Personal

A jump, skip, and a blog hop

Puddle jumping, 1960

I’ve been nominated by the lovely Kirsten of Fifty Two Fancies for the sewing blog hop that is going around. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, please go do so! She is a very talented seamstress based in New Zealand, and I love seeing her creations every week. Alright, on to the questions!

Why do I blog?

What a timely question! I’ve been lacking blogging motivation as of late, so answering such an introspective question about why I blog has been helpful with that. I guess the answer is that I’ve been helped out so much myself through reading other sewing blogs that I really wanted to pay it forward. I started this blog back in 2010, with the focus primarily on historic costuming, as that was the main kind of sewing I was doing at the time. There’s so many great historic costuming blogs out there, but so few featured reproduction projects from the 1850s (my primary era of living history interpretation), so I really wanted to fill in that gap. These days, historic costuming takes up the smallest amount of my sewing time, but I continue to sew (more vintage and modern things) and I love to share those projects with fellow bloggers all over the world.

What is my writing process?

Haphazard, lol. My posts are based on what I’m stitching/wearing at the time (or want to stitch/wear!), so that really informs the content. Typically, I come up with a title, and then a base outline of what I want to say. I’ll type up some of the content, and then it’s usually at this point that I get writer’s block, so I’ll go through and edit my pictures for the post. That normally gives me some more content to work with. After I have a draft post finished, I tend to save it and then look at it the next day with fresh eyes before it’s published.

How do I differ from other sewing blogs?

I think the breadth of how many different eras and types of projects I take on makes me stand out in the sewing blogesphere. Very few historic costuming bloggers also do vintage and modern sewing, and very few modern sewing blogs also feature historic costuming. That, and I have British Boyfriend (TM).

A current WIP is…

. . .  a witch table runner for my upcoming Halloween party this weekend! She has striped black and orange socks, and I so can’t wait to show you guys. 🙂

 

Thanks again to Kirsten for nominating me for this blog hop, and if you have a sewing blog and would like to participate, I heartily nominate YOU!

 

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Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern · Personal

Forays into Special Occasion Sewing

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Most people that don’t sew have a mistaken notion that sewing your own clothes is a money-saver. Holy Hannah, is that far from the truth! Case in point: the dress I made for Peter’s sister’s wedding. It would have been much cheaper (and time-efficient) to buy something from Modcloth, which I did consider. Unfortunately, it takes like 10 days for anything they ship to me to reach my front step, and then there’s always a risk that once it does show up, it won’t fit. So, I decided that sewing a dress would probably be my best bet.

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I knew I wanted to wear a fancy wrap dress in a shade of blue, and after looking at numerous patterns, I chose Butterick 5983, which has a lovely wrap dress bodice that is pleated at the shoulders. Luckily, I made a muslin mock-up first, as there were several alterations that needed to be done. First, I shortened the length of the circle skirt about 9 inches, so that it was knee-length, rather than tea-length. I also pinched in the shoulder seam, as it was too full for my shoulders. As for fabric, I used a gorgeous Kenneth Cole blue cotton sateen that I got locally at Mill End Fabrics. I love this fabric, it has a great satin feel to it, but because it’s a cotton, is way easier to work with. I also bought several yards of lace fabric to create an overlay over the sateen, but when I got the fabric home and saw the two together in non-fluorescent light, they just didn’t work together, so I had to scrap that idea. Hopefully, I can use the lace for another project, as it’s really lovely.

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The back closes with a hand-pricked lapped zipper (somehow I didn’t get a photo of that, sorry!). I didn’t do this to be fancy, but rather, because somehow I’ve managed to lose both of my zipper feet for my machine (this is one of the reasons I hate moving, people). I’m sure it’s somewhere in the sewing/craft stuff, but in the rush to get this dress done, I really didn’t have the time it would take to thoroughly look for it, so hand-pricked zipper it was! This was my first time using this technique, and I actually really like it! I found I got way more control with hand-sewing it (the zipper pull is always getting in the way when I insert zippers by machine), and it also looks neater than my machine-sewn zippers.

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Despite being sick as a dog on the day of the wedding, I had a great time and got so many lovely compliments from everyone on the dress (which they couldn’t believe I had made myself!). It definitely made the hectic last-minute sewing worth it. The wedding ceremony took place at the Sponza Palace, a 16th-century building in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Afterwards, we walked out to the harbor and took a boat ride around one of the small islands, before reaching shore again for the reception at The Grand Villa Argentina. The wedding ceremony and reception were absolutely gorgeous, and I’m so grateful that I was able to attend!

