The Sophie cardigan pattern

So here’s what I’ve been working on lately – the newest pattern for Muse. This one’s called Sophie.

Because I love cardigans, it’s another cardigan pattern. A more casual style than the Jenna – it’s semi fitted, sitting at the high hip, and has raglan sleeves (which gives fun options for colour blocking).

There are three neckline variations to choose from – a classic round neck, a wide flat collar, and a v neck (which was actually the key reason I made this pattern – because the muse who inspired it, the lovely Sophie-Lee, had been asking me to make a v neck cardigan pattern for a while. ;-)

There are other variations to mix and match with as well. Two pocket options (classic patch pockets, or inset pockets with a curved pocked opening), and a choice of button up or zip up front.

Lots of ways to mix and match!

And like the other Muse pattern releases, the first weeks sales (less bank fees) are all getting donated to charity – this time, the St John ambulance and emergency services.

Plus you can get 15% off between now and 27 July – just use the code ‘HELLOSOPHIE’ at checkout.


(We got some photos of my newest knitted jumper while we were taking the photos of the Sophie pattern, so I’ll have a blog post up about that in the next few days. Spoiler alert – it’s warm and snuggly and I likes it. ;-)

Introducing Badge_Sophie

A few new-old patterns

I’ve got a few things to post about, in various stages of works-in-progress. Finished garments that need photographed, photos that need a post written to go with them, and various plans and ideas waiting to even be started.

But at the moment, I’m in the whirlwind of the final stages of the next Muse project. So all the rest is just going to have to wait while I sew up sample garments and things like that. Life kinda happens like that sometimes.

In the meantime though, I thought I’d share these little treasures that made their way into my collection today. Had to go out to Lower Hutt to do some research, and we had 10 minutes to kill before our appointment. There happened to be a Hospice op shop (second hand shop, for the non-Kiwis) right next door, so we headed in there to kill time out of the cold air. Naturally, I made a bee-line right for the patterns. ;-) And here’s what I came home with, for the grand sum of $1 each. (With very little thought – I didn’t have time to look at them properly, it was a bit of a grab-anything-interesting-and-run-to-appointment moment, haha!)




Isn’t this one fabulous?!? I just couldn’t leave it behind. The artwork! So 80’s!! (Plus, it has the potential to be an extremely useful pattern. Underwear in various styles, for both genders and all ages from 2 upwards! Plus singlets!! For both me and th’ little guys. From the same pattern. Crazy but true!





Another vintage lingerie one, also from the 80’s. A princess seamed slip. I even have fabric to use for this one. :-)





Couldn’t resist this one either – how cute is that yoke with the button detail? From 1976.





And here’s where I started grabbing knitting patterns, mainly for my mummy who loves them. (Hi mum! If you’re reading this, let me know which of the knitting patterns you want. ;-)
This one is quite simple – turns out the decorative parts are embroidered on afterwards. For little little people.




This is rather adorable – a book of patterns, and the captions beneath the images in it tell lovely little stories. One example from page 3: “All good castles have cobbled courtyards with green grass growing between the stones. All good toddlers deserve a zipper jacket with fashioned raglan sleeves..” Super cute. And some cute patterns in it, too.




How could I leave this behind? Gotta love that front cover image!
(Turns out there’s a couple of cute patterns in it, too. Including some for kids. And that zip-up cardigan on the front cover holds quite a bit of potential, don’t you think?)




This girls expression does not give the impression she is at all happy with her jumper. In fact, she kinda looks like something from a Stephen King book-turned-movie…. Hmmmm…..

Turns out this one isn’t actually a book of patterns – it’s a book of charts for patterns. Including a dog, a rabbit, and a ski-er (of all things?!?)



All together now: cuuuuutttteee!!!! Bunnies! Trains!! And… dancing sailors?!?! Huh. I guess they kinda fit with the ski-er in the other pattern book….? Still, I want these! (Mum – just for reference, the trains are a size 2 and the rabbits are a size 3. ;-)


IMG_1930Simple and basic baby ones. Just because it was there. Plus, yellow. And kimono style.


