Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Purple Hiking Dress with Pockets

Rose's second dress was recently finished, just in time for her to wear it for a hike. She only wore it once so far because summer returned! It seems more like late July out there than almost-mid September but that's ok - we will enjoy summer for as long as we can!

For this dress I had a 1 and 1/2 yard length to work with. This pretty purple cotton was on clearance for 3 dollars a yard so altogether this dress was very inexpensive to make. Rose chose the wrap dress pattern that we used for her Heart Day Heart Dress almost two years ago (and which still fits, although it's much shorter now!) and I used the sleeve pattern I made for her yellow dress but added some width to the sleeve for gathers at the shoulder.

I had plenty of fabric to work with so I made TWO pockets, the same pattern as the pocket on her yellow dress. The skirt is made of 3 panels that are gathered to the waist. This dress has unusual construction because I used a different method for almost everything - the bodice fronts and back (but not the neckline) were bag lined with cotton shirting repurposed from an outgrown 1860's toddler pinafore, then the sleeves were set into just the outer layer, and the linings at the armscyes turned under and slip stitched to the armscyce seam, covering all the seam allowances from the sleeves. The sleeve underarm seam and the skirt seams were french seamed. The skirts were sewn to the bodice outer layer and the lining turned under and slip stitched over the seam. Finally, the edges of the dress were bound with bias binding all around. The neckline, the skirt fronts and all around the hem. It may not have been the best way to make this dress but it is what made sense to me as I was making it.

It closes on both sides with wood buttons. I made a size 5 so she has a little room to grow. Hopefully this will work this year as a dress and next year as a tunic! But who knows with this child - she has been eating enormous amounts lately and is certainly gearing up for a growth spurt!

We had a lovely little walk (a hike to Rosie!) up and down a big hill at a forest preserve we love visiting. This particular place is also home to an ancient earthwork fortification built approximately 1500-2000 years ago. Rosie had fun looking for fungi, caterpillars and interesting rocks.

Next up is sewing her knits - leggings and, I think, long sleeved swingy t-shirt dresses. Then the Princess Aurora costume she has decided on for Halloween. The blue kind. She is adamant about that. Not pink. 

And *I* want to make a very early 1890's wash dress before Halloween. My mother sent me into shock earlier this week when she asked me if I wanted my great-great grandmother's sewing machine. Libby Edwards (I don't know her maiden name!) was born in 1899. Her son, my great-grandfather, born in 1918, died when my grandpa was a baby and Libby's sewing machine somehow passed into the possession of my great-Uncle Louie. According to the serial number, the sewing machine that belonged to her was made between 1890-1891. After I got over my shock of the offer and of the pictures my mom sent me, I ordered Marna Jean Davis' Kay's Housekeeping Dress pattern and am eager to sew it up. I am just going for the general look so I'm not making new undergarments (except a petticoat or two - 1890's skirts are vastly different than the rectangular paneled mid-century petticoats!) but I am So. Dang. Excited. 😁

Much love,

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Yellow Dress for Rose

I planned to get started on sewing up Rose's new material next week, but I've found a little bit of time this week to begin  at least one project. So, we picked out the yellow woven cotton and she looked through my patterns for one she liked and we got to work!

For everyday wear, woven mid weight cottons are less desirable for me than they were in the past. I really like knits now! They are soft and comfortable and don't bind or pull since they stretch with the movement of your body. On loose garments, knits can flow so prettily. Mid weight cotton wovens also tend to fade with much washing and drying in dryer. However, this yellow caught Rose's eye and she had to have it! It's a bit on the heavy side but it's made of pretty fine threads and is smooth and soft. Hopefully it will wear well as she puts it through regular rotation in her wardrobe. We will see!

