ply crazy fast with intricate details.)

But after seeing so many super cute Miette cardigans all over it place, it seemed like it was time. Time to actually give this knitting lark a try.

So, I did!

And, I made a Miette!!!

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(If you haven’t heard of the Miette before, it’s a free (!) pattern from Andi Satterlund. Who makes all sorts of cute patterns, most of which are now on my things-I-want-to-make list.)

Now, let’s face it. This is my first actual knitted-by-me garment. And I’m not the most patient person in the world. So there’s mistakes in it. I learnt a lot, there’s things I’d do differently next time, but either way, I’m pretty darn happy with this. It’s cute, it fits, it’s got pretty lace type details, and it’s gonna go well with dresses. Plus, it’s pure wool so it’s warm and snuggly, while not being too warm – perfect for autumn and winter in an office.

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Those of you who have seen a few Miette’s out there may notice there are a few differences in my one. It all started with my yarn choice. The pattern calls for 10 ply yarn, and there isn’t all that much of it around here to be found. Instead, I found some pretty 8 ply dove grey 100% wool yarn, and couldn’t quite go past it. I was assured by the lovely Jo that it would be fine, and I’d just need to adjust my sizing to make it work. Which it was, I just made a slightly wrong call about size right at the start, and have only myself to blame for that!

I did my tension swatch like a good little girl, and knit this up in a size 38″ bust rather than the 34″ bust I would normally have gone for.

In hindsight, I should have gone up another size, as it wasn’t quite big enough so I ended up making extra-wide button bands to get the added width I needed. I’m calling it a design feature. ;-)

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I also should have added some to the length between the underarm and the start of the bust shaping, as the cardigan was too short. (Yeah, I went up a size, but completely didn’t think that of course it would be shorter when using a smaller ply yarn and smaller needed. Duh! Yep, I’m a knitting novice. Lesson learned.) I only thought about the length issue when I got to the end of the ribbing at the waist and discovered (surprise, surprise) that it was too short. So, I just extended the ribbing until it was the right length. ;-)

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since the button bands and waist ribbing were both wider than designed, I also widened the neck band so it didn’t look too unbalanced, and put a button and button hole on the neck band.

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Overall, even with all of those ‘design features’ I reckon it works ok.

(Admittedly, I may be slightly biased, since I’m just so darn proud of myself for sticking it out and actually knitting a garment!!)

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The buttons are from Made Marion – soft grey ovals that dip down in the middle. The yarn is Natural Grey 100% ool 8 ply (double knit) from Skeinz (their own name brand). It smells a little bit like sheep, which I like.

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Even with the alterations, it was still a tiny bit too small and too short, so I blocked it out (look at me, knowing knitting terms and all! Woo!) and stretched it a bit while blocking, so now it fits well. Yay!

(And yes, I admit it. I am now working on becoming a ‘knitter’. Turns out it’s a great hobby for when hanging out with people or travelling, as you don’t have as much to carry with you and you can knit and talk at the same time. Win.)

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And I’d like to give a huge shout-out to my wonderful mother, and my wonderful kinda-mother-in-law (what do you call your partner’s mother? I have no idea?), both of whom are wonderful knitters and helped me out a lot when I couldn’t understand the terminology or made mistakes (both of which happened quite a bit!). Thanks! :-)

I’ve already started work on another Andi Satterlund pattern – the cropped sweater for winter. This time, in the recommended 10 ply yarn to see how it goes.

We wandered out late afternoon to a nearby playground for photos, and to give the Little Guy a run around. It’s rained every day for the past two weeks here, so any break in the weather for outdoor adventures is good! Rather cold though, hence the several layers, haha!

Little Guy found a scooter another child had left behind, and despite it being far too big for him he was determined to ride it. Big grins as we circled around for ages!

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Fabric-a-brac good times

If you’re in Wellington, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what happened yesterday. Fabric-a-brac!

Tables piled high with fabric-y goodies, waiting for the doors to open to customers.

