Category Archives: Yearly review

Big ideas for 2016

Woo hoo! It’s 2016!!

And as per usual, I have lots and lots of plans. 😉

Want to hear what they are? Here goes….!

Sewing stuff

Oh, sewing plans. I always have so, so many sewing plans. So many things I want to make – all the pretty fabric, all the fun patterns! But there just isn’t enough time for it all. So, here’s the ideas on the top of my list for this year. (Inevitably, they will change throughout the year, but we’ll see how far I get with them!)

Vintage patterns
I love sewing with vintage patterns, I really do. And I’ve been missing it the last three years – they’ve just been a bit too hard to fit into all the body changes from having two little kids. But now, it’s time to get back into it! I have quite a collection of vintage patterns, including a few from the late 1930s. (So beautiful!) This year, I’m hoping to make a bunch of them up.

A few of the pretties

A few of the pretties

I’ve got a real soft spot for 1940’s designs, and have quite a few dress patterns from this era that are high on my list of things to make. I’m also very keen to make up one or two of my 1930’s patterns. And wear them all regularly, of course! 😉 I’ve already got a gorgeous deep purple wool for this 1940’s coat, and a floral lilac silk for lining for it. Mmmm……

Last year I also developed a real love of the Vogue Couturier and Designer patterns from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and I’ve been building up quite a collection of those as well. So many interesting style lines and design details! I’m planning on making up some of them this year as well. They’re just so gorgeous!

Some of the Vogue Couturier and Designer patterns

Some of the Vogue Couturier and Designer patterns

Indie patterns
Like with the last 3-4 years, there will be a bunch of indie patterns made up too. I’ve currently got fabric matched with the following patterns, just waiting for time to make them up: the Sophia dress from By Hand London (in a pink tape measure covered fabric from Minerva crafts); the Waver jacket from Papercut (in a coated polyester with a cream and black print from The Fabric Store); the YoYo dress from Papercut (in a place with green floral cotton from Fabric-a-brac). I’m especially in need of that Waver jacket – making a rain coat has been on my to-do list for about 15 years now, and I finally have the fabric for it, yay!

Pattern and fabric to be turned into the Sophia dress

Pattern and fabric to be turned into the Sophia dress

I’ll be taking a couple of breaks from my usual sewing of dresses to fill some wardrobe gaps as well. The raincoat is one of those – I also have plans for a few more pairs of the Carolyn pajama pants (both short and long variations), and I’ve got three Jenna cardis planned (in mustard yellow merino, fuchsia pink merino, and black leopard print), and a Sophie cardi in a moss green wool blend.

Knitting stuff

Speaking of cardigans, that’s also my knitting plans for this year. I’ve got the Agatha cardigan by Andi Satterlund on the needles (and have had for over a year now!), and also the Sunshower cardi (also by Andi Satterlund). I have grand intentions to finish them both before winter this year!

Knitting the Sunshower cardigan at Friday work drinks

Knitting the Sunshower cardigan at Friday work drinks

I’m also hoping to get two other knitting projects on the go – one each after those two are finished. I haven’t decided yet which patterns will be next on the needles – I have lots I want to make, and a stash of yarn, so it’ll depend on which most catches my eye at the time. But I’m 99.9% sure they’ll be cardigans, since that’s what I love to wear.

Part of the yarn stash - so much pretty!

Part of the yarn stash – so much pretty!

Muse patterns stuff

Oh my, I have so, so many plans for Muse this year! I’ve got a rather large number of patterns designed, and just waiting to be drafted/created. Philippa, Frances, Heather, Artemesia, Kelly, Kaha, Rua, Juliet, Sandra, Christina, Rayna, one that I haven’t even named yet, expansion packs…..

(And yes, I am well aware that there just isn’t enough time in one year for me to create them all! Some have been in the works for well over a year already. Eek!)
I’m part-way through creating the Philippa pattern now (had it designed since February last year, and it’s time for it to come to life – exciting!), and having a lot of fun with that. 🙂 My goal is to create eight Muse patterns this year, so about 2/3rds of that list above.

Beginning work on the Philippa pattern

Beginning work on the Philippa pattern

Other plans for Muse this year – getting paper patterns created! It’s taking a lot longer than planned, but progress is being made, albeit slowly. Sometime very soon, I hope!!

I’m also going to try for more professional photography for pattern images – looking to find a local photographer so the images can have less distracting backgrounds. Another exciting move to make!

Modern Vintage Cupcakes blog stuff

So many plans for this blog, and so little time to do any of them during 2015. So I’m gonna work to get some of them done this year! 😉

For a long time now, I’ve had parts of a blog post on maternity-friendly Indie patterns waiting for me to finish writing it. And a follow-up on nursing-friendly Indie patterns. This year, they will happen!

Also for a long time (heck, it’s been sitting in drafts since June, and in the planning phase since 2014!) is a series on my vintage sewing machine collection. Not only that – I’m planning on making a garment with each vintage machine I own, using a pattern from the same era as the sewing machine. Conveniently, this ties in nicely with some of those sewing goals listed above. 😉

Vintage 1970's Elna Lotus

Vintage 1970’s Elna Lotus

And one of these days, I’ll get around to giving the blog a makeover – the theme and banner are looking pretty old and tired. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t take long to do, but I keep bumping it down the priority list due to other fun things. It’s gonna happen though, I promise!

Other sewing/online stuff

Carrying on having fun with The Monthly Stitch, along with my fellow editor, Mel. We has plans, yes indeed we does. 🙂 Especially for Indie Pattern Month, the annual big event. I’m really looking forward to it – we’re already well into planning stage, and it’s gonna be awesome! 😀

I’m continuing on with the Minerva Bloggers Network as well – I have my next five projects all lined up and ready for making, a fun mix of useful things (pyjamas!), fun things (dress covered in little foxes!), and even something for the little dudes (mini trousers!).

Some of the Minerva projects waiting to be made

Some of the Minerva projects waiting to be made

And of course, carrying on with Sew Indie NZ. I have lots of plans for that this year as well – I’m in the middle of getting another designer to stock, and have two others on the list of ones I want to get in soon as well. And there may be thoughts around non-pattern things to stock as well, perhaps, we’ll see how it all goes….

