Girl’s Formal (blue) Dress

For Pascha (also known as “Orthodox Easter”) 2019, I made matching dresses for my two older daughters! These projects were full of “firsts” for me, and some of those firsts were extremely frustrating. However, I powered through and got it done, much to my own surprise!!

Pattern: I used a vintage Simplicity pattern #4275 (circa 1950s), however I greatly altered the assembly method. So while I did use the pattern pieces, I made two different dresses and layered the sheer version (view 1 on the pattern envelope) on top of the opaque version (view 3), and I added a lining that was not in the directions at all.

Fabric: For the opaque base layer, I used the “Royal Blue Plain Dyed Polyester Taffeta” from Mood Fabrics at $9.99 a yard (58″ wide). For the translucent top layer, I used “Royal Iridescent Nylon Organza” at $5.99 a yard (44″ wide). The lining was made of a robin’s egg blue cotton woven that I have massive amounts of in my stash… I got it from my grandmother, and that’s all I really know about it!

Notions: All notions for this project were also from Mood. Buttons are GORGEOUS (and quite heavy!) Italian Beige Mother of Pearl Shank Back Button (13mm $1.74 each). I ended up not using buttons on the front of the dress as pictured on the pattern envelope, because the buttons were heavier than I expected. The smaller size would have been darling, but I decided there was enough going on with the dress already . Thread is 260 Primary Blue Gutermann Sew-All Thread

Extra Info: Where to begin? This was a really nightmarish project, and I won’t sugar-coat it for you. I cried real tears many times, and experienced a great deal of despair and self-loathing during the construction process. It all started with the fact that, not only had I never used/tested this pattern before, I also deliberately did not follow the directions and made life more complicated for myself by actually cutting two dresses and trying to combine them myself. This was especially tricky around the neckline because the dresses had very different necklines. The base dress (view 3 on the pattern envelope) called for seam binding to finished the edges of the arm-holes and neckline. I took the time to make my own bias tape with the blue taffeta (another nightmare, please keep reading), but I could not manage to master the technique and it kept turning out sloppy. While attempting to remove the bias tape and try again, I ripped the fabric of the bodice entirely, and ended up needing to cut a new one (thankfully I did have enough taffeta leftover). I ended up finishing the edges by using a lining… and I’m sure First-Born appreciated a cotton lining anyway, instead of having scratchy polyester all over her torso. These complaints all flow so nicely to the next subject: the fabric itself. I have never worked with taffeta (polyester or otherwise) in my life, and only used organza once (for a princess dress for our realtor’s daughter… it’s on my Instagram if you fancy a scroll), so I can’t really say if all taffetas and organzas behave this way. Let me tell you, and I cannot emphasize this enough: this taffeta frays constantly merely by looking at it. I suppose the good thing about this being polyester, is that it was relatively easy to work around this… I started keeping a lighter on my sewing table, and right after every single cut to the taffeta, I would quickly run the flame near the edge of the material and melt the edge together. Use this technique with caution, lest you send your whole project up in flames. The organza was also prone to fraying, but I did expect it, and it wasn’t half as bad as the taffeta. However, this particular organza would get snagged very easily… much like the nylon stockings I used to splurge on… is this just typical with nylon in general?? The organza I used for Second-Born was much more user-friendly.

All-in-all, this dress is riddled with mistakes and poor-workmanship… perhaps I should call it “inexperienced-workmanship”… but my daughter cried when she tried the completed dress on for the first time, and kept going on about how she felt like a real princess, like Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia (she is going through a Romanov phase)………… so I accept this a hard-won victory, and certainly a valuable learning experience.

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Two Nightgowns for Girls

Since these nightgowns were made together out of mostly the same materials, I am putting them together into one post. A thorough description of materials used (with links) is below the photos, so keep scrolling!

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Pattern: First-Born’s pattern is a vintage (circa 1950s) Simplicity pattern #1828. Second-Born’s pattern is also vintage Simplicity, pattern #4502. Neither are any longer in print, however Simplicity frequently reprints vintage patterns, so take a look!

Fabric: Mood Fabrics Pink 100% pima cotton broadcloth (as of this writing, it is out of stock, but other colors are available!). The description from the website is as follows, “Need the perfect fabric for upscale shirting applications? Here is a 100% pima cotton broadcloth with a fabulous hand and an amazing, soft and supple drape. Pima is considered one of the best grades of cotton available. Along with being a broadcloth (which is a densely woven and fine fabric normally comprised of wool or cotton), this cotton is both combed and mercerized for additional luster and richness. Laying at 44″ to 45″ in width, this fabric is crease resistant, light-weight, and just crisp enough for the creation of quality shirts and blouses. Note: This pima cotton has been yarn-dyed, is almost completely opaque, and is machine washable.” 100% cotton, 44 inches wide.

