Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Little Things

Seeing little blossoms beginning to bloom, such as my forget-me-nots and johnny-jump-ups, remind me  to take a moment and appreciate the small things in life: to actually take note of and thank God for them.

Some this past week have been "Reflections on a quiet stream," "A young butterfly in its flight of new freedom" "Carrot Cake success" "Long morning Shadows."

[Is anyone familiar with Johnny-Jump-Ups? I never heard of them until I saw them in Tasha Tudor's Garden. If you're familiar with Violas (approx. half the size of a standard pansy) then just imagine these to be half the size of those. Look at a finger nail on your hand, and yes, they are about that size.]

Well, these gorgeous roses are exactly "little" but they cause me to thank the Lord that my parents have stayed together for 31 years. Last week was their anniversary and Dad bought Mom these roses for the occasion. A week later and we're still enjoying them!

What can you be thankful for today?

["I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Ps. 34:1]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Drapes to Apparel

"You mean to tell me that my children have been running around Saltzburg in nothing but some old drapes?!"

"Mmmhmm! And having a marvelous time."

I love Maria's resourcefulness in using old (and ugly in my opinion) drapes to make new (and now cute!) clothing for herself and Captain Von Trapp's seven children on The Sound of Music. I always thought that it would be fun to make something beautiful out of the old and undesirable without looking like it was made from a window treatment. :)

Yesterday I got to do just that. A dear lady and friend from church really liked the Prairie Linen skirts I've been selling over at Tally Skirts, especially the brown one, and said that eventually she wanted me to make her one. Over the weekend she told me about some ugly curtains that came with the house they moved into awhile ago. While they were not her style "the brown fabric looks like it could be high-quality suiting material" and wondered if "it might work?"

She gave me the curtains yesterday morning and I finished the skirt last night. I don't wish to sing my own praises, but it turned out beautifully. For some odd reason I wasn't sure if the fabric would "look right" in this style, but probably only because I've ever only made these skirts with linen. With being a volunteer in a Christian school office four days a week, I believe she'll love another skirt that she won't have to iron!

She still has a curtain panel that I didn't even touch, so there is enough for another skirt. :) Have any of ladies sewn clothing using old curtains?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dress It Up - Go Vintage!

Today's post has no pictures of inspiration just because there are SO many I could post. Not only is vintage "in" right now, but it is also very dressy, classy, and fun as I've mentioned in some previous posts of this series.

It could be anything vintage you could wear (your grandmother's scarf, your mother's maxi skirt from the 70s, oxford style heels, a string of pearls), but today I'm sharing pictures of a vintage dress I found several weeks ago at one of our local thrift stores.  It looked quite wearable, too, so I snatched it up.

The seamstress left the extra seam allowance on the side seams of the bodice, which I was thankful for since I'm rather a curvy hourglass. The sides now feel big, but in bunches still around the bust area, so to achieve a better fit my guess would be that I would need to let out the shoulder seams if there are any.

It has a zipper that extends into the skirt and comes up mid-back and then fabric ties (that are connected to the back bodice, ie, apart of it instead of sewn onto it) close the neckline in the back. The whole entire bodice is unlined (no darts) and bound in white bias tape.

It has a very full skirt which makes this dress perfect for twirling in. :)

One can't go wrong with mint and mustard colors either (apparently both are popular this spring!) ...

I almost wore it for Easter Sunday but my "more-up-to-date" sister talked me out of it. ;) I certainly wouldn't be ashamed to wear it out in public or for a picnic outing. What IS odd about this dress is the DATE of this dress. Several ladies who I asked on my favorite sewing forum presumed this to be a late 50s/early 60s and for years I have deplored that fashion era with a passion.

Perhaps I'm mellowing in my old age? ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sneak Peek of the 1914 dress!

Yes, ladies! Progress is being made. It has been one of those projects where it has been hard to stop working on it and do something else . . .for instance, go to bed. ;)

The lace overlay is kind of along the lines of a princess-seamed jumper, but with the curved hemline and seams going into the shoulder rather than at the bust. It is supposed to be lined, but why line it when I want to see the gold silk underneath the bodice and skirt? Since the skirt is a separate piece than the rest which you saw in my previous post, I had to lining the bodice of the lace dress with the silk and only to the length of a waistline. Since it would be worn with a belt over all, who would know?

Only you and I. ;)

I serged the seams of the silk bodice lining to look "professional" though not a period correct-approved method, but when I came to sewing the lace, I did not want a serger finished seam to be seen. I chose to do french-seams so there would be no chance of unraveling or an untidied appearance.

