Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Last of the Me-Made-May Projects

I was determined to not only finish but also blog about the modern sewing projects I planned for Me Made May. I didn't get a ton of stuff made, but I did achieve my goal of making at least garment per week to replace a worn-out one and all the things I made are good basics that will be worn regularly. Yay! So for me that is a success.

I already blogged about my Maya dress that I made for Week 1 and that garment was my most challenging just due to the nature of the fabric I used. The other things are smaller and were quicker to make, especially since they were not made of poly crepe! ;) So I will just include all of them here in one blog post. Then, I can go into June with a clean slate!

It already looks, and feels, like summer here!

Me-Made-May Week 2: For this week I focused on fitting a pattern for a cropped t-shirt. While I like the tops I made from the loose fitting, swingy Plantain t-shirt pattern I like a more fitted t-shirt, too, and one that ends just above the waist is fantastic for warm weather. (Yes, I have a giant vertical c-section scar, but, it tells a story and I don't care if people see it!) ;) I started with the Plantain pattern as a base and fitted out the excess through the torso, shortened it to end around the level of my bottom rib and also narrowed the entire shirt by placing the fold line about 3/4" off the fold, eliminating about 1.5" of width across. There was also a rather nasty wrinkle angling from shoulder to armpit on all of the Plantains I've made so far. To get rid of that I shortened the shoulder seam by about 3/4" on the neckline edge and 1/4" on the edge of the shoulder edge (that doesn't make much sense, sorry!)

My first test I made up in a lovely heavy heathered grey and black knit with fantastic stretch and recovery. It was almost right, just being a tad tight in the armscyes (but not enough to keep me from wearing the finished shirt!)

The second one was made of a lighter weight black knit. UGH. This fabric was NOT good for this kind of shirt. It stretched and bagged out and became enormous and sloppy looking so I ended up taking it in twice after I initially made it. Now, it stays fairly fitted but the neckline is a little too low and the waist a little too high to be something I reach for very often. (It does work well over a fitted cami, though). I have yards of this black fabric left but whatever it becomes in the future, it will certainly be something UNfitted!

Me-Made-May Week 3: I had such a tiny window of time to make anything this week. It was the last week before school got out and I sat down at my machine one Friday afternoon and in a few hours had this skirt done. It's made from a stretchy woven I got at Wal Mart that was border printed on both selvedge edges with a fun, bright border. I didn't even bother with a pattern but made a basic rectangular peasant skirt with a deep ruffle utilizing the border print edges. To make it, I cut off both borders down the selvedges and seamed them into a big tube. One edge was hemmed the other gathered. The middle of the fabric was seamed together to form a tube 1/2 the width of the first one. The ruffle was gathered to fit it and the top of the skirt was finished off with a grey stretchy shirred waistband I recycled from a pair of old yoga pants. It was a little long so I took a big tuck in the skirt right above the ruffle and edged the tuck with some vintage off white scalloped trim from my stash. It's a comfortable, sturdy, non-wrinkling skirt and already has been worn so much!

Me-Made-May Week 4: This past week I was focusing mostly on getting stuff ready for our Memorial Day parade so I didn't have time to make anything for this last week of May until early this week. I bought this little remnant of fabric at Jo Anns a few weeks ago for less than $2. It wasn't much to work with, being barely over a 1/2 yard, but it was such a lovely fabric I had to figure out something to make with it! I thought it would make a pretty dress for Anne but she did not like the fabric and the print was too large to look well on Rose. After some thought I decided I would like to try to make a camisole and since the fabric is light, floaty and drapey a gathered front camisole would suit it best. I cut and measured and sewed til I had something that matched the idea in my head and I couldn't be happier with how it came out! 

I thought I was done for the month but yesterday I had time to alter a pink peasant blouse I got at Goodwill awhile ago. I didn't try it on before I bought it since it was a 99 cent deal, and when I got it home it was really an awkward fit with sleeves ending at the wristbone too short to look well, a length at the hem that fell at the lower hip, and an odd, high neckline gathered to wide, thick elastic. To save it, I cut off the neckline elastic, cut down the neckline to a more flattering shape and resewed it to thin, lightweight elastic. I shortened the sleeves a few inches and the awkward hem length was taken care of by turning it up a few times and gathering it into a waistband made of the original neckline elastic. I absolutely love this blouse now and it will go with many things I already have in my closet.

So that is my sewing this month! Except for the silk bonnet I made for our parade, but I will let that have its own post when I have some time to blog again. Have a lovely June, dears!


