Wednesday, October 21, 2020

October

October is slipping by; transitioning from the gold and blue of September to the deeper reds, oranges and browns of October. I know I have neglected my blog; it's been a busy time since the kids went back to school. The first few weeks were full of settling in to new routines and it seems at least once a week someone or another has a symptom that requires them to be kept home. This year, the nurse sent a detailed list of symptoms that could be problematic and encourages kids with any of them to stay home. Cough, tummy ache, runny nose, sore throat, etc. In the past, the only time school did NOT want our kids in was if they had a fever or were throwing up. Now, of course, we must be more cautious.
They are all doing marvelously well; David is being promoted to 8th grade in December (he repeated 1st grade, since that was the time we were dealing with his autism diagnosis) and Rose is excelling in kidergarten. Meanwhile, I've been scurrying to get them all caught up on physicals and dental visits since we had to postpone so much over the spring and summer. Judah turned 13 in September and David had his 14th birthday a few days ago.
Malachi has returned home for the time being. He wanted to go back to school this year after being homeschooled most of last but he was struggling a lot. He has chosen to do the virutal schooling option our district offers and is happy to be back home again. He is a great help with Lucy, the black lab puppy we got at the beginning of September.
I have been sewing some things as I have time and will blog about those as I can. Perhaps things will quiet down some but whenever I think they will, something new comes up to require any spare attention and time. I have made some modern things and actually did finish a historic garment. Malachi took some pictures of my new 1860's wrapper over the weekend and I am excited to have finally made my first Civil War dress in 3 years! (THREE?!?!)
This time of year always has me feeling a bit down and nostalgic but also fuels my creative drive and gets me incredibly inspired. Kind of weird, but, it works! I am taking advantage of my energy before winter comes on full force and I know I'll be feeling pretty lethargic and stifled before spring arrives.
Much love to you all, Sarah

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Summer Dresses and Nightgowns

Now that it's September, it seemed a good time to download all my August photos from my camera. I take my camera with me almost everywhere as I am still learning to use it, but often it is far easier to just pull out my phone to snap a quick (but far less quality) picture. I let my pictures on my camera pile up but it seemed like a good time to get them all off. Actually, I found a mushroom colony in the yard and wanted to take some photos of it and made myself download all my old pictures and recharge my camera battery before the fun of photographing the mushrooms.


So much happened in August - my sisters wedding, back to school shopping, the start of school! Benjamin had a mucocele on his lip that required a few dr appointments, culminating in a (quick, easy, outpatient) surgical removal yesterday. August saw the start of fall baseball season and the preparation for the coming months of hunting season, which makes the boys very happy. I made 7 cape dresses for a friend and finally learned how to construct this Plain style that has baffled me for many years. (remember all those Christian Amish romance novels teen girls read in the late 90's and early 2000's? I read them and had a fascination with Amish style dress that never quite has gone away!) 

I'm still waiting for my treadle machine to come back from the shop. They said it would take 6 to 8 weeks and it's only been, I think, almost four weeks but I am anxious about it. I keep having nightmares that I get it back and it's missing a part, or that they cannot fix it (even though the only thing it needs is a belt!) or that, worst of all, it never comes back. 


I've made more masks this past week but haven't started any bigger projects yet. I am enjoying not having sewing pressure right now. I did want to blog about the dresses I made the girls in July since I came across them when downloading my August pictures and they came out cute, I think. 


Anyway, Anne's 8th birthday was in late July and they spent the last part of the month with grandma and grandpa. Before they left I made them each a new nightgown and made Anne a birthday dress and, since Anne wanted Rose to have a matching one, and Rose had no objection, a dress for Rose too.


Anne wanted a halter style dress with a full skirt to about knee length. To avoid any fasteners we made the tops out of some stretchy t-shirt fabric and gathered the cotton skirt onto the bottom of a slightly shaped tube. After the halter was finished Anne decided she didn't like the feeling of ties behind her neck so we added loops at the back waistband to thread the ties through, so they can crisscross in the back and tie at the waist. 


