Category Archives: Things I’ve made

PJs, PJs, PJs and…. more PJs

Yep, you read that right – four lots of PJs. Because that’s what’s in this post – four pairs of PJ pants. (Clearly, I’m on fire with blog headings today.)

One thing that I keep telling myself that I really should do, and then constantly ignore in favour of making More Pretty Dresses!!! is to sew for the kids. I always have great plans, heck I even have fabric and patterns!, but well, it doesn’t tend to happen lots. Whoops.

But not this time! Oh no! I have actually sewn things for one of the small people! (Cue a ray of light shining down and bathing my sewing table in a golden glow.)

(For those not interested in reading about kids clothing, feel free to skip over the rest of this post. Because this post? It’s all kids clothing. Sorry.)

When browsing Fabric.com late last year (always a dangerous thing to be doing) I spotted some flannel with Minions on it. Minions, I tell you! How awesome is that?!? And since the Little Dude loves Minions (or ‘minis’ as he calls them), I snaffled some up to make him a pair of pajama pants.

(Yes, just pajama pants. See previous statement about how I’d rather be sewing All The Pretty Dresses and weigh it up against button holes and buttons and collars on something a three year old will only be wearing to bed. Clearly, the dress will always win that fight.)

So, I made him a pair of Minions pajama pants for Christmas. :-)

Minions pajama pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And then I had some fabric left over, so I made him a pair of pajama shorts. (I didn’t have quite enough left for the waistband, so it got made using some scraps from a pair of pajama pants I made myself.)

Minions pajama shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And then it actually got hot here in Wellington. A very unusual occurrance! (As in – above 25 degrees C hot!) Our houses are not equipped to deal with heat. (Or cold, for that matter, but that’s a whole different story involving our forefathers thinking that since NZ is in the Pacific, it must be a tropical island and therefore insulation was not required in houses. Yeah, right.)

The Little Dude is one of those people who runs hot. Especially when he’s sleeping. And yet, aside from that one pair of Minions pajama shorts, he didn’t own any summertime pajamas. So, since I was on a pajama-making roll, I made him two more pairs.

A red pair with pirate flags.

Pirate shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And a blue pair with fish. (“Like Nemo!” apparantly.)

Fish shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Both in quilting cotton.)

All are in high rotation, and serving their purposely nicely. Yay, sewing!

Oh, and all four pairs were made using a pattern from the book “Making Baby’s Clothes” by Rob Merrett. Which is generally fulled of rather naff things involving pom-pom trim and be-ribboned ruffles, but if you can overlook that the base patterns are actually pretty solid. (Although the baby on the cover kinda freaks me out a bit….)

Shorts-book

The pattern is simple – front leg, back leg, and waistband. There’s a faux fly, and an elasticated waist. And that’s about it.

Anyway, sewing duty for small person achieved – back to the regular schedule of sewing pretty dresses! ;-)

Summer is for strawberry milkshakes

I love summer – warm weather (sometimes!), sunshine, flowers blooming, long days and relaxed evenings. It all makes me happy. :-)

Know what else makes me happy? Dresses! In particular, summer dresses. Yes indeed!

And so, it seems only appropriate that my first make on the blog this year is… a summer dress. (Surprise!)

This months theme over on The Monthly Stitch is ‘Cheers for New Years’ – choose your favourite beverage as inspiration for something to sew. While pondering which drink to use for inspiration, my eye was caught by this multi-pink-toned quilting cotton from Minerva. The colours and squiggly design immediately made me think – strawberry milkshake! (Which is, after all, a rather fantastic drink for summertime.)

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Inspiration and fabric decision made, the next choice was… which pattern to use? (Obviously, it would have to be a dress. Because, dresses.) With the directional print of the fabric, I thought it would be fun to make something that could use that as a feature – the Sylvie dress by Christine Haynes. It’s a fun summer dress, and features a wide band under the bust – perfect for mixing up a print direction for contrast.

Sylvie dress by Christine Haynes

Size-wise, I made a size 6 at the bust, grading out to a size 10 at the waist and hip. Officially, my high bust measurement put me at a size 8 in the bust, but going by the finished garment measurements I felt that would be too much ease for my personal preferences.

