Vintage Saturday: 1950s Umbrella Dress in Montenegro

IMG_2435

During our time in Dubrovnik, we took a side-trip to Montenegro, which is just over the Croatian border (for you James Bond fans, this is where Casino Royale took place). I wore this adorable (if I do say so myself!) 1950s umbrella print dress, which ended up being perfect for the occasion. It was acquired in August and worn only once before, to our housewarming party. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get photos of it then, as I was frantically running around making appetizers and sewing pillows!

IMG_2426

I believe the fabric is a linen rayon blend; regardless, it’s incredibly breezy and lovely to wear. The bodice is cut on the bias, which allows for greater movement, and the sleeves have a really great tie detail (unfortunately, every time I wear this dress I need help with the sleeve ties!). I paired it with a floppy straw hat, which was a lucky find in Dubrovnik’s Old Town the day before (silly me forgot to pack her hat).

IMG_2427

The dress photos were snapped at the villa we were staying in shortly before we left for Montenegro. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of me in it there, but I did get some scenery photos of Montenegro, and it’s just GORGEOUS.

IMG_2439

IMG_2442

Before we left, we ate lunch at a restaurant right next to the sea, and met this adorable one-eyed restaurant kitty. Peter tried to sneak her some food, but I don’t know if the one-eyed thing meant she couldn’t see it. At least living at a seafood restaurant means she’s well-fed!

IMG_2441

Speaking of kitties, it seems Pugsley has come down with a bit of a kitty cold as well as having Giardia, a water parasite. It’s been poop-a-palooza here, and we’re really hoping the medicine that he’s on starts to take effect soon, although, luckily, he does seem to be getting over the cold. In the meantime, we’ve learned a ton about kitty care and gone through a ridiculous amount of paper towels! Anyways, I’m planning on doing a ton of autumn crafting this weekend, and also have a design consult meeting for a potential (very exciting!) commission! Hope everyone else is having a great weekend!

Forays into Special Occasion Sewing

IMG_2370

Most people that don’t sew have a mistaken notion that sewing your own clothes is a money-saver. Holy Hannah, is that far from the truth! Case in point: the dress I made for Peter’s sister’s wedding. It would have been much cheaper (and time-efficient) to buy something from Modcloth, which I did consider. Unfortunately, it takes like 10 days for anything they ship to me to reach my front step, and then there’s always a risk that once it does show up, it won’t fit. So, I decided that sewing a dress would probably be my best bet.

IMG_2463

I knew I wanted to wear a fancy wrap dress in a shade of blue, and after looking at numerous patterns, I chose Butterick 5983, which has a lovely wrap dress bodice that is pleated at the shoulders. Luckily, I made a muslin mock-up first, as there were several alterations that needed to be done. First, I shortened the length of the circle skirt about 9 inches, so that it was knee-length, rather than tea-length. I also pinched in the shoulder seam, as it was too full for my shoulders. As for fabric, I used a gorgeous Kenneth Cole blue cotton sateen that I got locally at Mill End Fabrics. I love this fabric, it has a great satin feel to it, but because it’s a cotton, is way easier to work with. I also bought several yards of lace fabric to create an overlay over the sateen, but when I got the fabric home and saw the two together in non-fluorescent light, they just didn’t work together, so I had to scrap that idea. Hopefully, I can use the lace for another project, as it’s really lovely.

IMG_2479

The back closes with a hand-pricked lapped zipper (somehow I didn’t get a photo of that, sorry!). I didn’t do this to be fancy, but rather, because somehow I’ve managed to lose both of my zipper feet for my machine (this is one of the reasons I hate moving, people). I’m sure it’s somewhere in the sewing/craft stuff, but in the rush to get this dress done, I really didn’t have the time it would take to thoroughly look for it, so hand-pricked zipper it was! This was my first time using this technique, and I actually really like it! I found I got way more control with hand-sewing it (the zipper pull is always getting in the way when I insert zippers by machine), and it also looks neater than my machine-sewn zippers.

IMG_2484

Despite being sick as a dog on the day of the wedding, I had a great time and got so many lovely compliments from everyone on the dress (which they couldn’t believe I had made myself!). It definitely made the hectic last-minute sewing worth it. The wedding ceremony took place at the Sponza Palace, a 16th-century building in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Afterwards, we walked out to the harbor and took a boat ride around one of the small islands, before reaching shore again for the reception at The Grand Villa Argentina. The wedding ceremony and reception were absolutely gorgeous, and I’m so grateful that I was able to attend!

