Category Archives: Things I’ve made

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?!?!

Well….

this.

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

Oh my gosh, GUESS WHAT?!?!? I KNITTED SOMETHING!!!!!

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

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

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

A Wolf in Denim

Yep, I made a third pair of trousers. Three pairs in one month, even. (Blame The Monthly Stitch – it challenged me to make trousers, so I figured, may as well jump in with both feet. Especially since I usually avoid making these things.)

This time – meet the Peter and the Wolf trousers from Papercut!

Now, these are so very, very far from my usual style. (After all, they don’t resemble a 1940′s or 1950′s dress in any way, now do they?) I’ve never been one for skinny pants – tried a pair on once, looked horrible on me, avoided them ever since. But, well, that yoke detail – even though I was pretty sure the finished garment wouldn’t be my style, I had to try making them just to try making that yoke.

(Do others fall prey to this as well? The strong desire to make something just for the sake of trying to make it, rather than because you want to wear it in the end?) (Or is it just me? <- sad, lonely voice from the corner)

Anyway, here’s what the finished garment looks like!

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since they’re quite a tight-fitting pair of trousers, and the pattern calls for a woven with some stretch, I went for a stretch denim, and used the reverse side for the contrast yokes.

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I used the reverse for contrast on the pocket facings as well, but in hindsight should have probably just stuck with contrast yokes. Next time….

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The only alteration I made to the pattern when cutting out was the length – I'd heard from Sandra from when she made her fabulous black-and-red pair that they end up quite cropped. And I'm not really one for cropped trousers (heck, the vast majority of RTW trousers are cropped on me when they aren't meant to be, so I've had a pre-sewing lifetime of unintentionally cropped trousers to try and recover from!). So even though the scalloped hem is utterly gorgeous, I sadly removed it by extending the length instead.

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Which I didn’t do enough, it turns out and had to add a cuff at the bottom with the little scraps that were left from my cutting out, to get a bit of extra length. (Whoops!)

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern went together really nicely, as all Papercut ones I’ve ever made have done. Nice, clear instructions, good drafting, and overall an enjoyable sew.

I did a bit more topstitching than what was called for, as the denim I used has a fair bit of stretch and I was worried about the seams bursting. So the side seams got topstitched as well, as did the full crotch seam (front and back). (And I can reasonably safely say they’re nice and strong, since I wore these around the house all day on Saturday to test them out! ;-) )

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

For fun, I used some pink quilting cotton with cupcakes on it for the pocket lining, that I got from my secret santa in the 2013 Sewists Secret Santa Swap. (Thanks, secret santa!) Coz, you know – cupcakes. (Need I say more?)

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

To my shame, the front and back yokes don’t line up all that well on one side. Not sure how I missed this – guess that’s what happens when you sew with a head cold. Grrr. (And then I compound my feeling of duh-ness around this by showing you all how well they don’t match up….)

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

These are meant to be a mid-rise style, but the seam where the waistband hits the trousers hits exactly on my hip bones. A bit lower than I was expecting, and I had to add a bit of extra length (like, 7cm extra!) to the waistband to get it to do up when going directly across my hip bones. (Eek!) Next time, I’ll add a bit of length to the front and back pieces, to get these sitting an inch or two higher. (Because of where they hit, the waistband doesn’t sit as smoothly as it should either. But hey, I’ll always be wearing a tshirt or the like over these, so that won’t really matter.) Admittedly, I’m quite tall (177cm), so these are probably going to sit a bit higher on other people. (Have you made them? Do they sit higher?? I’m curious to know!)

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So yes, the Peter and the Wolf trousers. So not my usual style. And I must admit, I’m not 100% certain on this pair on me. Do they fit ok? (I don’t ever wear trousers this tight, so I’m finding it hard to tell if there are fitting issues in the front section, or if it’s just that the style is so foreign to me!) Do they look any good? (Again, so far from my style I can’t tell!) Please people – give me your honest opinions!!!