It’s not all online things either – I have plans to actually get my sewing room organised (!!!). Work has started – a pegboard is up and being organised, two thread racks have been purchased and one is mounted on the wall so far, and I also bought a trims organiser (also awaiting being put on the wall). It’ll take a while (because quite frankly, I’d rather be sewing!) but organisation will happen!

Organisation is happening!

Organisation is happening!

Speaking of organising, I’ve been slowly (very very slowly) adding patterns to Evernote, at the recommendation of the lovely Mel. I’ve bought comic book bags to store patterns in, and have plans to slowly but surely get my collection archived and recorded this year. And even weed out a few patterns. Maybe. But let’s not be too hasty there…!

And there we have it!

Lots of plans for the year! I’m really looking forward to it – now that my energy is kinda coming back after last years horrible sleep deprivation, and my body is settling down with all the shape changes, I’m really looking forward to getting back to sewing lots of fun things. And I’m super excited about all the plans I have for Muse this year! Bring on 2016 – yippie!

What’s top of your sewing plans this year? Do share – I love finding out what everyone is planning! 🙂

2015 reflections

Happy mid-January-in-2016 everyone! I hope your sewing year is going fabulously so far?!

Mine has been off to a bit of a slow start. I’m currently working on the Sylvie dress by Christine Haynes, and also making a pair of pyjama shorts (in minions fabric!) for the Little Dude. I’ve also started work on the next Muse pattern. Pretty much all of which I’ve started in the past few days. 😉

sylvie dress

Sylvie dress in progress

2015 was an interesting year. Lots of changes in the first year of a new baby – changing body, changing requirements for clothes (nursing access, yep yep). I started out 2015 with a small baby, on maternity leave. Then finished the year with a fully mobile fast-walking one year old, and back at my full time job.

Sewing things

There were a lot less sewing failures in 2015 than in previous years. I’ve always had a bad tendency to experiment with fabric types and patterns, which has naturally led to some poor decisions. I’ve been a lot more successful in curbing those “lets match this with that and see what happens, even though it probably won’t work” impulses recently!

Shards of Hope dress (Colette Hawthorn)

Shards of Hope dress (Colette Hawthorn)

As with 2014, what I made last year was very much dictated by the having-a-baby thing, and the changing body that results from that. I focused a lot on garments that had “easy access” down the centre front (because tiny people get very impatient when they’re hungry!), and would also work with my changing waistline. So that meant lots of dresses, as they don’t have waistbands that are a lot harder to take in! I picked styles where I could sew up the side-seam last, to make it easy to take them in later on. And I avoided styles with too much detailing around the waist or bust, due to changing fit needs (and very little sewing time!).

Mushrooms dress (Deer & Doe Bleuet)

Mushrooms dress (Deer & Doe Bleuet)

So all that meant – a lot of sewing with indie patterns, and very little sewing from vintage patterns! I only sewed four vintage patterns last year – two dresses, a slip, and a toddler dress.

Gothic Mystery dress (vintage 1950's pattern)

Gothic Mystery dress (vintage 1950’s pattern)

(And I’ll be honest – I’ve been missing working with vintage patterns the last couple of years. Now that fit-wise things have settled down a lot, I’m planning lots of makes with vintage styles for 2016. So excited!! 🙂 But more about that later….)

Shirt dresses were definitely a staple of my 2015 sewing – easy to adjust at the side seam later, and easy access. Later in the year, the Littlest Dude decided he wasn’t interested in anything except solid food any more, so I’ve started on the non-button-front dresses again. Variety! It’s a good thing!!

Knitting things

Not a huge amount on the knitting front during 2015. It started off well – lots of knitting-while-nursing-a-baby time! My Marion cardigan was finished right at the very start of the year, and I finally got my cropped jumper done around the middle of the year. (Not too sure about that cropped jumper on me though – I’ll make a call on whether it stays or gets frogged next winter.)

Marion cardigan

Marion cardigan

I cast on two other projects – both Andi Satterlund ones. The Agatha cardigan in a gorgeous orange tweedy yarn, and the Sunshower cardigan in a dark purple. I’ve finished the body of both of them and am onto the sleeves – one is a knit-at-home project, the other is a knit-at-work project. Both are lucky to get any attention at the moment!

Muse things

I started out 2015 with lots of things planned for Muse patterns. Heaps of pattern ideas going through my head (most of which were already sketched up, variations thought out, and even named!), plans for producing paper patterns, and blogging/tutorials/social things too.

And then life happened.

*cough*small baby*cough*

Two little dudes, May 2015

Two little dudes, May 2015

Which meant, far less Muse things were done than I had planned. But hey, that’s ok – I got lots of baby cuddles, and there are plenty of plans for 2016 instead! 😉

I’m happy with what I did do with Muse though. Four patterns were released – the Melissa dress (first woven pattern!), the Sophie cardigan, the Tahi skirt and shrug, and the knit sleeve pack (the first mini-pattern, designed to provide even more options to existing patterns). All of which have been well received, and there have been some lovely creations appearing online. It always gives me such a buzz when I see someone has made one of the patterns!

Melissa pattern - blouse variation

Melissa pattern – blouse variation

Muse became more well known, and is now stocked by three online stores – Pattern Review, Indiesew, and Girl Charlee.

I took part in Sewing Indie Month, with the Melissa pattern included as part of the first pattern bundle. And through that, I made connections with a couple of other amazing designers – it’s so nice to be able to talk about all that stuff with people who are going experiencing it and figuring it all out at roughly the same time. 🙂

And work started on paper patterns – there’s still a fair amount of progress to be made, but I can say, it is progressing! I really want to create a physical product that is beautiful and makes people happy, and I’ve been working with an amazing designer on the packaging. Hopefully in another couple of months, I’ll be able to show it all to you!

Sophie cardigan pattern

Sophie cardigan pattern

Online collaboration things

Mel and I kept on doing our thing with The Monthly Stitch. Which just keeps on getting bigger and bigger! It’s great seeing so many enthusiastic, talented people. 🙂 We ran Indie Pattern Month for the third year in a row, and it was a huge success – heaps of people joined in, we interviewed heaps of designers, and everyone had a lot of fun.

