This time it’s a Shirtwaist Dress from the ‘Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing’. I have a vintage black shirtwaist dress. It’s preloved and now adored so much that it’s slightly faded and just a little see through (though with a pettiskirt that’s not a problem). I was on the hunt for another shirtwaist dress that I could wear around the house and not stress that the kids & normal wear would kill it. So when I saw this dress pattern in Gertie’s book I decided that I would give it a crack.
A pic from my Martinis and Slippers Instagram account.
Next was the fabric. While I was on holidays in Mauritius last year I posted a picture on Instagram of the gorgeous teal & floral cotton fabric that I picked up in Rose Hill for only $AUS 12.00. From memory I got about 5 or 6 metres.
In early January this year I copied the paper pattern pieces onto tracing toile and then cut up my pre-washed fabric and then folded everything up for another time. From memory my brand new Pfaff sewing machine shit itself when I was testing / trying to shirr. So after only having the machine for 3 months I had to get it serviced and believe it or not it’s still a shit trying to get the shirring right. So I use my elcheapo Brother $99 machine (side loaded bobbin for the win!!) to do all my shirring.
Of course this Shirtwaist Dress has shirring on the back so held back doing starting sewing this dress until my Pfaff was back from the Doctors & in the end I still used the Brother because the shirring was so bloody temperamental.
Overall this dress was really easy to do, I will admit I struggled with the collar when I was about to join the collar to the dress it was too short & the notches didn’t match. So I double checked that I had copied the right size which I had. So I did it again and sewed a smaller seam allowance & managed to get it to fit. I absolutely love this dress, it really does have a very 1940’s feel to it – did I mention it also has pockets!!!
I still have heaps of fabric left over and I will probably make a skirt or maybe a shirt…hmmm.
That’s the only way to describe the Monica dress from Pinup Girl Clothing!
I would say that 90% of my wardrobe has dresses & skirts that all are either full circle skirts or have full skirts, so I can wear my pettiskirts underneath. I could wear the figure hugging wiggle dresses but I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything (Ha!) and I really don’t feel absolutely comfortable wearing them.
However there is always an exception! I saw this dress on Pinup Girl Clothing and did the ssssssiiiiiigggggghhhhhh. I neeeeeeeeeeed that dress.
So I waited patiently until MisKonduct Clothing had it in stock and in my size and bang bang, that baby was mine.
Since I have had this gorgeous dress, I haven’t actually had any significantly special (non eating!) events come up that I could wear it to, so until that special date occurs it will sit waiting in my wardrobe.
The best thing about this dress…no bra!! I mean I don’t have to wear a bra. It’s full lined with a stretchy shaping fabric and has the amazing ability to hold all the wobbly bits in nice & tight. The added bonus is the draping effect of the fabric is very flattering.
I won’t buy a dress if it ends above the knees, I am fussy and it means that so many dresses are automatically on the no buy list, simply because I have varicose veins on the backs of my knees. Nothing dramatic & worth getting medical intervention for but it’s just enough to cause some anxiety for me. So rather than be stuck in pants forever, I work around it and only buy dresses that end past the knee. Thankfully this dress does end past the knee!
MisKonduct has the Monica dress in stock, they have amazingly fast delivery if you buy online, you can also buy the Monica dress online at Pinup Girl Clothing and they have it in many gorgeous colours so knock yourself out!
Now I just have to wait for a special occasion to wear it to!
It’s taken me 2 whole years to finish sewing a dress. I know it sounds bad but there is a story behind why it took me so long.
I found the pattern for this dress 1958 Ladies’ Party Dress on the Sense & Sensibility website. My friend who sews told me about this pattern all those years ago and I decided that this was the dress that I would start my sewing journey with.
The pattern was bought online, downloaded as a PDF, printed into a million (well it felt like that) pages and then I had this huge jigsaw pattern to stick together. All of that I did with no real hassles. The next thing I did was trace the pattern onto tracing toile so that I didn’t have to cut up my giant jigsaw puzzle, plus the thought of sticking paper onto fabric and then trying to pin it & cut…yeah…no thanks.
So tracing the pattern was easy. Then I realised half way through tracing that I was copying my shop bought clothing size – not my true size. SHITE…start tracing again. I wasn’t happy about it but at the time I was thinking it would be better than cutting the fabric and it’s too small.
Then I had darts….darts at the back and front of the bodice and I just froze. I had no idea how to copy those darts from the pattern to the fabric. No idea at all.
