Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back to the Daily Grind…

Alas, my holiday is over and its back to it. This will be my only post this week (gasp!!) due to the fact I’m off to Wellington for a conference tomorrow and am not back until late Friday.

I just wanted to say thanks to all those who took the time to tell me that they liked my tutorial (I really wasn’t convinced!!) and because of it I’m expecting to see a lot of those skirts and tops being made in the next few months!!! I really appreciate your comments any way and just want to thank you all for taking time out to leave them, they always make your day.

Have a great week,



Ps) I look forward to much blog catching up when I return!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sewing, sewing, sewing...

I got the stitches out of my leg this morning and the results of the test on the mole - thank goodness the mole is a non-cancerous one but it is one that could have turned nasty quite easily so it was a good thing to have it taken out.  And I'm really surprised that stitches don't actually hurt when being taken out!!  Who knew?  Now I just have these little white strips that hold the wound together and I have to leave them on for no less than 10 days!!

The dress I'm wearing I've actually had for a while now but never got round to wearing (basically because I had to sew all the buttons back into place again because they were so loose 2 fell off when I was trying it on!!).  Its actually a Principals dress and when it was in the stores cost around $100 each, I had initially tried it on and decided against getting it because of the price.  But it was meant to be mine because I found my exact size for all of $25!!  And its such a beautiful fit, very comfy and I love the colours :)

Right, on to the 'How To' s that I promised.  Now, I did get carried away and tended not to photograph the end of the making so I'm sorry - but the basic premise for each piece (the pencil skirt and the halter top) is there in pictures!!  Also, please note that these are patterns I have designed and made up myself - and while they are not overly complicated, if you do decide to use them please let me know :)  Just good manners!!

I don't profess to be the sewing queen (far from it in fact!!) but there are always a few things one should invest in before deciding to start sewing:

1) A decent pair of fabric scissors.  These MUST NOT be used to cut anything but fabric - no paper, plastic or pruning with these babies because they will blunt and ruin the scissors.  If you live with some one else don't leave them lying around because they are bound to be used (scissors are always one of those things that go walkies!!) and if you do leave them, anyone caught using them for anything other than fabric are punishable by death (make sure they know this before hand though!).

2) A quick unpick.  This is something you'll get angry about if you don't have it when you need it, a must for unpicking those pesky mistakes.

3) An iron.   I know, I don't iron ANYTHING unless it absolutely needs it, but when it comes to sewing I tend to iron at every step especially when I'm making something without a pattern.  Ironing in hems, darts and zips makes the sewing process so much easier (and you'll see from the pics that I don't own a ironing board, but a towel on top of a flat surface does just fine!!)

The 1940's Halter Neck:
1 - I basically cut a decent sized square out of fabric for the back and ironed it.  I then proceeded to put the zip in.  

2 - Cut fabric in half, iron over about 2cm fabric

3 - Place your zip and mark where it ends.  Pin the bottom of the fabric together and sew up until you hit where the end of your zip will go.

4 - Its up to you how you place your zip, you may want it completely in the middle or to the side.  I prefer mine slightly to the side (Sorry, this pic annoyingly wouldn't load.  I'll put it in when I can).

5 - Sew in the zip using your zipper foot.  If your machine didn't come with a zipper foot (it should have, its a basic foot) then you will need to buy one or you will struggle to get a nice straight line close to the zip and you'll probably end up not even sewing the zip in because you'll be too far away from it.

5 - After that I cut a similar sized piece of fabric, pinned them to Madeline and started shaping the back and the front.

Here I stopped taking photos sorry, but I sewed in all the darts and the back and front together.  I also sewed in the hems along the top and the bottom, I measured how long I wanted the neck strap to be, cut it, sewed it along the edge and folded it out the right way.  I ironed it then pinned the ends in and sewed them.  Hey Presto - halter top made!!

Basic Pencil Skirt:
1 - I always make the waist band first - I don't really know why, I just do :)  So measure your waist and cut a strip of fabric with at least 1cm extra on each side.  Also make sure the width is big enough to fold in half and be the size waist band you want (you can have any size you like!!).  Sew up each side, cut the excess fabric from the corners so that it folds over nicely and gives you a good point.

2 - Cut two big strips of fabric - make them long enough and big enough to fit around you and so that you get the length you want.  You may want to get a skirt you know already fits you and cut around that (much bigger though because you need to sew the pieces together and shape the skirt which actually takes more fabric than you may think!!).  And having more fabric to play with is much better than having less :)

3 - Take the back piece and place the zip like the halter neck.  Sew in etc... 

