The Dressmaking Retreat: What I Made Afterwards

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a second dress started before the end of the dressmaking retreat I attended in Beacon, NY last month.  With my first dress successfully finished, I decided to pick up Gretchen’s new Night and Day dress pattern (conveniently stocked in the shop we were in!) and give it a try.  I actually hadn’t originally planned to purchase the pattern, because it’s similar enough to some vintage patterns that I own, but now that I have it I’ve been putting it to good use!

Gertie's Night and Day dress in key print cotton

The Dressmaking Retreat: What I Made

Purple roses and spiderwebs dress

Earlier in the summer on a whim I decided it would be a great idea to sign up for one of the Beacon Dressmaking Retreats led by Gretchen Hirsch of Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing and various pattern and book publication fame.  The location for the class is only a few hours’ drive from my house, and I definitely felt like I could do with some more guided sewing instructions since my general approach is a bit… fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants.

Pardon the dust

Hello dear readers, however many of you are still straggling along with me and my infrequent posting habits.  I’ve moved my blog (again) and am having some difficulty getting the posts to come with it.  I’ve realized I need a blogging solution I can do from anywhere, which my last one… was not.  So here we are, back on conventional hosting.  If I can convince myself to write, I promise that I have interesting things to report on soon, including a whole lot of sewing that has been happening lately.  In the meantime, here’s a sneak look at my latest make on Instagram:

The Roaring Twenties Lawn Party

On Friday morning, I (aided and abetted by my husband) made a very last minute decision to attend the Roaring Twenties Lawn Party at the Crane Estate. There was just one problem – I generally dress in 40s and 50s styles and had nothing to wear. My husband picked up the tickets online, and I ran to the nearest fabric store on my lunch break and texted pictures of every likely print to a friend. I eventually settled on a nearly-empty bolt of an umbrella print and some solid blue to pair it with. I had a 1930s pajama pattern and I figured that with a few tweaks and a daywear fabric I could make them into passable beach pajamas.

duBarry 1137B 1930s pajama sewing pattern

The pajamas said that I needed just shy of 4 yards of 36” fabric, plus optionally a yard for the contrast. There were 2 yards of the umbrella print fabric left, and somehow in my hunger- and panic-addled state I decided that I only needed two yards of the coordinating blue fabric.

When I returned home in the evening, fabric in hand, I threw everything in the wash and got out my pattern to trace. This is where I hit the first snag – it turned out that the pants pieces were no longer in the envelope! After a moment of panic, I remembered that print-at-home patterns were a thing and headed to Etsy.

I settled on the Wearing History Chic Ahoy culotte pattern, which I figured would be close enough, and got to work printing and taping. I made a few modifications to the pattern – I shortened the waistband to the natural waist, omitted the ties, and left out the pockets – and crossed my fingers. Of course, at this point I realized that there was no way I was getting an entire pair of pants out of my umbrella fabric – it had a one-way nap, and there just wasn’t room. I swapped the main pants pieces to my solid fabric and cut 10-inch hem extensions from the umbrellas instead, hoping to recreate the look of the pants in the original pajama pattern.


Satisfied that the pants would come together, I went to bed and planned to resume sewing in the morning.

Letters and Feathers

I’ve been putting off sharing photos from last summer and fall all winter — I’m not sure why, it’s not like any of you are reading a vintage fashion blog to discover hot new trends for Spring/Summer 2018 or so you can go out and buy whatever dress I’m reviewing on the blog. All my style choices are at least 50 years out of date and most of the dresses you couldn’t buy even if you wanted to. So really, what does it matter if I’m behind or ahead of the seasons a bit?

I probably could wear this outfit right now if I wanted to, but the scenery wouldn’t be nearly as green and lovely.


The highlight here, of course, is this absurd hat. My friend Hannah (@giltriddengal) was selling it and obviously it’s right up my alley. I knew this novelty print dress would be a perfect match for it, and I’ll definitely be wearing this combination again.


California Trip – Part 2

This post has been sitting in my drafts since December, and the events happened even longer ago than that, but since it is late March and just keeps snowing, I think it seems as good a time as any to recap the second leg of our California honeymoon trip – a visit to Disneyland!


We both grew up in California, but while Doug got to go to Disneyland with some regularity, it was a very rare treat for me. We figured that there was no better way to kick off our official adulthood phase of life than by going and enjoying a few days with absolutely no responsibilities at all.


An A-lure-ing Dress

While we’re on the topic of sewing, I realized I never shared this novelty cotton dress I made last summer and so a post was quite overdue.

Fishing lure novelty dress

I’ve wanted some sort of fish or fishing themed dress for quite a while, since fishing at the lake was one of the high points of every childhood summer – and it still is a high point of summers as an adult! Unfortunately, I’ve had some difficulty finding a print I liked. Many fishing prints, no matter how colorful, are on a cream background, which I absolutely hate on myself.

Fishing lure novelty dress

I’m not the most keen on brown either, but when I saw this fishing lure print fabric I figured it was worth a shot.

Love Letters

At the beginning of February, one of the vintage sellers I follow posted a garment badly in need of a rescue. Now, I’m not usually one to want to alter vintage clothing – if it survived this long, I shouldn’t be the person to change it! But I do make an exception for things that just aren’t wearable in their current state.

"Love Letters" vintage dress

The seller in question was One Sweet Thread and the piece was a sweet 50s housecoat that had seen better days. One sleeve had lost its elastic, the magenta piping was badly frayed, and several buttons were missing. The fabric had definitely been through a lot, but it seemed like there was still some life in it, so I carefully took it apart on the seams, gave it a good soak and a press, and started digging through my patterns.