Princess in Purple – a Two-Piece Formal Set

I for one cannot fathom the popular princess craze for little girls…pink and sparkles, oh my!  Nevertheless, as much as I despise the whole commercialism of it, I’ll sheepishly admit I know I have some inner princess to me.  I must have – why else to I keep going for long full, swishy skirts, love to dress up, and make and wear fancy clothes even when there is really no event to wear them to?  I even remember as an early teen, I made myself this skirt for my birthday…it was ankle length, full, with a sheer small floral cotton over a darker blue lining and I sewed ribbons to hold the fullness back like a bustle.  I felt like Cinderella in my head…oh the things I’ve been happy making and wearing for myself!!!  I think this is (finally) a classy and adult version of princess dressing for me.

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As this season is Prom time and also officially “National Princess Week”, I thought I would post about my newest, formal, princess inspired creation.  My outfit is both vintage and modern inspired, in varying tones of my favorite color purple, and pretty much made with no pattern and no occasion to wear it to.  I just made it because I wanted to, and it made me happy to make something that I half-envisioned wearing in a dream.  Man, where’s my fairy Godmother to magic up a ball for me?  Granted I’ve already found (and married) my “Prince Charming”.

Speaking of hubby, he finds it funny that “National Princess Week” comes just before “National BBQ Week”.  He thinks maybe the two weeks can coincide with a “BBQ princess picnic” – and all I can reply to this is an eye roll and a mental picture of a recipe for a dress disaster.  What do you think?

THE FACTS:

FABRICS:  a purple poly crepe and blue navy chiffon for the skirt with a magenta pink lace and matching buff satin (leftover from making this hat) for the top.  All fabrics were bought at my local JoAnn’s Fabrics store from their special occasion collection.

Simplicity 1690, Leanne Marshal yr. 2013PATTERN:  Simplicity #1690, a Leanne Marshal pattern from 2013 for the top while the skirt was self-drafted by me

NOTIONS:  I only used what was on hand, but this didn’t require much – specialty colored waistband elastic in navy (leftover from this past skirt project), thread, and hook-and-eyes.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My outfit was finished on August 8, 2016.  The lace top was made in 2 or 3 hours while the skirt took me about 5 hours.

DSC_0017a-comp,wTHE INSIDES:  Nice!  The way my skirt fabrics were cut the selvedge edges are along the hem and waist – the waist is covered with elastic while the hems are turned under into tiny ¼ inch hems.  As the side seams of the sheer and crepe layers are separate, they are French finished.  The top is bias bound.

TOTAL COST:  I really don’t remember exactly how much I spent, even though I recently bought it.  Perhaps I really don’t want to count costs for this one, but it probably wasn’t over $40…

I keep seeing this combo of crop top and full, long skirt popping up everywhere – in some e-mails from Mood Fabrics, in clothes and department store catalogs, in the front window of local formal/bridal shops, and in pattern re-leases.  It seems as if I started seeing such a trend when this past New Year’s celebration fashions were coming out and it has extended into and through the current Prom/school dance season.  I do like the idea of having an easy to wear and/or make option to traditional dresses, especially when it is no less ‘dressy’!  The basic design idea is really simple, too – hey, most ladies have ‘done’ skirts and tops at a regular non-dressy setting – and more body types can fit into a two-piece.  With a such a divided formal set, any little details, every variance of material, and fit differences all can be mixed and matched to have every set different and personalized to each body.  Sorry to ‘sell’ this trend, I just think it is awesome!

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When making my own set, I found that the tops need very little fabric while the skirts are fabric hogs (obviously).  I assume this is why so many of the crop tops to such two-piece formal sets are made of a more stunning fabric than the skirt – you can even out the scales when you pick an expensive material but can make something out of only half a yard of it!  Not that the bottom half isn’t worth it either.  Maybe a de-luxe taffeta skirt might look awesome on the right body/person/with the right color but then you’d need a basic, simple top.  I was tempted to go for the stiffer taffeta skirt-basic top combo, but the inner princess in me called for a swishy bottom.  A lovely lace in the fabric store won me over, too, to the idea.

