“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
The leaves are going quickly. Only days ago this row of trees in our backyard were covered in bright golden colours and by today they are mostly gone. Bare branches are left in stark contrast to the pale azure autumn skies. The bright yellow leaves are slowly deepening in colour, and the days are cool and crisp. I love this time of year and, like Anne, I am glad I live in a place where I get to fully enjoy Octobers.
I am also happy that my sister was able to get these photos for me when she did, since I think this is the last time I’ll be pulling out this linen wrap skirt for this year. It’s time to reach for the tights and woollens and scarves!
This is the patchwork purse I mentioned that I was making. It took quite a while to finish, since I decided to hand stitch it to give more control over some of the very tiny pieces of fabric. I’m not a skilled quilter, and since I didn’t follow any pattern (each piece was fitted in place as I sewed) it ended up quite quirky! I think it gives it a rather authentic 1970’s feel though, don’t you?
After I finished the quilt, I then appliquéd it onto a canvas backing and then lined the entire thing to give it some strength, especially since the last one I made came apart. I was able to use so many unique pieces of fabric that I’ve saved over the years- you can even see in the picture above that I used a piece of the fabric from this skirt! Well, at least I know that this bag will coordinate with almost everything in my wardrobe…
Friendship necklaces used to be such a “thing” when I was a kid, but they kind of went out of favour, didn’t they? A few years ago I found this friendship necklace; the heart cut out of the centre of this piece forms the other necklace! I like that it’s so delicate and minimal.
Why is it so hard to find brown shoes? Have you ever noticed that? Since deciding that brown is my “neutral” I have had the hardest time finding nice shoes that aren’t black. I was so glad to be able to find these from Vionic. I think it’s about time to put them away for the season, though. They are perforated, which is lovely for warm days, but a bit chilly for autumn!
I hope you are faring well and enjoying your October, whatever it’s looking like for you!
We’ve had our fair share of sun and heat this summer, which is too bad for me, since I’m not a fan of hot days! However, I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of time outside this summer despite the drought…which is kind of strange since I usually spend my summers indoors hiding from the sun.
I bought this giant straw hat back in May, though, and it is perfect for hot summer days. Since it has such a wide brim and a tall crown, it creates a nice bit of shade from the sun. If there isn’t any shade, bring your own! There is also a hat band inside, and I added a tie for slightly breezy days. There’s nothing worse than wearing a large brimmed hat and having it fly off your head with a gust of wind…not that that has ever happened before. Originally the hat also had a cream grosgrain ribbon hatband, but not a very nice one, so I replaced it with a silk scarf which is much prettier in my opinion.
I originally planned to get photos of this hat and outfit back in June, but then we had a huge heat wave…then smoke from the wildfires in BC…then more heat again…and here we are now already in August. (With another heat wave, but just tiny one this time…maybe a heat splash).
I’ve been wearing an iteration of this outfit, switching out with different tops or accessories quite a lot this summer too. It’s a very easy formula: wrap skirt + t-shirt + accessories. When you’ve got a variety of tops and skirts (or pants) in coordinating colours that can be mixed and matched, then it makes choosing what to wear very easy.
I’ve also realized over the past couple of years that I really like wearing t-shirts for everyday wear. They might not be as fancy and “vintage” but I find them to be the most comfortable for working etc. on an everyday basis. I do still like to wear dresses and blouses, but I now tend to save them for occasions.
And it’s not as though t-shirts need to be sporty- this one with lace cuffs is a nice example of a dressier version and I also recently got a navy blue one with a v-neck. The neckline can make a huge difference in how a top looks, and how dressy it is, don’t you think?
Well, there is my summer “uniform” in a nutshell. I used to hate the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but I’ve kind of accidentally fallen into creating one for myself. And strangely enough, rather than feeling limited, I actually feel like I have more variety in what I wear through the different combinations.
Do you find yourself gravitating towards a certain “uniform”, whether with colours or styles, or do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What have you been enjoying wearing this summer?
