Friday, July 27, 2007

Colonial era costuming

It turns out that we need 5 costumes at work by the 9th of August, so I volunteered to make one. Since we are still planning on doing our traditional craft demos in Sept. in costume, I decided to make something I could wear. McCalls has an excellent pattern from that era, M4863, that has a skirt, tabbed corset, undergown, cap and shawl. Since I already have several chemises, I am making everything except the undergown. I looked over on the McCalls site and did not see a link to the costume, so later on I'll take a pic of the envelope and post it. The corset is covered with topstitching lines that are 3/8 of an inch apart, but only the sides, center front and center back have boning. I am using all those lovely channels and inserting hemp cording which should make it fit well and give it a lot of shape. I've had some experience with hemp boning before and it's wonderful as long as it isn't super hot and humid. I'm thinking that I should be ok at the end of Sept. I'm posting pics of the chemise from a couple of years ago, as well as 2 of the side pieces from the corset. I have 5 pieces sewn and corded, and there are 15 not counting the tabs. I am using a dark reddish brown for the bodice, and a medium brown for

the skirt. The skirt fabric was on the cheap sportswear table and has some slight flaws where it's faded and there is a slight line running through it, but it is 100% cotton which is the important thing. I was originally planning on redyeing it useing the black walnuts from the tree here, but I don't think I have a pot big enough. I might be able to do it in pieces, but I don't think I could get consistent results. If I can find a big enough pot I could maybe put it on the barbeque grill. If it doesn't work out I'll just use Procion or Dylon if don't have any brown in the Procions. I am also posting pics of the chemise, I made the buttons on the cuffs by covering wooden beads with embroidery floss. They are really easy and probably authentic to the period.

On another note, here's a link to I just found out about it yesterday when I was listening to the Thom Hartmann program on the radio. It is unabashedly left leaning. They are not trying to convert anyone to their view point, they are progressives and that's who they are trying to get on the site. They do a news cast every day that is an alternative to the mainstream media. I think I am going to add them to my sidebar links.

Melissa and Gregory are coming in tonight, they have a wedding in Madison on Sunday. We are having a family barbeque tomorrow before they leave to go up there, and Melissa will get to spin on my wheel. She can show me what I can do to get more even yarn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This is an excellent thing to read

I read this article today over on the Energy Bulletin:
I liked it so much that I printed up a copy to throw in my bag and hand to someone if it seems that they might be open to reading it. There has been quite an ongoing discussion between John and I, and sometimes Chris or Siobhan, on what to do in the situation that we now find ourselves; which is watching the dismantling of the constitution by the current administion. My own particular action has been to write my senators and let them know that impeachment cannot be "off the table" as Nancy Pelosi has said it is. I also admire Cindy Sheehan's act of running against Nancy Pelosi. I do feel that the Democrats have not done what they were told to do by the American people. What I don't understand is how it's possible that the majority of the American people are not expressing thier outrage at the disregard this administration has for the constitution and the checks and balances that are supposed to be provided by the other two branches of government. People just don't seem to get it. It seems that as long as they are safe and can keep their own little corner with thier own little pile of stuff, they don't care that the very set of ideals and freedoms that originally allowed the people in this country to build it to what it is (or rather was just a few short years ago), is under attack by the very people whom we have the right to expect to protect those ideals! There is something very wrong here, and I'm afraid if we don't do something soon it may be too late. At what point do people get upset enough to do something? Is it when you can't travel more than 50 miles from your home without proper identification? Is it when there are curfews imposed? I know this sounds crazy, but there has to be some point where people are willing to fight back to regain the freedoms we have lost to King George and Co. If there isn't, will history look back and say that democracy was just one more failed experiment? I can't believe that, I won't believe it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Good bye Mr Checkers

Our sweet little boy guinea pig, Mr Checkers, lost his battle with cancer today. He had one of the sweetest dispositions of all the guinea pigs Siobhan has bought or adopted. He was adopted from the pet store about 3 years ago; he had had an ear infection and Siobhan was happy to make him a part of her guinea pig family. He had a good life, and we were happy to be able to give that to him, although it was not long enough in our minds. It was hard to hold back the tears, even John broke down a little in the car. We will miss the sweet little boy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Clothes pin bag

I told Siobhan I needed a bag to hold clothes pins and she came up with this cute little design. She designed it herself, knitted it in wool yarn and then felted it. I am adding a button so we can button it over the clothes line.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Diary reading and washing machines

