May 31, 2015

Vintage Link Love for May 2015

Noooo May, please don't go, I love you ever so much and have built a shine to you out of sundresses, wedge sandals, and straw accessories - isn't that enough to appease you to stick around for another hundred years or so?

No dice? Pleas in vein? June is "insisting" on arriving no matter what? Shucks, okay, if it has to do, fine. After all, it is a pretty darn fantastic month, too!

Hee-hee, okay, not that I've got that out of my system, on with the show! :)

May whizzed by at the speed of light and I'm happy to say that in a lot of respects, it was a better month that April. After all, how could it not be with my Etsy shop hitting its first birthday back on the 6th?

I've also been pouring a ton, and I do mean a ton, of thought and energy into thinking about (and in some cases, getting the ball rolling when it comes to) change this month, as I discussed at length in this recent post. I feel like I'm swirling around in a vortex of ideas and excitement at the moment. In the weeks and months that follow, I want to wrangle some of these ideas in and put them into action, and I couldn't be happier about that prospect.

I feel like I need to proverbially clear some cobwebs, so to speak, out of my life - both online and off - and to also work on showing you guys even more sides of who I am (a topic I may devote a post to in the near future, though I did delve into that topic in some respects in this entry last July).

For today however, on this last, gloriously pretty day of May, it's time for the monthly edition of Vintage Link Love, and goodness, am I fired up about the fabulously fun, informative, and highly inspiring list of stories in this one. From how to make lipstick with an every day art and crafts supply item to the debunking of some all to common vintage myths, there is so much to love about these awesome posts!!!

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Recommended Online Reading for Vintage Style Enthusiasts: To say that Natalie has blown it out of the water with this thoroughly, helpful, marvelous post - that honestly teeters on the cusp of being called a directory, IMO - would be an understatement. From blogs to YouTube channels, Facebook pages to Pinterest accounts and oodles more, this wonderful post shares some of the best and brightest, most helpful and inspiring vintage related websites and personalities to be had anywhere on the web. Run, don't walk, over to this post, read every last word, share it, and bookmark it, because this is the kind of entry you'll want to refer back to time and time again.

Ten tips for petite vintage style: Being a short lass myself (I just barely scrape in at 5'2"), I'm allays eager to read more about how my fellow petite lasses dress for their height and bodies, and absolutely adore the selection of terrific advice that CiCi shared on the subject recently in this post (very much including tip #1 - midi dresses and skirts are by far the most flatting and leg lengthening option for me as well!).

The evolution of women's workwear: This photo filled, lovely overview of the subject of women's workwear, and how it has changed and evolved over the course of the last century, from Retronaut/Mashable is sure to appeal to vintage fashion fans the world over, no matter if you have to dress up/differently for your day job or not.

How to store vintage hats: As someone whose own vintage hat collection (save for those that are nicely arranged on round end hooks on one wall in our house), could seriously use for some more practical and accessible storage options (the others are mostly stored carefully in cardboard boxes due to lack of space to display them), I lapped up this great post from Stephanie with gusto and am currently looking for some storage boxes akin to the ones she highlighted in her video.

Life as the kid of a vintage blogger: I was struck by what a poignant, beautiful topic this is and loved that Brittany from Va Voom Vintage opted to speak from her heart on the roll that her own passion for vintage has already had on/in her young children's lives.

How Katharine Hepburn became a style icon: Engaging, well written, and chocked full of images of garments worn by the famed actress herself, this wonderful post from the Smithsonian is sure to further deepen any fan's love for Katherine and the undeniable impact she left on the world of fashion.

5 Vintage Myths: Gemma always does a fantastic job of calling things like they are and speaking insightfully on topics pertaining to the perception of vintage wearers/enthusiasts. This post examines five common vintage myths that most of us have encountered over the years and will have you nodding your head vigorously in understanding and agreement the whole way through.

Why a good seamstress is your wardrobe's secret weapon: Nearly any fashionista/o will sing the praises of a tailor, but skilled ones can do so much more than just hem skirts or make cuffs and the impact they can have on your wardrobe can be seriously profound, as this great post from Blue Velvet Vintage's blog highlights and reminds one and all.

