Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Projects!

This year, I made both my Mom's and my Sister in Law's Christmas presents. I noticed last year that my Mom really liked the Christmas Quilt I made my Sister in Law; so I thought to make Mom one this year. It's a very, very simple quilt but I really love the look of it - and so did Mom! She said it was her favorite Christmas present and she's been using it almost non-stop. (My brother has really bad allergies and it helps to keep the house cool so the rest of us just bundle up indoors.)

Mom loves cardinals and poinsettias - so those are the main themes of the quilt.  It's a bunch of 8" square blocks that I cut out.  I sewed five of them together to make a line.  I would then place the first line down on the quilt batting (which is something like velcro to cotton quilting fabrics, I swear!) and put the second line upside down on top of the first.  I then sewed down the bottom the line and flipped the second line down to create the first two lines of the quilt.   I hope that makes sense!   It doesn't make for a very neat looking stitched back but it does work really, really well for sewing down all the quilt blocks quickly.   

The back of the quilt is a lucky find - I saw this fabulous winter bird print at Joann's and knew it had to go on the back of Mom's quilt.   It's basically all her favorite birds in an already "quilt block" look.   The edges are a red stripe that matched the stripes in the backing.   

Mom thought this was professionally done until I told her I made it.  :-)  She wasn't sure when I had the time to make it (Grad school & work have been eating up time like crazy!) but it's not a complicated quilt and some of the squares I cut out last year.   

I've been hoarding Christmas remnants from Joann's.  Since Joann's always has at least 50% off their remnants, it makes for a nice, cheap way to get a ton of gorgeous fabrics without spending a ton.  Whenever I saw a fabric I thought Mom might like, I just added it to the "pile".   

The other gift I made was a short cloak for my Sister in Law.  She's been coming to more and more events with me and loves it.   However, last year, I managed to make her dress but not any outerwear.  This year, she wants to wear the same dress - which is perfectly okay- but I figured I'd start on some 18th C esque outerwear. 

The cape is based on 18th C designs.  It's a full circle short cape out of sage green cotton velvet.  I lined it in that flannel backed satin -which, despite being dead dino with a bit of cotton, I love!   It does help to keep warm.   The cape is edged in faux white fur.  Even sewing it, it's the kind you have to come up and "pet" to know that it's not actual rabbit fur.   She loved it.  

...Mom almost stole it.  :-)  Really, if anyone wants a very simple but lovely project to try, I'd recommend an 18th C short cape.  This took a little over a 1 1/2 of fabric.  I pieced together the remnants (scraps) left by the circle to make the hood.  The remnants are vaguely triangular in shape - you just cut them into triangles, sew them together to make squares, and you have the two sides for your hood.  For the back, I saved the scrap from the neckhole of the cape and gathered that scrap around the edge.  I then used it to cover the small hole at the back of the hood.  I've seen this done with other velvets in the 18th C because gathering velvet tightly never looks pretty.  There was a small hole at the back of the hood - where I gathered the back "point" (upper edge, back) - and I covered it with the scrap from the neckhole.   

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Christmas Shirt!


I found this snowman turtleneck shirt at my local thrift store - tags still attached.  I hated the style but I LOVE the print.  It's just snowmen and snowflakes but the print was cute.  Since the shirt was $4, I figured I could "remake" it into something a bit more stylish.  I recut the turtleneck and made it into something much cuter.  
The snowmen print!
The original "Grandma" Turtleneck

I don't like turtlenecks and try to not buy them.  However, I figured I could cut this up and make it into a normalish looking blouse instead.    First, I turned the turtleneck inside out and put it on the dress dummy.

I then drew some lines with my frixion markers to get an idea of where I'd eventually want the lines for the blouse.  I then took the side seams apart, took the sleeves off, and took the lower sleeve seam and sleeve hem apart.  
What it ended up looking like
The new lines marked out

After that, I added gores out of a matching brick red knit and a creamy lace knit.  I bought the material to match at Joanns, on sale.  I think it was about $6 extra.   The gores went into the lower part of the sleeves for a flared sleeve and the sides of the blouse so it would swing out a bit.   I stitched everything back together after cutting out the new neckline and trimming under the arms to make the blouse fit better.  
The end result
Side view so you can see the lace gores

It ended up being both comfortable and rather cute.   I wore it to work today for our Christmas party.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas tree skirt

Mom wanted a new tree skirt with between a 6ft to 8ft diameter.  She asked for it to be either blue or red velvet.  I had both on hand.

Since I had more blue velvet than red, the tree skirt ended up being blue.  Mom said she wanted a plain tree skirt but I can't do plain.  Being a Navy family, I knew at least Dad would appreciate some gold trim on the blue velvet.  I happened to have a ton of gold trim due to a very large bin of trim I bought at an SCA event a few weeks ago for $15.  So, I just used that around the outer edge.

