This month, with spring out in full force, I'm pleased as punch to bring you the third post in my recently launched vintage interview series. Today I have the great joy of sharing about Miss Esther Wagner with all of you.
If you don't know about Esther, if you're in for a wonderfully lovely treat, and if you do, you're sure to find even more to adore about this accomplished, kindhearted, incredibly talented young woman from the blog Dolly Creates.
Esther excels on the vintage sewing front, creating amazing, timelessly beautiful garment after garment using old school patterns and a gifted seamstress' eye for knowing what fabrics and embellishments to pair with what silhouettes.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Esther online for a while now and am sincerely honoured that she wanted to take part in this series. Join me, won't you, while I ask her about her blog, sewing, vintage fashion, music, cooking, her hobbies, and so much more!
For those who are new to your wonderful blog, could you please share a bit more about it with us?
Sure! I'm a Christian young lady with a passion for home skills. I love sewing, especially when I'm making a vintage or historical garment. I blog about mine (and my lovely mother's) vintage sewing creations, vintage magazines, and an occasional knit or crocheted project.
What inspired your site's charming name?
I'm so glad you asked! When I was little, I loved dolls, and had so many of them that I gained the nickname "Dolly" from my family! The name just seemed to stick all of these years, so when I started my blog a few years ago, that seemed like an appropriate title.
Whenever I visit your blog (which is often! :)), I am struck by a sense of two things first and foremost: serenity and old-fashionedness, and I say that as a wholly positive thing. What are some of the ways that you most enjoy currently bringing the past into your daily life?
Enjoying the simple things in life! Things like a walk in the garden (we call it the tour de fleur) ;), having tea-time, and playing a game together. Family has always been very important to us. Being homeschooled and having a dad who worked from the home, we have always been a very close family. We also enjoy old movies (pre-1950) and movies set in those eras.
What are some things (that you're 100% comfortable sharing) about yourself that your readers might not know yet?
I am 6' tall, the youngest of 4 siblings, and I really really don't like eggs. ;)
What is/are your favourite decades of all time from a fashion stand point?
I would have to say the 1940s are my absolute favorite. The styles are so very interesting and detailed that they have gained first place with me! I just can't get over the fact that although fabric supplies were very limited, ladies still managed to make the most gorgeous, ornate dresses! The 1930s and 1950s are both very close runners-up, however with their equally-as-gorgeous styles.
How often do you wear vintage styles?
Every day, actually! I used to love the modern fashions (chevron, infinity scarves, maxi skirts, etc), but once I discovered vintage fashions, they became my one-and-only favorite.
You are an accomplished and very creative sewer, what are some of your favourite projects that you've shared on your blog to date?
• 1950s "Redo" Dress
• Pleated 1950s Dress
• Little Black 1940s Dress
• Calico Regency Gown
(Jessica's note: a photo from each of these marvelous projects appears throughout this interview post.)
When did your love of sewing take root? Did you have sewing mentors or are you self-taught?
Last March is when my love of sewing started. I discovered a couple of ladies' blogs (Lily's and Tara's) that featured vintage-style garments that they had made, and I was just in love with the styles! I made my first vintage dress that same month, which got me "hooked" on sewing for good. As for how I was taught, my mother (very patiently) taught me how to sew! She has been sewing since grade school, so she is a very amazing seamstress. I am so thankful for her, and that she was able to teach me everything I know about it!!
What advice would you give to a novice sewer who is just starting out?
Don't let the seeming difficulty of pattern-reading, zipper-installing and buttonholing overwhelm you! They're all very easy once you have had a little bit of practice! Find an easy pattern such as Vogue V9000 (you could easily put a simple gathered skirt on it for a more '40s-inspired look) or Simplicity 1692, or an easy modern pattern of your liking.
Take it one step at a time, Google the pattern you are making to find a tutorial or sew-along on someone's blog, and have fun! You will be impressed by your own skills when you're done!
You make a lot of your own clothing. What percentage (roughly) of your closet at this point in time would you say you created with your own hands?
Approximately 96%, with the other 4% being store-bought sweaters and a couple of t-shirts and old skirts for exceedingly dirty jobs (tree-felling, painting...you get the drift.). My goal when I first started sewing garments was to have a completely handmade wardrobe, and I have finally reached that point!
What are some of the benefits that you find sewing enriches your life with?
•The ability to make my garments exactly as I want them. Being 6' tall, it wasn't an easy thing to find clothing that fit the way I wanted it to! Sewing allows me to personalize every little detail, making the whole experience quite enjoyable!
•That same aspect runs into many different areas as well; I can make clothing for my future children, linens and household items all in a specific way!
Your top five favourite sewing notions, tools and/or types of fabric would be?
•My very favorite sewing tool is the Pilot Frixion Erasable Marking Pen. I used to use the water-soluble markers, but then I would always have to either spritz or wash each garment after completion before I could wear it. With these pens, the marks iron out instantly!
