Wednesday, 29 February 2012

WINNER: "Vogue Vintage Model" Pattern

We have a winner!

Congratulations Debi, and better luck next time to everyone else. 

Can't you just picture Debi wearing this in Scotland?

Although maybe not in bubblegum pink...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

V1368 (OOP) - Ugly Bias Linen Dress

Me:  I've made another Donna Karan pattern dress... it's comfortable and loose...  

but not what you'd call stylish. 

You: Hmmm. It certainly doesn't look stylish like that. 
Can't you stand still for a second? 

Oh and just so you know - 
when you're daughter's in the picture I can't concentrate on the clothes!

Just saying... it's up to you, I know...

Me: OK, here's a boring standing still picture. 

And the back view.


Me: Satisfied? 

You: My God, what dreadful photos!!! 

Maybe those strange yellowy moving ones were better after all. 

Tell me though - that's not really a Donna Karan pattern, is it? 

Me: Yeah, it's this one - Vogue 1368. 

It's OOP so unless you have it in your stash it's pretty low risk...

You: Looks absolutely nothing like yours! 

Did you stuff it up or something?

Me: No! I didn't stuff it up, I swear! 

I did make a couple of changes but they were just to fix it!   

I even used a recommended fabric!

Look, this is what is was like when I made it "as instructed":

You: Geez - that IS ugly. 

So what did you do to "fix" it?

Me: I just added some darts and a big bow :-)

A bit better, n'est-ce pas?

You: Barely. 

It's still pretty dowdy.

Will you actually wear it?

Me: I don't think so... 

Boo hoo hoo (runs off to cry)

You (shouting): Hey - I just noticed something funny
- those red marks
- they look just like BLOOD! 

Weird huh?

But at least you didn't make shorts! 



The Lowdown

Pattern Rating: Easy

Cost: $24
  • 2 metres x $12/metre linen from Material World
  • $0 stash zip (totally superfluous of course as the whole dress is bias cut)
  • $0 thread - using up some half spools
  • $0 binding - made by hand (no special tools, just bias cut strips sewn together and ironed in half)

Time: 4 hours = way too long given the finished object
  • approx 45 minutes cutting out due to lots of mucking about with placement on the fabric 
I recently had a cutting out question in the comments, and thought this example would illustrate nicely how I go about things

If I had cut this out on the true bias the dots would have been angled from the horizontal as well as from the vertical, so I cut it a little off the bias.  I started out with the front pattern piece and made a mental note of where the now horizontal dots sat with respect to the waistline marked on the front piece so I could be consistent with the back pieces. I placed the back piece for the right hand side first, but before I cut it I used my tape measure and ruler to make sure I was leaving enough room for the left hand back piece with the dots at the right level. Once I'd cut this piece out I flipped it over on the fabric to match up the dots before pinning and cutting the left hand back piece.

placing right back on fabric - using ruler
use right back piece to match up left back piece

  • 1/2 hour initial sewing and 3-step zig zagging of edges
  • 1/2 hour making bias binding
  • 1 1/2 hours sewing, checking fit and fixing
  • 45 minutes ironing, inserting zip and doing last of the 3 step zig zags in lieu of a hem

  • Raised the front neckline just a little (an error! must have been confusing Vogue with Burda)

  • Cut all dress pieces slightly off the angle so as to get the dots in a straight horizontal across my waist
  • Lengthened about 3 inches
  • Added darts
  • Added a distraction bow

Pattern Review: Avoid this one. It makes a sack - and who needs another of those?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Quick Giveaway: "Vogue Vintage Model" Pattern

Just a quick post to say I have a copy of  Vogue Vintage Model V1044 in sizes 6-8-10 up for giveaway.

The pattern is for a dress which is "mid-calf length, has fitted bodice, front and back yoke extending to short or below elbow length sleeves and front tucks. Attached skirt is gathered, has snap closing in front, inverted pleats at center front, back and sides. A: very deep hem. A, B: self-fabric belt".

This pattern is a reissue of an original 1956-57 design, is supposed to suit all shapes except columns, and is rated Average / Moins Facile - maybe due to the tucks down the front bodice?  
It takes between 3.7m and 6.0m of fabric depending whether you make long sleeves and/or extra-deep hems, but I suspect it could be made with less fabric if you reduced or removed skirt pleats, and/or shortened to knee length. The pattern shouldn't be difficult to grade down to a 4 or up to a 12, and should also be pretty forgiving in terms of hip size. I think it would look great in a dark grey paper taffeta or a rich coloured shantung...  you could also use this pattern to try out a contrasting yoke.

If you're a follower and you're interested in this pattern, let me know by comment including your email address if that's not already included in your profile - happy to mail anywhere. I'll close the giveaway at about midnight Sydney time next Tuesday evening (28th February '12).