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hats for Decoration Day

My only historic sewing projects this month are also my contributions to May's theme for the HSM; "Specific to a Time of Day or Year". For this challenge, the project had to be something that wasn't a year-round kind of garment but, for instance, one that was worn seasonally.

I really don't do many events that require a specific garment like that. I did have a few ideas for this month but due to time limitations I had to save them for later on when I'm less busy. 1. A summer sheer with a half high lining made of sheer grey and white plaid cotton 2. A silk dancing dress made with the length of blue-green silk I've had saved for soooo long now! 3. A black wool dress appropriate for mourning (specific to a social custom, though could otherwise be worn as normal daywear). 
I'll need to take a tuck in Rose's petticoat before our next event.
This was her first time wearing a hoop skirt and she was thrilled!
But the petticoat is a bit long for the dress Benjamin passed down to her. :)

Since none of those could realistically materialize, I at least wanted to make time to make hats for the girls. Straw hats! They each have a sunbonnet but in the hot, humid weather we typically experience in spring and summer and into the fall, a sunbonnet can sometimes be too heavy. Sheer sunbonnets are always an option but do not provide so much protection from sunburn. 

I didn't have much money to spend on these admittedly superfluous projects but I got two $1 paper straw hats from the dollar tree and had enough scraps in my bin to decorate them and at least try to get something that looked passable for the upcoming Memorial Day parade and cemetery service we participated in as part of the historic society. 

The paper straw hats are cheap and floppy; not great candidates for a remake but well, it's what I had. They were far too large so I separated the brim from the crown on each one and made both quite a bit shorter. I then sewed them back together, soaked them and shaped them with a lot of starch and then wired the brims. I lined inside the crowns with lightweight cotton leftover from my round gown I made for the recent rendezvous (and additionally lined Rose's with pleated ribbon, to make the size a little smaller) and bound the edges to cover up the wire. After that I had just had to sew on a band and decorations to cover the seam between the crown and brim. 

A last minute addition were some narrow twill tape ties to help keep the hats on. Since my girls have 4 brothers, they are definitely not demure and ladylike! ;) They are loud, jumping, running, yelling little girls so ties were necessary. 

We ended up with two very serviceable hats! They worked very well for our parade and service and I was extra grateful for the shady brims to keep their faces and necks somewhat protected from the sun, since we were out on a really hot day in full sun, with no shade anywhere to take refuge in. 

It was a very wonderful honor to be able to come together with other local groups to honor those we lost in service of their country. I am so grateful for the opportunity and so glad my children were able to see what a solemn, somber day it is. 

For the HSM information: 

What the Item Is: Straw Hats
Material: Paper straw hats, scraps of cotton and silk for lining and binding, silk flowers for decoration
Pattern: None, inspired by images of hats from the mid-19th century
Year: Early to mid 1860's
Notions: Wire
How historically accurate is it: The shape is ok and the overall look is ok, but hat bases are not, the construction is not. I'd say maybe 50%
Hours to complete: A few here and there. Maybe 4-6 all together.
First worn: Sunday, May 27th 
Total cost: $2 and scraps :) 


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Swirly Skirted Swimsuit

May is almost over - already. And school is out! I am looking forward to a great summer with the kids although I know it will be crazy busy and exhausting. A year from this summer little Benjamin will start kindergarten and in two years little Rose will be the last one to go. They grow up too fast and I am determined to enjoy and cherish each minute I get with my little ones - so soon these crazy days will be memories.

Anne graduated from kindergarten! 
Spring was very late to arrive this year but once it did, it certainly did! Summer was fast on its heels and already the days have been humid and hot. Early this month I had to take the little ones to the city for Anne to get an eye check up and on our way back we stopped at the beach to eat our lunch and, of course, it was inevitable that they all just had to get in the water!

We went to the beach several more times after that and as I dug out the boxes of summer clothes and went through them, it was discovered that Rose did not have a swimming suit. I felt horrible!

Then I realized I had a little material left that seemed swim suit appropriate. This is the fabric I had bought to line the hood and pockets of my Otari Hoodie but I ended up not using it for the hood lining. I did use some of it to make myself a test swim suit and there was a little, tiny bit left. I wasn't sure if it would be enough for a toddler-size suit but well, why not try?

I found this adorable free pattern at Life Sew Savory and quickly printed it and got to work. In a few hours, it was done and Rose was anxious to try it on! She had sat on my lap as we sewed it, "helping" to guide the fabric beneath the needle. It took her a while to decide which color elastic to use for the straps but at last she settled on blue.

