NRCA finalist! Twice!

The Dressmaker’s Duke is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for:

Best First Book!

NRCA Icon Best 1st book

Also…it is a finalist in the Historical category!

NRCA Icon Historical

Posted in romance | Leave a comment

Hot Mess to On Fire

Welcome to this month’s

trash to treasure banner

I’m calling it:


I unearthed this “little” beauty (as you can see its HUGE) from my church thrift store on 96th Street. It was $7. I honestly did not know WHAT I was going to do with this HOT MESS, but I liked the tomato color and it is %100 percent silk–the chiffon and the lining. (Silk moves so nicely.)

Here it is:

red front  red back

Yes, this gem has shoulder pads and could fit another half of me in it.

I thought about removing the pads, hacking it off at the beaded waistline, and calling it a day. But, that would be too easy. Cheating. So, I dropped the whole thing down to my waist and decided it would be a skirt.

I marked the sleeve to cut off. And sewed them up to form the side seam.

IMG_6096  IMG_6097  IMG_6098

Next I ran a piece of elastic though the casing in the back to cinch it up and in a bit.

IMG_6102  IMG_6103

The skirt was too long. So I thought about chopping it off and hemming it-a LOT of work (the bottom of the skirt is nearly a full circle.)

IMG_6104Then I thought I’d cut it off and shred the bottom as a kind of funky hem. (Trick, on polyester and man-made fabrics, you can actually singe the bottom by running it quickly though a candle flame. You have to be even and fast, but not too fast. Tricky because you can burn a big hole in the garment.)

So I decide to do the LEAST amount of work and I simply picked up the front of the skirt at the beaded midline. This will do two things: 1. Save me time and 2. make a pretty and slimming line. Win Win!


I pin the new beading line and then just hand stitch it into place. Easy Peasy.

Now for the finished skirt. I didn’t use any other materials other than a piece of elastic. So I’m all in at a whopping $7 dollars!!!

First I paired it with (do you recognize the crop top from my previous post?? I just turned it around.) A tad revealing but surprisingly comfortable. Just hoping there are no wardrobe malfunctions!!

crop top  IMG_6115

Next I paired it with a simple burnished Gold tank. (thanks Amy Scheibe! dear friend and author of, A Fireproof Home for the Bride!)

gold tank

Then I tired a cream and gold top I had on hand (again from a thrift store.)

cream top

I thought I was done, but then, as I was taking the skirt off, I saw it might make a fun cocktail dress. I simply added a gold belt:

short dress

So, what do you think? Did I go from HOT MESS to On FIRE? Let me know!

<a href=””>HOT MESS to ON FIRE</a><br/>
<span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=””>polls</a&gt;)</span>

Thanks for tuning in! My next installment will be May 12th!

And remember The Dressmaker’s Duke available is at:

Amazon, B &N, iTunes


Posted in Jess Russell, Regency author, romance, sewing, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heavy Metal to Midriff Melody

Welcome to #4 Heavy Metal to Midriff Melody this month’s~

trash to treasure banner

I unearthed this “Treasure” at the Salvation Army on 96th Street.

 gold front midrift back

They were just about to put it on the floor when I snagged it for a cool $24.99. Expensive for me, but I thought it just might be worth it. We’ll see…

The dress is obviously too BIG for me. So I decided to hack it up!


I thought making separate pieces would make the dress more wearable and more versatile. (Face it, that’s a WHOLE lot of BLING!)

So I looked for some inspiration~

sequens   Gwenth P

Okey Dokey. I am inspired. (BTW, the gal on the lefts legs CANNOT be that LONG.)

I begin with the crop top. I lay out the bodice and cut the sides to form “cap” sleeves, sew the side seams, remove the sequins in the selvage, and then clip the curve:

(*Any curved seam must be clipped in order to  allow for movement and shape.)

