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Saturday, August 30, 2014

· A 1930s Summer Dress ·

This could also be titled, "My Most Successful Re-Fashion EVER". :-)

This 1930s dress started out life as a Regency dress.  I don't really know why I decided to buy this fabric, because I never really liked it.  And the only colors are shades of grey! (not a favorite color...)  The dress was pretty much doomed from the beginning and was singularly unattractive and extraordinarily unflattering.  I wish I had pictures of it to give you a striking "before and after", but really- it was so horrible that I don't think I'd ever actually post the picture.

At any rate, it was transferred from box to box over the years, waiting for a re-fashion since there was a decent amount of usable fabric.  Again, I'm not sure why I was so obsessed with the idea of re-using fabric I never liked, but I think I just desired a challenge. ;-)

I got this Vintage Pattern Lending Library pattern as a gift, and after carefully laying out the pieces, I discovered that I could just *barely* fit it! :-)

As far as I can remember (I made this last summer), the pattern went together smoothly.  I was so happy that I finally got a 30s dress that was as long as I always want!  I seem to end up making them a bit on the short side, and I was really hoping for a long 30s look for this one. :-)

Grey isn't my color, so I made the neck ties lined with cream so that I'd have a more flattering color by my face. :-)  It was quite obvious that I'd need an accent color to "make" the dress, and red seemed like the ideal choice. ;-)  I had these bright red buttons and ribbon in the stash, and they always seemed outdated (in a 1990s sort of way) and frankly, ugly.  However, they really go well with the dress, and I love it!!  I'm so glad I ended up keeping them. :-)  I also happened to have a belt buckle the right color- it was meant to be!

This hat was a re-fashion last year, and turned out just as I hoped!  Hurrah!

For some reason, I decided to use this as an opportunity to practice my hand-sewn buttonholes.  On the bias.  In a thin cotton.  It ended up just being an opportunity to practice being frustrated with my buttonholes (something I excel at without any practice!).  My consolation is that the fabric hides them very well. ;-)

And then, it turns out that the dress goes on easily without unbuttoning anyway, so I didn't need them.  Oh well. ;-)

These puffy sleeves are so cute!  The only trick is getting the band *just* tight enough to hold them up without cutting off circulation. ;-)

The bodice has lots of unique, quintessentially 30s styling to it!  The ties at the neck are cut in one piece with the bodice and the dramatic zig-zagged closure is fun!  The rest of the seaming (where the bodice extends into the skirt at the front) ended up not being visible on my dress, but I'm looking forward to highlighting that on another version!

This pattern is SO COOL, and I can't wait to make another one. :-)

Aaaaannnnd, did you notice the suitcase in the first few shots??  I have lots of suitcases, but never had the "fabric-like" kind.  They are quite pricey in our area, so I've been admiring from afar for quite a while.  When I happened upon a stack of three at our local festival for less than the usual price of one, I knew it was meant to be. :-D

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Saturday, August 23, 2014

· Kathryn's Khaki Dress ·

It's a shorter post this week as I'm currently in California visiting some friends! :-)

The second dress I made for Kathryn this year was this cute 1945 dress!  When Kathryn first told me she wanted to use Butterick 5209, I was a bit unimpressed.  But, it being her dress and all, I went along with the plan.  Wow.  This dress is SO cute!  All the aspects that I hated in the pattern illustration (I tend to dislike many quintessential 40s ideals) are not an issue in real life!  And let me tell you- this pattern is so ingenious!  It's really cool!

The dress can be made either as a halter dress or with the attached piece to make it into a kimono-sleeved dress.  The piece extends from the front shoulder all the way around the back and to the waist.  So. cool.

Well, and a bit confusing to construct.  But really- who likes a project with no challenge?! ;-)

All in all, this pattern is now on my list of favorites and "must makes"!

The dress has a flared, gathered skirt, closes with a side zipper, and is made from a medium-weight rayon twill.  I love how well the red accessories pop with this dress! :-)

Oh, and just a note to anyone who is now inspired to go off and make their own version- the center front neckline was raised about 2". :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

· 1950s Sari Dress ·

I found this lightweight jaquard-weave cotton at JoAnns on the clearance rack for $2/yd almost 10 years ago.  With the pretty gold metallic border and the fact that it was a natural-fiber fabric, I thought it would make the ideal Regency gown!  I picked out my dream design and mulled over the idea for a couple years before I reconciled myself to the fact that the fabric was far too narrow to use for the length of an empire-waisted skirt. :-(

After that realization, I was at a loss for how to use this fabric!  I eventually came across some 1950s dresses using saris and realized that vintage would be a great use of the fabric, too!
(Of course. Because vintage is always the answer. ;-))

It ended up being difficult to find a bodice design that would feature the border print without being sleeveless and without using much of the border, since I hadn't quite purchased enough for a 1950s dress!  I finally came to the decision to use Vogue 1044.  It required several alterations, since the original yoke line is curved and the border necessitates a straight line.

Both times I've used this pattern, I find that small darts coming down from the yoke are super helpful to get a better fit.  I keep hoping I don't need that extra, fiddly detail, but it just makes such a difference!

The comfortable style and the combination of dressy yet breathable and washable fabric has cemented this dress as the Ultimate Summer Semi-Formal.  It's served me well through countless weddings, dances, and is in constant rotation for church.  And has been for 6 years.

It's now to the point where a striking number of the facebook pictures I'm tagged in are of me in this dress.  I really do wear other dresses!  Sometimes.

OK, I think it might be time to stop wearing it quite so devotedly....

