Friday, November 30, 2012

Simple Gifts

A Victorian Family Chooses A Turkey For Christmas
available at allposters

Christmas time is always busy with family, school, business, and other social occasions for most.   Ours have been from meager to much.  We have cut back on gifts since we first got married.  We both came from families that didn't  go to the excesses on Christmas and birthdays, although we do give more on birthdays as it is easier to find things that are useful for presents.

Christmas can become a very cluttered time with decorations, food making and taking,  shopping while avoiding crowds, dressing up and dressing--period,  balancing budgets, time, and energy, yet making sure the family is taken care of and keeping the perspective of  a good help-mate.  It can get to be a down-right frustrating time to end the year with.  Then...whizz, whirrr and we are starting the New Year with little on the calendar and we can RELAX, hopefully.

My suggestion for gifts this year is based on research of the coming slowing down of our economy and learning how to live with much less.  Jobs are at a premium now and who knows how many will retain jobs this next year.  At any rate,  make the best of what time and resources you have to work with.  Cut out non-essentials, extra gadgets, eating out, etc..  Become creative with your talents. Check out library books that have good and useful items that can be made by you.  There are lots of books with ideas for gift giving. You have choices of sewing, cooking, baking, gardening, wood projects, all kinds of crafty ideas, even books of how-to's.  If you live in rural areas check out internet sites for easy things to make.  Buy gifts online from others who have made items to sell.  Look on etsy for items to buy or ideas to make your own.  This is just a smattering of endless ideas available!

Just a precautionery note--since we are experiencing many kinds of natural disasters, you might make up some Smart Packs as outlined in NGJ Set.-Oct. 2009 for some unique gifts!

Remember it is our goal to serve the Lord in all our activities that He may be honored and glorified.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Minimal Wardrobing

Do you ever find that overlooking something for long periods of time, you can come back to it with a new inspired view?  I had a piece of grey to make a skirt just sitting on the stash pile.  While working my way through a thrift store I found a brand new grey sweater set and asked my girls if I could wear that color and they assured me it looked good on me so I proceeded to claim it for a new working color in a capsule wardrobe of greys.

I also found a grey plaid in my wool stash .  I plan to make a vest out of this as there is less than a yard.  I can use a red turtleneck sweater under it as well as a grey one.  I also have a corduroy print that I will make into a dress and can wear the grey button front sweater with it.  I found some grey geometric print at Walmart that matches the skirt of which I will make a blouse.  I noticed the quilt store had some grey and green prints in and will have to see if it matches when the road clears of snow.

Here are the fabrics and they don't look coordinated in the pictures.  I've had them in the sunlight and under the true Ott light to make sure they do match.   Artificial lighting can be difficult to determine good matches.  None of these look like they match!

My  fabrics:

These are the patterns:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Perfect for use!

I was in Walmart near my sister's and found this handy piece of equipment.  It is just a plastic square bottle with a pincushion fastened to the screw-on lid which makes it very handy pinning patterns and sewing.  I believe it was around $5-$6.
I have also been searching out different sizes of pins to get some that will go into cheap fabric as well as those of finer qualilty.  I ended up buying some longer ones in a smaller width.  They are more costly than the regular dressmaker pins.  I found some size information here and then I looked in Walmart, JoAnn's, Hancocks, and some quilt stores and found several makers and quite a variety.  Prices were about the same and could be less with some coupons from sales flyers.  I did get some longer ones in  the narrow thickness with glass heads.  Some manufacturers do not list the pin thickness, but go by name size, i.e. "super-fine". 

Here is a rundown of pin information from   Threads Magazine.  This was the most helpful chart for me. 

Dressmaker/all-purpose If in doubt, reach for this medium- length (1-1/16- to 1-1/2-inch) pin. It is appropriate for all sorts of garment sewing.

Quilting pin
Quilting Made especially for pinning through many layers of fabric and batting, this 1-1/2- to 2-inch pin is also garment-friendly, as its long length hardly ever slips out of place.

To avoid marring fabric with pin holes, choose the thinnest pin to accomplish the task at hand. Unfortunately, we discovered that the naming convention, as it relates to actual diameters, isn’t consistent among manufacturers. So the best thing to do is roll a pin between your fingers to gauge its actual thickness.
.4mm, .5mm, .6mm and .7mm or .8mm.

.4mm The thinnest traditional pin we found was a .4mm “Patchwork Pin (Fine)” by Clover. It passes beautifully through the finest of sheers.

