Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Tropical Wrap Dress : Here it is!!!!

So for the benefit of those of you that don't follow my Facebook page, I got the bolero all sewn up on Saturday in time to wear to the party on Saturday night (so much hand sewing!!!).  HOWEVER, we had monsoon like conditions on the weekend with howling winds and lashing rain, and while it wasn't cold, it just wasn't the right weather to be wearing this ensemble.

Sad face.

Luckily, the sun has come out since so I was able to get all dolled up and take these photos to show you the end result.  I am so pleased with how it came out, words can't even begin to describe it!

TA DA!!!
Excuse my slightly squinty face... 

I made the bolero by adjusting a pattern I already had - all I needed to do was redraft the front pieces, which was pretty easy, then add a mandarin collar.  I probably could have done a better job on that bit, because I have never done a collar like this before.  I just did a straight piece, but I think it could sit better if it had a slight curve in it.  Never mind!

The detail you probably can't see from this photo is the brooch I used as a clasp.  The pattern envelope doesn't show how they intended to fasten the bolero - no buttons or frogs or hooks and eyes.  I toyed with the idea of adding a frog, but couldnt find one ANYWHERE.  Then I came across this brooch and I knew it was perfect:

Its a vintage brooch with rhinestones and enamel, and while its probably seen better days I couldn't resist it!

Here is the back.  I really like the way that the green bobble trim on the edge of the bolero defines where the bolero ends and the dress starts.  I was originally thinking I would wear the bolero green side out, but it was just a bit too green for me... its still possible though, and I might wear it that way at times...

I just love the way that the rayon feels on - it drapes beautifully!

The whole ensemble is so comfortable to wear and I feel so glamorous in it.  I need someone to throw an outdoor party - possibly in a tropical location - and invite me quick!!!

I also had this gorgeous hair accessory made by the fabulous Mira Mae at Berry Bombshell.  Mira Mae has been making hair clips for a while and has FINALLY decided to open a dedicated Facebook page on which to sell them.  You should really go and like her page here and have a look at her gorgeous hair pieces.  The hibiscus flowers she used match the ones on the fabric PERFECTLY!

Sadly though, when I got home I realised I had forgotten to put on these gorgeous vintage earrings that I had purchased especially:

Aren't they just so precious!  They are made of porcelain, and I'm going to try really hard to remember to wear them next time!

So what do you all think?  Was it worth the 5 weeks work?  Was there anything I should have done differently?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

I think I just died of excitement!!

VERY quick post people!  Butterick's New Early Summer Pattern Collection


Click here to see more

Click here to see more

These are NEW PATTERNS FROM GERTIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And they are on sale right now.

And then, just when I thought things couldnt get more exciting - there was this one:

Click here to see more

The fabric is rubbish - but this skirt is JUST WHAT I NEEDED TO DRAFT MY TROPICAL RAYON PRINT DRESS!!!!!  Where was this a month ago???

Sorry for all the shouting, but I'm just so excited.  I hope you guys are too!!!!!!

Going to buy all three of these patterns RIGHT NOW!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge : So you're thinking about joining in...

After my post about the dress I picked to reproduce last week, I thought it might be fun to look at the three main female characters in the Mad Men series and suggest some patterns that could be used to make Mad Men inspired dresses!  It wasn't all my idea though - you can thank Rosalind Elizabeth.

I think we should start with poor old Peggy.

Peggy seems such a dowdy innocent lacking confidence!  I understand that she ends up working as a copy writer and pushing the role of women in the industry, but I just can't get over her lack of style!  She isn't for me, but I think that some of the outfits she wears are very typical of the day to day outfits of a 1950s working woman.

How about these patterns:

This pattern can be found here.

I think view two is very 'Peggy'.  Its got that whole buttoned up innocent thing going.  I even think the colours used on the pattern envelope are very Peggy!

And whats better is that this pattern is for a skirt and blouse so you can use what you make as separates after the challenge!

This pattern can be found here.

How cutesy is this jumper and blouse!  Still very buttoned up and very 'Peggy'

Ha!  I just noticed that both these pattern envelopes use that mustardy colour that Peggy is wearing in the picture above!  Coincidence....I think not.  Maybe the Peggy-people out there need to use the colour mustard!

Then there is Betty.

Ex-model Betty is the archetypal 1950s housewife who dutifully gave up her career to be a mother and a housewife.  And while she has a glamorous side (VERY glamorous side) she is often wearing the housewife staple, the shirtwaister.

