Camping and Scraping

Sorry for the prolonged posting absence! This week has been one of those weeks. Saturday and Sunday were spent working and scraping the house, and Monday-Wednesday  were spent camping on the coast. Now it’s back to scraping and other around the house jobs, but I’m squeezing in some sewing here and there. I actually finished a new dress this afternoon, so hopefully this evening I can grab some pictures of it and post them here. It’ll showcase some of my most recent and most awesome thrifting finds, so I’m excited to show you those too!

But for now, here are a few snapshots of the coastal adventure . . .


Musty and wonderful

Musty and wonderful . . . I think that about sums up an old book. Old books aren’t wonderful until they’re at least a little bit musty, and they should be old and slightly browned and just all around wonderful.

Picking up old books is increasingly a habit of mine. At school, the library often sells unwanted old books for a dollar a piece, and I pick up others here and there. The here and there ones tend to be much more expensive than the $1 books, but I suppose it averages out to a very even price all the same!

This is an old book – 1854. The signature inside belongs to my great grandmother, Laura Wayland. However, thanks to the published date of the book, I think it properly belonged to her mother, Mollie. Sometime I’ll have to show off the tintype I have of her. It’s a beautiful book of sermons and I treasure it especially since it belonged to somebody dear to my family.

Books with signatures are always interesting. This Washington State Fifth Reader belonged to a young fellow named William Watt, who lived in Chehalis, Washington around the turn of the century.

I wonder how he did in it, it’s not exactly easy! This section details reading inflection, using examples from Shakespeare – specifically Hamlet in this section.

For a while I studied Latin, so this book is of particular amusement to me. It’s a 1910s Latin reader, Roman Tales Retold. The Latin is simplified and it contains stories told by Roman authors retold in simpler Latin.

Missionary biographies are an essential of any Christian college’s library, and mine is no exception. The title to this one is particularly tantalizing! The binding is pretty beat up so I’ve never actually gotten around to reading it.

Now for the best part – old medical advice books. Somehow I’ve managed to get a hold of two of these without trying at all! One was given to me and the other was found at my grandparents house. Ironically, one is very scientific and fairly written, from a modern viewpoint, and the other is an absolute mockery of science – even though they were written at the same time!

Despite the rather tenuous theories about how we obtain colds, this is actually the more sane book. They understood bacteria and germs, but illness caused by virus was still a mystery and that’s reflected in this section.

Neurology was also a topic of which they seemed to know little about. Imagine, having a region of feebleness in your brain! They did get the frontal cortex right, but everything else…goodness.

This selection here is from a different book – I’ve done a bit of research on the fellow who supposedly wrote it and he was pretty much a quack medicine doctor. Ironically, we found a bottle from his brand of patent medicine in a turn of the century dump once – for female ailments. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had nothing more than alcohol and flavorings in it, though he does state in his book that he frowns upon the use of narcotics! This page is actually all about the treatment of asthma. Imagine inhaling the smoke of saltpetre . . .

There’s even a testimonial chapter smack dab in the middle of the book. Mrs. McGill looks rather severe, don’t you think?

I’ve got much more that I could share, but in interest of time, and actually getting some sleep, I think I’ll pass on those tonight. A lot of my other books are used as stage props most of the time, when we need old fashioned looking books. I’ve got a pocket German English Dictionary that’s been used in quite a few different shows, always masquerading as a different tome. So I guess the collection itself has come in handy, and it certainly looks nice on my shelf. Eventually, when I’m teaching, I’d like to have a whole bookshelf of sturdy old books that I can use in my classroom. Wouldn’t that be pretty? Until then, however, they make their main appearance on my bookshelf, being hauled around in boxes from home to school and back again, and fairly regularly in different shows!

For more collections, hop over to Elegant Musings, where Casey is hosting a blog tour all about collections!

Chocolate 1940s

I’m honestly not a very big fan of brown. I’m kind of a black girl – don’t know how or why it happened, but it did. I own only black shoes, besides two white pairs and a red pair. I own only black and grey tights. I only own one brown shirt, and no brown skirts.

So this dress is a significant departure for me, color wise! The fabric was my grandmothers – I think it’s a rayon crepe. I discovered it a bag deep within my closet among her other sewing items, and it came with matching lining fabric, seam tape, bias tape and thread. All that was missing was a zipper, and that I was able to find in the stash – it’s even metal!

I used the lining fabric for the belt and bow – I think I need to slip a bit of interfacing or belting into the belt, it wrinkles a bit more than I like on the sides. The bow itself is absolutely fantastic – a wonderful vintage style that I’ve come across once or twice in 1960s dresses.

The pattern is Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1940s Cocktail Dress pattern. Compared with the last VPLL pattern I made, this one had better directions, but the fit was a bit wonky. Instead of having just a bit extra ease (the given size is about 1″ bigger than my own) it was very baggy. I took about 2″ out of the bust and 1″ out of the waist, and the hips were a bit small. The sleeves were also quite baggy, and I took those in – that, however, might be more of a matter of personal preference. The cut of the pattern itself, however, is unique and charming. The unique cutouts on the neckline are fabulous, and worked well in a fairly sturdy fabric.

