Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freedom is a Back Carry! Insane Corn! Other Unrelated Bits!

How do you get anything done with a 5 month old?

  Hells yeah! I finally got it! I got Arabel safely on my back, and, as you can see, I am doing something with corn! It is amazing! I don't quite know how to handle this new freedom. Arabel loves to be up high looking over my shoulders while I fudge around the house. I could carry her in the sling before, but she was always in front of or beside me, so that made cooking, cleaning, and other tasks virtually impossible. Now I have no more excuses for not getting crap done! Well, I still have a few saved up. I mean, I can't just leave her up there all of the time. 
  By the way, that corn...that corn was...that corn was I have never felt this way about corn before. I mean, I have always loved corn. I have just never had any that was this good. This is the BEST CORN IN THE WORLD! Yes, I said it. And I have eaten a lot of corn as a New England lobster baker, steamer type person. I have also eaten a  lot of potato salad, but that is another subject entirely. The Silver Queen corn at Osage Farms is ecstasy on the cob. You may think that I am being dramatic, or that I have just run out of things to take interest in because we live in a podunk town. That's fine. More corn for me. We scalded 8 ears and set them aside in the freezer using our handy dandy vacuum sealer. We also froze a couple of jars of pasta sauce yesterday from the 25 lbs. of tomatoes we bought. We got a bag of the first fall apples that is almost gone (delicious!). I bought another bag of peaches to do round two on the peach jam. Oh, and B got some okra for pickling, cause it is the shizzle.
  All of this fall eating and fooding around is really one of the best things about where we live. You come eat here, and you are spoiled for life! You would never again buy those big, shiny- red, grainy apples from the grocery store. I like mine ugly and misshapen; hold the wax please... and a little flavor if you don't mind. And it is the same way with all of the other goodies you buy. I am most excited for the pumpkins, which I was told at the farm stand would be along in a couple of weeks. They get an amazing selection of sizes, shapes, and colors. I will take pictures when we get over to buy some.
  In the wonderful world of chickens, B had to corral the birds and lock them up, as they were taking the liberty of laying eggs all over creation. It's a little weird to open your back door and find your chicken nested up on your porch furniture. Your first thought is, "Oh! Excuse me! Am I interrupting something?" And then you remember it's a chicken, and it's laying an egg in your chair, and you have to scare it away with a squirt bottle. That's what I do anyway. They were also laying on the workbench in the shed, and we have a feeling that there is a large nest hidden somewhere in the yard. We don't pay them to lay eggs for possums. So, it's jail time for the chips.  
   So, that's about it. We are busy, busy, busy with a whole lot of nothing. That's how we like it. As it gets cooler, like it was yesterday, it gets so much easier to get work done around here. We are looking for some visitors in the near future, and then we are on the countdown to Thanksgiving. Well, now that I have written all about the trivial little nothings going on around here, I'd better get going. I'll post again when I actually have something to write about. Until then....  

Monday, August 30, 2010

East Meets West for Her- Another Vintage Sewing Project

I wanted to drop a quick post with some photos of a vintage wrap shirt I just finished up. I sewed Butterick 2853 from the early sixties in a soft black knit jersey. Due to the finished length (short, short, short!) this would either be more of a shrug, or would need to be worn with a tank. That is, unless you wear extremely high waisted pants or a skirt to meet the hem on it's own territory! I think the tucks are beautiful, and I intend to alter the pattern some for a second go. It will need about four inches added to the length to meet the lower waisted jeans we wear in 2010, and I did remove about an inch of fabric on the top seam of each sleeve; they were far too baggy. Overall though, this was a pretty easy sew, and the knit fabric, though kind of a pain as knits always are, hid all of my little mistakes quite nicely! Here are some shots:

I think this is a beautiful pattern, and will make some cozy fall blouses in a slightly heavier knit. I found one for 50 cents at the thrift store the other day that I intend to use for the next sew up of this shirt. Now, it's time for bed!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

B's Birthday Shirt is Finished!

