Midnight Celestial

     I love channeling vintage fashion anytime for any occasion but especially so when it comes to evening wear.  Lavish garments from the past just have a classic, graceful elegance that is attractively timeless.  They are also the sort of thing I most enjoy sewing (and subsequently wearing) but I rarely actually have a proper occasion to warrant sporting such finery.  However, exactly a year ago my husband and I had an especially fancy celebratory dinner to attend for his collage which finally gave me a literal reason to sew a new outfit straight from the pages of old Hollywood glamor.  Hubby wore a true vintage 1929 silk tuxedo set we’ve been saving for years.  I went for something close in era and wore a combination of a pre-WWII 1940s velvet weskit blouse with an early 1930s dress in his fraternity’s color!

     I love the title for this post so much – it perfectly captures the aesthetic I have for my outfit.  The rich toned, bottomless blue of the luxurious velvet being offset by the bright twinkle of the zipper reminds of a piercing night sky.  However, the brushed silver of my dress possesses a cold beauty which calms and grounds the deep blue velvet.  Yet, the way the dress’ fabric flows around me like butter at every move or wind gust lays that icy impression to rest.  To me, the night sky can be an equally mysterious, entrancing, and stunning reference for many Art Deco era evening wear pieces.  Alternatively, this set also has me envision a low-lit Depression era society party where the intrigue and cliques are as deep as the heavens at midnight and the only bright points are the diamonds on the ladies and the sparkling of the drink glasses.  Maybe I have just been watch too many old movies!  Nonetheless, I felt amazing but comfortable in what I wore for the evening, and it suited the occasion perfectly.  I hope you enjoy this post as much I myself enjoy the sewing project I am sharing.


FABRICS:  3 yards of a silver hammered satin for the dress and one yard of a deep blue silk-rayon velvet for the blouse

PATTERNS:  DuBarry pattern #2471B from year 1940 and a French early 1930s “Patron Migaline” no.9, a hand traced out copy that had been given to me by an acquaintance 

NOTIONS NEEDED:  Lots of thread and one fancy rhinestone studded zipper for the blouse

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The dress took 8 hours to make, while the blouse took 20 hours (due to all the hand sewn finishing detailing).  Both items actually were completed in an even longer stretch than this if you also count the time it took to trace out and resize the patterns.  They were finished in January 2022.

THE INSIDES:  French seams are on the blouse but the dress has interior raw edges as the pieces have so much bias there is minimal fraying

TOTAL COST:  The silver satin had been bought nearly a decade ago at the same time I as the fabric for this 1920s dress (posted here) so I vaguely remember it should have been about $20 for all 3 yards.  The velvet was a clearance discount found online for only $10 (can you believe it?).  The zipper was $9, bought through this Etsy shop.  My total comes to about $40, which is unbelievable for a set like this!

     Let’s start off with the blouse since the details are just the chef’s kiss…so good!  It is not only on account of the high quality fabric I used, but I am sure that no doubt helped me be so completely head-over-heels here.  The pattern technically calls this a weskit, which is an informal word for a waistcoat.  This means it is a fitted front closure blouse that is meant to be left untucked.  The amazing part is how precisely pared down the design is by having the entire front be only two pattern pieces.  The neckline, front panel and the wrap-around peplum is one continuous piece, while the gathered bust and underarm section is the second piece.  Five pattern pieces are all that is needed!  If I have perked your attention over my blouse, the reprint company Past Patterns offers a paper copy this DuBarry design so you can try it for yourself, too.  The listing for the pattern is here on this page.

     For being from the DuBarry Company, this is perhaps one of the best vintage unprinted patterns I have come across.  DuBarry patterns were manufactured by Simplicity from 1931 to 1946 exclusively for F. W. Woolworth Company (the pioneers of the five-and-dime store).  They were almost exclusively easy to sew and unprinted, with many styles for teenage young ladies. They were also catered to a different audience than Simplicity so I am overall pleasantly surprised at how fancy the design, well-cut the tissue pieces, and ingeniously planned is this entire pattern.  I have previously had issues with the poor fit and mismatched balance marks with this pattern line – not this time!  I can’t wait to try the other views!