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(And here’s where I made a dumb mistake. Firstly, do not cut out fabric when tired and upset. Secondly, when grading between waist and bust and there is a wide underbust band involved, remember to grade the band as well as the upper bust piece! Yes, there was a lot of unpicking involved to take it and correct that one. Whoops!)

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

As with all patterns, I lowered the bust darts – in this case, by 2cm.

I didn’t have enough fabric to make the dirndl skirt variation of the dress, so instead I extended the skirt out by 8cm on either side at the hem, and angled the side seams to meet, to create a gentle A-line shape. (My walking style is not conducive to wearing straight skirts. Long legs, long strides, seams rip….!) I also added 1″ at the skirt hem because – tall.

Another change – pockets! I added simple in-seam pockets to each side seam. :-)

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern sewed up nicely – quick and easy, with a nice and neat finish where the wide band meets the upper bodice as it’s self faced on the inside. The neck and armholes are finished with bias binding (the pattern has a piece for cutting a self-bias facing, but I didn’t have quite enough fabric so used a purchased pale pink bias binding instead).

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I also used a white polyester hem binding on the skirt – normallly I use Hug Snug, but thought I’d branch out this time and try a different type. (It worked fine for the hem, but it’s quite stiff and a bit rough, so I wouldn’t recommend it for seams that sit next to your skin. I’ll be sticking with the lovely soft Hug Snug for those!)

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit though, I’m a bit on the fence about the final dress. I’m not 100% sure that it suits me?!? It’s mainly the colour I’m unsure of – is it too pale? (Normally I go for bolder colours, but when viewed from a little bit of a distance, the colours on this kind of blend together into something a lot closer to a pastel shade….)

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And another confession – I made another mistake when cutting out, that I didn’t realise right up until the end. (Yep, that lesson again – don’t cut out fabric when distracted!) I forgot to do my usual SBA. *hangs head in shame* And with this style of bodice, that’s even more obvious than usual! So there is far too much fabric in the bust of the front upper bodice. *sigh* I’m currently debating whether to recut the upper front bodice (I think I may have just enough fabric to do that?!) and fix it, or not. What do you think – is the colour and style working enough for me to bother unpicking and fixing? Or should I just give this one up as a lost cause and give it away instead? I have lost perspective on this one due to my annoyance at my own stoopid mistake when cutting out. Gah.

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But hey – it’s a summer dress! And there are roses in the background, and I have a big milkshake cup! Yay! :-)

Strawberry Milkshake 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. ;-)

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. :-)

Mulled Wine vintage slip

I’m a huge fan of dresses – nearly every day you’ll find me in a dress and a cardigan. And in winter, I’ll be matching that outfit with tights and boots. But as anyone who wears dresses or skirts with winter-weight tights knows, they tend to cling to one another. And if you’re anything like me, that means constantly tugging skirts back into place throughout the day. So frustrating!

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to make a slip for wearing under dresses. And that has now happened! Yay!! (This is my December creation for the Minerva Bloggers Network.)

I wasn’t sure what type of fabric would be best for this, so I emailed Vicki at Minerva and asked for her help. I described what I was wanting, and she pointed me immediately in the direction of this knit. So many pretty colours!! I spent a while debating between the light blue and the burgundy, before finally settling on the burgundy.

And then I went in search of matching lace trim. I found two – a white and burgundy one for the neckline, and a shiny burgundy one for the hem. Perfect!

The pattern I used is a vintage one from 1979, for a knit “princess line slip”. The pattern company is “Sew-Easy” – not one I’ve encountered before, so it was a fun experience using it for the first time! It’s interesting how the words we use to describe things change subtly over time. Check out this line of the instructions for example: “From the right side, ditch stitch in the furrow of the seam.”

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This slip came together super easily – despite how lightweight and slippery this knit is, it was surprisingly easy to work with! (Except for a few patches, where my sewing machine didn’t like how delicate it is. Whoops! It managed in the end though without too many issues, and I think a brand-new fine point needle will fix even those issues next time.My overlocker/serger loved it, though.)

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern is a simple princess lined slip – cut in a low v at the front, and a low scoop at the back neckline. The front neckline is edged in lace, and the fabric is then cut away behind it, so the lace is directly against your skin.

