Myrna? And a wrap!

Guess what, guess what? I’ve knitted (knit?) myself a second garment! Eeeee! (That was a quiet squeal of excitement, by the way.)

Myrna Cardigan and Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Turns out this knitting lark is kinda addictive. Just like sewing. Clearly, I need to diversify my stash to include both wool and fabric now (as well as patterns, trims, sewing machines….. Hmmm…. Maybe I just need a bigger house…. Oops!)

Anyway, I made this one (and the dress that I’m wearing with it) for the Outfit Along 2014, hosted by Lauren from Lladybird and Andi from Untangling Knots.

Myrna Cardigan and Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Such a great idea – sewing up a dress and knitting a cardigan to go with it. How could I not join in?

Lauren and Andi had chosen a dress and cardigan pattern to run a sew-along and knit-along with, or you could choose your own. I decided to make up the knitting pattern they’d picked – the brand new Myrna cardigan pattern from Andi Satterlund. Such a cute pattern – it’s got short sleeves, a v neck, eyelet details around the edges, and a keyhole detail at the back neckline. Plus, it’s mostly knit in stockinette (?), which means not too complicated for me as my second full project!

Myrna Cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

For the dress though, there was no way I was gonna be able to squeeze ‘the bump’ into the fitted-waist Simplicity summer dress that had been chosen. So I made a knit wrap dress instead. Which I can’t tell you much about, since it’s a bit of Secret Sewing (yay!), but there are a couple of pics of it towards the end of the post as a sneak preview. ;-)

Myrna Cardigan and Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My little sis took part in the Outfit Along as well – we bought our yarn together (a gorgeous wool and alpaca blend from Skeinz, an online yarn store in New Zealand – I got the Lava colourway and Jen got the Forest one). The Myrna was Jen’s first knitted garment, and my second, so we muddled along together, jumping onto YouTube or Skyping our mother (who is a fantastic knitter!) when we got stuck. It was really nice having someone making the same project at the same time – towards the end we organised a couple of DVD-and-knitting nights to make sure we had some dedicated knitting time and got it all done in time! (So much fun in fact we may have cast on our second sister-knit-together project as soon as we finished our Myrna cardigans….)

Myrna Cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I got to learn a lot while making up Myrna. How to do eyelets, and the keyhole at the back. And the big one – how to do short rows! The sleeves are shaped with short rows. Which aren’t actually all that hard, although it took me a while to be able to figure out where to start and stop each one without having to obsessively count every stitch. But, you know – progress! I also got a lot better at sewing in the ends, although I suspect I’m doing it wrong, so will need to figure that out at some point….

Myrna Cardigan and Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I also figured, what the heck, and kinda may have sorta modified the pattern a bit as I went along. Coz you know, it’s my second project, so I must know what I’m doing, right? (Yeah. Right.) Since I’m a size different up top from my waist/hip, I knitted up the Myrna in a size Small, and graded it out to a size Medium at the waist. And you know what? My maths calculations actually worked! (Or at least I think they did. It looks pretty good when it’s off. I have no idea if it’s actually the right size around the waist, since I can’t exactly do it up at the moment! So that moment of truth will have to wait a few more months.)

Myrna Cardigan and Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The buttons are some pretty ones I found at Made Marion (because despite the rather large collection of buttons I have, it turned out I had none that would go with this cardigan. Clearly, I need to stash more of them so I have ones for every occasion.) The dark ring is actually translucent, which is pretty cool, although that detail gets a bit lost when they’re attached to a garment sadly.

Myrna Cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, I must admit this cardi is looking a little bit tight in a couple of areas. But that’s coz my ribs have done that expanding-a-full-size thing due to pregnancy (seriously, they do that, bodies are strange things), plus my bust has also grown. (Too much information? Ah well.) So it’s technically a size too small at the moment, plus the bump means it’s not exactly sitting at the right spot in the front. But hey, it’s the right size for when I’m not preggers, and I’m not pregnant a lot more than I am pregnant, so therefore it’s the right size for a knitted-by-me cardigan. ;-)

Myrna Cardigan and Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So, the dress.

I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about it yet (secret sewing and all that). So I’m just gonna let the pics give you a sneak peek instead. ;-)

Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(I wasn’t even planning on doing that, but I stoopidly got all excited about making up the pattern and made it to match the cardigan for the Outfit Along, and then thought “oops! Should have made a pattern I’m allowed to talk about!” but it was too late. So hey, a sneak peek you all get instead!)

Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Dogs Wrap Dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Of course, it would fit a lot better without a baby bump in the way, but whatevs.)

And there we have it – an outfit of a dress and cardigan! Yay!

Right, what to make next…. I do like me these challenges. I think next on my sewing agenda will be something for the birthday month challenge over on The Monthly Stitch…… (Do you know of any other sewing challenges coming up? The list for August is looking rather empty at the moment, so I suspect I’ve missed seeing a few announcements?!!)

Here’s a new thing – maternity-trackpant-jeans!

Yep, you read that right.

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’ve been in need of some new maternity trousers for a while (I have one pair. They get a lot of use. And a lot of washing, due to the Little Guy being around – he’s rather good at careful placements of messy hands on clean clothes.). Ever since I made my pair of Papercut Anima pants, I’ve been toying with the idea of making a second pair as maternity pants. Where the waistband on them sits on me seemed like the perfect location for a maternity band to start instead, and I figured it would be super easy to switch out the elastic waistband for a wide maternity band instead.

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And then the Papercut Anima Pants contest came about. It was like fate was telling me to get a move on, stop thinking about it, and finally get around to making those maternity pants!

So, I did.

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But since I don’t tend to wear knit fabric trousers for anything aside from exercising I decided to make ‘em up as jeans instead, using a lightweight dark blue denim I had floating around in my stash (a.k.a. ‘fabric library’).

Yep, I took a pattern that was designed for knit fabrics, and used it to make a pair of jeans.

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And you know what? It was super easy! And they fit quite well, I reckon (although I also think the photos don’t do them justice, but oh well. Photos – tricky beasts they can be, no?).

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I also needed to do very little to them in the way of alterations. I made up the same size as I did last time, after trying on my other pair and deciding that there was enough room in the seat and thighs to get away with being made up in a woven. Sure enough – a good fit in all those areas.

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Aside from the maternity hack, the only changes I made were to the legs. My other maternity jeans are skinny leg ones, so I thought I’d go for something a bit wider with this pair. I widened the legs a bit heading towards (but not quite at) a straight leg style. I also lengthened them a bit (since I have crazy long legs and I wasn’t going to put the wide cuff on at the bottom) and drafted a narrower, straight cuff for at the bottom.

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The maternity hack was super easy. I took the waistband pattern piece and used it to cut a wide strip of knit fabric. I then wrapped that around the widest point of the baby bump, made sure it was firm (but not tight – there’s still a fair bit of growing going to happen in that space!), and trimmed it down to the right width. Then I stitched it so it was a double-thickness circle, and attached it on to the top of the pants, stretching gently to fit as I went. Easy, and comfy! (Although I am considering going back and adding some elastic to the top of it, as they do ride down when I sit down without having that little extra bit of support….)

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

All up, I’m pretty happy with these, and I think they’re gonna get a lot of wear. (The Little Guy must have liked them too, since he managed to get something on one of the front thighs just as we were about to get photos. Gah.)

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Check out the size of that bump – 27 weeks and counting! I continue to be slightly terrified by how large it’s going to get this time around….

Maternity Anima jeans | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Thoughts on me-made and happiness

Personal style is a strange thing. Constantly evolving in some way or another, being influenced by everything and everyone around us, the changing seasons, changes in our lifestyle, new jobs, where we live.

And yet, it’s such an important thing on a personal level. It’s one of the ways we project to the world “this is who I am”. It reflects what we value, what we care about, what we like (or don’t like). It’s part of our public persona – the face we show to the world, and that people use to help them decide who we are, whether we’re like them or not, whether they want to get to know us better.

Debi dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Debi dress

It gets even stranger when you start thinking about the mass-produced, disposable “fashion” that’s prevalent everywhere today. Trends, passing rapidly through urban landscapes like freight trains, nowhere one week, visible everywhere the next, and then gone again a few weeks later. And when somethings not “on trend”? Yeah, pretty much impossible to find it anywhere. Add in the media pressure to be “on trend” and wearing what’s currently “in”, and you start to wonder – why are stores, designers, media, etc all trying to convince us that being clones of one another is not only a good thing, but something to aspire to? Have the same hair (GHD’ed to straightness, with ombre dye job, maybe?). Wear the same clothes. Do your make-up in a certain way. Same, same, sameness everywhere.

