How to Update Vintage · Style · Tennessee · Thrifts

Is It Spring Yet?



Hello! I’m back!

I had a feeling that I would be slowing down on projects in February, but I thought I would sew SOMETHING in the midst of all the Bunco planning. Nope. February was a whirlwind of donation collections, ticket sales, event planning, people coordinating, and more trips to the Dollar Store than I could possibly count. It was SO MUCH FUN, but it was SO much work, too. The big event was this past Friday night, and we had a great turn out and raised money for our beloved preschool. I am so grateful to be part of such an amazing community of families, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to give back in this way.

On Saturday morning after the big event, Husband took the kids to get an oil change and get breakfast at McDonalds, a rare treat. I slept until 7:30 and then had the house to myself for a few hours. I thought I would start sewing, but instead I made myself an omelette and took my coffee back to bed to read. It was glorious. The perfect way to unwind after a busy week month.

When Monday afternoon rolled around, BB was off at school, BG was napping, and I had a couple of free hours with nothing to do. I immediately got out my sewing machine.


I found this vintage dress over Christmas. While we were in Tennessee visiting family, Husband’s grandmother and I decided to hit up the one estate sale happening during the break. We drove out to Elizabethton, but there wasn’t really much to be found, especially since I would have to pack anything I got for the flight home.

(I have two memories of Elizabethton. The first, from my childhood: My brother lived in Elizabethton when he was in college at ETSU. He used to tell people that he lived on the “outskirts of Johnson City” – he seemed embarrassed to say he lived in Carter County. We went to visit one time, and he took us to this little Italian restaurant that he called a “dive” – first time I had ever heard that term. He warned us that the waitresses there would sit down with you and smoke a cigarette while they took your order. Husband’s grandmother and I drove past the restaurant on our excursion. It looked exactly the same as it did 20+ years ago.

And now, a new memory of Elizabethton:  While driving around this trip, trying to find a thrift store, we saw a woman not much younger than Husband’s grandmother walking down the road in full camo with a shotgun flung over one shoulder and what I can only assume was “breakfast” thrown over the other.)

We never found the thrift store, so we headed to Johnson City.

vintage tennessee dress

First, let me tell you, thrift store prices vary widely from area to area. At the Goodwill I went to in Tennessee, I found clothes for BG for $1.79 – a bright pink vintage Health-Tex corduroy skirt. (A skirt I probably owned at some point, honestly – it looked so familiar.  Do you remember Health-Tex? I remember having mix-and-match Health-Tex outfits.) This vintage dress in perfect condition was less than $7.


I loved the creamy color and the light, flowy, sheerness of the fabric.


I loved the little gathered shoulders.

secretary tie

I even liked the little pearl buttons and the secretary tie neckline.


I didn’t love the ruffled cuffs on the sleeves.


Or the frumpy length.


I started by taking the sleeves apart.


There was some old, stretched out elastic in the cuffs of the sleeves that needed to be replaced, so I tried to carefully remove the ruffles, but I realized I could use my small, sharp scissors to just cut the ruffles away from the hem and then seam rip the hem apart. Once the ruffle was gone, I sewed a little casing and threaded new elastic through on each sleeve.


When it was time to shorten the hem, I tried a couple of different ideas before realizing that using my trusty scarf-hem technique would be the easiest. I am not very good with sheer, silky fabrics, and this technique covers a multitude of sewing sins.


When I found this dress at the thrift store in December, I thought that it would be great in the spring and that I could make it work in the winter months. Little did I know I wouldn’t even get around to it until spring – well, at least spring-like weather in Northern California.


When I went outside to snap photos, I was met with the fragrance of these flowers blooming on the bushes beside our house. They are so pretty and delicate and sweet. I wanted to stay outside all afternoon.


Here I’m checking out the bees buzzing by my ear, making sure I don’t get too close. (I know, if your back East, the last thing you want to hear about are the flowers and bees. Sorry.)


Clearly it is still winter, as I am still very, very pale.

DSC_0073Love the way the hem turned out – the stitched double fold adds a little bit of structure to the hem that makes it look really pretty.

DSC_0173And here’s what I was envisioning when I bought the dress – warm layers for winter.

DSC_0194Alas, we haven’t had much of a winter, anyway.

sheer vintage dress

Won’t be long until it’s really spring.




8 thoughts on “Is It Spring Yet?

  1. I love taking my coffee back to bed in the morning. A perk of being retired. We just had winter here in Phoenix. 4 days of rain and highs in the 50’s. I like the dress. I think I had one like it at one time.

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