Blue…and puppies : )

Before I get to the “regular” post I thought I’d throw in a puppy pic –

This is my daughter playing down in the puppy pile : ) You can only see two of the eight.

This weeks Sew Weekly challenge was to make something Blue. I had the perfect project just waiting to be finished, all stuffed into a bag, in the closet, in the puppy room…

My husband and I spent the better part of the weekend fixing one area of our yard so mama Chloe and the puppies could be outside together during the day since cooping them up in my sewing room is becoming less and less of a good idea. Chloe is getting tired of puppies hanging on her, chewing on her and just generally being puppies. I get it, as much as I loved my daughter I needed little breaks every now and then when she was small and there was only ONE of her!

So we pulled out fencing panels, chicken wire and hardware cloth. We cleared areas of questionable wood and leaves and finally, on Sunday afternoon around 4 pm…were able to pass puppies through the sewing/puppy room window into the big bad world. I have a twin bed out there, perfect to read or nap on during the summer, perfect for mama to jump up on to get away from hyper puppies.

Only then could I move into the room again, clean off my “sewing” table and get set up for this weeks photo shoot. Here are the details of what was on that table:

Vintage ledger in the background, pen holder in red! and a calendar/postage meter. Postage meter? Yes…

You place the envelope in the slot and the quarter dial on the right tells you how much it weighs : ) Old school technology…

The little guy holds your mail in his coils.

VIntage clock, lamp with pen holders and receipt holder, all courtesy of Sue’s collection!

The old Royal typewriter and yes, it still works.

Address book!

And finally, a vintage address “book”. The small red bakelite tab up near the top can be set to any letter and when you press the red bakelite button at the bottom it magically opens to that page! I LOVE these things : )

SO Sunday evening, as the sun started to set, I finally had on make-up, hair up and dress on sans hem. That’s right, no hem. Didn’t have time and ran out of energy.

As soon as I had enough pics to choose from I took off the dress, pulled on a t-shirt and started scrubbing the floors to get ready to bring puppies back in. WHeW! We did it, but I was dripping in sweat the whole time and am amazed that, without my daughter, I got several good pics.

And yes, that IS a leopard-covered office chair in the back : )

The Facts

Fabric: Blue and white linen from stash, blue poly lining
Pattern: I have absolutely no idea
Notions: 1 zipper, 8 buttons
Year: 1960′s Mad Men inspired
Time to complete: About 4 hours
First worn: September 2012
Wear again? Oh yes!
Total Cost: Free but I think I spent about $18 at some point

This was my runner-up idea for the Mad Men challenge earlier this year. If things didn’t work out with the Pucci print I would have gone with this. Too bad this UFO is also Blue : )

Nothing about this dress was straightforward and it really should have been. I can’t remember what pattern I used for the top. Seriously, I looked through many, MANY boxes and bags trying to find that sucker but no…. I *think* the skirt was from Simplicity 2549 that I used for the Make this look challenge. I have a vague memory of cutting it out but extending the top of the skirt up to compensate for the waistband that pattern uses. I made my own white bias out of a poly linen-like fabric and used my handy bias-tape maker to ensure even width : )

The entire dress is lined so I don’t have to worry about a slip and it helps keep the linen from getting “as” wrinkled. I just like the feel of a nicely lined dress! Here’s my other vague memory of this dress – needing to wear both a spanx AND the tall hose to fit into it. And hold my breath. But now… a few months later, I fit into it just fine : )

Unlike Joan’s dress I did NOT do that little center front neckline piece. I just didn’t care for that design element for me. I don’t like fussy and it felt fussy but that’s the joy of making your own clothing, you do it how you like. I originally stitched the white bias on the skirt closer to the center front and was going to put the buttons on the outside but I don’t remember why. In the end I moved the bias and stitched on the buttons on the inside and then I almost forgot about the bow : )

My daughter was in Yosemite this weekend and unavailable for photography duties so I used the timed setting on my camera. Ordinarily a good idea, this shoot was fraught with timing issues and heat! I’m using the sewing table in my sewing room which normally isn’t a big deal EXCEPT my sewing room was taken over by mama Chloe and her eight puppies a few weeks ago. To pull this off we had to do some major yard remodeling so the family would be separate from the rest of our animals. You can “almost” see the scratches on my arms from wrestling fence panels and chicken wire… It took us all weekend to get part of the yard safe for everybody, get them moved out, get the room re-styled and then me fixed up. Without my daughters help my hair wasn’t as Joan-y as it could have been, and there was no one around to say “stand up straighter, tilt your head this way, suck in your stomach” etc. I felt a little lost.

When I did this series of shots I started out sitting up very tall and as the camera clicked away I got lower and shorter…I was also utterly exhausted, pretty dirty (you can’t see my feet!) and running like crazy to finish everything before dark.

