Sugar and Spice, vintage girls dresses and the magic of a little ruffle

I have just opened my bedroom window. The mid-morning light is brilliant, a typical sunny day in Canberra, Australia’s capital. Its like that in Winter… deceptively sunny, but alpine chilly outside! Being laid up in bed with a flu like bug I figure its not a bad time to blog… I can sit up and type after all and I can convince myself that typing is a form of exercise… okay, so maybe not really.

But lately I have been feeling very inspired by our unborn muse- our daughter who will be arriving at the beginning of September.

Simplicity 5695 made up in a gorgeous, vibrant Japanese cotton and linen blend- ruffle made using the traditional gathering technique (ie by hand)!Love the vintage look.

Simplicity 5695 made up in a gorgeous, vibrant Japanese cotton and linen blend- ruffle made using the traditional gathering technique (ie by hand)!

I have had so many memories lately about my own childhood and the beautiful dresses my own mother used to make for me when I was growing up. I rarely had store bought clothes, in fact I am pretty sure that at least the majority of my wardrobe was made by her until I was about seven when injury meant she had to put her sewing machine away. That machine was an elna SU, a little workhorse that my father proudly bought for her in the 70s despite its exorbitant price tag and upon which I learnt to sew little things as I got older. There can be no question of my faith in this particular machine when I started sewing a few years ago- I wanted an elna SU. It had to be an elna SU. I bought one on ebay for three times the price of a new machine. I didn’t get to try it for a few months because I was moving in with my then fianc√© (from Sydney to Canberra) only to discover I had been sold a machine with a broken “reverse” function. I used this anyway for a couple of years (it otherwise worked) and was thanking my lucky stars and the universe when fate brought me to find another elna SU sitting forlorn on the bottom shelf of a thrift shop for $20. I snapped it up, paid the $120 to get it serviced and it works like a little dream for me today…. reverse function and all!

 

With little girl dresses fixed squarely in my mind, I had opportunity to dig through some of the accessories I have bought on ebay over the years and brandishing the rather intimidating ruffle attachment (or ruffler foot as I have soon in referred to) I set to figuring out how to work with it. I admit, after a few successful traditional gathering attempts on the peasant dresses I have been working on, I had one UNsuccessful gathering experience with a ruffle and was keen to find a way to do things better and faster.

There are some really useful write ups on the web about how to use the ruffler foot. My own success with it is still a bit trial and error but I have tried to help myself out a bit by doing a number of test swatches, making a record of machine settings and the amount of fabric required to ruffle at different gauges for different garments. I have no doubt that when our little girl arrives and I start to think about sewing again this will be a real time saver. Ruffles and lace are synonymous with little girls after all!

Not an automotive spare part, I promise.... this is a vintage ruffler foot which I use on my elna SU... scary looking but very cool, very handy

Not an automotive spare part, I promise…. this is a vintage ruffler foot which I use on my elna SU… scary looking but very cool, very handy

How do you record your sewing notes? I have taken to being more faithful and making notes about my projects… Below is an example of how ruffles can turn out using the ruffler foot.

A pretty ruffle

There is a little boy calling out for his (toy) fire truck, alas I must go and be apart of the hubbub, even briefly before back to “rest”. But not without a sneak peak at my next project (when I am on the mend of course)! My first attempt at an Oliver + S pattern will be….

digitally downloaded!

digitally downloaded!

2 thoughts on “Sugar and Spice, vintage girls dresses and the magic of a little ruffle

  1. This little dress looks super cute, I like the bottom ruffle and it’s inspiring as I’m working on a little girl’s dress at the moment. I must admit that I was blatantly ignorant of the existence of ruffler feet until I read your post, so thanks for educating me, yours looks really handy! Good luck on your next project, I will pop in to check out the finished garment.

    • Thanks so much. I always find the blogs of others inspiring too- its great to see how people make a pattern work for them, tricks they use… the ruffler foot is awesome. Let me know when you blog about your little girl dresses, I will take a look art how you are progressing also- any particular pattern caught your eye? Thanks for popping by my blog :)

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