Wednesday, December 31, 2014

• 2014 in Retrospect •

Being the last day of the year, I decided a recap was in order! This has been an absolutely monumental year for me as far as sewing is concerned. At the beginning of the year, I hardly knew anything about sewing, especially when it came to following patterns and such. All that changed though after I made my first dress (the Walk-away dress, seen below), which happened to be from a reproduction vintage pattern. I was so thrilled with how easy it was to make that it gave me courage to keep going!
I first discovered vintage sewing through Tara's blog, A Lass of Yesteryear, and Lily's blog, Mode de Lis. I was (and still am) so impressed with all of their beautiful, inspiring sewing projects! I discovered through them that the pattern companies had reproduction vintage patterns, so I was very excited and started buying them up. I have had such a passion for vintage and historical styles ever since that I purged my closet of modern clothing for good!
I am so very thankful for the ability God has given me to sew. I can't imagine life without it now!
Here's a roundup of some of the major projects that I have made so far.

All in all, it has been a very successful year. I look forward to (Lord willing) continuing to learn even more in this coming year.
And lastly, thank you, dear readers, for your support and kind words!! You make my day with each and every comment. Thank you all so much! :)
Happy New Year!
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Monday, December 29, 2014

• Floral 1950s Dress •

This dress had a rough start at the beginning, but now it is one of my favorites! I loved the fabric, but never knew what to make out of it. I finally decided on a variation of Vogue V9000, making long sleeves and adding a peter pan collar. I was very excited to make it until I assembled the bodice and realized how terribly bland it was. With no accent colors, it was positively plain. Disheartened, I put it away, sure that I would never like it again.

About a month later, I was longing for something long-sleeved to make, so I pulled it out again to see what (if anything) I could do with it. After agonizing over it for a while, it occured to me that black accents would be just the thing! It didn't take long for me to finish it up after that, and ever since I have loved it immensely!

I used the skirt from Butterick 5920. I didn't do a very noble job of pattern matching on it, but it really isn't noticeable, thankfully. I did, however end up matching the bodice fairly well front and back! Since I was putting long sleeves on the bodice, I had to seam it in the back. The result was quite pleasing!

These glass buttons were a prize find from our local antique store. I received a weekly "Throwback Thursday" email from Blumenthal Lansing in which there was a 1940s ad for LeChic buttons. That very same day I was examining these buttons and realized that they were also LeChic! They are glass, so they shine quite beautifully.

When I made this dress, I had no black piping or black fabric, so I ended up using black seam binding to make piping. It ended up working out very well! 

I found this hat for $4 at the antique store! Although the netting is slightly tattered, it really doesn't show. I never wore the hat much in the past because it had a big cream-colored silk flower on the front that really detracted from it. I finally decided to take it off and replace it with a velvet bow. I'm so glad I did, because now it is a staple in my hat wardrobe!

We finally got done with our sewing room reorganization, so I am deeply enjoying getting back to sewing! I'm currently working on a floral 1940s dress which I am in. love. with. I can't wait to finish it!!
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

• 1860s Christmas Gown •

It's here! At last! The long awaited 1860s post!! We just took the pictures today, otherwise this post would have happened much sooner.
Here's the story about this dress; while we were in Duluth, we went to Hannah Johnson Fabrics. I couldn't make up my mind about what fabric to buy, but then I happened to stroll through the Christmas fabric section. Ordinarily I wouldn't give tuppence for most of those snowman/poinsettia fabrics, but there was one that caught my eye. This beautiful, Christmas-y but not too Christmas-y print. The very moment I laid eyes on it I knew that it would make a perfect "old-fashioned" dress of some sort. At the hotel that night, I was scrolling through Pinterest (of course) and saw this ruffle-icious, beautiful gown. I knew that it was the dress for me! 

Since I knew that I wanted to make a Civil War era dress, I knew that the first step had to be correct underpinnings. I was scared. to. death. of making a corset, but it really wasn't hard at all. I used Simplicity 9769, but made it three sizes smaller than what I ordinarily make my garments. It is highly annoying that Simplicity doesn't tell you to make it smaller - if I hadn't read up on the pattern online ahead of time, I would have been in trouble!
I lined my corset, using pillow ticking for one side and a soft, beautiful, (of course pink) cotton for the other side. We found steel boning at a local colonial-era shop, so that was quite handy!
I intended to use metal grommets/eyelets, but after trying an eyelet out on a sample piece of fabric, there was no way I was going to mar my whole project with one of those dreadful things. So, I jumped onto the bandwagon of hand-bound-eyelet-makers! It was quite easy, however time-consuming.

