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! :-)

Days in photos

Been a while, but I’ve started doing the Photo A Day challenge again.

Here’s the end of January and the first part of February, documented moments in time to match the daily challenge prompts….

29 January – window
Since none of the cats would co-operate for the classic ‘cat on a windowsill’ image, instead we peer through two windows in a shape sorter toy, to see a Buzzy Bee stacker toy peeping back. :-)

30 January – best invention ever
The toaster! Or maybe toast. Hmmm… which of the two is best??

31 January – polka dot
A good excuse to break out a dress I haven’t worn in ages – my purple polka-dot dress. And my Converse sneakers with ladybugs and polka-dots on them. And some clover dotted around in our garden, for good measure.

1 February – you
Admittedly, I took this on 2 February. Please forgive my lapse!! ;-) Shadow in late afternoon on the way back to the car from our Island Bay beach visit.

2 February – favourite
My favourite little person, on his first ever trip to the beach. Since some of his favourite things are sandpits and water, we figured he’d be rather fond of the idea of a beach as well.

3 February – something orange
There’s lots of orange to photograph around our house. Here’s a couple of vintage Crown Lynn cups sitting on our kitchen bench. (Couldn’t quite get the bright orange stovetop espresso that was sitting behind them in the composition… You’ll just have to imagine it’s there.)

4 February – childhood
My Little Ponys!!! I used to love these little creatures. As you may be able to tell, since these three are showing signs of being well-loved. My mother unearthed them a while back, and I picked ‘em up and took ‘em home with me at Christmas time. Posey (yellow one), Princess Primrose (pink), and Ribbon (blue). Now to find the rest….

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.)


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! ;-)

Skully Ensis

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My lil’ sis’ moved up here at the start of the year, and has been staying with us while looking for a flat. Naturally, I’ve taken the opportunity to further her sewing-related education. ;-) She’d never seen indie pattern companies before, and nor had she sewn any knit fabric before, so we kicked off her new love affair with indie designs by making up Papercut Pattern’s Ensis tee.

Papercut Ensis tee

Papercut Ensis tee

And you know, since I was mentoring her through her first tshirt, I figured I may as well make myself another Ensis as well. (That first one I made? Yeah, it’s had a lot of love. More are clearly needed in my wardrobe.)

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Not a huge amount to say about this one. I used the XS size, just like I did last time. The view with curved hem at the base. And I shortened the sleeves, to make ‘em summer-length. (Again, just like last time.) Yeah, the first one was so good, no changes were needed at all!

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I did branch out a bit in my fabric choice though. The main fabric is the pink/green/white one – it’s lots of little skulls with love-heart eyes! Seriously, how cute is that?!? Had to find something that went with it though (surprisingly hard in my stash, where most things are patterned), and conveniently the lovely Jo was giving away some light grey tshirting at a Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network get-together in December. Since I knew I needed some plain colours for some more Ensis tees, I nabbed it, and used some of it here. (Thanks, Jo!)

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Must admit though, I’m not too sure of this one on me. I usually go for bright and/or highly saturated colours. Pastels? Not so much. But hey, I now have another decent tshirt for weekend wear, so I guess it’ll hang out in my wardrobe. At least until I get around to making some more, at which point this one may migrate into someone else’s wardrobe…. *shrug*

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But yes. Ensis tee pattern? You win again!

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide

This one’s been hanging around a while, waiting to be posted. I was actually about to post it when my laptop died (argh!!!!). And now, finally, here it is – my half of the twinsies La Sylphide dress photo shoot that Mel and I did together. :-)

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

We had so much fun taking photos together of our Ensis tees last year, that we’ve decided to make it a regular thing – pick a pattern, sew it up at the same time, then get photos of it together. (And can I just say, taking photos with another sewing blogger is So Much Fun!!!!)

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

We’d both made up Papercut’s La Sylphide pattern once before, and loved the result, so decided we’d make another one, kinda to sew along with the sewalong that Lauren ran over on the Papercut blog. (Not that either of us are particularly good at going at the same speed as sewalongs. Oops!)

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

If you’re unfamiliar with the La Sylphide, it a cute little button-up dress, with a full skirt, sleeves, and a necktie. Surprisingly fun to make, with details such as using interfacing to create tidy hems on the sleeves, and attaching the sleeves in the flat (brilliant!).

