That 90s Dress That’s Not Really A Dress {Style 2079}

webDSCF5092

The year was 1991.

Katie was 10 years old.

Terminator 2 and Silence of the Lambs came out (I didn’t see them until years later, obviously).

Style 2079 was also released.

webDSCF5014

Fast forward to 1996. Katie was now 15. Oh yes, things were getting serious. The movie The Craft was released. Angsty Katie loved it so much she bought the soundtrack. Cue Morrissey banging on about how soon is now.

webDSCF5010

Make the leap to 2017. Emo Katie is now 36 years old with a husband, two kids and a dog and lives in the burbs. And yet, when Dear Stella released this print she jumped on it as quickly as humanly possible. Because emo Katie still loves The Craft and all things 90s. Who doesn’t, come on.

webDSCF5011

webDSCF5012

Ok, I’ve finished referring to myself in the third person now. How good is this print though? Love it so hard.

webDSCF5102

This one is a risk though, let’s be honest. It had the potential to be very, very bad. The print saves it though, I think. It brings a pretty modern twist to a 90s shape. Plus, I have seen this style kicking around a bit in RTW these days. It’s trying to come back, along with those high waisted jeans that the gang from Friends wore.

webDSCF5096

In case it’s not apparent from the pics, I made the culottes version of the pattern. Which means I have to strip to pee. Worth it. I can’t believe how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Will I make it again? Maybe. I’ll probably give the dress version a go.

webDSCF5100

‘You see I’ve already waited too long and all my hope is gone…’

Is it in your head now? I hope so, it’s in mine.

 

Another Gunne Sax {Simplicity 9008}

webDSC_0271

As soon as I finished the first version, I cut out another from this rad rainbow border print. I managed to use up most of the 6 yards I had. Such a fabric hungry dress. I couldn’t help it though, that silhouette is pretty amazing.

webDSC_0267

I tried my best to line up the panels, but they aren’t perfect. Luckily the skirt is so full that it isn’t super noticeable.

webDSC_0265

I won’t blather on about this one since I literally just made another one the same.

webDSC_0253

The only changes this time were omitting the sash and adding horsehair braid into the hem. Which is a really easy way to finish never ending circle skirt hems. Apparently I can’t stitch straight though.

webDSC_0274

It’s been a bit of a day. My little old Bernette wasn’t sewing well yesterday and because she’s never skipped a beat, I assumed it was the end. Turns out I was right and my sewing machine repair guy confirmed that for me today.

webDSC_0262

So this dress was sewn mostly on my vintage Janome, which goes really well to be honest. She isn’t a fan of knits though. Now I have the fun job of trying to decide what will replace my faithful little Bernette. She was only a cheapy but she will be missed.

webDSC_0259

There ain’t nothing like a rainbow dress to cheer you up though right? The boys told me this was their new favourite and I should definitely wear it on Christmas day. I think I will, kiddos.

 

 

 

That 70s Dress That’s A Gunne Freaking Sax {Vintage Simplicity 9008}

webDSC_0218

If you’re all like ‘WTF is a Gunne Sax, ya big weirdo?!’ it’s totally fine. Here’s a bit of info –  basically it’s a clothing  label that was successful in the 1970s and known for its prairie, Victorian and Edwardian styled designs. Gunne Sax only came to my attention recently when I watched the Netflix series ‘Girlboss’, which is based on Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography and tells the story of how she started selling vintage clothing on ebay.

webDSC_0237

Obviously though, by the time 1979 had rolled around (the year Simplicity 9008 was published), there was less lace and high collars and more of the above. Apparently the designer had moved towards creating dresses with prom dress features. Still, I was kind of taken by this baby when I found her in my vintage stash yesterday. It was originally given to me in about 6 boxes of vintage patterns which is why my memory of it is a touch hazy.

webDSC_0234

So I was digging through my vintage pattern stash, wanting to make something different and found this one right at the bottom. That 50s shape spoke to me – the full skirt and that collar are beautiful. I very rarely wear dresses without sleeves, but I’m making an exception for this one. Plus I thought it might be cute with a little tshirt underneath or I can always wear a little wrap top over it.