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Whether they look any good on me or not, though, I do recommend this pattern. It comes together well, has interesting details, and great instructions. (And I’m contemplating how to convert it into a skirt variation next time I make it, so I can still get that yoke detailing but without the doubt of skinny pants wearing going on.)

Papercut Peter and the Wolf trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and check out my shoes! I love these – still breaking them in, must get to work on that coz they’re far too pretty to sit languishing in my wardrobe. They’re the ‘Apple Dimple’ style from Minx. Totally my favourite shoe brand.

Apple Dimple shoes by Minx | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Thanks to my lovely sister for taking the photos! She did such a good job I had a hard time choosing which ones to use, hopefully it hasn’t given you all photo overload as a result. ;-) (Poll time – lots of photos, or less photos? Which is best for you?)

Floaty Floral Tanias

Hey, check it out! I made a skirt!

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Or did I….

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Nope, that’s right. They’re culottes!

Megan Nielsen‘s Tania Culottes to be precise.

Now, I must admit that ordinarily this pattern wouldn’t interest me. But, well, February was the Smarty Pants challenge over on The Monthly Stitch. And a couple of the girls were making the Tania’s for it. And the next thing I knew, there was a meet-up planned, with a trip to the Newtown fair, all wearing Tania culottes. What can I say? I kinda had to make a pair and join in the fun!

Five pairs of Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Yep, that’s five of us, all wearing Tanias. From left to right: Nikki, Emma, me, Mel, and Jen.

That wasn’t all of us though – we also had a remote participant – Mel’s sister Tania! (Tania doesn’t have a blog (yet!) but she makes some pretty fabulous jewellery. Both her and Mel are wearing it in these pics.)

Tania

Tania

So much fun making the same pattern and wearing it out together! And the fair was awesome – we got to eat hot dogs and roti and fudge and spend far too much money on jewellery and dance to the Batucada drum troupe.

Want to get a better look at everyone’s Tania’s? Here you go:

Jen

Jen

Mel

Mel


(Mel’s blog post about her Tanias can be found here.)

Nikki

Nikki


(Nikki’s blog post about her Tanias can be found here.)

Emma and I (plus toddlers on our backs)

Emma and I (plus toddlers on our backs)

I made my pair up in a soft cotton – white with a pink and blue floral design on it. (If it looks familiar, it’s because I also used it for this dress over here. The Tania’s took the last of it though!)

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This is such a fun, easy pattern to make up. Only four pieces, and nothing complicated at all. There’s a rather ingenious way of doing things at the centre front and back – the fabric is pleated and joined so that it looks like a box pleat, which neatly conceals the centre seams and hides that they’re culottes.

And very full culottes they are, too! There’s pretty much a circle skirt around each leg. (Admission: I may have accidently put both of my legs into the one leg hole when I first tried them on, and wondered why I couldn’t get them up. Yeah, the legs are that wide it’s rather easy to do!)

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I cut out the size M. However, this pattern is (extremely!) super short, so I used the XL hem length and then added another 13cm of length on top of that. And next time I’d probably add a couple more cm on top of that….

The other adjustment I made was to add an in-seam side pocket on the side that doesn’t have the invisible zip fastening. Coz, you know. Pockets are awesome. I put it a bit further down that usual, to make sure that when I carry (heaps of) things, it won’t spoil the line of the culottes.

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

There’s one other adjustment I’d make next time – I found the crotch on these to be a bit higher than I was expecting (and, truth be told, a bit higher than is fully comfortable when sitting down!) and had to lower it. Next time, I’ll take it down a couple of centimetres, since they’re culottes I don’t think it needs to be that close to the body. (Definitely something to watch out for if you’re lining them, as it’ll be even higher on lining pieces!)

But yes, overall this pattern was a win! Fast, easy and fun to make, and fun to wear as well. :-)

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since it proved rather difficult to get decent photos in the crowd at the fair, Jen and I took the Little Guy to one of our local playgrounds to get some other shots. Where he proceeded to demonstrate new-and-improved climbing skills and lack of fear by going as high as he could, running across the swing bridge, and hurtling down slides. Eek!!!