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The back neckline and armholes are edged in a very narrow self-fabric binding, which is stretched on to ensure the slip stays in place nicely when being worn. (This does means you get a little bit of fabric bunching around the shoulder straps when it’s not on a person, but it makes for a lovely fit when it’s filled out properly!)

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I finished off the hem with a gorgeous burgundy shiny and lightweight lace. It was a border lace, and plain on the top half, so rather than following the patterns directions to stitch directly on the fabric then trim the fabric away, I simply overlocked the two together, to give a solid border.

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The fit is pretty good. The neckline is a good height (low enough to not show easily under dresses, while still being high enough to be comfortable to wear). The fit along the front of is nice and smooth – not too tight, not too loose. The lower back area could do with being taken in a couple of inches to make it sit closer, so I’ll make that adjustment for the next one I make. (And yes, there will be another one!)

Sad to say, you’re not getting photos of me modelling this one – it’s just a bit too sheer and I know too many people in “real life” who read this! (Which is a fact that still amazes and embarrasses me!) So instead, photos on a mannequin. With wind, because I live in Wellington, and it is pretty much windy here every moment of every day.

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I love my new slip – it’s exactly what I was looking for to wear under dresses! I can see a few more of these in my future, in a range of pretty colours. ;-)

Strawberry season!

We’re slowly heading towards summer here. In a two-steps-forward, 1.75-steps-back kind of way, that Wellington does so well. Sun so bright it burns in 8 minutes one day, winter coats and scarfs on again the next. But there is light coming – the days are longer, the weather is (overall) getting warmer, and, best of all, there are strawberries in the supermarkets! Yay!! (I love strawberries. They make me happy. I may have eaten a lot of them already this month. ;-)

Which is all a rather long preamble to… this dress!

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Why the preamble? Well, strawberries! The common link. ;-)

The fabric here is Strawberry Thief, a William Morris print on a lovely cotton poplin. I got it from Minerva Crafts (as part of their blogger network) – sadly it’s sold out now. I’m hoping they’ll get more William Morris prints in the future – I’ve always loved his designs. So detailed and intricate and full of texture and life. (Maybe one day I’ll get a feature wall in one of his wallpaper designs. Mmmm…. Seems almost perfect for a sewing room, now I think about it. After all, he did a lot for the British textile industry! Right, putting that on my “things to do in the future” list. ;-)

Like other William Morris designs, this print is full of intricate detail. Flowers, swirls, points, and birds stealing strawberries. Love it!

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

When I spotted this fabric, I just knew it had to be the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress.

And then it arrived, and I must admit – I kinda freaked out a little. I didn’t realise just how large this print would be! The idea of pattern matching it across a shirt dress, yeah. Seemed kinda tricky. Especially with the tucks and the gathers thrown into the mix.

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So I thought about other patterns. I considered making the Sew Over It Betty dress. Or another Cressoway dress. But I thought the print might be almost a bit too overwhelming with a plain bodice. Then I thought about the Grainline Alder dress (another that’s been on my to-make list since last summer!). But that just didn’t seem quite right for this print either.

Eventually, I went full circle – it just really wanted to be the SOI Vintage Shirt Dress.

So I pulled on my big-girl pants, got brave, and set to work. And let me tell you – this took quite a lot of thought!! (It also took 1.5 hours to cut out. That’s how much thought was required.)

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I cut it all in a single layer, so I could best pattern match. There was a lot to consider – how to line things up so the design was running down the centre front and centre back of both bodice and skirt. Making sure there were no accidental pattern placements (giant flower boobs, anyone? Yeah, didn’t think so). Getting the pattern lined up along the centre front seam. All that tricky sort of stuff. Made a good deal trickier by the face I had ordered enough to make the dress, not realising how big the print was. It was pretty touch-and-go as to whether I’d be able to get it cut right, but I just squeezed it in in the end! (Look on the inside, and you’ll see one of the side seams is sewn right next to the selvedge.)

There’s also this little surprise, hidden down one side of the front bodice. Hah!

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m pretty happy with my pattern matching though – check that out!

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Not so happy with my button placement though. I accidently stitched the buttonholes on the wrong side of my marker, so they’re out by a couple of mm. Ugh.)

