Virtual Christmas Dress Party

Katrina, of the blog Edelweiss Patterns, has put together a Christmas Dress Blog Party. The short version is that anyone who wants to make a holiday dress and participate can share pictures and links on Katrina’s blog right before Christmas at the online party. Here’s the link to the full description.


I have to say that I’m not a make-a-dress-every-holiday sort of person. I’m also not a wear-a-fancy-dress-for-Christmas-dinner kind of person. I don’t go to many holiday parties except historically clothed ones and for Christmas dinner I wear something nice, but then soon change into comfy clothes for lounging in front of the fire and playing board games (mmm, favorite holiday pastimes!).

This year, however, I’ve already started a dress that I’d been intending to wear to a Christmas party, which works out wonderfully! Unfortunately, the party I’d been planning to attend changed locations, making it impossible for me and my friends to be there, so we’re trying to find a date to do our own holiday-themed outing instead (if it works out there will definitely be pictures!). Regardless, my dress is well on its way to completion–hopefully I can finish it off over this Thanksgiving weekend–and I will get pictures somewhere even if our holiday outing doesn’t work out. It will be perfect for the Christmas Dress Blog Party!

Here’s my inspiration: Vogue #588 from 1950, in the COPA at URI. (Click through to COPA to see an image of the pattern pieces.)

My dress is red sheer rayon with a slight textured stripe. I call it the Baroness dress because it reminds me of a mashup of the style of dresses worn by the Baroness in The Sound of Music (see below), despite the fact that the inspiration pattern is a bit later than the movie. It’s a fun coincidence, because Katrina particularly loves The Sound of Music, as you might guess by the title of her blog and pattern line, but I promise, it was the Baroness dress in my head long before Katrina posted about the virtual dress party!

The Baroness by the lake. Hip bow inspiration. And red.
The Baroness in an evening gown. Evening dress inspiration in general.

And, happy Thanksgiving!

1950s Adventures Part III: On A Roll

After eating brunch at a 1950s themed dinerstopping along the side of the road to take lovely autumn color pictures, and spending some time at a thrift store before the roller rink opened, we finally headed out to go roller skating! I had been jokingly warned that we were likely to be at the roller rink with a whole lot of 8 year olds and the warning was pretty accurate. There were a few adult couples on dates and a few by themselves, but mostly there were a ton of 5-13 year olds and their adult chaperones. It was a Saturday afternoon, after all, so it was to be expected that there would be a lot of birthday parties… It didn’t bother us, though, we’re used to being unique. And lots of the girls called out that they liked our dresses as we skated by. Perhaps one day they’ll be inspired to make or wear historic clothing!

Some of us had been more used to roller blading, but in the spirit of trying to be 1950s-ish, we all rented roller skates. Granted, the roller rink and the skates are obviously modern and not 50s, as you’ll see, but we had so much fun it didn’t matter at all!

Putting on skates under a black light.
Things started off a little shaky for some of us.
But we were there to support each other.
In fact, I almost fell over before I even made it onto the rink… But I managed to keep my balance, and here I am, successfully skating!
Our confidence rose pretty quickly, and soon we were all making it around the rink.
We were even managing to be graceful sometimes.
And possibly even in sync…
I did still lose my balance sometimes and make crazy faces…
But they were balanced out by the successful moments.
Look, here’s another successful moment!
On a roll!
This picture amuses me, because we might be dancing, or we might just be loosing our balance…
Group shot (with fun lights!).
Another group shot…
You might remember our “raise the roof Charleston”… We just like to throw in raising the roof any chance we get, and this was a perfect opportunity.
It almost looks intentional that we’re all in a line!
Full circle. Returning my skates under the black light.

Fun, right? We really enjoyed ourselves and no one actually fell! But the day wasn’t over… we still had a Regency ball to run/attend that night. I’ve got pictures of that coming soon. It sure is a transformation from 1950s!

