I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Monday, September 30, 2013

October, 1863

I got pictures of Andy in his 1860s re-enactment outfit yesterday. We have had beautiful fall weather and he posed with a leaf for me!
It is a good fit. If anything, I would have liked the tunic to be larger. It is a nice shape and I love the colors. After the pictures, Andy went off to the playground and got sandy and dirty. He didn't even notice that he was wearing anything different than usual. I need to figure out some shoes.
 I also made a little "sacque" jacket from blue plaid wool. I just want to add some trim and then I will show it. Now if I could just get that Regency Ball Gown done!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Re-enacting Wardrobe: part 2: Tot's Tunic and Trousers

I'm back!! Gosh, we have had a string of sort-of-bad-luck lately. Lots of accidents and illnesses and a broken-down car (hubby's, not my new-to-me car). However, I like to look at the bright side, so I'm happy that everyone is OK and the car is fixed. Not much sewing gets done when one is at the doctor, orthodontist, car place, etc. every day. However, my exciting new hobby, historical re-enacting, has 2 events coming up. The Regency Ball on October 5- ahhh!! And my first Civil War event on October 11. Luckily, I am borrowing something for the Civil War event. I already made my corset, but tomorrow I need to work on my Regency Gown.
This week, I chipped away at a Civil War Tunic and Drawers for Andy. I just have to add buttons and buttonholes to the tunic, but here it is:
I tried to make this a practical combo of historical authenticity and quick enough to finish on time. I started with 2 patterns by Elisabeth Stewart Clark: the Girl's Dresses and Boy's Tunics & Trousers. I actually used the girl's Infant Bodiced Dress for the top of the tunic. It was the shape I am the most familiar with and I only had a scant 2/3 yard of the plaid fabric. It is a homespun from JoAnn's and they only had a scrap left.
I added piping from the solid green to the sleeve seams, neckline, and waistband.
I was going to make the authentic trousers to go with the tunic, but they had 2 waistbands, plackets, and buttons. I really wanted to finish this tonight and no one will see the waistband under the tunic, so I took a short-cut. I used the Scientific Seamstress Easy-fit Pants pattern to make drawers with tucks at the legs. They are really simple with an elastic waist and the hem is stitched by machine into the first tuck. I think they look great together and I love the colors for Fall.
If I have time, I'd like to make him one more tunic/frock. Did you know little boys wore dresses till about 3 years old? Andy is right in between frock and tunic age, so I'd like to do one of each. I also have a beautiful blue/gray plaid "faux wool" that would be perfect for a sacque/coat to keep him warm.
I promise I won't be gone so long...hope you are still reading!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

It has been true autumn weather in New England this week. Real jeans and sweatshirts days. Andy and Davy both enjoy cooking and we have made several tasty things this week. Little Andy loves to crack eggs, so he had a great time making pumpkin bread with me!
This is my Mom's recipe. It is the one I had growing up and is quite delicious. This makes a big batch: 2 large, 3 medium or 15 mini loaves. We made the mini loaves this time and gave them to teachers and friends. This bread is perfect for Thanksgiving. I usually make it ahead and freeze it to make cooking on Turkey day easier. My favorite way to eat it is spread with cream cheese for breakfast with a cup of hot tea! You can find the mini ceramic loaf pans at Michael's and AC Moore. They are nice for a friendship sized serving!
Pumpkin Bread:
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) canned pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

In large bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and oil, beating after each addition. Add pumpkin and water and mix well. Add dry ingredients and spices. Grease (with shortening) and flour baking pans. Pour batter into pans 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour for large loaves or 35 minutes for minis (or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Re-enacting Wardrobe: part 1: Corset

Yahoo! I finally managed to finish a sewing project! It is something I am pretty excited about: my first corset!
Modeled here by Rosie, my lovely (thinner than me) daughter! It has been cold here at night, so it is shown over her fuzzy blanket sleeper!
Long background story: I have always been interested in historic fashion and have wanted to get involved with a re-enactment group. You would think it would be easy to find in history-rich New England, but I haven't had luck finding a group that was civilian, since the military groups mostly "enlist" men. I finally found 2 interesting groups a few weeks ago. One is a Civil War Civilians group with events in my area. I am hoping to attend one in October. The other is a "Vintage Dancers" group that runs themed dances in Massachusetts and the New England area. They are hosting a Jane Austen Regency Ball on October 5 and my husband has agreed to attend with me. In our younger days, he liked to dance. I took dance as a child, but never liked "free" dancing. However, these are the old-fashioned "called" dances, like reels. I think I will enjoy those! I know I will like the dressing up part. So, before I could start a Regency gown or Civil War dress, I needed the "proper foundation". I choose a Butterick pattern that I had on hand, since I didn't have high hopes that it would turn out well.
Here's the back. As you can tell, it did turn out well!! I had a kit I had bought for about $15 on ebay that had the fabric, busk, boning, and grommets. I used the fabric and busk from it. The fabric is a tan heavy twill and it is lined with the same and each piece also has interfacing. For the boning, I bought some heavy-duty cable ties at Lowe's. They were cheaper and easier to use than metal boning, because I could trim them to the exact length. I ended up buying grommets and a setting plier, because the ones that came in the kit were not very nice.

