Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Resembling Some Kind of Normal

It's been a few weeks since I have written here about daily life.  It's been so busy. As May has progressed and the state has continued to reopen things have settled and shifted into a fairly normal routine. At this point, late in May, life is not very much different than it was last May. As always, life begins to rush. . .there is always so much to do! Even if we are not going out as often as usual, there is a lot to keep us busy here at home. And we have had so many nice days to get out and explore our local nature areas!

Photo by Rosie

I am learning with a new camera so Rosie has adopted my old Canon powershot! She loves it!
Photo by Rosie

Photo by Rosie

Photo by Rosie

Photo by Rosie
We celebrated Mother's Day by going to a local nature preserve and hiking the 2 mile trail. The babies kept up wonderfully and we all enjoyed being outside and especially visiting the "secret" waterfall deep in the woods. Even though the Hocking Hills were still closed (and still are, I think. . . .) this very local spot was just as lovely! We will certainly be back.

May 1st was the start of our reopening, with dental and medical offices reopening, followed by business offices and then non-essential retail stores. Dr. Amy Acton extended our stay at home order until May 29th but last week Governor DeWine lifted it; although, of course, he strongly encourages everyone to continue to keep up with social distancing, wearing masks in public and, in general, being sensible and considerate of others.

So, today, if one were to go out in Ohio, one might be able to, for instance, get a hair cut, eat in at a restaurant, shop at the mall and go to the beach. Baseball is even going forward, although we will be following state guidelines and the season will be different than we are used to. No bleacher seating, players wear masks when not on the field, etc. But. . .WE ARE HAVING A BASEBALL SEASON. I am so happy for my boys.

After a long stretch of rain it's been hot and humid and perfect weather the last few. I painted my porch, got some plants in the garden and have been reorganizing my pantry. Malachi finishes up school on the 29th and it really feels like summer now. The big boys built an enormous fort out of tarps and scrap lumber in the backyard and the little ones spend hours each day playing in it and looking for toads in the garden. While Benjamin and Rose adore toads, Anne is terrified of them. Rose and Benjamin both enjoy bringing their favorite toads to show her and cackle gleefully when Anne lets out a shriek. Meanwhile, Anne has finally learned to ride her bike without training wheels and is riding everywhere now! Benjamin graduated kindergarten and his teacher came by to visit him and give him his certificate. Today kindergarten registration starts for the fall and Rose is eager to start in August! So far, the tentative plan is having two days at school/two days of distance learning when school resumes although, of course, things can change before August.

At Tar Hollow State Forest this past weekend

Seip Mound

Seip Mound
I am so busy each day that I fall into bed at night and am asleep almost instantly. It is a good time of year and I am so grateful for my many blessings. We are healthy, we have all we need, and life continues to go forward as we find our way into what our new normal will look like.

I took these Memorial Day night...yes, she is filthy after a day of playing outside
and strawberry ice cream sundaes 😂 but she was so proud of this particular toad.

She got a nice bath and a clean nightgown shortly after! 😂😍
At the cemetery, Memorial Day evening

Much love,

Saturday, May 16, 2020

My First Scroop Robin Dress!

Well, a few weeks ago Scroop patterns released a really gorgeous dress pattern. I had seen little teasers of it before then and had liked it but wasn't sure I was actually going to buy the pattern until it came out. It was on sale and the test dresses were just lovely so, despite thinking that I'd be unconsciously returning to the churchy ultra-modest styles of my childhood, I got it. I printed it out that very day and taped it together and cut out a dress with some fabric I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby last winter.

I've been wanting a nice everyday style dress for a while. Back in March or April (idk when? Sometime after quarantine started?) I made a copycat version of the Dottie Angel Frock from my Maya Top pattern and thought the style would be good for everday use. I had weird wrinkling on the upper chest though, so I never did make another copycat Dottie Angel. (I do, however, wear the one I did make!)

I probably thought about the "perfect" everyday dress way too much. I wanted something with a nice feminine shape but yet not fitted or tight anywhere. Something that would not require a bra. Something not too short that would require the use of under layers, yet not too long. I needed to be able to hike, mow the grass, carry laundry up a flight of stairs or down, and, perhaps too importantly, be able to drum and dance.

The Dottie Angel was a good candidate and I'm glad I tried that style, but it was, perhaps, too unfitted? That weird wrinkling at the upper chest still drives me nuts whenever I wear that dress. The ties give the dress some shape at the waist, but it's still sack-y. Which is totally fine, since that is the style it's meant to be, but it wasn't quite the thing for the elusive Perfect Everyday Dress.

The Robin Dress though! It IS the Perfect Everyday Dress. It has a lovely shape, yet is not tightly fitted. It has a wonderful full skirt that twirls and enables me to hike or run or jump or dance to my hearts content. It has pockets! It does, however, require the unhappy task of making many buttonholes for the full length button opening but that has forced me to try to get better at making machine made buttonholes. It is unlined, which makes it super lightweight and comfy and gives me an excuse to use my serger, which is always fun. The bias at the neckline and skirt hem gives me the opportunity to use up fun scraps and finishes off the edges beautifully. And it is a fast dress to sew - this one I made in 2 days, and my 2nd one (with sleeves!) took me 3 days, sewing on it a little each day.

