Summer is for strawberry milkshakes

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

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

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

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Sylvie dress by Christine Haynes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Milkshake dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


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)

Mustard Mustang Ranges

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

Mustang Ranges dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Even though a dartless (aka shapeless!) dress really isn’t my usual style, I found that I couldn’t get the idea of matching that variation with the mustard coloured Mustangs print fabric from Cotton + Steel that I bought off (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. 🙂

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. 😉

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? 😉

(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. 🙂

Strawberry season!

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Why the preamble? Well, strawberries! The common link. 😉

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

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

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Strawberry Thief dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes


Cressoway! (Dallida?)

It’s time for a mash up! Yeah yeah!!

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Jennifer Lauren Vintage Cressida skirt line drawing

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Here’s my hacked-up bodice post-SBA….

bodice alterations

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

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Taking photos of Mel in one of her new dresses. 😉

Pinky bar Cressoway dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mel and Nina in new dresses!

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