Friday, January 23, 2015

To-do 2015-01-23

Now I'm just writing notes to myself:

Almost completed: 1) Volkswagen camper pillowcases

To-do, miscellaneous:
1) Tablecloth: Red milk-cap print;
2) Tablecloth: Hallowe'en print, and then the scraps go in the box for the black quilt.
3) Mardi Gras costume for Jeannie the Doll
4) Two yoked prairie dress wearable muslins:  Simplicity 9778 (1971) and one of the round-yoked patterns, probably Marian Martin 9175 (1979), using the two Joann scattered floral calicos.

2015 dress projects:
1) January: Hollywood 1944 1411 Christmas dress (done!)
2) February: DuBarry 1943 5612Valentine's princess dress
3) March: DuBarry 1944 5986 St. Patrick's Day dress
4) April: Marian Martin 1942 9928 Telephone Girl/Easter-ish
5) May: Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France drop-waist dress in the Moda umbrella fabric.  This should be an easy project if I can just get to it.
6) June: Pick up New York 1950's 1490 again.
7) July: New York 1950's 1490 sundress

To-do, longer term:
1) T-shirt quilts
2) Endless dirndl skirts
3) New office jacket.  Elbow blew out of mine this week and it's really not presentable any more.  I've ordered the pattern I want but I need to find suitable wool.
4) David Bowie French bulldog nightshirt

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The plan was to spend most of the weekend sewing.  That didn't quite happen, but it didn't totally not happen, either.  We take what we can get around here.

Mom felt badly that we were using up the holly flannel pillowcases she had made to go with my Christmas quilt.  I had a lot left over from the nightgown so I made two new pillowcases out of that, to put away for later.

I went to Joann to look for the postage-stamp print flannel they have online.  They didn't have it, but they did have--are you sitting down?--David Bowie French bulldogs:

I mean--what the almighty heck is that?

On the other hand: Who cares?

I bought out the bolt.  I need a pillowcase.  And pajamas.  And to hoard the scraps like pirate's gold.  Because OMG freaking awesome.

The girl at the cutting table sadly announced over the PA that the "David Bowie Frenchies have left the building".  She said it was her favorite print in a long time.

It will be a nightshirt: McCall's 7341 (1980):

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Flannel was on sale so I got an end-of-bolt of Volkswagen campers.  It's short so I need to get some solid to make contrast cuffs, but it's nice, soft, thick, flannel, it's Volkswagens, and it's cute in a sloppy, "I don't really understand midcentury design" kind of way:

This print, though, does understand midcentury design.  Huge dirndl skirt, here we come!

White blouse, black cardigan, black heeled loafers, amirite?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I had to sew later:

But she finally did let me finish the Christmas pillowcase for the mini-pillow.

Cookies and bread pudding

I had a birthday party to go to on Saturday and promised to bring cookies.

We got this recipe for cornmeal cookies off of a bag of cornmeal sometime around 1994 and it quickly turned into a much-requested standby:

They're homely little things but they taste awesome.  I prefer them without raisins, but only because I don't like raisins baked into things in general.

I also hauled out the recipe for sour-cream sugar cookies that came from Mom's Amish cookbook (Recipes from Quilt Country, I think).  I forgot to get sour cream so I used one single-serve of lemon Greek yogurt plus enough plain Dannon to make one cup.  It worked fine.

The only mishap was that I forgot how much they spread--they spread a lot--and they spread over the edge of the cookie sheet, dripping onto the bottom of the oven and setting it on fire.  Doh!  Smoked sugar cookies!

I used the leftover lemon glaze from the lemon-blueberry bread on them:

These are plain little drop cookies, too, but they're a very nice texture.  Kind of fluffy.

We had a loaf of Wolferman's cranberry and citrus English muffin bread dying slowly in the fridge so I used it to re-try my bread pudding recipe.  I haven't made this in ages and sometimes recipes aren't the way you remembered them, right?

