That 80s Dress With The Ruffles {Vintage Simplicity 5884}

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If you follow me on Insta, you would have noticed that I’ve been getting into a bit of pants (sorry UK friends – trouser) sewing lately. I bought the Jedediah Pants pattern by Thread Theory and figured I’d start with sewing pants for my husband since he’s a bit less curvy than me. He’s actually the complete opposite of me – tall, angular and mostly straight lines. I made one muslin, a couple of changes and bam – now he has three pairs of pants (which I’ll blog when I can photograph them all on his person). Did I get cocky? Yes. I moved onto Closet Case Patterns Morgan Jeans for me. Oh man, what a steep and painful learning curve. Long story short – even after two muslins I can’t get any semblance of fit.

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So what’s a girl to do to come back from such a knock to the ego? She bloody digs through her gifted vintage pattern stash and finds something to reassure herself that she can actually sew. An elastic waist almost guarantees that baby will fit.

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I’ll admit I did hesitate. I mean, look at it in all its 1983 glory. It could be amazing or really, really bad. There is no middle ground with a pattern like this.

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Did I sew that sucker anyway? Of course! I do love me a frill and they are bang on trend right now. Not that I’m a huge follower of trends, but frills man – so fun.

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I sewed this one out of a super light and floaty Lizzy House double gauze (I bought mine locally and I’m not sure it’s even available anymore). If you’ve never used double gauze before, let me try and describe it for you. It’s a bit like a Labrador puppy (stay with me) – soft as hell, cute as a button but does like to roll over on itself and misbehave in a ridiculous manner. Plus it sheds like crazy. It needs a firm but gentle hand or it will end you (or itself when it throws itself under the overlocker blade – fabric, not puppy – the puppy analogy ended).

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I think after the ruffles and the forgiving waist, the coolest part of this pattern is the rad way the back is finished. On modern patterns with the keyhole back, I’ve only ever seen them finished by slashing the back and wrestling with a very narrow seam allowance to stitch down either side. This way is so much neater and easier! You sew the facing around the neckline and then stitch down the back to a point (through the back and facing) and back up. Then you slash between your two stitching lines to get the back opening. It’s super cool (and I might have been living under a rock but I’ve never seen it before). I do find I learn new techniques from vintage patterns.

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To be honest though, I really wasn’t sure how this would turn out until the very end. I’d decided to attempt sleeves because I really do prefer them, but I knew those puffy delights on the pattern weren’t for me. I decided to make them but leave off the gathering into the cuff on the bottom – I figured they’d be more like flutter sleeves that way. ALMOST RIGHT KATIE. But I forgot one thing – the metric shit tonne of ease in the sleeve caps. OMG. It was like gathering another skirt. Those babies stood out all on their own with structure never seen before in double gauze, no doubt. Those sleeves were turfed into the bin, I dug out the sleeve pattern pieces and traced it again, this time taking a couple of wedges out of the cap. Not technically correct I’m sure, but it worked very well.

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Feeling pretty damn pleased at my problem solving skills, I tried the dress on before hemming. Oh wow, I nearly cried – frump city. The skirt hit me between the shin and ankle and was very very ‘sister wife’ looking. I had nothing to lose, so I cut 15cms off the bottom, hemmed it and tried it on with a belt. YASSSSSS. It was just as I’d hoped. It’s truly amazing what a hem and a belt can achieve.

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I was so damn pleased with my frilly 80s secret pjs, that I went up to my sewing room and grabbed this beautiful nautical print from The Material Girl that I’ve been saving for something special.

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Isn’t it amazing? Bearded sailor, pretzel rope – what’s not to love? I only had 2m so had to forgo my precious sleeves. If it comes to it, I can wear a cardi or a fitted t shirt underneath.

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I sized down for this one as the gauze one is slightly blouse-y and because I was using a quilting weight (although incredibly soft for qc) cotton this time, I thought it would be better a bit smaller. Also that clever back facing wants to flip on this version, so I’ve stitched it down.