Papercut La Sylphide dress

Since I’d made it before, I decided to make a couple of adjustments this time around to change the pattern up slightly and not have two identical-but-in-different-fabrics dresses hanging in my wardrobe.

This time around, I did the following:

  • Lengthened the neck ties by 12cm at either end (I found them just a bit too short last time)
  • Lengthened the skirt by 15cm (be warned if you make this – the default length is very short!!)
  • Took a lot of the fullness out of the skirt (for two reasons – I live in a very windy place, and I was using a vintage fabric of a narrow width and there was no way I was gonna get the full skirt out of it)
  • Shortened the sleeves by 15.5cm
  • Cut the back skirt on the fold, rather than with a centre-back seam. (I did this last time as well.)
Folding out volume in the skirt

Folding out volume in the skirt

My verdict on the changes? All a success! Only thing I’d do differently with them next time is how I cut the sleeves and make sure I mirror-image the slope of the last inch of them so the hem is the same width as the sleeves when folded under. I had a heck of a time easing in the hem since it was shorter than the point of the sleeve I was easing it into! Oops – didn’t think that one through when shortening them!

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Next time I make this there are two other changes I’d make. One is a change I planned to make this time – widen the shoulders by 1cm, as I have quite broad shoulders and the seams sit a bit too far in on me (as they do with pretty much everything). I remembered to widen while cutting out the back bodice, and completely forgot the front bodice adjustment. Duh. Next time, yeah? Other change I’d make is lowering the bust dart points by about an inch, which I’ve discovered is something I pretty much need to do by default for every pattern I make. (Heck knows why?) Oh, and I’ll add in-seam side pockets to the skirt. Because, you know, dresses with pockets are rather fantastic.

Just like last time, I cut a size S, grading out to a size M at the waist. Only it turns out that I’ve lost a bit of weight since then (baby fat vanishing – woo hoo!) and I had to take it in, so next time I’ll cut out a size XS bust, grading out to a size S at the waist.

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

For the photos, we went exploring and headed up to the top of Miramar Peninsula, to a water tower I’d spotted while flying into Wellington a couple of weeks beforehand. (Good way to find photo locations, no?) I’d never been there before – great views all over the city, and the contrast of a water tower with lots of graffiti – which I’m always a bit fond of for backgrounds to photos. ;-)

Twinsies of Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Twinsies of Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Twinsies of Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Twinsies of Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So much fun doing twinsie makes/photos again! And this time my sister Jen joined us, with a skirt she’d made from a self-drafted pattern. (With teapots!!)

So much fun in fact, we’ve got another twinsie creation planned very soon….

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Bib bop a lu-la

Nothing quite like a bit of altruistic sewing to kick off a new year, right?

A local mother’s group were doing a donation drive for Little Sprouts – a charity that makes up parcels for new families in need. So my sister (who now lives in my town, woo hoo! Lots of social sewing sessions will be happening, yes indeed!) and I decided to plow through my (rather large) scrap fabric stash and use a bunch of it up making baby bibs.

Baby bibs | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Coz, hey! Bibs are fun! And cute. And you can mix and match all sorts of random-as fabric combinations.

Baby bibs | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(You can’t quite see, but one of those bright-green-with-purple-polka-dots happens to have a leopard-print strip at the bottom. We may have gotten slightly carried away with some of our mix-and-matching…. Here’s hoping whoever got a couple of them didn’t hate them. Hmmm.)

Baby bibs | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

It’s kinda fun looking at the group of them and spotting bits from different projects. Like the Purple Rain dress, the Melissa dress, my new Cherry Ripe dress, Lovebirds, Christmas aprons, Ladies a Plate dress, and my current project, which you’ll get to find out about when it’s finished. (But I can tell you it’s for Jungle January – can you guess what fabric? Yeah, should be pretty easy to spot!)

Nice and simple and fast to make – two fabrics on the front (for a bit of contrast fun) and some brushed cotton/flannelette/wynciette/whatever on the back to make ‘em soft and absorbent next to baby skin. Velcro closures cut into ovals so there are no scratchy corners. And in a few hours, we whipped up all of these!

Baby bibs | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And now they’re on their way to new homes, where hopefully they’ll get used and keep cute babies all clean and stuff. Indeed.