So there we have it – a few new-old patterns to add to my collection. Not that I needed them, but hey – you would have done the same, right?! ;-)

Which is your favourite? I have quite a soft spot for grumpy-faced-girl, haha!


Mushrooms and cornflowers amongst the trees

Went for a walk the other weekend, with my lovely friend Nikki. We both had outfits to photograph, it was a beautiful day – seemed like a good excuse to head up to Truby King gardens for fresh air and photos-for-blogs.

Plus, my new dress is green and has mushrooms on it. Dresses like that deserve to be photographed amongst trees, don’t you think?

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This pattern-and-fabric combination came about as a result of the 0 Degrees of Sewing Separation Challenge that the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network did. Jen, Mel and I decided to create links between our projects – Jen and I both had this mushrooms cotton, Mel and I both had the Bleuet dress from Deer & Doe. As you can see, I was the link between their two projects. :-)

linked dresses

(You can read all about Mel’s Bleuet dress here, and Jen’s mushrooms Alameda dress here.)

(‘Bleuet’ means ‘cornflower’ in French, in case you’re wondering where cornflowers fit into this story.)

Funny story about this fabric – Jen discovered it at a Fabric-a-brac event a while ago – it was the only length of it there, and we’d never seen it anywhere else. Naturally, she snapped it up superfast.

Then a couple of months after that, our parents went on holiday to the States, and mum bought us both back two lengths of fabric for our birthdays. And one of the two lengths she gave Jen was… the mushrooms cotton! Seriously, what are the chances?!? Anyway, Jen and I switched fabric – I got the mushrooms (because – ‘shooms!) and Jen got a cotton with pirates and skulls on it (which she’s planning on turning into a dress. Because, dresses.)

Anyway, we now have dresses in the same fabric – wheeee!!!

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This is the second time I’ve made the Deer & Doe Bleuet dress. The first time was in a lightweight stretch denim, and gets worn quite a bit. I did several of the same alterations for this one, and added a couple more as well. This time ’round, I:

  • Lengthened the skirt by a lot (I forget how much – maybe 10cm or possibily a bit more?)
  • Did a small bust adjustment and removed 4cm in total from the bust
  • Added 2cm to the width of the sleeve cuff (last time they were a little bit too tight)
  • Spaced the buttons further apart than the pattern called for (because really, I didn’t want to do that many button holes! Plus my buttons are quite large so suit the wider spacing more)
  • Only interfaced one side of the collar and collar stand
  • Didn’t interface the sleeve cuffs
  • And I stitched a spare button onto the seam allowance of the skirt – it’s a habit I’m trying to get into, in case a button gets lost at some point, as it means I’ll always have a replacement one handy.

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I wanted to pipe the princess seams of the dress, so that they stand out a bit. Otherwise, they’d get completely lost in this print. After a bit of debate (there were quite a few colours to choose from that could have worked) I went with a soft grey for contrast. (My sister used a dark brown on her dress for contrast, so you can see how they both look against the ‘shrooms.)

I used the same grey for the bow in the back.

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And for the sleeve cuffs.

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And also for the inside of the collar stand, which I slip-stitched down by hand along the bottom edge. I spent a while trying to decide whether to use it for the outside of the collar stand as well, but decided to use the ‘shrooms for the outside, and the grey for the inside for a little pop of contrast.

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Haha I chuckle when I use the word ‘pop’ these days. A friend/colleague of mine who is a designer utterly hates that word. It may be creeping into my vocabulary more often than usual as a result. Coz I’m a terrible person like that sometimes.)

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The ‘shrooms are directional, so I had to think a bit when cutting out the collar – which way to put them? I went with having them upright at the back collar. Wanna see something I’m pretty amazed by? Check out that pattern matching on the back collar – some of those mushrooms line up perfectly with the ones on the back bodice, making perfectly complete little ‘shrooms across both sections. Yippie! Totally intentional, of course. (Hah!)

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The inside is finished simply with overlocked/serged seams. Rather than pressing the princess seams open, I finished both sides of the seam allowance as one and pressed to the side. The hem is done with Hug Snug and a machine blind hem.

