Almost September

What?  It is almost September and time to assess just exactly what I accomplished the last three months.  I have a friend whose late mother always said, “A flurry of activity at the end of the day does not make up for earlier unfocused, unproductive hours.”  I guess the same could be said for the waning days of a month or a season.  However, despite my nagging feeling that I have not accomplished much this summer, I have actually made some progress on my never-ending list.

For one thing, I tackled the alterations on my silk floral dress about which I wrote earlier in the summer.  I took out the hand-picked, lapped zipper to see if resetting it would give me enough ease over the tight bust and uncomfortable back.  There was much to take out and then put back in:  the lining, part of the neck ruffle, the understitching of the neck facing, and of course the entire zipper, in addition to reattaching the silk organza underlining back to the fashion fabric.  Thank goodness for the ample seam allowances which, in true couture fashion, enabled me to add just enough extra across the back.  Yes, it worked, and I am so much happier with the fit and the look of the dress.  Now I can wear it or hope to wear it! (Someday?)  I still think I will tweak the neckline a bit if I make this pattern again, but I do feel I salvaged this dress.

Well,  these are not the shoes I intend to wear with this dress. They happen to be the only heels I have with me this summer.

This dress fits so much better… I’m so happy I did not put off “fixing” this dress until … who knows when!

Several weeks of the summer were devoted to home decorative sewing, including pillows, cushions, and a tailored bed skirt.  I won’t bore you with that! But it was all very time-consuming, as those things tend to be.  More weeks were spent, happily, with welcoming  family for visits and extended stays and even some sewing for my granddaughters. I have never known two little girls who enjoy “playing dress-up” more than my two.  In a weak moment a couple of years ago I purchased this amazing vintage pattern of the Chiquita Banana Señorita’s dress in girls’ size 6-8.

The Chiquita Banana copyright for this costume is from 1947. The pattern is undated, but it is undoubtably from the 1950s.

I knew this was the summer to make these dresses, so I was off to the races on them.  I opted for rick rack rather than bias tape as the decorative trim. I ordered the fabric from Farmhouse Fabrics – a cotton/poly blend which was lovely, and in equally lovely colors.  As the dresses got heavier and heavier as I worked on them, I decided to eliminate the third row of ruffles.  As it turned out, the dresses were amply sized.  My 5-year-old granddaughter reassured me that it was so good to have dresses with room to grow.  And so, these fiesta dresses will serve them for at least a couple of years.

I wanted the girls to have different colored dresses, and I got creative with the colors, as I really think of these as “fiesta” dresses rather than Chiquita Banana. Lots of twirling ensued!

And then last week – yes the last full week of the month – I was finally able to focus on what will be my last make of Summer. Here is the pattern:

This pattern is dated 1957.

And here is the fabric:

I was fortunate to find this vintage piece of Moygashel linen several years ago. It is also from the 1950s.

And so my last minute flurry of sewing activity is well underway.  Happy September!

22 Comments

Filed under hand-sewn zippers, Moygashel linen, Ruffles, Sewing for children, sewing in silk, Sheath dresses, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s

22 responses to “Almost September

  1. Annette LoVoi

    Congrats on your beautiful dress! Can you give me a few more details about the fabric? Annette LoVoi

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    • Thank you, Annette. I am assuming you mean the linen fabric? Moygashel linen, made in Ireland, was known for its ability to resist wrinkling. During the 1950s, ’60s, and into the 1970s, the company produced the most amazing designs, embroidered linens and beautiful dress goods. I have been fortunate to find quite a few lengths of it for sale over the years, and will always love sewing with it. Unfortunately the company quit producing dress goods – I think by 1980, maybe earlier. If you do an online search for Moygashel, you can learn more about it.

  2. lynnetangolynnejim

    Your granddaughters are adorable in their special dresses. How lucky they are to have you sew for them. Your explanation regarding the dress alterations will encourage me the next time I have fitting issues. Thank you for all you share. I love following your posts and enjoy seeing your talent.

  3. janney ryan

    Love your creations!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  4. I cannot wait to see the vintage dress style in action! It’s just a bit earlier than the research for my current book is taking me.

  5. Mery

    Your beautiful dress now looks perfect on you. Your blue sky, mountains and wildflowers are are so stunning that it seems perfectly natural for you to be wearing a silk dress out among them..

    You had a productive sewing summer with home dec, your good shirts, and wonderful girls’ dress-up dresses.

    I remember the alpaca dress you made with a similar pattern. It was a very pretty dress , but that’s not why I remember it. Alpaca is so warm and lightweight I’ve been planning to incorporate it into a zip-out lining for use in multiple coats. Your new dress will be lovely too

    • You have a great memory, Mery! I wear that alpaca dress on REALLY cold days and it keeps me very warm. Not sure I would now use alpaca for a dress, but that’s all part of the learning process. It makes more sense for a zip-out lining – which sounds like quite a project!
      Considering everything, I think I actually did get a lot finished this summer. For some reason, it did not feel particularly satisfying. But nothing felt particularly satisfying this summer… Still hoping for a better Fall!

  6. Unpicking this was so worth it, what a beautiful dress this is now! The fiesta dresses for your grands are wonderful, they will enjoy them for a couple of years….I’m betting until they are knee length; they look like my girls did, sweet little “sticks” that only grow up and not out! I have some ripping to do this week, I have an inner crotch seam that is just not laying right so I need to take it out and deal with it. The other side lays perfectly but this one had to be eased, and it is just not right.

    • Ripping and unpicking is all part of the process of sewing, isn’t it? I certainly do my fair share! The girls love their dresses, despite the fact that they absolutely hang on them. You’re right, they don’t have much girth to fill them out!
      Good luck with that crotch seam.

  7. Deborah Jenkins

    I am impressed and amazed that you are able to keep fabric for as long as I am old; 56 plus years. How do you do it?

    • Most of the vintage fabric I use are pieces I have purchased over the past few years, mostly from eBay and Etsy. So they are “new” to me. I do, however, have a few pieces which I purchased in the early ‘70s, which somehow have survived my “deaccessioning”. I have a difficult time getting rid of beautiful fabrics!

  8. Karen, I’m so happy you rescued the floral dress. It is such a beauty! And thanks for sharing the beautiful dresses for your granddaughters. Can’t wait to see your next creation in the Moygashel linen!

    • Oh, Sharon, I’m happy, too, that I was able to save it! I wasn’t sure what I would do if resetting the zipper did not work. Whew! I’m working on the Moygashel linen dress and making sure I try it on often. I’ve learned my lesson!

  9. Bravo on saving that beautiful floral dress! I can only imagine the headaches you incurred and the feeling of accomplishment when you were finished. It’s just beautiful…… and so are your granddaughters !

    • Thanks, Sarah! Yes, it was headache, but once I got myself in the right mood, nothing was going to derail my plans to save it somehow! Actually my older granddaughter was great encouragement. She saw it hanging in my closet and hoped I would fix it as it was “so pretty.”

  10. Marguerite

    Love the fiesta dresses! Perfect for your lovely granddaughters! I visited Malaga, Spain last year and there were many girls and women wearing dresses just like this all over the city. So beautiful!
    Always fun to see what you have been sewing!

  11. I found the email notice for this post in my Junk email folder. I’ve made sure that never happens again! You’re such an amazing inspiration for all of us who hope to be a little like you. I have a 9-yr old granddaughter who couldn’t be bribed into a dress like what you made for yours and I’m so jealous but she did let me make special pillow cases for sweet dreams in her new bed, so I will take what Granny prize I can get. Your alterations look perfect and your dress and those mountains are beautiful. I’ve been fortunate to have a sewing coach for a few years and she has helped to refresh my skills and teach me new techniques. I’m losing my fear of the unknown pattern, new techniques and how to fit myself. Today I finished Vogue skirt pattern V8759 (A) and I’m happy with the finished result. I look forward to your next post.

    • Thank you, Peggy! Your comment made my day! Pillow cases sound like a lot less work than fiesta dresses, so consider yourself fortunate😉. Plus, your granddaughter won’t grow out of them! So happy to hear of your sewing successes and steady progress. We are all always learning…

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