Hello everyone, as I mentioned on Friday, I am guest posting today for Jessica of Chronically Vintage, while she is on holidays (in my own delightful province of Alberta!) I have been following Jessica’s wonderful blog for a few years now, so I was very excited when she asked to do write a guest post for her. Today, I am sharing a before and after, of how I made this ugly little felt hat I picked up back in April, into a Philip Treacy inspired flower topped hat. So, hop on over to Chronically Vintage to see more pictures, a tutorial for how I made this chiffon flower, and inspiration for embellishing your own thrift finds! (And take a look through her blog while you are at if, if you don’t follow her already!) 🙂
At first, brown, mustard yellow and cream do not seem to be a summer colour palette, but then I looked out into my garden and saw a patch of daisies blooming. It turns out that it is a summer palette after all! 🙂
This is the new dress that I mentioned last week, and it is my first vintage reproduction dress! Living in Alberta, which isn’t exactly a major centre for vintage style boutiques, I had never come across a shop that sold vintage reproduction. I have never had much luck shopping online either, and for things like dresses, which need to fit well, it was always just too much of a gamble. Then, a few weeks ago, while shopping on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue, I discovered this little shop called Rowena. Rowena is a “clothing, accessory & household item store specializing in pinup, rockabilly, psychobilly, tattoo and alternative cultures.” As soon as I walked in the door, I was in heaven. Seriously, my mom and sister who were with me, can attest that I was like a kid in a candy store. Never have I ever seen such a large and fabulous selection of vintage reproduction in one place. All of the items they have in store, are available in their amazing online store Retro Glam, if you would like to check it out. Anyways. I did find a few lovely items, and actually it is amazing that I came home with my bank account intact! I’ll be back for sure, though.
I was so excited to wear this dress; I wore it the very next Sunday. It is the Nostalgia dress by Retrolicious. I had never heard of Retrolicious before: it is a sub brand of Folter clothing “made in the USA”.
I can’t really attest to the quality of the dress, as I have only had it for a couple of weeks, and I haven’t washed it yet or anything, but I love it so far. When we were in a different shop that same day, the salesperson told me that the dresses they were selling were “couture dressmaker’s fabrics, not just regular old cottons”. When I looked at the tag, they were 57% polyester/ 43% cotton blends. I’ll take the cotton please. Thus, I love that this dress is 100% cotton, and cut on the bias, which gives it a comfortable amount of stretch without containing any spandex/polyester/nylon. I don’t know about you, but I just hate synthetic fabrics. I mean, sometimes they are fine for certain garments, and I do own some myself, but I just hate the fact that there is such an abundance of synthetics in every piece of clothing you find, it seems. Maybe this is just an irrational fear I have of synthetics, tracing back to the time when I was a child and my mother told me that nylon melts. I was scared to wear my nylon pants for years. Anyways, that was a bit of an aside. . . where were we. . .
The dress! It is lovely, comfortable and breathable (it was a hot day, when I wore it) and it has pockets too; I never think to put pockets in my dresses, but really they are the best! Basically this dress is a winner, it is my new favourite, and now that I know where Rowena is, and I know what size I am in several other repro brands, I may never have any money ever again. . .
(PS: After I had finished dressing, I realized that the accessories in this outfit are exactly what I paired with my outfit for Easter Sunday- the straw purse, brown sandals, and cream coloured hat. Even the pearls are the same. What can I say? If you’ve got a good thing going. . . )
(PPS: Another quick note: I do know that cotton, unless it is organic, contains a whole host of other environmental problems, 🙁 but as it is difficult to find organic cotton material and clothing, when faced with a choice, I will choose cotton, as it is still a natural and biodegradable fibre, rather than a man made fibre.)
Dress- Retrolicious, Nostalgia Dress (not available any more it seems, but they have many others!)
This could also be titled as “The World’s Easiest Skirt Pattern”. 🙂 When I sewed up my dutch wax print skirt, and refashioned my black floral, I realized just how much I love pleated skirts. After completing Me Made May, I decided that I needed more of these skirts in my life as they are so easy to wear, and are comfortable and practical for everyday. When I was deciding what fabric to use, I remembered this vintage sheet I picked up a a flea market a couple of months ago, so I decided to recycle the fabric into a skirt. I absolutely love the pattern on the fabric- is it just me or were vintage linens so much nicer than today’s?
