Any outfit is made cuter with the perfect accessories, as any girl can tell you!  So whenever I design, I keep unique accessories in mind as well.   Antique lace rose barrettes and headband are obvious for vintage lace dresses, but what could possibly go with nautical?  When I saw the craft cord at Hobby Lobby, I knew the answer instantly - Nautical Knots!!  It took a few attempts, but I am in love with the results.
Here I'm sharing how to make nautical inspired nautical hair accessories of your own, but more than that, sharing the message that accessories can go beyond flowers and bows or whatever is trendy - unique, themed accessorizing can be as vast and diverse as imagination, and just as much fun!

Now, a sane person would have bought a wide enough headband to serve the purpose.  I, however, already had some cheap, thin headbands, so why purchase when I can just modify?  A little time and creativity, and VOILA!  a headband just the right shape to be the base for my nautical design.
After the headband is covered, the next part is the knot.  I looked up "nautical knots" and settled on the Carrick Bend for looks.  It takes two strands of rope, which twine around each other.  I learned to tie the knot from the excellent tutorial here  It is important to skip the final step in that tutorial: tightening the knot!  It must be left loose to achieve the proper look.  Otherwise you end up with a super strong sailor hitch, but you probably wouldn't want to wear it :)
My first attempt at a knot for the headband wasn't very good.  I used the 2 largest ropes, hoping for a more dramatic knot with a high profile.  It looked really dumb.  She wore it on Easter, but I hated it and tore it apart the first chance I got.  It was too thick and inelegant.  I started over again with the thinest rope and LOVED the results!  The biggest difference was that with the thick rope, I was only able to lay the remaining ends side by side along the length of the headband on either side of the knot.  With the smaller rope, however, I was able to glue the extra ends in a sort of figure 8 pattern, reducing in size, until the end of the headband.  This was visually more interesting and elegant.  Bigger isn't always better :)

As for the barrette - I used the exact same knot - the Carrick Bend - and it is simply mounted to a barrette instead.  
I started with a simple alligator clip, and covered it in navy grosgrain ribbon using E6000 glue.
Using the small rope again, I tied the Carrick Bend knot, which left me with 4 dangling ends, as you can see.  With two on opposite corners, I tied knots in the ends, and left them dangling.  For the remaining two I looped them around and glued them underneath, forming an additional loop on either end of the Carrick Bend, making it a little longer and fancier looking while still maintaining the nautical knot theme.
 The final result is a complete themed look.  I could have just put a blue or yellow headband on, I guess - and it would have been just fine.  But how much fun I had doing these!  And now, though I live in a landlocked state and will likely never need the knowledge, I know ONE sailor knot!  Yay!

For Easter this year, under pressure from how much I loved last year's dresses, I decided to turn to one of my most prized possessions: a collection of vintage sewing patterns that my Grandma gave me when her arthritis made it too difficult for her to sew any more.

 I love these old patterns for several reasons. First off, they don't skimp on anything. There is an assumption of quality over quickness that most patterns now choose to reverse. Quick, boxy, and as simple as possible is today's rule.  But these old patterns use lining when the shortcut would be a turned under hem, stuff like that.  Speaking of hems, the girls' dresses call for a 2 to 3 inch hem that gives a gorgeous weight to the bottom of the skirt!! The skirts are always gathered in SO tightly that I always wonder if I'm going to actually be able to get it all in around the waist. My girls notice & appreciate the difference immediately in the twirl-ability of the magnificently full skirts!

 Second, these patterns fit my girls' bodies. Most contemporary patterns I have to modify for my tall, thin girls. For my oldest girl, who is nine years old, for example, I usually cut a size 5 or 6, then use the size 8 or 10 length in order to get it to not drown her in fabric. These older patterns just seem to assume a slimmer build throughout - from shoulder breadth to arm diameter.

