Posts Tagged ‘Vintage’

Dress Parade {Ghost}

September 9th, 2011 | By Jen in Frocks & Such | 18 Comments »

Last year I picked up a couple of vintage dresses that needed some serious altering before I could wear them.  Recently I decided to take a break from fall sewing to make the necessary changes; I don’t buy vintage to simply admire or learn from them but to actually use them and these were hanging in the to-do section of my closet for too long!   They are somewhat delicate but I don’t mind, I’ll wear clothes until they fall apart (much to my mom’s chagrin).

One of the frocks mentioned I’ll share with you here.  Post-alterations it’s now my favorite vintage dress!  Once a 1930s floor-length gown it’s now a saucy, ethereal thing.   It has its original hem; I just moved the whole skirt up to preserve the ruffle whilst moving up the waistline too.  The waist before was more fitted (with a side snap closure) but now I can just slip it over my head. (Yay.)  Lately I’ve been making or altering dresses/skirts to make them hit above my knees–a more flattering length for me–but I didn’t want this to be too short.   Since the dress is sheer, my solution was to wear a slip underneath that was quite a bit shorter.  And don’t you love the capelet?  That tie!

Oh, yes, I added some thread belt loops so I can wear a ribbon when it suits my fancy.  (I just read on Coletterie a great post about how to make such belt loops by machine although I make mine by hand.)

I love the look of winter white or cream during the cooler months.  There is almost celebratory about it, especially when contrasted with dark or jewel tones.  (The starry stockings, by the way, are J.Crew tights from the girls’ section that I refashioned.  I no longer have a garter belt and for now they are staying up by sheer willpower.)

New Homes

August 24th, 2011 | By Jen in Frocks & Such | 16 Comments »

I feel as though I have not posted in ages, it feels a bit awkward right now.  Nor have I sewn in what seems like the same length of time.  Everything was business as usual last week, working on my next early fall outfit, when I found myself driving home from the office, witnessing animal abuse, confronting an unfeeling woman, and loading a terrified and confused puppy into the back of my car.  Oh, and then frantically calling a friend exclaiming “WHAT DO I DO NOW?!”  Yea.  But, the wonderful news is, after several stressful and emotional days said puppy is in her new home with her really awesome, new parents.  (Happy face!)

Suffice it to say making clothes was not a priority at the time.  But now my heart has calmed down a bit and I can get back to fun, non-stressful things.  I truly appreciate all of your comments on my last couple of posts!  I don’t think I’ll be able to respond to them at this point unless you had a specific question.  (I might need some time for that.)

So, since I don’t have any new sewing projects to share I want to show you some old things that I picked up at a yard sale a couple of weekends ago.

Three delicate baby dresses (Don’t you love the coral silk dress?  I want a grown up version for myself)…

…and a couple of dishes.

Perfect, old, little dishes.  My favorite is the mermaid green lustreware saucer with gilded stars.  I mean, really?  Love it.


Sewing Projects {Summer Skirt & Bags}

July 28th, 2011 | By Jen in Sewing | 7 Comments »

Another summery project from my favorite skirt pattern, Simplicity 8418.  This pattern is just so good, the possibilities are endless.  (The green is not quite as vibrant as they are in these photos; it’s more like a deep grass green.)

Rounded pockets lined with baby blue and white gingham.

I’ve also converted a couple of vintage pillowcases into grocery bags.  I got tired of the green ones I had.  You know, the ones you get at the store, sometimes for free.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that many stores offer those reusable bags but they aren’t exactly pretty or machine-washable, which is gross.  And who wants to hand wash their grocery bags?  Not me.

I’m ready to move onto fall sewing.  I figure if I start now I’ll actually have new things to wear in time for cooler weather!

Little Prints Dress {Improved}

July 10th, 2011 | By Jen in Sewing | 13 Comments »

You may remember this dress from a post earlier last year.  I loved how it turned out but found it too skimpy for me to wear outside of the house.  Problem was, I didn’t have any more vintage hankies in the same colorway to add to it; I really think the key to this dress not looking too patchwork-y or hippie-ish is limiting the hankies to a common color palette and design theme (florals with a lot of white space).  When I finally found a few more hankies that fit the bill I removed the 3-hankie skirt.  I added a 4th hankie to make the skirt fuller then added a smaller tier of 3 hankies (which were cut down to 4″ tall) on top.  Now it’s much, much better in my opinion!  To complete the look I tied an olive green silk satin ribbon around my waist to give it shape; the un-belted view sort of has a ’20s vibe to it which is nice too.  (By the way, I’m wearing a vintage white slip underneath since it’s still quite sheer.)  I think this crocheted cardigan would look nice on top for when it gets a bit chilly in the evenings.

Dress Parade {Holiday Part 2}

December 6th, 2010 | By Jen in Sewing | 15 Comments »

I meant to post this sooner but last week just flew by and then this weekend – eek!  Worked late Friday night, cleaned all day Saturday and Sunday was spent doing shop stuff which is fun but a lot of work all the same.  Which reminds me – I’ve sold out of Silhouette Holiday cards for this year!  Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.  Now I wish I had ordered more, I hate to turn away lovely customers.  I’ll plan to issue more holiday cards for next season.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff: this dress!  Don’t you LOVE the color?  The picture doesn’t do it justice, the color is so vibrant and rich.  Overall I’m really happy with it.  After years of sewing for myself I now seem to be getting the hang of choosing the right fabric and pattern combinations to make something I’d actually wear in public.

Before I forget, some outfit notes in case you’re wondering:

  • Merino ribbed cardi: Banana Republic (probably from 10 years ago!)
  • Butterfly brooch: Mama’s Little Babies
  • Handbag: vintage (my favorite cozy weather bag)
  • Tights: Hansel from Basel (Finally, I was able to afford these because they were on sale.  I spied them on the lovely Lost in the Forest blog [April's outfits are hugely inspiring and full of personality and fable]).
  • Shoes: Operetta by Fluevog (They’ve had this style for years and years.  These were my “I’ll eat rice for a month so I can buy them” basic black heels.)

I actually wore this outfit the other night when husband and I went out for dinner.  The cardigan is a little snug for this loose 1920s style but I think it works for the most part.  I like the black with the green regardless.

This photo (above) probably best represents the color.  The silk georgette was pretty easy to sew, surprisingly, but not very fun to cut.  So very slippery. I’m sure if you were to lay the pattern pieces on what I cut out, they’d be way off.  Oh well.  Here is the pattern, Butterick #1223:

It’s a junior’s or girls’ dress.  These styles don’t have much shaping anyway so the fit was mostly good.  I followed the pattern except for the capelet.  I like the idea of a capelet but I wanted something less dramatic and created the ruffle from the same pattern piece.  At first I thought it might look clownish but it really works with the cardigan.  I also didn’t follow the directions exactly where it came to putting the front and back together; I couldn’t understand the instructions and winged it.

Oh and I did tweak the keyhole a bit too.  Initially it was just a slit that was to be covered up by the capelet but I rounded it out and extended it, to make it more like a regular keyhole.  I don’t know if it was this change or the pattern itself but there was a lot of weird blouseyness in the bust.  So I had to pick out the keyhole and gather the fabric, hoping that would solve ugly blouseyness and that I didn’t totally destroy the dress.

Lastly, here are the dozens of tucks along the front with the scalloped edge.  This was the best I could do with pressing, perhaps I need to use a cloth and try again.  I was afraid to get those shine marks but ironing too much.

The fabric is dark but very sheer as you can see and while I don’t have a green slip to make (and am too lazy to line my dresses properly) a little black slip did the trick!  And I didn’t freeze while wearing this wisp of a thing with the woolly layers.  Basically I’m stocked up on thick black tights and cardigans so I plan to wear more little dresses this winter.

