Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Catch Up

I have not posted in a little bit, but we have been very, very busy with visitors, projects, food, turning doughnuts in the snow in the back field, staying up too late and sleeping too late, enjoying each other's company, and just chilling. You know, the same stuff I hope everyone else has had at least a little time for this holiday season.
It has been a little while since I last posted, and it seems to me that many, if not most of my more recent posts have been sewing related. Well, that is what I am into, so there is a good deal of that going on, but there is other stuff going on around here as well...mostly food related, which my waistline will attest. Some highlights follow:

My MIL and I made pierogis for Christmas Eve. Nearly 100 of them. Yum.

My daughter has started waving "hello" and "bye bye." It is amazing how the most commonplace things can mean all the world. 

We had a fabulous white Christmas with an 8"-10" dump of beautiful, powdery snow. 

My too-cool-for-words husband surfed a huge sled hill (on his tummy) while wearing a formal-ish London Fog overcoat. He really blew some tender country minds and got a lot of laughs. He has a great time, and doesn't care what anyone thinks about it, and that is why we love him.

We became the mountain shuttle service, as are the only ones among our visiting friends and family with an Awd Subaru. We love this car for it's dependability and hope it keeps up! She is 10 years old!

While we were snowed in I began sewing a dress from a 60s pattern using fabric my MIL sent me from Grandma's stash. I made a successful muslin from some old green curtain fabric, and I have since completed most of the bodice. I had intended to finish for Christmas, and then set my sights on New Year's Day, but maybe I should try for Valentine's Day. I can't rush the quality and care I am trying to put into my sewing, and I am still learning with every project. 

Here is a sneak peek at the pattern to give an idea of what I am attempting to sew. 

I am sewing the sleeveless version-2
Some excellent gifts were exchanged. Among them were a tea travel set that I positively love that my husband and I received from his mom and stepdad. I hope it will help me hydrate in style.

Other highlights were the pizza stone, skin, and screens we got my husband (more yum!), the toy singer sewing machine the baby got from her grandma, and the new Toshiba Portege laptop my loving husband got me. Yeah, he rocks. Yeah, I'm a little spoiled. I hope this will help me maintain my blog better, and I hope to beef up my Etsy shop and eBay selling. So, that's it for now- I have downloaded 2500 farm shots to this computer off of my iPhone, so I will be doing some catch up posting in the days to come. I'm going to try for at least twice a week in the new year.'s almost 20-freaking-11! Why does that sound like sci-fi to me? 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ignore the Jammies & Stumpy Ponytail

I finished a buttercup bag! I have been obsessively working on these
for a few days now, and have made the shells for several smaller bags.
I fastened one of those with a button and loop, made one a zipper top,
and this one I am fastening with a button and buttonhole instead of
the magnetic snap the pattern calls for. In case you are not familiar
with the buttercup bag it is from the Made by Rae website, and the
pattern for the small version can be had for free. It is so cute, I
paid the $10 for the large pattern and for a license to reproduce the
bags for sale. The purse sews up better in a heavier fabric than the
light cotton pictured here, but I love this fabric- I made it into my
House Blouse and a little dress. Well, I have a few more of these to
crank out for Christmas- I am not a procrastinator by nature, but
somehow I find myself in this same place every year...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Thrifting Gods Smile Down on Me Again!

I bought this earlier this week along with a vintage Kenmore. Both
work, and they were $5 together. The Singer was made in 1914, and
though it has some crud, it is quite pretty. It has been motorized and
had a light attached, and I have been having fun playing around with
it. I have my eyes on another machine that I will surely be selling,
and I will post pics of that little confection as soon as I get my
little paws on it!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Jewel

The dress is big, but not for long!
Who knows? It may fit by Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Vintage Christmas and What That Means to Me

