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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sewing Recap · 2016

Here we are at the end of the year already! I don't know about you, but I really love making lists, organizing, and evaluating my progress, so this time of year is a favorite! I'm busy doing my yearly fabric stash inventory and I've taken the time to reflect back on a year of sewing.

So it's time for another year-end recap!  Wow- this year really sped by and was a rather remarkable year in that it held SO much but also SO little.  Through it all, I felt like I had a distinct lack of sewing, but it is a bit heartening to see how many things *did* get accomplished this year!

In many of the aspects of life that I don't touch here on the blog, this was a difficult year of uncertainty and waiting.  It followed on the heels of 2-3 other not-so-great years. (but don't get me wrong- those years also held their own wonderful experiences!)  I feel like I'm finally getting my feet back under me and I'm so grateful for all the ways I've grown during this in-between season.

2016 held lots of changes, lots of decisions, lots of travel, and.... not as much blogging as I would have liked.  I had a dramatic up-tick in flash sales on the blog this year and they proved to be quite popular! Hooray!  I still love estate sale-ing, so look for more of those this coming year, and (maybe! hopefully!) more sewing projects. ;-)

My big change for 2017 will be a new job and I'm so happy about it and greatly looking forward to the reliable schedule!  I know it'll change a lot of things and potentially have a major impact on my blogging, but I'm super excited to see what 2017 holds and I can't wait to get started!  Hope the rest of you are enjoying the last few days of 2016 and I wish you all well in the new year!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A lower level of inspiration this year meant that I ended up with several skirts.  If in doubt, whip up a skirt- apparently!  The floral skirt was a cheater project; merely revamped from a dress.  The green and plaid skirts ended up being vastly popular in my wardrobe (hurrah!), and each warranted 2 posts.

1, 2
As the year went by, I had more love for sewing so after my first rousing success with this vintage pattern, I knew I needed to make another!  The added bonus- the second one went so much faster!

1, 2, 3

I had 3 projects with Penny Rose this year, and I think it's so funny that they were all in the pink/red range!  These were all such a great boost out of my rut and I'm so happy with how they all turned out. :-)

1, 2, 3

The rest of the summer I focused on stash projects (the striped dress and the bathing costume) and finally getting around to some much-needed garments (the gingham dress for our "Gingham Day" picnic and the bathing costume for summer activewear!).

And finally.... I was a bit more busy than the blog will lead you to believe!  Here are some sneak peeks of posts I haven't put up yet....

1930s blouse and skirt, 1950s skirt, gold tulle skirt for Kathryn, 1940s rayon dress

I also made 2 more skirts (I told you I made a lot of those this year!), a blouse, and some pretty cute London-themed vintage PJs.

All in all- I guess it's not too shabby for a year of sewing!  Thanks for following along this year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

· Merry Christmas! ·

A very Merry Christmas to all of you, dear readers!  I usually share a selection of my favorite vintage holiday cards, but this year I wanted to share photos of a recreation that my mom and sister did a couple years ago!

This is a bit of a funny post to share, since it's my sister's dress and I was entirely un-involved with the entire process, however the finished result is so charmingly festive that I felt like you'd all appreciate it anyway. :-)

May you all have a happy Christmas!

The dress is made from a polished cotton twill, which is well-suited to the box-pleated, full skirt.  The plain bodice closes with buttons and the removable faux fur cuffs and collar match the pixie-style hat and muff.  A black sash and neck bow add a touch of contrast, and the black purse and shoes step in for the original green.

· Photos, as ever, by Kathryn! ·

Thursday, December 1, 2016

· Golden Glow ·

The mellow golden leaves this year were the perfect backdrop for a new styling of my "practically vintage skirt" and it was just begging for a trip to the woods for photos!

I posted about this skirt in the spring here and one of the reasons I was so excited about this fabric is that I'm totally in love with every one of these colors. <3  After styling it toward the blue range over the spring, I was excited to pull out my best autumnal hues this fall!  My sister gave me this sweater as a "hand-me-up" since it ended up being a color she doesn't really wear.  Happily for me it's just perfect for my skirt!