It’s probably pretty obvious to those who know me, but I love patterns. Love, love love them! So I decided to help make them easier to access for New Zealand based sewing people, and started up Sew Indie NZ in early December. Bringing in a bunch of indie designers, and making them cheaper and easier for New Zealand customers to buy (because international postage costs can be rather crazy to our corner of the world!)

Sew Indie NZ

I tried dabbling with some of the other online sewing communities. I joined Kollaborra, uploaded a couple of projects, got confused about the purpose of it all, and wandered off again. I also joined The Foldline, read and posted in a bunch of groups, followed some people, and once again got a bit confused, lost interest, and wandered off. Maybe there’s something I’m missing with all of these…? (Or maybe I don’t really need one, since I’m a part of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN) and that fills pretty much all my sewing-chat-related needs. 😉

Another new thing for 2015 – I joined the Minerva Craft Bloggers Network! I’ve had a lot of fun with this – I come up with a project each month, and they send me the supplies for it, then I write about it for on their blog. Every time I go to choose projects, I consider stopping it – I have so much fabric and patterns stashed anyway that are crying out to be used! But I’ve found it really works for me – it means I have to make something every month (prioritising sewing can only be a good thing, right?!), it doesn’t add to my stash (as it all gets used pretty much immediately), and it’s given me access to things I would normally struggle to get here in New Zealand. (Liberty lawn! Hello Kitty printed poplin!! William Morris fabric!!!) Also, I’ve found that my Minerva projects have been a lot of my favourite garments to wear since I made them. So yes, I’ll continue on with that for a bit longer. (And I must admit, it’s a heck of a lot of fun “shopping” for a specific project! My usual sewing-supplies acquisition habit goes more along the lines of “ooh pretty fabric! I’ll have some!”, “shiny lovely new pattern, I must has it too!”. (Hence the aforementioned large stash. *ahem*)

British Affair dress (Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress)

British Affair dress (Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress)

Other life things

And aside from sewing, what else happened in 2015?

I was off work on maternity leave for the first few months, enjoying baby cuddles (and lots of long walks, since the Littlest Dude was a non-sleeper, so if he hadn’t had a daytime nap by 4pm I’d go for a walk to try and make him sleep for 20 minutes. A good way to enjoy some sunshine and get a bit fitter, as it turns out!). I started back at work part-time in March, with my partner cutting his work hours to part-time so we could alternate days at home with the little one. Then I went back to work full-time before the middle of the year. Going part-time for two months first definitely made for an easier transition this time!

Back at the little baby stage in late 2015. Awww....

Back at the little baby stage in late 2015. Awww….

In other work-related stuff, I presented at a couple of conferences – the Customer Experience conference in Auckland, and the UX NZ conference in Wellington. I gave two presentations at the first conference – one on the importance of aligning internal corporate culture with customer experience and brand. And the other at how qualitative and quantitative insights can work together to be more effective for organisations. The second of these was also given (in an updated form) for the UX NZ conference later in the year. Lots of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and improving my speaking skills, which was great! (I always feel so awkward doing that sort of thing. Or telling people that I’ve done it. Even mentioning it here is pushing me out of my comfort zone. Hah!) I also got interviewed for a “women in digital” blog post after the Customer Experience conference.

Later in the year, I went over to Melbourne for a work project, and I got to meet some of the Melbourne based sewing bloggers, who kindly invited me out to dinner. So much fun! Sewing people are awesome. 🙂 (Naturally, I also got in some sewing related shopping. Because when travelling, one must acquire sewing “souvenirs” for the stash, right?!)

In September, my sister and I went to meet the Red Pandas at Wellington Zoo for our birthdays. They are so cute and cuddly and gorgeous! I got to meet the Lemurs early in the year as well, with Mel. Again – cute and cuddly and gorgeous!

And towards the end of the year, I finally started climbing out of the extremely sleep-deprived state I was in for twelve months. Yep, the Littlest Dude was a non-sleeper. As in, waking up around 12 times each night, and very very few (and very short!) naps during the day. I really wish I had his energy!! His sleep is finally settling down now – we figure he’s got a super fast metabolism, as he wakes up hungry a lot and eats a lot of snacks during the day. Crazy crazy. He eats more than me most days! He’s up and walking about lots now, which is super cute. 🙂

Little Dudes sharing an ice-cream, Jan 2016

Little Dudes sharing an ice-cream, Jan 2016

So, there we have it! 2015.

It was a fun year in a lot of ways. A very difficult year in some ways (non-sleeping-baby and surviving on about 4-5 hours of extremely broken sleep a night for months on end. Ugh). And now it’s 2016!

And it finished off with my partner and I building a set of kit set drawers in our lounge on New Years Eve, after the kids were in bed. Finish with creating – perfect! (Especially when paired with a good glass of cider.)

Building kit set drawers on New Years Eve!

Building kit set drawers on New Years Eve!

I have lots of thoughts/ideas/goals for 2016. But I’ll talk about them another day. 😉

Happy New Year, everyone!

Summer Dreaming dress (vintage 1950's pattern)

Summer Dreaming dress (vintage 1950’s pattern)

Looking back, looking forwards (aka a brief review of 2014)

So, turns out it’s already late January, and this post, that I’ve been writing in my head for a good month now (and on the laptop for a few days) still hasn’t been written. Whoops! Time to rectify that. (And while it could be argued that it’s getting a bit late for a 2014 review post, since I’m writing this for my own benefit and reflection I’m gonna go ahead and do it anyway. 😉 )

First up, sewing.

The indie pattern kick I started on around the middle of 2013 continued, with the vast majority of things I made in 2014 being from indie designers. Papercut was the most commonly used – much as I don’t really want to be a “fan girl” of any label, I’ve kinda turned into a Papercut one. I love the thought that’s gone into the designs, collections, packaging, instructions, and website – it appeals to the same part of me that sent me down the career path I’m in (customer experience research, design and strategy, for those who may be curious). Plus, Papercut patterns fit me pretty well out of the envelope.