When I met B, he had what I called the Asian Fixation. As I mentioned in my last post, all over his house hung Asian inspired art, he had beautiful kimonos on display, his dishes and silverware had an Asian flair, and he often ate with chopsticks. I think he likes the clean simplicity of Asian style. For his birthday, I have been working on a shirt that uses an Asian print fabric I found thrifting for $1.50. I finally completed it today- just in time! It is hard to get anything done with a 5 month old, so I am especially pleased that I managed to pace myself and have this shirt done for his gift. He knew I was making it (I wanted to fit it to him) and likes it very much. Being the wonderful husband that he is, he agreed to pose for some photos so I could upload my work to the blog and the various sewing sites I obsess over. Oh, and the pattern was Simplicity 7917 from 1977. Without further ado:

I did not tell him to roll up his pants like that...he felt inspired!

I tried to get the man and woman each on a yoke not thinking about the fact that the collar would cover them.
Oh well. You sew and you learn. 

I pushed the collar over so you could see this rad Asian dude
The cuffs are nice and fitted, the pleats came out well, and I love pearl snaps.
What do I hate? Continuous sleeve plackets. So. Much.
What else do I love? My husband. He is the best husband a girl like me could ever have. Ever. Really. 
Isn't this fabric great? If I had more of it I could have fit it up against the yoke better.
 I like that the peeps are featured on the back so prominently though. That was my goal. 
B said he just wanted the bottom serged like another similar shirt he has.
 I can hem it for him later if he changes his mind. 

So there is my first shot at Simplicity 7917. I think it came out really well! It is unique and interesting, and also sharp, if I do say so myself. Now I have to make a Little Dress mad scramble to the finish, and then after that, I am going to sew a bunch of stuff for yours truly. I bought an adjustable dress form (not to mention a gorgeous vintage wrap blouse pattern), and I am expecting it in the mail any day. I am revved up! Also, I will be participating in Gertie's Coat Sew Along, although I will be sewing a different coat. I know as a novice I should just follow along, but I am not crazy about the Lady Grey Coat. Don't get me wrong: it's very cute. It's just not me, and if I'm going to invest time and money in a sewing project, I'm going to make something I love. This is more my style:

It is for sale on eBay, but it is a $20 pattern, and I already have plenty to sew without buying new patterns, fabric, or notions. In fact, I picked up a gorgeous coat dress pattern the other day:

 I'm wondering if I can modify it to serve as a coat pattern instead. We'll see (I just followed a link from the Vintage Pattern Wiki, and it appears someone else has already had this idea!). For fabric, I'm thinking I would love to have a kelly green wool coat. I need to start shopping. 

This is the kind of stuff I am turning over in my head when I am not sleeping at night! With the western birthday gift done, I am hoping for a good night's rest tonight. I'll get back to sewing in a day or two. Until then, sayonara!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Careful Execution of B's Birthday Shirt

I am presently working on a shirt for B for his 34th birthday. I found some awesome vintage Asian print fabric at the local Habitat for Humanity (where I find tons of good vintage patterns, notions, fabric, and even my $10 machine!), and I knew it was destined to be fashioned into a gift for my husband. When I met him, he had kimonos and Asian art adorning the walls of his home, and he ate often with chopsticks, which he deemed "more efficient" than other utensils. The fabric, which was probably less than a yard and not so very wide, presented a problem as to what I could reasonably expect to make with it. At first I thought I would make some boxers, but I didn't even know if I would have enough fabric to sew skivvies, and it seemed a waste of a fabric that should be seen by others. I decided to try and make a shirt, and I figured that I would have enough fabric for at least the front panels. I ordered a vintage pattern online, and in the meantime on one of my frequent thrifting trips I found a vintage western style pattern for a men's shirt, and a new idea was born. Here is what it looks like so far:

The shirt as modeled by my fly duct tape dress form
Here is the back view:

I know the back looks funny at the yoke border on the top, but I made it my priority to get these attractive Asian folks on the back panel, so I didn't worry about that. I'm sure it'll be fine. One exciting thing about making this shirt is that the pattern calls for moderately nice finishing on the inside, so I will be learning how to do flat felled seams, and I have already slip stitched the panel that holds the buttons along the back edge. I am going slowly and working carefully to make this a quality garment. I will be posting more photos as I make progress and upon completion.
    On a side note, I started thinking about garment construction, sewing, and quality, and how they apply to and effect the importance of one's wardrobe in the modern era. To translate my spaced out thoughts, what I mean is that I think clothing is made (in general) so crappily now, and it is so generic, that many of us have little care for our clothing- we buy it, we use it as it suits, and we donate it without a second thought. In days past, people used to maintain a wardrobe, care for items and clean, mend and store them properly. Then when they were finished with these things, they were often passed down the line to a waiting family member who was perhaps even thrilled to receive them. I have at least one special article of clothing that belonged to my mother when she was young, and I have gloves that belonged to my grandmother-in-law as well as many of her linens. I value them as they were valued by their former owners, and though I try to actually use these items, I try to keep them in good shape as well. End of tangent!
   In other farm news, our peppers seem to be the thing this year as they were last year. In a totally untended garden, the peppers are beautiful, crisp and colorful. Everything around them has died or gone to seed.
   Well, I need to get going- there is always so much to do! I wish I had back all that time that I wasted as a teenager (not to be a teenager again though, UGH!). Oh, and I have 15 of 24 dresses completed (4 more are in progress), with about 10 days left to work. Wish me the stamina to finish them! So long!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sassy Lassie's Sew Retro Givewaway- I wanna win!

Okay, I have clearly been bitten by not only the sewing bug, but also the sewing blog bug. And today it just so happens that one of the talented Sew Retro members is hosting an awesome giveaway. I would love to win this; the fabric is beautiful, the pattern is darling and just my size, and I don't even wear glasses, but if I did....Check out Sassy Lassie's post about her giveaway in honor of having (over) 100 subscribers to her blog. I hope to have so many readers myself one day! Also, go to Sassy Lassie's Blog and check out the awesome goodies she has been sewing up! I am a big fan of "The Betty Draper Dress," myself. Congratulations to her, and wish me luck on the giveaway!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jam On It!

The canning began at our house yesterday with a large batch of peach jam and several jars of beet relish. It's amazing how easy canning is once you get the hang of it- all you need is a Ball Blue Book, a pack of jars with the lids and bands, and a big pot and you are in business. It is handy to have the jar lifter, lid wand, and canning funnel, but it is totally possible to do without. I love "putting food by" for later- it really makes one feel as though they are in greater control of what they consume, and your own preserved food also serves as a friendly reminder of the summer past. All that being said, these were two new recipes for me, and I am satisfied with how they turned out. The peach jam is a little on the sweet side, but it is tasty and beautiful:

The peaches came from Osage Farm in Dillard, GA. They were beautiful and perfectly ripe. I really enjoyed watching it all come together in the pot. First, I scored the peaches and scalded them to remove the skins more easily. Then, I mashed them with my potato masher and the proper amount of sugar and water. For any food purists out there (I am one), you can't beat peaches, sugar, and water as a list of ingredients for jam. 
The peaches began to stew up, and all of the juice ran out; it began to look like peach soup:

And finally, after several minutes of stirring and boiling, the mix began to foam and thicken up:

Poured into the jars, the jam had a beautiful honey gold hue:

My stepmother, who taught me how to can, said the sound of lids popping as your jars seal is one of the most satisfying sounds there is. After a couple years of canning, I tend to agree with her. It is the sound of independence from the grocery store, preservatives and additives, and it gives a self sufficient feeling. We had pulled the rest of the beets from the garden, so we also made a delicious beet relish. 