I hope you enjoyed this dress parade – Happy Monday!

Dress Parade {Holiday Part 1}

November 22nd, 2010 | By Jen in Sewing | 10 Comments »

I know, the last time I was going on and on about dresses it was about little smocks and such.  But you’ll be proud of me because one of these dresses (the above one, actually) is one that I started a year ago, so at least I’m making myself finish what I start!

My intention was to wear this number last Thanksgiving in Texas during our grand “series of fortunate events.”  And while my husband’s family was planning most of the reception activity I was far too frazzled to focus on sewing this dress, especially when the sleeves stopped cooperating.  I finally decided, a year later, to finish it or give it up which was enough motivation to figure out the sleeve issue (ones I drafted myself) and apply the finishing touches.

This is Du Barry 2506B.  Hands down, one of my favorite patterns.  The sleeves in real life were too puffy for me so that’s why I had to change them.  The bow at the neckline was not quite as sweet as the one shown so I used this corally-colored satin ribbon instead.  At first I thought, perhaps, it looked too much like a Girl Scout or pilgrim dress but in these photos I quite like it.  The dark brown dotted swiss is really soft and so comfortable.  I omitted the belt because it looks fine with out it but I can always make one later on.

The next dress is quite different:

I had to blow out the photos because the fabric is so dark; it’s a midnight blue rose-pattern lace.  It’s the kind of lace that has a nice weight and drape and may be a cotton blend (similar to my wedding dress).   I ended up using a slightly darker Petersham (grosgrain) ribbon and kept the look monochromatic.

This style is a departure from my normal look, at least in terms of the sleeves.  I’ve seen them called “wingsleeves” before although I’m not sure if that’s the official term.  Very popular in the 1940s and ’50s they always struck me as being a little bit masculine or angular and therefore was never that appealing.  Over the last few years, however, quite a few vintage patterns with such sleeves have found their way into my stash and I might as well give them a try!

I reduced the width of the sleeves a little but besides that I didn’t have to do much to fit the dress.  The pattern size is too small but even vintage patterns add in a lot of ease and I only had to let out the front darts a little.  The tiny bows at the neckline are something a little extra I wanted to add.  The belt is cut from the pattern; I sewed ribbon along both edges giving it a more finished look while providing extra body.  It closes with a very strong snap and a couple of hooks and bars.  I couldn’t decide how I wanted to finish the belt.  I didn’t have enough fabric to make the belt long enough to accommodate a buckle but I couldn’t find any buttons currently in my stash to decorate it with.  I think it looks OK plain, yes?

Another thing about this dress (that is quite obvious): it’s see through!  I have some pale-colored slips but none would do.   I also have a black one which is suitable enough but I hope to find a navy blue one someday!

I have at least one more holiday dress to share (another one that I started quite a while ago) that I’m finally going to finish.  Stay tuned.

Happy Monday!

Vintage Sweater Clips Tutorial

November 12th, 2010 | By Jen in Free Stuff | 13 Comments »

I’ve been searching high and low for a set of vintage sweater clips or guard that I suit my fancy but to no avail.  Then one evening it dawned on me that I could make some!  I have a large collection of vintage millinery flowers that is oft admired but rarely used and I figured some little velvet flowers would a perfect way to decorate a cozy sweater.

In this post I’ll show you two versions: one with flowers (velvet brown pansies to be precise) and one with tiny velvet bows made from ribbon.

Tools you’ll need:

  • A ruler or something to measure with
  • Scissors (for fabric)
  • Glue (more about this later)
  • Small wire cutters
  • Smooth-nose pliers
  • 4 alligators clips
  • Optional: pinking shears, another set of small pliers and fine grain sandpaper

Supplies to make 1 set of flower clips:

  • Millinery flowers (these pansies are approximately 1″x1.25″)
  • 2 pieces of felt, 1 1/8″ x 3/8″ each, cut with pinking shears (Instead of felt I cut these strips from a damaged millinery leaf.  Just use something that won’t ravel or cause a mess.)
  • 1 piece of Medium-weight chain (4″ chain, approximately 3mm wide, is shown.  You may want a longer or shorter chain for yourself.  Use wire cutters to cut desired length.)
  • 2 - 24mm alligator clips with holes
  • 2 – 5mm jump rings (big enough to hold chain and fit through the holes in the alligator clips.)

