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Christmas Cardinals

1950s inspired pink and red cardinal print dress with red knit bat wing bolero

Whoooo…  I… started this post, and then I got distracted, and now I’m finally publishing it.  Better late than never, right? And as far as I’m concerned, cardinals are seasonal at least into February…

Because I cannot resist a theme or a last-minute project, I decided on the 23rd that I totally had enough time to make a new dress for Christmas. I found this cardinal print cotton by Cotton + Steel in the fabric store in the morning, and by the evening I’d managed to put together a new dress!

Since a cotton dress is obviously a little on the light side for late December, I paired it with another recent make, a super squishy bat-wing bolero in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. If it looks familiar, that’s because I was inspired to make it after seeing By Gum By Golly’s amazing take in green last winter. It is one of the strangest shaped things I’ve ever knit, and I do agree with her vague annoyance that the Etsy seller didn’t include the original pattern information as part of her re-type.

The only qualm I have with the bolero is that the sleeves really aren’t quite sure what length they want to be. They’re pretty much exactly on my elbows, so either they get pushed up or I have to intentionally pull them down below my elbows. Also, their extreme volume makes them kind of weird to wear inside of a coat.

When I finished the bolero, I used two of a set of five buttons I got at Rhinebeck to finish the neck opening, and I was pleased that I was able to use the other three matching buttons on the dress.

By far the most difficult (and most fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants… I wonder if those two are related…) part of the dress was the skirt. The pattern thought I’d do both functional buttons down the bodice front and a side zipper, but I thought that seemed overly complicated. I have a couple vintage shirt dresses that exclusively have front closures, usually an additional hook and eye at the waist and hidden buttons or snaps for 6-12 inches below. I opted for an extra snap hidden behind the front pleat, which gives me enough room to get in to the dress and so far seems to provide enough security to keep it closed. I can always add another snap or two if it doesn’t see like enough.

And of course, the finishing touch on any handmade dress… pockets!

Red 1950s felt hat: From FabGabs (and trimmed with a holiday floral pick from Michaels!)
Pink glitter lucite earrings: Thrifted somewhere in Wisconsin
Red bat-wing bolero: Knit by me (Ravelry project page)
Pink cardinal dress: Made by me, Advance 7993 and Winter Cardinals from the Cotton + Steel Frost collection
Red leather 80s belt: Thrifted
Opaque tights: Capezio
Pink seashell shoes: Miss L Fire Modcloth Exclusive long ago

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