The skirt was made from vintage cotton that we found at an estate sale a couple years ago.  Inside the folded pile of fabric were clippings from a 1950s catalog with plaid dresses.  I dearly wanted to be able to recreate one of them, but there was only enough fabric to barely squeeze out a skirt. :-/  Oh well!  Maybe that's why it was never made. ;-)

This outfit is a pretty good example of everyday attire for me- my faithful Mary Jane shoes, bobby socks, hat, and no brooches.  I need to remedy that last part and make it a habit! I do love a dear little brooch!

Those welt pockets were a self-designed feature and the fact that there wasn't a pattern almost drove me bonkers!  But it's good to be stretched a bit. ;-)

This blouse shows up in just about *every* skirt/blouse/cardigan post I put up, with good reason.  I love it.  Although I think a few more blouses might not go amiss either. ;-)

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Friday, November 25, 2016

· Black Friday-Cyber Monday Sale! ·

I'm doing a special sale on my two Etsy shops, ModeDeLis and SewingEmporiumCo, this year for the Black Friday-Cyber Monday extended weekend- 30% off both entire shops at automatically reduced prices, no need for any coupon codes!

This is the lowest my prices have ever been and I'm trying to clear things out so I can finally get the rest of my backstock online!  So please, stop on by and snag a great deal!

Christmas delivery deadlines are also fast approaching, so make sure to place your order before these dates!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

· Autumn Ablaze ·

Oh, autumn.  How I love you!

I don't know what the last few months have been like for you, but we enjoyed wonderful weather and gorgeous fall colors for quite a bit longer than usual this year and I'm so, SO happy that a visit from Kathryn coincided with it!  I've wanted some wonderfully autumnal photos ever since I started this blog and every year it just never worked out... but it's all for the best since I think I *finally* am getting close to the autumn wardrobe of my dreams. ;-)

Every year I have high hopes for a grand new wardrobe since this season is the source of my favorite colors and tones, but every year seems to bring something along my path to thwart my ambitions.  This year was much the same, but with a few choice additions previously in the year I was able to expand my options exponentially and I'm pretty pleased with the direction I'm headed at last. :-)

Long-time readers (at least those with an extraordinary memory for trivial details!) will remember this skirt from its first incarnation.  I made it 2.5 years ago after admiring the fabric for quite some time and I was so excited that it would finally be my Ultimate Spring/Autumn Dress!  And sadly, it just really ended up falling short of my hopes.  I eventually put it up for sale in my Etsy shop since it was frustrating to glimpse it in my closet, just hanging there and mocking me.  But no one wanted to buy it.  And then I finally realized what I should have years ago- this fabric just really wanted to be a skirt.  It's a great print to go with several tops and sweaters in my closet and I think (fingers crossed!) it will finally fulfill its purpose in life. ;-)

This vintage wool sweater was purchased last February, but never got a chance to shine until this fall!  I really, really love it and it also helps me get a step closer to Eilis's Ever Coveted Wardrobe. (yes, I'm still obsessed...haha!)

My year so far has been full of big, life-changing things back-to-back and I've finally had a period of quiet over the past month.  It's given me time to reflect back on where I've come over the last year and gather strength for the path ahead!  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll already know that I've made the decision to remove myself from social media for the foreseeable future.  I've found myself growing less creative and more apathetic in many areas of life and I'm ready to step back and rediscover the things I used to enjoy so much!  One of which is blogging, so rest assured that this little site won't be going anywhere for a long time. ;-)

This past year has forced me to branch out a lot more and do things solo.  From big city living to taking dance classes to arranging lots of solo cross-country travel, I've been adventuring a lot on my own.  I'm highly introverted, but don't get me wrong- I do love company just as much as anyone else!  I might be quiet, but I love having at least *someone* there by my side.  But that's not always possible, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to realize that, yes- I actually can make my own fun. ;-) 

Through various circumstances in February, I found myself with a day to spend in Cleveland and without any of the companions I tried to meet up with.  I've never been to Cleveland before and while the day started off rather bleak, it brightened up quickly with a few excellent recommendations.  Wandering through a market in a reclaimed train station and agonizing over which wonderful foods to choose (an Irish pasty won the day!), trying my very first authentic phosphate at the most adorable old-fashioned soda fountain, and some vintage shopping later... and the day was a rousing success!  I still have fond memories of how wonderful that day was, and I'm so glad I made the most of it after all!