Notions: First-Born chose white buttons from Joann, and Second-Born chose a mix of pastel pink and blue! The eyelet lace used to trim both collars, and First-Born’s sleeve cuffs is also from Mood Fabrics, and is the cream ruffled eyelet trim.

Extras: As you can see, Second-Born’s collar and trimmings are not as pictured in her pattern! I intended to use that style, however I found the directions confusing, there was no pattern piece for the collar (it wasn’t lost, it simply wasn’t in the pattern piece list in the first place), and I couldn’t find the correct materials for the ribbon trim. I do love the ruffle at the bottom of her gown though! So I think she made out all right in the end.IMG_0551.JPG

Historically In-accurate 18th Century Girl’s Gown

This weekend was busy with celebration and excitement because it was my birthday (I’m now 31!), and more importantly – we went to Colonial Williamsburg with the big girls dressed in their latest finery! The dresses and kerchiefs were made by me, but their caps were purchased at the Mary Dickinson Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. I also made red wool cloaks for them, but I will write a separate post about those and provide the link here once finished. Detailed descriptions, product links, and photos are below!

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Visiting the home of a dear historical friend, Mary Geddy (she was a real girl!).

Pattern: The kerchiefs had no pattern, they were large squares, on which I sewed a narrow hem all around. The “Princess Costume” pattern is M5731, and is from McCall’s, and I used View D. The pattern retails for $15.95, but the manufacturer has very frequent sales, and this pattern can often be purchased for around $4.

FabricThe majority of the dress is the dark blue floral stretch cotton sateen from Mood Fabrics. This print is also available with a white background. Product #119758, it is 55 inches wide, and $13.99 a yard. The description from their website is as follows: “A sense of imagination and whimsy went into the design featured throughout this Dark Blue Floral Stretch Cotton Sateen. Its smooth face presents a Jacobean pattern that grows wildly throughout the slightly luminous woven. Add the thin, medium weight woven to your spring and summer wardrobe in the form of trousers, sheath dresses and pencil skirts. A stretch through the weft provides the perfect fit in sleek silhouettes. Opaque, a lining is optional.” I don’t know if I would call this fabric “thin” though. It is quite crisp and dense, and just GORGEOUS. It was a delight to work with, and I want to buy more! The white kerchief and undersleeves are made from the optic white mercerized cotton shirting (product #107431) also available from Mood. I originally purchased this to make a shirt for myself but… #momlife happened and I used it for them instead. It is lovely, shockingly soft and silky, and a bit translucent. I plan on repurchasing this to someday make the shirt for myself that I’d originally planned. The white shirting is 56 inches wide and $15.99 a yard. The description from the website is as follows, “Do you remember that time you had that one specific shirt on in which never wanted to take off? Well, this mercerized cotton shirting is here to recreate that one of a kind feeling for you all over again. Mercerized cotton fabrics are far from your basic shirting as it goes through a process that increases the luster leaving you with a luxurious finish. This classic cotton woven will be a perfect addition to your basics and essentials. Extremely soft and smooth with a width of 56″ to 58″, construct this fabric into blouses, dresses, and of course your classic uniformed shirting. Note: This fabric can be machine washed as long as the water does not surpass 40 degrees Celsius and ironed at temperatures below 150 degrees Celsius. Do not tumble dry or bleach this material. This fabric can be dry cleaned with any solvent except tetrachlorethylene.” The lining for the bodices is some mystery fabric I pulled from the fabric stash given to me by my grandmother. It is some sort of thick, crisp, simple woven, presumably cotton.

Notions: Thread is all “polyester sew-all” from Gütermann, purchased at a Joann brick-and-mortar location. Colors 266, and 20. Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99).

Notes: As you can see, I opted to use the the same fabric for almost the entire gown, instead of the suggested contrast down the center. I didn’t use any lace or ruffles, and used white shirting for the undersleeves. I feel these patterns run quite large, and even though I did want “room to grow,” I still feel I could have gone down at least one size, as the costumes are lumped into only a few general sizing categories. My oldest is almost seven years old slightly large for her age, and is wearing a size 7/8 gown that had three inches taken in at the back and is still gaping open. Second-born is five and a half, average for her age, and wearing a 5/6 with the same problem. The front of the bodice is designed to be very low cut, which is period appropriate, however without a historically accurate chemise (or t-shirt and kerchief, in our case), combined with the fact I made them too large in the first place, would result in a lot of over-exposure. This is the reason why I added the kerchiefs to their costumes, as an easy hack to cover their chests until they grown into the gowns better. Despite this, I fully plan on using this pattern again, but going a full size down for each of them!

