Friday, March 27, 2009

Springtime Floral Hair Wreath

Having recently come into acquisition of a lovely, big bunch of flowers (.50 at David's aunts thrift shop!) I spent some time trying to decide where to put them, to get the best effect.

My time thusly spent failed. I like very clean, clear spaces and don't put up very much to occupy that space. The flowers just tended to look as if they suddenly were placed there, very rudely and they interrupted the clean, clear flow of the view, so dear to my heart.

I was inspired today to make a floral hair wreath. I've made these before (hasn't everyone?) out of dandilions, when I was little. My little childhood playmate, Ben, and I pretended all sorts of things with those dandilion wreaths. Most often, that he was the "king" and I was the "princess" (he seemed ghastly frightened of making me "queen" because then I would be his "wife".) We lived in a wonderful fort made in the boughs of a large, dense pine tree.

For this one (not made of dandilions), you will need the following:

Wire (left over from the Christmas wreaths)

Florists tape

Assorted flowers/leaves/vines, etc.

That's it!

Oh, and a pair of wire cutters is handy as well. Raid husbands tool box for wire cutters.

To begin with, decide how large you want your circlet of flowers to be. Make it a comfortable, rather loose measurement, for the flowers will take up some space and you want it to look draped and natural.

Wire together your wire strands to make desired length. Use florists tape and wrap tightly and securely. Try on for fit.
Now, the fun part begins! Cut your flowers into various lengths and begin to attach them to the wire circle by taping them on with florists tape. Lay the end of a wire of flowers against the circle. Tape to the circle, tightly and securely, as you wrapped the initial wire.

Don't wrap the flower up to the head of the flower, since that would make it look stiff. End your wrapping of the flower about 1/2" - 1" from the flower. Bend your flower out of the way and continue to wrap on the other side, adding blossoms and flowers as you go. Continue around the entire circle and securely tape off.

Arrange and bend your flowers to get the best, most natural appearance. Try on!

Wear to your next historical ball, or plan one to compliment your Easter frock. Or, if desired, make a floral wreath for no other reason than to pretend you are a Spring Fairy Maiden of the Forest. (although here in central IL our forests are rather non-existent. But there are two maple trees outside which make lovely pretend places. )

I think I'll be making another one of these this afternoon to add to my Etsy shop. I love these dear little purply-pink blooms too much to sell this one, but I have some pinker flowers I can bear to part with!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Springtime Blouses

I was really inspired by Cheri's recent post on peasant blouses, and loved the one she has for sale in her shop. I used to wear this style all the time and thought I'd try to make a few new ones for myself, since they are so comfortable and one of my very favorite styles. I spent yesterday drawing up a pattern based on my measurements and gave it a whirl. The first result showed a few problems I had to correct, so I modified my pattern and made another one today. Here is my new peasant blouse! :)

It has a neck gathered into a satin binding instead of being drawn with a ribbon. Reason: I had no ribbon in a corresponding color. I did have this satiny seam binding in a peachy-pinky-tan color that was just right.

I used the rest of the seam binding to put around the front vent facing. I also added some cream colored lace, last minute. Why not?

The short sleeves are elasticized, to give a ruffle effect.

And the bottom hem is vented on the lengthened body to give a bit of shaping. All in all, a very comfortable style. I can't wait to make a few more.

Here is the first blouse I made yesterday. If any of you ladies are a rather short-waisted, petite sort of woman, with not-too-heavy shoulders and rather slender arms, with a bust not exceeding 40" or so, this blouse may just fit you perfectly. It was just a bit too short in the length for me (hitting me just above hip length) and just a bit too tight in the arms (which, admittedly, are not super-thin) to be completely comfortable. If any of you are interested in it, please e-mail me and you may have it for the price of shipping. I love how it came out, but since it doesn't fit just right, would rather it have a good home where it may be used. I plan on making another in the same fabric, with my newly modified pattern.



