Monday, 23 February 2015

Central Coast Weekend Op-Shop Haul

So my Husband and I probably aren't your regular holiday makers. When we go somewhere new, we love checking out the local op-shops and antique shops. So when we went away to the Mantra Ettalong Beach, we did a bit of research before hand using to locate all the closest op shops, and attempted to plan the best route between them.

I have to admit, I went a little nuts. I bought a pretty good haul of fabric and patterns. As well as a gorgeous pair of shoes and a couple of books. All of the sewing stuff ranged in price from 50c to $5, so I think I did pretty well.

All the Fabrics!

Pinks, Florals and Polka dots, plus some cute Buttons
The cotton fabric in the middle of the above photo, with the criss cross background and pale pink roses is actually a design for Sheridan (sheets) as the lady working in the shop informed me. Turns out, she used to work for Sheridan. I had a better look at the fabric later, and while it is not a sheet, it is made to make a sheet from, as the selvedge to selvedge width of the fabric is huge, as to make queen/king sized bedding from.

Roll of Elastic, some black vinyl, slinky purple, knit and woven whites

Teddy Bears and a lovely soft Red Fabric, plus a roll
of what I think is Hair Canvas or Buckram to add 
structure to skirt hems, jacket fronts and hats
The Teddy Bear Fabric is actually curtains that have a small rip in them. I thought they would be great Fabric to make children's clothes and items from.

Assorted Patterns
While most of these patterns aren't particularly exciting, and I don't think any are older than 1979, I grabbed most of them because they were either a great basic item and/or the pattern as for Plus sizes. Here are a few of the more interesting:

Glamour Panties? Yes Please
1 of 3 lingerie patterns I purchased. I would love to get into more underwear sewing, to have a completely me-made wardrobe. I thought these "Glamour Panties" were especially cute.

Stylish 80's men

Plus size pattern!
I already have a very similar pattern to the one above, however, this one is in bigger sizes, meaning I wont have to grade up to use it for myself, and for 60c, I can afford to be lazy

The Tie front crop top looks interesting
Yes the shirt and pants on this pattern are pretty gross, but I thought the crop top was cute.

Cute Shirt

Basic style button down, in PLUS SIZES


Perfect 40's/50's style
I tried to resist the urge to buy shoes, I really did. I almost put these back on the shelf as I normally wouldn't pay $10 for second hand shoes. But then I tried them on and glimpsed in a mirror. After that there was no way I wasnt going to get them! They fit perefectly,  and had a reasonably low heel so they could be worn all day, the soles showed hardly any wear, plus they work for both 40's style outfits, as well as 50's. Also, they are RED!!!

The husband found himself a few good buys as well, including star wars books, nintendo 64 games and a Santana record.

All in all, we had a great weekend away exploring a part of the central coast area of NSW, and we came away with some great Bargains. I'm looking forward to using some of the fabric and patterns, and getting to wear my new shoes!


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Finished Kitty Valentine Dress Plus the FREE PDF Pattern!

I know you've all been waiting for this......

My first Free PDF Pattern offering!

But you have to read my whole blog post first.

Since I teased you all with it when I mentioned here it almost a month ago, I treated myself to a new cheapo laptop (hey its not like I need a hardcore gaming machine, right?) and got my hand traced pattern pieces scanned in. I also added the finishing touches onto my Kitty Valentine Dress, then made you all wait until it's debut outing to show you the finished pics. I made this dress specifically to wear  for my Husband's and mine Valentine's Weekend away, that was a christmas present from my dad (Thanks Dad!) which we had to move to the following weekend. Coincidentally, that meant it fell on my husband's birthday, so double whammy there. We stayed at the lovely Mantra at Ettalong Beach, in a 1 bedroom Ocean view Spa Suite. Jealous?

Now it was my full intention to have my Husband play photographer for me and take some photos of me wearing the dress as we were out and about, however, I was a complete air-head and left my tablet pc in the hotel room while we were out. By the time we got back to the room, we just wanted to relax in the air-con, so no new photos were taken, so here is the selfie I took at work which I posted in my previous blog post

Any way, on to the Pattern that you're all really here for.

1st September 1951 Home Journal Frock 7852

Just to remind you, it is the bodice for the Frock 7852 on the Left side of this 1951 Australian Home Journal Pattern. I wasn't dedicated enough to trace the skirt pieces for you, so just add a 1/2 circle skirt to be close to the original or do a full circle skirt like I did. 

In the Pattern I have included the original 36" bust size pieces for the front, back and sleeve, as well as my drafted up pieces for a roughly 42-44" bust (I'm in between right now) with altered flutter sleeve and self drafted? Neckline facings. The pattern says it doesn't include seam allowances, but I didn't add them to mine, and just used 1/2" seam allowances and it turned out great. It is still quite a loose fit, but perhaps it is supposed to be looser? Might be best to measure your pieces before you begin, especially if you are using the 36" bust pieces.
Also, if you are using my graded up pieces, please keep in mind I have not added any length to the bodice, as I am short waisted. if you are not you may need extra length. Beccie from Sew Retro Rose wrote a helpful Tutorial for lengthening (or shortening) the bodice pieces for her swirl sew-along that would also work for this pattern

If anyone does use this pattern to make a dress or top, I would love to see your results!

Now it is time for a nap, surrounded by kitties (they have missed us)!


Monday, 16 February 2015

The Carefree Weekend Wardrobe

I was going to title this post "Dixie Sews Vintage Casual" but as it has nothing to do with Gertie's book, and I know several of my friends have it and love to sew from it, so I thought it would be too misleading

So as you may know, the Husband and I are going away for a slightly belated Valentines day weekend away this weekend, which just so happens to fall on his birthday as a happy coincidence. Since getting the booking as a Christmas present from my dad, I had been dreaming of the possibility of packing only handmade clothes (excluding underwear) for the entire weekend stay. As this weekend got closer, and I was able to sneak in some extra sewing here and there, my little hopeful dream became more of a reality.

As I wanted to pack reasonably light, for convenience sake and to use my gorgeous Regal suitcase my mum gave me for my birthday last year, I chose to go for more casual, easy-to-wear outfits. I didn't want the bother of petticoats and stockings and the like.

Isn't she Beautiful?

Naturally the first outfit I knew I wanted to pack was the one I made especially for the trip. The Kitty Valentine dress, made from a 1951 Home Journal Pattern, which I will be posting the Free PDF pattern of when I get back next week and have some nicer photos of. The second outfit of course is my Pink Roses Outfit, comprising of a simple pink t-shirt and gathered dirndl skirt made from gorgeous vintage fabric.

Kitty Valentine Dress

The Pink Roses outfit

These outfits I had made well and truly before my deadline, but then I was faced with some fairly busy days/weeks, with most of the sewing I was getting done being for the new Elsie George label. While I enjoy sewing for Rachel, I occasionally had to slip in some sewing for myself, mostly to keep myself sane. I started on my Maudella Blouse quite a few weeks ago, but then it sat half done (neatly in a doculope) Next I decided to trial a Playsuit Pattern, as Rachel had been after one for the brand. I Frankensteined the Bodice from View D of New Look 6457 and the Free Darcy Boxer short Pattern from measure twice cut once. I added a waistband in the middle for extra length and waist definition, and pleated in the fullness from the top of the boxers into the waistband. I made this trial playsuit out of a funky pink and orange 70's floral sheet, and while the pattern definitely needs a bit more tweaking, it has really grown on my and has become a very wearable muslin. I'll be packing this in case I want to frolic at the beach.

Horrid photo
After making up some sample pants for the shop from Burda style 6966, I decided to grab some slightly stripey, slightly stretchy black fabric from my stash (bought from an op-shop for $2) and quickly sewed myself up some 3/4 length pants. While I did have to grade up a little (the pattern comes in sizes 6-16) It was worth it. Once cut out this pattern sews up very quickly, and as I made it out of a stretch, I could leave out the zip and button for an even quicker sew. I found the fit absolutely perfect, and quite flattering. The waist sits evenly the whole way round, and the front stays reasonably flat, even though it has been made with stretch fabric. I have been wanting to make some high waisted pants for some time, and now I think I have found my go to pattern for pants. I finished Sewing these around 10pm at night, so at that point I had no idea what top I would wear with them (however I was rocking them with a plain white singlet tucked in while eating Ice-cream late at night) but then as I lay in bed thinking about sewing (doesn't everyone?) I realised I had a shirt that was halfway done that might work!