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Just young Colonial ladies, loyal to His Majesty the King, out for a stroll.
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First-Born getting a good twirl out of her luscious skirt!
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Taking a rest before shopping for day caps.

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Girl’s Six-Gore Jumper

Another addition to First-Born’s autumn wardrobe, and using the same fabric as the previous circle skirt. She has a thing for cats, if you didn’t already guess. We photographed this the weekend Hurricane Florence was tearing through North Carolina, our southern neighbor. While the weekend was a bit rainy and overcast, we were very fortunate to completely miss the storm after all. Nevertheless, she is ready for inclement weather in her Hunter boots, kindly handed-down by a young aunt.

Pattern: vintage Advance pattern, #8102, size 8. I don’t have a link for the manufacturer because the company is no longer in business, however they can often be found on eBay, Etsy, etc.

Fabric: blue cat embroidered cotton chambray by Mood. It is $13.99 a yard and 52/53 inches wide. The description from the website is as follows: “An ode to our feline friends, this Blue Cat Embroidered Cotton Chambray is a must have for any cat lover. Embroidered cats stand, stretch, and sit across a crisp cotton. Turn its stiffer drape into shirts, shirt dresses and darling flared skirts. Lightweight, it will surely add an element of fun to your spring/summer wardrobe. A lining may be desired as this thin woven is translucent.”

Notions: Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99). Thread is white polyester “sew-all” by Gütermann, purchased at Joann stores.

Extra Info: It has pockets!!! Also has a short zipper on the left side. The pattern called for sewing a placket, but I always prefer using an invisible zipper. This size is a bit large on her, but considering the fact that she still has a lot of growing to do, I didn’t feel it necessary to tailor this to fit.. she changes size/shape every few months!

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She’s better at posing than I am! You can see the zipper on her left if you look close.


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A little lady.


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Yup, it twirls!!


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A childhood well-spent, climbing trees and terrorizing insects.

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Hunting for bugs with Second-Born. Second-Born’s dress and shirt are from Gymboree, and hand-me-down Hunter boots as well.


 

Girl’s Mid-Century Circle Skirt

This is another garment for First-Born because she doesn’t have the advantage of having hand-me-downs ready to go when she has a sudden growth spurt. But don’t worry, Second-Born isn’t neglected: I’ve promised a very special project for her once I’ve finished filling out First-Born’s wardrobe.

Pattern: vintage Simplicity pattern #1741, size 8

Fabric: blue cat embroidered cotton chambray by Mood. It is $13.99 a yard and 52/53 inches wide. The description from the website is as follows: “An ode to our feline friends, this Blue Cat Embroidered Cotton Chambray is a must have for any cat lover. Embroidered cats stand, stretch, and sit across a crisp cotton. Turn its stiffer drape into shirts, shirt dresses and darling flared skirts. Lightweight, it will surely add an element of fun to your spring/summer wardrobe. A lining may be desired as this thin woven is translucent.”

Notions: Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99). Thread is white polyester “sew-all” by Gütermann, purchased at Joann stores. I honestly don’t remember where I purchased the hook-and-eyes but they can be easily found for little money from any of the retailers I’ve already listed, or wherever sewing supplies are sold.

Extra Info: This was my first time using hook-and-eyes and I must admit, I did a rather shoddy job of installing it. But I’m deliberately leaving it as it is because I like having reminders of how far my sewing skills have come. I used to be a mess at installing zippers, and now I’m a pro. I actually enjoy seeing my old garments with poorly installed zippers, as they are proof that I am improving with every project. I also feel it is important for my children to see tangible evidence that their maternal role model isn’t afraid to try new things, and that it’s natural to not be good at a new skill… but that perseverance and cheerfulness fosters improvement.

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Girls’ Purple Playsuit

Pattern: Butterick pattern #B4176 ( currently in stock ) Retails for $10.95 but the Butterick website has very frequent sales, and as of this writing is being offered for $6.57, or $5.26 for club members.

Fabric: Mystery fabric from my grandmothers stash. Seems to have some cotton in it, but I suspect it is a cotton/poly blend. Lightweight, a bit translucent under certain light, fluid drape. In the photos the color looks ambiguous, but in person it is a solid purple.

Notions: Gütermann thread (Polyester sew-all color #320 Dusty Rose) button, rosettes, and bias tape are all from Joann Fabrics

Extras: The bizarre discoloration on her arms are actually Berenstain Bears temporary tattoos.