No, I have not cut my hair again- these photos are from 2019 when I was growing out my pixie- but I never posted them. I don’t know why. I think at the time I wasn’t really happy with how they turned out, however, looking at them now I think they turned out all right. When I came across them a few months ago, saved in a folder, I pondered whether to share them here, even though they aren’t current. It’s kind of strange how the internet is so momentary, isn’t it? It’s all about the here-and-now, and things go out of date so quickly…anyways I decided that I wouldn’t post these, but would just take some new photos featuring the lilacs…
So, why am I posting them here now?
Well, unfortunately we haven’t had a very many blooms this year, and the flowers that we did have were very spindly and small. It’s really too bad because this is my favourite time of year, and my favourite photo backdrop. I think that our lilac hedges need to be pruned, so we are going to do that and hopefully that will coax them to bloom profusely next year! And in the meantime, I will remember these gorgeous lilacs fondly.
As for this outfit, I actually don’t own this striped top anymore. I always wanted to try this style out and was excited when I found this one at a thrift shop, but discovered that the off the shoulder cut was a bit annoying to wear. So, I parted with this top, but I still have the skirt, purse and shoes, and they are all in regular rotation. Don’t you love it when you have things in your wardrobe that always just seem to work?
Well, I hope that wherever you are, you have been able to enjoy some flowering shrubberies of any variety, and hopefully next June I will be back with some new photos with this hedge!
For some reason, Easter always seems an appropriate time for a new dress or hat, doesn’t it? I think that traditionally this was a season when people would get a new special outfit… at least we did when growing up. Usually my mom would make me and my sister new summer dresses and we’d debut them on Easter Sunday. Now that I’m grown up (and have to sew my own clothes!) I haven’t always had a new outfit for Easter, but I do still enjoy the process of choosing a special outfit and hat and dressing up for the occasion.
This year, I chose to wear this new-ish wrap skirt that I sewed last summer, paired with a lace blouse and my straw cloche (because it just doesn’t get enough outings).
This is probably one of my favourite sewing projects of all time, because it turned out so well. I love it when the inside of a garment is just as lovely as the outside, but that doesn’t always work out. We know, from looking at vintage garments, that throughout history the inside seams of a garment have not always been tidily finished either, but it always makes a garment feel so much more couture when they are. I made the skirt out of a lovely rayon-linen blend- it wrinkles like crazy, but has the most beautiful drape to it, so it’s worth a few creases.
Also sort-of new to my wardrobe, is this beautiful necklace, by Kat Cadegan. I met her at a sale a few years ago and have been wanting to get one of her pieces ever since. Anyways, since I hadn’t gotten one yet for myself, my siblings gave me the Dragonfly Wing Pendant last year for Christmas. I used to follow her on Instagram before I quit social media, and she makes so many beautiful and unique pieces of jewellery. (My sister has her Hummingbird Skull Pendant, which is also amazing!)
I also realized while planning this year’s outfit, that I am in serious need of a pair of brown high heels. I’ve thought that in the past too, since I had to pass on the last pair I had, since they didn’t fit properly. I don’t want to go and invest in a pair, since in the past few years my feet have decided that they don’t like to be in high heeled shoes for more than a few hours, but there really is a gap there in my closet. Especially since I’ve been trying to create my signature colour palette, I’ll have to be on the lookout for a good pair at the thrift stores!
Well, that’s all for today; I hope you all had a good Easter.
Did you get new Easter dresses or outfits while growing up? Do you like to dress up for Easter still?
Today’s post is a revamped edition of one I wrote several years ago as a guest post for Jessica of Chronically Vintage about how to refashion a hat. I came across it again recently and decided that I wanted to revisit it with some new photos and give it a home here too. And, since Easter is this weekend, it’s the perfect time to share these techniques and inspiration in case you have a hat that you’d like to refashion!
I don’t actually own very many true vintage garments, and many of my “vintage” garments are actually ones that I have sewn myself or altered from thrift store finds. I mostly rely on making or refashioning clothing to give it a vintage vibe (whether that means adding embellishments, changing buttons, hemming to a better length or altering the fit) and then adding in accessories for the final touch to get that vintage look.
