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With Glamour and the Woman’s Budget

That is the tagline for Woman Magazine from 1953…could almost be the the tagline for any ‘woman’s interest’ magazine from today – apparently, not much changes (except women’s body shape but more about that another day!).  Anyway, this is a magazine I picked up on a recent trip to Daylesford and a huge vintage warehouse-type place called The Mill Markets – if you’re in the area, and love vintage you should check it out.  There’s a huge variety of items available from jewellery and clothing, to furniture and porcelain – and many others besides. 

I thought some of you might be interested in the contents of the magazine.  I’ll start you off with some drool-worthy dresses.

Let me know if you need the goss on Ava Gardner's life story, okay?

I love this dreamy dress – I might need to make myself one for next Spring.  It’s the perfect Spring sun-dress for floating around gardens in, don’t you think?

I want them all!

How brilliant is this collection of dresses?  I think I could use at least one of each in my wardrobe.  I particularly like the purple dress on the right.

Colourful Seersuckers, indeed!

I really wish I could find seersucker as colourful as this nowadays.  I reckon I’d rock the green version!

Well, that’s enough staring dolefully at dresses for me for now – time to go and make some of my own.  I’ve a few more gems from the magazine to share soon, so keep an eye out if you’re keen to see more.


Nemesis thwarted

Finally!  It’s done!  The pink dress of doom is no longer a dress of doom but now a dress of va-va-voom!  Or almost, anyway…

Finally...the finished product!

So what if it doesn’t look much like what it was supposed to?  It’s way better than what it was.  Check both out here (if you dare).

After spending way too long with my seam-ripper taking it all apart, re-sewing it, taking it apart again, (rinse, lather, repeat) I finally decided on a course of action which was to take the top part of the bodice from my best-fitting dress pattern and adjust it to fit the remainder of the dress.  It was such a simple solution, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think of, and implement, it earlier.  It could have saved me from my current feelings of nausea whenever I see pink.

Bodice, or yoke, with the reversed fabric

I made a quick muslin of the bodice to ensure that it would work the way I (eventually) envisaged, and when that seemed to fit the bill, I turned the muslin into the lining.

Op-shopped bed linen for lining

I had to bring the side seams in rather a lot – 60s style straight shifts look awful on me! Who do they suit? – and reattach the zipper for the 40th time, but once that was done (by hand) the dress was finally complete.  Hurrah!  I’ll get a photo of me wearing it soon – it’s way too cold here at the moment for me to even consider getting in and out of clothing for the sake of showing off!

And keeping with my promise to myself that once I’d finished a UFO that I could make something from scratch I whipped up another version of my favourite dress (check out the others here and here).

Simplicity 4744

I’ve already made two other versions of this, however, each are slightly different from the others.  With this most current version, I omitted the pleats right on the sides and it ended up having a sleeker, more sophisticated skirt shape, being more fitted around the hips, rather the usual flare.

Isn't the fabric dreamy?

As I’ve made this dress a couple of times already it went together like a dream, and took only a few hours (including hand sewing the hem, and hand-picking the zipper).  I love those patterns that fit, and just work so easily.  I need to get more of those into my repertoire.  In the mean time, I’ve a couple more projects on the go, and a few more finished ones that I’m loving at the moment, but at the moment I’m so relieved that the Dress of Doom is off my sewing table, I’ll leave the updates there.

Bits and pieces

So, once again it’s been forever since I posted and while I’ve been a little slack in the crafty realm, it hasn’t been complete slackness.  I’ve made a few gifts for some little people in my life.  Some friends recently had a baby girl and I really wanted to make her a small gift.  This turned into a sort of gift-making domino effect (as you’ll soon see).  I decided to make some gorgeous little shoes from Pip Lincolne’s book, Meet Me At Mikes.

I was given this book a couple of years ago, when I was just a fledgling sewist.  I love the little projects in the book and I’ve made quite a lot of them.  They’re not difficult and the instructions are very simple and clear and include really important steps such as ‘make yourself a cup of tea’ which I really appreciate and believe are necessary.  Pip also has a great blog – you should check it out.  Anyway, enough gushing – onto the shoes!

Aren’t they gorgeous and tiny?!

Once I’d completed the shoes, I realised that baby girl’s brother was about to turn two (domino effect begins) and I couldn’t post a gift to the new addition without a birthday gift for the little man, so I made him a mini pair of pyjama pants.

While the fabric part of this project was taken care of (leftovers from PJ pants for Dajarra a while ago) I had no pattern and no idea how small two year old children are.  Luckily I work with someone who has a two year old boy of their own and I asked to borrow a pair of his pyjama pants to make a pattern.  I couldn’t very well borrow his pants to make another boy some pants without making him some of his own, so enter the final part of the domino effect.  Pyjama pants #2.

I love this fabric – retro computer critters (I have no idea what they’re really called…or if they even have a name).  For some reason, while I can usually take-or-leave small children, I really love making things for them.