In the end I really liked this dress ( TOTAL HONESTY – it still isn’t hemmed!) and I can actually ride my bike in it!! It’s comfy and makes me feel good. Now if I could only find that darn top pattern I could make a couple more….


Polka dotted love!

The Facts Fabric: Turquoise Silk and black net with polka dots from stash

Pattern: McCalls 3858

Notions: 1 zipper

Year: 1950′s

Time to complete: About 5 hours

First worn: September 2012

Wear again? Probably, at Christmas

Total Cost: Free

This week was all about those decisions we make to balance out what we “need” to do and what we “want” to do. I “needed” to do nothing for three days after Gatsby, I “wanted” to play with puppies. I spent a lot of time letting puppies roll around in my lap, chew on my sandals and just be puppies. Around Wednesday I finally looked through my fabrics for appropriate dotty-love and found the black netting with flocked dots. Ohhhh… over just about anything is tons of fun : ) I dug through the shelves in my closet and pulled out a pile of silks. I have plans for everything in that pile, really I do. Really…

I decided I liked the turquoise the best. The entire process making this dress, from cut out to stitching up, was done in increments around walking dogs, playing with puppies and having to do that work thing. I didn’t have any issues with the pattern but I will admit to reading not a single word of the directions! I do know that there is a midriff lining that I just didn’t have time for, it came down to staying up really late when I was really, really tired or doing the lining. Sleep won, no lining BUT I have every intention of retro-fitting one. Here’s my other reason for “being lazy” – in between walking dogs, biking to work and all life has to offer, I’m also going to play around with Weight Watchers online. I *may* have to take the dress in not too much further down the road : ) At least that’s the plan but since I’ve stated it in a very public way I can’t not do anything, right?

The only thing I changed was I put the center front panels on the fold rather than cutting two. There ‘should’ be eight panels to the skirt, mine has seven. It just seemed silly especially when I wanted to make sure the dots all lined up down the center front! There are 4 darts in the skirt as well as 6 in the top. One of these days I’m going to add up the number of darts I’ve sewn this year, I think many of my patterns are dart-heavy : )

I also lengthened the bodice, I wanted that seam below the girls, not cutting across them. Once again, fitting things on myself worked out only fairly well. Now that I see the pics I think I’ll take the bodice and skirt apart, trim a little off the bottom of the top, a little off the top of the bottom and add the midriff lining : ) Make sense? I also discovered one of the basic bras I wear on the weekend is REALLY unflattering on me! I wasn’t feeling so great about this dress until I put it on sans bra and voila! Everyone was in the right place, nothing was askew, I felt SO much better about myself : )

My daughter and I headed out to do photos…

The sun was going down and it was windy.

More than once I found myself channeling Marilyn and had to keep my skirt down!

 You can also see my cha-cha Yves Saint Laurent shoes I found at the flea market for five dollars : )

Because there weren’t enough polka dots on the dress I made sure to bring along my polka dot bracelets.

They were a dollar a piece at the flea market. Polka dots and glitter for a buck, how could I pass them up?

 But here is the ultimate polka-dotty accessory: Little polka-dotty pibble puppy : )

We’re fostering mama Chloe and her eight puppies and this is why I’m so distracted. But it’s a pretty good way to be distracted I think.

The Gatsby picnic 2012


I made the Featured section, whoo hoo!!!

The Facts
Fabric: 2 1/2 yards cotton from Stone Mountain & Daughter
Pattern: Anne Adams 2327
Notions: Modern poly zipper, belting, bakelite buckle from stash, 4 buttons
Year: 1930’s
Time to complete: About 4 hours
First worn: September 2012
Wear again? Probably

Total Cost: ~ 12.00

I’m not even sure where to begin : )

For those of you who may not (yet/still) know I did a tablesetting blog last year. A friend and I have WAY too many vintage dish sets, tablecloths, etc. etc. etc. that we decided the ONLY way to do our collections justice was to bring everything out at least once, make a fabulous setting with it and document it. Last year we were at day eighty-four when we did Gatsby, I planned for WEEKS and cooked and sewed for days. I like what we pulled off and vowed to do better this year, possibly even taking home the small picnic set-up prize.

I don’t know about you but I’m a theme girl. I LOVE themes. So when Angie and I started talking about going to Gatsby, in a moment of sheer brilliance, she said “Why not do an election year since this is an election year?” Perfect! We chose 1936 because of the similarities to the financial and political climate today. It also meant we could dress in cotton or rayon, be comfy and still be fabulous.

Once we had the election theme the rest was as simple as walking around my house and yard, pulling cheerful, vintage red, white and blue items. We hit Stone Mountain a couple of weeks ago and the only reason I mentioned the amount of yardage I bought was I got the end of the bolt. I LOVE this print and thought it perfect for our patriotic theme. Both Angie and I wanted a rayon print but there are very few of them at any fabric store so we settled on nice cottons. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do one of the lovely flowing hem dresses but since we were channeling simple women surviving the depression it would work out.

