Emerald Lady

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So after I had completely finished this dress, I realized that it is my third dress (in a row!) to be green… And, my past two dress posts each were titled after a “lady,” so I could not force myself to interrupt the pattern this time. Wearing this dress truly does make one feel a lady. It is very likely my most extravagant and most prized creation thus far.

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As some of you may know from my previous post, I made this dress by adapting a vintage evening gown pattern. Though the pattern sleeves were quite classy, I opted for a younger, sleeveless look. The fabric is from Cali Fabrics, a decently-priced shop with many kinds of materials in a great variety of colors. Funny story– I ordered 5 yards of emerald taffeta, 8 yards of emerald tulle, and 2 yards of cream chiffon…. I made the bodice and realized that chiffon was not working for the kind of bow I imagined. So, I had this crepe-y silk/taffeta (I’m really not sure what it is) sitting beside me, because I had made a muslin with it. As it turned out, I had just enough to make the sash, which ended up being the perfect thing!

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Recently, in an interview, I was asked if I have ever failed. While the obvious answer is “yes,” I groped for a noteworthy example. My many sewing endeavors provided me with just the right example. I explained how I have most likely failed many more times than I have succeeded when sewing. And yet, that is how I learn. Without the long list of failures, I would not be the pattern-drafter, fabric buyer, and stitcher that I am today. All this is an introduction to what was perhaps my biggest sewing fail ever… I had completely finished my lovely bodice when I noticed a narrow line of stitches down one of the back sides. I turned the fabric to see the inside. I had serged into my bodice. Ah, it made me sick. After meticulously seam-ripping the serged stitches and trying to patch the tiny holes cut into the fabric, I yielded to what I knew had to be done. The perfectly ironed facing– off. The scrupulously sewn darts– redo. That entire quarter of my bodice– throw away. I cut around the pattern once more, lined up the darts once more, and attached this new and perfect piece to the rest of my dress. But, I can tell you, I am so glad I did!! My beautiful handiwork is now blemish-free. And I learned the importance of careful serging.

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Upcoming Venture

My winter hibernation is over! The spring calls me. A slew of projects and dresses is soon to come, and today I wanted to give you all a sneak peek at a what I hope to be my best accomplishment yet— a vintage evening gown! I have just ordered the pattern and have not begun yet, but my head is full of color combinations and slight modifications. Isn’t the pattern the most adorable little dress you ever did see?!

Currently, I am leaning towards a dark green taffeta (or would a different material be better?) bodice, dark green taffeta skirt with a tulle overlay, and a white chiffon sash. Some other options that have crossed my mind are the following: gold and white, some kind of brocade, pink lace… Have any other ideas?

Refashioned: Drop-waist Lace

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Time is precious right now. There is hardly enough to go around! My many projects– recovering a chair, painting an old bike, figuring out new curtains, making bread weekly, blogging…ever– have all been tossed to the wind. No time. This lovely little refashion, however, was so quick and easy that I found enough time to make it happen. Like most of my refashions, this vintage dress started out at an estate sale with a 50 cent tag attached.

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Though it was pretty to start with, the waist was a bit too low for my taste; so I seam-ripped the skirt off and reattached it a bit higher. Then I added another panel of white lining under the second tier of lace to make it decent. So easy! Perhaps what I love most about this one is its versatility. Today at church, I wore the dress with a chambray tank over it, a leather belt, and cowboy boots. It would also be adorable with a cardigan and topped of with a cloche for an ultra Twenties look. Anyhow, I am looking forward to trying out options!

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Dress Shop Sale!

My dress shop, Margaret and Alice, is having a sweet 30% off sale! It is a significant cut on the price, and we have some great pieces that will look adorable in a layered, fall outfit. I am hoping to make a post in the near future with some different outfit options from these pieces. Each of the dresses would be so cute with a cardigan and leggings, or maybe with a chambray button-up and leather boots. The lace trim top would be perfect to layer with a bow-tie blouse and skinny jeans or perhaps over a simple, dark-colored dress with a belt. In case you can’t tell, y’all need to buy this stuff soon, so I won’t decide to just keep it all for myself! Anyway, to get the 30% discount, use the coupon code: MARGARET30. Also, I’ve got another dress made that I’m going to put in the shop very soon. So keep your eyes peeled!

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Lace and Wine

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That is- the color “wine.” Making this dress was my first experience with a vintage pattern. With double darts, a faux button-up front, and the fit-and-flare style, this pattern is one of my favorites, even among the ones I have drafted. I am amazed how well it fits! What could be better than a dress that fits perfectly? Fabric for $1 a yard, of course! And wine-colored rayon challis at that, which is the color I have been loving for this fall and winter (please don’t call it maroon… that takes away from the whole elegance of the look) and my favorite material of all time. To top it off, I used a lace collar from a garage sale, which I have been saving for the perfect project. This ought to be just the dress for casual occasions throughout fall and winter. A cardigan will layer nicely over it, or tights under it, and boots beneath it! Also, for anyone wondering, my new (vintage) sewing machine stitched up this dress like a dream.

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A Vintage Sewing Machine

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I just bought an a old Singer 301 sewing machine! For 70 bucks, I got the machine, the cabinet it was in, and various accessories and feet attachments. This entire summer, even with kicking off a business, I have been without my own sewing machine.  My Brother sewing machine decided to stop working after two years of hard sewing; so, I was forced to borrow my mother’s machine regularly over the past few months. But, yes, it has paid to be patient in the search for a new one. I was on the verge of paying another $125 for a Brother just like what I had before, when I stumbled across this perfect old-timer on Craigslist. Reading up on the Singer 301, I found that it runs on gears instead of a belt drive. This makes it a dependable machine that will last through years of rigorous stitching. Another thing that makes me smile when I look at this machine: no plastic. It’s all metal, making it a 16 pounder. It conveniently snaps out of the cabinet for easy portability. But, the cabinet makes for a great sewing table in my room (not to mention a cute addition of furniture). This darling machine works perfectly, sewing even stitches quietly and smoothly. In case you can’t tell, I’m sold. Well, actually, it’s sold…… to me! Hip hip hooray!

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Perhaps the first project this machine will get to make under my guidance will be this sweet vintage pattern. Generally, I don’t use store-bought patterns; but seeing this one in an antique store, I just couldn’t pass it up.

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Dress Shop: Margaret and Alice

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Over the summer, my friend and I have been working on putting together an Etsy store. Finally, we have managed to put a few of our products on, and the shop, Margaret and Alice, is now open! Being tall, skinny gals, we have been thinking, “There needs to be a dress store that caters to our size, because we can never find satisfactory dresses that are long enough….. Why don’t we open one?” Thus, Margaret and Alice is meant to provide classy, modest dresses for the tall and slender. The dresses are inspired by vintage styles, especially from the 1930’s. Peter pan collars, bows, and lace are our signatures. Every dress (or shirt) is carefully handmade by my friend and I. All the patterns we use also are hand-drafted by one of us to perfectly fit a tall, slim lady. We hope to list a few more dresses over the next week or two. In the mean time, if you happen to be thin and long-legged or know someone of this type, please drop by our shop or tell your friends about the chic dresses at Margaret and Alice! Also, any questions you may have I would be glad to answer!

The shop:

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An elegant lace trim top:

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A lovely pale blue sun dress:

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And a comfy navy blue dress with white stripe detail:

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Lace Trim Top

I’ve been hankering to do this project for some time since I saw a similar idea on this blog a while back. In some ways, it is moderately simple, but it must be done very diligently. It was super fun, though. You first have to piece together lace strips. I’ve read that some people use lace fabric cut into strips, but I just used several different lace trims. I used some neat lace that my granny passed down to us and some other lace that a sweet lady gave us recently. I spent a ton of time organizing the lace the way I wanted it. When it was finally perfect, I sewed the strips together (wide enough to fit the front and back of the shirt) with a zigzag stitch. Then, I just cut my pattern out of the fabric and sewed the side and shoulder seams. I finished all the raw edges by serging and barely turning under. I was imagining this to turn out great, but it’s far better than I imagined. I think it’ll be a perfect top to dress up or down. It’s cute with denim shorts, or, at least I think this would be darling, with a long black or coral skirt, which I need to make =D

Lace-covered Suitcase

Remember that vintage suitcase that my mom got at an estate sale for seven dollars? It got a makeover. I finally made the decision to cover it in lace (which happens to come from some thrifted, 50 cent, lace curtains). It’s a mix of the ideas from this post at A Beautiful Mess and this post I found on Pinterest. Just be sure to use the same amount of glue over the whole thing, or else you might have a slightly darker stripe, which sadly mine has. I had so much fun dressing up (I made the top!) for these pictures! I love the vintage travel theme.

Polka dot skirt

In an attempt to throw together a skirt to wear with my pleated granny shirt to church this morning, I came out with this darling little 50’s polka dot skirt. I’ve been wanting both a polka-dotted skirt and a circular skirt, so combining them made a perfect one. Though I did not actually get it done for church (give me a break— I started it at 9 p.m. last night), it was very fast for a self-drafted pattern. The drafting took no longer than 30 minutes, and the sewing was a breeze. Well, it was a breeze till I got to the hem, which turned out to be quite perplexing. With the round edge, it was very difficult to turn under twice without getting it twisted. But, it all worked out in the end. I might shorten up the skirt in the summer. Right now, though, the length is just right =D