I used the same easy method as the other skirts, which pretty much involves creating a curved waistband to fit your waist measurement, plus seam allowances. I have found that a slightly curved band is better than a straight rectangle, as bodies are typically not straight, so if it is curved in, the waistband will not gape on you. I didn’t use a pattern for this, I seriously just “eyeballed” the curve for this band and traced to create a mirror image for both sides. To this, I cut a front and back rectangle, and pleated it into the waist circumference (no real math at play, just pleating and fiddling until it fit!) To create something different, so all of the garments in my wardrobe are not exactly the same, I decided to add ties to the waistband this time. I think they give a bit of a fun twist. I sewed the two ties separately, and then inserted them between the zipper (which I had saved off another garment, hence the title of this post) and the waistband when sewing them together. Thus, the raw edges were encased, and the ties wrap around to the front. The skirt took me only about 4 hours start to finish. Well, not including the time that it took to cut the material, I guess. When I went to lay out the fabric, I discovered that somewhere along the way someone had used this sheet as a dropcloth or something, and there was orange paint splattered across it! I had to do some strategic measuring and cutting to avoid all the splatters- but it was successful, as none of the paint shows on the final garment! The joys of vintage material I guess. 😉 I actually love projects like this as they recycle something that would otherwise be discarded. The skirt turned out nicely and qualifies as a Make do and Mend garment, I think, as well as almost being vintage, as the materials to make it were. . .
So, onto the outfit! The skirts debut, the very next day, was for an afternoon of shopping on Edmonton’s Whyte Ave. My best friend came for a visit (as I already mentioned before), so we took the opportunity to go shopping, and Whyte Ave is a pretty fun place filled with lots of lovely little shops and restaurants. (I also found the best little store called Rowena, which carries a whole host of vintage reproduction brands I’ve never been able to find in a brick-and-mortar store! I was like a kid in a candy shop- and I have an outfit post with the dress I bought, next week!)
We had a lovely time shopping, but I didn’t get any outfit photos while we were there, which is too bad as there are so many historical brick buildings that would’ve served as a nice backdrop. I was too busy catching up with my friend, though, to stop for pictures, so we got these pictures later. I paired the skirt with a modern ruffled blouse, and my lovely vintage straw boater I got at an antique sale a few years ago. The lining in this hat is so shredded I can barely pick out any of the label, the only words left read “Knox New York”. I did a google search and came up with this article about the Knox hat company, but as it appears they made men’s hats, I’m not sure of the history of this piece. It is lovely though, and in very good shape too, despite the label being in disrepair. I would’ve liked to have paired this outfit with my cognac kiltie loafers, but as they are not broken in yet, I thought an afternoon spent walking would be better suited to my tried and true brown flats. Sometimes style must be sacrificed for comfort, as much as I hate to admit it 🙁
Anyways, I’ve already worn this skirt several times since I made it, and it is quickly becoming a favourite in my wardrobe. Do you ever find yourself gravitating towards sewing or wearing the same things over and over again?
Hat- vintage from an antique sale
Skirt- made by me out of a sheet from a flea market
As sad as I am to see the end of lilac season, we are now entering peony season, and that is a reason to celebrate! If I had to choose a favourite flower (and really who could do that?), I would choose a peony. Peonies come in so many hues, ranging from dark fuchsias, to soft blush pinks, to creamy whites. They come in single and double petal varieties, and can have spiky or rounded petals. My favourites are the double flowering blush pink varieties, with their massive, deeply layered petals and heavenly scent.
This ensemble I wore last Sunday reminded me of peonies; because the hat is accented with one, and because the colours were in the same shades as the flowers.
I was so glad that we had a sunny day in the middle of the rain we’ve had lately, because as I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to wear my new hat- but the hat stiffener is water soluble! The day dawned beautifully though- and I was glad to be able to wear it out for the first time.
When I was planning what to pair with my hat, I looked in my closet only to discover that I had nothing to go with it. 🙁 Then, I remembered this dress. This is the first time I have worn this dress, and it is a special one, because it was my Great-Grandmother’s dress. She wore it in the 1950’s to her son’s wedding. This past January my Aunt and Uncle were clearing out their basement, and they found it hanging in one of the closets. They asked whether I wanted it, thinking that it was probably my Grandma’s dress, but when I talked with her she said it was actually her mother’s dress. There are not many vintage garments in our family that have survived through the years, so it is special to have one of the few pieces that is still in wearable condition. (We also have my Grandma’s wedding dress, but it is in very tattered shape. Maybe one day I’ll put pictures of it on here?)
The dress has suffered a little bit of damage, and was quite musty after being stored in a basement for so many years, but the good thing is that it is polyester taffeta, rather than a more fragile material like silk, and so the stains came out, and the smell is (mostly) gone after a good airing out. (You can still slightly smell the mustiness if you stick your nose right into the cloth, but usually people don’t do that to a dress someone is wearing. Although you never know. . . )
I am so glad that I got this dress though, and can give it a second life after so many years. It was lovely to wear a vintage garment that I know the history of, rather than wondering, “Who wore this?”. Sometimes I wonder at the stories vintage garments could tell. . .
Do you ever wonder at the history behind your vintage pieces? Do you have any vintage pieces handed down from your family?