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Thursday, July 31, 2014

· Justifying a New "Collection" ·

This project has been several months in the dreaming, with a bit of a false start this winter/spring, but I hope it is finally becoming a reality! :-)

As any seamstress knows, scrap fabric is a constant byproduct and without proper (and firm) maintenance, can easily become unwieldy!  We have always kept scraps of our currently-worn dresses in case of repairs or remodeling.  The problem recently was a case of deciding what to do with the major leftovers.  You know- those pesky pieces around a yard or less that are too big for "just repairs" but too small for most ideas.... And so the scrap bin grew...and hatched into this idea. ;-)

I love vintage children's patterns and would love a good excuse to start a collection/hoard/etc of them.  Since children of my own are at least a couple years down the road, the only excuse good enough is selling garments on Etsy.  So that will have to suffice. ;-)  I have consequently been diligently and oh-so-sacrificially building my stock of patterns and Pinterest ideas.  Truly, a difficult job- but someone has to do it, right?!

A trip out-of-state to visit a friend this month was the perfect opportunity to ensure the project's long-awaited commencement.  If all goes according to plan, I'm hoping to add a new item each week.

Hahahaha, yeah.  I know- I'm way too optimistic sometimes.  Try not to laugh too hard. ;-)

At whatever rate this project continues, I'm still looking forward to giving "new life" to some of these fabrics we've used over the years!  Here are the first four offerings. :-)

The pink floral is from a 1950s-inspired dress I made years ago and the coral fabric is from a blouse of mine.

Listing- here

This forget-me-not fabric was what my very first Regency dress was made from! :-)

Listing- here

The pink/black stripe is from my 1950s Ric Rac Dress and the pink linen/cotton is from a colonial dress of mine.

Listing- here

This brown polka dot is from one of my sister's more recent dresses.

Listing- here

Anyway, I'm pretty excited with the start so far and I'm pleased to finally have something to report!! :-)  Check out the shop here. (Also, we've been in a purging mood lately, so there will be a more historical/vintage clothing items up in the shop next week!)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

· 1950s BBQ Dress ·

I had an Official Blog Posting Plan all laid out for the summer, organized into a perfectly arranged pattern and balance of historical, vintage, and "other" posts which indicated that this dress was supposed to wait for a few weeks before posting.

However, I love it so much that it is moving up on the schedule. ;-)

On a trip to JoAnns last August, the clearance rack was an additional 50% off and we were browsing.  Obviously, we like to flirt with temptation... further evidenced by the fact that we ended up coming home with several new pieces, including this slightly crazy novelty print.  It was quirky in the right ways, a great color for me, and I was in the right mood.  Once we got home I started seriously questioning my decision though!  At home it seemed a little *too* quirky, overly colorful (there are at least 4 different shades of red alone!), and I wasn't in the right mood anymore.

I plugged away at it though, and set a deadline a couple weeks away.  The more I worked with the fabric, the more I wondered what in the WORLD I was thinking when I bought it!  I just couldn't see myself really loving (or even liking!) the dress.  I pacified myself with the consolation that I could sell the completed dress if I really hated it and at least make back the money invested in the supplies.  Intervening projects and unexpected setbacks ended up delaying completion until November.  So it languished in the closet until (with a bit of trepidation) I got it out for its debut in June... but I'm pleased to report that I LOVED it! :-D  It is super comfortable, and it just feels like "me" this year. :-)

I loved the fun details and unique skirt gathering of Butterick 5920, but I am very, very partial to kimono sleeves so I adjusted the pattern accordingly.  I wanted to add in some black accents to break up the pattern a bit and highlight the elements, so I decided on piping.

Of course, in my inherently cheap manner, I felt compelled to make the piping instead of buying it pre-made.  And I got to remember how much I really don't like piping angles. :-P  Ugh!  Why do I keep forgetting that?!  It is such a lesson in frustration and they never turn out nice enough.  The time needed to make and apply piping to the sleeves, neck, placket, and pockets was longer than expected and took a part in delaying the result.

But after all the trouble, I am SOOO glad I did it! :-)

This fabric design is rather large, and when I bought it I knew I'd have to take the repeat into account if I wanted to match up the designs.  I bought a bit extra than the pattern called for, and ended up getting even more than that to finish off the bolt.

Turns out that that was the best decision I could have made!  I thought the repeat was about 13" long, but after getting it home and laying the pieces out, I discovered that it was Twenty. Seven. Inches. Long!  Wow.  And, Ugh.  But, I love a good puzzle, and it provided just the right amount of challenge. ;-)  I matched up the design on the center front skirt seam and the front bodice.  I also made it so that the design "reads" all the way around the skirt and bodice.  That part might not end up being terribly perceptible to most, but it makes me happy!  The pockets were intentionally contrasting with the surrounding design so they would "pop" and they each feature a motif.

