Up-cycled Mod for Evvie


Evelyn asked me if I could make her a dress like Tiana’s.  I told her I didn’t have quite enough material for a dress like that, but I could look at what I have and see what we could make.  She went into my fabric stash and came out with some pieces of a shirt I was going to up-cycle into baby toys.

I knew just the pattern to fit those pieces.  It was a cute McCall’s from the mid-60’s.  Simple little A-line dress with a front pleat.  Turned out that there was just enough fabric to make a dress without pockets.  I also had to chop up the pattern a little and add a contrasting facing for the back, as the original design had the dress back and facing all in one piece and it wouldn’t quite fit on my shirt pieces.

Photo on 1-24-16 at 7.14 PM

My sewing room is like a refrigerator.  Hence the hat. Oh, and this is McCall’s 8001, circa 1965.

I didn’t intend to turn up the sleeves like that, but it looks super cute that way!  My first thought was to cover some buttons with the stripe fabric for the back, but to be honest I just didn’t feel like it.  So instead I opted for some cute vintage blue buttons I happened to have in my stash.  I think I like it even better than how the stripe buttons looked in my mind.

You’ll notice I also had to add a contrasting pleat underlay.  I thought stripes would be too much, so I used some baby wale green corduroy instead.  It was just the right shade to complement the main fabric.

For the hem, I tried out the method we discovered in the 70’s shift.  It was very simple and easy, and looks really good.

Evvie told me once the dress was finished, much to my disappointment, that she thought she’d just save it for summer.  She begrudgingly agreed to do JUST ONE photo shoot for me, and I was very much obliged indeed.  The dress looks pretty adorable with those jeans, don’t ya think?  It’s like a little tunic.  Maybe she’ll change her mind and wear it a few times this winter.

Here are some playing-with-beans action shots!




Yesterday was my big day to go fabric shopping in Dondaemun.  I had several projects to buy fabric and supplies for, including costumes for an upcoming play at my husband’s school, a few dresses for myself, a bag, and some really adorable overalls for the kids.  But true to Korea form, I traveled to Dongdaemun only to find that the entire fabric shopping complex was CLOSED for reasons unknown to me.  I cannot tell you how frustrating this was.  Since I have two kids under 3, it is practically impossible for me to do large-scale fabric shopping with them in tow, so I have to go when my husband is home.  The shopping complex closes at 5pm (GAR!), so I can never make it on the weekdays.  That leaves weekends.  So the next time I’ll be able to get out there is next week, putting me very behind on costuming.


I do need to bring my camera and do a post about Dongdaemun.  Oh, fellow sewists–it is like a fairy dream land!  Anything and everything you could EVER WANT for sewing, crafting, knitting and crochet.  Gobs and gobs of it.  Four huge buildings full of it.  It is pretty amazing.

So this week I’ll just spend my time making up a muslin for Tzeital’s wedding dress (they are doing Fiddler on the Roof), and bust my butt making up for lost time next week!  Go with the flow, right?



A Dress For Tiana

Have you ever sewn from a vintage Barbie doll sewing pattern?  I’ve collected a few over the years, and now that I have a daughter who has a beloved Tiana Barbie with a small wardrobe, I have been trying some out!

By small wardrobe, I mean she has one outfit.  We found her at a yard sale last year, butt naked.  Evelyn thought she was the most beautiful doll in the world, and I thought it would be fun project to sew her a new wardrobe with my old patterns.  Shortly after we brought her home, I made her this cute little outfit:

It’s been about a year since I made that one.  I’ve been swamped with commissioned sewing lately, and decided for a little creative break today to pull out the vintage Barbie patterns and let Evvie pick a new outfit for Tiana.  We chose Butterick 9993.


She picked the wedding dress, of course.

I didn’t have any large pieces of lace, so I used a little lace trim that I had to edge the overskirt.


A rolled-up dish towel makes pressing tiny tubular skirts and curved seams much easier!

I pinked most seams, and double-turned some others, taking tiny careful stitches along the back edges.  Skirt was finished with a tiny hem stitch.


Barbie dresses are fun because you get to do a lot of the finishing by hand, but it doesn’t take very long.  Well, unless you have a 3 year old and a 20 month old saying “Mommy!” every two seconds.  But that’s ok!

The dress was very simple, and very easy to make!  I used a small strip of velcro for the back fastener, as it’s a little easier for my daughter to open and close than snaps.


The overskirt really adds some glamour! If only I had enough lace left for a veil.  We’ll have to add that later.

Evvie was very pleased.  Next I am supposed to make a dress “with flowers on it.”

What have you been sewing lately?


Two 60’s Dresses from Korea

Handmade Black Party Dress
This dress has a full skirt with pleats on the front and back and has 3/4 sleeves.  It’s a simple dress, and unlined, but looks absolutely adorable on!  It’s about 1″ too small for me in the waist, but I can squeeze into it if I suck in and hold my breath.  The dress is made of a black poly-something blend with pretty embroider allover.  Very nicely finished and seems to be in great shape!

I’m thinking about taking out the waist a little so I can keep it.  If I do, I’ll take a picture of it actually on so you can appreciate it better than just on the hanger.


Mitsukoshi Sheath
I hate that I couldn’t model this for you, but the sleeve lining has come unstitched so I need to repair that before I can wear it.  This is a bombshell dress!  The first time I tried it on, I positively felt like Marilyn Monroe.  Another simple dress, but this one is very much a designer dress with lots of lovely details.  It is by Mitsukoshi, a Japanese designer.  I love the elbow darts and snaps at the forearm.  It is fully lined and made of a pretty black crepe.

Both of these dresses were also on the 5,000 won rack.  Yep, I paid less than $10 for these two lovely specimens!  I guess Koreans are more into 1980’s than 1960’s…

which is fine with me.



Disassembling A Vintage Dress

photo 1

I bought this old dress the other day at a Korean thrift clothing store called VinPrime.  It was on the 5,000 won rack (which is a little less that $5), and I had picked it up because it was obviously vintage and looked really well-made, and the fabric was pretty awesome.  However I had also found a couple amazing black dresses from the early 60’s, a coat, and a really cute floral shirt and didn’t want to spend too much, so I put it back on the rack.  While I was looking through some other clothes, my husband brought this same dress to me thinking I would like it, and that the fabric would be cool to repurpose into bow ties.  Ok, ok, fine, I’ll buy it!!!

The seams started splitting very badly in the wash, which made me feel a little better about taking this cool dress apart.  The thread used to sew it together was pretty brittle, and I could easily rip the seams just by gently pulling the fabric by hand.

As I got in there, I was more and more impressed with the workmanship.  I took lots of pictures both for my own education and to share with my friends who love garment construction as much as I do.  So without further ado, here are the inner workings of a simple Korean shift dress from the 70’s!

The Basting

This sewer used extensive basting.  Everything was basted by hand.  The lining was basted to the outer garment at the seams.  Made it a little trickier to take apart, but I was impressed!

The Collar

Soooo pretty!

Bound Buttonholes

These were four of the most perfect bound buttonholes I have ever seen.  You can hardly tell the front from the back (front on the left and back on the right).  Lordy.


The sleeve lining was hand-stitched into the garment with lovely, tiny whipstitches.  An extra strip of fabric about 1″ wide was sewn into the top of the armscye for added strength at the shoulder.

photo 5

The seam allowance of the facing was catch-stitched to the interfacing.

Perfectly Pressed Lining

photo 3

Isn’t it just pretty?

The Hem Finish

photo 5

Sorry for the shoddy photo, but don’t you just love the way this hem was finished?  I DO!!!  I can’t wait to try it out.  Looks so nice with only about 1/8″ of the bias binding showing.  Perfect for this type of fabric.  The bias was cut from the lining fabric so that it matched perfectly.

Isn’t it just fun to take a look inside of an old garment?  I find it so inspiring–not to mention, educational.  I saved the strip of buttonholes and under collar for myself, just to look at and admire.  The fabric will be put to good use, and I really can’t wait to use it.  It’s just beautiful, as you can see.