Say YES to the Dress #2 Bodice takes Shape

And the winner of the Bodice shape is:

“V” waistline and “V” neckline!

So on we go. The pattern shows two views, one with a ruched front placket, and one with “Reveres” (which is a sort of lapel). I am going to make an executive decision and try the Reveres version mainly because I think it will accentuate the waistline better than the ruched version. ( OK, I thought better of it and am just doing a plain version. Sometimes less is more.)

The skirt I will simply pleat (for now) the embellishments will come later! Cartridge pleats were used quite a bit in the 1850’s and 60’s. I am doing a somewhat flatter version that is a lot less time consuming.


Thank heavens for the sewing machine! Nearly eight yards of fabric to hand pleat was enough without having to hand-sew the pleats in place.


I cut out the lining and basted it together and then draped it onto the dress form to adjust the measurements. Then I took apart my lining (after marking it), cut out the taffeta and then basted the lining to each piece of taffeta. (this is not sexy work, but it  saves time in the end.)

Then I sewed the pieces together. And Voila! Definitely the sexy quotient is uped as we begin to see our vision come into fruition.

It is so interesting how light hits this dress. It can look silver and then, in a different light, it appears golden. I love this dichotomy, because my hero, Devlin, is a painter and is very attuned to light. Also, the opalescence of this dress plays into another theme in the book. (but you will have to BUY the book to understand. :o))

I still have some finishing to do to this bodice~boning, neckline and the hem at the waistline, but ostensibly it is done. And also need to add a waistband and hem the skirt. (not so much a “just” when you are hemming 8 yards.) Whew!

Now we move on the the SLEEVES! What do you imagine for this gown?



Two weeks until the release of Mad for the Marquess! Remember to VOTE! I will be posting the results on Friday!

“Right. Why do I paint devils?” He glanced at the spy hole. “The answer is simple, Miss Winton. Any good painter paints what is in his heart.” He felt suddenly exposed, as if he had come into a room without any clothes. He rushed to fill that empty yawning space—to cover himself. “There, not so exciting or illuminating, is it? The truth rarely is.”

“I do not believe that is your truth,” she said without hesitation.

~ from Mad for the Marquess


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Say YES to the Dress #2 ~ Under Pinnings and Basic Shape

And the winner is:

Opalescent Taffeta!

The linen was strong early in the voting, but then the taffeta squeaked through. Actually, I am just as happy NOT have to sacrifice these beautifully made curtains to my sewing scissors. They are really too lovely.

So, we proceed with the taffeta.

When watching the Red Carpet the fashionista’s always mention, well, the unmentionables-the “foundation garments.” The corsets, the spanks, the bras, and copious amounts of body tape that make these stars look incredible.

In 1863 skirts were still quite large so a gal would definitely need a crinoline (‘crin’ is the French for horsehair and ‘lin’ the linen thread it was woven with). Rather than buy one (what’s the fun in that) I decided to cobble one together. I bought a petticoat from the thrift store for $6.95 less 25% off. (Roughly $1.80 off) Then I bought $1 laundry hampers and took the springy wire out of them. (Interesting article about crinolines (and the perils of wearing a cage around your waist HERE.)

underpinnings I made a channel in the petticoat and then fed the wire through. And voila! A hooped skirt! Then rather than make a corset (which are really works of art in their own right) I just used the bustier I wore under my wedding dress. (A cheat, admittedly.)

This shape was de rigueur in the 1860’s ~ cinched waist and belled skirt. Achieving the elusive 18 inch waist was not as extreme as in the Edwardian Era, but the skirts were the widest in the period~remember, the wider the skirt, the smaller the waistline appears. (Click HERE is you want to know more about “Tightlacing.” Click HERE about the myth of rib removal. Click HERE is you want to see a rib cage of a corset wearer.)

I bought a pattern from the internet for the basic shape of our gown. It is a German pattern from the time period. I got a giggle out of the instructions describing German ladies as having “a larger body frame.”

dress drawingdress pattern

As you can see this particular pattern has a pointed waistline. But that can easily be changed to one with a natural waistline. Which would you like to see?

AND, while we’re at it, would you like a rounded neckline or a “V” neckline? A square neckline? The high neckline shown in the pattern as well as the sleeves can, and will, all be modified.

We are getting closer! This next week, I will begin sewing and we will  see our dress taking shape. Don’t forget, if you find a wonderful dress, send it to me!  Anne, my heroine, will wear this gown at a pivotal moment in Mad for the Marquess!

Seeing that innocent warmth in her eyes, he had wanted it for his own. He had wanted to steal it from her and push it deep within so it might kill the cold, blank emptiness inside him.