Tables piled high with fabric-y goodies, waiting for the doors to open to customers.

Yep, the twice-yearly fabric lovers event was on again, chock-full of fabulous finds, vintage goodies, tasty treats, and fundraising for the local hospice.

Fabric lovers waiting for the doors to open.  (In the rain!  Now that's dedication to fabric.)

Fabric lovers waiting for the doors to open. (In the rain! Now that’s dedication to fabric.)

And naturally enough, I was there. (Well, I kinda had to be, since I’m one of the organising committee these days.) From set-up to (nearly the end of) pack-down, and all times in-between. Organising the ‘cafe’ room, looking after the stall a friend and I shared in an attempt to downsize our stashes, and ‘accidentally’ buying more goodies I spotted on other stalls.

One of the 'cafe' tables, waiting for people needing a break from rummaging through fabric.

One of the ‘cafe’ tables, waiting for people needing a break from rummaging through fabric.

(I’m feeling rather proud of myself though – I came home with less fabric than I took with me! Very restrained, I was.) (And yes, it was hard to be!)

Tasty homemade treats at the 'cafe'.  (Those choc-chip biscuits?  Amazing!!!)

Tasty homemade treats at the ‘cafe’. (Those choc-chip biscuits? Amazing!!!)

Pretty much all of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network made their way through during the day, and at one point a bunch of us ended up congregated in the ‘cafe’, over tea and cake.

(From the front to the , going right clockwise: Trees, Ria (not a blogger but we like her anyway), Juliet, Jenna, Emma, Gemma, Nikki, Johanna, Sandra, me, and Joy.)

Wanna see what I came away with? (If not, look away now, because I feel the need to share!)

Vintage brown floral cotton, polka-dot something-or-other (true fact: I’m kinda bad at identifying most fabrics *shame*) synthetic, crepe-like in feel, and a bit sheer, and two smallish pieces of rib.

Brown floral vintage something-that-seems-like-viyella, pink and blue floral vintage something-else-that-might-be-viyella, and a heavyweight cotton twill (small pieces, likely to become overalls for the Little Guy).

A copy of ‘Dreaming of Chanel’, two rolls of vintage overlocker thread, and some buttons with trains and cars on them (a gift from the lovely Zara for the Little Guy – thanks Zara!)

Yep, all in all, a successful day. De-stashed some of my stash that wasn’t inspiring me, bought some new-to-me goodies that do inspire, saw a bunch of my lovely friends, and raised a bunch of money for a good cause. Win. :-)

Ladybird Ballet

Guess what? I was working away on my Sew Bossy dress, and nearly finished, with only the hem left to go. Exciting! And then I tried it on properly after attaching the buttons. Yeah. Even though I’d been a good girl and tried it on a couple of times while making it, somehow everything went horribly wrong. Let’s just say – there’s gonna be a fair bit of unpicking of top stitching and gathers, and re-positioning of buttons and button holes, before it’s going to look any good.

So I got grumpy and made something else to cheer me up.

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

With ladybirds on it, because who can be grumpy when sewing ladybirds, right?!

I wanted to use a pattern I was pretty sure would work on me (didn’t want to risk two disasters in a row!), so I pulled out my trusty La Sylphide pattern from Papercut. I’ve made this up a couple of times before, in the dress version, and they both get a lot of wear.

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My first thought was to make this up in the dress again, but turned out I didn’t have enough fabric. After a bit of mucking around with pattern placement, I figured I could get the peplum blouse out of the ladybirds. Been meaning to try the blouse for a while, to see if peplums actually look ok on me or not (or if it was just the knit fabric ones that look terrible on me).

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I lengthened the neck tie by about 25cm in total, having learnt before that I like more length in my pussy bow. (Random sentence, no?)

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I also lowered the bust darts by about 1.5cm, since they tend to hit too high on me. (A problem I have with pretty much all bust darts, ever. Vintage or modern. Maybe my girls are just in a weird place or something….)

