Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall For Cotton : My Finished Project!

I know this is a really odd time for me to write a blog post, but I needed to get this project up to be eligible for the Fall For Cotton Sew-along.

Those of you that follow my Facebook page will have seen several sneak peaks over the last few days as I worked on, and finished the dress.  The last time I posted I had pinned the decorative pieces on the bodice and had started hand sewing them on.  At about that point I also decided that I would really rather pleat the skirt than gather it.

This is really for one reason only.  Basically I always get super stressed sewing a gathered skirt into anything because bits always get caught up in stitching and it takes me several goes to get it right.  And with the extra layers of fabric in the bodice and all the piping on the decorative pieces and at the waist line, I figured I had enough to worry about!  I thought that a pleated skirt would be easier to attach (and it was) and look better (which I think it does).

After I cut off the extra length from the skirt panels, I used one of them to make a pleat 'pattern' to use as a guide when I pleated the skirt panels.  After I worked out my pattern I attached the test peice to the bodice.

I was really happy with the way it looked, so went ahead and put the skirt pieces together and pleated them.  Oh, and I forgot to take any photos, but the skirt has POCKETS!!!!

But enough (boring) construction details - I know you want to see the end result!!!

Today I wore my gorgeous dress out to breakfast, and stopped at Bimbadgen Estate on the way home to take some photos.  I live just down the road from this lovely place and I can't believe this is the first time I have used it as a photo shoot location!

Just as a reminder, here is the vintage dress that inspired this project:

And here is my version, made out of vintage cotton dating from the 1950s:

What can I say - I love this dress!  Everything about it seems perfect for me!  And while it was a total labour of love, I think I could be persuaded to labour over another one!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall for Cotton : The Odds Are Stacked Against Me...

Those of you who follow my Facebook page will know that I haven't been very well.  Last week I was hit by the flu, which then morphed into bronchitis.  It hit me so hard that I did absolutely no sewing last weekend.  In fact, I was in bed for four days straight.

I know that the Fall for Cotton deadline is fast approaching, and with that in mind, yesterday afternoon I was feeling well enough to go to work on my dress.  I wasn't moving at any where near my usual pace, but it was nice to actually be doing something.

Stella has been a fantastic nurse while I've been sick.  She has never been too far away.  And while I was sewing she took a nap in the fabric I've reserved for the skirt.

Miss Stella needs a hair cut... I'll add that to the list of things I need to do...

After I finished cutting out the pieces I attached the piping to the decorative pieces.  First I pinned it:

Then I sewed a line of stitching basically over the line of the stitching on the piping:

Then I clipped the curves so it would lay flat:

I repeated these steps for all the pieces and then layed them out so I could feel clever:

I was still feeling ok so I sewed the bodice of the dress together and pinned the decorative piped pieces to the bodice.  Then I stood back and felt really clever!

So its not perfect (for instance the top piping line on the back isn't on straight) but its a start.  And it didn't take too long and I didn't have to put in much effort.  I've made a start hand sewing on the decorative bits, but I haven't gotten really far with that.  My aim is to rest a lot and to have the hand sewing done by the weekend so I can hopefully finish the dress on Saturday.  If I don't manage to finish it this weekend, I won't make it into the Fall For Cotton Sew-along.  So everyone cross your fingers for me, ok?

Due to the fact that I have barely sewn a stitch recently, this is my only blog post this week.  I'll be back next week with (fingers crossed) this finished dress!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall for Cotton : Making Cotton Piping

Last night I had a bit of spare time so I thought I would put it to good use by making the piping I need to make my Fall for Cotton dress this coming weekend.  To be honest, I thought making this stuff would be a total pain.  I'd never even made my own bias tape before, so having to make that and then turn it into piping... it was sounding difficult.

How wrong I was!

I started out by measuring how wide I'd need my bias strips.  I wanted the cord to be encased and leave a 5/8" seam allowance like my pattern has.