  As you may or may not know, I am and always have been a lover of old things. When my husband, daughter and I take country drives, I can't help but squeal in delight when we pass an old farmhouse. Maybe it is because, being originally a New Englander, I grew up in houses built in the 1800s. My mother and father furnished our home in antique auction and flea market finds, and even as a child I could see and appreciate the difference between the quality and detail seen in relics of the past and the disposable and cheap nature of the "goods" of the present.
  This rant has a point.
  When I began to think about putting up our family Christmas tree this year, of course I longed for the ornaments that donned the trees of my childhood- lovely and delicate antique glass orbs, most of which had belonged to my father's grandparents. I loved them as much for their flaws as anything else. The crackling paint and age spots only made them unique in my eyes. As I began to peruse shops in search of tree trimmings, what I saw stood in stark contrast to my memory. First, ALL of the Christmas bulbs I saw were made in China, and as you may know, new goods from China are avoided in our household. Second, the bulbs I saw were mostly cheap, tacky, and too perfect- they lacked character and interest. I couldn't see myself buying these to hang on our tree, even secondhand. 
  Now, imagine my absolute delight when B and I went into a thrift store we stop in frequently, and there in the Christmas section were several boxes of vintage bulbs- shining and glorious in their faded, mottled, and crackled appearances. I bought four boxes of them for $4.50. I couldn't have outfitted my tree in some cookie cutter Chinese junk for that much. And the bonus? I checked the boxes, and all of these beauties were made in the good old U.S. of A., back when all sorts of things were made in America. One box was even manufactured near my old hometown in Lewiston, ME. That made me happy. Behold:

I especially like the striped ones- we had some like this when I was a child!

  I began thinking about this when I entered Denise of The Blue Gardenia blog's giveaway (it is over now); to enter you had to comment on why you like vintage sewing patterns. I carried this question further. I wondered, why do I like all of this old stuff? Why do I like old clothes and patterns, Christmas bulbs and furniture, books and jewelry, linens and odds and ends. And as our family decorated our first tree as a trio, I came to a proper answer. I think I feel respect for these items almost as one does for an old man or woman. They have lived lives, they have been read, worn, used, and admired from before I was even born, and surely some of the vintage and antique goods I have now will outlast me. I thought, as I hung each bulb on the tree, of the family before ours that hugged and smiled in the reflected light of these glass bulbs. Maybe they hung for their baby's first Christmas, as they will for ours. They are remnants of a time when Christmas was not as commercialized as it is now- when it was not a season of greed and good deals, but giving and goodwill. Well, at least in our little farmhouse, we are bringing it back this year. We will not be swept up in the mania that has come to represent the modern Christmas, and instead we will relish the soft glow of family and love, quality and charity, simple lives and simpler pleasures. It is all that was good of times past that we seek to keep alive when we embrace these little physical reminders and put them to use.   

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Girl's 10 Cent Christmas Dress

We have had a ton of stuff going on- a flurry of visitors, a Thanksgiving to be thankful for, and a serious amount of food.
My third bird! 
We have been recuperating with lots of fluids and a vegetarian diet this past week- I can see my feet...for now. We spent the holiday up at our parents' cabin, and therefore I was limited to sewing only yo-yos for a few days. Back at the farmhouse now, I picked up a project I had cut a couple of weeks ago and began sewing last night. Today I finished my little love's Christmas dress, and I am very pleased with the festive results:

Even more pleasing is the fact that this dress cost me ten cents to make. Yup- the only part I actually paid for was the vintage pattern, which I bought at the thrift store. 

I borrowed this photo [:)] Mine cost ten cents too!
I made view 3, but as I used fabric from a bag of quilting scraps my neighbor gave me, I didn't have enough to cut a full back panel. I improvised, making a back yoke to match the front yoke, and it worked out perfectly.

So, in addition to the free fabric, I used buttons, hem tape, and lace from my late Grandma Carey's stash, and I think she would be very pleased to know that her pretty trimmings were used to make her Great Grand-doll a Christmas frock. 

This hem tape has silver "tinsel" woven in. Perfect!

When I finished the dress, it was missing something. Thank goodness all of the trim at Wal-Mart is made in China!
I passed on all of that, and I found the perfect touch right in a bag of Grandma's beautiful vintage lace.

This pattern went together so easily, and I plan to make my girl several more of these little dresses before I am finished with it. I bought some bias tape thrifting today, and it just happened to be in Gator colors, so she will probably get a team spirit dress next, (her Da and Grand Da are both Gators). Yeah, they aren't doing that well this year, but she can only bring them good luck, right? 

