vintage inspired

Going to the Chapel

wedding guest outfit of a straw hat and purse paired with a navy cross printed dress with a pearl necklace and tan sandals. Nicole is on a grassy lawn with trees in the background

…Not to get married, but to witness one! Summers for most people means weddings, especially with the backlog of weddings from the past two years, but I actually haven’t attended very many weddings in my life, and I only had one to go to this year. Of course, where there is a wedding, there is wedding attire, and this one was no exception. When planning what to wear to this wedding, I needed it to check three boxes: a colour that wouldn’t clash with the bridal party (green) because I was going to get some photos taken with the bride (my friend Chantelle), something comfortable and in a natural fibre because it was going to be an outdoor wedding in August and, finally, something that coordinated with my giant straw hat- because it was going to be in the sun and I needed to bring my own shade!

Nicole is wearing a navy blue fit and flare dress with a large straw hat with a navy ribbon and a straw tote bag. She is standing outside in front of some trees

Despite the fact that I knew about this wedding since March, I didn’t actually figure out all of these important details until July, and then I didn’t actually sew the dress until a week before the wedding. In my defence, I was hoping to be able to find something to buy in the shops, but that shopping trip immediately reminded of why I even started to sew clothing in the first place. If it wasn’t synthetic fibres, it was cheaply sewn, and if it was good quality, it didn’t fit…which meant that it was time for a sewing project! (And one with a deadline too, but I got it done….and my mom’s outfit too!) 

I knew that this wasn’t going to be a quick and easy sewing project, since I’ve changed sizes and needed to draft an entirely new bodice block. After a failed attempt at draping a bodice, I found a tutorial for creating a bodice block, and another for fitting it, and with the help of my mom we were able to make a fairly well fitting bodice block/sloper. Then from that base, I was able to customize it and turn it into a pattern for this dress.

detail of a simple classic pearl necklace with a v-neck dress made out of sevenberry fabric by Japan

I originally planned on buying some new fabric, but when the fabric search also proved unfruitful, I turned to what was already in my stash and decided that this cross printed navy cotton would be elegant, yet still good for an outdoor event. I had originally intended the fabric for a button front skirt, but am actually glad I made it into a dress instead, because the tan and navy colour combination probably wouldn’t have coordinated with very many of my tops, and as a dress, it is a perfect one-step outfit. 

The fabric also proved to be a great choice because it’s 100% cotton, with a linen textured weave, so it was lightweight and breathable, but it didn’t crease! I wore it from about 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and it looked almost as fresh in the evening when I took it off as when I’d put it on, which was incredible because we were outside melting in the summer sun. I bought this fabric from the clearance rack at Fabricland, and it’s by the Japanese brand Sevenberry. (That’s all I know about it, as that info was printed on the selvedge).

nicole is wearing a navy patterned cotton dress and a straw hat and pearl necklace. She is walking away from the camera in a grassy lawn with trees around it

When thinking about the dress, I first designed it as button front, but then the thought of making 20+ buttonholes in a short period of time just seemed like asking for trouble, so I opted for a simple back zipper, v-neck, short sleeved bodice and knee length pleated skirt. In the end I’m actually glad that I went for the zipper closure, because that meant that I didn’t have to fiddle with the buttons and make sure they weren’t gaping or pulling.

nicole is wearing a navy knee length dress, tan leather sandals, a pearl necklace, a straw hat with a navy hatband and a straw purse outside in a treed area

When you are sewing, you need to keep in mind not only your ideas for the design, but what the fabric itself calls for. When designing, I planned for a turned up sleeve cuff with a button detail and maybe a bit of navy contrast fabric. I’d found some pretty cream and antique brass buttons in the stash and designed the entire dress around using these button accents on both sleeves and at the back neck. As it turns out, the fabric had a mind of it’s own and it did not want to have a cuff or button detail on the sleeve, and instead asked for the simplest of sleeve styles. I kept trying to add some sort of feature- a pleat, a contrast binding, a keyhole…but the nature of the fabric called for something simple and structured.

neck button and keyhole detail of the dress made of navy cross patterned fabric

Likewise, after I had sewn the keyhole at the top of the back zipper, I discovered that the cream and brass buttons I’d planned for actually didn’t actually look good! Then I had to go through the entire stash (of course it was at night) looking for a new button. This one (an extra from my green cardigan) was a bit more subtle in colour and sheen and worked perfectly. When sewing, things don’t always turn out the way you planned…but sometimes they turn out even better. This simple style of dress is actually a better addition to my wardrobe than any kind of statement piece. It’s almost like a “background” dress in the fact that the fabric pattern is interesting and detailed, but can easily be matched with many of my accessories for a different look. Those simple sleeves will also layer very nicely with cardigans for Fall and with the heavier texture of the fabric, it isn’t going to just be a summer dress, but will carry over for cooler weather too.

wearing a navy v-neck knee length dress with a straw hat and bag outside in a treed area

For the day of the wedding, because it was outdoors in the sun, I wore my giant straw hat. I love this hat, and was so thankful for it because we were sitting in the sun with no breeze. (At least a rainstorm came up after to cool us off.) I made a hat band out of a coordinating navy grosgrain ribbon, and while it wasn’t perfect, it worked well for one day. However, that is not the hatband you are seeing here because…I lost it somewhere. I guess I put it somewhere “safe”, so I had to quickly hot glue a new ribbon for these pictures. Oops!

large straw hat with a navy ribbon hatband

I chose to wear my pearl necklace and earrings, since they make any outfit instantly more dressy and for shoes wore my low heeled sandals since they are comfortable and don’t have heels that would sink into the grass.

tan cognac leather sandals with an ankle strap

And I didn’t actually bring this purse to the wedding, even though I wanted to, because I didn’t get the handles in time. I bought this straw bag from the thrift store, removed the (ugly!) fake leather handles, put a new lining in the bag and added leather handles I bought from this Etsy shop. (She did a custom size for me, 26″ x 5/8″ in cognac leather.) I wish that they had arrived in time so I could have carried this bag, since I had to use a tote bag instead, which was way too floppy, and not nearly as stylish.

straw purse with leather cognac handles

So, that’s what I wore, and I’ve already worn this dress again because it’s so versatile. I’m am so glad that I went to the effort to make a new bodice block because that means that the hard part of fitting (the most hated part) is already done, and it’s pretty easy to whip up a dress once that’s out the way. I was planning on making another summer dress, but decided that since we are almost at the end of the season, I will instead start some sewing for fall and winter! That’s the thing with sewing…you always need to be thinking ahead to what season it will be when your projects will be finished. I’ve got some plans for more cool weather sewing projects, hopefully my next projects will be as quick as this one was, and I will have a few more things to wear this winter!

Have you attended many weddings in the past couple of years? When you go to a wedding, do you repeat the outfits you wear, or try to find something new? 

walking away wearing a navy knee length cotton dress and a large tan straw hat with a navy hat band

All Manner of Hats, From My Fashion Scrapbook

large white hat with a rolled up brim in the front

Along with the warm weather, comes the time to wear summer hats, starting with the Easter bonnet, of course. While I did wear a hat for Easter this year, it’s been featured on the blog before, so I didn’t post it again. Instead, how about we take a look at some of the hats and hair accessories I have saved in my fashion scrapbook? Many of these are from wedding magazines, but could be easily worn for other occasions. I was so inspired when looking through these: now I want to go and make some flower hats! In the past I have made flowers and headbands, but they’ve always been a bit smaller…I really think it’s time to make some large statement flowers!

Above- one of my favourite hats featured in a UK wedding magazine, wouldn’t this be so perfect for an outdoor wedding?

