Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scrap Quilting in Yellow

My sturdy sewing machine is home from a few weeks at the machine spa getting rehabbed, so it's been a while since I had machine-quilting abilities. The pieced projects piled up in the meantime, and it was fun yesterday to get started on them. First up, because I knew it would be quick, is this baby quilt pieced in cream, yellow, and a tiny bit of gray and rose.

Next up, I will get my nephew's quilt finished. He's been waiting patiently since we worked together on piecing it in July!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vintage Wardrobes for Winter

• A green coat ("She made it the basis of her fall outfit")
• A lovely green wool dress
• A green crepe dress
• A brown wool dress
• A lighter brown silk
• Some "bright blouses"
• A "couple of gay prints for morning around the house"

--Grace Livingston Hill, Homing

• A brown and white tweed suit with a brown velvet collar
• And several blouses to wear with it
• A leaf brown crepe
• An aquamarine blue crepe
• A "few cotton prints for warm mornings, with brown or blue for the predominant colors"
• A lovely brown wool jersey for cool mornings
• A warm tweed coat and a small soft brown felt hat

--Grace Livingston Hill, Spice Box

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pale Blue Bodice

I said I was going to do it, and I've done it. Mostly. I think she needs a shadow panel lining the front skirt.

I made life a little harder than it had to be by (1) using a vintage machine I've never sewn on before, with a (2) fabric that's very sheer and inclined to snag while I (3) added a lining to a dress with facings while (4) including the facings in the form of sewn-in interfacing which I've never worked with before. But, I think I've made it through the forest. Just in time for weather that's too cool for this ice-blue confection.

Well, it will be something to look forward to in spring!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cornbread with Bacon

Every single person in my family asked me today: what smells so good in the kitchen? And I'm sure the cats were thinking it too, even if they kept it to themselves.

What they smelled was me cleaning out the fridge. I had a giant (optimistically, a two-day) pot of soup on the stovetop, with everything in it that needed using up. And then I found one lonely slice of bacon, and made bacon cornbread to go with it.

I fried my little slice in the pan, then took it out to wait. Made up my cornbread batter and poured it in right on top of the bacon grease. Then cut up my bacon and sprinkled it around before baking. Just enough extra fat and salt to make it a good cornbread upgrade.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

At the Motor Inn

The Composer and I were off on an overnight bat. We calculated that it had been seven years since we had gone off alone, (alone meaning without any children). Not counting one overnight where we ran a half-marathon, which wasn't romantic.

So for romance, we chose a straight-out-of-the-fifties motor inn which prided itself on its closeness to a nine-hole golf course. I loved that each of the twenty rooms had its own sitting bench on the walkway, so that every guest had the opportunity to sit and look at the golf course. We got out and played our nine holes the first evening, and the course was absolutely empty except for the bluebirds closing up shop for the night, flying back and forth over the greens.

I hadn't hit a golf ball in twenty years, but so what? It was quiet and beautiful and the fencerows were overgrown with reddening sumac.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Setting Up for Potluck

Maybe I always forget drinks (I do), but at least I have a lot, a lot of plates.

(And some recent good pot luck at the thrift store--witness the copper canister holding silverware. I now possess both the sugar and the flour containers.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blackberry Cobbler

Cobbler is like soup--you need a *plan* more than you need a recipe. Here's how I make the components:

• 4-6 cups of fruit which I cook down a little bit with about a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour, and 1 t. cinnamon. This can be accomplished on the stovetop in a saucepan, or to save a dish, right in the casserole dish but in the oven. You want it to get hot and start to release its juices.

• a batch of biscuit dough with 1/4 c. of sugar added.

Wow, that was easier than pie. Fill a shallow casserole with the hot fruit, blob the biscuit dough on top in a carefree manner, sprinkle with a little extra sugar, and bake as you would for biscuits--just follow the recipe on the baking powder can.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Butterfly Bunting

My thrifted butterflies made the perfect autumn bunting strung on fishing line and looped across the front of a big cabinet. I love how the crocheted versions are doing exactly what they real ones do at this time of year--following each other in a line from north to south over our land as they migrate to Mexico.

I'm not a crocheting expert, and have never actually made a granny square, but these don't look too complicated. They are put together with two squares wrong sides together down the butterfly's body--the front of each square being bigger than the back, and they're stitched to a pipe cleaner in the middle.

If anyone knows how to make these, and wants to share the pattern, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Scalloped Apron from the Forties

From a vintage Simplicity pattern, whose main attraction is of course the scallops.

I love how much engineering went into this pattern. The scallops are lined and slipstitched over the straight bodice panel. The waistband lies free at the top edge, the ties form a bow at the back, the straps cross behind and button to the waistband . . . . nothing is left to chance.

In a sweet tiny rose print cotton. And in the shop.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Back-Wrapping Housedress for the Modern Lady

Here's a beautiful new offering from Colette patterns. I have, as you may know, an ongoing fascination with housedresses, and while this one can be made up very elegantly (see below), it also looks suspiciously like the back-wrapping housedress from the fifties that I've made up for my girls.

Here's the Crepe dress photo from the website. Do not even try to say how gorgeous that printed silk is, okay? But do feel free to tell me where to find it.

I'm expecting my pattern to arrive early next week, where it will land of the very top of my pile of things to sew, so stay tuned.

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Afternoon at the Fair

Daisy had a short list of must-do's at the fair.

Must look at rabbits, of course.