And photo-bombing at every opportunity….

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Floaty Floral Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cat’s Meow Thurlows

Here’s something that doesn’t tend to appear on this blog – trousers! For me!!

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m being pushed out of my usual style, thanks to February’s challenge over at The Monthly Stitch was Smarty Pants.

Since I’ve seen so many great versions around the interwebs, I thought I’d try the Thurlow trousers by Sewaholic.

I must admit that I nearly gave up right at the start though – the tissue paper was horribly thin, and there were So Many Pieces to trace and cut!!! It took ages!!! (Seriously. About three times as long as it usually takes me to trace a pattern. Erp.) I’m not entirely sure (will need to check the pattern again, but the idea of unfolding and then refolding that thin tissue paper doesn’t fill me with joy), but I think there was a bit of unnecessary extra work tracing and cutting as well. I’m pretty sure the pattern said to cut out two fly extensions, two fly facings, and two belt loops. But you only need one of each. Also, there are separate pieces for the right and left front legs, which seems a bit unnecessary, since the only difference between the two is a 1cm additional allowance down the fly seam on one side – easy enough to cut them both out together, then have a line marking where to trim down one side, and far less work that having to trace and cut two individual pieces.

But I persevered, and I’m glad I did, as I am rather fond of my new trews. :-)

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since Sewaholic is designed for a pear-shaped figure, and I’m more of an hourglass (with a very small bust, which is kinda the opposite to an hourglass, but it’s the closest figure match I seem to get measurement-wise), I wasn’t sure how well these would fit me. I had to do a bit of grading while tracing, grading the hips down a size from the waist. With so many pieces, I was a little worried that I’d make a mistake when grading, but it all went smoothly and there were no fitting issues around the hips at all. Yay!

One interesting feature of the Thurlows is the way the waistband is constructed. There’s a centre back seam on it, and there’s also a ‘back extension’ on the trousers themselves, giving you lots of extra fabric to play with if you need to make adjustments. And let’s face it, almost all of us are likely to need to adjust the centre back of trousers to get them to fit us properly, right? While I’m not a huge fan of a centre back seam on a waistband, the way Sewaholic has done is it very clever – it means you’ve got the perfect opportunity to fit them exactly to you at the back, and adjust the waistband at the same time. (And yes, I adjusted mine – took them in by an extra 1cm along the centre back seam (i.e. a total of 2cm across).)

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Speaking of the waistband, one bit of the instructions that confused me was sewing the pointed bit of the waistband together. They get you to sew the two sides together at the pointed end, all the way down to the long edge. But I found that when I went to attach the waistband to the trousers, I had to unpick the last 1.5cm of that seam so I could fold the edge of the waistband under properly. Next time, I’ll just stop stitching 1.5cm (5/8″) before I reach the long edge, save myself a bit of unpicking effort.

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My original plan was to make these in a blue denim – I haven’t had any jeans that fit me for quite a while now, and every so often I feel the lack of them in my wardrobe. But although I hunted high and low, I couldn’t find the blue denim I thought I had in my stash anywhere. I did, however, find a heavy black denim, so decided to go with that instead. ;-)

And then I figured I may as well follow the black-with-leopard theme that I had going on a couple of makes ago, and use leopard-print quilting cotton for the lining sections – inner waistband, fly front, and front and back pocket bags.

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Next time though, I’ll use a fabric that’s the same colour as the shell fabric for the fly facing – it’s the only part that risks accidentely peeking out at the world while wearing the trousers and would be pretty easy to spot if you used a high-contrast colour for it.)

Since the denim is so heavy, I omitted the interfacing from everywhere except for the fly facing as some of those seams were going to be plenty bulky enough for my sewing machine to deal with already. (The fly facing was cut out of the leopard print, so it needed interfacing.)

