Yesterday I had to take Carmina (the Salsa Red convertible that was my reward for driving a minivan for 22 years) to the dealer for some warranty fixin’. Since it was going to take several hours, the dealer shuttle gave me a lift to the nearby shopping mall.
I hate malls, and I hate shopping, but it beats sitting in a Panera store, eating endless pastries and drinking endless coffee. ok maybe it doesn’t. Anyway, earlier in the week I realized that I only had 5 long sleeved shirts. It being South Georgia, they aren’t really all that necessary anyway, but still it’s nice to have more than 5. So I decided to look for long sleeved shirts. I am picky. No prints, ruffles, spangles, stretchy gross knits or weird colors. No big embroidery or loud labels declaring “THIS SHIRT COST MORE THAN YOURS” (looking at YOU, Ralph Lauren). Since I am not petite, the first places I looked were Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart, both catering to the +12 sized types.
Dear Designers of Clothing for +12,
I do not wish to look like a birthday cake.
It was frustrating. Eventually I found a few shirts that, on the rack, looked great. Classically cut button up shirts in classic colors like french blue or white, and a nice pink stripe. Great! So I tried on one. Apparently if you’re a size 18,you’re supposed to be flat chested and have shoulders like a 19 year old linebacker. I don’t know where they got that from. All the women I know who are my size tend to have rather bodacious boobs.
When I whined to Terry, he said “make your own” and that’s exactly what I intend to do. To that end,after retrieving Carmina (problems fixed!), a call was made to the local Viking (Husqvarna Viking makes high end sewing machines) dealer for a look-see and a test drive.
Nice. Very nice. AND I can get a top of the line combination sewing-embroidery machine that will interface with my computer and allow me to make my own embroidery designs AND will sew through 6 layers of 16 oz denim with nary a whine for the paltry sum of $10,000. yes. As much as a small car.
There is, and always will be, a part of me that refuses to consider making payments on a sewing machine. So, no $10,000 machine in my future unless #4 digs a deep hole and discovers oil in our backyard.
Maybe one day. After the house and everyone’s college and EVERYTHING else is taken care of.
I’m going to make another trip down there before long, to look at Bernina machines.
And after all that, the bursitis in my left hip decided to make a comeback, so here I sit, with a cup of coffee and a bottle of motrin, not weeding,not cutting the grass,not climbing the stairs or doing any of those other things that need doing.
All things said, I have an excellent family. No one’s dead, and no one’s pregnant. That’s the mantra around here. Anything else is just an inconvenience.
We had a long weekend, 3 days! And Terry in his sweet way, TOOK THE WEEKEND OFF. Let me repeat that. He TOOK THE WEEKEND OFF. That hasn’t happened in a while. Naturally, I took advantage of it.
Friday we drove to my parents place 4 hours away and spent the night. Mom and I bonded (again) over creative stuff. She’s making these cute aprons out of old jeans, and I offered to employ these new machine embroidery skills to fancy um up a little. #4 spent the 3 day weekend there while Terry and I drove to Atlanta Saturday and visited The 2 Happiest Places In The World. No,not Disney. The Dekalb Farmer’s Market and Gail K Fabrics.
At DFM, many ingredients were aquired AND I learned something entirely new that made complete sense but had never occurred to me. The DFM is highly international, catering to all sorts of people fromall over the world, with a heavy emphasis on North Africa and The Middle East. Thus you tend to see many Muslims there. Now, I’ve seen plenty of women in Hijab (the hair covered modest dress bit) but had only seen pictures of women in a niqab (the whole covering thing that’s black, with just a slit for the eyes). Well, there was a family there, and the woman was completely covered in the black niqab. Froma distance I saw her and thought “I wonder if that’s hot” then at one point we were crowded together in a narrow aisle, and I got a good close look at her and what she was wearing. I was amazed…that thing was beautiful! It had a 4 inch wide black embroidered border with beading, and was made of what looked like some kind of lightweight silk so it was very flowy. Talk about Style! AND I learned something new!
So now I’m all stocked up for Christmas baking, and Terry helped me pick out some pretty fabric for a dress at Gail K. The fabric is a supple black knit with tiny white spots,very conservative and just right for Fall. AND it will look great with the red shoes I want.
