Monday, 3 October 2016

Of buttons and press studs

Another Smooth Sailing blouse! This is hands down my favourite blouse pattern, and at this point, there's not much left to say about the pattern itself.

For this iteration I used a length of fabric I found opshopping, and paid $3 for. It's a beautiful red floral but the fabric itself was a bit funny. It's a polyester of some sort, and it had a very slight stretch to it, which did make sewing the collar a bit frustrating. It's not a fabric I would have bught new, but I refuse to pass up good fabric at opshops! Make do and mend, especially as this is a 1930's blouse pattern.

The make do attitude really spilt over when it came to buttons. I had sorted out my buttons a few months ago, and was eager to use what I had. As would have it, there was no buttons I had enough of that also matched! I finally decided to go for "fake" buttons. The blouse actually closes with five press studs, and then I sewed on three green vintage buttons over the three top press studs. This worked perfectly. I always wear my blouses tucked in, so the balance isn't thrown off, and these great buttons get to be used. I was also glad to not have to make button holes in the fabric, as I'm not sure how it would have behaved.

I have a new dress to share with you later this week, where I also use the press stud/fake buttons trick, it's a good one!

What sewing tricks do you use?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Spring has sprung

There is nothing quite like a big full skirt covered in pink roses.
I bought this fabric back at the beginning of the year for $4/m at my local Asian fabric shop. I loved the colour, and thought it would be perfect for Simplicity 1459, a 1950's reproduction shirtdress with an oversized collar. However, it was not to be. I did make the bodice, but I ran into a lot of problems with it. Firstly, I didn't make a muslin, and I got the sizing off. Secondly, the fabric is a very stiff polyester. It wasn't pressing well, especially to make the collar sit flat. I put the dress to the side as winter came around, but every time I thought about remaking the bodice, I just didn't feel like it. I finally decided a dress out of a very stiff polyester would be too uncomfortable, so it was skirt time instead.

The actual sewing up of the skirt was very quick. I used Simplicity 2444 and just added a waistband. I lengthened it a few inches for a more 1950's look, and all good to go! This is going to be the perfect skirt for summer with a nice white blouse. The stiff fabric gives it a lot of body- much better as a skirt than a dress. I am still on the look out for a suitable fabric for Simplicity 1459 though.

I am so glad I decided to change my plans on this one. Have you ever been able to mitigate a sewing disaster into something else entirely?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Spanish Dress

More unseasonably hot Sydney weather has lead to more UFO's being finished so I have something to wear! (My off season clothes are stored at my Mum's). I only started this dress a few weeks ago, but this burst of spring heat led me to madly finish it off last night to wear today.

The fabric for this dress is a special one. Last year, my best friend went to Spain and brought this back for me. I am making her a skirt, and I got the leftover yardage to play with. I decided to go with a dress, as the colour is not something I would usually wear, and I didn't think it would get too much wear as separates.

The pattern is a mash up of two of my favourites: Simplicity 2444 for the bodice, and Simplicity 6862 (the amazing one metre skirt pattern) for the bottom. The fabric is quite stiff, so I decided a flared skirt would do nicely; it certainly has a lot of body.

This was a very quick and simple make: the zip is handpicked, the neckline is faced, and the armholes and hem are finished with bias tape. I love the shape of this; it's definitely one I'd like to try again.

I've paired it up here with my white sandals and pearls thanks to some styling advice from Mum; it's such a good summery combination (even if it is meant to be winter).

So this is another successful dress which I will get a lot of wear out of come summer. I wore it today to my new job; I am teaching at the university's ancient history museum, so I had a fun morning grossing kids out with Egyptian mummies.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Butterick 5281 The Wearable Muslin

Hello again! I have missed blogging here. I have been knee deep in sewing since I last posted, but mysteriously I do not seem to be completing garments to share- the sirens call of cutting out a new project is sometimes too hard to resist. I feel I must soon do another UFO finishing spree. I have been posting a lot over on Instagram though if you follow me there.