And since I was eking this out of not-quite-enough fabric, I also shortened the sleeves, to a length that fit onto the fabric. ;-) (Since I shortened them, I didn’t bother with the interfaced hem on the sleeves either – I figured this fabric was stiff enough to cope without interfacing on the sleeves, and sure enough, all is good.)

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And coz we all know how much I like sewing with hammers, I used white snap fasteners instead of buttons. Oh, I do love snap fasteners, so much fun to put on (and to take off again, heh ;-)

The verdict? I’m liking it! And I think it’s converted me to peplums actually looking ok on me. (Maybe I’ll brave a couple of my 1940′s peplum top patterns now….)

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Plus, it has ladybirds on it. What’s not to love about that?!?

To define where the peplum flares out, I’ll probably always sling a belt around the waist. I just like it better that way – it’s quite a busy fabric, and the belt breaks it up a bit and shows off the lines of the blouse more I reckon.

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And check it out – we found a wall that matched my shoes and hair and belt! Matchy-matchy, oh yeah!

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Days in photos

Been a while since I posted any Photo A Day challenge images. But I got a new (“real”!) camera the other day (very exciting! It’s a DSLR and everything!) so have started doing the challenges again. (And yes, one day soon I plan on telling you all about (aka “showing off”!) my new camera!)

Anyway, here we go – part of March, in pictures….

7 March – Fly

First outing with my new camera! Also the first ‘date’ my guy and I had been on since the Little Guy arrived (big thanks to my little sis’ for looking after Little Guy for the evening!). In cliched-pretending-to-be-hipsters fashion, we took our cameras down to the Wellington waterfront for a walk before heading to an awesome Japanese restaurant for dinner.

Sea spray, flying when it hit the edge of the random concrete block creation at one of the jutting-out parts of the waterfront.

8 March – In The Corner

Lil’ sis’ and I wandered out to an abandoned lot nearby to get photos of my Wolf in Denim jeans. Looking up at the intersection of two graffiti-covered walls, to a hardy plant clinging on and blue sky above. I liked the colours. :-)

9 March – 10am
Yet again, chaos of toys scattered across the lounge, proof that the Little Guy had passed by a couple of minutes previously.

10 March – Far Away
Looking out over the harbour on my walk to work in the morning – the remains of sea fog blanketing the Hutt Valley and a boat outlined against it.

11 March – Something Good
Paint colour samples arrived today! Time to start choosing what colour to paint the lounge….

12 March – Partial
A partially-read book, hanging out on the bedside table.

14 March – Care
Last day at my job today – a lovely friend and colleague took the time to give the florist who put together my ‘farewell’ flowers a good description of what I was like, so they could come up with a bunch that suited me. Lovely care shown by both my friend, and the florist who really cares about who their flowers are going to. (Orange and yellow! With splashes of pink! Yes!!)

Strawberry Shortcake Coppelia

Hey hey! Ready for some more Twinsies sewing?

While we were waiting on the votes for what we sew next to roll in, Mel and I caught up to get pics of our latest Twinsies creation – the Coppelia wrap cardigan from Papercut patterns!

Papercut’s Coppelia wrap cardigan

(Spoiler: this won’t be the last one of these you see on here. I may be in love with this pattern. More are planned for the fast-approaching winter, oh yes.)

Now, we always end up with rather different looking garments when we do our Twinsies creations, but I think this time is the most diverse yet! Mel lengthened her Coppelia and the waist ties. I shortened the sleeves on my one. Two very different results, no? (This is what I love the most about Twinsie sewing – we don’t talk much beforehand about what we’re doing, so it’s always a surprise to see what the other one has come up with when we meet up to do our joint photo shoots. As you can imagine, there’s lots of comparing and exclaiming going on at that point.)

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Despite appearances, we didn’t co-ordinate our outfits/hair. Even though my hair matches Mel’s top and the top she’s wearing under her Coppelia matches my Coppelia. Happy accidents for co-ordinated photos, let’s just go with that, ok?)