The sad, but true, reality of vintage is that there is a finite amount of it left in the world, and as time goes on it just gets more and more scarce and, thus, unaffordable for the average person. This definitely doesn’t mean that those who can’t afford or find true vintage have to miss out on this fashion style, though! Just as with any other trend or style, as in centuries past, women have made for themselves what they couldn’t afford to buy or couldn’t find in the shops, and I live by this principle today too. Thrift stores are great places to rescue cast off pieces of clothing or accessories and then refashion and embellish them so they’ll fit your own style.
Hats are great accessories for really pulling an outfit together, but sometimes it can be hard to find good hats that are not in disrepair (shattered veils, stains, moth holes…) and putting together a hat collection, when a hat that is in good shape costs a lot, is just not feasible for many of us hat lovers. This is why I have turned to making and refashioning hats: so I can get that unique vintage look, without spending a lot. If you pick up mildly damaged or ugly/boring hats that have potential, and are willing to use your creativity to alter them, you can easily build a hat collection for a fraction of the cost. This also gives you a chance to try out different styles of hats and see whether you like them before investing in the “holy grail of all hats” (whatever that might be for you). When I first started getting into wearing hats, I invested in some beautiful vintage ones that I didn’t end up liking on me. For example, over time I’ve discovered that I like my hats to have a higher crown like 1960’s style pillbox hats, rather than the flatter Juliet cap style of the 1950’s. I learned this the hard way, after I had already bought several beautiful vintage hats, and I ended up having to sell them because I just never wore them…at least they went to new loving homes! Now that I have an idea of what kinds of hats I like to wear, though, when I see one for sale at antique malls or second hand shops, I have a good idea of whether it will make a good candidate for refashioning.
My checklist for hats that I would be willing to take a chance on or pass by would be:
A hat that is not smashed out of shape, unless you think it can be steamed back into shape. If the hat is very crushed, it’s not going to turn out well. If you decide to try and reshape it, you’ll need some kind of hat form to do so, depending on the style of the hat.
One that doesn’t have large stains on it, unless there is some way to cover them up with new embellishments without it looking odd. While I don’t mind some “character”, I don’t want it to look dirty.
If the veil is torn, which is very common, see if it could be removed entirely. Most hats will look totally fine without a veil. Also, you can still buy Russian netting at many fabric stores, so you may be able to simply replace the damaged veil with a new one.
If the hat is lacking in embellishments, or the current ones are ruined, you can definitely make new ones (one example I am going to share today).
I picked up this little black felt hat for a song, from an antique store, along with a couple other hats that really needed some help. I remember seeing this hat several years ago in West Edmonton Mall (I recognized the label) so I know that this hat is not actually vintage. When I saw it new, I thought the embellishment on it was so boring that I passed on it. It seemed like they had a good thing going with the veil and the leaves. . . and then ran out of ideas, so they just plunked a little brooch on top. However, when I saw it for sale second hand, in good condition and at a much better price point than it was new, I picked it up thinking, like Lydia from Pride and Prejudice, “Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.”
Soon after buying this hat, I came across this image from Philip Treacy’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, and absolutely fell in love with it. In case you are wondering who Philip Treacy is, he is a UK milliner who counts the Royal Family among his clients. I absolutely love this hat: it is so outrageous and over the top, and really what’s not to love about mint? As soon as I saw it, I started thinking about how I could make something similar, and I decided that a large flower on this hat base would be just the thing.
Here is how I created the flower, and how I styled the finished hat for an updated 1940’s look.
I made my flower out of chiffon, since we had a bunch left over from a past project. You could use stiffer organza too- which would give you the rounder pompom shape that Treacy’s has, or tulle or netting, which would be softer. I cut out a ton of circles, 5 inches in diameter. You will need 30-50 circles depending on the material and stiffness, and how full you want the flower to be. Don’t worry about being too precise, as the edges will be melted and the pieces will be gathered for the final flower. And definitely do cut your circles through several layers at once, to save yourself time!
I didn’t want the fabric to fray to pieces, so I singed the edges to finish them. Singe the fabric by CAREFULLY holding the material over a candle until the edges start to melt and curl. Be very careful with this, since you are holding a meltable material over top a flame!
