Tag Archives: vintage sewing

Finished Projects: New and Old

0315 Collage

Life, man. It gets away from a person.

I just HAD to share a new dress that I made for my birthday Valentines Day the upcoming Joanna Newsom concert (March 29!!). I have some other projects that I have not yet shared in cyberspace, so let’s get reacquainted!

0315 6397 Collage.jpg

Pattern: vintage Simplicity 6397
Fabrics: Raw & kimono silks from etsy; lining, Robert Kaufman Radiance

My 30th birthday was in December and I was toooootally confident I could finish this dress in time for my cocktail hour, which happened to be occurring in…two days. Can’t say I’m proud of rushing through one of the rare times I make myself a SILK DRESS. In the end, I had to wear another ensemble but REALLY HERE, I had cocktails to drink so whatever.

Plus, it has a cape-like thing on the back and that makes up for any mistakes. Such as, the not-great yoke attachment:

0315 6397 Simplicity Sad yoke

I’ve pressed it a few more times so it’s getting there, but for now, most people’s point of view will be here:

0315 6397 Simplicity Front

Not too bad, Brad. It also helps that the front doesn’t matter much, look at this BACK:

0315 6397 Simplicity Back

[of the dress]

Not my most creative work as far as deviating from the pattern illustration. Try to guess which version I made:

0315 6397 Simplicity

I wanted to add some contrast, so I lined the inside of what I’ll call the cape-doublet (Frenchified!) with a gray kimono silk print that is just so delicate and lovely, I had to work up the courage to use even the small bits for this.

0315 6397 Simplicity Inside cape

Worth it!

The pattern had the cape just dangling in the wind, and I thought that was just asking for embarrassment (let’s say, a gust of wind throwing it into someone’s face. Most likely mine and yes I think about these things). I decided I’d cut the dress a few inches shorter than the cape and baste the ends to the raw hem of the dress. I cut out a lining with the front and back pieces, a few inches shorter than the dress. Attaching the lining along the hemline and basting the necklines together, the hem was lifted into place and the cape curved around it. It makes just a hint of a bubble hem and just a fun photo opportunity!

0315 6397 Simplicity lining

To keep with the no-hem theme, I cut out a mirror-image sleeve and folded it over into a double-layer that I basted as one piece. In all likelihood, I’ll be very overdressed at the concert as Seattleites tend to wear North Face and jeans everywhere. But I like being overdressed, so I CAN’T WAIT.

05 May11 NEXT

0315 1887 Simplicity collage

Pattern: Simplicity 1887
Fabric: vintage from a garage sale

I finished this last October or November when I was still working on my STOUT projects. I assume I never blogged about this one because…well it’s a skirt. It was easy, it has elastic, it has pockets and an attached tie belt. There.

I worked some pattern-mixing in. Both fabrics are very polyester stretch wovens, making them perfect for skirts (only way to keep things breathing).

0315 1887 Simplicity pocket

I love the elastic panel across the back. The pattern includes options for pants and shorts, getting me closer to having the confidence to attempt pants or shorts again. Beginners: GET ON THIS PATTERN. You can do it!

0315 1887 Simplicity Back

0315 1887 Simiplicity skirt

05 May11 NEXT

0315 Mary Jane booties collage

Pattern: Mary Jane Baby Booties via Red Heart
Yarn: Pure Silk by Debbie Bliss in Purple and some 100% cotton yarn

I wish I had counted how many baby booties I’ve made in the last year. This is the only pair I crocheted. I’m currently on a shopping fast and am challenging myself to use what I already own instead of buying everything I think I need. I’m a firm believer that constraints make me more creative. But it doesn’t necessarily make things easier.

I almost went out and bought some new yarn, thinking I didn’t have anything that would work. I searched through my bits and pieces drawer (DIFFERENT from my yarn drawer!) and found these forgotten-about skeins: one is 100% cotton and the other is 100% silk. YES THAT BABY DESERVES SILK ON HER FEETS. I think the colors look great together and are not a combination that I would usually choose. See? More creative already.

There’s a sweet little Wednesday Addams-style dress I’m working on next. And about four saved drafts that I want to post. I suppose that means I’m back on blogging! Later!


Finished Project: Dot Dress + An Announcement


This post has been sponsored by my very own (and very new) etsy shop! Find me at jonnieannaliese.etsy.com

After god knows how many cumulative years of experience making things with my hands, I am now FINALLY trying to capitalize on my “gifts.” JK– working this new seamstress job over at Wai-Ching has invigorated my creativity. I’ve feared that turning what I love into a job would make me start to hate what I love and really the opposite has happened. So I welcome you to my little etsy shop: JonnieAnnaliese. I’ll keep adding items about as haphazardly as I post to this blog. Please use ANNASFRIENDS for a 10% discount!

/shameless self promotion over

06 June4 backtothegoodpart

06 June4 dresscollage

Pattern: Vintage McCalls 3589
Fabric: Fabric.com

Here is my first finished project to be created under my previously invented STOUT tag (Sewing Things Only Using Tractables). As I start blossoming into a shacked up 30-year-old, I blossom into my midlife body as well. So I’m trying to spend the next few projects focusing on elastic waistlines, drawstrings, roomy ensembles, etc. that can follow me anywhere! Because what else am I going to do– cut down on beer? AHAHAHAHAHHHHAAAAAA YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL

Anyway, this is a lovely buttery soft jersey from my last Fabric.com binge. I made the dress for a very stylish wedding I attended in LA a few weeks ago for a very stylish friend from grad school at a very stylish brewery in Glendale, where many guests consisted of stylish creatives so I really felt the best look I could hope for is “fits and is comfortable.” Luckily, in more casual situations, I can definitely pass for stylish. Or, with the right stilettos, a well-educated suburban principal on her way to church. I haven’t stopped creating dress personas since I finished The Secret Lives of Dresses.

Construction could not have been easier. The fraternal twin pieces of the lining and the fabric are sewn together for the elastic casing (no need for silly fabric casings!). I realize details aren’t easily seen through the lens of a blog, but the reason I think this is a STOUT staple is because the casing is placed low on the dress so you can hike it up to where it sits comfortably on you and the bodice will drape over the casing to conceal the elastic. Nice touch, McCalls!

06 June4 waistcollage

I use my serger  on knits as much as I can since I don’t like the stretch stitches on my regular machine, but the hem is hand sewn. For anyone interested in sewing with knits, this would make a great beginner pattern.

The tricky part was my original idea to add pockets. Now I have to file it away in my sewing memory database that slippery knits make slippery pockets. The pockets were a constant burden as they were never really IN the dress and would often fall out with my hand. Maybe it’s the dark taupe color of the fabric or the way I just described it but, there was something about the pockets that reminds one of certain gratuitously ill-lighted anatomy slides.

06 June4 pocketcollage

I just didn’t want to have to keep adjusting a sloppy pocket on each hip. What girl would?

You can see my new pocket-free confidence shine through.

06 June4 dress frontOn a final note, I just love to include little tidbits about my photographer/stylist/muse/stinkface. A few months ago, on the way to something or other, Emily wondered out loud When am I going to see some snails? As night fell and we were walking home, I said “Maybe you’ll see a sna—” CRUNCH. Emily hadn’t exactly seen it, but instead can say she’s stepped on a snail. Which is something I cannot allege. After taking this post’s photos (ON LOCATION OUTSIDE MY APARTMENT BUILDING), I saw a snail in the garden and Emily yelled “SHOW ME WHERE IT IS” before she would walk through so she didn’t step on it. He survived.

06 June4 Emilys snailAnd has a new best friend!

06 June4 Emily snailThat girl amuses me. Tatas for now!

LOLSew: Accessories Make the Outfit, Props Make the Lifestyle

01 Jan27 book

You can create high-quality fashion and lifestyle photos for your blog or Instagram on a $10-an-hour salary. Accessories and props are everywhere if you are resourceful and keep an eye out for potential. Using these classic images from the Sewing Pattern Era as inspiration and tips that fit into the modern Recessionista’s lifestyle, you can create the social media illusion of the exciting, glamorous life you want your followers to think you have.

Living Accessories

Cats make stylish photo props indeed. Now that cat cafes are popping up everywhere, you can set the stage for your handmade robe during your lunch break and never have to lose your rental deposit from scratched-up blinds.

01 Jan14 Advance 7816 kitten

As you walk past the barista, tell him you have to use the bathroom and after the shoot, just walk out really fast and pretend not to hear him yell at your back “Hey– restrooms are for customer use only!”