Rose picked out a cute jumper pattern that was in a lot of patterns I was given last summer. I always thought it was cute but never made it. It's good we are using it now since it only goes up to a size 4 and Rose is currently in a pattern size 4. 
I modified the pattern to make it into a dress instead of a jumper. To do that I had to raise the neckline, raise the armscye and come up with a sleeve. I raised both the neckline and the armhole by eliminating the separate shoulder strap piece and extending the shoulders of the front and back up 1 and 1/4". It worked out almost perfectly! I did have to shave a little extra out of the bottom of the armscye to make it roomy enough for my preference but otherwise, this was a good fix. For the sleeve, I drafted a slightly gathered 3/4 sleeve that should be nice for slightly cooler days.

I had one moment of terror when I realized that the yellow fabric was only 1 yard in length. I had thought I bought a yard and a half but apparently not. By cutting the back in two pieces instead of 1 I was able to cut out the front,  back and two sleeves. Out of the tiny scraps leftover I had enough to make some bias binding for the sleeves and the neckline. There was just enough binding left over to make a tiny bow sewn to the front of the dress. And from my very, very last scrap I had juuuuust enough to make one gathered pocket. Because Rosie must have that! There is almost nothing left but a few tangled threads from the yardage! 

It's almost all machine sewn and all the seams are sewn with french seams, even the sleeve heads, which is only the second time I've done that. I like the clean inside finish and it should hold up well in the wash. The back of the dress closes with two fabric loops and buttons, but you can't see that in these pictures since Rosie's hair is in the way. 😊 (her desire is to grow her hair "as long as Rapunzel!")

The length is good, I think. It's long enough to be a dress on warmer days and short enough to be worn as a tunic on cooler ones. It's been pretty warm this week although the nights are cool and getting cooler. We went to the fair this week and by 7 we were already starting to get a little chilly! I strongly desire to crochet Rosie a little sweater but I promised myself I'd finish sewing her new clothes before starting any new crochet projects! 😂

Much love,

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Crocheted Belt

This is kinda really a pitiful project to post about, but I *did* finish it, and my oldest son said he could take a few pictures for me last night while dinner was cooking, so, for what it's worth, here is my measly bit of fiber related productivity for the month of August. 😂

Early in the month, before any of the weary things started to occur, I planned to attend an educational day at a local site where there would be drumming and dancing. I started this crocheted belt to wear but, as is prone to do, things happened and I ended up not being able to go. While I was sick I worked on it a bit, but after a few rows each day would need to put it up. At last, however, it was done.

I had a really clear idea of what I wanted this belt to look like but I had a hard time finding a pattern for a belt like this. In the end, I watched a lot of video tutorials on how to crochet ripple blankets and for my belt I worked two halves, each a mirror image of each other, using one repeat of a ripple blanket pattern. I sewed the two halves together at the center back and added ties to the front to close it. I used scraps of wool yarn leftover from 1860's knitting projects to make the belt. I had just enough of each color!

I meant the belt to fit snugly around a high waistline but it ended up coming out quite a bit bigger than I wanted. So, it's a hip or belly belt now. 😂 I don't mind though, since I have a number of  skirts I wear at hip level and this will go with most of them. The skirt I'm wearing here I actually just made at the end of last week. It's the simplest skirt ever, being just two rectangles french seamed at the sides with the selvedges used as the hem and the top gathered to an elasticized waistband, but I love it. I planned for a simple black skirt for awhile and I'm glad I made one. It's a heavier textured fabric that won't need ironing - a huge plus!

Rosie and I went to the city yesterday for an outpatient appointment and stopped at Hobby Lobby on our way back home. I don't stop there often, but when I do we *always* find fabric! Rosie picked out two pretty floral knits and two woven cottons to make a few new fall dresses and leggings. I am actually really excited about making these for her. Once this next week of school vacation is over, we will get started! Out of all the kids, she is the one who can actually  use some new clothes the most. Anne is so hard on her clothing that there aren't many hand-me-downs! 😂


Thursday, August 29, 2019


Another month. More, actually. Maybe this is how blogs end? Slowly, like the summer fading away and turning into autumn.
Some of our heirloom tomatoes this year. They ripened very late!
I really don't know how much I will blog here in the future. I don't know how much I will sew in the future. I still plan to, of course, but I haven't sewn anything since my last update, despite desire to and full intention. Of course, lack of time does influence my ability to get much done, that way.

