Painted Bunting

Ah, it’s finally spring in the northern hemisphere, at least officially that is.  It’s the time for one of my favorite parts to spring besides the newly awakened flowers – the bird activity!  The snow birds are leaving town and both our ‘normal’ varieties of avian creatures as well as unusual visitors will be showing up through this next month.  Then the sweet but noisy baby birds will be coming!  I am one who admittedly has a “life list” of species I’ve spotted, and although birding is no longer as serious of a deal that it was when I was a teen, I now have a dress for that.

Novelty prints are not really my “thing” but this bird one is winning me over.  It is such a bright and cheerful print of what is probably fantasy songbirds, but they remind me of all my vivid-colored, real-life  favorites – the kestrel, the redstart, orioles, warblers, or my ‘yet-to-be-seen spotter’s life goal’ the painted bunting.  However, this post’s title is appropriate in more than one sense!  With its swishy, full, mullet hemline and peek-a-boo flashes of skin, my dress is fully lined in a hot pink cotton for both unexpected fun in my fashion and to have a non-poly comfort against my skin.  I’m carrying a celebration of cheerfulness with me when I wear this dress!

The fact that this dress has received top rating from my 6 year old is proof of the happiness this dress exudes.  He always laughs, smiles, and is like glue to me just to study the print – if I ever want to make his (and my) day better, I wear this.  Want proof?  My son made me a necklace that matches.  It was totally a surprise project of his.  Someone brought a beading kit to keep the kids busy after church one Sunday and he was busy making something for me in all the colors, but extra beads in especially the ones I love – turquoise, purple, and pink!  Together with earrings from my Grandma which remind me of baby robin eggs, this is a combo that is spring and summer embodied for me.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The bird print is a buff finish polyester satin while the solid bright pink lining is a poly and cotton blend broadcloth

PATTERN:  Burda Style “Cut Out Dress” pattern #116B from August 2014

NOTIONS:  All I needed was thread!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This was a quickie compared to how it looks a bit complex – 6 to 7 hours and finished on April 19, 2017

TOTAL COST:  I didn’t really wait for a sale to buy this – it was too cute to wait and see if there was going to be any left!  However, I did buy it years back at the (now defunct) Hancock Fabrics so sorry if you want some, too!  It was about $7 for each of the 3 yards…and the broadcloth was a few dollars a yard too.  Thus – my total is about $20.

Everything matched up well for this pattern and the instructions were decent (not as great as sometimes).  However I did go up in size and I’m glad I did.  The bust and shoulders seem to run small in my opinion, but then again I did not want a tight fit for a breezy balmy weather dress made out of a non-stretch woven material.  I also brought the shape of the neckline in just a tad – straightening out the dip of the scoop in front and bringing in the sides so as to cover my brassiere straps better.  The neckline now appears to be more of a wide boatneck, but it is still easy to slip over the head as well as complimentary open around the neck, just now compatible with normal lingerie.  Finally, I slightly lengthened the front half of the hem line to the skirt.  All these changes I am so glad I had done at the cutting stage.  I do not think I would like my dress as much as I do if I hadn’t have done such adjustments.

I do love how this dress is a balance of simple and complex depending on how you look at it.  The pattern pieces were rather interesting, too.  From the front it has clean lines – straight, shorter skirt and a basic bodice with cut-on kimono cap sleeves and only a flashing hint of the ‘party in the back’.  From the back, the skirt has a full sweep – like a lovely cape – in midi length and the bodice is separated from the waistline for some skin baring in an uncommon spot.

The cut out ‘window’ at the back waistline more than just a feature, though – is adjustable with a drawstring going through the casing made around the oval opening so you can customize your coverage to your liking.  I love when personal preference is considered in fashion!  This design also makes this dress a pull-on which needs no zipper!  You loosen up the gathers to pop it on, then pull the drawcord ends (one long 1/4 strip made of the dress’ fabric) to close the back as you prefer.  The back opening as you see it on me is almost as small as it will go, so if you like this design, too, keep that in mind.   The half waistband that is in the front of the dress merely basic and comfy elastic kept in a casing made of the seam allowance.

Such a design detail of an open back above the waistline can be seen on the sporty dresses and versatile playsuits of the vintage world of fashion.  I notice similar styling from the 1940s to the 1970s.  In the case of this Burda dress, the back opening sort of makes it look like the bodice is only connected at the front and side waistline.