~from Mad for the Marquess

Thanks for taking a peek! And don’t forget to VOTE!


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Say”Yes” to the Dress! #2

Forget the cake on Bastille Day!

Instead, pick up a copy of

Mad for the Marquess!

Or better yet, have your cake and read the book too!

Now, for:

 Say “Yes” to the Dress (#2)!

No more hand-stitching! The sewing machine had been invented (click here if you want a bit of history.) Thank goodness because with a skirt taking up to 12 yards of fabric sewing by hand would be tedious enough for me to need much more wine than is good for me.

My heroine in The Dressmaker’s Duke, Olivia Weston, was a dressmaker. Anne Winton, my new heroine in Mad for the Marquess, is the farthest thing from a seamstress. In fact, she can barely manage to repair her stockings. And where Olivia was a bit of a fashionista (as far as her limited income would allow) poor Anne owns two dresses, one more hideous than the other.

“What?!” you say. “I thought this was a romance novel where the heroine is gorgeous and dressed to the nines.” (BTW, click here if you are interested in where the phrase “dressed to the nines originated.) Well, Anne is a charity case (think Jane Eyre, or perhaps Cinderella) and like Cindy she does get to go to the ball, however her Fairy Godmother is no Oscar de la Renta. In fact she has appalling taste.

So, what are we going to build together here on Say “Yes” to the Dress (#2)?

We are going to sew a glorious Victorian gown for Anne to wear to a very important event. (You have to read the book to find out!)

Now, to choose our fabric.

Many thanks to friend Beth who donated some GORGEOUS linen curtains

Then I chose an opalescent taffeta

And finally a sweet lace

What do you want to see Anne wear???

Next week we will explore the shape of the gown.  Pinterest is loaded with options. We are looking for gowns in the 1860’s range. If you find one you love, send it to me! We may try to replicate it in our design.

Don’t forget to vote! 


Deep in the most secret place in her heart, she could not squelch the peculiar stirrings within her body. Or the feeling of reciprocity. Lord Devlin had noticed her. There had been a palpable vibration between them that had shocked her. She tried to dismiss the moment a hundred times but, like a vivid reoccurring dream, it would not die.       

(Snip-it from Mad for the Marquess)





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My new Book, Mad for the Marquess!

I’m B-a-a-a-a-ck!

I am excited to announce

Mad for the Marquess,

my new historical romance is coming out

JULY 14th!

Meet my Marquess~



James Drake, Marquess of Devlin, had everything—until he was found covered in blood, standing over a dead girl. Now locked away in a madhouse, Devlin has one short year to recover his memories and prove his sanity, or be condemned for life. But the demons inside Dev’s head are far easier to battle than the evil surrounding him at Ballencrieff Asylum.

Anne Winton hardly expects to find her calling—or love—while working in a lunatic asylum. But despite all warnings, the “Mad Marquess” proves dangerously fascinating to innocent Anne. She vows to save Dev not only from his adversaries, but from himself.

Initially, Anne is only a pawn Dev uses to gain his freedom, until he begins to see her not just as a means to an end, but as a beautifully passionate woman. He must choose: ruin the woman he loves, or languish forever in hell.

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest!

So, in preparation for for the launch, I need a dress for the occasion (doesn’t every gal?) While The Dressmaker’s Duke was set in 1810, this book is set in 1863, the Victorian era. (Those of you who loved PBS’s “Victoria” will appreciate this next frock.) Only a little over 50 years separate my books, but styles changed enormously. The high-waist, gauzy dresses of the Regency gave way to the cinched waistlines and huge bell-like skirts of the Victorian era. Here is a pictorial Progression of Fashion

Over the next few weeks I (we) will be constructing a glorious gown for my heroine, Anne.

“Say YES to the Dress-part 2.”

So be ready to weigh in on all the components!



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October Trash to Treasure


Here is a photo of this pumpkin in the works~


Happy Halloween!!!!!!!

And just as a reminder (in case you haven’t read it) The Dressmaker’s Duke is a mere

99 cents!


Stay tuned for excerpts from, Mad for the Marquess!!

and Another “Say YES to the Dress”!

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Mad for the Marquess!

My new manuscript, Mad for the Marquess is in the works and will be out in late Winter, early Spring!

 In celebration I am putting The Dressmaker’s Duke on sale for 99 cents!

(Hey, your coffee at Starbucks will cost over twice as much as you devour this romantic and steamy story.)


