Individuality in dress and a few fashion sewing guidelines….

This is such an interesting topic: individuality of dress.  Does it matter what the dress looks like if it suits ones personality?  Can there be a balance of individuality and still being seen as fashion forward?  Below is an excerpt from the book Harmony in Dress, which takes on this topic, along with a few guidelines for sewing construction.  A great resource for those who love to create 1920’s fashion.  Enjoy!

“Instantly the question came. “Do you consider individuality in dress more important that becomingness?”

Then there was a little pause as though this great designer did not know just what to say, but in a moment came the reply, “A dress cannot possibly express individuality until it is first becoming.  A dress must be becoming in the three requisite – color, line, and fabric; then it can be so carefully designed and constructed as to express individuality; but last of all it can be so truly lovely and can emphasize becomingness and individuality to such an extent that it will be distinctive – to my mind, the highest achievement in dress.”

Then came another question, “What constitutes in your opinion harmony of dress?”

And again the answer was decisive and to the point, “the dress and the wrap and the places where you go.”  And this the designer demonstrated by one little incident.  She was going into the mountains for a picnic and she was to wear a charming little blue print dress, but first she had to change the silk costume slip to one of white muslin, so, as she said, she could feel “in harmony.”

A few of the dress construction rules of this great designer are as follows:

” I never use a lining unless the fabric absolutely requires it, and even then I prefer a costume slip that will not interfere with the grace of the dress, allowing it to fall as easily and naturally as possible.

“I often use a narrow, inside, unboned, pliable stay belt, just to keep my dresses in position on the figure and give stability to the waist-line finish.

“I tear fabrics crosswise always when it is possible, for the tearing straightens them and makes them easier to handle.

“I sew silk skirt seams by hand and always with silk thread, of course, for they fall ‘easier’ and are more readily lost sight of.  Waist and sleeve seams I usually prefer to have machine stitched because of the firmness desired.

“I like ribbon trimmings because of the lovely soft colors that it is possible to procure in them.

“I especially like velvet trimming on crepes and satins because of the lovely deep tones procurable in velvet.

“I never waste materials.  I use them again and again.  The dye pot and I are good friends, for with a package of dye I can, in a few minutes, dye materials to match any tone, hue or tint, so very little is wasted.”

So let your clothing, whether purchased or handmade, truly be in harmony with itself and with you!

See you all in September!


Source: Harmony in Dress by Mary Brooks Picken, 1925

Individuality in Dress Cover

New Takes on a Few Old Favorites….

I am all about trying new things.  And sometimes trying new things simply means taking something old and altering it into a new shape.  I particularly love doing this with my wardrobe as it not only saves money, but it is such a fun challenge to see what new outfits I can create…both through sewing as well as using already purchased pieces.

With that thought in mind, I thought I would share a few “new takes” on a variety of standards.

1. Adding layers to a simple capelet is an easy way to amp up the style and elegance to a rather easy to create accessory.  For a basic tutorial, click here.


2. Keeping in the same theme of layers, try adding them to a skirt, such as these from the 1910’s. You can also add pleats, as seen in the right hand example.  Keep the layers in a lightweight fabric to avoid adding too much bulk.


3.  Here is a unique take on a vanity case.  It looks like a flask, yet instead of liquor it holds all one’s makeup primping needs.


4.  Instead of shopping with a color in mind, why not try shopping with a particular item in mind…like the color of fruit!



5.  Why not bake dressed up?  The stars on the cooking shows do it, and their food always seems to turn out great! 🙂


6.  When it comes to organizing your sewing room, here is a different idea for hanging and organizing fabric.


7.  This little mug organizer is such a fun way to hold all your sewing tools.  The tutorial can be found here.


8.  And here are a few different ways to eat the good old hotdog.  Perfect for the last BBQ’s of the summer!

Hot Dog Recipes

Do you have any new takes on an old favorite?  I would love to hear about them! 🙂


Source: Betty Crocker’s Outdoor Cookbook, 1967

            Joy’s Jots, shots, and whatnots

The Wonderful State Fair

“Our state fair is a great state fair,
Don’t miss it, don’t even be late.
It’s dollars to donuts
That our state fair
Is the best state fair in our state.”