Then, I went about making my corded petticoat, which I also starched.
Once I had the undergarment department up to speed, it was time to dive into the dress.
It seemed at first like it would be an impossible task to make a dress when I had no pattern for it, but then I looked in the pattern drawer to see what we had. Lo and behold, Simplicity 1818 had the same exact darts and lines as the original dress! That was a victorious moment!!
So I went to work assembling a mockup. Do you think I could be one of the sizes in the pattern packet? Certainly not! I had to be a half size because I always want to do things in the most complicated fashion. Ahem.
I altered the bodice a bit, making the neckline round, lengthening the sides of the bodice and shortening the front. The next dilemma was the sleeves. Despite the fact that the original dress did not have gathered sleeves, I did want gathered sleeves. I used the sleeve pattern piece from Butterick 5831, narrowing them down by 3-4 inches.

Once I got done with all of that figuring, it was time to start cutting. The only problem was, I had 6 yards of fabric, which interprets into NOT ENOUGH! I only had enough for the bodice, skirt and sleeves. Problem. So I started looking online for this fabric, and found the needed 3 yards of it from Lori at Stitches N' Giggles on Etsy. She had it on sale for $6.95 a yard! (I paid $10 per yard originally.) Lori was amazing to work with, answered all of my questions, and shipped the package at the speed of lightning.

I cut the skirt out of three widths of (44") fabric. The front of the skirt is one width, with just two pleats in the front. The back has....yeah. a million. It took alot of ironing, pinning, ironing, pinning, basting, taking out basting, pinning, ironing, measuring, ironing, pinning and basting, but I finally succeeded in getting it just right. So I thought. Until I basted it onto the bodice, when I found out that pleats go a little wonky sometimes. More taking out and putting in of basting. Still no success. At that point, I was getting a little too frustrated to keep working on the dress, so I set it aside and made my calico Regency dress. It was a nice reprieve, which refreshed me enough to get back to this dress the following day. I finally got the pleats to lay right, sewed the seam, and continued on.
I did not have the time nor the knowledge to do a dog-leg opening, so I stooped to putting in a side hook-and-eye closure. I know, it's quite a despicable thing to do. Next time, though, I will attack authentic Civil War dress openings! 

The cuffs are just pieces of fabric (something insane like 35" long) with 18 million pleats. I tacked a ribbon on after finishing the seams. 
I was at a loss to know what to do for a belt. It is hard to tell what exactly the original dress' belt buckle is made of, but whatever it is, I didn't have one. So, I decided to just make a pleated piece of fabric and sew it on for a focal point. It didn't come out altogether bad.

The bodice is lined with muslin, so the neckline was exceedingly fun to finish. Or not. Way too many layers of fabric going on. I did conquer it, however, using a bias self-facing, and tacking it down just like in the picture.
The ruffles on the hem were a long-time undertaking, but so worth it. They add so much to the look of the dress. And, I haven't had to iron them *yet*! Our local fabric shop *just happened* to have 17 yards of the perfect red ribbon leftover from the 4th of July, and it was on sale 40% off. That was an absolute miracle. I was praying the whole time the lady was measuring it, because it did not look like there would be anywhere near enough. God answered my prayers and had there be the perfect amount! Praise the Lord!

^My American Duchess Renoirs!!!^ I love them sooooo much. They're absolutely comfortable, and so beautiful!! I am extremely happy with them. Thank you to Chris and Lauren for the amazing shoes!!

Our "trying to look serious" pose. 
My mom made a Christmas dress as well, which she'll be posting on her blog in a few days.

As you can see, we really had an amazingly snowy day to take pictures in. It was something like 60 degrees out, and sunny, and green, and brown. Oh well. 
I'll be back next week, hopefully, with another dress post!
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Monday, December 22, 2014

· Make Do and Mend · Baby Dress ·

*Note: I will have the 1860s gown pictures up here tomorrow. Thanks for bearing with me!*
A friend of mine who has a little 3-4 month old gave me the sunshade off of her baby carrier because it had broken. Naturally, I had to make something for the baby out of it!! I had a couple of fat quarters in the stash that matched quite nicely, so I combined them with the ruffle to make a pint-sized pillowcase dress. I have yet to make something out of the pink chevron from the sunshade, but I'm sure I'll find something to turn it into. 

The body of the dress is from just one fat quarter, and I used part of the other one for the facings and the ties. 