One area where the pattern didn’t fit me so well was the back of my upper thighs. I’m not sure how much of this was to do with my fabric choice – after all, denim can hang quite differently to lighter-weight trouser fabric. Or it could have been because the pattern is designed for a pear shape, which I am not, so that part of the fit may have been doomed from the start. No idea. (Those who have made these and aren’t pear shapes, how did you find the fit just under the bum? I’m curious to hear!)

Anyway, whatever the cause, I ended up with a fair bit of extra fabric pooling just under th’ bum. (Random things to utter online. Whatever.)

With the help of my lovely sister (thanks, Jen!) we solved the problem. Can you spot the difference below? One leg is basted with the alterations, the other is left untouched. (Plus a bonus toddler photo bomb.)

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Here’s another pic to show the difference. (Please ‘scuse the basting thread peaking out of the centre back seam there. Oops.)

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

To get rid of that pooling fabric, I ended up taking them in by 1.6cm at the outer thigh, and 1.1cm at the inner thigh. So a total change in each thigh circumference of 5.4cm.

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’d probably have been better off doing a fish-eye dart to get rid of the excess, but since they were already made up I just went with taking them in at the side seams instead. And hey, it seemed to work fine. :-)

One very happy surprise – even though I did my usual lengthening of the legs by around 5cm when cutting out, it was totally unnecessary. These trousers are loooong!! (I approve!!)

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Once I got that thigh fitting issue sorted, these trousers fit well. I likes them! I’ve already worn them a few times, and they’ll be getting plenty more wear in the future. (And possibly another pair of Thurlows to keep them company…. Hmmm….)

Since we could, the lovely Mel ad I did another twinsies creation! (You can read all about her pair of Thurlows over here.)

We ducked out one lunchtime to catch up with some of our lovely Wellington-based sewing blogging friends, and got some pics at Frank Kitts park in the CBD. (Thanks to Sandra for playing photographer!)

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Gotta show the contrast details, right?

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

We love our new Thurlows.

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Twinsie photos 4 eva, yo!

Cat's Meow Thurlows | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Rock-a-birdy Bleuet

A month or two back, the lovely ladies of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN) were debating – what will our next self-set sewalong challenge be? We put it to vote, and the winner was – making something using a Deer&Doe pattern!

And since we were using Deer&Doe patterns, we figured we may as well head to where the deer were for a photo shoot, so decided on a day trip to Staglands, a family animal park just outside of Wellington. (Not that any of us had been there before, but we figured that with a name like ‘Staglands’, the chance of there being deer there was quite high. Plus, we were somewhat curious as to what it was like!)

So last weekend, a few of us drove along a narrow, windy, steep, surrounded-by-native-bush road, being deafened by the sound of cicadas, until we reached Staglands tucked away in it’s valley. And oh my, was it worth the trip! We spent all afternoon there, and didn’t even get to see everything. It’s set up so well – lots of zones, lots of different animals to meet and feed and watch. Heaps of native bush, creeks and streams and bridges. And a Secret Garden with rabbits running around to pet!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And of course, some deer, too. :-)

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But anyway, I guess you want to hear about what we made, right? Well, would you believe it – the four of us that turned up wearing Deer&Doe creations all made the same thing! The Bleuet dress. So we got to roam around the park in a pack of matching dresses. ;-)

Quadruple Bleuets | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(From left-right: Nikki, me, Mel and Jen.)

Quadruple Bleuets | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made my Bleuet out of a stretch denim. (Admittedly, I would have preferred it not to be stretch, but that’s what I had to hand. And I’ve long been wanting a denim shirt dress, because I found these awesome swallow iron-on embroidered patches at a store a while back, and they’ve been needing me to make them a denim shirt dress for them to live on. So a denim Bleuet it was to be!)

Deer&Doe Bleuet dress

Deer&Doe – Bleuet dress pattern

Just because it was fun, I used the reverse side of the denim for contrast – on the collar (although I used the ‘outer’ side for the inside collar band, for contrast on the contrast, haha!), the bow, and the sleeve cuffs. The original plan was to use pearl snap fasteners, but I’m trying to be very good and not buy more stuff when I have so much already, so I went digging through my stash and unearthed enough red snap fasteners to use down the front. So, red fasteners it became!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I figure it’s got a bit of a ‘rockabilly’ look to it, what with shirt dress, denim, swallows, and red. Don’t ya think?