IMG_2457

In which I return after a month with a cat

Dubrovnik

In Dubrovnik!

Oh, hello there! Remember me, that quirky, vintage-loving seamstress lady that blogs like once a month? Well, I’m back! I’ve actually been doing a crazy amount of sewing this past month, but have been too busy to blog about it. British Boyfriend (TM) and I went to Croatia in the middle of September for a week for his sister’s wedding and a much-needed vacation, which was lovely and fabulous, but involved a lot of sewing prep and packing. Oh, and then I got sick while I was there, and brought my cold home with me. So, last week I was recovering from icky cold and jet lag, and then this week, we adopted a cat. Yes, a cat. After years of sewing, I’m finally a real seamstress!

Pugsley

Anyways, his name is Pugsley, and he’s the sweetest orange and white kitty I’ve ever met. I’ve been wanting a furry creature for a while, and our trip to Croatia really cemented the need for a cat. They have so many felines crawling about (it’s right along the sea, so there are a ton of seafood restaurants), but they’re all feral, so petting was not allowed. When we got back to Portland, I decided to take a look at the humane society, and see what cats were available, and we ended up adopting Pugsley from the Multnomah County Animal Shelter (I fell in love after I saw his photo). If you’re in the Portland area and able to adopt a pet, I would highly recommend checking out them or the Oregon Humane Society, which currently has a plethora of kittens available. They do amazing work.

Besides cat-rearing, I have a couple trip-related posts having to do with sewing and vintage I’m hoping to get up over next couple of days, as well as some autumnal sewing and home dec projects in the works (we’re throwing our first Halloween party at the end of the month!). I’m also (slowly) getting caught up on all the lovely blogs I follow, and it’s so neat to see everyone’s fall projects. I have to say that winter is normally my favorite season, but for some reason, I’ve been really looking forward to autumn this year.

Home Dec Sewing!

First off, thank you so much everyone for your lovely comments on my last post about our new place! As promised, here’s a look at some of the home decorating projects I’ve been working on. Since all of them involve square or rectangular pieces of fabric and were fairly straightforward to construct, I decided to combine them all into one post.

IMG_2358

The first thing I made for our new place (and on the day of the housewarming party, no less!) were pillows for the couch. The two tan ones came with the couch, but I wanted some other pillows, as well. I didn’t use a pattern at all for these, just cut out squares of fabric based on the dimensions of the pillow form.

IMG_2347

I also made a quilted wall hanging for the kitchen using a neat fabric panel I found on Etsy.

IMG_2350

Next up were Union Jack quilted coasters! I used this fabric from Riley Blake’s British Invasion collection. Interested in making your own quilted coasters? I have a tutorial here!

IMG_2354

Finally, though not a sewing project per se (more like a stapling project), I tried my hand at upholstery and reupholstered my old vintage vanity bench. I really wished I had taken a before picture, but alas, I was too staple-happy to remember to do so, and I did this project on the day of our housewarming party, as well (nothing like procrastination!). I’m really glad I got it done that day, though, as it was a really big hit at the party and people loved sitting on it.

IMG_2356

I want to make some new pillows for the bedroom, as well and maybe reupholster my sewing chair, but those will be future projects. ;)

 

Home Sweet Home

IMG_2308

Sorry for my absence from these here webparts, readers, but I have a good reason for that – Peter and I moved!

We now live in an adorable 6-plex that was built in 1941, and it has some great features, including a fireplace and built-in vanity in the bathroom. The best part is that our landlady kept all of the walls painted (I so hate renting places where the walls are just plain white), which means that we have a blue living room, yellow kitchen, and pink bathroom (yes, pink bathroom!).

IMG_2305

All of the furniture was either stuff we already had or recently acquired off Craigslist (we didn’t get murdered and got some great pieces at really low prices, so win-win). I’ve also caught the home dec bug, and have been sewing like a mad woman for the apartment (we had a small housewarming for close friends and family last weekend). There are a couple more pieces I want to make, and then I plan on doing a blog post about those, ok? Ok.

New sewing corner

The one downside is that I don’t really have room to sew anywhere but the bedroom, so I’ve set aside a corner in the bedroom for my sewing machine. Luckily, we can poke holes in the wall, so I’ve decorated with some of my favorite vintage hats.