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And, you know. ‘Shrooms dress, in the woods. Gotta pretend to be a ‘shroom, right?

Mushrooms Bleuet | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Big thanks to Nikki for taking all the garment photos. Thanks, Nikki! :-) (Here’s her outfit that we took photos of at the same time, if you’re interested.)

sitting on log

Here’s a few photos I took up at Truby King, just to round things off. I love it up there – tumbling bricks, massive rhododendrons, tall trees and all.

white flowers


blue flowers




road and wall

A me-made-May retrospective

Yep, I know – May was a while ago now. Turns out I have quite a few posts I haven’t managed to find the time to write yet! June tends to be a bit crazy, with Indie Pattern Month on the go. (Plus, I may have been working on the next Muse pattern – got it sent away to be digitised yesterday, yippie! So now I’m taking a breather from it to play with other things. Like this blog. And some knitting. And sewing something, just for me. Yay!)

Anyway, it turns out I took part in me-made-May again. I didn’t really do a pledge thing this time – my wardrobe choices are quite limited due to the littliest guy, plus I wear mainly me-made anyway. Instead, I did a little secret pledge just-to-myself to take a photo each day of my outfit. Pretty much just out of curiousity, so I can document it to look back on in about a year when I’m back to wearing the full range of my wardrobe again. For me, that’s proven to be one of the most interesting things about taking part in me-made-May – having the ability to go back and see what my day-to-day style was in previous years.

So, here we go – my outfits during May 2015! (Be prepared for a lot of button-up dresses and cardigans. They’re basically my uniform these days. Hah!)

1 to 4 May 2015

1 Maybrown linen Melissa dress, Hetty cardigan.
2 MayGumnut Babies Wenona dress (first outing for the Wenona dress – yay!), grape Coppelia cardi (not shown, but you’ll see it later in the month). Worn to Fabric-a-brac, where the lovely Mel and I shared a table and had lots of fun.
3 May 70’s floral wrap skirt, grape Coppelia cardi. An unusually empty space of wall – photo taken while we were rearranging furniture to fit my new Large Format Printer (eeek! Yeahh!!) into my sewing room (woo hoo!!!)
4 MayBirds of a Feather 1940’s dress, Miette cardigan. The first photo of many taken in the mirror of the “gym” (aka table tennis room) at work.

5 to 8 May

5 MayLoganberry Coppelia wrap dress, me-made cardigan. And part of our hall way.
6 MayBeatrice 1950’s dress, cat lady Jenna cardi. And part of my bedroom haha.
7 MayRock-a-Birdy Bleuet, Strawberry Coppelia.
8 May – Hungry Caterpillar skirt, Southern Plaid tshirt, knitted-by-my-mother chunky grey cardi.

9 to 13 May

9 MayHummingbirds and Clover dress, Miette cardigan. First family trip with the littliest guy! We went down to Dunedin for a long weekend to visit my family. This photo was taken outside my parents place in Evansdale.
10 MayMelissa dress, Hetty cardigan. Plus my mother, nana, and the littliest guy. Mothers day! We went out for coffee and cake at the cafe in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens (along with my grandad, who took the photo). I don’t get to see my grandparents nearly often enough, so it was lovely to spend some time sitting and chatting with them. (Also, moments like this remind me that yes, I am tall. Hah! I tend to forget until I see photographic evidance.)
11 MayHummingbirds and Clover dress and Hetty cardigan. Not photographed, because they’re on a memory card in a different camera and I can’t be bothered finding it. Sorry, not sorry. Anyway, Steve and I left the kids with my parents and went to visit Larnach Castle, and have high tea! And one of these days I’ll get around to writing a post about that, so you’ll get to see the outfit then, if you’re particularly interested.
12 MayMellow Yellow La Sylphide dress, Miette cardigan. (Duffle coat from Max. I wore my snails Rigel bomber pretty much every day for the first week and a half of May, then it needed a wash. It’s still in my ironing pile. Ahem.) Flew back to Wellington today – photo was taken while waiting for our luggage to come out. Note to self: evening flights with small people are Not A Good Idea.
13 MayBirds of a Feather 1940’s dress, knitted-by-my-mother 1940’s cardigan. And my socks, since I’d just put the Little Guy to bed. Plus part of our constantly-messy lounge.

