Category Archives: The Monthly Stitch

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!)

statue

Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

windows

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).

foxinpark

stonesflowers

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

sidestreet

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.

firetower

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

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˜‰

So…..

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

Mustard Mustang Ranges

Back in June, I took part in the pattern swap organised as part of Indie Pattern Month on The Monthly Stitch. The idea was, we sent an indie pattern to someone, and got one sent to us by someone else – all a complete mystery who was sending to who! We knew which pattern labels the person we were sending to already owned, and were meant to purchase them a pattern from a brand they didn’t own, so we could be sure they wouldn’t already have the pattern we bought them. There were two swaps – one with physical paper patterns, and one with PDF patterns. And since I love patterns, I took part in both. πŸ˜‰

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

For the PDF pattern swap, I got sent the Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Neilsen. The Darling Ranges pattern is described as a “modern shirt dress” – it as a deep v neck, no collar, and two key variatons – a button-bodice, high waisted dress with a gathered skirt; or a dartless dress that buttons the whole way down the front.

Even though a dartless (aka shapeless!) dress really isn’t my usual style, I found that I couldn’t get the idea of matching that variation with the mustard coloured Mustangs print fabric from Cotton + Steel that I bought off Fabric.com (my first ever Fabric.com order – that site is very very dangerous!!). The simple lines of the dress seemed like a great way to show off the bold fabric print. So, I went ahead and gave it a go!

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pattern matching across the front button placket was surprisingly challenging. There were no centre front lines drawn on the pattern, so I had to figure out exactly where things would overlap, and line up from there. Made more difficult as the mustangs are staggered across the fabric, so it all had to be cut out in one layer at a time. I’m really happy with how it worked out though – it’s pretty much perfect! (Except for the inevitable slight pulling of things off-centre when it’s worn. Because, you know, bodies – they move and all that.)

Sadly, there was no way I could ever match the pattern down the side seam – the dartless variation of the Darling Ranges dress is somewhat unusual. It has no darts or shaping at all! The front is cut as an a-line style, and the back is straight. This means the volume to fit over bust and hips comes only from the front of the dress, and the side seams angle from the usual place under the arms to further around the back of the dress. I must admit to scratching my head a bit over that at first, but thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and just try it out. *shrug*

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The construction of the dress was pretty straightforward – after all, it’s a pretty simple style! There are inseam pockets at the side seams, the button placket is cut on and simply folded over twice to the inside for a neat finish, and the v neckline has a self-bias facing. I finished the sleeve and skirt hems with Hug Snug seam binding, using a standard straight stitch on the sleeves and a machine blind hem stitch on the skirt.

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

With the lack of shaping, I only made one alteration before I started, and lengthened the skirt by 15cm. (Yikes!) In hindsight, I should have altered the shoulder width as well – I was too busy figuring out the pattern matching challenge, and completely forgot to check the shoulder width, and now it’s too narrow on me. Argh! I keep debating whether to take the sleeves off and make it sleeveless, or whether to leave it as it is…. Hmmm…. What do you think I should do?? (So saying, that shoulders are really narrow on this pattern – narrow to the point where I wonder if they’re almost meant to be like that?!? But surely not… The website says her patterns are drafted for someone of a height of 5’9″, which isn’t that much shorter than me, so I wouldn’t expect to have to do more than a 1cm adjustment at most.. Hmmm. Very odd. *shrug*)

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit to finding the final dress a bit odd. If worn without a belt, it looks like a hideous sack on me (not surprising because, hips). And I’m really annoyed with myself about the pulling in the upper bodice due to the shoulders being too narrow. It’s not my usual style, and the pockets don’t sit very well (I think due to the oddly angled side seams?). And yet…. I wear it about once a week. It’s in constant rotation in my wardrobe, and has been ever since I finished it. It’s easy to put on, and I am totally in love with the fabric. So, style-wise it’s not a win, but wearable-wise, it totally is. Go figure. Either way, it’s going to continue getting worn, all year ’round!

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

A huge thanks to the lovely sewing person who sent me the pattern as part of a swap – it really was perfect for this fabric, and I have plans to try the other variation of the dress (only with a significant wide shoulder adjustment!) sometime soon. πŸ™‚

Shards of Hope dress

Sometimes it seems like all the stars align and a project suddenly happens that ticks several boxes at once.