What about these patterns:

You can find this pattern here.

This would have to be your typical shirtwaister, wouldn't it, but I love the way version 2 has the buttons hidden behind a placket.  Imagine this made in a gorgeous floral border print cotton (If you can find any!  That stuff is rare!)

You can find this pattern here.

This dress is a little more glamorous than the other one, and I think the only reason why is because its not a shirtwaister...   This would be a Betty Out To Lunch dress I think!

Then there is Joan.

Yep, thats my dress in the middle!

Joan.  What a cow!  A beautiful one, with fabulous taste in clothes - but if she was the manager in my office I'd quit!

Actually, I'm the manager in my office... maybe I'm more Joan than I'd like to admit!


I think the reason we all secretly long to be Joan is that she has an ahhhmazing figure, and dresses it so magnificently in form fitting dresses and separates.  Not to mention the magnificently constructed undergarments that must be going on under there....  Who doesn't love shapewear and lingerie!

How about these patterns:

This pattern can be found here.

This is just a very basic wiggle dress, but because its basic you can do any number of additions to it to make it more Joan.  Really, it just needs to fit very well and be tight!

 You can find this pattern here.

Ignore the whole overskirt thing - Joan would never do that!  How much does this dress look like the pink one above.  You'd just need to change the sleeves to be looser and more fluttery and you'd be there!

So what do you think of these suggestions?  Have I convinced anyone else to join in?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge : I'm In!

I need another project like a need a hole in the head, but this one was irresistable!!!

This challenge is run over at Julia Bobbin (you can check out the post here) and the idea is that you find a dress from Mad Men that you love and you create your own version.  Luckily I have until the 19th of April to get this done!

Now I haven't watched a lot of the Mad Men seasons (hubby's not a fan) but from what I have watched it was a toss up between a Joan dress and a Betty dress.  I think my figure lends itself more to Joan's style than Betty's so I google image searched and came up with this one.

What do you think of my choice???

By the way - the Mad Men doll - whats the go there!  That stick figure couldn't look less like Joan if it tried!!!!

But back to the dress.... blue is a good colour on me and I like the details and the little wing collar.  And I've found me some blue pure wool crepe to make it up in because I thought it would be a great dress coming into the colder season here in Australia.  I've also found a similar brooch and a pen necklace!

The one thing I'm really struggling with is finding a similar patterned fabric, so I'm putting the call out there to the universe - does any one have anything similar, or know where I can get something similar.  I don't need very much of it at all - its only for the dickie and the cuffs, so all I'm really looking for is a remnant...

I have my fingers crossed!!!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Tropical Wrap Dress is DONE!!!

After working on this for four weeks (which is a new length of time record for me) I finally got the dress together on the weekend!  I still need to make the bolero, but the dress is done!

There was a bit of a mishap though...  I discovered what happens when you iron over your plastic tape measure...

Yep - it goes all melty and stretches and the printing transfers ONTO YOUR FABRIC!

Sigh!  Luckily its on the lining of the skirt so hopefully no-one will notice....

Anyway!  There was a lot of hand sewing to be done on this dress like the hem for instance:

And sewing on press studs, and other finishing bits that just couldn't be done by machine, so I spent a fair bit of time sitting on my butt in front of the television trying to pretend I was doing something else.  It was all worth it though, because after several hours effort I ended up with this:

I am so happy with it - to me its a really good effort to replicate a pattern without the pattern!  And like I said up the top, I am yet to do the bolero, but I'll have that done this weekend.  And serendipitously, I have been invited to a party the following weekend where the host would like us to wear green accessories - green accessories will go PERFECTLY with this dress!!!

Oh, I just realised I forgot to tell  you about the halter strap!

I put the dress on and put pins where I wanted the halter strap to attach, then I got out the tape measure and measured from one pin around the back of my neck to the other pin.

Then I made a strap that was green one side and parrots the other side, and put a button hole at each end (yes, I cheated and used a machine made buttonhole - I know!)

Then I sewed two lovely buttons on the inside of the bodice.  This way I can wear the dress without the strap if I want, or with the green side out, or the parrot side out!

So what do we all think?  I'm looking forward to getting the other piece of the ensemble finished and putting it all on - I think its going to look amazing (even if I do say so myself!)


Friday, February 8, 2013

Sew Grateful Week : And the Winner Is.....

