Going space age

We were invited to a 50th birthday party recently.  The theme was “dress in what we thought we’d be wearing today back in the 1960’s”   AKA Retro Modernism.   Now, this was a theme I could really get into.    And I had to come up with outfits for both myself and my hubby.    I started out gathering ideas on my Pinterest Dress-up box board.

My outfit started with a $50 silver wetsuit dress which I found at the Red Cross (thrift shop) store.  The old lady at the counter was rather worried about my dress sense, but seemed to relax somewhat when I told her it was for fancy dress.  It was way more than I’d normally spend, but the dress was just so perfect and I had to have it.     I added a silver cage skirt, silver boot covers and a ray gun.

My hubby’s outfit consisted of some upcycled skiing skins, a quilted silver breast plate, $3 belt from the thrift store, a wig and bobbly things for his head.

Sorry about the crap images – light was low and smart phones were the only camera option.   Read on if you want to know how I made them.   Basic sewing knowledge is assumed.

silver dress space man

So, first up we have the cage skirt.    I’ve put a closeup so that you can see how I constructed it.

cage skirt

For cage I used 3/4 wide inch elastic for the waist, 1 inch wide ribbon for the verticals, 1 3/4 inch ribbon for the hoops, 1/2 inch cheap fashion boning, glue gun and silver spray paint.    I found that the cheap boning doesn’t hold it’s shape if the circle gets too big, so I kept my largest hoop to a diameter of 22 inches.

I started with sewing the elastic to fit my waist.   Then folded the wide ribbons in half and sewed along both sides to make channels for the boning.   I then fed the boning into the channels and used a glue gun to secure the ends.  Next step is to attach the vertical ribbons to the elastic and three layers of hoops.  It’s really important to measure the gaps carefully so that the cage won’t end up wonky.    I then sprayed the whole thing silver.   Only problem with the spraying is that it took the pliability away from the ribbon – resulting in the ribbon not relaxing into shape.   Next time, I’d take a bit of extra time to find the right ribbon colour to start with – or perhaps compromise on ribbon colour.   But even with the added stiffness of spray paint, I was still quite pleased with it.

The boots (pictured above) were made with cheap stretchy silver fabric.   To make a rough pattern, I wrapped my boots in cling wrap and then in duct tape.  I then sliced the duct tape off the boots and flattened it onto the fabric

boots 1 boots 2

The resulting pattern was a bit too wide, but it was close enough to work with.  I just kept reducing the width of the boot cover till I got it right.   I used Sticky Dots to secure the top of the fabric to my boots.   They give a good grip, but are removable.

My ray gun was really simple.    It’s just a $6 water pistol from a toy store.    The original gun was grey, pink, orange and green.   I like the grey and the green, but the pink and orange had to go.   I solved the problem by covering colours I liked in masking tape and plastic wrap and spray painting the rest black.  It took a few layers of paint, but worked out pretty well.    The sticker on the back is a bit of clip art which I printed onto sticker paper.   The front end is an egg beater which was inserted and stuck in place with a glue gun.

ray gun

OK, onto hubby’s outfit now.

His breast plate is made from cheap woven silver fabric which is very shiny and frays easily.    It’s constructed using a solid front and two back pieces with a hole cut for the neck.    Each piece is fabric top and bottom with cheap poly batting in the middle.  I used a heap of pins to hold my fabric and batting sandwiches together and then quilted it all down.   I guess the quilting was overkill, but I do love quilting and so quite enjoyed it. I then joined the pieces at the shoulders (with about a 25 degree slope so that it would sit well) and finished the neck hole.   Just for a bit more overkill, I bound the edges with strips of fabric cut on the bias.    The back of the neck should have velcro or a button or something to hold it together – but I got lazy and used double sided tape for the night.

breast plate

You can’t see his pants in the photo, but they are a pair of vintage skiing skins with flared bottoms.   These pants went out of fashion over 15 years ago but he would’t part with them.     Until now.  Bwhaha.     I cut wide strips of bias from the woven silver fabric, sewed them into long cylinders, flattened them with the seam hidden on the back and sewed them onto the hem.   Easy peasy.

space pants


Phew!   I think that’s it.   A lot of sewing for one night out – but it was a great catch up and we had so much fun.


