Friday, 26 December 2014

Homemade Christmas present roundup

Seeing as the Husband and I are pretty poor this year (we can afford bills and not much else) I decided that it would be best to make as many Christmas presents from my fabric stash that I could. Here's a roundup post of the things I made, as well as links to the tutotials I used. This list might help some of you save some money next Christmas.

Firstly, I needed something small for female coworkers and church friends, and after a discussion with my grandma, we came up with the idea to make them lingerie wash bags. Most ladies we know use them (I mean who wants to handwash delicates instead?) The last store bought one I had frayed after the first wash, and one my grandma had, the zip broke after the first wash. I had a quick look on pinterest (admittedly I could have come up with a tutorial/pattern myself, but time is of the essence this time of year) I found this cute tutorial, with fabric binding on the sides, that I liked the look of. I didnt follow the tutorial to the letter though, as I also overlocked and french seamed/top stitched my seams for extra strength.

The pieces of fabric cut out ready to make my first test bag
Almost done, just need to add the binding
Completed! Actually this was the second one, which I gave to my friend Rachel from Elsie George Boutique. We have very similar taste in fabric. 
My test one, just out of the washing machine.
I made 2 to start with, out of the same lovely floral cotton. I tested one out, by washing it a few times, and so far it has held up perfectly. I think the extra work I did on the seams should help it stay together for quite a while. After the first 2 turned out so well, I proceeded to cut out 6 more in differents fabrics, to suit different personalities.

4 more cut out ready to go
I didnt get photos of them all completed before I gave some of them as presents

My mum asked me to make her 2 plastic bag holders (you know, the tube kind with elastic at either end) so I whipped up 2 out of a bit of cherry print fabric I had. For each one, I used a rectangle 18 inches by 22 inches, overlocked the edges, folded in half longway and sewed the seam (I sewed it twice for strength) then turned in the edges with a wide hem, leaving a small gap open, which I then threaded some 1/4 inch elastic through. Attached a quick fabric hanging loop to the top, and they were done!

Mum's 2 bag holders plus her lingerie bag

I then found a fat quarter of horse fabric I knew my friend would love, and made her one as well.

My mother-in-law mentioned she would like a vintage style petal half apron, so I had a look at old patterns for inspiration, then drafted one up for her.

I based it off this one from pinterest
I started by folding a piece of tissue paper in half lengthways, then drawing a rough half petal shape out for the centre panel. I cut it out, then placed another piece of tissue paper under and to the side of the centre piece and drew out the side petal, which I then cut out. I then cut out a centre and 2 sides from both the main fabric, as well as a blue fabric to line it with. I also cut out a blue waist tie and a pocket from the birdy fabric. I added white piping along the edges, this is how it turned out:

I think she liked it. She wore it christmas day while cooking at her place.

I also like to hand sew felt christmas ornaments for my friends, so this year I came up with these (thanks pinterest)

This is before stitching them up
 I had someone in a facebook sewing group ask for the  pattern for these,  but as I had just cut them out free hand, I didnt have one. So I traced around the pieces I had and came up with this

Feel free to use this to make your own

For my Besties kids I thought it might be nice to sew them some christmas pyjamas. Last year I made them all toys (fort building kit, zombie bride with removable organs and a plush cthulhu) but I thought, as kids, they probably get toys from everyone. So using some of the leftover polka dot fabric from my christmas dress, as well as another different christmas fabric for each kid. I made each of them boxer shorts, using the Darcy boxer pattern from measuretwicecutonce as well as appliquing a piece of fabric to a plain shirt from big W/best and less, with help from this applique tutorial. The girls shirts were discounted winter shirts, so I took off the sleeves, and bound the armholes in the boxer short fabric, and I used the ladies size 8 option in the boxers (I'm hoping they will fit for a few years)

The girls pyjamas

The fabric I used on the boy's pyjamas

I somehow forgot to take a photo of all 3 finished sets. For the boy's pyjama top, I appliqued a koala to the front, then using a premade iron on applique, gave the koala a moustache. He loved his pyjamas so much, he wanted to wear them to the Christmas morning church service (his mum wouldnt let him) I made his boxer shorts a bit longer than the girls, added a few faux fly buttons, as well as taking a few inches off the sides, as the pattern is in adult sizes.

Then there are the people who are hard to sew for, particularly the men. So whipped up some fudge in a few flavours, and gave them that. Here are the recipes I use for fudge, theyre super simple and you only need to cook it in the microwave

Chocolate fudge:
400g can of condensed milk (395g will do)
100g butter cubed
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
100g dark chocolate finely chopped

Line a 20cm pan with foil.
place condensed milk, butter, sugar and syrup in a 3L glass bowl (I use my trusty pyrex bowl from the op shop) cook uncovered in the microwave for 10-12 mins, stirring every 2 mins, until bubbles appear over the whole surface while cooking (honestly my old microwave needed 8-10 mins, but my new one cooked it in 5) Stir in the finely chopped chocolate until it is melted through, then pour into your tray, and refrigerate. When set, lift out the fudge with the foil and cut into small pieces. One time for valentines day, I even used cookie cutters to cut out fudge hearts.

Cookies and cream fudge:
395g tin of condensed milk
1 cup castor sugar
125g butter
2 tbsp glucose syrup
200g white chocolate chopped
1/2 of a 150g pack of oreos chopped

Follow the same steps as for the chocolate fudge, but after the chocolate is stirred in and melted,  add the chopped oreos and mix.

For the Strawberry fudge, I used the cookies and cream recipe, but left out the oreos and added some strawberry flavouring and a few drops of pink food colouring.

I did have a great present planned for my husband, but unfortunately, I didnt get it finished in time for Christmas :( so everyone will have to wait (including him) to find out what it is.

Now that Christmas is over for another year, I'm looking forward to sewing up this baby for myself. Its a 2005 pattern, but with a distinct 1950's style to it. It was a present from my mumsy, and I'm thinking either view C or D

I hope everyone had wonderful Christmas, and that 2015 will be a great year for you!

Dixie O'Dare

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Christmas Dress....

So, doing all this sewing for everyone else for Christmas (alot of which I cant post yet to keep presents a secret, hence the recent radio silence) has got me thinking I really need to sew myself a Christmas Dress. I made myself a poinsettia Christmas skirt last year, and made a gored skirt with coordinating red panels for my bestie, but my skirt seems to have disappeared in the madness of 2014.

My good friend Beccie of Sew Retro Rose Fame has made some beautiful Christmas dresses over the last couple of years, and in particular 2013's Christmas Dress has had me pretty jealous. The dress was based on Beccie's Fall for Cotton Dress which was based on a vintage dress she saw at the Rose Seidler House Fifties Fair that was sadly too small for her (too small for her? No wonder I cant find true Vintage, lol)

Beccie's 2013 Christmas dress, Isn't it Fabulous?

So I've decided to kinda steal the design from her (sorry Beccie) but probably with a circle skirt, rather than a gathered one and maybe a different neckline. And without the amazing Christmas Shoes and Hair flower, sadly my budget doesn't allow for that much fabulous-ness.

I purchased roughly 4-5m of a gorgeous red velour fabric from Vinnies (op shop) a few weeks back, then I bought the same (I think it's the same) Gold Lurex binding from spotlight to do the gorgeous waistline embellishment with (and probably the hem as well)

Then I decided, maybe that dress wont be very suitable for an Australian summer........ so its been put on the shelf for a later day (or a Christmas in July)

 I also recently purchased some christmas Polka Dot Cotton which I thought would look great made into one of Gertie's patterns, butterick B6019. Being cotton, this will be a much more wearable dress for the hot Australian Christmas.

Butterick B6019. I'll be making the full skirted version

I even had some help cutting out

His name is Prince, and he is a big mumma's boy

I went for the full skirted option, to allow a bit of breeze and swishy-ness. I read Gertie's blog post about it, and made the same adjustments to the pattern she did. I added 3 inches to the length of the skirt, underwires in the bust area, as well a waist stay and extra boning. I also did not cut the size that the pattern envelope said I should. According to my measurements I should make a size 22, but I made the size 18 instead, and it's a perfect fit.

I forgot to take many progress photos of this dress, I was too busy watching bones on my tablet

A few mirror selfies before heading out

The bust is really pointy on this pattern, but I kinda like it now, very 1950's! 

I finished making this dress yesterday, after church, but before my church's carols night. I got loads of compliments, and it fits like a glove, so this dress is definitely a win for me, I'll make it again!