webDSC_0223

Deciding on fabric was hard. I wanted something I wasn’t hugely attached to as this would basically be a muslin – one I hoped would be wearable, but considering the grading up I had to do, I was unsure. I hate wasting fabric but I also hate spending hours sewing without being able to wear the finished product. Another thing – it’s bloody massive. I had 4m of the bear cotton/linen and I only just managed to tetris the dress out of it (I did use plain black lawn for the facings). Being directional obviously added to the challenge. The fabric was originally intended for dresses to sell, but after I washed it the black faded really unevenly and I didn’t really want to pass that on to paying customers. So in the end it was perfect for my sorta muslin.

webDSC_0212

See that skirt? There’s eleven panels in that sucker. Thirty pattern pieces in total. Thirty-four if you count the pockets. I think it’s fuller than a normal circle skirt, my petticoat barely makes a difference.

webDSC_0215-2

I didn’t change a whole lot beyond grading it up. I just followed the pattern pieces of a princess seamed dress that fits me well and it worked pretty successfully. Once I’d redrawn the bodice pieces, I lined them up to see how much I had to add to the skirt pieces (not much surprisingly, although the 3cms added to the bodice is spread pretty thinly over all those skirt panels).

webDSC_0229

Redrawing the bodice pieces meant also redrawing the collar and facing pieces and I ended up slightly off with my collar pieces unfortunately. They just don’t quite reach in the centre. Not a big deal though and I’ll correct that for next time.

webDSC_0233

Next time? Oh yeah. It’s taking all I have not to make another one of these ASAP.

webDSC_0217

That 60s Dress With The Metal Zip {Vintage McCalls 9083}

webDSC_6753

Have I told you before that my mum is a legend? My mum is a legend. Last week I received a very excited phone call from her because she found a few things at an op shop that she knew I’d love. Two of them were these barkcloth (I think) table cloths. Both in excellent nick and around 1m x 1m. One looked like it had never been used, one slightly used. Not a huge difference in colour between them both though.

webDSC_6714

My ma knows me well, so of course they became mine. I had planned on making a full gathered skirt with them, but decided to see if I could stretch it to a dress instead. It was time to make something a bit different. I dug through that lovely vintage stash that was given to me a while back and came up with McCalls 9083, a dress pattern from 1967.

webDSC_6740

I did make some pretty significant changes to the pattern. First and foremost, my bust is nowhere in the vicinity of 34 inches, so some grading up had to happen. Then a 2 inch full bust adjustment on top of that. I am so glad I did too, because it fits like a glove. FBAs are magic, 10/10 do recommend. I use this tutorial to do mine. I lowered the neckline slightly too, because that sucker is high.

webDSC_6750

I slashed and spread the skirt, eliminating the darts and making it more A line in shape. It’s a bit of a weird feeling for me because I am so used to wearing very full skirts. I feel a little bit naked, which is ridiculous.

webDSC_6754

I decided on patch pockets because I had a feeling side seam pockets might stick out a bit on this style of skirt.

webDSC_6745

I had planned to use an invisible zip, but it turned out I didn’t have one long enough in my stash. Then I remembered I had a pretty long thrifted metal one hiding somewhere, so I dug it out. I think the metal is way cooler and gives all that floral a little bit of an edge.

webDSC_6758

The bodice is lined in black lawn and yeah, I probably should have used black thread but I wasn’t sure whether to match the lining or the zip. So the zip it was.

Peace, love and tablecloth dresses.

Rainbow {Vintage Simplicity 7189}

I know. Now I’m just showing off.

webDSC_5444

You’ll remember good old S7189 from the lipstick skirt I made a while back.

S_7189_

It’s a bloody gem. I wear it all the time. I love those giant pockets and the way it wraps around the back. Yes, another wrap thingy. That’s two in two days. Buffet breakfast come at me.

webDSC_5437

If you haven’t noticed the fabric then you’re obviously not a child of the 80s and we can’t be friends.

