Monday, 28 December 2015

The Strawberry Girl

I'm going way back to the 40's for my next Vintage Pattern Pledge make with Butterick 5209 which is a 1947 reproduction. There are 2 views: halter neck or with capped sleeves. I made view B with the sleeves and I have to say I love it!

This was a bit of a drawn out project though from toile to finish. I had to adjust each pattern piece because I seemed to be a different size for every one of them. The bodice was size 8, midriff size 10 and the skirt was pretty much size 6 because I didn't want as much fullness - too many gathers is not a good look for me, I'm just not tall enough.

I used a black bemberg rayon lining instead of self lining as I just managed to squeeze this out of 2.5 metres of this cute strawberry polka dot quilting cotton which has been in my stash for ages waiting for the right project to come along. I know sewing garments out of quilting cotton is a big no-no for some people but I think it worked out really well for this dress, particularly with the fuller skirt.

The construction part of the pattern was pretty easy to follow although I did find the lining a bit fiddly but then again, I often do!

Overall, I'm super pleased with this dress ... and ... I've managed 3 Vintage Pattern Pledge garments this year!

I'm leaving you with this song (one of my favourites) 'cos I can't get it out of my head - Christine, the Strawberry Girl ...

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Feline Groovy Dress

Following on from my Kitty-A-Go-Go dress, my next make towards my Vintage Pattern Pledge is another Catzilla stage outfit featuring, you guessed it - more cats! Obviously this dress actually came first, because as you can see we started off with quite a small cat pocket which grew significantly in size for the Kitty-A-Go-Go dress. It features the same cat fabric but in green this time.

Believe it or not this is my very first proper vintage pattern and it's Simplicity 7526 - a mini shift dress with zip up front. The drawing suggests it's meant to be a young girl's pattern but our vision was a bit more go-go girl than school girl. As you can see it was shortened quite significantly but other than that not many changes were made. The pattern size is a 12 and pretty much fitted straight out of the box with only a couple of little added extras.

Cat pocket and cat zipper charm.

The back piece was quite big which I know is the style but I added in a couple of small darts and a contrast waistband to give it a little bit more shape.

The edging at the bottom of the dress was actually meant to add length as we cut it shorter than we intended to. Like, that really made a difference didn't it?

With it's twin in red

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Kitty-A-Go-Go 60's Shift Dress

It's getting close to the end of the year and I'm only just getting around to fulfilling my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. To kick things off I've got a new stage outfit I made with my bandmate and fellow seamstress for our 60's garage group Catzilla. We used Simplicity 3833 which is a vintage reproduction of a 1960's shift dress.

This pattern was a breeze! I cut a size 10 which fit me straight out of the packet. All I had to do was shorten the skirt (a 60's go go dress can never be too short!) and the skirt was a bit too flared for my liking so I tweaked it a little at the side seams.

The bodice is made from fabric we bought in Japan some time ago and has cute little cat heads on it. Of course we then had to carry on with the cat theme and added giant cat head pockets to the skirt.

The cat fabric is actually a cream colour rather than white and the only matching fabric to be found was a linen which turned out fine but it does crease quite easily.

I'm really pleased with how this dress turned out, it was super easy to sew and I think the contrasting black and white panels worked a treat.

The full outfit as it should be worn - with it's matching other half
More vintage pledge pattern posts (try saying that really fast!) coming soon.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Ooh - an Award!

Wow, I've been nominated for a Liebster Award by my fellow singer/seamstress Ree from Ree-Sewn. I love reading her posts and seeing the clothes she makes (she even sewed her own stunning wedding dress and shared the whole incredible journey on her blog!)
So, what's the deal with the Liebster Award? It's all about discovering and spreading the word about new blogs. By accepting the award I get to share 11 random facts about myself and nominate some more fellow bloggers to do the same.

I'm so thrilled about this, in fact I'm thrilled that anyone reads my blog at all! So here goes:

1. I'm a musician. I've been singing and songwriting in bands since I was a teenager and I intend to carry on doing so for as long as I possibly can!

2. I love a lot of different kinds of music and I currently sing in 4 bands playing very different styles: Gypsy jazz, 50's R&B, 60's ska & calypso and the newest one Catzilla is 60's garage pop, in which I also play keyboards. This keeps me extremely busy rehearsing, performing and making stage outfits.

3. I'm also a piano teacher and I'm blessed with a range of lovely students from 6 year olds to 60 year olds. They're all at different levels and have varying tastes in music which keeps things fun and interesting.