My good sewing buddy Mel and I were thinking – it’s about time we did another twinsies creation, where we both make the same pattern at the same time. Plus, it’s the second birthday for The Monthly Stitch in August, with the theme being “two is the magic number” – a perfect time for twinsies!

And then we got to thinking, how else can we incorporate that theme….?

Discussions were had around fabric, and we realised we both had fabric from the What A Gem range by Camelot in our stashes. Mel has the “gems” design, and I’ve got the “arrows” one. Two designs from the same range – seemed perfect!

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So then we just had to come up with a pattern that worked for each, and for the amounts of fabric we had….

And that’s where this pattern comes in. It’s the Hawthorn dress by Colette Patterns. It was given to me as part of the pattern swap for Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch. I was pretty darn excited to get it in the mail, as it’s a pattern I’ve been debating about buying for quite some time! (Great choice, swap partner! πŸ™‚ There’s an Indie Pattern Month wrap-up day today over on The Monthly Stitch, and I really wanted to make up at least one of my two swap patterns in time for it! (The other one is currently on my cutting table. Soon it shall be made. Soon….!)

Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress

Plus, with the cute collar, there was the option of using two different fabrics on our dresses (again, using the “two is the magic number” theme). So yep, all boxes were ticked – twinsies in the pattern, twinsies in the fabric range, an indie pattern, and in my case also a pattern swap pattern. Win!

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

One other box, too – this is also my Minerva Crafts Bloggers Network make for the month. Yippie!

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Crazily enough, despite owning a couple of Colette patterns, this is the first one I’ve ever made (excluding their two free ones, neither of which worked well for me). I approached it with some trepediation – I’ve heard quite a bit about how hard this pattern is to fit, and Colette also drafts for a C cup while I’m an AA (yes, seriously).

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

With that in mind, I took the time to do a proper small bust adjustment (SBA) on the pattern, reducing it by a total of 2″ in the bust.

The only other change I made to the pattern was on the skirt. I originally got this fabric to make a 1950’s blouse out of, so only had 2 1/4 yards – officially no where near enough to make the Hawthorn! Add in the directionality of the print, and it was a bit of a cutting challenge. To make it fit, I cut the back skirt on the fold, and folded out 13cm at the hem of both front and back skirt pieces (making for a total of 52cm removed from the hem circumference in total!). And it fit! (Just!)

I had a lot of fun playing with the print direction for this one. I started with the bodice placement, deciding that vertical arrows would work best there, especially with the waist dart.

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The skirt was origianally going to be on angles, with the arrows forming v’s at each centre and side seam. But there just wasn’t enough fabric for that, so it got cut out with horizontal arrows that dipped into v’s at the side seams.

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The collar was a bit more fun, with arrows going around the neckline.

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the facings, so the bodice facing is scraps from my Dolly Turtles dress. (Which I forgot to get a photo of, whoops!)

Speaking of the facings, they’re finished with hug snug seam binding – I may have given into temptation and gotten some in a lovely bottle green shade. Love this stuff so much!!

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Hug snug was also used for the hem, which was then stitched up with a machine blind hem.

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The armholes are finished with green bias binding.

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Also, can I get a yay for these buttons? Aren’t they fabulous?!? I’m so happy to have found them on the Minerva site! They’re such a lovely shade, and match the coral coloured triangles in the fabric so nicely. Plus, the lines on half of them reflect the lines of the arrows. Yippie!

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Again though, as I originally got the supplies for this for a blouse, I didn’t have enough buttons for the whole dress. I spaced them out a bit further than the pattern called for, and used four snap fasteners for the lower section of the skirt instead. I may yet go and just stitch that part of the skirt down – depends on how well the snap fasteners hold up to a day of getting up and down from an office chair….)

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m actually pretty happy with the fit of this. It’s a bit looser in the bodice than I normally like, and I’m still debating a bit whether to take it in or not as it’s only fractionally too loose…. Hmmm…. (What do you think? Take it in, or leave it as it is?)

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

One thing I found surprising – the front waist seam is a bit too low on me, about 1.5cm too low, even with the small bust adjustment raising it up a bit. Since I’m so tall, I’m used to waist seams being a bit too high, so this was quite a surprise! Probably something to watch out for if you make the pattern up, and an adjustment I’ll make in the future.

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I did mix up the construction order a bit, sewing the skirt pieces to the bodice pieces, and the side seams got stitched up last. This is pretty standard for me – it makes it a lot easier to make adjustments with changing post-baby body shape. πŸ™‚

If you’re curious, here it is with out a belt. (Although I’ll probably always be wearing it with a belt, just coz that’s how I roll.)