I wished I could have turned the fabric into something vintage-y, but between the lack of material and the chevron pattern, it wasn't really possible. I was able to practice my pattern-matching skills on the side seams, however. I only wish it would be so successful on other garments! :)

I'll be back tomorrow with the 1860s pictures!
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Monday, December 15, 2014

· 1930s Jabot Dress ·

It seems like forever ago that I made this dress, but I just got around to photographing it last week! When I realized that it was not windy out for a change, and not too cold [30 degrees isn't too cold?!], I decided to take up the opportunity to get some dress pictures. Believe it or not, the only part of me that was cold was my hands! They were rather frozen however, which rendered piano-playing a little difficult afterwards.
 This fabric was intended for my Emma Timmins ensemble, but its fate changed when, in a moment of frustration, I declared that I simply *must* have a 1930s wintry dress. Enter Vogue 8767. Although this fabric would have made a beautiful 1890s dress, I really love it in this pattern.

I have also made this jacket in pink paisley. I have rather a love-hate relationship with it for some reason, but today, at least, I do like it. I had to alter it slightly (which I also did with the pink one post-photo session). The fit of the jacket was terrible around the waist, so I took three 1-inch tucks in the back. It was somewhat of a gamble because of the design; I didn't really know what it was going to look like, but it ended up working famously! Although the next size down might work without adding tucks, I think that they actually make the jacket look better.

I finally got brave enough to wear my blue hat! It is affectionately known as the Barney Fife hat around here...

....ahem. I love my hat, but I can't help thinking about Barn when I wear it.
"Don't tell my daughter-in-law!"

I unfortunately didn't have any vintage buckles when I made the dress, so I had to settle for a pretty store-bought one. It coordinates quite nicely with the jacket buttons!
These lovely gloves came from our favorite antique store for just a couple dollars. Vintage gloves that fit are a rare find!

Although this is a 1930s pattern, I feel like it is a transitional dress; not too 1930s, but not really 1940s either. It doesn't really look very 1930s, other than in the skirt design. I like it a lot though, in fact, it is one of a very few things I've made which I actually have no complaints about! That is extremely rare for me since I'm always scrutinizing my projects.

The front of the dress has a slit opening that closes with two hooks and eyes. That design seemed a little goofy when I was making it, but it stays closed all the time.

I got these lovely shoes at Modcloth while they were on sale. They're moderately comfortable and match quite a few different outfits! 

I promise that I will have the 1860s photos up here next week! I've been waiting for a nice snowy day, and as of yet, that hasn't happened. Whether it comes or not, however, I'm going picture-taking!!

We're in the midst of a major sewing room reorganization, but as soon as that is done, I am diving into a flowery, gorgeous, quintessentially 1940s dress. I am so excited to make it that I can't even see straight!!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

• 1860s Christmas Gown • Sneak Peek •

It's done. At last!! I finished my Christmas gown after weeks of dreaming, planning, and sewing. We haven't had a chance to take pictures of it on yet, so hopefully these will tide you over until then. 9 yards of fabric, 20 yards of ribbon, and 13 pearl buttons all rolled into one fabulous, ruffly, fluffy, festive dress!

And if that's not exciting enough, how about this; guess who got new American Duchess Renoirs?

They are AMAZING!! So comfortable, so gorgeous, and so 1860s! I can't wait to do our photo shoot!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

• Regency Calico Gown •

Amidst the stress and involvement of my 1860s Christmas dress, I was starting to get a little overwhelmed, so I decided to save this half-done regency gown from the terrors of UFO-land. I had started this dress months ago, but decided part way through the assembly of the bodice that I wanted to do something a little different.

When our local fabric store got this beautiful print in, I bought a yard of it for an apron, but realized soon after that it would make a gorgeous dress. I went back the very next week, and the basically-full-bolt had shrunk down to five yards. I snapped those up instantly, as you might imagine. It is one of those tiny-print fabrics that is irresistible to me.

I used the Simplicity 4055 pattern, like my last regency dress, but I cut the neckline three inches lower so that it would be compatible with a chemisette. The bodice closes with a drawstring at the neck and the waist. This dress screams for undersleeves, which I have partially made, but they are dangerously close to UFO-land at the moment. I sewed the buttons on too close to the top of the undersleeves, apparently, because they gape dreadfully between each button. *sigh* Does anyone have an amazing way to make undersleeves fit right?

I am always in a pinch when it comes to hairstyles, so I was glad to try my hand at a turban. I didn't have much luck at first, but then I read what Lily said about tying a turban; willy-nilly. It worked! Whether I can ever do it again or not.....who knows.

I found the lace for this dress at our favorite antique store, never realizing that it matched so well until this past weekend. That was truly a thrilling moment!

Well, now it is back to work on the ol' 1860s gown! I still have to bind the neck, put in buttons, finish the cuffs, sew in hook-and-eye tape (cheater...), and sew on the ruffles. (And sew a belt). But I'm coming right along, and the hardest part is out of the way.

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