Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Really Are Better Than Just One!

In September 2012 I posted up a blog post on "Two are Better Than One" talking about how in Victorian times it was not unusual to see two bodices that matched one skirt.  I have attached a link to my blog post:

Myself, Right, with my friend,  Ms Cindy P, 2012 President of the San Diego Costume Guild
Dinner Bodice
So, with that thought in mind, I ran into a similar situation, and opted for the same solution.  I had seven yards of  a dusty rose fabric, and two yards of a wool blend plaid.  I went with five yards for the skirt (including pleating), and then 1 1/2 yards for each of the bodices.  That left me with a half yard for the bonnet. 

Same skirt with a Plaid Day Bodice
I was able to achieve two different looks, one dinner and one day bodice; and both of the bodices worked with one skirt.  I find it very interesting to find myself in some of the same predicaments that ladies long ago may have found themselves in, and then using their vintage solutions for my modern day dilemma!  Enjoy!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Picture Perfect 1887 Christmas Gown - Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge

I pulled the pictures of this 1887 Bustle gown off the site "TimeTravelersAntiques", which was a gown that had been sold in the past.  I have mentioned how many gowns go from private owner to private owner and are never seen again, and this is a perfect example of such.  It is just too pretty not be be shared with the world at large.  I love this look, and it would be so easy to recreate!  A sleeveless Christmas Red Velvet vest with skirt sides and back train, over a simple Ivory silk satin foundation skirt and matching blouse.  Enjoy!


1950 Crinoline Project

I realized I did not post up a pic of my 1950 Crinoline project.  It was super easy and fast as I really needed to only gather the top fabric and attach a set-in waistband.  This crinoline was the one I selvaged from the vintage wedding gown I made my Raisin and Plum Bustle gown from!  The overall length of the crinoline is 27" long, which goes perfectly under my 1950s day dress (see my prior post: A Blast to the Past  When I was looking at this crinoline I noticed it actually had five panels that were gored - good heavens!  Who does this?  Have you ever worked with stiff crino?  It's a combat sport!  I was lucky to get away with mild abrasions on my prior crinoline attempt!  So, when I saw the paneling, I knew I was going to save it.  Someone had worked really hard putting this vintage beauty together, and it should be saved. 
What I also loved was the ribbon trim on the bottom hem.  So pretty and feminine.  So, it was the work of a moment to pull it all together!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

An 1870 Pretty Pink Plaid Day Gown

A year or so ago I asked my Aunt Dot if she would like to try a knitting challenge.  She said yes, and I showed her the pattern for these knitted patterned undersleeves from 1865.  They are made of fingering weight mohair yarn in a light purple.   This is a super fine - super thin yarn.  It took her a couple of months, and she told me later that she was cursing my name as there where 200 stitches per inch!  They turned out great and are super warm and soft, not itchy at all!  I worn them this weekend with my most recent sewing project, an 1870 Ensemble. 

1870 Brown Silk Day Gown - two piece
I had seven yards of a cotton/rayon dusty rose moire taffeta, which matched perfectly with the two yards of a poly/wool plaid, both of which were in my stash.  This 1870 brown silk gown is my inspiration.  What drew me to this was the clever way they used the rushing to imitate an apron/bustle combination.  As I did not have enough fabric to actually make my apron/bustle, I used the same trim treatment illusion!  I also liked the pagoda sleeves at 3/4, so my knitted undersleeves could be seen and appreciated!

This is my finished ensemble.  It took about seven days to complete from cutting to wearing.  I used the Burda Foundation skirt (see my prior post "Burda Foundation Skirt") with my prior Civil War bodice patten (see "Flirting around with Civil War Fashions").  Lastly, I used self fabric trim to keep costs down.  Total expense was approximately $30 for everything, but as all the fabric, buttons, and thread was already in my stash, technically it did not cost me anything!
Lastly, I topped it off with an 1870 Bonnet in the matching dusty rose moire taffeta.  The bonnet is 75% hand-sewn, and 25% machine sewn.  The bonnet took approximately five hours start to finish.  Enjoy!

When Imperfections Are Perfect...

I am sharing this post, not to be criticized, but so that other folks may learn from my mistake. 

