Thursday, April 23, 2015

18th Century Boy's Breeches Progress

I made a ton of progress on  my son's 18th century breeches today. If I had worked exclusively on them from morning to night, I'm pretty sure I could have finished them in one day.

I have to say I am in love with Mill Farm Patterns. The patterns themselves are so simple and straightforward. Sometimes the directions could use a little more detail, but she is really good about walking you through each step. The breeches pattern uses letters to match up all the different places that need matching (there are a LOT), and I really like that system. Dots and double dots or arrows or whatever just don't cut it for me. I also have to sing the praises of the pockets on this pattern. They have been the least painful pockets to sew - ever!! I don't know if they turned out exactly right since I don't have an expertly finished pair of breeches in front of me, but for the first time using this pattern and my only 2nd time putting in pockets, I think they're pretty good!

I'm so excited for my son to wear these breeches. Realistically, I don't think I'll have his shirt made in time for this weekend's event, but he's okay with wearing his Civil War shirt. *sigh* Oh well! I'm glad he's so laid back about it. I shouldn't let myself be tortured by my own expectations. :-)

Here are some pics:
Front of breeches with the fall front up

It's my first fall front, people!! Ain't it exciting?!?!?!

They're so cute!!!
I can't believe they actually look the way they're supposed to!

Right from the beginning, I really felt like I was going into this pattern blind and just had to trust in the directions. She didn't lead me astray, so I'm one happy sewing mama! No, they're not perfect, but heck, they look like PANTS! Woo! I hope to have them done by tomorrow (read: MUST have them done). haha!

I can't wait to go to the event on Saturday! Yay!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Project 12: Sewing - 18th Century Girl's Gown

At last! I finally finished the project for March - an 18th century girl's gown for my 5 year old daughter. The dress itself wasn't too difficult to sew. I just kept getting distractions - namely the novel I'm working on! That's been sucking away a lot of time and it's hard to focus on more than one major project at a time.

I have to say I'm very pleased with how this dress turned out! The fit on her is just right and I'm so glad I nailed the length! Whew! I'd say the hardest part of the dress was that front point. I had to tack the bodice down to the skirt with the pleats put in already. I've done this before when it was a straight line for my 1860s dresses, but never a point! Man, it was tedious! I was paranoid about not getting the bodice to lay down flat - that it would bunch up or something. I went really slow and pinned everything down extra well, even fitting it on her and pinning just to make sure.

The only weird thing I might need to fix is the back. I only had velvet ribbons to tie the back, so some linen tape is on my list of things to buy at the Market Fair. I'll need to add another tie to the very bottom so the big gap in the back doesn't show.

Now all she needs is a cap and a petticoat and she'll be set! :-)

My little girl loves her dress and that's always a relief! I really loved this linen the first time I found it. It has a beautiful color - like a natural green dyed linen, and the feel is lovely and finer than most linens you can find at JoAnn Fabrics. I had been saving it for a dress for me, and I might have enough left, but I think it worked very well for my daughter's dress. The color is so good with her red hair too. And that makes me happy! Sometimes it's hard finding the right colors for red-heads (trust me - I have 3 red-heads to buy clothes for!).

For April's project I need to make my 8 year old son's shirt and fall front breeches. I've got all the fabric. I just need to bust out the patterns and get to work. I only have a week left!! My only sadness is that I don't think I have a waistcoat pattern for him yet, so strictly speaking he'll be running around undressed! Aack! :-)

Here are some more pictures of the dress modeled by my cutie pie!
Back with ladder bows.
The pattern suggested this as a closure - just so you know I didn't make it up! 
I never would have thought to do it this way, but I like it!
I think it will look better with a green or dark brown linen tape, though.

Close up of the front of the dress. You can see her shift showing, which is good.
She'll need the sun protection!
Haha! I love her expression!

Side view

An appropriately serious expression for an
18th century girl posing for her portrait!
I love her little shoe peeking out. :-)

March's Project
Clothing: 18th century girl's gown
Pattern: Mill Farm Patterns (purchased from Burnley & Trowbridge)
Fabric: 100% linen, cotton thread, velvet ribbons (soon to be replaced with linen tape)

P.S. It's my dream to dye my own fabrics, ribbons, and tapes. Even to get a tape loom and weave my own tape! It just sounds like so much fun! For me, it's kind of like the 18th century version of that rubber band magic loom trend that's waning right now. Haha!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Joy of Cooking - 1946 & a Recipe

My cute little WWII ration cookbook collection!