In between menu planning, props pulling and playing with puppies we sewed. More accurately, I cut my dress out, Angie sewed. We spent the entire day Saturday getting things together, making Mock Apple Pie, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Motor Loaves. I thought we’d be done with everything, dresses included, by 6 or 7. I think Angie packed up at 10.

I used my Anne Adams pattern for the top, I certainly didn’t have enough to do the lovely inset panels on the skirt with pleats so I used Vogue 8812 from my Vacation dress. Once again, and I knew this ahead of time, I frankensteined the back pieces. Joy of joys, I put the top on for a preliminary fitting about 7:00 Saturday night and Angie says “It doesn’t meet”. What do you mean it doesn’t meet?? “It’s about 4″ too small across the back”. Oh no… I had a handful of scraps left and was able to get enough to fix the upper back, I had somehow cut the lower back pieces just fine but had a brain fart while cutting the upper pieces. Two hours and a lot of sweat later we were putting hems in. Oh, and I threw a long zipper up the center back of this sucker since I loath side zippers and struggling to get in and out of my clothing. From the moans and groans from the other women in the restroom I’m glad I did.

The next morning I was up at 4 am. Not because I set an alarm but I couldn’t sleep. My neighbors, who already suspect I’m the local crazy cat/dog/chicken lady, didn’t seem to be upset that I’m moving furniture and boxes and walking a dog in my robe at 5am : ) We got the car loaded by 9:30, got in line for early admission and then spent a frantic hour and a half unloading and setting up our “picnic site”. I knew from last year the judges came around before the gates open at 1, and it really helps to be set up AND dressed BEFORE they see you. I think we had 5 minutes to spare. I had also managed to work up a sweat so my hair was dripping wet and half my makeup was already in my cleavage BUT just as we’re trying to figure out the instructions for judging the fabulous Mena shows up, followed by one of the judges!

I was asked about our set-up, the theme, what was vintage (umm….all of it!), what our food choices were and why (I’ll put more details on both my blogs – loransworld and retrodecosettings), why we chose out outfits, what was the book in my hand? (a Judy Bolton that had my cell phone hiding in its pages) and how many times we had done the Gatsby picnic (this was my second time). She kept saying how much she liked everything, that we were very much in the running, they had a photographer taking lots of pictures, it was all quite exciting. Later she brought by the other judge who didn’t seem to be as enthusiastic but we were hopeful.

In the meantime we ate, we people watched and we were treated to a medley of ukelele hits by Joe, Mena’s guy : ) When Angie shouted out “Play Stairway to Heaven…Freebird!” He DID. On a ukelele. Amazing. We tried to convince him to make his own youtube channel playing the ukelele. You never know….

Aren’t they adorable?!

One of the best things about Gatsby are the cars. This is me and Angie. I wore the same hat I had for the July Fourth challenge because it has cherries on it. My one regret of the dress and this pattern is that its NOT a rayon, the sleeves are a little stiff, I look like I have wings. But once my hair dried I was good for the day : ) Last year I wore a silk chiffon dress, garter belt and stockings and satin shoes and I was dripping all day. I also had a broken foot so I limped beautifully. I figured this year was a major win with nothing broken, although I have a bruise on my leg that is going to be very pretty in a few days…

And we didn’t win : (

Ah well…we couldn’t find the winners so we have to wait to see if we recognize photos on the Gatsby website. And wouldn’t you know it? I didn’t get that many pictures of the set-up! Mena actually has the best one of the table before we ate so I thank Joe for his attentiveness to his surroundings : )

Angie in her gorgeous dress complete with bakelite pin and bracelets.

And me : )

If you look at Mena’s first picture you can see my blue bike in the background. Yes, I brought my bike that I rode in the July Fourth challenge to ride around the grounds : ) It was a lot of fun hanging with Mena and Joe. I was so tired when I finally got home and unpacked that I vowed never to do this again. Give me some time to rest, you never know….