I had purchased an amazing 35x120 silk shawl from a lady in England.  It was in almost perfect condition with only a couple of snags, but there were also a couple of stains, and they bothered me.  I wanted it to be perfect!  So, I checked around and found the highest ranked Dry Cleaner in Orange County.  I talked with them about my vintage shawl and what I wanted cleaned.  They assured me at length that it was certainly something they could take care of.  I left feeling reassured and confident that when I picked it up in three days, it would perfect!  Now, I know that vintage clothing, in most museums, is never really "cleaned" per se, more spot cleaned if a cleaning is even needed.  But, I thought to myself, this shawl is in such great shape it should be able to survive a mild cleaning with our modern products.  I was very much looking forward to picking it up!
In retrospect, I can not stress to you the level of my dismay when I returned to pickup my vintage shawl, only to see it in tatters.  Apparently the heat techniques just fried the silk to brittle nothingness.  If you flicked it with your finger, it would shatter or tear.  It literally was falling apart in my hands.  I was so saddened by the destruction of this gorgeous shawl, I could not even write about it for a couple of months.
So, today I can say that I wish I had been happy with my lovely vintage shawl just the way it was.  That it's tiny imperfections were what gave it that authentic look and feel.  I wish that I could have simply realized that this shawls imperfections were perfect just the way they were, then I might still have it with me.     

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Something Old, Yet Something New To See

I mentioned in one of my prior posts about how so many amazing garments are still located in personal, or "Private" collections, of which most of us probably own several vintage items ourselves.  This gown is in a private collection owned by Ms Helen Larson.  Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing has been desirous of purchasing this collection for their museum for some time.  To support that effort, FIDM occasional has fundraiser teas and other events.  This photo, and attached link below, is from their most recent presentation.  Just wanted to share.  Enjoy!

1816-1817 Regency Gown owned by Princess Charlotte of Wales
"19th century gown worn by Princess Charlotte of Wales. The dress is printed with symbolic imagery: roses (for England), shamrocks (Ireland), thistle (Scotland), myrtle and acorns (marital flora), as well as multiple ‘Star of the Order of the Garter’ badges—all suitable for Princess Charlotte, heiress to the British throne, and newly married in 1816. Kevin methodically traced the ownership of the dress to members of Princess Charlotte’s household, making it one of only a handful of garments with provenance attributed to this popular princess." - excerpt from FIDM Monarchy Tea

Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - Let's All Promenade!

This 1889 Promenade Ensemble is just beautiful.  The contrast between the fabric color and the trim simply draws your eye and holds it.  The sheer amount of detail work at the bodice is breath-taking!  The elegant curve of the bodice at the waist, flows perfectly to the hip, and then drops to the hem to again draw your eye to the decorative trimming that abounds thereby.  This trim work is known as "Soutache" =

1889 J. Redfern Promenade Ensemble

A soutache is narrow flat decorative braid used in the trimming of drapery or clothing. In clothing soutache is used to conceal a seam.  In military uniforms a particular width or color of soutache is used to indicate rank, particularly in a hat. In athletic uniforms a contrasting soutache is used to outline numbers or players' names.  Soutache is often woven of metallic bullion thread, silk, or a blend of silk and wool. In the 20th century soutache began to be woven of rayon and other synthetic fibers.  (Thank you Wikipedia)

This soutache is also beaded at certain locations for a little extra sparkle.  I would love to know how this bodice closes in the front.  It is hard to see in these photos.  I was almost thinking a side closure with lacing - can you see it?  How do you think it is closed? 

1889 J. Redfern Promenade Ensemble w/matching bonnet

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - A Stitch in Time

1885 Philadelphia Museum of Art - Day Gown Ensemble
Is this not a wonderfully charming Day Gown?  There was not a lot of information available, so if I was going to guess, I might think Winter White Wool for the fabric.  However, what really caught my eye was the embroidery on the bodice and apron.  Most sewing machines today come with some, if not several, decorative stitches.  How easy would it be to incorporate some machine embroidery into your next gown creation?  If you did not want to embroider directly, think about utilizing "strips" of fabric and embroidering them, then sewing them into the gown.  Look at the apron sides and hemline, that looks exactly like what is going on here!  Most machines now allow you to scan an embroidery pattern into your sewing machine or simply download it for processing.  Finding something elegant along these lines would be pretty easy to set up.  Then take a co-ordinated ribbon, and stitch it onto the foundation skirt to form a pleated trimming to give your ensemble that finished look!  Easy and simple design details for your consideration!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Burda Bodice - Beauty and the Beast