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Shards of Hope dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and why the name? Well, it’s actually named after a book I’m reading at the moment. Some of the lead characters are part of a group called the Arrows – rather appropriate when using this fabric, no? So yeah, the dress adopted the name from the book. (It’s one of those books I expect I’ll read several more times in my life, so that’s always a good thing. Maybe I should name more garments after books. I do like books. And sewing. Hmmm….)

Thanks to the lovely Nicola, who played photographer on a freezing cold winters day! We went exploring, and found a muddy stream bed with a fallen log for photos. Here’s some scenery, just for fun….

leaves

log

tree_fork

yellow_flowers

moss

Hearts and a bird

Do you ever have those days when you suddenly want to make something that isn’t in your sewing queue at all? Sure, you may have a few things cut out, possibly even in the process of being made up, but then a completely different project jumps up and down, demanding to be made Right That Minute!!

This was one of those.

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Yes, that’s right. I cheated on my sewing queue. Whoops!

But I got a cute top out of it, that I’ve already worn several times. And it had kinda been in my mental things-I-want-to-sew queue for a while, so that counts, right?!

A while back, The Curious Kiwi showed me some fabric she’d just bought. A cute poly blend knit from The Fabric Warehouse. And I may have loved it so much I had to go and buy some that same day.

Because – hearts!!!

I’ve been planning on making myself a cropped sweater with it ever since I saw it. I’ve also been planning on making this pattern, the Bonnie top from Bluegingerdoll, since I saw it. (Yes, I fully realise I can do something very similar with my Jenna pattern, but I hadn’t tried a Bluegingerdoll pattern yet so curiousity got the better of me.)

Bluegingerdoll Bonnie top

Bluegingerdoll Bonnie top

With the weather getting colder, a sudden realisation that the knits contest at Bluegingerdoll was nearly finished, and a sudden desire to make something quick and easy, the planets aligned and this got made.

The Bonnie pattern came together super easily. It’s a simple and cute sweater with options for waist or hip length, three sleeves (flutter sleeves, or a sleeve with a gathered sleeve cap in either 3/4 or long), and three necklines (scooped, classic, or boatneck). I went for the waist length, long sleeved version with the scooped neck.

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I used a plain black merino for the neckband and hem band, and added small cuffs to the sleeves to tie it all together. (Plus, I just like the look of cuffed long sleeves on sweaters.) Since I have long monkey arms, I added an extra couple of inches to the total sleeve length through adding the cuffs (and using less seam allowance at the end of the sleeve as a result). I feel they’re still slightly too short though as they ride up a bit when I’m wearing the top, so I’ll likely take the cuffs off and make them about twice as wide sometime soon. (If I can find a time when I’m not wearing it, that is!)

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Just for the fun of it, I wanted to do something to highlight one of the hearts. I was throwing around a few ideas, such as stitching around the outside of one, when I remembered that this month’s theme over on The Monthly Stitch is “Put a Bird on it”. So, I did!

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I wanted to keep it subtle, so did a roughly stitched sketch of a bird on one of the hearts near the wrist of one sleeve. I was a bit unsure about it when I finished it, wondering if it looks too rough and too home-ec like, but after a quick Instagram poll to get an unbiased outsider opinion, I was convinced to keep it. And I quite like it now – it adds just a little bit extra, and most people don’t notice it. Kinda like a little in-plain-sight secret. πŸ˜‰

When it came time to sew on the label, I carefully matched the heart on the label to the one on the centre back of the top directly underneath it. Hearts all in a row!

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Overall, I’m really happy with this. It’s cute, fun to wear, and quick and easy to make.

Right, time to get back to my sewing queue! πŸ˜‰

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The Hummingbirds and Clover dress

Now here’s a pattern I’ve been meaning to make ever since it was released – the Clover dress by Papercut!

With its loose fit and pull-over style (you wear it cinched in with a belt) it seemed like a perfect dress to make for those months after pregnancy, while one’s body is still going back to it’s “usual” size. Plus, a centre front seam makes it ideal for wearing while nursing – simply add one invisible zip and you’re good to go!

