Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Keeping Busy

Queen Belle Supervises while I work
Spring is upon us now and everything outside is in bloom.  I'm enjoying the extra hours of sunlight with Daylight Savings Time to get some projects finished that have been on the back burner for a long time.  I've been outside walking a bit, doing schoolwork (this quarter I have "Sociolinguistics"), sewing and working on some more knit hats.  As you can see, Belle spends a lot of time in the bed on my cutting table making sure that she's the first one to see any thread stealing opportunities.  I've already found my edging tape strung into the hallway, that's the beautiful thing about cats, you never know what they'll get into.  I like her being at my side when I'm sewing, that way I know what she's doing.  The others aren't quite so miscevious.
I finished my linen sun dress last week and found this great short sleeve lacy sweater to go with it.  The dress is perfect for the warmer weather and I'm planning to wear it when we're in Hawaii for the wedding.  It's a little bit sheer so I decided that I wanted to get a slip for it.  I checked all of the places that one would think you'd find a half slip and I found were polyester and very clingy and short.  They'd be perfect for a very form fitting dress in the winter, but that slimy fabric is so hot in the summer and I'm not going to need anything clingy.  So after not finding what I wanted, I decided to make a slip for the sundresses out of 100% breatheable cool cotton.  Slips are easy, I just made a smaller version of the simple Civil War over petticoat.  No pattern needed.

I've been trying to use fabric out of my stash only as of late so I don't have to purchase any more fabric.  I know that's not in keeping with stash building, but my fabric stash has truly gotten out of hand.  Tthis linen was left over from making my daughter some maternity clothes when she lived in Texas and needed cool clothing for the heat there.  The linen has a lot of body so it's not going to wrinkle too much which is nice.  I have a couple of other nice linen prints that I intend to sew up eventually, more fleece, some silk, wool, and tons of cottons. I don't think I'm going to run out of fabric any time soon, in fact, not at any time during my lifetime. 

This is the slip I made for the sundress.  Once I started working on this simple garment, I went all "Civil War" and added tucks for body and even some edging on the bottom with a little bit of lace.  There is embroidery above the tucks, though since it isn't for Civil War reenacting use, I went ahead and used my sewing machine to create it.  The fabric is just plain 'ole ecru or off-white muslin, the same stuff I use for so many of the linings in my Civil War dress bodices.  It's pretty thin (I bought it online and didn't realize it wasn't a tighter weave) so it'll be nice and cool for the summer.  I had to make myself get away from the sewing machine or I probably would have continued to add more embroidery and's just a slip, after all, and it needs to be finished and off the table. I'm not going to promise that I won't fiddle with it again at some point.  I see a lot of room for more embroidery and I
 have so many lovely floral patterns on my machine to choose from.
I also had in my mind that I wanted to make myself a new bathrobe.  The one that I had been using was falling apart and every time I washed it I think it got a little bit smaller. I've been needing a new robe for a long time. I have a lot of polarfleece in the stash (omg I just admitted that publicly!!!) that I bought to do throws and such so I figured I'd find a pattern and make a fleece robe.  This was a fairly easy pattern, but because it's so big and long and it's very thick fleece, it was a real pain to work with.  It took a lot of fabric, and it is a bit big but it's very nice and warm and cozy with a hood on top.  I plan on making at least one more and won't add the sleeve cuffs and will make it smaller.  I hate it when you follow the measurements on a pattern and make the size that is closest to your own measurements and the thing ends up way too big or small.  I try things on and adjust them as I'm sewing with things like dresses but a robe didn't seem to be an issue for fit.  That's ok, though, I'd rather it be too big rather than too small.  It'll no doubt shrink up a little bit as it's washed and dried more. 