This is one of the key reasons I like to sew, and why I love reading about and seeing things that people have made. It gives us back a way to celebrate our own diversity, to show part of who we are as individuals – the shapes we like, the combinations, the colours, the prints. The things that call to our emotions and our senses.

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Ladybird Ballet blouse

And because we are all different, those things are going to be different for each of us. And quite frankly, I think that’s freakin’ awesome! And seeing a parade of those differences, those individual likes and preferences and emotions and values represented in choices of style and fabric, print and colour? It makes me happy. It makes my heart sing and my mind click into creative mode.

Now, why have I been thinking about this? Back in May, I had a bit of a personal style crisis, which co-incided with Me-Made-May. I was at the stage of pregnancy where most of my normal (non-preggy) wardrobe didn’t fit, but I hadn’t yet made things that did, so I was dressing most days in hand-me-down maternity clothes from lovely friends. Which is all well and good (and quite frankly, a bit of a wardrobe life-saver!) but something was fundamentally missing from each day.

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mellow Yellow dress

My sense of personal style. My ability to choose things that I wanted to wear, that spoke to me and made me happy.

Instead, I was just wearing clothes. Functional, but not inspirational.

And it impacted on my mood. On my happiness.

Once I realised that, I kicked into overdrive, and rapidly stitched up several patterns that, while they may not be my normal non-pregnancy style in some cases, are things that I want to wear, made in fabrics and colours and patterns that call to me.

Cherry Ripe dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cherry Ripe dress

I still don’t have enough me-made garments for this stage in my pregnancy to be able to wear them everyday, but it’s a start.

And those days when I do wear at least one me-made garment? Yep, turns out I’m just a bit happier those days, a bit more confident.

Strange how all that works, isn’t it?

Something that started out as a hobby (well, in my case, it started out as the only way to ever get tops with sleeves long enough!) has become that intrinsically linked to my sense of self. I think it was always that way – personal style, sense of self, ability to represent oneself through what we clothe and adorn ourselves with. But sewing has really made me realise how important that is.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it all!

(In the meantime, guess I’d better go and sew some more, haha!)

Creepy Toys dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Creepy Toys dress

Circling around and around

Check it out – I broke out of my usual colour comfort zone and….

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

made something black!!


(Yes, this is rare for me. Sure, my Simone dress had a black background, but I countered it with purple, and even then it’s far more neutral than pretty much everything else I own.)

But hey, it’s mono-sewn month over at The Monthly Stitch, and the challenge is to sew in black and/or white.

And white? Yeah, it’s not my friend. Looks dreadful on me, and looks even worse after I’ve been wearing it a little while as something about wearing white makes me far more likely to spill things on myself. Or use a pen that leaks. Or get splashed by a passing car going through a muddy puddle. Like I said – white isn’t my friend, and I’m not really it’s friend, either.

So black it clearly had to be!

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I dug out this mid-heavy weight wool blend (? I think?) knit from my stash. Had no idea it was there, and I still have no idea of where it came from or how long it’s been floating around in my stash for. (Signs my stash is too large. Oops.)

And I grabbed my newest Papercut pattern – the Circle Top.

Papercut Circle Top

(Yep, another Papercut make. But hey, I did warn you all – after all, they’ve got the biggest collection of patterns that I can sew up and still wear while pregnant, so this is kinda inevitable!)

Seriously though, have you seen the Circle Top pattern? It’s just like it says on the box – a giant circle. With sleeves. Worn as a top. Crazy!

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And also surprisingly comfortable and cozy. Coz the circular nature of it means you can do things like wear it up over your head like a hood, or pull the edges up and in so it snuggles around your neck kinda like a scarf.

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Plus it’s kinda fun to wrap all around yourself when it’s cold outside.)

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit that at first, I didn’t really see myself wearing this style. But then Sandra kept putting up pics of herself in one of her two Circle Tops during Me Made May, and every single time I saw it, I wanted one. And now, I have one of my very own! Yippie!

At first, I thought this would be a super-fast make. After all, it’s just a circle, two sleeves, two sleeve cuffs, and edge binding. Simple, right? And sure enough, the sleeves and sleeve cuffs and circle all joined together crazy fast, probably in about 20 minutes.

And then I got to the binding.

Which just went on. And on. And ooooonnnn. Turns out there’s a fair distance around that there circle!