10 strangely popular recipes that mom used to make: I've said it before, and I'll happily say it again: there are plenty of what we might now dub kitschy at best (nightmarish at worst) vintage recipes out there that I flat out adore. This fun post from the family history site Crestleaf rounds up ten old school dishes that might not see a lot of mealtime play these days, but which still hold an unmistakable appeal for many folks (I will forever adore grape jelly meatballs!).

DIY Crayon lipstick: My dear online friend Beverly is one of those people who has an innate talent for making beautiful things and creating the kind of dreamy, shabby chic, vintage infused world, so many of us would give our favourite Bakelite bangle to live in. This month on her blog, Tea Cottage Pretties, she shared a really fun recipe for making your own lipstick using none other than good, ol' Crayola crayons. How cool is that?!

The Vintage Map: This link is for a whole site, not a specific story, as I thought the premise behind The Vintage Map was fantastic. This site has set out to be a worldwide directory for vintage shops, inviting store owners to write their own shop overviews, and encouraging shoppers to submit their own favourites as well. It can often be tricky, especially since not all vintage shops have their own websites or social media presences yet (hard to believe but true, I run into it all the time here in Canada!), to find stores pertaining to the past in your area or a location that you might be traveling to, so for that reason and oodles more, this directory is just what the vintage community needs!

1960s Makeup – Eight Steps to a Party Face: With the truly beloved television series Mad Men having ended this month (*sniffle, sniffle*), I think that a lot of us are in the mood - if only temporarily - for 1960s and even 70s fashions and looks, so this fun how-to from Glamour Daze, which was originally released in 1967, couldn't come at a more apt time.

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{All images throughout the list of links above come by way of the post that they are displayed directly beneath the write up of here. Please follow the links provided to learn more about these images.}

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While I would love to see May stick around for a bit longer, June really is a sensational month, too! I love it when the weather really starts to heat up, as it does around this time of the year. I must have been a sunbathing iguana in another life because, even though it drains me something fierce (that would be my health factoring in there big time!), I madly love the sizzling heat that soaks into your skin, bones, and soul alike.

June is a happy, fabulous month and I can't wait to make the most of it, from walks at the beach to celebrating the longest day of the year on the summer solstice (on Sunday June 21st), yard saling to barbequing - and of course, no shortage of sundress and straw hat wearing!

With all my heart, I wish you each a jubilant and joyful June - here's hoping it's one of the best ever for all of us!!!

May 28, 2015

Alice's Pig (Gorgeous!) Coco's Crescent Dress Review

Outfit details

Carnation pink snood: eBay seller tina.g-2008
White plastic rose earrings: Claire's
Navy blue shrug: Sears
Coco's Crescent dress c/o Alice's Pig
Vintage gold flower brooch: Unknown (had for years)
Orange faux leather skinny belt: eBay
Gold tone metal bangles: Payless
1950s orange sheer gloves: (Probably) eBay
1950s/1960s pink handbag: Unknown (had for years)
Nude seamed nude stockings: eBay
Navy blue patent pumps: Payless
Lip colour: Clinique Raspberry Glace

Photography by Tony Cangiano

Even if you're a a huge Lewis Carroll fan, you might not instantly get the reference in the company Alice's Pig's name, but once you learn that it stems from none other than that most beloved of childhood tales, Alice in Wonderful, the moniker suddenly snaps into place and suits this (relatively) new fashion brand delightfully well.

Based out of Brixton, South London in the United Kingdom, Alice's Pig is a 21st century women’s clothing line that looks to the past for much for its inspiration, while also keeping an eye on the trends of today’s world.

It was launched two years ago in May of 2013, and while it is not a vintage reproduction company, nor, would I say, one that strictly aims to replicate styles from decades past, a lot of their pieces do certainly have distinct notes of yesteryear style and are apt to instantly appeal to vintage wearing ladies the world over, very much including yours truly!

That's why when I contacted by the lovely brother and sister team of Amanda and Nicolai who created Alice's Pig, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with this exciting brand. From their dynamic website that presents the brand's offerings in a fresh, fun, interactive way to the fact that they offer free global shipping, to the old school influenced products themselves, there is a lot to appreciate and adore about this brand and their thriving online shop.

If you're wondering about the name, besides the reference to Alice and Wonderful, Amanda and Nico opted for this reference, in their own words, because, "The brand image comes from our love for Alice in Wonderland, where crazy is normal. The name is a reminder that colliding styles and cultures can produce something interesting and that there can be beauty and surprise in anything; even in a pig."