4. My favourite music to sew to is anything by Brad Mehldau who is an American jazz pianist. I find his music really relaxing and somehow helps me focus on what I'm doing.

5. I'm rubbish at making decisions.

6. My favourite chocolate is Mint Lindt- ooh, and Ferrero Rochers too - yum!

7. I lived in London for 11 years and it's still one of my favourite cities.

8. I love travelling and I've been lucky enough to visit lots of different places but Tokyo and Paris are two cities that I keep going back to.

9. Ree shared her phobia of moths, birds and anything that flaps, well I have a phobia of anything that crawls - most of all spiders and cockroaches. Given that I live in Australia this proves to be a frequent hindrance to my calmness and well-being!

10. I love the warm weather and can't stand being cold - thankfully Spring is here in our part of the world - Yay!

11. My idea of paradise is lying on a beach with my man by my side, a fancy cocktail in hand, a good book and the occasional dip in a calm, temperate ocean (take me there now!)

Thanks Ree for spreading the word about my blog. I'd now like to nominate two blogs for the Liebster Award. I'm not sure if they have under 200 followers (some say this is part of the rules) but I've only recently discovered them and feel they deserve to be shared:

Coolarama with her lovely makes and fun, witty writing style
Springstitches - I love the gorgeous vintage outfits that Becky sews.

If my nominees accept, they get to share 11 random facts about themselves and spread the blog love by making their own nominations.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Pineapple Bow Blouse

I seem to be on a bit of a Gertie roll at the moment, having recently made Butterick 5953 finally after having it sit in my cupboard for a couple of years, I thought I'd have a go at her most recent design for Butterick - B6217. The instructions were really easy to follow and it would have come together super quickly had it not been for the fact that the armholes are WAY too small!

Unfortunately I only discovered this after I had sewn most of the garment so I just had to cut into it until I had the right fit. As a result the sleeves weren't quite the right shape anymore so I ended up putting on some capped sleeves instead and finished the lower section with bias binding. Thankfully it all worked out in the end because I really like this pineapple print cotton that I picked up in Hawaii recently.

I made a size 8 which was a very comfortable fit everywhere but the armholes. A couple of people on Pattern Review who had sewn a size 6 pointed out the same problem (if only I'd taken note of that first). None of the other reviewers that had made larger sizes mentioned this so maybe this is only the case for the smaller sizes. Be warned though, if you intend to make this pattern, I'd make a toile first.

I do intend to make more of these cos I think it's a really lovely pattern but I'll have to do some serious adjustment to the armhole pattern piece first. I'd like to make view C and I'd also like to try the tulip sleeves, they look really cute.

Not content with photo bombing my blog pics, Koko insisted on having a cuddle too.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

I See Red

Yes, it's a whole lotta red! This is Gertie's Butterick 5953. I wasn't overly keen on this pattern at first, the cover photo on the packet didn't really do it justice but when I saw Amy's version (from Sew Amy) I knew I had to make one for myself.

Both the main red fabric and the black are a stretch cotton drill which I was a little afraid might be too thick for this dress but it's actually fine and with a bit of pressing everything seems to sit quite nicely.

I was a bit nervous about the front bands and the godet as I've never sewn one before but the instructions were very clear and it was quite simple in the end. The sleeves were a bit fiddly and I ended up with a bit of puckering but after a few too many attempts I decided to live with it.

I cut a size 8 and graded the hips out to just between size 10 and 12. Having worn it the other night though, I decided to take it in at the hips and the fit is way better now. Overall it didn't require many fitting changes and was a fairly straight forward make - I'm really happy with the end result.

And now I shall leave you with a link to one of my favourite songs from the past - "I See Red" by Split Enz - I'm not sure how far their popularity spread but for those who don't know this is what Crowded Houses' Finn brothers were doing before they grew up!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Blogging Vacation

Oh boy, it's been such a long time since my last blog post - if only I'd been on holiday for all that time!(it was only 3 weeks of it sadly). Life has been pretty hectic since I got back so not much time for blogging or even much sewing for that matter.

I'm pleased to say that I packed quite a number of me made garments to wear which was really nice and I whipped up a couple of new things to take with me just before I left.

I used a mixture of Gertie patterns to make these highwaisted shorts. In her new book "Gertie Sews Vintage Casual" she has a pattern for cigarette pants that she converts to shorts. I didn't really have the time or inclination to toile the pants and then adapt them so I took Butterick 5895 which I had already made before and applied the changes to that which was really just shortening them and widening the legs slightly.