I've been reading Martha Ballards diary; I first read Laura Thatcher Ulrich's book A Midwifes Tale years ago. It is diary excerpts and Ms Ulrichs knowledgeable commentary on those excerpts. Well the entire diary is online here: There are scanned images of the actual diary itself as well as a print edition. What really makes a connection for me is the very mundane way she states her life, and how she lived it. Washing, weaving, baking, planting her garden, collecting herbs and plants, and woven in with all the everyday chores is healing and delivering babies. She was called to dress a burn, treat a sore throat, deliver a baby. It's very fascinating reading, and it makes me think of my great grandmother, Josephine Youden whose picture is on this blog today. She raised 7 children without a husband, my great grandfather was lost at sea on the Southern Cross when my grandmother was just 3. She raised her children, baked, grew a garden, spun, knitted, made mats, worked part time in a store to supplement her income, and according to my mother, was a midwife. She practiced her craft just a bit over 100 years after Martha died, but it seems to me that there were probably quite a few similarities. From what I've heard about her, she seems to have been a remarkable woman and I have her picture in my sewing room where I do so many of my own activities. She is an inspiration and I wish I had been able to meet her. She died after I was born, but before I went to Nfld. the first time. If I were to say I felt a tie to any of the women in my past, she would be the one I felt most tied to. The other woman whom I would have liked to have known would have been Anne Newell; she married Ambrose Sparkes when he came over from England, and was the beginning of my mothers line of ancestors. While she didn't move far from her birthplace which was Brigus, actually it was just over the hill, it still couldn't have been easy beginning a new settlement. She had 2 daughters who would have been a help to her, had they lived, but she lost one at birth, and the other when she was just a toddler. She also lost a son when he was just a couple of days old. I feel a bit sorry for her, although her sister married a Penny, I think his name was John, and they settled in Bull Cove, too; she was probably welcome company.

In my own little mundane world, John finally got the washer hooked up, which is cause for celebration. I also have a clothes line, he hasn't tried to hook up the dryer yet. The thought of him doing that unnerves me just a bit, it's a gas dryer and I'm a bit scared he might blow the house up.Anyway, I washed this morning and by the time I got the clothes out it started looking like rain. I hung them out anyway, hopefully the rain will pass by. I think I am going to hang a line in the basement for this very thing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crazy quilt

Well now that I am settled in and have some room I decided to set up the quilt frame with Siobhan's quilt in it. I didn't get much done before because the hoop broke. It is so nice to be able to set the frame up and just leave it. I can move it against a wall when I'm not working on it.

I also found the piece of burlap I drew the mat I am going to hook next. The pics I took didn't come out that well, but they are ok. Since I don't have a hoop this is not something I plan on working on soon. I have plans for a mat frame made from 2x4's and eventually I'll have one of the guys build it for me. I'm not rushing though, I want to get the quilt top done in a few weeks. In the meantime I can plan and maybe start dyeing wool for the scrolls. I saw some done with a sort of reddish brown, and I might do that.

We have had several nice cucumbers from the garden, and the piggies have been eating the lettuce; I didn't pick it soon enough and it was kind of bitter but they like it. The cherry tomatoes are starting to turn red and the zuchinni are almost ripe too. We only had a few strawberries, next year I'll plant more. The bell peppers are starting to get big, too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

IEA study

Well, the IEA has come out with a study that says we are definitly headed for an energy crunch. There are articles on the Energy Bulletin, as well as a link to the pdf file of the actual report: Matt Simmons has some predictions to make about this summer and a gas crunch, they are here:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Still can't type in a title. That's pretty weird.

I made the sweetest pillowcase dress from a vintage pillowcase that was in the bunch of linens Joan gave me. They are the cutest little dresses, and so easy to make. I'd seen them before but never made one. I found directions on how to make them here: The one I made was the 6 month length, but because the neck casing is the same regardless of size, it could be a top for an older child, say a size 2 toddler. It could also be made using fabric, and with different ties, it could be a big girls or even a teens sundress.I have some vintage fabric as well, so I may try one of those.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I don't know what's wrong with blogger today, it won't let me type in a title. Oh well, I guess it isn't important anyway.

I sat down to make a pillow today with some upholstery fabric I have and a pretty image of an angel I printed on fabric, and realized I can't find my big container of thread. I don't know if I actually put it in a box, it was just a plastic drawer full. I can't do much of anything with only a few colors of thread. I need cream or ecru and I don't seem to be able to find any. I listed a couple of pillows in my Etsy store and I wanted to make this one to list too. I have a lot of vintage/cottage style pillows from before. I don't know how they will do on Etsy, I think there tends to be a younger type of person on there, but I figured I'd give it a try. I really would like to get rid of them. I have a ton of vintage linens anyway, and I need to figure out a way to get rid of them. I'd like to make enough money so that going to Nfld. won't be an issue, and so I need to sew enough stuff to keep people interest in my shop. Plus make my costume. I'm about half finished with one of the blackwork ruffles, I'll take a picture when it's done.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Blackwork chemise and other stuff