1. Optional: if the teeth of the alligator clips seem a little rough you can smooth them out with fine sandpaper (the kind used for jewelry).  Or you can glue tiny pieces of felt or ribbon to the insides; that way your sweater is protected.  Let glue dry.

2. Glue felt strips to the tops of the alligator clips.  Included in the Tools photo above is beading glue which, in hindsight, was not the best choice.   Something like E-6000 would be better: it’s both waterproof and is thick enough to make it easy to work with.  (Just make sure to use proper ventilation!)  I didn’t have any on hand so I just used the glue I had.  Use the alligator clips from the Tools list to hold down the fabric to the clips.  Let glue dry.

3. Attach the chain to the clips with the jump rings.  Use the pliers to open and close the rings.  If you have 2 sets of pliers (one in each hand) this might be easier.

Make sure that the chain is not twisted when you attach the other clip.

4. Squeeze a small drop of glue onto the top of the alligator clip and position flower(s) as desired.  Repeat for other clip.  Let glue dry before attaching to sweater.

Now you have a pretty accessory to wear…or better yet, a nice little homemade gift for a vintage gal!


To make the velvet bow sweater clips you’ll need the same tools as before (except for the pinking shears) and:

  • 1 – 7″ piece of ribbon 3/8″ wide
  • Matching thread
  • 1 piece of Medium-weight chain (I used a 3″ piece for this set.)
  • 2 – 24mm alligator clips with holes
  • 2 jump rings big enough to hold chain and fit through holes in alligator clips

1. Cut Ribbon into 2 – 2 3/8″ pieces and 2 – 1″ pieces.

2. Take one longer piece and fold down the ends to meet in the middle (forming a loop) and sew into place.

3. Take a shorter piece and tightly wrap it around the center of the loop overlapping ends, covering the loop’s ends and sew into place.  (You’ll likely need to trim the short piece of ribbon depending on how tightly you wrap it around the loop.)

4. Repeat #2 & 3 for the remaining pieces of ribbon.

5. Glue each bow to the top on an alligator clip.  Use remaining alligator clips to hold down bows while glue dries.

Of course you can use various other kinds of ribbons too.  Or you may glue other ornaments on your alligator clips like brass stampings, little crocheted flowers, etc.


The Button Changer

November 10th, 2010 | By Jen in Frocks & Such | 6 Comments »

One of the things I did this past weekend, besides re-vamping a couple of vintage pieces, was changing the buttons on a few tops.  It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid.  I don’t know, I guess I don’t really like the buttons that are normally sewn on store-bought clothing.  And it’s such an easy way to freshen the look of a top or dress (while personalizing it too).

I’m sure you’ve seen this sweet blouse (above) before!  I had replaced the broken buttons with red, M&M-like ones when I first bought it.  But then I decided I wanted to use those red buttons for something else (see 3rd photo, below).  I think these foil-backed glass buttons suit this blouse perfectly, in a sweetly fairy tale way.

I recently thrifted a couple of Banana Republic silk blouses which is pretty fantastic since I don’t normally have a lot of luck finding pretty, modern clothes at thrift shops.

Red buttons for the dotted blouse, vintage mother of pearl for the mustard-y gold print.  As I was on a roll, I swapped the plastic buttons with vintage grey and gold glass ones on the creamy-colored sweater.

Oh, before I forget, thank you for your lovely thoughts on my last post!  I hope to wear those gossamer things this fall and winter, perhaps layered with warmer clothes.  AND I’ve got some other fun stuff to post soon including this year’s holiday cards and a sweater clip tutorial.