     The blouse was an easy project decision because I had it planned out and ready to be made ever since I bought the velvet fabric and its fancy zipper back in 2016.  I first had to retrace and completely re-size the pattern up from its very tiny, petite size to my own proportions.  The pattern pieces were relatively few and manageable in size so that went smoothly.  Even still, I measured and checked my tracing a million times along the way and fitted the new pattern pieces around me to make sure I would get this right at the first try…no need to make a muslin here!  For the best of my sewing projects, I like to dive right into the good stuff and live dangerously, relying on good patterning skills to give me the right base to start with from the beginning.  This is why, for as fancy as my blouse is, it was by far the easiest and most enjoyable portion to my evening set.  I like it when I can be in charge of a fitting and tailoring a pattern and know it is going to turn out just as I hoped.

     Of all my sewing projects, this may just be one of the best pairings of pattern to material.  The design adds to the beauty of the fabric and in return the fabric gives an unexpected dimension to the design.  The gathers in the bust panel highlight the deluxe plush shine of the velvet.  The velvet is butter soft at the same time making it so easy to gather, French seam, and otherwise work with.  The inside “wrong” side has a knitted appearance and is smooth and soft enough that I left the blouse unlined.  It is an overall dream to wear.  Unlike other velvets I have, this one acts like a true silk (which it is) more than a velvet.  It is quite breathable and adapts to my body temperature.  It was never too warm to wear, and washed in a cold water delicate cycle wash perfectly with no obvious changes or shrinkage or wrinkling.  It did fray a significant amount of fibers during the construction process, aggravating my eyes, nose, and skin, just like other velvets I have used (with the sole exception of this dress’ velvet).  Yet, as long as the raw edges are finished, spending the extra money to sew with real silk velvet (almost always much more in cost than the steal that I paid) is truly worth it.  

I had always assumed I would have a skirt or a dress on hand that would pair perfectly with the blouse, so I never gave much thought as to what exactly I would wear with it.  I did have several items that looked good with the blouse, but nothing seemed like a ‘perfect’ pairing nor did I have anything which brought the blouse up to evening wear level.  This was the hard part…doing a mind crunch two weeks before the event, trying to find the perfect fabric from on hand in my stash because shipping would take too long.  I naturally felt drawn to my silver hammered finish satin, but I had always been saving that for a 1930s evening gown.  I thought, “Why compromise?” into just making a matching skirt.  So I still made a 1930s evening gown from the fabric, and it still gives off the look of an elegant skirt when worn under the blouse.  This way, I can take off the blouse and have a completely different look of its own! 

     That being said, the pattern itself was a nightmare to deal with.  The copy I was given was on some very unusual paper and the lines and balance marks did not seem to be trued up or consistently straight.  I have no idea how much of this was due to the person who traced it or the pattern itself.  I had minimal instructions to go on (a short summary with an illustration was merely printed on the envelope back) and even that was in French.  My French is basic and conversational, and Google Translate does not recognize sewing terms, so that did not always help me out.  My measurements showed that the pattern’s proportions were short (very petite), but at least seemed to be in my general bust-waist-hips width range. Thus I had to retrace this pattern as well to add in two plus inches – spread out over the midsection – and lower the fall of the bust, waist, and hips.  I am almost petite in height myself, so I am confused as to why it was for someone so short.  If it was for an adolescent, it is surprisingly adult and elegant for one so young.  I was following where the waist and bust were marked on the pattern as well as comparing myself to the illustration to find where the seams should fall on my body.

Interestingly enough, the French text in bold at the top of the pattern envelope back is “Chemise de nuit pour dame”.  Google’s translate app said this line means “a ladies nightgown”.  Wait – what? Is this really only a nightgown?!  Is that too literal of an understanding?  Can this be understood as a gown for night, as in evening wear, or would that have the word “soiree”?  Could the 1930s have merely had an understanding of words differently than today?  People who understand French fluently please chime in.  I am having a hard time believing something this intricate is just for bedtime.  The pattern says it is offered in only one size (size 44) and gives basic instructions to size up and then down by adding or subtracting a half a centimeter at the seams indicated by the dashes.  How thoughtful to add sizing assistance when the construction info is a mere illustration!

