Sunday, November 28, 2010

Who wants a mostly-finished housefrock?


Douglas and I are doing a Great Purge of our belongings. Our apartment is fairly small and we don't have much storage space, and things were getting too cluttered for me to keep clean (thus causing great anguish of the soul to Douglas, who is a neater freak than me). So, while going through one of our storage tubs I came across this unfinished dress. It was a little tight even before I started nursing and there's no way it will fit me now. However, it is mostly finished and I hate to throw it away! So that means if any of you dear readers are interested, I will send it to you for the cost of shipping via PayPal (the cost will depend on where you live, but I will keep it as cheap as I possibly can). First person to e-mail me at kcimedl (at) hotmail (dot) com (subject line: housefrock) gets dibs! Let me know your zip code or country so I can get back to you with the shipping costs ASAP.


Here are the specs:

Fabric/Pattern: Light blue cotton with a small floral jacquard weave. The cuffs and collar are off-white cotton and the cuffs are trimmed with vintage lace. The pattern is Easy Stitch 'n' Save M5024 by McCall's, which appears to be out of print but is basically the exact same as McCalls 4769. I will include the pattern and instructions.

Size: I think I cut this out in a pattern size 12 (bust 34, waist 26.5, hip 36). Measurements while lying flat are bust 37 inches, waist 29.5 inches, and hips 44 inches. The length from the back of the neck to the unfinished hem is approximately 45 inches.

Left to do: The dress has been assembled most of the way. The collar still needs to be attached, the facing needs to be sewn on, buttonholes need to be made, the skirt needs to be hemmed, etc. The collar and upper facings, both made of the same off-white cotton as the sleeve cuffs, are already cut and will be included. There do not seem to be any pieces for a lower facing (below the waistline) but I will include scraps of the blue fabric if you want to piece your own. There is not a belt. Buttons are not included.

Perfectionist's disclaimer: I started this dress soon after I learned to sew so it's not up to my current standards. :) The seams are unfinished. If I was going to finish this dress for myself I would rip out the sleeves and re-insert them; I am not sure whether the sleeve cap is supposed to be gathered or eased in but I didn't do a great job either way. It might not bother a less perfectionistic seamstress, though. ;) Up to you!

Please give this classy lady a second chance at life!

EDIT: Thanks for your interest... the dress has been shipped off to her new home! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Banbury Cross cardigan

A design for a vintage-style cardigan for my son has been swimming around in my brain for the past few weeks. At first I thought I might try to design a knitting pattern. Then I woke up from that fantasy and realized I am not a knitter and Edmund would likely be grown and married before I finished such a project. Playing on my strengths as a seamstress, I thought I might try to sew a cardigan, but I was not willing to pay big bucks to order a sweaterknit fabric (and frankly, all the ones I've ever seen for sale are kinda ugly anyway). I had an "a-ha!" moment when I found this old J. Crew turtleneck sweater of mine stashed away in a bag of things to give away. On closer inspection, I discovered it had some moth holes so it wasn't really fit to sell or donate to a thrift store. But it is a beautiful, slate blue color and the fiber is fine quality 100% merino wool. So here is the obligatory "before" shot:

the "before" shot

(This is not the actual sweater I repurposed, but the exact same style in a different colorway. I forgot to get a photo before I started cutting it up!)

And here is the "after":

Banbury Cross cardigan

This is basically a tot-sized grandpa cardigan... shawl collar, elbow patches, horn buttons (well, they're plastic but let's pretend). I love the way it turned out and it's roomy enough I think he'll be able to wear it even when he's in 2T clothes (he's about 18 mos. size right now). Sewing the sweater was basically like sewing any other knit. Tricky at times, but the stretch is forgiving.

Banbury Cross cardigan

Just so I could feel thrifty I went on the crewcuts website to see how much they're charging for their vintage-style sweaters for boys. Here's a similar one that's going for a hefty $72. I paid $1.61 for the buttons on Edmund's cardigan. Let the smugness ensue.

Banbury Cross cardigan

And now let me gush a little about my son. He'll be one year old a week from tomorrow and he's grown so BIG! He's been walking for about a month... the "drunken sailor" walk but walking nonetheless. His favorite activity is putting things in his mouth. Once he gets going gnawing/sucking/chewing on something his eyes glaze over and he goes to his happy baby place. I won't regale you with all the things I've found him sucking on that he shouldn't be.

He is so, so precious though, and full of energy and curiosity! I love being his mother. :)

Banbury Cross cardigan
[Edmund gallops off into the sunset!]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Most delicious spinach salad #2

  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • one ripe pear (Bartlett or Anjou are good varieties)
  • a handful of sweetened dried cranberries
  • a handful of unsalted cashew nuts
  • poppy seed dressing (Brianna's is our favorite brand)
Fill two salad bowls with spinach. Slice up a pear into bite-sized chunks and divide evenly between the two bowls. Top each with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and cashews. Top with poppy seed dressing.

Laura's Notes: I am unable to find unsalted cashews at the grocery store where I shop, so I just rinse the salted cashews in water before putting them on the salad. This makes a very pretty Christmas salad because of the red, green, and ivory colors of the salad. You could also substitute pomegranate seeds for the dried cranberries.

(I've previously shared two other favorite salad recipes, most delicious spinach salad and favorite summer salad).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My latest frock

The 1940s have never been my favorite decade for vintage fashion, but my husband likes me in '40s styles. So I took a look around at online pattern sites and found a cute one from Lanetz Living that was in my size, nursing friendly, and from the 1940s (or at least it was advertised as such -- now that I look at it closer, I think it may be early '50s, but it's close enough!).

1940s housedress

I was dismayed to find that one of the pattern pieces was torn and thus incomplete. Of course, it was one of the more complex pieces -- the front yoke. I redrew it based on the illustrations in the instructions, but I ended up taking in the shoulders and sleeves a little. I also took in the bodice by a good four inches as it was initially very blouse-y.


I made self-fabric ruffles for the yoke and pockets as suggested in one of the dress illustrations. The very large and practical pockets are lined in muslin.


The instructions on this pattern are pretty sparse and there is no pattern piece for the neckline facing. You're already supposed to know how to make a facing on your own. I guess 1940s seamstresses probably did.

I really pushed myself to finish all the details on this dress -- no skimping or getting lazy. I even learned how to make thread chains for belt loops, which turned out to be SUPER easy. I couldn't find good instructions on the Internet so I consulted my copy of Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, and all was made clear.

vintage apron

The buttons down the front give me a chance to tie on this little-worn vintage apron of mine. It may be hard to see in the photo, but there is a buttonhole just under the peak at the top of the apron, which you're supposed to attach onto a button on your frock. The sides are a little apt to flap down but I think a good ironing with starch might help.

I am very happy with this dress. It's super-comfy and the waist is not too tight to make household chores difficult. The cotton floral is kind of a "working muslin" as I had in mind a more autumnal color scheme, but I couldn't find any vintage-like fabric in dark, warm colors. Happily the blue floral cotton was on sale so the whole dress was pretty cheap.

And my husband's reaction? Well, he made a rather hilarious comment that I can't share here. ;) But I think he likes it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dear Golden Vintage

I just came across the most gorgeous Etsy shop, Dear Golden Vintage. Such a lovely selection and the cohesive presentation makes it a joy to browse through her offerings! It gets me inspired for future sewing projects. I am soooo tempted by this 1950s dress which is even in my current size, but the $138 price tag and the lack of nursing-friendliness (ha) are keeping me sane. I am also drooling over the fabric on this 1930s cotton voile dress. Some other favorites: 1920s lace dress, 1960s celadon plaid suit, and 1940s chocolate peep-toe heels. Of course I'd taken anything from the shop, especially if it was given to me. ;)

What are your favorite pieces from Dear Golden Vintage? Are there any other shops you like to browse for sewing/fashion inspiration?