Okay, so we are onto the Bodice Construction segment.  To reiterate, this is the Burda 7880 pattern, stated at an "Intermediate to Advance" sewing skills level.  I have already reviewed the foundation skirt, apron/bustle, dye techniques, shopping for fabrics, plus within each segment are short "tips" from my experience while sewing these garments.  I knew I wanted a Victorian bodice pattern that allowed for individual inserts in the front and back of the bodice.  So, I understood going in that there would be more pattern pieces than some of the other patterns I had used.  I also included the recommended interfacing for added stability for some of the pieces, then I cut "overlays" to give me the color contrasts for some of the inserts.  Lastly, I like my bodices to be lined, so I added lining as well.  That said, the bodice pattern originally calls for twelve (12) pattern pieces plus four (4) interfacing pieces.  Doubled brings you to twenty-eight (28) pieces, as not all pattern pieces are doubled, such as the collar.  From there I added the lining, for an additional fourteen (14) pieces.  Lastly, I added eight (8) pieces of plum silk overlay for color contrast.  Leaving me with a grand total of fifty (50) working pieces.  Yes, I added a lot more to what is intended in this pattern.  But, if I am going to spend my time, effort, and money, it might as well be exactly what I want it to be.
Cutting Fabric: So, first step was setting up the fabric for cutting.  I knew I was going to be working with at least three layers most of the time, and sometimes four layers with the interfacing.  I placed my fashion fabric on top of my lining fabric for the first cutting.  From there I placed only those pieces I wanted to use for the contrasted silk overlay fabric that I needed, as well as the four pieces I needed for the interfacing, so I was only cutting once or twice to save time and effort.  Very sharp scissors are a must for this. 
Lining: The pattern does not include lining, so I will start there.  Front bodice has eight parts and the back bodice has six parts, not counting the two parts of each sleeve for a total of four, two cuffs, one collar, or the peplum pieces.  I only lined the body part of the bodice.  I thought about flat lining, but the peplum was not going allow that in my opinion.  So,  modified bag lining came into play. 

Construction:  I started by laying all the cut pieces in stacks, so as not to get confused.  I also would focus on one fabric at a time.  I layed all the pieces out to see how they all fit together, so I could begin to visualize the finished product.  From there I began with the the interfaced pieces, next onto the overlay pieces.  I opted to overlay the plum silk as it was not strong enough against the raisin cotton by itself.  I pretty much just "flat lined" the overlay to the outside of the fashion fabric, so I had the strength of the underlying cotton fabric, but the contrasted color overlay I wanted.  From this point, proper bodice construction commenced.  I love how a seemingly flat piece of fabric can develop into such a curvular (I made that word up - lol) look!  Taking it from a one dimension to a three-dimensional plane.  Things moved well for the bodice proper.  The sleeves are two pieced with a slight curve, they are strongly "left" and "right" or they do not hang properly nor fit properly.  Pattern states to "gather", but in the future, I might consider a small box-pleat just at the sleeve head to see how it might look. 
Next, was the peplum.  I still laugh just thinking about that part.  In the cutting section, it states "x1" or one piece, but in the instructions, it states "doubled", and it certainly needs to be doubled, so just cut two when you are cutting.  Once I got the pleats in, I did opt to sew halfway down the sides of each pleat to help hold the pleats in place.  After all that time and effort trying to get the pleats to lineup properly to each other plus lineup to the bodice pieces, I wanted those pleats to be beautiful for forever!  Prior bodice construction is going to really help you with this one, just go slow, read the instructions repeatedly, and worse case - walkaway and come back.  Gives your mind some time to process.

The bag lining was just like making an entirely separate bodice, but without the sleeves.  The entire lining piece, once constructed, had to be sewn into place.  The only line that was machine sewn, was the bottom hem edge, everything else was handsewn into place, as I did not want the stitching to ruin the front of the outer fashion fabric. 
Finishing Touches:  I used some  vintage black beaded Victorian trim on the cuffs, vintage lace collar, vintage lace chemisette (optional wear), eighteen buttons, one inch black satin box pleated trim, one inch knife pleated silk trim at cuffs, and I used a decorative sewing stitch on the bodice front edge seams.  I had modified this piece.  I shortened it into a low square neck, instead of the high-neckline the pattern showed. 

