Monday, 8 February 2016

Third Time Lucky Blouse

 This blouse has been  very long time in the Last year, I found a Liberty 1960's shirtdress in the opshop. Of course I bought it, knowing I could turn it into something wearable.

Attempt one: I detached the bodice and skirt, added some darts to the bodice, as it was a few sizes too big, then I sewed it all back together. I wore it like this for a while, until one day y husband admitted it looked a bit frumpy. I'd been thinking the same, the whole thing didn't fit well, so back to the sewing pile.

 Attempt two: M6696, straight skirt version. The whole thing was a jigsaw of pattern pieces, but I got it made up until the point where you handsew down the button plackets. But I had forgotten to account for hips. My hips are quite large, and I had stupidly cut a 12 all over, where I should have graded the skirt out. There was no way that skirt was fitting down there. So I had to unpick all that work. Luckily I caught it before the handsewing had happened.

Third time lucky: using the skirt fabric, I cut an extension, and attached it to the bottom of the blouse section. Finally, wearable.

M6696 makes a great blouse pattern, and I'm hoping to make it again. I went with a mandarin collar partially because of fabric shortage, and partially for something different. I realise now mandarin collars really only work when the placket is curved to open the shirt at the neck. But I found a little gold brooch and wore the shirt completely buttoned up. It was comfortable, and looked good.

The buttons are from the original shirt dress. I am so happy this is finally finished and wearable. Whilst I would have loved it as a shirt dress, it's going to be a great blouse.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Results of #ufosewjanuary

SO, now January is over, it's time to reflect on how I went in reducing the UFO pile. I am calling it a success, even though I didn't get through as much as I had wanted. I got through most of the refashioning/mending pile. The pieces that are left are mostly half done projects, which I have motivation to finish anyway. the month was a good time to force myself to do some small sewing jobs that usually get lost in the excitement of new fabric. I was also a bit slow as I did a number of paid sewing jobs over the month. Nothing too exciting; work pants hemming, sewing in labels for small businesses etc. The best thing is now I have more room in my small sewing space, and my mind is running fast with new projects.

So here are my finished projects:

This BHL Anna blouse fits so well, but with a side zip is hard to get on. I did a quick fix so the side zip is now open at the bottom. It's still tight to get on, but I shouldn't now be busting stitches and pulling muscles whilst getting dressed
 My brown velvet skirt. Fixed the hem, and stitched down the top facing to stop the lining flipping out.
 I hand stitched down the facing to stop it flipping out. this is such a good hot weather dress
 No "after" picture, but all I did was take off about six inches from the length to make it easier to wear.
 Halter dress to skirt for my sister.
 Replacing a busted zipper. Once I get proper photos I will do a blog post on this.
 Finally finished my bridesmaid fabric shirt dress. I am getting so much wear out of this
The 'third time lucky' blouse. This gorgeous piece deserves its own blog post

I decided it was time for a few pieces to go, and also did some button salvaging. One or two pieces also went into "use fabric for other purposes" box.

So there you go! I'm hoping to finish off my other projects this month, as I also start new pieces. I was reunited last week with my cutting table, which I had missed so much this past year. It slots into the corner of our apartment, an I can roll it out when I am sewing. everything is now stored much neater, and I have cutting space. I am in the middle of sewing up a Mimi blouse in Liberty carline, so hope to share that soon.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The perfect shirtdress

I am so excited to have this dress finished, and ready to show you.

This is McCalls 6696, in the remainder of my bridesmaids dress fabric. When I was doing the wedding sewing, I bought ten metres of this gorgeous green, pink and cream floral. Because I was cutting out the dresses together, I ended up with a lot left over, and decided to make myself  a dress. I wanted something different from the bridesmaid dresses (which were BHL Anna bodice on Simplicity 2444 skirt), and decided I wanted to go with M6696.

After making my earlier version, this one was incredibly straight forward. Changes were minimal. I have eliminated the back gathers on the pattern, replacing them with the Simplicity 2444 back darts. I also shortened the bodice. Unlike my earlier version, I had enough fabric for the entire fullness of skirt. I also added about four inches to the skirt length, so it finishes mid calf. Unfortunately, these photos didn't turn out full length.

The buttons are plastic pearl-like shank buttons, which look great, an was much easier than trying to match the green.

Not too much else to say about this one, except I love it, and suspect it will be on high wardrobe rotation.

Monday, 25 January 2016


I am very excited to be taking part this year in the vintage pledge organized over at A Stitching Odyssey. I attempted it back in 2014, but my wedding dress threw that off kilter (looking back, my wedding dress would have been the perfect vintage pledge project), and 2015, I knew I wouldn't have the time.

So here I go: I, Kaitlyn, of Kaitlyn's Simply Vintage, pledge to sew up this year; my seven reproduction patterns, my two currently owned vintage patterns, and to find at least three new vintage patterns to add t
o my stash, sewing up at least two of them.

