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What we’re doing today

Since I’m leaving for Relevant in a few days, and since I’m not packed and haven’t organized the school stuff for the kids and since the laundry’s still way behind,

the only sensible thing to do was break out the wool felt, vintage buttons, and antique trims

and set to work making little things for approximately fifty of the close personal friends that I haven’t actually met yet.

That’s me. Sensible. Practical. No nonsense. yup

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There are times I wish I were thin.

Honestly those moments don’t happen all that often. True, my figure is more reminiscent of a Weeble than of an hourglass. And yes, my circumference rivals my height, but no matter. One of the perks of being a single gal is that one’s appearance need only please oneself… and I’ve always found chubby little old ladies rather adorable. So yeah, I’m basically happy with the way I look. That said, the urge to be slim and svelte does well up within me from time to time, mostly when I come upon a lovely old pattern from a by-gone age. The age when adult patterns came with bust measurements like 30 inches and the sizing for “stout girls” started with a 36 inch bust.
Oh my.

Case in point: this robe pattern. Sigh… scallops, a pert little side tie belt and a neat A-line shape… ladies, it has rick rack for crying out loud! I’d make a couple of these up for myself exactly as pictured; the pink one with the scalloped trim in a thick cozy cotton flannel for winter and the yellow in a cool sateen for summer. I imagine myself moving serenely through my early mornings dressed in a perfectly fitted version of this robe (most likely with perfectly coordinated embroidered slippers as well.) Oh yes indeedy, I’m CONVINCED that this robe is all I need to experience serene mornings. The problem is, I can only find the pattern in a old size 14 1/2, which fits out for a bust measurement of 33 inches. Thirty-three inches! Cripes, even when I weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet my bust measurement was larger than that! Millen’s bust measurement is larger than that! Which means I can’t even make this pattern up for her and enjoy the loveliness vicariously. Sheesh.

It’s almost enough to make a girl give up butter… almost.

But not quite.

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Dress of the Month Club

When we first started watching Arianna, one of my big plans was to make her lots of adorable little play frocks. However, as often happens with good intentions (or at least as often happens with MY good intentions,) they got lost in the face of daily life. Other things take precedence, other things are more important, dealing with other things is just so much easier that acting on my wonderful intentions falls by the wayside. So yeah… I never got around to making Arianna a single little frock, adorable or otherwise.

I used a pattern from the 1950′s and a couple of cotton prints
to make this sweet little shift dress…

Fast forward to Arianna’s first birthday party, a big shin-dig with relatives traveling in from all over creation, and we were invited. I knew right away that I’d make my gift. And I had a bazillion ideas for making the most darling little garments, each of which I just knew would be perfect for this most beautiful of baby girls.* But which of those outfits to make? A single dress just didn’t seem quite enough for such a momentous occasion.

… with a coordinating button-on diaper cover.

So I made the little darlin’ a cute little dress… along with the promise of making another cute little dress each month for the upcoming year. I’m calling it our Dress-of-the-Month club and yeah I’m pretty excited about it.

I just love these tiny little sleeves with a darling puff at the top.

I look at it this way… I’m giving all of my good intentions a sturdy little structure in which to reside. All those well intentioned frock-making-thoughts that never made it past my imagination, now have a structure to move them from thoughts to actions to productivity. Instead of just thinking, “It would be nice to make Arianna some dresses.” The intention has been broken down into bite-sized pieces (one dress each month,) concrete tasks with clearly defined deadlines. I can do this!

I made an applique from one of the little kittens in the pink print
and finished it with blanket stitching. In pink.
And then I wrote one of Arianna’s favorite phrases, “Good kitty!”
using a running stitch. Pink running stitch.
A baby dress can never have too much pink,
that’s my motto.

Stay tuned for more baby dresses! One a month. For the next year.
Oh yeah.
Can’t wait.

*No, as a matter of fact, I am not the least bit biased, thank you very much.

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Decisions, decisions

After almost an entire year with no purchases, or rather no frivolous purchases (or perhaps more accurately, no guilt-free frivolous purchases,) after a year of that kind of restriction, stopping in at the thrift store just for fun feels like a radical act of self indulgence. Still… I’m managing to adjust. Mmhmm. yeah.

So anyway, the other day, Noah and I made a quick dash into the Goodwill and I was tickled pink to find this brand-new-still-in-its-1960′s-era-package percale double sheet, all 108 x 81 gorgeous rose and dogwood covered inches of it. I think it’ll make up into a sweet little Easter suit for Millen

or maybe a lovely summer dress for me.