I finished a leaf on my sleeve ruffle; it's difficult to work on any type of really close work with the lighting being what it is down in the basement. I'm not complaining, I love the amount of space I have, but the lighting is just not good. As soon as I can afford it I want to get some fluorescent lights down here; that's what was in the sewing area at Brandywine and it was much better than this. I did most of this leaf sitting outside before we went to see Heart on Tuesday, and then I finished it up this morning. I have been looking at some of the stuff I made before, and there is a nice doublet I made from a blue-grey cord. I lined it in gold cotton and bound all the edges with black cotton. The sleeves are open from the shoulder but can be pulled and fastened over undersleeves along the length. It's Elizabethan rather than early Tudor, but it definitely would pass as authentic, and although I don't think I need to be really concerned with authenticity for a demo at work, I'd at least like to show more than just a nodding acquaintance with it. I made a skirt to go with it but it looks more like a 19th cent. riding skirt and so I won't wear it. Anyway, the doublet is too big for me now and I'm trying to see if I could adjust it somehow because I really do like it.

Julie and Jason went to Heart, too, and we met up with them. Julie wants a white gauze skirt for when they get married again in Vegas and I'm going to make it for her.
Gaelic Storm is playing at the Irish festival downtown on the 15th, and I really want to go; I've missed them the last 2 times they were here. If you pre-buy tickets they are only $8 but John and Chris have been planning on going to Indiana to play in a hold 'em tournament for awhile. Richard and a couple of other people are going too. I don't see why they can't reschedule going to the tournament since they happen everyday of the week, and Gaelic Storm happens maybe once a year.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


We just got back from seeing Heart at Naperville Ribfest, and they were really good. Not as good as the Doobie Bros last year, but they still kicked ass. They did almost all good stuff, the only song they did that I don't like was Dog and Butterfly. Anyway, I got some decent pics I am posting here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sewing Room

I finally found the camera cord! I am posting pics of the sewing room I am creating; it's still pretty much a mess but I'm working on it. It will still be a while before I have everything where I want it to be. I am also buying a long folding banquet table to sew on.

I also have posted a pic of the blackwork pattern I was thinking of using, it's the top one. I basted a piece of waste canvas to fabric and started it yesterday, but my eyes are not what they once were. I may have to do something else, or work over a larger count waste canvas.

I saw an excellent program on Peak Oil yesterday, it was run on regular TV in Ireland. There were some surprising thing in it; one being that Dublin will soon be the size of LA, but with only 1/4 of the population; another that the Irish drive 30% more than Americans. It really was worth watching.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My computer is back! Yay! and some costuming thoughts

I finally have my computer up and running with internet and the printer hooked up! Yay! I really miss it when I can't use it; John's computer's ok, but I miss my stuff. Especially when I want to make something and I know I have something like it already on my hard drive. Unfortunately I still haven't found the camera cord, but Richard came back from San Antonio last night and said I could borrow back the old camera til I either find or buy a new one. If it was a standard USB cord it would be fine, but it isn't; it's a Fuji camera and one end has a much smaller plug than the other. Maybe later today we can swing by his house and pick it up; I'd like to see his pics anyway. He went to the Alamo and I think it would be a neat place to visit.
We have been talking about doing some kind of re-enactment at work showing different types of textile arts through the ages. I could bring the loom and spinning wheel, and the drop spindle; we could have some one doing embroidery and knitting, and it would be nice to do some sort of dyeing, although I don't think we could because we'd need some sort of heat source. I can't see the landlord allowing us to have a bonfire in the parking lot! I also found my cards for tablet weaving which would be excellent as a project. We could show people how to make the cards, and use that DMC crochet thread that never sells to do the actual weaving with. Anyway, if we do it in late Sept we could all come in costume and it would get people thinking of Halloween. We could all come in what ever era we feel comfortable in, although because of some SCA/Ren Faire costuming I just happen to have on hand a pretty complete mid-Tudor period wardrobe suitable for lower to lower middle class. A lot of the stuff could be altered to fit other people, especially some of the kids if they wanted to be part of it. I know from experience that costuming can get pretty expensive. I'm pretty excited about this, I haven't done any costuming in a long time and I'm making myself some thing new. I bought almost 9 yards of a red 100% cotton twill yesterday to make a gown, I have an underskirt to wear with it already, it's on a drawstring so it will still fit. I don't know if my blue hemp boned corset still fits or not, I'll try it on later today. I thought I had a chemise with straight long sleeves, but I don't, it has full sleeves, so I'll either take the sleeves out and put in new ones or make a whole new chemise. I actually have several chemises and shirts, but only one with a low square neck which is what I need for this gown. I am going to do blackwork on the sleeve ruffles and attach the ruffles to the chemise instead of to the gown. I also am going to remake my farthingale into more cone shape instead of the drum shaped one. Once I get the camera back from Rich I'll post pics as I get parts made.