Almost a dress

There is a finished quilt that hasn’t been photographed. A shawl that needs ends woven in & blocking, another skein of handspun (woolen lace weight this time) and now an almost finished dress.

Almost finished! #armyofdresses

We’ve started to get some hot & humid temperatures here in Montreal (29°C yesterday) which have made me wish for more hot weather dress options. I have more options for “transitional” weather periods which is usually a fairly short period of time.Especially this year it seems.

This dress has been almost almost finished for a while. I cut out the pieces 2 summers ago, started working on it last year sometime and worked on it a bit a few months ago. I picked it up again this week as a quick finish. The vintage voile is just the thing for hot weather.

Now, I just need to finish attaching the collar, add some buttons and I’ll have another dress in the rotation.

One day, these Ceylons will have buttons

(mostly) Finished Ceylon Added pocket Added cuff band

Pattern: Colette Patterns Ceylon
Materials: Heather Bailey, Nicey Jane Hop Dot Sky
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Modified sleeve (added cuff band) & added pocket.
Start Date: Spring 2012
End Date: Still needs buttons :/

(mostly) Finished Ceylon Added collar

Pattern: Colette Patterns Ceylon
Materials: I think it’s a Moda dot?
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Added collar & modified/slightly de-puffed sleeve.
Start Date: Spring 2012
End Date: Still needs buttons :/

The one down side to my awesome old sewing machines is that I can’t easily make button holes. I also have a special desire to have a closet’s worth of amazing shirt dresses. I should probably figure out a solution one of these days. In the meantime, here are some (mostly) finished dresses that keep hanging around patiently for me.

Summer Dresses – Vogue 9728

Finished Vogue 8728

Pattern: Vogue 8728
Materials: Nani Iro 2012 Fuccra grey
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Skirt cut to knee length.
Start Date: Early Summer 2012
End Date: Early Summer 2012

Finished Vogue 8728

Pattern: Vogue 8728
Materials: Peach ‘n Pink dots
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Skirt cut to knee length.
Start Date: Early Summer 2012
End Date: Early Summer 2012

Here’s a couple of dresses that I made last year. Both of these were finished by summer. They were favourites for that season and anytime I needed a summer memory pick-me-up. Wearing the polkadot version with black tights and my saddle oxfords makes me feel like I should be a tap-dancing Minnie Mouse.

An army of one

I have begun my army of dresses with McCall’s M4769. After playing fantasy seamstress and as the patterns begun to arrive in my mail box, I took them with me to my regularly scheduled crafterday at Effiloché and continued to play the game.

Turns out adding fabric makes the game more fun, but hard to stay reasonable. I was going to start with getting fabric for one dress and it quickly became fabric for 5 dresses. In the end I kept things reasonable and only bought fabric for 2 dresses. Very restrained I think.

Daniel helped me fit the pattern in the style of Fit for Real People. There’s a bit of a learning curve with these techniques but I think it’s worth the pay off to get a dress that actually fits properly.

The last time I sewed garments was back in the summer between grades 6 and 7 when my mom decided my brother and I would learn to sew. Our aunt, a self-taught seamstress and my mom showed us how the basics of making clothes. I ended up with a closet full of dresses and my brother got a complete wardrobe of colourful vests (it was the 90’s after all). That year my mom bought a serger for us to use so I’m learning about “properly” finishing the inside of a garment. French seams, bias tape and all that jazz.

It’s coming along quite nicely. Well at least between fights with my vintage free-to-me sewing machine. I try to show reverence and respect. I even recently moved it to a more permanent part of the kitchen so it may feel more cooperative. I’ve been giving it some personal space for a while, but I’ll try it tonight and see how hospitable it feels. Fingers crossed that it goes well.

I have had some difficulty fitting the sleeve cap into the armhole. Our adjustments to the sleeve seem to have added an awful lot of fabric to the top. I hand basted it into the dress. The effect of a 19th century sleeve in a 20th century dress design really doesn’t jive.

So I rebasted the sleeve into position, taking the excess fabric into two pleats near the top. It’s still not quite right. I think I might have to adjust the pleats a bit to get them to sit nicely. There’s a lot of fabric in each pleat so I might try splitting 2 pleats into 4: two smaller ones on the front part and 2 on the back part of the sleeve.

I’ll keep you posted.