That is nice and complicated. Firstly, I love concrete plans, and thrive on them, and it's a good incentive to get through stash things.

My seven reproduction patterns were the result of birthday money, and a big Spotlight pattern sale. I have already made a decent start on Simplicity 1587, started to muslin Simplicity 1692, am eyeing off fabric for Simplicity 1459, and want to make B5281 for my graduation. I don't want these patterns to languish at the bottom of the stash.

My two current vintage patterns. I have a lot of 1970's, but only two earlier ones. The 1950's is almost finished, and the 1940's I want to wear to a wedding in June.

Track down three patterns. I want to find more 1940s and 1950s patterns. I may buy online, but I also love the thrill of opshop hunting, even if the Sydney opshops turn up precious little.

So excited to get started on these plans, but I have to finish that UFO pile first.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Men's shirt to pencil skirt

My odyssey through the UFO pile is proving productive, but today's project I have to share with you is something I made at the end of last year, but had never got around to photographing, though it is in high wardrobe rotation.

A good number of years ago, I found this shirt in an opshop. I was 6X Large, and the fabric was really nice quality, so I bought it, intending to make a pencil skirt. And then it sat in the refashioning pile for years.

In the end, it was a very quick project, and only took about two days. I used the pencil skirt form Vogue 1989, and easily cut the front and back from the shirt body, placing the button placket down the centre front. I intended to use the shirt hem as the skirt hem, but it ended up being off by about half an inch, so I had to re hem it. I am very happy with the length. I also pegged the skirt, but I think  did it a little too much, as it is a bit tight at the bottom. Instead of a vent, I just leave the bottom button undone, nice and easy. I finished off the waistband with a press stud.

I've been usually wearing the skirt with this fantastic lace peasant style blouse, which was another oversized opshop find which I ran in the sides of. I love the combination of loose top, and pencil skirt. I am slightly restricted with what I can wear with it, since I don't really want to be buttoned right down the front.

I also got some hair close up photos, I am loving curling my hair, and experimenting with hair wraps. It makes me feel so much more put together!

I am off now to finish another project, which I am so excited to share with you in a few days. Until then, have a great week

Thursday, 7 January 2016


This week I finally tidied my sewing area. My sewing area is really a bunch of tubs and boxes that live in the window box. There was fabric going everywhere, and it was good to spend an afternoon refolding and sorting. I finally got it very neat. One thing that stood out to me though was how many UFO's I have. I also have a whole bag of mending/refashioning.
After getting started on one new project this last wee, I have decided that I must tackle this problem before I get carried away with all my new sewing plans.
My resolution for January therefore is to deplete the UFO and the mending pile. Most things are almost finished. In many cases, the UFO's just need the finishing touches, and a good bit of the mending is neckline facings that have not been cooperating. This will then free up more sewing room, give myself a good pile of new clothes to wear (more finished item posts! yay!) and make me feel less messy every time I go to sew.

There will be a few exceptions. I have a few pieces of commission sewing this month, but luckily nothing too big. I am also giving myself a pass on a lot of the refashions. A few require the muslins of new patterns, and I also don't want a self imposed deadline to ruin good garments. I also do not have the time this month to learn bound button holes to revitalise a vintage kilt.

There will be a lot of hand sewing this month. The above picture is my refashioned-refashioned Liberty shirtdress. Almost there with that one. It will be a good excuse to watch Call the Midwife. Do any of you have good recommendations for BBC style costume drama that makes good watching whilst handsewing?

Lastly, I want to throw open this challenge to any one else that wants to use this month to burn through the UFO pile. I'll be posting on Instagram, and be doing a round up here at the end of the month. If you want to play along tag #UFOsewjanuary on instagram, and also tag me, @kaitlynssimplyvintage so I can see all your projects as you finish them up.

Do you have a massive UFO pile, or are you a disciplined finisher?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The End of 2015

Well, it's almost New Year. I almost cannot believe the year has gone so fast, but at the same time so much has happened. This time last year I was in Rome, now I have spent the evening planning a pattern sale dash.

I got married at the end of 2014, so that has really been the big change this year. The wedding was handmade vintage style, the masterpiece being my wedding dress. Even now, over a year later, thinking about the insertion, pintucks, vintage lace and hand embroidery makes me so happy. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago, and it's been a fantastic year beginning our lives together.

We honeymooned in Europe from December through February which was an incredible experience. Europe, especially the UK has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I am a committed Anglophile, and my first time there did not disappoint. Below is myself in the Lake District, the scenery and atmosphere of England and Scotland is breath taking, whether it's out driving a snow storm in the Highlands, or climbing to the roof of a cathedral. Before the UK, we visited Germany, Prague, Salzburg, Italy and France. It was a real adventure, and has certainly whetted my appetite for more travel.

Life since February has certainly been quieter! We are renting a little one bedroom apartment in Sydney's Inner West. Living out of home, and in the city has been an adjustment, but I enjoy it, and it's been very satisfying to be able to build up our first home.