Just joking. We can be friends. Please?

webDSC_5446

YEAH IT’S RAINBOW BRITE! So cool. It’s a poly cotton I scored on ebay. I’m generally not a poly cotton lover but I’m ok with it when it’s a print that’s hard to come by. It actually drapes really nicely and won’t need ironing, which is a bonus. The pocket and tie facings are in gingham, just for fun and to break up the print a bit. Small black dog growing out of me is an added bonus. He’s a ninja, I didn’t even realise he was there.

webDSC_5439

Weeeee! I’m an adult!

Stay Puft {Old numberless dress pattern from vintage Ghostbusters sheet}

webDSC_5349

‘The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (also known as Mr. Stay Puft or nicknamed ‘Tubby Soft-Squeeze’ by Ray and Peter) was the final enemy of the Ghostbusters in the first film. He was the chosen Destructor Form of Gozer…’

I had to Google it. I couldn’t remember if he had a legit name.

webDSC_5348

Ebay. She’s been good to me over the years. I’ve never really had a bad experience, but this one was borderline. Being a fitted sheet that is nearly as old as me, I expected some wear and tear. I’m a realist. The listing described the condition as ‘has some wash wear’. Mate, it’s threadbare. It was like sewing with tissue paper. Also ‘one small stain’ roughly translated to ‘has multiple brown stains that I really don’t want to think about too hard’. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed when this arrived in the post from the US. But onward, right? I soaked the sucker in Napisan for two hours and now there’s not a mark to be seen. There’s very little that can’t be fixed by a good soak, including my mindset.

webDSC_5350

The wear however, can’t be fixed with a soak. It was obvious it would have to be fully lined, so I just used white cotton lawn. I’m used to lining bodices and do it all the time, but I very rarely line skirts. Which took a bit longer than usual because I had to use my brain to consider how I would add the pockets and finish the hem (the lawn is only 108cm wide compared to whatever the width of a single sheet is. Wide). I really should have lined the sleeves too, one is way more faded than the other due to the tetrising I had to do to get Mr Stay Puft on both sleeves.

webDSC_5358

Still, it came out ok. I reallllllly wanted to use the Emery pattern for this, but alas those darted bodice pieces wouldn’t fit on the sheet I had left after cutting the skirt. I could have sacrificed some of the skirt to make them fit, but because the print is so large I was a bit pedantic about the way it was cut. And I wanted that skirt super full. Which is helped out by the lining too.

webDSC_5369

In the end I decided on my old faithful tea dress bodice. The princess seams mean you can move the pieces around to get the absolute most out of your fabric. It’s a very old pattern that I inherited from my nanny and has been much altered over the years. It’s the pattern that launched my business and I still sell dresses from it in the shop today. I did have to shorten the bodice slightly and lower the back to get the pieces to fit, but it’s all worked out in the end.

webDSC_5365

I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

 

 

 

Girt By Sea {Ken Done Smock Top}

Ken Done, what a legend. If you’re Australian, you’ll know him. If you’re not, let me explain – Ken Done is an amazing artist best known for his bright imagery of Australian landmarks. I remember his work was huge when I was a kid in the 80s, my Mum had one of his bags and every second person would have had something featuring his artwork in their house.

image

(Image from Time Out Sydney).

A good friend of mine, let’s call her Phoebe (coz that’s her name) has been keeping her eyes peeled for all things Ken Done for me. She’s the best shopper of vintage I know. She found this doona cover for me via a seller on Instagram. Of course I had to snap it up immediately. It’s languished in my sewing room for the last couple of months while I decided what to do with it. I can’t just be cutting into Ken Done willy nilly, you guys.

21056304_10203679629387885_1540981457315118271_o

As it turns out, I’ve been working on a big collaborative project with some very talented women lately (more about that in a bit), so I’m currently feeling quite a bit of love for Australian designers. I was admiring my Ken Done again and decided that it was going to be an Illawong top. This style of top is something I sew up and stock in the shop and was inspired by a 70s girl’s smock top pattern. It has a yoke (which I usually sew in a contrasting fabric) , bell sleeves and an oversized fit. They are super comfortable and a great top to wear with jeans. I will often wear them when I’m photographing as I can bend and move and not worry about flashing anyone. I generally make them out of lawn or rayon because they need something with drape, regular old quilting cotton is too rigid.