This morning I had the very fun and nerve-wracking task of drawing the winner for my giveaway.  Don't ask me why I was nervous (I have no idea!) but I woke up several times last night thinking about it...

First task was to choose a hat to draw a name out of...  I thought this pink confection would be perfect!

Then I typed everyones names out (multiple times in most cases), cut all the entries out, folded them in thirds and put them in the hat.

This took much longer than I expected, cause there was about 130 entries!!!!  WAAAAAAY more than I anticipated when I started!!

Then I looked around for an impartial observer.

Stella looks a bit feral this morning - we went for a long walk and there was a heavy dew, so she came back saturated.

I stuck my hand in and swirled it around as Stella looked on.

Excuse the slightly blurry photo - its hard to swirl entries in a hat, making sure Stella doesn't 'help' and run off with some entries, and take a photo all at the same time!!!

Then I drew out a name...  AND THE WINNER IS....


Shannon, can you please send me an email to beccieblossom(at) and we'll get this show on the road!

I really wish I could have given away a skirt to everyone that entered... thank you so much for your support, its been overwhelming.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sew Grateful Week : A Grateful Project

Ok, so the idea for today's post was to talk about a project I've done with gifted fabric or a gifted pattern, or with something from a giveaway I've won...  I don't have any gifted things, and I haven't won a giveaway, so I thought I would just do my next post on my Tropical Wrap Dress!!!  I'm sure you'll all be grateful to hear what went on with it over the weekend!

First things first, I inserterted the shirred back piece in between the two layers of the front bodice pieces (the tropical fabric piece and the lining piece).  And in doing so I forgot to add the other half of the tie that ties the dress together.  Sigh!  So I unpicked a bit and sewed in the tie.

I really think shirring this piece was a good idea.

Here is the tie.  One side of the tie is the tropical fabric and one side is green

That was one half finished.  On with sewing the skirt!

I don't think I've complained about rayon yet, so I'm going to do it now - its a shifty bugger!!!  You think you've got it all pinned together right and then you cough and the bloody thing has moved!!!  It is a lovely fabric though, I love the feel and I love the drape, I'm just not 100% in love with sewing with it yet.  It probably doesn't help that I'm making a lot of this up as I go along.  Rayon lovers out there - any suggestions for me?  (I'm looking at you Esz!)

So the skirt consists of a front left piece, and back piece, and a front right piece.  The front right piece is the pretty bit with the tucks and the draping.  The other two bits are basically a pencil skirt thats not sewn together on one side.  I made up the front left and the back pieces and sewed them together and hemmed them (although I just pinned it, cause I'm not convinced its straight yet).

You see, that hem looks crooked... but it could be that my headless helper is on a lean... I'm undecided.

Then I tackled the pretty front piece, which actually consists of three layers of fabric.  The tropical fabric, then cream that the rest of the dress is lined in, then the green which is the lining for this piece.

I sewed more bobble trim on, and then sewed the layers together, just like I did for the bodice.  Then I pinned it to my headless helper and played with the pleats on the right hand side.  Then I pinned the bodice on the top so I (and you too) could get an idea of what the finished dress will look like

This photo reminds me that I really need to finish the little red wool and polkadot satin bolero thats hanging forlornly on that hanger.... so sad!

I still think I need to have a bit more of a fiddle with the waist pleats on the skirt front but you get the idea.  Not that you can see it from this view, but I really like the way the green shows up on the draped bit on the side of the skirt.

I feel like I didn't actually do much with it on the weekend.  My sewing time was reduced a bit, but so much thinking is going in to the process at the moment that its really slowing me down!  There isn't that much left to do really, so this weekend I hope to have the dress finished and the bolero started.

Then it will be on to sewing the giveaway skirt - one of you is going to be soooo lucky!!!!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sew Grateful Week : I love you guys!

This is the post where I get to talk about how grateful I am for the sewing blogging community.  And while I am, what I'm really grateful for goes deeper than that.

I am grateful for the journey that has led me to this point - finding my vintage style, starting this blog, and meeting all of you guys - I love you guys!

Back a couple of years ago I was just your average person.  I took care of myself and liked to get dressed up, but found it really difficult to find things in mainstream fashion that worked on my body shape.  But as you do, you continue trying things because you don't think there is another option.

Enter a shopping expedition with my best girl Miss V - we were out shopping for outfits to wear to Melbourne Cup Day, and drove past a shop with a big chalk sign out the front advertising 'MAD MEN DRESSES'.  We were curious and the shop looked interesting so we stopped.  I walked out of that shop with a black Stop Staring dress that fit me so well it was scary.

