Hot! The “Japanese Tea Garden 1966” outfit

My mother and I

New York Pattern 1779

Fabrics: Black and white gingham from another project, white quilters cotton from stash, 1 icky red sweater from Salvation Army
Patterns: Shirt – New York Pattern 1779; Skirt – Simplicity 4013; Sweater – self drafted
Year: 1950’s
Notions: Interfacing and 5 buttons for blouse: 1 zipper and cotton/poly lining for skirt
Time to complete: Skirt – 3 hours; Shirt – 2 hours, Sweater – 1 hour.
First worn: For this photo
Wear again? Yes!
Total Cost: ~
$6 for skirt, $6 for sweater

Simplicity 4013


The theme for this week was to make an outfit inspired by a photo of ourselves as a kid.

THAT was a toughie : ) Fortunately my mother not only has a pretty complete photo album from my early years but is blessed with a memory for details. I actually found a couple of photographs with clothing that didn’t completely turn my stomach so I felt like I had SCORED!

In the end I decided on the photo of me, my mother and my middle sister as a baby in the Japanese Tea Garden here in San Francisco. My “lightbulb” moment was to re-create that image today as best we could : )




So here we are in 1966, March 9 to be exact (it’s on the back of the photo not from memory!). I have NO recollection of the dress or the day but I like the black/white/red combo. My mother says my grandmother bought me that dress from a very nice kids store in Claremont. She also distinctly remembers the outfit she was wearing – the blouse was pink with orange trim which matched the pants. And she LOVED those glasses which I’m sorry to say we used for dress-up a few years later and managed to mangle in the back yard. Sorry Mom!

My version took the black and white gingham idea and blew the squares up. I had bought the gingham last year with the intent to do a Peggy dress from “Mad Men” but never got there. No problem, this was perfect. Until I went to cut it out. The three hours of construction time included an hour spent running up to Joann’s to show them how they incorrectly cut the fabric (they cut both layers at once thereby shorting me 3 inches of pattern on one half, instead of cutting along the woven line in a single layer.) I had to BUY an entire length so I’d have enough to match the lines whereas if they’d cut the fabric correctly I would have been fine. Harrumph…but oh well…

I also didn’t pay attention to ALL the pattern as I first assembled the skirt front and ended up with this:


If you look at the left side of the photo as compared to the right you’ll see the lines mis-aligned perfectly. The right side is fine : )

Took that side out, re-pinned and stitched and we were good to go. I underlined the gingham since its pretty sheer and I didn’t want to HAVE to wear a slip in the summer. I was also able to do the high waisted scallped version this time <insert squeal of delight here>

I did not want the large collar of the original dress – I learned my lesson about those collars in my Laura Ashley stage in the 80’s. One good breeze and those things fly into your face leaving a perfect impression of your fabulous red lipstick on the center front, never to come out. Besides, I’m past the Laura Ashely thing now and wanted something I’d actually wear. Enter the fabulous shirt pattern. I had ZERO issues putting this together, other than a cat laying on the pieces and refusing to move. I will probably make three or four more of these and shorten the sleeves a little but other than that, it’s perfect!

The sad red sweater was a Salvation Army find the same night I found the blue sweater with the beaded snowflake that I used in the re-fashion challenge here. That big turtleneck piece? You’ll see that again sometime this year, I have plans for it : ) Once again I used the sweater for fabric, completey re-cut it and used binding off another sad red sweater to finish off the front.

I convinced my mother to find clothes in her wardrobe this last week that could come close to what she wore back in 1966. THEN I convinced her to get up REALLY early on Saturday morning, do full hair and make-up and drive out to Golden Gate Park in the city to visit the Academy of Sciences (where she could see her favorite penguins get breakfast) and then try to find the spot the original picture was taken. Isn’t my mother a good sport?We’re pretty sure we got it right : ) They’ve removed the bamboo fencing but this stone lantern was the only one that could have had a picture taken next to it from the right angle.

And even though I’m not six I had to twirl like I was : )

You can also see I made sure all those lines lined up perfectly and that high waistline works. Even though my mom said it reminded her of a tablecloth this is going to be in heavy rotation this summer : )

This also helped create a nifty mother-daughter moment for us this last weekend so it was an extra special challenge that went from “What in the world and I going to do?” to creating a really great memory. I’m pretty sure this will end up in my parent’s Christmas card this year…



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


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  1. BOO HISS to Jo-anns! They drive me nuts with the way they cut sometimes. Your skirt came out perfectly though! Your whole outfit is awesome. And nice to hear your mom is a good sport ;)

    • The store manager of this particular doesn’t sew, doesn’t cut and doesn’t understand why I get annoyed at their poor practices. Then again, he’s been working there and in the fabric biz a whole 11 months now… You should have heard my conversation with him when he tried to tell me that 1/8 yard cuts weren’t standard or allowed. And yes, my mom is a VERY good sport : )

