Vintage Restoration ~ Velvet Flocking Part One

Over the years, I have steadily amassed a lovely collection of vintage but some did not stand up well with the test of time. These “wounded birds” require a lot of TLC to revive them to be enjoyed for many mores years to come. Very rarely do I take on these big projects myself but when the most beautiful treasures come along, I feel compelled to take it under my wing. Late last summer I was very fortunate to come across this gorgeous vintage 3D floral applique dress, which is quite famous as the lovely Dita Von Teese owns one herself. Sadly, she was in very poor condition with the velvet flocking missing in many areas, several loose seams with a torn zipper therefore the seller decided it was too much for her to take on. Her loss was my gain…but I sure had a big undertaking on my hands.

The very first step was to ensure the dress was structurally sounds before focusing on the esthetics. I inspected every seam and zipper to confirm how much reinforcement was required. The front waist seam was letting go, the side zipper was ripped around the waist area and there was a tiny hole from the strain on the fabric. I suspect someone tried to force the zipper close meanwhile the dress was clearly too small for them. Although I am comfortable around a sewing machine, I decided to ask my mom for help as she knows zippers like a boss. Reinforcing the waist seam was super easy but the zipper mending took some finessing but we were successful. The zipper is sturdy again and fully functional despite missing one tooth on the track. Our inside patch job did the trick and cannot be seen from the outside. I’ll be sewing on a new hook and eye to replace the rusted one as well.

Now onto step two, esthetics! I consulted with the vintage community for recommendations on DIY techniques to restore the velvet flocking that was missing in several areas on the bodice and skirt. With a few suggestions in hand, I eventually landed on sourcing black flocking by the roll online. After watching tutorials and reading reviews on various brands, I decided to use “Silhouette Heat Transfer Material” from Craftdirect.com since no local stores carried it here. Once I had the Silhouette flocking in hand and compared it to the dress, I was confident it would be a good fit for the restoration project.

  1. To begin, I grabbed some trace paper and a fine Sharpie marker to create the stencils for the appliques. One by one, I traced the leaves on the bodice along with the branch located on the shoulder. Next, I traced the long branches on the skirt portion that were missing from the waist to the middle where the flocking was still present.
  2. After carefully cutting each stencil out, I then double and tripped checked on the dress to ensure they were correct.
  3. Since the heat transfer material is meant for a digital cutter, you only need to follow one very important thing…place the stencil on backwards, then trace! Make sure you have very sharp scissors for this part, I used hair scissors as they are more precise for this small detail work.
  4. TEST!!! Take your first applique and use a scrap piece of fabric to see if it will transfer correctly for your application.
  5. Using a hot iron (cotton setting, no steam), apply a piece of material over the heat transfer applique, and iron for 45-60 seconds. Let cool completely before trying to remove the protective plastic film. Success…now onto the real thing!!!
  6. Now trace all of your stencils onto (backwards) the roll of heat transfer material and cut them out very carefully, avoid any burred edges since that will show on the application. I suggest doing them one section at a time, it is less overwhelming that way.
  7. Take each applique and take the time to triple check that they match perfectly with dress. I had to painstakingly trim each one to mimic the original design, shaving off the slightest amounts to get them just right.
  8. Make sure all old flocking is scrapped off, I used my fingernails mostly to ensure the fabric would not be damaged. In some areas where there was a lot of patchiness, a sharp kitchen steak knife (not serrated) was necessary.
  9. Repeat steps 5-6 for each applique. Leave the protective film on until each section is complete to avoid damaging the new flocking.

As you can imagine, this is a very long tedious process and needs to be done precisely for the best results. Restoring the bodice portion of this beauty took approximately 3+ hours. One word of caution, make sure to clear away any heat transfer shaving from your project before applying the heat. This was a small mistake I made which resulted in tiny black marks on the cream fabric that I now have to treat as pesky stains. DOH!

Stay tuned for the completion of this restoration project…

 

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Viva Rockabilly Weekend 20th Anniversary

It is hard to believe that we are less than one month away from the Viva Rockabilly Weekend 20th Anniversary!!! This will be our fourth year attending and it will likely be our very last so we are going to enjoy every minute the weekend has to offer. As many of you know, a lot of planning goes into preparing for the big event and it can be a very daunting task for people attending for the first time. Over the years I have shared helpful tips on what to do, what to see, how to pack and much more! If you think I was being sarcastic about outfit planning being done on a spreadsheet, think again! I am busy getting my outfit schedule completed as it truly eliminates the last minute stress on what to pack and wear each day. Luckily I shopped my closet for all outfits this year and simply picked up a few inexpensive vintage accessories from Etsy and Ebay that I can mix and match. Don’t fret if you feel like you have nothing to wear, Viva goers wear jeans and t-shirts to evening gowns…everyone is welcome!!!

Check out our past Viva blog posts that you may find helpful in your preparations for Viva 20 and/or in the years to follow.

Let the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender Prep Begin

Part Two ~ What to do at Viva!

Part Three – What I Wore at Viva 17

Part Four – Viva 17 Recap

Are You Ready for Viva 18???

Viva 18 ~ Week In Outfits

Viva 18 ~ One Vintage Lovers’ Haul

Viva 18 Recap ~ Part One

Viva 18 Recap ~ Part Two

Viva Las Vegas 19 Recap

Please follow me on Instagram for live updates from the Viva Rockabilly Weekender 20th anniversary & of course vintage fashion ! A full recap will be on the blog in the weeks to follow.

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Fluttering From The Autumn Tree

Do you ever find yourself being drawn to certain elements or motifs that subconsciously bring back fond memories? For as long as I can remember, I always adored things which symbolized Autumn…my most favorite time of year. One of those elements is the classic maple leaf; it not only reminds me of Autumn but also an iconic symbol for us Canadians. Slowly, I have collected some lovely vintage maple leaf accessories but felt there was a void that needed to be filled when it came to my wardrobe. For ages I lusted over the Pinup Girl Clothing Butterfly Dress in Leaves Print but never took the plunge until just recently.

Available in sizes XS-4X ~ MSRP $180

img_8939Although my measurements (b36/w27-28/hips40-41) have fluctuated over the last little while, I still fall within PUG’s size Small in their dresses. The Butterfly Dress is super stretchy but it is strongly recommend to size up if you are in between sizes to not to distort the nature of the print. As an added bonus, you will receive the matching turban which previously was sold separately for $64. Thankfully the fit and sizing was right on par with the size chart, the size Small fit wonderfully. The Butterfly Dress features a flirty keyhole opening with elasticized gathered neckline, wide fluttering sleeves, a soft curve hugging and flared skirt, is fully lined in knit crepe, includes a thin black faux-leather belt and finished off with a back zipper closure. Made from a luscious silky smooth knit crepe fabric, adorned with classic autumn leaves on a rich teal background. At 5′-4″ tall, the hemline falls several inches below the knees.

img_8932 img_8930It is refreshing to see more designers like PUG branching out into different styles and allowing us to diversify our wardrobes. Lately I find myself wandering into an earlier era and really loving the sleeker 1940s silhouettes. What kept me on the fence for so long with the Butterfly Dress was the fear that the draping would overwhelm my petite frame and look like I was wearing a sack of potatoes. Thankfully those fears quickly diminished when I finally gave it a whirl. I was more taken aback by the substantial weight of the crepe fabric, this is definitely not meant to be worn on those hot summer days. If you are looking for a little more versatility, the Butterfly Dress neckline can be worn both on and off the shoulders…all depending on the occasion. With the fabric being so clingy to the body, I do think some ladies would prefer to wear a little shapewear to help create a smooth sleek silhouette.

img_8949 img_8943Being a collector of vintage leaf print motifs, it was so much fun to accessorize the Butterfly Dress. I immediately knew my vintage maple leaf celluloid necklace would match perfectly with the colours in falling leaves print along with the Remix It Girl Heels in mustard. Of course not everyone has this necklace so an easy and inexpensive alternative are colourful plastic bangles from local thrift stores or check out Splendette and Bow & Crossbones for wonderful reproduction fakelite bangles.

img_8937 img_8936There is nothing more special than finding gorgeous designs with motifs that one holds close to their heart. The lovely Butterfly Dress also comes in solid colours and two more fabulous prints. If that isn’t enough, PUG recently released this flirty style in the Butterfly Top!

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Creating Magic Out of a Ball of Yarn

It has been quite a while since I became enamored with the classic vintage 1940s Knit Sweater Dresses and endlessly searching for one to fit my petite frame. Sweater dresses come in various patterns, styles and colours, yet they appear to be more rare in smaller sizes and those get snatched up quickly. What makes it even more challenging to find is that there are no reproduction clothing companies who offer knit sweater dresses, likely due to the high cost of manufacturing. Fortunately that all changed when a very talented independent artist that many of us love and admire, Alixis from Ains & Elke StyleHaus surprised us all with her take on the 1940s sweaters. Needless to say, everyone is absolutely smitten with these adorable novelty print knit sweaters and cannot get enough of them. Of course, her creativity never stops and when she shared her very first 1940s Knit Sweater Dress on Instagram…I was over the moon excited!!! Today I bring to you, the gorgeous Ains & Elke StyleHause Flight of Birds Sweater and Michelle Knitted Skirt in Green.

Available in sizes Custom Sizes/Colours ~ MSRP Sweater $135+, Skirt $75

img_9093The wonderful aspect of buying from smaller independent businesses like Ains & Elke StyleHaus, is that they offer more personalized services to their customers. They have off the rack sizes Small to Large along with custom sizing as well. I provided my measurements, bust 36″ waist 27-28″, hips 40-41″ and had both pieces custom made to fit. In addition, I requested a lovely Kelly green since it is one my favorite colours and quite rare to find in the vintage world. The anticipation immediately turned into joy when Alixis finally revealed a photo of our design collaboration …I was truly blown away! The 1940s Knit Sweater Set was even more gorgeous in person, the shade of green could not have been more perfect. Do not be intimidated by its tiny appearance…the wonderful thing about knitted clothing is that it stretches to hug all of your curves and fits like a glove. It is a dream come true to finally find a knitted 1940s inspired sweater set that fits my petite frame flawlessly. The 1940s Knitted Sweater features a lovely contrast white flight of birds pattern, with high scoop neck, short sleeves (available in 3/4 & long sleeves), designed in a vintage cropped length, accented by ribbed cuffs and waistband. The coordinating Michelle Knitted Skirt features a sleek pencil silhouette with matching ribbed waistband and tappers at the knees. At 5′-4″ tall, the hemline falls just at the knees, customized to personal preference.

img_9114 img_9107There is no doubt about it, Ains & Elke Stylehaus has opened a whole new world with their vintage inspired 1940s sweaters…filling a much needed void in the reproduction industry. Let me start by saying, these are NOT cheap quality knitted type sweaters/cardigans that we normally see coming from overseas…these are the real deal! They are exactly like the authentic vintage knits that have lasted over 7 decades, made from quality soft acrylic yarn. As I mentioned earlier, the knit is purposely designed smaller and stretches to create a sexy hourglass silhouette. This ensemble is so unbelievably comfortable and figure flattering. The thickness of the knit hides trouble areas well and really smooths everything out giving the illusion of a flawless shape.  I was worried that the skirt would get all stretched out with wear but surprisingly it always springs back to its smaller appearance. The Flight of Birds Sweater and Michelle Knitted Skirt can be worn, together or as separates…both great staples for your wardrobe.

img_9092 img_9116Immediately I knew this was going to be a great work outfit therefore I decided to keep my look very simple and classic with my go to round toe pumps in black. For a little sparkle, I will pop on a pair of confetti earrings in green. If you want to have a more defined hourglass silhouette, I recommend pairing it with the Rago 1294 open bottom girdle.

img_9133 flightofbirdsIt has been so exciting to see Ains & Elke StyelHaus flourish over the last few years and become a household name within our vintage and pinup communities. I remember back when one of my friends Ashleeta was raving about a custom dress she had made by Ains & Elke and I had surprisingly never heard of them before. It is absolutely wonderful to see an independent business prosper all due to one person’s hard work, dedication and creativity. Make sure to follow them on Instagram as I know you won’t be disappointed by what they will create next!

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