This came together so easily... 

and the canner was already hot and ready to go. I really enjoyed the canning, but it is exhausting too, so after we finished, I rolled right into bed for a good night's sleep. I feel like doing that now too, but I think I am going to go outside and check out the meteor shower first! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fall Shorts that don't Fall Short

Today I finished the second personal sewing project I have completed from scratch since I got more serious about sewing. I made a pair of shorts using McCall's 3132. They came out pretty well, but I had some difficulty with the ridiculous, fray crazy fabric I chose to work with, and I had to bring the hips in a lot to make them fit. Interestingly, this pattern is supposed to be for "low-rise" shorts. I wouldn't quite call these shorts low rise....maybe I just made them too small. But still, if the crotch hung any lower...
Anyway, here they are:

I'm pretty pleased with these, and I think that if I tried the pattern again with a less annoying fabric and knowing that the hips are too wide, I could make some very well fitted shorts. Here is a back view:

Note the Tina Turner stance. Whatever. I am not a pattern model. But, if I were a pattern model....

That's how all the chicks on Burda Style stand...all pigeon toed. I guess it makes your thighs look thinner. Anyway, I have a nice plaid I am thinking I will make some golfy looking shorts with. That's a technical sewing term. Golfy. I need to get back to the little dresses for a little while...we have 11 or so, and plan to send two dozen to Africa with our neighbor in September. In order to speed assembly, I purchased a roll of bias strip at the thrift store yesterday. Damned if that $10 Kenmore machine didn't come with a foot that folds tape and stitches it to your project in one step. I will be practicing with that, and then I will really be able to crank out some cute little dresses. I'm not even going to get started talking about the ruffler and pleater. 

    In other news here on the farm, I have some sad news...we lost our neighbor and friend this morning to cancer. He fought long and hard, and was a great Western Cackalacky character, who had all sorts of charming stories and farm advice to share with us during our first two years here. He will be missed. 

    Summer is winding down here for us- technically speaking, anyway. My husband returns to work in a week, and then I will be on my own by day with a giggle monster. I know we will have a lot of fun, and that it will be supremely exhausting. I am looking forward to fall, the cooler weather, the farm stand pumpkins and squash, and the fall holidays. I know, I know. It's not even the middle of August. Okay, so the fall crap is just wishful thinking. It'll be here soon enough, and I know better than to wish any time away. That's it for now. Tomorrow I will be making peach jam and some baby food to set by for the coming months. The baby is five months old already! I will post pics of the canning and food goodies as we process them. 'Til then....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Visits, and Hiking, and Food, oh my!

  We have been busy as little bees around here lately- we have had several wonderful visits with friends and family, and we have just been enjoying summer around the farm. When we are awake, that is. Having a four month old still means a significant amount of sleep deprivation, so I have not yet gotten out to pick berries or do several countless other projects that I had planned for this summer.
  I have gotten a few more little dresses sewed with my MIL's help, and I am working toward a goal of 24 to send to an orphanage in Africa this September. MIL brought bags of material for repurposing and beautiful notions from our late Grandma's house. Grandma would smile to know that her lace trimmings and well kept curtains will find new lives as beautiful dresses for little African girls.
  Last week, we had a wonderful hike up Whiteside Mountain with our little bunny tied to me in our wrap. It was her second hike, and she did wonderfully until she fell asleep. It was strenuous for me, but I am hoping carrying her will help me get back into my former shape. Here is a photo of the family:

  In other news, I will be the big THREE-OH in just a few short days. I asked my poppa for some lobsters, and he sent a ton as usual. I'm not complaining. We ate lobster for lunch and dinner for two days, then had lobster alfredo for dinner the next day, froze a bunch, and now my exclusively breastfed baby has hives. I hope it was not the lobster; it is going to be so hard to be present for the lobster feasts in her future if she is allergic.


  I guess I will lay off shellfish for the time being, and I had so many good meals planned! I even froze some shells for bisque. As the MIL says, "oh well." I just want bunny to be happy and healthy. That's the news for now! I have plenty more to write- but I'm going to bed and will catch up later. Did I mention I am tired?