And because all dresses should have pockets, I added pockets to the centre side panels. Nice, deep ones, good for carrying things.

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My little sis’ made a Bleuet too – we spent all of Saturday sewing together, getting them finished in time for the outing. I used some of the scraps of her (covered with birds) Bleuet for the pocket lining in mine – check it out! More birds!!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Changes I made:

  • Lengthened the skirt by 15.5cm
  • Added pockets to the centre side panels (I’m going to put up a tutorial sometime soon in case anyone is interested in how to do this)
  • Did a super-dodgy small bust adjustment (SBA) by shaving 1cm off the bust curve of the side front (don’t try this at home, kids!)
  • Only put interfacing on one side of the collar and collar stand (I figured with a heavy fabric, it didn’t need more than that)

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This was my first experience sewing up a Deer&Doe pattern, and I must admit it was a bit mixed. Things I loved – the packaging and booklet are super cute, the language is friendly and engaging, the design is adorable (seriously – that bow is just so cute!!), and the pattern paper is nice and thick, really easy to trace and work with. Oh, and the bow is not only super-cute, but also made in a rather fun and easy way. :-)

Exploring Staglands | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Things I didn’t love to much – the instructions were a bit odd at times. They don’t include cutting the interfacing in the cutting layout, so you have to hunt through the instructions to figure out what bits you need to cut – not so good when you want to do all the prep in one go as it’s very easy to miss things. Also, I felt they ask for too much interfacing – usually only one side of the collar and collar stand gets interfaced (if I remember correctly anyway – I’m now doubting all others I’ve made in the past, oops!), rather than both. I don’t feel that the sleeve cuff needs interfacing either, since it’s essentially folded in four and is therefore quite sturdy and strong. Also, the instructions for attaching the collar and stand are just plain weird – not clear at all, and what they seem to be asking you to do is a heck of a lot harder than it needs to be, with lots of room for having to unpick and resew things due to things not 100% lining up. (Same with attaching the sleeve cuff, for that matter).

So yeah. The pattern itself I like, but I do feel that the instructions made it harder than it needed to be.

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out though. The sleeve cuffs are a little bit tighter than I would have liked (I’ll extend the sleeve cuff width by about 3cm next time so they’re not so constricting), and I’m not 100% certain I like it the length I’ve ended up with, but still I am rather fond of it and I suspect it’s going to be getting a lot of wear, especially in weekends. :-)

Oh, and we got to meet, and feed, lots of animals!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet (with a sheep) | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My Little Guy (and my Bigger Guy) both came along too and really enjoyed themselves. Such a fun day all around! :-)

Meeting Deer | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Stag | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Channeling Dita

It was a public holiday here in New Zealand today – Waitangi Day. And I had a pre-arranged half-day of sewing time, all to myself. Exciting!! *bounce*

Guess what I was planning to do with it? Finish off a top I’ve been making, cut out some trousers, and trace a couple of patterns.

Guess what I actually did with it? Finish off a top I’ve been making, and get all inspired by the Fashion Icon challenge at Project Sewn this week and make a skirt to go with said top.

Yep, that’s right – even with my sewing queue being crazy-long right now, I ignored it all and made a Dita von Teese inspired outfit today instead.

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I rather admire Ms von Teese. She’s not a classic beauty, but she knows what works for her, and she appreciates good style and good quality. (Plus, she’s got a throwback to vintage styles thing going on, and I do happen to be rather fond of that.) Wish I could wear red lippy as well as she does…. *sigh*

(Admittedly, it currently clashes with my hair, which may be part of why it doesn’t work so well on me…. Hmmm…)

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

When I think of Dita, I think of things like woven fabrics, black, leopard, collars, wiggle skirts, and 1950′s pin-up style. (Plus that red lippy, of course.)

dita

The top is the Alma top from Sewaholic patterns. It’s the first time I’ve used a Sewaholic pattern – I have another one planned for this month, so I’ll hold off having a strong opinion on them until I’ve tried a second pattern. (I will say one thing though – the tissue paper they use is extremely flimsy and horrible to work with when tracing. Do not like.) (I do like the way the pattern envelopes are making a rainbow of colour though – very cute!)

