Monday, March 26, 2007

Fitted Bodice Class

I took a class this weekend at the Genteel Arts Academy in Gettysburg to make a fitted bodice. This is the resulting bodice from the class. The first step was to make a fitting shell for each individual and mine was probably the most complex because my body is not the same side to side (I have scoliosis) nor front to back (I'm shortwaisted in the front and not in the back! I never realized how much better my period clothing could fit until I took this class. I also learned a bunch of period construction techniques that made making this bodice with the hidden hooks and eyes a much different experience than I'd had while muddling along on my own for the last year or so. The bodice I made is a pleated front so there's extra fabric within the front but the lining fits very snug inside as well. I'll be taking the corset class in June so I'll have a fitted corset to my own dimensions, that will help with the fitting challenges too.
This is a close up of the fabric that I bought for this class, it's Wyndam quilting fabric that is a reproduction of an 1830/1840 fabric. I thought it was beautiful. I put the piping on this morning and have begun to work on the skirt. I'll see how much fabric I have left before I decide what I'm going to do for the sleeves.

This week's Jon update

OK, nobody tell Jon I used this picture of him at around 3 years old...*giggles*. Anyway, Jon called me yesterday and here's the update for the friends and family that check here. He had his gall bladder function test on Tuesday at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, and though he has not talked to his doctor yet (he has an appointment at Walter Reed this coming Friday), he does not think there were any issues with the Gall Bladder nor it's function. The pancreatase which is the pancreatic enzymes that he has been on for the last week or so are helping him a lot. He is in a much improved mood when he is on these medications before meals, and the pain is diminished to the point where he has been able to reduce his pain medicine. He still has a really hard time when he comes down off the pancreatic enzymes and not only does the pain return, but his mood plummets and he becomes exceedingly tired as well. The good news is that he received special permission to attend class as there was an opening in the school cycle starting last week. He apparently is blowing the class away, even helping a student that isn't catching on as easily as he. He has been told that he cannot graduate because he is unable to pass his PT tests because of being sick so he's really upset about that. I told him that I thought he should just take it a day at a time, learn what he can, and perhaps if he does really well, they'll make an exception on the PT testing and allow him to graduate. After all, the Army is scrambling for personnel, they're offering huge bonuses to soldiers to reenlist, especially in this area (helicopter electrical and electronics), so maybe we can all, with our thoughts and prayers, prevail upon the universe to allow Jon to finish his classes and actually graduate from AIT. Right now he's kind of like Tom Hanks in "Terminal" without being able to do much of anything, being put in school is a huge good thing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Work output this past week

Ive been working this past week or so on finishing up some dresses I'd cut out a month ago. This light colored one is a camp dress for hot summer events because the fabric is light in weight and color and the sleeves are not lined so will be cooler. I decided to attach the collar and do white cuffs as there is no other trim on the dress. I like the way this one drapes and I knife pleated the skirt directionally.
Then I got started working on the other one I'd cut out at the same time...this one is a heavier fabric, this one was the fabric that I didn't have enough of and scoured all the walmarts in 3 counties to find more which I did. I made it using the same pattern but I did put some fabric ruching with a line of grosgrain ribbon on the sleeves. I am going to make a white collar for this one that will be detachable, I need to get heavier fabric for the collar as I don't like the weight of the bleached muslin I already have. This one was double and triple box pleated and I used grey-black rubber look buttons for the front. This ended up as more of a dressy dress than a camp dress due to the pattern on the fabric, so I'll probably use a black ribbon belt to dress it up as well as the collar.
This is come fabric that I had in my stash. I suspect that it's from Wal-Mart too as I don't want to use any of my "good stuff" until I take my fitted bodice class this weekend at Genteel Academy. Then I'll use my quilting fabric to make some dressy day dresses. I actually managed to get rid of almost all the dresses I wore last season and I'm trying to be more accurate with this season's creations both in period-correctness of the fabric and the construction techniques. This fabric will be a camp dress, though I did cut out some bias strips to use for flat trim on the skirt and I drafted a pattern for a jockey on the sleeves. I don't think I'm going to trim the bodice, but we'll see how much fabric I have left after making the piping for the jockeys, I've already cut the strips for the rest of the piping. It's all an adventure and my sewing room is my laboratory!

