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.



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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

Soy candle making for beginners

I got into soy candle making  in the same way that I get into most of my craft things: It was a case of wanting something but not being prepared to pay for it.    Once you get the hang of it, making candles is a relaxing pastime – and after the initial purchase of products – not an expensive hobby.   I mostly buy my products from Natural Candle Supply in Sydney, Australia.

The candle I made today is Orange Blossom and Jasmine, made at a ratio of approx 1/3 Jasmine and 2/3 Orange Blossom.   I really like the way the citrus of the orange blossom balances out the jasmine.

You need:  soy wax (  I use the Ecosoya EB Advanced Soy), pre-tabbed wick (I used CDN 18), glass jar (I used large Danube), scent, colour (optional), popsicle stick with a hole drilled in the centre, a clothes peg, a ‘wick stickum’ or double sided tape, cooking thermometer, cooking pot, stirring stick and newspaper to cover your work surface.

I could write a whole page just about choosing the right wick, but will give the brief version.  Basically, you need to figure out a wick size based on the diameter of jar you’re using, and then adapt up or down depending on how your scent and wax of choice burns.  A lower number wick has a smaller flame – so a smaller jar will need a lower number wick and large jar will need a larger wick.  Your candle supplier should be able to advise you an approximate wick size for your jar diameter, but it really does all go back to trial and error.  When testing, if you find that you have a large flame and a candle which melts quickly, try a smaller wick.   Or, if you find the candle won’t melt out to the sides of the jar, use a larger wick.

To set up, attach the wick stickum or double sided tape to the wick tab and adhere to the bottom of the jar.  I’ve printed and laminated a target to help me centre the wick, but you can do this by eye.    Thread the top of the wick through the popsicle stick, pull firmly and secure with the clothes peg.


1. Measure the quantity of wax required.    Soy wax weighs similar to water, so I’ve found it best to weigh the volume of water the jar holds and then use that figure for the quantity of wax.

2. Measure scent required.  I use a full fragrance load – which is 10% of the wax total.   For example, if you measure 250g of wax, you’ll need 25ml of fragrance.

3. Select colour if required.   One diamond shape dye chip will colour 250g of wax.

4. Dump your wax in a cooking pot and heat slowly, stirring, to 75’C.   I’ve seen recommendations for using a double boiler, but I’ve always managed fine with an old milk pan on a gas cooktop.     Don’t get distracted by the kids or internet at this stage – your wax can burn if you forget about it.   Trust me, I know.


5. When your wax reaches 75’C, remove from heat.  Add colour if desired and stir until disolved.

6. When wax cools to around 70’C, add fragrance and stir in

7. When the wax reaches 65’C, you’re ready to pour


8. Now be patient while the wax sets.   Don’t light the candle for at least 24hrs – this will give the scent time to develop.

Enjoy your candle