Monday, 20 February 2012

Did You Lose a Button?

I think I might have it!

Was it yellow, or orange?

Red, or pink?

 Was it a white button?

Was it a very special button?

Was it green?

Was it blue?



Was it still on its card???

And when did you lose it, by the way?


Oh. That recently?

Sorry, can't help. 


Briefing Notes

Photographic evidence above relates to a button collection ("The Collection") now in possession of The Button Police.  The need to progress the investigations relating to The Collection is a priority for The Button Police, however it is acknowledged that publication of this evidence may stimulate copycat crimes.

The Collection recently came into possession of The Button Police from a cooperative informant known as
"The Judge".  Under questioning, The Judge revealed the existence of a button collecting dynasty, most recently represented by "Mrs X".  It’s understood Mrs X and her mother, "Mrs Y" (now deceased), assembled the Collection over the period 1910–1990, most likely focusing their attentions on the Northern Region of NSW, Australia.  The Collection was passed to The Judge for safe keeping in or before 1990, since which time it has apparently remained largely untouched.  

Buttons may have been obtained by any one of three common methods, described forthwith:
  1. The "snip" - a small scale, high-risk and relatively public method which may have involved the use of decoys to shift attention away from desired buttons. Individual or small groupings of buttons displayed on clothing would have been the most likely targets for this method.
  2. The "trick" - a medium scale method which may have involved coercion of vulnerable person(s). The target in this approach would have been individual or small groupings of desirable buttons located in sewing rooms, educational facilities, store rooms and the like.
  3. The  "take" - typically a larger scale, highly organised and sophisticated method, which may also have included credit scams, decoys and/or coercion. This method would have targeted high profile individual or grouped buttons displayed in small shops or market stalls in which security was inadequate.
Any person(s) having information about the accumulation of the Collection, or believing their button(s) to be present in the Collection, should make formal representations to The Button Police.  It should be noted that no alibis have been established for personages of interest for the period of interest. Due to the diverse and dangerous nature of the suspected collecting methods, citizen's arrests are NOT recommended.


Although no photographic evidence is currently available, the existence of a further suspicious collection has latterly come to our attention.  This collection, while perhaps small in scope, presents significant challenges in terms of provenance. The collection is believed to have been commenced by a figure already known to The Button Police as "Dutchy".  The late Dutchy passed his collection in its entirety to his charming conspirator,  "Muscles", at some time between 1995 and 2005, from which point collecting activities were taken on by Muscles.  In the course of the past year Muscles has dropped hints to The Button Police about the Dutchy-Muscles Collection, but only in the last days has material evidence been described.  Given the separate international movements of Dutchy and Muscles over the period  1915 - 1995, the Dutchy-Muscles collection may represent buttons from the Netherlands, Northern England, North America, Eastern and Northern areas of Australia, and possibly also portside towns from shipping routes of the 1940s.  As more details become available they will be shared with the public.


Apologies to PR, Mrs X and her mum, TVD and VMC for the above stretching of the stories.  
And I acknowledge that all of the buttons were most likely acquired by means of the "buy" method!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Colour Shock! New Jacket, Pants and Top

 Me: Come on, tell me the truth - do my legs look big in these?  

You: Well...

Me: What if I stand like this? More natural?

You: Hmmm - well let's focus on something else. What about that jacket?

Me:  OK, here's my jacket - d'you like it?

You: Actually the jacket's kind of big too, isn't it... AND loud. 

       Erm maybe you could wear the jacket with something black?

Me: But don't you like it with the pants?  

Me: Look, it's got these cool little side splits.

Me: And I can do these sort of karate moves really comfortably!

 You: Well it's not for everyone, is it. 

        But obviously you're very happy...  


Me (sulking): Well I'm not happy now! I can tell you hate it all! 

         Do you know how long this bloody took me??????? 

You: Look, it's probably fine for Australia. 

And the t-shirt's OK - obviously nothing to it though.

       Not many people would dress like that 'round here though...


Me:  Do you really mean that? That it's FINE? 

You: I'm not going to lie. It's OK. OK for you

         I like that painting though. Did one of your kids do it?


Here's the lowdown - costs, timings, patterns. 

Cost: $24.20

Time: Approx 3h - very straightforward and quick.

The 2 metres of orange linen fabric for the trousers came from The Fabric Shop on sale, reduced from $20 to $12/ metre. It's a very heavyweight linen, and feels cool and soft against the skin.

The zip and buttons are vintage. The zip was 20 cents at the second hand store ages ago (I have a bit of a zipper stash) - you can't see its (red) fabric colour, but I thought that the gold metal teeth would look OK with the vintage style of pants.  The buttons are much, much older - these come from an amazing button stash that my dad's partner recently passed on to me, and look to have already seen a lot of use before my trousers.