Pictures of my little sweetie will follow soon in her new dress, as we are planning on putting a tree up this weekend and still need to get Christmas cards out. Christmas has been a source of stress and frustration to me in the past, but with our girl here now, Da and I are just basking in the glow of the holiday season, and we are doing our best to be right here now and enjoy all of the good things we have got. I hope you all are just as happy and healthy! I will post those pics as soon as I get 'em! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Little Rainbow

I finished Biggie's coat up last night. There are a couple of little wonky bits, but I'll either fix them, or keep it to myself. I don't want to spoil my accomplishment by pointing out the flaws. And who cares anyway? Look how freaking cute she is in her jacket:

It is snuggly and warm, and will be perfect for the time being until it is really cold. Then she will wear the super duper crazy warm jacket her grandma got her. 

I really enjoyed making this jacket for my little Gremlin, and my sewing confidence is improving. I sewed this entirely without instructions, so I must be getting the hang of the basics! I plan on diving right into a Christmas dress for her to wear in her holiday photos. That will be from a vintage pattern, and I already have the farbic cut out and ready to go. 

Oh, and yesterday I managed to turn a total fail, a thing that was supposed to be a shell with a mandarin collar, into a wearable tank with rib knit at the arm and necklines. it was my first time working with rib knit- it was super easy and the finished result is nice. The fit of my shirt isn't perfect, but it is just as good as rtw, and I am so happy I didn't waste all of that fabric. Up next for me is a pretty, vintage blouse. I think. I never know, sometimes I just go off on a tear, and I do still have a trench to finish...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby's Technicolor Dreamcoat

  I have been working on a jacket for Baby A. It is fleece, fully interlined with cotton batting, and lined with a high end hot pink lining I found thrifting. I wish I had done this before I began the attempt at my own trench coat- you can learn a lot sewing a garment in miniature! I had the realization today that I can sew for Baby A using near scraps of fabric that I would certainly not be able to use for full sized garments. Also, I can try out techniques. For instance this coat is being made from a modified (shortened) onesie/bunting pattern. There was therefore not a lining pattern, so I drafted my own using Sewaholic's instructions on the blog Tilly and the Buttons. It worked out beautifully, as you can see. I ended up with a bit if excess lining at the neckline, but too much is not a problem. I will hide it under the neck facing. To finish up, I just need to attach a coat zipper and stitch the lining in. I am excited to finish, and it has been getting chilly around here. Oh yeah- and this all came about as part of Papa's hang up with items made in China. Try finding a baby's coat that isn't! I will have the snug pose for us when her new little dreamcoat is complete!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Snow! 11/6/10

I went out on the back porch just to snap a few shots and then hopped
back in bed with my two snugs!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recycling the Christmas Spirit

Yesterday I found a beautiful Pendelton Wool plaid skirt suit at the
thrift store. Unfortunately, this beautiful skirt and blazer had seen
much better days- moths had found the suit out in a forgotten closet
somewhere, and the holes they had eaten in it ensured that it would
never be worn again. Sad. I'll admit, for 3 dollars, I didn't look too
closely. It was only upon returning home that I realized I had
purchased an unwearable suit. I was bummed, but again, I was only out
three dollars. Then, I decided to challenge myself with that suit.
What could I make with what was left of that gorgeous wool fabric?
Stockings. I made three Christmas stockings. One for me, one for Papa
Bear, and one for Baby Bear. They came out very nicely- I utilized
features that were part of the skirt: the hem became the stocking
tops; the lining hem became the loops from which to hang the
stockings, and the lining also became the patches to cover the few
remaining moth holes. I considered embroidering our names on them, but
in the end I used fabric paint and stencils cut from card stock with
an exacto. The font is "Diner." I am quite happy with the stockings,
and I can't wait to fill them with special little gifts for the loves
of my life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Tupperware Treasure Chest, Pre-Holiday Visits, An Irish Cape, The New Etsy Shop (a.k.a If You Were Here, I'd Chat off Your Ear!)

