Category Archives: Family

Trousers for little people

Sometimes I blog about things I’ve made straight away. Other times, I mean to, but then I get distracted, and it can be a while before I get around to doing it. Yep – this post is one of those latter ones. (And I can now cross it off my blog to-do list! Yay! Something so satisfying about crossing things off to-do lists, ahhhh….)

Back in December, they were doing a collection of things for the Wellington City Mission’s Christmas drive – food, toys, etc to make up Christmas parcels for families in need. Seemed like a good time to break out the sewing machine.

(But let’s face it – any time is a good time to break out the sewing machine!)

I also pulled out my trusty little kids trousers pattern (Simplicity 3766), hunted through my stash for some cute cottons, and made these, to fit one-year-old toddlers:

Green and white gingham with red cherries
Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Blue with pirates
Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And since I was about it (and he needed new trousers) I made the Little Guy a pair of red pirate trousers as well.
Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

His grandmother showed him how to water the garden. Cute!

Baby trousers | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My sister, the sailor

Waaaay back in late September, I made my lil’ sis’ a top for her birthday. It’s a bit of a late top, really. I was a couple of weeks late for her birthday in making it, and now I’m a couple of months late in posting it post-make. (Terribly enough, she’s kinda used to me being late with birthday presents. Best intentions, poor time management and easily distracted. Sad but true. Sorry, sis!)

Anyway, this one’s the Bonny Sailor top from Cake patterns.

Bonny Sailor Top from Cake patterns | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

First time I’d made this pattern, and I ended up making two at the same time – one for my sister, and one for me. (You’ll get to see the one I made for myself sometime soon, I promise!)

The pattern is quite interesting – a princess-seamed knit top with (or without) a sailor collar. It calls for having buttons down the front as well, but I kinda prefer it without. Easier to wear under cardigans, and less risk of them accidentally ending up in the wrong place on one’s chest. 😉

Bonny Sailor Top from Cake patterns | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

After a fair bit of rummaging through my stash, debating which my sister would like the most, I finally settled on this red-on-red-stripe semi-slinky-feeling medium weight knit I bought at the (amazing) Levana textile factory shop a while back. (Thanks Mum for helping with the decision!)

Bonny Sailor Top from Cake patterns | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

For contrast-colour fun, I used a narrow navy blue satin ribbon to edge the collar and the sleeves.

Bonny Sailor Top from Cake patterns | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern went together reasonably well. It has the Cake style sizing, with connect-the-dots markers for bust, waist, and length, so you can customise it to your actual measurements. For the main part, the instructions were reasonably easy to follow. I did have some issues with the neck binding, and with what appears to be an error with the pattern (although it may have been my mistake?), but I’ll go into those on the post about the one I made for myself.

Bonny Sailor Top from Cake patterns | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(For now, you can just admire my lovely sister and one of the cats at our parents house. 🙂 )

My sister seems to like it, and I hear reports that it’s been worn a few times now, so I’m gonna take that as a selfless-sewing win. Yeah!

Bonny Sailor Top from Cake patterns | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(PS My lil’ sis’ isn’t really a sailor.)

Caramel Tiramisu

Guess what?

Yeah, I made (another) Tiramisu, from Cake patterns.

Back when I made the Chocolate Tiramisu (they must all be named after imaginary Tiramisu flavours, after all) for my mother, she expressed an interest in getting another one in a more summery fabric. Turns out she’s been wearing her Tiramisu quite a bit, so I made her another one for her birthday.

This time, I used a heavy-ish weight knit. No idea what the fabric content is, it’s been hanging around in my stash for quite some time. It doesn’t have a huge amount of stretch to it though, it’s quite a stiff knit. So even though the Chocolate Tiramisu is a bit too big on my mum, I decided to make the Caramel one in the same size as I had a feeling that the different properties of this knit would result in a closer fit than the chocolate stretch lace I used for the first Tiramisu-for-my-mother.

Turns out that was a good idea, and this one fits her rather well. 🙂 I finished it just in time to give to her when she was up visiting us for a few days last week, as a slightly-belated birthday present.

(Although my photographer-guy only took three photos, all of which were from the front, and it was too late before I realised to get any more before my mum went back home to Dunedin. So, you only get one photo of it to prove it exists….)

Caramel Tiramisu | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This fabric has actually been in my stash for a few years, waiting to turn into a dress for my mother. Better late than never, right?! (Oops!) It’s a colour scheme she likes for dresses – autumn shades and florals.