Since this was a sweet, flavored, bread, I cut the sugar back to 1/4 cup (which I think turned out to be plenty sweet), reduced the cinnamon and nutmeg by half, and added half a teaspoon of almond extract.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.  I had to bake it longer: 45 minutes, turn, 15 minutes, turn, 15 minutes.  My oven is old.  I think that's a 1 1/2-quart Pyrex.

Mispickel approved:

To-do 2015-01-20

1) Three miniature Christmas stockings
2) Christmas pillowcase for small pillow
3) David Bowie French bulldog pillowcase
4) Holly flannel pillowcases to match Christmas quilt

Almost completed:
1) Volkswagen camper pillowcases

1) Tablecloths: Red milk-cap print; Hallowe'en print
2) Revisit DuBarry 1943 5612 - Valentine's Day dress
3) Mardi Gras costume for Jeannie the Doll
4) Two yoked prairie dress wearable muslins:  Simplicity 9778 (1971) and one of the round-yoked patterns, probably Marian Martin 9175 (1979), using the two Joann scattered floral calicos.

To-do, longer term:
1) DuBarry 1944 5986 - St. Patrick's Day dress.  Started this awhile ago but then set it aside.
2) Pick up New York 1490 again.
3) Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France drop-waist dress in the Moda umbrella fabric.  This should be an easy project if I can just get to it.
4) T-shirt quilts
5) Endless dirndl skirts
6) New office jacket.  Elbow blew out of mine this week and it's really not presentable any more.  I've ordered the pattern I want but I need to find suitable wool.
7) David Bowie French bulldog nightshirt

Friday, January 16, 2015

To-Do List

1) Hollywood 1944 1411 - Christmas dress
2) Butterick See N Sew 2006 B4903 - flannel nightgown

1) Three miniature Christmas stockings
2) Christmas pillowcase for small pillow
3) Revisit DuBarry 1943 5612 - Valentine's Day dress
4) Mardi Gras costume for Jeannie the Doll
5) Two yoked prairie dress wearable muslins:  Simplicity 9778 (1971) and one of the round-yoked patterns, probably Marian Martin 9175 (1979), using the two Joann scattered floral calicos.

To-do, longer term:
1) DuBarry 1944 5986 - St. Patrick's Day dress.  Started this awhile ago but then set it aside.
2) Pick up New York 1490 again.
3) Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France drop-waist dress in the Moda umbrella fabric.  This should be an easy project if I can just get to it.
4) T-shirt quilts
5) Endless dirndl skirts
6) New office jacket.  Elbow blew out of mine this week and it's really not presentable any more.  I've ordered the pattern I want but I need to find suitable wool.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DuBarry 5612 (1943) Valentine Dress: Part III

Restarting this.  I found the fabric.  The test pattern did pretty well last year.  Ha, ha. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Butterick See & Sew 2006 B4903 Part 1

Listening: Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy (2014).  This is as close to a full-blown old-time album as I ever expect to see in mainstream music.  It's been nominated for a folk Grammy.  I've heard grumblings that it should be in Americana (which would be fine) or bluegrass, but it's totally not bluegrass.  
I saw OCMS live years ago when they were just starting to be seen by the general population.  They were OK.  My brother liked them and I at least didn't hate them, so they were something we could listen to when we were together.  Live, they were a bunch of obnoxious little boys putting on fake accents--I guess because they were in Texas?  I don't know.  They have gotten to be so much better since then.

A cold snap blew in last night so I got motivated and started the flannel nightgown I meant to make before Christmas.

Nothing much to see here, folks.  Just a baggy yoked nightgown.

I'll probably cut it in a length in between the two shown there--the short one is a bit short, but the long one looks kind of unwieldy.  I've already reduced the sleeve circumference from 18 1/2 inches, finished, to 15 3/4, because OMG so much sleeve:

I'm doing cuffs instead of the elastic wrists-with-ruffles thing.

Holly-print flannel, which matches the back of my Christmas quilt:

And obnoxiously matchy buttons!

I'll probably do a plain neck, too, unless I find a small piece of eyelet I really want to use up.  I know I have cream-colored eyelet but I don't think I have white and I'm not in the mood to buy more just for this.

