Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Red and Blue and Short Wren Dress

 After completion of the Joy Jacket pattern test last year, Gabriella, owner of Chalk and Notch Patterns, gave all the testers their choice of one free pattern from the Chalk and Notch collection. After some consideration, I pick the Wren Dress and Blouse. The dress is very different from my usual silhouette, but the balloon sleeves and all the fabulous examples I’d seen on Instagram drew me in. Shortly after Christmas I printed the pattern out, taped it together, and began my own version. 

As this was not a pre-planned project, I was limited to what little fabric I had at the apartment, as most of my stash still resides in my parents basement. (Now that I am the proud owner of my own basement - ok technically I do have to share it with my husband - my fabric stash will soon be relocated and I will have constant access to it once more!!) Looking through my options, I picked a red and blue cotton print, obtained from a Goodwill outlet, where you buy stuff by the pound, several months earlier.

The fabric was definitely a bit stiffer than is recommended for the Wren Dress, but for a first draft of the pattern, I figured it would work.

I made the pattern as directed, no fit alterations or anything, with only one minor change. I added large patch pockets to the skirt. One must have pockets!

Upon completion, I went back and forth trying to decide if I liked the dress or not.

I liked the idea of the dress, but it certainly wasn’t love at first sight.

I tried making it match my preferred silhouette by adding a belt, and that was ok, but not quite right.

The shoulders were a touch too narrow and the sleeves a touch too short, which really didn’t help matters.

And the skirt is considerably shorter than I generally wear.

I considered adding a ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, removing the sleeves, and adding elastic at the waist. 

But then I didn’t.

Instead, I removed the belt.

Put on some leggings.

Unbuttoned the cuffs and rolled up the sleeves.

I just let the dress be what it was, instead of what I thought it ought to be.

And I decided I liked it! It’s not my everyday silhouette, but it’s a lot of fun! Without a tight waistline, it was just the thing to wear for the extended family Thanksgiving last Thursday. Plenty of room to eat all the yummy food people brought!

And, I’m certainly planning to make another version of the Wren pattern - only this time I will use a fabric with more drape, along with widening the shoulders and lengthening the sleeves to make it fit better.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Thanksgiving Paisley dress

 Happy belated Thanksgiving and wishing you a joyful Advent! Long time no talk, things have been rather busy around here the past little bit!

We bought a house! And moved! It only took nearly a year of searching for just the right place - close enough to the city for jobs, far enough out for peace and quiet, and a little bit of land so I can keep my goats. Finally, we found it, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! 

We’ve spent all our weekends the past couple months working on house stuff. And last week we got to host a few family members for a day after Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner. (There was a nice extended family Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day itself as well, but not everyone was able to make it to that, thus Thanksgiving Part II)

Our first holiday in our own home! This gave me a chance to wear the Thanksgiving dress I made myself last year (and never got around to posting because I am frightfully behind on blogging my makes.)

This dress began, uhhh, 4+ years ago? (Blogging is not the only thing I’m “behind” on, as my fabric stash will show.) A length of vintage cotton paisley showed up in a fabric de-stash group on Facebook and I snatched it up! I have a soft spot for paisley prints.

Upon receiving the fabric, I decided it would be perfect for a 1950’s style fall dress, and picked out a pattern from my vintage pattern collection - Butterick 7152. An original 50’s pattern I picked up at an antique mall. It was a juniors pattern - a touch too small for me, but not too hard to size up. 

I ear-marked this pattern and fabric to make myself a Thanksgiving dress. Which, I didn’t get done in time for that Thanksgiving. Or the following one. Or the following one. 

I’m not entirely sure how long that trend continued, I lost track eventually, but last fall I decided I was going, absolutely going, to make this dress before Thanksgiving. And it actually happened!

As much as I love the paisley print, it’s definitely on the busy side, so I decided to break it up with a contrasting collar, cuffs, piping, and belt. For these details, I picked the scraps of orange/green shot linen, left over from this dress, which I refashioned into this skirt.