While Alice Pig's inventory is not mammoth at present, it is well curated and highly appealing, and I won't lie, I spent the better part of day debating which of their beautiful, stylish, and very wearable looking items to select as as wonderfully nice complimentary review gift (thank you so much for it, Nico and Amanda).

With pieces that the duo defines as a "modern, urban take on vintage style", I was intrigued and tempted by a number of their offerings (some of which, it should be noted, take their inspiration keys from later 20th century decades, whereas others look back further to the 1940s - 60s for elements of their sartorial DNA), but ultimately opted for the gorgeous Coco's Crescent dress.

From the elegant floral and bird pattern (which, when my mom saw it, on the day that these photos were taken, she swooned over every bit as much as I did!) to the fact this dress is lined, to the seriously cool element that is the built short-sleeve bolero that can be removed, if so desired (it attaches with the row of buttons across the upper chest area of the dress), to the classic silhouette, I was thoroughly hooked (ooohh, and don't even get me started on the tremendously pretty "tail feather" style panels on the back, that lend this piece such a joyful sense of movement with each step - plus, it has pockets on the front!!!).

The dress arrived in a flash, was securely and attractively packaged, and was even lovelier, to my eyes, in person than it appeared on Alice's Pig's website. We've been getting a lot of rain here in recent weeks and so finding suitable days, or even dry hours, for photos, on those days when we're out and about has been tricky at times. Thankfully though, a recent weekend jaunt north of Penticton to the absolutely charming town of Peachland (that has to be one of the best names ever for a town!), provided a few rain-free, if still overcast, moments for a shoot featuring this sophisticated floral print frock.

I have to say, as someone who has a closet does a very good job of emulating a lush garden, I'm no stranger to pretty florals, but this one really blew me away. Not only is it stunning, but its colour palette is fresh, fun, and very wearable, especially since it offers one a wide range of hues to pick and pull from when it comes to styling the rest of your ensemble.

The quality of the fabric here (100% polyester for the body of the dress and 100% cotton for the lining) is lightweight, breathable, comfy, and nice quality. The colours of the design are even, crisp, and delightfully vibrant. This is really a great dress and just the kind of thing I'd reach for if I had a wedding, garden party, tea party (fittingly, given the brand's nod to all things Alice in Wonderland :) ), baby shower, gallery event, or cocktail shindig to attend in the near future.

Interestingly, much like this Voodoo Vixen dress that I reviewed here last summer, this tremendously lovely frock from Alice's Pig is devoid of any black or white in its design, which can potentially make styling such a garment a little bit tricky. Luckily the generous colour palette of the flower and bird design paired with the standout navy blue buttons (interestingly navy blue does not actually appear in the pattern of the dress itself, but it certainly compliments the colours of it and the combo is nothing short of striking!) eliminated that potential hurdle and gave me a lot to work with on that front.

Looking at this dress, one could easily see it being styled in a 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s direction, just depending on what other accessories, as well as your hair and makeup styles, you opted for. I was in a 40s mood that day, so I teamed it with a carnation pink snood, white plastic rose earrings, cropped knit shrug, vintage sheer orange gloves (which I love to bits!), orange skinny belt, vintage gold tone floral brooch, pink 1950s - 60s faux reptile skin handbag, gold tone bangle bracelets, classic navy blue patent pumps.

That is, I'm the first to admit, a lot of colour, but thanks to the bold beauty of the dress' pattern itself, I think it came together and worked really well. I definitely have ideas for how I'm going to style this dress the next time I wear it, and plan to pull from the both the green and the gray in the floral design.

One thing that surprised me about this dress, especially because I had selected it part because of the hemline that was shown online, is that it is a lot shorter than I expected it to be. I'm barely 5'2" and have a 28" inseam, so my legs are not exactly giving any supermodels a run for their money in the slightest. I had expected this dress to hit me at more of a mid-calf point, but as it is, it barely skims my knees. I'm very thankful that it does though, because I virtually never wear dresses, skirts or cropped pants that don't clear my knees, due to reasons of personal modesty that are very important to me.

