I've mentioned before how I like to use vintage millinery flowers with wire stems in my hairstyles. The only difficulty is they can be hard to find, come in odd colors and sizes, and often are crushed, stained, or have other flaws from being poorly stored, or simply from age.
A cheaper and more readily available option is paper flowers.
There is a huge variety of these available, ranging from large roses to tiny baby's breath. My favorite size for hairstyling are blooms about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, like these dainty daises.
Because they have wire stems, they are easy to arrange in your hair and generally the stems are invisible because they are so thin. I usually don't need to pin them in at all in a structured hairstyle like this one, but a bobby pin underneath that crosses the stem is sure to secure it if your hair is loose.
Hair flowers are popular today with ladies styling the vintage look, and with good reason. They are very period correct in almost any placement, size, and combination. They add a dash of color to your hair, often coordinating with the outfit, and are (my favorite reason) incredibly helpful in hiding a not quite smooth roll or wave, or filling an unbecoming space in your curls. If your hairstyle didn't turn out as symmetrical as you were hoping, hair flowers on one side can make it look intentionally asymmetrical. They can add height to a lower hairstyle, or width to a built-up one. If you need to soften the edges of a wave or roll, tuck in some small flowers behind it to fill it in. Their uses are endless!
In the 1940s, hair flowers reached their peak of popularity. You can find pictures of them worn in every way, from a few dainty blossoms...
...to the slightly more outrageous.
A rose clipped over the ear on one side or both sides was popular, or nestled in an up-do. But pretty much any placement anywhere in any hairstyle was acceptable. See the variety in these vintage images.
By the 1950s, hair flowers had largely gone out of fashion, though flower covered hats and headbands were very popular (as well as flower wreaths or headbands for brides). But after some searching I did find a few images of 1950s hairstyles sporting flowers.
One benefit of paper flowers is they are so pose-able and lightweight, as well as cost-efficient and realistic. But on the other hand, you don't want to get them wet, and though usually pretty sturdy, they can be crushed. So far the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, in my experience, and I love how cheap and easy to find they are, and how many colors and sizes are available - something that is not the case with vintage millinery flowers.
Daisies in particular add a breath of spring to your outfit.
Incidentally, this is another case when a hairnet is an instant fix for a disaster hairstyle. Instead of working for a long time trying to tame too-wild curls with pokey ends, a hairnet smooths it all down and tucks it all up - like magic!
Hair flowers are quintessentially feminine, perfect for everyday or dress-up occasions, stay put for worry free hairstyles if you initially secure them well, and add a lift to your mood and special touch to your outfit, while staying relatively out of the way of small fingers, if you have children - unlike a corsage, brooch, or necklace. I just need to add more colors to my collection!
I finally got around to working on the pile of new listings waiting for my Etsy shop. As a result, there are lots of new things in the shop, both vintage and handmade! I've showcased a few here, but there are lots more to come.
And just for my blog readers, use the coupon VERITYREADER10 for 10% off your total purchase of $5 or more! If you aren't ready to purchase now, no worries - the coupon is good for the rest of the month.
I've always loved vintage linens, especially handkerchiefs. But I never want to use them for their original purpose, so I like to come up with new ways to enjoy them. Hankies with a decorative edge can be used as removable jabots, for instance, when pinned under a collar - or used to fill a V neck when pinned underneath.
Home decor ideas are also a great way to showcase some elegant, delicate hankies, like these four coordinating ones I got from Lily at Mode de Lis when she was having a sale. They are exquisite with their white-on-white embroidery and cutwork, and the cotton is so fine it's like gauze. Too pretty to use, but not to display!
I sewed them together by hand, to make a larger square. Because they were so thin and see-through, I backed them with a square of muslin I cut out slightly smaller than the hankie square, and serged.
These two squares were held together to make a pull-across curtain for a small window in my new house, and because I used curtain clips, I can at any time unclip the squares and cut the threads that sew the hankies together, so they can remain in their original state.
There are lots of ways to use hankies as curtains or valances, and hopefully I can use more of them in future, but for now I love how easy it is to get a simple elegant curtain and enjoy the beauty of these lovely vintage pieces every day.
Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure my vintage hankie collection will continue to grow! :-)
...that no matter how many buttons one collects, one rarely has the right buttons for the current sewing project!
This truth leads to the buying of vintage button lots, in the hopes that you can fill some of the gaps for next time! And buying large button lots lead to a few hours' spree doing button sorting while watching Poirot.
There were a lot of buttons that should be easy to use, in various quantities for blouses or button-down dresses, but some will need just the right project to accessorize, like these lovely old ones.
How fun to see them in person and discover all the neat ones you didn't notice in the photos! It's like a treasure hunt.
I have to admit, the red buttons were a big reason for buying this lot! I just have a thing for red buttons...they will probably mostly end up on blue dresses, too! :-)
A lot of these had threads from previous use. It's fun to think that they outlived some beautiful vintage garment and now get a new lease on life.
I know I filled some button needs in my stash with this lot (and - ahem - added considerably to my collection), and will enjoy seeing what I end up using from these in the near future. I may still have to plan some outfits around the buttons, instead of the other way around...but a girl can't have too many buttons, right?
This dress is one reason I wrote last week's post about procrastination. I cut it out over a month ago, then there it sat. I couldn't get the impetus to start it, until I forced myself to sit down and work on it for half an hour. That half an hour turned into an hour and a half, and when I stopped for the day, I had the bodice and one sleeve done! After that it was a breeze and I enjoyed finishing it.
It's my first 2017 Polka Dot Project, and I have to say, I love getting back to using the print, and love the fabric. It's some of the higher end quilting cotton at JoAnn's, gotten on sale, and there is definitely a difference with how it handles and launders compared to their cheaper bolts (makes sense, right?) It has polka dots of three different sizes, and the narrow plaid pattern made it ideal to help me make things straight when putting it together. It presses and lays like a dream, and I'm hoping it won't need ironed too badly when washed, because I will wear it a lot more often if I don't have to iron it first.
It's also my first attempt at a 1950s classic - the coat dress.
It's funny that whenever I do a project that closes with a zipper, I think, "At least I don't have to do buttonholes!" and when I do a project using buttons, I think, "At least I get a break from putting in a zipper!" :-)
But all bets are off now, because I got to use for the first time my new one step buttonhole foot (came with my new Singer machine I purchased when I got married) and I love it. It's so easy, does everything all on it's own, and I get perfectly sized buttonholes every time. I don't think I'll dread buttonholes any more!
Speaking of buttonholes, I came to a grinding halt with this project when I realized I literally had no buttons in my huge stash that would work. I was toying with the idea of covering some, but not completely happy with that notion, when we happened to stop in at a thrift store the next day and I asked them if they had buttons. They did, and most of them were navy blue! I wish I would have had one more card of these, since I didn't have enough to button it down quite as far as I'd like, but they were the perfect match.
After listing all the "firsts" about this dress, let me get back to the details. It really is a basic dress. I interfaced the buttonhole side of the skirt, and the bodice, with some muslin. It is easy to adjust to fit, because you can try it on so handily and adjust the various seams. I omitted the cuffs on the sleeves since I wanted this to be a practical house dress with no fuss to it - I definitely need some transitional everyday dresses in my wardrobe, so that's what I'm working on supplying, and this one fits the bill since it's cotton (I can layer with a slip if needed) and has 3/4 sleeves.
The sleeves were interesting too - my first time doing a sleeve in 2 parts like this one was. A front half and a back half, with a seam running down the center, matching the shoulder seam. Interesting. I think they must have done it that way to cut out a lot of the ease at the top, which otherwise would have been puffy if it had all been gathered in to the shoulder. I actually think these sleeves are a little too full for my taste (though more comfortable than the fitted 3/4 sleeve style). I already have wide shoulders, and don't want to look like a football player. :-)
The skirt has a nice fullness and flare, without being too full or needing a crinoline. I don't think it would fit over my crinolines anyway.
Because this is a house dress, I paired it simply with navy blue vintage heels and the classic strand of pearls. The belt is a modern one. I later found a different belt that would have looked better, but too late for these photos.
We were hurrying to finishing photos before an upcoming winter storm reached us, and the wind made things interesting!
