Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Half Shirt Dress

A few weeks ago I found this lovely floral  fabric at the opshop. It seems to have been a dirndl skirt that had the waistband taken off, so there was a lot of fabric to work with. When deciding what to make, I went with my favourite dress pattern McCalls 6696, as it just fits so well, and I love a shirt dress. I shook it up though by turning the pattern into a half shirt dress- one that only buttons to the waistband, and closes with a side zip. I used this great tutorial by Idle Fancy as a guide. If you love a good shirt dress, do check out Mary's blog, she's the one who converted me to McCall's 6696.

The other slight change I made was to not have a working button band. I simply sewed on the buttons, and ensured I left enough room to get it over my head. I've just popped in a safety pin to ensure the neckline sits neatly.


I love the details that go into a shirtdress, I hand sew all the insides, which can take a while, but I got this dress churned out in about a week, I think I just very much wanted to wear !

This photograph probably gives the best idea of the true colour. The Burda pattern was my first choice, but in the end I wanted a quick make without the challenge of pattern fitting.
McCall's 6696 both days so far. I will try to be doing daily Instagram pictures, but my iPad charger is playing up, so it will probably be weekly blog round ups. I have a lot of almost finished garments lined up as well, so there should be a lot more to share over the coming weeks

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Changing plans

On Friday I am graduating from university. I had been planning for a while to make a little black dress for the ceremony using B5281, a very elegant reproduction vintage pattern from 1946. Last night, I scrapped this plan and will be wearing another dress I made last year instead.

I have always been someone who enjoys taking on large, complicated projects, and I immerse myself in them. I even get everything done on time. But this time I decided I needed to take a step back, and remind myself that it's okay if I don't follow through this once. I got to the stage of having the wearable muslin finalised, and the went to bed last night, and started scheming how I could fit sewing a fully lined crepe and silk dress in four days around university, assignments and work.
 When I started panicking over needing to thread trace all the darts and tucks due to the black fabric, and realising slippery fabric is horrible to cut, I decided to call it off. Actually, I'll be wearing one of those academic gowns, so it won't matter what I am wearing to a great extent. Not enough to need to sweat over a new dress. I am in love with this pattern. The details on it are exquisite, and I have bought the most gorgeous fabric for it. I want to take my time and ensure I have a really well made dress at the end of the process. A good LBD will become a proper wardrobe staple in time. I'll be graduating again next year anyway from masters! I am very relieved I can have some breathing space this week, and am looking forward to getting stuck into this dress when I have the proper time to devote to it

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Me Made May

This year I am really excited to give Me Made May a go. I've really enjoyed following along for the last few years, and reading people's thoughts on their wardrobes, and how they fit into their life. This is the first year though I feel I have enough handmade/ altered clothes to take part. I am also now trying to think more cohesively about how to develop my wardrobe along more vintage lines. I am not going to say I will wear handmade every day though. My sewing at the moment skews towards summer, and here in Australia May is the month the temperatures start to go down, so climate wise what I'm wearing each day will be a bit hit and miss. This will  hopefully though be a good chance to make more winter clothes (wool pencil skirts and long sleeved blouses.

I, Kaitlyn, (http://kaitlynssimplyvintage.blogspot.com.au/, @kaitlynssimplyvintage) sign up as a participant of Me Made May 2016. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade/refashioned item a minimum of four days a week. I also aim to complete three pieces of winter appropriate clothing by the end of the month.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Forays into corporate wear

Last year, when still decided what I was going to do with the completion of my undergraduate idea, I had an interview for a corporate like job. Having very little suitable in the way of office attire, I set out to make an interview worthy dress in a week. I completed it, and when getting dressed that morning, broke the zipper. I went to the interview, didn't get the job (thankfully) and the dress lagged in the mending pile until my UFO January blitz. The other week I realised I still hadn't worn the dress, and decided if not now, then when? Luckily uni is a good time to play around with more formal attire.

The fabric is a gingham cotton, which is probably not the best type for this sort of dress, as it crinkles easily. (picture taken after a long morning in the library). I also fully lined it in a plain white cotton, so it probably won't work with pantyhose. This doesn't bother me too much. It's surprisingly a very comfortable dress.

The bodice and sleeves are Simplicity 2444, whilst the pencil skirt/waistband is Vogue 1989, a 1980's wardrobe pattern. I cut the skirt quite long and pegged it. There is a lined kick pleat at the back.

I am very pleased with some of the smaller details on this dress. I fully lined the bodice using this method which worked really well. My favourite part though is the hand picked zipper. Not only did I match the gingham, I made the pick stitching a decorative feature. I love little details like these.

I actually quite like this dress, its a break from the usual for me, but I think it turned out well for a first attempt. I got a good number of compliments on it over the day, which I took as a good sign. And this is a really comfortable dress, so that is a major bonus. Because I think tights will cling to the lining, it should be a summer only dress, but you have to wear it with heals. As my black heels need a trip to the cobbler, I wore this with my absolute favourite red t straps. I love red and black together, so it set off the outfit well.

I'm thinking of making more formal wear pices this year; I quite like the sheath dress look, and I have plans for more pencil skirts and blouses. It won't be all black and grey and white though. Seeming as I'm training to work in the museum/heritage sector, I think I can keep the formal, but fun clothes going for a good while

Monday, 21 March 2016

Vintage style fashion: the green blouse


Today's outfit is built around one of my favourite opshop pieces; this fantastic green blouse. I found it a few years ago for $5 as the lace paneling was scorched at the bottom. I trimmed it back, and a perfectly wearable, vintage style blouse. I'm not sure if it's actually vintage, but the quality of construction makes me think it is. The hidden button placket is satin, and it has pearl buttons. One day I'll do a post just dedicated to the detailing on it, it's exquisite. For today's out I think what really sets it off is the hair scarf. The pink and blue contrast beautifully with the green, why did I not think of this before?