One of the vintage shops I visited in Cleveland was going out of business, so all the merchandise was 50% off and I was able to find 2 sweaters and 2 pairs of sunglasses.  They were all great additions to my wardrobe and.... definitely help give the trip a rosy hue in my memory. ;-)

Also, can I just say that I love that I've finally built up a tolerance for high necklines?  I used to feel like I was being strangled if anything touched above my clavicle which kind of puts a damper on a truly authentic 1950s look!  The sweater is in wonderful shape and just required a few minor repairs to the button loops.

(And how much do I love that these shoes match perfectly??)

Have a happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!

· Photos by Kathryn ·

Saturday, November 12, 2016

· Fundraiser for Jessica! ·

As you've probably already heard, Jessica (of the blog/etsy shop Chronically Vintage) suffered a tragic house fire last month and lost all of her belongings, including an extensive vintage collection.  As she and her husband rebuild their life and get back on their feet, my friend Gina (Beauty from Ashes) had the wonderful idea of organizing a vintage pattern sale for a fundraiser!

Gina has generously donated 30 vintage sewing patterns in all sizes and eras and 100% of the proceeds from their sale will go to Jessica and Tony.  Look for these patterns in the "Fundraiser for Jessica" section!  Joining in, I am taking the opportunity to donate 25% of all proceeds from my entire shop (ModeDeLis), as well as my second Etsy shop (SewingEmporiumCo) from now through Nov 16th!  This is a great chance to not only get vintage treasures, but to help out a friend in need!

Jessica has been one of (if not the most!) supportive and welcoming members of the vintage blogging community and I've been touched again and again by her generosity and kindness- she has given so much to this community!  I know many of you have already donated directly to her donation site and if you were looking for another way to help (and cross off a few Christmas gifts!), this is perfect for killing two birds with one stone!

A sampling of some items currently in the ModeDeLis shop- vintage patterns pre-1965, magazines from the 1920s, Lu-Ray dishes, vintage scarves, and more!

And a sampling of the offerings over at SewingEmporiumCo- vintage patterns post-1965, retro reprint patterns, costume patterns, and vintage trimmings!

Happy shopping, and thanks for supporting Jessica!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

1950s Wrap Housedress · Penny Rose Fabrics

 My latest post on the Penny Rose Fabrics blog is up today!  You won't want to miss this one- I delved into vintage housedresses....

This dress has the biggest pockets in the history of pockets...

....Cute piping accents (since I momentarily forgot how much I don't really like sewing piping!)....

....And the whole thing is a wrap style!

See more details on their blog!
And also stay tuned for a post in the next month or so about a local factory that made its own label of housedresses in the 1920s-60s!  Fun, fun!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

· Crinoline Petticoat Comparison 101 ·

One of the hardest parts of dressing in 1950s dresses is figuring out the underthings!  I've been wearing vintage clothing, and mainly 1950s, for 7 years straight now so I've got plenty of experience under my belt and I'm excited to share what I've learned in my trials and errors through the years. :-)

To start off, some of the benefits of petticoats:

- No more limp skirts!- full-skirted 1950s are the most flattering when properly supported
- Extra coverage in windy situations!
- Fun to wear!  Who doesn't love the excuse for a fun accessory?

