Saturday, January 26, 2013

Archaeology, Nebraska Style

This past week I went up to our old house. Before we moved in twenty years ago the house had been rented, and before that it was owned by the Danielson family. I don't know if it was the Danielsons or the renters, but nothing seemed to ever be thrown away. Out in the corn crib there are a few flour sacks hanging from the ceiling, full of old clothes. I brought home one of those incredibly musty bags to find out what kind of clothes they were.

The majority of the clothes were normal boring and way too dirty, but I did fish out and wash a few things. First off, this home-made olive green crepe-back satin blouse. The blouse has two darts at each front shoulder, and a snap at the front neck as well as two at the side closure. The sleeve has been patched, but otherwise the blouse is in fine condition. 

A patched sleeve.
The blouse and sleeves are made from the reverse side of the fabric, while the shoulder drapes, peplum and sleeve peplums are made from the satin side. Other than being musty and not cared for, this blouse isn't damaged and I don't understand why it would just be thrown out.

Side closure for a skinny person.

I also dug out a bias cut black slip with irreparable holes, a net shawl or table runner, a white embroidered shift torn at both armpits, a tea towel, and a man's vest.

This poor vest is so chewed up and doesn't have any buttons either, but I'm tempted to patch it and have one of my dance gentlemen wear it at performance. All our costumes are new, and that's not ideal. This vest would certainly make a difference in that respect. The label in the front pocket reads "Manufactured under men's clothing code authority" with the logo "NRA: We do our part." Apparently the National Recovery Administration was part of FDR's New Deal in the 1930's. So that makes this poor old vest almost eighty years old.

Sold the House and went to Goodwill

Busy week. Jen's been down south enjoying a wedding in warm Alabama, so I got the car and the chauffeuring duties. Without a room-mate I don't have to turn on the Christmas lights, roll up the blinds, or clear the desk. I can go to bed and get up when I like, and run the humidifier 24/7. And hopefully Jen's having just as good a time down south, and we'll both enjoy being back in each other's company next week.

I went up to the old house Thursday to look about. We had an offer on the old house this week and negotiated a sale, so in all likelihood we'll have a closing date in early March. It's amazing to see how quickly normal real estate sales move compared to our own five month journey from offer to closing.

Friday I ran errands: I finally made it across town to buy a new leather belt for my treadle machine, and hobby lobby for Styrofoam. My wool hoods came in the mail, so this coming week I hope to begin experimenting with making top hats.

Wool hoods and a Styrofoam block. They look so unpromising. I'm a little nervous.
I also scored an XL 100% silk cream colored blouse at Goodwill for $1. I really can't afford to buy silk by the yard,so this is how I do buy it. I don't particularly enjoy sewing with silk because it's so fine and finicky, but I love the feel of it. I hope to cut this one down to wear with my new wool Edwardian trumpet skirt. I also gained a silk Ann Taylor blouse and Fossil draped T, each for a dollar, of course. Good hunting for a Friday!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Updated Settings

I now have a standing table for cutting fabric. Since we moved in I've been using an old warped cardboard folding table; now, finally, I have a table made of two old bookshelves and a desktop from Dad's college days. I also added Grandma's old coffee maker, a wall mirror, and my very own box of tissues(hey, it's cold up here). Things are looking up. All I need now is a swivel chair.

Updated Settings: The kind I like. More storage space, bigger table, better back posture. And Bolthouse(Have I mentioned? I'm a fan).

Recent sewing: 
I used a Simplicity vest pattern to make a small jacket. It worked out well, except ended up being too small for me. I stole the button-belt idea from Lavinia's pink wool coat on Downton Abbey. The corduroy was from Grandma, and the lining was from a garage sale.

Yes, it still needs to be hemmed. This jacket is for sale. Blue cotton corduroy lined with white cotton with blue floral pattern. Girls' size 10.

I also made a Regency dress with a drop-front for the first time. I'll definitely be making more of these. Have you ever tried buttoning yourself up the back? It's so much more practical to wear drop-front. There are some great drop-front tutorials online that make it very easy. Most girls I know have a Regency gown, but not one of them has a drop-front. Therefore, I surmise that drop-front gowns are the best kept secret of Regency costuming.

I made up a draft of the Truly Victorian Trumpet skirt in maroon poly/linen; this pattern goes together very easily. It's a simple pattern and yet flattering, and great for dancing. Overall, I think this is a good beginner costume pattern for my dance ladies to sink their teeth into. I went on to make my own skirt in a perfect tan worsted wool. For the placket I ended up buying ten yards of hook-and-eye tape through Etsy; it seems to be rather hard to find tape for a reasonable price. I remember several years ago the local Hancock's stopped carrying it, so I don't believe there's anywhere local to buy hook-and-eye tape.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What would the Marchioness do in 2013?

What I've done so far...

The Family all got a cold on New Year's Day, and are still recovering. Good bonding time.

The Young People went to see the Hobbit in IMAX 3-D, finally, with my favorite group of dancers. I have to say it was totally worth the extra cost to see IMAX, for the first time, and 3-D, which really was cool(my unprofessional opinion).

Vague parameters of what I'd like to do in 2013:

I want to improve my sewing, and make more money doing it(because woman can not live on fabric alone). I was thrown into historical sewing by costuming needs, due to my dance group. Now looking back I can see my skills have progressed over the past three years, but they're still a little rough. It's also taking most of my work time, with very little monetary return. So I'd like to improve on that end, which probably means some degree of marketing. Which I've been avoiding like the plague, ever since the beginning.

I would still like to travel. Variation in life is good. I'm open to destinations and something always seems to turn up, but for longer trips the East Coast and Scotland are personal top choices. Finances will probably dictate an in-country location if I do travel; Russia really wiped out my savings. There are only two months in the fall when I'm really free to travel alone, but hopefully if it does happen I'll know for sure by May. Optional family trips this year are sure to include MO, IL, and TX.

Of course I always want to be improving the monthly public dances, expanding them and advertising to new crowds, and the performance group, in presentation and locations. We've got a good start on this already, with three paid performance days lined up and several new nursing homes. I'm hoping to hold a charity event in the spring and have a live band several times throughout the year, and improve the costume closet as well.

Those are the basics!