Do you ever make samples before starting on your actual garment?

I know, you’re probably thinking “Really, Casey?! Not another thing I’m supposed to do before I start the fun sewing!” I get it, I really do! (Especially now that I have a wiggly baby who vies for my sewing time.) I promise this kind of sample making isn’t like making a muslin (though those are still a good idea for certain designs). But these quick little trial-run pieces might just save you a headache further down the road and can really help improve your technique and accuracy as each fabric behaves differently. After years of sewing samples, it has become second nature and in some ways a lot of fun!

Case in point: this dress I made last summer which featured bound buttonholes. While I usually just pull out my Dritz Bound Buttonhole Tool, the fabric was linen and a loose enough weave that it shifted around easily–making using the Dritz jig a little too indefinite for me. I decided to go ahead and make the buttonholes the old fashioned way, which I hadn’t done in awhile and needed a refresher. I tried a couple different methods (including Gertie’s–which I love, but produced a buttohole that was just a tiny bit bulkier than worked with the linen) and also used the method that the vintage pattern I was working with outlined (worked, but I could improve it!). I used scraps of fabrics for making the test buttonholes–which proved just as well because I managed to mess up one of the samples. Like sewing the buttonhole lips on the wrong way messed up. But imagine if I hadn’t taken the time to make up those buttonhole samples and instead sewn, cut and then discovered my backwards buttonhole on the fashion fabric! I don’t even want to think about how heartbroken I would have been.

Samples can be useful for so much more than just a reminder on working bound buttonholes:

  • Help determine the correct tension, stitch length and needle size for your fabric.
  • Make sure the tension is balanced for your serger and is correctly forming along the edge of your fabric.
  • Double check the correctness of the interfacing weight you’re using: is it too heavy or too light for the application?
  • Work out a new (or not often used!) technique like bound or corded buttonholes, eyelets, etc.
  • Assist in choosing the correct seam finishing technique for your garment by testing the compatibility with the fabric weight and whether it prevents raveling.

So before you toss that pile of odd scraps after you cut out your next project, remember to keep a few for working a sample or two!

July 19, 2013 · 48 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing · tags: ,


There are some vintage sellers/bloggers whose enthusiasm is always catching and inspires me to no end. Sammy of Sammy Davis Vintage is one of those gals. I’ve collaborated with her in the past, and when she asked me to take a look at a new eBook she published–100 Best Vintage Shops Online–I knew I couldn’t say no!

One of the frequent emails I get is along the lines of “where can I find vintage clothing to buy? I don’t have any vintage stores locally!“. Believe me: I know how confusing it can be with the myriad of purveyors of vintage online–which are the best? Fortunately, Sammy has done the digging for you on the web’s largest retail hubs (Etsy, Ebay and indie shops) and connected with some of the best out there. A newbie to buying vintage online? She also has taken some of the guesswork out of things that tend to stump one from time to time: measuring yourself for fit, common vintage terms, styles and niches to consider when buying, etc. It’s the kind of guide I wish I had access to 10 years ago when I started buying vintage online!


I have to admit: I’ve been hanging around many of these vintage hotspots for years, and I still managed to find some shops that hadn’t crossed my radar yet alongside some of my longtime favorites! (Which meant that while I was reading this eBook for review, I spent a lot of time also browsing shops!) Additionally, each shop is divided into a category of the main hub (again: Etsy, Ebay or indie shop), ranked in that category, with decades specialized in list as well as general pricing and an overview of the shop. For someone who is visual like myself, I especially love the use of images from the shop’s stock next to the text. And because it’s an eBook, visiting the virtual vintage store is only a click away in each listing! Sammy has done an excellent job of collating all this information into a neat and tidy package–and for a great price too!

If you’re new the the world of buying vintage online, or maybe a veteran like me, I think 100 Best Vintage Shops Online is a fantastic starting point for finding new (or rediscovering) online treasure troves of coveted vintage. Interested in previewing 100 Best Vintage Shops Online before you buy? Sammy has a free excerpt available here.

Sammy is trying to further her research that she did for 100 Best Vintage Shops Online and achieve an even better picture of vintage buying online. Right now she’s doing a survey, that she would love to get some additional feedback on. All survey responses are entered to win one of 3 $50 Etsy giftcards–but hurry! The survey closes July 22. You can take the survey by clicking here.