Back in April I posted about not making my graduation dress due to running out of time! At this stage the muslin was basically finished (besides the hem) but with winter bearing down on Sydney, I put the dress to one side. Yesterday was an incredibly warm day, so the night before I pulled out the dress, and quickly finished it off, so I could have a chance to wear it. This dress is great. The pattern fits fantastically, it's so comfortable, and I got a lot of compliments, which I think is always a good thing when you're trying out a new silhouette. I am now getting more excited about making my LBD version.

The pattern is Butterick 5281, a 1946 reproduction, and therefore is also part of this years vintage pledge. The fabric is an IKEA bedspread cover I found opshopping, and was also used as the wearable muslin for my Smooth Sailing blouse.

I didn't have to make extensive changes to the pattern- I cut the bodice as a 12, and the skirt as a 14, which I have to do with slim skirts. I also took a good deal of length out of the bodice, but this is a standard alteration. If you are making this pattern, definitely muslin it. The bodice especially has a lot of subtle detail, and it's fully lined, including the sleeves. For this version, I didn't line the skirt, but that was to do with running out of lining fabric!

I have included the line drawing here so you can get a good idea of the pattern, I was very much drawn to the asymmetrical style lines; although the dress is a typical 1940's silhouette it makes it quite unique.

This is definitely going to be a pattern I use a lot, the dress is incredibly wearable, and I can see it easily becoming a favourite summer dress.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Last of the Bridesmaid Dress Fabric: Smoothsailing Blouse

 I finished this blouse a few weeks ago, and am so excited to share it with you!

When I bough the fabric for my bridesmaid dresses, I bought ten metres of this great green and pink floral cotton, for $60. From it I managed to make three bridesmaid dresses, a full skirted M6696, and now this Wearing History Smooth sailing blouse. The fabric is now all used up, except for scraps, which will find their way into little projects. Five garments from one fabric purchase must be setting the record for frugal sewing!

The Smooth Sailing blouse is now my go to blouse pattern. My wearable muslin turned out so well, I didn't make any more alterations. For reference, I swapped out the sleeve for the one from M6696.

The buttons are a nice ivory colour I found at the local fabric shop, love how they blend in. I had a lot of trouble doing the buttonholes, til I realised I hadn't popped in any interfacing! It's easy to forget when there is no separate button band. After ripping out two or three wonky button holes Ijust put a little piece of interfacing behind each button hole, and then they went in perfectly. Was so relieved it wasn't my machine mucking up on me.

The skirt here is another recent make, but it doesn't deserve it's own blog post. The pattern is vintage Simplicity 6862, my perfect skirt pattern, and it's made from a nice black polyester like fabric. My RTW go to flared black skirt didn't sit on my waist, so this very simple skirt is now my most worn wardrobe piece. I bought a lot more of this fabric, and am going to make a basic black pencil skirt soon.

And how did I go with Me Made May? Not as well as I would have liked. The weather here in Sydney is unnaturally warm at the moment, so most of the month was my general mix of handmade dresses and blouses, a good few which I documented on Instagram. I didn't get to test out my winter wardrobe as I would have liked to. It was good to see though that my summer wardrobe is 90% me made. I also didn't get my winter sewing done due to time constraints, but hoping to get to that in the next few weeks.

I will hopefully have some more items to share in the coming days; I am using this small stint of warm weather to photograph some other finished summer items.

What have you been sewing lately? Have you ever made more than one item with the same fabric?

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, (, @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.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

On the sewing table

I am planning some outfit photos later this week, but for now I wanted to share the various projects I am working on. My aim to make more blouses is coming along well. I realized the other week I am going to have to get the fit on Simplicity 1692 perfected as I have a lot of small pieces of fabric that will work fantastically with that pattern. In the meantime, I am continuing with the Mimi blouse, and Smooth Sailing. The other week I spent the day cutting out these three blouses to see if this would make the sewing up process easier, as I wouldn't have to constantly be getting out my sewing table. So far I can report the plan has gone well, but the fading marking pen I use had almost disappeared over the course of a few days, so tucks and darts had to be marked back in. The front two blouses are Smooth Sailing blouses cut from left over yardage from these two dress projects. I love being able to stretch out fabric like this. The back blouse is a sleeveless Mimi blouse, cut from a 1980's Liberty Laura Ashley dress. It's one I got a lot of wear out of, but the incredibly full, almost ankle length skirt was a bit too much. I have kept the bodice intact so as to trace off for a pattern, as it was a great fitting princess seam bodice.


