Category Archives: Travelling and exploring

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…! 😉

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. 😉

(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. 🙂

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? 😉 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!)


Yellow Sway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


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).



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


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.


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

Circling around and around

Check it out – I broke out of my usual colour comfort zone and….

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

made something black!!


(Yes, this is rare for me. Sure, my Simone dress had a black background, but I countered it with purple, and even then it’s far more neutral than pretty much everything else I own.)

But hey, it’s mono-sewn month over at The Monthly Stitch, and the challenge is to sew in black and/or white.

And white? Yeah, it’s not my friend. Looks dreadful on me, and looks even worse after I’ve been wearing it a little while as something about wearing white makes me far more likely to spill things on myself. Or use a pen that leaks. Or get splashed by a passing car going through a muddy puddle. Like I said – white isn’t my friend, and I’m not really it’s friend, either.

So black it clearly had to be!

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I dug out this mid-heavy weight wool blend (? I think?) knit from my stash. Had no idea it was there, and I still have no idea of where it came from or how long it’s been floating around in my stash for. (Signs my stash is too large. Oops.)

And I grabbed my newest Papercut pattern – the Circle Top.

Papercut Circle Top

(Yep, another Papercut make. But hey, I did warn you all – after all, they’ve got the biggest collection of patterns that I can sew up and still wear while pregnant, so this is kinda inevitable!)

Seriously though, have you seen the Circle Top pattern? It’s just like it says on the box – a giant circle. With sleeves. Worn as a top. Crazy!

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And also surprisingly comfortable and cozy. Coz the circular nature of it means you can do things like wear it up over your head like a hood, or pull the edges up and in so it snuggles around your neck kinda like a scarf.

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Plus it’s kinda fun to wrap all around yourself when it’s cold outside.)

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I must admit that at first, I didn’t really see myself wearing this style. But then Sandra kept putting up pics of herself in one of her two Circle Tops during Me Made May, and every single time I saw it, I wanted one. And now, I have one of my very own! Yippie!

At first, I thought this would be a super-fast make. After all, it’s just a circle, two sleeves, two sleeve cuffs, and edge binding. Simple, right? And sure enough, the sleeves and sleeve cuffs and circle all joined together crazy fast, probably in about 20 minutes.

And then I got to the binding.

Which just went on. And on. And ooooonnnn. Turns out there’s a fair distance around that there circle!

Worth it though, as the binding gives a nice clean finish (especially important with this style, since you see both sides as it hangs open) and also gives it a bit more weight for draping in the front.

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Please don’t look too closely at the binding in the above image though. Shameful though it may be to admit it, I finished this around 11pm on Friday night and we caught a plane early the next morning, so I didn’t get a chance to press the binding. It’s all pressed now though, and sitting much flatter than in that photo!)

The only issue I really had is that the sleeves are just a bit too short on me. Not surprising, since I have crazy long gorilla arms, and I didn’t lengthen the sleeves on this, so they’re made up at their ‘real’ length. Which would be a pretty good, long length on most other people. For myself, next time I’m gonna add probably 6cm to them.

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My long-suffering made-to-photograph-my-creations partner and I went down to Nelson last weekend for a long weekend. (Without the Little Guy! First time we’ve been away from him, together, for more than a couple of hours! Very strange not to have him there.) Since I seem to have a ‘thing’ about wanting to take something new with me whenever I go away somewhere (gotta get different-location-photos, after all! Hah!), I rushed to get this finished late on Friday night as we were flying down early Saturday morning. And then I proceeded to wear it for the whole three days we were away, being all happy and snuggly and cozy, yes indeed. 🙂

These photos were taken walking alongside the river that runs through Nelson, and also up in the gardens around the Nelson cathedral.

(Except for this one, which was taken in the Chinese Garden section of Queens Gardens. Blossoms! In the middle of winter! Made me happy. 🙂 )

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oh, and guess what else? I met Katie from Papercut when I was in Nelson! And she is super lovely and I got to visit the Papercut workroom and everything. (And my gosh, I want her workroom! So organised and filled with inspiring fabrics and things and with a super huge massive printer where she prints the patterns out directly.) I even convinced her to help me package up a few patterns so who knows? Maybe some of you will get a Papercut pattern that I helped put together in it’s box! Mwahahahaha!

