Posts Tagged ‘white’

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.)

To-Dos Checked Off My List {’60s Red & White}

April 27th, 2011 | By Jen in Sewing | 12 Comments »

I mentioned the other day on Facebook that I was going to start going through my sewing to-do pile.  I can’t help but collect pretty vintage things that need repair or alterations, or start and stop sewing projects.  But then I end up with many garments (things that languish at the bottom of my fabric stash for months, years even) that could be rather fetching when done–eep, if they ever do!  It’s a bad habit I’m trying to break; alas, it’s difficult since I get so excited by new ideas and outfits.

Please excuse the crappiness of these photos.  Taking pictures of one’s self can be quite the challenge and it’s something I haven’t taken the time to master.  I’m for sure making the goofiest faces in these so I must continue to bombard you with headless images.  (Oh, but don’t you love this bag?  It was a bargain and a birthday gift to myself last year!)

First up: this $5 1960s blouse.

I don’t like long sleeved blouses and there was a stain near one cuff anyway so I just chopped the sleeves off to create short ones.  The hems stuck out in a funny way so I threaded some 1/4″ elastic through them.  I thought about changing the buttons and maybe even widening the neckline but that’s a lot of work and I think it looks OK as is, especially if I leave the top button undone. (I don’t like tight necklines; I feel too closed up!)  The rows of lace and eyelet are the best parts.

Now the skirt:  I started to make this before Christmas, from vintage Simplicity pattern #7869 (View 5, specifically):

It’s of fine wale red corduroy.  I didn’t finish it in time for the holidays because, ha, I gained some weight and could not zip it up!  (Yes, before the sugar cookies and turkey and such.)  Shame-faced, I tucked it away only to find it again while reorganizing my fabric stash.  (Which is something I have to do periodically as it can get quite messy and chaotic in there.)  Thankfully I’ve lost that extra cushion around my middle and was delighted to find that the skirt fit; all I had to do was hem it.  The hips seem a bit big now and I wish I had clipped and notched the seams of the waistband  a lot more (especially in the front) since the thickness of the fabric is creating a ridge that is a little too obvious for my liking.  Oh well, not all my projects need to turn out perfectly and at least it’s wearable!  (I was, however, able to install the zipper in one take which is pretty darn fantastic as that’s one of my least favorite things to do and it’s always a headache for me.)

I do like how the vintage ivory and gold buttons look against the red:

It’s a bit like Christmas in the spring!

Spring Colours Week {White}

April 8th, 2011 | By Jen in Whatnot | 7 Comments »

This post concludes Poppytalk’s Spring Colours Week.  It makes me a wee bit sad to see this end; it’s been rather enjoyable to poke around the house and find things to snap, organized by color.  Plus there have been so many beautiful images posted.  Thanks to Jan and everyone at Poppytalk Handmade for coming up with such a splendid idea!

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Paper and Glitter Take Flight

April 13th, 2010 | By Jen in Art | 8 Comments »


This is what I was working on in my last post – little paper swans with movable wings!  Oh, these were fun to make and very satisfying.

It has been years (literally) since I played with gouache paint and I was quickly reminded how tricky of a medium it can be.  It doesn’t seem like it would be but I had gotten so used to painting with watercolor that applying paint in this fashion felt a little uncomfortable.  But you know what they say about discomfort and growth!


Anyway, do they look familiar?  I based the design off of my Leda the Swan (sewing pattern).   I really love vintage-style soft things and characters and I tried to capture that  in this paper birds with their thick lashes, simple design and sparkly-ness.  (Isn’t glitter the best thing ever?)  After I took these photos I punched holes at the top and added some gold thread so that I may hang them up.


They like to hang out (ha!) with Peter Rabbit, for now.  I might need to make a flock of these, yes?  That’s a distinct possibility.  And once I got started making these swans,  I thought such things might find themselves quite at home in le shop.


Hee hee, can’t you tell I had fun taking pictures of these?

A lovely Tuesday to you!

New Poll: Genuine Vintage or Reproduction?

August 11th, 2009 | By Jen in Frocks & Such | 4 Comments »


I don’t recall if I ever mentioned that there will be polls on this blog besides in my Twitter feed.   One recently ended and I just put up another at lunch today, see the sidebar. —>

Just a fun little thing to do!  This poll asks the question, “Vintage: The Real McCoy or Reproduction?”  I’d love to know your thoughts!

Last night I designed the invitations for our “non-reception” wine and cheese party that we’ll hold in October.  I’m feeling pretty lucky, I mean how many people get to design multiple themes for their wedding? ;)   It helps that I’m not letting myself over-design anything.  October will be the perfect time to have a gathering at our place – the weather will most likely (*knock wood*) cooperate but still be warm and comfortable.  Plus the party will have an autumnal theme which is a nice way to kick-start the holiday season.

Today I’m finally working on some shop stuff!  It’s been so long it seems, as if I forgot that I’m trying to put up my Liette shoplette.  So many ideas have been swimming and pooling inside my head, it’s about time they come out.

Oh, and yes, the wedding photos are coming!  I’m hoping to post them by next week.  The wonderfully sweet and talented photographer is processing them right now.  So I don’t want to show you any of our own point and shoot homegrown photos until you see the official ones – I hope you love them, I have a feeling you might!

AND thanks for all the well-wishing and comments lately.  It really warms my heart, the thoughtful things you say.  I love logging in in the morning to read a kind thought here and there and I feel extremely fortunate that such nice people visit my blog.  I know I’m behind in responding, with the wedding and all but I’ll remedy that soon!

Ok dears, enjoy the poll!

Sewing Your Modern, Old-Fashioned Dress
{Part 3: The End!}

August 9th, 2009 | By Jen in Sewing | 6 Comments »


This is the last post for the Modern, Old-Fashioned dress.  At last!   It’s been a busy Sunday morning trying to finish up this lesson.  This post is very image-heavy so please don’t despair if this takes forever to load! (And sorry for the blurry first image, this is the only one.)

This post finishes up the dress, modified Built by Wendy pattern #3835, with the customized elasticized waist and ruffle hem.

Elasticized Waist

When I’m sewing for myself, I find it helpful to wear a full slip.  This way I can put on and take off the dress I’m making with ease and I can feel like I’m “decent” at my sewing machine, between fittings.  Of course, this is purely optional and if you enjoy sewing in your underwear, more power to you.

Ok, put on your dress and take the tie/sash that you plan to use as a belt.  I’m using 1″ Petersham ribbon; I’ll turn under the raw edges and hand sew them.  To finish your belt, you could also pink the edges or use Fray Check (But be careful because on some fabrics, Fray Check darkens the colors).

Tie the belt around your natural waist, snugly but not too tight.


Lift up your arms to pull up on the dress; the top part should blouse over the belt just a little (or more if you’d like).  This will ensure that you’ll have some room to move around once you give this dress a defined waist.


Pin around your waist, approximately in the middle of the ribbon.  Be sure to place a pin in each side seam, 1 in the center front and 1 in center back.


Now you are going to transfer some of the marks to the dress:  Take another pin and pin the dress, underneath the ribbon, exactly where the belt is pinned in place.  Then remove the pin from the belt.   Do this for the pins that are holding the belt to the front and maybe even the sides of the dress.  You can leave the belt pinned to the back unless you are quite acrobatic and can manage to transfer the marks there too.


Carefully remove your dress, being careful not to poke yourself in the eyes with the pins. Finish transferring the pins to the dress.  Turn dress inside out and lay flat.  At this point we’re going to draw/mark the waist line.  To make sure your line is even start measuring the sides, from the underarm (armscye) to the pin.   Measure the other side seam.  If they are close enough in length take the average and mark your dress with a fabric marking pen.  For example, if one side is 9″ and the other is 9 1/4,” mark each side seam at 9 1/8.”


You want your waistline to be relatively straight and not wonky.  If there is a pin way out of line, just ignore it and mark below or above it so you’ll get a nice even line across your dress. Mark the center front along the waistline.


Elastic: I used 1/2″ wide elastic the length of my waist minus 1.”  With the marking pen, mark 1/2″ from each end (mark on the softer side of the elastic if there is one).  Fold the elastic in half and mark the center.   Then fold the elastic to match the center mark with one of the end marks to find the quarter.  Repeat for other end.


Sew the elastic directly on top of your waistline with a wide zigzag stitch.  To start, place one marked end at the center back and pin.  Place the following quarter mark at the side seam and pin.


When you sew, your left hand should hold the already sewn part of the waist while your right hand holds the part yet to be sewn;  keep the fabric taut (flat) while feeding the fabric through the machine without pulling too much.  As you sew, pin the marks to the corresponding locations on the dress.  This is what it looks like from the outside when you are done:


Ruffle Hem

Put your dress back on.  Determine how long you want your dress to be.  Cut your dress 2 1/2″ shorter than the desired length.  (Why?  Because the ruffle is 3″ wide and we’ll attach it to the dress with a 1/2″ seam allowance.)  It might be helpful to have a friend mark the length.  Remove the dress.  Mark the center front.

The ruffle is in 2 strips, a front and back.  It’s 1 1/2 times longer than the width of the dress and 4 1/8″ tall (Unfinished).  So, if you measure the front bottom edge of the dress and it’s 22″ wide, then each strip should be (22 x 1 1/2) + 5/8 + 5/8 (for each seam allowance).  The total is 34 1/4″ for each strip.

Cut out your strips (parallel or crosswise to the grainline, it’s up to you).  Sew the strips together, making French seams, to form a loop.  Hem one side of the ruffle: turn under 1/4″ then again 3/8.”  Mark the center front and back on the raw edge.  Then gather the raw edge: sew 2 rows of stitches, at 1/4″ and 1/2″ from the edge, using the longest stitch on your machine.  (For some machines it’s a good idea to loosen the thread tension a little too.)

Pin the ruffle to the dress, right sides together, matching the side seams with the ruffle seams, the center marks to each other, and the raw edges.  Starting with the back, pull the the bobbin threads so that the fabric bunches up, or gathers, until the length of its raw edge matches the length of the dress.  Use your fingers to smooth and even out the gathers.  Pin in place.  Repeat with the front.  With the ruffle on top, (and making sure you’ve switched your stitch length back to normal) sew the ruffle to the dress.

Encase raw edges: trim the ruffle’s seam allowance to 1/4.”  Starting at a side seam, sew hem tape or seam binding to the seam allowances as close to the stitch line as possible.


Press seam allowances and seam binding towards top of dress (up).  Then sew the other edge of the hem tape onto the dress, encasing the raw edges of the dress hem and ruffle.  (If you are using seam binding that is not wide enough to encase the seam allowances, trim the seam allowances before you begin sewing).


Turn dress right side out and press.


That’s it!  Now you have a pretty and comfortable dress to wear during the remainder of the Summer season.  If you make one like this, please let me know, I’d love to see it!

Sewing Your Modern, Old-Fashioned Dress
{Part 2}

July 29th, 2009 | By Jen in Sewing | 8 Comments »


I’m trying to finish up these lessons so you can get going on those dresses:)   We’re almost done here; this post will go over the sleeves (included felled seams), sleeve hems and the neckline.  You could probably finish up this dress at the end of this post by simply stitching up a regular hem and forgoing the elasticized waist.  (You’d end up with a dress like this one.)   I really love this vintage minty green gingham although it was suggested to me that this looks a bit like a hospital gown.    Do you think so?  Maybe a hospital gown in an old-timey dream; a wayward girl spending her youth in an asylum.  In the South.  Somewhere haunting and romantic.  See, if I make a story out of it, the hospital gown idea seems kind of neat, yes? ;)

Anyway, we left off with the side seams, made the fancy French way. Now, locate the last page of your pattern (Built by Wendy #3835) where it says Top C.  Follow step 1: stay stitching can help a curved seam like a neckline from stretching.  After you do that, skip down to step 3 and sew up the sleeves.  Remember to create French seams for the sleeve seams.  Press seams towards front of sleeve (Indicated with small/single notch).  Before you turn up the sleeve hem/casing, clip a little of the seam to reduce bulk:


When sewing the casing for the elastic (at the hem) leave the opening underneath the armhole, towards the back of the sleeve.  (The back is marked with the larger, or double, notch.)  This is where you’ll feed in your elastic.