In the cases of vintage styles which are similar the bodice and bottoms can be actually disconnected for completely versatile set!  There is a modern (readily available) New Look sewing pattern which offers the same cute and ingenious styling as the 40’s and 50’s counterparts I showed as just a few examples.  However, none of them include a high-low hemline, as well.

If you’ve been following my site for awhile you may have noticed I do enjoy a high-low hem.  This style of skirt does show up here and there in my projects because I like it only in small doses.  This particular variety of a mullet hem is my favorite yet.  It has a fantastic sweep due to the back opening gathers – just the back half of the skirt was such a large pattern piece it practically was one yard in itself.  The lining underside the skirt really makes the most out of the hem shape because if you’re gonna see the ‘wrong side’ make it worth noticing.

Full body lining is the absolute best thing for this dress, I do believe.  The pattern needs to be amended from henceforth to include this step.  I don’t know about you, but I hate the feeling of a polyester fabric on my skin…man-made fibers aggravate both my body and my mental state in more ways than one.  So – to keep both my sanity and comfort whenever I do succumb to the cuteness of a polyester fabric, I line such garments in good old cotton broadcloth.

No, really, though – full body lining also makes the edge finishing so much cleaner and fuss-free.  No tiny hemming to do, and no raw fraying edges to deal with either.  I love a clean inside as much as I love how nice my garments look on the outside when on myself.  You can see the clean, no-seam hot pink lining side through the open armholes, too, and do so enjoy a garment that has its innards visible when they are done as nicely as this!  It’s not that much extra work – sure it takes twice as much fabric – but it is worth it in the end product.  For me, I guess sewing is not just materializing an idea or feeling, neither is it just crafting something I need or want.  I suppose my habit of finely finished insides say that what I love about sewing is the beauty and the art of it.

Cedar Waxwings I spotted in my parents’ backyard!

The ultimate magnificence is in nature, however, and birds are the cheerful feathered announcers that living is to be celebrated.  I am lucky to have had up-close and personal time with birds – especially the time I took a class on bird banding as a teen and actually held my favorite local feeder visitors.  Then, there is the time I was by a creek painting some flowers and a hummingbird buzzed me, coming up to within inches of me, seemingly thinking I was something which needed checking out.  Yes, the thing I love about birds is the best way to enjoy them – stop the busyness of life, listen with your heart, and soak in the cathartic benefits of realizing their simple but indispensable existence.  Something as insignificant as this post’s home-made piece of clothing, no matter how fabulous, reminds me of the greater beauty of life around me.

Advertisements

“Mystery Blogger” Award

I’m so humbled and honored to share the fact that Emily of “The Pretty and the Kitsch” has nominated me for the “Mystery Blogger” award.  Thank you so much for this wonderful surprise!  This means a lot to me and really bolsters me up.  I’ll not be shy in saying I am proud of what I have to offer on my little space on the Internet, and do find that the time and effort to do it is a real pleasure that brings out the best in me.  Yet sometimes I need to hear that what I do is appreciated (don’t we all?) and so this has been such a lovely blessing.

“Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by: Okoto Enigma

Here are “The Rules” to the “Mystery Blogger Award”:

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, with one weird or funny one
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

And so to begin…

Three Things About Myself:

  • As much as I love to talk and write, I do not like talking about my personal self at all unless it’s in the context of some point I want to make or reference, or do some good.  I don’t know why.  Yes, I can be shy but also very outgoing…I guess it’s just a matter of being content with myself and enjoying a good conversation with others.  I have done a lot of varied and curious things in my life and know a range of subjects that keep surprising people I know, so I probably am interesting.  Yet, I do not like to lay those things out there generally.  Thus, consider this post as me being very brave and please respect the fact that I am going out of my comfort zone here!

 

  • I do love cars…a small percentage of the reason I am nicknamed “Seam Racer”. In particular, I love 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000 era fast sports cars, especially if they are a stick shift, manual transmission.  Years back, I passed up a reasonably priced vintage Lotus Esprit, and I still kind of wish I had gone for it, but I do love my “baby”, a hot red ’93 Ford Probe (with only 60K original miles mind you!) and taught myself how to drive a stick shift on her.  This led to me figuring out why a stick shift works the way it does, to learning more about cars than I thought I ever would, to knowing how to make the most out of my car’s peppy motor just so I can be the very first among other cars to get up to the speed limit when taking off from a stop light.  My little racing “baby” makes driving so much more fun than most people ever know it can be.  One day I want to find an old empty giant parking lot or a lonely winding road and really see what she can do with me behind the wheel.  Zero to sixty in a handful of seconds?  Yes, please!