So yeah, the Circle Top. I likes it! And I am thinking about making one with contrasting band, coz wouldn’t that look rather fabulous, don’t you think?

And since it’s growing and all, here’s a ‘bump’ photo. For whatever week I’m up to now. 24 weeks, maybe? (Lost track. Oops!)

Black Circle Top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

So tell me folks, do you have a ‘need’ to make something new when you go on holiday, or is it just me?

I may be going to Christchurch for three days for work in a couple of weeks. Hmmm.. what to make, what to make….? Papercut’s Ooh La Leggings, Victory’s Anouk dress, or a vintage 1970’s dress? Which should it be??

Rock-a-birdy Bleuet

A month or two back, the lovely ladies of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN) were debating – what will our next self-set sewalong challenge be? We put it to vote, and the winner was – making something using a Deer&Doe pattern!

And since we were using Deer&Doe patterns, we figured we may as well head to where the deer were for a photo shoot, so decided on a day trip to Staglands, a family animal park just outside of Wellington. (Not that any of us had been there before, but we figured that with a name like ‘Staglands’, the chance of there being deer there was quite high. Plus, we were somewhat curious as to what it was like!)

So last weekend, a few of us drove along a narrow, windy, steep, surrounded-by-native-bush road, being deafened by the sound of cicadas, until we reached Staglands tucked away in it’s valley. And oh my, was it worth the trip! We spent all afternoon there, and didn’t even get to see everything. It’s set up so well – lots of zones, lots of different animals to meet and feed and watch. Heaps of native bush, creeks and streams and bridges. And a Secret Garden with rabbits running around to pet!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And of course, some deer, too. 🙂

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

But anyway, I guess you want to hear about what we made, right? Well, would you believe it – the four of us that turned up wearing Deer&Doe creations all made the same thing! The Bleuet dress. So we got to roam around the park in a pack of matching dresses. 😉

Quadruple Bleuets | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(From left-right: Nikki, me, Mel and Jen.)

Quadruple Bleuets | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made my Bleuet out of a stretch denim. (Admittedly, I would have preferred it not to be stretch, but that’s what I had to hand. And I’ve long been wanting a denim shirt dress, because I found these awesome swallow iron-on embroidered patches at a store a while back, and they’ve been needing me to make them a denim shirt dress for them to live on. So a denim Bleuet it was to be!)

Deer&Doe Bleuet dress

Deer&Doe – Bleuet dress pattern

Just because it was fun, I used the reverse side of the denim for contrast – on the collar (although I used the ‘outer’ side for the inside collar band, for contrast on the contrast, haha!), the bow, and the sleeve cuffs. The original plan was to use pearl snap fasteners, but I’m trying to be very good and not buy more stuff when I have so much already, so I went digging through my stash and unearthed enough red snap fasteners to use down the front. So, red fasteners it became!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I figure it’s got a bit of a ‘rockabilly’ look to it, what with shirt dress, denim, swallows, and red. Don’t ya think?

And because all dresses should have pockets, I added pockets to the centre side panels. Nice, deep ones, good for carrying things.

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My little sis’ made a Bleuet too – we spent all of Saturday sewing together, getting them finished in time for the outing. I used some of the scraps of her (covered with birds) Bleuet for the pocket lining in mine – check it out! More birds!!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Changes I made:

  • Lengthened the skirt by 15.5cm
  • Added pockets to the centre side panels (I’ve written a tutorial on how I did this in case anyone is interested in how to do this)
  • Did a super-dodgy small bust adjustment (SBA) by shaving 1cm off the bust curve of the side front (don’t try this at home, kids!)
  • Only put interfacing on one side of the collar and collar stand (I figured with a heavy fabric, it didn’t need more than that)

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This was my first experience sewing up a Deer&Doe pattern, and I must admit it was a bit mixed. Things I loved – the packaging and booklet are super cute, the language is friendly and engaging, the design is adorable (seriously – that bow is just so cute!!), and the pattern paper is nice and thick, really easy to trace and work with. Oh, and the bow is not only super-cute, but also made in a rather fun and easy way. 🙂