And…apparently everything went ok while we were gone. Even with 2 of the 3 older boys back in the house. I admit to a bit of trepidation if #3 needs to come back, even though we had room for all 4 boys when we moved here, we don’t anymore having converted one of the bedrooms to my studio and I am NOT giving that up. Perhaps he could sleep under the pool table. Perhaps if he gets in that sort of a crunch, he’ll join the Navy. One can hope.
Ok, last post was all about a fancy sewing project.
Yesterday, I was just sitting down with a pad of paper, to start drawing, figuring out a pattern for The Project. I was pondering hard, breaking a sweat over details, and Terry called.
“I have to make a run to Atlanta, want to ride with me?”
“Sure! Do you think we’d have time to go to Gail K?”
“Maybe, time will be tight, but we’ll see.”
So naturally, the chance to spend a few hours with my All Time Favorite Person combined with the possibility of going to my New Best Retail Friend was all it took.
So, we made the trip, and Terry got his Necessary Thing done in the nick of time (a 3pm deadline and he walked through the door at 2:58, and delivered The Package into the hands of the person who needed it) and he was so flamin’ RELIEVED to be DONE WITH THAT, that he was cheerfully willing to drive all the way across Atlanta in Friday Afternoon Traffic, just so I could go Gail K.
And THEN…he, Paul Bunyan in Short Sleeves and every bit of a Manly Man, helped me choose the perfect lace for The Project. There he was, all 6’3″ of his hairy self, eyeballing and feeling laces, commenting on ‘this one’s too sparkly’ and ‘this one’s polyester, wouldn’t look right on that fine silk’ all the time getting eyeballed by several fey young men in skinny jeans and me, in sensible shoes and khaki pants, being equally hairy-eyeballed by Edgy Young Women with tattoos and uncomfortable (tho stylish) shoes. See, Gail K is a magnet for budding designers, as they carry an unreal selection of nearly everything textile. And yes…we found THE PERFECT lace, a rich chocolate brown, with enough heft to it that it will serve almost like a corset on The Project.
And I found a funky button for another project…for Gail K also has the most amazing selection of every sort of oddball button you could hope for.
For the past 25 years, The Dekalb Farmer’s Market has been our Must Go place in Atlanta. Now Gail K is as well.
AND I got to spend a solid 12 hours in the car with my favorite person, AND he was able to find all the bits he needed for a project at work, by clearing every Pet’Smart between Northside Atlanta and Macon of their large aquarium pumps, gang valves, and airstones.
And coconut rum. But that’s a story for another day
Ok, We have this friend. We’ve know him and his wife (Hi Michelle!~~) for many years. Part of his job requires him to go to China a couple of times a year, and he inevitably asks “What can I bring you?” Usually I say “oh I don’t know. I don’t need anything.” But not this time.
Oh no. This time I said “10 yards of ivory silk, please.” I didn’t care what kind. Charmeuse, Peau de Soie, georgette….didn’t care. I just wanted some. So he (bless him!) said “OK!” then called Terry from China and told him that alas,since the fabric he could find was 36 inches wide instead of 45, he got 17 meters and it’s not ivory, but a light tan (like coffee with LOTS of cream in it) is that ok?
Is that ok, he asks. He’s bringing me 17 meters of fine Chinese silk…and I’m going to complain because it’s 17 meters of cafe’ latte instead of 10 yards of ivory? Well ok fine, if that’s all you can find I guess it will have to do.
I decided to wait and see what exactly it was before deciding what to do with it. Annnnd…
It’s charmeuse. CHARMEUSE! I LOVE THAT STUFF! Drapey and light and flowey and so feminine and not stiff at all! And not sheer either…
So…I was surfing around my favorite vintage clothing sites looking for inspiration. Have you ever watched a movie with Myrna Loy in it- like The Thin Man movies…and noticed what she wears? That’s what I want to make. Structured yet floating. Feminine but with authority…
and came across this. Seriously, please, please go look at it.What do you think? I want to make this. Lace will need to be found, but I know just the place. Terry has promised a trip to Atlanta soon, to find such lace.
