Jungle Animal Pink Knit 1950s Wrap Blouse

As I just had my WordPress blog’s anniversary, I’ve become nostalgic for the good old days of blogging a decade ago.  Even without being reminiscent, at the beginning of every year I think of the sewing challenge “Jungle January” that the blog “Pretty Grievences” began in 2013 and hosted for several years afterwards.  This year, for some reason, I especially miss it.  Thus, I’ve sort of been doing my own little adherence to that theme anyway this 2022.  I always seem to have animal prints on hand, and even though it is no longer January I would like to share something I made last month in the spirit of the challenge.  I previously posted my son’s tiger printed pants so it is my turn back in the spotlight with my variation on the theme! 

On a whim, for a last-minute getaway we had a few weekends back, I whipped a new top together out of a one yard knit remnant and a “quick ‘n easy” vintage pattern which has been on my radar recently.  This simple little project was everything I hoped for to take with me for the getaway – it was cozy warm, cute but classy, comfortable yet fitted, and sewn in a few hours…what could be any better?  It has a fantastic, artistic array of animal spots in a soft, feminine color combination!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a thick brushed finish knit which is 90% polyester and 10% spandex

PATTERN:  Butterick #7640, from spring of year 1956, original vintage pattern from my personal stash

NOTIONS NEEDED:  I just needed thread, some bias tape (which I made myself of a pink satin fabric remnant from on hand) and two buttons (salvaged off of a pair of my son’s worn out school pants before they were thrown away)

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This took me 6 hours in one afternoon and evening on January 8, 2021

THE INSIDES:  left raw

TOTAL COST:  This was a discounted one yard remnant for JoAnn Fabrics, bought for $8.25

I always itch for something new – no matter how small – to bring with me to wear for every trip we take.  I do not buy ready-to-wear, so I sew for this desire just as I do normally and almost always use what is on hand.  I’m awfully practical, even when I splurge.  Honestly, I do not want to add to my existing fabric stash at this time, yet sometimes a little something new and fresh from what is on hand can be just what I need for inspiration.  We’ve hardly been anywhere since early 2020, thus I especially wanted something new even though we only had a little more than a week’s advance notice for the short trip we were to take.  Having spent $8 on a remnant roll makes my sensible side happy.  The way my top is an easy to make and easy to wear vintage design while still looking very modernly chic makes the rest of me happy.  This was a new fabric indulgence I discerned what to do with immediately so it never went to my stash and is being enjoyed in my wardrobe right away. 

The easy-to-make vintage pattern I used was even more simplified by using a knit.  However, there was only one way that using such a stretchy material worked out here rather than the called-for woven crepe, taffeta, faille, or chambray.  My pattern was a size too small for my measurements and I didn’t feel like grading it up!  Nevertheless, as a knit needs negative ease to account for stretch, the small size worked out in my favor here.  I found a perfect fit in the end after all!  What is still not accounted for is the fact that the envelope back calls for 1 5/8 yard of material and I was able to easily squeeze a long sleeved wrap top with a peplum out of .97 worth of fabric – less than a yard!  All the details I listed to the top are fabric hogs, but by flipping some pieces wrong side up I easily made it work with no compromise to the grain line or pattern layout. 

I did not have enough scraps leftover to tie end closures so I adapted by having both ends close with a button and thread loops.  In lieu of facings, some bias cut pink satin scraps on hand were folded in and used instead as a pretty way to keep the neckline stable yet still use up something on hand.  When I said I simplified this pattern, I really meant that in an extreme sense.  However, I find any 1950s dolman sleeved bodice (where the sleeve is cut as one piece with the main body and tapered in at the wrist) like this one is always easier to be more efficient for both layout and fabric amount.  They are also comfortable sleeve drama that was popular in the 1950s, which I may have something to do with the fact there are so many 1 yard or less projects from this era.  Everything about this project working out on one yard was only possible because the selvedge width was 54” wide and I was using a smaller size pattern.  Anything narrower in width and I would have at least been forced to go with ¾ sleeves or cull the peplum.  