This is actually the second Coppelia I’ve made – the first was a gift for one of my sisters-in-law for Christmas, which I don’t have a photo of yet. (Mum, if you’re reading this, can you go get photos for me? Thanks! ;-) ) I lengthened that one though, so this is the first one I’ve made at the ‘proper’ short length.

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Conveniently, I also tried on the one I made for my sister-in-law, and found I needed to go down a size from what I was expecting to cut out, as it’s a looser fitting style that I thought it would be. Bonus fitting practice while gift making = all ’round win.)

This is a crazy quick and easy pattern to put together, with nice neat edges due to all the wide hem finishes and the wrist cuffs (if, like Mel, you make it with the full sleeve-length). Very satisfying to whip up, this one was!

I made my one out of a lightweight merino wool, purchased from the Levana textile outlet a year or so ago. I found three rectangular pieces of this gorgeous wide red-and-pink stripe in the remnant bin, for the grand sum of 50c a piece (crazy cheap!!). So naturally, I snaffled them up fast and clung on to them until I figured out what to use them for. (I mean c’mon – how often do you come across pink-and-red-wide-striped merino?!? Yeah, not often. Gotta get that stuff when you can.)

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since I only had the three (reasonably small) remnants, cutting this one out was a bit of a challenge! (In fact, I think it took longer to cut out than it did to sew. Hmmm.) With the raglan sleeves, I wanted the stripes to meet where the sleeves joined the body, so there was a fair bit of careful pattern placement to figure out how to make that happen, while still having enough fabric for the bindings and ties. Oh yes, let me tell you now – there was not a lot of fabric left when I was done! (That’s also what dictated the sleeve length – that was all I had. Indeed.)

I’m pretty proud of how it turned out though – kinda hard to see in these photos, but those stripes, they match up well. And luckily I could get the bindings out of the red rather than the pink, because let’s face it, pale pink next to my skin just Doesn’t Suit Me. At All. (Even though occasionally I forget about that fact. Oops.)

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Only alteration I made was stretching the bands a bit when attaching them around the neckline, to make sure they didn’t start to sag open a bit over time. That worked out well – it’s a nice, close fit. (I think I chopped about 5cm off each end of the neck band once I’d attached it? Can’t quite recall though, may have been slightly less….)

This hits me slightly below the waist – perfect for wearing with 1950′s dresses and skirts. (I can also attest that it layers well over long-sleeved tops on colder days.)

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mel and I met up with the lovely Nikki for lunch to get these photos – picnicking out on the grounds of parliament, then posing with trees. Always a good thing to do on a break from work, no? ;-)

(Big thanks to Nikki for playing photographer for us!)

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And we can’t have a Papercut Twinsies photo shoot without the ‘Papercut love’ pose, now can we? This time, sitting in a tree. Just because we (sort of) could. Even though we were wearing high heels at the time and the tree was on a slope. Coz that’s the sort of thing we do for you guys.

Strawberry Shortcake Papercut Coppelia | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Trousers for little people

Sometimes I blog about things I’ve made straight away. Other times, I mean to, but then I get distracted, and it can be a while before I get around to doing it. Yep – this post is one of those latter ones. (And I can now cross it off my blog to-do list! Yay! Something so satisfying about crossing things off to-do lists, ahhhh….)

Back in December, they were doing a collection of things for the Wellington City Mission’s Christmas drive – food, toys, etc to make up Christmas parcels for families in need. Seemed like a good time to break out the sewing machine.

(But let’s face it – any time is a good time to break out the sewing machine!)

I also pulled out my trusty little kids trousers pattern (Simplicity 3766), hunted through my stash for some cute cottons, and made these, to fit one-year-old toddlers:

Green and white gingham with red cherries
Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Blue with pirates
Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And since I was about it (and he needed new trousers) I made the Little Guy a pair of red pirate trousers as well.
Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

His grandmother showed him how to water the garden. Cute!

Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes