Tuesday, December 29, 2015

• 2015 in Retrospect •

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas! We had a fun time of relaxation, baking and making (way too many) cookies and sweets, watching movies, and playing games.

I made gingerbread cookies for the first time ever, and loved them! I used Lily's recipe and found it to be easy to make and very tasty.

I also made my traditional Christmas-time toffee! I was thrilled that it turned out good this year!

My dad has been making fudge for...well...longer than I've been alive, I think. So it's a definite tradition in this family to always have Dad's fresh black walnut fudge at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is just about the most delicious thing you'll ever taste. :)

And lastly, we made our traditional Christmas sugar cookies!
The recipe originally came from my great-grandma, and it is a keeper! We made....only about 150 cookies. Just a few. ;)
They freeze very well, so they're fun to pull out throughout the year and enjoy.


Meanwhile, it's time to look back at 2015! It's hard to believe another year has gone by already!
It's been a good year overall; when trials come, you feel like it's been the one of the longest and worst years ever, and you're ready for next year to be a very good one (which is still always nice thought!). But once the trials are over, you realize that there was a purpose in them, and that they were actually for your benefit and learning.

But it's been especially good on the seamstress-y side of things!
I made quite a few garments, while of course at the same time making plenty of messes, plenty of mistakes, plenty of UFOs, but also plenty of memories. The Lord has been very bountiful! :)

first row: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
second row: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
third row: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
fourth row: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

To celebrate the new year, my Etsy shop is on sale through January 1st! Use coupon code WELCOME2016 to receive 16% off your purchase.

May you all have a Happy New Year! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for the coming year. 

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

• 1940s Christmas Plaid Dress •

And now for Christmas Dress #2!!! :)

Maeberry Vintage was having a sale several weeks ago, and when I saw this adorable dress, I just couldn't resist it. 1940s. Right size. Right length (!!!!). And the only issue was a couple of teeny stains on the third scallop from the top. Thankfully, they washed out so well that they are hard to even locate. The fun part is, the brand name is Fruit of the Loom! I have a feeling they don't make dresses like this anymore. 

I was definitely born in the wrong era.

The design of the dress is fairly simple, but SO cute!! I love the little bias-bound scallops, and the black buttons are the perfect touch.

The neckline is quite fun too!

I was able to let the hem down around an inch, which made it the perfect length. (And I sewed on rayon seam binding....I LOVE that stuff!!)

The waist length of the bodice is a tad short, but I borrowed the green belt from my Kerrybrooke 1950s dress to hide that fact. :)

And in case you were wondering, yes, it is made of diagonal plaid fabric! My mom is planning to make a dress just like this out of some diagonal plaid fabric that she bought, so we were very curious to see if this dress was bias or straight-grain.

I wasn't intending to make yet another Christmas dress, but it sort of happened anyway! :) I pulled out the leftover plaid fabric from my Pleated 1900s Skirt and managed to squeeze a dress out of it! So now I'm all set in the Christmas dress department. No shortage of things to wear this season!! ;)

The side opening on this dress is absolutely ingenious. The buttons on the front are just decorative; they don't unbutton, so there has to be a way to get in the dress, right? Well, I naturally assumed that the dress had a zipper, but I was definitely mistaken! Instead it has one of the niftiest side openings I've ever seen!

The dress has a pocket on the right side, so when you look at the left side, you think that it just has a buttoned pocket. Wrong! It's actually a gusset-like opening that unbuttons and gives you enough room to take the dress on and off.

This has got to be the niftiest thing I've ever seen! I can't wait to try it on one of my dresses!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

• 1950s Peppermint Dot Christmas Dress •

Last week I said I hoped I would be posting “Christmas dress progress” because I never thought I’d have this dress done so soon! But I do! Yay!!! It's always nice to be able to wear a Christmas dress during the Christmas season, right? ;)

And I'm happy to say that Christmas dress #2 (a vintage 1940s dress that is, well, gorgeous!) just arrived in the mail yesterday, so that should be up on the blog next week!

I have always loved this fabric, so when it went on sale a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t resist it. Novelty prints always seem to me like they belong in 1950s dresses, so I knew I would have to make a ‘50s dress out of it. However, I only ordered 3 yards of the fabric, so having an all-peppermint dot dress was not going to happen. I had planned on pairing the peppermint fabric with some solid red fabric, but didn’t end up having enough of the solid red either! I happened to take a peek in the fabric cabinet and randomly pulled out this red polka dot fabric, never expecting that it would actually match. Wasn't I excited when I saw that it actually did!!! :)

 I had originally planned on making a pleated skirt, but after experimenting around and finding that not only a pleated skirt, but also just about every skirt I could think of would not fit on that amount of fabric! Or if something did, it wasn’t nearly as full as I wanted it to be. I finally pulled out Simplicity 1250, and it actually fit on the fabric *just barely*! I did end up narrowing it down just a tad, but it only amounted to a couple of inches less fullness. And I LOVE this skirt! It’s full enough to look lovely with a petticoat, but still looks nice without one. Bonus! :)

The bodice is based off of Simplicity 1459 (we call it the “fall dress bodice” because that’s the first dress we made with that pattern. I suppose if we wanted to get all technical, we’d call it our “bodice sloper.”). The neckline is from Simplicity 2154, and the sleeves are from the 1459 pattern. Confusing enough? I thought so. ;)

I made the collar (Simplicity 2154) 1/2" bigger on three sides; it needed to be bigger to accommodate the lack of a bow-and-knot in the middle, of course. Plus, I wanted it to be a bigger collar in general, so I made it 1/2" bigger on the outside (round) edge. And lastly, since I was making it larger in circumference, I figured it would need to be bigger on the bottom (outside) edge in order to lay right, so I cut it 1/2" bigger on the back bottom edge, tapering to no extra at the neck edge. It was somewhat of a guess about how much to add, but it ended up being the perfect amount. Hurrah! :) And I love the size of the collar; it somehow feels a little bit more '50s fabulous!

I really really wanted winged cuffs on the sleeves, but I also really really wanted to be able to wear a sweater with it since it *is* a Christmas dress, so I had to forego them. *tear*
So instead, I made band-like "cuffs" that were simply sewn on right-side-to-wrong-side and then topstiched in place. It worked quite well, and now it's not only fun but also sweater-friendly!

This fabric is just so cute. I really do love it. And my favorite part about it is, even though it's very Christmas-y, it also can pass as just a very candy-themed dress, so I can actually wear it year-round! Yesssss! :D

This green buckle from our last antique haul adds a pop of accent color.

These buttons.
I love them.
And they were actually my own idea!! :)
At some point in time while thinking about buttons, I realized that covered buttons made out of the fabric itself would be just right! They really do add even more peppermint-y fabulousness to the dress, which was pretty much the whole idea! They were quite fun to make, although a little tricky to get centered just so. If I had it to do over again I would eliminate the red-on-red buttons because they just don't show up as good as the others do. But that's a pretty small complaint for a whole dress, right? ;) 

If only there was snow to go with how cold it felt outside yesterday! I'm sure it will come as soon as we have all our Christmas dress picture-taking out of the way. ;)

Have a lovely week, and thanks for visiting!
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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

• Brown & Cream 1940s Separates •

Believe it or not, I didn't forget about the fact that I have a blog! It just seems that way! ;)
I've been so busy ever since Thanksgiving (and before!) that I kept putting blogg-y things off until later, which translated into them not happening at all! Oops!

I am glad to be back into it though, and I can't wait to share my upcoming projects with you! A couple of Christmas dresses are in order, but I had better hurry up or I'll miss getting to wear them for Christmas entirely!

Last week our church had a Christmas banquet, so I whipped up a blouse (and a skirt) to wear to that. Unfortunately for me, the skirt didn't end up fitting, but fortunately for you, it's now for sale in the shop! :) Check it out here. I ended up wearing my '30s flannel skirt with it for the banquet, but the blouse matches pretty much all of my skirts, including Grandma's wedding skirt! I realize I did sort of break my vow not to wear it until I had the jacket made, but...you know...who can help wearing a pretty skirt that's just hanging there in their closet?!

I made the blouse out of the same fabric as Grandma's wedding blouse, which is a poly-rayon blend. It is very soft and comfortable, but not so fun to deal with! It does not take kindly to any stress on the seams, so I'm going to have to do a little fixing-up on a couple of them. :( GRR. Rayon is on my hate list right now.

But aside from that lovely little fact, I still really do love this blouse!!

I used Simplicity 2154 for the bodice, using Simplicity 3847 as a guide for the armhole and shoulder areas in order to accommodate sleeves. The sleeves are from Butterick 5846 (like my green and cream 1940s dresses).
I made the bow on the blouse quite a bit longer, and a little wider so that it would be "deliciously drapey." Ahem. ;)
I also cut the collar rounded on the front edges rather than pointed for a more 1930s-40s look.

Although Simplicity 2154 is technically a 1960s pattern (oh dear! 1960s!), it is very handy for making a variety of blouses and bodices from the '30s-50s. And the bonus is, it's as easy as pie to make! :)

I'm also a big fan of this skirt! It too was exceedingly easy to make, and fits quite well. Just for the record, I have worn it with Grandma's wedding blouse...just not for pictures yet. Maybe I'll reserve that honor for when I get the suit made.

I was going to entitle this post, "Of Dead Monkeys," but I thought it might throw everyone off a little bit. ;)

A few weeks back when I wore this fur piece to church, one of the little girls there saw me and said, "That looks like a dead monkey!" Another little girl piped in, "It does look like a dead monkey!"
I proceeded to explain to them that it was a mink, and a vintage one from the 1940s at that, to which they replied, "What's a mink?"

So now we have a name for these little fellas; Dead Monkeys. Very endearing, don't you think?

I'll be back next week with (hopefully!) progress on my peppermint-y Christmas dress! See you then!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

• Thanksgiving SALE! •

It's time for a sale! Starting today through Monday, November 30th, save 25% off in my Etsy shop using the coupon code THANKFULNESS.

I've added a few new items of late as well, so be sure to stop by and check it out.

Happy shopping and Happy Thanksgiving! :)

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Monday, November 23, 2015

• Life of Late •

Life has been crazy for the last couple of weeks, hence the un-announced break from blogging! The main reason was that my sister was in the hospital, quite literally at death's door. She has and did have very bad lung problems, with one lung being completely dead, and the remaining lung being very badly infected. Her prognosis was not good, but thanks to God, she has made a full recovery. Praise the Lord for miracles!! She went from being in ICU on a ventilator to being at home on an oxygen bottle in just a week or so, with the infection being completely cleared up.

In any case, the stress of that situation had us all in very unproductive moods, so I haven't exactly sewn up a storm! Needless to say, our 18th century outfits went on the back burner, and will have to be resumed after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, we're busy with cleaning the house and getting ready for Thanksgiving and company, which means I'll get to see my new little niece again! (She's the one who the gifts were for).

 In the mean time, here's a few pictures of what has been happening around here;

Snow. SNOW!!!!!!!

I absolutely love winter, so the 6 inches or so that we got made me exceedingly happy. And the way it coated the trees made me even happier. :) I like snow.
No, actually I love snow.

I did manage to sew a couple of baby projects last week! Shocking!
The first one was this adorable blue dress, made from a 1940s pattern. Believe it or not, I wanted this fabric for a dress for myself SO bad, until I realized that it had tiny baby rattles all over it. Then I was glad I hadn't bought it. ;)
It makes for the cutest little dress though, don't you think? It's a size 2, and I only lengthened it...you know....six inches. Hardly any.

The other was this adorable (wait, I already said that!) really cute yellow dress! It is the epitome of girliness; I just love it! It is made of leftover fabric from my yellow 1940s dress, and the fun part is, I still have enough left for a bonnet or diaper cover! :)
Once again, I lengthened this dress something like six inches. I don't know why people thought little girls had to wear dresses that barely covered their cute little diapers! Goodness!
As with all of the little dresses I make, I just serge the hem edge so that one day when I have said munchkins (Lord willing!), I can hem them to the necessary length.

I just love making little clothes! And yes, just in case you were wondering, I AM going to make little boys' clothes. Eventually.
I just keep being drawn towards these fluffy little dresses.
Must think overalls!

To see the other projects for little ones I've made in the past, click here.

I'll be back next week (hopefully!) with a real post! In the mean time, have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving! 

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Friday, November 6, 2015

• 18th Century Sewing •

It has taken a long time for this to come about, but we're finally sewing 18th century garments!! At last!! 
Last month, Lily of Mode de Lis listed the JP Ryan stays pattern in her Etsy shop. It was the right size and a good price, so we bought it! It dawned on us shortly afterward that it would be fun to make colonial outfits for Thanksgiving, so we have since started working on our outfits, from the inside out (of course!).

Incidentally, the stays don't really look like anything on Thelma Lou, but that's because she just simply isn't cinch-able. 

We had a nice piece of striped ticking that worked great for the outside of our stays (the same fabric is used on my mom's stays). The "interfacing" of mine is linen; hers is cotton duck.

If you're my friend, you won't look too closely at the binding.....

The stays came together very easily, with the hardest part being sewing on the binding. I'm not exactly itching to make another pair of stays any time soon after that experience! I can only imagine how dreadful it would be to bind them with leather! Ugh!! My fingers would never forgive me if I tried something like that.

