Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Sad Sontag Saga

Well, I am somewhat bummed. I've been planning on starting the knitted sontag, or bosom buddy, from the Ragged Soldier site for the past few weeks. I finally got the correct sized needles so yesterday I started it, and, much to my suprise, made great progress. (Or, what is great progress for me, anyway). I don't knit much and when I do it tends to go soooooo sloooooowwwly. Well, I was happy to have completed 13 of the 18 rows of alternating basket weave blocks that form the back of this garment yesterday. I planned on finishing up the back portion today and getting a good start on the front wrap pieces.

This morning I wondered why my sontag back was still rectangular shaped, instead of fanning out into a nice triangular shape to cover my back. I realized I had forgotten to increase my stitches at the beginning of each row. Oops.

Sooo. . .I had to totally unravel what I had knit yesterday and I have spent most of today re-knitting the sontag back. At last I am back to where I was yesterday afternoon and I am suffering from knit brain. It is a condition I get whenever I spend hours knitting on something. You know, when you close your eyes and you still see yarn slipping over flashing needles? Similar things happen to me when I sew for too long. I see a perpetual line of stitching beneath a needle going up and down, in slow motion.

At least knitting is productive. And it doesn't require much thought beyond counting so I spent a good deal of time thinking of various things, like little things I am making for some friends of mine who are expecting a baby in a few months, and that led to thoughts of my own new baby, which led to thoughts of the attic, (where the wee baby clothes are stored), which led to thoughts of cleaning since the attic is so dusty. . .well, you get the idea. I dwelt on thoughts of cleaning for so long that I began to yearn for the smell of Pine Sol so I decided to "reward" myself by cleaning the bathroom after I finished knitting my 13th row! Beware the perils of knitting too much at once!



Sunday, August 24, 2008

1930's Dress Completed At Last

I needed (or, well, wanted) something new to wear a few days ago when I went to visit my family so I finally broke down and finished this dress I started nearly two months ago, before we moved. I don't know why I put off finishing it for so long, but that is a tendency of mine. I get almost done with something, and then - that's it. Perhaps I want to prolong the pleasure of creation by not putting in hems, or adding fasteners? Whatever the reason, it is so.

I wore the dress again today for church and a picnic afterwards. It is such an easy dress to wear and so very comfortable! The only problem I find with it is that the neckline seems to stretch so I need to topstitch it down and add some trim to cover the top stitching. Otherwise, the pattern as-is fit just fine, except for taking up the shouder seams, of course. I did hem the skirt longer than the 30's style of mid-calf to below-knee length. I just felt in the mood for a long dress and I can always shorten it later if I want to.

After the picnic, the church showed a new DVD version of Pilgrims Progress. I was excited to see the movie since I have often read the book. I was not disappointed! It was a modern rendition, but still very accurate to the book. The only problem I had with the movie was the seeming undertone of the possibility of loosing your salvation. I believe that once you are saved, you are ALWAYS saved. It disturbed me to see and hear the insinuation that if you stray from the path to the celestial city (heaven) you will go to hell. I don't remember if that was in the book or not. I need to reread it.

We watched another movie last night - I Am Legend. It wasn't a bad movie, but after it was over I felt disappointed in it. The plot wasn't that great and the ending wasn't that great either. I like happy movies that leave you feeling satisfied and content. This one did not do that for me. It was rather gruesome and dark. It seemed rather hopeless. I guess that is a problem of this world. Without Christ one IS hopeless.

I like movies like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. :) Dark movies seem to have no point to me, unless there is a moral or a happy ending. In this movie, there seemed to be the absence of both.

Anywoo - it is a beautiful evening and I must go make supper.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Decided to go with the black velvet for trimming, since I already had it. No use getting something you don't really need, when you have something else that will suffice just as well! I found some black silk for ties and I made a velvet bow for the center back. Sigh. Velvet is difficult to work with. The strips weren't so bad, but the bow was more unreasonable.

I really LOVE how this came out though and can't wait to start *mine* with the reddish gray plaid wool I have for it. This particular wool is just not my thing, so I listed it for sale in my Etsy shop.

A smaller version, sized down a bit (but not too much, because they have large heads) will work well for the boys, I think. That, or I might try a modified sunbonnet pattern for their hoods. This hood is pretty nice, but it's not very fitting to the head and I think in windy conditions would allow too much passage of air. Hmm. For them, I have a bright red wool plaid and a blue and brown wool plaid. I can't wait to make theirs, I think they will look so cute wearing them!



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Hood is Good

It is nice when both babies take naps at the same exact time in the afternoons! A few hours of uninterrupted time to do just what I like. This afternoon I sized up the hood pattern from the site.