The sale won’t last long, so get your romantic fix today at:

Amazon ~ iTunes ~Barns and Noble

Upcoming “stuff”~

  • More Trash to Treasure!
  • A Mad for the Marquess “Say Yes to the Dress!” ( this time I will be making a Victorian gown~ think Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain frock.) And this time I WILL be using a sewing machine! (they were invented in 1790 but perfected for general use in 1846.)
  • Fun trivia about Victorian asylums and some of the antiquated therapies used in “curing” these poor unfortunates.
  • Giveaways!

As always, thanks for tuning in!!!


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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Let us count our blessings! Hope your 2016 is full of growth and joy!

xo, Jess

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Re-Run to Re-Boot!

          This month’s

trash to treasure banner

                I’m calling Re-Run to Re-Boot!

First off: Sorry all.

I have been MIA this last month. No real excuses, just an inertia I couldn’t seem to pierce.

Part of this scattered malaise I can attribute to trolling through endless posts of possible investment properties in NYC.  Not unlike Facebook, these sites are a total time suck and fairly overwhelming. Particularly as I am poking into such environs as the South Bronx and hoods I know nothing about. (IF, I ever buy something, I will be sure to post. My ideal is a great “deal” with just enough renovation to make it sexy. The ultimate Trash to Treasure!) However, for the time being, my search has led to…nada.

Another reason for my lack of gumption is grief. My Dad had his stroke and went into hospice and died two years ago in November. Two years. I think I’m over it. I think it should be easier now. But it isn’t. And after pushing my feelings away for weeks, I am now owning them. The realization that I am not “done” brings me a strange comfort. I am still allowed to be sad. I am still allowed to cry.

Lastly, the horrific events in Paris leave me fixed to my couch as if somehow by absorbing every bit of the news I can take on just a fraction of the pain these poor folks are experiencing. If only it worked that way.

So, between trying to write, and 700 sqft apartments (that are mostly dumps), and re-runs of “Fixer Upper”, and yoga, and, yes, grief, I am posting a re-run of something I did years ago.

This is a hutch is hardly Trash. But my friend was tired of the heavy look and hired me to re-do it. She wanted it more French Country.

Hutch Unpainted

Hutch Unpainted

Painting lovely wood furniture is always a gamble. But my friend assured me that I could “do no wrong”, she just wanted something different.

So, after sanding priming, crackling, painting, and gilding this was the result~

Hutch Painted

A pretty dramatic difference. Right? I am sure some folks will be just horrified, but my friend was very pleased and so I was happy as well. (if you mouse over you can see more of the detail.) Let me know what you think of the transformation.

November is a tough month for me since my Dad’s passing. But it is also a time to reflect, to feel, and to be thankful for all the blessings in my life. To Re-Boot!

Thanks for tuning in!

(BTW, The Dressmaker’s Duke, goes on sale for 99 cents starting the 20th (tomorrow!) on Amazon!) Enjoy a bit of romance with your Turkey!

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Meh to Marvelous!

Welcome to September’s

trash to treasure banner

I’m calling this Meh to Marvelous!

But first things first! I promised you photos of my flower girl “tablecloth” dress in action! Here are Anna Claire and Leah in their frocks~

gregs wedding ac getting dressed  greg wedding AC  IMG_6938

greg wedding leah and ac getting dressed  greg wedding

You’ll notice a rainbow in the last shot. There was actually a double rainbow! And then a super moon later in the evening. Congrats to Greg and Katie!

Now, we move on to my next project.

I have hand-painted greeting cards and T-shirts for a long time.

IMG_7229 IMG_7230

I have always wanted to paint a dress. So, when trolling through my neighborhood thrift store, I came across a Victoria’s Secret dress (with the tag still on) for a whooping $6.50. So I snapped it up. IMG_7198

Here is the dress~  IMG_7196  IMG_7197

It’s made of a very light silk. I wasn’t in love with the pattern already painted on it, so I thought this would be a great dress to paint.

I have a bunch of fabric paints already, but they are very affordable if you wanted to purchase them. I like “Jaquard” brand. I have plain paints and also “Lumiere” paints which have a pearlessence sheen to them. Here are my tools below. (Notice a LARGE cup of coffee!)


I use an old ice cube tray to mix the paints. The iron I use to iron the fabric flat and to set the paint into the fabric. You can also use permanent markers to augment your painting. I usually like to outline my painting with markers but I didn’t in this project.

I looked at some painted dresses on the internet and was going to do flowers but then I thought of doing peacock feathers and liked that idea. After looking at a few pictures I determined that my feathers would start with a blue/purple center…then  lime/turquoise in the middle…and then finally a yellow/bronze on the outside. (Those colors would also blend with the painting already on the dress.)

