Monday, February 27, 2017

Totally Hooked

I have wanted to learn swing dancing for years. Lots of years. This year, I finally have the money and time to spend on it. Well, at least the money. Time is pretty tight, but I make it work. With a little bit of Youtube learning under my belt, I went to an open swing dance night. I did a lot of watching and a little bit of dancing and had so much fun! So I went back the next week, came home, and signed up for lessons - I figured it might be nice to actually know what I was doing. I've been taking lessons for a few weeks now and love it more every time. Youtube is still my best friend in this whole learning process. I can sometimes be found behind a closed door late at night practicing dance steps with the music turned down low.


Last week there was a 1950's sock hop. I love '50's clothing, music, and dancing, so it was pretty much the best event ever. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to make a fun outfit! I originally wanted to just buy something, but I couldn't find anything that would work, so I got raw materials - a long pink dress with a jacket and a black sheer curtain of some sort with black velvet dots. Strange materials, right?


The curtain was large enough that it would be easy to cut pieces for a full skirt fromit, but I wasn't sure how I would manage that with the dress. I ended up being able to get five pieces like the one below, four from the dress and one from the back of the jacket. Pieces for the waistband came from the front of the jacket, and there was a zipper in the back of the dress that I was able to use as well.


I was kind of in a hurry making the skirt, so I didn't take any in-process pictures, but here is the finished product:


My 'hem' consisted of zig-zag finishing stitch on the pink fabric. The black dotted sheer was fine with just a raw edge, although I will probably eventually brush it with nail polish to keep it from fraying.

I paired the skirt with a white shirt and jean jacket. I also made myself a matching scarf. It was so much fun to wear!!


I love dancing so much! My family says I am a little obsessed. I would have to agree. But hey, it's good exercise! If you've been thinking about trying swing dancing, you totally should. Although I will warn you, once you're in, you'll never want to stop!

I think I should have been born in the 1950's...or that we should have events like this all the time so I can make more 1950's dresses. I also think I am going to need an extra whole closet for all of my special occasion dresses that I wear once every few years. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fast Forward to Vintage

A couple weeks ago, some friends hosted an "It's a Wonderful Life"-themed party. People were encouraged to dress up in 1940's attire. I didn't have anything in my closet that would work, so a few days before the party - in true procrastination style - I started shopping around at thrift stores. A last-ditch effort shopping run the morning of the party finally yielded a dress, but it was something I would have to alter. Was it a wise idea? Probably not, but I really didn't want to go without something era-appropriate. So a few hours before it was time to leave, I sat down at the sewing machine.

Actually, the first part of the alteration took place at the iron. The skirt had accordion pleats all the way down. From what I had seen, that was not a part of 1940's style. So I ironed them all out. That was the most time-consuming part of the alteration. From there, I took the sleeves out so I could sew in the sides of the dress, as it was too big. The sleeves were also too wide, so I sewed them in as well. I left them wide at the top, however, and added gathers at the shoulders. That was something I had seen a lot when looking at pictures of 1940's dresses.

I think the alteration took an hour and a half. Maybe two hours. Not bad. High pressure projects aren't my favorite thing, but sometimes they just happen...maybe more often than sometimes. Too bad I can't promise I won't do something like that again.

Here are before and after pictures:

You can't really see the gathers at the shoulders in the picture, but you can tell that the top is smaller and the skirt really changed shape without the pleats.

I think it's more of an early 1940's style. I had looked up a lot of 1940's dresses online before shopping. Here is one of the pictures I found, the one that inspired me to buy my dress:


And here are a few more pictures of similar dresses:



Love that last one!

Me in my dress...


...and some pictures from the evening (thanks, Melissa!):






The host and hostess:


Such a fun party! Lots of good food, visiting, fun games...I didn't stay for the dancing, but that looked pretty fun, too.

It is a wonderful life. Don't forget to enjoy it, and be grateful!