I had a little mishap while sewing though – I managed to put a rip in the back neckline, just before attaching the collar. Argh!!! Thanks to some Instagram sewing helpers, I calmed down the panic, reinforced with iron-on interfacing, and stitched it together again with a narrow seam. I tried to find some fabric to do an invisible patch with, but didn’t have a piece that would fit the problem area and had the same pattern on it. So, a narrow seam it had to be! Luckily the print is so busy it’s not too noticible when it’s on. (But still – eek!!)

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This is the second time I’ve made this pattern (the first one being in Hello Kitty print), and it went together nice and smoothly. :-) I made the same changes as last time – lengthening the bodice by 3cm. It’s actually a little bit short still – next time I’ll lengthen it by 4cm.

I made a couple of other alterations too – I lengthened the skirt by 8cm (now a far better length on me – the other one is just a fraction too short!). I also narrowed the skirt, so I could fit it on the fabric with the pattern placement. I found the armholes of my first one just a little too tight under the arm, so lowered them by 1cm.

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

All seams are bound with fushia coloured Hug Snug, and I did a blind hem on my sewing machine. The armholes are finished with red bias binding.

Next time I make this, I’ll be adding side-seam pockets. Because, pockets!

I’m really happy with how this turned out – the skirt length is definitely better for me at this length, and the pattern matching makes me happy – definitely worth the time taken to cut it out slowly! And hey, William Morris print of birds stealing strawberries – that’s a total win! :-)

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Big thanks to my sister, who took the photos when we went to the zoo. I had to keep ducking to check where the Little Guy was as he ran around playing. Lots of photos like this happened as a result:

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

;-)

Cressoway! (Dallida?)

It’s time for a mash up! Yeah yeah!!

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Back in September, I made a dress for Sewing Indie Month using two Jennifer Lauren Vintage patterns – the Dalloway dress and the Cressida skirt. I combined the bodice of the Dalloway with the Cressida skirt to make a cute vintage styled fit-and-flare dress. (And I put together a tutorial on how to do it on Jennifer’s blog. Spoiler alert: it’s a super easy pattern hack.)

Jennifer Lauren Vintage Cressida skirt line drawing

This was my first time making any Jennifer Lauren Vintage patterns, and I have to say, it was a lovely experience! Great instructions, good diagrams, notches that all match up and do what they’re meant to do, and a clean and easy way to line a bodice. I now have my eye on her Enid top pattern to add to my “things to sew” list… ;-)

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Jennifer drafts for a D-cup bodice, and I’m an AA, so naturally there had to be a bit of adjusting before I could begin. I chose my size based on high bust measurements then did a 3″ SBA (small bust adjustment) to bring it down to an A cup. Since there were two waist darts, I rotated them into one dart and then did a SBA on the bodice to make it easier. The SBA resulted in the side bust darts and one of the waist darts on the bodice being removed. (A shame, as I really like the double waist dart detail in the Dalloway bodice. But hey, if I’d kept them both, they would have been little more than pintucks. ;-)

Here’s my hacked-up bodice post-SBA….

bodice alterations

I also added 1cm of length to the front and back bodice (a common adjustment for me, due to my height.)

Fit adjustments made to the bodice, I started asjusting the Cressida skirt to convert it from a separate with button front opening to a dress skirt with centre back zip. You can find all of these over on the Jennifer Lauren Vintage blog, so I won’t go into the details here as well. (Although if you have any questions, feel free to ask.)

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The other key change I made was leaving out the pockets. (Yes, yes, I know – that decision just seems downright wrong! But there’s a good reason for it – I wanted to leave it easy to take this in at the waist in the future, and the pockets would have made it very hard to do that. So they got left out, and the side seams got stitched up last, rather than the waist seam.)

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I really love the resulting dress – it’s fun and swirly! The Cressida skirt is a semi-circle, which gives a good amount of fullness while not being too nervous about errant breezes (a common wardrobe malfunction here in Wellington. Wonder why wind gets mentioned on Wellington sewing blogs a lot? We’ve just officially been announced the windiest city in the world. Yeah.). I like how the neckline on the Dalloway dips down at the back, and how the bodice is fully lined in an easy and clean way. The combination of patterns results in a dress that’s a good blank canvas for all sorts of fun prints and patterns.