See where the Aviation interest comes from?

Garland B. Lloyd Crew - 334th Sqn

Garland B. Lloyd (pilot) , Willys P. Jones (co-pilot)
Elton Skinner (navigator) , Russell P. Allman (bombadier)

Marion Gillmor (top turret gunner) , George Robinson (waist gunner)
John Janssen (radio operator) , Porter Hyght (waist gunner)
Victor Valek (tail gunner) , Ralph Rice (ball turret gunner)

The 2nd from the right on the front row is my father. My husband found this picture online while doing some research about him. We'd been to an antique weapons show and they had some uniforms from WWII from the Army Air Corps and we decided that we really should try to get some further information on where Dad served and more about him. I was born 14 years after the war ended and he really didn't like to talk about it. He was shot down over Germany and spent some very horrible time in a German Prisioner of War Camp where part of his stomach was removed. Mark is looking for more information on him for me.

They're doing WWII reenactments at the Eisenhower farm right outside of Gettysburg now. We were in Gettysburg for the Rembrance Day Parade and Ball last November and we saw two men dressed like WWII and one looked so much like pictures I'd seen of my dad that it was like seeing a ghost. It's good to keep the memory alive, as there are still veterans able to tell stories and give information to those that are interested.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Introducing the newest Grandbaby!

Jennifer and Michael sent me pictures of the newest granddog...her name is "Cinnamon" and she is a Tea Cup Chihuahua. Nutmeg, on your left (she's a 3 year old Tea Cup Yorkie), isn't quite sure what to make of her...the new baby is about 2 months old. Milo, their Cocker Spaniel, is still a puppy himself, so just wants to play, but he has to be careful not to run over any of his miniature sisters!

I can't promise I'll be human yet

...but I'll try. I just spent all day doing the taxes and the event always makes me feel like my skin is on too tight. I always get a overload headache, and I hermit at the computer and barely speak to anyone until they're done. But now that the envelopes are sealed and taken to the post office, I feel somewhere between wanting to crawl into bed and take a nap to try to recharge my number addled brain, and wanting to scream because I so hate doing them that I've put it off until now and the net result wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be while I was procrastinating. This is the latest I've ever done my taxes as every year the return gets more complicated and thus more dreaded. Now I can get back to doing things that I don't hate as, sewing, being sociable, spending time speaking intelligble sentences rather than just grunts as I look through the mountain of paperwork that I have to have to take on this yearly challenge. I think I'll take a nap, then have maybe a glass of wine, and do nothing the rest of the day!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The random nature of the universe

Thank you to Jon's fiance, Laura, for passing this one along to me. I thought you'd all enjoy this piece of random knitting. Of course, as a knitter myself, after I stopped laughing, I tried to see if it was knit in the round on double points or knit flat and then seamed. lol

Friday, March 16, 2007

Jonathan update-Walter Reed Hospital Appointment

Jon's appointment at Walter Reed went well, he says. His doctor said he had a very complicated case and called in another specialist to consult. The doc told Jon that the records he brought with him were very well organized and helpful, and they all discussed diagnosis probability and treatment options. The doc suspects either gall bladder malfunction, probably chronic pancreatitis with some calcification already occurring (bad news) possibly brought on by a genetic anomoly. Blood was drawn for both genetic testing as well as regular blood work ups. Jon has a gall bladder function test scheduled at Portsmouth Naval on Tuesday, then he will have to do the Capsule Biopsy (really cool, you swallow a capsule that contains a camera that transmits to a data recorder you wear around your waist while the test is being run), and then they're going to want to do an upper GI scope which is complicated and not at all fun for the patient. Jon will be going back to this doctor on March 30th to review the tests run today as well as the study to be done next week, and to decide which way to proceed. He was given pancreatic enzymes to help the pancreas assymilate the food he's eating, and also was told to go to the pain management clinic at Portsmouth to help him manage his pain medications. All in all, he's pretty much resigned himself to having an incurable disease, but the big thing right now is to get a difinitive diagnosis, to find out if there are any other things going on in the GI that are hurting the situation, and figuring out the best management plan to prolong his life and help manage the chronic pain. Jon was planning on going to the reenactment of the Battle of Williamsburg this weekend but he had such a hard time with the Endoscopy on Monday and visit to the ER because he was so sick on Tuesday that he probably won't go to the reenactment. You know the kid isn't feeling well when he gives up a chance to play Civil War. lol. It's raining right now anyhow and it's gotten cold so it's probably a good decision.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"All my Babies are Gone Now"

My dear cousin, Marcia, sent this to me and it so touched me that I wanted to share it with everyone. You'll especially be touched if your children are grown.

