Blue Sailboats


Quick post of a dress I made just before Christmas. It’s funny I don’t think this dress is the most flattering thing I own but I’ve worn it a lot this summer.  I wore it to my uncle’s 80th in Sydney, and have worn it quite a lot to work on hot days – it’s quite heavy fabric but I think it might be a linen cotton mix as it feels very comfy in the heat. The weight of the fabric means the pleated skirt has a bit of body and flares nicely. And it is most excellent for cycling in because it’s heavy enough not to blow up and show ones knickers!




The pattern is actually a complete hack of the pattern I made my bicycles dress from.  The bodice of that one is a cross over but it fit so nicely I just overlaid the pattern pieces and used them for this one.  Then the skirt is just randomly pleated by me until I got something I was happy with. It doesn’t really wrinkle like that in the back, that’s just me posing weirdly.

There’s a side zip and  lapped press stud closure hidden inside the side pleats, modeled on the pattern for the other vintage dress I sewed recently. I like this better with a cardie than without so with the heavier fabric I think I might continue to wear it a bit in winter with tights.






Vintage purple floral




I love this dress!! This is the second time I’ve made the pattern. It’s a Vintage 1961 pattern McCalls 5780 (published 10 years before I was born). I was lucky enough to find the pattern in an op shop and it is the exact right size (miraculous!) The first time I made this lovely pattern was 12 months ago before I fired up my blog again, and I haven’t got around to blogging that one yet. So it was fairly straight forward this time, vintage techniques and all. The fabric is just a cotton from Spotlight but it’s got a nice soft hand. This dress takes a lot of fabric and they didn’t have enough on the roll when I bought it, so I rang around a few other Spotlights and got my lovely partner in crime to pick this up for me at a far flung store when he was nearby for work.This is #5 on my holiday to-do list. Technically I’ve finished my holidays since I’ve been back at work for 8 days so far, but school isn’t back until this coming week so I say it still counts. I’ve just had a four day weekend for Australia Day so I got the chance to finish a few more things off.



The dress has a lapped side zip, which is really a pain in the neck when it comes to getting the darn thing on and off, but it does give a lovely look with no back zip. The back darts fit perfectly and I’m a fan of the sleeve facings. The pleated skirt is the fiddly bit – I always find it’s pretty much impossible to get pleats exactly right the first time round, so one ends up having to tweak them to get them to fit exactly to the waist stay. Plus the way it fastens is interesting. I’ve put in a photo of the waist fastening instructions and you can see it has an extended underlap, with press studs which do up hidden in the pleat. They’re great pleats though, it sits beautifully. The purple satin ribbon waist stay looks pretty (even though only I get to see it!) and is a nice finishing touch.

I made it a little longer this time than last time, only slightly shorter than the pattern pieces intended (they’re always so long these vintage dresses!) I like it, I think it gives nice proportions. I’m very much looking forward to wearing this to work. I don’t have any fancier occasions planned so I think I might have to remedy that.

The Jane Austen silk





Miss Milly, Miss Laura and I are going to a garden picnic performance! It’s a performance of Sense and Sensibility in the gardens of Beaumont House. Naturally we need beautiful dresses to wear to such an occasion!

I picked this pattern out before Christmas but it took me quite a while to find the perfect fabric.  This needed something light weight but with plenty of drape so the flounce didn’t sit out from the body.

The pattern is New Look 6444 which is very in style at the moment – every woman and her dog seems to be wearing off the shoulder and/or deep frills.

The fabric is stunning pure silk from Eastern Silk at Mile End in Adelaide. They’re having a sale at the moment and are surprisingly reasonable.  I think this ended up costing about $30 which is not bad considering it needed lots of fabric. Be warned, the fabric amount allowed on the pattern envelope is incredibly generous which is kind of annoying when it’s expensive fabric, however I’ve made a whole top for myself from the leftovers so I’m not too cross!

I altered the elastic casing at the neckline so it doesn’t have a fabric frill sticking up above the top edge. This meant instead of using bias binding for the casing I just enclosed the elastic between the top and frill.  To do this I stitched them together at the top edge with right side of frill to wrong side of top then turned it to the outside.  Then top stitched 1cm from the top.

