Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Word from Dickens

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." ~Charles Dickens

Lest I just be another voice that sounds redundantly thankful on their social media page, I'll just say echo the words of Dickens to say that every life is accompanied with blessings and if they're hard to find this year, ask God to show you what you can be thankful for and He will answer it.

A Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families!

Use the coupon code SHIPFREE in my etsy shop this weekend to ship any order in the US for free.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Photos from the 1930s

I've decided to take my time on my 1930s dress. There may or may not be some patience needed in making said dress. ::ahem:: If I can just make a little progress on it each day, I'll be pleased.

After stopping at Grandma's in Michigan, my mom and sister brought home with them some cookbooks made by a somewhat distant relative of mine. In the cookbooks there is some family history written and it includes several pictures. I took screen shots from the PDF files, and below are two from the 1930s. I'm assuming these are the girls graduation pictures, as elsewhere in the cookbook they gave a graduation date for the girl in the first picture, and her sister was born a little over a year later.

Class of 1933

Class of 1934

My brother says I resemble the 2nd one, but I'm not so certain as he often says endearing comments to us girls (he'll be a charmer someday!). But aren't they lovely girls?

On a different note, A Joyful Handmaiden is now "Facebook official"! Perhaps you do more on FB than on blog readers, and would find it helpful to be kept up to date with new posts or new items added to the shop. You'll have to pardon its depleated look, but hopefully in no time it will look as though its used. Look it up! :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Progress: 1930s Christmas Frock

After adding a couple new aprons to the shop over the weekend, I began on my 1930s Christmas dress with great excitement, but that quickly deflated. Perhaps it was after taking a good month off of sewing that I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, but I was making mistake after mistake! And ones that I don't usually make, so it quickly escalated into a frustrating mess of fabric.

Before I shut down the sewing machines on Saturday, some progress was finally being made and below are a few testimonials of what was done:

I love the tucks in the back neck.

Arabella is kept in this corner of the sewing room, so please overlook the pile of shirts at the end of the ironing board! :) Sadly, I was just a little short on fabric, so there aren't the full amount of pleats in the front and back insets, but I think it will be okay.
Today I'm working on the front part of the dress, and if I feel ambitious (granted I have the time to do so!) I may attempt to finish it. Is anyone else making anything special for this coming Christmas season?

If you happen to be sewing today, you may enjoy this podcast by speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss and a guest on creating a more meaningful holiday season. I'm listening to it right now as I type.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Caving In & Other Rambles

Every year around this time, we keep telling ourselves, "No, wait until after Thanksgiving," to listen to our Christmas music CDs or watch our favorite Christmas movies (White Christmas, anyone??).

This year we sort of "cheated" that rule since my older sister was feverishly practicing carols for her new Christmas CD that she just finished recording. She is a wonderful harpist, for those who didn't know, and has produced four albums. Yours truly played the violin on one of them, though now I cringe at hearing myself since I've attempted to be more proficient on my instrument by way of studying violin performance at college (two more years to go!)

The other day I was browsing one of my favorite thrift stores and I bought a John Rutter Christmas CD for $2 in like-new condition. And yes, I caved in and have already been playing it in my car. :)

Snow will be here tonight, Lord willing, and as much as I wish to bring out the Christmas decorations, I must content myself with hot chocolate, thick sweaters, and sewing.

Here are a few sneak peeks at what I have on my table:

The ingredients for a perfect Christmas apron to sell in the shop. I'm thinking a simple Tasha Tudor style, but if you must have this fabric in another style, leave a comment or send me a note through etsy, and I'll try to accommodate you!

I've decided that I'm going to make myself a Christmas dress out of this pretty deep teal cotton/poly/rayon (???) blend. It's not red or green, but then I can sometimes be somewhat "original" in nature. ;P I briefly mentioned it in this post of historical patterns and will be doing it in the 1933 Vintage Vogue pattern. Right now I can't decide which button to use. Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Free Shipping Code for Peasant Cottage!

When someone says, "It's one of those days..." you generally get their drift, don't you? Well yes, I'm having one of those, but it's okay. I just made a fresh pot of coffee, the laundry is in both washing machine and dryer, supper will be kept to simple grilled cheese and tomato soup, the sun in shining, and God is good. :) That alone is enough.

