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Sisters are a nice thing to have

Especially when they pick you up and whisk you off to the store where they buy you a nifty toy for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Umm jus’ sayin’.

Please excuse the deplorable state of my floors as evidenced by this photo…
and yes, I do know they are in desperate need of refinishing.
Oh my gracious me.

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She comes bearing gifts

Hurray for Louisa! Hurray for the day after Valentine’s and hoo-ray for clearance candy! Yipee for gifts! Gifts for everyone!

Reese’s peanut butter somethings for Millen;
Nerds (in the requisite heart shaped box) for Noah;
pink Hershey’s kisses for Amelia;
a chocolate rose for Mama (oh my, how elegant)
and a profusion of thank-you hugs for Louisa…

all of which were most gratefully received, in case yer wondering.

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Arianna has a new purple outfit.

Louisa likes purple,

and Louisa likes Arianna.

Arianna likes the camera,

and the camera likes her.

O yes it does.

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Happy Birthday Ya-yi

Louisa (aka Ya-yi) was working all day at the coffee shop yesterday, even though it was her birthday. Not to worry, Louisa likes working at the coffee shop. She really likes working at the coffee shop when she has a new apron and headwrap to wear, and she loves working at the coffee shop when brother and sister come along to help out.

Millen, well equipped with an apron and headwrap of her own, lent atmosphere and moral support from the sidelines. She reportedly also did quite a bit of stirring. Noah bussed tables, carried heavy objects and was generally a much-appreciated-blur-of-activity. They were rewarded with lunch. And dessert!

And with knowing that big sister had a very happy birthday, indeed.

We love you Ya-yi!

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Louisa is a good dog-mommy

Picture taken pre-crack-of-dawn on a cold rainy fall morning. Umbrella not available. Note the hand knitted doggie sweater complete with plush collar.

You may be interested to know that, in spite of her frantic whining and scratching at the door, the dog did not really need to go out. It was all an oh-so-clever ruse to get a bit of fresh morning air which, incidentally, she thoroughly enjoyed. Louisa’s enjoyment was unsubstantial, at best.

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A skirt for the opera

After two days of non-stop sewing, frozen pizza dinners and sinks-full of dirty dishes we’ve finally finished Louisa’s Steampunk skirt.

For the most part we made up the pattern ourselves and added details we liked from other Steampunk designers, as well as historical photographs. We were greatly influenced by the styles of the Edwardian period, as you can probably tell. The main fabric is a midweight brown linen with a very subtle woven stripe. A green on green patterned cotton was used for the trim fabric. Louisa chose some buttons from my collection- no two the same, but all sharing a sage green shade to match the bias trim. Two tiny ones; one glass and the other faded wood, are stitched at the top of the two front pleats.

And two larger; one bakelite and the other horn bring together the fastening at the back. And speaking of the fastening, we were in a bit of a muddle to find a way to fit this skirt to Louisa’s rapidly shrinking figure. If we made it to fit her waistline now, it would be too big by next month, and unwearable by autumn. The natural solution was elastic, but that just didn’t fit with the image we wanted. In the end we did use an elastic backwaist, but hid it underneath these buttoned flaps. As Louisa’s size decreases, the buttons can be moved closer and closer together. The elasticized portion merely looks like a gathered panel behind a box pleat.

As she loses weight, the hem will gradually come closer to the floor, and the back will form an ever-so-slight slight train.

I tried a new-for-me hem treatment with this project: facings. I love how they allow the bottom of the skirt to hang so perfectly, and even with the trim coming right to the hem there is a crisp clean edge. I love that. What I did not love however, is the time it took for me to hand finish this fourteen foot long hemline. In fact, for once I am happy to put the needle and thread away and tackle something different for a few hours.

Like maybe those dishes in the sink.

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Birthday stitchery

Midway through the summer the big girls go to visit my parents, and for that one week their lives completely change. No schoolwork, no job, no younger siblings to attend to, no catboxes to clean. Nana and Grampa have a dishwasher… ’nuff said. They sleep late and dine out. They go to the ballet and the opera.

This year for her birthday present, Louisa requested that she and I design and sew a special outfit for her to wear for her evening at the opera with her grandparents. Lately, she has become enamored of a style of clothing called Steampunk. Imagine the sort of thing a Jules Vern-esque heroine might wear… if she had a great sense of style and an even greater imagination, that is. That’s steampunk. Much of it is quite odd, (bordering on the bizarre actually) but much of it is delightfully charming. After having a fine time looking at pictures and images online, Louisa and I devised an outfit consisting of a slightly trained brown linen skirt, a cream-colored blouse with an underbust corset worn over top. Of course we didn’t have a pattern for any of this, but we did have duct tape. Lots of duct tape… and the internet, which came in very handy as it turns out.

You know how when you are designing something, you get an image in your mind of how it will turn out? It’s an idealized image, and usually the finished product never quite lives up to that elusive picture you hold in your mind. But this one time the finished product does measure up. This corset looks just how I had hoped and envisioned it. Most importantly, it looks just how Louisa had envisioned it. And it looks great on her.

Feel free to click on the images for enlargements if you’d like to see more of the details. The outer fabric is a polished cotton, the lining unbleached muslin. There are two layers of cotton canvas between to give the garment strength. In lieu of boning, I merely stitched through the multiple thicknesses from the seam allowances. All edges are bound with self bias. The grommets are oversized battered brass, and the lacing is a leather thong. Louisa will be hanging some type of brass bauble or washers or clockwork gears from the ends as soon as she can find just the right sort of something to hang.

Next week, we’ll be making the skirt and I just can’t wait. If there’s one thing I love more than sewing, it’s designing… especially when what you’ve made actually ends up looking OK.

And you know what else? Life is fun. Really, really fun.

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Louisa goes

Every Saturday night Louisa’s knitting group meets at the oh-so-trendy coffeeshop around the corner. I don’t think it’s quite like my Nana’s knitting group that used to meet at the rectory on Wednesday afternoons, however. This one often lasts til close to midnight and there isn’t a gray hair in sight. Tonight Louisa’s bringing along her most recently completed project: a “Fifth Dr. Who hat complete with sprig of celery” ( don’t ask me, I haven’t the foggiest!) and she’s wearing her new orange eyelet dress…

which she likes very much indeed.

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