Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Go Visit the Blue Gardenia

I've been asked to do a guest post! I'm so honored to be Denise's first Gardenia Garment Girl. It's a review of the dress that I recently finished and wore to the wedding in Texas, made using a 1950s Butterick pattern I bought from Denise.
Does this pique your interest? Go check it out at The Blue Gardenia!

Thanks, Denise! You're lovely!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scarlet is Ready for the Beach!

Recent interchange in a restaurant:

Roland (husband... observing a woman walking by): I hate maxi dresses.

Kyle (son): Me too.

Me: I'm making me one.


Me: It's from a vintage pattern that is remarkably similar to the dress that lady had on.

Me: For the beach trip.

End of that discussion.

So, not only have I made a maxi dress from a vintage pattern, but I made it from fabric that used to be curtains a la Scarlett O'Hare. If she were going to the beach and not to a prison to see Rhett Butler. These curtains:

About 4 yards of a soft cotton batik. That glinty spot you see is some beading I had added for fun. It became a problem.

The pattern I used, McCall's 3246, copyright 1972:
I don't actually have that much to say about it. Bust 34 is really a little small for me, but there isn't much fitting. I did a tissue fit, resulting in a full bust alteration (FBA) which added some needed width for the midriff. I made the midriff bands
a little longer on each side (somewhat unscientifically), and added 1/2" to the lower side edges of the back bodice which was plenty. I did narrow the shoulders about an inch.

I didn't have the instructions, but this is a pretty easy and straightforward pattern. It doesn't call for lining, and I didn't want to anyway. Remember, beach. Hot temps. The V-neck has a foldover lining, and I secured it with some machine embroidery using one of the fancy stitches on my machine. I used the same thread hogging stitch around the midriff as well.
Oh! When I did the FBA, it also lengthens the bodice a bit. I removed that length along the center edge, eliminating any gaping. That's also what's causing the midriff band to sag a bit at the sides, something I can live with. If you want to see the embroidery better, I think clicking on the pic zooms you in a bit.

I did have to shorten the dress a bit, and initially, I just gathered the full widths of the rectangle, but that turned out to be way too much volume around the middle. I had traced the skirt pattern, which has an a-line shape, effectively removing about 8 inches per side.
Yep, the midriff band does sag a bit around the sides, and while I know why (see above), I didn't realize it until after all the embroidery was done. Remember... beach dress, not a couture gown.

I used an invisible zipper which admittedly is not as 1972 as it is 2012, but it was the only matching one I had. The seams and embroidery don't match up perfectly... beach dress. Now for a little test... the back skirt panels had to be pieced because of the fancy beading on the curtain which was sewn into a seam, not just put on top. I'm hoping it's not too noticeable.
I haven't gotten Roland's opinion, but frankly, my dear... well, you know the rest!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What We Found in a Box from the Attic

Apologies in advance for the long, rambly nature of this post. There are funny pictures near the end, I promise!

I'm not sure if this is a common phenomenon, but I'm just going to throw it out there, and you tell me...

It has to do with my mom (in her early 70s), and what she does with the stuff that she owns that she periodically "goes through" to see what to keep and what to purge. I'm pretty sure everyone does this (well, except for those people on the Hoarders shows) at some point or another. But it's what happens with the stuff she doesn't want.

When my grandmother died, it was the first time I really noticed a quirky little habit. There were things that were my grandmothers that my mother deemed "valuable". Mostly, they fell into 2 categories: either something my grandmother had made, or something that was indeed expensive when first purchased. It is hard for me to give away things that I paid a lot for, so I do get that. Isn't that why eBay was invented? Craig's List? Please don't answer that.

Anyway, here's what she did with my grandmother's stuff that she couldn't bear to part with. She packed it up in boxes, and mailed it to me. So then I had to decide. Do other people's moms do that?

This is kind of a long introduction to what happened on this latest trip to Dallas, and the boxes in the garage. There were only 2 that my brother had dragged down from the attic, which is now thankfully empty. Have you ever been in an attic in Texas? In the summer? I'm not sure why they even exist, except that there aren't basements.

These boxes held what she thought were clothes. Size 4 clothes. So they hadn't been looked at in, well, decades. Which meant now, with vanity sizing, they were the equivalent of size 0 clothes in today's world.

Sure enough... clothes from the 70s. And mostly clothes that my mother had made during her tenure at Richard Brooks Fabrics, a high end fabric store in Dallas. There were a couple of stunners. I went in with the idea that we would be very critical, and for the most part I (we) were. She's mailing a box of them to me, but these were the best of the best, and some, I'm mining for the fabric alone. There were several full silk skirts that will hopefully evolve into something wearable today.

But then, there was this:

Can you see the tag in the blouse? This is RTW! Probably a gift from my cat-obsessed grandmother to my mom. (And no, neither of us is keeping it... for one, can you see that weird stain at the hem?) It's a corduroy maxi dress/jumper with a long sleeve cotton blouse. We thing the belt really buckled in the back. How about a better look?