Next up, I have a wrapper (Civil War) pattern cut out and want to get working on that, and I have a couple of possibilities for what to do with some more of my linen fabric.  Oh, and there is always schoolwork and flying.  Busy, Busy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Spring

I just love my weekends, hubby is home and there is a world of things out there to do, especially in the spring time when the weather gets warmer.  But sometimes the week in between the weekends is especially busy and fruitful, and this past week was one of those.  Monday morning was busy with getting laundry done and things put away from the Conference we'd attended over the weekend, but I took time from all that and went to meet some of the lovely ladies that I attended conference with (see my last blog post) at an exhibition of Titanic Era clothing put on in cooperation with the Shippensburg University Fashion Archives Museum, and the Hanover (PA) area Historic Society at the Warehime-Myers Mansion.  It was a private showing of the exhibition and showcased the fashions of the era (1912) as well as the wonderful home and some other colectible items pertaining to White Star Line and the Titanic that were on display. Please feel free to google either the SUFAM work or the Hanover Historical society for more information.  The exhibition is open through the end of April if you want to view it, check the Werehime-Myers website for hours that they're open.

After the exhibition, I left the Mansion and headed to one of my favorite antique malls in Hanover where I purchased a few small display cases to house my antique comb collection.  I also found a couple of broken combs for 99cents that went into the collection because they are examples of types that I didn't already have.  The one at the left is most likely tortoise, and I didn't have any metal combs in my collection, though I think this one is relatively recent. 

Since I hadn't really looked at my combs in a while and had bought the cases to house them, I took each one out, looked it over, catalogued each in a database that I built, and put them into a case.  Unfortunatly I found a couple that had the celluloid virus that will end up turning them to dust eventually.  I'm very sad about that as I very much like both of the combs that are infected, and the larger one is one of my favorites.

This one has the virus starting to eat away the comb on the left side (your right).  I'm really upset about this because when I put it away after purchasing it I didn't notice that it was having any problems at all.  I had to take the two infected combs out of my collection and make sure they are stored separately so their virus won't spread to the others.  I found this reference on a bulletin board about hair combs, written by "Heidi W" and though I don't know Heidi, I want to say thank you for the information on what the "virus" is: 

One thing to know about any celluloid combs:"they do have a tendency to get what is termed the "disease" sometimes referred to as the "virus." When purchasing a newly acquired celluloid comb, it's important to quarantine the comb for maybe as long as a month, I would suggest. This is for collectors in particular of celluloid combs: real celluloid was made with camphor which outgasses. The outgassing is how other celluloid combs can become infected. Today's plastics do not contain camphor and it's generally believed that these later plastics wouldn't be so infected. Same is true for real organic combs derived of horn, bone, shell, and so on (they can get other things sometimes).

What to look for - how to tell, you ask?

Typically a circular like area will be a high yellow color, in stark contrast to the rest of the color of celluloid (which is typically a brownish color although celluloids were dyed differing colors, and I have yet to see one with the "disease" that is a colored or dyed comb, such as red, for example. It may well exist: I just haven't seen it yet and can't be sure how that would appear.) The other accompanying detail to this high hue of yellow is that inside it appears as though there's a crackling effect, but isolated to that yellow zone. It appears splintery.
In time, some combs completely break down and even disintegrate in that spot; often, though, they just break. Combs that have this can be dipped to stall the progress. Sometimes it never progresses, but one never knows the future. Sometimes a comb with this is still worth keeping yet separated from a collection (unless it's all over your house as mine is becoming) because the design of the top piece can be unique. (Sometimes it can be worth it to buy 'damaged' goods.)
We have people who are watching their diseased combs to check on progress, just to see how it all works since little is understood and little is written on the subject.
But this disease can spread (the name disease or virus is derived from the concept that it can spread from celluloid to celluloid although not to humans or animals). This is important to know if you have two or more."

So, after putting all my combs away, I moved on to the next project, studying for my Physical Science final which was coming up on Saturday.  (It's now 2 days post took me about 7 hours to do the final exam, and I got an 88.6% on it...I needed only a low "C" to get an "A" In the class so I'm happy, but I digress.)  I also flew to Denver and back for work, and cut out and sew up a sun dress for myself this week.  Oh, and I also had to completely rearrange my office/sewing room to move my study table to the other side of the room and put up my cutting table so that I could actually cut out some patterns.  The cat children were particularly happy about that as they've missed having their cat bed on the cutting table in the sun streaming in from the window.  It was quite a week.