Speaking of oversized flowers, here are two lovely ones. I think these would be fairly straightforward to make. I should try…

large chiffon flower hair accessory

oversized chiffon flower fascinator

These pink hats, below, were probably the first pictures to start me on my vintage fashion journey. I think they were by Lilliput Hats from about 15 years ago. I’ve always been so in love with the colour and shape of them. So perfect for Spring!

pink floral and velvet and netting cap hats with veils

pink cap hats with tulle and netting veils

I love these polka dots flowers; these images were from about 12 years ago. That shape of hat was super popular back then, wasn’t it? I think one of the first hats I ever bought was a tan wool hat very similar to this.white house black market hat and floral hair accessory

large statement hats for a wedding

Here are a few wedding hats and accessories, that could definitely be worn elsewhere. Again, with the oversized flowers, the left one above is so fun! And on the right, I love the exaggerated tilt shape.

wedding hats for outdoors

wedding hats

I really like the tilt on this one, above right, too.

60's inspired wedding with little fascinator hat

Here is a fabulous hair accessory/hat/fascinator worn by Oprah in Vogue 1998, featuring flowers and feathers for an amazing theatrical look!

dramatic theatrical hat oprah vogue 1998

flower crown by Free People

And finally, no round up of hats is complete without the classic, but nevertheless fabulous, oversized straw hat.

two large oversized natural straw hats

What kinds of hats do you like to wear in the Spring and Summer? Which one of these is your favourite? Are you inspired to try creating some large flowers to dress up some hats and headbands?

Vintage Fur of Yesteryear

wearing a tan wool jacket and a fox fur stole

There is danger when you scroll through the Poshmark “vintage” tag with the intent to not purchase anything, because you very well might just find something to purchase. And when you’re looking at vintage items (especially when you find one for a good price) you know you might never find anything like it ever again. I’m not usually an impulse buyer, but when I saw this little vintage fur fellow in excellent condition, I decided he had to come and live with me.

wearing a tan wool jacket a fox fur stole a pearl necklace and a cream ring

I know that feelings run high when it comes to fur, and some people might find wearing a fox fur stole macabre, but I quite like this little guy. Fur collars and stoles with the head and tails were very popular through the first half of the 20th century, and in my vintage Sears catalogue books they have quite a few available in the 1920’s and 30’s. In a world of PVC and polyester, where fur, and even leather, has started to become taboo, it is strange to see advertisements for furs that can’t be mistaken as anything but dead animals.

wearing a tan blazer embroidered shell and pearl necklace

I haven’t had an occasion to wear him out, so I had to create my own occasion for his debut. I actually don’t know whether I will ever wear him; I think he would need a very particular occasion, and he is kind of hard to wear because of where the clasp goes. I’m also a little concerned that despite the fact he is in great vintage condition, furs do become fragile with age and I don’t want damage him through pulling and strain.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: don’t browse through vintage clothing unless you are fully prepared to bring some pieces into your collection!

closeup of fox fur stole

A World Where There are Octobers

woman spinning in front of a row of yellow trees

“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.

woman walking in front of a large row of trees

mountain ash tree berries and woman wearing a wrap skirt and navy blue t-shirt

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!

patchwork quilt purse

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…

woman spinning in front of autumn leaves

woman standing in front of golden trees looking into the distance

woman twirling in front of autumn trees

detail of a gold heart necklace

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.

woman wearing a wrap skirt and carrying a patchwork bag

mountain ash berries

patchwork quilted purse

cognac coloured ballet flats

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!

mountain ash tree

poplar branch in golden sunset light

Straw Hats and Sunny Days

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.

woman wearing a straw hat with a scarf bow

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).

woman wearing a cream tshirt, polka dot skirt and straw hat

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.

woman wearing a polka dot skirt, cream shirt, straw hat and mother of pearl necklace

woman wearing a straw hat with a silk bow on it

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.

tshirt cuff with lace detail

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?

woman wearing a large straw hat

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?

Oufit details: 

Hat from Love and Lore Indigo

Necklace pendant from Grandmother’s Buttons

T-shirt and sandals, secondhand

Skirt, homesewn

woman wearing a wrap skirt large straw hat