I copied the pattern last night.  Should be able to start cutting fabric tonight.  This should be a quick project that doesn't need a lot of finishing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy [slightly belated] 2015

Listening: Bottle Rockets "Get Down, River".

A lot of stuff and yet nothing specifically happened over the holidays.  Nothing big.  I did finish Hollywood 1411 but not in time for Christmas, of course, so it hasn't been worn yet.  Ha.  I managed to injure my foot.  It's not serious but it's pretty gnarly-looking and the doctor gave me some ointment for it, so I spent a lot of time going shoeless.  (Healing nicely.  Still kind of gross, but much less gross than it was on Wednesday.)

I don't really do resolutions because I feel that I don't live up to enough expectations as it is, but my non-resolutions include getting out more, being more disciplined about my crafts, learning new stuff at work (I'm looking at you, encoded archival description), and playing more music.

Hey, cat--you're still on the table.  Nice try, though.

The half-circle shawl is marching right along:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hollywood 1944 1411 Christmas dress, Part IV

I spent Christmas hanging out with a friend who was in town housesitting for his mom.  Not doing Christmas things, but that's fine.  

HEB has special edition vanilla cokes.  I haven't tried them yet because I didn't put any in the fridge right away, but their cane-sugar cokes are usually pretty good.

I needed a new sewing kit.  They now sell these in small tins, I guess for travel kits?  (This is a sewing insider joke, by the way.  We wonder why so many people have cookies in their sewing tins.)

Some horses, with an artsy-fartsy filter.  These guys don't all have names yet, I'm afraid:

I did get a little sewing done!  Wednesday, I got motivated and knocked out a fly for the skirt of the dress (this is turning out to be a "Christmas dress" in the sense that I worked on it during winter holidays.  Whatever.  I'm OK with that).

I did this exactly the same way I'd do a placket, except with an extra flap on the right-hand side of the dress for the buttons (the outer flap will cover and hide them):

The interior and exterior flaps:

Mispickel helpd:

The flaps set (the outer flap is pinned open so I could do the buttonholes.

With the ends turned inward so I could sew them down.

The fly from the outside:

The dress with the skirt attached.  I haven't finished the lining of the inset belt yet.  (Actually, as I type this I realize I forgot to put interfacing in it, so I guess I'll be hand-finishing skirt seams today at lunch instead of doing the belt lining.  Oops.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hollywood 1944 1411 Christmas dress, Part III

Well, I had a bit of a sewing scare the other night when I discovered that the inset belt and the bodice didn't match up.  At all.  Like, inches of difference.

I measured and remeasured and measured the pattern pieces and laughed until I thought I'd cry.  And then I shoved it aside to work on later when I was in less of a panic.

Finally, it dawned on me that I had only graded the inset belt up one size instead of two.  Can I get a forehead slap?  Guess what?  That fixed it.  I attached the bodice last night:

I had to tweak the darts in the back of the skirt slightly--I'll have to fix this on the paper pattern, too--so they would match the bodice darts, and I still have to figure out the fly in the front.  It's shaping up.  Will likely end up being a post-Christmas dress but whatever. 

1940's Christmas prints

We have two old wool blankets that my grandmother covered in printed cotton, I guess to make them less itchy.  The newer one is pink and white stripes.  The older one has two red and green on beige (even before it was aged, I assume) on both sides: Poinsettias on one side and deer on the other.

I would love to see these reprinted.  Somebody suggested Spoonflower and I think I might have to look into it even though it's expensive.

The poinsettias:

The deer.  I've always thought of them as reindeer but I guess they aren't, necessarily.  But they're still cute:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Half-circle or half-octagon shawl: Pattern-ish

There isn't really a pattern pattern to this, but I'm going to post the general directions.

(So far.  It's about half as long as it needs to be, so about 1/3 of the way done.)

Alethea Drexler, November 2014, edited December 2014

I knit this in stockinette with a five-stitch garter edge, but you could do all garter if you wanted, or whatever else you like.  This “pattern” just gives you the basic guidelines.

