I have recovered from the crazy hospital gown/clown dress of a few days ago and have redeemed myself by making a great pattern redo.  The pattern I chose this time is Butterick 3062.     My pattern was a size 4, with a 23 inch breast.


Toddler Girls’ Top And Bloomers: A-line top has scoop neckline, buttoned shoulders, and regular, scalloped, or shirttail hem with purchased eyelet ruffling. Bloomers have elasticized waist and legs.  I chose to make the version with the lace trim and rounded side slits.  This is put totally over the edge with the coordinating bloomers.  Hoping my (almost) 4 year old still feels comfortable wearing bloomers…not much longer I am sure.  I think I will mourn the loss of bloomers when she outgrows this style, it has got to be my favorite summer style for little girls.



Look, it is a potato bug!  Eleanor has no fear of bugs and loves to explore.  Unfortunately for this little bug a few minutes later she examined him a bit too much…smoosh.  Gross, at least no pics of that right? 


I would be lying if I said my latest obsession with Mad Men had nothing to do with my choice of patterns for this blog.  Sally Draper has certainly inspired some of these pattern purchases.  I can’t resist a short girls dress with knee socks and mary jane shoes.  This look however is much more juvenile than the last one I attempted (and failed) and will look so sweet with her little saltwater sandals this summer.  Perfect hot weather outfit to run around in.  She helped pick out the fabrics and approved the pattern and loooves the lace trim.  I tend to prefer cleaner lines, and don’t usually like to pair busy patterns with trims but for this modern retro series it seems to match the era and look I am going for.

With the momentum I gained from recovering from the horrid dress I mentioned earlier I kept on sewing.  And sewing.  And sewing.  Completing a pair of knit shorts, knit capri pants and knit dress today alone.   I plan on posting on these soon!

I also tried to save the clown dress by cutting off the collar and finishing up the neckline with an inside bias tape and added an elastic ruching to the back to bring it in a bit- and it is still too large!  It still looks a bit like a hospital gown and I am working on what I can add to make it work.  I am determined to make it work!  Oh god, I just heard Tim Gunn’s voice in my head.  Project Runway flashbacks.  Oh how I used to love that show!



Heartbreaking.  Totally heartbreaking.  How I feel after I spend a few hours of my not so spare time making  a piece of clothing, following the pattern exactly, finishing seams, installing zipper, hemming etc. only to have it turn out like crap.  What looks like an adorable a-line short mod dress on the pattern cover turned out to be an oversized hospital gown like dress with a clown collar!  How am I going to redeem this?  So bad i won’t even post a picture of  Isabel wearing it for fear of total humiliation on her part.  Bad.  Really Bad. Does this ever happen to you?  Like there is a “You”…I haven’t even told friends or family yet about this blog.  I doubt anybody has read it other than me!


Is it the subdued and pale print fabric I used?  Maybe if I used a bold print floral and omitted the collar it would be Ok.  What is most confusing to me is the fact that it is so large…it is a size 6 and Isabel’s measurements match those on the pattern- yet she fit in the size 4  pattern last week.  Hmmm.  Either way it is going to be hitting the chopping block tomorrow and get sliced up into something wearable!

One positive is that it was an absolutely beautiful day today.  We went for an amazing walk to the playground and brought our first picnic of the year.  I made an awesome set of picnic placemats last week that I finally got to use today and they were so nice.  The park was perfect- the weather was sunny and cool.  Perfect day to eat outside and lounge on a blanket while the girls ran around the park.  Post to come soon on the placemats, once I get a few good pictures of them I will post about the pattern and fabric I used.  Next onto making a picnic blanket…once I get through the stack of fabric sitting next to me waiting to be turned into dresses and leggings for the girls.  Redemption from this epic failure.


Modern Retro – this week’s pattern chosen!

Ok, so I am a bit late on this.  Only my second week in and I am already slacking.  I will blame it on this crazy weekend of parties…3 within the last 48 hours or so.  Sounds more exciting than it was in reality, they consisted of two kids parties where I watched Isabel run around and bounce like a maniac, and the third was a very quiet family party.  Nonetheless they kept me from what I needed to do for this post- which is keep my deadline and post a new vintage sewing project!  I did get my crafty mojo going by way of the birthday presents for the kids, and got to show off some awesome Marvel comics fabric I found for a crayon bag…almost makes me wish I had a boy.  Almost.  Hope the little boy liked it as much as I did!20130525_113028

So, enough excuses.  I guess it doesn’t really matter since nobody knows about this blog yet, but I feel the pressure so here is the chosen pattern for this weekend.  Looking through my pattern stash I found this cute pattern for a great a-line dress.


