What a Difference a Collar Can Make!

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Have an old dress that could use an update?  Your latest sewing experiment didn’t turn out so well?  Can’t find just the right necklace to complete an outfit?  

Have you tried a collar?  

Take a look at these examples of 1930’s gowns that feature collars in various forms.

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The beauty of a collar, whether ruffly or simple, is it’s ability to dress-up an outfit with very little effort.  

Want to create a collar that is very similar to the last picture?  

Well, click the picture below to be taken to a tutorial I created a few months ago!

1930's Scarf

 

Accessories, and especially collars, can truly make an outfit!  

Enjoy!

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How I learned to Sew…

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I have been so busy sewing the final mock ups for my sewing book (cue excited squeal), that I have not had a chance to make anything else…not even a little accessory to share with you!  I am hoping that will change later on in March…fingers crossed! 🙂

So when it came to decide what to share with you all today, I became stumped…which usually never happens.  I thought and I thought and, yep, I thought some more, and came up with this story.  The story of how and why I started sewing….

I was around the age of 10 and had just received the ultimate gift that every little girl in the ’90’s wanted (and I am sure even today,) an American Girl Doll.  Kirsten to be exact, whose story was set in the 1850’s.  I loved that doll and took her everywhere with me.  I dressed her, fed her, braider her hair, and had just about the best time ever!  But, one thing I did not have enough of was outfits.  To purchase them through the company was expensive, and I was convinced that I could reproduce them on my own.

Now up to that point, I could do a basic sewing stitch.  I’m talking basic.  And I don’t believe I ever used a sewing machine up to that point.  I might have…I’m just not sure.  Maybe my mom will remember when she reads this? 🙂  But as far as I am aware, I hadn’t.  So I begged my mom to haul out our 1970’s Singer sewing machine, that I am pretty sure weighed more than me, and sat down for my first lesson.  Mom gave me the basics, some scraps to practice with, and off I went.

It didn’t take me too long to figure out what I liked and didn’t like about sewing.  I enjoyed the sound it made, and even the odd “machinery” smell that it emitted after over an hour of use.  Perhaps many of you know what I’m talking about?  It’s the wonderful blend of your sewing machine,  the heat from the light inside, and a little dose of magic.  Every once in a while, I will get a whiff of it from mine and it instantly takes me back to a happy time.  Now that I am thinking about it, I hope that smell isn’t a sign the machine is about to explode?….Oh well! 🙂

What I didn’t like about the sewing machine was my constant battle with the bobbin tension.  I hated it!  That machine was so finicky and would seize up with the bobbin and I would just about loose it.  Oh and button holes….not my friend back in the day.  Thank goodness for sew-in velcro!

Eventually I got the hang of it, and my dad took me to the local Joann Fabrics store where I picked out my first sewing pattern.  It was a Simplicity pattern for 18″ dolls, and I am pretty sure was fairly new in response to the popularity of the American Girl Dolls.  With that in my little hand and two choices of cotton, I plunked down my allowance and headed home to get started!

My first doll dress.  Where to begin?….

 I guess I should take a “glass-half-full” view of it.

It was a dress.

And if you pulled really hard the velcro in the back could alllmmooooost touch.  What I didn’t understand, at the time, was the concept of a full skirt.  I just cut out enough to go around her body and thought that was enough.  So my 1850’s doll was wearing a 1960’s Twiggy shift dress.  But I didn’t care.  I just kept  practicing!

Every week, like clockwork, my mom and dad would take me to the fabric store.   I would pick out one or two calico patterns (1/2 yard each) and would go home to try again!  I got pretty good at it and before I knew it, Kirsten was wearing a dress that was properly fitting, properly designed, and didn’t need a shawl to cover up her exposed back.  It was a great accomplishment!

I don’t know if my parents, at that time, realized the impact this experience would have on me in my later life.  They always supported my brother and I in our hobbies, but I wonder if they knew they were laying the groundwork for my passion and career? Regardless, I would like to say thank you mom and dad!  You supported a dream that has become a reality! 🙂

Oh, and dad, thanks for the extra fabric money.  I’m not sure how my allowance always went so far…but it did! 🙂

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Don’t forget there are only three days left to enter the giveaway from Les Belles Bouclettes!  With free, world wide shipping offered exclusively for this giveaway, you just can’t go wrong!  Click HERE to enter!  To see what is offered in this giveaway, visit this post!