You will need to hold the fabric about 6 inches away from the flame and slowly dip in and out and across so the heat starts to curl it. You don’t need to bring the fabric very close, otherwise the heat will start melting the entire circle, rather than just the edge. (Voice of experience. . . ) You should probably do this in a well ventilated area too, by the way.
Once you have singed the fabric, you will be left with curled lily pad shaped petals. Take a circle and fold it into quarters. Stitch through the corner of the folded piece, catching all 4 layers, and loop to tie a knot so it won’t pull through the fabric.
Continue to string together the folded circles using the same method, until the flower is at your desired fullness.
Once you get a fuller shape, you can gather some of the centre petals so they are fuller, as the soft fabric likes to “flop”. If your fabric is stiffer, you can continue stringing until you get a pompom shape. For mine, with the softer chiffon, I gathered the entire flower together in my hand and stitched through the entire bottom of the flower to give it some shape. Just play around with the fabric and arrange it into a nice shape- there isn’t a hard and fast method.
If your flower is softer and going to lay open, you can sew a button, a bead or other embellishment in the centre of the flower to cover up the stitching. If your fabric is stiff, you can just keep adding to it and you will get a lovely round shape and won’t need a button at all.
Sew a little round felt disk to the bottom, to keep the flower in shape. If possible, do not glue the flower onto your hat, since the glue may seep through the light fabric.
Sew the flower onto the hat with cotton, or other natural fibre, thread. If possible, don’t use a polyester blend thread, as over time polyester can cut natural fibres, and you will be left with holes. You could also add a brooch pin to the felt disk, instead of sewing it directly to the hat, so it is removable, in case you want to use the same hat base for multiple embellishments. And then you’re done!
I don’t have a before picture of this hat on my head, because it was severely unflattering, but here is the after! A giant flower is really what this hat was missing. Mine turned out a lot smaller than I was originally planning for and less pouffy because of the fabric I chose, but I think it works well for the style of the hat. By simply adding some embellishment, this hat is now completely transformed!
Here are some other ideas for how to refashion a hat with a different look, which might work for you if a giant pompom/flower isn’t really your thing.
From Chapeaux Élégants, 1942
Bows. I’ve seen this kind of hat with a giant stiffened bow, upside down bows, bows made out of contrasting fabric or coordinating, ribbon bows, right side up bows or a myriad of smaller bows…the sky really is the limit when it comes to bows. I’d really like to make a giant sculptural bow one of these days!
Loops and twists made out of wool, or sculptural ribbons. This is a really simple, yet architectural embellishment. I’ve also seen where the wool is looped back onto itself in all sorts of different shapes. This is a much simpler hat decoration, but one with a lot of impact. If you can find a similar colour of fabric, or a contrasting colour, this is a very easy embellishment to create.
Sears Catalogue 1947/48
Feathers. You can use smaller feathers, or even large curled ones. I have a pheasant feather that I want to steam into a curled shape and attach to a hat, but I haven’t got a hat yet to put it on!
A cluster of artificial flowers. You could either group purchased flowers, or make your own ribbon or fabric flowers. I’ve seen so many different types of flowers on hats, it all depends on what you plan to wear the hat with.
If you’re looking for some hat inspiration, here are my favourite places to look:
Online vintage shops. This is a great place to look for true vintage inspiration.
Pictures of the Royal Family, the Duchess of Cambridge in particular, who are often seen sporting beautiful hats.
Allport Millinery is an Australian milliner with such amazing hats- her website is just full of gorgeous pieces.
Of course, we can’t forget Philip Treacy, where I got my original inspiration from.
And if you’d like to see more “hatspiration”, I’ve created a Pinterest board of the lovely hats I come across while browsing!
I love how this hat turned out; I’ve styled it in many ways over the past few years. This outfit I paired it with is one that definitely has a Classic vibe to it, rather than overtly vintage, but I’ve worn the same hat here and here before. It’s quite a versatile accessory!
I hope this has inspired you to look at the garments and accessories you have, with an eye towards how to make them work for you. Maybe it will inspire you to pick up that ugly hat or other item you would usually pass up in the thrift store, and refashion it to become your new favourite piece. Maybe all it needs, like this hat, is a new embellishment!