Blouse: op shop
Skirt: Black knee length pencil skirt, op shop
Shoes: Target black ballet flats.
Earrings: op shop costume jewelry pearl drops (worn for my wedding0
Necklace: Pink pearls
Hair scarf: Made by me

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Keeping costs down whilst sewing

As a university student, my budget for sewing related expenses is not very big. And on top of this I am naturally not a big spender. There is a lot of discussion online about whether or not sewing actually saves you money, which I feel has a lot of personal variables. My clothes spending has never been big. I went from shopping at Target as a kid, to opshops, and then to sewing my own. I cannot think of a time I have spent over $60 on a single item of clothing. I think where sewing comes into its own is the quality, and personal choice aspects. Within this though, how do you keep costs down?

1. Alternative fabric shops I can get most of the new fabric I need from the Vietnamese/Chinese fabric stores around Sydney. Their prices are incredibly low, and they usually have extensive stock. They are also great for zippers, cotton, and buttons. I got my bridesmaid dress fabric (floral cotton) for $6/m and this morning got silk lining for $8/m.

2. Opshops Opshopping has been a favourite past time of mine for years. Sometimes there will be good sewing finds. Doona covers and sheets make for excellent muslin fabric, and if there's a nice print, it can be an actual garment. Occasionally there will be notions and sewing patterns hidden up the back, but it can be hit and miss. I find opshops best on the garment front. A large, sack like garment can yield good fabric yardage, or inspiration for a refashioning project. Also depending on how cheap the opshop is, clothes can be a good source of zippers and nice buttons.

3. Plan projects well I often buy more yardage than needed so I can squeeze an extra project out. This may or may not save money in the long run. Muslins also save money in the log run, as they an save costly mistakes.  When I want to sew something new, I always check the stash first to see what I  already have fabric and pattern wise.

4. Buy patterns strategically. Unless we are going into the realm of experimental fashion, there are a limited number of fashion designs, and most are variations on each other. When buying patterns try and focus on silhouettes, and if a new patterns grabs your attention see if you already have something that is pretty similar. Learn how to make small pattern adjustments: combining different bodices and skirts, using dress patterns for separates, changing necklines, and a couple of patterns can yield a lot of designs.

5. Best sources for patterns: Opshops. Big 4 are best bought on sale. Buy Indie if you really love it, and cannot find anything comparable. The internet is great, especially for cheap 1970s patterns, which often have great basic silhouettes once you look past the questionable pattern art.

6. Sew high quality projects Sewing less items saves money, and make sure what you're sewing are things of high quality, and that you really like. Taking time with seam finishing, and other good quality techniques will really make the garment last longer in the end, and you can feel better, knowing you've sewed something high quality for a lower price

7. Fabric markets Depending on your local sewing scene there could be fabric markets. I've been to one in Sydney where I bought fabric really cheaply, and in a few weeks I'm going to a swap, where I am offloading some stash my end in exchange for other people's fabric. I am a little excited.

8. Ask around This is highly dependent on individual circumstances, but chances are there is someone that you know who doesn't sew anymore, or is looking to offload a deceased estate. Most of my sewing equipment/most of my stash was inherited from my grandmother. I sometimes see large lots of fabric/patterns/sewing machines going cheaply online, because family members just want to get rid of it.

9. Repurpose I have never donated any of my old handmade clothes. Whilst most old RTW goes to the opshop, I pop anything I've made and don't wear anymore back into the sewing stash: take off buttons, pull out zips, use fabric for other items. A lot of my muslins end up being made of old project scraps.

10. Build up slowly If you're just starting off sewing, don't buy everything at once. Get a decent second hand sewing machine, good scissors, and one of those sewing kits from the cheap shop, and go from there. Over time you'll work out what equipment you need, and what you don't.

Feel free to pop any more money saving tips down below. I strongly believe sewing is only as expensive as you want it to be.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The best ever skirt pattern

I am quickly becoming of the opinion that Simplicity 6862 is the best skirt pattern:
1. It only takes one meter of fabric
2. No darts, pleats, tucks etc, it's incredibly quick to sew up
3. The shape is really flattering
4. If I wanted to, there are some fun pocket pieces and belt tabs
5. You could easily have a whole wardrobe of these, this was my Mum's main skirt pattern back in the 1970s
6. There's a few patterns on Etsy and Ebay, even if they'd be single size, it would be a really easy pattern to resize.

I first made this skirt last year out of some tacky pink wool. I thought it would become a good wardrobe staple, but the waistband was never finished nicely, and Mum, who is thankfully always honest with me, told me she hated it. It was also a smidgen too tight. I wasn't prepared to give up on this pattern yet though. For a while I have been wanting some floral skirts, so found this small length of cotton in the stash. It has a deep brown background, so I think it's from the 1970's, and it's much too stiff for anything other than a skirt.

To fix the sizing I just let out the seams slightly. I sewed the centre front and side seams at 3/8 inch, and kept the back at 5/8. This is an incredibly quick sew, only complicated b the fact I had to redo the zip multiple times. I decided to finally try a tab on my waistband, which worked wonderfully after a few goes of aligning the zipper. I finished it off with tw small press studs. Only tip would be always cut the waistband much longer than you need.

I liked the length of the skirt as is; it falls just below my knee, so I finished with mauve bias tape.

I absolutely love this skirt. Even if it's a bit different from what I usually wear. At the moment it just goes with my white blouses, but I am hoping to soon fix the no plain blouses problem as well. The colour scheme will hopefully allow it to be worn through autumn as well.