Category Archives: Stash Busting

The “Autumn Skies” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Around 3 metres of “Provencal Blossom” quilting cotton from Spotlight, on sale for $5.60 per metre
Pattern: Style 1077
Year: 1976
Notions: Some scraps of interfacing for the collar
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: To work today
Wear again? Yep
Total cost: ~$16.80
Baby bump: 16 weeks

Over at the Sew Weekly last week, the theme was the Pantone Spring 2012 colour palette. Due to having a low-energy pregnancy week last week, I didn’t get my dress finished in time for the challenge, but it’s all done now, and likely to be on high rotation in my wardrobe for the next month until my bump is too big for it!

Ah, the Pantone Spring 2012 palette…. So many gorgeous colours…. I must admit, I had a hard time choosing which one to go for. As usual, the final decision came down to what was in my stash that happened to be right for the challenge. (One of these days I’ll come across a challenge I have no stash fabric for. Heck knows what will happen at that point – my mind shies away from the idea in horror.)

Every year, when I make the trek down South to visit family for Christmas, my mother and I wander into Spotlight a day or two after Christmas to check out their sale. And despite my best intentions, I tend to buy fabric then. Quite a lot of fabric, usually. (Why is it that the Dunedin Spotlight store has far better sale fabrics than the Wellington Spotlight store?!?) Last Christmas, I picked up this blue and yellow vintage floral print craft cotton. Sure, blue floral isn’t usually my thing, but a blue this vivid? Well, it was calling my name and kept jumping in front of the other fabric bolts I was kneeling on the floor surrounded by. (Lets just say it was a Very Good sale. They were marking down heaps of the craft cottons while we were there. Bliss.) With the blue and the yellow in the fabric, I figure it’s a good enough match for the Sodalite blue and the Solar Power yellow in the Pantone palette.

What with the whole pregnancy thing, the patterns I make have been changing quite a bit lately. (Turns out nipped-in-waists of 1950’s dresses don’t work so well with a baby bump. Who would have thought it?) This is the second mid-70’s, loose-fitting-with-belted-waist dresses I’ve made this year (the other being my Braveheart dress), and can I just say – they are awesome for this stage in pregnancy. Roomy enough for a bump, without swimming on you like a lot of maternity wear can at this point. Can be cinched in with a belt, so still have shape (even if that shape does tend to be cinched somewhat higher than your waist). And they’re not actually maternity wear, so can also be worn post-baby-arrival, meaning you haven’t spent hours and hours making something that you’ll only wear for around 3 months. Perfect, no?

Style 1077 was nice and easy to put together. A few tucks, a bit of a collar, and you’re done. Not even any fastenings to worry about. (Somehow I managed to not notice the lack of fastenings in this pattern until I’d nearly finished it. Which is just as well, as I probably wouldn’t have made it if I’d known, due to a history of getting stuck in garments with no zip or similar across the shoulders.) It pulls on over the head nicely, and cinches in quite well. I like the tuck details as well, and the rounded yoke at the back.

Why “Autumn Skies” for this dress? Well, we’re now well into Autumn here, and that tends to bring vivid blue skies. And everything’s changing colour and going yellow and brown, so I figured yellow flowers sort of imply that. In a way.

Oh, like my new cardigan? I’ve wanted a mustard coloured cardigan for ages and spotted this one on Friday. I think it’s destined to become one of my favourites. It felt rather odd buying it brand-new (not something I tend to do at all and it’s been a resolution not to buy new clothes for the last few years now) but I’ve never seen one second-hand and haven’t found suitable fabric in the right colour either, so I gave in to the powers of consumerism. *hangs head in shame* I love this cardi though, so the guilt isn’t too bad. 😉

Christmas Down Under shorts

The Theme
The Sew Weekly theme for this one? “Free For All”. Basically, make whatever you feel like making!

The Facts

  • Fabric: red cotton drill remnant left over from my Sweetheart Red dress
  • Pattern: Simplicity 6946
  • Year: 1975
  • Notions: 15cm dress zipper ~$2, snap fastener from my stash
  • Time to complete: I forgot to time it, but I’m guessing no more than 2 hours
  • Will I wear them? Yes, after a few alterations
  • Total cost: ~$2 (bargain!)

The Story
Ever since the Spanish Harlem Sew Weekly challenge, I’ve been toying with the idea of making a pair of red shorts. Pretty much ever since I spotted a gorgeous picture of Rita Moreno wearing red shorts while hunting for inspiration for that challenge, in fact.