IMG_5799   IMG_5801   IMG_5802

Next I cut off extra fabric at the hem. Then I make a facing and sew it to the bottom edge, and hand stich the hem. I do this for the raw selvage on the armholes as well. Lastly, I cut off the ties at the shoulder and move them to the back bottom as a new closure. Finito!

IMG_5806   IMG_5804

Now for the skirt. Again,–too big. So I rip out most of the zipper, and then remove the sequins that I will not need. I tack the zipper back in its new place and then sew. I also sew a facing into the waistband to finish that raw edge.


Hummm…I have extra pieces left over (the big dolman-type sleeves.) I can’t stand not to use them. So, I use one to make another handkerchief halter-like top.

handkerchief making

My only purchase for this project was the dress, so I am all in at:

Dress………$24.99 (no tax)                                                                                                      SWEET! Considering I made a skirt, a crop top, and a handkerchief  top.                         (And I have another sleeve left over for something else.)

So, what do you think??

(remember, you can click on any photo to see it bigger. Just don’t go too big on the face!)

crop top front crop top back

Crop Top

Handkerchief stretched  handkerchief draped   handkerchief back

Handkerchief Top two ways: stretched (left) and draped (middle).                                (I added a peacock feather detail on the shoulder. It had originally been on a hair band.)

silk tied  silk belted

Simple Silk Blouse.

Now you all weigh in. Was I successful? If so, which look do you like best?

<a href=””>Heavy Metal to Midriff Melody</a><br/>
<span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=””>polls</a&gt;)</span>

Thanks for stopping by!

Tune in Next month on April 14th for my next Trash to Treasure!

If you haven’t picked up The Dressmaker’s Duke, it is available at:

Amazon   iTunes   Barns and Noble

Posted in Jess Russell, Regency author, romance, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dressmaker’s Duke is .99 cents!

Woo Hoot! The Dressmaker’s Duke

is still a mere .99 cents!

Already have it?

Then Spread the Love and gift the book to someone in need of a little steamy romance!

Don’t have a e-reader? Download the kindle app to the computer!

So many ways to love!


Barns and Noble

Posted in Jess Russell, Regency author, romance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment




I’ll be featured on various blogs over these two weeks From February 23~ March 9th. Please stop by and take a gander. And remember The Dressmaker’s Duke (e-book) is  ON SALE for .99 cents  through March 3rd!

February 23rd

~Laurie Michele

You’ve traveled back in time to the era of The Dressmaker’s Duke…what career would you choose in order to remain an independent woman, and why?

~Paige Bradish

Lucky Me!

February 24th

~Reading to Distraction


Febuary 25th

~Boom Baby Reviews

What is the appeal of writing and reading regency romances?


~Romance Novel Giveaways

Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know


February 26th

~Kristy Centeno


February 27th

~Mel’s Shelves



~Cafinated Book Reviewer



February 28th

~Musings in Fiction Alley

Review & Spotlight


March 2nd

~Offbeat Vagabond



~Chica Loves to Read



March 3rd

~Apocalipstick the Book


~Swimming in Words


March 4th

~Romantic Reads


March 5th

~Ramblings of Cassie


March 9th

~A Tattered Copy


Posted in romance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wedding to Wearable (#3 Trash to Treasure)

Wedding to Wearable

Welcome to installment #3 of:trash to treasure banner

Today I am taking a 70’s (I think) bridal gown and reinventing it into a new              2015 evening gown.

Now, some of you may sigh and think, “Oh, to destroy someone’s wedding dress, how terrible.”

But, honestly, what can one do with a long, white gown that screams “Bridal”?              Face it, you will never wear it again-that’s why I could pick it up at a thrift store for $14.99.      Score one for me!

