Biggish smalls

One of the hardest things I find about dressing up in vintage (or vintage inspired) clothing is finding the right undergarments. Have you tried to find a nude coloured slip lately? One that isn’t a suck-it-in job, or made of terrible polyester, or one thats longer than upper thigh length? Maybe its just Wellington, but I never seem to be able to find what I need! Happily, I can make my own vintage inspired underthings, and play around with some different techniques while I’m at it!


I had planned to just make up a pattern for a slip, its not exactly a difficult shape! Then the January version of Seamwork magazine came out, and I decided to just lengthen the Savannah Camisole. I cut the pattern at the lengthen/shorten line, and inserted the extra length I wanted to bring it to just below my knees. I found some nude cotton/lycra in the Fabric Warehouse sale, so that was handy! The whole thing only took an hour to cut out and stitch, so the quickfire patterns promised in Seamwork do seem to be fast!


I didn’t add lace, because I didn’t want it to show through my chiffon dress. Instead, I bound the arm holes and neckline with self bias tape, which extended into the straps. To make things a little bit less utilitarian, I tried my hand at some hemstitching, guided by the tutorial in the same issue of Seamwork. A single winged needle has been sitting in my sewing caddy since I first borrowed my machine from Nana, and I never knew what it was for until now!


My antique Bernina doesn’t have a huge number of fancy stitches, so I sewed two rows next to each other. It was quite a chore to try to get every third and fourth stitch through the same holes as the row above, but I managed! I should have used a machine embroidery thread instead of just standard cotton, but I still think it looks pretty. Delicate and understated, and not going to show through my dress!


The other undergarment I’ve finished this week are a pair of white silk/lycra tap pants, possibly the oldest unfinished object in my sewing room! I started these in a sewing class nearly two years ago, but ran out of time to finish them. They’ve languished in a drawer ever since, very slack of me! When I tried on my cream linen Holly Trousers, I realised I would need more than just nude underwear underneath, so I dug these out to see what needed to be finished on them.


All they needed were the snaps and hook and eye to be sewn onto the placket! I was so happy! The sewing definitely leaves a lot to be desired, but its nice to see how much I’ve improved since I made these. I think they were probably my first attempt at french seams, so they’re better finished than a lot of my early efforts!


I feel like I should excuse the rubbish photography in this post, it was a very gloomy weekend in Wellington! The pale fabrics I used were super difficult to photograph against our white walls, and I couldn’t get my camera to focus for a full length shot of the slip. Annoying, but at least its only a boring slip not a gorgeous dress I spent weeks on!

Stripes for Summer

I had a bit of angst about what I should make out of this wonderful striped rayon blend knit (from the Fabric Store, of course), so I asked the internet via Instagram. Colette Moneta? Or a modified version of a Megan Nielsen Briar? Both are patterns I have made before, and I’m planning to make both again anyway, I was just waffling over fabric! The majority vote was for a Moneta, so I dutifully obliged. Sometimes its wonderful not to have to make decisions for myself!


I made the short sleeved version, obviously, with a few changes after my last attempt. I shortened the bodice by about an inch, since the weight of the skirt pulls it down to an unflattering point on my short torso, and took the bodice in under the arms, tapering to the waist. I also took about an inch off the length of the sleeves, to make them more capped. I just think the length suits my proportions better!


I also dropped the back lower, I’m a bit obsessed with scooped back necklines at the moment! I think its sexy, but not obviously so. Not that there’s anything wrong with cleavage, of course…Thats my biggest worry with this dress, actually. I feel that the high neckline combined with the stripes makes me look a bit Dolly Parton-esque!


Mono-boob aside (what?), I do really like this dress. I love the stripes, and the swishiness of the skirt, and the fact that it is just really really comfortable! It looks just as good with black or brown, and I think it works equally well with my red Keds, ballet flats, sandals or heels. Yay for a dress for pretty much any occasion! It does look best with a belt, I think I need to look into doing a sway back adjustment if I make it again. I also love the lining! I’ve never tried lining a knit bodice before, but it works really well, especially with this thin, clingy knit. I used a remnant on Lyocell knit that i had in my stash. The lining also gives a really nice clean neckline, so I didn’t have any problems with it stretching out as I tried to hem it with my twin needle. I do think I should have maybe reinforced the neckline with some clear elastic, just to stop it sagging over time. It didn’t seem to stretch out when I wore it the other day though, so hopefully it’ll be ok!


And here is one last gratuitous shot, purely to get my favourite shoes in! Can’t believe that I didn’t get them in any other photos, rubbish photography!


A vintage-ish sweater


Apparently I can’t stay away from the overlocker for any decent length of time! I’ve had a busy few days, what with the end of the trimester and assignments due and what not. Its also my last week at my current workplace, and I think they’re trying to squeeze as much productivity out of me as they can! Happily, this wee top was super fast to whip up, I think it would have been less than two hours from cutting out to trying on. I’ve noticed recently that I have a serious lack of warm tops to wear with my vintage dancing outfits (for when I’m not dancing, obviously, this would be far to warm to wear for swinging out!) and this length is perfect to wear with high waisted 40’s trousers and pencil skirts.


