Roses in the City

Look, look! I made a thing!!!

To be more specific – I made a dress!!! A summer dress, in the hope that one day summer will arrive. (Although it looks like I’m going to have to travel to the Northern Hemisphere to get any summer this year… Hmmm…)

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And if we’re wanting to be really specific, I made the Rose City halter dress by Sew House Seven, using a Liberty poplin in the classic Carmine print from Minerva Crafts. Because rose pattern on rose dress pattern just screams out summer picnics and adventures, don’tcha think?

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Plus I figured the extra sweet girlishness of roses would be offset by my tattoo with the halterneck back. Coz normally, this print would be just a little bit too sweet for my taste…)

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This was my first time sewing a Sew House Seven pattern, although I’ve got a few of them in my ‘things to make’ list. (Have you see the Tea House dress? Gorgeous! I need a maxi in that style…) I found it to be a great pattern to work with – instuctions and markings all nice and clear, all the measurements that you need to figure out what you’re doing, everything matched up as it should. Overall, a well crafted pattern, I reckon! πŸ™‚

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made up version B, with the bias-cut A-line skirt with curved patch pockets. I did all my usual adjustments – grading out a size between bust and waist, lengthening the bodice by about 1.5cm, and doing a small bust adjustment. For once, I didn’t length the skirt, as it seemed to be a good length (i.e. I can actually wear it without fears for showing the world my unders. What the heck is up with super short dresses?!?!? Or maybe it’s just those of us who live in windy locales who worry about that… πŸ˜‰

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The Rose City Halter dress has some lovely details, including a fully-lined bodice, unusual pocket shaping (curved on one side and the base, and straight on the other side!), released pleats at the shoulders, and separate neck ties that you line with the same fabric as your garment so they’re always showing right-side-out. The lined bodice gives a great, clean finish – I went with a yellow lightweight poplin for lining, just to add to the summery essence of the whole garment. πŸ˜‰

I added a couple of other touches too, naturally. I hemmed the skirt using a blind hem and Hug Snug rayon seam binding. And I added an Oscar Wilde quote as a label on the inside, on top of an accent of the Carmine poplin.

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m really happy with how this one turned out. So lovely and girly and summery to wear, and fun to make. πŸ™‚

Also – notice the shoes? Liberty print Nikes, yeah! Double Liberty!! πŸ˜‰

(Photos taken on a trip to Wellington Zoo. In late January (yes, that long ago). In between chasing after two preschoolers who were determined to cause chaos. Hah!)

Rose Squared dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Thank you. All of you.

Wow. Yep, I know I said my next post would be back to pretty dresses, but it turns out there’s one more needed before I get back to the sewing ones. So, here we go… (Along with a few photos taken recently with my phone camera, for one reason or another. Because a blog post without images just seems like it’s missing something, don’t ya think?)

Hawkes Bay at Easter

First, I want to say a huge, massive thank-you to all of you. Those who read my last post, those who commented, who messaged me, who called me. I really wasn’t expecting such an outpouring, and quite frankly words escape me when it comes to describing how it felt! It was overwhelming, but in the best possible way. (And I will reply to you all soon – I’m finding it hard to reply to more than one or two comments or messages at a time, so it’s slow going as I pause to take in each one.)

The moon over Brooklyn

I also want to say a huge, huge thank-you to those of you who have shared your stories. Personal stories of pain, grief, loss, aloneness. And so, so very many stories. All individual, all personal, all private, and all shared with love.

Older brother teaching the younger one how to ride a scooter

It really bought home how common this is. How so many of us go through something along these lines in our lives. And how very, very few of us talk about it, at the time or years afterwards. How we feel we can’t talk about it, and so we bury it inside of us, a wound that never fully heals and by it’s existence helps shape who we are.

Raindrops on a plane window before dawn

Another thing that really stood out to me was the ongoing effects. The guilt that often follows us through life – feelings of guilt about not being strong enough, about having felt that way, and about not talking about it.

Swinging at Woodville on the Easter weekend road trip

And yet, despite how common it is, we tend to go through these experiences in silence. Both during, and after. During, we don’t feel we can talk about it – it’s too overwhelming, too all-encompassing. It’s like a tsunami looming over your shoulder, and acknowledging it’s existence threatens to set it loose to destroy everything you’re trying valiantly to hold together. And of course, the feelings of guilt, of not wanting to burden, of having no one you can talk to safely.

Outfit for presenting at a conference (plus amazing new shoes – thanks Gill and Nat!)

After, we still tend not to talk about things. It’s like a guilty secret – holding inside, something that we worry will make others think about us differently if they found out about it. And the habit of not talking sticks – the scar forms over the wound and we keep our silence.

Yet we all need to talk. So many of us, going through things like this during our lives. And so many of us feeling alone, feeling lost, holding on by only our fingertips.

Breakfast with a friend

What if we all talked about it? What if it wasn’t such a social taboo? What if we were all taught about depression and it’s relatives during school, when we start university, when we’re expecting our first baby? What if there was active awareness, especially at times in peoples lives when we are most vulnerable to our brain chemistry getting disrupted? How would it change things, for even one of us, some of us, all of us?

And how can we start doing this, as individuals, as friends and families, as communities, as society?

Old wharf at Soames Island

Thank you again to everyone who reached out. To the encouraging comments, the caring messages, and the sharing of stories. All of you – I genuinely appreciate you.

(Next up – a floral halter dress. πŸ™‚

Fruit rainbow!

Something changes sometimes always

Well, hello there. It’s been a while.

Quite a long while, in fact. Much longer than I expected it to be, or wanted it to be.

I’ve been missing my little corner of the sewing internet, and wanting to come back. But it’s been hard – surprisingly so. I’ve been making things, getting photos of things, and even started a blog post or two. But publishing them just didn’t feel right. (Although I am looking forward to showing some of the things I’ve been making. There’s a floral halter-neck dress. And another dress, with foxes on. Foxes!!!)