This one, in the pictures, is tiny. The hips on it are a solid 34 inches. (what a cow, right?) I’m going to make a bigger one, more Rubenesque, probably a size 16-18, because I think that cut would look fabulous on a larger woman.
I hope there’s enough fabric to make a gown to go with, but the robe comes first.
Ok, yesterday I went to Peaches house. She wanted some help figuring out how to install and use her ruffler, a complicated and scary looking device that is actually HUGE fun to use, but she couldn’t figure it out and neither could I. I didn’t think about this. Anyway, we futzed around with it for a while and couldn’t figure it out. So she said “Let’s go to Savannah to the store where I bought it.” and proceeded to tell me the life story of the woman who owns the store on the way down there.
I have a ruffler for my old machine, and a ruffler is essentially a ruffler, but different brands install differently, and we simply could not figure out how hers went in.
Then she said “you know what…you need a more contemporary machine. The one I gave you is old. Here, take this one” and handed over a BAM POW sewing machine (I thought the last one was BAM POW but apparently it’s just POW) that does everything but the laundry. And now my head is full of visions of this reproduction clothing WITH EMBROIDERY on the collars, cuffs and hemlines. AND, that place we went, with the woman who knows stuff? CARRIES SOFTWARE for the machine! Of embroidery patterns that are HISTORICALLY PROPER for the stuff I want to make! I plotzed. Right there.
So, in exchange for figuring out how to do the machine embroidery of the type Peaches wants on her heirloom childrens clothing, and doing it for her, I get the use of the BAM POW machine and all the WHOOPDEDOO accessories, and can use it on my own stuff as well!
And we did get the ruffler figured out.
And I realize I’ve kind of been ALL SEWING ALL THE TIME here lately, but those of you’ve who’ve read my stuff for any amount of time know that I get on an idea like a freight train, and it’s all I think about until something new comes along. #4 will be coming home in a week, from having been gone for 2 months, so you’ll probably be hearing about him a good bit.
Filed under: crafty!
Research has located many fine fabrics I want for making vintage style nightgowns and robes. Also located are many excellent and detailed photographs of actual vintage garments, from which I’ll be able to make patterns and knock-offs. Naturally, because according to a friend I was apparently royalty in a past life (or at the very least, a Texas Land Baron’s Spoiled Wife…refer to Maureen O’Hara in “McLintock”), without any effort I was drawn to the most expensive and least available fabrics on the flamin’ PLANET. I found The Perfect Lace…at $800 a yard. The Perfect cotton lawn print (lawn is a soft and thin fabic) for $75 a yard. The robes I am wanting to make take 8-10 yards of fabric and 2 of lace. You do the math. More research is definitely involved. I now understand why couture clothing is so expensive. Terry told me of when he was working elsewhere, and some designer had them print small batches of specific prints, then they were required to destroy the print screens, and yes, it was a costly process. One of the designs I’ve worked on requires a large button, and I’d like to make a hand painted one. There is a local ceramics shop where you can go in and paint things, and they’ll glaze and fire them for you. Terry suggested that I go there and see if they’d make buttons I could paint. That would be cool, no? One of a kind hand made couture robe with a hand painted button? Yes, that would be nice.
I DID, however and happily, find washable cotton velvet for $6 a yard, and silk dupioni for less than $10. Dupioni is WONDERFUL stuff because not only is it SILK (and who doesn’t love that), it’s WASHABLE, and gets softer and lovelier with each washing, but it also comes in irridescent weaves- that is, the warp is one color (let’s say, light blue) and the weft is another (let’s say, silver) so depending on the angle you look at it, it could be light blue or silver, which is gorgeous. I can totally see a beautiful silk dupioni dressing gown with a handmade silver button (the ceramics place ALSO has silver clay, which is silver powder embedded in a clay matrix that burns away in the kiln, and the silver power fuses into a solid, leaving behind a solid silver whateveritis.)
Etsy and Ebay. Yeppers.
I cannot afford to make anything requiring 10 yards of $75 yard fabric. I can, however, manage 10 yards of free fabric, which I will not reveal my sources, but the fabrics are wonderful and fine and soft. There are several designs that do not require any lace at all, and if I sell them, I’ll turn the money around and start getting the cotton velvet and such, with an aim toward warmer styles for the upcoming winter. Maybe, ONE DAY, when my ship comes in and if I get a commission from someone willing to front the $2000 it would take to make it, I’ll be able to make the beautiful lace and cotton lawn set that fills my dreams. Until then, I’ll print out a picture of it and hang it on the wall.