To their credit though, Alice's Pig does list the length of their garments online, but I guess because in the photos, illustration, and video, it looked a bit longer (and it was listed as being 112.5 cm/44.2 inches long in the size that I selected), I was still surprised that it was so short on me. No worries though. This somewhat shorter length works great for the roasty-toasty days of summer, and I just wanted to point out this fact, in case you are thinking of purchasing this beautiful Coco's Crescent dress yourself and were curious as to where it might hit on you.

Objectively and without a speck of bias because this was a review product (you'll never get a biased review from me, doing so would go against my own integrity to no end), I love this dress. I would have no qualms paying its £66.00 price tag, especially if I was intentionally buying it for a special occasion like the ones I touched on above, and I say that as someone whose modest personal budget making purchasing items from the UK quite the rare and special occasion. The fact that Alice's Pig offers free worldwide shipping, would seal the deal for me all the more.

I really enjoyed wearing this lovely dress, as it suits spring and summer sublimely, and getting a chance to review one of a new-to-me brand's offerings here for all you. If you haven't checked out Alice's Pig's fun website and offerings yet, I highly encourage you to do so.

And if you're interested in adding some of Alice's Pig's truly delightful fashions to your own wardrobe, the fine folks there have very kindly provided me with an exclusive discount code for Chronically Vintage's readers. Please use Alicespig10 at checkout, to save 10% off on all purchases between now and June 8, 2015.

Thank you again to Alice Pig for this gorgeous, vintage influenced floral print dress. I adore it to bits and felt like my frock had been painted by a talented artist, as the florals are off-the-charts gorgeous and the whole piece is a vision of loveliness.

May 26, 2015

25 Vintage Deals Under $100 for May 2015

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping up a storm, and soon the many beaches that abound throughout the Okanagan will be filled to the breaking point with throngs of tourists and locals alike. The former come from all across the province, throughout the rest of Canada, and even the world at large to soak up some of the sublime rays, dry heat, and truly perfect summertime breezes that we have here (I've never been to Hawaii, but I suspect they're akin to the legendary ones there).

In the spirit of celebrating the return of beach going weather, no matter if you happen to live near a swim-able body of water of any kind or not, I thought that we'd shine the spotlight on body-of-water inspired and/or perfect offerings for May's edition of 25 Vintage Deals under $100.

I love this time of the year! It's warm, but not staggeringly so yet, and one can easily dress the beach going part, whether they're actually headed down to the lake/ocean/river or not. It's a carefree, happy, feel good season and our wardrobe choices should reflect that as often as possible.

Grab a (vintage) beach blanket, slap on a wide brimmed straw hat, slip on your favourite sundress, adorn yourself with some seashell jewelry and join me while we take a look at some of the most delightful, budget friendly beach inspired offerings you could ever hope to find!

1. Cool shades of blue and silver suit ocean inspired jewelry to a tee and look especially glamorous in this super fun, good sized pair of 1980s does 1950s pearlescent lucite beaded shell clip-on earrings. $17.50 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

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2. A super cute silhouette, tropical sea inspired colour palette, and wonderful mid-century styling come together here to great one seriously charming 1950s playsuit. Available in ladies sizes small, medium and large. $90.00 from Blue Velvet Vintage.

3. An embroidered felt fish bowl with cheerful little goldfish teams up with blue and white polka dot ribbon in this fabulously cute handmade alligator style hair clip. $4.25 from Haylee's Boutique (who also have a very sweet little felt sand pail hair bow that would be ideal for the beach, too).

4. Measuring in at 11 inches long, this thoroughly delightful c. 1950s vintage tin windup toy fish is big enough that plenty of anglers would be happy to land a catch that big while on the water for the real deal! :) $35.00 from Third Floor Retro.

5. This month I was thrilled to welcome vintage inspired custom swimwear line Danalia by DP as a new blog sponsor. Not only are their offerings swoon worthily gorgeous, but they're affordable, and many styles are very, very old school looking to boot. If you've been searching for a new bathing suit this summer or for your next pinup photo shoot, look no further. This particular gem is called the Dolly Super High Waisted Bikini in mint and is available in modern ladies sizes small to XL. $68.00 from Daniella by DP.

6. One of my favourite elements of dressing for summertime has long been that we usually don't have to worry about our handbags being able to stand up to the ravages of the elements, and thus can be made from all kinds of fun, creative materials. Case in point, this immensely pretty Czech made cornflower blue beaded 1930s handbag, that would look amazing with garments ranging from your prized fifties Shaheen halter dress to an adorable mid-century patio skirt and blouse set. $45.00 from The Best Vintage Clothing on Etsy.

7. There are some sensational vintage reproduction jewelry producers out there and Mrs Polly's Lucite, located in my husband's home country of Italy, is most definitely one of them. This uber cute 1940s style clear lucite fish brooch will suit everything under the (summer) sun in your wardrobe and no double make you smile every time you look at it. $22.16 from Mrs Polly's Lucite (it's also available in some other colours, such as black and red, here).

8. For the wee beach goer in your life, this splendidly sweet mid-century vintage sleeveless blouse with fish themed blue and red embroidery is a must for any stylish tot's summer wardrobe. Fits up to a 28" chest. $12.00 from Tiny Town Vtg.

9. Stunning for a beach wedding, tropical vacation, ocean cruise, or day spent having fun on the sand anywhere, this immensely lovely, vintage appropriate headband features a genuine sugar starfish and white faux pearl beads and is just as pretty as can be! $9.95 from It's A Shore Thing (don't you just adore that name?!).

10. You'd be hard pressed to find a more charmingly adorable, summertime perfect sea creature themed blouse than this beauty dubbed Bubble & Sweet from Hell Bunny. Available in modern ladies sizes XS to 4XL. $39.00 (Canadian) from Blame Betty.

11. Elegant, soothing, highly pretty shades of aquamarine and silver glisten from this pair of 1950s inspired earrings, called Running River Studs in Blue, which are both nickel and lead free. $26.83 (New Zealand dollars) from Vintage Heaven.

12. Are they sharks, fish, whales? You decide! No matter aquatic critter you see first when you look at this darling set of mid-century ceramic salt and pepper shakes, I think we can all agree that they're cuter than the ocean is wide! $12.95 for the pair from Joe Blake.

13. Smile inducing, unused, and bursting with mid-century charm, this set of four different circa 1940s fishing themed postcards (originally from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada) is a must for any fishing fan or vintage postcard collector in your life. $8.50 for the set, from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

14. Calling all vintage novelty print fans, this seriously cool 1980s does 1950s short sleeve dress featuring a pattern of fish, people, trees, and buildings in serene shades of blue, purple, grey, and pink is sure to catch your eye, while the reasonable price seals the deal. Fits up to a 36" bust, 26" - 29" (elastic) waist. $40.00 from Hey Viv! on Etsy.

15. You know those things that you don't realize that your wardrobe seriously needs until the moment you lay eyes on them? Enter these fabulously charming crab print custom made shorts, available with either a blue or white background, that would look sensational for any beach related activity. Each pair is made to measure. $58.31 from Swell Dame Boutique.

16. Oh my stars (starfish :)), the adorableness factor of this c. 1960s pink braided yarn octopus toy is off the charts! Love, love, love!!! $34.00 from Cabin on 6th.

17.Pastel colours, kawaii level sweetness, and a great mid-century vibe all add up to one seriously cool marine life themed, vintage inspired headscarf. $12.81 from Clumsy Kate.

18. Made from an upcycled men's shirt, this fun green and white stripped sleeveless sundress channels a great 1960s - 1970s vibe and would make for a fabulous and very breezy summertime beach cover-up. Chest fits up to 37" - 43.25". $46.65 from Contrapunt.

19. Equal parts pinup girl perfect and completely cute, this charming multi-loop nautical hair bow is perfect for beach going fashionistas of all ages. $2.95 from Diddlebugs and Me.

21. Be prepared for a wide range of ocean and nautical inspired looks and occasions with this delightfully sweet set of three fabric covered button style bobby pins, featuring one of each of the designs shown here (fish, turtles, and anchors show here). $9.50 for the set from Rachel O's.

22. Keep your 'do dry as the sun-parched sand when you top it off with this wonderfully fun royal blue hued 1950s swim cap, the design of which resembles both leaves/petals and fish scales. Deadstock vintage swim cap, $38.95 from The Quiet Village.