 

  • I not only stick to being creative through sewing, but I also love almost all other aspects of the arts and crafts world. I think I have an inbred desire to see something made with my hands.  Ever since I was little, I have made what I wanted with my hands using what was on hand. If I wanted a playhouse, I used a cardboard box to make something way cooler (and cheaper) than anything I saw out there for my parents to buy.  If I get excited about a book or setting, or just want a new picture to hang on the wall, I paint or draw something.  It’s the same with my clothes creating too, I suppose.  If I see it, or if I visualize it, or come up with an idea, I make it happen.  I can make jewelry, do calligraphy, make plastic models, cut hair, make rubber stamps, I can do flower arranging (I had been a florist for a year), mix and master music, or just plain make a killer meal.  I love it all and do it in spurts, although with a family and a household to take care of, I’m am mostly focused on sewing and writing at the moment.

Now – Questions for me to answer:

If you had a time machine, where in time would you take it to first and why?

I love history.  Pick a time, any time or place.  This is too hard to narrow down…really.

If you could be a character in any book, film or TV show, who would you like to be?

This is also tough!  I would have to say I would love to be a companion to some of the heroes in the half-fictional classic stories that I love, ones that seemed so real to me when I read that that I’ve almost been half-there.  There is “King Solomon’s Mines” in which the intrepid but wise Allen Quartermain would take me through the most dangerous yet picturesque regions of Africa to meddle in the action arising from the Zulu and Boer Wars.  Or I could visit “Prisoner of Zenda”, where I could see the handsome Rudolf (or Rupert) in the imaginary territory of Ruritania and get to know the Princess Flavia better.  Or there is Narnia, of which I still half-hope to find a portal to one day, and I would love to go there with Jill Pole or Lucy Pevensie.  So I suppose this is not really the clearest answer to the question, but the most honest one.

Who would you say inspires you the most?

My Grandmother (on my dad’s side), who died early in 2017, is my greatest inspiration on so many levels, I can’t even explain it right now.  I miss her so much.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would have to be a rounded out meal, because I love a good amount of meat, with veggies and a starch or carb at every supper, with a healthy dessert.  I can certainly live without sugar, I don’t have much now the way it is.  I really don’t know though.  There is hardly any food that I don’t like so this would be a very hard punishment for me.  I like variety in my meals, and I cannot live without the occasional strong drink or rich morsel of chocolate.  Whatever, I could chose here would be something I would regret.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Bi-location, definitely.  (I guess this would count as a super power!)  I have so much to do, remember, and take care of, that I am often sorely aware at how much I wish I could use that time to spend instead on other things I would rather enjoy.  If I could bi-locate, part of me could do the soccer and t-ball game drop-off for my son, house cleaning, wash the laundry, make meals (not all meals mind you, I enjoy cooking but do need breaks), pay bills, and other boring adult/mom things so that I could actually find leisure time to enjoy blogging and sewing better, write my dream stories, read more books, practice my other artistic outlets, or just sit in the sun with my dog for just a handful of examples.

So – enough about me!  (Yes, please!) To return the “Mystery Blogger Award” favor to others, now, here is my list of 15, in no particular order:

Now for my 5 questions to those bloggers I have nominated to answer!

  • What everyday tool could you not live without?
  • Do you have a preferred heel height for your shoes?
  • What is next on your “bucket list”?
  • Who makes you laugh the most?
  • Is there a pet that you wish you could have?…no limit!

That should sum things up here!  Thank you again, Emily, for nominating me for this!  Go visit her blog and show her some extra love, too. I want to end this post with something very important – that every one of you dear readers also gives me a little award for every comment and viewing.  Thank you as well!  I wish I could have a mile long list to include all of you for a nomination.

World War Two Weekend 2018

Last weekend was the annual WWII reenactment that we attended and I thought I would share with you some pictures of the event.  This weekend event has been going on in the spring at the historic Jefferson Barracks for over 30 years now, and it was especially perfect weather to make it even more enjoyable this year.  Almost every one out of 6 years is terribly cold, muddy and rainy!  This time it was balmy with a clear sky.  We met some new, wonderful people and there was a good turnout.  My 5 year old had a blast.

I had two different outfits for the two days, each of them half me-made, and both definitely worth sharing.  These outfits are something you don’t see every day!  To have a change of pace from my ‘normal’ posts, this one will be picture heavy with the traditional history nuggets.