I really (really) didn't want to use reed at all for boning; the idea of having it break and having to replace it was NOT a good one to me. So I used 1/4" steel boning instead, and only boned a little over half of the corset. (That still ended up adding up to around 50 bones!) I put boning in next to all the seams, in the tabs, and other essential areas, and the rest was basically just in every other casing. I did sew boning casings all over the entire stays, however, because I found that it added a lot of stability.

I would definitely recommend purchasing the stays pattern one size smaller than your actual measurements. I did, and my stays lace up to within about 1 1/2-2" of each edge right off the bat.

I am a definite fan of this pattern though, as far as 18th century stays go! I absolutely love how the back extends much farther up in the back than the front. And the fact that they have no straps makes them actually practical to wear.

The fabric I lined my stays with is a reproduction quilting cotton (from 1855, incidentally, but it's pretty enough, I really don't care!). It's the same fabric as my garters and the lining of my reticule. You could say I like this fabric. :) In fact, I like it so much, I'm planning on getting more for an 1855 dress!

Eyelets! Their misshapen-ness gives them character. 
Right??! ;)

These first pictures show the stays and petticoat over my regency chemise; I hadn't sewn my colonial chemise yet when I took the pictures, so that's why.

In any case, the next layer is my plain gathered petticoat, which will be handy for several different eras!

My colonial chemise is made of muslin. We didn't have any linen on hand, or a place to buy it nearby, or the time to order it, or the inclination, so we just fudged it with muslin. It works for starters! 

I made it using my self-drafted chemise pattern (yes, I'm still prodigiously proud of myself for coming up with it, especially since I did so very early on in my sewing experience!). The sleeves have gussets, and all the seams are flat-felled.

The sleeves are ridiculously long in these pictures because they have not been hemmed yet. We figured it would make sense to wait until we have our jackets made so we can decide on the exact sleeve length we want. In the mean time though, they just look ridiculous! But that's fine! :)

I embroidered a pink "E" (a fancy one this time!) on the front, but this time I actually had a good excuse! My mom's chemise is exactly the same, so we had to have something to differentiate between the two. Hers, of course, has "Mom" embroidered in blue on the front. ;)

Ahh! The petticoat! I have had this thing partially assembled for....a long time. About a year, in fact! Evidence that I've been wanting to sew 18th century outfits for ages! :)

I had to redo the pleats at the waist though, because the original ones I had made were too big. I seem to have a mental block for figuring out pleats, so I'm always just trying to guess at how big and far apart to make them. Luckily for me, my first guess was the right one! Score!! :)

The petticoat is made out of linen, very nice quality linen, as a matter of fact! It's very nice and thick but also has a nice fine weave. It is about 135" around (equivalent to 3 widths of fabric), but cut crosswise so I could just seam it at the sides for pocket openings. And the 45" width of the fabric makes for the perfect length petticoat once it's hemmed! (No, neither of the petticoats are hemmed....just in case you were wondering!)

(Yes, Thelma Lou's stays disappeared! I didn't feel like taking the laces out just to fit them over her again, so she went without this time) 

The front pleats are pleated towards the center, while the back pleats go the opposite direction. The waistband is also linen, but a different, heavier weave than the main fabric. 

The way 18th century petticoats tie at the waist is so fun! I love how adjustable they are.

Incidentally, since I took these pictures, I started tossing around ideas for a bum roll, and tried socks, as Lily suggested. I really love how it looks! It adds just enough volume to look good, without being as voluminous as a freight train! ;)

On a side note, I didn't forget about hanging pockets! I'm working on embroidering mine, but haven't finished yet. Actually, I'm only on the first one, and I'm still trying to find a legitimate excuse to leave one of them un-embroidered. I haven't come up with anything yet. ;) I enjoy the embroidery, but it's the freehand drawing-on of the pattern that is not my favorite pastime. 

This cap is....rather unorthodox. I used the Kannik's Korner cap pattern, but unfortunately chose some rather too heavy linen to make it. By the time I was half done, I knew it wasn't going to work very well, so I decided to just go ahead and finish it on the machine. It turned out fairly well, considering, and it will work until I find some suitable cap fabric. It's fun to wear, even if it isn't made right! :) And it stays on miraculously well! The only problem is trying to smash my hair into submission under there!