It slowly dawned on me why it wasn’t feeling right to publish posts about pretty dresses and fun outings for photo shoots. Because it only tells part of the story – a carefully curated, positive part of the story. There’s been research done on the impacts of curation of online lives. The result it has of only ever seeing the positive, the fun, the ‘perfect’, and comparing those images and stories to the reality of your own life, in all of it’s messy, chaotic glory. And the result isn’t positive. While we all love looking at pretty things, and reading about fun things, seeing only those can make you feel that you’re not doing as well. Not having as much fun. Not succeeding in living the life everyone else is managing to live. And those are pretty dangerous feelings to have.

So, this post isn’t about pretty dresses. It’s about The Other Stuff.

(And I won’t mind if you don’t want to read it. After all, pretty dresses are much more fun! I’ll be back to regular pretty-dress-posting in a day or so, I promise. So feel free to go away and skip over this single post. πŸ™‚ )

It’s been a rough couple of years, for a variety of reasons. And I’ve decided not to sweep that under the carpet and pretend all has been well, even though that is my natural impulse. Instead, I’m going to talk a little bit about it. To show the not-so-pretty side of things behind the vintage patterns and floral fabrics and bright colours. And I’m doing this in case it helps someone else out there. (And as a small apology to those I’ve lost contact with, or been neglecting. I’m sorry. Truly.)

A good friend of mine did something similar for me. When I was at one of my lowest points, she opened up about her struggles with depression and how she faced up to them. And her openness finally pushed me to go and see someone about mine. You know who you are, lovely lady. And I can honestly say – if you hadn’t talked as you did, when you did, my life would currently be very different.

(I’ll admit – I’ve debated for quite a while about whether to write about this or not. Personally, I may regret it. But I’m putting it out there, in case it helps anyone else. Because if it does, it’s worth writing.)

So, the d-word came up. Depression. In my case – post-natal depression. Pretty bad post-natal depression.

It came on not too long after my second child arrived. He was terrible at sleeping – only one short daytime nap, and waking up 6-12 times a night. That first year after he was born, I was stumbling through life on about 4-5 broken hours of sleep each night. And let’s face it – that sort of sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for some pretty good reasons. It does not do good things to one’s brain.

It was made worse by feelings of isolation. I was working in a suburb, rather than in the centre of my town, which made it pretty much impossible to catch up with friends during the week. Two young children, no car, and a lack of support in the weekends meant I wasn’t able to see people much during the weekend as well. Add in not wanting to be a burdan to people, so hiding the effects sleep deprivation were having on me, and the sense of isolation built up very fast. My long-term relationship was disintegrating at the same time, which clearly didn’t help (increased isolation, lack of emotional support, etc, etc, etc).

Some of my friends were going through rough patches at the time, and because I love them and care for them, I desparately wanted to be there to help and support them. But I couldn’t be as present as I wanted to. And I felt guilt over that, and as though I was letting them down and being a bad friend. (Let’s be clear – these feelings were all coming from me, not from anyone else.)

I was having trouble with some family members – feeling that I was being judged for working while having small children; that I was being found lacking as a parent; that I generally couldn’t do anything right. I was having to constantly defend my partner to my family, while at the same time disagreeing with my partner, so it felt that I was constantly caught in the middle, unable to be honest and being under attack from both sides.

These factors all built up, and built up. It took some time, I’m not sure how long as time moves strangely when you’re in that head space, but post natal depression sunk it’s claws in deep.

And let me tell you – depression hurts! Emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I felt that I didn’t know who I was anymore. That I didn’t really exist, and was simply a shell of a person, carrying out roles in life but with no substance. Being a mother, a colleague, an employee, but it was all an act, put on for the benefit of others while inside I was devoid of life.

I progressed from feeling isolated, to isolating myself. I felt that how I was feeling would be a burden to others, and so I didn’t speak about it, and I pretended all was well. It was hard to pretend, so very hard, and so I stopped seeing people. I felt that I was bringing down my friends, that they were happier when I wasn’t there, and so I stopped seeing them.

The feelings built, the downward spiral continued.

I would say things to my now-former-partner such as “I don’t exist anymore”. They were ignored, and I didn’t try to talk to anyone else because I never saw anyone else. I’d sit in my sewing room at night once the kids were asleep, staring at nothing, slumped on the floor, with an empty mind. Even though I was absolutely exhausted through lack of sleep, I put off going to bed at night. Because bed meant darkness and quiet, which meant the thoughts and feelings would come out of hiding. I kept busy when I could, throwing myself into things, then feeling like an utter failure when I couldn’t keep up the unrealistic pace I set myself. But business while it lasted was a distraction from the emptiness and the pain. I kept putting on a mask when I was around people I knew, and let it fall away the moment they were gone. One clear memory I have is walking through the railway station and seeing a colleague – they noticed me before I noticed them, and I didn’t get the mask on in time. I still worry a bit about what they saw in that moment of unguardedness.

It kept getting worse.

I was in pain every moment of every day – the emotional pain and emptiness so strong they caused physical pain. I felt so hollow and numb that I understood why people cut themselves – to feel something, to know you are still alive, you still exist. And to try and get some of the pain out of your body, as you feel it’s filling you to the brim and is threatening to overwhelm you and destroy you at any moment.

When I had the mask on around others, I’d laugh sometimes. And when I did, on the inside I wanted to curl up in the corner and cry. Laughing on the outside, dying on the inside – it was all an act.

If I ever bought up even a little bit about how I was feeling, I saw rolled eyes, significant looks passed, subjects changed. I was told to ‘snap out of it’. (Even one time when the pain got so much I found myself sitting on the stairs in my house, with the emotional pain being torn from me in a scream that left my throat sore for days afterwards, I was told to ‘snap out of it’ and ‘get it together’.)