Very easily do I tend to the color purple…in all its shades.  I still have it in this outfit, it’s DSC_0005a-comp,wjust more disguised!  The inner, lining layer of my skirt is purple, yes, but the sheer, true-blue navy over that combines to make a lovely and new color that changes up my fascination.  (My Anne Klein kitten heels match the over-layer blue, by the way.)  Purple is after all an intermediary between blue and red – so the navy sheer and bright pink are the opposite ends of the spectrum for my lining.  Purple is associated with royalty, making this even more of a princess-y outfit.  Did you know that “in fact, Queen Elizabeth I forbad anyone except close members of the royal family to wear it. Purple’s elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it” says ‘LiveScience’.  Here’s your history nugget for the day…and a reason to buy more purple along with me!

So many patterns for these long full formal skirts called for about 3 yards of fabric.  As I was buying double fabric for my skirt, I did not want to buy or deal with that much fabric.  After all, I was trying to make an idea in my head and sewing it for myself…so why should I confine myself to a pattern at all?  I bought two yards of my skirt fabric and figured things out from there.  I have long been admiring 60’s and 50’s full, pleated skirts that over emphasize the hips and make the waist high and skinny.  Check out my Pinterest boards for some of my inspiration both modern and vintage.  Then, I just used mathematics to make my skirt.  My skirt fabrics were cut on the fold created when the selvedges were lined up (laid out), so my skirt is 30 inches long by four total yards width around.  I know what my waist is and I knew the length of the fabric I had to work with, thus the pleats were figured out the calculating way.

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Double pleats on top of pleats? Yes! I started with deep, sewn-in tucks at the line of the inner fold of the first pair of center pleats, both front and back.  These sewn-in tucks control the fullness of the skirt, keeping in place the under layer of pleats in place so the second layer of pleats can lay right.  You can only see the sewn in pleats when I swirl and my skirt becomes as full as it can be, like in the picture above.

DSC_0019a-comp,wThese double pleats of course make the skirt quite heavy so I chose a decorative elastic waistband to hug my middle tightly.  My problem was how to get it on easily?  I made my skirt have a front closure opening through the middle of the pleats.  It closes with a line of three large hook-and-eyes hidden under the fold edge.  I like to add a brooch or decorative pin over the closure just because it makes the waistband look like a belt, and I do have so many of those sorts of add on pretties.  However, the waist front is also fine without it too, and I’m so glad my hand-sewing is invisible.  Sewing through all the layers – two thicknesses of elastic with all the fabric layers doubled – was tough on my hands.  I was poked quite well a good number of times, as well.  Yup, this was another project I gave blood for…

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Now the top was loosely cut off of Simplicity’s pattern.  I choose the size larger than what I needed, on purpose.  I wanted a wide cropped top to widen my shoulders and emphasize the high waist of my skirt.  Then the hem was cut along the design of the lace a few inches above the waist.  Matching solid poly was cut into bias binding to finish all the edges – inner side and shoulder seams, neckline, and armholes.  Easy!  The only ‘fault’ to the top is that it is airy thin and light, moving around somewhat off of my shoulders sometimes, plus I have to be careful of what I brush against because of the open lace.  It’s just too pretty to find any real problem.  Underneath I’m merely wearing a tube top, but if I ever want a full coverage option, I’ll sew up a second top in a nude or matching pink color.