Happy Wednesday!

Dress Parade {Silvery Grey}

November 8th, 2010 | By Jen in Frocks & Such | 9 Comments »

After an unproductive week, I ticked off quite a few sewing projects from my list over the weekend. (So I’m going to break them down into 2 or 3 little posts.) The first one I’m going to share is this silvery grey 1930s silk dress that I rescued at a local flea market. It is literally coming apart at the seams and for a while there I had it decorating the wall of my studio:

It’s the yellowed and faded blue one on the far left.   Despite, or perhaps because of, it’s sorry state I fell in love.  It’s extremely delicate but I decided that I really wanted to wear it, even if only for a day.  The first step was to do something about the color: I soaked it in a diluted solution of water and Pearl Grey Rit dye.  Then I…

  • Took up the shoulders and gathered the extra collar/capelet where I took them in
  • Cut a foot off the hem (my hem turned out very wonky – yay for bias cut fabric!)
  • Removed a very sad little bow on the back
  • Repaired the major holes, rips and loose bits.

I can’t decided if it needs any embellishment as I sort of love it unadorned.  I thought about lightly stitching on a black satin sash either at the neck or in the back.  Or perhaps using a sash as a belt around the waist.

What else went into the dye bath?  This lovely Edwardian blouse from 1385:

This one started off white and yet took on the same lavender-grey color of the blue dress.  This top is also extremely delicate and I bought it for cheap “as is” because of all the holes in it.  But I had to…

…I cannot get over the details!  This handiwork – can you imagine creating all this from scratch?  I’m crafty but I would not have the patience for or the will to do something like this.

So I fixed the holes:

Little patches.  I got the fabric from the sides as the blouse was too big and there was a big whole under the arm anyway.  I reset the sleeves; I did not re-cut them so they are big-ish but it seemed like more effort than I wanted to spend and I think they look OK.

I know, a lot of work for such a delicate little thing.  But the patches are a nice touch, don’t you think?  I rather like them.

Antique Quilt Inspiration {Sleepy Hollow}

October 26th, 2010 | By Jen in Movies & Books | 11 Comments »


I find the quilt-making process exhausting and yet every time I finish one (not that there have been that many times) I’m already thinking about my next.

Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow is a movie that has certainly grown on me over the years.  (I know I’ve must have mentioned this movie before!)  I love the production design, especially the costumes; Colleen Atwood can do no wrong.  But in the last few years (I watch it annually around this time) I’ve changed my focus to something else: the quilt.


This quilt is one of the prettiest I’ve seen.  The pictures are dark, I know, but I hope you can see what I see.  This simple triangle pattern might be my favorite quilt design.  I’ve seen this type of pattern more often in older quilts, like early and mid 19th C.  What I find most interesting are that the triangle’s bases in one row do not line up with those of the next.  (Unlike the example you can see here.) Instead the triangles themselves line up with the triangles in the second row over.  (Sorry for the possibly convoluted explanation.)   This pattern seems less common than the former, perhaps because it’s more difficult to keep all the rows lined up neatly without having the bases to match up.


Here you can see some detail.  This is also proof that I’m a certifiable sewing nerd: “Folks, forget Johnny – LOOK AT THE QUILT!”  Oh, I even love the shattered pieces and yellowing.  Look at the blue piece by Johnny’s right ear, isn’t it lovely?  (Gosh, I wonder how the art department found such a quilt.  It looks like a genuine antique, doesn’t it?)


Another slightly more awkward image of Johnny, I mean Ichabod, on the quilt.

I’d like to make a quilt like this.  I don’t know if I’d use feedsack or feedsack-like prints or something more Victorian.  I’d probably use colors that are lighter and maybe a little brighter although I really love the ones used in this piece.  Anyway, I don’t know when I’ll make this but I already have some fabric in my stash that would be suitable.  I hope to start this winter.

In the meantime, I’ve got some frocks to finish up and share with you!

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