Worth it though, as the binding gives a nice clean finish (especially important with this style, since you see both sides as it hangs open) and also gives it a bit more weight for draping in the front.

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Please don’t look too closely at the binding in the above image though. Shameful though it may be to admit it, I finished this around 11pm on Friday night and we caught a plane early the next morning, so I didn’t get a chance to press the binding. It’s all pressed now though, and sitting much flatter than in that photo!)

The only issue I really had is that the sleeves are just a bit too short on me. Not surprising, since I have crazy long gorilla arms, and I didn’t lengthen the sleeves on this, so they’re made up at their ‘real’ length. Which would be a pretty good, long length on most other people. For myself, next time I’m gonna add probably 6cm to them.

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My long-suffering made-to-photograph-my-creations partner and I went down to Nelson last weekend for a long weekend. (Without the Little Guy! First time we’ve been away from him, together, for more than a couple of hours! Very strange not to have him there.) Since I seem to have a ‘thing’ about wanting to take something new with me whenever I go away somewhere (gotta get different-location-photos, after all! Hah!), I rushed to get this finished late on Friday night as we were flying down early Saturday morning. And then I proceeded to wear it for the whole three days we were away, being all happy and snuggly and cozy, yes indeed. :-)

These photos were taken walking alongside the river that runs through Nelson, and also up in the gardens around the Nelson cathedral.

(Except for this one, which was taken in the Chinese Garden section of Queens Gardens. Blossoms! In the middle of winter! Made me happy. :-) )

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and guess what else? I met Katie from Papercut when I was in Nelson! And she is super lovely and I got to visit the Papercut workroom and everything. (And my gosh, I want her workroom! So organised and filled with inspiring fabrics and things and with a super huge massive printer where she prints the patterns out directly.) I even convinced her to help me package up a few patterns so who knows? Maybe some of you will get a Papercut pattern that I helped put together in it’s box! Mwahahahaha!

So yeah, the Circle Top. I likes it! And I am thinking about making one with contrasting band, coz wouldn’t that look rather fabulous, don’t you think?

And since it’s growing and all, here’s a ‘bump’ photo. For whatever week I’m up to now. 24 weeks, maybe? (Lost track. Oops!)

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So tell me folks, do you have a ‘need’ to make something new when you go on holiday, or is it just me?

I may be going to Christchurch for three days for work in a couple of weeks. Hmmm.. what to make, what to make….? Papercut’s Ooh La Leggings, Victory’s Anouk dress, or a vintage 1970’s dress? Which should it be??

A spotty, stripy piece of Cake

So here’s one I made a few weeks back, sometime around mid-May, even. Since it was a spot of pattern testing, I went out and got photos (not knowing how much longer it would fit me for at the moment, gotta seize those photo opportunities when I can, haha!), and waited for the pattern to be released.

And now, it has!

Spotted Cake Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

It’s the new The Tee pattern from Cake. A nice,simple tee with cut-on sleeves, two neckline options, a wide hem band, and cute little micro pockets for details.

Spotted Cake Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And not only that – it’s available as a free download from Craftsy!

Cake – The Tee pattern

It’s a nice top to stitch up, too. Just like other Cake patterns, it’s a connect-the-dots type pattern, where you customise it based on your own measurements. There’s a stripe guide to make it easier to match up any patterns you’ve got happening in your fabric. And there’s even a pattern piece to cut a template for pressing the hems of the micro pockets, making it far easier to get a clean edge on them.

Spotted Cake Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I stitched this one up in a remnant of tshirting that’s been lurking in my stash for, oh, I hate to think how long, but several years at least. (Eek!) Quite an unusual fabric – it’s double-sized, with the two sides woven separately but with some of the pattern woven through both sides which sticks them together. (If that makes any sense?)

Anyway, as a result of how the fabric is, it means the edges kinda curl up and away from each other, which is a pain to sew on things like micro pockets, but whatever, it still worked out ok despite the fabric’s quirks, although it did make it nearly impossible to get the edges of the micro pockets sitting right. (Also turns out the fabric had less cotton content than I thought. I may have found this out the hard way, with the help of my iron. Oops!)

Spotted Cake Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Plus, since it was striped on one side and spotted on the other, it meant I could do contrast bands and pockets and they’d be in the exact same colours as the main fabric. Super-easy fabric matching. Win!

