Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sew Retro Rose on HOLIDAYS!

Hi everyone!!!

So from right now I'm on a much anticipated holiday to the US.  I have been planning and saving and getting excited about this trip for months now!  First stop is New York...

I'm spending my first 5 days in New York on my own, meeting up with a couple of people that I have met online (one of them being Daffny from A Vintage Nerd!) and doing things like seeing my favourite musical on Broadway!

Then the girls who are on the Vintage Shopping Tour with me arrive, and I will spend 10 days touring and shopping in New York and Massachusetts with them.  Thank fully I'm taking an empty suitcase with me..... cause I think I'll need one!

On my final day in New York I am meeting up with Peter from Male Pattern Boldness.  Peter would have to be my favourite sewing blogger, and I am SO EXCITED to get to meet him and go shopping in the garment district with him!!!!  FABRIC SHOPPING!!!!!

Then I fly to Portland, Oregon...

Now, if I was excited about the rest of the trip, I am ECSTATIC about this part!

I will be spending 5 days with Julie from FabGabs Vintage (hands down my favourite online vintage store - I swear, half my wardrobe is from Julie!), and meeting up with Sara from Lilies and Remains (oh my god I love this girl's style!) and Jesse from Brighter Bakelite (bakelite...need I say more?).  I have heard so much about Portland, and I'm really excited to explore it with locals in the vintage scene.

I may need this to bring my luggage home...

You think I'm joking, don't you...

If anyone sees me and recognises me PLEASE come and say hi!  I would love to meet any and all of you!!

I will be back home on the 11th of September, and I will be doing a few posts to catch you up on my adventures in the following couple of weeks.  I'm pretty sure you are all going to want to see what I got up to!  But if you can't wait that long, I will be posting on my Sew Retro Rose Facebook page, and on my personal Instagram page (my username is @beccieleathley) while I'm on holidays, so please come and follow me!

See you all soon!!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Black Suit Makes A Gothic Entrance

When I last posted about the black suit, I had finished the jacket but not the skirt.  I hadn't even decided what type of skirt to make!  After reading your comments and having a think about it, I decided to make the fullest skirt I could make, for a New Look silhouette.

The skirt only took a day to put together, so I whipped it up after I made the drawstring bags.  Then when I saw the suit finished, I knew it needed a special location for a photo shoot!

With the suit being black, and the over-the-top hat, all I could think of was how gothic and victorian it looked... which led me here...

To the oldest cemetery in my local area.  Its located in the pretty little village of Wollombi, and has memorials dating from the mid 1840s.

One of them (the one I'm standing with in the above photo, actually) is a memorial to one of my ancestors believe it or not!  It was erected by the towns people to remember J.W Du Moulin who was the local doctor and was obviously much loved.  The inscription reads:

"Erected over the remains of J.W Du Moulin, Surgeon.  By the people of Wollombi who are anxious to perpetuate the memory of a man whose many sterling qualities have ever linked his name with their kindest and most enduring recollections.  Died June 5th 1854.  Aged 45 years."

Isn't that beautiful!

But anyway, back to the suit.

And my new fur arrived just in time to participate - meet Snidely!

Mum and I had a lovely time wandering around and reading headstones.  Its something that we've done together since I was little, but haven't done for a while.  There is just something about cemeteries that I really love... so much history.

And thanks must go to Mum (Sandie) for the photography.  She did a great job!  Even if she was terrified the whole time of taking terrible photos!

This suit is comfortable and stylish and WARM!  I can't wait to wear it again (mind you, probably not with the hat - the hat is a bit much for every day wear!)

So, do you love it???


Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Special Side Project

So I can't remember if I've told you all about my upcoming holiday!  I know that I've mentioned it when I made all those skirts and blouses, but I'm not sure if I've gone into detail...

On the 23rd of this month I've off to New York!  I'll be spending the first 5 days on my own, then the Vintage Shopping Tour arrives.  This tour is run by the same lady that I went to LA with last year, and a lot of those girls are on this trip too!  So its 8 days of girlie fun and shopping, and then I fly to Portland for five days to meet some internet friends for the first time and do some more shopping and adventuring.

Its going to be the most amazing holiday!

On my first few days in New York I'm meeting up with a couple of other internet friends, one of whom is Daffny from A Vintage Nerd!  We've been talking online for about three years now, so it will be lovely to meet her in person.

