Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Regency Blouse...

Constructed from cotton voile, this Regency blouse will be worn under a navy blue linen jumper I have in the works:

Keep safe and warm! Blessings and happy sewing!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Coat...

My first project for 2015 - a coat! For this, I used a new Simplicity pattern by designer Leanne Marshall. I constructed my coat from a medium-weight Melton and lined in an electric blue satin; it closes in front by a brushed brass zipper and three large black snaps on the collar. 

The Coat: 

Treadle Yard Goods has a darling example of this pattern sewn from a double-sided wool with a leather clasp closure for the collar - give it a look! Keep your peepers open for a review of the pattern coming soon on my Simplicity pattern review page.

Blessings and happy sewing!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A New Year's Post, Part II: A Bit of Stitching

Hello, again! Here's that bit of sewing I managed to eek-out before year's end!  

The Cloak

Constructed from black crushed velvet (acetate/nylon blend) and burgundy satin; closed in front with a pewter clasp. The cloak now residing with its happy new owner...

The Coat

Constructed from a medium weight white cotton canvas and lined in a blue and white floral light weight satin. This coat was designed by my youngest daughter who wanted 1) a unique surface to paint on (she's an artist); 2) an extended neckline to accommodate the very wide, thick, and heavy scarves that are now in fashion...

Stay warm, stay safe, and stay in good spirits! Blessings and happy sewing! 


Friday, January 9, 2015

A New Year's Post, Part I: Filling in the Gap

My last post for 2014 was on October 10, and I imagine you are wondering what in the world could have kept me away for so long - three months, in fact? Allow me to share! 

I think for most people, autumn is the beginning of their "busy season", between shuffling kids off to school and after-school activities, year-end festivals and fairs, and the holidays. There's no shortage of things to do or to be done. In my family, there's also an unusually large percentage of relatives born between September-January, but particularity in the month of October. Every other week (or twice a week in October) is punctuated by cake and ice cream and a birthday dinner. Usually I manage all the festivities and "to dos" like a boss, but this year (well, last year, 2014) I had three big "to dos" which required my immediate and full attention as they cropped up, allowing me precious little time at the sewing table. Nothing bad, all tasks with good results!

First, there was this issue with the white wall-to-wall berber that covered our downstairs. We bought the house eleven years ago and the carpet was there then. The previous owners told us they had it installed in 1999. Since we have been in the house, the carpet has been cleaned three times a year. Honestly, there are only so many times you can clean a carpet and over so many years before you must replace the carpet, right? Well, I didn't want new carpet. I wanted wood floor. Conveniently, while we were having a new floor installed in the kitchen, the flooring contractor's apprentice slopped linoleum glue on the carpet in the foyer (he laid his dripping trowel in a very bad spot). The carpet had to go. BUT, before I ripped it out, I first used it as a drop cloth and repaired and painted all walls of the rooms downstairs. And let me tell you (those of you who have ripped up carpet before know what I'm talking about), Lord only knows what we could have discovered under that berber mess - I was expecting nothing less than a home improvement nightmare...

...but what I got was nothing short of GORGEOUS! Honey oak, fine hewn floors in very good condition - they just needed a bit love. The most difficult part of the project was stripping and sanding the staircase, but I was pleased to do it (I gained a few muscles in the process!). The project took me about three weeks to complete. 

~Oh, the suspense!~

~*gasp* - OMGosh!~

~Juno, supervising my work~

~Stairs, stripped, sanded, and shoeing replaced~

~Stairs, stained and polyurethaned~

~Living room, freshly painted walls and waxed floor~

~Dining room - look at that beautiful wood floor!~

About mid-October, one of my feral cats became very ill. Rufus (as we have named him) was having great difficulty eating or drinking anything, to the point he was visibly in pain. Because he couldn't take in water or nutrition, his state deteriorated quickly - he was emaciated, battered, almost flaccid - he could barely walk or meow and he smelled like death. During a family event, I collected donations for his treatment, which allowed me and Sydney to take him to the vet first thing the following morning...