All My Babies Are Gone Now
By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow, but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber
ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education -- all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations -- what they taught me, was that they couldn't really
teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test,then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in
which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the "Remember-When-Mom-Did" Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language -- mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover.
The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out ofthe classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?" (She insisted I include that here.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
(She was thinking the same thing I was, Simpsons here either!)
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Road trip on a beautiful day!

It was a beautiful early spring day here in Baltimore, our temperature was supposed to get up to nearly 80 degrees and I needed to go do some errands and get a few things for my class next weekend. I worked hard all morning to finish my business work and then was out the door to one of my favorite places.

Less than an hour's drive found me in Gettysburg, PA, en route to my favorite Civil War fabric shop. I spent about 2 hours there getting everything on my list for my class (and some beautiful dress fabric as well) and then went down the road to the Egg farm to get a couple of dozen fresh brown eggs. I stopped at the Battlefield to enjoy the day, got to hear some of a ranger talk, and generally enjoyed the peace and serenity of this beatiful place, preserved only due to the battle there in 1863.
As you can see, I favor the jewel tones in my fabrics, though I've been trying very hard to incorporate more lighter colors for the summer camping season. I am going to use the cream background floral print for the upcoming bodice class, and then decide once the bodice is done what I'll do with the sleeves. I have nearly a class per month from now until the end of the year so I'll be busy learning new things and sewing in my spare time!
This is the latest project that I've been working on, it's just a simple camp dress for the hot summer months when it's too hot to have darker colors on. We did a Reenactment last August (The Battle of Hanover) when it was over 100 degrees with the humidity so I wanted a dress with unlined sleeves. I have a long way to go to finish this one, the bodice is just pinned to the skirt! This dress looks way too blah for my usual love of color and pattern, but it'll be just right for a camp dress so I'm making myself like it! lol

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bawlmer trip

We spent the day doing things that Jen wanted to do since she's going home to Texas tomorrow. We went down to the City the long way so she could see the water and the Baltimore skyline as we drove in and we took some pictures of the water later on during the day from the seawall of Ft. McHenry.

We spent time in Fells Point walking around and enjoying the beautiful day. We had breakfast/lunch at a favorite spot of Jen's, the "Full Moon Cafe" and the food was great! Then we drove through town (they were getting ready for the St. Patrick's Run and parade today) to Ft. McHenry National Park which has always been one of our favorite spots. This was a surprise picture that Jen took of us waiting to leave the cafe. It's on Aliceanna street a block or so off Broadway which is one of the main streets in the Original Baltimore Harbor area. Jenn was also able to get a copy of "Harold and Maude" from the really cool cd/dvd store that is right along the waterfront. It's a family favorite and tradition too.
This is Jenn standing in front of the doors that they used for the Television Show "Homicide, Life on the Streets" I took several pictures of the plaques on the wall dedicated to the folks that made the show as well as of the facade that they used to represent the City of Baltimore police department (no, the building isn't really the Police HQ). It is always lots of fun to go down to Fells point...we have lots of pictures to show for our day, too many to post!

Museum Visit

We met our Reenactment unit yesterday at the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for a morning (and part of the afternoon) spent touring the museum. The museum is self-guided with a series of videos to direct you. It was nicely done though you could sure tell you were North of the Mason-Dixon line by the slant of the museum.
I especially enjoyed seeing actual artifacts such as hair from the tail of Little Sorrell, General Lee's riding gloves, Thomas J. Jackson's gauntlet, some of Pickett's hair, and an excellent Medical Display. There were also artifacts belonging to Grant and a good display of firearms, swords, and uniforms.
On the way home we were able to stop at my favorite outlet for lace and trim to get some lace for my Civil War collars and cuffs...woohoo...a fun museum visit AND retail therapy.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I just found 2 yards of the fabric at the 6th WalMart we looked at. So now I can finish the dress! lol

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Have you seen this fabric?