Here are the first two blouses in varying stages of construction. The first one is very much a summer time blouse, and am hoping to get it finished before Sydney decides that it is Autumn (the cooler weather cannot come fast enough). The Smooth sailing blouses will be able to be more transitional pieces, due to the darker florals. I am imagining them with a pencil skirt and cropped sweater with the collar peaking over the top for winter, but time will tell whether I can find any knitwear like this.

I love the notched collar on the Smooth Sailing blouse. This tutorial is incredibly straight forward. I am enjoying experimenting with new techniques this year. I am still gearing myself to begin my wool suit, but with the weather this horrible this far into March I think I have some time up my sleeve.

 I am also back at university this year! For my fifth year at the University of Sydney, I have started a Masters of Museum and Heritage Studies. So far I am loving it, and am really excited to get the opportunity to do hands on work with sharing my love of history. The only downside to being back into full time study is less time for sewing. Because of this, I am trying my hardest to keep the sewing areas as tidy as possible. I started  by organising out all the cottons. There are a lot. I popped a bit of sticky tape over all the loose ends to stop them tangling, and then combined them all into two boxes: one for white and cream, and another for colours. The ones I use frequently are on the door of the sewing cabinent. I am hoping this is a small start to getting the out of control stash into some sort of order. Also when going through things a while ago, I found this lovely cross stitch I had begun on the train in Germany (and soon realised I could not cross stitch and take in landscapes at the same time!) I love having handwork on the go, and hopefully this will enable me to get little amounts of sewing in
every now and again when I don't have time to set up the machine.

My vintage pledge is coming along well. Simplicity 1459 is half made in this fantasitc rose print, and I have also managed to buy myself some proper vintage patterns. I had a small amount of birthday money left, and then found these 1950's Home Journal Patterns on ebay. Isn't the cover art gorgeous? I am hoping to do a full post soon on these patterns, as they are very interesting

I also want to say thankyou for all your comments on my last post, I really enjoyed hearing all your thoughts on the topic, and hello if you're new to reading the blog. I've finally gotten around to making a "finished projects" tab , as I know I love being able to snoop through people's project archives easily.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Mimi Blouse in Liberty, and some thoughts on 'Love at First Stitch'

In the quest for a nice vintage button up blouse I came across Tilly and the Button's Mimi blouse, from the book Love at First Stitch. I liked the unusual collar, and the gathering at the yoke, and decided I would make it when I found out my local library had the book.
The blouse was a very straight forward make. I cut a size three, as I do with the Mathilde blouse, and found the fit spot on. I quite like how the pattern comes with built in hip shaping! My one minor complaint is with the sleeves. I swapped out the sleeve pattern for M6696, but I think I need to redraft the armhole as the sleeves are a touch tight.

 The fabric is Liberty Carline in red. I bought around 5-6m of this at a fabric market in Sydney almost two years ago. It's the gift that keeps on giving: this blouse, a half finished full skirted 1950s dress, and so much yardage left over I am unsure what to do with it. I used small green buttons from the stash, and sewed them on with red thread for contrast.

Photo credit goes to my lovely friend Miriam who snapped this for me at uni after a coffee date. She calls it "1950's florals meet industry"

 I thought I'd also give a little book review of Love at First Stitch, as what I can find on line is overwhelming positive, and I have some reservations about it. Firstly, I think it's a very decent book for beginners. I gave it a good read through, and Tilly is very clear with her instructions. I also like how it builds on skills with each project. Each of the patterns looks good, and not tacky, though the Mimi is the only one I am going to make.

Now onto my dislikes:
1. The book design. I really hate the cover. The pastels are way too pale and everything looks washed out. There's no strong colour focus and if I'd seen this on a shelf I would not have picked it up. The entire book design is the very dreamy pastels, and feels like a girly art film, including Tilly blowing bubble gum.