For Saturday I was a British Women’s Land Army girl and my hubby was an Army 2nd Lieutenant Engineer.  Both of our jackets are true vintage.  My pants are the ones I blog about here (from 1943), tucked into the reproduction “Rosie” boots from Royal Vintage shoe company.  By me wearing these military style “Double Buckles” boots, I am reenacting a Land Girl which would be doing other chores than farming, such as at a “Lumber Jill” part of the forestry division called the “Timber corps”.  The girls who worked in the fields often had tall black rubber “Wellington” boots (galoshes).

The British Women’s Land Army (WLA) was a British civilian organization created during the First and Second World Wars so women could work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military. Women who worked for the WLA were commonly known as Land Girls.  Even though the word “army” is in the title designation, it was actually a civilian organization. Before the Second World War, Britain had imported much of its food. When war broke out and U-boats were destroying many merchant ships bringing supplies to Britain from America, it was necessary to grow more food at home and increase the amount of land in cultivation.  Since many active and healthy men were joining the military, women were needed to fill their shoes and more. The WLA continued in existence even after the war had ended, as food rationing continued until 1950 when it was disbanded. During the time of its work, the WLA had provided 90,000 women to work on the land and had kept Britain in food for the duration of the war. Though Britain had rationing, no-one actually starved during this time – a testament to the work done by the WLA.  (Info from here, here, and here.)

DSC_0104-comp,,three part combo

However, the details to this original jacket share their own interesting story.  It is quite the sturdy garment, made of a heavy cotton twill, but it was obviously made in a hurry.  Many of the seams are not flat felled properly, the way the raw edges hang out in random spots.  The top stitching is a bit wonky, and some of the bobbin thread to the machine sewing did not catch properly.  Now, I am not criticizing, just seeing all of this as a sign that probably resources were low, time was short, and these garments were sorely needed!  The hem is surprisingly interlock stitched…yes, just like modern serging.  My jacket is quite shorter than what I see on women in old pictures of WLA work, so I’m supposing that my jacket might have been hemmed at a more modern date – I’m not sure.  I do love how old extant garments have so much to teach and to tell.  There’s a story in every stitch.

One of the most practical details to this jacket that I love is the removable buttons.  They are very basic buttons indeed.  They seem to be formed plastic, in a military olive color, with a pin through the middle which has a loop at the back.  This way a round jump ring can keep the buttons’ pin backs in the tiny button holes down the left front of the jacket.  The cuffs have the same removable buttons, too.  For all the practicality that these show, I am sort of surprised that the belt is not made to be removable.  It is sewn down at the center back.  I must admit, this way I suppose the belt will not get lost or shift around on the garment.  What she is wearing should be the last concern for a Land Girl to get her jobs done!

For the second day of the event – Sunday – I wore a Women’s Army uniform that is admittedly not perfect, as it is still a work-in-progress, but decent enough for the day.  My skirt is a lovely cotton twill straight skirt made by me from a 1946 pattern for a suit set that I have made, just not yet blogged about.  However the jacket has not so authentic roots.  This began as a basic, cheap reproduction that fit me decently well, and was close enough to the real thing in style lines that I figured I could just use the matching skirt to cut up and refashion more jacket details such as pocket flaps, an extra back bodice panel, and shoulder epaulettes.  I even added shoulder pads.  The details of a real women’s Army jacket are all there, as I believe.

My left shoulder badge is for the Army Ground Forces – a unit established with a mission to provide units properly trained for combat operations, especially organizing of task forces for special operations.  Army Ground Force personnel made over 40 major landings on enemy shore and accounted for nearly 80 percent of the Army’s battle casualties, while capturing over 3 million prisoners.  Women were part of the Army Ground Forces (AGF) – frequently assigned to Armor and Cavalry schools as radio mechanics, they took care of requisitions involving radio equipment, repaired and installed radios in tanks or other vehicles, and even trained men in code sending and receiving (info from here).

At some point, if I do more reenacting or if a women’s Army jacket in my size happens to cross my path at a good price, well – I plan on ditching this repro version for the real thing and using this imitation as an Agent Peggy Carter uniform, like what she wore in the “Captain America: The First Avenger” movie.  I can totally see Peggy being a part of the Army Ground Forces, anyway, especially since she was excellent at code breaking.  Until I find a real-deal uniform, I realize I need some more pocket buttons, and some appropriate lapel pins (I left Peggy Carter’s SSR pins on, sorry I’m not sorry!) to be at a WWII event.