IMG_7202  IMG_7204

Then I used blue, purple, and green to paint the long “feathery” part of the feather. As I moved toward the top and bust line of the dress, I painted the feathers closer and closer together.


So, here is the dress finished!

IMG_7215  IMG_7217

I tied the ties in a bow instead of drawing them around my neck, but I always have the option of changing it to tie around my neck. (click on picture to see the detail.)

Since I had my paints all ready, all I spent was $6.50!

So what do you think?

Is the dress better as a Peacock? Or did Victoria’s  Secret have the right idea?

Finally, The Dressmaker’s Duke is ONE YEAR OLD! I know, you must be saying, write another book for goodness sake. Well, the good news is I am! In fact I’m writing two new books~Mad for the Marquess, and Captivating the Countess (working title.)

SO, If you have not read The Dressmaker’s Duke, please try it!

If you have read it, and reviewed it, THANK YOU!

If you haven’t yet reviewed would you please consider writing one? A few honest thoughts will suffice.

Once again, thanks for taking a peek at

Trash to Treasure!

Till next month!



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Linen Table Cloth to Flower Girl Froth


trash to treasure bannerI am calling Linen Table Cloth to Flower Girl Froth.

My youngest nephew is getting married at the end of this month. One of his sisters has two little girls, Anna Claire and Leah. They  will be flower girls. (pretty cute, huh?)ac and leah 2I am call Aunt SoSo. Why, you ask? Well, when my nieces started hatching little ones I said, “So what am I called? Not GREAT Aunt Jess!” (said with appropriate dramatic horror.) My sister replied, “Well, would you rather be a great aunt or a so-so aunt?”  So Aunt SoSo was born.

I digress. After sketching a few options and getting some inspirational pictures from Megan (my niece and the girl’s mom) I came up with a VERY simple dress. The fabric is the real star of this little frock. Once I determined I was going to use an old table cloth, I was set.

Table clothes are often gorgeous and not used very often (at least they aren’t in MY house.) They stain and have to be ironed (something I try to avoid at ALL costs). This one had a few stains which I got out and a few tiny holes which I would work around. I dyed it a pretty blush pink to try and mimic the bridesmaid’s dress color.

Here it is drying over the railing of our house in the mountains.


I knew I had to make these dresses very forgiving in terms of fit as I would not be able to try the dresses on the girls till a day or so before the wedding. Megan sent me some measurements, but really all I needed was the length of the strap and the length from the breast bone to mid calf.  Anna Claire’s is 26″ in total length and Leah’s is 19″. Not a lot of fabric needed. Perfect.

Next I folded the cloth in half and cut off the end bit of lace

(this will become the collar and the shoulder strap.)IMG_6635

Then I cut out the body of the dress which as you can see is incredibly simple. The fold is on the left (longer) and the back seam is on the right (shorter).

IMG_6634I sew up the back using a French seam so it’s nice and neat. (Basically a French seam hides the raw edges of the seam.) Then all I have to do is stitch two rows along the top using a basting stitch. (It sort of looks like rail road tracks) These will allow me to pull the top threads and gather the fabric.


Next I take the bit of lace I’ve chopped off and gather it as well for the collar and straps.

1. sewing basting thread.          2. pulling the thread                   3. rough collar and straps


Next is the hardest part of this dress. I cut lengths of fabric about an inch wide and as long as I can given my leftover fabric. This narrow piece will be the casing for a ribbon or elastic. It will also enclose the raw edges of the collar/strap and the gathered edges of the dress. This is where I will add in the slip as well.

1. slip                                 2. pinning slip in             3. attaching facing to collar


Basically, for the slip you just make another dress and insert it into the shell of the first dress. Then you bind the raw edges with the strip of fabric.

0811151319  0811151210a

As a final touch I use a bit of fabric to make a little rose.


And here are the finished dresses! (I hope they fit!)

flower girl dresses   IMG_6792  IMG_6806

These little jewels didn’t cost me a thing. I had the dye and I used an old slip of mine for the under dress.

In next month’s installment I will have pictures of Anna Claire and Leah in their Tablecloth Frocks! So be sure and stop by!

As I was trolling through a magazine I came across this shot.

0811151211Humm…I like!

Maybe I’ll do something for myself!




Thanks for tuning in!

Some exciting news for my book, The Dressmaker’s Duke. It has now finaled in several Readers Choice Contests! And continues to get Five star Reviews! The little book that could! I am nearly finished with Mad for the Marquess and will submit it soon!



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