My piping cord is a little over 1/8" so I decided to allow 3/8" to go around the piping and then 5/8" on each side of that for the seam allowance.  Watch out - I'm doing maths!  5 + 3 + 5 = 13/8", which is 1 5/8"!!

Next step was to draw lines all over my fabric.  I lay my fabric over my sewing table and drew lines at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge edges, with gaps in between of 1 5/8"

Now this is where one of those cutting wheels and mats would be beneficial... but I don't have one, so cut out about 12 strips with my scissors.  To be honest I didn't think about how many I would need - it turns out I only needed four strips to make more than 4 metres of piping... I will clearly need to do something with blue piping all over it in the future!

Next I sewed the strips together.  First I put the strips at right angles to each other:

And then I stitched diagonally across the end from the corner of the top strip to the corner of the bottom strip.  I trimmed the seam allowance to about 1/8" or there abouts:

Next step was to iron the seam open:

I did this three times until I had enough strips sewn together to cover my cord.  A tip when sewing the pieces together is to keep making sure which side is the right side.  You don't want seam allowances on both sides of your bias strip!!!  Of course, if you have a fabric that has an obvious right and wrong side this won't be a problem...

So at this point I had a very long bias strip.  I took my cotton cord and folded the bias strip around it so the edges of the bias strip met and the cord was right up against the fold.  I pinned it all together.

(Somehow I didn't get a photo of that step... sorry!)

Then I sewed it up.  I put the zipper foot on my machine and tested where the needle would pass through the fabric when the machine was running.  It was right where I needed it to be!  Hooray!!  If it hadn't been, I had the option of moving the needle to the left.

I ran the whole 4 metres through the machine and TA-DAAAH - I had piping cord with 5/8" seam!!!!

Now I did all of that it a little under an hour.  That includes stuffing about and taking photos etc.  If I had applied myself and only cut out the number of bias strips I needed, I could have done it in half an hour I think!  And its so simple - don't you agree?

I hope you find this usefull!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall for Cotton: I finally made a start!

I can't believe the month is half over and I started planning this back in August!  Where has the time gone???

Anyway, just to refresh, this is what I'm making:

I'm recreating the vintage dress I saw at the Rose Seidler House fair with this amazing border print cotton that I purchased at the same fair

For the bodice I decided to use a blouse pattern that I've made a few times before (that I've done a FBA on) that fits really well - this one:

I'm just going to change the shoulders so it mimicks the inspiration dress

So I got out some fabric scraps and roughly made up the blouse.  Then I attacked it with a texta to get the right shapes for the waistline decoration:

I know the photo isn't the best, but you get the idea

And I had to make up what happens on the back, because to be honest, I don't remember what the back of the inspiration dress looks like...

I went for the bands continuing around the back

Then I cut up the stripes so I could make pattern pattern pieces from them - pretty straighforward huh!

Have any keen eyed people spotted the rather large error I made? 

I didn't either, until about 2am Sunday morning when I woke up thinking two things - a) gee my throat is sore; and b) bugger!  I got that wrong yesterday!

Yes, I sewed up the left side and left the right side open.  Derr.  I should have sewed up the right side and left the left side open cause vintage dresses zip up on the left!!!!!

Its ok though, I can just fix the pattern pieces, I don't have to do the same thing over again thank goodness!  And I would have already taken care of it if I hadn't come down with the flu (after not being sick once all winter!)

Last weekend I also went and purchased the bits I will need to make the piping to decorate these pieces.  It was slightly more complicated than I thought.  A tutorial I read here used premade bias tape as a short cut.  "Brilliant" I thought, cause you guys know how much I love a good short cut!  BUT all the bias tape that Spotlight stocks is poly-cotton. Sigh!  Can't use that in the Fall for Cotton Sewalong now can I!!!

So instead I purchased some quilting fabric in a lovely shade of dark royal blue, and some cotton piping cord.  I will be making my own bias tape and then wrapping it around the cord to make my own piping.  I'll use some more of my home made bias tape to make a tube to form the bow.