Conclusion:  After all was said and done, the bodice fit almost perfectly.  I had to take one inch in at the waist.  I will probably make this one again some time in the future.  (I am already onto my next project.)  I very much like the overall finished look of the ensemble.  I am proud I persevered and took this "50 Piece Beast" and turned it into such a "Beauty".   Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - 1893 Worth

This Gown was making the rounds on Pinterest last week.  I am always on the look-out for new Worth Gowns that I have not yet seen, and this one is a beauty!  Aside from all the well-known museum collections of Worth gowns, every once in a while one will pop up from an unexpected location.  There are still so many designer vintage gowns in private collections that the public has yet to see.  I have saved pictures of Worth gowns that came up for sale from private sellers, going to private sellers.  So, those photos of those gowns will never be available until the next time that gown is sold, and that might be decades before that gown surfaces again!  That is the hunt for inspiration!   Enjoy
1893 Worth Ballgown

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Everyday I'm Bustling! Apron/Bustle Combination

Okay, well we are on to the Apron/Bustle Combination.  The fabric for this piece was reviewed in my prior post "Just Dyeing to Try It", about how I used a distressed silk wedding gown and went with a successful dye job from White to "Plum"!  I knew when I picked up the wedding gown that I was going to use the skirt portion of the gown for the apron/bustle.  I was able to cut the train of the gown down, so the back length is 29" (longer over the bustle pad) and the front length is 25".   There were four yards of fabric at the waist after I removed all the existing stitching.  I had to gather it back up to fit me and keep the front a "gather free zone".  I have tried the loose baste machine stitch, I have done the hand-stitched "rock & roll" gather stitch, I have done the "machine baste in segments" stitching, and none of those work as easy as this loose "zig-zig" with a contrasted thread down the center.  All the other efforts, I would break a thread here and there and it would just drive me crazy.  This zig-zag setup is fast, effective, and the threads will not break on you!  Once I got the fabric gathered as I wanted, I pinned it to the set-in waistband, and finished sewing that all together.  Add on the H&E, and I was almost done!  

For this piece I did not use a pattern.  I played around with the fabric until I got the look I wanted, which was based on a Victorian Fashion Plate.  I added 3-4 knife pleats on both sides of the back opening, plus some horizontal pleats down the sides where the ties were going to be.  The faille silk has an incredible drape and hand to the fabric.  Not as stiff as a Taffeta, but not as drapey as a crepe de chine.  The fabric is still a light-to-medium weight, so I could not go with my original idea of black gimp, as the 1/2" gimp was just too heavy and stiff for this fabric.  I opted to go with a simple black silk crepe ruffle.  I used the selvaged edge for the top of the ruffle, and completed a quick hem on the other edge.  Then, I used my ruffler foot at the 12 setting, so every twelve stitches, it placed a "tuck" for a soft ruffled look.  From there, it was an easy sewing job to attach the ruffle to the apron/Bustle all the way around the four yards.  Last thing to do was to add the ties at the waist to gather up each side.  I made these ties in the "Raisin" colored fabric to co-ordinate with the bodice and foundation skirt fabric. 

 What I really liked about these two fabrics together is that they have a matching sheen.  The foundation skirt is a medium weight textured cotton with a great sheen to it, so I knew I needed something that would be comparable.  The silk was a perfect match.  The "foundation" skirt does a great job of adding some supporting structure for the apron/bustle to lay against!  Nothing too fancy for the skirt and apron/bustle.  I like the understated detail work, as the bodice is where all the detailing is focused!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just Dyeing to Try it!

Okay, so this is the next installment in the Bustle Gown Project, which will focus on the Art of Dyeing fabrics a different color.  I have to say that my past attempts at dyeing resulted in dismal results, so needless to say I was more than slightly apprehensive.  There was a lot riding on this dye job.  I had found an old distressed silk wedding gown, and I really wanted the dyeing to work well, as I probably could not afford to replace the silk faille fabric if I ruined it.  So, I re-read some dyeing tips that I had received from a "fellow seamstress friend", then read the entire dye powder box front to back to inside.  And got ready to go!

