Lanvin Reproduction

Okay, this was THE MAJOR PROJECT of spring! Heritage Square holds a fashion show and tea every spring. In previous years I worked the event, but this year I asked if Lu and I could walk in the show. Then I lost my damn mind and spent way way way too much time trying to figure out something that met the theme that also worked for our ages and was a known mother/daughter duo. I also needed to find something that was achievable.

I ended up finding 5 or so options and then asked the organizer which she preferred. And she was very unhelpful by telling me to choose. Darn it! In the end I selected Jeanne Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite.

Here is the fashion plate I selected.

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From the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

And here are our finished ensembles!

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I’m pretty darn proud of how nice our dresses look. Not exactly like the original design, but certainly close enough for real life.

I drafted both dresses from a basic bodice. Lu’s was based off the bodice block in the Building Block Dress. I used the pattern I fit for Christmas and then added cut on sleeves. It is a little tight to get her arms in, but it works! Then I added a densely gathered skirt. Mine is based off my sloper with a very slightly dropped waist. I’m sure on a slim woman there would be no bust darts and the waist would be lower, but I altered those things to better suit my figure. I love trying to be historically accurate and making clothes fit is an accurate direction to go. People have always preferred clothes that look nice!

I also drafted Lu a simple slip to wear underneath. I used cotton lawn for the top and organdy for the skirt. Jokes on me though, organdy is…sheer! I had to go back and line the slip with more lawn. On the plus side the slip organdy was a freebie my boss brought me years ago. She was so pleased to hear I’d used it. I had enough to do both our slips, but mine is not fully lined I think. My memory is kind of foggy on the details at this point. I made my entire ensemble in less than a week and did not have the time to sweat the small stuff!

Both dresses are made with organdy I ordered all the way from India. I’ve never ordered fabric from so far away, but I found the recommendation on Historical Sewing and figured Jennifer wouldn’t recommend a crummy business. Pure Silks‘ website was a tad clunky, but they had organdy of various stiffness and in colors, glorious COLORS! The prices were also really good even with international shipping.

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Our ensembles were topped off with hats I purchased off Amazon. I had such anxiety over hats. Finding the right shape, color, and size is so darn tough, but I haven’t learned to make my own yet. So two plain straw hats were ordered and then I trimmed them to match our ensembles.

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I’m most proud of the appliqué on the front of the dresses. I had planned to do it by hand, but that would have been so time intensive. A friend suggested appliqué and she was so right. Much more realistic in a time crunch. I used left over baptism dress fabric for Lu’s and some silk organza from Renaissance Fabrics on mine. Then I embroidered the stems by hand.

My mom (and two of my aunties) were able to attend the fashion show and captured this sweet video. Lu had such a blast that she is already thinking about next year. And I’m so happy to see my girls love the museum as much as I do. Next year maybe Chi Chi can join us?

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Baptism Dresses

This spring felt a bit crazy for our family, so I’m playing a bit of catch up! We decided to take a family trip to Hawaii over spring break and it was wonderful. Our littlest one keeps asking to go back (like every single day, multiple times) and our older daughter loves volcanoes so she’s very interested in the eruption taking place right now. I mean how often does a 6 year old visit a volcano and then have it erupt a month later? Pretty cool in her world.

Then we got home. Our plane landed at the airport at midnight and that very same day we had to get ourselves together to attend Baptism class at our church. I’d always intended to baptize our kids, but before last June we were very infrequent attendees of services. Since June the girls and I have attended nearly every week. We love our new church home! So I started seriously looking into having the girls baptized. I opted for the mass baptism date held as part of the Easter Vigil services so that it would be easier for friends and family to attend, particularly my mother in law who would be traveling quite a distance (hi Widget!).

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Our kids were the oldest and I was tempted to make their dresses in something other than white. Delicate white fabric is not really the best for rambunctious kids who have a mother who likes to procrastinate on the laundry. Tradition won out and so the girls wore this darling white dresses.

 

For inspiration I turned to this sweet little dress at the V&A Museum. The original is from about 1870 and made with velvet with satin ribbon and lace. I just love this dress so very much.

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Poor Chi Chi. Easter is so rough on 3 year olds! Anyways I think my version of the V&A dress makes enough of a nod to the original, but these were a little easier for me to make under a deadline. Plus I just could not afford that amount of lace and ribbon times 2 dresses! I splurged on some lovely trimmings, but there is a limit to what I’m willing to spend on a one time use garment.

The fabric is some lovely super sheer shirting I grabbed at The Fabric Store. I bought 8 whole yards! Way too much, but now I have plenty of leftover for another project or two. Then I lined them with cotton lawn. The lawn was a slightly different shade of white, but it isn’t noticeable in the finished dresses.

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I drafted the pattern from The Building Block Dress from Liesl Gibson. It’s a genius little book that is well worth the cost. I’m not afraid to slash and spread a pattern, but it is nice to have a little hand holding from a trained professional. I used the basic bodice with a puffed sleeve and gathered a-line skirt. Thankfully the bodice size for both girls was the same as at Christmas so I could use those dress patterns as a starting point.

 

I doubt these dresses will be wore very frequently, but they did turn out so perfectly and I’m glad they got at least two days of wear out of them, Baptism and Easter. As for the baptism ceremony, the girls were just perfect. So happy to participate and then come home for cake and presents. Just as fun as a birthday!

Christmas 2017

All year I was looking forward to making the girls their Christmas dresses. Lu will be turning 6 this coming spring and she’s getting more and more into big girl clothes. She still loves dresses, but not with the same intensity as her younger years. I felt like time was running out to make pinafore dresses and this Christmas was the perfect opportunity! It was a dream project for me. They were so so so darling.

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Oh my stars! Such cuteness from my silly girls. Thankfully they both just loved their Christmas dresses. Whew!

The under dresses and pinafores were both drafted from the same pattern in Liesl Gisbon’s Building Block Dress book. The book comes with a pattern for a basic dress and the chapters are instructions on how to use that basic pattern to produce tons of different styles. It goes all the was from 6 month size to a child size 12 and I can tell I’m going to get a lot of use out of the book.

For this first try I used the basic dress which has a bodice, collar, long or short sleeves, and an a-line skirt. Charlie’s is a size 18-24 months with 2T length and Lu’s is a 3T lengthened to 5 in the bodice and 6 in the skirt. Both fit pretty well right away, but could have used a smidge more sleeve length. However I also added an elastic casing to the sleeves, so perhaps the length would have been fine with a plain hem.

I tried looking for more Christmas-y fabric online, but I never did find something that seemed right. So I went stash diving and found a remnant of the blue floral and a 4 yard cut of the green floral. It would have been nice to use the same fabric for both, but the scale of the green floral was too big for Charlie’s tiny bodice piece and I didn’t have enough of the blue for both. Oh well, similar is close enough for me! Lu wasn’t super thrilled with a dark green dress, but I sold her on the little pink and red flowers in the print.

I originally bought both prints to make myself dresses. It is from the Floratopia collection from Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud 9. I did make a dress from the blue floral, but I hated the dress and got rid of it. Now with the girl’s dresses complete I think I have enough to make myself a skirt from the green floral.

The pinafores are using the same pattern, but I split the bodice into 3 pieces and added width to the middle piece to achieve the gathered look I love many Victorian and Edwardian girls dresses. I have one saved that seems to have disappeared from the original site, but trust me that the seaming is pretty spot on. The drafting and sewing process was really tedious, but the finished pinafores were totally worth it.

The fabric was the same plain white lawn from Renaissance Fabrics that I used for my Lamplight outfit and it was just the perfect weight to float over the corduroy dresses. Sadly it looks like the fabric is sold out, but they usually get in more of it. Each pinafore is trimmed with candy cane embroidered cotton lace. I’d wanted to gather it to add fullness to the hem, but I’d only bought 4 yards last summer when I went shopping at Costume College and it wasn’t enough to gather and trim two skirts. So I used the little bit I had left over to add a shoulder flounce to each pinafore. I think it worked out just right!

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And while I still have a couple things to share from 2017, my crafting was mostly cleaned up by the end of the year. The beauty of staying home for the holidays with no house guests is we’ve had ample time to sort and clean our house. A few more areas to manage, but still it feels good to start 2018 better organized. Frankly I’m happy to see 2017 gone from our lives. We had some really good times and my husband had more steady work than he’d had in a while, but on the other side we had a lot of anxiety over a potential medical issue for our older daughter. It turned out in the end, but that was a 6 month process of appointments and missing work and stress. Both girls moved up to new schools and that has been really good, but my work has become more and more stressful with each passing year. I still enjoy it, but gosh I miss the glory days when I didn’t have to say “no” so frequently. Most of all the holidays have brought a much needed break to refresh. Happy New Year.