Maybe I am just getting middle aged and moody but I have felt very down the past few years. I don't like mainstream American society, at least how it is presented on public platforms. I do know, and enjoy, many very down to earth, humble people who live simply and love fully. But the mainstream public representation? It sucks. It makes me absolutely depressed. It's a self centered, consumer oriented, disposable type of society. 

I hate that we live with so much and yet others in the world live with so little. That we can happily toss "old" food in the trash without a second thought while other people could make literal weeks worth of meals out of food waste. How people can buy clothes and throw them out because they don't like them anymore, or they go out of fashion, or simply because they have too many. I think of the people who made those clothes and who probably got paid next to nothing for doing it. My heart hurts. I'm sad. This world is bleeding out. Humanity is, anyway. And we are doing it to ourselves. The natural world, I think, will cycle round as she always does. She will survive. But us? I don't know. I think we are very close to the end.

Sewing for fun seems really. . .I don't know. . .nonuseful? To me now. I love creating, but when I already have all I need to wear or use, and my children have plenty of clothing, what is the purpose, really, of creating new garments? Just to say I made them? To take cute pictures and post them for likes? To use up fabric? And if so, why use it up if it's not time for it to be used yet? There are certainly so many things I COULD make, but I don't need to. I am perfectly content with what I already have. 

That's not to say I will never sew again. Of course I will! But probably only what I really need or could use, or maybe toys for the children, or Halloween costumes, or the odd historic outfit here and there. 
Most of my free time this month has been taken up this way. I'm close to being
done with my first year. I am glad I stopped putting this off. 
In short, I probably won't blog here as much as I used to. I do still plan to keep up posting on my other blog, since that is not sewing specific. :D And yes, I did not post at all over the summer there but I started up again last week and it was nice.

It's been a weary August. I am very tired now, as the month draws to an end. Between a very long mystery illness that both little Rose and I had (days of labs and teams of doctors could not figure it out!) ER visits and a hospital stay (thankfully we are home now!), the start of school and the loss of my Grandpa, I am so tired. I look forward to September so much, and the beginning of Fair Week this weekend. We will ride all the rides and sample the local goods and watch the tractor pulls and the boys will see how their 4-H projects fared and the children have the whole week of school off because of it. It will be a good autumn.

It is a gentle time of year.
Much love, my friends, and keep on, always,


Thursday, July 18, 2019

July Projects

Greetings my loves!

It's so, so HOT this week. You know what, I love it. I love summer. I think it's quickly becoming my favorite season. I still may prefer fall, just a bit, but dang  I love the green world and the hot, still air and the blue skies and white clouds because, I think, it makes me feel like moving more slowly, more deliberately, breathing more deeply and taking time to do whatever I'm doing well.

I have stayed outside far more than being indoors lately, so the past few weeks my crafting projects have been portable. I've brought them to baseball games, to 4-H judging day, trips to the park and the beach and have taken them out to work on when visiting with friends. I *did* find some really cute patterns that were on a free table during 4-H summer judging so I picked up a couple for the girls and one for me. I am looking forward to working with them soon.

In the meantime, I've been steadily working at learning crochet and have finished a couple of projects. My most recent one is this little crocheted vest, which is kind of based on the Easy Breezy Fringe Vest pattern from Bluemoonbytlc. I didn't use the kind of yarn called for in the pattern so I had to adjust the size based on my own size and the fact I was using size 5 yarn!

When I got this yarn I didn't have any idea at all about yarn weights or anything. I just thought it was a pretty color and it was on clearance for $1.50 so I bought it. I liked the feel of it. This is Bernet Home Dec in Woodberry. Anyway, I decided to use it for this vest because I thought it would look nice as a fringed vest. I don't have a lot of red items and my one red blouse is kind of cat-clawed beyond respectability. So a red top would be a welcome addition to my wardrobe!