I did dabble with other indies though – some (like Named) I’ll happily use again. Others I probably won’t, for one reason or another.

Not much vintage got made during 2014, and towards the end of the year I was really missing using vintage patterns. But with the whole pregnancy thing, even though there were some vintage maternity patterns I wanted to make, I never quite got around to it due to time/energy levels, opting instead for faster makes (lots of tshirts, anyone?!?). So that was a bit sad, but it’s really spurred me on to get back to sewing up my vintage designs this year.

I’m still wanting to sew indie designs too (I really like supporting small businesses, and local ones as well when I can), but to be perfectly honest I’ve found quite a lot of the recent indie releases to be rather boring. 😦 So 2015 will be a far more balanced mix of vintage and indie. And I’m really looking forward to that. 🙂

My fave makes from 2014 were the following:

Cherry Ripe dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cherry Ripe dress

Cherry Ripe dress. One of the few vintage makes for the year, and one I’m really (really!) looking forward to being able to fit into again. Love the fabric, love the style, love wearing it.

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide dress. A vintage fabric, a modern indie pattern, and buttons from holiday travels – great mix! I wore this one heaps as well (until the growing bump meant I couldn’t fit it any more). Plus, a hugely fun photo shoot with Mel when we made the same pattern together.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Simone the First dress

Simone the First dress. Sure, the fit could definitely be improved, but I wasn’t really expecting to like this one all that much, as the style isn’t something I usually go for. But my gosh, this is fun to wear! It swirls and swishes out behind you as you walk, and makes you want to stride powerfully along. So, so much fun! Must make more of these….. (Yep, very much the surprise-to-me winner for the year!)

Retro Wrap skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Retro Wrap skirt

Retro Wrap skirt. Another vintage pattern, and the last make of the year – to me, this skirt signified my getting back to my love of vintage sewing, and also getting back into my own style post the arrival of the littliest guy. It was such a relief to sew this – almost felt like the shackles of maternity fit were being thrown off, and I could emerge again. (Yeah, sounds crazy, but that’s how it went.) Plus, I did good and took the time to hand stitch the facing down etc, which I’m usually lazy with. So, also signifies me moving into an era of taking my time more when making things and appreciating the little details.

And the biggest losers were:

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Skully Ensis tee

Skully Ensis tee. Love the tee, love the fabric, the colours don’t love me (which admittedly I was pretty sure would be the case when I was making it up, but I really wanted to use the skulls fabric). This one got given away to a friend.

Floral Floaty Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Floral Floaty Tanias

Floaty Floral Tanias. Heck knows what’s going on with that crotch seam, but it’s miles too high. Wearing these feels like a constant wedgie. Good times. Not.

Black Cake tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Black Cake tee

Black Cake tee. What on earth was I thinking with this one?!?! So totally not my style! I got the pattern in the Perfect Pattern Parcel, thought I’d try it out as a maternity top. Yeah. Made myself wear it once, felt like a gigantic tent, shuddered at the thought of wearing it again, gave it away as fast as I could. Ugh. *shudder*

Reflecting on sewing itself, I’ve kinda come to the following thoughts….

I have plenty of clothes. No really, I do. Sure, I love making more, love the pretties, and it’s fun to make and wear things, but there’s nothing I need. Not really. It’s not going to stop me making more things for myself (so much pretty fabric! So many pretty patterns! So much stash to work through (eek)!!), but I may start pushing myself to make the occasional thing for other people as well (Gasp! Selfless sewing?!? Idealism, but will it become reality..??)

The things I’ve made where I’ve taken the time to add the nice details (hand stitched invisible hems, nicely hand stitched facings, tape on the inside of hems, etc) make me really happy to wear. So it’s time I slowed down, and focussed more on including more of those little touches that make me proud and happy to wear what I’ve made. (Yes, I feel proud and happy to wear my creations anyway, but those take them up to the next level. True dat.)

I hate using thin pattern tissue. Like, really. And this is a key reason why I don’t sew with modern Big 4 patterns. I hate cutting it, I hate tracing it, and I sure as heck hate refolding it and trying to cram it back into pattern envelopes. There’s just nothing good in it. Nothing at all. So I actively avoid it. (And sadly this also means I’m actively avoiding using some of the lovely indie patterns I bought, as they use the same tissue. Sewaholic and Grainline, I’m looking at you guys in particular. I has the patterns, sitting there and waiting to be made, but I shudder every time I think about dealing with the pattern tissue. 😦 Vintage patterns? If they’re already cut, they’re all good. (Otherwise, I don’t use ’em.) Other indies, where they use thicker paper? (E.g. Named, Papercut, Deer & Doe) Yep, bring it on. (Interestingly, it turns out I hate working with thin pattern tissue far more than I dislike cutting and sticking together PDF patterns. Chances are there’ll be a bunch more PDF ones in my future. In fact, it’s almost kinda relaxing, assembling PDF patterns….)

Right, now let’s talk about knitting!

This was a new thing for me in 2014. I made my first cardigan! And then a second, and a third, and even a fourth. Woo hoo! I admit it – I avoided knitting for ages, thinking it’d be super boring and that I’d tire of things well before finishing them. I’m pleased to say I’ve proven myself wrong. I am a knitting convert, and now valiently trying to resist building a yarn stash to rival my fabric stash.

My first cardigan was the Autumn Playground Miette – I’m super proud of this because, hey, first cardgain! Woot!

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Autumn Playground Miette

But it doesn’t fit (rookie mistakes, lol) and I’m actually going to rip it apart and use the wool for something else.

But still – first cardigan! Yay! 🙂

I’m trying to learn something new with every knitting pattern I make, and so far that’s going well – lace work, picking up stitches to knit, cables, and working with different colours. So far I’ve only made patterns by Andi Satterlund, which is quite a cliched place to start, but I like her style and they’re working well for me. I’ll be branching out soon though – there’s a bunch of others in my Ravelry queue/favourites, and I’m also going to challenge myself to make a vintage 1940’s pattern this year as well. (Although I’m somewhat terrified at how long that will take, working with 4ply instead of 10ply!)

