Happy Easter and A Few Shop Window Photos from Greenwich Village

Happy Easter! I have not been able to blog here of late due to finding some temp work that is quite a long commute away. I am trying to get myself geared up to start blogging again. In the meantime, I wanted to post these few pictures of a vintage shop window in the Village. The shop Reminiscence had this window display for Easter.

When my body and life gets more used to this commute, which is taking up to three and a half hours a day in order to get to work early before the rush hour gets a hold of the trains too much, then I will be able to blog more.

In the meantime happy Spring as well!



My First Tattoo, My Grandmother’s Signature

I recently got my first tattoo and it is a different type of fashion that I kept at bay for such a long time. What happened was my grandmother passed during the Christmas holiday season and my family was gathering for the funeral and memorial service. My daughter had the idea to get a tattoo of my grandmother’s signature. When my cousin, mother, and step sister heard about this they wanted to get one as well. I was the last one to agree. I wanted some symbolism of my grandfather on my father’s side since we were close. Therefore, I was still thinking about it but felt I was going to end up with two names when my cousin suggested I get two lavender stalks underneath my Joyce signature. We all called her Nanny Maxine. That was a great idea so I went for that one. Maxine’s last name was Joyce.

I wanted to write this post also because it is rather rare for a 54-year-old woman to have a grandmother. I was lucky she lived to be 95 and to get to know her better through the last few years since we always lived rather far away from her and my grandfather when I was growing up. For five years we lived in Europe during the time I was 7 to 12. During that time my two grandmothers came to visit but I didn’t see my grandfather, Rufus T Lavender and my other grandfather, Maxine’s husband Lester had passed away when I was 7. I loved to get my grandparent’s letters whenever they wrote me and I learned a lot from them when I was a teenager and got to visit them again after we moved back to the United States. Both my grandmothers loved to sew. Both of my grandfathers were creative as well.

My Nanny Maxine liked to sew clothing that was fashionable in France, for instance, and my mother grew up wearing some very lovely dresses as a result. I attached two photos of my nanny with my mother when she was young and most likely my grandmother sewed those dresses.

My Nanny also loved to garden. She spent many years growing up on a farm and that “farm stock” as it is called is what made her tough and got her through a lot of hard times in life.  When she was a teenager her father and a sister died. Her mother went to beauty school to learn a trade.  Later on, when her mother finished beauty school she spent the afternoons helping out at the beauty parlor. She worked hard at a young age to help out and she was a person who loved to laugh and joke around despite the losses she had endured. I will always remember her laughter.

I learned to enjoy crafts and appreciate handmade things from all of my grandparents.  My Nanny Maxine just so happened to live the longest of them all and we were very blessed to have her company for many years. My nanny had two children and she helped my grandfather when he built homes. She had a mind for helping layout electrical plugs in a way that didn’t create extension cords showing up everywhere.  When her husband passed away she took a job selling children’s wear in retail. She helped raise my cousin Star as well and was a loving grandma to me, my brother and my cousin Laura. She also had three great-grandchildren. The picture of the sailor doll is a doll my Nanny made for my mother when she was a little girl. Her father was away in the war and therefore my mother didn’t know what her daddy looked like. She carried the doll around since she knew her daddy was a sailor.

The picture of the sailor doll is a doll my Nanny made for my mother when she was a little girl. Her father was away in the war and therefore my mother didn’t know what her daddy looked like. She enjoyed carrying the doll around since she knew her daddy was a sailor. My mother must have been thrilled when she finally got to meet her daddy. He came home around the time she was four. In the meantime, my mother saw some other sailors but Nanny had to tell her those weren’t her father.

Later on in life my Nanny Maxine discovered she liked jazz music. Some jazz musicians came and played at her funeral. She wanted a party of sorts to celebrate her life. The pastor told about when she crawled around in the yard helping my mother plant bulbs. Despite her age and not being able to work in the garden regularly anymore she wanted to get involved. She kept pulling herself along and didn’t mind getting dirty.

I am happy with my tattoo. It was a bonding experience to get it done with so many family members and my mother went first. She is 75 and it was also a first for her. Even my step-sister Amanda decided to get a Joyce tattoo. The tattoo artist, Shauncey Fury, said one lady that comes into Hula Moon in Pensacola, Florida had never had a tattoo until after her husband and parents had passed. Apparently, her parents didn’t approve of tattoos. After one year the woman has had 69 tattoos. I am not planning on anymore for now but I thought this story was worth sharing. I hope you enjoyed this post!

vintage photo

Nanny with Emily, my daughter

Nanny with my mother and Jeffrey

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My Dottie Angel Dress

I finally finished my Dottie Angel dress a few weeks ago. I had this idea to make it out of slightly thicker cotton and that presented some difficulties for me in the sewing project. It was actually easier to make with the thinner cotton I used for my daughter’s dress. A link to the post about that dress is here.  Originally I thought I could get more year-round wear with a thicker cotton, but it turned out this particular fabric is rather hot considering the heat waves we have been having. Also when I worked on the collar and the pockets I had a bit of trouble turning the fabric and lining it up right with the binding tape. As a result I may go back soon and redo one pocket for instance. For now I am leaving it the way it is as I really need to focus on my priorities since I am having another foot surgery next Friday.