~”Our State Fair “by Rodgers and Hammerstein

That time of year for us northerners has come…The Fair.  An exciting event that is both the epitome of summer as well as it’s end.

 I have always loved the Fair.   And even though I may not go very often, the memories I have of funnel cakes, curly fries, corn dogs (yes, most of my memories surround food), as well as the games and the picturesque ride on the ferris wheel, will always stay with me.

In honor of this wonderful tradition, I have found some fun Fair nostalgia to share!


How interesting that the decorations on the wreath are cattle heads… 🙂


The cars, the fashion, the ferris wheel… much fun!  I wonder how long those ladies’ hats will stay on their heads?

d89877327735c8ab8a9a687ca54a82bcThis Milk Stand seems a much better choice than the deep fried Oreo stand.  Not tastier, just better!


Stunning art on this World’s Fair poster….


This ferris wheel is absolutely amazing!  


Proud young ladies showing their creations and accompanying ribbons.  


The quintessential Fair food: cotton candy!

So take the grandparents, the kiddies, and anyone else you can find, and head out for a wonderful day at the Fair…maybe you will see this couple! 😉



1940’s Hat Tutorial

Well, this just happens to be the easiest hat to make ever!  

If you can sew in a circle, you can make this hat.  The inspiration for this little accessory came from the movie Best Foot Forward (1943) staring Lucille Ball.



I loved the sheer elegance of this hat along with the delicate way it perches on the head.

Want to make one of your own?

All you need is a cut-out template of desired shape (mine was a 10″ x 11″ oval cut out of heavy paper) and 5 yards of tulle.

  1. Simply cut out as many ovals as you wish.  The more ovals, the more full the hat.  I folded the tulle several times to save time on cutting.
  2. Pin a smaller oval in the center and then stitch through all the layers.  You will see that my circle is slightly shifted to the back of the head so it would be fuller by my face.
  3. I then made two rows of stitches, one right on top of the other, to ensure a secure hold.


That’s it!  Simply pin on your head and enjoy!

Here are a few more closeups, along with some shots of the whole ensemble!  To see the post on the creation and inspiration of the suit, please click here.

1940's suit with hat 7

1940's suit with hat 6

1940's suit collage

Have a fabulous Monday my friends!


Introduction to Darts: Part Two

Now that we have learned the basic way to make a dart, here are two more advanced, yet very common types of darts: the body dart and the tuck dart.

The body dart is most often used for one piece dresses, as well as fitted jackets. Instead of have a triangle shape like the basic dart, the body dart has a diamond shape.  I find that I use this dart the most with historical sewing.

The tuck dart, or inverted tuck, is a basic dart turned upside down.  This creates more fullness at the top and is most often seen in vintage sewing (1930’s-1950’s) right below the bust line.

Here are the steps to create these two darts, starting with the body dart.

Body and Tuck Darts Tutorial

Here again are several examples of darts on historical clothing…

Dart Examples

There are so many types of darts to learn, but these will definitely get you on the right path to a better fit!

Happy Weekend!


Next month: Introduction to Tucks

Goat’s Milk Beauty Products…and an Interview with “From Goats to Soaps”

I was so delighted to be contact several weeks ago by the equally sweet and talented Grey Dove, of the blog From Goats to Soaps.  A wonderful blog that chronicles the adventures of two friends, Grey Dove and Isabelle (along with Isabelle’s family), as they raise some of the cutest goats, alpacas, and llamas I have ever seen, along with creating very high quality bath and beauty products sold at Les Belles Bouclettes.

Located in the idyllic landscape of eastern Ontario, Ferme Bonne Mine (“looks good/ healthy”), is the passion of Isabelle, her husband Jacques, and her four children, Dominque, Denis, Fanny, and Sophie, who moved from France in 2006.   In addition to goat milk beauty products, Isabelle and Grey Dove also offer a wide array of rovings and yarn.


The Farm 


Isabelle and her family

yearlings waiting for grains

Waiting for some dinner….

milking goat

Milking in action

dyeing wool

Dyeing wool

When Grey Dove (her preferred creative name) offered to send me a collection of their handmade products, I was very excited, as I am a firm believer in using natural products whenever possible!