Most of the year was taken up with completing my history honours. Honours in Australia is a year long research programme in under grad that results in a 20,000wd thesis. It was fun, rewarding, and grueling. My area of specialty is medieval history,  specifically for my thesis it was twelfth century historical writing in Anglo-Norman England, and the creation of an English national identity post Conquest.

Next year I will be beginning my Masters in Museum and Heritage Studies, with the aim of moving to the UK permanently in a few years, and working in something heritage related. History is really my life blood; from academic study, reading for pleasure, TV shows and movies, and even my dress style.

Closed eyes. Oh dear, posing for photos has never been my forte
This year has been quiet on the sewing front. I have been very happy with the projects I have made. My blog archives only show ten blogged projects, several that were UFO's that got neglected with the wedding dress making. the vast majority of these projects have been successes though! My favourites are my vintage floral shirtdress and my Liberty Mathilde blouse.

I do though have a number of half finished projects. I have certainly been doing a good bit of sewing, just not a lot has resulted in finished items, and I have a few that are yet to be blogged.

My Liberty Mathilde. The photos of the finished blouse came out poorly

The main issue with sewing this year has been getting used to the space. At my Mum's I had use of a studio/granny flat in the backyard. I had a pretty good set up which allowed me to make a lot of mess and not be in anyone's way. I also had a very large cutting table.

This year I sew in the bedroom, and have to try and not leave pins all over the floor, whilst sharing the space with the ever patient, ever loving husband. My stash space is also a lot smaller (it hasn't stopped me bringing down a lot of stuff). I feel like I am finally getting hold of the space, and in the next few weeks I will hopefully be getting the cutting table again! It will live folded up in the corner, and will make things a lot easier.

I made my first collars this year, and I found them not scary at all, may 2016 be the year of bound button holes and tailoring! I also had my first experience sewing with polyester. And I will be sticking to natural fibres from now on. The dress was a gift, so I am glad it's an easy wash and wear for her, but the sewing aspect was less than pleasant.

On the internet based side of sewing I made two steps forward this year. The first was getting Instagram. I really love it, and enjoyed taking part in #sewvember. I am slowly dragging myself into the modern world! I also tried to open an Etsy shop with some of the accessories I had been making. It didn't take off, but I have a few plans for attempting to revitalize it next year.

My biggest style step forward this year was working out how to curl my hair! This was a big step forward for me. I have very nice, very thick hair. Ever since I started school it's never been longer than shoulder length (any longer and it's so thick it's unmanageable). I would usually just do pony tails, or clip it back at the sides. This year I decided to take the plunge, and do rag curls. My best friend has done them on me a number of times over the years, and she even did them for my wedding. It was so incredibly easy once I just took the plunge, and now I can do nice updos. I am happier with my hair than I have been in years. I even started cutting it myself, which is much less scary than it sounds.

My style has remained relatively unchanged this year, though I have thrown some pencil skirts and shirt dresses into the mix. My summer outfit is still a fit and flare floral dress, or a skirt with a cream/lace/floral blouse. Winter is all about pleated wool plaid skirts.

Plans for 2016:
My sewing plans for next year go hand in hand with my style plans. I love vintage, and want to expand my vintage wardrobe. To this end I am making a trip tomorrow to buy a lot of Simplicity and Butterick reproduction patterns on sale. I will share them with you once they are safely mine!
my general sewing plans include more floral blouses, as most of my blouses are white and cream. Going to see Suffragette this week did not help my Edwardian blouse obsession. I also want to make some more summer skirts.

Dress wise, I want to move beyond the fit and flare. Everything will still be defined waist, but I am wanting to experiment sewing wise. There will be many more M6696 shirtdresses, but I have become very taken with a lot of the 1940's style bodices, so I will probably end up trying a few dresses in those styles.

I am also going to make myself a suit, with my first vintage pattern bought online. The bad Australian exchange rate and postage make online shopping not a good deal, which is probably good for my hip pocket in the long run! Isn't it a beauty?

My other great plan is to get into scarves, both neck scarves, and hair scarves. And if the vintage gods smile on me 2016 may finally be the year of the hat. I own a grand total of one hat, which is the only hat that has ever fit my head. My family has five documented generations of incredibly large heads, and it's something I have come to live with. Hats will never fit, and some garments will be a struggle to get over your head. I am hoping I turn up some good ones in the coming year. The second hand shops here often aren't very forthcoming with things like that.

My other dream is to find a good haul of 1940s and 1950s patterns at the opshop for hardly any money, but I do not think that is likely to happen.

Well, that ended longer than expected! It's been a good year all up, and I am more than excited thinking through all my plans for next year. Do let me know what you are planning. Following all your blogs and Instagrams is what gives me the best sewing and style inspiration! And I promise I will be back soon with the expected pattern haul.