Onto project(s) #2.  I recently taught myself to crochet.  We’re travelling for a few months later on in the year and I couldn’t bear the thought of being craft-free while travelling, and while I can’t haul my sewing machine around Europe, I knew there would be something out there that would satisfy my crafty needs.  My  mind turned to crochet.  I became a little bit obsessed, even if my first attempts weren’t always successful.  Check these babies out:

They were supposed to be the beginnings to granny squares, but my counting always seemed off (Dajarra has helpfully suggested they could be crocheted nipple tassels…).  I couldn’t figure out how as I can usually successfully count within the single figures and it turns out I just wasn’t pulling them out enough – you can be rough with yarn!  Anyway, I finally got my head around it and have started a granny square blanket.

How ’70s is it looking?!  I have no idea to what purpose I’ll put it to, but I’m enjoying the process and crocheting these squares is a really lovely way to relax in front of the telly before heading to bed for the evening.  My new found love of crocheting led to my next ‘me-made’ gift; a scarf for a dear friend.  After scouring YouTube for someone who could teach me (via pre-recorded video) how to make a lovely scarf I found The Stingy Stitcher‘s Infinity Scarf.  It’s a great stitch and very easy to do once you get going.

I’m a bit of a slow learner, so after a few false starts (great thing about crocheting is that if you mess up you can easily pull it out again, unlike sewing where hours of getting-to-know-you time with a seam ripper is usually in order) I finally got on a roll and finished it up this week.

And here’s the always gorgeous Dajarra modelling it for us:

I usually don’t post gifts on here until they’ve been received, but I know she won’t read this so it’s okay this time around.  I hope she likes it!

And, finally, the dreaded pink dress I posted about last time.  I stated that I wouldn’t start a new project until I’d fixed it – I still haven’t finished it, but I keep telling myself that I haven’t cheated in my pledge to myself because I haven’t sewn any new items for myself.  That’s totally not cheating, right?  Right?  Anyway, I finally got sick of not being able to make any more new stuff for me, so after a few unsuccessful attempts at fixing it easily, I’ve come up with a new tack and should (hopefully) have the new and improved dress ready to show you soon.

My secret shame

Like a lot of crafters (I can’t be the only one, surely?) I knew I had a few unfinished objects (UFOs) around the house, but until we packed up our last house in order to move, I didn’t realise just how many I actually had…

This is just one box…I have a few more stashed in another box because they wouldn’t all fit in this one, so there’re quite a few sad looking half (or not even) finished garments just waiting to be either put out of their misery or brought back to life.  The UFOs became that way for a variety of reasons: fit issues, loss of interest, shunted aside in favour of a new, more exciting project and possibly some other small reasons as well.  I am determined to get my pile of UFOs under control and have pledged to assess and either toss impossible, awful, unfixable garments (recycling the fabric into another project, of course!) or fix, re-fit and finish those that I can salvage.  For each new project I begin, I have to eliminate at least one UFO from my pile.

In the interest of beginning on the right foot I decided to tackle an UFO before beginning anything new.  This is my first:

As you can see (or perhaps not?) it’s miles too big.  I’m not sure how this happened…I don’t strictly remember because it was so long ago, but I’m sure I would have measured, double checked everything, and I certainly haven’t lost any weight since I started this.  Because the fabric came from my trip to India last year, and is so, so lovely, I would have been extra sure that everything would have been okay…something – obviously – went very, very wrong.  Alright I’m over my little rant.  This is what it’s supposed to look like:

Butterick 4623

In addition to the huge (no pun intended) sizing issues, I also had not finished sewing the sleeves…

…taking the tacking out of the zipper…

…or started hemming the little blighter (no photograph required)…

The major issues with getting this into the wardrobe clearly begin with sorting out what the heck went wrong with the sizing and how the heck to fix it without hacking the gorgeous fabric to pieces.

Ugh!  Wish me luck!

New (sort of) Chairs

Just some quick pics of some dining chairs I recently updated to go with our brand-spanking new house.

The fabric was bought on our most recent trip to Ikea, and the dining set was one we inherited from my parents quite a few years ago.  I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo, but picture these chairs with red wine and food stained white fabric (we’re the grots – not Mum), and you get the idea.  They were nice, but a bit mumsy…and dirty.

The chairs were really easy to recover – and no sewing required!  A sturdy staple gun, a screw driver and scissors were the only tools required.

The orange fabric’s my favourite.  In fact, even though I’m not usually fond of orange, I could easily cover all the chairs with this fabric and live quite happily.

I also made a couch cushion from this awesome vintage-styled fabric, and an off-cut from a curtain I had to hem.  I also – shockingly – did my first buttonhole with my new machine.  Until I actually attached the buttonhole foot, I hadn’t realised I hadn’t used its buttonholing function yet.  I am in love – it was so, so easy and check out the buttonhole below (if you can actually see it – photo isn’t the best)!  It is perfect!

The cushion really brightens up the black chair, and every time I look at it I can pretend I’m camping on a gorgeous river somewhere in a retro caravan!

I’m back!

Hey-ho!  I’m back – after a reallllly long break.  I’ve had a lot going on since I last posted – moved house, overseas trip, Christmas, New Year….it doesn’t seem like that much writing it like that, but it’s all felt massive.