And most important of all:
- Feeling like Debbie Reynolds!  I don't know about you, but this picture is pretty much the epitome of my life goals as a little girl and there's something pretty satisfying about finally achieving this. ;-)

About me:

-OK, some facts before we begin.  Most of my dresses have skirts that are approx. 27" long, therefore I try to pick petticoats that are about 26-27" long.  Most of my skirts are 1/2-3/4 circles, so I tend towards petticoat styles that aren't extremely full.
-Pictured in the photos is a full circle skirt so you can see the differences between the styles- personally I feel that some of these pettis aren't really put to best use with a full circle; you can see examples of the pettis in action with more appropriate skirts by following the links at the end of each section.
-I have found that wearing a straight slip under all of my petticoats is the most comfortable.  Even the softest petticoat still gets uncomfortable on bare legs, but most of all I like the extra layer to prevent the fullness from creeping between my legs.  Petticoats have the maximum "fluff impact" if they're layered on top of a slim slip! :-)

I'll do these in order of purchase, so first off is the Hell Bunny Long Petticoat!  This was my first purchased petticoat 4 years ago.  Before that I was making do with home-sewn pettis that were, quite frankly, not worth the agony. Save up, buy a petticoat, and save your energy for a much more worthwhile dress!

Overview- HB petticoats are made of a "chiffon" (actually a sheer knit) nylon with three tiers and a ruffle at the hem.  They have two layers.  The original petticoat comes with a shiny nylon yoke with an adjustable elastic waistline.  Personally, I found the yoke to be far too bulky and rather uncomfortable (I dislike elastic waists).  I removed that portion and made my own fitted cotton yoke.

My experience- This was my first foray into petticoats and I was very pleased, although my enthusiasm has waned over the years...  The petticoat pictured is a good, candid example of what these look like over time.  I wear my petticoats essentially everyday, and these deflate at an alarming speed! As well as deflating, these petticoats also become uneven at the hem rather quickly.  I've had to make alterations to both of mine over the years when sections start peeking out too much from skirt hems.

Upkeep- I wash in a large mesh laundry bag with a normal load. I do stick it in the dryer for a little bit as that will "fluff" it back up to the original level.  Just air-drying adds some fluff, but not nearly as much.  I'm just being brutally honest here, because to tell you the truth- the dryer kills these.  The reason it fluffs up is because it's made from nylon and the nylon is melting a bit.  The nylon eventually melts into giant gaping holes, so that's why my other white HB petti is never fully pictured.  It looks awful. :-(

Layered Hell Bunny Petticoats

The benefit to HB pettis is how well they layer!  For extra fullness, I love wearing two petticoats.

Hell Bunny:


- Versatile amount of fullness- can be good for narrower skirts than a full circle
- Great option for layering


- Bulky original yoke
- Kind of scratchy
- Fullness deflates
- Can have a hard triangle shape when at its fluffiest

These are the petticoats you see the most frequently on the blog.  Up until Dec 2015, they are the *only* petticoats I wore with my blog outfits!  I most frequently just wear one- I typically only wear two with a very full skirt.

Here are photo examples of both:

1 petticoat

2 petticoats

Next up is Malco Mode's Melonie (591) crinoline.  I purchased this crinoline last fall after finally reaching the point of complete disenchantment with my Hell Bunny pettis.  Also, I really wanted something black to wear with my darker winter clothing.

Overview: 5 lightly-gathered tiers of stiff crinoline net, each trimmed with matching satin ribbon.  Thin knit yoke with narrow elasticized waistline.  Lined in stiff, sheer polyester.

My experience: I've been happy with this crinoline and I love how it gives a different shape than the HB pettis!  Adds versatility to my wardrobe. :-)  Also, I really love the ribbon trimming on it- so pretty!  In my experience, this isn't comfortable to wear without the cotton slip.  It is lined, but the lining fabric is still stiff polyester and since the lining is tiered as well, it tends to fall in between my legs.  Apparently I have a vendetta against most yokes, since I'm just not super thrilled with this one.  It is a very period appropriate style, but I would really love to replace it with a sturdy cotton one like I did for the HBs.  It is just loose enough that it drags down sometimes and peeks out.

