Friday, May 23, 2014

The Little Black Maternity Dress

Is there such a thing as a little black dress when you're pregnant? Yes and no. This is my version of a little black dress which gives me something a little nice to wear for more formal events even when I feel huge. The good news is this dress kind of camouflages a big baby belly better than a lot of things, but the bad news is that you pretty much have no waist while pregnant and no dress can fix that. I just feel a little fancy in this and it's fun to pair it with a pair of cute (lower of course) heels. Sometimes just feeling pretty is priceless when you're pregnant. 

This pattern is from the 1960s and is McCall's 9747, but I think looks surprisingly modern, especially made up in this really groovy black polyestery knit. It was very simple to sew up, but was way too big on me even though my bust size is larger than what's listed on the pattern envelope. So, after taking it in what seemed like many inches, it now has a little more shape to it and I love it. I'd say it's safe to assume that many 1960s maternity dresses can become a giant tent regardless of the picture on the envelope showing a svelte woman in a loose, but not potato sack dress. Maybe it's just me and my body, but potato sack has never been a look I covet. 

It has a cute squared neckline, but it's the sleeves I think are really brilliant and make this dress super flattering. You see, when I'm pregnant, and even for a while afterwards, my arms swell. Yes, this makes me a little self-conscious about the whole thing, so a sleeveless sleeve is awesome in my opinion. I've found that most vintage "sleeveless" tops or dresses are much more flattering to my upper arms than any modern sleeveless garments have ever been. You'd think the constant lifting of kids would make me have the most defined upper arms ever, but alas, somehow it just doesn't work that way. *sigh*

 Being a mom of very young children doesn't afford my husband and I often with the opportunity to get out, let alone to get all dolled up for one another. So, any opportunity to put on something a little extra special can go a long, long, way, even if we take the kids with us. I won't say exactly where we went this night, but we all got dressed a little fancier than usual and it was a lot of fun to look a little special for my man.

I also wore a fun 1950s hat. It's a very tight and finely woven straw with a unique texture that kind of mimics linen and has a black velvet ribbon and bow at the back. Upon seeing the shape of the front of this hat, my three year old son said, "You look like a clam, Mommy!". Gotta love the honest opinions of kids, lol.

I must confess that I didn't wear the hat all evening, but only because the event we were attending was not about us and I didn't want to distract from the actual focus. I live in a rural area and knowing I would be the only person wearing a hat inside, I thought it best and most polite to remove it upon entering. I don't understand, and I assume most people today don't, the ins and outs of hat etiquette for women, but feel I would rather err on the side of caution rather than offend someone, especially those who invited us. 

Mini me and me. She usually wears glasses even, but her
18 month old brother had broken them when this picture was taken. 
I was also joined in this post by an infrequent photobomber, as my oldest joined me wearing a purple dress with ruffled layers made from a vintage 1980s pattern. She is wearing a blue t-shirt under it, but that's because she said she was afraid she would be uncomfortable without it underneath. She's my little mini-me in so many ways, and I love her that way. 

Outfit Details:
Dress-Made by me (McCall's 9747 purchased at local charity shop, The Shepherd's Center for 10 cents!)
Earrings-Vintage confetti from Etsy
Bracelets-vintage bakelite from various sources.
Brooch-Vintage purchased from the Homestead Shop (a local antique mall)
Shoes-Strappy gold shoes with chunky wooden heels and platform sole, had forever, can't remotely remember where I bought them. (Sorry, not pictured!)

I suppose that if you just read my blog you might get the impression that I "dress up" every day, and while I do wear something vintagey in style at least almost every day, I don't wear dresses like this every day. I also don't always have my hair fixed this nicely or wear full makeup. I did, however, years ago (seriously may have been before I was even wearing makeup, lol) hear Cindy Crawford say in an interview that your daily makeup should only take about five minutes to apply, and if it's taking you longer than that, you are wearing too much. I pretty much follow that rule and most days don't even take that long, especially if I'm not planning on going anywhere that day. But things like a tinted moisturizer, a little lipstick, and having an easy way to set your hair so it looks styled for a few days can be a real lifesaver for any busy lady.

I used to think our grandmothers must have spent forever getting ready everyday in order to look so put together, but soon realized after learning a few techniques that doing it daily took surprisingly little time each day to look like you didn't just roll out of bed. I think that's one of the things I love most about vintage since I became a mom and have little time for anything, let alone for fixing myself up.