I had no real choice but to abridge the pattern to a point because almost everything was missing from the envelope.  I believe this was one of the many patterns in my life which have been handed off to me by others looking to downsize their own stash as I do not remember buying it.  Either way – there was nothing but the main body front, main body back, and one waistline tie end present.  The long sleeves had been cut off the main body at the short sleeve lines, and I felt very lucky indeed to have them still included since everything else was missing.  I had to draft my own peplum pieces basing my design off of both the garment measurements and the drawings on the envelope back.  I would like to revisit this pattern again in the future (with a lovely vintage striped cotton in my stash) and give myself a reason to draft the rest of the pieces – the collar, neckline facings, sleeve cuff, and second tie end.

For such a cheap, quick project I wanted to spruce it up a bit with something extra handmade.  I had picked up 3 strands of turquoise dyed Wagnerite (a natural mineral) over the Black Friday JoAnn sale last year at $2 a pop.  In an hour, I finally turned those pebbles into a double strand necklace to bring out the beautiful aqua undertone in the print as well as match the handcrafted earrings bought from a gem, mineral, and fossil show.  I love crafting my own jewelry for outfits.  It showcases just another of the many aspects to my maker’s talents.  It is also an unexpected way to continue my self-made closet besides personally curating my individual style.

I paired my blouse with a ready-to-wear wool tweed bias cut skirt that I have enjoyed in my closet for the last 20 years.  It mimics the figure hugging skirts styles that were a not so well-known fad of the 1950s.  French fashion of the era in particular, but in general the higher end fashion scene worldwide, revived the curve baring, slim fitting, bias cut skirts of the previous 1930s decade for an elegant variation on the more widely known “wiggle” look.  I felt my top’s peplum would complement my hourglass body type in such a skirt.  Along this vein, I am wearing my 1930s inspired ankle boots from Hotter shoe company because the weather that day was cold, rainy, and messy for traveling. 

I will not be straying too long from the jungle, so if you love this top’s print as much as me you will not be left hanging.  I love animal prints too much to not come back to it soon enough.  I have an amazing rayon knit border print that has an animal theme and I intend to finally sew a summer dress using it this year.  If nothing else, I hope I have given you yet another idea of what to make with those smaller sized vintage patterns that seem to be so plentiful on the market…sew them up in a stretchy knit and take advantage of the forgiveness the material bestows!  This is an especially great way to use one yard cuts (my favorite challenge to conquer) as those smaller sized patterns use even less fabric…every little bit counts! 

Next up on my blog, I will feature the opposite of this simple knit top while still using one precious yard, though.  For a full teaser drop, it is a very complex blouse design made using a fine silk with the upcoming Valentine’s Day as its subtle theme.  Until then, have a great February 14th!  

Effervescence

A dictionary definition says there are two sides to my title word.  It is defined as “bubbles in a liquid; fizz” or “the lively quality of vivacity and enthusiasm”.  Well, the word also happens to be the name for my dress’ fabric print…and it is every bit as lively as its name. 

I am pleased it is also a play on the two Pantone colors for 2021 – “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” (bright yellow) – in a manner as trippy as a psychedelic Ishihara eye test.  This works perfectly for the decade of the 60’s.  I had to oblige my inspiration by using a vintage pattern to make this dress a reality soon than later.  I need the mood boost this color combo promises!  Pantone explains it thus, “”Illuminating” is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming shade imbued with solar power. “Ultimate Gray” is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.”  Such a summary makes my dress sound like a grounded, tangible interpretation of effervescence to me, and I like the sound of that!  Add in a dash of turquoise – just about my favorite color – and I am a happy girl.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a 100% cotton “Effervescence” design print in the “Riviera” color way by Amelia Caruso for Robert Kaufman  

PATTERN:  Simplicity #8591, re-issue of a year 1961 Simplicity #3782

NOTIONS:  Lots of thread, one 22” zipper, and some bias tape

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This dress would have been even quicker to sew if I hadn’t had fitting problems…as it was this was a reasonable 5 hours to finish.  It was done on June 18, 2021 and ready to go with me for a weekend getaway!