And ideally, we'd watch a pig getting a bath. Check. With ladies' shampoo, which smelled good.

My short list was pretty short. The vegetable display this year was tiny, we had such a hot, dry summer. But there were still beautiful annuals.

And this was the only ride on the list. And the only animal for Daisy was the pink horse. We had to wait for the merry-go-round to go through two extra cycles, to get a turn on that pink horse. But it was worth the wait. I saw it on her face. She was serious about the pink.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gingerbread Man Apron

We're both amazed, Gingerbread Man and I, that he ended up at the thrift store.

After all, he's a certified Master Chef. Says so in rick rack right there on the apron.

The apron which you'll find in my shop.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Scrubbing the Tiles"

"There was something rather satisfying, she found, in scrubbing the tiles of the kitchen floor. The clean, sweet-smelling wetness, which grew as she retreated backwards from it on her knees, delighted her, and although she doubted if anyone would ever notice the result of her labors, she was content with her small reward of a job well done."

--Miss Read, No Holly for Miss Quinn

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Casual Linen Dress: Vintage Simplicity 2617

Recently I've done quite a bit of sewing with linen--since Hancock's had it for half price at the end of the summer. I love it, its beautiful drape, glossy deep colors, and drapey heavy swing.

Here's a dress for Clara from an early 50s pattern, I'd guess. Love the big collar, and the big cuffs which I had to face with a little blue and white plaid when I ran out of fabric. Why does that always happen?

I just love the freedom and elegance she exhibits in these dresses. They show off her tiny waist and she can play her cello in the graceful full skirt. She usually pairs her frock with her beloved leopard-print sneakers and looks so right that I feel the time and effort of sewing for her is so worth it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Felix, the Senior

Giles does a brisk business in senior portraiture over the summer and I was lucky to catch him for Felix over Labor Day weekend. So here's my handsome high school senior boy.

He's on the college search now, with the guidance of the Composer. We do get all kinds of college mailings here addressed to the most hilarious variations on Felix's name--all due to his terrible hand-writing, I just know it. It looks as though he'll be heading for points north or northwest, to study ecology and biology.

And I will keep you posted!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Thrifted Box of Recipes

At first I was drawn to the sweet turquoise design. But then I realized it was full of someone's recipe clippings! And many hand-copied recipes on cards, in beautiful script.

And my favorite feature of all? That "Tuna" has its own section heading. Check out the back right-hand corner.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Chippy Thrifted Lamb

I knew the moment I saw this $1 lamb I'd buy it for the sitting room. My surface thought was that the black and white would go with the black and white checked floor.

Of course, when I got home, I saw that I had already hung this paint by number, and all became clear.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Little Gift Boxes

Somehow I was fully grown before I realized that people gave out favors at parties. Maybe they did it behind my back, and maybe that accounts for why I can never remember to provide them at our birthday parties.

In a fit of optimism several years ago I bought these pretty little favor boxes at Michael's. This summer I finally remembered to pull them out of the closet at Daisy's birthday. A victory of good manners.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Whoopie Pies

Bella keeps making dairy-free whoopie pies after we checked out a library book called Whoopie Pies (yes, I see the connection). And Giles keeps eating two in a row and then groaning that no one should ever eat two at once.

Sorry I don't have a recipe to share . . . but check your library!

Monday, September 06, 2010

"A Successful Housekeeper"

" 'I try to know as much as possible about every article of food and clothing that I buy, and to be sure that I am getting the very best value from Tom's money, but I don't know how to cook or sew or trim hats or embroider. I like friends and babies and outdoor exercise, but I'll confess that I don't like housework.'

'Well, Tom and the children seem to be perfectly contented and happy, and so do you. Therefore, you are a successful housekeeper.'"

--A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband: The Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping (1917), Louise Bennett Weaver

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Clara in Green

A new green linen blouse from a favorite vintage pattern, and one of the silk flowers I brought home from New York.

She's grand!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Strawberry Travel Bag

I picked up the perfect beaded strawberries to show off the little travel bag I stitched from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing, a book I can recommend only for its beautiful styling (trusting seamstresses will find themselves betrayed by its error-ridden instructions).

I had been wanting to make a bag with a shaped, zipped top and this one fit the bill. Interestingly, instead of constructing an exterior and a lining and then joining them, each panel is constructed as a self-contained unit, and then they are joined together and the seam joints are visible (though finished) on the inside. I was somewhat dubious about this method, but realized at the end that it does add extra structure to the bag.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Classic Daisy

Usual Daisy: dainty on the front side, somewhat less so in the back.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What I Did on (What Turned Out to Be) My Summer Vacation

Clara and Felix spent a month in Costa Rica studying Spanish and came back well on their way to fluency. Now Clara's enrolled at the local university in an upper-level Spanish class which will give her 16 hours of credit if she gets at least a C. Go Clara!

Giles spent his two months in New York and learned his way around backward and forward. When I went to visit he took me *everywhere* I wanted to go (hello M & J Trimming! My, that's a lot of velvet ribbon! Hello Purl! Clara sends her love!) And then he took me sailing on the Hudson River. Yes, wow.

We had many many people in and out of our home all summer. A Middle Eastern student with a complicated dental situation stayed with us for a month. Children between homes. Teens whose single parents had to travel. Sad children getting happier.

We kept on running in dreadful heat and humidity. It's like poor man's altitude training. When fall gets here, we are going to be so in shape. Who needs Kenya?

And now, here's to a new season of bearing fruit!

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