Adventures in Vintage Dressmaking

The great sewing motivator is upon us- International Quilt Market is this weekend in Houston, Texas!  And there’s just something about Market that says “Time to sew something cute to wear!”  I’ve been resisting this urge for a year now, as last Fall was my first market and I told myself, nope, I’m not a garment sewer, but time changes everything and this Fall I’ve succomb to the desire.  Yes, I’m setting my quilt blocks aside and sewing a dress!

I must confess, this isn’t my absolute first time out of the gate when it comes to garments.  I dabbled a bit in 4-H  when I was younger, but it’s been 18 years since I’ve attempted a dress for myself.  Back in 9th grade I made this navy blue satin mermaid style gown for the Homecoming dance.  I ran across it the other day actually (oh the things hidden in the depths of my sewing room closet), and could hardly believe my eyes!  Oh, those meticulously covered buttons!  That lace overlaid bodice!  That horribly shiny satin that snags if you look at it funny!  The memories.  I don’t think I’ve sewn a single 5/8″ seam since then.

Homecoming Gown

….that is, until yesterday.  So, first order of business: spend as little money as humanly possible, which hopefully meant using a pattern I already have.  Luckily, I’ve collected a random assortment of vintage patterns over the past few years…just picking them up at garage sales now and then, feeling like I needed to give them a loving home.

Vintage Dress 01

A quick flip through and I’ve found it- Simplicity #2073, you’re adorable and in my size- congrats lucky winner!  I couldn’t resist this darling flared skirt and boat-neck top.  Yes, it’s a shorts suit with a wrap skirt, but for our purposes, let’s just call you a dress with cute unders.  Picked out a pretty plaid, with a cheery yellow for the belt.  Yes, I pre-washed it, against all of my quilter’s instincts. :)

Vintage Dress 02

I don’t remember ever ironing pattern pieces before, but this lady is following directions to a t, so iron the pieces I did.  Worked like a charm until my daughter thought they were trash and literally wadded them up into a 2″ ball (gasp!).  Miraculously, I just pressed them again and would never even be able to tell the difference.

Vintage Dress 03

There are only 9 pieces, but it must have taken me the better part of an entire day to cut them out…adjusting, readjusting, pinning…I was so terrified of ruining the dress before I even started stitching!

Vintage Dress 04

I have to say, for a 60 year old pattern, the directions were pretty darned straight forward.  I was afraid there would be all sorts of secret cryptic sewing verbiage to decode.  Nope.  Clear as pie…if pie were clear.

Vintage Dress 05

Yes, this was pretty much my afternoon today…Law & Order marathon while the kids napped, and yes, that homemade pumpkin pie is precariously close to the fabric.  Don’t worry, the dress came out of the ordeal unscathed!

Vintage Dress 06

So I finished it tonight!  Shorts suit and all!  I seriously want to show it to you, but you’ll have to wait until this weekend.  It was too dark to snap pics tonight, and tomorrow, it’s getting neatly packed, and ready for Market.  Until then, happy sewing- I hope you’re working on something fabulous!


High Chair Heist

Woohoo!  The Dritz Mystery Box Challenge train is making a stop on my blog today!  My sweet friend, Jennifer, over at Ellison Lane is hosting a super fun week of challenges and giveaways to help our friends over at Dritz celebrate their fantastic new website, and I’m so happy to be a part of it!

Dritz Mystery Box Challenge Graphics

So…the challenge…Dritz sent me a big box filled with oodles of goodies to play with, and all I had to do was have fun and come up with a project that used at least 5 of the items.  Score!  Best challenge ever!  The box was absolutely packed with fabulous notions to work with, so I knew this challenge was going to be seriously fun.  (PS- If you’re drooling over this loot like I was, be sure to hop over to Jennifer’s blog for a chance to win your own Dritz Mystery Box full of awesomeness!  She’s giving away 3 of them!)

High Chair 05

SO, what did I make?  I’ve been wanting to tackle this project for pretty much a year now, and as soon as I heard about this challenge, I knew this was what I’d be making.  Didn’t matter if they sent me clips, clamps, needles or bleu cheese- I’M MAKING HIGHCHAIR COVERS IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO!  (luckily they didn’t send bleu cheese, and my nose thanks them).  I was psyched to see tons of great items, perfect for the high chair cover I’ve been dreaming of.

High Chair 01

I love IKEA.  I really do.  And I love these IKEA BLÅMES highchairs- in fact, my twin toddler boys eat in them 3 times a day.  They’re sturdy and they match my kitchen, but something tells me that the person who designed them probably isn’t a parent…or at least a parent of twin toddler boys with exuberant eating habits.

High Chair 02

That’s right- these things leak food like water through a sieve.  Front, back, sides…doesn’t matter how you slice it- an enormous amount of food WILL end up on the floor, and the majority of that food is coming from inside the seat (not over the top of the tray).

What else do I love about them?  Well, for starters, the wood surface is about as easy to clean as white silk.  I wipe, I spray, I scrub, I scrape, and it still looks like it’s been through Iwo Jima.

High Chair 03

There’s no doubt about it- if I’m going to preserve any sliver of my sanity, these chairs need covers that eliminate the holes, and hide the horror that they’ve endured.  And as much as I wanted to shop my stash for some darling designer fabrics , I knew this puppy needed to be more durable than any quilting cotton could ever dream to be.  Towels.  Thick, sturdy, indestructible towels are just the ticket.

My plan?  Improvise.

Step 1:  Drape the towel over the chair.

High Chair 07

Step 2: Randomly start pinning things.

High Chair 08

3: Randomly start cutting things.

High Chair 10

High Chair 09

Step 4:  Serge. Sew.  Repeat.

Notice all of my fabulous Dritz products??  Ah!  My favorites were these awesome “Getta Grip” sewing clips!  These are going to come in handy for so many projects!  What else did I use?  The mat, the cutter, the elastic (yes, it was sparkly), the needles, and the Ezy-Pull Bodkin (ps- that’s your new nickname, BODKIN).

High Chair 11

Voila!  One totally improvised I-hope-I-can-replicate-it terry cloth high chair cover that I can shake out into the yard, and throw in the washing machine after a big messy meal!

High Chair 12

The leg holes are little elastic openings…no food shall pass!

High Chair 13

And there’s even a cute pocket on the back for bibs, utensils, toys, vodka…

High Chair 14

Now, on to make another before I forget how I made the first one!  If all goes smoothly, I’ll snap some pics and post a little tutorial for all you BLÅMES victims owners out there.

High Chair 15

And that’s it for my Dritz Mystery Challenge project!  I think it was a success, and my floors are already thanking me.  What will you make with all of your Dritz notions???  Don’t forget to hop on over to Ellison Lane to enter for a chance to win your own mystery box of goodies!


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