I began to genuinely believe that people would be better off without me around. That I was a liability – no good at work, no good as a friend, no good as a partner. I genuinely believed that my then-partner would be better off without me – that he’d be angry with me for leaving him with all the childcare, but that would pass quickly and he’d be happier than if I was there. I even thought that my children, my amazing wonderful children who I would give up anything for, would be better off without me around.

I worried about what I would do, as I fought the desire to hurt myself in order to feel something, anything. As I was tempted by thoughts of ending it, so that I wouldn’t be a burdan to others anymore. I got nervous walking near balconys, over bridges, for fear of giving in to the temptation to just jump off. When cooking food, I worried about being near knives, as I would find myself staring intently at them and visualising picking them up.

It got so bad, that the only thing that stopped me from acting on any of those impulses was the fear that if I killed myself, my children may get teased about it at school, because children can be extremely cruel to one another. I truly believed they would be better off without me, but I didn’t want to be the source of childhood teasing from their peers. And that was the only reason I didn’t do anything.

And then a friend of mine opened up about how she had been battling depression. And I finally went to get help.

It was hard to get help. I felt like a failure, like it was shameful, that I was weak and pathetic for not coping by myself. I still feel like that – I’m ashamed to be on medication, even though it’s been nearly a year since I started taking it. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I don’t feel like depression is something people should be ashamed of, but I feel shame myself. I felt too weak to go for help, and yet getting help was also a sign of weakness. yay for conflicted emotions.

Anyway, I got help. And things got better.

I got put on medication. (Immediately, in fact – my doctor gave me a script nearly as soon as I started talking to her.) I slept a lot, letting my mind heal. I went on a trip with my youngest, and slept and rested and struggled with the feelings of guilt for not seeing people while I was travelling and letting them down and letting myself down, even though I didn’t have the energy to get off the floor of the Airbnb I was staying in sometimes. But the trip helped – I didn’t have to do anything, I just hung out with my then-nearly-two-year-old, slept, wandered, and healed.

A friend and I went to an art show, and a painting jumped out at me. Four words, bold on canvas: something changes sometimes always. One of my friends at university had a tattoo on his arm – ‘this too shall pass’. It was a reminder when things got bad, that he would get through it. This painting, those four words, they spoke to me. Things change. They always change. Change is constant, and it is positive. And this is good. I found myself looking at that painting in the morning when I woke up, and at night before I went to bed, as a reminder that this would pass and things could, would, get better. I repeated the words to myself regularly, keeping that reminder, that hope, alive.

And I slowly got better. The suicidal thoughts stopped. The self-harm thoughts slowly (far too slowly) left. I was able to laugh again, without feeling like the laughter was tearing me apart on the inside. I went to a music gig, the first one I’d been able to go to in years, and another part of me came back to life and I found myself crying while the music streamed over me and through me and I remembered – I love music. I started walking again – long walks, just for the sake of walking. And I remembered how much I enjoyed that – the feel of wind, the view of stars, the sound of trees. I slowly started playing music at home. And sitting in sunlight, just for the enjoyment of it. I rediscovered how to play with my children, and enjoy their company. I slowly remembered who I was, what I enjoy, the parts that make up me, both good and bad. I’d lost those for a long time, and they took a while to return, but they slowly did, piece by piece, forming out of the grey mist that had clouded everything for so long.

And now, I’m back. I’m not the same person I was before – I don’t think it’s possible to be after going through a journey like that. I now understand depression in a way I never could have before, and I can truly emphasise with people going through that, with people who self-harm, with those who see suicide as the only way to end the pain. I wish I didn’t, as that journey hurt so, so much, but at the same time I am glad to be able to understand. I still struggle with feelings of guilt over dropping out of touch with so many people over that time, and over letting people down. Because of that, I’m still quite bad at getting in touch, or keeping in touch – trying to break the habits I formed. I also feel a lot of guilt over how I was as an employee and a colleague during that time – I did my best in the circumstances, but that was only about 20% of my actual best, and for that I feel I’ve let people down. I’ve nearly come to terms with not being the mother I wanted to be for those years, and my grief over that. Some relationships are forever changed, or gone from my life, as a result of that time, and some of those I still mourn for.

But I am still alive. And the world is here, and it is an amazing place, and I am enjoying it again. There are many people I love and care for, and I enjoy their company. I’m excited about the future, and about showing my children the world in all of it’s beauty. I listen to music, I read books, I play with my kids, I walk in the starlight, and I sew pretty dresses.

I’m glad I’m here. And I’m so very, very grateful to that one friend who reached out a hand when I most needed it and shared her story.

That’s why I am sharing mine. Because if you’re feeling like that – you don’t have to. Things change. Things will get better. And you don’t have to do it all yourself. People do genuinely care for you, and they want you around, even if you don’t believe it, even if you don’t like yourself.

And if you know someone who is feeling like that – just be there. Think of Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. His friends kept inviting him to things, and showing him they enjoyed his company. But they didn’t force things, and they didn’t shower him with well-meaning advice. (Because well-meaning advice hurts. You already know you should be doing things like exercising, eating well, etc. But you don’t have the energy for it, and you’re already beating yourself up over not doing it, so the reminders hurt.) Even if they keep declining invites, keep on inviting them – being invited to things shows you are wanted, and that you haven’t been forgotten, and those are pretty big things. (Speaking of which – thank you so much to those of you who reached out to say hi, or to check if I was ok. It made a real difference for me.)

Life is a journey. Things are constantly changing around us. And that’s a good thing.

Swaying around the world

Hello hello! Long time, no see! (Again. Whoops!)

You know what? I think this is officially the longest I’ve ever been without posting here in the past few years. Yep. So there’s a fair bit to catch up on…! πŸ˜‰

But first up – let’s talk sewing.

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And a bit of travelling.

So anyway, I made another dress! (Surprise!)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This time it’s the Sway dress by Papercut Patterns.

