Wednesday, December 13, 2017

1920s White Velvet and Gold Lace

Finally, a finished sewing project to share with you! I haven't done much sewing the fall, it's been hard to find the motivation but I am slowing getting back into things. The GBVS's Winter Formal at the Lyman Estate earlier in December was just the thing I needed and a great excuse to make a new 1920s dress.

I think I've mentioned before my love/hate relationship with the 1920s. Some of the styles are so gorgeous, particularly the evening dresses. I mean, what's not to love about those colors, bead work and beautiful fabrics? But, the fit of 1920s dresses can be so boxy looking and down right frumpy that I tend to lean more to other decades. Then I found THIS!

"Vionnet model in white velvet gown entirely untrimmed except for fine gold stitching at hips. At the back if falls in wing-like drapery. Drawing by Benito." The Art of Vogue. Covers 1909 - 1940 by William Packer
And THIS!! Both sketches are by Eduardo Garcia Benito, a fashion illustrator and painter who was well-known for his beautiful cover designs for Vogue Magazine during the 1920s and 1930s.

Fashion Illustrated A Review of Women's Dress 1920 1950 by Deborah Torrens
Ahhhh, a version of those sketches has been on my 1920s sewing wish list for such a long time. And I happened to have just the right fabric waiting in the stash. So yeah, sometimes things are meant to be.

However, I knew from the beginning that the back of the dress was going to be the most difficult part to create. I was having a hard time visualizing what shape the pieces for the back drape needed to be. Add this to the fact that my velvet fabric was left over from another project. I had just enough to cut the panels for the skirt and bodice front. The back pieces were constructed using some odd shapes of fabric. Not ideal, but the finished dress has the look and feel of the original Benito sketches so I'm pretty happy with it.

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I don't really have construction photos but here is the run down. The lining for the top was made using McCall 5632 (see the full version of that dress here) with the neckline altered slightly and the sleeves left off. The skirt is three panels of velvet (two for the back, cause left over fabric) and has 9 rows of gathering stitches, known as shirring, to pull the fabric in at the hips. The skirt lining was two smaller panels of silk slightly larger than my hip measurement.



The gold lace, which I believe is from the 1920s or early 1930s, is tacked to the silk lining. Creating the back drapes, though super fiddly, were actually quite fun to create. I got to apply some historical draping and fitting techniques that I don't normally get to do unless I'm making an 18th century gown. The bodice front was constructed first with the velvet mounted on top of the silk lining. I then pinned the shoulders and side seams to the bodice back lining.


With the bodice on my dress form, I basted the velvet fabric for the back drapes at the side seams of the lining and around the arms. Next I played around with the velvet trying different ways of pleating at the shoulders and waist, pinning and re-pinning, until I was happy with the look. As much as I loved the low open back of the Benito sketch, I knew that I would be more comfortable with a slight higher back. Plus I really wanted to work my vintage lace into this project. It was such a small piece but I really enjoy being able to incorporate vintage and antique notions into my sewing projects. (You may remember my 1940s evening dress trimmed with Victorian jet beading.)




And of course, not project is complete without kitty "help."


Cori wore his vintage tux. The jacket is actually dated December 1909! Doesn't he look dapper? His shirt, collar and matching peaked waistcoat and bow tie are all vintage as well.



About the Outfit
Dress: Made by me
Accessories: Pearls belonged to my grandmother, Art Deco pin and comb antique store finds
Stockings: WKD

Summary of the Project
Fabrics: Off white silk velvet from Delectable Mountain cloth, vintage silk for the lining and vintage gold lace
Pattern: The top portion of the dress is roughly based on McCall 5632 with the back draped. The skirt was just a large rectangle that was shirred at the sides to hip my hip measurement.
Year: 1920s
Notions: Thread and vintage gold lace.
How historically accurate it it? Pretty accurate. Material sare accurate for the time, pretty sure the lace is 1920s or early 1930s.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Well.... Draping the back would have been waaaaay easier if I had more fabric to work with as mentioned above. Also, silk velvet is fussy to work with.
Did you change anything? I modified the neckline of the original pattern slightly for the bodice.
Time to complete? I don't know how many hours but I worked on this off and on for about a week and a half.
First worn: December 3rd, 2017 at the Greater Boston Vintage Society Winter Formal.
Total cost: The silk lining and lace trim are from the stash. The velvet was left over from another project. I think it was around $20 or $30 a yard and was 54" wide but it's been sitting in the stash for a could years and I can't really remember. I would guess around $60 to $75.
Notes: The fit is a bit wonky which isn't helped but the weight of the velvet. I think if I were to make this again I would take the shoulders up a bit more and maybe add a sash or side drape.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Holiday Decor - Vintage Tree Bling

Tired of using the the same Christmas ornaments year after year? Looking for something different and unique for your holiday decor? How about tree ornaments made from vintage jewelry! This is something I've wanted to do for a while and this year I finally did it! I used my collection of sparkly vintage odds and ends to decorate a table top tree. You can do the same!



Here is what you will need. It's handy to keep a list of the items you hang on the tree, specially if you are using small items like earrings. That way you wont loose anything.
  • Christmas tree (I should note that I use a small fake tree for this so there was no fear of pine pitch. No vintage was harmed!) 
  • Christmas Lights
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Assortment of vintage jewelry and sparkly bits
Start by wrapping your tree in lights. Necklaces, and some bracelets, can easily be looped or draped across the branches. Because earring are small I tend to keep them together or at least place them close to one another on the tree. Vintage dress clips and clip on earrings are great because you and clip them right to the branches. Thread a loop of ribbon through your favorite bangle and voila! Instant ornament! You can do the same with any pin or large brooch.





Most of the items shown here came in one large box lot from and antique shop several years ago. Many of the pieces I've picked up over the years are missing stones or are damaged in some way so I got a really good deal on them. But that's OK because you don't notice the flaws once they are on the tree. :) Keep your eyes open at yard sales, flea markets, etc. and you will find some good deals. One thing I sometimes see at antique shops are mason jars full of beaded necklaces and other odds and ends of mis-matched jewelry. That would be perfect for a project like this. I've found some nice non-vintage pieces at thrift stores too like the cat pin seen in this post. My favorite victory pin (the large V with rhinestones) is even hanging on the tree!

Here is what you do.
  • After selecting your vintage pin, cut a piece of ribbon 5-6 inches in length (longer if desired)
  • Thread the ribbon through the back of the pin. Even out the ends of the ribbon and tie a knot leaving a small tail.
  • Use your scissors to curl the ends of your ribbon OR tie the ends in a pretty little bow 
  • Place your ornament on your tree and you're done! 


I've been collecting 1950s/60s rhinestone necklaces for a long time and these look especially pretty draped across the branches. I find them everywhere and have to stop myself from buying them all lol! Prices vary but on average I never pay more then $10 or $12 for a necklace. Often they are less then that. Occasionally I will splurge on a nicer piece like the one I wore for my wedding. Or blue and white one seen below that came with matching earrings. 

The rhinestone necklaces like those at the upper right are commonly found at antique shops. The necklace and bracelet at the bottom right I wore for my wedding.
Dress clips, shoe clips, and earrings can be clipped to the branches.  Tip! With a fake tree you can bend the ends of the branches so these little pieces sit just right.

Vintage Dress Clip Tree Ornaments
Vintage earrings make lovely ornaments too! The pink pair are from the Etsy shop of Chronically Vintage.
Thank you Jessica!
Have fun with this and don't be afraid to mix in some modern pieces as well. My little tree looks so pretty at night. Sadly my camera doesn't take very good pictures in low light but it's so sparkly! :)

Stay tuned for another post this week about vintage holiday decor! I can't wait to share with everyone how I decorated my fireplace mantel.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Blog Post I've Been Avoiding

As the title of this post says, this is something I have put off writing for a while now. I haven't posted on my blog in a little over two months. I've been posting a little more lately on Facebook and on Instagram but certainly not up to my normal online interaction in regards to sewing and all things vintage. But I'm getting there, slowly.
 
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As some of you may already know, my brother Christoper passed away very unexpectedly in August. He was 30 years old. We are all still trying to process this and our hearts are shattered. I'm so thankful there is a loving network of friends and family who have all been amazing and I know you will all continue to be. Thank you to everyone who has offered your love and support during this difficult time. I never thought I would say, thank God for Facebook, but it's true. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and even complete strangers online has been truly amazing and humbling. The reenacting community especially has been wonderful and supportive. Our family has received messages from reenactors who personally knew, or knew of, my brother from all across the U.S., Canada, the UK and even Belgium. It just proves what a small world we live in.