I wanted a shorter dress but the same length all round (not hi-lo) so I used the front piece from the shorter version for both the front and back skirt. Because the silk frays like crazy I’ve French seamed everything and turned all hems and casings under so the raw edge is enclosed. This all took a ridiculous amount of time even for a slow poke like me. I actually did an all-nighter, sewing and watching Outlander on Netflix, and finished the dress just as the sun came up!

The dress seems to be able to be worn on the shoulder, off the shoulder, or one shouldered, which my teens tell me is all the rage. Milly is thrilled with it.  I can tell because she’s been parading around in it wearing my floppy hat.  I think we’re going to have a fabulous time next week at the performance and picnic. Now I just need to get cracking on my own dress which is all cut out but not yet started sewing!

P.S. this was #4 on my holiday to-do list.

Summer stripes – aka seized by the McCalls 6696 zeitgeist


Somehow I missed the memo about McCalls 6696 being the-dress-that-everyone-is-making. All on my own I picked out the pattern and decided to sew myself a pretty shirt dress, thinking I was acting with free will, but obviously I’d somehow been seized by the 6696 zeitgeist, since it only took a quick google before cutting to discover that it’s a huge hit in blogland.


The fabric is some lovely light John Kaldor fabric I picked up at an op shop – $4 for 4 metres. I’ve fully lined the front bodice then just used bias binding on the raw edge of the bodice back below the yoke. The fabric is quite a loose weave and frays easily so I love that every single seam is enclosed and it looks so neat on the inside. And I’m really pleased with the way the stripes have ended up matching up because they’re not actually straight. They’re just slightly irregular, which adds to the charm, but made it tricky! The only other hiccup was my automatic buttonhole stitch decided it objected to doing buttonholes over anything remotely bumpy and wouldn’t play ball. That last photo with me looking at the photographer with my best ‘just take the photo already’ expression, is kind of how I was looking at my sewing machine! I don’t have a 4 step buttonhole on my machine so had to do them manually, which is not my idea of fun when there’s 10 buttonholes. I’ve left the buttonhole off the stand collar since I won’t ever button it and I was well and truly over them by then.

I’ve cut the shoulders away a little as I find it more flattering, and made the dress shorter, but having to decide the length when I it was only part made, I think I accidentally made it just a little too short for the proportions of where the waistband sits. Anyway I wore it today to our work Christmas picnic and it felt lovely and summery at this length so I can live with it. Actually I think I love it, and it looks cute with a short cardi. Black is ok but navy would be perfect so I might just have to buy a navy cardi…

Retro Robot shift dress


We went to Supanova today! It’s kind of the poor cousin of Oz Comic Con, and after last year’s Supanova I said it wasn’t worth it and I wouldn’t go again. But then I heard Nathan Fillion was speaking so that was that, seeing as how he starred in the best Sci-Fi TV Firefly, ie one of my all time favourite shows ever!

Normally a dress like this is the kind of thing you expect to see a 5 year old wearing, but at a con it’s positively conservative. It was made as a wearable muslin for some gorgeous corduroy I bought a while ago (of course I’ve not got around to making the proper one yet and now it’s  summer I probably won’t until mid next year). The  robots were calling to me from the specials table at Spotlight and I think I paid about $5 for the fabric. The pattern is from Ottobre 2/2009. I’ve moved the front darts in towards the centre by 3cm each and moved the pockets to suit me. I lined the pockets with some candy pink fabric out of my scrap basket. Weirdly, I don’t remember ever buying the pink stuff, or using it for anything else, so goodness knows where it came from but it was just right. I cut the pocket linings slightly too big so you can see the pink poking out from the front. The sewing is a bit rough but I was thinking of this as my practice version and you can’t tell with the busy pattern.

The zip on the back is a serendipitous op shop find with metal teeth. I never wear pink normally so I’m pleased I could use it on this dress. I’ve put it on the outside and left the bottom raw in some pretence of trendiness.

So Nathan was awesome, of course. We lined up for an hour and ended up in the third row with a great view. It was a huge audience for Adelaide and the atmosphere at these things is always amazing, plus there was some really incredible sewing on display in all the cosplay.

