Sunday, October 30, 2011

1930s day dress...

I made a new 30s day dress last week, as well as a headpiece.

I self drafted the pattern based on this illustration...


...which I found on the www.  I used some vintage rayon from Etsy, and some black rayon from my favourite fabric store, Joys, in Geelong.  I used my basic dress block to create the pattern.  The dress has waist and bust darts in the front, and waist and shoulder darts in the back.  All of the edges, except the neck, have been finished using my overlocker's rolled hem - which seems to encourage movement in the flounces.  The neck is finished with bias binding.

The headpiece began as a plain, wide headband.  I hand sewed all the  ribbon flowers, and sewed them in place after sewing the veiling on.  I am really happy with the end result...but I quickly remembered why I don't wear headbands...because they are uncomfortable :-)

I love the dress, and think the complete outfit looks really great - I also received lots of compliments - so I guess it is a success.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The frilly jumper...

  I recently finished a vintage knit, using reclaimed pure angora from a jumper my mum made years ago.  The pattern is from "A Stitch in Time - volume 1" - a beautiful knitting book.

I also recently made some "vintage-y" trousers from Burda 4/2011 magazine...

The trousers were made using thrifted bright blue heavy linen fabric, which cost $6.00.  So this whole outfit is made using secondhand supplies - even the beads were thrifted.  Only my shoes were new, but marked down.  I think they look great together, this is the first time I will wear the sweater.

It just goes to show that secondhand/thrifted doesn't have to look that way!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Walk-away dress sew-along...

Even though I have made this dress before, I can't wait to join Edelweiss's sew-along.  I have never participated in a sew-along before.

This time I will use a heavier fabric, and will make the fitting adjustments...although I love the dress, I always thought mine was too blousy in the bodice.

I won a $500 sewing machine, and $100 voucher from "Spotlight" at the 2010 Melbourne International Fashion Festival because of this dress, so I have a very soft spot for it...

Twenty people in the audience at Federation Square - whose "style" the organisers liked - were picked out to walk the catwalk and explain their style.  One lady won the major prize $900 sewing machine, and the other 19 won the $500 machine...YAY!

I am so excited to make this dress again - maybe in a dressier fabric.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mondrian inspired...

I have always loved Yves Saint Laurent's "Mondrian" dress, from 1967...

...and have wanted to make a dress in this style for some time.  Well, I did - last week.  Just in time to wear to an exhibition in Melbourne last Thursday.

I drafted the pattern myself, and it is a little different from the original...but similar enough that the ladies at the exhibition recognised it.  What a relief :-)

I needed to add tucks after completion because the "shift" silhouette was not very flattering.  But overall I am happy with it...after all I am no YSL!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Simplicity 3688...

I have just finished my third hand dyed silk version of this blouse...

I love the pattern - both fit and style - and it is so easy to put together.

Not a very good photo unfortunately.  Both of these blouses were eco-dyed using rose leaves and other foliage - scraps given to me by my local florist!

The blouse at the back is a cowl top based on a free pattern by Hot Patterns , the only modification was the omission of the ribbed band at the waist/hip line.  This blouse is a gift for my neighbour's 40th birthday.

The Simplicity blouse is for me.

"Shibori" meets "Stamping" meets "Sew and Go"...

Continuing my experiments with fabric dyeing I produced this dress.

Firstly I accordion folded and clamped the cream wool jersey, then dyed it using acid dye - red and yellow mixed to make orange.  After washing and drying fabric I cut out my pattern pieces - Butterick 6305.

 After over-locking and pressing all pieces, I stamped them sort of randomly using three colours of Seta-silk opaque.  The stamp is a hand carved Nepalese "Double Dorje" stamp, which is a Buddhist symbol.  I bought the stamp in Daylesford, Victoria recently.

I really enjoy creating my own fabrics, knowing I am wearing something unique...what do you think?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Congrats to KittyMeow and Lizzy who each won a pattern in my giveaway.

KittyMeow wins Vogue 5121

Lizzy wins Vogue 9874

Thanks to everyone who entered :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Vintage Giveaway...

As I was writing my last post - half an hour ago - I was thinking how slack I am for not posting for 3 months... I am quite undisciplined at times, but am going to improve!

I want to do something for you, to say thanks for visiting... even though I have not been at all inspiring lately, so I will have a little giveaway...

Two prizes, randomly drawn from a hat, for followers who leave a comment after this post.

Both are vintage Vogue, unprinted patterns, size 18 (B-38 H-40).

Vogue 9874 - 1959

Vogue 5121 - 1960

These are two of the first vintage patterns I bought...but they are too big for me so I have never used them. Therefore, I hope they are complete. They do have instructions, and are in great condition.

Please comment regarding which one you would prefer, and include a contact email. I will draw the names from a hat at 9 pm Sunday 12th June, and will post worldwide :-)

Best Dressed in Vintage...

Firstly, I must apologise for not writing for what seems like forever. I have been sewing heaps, but not following through with photo taking and blogging.
I will try to do better...

On Sunday (29th May) I went to the Melbourne Vintage Show. I wore dress and hat - made by me, vintage seamed nylons and foundation garments, brand new vintage-y cream shoes, and vintage Glomesh evening bag, cream belt, and crocheted gloves.

