me-made may: the roundup

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I’m kind of pinching myself – I made five dresses this month. Well, four if we want to get pedantic about it – the second one from the left was finished in April. But I finished them all within four weeks, even if the calendar designation shifted. Special interests, man. Sometimes Asperger’s pays.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a round-up of my monthly makes. Patterns used, total cost, difficulty level, and anything else you’d need to know to attempt these projects yourself.

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Me-Made May: Greening Up!

Pattern: self-drafted via Leena’s tutorial

Materials: green Walmart cotton (dress), vintage tablecloth (jacket & trim)

Cost: cotton $12, tablecloth $8, pattern free

Difficulty: minimal! This was the third dress I made from my self-drafted pattern, and I already had it down to a science. The cotton was crisp and sturdy, easy to cut and pin. I did accidentally sew an extra fold into one side of the waistband, so the bodice wrinkles unevenly. That’s entirely user error, though. Nothing to do with the pattern or the material.

Overall: Nothing too special, but a nice solid dress that can go fancy or not. I’m looking forward to wearing the set with rich browns and oranges come autumn.

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Me-Made May: Medievalist

Pattern: self-drafted via Leena’s

Materials: king-sized cotton sheet via Goodwill

Cost: sheet $4, pattern free

Difficulty: minimal. Drafting the Leena’s pattern took a solid three hours, but it wasn’t confusing, just very specific. If I read the instructions carefully, I had no trouble. Putting together the dress was also somewhat painstaking – I cut out panels of border print and interspersed them with regular, which took another hour or three. No major hurdles, though. Just the normal fiddly bits of sewing.

Overall:  Honestly, I don’t love this dress as much as I thought I would. I was going for speed and decided to gather the skirt instead of pleating, which makes a big difference. Gathering reminds me of doll dresses and small children; I really prefer the precision of pleats. Moreover, in my excitement over this fabric, I forgot that beige isn’t my best color. I’m not a big fan of nudes. Give me boldness! But I do really love the fabric. I’ve never seen anything else like it, and it delights me to own such a singularly unique dress. And as I’ve said before, it’ll be perfect for the summer Renn Faire circuit.

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Me-Made May: Simplicity 65C

Pattern: Simplicity 65C

Materials: vintage cotton curtains I’d had in my stash for years

Cost: fabric free, pattern $2

Difficulty: moderate. Vintage patterns are cut very differently from modern ones. I knew that going in, but I wasn’t prepared for just how roomy the bust turned out to be. I used the size 20, ostensibly 40-32-free, and I still had to take in the bodice a good six inches. Those housewives’ cups runneth the hell over. Better too big than too small, though. After a few pinnings, I got a perfect fit.

Overall:  My photos of this dress were some of my favorites from this entire year so far, so I’m just a little biased here. But seriously, I love everything about it. The cap sleeves, the pleating at the hips, all the colors. And this dress is soft. Those curtains must be ancient – the fabric feels brushed and worn in the best way. This is definitely a dress to pull out for summer’s finest.

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Me-Made May: Strawberries in the Sun

Pattern: self-drafted via Leena’s

Materials: vintage cotton via Jubilee Street

Cost: fabric $52, rickrack $12, pattern free

Difficulty: moderate. I used my trusty self-drafted pattern, but I made a few modifications that proved tricky to fit. I wanted cap sleeves and a v-neck, both of which I had to stitch and unpick multiple times. Sleeves, man. Not my favorite. Plus, I only had three and a half yards of expensive vintage fabric, so I had exactly zero room to mess up.

Overall:  So…I know I’ve said this about a lot of dresses, but this really is my favorite dress. Ever. Period. It’s everything I want in a dress distilled into one perfect garment. I’d wanted a vintage fruit print for ages and ages, and this one is plucked right from my dreams. Seriously, it’s exactly what I’d imagined. And it was damn well a labor of love: I sewed all the rickrack by hand. I love knowing that I own such a perfectly me dress – and that I made it myself.

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Me-Made May: Hap Birf to Me!

Pattern: Vogue 2960

Materials: cotton via Jo-Ann Fabric

Cost: fabric $17, buttons $6, pattern $5 (on major sale – vintage Vogues usually go for $30+!)

Difficulty: maximum. Oy. That’s about all I can say – and the worst part? Most of it was my own damn fault. I detailed most of the problems in the original post, but I’ve thought of more since. First of all, like I said above, I should really size down when it comes to vintage bodices. That goes double for sleeveless ones. I have narrower shoulders than my bust and arms would suggest, so while this pattern fits me there, it keeps sliding off my shoulders. A little Googling told me that multiple people have had this problem with Vogue 2960, though. A fellow sewing blogger drafted a back dart to keep the straps in place, which I plan to try out. (Reason seven billion why I love the blogosphere. We’re a human search engine.)

Second, I’m not usually one for facing and lining. Unless it’s the dead of winter, I can’t help seeing it as a waste of time and fabric. I can usually get away without it, but…not this time. I really should have used the facing. The low-cut bodice plus the flimsiness of the cotton plus the mandated bralessness means I’m basically seconds from popping out. I need some reinforcement. I think I’ll go back and add some when I work on the back darts.  I really do like this dress, and I’d like to wear it without constant adjusting.

Overall: An ambitious project! I’m proud that I finished it, even if I did spend over two hours cursing my buttonhole attachment. I love the full skirt and  the big white buttons. And it’s my first light purple garment, like, ever. I developed a recent hankering for the color, only to find I had absolutely none.

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And that’s my first Me-Made May! What about you? Any projects you’ve undertaken this month that you’d like to share?

shedding

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I had planned a whole Bettie Page thing for my beach visit on Saturday, but when the mercury shoots up to 90F (32C), one’s retro resolve withers. Hair down, sunglasses in lieu of makeup, no cone bras or garter belts. I rolled down my bikini bottoms to show off my new ink; without the high waist broadcasting my vintage cred, I looked like every other girl on the beach. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a 24/7 vintage girl anyway. My more dedicated counterparts wear pin curls to the gym and silk stockings to bed. I admire them for it, but my loungewear is decidedly loungewear. I wear petticoats to the grocery store, but the minute I’m home, it’s novelty slippers and my boyfriend’s Eagle Scout t-shirt. Gotta turn off the panopticon sometimes.

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hatpins & hat pins

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For just a few days every spring, the riverside park between Winooski and Burlington clouds with soft perfume. Lilacs are my very favorite flower. They’re in my blood, as family lore holds: my mother got a fresh bouquet in the hospital the day I was born.

Word to the wise: they do not taste anywhere near as good as they smell. Last year I tried to make lilac wine, to the retching of all. At least now I’ve got a whole cask of nail polish remover.

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I can’t go swimming yet, what with the new tattoo, but nothing will stop me lazing by the river and hoping. It’s the perfect place to debut some birthday vintage from my mom. The dress is from Etsy, the hat from a little shop near her work. I fell in love with the dress for the buttons, and I’m delighted that the hat matches so perfectly. I honored it with my little silver hat brooch, a hat pin to match my hatpins.

lilacsIX lilacsVII lilacsXVAs of yesterday, I’m Chronically Vintage’s latest featured blogger! Jessica interviews a different vintage lady every month, and I’m the May centerfold. Check out my Deep Thoughts on Maleficent, shirtwaist dresses, and dinner-table fights.

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Dress: ’40s vintage, via Honey Meanie Vintage

Hat: vintage, via brick-and-mortar shop

Brooch, belt, & shoes: thrifted

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me-made may: hap birf to me!

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Yesterday I turned 22!

(Before you ask: I loathe the Taylor Swift song of the same name, and all those who have sent it to me have been taken out back and made examples of. You’ve been warned.)

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My family makes a Big Deal about birthdays. I’m an only child, so there were only three to celebrate each year; I suspect we would’ve put in less effort were there more of us to plan for. We do the gifts, the cake, the balloons and streamers blanketing the rafters. We cook and laugh and enjoy a closeness that I’ve come to realize is pretty unusual. In the past few years, though, I’ve felt weirdly pressured to pretend I don’t freaking love my birthday, because adults who still care about it are…weird? Stunted? I don’t even know.

But my mom turned [redacted – a lady never tells] last month, and we did the whole cake-and-streamers thing for the umpteenth time, and it was still great. It’s sad that people think they have to outgrow joy.

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We ate dumplings and sponge cake on the back porch, as we have done for my past fifteen birthdays, and drank whiskey by the fire, as we have done for my past three. I wore my new purple dirndl dress, which just happened to be one of the hardest things I have ever made. Pull up a chair for my litany of woes.

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First of all, it was my first time sewing a button placket, and my copy of Vogue 2960 was not at all clear. I had to reset the placement at least five or six times. And this fabric is pretty thin – it doesn’t take kindly to pinholes, of which I made dozens. It’s still a little puckered; I hope a wash will sort it out. After I finally got the placement right, I spent another two hours messing with my Kenmore’s buttonhole attachment before finally giving up and sewing them by hand. I think my buttonhole foot is missing a screw; it keeps rattling around, and I’m pretty sure I’m not doing anything wrong.

Among my other troubles:

  • Cutting the bodice way, way too wide and having to take it in twice
  • Cutting the shoulders too loose and having to yank the armholes up
  • Misplacing the bust gathers on multiple tries
  • Realizing that the shape of said gathers doesn’t suit any bra I own, and resigning myself to going without for these photos

Yeah. It was a trip.

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But, all tantrums aside, this dress more or less resembles the pattern cover. Most of the flaws aren’t visible unless you squint. And I love the skirt. With a 130-inch sweep, it might be the fullest skirt I own. However numerous my bodice woes, my skirts always turn out well.

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I picked up this hat at a flea market over the weekend, where I got four hats for four dollars. I also picked up some fresh ink, which I’m kicking myself for – I love the new design, but it’s supposed to hit 85 this weekend and I’m not allowed to go swimming. Tiny violin for me.

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me-made may: strawberries in the sun

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You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to share these! I made this dress over a month ago, and it’s been in heavy rotation since. I’m delighted with every aspect of how it came out – but, due to the stipulations of my latest project, I couldn’t talk about it until today.

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A few weeks ago, I was approached by CutOutAndKeep.net to participate in their blogger interview series. “Send us an outfit featuring a DIY garment,” they said, “and we’ll post your tutorial and a bit about your blog.” Great – I had just about finished this dress, so I stitched the last few seams, threw it on for pictures, and wrote up a tutorial. Then I sat on my haunches and waited for interview to go live…only to be told that it would take three. more. weeks. I understand why and all, but still – I am not known for my patience.

But! Three weeks later, here it is. Not only can I (finally) share this shoot, I can show off my tutorial and blogger interview over at CutOutAndKeep. Check it out here!

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Dress: made by me, with vintage fabric from Jubilee Street

Hat: vintage, via Fancy Lucky Vintage

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage

Shoes: thrifted

This dress is actually the reason I bought this hat. I realized I did not have a red pin-on hat, and that simply would not do. I meant this post to be its debut, but I accidentally blogged it two more times in the intervening weeks. Whoops.

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hey red

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So apparently, posting pictures out of order during changing seasons really shows. I took these almost two weeks ago, and the foliage has exploded since.

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Consider this a preview of my summer vintage look. I’m never sure how to not look like a slob in the hottest months, and this year will be extra challenging: I wasn’t quite doing the head-to-toe period thing last year. It’s hard to do gloves and a corset in the dog days. But I’ve recently found some vintage sandals that fit my giant feet. As long as humidity doesn’t crush my curls, we’re golden.

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Dress: ’60s vintage, via Rusty Zipper

Hat: ’40s vintage, via Fancy Lucky Vintage

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage

Pearls: vintage, thrifted

Sunglasses & sandals: thrifted

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me-made may: simplicity 65c

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This dress was a fluke, a quirk, a stroke of luck. Whatever you want to call it, it was never meant to exist – but I’m really, really glad it does.

A week or two ago, I bought a vintage copy of Simplicity 65c for $2 on Etsy. I didn’t realize until after receiving it that this pattern is actually out of print, aka not available anywhere. Seriously, I googled around, and the only result I could find was that one Etsy shop. And I got one of the only existing copies for $2. I feel just a little like I ripped off the seller, but not enough to actually pay more money.

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Shortly thereafter, my mom sent over a big bag of vintage fabric from my grandmother, including an absolutely marvelous gold lace. I thought instantly of my Simplicity, which was due to arrive any day. Simplicity 65c would look perfect in white linen with a gold lace overlay. Given that I’d never used this pattern before, though, and that vintage lace from one’s grandmother is not a material to cut into lightly, I thought I’d make a practice dress. I bought these cabbage-rose curtains years ago at a junk shop, and I decided they’d be perfect. The print is big enough to cover any mistakes – the pattern has a tricky neckline – and the material is so, so soft. This dress will enter heavy rotation once the humidity starts climbing.

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To avoid upstaging the blooms, I went for minimal accessories: pearls, Grecian sandals, and my fur hat from White River Junction. Simplicity indeed.

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junction jollies

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No outfit today, but I finally got my White River Junction photos uploaded and edited! I took way too many.  I remember being a kid on vacation and bemoaning my mother stopping every few feet to snap away. It took me only two decades and change to turn into her – Josh put a moratorium on photos after the fifth hour of “wait, just one more”.

White River Junction has two things in abundance: spas and meditation centers. I swear I saw at least five of each in the tiny downtown area. It also boasts a truly startling amount of chicken-themed folk art. I’ve never met anyone who loves chickens as much as this town collectively seems to, and I’m not sure I’d want to.

Fortunately, any small New England town is also lined with antiques shops, and exploring them consumed a good 90% of our visit.

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I bought the one on the right!

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We capped off the weekend with three hours in the best vintage store I’ve ever been to. It’s nested inside an antique furniture shop, so it’s hard to find unless you’re looking. But if you’re looking, Mainly Vintage is a magical experience. I mean that as literally as a skeptic can: after picking a rack bare, I’d return to it and find still more gems I hadn’t noticed the first time.

Here is the hat shelf…

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…and the other hat shelf…

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…and the other other hat shelf.

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And, to my astonishment, four vintage bags identical to my own!

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me-modified may: red and grey

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This outfit is my standard vintage fare: day dress, practical shoes, nothing fancy. I last blogged this dress less than a month ago, but that’s what staples are for. I wasn’t planning on taking pictures today, but I got antsy sitting at the bus stop and decided to noodle around with my camera. And I love – love – how these photos turned out. Love. Good light and fresh curls can really elevate the everyday.

(Yes, that means I’m sitting here sorting photos at work. Shh.)

It fits (albeit tangentially) my Me-Made theme, too. This dress is vintage, but it was always slightly too big. A few weeks ago I took in the waist, added a zipper, and tucked a few pleats into the neckline – what a difference! The fit is so much smoother.

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Shots like these really hammer home how much my photography has improved in the past three years. I mean, look at my first non-webcam blog shoot. I used to snark on bloggers whose photography was too “magazine-esque”, but let’s be real: I was envious. Why is aspiring to express your aesthetic as best you can a bad thing? If it is, I’ll be the crab who gets out of the bucket, and I won’t look back.

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Dress: vintage, via Barge Canal Market

Hat: vintage, via Fancy Lucky Vintage

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage

Bag: vintage, thrifted

Brooch & belt: thrifted

Shoes: Kmart

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me-made may: medievalist

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This dress feels marvelously medieval to me. Something about the square neck and the tapestry design. Like I said last time I blogged it, I feel like it could go straight from a Faire to a fifties fete with barely a change in accessories. Today I played up both aspects.  The scarf and glasses (new, from Zenni Optical) were a nod to the ’50s; my gladiator sandals summoned antiquity.

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If you’re interested in submitting to my new magazine, you have until June 15th! I am willing to allow a day or two of leeway, but I want to have all the essays edited and laid out for the first issue’s publication on August 1st.

Please send all submissions to beginning.our.dissent@gmail.com. You may copy/paste them into the body of the text, send an attached Word document, or upload them to Google Drive. Check out the FAQ page here if you have questions. I want to read anything you’ve got!

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Dress: made by me

Shoes: Kmart

Glasses: Zenni Optical

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