4 - this is where a dress makers form comes in handy (yay for Madeline!!).  Place the two pieces of fabric on to the form and start shaping.  Adding two darts into the front and two into the back.

At this point I got carried away and stopped taking pictures but I sewed in the darts and the sides, pinned in the waist band and sewed that in and the hemmed it (it originally was going to be shorter but I liked the longer length, I have enough fabric to make a shorter version though!).  I then hand sewed hooks into the waist band at the back to fasten that together, you can use whatever fastener you like though :)

Phew, that was long!!  If I've confused you in any way I'm deeply sorry.  This is one of the longest posts I've done and need a break from staring at the computer.  If you do have any questions please comment or flick me an email, I'll gladly answer all queries :)  Once again, apologies for any bad explaining - it so much easier to explain it in person but at least you have photos - goodness knows you would not have been able to follow them without the pictures!!

Have a great day,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pencil Skirts and Project Runway...

Cream pencil skirt as promised and tomorrow I'm going to upload all those 'the making' of's (including said pencil skirt and that halter top I made).  I'm off to make a navy pencil skirt now - too many pencil skirts?  Well, personally I don't think you can have too many pencils skirts :)  Its such an easy design to make - but maybe I'll step put of my comfort zone and add a little embellishment?  Pockets?  Buttons?

And I also need to gloat a little - I just finished watching season 5 of Project Runway last night.  Sorry NZ fans but I'm well ahead of you :)  It now means when it finally does get here I don't need to block out my Friday nights!!  This seasons designers really didn't wow me at all though, I was a touch disappointed but I did/do LOVE Kenley's style.  She wore a fascinator most days and looked so cute and made me need a feather one for myself.  Luckily the lovely Casey made one and has some instructions on her blog.

Feather Fascinator here I come,

Have a lovely day,

More Blog Love...

The Lovely SpiraGirl gave me a blog award a few posts ago and I've only just gotten round to passing it on so apologies.  And thanks so much SpiraGirl for the award - its always extremely flattering to get an award from a fellow fashion blogger!!  

So the rules for this particular award are that I get to choose 7 other lovely people to pass it on to and:
1) The nominated is allowed to put the picture on their blog
2)Link the person who awarded you
3) Nominate seven other people and link them
4) Leave a message on those people's blog to make them aware than they are nominated

Now, I feel quite mean and snobby only being able to give awards to a set amount of people, I don't want anyone to feel left out at all because you are all so deserving.  So I was thinking about not passing it on because of this very reason, but then it is always so nice to receive an award and if only 7 people can receive it then thats 7 people feeling the blog love :)

So my chosen few are:


ps) are you allowed to break blog award rules?  Because I would very much like to.  If I am allowed then I'm awarding this award to everyone on my blog roll - but only if I'm allowed!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Thrifty Day...

I'm on holiday till the end of the week and because I've been at home sewing most of the time I decided it was a beautiful day to get out and about.  First stop was save mart where I got this little red dress.  Now I wasn't sure and almost left the store without buying it before doing a u turn and picking up again.  It was in the vintage section for $9.99 and made by a company called Girl Friday Uniforms that used to live in Christchurch - I hardly think its still there today, though if it is please correct me.  It obviously used to be some lady's uniform back in the day but its so well made and there is very cute detailing on the back.  I do need to take it in a smidge but I think it will look quite cool with a black belt and some woolen stockings in the winter?  If you don't think it will work do let me know, I'm still a little unsure of it myself - any styling tips much appreciated too :)

I then went into Dunedin's premier vintage shop I suppose you could call it - Modern Miss.  Now don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful shop with many lovely things in it but I honestly haven't really been inside since vintage became 'In' because the prices just soared!!  I did buy the most beautiful Navy Bag (brand 'So Obviously Rex', isn't that the coolest name?) that was only $38 down from $45 but really, I have another bag from there and two woollen skirts that I got two years ago and all together they cost me less than that!!  (I'll show you the other bag soon!!).

Along with their ridiculous prices (a dress I picked up was $175 and it was marked down - cough!!  It wasn't even that great of a dress and their scarves cost all of $18 each - EACH!!) they dont have eftpos.  Now tell me Ladies and Gentlemen, who actually carries cash or cheques around with them these days?  I had to go to a money machine down the road and round the corner to get money to pay for the bag and as I was walking back I was wondering how someone must feel if they had to with draw $175 and walk around town with it - I felt strange even carrying $40 round with me.

Okay, rant over.  I apologise, I just can't believe some people would charge that much for vintage things, especially when they aren't even all that amazing!

