Ready for a Ho-Down : )

The Facts
Fabric:Turquoise and brown cotton plaid from stash
Pattern: Top – Advance 6609; Skirt self “drafted” Notions: 5 buttons, waistband interfacing from stash, 55 yards of rick-rack and trim and counting Year: 1950′s Patio or Squaw dress inspired
Time to complete: 8+ hours over 8 years
First worn: October 2012
Wear again? YES!! And for a very special event : )

Total Cost: Free for fabric, $32.00 for trims and counting…

I have a secret to confess – for about 10 minutes back in the late 70′s/early 80′s I had a crush on just about any guy who wore cowboy boots : ) It all started with John Travolta in “Urban Cowboy”, when we first see him clean shaven at the bar in Gilley’s. Remember this?

I learned the basics of line dancing, bought a pair of JC Penney grey suede cowboy boots and a couple of plaid shirts and I thought I was the BOMB! I really wanted to be Pam but was more like Sissy, I just couldn’t get away with wearing a tank top with no bra : ) Years later I watched that movie with my daughter and had a “Really?” moment. But it was all good fun and I will gladly watch a chopped up version of “Urban Cowboy” over most weekend afternoon offerings.

When I saw “Western” in the list of challenges I KNEW I had to pull out the outfit I started about 8 years ago. I meant to make this for a Bobwhite party but only got as far as stitching the skirt panels together. My original idea was to make mother/daughter matching outfits so I have at least another 5 or 6 yards of this fabric, maybe more. When I saw Laura in her “I Heart Shakespeare” dress I laughed out loud because it looks like she fell for the loveliness of this plaid as well! I could have sent her additional yardage she needed for her outfit had I only known….

So out came the parts and pieces. I used a LOT of fabric in this skirt, around 4 1/2 yards. The top section is 2 full widths of 45″ fabric, so that’s 90″ gathered around my waist. Attached to that are 4 full sections of fabric, and the bottom layer is 8 full sections of fabric. The top section is 9″ finished, the middle section 10″ and the bottom 11″, so the finished length of the skirt is 30″. Easy to cut, easy to sew but gathering takes a while. Watch a movie as you gather and pin : )

The whole beauty of these outfits lies in the trim. Just google “Patio dresses” or “Squaw dresses” and you’ll see what I mean. Sew Weekly’s own Debi Fry made a Squaw dress last year and included links for the history of the outfit. I decided against the v-neck trim. I want to wear this blouse without the skirt, might even wear it to work this week…and I’m not a huge fan of rick rack in the real world. I was going to use my favorite shirt pattern but I think it’s here:

Puppies and patterns…

Puppies found a box in the bookcase, pulled it out and discovered patterns. I’m sure they were amused for HOURS, and truthfully I haven’t gone through the parts and pieces yet to figure out what I’ve lost and what is salvageable. I’m fairly certain my favorite patterns (blouse, skirt, pants) were stored where I could quickly and easily find them. Yep, in the box. And the best part of the pile is that whatever I find probably won’t have printing on it, most of my favorites were old enough that they just had the punched holes. It will be quite an “All the kings horses and all the kings men…” type afternoon when I finally sift through the remains : )

So I found Advance 6609 in my collection and decided to give it a whirl. I just needed a basic shirt and it looked basic so why not?

I think it worked out great! I cut about 1 1/2″ off the sleeve length and cut the sleeve bands on the bias. The shirt might have taken 2 hours from cutting out to sewing buttons on. The skirt, however, took HOURS. Since the basic construction was done all I had to do was put the waistband on (15 minutes) and then the trim.

Ah, the trim…

For weeks now I’ve been haunting Joann’s. I’ve been to EVERY SINGLE STORE in my county. At first I wanted gold rick rack. Well, what I REALLY wanted was copper colored rick rack but it is stupidly expensive IF and WHEN you can find it so that was out. The I thought I’d use the old gold color. Hah! The most any store had at any given time was two 2 1/2 yard packages. I didn’t have the 4-6 weeks to special order it so I tried to find the 30 or so yards I’d need to get things going. I finally gave up mid week and switched to brown and bought out three stores worth but couldn’t get even 10 yards of the wider brown. I tried for a turquoise to match but that too was a no go. In desperation I bought all 4 spools of brown with turquoise polka-dot ribbon I could find and called it good. The top panel has one row of small brown rick rack, the middle section two rows and the bottom section two rows with the ribbon in between. EVENTUALLY I want to add larger brown and some turquoise rick rack but at least this way I’ve got the outfit wearable and recognizable. It’s not quite “Little House on the Prairie” but close…

As with all good projects when you stop looking for something so desperately it just shows up so I’m going to relax and see what comes my way : )

The day was FABULOUS as my daughter and I set out for the Howe Homestead Park to take photos. Jim Howe was a local resident and one of the first well-known AP world correspondents. He and his wife Mia lived here from 1910 to 1970. Now owned by the city the house and out buildings have been preserved and restored so it looks much like it did in the 1930′s. We took advantage of some of the farm equipment for today’s shoot.

My daughter thought I should show off my little cowboy hat. It makes me smile : ) I kept humming “You have a friend in me” from ‘Toy Story’ because this is a Woody hat. I pulled out the white trim, added my own turquoise and voila! I tied a piece of ribbon I was going to add to the skirt trims, until I realized it just blended in, around the brim. The cowboy boots are real, I bought them waaaayyy back in the late 80′s at a vintage store that didn’t realize they could have gotten at least $100 for a pair of used black leather boots. I paid $10. The ‘uniform’ of the day in LA was black jeans, white t-shirt and black cowboy boots and I used to wear them to music video auditions : ) I asked my girlfriend who is a REAL cowgirl if I shouldn’t have brown boots to go with my brown belt and accessories and I got a resounding “NO!”

This is the other “ultimate” accessory to a good Western outfit!

I am quite pleased with the way everything came together. I managed to EXACTLY match the plaid down the center front:

I actually pulled the plaid off just a little so you could see it really is the center front that buttons : )

We tried doing the ‘skirt-spread-out-in-a-big-circle-on-the-ground’ shot that seemed to be ubiquitous. It didn’t work out so well so we did a standing shot –

That sucker is a FULL 30 feet around! And look what I found just before we left the flea market this morning:

Three packages of vintage turquoise rick rack. I have enough for the top two tiers of the skirt. I didn’t have time to sew it on before photos today but I will soon because…

I have an actual event to wear this!! One of my favorite rescues is having a Ho-Down in a few weeks.

BAD RAP is celebrating the five year anniversary of bringing home some of the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case. One of the items on my bucket list is to meet some of these guys (I missed my chance to meet Leo, he died from a seizure disorder last year) like Teddles, Uba, Zippy, Jonny Justice, Amazing Grace and Audie!! They’ll be there to shake paws, maybe take some photos and party the night away. We’ve been told that “This isn’t a sit-on-the-sidelines kind of party, so come prepared to get on the dance floor and make some history of your own.” I plan on wearing my outfit, hat and all, to dance and smile the night away!

As one of my nice neighbors said “We take the easy cases, you take the tough ones. Thank you.” It’s been a much better week : )

And I made the top Featured this week!

One thought on “Ready for a Ho-Down : )

  1. “I was going to use my favorite shirt pattern…but I think it’s here…” Wow! I think everyone on Sew Weekly needs to post pics of their sewing room *after* a year of straight-up, full-on sewing. (I’ve nearly given up on SW, as I can’t find a pin in here.) But your cowgirl outfit is lovely! Especially the pics with the truck and the wagon wheel. I’m sorry for your vintage pattern loss. 🙁

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