Have you learned anything about dressing vintage that makes your life easier? Do you think it takes a lot of time to dress vintage on a daily basis?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My New-Old Glasses!!!

We interrupt our regular installment of Workbasket Wednesday for this more important post. Workbasket Wednesday will be back next week at the regularly scheduled time. That is all. 

I got vintage new old-stock cat's eye glasses! Woo Hoo!

Okay, so I know that this may be a slightly vain and glasses geeky post, so please forgive me ahead of time. I've just not been so excited about new glasses in a very long time, if ever.

It all started with our insurance company. Up until this year our insurance hadn't paid anything for new glasses, so I hadn't gotten new ones for about four or five years, even though my prescription had changed a little (I know, I know, but seriously it didn't change that noticeably). This year, for the first time, they would pay half for new lenses. Yippee!

I love how it changes everything about my face.
Well, I had thought I would just select a pair from the regular stock at my optometrists, but I just kept seeing all these cute vintage frames all over other vintage bloggers and pinterest. So, I went to the two places you go to to find unusual vintage stuff: ebay and Etsy.

I searched a surprisingly short time when I found these brand new old-stock (meaning they were never even worn) frames for $29.95 on ebay! I knew almost instantly that these would be the perfect pair of frames for me, and could not wait to get them fitted with my lenses.

I do have some tips for finding your own vintage frames on ebay or Etsy.

1. Be sure that you know the measurement of some frames that fit you and/or of your face. Sounds weird, but if you buy a pair and they don't fit, it would be horrible. Any legitimate seller on ebay or Etsy should be able to provide the measurements or already have them included in the item description.

2. Look at all the pictures, read the descriptions, and ask any questions you might have of the seller. This is sound advice for any purchase from ebay and Etsy. With vintage frames you'll need to look at things like condition of nose pieces, hinges, and any wear that might make the difference between you purchasing them or not. I chose to go with a pair of new old-stock frames specifically for this reason. I knew I would want to be wearing the frames for as long as they would last and on a daily basis, so I decided to go with what had the best chance for lasting a while.

3. Know that buying prescription lenses isn't necessarily cheap and whether or not your insurance will pay for new lenses when the frames were purchased elsewhere and without any insurance. To get an estimate of cost I called my optometrist before I got the frames and also checked out what or if insurance would cover any of the costs. I don't like surprises in cost.

4. Be prepared to wait. It takes longer to get vintage frames fitted with new lenses, even at the one-hour places. The frames usually have to be shipped off somewhere else because the lenses will have to be custom cut to fit the frames. Vintage frames are shaped differently than modern, so they won't keep any lenses in stock that could fit the frames.

5. You will have to sign away any liability for your vintage frames. Because vintage frames are pretty much irreplaceable and they have to have lenses especially cut down to fit them, you will have to sign a waiver saying they aren't responsible if they break your frames while trying to fit the lenses for them. I wasn't too worried because I knew my frames were pretty solid and in good shape. I did wonder though while they were gone whether or not they would be broken.

6. It's a big commitment. Now, if the vintage frames are not the only pair you will have, it won't be such a big deal, but if you plan on wearing your frames on a daily basis know that they will look very vintage, because they are. I mean that you won't have a totally modern look no matter what clothes you wear if you're wearing vintage frames. I knew I wanted a vintage look even for my more modern clothing, so again not a big deal to me, but definitely something to consider.

7. Choose a pair that closely matches frames that suit you already in basic shape and size. If you've worn glasses for any amount of time (I've had them since I was nine), you've probably tried on lots of different style frames. Even if you've never worn glasses before you can use a pair of sunglasses that flatter you for an idea. Think about the colors of the frames as well. Having an unflattering color on your face and so near your eyes could be a disaster. I chose frames that weren't too far from the shape, size, color and basic design of frames I've had in the past and currently wear. For example, I like the contrast of dark frames on my pale skin, so I looked for darker frames. I don't like nose pieces either, so I went for a pair of plastic frames that had no nose pieces. It's all about your personal preference, what flatters you, and what's most comfortable.

I hope this helps and if you're on the fence about vintage frames, I can't tell you how excited I am about mine, and encourage you to take the plunge for yourself. I absolutely love my new old frames!

Check out the awesome cut detail on the aluminum sides!
What do you think of vintage frames? Would you wear them with your daily style?