I used my rather favourite old Ralph Lauren Vogue pattern, which I've promised to make into navy linen beach pajamas :-)

I guess you can see these orange trousers as a test run for sizing...

Linen gives a lot more than calico, so I found I had to take these in a bit from my muslin size, and then I still had some excess width at the front so I was able to reinstate a couple of pleats that were included in the original pattern.

I also added about 10cm in length to the muslin to give myself plenty of room for hems. When I made this pattern originally (early 90s I guess?) I found my linen shrank a lot, most noticeably in length. I'm covered for that!


Cost: $50

Time: 4.5 - 5h initially (incl about 40mins to cut out), + a further 1.5 hours to adjust and finish. 

The fabric for the jacket came from The Fabric Shop, a 2 metre piece bought at $20/ metre at the same time as the orange linen for the trousers. It's a lovely heavyweight linen, and feels like top quality stuff. I already had lots of partially used reels of the right colour thread - from this DKNY dress, this UFO jacket, etc....

Back in the day I made the skirt and top from this Anne Klein pattern (V1325, well and truly OOP) in a size 10 but never got to the jacket. I assumed I'd need at least a 12 now, so I snaffled up a second hand copy ages ago - $10 or less, bingo.

I'm happy to report this jacket is really easy to make - unlined, and no buttons or closures - and it has has interesting cuffs, set in sleeves and lovely simple lines.

However, I should have thought about 80s sizing. The jacket is described as "very loose-fitting", which translated into modern parlance means BLOODY HUGE.

The dropped shoulders seem to demand huge shoulder pads (I didn't give in), and the 7/8 cuffed sleeves which looked so elegant on the pattern envelope are truly voluminous and long.

Here's where the "7/8 sleeves with cuffs" ended on my long arms:

I unpicked the cuffs and side seams, and took these up by about 6cm to get to a better look.

The sleeves were also much wider than they looked on the pattern envelope - one possibility (of course) is that the sweet little Vogue model is actually a giant.  I tapered in the sleeves with a long pencil-drawn triangle that took them in by 5cm at the seam by the cuff to nothing under the arm (where I couldn't begin to think of how to make the set in sleeve narrower without making a new jacket body). So all up they're now about 10cm narrower at the cuff:

Cost: $12 max
Time: 45 mins

The fabric for this t-shirt came from Lincraft - about $12/m, and I used a 1m piece. And leftover thread.

For a pattern I used my own "famous" self-drafted kimono sleeve t-shirt, previously seen here, but left the neckline high.  I cut this out super-fast at about 11.30pm on Saturday night and then sewed 2 of the seams till just after midnight. The other two seams got whizzed through after breakfast on Sunday - ie total of about 45 minutes to make. No edges were hemmed in making this garment.  Nothing was done slowly here.

I pattern matched the stripes as usual (well, less carefully), BUT as I'd cut the fabric out a bit wonky or the stripes weren't straight or something, the shoulders are not equal heights ie the neckline is now odd.

If you like kimono sleeve t-shirts, they're really simple to make yourself - AND if you make your own, you can have it loose / tight in the places you want! 

So all up, for the outfit - well, that can be homework :-)

See you!
- Gabrielle

Friday, 10 February 2012

I Heart Chloe: V2465 (OOP) makes a sweet top

This little top is my latest completed project - I feel like I've been a pretty lacklustre blogger and commenter lately, but there have been a lot of distractions round here. School went back, and I went back to work. We had some asbestos removed (scary) and then roof renovations, and meanwhile the weather has been pretty close to non-stop rainy except when it's just threatening rain with a low grey sky (where is our Sydney summer? I know we had one pleasant Sunday, but is that IT?), which does not go down too well when the front part of your roof is off and the latest tradie didn't know how to put a tarp on properly.

All the brown muck you see out there came off the roof I guess.    

Let's get back to the subject.

When I saw this pattern for sale I barely hesitated. It's a Vogue Paris Original, and I'm pretty sure it's from the mid 80s (around when my mum made me a formal dress in a similar shape... I should show you that one day, but it wouldn't even fit on my dressform). I'd never seen this pattern around before, but I thought it looked like it would be gorgeous in a pretty silk, with a coordinating slip underneath. That's not what I've made though, is it!

You can see the pattern in my smug little mitts below: 

Well that's because first up I had to confirm the pattern's credibility and sizing, isn't it!