The pattern is from 1969 (again!) and features short sleeves, back zipper and optional collar.  Hopefully I will be able to take advantage of Memorial Day tomorrow and log in some hours sewing and whip this baby up.

Also, I am so excited to be starting an Etsy vintage shop!  I have been combing the thrift stores and have come up with a few great finds that I will place for sale in addition to the vintage patterns I am featuring on this blog.  Coming soon…


Joys of owning an old home

I was sitting around the other day thinking about where I wanted to go with this blog.  Do I want to focus on my sewing passion (or obsession!) and tie it into my etsy shop?  Do I want it to be about my love of vintage- fabrics/patterns/thrifting?  Can I do just one of these without talking about my house, my kids and my regular life?  Is that even possible?

I started thinking about all of the blogs I read on an almost daily basis and what appealed to me about them.  Sure, the sewing techniques, patterns and craft community was great but it was also the personal voice that came from discussing their lives, their kids that made it feel like “hey, they are like me.  If they can do xyz, then so can I”.  My biggest wish is that I had friends to share in my passions, some like minded people to bounce ideas off of and share tips and tricks.  Someone to go fabric shopping with (other than my crazy little girls).  Someone who would actually WANT to go and stare at bolts of fabric for a few hours.  Until I meet this local “friend” the online blog community has served this role- albeit virtually.

I decided I want to try to model this blog after the one’s I have followed over the past few years.  The balance of being honest and open against privacy, especially regarding my kids will be rough but time will tell.

So, that being said let’s get right into it.  My love of all things vintage extends far beyond fabric.  I love old houses.  Long before I was pouring over craft and sewing blogs I spent countless hours on home renovation blogs, and even started one of my own when we first purchased our previous home- a 1914 Arts and Crafts Bungalow.  I followed along as homeowners in Chicago tore up their fixer uppers and rebuilt cabinetry and replaced light fixtures.  I searched online forums for tips on patching old plaster and removing wallpaper.  After having kids and repainting every room in the house we ran out of space and moved into our current space this past summer.  Our new house has proved to be more of a challenge!  Built in 1910 the home is in great shape given it’s age, but the previous owners lived here for roughly 50 years so updating was in order.  Wallpaper, wallpaper, wallpaper.  Count em’ 12 different prints of wallpaer.  Yikes.  That is for another post.  I could write a book on removing wallpaper and what is discovered underneath.

My biggest pet peeve about this house though has been the kitchen floor.  Red/brown faux brick vinyl.  Not exaclty the classic look I am heading for in by decor.  Fortunately hardwood floors flow throughout the rest of the house, but the kitchen is smack dab in the middle of the house- so wherever you look you saw that old vinyl floor.  It became all I could see…it had to go!

beginning the process of doing the demo…oh the innocence. Not knowing what was to come

I thought, how bad could it be- could the hardwood run through the room under the vinyl?  So we took a look and sure- there was hardwood!!!  Three weeks of hard labor on days off and evenings were to follow.  Days I wished I had never discovered said hardwoods and ordered new replacement floors. Image

Days spent on my hands and knees with an old bottle/can opener tool removing thousands and thousands of staples one by one by one.  Days spent scraping off old black felt paper that stood between me and those wood floors.  It turned out that removing the vinyl and subfloor was the EASY part.  Then, finally.  Finally we were ready to turn it over to a professional to sand and seal the hardwoods.  Image

No more staples or dirty paper to walk on!
even though the kitchen is still in shambles, the floors are done and look amazing!

Looking back now it was all worth it.  Even the two nights spent sharing a bed with the girls in a gross motel when we had to escape the polyurethane fumes.  Even after the expense and frustration.  Funny how you forget the blood, sweat and tears (literally).  Thankfully I took pictures of the process to remind me of how far we’ve come!  My favorite part is knowing we brought a part of this home back to life.  Thinking about all of the people who have walked on these floors, the women who stood in this kitchen back in the 20’s making dinner for their family.  The kids who probably slid across and down the hallway like my girls do when they run in and out of the house.  It is more than just loving things from the past, it is the sense of history that comes along with it that makes owning an old home so special.


Hats, Hats, Hats

Ok, so I started a bit of an assembly line today.  I knocked out three hats in just a few hours, including the interruptions of a 3 year old and coffee refills.  I finally set out to sew together my fabric I cut out using the Oliver & S Bucket Hat pattern (available free!)  I had cut this out a while ago and never got to it thinking it would be time consuming.  Any time I see interfacing in a pattern I get indimidated- a problem I am working on.  Really I think it is just the pressing I have an issue with.  My sewing dirty little secret is that I never iron or press.  I don’t even have an iron in my sewing room.  Yikes.  Major rule breaker I know.  I rarely pin either- such a risk taker.

I actually skipped the interfacing for this altogether by doing one side in a heavy canvas fabric I scored at the thrift shop a while back.  Multiple yards of pale pink and yellow canvas for $2=deal.  I made the largest size and apparently once again my seam allowances always fall short so they are pretty large, even fitting on my head but luckily my girls have alot of hair and they work well.


The first one I made is using an Urban Circus Elephant fabric and lined it with the yellow canvas.  I had assumed this would just be a trial run or a test but it turned out so cute.  On a roll I immediately sat down to cut and sew a few more.


I couldn’t resist doing gingham.  Gingham in summer is a favorite, and again my vintage sheets and fabric came into play.  I am going to raid my stash to find more – can’t have too many hats right?  The sunhat paired with soft floral and gingham is so sweet.  I did enlarge the brim on the pink floral one and I opted not to do the multiple rows of stitching around the brim.  Bonus- they take only 30 minutes to sew, and I made them fully reversible.  Rather than hand sewing in the liner fabric I chose to machine sew it right sides together with the brim and left a small space to flip inside out- less hand sewing for me.  I don’t understand why I would have hand sewn it but maybe I am just lazy?


Either way, the girls love them and Isabel even wore hers out as soon as she got home from school- a sign of a success!

Next goal is to enlarge the brim even ore and pick up some linen fabric- about time I made a hat for myself I think!


Modern Retro 1969, part II the result

So, I finally found time to bribe Isabel into modeling the dress.  Well, top, or dress, or mini-dress depending on what era it is!  I think it actually looks super cute without leggings, but for the real world I will probably have to pair it with shorts or pants.  Girls just don’t wear dresses this short these days!  ImageImage

The details: Simplicity pattern 8668 from 1969 from this post.  Fabric is Little Red Riding Hood by Michael Miller paired with a white cotton yoke and red cotton fabric back yoke.  I used a red double fold bias tape from my vintage stash and a red zipper with an eye hook neck closure.  I love how the bias tape contrasts with the white yoke.  Pattern was a size 4, but I left off the ruffle trim and added the bias trim for a simpler detail.   I couldn’t resist adding the ric rac trim, I think it adds such a sweet detail. I eliminated the hand sewing on the inside- so my inside bodice is not up to snuff compared to the original pattern but who will notice?  I don’t have time to hand sew the inside of a kids top.  The best part of experience is knowing when you can stop following ALL of the rules, an example of when cutting corners is OK!  I have found vintage patterns to be much more detailed and labor intensive than many of the modern digital patterns I have used.  Just an FYI though, don’t let it intimidate you!  The end result is still great, wearable and unique.   I plan on using this pattern again.  Next time I will probably try the version with sleeves, with the contrast yoke and skirt.


Although this was originally planned for Eleanor (who is 3) the size 4 was more generous that modern size patterns and luckily Isabel is happy to wear it!  Off to find my tape measure to avoid any more guesswork in sizing…


Modern Retro 1969

Every weekend I hope to post a vintage pattern remade into a modern garment.  This weeks feature is a sweet toddler’s coat and dress pattern from 1969, Simplicity 8668.  I scored this pattern along with over a dozen others at my local Amvets thrift store for 5/$1.00!  Woo hoo.  The item I have chosen is the sleeveless dress (View 1).  My pattern is size 4 toddler, but somehow fits my 6 year old daughter!  I think I need to take measurements of my girls and use these for sizing rather than the number size given.  Having two girls helps though, it is bound to fit someone!  Image

Stay tuned to see the finished results.  It includes red ric rac and little red riding hood!


Not the first time…

Will I stick to it? I’ve started blogs before but have never made it past a few posts. Does that say something about me and my lack of commitment? Hmm. I am always out there looking for new ideas, projects and learning from the online community that I am determined this time to stick with it and put myself out there to show what I am working on in hopes that I can inspire someone else. My current focus is on the hunt for vintage sewing notions, fabric, linens and patterns. I hope to highlight some of these in my upcoming posts and show how thrifty you can be using vintage materials, and how using vintage patterns with modern fabrics or modifications can result in some unique and amazing pieces. I primarily sew children’s clothing but have been branching out a bit in home goods and a bit of sewing on an adult scale. So, let me Introduce myself! I am Jewel. I am a mom to two amazing (yet exhausting) liitle girls, an academic Librarian, wife, and sewer/knitter/crocheter. I spend way too much time online reading craft blogs and Pinterest. My favorite place to be is at a thrift store or open market…hopefully followed by an iced coffee and time spent at my sewing machine!