.5mm Called “extra-fine,” “super-fine,” “silk,” or “satin,” these .5mm pins are recommended for fine, lightweight fabrics, including some sheers.

.6mm Most all-purpose pins are labeled “fine,” and are best paired with medium-weight fabrics.

.7mm or .8mm Although harder to find, these diameters are great for thicker fabrics like heavy wools, denim, and quilted layers. But they do leave large holes in their wake.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Which do you follow?

                                     Age Gracefully, Not Youthfully 
                                         ( title from WWNH)

This is  the title taken from an email sent by What Women Never Hear.  Please read the article for  information.   I thought it was pertinent to today's cultural attitude towards "looking forever youthful."  It has a lot to do with designers trying to help women of all ages appear youthful.  One of Satan's schemes is to make us feel old and unattractive after we reach the age where the face starts to show a few wrinkles, our bodies show signs of mothering, and the calendar reminds us the years are passing quickly.  God never designed us to live in the same "condition" for all our earthly life.  Ever since Adam and Eve had sinned against God, we have a built-in deterioration mode. 

We cannot compare ourselves with others as no one is the same.  We may have similarities, but our desire should be to model the years that God has given us to His glory  and not to seek those ideals held by the world.  These ideals are put out by the variety of media that bombards us daily.  The less we have of it coming into our life, the more we are able to think Godward.  Simplify your life by eliminating those messages that come into your home, i.e. cut off the magazine subscriptions that are depicting worldly lifestyles and ideals, eliminate the TV or restrict it, don't keep up on the latest movies,  go window shopping, etc..

There is a more pleasing way to live than trying to keep up with the youth.  Seek ways that show the women around you that it is wonderful to grow older in the Lord and still look and act beautiful  by enhancing those traits that are Godly. Don't draw attention to yourself by trying to look like a teen or a twenty-something.

"Flee youthful lusts:  but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."  2 Timothy 2:22

Use colors that look good on you, wear dresses and tops that aren't body revealing  (otherwise people can tell what size underwear you wear, how many lumps and bumps and where), use feminine touches of rufles and lace once in a while,  wear a swishy skirt,  wear a long denim skirt with a plaid blouse,  wear shoes that look good on your feet-- stilts aren't for most people (how many have had bad accidents with those shoes-they may be good for fending off an attacker)--practical low-heeled boots are good for winter.  Always consider the checks for modesty and fit. 

Wear a smile as that is the most beautiful attribute you have!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do the knees really have the spotlight this season?

Do we "kneed" our knees showing?

(Just an interjectory comment--my biased opinion--- here between thoughts of putting a wardrobe together.)

Looking at a few of the new styles coming off the ramps and through the pattern books ( I haven't had any opportunity to check out fashion magazines or catalogs), it seems that skirts tend to be short again with many above the knee and mid-knee.  I caught myself studying knees and decided that a woman really looks much more feminine when her knees are covered--in regards to skirts and dresses.   Take a good look at those styles that show the knees.  My opinion is that they look much better covered--something knobby and sinewy about their appearance--perhaps because  I grew up looking at cow's and horse's legs and it just doesn't strike me as something needing to be shown.  The leg curve below the knee is much more attractive when the skirt goes below the knees.  The feminine lines of the wearer continue with a graceful flow.   Check it out for yourself.

One more thought:  we tend to dress little girls in short dresses for reasons of practicality, so is extending the exposed knees to adulthood  an attempt to look "girly" rather than feminine?  Are we afraid of becoming old, having wrinkles, losing our figure, etc.?  Who really needs to see those knees? I suppose there are certain ones who consider exposed knees as an attractive attribute in order to seek attention.  But looks should not be directed to below the face.  I am sure most people are plenty tired of seeing cleavage, yet I think more are embarrassed by it as well as seeing legs exposed  up to who knows where ( I would hope there are people who still blush when a woman bares skin that only her husband should see and men who would turn their gaze away! God only knows what messages it sends to our dear children.).  There is a faint yet strong message that what one can't see in clothing, and I don't mean peek-a-boo, slits, or skin tight,  is that the look is much more attractive.  Crass clothing is equal to advertisement.  Your clothing denotes your character statement.

 Graceful is a trait applied to a young lady or woman whose lines flow gently from top to bottom with good posture and demeanor.  Something could be said about shoe styles, but in a future post.

I came across something to think about while reading a post by Lady Lydia, one commenter recommends a longer skirt  length  which makes you look more feminine and slender whereas the shorter lengths tend to make one look fatter.  Do a little research.  Sit someplace where you can observe people. 