Papercut Patterns - Sway dress

Papercut Patterns – Sway dress

Now I liked this dress from the moment I saw it when it was released. But at the same time, it’s not my usual style. (I am a ‘fit and flare’ kinda girl, after all. Hah.) I originally got it because I was still nursing my youngest one, and thought that the tent style and centre front seam would work really well (easy to wear with post-pregnancy body changes, plus easy to add a centre front invisible zip for ‘easy access’ when required by a little one).

But then of course, I didn’t get around to making it before the littlest one decided to stop nursing. And it seemed like it would be yet another sewing plan consigned to the ‘things that could have been made’ pile. 😦

Clearly though, the pattern escaped that fate! Thanks to getting my hands on some lovely drapey viscose with a big floral print. I fell for the fabric, then had to figure out what to make with it. Something with drape… Something that didn’t require too much fabric so I could fit it on what I had… Something that didn’t have too much detailing because of the size of the floral print…. Eureka! The Sway dress!

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Plus, it seemed a perfect style for travelling. πŸ˜‰

(And it was. This dress got it’s first wear in Hong Kong. And then on a long distance flight to Zurich, a shorter flight to Heathrow, a trip to Goldhawk Road in London (!!), a day in Singapore, a flight from Budapest to Frankfurt and on to Singapore, and also a day wandering around Cegled in Hungary. Which is where these photos were taken, courtesy of my extremely wonderful friend Agi. πŸ™‚

Agi and I have a long history. We met when we were 18 – I lived with her family for a year as an exchange student, and they became my “second family”. I try to go back to Hungary every few years to visit them – and since I really wanted to introduce my youngest child to them before he got very old, this year the trip was made! (But more about that in another post.)

Anyway, one of the days I was staying with Agi, we went to Cegled, the nearby town, for a wander around. Perfect excuse for blog photos, no? πŸ˜‰ These were mainly taken in the park at the town centre.

But let’s talk about the dress for now, shall we?

The Sway dress is a lovely pattern. Simple but with a great cut – very 70’s in style with it’s A-line tent dress style. There’s a centre front seam and a centre back seam, and inseam pockets. It comes in two lengths – short (the length I made) and shorter (the length I shall never make). (And yes, I know it’s meant to be longer than this but hey, I’m tall. This is how short above-knee-length styles end up on me.)

The neckline is a deep, wide vee on one side, and a scoop on the other – you can wear the dress either way ’round, so you can pick and choose which neckline you want at the front on any given day.

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

There are no fastenings – it’s a pull-on style, with a narrow tie belt that you can wear to cinch it in at the waist. (Top tip – this also makes it super comfy for wearing for long distance flights! I suspect this is going to be a go-to travel pattern for me.)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So far, sounds pretty simple, right? Well, then we get to the facings and that all changes! The necklines (both of them) are faced, as is the armholes. The facing is an all-in-one style, and the pattern gets you to use the ‘burrito’ method to attach it. (I.e. roll it up really tightly to stitch one side, then roll tightly the other way to stitch the other side.) The result being a lovely, clean finish around both necklines and armholes. Beautiful!

And because I could, I finished off all the inside edges with Hug Snug seam binding. (Although I must admit wishing I hadn’t gone for such a contrast colour, as it shows through the yellow a bit around the edge of the facing. Whoops!)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

As for changes I’d make next time? Only a couple of things, really. I prefer the vee neckline at the front, but it stretched out pretty quick (or else it was always pretty low) on this dress, so next time I’d stabilise it before stitching it, and possibly raise it up a little bit. (Main issue – when I lean forward you can see right down the dress. Oops!) I’d also topstitch the facing down around both necklines – the pattern calls for understitching, but with the width of the neckline and this pattern working best in a drapy fabric, I found it wasn’t quite enough to stop the facing from rolling to the outside. Oh, and the other change I’d make? Add some length. Hah!

Despite this not being my usual style, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I love wearing this dress! It’s perfect for warm weather, and for travelling. (Plus, it makes a great hiding spot for toddlers.)

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And now, let’s finish off with some scenic shots. Just because we can. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day when we were out taking photos – warm in the sun, a little cooler in the shade, and the leaves not quite starting to change colour. (Back in mid-September, by the way. Like I said – I’ve got a bit to catch up on!)


Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The youngest child loved it there in the small park – he spent lots of time running off (necessitating us running after him as he ducked around hedges and snuck under trees and deliberately put small stones in his mouth while laughing at us).



Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Typically, he also found one hole in the lawn and stood in it for a while. Because – child.

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

After the park we went wandering a little bit to find a gift store, and a supermarket so I could buy some Hungarian chocolate to take home and some amazing cake for us all to eat after dinner. (Yum!) Youngest one being a child, he decided part-way down a side street that he didn’t want to be carried. Nor did he want to walk. Stand-off ensued. *sigh*

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


Agi pointed out this building tucked behind some of the others – it was the old fire station tower. Made of wood, and tall so they could keep watch for fires.


Rounded off the trip into town with a lavender lemonade gelato. Which was as amazing as it sounds. Yum!! Wish we had that type of ice cream here…. ❀

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh Dear Me!

Hello hello! It’s me! I’m back! Yay!

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(I’m also sitting inside, under the heat pump, with two woolen blankets tucked around me, a mug of hot lemon honey ginger drink, and feeling super cold. Weather report says it feels like -1 outside at the moment with the wind chill factor. I do not like cold. So instead, let’s talk summer-ish dresses! πŸ˜‰

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(And how inappropriate they are to model in winter, outside. But we’ll get to that later. Brrrrr….)

This one is my latest make for the Minerva Craft Network. As is probably kinda obvious by now, I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for cottons with fun prints on them, so when I spotted this gorgeous Michael Millar cotton poplin with deer and flowers all over it, it jumped straight to my things-I-must-make list. (At the time, I had no idea what I’d make with it, but it was always going to be a dress. Because, dresses.)