The Fabric that I've pictured here was some that I bought the other day at the Owings Mills, Maryland Wal-Mart. I just love it and I thought it would make a fantastic Civil War era dress. Well, there wasn't enough of it to make piping, cuffs, nor a 4th skirt panel so I am just heartbroken. I didn't think much of it when I was cutting the bodice out, I just thought I'd go to the next town and grab another piece of it, no big deal. Well, I didn't know at the time that Wal-Mart is discontinuing the fabric in some of it's stores so they haven't been ordering restocks on lots of their fabrics. We checked several stores today (in two states!)and couldn't find any anywhere. Usually you can find the same fabric at stores nationwide, and I am now looking for about 2 yards or more or it. If you have any of this in your stash, or happen to see it in a Wal Mart near you (it was on the $2 a yard pile) please let me know, email me at and we'll work out details. I'm willing to pay you for your trouble and for shipping. Thanks for looking!

I had a fantastic day of "SEX" today!

Now before those of you that found this blog entry through searching for the word "sex" get excited, to those of us aquainted with the fibery addictions such as sewing, spinning, knitting and the like, sex stands for a "Stash Enhancement eXcusrion", and that was exactly what today was all about. It was reenactor appreciation day in Gettysburg so we decided to cross the Mason-Dixon line and go up there. One of my favorite fabric shops, "Needles and Thread" is between Fairfield and Gettysburg, and we stopped there to buy a couple of patterns that I was looking for. Darlene, the owner, carries patterns from many reenactment periods as well as hard to find items such as wool grosgrain ribbon for trims. She also always has a huge selection of period-correct reproduction cotton fabrics for quilting and dressmaking. I fell in love with these, though there are many more waiting for me the next time I come back after I've saved some more hobby money. The one in the foreground will be an evening dress for camp balls/dances, and the other 3 were such beautiful colors and fabrics that they will be day dresses, probably on the fancier side. I do most of my camp dresses from less expensive fabrics that are probably a bit "less" period-correct but they work for getting muddy and dirty out camping with the unit. I got a few bodice patterns I'd wanted for my upcoming fitted bodice class, as well as a beautiful coat pattern that I hadn't seen before. I also got a beautiful ball headpiece made of ribbon and flowers that will go with my existing gowns as well as will go with the fabric I bought today for an evening gown.
We also had the privledge of running into two dear friends, one of which is the commander of artillery for our unit while in the shops of Gettysburg. It was a busy day but a nice one. :)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The "Parkie" Gene is heriditary!

I got home from my trip last night to greet DD (dear daughter) Meg who just flew back from spending time with DD and DSIL Michael in El Paso. And you know what? She was excited to tell me that she and Jenn searched out and found a new National Park to get a stamp in their passports for that I don't have! There are several lists that have information on the National Park Passport Stamps, if you're interested, you can click on the highlighted links. The Master list is at which has a huge list of every known park stamp. Yup, I'm working on it! Of course, I have a print out of the list in the pocket of my passport. There are even a couple of groups on msn about collecting the stamps that I found by googling. But, I digress. The park they went to is on the old Mexican/American border to celebrate the friendship of the countries. The border has changed due to the rerouting of the river that runs between the two countries. There are beautiful (I'm looking at the brochure Meg brought) areas to enjoy the park, hiking, picnicing, and trails. I'm not sure if they enjoyed visiting the park as much as they are going to enjoy flaunting the stamp that they have that we don't! It has become quite a fun competition! That's ok, though...I have one that none of the family has, and this place isn't even a National Park anymore, it has gone private...the Oklahoma City Federal Building memorial. It's a beautiful place that commemerates a horrible history, but I got it, and you know that the collector in me says: "HA!"
It's so much fun for me to realize that being a "parkie" and a passport stamp collector has taken off within the kids after all the vacations we did that were planned around visiting the National Parks. I highly recommend any family purchasing an annual Parks Pass for a little over $50. It gets you and your spouse, kids, and parent into any park in the nation for a full year. We've always gotten our money's worth from this.