Thursday, October 30, 2014

Butterick 4948 Belle France 1983 drop-waist dress - black floral, Part II

Listening: Old-time mix on Spotify

Crunch time!

Seriously, it will be a miracle if I get this done and get any sleep tonight.  I'm so unrealistic about sewing projects and time constraints.

I got the skirt attached last night.

 I still need to do:

1. Front facings on skirt opening.
2. Hem (facing or tape, and the hem itself)
3. Finish side seams.
4. Finish pocket seams.
5. Sleeves
6. Buttonholes
7. Buttons

I think I can get the pocket seam finish done today at lunch.  It's a little thing but every little bit helps, right?

Update: Painted fingernails!  I actually bought a new polish last night; black with purple glitter, but I wanted something more subtly creepy so I went with OPI "Planks A Lot", also known as "cyanosed lilac".  I looked for something a little darker and slightly grayer, but nobody has anything like that right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Butterick 4948 Belle France 1983 drop-waist dress - black floral, Part I

Listening: "Long May You Run" by Emmylou Harris

Reading list: Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart.


I've deluded myself into thinking I can get this done for Friday.  Right.  I stayed up far too late last night working on it.  I got a lot done--retraced the pattern pieces, cut the bodice, did the darts, did the front facings, started the neck binding, and ran up the side seams--but I've got a long way to go.

It will have short sleeves gathered into cuffs and dark-gray pearl plastic buttons up the front.  I'm not sure yet if it will button all the way or just up the bodice:

It's kind of Wednesday Addams' grunge phase.

Later: Neck binding started.  Didn't get a whole lot done, but that's all right. 

I think it's going to have to unbutton all the way down, too.  I feel like that's more, well, grunge.  If I ever have any tattered lacy underthings, I have to have a skirt to unbutton a bit to let them peek out, right?  So . . . deploy seam ripper.  But only a little; it's not a big setback.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I'm getting ready to go on a short trip this weekend.  Butterick 4948 Cocheco Mills blue is on hold--I suspect that taking the extra width out of the hips was a mistake.  I think it will be OK, but I'll add it back for the next one.  But I have other stuff to do this coming week.  

I'm still looking for my apron fabric but I did find my dark fabrics for the next drop-waist dresses: Black floral, gray and black homespun plaid, and two pieces of dancing skeleton fabric that a friend gave me years ago.  I thought I had about a yard and a half, total, and was trying to figure out how to make that work, but I realized last night that it's closer to two and a quarter yards, most likely.  That is doable.  

I'm still going to do a solid black yoke and skirt band.  I ordered some skull lace but it has to come from Japan so it probably won't be here in time.  I'm also going to try doing cap-style "sleeves"/extended shoulders:

More or less.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Camp Hearne living history day 2014

Saturday was a lovely day for a road trip, so Mom, Dad, and I went out to Camp Hearne to their World War II living history day.  Dad and I went last year.  I paid a $3 donation to crawl around inside a B-25 Mitchell bomber.

This year, we didn't even make it into the museum.  When we arrived, we found that the Graham-Paige car club was there.  Graham-Paiges were only made between 1927 and 1940.

There were only eight cars but one of them was a Blue Streak.  The 1932 Graham-Paige started the trend both in enclosed fenders and in shield-shaped radiators.  The black and silver car also has an 8-cylinder "Blue Streak" engine:

I'm not sure specifically how rare this car is, but my father claims he can "die happy" now that he's seen it.

The Graham-Paige Flickr set is here.

The Commemorative Air Force was back.  This year, they had the B-25 Mitchell again (although the line to go inside was really long) and a P-51 Mustang.  

The clouds were magazine-perfect, by the way. That picture was taken with a small Lumix point and shoot.  No frills.

Mom and I were standing in the shade, watching the Mustang buzz the crowd (yes, they flew it), when Dad ran up and said, "I know what you're getting for Christmas this year!"

What would that be, Dad?

"The last seat on the B-25!"

In retrospect, I'm not sure if they were trying to give me an awesome early Christmas, or trying to get rid of my by sending me up in a seventy-year-old airplane, but I got a forty-minute joyride in a World War II bomber.

They're not big inside, even if you're a six-inch crocheted chicken:

The outskirts of Hearne, Texas, if you were the nose gunner.

More here, including some short videos.

It's a little like flying in a school bus: Mostly like riding in a normal vehicle, only somewhat more rattly and with a lot more engine noise.  You wear radio headsets, partly to save your ears and mostly because you can't communicate otherwise unless you know sign language.  Also: I totally recommend it.  

I came home feeling I need to sew more 1940's dresses. 

Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France #2 Marcus Brothers Chocheco Mill blue calico: Part III

We went on a road trip on Saturday but I did get some sewing done on Sunday evening.

The skirt is attached, and I got the buttonholes sewn.  I have to finish the pocket seams still, and do the sleeves and buttons.  I have a test sleeve to baste today.  I had to piece the fabric but I should have enough.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France #2 Marcus Brothers Chocheco Mill blue calico: Part II

I was working on another version of this using a blue striped sheet.  I didn't like it, though.  I didn't like the fabric, I didn't like the way the dress was shaping up, it was holding up all my other projects because I felt obliged to finish it first.

I gave myself permission to be a quitter.

Sometimes you have to let yourself quit.  This was so not worth the time and effort.  It wasn't even nice fabric.  I threw it in the rag bin and moved on.

So now I'm back to the Cocheco Mills blue version, and things are back on track.  The fabric is nice.  The print is lovely.  It's behaving itself.  I sat down last night and assembled the entire skirt; I just have to finish the pocket seams and gather it onto the dress.  I need to make a sleeve mock-up, too, before I mess with the very-little yardage I have left for the actual sleeves (this is out of print; I can't get more).  But that's cool.  

The hem facing is an old-fashioned star print from Joann's:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France #2 Marcus Brothers Chocheco Mill blue calico: Part I

I'm still working on the blue striped version of 4948, but I started the Marcus Brothers Cocheco Mills blue print one on a whim.  I have barely three yards, though, and I had hoped to make at least short sleeves on it.  I think I can get whole sleeves if I piece them vertically.  I made the front facings and the pockets out of plain navy to save yardage.

 I'm going with plain gold-tone buttons.  I had to order more because Joann's stopped carrying them, and I had to order them directly through Blumenthal Lansing's online shop because apparently plain gold buttons with holes instead of shanks are insanely rare.

I'm shooting for long bishop sleeves, but we'll see if I can scrounge enough fabric to make that happen.

Catching up!

Oh, wow--I had no idea it had been that long.

I've been headache-inducingly busy at work, and that horrible head cold I caught on the plane is taking its dear sweet time to go away; I'm in pretty good shape except for a slight cough, and if that doesn't go away, I'll have to cave in and go to the doctor.  Ugh.

I spent this weekend running errands but finally sat down on Sunday and made an apron.  I got this awful cotton-poly fabric from great-aunt Marian, but somehow it makes a good apron.

One of the interns at work missed a chance a year or so ago to go to Wales, and I promised her Welsh cakes.  They're kind of in between a biscuit and a pancake.  The recipe I had was too buttery, but they were still good:

This past weekend was the Trinity Lutheran Quilt Show.  I made them four charity blocks and donated a bag of scraps.

And I saw the blood moon.  This is from my phone.  My real camera pix, oddly, were even worse.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cornbread and peas

Predictably, I got no sewing done at all this weekend.  I did get a bunch of cleaning done, though, and laundry, and some cooking.

This, folks, is how you cornbread.

Texas Cooking's "Grandma's Buttermilk Cornbread".  This is the real thing: No flour, no sugar.  It will clean your teeth as you eat.

I did it right, melting a spoonful of Crisco in the pan--that's a vintage Wagner, by the way--while I mixed the batter.  You can smell it insta-baking when you pour it in.

Flipped right out:

And then back (onto a Fiesta cake plate):

Of course, if you have cornbread, you need peas to go with it:

1 cup dry peas
3 cups broth, more or less
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/4-1/2 pound ham, diced
water as needed
small amount of oil

Soften onion in a little bit of oil. Add ham and broth and cook a few minutes, then add peas. Cover and cook until done. Keep an eye on the liquid level--the peas need to cook before the liquid can be cooked down.  You probably won't need any salt because of the ham, but pepper to taste.

Serve hot over split cornbread.  Top with chopped tomatoes, onion, diced jalapeƱos, etc.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Simplicity 1981 5330 apron adaptation

I need to get out more.

This weekend is not the weekend, though.

Mispickel has been clingy since I got her back from the kennel and I promised her I'd stay home this weekend, after I run a few errands.  She thanked me by eating a tree roach and then, um, returning it.  She had killer hiccups after that so I ended up sleeping in the master bedroom (not my room) to keep an eye on her.  I wanted to keep her in a smaller space in case she got sick, and her box and water bowl are in the master bathroom, so I camped out. 

She ate like a pig, kept it down at least as long as I was home, and play-attacked my arm this morning so I'm pretty sure she's OK.  I still swore I'd stay in, though, and keep her company.  She hates being alone and three weeks in the kennel must have been a doozy.

I need a new apron.  My current one is actually fine except that it's much too big.  Off-the-shoulder aprons should not be a thing.  I used my mother's copy of McCall's 3063 (1971), but she's quite a bit taller than I am and we're completely different in build.  Mine is the yellow apron in the upper picture, and I made it without buttonholes (I just sewed the straps together).  It's nice not to have fasteners.  But it's huge.  It's large even by large standards.

I have far more apron patterns than I will ever need aprons, but of course none of them are just what I want.  Of course.

I like a fairly loose, free-moving apron that doesn't have a lot of fasteners and long ties, which I think are too much maintenance and make laundering a pain (all that tangling).  I found this 1920's reproduction pattern on eBay.  It's pretty close.  I might make it less straight up-and-down because, well, hips, and I'd make the sides higher because I'm that messy.  I don't need to pay $15 for another yoke and some rectangles, though.  I just made a yoked nightgown:

The fabric will be brown sprigged calico with green trim.  Brown calico because being a veterinary assistant taught me that drab brown patterned fabrics can hide any stain, and green trim because why not?

So I think that's going to be my weekend project.

Laugh if you want, but I'm totally making a test muslin of this, too.  Yes, I've become the kind of person who promises her cat she'll stay home this weekend, and who makes test muslins of baggy aprons.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Refrigerator Soup with Middle Eastern pretensions

When I'm home by myself and don't have to worry about other peoples' eating habits, I get experimental.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  This one worked, mostly.  I was short on chickpeas and zucchini, and I've decided it would be better with maybe some spinach or kale cooked in, but, mostly, it was really good.

All measurements are approximate.  I eyeballed all of it except for things like "1 large onion", which are by definition discreet units.

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground beef (turkey, whatever)
olive oil
garlic to taste (I needed 5 cloves, plus, but mine are frozen.  Fresh probably needs fewer.)
1 can rinsed/2 cups pre-cooked chickpeas
1-2 zucchini and/or yellow squash, quartered and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cups pre-cooked bulgur, rice, or barley
cumin (I needed about a tablespoon, but mine is probably stale)
chili powder (teaspoon or more)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups or so chicken or vegetable broth (I think I started with a 2-cup baggie and added some water.  How much liquid you need is up to you)
Generous shot of lemon or lime juice
Optional: 1/4 cup white wine (I used Rex Goliath pinot grigio, which is honestly very good for a $5 wine)
Optional: Garlic salt (1/2 teaspoon, or to taste. Probably not necessary if your garlic is fresher than mine)

Optional garnish: Cheese. This was feta but cotija, Monterey Jack, etc., would do just as well.