This is me and my very handsom brother MattI love this dress and I still wear it.

Then a family holiday with Miss V to Byron Bay - a coastal hippie-la-la town in northern New South Wales, Australia.  Whilst doing some shopping without the kids and the men, she and I stumbled upon a shop called That Shop - a kustom kulture shop that stocked Pinup Girl Clothing and other brands.  Once again I purchased an amazing dress...

Ok, so not the best photo, but you can see that I'm getting much more into the whole thing!

I realised there was a pattern emerging... and this was pretty much when I absented myself from current fashion and went back 60 years to the 1950s.

I had fun with photo shoots and classes learning how to do my hair and things, and buying a new wardrobe.... Which lead me to sewing.

You see, it was coming in to winter and I saw this exceptionally glamorous woman wearing what I now know to be a princess seamed coat over her vintage dress... and of course I wanted one!  But could I find one anywhere that would fit, that was the colour I liked, and wasn't $5,000,000... No.  Sigh!

Not being one to be frightened of throwing myself in the deep end, I said to myself "I'll make one!".  I bought a pattern and some fabric, and the rest is history!

This is me in the Best Dressed competition at Rose Seidler House fair in 2011.  The following year I was modelling in the fashion parades!

Sewing led me to blogging.  I started my blog because sewing is a lonely occupation and I wanted to be able to share with someone ANYONE! what I was doing.  I'll admit that my first few posts were rubbish - it takes a while to find your voice I think.  But I've found it now, and I've found other bloggers who inspire me, and I've found you guys who appreciate what I do.

In all this, I have found myself, I have found my confidence, and I have found my voice.  And I wouldn't change anything for all the tea in China!

I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse into my life.  Just know that I am sew grateful to you out there for taking an interest.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Sew Grateful Week : Its GIVEAWAY TIME!!!


Well Sew Grateful week is here, and my first post for the week is....


Now I've never done a giveaway before, so I asked on my Facebook page what I should giveaway - should it be a pattern or two, or some fabric... I had no idea.

This is one of the response I got from a lovely follower called Dahra:

"Use your talent.  'Sew Retro'.
A lot of people give away fabric and patterns and things... But how many people give away a one off piece sewn just for them?  Doesn't have to be time consuming or a lot of work.  But making something just for the winner... Then they'll feel extremely lucky and special"

So that's what I'm doing.

Yes you heard correctly - I'm going to sew an item of clothing for the winner!  Specifically, this:

And don't worry, I will adjust the pattern to fit whatever size you are.

Now I have purchased this pattern specifically for this giveaway, and its on its way to me now from the good ol' US of A.  Its a wrap skirt with a giant bow sash and I think its GORGEOUS!!!!

Now, the winner gets to pick the fabric I use.  You can choose this one:

This is a quilting cotton so it is lovely and soft.  The skirt will be made from the cherry fabric (who doesn't love cherries!) and the sash from the red fabric.
or this one:

This is a cotton twill so its a heavier fabric, but still very suitable for a skirt, and more than that IT HAS SHOES ON IT!!!!  The shoe fabric will be the skirt, and the sash will be in pink.

I love them both so will make the skirt for myself in the other fabric.

There is one condition though - I would really REALLY love it if the winner could send me a couple of photos of them wearing the skirt so I can post them on my blog and share them with everyone else that didn't win.  You get an opportunity to make everyone jealous!!!

So I can hear you all yelling HOW DO I ENTER, STOP GOING ON AND JUST TELL ME!!!!!

Well this is what you need to do to get your name in the hat:
  • Follow my blog to get one entry
  • Like my Facebook page to get another entry
  • Share the post on my Facebook page announcing the giveaway to get yet another entry
  • Follow me on Instagram (sewretrorose) and like the photo of the giveaway for a possible FOURTH entry!!!  (thanks to Dahra for reminding me!!)
You don't have to do all four, but if you do you'll get four entries.  Or if you do two things you'll get two entries, three things for three entries.  Make sense?  Here is an example:

If you already follow my blog you already have one entry, so you then go onto Facebook and like my page, you have two entries, then you share my link, you have three entries!

Come back here and comment to tell me what you've done and I'll note it down - Easy!  I will announce the winner on Friday Australia time (so that's Thursday for some of you), so make sure you check back here.

Good luck everyone!!!