And what about other things?

I’m still co-hosting The Monthly Stitch, and enjoying it a lot, although I do feel a bit bad that I haven’t been as active in the challenges as I’d like. (Again, pregnancy, so lack of energy.) I’m hoping to get more going in The Monthly Stitch this year – we has plans, yes we do!

Changed jobs earlier in the year (in fact, I started my new job the week after I found out I was pregnant. Whoops! Not the best timing in the world!). I’m now working in the electricity sector, after having worked in finance for over 7 years. It’s kinda nice to be thinking about different things, and I’m working for a small start-up-like company, which is fun and frustrating at the same time, and surrounded by rather awesome people.

Started up Muse Patterns, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. In fact, I had planned to start it while on maternity leave with our first child, but then the reality of having a child sunk in and all hopes of doing anything else vanished. So this time, I made sure I launched before going on maternity leave, so the impetus was already there! I’m really happy with how Muse is going so far – I’ve always loved creating patterns, the technical aspect combined with the creative makes me happy, and it kinda ties together what I do for a living with my main hobby, as I get to think about and create experiences through developing instructions, etc. It’s been a while since I’ve done much with pattern making (since I discovered the joys of sewing with vintage patterns, in fact!) so it’s great to get back into that as well. Three patterns out so far, a fourth in the works, and four (nearly five!) more designed and waiting to be created. I’m hoping to be able to launch paper patterns this year, too, so we’ll see how it goes. One thing I’ve really enjoyed with Muse is being able to use it as a platform to give a little back, and that’s something that will continue.

And the biggest thing during 2014 (of course) – this little guy!


He’s awesome. Such a happy, chilled out little fellow. Good for lots of cuddles, lots of smiles, and loves watching his big brother whenever he can. The two boys have such completely different personalities – it’s going to be a lot of fun watching them grow and develop and seeing how they interact, how they do things differently, and who they turn out to be!

(Speaking of those personalities, sadly it turned out that the name we chose for our little guy didn’t suit who he is. So he’s had a name change – meet Fox! 🙂 (Cue X-Files and “What does the fox say” jokes.) His new name suits him a heck of a lot more, and also ties in with the inadvertant theme of animal names that we seem to have going on….

So yeah, there we have it. A quick (yet still ramblingly long!) look back at 2014, and a few comments on 2015. No real goals or the like, more general ideas of things I’d like to do. Sew more vintage; develop more patterns; create physical pattern experiences (i.e. paper patterns and the designing of an experience that goes with those, which is something that excites me a lot); start to knit vintage; and slow down the creating in order to focus on the details. I’m rather looking forward to it all. 🙂

2013 reflections (and a moment of sadness)

Yep, I know. It’s 14 January already, and I’m only just now getting around to doing my final reflections-on-2013 post. (Goal for 2014: get reflections on the year done faster….)

Anyway, here’s the last of the prompts from Gillian (who organises this wee round-up of insights), all grouped into one read. 🙂

Midsummer's Night Dream dress from Papercut

What I learnt in 2013

  • I enjoy my makes more if I’ve taken the time to add a few extra details, such as hem tape or covered buttons
  • Indie patterns are awesome!!
  • The discovery of the wonder tracing fabric – means I no longer hate tracing patterns
  • Making my own bias tape and piping isn’t as horribly painfully tedious as I thought it would be, and is actually kinda fun

La Sylphide dress Papercut patterns

My goals for 2014

  • Just keep doing what I enjoy doing! 🙂
  • Get those challenges done that I’m part-way through! Sewing dare (I haven’t forgotten, Ginger!) and Sew Bossy (likewise, Oona and Joy!)
  • Learnt to knit properly (i.e. actually make something that’s not just a peggy square). All those super-cute cardigans have been tempting me, yes indeed.


What was inspiring me in 2013

  • Indie pattern companies, especially Papercut (ethos and experience) and Cake (vision and passion)
  • Other sewing bloggers (naturally!), in particular
    • Mel – introducing me to indie patterns, full of enthusiasm, and always up for impromptu sewing-discussion breakfasts
    • Lladybird and Jo – knitting! Just started my first cardigan – eek!
    • Roisin – I love everything she makes. And in a way it kinda justifys my own love of crazy prints, quilting cottons, and bright colours


Overall reflections on 2013

  • I made 23 garments for myself (one is yet to be blogged about – soon, I promise!). And 6 garments for other lovely ladies (two yet to be blogged, due to being Christmas presents). Plus a bunch of things for the Little Guy, and baby trousers and toys to give away to charities. And some non-garment gifts, too. So, all around a pretty solid sewing effort in 2013. 😉
  • Less failures than previous years, so I must have been learning things as I go
  • Made more things for other people, which felt good but had it’s share of fitting challenges
  • Didn’t make as much for the Little Man as I wanted to, mainly because he didn’t need much!!
  • Completely failed at not adding to my stash (oops!)
  • And generally had lots of fun, met great people, and had an all-round pretty good sewing year! Yay!
  • 2013 makes pie chart

    So there we have it – a few final reflections on 2013.

    And now, I’d like to call for a minute of silence. A minute to remember a dear friend, who passed from my life a couple of weeks ago. It was kind of expected – they’d been faltering for a while, taking a bit longer to get up and running at times. But still, we never really expect it to happen, do we?

    Yes. I’m sad to say my laptop, she is dead.

    (Hence the late reflections post…..)

    I got her about 7 years ago. My very first laptop, even. I’d been debating about getting one for a while, and then I saw an ad for Dell, and their new coloured laptop range. I could get a pink laptop?!? Oh heck yes!!!

    She’s been with me ever since. Through thick and thin, through starting a blog and meeting awesome people online. Through late-night feedings of a new baby. On a couple of overseas trips. And now? She is gone. 😦

    And as a result, my blogging will be rather haphazard/non-existant until my new laptop arrives. I hear it’s shipped, so should be about another week *fingers crossed*

2013 reflections – top 5 hits and misses

Ah, the beginning of a new year. Perfect time to jump on the sewing reflections bandwagon led by Gillian, and have a look back over 2013’s crafting….

