New Dress! Retro Butterick 5880!

Woohoo! I’ve got a new dress, and it’s gorgeous! In a continuation of my life being photographed in vintage and vintage-style dresses, here are the results of about 8 hours of sewing fun!

Here's the pattern, a vintage reprint from Butterick (B5880), and the crazy cotton fabric I found!

Here’s the pattern, a vintage reprint from Butterick (B5880), and the crazy blue cotton fabric I found!

As I’ve said, I love working with fun cotton fabric, because it tends to be less expensive and so easy to work with. This particular fabric was chosen due to the changing of the seasons. I thought it would be a lovely late winter/early spring print that would make the transition nicely. Also, I don’t have nearly enough blue things to wear!

Here's a close up of my fab hair (it did what I wanted it to do!!!), and the super neat neckline! It's got two little "v"s to keep things interesting.

Here’s a close up of my fab hair (it did what I wanted it to do!!!), and the super neat neckline! It’s got two little “v”s to keep things interesting.

It also works super well with my vintage blue starburst brooch! I did not plan this, however, one of the bursts in the fabric ended up in the perfect “brooch place” on the bodice! Splendid serendipity!

Here's the final product! Isn't it stunning?!

Here’s the final product! Isn’t it stunning?!

Another confession: The lovely swag across the front was *supposed* to be lined, and because I didn’t have quite enough fabric, I just hemmed the raw edge instead! It lies beautifully, however, since the fabric isn’t double-sided, I’ve got to be careful not to let the underside show. When I make another version (which I’d like to do immediately), I will probably choose a solid color, and add a contrasting fabric lining!

I'll also take this opportunity to introduce my pocket pup: Abe Lincoln!

I’ll also take this opportunity to introduce my pocket pup: Abe Lincoln!

Isn't he the cutest?!?!

Isn’t he the cutest?!?!

So, that’s the latest sewing project of mine! It was really special because it was my first dress at the smallest size I’ve ever sewn! I only made my standard adjustments to the waist (for petites) and the hem length (super petite!), and it fits so well! As many dresses as I’ve made, it still feels like a gamble with a new pattern, and I’m so glad this one is a success!

Are you working on a new dress pattern? What made you choose it? Which fabric(s) do you like working with?

Re-purposing A China Cabinet for Jewelry Display!

Happy Friday!!!

Let's get this sexy weekend started!

Let’s get this sexy weekend started!

Among my many crafty projects is one I’ve recently undertaken to become more efficient, as well as more fabulous! I re-purposed my grandmother’s China cabinet from its latest incarnation (basically a liquor cabinet, sorry MeeMaw), into a lovely display case for (most of) my jewelry, and some other pretty things!

Here she stands, with as much excess removed as possible, ready to be transformed!

Here she stands, with as much excess removed as possible, ready to be transformed! (Ovbs, this was taken closer to Halloween, since my vultures and display legs are hanging out.)

My maternal grandmother sort of started this family trend, by having an outrageous collection of jewelry built up over the years due to a preference for shiny things, and extensive world travels. Hers is truly glorious, and the cabinet is a sublime slice of the ’70s. It sits in a corner of her master suit/”love oasis” of a shared bathing area. Seriously, the secret to being happily married for 60+ years is an enormous, turquoise bathtub.

Pretty great, right?? They've had to move downstairs, plus Christmas, so things are a little hectic.

Pretty great, right?? They’ve had to move downstairs, plus Christmas, so things are a little hectic, but you can tell how sizeable this cabinet is.

See?? They built their custom house in 1973, and two separate vanities, two closets and an enormous bathtub is what they decided. LOVE this. It was super fun as a kid, too!

See?? They built their custom house in 1973, and two separate vanities, two closets, and an enormous bathtub is what they decided. Brilliant! (The shower curtain is a recent development.) I LOVE this. It was super fun as a kid, too!

Now my mother also has a jewelry cabinet, as do at least two of my cousins! So, with the limited space I have, and the diminished necessity of displaying pint glasses, I decided I would make one, too! I have documented my process, which may or may not help those of you out there who’ve outgrown your jewelry boxes, and are looking for a way to exhibit your ever-expanding jewelry collection. This would be a great display for any small to medium-sized collection, really. It is also a super effective way to utilize inherited furniture!

I started by measuring the width and height of the bottom two shelves. I wanted to cover the base and back of each one, so I also measured depth.

I started by measuring the width and height of the bottom two shelves. (Measure everything! They were slightly different.) I wanted to cover the base and back of each one, so I also measured the depth.

I have some lovely red satin fabric, and since it looks so nice with the dark wood (plus I had enough of it), I decided to use it to cover the heavy paper I “borrowed” from my brother (he’s an architecture student). Since the shelves in my China cabinet cannot be removed, I had to come up with a way to insert these covers, in order to protect the wood and also aid in the display process (hanging necklaces or pinning brooches, for example).  The simplest way to do that was to find a material that was sturdy, but flexible, and this thick paper (heavier than card stock, but thinner than cardboard) was ideal, at least for the bottom of the shelves. I cut the paper into two strips that would fit onto the base/bottom of each shelf, cut two pieces of fabric at least 3″ wider/longer than the paper, then simply folded the fabric over and hot glued the edges down to the back of the paper.

