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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

· Fairly Fluffy Fifties ·

Wow.  This title is lame.  Titles are always difficult for me.... and, well, what can I say.  I have reached the bottom of the bucket.
Embrace the lame titles!! ;-)

This outfit is one of those fun happen-stances: the supplies were entirely free!  Ok, I think I bought the zippers...  But otherwise, it was free!

I got the lovely semi-sheer border print from the same older lady who had the brown polka dot I made into my first 1940s dress.  The blouse fabric came to me shortly after- I found it in the "free room" at church, and it was a pillowcase.  I couldn't believe how well it coordinated!  Using a pillowcase doesn't allow for many design options, but I was able to squeeze this blouse on!  I pieced the lower portion, but no one sees that part anyway since it's always tucked in. :-)

I deliberated over the fabrics for a few years before making them into a blouse and skirt.  I didn't want to make them into a dress because I thought it would be weird to have 2 different fabrics.  Well, everyone compliments me on my "dress" now.... so I guess it's not too weird. ;-)  I do intend to wear them separately as well, and the final push to make it came this spring when I was bemoaning my lot.

"Woe is me.  I have no fabric to make into a lovely spring skirt.  Absolutely none, I tell you!"
*And*, I had just made a resolution to severely cut down on new fabric purchases so my hands were tied! (a resolution which I might add.... is going to be hard to maintain after my spending habits this summer. oh well... it was a nice thought.)

Well.... yeah.  My stash is large.  And would you look at that! I had a wonderful spring skirt's worth of fabric just waiting.  All that melodrama for nothing. ;-)

I got this silly little necklace over 10 years ago at Claire's.  I say silly because at the time, I had no inkling that I would get so much use out of it.  I agonize over every single purchase I make or gift I receive, and at the time I didn't even have anything that it went with!  I've come very close to donating it to Goodwill on numerous occasions, but it seems like every year or 2, some new outfit comes up that matches it perfectly!

This green ribbon was originally for accessorizing our historical clothing, but hey! it matched! :-)  I've experimented with a few different accessorizing color schemes lately, and I'm shocked by how much we have that works well!  Yay! Options!

I found these gloves at an estate sale recently, and I loooooove them.  I've been looking for pearl-beaded gloves for a while, and at estate sale prices.... it's meant to be. :-)  They also fit my hands remarkably well!  Actually, the fingers are even (shocker!!) on the long side, so I'd like to alter them at some point.  But you know what? somehow altering gloves never ends up on my to-do list. :-P

Anyone else need motivation to do a little upkeep with their glove collection?  I keep thinking I should set aside a week or so to take care of the little odds and ends that could use attention.

I was gifted a marvelously large supply of vintage ric-rac last fall (thanks again Emily!  I LOVE that stuff!!!), and I had plenty of pointy white ric-rac to embellish to my heart's content!  Lovely!

I'm in need of some light-colored shoes, don't you agree?  In the meantime, these classic mary janes keep me happy year-round!

This hat was from the first estate sale we went to this year, and I love how it pairs so perfectly with this outfit!  It's very much a "hair down" sort of hat though, so I have to plan accordingly. :-)

I was rather pleased with this pocket- it's set into the same seam as the invisible zipper. :-)

Well, now you can see how I'm coping with my hair endeavors this summer!  Last September, I got my hair cut with the intention of wearing it down.  It had been a very long time since I'd worn it down, and I was hesitant about such a big commitment!

Well, I was pretty pleased with the result (a 1940s "middy plus"), and got it trimmed a few months later to straighten it rather than the U shape it was previously.  I was more happy with the second iteration and I haven't trimmed it since.  It's now quite long as you can see!

I get warm rather easily in the summer; heat and hair are the 2 factors that make me stressed and irritable the fastest.  Sooo, in the interest of the well-being of humanity, I thought growing out my hair enough to wear it up would make everyone happier. ;-)  Also, my hair is much more cooperative with the curling game when it's dry out and.... I live in Humidity Central.  Getting my hair to curl well would require a perm and I wasn't ready to make the plunge if I might end up wearing it up all summer anyway.  So!  Maybe next year I'll be brave enough to try a summer hair experiment. :-)

This skirt also marks a momentous moment in my sewing journey- I have (almost) reconciled myself to the blind-hemming stitch on the machine!  Yes, I know that would usually be considered a step backwards- after all, it's not really the nicest way to finish off a garment!