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Our photo shoot location is at someplace called Tower Grove Park, characterized as “the largest and best preserved 19th-century Gardenesque style city park in the United States”.  It is one of the landmarks to see in our town, as it has historical importance together with lots of spectacular sights (architecturally and in regards to nature).  Among those sights are all the elaborate Victorian pavilions and houses, two of which we captured as the background for my formal set.  For some reason I see Victorian architecture as grandiose, somewhat brooding, mysterious, and flaunting in-your-face elegance.  Those same adjectives can also apply to many of the castles and palaces that many princesses find themselves in…

Have you had a similar project where you made something full-blown fancy, just because you had an idea or wanted to make something specific to wear (occasion or not)?  Do you also find it hard (like me) to have more occasions to dress up?  So many events which used to be fancy are becoming so casual nowadays.  However, there is “National Princess Week” to give us girls of all ages a semi-legitimate excuse to ‘go all out’ the way that pleases your inner nobility.

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“Saddle n’ Lace” Sleeveless Tunic Shirt

Howdy!  Here’s a loose and comfy western-themed modern shirt, made from a vintage novelty fabric with a little bit of lace, a little bit of denim, and a secretive bit of skin for the sun to shine on.  To go with the subtle motif of the shirt, we chose an equally understated western scenery of dry desert cacti and succulent plants.

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This is the garment of oxymorons – I’m wearing a shirt, just a really long one adapted to almost be a dress, and although it has a collar that comes up around my neck, I’m not all that covered up…my back and chest are showing.  The idea associated with a saddle and its gear, along with blue jean material, is one of general rugged toughness, yet there is a good amount of delicate sheer lace to add contrast femininity.  A front placket of brass buttons isn’t completely working, actually, and old fabric goes to make something modern.  I guess it’s merely a case of “opposites attract” or my enjoyment of making my own clothes…probably both!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The printed fabric is a vintage cotton/poly blend gabardine, the lace is a poly polka-dot ivory, and the denim is a medium-wash cotton.  The denim leftover from my arch-waist 1940’s jeans, the lace came from my untouched stash of laces, and the printed gabardine was bought as a remnant at a vintage market booth.Simplicity 1422 cover pic

PATTERN:  Simplicity #1422, year 2014

NOTIONS:  I had all the interfacing and thread I needed, but after a last minute design idea I had to go out around town and hunt down some denim bias tape in a matching color.  The buttons are modern, bought a few years back, and were in my stash of notions.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This took maybe 8 to 10 hours and was finished on September 9, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  All bias bound or self-fabric covered

TOTAL COST:  I’ m counting the lace and denim as free, so my only cost was the special denim bias tape and the vintage fabric – maybe $8 total.

I had as much fun making it as I do wearing it – very much!  Wearing a tunic is new to me (yes, believe it or not) so I did have some trouble figuring out how to make this and what to do with it, but now that I feel as if I understand how to make it work.

My husband’s workplace was hosting a family “picnic” get together at our town’s zoo, and this was in early fall when the weather here is generally warm, but the breeze and shady spots can become a bit chilly.  Thus, my ‘saddle and lace’ tunic was perfect for the day, besides giving me a reason to sew up a fun, new garment for the occasion.  Wearing leggings underneath as well as the denim collar around my neck kept me from getting too chilled but the open top half kept me cool enough in the warm sun.  It is modern, yet not too edgy nor boring at the same time.  Plus it has a level of nice casual wear that I really enjoy.  I really need more casual wear like this in my wardrobe.

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The fit of this pattern’s blouses is generous and but I tend to think the excess ease looks good here.  The pattern was easy, and everything fit together very well, but I especially love the all-in-one collar, where the neckline stand and the first button are part of the lapel.  I think this designing touch amps up the pattern from interesting and different to quite nice.  The overall lengths seem to run quite long in everything – the sleeves, the waistline, and the tunic hem.  Slouchy is the key here, anyway, so no problem, after all.