I changed the zipper from a side opening to a back opening. I’ve got a rather generously sized head (7 1/4 in men’s hat sizes!) and have found that necklines need to be fairly generous if I’m to get them on without smearing lipstick everywhere. That was the fault in my last dress and there’s makeup stains on it now to prove that!

You can also see my newest Goodwill steal here – a pair of Leg Avenue seamed stockings for half off of retail. Perfect for the authentic vintage look, but I still need to work on getting those seams straight!

The pattern suggests at least 2 1/2 yards for this dress. By removing the front drape, shortening the skirt by an inch, having a narrower hem and ever so slightly overlapping bodice pieces, I was able to fit it into exactly two yards of fabric. If I had known that it was going to be too big I could have saved even more fabric! However, squeezing an already economically cut dress into even less fabric really does echo the war time spirit of the 1940s.

It’s been really refreshing to make dresses this fast – this one took only six hours . . . before I had to alter it. Still, it’s record time for me. I’ve just started using a wonderful (free!) time keeping program called Toggl, which allows me to create tasks and track how much time I spend on them each day by simply activating a timer on my computer. It’s great accountability and lets me know how much to charge clients when I do custom work or alterations. I can’t wait to use it during the school year to track how much time I actually spend working on costumes. Hopefully my productivity this week will continue – I’ve got some fabric set aside for skirts, a whole bunch of half made vintage dresses to finish, and some fabric to list on Etsy! Stay tuned for more posts about that – I’m really excited about the fabric I have to offer, and the prices should be good too!

Thirties and Deep Red.

The 1930s hasn’t ever been my cup of tea before, but after getting a bunch of Vintage Pattern Lending Library patterns I decided it was time I had a go with another era. Quite a few 1930s dresses blend in well to a quirky vintage inspired modern closet, and I need some new winter dresses in my closet. (Summer ones, too, but it’s been so cold lately that winter dresses seem applicable!) Looking through my stash I located a fine wool suiting I had purchased from Jo-Ann on clearance years ago – it’s a very small twill, and about the weight of a heavy quilting cotton. Ironically, it’s almost the exact color of one of my Grandpa’s 1930s Chevrolets – so it must be an authentic dress!

I pulled out Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1930s Seven in One Ensemble. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it – high necklines haven’t been my cup of tea lately, and I wasn’t sure about the skirt length and long sleeves. However, in looking at the pattern more I decided that I really did like the cut – it’s unusual and attractive, as well as being very 1930s. Over all it reminded me a lot of the costumes from the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, and indeed, now that I have a dress from the pattern, I do feel remarkably Helen-esque.

The dress itself has a delightful cut – a large bias cut triangle shaped piece forms the majority of the front bodice, and is top stitched to the upper bodice. The skirt has four gores which are also cut on the bias, and I decided to cut the sleeves on the bias as well, to give them a better drape. The skirt was shortened about 4″ above the day dress length as marked on the pattern, and I shortened the sleeves to elbow length. The pattern fits very nicely on my frame and I didn’t make any alterations concerning fit. The only issue might be that the head opening is a bit small – I have to remember not to do my hair into a bun before I pull it on! This could be easily solved, however, with a little 4″ neck zipper.

The belt is made out of a beautiful silk suiting I had left over from another project, and the buckle is vintage. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be making this dress up again in another variation, and perhaps I’ll try my hand at the coat included with the dress pattern. 

Outfit details –
Dress – VPLL pattern – Seven-in-One Ensemble
Hat – Eddie Bauer
Shoes – Twila, by Born.
Jewelry – Christmas gift from my youngest brother.

The calm after the storm

Cousins. Parties. Sun. Sunburns. Water. Swimming. Insanity. Fun. Exhaustion. Good memories

Hopefully posting will return as soon as I have recovered from the above. Five days of seventeen people in a four bedroom house has left me pretty much whooped, and the silence in the house currently (only six of us here now!) is SO QUIET!



Credit - Mudron @ Flickr

It’s the longest running sci-fi show – EVER. It’s campy, it’s silly, it’s scary, it’s British and it’s brilliant. Doctor Who is simply one of the best things in the world, simply because of the magical spark it sets in your imagination. It’s all so probable and so wonderful – and so fantastically inspiring. Anything can happen in the world of the Doctor, and the most recent series are a visual feast. This fan art perfectly captures the magic of the Doctor – timeless and beautiful.

Quotation to be pondered


Right now in life I feel like I am rounding the bend after long hours of paddling in the cold rain to see the lake and the storm rising up ahead of me. I can choose to be afraid and to give up, to become depressed and sink in a bad attitude. But I choose here and now to ride out and meet the challenge, trusting in the One steering me. I will give it everything I have . . . I will do my best and I will find joy and peace in the midst of raging waters all around me.

A friend of mine wrote this. I’m so proud of her. The attitude she presents here is so beautiful and simply put.