THE INSIDES:  cleanly bias bound

TOTAL COST:  For 1 ½ yards at 45” width my total price was $18.  My fabric was bought from “Bits & Pieces” shop on Main Street in downtown Hannibal, Mo.  I highly recommend their shop – it has high quality offerings at reasonable prices and excellent service!!

This is yet another experiment with a border print fabric.  This time I had the border run up starting from along the bodice waistline.  With this layout the border ends with its vertical stripes across the bust line.  The remaining overall print is used for the skirt as the border runs along just one selvedge.  I have seen this layout in mostly 1950s era dresses, and I feel that a pattern from the very early 60’s wouldn’t be too far of a stretch.  The perks to such a use of a border print is that it visually slims down the hips by overly emphasizing the bust and shoulders.  Granted, this dress has a full skirt that sort of negates that benefit, yet I did greatly pare down the gathers from the original design in my own version.  This was equally due to being short of fabric as it was because I wanted the skirt more manageable.  I only bought 1 ½ yards of material because I originally planned on making a blouse.  Soon however, a better idea presented itself, as you can see.  I’m glad I chose to sew this up as a fun, simple frock. 

I think the crazy print and the fact this is above my knee in length, as well as sleeveless, helps this dress has a slight 60’s air.  Yet, the classic bodice and the gathered skirt, even if it isn’t very full, helps this dress be a call-back to the 50’s decade.  I wanted this to be an example of what the fashion of the early 60’s was…a thorough mix of both decades.  Styles didn’t change overnight.  What we think of being the stereotype fashion for a decade in the 19-something era is often a fad that came later on at the end of those 10 years.  The mod youth fashion of the 60’s wasn’t a widely adopted style until after ‘65.  Before then, there were a lot of deceptively 50’s looks.

Let the ‘vintage’ labelling be darned here, nevertheless, because the bodice is pretty close to having design lines of a basic two dart bodice block, also called a sloper, and the skirt is self-drafted by me to accommodate my lack of yardage.  Thus, I truly don’t know how 1962 it is on paper at this point.  It’s all about the styling here I suppose.  I almost always have a vintage influence in my choice of accessories and the way I fix my hair, so there’s that.  I do love how versatile this dress is – it can be vintage looking or not as I choose.  Either way, it’s a comfortable, sensible dress that will work for several seasons, too.  Adding a grey blazer, fun tights, and booties might creatively make this dress work into the cooler temperatures of fall or spring.

For being so basic, though, the bodice of this retro re-issue fits horribly.  For me, the torso length was very tall (long), the bust points were high on the chest, the shoulders were generously tall, and the armscye openings were very tight and restrictive.  I needed to do lots of tweaking and try-ons, including cutting several inches off of the waistline length, which only made me crabby such a “simple-to-make” dress wasn’t living up to its promise.  Yet, if you do the work at the pattern stage to perfect this bodice to your measurements this would be good shortcut to having your own sloper bodice block to use to future self-drafting.

This is a fussy pattern, but once I found the original to the reprint, I feel comfortable surmising the reason why.  Simplicity #3782 was originally a teenage and junior’s proportioned design.  I’m wondering if in re-sizing it up to adult woman proportions, they drafted it badly and threw the fit completely off.  How Simplicity allowed this to be printed this way is disappointing and beyond me.  What about standard sizing and quality control?  In whatever way it happened, something is wrong with the new #8591, and I might not be coming back to use this re-print again.  If you do try it, make sure to be prepared for some fitting frustrations along the way to completion.  

In all else, though, I love how this turned out.  I achieved a very good zipper insertion despite doing it by machine, bias bindings were much simpler than facings, and self-drafting skirts is such a joy for me.  The circumference of my skirt hem is the whole of the 1 ½ yard stretch of material and I took advantage of the other selvedge to avoid having to sew a hem.  From the waist down, my skirt is about 22” because the border at the other selvedge edge went towards the bodice.  As I my fabric was originally 45” width and I had to use extra inches along the border to match the stripes, this shorter-for-the-50’s-style skirt was all I could eke out…but I like it, after all as I said. 