I must admit to using a different way of doing the v-neck’s point than the mitered one in the pattern, not for any particular reason except that I was stitching all this up on my overlocker (serger) and couldn’t be bothered changing machines. Yes, I can be that lazy at times. Sorry not sorry. (Although I am hanging my head in shame a little at the admission….)

Spotted Cake Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Not a lot else to say about this pattern, really. It’s cute, it’s a good fit (slightly loose but not too loose – I am wearing it over a singlet and a merino top in these photos, so it’s looking a bit of a tighter fit than it actually is), and a simple make. Plus, you know, it’s free. ;-)

(It’s also a good way to try out a Cake pattern, if you haven’t used one before.)

Spotted Cake Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

We took these photos out on a beach on Wellington’s south coast, directly before I stripped down to get photos of my Soma bikini. (Eek! Cooooold!).

Such a pretty beach. Crashing waves, rocks, and a doorway through a rock face. There’s just something about beaches in winter, don’t you think?


Do you have a plan, sis?

Coz I do.

I do indeed.

(Or should that be, I did?)

It was Franken-Indie week over on The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month, and, well, since I seem to be addicted to sewing challenges (especially ones with short time frames) I kinda had to come up with something.

(Side note: it’s much, much harder to come up with a mash-up of two or more indie patterns when you’ve got a baby bump to contend with.)

I thought, and I thought. And I thought some more.

And then it hit me.

Combine the Deer & Doe Plantain tee with the Papercut Ensis.

Deer&Doe Plantain

Papercut Ensis tee










Flare at the waist (i.e. bump-accommodating-space), well-placed colour blocking, and elbow patches!!!

Plantain + Ensis = Plansis! :-D

(Yeah, it kinda works, right?)

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyway, it was pretty easy hack to do. I cut the Plaintain tee in a size 40 (one size bigger than usual, due to pregnancy-rib-cage-expansion), and while cutting I laid the top section of the Ensis tee pattern over the top, so I could see where the colour blocking would start. I cut up to that overlap plus an extra 1cm for seam allowance, on the front, back and sleeve panels. (Note to self: next time, take a photo of this, coz these things are a lot easier to explain in pictures than words….)

(And in the process I found myself rather interested in how much the arm scye on the Plaintain and the Ensis differed. Far more than I was expecting, considering they’re both tee patterns. Kinda tempting to pull out a few more tee patterns to compare them all….)

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Then, I did much the same process to cut out the purple top section – again, using the Plaintain tee for the shape of the top (so the top and bottom matched nicely) and the Ensis top pattern sections to figure out how far down to cut (again, cutting down to the end of the Ensis top pattern piece and adding 1cm seam allowance to get that nice, clean match-up of pieces when stitching up).

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And since I was rockin’ the purple colour blockin’, I did the elbow patches in purple, too.

(Seriously folks – elbow patches!!! Man, I just love that there is a tshirt pattern out there with elbow patches on it.)

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Because I am tall and have crazy long gorilla arms (a rock-climbing friend of mine once informed me I have a good ‘ape factor’. True story. In theory this means I should be good at rock climbing. If I wasn’t terrified of heights, that is. Ugh.) I did my usual and lengthened the sleeves by 6cm.

And then when I stitched it all up and tried those sleeves on, they were still too short, so I added cuffs to them and now they nicely cover my wrists and the lower part of my hands and are perfect for winter. :-) (It came to a total addition of 11cm length to the arms, by the way. See? Long gorilla arms.)

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

However, since I was only expecting to have to add my usual 6cm in length, I didn’t think to check the placement of the elbow patches until after I’d stitched it all up and realised the arms were still too long. Yeah, they kinda sit above my elbows. Ah well, they’re still ovals of purple so I like them enough. And I have plans for more of these Plantain-Ensis-cross tops, so I’ll adjust the placement next time. :-)

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m also going to lengthen it next time. It’d be ok if I wasn’t preggers, but as it is, this top is a little bit too short. Especially when goofing around and raising ones arms in the air, like so:

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I was naughty and didn’t hem the bottom – this fabric isn’t going to fray, and it means I can take it in at the sides post-baby if I feel like it. Flexibility = good.