Here is my find~

origional frontorigional backKate Middleton

I think it is slightly reminiscent of the gown Kate Middleton wore to marry her prince.   OK, just Slightly. :o)

Initially I think I will try to turn it into a Regency gown ~ the time of                              The Dressmaker’s Duke. If I did I could keep it white and would not have the headache and possible failure of trying to dye the thing. But, I bought another wedding dress at the same time I bought this one and I think the other will be a better fit for the Regency gown project (coming soon). So I begin to look at this dress as something I can actually wear someday.

I decide to remove the sleeves (I will turn them into long evening gloves in another project.) And I  take the shoulder seam out altogether, ripping it right up to the neckline.

spliting seams  removing zipper  removing buttonsNext I remove all the buttons from the back and take out the zipper from the neckline to the waist embellishment. I decide I want the back to mimic the front with a slight “V” opening.

HOWEVER, it is still WHITE. Still very BRIDAL.

So, in for a penny, in for a pound, I decide to dye the dress. Fingers (and toes) crossed!

I am not sure what this dress is made of–something man-made for sure. I take a snippet of fabric from the selvage in a seam and see if it will take dye. It does, though when I rinse it becomes appreciably lighter.

In preparation for dying, I wash the dress, And I hack off some of the train. I think about cutting out the under slip, but decide to leave it.                                                                           (FYI, The less fabric you have to dye, the better)

Using heavy duty trash bags, two bottles of teal and one of royal dye, a bottle of white vinegar, and very hot water, I prepare my dye bath in my bath tub.

dyes   dye bath

Moment of truth! In goes the gown. I make sure it is saturated and then tie the bag up. I agitate the bag every so often so that nothing settles too long. I fill the tub around the bag with hot water and let it “cook” for several hours.

Real moment of truth…  I pull the dress out of the bag. It looks pretty darn even!

Blue   I hang it on the shower head and let it drip into the trash bag. Then I notice something BAD. Sweat stains under the arm pits.

stain   Ugh! OK, (I take a breath) and remind myself this is what makes these projects challenging. My mind begins to whirr with possible solutions.

I rinse the dress in cold water several times and let it dry.

Now the dreaded sweat stain. I could take fabric from the shoulder seam and “patch” the area, but this is too labor intensive and might be too bulky. I decide to split the side seam right down to the waist embellishment so that the armhole comes straight from the neck to the embellishment right under the bust. Much simpler since now there is no curve to deal with, and actually I think it looks better. This is a great example of a BAD thing that turns into a GOOD thing. (I LOVE when this happens.)

Then I hand stitch the new armholes and the “V” back.


I play around with some sort of embellishment at the hem line, (silver flower petals) but I really don’t think the dress needs it. There are no stains or flaws to cover up. (I have done this on the dress below. It looked as if a cat had gotten hold of it. Lots of pin-hole tears in the organza skirt. I simply sewed tiny silk flowers over every tear. cat dress Once again, A BAD thing made GOOD!

The $ Tally:

Dress:     (less 25%) $14.99 ……………… $11.75 with tax

Dye:         3 bottles@ $3.99 ……………….$12.00

Total         …………………………………………..$23.75

So, here is my finished dress! What do you think?

front  side view  back

close up

Thanks for stopping by!

BTW, The Dressmaker’s Duke will be Five months old on February 26th! And starting on the 20th it will be on SALE for .99 cents!! But only for two weeks so please take advantage and pick one up or gift one to a friend!

Also, I have 93 reviews! Thanks to everyone who reviewed. I would love to get 100 by the end of this month. So PLEASE, if you haven’t written a review, would you take a moment to do so? If you need help with posting, please give me a shout!

Next month’s Trash to Treasure is March 10th!




Posted in Jess Russell, Regency author, romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trash to Treasure 1900’s to 1800’s

trash to treasure banner

Ready, Set, Redingote!

Welcome to the second installment of my “Trash to Treasure” series. Lots of fun comments on my re-vamped sheath dress. The over-whelming consensus was my efforts made it BETTER! Yeah! Chalk one up for me!

Now we move on to transforming a 1960’ish evening coat into a

1810’ish Redingote.