About 10 years ago, I got fed up with fighting with that stitch.  It always shows!  And I hate the way it looks.  It would stress me out to sew a hem with it, so I gave myself permission to never use it again.  I reasoned that I actually wasn't spending much more time sewing hems by hand, and it was much more relaxing!  I also top-stitched hems if that was appropriate for the era and aesthetic.  When it came to this skirt though, I decided that a blind-hem stitch would actually look the best.  On lightweight fabrics like this, I can frequently get too tight of tension while hand-sewing it, so there was potential of it being noticeable.  Top-stitching would break up the lovely border print.  And... well, it was a wide skirt.  And I wanted to wear it the next day.  So quick machine sewing it was!  I'm rather pleased with how it turned out. :-)  Yes, the stitches are visible if you look for them, but they hide so well in the print!  I'm probably close to being World's Most Particular Hem Examiner (at least for my own work), so if I'm happy, I think no one else will mind. ;-)

And really, it was sooooo fast..... I'm still a far cry from being a convert, but I will actually give this stitch the dignity of consideration from now on. ;-)

Hey look!  It's another fauxlero bodice! ;-)  Yes, I'm rather addicted to this pattern (self-drafted) lately...  I'm much more happy with how my "50 States" dress turned out, so I might end up tweaking this one a bit.  Does anyone else make endless changes to their garments?  It seems like I can never make myself stop the endless tweaking!  Or... maybe I'm just obsessive.

Yeah.  There's that.

This skirt is a simple dirndl (rectangle) in order to utilize the border-print best.  I always love a good opportunity for pleats!  I decided to make double box-pleats all the way around the skirt for this.

Wow, I am feeling SO wordy today.  If you managed to slog through all of that, congratulations!  If not.... I don't think I would have, either. ;-)

· Photos by the, as ever, fabulous Kathryn (thanks!!) ·

Thursday, July 23, 2015

· 1930s Penny Rose Dress ·

As promised, here are the details of my latest 1930s dress. :-)

As I mentioned in my pocket tutorial post for this dress, I knew I wanted to use this fabric right away when I discovered Penny Rose fabrics!  My inspiration for the dress were classic 1930s cotton print dresses made from feedsacks and the like.

I searched through Pinterest for inspiration and quickly realized that I needed to have a white organdy collar with a giant fluffy bow to finish off the look!

I knew I wanted these sleeves from VPLL T7357; so with statement sleeves and collar, the rest of the dress needed to be a basic, simple design.  I used the VPLL pattern as a base, making a few changes.
This is my second time using this pattern (first version here).  I made some fairly typical alterations for my body and since this fabric has more body, I decided to make the skirt portion fitted rather than being belted in.  That necessitated making a waist seam in the front (due to the original seaming and shaping, there isn't a waist seam) so I could have a fitted skirt and blousy bodice.

These 1980s Etienne Aigner shoes are fabulous for earlier 20th century outfits- classic enough to go from the 1910s through the 30s.  And much more afforable and easy to find on eBay! ;-)

These sleeves.  So ridiculously faddish in a 1930s sort of way!  I recently realized one of the reasons behind my passion for wearing historical styles all the time- I am naturally very cautious and practical about my purchases and I like to ensure that each and every expenditure will be well-used for years to come.

Well, the very nature of fashion is change.... so that means clothing styles can easily fall out of style.  The allure of vintage is that it either has (1) stood the test of time and is perennially classic or (2) is a "fad" style like this that is now so out-dated that being a fad is not an issue! ;-)

So there you go- with vintage, I have the freedom to embrace fads I love and the security of knowing my money and effort will still be put to practical purposes. :-)

However, faddish or not- these sleeves are so fun and unique!  They're made from what are essentially 2 circles sewn together on the outer edges with holes cut in the centers of each for the armsyce and the cuff.
(Added bonus- due to the shape, these sleeves give complete range of motion and absolutely no restriction! ;-))

The fashion nerd in me was geeking out when I saw the pattern shape, because in the 1830s, puffy sleeves were all the rage and there is an extant garment in Patterns of Fashion, 1660-1860 that features circular sleeves, too!  Fashion echoed itself exactly 100 years later.  So fun!

I am now secretly (or not-so-secretly since I just announced it to the internet...) hoping that we get a little fad in the 2030s for circular sleeves!  I might even be tempted to dabble in contemporary clothing on such an occasion, just for the fashion-history-nerdy-ness of it all. ;-) 

We found a set of 6 of these adorable little "hershey's kiss" buttons at an antique mall a few years ago, and I was thrilled to finally use them!

I love it when I can use a fabulous vintage buckle on my dress!  And I love it when it is just the perfect color.  And I really love it when it echoes the (previously decided) design lines of the dress.

In short- this buckle makes me happy. ;-)

The bow is made from a single layer of bias-cut organdy and is edged with narrow self-fabric bias tape.

The bow is held in place and given its shape by a brooch.  The collar is removable and is edged with bias tape at the neck edge and basted to the inside of the dress neckline.

This dress was a great canvas for a cute little decorative 1930s pocket.  I based mine off of this illustration (far right), and I blogged about a tutorial for making one over here.

