Sunday, December 17, 2017

Rick Rack and Retirement

In late November, after  32 years  of service, my husband decided to retire from his job as project manager with Dominion Resources.  When he started with the company it was called Virginia Power. He submitted the retirement papers at the last minute.  Not giving me much time to sew something new to wear to the retirement party.  The party was at the site of the project where he has been working for the last three years, in southern Maryland, a three hour drive from our home. It was a dinner in a very nice seafood restaurant on the Chesapeake Bay.  I was the only female, as his work team is all males.  I knew I would be a bit overdressed, but I wanted to sew a dress because I now have very few occasions to sew and wear dresses,  and  will likely have even  less opportunities to do so  in the future.   This pattern and fabric for this dress were chosen based  on what was on the top of the piles in my sewing room, using the Last in-First out method of inventory management.  The pattern was Vogue 8949 one of about 20 current, unused Vogue patterns my sister found for $1.99 at a thrift store.

and the fabric, a dark floral printed Italian wool crepe, recently purchased from Emma One Sock.  

I picked the sleeveless version of the dress. I would have like to have had a small sleeve on the dress but the combination of me buying the minimum yardage of an expensive fabric and the vendor cutting the fabric length on a  slight angle to the selvedge wiped out that option. Sleeveless it was. This dress has an inset band located  1 inch above the natural waist.   If I was going to sew these extra seams in a fitted dress,  I wanted to highlight them in some way.  And I decided to use…  Rick Rack.  Yep the old wavy braid that has been around since 1870, but is often associated with children’s clothing and Little House  on the Prairie skirts. I have a collection of pictures of designer garments featuring rick rack. I created a Pinterest board rick-rack-designer  so you could see  them if you are interested.   I thought why not use a coordinating rick rack to both highlight the seaming and echo the curving lines of the floral print. I hand basted the rickrack to the neckline and  insert seams  to make sure that when I sewed the seam by machine, the rick rack extended evenly beyond the seam.

Rick Rack basted to neckline
Rick rack basted to Inset Seam

Wool crepe is a  dream to sew. I did interfaced the top with fusible weft for a bit of structure. The dress was fully lined in Bemberg rayon fabric.  I made the size 14, with  my standard alterations for upper back curvature, and square shoulders.  I  lengthened the skirt by 2 inches so the hem hit just below my knee.

Vogue 8949 on dress form ( with arms)

Rick Rack at Neckline



Wreath Hat?

Early in my husband’s career with the power company, I gifted him with  a table lamp incorporating an actual working electric  meter. The kind of meter that used to be affixed to every house. When I was a child,  a meter reader would come around every two months, read the numbers on the meter and send us a bill. When the lamp is on the meter actually runs! The meter was set at zero when I bought  the lamp.  Over the years my husband turned  on the light  when he arrived at work and turned it off when he left for the day.   On his last day at work,  his teammates had a fun time figuring out the number of hours it had ‘run’ since the day he got it ( a variable being the size of the light bulb) .

I plan to work a few more years, even though I was eligible for full retirement several years ago. DH was all ready to dive headfirst at the" Honey Do" list.   Unfortunately his next task  was not originally on the list. We found extensive termite damage in my mother's house over the Thanksgiving  holiday. So his first job, post retirement, is back in Maryland, supervising the replacement of all the floor joists, floors and kitchen in my mother's house. 


  1. A couple of things:
    1. I'm mad at you cause I tried to buy some of that wool crepe too but it had sold out after I placed my order.
    2. Now I know why I wanted some because it looks so good in your dress.
    3. Are we symbiotic twins cause I have plans to use some rick rack but on shirts this winter.

    Congrats on your husband's retirement and it's a lovely dress!

  2. Congrats on his retirement and the general countdown to yours! Is that three hours roundtrip or each way? And, did you sew the undershirt of your dress (not sure if there's another word for it). It's a great way to extend the season of a sleeveless top.

    1. Three hours one way, up near Cove Point MD. The sleeves are "Sleevy Wonders" I thought about sewing some but wasn't up for working with little pieces of stretch mesh.

    2. I was wondering the same thing! Love the sleevy wonders because it works so well with your dress!

  3. Such gorgeous colours in that dress. It looks really lovely on you. I prefer how you have worn it over a sleeved top than if it had sleeves in the same material.

    I like the story about your husband's lamp :)

  4. You look very beautiful in the dress. Love it with the sleevy wonders. And that clock – a brilliant gift.

  5. You look beautiful! Your dress suits you perfectly. Congrats to your hubby, and enjoy your remaining work years, to avoid your own honey-do list!! happy holidays, Coco

  6. Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful dress! That is such a fantastic fabric, and perfect for the occasion. Congrats to your husband. My husband just retired yesterday from 31 years of teaching too!

  7. The ric rac works so well with the fabric. Lovely dress!

  8. Great print for a really pretty dress. I also love the lamp. Did the teammates ever figure out the total hours? If yes, I bet it was quite a number! Happy retirement to your DH.
    (I used to pay Virginia Power for electricity ... 28+ years ago!)

  9. This is the best use of ric-rac I've ever seen and it works perfectly on your dress. Love it worn with the sheer sleeve top.

  10. Gorgeous dress! The ric-rac definitely sets off the design lines. Brilliant!

  11. Wowza! I admire your skill and your creativity. Rick rack...amazing.

  12. Great use of ric-rac! Gorgeous dress!

  13. I'm new to your blog - this is a gorgeous dress and it looks wonderful on you. Congrats on your husband's retirement; I remember when it was Virginia Power, too!

  14. What a beautiful dress. Love the fabric, matching ric-rac and pattern. These colours are very good on you. Congrats to your DH and a happy New Year to you!


  15. Hi Audrey,
    This is a beautiful dress, fabric choice, ric rac trim and the fit is spot on. I love your style. Everything you make that I see on your blog is classy. You choose young "with it" designs but you never look like your trying to be 20 yrs old again. That is not easy to do but you nail it every time! I am inquiring about the sheer sleeved top under your dress. Did you make it ? Would you share the pattern and fabric choice if you did make it please? I am 67yrs and I don't feel comfortable in sleeveless dresses (unless it is hot, hot, hot outside) all year round and I think this solution is brilliant. Thanks in advance for any information you can pass on. An admirer of your style and sewing skill ! Patricia