I must say my choice of using denim for the button placket was not the best decision, and neither was my choice in buttons, but I made it work.  The denim makes the front placket so thick and stiff, besides being quite a challenge to make button holes in and sew through to attach buttons.  The buttons are working but it is such an ordeal that wears out my fingers I never bother because the shirt is loose enough it slips on anyway.  The bottom band I added prevents my shirt from being fully un-buttoned anyway (the reason for adding the bottom piece along with the further contrast it gives), which is why I think of this as more of a tunic.  It was either add the contrast or make an arched-side shirt–tail hem, and you can see which of the two I chose.

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My unusual polka dot lace makes me happy.  With a solid or floral version of this shirt, I think a floral lace would work fine.  However, floral laces that I had just didn’t look good to me with the novelty print so I pulled out this dotted lace.  It’s been in my stash for over 10 years, and I didn’t have that much of it.  Working with this soft lace was worse than dealing with silk.  It was so slinky and shifty, as well as having crooked lines of polka dots.  The shiftiness of the lace was one of the main reasons I realized I needed a stable binding for the armhole edges – more denim.

100_6078-compThinking about it, I coined the print as western, but actually the detail of the print is a bit more about equestrianism, particularly English style.  The saddles are drawn quite nice, with a fancy riding whip cross-wise behind it, so it is more like a reference to classy sports riding for show.  Nevertheless, having saddles and their related gear pictured all over my shirt I couldn’t pass up a chance to ride a wild animal…on the carousel!  I chose a warthog and our son rode the giraffe.

There were so many ideas in my head of what I could make with the saddle printed fabric, yet what I did make was what really appealed to me.  Fancy western shirts, tailored with contrast details, or even a fun 50’s novelty-themed skirt were all on my list of possibilities here.  Then, as the indecision kicked in, I was tempted to save it, but it is too cute to hide in a fabric bin.  I suppose most of those who sew have one of these projects that somehow begs to be made up a certain way, no matter other ideas.  I’m glad I listened…

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Wallpapering a Tent

The idea in my title might sound ridiculous but hey, what if you really felt comfy in the tent and wanted to stay awhile? What if that tent’s ocular pleasantries are a bit ‘dated’ but still ‘old-fashioned’ enough to be cute? Well…what if that “tent” I’m speaking of is something worn in the form of an over-sized vintage nightgown, and the “wallpaper” is a quaint but soft cotton? Bingo! Hello year 1969.

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This project was not my own choosing or doing, actually, but was kindly passed on to me by my mother-in-law. It was begun by her and completed up to the point before the marking of the pieces and sewing them together takes place. I was tickled, happy, and (later during sewing) slightly skeptical of the finished project, but now I truly enjoy the nightgown and am glad I got to finish it. The nightgown was even sewn on the machine given to me by my mother-in-law, one which had been her mother’s. My Grandmother’s stash gifted to me provided the lace. By using thread to link the past and present together, I get to wear a piece of the family’s memories.

THE FACTS:Simplicity 8457, year 1969 nightgown and bed jacket pattern

FABRIC:  It is a very soft but also quite sheer (va-voom!) printed cotton that might have a small blend of poly…but I’m not sure.

NOTIONS:  Every notion came from what I had on hand – two colors of bias tape packs, ivory thread, two buttons, and some lace (from my Grandmother’s stash)

PATTERN:  Simplicity #8457, year 1969

TIME TO COMPLETE:  As I mentioned above, the preliminary work was started for me, but what I did do took me about 5 or 6 hours to do. The nightgown was finished on February 19, 2016.

THE INSIDES:  I made sure all the edges are cleanly finished inside in either French seams or bias bindings.

TOTAL COST:  Zero!!!

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The size to the nightgown seemed to be a bit on the generous size for my proportions but having a roomy nightgown almost always is a good recipe for comfort, I figured. The original fabric pieces were cut out with a slight up-grading of about ¼ inch on all seam allowances. As the pattern was a size up than what I needed, I cut off the excess to make the medium precisely. Then, as the nightgown turned out, it is a good size for me. I have made several other Simplicity patterns from about 1968 to the mid-1970’s in a size medium, too, and they also fit me well. Hmmm…perhaps these run on the small side.