I'm aiming to do that this week so that when the weekend comes I'm ready to tackle the dress.  I'd LOVE to get it done this coming weekend.

So in closing, has anyone else had a 'derr' moment like I did?  Tell me your horror stories and make me feel better!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

And the WINNER is....

Just to recap - for my second blog birthday I decided to giveaway a custom hand-made dress made just like this one, but in fabric chosen by the winner.

Well yesterday afternoon, Stella drew the winner.  I got out the bucket that has a miniature schnauzer on it and filled it with 56 numbered ping pong balls.

And it was a beautiful afternoon so we thought we'd hold the draw in the back yard.  I threw all the balls out of the bucket onto the grass.

Stella got all excited, ran around for a bit, and then picked up a ball and took off with it!

love a good blurry action shot!

I had to chase her around to get her to give it to me, and even then she really wanted me to give it back!  But she sat patiently while I took this photo.

"So who is number 20 on the list" I hear you all scream...well, the winner is...


Congratulations Ina!  Please send me an email to sewretrorose (at) so we can talk fabric choices and measurements and the like.

Thank you everyone else for entering.  I'm sorry I couldn't make a dress for each of you...


PS.  One last photo of Stella... and me!

I had my hair dyed yesterday (the colour is De Lorenzo Ruby Red for those that are interested) and that is why its not done in any way at all - I love it when my hair dresser blow-drys my hair!!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Summer Dress - Third Time PERFECT!

So this is the third dress I've made from this pattern (the same one I'm using for the giveaway) and I really feel like this third version is perfect!  And this time because I wasn't sewing to some ridiculous deadline, I was able to take my time with the finishing, which is why I think I'm extra happy with it!

I put my thinking cap on and came up with a great way to line the bodice.  It stops light coloured fabrics from being sheer AND covers up all the seams so everything looks neat!

Yes, I move my headless helper in front of the television when I need to hand sew or hand baste if I can - stops the boredom setting in...

And I also did french seams on the skirt, all except the last seam where the zip is - its pinked.  I'm not ashamed of pinking seams anymore!  The arm holes are finished off with bias tape (as the pattern instructs) and on this version I also finished the hem this way as well - I really like the contrast!

And here is the finished product!

Now this dress is finished exactly the way the winner of the giveaway's dress will be finished!  Cotton fabric, lined bodice, french seamed skirt and bias taped hem and arm holes.  I can't wait to see who Stella picks as the winner!!!

Entries in the giveaway (which you can enter here if you haven't already) close tonight, and I will be announcing the winner on Thursday (Australian time) so keep your eyes peeled!

(Yes, I did say I was going to announce it on Wednesday, but I've realised that that won't work for me this week, so you'll have to wait another day)

As much as I love this pattern I'm really looking forward to doing something different - so this weekend I start on my Rose Seidler dress for the Fall for Cotton Sew-along!  Hooray!!!

Is it too early to start looking forward to the weekend???


Friday, September 6, 2013

The Hydrangea Dress

You may have seen me post a sneak peak of what I was sewing last weekend... I haven't mentioned anything about it since, but I was hard at work on it to get it done for the Ladies Day I attended yesterday at Wyong Race Course.  This is an event that my parents-in-law attend every year, and this year Mum and I went along too.

And of course, for a spring racing carnival, I had to have a very spring-y dress.  What could be better than hydrangeas!

First up - I need to showcase the amazing fascinator that I purchased from CulpBaubles on Etsy.  I would add a link here, but there is unfortunately nothing in the shop for you to buy! (***See update at bottom of post***)  Anyway, here it is:

I also want to thank my hair for co-operating.  There is only three bobby pins and a little bit of hairspray holding this together believe it or not!

I used the same pattern as the dress I made for the Rose Seidler House Fifties Fair (and the same pattern I'm using in my birthday giveaway!)  Its just such a wonderful pattern and I LOVE the collar!!!  The fabric was from the home furnishings section of Spotlight.  I had to have some as soon as I saw it, and thank goodness there was a 30% off sale, because it wasn't cheap!  I also added some lilac ribbon trim for good measure.

