Saturday, December 29, 2012

Beginning the Journey Into Vintage Patterns

I just finished tracing my first vintage pattern. I'm pretty sure it's a pattern my grandmother gave me many years ago (Butterick #9262)  It's early 1960s (the kind that still looks 50s). To maintain the original pattern, I have traced it on to brown paper as directed by one of the books I got for Christmas though I can't recall which one exactly (probably Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing). I will need to size it up about 2" (thankfully, me and my grandmother are not too far off in sizing because I think 2" is the max recommended scaling if I remember what I've read so far).
While looking for a pencil sharpener, I found 7 yards of very wide muslin in the top of my closet that I purchased a few years back to make a photography backdrop with and never did. This will be my stash of mock-up material as I learn to re-size and alter patterns!
 Now to give my back a rest from bending over my table and read more about what to do next. Of course I've already gotten distracted because this started with me tracing out the pattern for the Pencil Skirt from Gertie's book. I want to make the skirt tomorrow so it can me "something simple" challenge for The Historical Sew Fortnightly started by The Dreamstress. I think I'm going to sew my way through Gertie's book (kinda like Julie and Julia - which I'm currently watching), because everything is so cute and I would end up with an entire vintage wardrobe when I'm done
 I also spent 3 hours today re-arranging my crafting/sewing area to hopefully make it less cramped and more usable. I have come to the conclusions that I have way too much stuff for just using my dining room for a sewing room but since I only have a 1 bedroom apartment, I'm afraid it's just going to have to continue to be enough. I mean, who needs a dining room anyway?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hat-Wearing Etiquette... etc.

 Ever wondered about when it is and isn't OK to wear a hat? Check out this great article!

Went antiquing today, hoping to find 1) a fox fur muff, and 2) and hat to go with this dress:
Found it at a thrift store this summer for about $2.50 I think! Fantastic, right?

I bought it for our Roller Derby vs Kentucky Derby theme for this year's DooDah Parade (4th of July). I think it made a perfect Derby dress. Of course I had to make a hat to go with it to fit the theme....


 Finished ensemble:

Of course add skates and knee pads to this on a 90+ degree day and I ended up with heat exhaustion and almost passed out. Many thanks to our medic in helping me get cooled off and re-hydrated. So glad I was carrying a light change of clothes with me at the time. 

But now I feel the need to finish the outfit with a proper hat and gloves... and eventually shoes.

The only thing I found hat-wise today was the knowledge that my head is, for the most part, too big for vintage hats!

Antique Victorian hats though? .... Perfect! I, unfortunately, did not purchase this beauty today, but I will be going back for it!

And this gorgeous cape!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Historically Inspired Shoes

American Duchess is giving away a pair of her new shoes, the 23Skidoo. Now, while I have yet to venture into vintage sewing, if I were to win these shoes, I would of course have to make a dress to go with them. They're super cute!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween 2012 - Recap

Unfortunately, this year I did not blog along with the making of my Halloween costume. There was so much to do there just wasn't time. I took pictures when I remembered to so the recap should go fairly quickly.

These are the patterns I used. I bought them when they first came out, probably around the time Marie Antoinette staring Kirsten Dundst came out. They are now discontinued but you can still find them on eBay. I did not make the panniers on undergarments pattern because I knew that I would need to easily get in and out of car (I had to drive myself to 2 parties wearing it). I opted for pocket hoops because 1) they collapse for ease of maneuvering in crowds and through doorways, and 2) they are like purses that you don't have to carry. They have closed bottoms and slits in the top so you can access them through the dress which also has slits.  I did however start the entire project by making the tie on pockets from the pattern (I wasn't thinking clearly and was just excited about making pockets. I'm hoping to one day possibly embroider them).

Cutting the pattern out. Sookie is helping :)
The inspiration pieces with the fabric that I ended up choosing. I had originally had other fabric in mind but then I saw this and couldn't get it out of my head. Normally $9/yd, I waited for a 50% off coupon. I also decided to do the underskirt in a coordinating solid color that was cheaper to reduce some of the expense (I think one day I might splurge and redo the underskirt in matching fabric for a little more authentic). Neither the mask not the bird got worn with the dress and at the last minute I added a white plume tot he flower to add some extra pluminess!

Ruby does quality control on the fabric. I was not amused!
The most stressful part of the whole process... actually cutting the fabric. It took me so long to get to this point. I made everything else first that was made out of cheaper fabrics.

See... this is the sewing on of the ruffles of the chemise.
Lining going into the stays.
Lining is in!
The front side showing the boning channels. Still to do at this point: decorative trim over seams, binding, and grommets (I did decide to do grommets instead of hand stitched eyelets so that they would be more sturdy.)
This shows the chemise and stays in progress and is the only picture I took of the pockets. Also, the first necklace I purchased (it got lost at the first party I attended. I wonder how many necklaces Marie Antoinette lost because she got tipsy as a party and decided she was tired of wearing ... everything except her chemise?) The second necklace ended up being way awesomer!