A fully gathered skirt would not work I knew, yet at first I gathered only the sides over the hips.  This did not look right – it was much too poufy.  I unpicked the gathers and made a few 3” long half inch wide tapered darts on each side to ease out the total at the waist without taking any out of the hips.  This way I get a lovely bell shape to the skirt and an appearance of fullness to the small yard plus bonus length around.  Ah, isn’t the best part of sewing the way you can make the most out of what little material you may have?!?

Ready to walk down the famous Beale Street in Memphis!

I keep surprising myself at the amount of dresses I can make out of just over a yard.  This one has a full skirt to boot, though!  It was a happy last minute creation that was whipped together so it could have its grand promenade on a trip out of town.  Memphis, Tennessee was hot as blazes that day, but I was staying cool and looking good.  What is there not to be ecstatic over here?  I would say the print is very aptly an energetic word of life and activity the way my dress finally turned out, but then again most all of my handmade wardrobe gives be that happy confidence as well as this one. 

Have you specifically tried to wear the two Pantone colors for 2021, separately or together?  What do you see in my dress’ print – bubbles in a fizzy drink or a color test for your eyes?  Do you believe along with me that there is a special “effervescence” which exudes from someone who wears something handmade? 

No-Sweat Scuba

Modern day fashionable scuba knit has a reputation of having insulating properties which often renders it uncomfortable for any warmer weather.  “Surely this does not have to be the case?” I have always thought.  “There must be a way around designating it for winter or sweating uncomfortably in scuba knit”…this has been knocking around in the backburner of my creative brain.  Anyone who knows me is aware I love a creative challenge, and I enjoy pushing real or assumed boundaries in sewing.  I do find this still new-to-me neoprene fabric a joy to work with (for its extreme ease to sew).  Yet it’s also a pain at the same time because I normally despise polyester.  However the siren’s call of a sewing mystery overcame such objections in my head.  Now, several projects in on experimenting with scuba knit, I think I have finally found a way to be able to appreciate wearing it in any season or weather!

Using a Burda Style pattern for a wrap-on sundress, this scuba creation just floats on my body and minimally hugs my skin for a sweat-free experience, whatever the temperature!  It is a design with simplicity of shape yet small details that are special.  It covers enough skin for my taste but is also daring enough to be a bit of a departure from my regular way of dressing.  The foiled print of the fabric causes this dress to seem so fancy yet overall it is not so much over the top to still be wearable for many occasions.  For a look a bit outside of the box, this sundress actually works pretty well worn as a jumper over a blouse or even a turtleneck for the winter.  It was so remarkably easy to sew, as well, being a one evening project.  In all, I could not be more pleased with this new creation!  Not too often does an elegant dress turn out so versatile.  I do believe I found the best balance yet for creating with scuba knit!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a suede finish polyester scuba knit

PATTERN:  Burda Style “Jersey Wrap Dress” pattern #101 from July 2016

NOTIONS NEEDED:  nothing but thread and two buttons (from on hand)

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was whipped up in 2 hours from start to finish on April 6, 2020.

THE INSIDES:  …left raw as scuba knit does best

TOTAL COST:  The fabric was bought on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics at about $30 for 3 yards.

From the moment I saw this Burda wrap dress pattern, I loved it but for some reason it took me 4 years to finally find the right material to pair with it.  It is always such a relief to find such a successful and satisfying end to an idea so long on the backburner of my creative mind!  I felt that with so much fabric below the waist in the skirt portion, and so little (comparatively) in the bodice, a jersey knit as the pattern recommends would only pull down the bust and straps to the point it might either warp the fabric or mar the look of it hanging on the body (maybe both).  A scuba knit has a good stretch but is also quite stable so it was the perfect unconventional choice.  I also immediately saw that the wide sweeping hem of the dress would be a beast the make a tiny hem upon, so the scuba knit wonderfully simplified this step.  Along this line I also left out any bodice facings or edge finishing.  A raw cut edge is just fine as it is when it comes to a scuba knit – so simple!