Unfortunately, they didn't have any hydrangeas in their gardens...

I just wanted to say something about these shoes - I bought them online from Styletread, and they arrived really quickly and were really comfy.  They are all leather and were originally $190, but I got them for $40 - BARGAIN!!!

Totally painted my nails to match...

Throughout the day I drank champagne:

And watched the horses run past from a lovely spot in the grandstand, out of the sun and in the breeze (it got quite warm considering its only the first week of spring!!!)

I did place a few bets but none of them came through.... but it didn't really matter, it was just a lovely day out!

While I was making this dress I was also making another one (I tell you, favourite pattern at the moment!) that will serve as a demo of the dress you could win in fabric of your choice, so I hope you've entered the giveaway!!!!  I'll finish it this weekend and you'll see it on Monday.  I'm also going to work on a muslin for my contribution to the Fall for Cotton sew-along.  Another busy weekend ahead of me!

Enjoy your weekend!!


UPDATE!!!  Jennifer from CulpBaubles just contacted me to say oops - she didn't realise the listings in her shop had expired!  Check out her gorgeous fascinators here! I think this one is my favourite!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Oops! I missed my Birthday!!!

Sew Retro Rose is 2!!!!

Actually, my blog turned 2 back on the 2nd of August and I TOTALLY forgot about it... it dawned on me when I was driving home from work last Friday - oops!!!  And it got me thinking about my blog and its origins.  I didn't start this with any other aim than to make sewing a less lonely past-time.  The fact that people actually read my ramblings and are inspired by what I do just blows me away.  So to celebrate my second blogiversary, and to reward my loyal bloggy-friends, I'm having a giveaway.

Who wants a dress made out of this pattern?

Not the bolero, just the dress

Yep, the pattern I used to make this dress:

And I'm also underway making two more versions for myself... but more on them later!

And just to make it clear, the dress I am offering here for this giveaway will be custom made to your measurements in a cotton fabric using this pattern, and won't have the ribbon trim. I have no fabric in mind for this, and will purchase the fabric after discussions with the winner.  The giveaway is open to everyone, but I will ask that you pay for postage once the dress is finished.

So basically, you could own a custom made dress and all you need to pay is the price of postage from Australia to you.  Pretty fair deal!!!

Right about now you're probably wondering how you can enter.  I'm not going to do anything complicated, cause I just can't be bothered!  All you need to do is comment on this post!!!  If you want to say something lovely about me that would be really nice, but Stella will be picking the winner, and she very fair when it comes to these things...

Oh, and one entry per person.

The giveaway will be open for 7 days and the winner will be announced next Wednesday (Australian time - so thats Tuesday for all you people on the other side of the world).


PS.  You know how I love to reply to all your comments... well I'm going to refrain from doing that this time UNLESS you ask me a specific question about the giveaway or the dress.  Hope thats okay with everyone!

UPDATE: The Giveaway is now closed - thank you for your entries!!!  Winner will be announced on Thursday the 12th of September (Australian time).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall for Cotton: Thank you!!

Honestly, what would I do without you guys!  All your comments and suggestions really helped me think through the process of what I should sew for this sew-along.

And whilst there was plenty of good advice about killing two birds with one stone etc, I'm going to go with the project that got the most votes:

Yes, I will now be using the blue vintage roses border print fabric that I found at Rose Seidler House Fifties Fair to make my version of a gorgeous dress that was for sale at the same fair but was sadly too small.

But we all know how fast I seem to get through these projects, so when I finish what will now be called the Rose Seidler dress, I will start on the project that came in second - this one:

And if I manage to fly through that one as well (you just never know with me), I will make this one:

Actually, I will probably make this one next even if I miss the deadline to enter it into the sew-along...  So never fear, even if you voted for the Cherries and Red Gingham, you'll still see it made.

Once again, thank you so much for your help and your thoughtful comments!  I really appreciate your input!!