It was a perfect fit! In all ways! The pattern perfectly fit onto the fabric I had left and the swim suit perfectly fit my little water baby. Since we made it she has worn it nearly every day, either at the beach or here at home in the little wading pool we have on the deck. The fabric is holding up fabulously and there's no reason to expect it won't last the whole summer. I want to make more of these suits though; they are so fast and so cute it is almost instant gratification! I think it would be fun to size it up a little and make one for Anne. The swirly little skirt is just adorable. :)

And so is Rose!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Maya Top Maxi Dress

On my social media, anyway, May is THE month for celebrating homemade wardrobes. The last few years I've wanted to join in but with my focus mostly on historic clothing I didn't have much to contribute. This year I decided that I will participate, although in a small way. While I don't have homemade outfits to wear every day I decided to challenge myself to make at least one garment a week to replace something worn out in my current wardrobe. I have sort of run out of sewing momentum and so this is a nice way to keep me productive and focused. (Except for this week. This week has been totally crazy busy!)

The first week of May spring became very summer-like all of a sudden and light clothing became very much needed. I had a favorite summer sundress that has seen many better days. I got this from a thrift store a while ago and have worn it nearly to death the past few summers. I loved it because of the colors, the print, the fact that it doesn't wrinkle and it's floaty and comfortable to wear.
From last summer - I loved wearing this dress!
The last time I wore this dress the thin shoulder straps pulled off yet again and the fabric on the top was fraying more where they needed to be sewn back on. The straps were adjustable with plastic rings and those snapped off on one side. Not to mention, the dress was too large when I bought it and I took it in hastily with uneven darts at each side seam. It was time to retire this favorite dress and make something like it, but better!

I had purchased the Maya Top pattern earlier this year and had bought a length of border printed poly crepe from Wal Mart for a maxi dress. I decided to combine the two to make a great sundress that would be good for the rest of spring, all summer, and into the fall.

The Maya Top has only two main pattern pieces, the front and back. The sleeves are cut on, which is a fantastic feature, the from the shoulders down the garment is not fitted but has a great drape. I had just enough fabric to lengthen the Maya top into a maxi dress, continuing the angle of the side seam down to my desired hem length, but I did cut the back in two pieces instead of one with a seam at center back due to layout on my fabric.

The fabric was pretty horrible to cut. It moved, wiggled, stretched and shrank and was altogether a pain while trying to cut it out. It was a little easier to work with when it came to sewing together. To keep everything tidy, I sewed the shoulder and side seams with french seams. The hem was finished with a narrow hem and the sleeve hems with some cotton crochet lace. I added a visible facing out of the last of the blue linen left from Benjamin's Boone Frock and edged the facing with the same lace. Instead of facing the neckline I bound it with self fabric and added black ribbon ties to close it.

I added self fabric belt ties at the bottom of the facing to give a little
waist definition. 
It has the same loose, floaty feeling of my old dress and the same non-wrinkling, sheer kind of fabric, the same kinds of colors. A plus: No tiny shoulder straps! I like the coverage of full shoulders much better. No visible bra straps! ;)

I still couldn't bear to part completely with my old dress so I cut off the skirt panels and decided to make them into a kaftan-style top. It can be used as a swimsuit cover up, or, as I have been wearing it lately, as a summerweight cardigan over sleeveless dresses. I'm so glad I found a use for this pretty fabric! I even reused those horrid shoulder straps for the front ties. :)

So, for Me Made May Week 1: A Maya Maxi Dress!


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Arenite Pants #2

Wow, look, two blog posts in a week! I'm stealing a quick break this afternoon to blog another April project. The two littlest had doctor check ups this morning (all perfect they said! See ya in a year!) and they played hard in the pool on the deck this afternoon. Now, it looks like rain and I have a few minutes before the bus comes to drop off Anne.

These were my second pair of pants from the Arenite pattern and I decided to go up two sizes for a baggier fit. I also added 1.5" in length (I think? I can't remember. . .) and did not add on the wide 2" cuff at the ankle. Instead, I used a 1/2" piece of elastic for a looser, harem-pant style ankle.

The fabric is one of those wonderful and mysterious bargain fabrics from Wal Mart. This slate blue fabric was $2 a yard and has a wonderful drape, a cool feel and a nubbly woven texture.

It made up into a gorgeous pair of informal trousers, but oh man. It was a pain to sew. And it really shouldn't have been, either! It was a series of stupid mistakes on my part but it seemed every single little thing gave me trouble. Trimming the seams for felling? I cut a long sliver out of the pant leg. Oh, and that was after I sewed the pockets in backwards and then realized I had cut 3 fronts and 1 back instead of 2 of each!

