Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Yanta Overalls in Red Denim

As I look back over my sewing experiences last year I find that I mostly focused on everyday, modern clothing. Each year seems to fall into a sort of theme and I guess the theme of 2020 was machine-sewn, everyday, vintage inspired. The vintage inspired bit is from a lot of the patterns I used or took inspiration from, mainly from the 60's, 70's and 80's. 

Since there were no living history opportunities in 2020 I did not feel pressured or rushed to make historic clothing for any of us. The few things I did make - my 1890's undergarments and my 1860's wrapper - were fun and slow paced. 

I used my sewing machine almost exclusively, trying with each new project to stitch them well and sturdily. While hand sewing has its place, as I get older the carpel tunnel that began with my last few pregnancies has gotten more easily irritated and I can only do so much hand stitching without needing to take a break. I used my serger a lot more, but not as enthusiastically as I did when I first got it. I find that for most woven garments I prefer french seams or felled seams if there is no lining. Serging is great for finishing seams on knits, however. I also used the serger extensively for mask making. (I sewed up a fresh batch of masks for the 3 littlest just last night and it was fun using the serger again!) 

In May I turned 34 and as a present to myself I got the Yanta overalls pattern from Helen's Closet.  This was purely impulse because at that time the sewing community on Instagram was having their #memademay challenge and so many people were sharing their Yantas. I loved them! And had to make some for myself.

I used some light red (pink? Not quite. Light cranberry?) denim I had in my stash and quickly cut out and sewed my very own overalls. I immediately wore them but as we were going into June by that time and it was very hot I didn't really wear them again  until fall and cooler temperatures came back. It was a hot summer.

The sizing is meant to be rather loose and baggy but I wanted a more fitted look so I went down a few sizes. The finished overalls fit me just how I wanted them to but then when I washed them they seemed to shrink a bit (I did prewash my denim, so I'm not sure what happened!) Now there is the very slightest wedgie feeling in the bum and they are just a tad snug when pulling them on over my hips but after wearing them awhile the fabric seems to relax and stretch out a bit and they fit as they should. 

Next time, though, I think I'll go back up one size and make them in linen for a looser, airy garment that can be worn more in hot weather. 

The instructions were beautifully clear and precise and I love how professional the topstitching looks on these! 

The only thing I don't really like about overalls is having to take them down every time I need to go to the bathroom. Oh well, there really is no help for that! It does make these overalls a less-reached-for wardrobe staple but I love these for hiking in the woods and days that I am mostly outside. 

I have such happy memories of the day most of these pictures were taken. It was just a few weeks into autumn and the day began cool but warmed up as the hours passed. That was the day I first foraged oyster mushrooms. After a few hours of looking and finding none we came across a huge fallen log on top of a hill and it was simply covered in rows of frilly white mushrooms! They were soooooo good! I can't wait to get back out and look for more! We also found pawpaws that day. I think I still have some of the pulp in the freezer. 

Hope you all are staying warm and staying healthy! It snowed here yesterday and we had freezing rain but today it's much warmer with the damp smell of earth and damp fog and it just feels so happy and hopeful that spring is not so far away. 

Much love,


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Lace Flower Girl Dresses for Anne and Rose

 Wow, it's been almost a year since I started making these dresses! These were two of the first projects I started last year and although 2020 was difficult, having my sisters wedding to look forward to the first half of the year and to look back on the second half certainly made the year memorable for all the right reasons!

Anne and Rose asked/were asked (not sure what happened first 😂) to be flower girls when my sister and her then-fiance, John, came to visit us last Christmas. My sister was pretty open to the design of the dresses. She sent me some pictures of what she thought were cute and the styles seemed to all fit the same theme of fitted bodice, slight empire waist, full skirt and sleeveless. 

I had an old pattern (I think a Simplicity?) that I used for the bodices and the skirts and sleeves were my own design. I wasn't going to add sleeves at first but the dresses felt more complete with the sleeves so we added them. 

Sewing for 2 very different sized girls is interesting when you want the dresses to look just alike. I couldn't use the bodice patterns in their respective sizes as-is since the proportions also had to be right. I had to alter waistlines, necklines, skirt width and sleeve length and width all proportionally. It was just challenging enough to make it fun without it also being a headache. 

I actually found the ivory lace at Wal Mart and bought all that was left on the bolt. It is a stretch lace but I flatlined the bodice and skirt with ivory satin and lined the entire dress with plain weave cotton. Lace and satin can be really uncomfortable on the skin, as I remember the scratchy and suffocating feelings I had when wearing my beautiful (but uncomfortable!) Fancy Dresses at Christmas and Easter when I was a little girl. Those late 80's and early 90's dresses were something else! 😂

Pre-wedding selfies on the ride to the venue!

To make the skirts have nice fullness I added a built in petticoat of netting sewn to the skirts between the lining and the satin flatlining. This was cut to be a little shorter than the cotton lining so no scratchy hems! 