Yarn and needles: I used Aran/worsted/4 weight yarn and a US 8 36-inch circular needle.  Since this is a shawl, though, gauge is not that important.  You’ll need as much yarn as you need to make the shawl as big as you want (sorry, I knit this with a zillion partial skeins left over from other projects.  I’ll have to correct this once I’ve weighed the finished shawl).

You’ll need six stitch markers.

My increases were knit front-and-back (KFB), which creates an increase without creating a hole.  Feel free to do yarn-overs, pick up and knit the stitch in between, whatever you want.  You just need an increase.

Garter tab cast-on:
Cast on three stitches.  Knit all on both sides until you’ve knit an additional nine rows.
Pick up an additional eight stitches down the side and around the other end of the garter tab (= 11 stitches on your needle)

Beginning phase (the underlined K1 is the stitch between the markers):
Row 1: Knit 2, PM, K1, PM, K2, PM, K1, PM, K2, PM, K1, PM, K2 = 11 stitches
Row 2: Knit 5, purl 1, knit 5
Row 3: K1, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K1, SM, K1, SM, K1, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K1 = 15 stitches
Row 4: Knit 5, purl 5, knit 5
Row 5: K1, KFB, K1, SM, K1, SM, K2, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K2, SM, K1, SM, K1, KFB, K1 = 19 stitches
Row 6: Knit 5, purl 9, knit 5
Row 7: Knit all
Row 8: Knit 5, purl 9, knit 5
Row 9: Knit 1, KFB, K1, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K2, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K2, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K1, KFB, K1 = 27 stitches
Row 10: Knit 5, purl 17, knit 5
Row 11: Knit all
Row 10: Knit 5, purl 17, knit 5

From now on, you repeat the following four lines until the shawl is as big as you want.  Then you do a garter edge (continuing the increases on Row 1) as wide as you want it, and bind off.

Row 1: K1, KFB, K to stitch before first marker, KFB, SM, K1, SM, K to stitch before second marker, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K to stitch before last marker, KFB, SM, K1, SM, KFB, K to last two stitches, KFB, K1
Row 2: Knit 5, purl to last 5, knit 5
Row 3: Knit all.
Row 4: Knit 5, purl to last 5, knit 5

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pattern dating: Sometimes you just plain need luck

There are lots of times I wish I could actually get paid to do stuff like this. I mean, I do, kind of, but, darn it--isn't there some clothing museum somewhere that needs me?

Dating patterns is an ongoing issue (well, for those of us who care). McCall['s] has been good about dating since the 1920's, and Simplicity did for a little while in the 1940's, but most patterns before the 1980's didn't have dates on the envelopes. Most postal stamps on bulk rate didn't have dates, either, and catalogs weren't meant to last forever and are kind of hard to get.

I got this on eBay. 

The style alone puts it between about 1917 and 1921 (mail-order patterns were frequently not the cutting edge of fashion). It does not have a mailer, but the collar piece has been re-cut out of newspaper and, based on the place names, it appears the pattern resided in the Chicago area--it mentions the Academy of Sciences at Lincoln Park and the Norwood M.E. Church.

This also allowed me to date it: There is a mention of rolling bandages for the Red Cross, although that could take place even in peacetime. Several events--sewing circle, PTA meeting--are expected to take place on Thursday, March 21, which narrowed down the year since March 21 won't be on a Thursday every time.
Finally, there is a partial obituary for an "Oscar W. Peter---", who was born on [month] 8, 1895. A quick check turned up an Oscar W. Petersen (December 8, 1895 in Denmark - March 19, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois), and the street address matches.

So now we know: 1918, or close enough.   

I do plan to make this at some point.  I'm so far behind on projects it's laughable, but I kind of love it.  I have a fabric I like but my yardage is short and it's out of production (of course).  My hope is that if I make all the facings, collar, and cuffs, out of something else, I'll be able to squeeze the dress out of it.

DS Quilts Daisy Mae striped check in dark gray:


Vintage Pattern Dating Project on Flickr.  Please contribute, if you have a Flickr account!