But maybe you're having "one of those days" and need some cheering up? If you've had your eye on something in the shop, you'll enjoy knowing that through Saturday, you can get free shipping on any domestic order! Just enter the coupon code SHIPFREE and you're good to go!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pattern Collection: Historically Inspired

Happy Monday! Sorry if  your hopes were in having the final installment of my pattern collection up on the blog, but my weekend was quite busy and eventful.
I put this collection together by sorting the patterns by era. It's rather obvious which is my favorite, but I've been trying to reach out of my "comfort zone" and not dislike other eras.

Don't ask why, but for some reason when I brightened up this picture, it cropped it too. And without my permission! But if anyone is familiar with Sense & Sensibility patterns, you'll recognize these. While I haven't picked up the Regency era much lately, several years ago that's all I did. Most of what was sewn was for selling on ebay and for awhile, they sold extremely well.
Turn of the Century/Edwardian:

These are my patterns that aren't from S&S. ;) The first one is from another favorite company (hi, Amanda!) who makes many fun patterns: Hint of History. At one point I had her 1912 dress pattern and I regrettably sold it, but years before doing so I made a dress out of it. It's an excellent pattern if you're wanting something Downton Abbey looking!
The second pattern in the top row is a reproduction of an actual pattern. I bought it online from a vintage fashion library website of some sort. It reminded me very much of Anne's "cow chasing dress" in the movie, "Anne of Avonlea." Someday I hope to recreate it. :)
Moving on to the Folkwear pattern, doesn't it look like something Diana Barry would wear? And who can put down a matching apron pattern for ladies and girls? The pattern comes with a few other tea-related things like maybe a teapot cover, napkins, and such.
And then the lovely wedding dress pattern put out by Sullivan Entertainment that is identical to Anne Shirley's dress when she married Gil. Many of you are waiting for a full photo shoot to replace the quick one taken on the veranda of me wearing my take on this pattern.

Here is another set of pattern from S&S. I've made something from all of these except for the Beatrix Potter jacket pattern.

One of the many things that I love about S&S patterns is that many of them come from or are adapted from original patterns. When making something, and stepping into a finished garment, you feel as if you are from that era. :) Once again, I've made something from all of these patterns. Most recognizable of course would be the 1910s tea gown made into a Titanic "Swim dress" shown here and here. Then of course I've made two dresses from the 1914 afternoon dress: my first one back in 2007 and then my second one made this year.

1930s - 1940s:
After the Edwardian era, the 1930s is probably my favorite though I'm growing a fondness to some of the 1920s fashions (thanks Downton Abbey!). The first pattern is a Vogue reproduction of a 1933 dress pattern. I saw this on etsy and immediately fell in love with the design and details. It somehow seemed familiar to me, and then it dawned on me that my friend Laura has this pattern. :) There is a dress cut out in this pattern that is sitting on my table waiting to be sewn, so hopefully before the year is out, you'll see pictures of it completed.

Earlier this year I made a dress out of the Decade's of Style pattern and really liked the way it turned out. Bias cuts aren't the most flattering on me at the present, so not long ago the dress was sold in my etsy shop.

Lastly, there is the 1940s Swing Dress pattern that I used this summer for my sister. You'll remember that the dress was made specifically for a special retro diner themed dinner, and now that it has taken place, she tells me that all she has to show her wearing the dress are a few head shots. I told her the other day that I have many blog readers who want to see the full length of it and on her! :) Hopefully soon I can take her out on a photo shoot for some pictures.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Pattern Collection: Vintage

Dating from 1969 and earlier, these are the vintage patterns I've collected. The thrift stores, antique stores, etsy, and ebay are my favorite places to find these well-loved patterns.