2. Tilly's writing style. Whilst I feel it's very clear for beginners instructions wise, a lot of things annoyed me. She constantly scatters French phrases throughout, in a very cutesy "I love French pastries, striped tops and the Eiffel Tower" way. It adds nothing to the book, and comes across as very twitty. She is also not concise. When she introduces French seams, she gives a good explanation, but then every time she suggests using one in construction, she reiterates the entire technique, every single time. I felt this was deliberately dumbing down the book; we are adults, we can flick and cross reference. I also found the "Make it a Lifestyle" sections quite silly, especially "How to behave in a fabric shop". I would assume fabric shop etiquette is exactly the same as other shops, and this is something we learn as children.

3. Beginner mentality. This is not as much a criticism of Love at First Stitch than of Tilly's brand as a whole. Her market caters exclusively to beginner sewers. In and of itself this isn't a problem, there's obviously a market niche, but this often leads to dumbing down, hand holding and "oh my everything is hard" mentality. My dressmaking skills are mostly self taught (though I have been sewing for many more years than I've been dressmaking) and once you know the basics, there are a wealth of resources, online and in books to grow your skills. I feel Tilly's technique is to set herself up as the guru of sewing, and her handholding instructions that she overcharges for is what sets her apart. Case in point, her latest pattern is an elasticised waist dirndl skirt, basically the pattern is a rectangle, for £12.50. According to her it's worth it for the instructions. When these kind of skirts are free tutorials all over the web, and could be made in an afternoon by a six year old girl, I can only think of the saying "a fool and their money are easily parted." Of course Tilly isn't the only sewing related person on the web to cater to the "sewing is so hard" group, but I feel she emulates most of issues with it. There seems to be a general fear of the "Big 4" sewing pattern companies. Yes, their pattern art is awful, and you usually have to size down due to ease, but their instructions are not sparse if  you know how to think for yourself and look up things online.

4.  Lack of substance. The French post modernist philosopher, Baudrillard came up with the concept of hyper reality. This states that what is "real" becomes lost in the modern world behind a facade of marketing and style over substance. I would not have much of a problem with Tilly's patterns if I felt there was substance in them. What she has done is taken the most basic sort of patterns, and dressed them up with pretty pictures, colours and a marketing facade that lets the consumer feel they are buying into a lifestyle. The patterns themselves are basic; in the case of Miette, which is ever 1970's wrap skirt ever; or downright bad:  Francoise, Coco and Bettine seem to be poorly drafted, and often quite frumpy, but for some reason people kept lapping up these patterns. If they'd been released by Simplicity or Burda, no one would have bought them. Tilly's brand has become something people buy because it's "Tilly and the Buttons", not because it's good in and of itself. The other thing that gets to me about Tilly's lack of substance is the dumbing down of her blog over the years. I began to follow Tilly before she commercialised, and enjoyed her personal sewing projects. Then, after she started releasing her own patterns I have barely seen her sew anything that is not part of her marketing; there seems to be one item in the last two years. Part of me wonders if Tilly only got into sewing as a marketing opportunity, rather than a hobby that then grew into a business. (For more dumbing down of patterns see Colette's Seamwork patterns, versus their original offerings). Though I know she caters to beginning sewers, I feel there needs to be more substance and variety in offerings, because developing in a hobby should involve growing skills, and making interesting things, that don't involve hand holding, and move beyond being swayed by pretty pictures and marketing.

What do I want from online sewing resources? I want more complex offerings across the board, I want people who design vintage inspired patterns complete with the amazing details and construction techniques of the originals. I want the decline of fad patterns that everyone makes and swoons over. We sew to break out of the world of trends and styles, but so often I see this take over online.
I'm really interested to know what you think. Tell me what you think about Indie patterns. Is it all style over substance? How do you pick what you sew; does marketing suck you in, or do you use line drawings, and browse online to see what others have made, as I do? What do you want to see more, or less of online?