Since it was rather cold back in the days of that challenge, I made a dress instead. But finally, with the “free for all” challenge and the onset of summer, the time of the red shorts had arrived!

I had under a metre of red cotton drill left from a dress I made earlier this year, and Simplicity 6946 in my stash promising that it would make a pair of shorts with less than a metre of fabric. With a combination like that, clearly these shorts were meant to be.

I decided on version 1 of the shorts – “hip huggers” (which in the mid-1970’s meant just below your belly button. Somewhat different to the barely-staying-up-they’re-cut-so-low hip-huggers these days). In fact, even being “hip huggers” I still used a 15cm zip. Which is about twice as long as that used in low-rise shorts you find in shops over here. Them waistlines, they just keep on droppin’.

The Pattern
This pattern was super easy to make up. Easy to cut, easy instructions to follow, fast to make. Gotta love it!

I did do a few alterations though. After my experience with the Spring Rain trousers I knew that the crotch depth would be too short on me, so I added about 5/8th of an inch at front and back to make it longer. Which worked perfectly – they sit pretty much exactly where I want them to. Yay!

I also had to do a sway back adjustment – I got lazy and didn’t try them on until the waistband had been sewn on (note: don’t do this, it’s asking for trouble), and then discovered they gaped hugely in the centre back. So my mother’s trusty quick-unpick got to work and I took them in by 1cm in the centre back (well, I moved the seam by 1cm, so taken in by 2cm in total), angling the adjustment down to meet the original seam about 1/3rd of the way down the shorts.

The Verdict
I’m not a shorts wearer. Not normally, and I haven’t been in years. I live in skirts and dresses during the summer months. (And the winter months. All year ’round, really.) But lets face it – at times, shorts are rather practical to have in your wardrobe. (Camping, hiking, gardening, pretty much anything that involves crouching down in the outdoors or going places where hems of skirts and dresses can get covered in mud or caught on bushes.) And you know what? With their nod to the 1970’s, I think I actually quite like these shorts! (Yes, this does come as quite a surprise to me. Making these was an experiment, really.)

Sadly they don’t fit quite right though. I made them with a waist 2″ smaller than what my measurements are at the moment, and yet they’re still too big around the waist. I don’t know quite what happened there, anyone got any ideas? Anyway, I’m going to take the waistband off, take them in by about 2″ all around, then recut and attach a new waistband (which I just, barely, have enough red drill left to do – yay!). I’m also going to slope them in a bit – the legs are quite wide, and I think could do with being taken in just a couple of centimetres. What do you reckon? (I’m still a bit undecided about that one.)

I do like where the waist sits on these – not too high, but not low like current designs are where I keep worrying I’ll show off my knickers if I sit down (not a good look really, no?). And they have pockets – pockets are awesome. Always.

I’m thinking I may even make another pair. Perhaps in a cute orange or brown corduroy, for a real 1970’s style?

The Name
Easy naming this time – they’re bright red and it’s Christmas time. They’re shorts, and Christmas “down under” (i.e. in Australia and New Zealand) is summer. Christmas on the beach, anyone?

The Photos
Steve and I took these photos when we were down visiting my parents in Evansdale over Christmas. (We just got back today. In fact, we took these photos this morning, on a final walk over there little farm down there.) My parents live just north of Dunedin, in a semi-rural area, on a little 14 acre (or thereabouts) farm. It’s where I grew up – with lots of space to run around in, and views of the ocean and the hills. I love going back there – it’s nice to be out of the city and back closer to nature for a while.

These are taken on one of the central paddocks on their farm, with lovely views out towards Blueskin Bay and Waitati (a nearby village where I went to primary school).

Steve’s been playing with the ‘toy camera’ setting on one of his cameras. I like how the photos come out with it – a bit retro, a bit fun. You may see more with this setting in the future…..

The “Ladies A Plate” dress

The Theme
This week’s Sew Weekly theme: The Colour Purple.

What can I say? I was pretty happy with this theme. I do like me some purple. All shades of it – deep dark purple through to pretty pale lilac and lavender.

