Second Hand Roses




I’m really into recycling Rebecca’s dresses that have been packed away for 25+ years.  It’s amazing how timeless a smocked dress can be and how well they hold up.

Some, like Barbra Streisand,  may turn their noses up “second hand,” but neither Laurel nor I mind.

I had to drop the hem, as little girls’ skirts are longer now. Fortunately, when the dress was made, I followed the standard recommendation of putting in a 6″ hem so  I had a good 3″ to drop.

This basic yoke has a sash that ties in the back.  It is smocked to just above the waist and meets the back yoke at that same depth.  The sash snugs the dress up and feels more like a big girl dress.

The intriguing smocking plate is Chinese Chippendale by Barbie Beck, an almost ancient design.  If you blow up the photo, you will see how interesting the design is.

The rose print fabric is  a Rose and Hubble lawn, which was less than half the cost and 3/4  as nice as Liberty of London tanna lawn. I haven’t seen any Rose and Hubble in quality fabric stores for years and was told it is no longer available, but an on-line search did turn up a good selection, Sewing Basket Inc.  has a nice selection.


Second hand rose collarsmile


Between the yoke and smocked skirt is self-piping.  The sleeves and neckline are edged with Binche heirloom lace.  The parchment color  brightens the dress.

We’ll be studying some Aesop’s fables this year, so I’ll be sure she reads The Fox and the Crow and takes a good look at the lace on her dress.

The sleeves are gathered up with a technique Mildred Turner featured one of her books.  If you don’t have all three, I would highly  recommend you hunt them down for your sewing reference library.  They are invaluable and out of print for many years now.  Mildred has fabulous sleeve ideas and this one seemed perfect for the dress.  Basically, a 5 mm zig zag is worked inside the sleeve over stretched 1/8″ elastic, with the thread in a color that blends into the fabric.

First, the elastic is marked at the correct length, i.e. 6″, but not cut.  Then it is secured in the sleeve seam allowance with a few straight stitches, pulled up between the toes of the presser foot and pulled taught.  This narrows the width of the elastic and makes it less likely that it will be caught in the zig zag stitches.


Lawn Binche sleeve


When the zig zag reaches the edge of the sleeve, the elastic is pulled up to the mark.  Straight stitching through the elastic and fabric hold it in place.  Finally, the elastic is cut.

Ribbon is secured at the underarm seam and threaded through bullion knot ribbon carriers.  I used rose floss for the bullions to contrast with the navy ribbon.

I want so much to make more clothes for Laurel, but homeschooling takes a big bite out of my time.  At least with Rebecca’s hand-me-downs, I can enjoy dressing her in things I have made.  These retired dresses have been like money in the bank.

5 responses to “Second Hand Roses

  1. Oh, Janice! What a lovely dress! Makes me want to make one, and I have no girls to wear them……YET! LOL. What a treasure.

  2. Merry, I advise you to GET BUSY! The time to sew is now. If you are blessed to live near grandchildren when they do finally arrive, you will be so busy spending time with them that you don’t get much sewing done. And if they are near or far, they grow faster than you can sew. If I didn’t have all these Second Hand Roses left over from my Rebecca and two storage bins of garments and projects from magazine articles I’ve written and classes I’ve taught, I’d have little sewing to offer my precious grandchildren children! Sew now. It’s like money in the bank.

  3. This dress is just gorgeous! I LOVE how it is just as stylish now as it was 25 years ago. The fabric is lucious and the lace is divine. I remember reading an article you wrote about the story book laces. I so wished (and still do) that I could find some. I’ve looked back in my old SB’s and CN’s and found several of your articles. I feel like I am ‘talking’ to a famous person! I do not have any of Mildred Turner’s books but I have Sara Howard Stone’s books and a book called: How to Make Handmades For Your Baby. The author of that book is never mentioned in the book! Do you know who wrote it?

  4. Thank you, Karen, for approving of this dress. Your kind words are especially meaningful as it seems everything you show on your blog is both classic and contemporary. Often, I fear I have lost touch with “now” styles for children and so want to avoid dressing my grandchildren in what looks like old hand-me-downs.
    I love the picture lace and have bolts and bolts of it, bought before the Sew Beautiful article. When the store is up–my son says it will be soon, sigh…..—I will have it for sale. Meanwhile, e-mail me if you want some sooner than that.
    Mildred’s books come up occasionally on eBay and I highly recommend them. Sarah Stone’s books are fabulous and How to Make Handmades for Baby is one of my favorite design inspiration books. There is a very interesting story about that book and the author. I think I’ll write a blog about it. Sewing is full of fascinating people and tales. And you can’t have too many sewing reference/inspiration books on your shelf.

  5. Janice, I can’t wait to read the blog about the ‘mystery author! I look forward to your store opening, too. I will keep my eye out for Mildred’s books. Thank you for the compliment about the things I have posted on my blog. I lean towards the traditional but I know that the young moms want easy care and less fussy. I happen to like fussy so this is hard for me! (lol) Often when I make something that I think is for ‘everyday’, it is used for ‘dress up’ or Sunday clothes. I love the little farm smocked suit you just finished for your grandson. That is the perfect blend of classic and contemporary. I love how you shared the finishing details.

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