New Glasses!

I have new glasses!
I bought these frames on Ebay last year.  I finally got them fitted with my prescription recently and I am so very pleased with them.

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I had them done by Lens Factory.com at a huge savings over having them done locally. I like to buy local whenever I can, but where the cost was less than half of the cost I could find locally, I just couldn’t justify the expense. So it was send them off to have them done or don’t do them at all.

I am extremely pleased with the service and quality of the work from Lens Factory and  they are experienced with vintage frames.  They walked me through the process and held my hand a bit when I had anxiety that I had taken the measurements incorrectly.
I don’t know if it’s the quality of the lens material (I could afford to get the super thin high index and extra wide HD bifocals with them, they were over $500 at any of the local optical places I checked with) or if they just ground them more accurately than the last pair I have of the same Rx, but I can see so very clearly in them, better than I have in years. And they make me smile every time I look in the mirror!

 

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Dress of the day 2/17/16

I made a new dress! I had the fabric in my stash and when I saw the dress Tasha from By Gum By Golly had made, I knew I had to get it out and make something! The fabric is a Michael Miller print.
I took the picture at the bridal shop I work with. They have lovely large mirrors with which to take awkward phone selfies.

The dress is sleeveless, the pattern is my personally drafted sloper bodice. The little bolero is shocking yellow and the white sandals are “Corazon” from Remix Shoes.  I’ve had them ten years and they are finally starting to show their age and the effects from the wacky way I walk with my messed up feet.  I have worn them pretty much every other day for three seasons a year for an entire decade, so I think they’ve been worth the investment. Time for a new pair!
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Stockings

I really like wearing vintage stockings. I find them much more comfortable than modern pantyhose, and you can’t beat the look.

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There are drawbacks, though: they are pricey, around 10 bucks a pair (but good pantyhose are around that price). Also, they are harder to find in larger or “outsize” sizes, and try though I might, they will always wrinkle a bit around the ankle. I love them anyway!!

I thought I ‘d share a few things I’ve learned about wearing them.

Firstly, the garter belt is a utilitarian item. That is not to say they can’t be pretty, even sexy, but don’t get one of those skinny stretchy things with scratchy lace. For daily wear, it is most convenient to wear one’s knickers OVER the garter belt for ease of access for personal functions, so it better be smooth and soft and have any strain or pressure spread out over several inches. The one I wear is boring white eyelet embroidered cotton fabric with powernet stretch panels on the sides. It is nine inches from top to bottom and fits closely but is not compressive like a girdle. It only has 4 garters which is sufficient, but I think 6 would be better. It is comfortable enough that I don’t groan with relief when I take it off at the end of the day, which is more than I can say for modern pantyhose.

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Next, properly sized stockings are essential. The size of the stocking is not your shoe size, and if you are above a dress size of 16 , you will probably need to buy “outsize” stockings. Most sellers of vintage stockings will have a size chart for you to refer to.

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For reference, I am 5’4″, weigh 220 pounds, wear a dress size 20 to a 22 and my thigh measures  28 inches around (geeze, was that once really my waist size???), my shoe size is 9.5 average width. With that in mind, my stocking size is  10.5, outsize, 32.5 length  when worn with my white garter belt. I also have a black  garter belt that sits higher on my waist and is an inch shorter over all and I wear 34.5 inch stockings with it. The outsize stockings fit my thighs with a little bit to spare, but if your thighs are larger than 29, you may have issues. I know that larger stockings were made, but have not yet seen any for sale.

I share those very personal and slightly horrifying statistics for your edification and reference. I aim to help womankind!!

Next, I wear gloves whenever I handle my stockings. My hands are often rough, but even if your hands and nails seem smooth, it doesn’t take much to snag stockings, so use gloves. I use old knit dress gloves. I use them when washing them too.

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Which brings us to: Wash them before you wear them. If they are used vintage this goes without saying. But even if they are new old stock still in their packaging, they must be washed first. They are stiff and unyielding right out of the package. It’s amazing how stretchy they get after you wash them for the first time. I just soak them in tepid water and a little shampoo. Swish them a few times. If this is a ‘post wear’ wash, I will squish the suds back and forth through the heel and toe areas to make sure I get the sweat and grime out. Squish in rinse water thoroughly, then squeeze out excess water. No wringing or twisting! I roll them in a towel and press out any water, then lay them flat on my bed to dry. If I turn on the ceiling fan they dry in a snap.

I have some pretty stocking envelopes to keep my washed and ready to wear stockings stored in.

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The pairs that haven’t been removed from their tissues and washed yet are just stored in plastic zip bags. I think I need to move them to old pillow cases soon. Goodness only knows what the plastic could do to them over time.

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Some of them still rest in their original boxes, so there they stay.

Dirty stockings also reside in an old pillowcase, but I tend to get them washed up pretty quickly.

Putting vintage stockings on is a very different experience than putting on pantyhose. I roll or “accordion” the stocking down to the toe, gently work  the foot up over the heel, then up the leg. Attach your garters while sitting down, stand up and adjust them to keep the stocking up smoothly and expect to have to adjust them at least once in the next hour or so since they will stretch out a little bit and sag at the ankles. They will never stay completely smooth at the ankle for me for longer than the next time I sit down, but that’s the nature of the beast.

One of the nifty-est things I have picked up is as stocking repair tool. I know that right up through the 1940’s you could get your stockings repaired by a professional service. They had machines and skilled women who would do them for a fee. How practical!  When I found this little tool and instruction set still in it’s original little box on E-bay for $5 I snapped it up. I can’t say I want to have a run in my stocking, but I sort of can’t wait to use it!
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I don’t get to wear my lovely stockings everyday, but they are a real treat on a regular basis. I hope you get the chance to wear some soon.

 

 

Sewing for warmth

I’ve taken inspiration from Tasha at By Gum By Golly to get some winter sewing done. Cotton day dresses are all well and good, but winter is cold here in Utah and I hate popping a modern jacket or sweater over a vintage dress. Spoils the effect, yes?
Since I rarely need a long heavy coat to run errands or even shovel the snow, a hip length wool jacket with a silk lining would serve pretty much 99% of my winter needs, so make it I did!

I liked the look a of Mexican tourist jacket that Tasha posted on BGBG and took off from that. I used McCalls M6995 for the pattern. It’s a 1933 reprint of a jacket with big fold back cuffs. I eliminated the cuffs and released some of the back darts to give boxier shape.

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The wool was some tweedy brown that I had in my stash, and was just enough for the jacket if I seamed the back collar at the center and used a scrap of brown corduroy for the under collar. I lined the entire thing with some pale avocado color silk satin also from stash, and the buttons are true vintage.

I blanket stitched the edges and appliqued some corduroy acorns and ecru wool leaves on the collar and pocket for some vintage pop, and hand worked the buttonholes. Envious of men’s wear jackets, I also included an interior pocket that sits just below the bust for a cell phone or slim wallet.
I’m extra chuffed about it. I wear it every where over dresses, skirts and jeans.

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Dress of the day 4/2

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This dress is fun. I made it from Butterick 6055 and the pattern certainly had its issues, but I like the final version very much.

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The bodice was a dolman sleeve in the original pattern, but was just odd, especially through the sleeves. It was awkward and ill fitting so I made it sleevess with the addition of a side bust dart. The collar took some tweaking too but now it works.  I also did a front zipper closure rather than the side zipper.
I love the pockets. They don’t show up too well in such a bold print, but I’ll be using them again. I’ll make sure to use a fabric which showcases them a little better.

Dress of the Day 4/1

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This fairly frumpy little shirt-dress was actually the inspiration for me to dress vintage everyday.

It’s just a cotton dress that I got at Ross for $16. It’s pretty cheaply made, but it has held up in the wash and after re-stitching the belt (it was badly twisted) it’s one of my favorites.

It hits just below the knee and has just enough flair to the skirt to be easy wearing. The short sleeves are thin and fit well under a sweater.

It is so comfortable and easy to wear that I instantly started wearing it instead of my slouchy work-from-home clothes which usually consisted of a flannel night-gown or P.J.s. Classy, no?
The first day I wore it my postal carrier commented “you look like you’re from the 50’s. So cute!” (she was delivering my nifty red slippers shown below) . Well, with feedback like that, it was a keeper.

My longish red sweater won’t get shortened like the green and ivory ones, for some reason I like this one at this length.

My lousy camera angle doesn’t show my smart red house slippers, so I’ll include a shot of them. I wear them pretty much every day since it’s usually cool down here in my basement workroom. They are true vintage Daniel Green wool. I wish I could find something exactly like them in leather. I’d wear them out and around every darn day.

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Sweater Hack

I had two light weight cotton/rayon cardigans that I picked up for a song. I loved the 3/4 sleeves with cute button details and the weight and drape is just right for three season dressing. The neutral colors are great too (What? Lime green is too the new Black!!).
The length was all wrong though, much too long. They were over the hip and the Ivory one was a size too large to boot. I started with the Ivory one, I took it in, quick and dirty, taking in the side seams from the sleeve cuff hem all the way down to the bottom hem. I just used the zig zag stitch, I’m not a huge fan of the so-called “stretch stitches”, I’ve found they always seem to do just that, stretch out the fabric at the seam permanently. Zig Zag bounces back better  for me. It worked perfectly and gave me the confidence to shorten the thing too. Here’s how I did that on the lime green sweater.

First I determined where I wanted to cut, I wanted this one a tad longer than the Ivory sweater. So I cut one button lower on this one. You might want to pin up the edge to test fit. Start your cutting line just above a buttonhole so you have room for a seam allowance that wont' crowd the buttonhole above.
First I determined where I wanted to cut, I wanted this one a tad longer than the Ivory sweater. So I cut one button lower on this one. You might want to pin up the edge to test fit. Start your cutting line just above a buttonhole so you have room for a seam allowance that won’t crowd the buttonhole above.
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I measured up from the band to my cut and it was exactly 5 1/2 inches. I measured and marked all around.
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I cut along those marks around. Then I cut 1/2 up from the ribbing. I didn’t do it all around at the same time, but wanted to show both cuts in one photo for clarity.
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Here is the band completely removed.
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My sweater has a little front facing that is not sewn down except at the buttonholes. I made sure to open in out so it wouldn’t get caught in the seam. I’ll sew it down later. You can see here the tiny piping detail down the front band. I wasn’t about to open that all up to make a smoother finish. I figured the bump it was going to cause would be down around my waist so who cared?
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I pinned all along the seam, being careful to match side seams and not distort any of the fabric.
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Being careful to keep that facing folded out of the way, I stitched the seam with a fairly narrow zig zag with a slightly longer stitch length to avoid distortion. I had my Bernina set to stitch width 3 and stitch length 3.5.
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I made sure to stitch right along where the ribbing meets the flat knitting. The zig zag settles right into that.
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Again keeping that little facing folded out.
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Here’s how the stitching looks on the backside.
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And the front side. You can see here how the zig zag hides right in the ribbing. I felt this was important, since a zig zag stitched seam can show on the right side on flat knitting.
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I top stitched the seam, still using zig zag. I would have preferred to straight stitch, but I was really worried it would distort and “flair” the seam. I looked much better than I had expected when I did the ivory sweater, so I was confident using it again.
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I did get a little “ripple” here, but it was because I lost my focus and stretched the fabric a little as I was sewing. Not a big deal, but if you are careful about it, you can avoid it entirely. I’m confident it will come out in the wash.
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I pinned down the little facings and sewed them in place.
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And here’s that little bump, mostly caused by just folding the piping under and into the facing. I think it’s pretty subtle, and really the only sort of compromise I made when altering this. I’m good with that. I prefer to think of it as a “feature”!

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Dress of the Day

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Todays dress is a day dress I just finished making from fabric from the stash. It’s just good ol’ printed cotton from JoAnn fabrics with some vintage mother of pearl metal shank buttons from my button stash, courtesy of my sister Tami The Button Queen.
I used Simplicity pattern # 1460 which is actually a 1950s reprint of a a peplum top. I just extended the skirt out to full length and added some scalloped top patch pockets. Instead of a buckled belt, I made a sash tie belt.

My hair is just brushed out from yesterdays curlier style from an overnight set on foam rollers. My scarf is a vintage silk square.

I’m rather chuffed about the sweater. It was a hip length cardi from Ross that I picked up for $16. I cut it apart just above the ribbing and shortened it. I think it came out very well. I have lime green one that I’m going to alter today, so I’ll take pictures of how I did it and post it here.

Building Aunt Bea’s closet

Hi!  My name is Tracy and I’ve always loved vintage style clothes. Way back in the 80’s when I was in my early twenties, I  had a few vintage pieces and I adored them. Over the years I always had a dream of dressing vintage all the time, but I felt like it would be too over the top, people would stare, snigger behind my back, make comments.
Now, in my 50’s (GAH! IN MY 50’S!!!) I’ve finally got to the point where I just don’t care what other people think of how I dress. I have found that vintage (50’s and 40’s) style dresses really do look best on my rather rotund figure, I’m the most comfortable in them and I have made several over the last few years.

In my mind I’m Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner and Kate Hepburn all rolled into one. In reality I’m Aunt Bea with a little Lucille Ball thrown in.

Well a few months a go I moved house, and what better time to re-invent ones self? I’m going to do it this year, right now. I’m completely replacing my wardrobe with the vintage styles I love. I’ve been so inspired by some of the blogs I’ve been reading, ByGumByGolly in particular and I’m committed .

I have a full complement of dresses but I need to make some tops and trousers. I also will need to make a coat and knit a vintage style sweater for winter warmth. I have plenty of light cotton sweaters and boleros for spring, summer and fall, but I will need a good warm wooly one,

I’ve been investing in good shoes since I have really bad feet, but i could really use some brown oxford style shoes with moderate heels, and some penny loafers to wear with trousers.

Underthings are always an issue, I’m and odd fit for bras anyway, so I’m going to make some using the Bullet Bra tutorial from Va Voom Vintage.  Pajamas and a housecoat are on the list too.

This is a place for me to keep track and share what I do, just in case anyone else is on this path too. It’s going to be fun building Aunt Bea’s Closet!