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Speaking of prints and patterns – the fabric I used for this came from Fabric-a-brac a while ago. It’s a cotton, with a lovely mottled pink design all over it. I paired it with a lightweight yellow poplin for the bodice lining, and used yellow Hug Snug to bind all the seams. The hem is finished with Hug Snug and stitched with a blind machine stitch.

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

One thing you may spot that’s a bit odd – the zipper is a super crazy long one. I got given a bunch of these a while back, and it turned out I didn’t have any suitable coloured zips the right length in my stash (considering how many zips I own, I have no idea how this could have happened…). For some reason, I decided that rather than shortening the zip, I’d just make a super long lapped zip. And no, there was no good reason for this decision – I just felt like it. *shrug* So yes, this dress has a lapped zip that goes nearly the whole way down the back. (Can you spot where it ends in the photo below? Please ‘scuse the wrinkles – this dress had already been through High Tea and lots of walking and sitting.)

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The photos for this were taken at the house of one of my fellow members Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN), after we went for high tea. We all had outfits to photograph – so much fun when we’re all getting garment photos and egging each other on! ;-) Just for fun, here’s a few behind-the-scenes photos. Including swinging. Because, swings.

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Taking photos of Mel in one of her new dresses. ;-)

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mel and Nina in new dresses!

We spotted this on the way to Nina’s house for photos – isn’t is amazing? All covered in wooden lace work, including the fence out the front.

laceHouse

Summer dreaming….

When I was browsing the Minerva Crafts website a while ago, my eye got caught by this fabric. Believe it or not, it’s a Liberty lawn! One that isn’t super floral!! I’ve always wanted to try sewing with a Liberty fabric – it’s not something you tend to come across over here in New Zealand, and after reading so many posts by overseas bloggers who rave about it, my curiousity was well and truly piqued. But sadly, I’m just not that into busy floral prints, and most of the designs, while lovely on others, weren’t “me”.

Until this one. Ain’t it fantastic?!? It’s called “Hidden Floral” – yep, there are flowers in it, but they’re all hidden in the print. Pinks and greens and blues and oranges, what a fantastic riot of colour, while at the same time appearing almost subdued. (Not too sure how that works, but hey.)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So thanks to Minerva, who enabled my Liberty curiousity to be fulfilled. ;-)

When I spotted this print, I knew exactly what I wanted to make it into as well. I’ve had this vintage 1950’s halter neck dress pattern in my stash for a while, waiting to be made up. It features a button-front, side zip, and dramatically pointed collar. As well as pockets. And oh my gosh, what epic pockets they are! Check out the hugeness of them!! And the pocket flaps!!! They’re pockets perfectly designed for swanning around on a summers day, concealing all manner of lip balms and cell phones and entire blocks of chocolate where no kids can see you’re carrying candy and sneakily eating it when their backs are turned. (Not that I do that. Ever. *ahem*)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern is Butterick 5949, from around 1951. As stated on the back, it’s a “Halter Necked Day or Evening Dress. (A) The tailored look in a quick & easy evening or at-home gown. Halter neck, bare back bodice buttons down the front, has a perky collar. The full, dirndlish skirt flaunts two huge patch pockets. (B) Day length version.”

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyways – this fabric, that pattern. Perfect!

(Or maybe not perfect – in hindsight, a lawn is probably a little bit too lightweight for a halter neck dress like this. Although anything much heavier would result in a rather bulky waist, with the semi-circle skirt that is then gathered in…. Hmmm…. Perhaps a poplin? No matter, lawn it was, and as lawn it shall be worn!)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern needed a few modifications. First up, it’s a couple of sizes too small, at a 32″ bust. So I got my tracing game on, and made the following changes before cutting out the final fabric:

  • Graded up to a size 36″ bust / 42″ waist
  • Did a 1″ SBA (small bust adjustment) (so 1/2″ on the half bodice, to bring it to a total of 1″)
  • Lowered dart points
  • Lengthened the bodice by 3cm (possibly too long in hindsight, but I’ll get to that soon)
  • Narrowed the skirt a bit so it fit on the width of the fabric
  • Removed the side zipper and instead extended the front button placket (I have dreams of one day getting back to pre-baby-size, so all dresses are currently made in a way that side seams are easy to take in at some mythical point in the future)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Changes made, and dress cut out, I got to sewing.