Selfie Queen :D

The girls picked out a pretty beaded trim I sewed along the sleeve hems and the necklines. I added ribbon sashes and a cluster of sewn on white roses to the center of each sash, attaching it to the waistline. 
At the hotel before the wedding!

I had no idea what to do for shoes so a few weeks before the wedding I got the girls matching sandals. The day of the wedding they went to the brides house to do hair and makeup, although later at the venue I redid Rosie's hair since her hair is straight and slippery and kept wriggling out of the initial hair style.

I actually wore make up too, but I haven't worn it or earrings since then 😂

The girls looked adorable and I was so happy to have had the opportunity to sew these dresses for them. We have them hanging neatly in their closet but they haven't worn them again since the wedding. Maybe they can wear them for Easter if they still fit by then. I kind of doubt it, though. Both girls have grown at least one size and it seems Anne actually skipped over a size entirely! 


Much love,


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Folkwear 107 Afghan Nomad Dress

And so the year 2020 finally came to an end. We are now almost a week into 2021, which so far is different from 2020 in exactly zero ways but it at least feels new and clean and fresh and hopeful, which counts for something. 

As last year wound down I found myself falling into a very dark mental place. I don't know why because nothing outwardly changed but I felt increasing levels of anxiety and despair and after Christmas was an emotional wreck for at least a week. Maybe it's the build-up to Christmas, the incredible sheer amount of WORK that goes into making it a fun holiday with lots of food for the kids, maybe it's just letting myself breathe and letting all the pent up emotions of 2020 hit me at once. I don't know. I'm coming out of it now, a little, but it's hard. I'm just so exhausted in every single possible way. Winter is also a very hard season for me and it seems to get worse every year. 

On social media everyone has been posting their makes for 2020. I fitted in a few things in December that I have not blogged about. I made each child a new Christmas stocking, made Anne a Star Trek Voyager jacket and trousers to go with the tricorder and communicator she got for Christmas and for myself I made a special dress from Folkwear 107, the Afghan Nomad Dress

The Afghan Nomad Dress was pretty much a whim thing. I pulled out some fabrics one night and got inspired to make it and over the course of the next week I did just that! 

The dress is really simply cut, with a rectangle for the bodice, slightly shaped rectangular sleeves, underarm gussets that form part of the sleeve and part of the waistband, and rectangular panels sewn together for a skirt - a narrower skirt for the westernized version and a very, very full, heavy skirt for the authentic version. For my version I made the full skirt but deviated from the authentic design by putting the neckline slit in the front instead of in the back and cutting my sleeves as one piece with trim sewed on top instead of piecing the sleeves. 

While all the fabrics work fantastically together each one does have a lot of meaning. This dress feels like a wearable memory album. The purple velvet I used for the bodice came from my grandma after she passed away and was given to me along with some of her sewing notions. The purple velvet bodice is trimmed with gold metallic braid leftover from 1860's frock coat projects over the years and bands of fabric left over from my 1860's red wrapper, which I made in honor of my grandmother.(still gotta blog about that!) The yellow sleeves are left over fabric from the dress I made to wear to my sisters wedding, and all 3 fabrics used in the skirt (front skirt, back skirt and hem band) came from Windy's World, one of my favorite little shops ever that I have loved ever since moving to Ohio. I have so many happy memories of going there and browsing and buying fabric and antiques over the past almost-6 years! The trim on the sleeves is from one of my grandfather's shirts and one of my sons shirts that he long since outgrew. 

There are no fastenings on this dress. It slips on over the head and the bodice is very fitted across the bust so it stays in place pretty well with no waist ties. However, the weight of the skirt in the back tends to drag the dress towards the back - which makes me glad that I put the neck slit in the front, or else I'd feel like I am choking when I wear this dress. 

Despite the simplicity of cut there was a LOT of hand sewing in this dress. For one thing, velvet is hard to sew and I had to put that part together by hand, including sewing on the trim by hand. The binding around the neck was done by hand. The seams on the sleeves were felled by hand and the skirt was gathered and whipped to the bodice by hand. 

I love the finished dress and wore it the day of Winter Solstice. I have not worn it since but someday soon I will wear it again. It's a bit much to wear around the house (the skirt is absolutely enormous!) but I made it with drum circles in mind and soon it will be warm enough and hopefully safe enough to gather with friends for such activities. 

In a shorter length with a narrower skirt and maybe shorter sleeves I think this dress WOULD make a great everyday dress too. I will make it again sometime. I have a few pink fabrics that would combine into a pretty spring dress and SPRING WILL COME. Already the days are noticeably getting a bit longer. I choose to look forward with hope. Here are a few construction pictures. I didn't do a great job at documenting the sewing process but I have at least a few photos. 

Bodice put together. The velvet is flatlined with plain cotton.

Sleeves attached!

Detail of waistband and cartridge pleats on the skirt. 

Back bodice and back skirt. 

Much love,