Trying to do dedicated, full out authentic reenacting on a budget can be hard and time consuming.  It is worth doing right, though, because this is more than fun…it’s sharing history and retelling what happened to others by putting yourself in a place back in time.  By either participating or attending a re-enactment is a very special way to learn history that makes what is read in books come to life!

A copy of the “Schlüsselmaschine Enigma” (Enigma Machine) the hardware invented by a German and used by Britain’s codebreakers as a way of deciphering German signals traffic during World War Two.

If you want to see pictures from the other years’ WWII weekend, see this post for 2015, and this picture and this post, or even this one, for 2016!

A Random Pattern Piece Find…

Sometimes my vintage sewing patterns hide little surprises inside.  In the case of the year 1934 McCall #7823, a tap pants and bra set from the previous post, there was a lonely sleeve pattern from a completely different unmatched envelope.  What has been your weirdest find inside a pattern envelope?  This is I suppose not the strangest or most exciting, but it is random and makes me scratch my head at the history paper patterns hold.

 The random tissue piece is for a “short sleeve” with the number McCall #5918, in a size 16.  Why would a pattern for undergarments have a sleeve pattern randomly shoved in it?  I guess it really doesn’t do any good to ask why, I’ll not figure that out!  However, thanks to the internet, I can see what the rest of the pattern did look like (below) and find what year it came from.  This sleeve piece is from a stunning pattern that is of the year 1944, ten years after the date of the envelope I found it in!

Until this lonely orphan finds the rest of its match, I will keep it on its own and maybe try it out on a sleeveless garment.  However, there must be an existent pattern out there somewhere to have an image to share, and it’s probably missing a sleeve piece, too!  The front bodice of that dress is killer sexy, anyway!  I am laying out this info in the hopes that one of you lovely readers perhaps just might have this pattern.  I offer a pattern trade so my sleeve pattern could be a complete design.  A pattern copy for a pattern copy?

The “Summer of the Pinafore”

Several months ago when Mena Trott (of Sew Weekly fame) and I were brainstorming the Sew-along on Instagram called the “Summer of the Pinafore”, we became mutually interested in this curious garment.  As odd as a pinafore might look, it’s really so versatile and practical.  Just think, a pinafore’s generous pockets serve as mini purses attached to ones clothes.  Its frilly personality makes it fun, fresh, and pretty.  Its multi-purpose “sundress-apron-jumper” design makes it something for mostly any season with the right fabric.  An assortment of trimmings and even a wild or quaintly cute print only makes the pinafore look better.  No really, this garment is meant to be there when you want to get things done and not worry about what to wear, like an old friend helping you out in your need.  And if you sew your own, it provides an opportunity to successfully use up things from your fabric and notions stash.

The “Summer of the Pinafore” is in its last week now (it ends at the first week of October) but I wanted to share some inspiration and knowledge to perhaps help others be motivated to join with me, to sew, or at least wear more pinafores outside of the sew-along.

So firstly – what exactly is a pinafore, after all?

A broad definition is that it is a collarless, sleeveless garment that implies an apron.  A pinafore is often (not always) tied or buttoned in the back, and may be a simple apron or a full sundress-like jumper for wearing over clothes.  This broadness and changing use of purpose for such a garment leads to much of the confusion as to what is a pinafore, after all…if you really want to “pin” down the term.  What doesn’t help clear things up is the added language differences for the same thing as well as nicknames – “pinny” (colloquial term), “training tabard” (for children), “smock” (full bodice), “jumper” (sweater top in British English), or the plain old “apron”.  The term “pinafore” certainly should be on a list of quirky and interesting sewing and garment related terms.

To go with a technical explanation, the very name of this garment reflects how the pinafore was worn. The original pinafores had no buttons and were simply “pinned” onto the front, “afore” the body, which led to the conjunction “pinafore”.  The last few centuries have seen this staple in the history of garment wearing evolve in use, shape, and purpose.  Over the next few posts, I will add to this discussion when I share my two vintage pinafores which I made.

Pinafores are a quaint, sensible yet embellished article of clothing which has stood the test of time, and deserve to make a comeback in some form or fashion.  Yet, just because they are vintage does not mean they cannot still find their appeal today either!  My next “convertible” creation will hopefully demonstrate that – stay tuned!

Save

Save

Save

Save