Confession time; I am guilty of committing the ultimate trespass any seamstress can commit. 
I bought a cloak! Dreadful, isn't it!! ;)
I wanted a cloak really bad, but after searching high and low for wool, I decided that it would be cheaper to just buy one than to make one. So I went ahead and purchased the Short Cape from Jas. Townsend. I am very happy with it! The 24" long description makes it sound *so* short, but it is actually the perfect length, and much longer than one would imagine! It falls right at wrist length, which is ideal for being able to still do things without fighting the cloak. AND, it's SO soft and warm.

It has a lovely little collar, and the most beautiful pewter clasp. Jas. Townsend makes their own pewter clasps, in fact! Bonus! :)

It is lined with coordinating blue cotton. I was reading this article about cloaks while I was researching them, and I found it very helpful! Although there aren't very many things niftier than a long cloak, the shorter length really is more practical! And just like the article says, you can swing the front edges back over your shoulders if you get too warm without being strangled. And avoiding strangulation is always nice! ;) 

Ever since I bought my cloak, I've been suffering from a severe case of cloak addiction. So much so, in fact, that I took out a UFO skirt I had in the drawer of shame and refashioned it into a cloak! I can't wait to share photos of that, but I'm determined to wait for a suitably snowy background to take pictures. And at 60-70 degrees, that's not likely to happen just yet. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! :) We're having a blast sewing these outfits. And we can't wait to get started on our jackets....whenever the pattern gets here!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

• 1950s Gumdrop Dress •

I'm so excited about today's post!! This is definitely one of my favorite dresses I've ever made. The print is SO fun and cheerful. I actually made this dress early on this year, but didn't finish it until just a couple of months ago.

When I saw this fabric at our local quilt shop, my heart absolutely skipped a beat. I LOVED it. And so did everyone else, apparently. It was one of those fabrics that comes in one week, and two weeks later the whole bolt is gone. Well, thankfully I was the one who got the last 5 yards! :) Boy am I glad!
For some reason, ever since I first laid eyes on this fabric, it just said "gumdrop" to me. So the Gumdrop Fabric it is! I already have a 1940s gumdrop dress, which you can see here. The prints are slightly different, but they both just look so....gum-droppy! :)

Since I had juuuuust barely 5 yards, it was a tight squeeze fitting all the pieces in for this dress! I used Butterick 5920, just making the sleeves and the skirt longer. Everything was going great until I figured out that the only way the skirt would fit in was if I put one of the back pieces going the opposite direction of all the other pieces. GRRR. It still bugs me. But it worked, and really isn't noticeable. The only difference between the two directions is the little flower stems that end up slightly different going one way versus the other.

The first time I ever tried matching a pattern was when I made this dress. It seemed to me, all I had to do was cut out the pieces that needed to match exactly the same, and then they would end up matching! Right? WRONG!!!
As you can imagine, my seams were quite interesting. Thankfully, the pattern was fairly close on the front skirt, so I could just sew the seam in a little bit and end up with it matching tolerably well.
Needless to say, I now know that that's not the way to match up a pattern. ;)

I had loads of trouble when I was working on the neckline. The pattern packet shows the neckline looking something like a Japanese throwing star (our affectionate name for it...very official, I know). However, when it came right down to it, it was nearly impossible to get a "V" in the middle at all. It took a lot of finagling and overlapping much less than I was supposed to to get the tiny "V" that I have.
My mom had the same problem when she made her version of this dress (to be blogged soon!), but I haven't seen anything about anybody else having trouble with it. In any case, the nasty neckline problems were the reason this dress sat around being a UFO for a month or two before I finally decided to tackle it! It was worth the effort though.

Although I always wanted gumdrop-looking buttons (yes, in different colors!), I never found any, so I had to settle for these lemony confections. Our Bakelite buckle seemed like the perfect accent for the belt.

These gloves are on the top 5 list of my most prized vintage possessions. They're SO gorgeous. I love them. So much!
They're in perfect condition, I got them for dirt cheap, and the style!!!! I love the button detailing, as well as the prick-stitched piping around the edges. And they happen to match this dress SO perfectly. Mmmm. I love them. ;)

About a month ago, I happened to glance at the Tatyana site, and saw that the Braid Purse was on sale! We of course bought it immediately. The $11 or so shipping makes the price a little less exciting, but it's still a good deal. I really like the purse; it's very roomy, and matches a surprising amount of outfits. It's quite sturdy as well, and I like the front clasp opening....as is evident in the next picture. ;)

We were having such fun taking these pictures! :) When I saw this one, I couldn't resist turning it into a little vintage purse ad.


Last, but not least, there's a sale going on in my Etsy shop! Use the coupon code AUTUMN15 to receive 15% off your purhcase!
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