     Sizing tips or not, just look again at the design lines, with all the geometric paneling throughout the midsection, and you will understand why I felt like either pulling my hair out or going crazy over this pattern.  I did my best to true out all the corners, points, and balance marks, and with all the additions and corrections the dress’ pattern pieces just barely fit on my 3 yard cut.  Then it sewed up as easily as can be expected for a dress with so much bias and so many tight corners…only to find out that it ran big.  The bias gave this dress a wearing ease that my paper tissue fitting could not account for.  I suppose this may be due to the fact that the pattern is really just a nightgown. Some of the excess fabric was taken in simply by sewing in the side seams.  However, I left the fit generous because I like the way it pops over my head with no need for a zipper or snaps or any closure at all.  It is comfortable and versatile this way, and all I could muster to not completely lose my sanity over this tricky dress pattern.

     For all the problems I had with the design, it is really first rate after all the quirks were weeded out.  The main grainline for the entire length – neck to hem – is laid out on the straight grain (parallel to the selvedge).  Thus the cross seams in the main body which create the paneling are all on the bias.  Every seam that connects together is on an opposing bias grain.  This way even though the dress is on the straight grain it ends up hanging on the bias due the seaming but also doesn’t “grow” in length like other bias dresses once the grain relaxes.  How mind-blowing is this?! 

From the way the illustration on the pattern envelope is stylized (Art Deco text with a model who is slim and tall with slender hips), my closest guess is that this is from circa 1931.  The design itself may be 1930 or 1932 but I do believe it is clearly influenced by the talents of the French female fashion designers popular for the early 1930s.  Most of the 1930s evening dresses were on the bias cut, but this one is true to the French ingenuity of the time.  It makes the best possible use of both grains by using prolific but precise seaming, similar to the practices of the designer Augusta-Bernard.   My set’s interpretation where I use an icy silver and sapphire blue combination is very much aligned with the preferences of another bias cut gown expert of the early 1930s – Louiseboulanger.  The triangular paneling even reminds me of Madeline Vionnet’s bias evening gown designs between 1929 and 1933, as can be seen in the Betty Kirke book under the chapter “Quadrants”, (especially pattern number 14).  The stamp on the corner of the pattern has an address of “Maison Mairesse, 3 Rue Saint-Hubert, Arras” and I can’t help but wonder if that place used to be a fabric shop or a couture house.

     I originally wanted to do this pattern in some stripes or color blocking to highlight the panels and seaming but am glad I didn’t for as challenging as it was to perfect.  The hammered finish of the satin has a consistent nap to the direction of the shine, unlike many other satins so the seams kind of do get lost overall, sadly.  However, the versatile color gives me an opportunity to wear this under (or with) many different other pieces in my wardrobe, like the Grecian rope belt I made for this mid 1930s dress (posted here).  The archeological discoveries of Pompeii (Herculaneum) and ancient Greece that were made circa 1930 created an explosion of classical inspiration for the era’s fashion details, especially the evening or bias cut frocks of the French designers such as Vionnet or Lanvin.  I went with a classical theme for our background setting with the colonnades of the historic “Vandeventer Place Gates”.  I was living the 1930s dream!

     There was a very personal detail I brought along with me on the trip to attend the event in my me-made outfit.  My vintage earrings and bracelet were a matching set from my paternal grandmother.  They are very heavy and so over the top, this fancy event was actually a really good reason to wear them finally, besides being a good match to my outfit!  I think Grandma would be thrilled they accompanied me on my night out, and I wonder where she wore them and what stories they held for her.      

My entire set was certainly a conversation piece the night of the event.  Yet, I was by no means under or overdressed when compared to the rest of the ladies present so I was so happy to have known I made the right creative decision.  I was in great company of people that I could easily talk to as there were many old friends to meet.  It was a great way to prove my capacity in sewing to be able to show off my handmade finery when talking about what I do.  When mentioning that my garments were me-made, often it only became humorous when those folks – who had just enough to drink – would then ask to touch my silk velvet!  They had no idea what silk velvet would feel like, and never heard of such a deluxe material!  The mere thought of those moments never fails to bring a smile to my face. 

