Friday, September 28, 2018

White and Black Gingham (Check) Dress and Hat and Video

Today I finished my black and white gingham dress which I've been talking about, and made a matching hat. It took me several weeks to make this, since I had to do it in increments instead of the usual marathon sewing I've done in the past. I decided I needed to live a sensible life and keep my house well organized and clean, so I was only able to do a few stitches every day on this. That is why it took me so long to show it here.
The hat is made with another  pattern, and has iron-on craft weight (heavy) interfacing for stiffness.  The pattern called for bendable wire to be inserted in the brim but I found the interfacing worked sufficiently and I did not want to fuss too much, as the hat was just a fun thing to go with the dress for the pictures.

The pattern is McCalls 8183 published in 1996.   I used sleeves from another pattern, since I like big roomy sleeves, below the elbow. Notice the tie at the waist is wide at the side and gradually tapers to a narrow tip at the end of the sash. You might be able to zoom in on the pattern picture and see.  There is a better picture of this on an Etsy site here.

Halfway through the project I had to get a new sewing machine. The other one had tried my patience too long and it had to go, since I was not interested in stopping every 5 minutes to repair it and spend another hour or two un-picking the terrible stitching job.  It is amazing how fast I finished the dress with the new sewing machine. I was so used to babying the old sewing machine and correcting all the mistakes that I had not noticed how much time it was taking to sew.

 The best sewing machine is a new one.  Mr. S. got this new one for $75.00.  I just didn't want to spend a lot of time looking for the perfect machine, so I settled for one that worked!  Some day I will study more on it and get a better model. This one works just fine and I'm very happy with it.

In this photo I am wearing the stretchy gingham headband from Dollar Tree that just matched the dress. But as you can see from my expression,  this selfie thing feels really ridiculous.

 I'm not happy with the tie in the front, and if I had to do it again I would make the ties only one layer  (the pattern called for doubling each tie strand) and a lot longer.

I must tell you the dress style would be best made up in rayon or some very lightweight, fluid like fabric that moves easily.  Even with this thin gingham, the dress does not have much "give" to it and so the next time I sew this pattern I will try some of the other suggested fabrics from the back of the envelope.

I do like the matching shoes.

In this one I am thinking, "Hmm. Not so sure about all this picture stuff."
Here the dress is tied in the back. I like it better that way, but the picture on the pattern envelope looked so good!  Things don't always turn out the way it is pictured on the envelope.

The dress and hat have large size rick rack trim.

The hat is reversible but I really like wearing the matching side underneath, as you will see in the video.

This is the hat pattern:

In my early days of sewing there were patterns for what we called "frocks" that were so simple they could be sewn in a matter of hours. The sleeves were already on the pattern piece. Some of these patterns were described as "one hour" or "two hours" and many of us as teenagers had the time and freedom to do just that. Because these dresses were so plain, we used colored rick-rack to embellish the hems and sleeves, the necklines or the front of the dress.  Rick-rack was about the only fancy trim we knew about, and I still enjoy using it, especially with gingham.
This is a sketch of those plain, two-pattern-piece dresses, including a drawing of the way it was placed on the fabric.

They were so easy to sew, we got in the habit of sewing untill the garment was finished, so we could wear it the next day.

Here is a video explaining some things about the dress, hat, and things of interest to those who sew, or who just want to see how much I aged  since the last video was so long ago ;-) By the time I got ready to make a video the light was nearly gone and that is why my eyes look so blurry and dark. I am still recording from an old laptop, and not a phone, so the quality is not as I would like it.

I do not usually wear black, but I enjoy wearing this outfit.

Thank you to the two dear sweet ladies who sent me contributions I hope to have more to show you soon, and perhaps do an instructional video. I haven't sat still long enough to learn how to do that yet.

Expenses for this outfit:

Hat interfacing: heavy craft iron-on - 1/2 yard  approximately $2.00 (left over from other projects)
Rick-rack trim: 1 package $2.00. I used half the package.
Black check gingham cotton fabric: 4 yards - $28.00
22 inch zipper - $2.50
Thread: $2.00
Shoes: $1.00 (end of season, soft cloth shoe sale)

Total cost: $37.50

This was twice as much as I usually spend to sew an outfit but I wanted the cotton gingham, which is now very hard to find in stores. I was happy to get it and it was high quality, so much that it was very easy to sew. I am hoping to buy higher quality fabric in hopes the sewing machine will work a lot better.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Arc de Triomphe

Hello Dear Friends,  
This is the Arc de Triomphe, an entrance to the city of Paris...

