Monday, September 18, 2017

Fingerless Mitts from 1855

1855 or 2017?

I decided to combine my love of knitting with my love of history.  The lace design on the above pictured mitts is from an 1855 issue of Godey's Lady's Book.  Click here to see the book itself.

The basic construction of the mitt is very similar to what we do today.  I made some modifications to the cuff, and in other minor areas, ending up with a modern version of this Victorian accessory.

Photos thanks to Naomi

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Learning Is Slow Going

There's a reason my husband calls me "Molasses".  About the only thing I do quickly is eat cookies.  So...this photography jazz is indeed progressing but doing so at Lori Speed.

A big surprise for me so far is the difficulty I have with product and craft photography.  You'd think it would be a snap, right?  Objects one can place wherever and that stay put should be easy.  You have time to consider some options.  You can mess with lighting.  You can take 40 photos, and the subject doesn't complain.  Perfect.

Yet staging these things seems to be a challenge.  I'm used to using these items, not posing them.  After many, many attempts over a period of days, I managed to get ONE photo I liked of my embroidery project:

I think I need to study more Instagram shots.  How do some of those photographers make the ordinary look so beautiful?!

I've noticed I have better luck with little critters.  They certainly don't stay put, but there's something about Mother Nature my camera likes.  My 50mm lens doesn't hurt either.  Here we have one of my daughter's caterpillars, who she lovingly named Skeeter.

I decided to bring my 18mm into the backyard for some shutter speed practice.  The focus wasn't perfect, but I managed to get this little beauty in flight.  And I got her wings! 

Finally, I turned to my favorite little critter.  I've read I should photograph what I love, and that will end up being my best work.  I suppose then it's no accident that my photos of Lucy always come out beautiful.  (Shot with my 50mm, during her first post-play nap of the day.)

Maybe I should pose Lucy with my embroidery.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June In 4 Photos

Galena, IL

US Grant's front door.
Civil War era quilt

At Elgin's Civil War Days, photo by Naomi

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My First Miette

To go with my vintage strawberry dress, I finally finished knitting this sweet little cardigan.

The pattern is "Miette" by Andi Satterlund.
The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss DK in the Cranberry colorway.

The original pattern calls for a cropped cardigan with some shaping to make it close fitting.  I made the cardigan longer and omitted the shaping, which results in a garment with some ease that flows along the lines of my body.

The simple lace carries around the neckline, along the button band, around each sleeve cuff, and again around the hem.  It's a pretty detail that adds interest to the cardigan without making it too difficult.  I think this is a great example of "less is more" ~ the tiny bit of lace framed by a stockinette body means the design really stands out.

I made the sleeves a bit shorter, as my intention is to wear this with summer dresses.  Plus I liked the way the shorter sleeve visually balanced out the entire garment.

The fabric buttons are made from my leftover strawberry dress fabric.  These buttons did me in!  And they are so easy to make ~  a part of me wants to knit more cardigans just so I have an excuse to make more fabric buttons.

Cute as a button ~ har har.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Celebrating Spring With A New Dress

A new dress, featuring a new pattern!  Finally, I tore myself away from my Simplicity pattern and tried Butterick B6448.

The fabric is Michael Miller's "Bed of Roses, Lily of the Valley" ~ a rich gray background with pretty white flowers.  The gray is deeper than how it is showing up in my photo.

With an empire waist and an 8 paneled skirt, there's plenty of swing to this dress.  I love the way it looks and feels.  Very sweet and flirty.  :o) 

Construction of the dress is interesting, and I must admit that I made some changes.

1)  It calls for the upper body to be lined.  I didn't bother and just created a neckline facing.  With the V-neck, the facing was a little tricky for me as a beginner.  Getting everything to lie nice at the bottom of that V has been some effort.

2)  The sleeve doesn't go completely around the arm hole.  If you don't do the lining, you have to do something about the exposed seams under your arm.  I discovered that as I was pinning my first sleeve.  :oD  Whoops!

3)  The order of the construction has you put the bodice together first, and the skirt second, joining at the waist.  I'm guessing that may have something to do with the bodice being lined, but since I didn't do that, I can't say for sure.

I really like being able to save my side seams as my final two major seams to sew.  That way, I can adjust the fit pretty easily...take it in a little or let it out a little.  I don't think it would be quite that easy if I created that major join at the waist.

Sewing a size 14, the pattern took up most of my 3 yards.

Even with the unruly facing and the slight sleeve hiccup, I love this dress and look forward to making more.  I have mystery fabric I found at our local resale shop up next.  I'm a tad suspicious that it's fabric that was originally purchased to become a tablecloth.  But the drape and feel are so nice, I have to try making it into a dress.

The photo shoot with the teenager was especially fun today!  It was cold, windy, and dreary.  She was not thrilled about being outside with me.  Plus we had some distractions, including neighborly noise that caught my attention.  Of course, that shot ended up being the best photo of the dress.  So here it is ~ a better view of this pattern from the front with a bonus, "WTF was that?!" look from me.

And with that, I leave you with some photo shoot outtakes.  The ones I'm willing to post, anyway.


Really windy.

No wind ~ just a bad model.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

You Never Know What's Coming For You

That line from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has always stuck with me.  And I for one never thought I'd enjoy taking pencil to paper.  I can't draw.  I've never taken a single class.  I can barely make a smiley face.  Yet here I am, looking forward to those quiet mornings and evenings when I can sit with my pad of paper and practice sketching different designs that will hopefully become hand stitched embroidery.


Don't get me wrong ~ these are simple, simple drawings.  But they are mine, and I can bring them to life with needle and thread.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Week In Four Photos

My first hand designed and embroidered project

Great Grandma's tea cup from the 1940s

A path taken in the woods.

The sighting of Union boys

Hope your week went well.  :o)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Union Blue ~ My Windham Fabrics Dress

♪ The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah! ♫

Still on the hunt for great quilting cottons that can be used as dress fabric, I did some searching on the net.  I found a couple of conversations among those who, like me, can't resist the call of these beautiful prints.  The general consensus:  Both Michael Miller and Windham Fabrics had decent enough drape to kinda sorta get away with being made into dresses.

Okay, that's not a firm, "Yes, this brand is practically apparel fabric!", but I don't think anyone is expecting that at this point.  Not from me anyway.  I'm still trying to figure out how to sew a nice hem.

The Conclusion:  Not a huge difference.  This dress feels a lot like my other quilting cotton dresses.  So still pretty.  Still wearable.  Still not even close to apparel fabric.

Some Details:

I have both Windham and Michael Miller in stash, and I chose to work with Windham first.  The design is from the Threads of Time collection, unceremoniously named "Blue 39731-4".  I'm calling my dress "Union Blue" because of reproduction fabric look, and because the little Vs remind me of the chevrons worn on the sleeves of Civil War soldiers to identify rank.  Also, my great great grandfather was a Union soldier.  :o)

Though I still love this dress pattern (Simplicity 1537), I wanted to see if I could modify the neckline.  This was a team effort because though the modification was my idea, my husband is the one responsible for drawing it nicely.  I needed a perfect curve but couldn't draw one to save my life.  He's a woodworker and quite good at curves.  I figured asking him would be the right thing to do, and sure enough, within seconds he had drawn the perfect neckline.

We did this first on tracing paper, then on muslin, so I now have an alternative neckline bodice pattern piece for this particular dress.

Another first:  I chose to hand sew my zipper.

I have to say ~ I think I like hand sewing zippers!  Maybe it's because I was a quilter first and did much of my work by hand, but I loved taking my time and stitching it in place.  I felt like I had more control over the process, I could get into small areas easily, and the fact that the dress is nearly done by this point reminded me of that great feeling of sewing on a quilt binding.  It's the last step of a long job well done.

The zipper isn't really my last step, but it's close!  And the feeling is still good.  :o)