See!!!!!! (And only cost $10!!!!!)
Skipping ahead 1 1/2 rolls of thread and ungodly amounts of time spent hand stitching trims....
See all the trim on the right side? It started out being pink like the right side. I had had this image in my head when I had purchased all the fabrics.... this image did not involve the pink trim making the dress look like a friggin' cupcake! Before I pulled off the trim on the right and started replacing is was when I made my plea to American Duchess. It went something along the lines of "Help! I think I hate it!" Then I found this on her Pintrest board and pulled off all the pink and redid all the trim (at this point I had already put a weekends work of work into the trim and was now looking at another weekend to change it all!)
I changed up the inside zig-zag by making it into larger poofs. I think eventually I will redo it to make it a little closer to the inspiration piece (a closer look of that)

Taking a break from the dress, I got inspired to work on my shoes.

I found them at the thrift store for about $5 (actually I think they may have been 50% off that day so I possibly only paid $2.50). They look like shoes someone bought to wear to a wedding and then never wore them again. They had the general shape was I was looking for. I know they not perfect for 18th century but they will just have to do until I can afford a pair of Devonshires. (Christmas is right around the corner. Hint! Hint! I wear a size 8.5 and they are on sale right now!)

3 DAYS!!!! 

It took me three days (OK nights) of shoving a needle through shoe leather with pliers to get these done. I broke 3 needles and strained a muscle in my arm!
I just kinda laid the fabric over the shoe and then started pinning it to the form of the shoe. The edge is turned under at the sole of the shoe so there wouldn't be any frayed edges.
  It was too hard to turn the edge on the inside and the shoes were already tight enough that I didn't want to risk them being unbearable.
 The only seam is at the heel. I did
Finished product with the gold trim I selected (again not authentic but it gave me the general look I was trying for and I had to have something to cover up all the stitching!). I ended up hot-gluing pink satin ribbon over the stitching on the inside of the shoes at the top because it was ugly and even though it would never been seen by anyone but me, it bugged me and had to be covered. (I can sleep well at night now.)

TheeeeeEEEeeen.... I splurged and bought clocked stockings from American Duchess!
Of course I had to have red heels!
Soooo long story short. I started on the project around March I think. There were times I went days, weeks, maybe a month without working on it but that's why I gave myself so much time, so I wasn't trying to make it in a matter of a few weeks. I was still stitching little fixes up until the night before the biggest party. (The first party ended up being a trial run and I had to redo the hem on the both the dress and the underskirt because they were way too long.
Stay tuned for the next entry on how all the pieces come together to form the overall look!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New job is great and I'm finally getting used to staying awake after I get home. The first month it was nap time as soon as I got home. It is a mentally exhausting job but I've learned a lot (that I never thought I would know.... or want to know.... like what luan is.). 

Since then, Halloween Costume 2012 (tm) has (slightly) commenced. 95% of the fabric has been purchased (just need the sleeve flounce fabric and glad I waiting because the book I'm reading now - The Secret Wife of Louis XIV - states that having pristine white clothing was a sign of wealth. I will make sure to get white white fabric), 85% of the boning for the  stays has been purchased (out of stock on 3 sizes), pockets are 99% done, pocket hoop pattern purchased (need to get all ingredients for these), sound a pair of shoes that I am going to cover to match the dress, and wig tutorials have been bookmarked. I look forward to really diving into this project when my current living situation gets back to just me in a couple of weeks. My biggest complaint..... not enough occasions to wear this once I am done. I wish there were costume groups here in Ohio like the ones I read about out on the west coast.

I also bought this Polonaise pattern when I bought my hoops and boning. Happy Tax Return Day for me! This will be my next project after Marie Antoinette is done. Aaaannnddd theeeeenn, I want to make either a riding habit or pierrot jacket/dress (either one can be seen here - last one on the top and first one on the bottom).

Stay tuned for more sewing excitement to come.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Job

So last month, January 23rd to be exact, I got laid off from job of almost 11 years. Sad but not entirely surprising due to the economy and such.  Today, February 23rd, I got a new job. A nice 4 week staycation ends next week when I become and Account Manager for Rite Rug in their corporate office. Room for growth. Actually evaluated for raises. Good benefits. Nice people. MONDAY THRU FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!! I no longer have to work weekends or holidays!!!! This was item #1 on my job search criteria.
Keeping this short and sweet since I have to get to bed soon so I can get on a bus at 8am to start a 13 hour bus ride to Minnesota to play 3 games of derby in a 24 hour time frame.
Now through when I get back from Minnesota I am offering 15% off anything in my Etsy store in celebration of the new job. Use coupon code "EMPLOYED" at checkout to receive your discount.''