I've nearly finished that cream pencil skirt and will show you all tomorrow - have a fantastic rest of your day.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Miss Deb Dress...

This is a little dress I got on the weekend - its a vintage dress cira 1940's and is from the New Zealand Brand Miss Deb.  I tried doing some research on the brand (its no longer around) because I've seen a few other beautiful vintage dresses by them before and haven't had any luck.  Is there anyone out there that may have some clues?  I'd love to know the history behind the company that has made so many amazing dresses!!

These next two pics I was playing with photo effects!!   Click to enlarge.

I did pay a bit more for this dress than I have for some of my other dresses but it was just so beautiful that I had to have it.  Now all I need are a couple of weddings to wear it too :) 

I also want to know if any of you lovely ladies (and Gentlemen!!) have any good books you can recommend on fashion in the 40's - well late 30's to early 50's.  Including things like hair and make up?  Websites are also more than welcome.  I'm trying to stream line my wardrobe a bit more to fit in with these eras yet still be modern and comfy.  Being able to make my own clothes that fit perfectly is a huge blessing and one that can save me an awful lot of money in the long run!! 

 I've culled quite a few of the pieces I don't really wear anymore which has freed up some room in my wardrobe, I was trying to be ruthless but it didn't quite work for everything.  As a person who is a hoarder of clothes I'm quite proud of the progress I've made.  Now I just have to tidy everything up and put it all away :)


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Little Dress That Was...

I spent the weekend turning the ugliest dress into something I'd be very happy to wear.  It's something I'd probably never in my lifetime choose off a rack, it was too long, shapeless and had the most terrible sleeves.  One thing it did have going for it was the fabric...

It was one of the many items that had arrived in my package last week and as soon as I saw it I knew it had potential.  I washed it, ironed it and set to work transforming it.  At one point I felt like I was on Extreme Makeover: The Dress Edition and once that got boring I pretended I was on Project Runway where the challenge was to take someone's favourite dowdy dress and breath  new life into it  (silly?  Yes, probably - but it was fun at the time!!!)

I had to zoom down to spotlight to buy a zip for it because it didn't have one - so I unpicked the back and put it in.  I then set about shaping it and cut the sleeves off (and I must confess it looked so much better once they were gone, even before the shaping and shortening!!).  But for some reason I couldn't get the hem line right - its still not perfect but its good enough to wear and so here is the result...

As always, click on the pics to make them bigger, and I know, the patch on my leg is gross - don't look at it!!  Its staying on till I get my stitches out on Friday!!

What do you think?

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I hardly ever seem to post on a Sunday - I'm not entirely sure why, but here is a special little Sunday post just for you!!

Any way - today was sunny and so I braved the outside in my little white mini dress hoping against all odds that if I wore it it would warm up a bit.  Alas it didn't happen so I changed.  But I did get some outfit shots on our very over grown lawn filled with Daisy's...
I've been sewing all day yet again (and basically all day yesterday too!!).  I've just got to put the finishing touches on that cream pencil skirt I mentioned I was working on and today I made a start on the most terrible looking dress I've ever seen.  It came in that pile of clothes I was talking about that arrived last week, the shape was bad, the length was bad and don't even get me started on the sleeves!!  But never fear for there was potential!!  The fabric is just so cute and all it needed was a little creativity and love.  I've just tried it on and it looks a million times better now that it has been fitted and the sleeves removed never to be seen again - in fact I think it may become a summer staple!!

I have also been guilty of not showing you some of my most recent purchases!!  I feel a little guilty because some of them are gems but I just havent gotten round to posting about them because its been a smidge to cold!!  Just yesterday I got a pretty little blue nz vintage dress from the 1940's with a tie belt and tiered pleating, I also have another light blue dress from the 40's that I got a while ago with the sweetest little capped sleeves and then there is that big pile of vintage clothing to get round to wearing and showing you all!!

I will get round to it I promise!!  Hope you are having a fantastic weekend,


Friday, October 17, 2008

1940's Halter Neck...