I made the bodice as a little top with one of my Tessuti remnant sale pieces of fabric, a lovely lightweight great quality cotton. I don't know about everyone else, but when I make up these "test" garments, I still like to do it carefully with the hope that the end result will be a valuable wardrobe addition. So I went to some pains to match up the pattern over the button bands with the fabric of the front bodice. I didn't have enough fabric to get a match down the side seams but I think centre front is a place where matching or not matching a pattern is most striking... and I am seriously chuffed with how well the matching has worked.

Yes I know it's buttoning on the wrong side, but if I'd done it the proper way around the matching wouldn't have been perfect. I am not at all bothered that my blouse does up like a man's, to be honest.

Surprisingly for a little cotton blouse, it earned me TWO separate, unsolicited compliments when I wore it to work the other morning. The fabric is interesting up close, isn't it!

The sleeves are double layered, which means no sleeve hems:

Here are the stats:

Total cost = $41
$35 pattern (big gulp. Must have been really sleep deprived as I normally prefer a $10 max!). I really had better use this one again
$5? fabric from Tessuti's remnant sale last year
$0 thread (a couple of already half used spools)
$1 small pack of vintage buttons from my stash

Total time: 5 hours
Approx 20 minutes cutting out
About 4 hours slow-mo sewing* and pressing
About 10 minutes arguing with my sewing machine about sewing buttonholes 
About 40 minutes of hand sewing where the inside layer of sleeve attaches to the bodice, + buttons

Here's some of that hand sewing on the inside of the sleeve:

* Slow-mo sewing : I often sew on a very slow setting because I don't really have enough light in my sewing corner and I really hate unpicking the mistakes I make when I sew fast.  I'm also trying to savour the process...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Boy's Tops

I'm waiting to get some decent light (COO-EEE - Summer, where are you?) to take some photos of my latest little Chloe top (V2465, OOP) and Anne Klein jacket (V1325, OOP).  For now here are two easy tops whipped up for my son:

1. A cool t-shirt refashion

I found a t-shirt in great condition at my local second hand shop. It fitted me snugly but it looked like a small man's top (maybe it had shrunk in the dryer?), and when I asked my son if he'd like me to turn it into his size he was thrilled with the idea. I have to say I get a bit depressed when I look at the grim t-shirt offerings for boys who are 7 or older, so it was fantastic to be able to make my son such an bright, cool t-shirt.

To do this refashion this I cut the original t-shirt carefully inside all the seam lines and cut off the neckband.

I then fit size 8 length /size 6 width pattern pieces from Burda pattern #9614 onto the cut pieces, taking care to align the existing cover-stitched hems with sleeve and back hemlines, and also to get as much as possible of the graphic onto the t-shirt front. I also ignored the pattern's neckline and cut mine close to horizontal so I could adjust it later. The t-shirt front was too long when I fit the graphic where I wanted it so I cut a band out of the length near the bottom and made an extra seam that's parallel to the existing front hem - it's not noticeable but I guess it could be a cool t-shirt feature anyway.

I got my son to try the t-shirt on before finishing the shape of the neckband as I wanted it to be big enough to get on but not too loose looking. I stretched the old neckband a little as I sewed it to the neck hole and it has worked well.

Cost: $6.50
     $4 t-shirt + $2.50 notions (thread)

Time: 90 minutes or less all up

Conclusion: Yay! This was easy but very satisfying - and cheap! 

2. A new rash top

- since every year his size seems to sell out before I get to the shops. Also rash tops looked easy to make (and they are, so long as you're OK with the plain look - my son would have preferred a fancy surf picture on the front but I have no idea how they are applied):

I should have checked my son's dimensions but instead I used a straight size 8 from the same pattern as for the t-shirt refashion, with a bit of extra length in the sleeves. I'm not sure why I didn't add to the length of the top itself, and I don't understand why I didn't use the size 6 width as for the t-shirt refashion... mistakes, I guess. I'm not hemming the body because we need all the length that's there - in fact, I can't see how this can really represent a size 8 length so perhaps I accidentally cut out the size 6 length. I can't be bothered to narrow this or add a band to lengthen it - but it'll be useful and my next version will be better.  Interestingly, sewing this fabric wasn't too tough, so there will no doubt be more swimwear coming up.

Just for fun, here's how the sizing of this homemade rash top (size 8 t-shirt pattern) compares to a stretched out size 6 RTW rash top - mine is too wide and too short but the sleeve length seems good.

Cost: $16.80
      $16.80 on fabric, with heaps left over
   + $0 on notions (an already started roll of thread and box of medium weight stretch needles)
Time: 90 minutes or less all up

Conclusion: Luckily my son isn't fussy and sees this purely as a functional top. If anyone knows how to print / iron on / stencil / ?? cool pictures onto swimwear fabric I'd love to learn about it so I can make my next rash top more interesting as well as better fitting. 

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