Unique Item - Pants stretchers! (Living with a hoarder can be really handy sometimes.)

Unique Item – Vintage pants stretchers! (Living with a hoarder can be really handy sometimes.)

For the back of the shelves, I needed something even more flexible to be able to fit into the small, one door opening, and stronger to actually hold the weight of the jewelry. Mom to the rescue! She managed to round up (in, like, 10 minutes) two vintage pant stretchers! Random, I know, but completely perfect for this particular project. They extend (height-wise, for my purposes), were the just the right width, and are bendy enough to get through the opening without too much trouble. I wish I had pictures of that process, but it involved both of my hands, one of my legs, and some effort with my chin. (Worth it!)

I basically created a lined sleeve to slip the pants extenders into, using the measurements of the shelves height and width.

I basically created a lined sleeve to slip the pants extenders into, using the measurements of the shelves’ height and width. Making them longer than necessary, I left the ends open and simply folded them back for a clean edge once they were in place inside the cabinet.

Here's the view of the inside of the sleeve before I slid in the pants extender.

Here’s the view of the inside of the sleeve, after turning, but before I slid in the pants extender. THAT took some doing. It was a snug fit, but that is exactly what I needed for extra support.

Close up of the lined shelves!

Close up of the lined shelves! The red makes everything pop so nicely!

I decided to keep some of my non-jewelry things in the cabinet, partially because I currently have an effective storage space for my necklaces, so I didn’t need to, and partially because they’re just so pretty! It was either this or a box, and I thought incorporation would be better. Adding loveliness and variation is always a good decision!

See all my earrings, drops, and bracelets!? Me too! Now I won't forget I have them!

See all my earrings, drops, fancy headbands, giant rings, and bracelets!? Me too! Now I won’t forget I have them!

Another organization hack out of Sylvia’s playbook, I used one of those tins that Valentine’s candies come in to organize my non-hook earrings! Since I love vintage stuff, I have lots of screw-on, clip on, and stud earrings that I wasn’t able to display, but now I can easily see them (plus they’re color-coded!), and I definitely wear them more often! I used my milk glass compote to hold my bracelets, and have my fancy headbands and hat pin in a well-deserved place of prominence!

The "finished" product!

The “finished” product! So lovely!

This is still a project in progress. I would like to add my brooches, a couple of smaller frames with wire for the hook earrings, and display some of my more ornate necklaces, but putting it together was extremely fulfilling and I wanted to share! Although I know some people do not have the space, or the jewelry collection, to display like this, being able to view the gorgeous things I already own makes me feel grateful and fortunate every day. Any prized collection should be seen and appreciated daily, if possible, otherwise these lovely items get forgotten so easily, only to become under-utilized and under-valued. Don’t let this happen to you! Proudly display your beautiful and/or unique things, and let them be an encouraging reminder of how incredible you are for having such awesome taste!

How do you display your jewelry? Any great organizational tips to share?? Do you have lots more of any particular item (necklaces, rings, brooches, etc.)? Do you have another prized collection on display in your home? Please share!

Vintage-Style Photo Shoot!

About two years ago, I decided it was time to capture my gorgeous, vivacious essence in a vintage-style pin up photo shoot with Dynamite Dames Photography. I was living in the DFW area at the time, and thought it would be a fun, fabulous opportunity to have my hair and makeup done and encapsulate my 20-something year old self.

Beauty and the Book

Beauty and the Book

Turns out, it totally was! It was awesome, laid back, but professional, and everyone there shared my passion for vintage styles. They offered a varied set of clothes, however, I chose to make a dress specifically for the occasion. (Interestingly enough, it matched to photography set exactly!) I chose Butterick’s vintage reprint pattern B4919 and made the ballerina-length version, since I’m a petite lady. The theme was supposed to be a “Tea Party.”

Tea Party = CUPCAKES

Tea Party = CUPCAKES

This dress was decidedly simple to make (shocking, considering how flattering it is), and I’ve actually made another since then out of a sparkly silver jersey fabric. The bodice is straightforward, and the skirt, although full, had only four seams!

The original pattern

The original pattern

I had to make slight adjustments for length (again, I’m a petite little hobbit), and I ended up with an enormous brooch as a necessity. (What a lucky life!) Since I’m also busty, and vintage styles are complimented by a corset, I needed said brooch to cover any possible peeking of my undergarments. It worked beautifully AND I came away with a gigantic pearl brooch, but the second attempt at this dress involved a decrease in the plunging of the neckline by adjusting the bodice pattern.

Boyfriend and I went dancin'!

Boyfriend and I went dancin’ and this time I wore my pink petticoat!

In May, I submitted a few pictures from the shoot to Butterick’s Facebook “contest,” and they featured it on their page! (See them here.)

It was a delightful experience, and I would absolutely do it again. I know the Dames travel all over the Southern US, and change themes all the time. Their Facebook page boasts: cowgirl, Santa baby, party, retro home, roller girl and even 30s-40s glam pin up sets. Something for every secret, or brazen modern Betty.

Have you ever done a vintage-style photo shoot? If so, when and through who? If so, please feel free to share! If not, would you? Why or why not??