(And as per usual when I make something for someone else, I am now beset by doubt that she likes it and will wear it. Does anyone else get that? A semi-conviction after you give someone something you made that they only said they liked it to humour you? Or is it just me? Ah well, more reason to keep sewing selfishly, right? 😉 )

This is the fifth Tiramisu I’ve made now (and the third for someone else – turns out they make good gifts!), and it took me a grand total of 1.5 hours from start to finish. Including cutting out fabric. Yeah, turns out it’s a pretty fast make when you’ve got your fit sorted out! As with the others, I did it all up on my overlocker. Although my overlocker decided not to play ball completely and rather than doing a cover stitch as topstitching on the neck and sleeve bindings, I ended up having to do two rows of plain sewing machine stitching instead since the overlocker threads kept skipping. *sigh* But hey, it happens – overlockers can be temperamental little beasties at times!

Wish I could figure out how to stop the fabric from pulling a bit under the bust, where each of the neck binding ends gets caught in the midriff piece – anyone know how to do that? I think it’s just part of this pattern, where less-stretchy bits get attached to more-stretchy bits. *shrug*

Anyway, there we have it – another Tiramisu! Something tells me it won’t be the last….

Pirate pants (arrr!)

Oooh yeah, been a while since I made anything for the Little Man, hasn’t it? But hey, maybe not all that long after all…. coz I made him some pirate pants back in September for a pirate party a few days before we went off on our holiday. Didn’t get any good pics of him in them then, so, you know, we had to get some pics at Lake Bled in Slovenia instead. (Oh, the things I do for this blog. I hope you all appreciate the huge effort into finding “interesting” photo locations. 😉 )

Anyway, these are from a pattern I’ve used beforeSimplicity 3766. Pretty simple, there’s just two pieces in total, and some elastic around the waist.

Pirate pants

I did get a bit lazy, though. (Have you noticed that sometimes it takes more effort to be lazy than it does to just do something in the first place? Yeah, this was one of those times.) My sewing machine and overlocker (serger) share a desk, and when I want to use my overlocker I just move the sewing machine out of the way and pull the overlocker into the right spot. This time, I couldn’t quite be bothered moving my sewing machine, so instead of doing my usual overlocked edge finish I french-seamed all the seams. Yeah, more-effort-being-lazy. As you do.

Pirate pants

Turns out this is a slightly odd pattern sizing – they’re a bit too short in the crotch depth, and way long in the leg. But hey, that’s ok. They still come up high enough over his butt, and we just turn the cuffs up on them. And I guess it means they’ll fit him a bit longer, since he’s got that good ol’ “room to grow” going on. 😉 And, you know, they’ve got cute skulls on them. So I reckon they’re pretty awesome, no?

Pirate pants

These pics were taken on the edge of Lake Bled while we were waiting for enough people to turn up so we could take a gondola over to the tiny little island. Our Little Man got rather fascinated by the chains holding the gondola’s onto the dock. Just like any good pirate, he was trying to figure out how to take off with a boat, I suspect. Aaarrrr!

Pirate pants

I’m back!

Meiji Jingu shrine gate

Tokyo – cedar gate leading to Meiji Jingu shrine

Well, hello there! Nice to see you again. 🙂 Yep, that’s right – I’m back from holiday! And what a holiday it was – full of fun times, fascinating things to see and learn, great visits with lovely friends, and even a bit of sewing-related shopping here and there.

Boating on the Tisza river

Hungary – boating on the Tisza river

And no blog posts while I was away. Ah well. I had plans, grand plans, to post while on holiday. I had a laptop, a camera, things to post about. I’d made sure most of the places we were staying had internet connections. I figured I’d have a couple of hours each evening after our little guy went to bed. Yeah, well. Time and decent internet connections didn’t really happen at the same time. Ever. So no blog posts for a few weeks.

Ljubljana flower market

Slovenia – flower market in Ljubljana

No blog reading, either. Which also means – the sew-alongs list is out of date. Argh!!!! Since I’ve got nearly 4 weeks of blog posts to catch up on, it’s gonna take me for-evah to track down all the new sew-alongs, meet ups, and swaps that have been announced this month. So I was wondering – those of you who know about any, could you tell me about them in the comments? Pretty please? So I can update the list for those who use it. 🙂

Duomo details

Milan – details on the side of the Duomo

I’ve got a few posts in my head, all waiting to be transferred to the blog as time allows. Never fear though – I won’t be going all travel-blog styles on you. (Unless you want me to? If there’s a particular place/thing/whatever anyone wants me to talk about, lemme know and I’ll happily talk/share photos about it.) Although I may not be able to resist adding a pic or two from our travels to a post or two on other things. Because, you know, our trip was AWESOME!!!!! (<- true fact)

Shanghai street stalls

Shanghai – street stalls near Yu Yuan

So…. what’s been going on with you while I’ve been away? Tell me all the news! 🙂

Thanks, mum!

I knew it – mentioning in advance that I was going to finish a new shirt by Thursday and post about it eventuated in me shooting myself in the foot, so to speak. That’s right – the shirt still isn’t finished. (Not too much further to go, though!)

Which means, I don’t have my Sew Grateful project finished for Sew Grateful week. Argh!