To differentiate the dresses, we appliqued two different unicorns on the front bodices; Anne chose hers and Rose had the other. They both were thrilled with their new dresses and have worn them very often since we made them. Although, in these pictures, they look less than thrilled - they had been bickering about something and were not at all pleased about the idea of taking pictures together! ๐Ÿ˜‚





The nighties are made from a modern Simplicity pattern I picked up at Wal Mart. It's for a loose dress and the shape was right for the idea of nightie I had in mind. I probably didn't need a pattern for such a simple garment but it definitely made the project faster since the sizing was already worked out. We eliminated the center back opening since our material was soft and stretchy and I finished the neckline with a band and the sleeves and bottom with a simple hem. The girls liked having matching nighties to take with them and they still wear these a lot, although it's been getting cooler at night and they are pulling out their flannel pajamas pants already. 


So far this week it has been very rainy and so humid that it feels like it must be hot, but it's actually not. So far school has gone well for all the children and they are settling in very nicely, except Malachi has found that he does not like band class. Rose had her first music class two days ago and was so excited that she was able to talk into the microphone and tell everyone her name! She has a new little friend named Candace and she chatters to me all evening about the things her and Candace do at school. 


Next week is fair week so they all are off - even though, this year, we have pretty much no fair. 4-H judging is all being done remotely for the things my kids were/are involved in and the only people showing at fair are those who have animals. But, the kids still get the week off school and they are not complaining. ๐Ÿ˜‚



Much love,

Sarah 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

School Week

And, as of today, all the kids are back in school!


David started 7th grade on Monday morning. Over the summer his school moved location. Last week his teacher sent him a YouTube video tour of the new school and a step-by-step explanation of what he could expect his day to be like when school resumed. This was done instead of an in-person open house and David really liked knowing what his day would be like. So far he has really enjoyed school, seeing his friends, having the same teacher as he did last year and getting used to the new building! The former building was a 1920s highschool and although it was beautiful and historic, it was also expensive to maintain and there was no air conditioning. David loves having a temperature controlled environment now and no enormous fans to deal with in his classroom! He and his classmates stay in the same room all day, have their meals brought to them, and a few teachers rotate through to teach the different subjects. Staff wears masks and the students are encouraged to. David has chosen to wear a mask each day since he gets candy at the end of the day if he does. 


Judah and Malachi started yesterday, both at the Middle School! Being in 7th grade, this is Judah's second year there. Malachi is in 6th, and he was a little nervous since this is a completely new school for him with new staff to get used. Malachi did most of 5th grade from home, via the Ohio Virtual Academy. He decided almost last minute that he wanted to return to the local school this year so I am thankful that they could squeeze him in! I went with him to open house last week and he was happy to see his friend Glenn there from last year. Glenn and Malachi were so excited to see each other and I walked with them to the different rooms, helped Malachi figure out how to work his locker combination, and met his teachers. Judah and Malachi went to different bus stops yesterday and I walked with Malachi to his. I didn't realize that his is kind of a no-no. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I guess once kids reach middle school age they don't want their mom waving goodbye as they leave in the bus. This morning Malachi went with Judah to the bus and I was able to watch them from the front yard, without danger of embarrassing them with my presence. Because of Covid-19, this year the students are required to wear a face covering at school and on the bus. At lunch, there are no self serve foods and each student is required to bring their own water bottle to fill up since the drinking fountains are turned off. Other than that, they reported to me yesterday that school seems pretty normal!


Benjamin and Anne also started yesterday. Anne is in 3rd grade this year and Benjamin is a seasoned student now in 1st grade! They are also required to wear face coverings on the bus and in the school, although they can take them off for "mask breaks" when they are socially distanced from other students and do not have to wear them when they are eating or in gym or having recess. Anne and Benjamin did great and although Benjamin sat with Anne on the bus on the way to school, he informed me that on the way home he sat by a little girl from his class "I don't know her name, Mom, but she's really cute!" ๐Ÿ˜‚


And today little Rosie started kindergarten! She was in the 2nd group of kindergartners to start, as they have decided to implement a staggered kindergarten first day this year. The first group started yesterday! Rosie and her friend Joshua both started today. It was fun having her for one last day yesterday; we went to Goodwill, got some groceries and stopped at McDonalds for one last hurrah. This morning we did her hair, picked out a cute outfit (the adorable dress is from Grandma Pam!) and she dashed out the door with Anne, excited to start her first day of school! Her teacher is the same one that Benjamin had last year and we were able to meet her and see the classroom last week at open house. 


Here they are waiting for the bus! Yes, Rosie's hair is quite a bit shorter. I told her I was going to trim her dead ends before school started and she. . .decided to help me, by chopping off a good eight inches of hair around the front and sides. She has a long bob now and bangs. 


They all gave me a hug and kiss goodbye and Anne held Rosie's hand as she boarded the bus. I choked up but was determined to not let them see me cry. As the bus pulled away all 3 of them waved and pressed their faces against the windows, so, they were off! I can't wait to hear all about Rosie's first day when she comes home!

For the first time in almost 14 years I no longer have a preschool child at home! It has been a wonderful, crazy, intense chapter but I am so excited as we begin the next. 

Much love,

Sarah 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Masks for Back to School

I've said it before but I will say it again, because I think it is important: If anyone reading this needs a mask for themselves or a family member, let me know and I will make one for you and mail it to you at no cost. Masks are much more easily obtainable now than they were a few months ago and even if you don't sew, there are lots of no-sew mask tutorials but if you need one for any reason and cannot get one, please email me!

Also, I shared this video on Facbeook a few days ago but will post it here too because I think it is also important. Guys, it's not cool to shame or mock a kid who wears a mask, for any reason. No matter if that kid is worried about catching a virus, or wants to look cool, or who just wants to comply with guidelines so they can go somewhere/do something/. I've been seeing a lot of this around here and maybe it's just the area I live in but - let kids wear a mask and don't try to make them feel bad about it! For that matter, don't mock anyone for wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is not "living in fear". Some people wear a mask because they feel it helps keep them and others safe. Others wear one out of respect. If you choose to not wear one, that is on you but don't try to force your opinion on others!
So anyway.
Our school district finalized their learning plan early this month and parents can opt to send their kids in for a regular (or as regular as can be, in these irregular times) school week OR do complete remote learning. Whatever the parent decides is what they are committed to, barring any unforeseen circumstances, for the first semester. My kids all wanted to return to school so that is what we chose as the best option for us.
Masks at first were encouraged but not required but now they are required for all k-12 students and it must be a fabric face covering versus a plastic face shield. So, all the face shields I ordered from Amazon are gonna sit tight for awhile. ๐Ÿ˜‚ And over the weekend I began to make more masks. My kids will need a few each day and it doesn't hurt to have plenty extra, in case other kids at the school need some.
I am using the Twig & Tale free mask pattern exclusively now, and love how it fits. The 5 sizing options are really good. The Medium size fits me and the big boys, Anne takes a size Small and Rosie and Benjamin fit well into the X-small. I made some in size Large for our friend Kevin. So far we have not found anyone who is big enough to fit into the X-Large size!
I made some in plain fabric for my oldest son, David, who had fun decorating them with faces. He will be attending an alternative school where face masks will be needed during his drive to and from school but once at the school, he has the option to not wear a mask or to wear one provided by the school. He has a few of these masks as well as some neck gaiters to wear during his transportation.


I made each of the 3 littles an animal face mask and Benjamin wore his to 1st grade open house this week. Anne wore hers for 3rd grade, but Rosie chose to wear a panel mask with a raccoon and squirrel for her open house. Malachi had open house for 6th grade (he has decided to return to our district public school this year, after all) and the oldest two did not have open house.