Upkeep: Not much to speak of so far, but this hasn't received the same amount of wear as the Hell Bunny pettis.  One of the lining tiers started ripping off at the seamline so I had to reattach that.  I still can't figure out why that happened, but I think it's mainly due to the lining fabric- it's prone to major, on-grain tears.

Showing off the lining layer

Malco Modes Melonie:


- Ribbon trimming on each tier- I really do love the look of this one and it's pretty much what my little girl dreams were made of!
- Fullness with no triangle shape tendencies!
- Wears well- fluffiness factor is the same as the day I bought it


- Long.  Like, almost too long.
- Construction so-so.  I've already resewn an entire lining tier that ripped off; otherwise it looks to be good quality.

Photo examples:

Ruthad Square Dance Petticoat

I found this petti at a consignment/vintage store for such a low price that I figured it was worth the gamble!  It is suuuuuuper full (naturally!) and I wasn't sure if it would work well for vintage wear, but it's proved to be a good fit for a few skirts.

Overview: Cotton yoke with wide elastic waistlline.  Four tightly-gathered tiers, each made of a poly fabric with two satin stripes woven in.  I'm pretty sure that each tier is twice as full as the one above it, so this gets super full super fast!

My experience: Due to the extreme shape, this really ONLY works with full circles!  And it only works if it ends right at the hemline!  This petti is pretty short- I typically wear it pulled down on my hips to get it to the right length. Yet again, I truly hate this yoke but that's mainly because this one is so bulky!  Also, the petticoat is heavy since it's made of fabric, so this ends up dragging down.  A sturdy fitted yoke would make this petticoat perfect.  Oh! also, it's hot.  So I don't wear this in the summer!

Upkeep: None so far.  I've worn this the least, due to the limited uses.  I don't anticipate any issues with washing or mending, though!

Ruthad Petticoat


- Great option for full circle skirt
- Well-balanced. Fullness hangs evenly and cleanly (unlike Hell Bunny that gets droopy unevenly)
- The woven satin stripes and exposed gathers make this a very pretty petticoat!


- HOT.  This is made from tons of fabric, so it has minimal breathability.  This does make it really great for winter wear, though.
- Waistline yoke/elastic is very bulky
- Fullness only suitable for full circle or fuller

Photo examples:

Vintage Crinoline

OK, this one isn't super helpful to have as a review since it is vintage and I don't even know where you'd find the supplies to replicate this!  But I feel that it is helpful to have an example of how vintage pettis are definitely an option and greatly broaden the horizon of availability.

Overview: This crinoline is made from three tiers of nylon "horsehair" material- this stuff is literally the same as horsehair braid except that it is woven like fabric instead of being a stretchy bias panel.  I've never seen anything like it.  This crinoline can stand up on its own, but also compresses to fit under a skirt.  The top yoke is lace and closes with buttons, the hem is edged with lace.  I really love the details on this!

My experience: As soon as I first wore this petti, it was instantly my favorite.  I'm in love!  It's a great shape for almost every skirt I have and it's super comfortable.  Bonus- it's completely breathable, so it's by far the most comfortable option for summer!

Upkeep: Due to being vintage, the thread was rotting along the tiers but that was an easy fix to mend since I noticed it before it was an issue!  Due to the unique materials, this will keep its shape until the end of time, so there aren't any issues with laundering. ;-)



- SO breathable and cool!
- Vintage crinolines/petticoats can be very competitively priced


- Now I know how breathable pettis can be and I think all my others are hot. ;-)
- The old thread was rotting so I needed to do some mending

Photo examples:

(1) (2) (3)
Final thoughts:

- Don't be afraid to layer your options!
- Variety is great when it comes to pettis!  Almost every skirt looks best with a different understructure.
- Don't overlook vintage options! I found so many cool ones on a quick Etsy search that I'm actually kind of not wanting to tip you all off on this... I don't really want competition in the Petticoat Acquisition Quest! 
- Yeah, actually, on second thought- don't buy vintage.  Leave them all for me. (or at the very least, share photos when you get something wonderful!)

Happy petticoating!

· All photos, as always, by the inimitable Kathryn! ·


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