21122617_10203679720390160_2420782081566156895_o

web-9821

The old doona cover was so washed and worn that it had softened over time and I knew it would work in this style, I’m pretty sure it’s a poly cotton blend.

webDSC_2684

Yep, it works and I love it. I kept the Ken Done signature (?) and made sure I cut it so that it could be seen (it’s on my left shoulder in the pic). The yoke is from the bottom of the fabric which has a bit of a border print.

webDSC_2692

So what’s the other project I’ve got going on? It’s Girt Squad and you can follow along on Instagram and Facebook. It was started by the lovely Ellie Whittaker, who has designed some pretty damn cool work for a bunch of us makers to use to create a cohesive and unique collection. If you’re been following me for a while, you’ll know I’ve used a couple of Ellie’s prints in the past. I love those bright Aussie themes.

webDSC_0497webicecream

We haven’t launched yet, but it won’t be too long now! I’ve created a completely brand new design for Girt Squad and can’t wait to share it. Wait until you see what the other ladies have come up with, it’s pretty amazing. There will be women’s and children’s clothing, accessories and home decor – all available in the one shop. Stay tuned…

 

That 50s Dress With The Collar {Vintage Anne Adams 2056)

webDSC_2382

Another irresistible choice from my rather large box (es) of gifted patterns. Oh how I love these old mail order patterns. Ordered from the newspaper and posted out to you in your size. I have 5 or 6 of these, all with a handwritten address on the front.

webDSC_2384

This one was a relatively quick sew, all over in a couple of hours. Like all old patterns, this one assumes you know how to sew so the instructions are vague at best. But it’s not a big deal, it’s quite an easy pattern (no collar stand!) and I changed the skirt to a basic gathered one which makes it even easier. I know from past experience that those narrower skirts aren’t my jam.

webDSC_2428

I added interfacing to the collar and facing pieces because that’s just what you do. The instructions didn’t mention it, but I’m not sure if that’s because sewists back then just knew too or it wasn’t a thing. When was interfacing even invented? Before that I’m sure collars etc had something in them (different fabric, maybe?).

webDSC_2572

Fabric is Birch Organic Maritime which was purchased locally from East Coast Fabrics.  This is it here if you’re keen for an online source. Funny it’s listed as very light weight because I feel like it’s a bit heavier than other quilting cottons I’ve used.

webDSC_2465

Was it a success? Well, not really. There are multiple fit issues and some weird drag lines. Part of it I was blaming on the fabric, but I have used quilting cottons for shirt dresses without a problem in the past, so I don’t know for sure.  The most obvious problem in the bust darts are suuuuper high. Also the bodice is a bit short so it’s sitting higher on my waist than usual. That’s a very strange problem for me as I’m quite short, so I generally have to shorten my bodices. The bodice has tucks too and I think maybe I’m just not used to the shape of them, I prefer darts. I do like the shape of that neckline and collar though. Plus mega angled pockets.

webDSC_2492

It feels simultaneously too big and too small in different places. So weird.  All in all, not the greatest but I’ve definitely made worse. I generally wear belts with most of my dresses, so that helps. I found a narrower one this morning which works better than the wide one in the images. If I don’t end up wearing it, I’ll save the skirt and add a waistband. If nothing else, Sid enjoyed his walk and the photos look pretty.

High five, buddy.

webDSC_2522

That 70s Dress With The Frills {Vintage Simplicity 6396}

webDSC_2156

Remember those boxes of vintage patterns I was gifted? This dress has been sitting close to the surface of my MUST MAKE pile ever since they made their way into my home and heart. Isn’t it fun? I love the way it wraps around the bodice. And we all know I do love a good wrap. This one has a zip in the back, so doesn’t have any adjustment for food babies – it’s just a cool design feature. Actually there’s a number of different wrap variations in the 70s patterns I was given, they were getting creative back then. So there will be more. Oh yes.