This is a post I've had to write by starting and stopping several times over the last three months. Often I'd just sit here starting at the blank page. I really didn't know where to start but felt it was important to say something. How do you sum up the life of a loved one in a single blog post? The truth is, you can't. It's cannot be done in a blog post or multiple posts to social media. It cannot be done in a collection of photographs, though these things can come close. (We created a slide show of photos and music for Chris's memorial service and it was over 30 minutes long! With plenty more to add.)

Grief is a difficult thing to go through for everyone, and it's been a real struggle for those of us that were closest with my brother. I posted briefly about the passing of a close friend this spring and was still struggling with his loss when I heard about my brother. We must all find our own way to deal with and process grief. And it's going to be a different journey for each of us.

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. 
- William Penn, Fruits of Solitude


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Chris was many things to many people; son, brother, husband and friend. Everything was falling into place for him and life was going so well for him and his wife. They celebrated their 6th wedding anniversary in June. Chris was an incredibly talented person, always looking to learn new skills and apply them to the things he enjoyed most in life. He had settled on creating a career involving horses and had set out on the path to makes those dreams come true. He and one of our sister's planned to take over the family farm and share those dreams together. There are now, and will always be, horses on the farm but it won't seem the same without my brother. Sometimes I just pretend he's off on some great adventure, which in a way I guess he is. This whole post seems inadequate but as I said, I felt I needed to write something.

I cannot say, and I will not say 
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cherry smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land 

And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you – oh, you, who the wildest yearn 
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not dead – he is just away.
James Whitcomb Riley


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My brother loved history and living history was a passion we both shared. To honor his memory, friends and family members have made donations to The Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, NH, an open air living history museum where we both spent a great deal time. Through volunteering and reenacting at The Fort at No. 4, Chris worked to help ensure the museum's long history as a site for educational and living history programs. As a way to honor him, donations to this site in Chris' name will be used to repair and maintain the museum to ensure the continuation of Chris' passion at a place very dear to him.

The holidays this year are going to suck. There's no other way to say it, but somehow I know we will all manage and find the strength to laugh and smile. We will create new traditions in Chris's honor, tell rude jokes and funny stories to keep his memory and energy alive. Even though it may be hard at times, these are things we need to do. And I've learned through all of this just how important friends and family really are. I have also learned that grief is a process. There are many stages and there are going to be many crummy days before things begin to seem brighter on a more regular basis. There will be good days again but for now it's perfectly fine to just have OK days.

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I am planning to post with more regularity on this blog over the winter and to continue doing and sharing the things I love. I know Chris would want all of us to continue doing what we enjoy. It's all part of moving through the tunnel of grief. I have several posts waiting in my draft folder and many exciting things to share. But if I disappear for days or weeks on end, don't worry, I will come back. Sometimes it's important to take time for yourself.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

It's been long time since my last post. Lots of things have happened this year, and not all of them good, I'm sad to say. But more on that later. I hope to have my blog back up and running with more regular posts this winter. So until then, thank you for sticking with me! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Halloween.
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Here is a throw back post to last year with a recap of some of my Halloween outfits.

Originally posted on November 3, 2016.
A very quick for Throwback Thursday! I thought I would share our Halloween costumes from the last couple of years. I don't have pictures of our costumes for this year because our party hasn't happened yet! I know crazy, but this coming weekend was the best time for all our friends to get together. It's going to be awesome. :)

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf
Bonnie and Clyde

Popeye and a 1920s film star in gray scale
 Charlie Chaplin and my Carol Burnett inspired Gown with the Wind costume.  Photo by Kris Jarrett Photography and Media Production
The last two years our friend's parties have had themes. The first was based on the movie Clue (Cori wasn't able to attend but I went as Mrs. White) and last year was cartoon/comic book characters. We went as Cruella de Vil  from 101 Dalmatians and Zap Brannigan. This year the theme is Joss Universe, so anything or anyone created by Joss Wheden!!!

Photo by Kris Jarrett Photography and Media Production

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Giveaway Time with RVS

Hey everyone!! Have you pre-ordered your new shoes from Royal Vintage Shoes? There is still plenty of time, you have until August 10th.



And guess what else?? RVS is hosting a giveaway for one lucky winner to receive a $175 gift certificate to their shop. Visit their blog to learn how to enter.



Rosie WWII Double Buckle Boots for Women
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