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If her gap-toothed grin is any indicator, First-Born is pleased with this new addition to her wardrobe in spite of its flaws. She immediately called dibs on this purple material after rummaging through the box of old fabric given to me by my grandmother. I decided an easy summer play suit would be a comfortable way to use this in her wardrobe. After completing the project, however, I must concede that this material does not look appealing in a bottomweight (in my humble opinon) application. The shirt is lovely, but the pants look like scrubs. I also initially made the waistband elastic too loose, hence the bottoms looking like long pants instead of capris in the above photos.

I also noticed lots of rippling in the seams, even though I lowered the tension on my machine to the lowest setting. In future, I’ve learned this weight might work better if reinforced with tissue paper while going through the machine.

All in all, this fulfilled her childish fancies and need for comfort in the summer heat. This was an easy and quick project (as advertised on the pattern sleeve) and I look forward to using this pattern again.20180807_090143

Cotton-Sateen Pleated Maternity Top

Pattern: Simplicity pattern #1472. This pattern in vintage (circa 1950s) and is not available on their website, but they frequently do reprints of their vintage patterns, so check them out!

Fabric: Mood Fabrics Theory Sand and Mother Goose Striped Cotton-Elastane Sateen. Product #304849. Currently still in stock. The description on their website reads, “Glossy, yet sophisticated, perfect for business attire! Here we have a classy, light-weight, cotton and elastane blended sateen in a fantastic, almost tone on tone, sand and mother goose colored stripe. The feel of this material will leave you breathless due to its silky smooth and excitingly soft hand. With its crisp drape and superb on directional stretch, this material could be used to create a gorgeous blouse, dazzling pants, fantastic formal or casual dresses, and more!”

  • 59″ wide
  • $9.99 a yard

Notions: Thread (Gütermann Polyester Sew-All color #506 Sand currently in stock )and buttons (similar here) purchased in-store at Joann Fabrics

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As discussed in my previous post, I’ve learned to appreciate the virtues of pleating! This fabric is a dream to work with and very affordable. By the time I got around to finishing this project, I was no longer pregnant. However, this piece is extremely convenient for breastfeeding in public, and for masking my changing post-partum figure. In this current culture climate, I feel it is necessary for me to emphasize that this isn’t meant to criticize post-partum bodies, but simply to share the convenience this piece offers to those of us who like privacy, and don’t enjoy clingy clothes.

The only downside to this top is that it has the tendency of blowing up, up, and away in a breeze. A tank top underneath may be a wise addition on blustery days.

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And here is the top in its natural habitat: squished up against a mischievous child that is focusing all her energy on preventing me from eating my lunch at a local Colombian restaurant (I ordered the bandeja paisa con carne asada for those of you that care). Second-Born looks on, proud of her protégé.

Girls’ Pleated Floral Jumper

PatternSimplicity pattern #4860. This pattern is vintage (circa 1950s), and is not available on their website, but they frequently do reprints of their vintage patterns, so check them out!

Fabric: Mystery fabric featuring various shades of pink roses on a blue/almost periwinkle background (from an old stash given to me by my grandmother). I’m guessing it’s cotton (possibly voile?) or maybe a cotton/poly blend. It is lightweight, and has a very fluid drape, more so than I’m used to seeing with woven cottons, is nearly opaque, and doesn’t wrinkle! I’ve washed it several times now, and NEVER needed to iron it. I wish I knew what this material was so I could look for more.

Notions: Buttons from Joann Fabrics 

Extras: Pink shirt is from Gymboree (currently still in stock: pink polo ) and jelly shoes are from Walmart (purchased in-store, and I can’t locate them on the website, but here is a similar pair in a smaller size: clear jellies)

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When I first decided on using this fabric from my stash, I was apprehensive due to my limited (nonexistent, actually) knowledge of the material. It is so lightweight, I feared I would invest all this time making the outfit and have it rip after a couple wears. Thankfully this has not been the case! It has held up gloriously to play, washing in the machine, and hasn’t ever wrinkled! I’m truly shocked.

This was my first time working with pleats. It was certainly tedious, but the result is so polished and unique that I think I’m now hooked on the technique. The only thing I need to do to improve the look is make a proper petticoat to fluff up the voluminous skirt to its full potential, especially since this material is so fluid and doesn’t really have any body of its own. A stiffer poplin, sateen, etc might provide enough structure to wear on its own, but truly… frilly petticoats make everything better, don’t they?

Here are a few more pictures for your inspiration, and Pinterest needs:20180602_103855.jpg

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