This vest worked up very quickly as it is made in triple crochet. It definitely was a good learning experience and I liked the simple, repetitive pattern since it made me feel like I really was able to practice this stitch and get it down. It took me two days to crochet the back panel and the two fronts and to join them at the shoulders and underarms with a slip stitch. It was my first time using a crochet stitch to stitch two crocheted pieces together and I really liked learning how it was done! Crocheting shaped pieces was pretty cool. It was like making my own fabric before sewing it together!

However, I was nearly out of yarn by the time the main vest was done. I had only enough yarn left to make a few lengths of fringe - certainly not enough to go around the whole hem nicely. Dang! I went back to Wal Mart and they were out of this yarn - none to be found! After looking online I found I could order it but it was more than I was willing to pay. I was pretty disappointed but determined to finish this piece somehow. I ended up finding some beige stretch lace at WalMart and thought it would look pretty sewn around the edges. I sewed it on by hand with a loose ladder stitch so the vest is still stretchable. I wanted the front corners weighted down a bit so the garment would drape nicely so I used the bit of fringe I had to attach to the front opening. I threaded a wood bead on each strand to add a little more weight. This also doubles as a tie to close the front.

The bad things: The vest is big. It's shaped like a rectangle with slight shaping for the neckline but that's it. Otherwise it's very boxy. The weight of the garment and the front ties add a *little* shaping but not much. It's bulky. BUT.

The good: I like the bulky texture. I love the color, I love the softness of the yarn and I think this will be awesome to wear both in the summer over a little shirt or bandeau or in the fall over a peasant blouse or long sleeved t shirt. It goes with almost everything I have.

All in all I'd call this a successful project! I definitely will wear the finished item and I learned a lot by making it. I learned the triple crochet stitch, learned how to join pieces with a slip stitch and practiced blocking a finished project.

I really did not intend for this to become the Summer of Learning Crochet but it seems it's turning out that way! 😂 Here are a few other recently finished projects:

~ Crocheted Hair Net or Snood ~

Snood is almost a bad word to me just because I was/am involved in 1860's reenacting for so long and snoods were always whispered about because they were commonly sold in sutler tents and were worn over long, loose hair. Period accurate hairnets (NOT SNOODS!) are usually made of fine threads that match or closely match the hair, and worn over dressed hair. They may or may not have a decorative band of ruched or pleated ribbon/tassels/beads, etc.

ANYWAY, so, after 20 years (ohmygod) of such indoctrination it's hard to actually deal with my desire for, you know, wanting to make and wear a SNOOD. But this is totally for modern wear and stuffing long, loose hair into it is exactly the reason I wanted one. I don't like using hair ties or tight elastics on my hair since I'm trying to grow it all to one length after years and years of henna-ing and then bleaching and dyeing and cutting bangs of various lengths. Two years ago I stopped all of that and someday it will all be the same length. It's definitely much healthier than it used to be. Still, I don't like using hair ties on it. I generally don't do anything with it at all except condition it each day. Once in a while I'll use shampoo.

This snood was made using this pattern from ravelry. I don't know if I made it the right way or not but it came out useable so I'll use it. You can definitely see where I started each new round. I don't like that visibility but I really couldn't figure out any other way to build upon each round to start the new round. I made it in blue cotton/poly yarn.

I wanted to sew little daisies to the band part of the snood but couldn't find any small enough. I got a package of those tiny ribbon rosettes in the craft section and sewed those on. I love how it turned out!

My first big project was a shawl for my mom. I made this over the course of many evening baseball games. This shawl is based on My First Triangle Shawl from Winding Road Crochet and for the main portion of the shawl I used wool/acrylic yarn from Mandela in colorway Zeus. The colors reminded me so much of my mom that I had to get this yarn and make this for her! Her favorite color is purple and the blues, greys, green and soft yellows and browns remind me of where she grew up and where I spent my early childhood on the east coast, near the ocean. It came out smaller than I wanted so I added a deep border of purple which brought the size up to about 90" in length and 30" wide. It's meant to be more a blanket/throw to cuddle up in when watching tv or reading than an accessory (because I am absolutely sure my mom would *not* wear a shawl in public!)