Here she is with her three kids on Mother's Day!
That's Rosa on the left, and Micha and Bastian on the right
and her husband Andreas is behind the lens.

Honestly, aren't they adorable!  On my first day in New York, Daffny is bringing her entire family to meet me for a breakfast picnic in Central Park, and a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art!  Doesn't that sound divine!!!

I have decided to bring gifts for the kids all the way from Australia.  I know Daffny has been talking a lot about my visit, so the littlies know how far I'm coming to meet them, and who wouldn't love a gift from the other side of the world! 

To carry the gifts I decided to make awesome draw string bags that the kids can use for whatever they want!  I googled a tutorial and found this one that sounded simple.

I went and purchased some fabulous fabric with Australian animals on it (in a blue colour way and a yellow colour way), some grosgrain ribbon, and some iron on letters that spelt their names.  I cut the fabric to 20" squares and went at it.

First job was to make name plates and attach them to one piece of each bag.  I measured how long each string of letters was and did some calculations about how big the rectangles would need to be.  I planned to iron a hem, and use my webbing glue to attach the rectangle to the bag piece, and sew around the edge.

I ironed the hems on all the rectangles...

...and then I ironed them on to the bag piece 2 1/2 inches from each side.

Then I carefully stitched close to the edge of the rectangle with matching thread.

Then I started the construction of the bags using french seams.  I wanted to give the bags as much longevity as possible.

Then I constructed the case at the top for the drawstring.

Then I did the bit I'd been waiting for the whole time!  Ironing on the letters!!!

With Miss Stella's help (and the help of a big safety pin) I threaded the grosgrain ribbon through the casings.

Goodness she needs a hair cut!!!

And then I was able to fill the bags with the wonderful presents I had purchased for them.  And now I'm even more excited to give them their gifts!!!

I think this might be my first sewing project that isn't a piece of clothing!  And I really enjoyed sewing them, and can't wait to give them to the children!!

Has anyone else made anything similar.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back in Black...

Which is another way of saying that with the skirts and blouses finished, I'm back to the black suit!  As a refresh, this is where I left it... the body was together but work still needed to be done hand stitching hair canvas to facing pieces.

Well somehow in amongst all that other sewing, I got that hand sewing done and was able to continue on with the suit this weekend just gone.  First up I steamed the front facings, and while they were cooling I got on with the sleeves.

I like to make sleeves in finished units before I sew them in, and to do that with these sleeves I also needed to make cuffs.  I wanted to have silk on the cuffs and the collar to break the wool up a bit, so my cuffs were two layers of wool and one layer of silk... and after I made them I realised that they were just too thick.

So I had to make them again... this time with one layer of wool and one layer of silk.  Doing it this way really helped me to get much pointier points!

That's the new ones on the right

I then attached them to the sleeves along with the facing, and I had two finished sleeves!

Note with these sleeves how straight they are.  They are very VERY fitted.

I then put them into the suit and felt a sense of satisfaction that this suit was finally getting somewhere!!!

On to the next job - the lining!  This suit pattern doesn't have any mention of a lining, but for me it had to have one.  It just meant that after cutting out the lining the same as the suit pieces, they then needed to be trimmed down to take into account the large facings.  With that done, I sewed up the darts and put it all together.

You can see that I chose to use a grey polka dot acetate for the lining.  I really do prefer rayon linings to acetate.... acetate is a bit icky.

Then I remembered shoulder pads... so I found my favourite life-changing shoulder pad tutorial (check it out here - I promise it will change your life too) and made some shoulder pads.

After I sewed the shoulder pads to the suit I started to experiment.  I sewed all the facing pieces together, and they formed a full 'border' around the raw edges of the lining (ignoring the sleeves), so I thought instead of hand sewing in the lining (ugh!) how about I sew the lining to the facings...

And then the facings to the suit!!!

Anyone else see the problem here???  Be prepared to laugh - I didn't leave myself any way to turn the jacket through.

Trust me, I laughed a lot at this point.  And kept laughing.  I figured the easiest seam to open was the one in the back facing pieces (at the bottom of the above photo).  So I got out my seam ripper and ripped it open and started pulling the jacket the right way through.