So far each kid has about 8 masks apiece and I have more cut out to sew. I've also made a few mesh masks at special request but I won't make those for kids - kids need to follow the rules and be safe and these "anti masks" are a political statement that I can understand but that I do not share in. I will, however, make them to help some people comply in situations where these type of face coverings are allowed. I have also made a few similar ones out of stretch lace.
Masks at Rural King! Anyone over age 10 is required to wear face coverings in public areas
here in Ohio. 
So far the kids prefer the panel style over the pleated style since the seam curves away from the face and leaves a little air pocket on the inside. For ties I'm using t shirt fabric cut into strips and threaded through a pony bead so they can be adjusted to fit any size. It seems to work out a lot better than elastic or hair ties and it's insanely cheaper than either.
From a fat quarter at Wal Mart I can get 4-5 masks depending on size (not including lining, but I use scraps for that) so these are very economical masks to make.

Our first day of school is next week and they are all so excited! I am a little nervous but am excited too. I hope everything goes smoothly for the students and staff and that everyone is able to stay safe as we try to get a bit of a normal schedule back for our kids.
I can't believe all six of my kids are old enough for school! Where did time go? Rosie has Benjamins teacher from last year and she could not be more thrilled!



Much love,
Sarah

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A Patchwork Skirt

My friend Mr. Preston texted me early one morning back in May sometime. He was getting in some repro 80's style parody t shirts, and thought I might like one. Of course I wanted one! While I waited the few weeks til he got them in I decided it was a good time to make a patchwork skirt to go with the new tshirt. 

I've wanted to make a patchwork skirt for awhile. I saved a bunch of images last year of patchwork skirts from the 60's, 70's and 80's. They are all cute and I love how they go with anything. I remember having some clothes made of not real patchwork back in the 90's, but patchwork printed fabric so it looked like patchwork without, well, all the work. ๐Ÿ˜‚

A lot of the earlier patchwork skirts I looked at seemed to be made of simple blocks sewn together into a tube with a drawstring or elastic waist, and sometimes a slit for leg movement. I did find one from, according to the site it was listed on, the 60's and it intrigued me since it was made of a series of graduated blocks, smaller at the waist and largest at the hem. This made a very pretty shape without the need of elastics or drawstrings or slits. I decided to go with that style, even though my tshirt is from two decades later. 

Some simple math later I had made paper templates for all my blocks and it was time to choose fabrics from my stash. It was fun looking at the different combinations and deciding how to lay them out. I like my end product a lot! Each fabric is meaningful to me in different ways. Some of the fabrics are truly quite old and vintage and some are new - like the soft yellow that I used for Rosie's birthday dress back in April. While I sewed this skirt my Grandma was dying of cancer and so a lot of thoughts of her are stitched into the dress as she was constantly on my mind. 

I wanted to do a good job making this so I took the time to try to match all the seams nicely and serged every seam. Then, to protect the seams further from wear and tear I put in a lining. The waist came out a little big so I had to ease it to a binding to fit my waist and that is probably the only thing I don't like about the skirt. I would prefer it if it fit smoothly without easing but this is how it had to be! 

My shirt came in late June and I love it! I don't wear tshirts a lot but this one is certainly a favorite. I wore it on the 4th of July as an attempt at red-white-and-blue and my son took some pictures for me at Fort Salem, a sacred site near here. My Grandma was not expected to make it through the day (although she did, passing a few days later) so she was very present in my mind. I brought my flute out and my drum as it seemed the right thing to do. Later that night I went to a nature preserve with Malachi and brought my guitar. We watched the sunset and saw a beautiful turtle and just enjoyed the moments. They all seemed precious as they dropped off, one by one, to the time of my Grandmas crossing.

I like the skirt with other shirts too - like I mentioned, these skirts go with anything! This white blouse with yellow embroidery is one I've worn to death since getting at Goodwill a few years ago. I really need to make a replacement blouse for it. Actually, I think I have. . .but I still have kept, and wear, this one! ๐Ÿ˜‚


Making this skirt was a slow process of love and memories. It did make me realize I need to make a few more skirts. I am down to just a few I wear in regular rotation and all my others are pretty well faded and not so nice anymore. I currently am making a set of cape dresses for a friend but once I have completed those, maybe I will make another skirt. There are lots of different patchwork styles I could try. Or I could just go with my usual, basic, peasant skirt. I am liking fitted waists again and would like a few skirts that are more structured, maybe with buttons and pockets. Maybe corduroy for cooler weather. Because, yes, the weather is cooling and soon autumn will be here and my heart is so, so glad. I so love this time. Mabon comes. 