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grandma's Biscuits

Another trip down Grandma Memory Lane

In case you haven't read the "Grandmother's Ambrosia" post, this is my Granny...
 Mattie Jeanette Turner

In my opinion, the worlds greatest cook. Please don't try to convince me otherwise because it is an argument you will not win! But that's not how she is in my memory, in the above photo she was attending the wedding of someone who cared enough about her to get a nice shot.

This is how I remember my Granny...

Sitting in her chair (usually hand quilting) and talking on the telephone. She could talk all day!

Now on to the good part!

Any time I stayed with my granny, Saturday and/or Sunday morning breakfast contained homemade biscuits (along with bacon, eggs and grits that she probably started cooking at 6am.... with breakfast around 9am). I "helped" her make biscuits once I was big enough to stand on a chair beside her at the counter (and there's picture proof that that one Christmas she moved things to the kitchen table so I could do the mixing).

She had a very large wooden bowl (which was probably supposed to be a salad bowl) that she kept her flour in (Martha White). It was covered with a dish towel and stored in the cabinet under the counter (flour replenished as needed. And, btw, the sugar was kept in an old LARD container. I want hat container one day. Flour bowl has already been given to my cousin Karen). So, every weekend the bowl would come out. She's make a well in the flour for the other ingredients. Add to to that a little hand scoop (dad describes it as about a 1/2 cup) of Crisco and some buttermilk (some is not defined) and start mixing (by hand), incorporating the flour as you go (use as much or as little as needed to get the right consistency). This is one of those "This is not an exact science" things. It was all by sight and feel. I think I could pull it off today even though she died in 1997 and it was many years before that that she was not able to cook anymore.

Once the dough came together she would put some flour down on the counter and roll out the dough (if you are cringing here you haven't read the post about her Ambrosia). Here's where there's a conflict of opinion, I say she used a coffee cup to cut the biscuits out. My aunt says she used something else. No matter, she probably used whatever was handy (and round).

Now comes the information that involved a "dad call" (see highlights). Put them on a greased cookie sheet (unless using a newer non-stick pan or a silicon mat) and bake at 450 for about until brown minutes (hehehe, I liked the way I had this written out in my notebook so I left it that way). On the top Rack (I didn't even think about that). Serve with the previously mentioned bacon, eggs and grits and sides of butter and preferably home made jam, jelly or preserves (see future post for Granny's Strawberry Fig Preserves that she made for her favorite granddaughter every year).

So, give it a try (or 10)!

Me and my Granny (with my Aunt Pat and Uncle Mike in the background).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Yes, I've been away again for a while. Halloween came and went with no contest wins for that wonderful Steampunk ensemble. I think the best thing I got was 2nd or 3rd place for Strawberry Shortcake. Thanksgiving came and went.

I made Grandma Davis Cake...
I didn't have enough of either flavor of jelly to "ice" the cake with so I did it half with Scupernog jelly (it's a southern thang) and half with homemade, sugar-free strawberry-fig preserves (it's a family thang.... except I prefer the full-sugar version). It was supposed to be 4 layers, but if I would have put the 4th layer on then the lid to the cake carried wouldn't have fit. I think only 2-3 pieces got eaten. It was very light. But, my friend who was carrying it back to the car when we left tripped and fell and the cake exploded (If I had known how much she had had to drink I would not have given her the cake to carry.... all that work lost to a front lawn).
It called for 2 cups of milk (I've never made a cake with milk). Dad said to use half and half..... so I did.
They barely fit into the oven!

All in all it was a fun experience to make a recipe that has been in my family for over 100 years!

Christmas came and went. Working in a store for a change kept me busy busy busy! Bought a new computer with my Christmas money. Everything runs so much faster and quieter now!!! New Years came and went.... I think I would have had more fun if I would have stayed home.

Then last week, the big ball dropped..... I got laid off! Nearly 11 years with a company and they say "Sorry, there's just no work right now." So, I've been job hunting for a week. Had 2 interviews last Friday. Turned down a second interview that was scheduled for today because I really can't see myself selling AT&T services (even to existing customers) for more than a couple weeks before wanting to jump off a bridge. I want to work with a repeat customer base week after week. I have come to realize that I really valued my regular customers and I will miss them all. So, yesterday and today I decided to really get my Etsy site updated in hopes of bringing in a little money in the mean time. So, when I get back from the gym tonight it will be an evening of photo editing and early morning Etsy posting. Can't sleep late tomorrow because I'm taking my first trip to a food pantry in the morning. Gotta save money wherever possible right now.

Here's what was listed on Etsy last night.
So check out my site if you see something you can't live without!