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The eBook reviewed here was sent to me complimentary for consideration. Opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

July 17, 2013 · 7 lovely thoughts
posted in misc · tags: , ,

    Casey is wearing: plaid shirt: thrifted | white shorts: made by me | bracelet: vintage, estate sale | earrings: Forever 21 | platforms: ASOS | sunglasses: Target | diaper bag: Storksac
    Audrey Leigh is wearing: gingham dress: thrifted | headband: local consignment shop

Let’s talk about these shorts, shall we? I made them in June 2012 and never showed them off here (I actually made a few summer ensembles that never made it to the blog because things were busy last summer, and then my waist started to grow because of Audrey!). They were inspired by some sailor style shorts I’ve seen in pictures of movie startlets from the 40s, and I adapted a pattern I custom drafted for myself years ago. I think I’d make a few tweaks if I were to make them again (mainly altering the angle of the drop front opening–it’s a teeny bit tight to pull over the hips!), but overall I love how they look. And that is saying something because I don’t really consider myself a “shorts girl” and mostly live in light cotton skirts throughout the summer. I’ve been wearing these a lot with plaid shirts–inspired by a picture of Audrey Hepburn–very 50s style!

In other news: Audrey has been graduating from 0-3 to 3-6 month clothes, which is both exciting (she’s growing!) but a bit sad (we’re done with the newborn stage). This dress is one I thrifted over the winter, before she was born, and was so excited to finally pull out and have her wear! (It’s got cherries! Somehow that has become a theme in her wardrobe…) She typically wears rompers on a daily basis, but if we’re going out to meet with some friends, I usually put a dress on her for fun. Although at this point she’s discovered that she can pull the hem of her dresses up to chew on… hehe!

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July 12, 2013 · 36 lovely thoughts
posted in outfits + wardrobe · tags: , ,

Hello, friends! Firstly: thank you for all the fantastic entries for the pattern giveaway last week. A winner was randomly selected and has been contacted. Keep your eyes open for another pattern giveaway in the near future–I think maybe one of these a month would be fun, don’t you?

I’m in the middle of a little sewing marathon (well, naptime sewing marathons! lol.), and have been a bit obsessed about dreaming up vintage ensembles. One of my favorite sources for inspiration (besides vintage magazines and old Hollywood photos!) is paper dolls. I picked up these lovely ladies a couple years ago on Etsy, and although they were obviously played with and loved, they have some pretty swell fashion! I’d love to, if I ever have time, to digitally repair these and print them on new cardstock for Audrey to play with when she’s a bit older!

Aren’t these cute outfits though? The 1940s really had the best paper dolls, in my opinion (I might just be biased though since I tend to favor fashion from that decade!). I especially love the winter snow ensemble! If I had something that cute to wear out in the snow, I might not mind it so much… hehe!

And check out those overalls (dungarees to some of you) ! I have a soft spot for 40s overalls, though I’m not sure I could pull the look off. But patterns like this one from Wearing History always tempt me. I do have an actual 40s pattern for overalls in my collection… Seems like it’d be a cute look for doing chores around the house or gardening (though who am I kidding?! I have a black thumb and can’t grow anything! lol.).

If you’d like to see more paper doll fashion, check out this post last year about the Hedy Lamar paper dolls I thrifted last year!

July 9, 2013 · 32 lovely thoughts
posted in vintage inspiration · tags: ,


I was recently able to go through the stash of vintage patterns I raided at my grandfather’s a couple years ago again. I ended up taking a neat little bundle–including a few I wondered why I hadn’t snatched up in the first place! I was especially delighted to find a handful of vintage girl’s patterns–one day perhaps Audrey will wear a few garments made from these! Ah the sewing possibilities… My imagination is running wild with all of these!

I have to admit: I have an awfully hard time keeping something this good to myself! Which is why I think it’s high time for a giveaway–don’t you agree? To spread some of the pattern bounty I’ll be giving away a little duo of patterns (shown below): McCalls 6312 (a cute, Mad Men era sheath dress and a proportioned pattern) and Vogue 7916 (which I think would make a cute wrap to wear with McCalls 6312). The Vogue pattern is one size, while the McCalls dress is for a bust 32″. But have no fear if you’re not those measurements–there are lots of handy hints on resizing patterns.


To enter:
1. You must be 18 years or older, or have a parent’s/guardian’s permission to enter since I will need to collect your mailing information.
2. This giveaway is open to readers around the globe!
3. Leave a comment in this post telling me where you’d wear this ensemble, and what fabrics you’d use.
4. The contest will be closed to entries on July 5 at 12pm EST. One lucky winner will be drawn at random and contacted directly.

Best of luck to everyone!

I also want to wish all my fellow American readers a happy and safe Fourth of July! We’ve got plans for a good, old fashioned cookout and soaking up some sunshine. Don’t think we’re going to take in fireworks this year though–Miss Audrey’s bedtime is far too early! :) (Ah the joys of being a new parent! lol.)

July 3, 2013 · 123 lovely thoughts
posted in vintage inspiration · tags: , ,