I’ll also put some pictures up here for you to see, when I’m ready.
Filed under: crafty!
When I have a creative flow going, my mind works on the project du jour ALL THE TIME. I dream about it, and wake up with solutions to problems, or AH HAH ideas for improving things. A few days ago, I realized the bathrobe I was wearing (which I love) is over 10 years old, faded and stained. I have had a desire for a very long time for one of those glamorous 1940′s dressing gowns like you see women wearing in the old movies, with the shoulders and long,full skirt, but with certain modern conveniences, like not being made of silk georgette (not exactly something you’d want to wear while cooking bacon), but out of a practical cotton blend broadcloth, and not so fitted that I couldn’t wear it on Fat Days, with perhaps elastic in certain areas, instead of stitched down pleats.
So yesterday I went in search of such a pattern, and found one…a vintage vogue pattern from 1951, very nice…and $75. Um. No. However! Hobby Lobby has a sale right now on McCalls Patterns, which tend to have plenty of classic styles, for just 99 cents! Considering they’re usually $10…Jackpot, eh! SO, because Terry understands fashion, having worked for many years at Vanity Fair with the designers there, I discussed options, alterations and possibilities with him. And we came up with A Plan.
I found some lovely fabric, a calico in blues and white, very classic. Some flat lace to trim the edge of the shawl collar. I’m going to take a dress pattern that has princess seams (very flattering to a not so wonderful figure) and size it up to make it loose. The front panels will be widened so I can overlap them to make a wrap robe. The back will have a bit of wide elastic sewn in, so it will gather close in to my back, but still be flexible, and a wide sash of the same fabric. The skirt will have a bit of width added at the hem, so the fitted part of the body will be maintained but with a nice wide sweep at the bottom. Possibly, in the interest of not having to buy 10 yards of fabric and having a ton of waste, I may put in a seam at the waist and sew in the skirt, but no gathers. Long sleeves, gathered a bit at the shoulders with very deep somewhat fitted cuffs. Not as full and fitted as Victorian or Edwardian Leg-o-Mutton sleeves, but more like a modern interpretation. I still need to be able to cook bacon without making a mess or catching on fire.
All this came to me in the middle of the night. I was having a dream that I was a spy, gathering evidence at Home Depot about some sort of espionage. While I was in my hotel room with papers spread everywhere, drinking coffee and tapping on my computer, I stood up and picked this robe up off the bed to put on, and it was as described above. Ahah! I woke up and committed it to memory. After running it by Terry and getting his input (it’s great to be married to someone who understands terms like Leg O Mutton and princess seams, just like he enjoys being married to someone who knows what a mortis-and-tenon is, or why you don’t make a table leg cross-grain), I’m ready to start laying out the cloth and drawing on it with chalk.
Hears a question for y’all out there: Would you want to wear a styled dressing gown type robe, as opposed to the boxy kimono (and I agree they’re very comfortable) that seems to be all you can find these days? I’ve looked all over, from cheap Walmart to La Perla, and cannot find a fitted sort of dressing gown
Summer is definitely here. The weather forecast predicts days in the mid-high 90′s for the rest of the week, and even at 7am the air conditioner is blowing and ceiling fans are on. I love ceiling fans.
Anyway, in the interest of Summer, (and assuming I am not whisked away in the Rapture sometime this afternoon), everything is all lined up to take advantage of the cool A/C and wonderful produce available at the local Veg stand.
sewing. A friend is going to Chicago for a wedding next week, and wants her 3 daughters to have coordinating outfits. She asked me to make them and i am having a BLAST doing it. The daughters are 13,6 and 3, and making outfits that are age appropriate, coordinating but not matching, that pleases both very conservative parents and still manages to be something the girls will wear (ok, the 13 yr old will wear, the younger ones are easier to please) has been a challenge but enormous fun. I fininshed the 13 yr old’s first- an ivory circle skirt with a matching circle slip (the ivory fabric is thin and requires another layer), and the slip has an olive green tulle ruffle on it that peeks out from under the hem of the skirt *and* a wide sash made of the print fabrics that the younger girls dresses are made of. She loved it. Dad loved it because it’s long enough (just above the knee). The younger girls have print dresses with a coordinating print trim, and ruffles made of the same tulle on the older sister’s skirt, and long pantaloons to wear under the dresses.