Recreate this Look: 1930’s Plaid Skirt with Sweater

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Today’s post was probably one of the most fun things I have done in a while!  While researching and thinking about what to post for today, I began browsing through a bunch of photographs and articles on fashion.  And then I came across this lovely photo:

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I instantly fell in love and wonder how I could recreate this look on my own.  Well….then I remembered Polyvore and my little heart just about exploded out of my chest.  Polyvore, if you don’t know, is an online tool that allows you to search a practically unlimited amount of clothes, shoes, accessories….and create your own specialized look.  Then it saves all the items you used along with the store websites and prices.  I haven’t used Polyvore in forever, and decided to create a new account just for this blog!

So after the funnest and fastest hour of my life, I created this version of the above look but with a modern twist!

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Too cute!

While, I have to admit the sweater is waaay out of my price range, many of the other items are quite affordable!  To see the breakdown, click HERE.

One could even sew a skirt just like the original using this pattern:

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Pattern from Past Patterns

For a different look, use this fabric for the skirt and adjust your accessories to highlight the soft cornflower blue.  Stunning!

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To purchase fabric, click HERE               

NEWS UPDATE!

You may have notice a change when you hopped over to my blog!  A popup asking you to join my newsletter may have showed it’s little self to you!  I will be sending out a monthly newsletter chocked full of goodies that include behind-the-scense photos of my projects, sewing studio, important news updates, and exclusive details on the new changes coming to my online store and the future release of my book.  Once you sign up, don’t worry about doing so again!  Simply click the word “close” at the top right hand side, and get right back into the historical and vintage-y goodness!

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So when that little popup shows up with this picture….

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….I hope you sign right up! 🙂  

Have a wonderful day!

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P.S. Don’t forget to hop over to my FACEBOOK to enter into the bath and body gift basket giveaway from Les Belles Bouclettes!  End Monday 2/29.


My Favorite Things…and a Giveaway!


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Today is a very exciting day for two reasons!

One, I get to share with you my favorite things of the month, and two, announce the start of the giveaway from Les Belles Bouclettes!  Yay!!

 So let’s get started!

My Top Five Favorites

  1. I am completely in love with the book The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski.  It is a fascinating look into the reign of the Dress Doctors and their influence and evolution on women’s fashion during the 20th century.  It is wonderful read and has inspired me to view my wardrobe on more of a personal level.  To purchase the book CLICK HERE.41K5Q2hwTZL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_
  2. Clean white pitchers.  I can’t get enough of them.  They are perfect for holding flowers, silverware, kitchen utensils, or makeup brushes!  Pick up this one from Bed Bath and Beyond for under $10!10374016353280p
  3. I adore this fleece from Joann Fabrics.  I’m thinking about making a throw out of it to lay over my lap while I sew.  To purchase it or to see other patterns CLICK HERE.CP49924_wf
  4. A bit unusual, but my husband and I have been addicted to this Crab Mac and Cheese recipe.  Not something that we have very often, but has become a top choice in comfort food when we feel like splurging calories wise.  Not exactly a sewing or fashion item, but it is one of my favorite things this month!  Find recipe HERE.EM1002_Chesapeake-Bay-Crabby-Mac.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape
  5. Any of the products from Les Belles Bouclettes…especially if it has an oatmeal scent!  And what a better way to share the love then with a giveaway generously offered by the two ladies behind the productsFrom Goats To Soaps
So just what is in this Easter-themed giveaway?

Here is the list of all the goodies that amount to over $50 worth of product!!

1 Easter Egg soap scent Chocolate mousse: 130 grams,
1 soap showing the words GoatMilk and a doe and kid, scent Creamy Oatmeal: 130 grams,
1 Felted soap scent Maple Fudge: approximately 110 grams,
1 bag Foaming Bath Salts, scent Chocolate Mousse: 200 grams,
3 bath fizzies, scent Creamy Oatmeal: 95 grams
1 lip balm, stack of two pots, flavour Blueberry Pancakes, 10 grams,
6 shower steamer tablets, scents Creamy Oatmeal and Chocolate Mousse: 30 grams

And here are few photos of the products in this giveaway!felted soap

Felted Soap

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Oatmeal scented soapbath salts with scoop

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Dying to get your hands on these goodies!! Here is what you need to do!  

Click here to visit my Facebook page.  There you will find the giveaway!  Entering is as simple as putting your email into the giveaway and clicking the links provided to follow Isabelle and Grey Dove’s blog From Goats to Soaps.  Extra points (and therefore more chances to win) are available each day by sharing a post, or a product from either their shop Les Belles Bouclettes  or their blog From Goats to Soaps or any post from my blog.   All links are listed in the giveaway.  The giveaway will run from February 22, 2016 (that’s today!) to Monday, February 29, 2016 at midnight.  I will announce the winner on my blog on March 2nd!  Winners will be contacted privately by Isabelle and Grey Dove for shipping information.

Ready to enter? Head on over!!

Have a wonderful Monday!

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Rearranging the Living Room

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I often wish I had a larger living room.  Not that there is anything specifically wrong or frustrating about my living room, but as it is rather small.  Due to it’s size, the room doesn’t easily lend itself to much rearranging…something I love to do.  It never use to bother me that much, until I purchased a 1950’s decorating book at a flea market and realized the value and appeal of a larger living area.  Not because I want to shove in more expensive furniture, or to host large dinner parties, but because of a long forgotten aspect of a vintage living room…the game table.

When I came across this addition, highly recommended in any proper living room, I instantly fell in love.  To create a space in the common living area where a person can write, catch up with the local newspapers, and more importantly, play games without sitting on the floor, is such an appealing aspect to family living.  This little area isn’t meant to replace an office, but to be a spot for mutual fun and work to be done as a family.  Maybe in my next house I will have enough space! 🙂

But enough about that.  What about the basics?  Like figuring out the flow of traffic or the proper location for the T.V. or bookshelves?  Well, below are many examples of floor layouts for a variety of shaped rooms!

Please note that the descriptions and the arrows point to the opposite page.  Use the color guide and the page numbers to recognize which page follows which.

Living Room 1

Living Room 2

Living Room 3

Living Room 4

Once the traffic pattern has been detected and arranged accordingly, now decide where to put that television!

Living Room 5

Living Room 6

What I find so fascinating about this section is the lack of importance that is placed on the television. Of course, one wants to ensure that it can be seen by all, but the T.V. must fit into the scheme of the living room, not the other way around.  A different time I suppose! 🙂

Happy arranging!

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My Favorite Movie Costumes

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Today, I want to share with you my most favorite movie costumes from the last 70 years! I have narrowed my rather large list down to just five!  A very difficult feat! 🙂  Some are ornate, and some, are very simple.

 So let’s get started!

#1 Judy Garland in the The Clock (1945)

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What I love about this dress is the lace detailing around the neck and the waist.  It is such a classic example of elegant 1940’s fashion and comfort.  I wish I knew what color the dress was in real life….but in my head, I picture a sky blue!

#2 Felicity Jones in The Invisible Woman (2013)

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This has to be one of the best examples of an 1850’s gown that I have seen in a film.  The pattern of the fabric, layered skirt, and wide pagoda sleeves make it truly stunning!  There are many fabulous gowns in this film to love, but this is my favorite!

#3 Lucille Ball in Follow the Fleet (1936)

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It isn’t often that Ginger Rogers is upstaged by a supporting actress, but I love the plaid gown that Lucille is wearing!  Classic 1930’s construction with the deep V-neckline, puffy short sleeves, and bias cut dress.  Love it!

#4 Winona Ryder in Little Women (1994)

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One of my favorite versions of the book, I choose this gown for its simplistic and gathered details.  Light, airy, and perfect for a warm summer day, this gown is made only sweeter by the light blue sash at the waist.

#5 Joan Fontaine in Rebecca (1940)

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This is exactly the sort of outfit that I can picture myself in!  I love everything about it!  It may not be as flashy as other gowns worn by Ms. Fontaine worn in the film, but it speaks of elegance and femininity.

Okay, so I know I said this was my top five favorite…..but I can’t let this next one not be included….so I will make it #5 1/2! 🙂

#5 1/2 Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette (2006)

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This gown, and this gown alone, is what started my love of 1780’s fashion.  I adore it!  It is also the gown that showed me how woefully unskilled I am as a seamstress for I know I could never get my seams as crisp….maybe someday! 🙂

What are your favorite movie costumes?  I would love to hear from you!

Have a wonderful day!

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A Salute to the Handbag: A Woman’s Best Friend

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What age were you when you started carrying a purse?  Was it a gift?  A well-thought out purchase or a hand me down from a cherished family member?  Whenever and however you began carrying a handbag, you joined the ranks of millions of women who came before.  While the history of the purse extends to the earliest of civilizations, I want to focus on it’s look and evolution during the first half of the 20th century.  So whether you call it a handbag or a purse, let’s take a little trip down handbag lane!

Following the advancements in the area of transportation (an overview is available in the post  The Golden Age of Travel) luggage companies began crafting smaller suitcases, called handbags, for the traveling woman.  These newly designed mini suitcases began to offer new, and more structured options in which to carry one’s things.  Before this alteration in luggage, women mostly used smaller, more dainty purses called reticules.  While never completely disappearing from the fashion scene, reticules saw reduced use as the turn of the century advanced.

 

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An example of a reticule as seen in a Ladies’ Fashion Book.

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A lovely cornflower blue silk reticule. 1880’s

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An example of smaller luggage available to replace the unwieldy steamer trunks.

With the modern era advancing at the turn of the 20th century, the handbag began altering to the new needs of women.  Becoming less a piece of luggage and more of a daily accessory, women began carrying purses on a daily basis and to a variety of locations and occasions.  At first, many of these new styles were only meant to carry a few items as it was viewed more ladylike to carry as little as possible.  Yet, like many things in fashion, need over weighed the fashion rules, and handbags began to grow in size as women reached further and further into the business world.

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A smaller handbag carried by a young woman on a mission in the early 1900’s.

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A group of friends in their adorable dresses and equally adorable handbags in the mid 1910’s

Pockets, zippers, and smaller makeup bags became the hallmark of the modern handbag, as advancements in technology and cosmetics meant women were carrying and purchasing more.  But styles changed for other reasons as the end of WWI brought with it new opportunities for women, one of the most important being the reduced use of the corset.  With women’s fashion becoming freer and loser, so did the accessories they carried. Purses such as the “pochette” or clutch, became synonymous with the youthful loving and freedom chasing women of the 1920’s.

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An example of a smaller, more vividly decorated purse from the 1920’s.

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Elegant and refined describe this woman from the 1920’s.

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A type of small clutch in organza to match the day dress.  1920’s.

By the 1930’s, the four shapes we most associate with handbags emerged and were solidified: the handbag (simple shape with clasp and handles), the clutch, the shoulder bag, and the satchel.  While materials and colors changed over time, the basic shape and outline have maintained some form of consistency.  But much like the 1920’s purses, handbags of the 1930’s featured bold patterns and colors as the art deco look was still firmly in place.  It wasn’t until the start of WWII, where simplicity, rationing, and efficiency became the ideal mark of a properly designed handbag.

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A 1930’s enameled handbag.

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A stunning over the shoulder handbag. 1930’s

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I love the handbag carried by the woman in the middle with it’s gold clasp and handle. 1930’s

In addition to the restrictions war placed on clothing, women of the early 1940’s began shifting  towards the shoulder bag for its ease of wear, larger size, and minimalistic look.  Taking it’s inspiration from the military, these over-the-shoulder designs fit in with the new modern women eager to do their part.  As war’s end gave way to a rebirth of consumerism and Christian Dior’s New Look, handbags underwent the same evolution of style, fabric, and design, overruling practicality and usefulness.  The trend continued on into the 50’s with eventual acceptance of all shapes and sizes.

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Women in WWII with their matching shoulder bags.

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A 1950’s woman with matching bag, gloves, and hat!

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A variety of options were available for the average woman in whatever style and shape that suited her!

Some women viewed handbags like shoes…a different pair for everyday, and therefore with an affordable price tag to match.  I, on the other hand, view the handbag as worthy of an investment.  Find and purchase the highest quality you can afford in a style that is neutral enough to go with the majority of your outfits, and revel in the sophistication it can offer.

 Though shapes, styles, and fabric may change, the friendship a good purse offers is undeniable and priceless!

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Sources:

Fashion Is in the Bag:A History of Handbags. http://www.randomhistory.com

Foster, Vanda. 1982. Bags and Purses. London, UK: B.T. Batsford, LTD.

Steele, Valerie and Laird Borrelli. 1999. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

Wilcox, Clair. 1999. Bags. London, UK: V&A Publications.

 


A Vintage Valentine’s Day Party

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I love planning themed parties!  And whether its just for a few family members or a large group, vintage party ideas are always a hit!  So when it comes to Valentine’s Day, a holiday normally for two, why not shake things up and have a party for many!

Below are a few excerpts from a 1959 Better Homes and Garden’s Holiday Cook Book on hosting the perfect Valentine’s Day Dessert Party!

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Once you have planned the menu and decorated the table, why not send out some cute invitations using these FREE downloadable imaged from THIS WEBSITE.

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Happy Planning! 

 

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