First up – the top 5 misses of 2013.

Starting with the biggest fail of all – my attempts at the Hummingbird peplum top.

It started with an ill-advised attempt at colour-blocking, which failed not only due to fitting issues, but also because the pale pink looks horrid on me, and colour-blocking at the waist really doesn’t work. At all.
Top fail | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
So I decided to try the pattern again, in a solid colour and with some fit adjustments.
Cupcake top | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Conclusion: this style just isn’t ‘me’ at all. I was being brave and trying something a bit different, and yeah. Fail. (On the plus side, the Cupcake one in purple looks great on my friend Gill!)

Next up – my Blackcurrant Tiramisu.
Blackcurrant Tiramisu | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
I’m rather sad about this one – I love how the fabric combination looks, and it should have been a clear winner for weekend casual wear. But by going down a size, the waist ended up higher, and the midriff starts on my boobs. Not a good look. *sad* I’m still considering making this one again – same size, but making the bodice the same length as the next size up (that I used for my first Tiramisu)….

And then, there was the Lovebirds dress.
Lovebirds dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
This one should have been a win – bright colours, quirky print, 1950’s pattern. Everything that I love! But it needs a bit of adjusting as it’s too big in the waist (not that that’ll be particularly hard to do). Main reason it’s a fail – I just don’t feel comfortable in it. The straight-skirted style seems more ‘dressy’ to me, and just doesn’t match the fabric. I’m gonna cut the skirt to just below the knee (instead of this 1950’s long length) and see if I can rescue it as a cute summer dress, because really, this should work!!

(Hmm. Turns out I only have the three fails for the year. Woo hoo!!)

And next – the top 5 hits of 2013!

One of my favourite, and most-worn makes of 2013 was my Birds of a Feather dress.
Birds of a Feather dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Made from a mash-up of two 1940’s patterns, this dress has been worn so many times! (Partially because the fabric doesn’t need ironed, unlike pretty much all my other dresses, so it’s perfect for wash-and-go days and for travelling in too.) I love it, it works for both summer and winter, and I get compliments on it pretty much every time I wear it, which is always a nice bonus. 😉

While it’s not on the most-worn list (it’s just a bit too much of a statement piece for that!), I’m super happy with my Corporate Hipster blazer.
Corporate Hipster Blazer | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
I love the cut, the style, the fabric, the way it’s lined, and the pattern was a delight to work with. It was such an enjoyable process making this (except maybe the bit where I’d nearly finished and then realised I’d forgotten to add the red piping around the collar. Much unpicking followed….), and I love the end result. (On a side note though, it turns out it doesn’t really go with anything in my wardrobe as I have a bit of a habit of using prints for pretty much everything, so I’m now working on a plain-colours wardrobe so I can wear the blazer more often. Coz you know, that’s the logical order to do things in, right?)

Another one that’s had a huge amount of wear, and gets quite a lot of compliments, is my Melissa dress.
Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Again, using a 1940’s pattern, I love wearing this. The pattern has such cute details, and hey, it’s got pockets! Always a great thing for a dress to have. 😉

Unexpectedly, a tshirt has made it onto my top-5 list for 2013. My 80’s Ensis tee, in fact.
80's Ensis Tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
I must admit that I wasn’t sure this pattern was really going to be for me when I first saw it, but I thought, what the heck, and gave it a go anyway. And this tshirt has been worn pretty much at least once a week since then. Great cut, fun colours, good length for wearing with jeans. Oh yeah, Ensis has my vote. Chances are you’ll be seeing another one or two in the future, just as soon as I get around to making ’em….

And last on the top 5 list is…. a baby sleeping bag!
Baby sleeping bag | Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Made way back at the start of the year, this thing definitely wasn’t my neatest or most stylish make ever, but my gosh was it useful! Our little guy slept in this pretty much every second night for the first half of this year. (The other nights, he was sleeping in one my friend Gina made him, that I took a pattern off for making this one.) I think this was probably my most useful make. Ever.

So there we have it folks – the top hits and misses (according to me, anyway) of my 2013 makes!

(PS I’m really enjoying reading everyone else’s lists of their reflections on 2013. So much fun to go back and revisit all the awesome things people have made! 🙂 )

Top 5 of 2012 – inspirations and goals

Top 5 of 2012


(Warning – this one’s a word-heavy post!)

Following on with the Top 5 of 2012 series created by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow, here are the top 5 bloggers I’ve been inspired by in 2012, and how they inspired me (all in quite different ways).

Top 5 inspirational bloggers for 2012

Steph from 3 Hours Past – created her own pattern company, how awesome and inspirational is that?!

The Dainty Squid – while not a sewing blog, Kaylah’s style and photography are gorgeous and colourful, and I love looking at her posts.

Did You Make That – Karen is so good at creating and strengthening the online sewing community through sew-alongs, fun post series, and general loveliness.

Ginger Makes – Ginger has to be one of the most (if not the most!) supportive bloggers out there!  Her comments (and replies to comments left on her blog) are little rays of sunshine she spreads around the blogosphere.  She’s always positive and happy and fun.

Lladybird – Lauren makes so many delightful creations! Her knitted garments in particular are inspiring me to actually get brave and pick up knitting needles for something more complicated than scarves.

Roisin from Dolly Clackett – those dresses! Those shoes!! I want them all!!! (It’s also nice seeing someone else make dresses from crazy prints – she looks fabulous in them, which gives me hope I don’t look too ridiculous in the ones I make!)

(Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s six. Too bad, they’re all awesome and I couldn’t leave any of them out!)

And now, to wrap up this yearly review series, it’s time to ponder…

my top 5 sewing related goals for 2013

(Eek! 2013!! What on earth is that doing, nearly being here already?!?! It sounds rather sci-fi futuristic, don’t you think? Craziness. Anyway….)

The last couple of years, I’ve been following along with the Sew Weekly. It was fantastic in 2011 for kick-starting my sewing mojo again (which had been languishing for a year or two, directionless and unloved) and also helping me figure out what to blog about – if it wasn’t for the Sew Weekly, this blog would never really have gotten off the ground, and I wouldn’t have discovered this amazing online sewing community, which quite frankly has been a bit life-changing. So, thank you, Mena and the Sew Weekly!

