Category Archives: Handmade Gifts

Cupcake toddler dress (just like mum used to make)

Ready to see a little bit of cuteness?

Check it out. It’s a dress for a one year old. Made in a lemon yellow poplin. With pink pockets and cupcakes!!!

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(And just for the record – I originally bought this fabric for me. And still intend to make a me-sized dress out of it. Because – yellow! Cupcakes!!)

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyways, this little cupcake-covered cutie was a gift for my friend’s daughters first birthday.

I made it using Simplicity 7591 – a top, jumper and overalls pattern from 1976.

Simplicity 7591

(Pattern image from the Vintage Patterns Wiki – my copy is in size 1 instead.)

Fun fact – my mother originally bought this pattern. And used it. A lot. She made me things, my brothers things, and my sister things. (Or maybe lil’ sis’ just got the hand-me-downs since she would have had newer patterns to use for her? Not sure….) So it’s a very well-loved pattern – apparantly it was one of mum’s go-to patterns for us kids.

I like knowing that I’ve used a pattern that I grew up wearing. It gives a nice feeling of continuation, don’t you think?

It also ties in well with my Vintage Pattern Pledge (which is basically to just use a bunch of vintage patterns from my stash this year. Sad that it’s taken me this long to use the first one! Although there’s a blog post about a second vintage pattern make coming up soon, yes indeed….)

I made the jumper view – a cute little A-line style with a zip in the centre front, patch pockets, and straps that button at the front. It’s a little hard to tell in the photo, but the buttons are burgundy red.

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The inside is finished with facings. And in this case, also a little label, just because.

Cupcake Cutie dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Wish I’d thought of making a cupcake to photograph with it. Mmmm… 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….

Strawberry Tiramisu

Everyone, I’d like you to meet my amazing, lovely, talented and gorgeous friend-who’s-like-a-sister: Agi.

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Agi and her family are the reason we head over to Hungary every few years. I stayed with her family as an AFS exchange student, back when I was 18. Such an amazing year – I met lots of lovely people, made great friends, experienced another culture, and saw a totally different part of the world. Agi and her family are fantastic, and even though I only get to see them every few years, they’re such an important part of my life. Agi and I are the same age, so I kind of think of her as another sister.

So our recent big trip was all about going over to see them and introduce our little guy to them. (All the other places we went were just opportunity visits, since we were around those places anyway. 😉 )

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Since I’ve been enjoying wearing my Raspberry Tiramisu dress a lot, I thought I’d make one for Agi as well. She lives on a farm and has a young daughter, so I figure easy-wash/easy-wear things are a good choice. (I know they are for me these days, with our young lad!)

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

After going on a huge hunt through my stash, I pulled out this gorgeous dark pink mid-weight tshirting, which I thought would look lovely with Agi’s skin tone.

Just like the last two, this Tiramisu was nice and easy to whip up. I did the entire lot using my overlocker – four-thread stretch stitch for the seams, cover stitch for stitching the neck and sleeve bindings flat. And I left it unhemmed, because for some reason I prefer the look of that on tshirting Tiramisus, and this fabric won’t fray.

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Unfortunately though, even though I made it to Agi’s measurements, it’s ended up a bit too big. Boo! 😦 (Has anyone else noticed that with the Tiramisu pattern? I found the same when I made one for myself and ended up having to take it in by a full size….) Luckily, it’s an easy pattern to take in, and Agi has a sewing machine….

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

Aren’t the dog and cat cute? Agi and her husband live on a small farm, and they have all sorts of lovely and friendly pets. 🙂

And just because these photos were taken in Hungary, here’s a few more photos from our visit to Hungary…. (Coz, you know, I can.)

Agi and her husband took us on a day trip to Eger. We spent a few hours wandering around the town, visiting one of the biggest churches, the Turkish minaret, and Eger castle.


Walking through the streets of Eger

Church in Eger

Church in Eger

Painted church ceiling, Eger

Painted church ceiling, Eger

Eger from the minaret

Looking down on Eger from the top of the minaret

The following day, we went to Csongrad to visit Agi’s parents (who are also super lovely, and who were kind enough to have me live with them for a year). Imre (Agi’s father) took us for a ride on his river boat, along the Tisza river. So incredibly pretty, with all the trees changing colour.

Summer bridge over the Tisza river

Summer bridge over the Tisza river. It’s a floating bridge, and is only out for summer and early autumn, when there is low risk of floods.

Imre and I on his boat

Imre and I on his boat

Chocolate Tiramisu

Way back at the start of the year, I decided I was going to make something for someone every month.

And it’s taken until August for that to happen.

Yeah. Life gets a bit like that sometimes. Best laid plans, and all that.

Anyway, check it out – I made a dress for my mum!

Tiramisu dress

A Chocolate Tiramisu dress, in fact.

Tiramisu dress

Nice and fast and fun to make up – it fit her straight out of the pattern envelope, and no stripes to match either (unlike my Raspberry Tiramisu), so it was super quick.

Made out of a pretty textured chocolate coloured lace that she chose from my (crazy-large) stash.

Tiramisu dress

I really like how it looks on her. 🙂

And there isn’t a lot more to say about this, really. The pattern is good, and after you get your head around how the measurements work, it’s easy to make up. So saying though, the gathers on the bust weren’t needed – heck knows how those actually work, as this version was with a D cup and even then there wasn’t enough fabric for gathers. Oh well, it fits fine without them anyway!

And it’s nice and swirly, too. For added fun.

Tiramisu dress

Like the massive wood pile in the background? We were down visiting my parents (and the rest of my family) last weekend and I (finally) finished off the dress down there on my mother’s sewing machine. My parent’s live kinda in the country, and have a woodburner in their lounge, and a bunch of huge big pine trees on their property, so there tends to be large rounds of wood stored for winter. Something about piles of firewood gives me warm fuzzies.