~A very sick Rufus laying on Sydney's lap at the vet's~

I didn't think he was going to make it - both Sydney and I expected to have him euthanized. I had him tested for every sort of parasite, leukemia, and AIDS, all of which where NEGATIVE (even the vet was surprised)! While we could not have him tested for lupus ($$), after a thorough examination otherwise, it was determined that Rufus would live if treated with a heavy dose of antibiotics. The cause of his severe pain was due to the fact his mouth and throat where lined with pustules - pure stinking infection, much like strep-throat. He received an injection of a time-released antibiotic and I received a crash course on how to insert an IV and hydrate him (which I had to do everyday for a week). Rufus became a temporary resident in my garage - safe from the other cats and the elements - while he recovered. After the first day home, he began to eat; after a week, his health had remarkably improved...

~"Feed me...more."~

The afternoon Sydney and I brought him home from the vet it was immediately determined we had to find him a forever home. Unlike the other ferals who camp out in my back yard and are wild, Rufus is not - he's a sweet and gentle boy. He cowers when challenged by the other cats (I have to sit with him while he eats to keep the other felines away), he's very trusting with humans, and he loves pets, hugs, and laps - he simply has the sweetest disposition of any cat I've ever known. So it was that Rufus lived in my garage for a month while I nursed him back to health and Sydney sought out a permanent home for him. What a blessing it was that friends of Sydney's, the sweetest couple imaginable, wanted Rufus and adopted him. Fellow dressmakers, I am delighted to report that Rufus the cat has his very own set of humans - he is warm, he is safe, he is loved...

~Rufus and his human, Daisy~

Finally, and directly after Thanksgiving, I traveled by train to Maryland for a couple of weeks of extensive training regarding a new program under the Housing & Urban Development Office. Of course, I could have taken a sewing project on the trip, but instead opted out and decided to take nothing but two suitcases stuffed with clothes and shoes. Most days, I was too tired after work to do much of anything else but eat a light dinner, read, or watch the 25 Days of Christmas on TBS, all in the comfort of my bed; having "nothing more to do" was just what I needed - a mini vacation of sorts, where no one was served but me. I greatly enjoyed my time there...and room service, definitely that. Note: If you've never taken a train cross-country, I encourage you! While it's a slower and lazier way to travel, the scenic routes are a marvel to view!

~Leaving Harper's Ferry, WV, on to Maryland~

~Union Station in Washington, D.C.~

~My hotel room (I had a beautiful view!)~

~Traveling through Virginia on my way home - beautiful country!~

Ahh, but I did sew some before year's end - a couple of little projects I am eager to share. Until the next post, my dear friends, and... be continued. Blessings and happy sewing! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Year End Review

Blessings and Happy New Year! 

I love the month of January because it's always the promise of a new beginning, a fresh start, and an evaluation of how I've spent my time during the last year. January is also the month where I tackle one very large project (usually an UFO) which I have neglected throughout the previous year(s); January 2014's project was going through the vintage and antique patterns I had not yet copied over or stored correctly and getting them traced, restored, and safely put away. It felt wonderful to have it all done!

Late January and early February put me on the lecture circuit at Wright State University for the 2014 Women's Quilt Show and Women's Symposium - an incredible opportunity which allowed me to share the history of the American dressmaker, how the dressmaking profession offered Progressive Era American women a real chance at financial independence and an alternative to the Victorian middle-class idea of domesticity, and America's influence in the world of fashion and haute couture.

In March, I had the pleasure of meeting Jan Brady, costume manager for the Wayne County Museum in Richmond, Indiana, and her delightful and dedicated staff of volunteers. Here, it was my privilege to examine, alongside Sandra Ros Altman (proprietor of Past Patterns), twelve extant garments ranging from 1770-1910 :

The summer months brought two very anticipated and fabulous trips to the Kent State Museum of Fashion to tour the Pretty Pleats Exhibit in June and The Great War Exhibit in August:

In July, I greatly expanded my costume storage space by creating a closet space in the attic, which as you might imagine, I am expanding still! A girl can never have a closet that's too big (*wink*): 

In late summer, I attended my oldest daughter's gallery showing in Columbus, a very proud mama moment. Sydney's photography is remarkable and it has been wonderful to witness her artistic development and growing success!

And, spattered here and there throughout the year, wherever I could squeeze in a needle and thread betwixt speaking engagements, museum visits, home improvement projects, and social events, garments and things were indeed constructed:

Welcome 2015! Wishing you, my dear friends, a warm and wonderful New Year! Blessings and happy sewing!