So everything was folded up and put into the bottom of a box and I decided that perhaps I needed to go and do some sewing lessons. One of the first things I learnt to do in those first few weeks of my sewing lessons was transferring the dart from the pattern paper/toile to the fabric. I had a burst of enthusiasm and I pulled the fabric out of storage and transferred my darts, pinned them down ready for stitching aaaaaand then put everything back into storage.
Fast forward almost two years and I needed to finish that dress off. However…I learned a few things over the years.
1. Wash your fabric – yup…I didn’t wash my fabric before cutting it.
2. Make a toile – yup…I didn’t make a toile and I discovered that my torso is short so quite often I have to adjust the bodice of any dresses / tops that I make so that they fit.
3. I cut rather large notches on my fabric – a simple straight short cut is all that is needed…not my giant year 7 sewing class triangle notch (I was doing what I was taught all those years ago!).
4. Lining – didn’t even think for a minute that I would need to add lining to my bodice. I ended up having enough fabric so I self lined it and it turned out perfectly.
I start sewing, matching my giant notches and trying on my toile/real bodice and it was a tight fit. I was seriously wondering if this dress would fit once I put the zip in.
Meh…just keep going.
It’s cool, so what if it doesn’t fit me, at least it’s practice. I sometimes stress so much that what I am making won’t work or fit or look any good but I have to remind myself that even if I fail at least I tried and at least I am getting practice and using the skills I have learnt.
Sure enough it all came together and with my brand new overlocker I was even able to finish off all my raw edges.
I took a deep breath in and zipped her up and what do you know…it fit!
If I had to make any changes I would actually lower the bodice a little – maybe half an inch to an inch and I would make the skirt a bit longer. Otherwise this dress is awesome and will be worn this coming Spring/Summer.
I have already received a compliment wearing this dress (it was a mild day so I HAD to wear it out!). I went to Spotlight where I bought the ‘Deck Chair’ fabric from originally and one of the ladies working behind the cutting counter said my dress was beautiful and when I told her that I bought the fabric here she said “I know”.
The deck chairs are navy & white and goes perfectly with my navy shoes and cute vintage navy purse I picked up at The Vintage Emporium in Tyabb this past weekend.
Oooh look what I made!!!! (a gravity defying child AND clothing to fit my gravity defying child!!)
Sooo, it’s the end of February and this is my very first post this year yeeeeahhhh sooooooo sorry eeek…. I can’t say I have been lazy just really busy doing stuff. January was a bit of a blur of school holidays, bbqs, an annual trip to Barooga in NSW, celebrating Australia Day and getting ready for the new school year. Of course that meant I had to clean the cupboards in the kitchen…?? I had to!!
Then February was all about..more Summertime bbqs, getting my little 3yr old settled into kinder, which I am happy to say she loves, as well as a very quick and very much unplanned trip to Sydney to visit a very dear friend of mine (Hi Gina!!).
I made a few New Year Resolutions and one of them was to dedicate more time to sewing. I am ok at it…not brilliant but I have made a two dresses, a few circle skirts and a top based on a pattern from 1942 but most of those were done in the sewing classes I attend each week.
Really what I wanted was to be much more autonomous when sewing. Not having to ask for guidance or help or getting stuck but just being able to sew & understand the instructions that come with patterns. So I bought a few patterns and yep…I instead of taking me 4-5hrs to complete it’s dragging on and I’m now 4 weeks (2hr lessons each week) into a top that I thought would be easy.
Regardless for ages I have been doubting my ability and doubting that I can really sew, then about 3 weeks ago I popped into spotlight and saw this really cute ‘Vintage Paper Doll’ patterned fabric with a yellow background and on a whim I bought it. It was on sale and I was thinking that I could make myself a novelty circle skirt with it.
Then Miss A saw it and declared it “her new dress”. So I got to thinking that there might be a simple free girls dress pattern that I could find online and then if I stuff it up..meh. If it works then HOORAY!!!
I Googled, I Facebooked, I searched the sewing pages that I follow until I saw a few pics and that led me to Create Kids Couture. I found a dress that I liked. I bought it and printed it out and really started to stress…the ‘what ifs’, the ‘not sure’, the ‘I don’t think I am going to be able to interpret the sewing jargon’.
Then I figured…it’s a piece of fabric…material. So what if I stuff it up. It’s all practice anyway. Away I went. Oh uh…first road block. I didn’t have any contrasting fabric to use. I could make it all using the same fabric but it would look so much better with contrasting fabric.