A few weeks ago I was browsing (as usual) in the local Goodwill with my bunny and Mother-in-law when I spotted something that made my little heart skip a beat. Ba bump. Goodwill never has any good sewing stuff, but there, among the old wobbly chairs was a plastic bin overflowing with patterns. I approached hesitantly. I knew that I had better not get my hopes up lest they be circa 1990 patchwork vest patterns. When I saw what were clearly sixties and seventies patterns layering the top, I drew in a deep breath. This could turn ugly. What if I fell in love with the whole lot? How much would it cost me? I began to pore over them, separating the ones I liked from the bin. Unfortunately, my keep stack grew rapidly and threatened to fall. It was then that my MIL said the magic words: "Why don't you see if you can buy the whole bin?" I froze. This had not occurred to me. Could I do such a thing? What would B think? What would it cost? I approached a friendly sales clerk that I see there often with the question. "Um, do you think I could just take the whole bin off of your hands?" She went into the back room briefly and returned with the answer. "Yes." Yes, I could buy them ALL. And, I could buy them all at a very, very reasonable price. My hands shook with excitement as I carried the bin up to the register. "Do you need help out with that?" asked the friendly sales clerk. Heck no. I was running on the pure adrenaline of a heavy vintage sewing fix. I could have carried the car to the bin if I had needed to. Anyway:


The former owner noted on the envelope that she wore this to homecoming and with whom she went!
I love this! The vintage "hoodie."

I have a thing for coat dresses

I also have a thing for western wear. Check out the yokes and cuffs! 

These are a few of my favorites. There were some hits, and there were some misses. Overall, it was a pretty awesome score, and it was made even more awesome by the fact that at least 1/4 are in factory folds, and the majority of them were in MY SIZE! No kidding! I will begin listing some of them on my new Etsy store soon. 

Oh yeah- I started an Etsy shop. It is under the Farmhouse Garden name, and I have only put up a couple of items so far, but there is plenty more to come. I see it as a way to indulge my hobby while contributing to the grocery budget. Check back often to see what's new- I put a button on the right side of this page. 

On to the visits- We had Grandma and Grandpa R. visiting these past couple of weeks, and we all had a really great time together. Grandma had fun playing with her grandbunny, who is now pushing up on all fours to crawl, but only rocking back and forth as of yet. I'd better get my running shoes on! We also had a friend come up for a short visit during which we went up to check out the leaf-looking from the new tower at Wayah Bald.   

The refurbished tower is nice, and the view was spectacular. We have had beautiful weather too! Maybe it'll get cold soon though, and I might have to bust out my new Irish cape that I picked up thrifting the other day! 

From what I gathered in a quick online search it is a vintage 70s Jimmy Hourihan Irish Tweed cape. I saw a very drab one that just sold for farty (that's how the Irish say it) smackaroos on eBay, and mine is anything but drab. Plus, I paid nowhere near farty dollars. Try eight. I don't know why the thrifting gods smile down on me so freely, but they do. 

Anyway, I guess that's enough for one night. I am tired and going to catch some sleep- In closing, I wanted to share an image with you that I caught last night on my iPhone. On a couple of the vintage lifestyle blogs I read there has lately been some discussion of modern times vs. old times, practicality, frugality, etc. On that note, here is your "moment of zen:"

Yes, that is a Hummer. Yes, that is a wind turbine sticker on the rear window. Ha ha! Only in the good old U.S. of A.! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Mixer Cover was not Made in China

I sewed a new mixer cover for my trusty Kitchenaid this evening using
reclaimed vintage bed cover fabric with adorable hand stitched
appliqué birds and flowers on it. I used Simplicity (?) 9532 because I
have it, but the cover came out a bit too baggy, so I am going to
draft a basic pattern of my own. I will have these and toaster covers
in my new Etsy shop, which will be up and running soon under the
Farmhouse Garden name.

This year for Christmas and from now on in general B and I plan to
avoid buying cheap wares that were made in China and instead buy local
and handmade goods. I also plan to make gifts as much as possible from
now on, but as I am only one woman with two arms, I am sure I will be
buying some things. Luckily, in our town we have an amazing shop
filled with goodies made by local artists and crafters. And of course
there is, which you must check out if you are not already
familiar with the site. I am always in awe of the creative genius of
others when I browse
Anyway, B makes a good point. To some extent, the current recession
was made in China- as long as we refuse to pay fair prices for the
goods we buy, we will continue to fill our houses with disposable, low
quality crap that was made by underpaid workers on the other side of
the world. And we will continue to send our nation's wealth in
exchange for it.

I will post some more photos and stories soon! We have had fun company
for the last couple weeks, and I have had some awesome thrifting luck-
I mean, really, stars aligned, green clovers, rabbit feet, amazing
thrifting luck. More about that to come, as well as A's first
Halloween photos...