14 to 17 May

14 May – Hungry Caterpillar skirt, purple merino fitted tee, Bird Heart Bonnie sweater. Back to work, yes indeed.
15 May – vintage 1970’s dress (not me made! Note to self: must do ironing more often. Coz I had run out of things to wear, whoops!), black merino Jenna cardi (not blogged – was one of the samples I made when creating the pattern).
16 MayPigeon skirt, made-by-my-mother 1940’s cardigan. And the outdoor bath at Sandra’s place, when we went for her housewarming. Sunset, hence the odd sky colour.
17 MayMellow Yellow La Sylphide, Marion cardigan.

18 to 21 May

18 May floral Dakota dress, nursing singlet (not me-made), striped Jenna cardi (made by my sister).
19 MayGothic Mystery 1950’s dress (it’s first outing! Exciting!), cat lady Jenna cardi.
20 MayMellow Yellow La Sylphide, Miette cardi.
21 MayBeatrice 1950’s dress, Marion cardi.

22 to 25 May

22 Mayfloral Dakota dress, nursing singlet (not me-made), Hetty cardigan. Pink day at work, to raise awareness for the annual anti-bullying campaign! Yep, that’s raspberry Foxton Fizz, and a cupcake holder filled with salted caramel popcorn. Yum!
23 MayGothic Mystery dress, Jenna cardi (again, an unblogged one. It was another sample made while creating the pattern.) High Tea at The Little Teapot cafe in Kilbirnie with the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network girls and our special guest – Penny from Dresses & Me! Yay!! So much fun!!! :-)
24 MayGumnut Babies Wenona dress, brown merino me-made cardi. And part of my sewing/work room (which doubles as a guest room).
25 MayAll Buttoned Up 1940’s dress, 1940’s cardigan knitted by my mother. Again, photo taken after putting kids to bed, so in my socks. Hah.
26 May – forgot to take a photo. Ugh. Anyway, wore my Rock-a-Birdie Bleuet dress with the grape Coppelia cardi. Both of which you’ve seen here before in this round up.

27 to 30 May

27 MayGumnut Babies Wenona dress, Miette cardigan. And a hotel room! My first night away from the Littliest Guy, and my first decent nights sleep in over a year. (Ugh.) Went to the Customer 3.1 conference in Auckland. Presented at it, too. Twice in fact – I couldn’t decide on a topic, so did both. Hah. And yes, I wore a dress covered in gumnut babies to present at a conference. Coz that’s how I roll.
28 May 1940’s dress, crazy cat lady cardigan. And a lift at the Pullman hotel where I was staying. Day 2 of the conference.
29 MayMelissa dress, wrap-around cardi knitted by my mother.
30 MayRock-a-birdie Bleuet dress, wrap-around cardi knitted by my mother.

31 May

31 MayBirds of a Feather 1940’s dress, Marion cardi. The last day! Woot! No more selfies, thankfully!!!

So yep, there we have it. A month in outfits.

Lots of dresses, lots of cardigans. Lots of knee high boots and long socks or tights, because it was rapidly heading into winter and I get cold easily. Hence also why hand-knitted cardians featured a lot.

I love dresses. So easy in the morning – just need to throw a cardi on over the top, no need to find other things to match. Also easy at this stage in my life, when I’m losing the last bit of post-baby tummy, which means skirts and trousers don’t fit very well. (Yes, I do actually own some trousers. They don’t get worn much. If at all.)