The lovely Mena of the Sew Weekly

Our gorgeous table with the Motor loaves showing under the napkin

What you see here is a Mock Apple pie and our Motor loaves. The Mock Apple pie is a “back of the box” recipe made with Ritz crackers. There isn’t a SINGLE apple in it which is ironic since Sue’s apple trees are practically throwing their ripe apples at us a la “The Wizard of Oz”. What we “think” of when it comes to apple pie is a texture and some cinnamon. The crackers mimic the texture of the apples while a simple syrup with lemon juice and lemon peel give it some tang. Sprinkled with cinnamon you can’t tell the difference! I taste tested this not only on a group of teenagers but at one of our Bob White parties one year. It tends to freak people out just a little…

The Motor loaves were something I had at a Tea room last year. They originated in England when cars became the fashionable thing to play in and there were still servants in kitchens. OK, I’m not sure about the servants thing but I CAN say that these little gems are tasty and take a fairly concentrated effort to produce. Essentially you bake a small loaf of bread, cut the center out leaving the outside 1″ as a “frame” and then cut the middle into slices. You make tiny little sandwiches with the slices (I made an egg salad, a lox, and two ham sandwiches with each loaf) and then wrap each individual sandwich in parchment paper! See what I mean about work!! You then put the wrapped sandwiches BACK INTO the “frame”, wrap and trasport. I think the ones I made last year photographed better. It might be because I didn’t take many pictures this year : )

You can see my last years post here.

Last year, while getting dressed, we met an amazing lady. She had just been diagnosed with metastatic cancer in her bones and her boyfriend of many years had left her. She was in good spirits, upbeat and happy and willing to take on whatever life threw her way. She was there this year!! I didn’t get to talk to her, she was always busy chatting and catching up with people, but the same wonderful smile was there and she looked good. I’ve thought about her often in the last year,  I hope she’s doing as well on the inside as she looks on the out.

Plaid and puppies

The Facts
: 3 yards cotton plaid from Stone Mountain & Daughter
Pattern: Butterick 5898
Year: 1930′s
Notions: One zipper, interfacing for hat, bakelite belt buckle all from stash
Time to complete:  5 hours
First worn: September 2012
Wear again? This fall
Total Cost:
  ~$18.00 I think

I’ve owned this pattern for at least 25 years, I even remember buying it at L’acis when my daughter was 2 and Kaethe Kliot, the owner and lace expert, would give my daughter little toys to play with while I shopped. I’ve made all the versions at some point or another and what drew me to this was that collar, the one with the buttons. I had originally planned to use this for the collar challenge (wouldn’t it have been perfect?!) but plans changed and I’m very happy they did. Check out my inspiration:



Isn’t she adorable?

This amazing lady is Heidi Rosenau, a dancer who has the best vintage clothes collection!
You can see the full story here.

This was number 13 of 13 different outfits she put together, if you want to see all 13 you can find them here.

The key was the fabric and I was fortunate enough to find a few yards of a white plaid. I used a red cotton gabardine for the collar, I wanted something with body that didn’t necessarily need to be interfaced AND it needed to be sturdy enough for the hat. That hat takes the whole dress from cute to fabulous : )

The pattern is easy – took about 45 minutes to cut out the four silly pieces needed (front, back, sleeves and bow) because I needed to make sure the plaids matched. Stuart had to help hold the pieces down but his timing for letting me move onto the next step needs some work. There are 10 darts in total and I may add another set in front to help fit the bust-waist-hip a little better. It *should* have taken me about 2 1/2 hours to make this dress from beginning to end but I had at least 3 other projects going at once so everything took twice as long since I didn’t have a consistent train of thought going. That in itself was fine, but when I came to draping the collar and tacking it down I just didn’t like how it turned out. I don’t think the bow ends are long enough and I actually lengthened them a bit! I tried different loops, knots and buckles and finally settled on a fairly large yellow bakelite buckle to hold everything in place. I think it took a little over an hour to get that right and then the buttons shown on the pattern seemed superfluous.

When it came time to get dressed the belt and buckle I originally chose looked awful. I tried a couple other red belts and my daughter and I both agreed that the wider elastic didn’t completely suck. We headed to our local park to do photos but it was so hot we’d take three or four and go pant in the shade.

So here I am, wearing hose and brushed cotton (almost flannel) in 98 degree heat : ) I think in another month or two the dress will be great but today…not so much. I’m also going to make a simple belt using the same red fabric as the collar and hat, and I may go so far as to try a red pocket like my inspirational girl. I did notice that the plaids don’t match up at her side seams : )

One of the things I’m working on with great speed and with brain-power-sucking detail is our whole set-up for the Gatsby picnic next week. It is going to be SO CUTE, stay tuned!!!!

Coming up next:

I’ll post a quick tutorial on how I did the hat. I’ve been (temporarily) removed from my sewing room –

This is Chloe and she has eight babies : ) We’re fostering the whole family until the babies are weaned, then the rescue that “rescued” them will send them in pairs to other foster families to teach them some manners and socialize them. We will keep mom, take her to classes and give her a home and love until she is adopted. We only know part of her story right now – that she was stolen from her family three years ago and they now have 3 dogs and don’t want her back. I don’t know what happened to her in the meantime, how she was found etc. But she is a VERY sweet girl and a good mama so we’ll give her everything she needs until she finds her forever home.

And in the meantime that means I give up my sewing room : )