Exploring Staglands | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Things I didn’t love to much – the instructions were a bit odd at times. They don’t include cutting the interfacing in the cutting layout, so you have to hunt through the instructions to figure out what bits you need to cut – not so good when you want to do all the prep in one go as it’s very easy to miss things. Also, I felt they ask for too much interfacing – usually only one side of the collar and collar stand gets interfaced (if I remember correctly anyway – I’m now doubting all others I’ve made in the past, oops!), rather than both. I don’t feel that the sleeve cuff needs interfacing either, since it’s essentially folded in four and is therefore quite sturdy and strong. Also, the instructions for attaching the collar and stand are just plain weird – not clear at all, and what they seem to be asking you to do is a heck of a lot harder than it needs to be, with lots of room for having to unpick and resew things due to things not 100% lining up. (Same with attaching the sleeve cuff, for that matter).

So yeah. The pattern itself I like, but I do feel that the instructions made it harder than it needed to be.

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out though. The sleeve cuffs are a little bit tighter than I would have liked (I’ll extend the sleeve cuff width by about 3cm next time so they’re not so constricting), and I’m not 100% certain I like it the length I’ve ended up with, but still I am rather fond of it and I suspect it’s going to be getting a lot of wear, especially in weekends. 🙂

Oh, and we got to meet, and feed, lots of animals!

Rock-a-Birdy Bleuet (with a sheep) | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

My Little Guy (and my Bigger Guy) both came along too and really enjoyed themselves. Such a fun day all around! 🙂

Meeting Deer | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Stag | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Archways and undergrowth

Continuing on the Papercut love, here’s another Papercut make just for you.

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

That’s right, it’s the Ensis tee!

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

After we became accidental twinsies with our Bellatrix blazers, the lovely Mel and I thought it would be fun to carry on that idea and be Ensis twinsies, too!

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And also use it as an excuse to go to random spots around Wellington and take photos together, just for the fun of it.

(And oh my, was it a fun way to spend the morning! Well over 300 photos, we may have gotten a little trigger-happy with all the fun spots to get shots, and the enjoyment of a) having someone with you who ‘gets’ why you’re taking photos, and b) not feeling like a complete idiot standing by yourself with a timer. Seriously, you guys who do the timer thing, I take my hat off to you – I am far far to shy to do that! 😦 )

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

We went for a wander up part of the Southern Walkway to Truby King Gardens. (A favourite photo/walk spot of mine – so overgrown and shabby and lovely.) Mel had never been there before so I got to introduce her to the little archways and the seats and the tumbling-down brick walls.

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Our walk was punctuated by happy exclamations of “oh! There’s a log with ferns all around it! Let’s stand there!” and “check it out – a stump in a clearing, like a mini stage!”, followed by us taking turns dancing around and pulling odd poses just for the heck of it.

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Culminating in a bunch of “twinsie Ensis tee” shots, oh yeah! (And a conversation with a couple of ladies who wandered by and were a bit bemused by our antics, haha!)

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

All up, a great way to spend a weekend – make a top on Saturday, go for a walk on Sunday with a friend for photos. 😀

So, the tee….

Quite frankly, I am now in love with this pattern. It’s super-fast to make up, you can use up little bits of fabric for the top contrast panel, and I can see lots of variation possibilities. The line between the two panels ends at a flattering spot, and the shirt is long enough to not worry about showing skin when you sit down (even for us taller girls!). It’s a good cut, too – not too tight, not too loose. The only change I made was shortening the sleeves for a summer tee.

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I have a couple more of these planned already – one in black and silver with a lower neckline to wear tucked in to skirts for work – I think the contrast panel with a dressier fabric would translate quite well into office wear, we’ll see how that goes. I’m also thinking of using the Ensis pattern for a sweatshirt by cutting a size bigger and using the version with cuffed sleeves and hem. Could be cute, yes?

The entire thing was stitched up using my trusty four-thread overlocker, gosh I love that thing, makes things so fast and the coverstitch is great. Me and my overlocker, we’ve got a little love affair going on. (Complete with occasional tiffs where it throughs it’s toys out of the cot for no reason at all. Huh.)