I used the VPLL pattern for the skirt pieces, which includes V seaming at the hips and a large box pleat in the center front.  The decorative seaming gets rather lost in the print, but I know it's there- and that's really all that matters, right? ;-)

This dress fought me every step of the way, but you know what?  All the frustrations fade away when I look at how happy I am with the result that I strove and conquered so much to achieve. :-)

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Thursday, July 16, 2015

· 1930s Pocket Tutorial ·

For those of you following me on Facebook and Instagram, this is old news- but I'm thrilled to announce that I'm part of the Penny Rose Project Design Team!

Penny Rose is a fabric company that has many different lines of 1930s, historical, and floral prints.  When they contacted me about sharing a project made from their fabric, I was excited about all the possibilities!  I've been on a big 1930s kick lately, so I naturally picked a 1930s print to make into a new dress. :-)

I'll be sharing details of my dress next week here on my blog (edit- here's the post!), but this week I have a special post over on the Penny Rose blog- a tutorial for making your very own 1930s pocket! :-)  I'm sharing it here on the blog, too and I'd LOVE to see your results!!

The finished pocket measures approx. 5" square, so it's a cute size for dresses and aprons and even tote bags or pillows. :-)

The pockets on the far right were my inspiration.

I decided not to do contrasting "petals" on my pocket for this tutorial but I made contrasting petals for my dress, as you can see. :-)

To start, cut 4 rectangles 2 3/4" by 7 1/4"

To make the rectangles into isosceles trapezoids, make marks 1 5/8" from one edge.

Cut on an angle from the mark to the opposite corner.

Make a mark 3 1/4" from the top.

Sew one group of 2 pieces together from the bottom until the mark, using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Each piece should be sewn over half-way up, as you see.

Press open.

Next, join the pocket to the 2 remaining trapezoids, pinning around the outer edges and down the inside edges of the "petals".

Be sure to fold back the seam allowance on the bottom corner of the trapezoids.

Sewing with a 1/4" seam allowance, butt the stitching up to the previous seam, sew down one petal, around the outside, and down the other petal, ending the stitching to meet up with the previous seam and making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. 

Completed stitching!

It's a bit hard to tell, but here you can see how the stitching lines up with the previous seam.

Trim those corners! (and yes, both pairs of my shears made it into this shot- haha!)

Since we didn't sew together those 2 trapezoids, you can turn it right-side out through that opening.

Iron everything flat.

Fold back the petals and iron in place.

Flip it over to the back side and press the seam allowance under on both edges.

Using a ladder-stitch, sew up the seam.

Now you can admire your work!

Sew the pocket to your project around the outer edges, leaving the petals free.

If your petals need it, tack them invisibly near each edge.

And there you go- your own vintage pocket!  This design lends itself perfectly to contrasting petals, so play around with options!  I'd love to see what you make! :-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

· Just My Kind of Patriotic Dress ·

I hope all of my stateside readers had a nice 4th of July weekend!  Our weather was wonderful and for the first time in years, I had an occasion-appropriate dress!  I tend to steer clear of red, white, and blue as I don't like looking so patriotic on a daily basis.  This dress certainly doesn't fit the patriotic color scheme, but thematically it's just about perfect. ;-)

I've always thought this 50 states fabric from Hobby Lobby was fun and quirky, but it wasn't until making another outlandish novelty print dress (the BBQ dress) that I realized how much I really needed this addition to my wardrobe.
Summer just begs for wacky novelty prints, and well.... I'm happy to oblige. ;-)

After making my "fauxlero" (faux bolero) cow dress earlier this year, I was eager to use the pattern (custom-drafted by me) again!  I love the way it turned out, and I think it's a great design for this fabric.  I had so many options for different colored ric-rac that would have been perfect, but Plain Old Black ended up being the best accent.  The large size ended up worked perfectly and showed up best against the busy print; I'm glad I had it on hand, as it's not normally a staple!

This purse is from Tatyana (bonus- it's on sale right now!), and it's a big favorite of mine!  It's hard to beat the price, and so far it's held up really well.  It's more roomy than most "real-vintage" purses I've found, but still looks small. :-)

With a print this busy, I decided to break it up just a bit with decorative pockets.  Like most 1950s dresses, I wanted to echo the design element of the fauxlero bodice so I chose to design my own gently stair-stepped, scalloped pockets.

Of course, the pockets begged to feature specific states.  Only problem was, I was at a loss as to which states to feature!  I've been to too many states to put those on the pockets.  I've been to too few to feature the ones left on the list to see.  There are too many states on my current Bucket List.  There are too many that I've lived in.  There are too many I'm visiting this year.

Eventually I decided to pick the states that correspond to my trips sandwiching the making of this dress.  I went on a trip to Texas in May....

.... and I'm going to Maine this month!  Now, I'll grant you that Texas was much more conducive to highlighting... but I don't mind. ;-)  Now I'll always be able to remember exactly when this dress was made!  Yes, it's entirely un-noticeable to the casual observer, but that just adds to the appeal I think. ;-)

Did any of you make a patriotic outfit this year too?

· Photography by Kathryn ·

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