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Personal · Pugsley

In which I return after a month with a cat

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In Dubrovnik!

Oh, hello there! Remember me, that quirky, vintage-loving seamstress lady that blogs like once a month? Well, I’m back! I’ve actually been doing a crazy amount of sewing this past month, but have been too busy to blog about it. British Boyfriend (TM) and I went to Croatia in the middle of September for a week for his sister’s wedding and a much-needed vacation, which was lovely and fabulous, but involved a lot of sewing prep and packing. Oh, and then I got sick while I was there, and brought my cold home with me. So, last week I was recovering from icky cold and jet lag, and then this week, we adopted a cat. Yes, a cat. After years of sewing, I’m finally a real seamstress!

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Anyways, his name is Pugsley, and he’s the sweetest orange and white kitty I’ve ever met. I’ve been wanting a furry creature for a while, and our trip to Croatia really cemented the need for a cat. They have so many felines crawling about (it’s right along the sea, so there are a ton of seafood restaurants), but they’re all feral, so petting was not allowed. When we got back to Portland, I decided to take a look at the humane society, and see what cats were available, and we ended up adopting Pugsley from the Multnomah County Animal Shelter (I fell in love after I saw his photo). If you’re in the Portland area and able to adopt a pet, I would highly recommend checking out them or the Oregon Humane Society, which currently has a plethora of kittens available. They do amazing work.

Besides cat-rearing, I have a couple trip-related posts having to do with sewing and vintage I’m hoping to get up over next couple of days, as well as some autumnal sewing and home dec projects in the works (we’re throwing our first Halloween party at the end of the month!). I’m also (slowly) getting caught up on all the lovely blogs I follow, and it’s so neat to see everyone’s fall projects. I have to say that winter is normally my favorite season, but for some reason, I’ve been really looking forward to autumn this year.

Personal · Vintage

Home Sweet Home

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Sorry for my absence from these here webparts, readers, but I have a good reason for that – Peter and I moved!

We now live in an adorable 6-plex that was built in 1941, and it has some great features, including a fireplace and built-in vanity in the bathroom. The best part is that our landlady kept all of the walls painted (I so hate renting places where the walls are just plain white), which means that we have a blue living room, yellow kitchen, and pink bathroom (yes, pink bathroom!).

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All of the furniture was either stuff we already had or recently acquired off Craigslist (we didn’t get murdered and got some great pieces at really low prices, so win-win). I’ve also caught the home dec bug, and have been sewing like a mad woman for the apartment (we had a small housewarming for close friends and family last weekend). There are a couple more pieces I want to make, and then I plan on doing a blog post about those, ok? Ok.

New sewing corner

The one downside is that I don’t really have room to sew anywhere but the bedroom, so I’ve set aside a corner in the bedroom for my sewing machine. Luckily, we can poke holes in the wall, so I’ve decorated with some of my favorite vintage hats.

This is my third apartment since I’ve moved to Portland, and you would think that I’d be totally adept at moving, but I’m so not. Moving is just so disruptive to my usual routine and takes so much out of me. Plus, I always forget where I’ve put stuff, and end up creating lots of “I’ll deal with those later” boxes. Anyways, I’m absolutely smitten with the new place. It truly feels like home, and I don’t plan on moving again anytime soon.

1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · 18th century · corset · Edwardian/Teens · Historic Costuming · Millinery · Personal · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

Help Save YWU and Foundations Revealed!

Your Wardrobe Unlock'd: The Costume Maker's Companion

Foundation Revealed: The Corset Maker's Companion

Though less and less of my sewing these days is of the historic costuming nature (I’ve had to cut back on reenacting since moving to Portland), I still geek out over quilted petticoats, Edwardian foundation garments, and 19th century millinery –  and I know many of my readers here do, too! It is with this common interest that I implore you to become a member of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and/or Foundations Revealed before they are forced to shut down due to financial issues.