The Facts

Pattern: Ensis tee from Papercut
Fabric: pink/navy stripe cotton knit from Levana; grey marle cotton/synthetic blend knit no idea it’s been in my stash for a while
Size cut: a straight XS
Alterations made: sleeves shortened to summer length
Verdict? Loving this far more than I thought I would! (Even though the pink stripe makes me feel like a bit of an 80’s throwback, haha!) I can see this getting a lot of use, and have plans for more already, maybe even this weekend….

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Papercut Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And also – taking photos with another sewing-blogger is HEAPS OF FUN!!!! 😀

Shanghai Stash-building

Before we went on our holiday, I spent quite a bit of time with ol’ friend Google, trying to hunt out information on where to go to buy fabric and/or notions in the places we were going to. (Coz you know, if you’re going to completely destroy a fabric-buying ban while overseas, you may as well plan ahead for maximum ban-destruction, right?!) However, one place that I really struggled with was Shanghai. We were headed to Shanghai for just over two days on our way home, and since there’s a big tailor-made industry there (or at least one that’s big enough that I’ve heard of it!), I figured there must be somewhere to go fabric shopping. But could I find any details of such a place? No. No, I could not.

Until I got an amazingly, lovely, full-of-details email from one of my blog readers, Jenny. (Jenny – thank you again! So, so much!!!)

Shanghai notions market - grosgrain ribbon

Reel upon reel of grosgrain. Plus, my Midsummer’s Night Dream dress out and about in Shanghai!

And yeah, once I read that email, that was it. There was no going back. Of those two-and-a-bit days we were going to have in Shanghai, at least half a day would be fabric-and-notions shopping.

Jenny told me about the places to go for both fabric and notions in Shanghai. If you’re ever heading to Shanghai and have some space in your suitcase, here’s where to go.

Shanghai notions market - buttons

All the pretty buttons!

For fabric:

There are two main fabric markets – the South Bund Market, and the Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market. The Sound Bund Market is the most well known and the biggest, however it’s also the most expensive and more crowded than Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market. From both, you can get all sorts of fabrics, as well as tailor-made clothing.

South Bund Fabric Market
399 Lujiabang Lu,
near Nancang Jie

Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market
168 Dongmen Lu,
near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu

Shanghai notions market - buttons

Buttons, buttons, pretty buttons

And for notions:

Head to the Wholesale Notions Market. It’s about 15 minutes walk from Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market, on a section of street that’s lined with little shops selling fabric and notions.

Wholesale Notions Market (Shanghai Tan Shang Xia)
388 Renmin Lu (near Sichuan Nan Lu), 人民路388号, (近四川南路)

(One thing to not with all three markets, they all only take cash, and preferably smaller notes. So go prepared with a bunch of ’em!)

Shanghai notions market - buttons

And even more buttons….

Unfortunately we ran out of time to get to either of the fabric markets, but that was probably just as well, since there was no space left in any of our suitcases by then (being as all available room was taken up with Japanese fabric!). We did, however, get to the notions market. And oh my, I could quite easily have spent our entire time in Shanghai in that notions market!!!

Shanghai notions market - invisible zips

Invisible zips

There were several stories in a massive building. Each storey had lots and lots of little stalls, selling pretty much every sort of notion you care to name. Lace. Buttons. Buckles. Snaps. Elastic. Random fur trim. Collars. Care labels. Webbing. Everything, including a bunch of things I didn’t even recognise. And the variety! Oh my!!! Seriously. I don’t know if the rest of you get spoilt with choice, but for us over here in little ol’ New Zealand, this place was like a kid being let loose in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. (And then the prices. Wow!) I think the one that impressed me the most was the stalls selling overlocker thread. Rainbows of thread. Every colour you could possibly want. And for the equivalent of 80c NZ per spool. If only I’d had more luggage space, I would quite happily have come home with about 40 spools. (Instead, I had to limit myself to 6 and hope I could squeeze them in somehow!)

Shanghai notions market - webbing

Stacks of webbing

Sadly we got to the notions market not long before it shut, so I only really got to explore part of one floor. But that was probably just as well, as otherwise I may have gone a bit mad buying all the pretties. 😉

Shanghai notions market - overlocker thread

Rainbows of overlocker thread

Wanna see what I came home with?

The first thing that made it into my bag was a bunch of grosgrain ribbon. This came from a little shop just along the street from the notions market – we walked past it on our way there, and I couldn’t help myself but stop and admire all the candy-like pretty colours of grosgrain, most with cute prints on them. (25 metres of grosgrain may have come home with me….)

