Thursday, June 28, 2012


~Herbs on their drying racks~
It is a smoking 103 degrees Fahrenheit in the great State of Ohio today, and not a blessed cloud in the sky. No real breeze to speak of either (as the forecast promised), but the humidity is only 38 percent. I suppose that's okay for Hell - lol!

I have spent most of the this week harvesting and drying herbs for the winter. Yesterday I prepared all the dried herbs (removing all the stems, etc.) and bagged them (there is nothing more relaxing and aromatically soothing than prepping herbs). The heat and lack of rain is scorching my spearmint. I watered my mint very well this morning and covered it with muslin to protect it from the blazing sun. Tomatoes are loving the heat, though!

~Lavender buds being removed from the stalks~

~A bowl of lavender buds - smells so good!~

~Lavender, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, and tarragon~

I did sew! I had some left over fabric from my 1940s dress and I made myself a dressy halter top from it - something a little hip for a summer evening out with the the beautiful hubs. I have in mind to wear the halter up with a pair of skinny jeans or a white pair of skinny capris, and a pair 3-4" strappy sandals. I love halters!

The next big costuming project is a Regency gown for this year's Regency Picnic in September. However, me, Tonia, and our motley crew of costuming kin are planning on attending Chillicothe During the War of 1812, being held at the beautiful Adena Mansion & Gardens July 21-22. We'd like to go in costume and I think I might like to make a Regency gown especially for it. We will see how ambitious I am feeling - lol! 

Blessings and happy sewing!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Retro Redo?

Butterick 5152
A couple of weeks ago I bought this fabulous black and white floral rayon print with the intention of making Butterick's 1940s wrap dress (for next years Ladies' Tipsy Tea), and that's exactly what I did (minus the shoulder pads - I still need to sew those in). 

Last night, I threw the dress on my dummy and it looked super. Then, I threw the dress on me, and I'm not sure it looks so good - lol! The dress fits well and it is comfortable, but there is a lot of print in that fabric and I'm afraid I've disappeared behind it (Where's Angie?). And, trying to get a flattering picture from the starkness of a digital photograph was quite challenging (I'm still not sure I succeeded here).

Anyway, what do you think? Is this a case of a retro redo? Same dress, another fabric?

Blessings and happy sewing!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lavender Festival 2012

Yesterday was my trip with the ladies to the Solstice Lavender Festival at Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm just south of Wilmington, Ohio. We ladies donned our homemade sundresses, packed up cutting shears and gloves, and a picnic lunch and headed out. While the festival was a small affair, the experience - to commune with friends and nature - was delightful. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, "research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled." And let me add to that that standing in the center of a lavender field is an olfactory and auditory sensation that one must personally experience - what a wonderful thing to be surrounded by the sent of soapy goodness, and a bit unnerving (for many, like my little nieces) to keep company with happy hordes of humming bees - lol!

Here are some pictorial highlights of the trip:

~My sister, Patty~

~Tonia and PJ~


~"Lavender Fields Forever"~

~Why do our picnics get rained out? Lol!~

 Blessings and happy sewing!
"The hills are alive with the sound of music..."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Scaling Patterns - The Lazy Dressmaker's Version

Up-sizing scaled patterns is not as difficult an endeavor as it is time consuming. When I first started up-sizing, I used the grid and radial methods (I certainly did not have access to a projector or any other industrial equipment), and eventually, for Victorian/Edwardian costuming, I mastered the Diamond Cutting System (which I still use).  But, there is a more time efficient method to up-sizing. It is not a new idea. However, for those dressmakers who never thought to do it, or for those who hadn't realized they needed no special program or equipment to up-size a scaled pattern, there is a very easy, step-by-step technique that can cut hours off of the process of pattern scaling simply by using your computer and a printer. Hallelujah!

 Step 1: Choose the pattern to be printed. Your pattern needs to be either a JPEG, GIF, or Tiff (photo) file. If it isn't all ready in one of these three formats, you can easily do this by scanning your pattern or taking a picture of it with a digital camera. If scanning or taking a digital photo directly from a book, watch for distorted edges, which ultimately distorts the pattern. When I have to scan a pattern or snap a digital image from my camera, rather than scanning or taking a picture of the image directly from the book, I trace the pattern onto an 8" x 11" sheet of paper so that the image lays perfectly flat, then scan it or take a digital photo.

~Selected pattern scanned in JPEG format~

Step 2: Select the pattern from your saved image files; right click on the image; choose "Open With..."; select "Paint". The image will immediately open in the "Paint" program:


Step 3: Once your pattern image has opened in "Paint", click on "File"; select and click on "Page Setup..."

Step 4: From here, the "Page Setup" window will pop-up. Note that the paper size is set for 8" x 11", the margins are set for 3/4 of an inch (you need this overlap to piece your pattern together), the orientation is for a portrait, and it is horizontally and vertically centered. For "Scaling", choose "Adjust to" and key in the percentage needed to increase your pattern to full size. For example, if your pattern is at a 1/8 scale, you will need to increase the pattern image by 800%; if your pattern image is at a 1/4 scale, you will need to increase it to 400%; 1/16 scale, 1600%, and et cetera. Once you have keyed in your percentage, click "Ok".

