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.

Rudolph the reindeer skirt




Yet another Christmas event – this time the work Christmas breakfast at which our exec cook breakfast and our CEO hands out the Kris Kringle presents. It’s one of the things I like about working right up til Christmas, the never ending work Christmas events. We’ve still got our social club lunch to come next week, so I might have to make something else for that.

I’m cheating, because I made this skirt for last year’s breakfast, when I was in what I’ll kindly call my blog hiatus phase, so it’s only fair to blog it today when I wore it again. Despite appearances to the contrary I did iron it. The oddness of the photos is due to a lack of children who haven’t taken the start of school holidays as their cue to become glued to screens, so you’re looking at my first attempts using the timer on my iPad. It seems to be keen on overexposed photos, low resolution and taking people unawares.

Rudolph is a wrap around skirt, made from the skirt part of McCalls 7119. The wrap isn’t as wrappish as it should be to avoid accidentally showing one’s undies but it’s not disastrous, I just put in a couple of modesty safety pins. I recall thinking last year that I’d be sure to lose a few inches before wearing it this year and that would fix it, but oddly that hasn’t happened! Considering this skirt was a spur of the moment fabric buy from the specials table at Spotlight, the night before I wanted to wear it, the sewing itself isn’t the highest quality but you can’t deny it’s fun.



I am completely in love with this pattern and this fabric. The fabric is the most wonderful puffin print in gorgeous organic cotton French terry. I bought it intending to make something for one of the kids, but when it arrived in the mail I loved it so much I selfishly kept it for myself. Unfortunately since it was going to be kidswear, I only bought 1 metre so it took a fair bit of creative playing around with the layout to squeeze the pieces out, but with a few very narrow seam allowances I triumphed in the end. The collar and cuffs both had to be cut in two pieces to fit them in and the bottom hem has been sewn with bias binding since it’s slightly shorter than it ought to be. The bias looks great though, a nice case of a compromise resulting in a better finish.

The pattern is McCalls 7061 and anyone could be forgiven for thinking they’d never seen this cute cowl pattern before, because the pattern envelope is a serious contender for Worst Pattern Envelope Photo of All Time. I mean WTF McCalls?? Fluffy pink camo print and blue neck bows?! I made view A pretty much as is except for leaving out the bow, and also left out the small amount of shaping in the side seams as I wanted a boxier shape. I do love a cowl neck in a knit since it means not having to faff around with binding or ribbing and gives a lovely professional finish. In the photo above you can see how few scraps I had left, which is sad as I would have liked to make something else from this beautiful print. The good news though is that it’s available on Spoonflower so I can order more if I want to.

I’m clearly not the only one who loves puffins, as I wore this last week on casual day at work and as well as a few compliments from colleagues I had two random people at the shops tell me they loved it. Shallow I know, but it’s nice when people like what you’ve made!

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!

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!

A Bright Start to the Year

Searching for an old blog post, I was kind of sad to realise I only did 7 posts in 2009 😦 I just got too busy. So, I am determined to do more sewing and more blogging in 2010.This dress was whipped up yesterday from some remnants. The print fabric was originally used for pants for the eldest child about 9 years ago (!) so it’s nice to use up the last of it. The pattern is McCalls 2637, also last used in about 2001. I didn’t bother with buttonholes for the back straps and just sewed the buttons on, it is easy enough to pull on. It’s probably a bit garish for some tastes, but I think it suits her loud personality (and current behaviour!)

Summer Prettiness

I love this fabric. 9yo Laura chose it and had very particular ideas about what the dress should be like. The pattern is McCalls 5574 with a few modifications. Because the fabric is a border print I changed the skirt section from a flared piece to a rectangle with pleats, otherwise the border wouldn’t have run straight. The ties at the back are very narrow in the pattern and Laura and I agreed they would be better wider. I didn’t realise until I started cutting out that the midriff section is cut on the bias, but actually it worked out very nicely with the print running diagonally. Definitely a pattern to make again!