It was like birthing a baby without the pain.  I was trying to pull so much fabric through such a small opening, and I just couldn't stop laughing!

But I got there, it worked!!

Now lets talk about the buttons.

I bought these buttons from my Button Lady (who I discovered has a facebook page) and I just love them.  There was only three of them, and as soon as I saw them I knew I needed them for this suit!  Yes they are a bit 'out-there' but so am I!

I have since done all the hand sewing on the jacket (apart from pinning back the cuffs. I haven't made my mind up about that yet...), so next I will be making the skirt.

I have a fair bit of the wool left over, so I am going to make a full skirt (as full as I can get it) rather than a pencil skirt as per the pattern.  I know what I normally wear, and I will get a lot more wear out of a wool circle skirt than a wool pencil skirt.

So what do you think of my buttons?  And what do you think of wearing this jacket with a full skirt rather than a pencil skirt?


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Finished Outfits + GIVEAWAY WINNER!!!

I'm so sorry that the announcement of the winner was delayed by a day.  I have been sick for the last two days, but I'm better now so lets do this!

There was only one person that guessed the correct combination.  Which has made me feel like a hard task-master.  So to make me feel better I decided to have a second chance draw for everyone else who entered!  Hooray!!

First up, a reminder of the prize (and a photo, since I didn't actually post a photo of it in my earlier post).

The winner will get the border print fabric, zipper and thread to make their own skirt, and the fabric, thread, bias, vintage buttons and a copy of my pattern to make their own blouse.

So the person who put the blouses and skirts together as I intended them was Jacqui!!!  Well done honey, please send me an email at sewretrorose(at) and I'll organise to post you your prize!

Now for the second chance draw.  There were 26 of you who entered, so I got out my numbered ping-pong balls again.

And I think Stella has worked out what it means, because she got quite excited!  We had to do the draw inside, because it was raining outside.  No problem!

I threw the balls on the floor and let Stella make her choice.

The photo is a bit blurry with all the excitement...

And she picked number 15.

And that number belongs to Girliefrank!  Yay honey - this is what you've won!

A vintage pattern (34" bust) and some vintage buttons on their original card!

Please send me an email at sewretrorose(at) and I'll organise to get it in the post to you!

Thank you to everyone who entered!!!  Now I suppose you'd like to see the finished outfits!  I am still working on the skirts, so they have pins in the waistband and the second row of gathers hasn't been removed yet.... but you get the idea!

This blouse refuses to photograph as hot pink.  It is the same colour as the rose on the skirt (that you can't see in this photo)

I'm really happy with the way they came out and I'm going to look so cute and comfortable on holidays!


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Blouses are Finished! + GIVEAWAY!!!

After a marathon effort on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the blouses are all finished!!!!!!!

For a while there I never thought I would be saying that.  Sewing production line style is great for getting lots of the same thing done, but it was really beginning to do my head in.  Just the repetition!  And the last step before sewing the buttons on involved quite a number of smaller steps that took about an hour to complete for each one....

So yes, I love production line sewing - but maybe for smaller quantities than 8 of the same thing....

Anyway!  In celebration of getting my holiday wardrobe finished, I thought we'd have a fun giveaway!  I'm going to post the photos of the skirts and the blouses below, and I'd like you leave a comment on this blog post saying which goes with what.  The skirts will be numbered 1 to 7, and the blouses A to G, so comment and say 1C 2C 3G etc.

I hope that makes sense!  The people that get it right will be going into the draw to win a 'Make-An-Outfit-Like-Mine' Kit - (modern) border print fabric, zipper, and closure to make a skirt, and fabric, pattern (copy of mine), buttons, and matching thread to make a blouse!

I haven't put it all together yet, but here is the border print fabric for the skirt:

Yes, I should have ironed it....

Ok!  So I know you've seen them all before, but here are the skirts.  Note they are numbered in the top left hand corner.

And here are the blouses - also numbered in the top left corner!

Its going to involve a fair bit of scrolling backwards and forwards isn't it... sorry... but it will be worth it if you are picked the winner!!!

This little competition will be open from now until 9pm Sydney time on Thursday the 24th - so that's 4 days to work it out!  The winner will be drawn and announced in a new blog post on Friday that also shows everyone the completed outfits (or the correct answers) on my dress form.

Good luck!!!