Luckily, the scraps that were leftover had been kept with the fabric pieces and the pattern. I needed those scraps for some pieces which hadn’t been cut out yet – a continuous lap-style placket for the front button closing and a neckline facing. With the scraps still available, I decided to go all out with the dated look and cut out a collar (which also didn’t come with the nightgown as my mother-in-law gave it to me).  My thought was, I enjoy collars, doing one wouldn’t take much extra time, and the large baby doll style was cute in the cover drawing. Nevertheless, I do not like the collar as much as I had hoped but it isn’t that bad, either. In the back of my mind I think the chest placket would look a bit basic or empty without it. However, the delicate lace around the collar wins me over to it.

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Speaking of the lace, my Grandma’s stash (as I said above) provided the most lovely, delicate, deep ivory lace that I could have wanted. It was a length which was just enough with perhaps 5 inches to spare for under the edges of both the collar and sleeves. Speaking of sleeves, they were originally cut to be quarter length but I shortened them by 3 inches. Cropped sleeves and the thin lace felt more in keeping with the rest of the nightgown to balance out the large amount of fabric everywhere else.

As easy as this was to sew together, it seriously was overwhelming and almost hard to find the seams when working with it at the sewing machine. There is so much fabric for the long length version…which is why it truly seems like a tent when I’m not wearing it. However, on me, the excess fabric seems quite nice and in proportion to the rest. This nightgown is an extreme example of how different something can look on its own compared to when on a body. When I held it up to show my hubby, he said the nightgown reminded him of something to wear to go camping. “Why?” “Well,” he came back, “if it wasn’t so thin, the whole family could stay warm under that nightgown.” That was a creative –albeit unexpected – thing to say, and funny to think about! I’m still laughing to myself just writing it! I think my calling the nightgown a tent had something to do with his idea…

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It actually took longer than I realized to wake up and hear the thought in the back of my head regarding the fabric’s print. I knew that the more I looked at the heavy layer of white in that repetitive vertical design I was always confused, like I was thinking, “this can’t be fabric”. The pastel colored bouquets in between the white swirls were the most annoying part of the print ‘til I was lying in bed on day and I saw the outdated floral wall paper on our ceiling (yeah, we need some renovations…). Eureka – wall paper! I’d finally pinned down what my mind was thinking without my knowing it. This fabric truly needs to have glue spread on the back of it and be pasted up on the walls of a movie set for a retro disco-era background…just don’t do that now that I’ve made something from it. Seeing remnants of this fabric actually got my dad to talk about memories of his Grandmother’s walls. Gosh, it’s amazing what a fabric can do.

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I did not follow the instructions as to where to work the button holes and buttons and decided to stick to my personal taste. A touch of claustrophobia keeps me terrified of anything which fits too tightly around my neck. Thus I left the chest free of buttons and only chose two over-sized pink pearl buttons to close the lower third portion of the placket. With no interfacing added into the placket (or anywhere for that matter), making a button hole in this thin fabric was a frustrating nightmare but nothing a little hand-stitching and some “fray check” liquid couldn’t fix. I’m still a bit frustrated that I took the time to make nice insides but sew such a crummy button hole. So goes life – at least this only happened to a nightgown and nothing made for wearing out and about.

DSC_0087a-compThis nightgown reminds me of an important point. Having one’s own taste is important, and recognizing that fact is even more so. Just because something is “out-of-date” or not conforming to what current trends tell us to put on doesn’t – shouldn’t mean you ignore your own likes or dislikes. To a point, those who rely on “ready-to-wear” are restricted but for those who sew…the possibilities for self-expression through what you wear are endless! When fashion is in the hands of one whose knows how to manipulate paper, fabric, and thread…THAT is a powerful, satisfying, source of enjoyment.