P.S. Don't forget that Little Dorrit premieres this Sunday on Masterpiece!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Green Skirt ~ a.k.a. The Moss Maiden

The Moss Maiden. Of course inanimate items, like clothes, sound so much prettier if described in creative terms. My skirt is green. Moss is green. Ah. The connection. The maiden, I suppose, would be me. Although I am married so am doubtful if the term would be absolutely correct.
But perhaps the Moss Maiden brings to mind vivid images of a green-hued lady, with damp, wrinkled skin, smelling of earth, and with stringy, fish-pond-moss-like hair.

At any rate, I did not finish my green skirt in time for St. Patrick's day. I did finish it today however, and am very glad to have it done. It is one of my first times using something other than quilters cotton for a skirt. I am not sure of the exact fiber content, but it hangs and drapes very prettily and is silky, rustly and has a gorgeous shimmer. The stripes are very subtle, tone-on-tone green.

The style was specifically designed to be flattering to Ladies With Large Hips. The yoke sits an inch or so below the naval and dips slightly down in the front to create a shallow curved area. This creates a pleasing line for those of us who are abundantly blessed in the hip region since it fits smoothly with no additional bulk. It also serves another purpose in that, being lined, it supports and shapes recently vacated belly bumps so as to supress be-jingling flesh and mass it together to create a firm illusion for this not so firm area.
The main skirt body is composed for four triangular skirt panels. I really love this look. I had copied it years ago from a thrift-store skirt that was worn out since I loved the style so much. It gives a bit of fullness and flair to the hem while retaining a smooth line at the hips and I like the way the skirt hangs where the seams fall. I have added this feature to many skirts I've made, since then.I finished off the bottom of the skirt with a 10" ruffle. The lace was a last minute addition as I was reviewing some thrift shop purchases yesterday and realized I had four yards of this lace. I asked David what he thought and he said it looked nice so I went with it. I don't usually put lace on skirts since when the lace is at the hem it tends to get dirty and frowsy looking very quickly. However, being inserted here above the ruffle will protect the lace and still add a feminine touch. The ruffle is 150" around the bottom. It took me watching most of Rooster Cogburn and The Lady last night to get it hemmed and gathered, but, at last, it is done!A bit late for St. Patricks Day but just exactly in time for spring!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting in the Green

A corned beef awaits the pot tomorrow, plus the traditional cabbage and carrots. A loaf of soda bread is to be baked this evening in preparation for St. Patrick's Day.
Malachi got into the green mood by lying on the green side of his quilt today. He enjoyed the bright color, and shared some space with me while I got out my mandolin and practiced Little Red Haired Boy. If I am very lucky, and stay up very late, I will even have a new green skirt to wear tomorrow. The fabric is a beautiful green-on-green shimmery stripe that right now is washing. Don't you hate it when you go to start a proejct, only to realize the fabric neatly stacked in your fabric bin has not been washed and dried yet? Grr. That was my lot today. And I had so carefully planned out this time to sew!

Oh well. I can practice Little Red Haired Boy more and work on an Irish accent to use tomorrow. And watch Rick Steve's Europe programs on Ireland and wish desperately that I was there.


Friday, March 6, 2009

My 1940's Boys

The rompers are finally done! They were actually done early this week but today was the first nice day I could dress the boys up in their new duds and take them out to get pictures of them wearing them. The thermometer topped off at 74 degrees this afternoon. Just gorgeous! But - oddly enough - I am relieved to know that later next week it will get back into the 40's again. I am not quite ready to let go of winter-time. Not quite yet.
The rompers were inspired by these 1940's era rompers from the Wisconsin Historical Society website:
The pattern was very easy to make since the original rompers are a very basic shape. It was easy to see how the pieces should look and I measured the boys to get the right size. Judah and David both wear the same size (2/3T) but I had to cut the trousers on Judah's outfit just a bit shorter, since he is an inch or so shorter than his brother.