Also, the bump is getting kinda crazy big. And I still have four months to go….. (*slightly terrified that I may not be able to get into cars/fit through doorways/etc*)

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Speaking of the fabric (if you’re interested) – the stripe is a mid-heavy weight cotton-blend tshirting I got at Levana factory outlet, oh about 12 years ago now. (Eep!) the purple is a mid-weight cotton-blend tshirting. Not sure where I got it from, chances are it was also from Levana. Either way, it’s been in my stash for ages and is slowly getting used up – would you believe I had about 10m of it!?! (My sister made an awesome Lady Skater dress from it the other week. I’ve already used it for a muslin of Ooh La Leggings, a Hummingbird tee and a Tiramisu dress, none of which are in my wardrobe any more, so clearly I need to make another dress or something out of this stuff coz really, purple is awesome.)

Hmmm. I’ve been up too long – the rambling has set in. Time for bed, I think….

Oh yeah, and it was windy today. Because I live in Wellington, and that’s how things are here. I submit my hair as evidence of this:

Plansis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

G’night, all. Zzzzz……

Hi-lo there, meet Simone

Hey everyone, check it out! I made something that isn’t from Papercut!!

(Yeah, it’s been a while, I know. What can I say? Not many preggy-friendly indies out there, as it turns out.)

Although following on with my common winter trend, it does contain the colour purple.

Meet Simone, from Victory Patterns.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My first ever Victory Patterns make, in fact. Since this week is the ‘New To Me’ theme for Indie Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch, it seemed like a good time to give a Victory pattern a try.

(Fair warning – it won’t be the last. Like Papercut, Victory are one of the very few indie labels that I’ve found that have styles that look like they’ll work with a bump as well as still being able to wear them post-bump. The Anouk is likely to happen sometime soon as well. And I am kinda tempted by Roxanne as well, although that one hasn’t made it into my pattern collection yet, so we’ll see.)

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made up the dress version of Simone, complete with it’s high-low hem. Now I must admit, this is miles from my usual style. I’m usually all about fitted waists, and high-low hems have never been on the list of things-I-like. If I wasn’t pregnant, I wouldn’t have given this pattern a go. But since it’s fitted at the top, and gets loose from just under the bust, it seemed like it might work well for the next couple of months, so it was worth a shot.

And you know what? I am now a convert to this style! I actually really like it – it’s fun to wear, there’s enough fit in it that the flare doesn’t make you look huge (always a bit of a fear of mine), and the high-low hem is kinda fun and catches the wind quite nicely when you move. Hi there Simone! You may well feature again in my wardrobe in the future.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made this one up in a something-synthetic-probably-polyester length from the remnant bin at The Fabric Warehouse. No idea what it is, since their remnants don’t have composition labels on them, but it’s quite a firm weave and yet nice and floaty, so when I spotted it (for only $5! Score!) I grabbed it to make this dress in. (Oops. Fabric buying ban fail. To be fair, I couldn’t think of anything in my stash that would be suitable for this style, though!)

I wasn’t sure what to use for the contrasting bib front and racer back. I pulled three small leftover-from-other-projects lengths of lightweight cotton drill from my stash and turned to Instagram to get opinions. Most people preferred the black, with burgundy coming a close second. But the call of winter got to me, and I went with the purple. (Sorry, folks! Next time, ok?)

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, let’s talk about this pattern.

I believe in being honest in my reviews. (Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite me….)

I like Victory Patterns. I like their style – it’s unique, fun, and funky, and I haven’t seen anything even beginning to resemble it out there in pattern-land, which I appreciate.

Simone from Victory Patterns

I like that they put the finished measurements on their pattern envelopes, nice and clear.

However, I did have quite a few issues making up this pattern. Some may just be to do with my body shape vs what the pattern is designed for (and I have been a bit spoilt lately. It’s one of the key reasons I make so many Papercut patterns – they suit my body shape and usually fit me with little or no alterations, so I’m lucky with that), and some are to do with the pattern itself.

Let’s talk about the instructions first. At first glance, brilliant! A nice book, good paper, they’ve thought of things like a glossary, plenty of diagrams, all brilliant stuff.

But my gosh, I found them frustrating! Very, very frustrating, in fact. Part of this is due to what I do for a living – I work in Customer Experience research and design, so things like poor instructions really annoy me. Argh!!! (Again, another reason why I love Papercut patterns – Katie takes a huge amount of care with her instructions and actively asks for and takes on board feedback on how to improve them before she releases patterns.)

But yes, these instructions. First up, the key for what side fabric you’re looking at kept changing. For example, in the cutting layout the right side of the fabric is shaded dark grey. First page of instructions and oh, look, suddenly dark grey is for the wrong side of the fabric, without any mention of the key changing. And then, two pages later, oh look, we’re switching between grey and unshaded between diagrams.