{I am sorry about the random font changes, I have no idea how it has happened, as it does not show up in the draft}


Monday, 22 February 2016

Wearing History Smooth Sailing Blouse Wearable Muslin

For a while now I have been on the lookout for a good button down vintage blouse pattern. The success of my Third Time Lucky Blouse is going to mean M6696 is going to be made a lot more as a blouse, but I had also had my eye on Wearing History's Smooth Sailing Blouse for a while. There are so many great versions online, and I loved the notched collar, and the shape: great for tucking in at the button and blousing on top. Some of my favourite versions: Emileigh's V-J blouse and Welmoed's beautiful white version.

I bought the PDF back in November during the Black Friday sales and it sat on my computer for months, until I printed it off at my Mum's place last week. Before cutting into all the good blouse fabric I have stashed, I decided a test run was in order. I used this lovely floral queen sized doona cover I picked up at an opshop a few years ago. It's an IKEA one, 100% cotton, and it's lovely thin and breathable fabric. I also had a lot of it, so any mistakes didn't mean loss of precious fabric.

I cut a size 36 bust with no alterations and the fit is rather spot on (for reference, I am a 34 bust, but my waist/hip measurements are larger proportionally. I didn't have to grade out the hip area on this, but only just.) The whole pattern went together really well. The collar was nice and easy. I used this tutorial which was really straight forward. My attempt isn't 100% neat, but it's on the under collar, and I was treating this as a wearable muslin. None of the seams on this are internally finished either. The buttons are just small clear ones from the stash.

The sleeves are the only things I changed. I originally used the sleeve from the pattern, with cuff. Had it all finished, popped it on, and it looked bad. The shoulder gathers, the large collar, and the puffed sleeves were not doing my shoulders any favours, and my husband thought it all looked really off in the shoulder area. I took out the sleeves, and replaced them with the cap sleeve from M6696. And issue all fixed. These are now my go to sleeve pattern. I just sewed the in using a 1/2inch seam allowance per blouse pattern.

I am so happy with this, it is incredibly comfortable, and very wearable. I was going to get photographs of me wearing it, but it would take a while to get that organized (no good photo backdrops at home) and I wanted to share this sooner rather than later).

And this counts as vintage pledge item 2! I wonder how many I will end up making?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

First Vintage Pledge: Simplicity 1587

 I have finished my first vintage pledge make for the year: reproduction pattern Simplicty 1587. I was inspired by Esther's beautiful versions, and when I decided to spend my birthday/Christmas money on patterns I knew this one was making the list.

The construction is quite straight forward, and I quite like how the dress is still a "fit and flare" but with a bit of a different silhouette. I had to grade out the waist and hip area, and that managed to get the fit pretty spot on. The only real change I made to the pattern was to leave off the elastic sleeve ruching.



I bought this stunning floral cotton in Marrickville about six months ago. It is wonderful to have three super cheap Asian fabric shops within walking distance. Makes zipper and thread buying easy, and then also enables fabric buying!  I had found this fabric one day when out with Mum, and a couple of days later I couldn't get it out of my mind, so back to the shop I went. I love the colours, and feel I am moving towards dark based florals (though one of my current projects is big pink roses).


This was a fun venture into 1940's fashion, and I like all the gathered and pleated details; there are no darts in this design. I especially love the neckline. There are blouse plans afoot for this pattern. I will also most likely make it again as a dress, but think I may change out the skirt. I like the gathered point detail, but it also doesn't sit quite flat. Mum quite liked it though, and she is very honest with my about these things. Big thank you to Mum also for the photos. Isn't her garden gorgeous? It's like walking into a lush, green, secret garden.

Decided I am going to start summarising patterns at the end of posts again:

Pattern: Simplicity 1587; 1940's reproduction
Size: Bodice: 12 graded to 14 in the hips; skirt 14
Fabric: Floral cotton from Marrickville; $6/m
Notions: Hand picked side zipper, mother of pearl button on back (may get swapped out)
Wear with: This would look great with pearls (need to find new ones) but it's also a perfect plefor my locket. Could potentially transition this dress to autumn/winter with the correct coloured coat
Make again: Certainly!

Next vintage pledge items are underway. I think most of this years sewing will be vintage patterns.

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.