I also whipped up this denim skirt using Vogue 8603 which I've made a few times before so it was quick and easy. This is such a comfortable, versatile skirt that I wore constantly. This is the best photo I have of it - but you get the idea.

I had an amazing time on my trip to the US - it was mostly holiday (with a little bit of work) but I also managed to fit in a few sewing related activities - yay!

In New York I got to meet up with the lovely Sonja from Ginger Makes. We didn't get to go fabric shop together but Sonja very kindly gave me a list of her favourite stores in the Garment District which was just as well because I really would not have known where to start otherwise. Even with the list I was totally overwhelmed by every store that I went into and only came away with one piece of fabric in the end. I still enjoyed the experience though and next time I'll know what to expect.

My last stop was Hawaii which is one place I wasn't really expecting to do much shopping but I did discover Waikiki's Fabric Mart. This store had lots of lovely craft fabric and oriental prints but really, being in Hawaii it just didn't seem right to be looking at anything other than the amazing selection of Hawaiian prints that they had on offer - for me, it was like Christmas!

I did have to be a little restrained as our suitcases were getting close to bursting point by this stage but but I think I did pretty well and came away very happy with my purchases. I love holiday fabric shopping, it's like having a wearable souvenir to bring back those great memories.

Now, to dust off my sewing machine ...

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Chuck Completed

Break out the champagne - I've finally finished my Chuck sweater, Andi Satterlund's cute cable knit pattern. This is the second in my year long knitting projects, the first being my crazy lace cardigan. I can hardly believe I started this in August last year - but I guess to be fair, I did take a break from knitting over the summer. I'm really pleased to have finished it in time to get some wear out of if this winter.

Having just knitted Andi's Myrna Cardigan before I started this made following the pattern much easier. I made a size small and adjusted the sleeve to full length as it seemed a bit more more practical.

The yarn I used was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Mallard which was nice to knit with, though I did have a couple of tangling issues along the way. I have read some terrible reviews on Ravelry about this particular yarn, mostly saying that it pills really badly. I'll have to keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't - I'm so happy with how it turned out and it's lovely and soft to wear. It did grow quite a lot when I blocked it though, so it was definitely worth doing a gauge swatch first.

I must confess to a small mistake along the way - I missed one of the cables and by the time I realised I was miles ahead. I'm really bad at picking up stitches after frogging back, so I decided to leave it.

I did try and fix it afterwards using the darning method in this post that my good friend and knitting guru Marylou sent me. It's a pretty nifty trick but I didn't do too well with it as the yarn was just too dark to be able to see what I was doing properly. Thankfully my mistake is strategically placed so that you can't see it unless you're looking where you shouldn't be!

These photos aren't the best but I wanted to get this post out before I head off on my summer holiday to the States - woohoo! So, sorry Chuck, you'll be put away again until I return.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Top of the Eiffel Tower

My third post on topping up my tops and another Gertie pattern. This time it's the Portrait Blouse from her first book "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing" - yes, it's been out for years and this is the first thing I've actually made from it. I did attempt one of the dress patterns some time ago when I first got it but I had all sorts of trouble with the sizing and never ended up finishing it.

I'm pleased to say the Portrait Blouse was a breeze to sew - quick and easy, it came together in an afternoon. I sewed a size 4 with no fitting changes needed. The waist shaping comes from little dart tucks which I really like the look of. One thing that made it quick was that I used an invisible zipper instead of hand picking one - not quite so vintage but I'm not ashamed to admit it - if I can take a short cut, I will - and if it means less hand stitching, all the better.

The fabric which came from Spotlight is a cotton voile with a cute atomic print with eiffel towers on it. The voile works really well with this blouse and makes a nice cool summer top, I'm pretty certain I'll be making more of these!

Friday, 29 May 2015

More Topping Up

I'm continuing with my bid to top up on my tops and completely ignore the fact that it's no longer Summer here.  That's OK though because in 4 week's time I'm off on a summer vacation to the States so I need a holiday wardrobe!

Today I have the Knit Sweetheart Top from the "Gertie Sews Vintage Casual" book. This is the first pattern I've made from the book and it came together very nicely.

I sewed a size 4 with no alterations and it was the perfect fit - except the sleeve band turned out to be way too loose. This was my first time sewing a fitted knit garment and it didn't occur to me to check the fitting of the band, I just followed the pattern and went for it - I'll know next time.

I think I can get away with the frilly sleeve though and pretend it was just part of the design.

Stay tuned - more tops to come!