And let me just tell you – this Liberty lawn was all it was rumoured to be. Absolutely delicious to sew with – light and airy, presses well, doesn’t crease easily (except when you want it to), and holds it’s shape nicely while being sewn up. Gorgeous. *mini swoon*

The pattern, well, it’s a classic 1950’s pattern. Unprinted pattern pieces (they’re marked with punched holes instead, which are interpreted by a key. Which I find pretty easy to work with actually – it’s super easy to mark things with tailors chalk when there are conveninetly cut holes already in the pattern tissue!). And the usual sparse instructions. The instructions for the collar/neck facing confused me a little, so I just ignored them and did things my own way. ;-)

The way the collar is shaped on this is very pretty – it’s narrow at the back, and swoops into a strong point in the front.

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made a few changes as I went through the sewing fun as well, as follows:

  • Stitched the side seams last to make it easy to adjust them in the future
  • Put interfacing onto the self-facing of the front bodice, rather than directly onto the front bodice itself (it looks a bit softer that way)
  • Added extra button holes below the waist to compensate for having removed the side zip, and then stitched the remainder of the placket closed from the last button to the hem
  • Understitched the neck facing
  • Got lazy and didn’t slip-sitch the opening that the pocket was turned through closed. The pocket got top-stitched onto the skirt anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t make a difference

I finished the inside seams and the hem with pink Hug Snug rayon seam binding. Those little bursts of colour on the inside of garments just make me happy, it’s true. :-)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Annoyingly enough, despite doing a quick-and-dirty muslin (the joy of using fabric for tracing onto – these days I just sew up my tracings of the pattern pieces as a muslin and then unpick them again to get the pattern back. So fast! So easy!), and trying the dress on a few times during construction, once it was finished I realised I needed to adjust the side seams. By quite a lot.

11cm, to be precise. Grading down to nothing at the waist.

Heck knows how that happened. Because that puts them back at a size 32″ bust, which I most certainly am not, and never have been. Oh well, such is life! Although with an adjustment that big on a halter neck, it does mess around with the curve of the neckline under the arm – somewhat annoying. But not insurmountable, so after a fair bit of unpicking and cutting and restitching, I now have a halter dress, all ready to wear this summer!

Yay, summer!!!

(Now, where are you, summer?!? Hurry up already!!)

Looks rather ideal for lounging around eating ice cream in, don’t you think? ;-)

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Summary / Details:
Pattern used: Butterick 5949 from around 1951
Fabric: Hidden Floral Liberty lawn, from Minerva Crafts (sadly now sold out, so I can’t link you to it)
Changes made: Lots! All listed above
What I’d change next time: Take in the side seams by 11cm in total (so 2.75cm at front and back side seams on the pattern) before cutting out the fabric; possibly raise the waistline by 1cm. I’m not 100% sure about this yet – the volume of the skirt pulls the waist down a bit lower than it should be, but I also have pretty much no waist definition at all at the moment (thanks, little babies. Yeah.), so it may be in part due to that. Will revisit in a few months. Hopefully.
Would I make it again? Hopefully! I’m loving this pattern, and especially those pockets and the as-described “perky” collar! Love the idea of the evening dress length – such a fascinating combination – a semi-structured halter neck with huge pockets as an evening maxi. Must be done, sometime soon….

Summer Dreaming halter dress - Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So saying though, I’m not 100% sold on the fit of this on me just yet. Not sure how much of that is the softness of the lawn with this style, how much is that the fit just isn’t right, and how much of it is that my body is still changing size and shape quite a lot post-pregnancies. The littliest guy is finally starting to sleep a bit better (only getting woken up about 3 times a night now – a massive improvement!!) so I’m feeling hugely better as far as sleep deprivation goes – fingers crossed I start feeling healthier soon too, and all those crazy changes settle down. Either way, I’ll see how I’m feeling about the fit of this in another couple of months. :-)

Big thanks to my lil’ sis’, who took these photos at the rugby field near her house. We saw ducks with ducklings (ducklings!! So cute!!!), the Little Guy ran around pretending to chase off robots (as one does when one is three), and one of the groundskeepers came over to ask what on earth we were doing and make jokes about being on New Zealand’s Next Top Model. Yep.

ducklings