“Redingote?” you say with a dubious look. What the heck is a Redingote? Well, any self-respecting Regency buff would tell you it is a coat. It is a nearly floor length coat that Regency gals used to wear to combat the English weather. I ask you to imagine yourself in a muslin frock (think the stuff handkerchiefs are made of) in the dead of winter in an unheated carriage on your way to a Scottish castle? (OK, you might have a rapidly cooling brick at your feet, and perhaps a muff and lap rug, but that’s about it.) Now why is it called “Redingote”? Is it typically red in color? No. Is it called that because it keeps you from turning red with cold? No, again. It is called such because the French heard “Riding Coat” as “Redding Goat.” The name stuck. Fun, n’es pas?

Ok, enough history. Now we get into my project.

I start with what I would call “a find”. It is a full length, black velvet coat with a silk lining. It was expensive. 20 bucks. (Hey, that is expensive for me.) I thought it was half price, but when I got to the counter the saleslady said it was an orange tag not a pink tag. (Hummm that store has never had an orange tag before…) Anyhoo, I digress. Ok, I plunked my mom’s military ID down for another 25% off. A find, n’es pas?

Here it is: Is it from the 60’s? I am not sure. What do you all think? Redingote front beforeRedingote back before This beauty is almost a cheat because it is pretty darned close as is. However, it could be more authentic. Here is a real Redingote Coat:

Redingote_a_la_hussarcoat 3 pesimentary decoration

Notice the Military influence of these examples. The trick was where could I get inexpensive heavy looking lace? In a fabric store this Passementerie type lace is at least $10 dollars a yard. Too tres chere for my budget. So, while trolling through Bag Man (yes, this is a store in NYC) I saw a curtain panel that had the kind of lace I wanted. Price tag, $12.99. Not cheap, but not outrageous. Done. Curtain panel

Now the fun begins!

I channeled the infamous Scarlett O’Hara and her famous “Curtain Dress”. Scarlett curtain dress

OK, this is NOT a Redingote, but it IS very cool. And, more importantly, INSPIRING!

I began playing with the panel. I knew I wanted to use the medallion lace for a front placket, so I cut that out first:

cutting lace then I played a bit:

playing with fabric The fun part!

Once I had a plan I cut out all my pieces and sewed black braid (99 cents a yard~9 yards) to finish the turned under edges.

sewing placket 2

Here are all the pieces (minus the back, which I made from every left-over bit): labled peices I tacked all these embellishments to the coat. (Note, I am not using a sewing machine because this coat is actually a very nice antique–thought I shutter slightly to think of the 60’s as being “antique”–so I do not want to ruin it. I only baste these pieces of lace onto the coat.) pinning sleeve cuff tacking on placket I used the front placket to cover the old button holes and pulled the front facing over so the opening was now double-breasted instead of single. This achieved two things: it helped with the “military look”, and make the coat fit tighter to my body.

Last Bits: I added a belt and used the last scraps of lace (I can’t stand to leave anything left over) to do the back of the coat. Final touches, were a lining of fur on the inside collar and along the sleeve caps. Also, some fabulous buttons–again, to add to the “Hussar Look“. (Huge thank you to my neighbor Kate who was cleaning out her stash of “goodies” and gave me the fur and the buttons along with a lot of other treasures. A red letter day for moi!) And the perfect color gloves! ( Merci Beaucoup, Shannon!)

So, without further a do~ (or will it be a don’t??) You decide!

mid cen coat front 3mid cen caot back 2Before

Aftersideish 2 sideish frontbackback detailhat

Note: See the little bit of lace I added at the last moment to the belt on the back? (looks a bit like a key.) Such a tiny detail, but it “finishes” the design I think. My hat was just something I was playing around with. It is the collar of an old coat with some lace and a tassel added.