Off to Spotlight I go and I find some but there on the sale table is the exact fabric I already have at home ready to be cut but with a pink background, rather than the yellow background I have. Miss A declares the yellow is yucky and she wants the pink. I would have preferred the pink too…in fact if I had seen it the first time I would have bought the whole bolt. Anyway…I also bought it because I figured I could keep the yellow fabric to make my novelty circle skirt.
I followed the instructions and with the exception of one step, which I quickly rectified it took me two nights to complete this dress.
The gathering on the skirt took me 3 goes. The first time the thread broke, so I unpicked and stitched again. I got my gathers all done and then ahhh…BROKE the thread again and this time I have no idea how it broke.
Third time lucky…!!! Oh and of course…ha ha…FRICKEN ha…I found an awesome tutorial on creating gathers using a zig zag stitch that just looked so awesome that I am going to give this dress a crack again and see if this new fandangled zig zag gathering business works.
My most gorgeous most adorable baby girl!
I don’t have an overlocker so I wasn’t able to finish my edges as nicely as I would have liked, however my Pfaff has a huge number of stitches to choose from and one of them is a zig zag that will suffice for raw edges.
Overall I am absolutely freaking thrilled. It’s amazing how something so small can boost your confidence so much. I want to find a few patterns that have sleeves – I don’t think I can let my child out of the house in the middle of winter with a halter neck dress on.
In any event the dress I have made is called Hadley, cost $10.00 and you can buy it from the Create Kids Couture website. It’s a downloadable PDF pattern with full instructions and pics to go with it. Any pieces of the pattern that have straight edges you have to measure up yourself but the curved pieces are on the PDF. Absolutely perfect for beginners so give it a crack if you need a confidence boost or have a gorgeous Daughter like mine!!!
A night out with the girls in the middle of winter. I want to wear colour, I want to wear my pettiskirt & I want to wear heels.
I had the choice of two dresses to wear tonight. My brand new old 1950’s handmade vintage joy, which I had managed to fix the hem on earlier in the day or a repro blue floral dress from Retrospec’d that I bought at the Love Vintage Show in Melbourne earlier in the year.
My brand new ‘old’ 1950’s dress
My new ‘reproduction’ dress from Retrospec’d
Black and White dress or Blue, pink & white dress. Colour won in the end, plus I had already checked out the menu for The Firehouse online and figured my newly acquired vintage dress deserved more than a trip to a restaurant where I would be eating a burger.
So…repro dress it was.
I also took my Alpaca out for the night. The Alpaca was one of those purchases that you just never forget or regret. A day trip with the family to Caldermeade Farm meant a slight detour to Tyabb. Tyabb have a few – ok…don’t go to Tyabb. It’s all MINE!!!! Ohh, alright, I’ll share. Tyabb has some antique stores and maybe they might have a vintage shop or something that might have something in it. Ha ha.
My Alpaca swing coat!!!
I picked my something up. The Alpaca. Thank goodness it was freezing and I didn’t have a proper coat with me or else I wouldn’t have been cold and looking for something to keep me warm. I found The Alpaca on a rack at The Vintage Shed and I put her on and BAM she was mine. I asked my Husband to guess the price. He guessed $300. I said “nup, it’s $70”. We bought it!!
Sewn in tag on the inside left hand side
Sewn in tag on the right hand side – Russeks Fashions New York – Paris – London
The Alpaca if you haven’t already guessed is made from Alpaca’s fur does need a little repair work on the lining but nothing that 30mins of my time, a needle & some thread can’t fix – must get onto that.
Me wearing my gorgeous Alpaca!
This coat is amazing, very heavy for a coat (weighs 2.2kgs) and was made in England I’m guessing in the early 1960’s and once on it’s like wearing your own personal furnace. I cannot believe how warm I am once it’s on & all done up. I love this coat and when I wore it out & our waitress offered to hang it in the cloakroom, I refused. It’s vintage, it’s new to me and I am not letting this baby out of my sight. Then our waitress asked if she could touch it. Ha ha…yes I let her touch it.
My repro dress combined with a pink cropped cardi
I really need to start looking at heels. I don’t have enough of them and it makes it boring wearing the same shoes with my variety of dresses. I tend to stick to buying black, black and then black just for something different so now…coloured heels.
The Alpaca (Black swing coat) – The Vintage Shed Tyabb