So instead of showing you a project I’ve made from things I’m sew grateful for, I’m going to show you something my mother made, that I’m sew grateful for. (And that I’ve been meaning to show you for a few weeks now.)

This gorgeous cardigan:


Isn’t it purty? She made it from a pattern from the 1940’s.


It’s made of pure wool – the main wool is some we found for sale, hand-dyed by a women up in Auckland. There wasn’t enough for the entire cardigan, so my mother found another wool to use for the sleeves and edgings, and worked it in with some stripes on the back so it all tied together nicely. It’s all knitted in 4 ply, too. (She has far more patience than I have!)


We went to Made Marion to visit Mrs C, and to hunt out some buttons and bias binding. Check out this adorable bias binding Mrs C showed us – it’s got ladybirds on it! How seriously cute is that?!


My mother is an amazing knitter. I have memories of her knitting when I was young, making these incredibly detailed jerseys with heaps of colours and images in them for us all. It was always so much fun picking out the patterns we wanted knitted next, and seeing all the pretty colours of wool.


And now, how super lucky am I? She makes heaps of gorgeous knitted creations for Drake. (Both of his grandmothers knit – that boy of ours has a very nice and enviable collection of snuggly, cute and awesome knitted garments and toys!) And she still makes me things! We’ve been building up a collection of vintage 1940’s and 1950’s pattern books together and she’s made me two 1940’s cardigans so far.


One day, when I grow up, I want to be able to knit like she does. 🙂

You know, when I grow up and develop some patience….

The “Abigail” baby dress


It was Steve’s niece’s first birthday yesterday, so I made her a dress. (Because, let’s face it – making dresses for little girls is fun!)

I went to my go-to pattern for 1 year old girls – Butterick 4752. I have no idea when this is from, and I don’t have any images of the pattern cover either – I traced it off my mother’s copy of the pattern about 2-3 years ago after she recommended it to me as a good one for little girls.

It’s a nice and easy pattern to make – both front and back are the same. (After all, it’s not as though one year old girls need much in the way of shaping, is it?!) The skirt pieces gather onto the top bands, and the dress pops over the head and fastens with ties on either shoulder.


All the seams are overlocked. I turned under the hem again on the inside to make a nice, clean finish so that little fingers and toes wouldn’t accidently pull on the overlocking thread.


The inside is finished (front and back) with a facing that hides all the gathers and makes it nice and smooth against baby skin. Just like with the hem, I finished the bottom of the facing so that the overlocking is hidden away from little fingers. I then top-stitched all around the neck and armholes so everything stays down nicely (even on days when it gets worn without being ironed, because, c’mon, baby clothes).


The great thing about this style is that even though it’s sized for a one year old, it can fit a much larger child – as they grow, it just becomes more like a top rather than a dress, as it can be adjusted over the shoulders with the ties.

The other great thing about this is the fabric! It’s lightweight cotton, stripy, and has images of animals in vehicles all over it. Cats in trains, bears in planes, dogs in cars, and bunnies in boats. I love it! My mother gave it to me a while back – I’ve got quite a bit left, and some is definitely earmarked for shirts for Drake when he’s a little older.


Carrying on with the Pieces of Us project I also made a soft toy, using some of the scraps from the dress for the arms and legs.

Meet Abigail, who the dress is named after:


Isn’t she cute? I tried out a pattern I hadn’t used before, the “Polly” doll from the Softies book. (I love that book – every softie I’ve tried making from it has worked out beautifully, and they’re all so cute and quirky!) Abigail is currently waiting for Friday, when I’ll give her to the Plunket nurse when she comes to give Drake his check-up. She’ll then find a new home for Abigail, with one of the poorer families in the area. Hopefully she’ll be loved and find a new friend! It’s always a bit scary, sending one of these guys out into the world alone – will they be found? Will they be loved? Fingers crossed!

A family of Christmas stockings

For a couple of years now, I’ve had the intention to make Christmas stockings for everyone in my family. (We still get stockings from Santa every year, it’s part of the fun of Christmas, we all meet at my parents house for Christmas breakfast of pancakes and fresh berries, then after breakfast we get to open our stockings.) Usually, our stockings consist of some of Dad’s socks (it’s amazing how much you can fit in a long men’s sock – we had them as our Santa stockings when I was a child, too). Which are kind of cool, but, well, just not as special as purpose-made Christmas stockings, right?

Finally, I got around to making stockings for everyone this year!

They were nice and easy to make, which is just as well since I made nine of the things. (One brother and sister-in-law combination aren’t getting any this year since they’re over in the States. Maybe next year…..) They also made for a good scrap-busting project – the majority of fabric for these came from my scrap boxes. I had a lot of fun digging through them to find the ‘right’ colours and prints, and mixing and matching them to suit the people who’ll be getting them. 🙂

These three are for Drake (it’s got pirate flags on it!), me, and Steve.