At last they were finished though and I was never so glad to see the end of a project. Since then I have worn these a lot and every time I put them on I think, why don't I wear these every day?!
Getting into Warrior 2. It's cheesy :D Sorry. ;)
They are loose (maybe a bit too loose in the waist, next time I'll make the elastic an inch or so shorter!) and cool and I can do anything in these. Even yoga! Now I have 2 of these pants and really no need for more, but I still want to make more. In the meantime though, I'm glad to have these as much-needed and much-used-already staples in  my wardrobe!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Photos from April Rendezvous

Before I let more time pass and totally forget to do so, I thought I'd post some more photos of everyone from the rendezvous last weekend! (There's a lot. I couldn't decide on just a few to post!) I don't have time to write a lot of commentary, but there are some descriptions in the photo captions. We had a lovely time and I am so glad we had the opportunity to attend. A rendezvous is certainly a very different "flavor" of event than a Civil War reenactment but just as enjoyable and perhaps far more relaxing due to the wide range of periods and impressions portrayed.

The girls and I before leaving home! We are all wearing a version of the
drawstring dress, and Anne's natural curly hair was easy to put up in a regency
hairstyle. She was so happy with this since for 1860's events she requires far more
combing and hair conditioning to get her hair to lay relatively smooth. 

Crystal rock candy was a huge hit with the girls. Purple
for Anne!

And pink for Rosie! Here, she is watching the All Nations group
dance and sing. 

Judah bought an arrowhead. When we got home, he wrapped it and made it into a

You can't see it, but Anne bought a pink rock and was
showing it to me. 

The All Nations group that drummed, sang and danced. 

The dancing was very enjoyable to watch and generous invitations to participate were
extended to all of us around the circle. Rosie desperately wanted to dance
so I took her out, where she promptly became very shy and stood frozen to the ground
while the rest of us danced around her.

Up at the kids activity area, Judah and Malachi were busy working on some art. 

Malachi's punched metal picture!

Talking to the tradespeople.

Benjamin was 2 days away from turning 4 years old and had some birthday money
from his great grandparents to spend. He quickly decided on this wooden
double-barrel shotgun. 

Malachi made some new friends. I wish we all could make friends so quickly and easily!

Anne made punched metal art for the first time and was very
proud of her star!

Her dress is like the Boone Frock I made her a few springs ago,
but with a tuck taken at waist level all around for a drawstring to go through.
She was very unhappy about having a green dress but once we got to the event
she decided she really liked it. I wish I had had enough fabric to make it longer but
even at a shorter length the dress still looked nice. It was nice to finally use up
this fabric that has been sitting in my stash since probably before she was born!

The drawstrings for the waist emerge at center back and tie to pull up the fullness
around the waist. She wore her 1860's chemise and drawers under it. 

We walked a little ways into the woods and looked for fossils in the dry creek bed.
I love this photo! But how did Anne get so tall?! 

One of the camps. Someday, when we aren't busy every weekend with baseball, I'd
love to camp at this event with the kids. It's such a beautiful spot!

There were dandelions everywhere and Rosie wasn't letting any of them go to waste!

The boys were drawn to the ax throwing activity. All 3 older boys
threw and so did Anne!

Anne showing off her fossil collection. 

This kid is a natural at almost all period style activities. He threw and got it
on the paper on his first try!

And meanwhile Rosie was obsessed with dandelions. . .I love
this picture of her. Her gown is made of the leftover pink dotted swiss
I used for the girls 1860s dresses last spring. I had just enough for this dress and the fabric
was perfect for the style, and both fabric and style perfect for Rose! I made elbow length sleeves
for her, instead of short puffed ones like I made for Anne. Hopefully this dress will still fit next year.
And then, I will lay it away with a few other treasured gowns to save for the girls and maybe, if I'm very lucky,
future granddaughters who may enjoy dressing up in historical styles from time to time.
Pink cheeks!
And itty bitty black slippers. :) 

David never could quite hit the target but he sure had fun trying!


Anne in line to throw! She surprised me by wanting to try. 

Benjamin wanted to throw, too, but he is still too little. :) 

And here she goes! A huge thank you to the lovely young lady who instructed Anne
and was so patient with her. 

Being unable to throw an ax, Benjamin decided to look for worms. 

His dress is made from a blue linen blouse I've saved the past
few years. I always meant to remake the blouse, which was far too large for me,
since the material is so nice. I never did remake it though, and it was a good
candidate for Benjamins Boone Frock. It is a little short, but paired
with his 1860s trousers makes a passable look for early 19th century. 

I love how the trees are finally flowering. :)