All things considered, I just barely squeaked by with enough fabric.  Whew!

I made bound buttonholes on this dress too- they are so addicting!  I love the way they look. :-)

This dress also marked a "first" for me, and one I never thought I would sink to the depths of.  I was determined not to buy any new buttons for this dress, but I didn't have enough matching ones.  Since the fabric was already so crazy and I wasn't sure I would even end up keeping the completed dress, I used mismatched buttons.  Oh, the horror!

But seriously- I really don't like mismatched buttons.

Granted, these buttons are rather subtly mismatched and still in an orderly pattern, but I actually like them!  Sometimes I utterly shock myself. ;-)

I LOVE these pockets, and moved them to the skirt rather than the chest.  I love the way they naturally pop out since they are placed under the skirt gathers. :-)

And I love the way the center placket extends into the skirt, and I'm so glad I chose to highlight that with the piping. :-)

OK, judging by the amount of times I said that I "loved" some aspect of this dress, have you picked up on the fact that I am really adoring this dress?! ;-)  It was such an unexpected love affair, but I'm glad it has fared better than expected!  I think the fact that so far I've gotten tons of compliments from even the most unlikely of sources might have done its share in boosting my esteem of it, too. ;-)

· Photography by Kathryn ·

Saturday, July 19, 2014

· 1950s Green Dress ·

· I'm down in Texas this week visiting a friend, so this post might be a bit shorter than my usual. :-) ·

This was one of my very first 1950s dresses- from my first year of wearing exclusively vintage clothes.

It has gone through a minor re-fashion, since the first bias tape I used ended up fading drastically and wearing out.  The main dress fabric looked like it still had a few years left, so I went to the work of ripping off all the old, making new, and sewing it on.  A lot of work? Yes. Worth it? Well, kind of, I guess. ;-)  It's not really my favorite dress, but I *did* end up getting at least 3 more years of hard wear out of it so I guess that justifies the effort!  This dress isn't really one of my "ultimate favorites", but it's practical enough. :-)  Wow!  I'm just sooo enthusiastic about this dress.... ;-P

OK, enough of the bad.... It's time to be a little more optimistic! :-)

I wanted to try out a cute pocket idea I found on an antique dress, and this simple dress seemed like a great backdrop! :-)  The bright side to replacing all the trim was that I got to re-attach the pockets the right way! :-)

The marigold colored gingham picks up on the small flowers in the design, and makes for a fun, unexpected color combination. :-)  The original bias was a tonal green, so it was fun to refresh this dress and give it a new feel!

I discovered the importance of necklaces last year, and I feel like that really helps finish off this dress! Well, and borrowing my sister's bangles... :-D

I used Vogue 1043, which is sadly out of print now.  I made 2 dresses from that pattern and really liked it!  The side pleat ended up needing a bit of adjustment, but I liked the ingenious and intricate underarm godets.  Speaking of which- it's high time I pulled out this pattern for another incarnation! :-)

· Photos by Kathryn ·

Saturday, July 12, 2014

· Regency Block-Printed Dress ·

Ahhh!  It feels nice to get back to historical clothing for a change- doesn't it?

I finally got a chance to get some more of my past historical projects photographed with Kathryn, so you'll be seeing a few more throughout the summer. :-)

I made this dress 5 years ago for a trip to England, and wore it when we visited Jane Austen's house.  It has had lots of love and wear since then, but its initial outing still evokes happy memories for me. :-)

The dress was based on an original (here), and I fell in love with the fetching idea of a triple row of cording on the top of the bib.  The cording is echoed by triple tucks on the sleeves and the hem.  The bib fastens with dorset buttons- lovingly handmade by my mom. :-)

The silk bonnet was made by my mom from Timely Tresses' Lucia pattern.  This hat was trimmed while we were at our height of Peacock Mania, and I'm now skeptical about the historical accuracy of using them.  However, I still have enough of a Peacock Mania Hangover not to care. ;-)

Recognize this fabric??  This was the original project for this hand-printed muslin from India, but I had enough leftover to make my Block-Printed 1770s Jacket last year.  I love how shockingly different the garments look!  I was cautious about using the same fabric to make a jacket because I was afraid that I would get tired of it and that it would feel too obvious.  Well, I couldn't be more mistaken because I usually end up forgetting that they're the same fabric! ;-)

My base pattern for this dress was Sense & Sensibility's Elegant Lady's Closet pattern.  I'm not a big fan of this pattern in general, but I have found that I'm pretty pleased with the way the back and sleeves work on me.  I used the back, sleeves (cut to a custom length), and front underbodice but made up the bib, skirts, and fastening based on period examples.  The skirt has a couple pleats at the side seams for shaping and gathers in the center back.