My current project is a guitar strap for my guitar out of hemp string and green cotton yarn leftover from my halter top. It's about half done but I ran out of hemp so I need to pick up another ball of it next time I go out. I love how it's coming out, though!

I'm definitely getting the itch to sew again and actually have some 1860's trousers cut out and half assembled on my sewing table! After seeing all the gorgeous photos from JaneFest this past weekend I feel kind of like I want to go next year and am starting to become interested in regency fashions again. For now, though, I'll enjoy the slight interest and not rush to make things and burn myself out. Those cute little romper patterns for the girls that I got from the 4-H day would be perfect to start with, after my little break from sewing!

Much love,

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Little David in the Late 18th Century

Back in May I made my oldest son, David, an 18th century style shirt and a workmans cap, buttoned apron and a makeshift pair of pants. I signed him up (perhaps too eagerly!) for an 18th century blacksmith class at a historic site and in the few days I had between his registration and the class date I sewed as quick as I could.

Because I was on a time crunch the only items completely handsewn are the cap and the apron. The shirt has the interior seams machined with all visible stitching done by hand. I was lucky I had the perfect length of this lightweight blue and white striped cotton in my stash! Linen is preferable, of course, for both comfort and period accuracy, but I had to use what I already had. The cap is upcycled from a vintage linen pillowcase and the apron is lightweight cotton canvas. It ought to be linen, or, even better, leather, but like I said, I had to use what I had. And what was comfortable for David, who is still very sensitive to textures/weight/looseness of his clothing. His trousers are modern ones (yikes!) hemmed by hand. I told him they'd work for one day if he wore his shirt untucked so no one could see the waistband. Of course, now they've become his favorite pair of pants to wear! 😂

This entire outfit (if you can call it that!) is full of shortcuts and substitutes but David was extremely happy with it and wore it proudly as soon as it was done. Since then he has frequently worn it, too, because, he says, it makes him feel more like a real blacksmith. 😂

Four children and I loaded up early in the morning the day of the class and drove awhile to the site. Once we got there, however, disappointment struck! Poor David came up to me, his face crestfallen and white, telling me that he was turned away by the gentleman teaching the class because he was too young to take the class. I was heartbroken for him so we just came home, not even staying to look around at the vendors or other demonstrations taking place that day. We got ice cream on the way back so that, perhaps, was worth quite a long drive. 😁 Two days later we found a used, old anvil for a good price and we bought that as well as a blacksmith hammer. Still gotta figure out a forge and get some tongs. . .David keeps me well informed as to what items he needs. We are working on getting everything together and once we do, David and I are going to make some annular and penannular brooches using an awesome tutorial we found online. For those, we just need a torch, which we do have. 

The next day David decided to wear his outfit again in the towns Memorial Day parade. He walked proudly with neighbors and friends, representing the Revolutionary War era in honor of a Revolution vet buried at the cemetery where the parade ended and the memorial ceremony took place. 

I worked a bit on my own 18th century gown the day before we drove out to the historic site. I did not take any pictures, however but hopefully will the next time I have a chance to wear the dress. The bodice was a bit loose after I constructed it last summer and the bagginess below the bustline bothered me. I decided to take in the center front of the bodice by curving in the center front edges a bit below the bustline and taking a little width out. I also decided to put hooks on the dress to close it (even though that is much less common than using pins) so I sewed on twenty hooks and eyes on night at a baseball game. The dress fits much better now and I am vastly pleased with its improved appearance but once we came home from the event, I didn't have the heart to take photos before changing out of my outfit. 

For the girls, I made two white linen caps out of the remaining pillowcase once David's cap was sewn. They also were all hand sewn the day before the event. They didn't get a chance to wear them (I was going to dress them after we arrived) but they will fit for awhile and they can wear them some other time. Anne's dress still fits and for Rosie I put a tuck in the skirt of Benjamin's gown from last year. If we go to Blue Licks in August I will get some pictures then! 