...and this is my arc entry  between the front yard and the back yard.

 It is made of lightweight vinyl. To keep the wind from blowing it into the next farmer's field I weighted the flower boxes with rocks and bricks.

I have not shown this on the blog before. It has been in  a box for awhile. Mr. S. finally got around to putting it together, but the instructions had been lost. I'm happy with the results, although some areas had to be duct taped. Bungee chords and plaster came in handy too. So far, those repair products do not come in decorator colors, but we found some in white.

If you get one of these, make sure to get one that is not as flimsy. It also looks good near the front door or back door., and many other places.

We have never been through the Arc de Triomphe but we sure enjoy walking through this arch.

It is just for show, and the only cars that will pass through it will be the kiddie cars and bikes. 

We have moved it to several places already but settled on this one because we can see it when we drive into the driveway after being out. It makes us feel like we are coming back to somewhere more important.

I feel so fine and regal  walking through this with Mr. S. We think we live in a castle on a great estate. He suggested I make a dress to "go with." Now he is really catching on to my sewing lifestyle.


 Hello Everyone,  Before I begin my day of sewing, which will isolate me in the back room of the far end of the house, I'm sharing a few things with you. These are the Italian plums, which, when you shine them on your shirt, reveal a deep purple. I love that frosty glaze on them, do you?

My senses seem to take wings and fly with the fuel of euphoria when I stand under a tree and look up at the fruit.  It is an experience I share with my visitors that use those guest rooms.

Hobby Lobby had an unadvertised sale on knobs for 99 cents.  For decades I had kicked myself for losing the finials on the footboard of Grandma's bed. which is in one of the guest rooms. I used two of these to temporarily fill that gap, because they were almost the same size, square at the ends.  They look like coach lights.

The tea table is ready for company...

...and this is the current condition of the sky in these parts...

Below is another guest room. I moved the outdoor table set in there to protect it from the corrosion over the winter.  I know these things are considered weather-proof, but the wind, rain, ice, etc. does wear out the finish, and I think its a cute addition to the guest room.

One of the comments had a suggestion to put shutters on the windows of the Manse to make it look more cottage-y, and this is what I did:

These are metal scroll decorative things from Hobby Lobby. I hope you can see them better in this picture. I see I need to paint them a bit darker to match the house trim, which is called "English Meadows" so if the weather remains dry, that is what I will be doing.

This may seem odd, but the old tub that has been here since 1960 was rusted so much on the outside, that I grew weary of putting different cleaning and anti-rust products on it. Finally I spray painted it. Now I can keep the curtain open a little and not be hiding that eyesore. 

I got the inspiration for this from a picture I framed (from a magazine) a few years ago and hung in my bathroom:
 I also had a container from one of those bath stores (years and years ago), that I hung on to for years and years, which also matches the picture. 

It is impossible to replace these outdated things like tubs and sinks from the last century,  because of the size, the way it was put in, and connected, etc. so I've found that paint is my easiest tool to update things. Unless something is actually broken, and it still functions well, I generally do not replace it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Vinedresser


Mr.S. has a new interest: training the grapevines to go around the arbor.  As you know, someone left a metal wedding arch after the last wedding, because they did not want it. We tried to give it away and even sell it but no takers. Now those vines are eagerly creating the most wonderful nature decor. Mr. S. goes outside every day and tends to the tendrils of the grapevines, putting them gently on the trellis.

He also hung a round solar light which looks so nice at night. I hope you can see it; the white globe in the middle of the trellis.

I am sharing some sewing tips. Every stitcher has her ways, and one thing I do is put the pattern and the cut out fabric inside a large zip-lock plastic bag, just to keep the mess together; no missing facings here!

After the sewing project is completed, I put the pattern pieces in the bag, as they rarely fit back in the envelope even when ironed, and this way it keeps the pattern envelope from getting torn.  I have several of these unfinished dresses. When the item has been sewn,   I use the bag again for something else, so it is not a big expense. Most of my patterns are in plastic bags like this.

