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Why Don’t You . . .? Take a Housecoat Out For a Spin

Welcome to 2021, sewing friends. It’s time for another dose of whimsy in this upside-down world, with the next installment of our “Why Don’t You … ?” challenge, in which I’m reimagining some of Diana Vreeland’s wildest suggestions from her 1930s advice column for Harper’s Bazaar. Here’s our January gem: Why don’t you . . . turn an old ermine coat into a bathrobe?

Yes, Ms Vreeland. Absolutely. I am all about marrying a pattern to an unlikely fabric, or rocking a garment to an unexpected occasion. And what occasion calls for a fancy bathrobe more than where we currently find ourselves? Better yet, why don’t you . . . find a vintage housecoat pattern, and turn it into something you’d fashionably answer the door in? Maybe even venture outdoors in—once we’re back to enjoying the outdoors? (And, having no yardage of weasel handy, let’s just skip the ermine altogether.)

Thrift shop finds

The thrift store was my destination for the supplies for this challenge, and did it ever provide.

McCall's 8883 housecoat pattern and vibrant print polyester fabric were two thrift store finds

My favorite thrift stores are the indoor market kind, the type that have endless booths to browse. It’s overwhelming to some, but for me, each booth is like visiting a favorite room in someone else’s home.

One of my most beloved markets has a booth near the back that is most certainly curated by a sewing enthusiast—or just someone who knows beauty when they see it. It’s like walking into a small, well-kept closet: a compact rack of vintage clothing, tiers of jewelry, and baskets of vintage patterns. I’ve found many gems in that tiny 4-by-4-foot space, including a wool lap blanket emblazoned with a horse head, a Souré beaded purse, and a length of pink Schiaparelli yardage.

On my last…

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  1. BetsyMurphy | | #1

    Just love this, Marcy! I had to chuckle when you mentioned your Nan pressing polyester - reminded me of my mom and grandmother. What a beautiful dress to welcome in the new year!

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #3

      Thank you, Betsy! Can’t turn up your nose at poly with memories like those 😊

    2. user-7356162 | | #8

      Agree. Brought back many sweet memories reading this.

  2. LaurieHodges | | #2

    Lovely color with such movement! You do it justice with your big smile. I bought sone vintage housedress patterns, figuring they’d be cooler in the summer. Yes, we should dress up a bit when we go out, even just up the block.

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #4

      Thanks Laurie! Aren’t they great? Every time I come across a vintage house dress pattern, I want to throw away all my pajamas 😂

  3. User avater
    Tulafitz | | #5

    Lifted me up outta my post 2020 fog! Thank you and your Nan. Gotta go now, got some sewing to do. Thanks again & peace.

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #9

      Glad to hear it, though I’m late to say it! That fog, she likes to creep back in...hope your 2021 sewing is sunny & clear 💗

  4. User avater
    PKKing | | #6

    What a lovely story. I would have loved to have known your Nan. She sounds charming. And your "housecoat" is gorgeous!! I have a picture of my Mom in a wildly colorful evening ensemble I made for her 40 or so years ago. And the fabric? Polyester of course!! After she passed, I couldn't let the outfit go. I took it apart and made an evening blouse for myself out of it. Of course I have nowhere to wear it, but it reminds me of Mom when I see it hanging in my closet. 🥰

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #10

      That is just the best. What a wonderful thing to have—that’s why I’m a Kon-Don’T!
      My Nan was friends with everyone she met, I’m sure she would have loved to meet you in your colorful blouse.

  5. user-7799343 | | #7

    What a JOYFUL post. It not only made me smile, I could "see" y'all getting off the bus. Thank you for taking us for a walk to your haunts.

    1. User avater
      marcyharriell | | #11

      Thank you! I take a walk with my Nan so often, it was nice to write it down 💗

  6. User avater
    missmarie | | #12

    This looks so elegant and dreamy. Have tried to find this pattern! Wonder if it is a faux or true wrap.
    Thank you Marcy for this lovely story.

    Miss Marie

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