You see, last evening my mother in law brought over a huge bag full of scraps she had bought for cheap at a thrift store. Inside was a lovely assortment of velvets and wools. After a somewhat dangerous experimentation with cuttings and the gas stove this morning it was determined that all but three pieces of the wool were good for 1860's things. The synthetic things were promptly tossed, and the rest sorted out. (I'm going to use the brown velveteen I found amongst the things for my buckram bonnet. Pics to come as I progress on that).
After drawing out the pattern on paper I decided to make a practice hood just to see how the pieces went together and if the size was right for me. I chose the least-attractive wool scrap to use and I cut out both pieces, and then the lining of white cotton. I figured if it was a flop there was no great sacrifice materially and if it WASN'T a flop, hey, that's good too. I used the half-circular pattern shape for the curtain, with the short curve the neck edge and the long curve the hem edge. The crown piece I placed on the fold along the short, straight edge and the slight curved edge was the face edge. I sewed the crown to the lining along the turn back, piping between them. Then I pleated the rest in to match the measure of the curtain neck edge. The curtain was sewn right sides together along the long curved edge and the short edges and turned right sides out. I pleated the curtain up a little at the neck, to fit my own. Then, it was just a matter of stitching the two pieces together.
It has been a matter of some controversy, how this pattern is supposed to go together. The minimal markings on the pattern leaves a lot up to the imagination of the seamstress, so I chose the way that seemed to make the most sense to me and that would give me a finished look similar to the pattern illustration. I think this is the correct way to put this particular hood together. The picture of my hood is rather deceptive, since it is not on a head. The seam between the crown and curtain really goes ABOVE my own bun on my head, giving a silhouette very much like that of the pattern illustration. I'm really happy with how it looks!

All that's left to do is to finish off the inside seam and add some trim and ties. I can't decide if I will trim with black velvet (which I have) or cranberry ribbon (which I don't have). And I have no idea whatsoever what to use for ties. . .

Since this is just made of the wool and cotton it is not very warm but I think will work well for cool mornings and evenings. I may just keep this prototype after all!



Galesburg Heritage Days 2008

And so, we are back. Actually, we have been back for a day or so now but I have been too tired to update my blog and very busy with the ever-increasing piles of after-event laundry. It’s amazing how filthy two small boys can get their clothes. Mostly everything is done now and the little white undies and small dresses are hanging up to dry in the sunshine and breeze. It was a beautiful event and a wonderful weekend. The park in Galesburg has always been one of the prettiest reenacting spots I’ve been to with the large lake, grasses, trees, hills and winding paths o’er meadows of bloom. Quaint wooden bridges crisscrossing creeks that feed into the lake. Plenty of sweet places to sit and rest and hide away with a Beloved One. Also, plenty of wonderful paths and roadways for wee feet to follow and fill a certain little man with great ecstasy of exploration and freedrom. Or, what he considers freedom, anyway. :)

Sadly, this year the event was very small. Only a handful of Civil War reenactors attended, and over on the other side of the park where the rondevue was held there were less attendees than formerly and less vendors of wares. I do not understand why, but after the years I’ve been involved in the hobby there does seem to be a cycle to different events. When I started out, Billie Creek Village in Indiana was the big event to go to every year. Now, that event is dying if not already dead by now. It seems the new up-and-coming event around here is at the Vermillion county park in east central IL, which will be held next month. Poor Galesburg. I hope it sees a new day again.
Judah did not have a very good time of it since he was running a slight fever and getting molars. After his waking up Saturday night and screaming non stop we decided to leave early and take him home. We were disappointed to leave early but the comfort of the little one was of prime importance and it was very cold at night. We need to make some rope beds before our next event to keep everyone up off of the ground!

I didn’t take that many pictures since I had the opportunity to meet and visit with some lovely ladies, including meeting a few ladies from the Sewing Academy! I planned to take more pictures Sunday but, alas, since we came home early was not able to do so. Even so, it was a lot of fun and so much nicer than Jacksonville!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Soft Toys

We are leaving in about an hour for our weekend reenactment. It is strange for me to not have some last minute project I need to hurry up and finish. I remember when we last went to this particular event, two years ago, we arrived around 9:00 at night since I spent all that day we were to leave feverishly trying to get David's frock coat finished!

With some extra time on my hands, I decided to make a few toys for the babies. When they were smaller it was easy to keep them amused with a wooden spoon, or bits of ribbon or a colorful blanket to lay on. Now that they are older they need more amusing things. :)

It has been hard to find much on toys for little ones during the 1860 era. I have had little luck coming across mentions of baby toys at all. I did see one painting that depicted a little girl holding a stuffed bunny so I decided to go with that, and also make a cloth ball.

