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.)



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:





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



(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

Sew Grateful giveaway winners

The time has come.

The time has come, the time is now.

(And I may have been reading ‘Marvin K Mooney’ to the Little Guy this evening and gotten part of it stuck in my head. Anyway….)

It’s time… to draw the winners of my Sew Grateful giveaway!

(Drum roll please….)

First up – the winner of Maudella 5341.

Maudella 5341

Annie who blogs over at The Enantiomer Project!

And next up, the winner of Maudella 4995.

Maudella 4995

Jana who blogs over at Plok!

Congrats ladies! :-)

And a big thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Tutorial: adding pockets to a princess seamed dress

I’m a big fan of having pockets in things. Being able to carry stuff, places to keep your hands warm when it’s cold out, and they even give you something to do if you ever find yourself standing around feeling silly – just put your hands in your pockets and look casual, yo!

(Plus, when you have a small person in your life, you really do find yourself needing pockets for carrying tissues/snacks/random ‘gifts’ they present to you and expect you to hold onto, that sort of thing.)

So when I made my Rock-a-birdy Bleuet dress, strangely enough, I decided to add pockets!

Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The Deer&Doe Bleuet dress is a cute, princess-seamed, shirt dress. For my Bleuet, I decided to add pockets to the side front panels of the dress – that way, they would be less likely to ruin the lines when I was carrying things in them than in-seam side pockets would be. Plus, I’d still be able to easily adjust the fit of the dress if I needed to take in (or let out!) and of the seams.

This technique would work on pretty much any princess seamed dress (or coat, or top).

Here’s a little tutorial of how I did it….

Step 1
First, we need to mark where our pocket opening is going to be. You’ll then use this marking to cut your side front panel out in two sections – upper and lower – and also to cut your pocket bag.

Draw a line on the side front panel where you want your pocket opening to be (hold it up to yourself to get it in the right spot). We’ll call this the ‘pocket line’ from now on.
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Step 2
Cut lower section of side front from 1.5cm (5/8″) above the pocket line to the bottom of the side front pattern panel.

Cut straight across at 1.5cm above the pocket line. (That 1.5cm above is your seam allowance.)
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Step 3
Cut upper side front panel to 6.5cm below the pocket line. This gives you a pocket facing so the pocket bag doesn’t show through when you’re wearing your dress. It also includes the seam allowance.

Mark the pocket line on this panel – you’ll be using this to match up where the top of the lower side front will go.

Here’s how the pocket facing works – see how far I have to pull the pocket down before you see the pocket bag on the inside? That’s what we’re aiming for – no accidental flashes of other prints when we’re carrying things!
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Step 4
Now it’s time to cut the pocket bag!

Cut on the fold, using the side front panel as a guide. The top of the pocket bag will be 1.5cm (5/8″) above the pocket line, to give you your seam allowance.

Mark where the seam is that will join the centre front panel.
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Step 5
Open out your pocket bag.

On one side, cut off 5cm at the top – this will attach to the pocket facing in the upper section of your side front panel. Mark this as top front.
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Step 6
If you’re putting pockets in both sides, use your new pocket bag as a template to cut a second bag. Make sure they’re mirror images of each other (i.e. cut right-sides-together).

Step 7
Time to sew!

Right sides together, sew your pocket bag to lower front side panel, using a 1.5cm seam allowance.
Press so pocket bag and lower side front are wrong-sides together, with seam allowance flat between them. Understitch seam allowance onto pocket bag.

Right sides together, sew pocket bag to upper front side panel, using a 1.5cm seam allowance.
Press seam allowance towards pocket bag and understitch.

Here’s what it’ll look like when you open it all out, with the pocket bag joining the upper and lower side front panels:
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Both seams should be understitched so the seam allowance is against the pocket bag:
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Step 8
Line up top of lower side front with the pocket line you marked on the upper side front. Pin in place and press pocket bag so it’s nicely folded over.