Sewaholic Alma top

Sewaholic Alma top

My Alma is made of quilting cotton, with the contrast collar in a black cotton drill. (Which, as it turns out, shows up all sorts of fluff when photographed.)

Sewaholic Alma top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Originally, I made the Alma with sleeves, like so:

Sewaholic Alma top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But unexpectedly, the sleeves were waaaay too tight on me under the arms. (Yeah – follow the line of my arm below and you may be able to spot the complete lack of any decent amount of ease at the underarm area there.) Not a problem I ever really have when sewing, so it came as quite a surprise!

Sewaholic Alma top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So, those puppies had to come off. (If you look at the photos of the sleeveless Alma, you’ll see there’s no gaping around the arm sythe – good for sleeveless, not so good with sleeves in.)

The other key change I made to the Alma was the fastening. The pattern calls for a side zipper, but I kinda have a habit of getting stuck in garments with side zips. (Seriously. I’ve had some horror moments in changing rooms in the past where I’ve been stuck half-in, half-out of a dress or similar, completely unable to get it past my shoulders while taking it off, and in fear of bursting seams.) These days, I just avoid anything with a side zip that has to go over my shoulders. I changed it to a centre-back zip instead, a very easy change to make. Instead of cutting the back on the fold, I cut it with a 1.5cm seam allowance (5/8″ for you Americans). Used a 60cm long invisible zip and inserted it from the bottom, making sure there was about 3.5cm left between the neckline and the base of the zipper, to allow enough room to fold over the seam allowance.

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Deviating from the pattern a bit, I did a bias facing rather than a neck facing (it just seemed a bit odd to have a collar and a neck facing….). Believe it or not, it was the first time I’ve done a bias facing. Heck knows how I’ve made it this far without doing one! So easy that I used it again on the armholes. The hem is bound with a vintage cotton tape. (Bias and tape in green and brown – shades of the jungle coz, you know, that’s where leopards hang out.)

Sewaholic Alma top details | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The skirt is the “pink” Hummingbird skirt from Cake patterns. I’ve made this one before so it was nice and easy to put together (even without the instructions, as my copy of the pattern is away from home at the moment). I made it in the same cotton drill that the Alma’s collar is made from. And I completely forgot to take a photo, but the pockets are lined with the leopard print fabric I used in the top. Bringing the whole ensemble together, indeed.

Hummingbird skirt and top from Cake Patterns

Hummingbird skirt and top from Cake Patterns

I’ve changed size a bit since my last Hummingbird skirt, plus my last one sat lower than I’d like it to, so I cut one size smaller this time. (A bit of a mistake, as I haven’t lot weight around the hips – oops! Should have kept that piece the same size!) I ended up taking it in about one more size at the waist so it would sit on my actual waist (the pattern is drafted to sit about 1″ below the natural waist), and letting it out nearly a size around the hips.

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and this time? I put the tail flounce on the right way round. ;-)

Cake Hummingbird skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Even though this is the longer of the two Hummingbird skirt variations, it ends up rather short on me when I sit down. Whenever I get around to making up the straight “orange” variation, I’ll have to length it by a good 10cm or it may not be all that ‘decent’ on me!

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m pretty happy with this outfit. It’s not my usual style at all, but I think it has a definite ‘Dita’ flavour about it. And while I doubt I’ll wear the pieces together, I can see them getting a lot of wear individually. (In fact, I’m planning on wearing the top to work tomorrow with jeans. It’s a good, longer length for that.)

Channeling Dita outfit | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Right, better go and work on those trousers I was meant to be making today! ;-)