Sunday, January 30, 2011


I did not have an opportunity to celebrate my 40th birthday last year - I was very sick with what my doctors told me was an unusual virus that aggressively attacked my inner ears, making it almost impossible for me to sit upright or walk. I spent my birthday in bed - I spent several months in bed. It was awful. I didn't even think about my birthday, then - I just wanted to be well so I could go back to work, so I could drive, so I could clean my own house!

As if to make up for last year's birthday that never was, my sister-in-law, Tonia, and our mutual friend, PJ, planned the perfect day for me! I had so much fun - I cannot remember having such a joyful birthday in many, many years. Not to say that my birthdays are disappointing! I have just never made a big deal of them - it has always been enough for me to watch chick flicks all day, scarf all the junk I want, and not cook for anyone - that's a sweet deal for me (and all I ask). So, you can imagine how delightful it was to have a day out with the girls - and to be spoiled rotten in the process!

The girls took me first to the Dublin Pub for lunch. Of course, I ordered the fish and chips and washed it down with a glass of beer! Tonia had the pub's very savory Guinness stew, and PJ ordered the Classic Boxty - I was the only one who cleaned her plate (and yes, I sampled their food, too!) because the other ladies chowed on some General Tso Chicken and potato wedges on the way to Dayton from Columbus - lol! 

And, don't you know the girls came bearing gifts! As if a scrumptious lunch and good female company wasn't enough!  The moment I opened the door, PJ presents me with these beautiful yellow roses (my only vase mysteriously disappeared, so I had to put them in a wine kraft); then, Tonia passes me a box with a silver and garnet heart pendant necklace inside; and, that wasn't all - Tonia knitted me a neck warmer, dish scrubby, and a dish towel!

After lunch, we headed to Hancock Fabrics in hopes of finding PJ the perfect burgundy colored fabric for her ball gown. One thing I like about Hancock Fabrics, in contrast to JoAnn's, is that Hancock's usually has a finer grade of special occasion fabrics at more reasonable prices - they market toward the more professional costumer and their fabric stock reflects this. To make my point, PJ found a very fine burgundy/red iridescent drapery fabric on clearance for $6 a yard. I wish I had a picture of it to post - it's simply lovely and the quality is excellent. PJ is delighted with it. Unfortunately, Hancock Fabrics has closed all of their stores in Columbus, and only one store remains open in Dayton (I imagine the Dayton store will not be closing down anytime soon - let's hope! - they do good business).

From Hancock's we trotted over to our favorite thrift store, and here, all of us hit the jackpot! Tonia found a 1930s White sewing machine in its original cabinet, with all the attachments, original warranty, and instruction booklet for $20! OMGoodness! (One thing I like about White is that their machines do not use a belt - they are gear/flywheel driven, so there is no issue with trying to find a replacement belt). PJ found two pairs of 1700-style mules for her costume, and I found my mom a Gibson's teapot (circa 1910) for $5 in beautiful condition! 

All of this shopping worked us up an appetite, and as we were pulling out of the thrift store there happened to be a Sonic across the way. Since PJ and I had never had Sonic, we opted to try it on Tonia's good review. Three burgers, three cheesy tater-tots, and three sodas later, we were stuffed to the freaking gills! Uuhhgg! Fat from dinner (and Lord knows everything else we ate) and happy with our purchases, we headed home! 

What a wonderful day! What a wonderful day! Oooo, and better yet, the beautiful husband is on vacation this week - I love having him home! It's wonderful to come in from work and have him here! I am so blessed - no doubt about it! Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

(*smacks self in head*) Better Mine Than Someone Else's

Look very carefully at the bodice back pictured to the left - see the mistake? See the big fat no-no? That's right! The fabric pattern is facing up on one half of the bodice back and facing down on the other. It goes to show you that even professionals (no matter how long they've been in the business) have an occasional oopsie. I am very thankful that this oopsie was on my own garment and not that of a customer's - whew! lol! What gets me is that this mistake is such a silly one - amateur stuff - we tailors are taught first thing to be mindful of the fabric's pattern or grain before cutting into it, period. Phooh!