Its just the bodice pattern from the Colette Moneta dress, plus one of their free collars and some hem bands. I think it looks pretty cute! It was also really good for using up left over fabric from some other projects. The grey merino is the same as my Moneta dress, and the blue is from my second Renfrew.


The sweater has some of the same problems as my Moneta dress (of course, most of the problems were fabric related!), but without the skirt pulling it down its much more stable. The blue merino is much less stretchy than the grey, so it keeps the waistband and cuffs nice and firm. I thought it would keep the neckline from stretching out too much too, but I think reinforcing the seam with some clear elastic probably would have been a good idea. Once I had finished the top I had a look at the tutorial on The Coletterie, and thats what they advice. Always read the instructions before assembly! But never mind…


My only real problem is that the collar keeps flipping up, and exposing the overlocking (the above photo is an extreme example), so I might put a few hand tacks along its length to keep it sitting properly. Then hopefully my compulsive fiddling with the bow will stop…

Snug as a bug in a merino Moneta

I’m pretty sure that making a long sleeved merino dress is the last thing on my Winter Wardrobe list, and its not even officially winter yet! It certainly feels like winter, its snowing down south and it was 4 degrees this morning when I left for work. Talk about frosty! Happily, I now have a whole range of snuggly home made merino clothes to keep me warm.


I’m sure everyone has seen this pattern by now, its the latest one from Colette. I’ve had some pretty major fitting issues with every Colette pattern that I’ve tried, which is such a bummer because I love their style! I figured that since this is a pattern for knits, fitting shouldn’t be such an issue, and its such a cute style that I decided to give it a crack.


Unfortunately, I still had trouble getting it to fit. I took about an inch out of the under arm area, tapering to the end of the sleeve and waist, which made the bodice fit better initially. It was a really good length, hitting at my natural waist almost perfectly, until I added the skirt. Then the extra weight dragged the whole waist down to a really unflattering point! I took the skirt off, removed the elastic, and re-shirred it with a shorter length of elastic, which does a much better job at keeping the waist where it should be.

I think my main problem was my fabric choice. I went for this lovely thick merino knit because it was really soft and warm, not thinking about the fact that it is super stretchy, much more so than the fine jersey merino I have used so far. It just keeps growing! When I put it on on Sunday morning, the fit was quite snug in the torso, but by the afternoon when I took the photos for this post it had already begun to sag, especially in the back (as seen in the above photo). It has stretched out in the armpits as well, not very flattering!


Possibly grey was not the best colour to pick either, Monsieur said it was a bit boring and matronly (horror!). Should have gone for navy! I was trying to pick a neutral colour that i could pair my masses of navy and mustard and red winter accessories with…oh well! I definitely plan to make another one of these for summer, because its a really nice shape, and I love the neckline and all of the collar variations. Hopefully all of the problems I had with this one will disappear when its made up in a cotton knit!


For now though this is a super comfy, cozy dress that I can slob around the house in on the weekend, or I can wear it out paired with my Coppelia cardigan or a wide belt and scarf to disguise the sagging! Also, it has pockets. Warm, wooly pockets for my freezing fingers…


I’ve got a few woven garments lined up, it feels like its been months since I sewed anything but a knit! I could really do with some winter skirts, so my new Hollyburn skirt pattern will be getting an outing soon…

The Gin and Tonic Jasmine

Oh my god, this top! I love Colette patterns, especially the Jasmine blouse, but wow this project gave me grief! I’m calling it the Gin and Tonic blouse, because it thats what the colours remind me of, and because I desperately needed a G&T at several points during its construction…


I think a big part of my problem was choosing the wrong fabric, cotton seersucker is maybe a bit too stiff for this bias cut blouse. I made this top mainly for Art Deco weekend, which is why I chose this fabric, but if i ever dare go near this pattern again I’ll choose a much softer fabric which will hang and drape nicely. I made the collar out of a scrap of cream silk that i had left over from a skirt I made for Art Deco weekend last year, which I plan to wear with this blouse this year. It should be a nice cool outfit to wear in the scorching Napier sun at least!

Things that I like about this top are the colours (even if the fabric choice was a mistake) and the chevrons that form where the stripes meet down the front and back. I’ve never made a bias cut garment before, so I’m pretty proud of how I got the stripes to match up so neatly! I just drew a line on the pattern which matched up with the top of a stripe on the fabric, which was easy and seems to have worked well!


I also like the notched sleeve cuffs. The instructions in the pattern looked quite intimidating, showing how to sew them together with the facings, but they were actually really simple once I had the pieces cut out in front of me.


The main thing I don’t like about this top is the fit. It’s just too big, and I don’t know how I managed to mess it up so badly! It should fit perfectly according to the measurements on the pattern. The darts are too low, and its too big across the back of my shoulders (the same old problem). I pulled it apart and tried to fix the back, but its still not right. I was so fixated on the back that I didn’t notice the darts until it was pretty much finished, and I couldn’t stand the idea of unpicking it again. I’m consoling myself with the thought that it’s for a costume, its not something I’ll be wearing every day, so it’ll do. I also had trouble with getting the collar and neck facing to sit, but once I pulled it apart and ripped the interfacing out it all smoothed out. The fabric is stable enough without the interfacing!