Here are pictures of just a sampling of goodies offered by Grey Dove and Isabelle:

Floral Goat’s Milk Soaps

Beautiful to look at and delightfully scented, these soaps are extremely moisturizing.  I also loved how easily they lathered and emitted their delicate aroma.  I highly recommend the lavender!


Silky Satin Dusting Powder and Mohair Powder Puff

This puff is so luxurious and fluffy and unique!  Grey Dove created this in purple, which was so exciting as it is one of my favorite colors.  I found that dusting myself with the powder after a shower was glorious as it soften my skin and gave a wonderful scent.


Felted Soap with Essential Oils

I can not say enough about these felted soaps!  They are hands down the best!  I love how you not only have a gentle scrub on your hands, but the scent of these (my favorite was the oatmeal) lasted for hours and gave a wonderful aroma to the whole room.  I highly recommend these as they are great by both the kitchen and bathroom sinks.  They are great for kids too, since they do not slip around when you use them.  Grey Dove offers a tutorial on how she created these little beauties.


Lip Balm

While there are many scents offered by Isabelle and Grey Dove, I chose the blueberry pancakes lip balm and fell in love.  The fabulous thing about this particular lip balm, in addition to the wonderful scent and taste, is that it goes on very smooth and doesn’t feel sticky on the lips.  I loved using it as a base for my lipstick and then popped a little more in the center of my lips for a bit of shine.


Rose Milk Bath Fizzies

These alone are enough for me to have a bath every night.  Period.  It fizzled and popped just as the title says.   Rose happens to be one of my favorite scents and when I came out of the bath, my skin had the most wonderful essence of rose for hours.


 Bubble Scoops and  Cupcake Fizzies

As tough as it was to pop that amazing cup cake into the water (it looked so amazing, I just wanted to leave it on display) I loved the rich scent it created in the water.  Same can be said for the bubble scoops…I felt like I was dropping ice cream scoops into the bath, which was a wonderful thought during the heat of the summer!

I hope that you take some time to treat yourself to these beautifully crafted products.  Not only are they a fantastic deal (and for all you Americans, the exchange rate certainly works in our favor :-)), but Grey Dove and Isabelle are offering my readers a very special deal of 10% your entire purchase!  Simply use coupon code aimee2015.  This deal will last until the end of September, and with international shipping offered, it is a great way to pamper yourself or a friend during the last days of summer.

And with such great products, a fantastic approach to crafting, and a mutual love of all things vintage, I knew that I wanted to learn more!  Grey Dove graciously allowed me the opportunity to interview her….I hope you enjoy!

What are your favorite ingredients to use in your beauty products?
I love experimenting with different ingredients, and one of the best parts of making beauty products from scratch is the ability to try something new just because it appeals.  Being able to customize by adding, changing quantities, and removing ingredients in a product recipe is also a treat. 
In soap making every oil has its own properties and I’d have a shop full if I could buy all the ones that interest me.  Finding ones that are affordable while still creating a luxury product were my first goals, and I feel we’ve succeeded in doing this pretty well.  I have always loved crafting, especially “old-fashioned” crafts like spinning (which I haven’t yet, but want to master), weaving and knitting. Learning soap making fell into that category for me.  However, the more I learned the more fascinated I became.  I also have sensitive skin that reacts badly to a lot of things, and some relatives who have true problem skin along with a ton of other allergies so I began thinking there might be a market for good quality hand-made unscented soap.  Unscented did not prove popular, so I started adding essential oils.  Now I also use high-quality fragrance oils in my soaps and bath products.  Although they aren’t all natural they do not have any petroleum by-products in them, and they do offer a  much wider variety of aromas to choose from and enjoy.  
I like ingredients that help me to create products that are gentle, do not dry the skin, and moisturize in a way unlikely to cause problems to people with oilier skin.  (Oily skin generally needs moisturizing which makes caring for it very tricky.)  My bath candies, solid bubble bath (Bubble Scoops) and fizzies are all made with ingredients that should soften your water, may moisturize (particularly the bath candies) and won’t leave your skin feeling dry.  I choose high-quality ingredients that have been processed as little as possible.    And of course in our soap we only use farm fresh goat’s milk, which has added a whole new wonderful dimension to the final product!   
What are three things you would like people to know about you and the items you create?
I probably pretty much answered this question in my ramble above.  I suppose I’d like people to know that each  batch is made by hand.  There are and will be slight variations, I do my best to keep them to a minimum but it is the nature of hand-made not to be able to reproduce items identically.
I really enjoy most of what I do,and take-care with every product I make.  I test most items in person, although Isabelle and her daughters some times help in the product testing department, … Fannie has been a particular help as she is enthusiastic about bath products!
Because of my own skin condition issues (I suffered from adult acne for many years, and still can struggle with eczema) and my relatives problems, I always keep possible skin conditions and how each products ingredients may effect people in mind while creating.  I recently met someone online who is gluten intolerant and while I was delighted to realize that nothing I make would pose a problem to someone suffering from this difficult illness it did make me conscious of one more way in which to check and double-check my products ingredients. 
What led you and Isabelle to collaborate?
Pure luck and Isabelle combined!  We had both put items for sale at a local tourism office.  At the time Isabelle was playing with the idea of felting soap.  She bought some of the soap I had for sale at the office.  It particularly appealed to her because it was all natural.  It felted well and she was happy with it.  She contacted me and after discussing what she wanted, she placed an order.  At the time I was unhappy with the methods I had been using to sell and promote my products so shifting into wholesale suited me.  I took a bit of a break at that point.  Essentially Isabelle was my only customer so I was busy during her show seasons and had time off in between.  Once she switched to goat’s milk, I began experimenting since making soap with milk presents certain challenges.  It wasn’t long after we began using goat’s milk in our soap. By this time we thought of them as “our” soap even if “I” make it, and a project she had been talking about for some time actually came to be. Les Belles Bouclettes, an online boutique was born!  As the site took shape, Isabelle asked me to look over the bath and body care pages and to help with the text for them.  She isn’t a knitter so I offered to check over the yarn pages as well and soon I had begun writing text for the website.  With a larger audience and more potential customers to show our products to, I was able to start letting myself play with ingredients and products I had only read about or made for friends and family.  We didn’t like the original web host we were with so after a few months Isabelle switched to a different host.  The new one had an option for a blog and she was very excited about the idea of doing one.  I hadn’t thought of doing a product centred blog before then, … it is and has been an adventure! 
Do you have any new products in the works?
Always, Aimee, always!  Exercising self restraint and not making products is my challenge.  Top of my list right now is a fizzy for footpaths.  It will have a little oil blended in to the fizzy formula to moisturize the tougher skin on the feet. 
I also have a dry shampoo I am very pleased with, and soon as we have the packaging, we will be adding it to our product line.
In early autumn, we’ll be ready to show you some new soaps, ones made with cucumber and pumpkin (two different soaps), from Isabelle’s garden.  And before that we will be pinching a few eggs from her hens to make a special limited edition batch of egg soap!
Several different mixes of salts (Epson, Dead Sea, Himalayan Pink to name a few) in bath soaks and formulations are something I’d like to work with soon, and I  am really excited about our new solid bubble baths, hoping to do more with the basic idea, … maybe bubbling bath salts?


Pumpkin soap!  Egg soap!  Yes, please!!  I can’t wait!

I was so intrigued with the uniqueness and the old-fashioned way in which Isabelle and Grey Dove run and care for their farm, I asked them for another interview….and they said yes!

Therefore, next month we will take a tour of the farm, learn about daily life caring for such amazing creatures, and more of the story of these two wonderful women. Stay tuned!!


A 1940’s Navy Suit

I adore 1940’s fashion, especially the suits.  While I don’t think I could personally ever get used to such full shoulder pads, I nonetheless appreciate the clean, simple lines which were such a trademark of the decade.  The particular version I created is a conglomeration of two separate looks…a typical straight seamed skirt with a blazer jacket that gathers at the waist.  I took inspiration from a variety of sources, and since I couldn’t decided on one particular look, I created a style of my own.

My Inspiration

1940's suit inspiration

What also makes this outfit unique and feminine, is the ruffled blouse underneath.  Simple in construction, this blouse gives a little extra flair from the detailed neckline to the tapered sleeves.

I hope you enjoy my version of a 1940’s fashion staple!







If you have a 1940’s suit you’ve made, please feel free to share!  I would love to see it!  You can share the link in the comments below, or post a picture to my Facebook Page.