This is your message to not be afraid to dive into the good stuff you’ve been saving in your stash but enjoy it.  See how much more fun my best velvet and satin are to wear than they ever were just being admired on a shelf or in a bin?  It is such a great thing when you can make such great memories wearing something that you intentionally crafted with love for a special occasion!

More Betsey Johnson Dresses!

This blog’s previous post featured my own version of a Betsey Johnson “Alley Cat” dress, made from one of her 1970s Butterick patterns.  In that post I frequently mentioned the details of my wardrobe’s existing Betsey Johnson dresses.  What I learned from having and wearing them helped me sew my own garment to be authentic to her brand’s style, quality, and size proportions.  I figured it might be fun for my readers to actually see these dresses!  So here is something different – a post not about something I made, but something I have bought pre-made that has inspired my sewing.  Her offerings have been one of the few non-me-made garments in my wardrobe that I find to be just as much a joy to wear as the things I make for myself.

This will be a picture heavy post because I need to show you the glorious details that make Betsey Johnson dresses so worthwhile.  After all, if her brand offers garments that I admire and hold up as sewing goals, then you know they have to be good, right!?  These pieces are from the 1990s or early 2000 decade, and are all in silk material finished with French seams inside.  They are something I bought later than the decade they originate from because I have learned that sometimes being an adult with your own hard-earned money can enable you to buy for yourself the things you never had (or were not allowed) when growing up! 

These dresses are so clearly “me” since they have definite vintage inspired vibes that come from details culled out of the 1940s and 30’s.  The shorter hem length and the tighter fit come from the teenage proportions of Betsey Johnson clothes but also are a clear reminder they are still a product of their times.  In the late 90’s, there began a subtle trend of reworking all the styles from the last 100 years of the 20th century…it’s as if the turning of time beyond the year 2000 was prompting a reminiscing.  Besides, the younger set then was rebelling against the general establishment and designer houses found themselves threatened by the desire for thrifty individuality that the Grunge movement brought about.  There was a renewal of interest in wearing and appreciating “vintage” clothing and it shows in all the older denim, worn flannel shirts, sweet floral prints, bias cut dresses, and plenteous use of silk that was popular for the times! 

Of course, all of this was right on par for Betsey Johnson, whose brand was inspired by fashions of the past.  When she was director of “Alley Cat” she went for remaking “frontier” fashions of the 1870s.  Under “Paraphernalia” Company she used velvet and lace inspired by a funky take on Victorian fashion.  Then, her own brand of “Betsey Johnson” offered a wildly creative, punk-influenced take on modern vintage fashion. 

When was the last time you tried jumping for joy?!

Her garments are not just things that I enjoy but also are something I would never think of to sew for myself…and it’s fantastic to find a ready-to-wear brand that can fill that gap.  Granted, at this point, I understand that these styles are almost vintage now in their own right because the 1990s was over 25 years ago!  Betsey Johnson’s take on the era is not the normal stereotype styles for the decade.  They appeal to my inner “old soul” in a way that still screams Betsey’s spirit of joy and confidence, even for today.  Finding a designer who offers clothes that can fill such a role for my taste is rare (picky as I am after solely sewing for myself for years).  I suppose the added appeal is that her clothes are more affordable than vintage pieces from other brands I admire, such as Yves Saint Laurent or Dolce & Gabbana, for example. 

The best Betsey Johnson dresses can be found second-hand, and some can be a small investment…but they are worth it!   Luckily, I’ve found my pieces as good deals.  Sorry, though – I don’t have an insider’s secret to finding them other than tell you to search the internet or ask at your local vintage shop and don’t be afraid to barter for the price.  Make sure you find a size bigger than what you normally wear in store bought clothes as her garments run small.  Always message a seller for measurements if they’re not provided, notice any condition flaws, and look for the silk content pieces…those are the ones that with higher quality details that were generally made in the USA. (Ah, I miss the 90’s when my country still had plentiful garment manufacturing!)  Betsey Johnson has a trend for having dedicated followers.  Those who seek after her offerings generally keep them, care for them, and wear them for many years…like me!  I’ve got you curious now and you come across one of her items up for sale that is too appealing to pass up, make sure to be ready for something fun and luxurious enough to find yourself wanting to hold onto it for a while!