For my sister, one brother, and my father. (Recognise the fabric on the cuff of the middle stocking? It’s from my Gingham-To-Go shirt.)

And for my mother, sister-in-law, and another brother. (Fabrics to spot this time – the blue-with-Kowhai-flowers on the middle one is from my Something Floral, Something Blue dress, and the green-and-white gingham is from my Texan Gingham dress.)

I even lined them all, using either white, light blue, or green, depending on the stocking.

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out – they look quite fun, all lined up together. 🙂 (And yes, I should have pressed them before I took the photos, but my mother was up visiting and I just got the last one finished in time for her to take them when she flew home, so no time to bust out the iron. Just imagine those curves being all pretty and smooth, as that’s what they’ll be like soon.)

It feels rather good, to have a project I’ve been meaning to do for a few years finally done!


… our little boy! Meet Drake Lothian. He was born at 1.46pm on Monday 17 September. We utterly adore him. 🙂

(And now I know he’s a boy, I have lots of plans of dressing him in little 1940’s and 1970’s inspired outfits when he’s a little bigger. And dressing him a bit like a pirate, too. We reckon Drake sounds like a good gentleman-pirate kind of name, don’t you?)

This photo was on his one-week birthday. Hard to believe this little guy was on the inside only a week beforehand!

So far, motherhood is rather wonderful. I’m loving getting to know our wee man, and getting to cuddle him lots. (Heck, even doing one or two loads of laundry each day is still kinda amusing, although I suspect my entertainment at that part will wear off pretty quickly, ha ha!)

The “Generations” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: about 2/3rds of a cotton double-sized duvet cover I got in a clothes swap a while back
Pattern: Style 2382
Year: 1978
Notions: about 1 metre of hem binding tape
Time to complete: 3.5 hours
First worn: to work on Monday 6 May
Wear again? yep
Total cost: About $0.30 for the hem binding
Bump: 21 weeks


Check it out – I’m wearing a tent! Eek!!

(Much better with a belt, no?)

I love the fact that this pattern used to belong to my mother. It was published in 1978, so I figure she must have gotten it a bit too late to wear while pregnant with me, but I think she wore dresses from this while she was pregnant with all my siblings. The continuity of that makes me happy – different generations wearing dresses from the same pattern, while pregnant with the following generation. (*soppy moment* *cough, sorry ’bout that, the soppiness came out of nowhere*) Here’s my mum, pregnant with my middle brother, wearing a dress from a similar pattern. (I’m the little girl in the middle of the photo, aged around 4. My grandmother is holding the oldest of my three brothers.)

So, the pattern. This one came together nice and quickly – not surprising, since it consists of a front yoke, back yoke, and skirt panels. No fastenings, nothing tricky, just a few gathers in front and back. 3.5 hours in total, which included hand stitching the shoulder seams of the yoke facing and hand stitching the yoke facing down on the inside. I’m slow at hand stitching – this dress would have taken around 45 minutes less time otherwise. I made up version 3, the overtop without sleeves, only in version 2’s length (since as of yet I haven’t made any maternity trousers or slim skirts. There are plans afoot for both of those in the near future though….). I hemmed it using blue hemming tape, for a pop of colour on the inside. (One day, I will run out of this hemming tape. Then I will be sad.)

The pattern is very easy to put together. I made a couple of adjustments as I went along – aside from adjusting it to my size (taking it down two sizes) I also took it in a bit at the base of the yoke as it was flaring out at the back a bit more than I liked. And I chopped 8cm off the bottom of the dress, after my flatmate asked if I was going to shorten it. (Originally, I wasn’t going to, but she put the idea in my head. I got lazy and couldn’t be bothered pinning it up to see if I wanted to take any length out, and just grabbed the trusty rotary cutter. Sewing people – don’t copy what I do, it can go horribly wrong at times.)

Sure, it’s a bit of a tent. But hey, it’s a maternity dress. They’re kinda meant to be tents, right?!? And tents are most certainly comfortable to wear! I can see this one getting a fair amount of use over the next few months – add some heels (I’m seeing how long I can get away with wearing high heels at work for – too stubborn to give them up just yet) and a cardigan, and it’ll be good to go.

So there we have it folks – the next installment in my creations for the Sew, Baby challenge. This one fits into the ‘vintage’ and ‘dresses’ categories. Like all of the maternity-specific things I’ve made so far. (Note to self: branch out and make some separates soon!) Stay tuned for next week’s Sew, Baby creation – will it be another vintage dress? Or something completely different? Heck, even I’m not sure yet! 😉

(PS please to be excusing the photos. I didn’t quite get this finished before it got dark on Sunday, and it’s dark by the time we get home from work these days, so it was either photos-inside-at-night or wait until next weekend. I am an impatient sort, so photos-inside-at-night it was.)