When I joined the Minerva Crafts Bloggers Network (yay!) and got to choose my first three projects (double yay! and a super fun way to lose a few hours), it seemed like a good time to make up the Clover dress.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I found this gorgeous feathers print rayon, and once I’d decided between the red and the pink colourways, spent some time debating what to use for the contrast v-inset on the bodice. Since the base of the feathers rayon is black, and it’s quite a busy print, I thought I’d match it with a black lace with a larger scale design. And I found this one – a crochet look rayon lace. Perfect!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Speaking of the print of the rayon, check this out – teeny tiny Hummingbirds, hovering amoungst the feathers! So cute!! And also so hard to spot – can you see them? I didn’t spot them until a friend pointed them out, thanks Mel!)

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Crazy though it may sound, even though I’ve been sewing “properly” for over 17 years (I’m not counting those making-scrunchies-as-a-child or home-ec-classes-at-school years), I’ve never sewn with rayon. Most of my sewing is cotton or wool, or knits that ideally have a large portion of one or the other of those fibres. Time to branch out, don’t you think?!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed working with rayon. It’s lovely and soft to handle, doesn’t shift around too much (or this one didn’t, anyway – I’ve heard some rayons do?), and presses like a dream. I’m now a rayon convert!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The Clover pattern was nice and fun to sew, and the contrast inset gives lots of opportunity for fun ways to use scraps or pretty bits of fabric. The only thing I’d watch for is what you use for the contrast inset – it sits on the upper curve of my bust, so I’m going to have to be careful about what bra I wear with it as the top half an inch or so shows through the lace.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I did, of course, make a couple of changes to it though. (Because that’s how I roll, oh yeah.) First up, the length. I’m tall, the pattern is short. So I added 12cm to get it hitting just above my knees. Higher than my usual hem length, but I discovered that with the raglan sleeves and the higher scoop neckline it starts to look a bit frumpy when hitting below the knee (I originally added 20cm in length). So, above the knee it is for this pattern on me!

I also added pockets, because, well, pockets. They may look pretty low, but they’re the perfect height for me to still be able to get my hands into when carrying the Smallest Guy around in the front pack. For the pockets, I just drew a basic pocket shape around my hand (to make sure it was big enough!) and sewed them into the side seams. Easy!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And that aforementioned nursing-friendly pattern hack – the addition of an invisible zip in the centre front seam at the neckline. Along with a hook and eye to close the binding above it.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I applied some vintage iron-on hem binding to the seam first along where the zipper was going to go, to stabilise it on the drapy rayon, which worked really well.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(After wearing this dress around all day for yum cha and gelato with some of the Wellington Sewing Blogger girls, I can attest that both pockets and zip do their jobs nicely. Also, rayon is fun to wear! It feels flippy and floaty and feminine and fun. Yeah!)

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, this actually took me blinkin’ ages to make. I decided that this would be the perfect time to try out a new-to-me technique, and also get in some hand-sewing practice. (Much as I hate hand sewing, I’m determined to get better/faster at it this year!) After reading about it on Lilacs and Lace, curiousity got the better of me and I bought some Hug Snug seam binding. And oh my gosh this stuff is awesome! I think this is the start of a long-term love affair with this seam finish. Check it out – bound seams!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

If you haven’t used Hug Snug before, it’s great – made of rayon (I spot a theme with this garment…) it’s very lightweight so it doesn’t add bulk to your seams. It presses well, and is nice and smooth to wear. Plus, it comes in all sorts of fun colours. I may need to add some more to my collection so I can have pretty colourful insides on all my garments from now on….

The other great thing about it – it finished the edges of the lace insets really nicely. Since the lace has quite a large design, if I’d overlocked/serged it instead a lot of the thread would have had trouble catching onto anything in those gaps between the design. But the Hug Snug? A nice, neat finish.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The only seam I didn’t bind was the centre front seam. Since part of it goes over the front lace inset, I didn’t want the yellow of the Hug Snug showing through to the front, so I just did a basic overlocked/serged finish on that seam in black to make it less conspicuous.

I finished the hem of both sleeves and the skirt with the Hug Snug, then hand stitched them up. Luckily, it was Great British Sewing Bee day, so that kept me entertained for about half the length of the skirt. πŸ˜‰ I’m glad I took the time to do the hand sewing though, as it’s more-or-less invisible from the front and it makes me happy to look at it. πŸ™‚

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And of course, the finishing touch:

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Overall? Pattern – win. Using rayon for the first time – win. Pattern hacks – win. And bound seams – win. Yep, I think this one is gonna be getting a lot of wear!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes