Hearts and a bird

Do you ever have those days when you suddenly want to make something that isn’t in your sewing queue at all? Sure, you may have a few things cut out, possibly even in the process of being made up, but then a completely different project jumps up and down, demanding to be made Right That Minute!!

This was one of those.

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Yes, that’s right. I cheated on my sewing queue. Whoops!

But I got a cute top out of it, that I’ve already worn several times. And it had kinda been in my mental things-I-want-to-sew queue for a while, so that counts, right?!

A while back, The Curious Kiwi showed me some fabric she’d just bought. A cute poly blend knit from The Fabric Warehouse. And I may have loved it so much I had to go and buy some that same day.

Because – hearts!!!

I’ve been planning on making myself a cropped sweater with it ever since I saw it. I’ve also been planning on making this pattern, the Bonnie top from Bluegingerdoll, since I saw it. (Yes, I fully realise I can do something very similar with my Jenna pattern, but I hadn’t tried a Bluegingerdoll pattern yet so curiousity got the better of me.)

Bluegingerdoll Bonnie top

Bluegingerdoll Bonnie top

With the weather getting colder, a sudden realisation that the knits contest at Bluegingerdoll was nearly finished, and a sudden desire to make something quick and easy, the planets aligned and this got made.

The Bonnie pattern came together super easily. It’s a simple and cute sweater with options for waist or hip length, three sleeves (flutter sleeves, or a sleeve with a gathered sleeve cap in either 3/4 or long), and three necklines (scooped, classic, or boatneck). I went for the waist length, long sleeved version with the scooped neck.

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I used a plain black merino for the neckband and hem band, and added small cuffs to the sleeves to tie it all together. (Plus, I just like the look of cuffed long sleeves on sweaters.) Since I have long monkey arms, I added an extra couple of inches to the total sleeve length through adding the cuffs (and using less seam allowance at the end of the sleeve as a result). I feel they’re still slightly too short though as they ride up a bit when I’m wearing the top, so I’ll likely take the cuffs off and make them about twice as wide sometime soon. (If I can find a time when I’m not wearing it, that is!)

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Just for the fun of it, I wanted to do something to highlight one of the hearts. I was throwing around a few ideas, such as stitching around the outside of one, when I remembered that this month’s theme over on The Monthly Stitch is “Put a Bird on it”. So, I did!

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I wanted to keep it subtle, so did a roughly stitched sketch of a bird on one of the hearts near the wrist of one sleeve. I was a bit unsure about it when I finished it, wondering if it looks too rough and too home-ec like, but after a quick Instagram poll to get an unbiased outsider opinion, I was convinced to keep it. And I quite like it now – it adds just a little bit extra, and most people don’t notice it. Kinda like a little in-plain-sight secret. ;-)

When it came time to sew on the label, I carefully matched the heart on the label to the one on the centre back of the top directly underneath it. Hearts all in a row!

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Overall, I’m really happy with this. It’s cute, fun to wear, and quick and easy to make.

Right, time to get back to my sewing queue! ;-)

Bird Heart Bonnie | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Forties Foxes

Oh yeah, it’s been a while, but finally, here’s a make from a vintage pattern!

Well, sort of a vintage pattern. A vintage reproduction, to be precise. (And it’s been a long time since I’ve used one of those, too!)

Meet the Forties Foxes blouse:

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Made using Simplicity 1590, a reproduction of a 1940’s pattern.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I used view B, with the collar. I decided not to include the optional waist tie, as I felt there’s enough going on with this top without it. (Peplum. Collar. Foxes. Yeah, that’s enough for one top, right?!?) I debated about making the little neck tie that goes with it, but once I tried it on I realised I was never going to wear it fully buttoned up so didn’t bother.

(By the way, if you’re wondering what the two snap fasteners/poppa domes are for in the notions, they’re for attaching that little neck tie to the shirt. Cute, eh?! You could make several in different colours, and play mix-and-match.)

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

This was my first time using a reproduction Simplicity pattern, and I must say, it was a rather enjoyable experience! There was the usual over-abundance of ease, so I chose my size based on the finished measurements table instead, which fits well (and also meant I made one size smaller than I would have otherwise). Everything came together nicely, the instructions were easy to follow, and there were a couple of fun bits too, such as when the front waist dart and the seam joining the front panel to the side of the peplum are sewn in one go as a nice, continous seam. Check out how it looks on the outside – the vertical seam here is the dart being stitched and the peplum attached at the same time:

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

There’s also a nice little intro at the start of the instructions, talking about how fashions changed due to WWII and how sports wear was invented as a result. I’m a fan of thoughtful little touches like that. :-)

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I love the peplum on this blouse – it’s smooth at the centre front (as the front just extends to the hem, with the peplum being joined on about 10cm away from the centre front), and flares out nicely, dipping down lower at the back.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Turns out it catches the wind rather nicely, too, in the cliched Wellington autumn weather.)

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The collar is quite narrow, especially at the back, but I’m fine with that.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The sleeves are simply an extended shoulder, angling down to the side seam.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The fabric is a quilting cotton, with a super cute fox print, from the Frolicking Forest collection by Camelot. It’s the first time I’ve used a Camelot quilting cotton, and it was lovely to work with – soft to touch and with great colours.

And, you know. It’s got foxes on it. And that’s all kinds of win.

Since it’s a wildlife themed top, I picked these cute little yellow buttons with flowers on them.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And because I love it, I used Hug Snug to bind some of the seams on the inside. Next time (and there will be a next time, as I love this pattern!) I’ll bind some more seams, in particular the seam where the peplum joins the bodice, and the hem of the sleeves.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

With the exception of the Hug Snug, all of the fabric and notions (and the pattern, too!) came from Minerva Crafts, as part of their blogger network. (Thanks, Minerva!)

Here’s how it all looks on the inside – far easier to get a good idea of the pattern itself this way as you can see the seam lines.

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And finished off with a label, just because. ;-)

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The only asjustment I made to the pattern was to the bust darts. I moved the dart points a couple of cm lower, and also did a small bust adjustment and took out about 2/3 of the width of the side bust dart.

There’s also a couple of small things I noticed in the instructions, in case they’re of use for anyone else making this:

  • When pinning on the collar, align the collar edge with the centre front marking (i.e. the straight line a couple of cm in from the pattern piece edge)
  • When basting on the collar, baste just within the seam allowance so the basting stitches don’t show on the right side when you’ve done your final stitching
  • If you’re finishing the long edge of the facing with a zig-zag or overlocked edge, trim 6mm off the shoulder edge so it lines up with the shoulder seam nicely (as there’s a 6mm seam allowance for doing a turned-under edge)

Forties Foxes blouse | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I’m really happy with how this turned out. And I’m particularly happy that I feel it’s marked a turning point in my wardrobe – while I’ve still got a bit to lose around the waist to get back to pre-baby-size (and fit back into my vintage style dresses which, let’s face it, is my key motivation to get back into shape, haha!), I can now fit into some of them and as a result I feel I can start making things with my much-loved vintage patterns again. Yay!

(Of course, this means I now want to go and make all the things. All The Things!!!)

April sew alongs

Wow, another month already! Wanting to kick-start your sew-jo, or some help to decide which project to tackle next? Why not join in a sew along! Here’s a couple of the ones happening this month….

Season of Separates sew along at the Curvy Sewing Collective

Over on the Curvy Sewing Collective, the Season of Separates continues. This month, the focus is on skirts.

Put a Bird On It challenge at The Monthly Stitch

We’ve had dog challenges and cat challenges – this month, it’s time for the birds! Make something with a bird on it and join in the fun over at The Monthly Stitch.

Small Human Being Sew Along

Got a small human being? Know someone who does? This month, there’s a challenge just for them. Make something tiny with the Small Human Being Sew Along.

The Wardrobe Contest on Pattern Review

Feel like challenging yourself? Sew up a complete wardrobe (4 tops, 3 bottoms, and 2 whatever-else-you-feel-like) between now and 15 May and with the Wardrobe Contest on Pattern Review.

Want to keep up with what’s going on with sewing challenges, contests and meet ups? Check out the full list here. (And as always, if you know of any that I’ve missed, let me know so I can add them!)

Puppy pants!

Did ya see the Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge that was happening last month?

Well, how could I resist a theme like that?!?

I must admit though, I’m not really a dog person. (<- understatement. Sorry, dogs and dog lovers. I'm a cat person, completely.) So it seemed a bit odd to make something for myself, since there is no way I could be called a "Crazy Dog Lady".

I did have this super cute cotton drill in my stash though – cream, with little chocolate-brown paw prints and bones all over it. Cute! And needing to be used.

The larger of my little guys, however, does like dogs. He gets a big, goofy grin on his face when we see one while out walking. So making something for him seemed the right thing to do.

Puppy pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And since I was about it, and had enough of the fabric, I figured I may as well start on the path to being one of Those Parents (you know, the ones who dress their kids the same) and make a pair in the same fabric for his little bro as well. (Heh. Years of amusement with doing this is ahead of me. *evil cackle*)

Puppy pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The larger pair are a pattern from a sewing-clothes-for-babies book. First time I’ve made the pattern (and only the second time I’ve used the book. It’s one of those ones that looks super cute before you have a baby, and kinda mostly impractical after you realise the reality of dressing a wriggling little person) and it went together well enough. The smaller pair are my go-to baby trousers, made several times before in both knits and wovens, for both boys. Gotta love that inset at the back to add extra space for over cloth nappie clad baby bums!

Puppy pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The brown fabric is linen, left over from the dress sample of my Melissa dress. (So one could say we have matching mother-and-child garments, perhaps?)

Since I didn’t want them too identical (yet, mwahahaha!) I made the larger pair in the brown linen, with patch pockets in the paw print cotton drill, set at angles to the leg seam.

The smaller pair are in the cotton drill, with the linen used for the inset at the back, and also for cuffs at the bottom of the leg (I made them extra-long, in a 6-12 month size, since this child is growing fast!)

They’re both a bit too big for the boys just yet, but give it another month or two (or a few more days, in the case of the smaller one!) and they’ll be perfect. ;-)

Puppy pants | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And now, after that brief dog-inspired interlude, back to some selfish sewing….

Hello Melissa!

Want to see what I’ve been working on for the past three months?

It’s this!

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

The latest Muse pattern – the Melissa dress, blouse and skirt.

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

I’m pretty excited by it, and really happy with how it’s turned out. It’s got a lot of 1940’s touches running through it, while at the same time I think it’s still quite a modern design.

The starting point for this design was a combination of two things – my current wardrobe needs (i.e. front access ha ha yeah) and the knowledge that I wanted to design a pattern inspired by my lovely friend Mel. Since when I think of Mel’s style, I think a-line dresses and skirts, collars, blouses/shirts, and skirts, it seemed pretty natural to design a shirt dress pattern with blouse and skirt variations, sleek lines, and an a-line shape.

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

The 1940’s inspiration came in through the use of the v-shaped pockets on the bodice and skirt. Pockets were often used as a design feature in 1940’s garments, and the v-shape also crept in there a lot (possibly V-for-victory?). The double princess seams originating from the shoulder are also a 1940’s design element and let those pockets be constructed in a way that allows for the v-shaped pocket edgings and nice, clean finishes.

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

I love it when garments have details on the back as well – all too often things only have the interesting design elements on the front, and are boring on the back. So I played around with some ideas, and decided to carry the v features through to the back with the inclusion of a v-shaped inset between the shoulder blades. (The v also comes in a bit with the sleeve cuffs, which rise to a subtle point.)

(Yeah, it was all about the v for this one! ;-) )

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

When I was shopping for the fabric for the samples for the website photos, I found this gorgeous chocolate brown linen. It seemed like a good idea for this one – a solid colour so the design lines could be seen, but not the notoriously-hard-to-photograph red, black or navy.

And then, despite never being a fan of linen previously (the way it wrinkles as soon as you look at it bugs me!), I kinda fell in love with the fabric. So I made the dress sample in my size, so I could keep it. ;-) (Which meant I also had to model it, but hey. That was a bit weird, I’ll admit! You probably won’t see me doing that very often…!)

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

So yeah, there’s my latest pattern! :-)

It got released the other day, and if you’re interested, there’s 15% off until 27 March with the code ‘MELISSA’.

There’s the standard first-week-goes-to-charity thing as well, with 100% of the sale price (less those pesky bank fees) of all sales up until the end of 27 March being donated to the Life Flight air rescue and air ambulance, a charity chosen by the lovely Muse behind this pattern’s design.

And now, I’m gonna go sew something for myself….!

Melissa pattern by Muse Patterns

The Hummingbirds and Clover dress

Now here’s a pattern I’ve been meaning to make ever since it was released – the Clover dress by Papercut!

With its loose fit and pull-over style (you wear it cinched in with a belt) it seemed like a perfect dress to make for those months after pregnancy, while one’s body is still going back to it’s “usual” size. Plus, a centre front seam makes it ideal for wearing while nursing – simply add one invisible zip and you’re good to go!

When I joined the Minerva Crafts Bloggers Network (yay!) and got to choose my first three projects (double yay! and a super fun way to lose a few hours), it seemed like a good time to make up the Clover dress.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I found this gorgeous feathers print rayon, and once I’d decided between the red and the pink colourways, spent some time debating what to use for the contrast v-inset on the bodice. Since the base of the feathers rayon is black, and it’s quite a busy print, I thought I’d match it with a black lace with a larger scale design. And I found this one – a crochet look rayon lace. Perfect!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(Speaking of the print of the rayon, check this out – teeny tiny Hummingbirds, hovering amoungst the feathers! So cute!! And also so hard to spot – can you see them? I didn’t spot them until a friend pointed them out, thanks Mel!)

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Crazy though it may sound, even though I’ve been sewing “properly” for over 17 years (I’m not counting those making-scrunchies-as-a-child or home-ec-classes-at-school years), I’ve never sewn with rayon. Most of my sewing is cotton or wool, or knits that ideally have a large portion of one or the other of those fibres. Time to branch out, don’t you think?!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed working with rayon. It’s lovely and soft to handle, doesn’t shift around too much (or this one didn’t, anyway – I’ve heard some rayons do?), and presses like a dream. I’m now a rayon convert!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The Clover pattern was nice and fun to sew, and the contrast inset gives lots of opportunity for fun ways to use scraps or pretty bits of fabric. The only thing I’d watch for is what you use for the contrast inset – it sits on the upper curve of my bust, so I’m going to have to be careful about what bra I wear with it as the top half an inch or so shows through the lace.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I did, of course, make a couple of changes to it though. (Because that’s how I roll, oh yeah.) First up, the length. I’m tall, the pattern is short. So I added 12cm to get it hitting just above my knees. Higher than my usual hem length, but I discovered that with the raglan sleeves and the higher scoop neckline it starts to look a bit frumpy when hitting below the knee (I originally added 20cm in length). So, above the knee it is for this pattern on me!

I also added pockets, because, well, pockets. They may look pretty low, but they’re the perfect height for me to still be able to get my hands into when carrying the Smallest Guy around in the front pack. For the pockets, I just drew a basic pocket shape around my hand (to make sure it was big enough!) and sewed them into the side seams. Easy!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And that aforementioned nursing-friendly pattern hack – the addition of an invisible zip in the centre front seam at the neckline. Along with a hook and eye to close the binding above it.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

I applied some vintage iron-on hem binding to the seam first along where the zipper was going to go, to stabilise it on the drapy rayon, which worked really well.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

(After wearing this dress around all day for yum cha and gelato with some of the Wellington Sewing Blogger girls, I can attest that both pockets and zip do their jobs nicely. Also, rayon is fun to wear! It feels flippy and floaty and feminine and fun. Yeah!)

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Now, this actually took me blinkin’ ages to make. I decided that this would be the perfect time to try out a new-to-me technique, and also get in some hand-sewing practice. (Much as I hate hand sewing, I’m determined to get better/faster at it this year!) After reading about it on Lilacs and Lace, curiousity got the better of me and I bought some Hug Snug seam binding. And oh my gosh this stuff is awesome! I think this is the start of a long-term love affair with this seam finish. Check it out – bound seams!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

If you haven’t used Hug Snug before, it’s great – made of rayon (I spot a theme with this garment…) it’s very lightweight so it doesn’t add bulk to your seams. It presses well, and is nice and smooth to wear. Plus, it comes in all sorts of fun colours. I may need to add some more to my collection so I can have pretty colourful insides on all my garments from now on….

The other great thing about it – it finished the edges of the lace insets really nicely. Since the lace has quite a large design, if I’d overlocked/serged it instead a lot of the thread would have had trouble catching onto anything in those gaps between the design. But the Hug Snug? A nice, neat finish.

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The only seam I didn’t bind was the centre front seam. Since part of it goes over the front lace inset, I didn’t want the yellow of the Hug Snug showing through to the front, so I just did a basic overlocked/serged finish on that seam in black to make it less conspicuous.

I finished the hem of both sleeves and the skirt with the Hug Snug, then hand stitched them up. Luckily, it was Great British Sewing Bee day, so that kept me entertained for about half the length of the skirt. ;-) I’m glad I took the time to do the hand sewing though, as it’s more-or-less invisible from the front and it makes me happy to look at it. :-)

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And of course, the finishing touch:

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Overall? Pattern – win. Using rayon for the first time – win. Pattern hacks – win. And bound seams – win. Yep, I think this one is gonna be getting a lot of wear!

Hummingbirds and Clover dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Hi! I’m still here!

Yikes, it’s been a while since I posted! Most unlike me. So I thought I’d drop on by, give a little update about what’s been going on.

No finished projects to show in this post I’m afraid. Although I have been sewing and making like crazy! I’m hoping to have a finished garment to post about very soon though….

So, here’s a bit about what’s been happening around these parts. (Photos also seen on Instagram, in case you’ve spotted them before!)

Here’s my current sewing project – the Clover dress from Papercut, which I’m making in this gorgeous rayon with feathers on it from Minerva Crafts. It’s slowly taking shape – currently hanging up letting the hem settle (and waiting for me to find where on earth I put my stay tape, whoops!)

clover dress

Exciting thing about that rayon fabric – it’s my first make as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogging Network! So exciting!! :-D I’ve been watching the Minerva Crafts and Mood networks with interest, and wondering if anything like that would start up down in this part of the world. Turns out Minerva are happy to work with a New Zealand based blogger, and I’m now a part of their blogging network! So you can expect to see a creation a month for the next three months (at least) on here as part of that. They’ll be my usual mix of vintage and indie patterns, and typical colourful prints, coz that’s how I roll. (Bonus: I can now get my hands on things that are hard to get here in NZ. Like this feathers print rayon. Yippie!) ‘Twas an exciting day when my first Minerva network package arrived….

Minerva package

You may remember in my round-up post for 2014 I mentioned that I’m really looking forward to working with vintage patterns more this year. I have general plans to more-or-less alternate sewing vintage with sewing indie. Until that gorgeous rayon landed on my doorstep and jumped the queue (what can I say? It was so pretty it demanded I make it immediately!) I was planning to make this combo. The fabric is from the Michael Miller Wee Wanderer line, pattern is 1950’s. Then I decided I didn’t like the pairing due to the large-scale print and the pintucks, so I’m currently hunting for another vintage shirt dress pattern I want to pair with it. Need to find it soon, as it’s next on my list to make!

horses fabric

Speaking of vintage, I may have acquired this machine yesterday…. Whoops! It’s a Brother, model 411. No idea how old it is – heavy metal body, motor is attached with a fan belt, very basic stitches. I put the question out to the sewing world on Instagram and guesses so far seem to be around the 1960’s-70’s. (Anyone got any ideas? Google is not being very useful with this, sadly.)

vintage machine

I has plans to use all my vintage machines this year, sewing a dress on each machine from a sewing pattern that’s roughly from the same year as the machine. Really looking forward to that!

Been doing a bit of knitting as well, usually while juggling a baby and a cat. Unsurprisingly, progress is slow. But this will be the Agatha cardigan by Andi Satterlund.

knitting and cat

Also making slow progress (and the reason why, although I’ve been sewing up a storm, I have nothing I can show you yet!) is the next Muse pattern. Babies who do not sleep much during the day (he’s a cat-napper, our littliest one. 5 minute nap, then up for another 2-3 hours. Seriously.) are not overly conducive to fast progress. Evidence:

workign with baby

working with baby 2

But also evidence that progress is being made! Taping up of PDF to test the printing….

taping PDF

… and stitching up of sample garments. I’m hoping to have this one released in the next couple of weeks. Eek!

pattern sneak peek

So yes, that’s what I’ve been up to! Oh, and starting back at work part-time. Easing back into it, and I’ll be back full time at the end of April. It’s going by crazy fast, eek!

What have you all been up to? Are you having a good 2015 so far?