It’d be perfect to make into matching spring aprons for all the coffee shop gals

or maybe a lovely summer dress for me.

The fabric is ideal for that Swirl Dress repro I’ve been promising to make for Amelia

or maybe a lovely summer dress for me,
with green gingham facings and black bias trim… ooh sweet!

I don’t know.. I just can’t quite decide what to make out of this lovely fabric.
But of course you know what I’ve already decided.

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One for the road

I had enough of this sweet cherry fabric to make two of these sweet little aprons; one for my own girlies and another one which will soon be winging its way off to another girlie who lives in another house.

And she doesn’t know yet, so keep this one under your bonnet, capische?

Nifty feature of this particular pattern: waist ties that completely button off.

I have no clue as to what useful purpose this feature serves, but I found it rather nifty nonetheless.

Another interesting feature of this apron is the approximately 47,000 mitered corners required for the bias trim. I beg you dear readers, do not look too closely at these mitered corners. oh my.

Note to self: never again use gingham bias trim on a pattern that requires mitering of corners.

Serendipitous mistake made in the construction of this apron: misjudging the yardage of bias trim needed by a mere six inches, which required me to substitute this bit of bright red solid bias trim, which looked terribly lonely and insignificant, which inspired me to embellish its plainness with a few silly little words.

Oh my! Cherries! yum yum yum

I do hope she likes it.

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Play dress or night dress?

Poor Millen is in desperate need of some new clothes. All of a sudden it seems like every tee is stained, every sweater is pilly, every skirt is too short or too tight, and every dress… well, she barely has a decent dress left in her barren little closet.

So I decided to make her a few bright breezy things. And I thought I’d start with a just-below-knee-length smock type dress to wear with leggings. I made some modifications to a blouse pattern, judiciously squeezed all the pattern pieces onto this old favorite fabric, and trimmed it every which way with some precious all-cotton bias tape and rick rack. What do you think of that big ole vintage button? I like it. Amelia thinks it’s WEIRD. hmmm, more I look at it the more I think she just might be right.

Millen loves this dress. She thinks it’s comfy. I think it’s cute. Amelia thinks it’s cute too. But after that we part company. One of us (I’m not saying who) thinks this looks like an adorably trendy little thang, appropriate for afternoons at the coffee shop or a play date with friends. The other party (I’m not saying who) thinks it looks alarmingly like a nightgown, and is appropriate only for sleeping.


So, we need a completely unbiased opinion or two…. and that’s where you all come in. Should Millen wear this dress out and about? Or should it be relegated to under-the-covers wear? Leave us your thoughts; yay or nay? night or day? And us? We agree to let majority rule.

There now, don’t you feel positively drunk with power?

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Totally worth it.

So much work went into my most recent project, the children’s Robin Hood and Maid Marian costumes. I watched so many episodes of the BBC series, my finger hovering over the PAUSE button. I studied so many photos and screenshots in order to get certain details just right.

Details like the way the lacing system on Robin’s hoodie were constructed. And like how the quiver fitted, and how it worked with the other garments. We cut apart an old leather jacket to make the quiver and used waxed cord to stitch it together.

We modified a purchased pattern for Millen’s Maid Marian dress. All the pieces are laced together with cord and ribbon… just because that’s the kind of construction detail the wardrobe designers of the program frequently used. And because it looks pretty. Pretty was our primary consideration in this costume.

We borrowed a beautifully carved wooden recurve bow- which coincidentally happened to be the exact right size- from an archery enthusiast friend. The real Robin had a recurve Saracen bow, dontcha know. And then we drove over an hour on a rainy day to meet our friend and photographer Ginger Barber for a photo shoot.

And the park was insanely crowded that day, because it was Columbus Day weekend and unbeknownst to us, there was an absolutely enormous craft fair taking place. There were state troopers directing traffic, parking places were few and far between and every nook and cranny was swarming with happy, friendly folk dressed in distinctly and most inconveniently non-BBC-Robin-Hood-appropriate attire. Even so, Ginger was able to get shots like this one… a contemplative Marian in the foreground, a dashing Robin in the background and nary another soul in sight.

I guess that’s because she knows my kids so well, and because she’s patient and hardworking.

And talented.

I’ll treasure these photos forever… oh yes, I will.

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