Sew the sleeves to the dress as directed.  Since you pressed your sleeve seam towards the front and your side seam towards the back, your underarm won’t have a big lump in it from the side seams on top of each other.  Instead, they are next to each other, pressed in opposite directions:


You may pink the armhole seam allowances, serge them or sew a zigzag stitch close to the edge.  OR, and this is what I did, create flat-felled seams.  These are relatively easy to do although can be a little tricky around curves (like under the arm for example).  But let’s just try it anyway; they are neat and clean especially if you don’t have a serger. (You almost always see these seams on dress shirts.)

First press the seams.  Then trim the body’s seam allowances (not the sleeves’!) to 1/4.”


Starting with one sleeve, fold the wider, sleeve seam allowance over the smaller seam allowance towards the body (and therefore, away from the sleeve); pin.  I like to pin this type of seam parallel to the seam line.  It seems to be more secure this way.  (A quick note about pinning: it’s up for debate but I almost never sew over my pins, even when I pin perpendicular to the stitch line.  [Naturally I could not sew over the pins as they are shown in the photo!]  It’s much too likely to break a needle, dent a pin or worse, somehow damage your sewing machine.)


When you are folding and pinning under the arm you might be faced with some resistance because of the curve.  What I like to do, and perhaps I’m cheating a little, is clip the wider seam’s edge just a tiny bit in a few places along the curve, maybe 1/8.”  This would allow the seam allowance to stretch a little.  Just make sure to fold under the seam sufficiently enough so none of the raw edge sticks out.  When you are done with both sleeves, press.

This is what the inside of your flat-felled seam looks like:


And this is the outside:


Follow the rest of the instructions for Top C as written except for the last step (which is the hem).

Some notes about the last part of the directions:

  • Clip the back’s center seam like you did for the sleeves (2nd photo from the top) before you turn under the neck casing.
  • Put the elastic in the neckline before putting it in the sleeves – that way you can try on the dress and make sure it’s right before finishing up the sleeves.
  • Leave the neckline casing opening at or near the back seam.
  • Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic to help you guide it through the casing.
  • Make sure you don’t twist the elastic before you sew the ends together!
  • After you’ve added the elastic to the neckline and sewed up the opening, stretch the neckline and evenly distribute the fabric.  Actually, I like to concentrate the fabric more in the sleeve area so the front is relatively flat.  Optional:  if you are feeling fancy, backstitch at each sleeve seam along the neckline to secure the elastic in place.
  • Make sure your sleeve hems are not too tight!

We’ll finish up the dress in the next sewing lesson post: adding elastic to the waistline and adding the ruffle to the hem.  If you have any questions about this post, please leave a comment!  Thanks!

Candy Stripes + A Modern, Old-Fashioned Dress for Miss B

July 8th, 2009 | By Jen in Frocks & Such | 6 Comments »


I was just tickled pink (hee hee) when the lovely Andreae emailed me to let me know that her daughter, the Miss B I’m talking about here, was inspired by my version of this Built by Wendy dress.   I especially love Miss B’s choice of pink candy-striped fabric!  I think she looks so sweet, don’t you?  Please check out Andreae’s post about this adorable dress (and a little candy-striped number she ended up wearing herself).

Speaking of candy-striped goodness, I have been saving some other sweet things to share with you…

Vintage dress from encorevintage:


Vintage cabochons from ScarlettsGarden:


Vintage tumblers from PreserveCottage:


Vintage fabric from fabriquefantastique:


Vintage hostess apron from ABelovedTreasure:


I haven’t been this excited about candy-stripes since I bought pink and white candy canes for my tree last Christmas. :)

Ok, wedding-related notion shopping I must go.  I know I owe you all a wedding update post!  Coming soon, I promise.

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