Run by Cathy Hay, a professional costumer based in the UK, Your Wardrobe Unlock’d (YWU) and Foundations Revealed are the best resources out there for the historic costumer and corsetmaker, but they are at huge risk of not being available in the very near future.  Both websites pay professional and amateur costumers to write tutorials and in-depth articles covering all aspects of historic costuming and corset-making, and the way they do this is through monthly subscriptions (your first month is only $5.97). Sadly, their subscription numbers are not where they need to be in order to stay afloat, and that’s where we, as historic costumers and seamstresses, can help out. You can either subscribe to one or both to keep Cathy in business (you do get a better deal subscribing to both!)

Even if you’re not a costumer, there are some great articles about sewing in general, including Organizing Your Sewing Space, How to Fit Yourself (super helpful if you don’t have a sewing buddy to help with this!), and How to Sew with Ease and Pleasure.

For the vintage seamstress, Foundations Revealed has several articles and tutorials worth reading, including how to make several different styles of 1920s chemises, how to pattern and make your own seamed stocking with either a French or Cuban heel (!), and a tutorial on how to make a your own girdle (yes, you can make your own girdle! No more scouring the internets trying to find one that might fit!)

Thanks for reading my little internet PSA and I hope you will be inspired to subscribe to one or both of these fabulous websites! Seriously, there is no other resource like it out there on the web, and the patterns they have available for members alone are worth it. If you have a relevant historic costuming or sewing business, Cathy is also implementing an advertising program to help with generating additional revenue, and you can find more info about that here.

Finished! · Modern Sewing · Personal

An apron for an Englishman, and courting cake!

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Hey, readers! Long time no sew, eh? I’ve been going through some major life changes as of late, including both moving AND changing jobs, which meant that I wasn’t really in the mood to whip up a modern skirt or sew a repro 50s dress. However, I finally unpacked all of my sewing stuff from moving, and so was able to whip up this dashing apron for Peter, my British Boyfriend (and before you ask, yes, that is a picture of Shakespeare on his t-shirt, and the wording below it says “You discussed me.” Isn’t that awesome!?)

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I *love* the fabric so much! It says “A Gentleman is Always Well Dressed”and features mustaches, umbrellas, and letters. I picked it up locally at Mill End last month when Peter’s mum was here visiting from England (she sews, too!). I have some extra fabric leftover, so I think I may make a matching oven mitt or potholder.

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Peter is actually very good at baking, and made this courting cake for me (entirely from scratch!) to celebrate our 6-month anniversary today. Isn’t that so sweet!? Courting cakes, for those not aware (and I certainly was not until recently!), originated in Lancashire (NW England) and were baked by girls for potential suitors as a token of love, as well as proof that she could bake! However, in the 21st century, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for a gent to make his gal a courting cake. 😉

Blogging · Modern Sewing · Personal · Vintage

Getting back my sewing mojo

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Hey readers! It appears I took an unintended hiatus after Halloween and now we’re in 2014. Oops.

I try not to get too super personal on this blog (afterall, I’m not paying you guys to listen to me talk), but the past few months have been very tough on me, both personally and professionally. There are several changes that I’m working on making in 2014 so I don’t find myself in similar situations (I’m sure there will be posts about that sometime in the future), although I will say that I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the last few months.

The one bright spot in all of this was that I started dating again (yes, I’m going to discuss my love life and it will probably be disgusting) and met the most amazing, kind, caring, handsome, and sweet Englishman named Peter. Yep, readers, I have a British boyfriend!!!!! He’s incredibly witty, does impressions of all of the Beatles (his Paul McCartney is quite good), and loves going to the fabric store with me (we also just watched The Great British Sewing Bee together, which was so good! I highly recommend it, it’s like the genteel, British version of Project Runway for home sewers). Oh, and then there’s the accent. Not gonna lie, sometimes I make him say certain words (like “schedule” and “vitamin.”).

Anyways, he went to go see his family back in England for Christmas, so I made him a mustache tissue holder and a travel bag with the bridges of Portland on it created by a local designer:

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I also made my dear friend, Kady (who I’ve blogged about before), a retro-inspired apron with vintage hat fabric, as she often wears fun hats to the office.

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Of course, I liked hers so much, I had to make one for myself!

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I’ve also been doing some fun vintage events, most recently Church of Sinatra, a once-monthly event hosted by Julie of Fab Gabs. There are going to be a ton of vintage events in the next few weeks (including the Fur and Feathers Luncheon, a Gatsby Soiree, and a co-ed vintage pajama party) that should provide lots of blog fodder for you all.

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Yes, that is a martini glass brooch.
 Cheers, everyone!