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I got invited to be a guest blogger over on Kestrel Makes as part of the Vintage Pattern Pledge this year. (Thanks Kerry!) A great excuse to dig out vintage patterns for pairing with floral deer! πŸ˜‰

The pattern I went with was Simplicity 4298 – a “7 day wardrobe” pattern from the early 1960’s, and one I’ve never made before. (I love the idea of “wardrobe” patterns, don’t you? I’m going to make that a project one day – sew all the variations from a “wardrobe” pattern to make the capsule wardrobe that the envelope promises.) To suit the light weight of the poplin, I went for the full skirted version of the dress, with gathers at the waist. And because I didn’t have quite enough fabric (that skirt takes up a fair bit!) I made the sleeveless variation.

Simplicity 4298 pattern

I made a couple of other changes to the pattern too. The skirt is about 15-20cm shorter than the pattern (again, due to not having quite enough fabric). I did a small bust adjustment and removed the waist dart, keeping only the side dart which got re-positioned by lowering the dart point. And I lowered the waist by 1.5cm. (Which it then turned out I didn’t need to do, as the weight of the skirt pulled it down that much anyway!) I also finished the armholes with a bias facing, rather than a classic facing. (I’m using “fabric quantity” as an excuse for that, although really it’s because I prefer bias facings there! πŸ˜‰

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I went with the facing from the pattern for the neckline, and finished the edge of it with Hug Snug for added inside-of-dress prettiness.

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This pattern and fabric combination went together wonderfully. The poplin is beautiful to work with and nice and light, so it worked well with the bulk of all the gathers at the waistline. (And my gosh, there was a lot of gathering there!!)

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Speaking of which, the skirt has a non-gathered section in the centre front and back, with the gathers only over the sides. Which reminds me a bit of wearing panniers or the like due to the silhouette, but I do like the flat sections in the middle for contrast.

The hem was finished with Hug Snug, and a blind hem done by machine.

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern was quick and easy to make up – but then, it is a pretty basic style for back then! πŸ˜‰ The neckline is finished with a facing, and the dress fastens up the back with an invisible zip. (The pattern called for a dress zip, but I prefer invisible zips for these styles…. I’m such a rebel haha yeah right.)

Overall I really love my new dress! (Mainly because – deer and flowers! Yay!)

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit to not being 100% happy with the fit though. It’s not sitting as close in the upper bodice/neckline as it should, which bothers me a bit. So if I make it again, I’ll pinch about 2.5cm in total out of the centre of the front neckline. Other changes I’d make in the future – keep the waistline at the original position, and close up the side dart while keeping the waist dart instead. (The reason I didn’t do that this time was I felt the side dart would be less obvious with this print. The high risk of having folded-up deer, and all that.)

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The day after I finished this dress, my partners parents came to visit and looked after our kids for a couple of hours, so my partner and I seized the opportunity to go out and have a coffee and an actual conversation (!!) and go for a walk. (We used to love going for random walks and exploring places….) We went out to Strathmore, a suburb in Wellington, and walked out to the old World War II radar and gun station that looks out over the south coast. It’s so gorgeous out there!

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

It was also super cold, being winter and a classic Wellington windy day. Brrr!!! I had to psyche myself up to take my coat, scarf and jersey off for the photos, and it was a very fast photo shoot after that so I could jump back into warm clothes, haha!

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’ve been wearing this dress nearly every week since. (Yeah, I may have made it and photographed it about a month ago. *shrug*) So it’s a definite winner.

Yay, deer and flowers! πŸ™‚

(And speaking of flowers, here’s some scenic shots to finish off. Including the airport, since the bunker looks out over it.)

Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes



Oh Deer dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

view through plant

Nighttime florals

Hola! Once again, long time, no blog post! (Whoops!)

Not to say that I haven’t been writing blog posts – it’s been Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch, which has been rather full-on! Heaps of fun though, and so many inspiring creations. (And I may have added a few more things to my things-I-really-want-to-sew-right-this-minute list. Yikes! Too much I want to make, never enough time… If only one could get paid to sit at home and sew pretty things for oneself… πŸ˜‰

Anyways, I have been doing a bit of sewing, if not as much as usual! I’ve also been doing some knitting, since it’s winter over here and winter = knitting, yes indeed. (I even have a completed knitting project to show off – oh my! But that’ll be for another day, as this cardigan got finished first and therefore is getting posted first.)

So for today, I have for you… a cardigan! A lovely black lightweight merino knit cardigan, to be precise.

NIghttime Florals cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

A while back, my friend Lou wore a gorgeous cardigan to work that I immediately coveted. It had a lovely curved front yoke panel in a sheer poly chiffon type fabric, while the rest of the cardigan was knit. Gorgeous, I tells ya! So naturally, I immediately added making one similar to my β€˜things to do’ list. πŸ˜‰

NIghttime Florals cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Black isn’t really my thing, but it’s also a very useful colour to have as a cardigan, as it actually goes with other things. (Unlike many of my garments, which pile together in a colourful, clashing mash-up of crazy prints.) So I pulled this lovely super-fine merino out of my stash, paired it with a black-with-green-floral print cotton I got from Fabric-a-brac a while back, and set to work.

I used the Jenna cardigan pattern as a base. Making the modification was easy – I figured out where on my chest I wanted the curve to end, and used the notch markers in the armscye to start the curve from the side. Simply cut it directly from the pattern, then added seam allowance to both yoke and remaining front bodice when cutting out the pattern. Simple! (Although I did take care that the woven fabric was mainly above my bust, for easy fitting. Not that I have much of a bust, but still…)

NIghttime Florals cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The sleeves on this are actually narrower than the original Jenna cardigan sleeves – I’ve been playing around a bit with them, and may have an update to the pattern coming out in about a month, with a narrow sleeve option as well as the original classic straight sleeve. Sssh! Secret squirrel! πŸ˜‰

Photos were taken around on the Miramar Peninsula, while hanging out with the lovely Nikki and Sandra. (Thanks, ladies!) We went to see a great movie together (whose name I just completely forgot, but it was about β€œthe worst singer in the world” and was utterly delightful), then nabbed some photos on the coast on the way back home.