I’d love to know what you all think! All totaled I spent:

$15 on the coat (minus mom’s 25% military discount)

$12.99 on the curtain panel

$9 on the braid

Totaling= $36.99 (plus donations from dear friends.) Not bad.

THANK YOU all for playing along! The Dressmaker’s Duke  donated over $70 dollars to Dress for Success last month! (And I am still waiting for all the sales to come in.)

My next installment will be February 10th. Not sure what I’m doing yet, but I’m sure something will catch my eye soon!     

Posted in Jess Russell, Regency author, romance, sewing, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Trash to Treasure Teaser

Teasertrash to treasure bannerCurtain panel

cheap curtain panel


Redingote front before

Mid-Century Evening Coat



Stay tuned to on Tuesday January 13th to see if I succeeded!

Posted in Jess Russell, romance, sewing, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trash to Treasure

Welcome to my first installment of :

trash to treasure banner

In keeping with my Dressmaker theme very second Tuesday of the month I will be featuring a project where I take something that I have bought for a song, or gotten for free, and turn it into something different–better?

You will be the judge!

Here is my first attempt:

I got this dress at a Church thrift store on 96th St. It cost a whopping $7.50

tag with price

Below I am modeling the “BEFORE”. (excuse the panty line, no make-up and messy hair.)

Trash to T before dress frontTrash to T before dress back

I decided the dress looked too heavy with the sleeve. Besides the sleeve opening was very tight:

tight sleeve

I also thought the hem was just a tad too long for me.

So, I began by chopping off the sleeves:

cutting sleevecut sleeve

Then I clipped into the sleeve selvage in order to turn the leftover bit of sleeve under the arm hole and then whip stitched the whole thing closed. Easy

Next I turned the hem up one notch and whip stitched that as well:

hemming dress

Here is the finished “AFTER” Dress! I added a belt (99cents) and my own shoes.

Trash to T dress frontTrash to T dress back

Total cost: $7.50 for the dress and .99 cents for the belt to total $8.49

So, let me know what you think! Is it BETTER or WORSE?

Don’t be shy, I can take your criticism. (Believe me, I have botched a few things in my day.) Or perhaps you would have done something different? A cap sleeve? A mini? I know you frustrated designers are out there. I loved hearing your ideas for my Regency “Say Yes to the Dress” gown now is your chance to speak out.

I could have made a belt out of the leftover sleeve fabric, but I liked the metallic pop of the thrift one, so I used that. (Also, less work!)

I think without the sleeves this dress is more versatile:

IMG_4988 IMG_4990IMG_4991IMG_4993

Next month, January 13th, I will be doing something a bit more ambitious. I am going to take a 1960’s ish floor length velvet evening coat and turn it into a  1810ish Regency Redingote. (Points to anyone who knows why this particular garment is called a Redingote.)

Here is a teaser:

Redingote_a_la_hussarRedingote front before

1800’s Redingote                           1960’s evening coat

Tune in on Tuesday the 13th of January to see the transformation!

And remember, The Dressmaker’s Duke is helping Dress for Success all this month. Buy a copy and a portion of the proceeds go to the charity!



Posted in romance | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Collette Cameron’s Triumph and Treasure

Today I am delighted to have Best-selling author Collette Cameron here with me. Her newest book, Triumph and Treasure just released on the 3rd.

Collette is not only an accomplished writer but also a savvy business woman who has built quite a following for herself.

 ~ ~~

Collette, how many books have you written to date?

Five full length novels, a novella, and two short stories. I just finished Virtue and Valor, the second book in the Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series.

When did you start writing romance and why?

In February of 2011, I parked my hiney in front of my den computer and started writing my first romance; actually my first book ever. I now have a lovely writing room.

My youngest son had just headed off to college, and I was only teaching part-time. I’d been toying with the idea of writing a book—though, I never considered writing romance—and now I had the time.

I also had an idea, a single scene, that I wanted to see if I could write an entire book around. Highlander’s Hope (Castle Brides Series) was the result.