Betsey had her heyday starting in the 1980s, with sales burgeoning and doing her famous cartwheel that ends in a split to close out every New York runway show.  However, after 2008 the brand was sorely in debt until fellow designer Steve Madden picked up rights to the name in 2010.  It’s no wonder that I was also a “Madden Girl” in 1990s as well…I still have his brand’s black leather heels from back then.  Betsey has since been downgraded to being an employee of her own brand.  Nevertheless, in a recent interview with the New Yorker (see it here), she spoke of considering getting out her sewing machine and bringing back her retro styles of the 90’s and 80’s.  Wouldn’t that be fantastic if that comes true?  Ms. Johnson is now 80 years old and I can only hope that I have as much interest and initiative for fashion as she does when I am her age.  Enough said – onto my dresses!

This one was my first acquisition.  It is probably the oldest one of the three I own, too.  I felt it was the perfect thing to wear standing next to my 90’s car!  The dress material alone makes it dreamy against the skin – the silk is such a buttery soft, slinky satin that feels absolutely luxurious. 

There are necktie-style fabric strips attached to the neckline, little cut-on sleeves, a front pleated skirt (which is bias cut for the back), and rows of shirring all the way down the center front bodice seam.  I love how everything about this dress is so fine, especially how the zipper tape edges are even finished off in dress fabric binding for a smooth finish inside.  There is rayon hem tape on the hem edge and it has been pick-stitched down.  This dress is unlined and in a size 4 which *just* fits me after all these years.  The giant lily print is bold but pretty, obnoxious but pleasing…the classic Betsey Johnson attitude!

My next feature is something I can see my favorite vintage fashion muse – Marvel’s Agent Carter – wearing if she got transported out of the 1940s to live in the 1990s.  (The concept of time travel has already messed with her pre-established story timeline, so I am just mentally running with what Marvel started!)  This dress is in Agent Carter’s favorite color of a deep burgundy, here in a silk crepe that is lined in acetate from the waist down.  It has a 1930s to 1940s appeal with details like the pleated puff sleeves, V-neckline, fabric covered buttons, pleated bodice, and flared multi-paneled skirt.  There is a smart little padded sleeve cap filler piece inside the shoulder top to help the sleeves stay puffed out. 

Even still, what immediately sold me on this dress was the neck detailing.  I do not see myself attempting anything like what this shoulder line has, so this particular dress is an especial admiration piece for me.  There is appliqué work applying the dress’ silk crepe onto soft, burgundy organza in a wavy floral design that runs over and around the shoulder panel.  It is semi-sheer in the most glorious way imaginable.  Then, in the front where the sheep paneling ends, there is a multitude of shirring rows to decoratively add bust fullness.  As if this whole neckline isn’t interesting enough, would you believe it’s every bit as cleanly finished inside as it is outside?  This is 100% sewing goals to inspire me! 

Finally, I have a Betsey Johnson little black dress that is anything but plain.  It is in a unique ribbon silk that has alternate sheer and opaque lines woven in as part of the material itself.  The dress was a great find just judging by only by the fabric’s quality.  However, this dress also directly appeals to my sewist’s perfectionism by having the ribbon silk be perfectly matching to miter together flawlessly at all four skirt seams, even while being cut across the grain on the bias…incredible!  Such seaming is such an understated detail and thoughtful quality so rarely seen in modern ready-to-wear.  Since this is fully lined in an attached black underdress, I conveniently need no slip and it hangs beautifully. 

The fabric may be the highlight to this dress but the bodice still has fantastic details.  The sleeves are triple puffed, the deep-cut sweetheart neckline has a wrap front, and there are rows of shirring to both the neckline sides and the empire waistline.  I went up one number from my “normal” Betsey Johnson size for this dress because I didn’t want the skirt portion to be too tight…it’s never good when bias cut skirts can’t hang properly.  Even though I went with a classic red pairing here, this dress is surprisingly versatile and vies with my own me-made black dresses to be the favorite among them.