Right then, back to the knitting I go! πŸ˜‰

What are you making at the moment? Go on, give me some inspiration on what to start next!


NIghttime Florals cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


NIghttime Florals cardigan | Modern Vintage Cupcakes



True blue, baby

It’s getting cold, down here in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ve been having a lovely autumn so far – warm days, good weather. And then a couple of days ago, winter decided to arrive. Brrrr!!! Oh well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later?!

And winter is, of course, the perfect time for flannel pajamas. πŸ˜‰

Which brings me to… the first thing I’ve made for myself in nearly two months! Eeek!!!! How on earth has it been that long?!?!

True Blue pajama pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to make some new pajama pants for, well, ages really. Most of mine are nearly threadbare and overdue for retirement. And you know, colder weather, need new pajamas and all that.

Enter the Carolyn pajama pants, from Closet Case Patterns. This is the second time I’ve made these, and I wear my first pair all the time. They’re super comfy – a nice slim cut, while still plenty roomy enough to move around in easily. I now officiallly have a go-to pattern for pajama pants. Hah!

This is where I have to give a big shout-out to me-of-the-past, who wrote a blog post last time I made these and said I lengthened the pattern by 4cm and should add another 1.5cm in the future. Yay for blog posts and relevant details like that! So I followed me-of-the-past’s advice, and added 5.5cm length to these, and now they are perfect. Love it!

True Blue pajama pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

For this pair, I made the variation with the cuffs at the bottom. (The 5.5cm of extra length was added to the legs – the cuffs are the same width as the original pattern.) And because I could, I added some teal green piping where the cuffs joined on to the leg.

True Blue pajama pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Why teal green? Ok, I admit it. It was the closest to my sewing table and I couldn’t be bothered standing up to find another colour. Lazy!! But also happy, as I think it works really well with this blue. πŸ˜‰

The fabric is a nice flannellette from Minerva Crafts. Lovely and soft and cozy to wear, it sews up like a dream as flannel tends to do. And I am completely in love with the shade – such a vibrant royal blue!

The elastic in the waistband is also from Minerva – a classic no-roll elastic, slightly narrower than the pattern called for (whoops!) but I think it works fine anyway.

Aside from the length addition, I didn’t make any changes to this pattern at all. And I recommend it – it goes together well, I love the fit, and the instructions are all nice and clear.

And yes, I’ll be making some more soon. I have some flannellette with foxes all over it that is demanding to be winter pajamas… πŸ˜‰

True Blue pajama pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(I must say, it’s nice to have made something for myself again…. Here’s hoping it won’t be so long before the next garment!)

And here’s why I haven’t been around much lately….

Well, actually, there are a few reasons! (Including a new job – exciting! And all the madness of getting ready for Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch.) But the main one – I’ve been hard at work on my next pattern. Eek!

One of my goals this year was to step things up a bit with Muse, and I did that with this design, by venturing out into the big world of professional photography. And it was quite an adventure! A very exciting and fun one, at that. A real photographer, with real equipment, in a real studio space. And I’ll tell you about that experience another day, as right now, I want to show off my latest pattern! πŸ˜‰

Please meet…. Philippa!

Philippa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Philippa was inspired by a lovely friend of mine. A graphic and brand designer, who spent a lot of time in London, and has a penchant for wearing lots of black, short skirts, and likes late-60’s mod-inspired designs. She’s also a very practical person, so naturally this pattern has pockets. πŸ˜‰

The Philippa pattern references late 60’s mod styling in it’s princess seams, slim fitted style, panels, jewel neckline, and wide, flat collar. Plus, there’s a mini length option for the skirt – after all, you can’t reference late 60’s mod style without a nod to the mini skirt!

Philippa pattern | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

As with all my patterns, I added in several variations to make it versatile and easily remade several times for completely different garments. Philippa can be made as a dress, a top or a skirt. With cap sleeves, sleeveless, or slightly cut-away shoulders. With a scoop neck, jewel neck, or collar. With or without pockets. And with a knee length or mini length skirt. Lots of ways to mix-and-match!

Philippa pattern | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since this is a pattern for wovens (or stable knits, such as ponte), it includes both B and D cup options. (Which brings me to another thing – it has a different sizing chart to other Muse patterns. While the sizes made sense when I was only drafting for one cup size, it didn’t when a D cup was added. E.g. size 40 for a D cup would mean a full bust of 42″ and a high bust of 38″, and no 40″ measurement anywhere to be seen! So for Philippa, the sizing is based on high bust measurements, and then selecting the appropriate cup size based on full bust. E.g. if you have a high bust of 38″, and a full bust of 40″, you’d make a 38-B. And if you had a high of 38″ and a full of 42″, you’d make a 38-D. Which makes a lot of sense in my head, and hopefully will make sense to everyone else as well!)

Philippa pattern | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit that Philippa was actually released to the world a few days ago. It’s taken me this long to get time to write about it here! (I have other posts that are works in progress as well – one day soon I shall get to completing those. After all, I still have to do a show-and-tell of that 1970’s Elna Lotus machine…!)

Oh, and there’s 15% off the Philippa pattern until end of day Monday 2 May, with the code ‘HELLOPHILIPPA’. Plus, the full sale price (less bank fees) of all Philippa patterns sold between when it launched and end of day Monday 2 May will be donated to the Cancer Society, a charity chosen by the wonderful person who inspired the pattern.