I'll be doing this to the shoulder seams and side seams which I haven't sewed yet. I'll probably either turn up the hem a couple of times or do a roll hem with my serger, instead of the pattern's facing pieces for the skirt so as to not see 2" to 3" of fabric at the hem on the underside. Make sense? If not, that's okay. ;)

For the sleeves I've been going back and forth. I went ahead and cut out the long sleeves that came with the pattern using the lace fabric (and not doing the embellishments on the sleeves). Now that the majority of the dress IS sewn, I'm wondering if perhaps I should do 3/4 length sleeves? Or I even thought of doing silk cap sleeves with the lace long sleeves (seems like I saw this or something similar on Downton Abbey...) over it. What would you do? or what would you prefer to wear? or would that last idea be not period accurate?

I still have yet to sew the belt (confession: I folded the fabric, and pinned it in the back to Arabella), finish off the neckline with the facings, put in the back zipper, and then I think this dress will be finished! Can hardly wait to wear it. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Provision and Progress

What a sad thing it is to be separated.

On Monday Dad and I took my serger and sewing machine into the repair shop. My sewing machine is "fine" although the lever to lift up the presser foot has been tight with the occasional sprinkling of silver powder (metal?) coming down from that area. It still worked so I never said anything about it, but Dad said to say something next time.

He likened that to driving around with an engine light on in my car and me saying, "Oh but it still runs so I'll just keep driving" but ignoring the problem. That analogy could be said of our spiritual lives, too, I think. God sometimes pricks our hearts of areas that need attention and we just try to ignore those promptings when not only have have a problem that will only worsen with time, but we're also building up a wall, brick by brick, around our heart...

Well. So here is Cheri without a sewing machine and serger. While I don't always sew (surprise, surprise to some of you!), I do get into "sewing swings" of not sewing for weeks/months, but then oppositely, sometimes I DO sew for several days/weeks in a row. What does a seamstress do without her machines for 7-10 days? "What if I get really inspired to sew something NOW and can't?" I wondered. ;)

I could start sewing by hand... I could start mending my yellow purse (used for the spring and summer months). I could fix another duck of Sadie's. I could pick up a crocheting project that I started years ago. I could work on some more tatting. But one of my sisters came to my rescue and said that I could use her sewing machine and serger for as long as I needed to. Her machines are several "notches" above mine in what they do, so I'm quite delighted to use them. :D

Yesterday I finished the silk underskirt for my 1914 dress. I love how the shape and fit turned out.

The invisible zipper even went in without any ripples or curves. Zippers and I don't always like each other.

Last night I finally cut out the rest of the dress. Have I ever mentioned that THE thing I dislike about sewing would be having to cut out? It's ridiculous, I know. One can't sew unless something is cut out to sew! The other thing that I dislike in sewing is whenever I put in "hidden" side pockets. Pockets on the outside I love doing, and especially when doing all sorts of designs or using fun trim, but the other ones: no thankyou! :)

Anyone out there have anything that you don't like doing in a sewing project?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Woe of a Seamstress

My serger, I believe, is broken.

Nothing will move and it makes an awful noise.

This, my friends, is NOT good.

(...and I was in the middle of serging the hem of the silk underskirt, too!)

Daddy is going to take a look at it. Pray with me that he'll be able to discover the problem, and fix it!

An Earl Grey kind of Day

Today I'm taking a break from the Dress It Up series to focus on other priorities around me. Trying to get errands done before the storm hits (we've heard conflicting reports from thunderstorms and tornadoes with lots of rain to three feet of snow ... we decided to ignore all weather reports and just wait until whatever it is, comes) and then get back to work on my current sewing project.

[Bringing in a bit of springtime beauty just in case we do get that snow!]
I started sewing the silk underskirt the other day, and I forgot how regal it feels to sew with silk(::winks::) not to mention a historical inspired dress. Ahh, it's been to long! I tried it on over a skirt, tank, and sweater and it fit like a charm. I've decided to take the plunge and make an edwardian corset, which I probably should have made before sewing, but I can easily take in the back skirt seam if the skirt ends up being to big after being worn over period undergarments.