Dogs are certainly making a comeback. Live in a rental with a no-pets policy? Try standing in front of a posh cafe until someone ties up their afghan outside. Slip the leash over your wrist and take the picture quickly, while the owner is ordering.

01 Jan27 dog

Wait around after closing and maybe the cafe servers will bring you some leftover croissants.

A beagle makes for a playful shoot. I am actually getting PAID to keep up my baby style Instagram because I am baby-sitting my niece at the same time.

01 Jan27 beagle real

Just don’t tell my sister I have her daughter on Instagram. She’ll probably have a huff about how it’s inappropriate or “toddlers shouldn’t be used as props.” I think she’s just jealous because she doesn’t have time to use social media now that she’s a mom and I’ve worked up to 1000 followers.

Seagulls as a Found Object are a little unpredictable but can be surprisingly effective for making your bus stop look like a spontaneous park outing.

01 Jan27 seagulls

Note: only use Found Seagulls as Living Accessories. Seagulls are the thugs of the bird world and you don’t want to risk attracting too-large of a flock using food or else your followers might think you Try Too Hard.

Use a parrot for the exotic look.

01 Jan27 parrot

Surely someone you know has an uncle who has one. Or just slip into a Petco.

If you feel uncomfortable harassing animals, try using humans! On any college campus with an art program, you are bound to find an outdoor artist on a sunny day. Just walk up behind a young man painting a fox and pose around him. He doesn’t mind at all.

01 Jan27 artist

Focus on the accessories

If you find yourself in a bind and unable to secure any props, your accessories become your props. Give them center stage and an I-Mean-Business expression.

01 Jan27 headbands

Headbands from first grade picture day that you found in your parents’ basement are retro now. Pairing it with a bad ass resting bitch face makes your shoot #minimalist, not bare (Disclaimer: Bad Ass Resting Bitch Face is now the name of my perfume. I’ve already had it trademarked).

As a living accessory/accessory mashup: while wearing some stylish glasses, step on some beagle’s leash. Unapologetically stepping on leashes is not only free but it is being a boss.

01 Jan27 beagle

Go on location

Try shooting at a farmers or flea market. They’re free to attend and allow for free use of props until someone asks you to leave their booth because they have a policy against photography.

01 Jan27 golfbowl

No one looking at your Instagram will know you don’t regularly partake in recreational activities such as bowling or croquet whilst wearing vintage dresses.

Because they are usually held in the morning, flea markets make especially great pajama shoot locations. Anywhere else, a man holding a golf club in his jamjams is a little off-putting. At a flea market, it is simply an opportunity to promote your online presence when someone asks you if you need help.

01 Jan27 golfpj


If you are looking for a flirty shoot with tasteful partial nudity, request a friend take a candid shot of you powdering your side-boob.

01 Jan27 powder roomYour friend might respond with “I don’t want to take a picture of your boob.” Just tell her you’ll change your Netflix password and she will oblige. Enticing!

You could also use a well-placed newspaper.

01 Jan27 newspaper

If you don’t want to use your laundry quarters to buy one, use the one that has been sitting on your apartment building’s lobby table since 2013. Be sure to put it back, though. You don’t want to give the other renters the idea you have time to clean up after them.

On the other hand, you probably won’t lose your accounts with subtle headlights and you will definitely gain followers.

01 Jan27 headlights


They can’t all be winners, but be creative.

If you are having trouble conveying a historical context, go overboard by adding a gun and the Declaration of Independence.

01 Jan27 bicentennial

Think of a pun. Then, create a visual. Shellphone:

01 Jan27 shellphone

Try making something you got for free A Thing. How about those glasses they give you at the eye doctor?

01 Jan27 eyeglasses

Innovate with a chainsaw, edit with a scalpel

To avoid putting out something too radically avant garde, think about your audience. Get a second opinion on your more risky styling choices.

01 Jan27 tampon balloon

A giant tampon for a little lady is ironic for some, off-putting for others.

Follow these easy steps and you’re on your way to a raise in followers because you are definitely not getting one at work.

Finished Project: Roos

08 Aug17 Roos collage

Pattern: Sew Lovely P 503 S
Fabric: from Harts Fabric

As I mentioned before, I’ve always wanted to make myself a pair of underroos. And now that my sewing aspirations have been met, I can finally stop sewing (lollllllzzz). And as promised, I will not model them.

08 Aug17 Roos pattern

I think it’s fairly common knowledge in the home sewing world that vintage patterns are annoyingly difficult to decipher. And just to frustrate myself, I guess, I decided the first time I was going to make undies, I would use a vintage pattern (and with a knit, which I also hardly ever sew with). I hit some difficulty by Step 2, so I ended up using the instructions from the Out-of-Print McCalls underwear pattern, which I hope to sew up in the near future.

08 Aug17 Roos sew lovely

I was on a vintage underwear pattern kick a few months ago. I love the drawing with her long, flowy blonde hair, just chillin in her, ahem, “full coverage” bikini undies.

08 Aug17 Roos rear

I’m not going to call them granny panties.

I actually did cut a bit out of the rear and they still cover everything. The crotch piece is comically wide, and I thought about taking a picture, but perhaps that would be too much? Regardless, they are SO COMFORTABLE it’s like they’re not even there. Perfect fit. And I had to put a little bow on the front, since they’re not panties without a little frill.

08 Aug17 Roos detail

So happy with them! I have three or four other patterns I want to try out at some point, but my fabric stash doesn’t include a lot of knits (guess I have to go fabric shopping!!! Emily is groaning right now). I don’t think they were easy enough to earn a “beginner pattern” tag, so I created a new one for less than one yard (tags are at the bottom of the post). I have a few small pieces in my stash that I could use up, so I should start paying attention to smaller pieces.

If you ever need some low-mental-energy fun, I highly suggest doing a search for “panties sewing pattern” on Etsy and limiting to Vintage. You’ll get gems like the following:

08 Aug17 Sew Knit n Stretch

Now these are full coverage

08 Aug17 frill

LOVE the frill! I actually legitimately want these. Also: Fanny’s Fabrics? Irony is ALIVE.

08 Aug17 onesie

What is this onesie I can’t even

08 Aug17 thong

Again, Fanny got AROUND. Who wouldn’t want to sew their own thong-th-thong-thong-thong? Sorrynotsorry.

08 Aug17 girdle

On the whole other end of the spectrum, you can also make your very own Spanx! I mean girdle!

Completely off topic, I spend a few days last week in Palm Springs at a midcentury-modern hotel called the Orbit In, which was a delight. Here I am floating in my inflatable pretzel.  Since we’re on the topic of vintage, thought I’d share (look at that poolside bar!). Emily knows how to plan a weekend getaway.
08 Aug17 Palm Springs

Finished Project: A Christmas Robe in March

vintage yellow robe collage

Vintage McCall’s 5651
Fabric from ebay (vintage terrycloth)

It didn’t take six months like I predicted, but I’ve been absent because I was saving this post for you. I thought I would be done with this robe about three weekends ago, but there are no deadlines in this game called life.

Envelope of vintage sewing pattern McCall's 5651

A robe is one of those things that I never had any use for when I began sewing and one that felt a little too beginner once I became better at sewing. But, I also really don’t like clothes. I love having visitors, but I become seriously uncomfortable having to wear clothes for more than 10 hours a day. When I get home, I usually don’t keep my clothes on for more than 5 minutes. This can be a problem when say, UPS rings the doorbell at 1PM on a Saturday and I have to scramble to find clothes in order to sign for my package. And wrapping a Snuggie around me is probably a more inelegant image than I want to present to the world. So I finally made myself a robe so that my visitors, couriers, and I all can be a little more comfortable.

vintage yellow robe pockets

I love the button-closure on this robe instead of a tie belt– it’s one less piece to sew and I don’t have to deal with re-adjusting the belt over and over.

vintage yellow robe buttons

It has a tendency to expose up top. I wonder if I should put some buttons up the edge, like a jacket? We don’t have any visitors planned anytime soon, so I have some time to think about it.

vintage yellow robe closed

(me thinking about it)

And isn’t it so sweet that it has a skirt! It’s like a nice warm absorbent towel-dress.

vintage yellow robe skirt

I might make actual towels out of the scraps of this material. I’m pretty sure that’s what it was meant for. I got something like six yards for less than $20, thank god for ebay.

vintage yellow robe back

One of these days I’ll take myself seriously enough for self-portraits.

I’ve got a Salme pattern coming up next- I should probably make one or two things with less than four pieces. Some instant gratification might be motivating.