Cook onion in a little oil until softened and translucent. Add meat and brown, crumbling as it cooks. Drain. Chill drippings while you cook the other things, then skim and add the juice back to the pot later, minus the fat.

Pre-cook zucchini if you want. I just added it to the broth but the texture might be better if it were seared a little first.  Add zucchini and precooked grains later so they don't get too soggy.  If you're using it, be sure to add the wine early enough that it has time to cook in so it won't just taste like a slug of raw alcohol in your soup. 

Serve with cheese garnish if you wish, and maybe some bread. That's half a storebought bolillo and more of the pinot in the picture.

This would be fine as a vegetarian soup with more chickpeas and maybe some extra vegetables in place of the meat. I think it needs some spinach or kale or something in it next time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Back again!

Bore da!

Okay, that's pretty much the extent of my Welsh.  I'm back.  I had a great time but it's wonderful to be home, in my own bed, with washcloths and top sheets and other New World innovations.  I'm picking up Mispickel tonight, and we'll see how long it takes her to forgive me.

I have so many pictures to process I hardly know where to begin.  I only had sporadic Internet access so I uploaded the iPhone pix as I went, but there are still many to be uploaded from the camera.

South Wales:

Blaenarfon Iron Works (South Wales): Historic iron works with worker housing restored to represent various eras from 1790 to 1967.

Tintern (Southeast Wales): The Abbey, of course.

Blue stone outcrops: Source of the stone for Stonehenge.

North Wales:


Tre'r Ceiri: 2,000-year-old hill fort near Nan Gwrtheyrn.

St. Beuno's Church, Clynnog Fawr.

Aberdaron: Pre-Gothic church on the Llyn Peninsula.

Penarth Fawr: 15-century farmhouse.

St. Cybi's Well, Llangybi:  "Llangybi" means "Area of Cybi", and the fact that we found the well despite spotty signage by realizing that the town name meant that was my crowning achievement in reading Welsh.  (I don't read Welsh.)  My mother met someone whose grandmother lived in the caretaker's cottage.

Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis: 13th century.

Llanberis Pass and Mount Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa: 3500 feet.  Okay, not exactly Everest, but a good hike.

Porthmadog and the Ffestiniog Railway.

Bardsey Island: Seals!

Nant Gwrtheyrn: Former mining settlement.

Aber Falls: Hobbitses.

Anglesey Island/Ynys Mon:


Penmon Priory.


Tacla Taid ("Grandpa's Attic", more or less) Transport Museum, Anglesey.

Wales: Other.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Frankendress 2014-01 Butterick 1983 4948 and Lecien Chatter Tailors 2000's 2402: Part V

Finished the purple Frankendress this weekend!

My mother says I need to dress more provocatively.  I wish I were joking.

Started another Butterick 4948 adaptation--this one in blue striped bedsheet with buttons down the front.  It will have short sleeves and . . . I'm not sure what kind of neckline.  Maybe a flat collar.

Rather useless pic.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Frankendress 2014-01 Butterick 1983 4948 and Lecien Chatter Tailors 2000's 2402: Part IV

So the sleeve draft was a failure.  I went back to the trace-the-armscye sleeve, cleaned it up, and made a new test sleeve that seems to work.  So on with that.  I'm pretty sick of sleeves at this point.  I do want to try the sleeve draft again sometime, though, to see if I can make it work.

I didn't get any other sewing done this weekend, though.  A long-time friend is moving and I spent most of the weekend loading music into the computer, and then loading a Shuffle for her to take with her (we had a bunch of out-of-production records converted to CD a couple of years ago, so I have a bunch of music that she can't get). 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Frankendress 2014-01 Butterick 1983 4948 and Lecien Chatter Tailors 2000's 2402: Part III Sleeve rough draft

This is a very rough draft of the new sleeve cap, done according to the BurdaStyle directions.  The BurdaStyle draft is mean to be done using a bodice block, not an actual pattern, but since this is a commercial pattern the finished pattern is all I have.  It's not a precision tailoring project, anyway.