Sure this nightgown is odd, by hey, I’m glad to get to try it out and, gosh, it is comfy to lounge about and sleep in. It is so curious in so many ways, and between me and hubby we’ve thought of several ways of looking at it which make us smile. Since when is different bad?! So, in the end this is one of the strangest ways of liking an unexpected project. Who would have guessed? Perhaps a new and unexpected style might be just the “palate cleanser”, “trial for your skills”, “branching out of a style rut”, or “trip down memory lane” which shows you what you never knew you could like. Who doesn’t like something new?!

Plush Pillow Time à la 1971

So often nightwear is neglected in one’s sewing in favor of clothes that do get seen in public. However, why shouldn’t a seamstress treat herself to her own creations when it comes time to unwind and relax? She should…just finding the time is the challenge! I’ve already made a trio of pajama separates for my hubby using a 1946 pattern (blog post here). Now, it’s time for my own nightwear to come about 🙂

100_4287aWhat better pattern to reach for to make my first nightwear than a family pattern – one which has already been tried and true with memories attached?

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a polyester knit crushed panne velour – a fancy and soft cheaper modern alternative to real velvet. It is in beautiful ice blue color.

NOTIONS:  on hand already100_4264

PATTERN:  McCall’s #3035, year 1971

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Easy as pie! From start to finish, which was on December 12, 2014, my nightgown took maybe 5 hours or less.

TOTAL COST:  As the velvet was bought quite a while ago now, and all the notions were here, too, I’m counting this night gown as free! Zero cost! For anyone else, or if I had bought fabric and supplies, this nightgown still would be very reasonable to make, as it is simple and can be made with a small amount of fabric.

This night gown has been long overdue and years in the making. Back in 2006, I bought this blue panne right after making a fancy top for myself in the same fabric, just in an ivory color. It was then I discovered crushed panne velour to be an easy care, rich looking material. Even then I had plans to make this into nightgown, but I didn’t have a pattern assigned. The only thing I knew I had to have on my panne nightgown was very frilly, feminine, features. So, I remember rummaging through my mom’s stash and pairing my ice blue panne with some old-fashioned lace, the kind which has satin ribbon run through it, along with some skinny ribbon, woven with a floral vine pattern down its length. All these notions were still bagged up with my velour when my parents passed it from their stash to mine a few years back.

100_4293aThe McCall’s 3035 pattern I used for my night gown came to me from my mother-in-law. I asked if she remember this pattern, and – yes! It had been made out of a floral flannel, using the long and cozy view seen at the far right of the pattern front. However, when I had opened up the pattern to judge which view I was going to make, there were three fairly major pieces missing – the night gown back, the back neck facing, and the long sleeve. This meant I was a bit limited, as well as restricted because I only had two yards of my blue panne to work with for my night gown. The pattern pieces are luckily so very simple in their shapes, and do not need precise fitting, thus I was able to make things work.

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Check out those “panties” included in the pattern…so cute but hilarious!

Studying the cutting layout and pattern piece diagram, the back and the front pieces of the night gown’s body looked almost exact. As I was missing the back, I simply cut out two of the front (eliminating the front slash opening markings for the back). I really barely had room for the short sleeves the way it was, so the missing long sleeves weren’t needed. If I do make this pattern again with long sleeves, it would be easy to use a substitute sleeve from my cabinet of patterns. The length I chose for my night gown was more or less in between in long and the short versions…it was all I had room for on my fabric. The missing back facing was another easy fix (for me at least). I drew my own pattern piece based on the back yoke neckline’s shaping and width.100_4265

The night gown went together in a flash. Back and neck facing very nicely self-cover the raw edges of all the gathers from the lower night gown body. As much as I like velvet and/or velour, I do not know why there was no memory of all the terrible fuzz that gets everywhere as you sew. Literally, I had fuzz sticking to my hands and my nose, fuzz caking my feed dogs on my machine, fuzz covering the fabric edges making it hard to find the real ends. What a mess!