The ball was supposed to have been a ball, that is. It came out looking more like a pumpkin. But it has cheery colors with blue and red check cotton and yellow linen. I sewed red wool felt squares at each end and a button on one of the ends. Judah likes the feel of buttons. I made sure to sew it on VERY well, so no fear of him choking on it. It delighted my heart to see him pick up his pumpkin when I finished it this morning and squeeze it and laugh. He really loves it! I was so pleased! It is stuffed with wool batt with a small sewed shut bag of dried beans in the middle, for a little weight.

The bunny is made of a very soft brownish-gray chennille fabric. (as for fiber content, don't ask, don't tell) :) I drew out the bunny shape and cut two, sewed right sides together, turned it, stuffed it lightly with wool batt, and stitched up the opening. So easy! It probably took me fifteen minutes to make it. I added an embroidered pink nose and french knot eyes and a fuzzy pom pom for a tail, made of cream colored wool yarn. So far, neither of the babies seem that interested in it.

So these new toys, along with a few books, which, if not from the period, are quite old anyhow and have some pretty colored pictures inside (Grizzly Boy and Bunny Bear and The Little Childrens Bible) make for a nice little selection of toys that they can play with. I also have a small bag of wooden blocks and a wooden rattle that is painted yellow on top with a green handle.

Finally, alas, do you remember poor Etta? She has been lying, poor thing, on my closet shelf these past months as the regency dress so fondly planned for her never happened. The pattern never quite worked for it, so she has been without covering. Today I finally made her a blue plaid dress, very plain, with a T-shaped bodice and a pleated skirt. With a bit of lace for a shawl and a cheerful red belt she looks much happier now that she is clothed. She is along with the other soft toys in the basket and I will either give her to a little girl who is in our unit or else, if she doesn't want her, keep the dolly in the toy basket for any little child to play with who might visit camp.

And so - must go check the cookies I'm baking to bring with us. I'll post pictures when we get back!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shirts, Pinafores and a Bonnet Form

I’ve been sewing shirts this week for a little fellow just a year and half older than David. His mom and dad are reenacting friends of David and I and back at Jacksonville they mentioned how difficult it is to find childrens clothing. I sure agree! Most vendors at reenactments around here have nothing for kids and the few that do have hideous, poorly put together and very overpriced items. I offered to make a few shirts for the little man in exchange for the outgrown shirts his mom said she was going to give me for my own little boys. I just hope the new shirts I made aren’t too big or too small. Too big would be better than too small. I made them enormous on little David so hopefully they will work.

I was surprised at how little fabric it takes to make a square cut shirt in size toddler 5. I had about a yard left of each fabric so I used the leftovers to make new pinafores for the babies. I was greatly inspired by Mrs. Graham’s pinafores she posted about on her blog so I used her pictures as inspiration and Mrs. Clark’s 1-2-3 Pinafore pattern, girls variation, for basic instructions.

I measured little David yesterday to make the bodice pattern. For Judah, I stupidly used the same pattern just making the bodice 1” shorter than little David’s, and the skirt 2” shorter. Later that afternoon when the pinafores were mostly done I tried them on the boys. Little David’s fit perfectly but Judah’s looked like a regency apron! I had not realized how much he has grown and his chest and shoulder area is every bit as broad as his brothers and his waist is bigger. I didn’t want him to wear his way-too-small pinafore, yet I didn’t want to give up on it either. I thankfully had enough fabric left to make a new bodice for the pinafore so I just took the old one off and sewed the new one on. The skirts were already the right length. Judah is a stocky baby. His pinafore won’t be able to button at the waist but I will put some ties on the back to make it work. That way, too, it is adjustable for any future babies who might wear it.

Then, today, I made David his new white shirt. His most recent white shirt is two years old and he has worn it to death and he desperately needed a new one. I used some very light white cotton to make the new one. It was a lot easier making the bigger size shirt than the very small ones I made a few days ago! I think he will like it since it seems it will be much cooler than the heavier weight white one he has now.

All of these things needs hooks or buttons but alas, I don’t have any that will work. David is stopping by Hancock fabrics on his way home from work to pick up buttons and hooks. By the way, does anyone know why Jo Anns and Hancocks no longer carry black hook and eyes? The only ones they have come in a package with bars and eyes mixed, which I don’t like, and the other packages are of WHITE hooks!

And last but not least, I did break down and sew up the frame for my fashion bonnet. The 2 year old buckram was a little dirty, but I did the best I could with it and anyway it will be covered so no one will see. I tried getting new buckram at Jo Anns but they just stopped carrying it. What a disappointment! I made the tip with one layer of buckram and the rest is two layers. I overcast wire to the edges all around and to the seam between the tip and the crown. Then, I covered that with white bias binding. Sooo…hopefully this one won’t collapse like my last one did. I want to get it finished in time to wear to our event after the one we have this weekend.

It has been lovely weather, and the best news is that this weekend is supposed to be even nicer! It will be wonderful having such pleasant weather for our event! Usually this event is terribly hot.

Must go care for a cranky almost-two-year-old,