The Facts

  • Fabric: 2 metres of purple cotton drill with polka dots and cakes all over it, gift from my lovely mother (for which I’m Sew Grateful!), and some scraps of white cotton drill
  • Pattern: Druleigh 932 for the bodice, a modified version of Butterick 9336 for the skirt
  • Year: 1950’s for the bodice, 1960 for the skirt
  • Notions: 55cm invisible zipper ~$6
  • Time to complete: 3 hours
  • Will I wear it? Yes, much to the delight of Steve (sarcasm)
  • Total cost: ~$6

The Story
My mother presented me with this cute fabric a while back. It’s light purple, with white polka dots and pictures of cakes all over it! How cute is that?!? The purple challenge seemed like a very good excuse to finally turn it into the dress it’s been waiting to be.

Only problem was, I only had 2 metres. I went hunting through my stash, and dug out this vintage Druleigh pattern. How cute is that cuff around the top? <

I figured I could use the cuff to break up the purple cake-ness of the fabric, and add a sash belt to provide a bit more contrast.

Sadly though, when I went to use the pattern, I found that 5 of the 15 pieces were missing. *sob!* Don’t you hate it when that happens? 😦 Both skirt pieces were missing, so I had to compromise. (Admittedly, I would have had to do this anyway, since I didn’t have enough fabric for the full gathered skirt.) I pulled out one of my tested patterns, and modified the skirt of it to fit onto the fabric by overlapping the edges of the gored sections (so I only had a front section and two back sections, instead of seven gored sections) and then narrowing the skirt’s flare by rotating one of the overlapping sections inwards towards the other one. (If that makes any sense at all?) I barely managed to get it out of the fabric, but manage it I did!

As to why I called it the ‘Ladies a Plate’ dress? Over here, it used to be a common thing that when you got an invite to a party, it said ‘Ladies a Plate’, meaning that you should take a plate of food with you. Since this dress has cakes all over it, I’ll be wearing it to any ladies afternoon teas and taking a plate of cupcakes to match it. 🙂

The Pattern
I did my usual small bust adjustment on the bodice, and this time got rid of the side dart (leaving just the dart that goes up from the waist). Nice ‘n easy. I also adjusted it to get rid of the buttons and replace them with an invisible zip instead.

Surprisingly, the bodice of this is very loose up the top. I’m pretty certain I adjusted everything correctly (in fact, I KNOW I did), yet I still had to take it in by 2.5cm on each side seam. Yes, that’s a total of 10cm around the upper bust. Two full sizes, in fact! Not quite sure what happened there…..

The pattern itself was reasonably easy to put together. Very very minimal on the instructions, and I couldn’t quite figure out how they were doing the cuff and facing, so I just invented my own way of doing it instead. Next time, I think I’ll persevere with their instructions, as I suspect it’ll end up a bit neater at the top. There’s a lot of ease given on the shoulder straps length – I’ve probably got around 10cm on each strap hidden inside the bodice, so no need to worry about running out of length.

The Verdict
I like it.

Steve doesn’t.

When I wandered into the lounge holding a partially-made dress, he looked at it like it was a dead rat and asked “What is that purple thing?” “It’s my new dress!” “It’s hideous.” Clearly, not love at first sight.

Or at second sight, for that matter. When presented with the finished dress, I had the following comments directed at it:
“You look like some sort of Japanese maid.”
“It’s like a full body apron.”
“You’re a cartoon character.”

Is it wrong that I have no problems wearing a dress that apparently makes me look like a Japanese cartoon character maid? I’m tempted to wear stripy tights with it, just to add to the cartoon nature of the thing…..

Cup of tea, anyone?

“Summer Dreaming” top

The Theme
Home Sweet Home – making something from something usually found around the home, such as sheets, curtains, etc.

In my case, I went with part of a duvet cover I got in a clothes swap party a while back. I made an apron for a friend out of the rest of it several months ago, and had enough left for this top. 🙂

The Facts

  • Fabric: cotton duvet cover from a clothes swap party – free!
  • Pattern: Butterick 9808
  • Year: unknown, ca. early 1960’s
  • Notions: 40cm invisible zipper, $6
  • Time to complete: 2 hours
  • Will I wear it? yes
  • Total cost: $6. Which was entirely on the invisible zip.

The Pattern
I made a couple of small adjustments to this pattern. I did my usual small bust adjustment, which in this case meant I removed the upper one of the two side bust darts. I replaced the lapped zip with an invisible zip (I do love me some invisible zips). And I decided I didn’t want boning anywhere near a light summer singlet top, so didn’t bother putting it in. Since I wasn’t using boning, I didn’t line the top either, and instead adding facing around the top, which I made by using the top of the bodice pattern pieces as a base and then simply cutting 7cm from the top of the bodice piece. (If that makes sense?)