100_4292All the fancy trimmings were added after the night gown was done, except when it came to the sleeves. The sleeve instructions were showed to do them in a manner I’ve never seen before. How fun – something new! About 2 1/2 inches away from the sleeve edge, I sew down 1/2 single fold bias tape as a casing running parallel to the hem. Then the instructions said to measure a comfortable width around one’s arm, add the seam allowance to each end of that width, and cut the total length out of 1/4 inch non-roll elastic. The elastic is run through the bias casing (gathering the band) and tacked down so the sleeves’ seams can be sewn together. Ah, I didn’t forget to add the lace to the edge before doing the gathering! Having the elastic ends sticking out of the sleeve seam allowance is not the most comfy thing in the world to have under one’s arm, but it sure made for a different and challenging way to gather a sleeve cuff.

100_4283aI like the idea of living in everything I make myself. It really puts a smile on my face and make me feel self-sufficient. Besides, now I don’t have to be perfectly presentable and go out of the house just to wear my own clothes. It’s also nice to make a rounded out variety of garments. Being someone who sews on a weekly, almost daily basis, making my very own vintage night wear, especially one with a family tie, feels relaxing in its own right – though not something that generally is seen, it’s something made for me, to be myself in, and treat myself to a little luxury I would never buy (or find) otherwise. Pillow time here I come! I’m ready to unwind in my own premium, handmade style.

“Tea for Two” – a Pair of Re-fashioned Cafe Aprons

It’s been a while since I’ve done my favorite type re-fashion: turning a skirt into an apron.  I can only go for so long before I feel the “need” to do a re-use and re-fashion project.  In 2013, a family member’s birthday had given me the perfect reason to sew up a duo of ‘skirt re-fashioned aprons’ – one as a present to give away and one for myself.

These aprons are not your normal aprons.  They are super feminine, fun, and classy frilly kind which only add to whatever you happen to already be wearing.  Being mostly white, and with some amazing embroidery, these aprons deserve to be worn to be seen!

Below is the apron I made for my own use and fun!

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The primary fabric used for both aprons was a fancy ‘Ann Taylor’ brand embroidered “Tea for Two” border print skirt.  The skirt is a stretch cotton which was lined nicely, as well.  The tops of both aprons are from small cuts of fabric – the gift apron’s top is 1/2 yard of a checked poly blend and my top half is a quilting ‘fat quarter’ square.  All other fabrics needed for the aprons came in still smaller potions, like the pockets or lining for my top bib. These fabrics were from my stash of random bits and scraps.
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NOTIONS:  All notions – lace trims, thread, buttons, ribbons, and decoration came from on hand.

PATTERN:  None!  I made it all work as I went along.

THE INSIDES:  Not a single raw edge is showing. Every seam is self-covered or finished nicely by some sort of ribbon, lace, or bias tape.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The first apron I made (with the checkered bib) was the one to be given as a present.  It was made in 4 hours and finished on September 4, 2013.  The second apron, the one for me with the aqua bib, was made on October 10, 2013, in about 5 hours.

TOTAL COST:  The cafe themed skirt was bought from Goodwill, a resale store, for only $4.00, and with everything else coming from on hand, each apron only cost $2.00!

The first step was to divide the skirt into two along the side seams.  I pinned along each side, and sewed the skirt and its lining together 1 inch away from the side seams before cutting.  I did save the invisible zipper from the side, but after my one bad experience I don’t know if I’ll really use it.  Then I finished off the new side edges in white bias tape, preserving the skirt’s original waistband and letting the lining hang free between the sides. Now I had two half aprons ready for bib tops to become full coverage aprons.

100_1958     Choosing the fabric styling for the two different bibs of the aprons was quite fun and made us think about different ways to take a theme and cater that to individual tastes.  Since the “give-away apron” was for hubby’s mother, I let him pick the theme and the fabric (with my approval, as I am the seamstress) for her apron.  He chose a black and white check fabric, which I thought fit well for the French cafe theme.  The check fabric was rather thin (I think it was meant for tablecloths) so I took the 1/2 yard the we bought and folded it in fourths for a nice, thick, stable apron top half that no stain could escape through.  As you can see above, the sides were finished off in lace hem tape, the top edge is on the fold and the bib bottom was folded in and lap stitched to the skirt waistband.  For my apron’s top bib, I took the fat quarter square and cut off two large but skinny rectangles from each side to turn it into a smaller square.  I took those two rectangles cut off the side to be the ties/back closure.  The bib and the ties were faced with regular white cotton from my stash.  This step is why my apron took slightly longer to make than the first one. The bottom of the bib was like the first, turned under and lapped to the skirt waistband.  My bib was sewn differently though – I found the top center, made two vertical lines of shirring stitches down for about 5 inches, and gathered them up to create complimentary bust shaping out of a plain square.

100_3875     Picking out the decorations for the aprons was the really creative part of making the finishing touches.  The present apron received a handmade lace and button flower on the bib corner.  My apron had a vintage looking cameo sewn onto it.  The cameo was originally part of a hair decoration which I had bought many years ago but never worn.  I had it in my stash of jewelry making supplies, hoping to glue on a pin back and turn it into a brooch, 100_1957but I like it much better on my apron.

100_1954     Both aprons were treated to a large single pocket on the right side of the wearer.  They were made from a scrap of black cotton in my stash, layered over with what had been a uselessly small scrap of lace.  Luckily, all I had left of this lace was the beautiful bordered edge, which was aligned along the pocket top.

100_1956a100_3873     Each apron has its own unique and special way of closing and staying on oneself.  I personally have a general dislike for the “normal” neck closures on most bought aprons, where they have single neck ties which pull and hang down from the back of your neck – like a reverse of choking.  Thus, I prefer to find ways where an apron can lay comfortably over one’s shoulders.  The gifted apron was made with ultra-long ties so that they can be crossed over each other at the center back, go through loops at the sides of the waistband, and tie center back.  See my post on my “re-fashioned heart apron”, where I’ve already utilized this X-back closure method.  For my own apron, I came up with my own idea for another kind of comfy over the shoulder closure.  I did not have long ties to use in the first place since I had started off with a fat quarter.  So I made two self-faced ties and sewed them together into a V-shape, with just enough extra to sew under the ends into a loop.  In my stash, there was a beautiful sheer aqua ribbon, which became my waistband.  The ribbon center stays in the loop under my V-shaped neck band, then it gets run through two loops on each side corner of the waistband.  I know it might sound complicated but just look at my picture and hopefully you’ll see that it’s actually very easy, and also extremely comfy and uniquely personal.

100_3881a     All the lace that went onto both aprons came in entirety from a box of vintage lace and eyelet given to me by my Grandmother.  I feel like it makes my aprons so much more memorable to use some familial notions from one seamstress in the family (my Grandmother) to another (me).  My Grandmother’s lace provides a neat connection to the extended family ties joined together through hubby.  My mother-in-law has a handmade project made by me, chosen by my hubby, made using a re-fashion method thought up by my mom, and decorated with lace from my dad’s mother.  All the family is brought together in one apron – and I have the other half!

french-cafe-flappers     Besides all of these reasons to make my aprons special, anything that reminds me of my time in Paris, France (thirteen years ago, by now) definitely brings a smile to my face a warm feeling in my heart.  Ah yes, there’s nothing life those French cafe “friandises” (sweet treats), especially when a pastry shop was at the bottom floor of our Parisian hotel!  Stopping at a cafe was the perfect way to burn off mid-day afternoon “siesta” time in the rest of Europe, too…a time to kick back, completely unwind, and look around at the dramatic opera of life going on around you.  To me, “cafe time” is time for good memories, good treats, and good company!