1950s Adventures Part II: Autumn Colors

Back to 1950s adventures! I started the adventures with my previous post about the beginning of our day at a 50s themed diner. After leaving the diner we wanted to get some pictures with the beautiful New England autumn colors in the background, so we thought we’d find a place along the side of the road. We took a wrong turn over a bridge and got a little confused, but the confusion wound up with us driving past a lovely side road/private drive with lots of lovely trees and rock clumps. Rather impulsively, we pulled over a hopped out to take some pictures… and here are some of the results!

Autumn in New England!
Striking a pose at the base of the road we stopped on.
There’s a song that used to play on the Oldies radio station when I was young: “Secret Agent Man”–when I look at this picture I start singing that song in my head… “They’ve given you a number, and taken away your name… (instrumental: doo da doo da doo da doo da doo da doo…) Secret Agent Man!”
This looks like it’s straight out of the autumn edition of a clothing catalog.
We were playing pass-around-my-petticoat so no one would feel left out.
There were so many fun places to take photos!
Group shot on the rocks.
Serious faces. It has since been determined that if we were to start a hipster band named Queens of Rock, this would be the cover of our first album “Colors of Fall.” Of course, we’d be super obscure and you wouldn’t have heard of us…
The colors are so complimentary! And the glasses are cute.
Showing off my more casual, modern footwear… purple crocs that match my dress!

So there you go. I hope you enjoyed all the leaves! Next stop is the roller rink…

1950s Adventures Part I: Dots At The Diner

Remember when I posted the details about my 1953 dot dress, I mentioned that I was waiting to participate in a grand adventure to get photos of the dress on me? It worked out recently that schedules were free on the same day, so we were able to have a 1950s adventure! We started out going for brunch at a 1950s themed diner, then stopped by the side of the road to take fall color pictures on our way to go to a thrift store (where I purchased a flip top picnic basket for $4!), followed by roller skating, and then we finished off the evening with a Regency ball. It was a long, awesome day. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it.

But I’ve got lots of fun pictures to share! Yay! I’m going to break up the 1950s pictures into three parts: photos at the diner, fall color photos, and photos of roller skating. There will be a separate post about the Regency ball (which includes pictures of my Refreshing Apron in action and my new tiara!).

Our 1950s group at the diner. We had another patron take the group shot and she sort of cut off people's heads, but we're grateful for the photo nonetheless.
Our 1950s group at the diner. We had another patron take the group shot and she sort of cut off people’s heads, but we’re grateful for the photo nonetheless.
I rather loved the aqua and pink color scheme, which included the aqua/green coke water glasses.
I rather loved the aqua and pink color scheme, which included the aqua/green coke water glasses.

I noticed crayons on another table the waitresses were clearing off and asked if we could have them… because you never really stop being a child! Though I have to say I was more easily inspired when I was a child. It was hard to come up with something to draw!

"My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to dye." The crayon color was Indigo, and the reference is from The Princess Bride.
“My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to dye.” The crayon color was Indigo, and the reference is from The Princess Bride.
Doodling away. We were competing to see who could draw a better record.
Doodling away. We were competing to see who could draw a better record.
Here's mine. It's hard to draw a record with crayons! Do the music notes help?
Here’s mine. It’s hard to draw a record with crayons! Do the music notes help?
And here I am, drawing away. I really like this picture! (I'm not making a crazy face!)
And here I am, drawing away. I really like this picture! (I’m not making a crazy face!)

Now is as good a time as any to talk about my hair and accessories (especially since I’m about to subject you to a series of me-shots). I tried to do rolls with my hair. I think they were quite successful, though they did take a very long time. I had to dry my hair, straighten my hair, then curl my hair while adding hairspray and trying to contain the waves and the frizz… I aimed for an asymmetrical style but in some pictures it looks like I just have an odd halo of hair on one side of my head and not the other. I ran out of time and inspiration for the back, so my hair is just in a bun. It’s the first time I’ve attempted this sort of hair style, so I certainly don’t have lots of practice. Ah well, I like that I look very put together and made up–that just seems like a 50s way to be.

Unfortunately, the juke box isn't functional. But it's a great photo opportunity!
Unfortunately, the juke box isn’t functional. But it’s a great photo opportunity!

Oh right, and accessories! Well, I’ve got a modern sweater from Old Navy. I’ve got Nine West brown heels (a little tall for the 50s, but other than that they have a great shape). And I’ve got a faux pearl and jewel bracelet (another of the costume jewelry presents from my mom). Thanks mom!

Posing with someone else's shake. But it's pink, so it had to be done. I'm pretty bad at posing. There are lots of pictures where I'm just making awkward faces...
Posing with someone else’s shake. But it’s pink, so it had to be done. I’m pretty bad at posing. There are lots of pictures where I’m just making awkward faces…
One of my favorite pictures! I love the painted people in the background, and that I'm not making a crazy face.
One of my favorite pictures! I love the painted people in the background, and that I’m not making a crazy face.
See? Half halo head. Anyway, I like this picture, too.
See? Half halo head. Anyway, I like this picture, too.
The actual owner of the pink shake also posed by the juke box. That guy on the wall is pretty funny.
The actual owner of the pink shake also posed by the juke box. That guy on the wall is pretty funny.
Gumball machine!
Gumball machine!

Finally, step outside and there’s a cute scarecrow waiting for you (at least during the month of October…)!

Shaking hands with Mr. Scarecrow.
Shaking hands with Mr. Scarecrow.
Ditzy faces. Oh hey, my hair looks less dorky in these scarecrow pictures. It really depends on the angle!
Ditzy faces. Oh hey, my hair looks less dorky in these scarecrow pictures. It really depends on the angle!

See? So many smiles. Next stop will be the side of the road where we stopped to take fall color pictures…

1953 Dot Dress

It’s been months since I bought the fabric for this dress (I actually had to look back to see when I purchased the fabric: it was February). I bought it rather on a whim, with the goal of expanding the number of patterned dresses in my historic wardrobe. Well, success! My 1953 dot dress is complete!

And the back.

I think it looks more flattering on me than it does on Squishy, but the opportunity I’m hoping to use to wear it and take pictures has been postponed due to the busy lives of my friends. We’ve got a grand plan involving roller skating, a 50s diner, and ice cream. All of those things just scream for pictures!

But for now, the facts (a la the HSF, though unfortunately the cutoff for the HSF is 1937, so this doesn’t qualify!):

Fabric: The dress is constructed from about 3 yds of lightweight cotton lawn printed with dots and lined with some of my white striped $1 a yard cotton fabric. It’s a perfect pairing, because it creates opacity but keeps the lightweight feel of the lawn.

Pattern: The skirt pattern is from a Vogue pattern I bought at Vintage In Vogue last year. The bodice pattern is a simple darted bodice pattern I draped for myself with the neckline adjusted to be a scoop in front and a v in back.

Year: 1953.

Notions: 10-12 yds of pink Hug Snug; white, off white, and pink thread; and an off white plastic zipper (It was all I had that wasn’t dark since I don’t use zippers much for historic sewing…).

How historically accurate?: I give it 95%. Cotton is entirely reasonable for the 1950s. I’m not sure when Hug Snug was first marketed, but the design on the spools certainly looks vintage (and rayon had been in use for at least 20 years by the 1950s). If they didn’t have Hug Snug, they probably had something similar. The pattern was printed in the 1950s and a basic darted bodice is seen on many 1950s dresses and patterns. The sewing machine was in widespread use by the 1950s. The only thing is that my plastic zipper is probably a bit modern (in the 1950s zippers were still metal, I believe).

Hours to complete: 30: lots of interior finishing by machine and hand .

First worn: By Squishy for pictures.

Total cost: My entire 50 yd roll of Hug Snug was only 50 cents, the fabric was about $15, and the zipper was probably about $2… Total: about $17.

Now, you know that I love paying attention to details. I had a lot of fun spending time on the interior details of this dress. Unfortunately, they won’t be visible, but I know that this dress is as cute inside as it is outside, and now you will, too!

IMG_4831 (1)
The hems flipped up to see the interior finishing. Both hems are finished with Hug Snug and I also used Hug Snug to bind the seam allowances of the white lining. The seam allowances of the dot fabric are turned and zig zagged (the Hug Snug showed through to the exterior too much when I did a sample using Hug Snug on the dot). The first side of the Hug Snug is machine stitched to the hem and the second side is hand sewn with only tiny prick stitches that go through to the outside fabric so it’s almost invisible.
More of the inside of the skirt. It’s like candy, with all the pink Hug Snug seam binding on the white fabric! I love it!
IMG_4837 (1)
Here’s the side seam of the bodice that doesn’t have the zipper. On the bodice the dot and the white stripe fabric are treated as one, unlike on the skirt. All of the seams are bound with Hug Snug. The armhole (at the top of the photo) and the neckline are bound with self fabric bias strips.
Here’s a close up of the shoulder seam showing the Hug Snug and the self fabric bias. All of the bodice seam and edge bindings are stitched down to the white stripe lining by hand using whip stitches.
Here’s what it looks like without skirt support.

I might even like the inside more than the outside… I’m really looking forward to wearing this at some point! I was even thinking that perhaps I could wear it in my modern life without a crinoline petticoat under it, but I think the skirt is a little too long and the waist is a little too high. If I had more of an every day vintage style I might be able to pull it off, or if I was getting dressed up, but for normal days, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be wearing it around my everyday life. All the more reason my friends need to clear their calendars!!!

Patterned Stash Additions!

If you look at my clothes, modern and historic, you might notice that I usually wear solid colors. Yes, I do mix solid colors in outfits. But there it is: I hardly ever wear patterned fabric. I want to branch out a bit, at least in my historic wardrobe, so when I saw these patterned fabrics on sale I couldn’t resist.


So here they are: my most recent stash additions. On the left, a rayon challis with a slightly lilac tinted grey background and little teal clovers all over. On the right, a super lightweight cotton lawn with dots in shades of purple and pinkish/redish/orange. What for? I’m thinking 1930s or 40s for the challis and a 50s summer dress for the lawn. I’m pushing the envelope, thinking outside my normal eras! Of course, these projects are pretty low on the list of things to get done… so don’t expect to see them again soon. But maybe this summer the 50s dress could be a fun project. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll know I have patterned fabric in my stash, and that’s enough for me!

“Vintage in Vogue” Finds

In August for each of the last eight years, I have been blessed to be able to enjoy an annual trip to Cape Cod. By this point the trip feels just like going home: I know the places I like to go, that I like to eat (and they recognize me, even though I’m only there one week out of the year!), that I like to shop… and I only deviate from these things when I want something new–a sense of adventure.

Well, a few years ago I was encouraged to visit a new store, which I did, and since then I have returned on every visit to the Cape. What store, you ask? Vintage In Vogue. This unique vintage clothing store is run by the wonderfully passionate Maureen Leavenworth. Truly, Vintage In Vogue is a unique vintage store. Maureen really cares about the stories behind the items for sale and she takes the time to share those stories with you when you are interested in an object.

The store is full of fun things like shoes, hats, jewelry, furs, patterns, fashion plates, and of course, dresses. There are some pieces from the 19th century, as well as many items from the 20th century. There is also has a whole area devoted to vintage wedding gowns and accessories. This year as I was poking around looking at the fun things… I found a few things I decided to take home with me.

First, a 1950s vintage Vogue pattern!

Useful for when I find time to make a Mad Men inspired dress. The ruching on the shoulders is an interesting detail in this pattern.
Back of the pattern envelope.

Then, a fur collar, separate from any garment that it once adorned.

I have a vision of turning the collar into a fur trimmed 1860s hat one day.

And, lastly, a framed fashion plate from 1894!

“La Bon Ton Et Le Moniteur De La Mode United” Published by S. T. Taylor Co., New York, October 1894.
A close up of the fashionable lady.
And of the back view of her dress.

I was very pleased with my finds. The pattern and fur collar have been put on the far back burner, but the 1894 lady enjoys a place of prominence on top of my dresser. I  know that doesn’t sound very glamorous, but she has a light above her that I can turn on so it looks like she’s in a spot light, and she’s in a place where I see her every day as I’m getting dressed. It’s kind of perfect for me and my interests, actually, to see an image like this each morning.