Shop and Sew Bicycles


Yes, all three at once – a vintage pattern, sewn up in the cutest bicycle print fabric from Spoonflower! Our work end of year ball was last night and this year the theme was sport. Lots of our staff like to do fancy dress but I didn’t want to come in sports gear, I wanted a pretty dress, so I hit on the notion of showing my sport via the fabric. It was down to the wire with the fabric only arriving on Monday (it took a whole month to find its way from the US this time, I think carrier pigeon would been faster but at least it did arrive). So I sewed all evening on Tuesday and Wednesday leaving Thursday late night for the shoe shopping and just got there.

The pattern is a 1960s dress and I’ve sewn view B. My waist isn’t as nipped in as the 1960s sirens on the pattern envelope so I cheated a few extra cms by tilting the pattern pieces at the centre front and back, with the added benefit of narrowing the skirt a little at the hem which I like. I also added an extra couple of cm at the side seams of the top and skirt, but took the bodice in a cm under each arm. I needed to slope the shoulders a little more that the pattern to get the back to sit properly and was ridiculously pleased with myself that I remembered to then take a little dart out of the collar pattern piece to slope it the same amount. I took about 20cm off the length which would otherwise have been much longer than it looks on the pattern (and I’m not short).  The back bodice is supposed to gather onto the skirt (the one bit of the design I wasn’t too keen on), so I hoped I could do darts instead. For various reasons I ended up doing two darts, plus still doing some gathering which seems to have worked well. The back is pouching slightly which I think indicates it’s slightly too long in the back, but never mind it’s otherwise all good.

I really love the collar, and the way it just covers my 45 year old mum arms while still being sleeveless! A lot of effort went into getting it to sit perfectly – trimming about 3mm off the under collar and carefully understitching so that the outer collar piece ended up a tiny bit larger and would curve nicely over the lining. I’m a bit worried I’ve clipped the notches on the collar too far and that they’ll fray, but they wouldn’t turn out nicely until I did. I intended to full line the bodice as I love the neatness this gives, but it made the back too heavy for the gathering, so I’ve ended up trimming the fabric off to turn it back into a facing. Not so neat, but it worked nicely. I’ll just have to put up with the visible seams on the inside! All in all I am super happy with this. It will be good for work on days I need to look schmick, and I’ll keep looking for the perfect shoes. These are ok but I’m imagining a cute pair of red or indigo mary janes would be perfection. And don’t you love my necklace! – From this wonderful Etsy seller.

Having only got back into blogging in the last couple of months I’m very late to the vintage pledge party, but better late than never – I’ve added the button to my blog. This is my second vintage pattern of the year but first with the button. I will hopefully get in a couple more before the end of December and can join in properly next year!

Still life – sewing with cats

My weekend feels like it has mostly consisted of turning my back for ten seconds, then removing whichever cat moved in and  sat on whatever I was working on! Laura and I have both been sewing so there’s been double the fabric for the cats to make their own. Nothing is finished yet, so instead I bring you still life with cats. I particularly like the outraged look of ‘can’t you see I’m busy having a wash!’

Vintage awesomeness!




I’ve had such brilliant op shop finds in the last couple of weeks. Firstly this vintage pattern from 1960, in my size (which is not usually 16, but sizing was different then). I’ve ordered some fabric to make it in from Spoonflower and am waiting patiently impatiently for it to arrive. Checking the post box every time I walk past!  I plan to make view B, the sleeveless, single collared version, and will shorten the skirt, which is much longer than it looks in the pattern picture. The pattern pieces have been cut before, but are in perfect condition. I love to think that I’m sewing something that a woman sewed with 60 years ago.

I also picked up this beautiful velvet piece of fabric for just $7 at the Salvos. It was really hard to get a good photograph of the rich colours, suffice to say it’s just gorgeous. On the same day Laura got a short denim pinafore in the latest fashion for $6. It fit everywhere but her tiny waist so I’ve just been supervising as she’s unpicked the waistband and back seam, taken it in to fit, topstitched (only one broken double needle…), shortened the waist band and yoke, then reattached and top stitched the yoke.


And, bargain of the year, Laura and I chanced upon a pair of sparkly, genuine, red-soled, seemingly unworn Louboutins at the same Salvos. They were a bit more expensive than the average, $50, but still a bargain. Unfortunately they are too small at size 38 for either of us, so we’ll just admire them for a while then either sell them on ebay or find a friend who wants to buy them. I just tagged this Louboutins – bet I don’t get to do that again!