Denim shorts for little dudes

Wow, this was rather unexpected! I actually made more things for the little dudes! (Yep, that’s right – it’s another kids-clothing post. But at least there’s a vintage pattern in here, too!)

Since we’ve finally got some summer weather here, the little dudes are going through several changes of clothes a day due to lots of playing with water and sand at daycare. More shorts were in order, fast! (So naturally, I made them some. Surprise!)

First up was a pair for the Little Man. Sorting through my pattern stash, I pulled out Butterick 2122, from 1961. The pattern is for both a shirt and pair of trousers/shorts, however sadly my copy is missing all the pieces for the shirt! 😦

Butterick 2122

I made the shorts length up using a mid-light weight denim from Minerva Crafts (all the supplies for both pairs of shorts came from Minerva). Just for fun (because the Little Man adores trains) I added a train patch on the back.

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Carrying on the train theme, I used a train track printed quilting cotton for the pockets. (I omitted the pocket facings as I wanted the train track fabric to show through to make the Little Man smile.)

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Oddly enough, the pattern has a real zipper fly in it – complete with fly facing. Why is that odd, you may ask? Well, the instructions call for you to do a proper fly insertion, then to stitch it closed at the top!!! Yes, that’s right – all the effort of inserting a zipper fly, only to immediately make it non-functional. I have no idea why on earth they thought that was a good idea. (Needless to say, I ommitted the fly and just did a faux fly instead. Same look, far less hassle.)

I made them in a size 4, which is about half a size too big for the Little Man at present, hence why they’re looking a bit big on him. Give him another couple of months and they’ll fit fine. πŸ˜‰

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(For those curious, in that last photo he tripped over and then decided it would be fun to lie there digging in the dirt for a while. Cue overhead shot.)

For the Littliest Dude, I pulled out a pattern I’ve used several times before – Simplicity 3766.

Another super simple pattern – it consists of only two pattern pieces. A combined front/back piece (no outer side seam on the legs!), and a guide for cutting the elastic for the waist. Easy!

These were made up in the same denim, and for fun I used a playground print quilting cotton for panels along the legs.

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I also added a little length of seam binding to the back inside waistband, so it’s possible to tell which way around they go!

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I cut these ones at a long shorts length – long enough to cover the knees (a bit of protection for the inevitable falling over), while cooler to wear than full length trousers. And just like the other pair, they’re a little bit too big as I made them in the 18 months size.

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Always fun trying to get decent photos of small creatures. “Hey what’s that you’ve got there? Can I have it? Give me give me give me that camera!!!”

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

“What’s this? An Elna Supermatic?!? Let me at it!!”

Denim shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Buzzy Bees in the summer time

I had a very exciting moment over the weekend. I tried on one of my old dresses, and…. it fit!!!

And then I tried on some more. And they fit, too! I could get the zips done up and everything!!! For the first time in over four years (i.e. pre-babies). Very happy times!! Because I’ll admit it – I’ve been missing my wardrobe…!

Which meant I also got to drag one of my all-time favourite dresses out of the wardrobe to see the light of day for the first time in over four years. My Buzzy Bee 1940’s dress. Yippie! πŸ˜€

Buzzy Bees dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made this dress way waaaaay back when. Finished it on 27 January, 2009 in fact. Which was before I started blogging, so it’s never been posted on here. So here you go – a not-new-but-not-seen-before-on-the-blog dress.

This dress was my very first forey into vintage patterns. It’s made using Butterick 5214, a reproduction pattern from 1947 (now out of print).

The dress features an unusual front neckline, a halter neck (meant to fasten with a button but I stitched it closed as I could get it over my head easily anyway), and double angled darts on the bodice front. The bodice is lined (in my case, in a yellow poplin).

Buzzy Bees dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The skirt has four gores, and a side seam-pocket on one side only. The dress fastens with a zip on the other side seam.