To make them, I used two jumpers that a gentleman gave me last year, which he had got from cleaned-out inventory from the local Dollar Store. I am just not a jumper sort of person and I never would have worn them as is. The material was perfectly good though, and was just the thing to use for these little suits. I sewed all seams with french seams to finish off the inside.

The collars, sleeve bands and waistbands came from scraps, the red check from leftovers from a Civil War shirt I made David last year and the brown/blue plaid from a scrap bag my mother in law gave me last fall. I used the same brown/blue plaid to trim Judah's wool Civil War dress. The only monetary output for these were the appliques I put on the front. David got a little horse and Judah got sailboats.

And, of course, not to be left out, Malachi got a baby version.
I used the same basic shapes for his pattern but I changed the trousers to be wider at the waist, leaving me room to make a few little box pleats at the top, and I made the legs a little narrower at the ankle. I also made them open at the crutch seam for easy diaper access and sewed the top and trousers together at the waist.
His outfit was made from an old maternity ensemble that had long since been worn out and stained. I used the good parts of the fabric and made his top from a blue shirt and the trousers/sleeve bands/collar from an old skirt. His applique is a wee teddy bear. (in passing, I never knew how fun appliques could be. I've never used them before and now I'm thinking of all sorts of uses for them!) Here are some pictures of my darlings wearing their new clothes today, so you can see them "in action". :)

Here is David on the porch before we left for the park this afternoon. Bare feet and all. Glorious weather!

And wee Judah, exploring the woods around the playground we traveled to:

And Baby Malachi, wide-awake after a long after-lunch nap:

I'm working on getting the patterns tidied up so I can scan and post them here. Until then, be inspired by the Wisconsin Historical Society Children's Clothing Collection!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tiered Skirt

It has been so long since I've sewn any modern clothes. Last week I stumbled across Shannon's tutorial for a tiered skirt. Having some fabric on hand, I decided to make one. Thank you, Shannon, for such a wonderful tutorial! I really like the finished skirt. It has a nice amount of twirl yet takes only a modest amount of fabric. It was fun to make and took only an hour or two. I was agrieved at the amount of thread it took (to finish all the seams, and for all the rows of gathering stitches) but that is the price one must pay for a tiered skirt. Alas.

The only problem with this one is that I recycled some elastic from a thrift store skirt to use in the waist. Do Not Ever Recycle Elastic. As a result, it doesn't have a great deal of stretch and it sags below my waist yet above my hips and is prone to giving way to unattractive fleshly sights when a two year old or one year old tugs on it. Replacing this elastic is high on my priority list. Otherwise, it's a wonderful skirt style!

I didn't start on my 1840's dress quite yet. I have drawn so many sketches of it this past week but, unfortunately, started browsing the Children's Clothing Collection at the Wisconsin History website and inspiration struck when I came across a darling little 1940's era romper suit for a boy. So, for the past few days I've been working on rompers for the boys. It's going really slowly. I had hoped to have them finished by now but I still need to hem the bodice and make buttonholes for the button waistband. And add a hook and eye at the neck. And of course, I will have to alter the original pattern to make a wee baby set for Malachi! I'm thinking of eliminating the two-piece aspect of the rompers and using the basic shape to create one-piece rompers, with a snap crutch seam for easy diaper access. Here is what I have so far for the older children. Hopefully final pictures to come within the week! I'm getting bored with the 1940's and am eager to get safely back into the 1840's once more. I haven't had very much time for sewing beyond the odd hour or so in the afternoon when the boys nap lately. They've been keeping me quite busy! A few days ago they discovered the 25 lb. sugar sack in one of our cabinets and it is hard to keep them out of it. Little David likes to quietly get into and deposit quiet handfuls into a zippered cosmetic bag he acquired from the purse of his grandmother. Which lead to another problem I discovered over the weekend - ants in the boys room! Sugar deposits everywhere! A sweeping and scrubbing got rid of both - for now. Anyone know good ways to keep determined toddlers from opening a cabinet? Child safety locks last a few minutes at most!