However, following along and trying to make one garment each week to a set theme has meant I’ve discovered various styles and eras I want to experiment with, but haven’t had a chance to do yet. So for 2013, I won’t be aiming for one garment a week. Instead, I’m going to focus on quality, rather than quantity. How am I going to do that? Like so…..

I’m going to take more time with sewing, and experiment with new-to-me techniques and finishes. I’m planning on tackling some of the projects from the Pattern Magic book. Getting back into drafting my own patterns. Reading some of the sewing books that are waiting impatiently in my bookcase for me to devote some time to them, and putting things I learn from them into practice. And improving my tailoring – I’ve got some 1940’s suit patterns, and I want to make them up beautifully! (I also want to start dabbling with quilting. I make so many dresses from quilting cotton, I think quilting will be a great way to use up the remnants from those.)

I want the insides of every garment I make to be beautiful. I’m getting a lot better at this, and the ones I line nicely and finish with hem tape etc always make me smile when I wear them. I want everything I make in 2013 to make me smile when I look at the insides, knowing there are details there that no one else is likely to ever see, but I know they’re there and they make me happy. Things like pretty lace binding the hems, french seams, and pretty coloured lining.

When I find vintage garments (which is far too rare, sadly) I love it when they have labels on them, so I can see if I can learn a bit of their history. I want to share that joy with anyone who may stumble across one of my creations years in the future (if they last that long! Isn’t that a nice thought though – that what we make now may become sought-after by our children in twenty years or so?). For a while, I’ve considered making labels to sew to the inside of every garment I make, with details such as – who made it, the year it was made, and if sewn from a pattern which pattern and which year the pattern was from. During 2013, I’m going to put those labels in all my garments, and I’m also going to work my way backwards and add them to past creations. Kind of like a little future-history project, just in case anyone wants to know at any point when I’m not around.

For the last two years, I’ve been very focussed on my own wardrobe, making things almost exclusively for myself. You know what? I don’t need much more. But that doesn’t mean I want to stop sewing. Instead, I’m aiming to give a bit back in 2013. I have hopes of making more for other people. I’ve also just started off a new project, which I’ve called Pieces of Us. It’s all about spreading a bit of crafty goodness and love around the world. For every garment I make, I’ll make a soft toy using some of the left over fabric. That toy will be given a name and a personality, and a post on the Pieces of Us blog. Then it’ll be sent out into the world, to find a new home. Some of them I’ll leave in playgrounds, with notes attached. Others will be given to community workers, to give to families who may not have much. Want to join in? The more the merrier! Go on – lets spread a bit of crafty love around the world, and use up some of our fabric scraps at the same time! 😉

I’m going to get brave, and pick up those knitting needles and try knitting myself a cardigan or two. *gulp* This scares me a bit, if I’m being honest. It seems like a lot of work, and no guarantee of success. It’s time to face that fear, and learn to knit properly! (Wish me luck with that one. Eek!)

I also have a few other goals, which I won’t go into in as much depth. But just to summarise, they are:

  • Not to buy any new ready-to-wear garments I can make myself. This will be the third year of this goal, and it’s working very well for me.
  • Not buy any more fabric (unless it’s fundraiser fabric from Fabric-a-brac). Seriously, I have far too much and really need to make at least a small dent in my stash before I add to it. It really is threatening to take over the house.
  • Get better at photography – both being in front of and behind the camera. I keep seeing gorgeous photos on blogs, and I want to get better and create gorgeous photos myself.
  • Look more polished. Which generally comes down to – do better things with hair styles and actually wear make up at times. Roobeedoo did a good post the other day on the image of the working woman. I often wonder how my look may be impacting my career progression. I’m not going to change my style, but I can make it look more “polished”. (Plus, I have all this pretty make up, I really should start using it!)

Gosh, that all sounds like quite a bit when written down, doesn’t it?!? But still, thinking about it all has me very excited for my next year of sewing and creating. Very excited! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to plan my next project…..!

Top 5 of 2012 – lessons learnt

Top 5 of 2012

Following on with the Top 5 of 2012 series created by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow, here are the top 5 lessons (about sewing) I’ve learnt in 2012, in no particular order.

Lesson one – Read pattern instructions. Seriously. Two of my failures this year were because I didn’t bother reading the pattern instructions first. It’s not like it would have taken a lot of time to read them, either. Must. Slow. Down.


Lesson two – What works for pregnancy and breastfeeding. (Breastfeeding was the hardest one to get my head around, surprisingly!) My conclusions – the 1970’s had it pretty good when it came to preggy patterns, with those loose shift dresses. Although I preferred to wear them belted above-bump to add a little bit of shape to them! And as for breastfeeding? Centre-front zips are awesome.


Lesson three – I can’t believe it took me so long to learn about these, but pattern weights and a rotary-cutter-and-board combo are awesome. Fact. They must have saved me so much time this year, and they’re so easy (and fun!) to use. I used to hate cutting out fabric – it was my most-hated part of the sewing process. (Well, to be fair, my absolutely most-hated part is cutting out the pattern. All that easily-torn paper. Gah. That’s actually one of the reasons I use vintage patterns – they’re often pre-cut! And if they’re not, I put them in the too-hard basket and find something else to make instead. Yes, I hate cutting pattern pieces that much. *hangs head in shame*.) Anyway, now that I have a rotary cutter and cutting mat, I don’t hate the cutting-out process any more – so much better than pins and scissors! If you haven’t tried it (and using pattern weights, too), I very strongly encourage you to give it a go. It’ll change your life. True story.

Lesson four – While I got into vintage styles through the allure of the 1950’s, I’m now more and more attracted to the tailoring of the 1940’s. Expect to see more of this in the future. (Is this a sign I’m “growing up”??)

Lesson five – I hate ironing. (This, however, is something I’ve known for quite some time now.)  My ironing pile grows and grows, until I have no choice but to iron a small part of it. Then it grows some more. But, I’m happy enough to break out the iron to press while sewing. So I’ve learnt to incorporate chores into fun times – now when I need to press something I’m working on, I have to iron one item from my ironing pile before I can press. Sure, I never quite get rid of that ironing pile, but it no longer threatens to topple over and suffocate me whenever I open the wardrobe door. Progress!