Philippa pattern | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And now, it’s time I went and sewed up something for myself! I have some black and green floral cotton calling my name….. πŸ˜‰

A Measure of Pink

Ever since I saw the Meta dress that Dolly Clackett made, I’ve been wanting a tape measure dress all of my own. And now… I have one! Yay!

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I was pretty excited to find this cotton poplin at Minerva. Although I must admit to debating about it for a while – would it be too much? Is it too cliched for a sewist? Am I going over the top?

(The answer to all of those is, of course – not at all!)

But I kept on returning to it, and eventually I caved. (Which then prompted a bunch more thought – which colourway? I was super tempted by the red and grey for a while. But pink won out. Just!)

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

With such a directional print, I wanted to match it with a pattern that would play with that. Enter the By Hand London Sophia dress. With its Y darts in the bodice, angled arm holes, and full skirt with godets, I figured there was ample angle opportunities to play with a inconsistent bold stripe design.

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This was my first time sewing up a By Hand London pattern. I used the paper pattern (although they’re sold out of the paper version, you can still get one from Minerva crafts). I really do like the packaging design of By Hand London patterns. The pastel colours, different shaped cut outs, and the well thought out details, such as the design on the inside of each sleeve that matches the inspiration of the pattern. Lovely!

The instructions are in a nice booklet – clear illustrations, easy to follow steps, and a friendly tone of voice. My one issue was that the size chart and finished measurements are on the back of the packaging inset, rather than in the instruction book – it took me a minute to find them, and I had to keep reminding myself they were there, rather than where I expected them to be. But really, that’s pretty minor, and all the measurements you need are still there to be easily accessed!

The pattern came together nice and easily. All the notches lined up, all the markings that were needed were there, no problems whatsoever.

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made my usual adjustments to the pattern – doing a 2” SBA to bring it from a B-cup to an AA-cup. Lowering the front bust dart points by quite a bit. And lengthening the bodice by 1.5”. All changes I need to make to pretty much every pattern, and nothing out of the ordinary at all.

There was a bit of debate when it came to choosing a size. I based my decision on my high bust measurement + 2″ (as the By Hand London patterns are drafted for a B cup, and I’m a AA cup). My measurements fit between two sizes, and I went down rather than up. A deliberate decision – I am still holding out hope that I’ll lose the last of the baby weight, in which case, the smaller size should fit well (hopefully soon?!?). Whereas a lot of the dresses I made last year are now a size too big in the bodice. So, I sized down, and the result is admittedly a bit too fitted in the bodice. I’m still debating about that – should I let the upper bodice side seams out a bit? Or leave them there? Hmmm…. (I’ve left the lining unattached at the waist for now, while I decide. Because I am lazy and once I’ve finished a garment, especially one that involves hand stitching down lining on the inside, I’m very unlikely to go back and alter it later. Sad but true.) Fit for now, or fit for later? What do you think I should do??

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The bodice is fully lined, for which I used an olive green cotton remnant that was near the top of my stash (why? Because I couldn’t find the lemon yellow poplin I would have usually used, and this was the only suitable weight non-patterned fabric nearby!). The lining gives it a nice clean finish around the arms and neckline. I also stitched the lining to the invisible zip on the inside for a clean finish, rather than handstitching it as the instructions called for.

A Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and added a label for fun, of course. πŸ˜‰

(Speaking of which, I really must get around to getting some good woven labels made. It’s been on my to-do list for a while now….)

For hemming, I used yellow Hug Snug, and a blind hem stitch on my machine. And this is where the volume of that skirt really comes in! It took me 9 minutes of steady and fast sewing to get around the hem of the skirt. Then pressing time, then another 9 minutes to do the blind hem stitching. Yep, that hem took over half an hour to do – yikes!!! Not one I would ever recommend hand stitching, that’s for sure!

A Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

As far as the style goes now that I’ve made it up – I like it! The Y darts in the bodice are a fun touch, especially how they’re replicated on the back, and I like how they echo the neckline and armhole angles. The skirt is lovely and full and swishy and fun to wear with it’s seven godets, yet still nicely fitted around the waist and upper hips as they start a little down from the waistline. Plus, good for twirling!

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit that the fit isn’t quite right on me though – I didn’t pick it up in my super quick muslin (which was done mainly to mark where to move the bust point to and to check bodice length), but the armholes aren’t sitting quite right on me in front and back at the lower edges – there’s a bit of standing-out-from-the-body happening there, so I’ll need to fix that for the next variation. (And yes, there is likely to be a next variation. With the collared version – I really want to make that one, but it seemed like it might be a bit much with all the tape measures and the direction changes in the fabric for this time!)

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Overall – I recommend this pattern, and will happily make it again. I also recommend this fabric – a nice and easy to sew with poplin, with a fun print and great colours.

It also works well when worn with a cardigan, so for me that makes it pretty much an all-year-round dress when matched with tights, boots, and a long-sleeved merino top underneath.

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I wore this out on Friday night as it was my last day at work so we went out for a farewell dinner and drinks, and got compliments from two complete strangers, so I figure it’s a win. πŸ˜‰

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The photos were taken last weekend, when my parents were visiting and we all went to the Southwards Car Museum up the Kapiti Coast (for which a blog post may follow sometime soon). We had lunch at Paekakariki then took the kids to a nearby playground so they could burn off some energy. Big thanks to my lil’ sis’ for playing photographer at the park! The island behind me in the hilltop images is Kapiti Island – a nature reserve where there are all sorts of amazing NZ birds. And I haven’t been there yet, as you have to book in advance and my life is not that organised these days – maybe in a few years when the kids are bigger. Since we were at a playground, fun had to be had – climbing trees, going down slides, that kind of thing. Because – playground!