I do have my new corset completely boned and ready for bias, but I am putting it off until I have finished my gown. I have already taken my measurements with the corset on (you can see the grommets are already inserted), so I am in no danger, of course, of creating an ill-fitted garment (remember to always have your undies made and fitted before making your gown - your gown's measurements should reflect your body's measurements while wearing your undergarments) - I just want to focus my attention on the gown's detail and getting it hashed out. Putting on bias tape is a brainless endeavor I can do over a pot of hot tea and a chick-flick on a Saturday, where as the gown detail requires my attention, obviously, after my little pattern directional blunder earlier this week - may the angels be with me! lol!

Despite my tailoring mishap, nothing could take away the sweet sensation of three delicious purchases I made - shoes! I admit that I am a shoe whore and that I have no desire to change my evil ways. As a penance, I have a rule: if I buy a new pair of shoes, I must give a pair away - indeed, I limit myself to 30 pairs for my darling husband's sake, with whom I share a closet. Needless to say, Elma (my buddy in Columbus) received a package last Saturday that contained a pair of black knee boots and a slinky pair of satin sandals. She would have ended up with a swanky set of dark brown knee boots in addition, but on closer inspection I realized there was no way I could pass them on to Elma - the leather was cracking and the heel was too worn, so in the trash they went. In the meantime, I am on the eternal hunt for the perfect pair of red pumps - and not just any red, but a deep red, and not just any heel, but the right heel (I'll know them the moment I see them, winking and beckoning me, of course)! 

Oooo, and my pear wine is nearly complete, too - I need to rack it once more before bottling it in mid-March. I am so looking forward to this year's batch, and I'll have plenty to share! Whoohoo!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy New Year - We're Having a Ball!

I started on a new corset. It's not that I didn't like the first one, it's just that my sister was a bit behind on her sewing for the upcoming Federal Ball in February; she does not have experience yet sewing a corset, so I thought I would give her a head start and pass the first one I started over to her. She only needs to finish the binding. I initially wanted to take the time to show her how to construct a corset, but time is precisely my problem - the holidays stole it all from me! lol! 

I drafted the second corset a couple weeks ago, and right now they are laying on my sewing table 2/3 boned - hopefully I will be able to finish the boning work by next weekend so I can get to sewing on the binding. Although it is not shown in the picture, there is a stomacher to this corset - progress photos will follow shortly.

Yesterday I took a couple hours out and constructed the skirt to my 1770s gown, which I am very pleased with. I haven't yet pinked and pleated the ruffling for the skirt hem - I'm actually worried I may not have enough fabric to do this - we will see how precisely I can cut the caraco first before I can say whether the skirt will have any trimming at all. One aspect that I like about the heavy brocade fabric I am using for my gown is that it not only has a good weight, but it's crisp and holds its form well. I had the skirt on the dummy last night and it looked super and had good movement. For me, a larger part of the beauty and appeal of any apparel , whether historical or modern, are the design and structural aesthetics; it's really very technical - the wrong fabric can destroy the aesthetic integrity of a garment, and this is no good! 

Anyway, thank heaven my daughter had her gown for the Federal Ball designed and constructed months ago. Last night, I took it from storage and had her try it on to ensure that everything still fit (it's always good to check), and it fits as it should! The kiddo decided she did not want a ball gown but rather a riding habit. I admit that when she told me the color scheme she desired - red, white and blue - I was a bit put off. Don't get me wrong, I'm as patriotic as any American, but she was not being patriotic at all - these were just the colors she liked and somehow I had to put them all together without her looking like the American flag! I was certain the color combo would look hokie, but once I began constructing the pieces, I felt better about it - it's actually cute. The point is, the kid loves her costume and she wears it beautifully! (For construction photos, please view The Dressmaker's Album)

As for the hubby's costume for the ball, I haven't even so much as drafted the pattern yet! I was going to put him in a periwinkle brocade - breeches, waist, and frock - but now I am rethinking this. I need to start draping the fabric and playing with some other color choices before I make up my mind - but whatever I choose, you can be sure I'll post it! I'm lucky just to get the man in knee breeches, so I really want to be thoughtful of what color(s) I put him in! lol! 

So, Cheers & Happy New Year - we're having a ball!