This dress is always referred to as "The Sari Dress" around here but it could quite aptly be named "Old Faithful" at this point, and I truly am happy it's served me so well and for so long!  I was afraid that it wouldn't wear well since the fabric is rather loosely-woven, but it's been a dream. :-)

And this was the perfect time to showcase one of my latest purchases- this charming beaded clutch!

I was in desperate need of something to fill the void in the "dressy purse" section of my wardrobe, and this fit the bill perfectly. :-)  All the beads were intact, there was only the slightest staining inside, and this "could-only-be-vintage" rhinestone-accented clasp.  All for just $4. :-)

Yep.  I think that was four dollars rather well spent. ;-)

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Monday, August 11, 2014

· A Momentous Month! ·

Well, it is finally that time of year- my blog's first birthday!

I can't believe it's been almost an entire year since I did the (then) scariest thing in my life- hitting that "Publish Blog" button for the first time.  I might be exaggerating, then again- maybe not. ;-)

In some ways, it's amusing to think of me being so terrified by an inconspicuous little orange button- especially given my quick and warm welcome. :-)  But in other ways, it's still hard to realize that I do have a blog and that real people out in the world actually read it!  At times I almost feel like I forget that I have it.

I'm eager to see where God leads me through the blog in this next year- I never expected the numbers I've witnessed over the past 12 months, so I never anticipated being this pleased about both my own faithfulness, or your unabated interest. ;-)  In all honesty, I kind of planned on giving it a "go" for a while, and then abandoning it after a year of only 4 people reading.  So- Hooray!  I still have a blog to celebrate! ;-)

To all of my commenters, whether faithful or sporadic, every time I get a new comment I still get a thrill of excitement!!  Well, actually, that isn't true.  I've had an increase in spam lately that has been a deterrent to undiscriminating thrills.  So every time I get a non-spam comment, I'm thrilled. ;-D  I know it takes effort to write them, which makes them all the more meaningful. :-)  Thank you!

August has always been one of my favorite months since in our family, birthdays (including my own) abound in the first 2 weeks. :-)  The blog launch last year didn't intentionally coincide with all the festivities, but I think it's appropriate.  The more the merrier! ;-)

Once again, Thank You!! to all of my readers- even the silent ones. ;-)  Here's to the second year of Mode de Lis!

As a celebration of all that Momentous August has to celebrate, I'm offering a coupon code, BirthdaySale, for 20% off (everything except custom orders) in the shop for the next few days (through Friday, August 15th)!!

Happy shopping!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Year of the Polka Dots · Navy

This spring we came across an online sale, and two polka dot fabrics just begged to be purchased. ;-)  I was a bit wary about having 2 fabrics so similar at the same time, and thus agonizing ensued in which I attempted to make two 1950s polka dotted dresses that were different in every aspect.  Neckline, skirt fullness, closure, sleeves, trim- I was even concerned about making the darts different on each dress.

Once I woke up and realized how much of an obsessive freak I was being, I just made the dresses how I felt like doing them. ;-)  They ended up being rather different in many of the ways I was initially aiming for (including darts! does that mean I'm still obsessive??) AND I actually made both the dresses in the appointed season AND I love both of them- so the whole experience was a rousing success!

The first dress was this navy polka dot.  I was aiming for a more late 40s/early 50s aesthetic- I'm not sure I totally succeeded (different accessories might help more), but I'm still pleased with the result.

I decided on a boat neck that would work well with most of my necklaces, and an edging of ric rac seemed like the natural choice. ;-)

I made the skirt less full than my typical 1950s styles, and added pleats to the center back.  I didn't think about the sash covering up that aspect in the pictures... oh well!

Slash pockets are highlighted with a self-fabric facing and ric rac.

I'm not normally a "blue" person, but a navy dress seemed like a great neutral for all the uniquely-colored bead necklaces I've been collecting!  I really shouldn't be surprised, but it has been so hard for me to think outside of the box when it comes to accessorizing this dress!  Most of my clothes have their own designated hat, necklace, belt, and maybe bracelets that match, so there isn't any thinking involved in the dressing process and there's rarely accessory overlap between outfits.

These yellow accessories kind of felt like cheating anyway, since they are stolen from my lemon dress!  Someday I'd like to become comfortable with accessorizing more. ;-)

OK, unrelated to the dress.... but I just love it when I have good hair days. :-)  And I really love it when those coincide with our photoshoots!

Oh, and since I mentioned them, the darts on this dress are horizontal, coming from the side seam. ;-)  I really wanted to do that on another dress after liking my silk dress last summer, so this was the opportunity!

I tried using several different patterns for this bodice but nothing was cooperating, so I just made my own.  The skirt was made using Butterick 5920 (same as the BBQ dress), except turned around so the fullness was in the back and pleating the excess at the center back instead of gathering.

OK, and another reason I chose navy fabric.... was so that I'd have a dress to go with my darling navy gingham sandals. ;-)

· As always, photography by Kathryn! ·

Saturday, August 2, 2014

· Kathryn's 1940s Print Dress ·

Long-time readers will remember my deal with Kathryn- she takes my pictures, does my web design, pushes me to the next level, is my biggest cheerleader, and encourages me to dream big.

In return, I make her some dresses. ;-)

So without further ado, here is a dress I made for her last fall!

The bodice of this dress is Simplicity 1587 and the skirt is from a original 1940s pattern.  I just love the neckline detailing on this dress!

The back keyhole opening closes with a button, while the dress also features a side zipper.

This drapey rayon flows beautifully and according to Kathryn- is great fun to dance in. :-)

Ruching detail on the sleeve.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big 1940s fan, but this pattern has definitely tempted me!  I will be making this next season! (never mind the fact that I've said that for the last 3 seasons.... I really mean it this time! ;-P)

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