Buzzy Bees dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I loved making this dress, and I love wearing it too! I always meant to make another one (in fact, I got part-way through making a second years ago, before realising the fabric just wasn’t quite right for me). Maybe now I’ll finally get around to it. πŸ˜‰

Buzzy Bees dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Confession time: this was before I learnt to start paying attention to pattern placement. And I must admit that I wince a little at the bodice placement these days. (But not enough to not wear the dress, hah! My tolerance is quite high for that sort of thing I suspect.)

Buzzy Bees dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Also – despite how it looks in a couple of photos, it does actually sit level. I think I may have accidentally tugged it down when putting my hand in the pocket. Or maybe it was a result of my little photobomber and his Minions pajamas… πŸ˜‰

Buzzy Bees dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(For those non-Kiwis out there, the Buzzy Bee is a bit of a national icon for us. It’s a very popular and common childhood toy – it’s a pull-along toy made of wood, with wings that go around when you pull it. There’s a little metal thing in the base that runs over a cog to make clicking sounds so it sounds a bit like a bee buzzing when it’s pulled along. The faster you pull it, the more like buzzing it is! So much fun. πŸ™‚

PJs, PJs, PJs and…. more PJs

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I made him a pair of Minions pajama pants for Christmas. πŸ™‚

Minions pajama pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Minions pajama shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

A red pair with pirate flags.

Pirate shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Fish shorts | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Both in quilting cotton.)

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

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


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

Anyway, sewing duty for small person achieved – back to the regular schedule of sewing pretty dresses! πŸ˜‰

Big ideas for 2016

Woo hoo! It’s 2016!!

And as per usual, I have lots and lots of plans. πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜‰ 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 aΒ 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. πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜€

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 organisationΒ 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! πŸ™‚

Summer is for strawberry milkshakes

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

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

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

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Sylvie dress by Christine Haynes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Another change – pockets! I added simple in-seam pockets to each side seam. πŸ™‚

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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. πŸ˜‰

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!! πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚ (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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰

Happy New Year, everyone!

Summer Dreaming dress (vintage 1950's pattern)

Summer Dreaming dress (vintage 1950’s pattern)

Mustard Mustang Ranges

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip

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

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

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

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

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Mulled Wine vintage slip | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Sew Indie NZ is here! Yay!

Here’s one for all of your New Zealand based stitchers – I’ve just launched Sew Indie NZ, a new online pattern store, dedicated to bring independent designers to New Zealand!

Let’s face it – international postage costs can be a real killer. (Sometimes it costs as much to get a pattern sent here as it does to actually buy the pattern in the first place!) So if you’re only wanting one or two patterns, it can be hard to justify. But not any more! Now you can get a bunch of patterns by fabulously talented designers from all around the world, right here in good ol’ Aotearoa. Yay!

All the patterns are the designers retail price, only listed in NZ dollars. (No more currency conversion fees and international transaction fees! Yay!) Postage is at New Zealand rates, and free if you buy two or more patterns. Plus, everything is sent via tracked courier, delivered super fast right to your door.

The full ranges by Cashmerette, Closet Case Patterns and Sew House 7 are instore now. Plus designs from Pauline Alice, Colette and Christine Haynes are on their way too! I’ll be looking to add more designers every couple of months, so if you’re based in NZ and want to know what’s coming in, you can sign up to the newsletter or the Facebook page. I’m focussed on bringing in designs that we don’t already have easy access to here in NZ – if there are any that you’d really like to see, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Why am I doing this, you may ask? Well, I love indie designers – I appreciate that we’ve got such a great range of designers and styles to choose from, and how much passion and work they put into what they do. So I really want to help make them more accessible for people here – after all, more choice is great for all of us, right? πŸ˜‰

(As with Muse news, I won’t post about Sew Indie NZ very much over here, as I know those who read this blog (I still get amazed on a regular basis that people read my blog, haha!) are here to read about what I make, not the other stuff. So if you do want to keep on top of what’s going on with Sew Indie NZ, do go and sign up to the newsletter, or the Facebook page, or follow the blog over there. πŸ™‚

Strawberry season!

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Why the preamble? Well, strawberries! The common link. πŸ˜‰

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes