May 21, 2015

Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger: Esther Wagner, vintage sewer extraordinaire


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! :)

45 comments:

  1. Such an amazing post! The WWW is full of talented, inspiring and wonderful persons (i.e. sewers!), but I just haven't got the time to browse for hours and hours. So this is a lovely idea. Thanks for introducing Esther!

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    1. You're so sweet, Doris, thank you very much! I feel honoured to have had a chance to interview Esther and to share more about her talents, passions, and wonderful blog here with all my readers.

      I really appreciate your great comment and hope this month is treating you beautifully, dear lady.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  2. A very inspiring lady! Although Esther says sewing's easy once you've had a bit of practice, I still look at the amazing things she can do and find it incredibly impressive, while knowing I'll never be able to do it! I do, however, have a knack for art, so perhaps that's where my creative genes went ;) 96% handmade wardrobe absolutely blows my mind... CC x

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    1. I am with you 110%! Granted, I've never had someone sit down and really try to teach me how to sew (though I did take basic sewing in high school home ec and am grateful for the introductory skills that I picked up there), but even if they did and I developed my abilities, I sense that I would never be one of those people for whom sewing comes naturally (ditto for me and knitting). I admire Esther's impressive talents in this field to no end and think that she has such a great gift.

      Thank you very much for your wonderful comment, sweet dear!
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. You're so sweet, CiCi!! :)

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  3. Oh wow! I wish I had her sewing talent. Those are some awesome dresses.

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  4. Thank you so, so much for interviewing me, Jessica! It was wonderful to participate, and I really appreciate the opportunity to gain more followers as well! :) You did an amazing job with the questions, asking the perfect ones, as you have done with the other ladies.
    You're such a kind, sweet lady and I have very much enjoyed getting to know you.

    Have a wonderful rest of the week!
    Esther

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    1. You're super welcome, Esther, it was a true pleasure. I too have greatly enjoyed getting to know you better and love the deeper connection that we've forged via this fun interview. Many heartfelt thanks again for taking part in it and for the thought, time and consideration that you put into each of your lovely answer.

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  5. Oh thank you for that scintillating interview. Clever one, she is indeed! I think I shall frequent her website an all!
    -Krystle! 1930slife.blogspot.com

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  6. Michael ThurmondMay 21, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Well done, Lady for God!

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  7. Jessica thank you for sharing Esther with us.
    I loved reading about her and her individuality, she's like no other - in a very positive way.

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  8. Yet another fantastic and interesting interview. You always ask such a variety questions Jessica so that we can get to know the lovely blogger in question. Esther is such a fantastic seamstress and it's hard to believe that she's only been sewing since last march, how inspirational! Thank you for this great interview, I'm looking forward to the next! Best wishes xx

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    1. You're so wonderfully sweet, dear Hayley, thank you very much. I'm trying to space the blogger interview posts about a month apart (give or take a little) and it's amazing how quickly time is whizzing past between each one! I'm thrilled to know that you enjoy this series and diverse questions I try to pose to each new interviewee.

      Big hugs & many happy wishes for the rest of the week!
      ♥ Jessica

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  9. I knew her blog before but somehow lost it ... now, I have her back on my list! Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. That's definitely easy to have happen. I've "misplaced" blogs before, too, and am always so happy to rediscover them. I'm delighted to helped connect you two again.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  10. What a lovely interview! Esther is one of my favorite bloggers. How fun to read these questions & answers. :D

    ~Michelle ^_^
    Delightful Handwork

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  11. What a lovely interview! It was splendid getting to know Esther even better! I too love to bake anything chocolate. :D And I'm going to have to look up those sewing tools that Esther mentioned.

    Brigid
    the Middle Sister and Singer

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    1. Oh my, too, and my husband adores eating it! (He's a huge chocolate fan - I even devoted a whole recipe post to that very point once. :))

      Thank you for your wonderfully nice comment, sweet Brigid. Wishing you and your family a marvelous Memorial Day weekend!

      ♥ Jessica

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  12. Such talent. The dresses are perfect
    Retro rover

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  13. Such a lovely interview with one of my favourite bloggers. I am the same. I am very crafty, especially with sewing, but my artistic skill has never developed

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    1. Thank you sweetly, my dear. Having a crafty/creative side is one of the most wonderful blessings one can have bestowed upon them, I truly believe, and it's fantastic that you have a passion for creating as well (I wouldn't call myself an artist really either, as I can't draw to save my life and don't play an instrument, but I am certainly crafty and creative, which are great things to be unto themselves).

      Big hugs & happy weekend wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  14. Esther has become such an accomplished dressmaker in a relatively short time! Very inspiring interview and very impressed with her talent and style. I particularly love the 1940s black dress.

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  15. She has a lot of talent, you can see it from afar :-) Plus, she has great taste in shoes, I want them all! Thank you for the inspiring interview!

    Mariann from dreamyraccoonsale.wordpress.com

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  16. Another fantastic interview, I am happy to add another blog to my list. Thank you for introducing me to a fantastic blog!

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    1. You're very welcome, my dear! I love Esther's blog. There is an ingrained elegance and sense of timeless serenity to it that is as rare as hen's teeth in the online world.

      Have a marvelous weekend!
      ♥ Jessica

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  17. What an interesting interview! Thanks for sharing this! :D

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  18. Thank you for sharing such an accomplished seamstress with us! I do love her eye for creating a vintage, outfit, right down to accessories! I love the last outfit best of all. It's so cheerful and pretty xx

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    1. It is my sincere pleasure, dear Philippa. Esther is not only talented, she's kind, humble, fun, smart, and a truly lovely person, so I was over-the-moon thrilled when she was amongst the first people to reply to my call for interviewees for this series.

      I hope you're doing well and having a beautiful May.

      Tons of gentle hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  19. Oh, wow, I am so charmed by your blog and Esther's interview! She looks lovely and her outfits are really amazing! I wish I could have some of them! She is really sweet and I love Chopin as well!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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    1. Hi Denise, thank you very much for your lovely comment. Esther is a truly sweet person, I completely agree. Likewise Chopin gets three big cheers from me as well!

      Have a beautiful Sunday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  20. Wow. I can't believe she has sewn all these things! I can hardle sew a button

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  21. I really enjoyed this interview. Such talented ladies here! I'm a big fan of Esther and her blog, and it made me happy to see her getting interviewed here! :)
    ~Theresa

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    1. That's splendidly nice to hear, Theresa, thank you very much for your lovely comment.

      Have a beautiful week,
      ♥ Jessica

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  22. You really do have such a talent for interviews Jessica; I love the way you seem to ask all the right questions that help us to get to know these amazing bloggers better. Thank you for all the time you take to do these features!

    Also, I already knew Esther's blog before, but can I say that it was really lovely to 'meet' her this way too? She is such a talented seamstress and I adore the fabrics she picks out! Every single time I'm drooling over the pretty color palettes of her makes! :) ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

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    1. You most certainly can (say that) and I know just what you mean. I'm truly finding that even when I'm already well acquainted, if not out and out friends with, a fellow blogger already, I always feel a bit like I'm getting to meet them again for the first time when I read their answers.

      No matter how much one shares about themselves and their interests on their blog, there's always going to be things they haven't said and/or passions they might not have covered, and I really strive to bring out those kinds of points in these individually tailored interviews.

      Thank you very, very much for your truly wonderful comment and ongoing enthusiasm for this series. I'm really exciting for June's interviewee, as she'll be the first to be featured in this series from Germany (and because she's such a stylish, lovely person).

      Tons of hugs!
      ♥ Jessica

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  23. I have only recently found her blog, after following a link from somewhere as I was taken by her handmade outfit. So I have learnt lots her thanks to your great list of questions. Esther has such a talent for sewing, I enjoyed seeing even more of her outfits. I am seriously impressed at how much of her wardrobe is handmade, I would love to be able to achieve that one day.

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    1. I truly am as well. She has such an amazing talent and puts it to work in the most elegant, lovely ways.

      Thank you for your wonderfully nice comment, sweet Kate. I hope that you're doing well and having a great last week of May!

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  24. Wow, she is so talented! The first picture was enough to sell me, but ensemble, after lovely ensemble...I'll have to check out her blog. I can't believe I hadn't heard of her yet.

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    1. Yay! I'm really happy to have been able to introduce you to Esther and her resplendent sewing blog.

      ♥ Jessica

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  25. Well this might just be a great blog for me to follow ^^ I'm new to sweing and I get frustrated so easly :\

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  26. Oh Jess, I've told that I don't have time to follow more blogs, and now I am completely in love with this charming lady's blog. Have a lovely Sunday, I'm cleaning, sigh. :)

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    1. My bad, my bad! :D I hear you there, but if ever there was one to squeeze in room for, Esther's is it. Her work is incredibly inspiring, she's sweet as the day is long, and she shares the loveliest snippets of her vintage and crafting filled world. How can you not adore her to pieces?

      Big hugs & happy start of June wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  27. Love her creations, such talent! Not much at sewing, except for heming and easy mends, but couldn't manage her Regency or Civil War era styles.

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    1. She really is a gifted sewer and so humble about it, too, which is rather refreshing in this day and age.

      ♥ Jessica

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