The collar is another alteration. I did the mandarin collar version originally, but it turned out larger than I expected, and didn't lay right against my short neck. I fixed it by tacking it down and so I ended up with a small turn-down collar instead. Still Period, and more becoming.
(Sigh...These certainly aren't my favorite outfit photos, but we still have enough snow and slush everywhere that I have a very limited range of photo spots at the moment, and have to take them when and where I can.)
So there's my latest sewing project. I'm not absolutely in love with every element of it and I don't know if I'll make the pattern again, but it was fun to do, fills a need in my closet, and is certainly a classic!
Much as seamstresses love to sew, sometimes we can get excited about a new fabric or pattern, and even go so far as to pair it with the perfect match and cut it out. There it is, neatly stacked and folded beside the sewing machine...and we just can't find the initiative to sit down and actually work on it.
Here are a half dozen tips I've found helpful to save another project from the UFO pile, and break through the fog of sewing procrastination to get things done.
1. Set rewards for yourself. If you have to work on something more mundane (say, like maybe a slip you really need instead of the detailed 1930s dress you feel like making), set yourself the reward of making a Want project next. When I have things I need in my wardrobe, I'll alternate them with projects that I want to make. This spurs me to finish the Need project...and of course, I'm always glad I have it to wear when it's finished, even if it wasn't the most interesting and exciting project.
2. If you have a hard time getting started, fix it in one of two ways. First, set a timer for yourself for just 30 minutes. Force yourself to sit down and sew for those 30 minutes. You'll be surprised how fast you can get a project done in increments of only 30 minutes at a time. It's not that big of a time commitment, and should be easy to fit into your day. The bonus is you'll likely get interested and want to sew longer, which is fine too!
The second fix is this: look at your pattern instruction sheet. Decide to do Steps 1-3, or however many steps it will take to get to a good stopping place. This might be just the front and back darts and shoulder seams of the bodice. That's ok. Next time you are that much farther along. The main thing is to keep coming back, even if it's just for a short time. A little a day really does add up!
(The first fix also works well for mending and UFOs. Work for 30 minutes on your mending and UFO pile, then allow yourself to get back to what you're really itching to work on.)
3. If there is a particular step that you are dreading in a project (sleeves, interfacing, hand sewing, buttonholes, a flock of tiny tucks or pleats...) sew right up until that particular step. Then stop for the day. The next day you can start right in on the dreaded part while you are fresh, and it likely will be much easier and go faster than you anticipated! It's no fun to put in and rip out a sleeve 3 times just because you're tired. Don't force yourself to keep going if it only ends in frustration.
4. Take a break from sewing. Do something else for a while. Then browse Pinterest for photos of clothing you're interested in making. Often that will get the creative urge back in full swing and you'll be excited to start another project. A trip to the fabric store is often inspirational as well...though perhaps more expensive. :-)
5. If it's hard to finish a project because you were initially excited, but it isn't turning out like you had hoped, or maybe doesn't fit or flatter you as much as you had anticipated, you can either decide to finish it anyway and sell or give it away, or put some thought into a refashion before you spend more time on it. Sometimes a dress will work better as a skirt, with the bodice pieces used as trim for a coordinating blouse or beret. If it turned out too short, try adding a band of a contrasting solid color, which you can tie in with little bows of the same fabric on the sleeves. If it's a button-up, try it with another kind or color of buttons - it's amazing how a dress can be taken from ordinary or a wee bit boring to elegant and stand-out with just a few finishing touches. If you are adventurous, try using buttons of different sizes, or covering your own with a bright print.
Make sure you try it on with a belt and shoulder pads before you despair, though. Shoulder pads can be magic in making a bodice suddenly fit well, and a belt is even more amazing to give some definition and interest to what had been a too-shapeless dress.
6. Clean up your sewing space. It's amazing how much more you'll feel like working in a tidy space. Dust the table and sweep the floor. If you don't have room for your things on shelves or drawers, at least stack them neatly. Then sit down with peace of mind and get some sewing done. Never mind that you're just making the floor dirty again! :-)
Actually, interestingly enough, the same thing goes for you too. If you are dressed and combed and feel well put together, you're more likely to want to sew, and to do things well. How you dress affects your attitude. Try putting on nail polish and heels to spruce yourself up before you sit down at the machine!