The tree skirt is very simple.  I used the same method to make it as I do for circle skirts.  It took all of 30 minutes to put together.  Mom and Dad love it.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

1860's Plaid Dress

I made this dress years ago, literally. However, this is the first time I got to wear it to an event! Like all first wearings, it has a couple of minor issues but I wanted to show how the original dress looks in comparison to this one.

Here is the link to the one I was basing my gown off of. Below are a couple of the pictures of the dress.  I also used this one as a how-to to do the insides of the dress.  The inside is completely lined in linen.

As you can tell, the plaids are slightly different, but the color match was so good, I had to make this plaid into this dress.  Despite this not being my normal color combo, I really love this dress.  It was too small at the time I made it - I remember trying it on and it being too tight at the waist.  Now, however, it fits perfectly.  Yay!  I have one decent 1860's dress!

I made the sleeves slightly differently due to a lack of fabric.  I had slightly under 4 yards to work with and that meant every last bit counted.  

For some puffiness beneath the skirt, I wore my quilted petticoat.  I could have worn my hoops but: a) driving and hoops are not friends b)it's 34F in the day.  Quilted petticoats are a blessing when it's this cold.

I'm just happy right now that I have at least one thing that is Victorian that fits.  We aren't talking about what happened with the bustle dress I made earlier this year.   I would have worn it but ummm...the bodice fits over my sweater right now while wearing all modern clothing and not corset.   ..,So a new bustle dress is in the future!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

1920's Dress for Christmas Tea

Although the dress came out a little short, I absolutely love it.   This year, for the Christmas Tea, we went to Cairnwood Estate which is absolutely beautiful. Since it's 3 hours away from my house, I decided to take up Jess' suggestion of 1920's because, yes, driving in corsets is not easy. (Even when you now have a fabulous seat heater).


  • Cream/Light Gold Dupioni Silk
  • Small amounts of dusty pink silk as backing
  • A small square of burnout velvet 
  • Pale Pink lace
  • Two pale pink buttons

A few weeks ago at Stephanie's Pumpkin tea, there was a wonderful fabric destash. Carolyn added a very lovely piece of burn out velvet that looked wonderfully art deco to my eyes. It was about a square foot, maybe slightly bigger, but enough to make into a something. When I brought it home and was about to put it away, I realized it went perfectly with this pale pink lace I had out for another project and with some of the creamy light gold silk I got from the big Prism Silks/Golden Silks sale earlier this year (I think? Or was it last year?). I knew it had to be made into a 1920's dress.

Some of the inspiration:

1920's Dress on Etsy

I LOVED the diamonds down the front of this dress. I've seen this in a few others and wanted to replicate it. I only had enough for one diamond at the neckline with the burn out velvet accent, however.

1920s Day Dress

The orange dress had a keyhole accent at the neckline which made me feel comfortable of the idea of having only an accent at the neckline and not down the front of the dress.

The green dress on the pattern here has some trim at about the 3/4 sleeve level.  I saw variations on this in a lot of fashion plates.  I liked the idea of using the lace there and then also using the lace I had on hand at the hem.  

What I did:
I made my own pattern.  1920's is very easy - it's a t-tunic with a small nip at the waist.  I added material at the hip line and...pattern!   Yay!   I drafted my own sleeves as well.

The hard part was getting the diamond to sit properly.  I sewed it down but there was still a "pinch" at the upper neckline.  I covered this with a very thin bow that made the dress.  

It's all machine sewn.  The sides are pleated (think a t-tunic on top of a rectangle but no seam, that was the pattern) and I covered the pleat line with more of the burn out velvet to bring the dress together.

The shoes are a fabulous pair I got on Amazon for about $35.   They fit perfectly (I wear an 8) and they do come in different colors.  I just wanted the black and white for versatility.

The coat is one I made a couple of years ago out of velvet (no idea what the fabric content is on it but I think a bit of silk and rayon?) and marabou feathers.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Making a Fake Fireplace for Christmas Office Decorating

What you will need:

  • A long thin box
  • One of those Science Fair Project boards - I got mine at Staples but any large craft store should have them
  • Brown wrapping paper
  • Red wrapping paper
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • An x-acto knife

First, mark the center of your board. Second, you'll want to draw a T starting with about two thirds down from the top of your board for the top of the T and then just marking the center of the board from the top of the T to the bottom of the board. This is your cutting line for your x-acto knife. Just cut. Then, score the board (don't cut all the way through!) at the edges of the T down to the bottom of the board so you can fold the newly cut flaps back. These will help with stabilizing the fireplace so do not cut them off completely. With the long thing box on top, it should look something like this:

Next, wrap the box and glue the brown paper to the board as well. Make sure you cut it at the edges so it will fold properly.

Now, cut 5"x3" squares out of the red wrapping paper. I ended up using around 60 or so, I think. Glue each of the red paper pieces to the board, cutting as needed, to get the "brick" layout.

It may not be perfect, but it will be sturdy enough to hold some weight.

Merry Christmas!!!