I've had another recent, fun addition to my rationing cookbook collection! I was browsing at my favorite used book shop, WonderBook, when I came across this The Joy of Cooking edition, published, I believe, in 1946. While it is one year after the end of WWII, it had the most interesting preface from their 1943 edition! (I wish I could find that edition too!) I'm not sure why it's included in this copy in this way, and it's not very clear what the 'emergency chapters' refer to, but it's still interesting.

In this preface it states, "When the revision of this book was begun a year ago we had no intimation that international obligations would lead our land of plenty to ration cards. It now goes to print with a number of emergency chapters added, written to make the difficulties that beset the present-day cook.
"It has been a pleasure to compile this record of our American way of life. Tradition speaks to us in its pages, a tradition of plenty which should always be ours, and which will be, with the intelligent use of our mighty weapon, the cooking spoon."


 From what I can see the 'emergency chapters' they refer to that aid the wartime home cook might be "Invalid and Convalescent Cookery", "Recipes and Suggestions for Left-Over Foods", "Suggestions for Streamlined Menu-Making", "Streamlined Menus", "Health Chart", "Vitamin Chart", "Calorie Chart", "Menus". It's just not really clear. The real way to tell would be to find the earlier edition, before 1943 and compare. Sounds like a fun, sleuthing job!

On another note, as I need to bake or cook different things, I've been trying to turn to my ration recipes first. For example, a few weeks ago I got a bunch of strawberries on sale and wanted to make Strawberry Shortcake. I usually use my '90s edition of Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but this time I found a recipe in my 1944 H-for-V booklet. It turned out quite delicious and some of the best shortcake I've ever made!

Basic Special Shortcake
1944 Year 'Round Edition
Westinghouse Health for Victory Cookbook

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Happy 155th Anniversary Pony Express!

Today is the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express.

American Western history was never really my thing, but one aspect that always captured my fascination was the Pony Express. It's so incredible how the mail, newspapers, and packages could be transported so quickly (in as little as 10 days) across such a vast distance from Missouri to California using pony riders. It was a short-lived service, lasting only 18 months, but what I love most is that the Pony Express was on the cusp of drastic changes and availability of technology like the Transcontinental Railroad completed in 1869 and the widened use of the telegraph. It filled a need for the expanding country, serving as stop gap before available technology caught up.

For all of those far out lonely western settlements, having a service like that was important. And while the short-lived Pony Express may not have had a big impact like the railroad, it's still good to think about and remember the incredible risk those riders took so the western settlements, cities, and states could feel connected to the rest of the country.

I wish I could say "Hug a Pony Express Rider (or a pony) Today!", but we're a bit too late for that. At least raise a glass of something to the Pony Express - the most thrilling and dangerous postal run in U.S. History!

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Draft is Done! Woo!

Well, I finally finished the first draft of my WWII historical fiction novel! I was like a crazy person by the end, because I was so close and I kept getting all these interruptions and I just had to finish already!!! Man, that last stretch is brutal sometimes.

I started my book in August of 2014, and considering I'm a homeschooling mom with church duties, book group, writer's group, and other stuff - it's amazing that I got it done in 9 months! I feel incredibly grateful and humbled, because I know it came at the sacrifice of other things in my life. My family is so wonderful and supportive! And my awesome cheerleader and fellow writer besty, Mairi, really helped see me through with all her enthusiasm, encouragement, and feedback.

I wish I could say more about the book itself, but I feel it's truly a unique story and want to wait until I have it published to talk about it. What I can say is that it's set in a fictional town in Indiana, my beautiful home state. I've always wanted to set a book in Indiana, so this makes me really happy! Indiana had a great role in WWII! One of the most fascinating things I discovered in my research is that recently some Nazi airplanes were discovered buried at Freeman Airfield near Seymour, IN. What an amazing find, and it makes you wonder what Nazi planes were doing all the way out in Indiana! You can read the article about it here.

There is still a lot of research to continue doing as I smooth out this first draft before sending it to my awesome beta readers. And then I can launch into the 2nd draft. Hopefully, I'll only need to have a 2nd draft and not a 3rd or 4th! :-p

Wish me luck!