There are also some rather odd things in the instructions (such as the statement that “the upper placket is the piece that has marker points transferred to the right side of fabric”. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t transfer marker points to the right side of the fabric unless the pattern explicitly calls for it for some reason, which wasn’t done here. It’s just assumed you’ve done this, and heck knows why. Plus there are things missing (such as the stitching down of the tab). So yeah, I was kinda surprised and frustrated by the instructions – so good at first glance, so supremely irritating when you actually try using them.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And then there’s the sizing of the pattern. I’m not sure why, since this is meant to be made in a woven, but there’s half an inch of negative ease around the bust. Is it just me, or is this kinda crazy?? I thought, heck, they’ve done it intentionally, so I’ll give it a go and see how it works out. Yeah, should have gone with my gut with that one.

I cut out my usual size (34″ bust) but when it got to trying it on, there was no way at all that that zipper was gonna be getting done up over my bust! Now to be fair, I then re-measured myself and discovered that over the past couple of weeks (since I’d last measured myself) my rib cage has done the whole pregnancy-expansion thing (gotta make space for all those displaced internal organs, after all) and is now measuring at 36″, so that combined with a very fitted (half an inch of negative ease! bodice meant it wasn’t going to do up anyway.

So I added some wedges of fabric into the side seams to solve the problem. (Luckily they’re pretty hard to see unless you point them out – this fabric is rather good like that!) Wedges rather than stripes, as the pattern starts heading into a loose fit under the bust.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But those wedges? Yeah, I added an extra 10 centimetres of width around that bodice! While 5cm of that was for my rib cage expanding a size, the other 5cm was because this thing never would have fitted me anyway. Even if my rib cage hadn’t expanded, I would have had to widen this bodice by a full size just to be able to get the zip done up.

And even then, it’s a crazy tight fit. I probably need to go up another size again – even if I’d cut the right size for my current rib cage circumference, I actually need to go up two full sizes to make this fit me properly. Argh! As it is, this squishes my boobs (what little there is of them) flat. Heck knows what would happen for any larger-busted girls, as there’s no space for my AA cups in here!

I also can’t wear it with the hook-and-eye at the neckline front done up, because due to the crazy tight fit, it results in the bib front bulging out oddly and just looking hideous, hence why it’s worn open in these photos, and yet still has drag lines across that there bib front. Gah.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and I added a bunch to the length as well, coz this was far too short for me. Normally I just add 10cm in length (at least) to everything I make, since I’m tall (177cm), but I got distracted by the surprise of negative ease in the bodice while cutting this out and completely forgot to length it. Oops! Luckily, I managed to eek out a hem extension band from the scraps I had left, so it all worked out ok. :-) And like with the side insets, it’s kinda hard to tell that the extension is there, unless you’re looking for it. (It’s running between my two thumbs in the image below.)

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I should say as well, that the pattern itself came together really nicely. The bib front is super easy to get neat edges on, and it would have been quite a fast make if I hadn’t had to mess around with the fit. It looks harder to sew this up than it actually is!

Even with the fitting dramas and the irritating-as-heck instructions, I still like this dress. I’m hoping that once my rib cage goes back to it’s usual size post-pregnancy, it’ll fit me well (since at that point it will be two sizes bigger than the pattern calls for in the bust, rather than the one size bigger it currently is at the moment). I’ll wear it in the meantime anyway because hey, it fits over the bump well, and it’s fun to wear, with the high-low hem floating as you walk.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And, you know, it’s got purple on it. ;-)

Have any of you tried making this pattern? How did you find it? I’m very curious to know if my fitting issues are common or just due to my body shape not matching the shape this pattern is drafted for, so I’d love to hear about your experiences! :-)

Now, despite those annoyances, I am planning on making this pattern up again. It’s a good style for bump-and-I at the moment, and I’m determined not to let the pattern beat me! So I’ll try it again, three sizes bigger than I normally would (two sizes to make up for it being too small, and an extra size for expanded rib cage) and we’ll see how that goes.

I caught up with some of the lovely WSBN (Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network) yesterday afternoon, and we wandered around outside Te Papa to get some photos. Nikki and I were getting our photo taken at the same time at one point. Indie pattern fight! Boo yah!!!

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Nah, we’re friends really, I promise. ;-)

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes