Friday, 26 August 2016

Vintage Cyclops pram restoration project

Recently, as my husband were clearing out some old furniture and taking it to our local waste management centre, I spotted this Vintage Pram frame at the  tip shop. It was marked at $30, and needs a clean up, new tyres as well as a new bassinet part for the top. I didn't buy it when I saw it, but I thought about it overnight, plus I did a little bit of research, and decided I really really wanted to have it to restore and use for my future babies. So I went back the next day and luckily it was still there. The lady who worked there said she was surprised it hadn't been sold sooner.

Before I paid money for it, my hubby and I had a good long look at it, to determine whether it would be a feasible project. Luckily the rust spots on the chrome are quite superficial and should come off. Other parts of the frame that are more covered in rust were not originally chromed, so we can scrub them back a bit harder, then paint them (I think they were originally a cream colour) One wheel has a pinched spot on the rim, however as these are solid rubber tyres, not inflatables, it should be OK, but hubby says he should be able to reshape it anyway.

This photo shows how much rust came off by just rubbing
with a dry cloth

After some research, and advice from my husband, I purchased Autosol Metal Polish to help remove the rust and polish up the chrome.

I decided to start on the hubcaps, as they were reasonably easy to remove from the pram. As I had heard steel wool can be too abrasive to use on chrome, I had a go at the back side of the hubcap first.

Here you can see the difference. The left one I had just started
polishing, the right one I hadn't begun yet.

The backs of the hubcaps are not quite as shiny and polished as the fronts, and the rust there was much worse, so I wasn't able to get them perfect, but still a lot better than they were. As the hubcaps were already pretty scratched up, and they aren't really something people look at, at close range, I though I would have a go at polishing the front sides with the steel wool as well.

Front of the hubcaps before polishing

1 quick go made a huge difference, as you can see, so I decided to go ahead and polish them all up, starting with these 2, then the other 2 a bit later.

There is still some rust left, particularly along the edges of the hubcaps and the lettering, but hubby think he can get that off when he finds the right attachment for his dremel. If not, I don't mind, as this was never going to be a Rick's restoration level of perfectness.

Next up were the wheels. I wasn't sure these would come up nice at all, but after a quick scrub with the polish, I was pleasantly surprised.

Starting to clean the wheel

This is going to be a bit of a long term project, as I only work on the polishing for short time periods, as the metal polish has a strong smell, and tends to get everywhere, so I have to regularly take breaks from it. But I am very optimistic that it will be finished before I have a baby to put in it.

I initially struggled to find much on this particular model of Cyclops pram, but I have since found a few more photos of similar prams. The wheel arch design seems to be fairly rare, with most dipping down in between the 2 tyres, having separate wheel arches for each tyre, or not having them at all. Here is what I have been able to find so far:

Brochure circa 1969
Found here on The Pram Man site

Found here on Pinterest from an expired Gumtree listing

Found here on Pinterest from an expired Ebay listing

Doll size Cyclops pram
Found here on Pinterest from an expired ebay listing

As you can see, ours is clearly missing the bassinet part, as well as the part of the frame that goes around the bassinet. The tyres need replacing, so I purchased replacement rubber from Dave from The Pedal Car Guy, who was a wealth of knowledge of all things Cyclops! He told me the bassinet part of the pram was most likely manufactured by another Australian Company, Pedigree, which is information I have not yet found on the internet.

I managed to pick up a wicker bassinet for $5 from one of my local op-shops to use as a base for the pram, which is from another Australian Company, Siesta. I may end up getting a nicer one at a later date or a pedigree one if I can find it, but this one seems like a good start if I want to build the hood and upholster the bassinet myself.

Has anyone else undertaken a restoration project lately?