Pattern used for the Classic Sailor Dress - FANTASTIC pattern!
There are drawbacks, however, to using the older patterns. They are, typically, more difficult. Not just because of the level of quality, but also because the directions are obscure and vague. Instead of step-by-step, assuming any sewer may be a novice, these patterns will include steps such as "attach cuff to bottom of sleeve," without any picture, diagram or further instruction. How does the cuff attach? Is it right sides together? It folds back on itself, how is that achieved without showing the raw edges? I find myself pinning and visualizing a LOT as I try to negotiate steps that the instructions assume I already know how to do. But is it worth it? You tell me!

 For my youngest, I chose a classic Sailor dress with the main flair being the bright yellow.  Evey's favorite, favorite color is yellow and she begged and pleaded for a yellow easter dress.  When I found this gorgeous deep sunshine color, I was happy to oblige. I love the yellow with the traditional blue & white of nautical styling.

I'm often asked about fabric choices for dress sewing, so here is a quick thought.  I LOVE a poly-cotton blend for little girls' dresses.  It is harder and harder to find in this world of 100% cotton for quilters, but it washes like a dream, never ever has to be ironed, and doesn't seem to hold on to stains.  It is my go-to fabric for any dress that has gathers or pleats.  Now, it isn't fancy - so it won't do for flower girls' dresses or special occasion if fru-fru is desired - but for a good ol' bright, easy to sew, easy to wear, fabric, I love my simple poly-cotton, which is what this dress is made out of.  The yellow, navy and white are poly-cotton (also used the white for a sewn-in slip).  The striped inset is one of those crazy "unknown content" bolts.  So far it seems to be ok.  I also used grosgrain ribbon for all the trim.  I love grosgrain for the way it lays flat and cooperates.


My great joy on these dresses was the silly navy & white stripey buttons, which I found in my sewing drawer.  Just a lovely serendipity.  No idea where I originally purchased them. They appear on the front of Evey's dress, on Chloe's belt, and down the back of Chloe's dress.

For Chloe, I opted for a truly vintage look.  The cornflower-blue fabric (again, a simple poly-cotton) was perfect for the retro-feel, and enabled me to coordinate the girls' outfits without having them actually match.  I didn't want the square sailor collar, so I got creative.  Had to combine a couple of patterns to get the look I wanted, but that's less unusual for me than making a dress with just one pattern!  I did have to improvise the cuffs and tie myself, but that wasn't hard.  Chloe wanted me to keep the skirt longer than the pattern called for, so I didn't get the big, deep hem the pattern called for, but I agree with her that the longer skirt gives it a charming look.

Finally, for Lily, since she's the oldest, I wanted something a little more mature while still being little girl.  I browsed ideas online and found a lady's pattern that inspired me to create this more contemporary dress that, while not a sailor dress, still has nautical elements.  Again, I had to use a couple of different patterns to get what I wanted, but no vintage patterns for this one. Working with stripes makes me want to pull my hair out by the roots - especially when I didn't have much to work with and kept cutting the pieces the wrong direction, but it all worked out, so... *big sigh*.  I doubled the skirt with just an inch difference, and added white grosgrain ribbon trim along the edge, which is sweet and gives a lot of movement.  As tall and thin as Lily is, I think the dropwaist is perfect!!
Of course, the original intention of the dresses was for Easter (though they made for darling pictures at the lake, too!  Bonus for mommy!).  Here are some pics of how they performed on the big day.  Note how adorable Chloe was with Easter gloves - one relative commented that she looked like she belonged as a permanent resident of Main Street, USA at Disneyland :)

So cute with gloves! Very proper!
And of course, I do have the boys as well.  I don't sew much for them any more (though I did have to alter a ridiculously long tie recently - that was a feat!), so they don't really get featured here on the crafty blog, but they did coordinate and look fabulous and get their pictures taken a lot too.

And lest my pictures make anyone think that my kids are always prim and proper and well behaved and perfect... REALITY:

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