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In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines…

13 Jan

This dress was actually inspired by the little straw hat I am wearing, which I found at Sportsgirl of all places. Together with the faded blue of the dress and cream bib, it reminded me of a lovely book… Madeline!

I used the bodice pattern of the Brown Birds dress, which has proven to fit me so well, and added a basic gathered skirt made of two rectangular panels. The fabric is from an op-shop and feels like a cotton/linen mix; it drapes so beautifully. At the moment I am becoming more and more attracted to plain fabrics that feel lovely, rather than busy prints – although I don’t think I will ever stop loving them!

The cream bib is a piece I cut out of a 1930’s blouse that had become so tattered and stained there was no wearing it in public. It still has a few stains on it, but I figure that gives it character, right? I simply made up the bodice and hand-stitched the bib onto it. Originally I wanted to cut away the fabric behind the bib (an idea I am playing with in more detail at the moment) but decided that the stability lent by the blue fabric would help hold the shape of the vintage piece.

I learnt a new technique! At the top of the back zip I made a thread loop for a hook closure. I didn’t take a photo, but this involves making a few loops with stronger thread and covering the loop with blanket stitch. I hate sewing on metal eyes for hooks, and I see this little detail all the time on vintage blouses, so it’s going to be a handy skill I think!

I had to resort to self-timer photos here… you will probably get to see my whole house eventually! Ok… and you will see me using that 1960’s pattern a lot too because it’s so adaptable and well-fitting!


A vintage-print playsuit for hot Tiki nights

1 Jan

Happy New Year, crafty ladies and gentlemen! I’m still trying to think up some last-minute resolutions, but all I know is that I want to sew more, buy less, and spread the good word of the crafty revolution as much as I can!

I finished a playsuit! This was something of a trial effort, just to see if the style suits me. All too often I finish things and then realise it’s not flattering – just because it’s vintage doesn’t automatically mean it works for my shape. So here is the result. I used a vintage McCalls pattern for a bathing suit that I bought in Hobart years ago, but didn’t gather the bottom edges of the shorts as the pattern suggested. My thighs do not need that kind of attention!

I have used the bodice of this pattern before, for a dress, and found that it fitted really well. There are six darts in each half of the bodice. Six! So, for the lining and the outside I made twenty-four darts! But it fits, and that’s what counts.  My favourite dart (can there be such a thing?) is the one that lies on the front centre seam, between the boobs. It really helps to create a flattering shape there. The fabric is a quilting fabric I have been hoarding for a while. It’s so loud, but I think it works for a ‘fun’ garment such as this.

The tiki bar gets another outing.

I’m pretty happy with it, and feel comfortable wearing it. I think the key is the wide-leg shorts – anything tighter wouldn’t be so flattering. It’s almost like wearing a skirt! Now I am going to work my way through the other patterns I have found, because the more I wear this playsuit, the more I think my wardrobe could stand a decent selection!

White Christmas Ball Dress

13 Dec

Tired and sore feet and a sore head… must have been a fun night! This is what I wore to the Swing Sesh (my swing dancing school) White Christmas Ball! I made a dress & covered a pair of shoes for the event, because a girl always needs a fancy new outfit for a big night out. The pattern was McCalls 5036 from 1959, which I showed you in this post – I made it strapless rather than have a lace netting over the bodice because I couldn’t find a lace that was suitable, but I definitely want to try it again with lace included. The instructions looked really tricky to start with, but in the end I finished this quite quickly – it was the details that took a long time! Lots of pictures after the cut. Continue reading

The Sad Tale of the Brown Birds Dress:

4 Dec

Or, in which we learn the dangers of falling in love with vintage fabric.

I found this beautiful vintage fabric in an op shop some time ago and have hoarded it ever since; it was one of those that I took out and sighed over, wondering what I could use it for that would do justice to its fabulous brown 70’s bird pattern. There was not a lot of it either, so I had to be sure of myself! No mis-cutting, no slap-dash pattern matching. Eventually I settled on making a dress, a very simple dress from a pattern that fit me well and that had few design features so that the fabric could speak for itself. I used Simplicity 6194, a very plain 1960’s sheath dress with a basic bodice and an a-line skirt. I would wear it out in summer sipping coconut cocktails at the tiki bar or dancing on warm nights, and I could stand in the corner looking fabulous, not saying a word because that fabric would do all the talking for me.

I spent forever arranging the pattern pieces just so, making sure the main feature of the two birds would be centred on the bodice, and that no darts would mess up important parts of the print. I cut carefully and finished each piece neatly before sewing the dress together. I faced it with a sunny yellow quilting fabric so even the inside looked nice. There were a few tears in the fabric, sure, but I cut around them and patched what needed patching.

Then it came to putting in the zip. It went in perfectly, but as I went to press the last bits flat, the fabric tore under my fingers right next to the zipper. I patched them up; they tore again. The fabric was too fragile, too brittle. Having spent long years as a curtain (I imagine), the sun had done its dirty work and weakened the fabric too much. I interfaced next to the zip to stabilise the fabric, but being next to an area of stress meant the mending would not last long. The fabric was old, the pattern was old, and this dress was old before I even got to wear it once!

These photos are probably the only time I will wear it. Perhaps, if the opportunity to stand at a bar in high heels (so I can’t move), in an air-conditioned room (no sweating!) comes up, I’ll put on this dress and have a genteel drink to toast its former curtain-esque glory. More likely, I won’t be able to resist having a dance, and the whole thing will tear right down the back. In that case I will cut it up and re-use the good bits to make something like a lined handbag – I think those brown birds deserve to live a little bit longer, don’t you?