Simplicity 1464

It’s a rainy winter’s day and therefore perfect for a blog update – or two.   I’ve just finished making a skirt from Simplicity 1464 pattern and thought I’d do a review.

This skirt started out because I found a lightweight ruffled skirt at Vinnies (thrift store).   The second hand skirt looked more like a slip than an outer skirt, but I liked the ruffles and colour.   I’ve always had a thing for combining different textures and styles so I decided use the skirt as a lining to the Simplicity box pleat skirt pattern.

The fabric for the box pleat skirt is a poly/wool suiting and was great to work with.   The pattern itself is easy to follow but runs HUGE.   I have an 83cm (32.5 in) waist.  I cut a size 18 (about half a size down from recommended), but I probably should have cut somewhere between 14-16.   I trimmed probably another two inches off the waist to get it down to this size, and it’s still a fraction too big.   I guess this will be my “going out to eat” skirt.   If you’re going to do this pattern, trace the pattern and make a muslin waistband first to figure our your sizing – then continue as normal.  Anyway, once I got the sizing right, the rest was easy.

The jury is out regarding my matching of the ruffles and box pleats.   I like it, but a couple of trusted friends aren’t so sure.    Then again, if I like it, this should be all that matters, right?

ruffled skirt1ruffled skirt

Star Wars PJs

Sewing can certainly save a lot of money.   This cardigan I made was a lot cheaper to hand sew than to buy in the store. But other items can be far more expensive when made ourselves.  So why do we do it?   Because we want a particular fit or style, or in this case, because it’s not available in the stores.

My boy is 18 now.  He wears boy’s size 16 clothes.   He’s been grumbling a bit because I’m always sewing girly things.   Dresses, corsets, and various other bits of women’s clothing.   Truth be told, home sewing is geared far more to making clothing for the female gender.    Long story short, he was feeling left out.

They don’t make Star Wars PJs in his size.  Apparently one is supposed to outgrow Star Wars at age 10, but the love for the Force is still going strong here.   I found some Star Wars flannelette in Spotlight and made him some PJ pants.  The fabric cost an arm and a leg, but it was so cool to make him something he’d love to wear.   And love it he did.   The first thing he did when he put them on was ask for a matching shirt.  Damn.  The pattern didn’t include a shirt so I had to go and look for a new pattern.

I tried both Spotlight and Lincraft for the pattern but they had no copy.  At least Spotlight still had the fabric in store.   I was so desperate for a pattern that I decided to download one.  Have I told you how much I dislike the “download, print and tape” method of acquiring patterns?   No?   Well let me tell you, it’s a pain in the arse.   I wasn’t looking forward to all the taping, but didn’t even get that far because I couldn’t print due to the damn software and my printer not speaking to each other.   Grrrr.

Plan B.   I remembered that I had an old flannelette PJ set of my own which I’d kept for copying in the future.   Decided to cut down the top and do a quick mock-up for my boy.   And we had success.  He was a little perturbed about the pink floral fabric of my old top, but humoured me with fittings after reassurance that he wouldn’t be wearing little flowers.

So here he is in his new PJs.  He’s a man of my own heart and loves to put his PJs on when he’s in for the night.  The button placement is a little wonky because my initial guestimate for placement was wrong.  But he doesn’t care.

Star Wars PJs


Follow me on Bloglovin 

15yo Miss A has a tiny 25 inch waist and a penchant for clothes which look great with wide belts.  We’re talking vintage and op shops. Unfortunately, wide belts in her size are particularly hard to come by here in Australia.    She was wearing one of my wide elastic belts with a new skirt, but had hair pins in it to try and bring it in small enough to fit.

I suggested we make a cummerbund which she could wear to fit exactly her size.   She hadn’t heard of a cummerbund before – and after a quick look at cummerbunds, it would appear that they haven’t been in fashion since the 1980’s.   Now I know why she was ignorant of their existence.   And I’m again reminded of my age.

Anyway, today is Valentines Day and she was heading out for a lunch with The Boy.   Had an hour or two up my sleeve and decided to run up a quick one for her to wear on her date.   In my stash I found some leftover black drill, some very heavy interfacing and some herringbone weave black cotton tape for the bow.   Perfect.