Question:  How can we influence our daughters and women of Christian faith to dress modestly so that they realize they are doing so to please the Lord, the King of Kings, the most important one in their life?

Question: Do we have ladies and matronly ladies who will dare to dress different than current fads and styles? We need great examples of ladies of stature and demeanor.

Challenge:  Will you join me as we seek to encourage our sisters in faith and women in general that we are pleased to be a lady by God's choice and design and dress and act that way?

May we do all to the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Line-up for minimal wardrobing

Autumn Cover of French Periodical Les Modes Showing Fashionable Woman Alone in Park

   Felix Fournery

Time for some Fall/Winter sewing ideas and wardrobe planning.

There are many considerations when it comes to setting up a wardrobe:
  • Climate/Location
  • Seasons
  • Finances
  • Time
  • Stay-at-home or working
  • Special Occasions
  • Classic styles
  • Shape and Size
  • Special Needs
For those who live in climates that don't vary in temperature much, but do in weather, one could use a wardrobe year-round without a lot of expense.  For those of us who live in the northern temperate hemisphere where there are definite seasons we, for Fall and Winter now, use heavier wovens as well as knitted items for warmth and put our Spring/Summer wardrobe in storage.

Being thrifty helps all and many a good wardrobe can be built from visits to the Thrift Stores.  Even smaller towns can offer some decent clothing as well as some that can be remodeled.  Let your imagination inspire you.

Fabric for clothing is harder to find as the choices of natural fibers rather than synthetics is dwindling in many areas since most fabrics are woven overseas.

Once you have figured out what your basic needs are for a wardrobe, you can purchase or use patterns you have for basic styles that look good on you.  If in doubt go to the clothing store and try on things that appeal to you to see how you look in them, if a certain style is good for you.  Check out color as well.  Don't be afraid to try something different as long as it meets modest standards. 
We want to look good but not to be envied or lusted after.  Take someone along when unsure.

If you prefer dresses to skirts and tops, you can make one for every day of the week.  Don't forget to have some good sturdy aprons handy.   They are easier to clean than whole garments.  For moms with babies and toddlers, you will have to increase the amount of  dresses or tops obviously.

Fall 2012 Trends-Red
Remember there are styles that last and there are fads that fade fast.  Take a good look at what styles are offered for the seasons.  Sometimes they are variations of classics and sometimes they are quite impractical.  The model on the left is wearing a classic blazer with a gathered skirt.  The model on the right has one extreme style .  No doubt as to which one would get more miles of wear.

For the time being, work out a paper plan that meets your needs.  Be thinking of colors you like.  Check out what basics you already have and what you could add to make the ensembles you need.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Home Again

We are finally back from a wonderful visit in the great Pacific Northwest. Apple season is well underway in central Washington and we were able to bring back some great big Honeycrisps for fresh eating. We were also able to visit the Back to Eden garden site and learn from the experience of one who gardens God's way. A very interesting side trip and the children really enjoyed it!

The weather was the best and I was able to wear my new dress that was pictured in the last post.  We did go thrifting and found some nice summer tops on sale for the girls as we went prepared for rainy and cool weather. 

It almost takes a week to get back into a routine.  It is good to be home and to think about sewing for Fall and Winter.  The girls are ready to get their F/W clothes out and put away their S/S outfits.  I have done that now that nights are getting a little more brisk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More thoughts on minimal wardrobe building

Here is an idea for coordinating clothes.  Ruthie Sews made a great looking wardrobe and posted it on her site.  The basic pattern is New Look 6735.

As a sewer I have found myself buying more on spontenaity than on configuring a wardrobe.  Perhaps it is because I can, with some effort, find  fabrics that I want to try new patterns on with not too much outlay.  I must admit that it is getting harder to find fabrics at decent prices anymore so sewing for oneself is becoming more of an expression of an art or hobby.

With changing seasons, the wardrobe has to either stretch to fit one whole season and part of the next or one just has four separate seasons of clothing which makes for a lot of clothes to either hang or put in storage and rotate.  That would take a lot of justifying.  Minimal amount is the key.

I find that wearing skirts and tops makes it easier to wear through a season and into the next.  I do like to have dresses for Sundays and special occasions. I have just finished an "in-betweener" that I will wear to my sister's church.  It is a "3-yarder" for me so I am able to reason the cost out and figure it not too  expensive as I can use it for late spring, summer, and early fall.  I didn't put any buttons on yet as I plan to purchase them on our trip and sew them on while visiting my sister.