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I love this dress so much that you might just see its friends appear in the shop eventually…

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Merry Christmas {Vintage Simplicity 9008 in Outback Wife fabric}

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If you sew, you probably know about Outback Wife, the range of barkcloth designed by Cathi of Gertrude Made. If you don’t, I’ve blogged about it before here. Want some? I scored mine from Voodoo Rabbit in Brisbane, but be warned, it sells out damn fast.

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This particular range of barkcloth is 100% cotton, made in Japan and feels amazing. How special is this red colourway? It’s the perfect Christmas palette really, without screaming Christmas – because you can bet I’ll be wearing this baby all year round. I’ve loved this one since I first spied it on Instagram months ago. I didn’t have it pegged for a Christmas dress, but I just happened to see that Voodoo Rabbit added it to their shop a few nights ago and petrified that it would sell out, I made sure I bought some. As it turned out, it arrived super quickly and I couldn’t wait to turn it into a dress.

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I decided on the Gunne Sax dress that I’ve made three times recently. I know. But it is quite an easy sew and fits well. There was no way I was risking a new pattern on this fabric. This time though, I swapped the huge paneled skirt for a more simple circle skirt – it uses less fabric and I also didn’t want to cut through the print. I know that’s weird, especially for me and especially with a floral (I’m generally not into them), but look how pretttttttty it is.

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I used a vintage zipper from my stash and popped some pearl buttons on the front. They are dual purpose and help keep the front facing in place. This time it wanted to keep flipping up, which might just be the nature of the fabric. Ooh and I swapped the tie straps for slightly wider regular straps. I interfaced them this time too because the barkcloth seems to stretch out a little bit.

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I’ll be wearing this beauty tomorrow when I hang out with my family on the river, as is our tradition. We’ll arrive at about 7am, have bacon and eggs on one of the BBQs down there, swim, drink cold brew coffee, laugh, eat some more and then head home for a bit of a nap by about 11am. Then in the afternoon we’ll head to my parents place for a late lunch/early dinner that will consist of seafood, ham and salad. I’ve made Malteser cheesecake for dessert. It’s far too hot here to eat a traditional Christmas dinner. How do you do Christmas in your part of the world?

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Thank you for your comments, love and support, beautiful people. Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. See you again soon.

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Rainbow {Vintage Simplicity 7189}

I know. Now I’m just showing off.

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Weeeee! I’m an adult!

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

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

 

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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?).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!’

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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.

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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.

Party In The Back {Vintage Simplicity 6926}

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You know I love a vintage pattern. Oh yes I do. It’s always a bit of  gamble picking them up at op shops because sometimes they incomplete or torn, but for 50c it’s worth it just to look at the cool illustrations on the envelope. I got so excited when I found this one because (a) it’s not that far off my actual size and (b) I am on such a pinafore kick right now. I think they are called a jumper in the US. And our jumpers you call sweaters. Confused yet?

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I’ve actually been searching high and low to find a reissued version by one of the Big 4 pattern companies. Come on guys, do it for me?

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The owl fabric is by Art Gallery Fabrics, most likely I bought it from Hawthorne Threads, but it was a while back (oooh – click on the link, they still have some!). I love it but was super paranoid about getting owl boobs due to the size of the print. I managed to avoid it though.

webDSC_1059The buttons are fabric covered and another op shop find. I found a bag of mixed ones but didn’t have enough of the white for the front two buttons, so used pink instead. I wish there was ten of the pink ones because I definitely prefer them. The square white ones tip and tilt a lot and sort of remind me of chewing gum. I might end up changing them for something else.

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Pockets!

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I made version two and really didn’t change much at all besides cutting the front piece on the fold so I didn’t have that centre front seam. It would have been a shame to cut up the owls. I finished the hem with grey satin bias binding (which you can see peeking out in the pic above).

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Fit-wise I cheated and added about one centimetre to each side seam after comparing the pattern pieces to my current dresses. Vintage patterns do seem to have a lot of ease. This one is for a 36″ bust and I’m about 40″. There is a slight gape under the arms but I’m very happy with the fit considering the hack job I did.

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It does look slightly apron-y, but I don’t mind it at all. In winter I’ll be able to layer it with long sleeve tops and in summer it will be perfect as is. She will be known as my mullet dress, party in the back!

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