Tiramisu dress

I actually cut this out and stitched up most of it at the same time as when I made my Raspberry Tiramisu – I figured that since I was making one dress, I may as well make two! My mother was up visiting me at the time, so we both choose our fabric and I went crazy cutting and sewing. And this dress has been hanging in my wardrobe so the bias could settle (coz, you know, it takes a good month to do that. *cough cough*) ever since.

Tiramisu dress

Photos by my super awesome sister-in-law Krysha.

I’m quite liking that I made this for someone else. 🙂 Must do that again sometime….

Covert tea cozy

A while back, I spotted a new swap thingy happening via the sewing interwebs. The Covert Robin swap. It sounded like fun, so I went and signed up. 🙂

After a fair bit of cyber-stalking my swap buddies blog, I finished off my gift and sent it off to them this week.

Wanna see what I made?


Yep, it’s orange and yellow and white. Can you guess what it is?


A tea pot cozy!

I used this tutorial over here. Lots of fun to make up, I’m thinking I may have to make myself one. (Except I have a couple of fabulous knitted ones my mother-in-law made for me, so I don’t really need another. Maybe I need to make a few more as gifts….)

Since my swap buddy likes vintage linens and doilies, I figured she’s probably be a tea drinker. (I don’t know about you, but vintage linen and tea kinda of go together in my brain.) I carried through the vintage inspiration by using a vintage cotton for the outside, and some vintage braid for the loop on the top. (The inside is a craft cotton leftover from a dress I made a couple of years back.) There’s batting sandwiched between the two layers, and bias binding finishing it off around the bottom.


I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. It fits snugly over a teapot, and the colours make me happy. Hopefully the girl I made it for will like it…..!


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 trio of Christmas aprons

Last year, I picked up some Christmas range craft cottons in the Spotlight post-Christmas sale, with the plan to make aprons for some of the women in my family for Christmas this year.

Guess what? I actually managed to remember to do this! Yay!! And there are the lovely ladies, modelling their Christmas aprons. (With somewhat flushed cheeks, coz Christmas day was hot this year!)


Admittedly, it was helped by my sister-in-law (who was my person to buy a gift for this year – we each buy for one person each year so the Christmas gift-giving doesn’t get too insane and overwhelming) saying she wanted an apron for Christmas.

Turns out I quite enjoy making aprons. I made one for all the girls in my immediate family this year, and if I didn’t have about four aprons now myself I would have made myself one as well. (I am still rather tempted to make myself one, just because I can.)

The candy-striped apron and the white-with-red-dots apron were made by tracing around an apron I own – it’s a good, basic bib-front apron design, with long ties that can either be worn at the back or wrapped around again and tied in the front. I added two pockets to the candy-striped one, with the stripes going in the opposite direction to the apron body just for fun. And to the spotted one I added one big pocket, and stitched down the centre of it to make it a double pocket. They’re both super-functional, good for wearing in the kitchen for big cooking and baking missions.


The one in the middle was made using Simplicity 3384, a vintage pattern from 1950. I’ve had this pattern in my stash for a while, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to break it out and give it a go! My sister Jenna was a good candidate for this style. This was definitely a more complicated pattern – the front is dart-fitted, the skirt is gathered and has scallops around the base, there’s an oval-shaped pocket (always fun to press the hem on those. Not.) and the shoulder straps and waist ties are gathered where they attach to the apron. Quite a lot going on! I made this one in a red-and-white polka dot cotton that I got at Fabric-a-brac a while back, on their Hospice fundraiser table. The white-with-red-spots contrast fabric is the same I used for the spotted apron. This pattern made for a fun and quirky apron – the sort I can imagine people wearing with high heels and pearls while dusting with a feather duster.

Simplicity 3384


Bugs and critters

(Not that that title will mean much to you, unless you’re from NZ and remember Supergroove. But anyway.)

A while back (I can’t remember where) I read about the Random Acts of Craftiness – the idea being, you make a little soft toy and leave it somewhere for someone to find and adopt. I love this idea! It’s so adorable. 🙂 (And, may I just say, a brilliant way to use up scrap fabric?!)

I’ve been meaning to do some Random Acts of Craftiness, but I’ve also been wondering – how do I get those toys to the people who’ll need them the most? The more in need parts of the community? And then it struck me – I’ll give them to our Plunket nurse to give out! (For those non-Kiwis out there, Plunket is a free service focusing on the health and development of children. They visit families with young children, checking on their health, answering questions, and helping parents. And they reach all over New Zealand, all communities, all socio-economic groups, all cultures. It’s a pretty awesome organisation, really.) The area we live in is a bit of a cultural melting-pot. Everything from high to low socio-economic situations, often on the same block. We’ve got doctors, lawyers, refugees, migrants, people of pretty much every race, colour, age and situation. And there are quite a lot of high-need families as well, which our Plunket nurse visits.

So I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning making soft toys for babies. 🙂 They got given to our Plunket nurse this afternoon, and she’s going to give them to some families who otherwise don’t have much. Hopefully they’ll be loved in their new homes!

The patterns for these all came from the book Softies. Which is a lovely collection of patterns for sewn, knitted and crochet soft toys, from the simple to the more complex. I’ve made several things from here before, and I always love how they turn out.

First, I made these two Beetle Bugs:


It was my first time using the bugs pattern, and I adore them! (I think I may have to make a whole bunch more. Wouldn’t they be great with different textured fabrics for the legs for little babies to play with?) (Also, they’re cuter in real life, when they’re all soft and squishy and cuddly.)

And then I made these two cats:


I love how they all turned out. Hopefully their new homes will love them as well.

I really enjoyed making these for other people. I’m planning on making more to be given out as well.