Belle and Rose enjoying the sun in their bed

We have a wedding, or more accurately, a renewal of vows of our son and daughter-in-law to go to in Hawaii in April so I thought it would be nice to have a sun dress for the occasion, especially since little that I own fits anymore.  The fabric is actually a civil war era reproduction but I didn't think it was light enough to be festive for a wedding so I decided to go stash-diving again.  I found some linen that I liked, so I cut out and started to sew another sun dress using the same pattern that will be lighter colored and hopefully more festive for the wedding.  Over the weekend I found a light lace short sleeve sweater to wear with both dresses if it's a little chilly in air conditioning so as soon as I get the other sun dress finished I'll post the picture of that as well.  Along with sewing and studying, I also finished another Noro hat for the pile to go to the kids and grandkids. I have just a few more to finish up and then I'll be able to get started on some other knitting projects that I've been wanting to work on.  These hats are so easy because I nearly don't even have to look at what I'm knitting, and I'm really proud of myself for getting them done without putting them aside and never getting back to them.  Being an ADHD knitter and sewer means that I have tons of unfinished projects everywhere all over the house.  I have another one on the needles that is just about ready to start the decreases at the top of the hat.  But of course, I do have to work this week.

So back to the final, since I got it finished on Saturday, we had Sunday to go and explore and enjoy the beautiful weather.  We went antiquing and went through three or four large antique mall type stores (various vendors have stalls inside).  We even found a couple of places in New Oxford, PA that we didn't know existed, because they were behind the main street through town.  We love looking at the old things even if we don't buy a thing, it's just one of the things that we love to share together.  Sure, there are a few things that we collect such as "Kitchen Cats" from the 1950's, hair combs as I mentioned above, a certain china pattern that is hard to find and is called "Hawaiian Flowers" which is self explanatory,

and I especially love looking at all of the period and vintage sewing accessories.  I didn't think we were going to find anything new when I happened to see this sitting in a very poorly lit and very full display case in one of the antique stores, this comb.  I have a similarly colored one that is more angularly shaped, but this one was really affordable (everything I collect tends to be really cheap!) so it got to come home with me.  Not bad for all the hours we spent looking around and enjoying each other's company.  I figure that the entertainment value was definitely worth the price of the comb.  And now I have a nice new item for my collection.  And we stopped and got my dear husband some clothes for work...and then had dinner at one of our favorite places.  All in all it was a wonderful day after a busy but productive week.

Conference 2012

The beginning of March always marks one of our favorite events: The conference on Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860's in Camp Hill, PA. We spend a couple of days doing workshops that are hand's on and then spend a couple of days attending presentations and lectures by historians and researchers about the material culture of the 1860s.&
This year I took workshops on making personal flags, which were very common especially in the CSA, and also a class on making wristlettes for wearing with any attire but mainly dressy. I also took a class on making weighted pincushions (my pincushion has already come in very handy) and a beautiful belt. I took pictures of those with my phones so I don't have them handy for this post.  I ended up making 3 sets of different wristlettes, two flags, two pincushions, and a belt.  It was a very productive conference for me, though I ended up sewing all the time I was listening to presentations after the workshops had ended.

The biggest problem I encountered this year is that I've gained a bit of weight and when it came time to figure out what to wear for the fancy dress ball, the only thing that I had that fit was this mourning dress. I spent quite a bit of time working on making this silk taffeta dress for an event two years ago but something or other happened and I didn't end up wearing it so I'd never actually had it on.   It was hard enough getting laced into the corset that I've had since about 2005 when I was 30 pounds lighter, but when I went to braid my hair and put it up, the motion of lifting my arms tore out the sleeves from the bodice.  Thankfully some friends were staying in the room next door and were gracious enough to whip stitch me closed.  Luckly I had made a lightweight paletot for the occasion as well.

Here's the back of the paletot...I spent the better part of two years off and on putting the braid on this paletot. It was a lot of work and very frustrating but it ended up coming out nicely.
Here's the silk dress without the paletot, I love the shine and the way the fabric moves. It was a wonderful conference, and as usual, I'm looking forward to next year.