webDSC_2161

I grabbed this leopard print chiffon (? I think) from the bargain table at Spotlight recently for the grand sum of $5/m – specifically with this dress in mind. I couldn’t remember exactly how much was required so bought 4 metres. As it turns out, I was slightly short on the bottom ruffle, but being a toile it’s not a big deal. I know, me making toiles again, who am I? But being such a fabric hungry dress, I didn’t want to waste 4+ metres on something that didn’t fit.

webDSC_2154

It looks like the bottom hem is so wonky hanging there, but I swear it’s not.

webDSC_2158

Obviously I made view without any changes (besides being one panel short on the bottom ruffle). Because it’s such a sheet fabric, I lined with cotton lawn – but not the full length. So I guess that’s a change too. You construct the dress bodice as you’d imagine, then the collar with frills gets added.

webDSC_2231

As you can see, my copy is for a 36″ bust. I do not have a 36″ bust, mine is more like 40 – 41″. Once again, I added 1.5cm to the side seams and hoped for the best. In the end I had to remove that because it was too big, especially around the back. So I could have just made it straight off the pattern without any adjustments. Again proving that vintage patterns have a heap of ease. And this is a dress that really has to be quite fitted, the ties don’t have any tightening effect on the back.

webDSC_2176

I did have this one in mind as another option for the wedding we’re off to in November, completely disregarding the fact that I get irrationally annoyed by most things halterneck. Especially when I have a camera hanging off my neck too. Halterneck bras and swimmers are a hard no, but dresses seem to annoy me too. I don’t get the same headaches, but I feel mildly uncomfortable.

webDSC_2188

I’d put up with it if I was totally in love with the dress, but the Sew House Seven Tea House dress is still the front runner (and I ordered some amaaaaaazing pink silk for another one today) so this one can be a back a plan if required. It’s still pretty cool. And I can wear it for a few hours if we have something a little bit fancier than normal to go to.

webDSC_2225

I’m glad I made it. I love how different it is, yet in a way still quite modern. Vintage patterns are funny like that. Take away the hairstyles, shoes and prints and you’ve got something that can be worn today without screaming “OMG LOOK HOW 70S I AM!’

webDSC_2157

I even did as I was told and did some hand stitching. I must admit, it does look a heap better that if I’d machined it.

webDSC_2254

I think a lot of the time with these old patterns, I just sew them simply because I want to. And I do truly learn something every time, so it’s worth it.

Thrifted Fabric Weekend {Ohhh Lulu Kate Camisole}

webDSC_1863

Hello again. I know, two posts in two days. Who even am I?

webDSC_1892

I know I’m generally anti PDF pattern, but I make an exception for Ohhh Lulu because she’s rad and also lingerie pattern pieces tend to be quite small so there’s not a whole lot of cutting and sticking paper together.

webDSC_1819

That said, the Kate Camisole (pattern here!) is cut on the bias so the front and back pieces are entire (not place on fold pieces) – does that make sense? So they are a bit bigger and there was some cutting and sticking required. But I survived.

webDSC_1826

There’s not much to this one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make mistakes! Oh no sir! Would have helped if I’d read the instructions properly, but honestly, I’m like a bull at a gate. MUST. SLOW. DOWN. The bias tape is meant to be bias facing, not binding. I used it as binding for the front. Oops. Too lazy to fix it though and it ain’t so bad. Sarah has a super helpful tutorial for this, which can be found here. I recommend watching it before you sew, not after like I did.

webDSC_1858

There are a number of variations on this pattern and I chose the lace back, she’s pretty cool right? The lace has a bit of stretch so I made it more stable with elastic (which is an option in the pattern instructions). It’s not scallop lace, but it has all these rad shapes in the fabric so I just cut around one of them and it’s the perfect size, really. I didn’t use sliders on the straps because I found they were a bit short on me. Next time I’ll lengthen them a bit.

webDSC_1889

Oh the fabric. It’s another op shop score. Same shop as the hanky panel fabric from yesterday, actually. It’s most definitely polyester but handled a hot iron really well, so I didn’t even have to swear or cry. I have a feeling it’s vintage, but I don’t know for sure. I only had about two metres of it, so it was perfect for this project – which uses a bit more fabric than you’d expect because of the bias cut thing. I’ll definitely be making this one again.