Perhaps the most interesting feature to this dress is the dual shoulder straps, cut on (continuous) with the front bodice piece.  I love the way there are pleat-like folds that form in the front by this design feature!  You have to turn each strip in on itself to create two tubes (more or less) connected to the bodice, and then stitch those to the back bodice.  I did not iron them down flat – I liked the puffy way they look and feel on my shoulders.  Just to note, I did not change up the design of the straps at all, I merely did not twist the two straps together as the pattern’s line drawing shows and instructions intended.  To stabilize the straps (they cannot have any stretch but need to support the whole of the dress), I sewed in sheer mesh “stay tape” with the stitching.  

The deep, wide bottom flounce panel to the skirt gives this dress such a fun flair.  It is also the reason this dress needs so very much fabric!  As I did not hem this dress (scuba knit, remember?) but traced out the pattern as if it was going to have one, it ended up a pretty midi length I think is a bit elegant.  This is the same reason the neckline was a bit higher than it was supposed to be…no edge stitching because of no hem facing.  That’s fine for me – I like the slightly better coverage so as not to show cleavage. 

In lieu of long ties to close this wrap dress, I opted for a simple but fancy button closure using the one faux crystal notion leftover from making this cocoon coat (posted here).  Inside the wrap, I used a single unmatched wooden button from on hand.  To make the loops, there is a small remnant of ¼ bias tape sewn down in half lengthwise and stitched to the edge of the waist seam.  The rich-toned, silver accented fabric speaks volumes on its own…long fussy ties would distract from that.  Keeping the dress’s features relatively low-key adds to its versatility, as I said above. 

Yes, I know, I might seem to contradict myself by overdoing the simplicity of the dress by adding a lot in terms of accessories.  I went all out by adding grey stockings, bling (made by me), layers of pearls (vintage from my Grandma), braided up-do (can I brag about my upside down French braid?), and hair flowers (handmade for this dress), but can you blame me?  This was the outfit I had for our quarantined celebration of our wedding anniversary.  As this year’s celebration was at home, I had to go all out with my outfit, right?!

It’s amazing just how much can change a sewing project like the choice of fabric.  In this dress’ case, the scuba knit elevated a simple, casual sundress into something deluxe and helped me find a new way to appreciate such a modern material.  The skirt has more fullness to its silhouette and the entire dress keeps its shape better with the scuba…all just what I was aiming for originally.  What I did not plan for was for me to like this project as much as I do.  I felt rather doubtful and experimental at both the outset and the sewing of the dress.  It’s so nice to have your expectations exceeded by a successful sewing project!  I attribute it to giving scuba knit one more reluctant try because I had a wild sewing idea that gave me renewed energy.  Never be afraid to be creative, inspired, and follow your dreams.

Bittersweet

This time of the year always makes me a bit melancholy.  There’s just something about the beauty of gradually realizing summer is fading into fall, and seeing the season gently usher in the upcoming cold I despise.  I am not one to have Halloween in my blood the minute September rolls around.  Instead, I like to let the fall season come in barely perceptible stages, as it does naturally, and enjoy its every transition.  The sun might be just as bright but there is a different smell in the air.  The cricket chirps are louder without the competition from tree frogs and cicadas.  The night settles in a bit earlier.  Fall’s entrance is indeed bittersweet in emotion, which is why I find it so ironic I love the shades of bittersweet, the plant, because it also is the time of the year I can appropriately wear the most gloriously rich earthen tones of that vine – browns, tawny shades, dusty green, a wine red, and hues of gold.  This little vintage number is early fall embodied in a dress!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a sheer printed polyester crepe for the dress and some colored jute ‘ribbon’ with some leather cording scraps for the belt

PATTERN:  Vintage Vogue #9295, reissued in 2018, labeled as a year 1940 design.  The original pattern was Vogue #8241, an “Easy to Make One-Piece Frock”, featured in Vogue Patterns booklet for March 15, 1939.  What is up with the confusion of the original date on the cover of the reprint?  My me-made belt was made with no pattern…just an idea in my head!