First things first – we’ve finally moved into our newly purchased, brand new house.  It’s lovely to be in our own space and to be able to knock holes in walls if the desire to do so overcomes us.  We’ve been busy bees decorating and arranging and rearranging bits and pieces (posts on some of this to follow in the near future).

Next – onto some sewing relating news.  The only new things I’ve created with fabric and thread recently were Christmas gifts for loved ones.  The first one was a felt grocery set for my gorgeous niece.

Felty yumminess

If you’re clever, you will have noticed that the red bag looks like it’s upside down…it is.  After sewing the white recycling arrows onto the red felt, I stitched the red parts of the bag together without really paying attention to direction…by the time I realised I really didn’t want to unpick the stitching to put it the right way up.  I tried to convince myself it was more unique (and thus more valuable) if it remained upside down.  I still photographed it with the arrows the right way up, though…

The eggs started out to be a bit of a disaster…following the pattern instructions (bought, by the way, from this Etsy store), they looked more like onions than eggs (I vox popped random visitors to our home to gauge their opinion and they agreed).  This, I’m willing to admit, might be because of my dodgy sewing, or due to the fact they’re made from brown felt).  Anyway, not completely happy with them, I played with the construction a little until they looked more like eggs in my eyes (white eggs).

Next up on the gift-list was this awesome (if I do say so sew myself) piece of embroidery for my lovely.  He is a DJ in his spare time, and years ago he designed a logo for himself that I decided to embroider for his Christmas gift.

DJ Dajarra in da house, y'all!

I managed to make this masterpiece by printing off the logo, placing it on a lightbox (which I luckily have access to through work, though a sunny window would work just as well) and tracing the lines with nothing more than a simple grey-lead pencil onto the fabric.  I then spent a stupid amount of time sneaking around trying to finish it without the DJ himself discovering me.  I actually ended up doing most of the embroidery on the tram on the way to work in the mornings, and in the process started up an accidental craft circle.  After being given some strange looks by some tram passengers for a couple of mornings, a lovely older lady approached me one morning and asked if she could join my “travelling craft group”.  I, of course, welcomed the company, and as she knitted and I embroidered, we had a lovely time crafting our way to work.  Hello, knitting lady from the 86!  (I never did ask her name…)

I’m quite proud of this piece as, though I’ve done a little, I’ve never really applied myself to any serious embroidery before.  If you’re in the Melbourne (Australia) area, and in want/need of an awesome DJ who spins amazing old-school tracks, and is very handsome to boot, you should definitely check out DJ Dajarra.  He is guaranteed to get everyone boogying!

Glow in the dark! Whoo!

The caption above might clue you into the fact that I used some glow in the dark thread.  The white line of embroidery next to the thread actually glows in the dark!  I read about this thread somewhere on the ‘net, and knew I had to somehow incorporate it into Dajarra’s piece as our dinner parties often devolve into dance parties in the dark around the DJ decks.  The camera batteries are dead at the minute, so I can’t show you a pic, but I’ll update in the next day or two, just to prove it to you.

Happy new year everyone! xox

Shades of Blue

I recently finished up this project just in time to wear to a college ball (and I mean just finished – like I hemmed the skirt about an hour before I had to leave for the event!).  Of course I still had time to take a few photos before I left:

The pattern is McCall’s 5784 from 1961 and it’s just delightful.

McCall's 5784

I made my version from a lovely vintage inspired print from my local Spotlight, and the contrasting band at the neckline was made from a remnant of vintage fabric that I bought a while back from Rathdowne Fabrics (if you’re a Melbournite and haven’t checked out this store yet, you really must!).  I made a couple of changes to the dress.  Because the print was so busy and I know I’d have no chance of matching it, I decided to cut the front bodice on the fold rather than having two front bodice pieces – this caused a couple of problems for me a bit later on, but it all worked out in the end.

I also halved the amount of fabric in the skirt because I didn’t have enough – this baby needs probably 2.5 metres for the skirt alone!  I also changed the required pleats to a simple gather – mainly because I ran out of time to figure out where and how to place the pleats due to my removing half the fabric from the original version and not being able to simply use the pattern markings.

Figuring out how to face the ‘v’ in the front took a lot of time and patience, particularly since I wanted to line the bodice because I’ve decided I really dislike facings, and because of the aforementioned tweaks to the way I cut the front bodice.  I wish I hadn’t gone down this route now, the fabric didn’t really need to be lined, and it just turned out to be more trouble than it was worth.  I ended up ‘facing’ the v-neck with fusible tape.  Cheating, I know, but I literally spent hours trying to do it ‘properly’ (i.e. by actually sewing it) to no avail and this was the neatest solution I could come up with.  And no one will know except me (…and you – shhh, don’t tell!).

Another confession – because I didn’t have thread that matched the neck band well enough, I safety pinned the pieces together while wearing it rather than making a buttonhole – I’m a terrible seamstress…

While I love the finished product making this dress stretched my patience – all of my own making, I know.  Hopefully it will make me think before I deviate from a pattern too much in the future…probably not, but hopefully!