The “Japanese Tea Garden 1966” outift

My mother and me

Fabrics: Black and white gingham from another project, white quilters cotton from stash, 1 icky red sweater from Salvation Army
Patterns: Shirt – New York Pattern 1779; Skirt – Simplicity 4013; Sweater – self drafted Year: 1950′s
Notions: Interfacing and 5 buttons for blouse: 1 zipper and cotton/poly lining for skirt
Time to complete: Skirt – 3 hours; Shirt – 2 hours, Sweater – 1 hour.
First worn: For this photo
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~
$6 for skirt, $6 for sweater

The theme for this week was to make an outfit inspired by a photo of ourselves as a kid.

THAT was a toughie : ) Fortunately my mother not only has a pretty complete photo album from my early years but is blessed with a memory for details. I actually found a couple of photographs with clothing that didn’t completely turn my stomach so I felt like I had SCORED!

In the end I decided on the photo of me, my mother and my middle sister as a baby in the Japanese Tea Garden here in San Francisco. My “lightbulb” moment was to re-create that image today as best we could : )

So here we are in 1966, March 9 to be exact (it’s on the back of the photo not from memory!). I have NO recollection of the dress or the day but I like the black/white/red combo. My mother says my grandmother bought me that dress from a very nice kids store in Claremont. She also distinctly remembers the outfit she was wearing – the blouse was pink with orange trim which matched the pants. And she LOVED those glasses which I’m sorry to say we used for dress-up a few years later and managed to mangle in the back yard. Sorry Mom!

My version took the black and white gingham idea and blew the squares up. I had bought the gingham last year with the intent to do a Peggy dress from “Mad Men” but never got there. No problem, this was perfect. Until I went to cut it out. The three hours of construction time included an hour spent running up to Joann’s to show them how they incorrectly cut the fabric (they cut both layers at once thereby shorting me 3 inches of pattern on one half, instead of cutting along the woven line in a single layer.) I had to BUY an entire length so I’d have enough to match the lines whereas if they’d cut the fabric correctly I would have been fine. Harrumph…but oh well…

I also didn’t pay attention to ALL the pattern as I first assembled the skirt front and ended up with this:


If you look at the left side of the photo as compared to the right you’ll see the lines mis-aligned perfectly. The right side is fine : )

Took that side out, re-pinned and stitched and we were good to go. I underlined the gingham since its pretty sheer and I didn’t want to HAVE to wear a slip in the summer. I was also able to do the high waisted scallped version this time <insert squeal of delight here>

I did not want the large collar of the original dress – I learned my lesson about those collars in my Laura Ashley stage in the 80′s. One good breeze and those things fly into your face leaving a perfect impression of your fabulous red lipstick on the center front, never to come out. Besides, I’m past the Laura Ashely thing now and wanted something I’d actually wear. Enter the fabulous shirt pattern. I had ZERO issues putting this together, other than a cat laying on the pieces and refusing to move. I will probably make three or four more of these and shorten the sleeves a little but other than that, it’s perfect!

The sad red sweater was a Salvation Army find the same night I found the blue sweater with the beaded snowflake that I used in the re-fashion challenge here. That big turtleneck piece? You’ll see that again sometime this year, I have plans for it : ) Once again I used the sweater for fabric, completey re-cut it and used binding off another sad red sweater to finish off the front.

I convinced my mother to find clothes in her wardrobe this last week that could come close to what she wore back in 1966. THEN I convinced her to get up REALLY early on Saturday morning, do full hair and make-up and drive out to Golden Gate Park in the city to visit the Academy of Sciences (where she could see her favorite penguins get breakfast) and then try to find the spot the original picture was taken. Isn’t my mother a good sport?We’re pretty sure we got it right : ) They’ve removed the bamboo fencing but this stone lantern was the only one that could have had a picture taken next to it from the right angle.

And even though I’m not six I had to twirl like I was : )

You can also see I made sure all those lines lined up perfectly and that high waistline works. Even though my mom said it reminded her of a tablecloth this is going to be in heavy rotation this summer : )

This also helped create a nifty mother-daughter moment for us this last weekend so it was an extra special challenge that went from “What in the world and I going to do?” to creating a really great memory. I’m pretty sure this will end up in my parent’s Christmas card this year…

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