The fabric for the mouse matches the fabric in the blouse! Oooh, so matchy-matchy!! But wait! There's more!
No corduroy maxi jumper/blouse/applique ensemble is complete without a matching cropped jacket!! Sadly, it too has the same weird stain. Mom did wash the whole she-bang to see if it could be given to, I don't know, maybe a wacky vintage store?

Well, all I can say is that she is reportedly mailing the box of other skirts, etc next week, and this better not be in there!!

Hope you had a good laugh though! For the record, she doesn't remember ever wearing it, or even having it in the first place. Clearly, she's had to block it from her memory!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Black Shorts from a Frankenpattern

Chihuly Update: Yesterday evening there was a hailstorm that hit Dallas, and specifically the neighborhoods that included the Arborteum.

View more videos at:

Only one sculpture suffered damage. Read the entire story here.

Back to the Shorts!

Just to refresh your memory from yesterday, here they are again:

The basic pattern I used was Kwik Sew 3614, and this is the 3rd time, so I've got the fit down pretty good. The thing that I was never quite satisfied with was the pockets. Behold the new pockets and see if you can guess which pattern I used (I used a flash and fill light to enhance some of the details on the black twill):
Did you guess? How about now:
If you guessed the Colette Rooibos Pattern you would be right! But wait! Isn't that a dress? Yes, but the piece for the pocket area worked great. Basically, I took the original front piece for the shorts:
It's kind of hard to see, but overlaying the Rooibos exterior pocket section piece, I traced the top, curved line, and the right edge, indicated by the left and right arrows. The center arrow indicates the cutting line for the top portion, to the waistband piece that is sewn to the (not seen) pocket facing. I used the Rooibos instructions for sewing assembly.
I did want to preserve my original pattern piece though, so I traced new pieces. The right center piece did have a seam allowances added running down the left side:
Again, the curved pocket piece I used is the original Rooibos piece, shortened to the length of the shorts. Yes, there is a seam from the waistband to the hem that is completely off center, but with my black fabric, it's not noticeable at all. Or at least minimally noticeable. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, and check back for a reply directly in the comments.

Check out the cute lining:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Tonight's the premiere of the new old TV series, Dallas. That's not really what this post is about, but I did just get back from a trip to Dallas. I was born and raised in Dallas, and much of my family still lives there, or not too far away from there. The primary reason for the trip was to attend the wedding of my cousin's daughter (does that make her my second cousin)?

It was a beautiful wedding held in East Texas, albeit a bit hot and steamy. I wore a dress that was hot off the sewing machine and as yet unblogged. Stay tuned for that.

Monday, my sister, Susan, drove over from Ft. Worth, and we all met at the Dallas Arboretum to take in the Chihuly Exhibit. With temps approaching 100F, we dressed appropriately and stuck to the shady areas.
Me, Mom, Susan
Roland came too, and he got some fabulous pictures (this one notwithstanding). I'm wearing a new pair of shorts I made and stay tuned for the post tomorrow. It's a combination Kwik Sew and Colette Patterns creation. Have I piqued your interest?

In the meantime, enjoy a few more pictures from the exhibit:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kyle!

22 years ago today, Kyle Lawton Behm came into the world!

What a happy baby with a proud big sister, Laura!

And today, here we are in our matching seersucker shorts:

Monday, June 4, 2012

A iPad Cover and A Belt

Oooh, catchy title. But that's what this is about. The iPad cover is a kind of utilitarian sewing that can be very satisfying. For starters, it was almost free. No pattern needed, so free there. Batting, fabric and thread that I already had. Almost free, because, well, I did have to pay for it once upon a time. Plus, it's custom! That might actually be obvious since I made up the pattern myself. I added a little pocket on the front for my phone.

Oh, the button and the cording also from the stash. I turned it partially inside out so you can see the cute lining. From an Alexander Henry line. It's probably named something better than just "Owls", but that's what they are:

And the belt? I've been wanting to try my hand at belt making for awhile, and I'm making a vintage dress to wear for a wedding this weekend (more on the dress later) that cried out for a belt. OK, it was in the pattern, but still. I bought a belt making kit from the Fashionable Stitch, read all Sunni's tips on her blog, and went to work.

My fabric is voile, so I added a second layer of some super thin cotton that I found in my interfacing bin. What? You don't have random bits of stuff of unknown origin hanging around your sewing room? This mystery cotton could be vintage itself!

My buckle covering skills are suspect, but practice would definitely help. Unfortunately, there's no good way to practice, so while my results aren't great, they'll have to do. Covering the belting was easier, and I used this method of machine sewing. Using a thin fabric, albeit double layered, probably aided in it being easier. A thicker fabric might work better doing the hand sewing method.

I ended up not using the eyelets or the center bar, which proved really hard to pinch with pliers, and there was possibly some impatience that played into it as well. Anyway, wanna see? I have it on my dress form, over a red, as yet unrevealed (and still unfinished actually), dress:

Thus end-eth tonight's show and tell. Have a good night, y'all!


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