The pattern was nice and easy to put together. For once, turning the straps around the right way didn’t involve lots of swearing and cursing. Probably because the fabric is so soft it behaved admirably. (Except for down the side with the invisible zip, where the stripes just flat-out refused to line up properly. Since the fabric is a reasonably loose weave and quite well-worn, I didn’t want to risk making holes in it by unpicking the zip and trying again, so I’m just going with the not-quite-lined-up stripes.)

This top fits really well – it’s wonderfully shaped around the waist and hips, so it sits nice and flat under skirts. Just what I needed in my wardrobe for summer, in fact! I suspect I’ll make it again in another fabric…..

The one adjustment I’d make if I do make it again is a small alteration at the top of the bodice – taking it in about 1.5cm in either side seam, as it’s just slightly too loose there.

The Photos
Summer keeps teasing us at the moment. One day it’s a beautiful warm 28 degrees (celcius). Then the next we’re having to wrap up in coats and turn heaters on instead. Since I’m dreaming of it being summer properly, and this top is made from a duvet cover, it’s the ‘Summer Dreaming’ top.

And since it’s cold and wet tonight, standing by a window and dreaming of summer seemed somewhat appropriate…….

Yes, I’m really late with this challenge. 4 days late, in fact! Wanna know why? It all comes down to my having run out of 40cm invisible zips in pale colours. And today was the first day I could get to the fabric store. That’s right, for the want of a zipper the timeframe was shot. (To be said to the tune of ‘for the want of a nail a horseshoe was lost’. I’m just going to assume you all know that rhyme.)

The “Floral Forties” dress

The Theme
This week’s Sew Weekly theme is Do Over: “This week we revisit a pattern or theme from the past year that we want to have another go at. Whether a failure or a success the first time around, it’s time for a little sewing déjà vu.”

The Facts

  • Fabric: around 3 metres of blue floral something-or-other synthetic, ~$3 from Fabric-a-brac, and around 3 metres of yellow lining, ~$2, also from Fabric-a-brac
  • Pattern: A re-released version of Butterick B5281
  • Year: 1946
  • Notions: 55cm invisible zipper ($5), vintage hook and eye
  • Time to complete: it’ll be 6 hours once I’ve done the hand finishing
  • Will I wear it? Yes
  • Total cost: ~$10

The Story
I had so many ideas for this challenge! So many things I’ve made this year that I wanted to try again, either because I loved them so much, or because something hadn’t gone quite so well (poor fabric choice, forgetting the small bust adjustment, fitting issues, etc) and I wanted to try again.

Thanks to the lovely ladies who helped me decide what to make this time when I couldn’t decide on my own: Ange, Mon, Liz and Meg. You girls are awesome! 🙂

I picked up this fabric from the last Fabric-a-brac event a few weeks ago. I have no idea what it is (while I can usually identify natural fibres, synthetics are beyond me). It looks vintage, it’s lightweight and floaty and drapes well and has quite a lot of movement on the bias, and it’s a little bit sheer. Nope, I’ve got no idea at all. But I know I liked it and at $6 for 4-5 metres, how could I say no? It was rather interesting to sew, though – lots of movement on the bias so I had to anchor it with lots of pins. It made for slow going.

Since it was a bit sheer, I fully lined it in a soft yellow lining. It makes it look happy and warm and sunny inside.

I did my usual adjustment and moved the side zip to the back to turn it into an invisible centre back zip instead. Which also meant I don’t need the shoulder snaps, so I’m going to hand-sew the shoulder side down to the neckline.

Notice that it isn’t quite finished yet? I’ve got to go up to Auckland for work later this week, so thought I’d save all the hand sewing to do on the plane and at the airport. Hey, I’ve stitched up a blind hem on a bus before, may as well add to the sewing travel adventures and do the same thing on a plane.

The Verdict
I like the way this fabric drapes – it works a lot better with the drapes in this pattern than the cotton I used the first time I made it for the Leaves and Hats dress. The fabric pattern is a bit too busy to see all the drape and gather details, but it was the best choice from my fabric stash so too bad.

Sssssh, don’t tell anyone but I made a bit of a boo-boo with the lining on the skirt. Somehow I accidently did the front of the lining around the wrong way and didn’t notice until it was too late. It can just be our little secret though – I figure most people won’t be examining the inside of this dress.