Taking these photos was rather bittersweet.  I loved putting it all on again, fell in love with Regency styles all over again, and started getting the urge to finally make that mint sheer stripe I've been saving for an 18-teens dress!  But then the realization hit- I don't really make historical clothing very much anymore.

I feel like I've unintentionally yet naturally moved on to a different phase now.  Gone are the days when I would wear my pre-20th century clothing to church and around the house.  Gone are the days when I'd make a huge effort to get into historical clothing (because let's face it- this requires so much more time to get ready than my normal!) just for a small dance.  And consequently, gone are my easy justification and ready excuses for making lots of historical attire.  We don't have many reenactment opportunities (of desirable periods...) in the area, and even if we did- I'm not sure that's my cup of tea.  And let's face it- there aren't even any great places to go for photoshoots!

I still love the varieties and intricacies of historical clothing, but I'm realizing how little of it I do anymore.  I really hope the costuming bug bites again soon!  I've missed it so....

For now, I guess I'll just enjoy my 20th century phase while it lasts and relive my "glory years" through past projects and the rare events that come up. :-)  Who knows what era-obsession will come next!

· Photography by Kathryn ·

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jessica's Wedding Dress · Something Old, Something New...

As some of you may remember, I was working on a friend's wedding gown in May this year.  Well, the dress was completed, the wedding was beautiful, and I now have pictures to share!! :-)

In "real life", my job is doing seamstress work. (I know- aren't you shocked?! ;-P) I have quite a bit of experience with formals and weddings, so when my friend Jessica got engaged I was thrilled that she asked me to work on her gown!  Jessica has a great sense of style and tends to like classic looks, so I knew she'd pick out something I would end up liking too!  And she's so petite that everything just looks adorable on her. ;-)

After talking about options, she made a Pinterest board with some ideas she liked.  To achieve that look, we ended up deciding to add a lace and silk bodice to a purchased strapless dress.  Jessica liked the idea of using lace from her mother's wedding gown, but while she was getting it out of storage she found an exquisite heavily-beaded lace bodice from her great-grandmother!  She brought it along when we went to shopping for her "base dress" and it was the clear winner!

Here's the lace bodice in its original state- so much potential, but in need of lots of love!  It also had a pale pink sash that must have been a later addition- attached with stick-on velcro.  Oh, the horror!!  As you can see, the bodice wasn't in a wearable state, due to the severe yellowing on all the seams. (As a side note- every cut edge on the lace had that yellowing, but nowhere else.  Does anyone know what would cause that?  I couldn't figure it out.)  Thankfully all of the seams needed to be taken in anyway and the yellowed portions could just be trimmed off.

The neck and sleeve edges were bound in plain old ecru bias tape.  It wasn't finished off nicely at the back, was a "blah" color, and an unflattering neckline.  So off it came!

And on went the narrow handmade silk binding.
Hand-stitched in place absolutely invisibly. :-)  This dress truly was a labor of love- the binding is proof. ;-)

After the bodice was altered to fit Jessica, I stitched it to the base dress.  I draped a pleated silk midriff band on the dress and hand-stitched it all in place.  The overbodice is unattached to the base dress at the back to allow for the closure.
The base dress closes with a zipper; then the overbodice closes with covered buttons on the lace and snaps on the silk.

I was rather intimidated by the thought of bustling a tulle gown- to the point of thinking it was impossible.  After scouring the internet for awhile, I came up with my game plan.  I under-bustled the lower layer with color-coordinated ribbons and over-bustled the tulle using buttons and clear hair elastics (of all things!).

I was so pleased with how the bustling buttons ended up hiding under the silk.  It felt rather ingenious, if I do say so myself. ;-)  I was a bit concerned that the elastics might end up being visible with the train down, but even to the trained eye they were unnoticeable. :-)

And now here are some pretty photos from the photographers!


This skirt was so amazingly twirly!!  But I guess that's what a 1 1/2 circle skirt will do for you. ;-)

With the skirt bustled up!

I would absolutely steal this dress for my wedding.  Except that I'm not 5'2"....

There aren't many projects (even of my own) that I love in every single phase of the process- design, planning, construction, and completion.  This dress was an exception to that though- I can't decide if it was more fun to make or to look at photographs of! :-)

It was such a joy to be able to give this family heirloom a new life and purpose and I love how unique and personalized Jessica's dress now is! :-)

· Wedding photos by Kathryn ·

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