I made my first dress. One reason I sewed was because I enjoyed it. Another reason was if I
wanted clothes I had to pay for most of them. I would save my allowance and then ride my
bicycle to Selden's, our very small local department store, to buy patterns and fabric.
Since my allowance only went so far, I developed a habit of rescuing and reusing to make clothes;
old linens, my mother's leftover fabric scraps, even my younger sister's hand me ups (she was
3.5 years younger, but 5 inches taller). I remember cutting apart an old pair of jeans to make a
cap and opening up the inner leg seams of another pair and re-stitching them to make a skirt.
I used the bottom part of each pants leg to fill the insets and add a bib. Printed denim
fabric with small lighter blue flowers became bib straps, the skirt ruffle, and a bib pocket.
Most of my favorite garments have involved a search and rescue. My high school home ec
teacher, Mrs. Easterday, assigned a "20 hour Project" both years I was in her class. It was up
to us to decide what that project was going to be and to then follow through and record our
time spent. One of mine was a skirt that used up a Goodwill-headed box of my stepfather's
old neckties. I opened up each tie with a seam ripper, pressed them all flat (so they were wider
and looked less tie-like), sewed the edges together, and added a waistband to make a skirt.
I loved that skirt... I wish I still had it, or at least a photo of it.
In searching for an image to help illustrate my tie skirt, I found the one above
from Tavin Shop on Etsy. It is a very close facsimile to the one I made in 1974;
though mine was less full, and had some black, pale yellow, and no orange.
I wore my tie skirt with sandals exactly like the ones above... I LOVED them.
They were one of my very favorite pairs of shoes that I have EVER had.
They're back and available again, but cost about 10 times as much now!
The pattern on the right is the same one I used to make my recycled jeans cap.
wedding dresses; three for the same groom. I embroidered and beaded the bodice of the first
one (1981), which was never worn since the wedding was called off a month prior to the date.
I made a completely different dress for the wedding that eventually took place in 1988 after
years apart. I didn't like the color of the slip style underdress on me after it was completed, so I
managed to finish another one in a pale pink before the wedding date. I beaded the pale pastel
vintage lace trim that I sewed to the neckline and sleeves of the point d'esprit lace overtunic,
and paired it with tiers of new wide lace trim (that I also beaded) on the tunic hem. The new lace
didn't match the vintage lace, so I dyed it in coffee; scary, considering the cost of the new lace!
I made differing sizes of pale pink organza roses for embellishment; all with individual petals.
After all the petals were cut out, I brushed them with a glue and water mixture, dried them
on aluminum foil, and then rolled and crimped them all on a pencil. Gathered and wound
tubes of organza became the buds that the petals were stitched to. The completed roses
were assembled in groups with sprays of lily of the valley and tiny pearls for the shoulders
and also for the tulle headpiece that tucked into a bun on the back of my head.
I was very proud of that dress... I don't think have a photo of it anymore, either.
I drilled white ark shells and pink apple blossom shells and stitched
them in with beading I did on the bodice and skirt trim. I was really
happy with it and felt it was perfect for our Jamaica wedding.
after our wedding). It reminds me so much of mine... even the shoes.
a bee in my bonnet and I give in. Cabin fever in Corning was an additional
motivator, so I off I went on a search and rescue mission. Day 1 netted
table linens from the ReStore, a crocheted skirt from the Salvation Army and
hankies from two different Corning antique stores. I had a large collection
of those many years ago, but gave them all away prior to one of our moves.
of the hankies, 3 dresser scarves (painted, crocheted, and embroidered), and a
.99 pair of shorts that conveyed they want to be used with one of the hankies.
Unfortunately, my sewing machine is 636 miles away. I looked for a secondhand
one, as well as a rental, but gave in to a new inexpensive one to leave here.
The crocheted dresser scarf and skirt were combined to
make a dress that will be paired with a camisole and
leggings, or a slip dress. Fray Check and lace trim finished
the hole I cut out of the middle for the neckline.
I used one hankie for the bodice front, and another for the bodice back. I ripped out
the crotch seam of the .99 shorts, took out the elastic stitching in the waistband back,
and re-stitched the center seams of the front and back flat for the lower part of the
top. I used lace trim in the same color as the rose pink of the bodice to make the
straps and trim the hem. I really like how it turned out. It's cheerful and will
look cute with jeans, capris, leggings, short straight skirts, etc.
I overlapped the painted dresser scarf horizontally
for the lower part of the top. The bodice was made with one
hankie for the front, another for the front lining, and parts of an
embroidered dresser scarf and another hankie for the bodice back.
The straps were also made from the embroidered dresser scarf.
The embroidered butterfly dresser scarf was cut into four pieces to make the front and back
of the lower part of the top and two godets for the sides. The remaining scrap was used
with a hankie to make the bodice back, and the bodice front was made by layering a lace hankie
with appliqués over a floral one. The straps were made with scraps left from another dresser scarf.
Corning, NY. After buying a bunch of hankies from her, I went back to show her my 3 hankie tops
and bought 3 more. She gave me (gave me!!) the cutest white dress and 3 pieces I was admiring that
appear to have once been a single table runner. They will look cute with the newly acquired hankies.
I haven't decided what I am going to do with it yet, because it is very special
and I don't want to cut into it until I am absolutely positive what it wants to be!
Mrs. Easterday. It's been many years since I first entered her Pennsylvania classroom as a
shy and scared sixteen year old Virginia transplant. Another search and rescue found her
address so I began writing a letter immediately and mailed it off the next day. She may not
remember me, but I want her to know how much the memories I have of her mean to me.
I arrived home on Tuesday from NY and am still trying to get things unpacked and put away.
The problem is distractions. I can't seem to follow through on a single task because I keep
noticing something that wants attention. While hanging clothes in the closet, I pulled
out two items that have been putting up a fight every time a donation box is in the works.
The top was an Anthropologie purchase
in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The Soft
Surroundings skirt was purchased soon
after we moved from China to SC in 2008.
I loved the patterns and colors of the fabrics
used in it, but it was always too big on me.
I hadn't been able to part with it, even
though I only wore it a few times.
I decided to do a Frankenstein blend of the
two and starting ripping out seams.
Plan A was to do a dress. I wanted to pull
the two garments together visually, so I
removed the skirt waistband and used it
to make an inset on the blouse front. It
had been a fitted blouse with buttons, but
I wanted to be able to slip it over my head.
The dress idea did not appeal to me
once I put it on so I shortened the skirt
to make the garment tunic length.
It still didn't do it for me. The top and
skirt seemed a bit disconnected, so
out came the scissors again... Plan B.
out a roll of Heat and Bond, and made some appliques to iron onto the front and back of
the top. Once I start a project I hate to walk away, so I was thrilled and amazed that I had a
whole spool of Sulky thread in the perfect shade of turquoise to zig-zag the appliques to
the top. That meant I didn't have to stop what I was doing to head to the fabric store!!
blend of fabrics instead of a disjointed jumbled mess. However I did have to stop and go to the fabric store after
deciding the hem needed to be trimmed with something that would be compatible with the pink piping on the top.
found a simple pink sheer ruffle that was a better match to the piping. After I'd
sewn it on, a little voice called out from a drawer in the studio, "Hey, I've been sitting
in a drawer for 2 decades... you have an opportunity to put me to use! Please act
on it!!" So the embroidered trim was added on both sides of the center inset.