I did make a few adjustments to the pattern. First, I shortened the waistline 1" since I am slightly short waisted. I probably didn't have to do this, looking at the finished garment, but it wasn't a bad idea to shorten it. I cut the size 34 with the medium bust pieces and had to refit the bodice area a little. While my measurements fit that size, I just. . .can't wear a bra anymore. So, my boobs hang low, guys. And this pattern is made for someone who has a higher, supported bustline. After stitching this dress together at the seams and trying it on I had to decide: wear a bra with it, or refit the bodice? Alyssa of Sewing Goatherd advised me to do the narrow upper chest adjustment that would give me the fit I wanted. I am so glad I took her advice! I ended up taking almost an inch out of each side of the upper chest and the same below the full bust point, tapering out to the regular width by the time I reached the pockets. The fit is just right now and I can happily wear it with no bra. 😂 I traced my alterations on the main pattern pieces and my next dress fit perfectly without any need of adjustments. (I will have photos and a post for that one, soon!)

Since I refitted the bodice after the pieces were already cut out, the armscyes were affected. I couldn't set in the sleeves I had cut so I decided to simply omit the sleeves and finished the armholes, cut slightly deeper, with bias in the same manner I finished the neckline and hem. The dress makes a great sleeveless gown but also works as a jumper dress over any kind of blouse. For these pictures, I'm wearing it with a pink polyester peasant blouse I got from the 10 cent rack at St. Vincents last summer.

it's blurry but hey! I'm happy. :D
I haven't liked a pattern so much for a long time! I'm so glad I got this one.

Much love,

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Girls Easter Dresses from Sense & Sensibility Patterns

Back in March when Covid-19 caused the schools to shutter almost overnight and we were all suddenly home for what we thought would just be a precautionary 3 week period I went out and stocked up on my pantry staples and a few weeks worth of meat and, also, some fabric. I thought Easter dresses would be a nice project to work on during those few weeks and help me focus on something other than the news.

I even bought some fabric for a regency dress for myself, and purchased, downloaded, printed and taped together the ladies regency dress pattern from Sense and Sensibility. I did not, however, end up making that one. I did make the girls their dresses, though, and they came out as lovely as always - this pattern produces one heck of an adorable mini regency dress! I have loved the results every time I've used it - many, many times over the years.

Easter has long since come and gone and it's time I properly blogged about these. I don't know when or if the girls will have a chance to wear these to a history event so for now they are everyday play dresses.

These are made almost as-is from the pattern. According to the size chart, Anne fell at size 8 and Rose at size 4 so I traced and cut both sizes. I decided to add some front gathering for the front bodices so placed the pattern piece a little bit away from the folded edge and for some extra width in the outer fabric layer. The lining was cut to be fitted, and the outer layer gathered down and attached to the lining. I did shorten the waistline on Rose's size 4 dress to achieve the proper high waisted look.

I lined the bodices fully with white cotton and added a built-in petticoat to the skirt portion, since the less layers a little girl needs to fuss with the better! (goes for adult people too. . .at least me. . .) These were mostly sewn on the machine with all visible stitching done by hand, just in case we ever use these for any reenactment type events. I did the hand stitching while watching a few episodes of Anne of Green Gables on Netflix (loved it!) and the evening before Easter, the dresses were finally done.

Half way through making these Anne declared she hated her dress. The reason? The particular hue of yellow. I had not taken her with me when I purchased the fabric impulsively from Wal-Mart during that just-before-lock-down shopping trip and she is very particular about her clothes right now. While Rosie loved her pink cotton, Anne didn't like the  yellow. But she did agree to wear the dress for Easter, for at least a little while, and once she got it filthy in the mud puddles she was quite happy with it!

It did take oxiclean to get those dresses clean but I feel that they were properly broken in and now can be worn for anything and anywhere. I used to be paranoid about the boys getting their reenacting clothes dirty when they were little. I spent so much time making their little outfits and stressed so much when they got them dirty! It's so much more freeing to be able to go with the flow and realize that some faded mud stains at the hem or mended areas just add to the awesome unique qualities of any homemade garment. Lived in clothes are so much more meaningful than pretty, perfect clothes! 😊 When I go through the kids clothes at the end of each season and decide what to keep and what to get rid of the clothes that hold the most memories are the ratty t-shirts the boys have worn to death all summer, or the much-patched rainbow leggings that were Anne's very favorite thing to wear, or the baseball jerseys that never quite came clean from the mud that night the boys played their game in the rain, or the shorts and shirts covered in paint splatters from David's many, many afternoons of sitting down with his paints and a fresh canvas.

I have lost all motivation and desire to make my own regency dress, because I probably honestly will never wear it. So I have 5 yards of a pretty white and grey cotton to decide what to do with. 😂 It's a hugely impractical color and print so who knows. I'll keep it in my stash. Thank God for the stash though. EVERYWHERE IS OUT OF FABRIC.

Much love,