Love,

Sarah

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August

This summer has been filled with a lot of things; in July my grandma crossed over after having been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer back in May. I am grateful she didn't have a long, lingering sickness. She was able to be medicated for her pain and the last time I talked with her (via video chat due to Covid-19) she was at my aunts beautiful, rural home in central Illinois. She took her phone around to show me the horses in the pasture and the wide open sky, dotted with fluffy clouds, and her sweet cat, and pictures of loved ones on the walls. My aunt had her surrounded by beauty and by memories of happy times. Later, when she had to go to the hospice center, my dad would sit by her side and sing songs to her. She was a strong, beautiful lady and she slipped away on July 7th. 




As all things cycle and seasons gently rise and fall in the continuing breath of life, my sister married her love a few short weeks later and I was filled with deep gladness to be able to be there for her and with her as she pledged her love to her new husband. The day before she married, my mother gave me a ring that my grandma had worn when she went into hospice. I wore it for the wedding and it felt, truly, like my grandmas sweet spirit was among us. 


I will have a post of the girls flower girl dresses and some photos of the wedding and the yellow dress I made to wear there but today it felt more right to just post about the quiet daily life I am so grateful for. While it was so good to see my parents for a brief time and to gain a wonderful new brother (and two darling nephews!) I was so happy to come back home and to rest in the gentle arms of these hills. I drove out yesterday to pick up my son from his friends house and the ache of grateful joy was almost unbearable. I love this place; I love this land, and I will be content and happy to stay here for the rest of my time on this earth. 





I love this little town, though I would jump at the chance to eventually move back out into the country. I love the familiar faces of my neighbors and the small talk and town gossip and news. I was ridiculously excited when our new pharmacy opened yesterday. I love all the school issues and sports and making cookies and masks for all my boys, whether biological or heart adopted. I love the rain and the sun and the moods that fall and rise over the fields and hills and the wind that rustles through the trees. I don't deserve this happiness but I am so grateful for it. I love my home here. 




One of David's latest paintings!

After the wedding I brought my girls home from their summer visit with grandma and grandpa and the boys stayed behind (except for Judah, who decided he wanted to stay home this year). We went out to check on the berries and found that there is a whole lot of them and more that will ripen over the next week or so. The girls picked all they could fit into their tied up bandannas and plan to go back with their plastic beach buckets to get more. I'll be happy if we can get enough for some jam and maybe a pie or two. But, I am very wary of the copious poison ivy entwined around the berry bushes - I'm recovering from a second poison ivy episode and I don't want to deal with another! ๐Ÿ˜‚







I was able to bring my great-great grandmas sewing machine home from my parents. They have been keeping it for me for a year or so. I spent an afternoon rearranging my sewing space and fitting the cabinet in. Above it I hung the picture my parents gave me that came from my grandpas bedroom. On the back a note reveals that it was given to my grandpa at the time of his mothers funeral, in 1999. It seemed only fitting to keep both picture and sewing machine together. I am so lucky to have these things to remind me of my family that has gone on. 





And yes, I definitely plan to use this awesome treadle machine as soon as I get it running! I think all it needs is a long belt but I will have it looked over and cleaned by my service guy to make sure it has all the right parts. 




It's been a very emotionally intense summer and I am liking this calm, cool August so far. After weeks of humidity and near 100-degree days it's been breezy and cool this one so far. I smell autumn in the air and a spicy, intoxicating scent from woods as the earth prepares for the cold months ahead. It makes me feel so alive and filled with wild energy and joy. In three weeks the kids return to school so I will be making a variety of mask styles for them and have some plastic face shields as well. It will be a bit of an adjustment as they transition back into a different kind of school year but I am hopeful they will do ok and the teachers and staff will not have a terribly difficult time (although I know they are working so hard as they deal with all this new stuff). 

I made these last night from our own green tomatoes!





I will close for now. I love you. You are important to me. You are my family. Be well, be safe, know you are loved. 

Love,

Sarah