I hope this post will open your eyes to see how there can be such a thing as affordable yet high-quality ready-to-wear clothes.  Betsey Johnson has done it within the last 30 years.  Her styles may not appeal to you as they do for me, but their quality and unique style offers a teaching moment for garment production of today.  Even though such details may be few and far in between to find off-the-rack today, it is time to no longer be so accepting of continuously low standards from ready-to-wear.  Keep looking for well-made garments that also appeal to one’s personal style.  Let your purchase show your support for the brands that offer items which will last longer than a cheap tee shirt. 

Between Betsey Johnson clothes and my own personal sewing I know I am blessed to have my dream wardrobe that keeps me both feeling like the best version of myself and dressing just how I wish to.  I hope you find some great clothing pieces that will be something you wear for years to come.  Maybe you’ll receive some good gifts to add to both your wardrobe and your memories this holiday season?  Everyone deserves clothes they can feel themselves in.  Here’s an early holiday wish for a fashionable holiday that can be both sustainable and enjoyable!

Sweetly Spooky Spider Web Dress

There’s nothing to bring my sewing mojo back like reaching for a project that pairs my favorite color of purple with one of my favorite fashion years of 1939!  Add in a little Halloween whimsy via a vintage novelty print – but do so in the superior comfort of a cotton gauze – and I have a dress that is just so good, I’m absolutely thrilled.  I am not in the mood for anything scary or dark this holiday, so instead I went the cute but on theme look.  Does this make it ‘spoopy’?  

You may not see anything Halloween related to this dress at first glance, but – similar to every good 1930s or 40’s novelty fabric print – look closer and you will see the subtly hidden details.  To let the fantastic print be featured unimpeded by excess design lines, I picked a very simple style very classic of the late 1930s and early 40’s.  The basic pattern also helps the softness and whisper weight of the cotton gauze become a dress that is unimpeded by seams.  It is so pretty how it flows at my every movement or just a slight breeze and gives such a gentle structure to the silhouette!  Happily, this was an easy project to whip together and easy to make, as well.  This year I am having a Halloween free from the stress of any costume sewing and so my dress is even more wonderful being the sole extant of my spooky season efforts!


FABRIC:  ”Garden Cobwebs” print on an organic 100% cotton sweet pea gauze, 54” in width, custom ordered via Spoonflower (through the shop “raqilu”)

PATTERN:  Vintage Vogue #9294, a 2018 reissue of a 1939 pattern, originally Vogue #8659

NOTIONS NEEDED:  lots of thread and one long 24” invisible zipper

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My dress was finished in 8 to 10 hours and was finished on October 3, 2022

THE INSIDES:  All raw edges are cleanly, tightly zig-zag stitched together

TOTAL COST:  2 yards cost me $38

This is my second spider web print dress (my first is posted here) but it is definitely competing for being my favorite spider web dress!  True vintage original items in such arachnid related novelty prints can mostly be found from the eras of the 1930s to the 1970s and go for a pretty high price point today.  Thus, I am more than happy to sew, and therefore customize, my own versions.  I almost chose to make a blouse out of the Spoonflower fabric, but the fact I would have had so much material leftover, as well as the way I didn’t know what skirts or pants would match, dissuaded me from turning it into a separate piece.  This particular print seems especially suited for the springtime with the laurel leaves, pastel tones, and subtle webs, and I always seem to think of pretty dresses for spring.  Thus, my train of thought led to find the simple dress pattern I did.  All the pattern pieces easily fit onto only 2 yards with no nap (one-way direction) to the fabric’s print! 

Previous to this this project, I had yet to find a Spoonflower fabric that was anything other than absolutely awful.  I am not a fan of the quality of most of the base materials they offer.  Their cotton sateen is so stiff it can stand up on its own (this dress), their poly crepe does not hold the printed colors well (this blouse), and their regular cotton sticks to itself like Velcro (project yet to come).  However, this organic cotton gauze is an absolute dream come true.  It is slightly sheer, and has an unusual grid-like pattern as part of the fiber weave, but it presents the printing beautifully and is a joy to wear and sew with.  This is such a welcome surprise, as well as a game changer for me when it comes to knowing what to choose from Spoonflower. 