Somewhat embarrasing fact: I actually have several dresses that I can and do wear at the moment that didn’t feature this month. The reason why? They were too far down my ironing pile/mountain and didn’t make it to the top. *hands head in shame* Yeah, full time job and two small kids – ironing doesn’t happen often enough. Let’s face it – I’d rather be sewing. ;-)

Melissa in polka dot chambray

It’s a funny thing, but I always feel a little odd, posting about something I’ve made using one of my own patterns. It’s quite a New Zealand type thing, really – we’ve got this phenomenon over here called Tall Poppy Syndrome, and the flip side of it is that we all tend to be almost painfully reluctant to talk about things we’ve done that we’re proud of. Crazy but true. And you see it evidenced everywhere. People downplaying achievements, brushing off compliments, pointing out things they didn’t do so well to take the focus off things they did do well. You even see it in companies hiding awards in cupboards, embarrassed to be seen putting them out on display. We’re a shy, self-deprecating bunch over in this corner of the world.


And I’m very much from New Zealand. Which means, I’m not particularly good about talking about things that I’ve done, either. Turns out the main way it shows up here is when I make something with one of my own patterns – I feel a strong reluctance to talk about it, a fear that it would be seen as self-congratulatory, boasting, or similar. Yep, I feel kinda embarrassed to show that I like my own pattern enough to use it to make myself things. Silly, isn’t it?!?

I figured a way to try to counter that, for one post at least, is to combine a garment I want to make with a Minerva Network post. (Clearly, it’s not going so well so far, since I felt a compelling urge to put that disclaimer at the start. Hah!)

So today, here’s a new Melissa dress that I’ve made.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyway, ever since I made my brown linen Melissa dress, I’ve been wanting to make myself another one. I wear that one all the time (as evidenced during Me Made May, a round-up post of which I’ll get up on here sometime soon!). The idea of a polka dotted one in particular was stuck in my mind.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And then, when I was happily procrastinating by browsing the Minerva fabric selection, I came across this beauty – a polka dotted chambray! Woo hoo!! Perfect.

I had one heck of a time deciding which colour way to use though. Indigo? Sky blue? Argh! Both so pretty! In the end I went with the sky blue, even though it’s a lighter colour than what I’m usually drawn to. A key reason I chose this one was because of the fabric I wanted to use as the contrast inset at the back. You see, I’d spotted this pretty cotton crochet-look lace, and got to wondering how it would look for the contrast. A lace v inset? Hmmm…..

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyway, the sky blue seemed to fit with the lace better, so sky blue it was. ;-)

I’m really happy with how the lace looks on the back inset – I think it adds a fun and pretty touch.

vee inset being sewn

The sleeve cuffs required a bit of thought though. The cuffs are made by making two identical bands, sewing them right sides together, then flipping them out wards. The seams are enclosed, and the cuff is then attached to the sleeve. All well and good, but doing that with lace would have meant visible seams on the inside.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

After giving it some thought, I cut the cuffs out in lace, chambray, and a lightweight fusible interfacing. I laid the lace with the wrong side of the lace against the non-fusible side of the interfacing, and treated them as one piece. Then, once the two cuff sections (one in lace and interfacing, the other in chambray) had been stitched together and turned right sides out, I fused the interfacing to the chambray, thus capturing the seam between those two layers and keeping it hidden. The interfacing also gives a solid white background for the white lace, which I think looks quite effective.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Sadly I had to give up on the idea of using the lace for the pocket edgings though – the edgings are quite narrow, and this lace is quite bulky, so that just wasn’t going to work. I did a same-fabric edging instead, and I’m really happy with how that turned out. :-)

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The chambray was a dream to work with – wonderfully light, with a great drape and a fine weave. It presses well and hangs well, and is soft and lovely to handle. I may be in love with it. And now I want it in the indigo colourway as well, to make something else! It’s the perfect weight for dresses, I reckon.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Because I wanted the lace to be the main feature of the dress, I used smaller buttons than I usually choose for shirt dresses. I kept them white to tie in with the lace and the polka dots, and picked simple little circles with a round embossed design in the centre. (I do love me a bit of texture!)

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Just for the fun of it, I used fushia coloured Hug Snug on all the seams. The one exception being the centre back seam, which I overlocked and pressed open, as I didn’t want the Hug Snug to be visible through the lace inset. Because there are a heck of a lot of seams, rather than pressing them open I pressed all the others to the side and bound both sides together with the Hug Snug. I love the inside – it’s so bright and cheerful!


