Posts Tagged ‘alterations’


On a recent sunny Saturday, my partner and I spent some time in Downtown Pleasanton. What a charming area with restaurants, a farmer’s market, and quite a few boutiques that were packed with shoppers. Who says retail is dead?


Custom aprons from Estrella Designs.

I love it when I turn a corner and find something completely unexpected. We turned off Main Street onto Division Street and discovered a tiny shop inside the garage of a large brick house. Tucked inside was a teenage girl trying on the most fabulous gown in red lace. Well, turns out this was her senior high school graduation party dress that was getting altered by the shop’s proprietor, Agustin Estrella.


Estrella learned how to sew from his mother and he opened his shop, Estrella Designs in 2010. He sells custom aprons, cotton dresses, and he does alterations.


I loved Estrella’s clever approach to decor – he uses zippers and spools of thread to trim lampshades, drapes fabric from the ceiling for a makeshift dressing room, and his sewing machine is front and center, like a prized piece of art.

Thank you, Agustin Estrella. Running into your shop was a highlight of the day.


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A lot of people ask where I get my vintage clothing. Well, many places but some of my best pieces have come from friends.

Since I’m known for sporting vintage threads, I have been gifted with coats, suits, hats, shoes, even a fabulous 1940s umbrella.

Most recently my friend Amy gave me two lovely pieces from her mother’s closet: a grass-green wool suit and a blue dress (pictured left). Both are from the early 1960s, which just happens to be one of my favorite eras.

They fit perfectly everywhere except the waist – too small. In the 1960s GIRDLE was the word, but my modern word is ALTERATION. Ample seam allowance is just one of the great things about vintage. Back in the day clothing was constructed with plenty of fabric in the seams to allow for ease of wear and letting out here and there, because of course, a lady held on to her well made garments. Not anymore. Hems are almost non-existent and seams are 1/4 of an inch, if you’re lucky. Why? It saves money and we’re just going to toss out our clothes anyway. Aren’t we?

My local seamstress, Gracie, has altered many a vintage find for me and this time she let out both the dress and the suit skirt as well as shortened the hems. Altering the dress could have been a bit tricky as it has pleats. But Gracie figured it out. Now both pieces fit like a glove and are proportioned to my figure like they were made for me. And they are comfortable to boot.

The suit was a big hit at my church choir on St. Patrick’s Day. I wore the dress also singing in the choir for Easter and most recently I wore it to a vintage fashion show.

Thank you, Amy and Betty. I promise to take care of these beautiful vintage garments and show them a good time.

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