First off is my children's collection. This too has shrunk. I've either sold some or given some away for the same reasons I gave in my previous post. :)

The top left one is my "newest" find at an "uppity up" antique store in town and it was marked for 50 cents.  It has no date, but I'm thinking late 20s or early 30s. And look at those bathrobes! It's definitely from the 30s, and looks simple to put together. The style reminds me of wrappers worn by the Walton children on the TV series, "The Waltons."
The bottom two are from the 60s. The Holly Hobbie pattern interested me with it's sweet sunbonnet and apron. Staples in a young girls dress-up box! And lastly, I picked up this wild and crazy pattern not for the toys (though I'm sure making toys could be/would be safer than some they make now days) but for the apron shown in the lower left corner. A few made in this pattern have made their way into the shop a couple years ago.
This next set is a fun one. The top row consists of a 40s skirt pattern I picked up last year at a sewing boutique shop, and have since wanted to make a skirt out of it. I almost used my wool fabric in this pattern. The 2nd in the top row was my very first vintage pattern purchase. I remember when my Dad bid on ebay for me when I was still working on my adult sewing skills (I learned sewing on doll clothes). I made the short sleeve version in a red plaid, and we have pictures of me wearing it somewhere, but can't seem to find it. The 50s nightgown pattern was one I picked up for my sister who loves to sew nightgowns as much as I love to sew aprons, but it didn't interest her. I may end up selling this one.
And then of course there are two 40s apron patterns. I've used both and they've made their appearance in my etsy shop as well, though it's been awhile. And then a 70s apron pattern, which I suppose could be put in with my modern collection, but oh well. This pattern is also a fun one, and one that I've used for aprons in the shop before, as well as for myself. If you've been a reader for a good 6 years or more, you may remember this post?
And finally we have my oldest patterns, both in the early 1900s. The bloomers I'm guessing would be around 1900 (possibly 1899? I should check the pattern) and the shirtwaist I'm guessing around 1912 by judging her hair style.

I know I've made the bloomers before (maybe sold a pair on ebay?) and I'm pretty certain I've made the shirtwaist, too, to sell. Following is a close up picture that I attempted to take for details since the above one features a nasty glare.

With sorting through all my patterns, I'm starting to get the bug to get back to sewing again, but alas, my sewing machine was starting to give up the ghost and is now enroute to the shop for repair and won't see it for a good two weeks. As my dad says, I've done more sewing on that machine in the last 15 years than what many people do in their lifetime. ;)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Pattern Collection: Ladies Apparel

Well, I just fixed myself a cup of my favorite Earl Grey tea, and thought I'd take the rest of the morning answering e-mails and writing up today's blog post. After two hours of sleep, breakfast for all, seeing my mother and sister drive off eastward for two weeks, and cleaning the upstairs bathroom, it feels like it should be going on 11pm, not 11am. ;)
The following picture is my skirt pattern collection (not counting the patterns I've created that I stow in the big manila envelopes). I've used all of them, and have been very pleased.

Of course the first one is familiar to you, since I made a blog post about it not long ago. The 2nd & 3rd one on the top row were given to me from a mother-like friend of mine from church. I've made her several skirts from this pattern, and love the back details. On the bottom row, I've made myself a skirt from one of the first two (can't remember, they're both very similar if not next to identical) and loved the basic A-line pattern. The last one I've used several times for another friend of mine from church. Oh, and looking back a few years, I guess I did make myself a skirt in this last pattern. :)

This is a rather diversified group. The two jacket patterns have been in my storage bin and still remain untouched. (Should get rid of them!) The first was given to me, and the second was one I picked up because I liked the blue one shown on the cover. :) Then my one and only shirt pattern that I used over and over again. Here, and here are a couple posts of me wearing one that I made. It's rather frightening to see these since it seems like yesterday that I made these! Not to mention I look a wee bit younger and a lot smaller in size. Ah well, can't do much about the former, but CAN do something about the latter! :)
On the bottom row I have a stylish looking jumper pattern (I thought of you, Laura, when I picked it up at the thrift store several years ago. Maybe I thought it looked like something you would wear?). I don't wear jumpers anymore but I've saved it for maybe when I get brave enough to sew it in a dark plaid wool, donne a hat, (it's a pity most hats look dreadful on my rather large head) and walk the streets of London, England. Wishful thinking, I know.
The next dress pattern is my first "modern" dress pattern that I used when I started coming out of the prairie-muffin stage. A few other lovely young ladies from church made dresses out of this pattern, so it was fun to "match" them once in awhile. The only reason I've kept it is for sentimentality reasons. (Oh the things we get attached to!)
And then the nightgown pattern and robe pattern. In the winter season, I find pajama's a lot more practical, not to mention much warmer, but it's fun wearing a soft "romantic" nightgown on a summer evening. :) I've taken some length off the hem, and add a good 8" ruffle to it just fun. The robe pattern I've never used, but have always wanted to since I've never owned one. One of these days...