I realized after my order was completed that cotton gauze is found at our local fabric stores in the same aisle as the nursery materials, and so I suspect that this material is often used for baby blankets and swaddling clothes.  Oh well – if it’s soft enough for a baby, I certainly don’t want to be left out from enjoying something superior in cuddliness.  It’s just not what one would think of using for a garment sewing, I suppose, but I was desperate to find a Spoonflower material that was tolerable.  With the spider web print being what it is, and the way I was able to sew it into a cute dress, I don’t think anyone would be any wiser for what I pulled off here working with cotton gauze.  So – I fashioned baby blanket material for me, a grown adult, to wear as a classy vintage dress.  How freaking amazing is the ability to sew, right?!  If you try this experience out for yourself (and I do recommend it), my hot tip is to use a ball point needle (for knits) to sew with and take to time to finish off all raw edges as the gauze likes to unravel and come apart.   

I did see a few reviews and other seamstress’ versions of this Vintage Vogue reprint and it seemed to run on the small end of fitting ease.  The gauze I was working with is a very loose woven and not the type of fabric that I could see working well with a snug fit or stress at the seams.  Thus, I went up a whole size, and I am glad I did!  My sole complaint with this pattern is it has a very long torso length.  The bodice turned out extraordinarily long on me.  I had to shorten it significantly.  Otherwise, I love this dress pattern.  It would be the best bet for anyone new to sewing who still wants more than a plain dress, as well as anyone wishing to dive into vintage styles.  There is lots of room for customization, as well as being perfect for that oversized, novelty, or special fabric print you’ve been wanting to wear.  Just double check the sizing and proportions at the pattern stage before you cut, and you should be good to go.

I didn’t do any real alterations to the pattern beyond cutting the skirt front on the fold to eliminate the center seam. Then I switched up the neckline detail in conjunction with adapting the closure method.  The pattern, as per any true vintage dress, called for a small side seam closure.  Due to the conservative neck design, the pattern combined the side zip with a slit in the front neckline which closes with a tie extension of the bias binding.  Instead, I opted for a full 22” long center back invisible zipper for ease of dressing.  This way I could eliminate the need for the front neckline slit at the same time as making my life easier.  The gauze is so buttery, that I could not see attempting that front neckline slit as ending successfully or being anything other than a stressful effort.  I actually prefer the front neckline having relative simplicity and kept the bias binding tie in the back just above the zipper pull.  This is the same neckline that I already have on some of my past projects, such as this 1940s blouse and my classic Agent Carter dress, but for some reason I think I like it on myself best with this spider web print dress.

I’m so pleased with all the additional purple add in through my accessories.  My earrings are something I made by combining two gradient toned tassels with earring hooks – so simple!  My bracelet is actually a beaded necklace I made as well, to go with this outfit (posted here).  I have found that if a necklace is not too long, but sits close to the neck, I can wrap it twice around my wrist for it to also work as a bracelet.  I enjoy finding new ways to wear items I already have on hand.  My shoes were bought to pair with this “Little Mermaid” outfit I made but also match with this dress’ print, luckily.  I can never have too much purple, much to my husband’s chagrin.

Our location for these photos was a recently shuttered garden shop.  I think it added to the Halloween idea of decay, desertion, and dereliction.  Spiders love to find neglected places to fill in with their webs, and so it made sense to me to wear my spider web dress to someplace abandoned.  Previously, this business had been a standby staple to our neighborhood for over 80 years, and it is sad to see it closed.  It was a busy place while it was open, too popular for us to ever get pictures before now so at least there is some immediate good out of something bad. 

I love my dress’ delicate print compliments the details of the building’s wrought iron trellis work – it has a trailing oak leaf and oak acorn design.  The oak trees grow tall and stately and are the last to let go of their foliage.  To me, this symbolizes stability and strength to have such representation in some trellis work that holds up the front of the building.  However, I love the irony of a strong oak and a web represented next to one another, because a spider’s silk is just a strong in its own way!  Since an empty web is a home without a tenant, my dress has an added vintage-style jeweled spider brooch, ordered awhile back through “Nicoletta Carlone.com”.  Placed on the web over my chest, “Webster” the spider is not really creepy, but rather cute (the “spoopy” factor strikes again). 