  2. I know I’m old softy, but the fact that your Mum joined in and is wearing the same colours and the sunglasses (though from the looks of the light, it was very, very bright) and helped you recreate the inspiration and completion… brought a tear to my eye. Love the skirt, and the styling, and definitely the upcycling, and the obligatory twirling (isn’t it lovely to be past the age when you’re afraid to have fun in case anyone is looking!!)…..and can’t wait to see what that turtle neck becomes in future weeks. Lovely :)

    • Thank you and yes, that light was VERY bright! It had rained all week and she was SURE that we wouldn’t be able to take pictures but surprise! it was gorgeous out. Turns out the photo op place was RIGHT at the front gate where everyone wants to take pictures (or watch) so we did this pretty quick. I didn’t care that anyone was looking, I’ve gotten over that now : ) I just didn’t want to fall in the water behind me…

  3. So cool! Love the photos– you look great and your mom is a doll. I love how you get your family and friends involved in the challenges. Your “ooops” photo is exactly what happened with my gingham blouse at the side seams this week, except I couldn’t realign it to match without messing up the shape. And I also intended to make a Peggy dress with the fabric!

    • So let’s make our Peggy dresses and post them somewhere together! And we should wear our red shoes and hair in a pony tail : )

  4. Hey Loran, isn’t it just the best to twirl. I love the outfit and even better what a great sport your Mom was to tag a long. She gets the SewWeekly gold star. I really admire how you joined up all the striped, I want to learn so badly, the patterns always say by extra fabric to match but never the steps to match it by…I guess it’s trial and error but your a mater at it! To bad you don’t live on the East Coast, I’d so beg for a lesson in matching stripes!!

    • Matching the stripes isn’t hard, it just takes a little bit of time and patience and you need to cut EACH piece separately. Maybe I should do a little tutorial on this when I get my own sewing blog up and running. I’d be HAPPY to teach you, perhaps I should figure out this skype thing…

  5. I LOVE that you got your Mom to come out and do a photo shoot with you for this challenge – that is just too fantastic! I love your outfit also – you worked a miracle with that red sweater! I love the red, white, and black combo – your ensemble is positively delicious.

    • Thank you so much Meg!! It was great to have my mom along, now she wants to put the two photos together in the album : )

  6. I love your outfit and your Mum is so stylish, both then and now – no wonder you had such great taste!

    I am a big fan of gingham and if I lived somewhere sunny I’d wear it all the time.

  7. You look lovely and I really enjoyed reading your post, well done you and what a lovely Mom you have too

  8. I LOVE that your Mom played along (and doesn’t she look stylish?). It’s a great grown-up interpretation of your little-girl fancy dress, and I have to admit that when I too saw that gingham, the first thing I thought was “Peggy”.

    There is a site somewhere on the internet in which people can post old photos restaged in the present. It is facinating to see what changes and what doesn’t. If I manage to find the site, I’ll post a link back here.

  9. You’re going to start a sewing blog! Hooray, hope it features lots more pictures of your house too!!! Wow Loran, love the scalloped high waistline skirt – need one! What a lovely photo and outing for you and your mum. Isn’t it funny how popular the sailor look was?

    • Thanks Trish : ) I’ve been busy with the tablesetting blog but now that that’s starting to wind down I’m going to get the sewing one up and going! I have also thought about you PLENTY with the upcoming circle skirt challenge…you’ll see why next week (heh, heh…)

  10. I LOVE the tea garden in SF, your skirt, and your mom’s glasses are rad!

  11. This whole thing – the outfit itself, your mom supporting you, and especially YOU TWIRLING… oh, it makes me so happy.
    For me, TV is an escape from reality, not a double-dose of it. I can’t watch Mad Men. I’ve seen a couple episodes and it just makes me too sad – Reminds me too much of my dad, an insurance broker back in the 1960s who was pretty much done in by the 3-martini lunch. But I love that Peggy wears red shoes. She’s a great character. And I wish I looked like Christina Hendricks.

    My mom always had a pair of red shoes. I haven’t had any in a while; my favorite was a little pair of red boots in the late 80s. I wore them with the white Minnie Mouse sweatshirt you Freecycled to me… long before Freecycling was fashionable.

  12. Great photos and write up this week! It’s so nice that you got your mom to be in the photo with you. Your outfit is very reflective of you as a child. Very well done!

  13. Cheers for happy mother-daughter moments! And cheers to a lovely finished and perfectly matched gingham skirt!

  14. Just gorgeous Loran the high waist the matchup of all the lines, the twirl, your mum joining in on all the fun. You never disappoint LOVE IT!