Yay, I've just completed my 1940's style halter neck out of some of the fabric I thrifted on the weekend. I'm really pleased with the result considering I had a few teething problems. As with the skirt I didn't use a pattern but I did document (most) of the making, of which I'll do a post about soon. I did pair it with the skirt (I know - enough with the skirt already!!!) because I liked the high waist with the top but the colours aren't exactly amazing so apologies. I didn't even own a red belt to match the shoes, oops!! I also tried to go somewhat 1940's with the hair - what do you think?
I'm going to make another very similar skirt out of yet some more of the thrifted fabric from the weekend, a creamy coloured one. I'd like to thank those for the tips on sewing the hem - you know I didnt even really notice it until it was pointed out, the tension was far to tight for the hem so i'll try hand stitching the next one.
I'm terribly sorry about not being specific about the vintage goodies package that arrived yesterday - it isn't a secret at all!! I actually paid all of about $3 plus postage from Trade me, I bid on the contents not being actually sure of what was in it, the photo was just a big pile of clothes but there were a few shirts i could make out that I wanted. I figured that $3 was totally fine to pay for 2 shirts and I could biff the rest if I didn't like it. Turns out it was a treasure trove of goodies!! And all New Zealand made vintage as well which makes for a huge bonus!!

Also, please ignore that terrible patch on my leg, I tried to hide it as much as I could - my mole is officially MIA as of this morning, stitches out next friday. The worst part was the numbing injection and as the Dr was sewing my leg up all i could think of was sewing fabric and how it must be much the same - the pulling, the tugging etc. My Dr was saying she does embroidery in her spare time and that it was much the same - well it makes it much easier, we were wondering how male doctors get along with this sort of thing.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Package...

I'm going to start out by letting you all know how grey and horrible its been here - lucky for me though I'm on holiday for a wee while and as a result got to stay indoors with my sewing machine and Madeline.

This morning though I got a very fun package in the mail filled with vintage goodies :)  One of the most exciting things I got was this beautiful turquoise pussy bow shirt - I absolutely adore it!

It worked so well with the little pencil skirt I made earlier this week that I simply had to take a photo and share it with all of you.  There were so many amazing things in the package that you'll all just have to wait until I wear them - including a very cool 60's coat that will have to make its debut in Autumn (How sad..)

I have also, as I mentioned, been sewing all day.  In my arrogant state I thought making a fitted top would be easy without a pattern, lo and behold its not that simple!!  However I am making good progress (in fact, its nearly nearly finished!!) and here is a little sneak peak...

I have been documenting its progress (although I kept forgetting towards the end) and will fill you in in due course.

On a happy note, here are some flowers from David's dads garden - they smell yummy and look quite quaint in the old milk bottle.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Verdict...

Well, I have spent all day sewing and have finally produced this little pencil skirt. What do you think? I didn't use a pattern, just made it up as I went with a lot of help from Madeline.

I was in the process of putting the zip in the back when my machine all of a sudden decided to keep catching the fabric and knot all the cotton up. I was a little distressed and promptly turned to the yellow pages to find someone who could help me. The lovely ladies at Knitting World turned out to be my saviours and all I needed to do was change the needle. Who knew all that could be caused by a blunt needle? Here I was thinking I'd need to take my machine in and not be able to use it for weeks and then get a huge bill at the end!

I still have a lot of fabric which will be put to good use at a later date - right now i'm going to start my next little project, a 1940's inspired halter neck with some of the fabric I thrifted on the weekend :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bits and Pieces...

I seem to not have done an outfit post in a long time – sorry about that!! I’ll get round to it I promise.

But on a slightly different note I had a wonderful weekend – how about you? It was beautiful and sunny all weekend to boot! Friday of course kicked off with the staff Christmas party where everyone probably had one glass too many (including myself).

On Saturday I awoke to more beautiful sun and the box that carried Madeline. I planted my little seedlings and then went off to find men’s ties for a little project I’m currently working on (more on that later).

I hadn’t been into Save mart for about 2 years but I had a tip off that they had a big selection of men’s ties there, so in I went and felt immediately over whelmed. It’s a huge two story warehouse filled to the brim with second hand clothing, if you didn’t go there with a find in mind then you could be stuck in the depths forever just browsing. I promptly went over to the small brick-a-brack section where I could prepare myself for the onslaught and found two big bins filled with cheap and amazing fabric and continued to quickly clean them out. I also found 4 ties after searching through the piles and piles of god-awful men’s ties that are for some reason in existence.

For some reason the fabric photo dosn't want to load - i'll add it asap!!

That night I started on fixing up that little mini dress and will have the results shortly!! Sunday made for a fine volunteers party that we hold at the end of the year to thank all the lovely volunteers that help us throughout the year with our events and that brings me to Monday. Today for the first time I’m wearing short sleeves and had a beautiful walk to work through the town belt with the birds singing. Yay for summertime…

Have a great day,

Xx Jen

Ps) For those NZ readers we have Helen Clark on campus today, so that should be exciting - we had Winston Peters the other week as well!! For those who don’t know who Helen Clark is, she is NZ’s current Prime Minister – we have an election coming up in November so the politicians are making the rounds.