Vintage baby clothing line gets new vantage point

To Jennifer Angerame, a vintage handkerchief, pillowcase, bedspread, or doily is much more than what meets the eye. They are creative fodder for her line of hand-sewn baby clothes and accessories, in which antique linens of various fabric and patterns are stitched onto plain baby "onesies" — turning them into one-of-a kind "hanky dresses."

For example, one such baby dress is adorned with a skirt made from a chenille bedspread, while another has a skirt from a purple flowered handkerchief.

"I love coming up with new ideas," said Ms. Angerame, of Wilton, who is the owner of Southern Yankee LLC, which sells not only baby dresses but accessories, including aprons, wipes, bibs, and jewelry made from vintage buttons and other items.

Despite the economic downturn, Ms. Angerame's business has been expanding and her line was recently picked up by several new shops, including krik-it in Wilton, Ally Bally Bee in Ridgefield, Rainy Day on Martha's Vineyard, Dina Varano in Cheshire, and Annie Mame shop in Madison, owned by author and television personality Ann Nyberg. Southern Yankee is also carried by the East Fork Antique Mall in Sunnyvale, Texas, and by the Moppett Shop on Cape Cod.

"I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the orders," said Ms. Angerame, who described herself as a "third-generation seamstress." A native of Dallas, she studied fashion design at Texas Tech, and then moved to New York City to work for Perry Ellis Menswear. She said her business's name was inspired by the combination of her Southern roots and her marriage to her Yankee husband, Brian. The couple has three children.

To give back to the community, Ms. Angerame is organizing the third annual Sip Shop Share, a shopping event sponsored by local retailers, who will also be "collecting books on the third to fifth grade reading level for the St. John's Family Center in Bridgeport," said Ms. Angerame. "Cash donations are also welcome."

The event will take place on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the WEPCO church complex at 36 New Canaan Road.

Ms. Angerame's newest styles will be available. "I have added up-cycled things to my line, including men's dress shirts and ties," she said. She finds the items at garage sales, or through family and friends.

"One really fun thing that has comes from doing this is that people see my dresses and call me to give me hankies belonging to their mothers, aunts, sisters, or other relatives, that have been sitting in a drawer for years," Ms. Angerame said. "They are delighted to pass them on so they can become something beautiful."

Rosanna Coughlin, owner of krik-it, attested to success of the Southern Yankee products. "Jennifer's line is absolutely adorable and doing extremely well in our store," said Ms. Coughlin. "Customers love that is it totally unique, locally made, and at great price points for gifts. The 'Hanky Dress' is our top seller. Each one is different and people are constantly commenting on how clever the idea is that she uses vintage fabrics in her design."