Amazing that that is pretty much my story as well, though I am a much slower writer than you. :o)

When do you make the decision as to whose story you will tell next?

That’s a great question.

The story I decide to write next is usually a result of whichever character has nagged me the most in my current work in progress to get their story told.

Sometime, as in the Highland Heather series, I have several characters bugging me at once, so I go with the story that I have the most developed in my mind.

The biggest problem with writing a series is all the other books that are pestering me to write them, and I have to keep telling them to be patient.

Who is your favorite character thus far?

I just had a 4th grade student ask me that same question. As far as heroes go, I think it’s Flynn, the Marquis of Bretheridge. I can’t pick between my heroines, though. You know how girls are about favorites!

Which character is the most like you? The least?

I’ve had several people tell me they think Yvette Stapleton from Highlander’s Hope is like me, but I don’t think so.

Any similarities are purely coincidental.

The character that is the least like me has to be Ian, Viscount Warrick.

I actually find it easier to write my male characters than females, and I think it’s because I want to make sure I’m not writing myself into the heroine.

What inspires you?

All kinds of things inspire me. Music, flowers (just being outdoors) a great book, quotes, scripture, my family; even my dogs.

A street sign or hearing an unusual name can get my creative juices flowing.

You have many followers and fans. How did you begin to build your web site?

I have a friend who’s also a member of my local RWA chapter. She designed my website for me, and then I just started posting what interested me. I figured if I found it interesting, someone else might too.

I try really hard to keep the content diverse and not always be promoting. That’s true of all my social media.

I have a wicked sense of humor and it spills over on my blog and other social media forums.

Do you have any tips or do’s and don’ts for writers just starting out?

I think it’s extremely important for new writers to connect with other writers, especially those who’ve been down the publishing road. Joining different RWA chapters and participating in conference and workshops are a couple of ways to do that.

I also think it’s critical to read craft books and have excellent critique partners. I don’t use mine as much as I did when I started writing, but I still rely on their input when I’m stuck or just need a fresh set of eyes.

What is the best piece of advice you were given early on in your writing career?

No matter what happens, just keep writing.

About how much time a day do you devote to marketing? To writing?

My marketing/social media takes me about an hour a day, a bit more when I’ve got a new release or some sort of special event coming up.

I try to spend several hours a day writing at least 5 days a week. That doesn’t always happen though.

Life gets in the way, and it’s important to spend time with my family too!

How many stories are presently brewing in your imagination? Do you have a writing plan/schedule? If so, how do you implement it?

Well, I have to finish the Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series which is four more books. I have several novellas, four more series, a few stand-alones, and some short stories too.

I have a novella and a new series to start in between my contracted books.

I’m not a super-fast writer, so I really have to be careful to pace myself. I’ve started giving myself daily word count goals which seems to help keep me tapping away at my story rather than drifting over to Facebook or some other site which sucks up my writing time.

I am guilty of that myself. That blank page is still daunting to me.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have one.

There are so many wonderful authors out there that I just can’t choose one. They each offer something I admire and enjoy while reading their books.

Do you have a favorite story about your adventures as a writer?

I recently had the opportunity to speak to 160 4th grade students about writing and being an author. It was an absolute delight, and those kiddos came up with the most remarkable questions.

Collette, thank you for taking the time to “chat.” I wish you continued success in your writing. And can’t wait to read Triumph and Treasure!

Tri and treasure cover


Triumph and Treasure

Book One in the Highlander Heather Romancing a Scot Series

A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman.

Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to her aunt and uncle’s, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.

A privileged English lord.

Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin.

When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union.

Can Flynn and Angelina find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable?

Buy Link: http://amzn.comB006Q5ZP2/

Connect with Collette:

Website     Blue Rose Romance Blog   Twitter   Facebook

You can connect with Collette on Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Google+ too. Go to her website for the links, her email address and mailing address.



Posted in romance | 1 Comment