Sew Much Fabric, Sew Little Time…

How often do we all make new year resolutions are never stick to them? Earlier in 2018, I shared some of my personal goals for 2018 which included taking more time for myself doing something I enjoy. Thankfully that new found commitment  encouraged me to finally sign up for Beginners Sewing Classes at a local shop. Of course I always have big ambitions, I decided my first project would be Gertie’s B6453 Swing Dress Pattern.

My first visit to the local fabric store was so much fun to say the least. I browsed every aisle looking for prints that might jump out to me….floral, fruits, novelty prints, border prints, etc. From the moment I spotted this darling bird print fabric with colourful autumn leaves and berries, I knew it was meant to be. Of course I happened to be smitten by a stunning border floral panel print fabric as well, so that also came home with me for a future project. Next up was picking out the coordinating sewing notions for the B6453 Swing Dress; 2 spools of thread, 14″ zipper, adjustable bra strap rings and a yard of interfacing.

At my first class, I immediately saw that the other ladies were starting off with much more basic projects like pillow cases, kids clothing, aprons, etc. since most had little to no sewing experience but I was absolutely determined to make this dress over the next 10 weeks. With the aid of my teacher, she showed me how to “read” my sewing pattern and the proper placement for cutting out the fabric. After class I did a little homework online and found Gertie’s Sew Along Tutorial for the B6453 Dress. That is when I quickly realized I had cut out the wrong size of my pattern (too big) because the envelope measurements were incorrect. Long story short, I bought another B6453 Pattern and decided to trace it out instead of cutting into the original. Gertie’s tutorial also recommended making a muslin bodice to ensure the fit is right before cutting into your good fabric.

For the next couple classes, I worked on the mock up muslin bodice and learned how to do princess seams, darting, serging, installing a zipper, etc. The moment of truth finally came when I tried on the muslin bodice and it fit perfectly. I was pretty amazed and excited to move onto making my actual dress. Over the next 5 weeks, I saw my creation come to life. Week after week, my teacher coached me through the various steps and gave me tricks to make the most complicated steps feel much less daunting to master. I also continued to reference Gertie’s tutorial as well, I found her tips very helpful when sewing at home with no teacher by my side. Once I reached making the gathered skirt, it was not too long before my dress was nearly complete.

Although this was my first sewing project, I was adamant to get each step perfect…my OCD would not accept anything less. With sewing, you must have A LOT of patience. If you don’t get it right the first time, or second or third, patience will pay off when you finally nail it. There are a few steps along the way that I had to undo my work more than once but I was so happy that I took the time to redo it to be just right. Let me tell you, sewing the zipper in took 4 very frustrating tries but each time I learned something quite valuable for the next attempt. Every session, my classmates were eager to see the progression of my dress and just waiting for the final reveal.

After 8 weeks, my dress was finally complete and it was pretty AMAZING!  I know that may seem like a long time but our 2 hour weekly classes always flew by and I unfortunately didn’t have much time at home to work on it. All in all, I am beyond proud of what I accomplished over those two months and have a beautiful new dress to show off. There are couple small adjustments I plan on doing to the waist for a snugger custom fit but it is very wearable as is. Since learning new stops, I decided to enroll in the next session of classes and cannot wait to see my next project come to life. Stay tuned…

 

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A “Canadian” Weekend with Miss Victory Violet

When Miss Victory Violet first announced her Canadian Workshops tour, I was beyond excited and knew there was no way I was going to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Ella and I have known each other since 2011 when she first got into the vintage lifestyle and it is simply incredible to see how far she has come…now a household name and inspiration in our community. The Canadian Miss VV Tour included workshops in three major cities; Montreal, Port Dover, and Edmonton. With Port Dover only a car drive away, I signed up for the Beginner’s/Intermediate Hair and Makeup Workshop being held at the spectacular Clonmel Castle hosted by Suzie’s Bombshell Boutique.

The Port Dover stop on Miss VV’s tour was pretty special since the organizers put together a whole weekend event which included the workshops, wonderful accommodations at the Clonmel Castle, High Tea, and Vintage Spring Fling Party. Originally I was only planning to attend the Sunday workshop and high tea but when Ella asked me to be her hair model for the workshop on Saturday, I thought why not enjoy all the festivities and book my stay at the Clonmel. Seriously, I am so thrilled that I did as the weekend was truly spectacular from start to finish.

Upon arriving early Saturday morning, I was greeted so warmly by the owner of the Clonmel Castle Lynnee. The Clonmel Castle is so unbelievably beautiful, words cannot adequately describe all the intricate details and history in this unique bed and breakfast. Each guest room is named after its colour theme. I quickly got settled into my room known as “Black & White” since Ella had to set my hair for the first workshop that was about to start at 12pm. This gave us a wonderful opportunity to chat and catch up before the attendees began to arrive.  During this time, I spotted this gal wearing the most divine Vintage Lilli Ann princess coat down the hallway. Not a short time later, she walked into the workshop and I didn’t shy away at gushing over her coat and fabulous green jumpsuit from Emmy Designs.

The Miss VV classroom was all setup for the Beginner’s Set and Brushout Workshop. Attendees were be spoiled with the most incredible goodies bags that I have ever seen (more details on what was inside coming up in a bit). Unlike most Vintage Hair styling classes, Ella keeps her workshops small limiting them to 10 attendees for an intimate and a very hands on experience with the instructor. The ladies started to arrive, some traveling all the way from Michigan, Toronto and surrounding area. Seeing the excitement and radiating smiles was pretty incredible. You could just feel the positive energy from the room. Ella welcomed everyone and the class was well underway.

By the end, we all knew who was staying at the Clonmel or close by and convinced an extra few ladies to attend the Vintage Spring Fling that evening. A few more guests arrived in the afternoon at the Clonmel, including the lovely Jackie that I had met at another local vintage event a couple years ago along with her friend Julia. With a few hours left before we had to get ready for the evening festivities, Lynnee treated us to an immaculate spread for High Tea. Everything not only looked amazing, it was all absolutely delicious. My first High Tea experience is going to be tough to beat.

Once we were all pleasantly stuffed, everyone went up to their rooms to get all dolled up for the evening festivities. The soiree was held at Double Olive, with the Vintage Spring Fling taking place on the upper lounge level. As we arrived, the Hellbent Rockers were playing and getting people up on the dance floor. I was pleasantly surprised to see the room was packed with guests of all ages, it truly reminded me of being at Viva but in my own community! We grabbed our cocktails (or in my case a soda) and headed over to join crowd. Remember the Lilli Ann gal, that was the lovely Dana who I ended up chatting with all evening long. She is the epitome of vintage fashionista’s, wearing the iconic Betty Draper floral dress that is so utterly breathtaking. Ella, Jackie, Julia and tons of guests were up on the dance floor, even I went up for once song with Dean…the gentleman who makes every lady look graceful on the dance floor even with two left feet like me. The night went by quickly and everyone had such a wonderful time.

The following morning, the guests staying at the Clonmel gathered in the sitting room for coffee before being treated to a lovely breakfast in the dining area. I said goodbye to Jackie and Julia as they were heading home for the weekend and went to prepare for the afternoon workshop. Dana and I had traded places, today she was the model and I was an attendee at the Beginner’s/Intermediate Hair and Makeup Workshop. We saw a few familiar faces, some ladies came to both workshops to make the most of this opportunity with Miss Victory Violet. Of course everyone was thrilled over the goody bags filled with an exclusive Miss VV Shazaam purple Hair Flower and Splendette bangle, Dirty Works Nude eyeshadow palette, and full size Kenra products ( 2 hairsprays, thermal setting spray, dry volume & pomade).

First up was learning how to create classic pinup makeup look. I finally learned the secret to achieve soft eyeshadow blending along with simple contouring and highlighting. Ella is a wonderful teacher, she provides you with simple everyday techniques and doesn’t over complicate them using some fancy method. These are the same methods she uses everyday…who knew it could be so easy! Once our faces were all made up, we moved onto learning a basic brush out and creating the signature vintage front swoop. Seeing as everyone has very different types of hair, Ella helped each one of us with tricks on how to best work with what we have. By the end of the class, we all looked quite glamorous and learnt how to achieve this look on our own. Before everyone said their goodbyes, we took some group photos and some with Miss Victory Violet. A bunch of the ladies stayed for High Tea but it was sadly time for me to head home after the most incredible weekend.

 

It is difficult to put in words what this unbelievable weekend really meant to me emotionally. Little did I know there was such an incredible group of ladies with like interests in my community. Dana nailed it when she said “I found my people”, that truly expresses the feeling that I felt over the past two days. These women come from all different walks of life; nurses, publishers, emergency dispatcher, mothers, etc. but are united with by their mutual interests in vintage and pinup. I cannot thank Ella enough for not only coming to Canada but to include me in her workshops and be a part of such a memorable experience.

A special thank you to Suzie’s Bombshell Boutique, Southside Vixens, and the Clonmel Castle for organizing such a fantastic weekend for all of us.

 

Tiptoe Through The Tulips With Me

Although I rarely purchase Vintage Reproduction as of late, I still very much love to support independent designers that create fabulous handmade to order designs. For ages I swooned over the gorgeous dresses by She’s Dynamite, a one lady business based out of the UK. Every time she released a new design, I found myself day dreaming of wearing each one as they are all simply magnificent. When Miss Victory Violet debuted the Tulip Dress in red velvet by She’s Dynamite at Viva, I was in love! But I quickly started to wonder how often would I wear such a fancy occasion dress, so again the voice of reason said it was not very practical. Well it must of been fate because several months later, She’s Dynamite released the Tulip Dress in a darling eyelet cotton in an array of beautiful summery and staple colours…yellow, pink, blue, white, black and PURPLE!!!

Available in Customs sizes ~ MSRP £225.00

Since every design is made to order by She’s Dynamite, you must ensure to provide accurate measurements for a proper fit. If you are unsure how to properly measure yourself, I recommend contacting Stephanie (the gal behind She’s Dynamite) for assistance. She also states on her website the current production time for placing an order, currently it is approximately 6 weeks. If you need it for a specific occasion, ensure to order well in advance also factoring in shipping time from the UK. Before I knew it, my breathtaking Tulip Dress arrived and it was love at first sight. Now here’s the thing when I ordered my dress…silly me, I went with my usual measurements (bust 36″, waist 27″) but in reality I’ve gained a bit of weight so I “should” have really said a 28″ waist. In the mean time, I was bound and determined to fit into my dream dress…thanks to my trusted Rago waist cincher and patient hubby, it zipped up! It was everything I could have imagined and SO MUCH MORE! The Tulip Dress features a breathtaking strapless 3D tulip petal bust, a lined and boned bodice with internal ‘waist stay’ belt to stop the dress from slipping down, a full voluminous skirt with pockets and back zipper closure. The purple eyelet fabric is simply exquisite and a lovely thick cotton. I opted to go with the standard skirt length of 27″ but it can easily be customized to suit your height.

After daydreaming of owning a She’s Dynamite design for ages, the Tulip Dress far exceeded my expectations. The quality and craftsmanship is absolutely flawless. Now for those of you wondering, yes the Tulip Dress by She’s Dynamite is SO worth the price! If you can imagine, the tulip bodice is intricately constructed and molds to the body perfectly. Just think, you are buying a custom fitted design that has so many elements to create a one of kind masterpiece. Normally I find myself fussing with petal style bodices but the tulip petal bodice stays perfectly in place right off the hanger and can be worn folded down or left up for two unique looks. I was really surprised by the thickness of the cotton eyelet fabric; it holds its shape and drapes so wonderfully. There is so much time and attention to detail placed in every element of the design. I have only ever seen internal ‘waist stay’ belts used (which are used to stop the dress from slipping down) in vintage dresses and Haute Couture designs. The Tulip Dress can seamlessly transition from daytime to evening, perfect for almost every occasion.

When I first saw Miss Victory Violet style the Tulip Dress in purple with gorgeous emerald green accents, I immediately thought it was match made in heaven. I fully intend to wear mine with green as well but I opted to showcase a more Cinderella glamorous styling. I paired the Tulip Dress with vintage rhinestone jewelry and lucite heels. You can definitely add a petticoat for added volume in the skirt but I personally love the natural drape of the eyelet cotton fabric.

For those of you who are just discovering She’s Dynamite for the first time, I can only rave about their Tulip Dress and say that you will not be disappointed. Not only is Stephanie incredibly talented, she is an absolute sweetheart. I have to admit, I am constantly stalking her new designs and quickly discovered we both share an obsession with the colour yellow. Hopefully that will be my next purchase from She’s Dynamite, so stay tuned…

Setting the Caged Bird Free

What a challenging week it has been, first coming down with the worst flu/cold and then the hubby had a terrifying accident on his way to work one morning. We are counting our blessings that he walked away with just a few bumps and bruises, but the Pumpkin (Murano) didn’t make it out unfortunately. Luckily vehicles can be replaced.

I cannot even begin to express how excited that March is here and winter is almost behind us. Longer days are starting, the snow has melted and the temperature is slowly climbing into plus digits. Looking at the upcoming forecast, I am already planning to break out my pretties from their winter lock down. Of course the newest additions are on the top of the list to take for a spin. One of those treasures is the incredible Vintage 1950s Felt Bird Applique Circle Skirt from Ballyhoo Vintage Clothing.

Some of you may recognize this stunning vintage design, famously owned by the iconic Dita Von Teese. Up until recently, I had only ever come across the 1950s Felt Bird Applique Circle Skirt in tiny sizes and/or in very poor condition. Maybe call it fate but I just happened to be scrolling through Instagram when I spotted this beauty at Ballyhoo Vintage and it was my exact size. I will admit, rational thinking went out the window as I hastily went to their website to see if it was still available and if it was in my budget. The vintage gods were smiling upon me as the answer to all those questions was YES!

As I impatiently waited for my new to me vintage 1950s Felt Bird Applique Circle Skirt, I wondered if wearing a skirt made out of felt was going to be a practical or not. Any doubts that I had were quickly diminished as this treasure is in pristine condition (it honestly appears unworn) for its age and was made from the thickest quality of felt that creates the most lovely skirt draping. The darling pink and blue bird appliques jump right off the skirt and the birdcage is made from a rich gold embroidery.

Surprisingly versatile, the vibrant colours in the appliques allow for a variety of options of tops to mix and match. I was taken back by how incredibly comfortable it is to wear a felt skirt; there is a fair amount of give in the fabric and actually very lightweight. Since I do have sensitive skin, I opt to wear a slip underneath to prevent any possible irritation from the felt.

As a passionate vintage collector, my desire is always to give these treasures a new lease on life by wearing them and not simply hoarding like unfortunately so many collectors do. I truly believe they should have a life full of love and deserve to be showcased, rather living a life as a caged bird never being able to spread its magnificent wings for everyone to admire. My hope is that there are more vintage felt skirts out there to collect as they are so unique and utterly exquisite.

Revisiting Old Favorites

As I continue on with my quest of appreciating the pretties in my closet, I am frequently surprised by how amazing each piece is in their own unique ways. When you happen to find something that fits your body perfectly and makes you feel utterly fabulous…we often think “I should buy it in every colour!”. Well that is admittedly what I did when I purchased the Gigi Pantskirt Jumpsuit by Miss Candyfloss, first in the gorgeous Wine followed by the spectacular Emerald back in 2016. Being a budget savvy shopper, I waited patiently for a customer appreciation coupon to purchase the second jumpsuit a few months later.

Available in sizes XS-5XL in a variety colours ~ MSRP €110.00 ($135USD)

Over the years I have always found that Miss Candyfloss sizing to be consistently on the generous side throughout their designs. I was rather unsure what size to order in the Gigi Pantskirt Jumpsuit simply due to my extreme waist (27″) to hip (40″) ratio and petite frame. Normally I wear a size Small in their dresses and decided to risk ordering the same for fear the Medium would be too big in the shoulders. Now here’s the thing, the size Small fit nicely due to the stretchy fabric but I believe the Medium would have fit comfortably as well. The dilemma I currently face is that I have gained some weight over the past year and the size Small is quite tight in the drop waist/upper hip area but it is nothing some Spanx cannot fix. The Gigi Pantskirt Jumpsuit features the signature MCF pleated bodice, gorgeous tulips sleeves, pleated wide leg trousers, and matching belt. At 5′-4″ tall, I must wear approximately 3″ heels to drape nicely without hemming.

How many of you know the feeling of falling in love with something only to find out it is completely sold out everywhere in your size? That is exactly what happened when I first laid eye on the Gigi Pantskirt Jumpsuit earlier that year. I had come to terms that my window of opportunity was lost but secretly prayed they would restock them the following season. When Miss Candyfloss re-released an updated version of the Wine colourway in late summer, I ordered immediately knowing sizes would quickly sell out (which they did within a day or two). A part of me expected this purchase to be a total fail due to my short torso and petite frame, needless to say I was blown away when it fit so perfectly. I instantly felt like a million bucks and could not believe how incredibly comfortable the pantsuit was…it felt like I was wearing pajamas. The waist seaming is so figure flattering in combination with the wide pleated trousers. Call is magic but the Gigi Pantskirt Jumpsuit looks equally as fabulous on short gals and tall gals alike. Now I am sure you are all wondering, how tricky is it to get out of when you must use the ladies room? Well, I will admit you need to be prudent when undressing and eventually it becomes easier as you get accustomed to wearing a jumpsuit.

Seeing as this was my very first jumpsuit I ever owned, I was super thrilled on how practical and simple it is to look fabulous with minimal effort. Emerald is one of my most favorite shades to wear and find it very easy to accessorize with earthy tones. I paired the Gigi Pantskirt Jumpsuit with vintage Bakelite bangles & earrings in yellow, green, and brown, complimented by the It Girl pumps by Remix in mustard.

When you find a design that makes you feel like a glam goddess, you can easily justify getting it in more colours and/or prints especially if it happens to be on sale. I always recommend doing an internet search to see which online retailers carry that item and keeping an eye out for their end of season sales to score a bargain. Don’t shy away from ordering direct from the designer or Internationally with smaller shops, this is often how I find the best deals.

 

Don’t Let Your Dreams Just Be Dreams

Let me start off by saying a heartfelt thank you for the overwhelming response following last week’s post. I am so humbled by the outpouring of support and to those who took the time to share their stories with me. Together we can make a difference and be the ones to start the conversation.

With my closets overflowing, I have been rather conservative with my shopping in recent months and focused on appreciating what I already own. For ages, I lusted over owning a gorgeous vintage dress with three dimensional roses but they always seem to elude me; either selling in a heartbeat or simply way outside of my budget. One day, I spotted the magnificent Rachel Jensen (formally known as Chicago Chic) wearing a stunning wiggle dress with 3D roses by Heart My Closet. It inspired me to reach out to Heart My Closet in hopes of creating my dream dress without breaking the bank.

They did not disappoint, Cynthia (the lady behind Heart My Closet) sent me photos of a custom sleeveless dress they had created with cascading roses in a beautiful blush pink. I knew that was exactly what I wanted but in a more classic design; red roses set on a solid black background, a full circle skirt and cap sleeves. The price was sadly outside of my means at that time so I put my dream dress on the back burner once again. A few months later, I received a newsletter advertising 30% off sitewide so I immediately contacted Cynthia to see if my custom order dress would qualify for the sale…and she said YES!!!

The custom design process was quite simple: I sent inspiration photos for the style of scoop neckline and sleeves from another of their designs, matched with the full circle skirt of the original blush 3D rose dress. They requested a simple list of measurements and my dream dress was soon to be made a reality.  Although the production time was estimated at 4-6 weeks, my dress arrived in less than a month. It was love at first sight…it was everything I had ever imagined and so much more! I was blown away at the beauty of the intricately hand sewn roses cascading down the bodice and skirt.

Seeing as this was my first purchase from Heart My Closet, I was truly amazed that the fit was absolutely perfect. It fit like a glove! There is a fair amount of stretch that allows for ease and comfort, the cap sleeves aren’t restrictive whatsoever. I was incredibly impressed by the superior quality and craftsmanship; honestly well worth the regular $200 price tag. Each rose is painstakingly created by hand using satin ribbons. The bodice is fully lined, made from quality fabric that drapes effortlessly, and has an invisible back zipper closure.

I first discovered Heart My Closet when the show Mad Men was making its way into the mainstream. They made gorgeous reproduction of Joan’s classic sexy secretary pencil dresses. I had heard so many great things about their designs but never pulled the trigger for no good reason at all. Let me state for the record, I am kicking myself now for waiting so long. My dream dress has been hanging proudly in the closet since this past August, going unworn waiting for that special first occasion. There was no better time than New Year’s Eve to take her for a spin and I fell in love all over again.

Picture Perfect

With the explosion of social media in the past few years, there is a rampant trend that public figures are creating an appearance of a picture perfect life and their fans/followers are left with a false sense of what reality should be. This leads to feelings of constant disappointment, anxiety, depression, etc. It is easy to “fake” perfection in photos but impossible to know what an individual may be struggling with emotionally and/or mentally. Now more than ever, we all need to be talking about mental health and how it is a much bigger problem than society realizes.

I have been struggling a lot mentally feeling completely overwhelmed; with work, life, and everything in between. The effects of a harsh cold winter are really getting me down and filling me with constant anxiety. It wasn’t until my husband said to me one day, “you are depressed” and immediately I retorted “I am not!”. In my mind he was way off base because none of my tell tale signs of depression were present. But in all honesty, it slowly crept up on me over the past few months as the depression manifested in ways I never experienced before. I found myself often angry, irritable, short, annoyed, ill-tempered, etc. which is definitely not me in the slightest. Before I met my husband 7.5 years ago, I suffered from bouts of severe depression for most of my life and I knew those obvious cues (becoming severely recluse, crying, loss of appetite, social anxiety, etc). Since 2010, those bouts disappeared and I thought maybe I had finally beat it. Then in 2015, I got really sick as some of you know and the feelings of depression returned. Obviously it never truly went away but it lay dormant until life took some unexpected turns.

It is hard to put into words, but it is a daily struggle trying to do normal every day things. From getting dressed for work or always reaching for loose fitting yoga clothes, to not tidying up after myself at home…I do not feel like putting any effort into myself or do much of anything these days. Doing the simplest of tasks feels like being asked to climb the tallest mountain…utterly impossible. On my days off, I often wake up already feeling defeated and have zero motivation to do anything. If my husband asks me one more time to go downstairs to work out together, I think the overwhelming feeling of anxiety will eat me alive. My biggest struggle is keeping all these emotions inside and not letting it show on the outside to those around me. I too am guilty of “faking it”; a shield used to not let people in and a double edged sword. The one thing that keeps me going is knowing in time it will pass but I have to push through each day no matter how futile it may seem to do so.

The only way to overcome the overwhelming sense of darkness is to keep pushing through and leaning on those who love us the most. We have to look after ourselves and focus on the little things which result in small victories. Recently as you all know, I signed up for weekly sewing classes, something I have wanted to do forever but I always let anxiety and stress hold me back. It is hard to find the motivation to go to class each week but once I am there, I find myself in very a happy place. Hopefully once I learn more about sewing, it will become a bigger pass time to keep me busy doing another endeavor that I really enjoy.

In an effort to alleviate some of these paralyzing emotions, I focused on performing a massive closet clean out in hopes of re-homing lots of vintage pretties that simply do not get enough love these days. It was an eye opening exercise to say the least. I had quickly amassed a huge pile of clothes to list, realizing many of them had been a part of my collection for several years already. It felt so amazing to find new homes for the vast majority right away and I do intend to continue pulling items in the weeks to come. It is a truly rewarding form of therapy to declutter our lives and find peace with letting go of the things that we no longer need.

I am sharing my story in hopes to end the stigma surrounding mental health and bring awareness to those who find themselves wishing they had a picture perfect life like they see on social media. Instead of just stepping in front of the camera to “fake it”, now you can see the real person and the conflicts she is battling on the inside as well. Each step forward is one in the right direction to winning the battle of depression.

PS. I am sorry if this post was a bit all over the place, I tried my best to collect my thoughts in an organized manner but felt it was rather difficult to write while controlling all the mixed emotions.