NOTIONS:  I needed nothing but the basics – thread, some skinny ¼ inch bias tape, and a small 14 inch side seam zipper

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Even with all the fine finishing inside, this dress took me only 5 or 6 hours to complete and the belt was made in 30 minutes.  Both were finished in May of 2020.

THE INSIDES:  All French seams

TOTAL COST:  This dress is practically free as all my supplies came from a local sewing rummage sale where everything was $1 per pound of weight…so my frock may be a dollar at the most!  My belt was made from some sort of multi-colored jute ribbon I bought on clearance many years ago when the now defunct Hancock Fabrics was closing.  I bought 2 yards of it for about $5.  The leather cording is leftover from a hat I had on hand (free).  This is a $6 outfit!!!

This is quite an interesting dress, full of contradictions.  First of all, it is a very classic dress design for 1939, with a very basic general construction and silhouette yet very interesting, tricky-to-make little details.  It is a sweet and feminine dress and tries to be complimentary with no real body shaping profile to it at all.  It is certainly not your 50’s take on a ladylike style, nor even a 40’s ‘I’m-ready-for business’ style…this is softer and more delicate without being girlish.  Even though the drawing makes one think this pattern might be scaled for a very tall woman with long legs, the proportions seem to be the opposite.  Sewing my dress as-is straight from the tissue, no fitting adjustments, it turned out perfect for my almost petite height (5’3”) and my short (14 ½”) back-of-neck-to-waist ratio.  The envelope’s yardage chart recommends anywhere between 2 ½ yards to 3 yards depending on the fabric width, yet – believe it or not, but I am the queen of optimal pattern placement – I was able to eke this dress out of 1 ¾ yards, with no compromise on grainline.  What gives here?  Overall, this was a quick treat to whip together and is a new dress that I absolutely love to wear, so I will not complain…not a bit.  I’m just warning every reader not to read this dress by its cover.

The full skirt, puff sleeves, and the bloused-out bodice are the obvious, and well-known visual giveaways for its original date.  Yet, somehow, the way Vogue styled their model and sewed up their sample dress made it seem more like a 1980s garment.  Weird, right?  That is an unfortunate reference which I do believe has turned off a number of sewists from potentially picking up this pattern to try it out because anything blatantly 80’s seems to repulse many.  As I said above, do not judge this by how Vogue has marketed it.

The decade of the 80’s does not give me an immediate adverse reaction and neither do puff sleeves, and so I tried to focus instead on the line drawing and give the design a chance.  I’m so glad I gave it a go!  It does have a bloused-out bodice that is something not all women will have a taste for today, yet it is very authentic, if you look at how garments fit women in old photos from the 40’s.  This dress has good lines, but it just cannot make up its mind what decade it wants to be in, and is not as timeless as other vintage designs.

 I dare to say it has a “cottage core” or “Laura Ashley” aesthetic at heart, with everything I still love about the 30’s, 40’s, and 80’s, so I’m there for it!  It is as comfy as a glamorous nightgown, with no need to feel to have a certain body image, yet it is as pretty as a picture perfect picnic and as breezy as a romanticized run through a field of flowers.

The one major change I did do on this dress was to simplify the neckline.  The pattern calls for a short back neck zipper to be put into a slashed and faced opening, and then self-fabric bias facing to be sewn along the neckline and sleeve edges.  As my fabric was a delicate crepe, and sheer too, I disliked the idea of a bulky back neck zipper.  I tested out the opening space of the finished neckline and guess what – you really don’t need that closure!  The dress can easily pop over my head without it, thankfully, because I think the dress is much better lacking the back neckline zipper.  Then, I used vintage cotton solid brown pre-made bias tape in lieu of self-fabric facings.  I love the simplicity and bit of contrast that this little step added.  Granted, I still made sure to cut the pre-made vintage bias tape out according to the patterns measurements for the given facings, just so I knew I was still keeping to the correct neckline.  I love it when some of my sewing work is already done for me with pre-made supplies, yet by using such quality vintage notions, I’m not just taking it easy – only adding a singular touch and putting my stash to good use.