The trouble with the pocket presented itself despite basting the binding tape to the pocket by hand prior to sewing with the machine. A friend who is a dressmaker said next time to sew it with the machine instead of basting, just with very large stitching, then sew the smaller ones as usual and I suppose then to pull out the larger stitches afterwards. What occurred was a small piece of fabric escaped the binding so I have a small hole where my pocket should be closed and intact. I even tried zig-zagging a small section there but it still continued to sneak out of the binding tape. Patience!!! Live and learn. Well I am not the world’s best at sewing but the more I get a chance to do it the more I learn.

for blog dottie angel dress

for blog

Also with the neckline the fabric didn’t fold as easily due to being thicker, which meant there were spots where the binding tape showed more under the edge of the collar than it should have. I will just live with this and next time make a dress just like this one only with thinner fabric. I really like the pattern on the fabric of my dress. It has little bicycles and a cat on each bike. I found it when I was in Denver after my daughter gave me a gift certificate to Fancy Tiger Crafts. The navy fabric on the bottom I found in the garment district of NYC and it has little symbols in white of the four cardinal directions. I thought that went great with the bikes.

I made the medium-sized dress and it came out just a tad longer than I thought it would be. That is fine yet for some reason the shoulders are rather large on me, so as a result the dress tends to fall off my shoulder occasionally. I may try to take it in a bit in the back but this is also something I will tackle later on. So far I have chosen to wear either a sports bra under it or a tank top.

I really like the dress. I want to make a chocolate brown one with floral pockets and I have some really nice floral Liberty of London fabric I could use for the bottom piece and the pockets. I am totally crazy about floral prints. For some reason it doesn’t seem to be acceptable to wear floral prints in finance or bookkeeping roles. Therefore when I am able to go back to work I want to have a dress or two made from Dottie Angel patterns that has predominately solid fabric, or a tiny non-floral print, with the florals on the pockets and bottom piece. This way I can wear my flowers but keep it professional. Does anyone else have this struggle with office attire? If so please feel free to leave me comments of how you navigate around it.

Tiff Fussell, the designer of the Dottie Angel dress now has three other patterns. One is for children, the other two are for women’s dresses, or “frocks” as she refers to them. Of course I want to make them all. I will have to wait until after my foot heals so I can stand on my two feet and cut the patterns! Anyway I am excited that she is making more patterns. One is a wrap and slip dress pattern, the other is a dress, top and skirt pattern. The children’s pattern is for a dress and tunic.


Well I hope you are enjoying the remainder of summer. I have been getting out when I can to go for a kayak in the Hudson River where they have it for free in NYC, or a bike ride, walk, whatever I can to keep active before my surgery. Then it will be another long haul, like last time with my right foot, before I can go on any subways or buses, or go running at the gym. I will be so glad to get this behind me though!!

I have several post planned for the next few weeks so hopefully while I am recuperating I can come up with even more.

Blog and Philadelphia 005

dottie angel dress

fabric 003

Closeup of fabric

dottie angel pattern

All written material and photos by Marilyn Lavender except Simplicity Pattern picture. © Marilyn Lavender, 2016.  “All rights reserved.”

Simplicity Pattern picture attached to the link for their source.

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I’m Covered in Green Hearts!

I found this early 1990’s vintage heart-print dress a couple of months ago. I liked the colorful green hearts immediately. The blue is a navy but out in the sunlight it casts off a bit of a periwinkle color. It is made of a soft and comfortable cotton. I wanted a short dress. So many of my dresses tend to be mid-calf since I like them that way. It is nice to mix it up though, particularly in the spring and summer months when it gets warm!

One of the great things I have noticed about not dwelling on trends much is that I really buy significantly less. I stick with the classics and occasionally I find something else that I like that I add to my wardrobe. It is a nice to feel that my closet is full enough. I also have more time to focus on my crafts and other pursuits since I am far less inclined to go out and shop to keep up with trends. When I see a trend I like I either figure out if I want to participate in it, or how I can make something similar myself, or find something similar either thrifted or vintage so it is further down the chain of production. I haven’t had time but I want to make myself a pair of slacks that have that Japanese loose but feminine look with the fullness that almost looks like a skirt or harem pants. I am in awe of the ideas for designs that the Far East has for slacks. They make the slacks in the United States look so standard, while theirs are avant-garde and unique.

I bought the dainty gold necklace at Accessorize. I really like some of the designs in their shop. They have a lovely collection and variety of designs. I liked how the necklace is so thin and delicate.

My stocking come from Trendy Legs. My sweetheart gave them to me as a gift. I also have a pair with hearts on them but I like these with the paisley pattern paired with the dress’s green heart pattern. They are really nice for us ladies who aren’t into tattoos, we can get kind of the same effect but without the tattoo.

I have been quite buried working on getting the Etsy shop up and running. Then after the first one is opened I am going to create another with handmade items. It is a learning curve and a big project but I have been reading a lot about it. Plus it is exciting, all the more so since I get to focus on pieces of myself that I haven’t had that much time to really let loose and watch evolve in many years. I have a real reason to bring the things I enjoy and the things I like creating forward. I get the opportunity to focus on my hobbies and interests but on a larger level so I can share them with others. In a certain way it makes me feel twenty-one again. At twenty-one my brain was as if it was on fire with creativity!

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of spring and hopefully it will get warm enough so that I can take some blog-post pictures outside again!!

Vintage 1990's dress

1990's green vintage dress

trendy legs tights

accessorize necklace 1990's dress


All photos  and written material by Marilyn Lavender. © Marilyn Lavender, 2016.  “All rights reserved.”