It feels a little odd, having a semi-fitted bodice when I usually go for the rather fitted ones. Guess I’ll just have to wear it a few times and get used to it. Oh, what a hardship. 😉

Overall, I think this one’s a winner. It’ll be a good summer dress, and best of all, it goes with my foam-green shoes that hardly go with anything in my wardrobe. Yay!

The “Eek! A mouse!” top

The Theme
This week on the Sew Weekly, the theme was ‘All Pinned Up!’

“This week we draw inspiration from the pin-up, those glamorous (and idealized) illustrations and photographs of ladies who served as a morale builder in times of crisis (or boredom).”

The Facts

  • Fabric: 0.8 metre remnant from Fabric-a-Brac, around 50c
  • Pattern: Simplicity 2511
  • Year: 1958
  • Notions: 23cm invisible zip, ~$4
  • Time to complete: 2 hours
  • Will I wear it? Yes, after I add some extra length to it
  • Total cost: ~$4.50

The Story
When I think ‘Pin Up’, I think of the art of Elvgren. I’ve always been fond of his work – lots of cute girls in cute outfits, being “accidently caught out” in various embarrassing situations. So it seemed only right to dig up a calendar of his work I had from a couple of years ago, and flick through it, looking for inspiration.

I was tossing up between two of his images: Spotty Performance (from 1962) and Class Dismissed (from 1969). I decided to go with Spotty Performance, simply because I’ve been planning on making a red skirt for ages.

Problem number one – turns out I don’t have any red fabric suitable for a pencil skirt. Hmmm. Ok, change of plans – same outfit, blue colour scheme instead.

Problem number two – turns out I didn’t have quite enough of this light blue fabric for a shirt. Ok, change of plans (again) – I’ll make up a top instead of a shirt.

Problem number three – I then completely ran out of time to make the skirt to go with it. The bright blue skirt is now languishing in my UFO-and-mending-pile, waiting for it’s chance one Mending Pile Monday. I’m sure it’s time in the sun will come soon.

Since what I ended up making wasn’t bearing any resemblance to the original outfit at all, I decided to imitate both inspiration images in the photos, instead. 🙂

Here’s the originals, followed by my imitations…..

Class Dismissed, 1969

"Eek! A mouse!"

Spotty Performance, 1962

"Oh no! Imaginary ink!"

I played around with Picnik to adjust the photos and make them a bit more ‘vintage-y’, by using tips in this wonderful tutorial from See Cate Create. Lots of fun! I see a whole new world of image manipulation opening up in front of me….. mmmmm…….

The “Orange Sherbert” top

The Theme
This week’s Sew Weekly theme? The colour orange!

In the words of Mena: “Last week we led up to Halloween with costumes and Halloween-inspired creations. This week, we’re wearing everybody’s favorite Autumnal hue, the color orange.”

(Or, in the case of us Southern Hemisphere girls, everyone’s favourite summary hue – orange!

The Facts

  • Fabric: around 1 metre of crinkly chiffon-looking synthetic something-or-other, $4 and (as per usual) been in my stash for at least 4 years
  • Pattern: self-drafted
  • Year: 2011
  • Notions: none, coz this fabric stretches a bit in each direction
  • Time to make: about 40 mins. If that. May have been more like half an hour, even
  • Will I wear it? Yep, I sure will!
  • Total cost: ~$4

The Story
Guess what? I like the colour orange. Have done for many years now, even. Back when I was going through my ‘colour phase’ (yes, I used to be brighter than I am now) and was just getting into sewing, I made myself a pair of bright orange super-flared trousers. I wore those puppies for years, until they pretty much fell apart and had paint spashes all over them. (I didn’t wear them with black, either. When I say I went through a ‘colour phase’, I mean that – for a few years, there was nothing black, white, or even grey in my wardrobe. I paired bright yellow skirts with turquoise tops and red shoes. Lime green skirts with pink and purple. The aforementioned orange flares with, well, everything. And I topped it all off with dreadlocks – some dark brown (my actual hair colour, which hasn’t been seen for quite some time now), some bright red, some orange, some pink, some purple. Ah, university life. Good times.)

Anyway. Fast-forward to the present day. I’m still rather fond of colour (in case you can’t tell). I’m also still rather fond of orange (although I doubt I’ll ever again wear bright orange flares *shudder*). I even have lots of orange in my wardrobe. (And had orange hair a few weeks back, too.) But it turns out there is one thing I’m lacking – orange fabric. Which took me by surprise, yes indeed it did. Plenty of pink fabric everywhere, quite a lot of green to choose from, but orange? Not so much. Hmmmm. Maybe I’ve just used it all already…..