Such a subject brings me to unashamedly brag about the total splurge of my really good vintage supplies on a finish that no one but me will ever see in real life – old rayon hem tape.  This stuff is so wonderful, and if you’ve never tried it, please find yourself some, use it, and you’ll thank me.  The wide and full skirt of this dress needed a deep hem to hang properly and have the proper weight, yet doing so is normally a slightly tricky technique.  It requires the cut raw edge to be gathered softly in to fit.  A regular folded-under edge is harder to do with this kind of a hem and, even on a soft material like this crepe, can turn out bulky and noticeable.

To get the nicest hem that is also invisible when worn, soft rayon hem tape is an incomparable wonder which does the job perfectly.  One long edge is sewn onto the cut edge of the skirt and then the other edge of the hem tape is sewn down to the body of the skirt.  The fabric merely ‘hangs’ from the hem tape instead of being firmly sewn together to the body of the skirt.  A light steaming sets the hem and controls the gathers.  Being out of the silkiest rayon, it gathers in so nicely and its lovely variety of colors that can be found make for a cheerful little splash of added beauty.  I chose a sky blue pack from on hand, and it contained a 3 yard length which was just enough for the skirt width with an inch or two to spare.  I do get a little concerned every time I use one of these vintage rayon hem tape packs because I know they are a limited resource and are not made anymore.  When they are gone, they will not be coming back.  Yet, what good will such items do me stashed in my notions drawers when they can be used and both bring me joy on my handmade garments as well as teach me a better way to do a sewing technique?  I rest my case.

Keep in mind the tiny, 1/8 inch pintucks are oppositely directional. They fold towards the center for both the front and the sleeves.  This was quite a challenge to accomplish when also sewing the edges into the skinny bias tape along the edges, but a little hand stitching finished off what I could not do using my machine.  Since the neckline and sleeve pintucking is practically the only major detail to this dress, it is well worth the extra time it demands.  There were so many thread ends to tie off though!  I can imagine how wonderful the pintucks would look on this dress if it was made of a solid color fabric.  They do stand out on my version by difference in texture alone, but are a bit lost in the print overall sadly.  Who knew making so many tiny stitched pleats could make such a difference in shaping when you do about a dozen of them!?

I paired my dress with a simple handmade belt, too.  I had two yards on hand of this novelty ‘ribbon’ made out of different colored jute.  I figured it would brighten the dress up a bit to add in more color -the late 1930s frequently combined unexpected tones to great success, anyway.  So I cut the two yards into half (for two one yard portions) and sewed them together lengthwise using a zig-zag stitch to end up with double the width.  I instantly had one wide belt.  Next, bias tape was sewed over the two raw edges for a clean finish, and then the edges were turned under and stitched down to form a loop on either end for the leather lacing to go through.  My belt kind of has the same idea as the one that came with the pattern, but was more fun to construct because it was my own idea.  I somehow like the belt better when the lacing is at my back and not the front.

The rest of my accessories are mostly vintage originals.  My earrings are from my Grandmother, while my straw hat is a 1930s mint condition original and a lucky find, as well as my kidskin leather driving gloves.  My velvet vintage purse is the only item that is from the 1940s and not the decade before.  Since the dress is sheer, under it I wore this deep purple, full-skirted, opaque 1950’s slip that I sewed awhile back now.  The two-tone heels are reproduction Miz Mooz brand.  I highly recommend anything from this vintage inspired shoe company…it’s like walking on air, they’re so comfy, especially their heels, and crafted with high quality (I have several pairs from this brand now, he he).  Altogether jazzed up, I went for a visit to our neighborhood “five and dime” candy shop to sweeten the melancholy I get from early fall.

I realize that readers on the other side of the world from me are just now easing into spring.  That is the other season of transition, kind of like fall, but with much more of a cheerful flourish.  I understand – which is why a dress like this could also be very appropriately a spring dress, too!  A little multi-season sewing is the most bang for my time spent, and hopefully a good inspiration for my readers no matter where you live.  Have I convinced you to pick up this pattern and give that 2 yards of material which is floating in your stash a chance to shine with this pattern?  What are your favorite tones of the fall season?