~My pattern is at a 1/8 scale; increased by 800% for normal size~

Step 5: Now, you need to check your image. Go to "File" and select "Print Preview"; scroll through the images to make sure that everything appears in good order. Then, click "Print". 

Step 6: The prints will be in order from left to right, from top to bottom. Begin laying them out on a large flat surface one by one, until your full size pattern is complete. I like to print a copy of my pattern to use as a guide as I am piecing everything together - it helps me with the visuals. 

~My printed copy for visual reference~

~Laying out the paper pieces one-by-one~

~Finished lay-out and time for taping~

Step 7: After the pieces are nicely laid out, I number each one (in case they get blown around - it makes putting them back in order easy), and trim and tape them together. What to do with those unused (blank) pieces (usually around the boarders of your full-size pattern)? Put them back into your printer's paper tray! 

~This pattern piece has been numbered "20"~

~What paper pieces remain blank, I return to my paper tray~

It seems that this method uses a lot of paper. Not really and no more than a full size pattern purchased from a theatrical pattern company, like Truly Victorian or Rocking Horse Farm. And, printing it this way is far cheaper than having it printed at Kinko's/FedEx ($.75 per sq. ft; copies only to 36" wide), Staples (a 36" x 48" engineer's copy is $5.95), or Office Depot ($.50 per sq. ft.; copies only to 24" wide). A ream of cheap paper at your favorite Big Box store costs around $4.00, and you can print approximately 8-10 full-size dress patterns (that averages to $.45 per pattern)! Not to mention the paper waste is minimal - blank sheets can be reused, where as with traditional patterns white space is wasted space destined for the trashcan once the pattern is cut. There is also the issue of ink, but if you set your printer to the "Fast Draft" or "Economy" print setting (depending on what printer you use), you will only use 30%-40% of the ink you would normally use on the printer's standard print setting.

I hope this little tutorial sets you on the quick path to constructing and donning your merry apparel rather than spending that precious time scaling patterns! 

Blessings and happy sewing!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Four (more) Antique Patterns and a Sundress

Oh, I've been a pattern hussy lately - lol! I have many wonderful vintage patterns from the 1940s and 1950s, but none from the 1920s and 1930s. So, I've been scouring the net and purchasing as I go. Aside from the two dress and three shirt patterns I purchased last week, I have three more '20 dress patterns on the way this week- I think I might start looking for undergarment, hat, and other accessory patterns, but these are far rarer and more expensive, as you would expect (and my thrifty nature forces me to consider every cent - oh, dear!). I'm pretty good at tracking down great deals, though. And, if I can't find something now, I certainly will later (there's new and wonderful bargains popping up everywhere, all the time)!

In the meantime, when I'm not trolling the net for goodies, I finished my little halter sundress for the Lavender Solstice Festival in two weeks. Imagine me, in my peachy-pink dress dancing around in a luscious field of lavender - it's better than The Sound of Music (not really, but it's a nice, if not amusing, thought) - lol! Here's my dress:

Blessings and happy sewing ("...and the hills are alive, with the sounds of music...")!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


This week has been a week for treasures! First of all, I am hosting a Great Gatsby Party come December (it's never too early to plan!), just in time for the new movie release around Christmas - here's a preview:

Of course, my niece, who's a junior in high school, promptly informed me and her mother that The Great Gatsby is the most boring book ever written in the creation of literature and it utterly assaulted her gag reflexes - lol! I promptly informed her she will most likely have to read it again in college, since Fitzgerald is one of the more pivotal writers of Jazz Age literature, so better enter college lit with a barf bag - haha! Besides, my niece hasn't read Robinson Crusoe (goodnight, Friday) or The Lord of the Rings (all 1300 pages, all the songs and sonnets, oh good grief!), yet...

In anticipation of this cinematic event,  I scoured the net and bought a few '1920s and '30's pattens - here's one of my favorite pattern purchases this week (the others are on their way!):

~1923 Pictorial Review suit pattern~

~The instructions to the pattern~

Yesterday was the St. Ann's Hill historical district's annual community yard sale, and since my sister is a resident of the district, not only do I get a sweet parking spot, I get a great shopping companion! My sister found a beautiful vintage style black and white polka-dot sundress, 12 matching wine and champaign glasses, two glass relish trays from the 1930s, and two long baskets with handles for lavender picking at the Lavender Solstice Festival in two weeks. I set out looking for vintage patterns, but found none (which is unusual), however, here are some other wonderful little treasures I found:

~Witchy/Vicky costume boots for Tonia - $1~

~Silk scarf from India, will make a wonderful Regency turban - $.50~

~Edwardian cut-work velvet shaw - $.50 (omgoodness!)~

~Art Deco inspired cotton print fabric, planned for a 1920s shirt - $2~

~Two mint seed pearl and satin handbags from the '40s-'50s - $10~

And, my favorite find, which I could not buy for my posterior's sake - lol!:

~The New Humber Commode, circa 1890-1900~

Ahh, but my most precious treasure? Well, she graduated from high school on Friday - congratulations to my beautiful Marie! 

Blessings and happy sewing!