I have twice considered dressing in 18th century attire and pilgriming to the little "old settlers" cemetery near here, not accessible by vehicle. In the end, though, both times I decided the effort was more than I was willing to do just then. Sometime soon though, perhaps, the girls and I will go. Summer is starting to slow down a little with baseball season nearly over and summer judging for 4-H over after this coming week and it's nice to just breathe a little and enjoy the moment and the green, humid, hot world. 

Much love,

Friday, June 28, 2019

A Yellow Peasant Blouse

This project is from at least a month ago but I had some pictures of it on my camera and figured I'd post about it, even if it is late. Man, it's almost the end of June and I think I've sewn absolutely nothing this month. Dang.

The kiddos and Judah and I celebrated the first day of summer
with a great walk through the woods, where we found lots of wildflowers, feathers,
and even saw a fawn looking at us from the brush!
The past few weeks I've been sick-ish, starting with a feeling of just general unwellness and tiredness and then turning into terrible back pain that turned out to be another kidney infection, probably caused by kidney stones. Not fun! I just finished my course of antibiotics and am feeling so much better. I've also made some changes to my way of eating the past month that, hopefully, will prevent me from getting sick like this again.

I've been following the ketogenic way of eating the past almost three years and it's been fantastic for me, at least until recently. But the past few months, well, I guess since the beginning of the year or thereabouts, I have been increasingly tired and feel foggy more and more. Every time I ate, I'd dread it since my stomach hurt so bad and I felt uncomfortably full after just a few bites. I was swollen and bloated and felt horrible. Mowing the lawn wiped me out. My workouts became more difficult and left me so exhausted. This isn't me. What the hell. And then, to top it off, I felt like I was in a constant state of PMS. (tmi sorry!) Everything hurt. Especially my boobs, which is one reason why I have pretty much given up wearing bras except for when social decency is absolutely required. 😂

After a lot of reading and evaluating what exactly I was doing or eating differently than usual I discovered that sometimes stevia can affect your hormone production and all the symptoms that were described fit me exactly. And I was using stevia A LOT. I decided to ditch it and now, a month or so out, all my symptoms are gone. I also decided that the super-low-carb-super-high-fat-moderate-protein way of eating may be causing my stomach pain every time I ate. I was craving fruits and vegetables and, above all, oddly, plain oatmeal. So, I decided to alter my macros a little so I'm having a little more carbs, a lot less fat and about the same amount of protein. And wow, I feel better. I feel like I can do more for a longer period of time. This is weird since when I started keto, I felt tons better. Maybe after awhile keto loses its affect? Or maybe my body just needed a few more good, natural carbs. I'm not eating bags of sugar (although I'm letting myself have a little in my coffee instead of using stevia!) but it's nice to have some fruit and more veggies that would otherwise be considered "bad". And to not be worried if I don't get enough fat.

Anyway, hopefully July will bring with it a little time to sew. I cleaned out my closet a month or so ago and got rid of almost everything I had that was not me-made. It surprised me to see how much I have that I have made myself and, compared to last year, surprised me to see how much I actually did accomplish over this last year. It is a good feeling and I am happy with what I have. I don't really need to make anything more but if I do, I can carefully make exactly what I want and not rely on whatever is on sale at Goodwill or at garage sales. It's a great feeling!

I've been researching tons about early period clothing and made a set of tablets to try tablet weaving whenever I get some time to do it. I'm super excited about it and although it will probably be awhile before I can make a historically accurate early period ensemble I want to hone my skills a little and get as much practice in as I can. From past experience, I know the first of anything is rarely great, so my first attempts will be for simple things I can use in modern day life instead of proper historical recreations. But it's so nice to feel a bit passionate about something sewing related again.

This post has almost absolutely nothing to do with the project pictures I've included 😂 but that's ok - the yellow blouse is the free pattern from Melly Sews and fits exactly right, which thrilled me. No altering necessary! I made it in a lightweight mystery fabric from Wal Mart that works well for summer, with an exterior facing trimmed in vintage lace. I love this blouse and wear it very often as it goes with almost everything I have in my closet.

This week summer has definitely arrived and the heat and high humidity require cool clothing!

Much love,