•I also find the Nancy Zieman Sliding Gauge to be very helpful! It is a very useful tool for measuring with that long, straight edge.
•Cotton fabric! Probably 95% of my garments are made from cotton, and I just love it! Yes, it does mean a lot of ironing, but it is the most widely available, quality fabric in my area, and it usually works quite well for most patterns.
•A serger. We are fortunate enough as to have a serger, and it is just wonderful. It's so nice to have all of your raw edges taken care of - no worries!!
•Other ladies' sewing blogs. It is immensely helpful to be able to look at what other ladies have sewn for inspiration, directions, and encouragement!
Any exciting WIP's on the go right now that you can share with us?
I am in the middle of a late 1840s-early 1850s summer day dress right now. I took a short break from it in the last week or two, but I am looking forward to finishing it! Another 1950s blouse (Simplicity 1278) out of excess fabric from a previous project. I just love that pattern!
We just got an original '30s pattern last week which I am about to start making out of a gorgeous fabric inspired by that era. I'm very excited about it!
Please tell us more about the area where you live. It always looks so tranquil and beautiful in your photos.
We live in the Midwest, in a rural area surrounded by fields, woods, and a lovely little creek. It's a very lovely area; we're away from the hustle and bustle of town, but near enough to it to shop, eat, and all that good stuff! I've lived here all my life, and I definitely love it.
Do you currently live in a vintage/heritage home? (And if not, would you like to one day?)
No, our home was built in the '70s. I would love to live in a "vintage" home, although the idea of the upkeep that comes with such a house is a little daunting! Even so, I would like to one day!
When not sewing or blogging, what are some of your favourite things to do?
Playing the piano, gardening, baking, cooking, and fishing! The county we live in is just full of lakes, so we have plenty of opportunities to fish. There's just nothing like sight-fishing some panfish on a bright, warm spring day!
Like myself, you're a big fan of cooking. Do you enjoy making vintage recipes?
Surprisingly enough, I've never made any particular vintage recipe! (Shocking!) Some of the recipes I make are from my grandmas, so they may actually qualify as "vintage," but I have yet to delve into the realm of vintage cooking. Now I'm eager to try it!
What are some of your favourite dishes (vintage or contemporary) to whip up?
Oooh, hard question! It's hard to limit it to "some." ;) Anything chocolate, whether it be cookies, cakes, pies, candies or anything! Bread. There's something about making it that is quite satisfying! Spaghetti, plus steak and onions (with mushrooms).
Music is another big passion of yours, can you tell us more about which types and/or artists speak most deeply to your soul these days?
My favorite types of music are old-fashioned hymns, classical music, and Deanna Durbin songs. Chopin is definitely my favorite classical composer; nocturnes and waltzes are my favorite pieces. They are packed with so much emotion and feeling!!
I certainly see you as such, but I'm curious, do you consider yourself to be a highly creative person?
Well, to a certain extent, yes! I am not creative in the area of art (drawing, painting); I never have been. I have absolutely no talent in that realm! It's rather amazing, especially since all of my siblings are wonderful artists! Apparently I missed inheriting that trait! But I do consider myself to be quite creative in the area of sewing and handwork.
What's one crafty/creative thing you'd like to try that you've never delved into before?
Bobbin lace. It looks immensely difficult, but I like a challenge once in a while! And the lace that you can make is stunningly gorgeous.
And last, but certainly not least, what are some of your dreams/goals - sewing, blogging or otherwise related - for the future?
•Working on my Etsy shop (also called Dolly Creates), which I just launched this month. It is devoted to handmade vintage and historical fashions for women and children.
•After I get more of an "established" wardrobe built up, I would like to focus on some sewing for my hope chest. I would love to make table linens, curtains, pillowcases, aprons, and other things for my (Lord-willing) future home. I also want to sew many more children's clothes in order that I can someday clothe my children almost entirely in handmade clothing.
•I look forward also to (Lord-willing) getting married one day, having children, and serving the Lord in whatever way He directs!
Jessica's note ~ You can also connect with Esther on Pinterest.
♥ ♥ ♥
I have nothing but the deepest respect for Esther and her passion for sewing, the past, domestic arts, music, and blogging. On top of being a gifted lady, she is also a truly sweet, caring, giving, smart, lovely individual and someone for whom all of our feed readers will be/are bettered by following, no matter if you're a sewer or not.
As you can see from this bevy of photos, Esther has a great knack for putting together period appropriate looks that are sure to inspire one and all, on top of sharing many helpful how-tos, ideas, resources and other can't-miss features on her fantastic blog.
Thank you so much for the beautiful interview, Esther. I truly adored getting to know you and Dolly Creates better, as I'm sure my readers did as well.
Next month, for June's vintage blogger interview, we'll be jetting back across the Atlantic to talk to one of the most stylish old school loving gals in Germany. I can hardly wait! :)