Grosgrain ribbon

25 metres of grosgrain ribbon with fun prints (sailboats! polka dots!! hearts!!!)

I had to stop myself from buying buttons. But not before enough for 13 new garments had crept into my life….


Lots of pretty pretty buttons


MOAR buttons!

(Didja notice the little dogs in the photo above? And the leather hearts?? And the ones with little bows painted on them???)

Invisible zips

Lots (and lots, they were soooo cheap!) of invisible zips in different lengths

Overlocker  thread

Pretty colours of overlocker thread

Thank you again, Jenny! If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have lots of little pretties to admire. 😉

Pirate pants (arrr!)

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

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

Pirate pants

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

Pirate pants

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

Pirate pants

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

Pirate pants

Blackcurrant Tiramisu

Yikes! Somehow it got to the second week of November, and I still haven’t posted about the third dress I made at the start of October! Gah.

Anyway, here ’tis. Along with some more glimpses of our holiday. 🙂

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Yep, it’s another Tiramisu! Going along with the ‘flavours’ theme of naming them, I figure this one must be Blackcurrant. (Coz grape flavoured Tiramisu? Um, no. I don’t think so.) I did toy with the idea of licquorice flavour, due to the black-and-white contrast fabric, but decided they can just be thought of as chocolate sprinkles on top instead. (Excuse me while I go and eat some chocolate now… Power of suggestion, and all that.)

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Since last time I made myself a Tiramisu I ended up having to take it in by pretty much a full size, this time I cut one size down – a 30 B. Which fits a heck of a lot better! Pretty much perfectly actually, except for one small issue – I didn’t realise it when I was making it up, but the bodice on the size 30 is shorter than the size 35 bodice. Which is a bit annoying, since the size 35 midriff was hitting at the right place on me, and now the size 30 midriff is too high, and as a result does nothing flattering to my bust…. *sigh*

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Aside from that annoyance (which, once made, I can’t really do anything about!), I quite like this dress. I spent ages deciding which fabric combination to use – I was thinking of making one entirely out of the black-with-white-dots knit, with red-with-white-dots for contrast. But it made my eyes go funny looking at it, so I decided to have a bit of sympathy for the rest of the world. Heh.

And I have to say – the Tiramisu is great for travelling in! I took both my Tiramisu dresses on our trip, and wore them soooo much. Every long-haul flight we did, I was wearing a Tiramisu. They’re perfect for flights, and even more perfect for flights-with-a-toddler-who-is-still-breastfed. Comfy, practical, generally rather awesome. Seriously – if you’re flying long distance, make yourself one. You’ll be glad you did.

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Since we were going to Milan for a couple of days, I figured I’d better save this Tiramisu for photos there. Tiramisu, Italy – yeah, bit of a no-brainer, right? 😉 The lovely Mel did suggest I get photos while eating tiramisu in Italy. And I wanted to, I really did. But when it came down to it, well, I actually don’t like tiramisu-the-dessert. So I ordered something else instead. 😉

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

Dress details:
Pattern: Tiramisu by Cake
Fabric: purple cotton-blend tshirting (had in stash for years and I can’t remember where I got it from), black-and-white cotton tshirting for contrast (also been in my stash for years, think it was about $6 per metre, can’t remember where from?
Size made: 30 B
Adjustments made: none, but next time I’ll lengthen the bodice by an inch or two. (Oh, I did omit the pocket. Again. I’m just not loving the pocket on knit fabric, really.)
Construction notes: made entirely on my overlocker! Gotta love that thing. 4-thread knit stitch for all seams. Cover stitch to top-stitch down the arm and neck bindings. I left the hem raw, as I like it better that way. Oh, and since the neckband of my last Tiramisu is too loose at the back of the neck, I stretched the neck binding a lot tighter when sewing this one, and just cut off the extra inch that I no longer needed at one end.

Blackcurrant Tireamisu dress

These photos were all taken in Milan, wandering around near the main shopping centre.

And just because I can, here are some more photos from the Milan part of our trip. Enjoy!