I also used Hug Snug on the hem, and finished it with a blind machine hem. It seems to be my hem finish of choice at the moment. *shrug*


The photos were taken outside a sub station near where I work, by my lovely colleague Kelly. (Thanks, Kelly! You rock!!) It’s always a bit tricky getting photos this time of year – dark before work, dark when I leave work…. It was pretty windy, you may spot a bit of hair sticking straight up in one or two of the photos! I’d been wearing the dress all day at work too, so it’s got those good ol’ lived-in creases going through it. ;-) The graffiti is by a local artist – he’s quite prolific, with his work featured all over the place. Lots of happy smiley cartoon animals who are oddly dissected but seem perfectly fine about it. Strange. But also colourful, so I’m down with that.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Also, the fabric and buttons were given to me for my monthly contribution to the Minerva Sewing Bloggers Network. You can see it all over here, along with pretty things made by other lovely sewing people. Yay! Sewing!

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

June sew alongs and sewing contests

Hello hello! Want to know what’s happening in the sewing world this June? Here’s the ones I know about.

First up, the biggest one – it’s Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch! It’s the third year that Indie Pattern Month has been running, and it’s already in full swing (since I’m a few days late getting this post up – whoops!). As usual, it’s a month-long celebration of indie patterns, with people sharing their makes. There’s also interviews with designers, and a few discount codes just in case you want to buy a new pattern or two (or three, or four.. *cough cough whoops!*) to make up.

Just like last year, there are also contests running with it, with some great prizes up for grabs. The four categories this June are: Dresses, Separates, New To Me, and One Pattern Two Takes. You can find out all the details and rules over here. Prize posts can be found here (Dresses contest), here (Separates), here (New To Me) and here (One Pattern Two Takes contest).

Speaking of indie patterns, there’s a sew along currently happening for the latest Grainline Studio pattern – the Morris blazer. Even if you’re not going to be sewing along, it promises to be a great resource for future makes.

Conveniently (since the Morris blazer can be made in firm knits, such as ponte) the Stashbusting Sewalong theme this month is knits. (Yep, you can participate in this, the Grainline Morris sew along, and Indie Pattern Month, all with one garment!)

The Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge continues, encouraging everyone to use those pretty, pretty vintage patterns that are in our stashes.






There are two contests running over on Pattern Review this month – the Fabric Stash Contest and the Plus Size Contest.

As always, if you know of any that are happening that I’ve missed out, I’d love to hear about them! And there’s the master list over here, of all upcoming sew alongs and events that I’ve heard about.

Are you planning on taking part in any of the sew alongs or sewing contests this month?

Gothic Mystery dress

Well well, isn’t that a mysterious title? Kind of brings to mind images of flowing gowns, windswept castles and midnight strolls by candle light.

Sad to say, none of those are featured in this post. Although I nearly got New Zealand’s one-and-only castle in it! (Not that it’s really a castle – rather, it’s just an old-fashioned English style “country house”. Either way, my plan to have this finished in time for wearing to High Tea at Larnach Castle didn’t happen. Such is life!)

However, I do have a new dress to show you all!

And it’s a bit Gothic, with skulls and roses.

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The mystery part? Well, that’s where the pattern comes in. More details on that soon.

This is my Minerva Bloggers Network make for the month. The fabric is a poly/cotton blend in a gothic roses print. It’s nice to sew with – crisp yet light, easy to manipulate, and behaves itself quite well. The 70% polyester content also means it doesn’t need ironing – win!

(But then I completely destroyed the ‘yay no ironing!’ factor by using a pure cotton for the contrast bands. Whoops.)

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Since this fabric has a good amount of body, while still being lightweight, I paired it with a vintage 1950’s dress pattern with a gathered skirt. Sure enough, the skirt stands out nicely, and the gathers aren’t super bulky around the waist. Yay again for successful pattern-fabric pairings!

(Plus since the fabric is from the ‘budget’ range, it doesn’t break the bank to get the amount needed for those crazy big 1950’s skirts.)