Now for fun "accessories." :) Surely it isn't a surprise to you that I have other apron patterns that aren't vintage. :) The two from Sew Liberated are my absolute favorite modern ones. I've used the Emmeline pattern on numerous occasions for gifts. Out of the bottom two aprons I've made the first one many times as well. There has been at least on more than one occasion being "caught" wearing an ivory apron covered in ruffles while sweeping the front porch before guests arrive. :) The other apron pattern I've kept because it looks so "Downton Abbey" but looking at the instructions, one has to make their own battenburg lace out of battenburg tape. Maybe one of these days I'll figure out what that even is?

And as for the other two: the tote bag pattern has been a staple to use. I've made several totes for the shop using this pattern (but altering/changing it up, of course). And the shawl/sailor collar pattern I've used I think once or twice in the last ten years. I'm not sure why I still keep it, but I have.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Pattern Collection: Baby, Toddler, Child

While taking pictures of my patterns to post this week, I came across three more that I could get rid of. Yay for pattern destashing! :)
Being young and naive, I grew up thinking how much fun it would be to sew clothing for my children someday. I had more children's patterns than adults for a time, I think. Having grown up and seeing how little time my mothering friends have, my collection of patterns for children have dwindled to just a few.

I suppose this one could go into the category of historical reproductions, but it'd be the only infant pattern apart of that, so it's listed here. The little dresses and jackets are adorable.

Now before you get on my case of these dresses looking decidedly 80s, you must allow me to dream of  play clothes and costumes for children! :) Having grown up on Little House on the Prairie, and seeing these patterns from the dresses & pinafores that Mary and Laura wore, (not to mention for pennies at the thrift store) who could resist?

The Cabbage Patch pattern has a history. Several years ago Grandma gave us this pattern and asked if we remembered it at all. Of course we didn't, but when she brought up the pretty calico pink dress that my sister Erin wore as a flower girl in our Uncle's wedding, then we remembered. I'm not sure how the pattern found its home in my collection though, so I should probably as my sister!

And who could say no to a Lanz of Salzburg nightgown? :) My sisters and I wore these nightgowns or pajamas as children, and have fond memories of the cozy flannel feeling as we were tucked into bed at night. To this day, one of my sisters still wear the nightgowns made by this company. :)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Pattern Collection Series

Have you ever wished to see inside someone else's sewing room or crafting space? I really enjoyed Shannon's blog posts on her creative spaces and how she organizes things. I was tempted to hop in with her and a few other bloggers, but my sewing room is a sight to be seen (and not in a positive way)!

But I thought I could share with my friends what my pattern collection looks like. Am I the only one who wishes for a peek inside others pattern collection?

Over the last few months I've greatly reduced my collection. Partly because I sew for myself a lot less than 10-15 years ago, and some (many?) patterns were distinctly 80s/90s looking that no longer hold their interest like they used to. ;) Recently I thought I was down to around 15 modern patterns, but the other day I counted at least 40. Oops!

Breaking it up into few sections,  I'll "feature" each in its own category:
  • Baby/Toddler/Child
  • Ladies Apparel
  • Vintage (1969 and earlier)
  • Historically Inspired/Reproductions
But for today here is a look into how I store my patterns.

I keep my smaller, "standard sized" patterns in this storage container. It keeps them standing upright and gives little room for bending.

Many of my historical inspired patterns are stored in this larger storage bin. My sister keeps some of her patterns in here, and we still keep many patterns that we created for our custom sewing business, A Joyful Handmaiden, which tailored to ladies and girls dresses, jumpers, blouses, skirts, etc, etc from 2000-2005. (Do any of our old-time customers still read this blog?) :) All of my apron patterns that I use for Peasant Cottage are in a manila envelope, so no exciting pictures to share if you were hoping for a peek!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Lemons & Royal Staffordshire

After making these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (yay for pinterest!) yesterday, Mom gave me the idea of taking a few pictures of one on her antique plates.
As with every Christmas, we will often hit the flea markets or antique stores for a gift for Mom. One year I took Dad to my favorite places, and he spotted a lovely tea cup, saucer, and plate collection from England put out by Royal Staffordshire. It was on sale, too, so it came home with us that year.


A cup of tea with a slice of lemon completes an afternoon tea time.