Best of all, I was chosen as "Best Dressed in Vintage" - YAY!

I won a copy of the memoir "A Life in Frocks" by Kelly Doust, and two tickets to an exhibition "Mannequin" celebrating the fashion models in Melbourne during the 1950s and 60s. Everyone at the show was asking about my outfit, and were really complimentary when I told them I made the dress and hat.

Butterick 5281

Vogue 7464

Both patterns are reproduction vintage patterns, and were really quite easy to put together. The dress uses stretch satin, from Clegs, in emerald green. The hat was made with pale camel wool felt, emerald green vintage millinery leaves, and pale 'greeny-cream' velvet ribbon.

I really loved the way the entire outfit came together...what do you think?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pattern Magic - Volume One...

I went to Tessuti a few days ago, and bought Pattern Magic, a book I have coveted for some time. I chose a bodice to make, and got to work...

I used contrasting Japanese cotton voile, and repurposed a soft, denim dress (which looked shocking on me) for the cap sleeves and skirt.

This bodice required manipulation whilst on the dress form, something I have never done, weaving the sections through each other.

I used the sleeves and body of the dress - cutting, pinning, sewing, and fitting to make it work as a garment. It was fun to "work it out as I go" so to speak... I have never done that before.

I left all the edges unfinished, to give it a deconstructed and grungier look.

I am not sure what I think just yet, it is quite different from what I would usually like. I am glad I was able to step out of my fashion comfort zone a little though, and will wear it today...keeping an eye out for any "funny" looks.

I can't wait to make another item from the book...I haven't yet decided which :-)

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have been dyeing lots of fabric lately, experimenting much more with the techniques for dyeing with plant materials, with great results. I have also been reading widely about amazing techniques for synthetic dyes. So much so that I have been exploring ideas for creating items for sale on Etsy down the track.

I repurposed an op-shop tablecloth and some items of clothing, with great colours and patterns achieved.

I have settled on a name "DyeHouseDesigns", and have opened an Etsy account in this name with the idea of listing items such as these for sale. I am really excited about repurposing table linen for several reasons...
  • I love vintage table linen
  • I find lovely linen at op-shops all the time
  • usually they are hand embroidered
  • often they have other delightful features
  • sometimes they are marked - of no concern after dyeing
  • they are always beautiful and make wonderful keepsakes
I only have these few pics at this stage, but would really value any feedback from you all.

Have a great day :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spare a thought...

This post is totally unrelated to vintage, sewing, or fashion...

I write this to send my thoughts and prayers to all my northern neighbours in Queensland, and soon N.S.W. who are struck by the terrible floods.

I hope that no more loved ones or pets are lost, that the rain ceases, the flood waters recede, and that you may rebuild your homes and communities quickly, and with lots of assistance.

I ask anyone who reads this, who is spiritual, to please spare a thought and a prayer for all who are suffering at this time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eco retro...

I have just completed this dress from 1974, Vogue Americana - Carol Horn 1032, using op-shop cotton fabric, and eco-dyeing techniques.

I don't know the names of all the leaves I used, but it included lavender sprigs, broken oak leaves, eucalyptus leaves, and one unidentified leaf - some "windfall" I found on a walk to the supermarket. These were all placed between the folded fabric and bundled tightly with yarn.

I cooked this in a leftover dyebath from a few weeks ago - I had left the liquid in the pan after my last dye lot. The dyebath actually had a little stuff starting to grow on the surface, but I think that all just adds to the natural dye least I hope so :-)

I cooked the bath, just under a simmer, for an hour and left it overnight to cool. Normally I am far too impatient and curious to leave the bundles before unwrapping them, but I forced myself. In the morning the water looked black and I thought I had left it too long, and it would all be black. It is such fun opening the bundles, always a surprise, and they turned out really good!

The dress was super easy to make. I had the size 10 pattern, from an op-shop, and was not sure it would fit. I seem to be a 12 in both vintage and modern patterns, so I only used a 1cm seam allowance instead of 1.5cms. This gave me a little extra room, and I think it fits really well.

I have been making more 60s and 70s dresses lately, with satisfying results. I think I will make many more.

BTW - these photos were taken along the waterfront where my BF and I go for our daily bicycle ride. It is just lovely...

It was a great night for a ride, lots of people sharing the path :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

My second commission...

I have recently completed my second commission, another silk blouse. This blouse was dyed using plant material, including prunus leaves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender sprigs, and brown onion skins.

All went into the dye bath, and more prunus leaves were bundled in the silk to cause an "eco-print". That happens when the leaf is pressed firmly against the fabric, and as the colour is released during the dyeing process it prints onto the fabric. Sometimes the print is so effective I try to remove it thinking it is a stray leaf left behind.

front view

back view

It is difficult to see the detail of the print and the effect of the colours, it was very soft and subtle. As I type she is on her way to Germany, to a friend's wife. This blouse is looser and less tailored than my previous commission. I am hoping that the design suits the recipient - one of the difficulties with making a blouse for someone you have never seen in the flesh. It must also be said that the dress form never does a garment justice!

The silk has beautiful drape, and feels soft even after dyeing. I have bought two rolls of this silk...all the store had...and just love it.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and New Year :-)