I cut a two strips of fabric measuring 2.75 inches wide and about 32 inches long.    I marked the half way mark on the fabric.  From there, another mark at 12.5 inches (half her waist measurement) and another to mark the end of the belt.   I then marked how I wanted the belt to taper in.    Fabrics and interfacing then cut to size.

cummerbung marking

When pinning together, I attached the tape at one end and then ran it up inside of the cummerbund and out the other end.   This gives me one finished end – plus I can use the end of the tape to pull the cummerbund right side out.   It’s hard to see because it’s black on black, but hopefully you can see what I mean.    I used a zipper foot when doing my side seams so that I could skim along the sides of the tape and not catch it in my seams at the narrow points.

cummerbund pinning

After I turned it right way out, I just needed to put tape in the open end and fix it closed.  A good press was the only thing left to do.

cummerbund finished

Finished cummerbund

cummerbund backcummerbund front

Back view                                                                      Front view

Pram Blanket

There’s a baby girl due shortly and my family are bursting with excitement.    I was looking for a simple idea for a newborn gift and decided on a pram blanket.   (Jadie, don’t look!)   This is likely to be the first of many baby gifts leaving my machine in the short term.

I knew the mum has decided that she wants to avoid pastel colours, so I went for the vibrant colours in this piece of fabric from the patchwork store.  The zebra print back is a velvety, soft, fleecy fabric which I just want to stroke.  Continuously.  Lime green binding lifts the edges and also compliments the zebra print.

It was all very simple really.   I layered the two prints back to back, some random safety pins in the centre and dressmaking pins held them together while I put the binding on.    I was wondering if I’d need to put some random stitches through the blanket to hold the layers in place, but it seems to be doing just fine without.

Hope she likes it

pram blanket

Sewing Organiser

I recently pinned a pattern for this sewing organiser on my Pinterest account.    As my usual sewing is something like ‘sew seam – get up to find scissors – sew seam – get up to find unpicker – sew seam – really must do something about that little pile of pins heaping up’,  I thought that it may come in very useful to help keep me organised when sewing.  Oh, and it’s really pretty.

My usual approach is to see a pattern I like and try to duplicate it.  However, after a few recent failures of random projects, I decided to purchase this pattern from SundayGirlDesigns on Etsy.    And I was so glad I did – the pattern was easy to follow and saved me a lot of wrong turns.    My only suggestion would be for the pattern to include total fabric purchase at the start of the pattern as I was feeling a bit lazy about adding together all the fabric required for each different part of the project.

I only made a couple of edits to the pattern:

1. I couldn’t find iron-on batting so I used regular batting and had to baste the mat together.   3/4 of the way through basting, I seriously began to regret not hunting down the iron on.

2. The pattern calls for pre-made seam tape, but I just made my own bias binding from a fat quarter.

3. I found the thread basket hung open a bit far after construction – so I added a little elastic with a press-stud closure to hold it closed a little more.

4. I didn’t have any felt for the flowers, so I made them from contrast fabric instead.

Anyway, very happy with this little project.    Here’s to more organised sewing.sewing mat

When it all comes together

The crafting bug hit me today.  With a sledgehammer.  No amount of personal persuasion to the contrary was going to beat today’s desire to make something.   Not that I tried very hard to block it.     It’s the Christmas break – the sewing shops would either be closed or too crowded with people shopping the post Christmas sales – so I was going to have to make do.

After spending far too long on Pinterest reviewing my options, I decided to sew a makeup purse for my daughter.  It was one of those perfect crafts where I had absolutely everything I needed at my fingertips.   Leftover fabrics from a previous quilt, some batting, the perfect zip and all the tools I needed.

I love the way that tools bought for different applications can be used in so many ways.   The cutting board bought for scrapbooking is the same type used for the rotary cutting of fabric.   The clear ruler bought for measuring patchwork squares is now used for cutting any fabric in a straight line.   And the new guides for making bone casings on my corsets worked wonderfully for constructing the red highlight on my purse.

All in all, a very rewarding day with nothing spent.  And to make it better, my daughter actually liked the purse!