Here's a close-up of the busk. The marks are just pencil. Funny story: the busk I had on hand was a little too long, but since this was a trial, I wanted to make do. I tried a hack saw and wire cutters, but couldn't cut it at home. I took it to Lowe's and a nice older man there used a heavy wire scissors to trim it. When he was done, he asked what it was. When I told him, he blushed and I said, "I bet this is the first time you cut something like this." My girls were so embarrassed!

The edges are bound with self-binding, which I stitched on by machine. This pattern is basically a Civil War style, but I think it will be OK for a Regency dress, too. Next time I try a corset, I will probably make the Laughing Moon Dore, which I have heard good things about and I'll make it from white coutil. But I am really happy with this one!

Here's the back with the grommets and lacing. It laces from the top down to the waist and from the hips up to the waist. I tried it on last night and it really works! It may not make me skinny, but it gives a smooth, curved silhouette! It was actually comfortable and I could breathe, but could not easily bend. It will definitely promote good posture.
Next, I will make a simple chemise to be worn under it and then on to the gown. I am hoping to have time to make a tailcoat and breeches for hubby, but time is short, so we will see. I am very excited about exploring this new hobby!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chicken Pops, Elbones, Fever, and the ER!

I never believed that Friday the 13th meant trouble, but I am reconsidering! I think the whole week is cursed. We started with some weird "spots" on Andy that turned out to be a mild case of chicken pox or "pops" as he calls them. He had the vaccine, so it was a very minor case. He thinks he got them from our chickens! Not so bad.
On Thursday the 12th, it was pouring rain when Katie walked out of school and slipped on the concrete. She injured her elbow, so the nurse put her in a sling and called me to take her to the doctor. When the sling came off, there was a weird dent in her elbow and her forearm looked crooked. She had dislocated it. The doctor sent us to the hospital and said she would probably need surgery to fix it. We spent 5 hours in the ER, but they were able to "reduce" it with just IV painkillers. Yahoo!
The same night, Pete had his check up and got a meningitis vaccine. The next day, he woke up with a fever and headache.

We are wondering what will hit us today? I drove very carefully this morning- so far, so good.
In actual sewing news, I celebrated surviving the week by working on my corset project. I just have to install the eyelets/lacing and I'll be ready to share. Hopefully tomorrow!! I hope you all had an uneventful Friday the 13th week!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Chicken Run!

Still not much sewing here. I do have some interesting projects I'm working on, though! The beginning of school has been stressful. I think we enjoyed summer so much that no one wanted to get back in the routine YET. Up by 6:00, rush around, homework, packing lunches, carpool, etc. We miss our free time! Anyway, I hope to get more done soon, but today I am taking the kids to the Y, bowling, roller skating, etc. with friends, plus Davy has a birthday party to attend. Another busy day...
My Dad and I spent Labor Day making this awesome "chicken run" for BSB (Bennie, Shelly, Blackie, shortened to BSB thanks to a facebook friend!).
The motivation for the run was that BSB were getting more daring and when I let them "free range" they were heading straight for the woods you can see to the right of the picture. It is quite dense and on the other side is a neighbor with a dog that would love to make a snack of BSB. This way, they have much more room to roam and can be free all day.
It has a door that lines up with the door of their coop, so they can travel in between easily. There is a roosting pole across the center- Blackie and Bennie are sitting on it in this picture.
They love all their space! I am glad that they are safe. It took about 6 hours to make this, including staining. My Dad is an awesome woodworker and brought his "mobile workshop" to my garage. We had fun working together and it reminded me of the projects we did when I was little. One of my favorite things to do was go to the hardware store with my Dad. This run cost about $85 to make. It reminded me of the time we bought 10 cent goldfish and had to buy $100 aquarium. Our chicks cost $2.50 and I keep finding new things they need! They are really sweet, though, and fun to watch! Hope you don't mind another "chicken project". I am working on a historical project with a long story (isn't there always?) that I will share next!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Cupcakes

Well, I have been away for a week. It has been a stressful one, with 5 kids starting school on staggered days. Davy started 3rd grade on Wednesday, Rosie 8th grade on Thursday, Pete and Katie are senior and sophomore up at the HS, and today was Andy's first day of 3 year old preschool! Wow, I have kiddos in the youngest and oldest grades in our town!! Cool Mom, huh??
Anyway, it is all going pretty well, though we are sad to see a wonderful summer end. We had so much fun, but it went too fast!
So, we had a Labor Day cookout with some friends.
Rosie made these grill cupcakes with shish kebobs!! They took hours!
The little corn cob is gumpaste. The grill is royal icing. The flames are colored sugar. Patience, my dear! She was up late at night working on these.
 Katie loves to bake, too. She prepared cupcakes, frostings, and various trims so that she and her friend could decorate at the cookout. They had a great time and we all benefited from the results.
I had one of each girl's treats and they were both delicious!! Plus, we had fun with our friends.
Not much sewing has been going on, but I do have a cool wood-working project, some special dolls, a tent project, and some interesting historical projects I'm starting on, so...come back soon!