This crinkly looks-a-bit-like-chiffon-but-isn’t-at-all fabric was wanting to be made into a dress. But I couldn’t decide what sort of dress, so it became a top instead. (I may yet make it into a dress as well – I’ve got a good 5 metres or so left of it. Plenty to experiment with.)

I made it a decent length, so it could be worn with jeans, or tucked into a circle skirt (Hummingbird skirt, I’m looking at you!)

I felt like making the sleeves a bit different, so cut them on an angle at the bottom. And just for the heck of it, I made it with only two pieces, and didn’t even hem any of the edges coz you know what? I didn’t need to with this fabric, and with all the amount of hand sewing I’ve been doing lately, it amused me to take the super-easy route with this top. So all it needed was four seams done with the overlocker, and finished off by flipping the top over at each end of the seam and backtracking, for a nice neat finish that won’t unravel.

So, there we have it! One orange floral top.

The name and photos
Nothing exciting for the photos this time round – Wellington is in the grip of the equinox gales, so venturing outside wasn’t looking too appealing. (This time of year is always a good test to see how well your roof is fastened to your house. So far, so good. Not so good for a friend’s rotary washing line, which got blown over and halfway down their lawn today. Did I mention this winds are strong this time of year? So rather than another photo shoot with my outfit wrinkling and my hair defying gravity, it’s an indoor shot this week. (Notice how tiny the door is behind me? Both of the upstairs bedrooms have doors that small, complete with little angled corner to fit under the eaves. I reckon they’re cute, if a bit tricky to get furniture through at times.)

Why the ‘orange sherbert’ top? Well, it’s orange. And I’ve always been amused by that scene in Austin Powers were the security guy goes and gets him some ‘orange sher-bert’ (said in a slow-drawn-out manner, hence the spelling above).

Mmmm….. orange sher-bert……..

The “Dark and Stormy Night” outfit

Guess what? I was on the main page of The Sew Weekly last week! How crazy exciting was that?!?! Check it out: here’s my post.

Right, sewing-geekery moment over. (Yeah, right.)


Anyway, here’s the latest in my Sew Weekly challenge outfits. Please ‘scuse the fact that the pics are pretty much the same as the ones on the Sew Weekly post – the rest are still buried somewhere on Steve’s computer.

The Theme
Late October, what else could the theme be, other than…. Halloween!

The Facts
The jacket:

  • Fabric: around 2 metres of black suiting, gift from a friend, and some bits of iron-on interfacing
  • Pattern: Vogue V1136 (a re-released vintage Vogue pattern)
  • Year: 1945
  • Notions: 6 black buttons from my great-aunts stash, vintage hook and eye
  • Time to complete: 9 hours
  • Will I wear it? Yes! After I’ve fixed up a couple of little things
  • Total cost: Probably around 20 cents. Bargain!

The skirt:

  • Fabric: Around 1 metre of heavy black cotton drill (no idea where it came from, so I’m going with ‘free’) and about half a metre of black-with-gothic-crosses cotton drill from Spotlight ($10 a metre I think). And around 1 metre of lining, ~$4
  • Pattern: Home Journal 5035
  • Year: 1957
  • Notions: 23cm invisible zip (navy as I’ve run out of black ones somehow), around $4
  • Time to complete: 2 hours
  • Will I wear it? Heck yes!
  • Total cost: ~$13

The Story

To me, Halloween is all about witches and vampires, demons and ghosts, and scary night.  (It’s also all about Samhain, but New Zealand is in the wrong hemisphere for it to match up properly.)

Being all about things that go bump in the night, it seemed appropriate to make something in black.  Something a bit gothic-y.  A bit vampire-esque.  And perhaps a little bit dramatic.

I went looking for inspiration, and pinned a few things onto my Halloween Pinterest board.

Turns out the images that were appealing to me the most were of Gothic styled girls in fitted jackets with nipped-in waists and high collars.  And full skirts, but since I’ve made not one, but two circle skirts lately, it seemed a bit much to make another one of those.  (Not having enough black fabric helped in that decision somewhat.)

Vogue 1136 from 1945 stepped up to the mark.  Fitted waist?  Check.  Interesting neckline?  Check.  A bit dramatic?  Check.  Clearly, we’re on to a winner.