Here’s what it’ll now look like on the front – with the lower side front end along the pocket line (and a bonus toddler photo-bomb):
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And here’s what it’ll look like at the back, with your pocket bag folded in half:
Adding pockets to a princess seamed dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Baste sides together.

Step 9
Repeat steps 7 & 8 for the other front side panel if you’re adding two pockets.

All done!

Now go ahead and use it like it’s one panel for constructing your dress. :-)

Sew Grateful week – pattern giveaway

**** Update: giveaway has now closed! Thanks to everyone who came by. :-) ****

Yeah I know, creative title, right? Say it like it is, and all that.

Anyway, it’s that fabulous time of year again – Sew Grateful week, hosted by the super-lovely Debi!

And first up is Sew Grateful giveaway day – a chance to give a little something back to the online sewing community.

This year, I’ve decided to give a bit of vintage sewing pattern happiness away. Two patterns, in fact. To two different people.

Here’s what I’m giving away….

Maudella 5341
Maudella 5341
A 6-piece overdress from the 1960′s (good for Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men challenge, perhaps??). Size is 38″ bust, 40″ hip. (And when they say 6-piece, they really mean it – front, back, front facing, back neck facing, and both sides of armhole facings. And done!)

Maudella 4995
Maudella 4995
And just in case you feel like indulging in a bit of selfless sewing, here’s a men’s shirt pattern, from sometime in the 1950′s probably. The interesting thing about this one – the button placket only goes about half-way down the shirt, rather than being a full-length button-down. The size for this little piece of retroness is 14 1/2″ neck.

Now, I haven’t checked either of these patterns – they came sealed in plastic bag things, and they’re still in ‘em. So here’s hoping they’re complete! Either way, you get some nice retro envelope art, right? ;-)

Interested in being in to win one? Comment below and let me know which one you’re most interested in. I’ll draw the winners this Sunday, 2 March.

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

‘ello there, Miss Bossy Patterns!

So….. Have you heard about The Monthly Stitch?

(If not, you should get over there and check it out – lots of fun to play along with, especially if you’re like me with So Many Things you want to sew all the time, coz it’s a great way to choose what to make next, haha!)

Anyway. The March challenge is Miss Bossy Patterns. The idea being we pick three patterns from our stash that we’ve never made, and get people to vote on which one we should make.

Fun!! :-D

But, you know, I happen to have a heck of a lot of patterns in my stash. (Oops.) So to make it easier for myself, I gave myself a sub-challenge. Since it’s Sew Grateful Week coming up, my pattern choices are limited to those I’ve gotten from other bloggers and haven’t used yet.

And just because I could, I went and matched them with some stash fabric. Because it’s fun to imagine completed wardrobe things, amiright?

Here’s the three options:

McCall 5676
Option One: McCall 5676
A pretty, pretty dress pattern from 1944, a gift from another blogger. This dress features a button-up back, either cap or puff or long sleeves, hidden pockets in the skirt centre panel seams, and gathers at neck and waist.
I’d make this up in a soft lightweight cotton – slightly pink tinged, with pink and orange flowers. (I’d also need to wear a slip under it, as this cotton is a bit sheer since it’s lightweight.)

Simplicity 3673
Option Two: Simplicity 3673
A re-released vintage Simplicity pattern, originally from the 1950′s, that I won in a giveaway. This one is a dress (or jumper) with three lengths and two skirt variations – a-line or pencil. It features a high waist with belt, under-bust gathers, and dart shaping at the waist.
This one is calling out to be made up in a vibrant pink and yellow cotton plaid.

Simplicity 3661
Option Three: Simplicity 3661
A 1950′s blouse pattern, that I got when a Pattern Pyramid visited me. It features a fly front (with either snap fasteners or buttons), dart tucks at the waistline, and box pleats. I’d make the short-sleeved version, with the tie collar.
For this one, I’ve earmarked a soft, lightweight salmon pink cotton/silk blend.

Alright folks, there’s the three options! All ones I fully intend to make up at some point. So, which to begin with? The choice is yours! :-)