Lesson six – What works and what doesn’t with babies clothing (and gifts for baby showers etc). I’ve never really know what to make people – what would they find useful? Now, I know. (Knit fabric trousers, cardigans, burp cloths, play mats and sleeping bags, in case you’re interested.)

Sure, there are six lessons there, but I couldn’t decide which one to take out. 😉

Top 5 of 2012 – the misses

Following on with the Top 5 of 2012 series being hosted by Gillian over at Crafting a Rainbow, here’s the top 5 misses I’ve had with my sewing this year.

Which is a bit sad to look back at in a way – the loss of fabric and time and creative hopes. (Although lets be honest here – it’s mainly the loss of fabric and all the potential it had that’s sad. *cry a little tear for fabric hopes lost*) But hey, every failure is an opportunity to learn, right?! So, here goes – the top 5 misses of 2012.

The ‘Didn’t read the instructions’ miss – the gingham shirt
Um, yeah. No excuses here, really. I have a rather terrible habit of launching myself into a new project, without pre-reading the instructions. If I had, I would have realised a bit sooner (i.e. before I started, rather than when I was more than half finished) that the button placket on this is decorative only. I.e. not fit for my intended purpose for it. I also committed my other usual sewing sin and didn’t try it on as I went – far too short, and that neckline won’t even fit over my head. (Heck knows how they managed to get it on in the 1940s?!?) I plan to rescue this though – making the button placket functional and adding some length.

The ‘Poor fabric choice’ miss – the Sunshine Slip
A lovely light silk/cotton blend seems perfect for lingerie, right? Yeah, not so much. That cotton part of the fabric, well, it clings to other fabric. Which is not a good property to have in a slip. This fabric also had a heck of a lot of stretch along the bias, which made it a right pain in the butt to sew. This never even got worn, which is a shame as I love the colour. May have to cut it up and see if I can use the fabric in a lightweight top.

The ‘Really should learn to read instructions first’ miss – the Honey Vegas dress
The "Honey Vegas" Dress
Um, yeah. Maternity dress failure. I saw the pattern envelope, with girls wearing lovely flowing muu muus, and thought “a-ha! Perfect maternity dress style that I can belt to wear again afterwards!”. Not so much. Once again, half way through the project I discovered this is actually quite a fitted style, with a loose bit at the back to give that drapey effect. (Although I am hoping to get some wear out of this next summer!)

The ‘Poor fabric choice’ miss #2 – the Hey, Baby! dress
Heck knows what I was thinking when I got this fabric. It’s so not me at all – not my colour, not my type of print, and definitely not my type of fibre. Sheer yet kinda stiff at the same time, I had to underline it. And that stiffness didn’t work at all with this style dress. Nor did the neckline work on me, being a bit too high. I hated it whenever I wore it. Oops. Heck knows what I’m going to do with it now.

The ‘Poor fabric choice’ miss #3 – the Pixie skirt
This was actually a reincarnation of one of my 2011 failures – the Green Is Green dress. The heavy cotton drill I chose was too stiff for the original dress, so I tried to rescue it by turning it into a skirt. Which just didn’t fit me right, and I didn’t love it, so I gave it away to a friend who did love it. At least this one has found a happy home.

Clearly, there are two main lessons I should have learnt this year – choose fabric wisely, and read the pattern instructions before starting a project. Not sure if I’ve really learnt that first one all that well yet – it’s not uncommon for me to pick a fabric and think “hmmm, not sure if this will work…. oh what the heck, I’ll try it anyway!” and just go for it. That may never change.

Reading the instructions first though? Might have to be a 2013 resolution…..

Top 5 of 2012 – the hits

Have you seen the Top 5 of 2012 series being hosted by Gillian over at Crafting a Rainbow? (Which, by the way, is a fabulous title for a blog, I reckon.) Basically, it’s a time to reflect on the past year of creating, and look at the year ahead.

So, here goes – my first Top 5 of 2012 post – my favourite creations.

The one I’m most proud of – the All Buttoned Up dress

All Buttoned Up dress
Made from a 1940’s pattern, I did my first fully hand-stitched hem, and fabric-covered buttons. Those details make me smile whenever I look at it, and when it fits me (hopefully it will again in a couple of months!) it’s on high rotation in my wardrobe.

The most-worn-during-pregnancy one – the Generations dress

The "Generations" Dress
Turns out these 1970’s shift-dress styles are super-comfy when pregnant! Along with the Bookworm dress (made from the same pattern), this was worn heaps during my pregnancy.

The classic basics one – the Powder Room PJs

The Powder Room PJs

Made during the Pajama Party sew-along, hosted by Karen of Did You Make That, I love these PJs. I made two pairs this year, these and the Turkey Pajamas, and they’re my two favourite pairs of PJs. (Note to self: must make more….)

The unexpected favourite – the Braveheart dress


To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to like this dress all that much. It’s not my usual style, fabric, or colour. (I made it as an early-days-of-pregnancy dress, before we told everyone we were expecting, but most of my fitted-waist dresses were already too tight!) But you know what? Turns out I love it! Everything about it, and until I got too round for it, it was on high rotation in my wardrobe as well.

The end-of-year favourite – the Gingham-To-Go shirt


I faced another wardrobe challenge after the little boy arrived, and I had to figure out what I could wear that a) provided easy access to certain areas, b) actually fitted at the moment, c) I liked to wear, and d) would hopefully be wearable as my body changes size. The Gingham-To-Go shirt was the first garment I made that met all those criteria! I wear it at least once a week, and you’re likely to see this pattern cropping up again very soon.

So there we have it – my top 5 creations for 2012. Quite a mix, since they run the gamut of my “normal” size, pregnancy garb, and breastfeeding-friendly styles! The funny thing is, if I hadn’t had a baby this year half of these garments wouldn’t even have been made, and yet here they are, in the top 5. Life’s funny sometimes. 🙂