If only I’d known how loooooong it would take to make it up.  Gah.  It’s quite a structured jacket – lots of darts and gathers and decorative-and-structural tucks.  Bound button holes.  Peplum.  It’s got it all.  My hand sewing got a fair bit of practice, that’s for sure.

The skirt, on the other hand, was nice and fast to whip up.  Only four pattern pieces, knife pleats on either side of the centre back panel, all good.  I’m going to be making this pattern again, that’s for sure.

The Pattern(s)

The jacket pattern, despite taking 9 hours to make up, was actually quite simple to follow.  There were a few tricky bits (like the moment I attached the interfacing, put it on, and went ‘hang on, the button holes are now covered!  How does that work?!?), but it actually went together nice and smoothly.  It was all the little details that took the time and effort.  And they make the jacket, in my opinion.  I think I’ll even be brave enough to try this pattern again in the future.  I’ve got a lovely forest green cashmere wool blend that might be lovely in this pattern….

I only made a couple of small alterations to the pattern.  I did a small bust adjustment and took out half the width of the front bodice dart.  And I left out the shoulder pads.  Maybe I’ll make them at some stage.  I’ve never bothered with adding the shoulder pads to a vintage pattern before, so I’m not too sure how necessary they would be.  What do you think?  Shoulder pads or no?

If I made it again, I would make one other adjustment – the sleeves are a bit too narrow around the elbow, and restrict movement a bit.  So next time I’d widen them by about 1.5 cm (in total) at the cuff so they can move up and down my arm a bit better when I move around.

Oh, and I’d also get photos when it’s not so windy, so you can see the jacket properly and not have all those wind-blown lines there.  Oops.

The skirt pattern needed no alterations.  It was the wrong size, but being a straight skirt pattern this was super-easy to adjust and I just added the width across the centre.  Yay for super-easy skirt patterns!  Gotta love them.

The Photos

Since it was Halloween themed, and I made a Gothic-styled outfit, Steve and I went out for a nighttime shoot.  (He couldn’t convince me to get photos in a graveyard at night, though.  *shudder*  I’m just too much of a wimp with an overactive imagination for that.  Ange, if you’re reading this – remember that sprint through the Boulton St cemetary on the way home from work one evening?  Eek!)  Anyway.

I felt like adding to the drama, so added some tights that kinda look a bit (if you squint and use your imagination) like spiderwebs.  And lots of dark eye makeup.  And I put some dangling curls in my hair.

And then the wind was really strong, so all the curls vanished straight away.  Instead of curls, I ended up with photos of my hair standing straight up, or straight out, or across my face, depending on which way the wind was going when the shutter went.  Wind is kinda funny like that.

We got most of the photos at the Island Bay park.  The colour one was at the driveway to the Berhampore sports ground, just for a change of scene.

Happy Halloween everyone!  🙂


Mix-and-match scrappy pants

The Theme
This week’s Sew Weekly theme was lounging around. “This week is all about sewing those unsung sewing creations that usually do not see the light of day: lounge wear, undergarments and sleepwear.”

The Facts

  • Fabric: various scraps of knit fabric, from my scrap stash (so, free!)
  • Pattern: self-drafted about 7 years ago
  • Year: modern
  • Notions: none!
  • Time to make: I forgot to time it, but maybe around 2.5 hours for the three pairs
  • Will I wear them? Definitely!
  • Total cost: free! Yay!

The Story
Lounging around. Sleepwear. It turns out, I have a LOT of sleepwear patterns. I’m not quite sure why, or how, since I never make them, but I’ve got sleepwear patterns from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. And a pattern for men’s pajamas from the 1950’s.

I nearly made a 1940’s full-length lace-trimmed nightgown, but I couldn’t quite decide what fabric to make it out of (and to be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d ever wear it – it was going to be an experiment to see how it felt to lounge around in a feminine vintage styled nightgown). Then I thought about making a pair of 1950’s men’s pajama pants in blue winceyette (otherwise known as ‘flannel’, I believe?) with a windsurfing print on it, that I raided from my mothers stash a few years back.

I fluffed around for so long, unsure of what to make, that the ‘official’ description of the theme was up on the Sew Weekly before I’d started. When I saw Mena refer to “undergarments” as well, I knew what I was going to do – make some more scrappy knickers!

Knickers have been on my making things to-do list for a while. It’s always nice to be able to cross off something that’s been hanging around on a to-do list for months.