Hollywood 1944 1411 Christmas dress, Part II

Cut skirt pieces last night.  The bodice doesn't fit the waistband, though, so I have to go back and figure out what happened there.  I also have to go tonight and get a little more fabric for sleeves.  Doh!  Well, that's what I get for reusing fabric.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wing-it project: Cat bed cover

Mispickel has her own chair in the kitchen.  Theoretically, it's supposed to keep her from stealing our chairs.  That doesn't work, of course, because she's a cat and they never want anything that wasn't already yours, but she does like to sit in her own chair and watch the birds at the feeder in the backyard.  Cat television.  (She's indoor only.  The birds are in no danger, at least not from her, but they're entertaining.)

We've had an old fleece blanket folded up on the seat as a cushion, but it slides off all the time.  Sometimes she sleeps on the blanket on the floor, which seems kind of pathetic.

So, for Christmas, I got her a cat bed and then made a cover for it that could be tied to the chair to keep it in place.  It's washable, too, of course.

The step-by-step Flickr set is here.  The basic idea is to cut one circle--actually two overlapping panels--for the bottom, and then a larger circle for the top, and gather the top onto the bottom with straps set into the seam.  It took me about an hour and a half, some scrap fabric and old bias trim for the bottom and straps, and a minkee remnant from Joann's for the top.  

And, of course, it could be made without the straps if you just wanted a cover for your cat bed.

Hollywood 1944 1411 Christmas dress, Part 1.5

I flatter myself that I'm getting a little faster and less haphazard at this alteration and sewing business.  Ha, ha.

I started the Christmas dress this weekend.  It had to be graded up two sizes, have an inch of width added to the upper back, and have the bodice lengthened quite a bit (I discovered after doing a muslin). 

The concept looks like this.  I'm still debating full-length buttons versus bodice-only buttons, but I suspect it will be bodice-only as that looks a little more formal.  Ordinarily, a bodice-only-buttoning dress would then have a side zipper but I'm going to do a placket or fly in the skirt so I don't interfere with the side-seam pockets, and because the print is so dark it won't be obvious.  It will also save me fabric yardage, since I'm eking this out of pre-used fabric (I'd say channeling Scarlett O'Hara except I hate that book/movie.  Yeah, I said it).

The sleeves are going to be slightly belled and then gathered into cuffs with nonfunctional buttons.  That's not correct 1940's but I wanted a little bit more drama.  Also, I wanted more buttons.  The dress fabric is very dark and I think it needs both the extra red trim and the extra buttons--I'm planning to use plain gold--to brighten it without being really silly.

Of course, I'm a genius and I mis-cut the bodice.  It was half an inch short down both sides of the front opening.  Because I'm working with limited fabric and because sometimes I do jackass stuff like this, I totally fixed it by adding narrow strips down the front.  

This, friends and neighbors, is why dark, busy, small-scale prints are awesome.  It's even less obvious in real life.  Furthermore, it will be under the buttons.  Nobody's looking at your hackneyed piecing if you have gold buttons.

The bodice so far doesn't look like much, but it fits acceptably and I'm well on my way.

I brought the sleeve pattern to alter today at lunch, and I have to do just enough finishing that I can attach the sleeves and inset belt later.
Unfortunately, the office party is tomorrow and, even if I don't seam-finish, I doubt I can get it done by then.  I thought it was Wednesday.  Darn.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Amish hairpins: Maiden voyage

Here goes!

I obviously need some practice wrapping a braid up, but whatever.  So far, so good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I'm old enough to remember the Cabbage Patch Wars.  Moms allegedly duking it out over stuffed dolls in toy-store aisles across the country.  I'm not sure how much of that really happened, but I do remember that Cabbage Patch Kids were really popular, really scarce, and, by some standards, really expensive.

My parents were moderates when it came to commercial toys.  They didn't like us to have a lot of toys that did everything for us, but they weren't vehemently opposed to toy fads, either.  We had Go-Bots and Transformers and a Voltron.  I had a set of Robotix.  I'm totally dating myself now, aren't I?  Ha.

But Cabbage Patch Kids were out of reach, at least during the first wave of popularity.  Mom, though, is pretty crafty, so she bought heads and made her own.