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Measure of Pink dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

A symphony of seventies swans

(Not that origami swans can really make much noise, but it’s getting to be past my bedtime and I like the alliteration. πŸ˜‰


You may recall (if you read it) that I mentioned one of my plans for this year is to use some of my vintage machines to make garments using patterns from the same era as the machine. This is a plan that’s been sifting around in my mind for a good couple of years now. And every so often, someone suggests it to me as well – which has pretty much solidified it in my mind as something that I really should do. πŸ˜‰

And now, here it is – the very first garment in that series!

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

To start of with, I made a 1970’s pattern, using a 1970’s machine. An Elna Lotus ZZ, in fact. This machine used to be (still is?) my mothers – I believe it was her first machine, given as a 21st birthday present. (Mum – feel free to correct me if I have the facts wrong, please?!)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This is also the machine that I learnt to sew on, and spent many happy hours when I was a child, making dolls clothes and scrunchie hair ties. (Remember those? Tubes of fabric with elastic threaded through so when you sewed the ends together the fabric all ‘scrunched’ up. I had a lot of them – there was a definite scrunchie-making phase when I was in primary school.)

So with all that history, it seemed only fitting that this was the machine that started off the Vintage Patterns With Vintage Machines series, don’t you think? πŸ˜‰

I’m going to break this into two posts – one on the pattern and garment, and the other on the machine. Today, we’re having a look at the pattern and garment.

The pattern I choose for this was Butterick 6617 – a princess-seamed dress with collar and zippered front from the 1970’s (year unknown). It’s a pretty classic 1970’s pattern – huge collar, optional massive patch pockets, no waist seam, and a zip down the front. It was also pretty perfect for my lifestyle a year ago, which is when I cut it out (whoops!). (And here’s where I give a big shout-out to The Monthly Stitch, and the UFO challenge for February, without which this project may still be languishing, not a stitch yet sewn, waiting for me to finally get around to making the bias binding for the trim. Thanks, Monthly Stitch challenge, for making me get my act together!)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I decided to make the sleeveless variation, without patch pockets or belt. In large part because I didn’t have enough fabric for pockets, belt or sleeves. πŸ˜‰

Like all 1970’s patterns that I’ve worked with before, this one was a breeze. Clear pattern markings, the instructions were fine, and the sizing was pretty accurate. Not a lot to say about it, really!

I used an invisible zip for the centre front (the instructions have you choose between either a dress zip or an invisible zip). Which, due to the fabric qualities, didn’t end up quite as invisible as it should have, sadly….

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Actually, let’s speak about the fabric for a moment. (And yes, I’m jumping all over the place with this one. It’s late, I’m typing stream-of-consciousness, too bad.) Firstly – isn’t this a great print?!? Origami swans! With orange outlines!! On a bright blue background!!! It caught my eye and came home with me one day when I ducked into Spotlight for something innocent (probably some interfacing or the like). Those of you in Australasia will be familiar with the Spotlight Phenomenon – the customer service and queues in those stores are always so bad that you often end up queuing for half an hour just to buy half a metre of interfacing. And that’s once you’ve found the dratted stuff, since the stores are a mess and everything seems to get reorganised all the time (I use the word ‘organised’ in there very loosely) and the staff don’t often know where anything is. If you can even find a staff member to ask. Anyway, with all that frustration and annoyance and waiting, it ends up feeling that you have to make the most of the time you’ve wasted there. Which means – Buy More Fabric!!! After all, can’t spend an hour looking for then purchasing interfacing and not get something fun out of it too, right? (Are you familiar with this phenomenem, or is it just me and my poor impulse control around fabric fabric fabric?)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So yes, this fabric was one of those purchases. Spotted in the pile next to the counter, waiting to be put back on the shelf. It had origami swans on it. I was annoyed. So I bought it.

Which I really shouldn’t have done, as it’s a terrible poor quality polyester that only cost $4/m (which in NZ is Very Cheap Fabric when full price) and there are already fade lines from creases on it even though it’s only been worn once. But – origami swans! It’ll be a short-lived dress (environmental guilt) but it’ll be a fun one while it lasts.

The orange on the other hand is just a nice, lightweight cotton poplin. Bought to contrast with the swans once I had paired fabric with pattern.

I decided to highlight the front princess seams with flat piping – partially to bring out the orange a bit more, and partially because to get this dress out of the fabric I had, I had to cut the side front pieces with the swans swimming in the other direction, so the flat piping is a break for swimming as well. πŸ˜‰

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

You may notice one key difference between my dress and the pattern. The collar. My one is about 1/3rd the size of the one on the pattern. I did start off with the one on the pattern – that didn’t really go so well…..

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

See? Yeah. Just a bit too much orange going on there! And I had no more of the swans fabric. So, turning to some sewing buddies for help, I went with their idea of cutting it down to about 1/3rd of the original width. Which I reckon works a lot better.

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Not a lot to say about this pattern really – the neckline and armholes are finished with facings. Everything went together smoothly. The armholes are a bit too constricting on me so I’m going to go and make them a little bit deeper at some point.

With the exception of the overlocking, the blind machine hem, and the invisible zip, this was all constructed using the Elna Lotus ZZ. (It didn’t have the feet for the invisible zip, nor the stitch for the blind hemming, so I jumpted back onto my trusty Elna 2004-SP for those parts.)

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Wore this to work on Monday and got quite a few comments. I am rather fond of it, cheap fabric and all that it may be. And it was really nice to be stitching it up on the lovely Lotus machine! πŸ™‚

Stay tuned for more about that Lotus. It’s a beauty, and deserves a post all to itself.

And one other thing – although I enjoyed making this pattern, and love the final garment, it’s not one I see myself making again. (Too many patterns, not enough time!). So, here’s a little giveaway to find it a new and loving home!

If you’d like to go into the draw to win my copy of Butterick 6617, let me know in the comments (please make sure I have an easy way to contact you if you win!) and I’ll draw a winner on Friday 18 March. The pattern is a size 14 – bust size 36″, waist 27″, hip 38″.

Yay! Swans!! πŸ™‚

Symphony of Seventies Swans dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes