December 26, 2014

A Red Silk Taffeta Christmas Dress

About three years ago my best friends gave me a length of red silk taffeta for my birthday--real silk taffeta! I quietly determined that I wanted most of it to go towards my first Civil War ballgown (which, sadly, has yet to materialize) but couldn't help wishing for a vintage-styled Christmas dress.


The design was heavily inspired by Audrey Hepburn's 50s dresses and some vintage pattern covers. I used a 1950s mail order pattern from the stash (my grandparents found it in the dumpster!) for the princess lines, drafted the yoke myself, and shortened the sleeves from the jacket in the pattern. The pattern was just my size and fit perfectly, no adjustments. I love vintage patterns!

This dress was a dream to sew up. I had never worked with silk or silk taffeta before so I was a bit nervous starting out, not knowing how the fabric would react to my handling, cutting, marking and stitching. If you've never sewn with silk taffeta before, I would highly recommend it! The taffeta gives it a subtle texture so the pieces aren't slippery at all; it cuts precisely, presses neatly, doesn't wrinkle badly (at least mine didn't) and has a lovely sheen and rustle.

Four cautions: the silk does show pin/stitch marks (I would recommend silk pins--also, this does make ripping/resewing a bit of a stresser); don't get water on it (it will spot, so watch that steam setting on your iron to see that it doesn't drip!); the fabric does fray, so you will need to finish your seams; and if you wash it, I am told it will lose its crispness.

Eventually I hope to add a large bow to the back waistline, redo the zipper and make a headband or hairbow to go with it!
I wish I had pictures of me wearing the dress; I actually didn't get to wear it the past two Christmases so it has only seen the light of one Christmas Day and a couple of swing dances. Maybe next year I can get together a photoshoot!  That would be so fun.

September 30, 2014

'Lace in Combat' Outfit and Some Thoughts on New Projects

Hello all! Awhile since I have updated the blog but I have been very busy both costuming and acting in a play. I hope to have the pics from that up soon. In the meantime, here is my latest doll creation: the 'Lace in Combat' outfit, featuring an army jacket, dress, leggings, necklace and boots made by yours truly.

I have dozens of ideas and inspiration for new projects and new posts to revitalize my blog. I hope now that the play is over I'll have more time, but we'll see. There are so many things grabbing for my attention. I believe I forgot to mention that I snagged a Singer 4411 Heavy-Duty during the Labor Day sale at Joann's and I have been thoroughly enjoying it! It sews twice as fast as a normal machine and for a speed sewer like me, it's heaven. Easy to thread and use too--my first machine with a top-loading bobbin, if you can believe it. I promptly christened it 'George'.

Aaaaand with the new machine has come a new interest in sewing...I've been picking up half-yards of fabrics on sale for doll dresses since there is a Joann's now five minutes from my house (yay!) and a Hobby Lobby ten minutes away. I think it might probably turn out to be too much temptation in the long run, but I'm having fun for now! ;)

I've also been thinking about doing a 'cheap but nice looking college outfit of the day' series, lol...would any of you be interested in that? Most of my finds are from thrift stores and it's fun figuring out how to dress nicely on the cheap.

Also there is a list of sewing projects running through my head...I really want to make a winter coat, have purchased the fashion fabric for it in fact, so that is a major one...there's an infinity scarf or two....a drapey sweater orange skirt and a teal sweater I want to refashion...and a whole bunch of doll dresses too. I guess we'll see what happens. ;)

July 16, 2014

Cecile's Summer Dress

Addy enjoys modeling.
This dress was a request from a client--she wanted one of higher quality than American Girl's version and more similar to the book illustration as well.

American Girl's cheaply made and sucky version...
(not my photo)

...vs. the book illustration!
I had so much fun making this dress! From the search for an appropriately yellow fabric and mint trim just the right shade,

I couldn't find yellow striped fabric, so I sewed down stripes of cream-colored ribbon instead.

 to the pretty lace on the petticoat and the pleating of all that tiny trim (it may seem tedious but I adore it) 

to the meticulous skirt gauging, I enjoyed every minute. I don't know, I just really enjoy the challenge of making something similar to a picture, finding the right fabrics and trims and deconstructing the pattern from mere clues. And this one was a bit of a doozy--look at those sleeves! And that yoke! 

I wish I had a cage crinoline to show off that full skirt!
The blouse pattern was one I modified (slashed & spread it as well as added a yoke) from the American Girl Kirsten patterns. The sleeves were from Josefina's patterns, again heavily modified. And then I just added a full & long skirt (to fit over a cage crinoline) and a high collar, and there you go! 

I don't know about you, but I think my version is vastly superior to American Girl's *sniffs*

Yellow Fabric: thrift store blouse
Mint Trim: Hobby Lobby
Lining: a sheet my grandma gave me //  cotton lace from JoAnn's

June 17, 2014

Addy's Apple Picking Dress

Addy loves this pumpkin-colored paisley dress! It's trimmed in cheerful red, with puffed sleeves and a yoked/pleated bodice. It even has a white collar and cuffs, very accurate.

I took inspiration from several Civil War CDVs for this dress, and sewed it up with special details such as piping at the yoke line and a full gauged skirt. You can find it in the shop

I think Addy rather likes it, don't you?

June 12, 2014

Isabel and Cecile

Isabel is from England, 1592
Two lovely dolls in the shop today--I found them at a second-hand store and as I already own each, have decided to find new homes for these two lovely ladies.

Cecile is from France, 1711

For those who don't know, Isabel and Cecile were once a part of the "Girls of Many Lands" collection, which was discontinued by American Girl several years ago. Both of these dolls are in perfect, collector's condition. For more photos, please visit my Etsy shop. They would make wonderful gifts!

May 15, 2014

Doll Clothes, Vintage Sewing Machines, and an Etsy Shop!

Lots of big news here! I have finally, after much deliberation, opened my own Etsy shop. At the moment I am primarily making doll clothes but am open to requests/commissions of another nature. (Email me at ladysresource (at) to discuss orders or if you have any questions.)

Anywhoo, on to the pretties!

'Caroline's Herb Gathering Dress'

The linen apron was made from a pair of pants I got off the 50 cent rack at Salvation Army!
This ensemble was inspired by the newest addition to American Girl's historical line, the regency-era Caroline. It features a cotton printed dress, linen apron, necklace, and a basket of accessories for tramping through the woods.

Gathering basket, bandages, dried flowers and real glass bottles!

'When Wishes Come True' dress

And here we have Kit modeling the "When Wishes Come True" comes with a tiny 'Wish Dust' necklace! Both ensembles are for sale in my Etsy shop. Plus more to come ;)

The most challenging part of all of this is opening a shop without any sewing supplies! All of my sewing stuff is still packed away in storage and I am making do with what my grandmother has lying around....which means I get to sew everything on her 1963 Singer Featherweight!!

This machine is a dream. It's an absolute dream. At 50 years old, it sews better than either of my modern (name-brand) sewing machines--although it only does one stitch. It takes heavy fabrics very well. It's lovely and adorable and tiny and quirky and very, very quiet. My grandma bought it in 1963 to patch my grandpa's Navy jeans and paid $3 a month on it. (!) I think I shall christen it 'Betsy'.

My grandma also graciously donated the use of her dining room and dining room table, you can see all of my various upcoming projects. ;) I've never had a room specifically devoted to sewing, nor a large enough surface (besides the floor) to cut on so I'm very grateful.

May 7, 2014

Granny Stripe Afghan in 'Canyon'

What's portable, quick and easy to work on? Crocheting! In the past year of transition, with my sewing stuff neatly packed away, I've found myself turning once again to needle arts...kind of where I began.

I started this afghan last April; Tina over at the Quiet Home had made a lovely, stunning, cozy rendition and I just couldn't resist making one of my own. I used paint chips to pick out the colors (my favorite part!), partially inspired by Tina's blanket, and headed home, yarn in tow. The pattern is very simple, works up beautifully, and is a joy to behold. It took me until January to complete simply because I didn't work on it constantly or consistently.

All of the colors except the blue stripe are Vanna's Choice; I think it took three skeins of each color and I had a bunch left over. The blue is some random, more expensive wool...can't recall the name of it. I used this page to determine the size I wanted it to be.

My comfy-cozy sage green chair...hopefully it will reside in my room permanently one of these days! has been a "comfort project" of sorts, and so very easy and transportable! My friend Bethany and I were just discussing how jolting it is to go back to sewing after knitting or crocheting, to find that you have to set aside a whole chunk of time devoted solely to that, rather than being able to work on your project while someone is talking or while listening to sermons, reading, watching television, etc. Sewing, by contrast, almost makes one feel less productive. Almost ;)

Afghan making is so addicting! I almost want to make one in every color scheme available. Be on the lookout for more in future ;)