 Preparation is a big part of a successful dye attempt.  Have ALL your supplies handy, and think through the process, visualize it, before you begin.  Know where you are going to start and where you are going to end your project ie: start in the kitchen near the stove for super hot water to properly dissolve the dye grains for your dye bath, then end at the washing machine.  Next, are you going to go with a bucket for smaller jobs, the washing machine, or a tub for larger jobs?  Take the time to think it through start to finish.  You will be glad you took the time upfront to properly prepare and/or decide on your course of action.
 When I started my dye project, I knew the color I wanted, the big question was, How do I get there?  Purple was not one of the dye powder colors available the day I was shopping, so I knew I was going to have to mix it.  The "Rit" brand is the tried and true standard, and powder is probably more desirable as it seems to be able to get a deeper, darker color dye than the liquid.  However, the day I was shopping, there was no red powder dye either, so I went with the liquid version. 

Several key factors for me: 1) Start soaking your fabric in hot water, or washing it is best, while you are setting up your supplies, for at least 20-30mins.  2) Boiling water is best for the first step of the dye bath to completely dissolve the dye powders.  You will not be putting your hands in it at this stage, and maybe not at all, if you are really careful.  I used a long wooden spoon for most of my project, and only touched the fabric once taking it from the tub to the washing machine at the end. 3) Set enough time aside for the entire project - give yourself 60 to 90mins from start to finish.   4) Always use 2-3 times more dye powder or dye liquid for best results. 5)  Dyeing works best on Natural Fabrics ie: cottons, linens, and silks.  6) Determine where you are going to process your dye job.  7) Do not forget to add the salt or vinegar to the dye solution!

I opted for a large plastic tub IN my bathtub.  I poured the hot dye bath into the tub and measured in the necessary "hot water" needed for the amount of fabric I was working with.  Once that was settled, I ran a couple of dye tests to make sure I was in the color tone I was looking for.  I had mixed two boxes of Navy dye to a half bottle of Red Liquid dye to get the color I wanted for the dye bath.  (From here, how long you leave the fabric in the dye solution will also determine how dark your end color will be.)  I began to carefully add the wet fabric, and then used my long wooden spoon to "stir" or "swish" the fabric around to ensure that the dye solution was getting everywhere as evenly as possible.  My fabric was in the dye solution for 30mins with constant mixing.  The water cools down pretty fast, so once it was ready to come out, I poured all the excess dye solution carefully down the drain, and carried the tub and fabric out to the washing machine.  I had my latex gloves on the entire time.  Moving the fabric into the washing machine was the only time I actually touched the fabric with my gloved hands, and the fabric was very cool to the touch by then.  Gentle wash cycle to remove the excess solution and help set the dye.  Dryer time, and it was done!  The perfect shade of "Plum" I was going for!

 I opted for the "tub in a bathtub" idea, as I was not sure the dye would not ruin my bathtub if I mixed it up directly in my bathtub.  Surprisingly, all the dye splash drops in my bathtub came off quickly and easily with a little bleach!  I cleaned up immediately, while the finished dyed fabric was washing.  Also, both tubs wiped up clean as well.  The small white bucket did leave a residue inside, but that was because the inside was kind of scruffy, so when I added the boiling water to create the Dye Bath it was a little more porous and gave the dye something to stick to.  The big blue tub that I used for the Dye Solution came out perfectly clean with a quick bleach rinse.  

In conclusion, I had a great experience dyeing, and have worked thru two other dyeing projects since this one!  By custom dyeing our fabrics, we can almost certainly ensure that no-one will be wearing the exactly same shade of fabric!  It also gives us options.  Maybe you need some black silk trim for a pleat, but you only have white Dupioni sitting around?  Quick dye job, and you have your black!  I encourage you to start with something small and easy, maybe a couple pairs of cotton gloves.  I wish I had been thinking about gloves, I could easily have dropped a pair into the dye solution, and then had a perfectly color matched pair of gloves to wear with my new ensemble!  Good luck!

Friday, November 16, 2012

...Every Leaf a Flower

 Sometimes I like to take a break from sewing.  I saw this DIY project post up on Pinterest this week.  So, walking to the car yesterday & today, I grabbed some large colorful maple leaves.  The leaves from yesterday were already too dried out and crumbly to use.  If you can, pick the leaf directly from the tree, it gives you more working time with a flexible leaf.  Super easy, and so very pretty for Autumn as a Thanksgiving center piece!  Enjoy!

Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - Sunset Gold

I was driving home today, and the sunset was so breathtaking!  A bright yellow gold, not just yellow, but blindingly bright golden color  surrounded with feathery clouds of greys, blacks, and dark purples.  It was Nature at it's finest! This dress was the closest I could find to what I was seeing this evening.  I love to look at the colors that Nature throws together and try to use them for inspiration.  I like the idea of a lemon yellow with a plum, a grey, or even a black contrast such as this vintage gown.  Enjoy! 