This is my third apartment since I’ve moved to Portland, and you would think that I’d be totally adept at moving, but I’m so not. Moving is just so disruptive to my usual routine and takes so much out of me. Plus, I always forget where I’ve put stuff, and end up creating lots of “I’ll deal with those later” boxes. Anyways, I’m absolutely smitten with the new place. It truly feels like home, and I don’t plan on moving again anytime soon.

1930s Beach Pajamas!

IMG_2183

I hosted a little vintage beach gathering here in Portland yesterday, and finished a pair of reproduction 1930s beach pajamas to wear just in the nick of time! For those not aware, beach pajamas were the original version of resort wear, worn by the fashionable set on the beach during the day and to a cocktail party in the evening. They became more widespread in the 1930s with their popularization among the Hollywood elite, and home seamstresses could make their own versions with the patterns that were released. Beach pajamas were either one or two pieces (sometimes with matching jacket) and featured  characteristically wide pants legs.

IMG_2210

My beach pajamas are made from a border print 1950s red and white rayon that I got from this awesome Etsy shop (I seriously can’t recommend her enough, she even threw in free button cards with my order!). I ended up combining 2 modern patterns for my beach pajamas, as a) original beach pajama patterns are notoriously expensive (seriously, the cheapest ones I could find started at $125 and even then, I would need to significantly grade them up) and b) I wasn’t too fond of any of the reproduction ones out there. After looking at dozens upon dozens of images of original beach pajamas, I settled upon the pants from New Look 6291 and Bodice D from New Look 6966, which when combined, were eerily reminiscent of this original beach pajamas pattern. Luckily, I made a muslin (I was too scared to just cut into vintage rayon fabric without doing so first!) and there weren’t too many changes to be made – the back piece wasn’t quite wide enough, and the waistline wasn’t high enough. I also fully lined these in a a linen-rayon blend, and despite the extra work that was, it was the right decision, as the vintage fabric was a bit sheer.

IMG_2200

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an original pair of beach pajamas to examine (those are also notoriously expensive, averaging around $300 a pair), so I’m not quite sure if what I did construction-wise was totally period-correct. I did what I thought made sense, although I ended up having to make 4 darts (2 in front and 2 in back) to get the bodice to match the pants along the waistline seam. Luckily, I don’t think anybody will be examining the innards of these, although I did come home with an odd orange stain on the midriff lining (no idea how that got there!).

IMG_2207

Readers, these are so insanely comfortable to wear! Seriously, I can see why these were so popular back in the day. I also got so many lovely compliments from fellow beach-goers  once person even told me that I looked like “one of those sexy pin-up models from the 50s!” Not quite the era I was going for, but a compliment I’ll take, nonetheless. And, despite the challenges I had during construction, I am so tickled that I finally made a pair of these. I’m looking forward to many lazy summer days lounging about in them while reading a good novel.

IMG_2185

I also had some leftover striped fabric from the fabric’s border, so I used that to make a matching headband. Yeah, I know, I’m an overachiever.

Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend!

The Cute as a Button Skirt

IMG_2170

We’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave in Portland this week, and so I’m frantically whipping up summer-appropriate clothes (almost all of the summer dresses I brought with me last year when I moved down here no longer fit. Silly weight gain!).

Pardon my squinting, it was like a million (okay 90) degrees outside.

Pardon my squinting, it was like a million (okay 90) degrees

This skirt was not a planned project at all, but a result of wandering into the Joann Fabrics clearance aisle (always dangerous for me!). Now, I do try to shop local as much as I can, but when doing commissions (which was the reason for this Joann’s trip), I find it more cost-effective for both me and the customer to use Joann’s since they have amazing coupons. Anyways, I happened upon this fabric on a bolt in the clearance aisle for $5 a yard. There was about 2 yards left on the bolt, perfect for a skirt. Best part? The skirt has a button print motif AND is blue and orange, which reminds me of my bestie as those are her favorite colors.

You have to look closely, but those circles are totes printed buttons.

You have to look closely, but those circles are totes printed buttons.

I used my typical “this is a gathered skirt so I’m just going to rip rectangles out of the fabric” pattern, which isn’t really a pattern at all. I love these skirts, as they go together with hardly any effort. That being said, I did do a slipstitch for the hem, as I didn’t quite have the correct shade of orange thread to match the fabric (this was definitely a stashbuster project when it came to notions).

IMG_2146

 

Anyone else doing fun summer sewing?