The belt is actually made from the material I trimmed off the bottom of the skirt when I leveled the hem. It’s not at all an even width - and I’m calling that a design choice.

I picked large green buttons to go down the bodice front. The pattern called for the buttonholes to be on the diagonal- a fun detail I’ve added to other projects since.

As the front buttons only go down to the waist, the pattern called for a side seam zipper as well. However, I really don’t like center front zippers, so instead I put an invisible zipper in the center front skirt seam. It starts where the buttons end - and the zipper pull is hidden by the belt. I used one of my prized vintage metal invisible zippers for this - as I have rather negative opinions on modern plastic invisible zippers.

As a finishing touch, I hand-sewed the 3” wide hem. I don’t generally take the time to hand sew hems on cotton dresses since machine sewn hems look decent enough - but this dress had waited so long to be made, it deserved a special hem.

And that is my Thanksgiving Dress!

I love it! I’m super glad I finally took the time to make it.

It’s now been worn for 2 Thanksgivings, and I intend to wear it for more - as well as other fall and winter occasions of course! 

So that is what I wore for Friday’s Thanksgiving dinner, now what did I wear for Thanksgiving on Thursday? 

I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow!

Happy Advent!

Saturday, October 8, 2022

The Apple Picking Corduroy Jumper

 Apple picking sounds fun. 

This thought went through my head a few weeks ago. I texted my friends, "I want to go apple picking"

"My cousin just said the same thing" my friend texted back, "She knows a place. Do we want to make an outing of it?"


Apple picking was scheduled for the next weekend I would be in town visiting my family.

For the occasion (with the ulterior motive of getting my friend to take pictures for me), I wore a corduroy jumper I made back in the spring. This jumper didn't get much wear upon completion as it quickly became too warm to wear corduroy, so I was excited to pull the dress out and give it some attention!

I found 2 yards of dusty pink pinwale corduroy in the pre-cut bin at Walmart and snatched it up. Then I spent a couple weeks brainstorming what to make out of it. 2 yards really isn't a bunch of fabric to work with, but I was sure I could figure out something to do with it.

Around the same time I picked up Simplicity 9449 on sale, and just wanting to make something out of the fabric before it went to languish in my stash I decided to use that bodice pattern with a plain, rectangular, pleated skirt to make a jumper/pinafore.

I squeezed the bodice onto as little fabric as possible, cut the remaining yardage in half to make two skirt panels, cut the bodice facings out of scrap cotton, and cut two patch pockets out of the scraps of corduroy leftover from the bodice. From cutting out to hemming, the dress only took a few hours to make. It was done in a day!

The big patch pockets made it the perfect apple picking dress!

The orchard had several different types of apples and sold them by the 5 gallon bucket. 

My friends and I decided to pick a 5 gallon bucket of each variety we liked. So we stuck the bucket in the middle, all went out to different trees to pick apples and brought them back until the bucket was full.

My pockets transported lots of apples from the trees to the bucket!

Once we had all the apples of one variety we wanted, we loaded back up in the car.

And drove to the trees of the next variety we wanted, with our apple picking sticks hanging out the windows. 

You can fit a surprising amount of people, buckets, apples, and apple picking stick things in a small car!

And more apples we would pick!

I ate quite a few apples over the course of the afternoon. They're one of my very favorite fruits!

By the end of the afternoon we'd picked 6 buckets of apples to split between us.

And we had a ton of fun together!

It had been much too long since I'd just spent an afternoon with my friends!

We divided the apples amongst ourselves, and after everyone else took what they wanted, several buckets full went back to my parents house (because #apartmentliving, I don't have room for everything at home) to be used through the winter. 

I have plans to make apple pies, and apple cakes, and cooked apples, and maybe even apple sauce! Last week I made dried apples for the first time ever with the bag full of apples I brought home with me.

The plan was to mix these with my morning granola and yogurt, but they were so good I ate them all up before that could happen. Apparently next time I visit my parents I need to bring home lots more apples to make more! They're so easy! And yummy!

Apple picking really was splendid! 

I think we need to make at a yearly tradition!