Thursday, 25 August 2016


So, over the weekend, I was lucky enough to have had my uncle teach me how to spin wool. He now has 4 spinning wheels, and so has agreed to lend me one, possibly for keeps if I really like it. I warned him I tend to pick up skills like this very very easily, but he still thought it would take me some time to get the rhythm of the wheel. However it only took me a matter of minutes and I was off and spinning like a pro (or at least not a complete novice) He was very surprised at my natural ability, and could not wait to tell people at the spinning guild he meets with.

It was difficult to spin and look at the camera

I had my first bobbin half filled within 30 minutes (you only half fill it, as you then ply 2 spun strands together)

I then took the wheel, its accessories and 500g of un-spun wool home. I didnt get any more spinning done that afternoon, as I was too tired, but the next morning, I was awoken early by one of my cats, and so decided to get up and see what I could manage before leaving for church. I managed to spin a second half full bobbin, ply the 2 together, wrap the yarn around the niddy noddy, then twist and tie it into a skein.

2 strands plied together

on the Niddy Noddy

My First Skein!

4 completed skeins

By the time I went back to work on Tuesday morning, I had completed 4 skeins! Out of interest, I weighed them on my kitchen scales and they average 30g each, which is a lot lighter than I thought they would be. I still need to wash each skein to set the ply so it doesnt unravel, which will shrink it a bit. I will then be dyeing them some sort of bright colour (I haven't decided what colour yet) and knit up something fabulous! I already have a cute little bolero/shrug pattern in mind.

Does anyone else spin their own yarn?


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Vintage McCalls 6236 in Floral

Earlier this year I managed to purchase a couple of vintage patterns that were pretty close to my size, which is pretty rare, especially within my budget. One of those was a lovely little 1962 shirtwaister style dress with some gathering details on the bodice, and a gored or slim skirt, in a 41 inch bust.

Vintage McCalls 6236

During one of my local CWA groups handicraft meetings, I decided to take this pattern, a floral sheet from an op shop, as well as some pins and scissors along with me to work on during the meeting. I got it all cut out, adding a little extra room at the side seams as I went, by the end of the meeting, and began construction of it when I got home. I changed the design slightly to be an actual shirtwaister, with the buttons going down a little way past the waist, rather than having a button front bodice with a side zip as well. I sewed together the bodice and skirt pieces, leaving only the facings, collar, hem and buttons/buttonholes left to do, and hung it up in my sewing room while I did more work on my Vintage Suit for the Sew-Along.

Floral Sheet

Once I finished my suit, and another slip, I turned my efforts back to my dress. I put it on over my clothes to check the fit, and realised I had forgotten to shorten the bodice, and so it was much too long. So I simply sewed the waistline seam again, about 1.5 inches in, then chopped off the excess with the overlocker.

Just needing the buttons and hem!

Next up I sewed in the armhole facings, then ironed interfacing on to the collar pieces and sewed them on. Then all I had left to do were the buttons and buttonholes, front seam and the hem, which I finished up within an hour or so of leaving the house. I used some pale pink buttons from my stash that aren't quite a perfect fit, but are close enough for me.

Pink Buttons from a cheap mixed
button jar

I've already worn this dress out 3 times in 4 days, as it is lovely and comfortable. I think I need more vintage styles like this one that are slightly less fitted, for those days when I feel a little bleh.

Selfie with my new Erstwilder brooch

I haven't managed to get any nice full length shots wearing this dress yet, but here are a couple unflattering ones of me wearing it while sitting and learning to spin wool (which I will be posting about soon) I've also since found a nice pink belt on my wardrobe that works well with this dress

Has anyone else made McCall's 6236? How did you like it? Or made any dresses from pretty vintage sheets?


P.S. I am now up to 5 out of my 10 pledged makes for this years Vintage Pattern Pledge, I might just make it!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A Blue Princess Seam Slip

After making my last slip, I wore it nearly everyday, so I thought I should probably make myself another. Rather that use the same pattern again, I decided to use one that would count towards my Vintage Pattern pledge. I know I had a vintage slip pattern that I was in the process of grading up, but of course I could not find it anywhere. So I settled for this pattern.

While not my usual decade for vintage patterns, this one is from 1989, so it is still technically vintage. Besides, when a pattern is made up with the right materials, you can make it look like a completely different decade than when it was designed for. I chose to use a lovely royal blue satin printed with stylised pink roses, that I purchased from Spotlight, from the remnants bin, I think. I only had about 1.5m of it, so I had to shorten the slip a few inches, especially to cut out all the pieces on the bias, which I was fine with, as I found my last one does try and peek out from the hemlines of my dresses and skirts when I wear it underneath. To complement the satin, I searched through my stash for some lace and settled on this lovely soft pink design.

I began sewing by sewing the wrong sides together, as the basis for the French seams. I made the straps, using the same technique as my last slip, then pinned them on to check the fit. It was a bit roomier than I wanted, so I took it in an inch on either side seam. Once I was happy with the fit, I trimmed the seams, then turned the seams around and sewed them right sides together, then pressed all the seams flat. I once again pinned the straps on and checked the fit, which I was pretty happy with.

While overlocked seams would have been less bulky, I love the finish of French seams on lingerie. The next step of construction was to attach the lace along the neckline and hemline. The pattern instructions say to stitch the lace on, easing around curves and pinching extra out of the corner, then turning the raw edge down on the inside. So I decided to follow the instructions, overlocking the raw edges before adding the lace. The hemline was finished in the same way.

Unfortunately, while pressing the edges inside the slip, I accidentally melted a small part on the hemline. It's not too noticeable, but I'm still bummed I did it.

After trying it on, I realised the lace was falling down a bit along the neckline, so I stitched it in place on the straps, and that seems to be keeping it up.

While I am happy with how this slip has turned out, I think I prefer the design of the other pattern with the separate cup pieces, although I am sure I will get wear out of this one, as it will be less noticeable underneath my clothes because it is quite a bit shorter. It also looks great with my new Pale Blue Suit!

Anyone else as obsessed with making and wearing slips as I am?


PS. This is my 4th Vintage Pattern Pledge make for 2016, so I am still a bit behind on my goal of 10

Monday, 8 August 2016

Finished Vintage Suit!

So I bit the bullet and purchased more of the panama stretch suiting fabric from spotlight online, as I could not find it at any store that I visited, so that I could sew the matching skirt and finish my suit. I used my $5 scratchie voucher from my spotlight mail, so that almost made up for having to pay shipping.

Just to remind you, this is the pattern I used for the jacket:

To finish off my suit jacket I cut out and sewed the lining, then sewed it into the jacket, hand sewing a few sections, then sewing on the buttons and giving it all a final pressing.

For the skirt, I used the skirt pieces from Butterick B6094, with some added room at the hips, an extra 2 darts at the back (making 4 in total at the back) and a small kick pleat at the back hem.

While I do not have many shades of blue in my Zip stash, I did have a few pale blue ones. I settles on the vintage one still in it's original packaging. It was a bit stiff from disuse at first, but loosened up a bit after being unzipped and re-zipped a few times

Here is a selfie I took when checking the fit before pressing or adding the waistband or hem to the skirt. You can't tell, but I'm wearing it over my pajamas.

I also used matching self covered buttons and rouleau loops on the waistband for a neat finish. They aren't perfectly aligned, but I'm not unpicking now!

So here is the completed suit! I think we were supposed to finish the Vintage Suit Sew-along by July 30, but a bunch of us were running late, so I'm not doing too badly. I finally got myself a bluetooth remote thingy to take photos that aren't mirror selfies, yay! The lighting was less than perfect, but I still think it's an improvement, and I don't have to ask my hubby to take photos.

I am way way way behind on my goal of 10 Vintage Pattern makes for my pledge this year. This Suit only brings me up to 3! Although the slip I am wearing under my suit that you see in the last 2 photos is my next Vintage Pattern Pledge make, I just haven't blogged it yet. So I will really have to get sewing if I want any chance of making it to my goal.