This pattern is McCalls 8131 from 1996 in case you are wondering.

Also I  had a bit of a delight finding this pair of matching cloth covered shoes, for $1.00 at Walmart. You are going to ask me if I can wear them, due to their structure. No, they are just for the photograph when I model the finished garment, and yes, I can put shoe cushions inside them and wear them  to any place where I won't be walking in them much, like church. They are not for hiking or gardening. 

This hair band from Dollar Tree is a perfect match and will save me some time sewing one. Maybe I'll get the dress done sooner.

Regarding the fabric, I want you to know I bought it a year ago and am just now getting time to sew it. While looking at some ladies videos I discovered they were wearing black check fabrics, and now it is really a big thing. Hobby Lobby is selling black check autumn decor, including decorative pumpkins. But when I first began this project, black check was not a trend yet.  The pattern from 1996 shows a black gingham dress. That was over 20 years ago. I am just so far behind, the trend for black gingham recycled itself to the modern age. 

I regret I have not finished sewing the dress. Hopefully the next post will show the completed garment, if I have a photographer, and if none can be recruited, then it will be on the dress form. I hope to make a purse and a hat, also.  I better get busy now. 

Gingham (checkered) pumpkins from Hobby Lobby.

Thank you for your visit and your comments.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

September is Pear Month (Northern Hemisphere)

Catherine Klein 1861-1929

Above: My Bosc Pears in Grandma's bowl, teacup in mismatched cup and saucer, with tissue paper carnations.

Mr. S. informed me yesterday of Pear Month, which I had no knowledge of, so this morning I'm posting one of Catherine Klein's pear paintings, and photos of my pears. 

As I have mentioned previously, I joined an online homemaking coach, which is from the old SHE program back in the 70's. I want to share what came today on email, because it was so true and so cleverly written:

Yes,  it addresses the problem of the "selfish house guest."  I agree: we would not endure a selfish house guest as long as we endure the one that lives in our homes right now--clutter and disorganization, accumulated grime, etc! It stays with us so long, we get accustomed to it, and accept it, erstwhile becoming more nervous and high strung, yet not knowing why.

I also want to share a tiny guest room I have fixed up (the best I can, with its limitations) using toile fabric. It was a no-sew project. I've had these swaths of cloth on my living room couch and chairs in the past, and now I am using them in this little room. 

The wall accessories came from various places over the years (I do not want to say how many years ago!) such as Goodwill, Walmart and Given-to-Me.

 I have not measured the space in this room but it seems to be about 6 feet by 5 feet. 

One of my grandsons made the "catch" of fish hanging there, with scraps of cloth. 

This room has been a boys room most of the time.

This is another small room, a bit bigger than the boys room, which I have been cleaning up and working on. I've used some old bedding from the 1980's.  It just won't wear out, so I have not got anything new for it. The room is stuck-in-time; preserved history ;-) It is also my sewing room, but I have not finished cleaning it up so I can't show you the other side.  Its all about editing and only presenting it in a good light and never letting you see the real mess ;-). I don't want to depress you.

We spent a few moments in our "outdoor room" ....

... and enjoyed the shadow on the wall from the little birdcage hanging in the living room window:

This pictorial tour does not include the hidden messes in other rooms that I need to work on. It is time to get back to the mounds.

Someone gave me the most delightfully scented "crisp apple" candle, and the aroma makes some of the huge tasks a lot more pleasant.
I lit the candle for the photograph, but ever since I got this candle, all I have had to do for scent is leave the jar open when I want to enjoy it.

The brand is "Hannah's At Home."  I might look for a pear scent in this brand. It certainly does give the home a wonderful inspiring uplifting atmosphere, when the lid is removed, and not lit.

I am also celebrating the new Spring season in Australia. I decided to ignore the impending darkness and harsh cold season above the equator  and enjoy the Australian spring below the equator instead.  You probably wonder how I can do that. Well, I got so behind on my summer sewing, that I have to start now, and it is easier to stay in the mood to sew summer clothes if I am just starting summer.

Congratulations to the Australians for their Spring.  I feel your joy.