I have a few pieces of Pendleton wool that I purchased years ago at their outlet store and have been waiting for the right pattern for a skirt and jacket.  It is flannel weight and will work well for late fall, winter, and early spring.   The issue will be to find tops and blouses that I can mix and match. I will use these for church basically and any occasion called for dressing in something other than home-wear.

For home outfits this fall and winter, I will use corduroy, denim, and some heavier twill for skirts to pair with longer-sleeved blouses, sweatertops and sweaters to wear.  Pantaloons/bloomers or leggings  fit nicely under the skirts in cooler weather as well as knee-highs.  If it gets really cold I add a slip as well.

Pattern Review has a "Mini Wardrobe" contest and you can find the rules here. It will give you some guidelines for creating a matching wardrobe.   I hope this give you a handle on how to maximize the minimum.

More on minimal wardrobing after a short vacation out west!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is a minimalist wardrobe possible for one who loves to sew?

Minimalism has been a round for quite a while and there have been those who have designed minimalist wardrobes.  The styles tend to be without much detail, but attention to quality and quantity.  The simpler the better and easier to dress up or down with accessories.

Styles are individual and how they look depends on preferences.  The variety ranges from very casual in knits to tailored in linens, wools, and different dress/suiting fabrics depending on the season. 

Using the colors that look best on you can enhance the whole concept of mix and match to your advantage. 

I once made a summer cotton mix and match with tops and skirts and got a lot of mileage out of them.

The challenge will be to find the patterns and fabrics that will work best together and also to not have to put out a lot of money and find that they don't work as well as planned.  This will require some concentration on what my needs really are, what kind of mileage I will get out of them, what limits to have on total pieces, and what I can use from my present wardrobe. 

I  love to sew dresses but find skirts and tops more practical for everyday.  You might prefer the opposite. 
Pattern companies offer coordinated patterns.  If you can't find the all-in-one-pattern-envelope, then find individual ones and make a notebook page with pictures/sketches to give you ideas and then when you have finalized your thoughts and have written them down, make sure to keep the yardages needed for each piece in  both measurements of  45 inch and 60 inch widths of fabric.  A lot could be done on the computer and just print out the pages when you need them.

I will be adding more to this post.  In the meantime, be looking for ideas that will work in your wardrobe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time for change

Christine Jonson Pattern 1219

All things considered, it is probably about time to re-assess my current wardrobe as I have to find ready-to-wear and patterns in a couple sizes smaller than I wore last year.  I had some favorites, but they don't fit well anymore so most of them are going to thrift stores.  I don't feel like remodeling the garments as they never fit the same when redone.

We live where there are definitely two seasons:  winter and summer, with spring and fall being rather short-lived.  A few transitional pieces of medium weight work as well as layering for the spring and fall wear.  Summer has been very warm this year and winter was cold, dry, and windy.

I have often dreamed of making a coordinated wardrobe but have yet to set aside the time and money for the fabrics and patterns.  So it seems now is a good time to start. Fall is here in another month and with my sewing time, I may have to find a pattern and make pieces as the seasons progress.

The basics usually consist of tops, skirts, vests, jackets, jumpers, and dresses.  JoAnn's and Hancocks are having pattern sales this month so be sure to check out the catalogs for styles you like.  At  $.99 , $1.99, and $3.99 per pattern of the four major companies, it really is a savings considering the 40% discounts or full prices.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Classic with a twist!

Serendipity Studio has entered the circle of shirtwaists worthy of putting together.  Kay Whitt has taken the classic and made it with a new twist:  The Sally Shirtdress.  Rather than sewing the bodice to the skirt as in most shisrtwaist patterns, this is a one-piece front and back with tucks/pleats to make the waist indented.

I like the idea of being able to use a border print.  The dress looks very comfortable and I hope to be able to have the pattern to work with soon.  I have several fabrics waiting for "the perfect pattern."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

50's Circle Skirt

This was passed down to me along with several dresses of different eras-even a handwoven milk-maid dress. I found some shoes at the thrift store that matched.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting ready for Summer

                    Benson, Frank Weston - Summer, 1909


This is the time of year I get nostalgic about making Prairie Skirts.  Warm weather makes me want to  "swish" along in fuller skirts.  Oftentimes we have strong winds blowing across the high prairies and our skirts have to be a little heavier, especially more so than the voile, chiffon, or gauze ones.  The lighter weight skirts require a petticoat or slip.  One could also wear some fuller bloomers.  Just be sure the undergarments match close to the hemline for modest appearance.