I did this on my lunch break and didn't have my curves or anything.  It obviously needs a lot of cleaning up, and it will also need a lot more adjustment.  It's only 13 1/2 inches wide and it needs to be about 16, which will involve spreading the sleeve and lowering the cap (the front of the sleeve is to the right in the picture).  I'm a little skeptical about the degree to which it's slated forward, too, but I guess we'll find out how that goes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Frankendress 2014-01 Butterick 1983 4948 and Lecien Chatter Tailors 2000's 2402: Part II

I did two test sleeves yesterday.  I winged it and drafted the first one by tracing the armscyes from the bodice pattern, which is an idea I got from Sew Store-Bought and have used in the past with a reasonable measure of success.  It worked kind of well this time, except that the whole thing was off balance and basically hung across the grain.  I tried to even things up so the underarm seam would match and the sleeve would hang with the grain of the fabric but I only made it worse. 

So neither sleeve is usable, really.  I'm going to try again tonight to straighten out the first sleeve, but I probably need to actually draft a sleeve based on the bodice again (as seen at Leena's).  I know the cap needs to be off-center for this one.

Since that didn't fly, I went ahead and started the buttonbands last night, so at least I could get ahead on some handwork until I was ready for the sleeves.

Not much to see here.  They'll be topstitched by machine, but I'm turning and doing the inner edge with a ladder stitch first:

Will look more or less like so when they're done:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Frankendress 2014-01: Butterick 1983 4948 and Lecien Chatter Tailors 2000's 2402

The following project has no point.

Well, I guess the point is to produce a dress, but the entire thing is being conducted so haphazardly that . . . I don't know.  Sewing by the seat of my pants.

I have no idea where I got this fabric, probably either from Sheila in Louisiana or at the antique mall.  I never find this much yardage at Goodwill or garage sales.  I think it's an old VIP print

I wanted a loosely fitted bodice so I took the bodice from 4948 . . .

  . . . shortened it, and added darts.

I'm sure this didn't actually make sense but the pattern pieces were already on hand.

I borrowed the skirt from Lecien Chatter Tailors 2402 (2000's?  It might be dated but it's mostly in Japanese so I have no idea):

The skirt is somewhere between a semicircle and a rectangle.  A gently-flared pseudo-rectangle, really.  Nothing special about this except the pattern was nearby and it was slightly faster than eyeballing it myself.

I may also borrow the sleeves from this, or at least the idea of the sleeves.  They're 3/4 length and gathered a little bit into narrow bands.

I already borrowed the bound neckline idea:

It has side-seam pockets and it will have a button band all the way down the front, with pearlescent off-white 3/4-inch buttons.  It should be just below the knee (about the same length as the 4948 flapper dresses; not so long).

(The waistline is a bit raised, and the button band will make the whole thing wider.  It's not as tall and skinny as it seems here.)

Butterick 1983 4948: Finals

The wearable muslin:

The bust darts are way too low--I overcorrected--but I still love this dress.  Ridiculously comfortable.  Really easy to make.

Version 2, made from the Richloom pinks print with red trim.  I raised the waist seam two inches.  The fabric is heavier and stiffer so it stands out around my hips, but I'm OK with that (and it will soften).  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Clare Lee Brick Part IV

Yeah, the neckline is too big.  The fit is good but I'd still like it bigger.  I'm going to finish this one with the frogged yarn from the failed black sweater, and then do another, starting with a small neckline.  Also, four stitches is nowhere near enough to pick up across the underarm; I did eight and there were still gaps.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Butterick 1983 4948 Belle France #2 Part II

Can I choose buttons, or can I choose buttons?

I spent my lunch break marking the skirt and running a gathering thread through it, so I hope I'll have a dress, if not finished, at least almost in one piece soon.