Playground in Milan

Checking out the playground across the road from our hotel

Sforza castle

Sforza castle

Peace Arch

Peace Arch (with Steve standing directly under it)

Fountain in Milan centre

Awesome fountain in the centre of Milan

Fabric shopping in Tokyo

After all that I’ve heard about fabric shopping in Tokyo, I couldn’t go there for a few days and not hunt out some craft shops, now could I?!? (Silly question, right?!)

Before I left, I went hunting online for where to go, and all the blogs I found and advice I was given pointed to two places – Tokyu Hands for all sorts of craft stuff, and Tomato in the Nippori fabric district for fabric. Luckily for me, my long-suffering partner let me indulge in hunting down those places – thanks, darlin’! 😉

First stop was Tokyu Hands. There are several of these stores around Tokyo, and we went to two of them. The first one, in Shinjuku, was really disappointing. (Even though our guide book said it was the best and biggest one….) There wasn’t really any sewing-related things at all – various jewellery findings, leather working stuff, and lots and lots of rows of iPhone 5 cases. (Turns out customising your iPhone 5 is a common hobby in Tokyo….) But no sewing stuff at all. *sad face* I left, wondering if maybe the craft boom had vanished from Tokyo, with sewing replaced by iPhone accessories….

Turns out that’s not the case, thankfully! We stumbled upon another Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, and much to my happiness it had a smallish but cute selection of buttons, trims, and other fun sewing things. Yay! (The good thing about buttons – they don’t take up much space in one’s suitcase, so it’s very very easy to justify buying a whole bunch of them as “souvenirs”….)

buttons and bias binding

Tokyu Hands haul – buttons and bias binding

They weren’t the cheapest buttons in the world though, so I was very good and only got three sets, plus some bias binding.

Metal buttons

Metal buttons with woodland creatures from Tokyu Hands – too cute to leave behind!

Bias binding

Printed bias binding from Tokyu Hands

wooden buttons

Wooden buttons from Tokyu Hands – toadstools and flowers!

And then there was the Nippori fabric district. Oh my! So many shops bursting with fabric and trims and other glorious things!!! Sadly (although perhaps luckily?!) our little guy wasn’t feeling all that well, so I didn’t have a huge amount of time to look around before we had to get him back to the hotel for a rest. I only made it into one store – the big Tomato store that everyone seems to recommend (second Tomato on the left when you’re walking away from Nippori train station. It’s got 4 floors, and a big display of 105-yen-a-metre fabric at the right of the street level floor). And can I just say – I was in fabric heaven!! So many glorious, glorious things! Floor after floor of them!!! And sooo cheap (or at least, super cheap compared to fabric in New Zealand). I wandered around happily for a good hour or so, trying to decide which ones were going home with me from the huge selection I wanted to get. (I’d promised my Other Half earlier that I was only going to get three lengths of fabric. He was so impressed with the selection at Tomato he didn’t bat an eyelid when I may have walked away with seven lengths in two bags….. *ahem* So much for that fabric-buying ban….)

Shopping at Tomato

Helping choose fabric at Tomato

Interestingly, there seemed to be a large selection of cotton/linen blends. (At least, I think that’s what they were? Next time, I’ll find out what the various fabric compositions are in Japanese beforehand so I can read the labels…..) Lots of block colour bright prints too.

Fabric from Tomato

Pretty fabric from Tomato – two linen/cotton blends, and a shirting weight cotton with little cats on it

I indulged myself a bit and bought some Echino fabric. Sure, you can get it over here, but it’s so expensive I’ve never been able to justify buying the stuff. In Tomato, it was less than half the price we pay for it at home. (E.g. the cotton ones were $10/m in Tokyo, vs. $32/m in Wellington.) And I’ve had my eye on the Buck print fabric for quite some time now, so I was determined to buy it if I could find it for a decent price. (Yay! Success!! 😀 )

Echino fabric

Echino fabric – including Buck print in black

(In fact, I may have started making the Buck fabric up into something already…. But you’ll just have to wait and find out what it’s going to be. 😉 )

But oh! There were so, so many pretties that I had to leave behind!! Next time, I’ll be taking an empty-as-possible suitcase with me, so I can fully indulge. 😉

Fabric that I didn't buy

The ones that got away….