2-piece dress & hat: yellow figured silk bodice, cream lace yoke & high neck, black lace applied bands, white chiffon w/ black velvet ribbon shoulder scarf, yellow silk faille skirt w/ black velvet ribbon trim, black straw hat w/ cloth flowers & silk ribbons 

Thinking Outside The Bolt - Fabric Alternatives

As a seamstress, sometimes the biggest challenge we face is simply finding some fabric that will work with the project we are trying to create.  Seems like it would be/should be something pretty easy to do right?  But, strangely enough, finding the perfect fabric can be harder than anticipated.  All my dresses start out with research, then into a sketch, then into reality.  I can find the perfect researched gown made of an incredible fabric, but then I can never seem to find that exact ideal fabric when I want it.  I think that is why we all have "working stashes" and like to store good fabric deals when we find them, because experience has taught us that chances are we will not find "THE" fabric when we need it.  So, "Shopping the Stash" can go a long way towards solving that dilemma!  

I was out shopping at "The Barn" antique mall looking for vintage trims.  It was a bit before Halloween, so every booth had something interesting to look at.  In one costume booth, this seller had two wedding gowns.  Now, I like wedding gowns, the bigger the better!  And if I can get silk wedding gowns with 6-8ft trains, and these gowns are under $23 each, I consider that a "win-win" situation.  Add in the 20% Halloween Discount for the "Bonus Win" and I bought both of them!
The first was a 1950's white silk faille with a six foot train.  Someone had spilled a lovely pink cocktail down the front of it, but that was not going to be a problem.  Looking at the gown, I noted a tremendous amount of gathering at the waist, so I knew I had plenty of fabric to work with.  I like natural fabrics such as silks, linens, and cottons for my gowns.  I find gowns constructed of these fabrics are SO much cooler to wear as the fabrics "breathes", as compared to synthetics, which traps your body heat against your skin.  If I must use  a synthetic it is going to be the foundation skirt, or extraneous parts of the bodice, like a cuff or collar.
Top piece is cotton & bottom right piece is polyester
 So, how do we know a natural fiber fabric from a synthetic?  The tried and true method is the "Burn Test".  If you have never done a Burn Test, I strongly encourage you to try it even just once in a safe environment.  Take a small piece of a 100% natural fabric and a small piece of a 100% synthetic.  I used a piece of tinfoil as my safety mat, and I imagine a metal pie tin would work just as well.  Light the natural fabric first and watch what happens.  Then light the synthetic.  Once you watch this, you will understand why baby clothing is never suppose to be made of synthetic fabric.  The synthetic is highly flammable and does not just burn, it MELTS!  Your natural fabrics, if they burn, burns to a fine ash.  Check out YouTube for some sample videos, but nothing compares with doing a sample test yourself.

So, back to the wedding gowns.  The second gown looked to be a 1980's gown made of a heavy duchess silk satin that is just amazing.  (I have plans for this one for a future project!)  Again, it had some issues, one of which being such a dated design style, that the seller was just looking to unload it for a Halloween costume.  Lucky me!   So, my point here is sometimes, as a seamstress, we have to "think outside the bolt" and see potential in different places and different ways.  Curtains, especially vintage curtains, have made for some fabulous ensembles.  Re-purposed wedding gowns work.  An embroidered Sari. Sheets and bedspreads.  These are all basically pieces of fabric that are just waiting to start a new project with you!  

So, in conclusion, I dyed the first wedding gown a "plum" color to compliment the base color scheme of my Bustle Gown.  I had enough fabric to create an apron/bustle combination using four yards with enough left over to use pieces for contrast on the bodice, and finally to make some small silk roses for the vintage hat I will will wear with the ensemble.  I also kept the stays in the bodice and will probably re-purpose those for a corselette belt.  Next, I used the ribbon-trimmed tulle underskirt to make a new 1950's petticoat.  Lastly, I sold the vintage trim on the wedding gown on EBay for $10 plus s/h, so the finally cost of the silk gown ended up being approx $11.  (Five yards of a silk faille could run approx $250) It's all about recycle and re-purpose!  So, next time you are out shopping for fabric, don't just stop at the bolt! 
Vintage bridal trim sold for $10 on EBay

Full-sized BedSkirt - 20ft of 12" pleated satin for $8