23. Nautical inspired strips, a classic mid-century design, a jaunty bow, and a timeless colour combination? What's not to adore about this great Desi two-piece swimsuit? See listing for a wide range of sizing options (including cup sizes). $93.00 from Danalia by DP.

24. Perfect for a powder room, covered patio, beach house, cottage, or anywhere you fancy, this vintage pale pink chalkware wall pocket wish will instantly impart whimsy and cuteness in spades! $20.00 from Mikasa Su Casa.

25. And last, but certainly not least in the slightest in today's roundup of ocean inspired picks…this completely charming vintage style novelty brooch created by stellar UK vintage reproduction jewelry company Luxulite, which features a aqua-mint coloured fish and two sparkly green "air bubbles". $32.19 from Luxulite.

{Please click on a specific item, or the link in the description below it, to be taken to its respective listing.}

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While beach inspired garments and accessories can be nautical in natural, they don't have to be. They can draw inspiration from tropical cultures, forest locked lakes, rivers running through sprawling cities (say, like the Bow and Elbow Rivers in Calgary, Alberta), the Mediterranean, or any number of other great waterfront locations that are rich in spring and summertime sartorial inspiration.

And of course, as I'm a huge fan of doing, you can also make the beach a backdrop for your outfit photos, no matter what kind of ensemble you're sporting. Nature gives us so very much and we're blessed to be able to utilize those gifts both literally, and in the case of fashions that are inspired by its countless bodies of water and glorious summertime weather, representation-ally.

I hope that you enjoyed this stylish vintage beach inspired roundup and that you'll each have a chance to slip away for at least one day of waterfront fun in the weeks and months to follow. You can bet your bottom (sand) dollar that I'll be soaking up some rays and sporting my favourite shell, nautical, and Polynesian inspired every chance I get this spring and summer! :)

May 24, 2015

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want (to see here)!

Okay, if that eye-rolling Spice Girls reference doesn't belie the fact that I came of age in the 1990s, I don't know what would! :)

Seriously though, today's quick entry poses a question to all of you that follows up on the heels of my post about being open to all kinds of change from earlier this week.

You guys provided some wonderfully kind words of encouragement and feedback there (thank you!) and as I genuinely feel open to making some changes to my blog, much like my life in genera, I would love to hear your thoughts on what kinds of posts you'd like to see more, or conversely, less, of on my blog.

{I'm tuned into my blog's audience and am all ears when it comes to the kinds of posts you'd most enjoy seeing here in the future! (Total side note to this image, but I love that the earrings this beautiful lady is wearing look like they were very likely Bakelite.) Vintage image source. }

I know that outfit posts are always huge hits here, as they are on most fashion blogs (by there very nature), and you can bet your bottom dollar, that health and weather permitting, I'll always keep those in frequent rotation.

In addition, recipe posts are usually much loved, as are others pertaining to vintage fashion related topics (such as this year's look at how to wear navy blue and seven vintage garments I don't own, respectively), and so are interviews with fellow vintage bloggers, so those aren't going anywhere either.

I'm certainly not looking to toss the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, just because I'm in the mood for change. However, because I feel so receptive to newness and because I want the time, effort, energy, and even, objectively, health, that I put into my posts to result in ones that are not only well received, but which may stand to further grow my blog's reach, I would sincerely love to hear more about what kinds of posts you'd like to see here in the future.
My blogging schedule (and list of topics I hope to cover) is already largely planned for this coming summer, but when the nippy winds and pale golden days of fall return, having long tabulated the results of the comments received on today’s post, I will honestly take them all to heart and likely start writing even more of the kinds of posts that you guys have expressed the most interest in.

I'll always be true to my own heart when I blog, but I love the very act of blogging so much, that if I know you want to see a greater percentage of something (say, posts about some of my own vintage collections, fashion/beauty how-tos, reviews, giveaways, craft projects that I create, you name it!), I have no qualms with shifting my focus that way.

So, my lovely dears, don't be shy! Please share your thoughts on this subject with me, getting as specific and/or creative as you desire - and while you're at it, if it's not too much to ask, please let me know as well if you'd like to see some posts specifically dedicated to showcasing new listings (of which there are usually several dozen per month) in my Etsy shop.

Huge thanks in advance for all of your feedback! And to my wonderful US readers, I hope that you're each having a marvelous, fun filled Memorial Day long weekend!!!

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, 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! :)