Like many sewists, I tend to hoard scraps left over from sewing projects. A few years back, I started using scraps of knit fabrics to make my own undies – it means I get the most out of a length of fabric (appealing to both the thrifty and the eco-friendly side), I know they’ll be super comfy, and I think they’re kinda cute. Sure, they take a while and it would be a lot easier to just go and buy them, but I get a certain amount of satisfaction in making them. And all the ones I’ve made before are my fave pairs, so why not make more of them? (Also, for the last two years I’ve had a pledge not to buy anything ready-made unless I can’t make it myself. Pants fall into that category, so if I want any, I have to make ’em.)

I started off with a pile of knit scraps I dug up from my scrap boxes, and a couple of old tops that were going to get thrown out:

Due to the size of the scraps that were large enough (and suitable mixes of stretch), each of the three pairs of pants contains green fabric left over from my Hungry Cat-erpillar tshirt, blue tshirting left over from I-don’t-remember-what, and black-and-white striped tshirting from when we had a pirate day at work about 3-4 years ago and a group of us wore black-and-white striped triangle neckscarves. There’s also a bit of banding on one pair from one of the tops that got chopped up, and the waistband on two pairs ended up coming from a non-scrap length of tshirting as I didn’t have any scraps left that were long enough. So, a bit of a mixed fabric bag! I like them though, something about mixed-up fabrics appeals to me. 🙂 (One of the many many things I like about the fabulous Oona is her use of mixed up fabrics. She’s awesome – if you haven’t seen her blog yet, check it out.)

The Photos
Steve has been reading some photography books recently, so he got a bit art-y with the photos. Here’s a few arty-photos-of-knickers, just for the heck of it. (For some reason, I elected not to model this weeks creation. Gee, can’t imagine why.)

The “Sandra Dee” skirt

The Theme
This week’s Sew Weekly theme was Musicals – Broadway or film.

The Facts

  • Fabric: around 2 metres of bright pink denim, from my stash. No idea where I got it from or how much it cost me, so I’m going with ‘free’, and some scraps of fabric leftover from my Betsey Johnson shirt for the inside of the pocket
  • Pattern: McCalls 3411
  • Year: 1955
  • Notions: 18cm dress zipper ($4), two vintage hooks and eyes
  • Time to make: around 2.5 hours
  • Will I wear it? Absolutely – it just went to Taupo and back with me and is destined to get a lot more use!
  • Total cost: around $4
  • The Story

    What can I say? Grease is the Word for me when it came to my inspiration this week! Remember that gorgeous scene where the girls are dancing around the tables, their full skirts and petticoats flying? Love it. And those jackets the Pink Ladies wore. And the wiggle skirts that Rizzo stalked around in. Yum yum yum!

    Although I briefly toyed with the idea of a black wiggle dress (something that Rizzo would wear), or a Pink Lady bomber jacket, I’ve been wanting to make another circle skirt ever since I made my Hummingbird skirt – McCalls 3411 turned out to be so comfy and fun to wear, I needed to make it again! And then I dug this bright pink denim out from a forgotten corner of my fabric stash, and the rest was history. With various songs from Grease running through my head, I stitched this baby up!

    (Oh yeah, and it nicely fits in with my spring colour palette too.)

    The Verdict
    Just like last time I made it, McCalls 3411 was a dream to make up. And a perfect fit, with no alterations necessary. Gotta love that.

    Also like last time, I decided to make the pockets in a different fabric, both because the denim is a little bit too heavy and because I love having pockets lined in unexpected fabrics.

    I’m debating whether to paint anything around the base. Steve thinks I should (after all, the hummingbird worked out rather well last time), but I’m still wavering between decoration or leaving it plain. What do you all reckon? Flowers, birds, or leave it alone?

    The Photos
    Steve and I have just gotten back from Taupo – we took Friday off work and headed up there for a long weekend. Bliss! The Sandra Dee skirt and I became good friends on this trip – I wore her on the drive to Taupo, and all around Taupo on Saturday. We stood out bright and colourful against the rainy grey sky. Steve got some photos around the place, so here’s me and Sandra Dee out and about, with a few notes about where we were. (The two photos above were taken near the lodge we were staying in – I love the pink flowers against the pink skirt, don’t you?) I’ll do a Taupo weekend post a bit later, if you’re interested in seeing more.

    On the way to Taupo - sitting on the big corrugated iron gumboot at Taihape

    At the Craters of the Moon, a geothermal area just outside Taupo. Bubbling mud pools, fumaroles, craters and steam.

    Overlooking Huka Falls