This pattern is from Butterick, Fast and Easy, 5330.

New Look has an easy pattern:  6054

Simplicity has a skirt with more detail.

These are patterns that are available as well as many vintage patterns  on internet sites.

Check this site for  ready to wear prairie skirts.

Ringger Clothing has some cute prairie skirts.  You can order from their large choice of fabrics for custom made clothing.

Marie Madeline has a skirt that is very colorful with a contrasting trim.

There is a  tutorial on line for making your own tiered prairie skirt.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Two new fun patterns from Vogue!

I just noticed that Vogue listed their new summer patterns and found a couple that shouldn't take too much work for Spring and Summer wear.
Vogue 8810

Short sleeve with straight skirt.

The long sleeve and flared skirt version.

                                                                              Vogue 8811
                                                                  Vogue 8811

 Both of these patterns can be made with a variety of lightweight fabrics, probably heavier weight if you make the straight skirts of Vogue 8810 of which I would lengthen a bit and taper from the waist out to the hem to make walking a little easier.  Watch the neckline plunge and re-adjust upwards for modesty or wear a pretty lace dickey or undergarment that keeps you covered when you bend over to pick up children or toys, etc

Many of the Vogue patterns can be purchased at discounts from JoAnn stores across the U.S.  We live a couple hours away from our nearest store and I call in and purchase them with a card and pick them up when I am in town the next time.  I prefer to buy patterns on sale as I can invest more in fabric.  There are internet options with reduced costs.  One author I read said that she almost always  buys as much as she is able for what she needs on sale.  If there is no hurry, she waits.

Interesting to note in these two photo shoots how the same handbag is used!  Shoes are definitely at new heights.

Friday, April 6, 2012

More jacket patterns

This is the time of year that one doesn't need a very heavy coat or jacket and there are several cute patterns out that will be perfect to add warmth to an outfit. This one is perfect with skirts and dresses.
I like the easy one called A Little Somethin' by CNT Patterns. It is a very quick and easy and comfortable pattern.

Another one to try is the Serendipity pattern called the Savannah Swing Jacket

I thought this white style would be an interesting jacket to try one's sewing skills on. Vogue 1246

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Classic Shirtwaist

Here is a site that explains shirtdresses and their popularity.

This is one of the many  shirtdresses available at Shabby Apple .

It seems that styles return (retro-to those who haven't lived through the earlier fashion) in similarity with adaptations of the present mode.  When the off-shoulder styles were in, one could find shirtwaist dresses in a variety of pleated, gathered, flared, gored, straight, and A-lines with a standard two-piece collar, or simple collar, notched collar, mandarin collar, Peter Pan collar, and lace collars.  Sleeves were flowing and loose or close fitting and made to all lengths.  It was a very comfortale dress to wear.  The fabrics were endless and it made one feel feminine.  Those were the 80's.

The shirtwaist has returned again and this time with a variety similar to the past.  The tops are more closefitting as were those constructed in the 50's and 60's. The lengths are shorter now and the tops have deeper necklines and the buttons don't go as high.  Here is a site that shows a variety of styles of the past at least from the '30s - '50s.

For the home seamstress there are many patterns that will lend themselves to a nice, comfortable shirtwaist.  McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, and others have usually have some shirtwaist style available in their catalogs.
There is really quite a variety available. If you don't like the sleeve style, use another pattern with something you are more comfortable with. The same goes with the skirt style or any other detail that you would like to change.
There are vintage pattern sites that offer shirtwaists, too. It is fun to look at those older styles to see the uniqueness of each one.

Very Easy Vogue 8785
Vogue 8577
McCalls 6279

Marfy Dress F1663

McCalls 5847

Vogue 1233
McCalls 4769
Kwik Sew 3488

Here are a few that are some of my favorites along with McCalls 4769 that I have had success with.

Vogue 8021 (out of print)

                                                          Vogue 8028 (out of print)
Everyday Dresses pattern book is  sometimes listed  on Amazon.

Nothern Lights by Dana Marie

One final comment, if you don't find the shirtwaist dress pattern you like, you can always use your favorite blouse and add a skirt to it and it becomes a shirtwaist with some adjustments. You could make it button all the way down to the hem of the dress or put a placket in or a side zipper or make a loose waist and gather it in with elastic or a belt. Just be sure to allow yourself room to get in and out easily.