The other great thing about going fabric shopping in Tokyo? Going on a quest for something that’s not in the usual tourist to-do list takes you to places you’d never go to otherwise, which can be quite fun. Adventures are great!

Floral Dream dress

For some reason, about three weeks before we went on holiday, I got the idea into my head that I was going to make one garment for each country we were visiting and get photos in each place. Coz, you know, three weeks before you go on holiday is a brilliant time to get all ambitious like that.

(Spoiler alert: I didn’t quite manage my goal. But four out of five countries isn’t bad, right?! 😉 )

So…. here’s what I made for photos in Slovenia!

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

It’s the Midsummer’s Night Dream dress by Papercut Patterns.

And just like both of the previous Papercut patterns I’ve made (La Sylphide, and Ooh La Leggings), this pattern was an absolute dream! Katie is a fantastic pattern drafter – so far, I haven’t had any construction or fitting issues with any of the three patterns of her’s I’ve tried. I’m guessing she’s a trained fashion designer as well, as her patterns have the 1cm seam allowances that are garment industry standard. Plus she uses clever time-saving construction techniques, like setting in sleeves in the flat for the La Sylphide dress. (Which, incendentially, makes it a lot easier to set in a sleeve smoothly. I recommend you try it.)

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

Anyway, back to the Midsummer’s Night Dream pattern….

It’s a pretty little wrap-around sleeveless dress, which crosses over in the front and ties around the waist with long ties. The skirt is quite full, unlike a lot of other wrap-around dresses I’ve seen out in pattern-land. (Which works well for me, as I do love a full skirt!) The neckline is finished with bias binding, which extends into long ties at either shoulder. The front panels feature a bit of gathering on the sides, so you get nice soft folds over the bodice, which I think look quite nice, although if I made this up in a heavier or stiffer fabric I’d omit the gathers.

(Side note: the tie shoulders make this dress pretty good if you’re breastfeeding, as you can just untie one shoulder, then tie it back up again afterwards.) (Hopefully that’s not too much information for the rest of you!)

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

I made up a size S, and made no adjustments to the size at all. (Wrap dress styles are so forgiving in the fit department, don’t you think? Especially this one, with the shoulder ties meaning you can get the waist to the right level just by tying the shoulders in the right place. Easy!)

The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to the back skirt. The instructions called for it to be cut out in two pieces, then joined along the centre back seam. I couldn’t think of any good reason to do it that way, so just cut it on the fold (overlapping to omit the 1cm seam allowance for the omitted centre back seam). Nice and easy, and one less seam to sew and finish – win!

I’m not sure what fabric this is made from – I picked it up from Fabric-a-brac a while back. It’s soft and light and doesn’t crease (perfect for travelling!), and frays like crazy. My kind-of mother-in-law things it’s a viyella, and I’m inclined to agree with her. I had the exact amount for a Midsummer’s Night Dream dress, and I think the fabric suited the pattern perfectly. It hangs well, and is lightweight enough for the bodice pleats.

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

I got a bit brave and tried making my own bias tape for the first time. (Yes, you read that right. Before now, I’d never made my own bias tape. Lazy me always bought it instead!) Even though I was using a fabric that frays heaps, it was surprisingly easy! And I love the way it looks, so I’ll definitely be branching out into self-made bias again in the future. 😉

So yes, another Papercut pattern success! Katie has managed to (temporarily) lure me away from my vintage pattern love, to indulge in a little affair with her more modern designs. (I hope you’re not getting sick of Papercut on here yet, as I may be about to start on a skirt…. But shhhh, it’s a secret! My other sewing project hasn’t heard about it yet….)

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

On a side note, isn’t Slovenia beautiful?!?! We were at Lake Bled for these photos, both up on the Bled castle, and then on the tiny island in the middle of the lake. So, so gorgeous! I think I’m in love with Slovenia….. *sigh*

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

Strawberry Tiramisu

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

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

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

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

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

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

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

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

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

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

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

Strawberry Tiramisu dress

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

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

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


Walking through the streets of Eger

Church in Eger

Church in Eger

Painted church ceiling, Eger

Painted church ceiling, Eger

Eger from the minaret

Looking down on Eger from the top of the minaret

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

Summer bridge over the Tisza river

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

Imre and I on his boat

Imre and I on his boat