Dixie xoxo

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Everything Your Mama Made Pattern Testing

I was lucky enough to be chosen to test this fabulous new pattern by EYMM.

The description of this pattern is:
"The ‘Off The Shoulder Cowl Neck Dress & Peplum Top’ is a simple and modern top and dress with an inviting neckline finish. The upper and mid sleeves are fitted, with a looser, open wrist and a longer length."

It has many different lengths and skirts styles, and I naturally went for the below the knee circle skirt option. This Pattern calls for the use of a knit fabric, making it a stretchy, easy to fit, comfy design. Seeing as I don't keep too many knits in my stash (and the deadline was 3 days!) I chose to go with a glittery red fabric that I bought a whole bolt of when my favourite store, Clarksons, closed down. I have made quite a few dresses out of this fabric before and I just love it!

The Red dress in this is made from the same fabric. 

Before I even began to Sew mine up, I noticed in the Tester group on Facebook, that the waistline on this dress looked quite low. I like my circle skirts to start at the smallest part of my waist. I mentioned this to the pattern designer, and she said we could shorten the bodice by up to 2 Inches if we wanted, but she did want to see how long the bodice was on me before I altered it. So I got to Sewing..... 

The bodice before alteration 

After I cut 2 inches off the bodice. The weight of the skirt pulls it so it sat at pretty much the same spot. 
I ended up taking just under 5 inches off the bottom of the bodice, to get the waistline to sit where I wanted it. This was mostly due to the amount of stretch in my fabric, as well as the weight of the skirt. The longer bodice definetely works for the peplum length, but needs to be shortened if you want the added weight of a full skirt. I believe the designer has now added a second, shorter, cutting line to the bodice pattern, for the skirted option.

As this dress has a fairly loose fit, and is made in a knit fabric, it really does need a belt or sash to cinch in at the waist, and looks great with a petticoat. I wasnt sure about this dress as I was sewing it, but now I absolutely love it! I think this will become a staple in my wardrobe for next winter for sure! 

This pattern is available, only as part of a Sew Fab Winter pattern bundle of 10 patterns, which you can find here for only US$29.95. Thats less than $3 a pattern! This pattern will be available for purchase by itself, sometime in the future.

This pattern is a great introduction to working with knits, and is versatile with a few different options. The peplum top looks great with leggings and boots, while I love the 50's look of the below the knee circle skirt.

I really recommend this pattern for a great winter 1950's style dress.


P.S. I seem to be having some format issues with this post, that I cant seem to fix. I hope everyone can read it ok.

P.P.S I think I've fixed the formatting issue now... I hope

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Vintage Pajama Party in the sewing room

After deciding I wanted to be involved in Carla from Tiny Angry Crafter's vintage pajama sew along, I went home to see if I already had pattern I could use......

And wouldnt you know it, I found this little gem!

Not sure why it uploaded sideways.....

Its a vintage simplicity 1850 in a 34" bust. I will need to grade up, but it is not an overly complicated pattern, so that will be simple enough. According to vintage pattern Wiki, this pattern is from 1956. I think this is one of the bunch I picked up from a local op shop for 60c a pattern. It is selling on etsy for between $7 and $18. So not a bad find.

The hardest part if this challenge was finding a fabric. I needed something light and breathable, but not sheer (as we rent out rooms in our house) most of my cottons are too stiff for a nightgown, and my satins too bright (plus I want to use them to make evening dresses) I would also need around 3m according to the pattern. I found this slinky black and white polka dot fabric at one of my local op shops for $2 for 2.6m (which turned out to be exactly how much I needed)

This nightgown has a lot of gathering in it, so when I measured the pattern pieces for the 34" bust the back was 16" and the front was 14" making it 60" in total. I figured a would want almost double my bust measurement to get the same gathered affect, so I made my pattern pieces 20" and 18" wide, making it a total of 76" inches for my 43" bust.

My Altered pattern Pieces. Yes they are a bit on the short side, lol my tissue paper isn't that big, so I have just traced and made alterations to the top and have a note on the pattern piece to add 25" of Length to the bottom of each piece

This shows how much width I have added

This gives you an idea of the length of the original Pattern piece

All my pattern pieces cut out (and interfacing attached to 1 back and 1 front facing)

Sewing binding along the armholes

Gathering up the neckline

Sewing the front interfaced facing to the back interfaced facing

I had a little mishap with the iron melting away some of my interfacing, woops!

Sewing the gathered front piece to the neckline. Do the same for the back piece

I then sewed lace right around the outside of the neckline

With right sides together, sew both sides of of the neckline together,  around the inner edge. 

Turn the neckline right side out

Press and pin the outer edge under for a neat finish

Pinning the top of the neckline facing in place

I then top stitched the top of the neckline in place on top of the lace, then sewed up the sides with french seams, so they will easily survive the wash, and then turned up the hem twice and sewed it up.

Quick mirror selfie. Ive tied a ribbon around the waist similar to the pattern envelope.

And a regular selfie

This has turned out to be a very comfy airy nightgown, and while I wasnt originally sure I liked the print of the fabric for a nighty, now that it is finished, I love it! The pattern was a very easy sew, so I will probably use it again in the future. Hopefully I will get some better photos of the nightgown soon, in time for the new extended deadline for the sew along, which is now December 13th. I might even have time to find some fabric and make the matching robe!


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

My First Swirl

But certainly not the last!

So I finished sewing up my Swirl a few weeks ago, but have been so busy, I haven't had a chance to blog about it (or take decent photos wearing it) before now.

I was uncertain about the swirl at first, but now I love it, and will be altering the pattern a bit and making many more. The first time I wore it out, I got so many compliments! And it is just so easy to throw on.

Last time I blogged about my Swirl, I only had an embellished bodice with no facings.

So Firstly, I sewed the facings together and put Bias on the raw edge (that wont be sewn to the neckline)

Sewing Binding onto the Facing

Front and Back facings together with binding

Then I cut out my Pockets, as I hadn't done that yet. I decided to use a plain white cotton to line them, to save a bit of my fabric, so hopefully I will have enough left over for a matching bag. I then sewed each pocket together, leaving open a gap, then turned them right side out, pressed and added a bit of bias for decoration. All of these steps can be found here

cutting out the pocket pieces

Sewing the pockets

Turned right side out and ironed

Bias Binding added to the top middle seam

Then came to sewing the 4 skirt pieces together, which I then finished the edges with my pinking shears and Ironed the seams open. Next thing to do is 2 narrow hems either side and a wide hem along the bottom. I wasn't sure I could do a double fold 1 inch hem on a curve with my fabric, but with plenty of steam from my Iron like Beccie suggested, it didn't go too bad (I think I ended up with 2 pucker/pleats in total) The skirt is then sewn to the bodice, easing in 2 sections at the sides of the front with gathering stitches. Beccie explains it much better in her post.

Sewing the skirt pieces together

Pinking the Edges
Then I Pinned the pockets where I wanted them and top stiched them in Place, followed by carefully hand stitching the back facings in place.

Top stitching the Pockets in place

Hand sewing the Back Facings in place

Once the dress was all together, I tried it on, and realised I a couple of problems. Firstly, the bodice was too long on me, so I had to unpick the waist seam, shorten and redo it.

Finished Bodice
Secondly, it was a bit too big. Not a huge problem due to the wrap design of the dress, but it meant when I pinned the back of the neck (where the button is supposed to be) then tied the dress on, the back got really warped and weird looking. I couldnt just move the button further along, due to the curve of the neckline not matching up, so to solve the problem, I copied an alteration that I saw on a vintage swirl listed for sale on Etsy that one of the members of the swirl sew-along had posted the link to. I folded down each corner (as much as the facings would let me) and tried it on. It worked much better, and looked pretty cute too!

Bodice back, with a slight alteration.
I have since sewn a red and white polka dot button to the middle of each corner (and through the bodice) to help it keep its shape.

I wore my Swirl all day a few Sundays ago, and then Monday evening 2 weeks ago to my local CWA meeting, mentioned previously here and got plenty of comments on it. As soon as I have made the few changes to the pattern, I will certainly be sewing more of these dresses. They are comfy and easy to wear, and, when made of a light breathable fabric like cotton, they are perfect for an Aussie Summer

Beccie has just posted a sew along round up so go here to see everyone's Swirls from around the world!

Dixie O'Dare