[Photo copyrighted to my talented sister]
Dark storm clouds hovering the western horizion and shutting oneself in one's sewing room calls for some Earl Grey tea. This morning I drove ... well, you don't want to know how far (!) to pick up this loose tea. I even paid a full price of $6.99 for it, but it seemed reasonable since I can't get it for less on ebay or amazon. The Twinings is my favorite kind of Earl Grey, and tastes best with some french vanilla creamer poured in the biggest mug you can find and fill.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Springtime Busyness

Over the weekend I had to do some "emergency" sewing. A long-time family friend of ours, and who we affectionately called "Grandpa" passed away Thursday morning and the funeral was to be held Monday morning. My older sister and Mother were flying out Easter morning to attend his viewing and funeral service. Mom didn't have a stitch of black to wear. Providentially some beautiful black fabric came in the mail just in time for me to sew her a dress. That's what I did over the weekend, and finished up around 9:30pm Saturday night.

[The evening light was lovely as I was out by the apple tree yesterday.]

Easter Sunday was a beautiful day. Full of sunshine, perfumed wind (the flowering trees seem especially lovely this spring!) and fullness of joy. The church service was a blessing with all of the music, one of the choir special accompanied by piano & orchestra, which I was happily apart of, and an encouraging sermon. (Yes, if you're wondering, I did wear my comb.) :)

Laundry, meals, assisting in research papers and book reports, teaching violin, and errands will fill my week, but this afternoon all of us are heading outside to do the first grass-mowing (please tell me you like the smell of freshly-cut grass, too!) yard work, and seed-transplanting from their tiny cells to larger containers where the seedlings will grow some more before put into the gardens.

Speaking personally, I think this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Dress It Up - On Your Head!

Wearing hats can be another element that will add a touch of elegance and dressiness to an outfit. With Easter this Sunday, it would be a perfect time to pull out a hat out of its box! Have you ever considered wearing one out to a special dinner or even just out doing errands?

I have several times. I have come home with hats or simply tried them on at the store, and my poor dear family does all they can do to not laugh at me. I can wear the ones that work well for when I dress up in a historical garment (like this) but in general, most modern hats look hideous on me.

Perhaps there is a reader who can empathize? There are other options, dear ladies! There are fascinators and hair combs to try! :) Some are really ridiculous, I readily agree, but then there are some that are quite charming.

I actually have yet to try one on myself, but I'm not going to shrink back from them quite yet as I have most modern hats.
If you're not quite sure about an actual fascinator, you could try a flower on clip with some netting like this one by Olive & Jane or simply wear a real flower in your hair. You can never go wrong with fresh!

If you're on a tight budget (who isn't these days?!) you could make your own hair comb like this one:

Ebay and Etsy are wonderful sources to find hair combs with reasonable prices. Now I have tried and rather like haircombs. Personally speaking, they add that touch of elegance without the WOW, WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?! factor; if that is something you concern yourself with.

This is a simple one in a tortoiseshell-like plastic.

And then I have another that is a replica of the butterfly comb on Titanic (I don't endorse the movie, though there are some fantastic costumes, hats & combs, and jewelry on there!)

Don't look on ebay for these, unless you want to pay over $100 for it. Back in 2008 or 2009, I think I payed around $25 for mine from a extraordinarily talented lady who is no longer in business, though she has a few left that she is selling here for a bit more.

I'm going to take the risk and wear one of them to church tomorrow for our Easter service, with the attempts of doing some kind of curly updo. Which comb should I wear?

Friday, April 06, 2012

In Glorious Bloom

Spring has arrived at least 3-4 weeks early because of the unseasonably warm weather we've had. I can't complain since it's my favorite season of all. There is color everywhere around our cottage, and thought I'd share some of that beauty through pictures (none of them have been edited or enhanced in anyway).

This is our tulip bed, which also contains hyacinths and grape hyacinths. Both are for the most part done for the year, but our tulips have showcased their loveliness all week. We have reds, yellows, whites, and purples. During the summer we'll plant annuals in this bed. I'm thinking red geraniums.

On of our blossoming tree's that we are often taken back by every spring. The fragrance of their blossoms is incredible. When we have a warmer evening, I love to open up my bed room window for awhile to savor the aroma.

Another bed that hold spring bulbs and other perennials. That large patch of rocks will be full of salmon and apricot colored tulips next year.

What's blooming at your house this week?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Back in the Sewing Room

The past two days have prevented me from spending very little time out of doors. We have had unseasonably warm weather for a good month and all of a sudden it took a turn into the 30s and 40s. I really can't complain because we need any and all moisture we can get.

So instead of spending my time out in the flower gardens like I planned, I got back into the sewing room to re-organize my fabrics, notions, patterns that I no longer need, thoughts, and the like. Not to long ago I happily discovered that I still had a bit of some cotton-sheen lilac fabric left. Of course out it came as did the scissors!

No lace or extra frills on this one. The fabric is quite beautiful in and of itself.