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Humble Housewife Maternity Dress

 I called this the Humble Housewife Dress not because I'm particularly humble (being a blogger, I think, automatically means I'm a little proud of myself), but I am a housewife and I thought this dress sewn from Simplicity 1766 is a great example of the everyday dress for the pregnant woman of the 1950s. I have a weird fascination with housedresses and the everyday clothing of women in the past. To me, the glamorous hollywood type fashions are pretty to look at and do set the trends to an extent, but it's the everyday clothes that really show who the regular people were and what their lives were like. They are also the vintage clothes I prefer to wear daily myself. They tend to be just so practical!
Simplicity 1766
 No it doesn't look like the  picture on me, but it's comfy and I love this dress just the same and wore it for my last two pregnancies. It features a same fabric tie belt and kimono sleeves and buttons part of the way down the front (Does that make it a shirtwaist?). This dress is also meant to be worn after pregnancy and I actually have worn it afterwards and can say it is flattering even on someone without a big 'ol baby belly. 

Pockets with adorable feaux button tabs? Yes, please! 

 It was a little chilly out that morning and we were making a trip to our local library, so this blue sweater I've had literally since high school was perfect to knock off a little of the chill.

Outfit Details:
Dress-made by me
Sweater-purchased who knows where about fifteen years ago
Brooch-Vintage orange celluloid pinwheel brooch from the 1940s(?) purchased on ebay or Etsy a long time ago
Earrings-Vintage silver, screwback, flowers purchased at the Homestead Shop antique mall several years ago
Shoes-I know I wore some, but cannot remember exactly which ones I wore. (My mocassins, maybe?)

I also have been experimenting with some vintage appropriate updos in anticipation of the hot summer to come. Keep in mind I'm not a hairdresser by any means and my updos always turn out a little messy.

I did a tiny ponytail ('cause that's all I got right now) and sectioned off a part of the front and just pinned a few pin curls in what, I thought at least, was a somewhat artful arrangement. I kind of like it, but will be playing around with it more I'm sure.

 And to round it out is a full picture of the dress along with a couple photobombers. My sweet little six year old mini me and if you look closely at the bottom left corner you'll see the valiant and forever in motion three year old boy. I don't usually share pictures of my kids for privacy reasons and just 'cause I feel a little weird sharing their pictures with the world. So, I would ask that if you pin any pictures from my blog to pinterest or share them any where else, please only use the ones without my kids. I know I'm paranoid, but that's not going to change, so there.

Being a housewife and mom is definitely different today, but the clothing of past women who were busy taking care of their homes and children are still super comfortable and easy to wear. After this baby is born, I think I'll be sewing up some more housedresses, and possibly another version of this dress beforehand. I've got patterns for housedresses from the 1930s to the 80s and can't wait to sample them all. It may take the rest of my life, lol.

So, what do you think of this easy to wear maternity/post-pregnancy dress? Do you wear or like vintage updos? Oh, and if you have any links to any easy to replicate vintage updos, please share with me, I'd love to see them and try them.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Mandarin Maternity Dress

McCall's 9385
I'm calling this the Mandarin dress because it features a mandarin shaped collar. This was the next project I did after completing my pastel pink Easter dress, and I was so ready for some bright colors. I tend to be more of a bright colors kind of person in everything, so this printed cotton from M'Liss called Kimono was the first thing I thought of in my stash when I decided on this 1950s maternity pattern. 

Again, though I wore it belted, it shows that you can wear it unbelted, too, but I can't stand the muu muu look no matter how big I get during pregnancy. It also is meant to be worn after pregnancy, but again, we'll see if that really happens. I am trying to only sew up things that I could potentially wear when not pregnant, as that seems more practical and this will be great for nursing. 

I didn't alter the pattern at all except in length, because I'm short. I also made the short sleeved version, and they reach my elbows, so I'm assuming 3/4 sleeves would actually be long-sleeved on me. However, I love me some cuffed sleeves whatever the length is. Oh, and pockets, who doesn't love a dress with pockets?

Look how vivid the colors are! And this picture doesn't do it justice even. 

Outfit Details:
Dress-Made by Me
Bracelets- Vintage lucite and bakelite bangles and clamp purchased from various ebay and Etsy sellers 
Earrings-Vintage carved bakelite purchased from either ebay or Etsy. I can't remember, sorry. 
Shoes-Red, peep toe, shiny flats from Catos years ago (sorry not pictured)
Belt-Skinny red leather purchased from Hannah Jane Boutique online
Tried to get a picture of the collar, please excuse the dazed expression on my face.
I think I'm concentrating on my camera aim, lol. 
This dress was ridiculously fast and easy to sew up. The longest part for me were the ten buttons, but I think it turned out well, and the black background makes it look like a little more than a simple housedress. I don't know if I'll sew it up again, but if I do, I think I want to go completely different with the fabric and color, just to make it seem more different from this version. I'm on the fence about it, though, because after all how many high-collared, longer sleeved dresses do I want to wear while pregnant in the summer in the southern United States, where the humidity makes everything wilt in a matter of seconds?

It never ceases to amaze me how comfortable vintage maternity styles are. I know the super flowiness can make your belly look bigger to our eyes, but probably only because we're used to skin tight t-shirts over the baby belly. If you're ever pregnant and looking for a cheaper, more unique, option for maternity clothing, I highly suggest getting some vintage patterns and sewing them up. They're often easier to sew than regular vintage styles and you have the added benefit of customizing them, not to mention that most vintage maternity patterns are super cheap compared to regular vintage patterns (I've purchased some for as little as 25 cents a piece and lots are available for under $5 on Etsy and ebay), but the best part is that many are designed to be worn after pregnancy, too.

What do you think, is this worth another make or is one dress like this enough for anyone? Would you consider sewing your maternity wardrobe?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Workbasket Wednesday: Half Knot Stitch Doily

Today's Workbasket Wednesday is for a Half Knot Stitch Crocheted Doily. 

It's odd isn't it, how doilies have fallen out of favor? There was a time where you couldn't have went into anyone's home and not have seen a doily or two. Both of my grandmothers had piles of beautifully crocheted doilies. My maternal grandmother still had her home decorated with them when she died and we found tons of them in storage at my paternal grandmother's house after her death. And anyone who has went into an antique or thrift store knows they are often plentiful and cheap there. 

They really are beautiful works of lacy art and you know when you see one that someone, somewhere, has worked extremely hard to make such a beautiful thing. I have a lot of them I have inherited and have been known to rescue some I've found at little antique shops. There has to be a way to preserve and use them for our modern lives, and I'm seeking to find a way to not let these beauties rot away and be lost, especially those hand made by my grandmothers. What would you suggest?

Oh, and enjoy the dress ad opposite!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Bluebonnet Pinafore Maternity Dress and Truly Final Sew for Victory Project

 Okay, so I thought Sew for Victory 2014 was over, too, but the deadline has been extended until Monday May 5th, 2014. I found this out on maybe Wednesday, so what could I do, but go ahead and sew up one more project before the Monday deadline?
Simplicity 4635
I chose to make another 1940s maternity pinafore. My previous one can be seen here. This pattern really is so easy to sew and so much fun to wear. I know it's a little like a little girl's dress in design, but that's what makes it so fun. Besides my husband and myself both like the way I looked in the other one so much that I couldn't resist sewing up another, especially considering it's the perfect summer dress for pregnancy without being too revealing and keeping you cool all at the same time. 

 This time I decided to use a printed vintage fabric, but I'm not sure of the content. However it is much more stable than the slippery fabric I used last time, so I went for the shaped neckline. The ruffles are much more pronounced on this one as well, due to the more crisp nature of this fabric.

25 Weeks Y'all!!!
I also made my own bias facings for the arms, as the pattern calls for bias tape to finish the edges. It's probably been about a year and a half since I started making my own bias tape, and it is SO easy that I don't know if I'll ever buy pre-made bias tape again, unless it's just so dirt cheap I cannot resist. I used to same fabric as the dress, and I may have to do a tutorial at some point to show how I made them. I will warn you, it's a way that uses scraps and it requires NO ironing. 

This design has pockets and is supposed to be able to be worn after pregnancy as well. Since I'm due at the end of August, you may have to wait until next summer to see if I'm actually brave enough to try wearing it as normal, non-huge-belly, clothing. 

Outfit Details: 
Dress-Made by me
Earrings-Vintage bakelite red button earrings purchased from Etsy or ebay (sorry, not pictured)
Bracelets-Vintage bakelite and lucite bangles and clamp bracelets purchased off ebay
Brooch-Vintage brooch (says 1947 on the car tag) purchased on ebay
Shoes-Red Bakers lace-up, cut out, oxford heels (sorry, not pictured).

I'm also liking my hair more at this length since it has grown out some. (I can do a little ponytail now!) So, though it will still be growing out for a while, it's not at that awkward length it was about a month ago, or maybe I'm just figuring out the pin curl sets that work with it now. Anyway, I tried to recreate a more authentic 1940s makeup look for this and have to say that only wearing mascara on the top lashes really opens up your eyes, and I think for me makes them look slightly younger. 

Well, this is for sure my last Sew for Victory entry of the year, and I've had such a good time sewing up some of my 1940s patterns from my collection that I don't want to stop, so there will be some more 40s sewing going on around here for a while, especially for the kids. It's amazing when you finish a big project and it's over, it almost feels like I don't want it to end because I was having so much fun and I feel a little lost without that goal ahead anymore. So I'm looking for another sew along. I like the idea of  the Vintage Playsuit Sew Along going on over at Girl With The Star-Spangled Heart, but am not sure how or if I would want to take part in that while I'm pregnant. Especially since I'm not planning a beach trip this summer and who knows if I'll ever be pregnant again. *Sigh*

You can check out my other Sew for Victory projects here, here, and here

Now to figure out what project I want to start next. Hmmmm.....

Do you know of any other Sew Alongs happening in the near future?

Friday, May 2, 2014

1940s Pinafore Maternity Dress

Ignore the color in this picture. It's completely inaccurate.
Oh, and the hem is even, I'm just pulling it up the way I'm holding my belly. 
Unbelievably flattering: that's how I would describe this 1940s maternity pinafore dress. I surprised myself how much I love it. I made the sleeveless version with a square neckline (mainly because the scalloped neckline seemed likely it would be hard with the fabric I used). 

Simplicity 4635
 This has to be one of my favorite pieces of maternity wear ever. I have always loved the look of the 1940s pinafore dresses, but this maternity version is brilliant. It's also meant to be worn post partum, but won't be conducive with breastfeeding, so it likely won't come out again for a long while.

I saw this rayon-like material in this amazing blue flower print and knew it would be perfect for a pinafore dress. I think it's fairly flattering on me, not to toot my own horn or anything, and I think it's awesome for maternity clothing.

I have only one regret with this entire outfit. The day started out sunny, so a gorgeous 1930s(?) navy sunhat was ready to make it's debut, only to be cast aside before ever going outside because thunderstorms showed up. I really wish there were more opportunities and occasions to wear such beautiful big hats, and am looking forward to any event that could be reason enough to wear it in the summer sunshine.

 I've spoken before about how much I love the practicality of 1940s sewing patterns. The fact that they use minimal fabric, as few or no buttons or zippers as imaginable, and seaming used to create shape. This dress is a perfect example. I was a little nervous initially about the ruffles at the top, but I think they look fine and are a great way to wear sleeveless without having to have perfectly toned arms. My upper arms actually swell during pregnancy and don't really go back down until after I quit nursing. Yes, I'm self-concious, and yes, I HATE the way my arms look right now, but knowing that I've got a summer of pregnancy ahead means sleeveless will have to be included in my wardrobe.

Pockets! Sewed right into the princess seams. 
One of my favorite features is the princess seams. What?!? Princess seams on a maternity dress? Yes, and it's brilliant. I know I gripe about this a bit, but seriously where are designers of modern maternity clothing? I think about twenty years ago they designed jeans with big elastic waistbands and said we'll give 'em a wrap dress, a maxi, and the rest of the time they can wear sweats and graphic tees with corny references to the fact that they have a baby in their belly. Thanks maternity designers. I feel so stylish and confident at one of the most physically awkward moments of my life. Thank God for vintage and sewing!

Outfit Details: 
Pinafore Maternity Dress-Made by me from 1940s Simplicity 4635
Bakelite Bangles-Various purchases and sellers on eBay and Etsy
Earrings-Vintage Golddigger clip on earrings from Etsy
Necklace-plastic buckeye necklace purchased years and years ago somewhere, sorry I don't remember where.
Hat-Vintage 1930s(?)sun hat purchased on eBay
Shoes-Camel-colored, woven, platform wedges (not pictured, sorry)

So basically, I really love this dress, but if I make another one I will use a printed cotton for it so it can be more of an everyday dress. I'm on the fence with whether to make another anyway, because well, this will be our fourth child and it could be my last and it's not at all nursing friendly. However, I have a lot of a cheap vintage looking cotton print and if I have time to sew it, I'm sure I would get a lot of wear of it for the next few months.

What do you think? Should I make up another version just to be worn for the next four months (I'm 24 weeks as I type)? Or, should I wear the heck out of this one regardless and attempt another pinafore dress that is non-maternity afterwards? Or should I do both?