Maudella Blouse half Finished with the Burda
Slightly better (but still horrid) photo of the pants,
 they also work ok with my wonder woman top!
So the next day I tried on the half finished Maudella blouse with my new pants, and I liked how it looked. Then I got stuck back in to finishing it up, with a few modifications to my original plans. You can read all about the construction of it here

With that outfit complete and safely tucked into my suitcase (yes, I was packing for weeks beforehand, I was that excited!) I began to think about other items of clothing I might need. As much as I would have loved to have the time to sew a cute set of pyjamas from my vintage Butterick 2198, I decided I probably wouldn't have the time, but realised I already had a cute vintage style Nightie I made for Tiny Angry Crafter's Vintage Pyjama Sew-Along!

Of course, if I could find it (I know it's in the house somewhere) I would love to take my marabou edged robe and slippers that I made some years ago when I competed in Miss Pinup Australia. That way I could swan around the hotel room being fabulous and drinking Champagne!

Lingerie at the Live heats of MPA in
2011, the start of my vintagey pinup journey

As for Accessories, I'll be keeping that pretty simple as well. I'm taking a pair of red flats from Big W, a Pair of white flats from an op shop, a pair of heels (haven't decided which ones yet), my gorgeous floral summer hat (that I got for Christmas from my Boss at Elsie George!) my red bow belt ($10 from Elsie George) to go with my Kitty Valentine Dress, and a string of Pearls that were a present from my Mother-in-law.

And there you have it! The Perfect Vintage Style, Carefree Wardrobe for a Weekend Away.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Maudella 1326 Blouse

So, to make a start on my 2015 Vintage Pattern Pledge I am making a simple little blouse from some Floral cotton, that was gifted to me last year from a friend's stash, as well as a Vintage Maudella Pattern for a cute blouse with gathered detail at the center of the bust, that I can't recall where I got, probably at an op-shop

I have not had much luck working out the date for this pattern, but I would hazard a guess and say sometime from the mid 50's to early 60's. Maudella Patterns began in Yorkshire in 1937 and continued until they became New Look Patterns sometime in the 80's. Most of the ones I can find online are from the 60's and 70's, and they look much newer in the envelope design than the one I have. Actually, after looking around online, all the ones with the same font for the name are from the 1950's, so it's very likely to be a 50's pattern. I think it's nice to have a Yorkshire based Pattern in my collection, as My Grandfather is from York originally, and I still have family over there (some of which I caught up with when I was there last September)

Maudella 1326

Some of you may argue this isn't my first Sew of the Vintage Pattern Pledge, but as my Kitty Valentine dress was NOT made from Stash fabric, I have decided not to include it. I might change my mind if I get to the end of the year and I'm short of my pledge amount.

Originally I was thinking of replacing the zip with a decorative button on the back of the neck. But then I realised it is supposed to have a side zip, so I would still need something that created an opening to widen the waist (so I can get it on over my shoulders and bust) But as I would be wearing this top with a skirt with a zip, I really don't want a zip in the waist area of my top as well. So I thought, perhaps I could have buttons down the whole length of the back. While quite impractical, it does appear to feature on quite a lot in 1950's garments.

First thing with any of my Vintage pattern projects, is to grade it up to my size. I used the same method as I outlined in my previous post, mostly adding width at the side seams, and some in the center seams.

My Graded up pattern

Original pattern versus my Graded up one

Then I pinned to my fabric and cut out the pieces, included a long thin strip to sew as button loops, and a little extra in the center back, to allow for seam/hem allowance (as it is supposed to be cut on the fold)

Then Packed the whole project away neatly into a Doculope so I didn't leave a mess all over the dining table while I was at work.

To begin with, I sewed up the darts and the neckline pleats on the 2 front pieces. I then pinned together the front center seam and pinned it to my mannequin to see if I liked it. I think the neckline is going to end up a little too high for my liking (which it did look like on the pattern envelope) and it may end up looking a little matronly. But I'm going to still sew it up as is anyway, I'm sure I'll get wear out of it (and sometimes it might be useful for me to show less cleavage....)

So next thing, I overlocked along the both sides of the front seam, then sewed them together (that way I can press it open) then sewed the darts in the back pieces, and sewed the fronts and backs together along the shoulders and sides (then overlocked over those seams) At this point this blouse got put on the back burner for a while as I worked on other projects. 

When I finally got back to this project, I began again by sewing together the facing pieces, overlocking around the edges, then sewing the facing to the neckline. The edge that I just sewed then gets clipped at regular intervals, and the facing gets tucked inside and the neckline pressed

With facings attached

Facings turned in and pressed

Tucked in to my new pants
After trying it on with my new pants that I just made (Burda Style 6966) I decided to trim a bit off the shoulders, as they were sitting about 1-2" past where they should be. I also needed to trim about 1/2" off the bottom of the armscye as well (and grade between the 2 points for a smooth look). I made the same alterations to my pattern pieces for future reference.

laying the cut off section over my pattern

The new cutting lines, which I will cut when I find my paper scissors

As this is the sleeveless version, the armholes are then finished using Bias binding sewn on the inside (so you can't see it from the outside of the garment. I'm sure there is a technical term for it, but I can't remember it for the life of me. It is a technique I have also previously used on the armholes of my nightgown for the Vintage Pyjama Party Sew-Along.

To begin with, you sew the bias binding, right sides together, to your garment, like so:

Excuse the dirty looking fingernails, I was very silly and didn't wear gloves when dying my Mother-in-laws hair, so they are all stained.

Then instead of turning the bias binding over to encase either side of the raw edge, you turn it so it is completely inside your garment, and the previous seam you sewed becomes the edge of the hem, as I've tried to show in the photo below:

The finished Armhole
Next I thought I might run a basting stitch down the back seam, just to see how it fit and how far up I would need to place the buttons. To my surprise, the top still had enough ease at the waistline to fit easily over my shoulders and bust, but still have shape to it when being worn.

Checking the fit
So I decided to forgo any closures at all on this top (as much as I love the buttons with this fabric) and sewed up the back seam properly, hemmed and pressed it.

Almost complete, on the mannequin

I wore this top all day with a pair of jeans and the cotton was so lovely and light to wear. At first I didn't love where the neckline sat on me, but as I wore it, I began to like it more. Here's a few photos from the end of the day, enjoying a glass of wine at the in-laws place. It was pretty windy, and I have no make up on, but here they are anyway.

Looking away, the sun was bright

So now I can start planning my next Vintage Pattern Pledge Sew.

Dixie O'Dare

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

My Favourite Online Tutorials and Free Patterns

While I keep you all in suspenders waiting for me to give you the PDF of the Australian Home Journal Pattern I promised, I thought I would put together a list of some of the best free online tutorials and PDF Patterns that I have come across and/or used.
Some of these have been mentioned previously before on my blog and some are ones that I have stashed away for future projects, but I thought I would compile them all together here for my reference and yours. I'll be adding to this list when I find more.

The Darcy boxer shorts - Everyone's favourite multi-size unisex boxer short pattern! I have used this to make boxers, but have also used this as the shorts part of a 50's style playsuit. PDF
Sew Vera Venus Free Patterns - This links to her whole free pattern page, which has many patterns I haven't made yet, but plan to, but I did use her 30's/40's Retro Style Mini Cape Pattern to make capelets for my Bridesmaids for my Wedding last year (I just added a bit of extra length to them) PDF
Elizabeth dress - A cute dress with a faux sweetheart neckline with a sheer or contrast upper bodice. This is a free Pattern from Spit up and Stilettos that I have made and love. They also have other women's patterns to download for free. PDF
Ralph Pink Free Patterns - This site has quite a few nice free sewing patterns. They are pattern only, no instructions and they are only in UK10 (a couple might be UK8) so probably not for a beginner, or someone afraid to grade. I haven't made any of his patterns yet, but am looking forward to using one of his corset patterns (and corset-making video tutorials) soon PDF
the unofficial downton abbey sews - not just clothes, but some home items and accessories as well. An Inspiring collection of 10's & 20's style sewing patterns to sew your own Downton Abbey Wardrobe. Again, I haven't tried these ones yet, but it's on my to do list! PDF
The great british sewing bee patterns - A bunch of downloadable patterns. PDF
The great british sewing bee Sew your Own Wardrobe patterns - A bunch of downloadable patterns. PDF
Vintage purls - a whole heaps of 30's to 50's knitting patterns PDF
The Secretary Blouse - a really cute retro inspired blouse PDF

Remnant bag tutorial - My own rambling tutorial to make a casual shoulder bag with leftover fabric from a project
bridesmaids clutch tutorial and pattern - I used this to make a bag for my Cousin for her Formal with a metal hinged frame. PDF

Items for the Home:
Make a mesh lingerie bag tutorial - I used this to make some as Christmas Presents
quilted wine tote sewing tutorial - Cute little wine tote, great hostess gift! I made a few of these as Christmas presents some years back.

The ultimate applique post - A great guide to get you started doing your own Applique!

Dixie O'Dare