This is Patty.  Patricia Noel (I didn't know "Noelle" was the girls' version).  She was a Christmas gift in 1982.  My brother has a blond boy doll.

The teddy bear was a gift from an ex-boyfriend.  No hard feelings, though.

The heads were sold in little boxes at Toys R Us.  The store would stack the boxes in big cubes in the front of the store.  I would do almost anything now to have a picture of one of those cubes of doll heads--they were both hilarious and unspeakably creepy.

I only found out recently that Patty and Douglas are Martha Nelson Thomas Original Doll Babies, and that they're debatably the older siblings of Cabbage Patch Kids. 


I'm not ready to declare this a success yet because I've only tried it once, and once is not a good sample size, but . . . bun!

Also, do not comment on my wallpaper.  I tell myself that if I wait a little longer, Eighties retro will become a thing and it will be acceptable.

Super-messy bun, yes, but it was a first attempt and I didn't even brush my hair or put it in a ponytail first.  I just wound it up, rolled it, and skewered it with five or six of the tiny miracles that are Amish hairpins:

I'm actually afraid to try it again for fear this was a fluke and they won't actually hold that well ever again.  Seriously.  I have never been able to put my hair in a bun except with one of these:

You put your hair through, roll it up, bend the thing, and hook the ends together.  They work, but they work less well when your hair outgrows your arm length, and it's tricky to get hair rolled evenly, especially at the sides.  They pull on your hair and scalp, too, and I cannot imagine they're not ridiculously damaging.

My hair is mid-back length and moderately thick/dense--long but not exceptional--but it's also completely straight, very fine and soft, and slippery.  My friends who wear buns easily all have hair that is at least somewhat wavy or curly, and more wiry than mine.  Mine is all weight and no structure so it doesn't help support itself.  It doesn't hold a curl.  And nothing stays in--not bobby pins, not barrettes, sometimes not even ponytail holders.

I cannot be the only person in history, though, to have hair like this, and generations of pre-20th century women had to put up long hair with . . . something.  They didn't get a pass to wear long braids well into adulthood just because they had limp hair that wouldn't behave, right?  I think I might finally "get" how this worked.

If it does work as well as it appears it might, I'm going to regret that I don't need a whole lot of them because I want to make sure the company stays in business!  These are from Fischer's Wire in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and I got them through--hilariously--Amazon.

More on Amish hairpins at Humblebee.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas sewing 2014

I'm hitting Full Disorganization Mode here.

I found the Christmas fabric I got on sale ages ago and made a tablecloth this weekend, but it's too dark.  The fabric is nice--dark holly print with little red berries--but it basically looks black on the table.  I have other Christmas fabric, though, so . . . moving on.

The Thanksgiving dress didn't happen.  It's still on the list but has been temporarily supplanted by:

1) New tablecloth
2) Cover for cat bed.  I got Mispickel one of those round beds with the stuffed bumper sides.  I'm going to make a cover with ties so we can tie it to her favorite chair in the kitchen, so it won't slide off all the time.  And so we don't have to wash the actual bed all the time.
3) Flannel pajamas.
4) (Are you laughing yet?) Christmas dress.  Repurposing the dark tablecloth using . . . probably Hollywood 1411 (1944-1945):

The fabric is similar to this (I don't have an actual picture.  You get an idea of the color, though):

I already have plans to do this in a brown calico with rose trim so I want to make sure I tweak it a little.  Even though it doesn't get really cold here, it's still a winter dress, so I think a higher neckline and longer sleeves are in order.  I'm not really feeling the scalloped pockets, either.  Gold buttons?

The belled sleeves aren't very properly 1940's, but they're not huge, and they look a little more festive than plain straight sleeves.

I need to grade it down one size, but that's actually easier because I don't have to do the whole skirt (I'm an 18 below the waist, so I only have to trim the pieces between the hip and waist, not resize them completely), and since I'm long-torsoed I don't have to shorten the bodice.  I can leave the upper back bodice at the larger size rather than doing a broad-back alteration, and it already has shoulder darts so I only have to resize them, not add them.