cooking: as it’s going to be really hot, and who wants potroast or meatloaf when it’s 97 outside and you’ve been working in a 110 degree mill all day? not Terry, nor CJ. David has been put to work here doing yardwork, and starts school and (hopefully) a new job Monday, and Eli is being forced to spend lots of time outside at school- they’re done with the
curicullui currucul…er..classwork in all but math and science, so the teachers shoo them outside for kickball and sweatiness the rest of the time, and he comes home hot and tired, therefore meals are salads and sandwiches.
We love fancy sandwiches. Last night: grilled chicken sliced thin, sliced tomatoes (from the local veg stand-FABULOUS!), fresh mozzerella sliced, fresh microgreens (from the garden) and pesto mayonnaise (jarred pesto, as the basil isn’t up good yet) on grilled ciabatta rolls. y’all….YUM. Just mix a heaping spoonful of pesto with a big blob of mayo…MMmmMMMMMmm.
Tonight will be a grilled steak caesar salad. Emeril has a great caesar dressing that I’ve made before and is really easy. I’ve learned to keep a tube of anchovy paste handy, so I don’t have to open a whole can of them to get just 1 or 2 filets to make the dressing. Gonna slice a loaf of french bread, rub it with garlic and grill it to go with. The whole rest of the week is sandwiches and salads and grilled stuff, so the kitchen won’t get hot and I can put David to work cooking. He’s quite the master at the grill, having worked the grill at Dairy Queen for a year.
So let me ask you this: Do you have any favorite salad and sandwich recipes you can share?
Filed under: crafty!
So after I wrote, a pad of paper and a pencil was located, and I got to sketching. Then I remembered this incredibly old, soft amazing white tablecloth I picked up at an estate sale for like…a nickel. And it’s huge. Lotda fabric in there, cotton jaquard sort of thing and got to thinking…overalls. Loose, and gathered with funky pockets and knots at the shoulders instead of buttons…or maybe really big pearl buttons but I like the knots idea. And ruffles made of something else lighter weight, gauze, maybe or even tulle, perhaps. At the cuffs on the legs and maybe little bitty ruffles on the pockets. So I drew. #4 peeked over my shoulder and said “oh that’s cute! I wouldn’t wear it but I can totally see (girly girl X in the first grade) wearing that.
I was planning on taking that tablecloth and cutting it down into shams, but a set of overalls, maybe in a size 6 or so, and they’ll be loose enough someone smaller or bigger could wear them…hmmmm gonna run this by Peaches and see what she thinks. With a t-shirt underneath, maybe embellish the shirt with a ribbon or two….
Gonna hafta hit some flea markets and estate sales for fabrics….hmmmmm
So! I have this friend who makes these incredible amazing childrens dresses…you know, the french hand sewn Victorian gorgeous things that…welll…you know…gorgeous. She’s also the Preacher’s Wife. Anyway. We had prayer group today and she says to me “Peg, I need to talk to you afterward if you can stay a bit.” so I go “ooookay…am I in trouble? do I pray wrong? what have I done?” and she says “you are such a Methodist…”
So then she says “come here and look at this.” and shows me this website full of the craziest, most feminine Bohemian Meets Edwardian clothes you could possibly imagine.
“It’s like Victorian on crack!” she tells me.
“Roland hates this stuff!” she says (that’s her husband the Preacher)
“Don’t you think this stuff would translate beautifully into childrens clothes?”
and I’m thinking
“that would make amazing childrens clothes.”
so we start churning out ideas.
“What’s that fabric?”
“That looks like cotton gauze”
“That looks like pillow ticking.”
“That looks like tulle, you’d want to use silk tho, not nylon.”
“I could do that.”
“Oh I know a fabric store in Augusta…”
“Oh I bet you could take this pattern from Folkwear and adapt it…”