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern is Academy 3883 – a dress featuring a darted bodice, gathered skirt, wide scoop neckline at front and back, and a wide button band down the centre front. It’s one I’ve wanted to make for a while, so it was nice to finally get it to the top of the sewing-ideas-list.

Academy 3883 | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I took fabric, pattern and notions down to Dunedin on a trip we made the other weekend to visit my family, with the plan to sew it all up on my mother’s sewing machine. This Elna beauty from the 1980’s. According to my father, one of the last mechanical machines. I love this machine – it purrs along beautifully, feels so wonderfully solid, and has pretty colours. (Orange! Green!). It also has a weird foot pedal – it’s an air pedal, a circular disk with a half-circle of rubber on the top. You press down on the rubber half-circle to make it go. A lot harder to regulate the speed than on a traditional foot pedal! And I completely forgot to get a photo of the pedal. Whoops.

mums sewing machine

Since my mother’s overlocker hasn’t been used for a while, I decided not to risk having to spend hours getting it to go, and instead used some Hug Snug and bound all the seams. (Plus, it makes for pretty pink on the inside!)

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I made a few changes to the pattern straight away. Added 1cm width to the shoulders and 1cm length to the bodice (front and back) and did a small bust adjustment – all without bothering to check the pattern, as they’re fairly standard adjustments for me. I also added 8cm in total to the width at the waist, tapering to nothing under the arms. (Then had to let the side seams out at the waist a bit more during construction. Still working to get rid of that post-baby bulge….!) Since I’m still (hopefully!) getting rid of the post-baby bulge, I stitched the front bodice to front skirt and back bodice to back skirt first, then did the side seams all in one at the end to make it easy to take in in the future. Eventually. When I stop my “I need it because I’m sleep deprived” excuse/addiction to chocolate….

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

While trying it on while making it up, I also lowered the side bust dart point by 1″ – if I was to make it again, I’d lower it by another cm as well, and also lower the point of the waist dart to match.

The neckband and button bands are done all as one, with a sharp corner at the top to add a bit of a challenge. The instructions called for the band to be stitched on with a lapped seam, then the inside to be hand stitched down. Um, yeah. A bit too much hand stitching for me, really. So instead I just stitched the band to the inside first, then folded it over to the front and top stitched it in place. Far faster! I love the way the wide contrast bands look on this, especially with the wide scoop neck. :-)

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The hem (and sleeve hems) are finished with Hug Snug and a machine blind hemming stitch.

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, here’s where things started to get somewhat interesting. When I was cutting out the fabric, I discovered that some of the pattern pieces were copies, cut out and hand written as to what piece they were. I can only assume they were direct copies of the originals, as I have nothing to compare them to! (Although I have my doubts about the sleeves, which were also a copy – there was no way they were going to get set in without some gathers at the sleeve cap. Also, the ease in them is quite off for the bodice, which makes me suspect they were copied from a different pattern….)

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The pattern is an unprinted vintage pattern. And when I had finished the dress enough to try it on properly, I made a rather unwelcome discovery – for some strange and mysterious reason, the waist line curved up by about 1.5″ in the centre back. Thus ending up with it far above where it should be! Argh!!!! (And this is where the high-tea-at-the-castle plans got derailed abruptly.) Such an odd, odd fit, and no indication of it being like this on the line drawings. Which makes me wonder if some long-ago seamstress directly altered the pattern by cutting part off on an angle. Since it’s an unprinted pattern, I have no way I can tell…..!!!

It nearly signified disaster for this dress, though! Eek!!!

I played around with adjusting seams, but couldn’t adjust them enough to make up for that massive centre-back shortening. So then I had the idea of making a cummerbund to cover it.

But that all failed miserably as well. Gah.

Then I hit on the simple solution – just chuck a wide belt on over the top, and all is well/hidden! Phew!!!

And now (as long as I hide it’s waistline flaw with a belt!) I love it! Yay!

Gothic Mystery dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Also, it fits nicely with my Vintage Pattern Pledge. Yay for sewing vintage!) (And yes Gillian, more are in the works. I’m playing posting catch-up first. ;-)