Oh and don’t these shoes look cute with the dress?

The Little Shop of Wonders

Hi Jill, here’s the post you’ve been waiting for.

There exists in Montreal a fabulous hidden gem of a house stuffed to the gills with fabulous old things. I mean full. Basement and both floors. FULL of wonders. Mr. Peabody found out about it from a customer at Effiloché and has been pretty much once a week since discovering it. Every time going home with bags full of treasures which he has been very gracious to show off and share.

One Saturday afternoon just as I was having lunch, Mr. Peabody called to see if I wanted to accompany him on his weekly visit to the Little Shop so I could finally see his new found wonderland of stuff. And wonderland it truly is! Full of everything and anything you’d like. This is the place that set dressers and costume designers dream of. Vintage everything all in one place.

Jill pointed us to the basement suggesting I take a look at the rack of dresses down there. It was hard to make it past all the fabulous vintage fur coats and get to the dresses. Once there, I spent a good hour looking at each dress, picking out what caught my eye and moving on to the next. I made quite the stack and found some awesome things. Meanwhile Mr. Peabody looked through the boxes in the back, going through boxes of hats, kimonos, linens, what have you.

When Jill came to check on us, she looked at what I had picked out and suggested I come look at her vintage dress gems upstairs. Again a fantastic range of dresses, styles and eras in great condition. There were a couple that were impossible to say no to.

Mr. Peabody found a few boxes of vintage patterns which we both looked through. As you can see, we found some keepers. This shopping trip has jump started both my vintage dress and vintage sewing pattern collections with some really awesome pieces of both.

And then we were out of time. Well over time. But Jill was very kind to let us hang out some more. Letting Mr. Peabody show me upstairs. Then we hung out chatting about quilts, tops and fabulous old things. We didn’t have the chance to take a break for tea. Maybe next time.

Fantasy Seamstress

My best friend lives in LA, so we very rarely get to go shopping together. Instead of giving up on it entirely, we sometimes play fantasy wardrobe and send each other things through iChat or email. Recently my friend got engaged and was stressing out about finding a dress. In comes fantasy wardrobe to the rescue!

Disclaimer: I’m not a big super girly, wedding-planned-since-I-was-5 kind of girl. It’s taken nearly 20 years for me to get back into wearing dresses voluntarily since my pink lace pinafore ridden childhood. My dad was a sucker for pink. And lace. And cute dresses. I still can’t stand any kind of barrette or headband in my hair and regularly cut my own bangs.

But to my surprise, it’s super fun to pick out wedding dresses—for someone else—online. Lisa’s a good sport and didn’t seem to mind that I kept emailing her all these dresses that I found for her, including potential bridesmaids dresses. I even spent some of my lunches at work on the hunt. Then I realised this might not be the best of ideas. I could be starting some interesting rumours as everyone can see my computer screen as they walk down the hallway. Either I’m getting married and am an insta-bridezilla, or that I’ve snapped and started planning a fantasy wedding to an imaginary groom to keep from feeling sad and alone. So I decided to keep this activity at home.

At some point, my fantasy-wedding-dress search turned into a fantasy-I-have-a-wedding-to-go-to dress search. I found some very lovely dresses in the not-so-lovely $300 range and I suddenly recalled the difficulty I had finding a dress for the last wedding I went to. It was expensive, took 5 hours of shopping to find and still needed a safety pin to keep from showing my bra. Then it occurred to me, I could MAKE a dress.

So Fantasy Wardrobe turned into Fantasy Seamstress. All the fun and excitement of Fantasy Wardrobe, yet with the added super fun benefit of being closer to becoming reality. Pair this up with my recent discovery of A Dress a Day and I’ve got a new mission: convert my wardrobe of jeans + t-shirts into an army dresses!

I scoured the McCalls/Butterick/Vogue Pattern sites for stuff I liked/would suit me and have started accumulating patterns. Right now I’m working on a Scissors dress. A scissor dress (in this context) is a shirt dress made from Momo Wonderland Snip Snip in blue. Daniel from Effiloché has been helping me fit the pattern and teaching me some proper garment making tricks. In exchange, I have been knitting a dress for a project of his.

A trip to an amazing vintage shop has jump started my vintage pattern collection. But that’s a post all in it’s own.

Waiting in the wings are some pretty fantastic patterns and fabrics.