This dress is a practical, low-key way to join in on the Halloween fun, but the way it is also a vintage style is so ‘me’.  I am thrilled!  For many, this holiday can be such an exhausting occasion involving so much drama and effort for all types and levels of creators.  Why not instead channel a bit of that creativity to do a quick and easy little selfish project that saves your sanity, as I did?  Don’t get me wrong though – I have had many a Halloween that becomes my excuse to make that full-out, over-the-top cosplay so I can understand anyone who lives for this holiday.  I am not there this year, and this pretty, purple, vintage spider web print dress is all I wanted to make the season special.       

Whether you celebrate, sew, wear a costume, or do none of these, I hope whatever you do for the day makes it a wonderful time. 

Life Happens!

I never intended to leave my blog silent for the last half off August.  I meant on sharing two new outfits here by now since my last post was on August 16.  However, that was also the day my son started a new year of school…which brings a whole dizzying round of pick-up times, meetings with the teacher, parent “homework”, and sports activities that need attending.  Then, I also had to start planning and preparing for a trip with my family (plus my dad and our dog) to my cousin’s wedding (a 5 hour trip one way).

Now that that event is in the past, I apparently brought back more than good memories with me.  I tested positive for the dreaded Covid virus soon after I got home, and have been struggling this week to get over the worst of the immediate ill effects.  Tamed down as it may be by now, Covid is indeed a very miserable thing to catch.  It has brought me to my limits.  I am by no means over the virus yet but I feel extremely blessed to not have needed to go to the hospital.   

So – stay healthy out there for yourself and please have patience for me while I am doing the best I can to juggle life and my own personal interests – like this blog!  I have a new post in the works, but I cannot say how soon it will be published.  I need to work on my primary goal of getting my health in line, something I already have been secretly struggling with even before Covid.  Until that next post, here is a little overview of the wedding weekend!

I wore one of my me-made outfits to the wedding – the “Princess in Purple” formal two-piece set posted here.  I couldn’t been happier since this was the first time I ever wore it out anywhere after making it back in 2016, and was the perfect special occasion.  The long length to my skirt kept the bugs off my legs (as it was an outdoor wedding) but was comfortable and swishy for dancing.  The magenta lace top paired well with the overall colors of the wedding, too.  Everyone thought it was a dress, yet it was an un-stuffy formal look that suited the theme of the event.  Enjoy the pictures of our photo booth fun through the night!

Our son wore a vintage 1960s or 1970s era suit and vest for the evening.  This had been given to us by a fellow vintage loving acquaintance who was looking to de-stash back when our son had just been born.  It has taken us over a decade of waiting for this suit jacket and matching vest to finally fit our little guy…who is not so small anymore!  I love how the vest is reversible in a hounds tooth plaid to match with the piping to the jacket’s inner lining.  The details to the suit are so pristine and finely crafted, something sadly not to be seen on modern children’s dress clothes, which are generally made much too cheaply.  However, vintage children’s clothes are like vintage men’s clothes…hard to find in good wearable condition.  Thus, this suit was a real diamond in the rough that happily survived our son’s night of partying to be presentable for another day.

I did sew a new garment for the trip, but we didn’t find the time to do the side trip we hoped so I will have to find another place for proper pictures.  I did still wear my new dress without the pressure of a proper photo shoot, so all I have is a sneak preview (the first picture in this post).  It is a historically bent vintage dress using a special Cranston Print Works material, the (formerly) oldest textile plant in the United States.  Stay tuned! 

At least I did get to see one of the original stands for Dairy Queen (an American dessert chain), still kept looking as it did when it opened in 1952, with the neon light of a little soft serve cone being an original sign.  It was not a planned visit, just something we happily stumbled upon before we left town, and luckily I was wearing my me-made 1950’s dress for that day (see its old original post here)!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little life update, and find it relieving to know I have not forgotten my blog!  As always, I am grateful for having such fantastic followers and devoted readers of my little space on the internet.  I appreciate each and every comment.  Thank you!